Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Drive By Reviews

As previously noted I drink wine all the time, every day, any chance I get. My only other choice of alcohol is beer while watching sports in a bar, something that I will do this coming Thursday as UCLA plays its first NCAA Championship Tournament game at 4:30 and I must watch the Bruins, probably at Barney's in Santa Monica. Go Bruins!

Anyway, I have stray partial notes from five or six wines consumed over the last month or so and, instead of featuring only one wine around a theme of the moment, I thought to mix things up and give snap shots of a couple of pleasant tastings. Here you go with two of them:

Kaena Wines 2003 Grenache Camp 4 Vineyards, Santa Ynez Valley. This Rhone varietal clocks in at 14.9% alcohol (I wish they were more precise!) and a minor claim to fame is the fact that the winemaker lived in Hawaii, which accounts for the Hawaiian name and its label's floral design. Couple of points here; living in Hawaii teaches you nothing about winemaking, period. Kaena Point is actually a very spiritual place in the hierarchy of ancient Hawaiian beliefs, serving as a sort of gateway to the spirit world and such. "Ka'ena" means to boast or glorify. I guess I don't see the connection to wine.

Anyway, Laube applauded a recent Kaena release so I suspect that the winery has some traction. I bought this particular choice through the Santa Barbara Futures program a few years ago for around $24 a bottle. I've taken a bottle to one of our neighborhood dinners and the guzzlers gave it a thumbs up so it passed that test at least. Only sparse notes, probably due to someone shouting "DADDY!" mid sip. Lots of dark red fruit, like raspberries, a bit tart and gamy, missing the loam and leather from a better Rhone but quite drinkable, perhaps at a BBQ. "Truly handcrafted wines" on the back label is irritating; did he grow the grapes in the cupped palms of his hands?

Rating: very good, so-called Hawaiian link and label hype aside.

Sometimes I buy wines for on a whim, stash them in a corner and don't come across them until months later, usually by accident. I like Amarone well enought though I don't have a very good food match for it. I enjoy the wines from Masi, at least the ones I can afford. I just have no idea when or why I bought more than one bottle of the Masi Costasera Amarone Classico 2001, and I'm not sure how much I paid of course though I suspect it was low $40s. What do you do with Amarone, esp. a young one? Drink a glass here and there I guess; this is more a sipper than a gulper, esp. at 15% alcohol which I suspect is a plug and that we're talking 16%+ here, given the heat it throws off. Nose of raisins and blackberries, dense and chewy mid-palate, bitter chocolate finish with a bit of a hot, rustic edge.

Rating: Good.

Cheers, Barrld

4 comments:

sue said...

What's up with the Hawaiian connection....... is that the only claim to "fame".. is this star fruit wine?? No kidding that is made on the Big Island...... One shaka on da label?? sorry nothing smart to comment... just unsure of what Hawaii has to do with it? Is it bad wine and they needed a hook?

Barrld said...

sue, check out the website "story" on Kaena and the winemaker. Knowing what we know about da kine this is pretty bogus.

http://www.kaenawine.com/story.html

foodwinefreak said...

Well not that anyone will reach this long after the last post-

It is simple. I know this guy. He is from Hawaii and has worked like a dog in Napa and Santa Barbara starting as a harvester has left Beckman vinyeards 2 years ago, went to Fess Parker and Beckman just hired him back as head winemaker. He has focused soley on wine for years. When he says truly hadcrafted wines he means no bs winery off brand. He buys, harvests, crushes, blends, bottles himself. All by himself.
These are quality wines no bs.
Ratings aside this is the real deal.

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