17 January, 2011

Wine Animals

I am totally guilty of buying wines whose labels display cute animals, especially dogs. There was the Papillon Willamette Valley Pinot Noir that Trader Joe's used to sell whose label was adorned with the cutest brown and white Papillon. And I could not resist "Pug Wine" Pinot Noirs from Sonoma County. But I am now tasting a whole new world of wines with new animal mascots.

#1: Mosel Riesling Qualitatswein 2009 Zeller Schwarze Katz
This is the "Black Cat" wine they sell at Cost Plus World Market, and just in time for Halloween. Before I review this wine I must admit that I know very little about German Rieslings and cannot decipher the German label. All I know is that the vintage is 2009 and that it comes from the Mosel region. But I am not gonna let that stop me so here is the review: Light gold in the glass with some effervescence. The palate is medium-sweet with high acidity. Nose is green apple (not cat piss hahaha!) with some yeasty and minerally notes. Is it good for a German Riesling? I don't know. I don't drink them but I think this wine is well-made for $10 and I certainly did not spit it. If you like sweetish, light, fruity whites then I would say go for it. The Black Cat would be a great match for spicy Thai curries. Plus the sleek feline-shaped bottle will one day make a lovely vase. Meooooowwwww...

Wine #2 - The Wild Duck
2008 Canard Sauvage Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel
Trader Joe's has done it again. A delicious $10 Zinfandel.

I see a gorgeous dark purple core with a magenta rim. I smell muddled black raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries with a whiff of black cherry liquer. The palate is medium-bodied, with low tannins, and a blackberry linger on the palate.

Unfortunately the 2008 vintage is gone. The palate was more complex than the younger 2009. It also had higher alcohol (15.5%) making it hot, hot, hot. The 2009 alcohol content is a little lower at 14.5% and the palate is younger but the nose is very similar to the 2008.

The winery actually bills this wine as "better than most at this price point" and I am not about to argue with that. Try the 2009. I think you will pleasantly surprised.

Wine #3: And the winning animal is:
2006 Running Tiger Syrah

Okay, this is not a $10 bottle of wine you will find at the Supermarket(it is $32.) This wine is sold in fine restaurants and wine shops all over California. I first tried this Syrah at a winemaker dinner at Pican restaurant in Oakland, CA. where they specialize in Southern cooking and BBQ.

Running Tiger Syrah is made by vintner Daniel Bryant who specializes in Syrah and he has made a 2004 and 2006 bottling. The fruit for each vintage is from Dry Creek Valley. We tried the 2006 vintage and it was as sleek, unique and as graceful as a tiger.

Daniel describes his wine as a "bite of plum, hint of vanilla, a sip of smoke and pinch of white pepper." I also detected a nice mocha note and this rich Syrah is defintely a wine to pair with bbq.

Visit their website at www.runningtigerswine.com.

Winemaker Daniel Bryant

So tell me, what is your favorite wine animal?