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.