2008 Cline Ancient Vines Zin

I bought this wine on somewhat of a lark as I was walking through Costco. I’ve had their wines before and I am on their mailing list. I’d just read an email for them talking about a new release of theirs when I noticed that there was a Cline wine on the shelf across the aisle from me.

  • Wine: Ancient Vines Zin
  • Price: ~$18
  • Vintage: 2008
  • Varietal: Zinfandel
  • Winery: Cline
  • Origin: US, California, Sonoma-ish
  • Alcohol: 15%

I hadn’t had a Cline wine in quite some time, and it had been much longer since I’d had a zin. I was quite please on both accounts. The wine was very very dark, had nice long legs, and a nice peppery finish.

It was paired with grilled steaks, sauteed mushrooms, and roasted fennel and it went quite well together. This wine was a return to Cline cellars to me. I’d tried several of their offerings  several years ago and wasn’t particularly wowed at the time. This bottle was a quite good. I plan on purchasing a few more bottles. I’d rate this wine a B-/B.

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2008 Cellar No. 8

This wine was a surprise find at Harris Teeters this week. The wine was on an end cap near the express lane registers and the price was right. I’d never actually heard of the wine before but this blog provides me with an excellent excuse to buy random wines and try thing.

  • Wine: Cellar No. 8
  • Price: ~$8
  • Vintage: 2008
  • Varietal: Merlot
  • Winery: Asti Winery
  • Origin: US, California, Sonoma-ish
  • Alcohol: 13.8%

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this wine. I usually have very mixed luck grabbing a random red off the shelf, especially if I wander away from Cabs or Merlots. I’m quite happy to say that this Merlot did not disappoint. The wine is very dark, almost black and showed surprisingly long legs. It had that earthy taste that I’ve learned to identify as Merlot and offered a peppery quality to it.

It was paired with cumin laden spice rubbed grilled chicken, grilled (burnt) asparagus, grilled zucchini and it went with the foods perfectly. Later the rest of the bottle fell quickly to the accompaniment of some very dark (72%) chocolate. In the hour or two between dinner and desert, the wine stood perfectly well on its own.  I liked this wine. I’ll be buying more of it, especially at that price. I’d rate it a very nice B.


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2008 Paradise Springs of Clifton

I have a general dislike of Virginia wines. I keep trying them in hopes that some day I’ll like what is produced by my local wineries, but every time I do I’m usually disappointed. This time I was pleasantly surprised.

  • Wine: Paradise Springs of Clifton (it was unclear, there was no snazzy name on the bottle)
  • Price: ~$20 (maybe? I wasn’t present when it was purchased)
  • Vintage: 2008
  • Varietal: Cabernet Franc
  • Winery: Paradise Springs of Clifton
  • Origin: US, Virginia
  • Alcohol: 13.5%

So the first sip of this wine screamed to me that it was a Virginia wine. I’m not sure what it is about those wines but I can pick out the Virginia reds in a taste test without much of a problem. The wine itself was very light red and looked pretty thin, not what I usually like but it still worked. The wine itself tasted a touch sweet and had strong hints of fruit but was very light and lacked any particular or distinct flavors. It just tasted like a Virginia red to me.

We opened this wine early before dinner and consumed it while cooking. As such it was consumed with some cooking munchies such as aged smoked gouda (it went surprisingly well with), fresh mozarella (it went less well with) and then other random bits from the preparation of our typical grilled flank steak and grilled vegetable dinner. I think I even tried it with several of the tater tots that were made for the picky eaters in the house (don’t try that).

So as to rating, its easily the best Virginia wine I’ve had, but it wasn’t fantastic. Perhaps I paired it wrong, didn’t let it breath long enough, or the moon was in the wrong phase. I’ll definitely try it again, maybe at the winery this time, or with some of my wine drinking friends who have just recently moved to the area. Maybe I’ll take them to the winery and have it there. Overall I rate this wine a C+, and a B+ as a Virginia red.


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2008 Coppola Claret

This week I will review the most frequently consumed wine at my house.

  • Wine: Claret
  • Price: ~$13 @ Costco
  • Vintage: 2008
  • Varietal: 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petite Verdot, 5% Malbec, 3% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc (from Coppola’s website. I only wish I could taste that well…)
  • Winery: Coppola
  • Origin: US, California
  • Alcohol: 13.5%

We originally tried this wine at the winery back in the early 2000s. It was good and reasonably priced so we bought a few bottles there and stored it for later. A few years later we noticed that it was carried in the local grocery store and when I found it at Costco, we started drinking it regularly. My favorite feature about this wine is that practically every bottle of Claret that I’ve opened has tasted exactly like every other bottle. Even across vintages. The consistency is amazing. The wine itself is very smooth, no taste of oak despite being aged in French oak, no heavy tannins, hints of fruit, some might taste hints of tobacco or chocolate. I can catch those on the rare occasion depending on what I’m eating.

As to pairings, I’ve had this wine with everything ranging from picnic sandwiches, steak, chicken, pastas, and even with a bowl of ice cream. I’ve used it to cut the heat on both Mexican and Thai food as well as chase a sweet rack of ribs. It really goes with pretty much anything in my opinion. Well, the exception to that may be a light or delicate fish with a lemon butter sauce. And technically it goes quite well on its own at the end of a long day. As to my rating, I think its a solid B and its affordability is a very nice added bonus.


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1998 La Vita Red Table Wine

Welcome back. This week’s wines are bottles that we had on hand. As such they will be more expensive than the wines that I had originally intended on reviewing.

  • Wine: La Vita
  • Price: ~$50? It was 11 years + too many bottles ago, who remembers these things…
  • Vintage: 1998
  • Varietal: “Proprietary Italian Blend” – Nebiollo + others most likely
  • Winery: Regan Estate Vineyards / Bargetto Family Estate
  • Origin: USA, California
  • Alcohol: 13.9%
  • Rating; unknown

We purchased the 1998 La Vita when touring the Regan Estate Vineyards back in 2000. It has been moving with us from house to house over the last decade and spent the last 5 or so years resting in a wine fridge. We noticed it last weekend when it was attempting to hide behind some whites. It was promptly uncorked and consumed. Ever notice that the good wines try to hide in various parts of your house, wine rack, and places you put special bottles of wine for special occasions and then promptly forget?

So we were originally suspect of a wine this old that hadn’t spent the last 12 years in the best of conditions, and fully expected it to be corked. Thankfully our fears were unwarranted. When I poured the wine into the glass I was happy to see a nice deep burgundy color and a complete lack of any signs of spoilage. The wine itself had no overpowering smells, had a delightful earthy smell to it and the slightest smell of oak. It tasted equally pleasant, woody with peppery overtones. There wasn’t much tannin to it, which I tend to prefer but you can’t win them all I suppose.

As to the pairing, we had grilled flat iron steaks with a strong soy/honey mustard marinade and grilled peppers for dinner with that wine. The wine had a sufficiently strong flavor to easily cut through the honey mustard tastes while not being at all overpowering. If I could get my hands on a few more bottles of the 1998 wine I would readily try to do so. I can’t vouch for what the current vintage tastes like but I liked the bottle I tried and would rate that particular year an easy B.


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