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Slurping Around with P.D.W. February 2012

                    Hi, Gnarly Dudes (see below).

Sadly, things are on the up and up. Wine prices, I mean. Used to be, you could get a quite decent cabernet for $10. Same quality is now $15. A really drinkable cabernet used to be $20, now $30. And the “name brands” will cost you

$50 +++++. So my column is having to reflect those trends. The fact that I am listing ever higher priced wines is therefore not due to a drift in my criteria, it is precisely due to adherence to those criteria.

But let me start you off with some not so bad news: Based on the tasty Crane Lake 2010 petite sirah I told you about last month, we went out and bought one bottle of every varietal they make. Five whites, one pink, and three other reds. Got a discount of 10 percent as a result, making them $2.70 each. That’s almost in the Two Buck Chuck universe. Here I tell you about the whites, next time the reds.

White wines:

2009 Crane Lake Sauvignon Blanc, California $3. Bad stuff. Dirty, sulfurous and good only for cleaning mineral deposits off surfaces like teeth, glasses, and drains.

2010 Crane Lake Chardonnay, California $3. Actually quite drinkable. An excellent party wine when you have large numbers of enological newbies attending. It is simple, but clean, citric/apply in flavor, but balanced in acidity, light in oak, and dry on the finish.

2010 Crane Lake Riesling, California $3. Started off with a little “wet socks” nose (meaning a bit of sulfur smelling truly like woolen socks out of the washing machine). This blew off. The palate was better; lemon and floral notes. It lacked the characteristic kerosene element that makes this grape interesting. It was also quite sweet, but because the acid was not high, this wine is OK only when drunk really cold. But then it is actually drinkable if you like sweet Riesling.

2011 Crane Lake Gewurtztraminer, California $3. This wine was quite clean, with a sweet floral nose and palate and a touch of the spiciness associated with the grape. Nice flavors of peach/lime/apricot. If the Riesling was sweet, this was very sweet, but again, drunk cold, it had enough acid to cope. Ya gotta like sweet.

2011 Crane Lake Moscato, California $3. If the prior wine was very sweet, this one was very, very sweet. However, the fruit was clean, floral and intense, and drunk cold……

2010 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand $13. This wine appears in this column every year. This vintage is unmistakable NZ SB. It probably was better a year ago. Right now it seems a bit overripe with herbaceous gooseberry but a dry grassy edge to stop it from being cloying. Nonetheless, very tasty, with good acid, and a nice, clean, passionfruit finish. I include one non-Crane Lake on the off chance that you might argue Crane Lake is not really wine.

Red wines:

2009 Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma $15. This wine has a forward blackberry/blackcurrant nose, and a fruit-driven dark berry palate. There is a touch of herbalness (that’s OK). It has excellent structure with medium tannin and good acid.

2009 Ancient Peaks Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles $13. Rents are lower in Paso, which explains the $2 lower price…..I think. The nose is intense with lots of dark berry fruit. This is a rich, extracted wine with ripe, almost jammy fruit. (Almost jammy is good; jammy is bad). Medium oak and tannin and balanced acid, blackberry fruit and good length.

2010 Mollydooker “Two Left Feet” red blend, South Australia $22. I don’t recall the label indicating the blend, but who cares. At 16 percent alcohol you would forget it anyway. The nose is forward with plums and vanilla and seems very fresh. The palate is lush, with dark plum, and some vanilla/caramel. Acid is balanced, tannins soft, length is good, and there is touch of heat (ethanol) at the end. But who cares? Not me. Yum.

2010 Two Hands Shiraz “Gnarly Dudes”,  Barossa Valley, South Australia $22. Don’t know whether I would prefer being labeled as having two left feet or as a gnarly dude, but who cares (there is a theme here). Almost 15 percent alcohol, this wine has a gnarly nose of dark berry, earth and oak. A gnarly palate too, with tons of ripe dark fruit. There is a bit of gnarly forest floor (the elitist version of earthiness). It is a big, extracted, gnarly wine with lots of gnarly balance and gnarly length. Dude, try some.

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