The online home of Mark “The Cork Head” Stuart, Certified Wine Professional, speaker/educator, judge, and columnist.

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February 2018
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2007 Dry Creek Vineyard Russian River Valley ChardonnaySCORE: 93


I really wasn’t in the mood to blog tonight, but when I opened and tasted the 2007 Dry Creek Vineyard Russian River Valley Chardonnay I just had to sit down and pound out  a few paragraphs!

I must admit that I’m a RRV chardonnay honk, as I much prefer the characteristics that come out of this AVA’s best vineyards over her sometimes more heralded Napa and Carneros bretheren.  However, I’ve had more than my fair share of really bad RRV chards before too. Read More

2007 Bonterra Viognier, Organically GrownSCORE: 90

2007 Bonterra Viognier:

If the sensual texture isn’t enough to make you smile, the beautiful perfumed nose of orange blossom, apricot, and beeswax certainly will. A strong impression of stone minerality comes forward on the palate, making this wine act like a squeaky clean “old world” viognier.

Die-hard chardonnay fans typically find a bottle of viognier in front of them at some point and are amazed at how delicious they are.  Bonterra consistently produces a superb quality example, and an organic one to boot.  Read More

2006 Kenwood Zinfandel, Jack London VineyardSCORE: 92

2006 Kenwood Zinfandel, Jack London Vineyard:

Characteristic ripe and under-ripe red berry aromas come together with the subtle use of oak and seasoned with a hint of clove spice. Tannins and acids are slightly elevated, but in balance contributing to a fuller body style.

Zinfandel ranks only behind cabernet sauvignon among red varietal plantings in California, with single vineyard Sonoma zins among the most important.

Try with a honey glazed ham dotted with clove and be very, very happy.

14.5% alcohol, 92 points.

I’ve seen this wine a number of places, including BevMo and Costco, priced between $15-$20.

2007 Girard Chardonnay, Russian River ValleySCORE: 91

2007 Girard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley:

When chardonnay stays away from the heat of the Napa Valley it retains an entirely different character. Acidity, oak, and fruit harmonize into a beautiful example of why the Russian River Valley is arguably the most important region for this varietal in the United States. Read More

Big House Wine 2008SCORE: ??

Big House Red

Big House Red

So I just got through tasting and reviewing the three Big House wines that were sent to me by the distributor.  While writing my tasting notes a different thought process rolled through my head.  Let me explain…

A few years and beers ago my pal Dale, the bartender at Latitude 32 Grill and Pub in Pacific Beach, CA recanted a story from the previous night where a well dressed woman sashayed through the door of this neighborhood pub and asked to see the wine list.  Ever the clever lad Dale is, he went back to the office where he scribbled in large permanent marker three words on a coctail napkin.  “RED”, “WHITE”, “PINK”.  I don’t think she’s been back.

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2008 Dashwood Sauvignon BlancSCORE: 92

This wine screams “Hey, I’m from Marlborough, New Zealand!”

Lime, passion fruit, and grapefruit flavors abound, plus the obvious and outrageous Marlborough grassiness and a hint of white pepper on the finish.  The fruit and non-fruit features integrate seamlessly in what is an excellent example of the NZ style of sauvignon blanc.

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2008 Yalumba Y Series ViognierSCORE: 89

I’ve been drinking the 2008 Yalumba “Y” Series Viognier all summer. 

It features a sublime texture, flavors of white peach and honey with a little dried apricot in the background, all supported by a pleasant minerality often reserved for old world and higher priced wines.  Chardonnay lovers looking for a change of pace will appreciate the lanolin-like texture, and certainly notice the hightened aromatics this wine provides. Read More

2006 Juan Gil, Jumilla Red WineSCORE: 91

2006 Juan Gil, Jumilla Red Wine, $16

Above average in weight with firm tannins that don’t overpower the wine. Very complex and complementary aromas of grilled plums, Bing cherries and game surrounded by a backbone of fresh herbs and a hint of blackberry. Bright fruit comes alive on the palate exacerbating the blackberry and plum notes, followed by a lasting finish of fruit and lingering barrel spice. 14.5% alcohol, 91 points. Read More

2006 La Capilla SyrahSCORE: 91

La Capilla 2006 Syrah, Paso Robles:  $36

This massively structured, full-bodied syrah explodes in the mouth with baked cherry, green peppercorns and gentle whisper of scorched earth minerality. The magically integrated tannins carry the flavors on and on where sweet vanilla shows up to complete the 20-second finish. Grill up a rib-eye steak with Montreal seasoning and enjoy!  14.5% alcohol, 91 points

-The Cork Head