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 Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Napa ValleySCORE: 93

So I was wasting a little time at the Vons grocery store in Pacific Beach last week and came across the 2007 Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley.

Like most winos I know, we are all suckers for a fairly priced Napa wine, and get especially excited when it is from the famed 2007 vintage.  So, I plunked a couple of them in my 10% discount 6 pack carrier and headed for self checkout.

It isn’t often I use the word “lovely” when describing cabernet sauvignon, but in this case it absolutely fits.  It offered a sound structure for mid-term cellaring, but was soft enough around the edges to please right now.

Over the 2 hours I tasted it, the wine  provided twists and turns as to what it predominantly offered…all I can ask from a bottle priced under $20!

I guess my palate still has it, as I see Wine Enthusiast gave it 93 points.  Certainly one of the best deals around.

Quality, complexity, and varietally correct.  Pick some up and confidently enjoy!

2009 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa ValleySCORE: Gold

2009 Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

It has been a while since I have had time to post about some of my favorite wines of the year, and I’m glad to have a little now before Monday Night Football to post about what may qualify as my go-to cabernet for 2011.

The folks at Folsom and Associates, the marketing arm for Robert Mondavi Winery, sent me this one a few months ago to give it a test run.  Coming off the staggeringly good 2007 vintage, it has been a while since I tasted something that gave me pause.  This one did.

Retail $28, buy widely available for far less, the 2009 RMW Cab is all it should be:  voluptuous,  with a hearty combination of full ripe tannins, balancing acidity, and complex barrel flavors of cinnamon toast, dark berry fruit, and a whisper of cabernet “sauvage”.

Perhaps one of the reasons I liked it so much is that it barely qualifies to be labeled as a cabernet sauvignon at all, with only 75% of the blend being CS.  Merlot, cabernet franc, and a few percentage points of common blending varietals all come together adding to a wine I just might like a hint better than it’s 2007 counterpart.

High praise indeed.

2008 La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot NoirSCORE: 94

Words such as complex, concentrated, and elegant are thrown about in the wine world like balls in a McDonald’s play pen enclosure.

Well, I’m here to tell you that no 3 words could be more accurate than when applied to the 2008 La Follette Sangiacomo Vineyard Pinot Noir.  A wine that is nothing short of magnificent.  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.

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.

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