Grabner Extravaganza and post-triathalon bash. 8 wines. yes, that's what i said.

Aug. 15, 2009: rob williamson arrived the night before and hit the sack early so he could be ready for his first triathalon in warrick county, ind., just east of here. it was a beautiful sunny day when he came in third in his age bracket. so that night -- as we had planned for months -- was celebration time. this was the meal, and the wine:

to start, greg opened up a 2008 cline contra costa county mourvedre rose (still can't figure out how to do the accent there). this was 13 percent alcohol. he and rob had had it before and really liked it; to them it was a good summer wine. victoria wasn't as impressed, as it reminded her of a white zinfandel, which aren't her favorites. but still, it was a refreshing bottle with which to begin the evening.

when it came time for the appetizer of mesclun mix salad with homemade mustard vinaigrette and baked goat cheese that had been covered with seasoned breadcrumbs (by now a classic in this house), rob popped open a 2005 chateau lascombes margaux grand cru classe, a grand vin de bordeaux. this was excellently smooth, very substantial. it came off as a very serious and dignified bottle of wine. 13.5 percent alcohol.

the chateau lascombes continued for part of the entree: lamb chops marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette reduction, with homemade mashed potatoes and carrots. but soon we opened up another of rob's choices, a 2003 azelia barolo from italy. this was more acidic, crisper, with sharp edges. it was a good choice considering we have virtually no experience with italian wines (besides chianti).

then came time for dessert: grilled fresh peaches from double a farms in henderson county (it was peach season, after all) marinated in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette/brown sugar/cracked pepper reduction, topped with vanilla ice cream. by this time, rob had opened a bottle he had brought from his house, a gosset champagne, 12 percent alcohol. that was a crisp mix next to the soft sweetness of the peaches.

the night, from here, soon became blurry. i heard that four more bottles were opened -- a 2007 pine & post merlot from washington state (13.5 percent alcohol) , a 2008 xplorador malbec from argentina (13.5 percent alcohol), a 2007 montes malbec from chile (14.5 percent alcohol) and a 2007 evil cabernet sauvignon from southeastern australia (14.2 percent alcohol) -- but i was asleep long before that.

all in all? one good, humorous night, with great wine and awesome company!


2008 Layer Cake Vintage Shiraz: A surprise hit.

aug. 9, 2009: greg said this wine is fandango. it's a good shiraz, and on victoria's 1-5 acidity scale (with 5 being so acidic it's undrinkable), he gives it a 3. victoria said it has a slight acidity, but it's fruity, with an aromatic nose. it's mildly tannic, with some rough spots, but the flavor is powerful. she think she likes shirazes in general. but in particular, this shiraz is from the south australian mclaren vale, a diverse and historic sub-region with vines dating back to the 1830s, according to klwines.com. $13.49 at big red liquors.

2007 Cortenova Primitivo: Smooth.

aug. 8, 2009: victoria thought this italian wine from the veneto region was light and smooth on the first sip. it didn't go with the grilled zucchini marinated in balsamic vinagrette, but it wasn't terrible with the beef brisket. greg likes it. he said it's smooth and it has a memorable nose, with a good flavor. as for average wines, this one isn't bad. the flavor is a bit cherry. victoria said the mouthfeel is gentle and soft, like a down pillow against your tired head. greg said he can smell the tannins. 13 percent alcohol. $8.99 at big red liquors.

2007 Beringer Knights Valley Alluvium Blanc: Mellow, smooth and gentle.

aug. 3, 2009: greg thinks this californian is very mellow and smooth. he said there's minimal acidity. victoria said it's a gentle wine, with slight honey. it's smooth. it reminds her a bit of a chardonnay, but it's definitely more palatable. there's a bit of an apple flavor, too. with a bit of research on the beringer web site, it turns out this is a mix of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. actually, it's predominantly sauvignon blanc (49 percent) and semillon (40 percent), with small amounts of chardonnay (9 percent) and voignier (1 percent). 14.1 percent alcohol. $15.29 at big red liquors.

2006 Earthquake Zinfandel Lodi Appellation: Yes and, mostly, yes.

july 30, 2009: greg likes this, though he said it has a slight metallic taste to the end of it. the nose is tannic but not overly so. he says it's not like a "wow!" but it's good. he said he would go with a bogle old vine zin over this. victoria likes it. she said it reminds her of a petite syrah. it's creamy and smooth with slight sweetness and the tannins are a bit rough, but that contrast is really enjoyable. this earthquake zin is from the michael david family of wines. it has small amounts of petite sirah and syrah blended in, according to gabesview.com. the wine was aged in american oak for 12 months. $26.99 at winetree.

2005 Bogle Phantom: Good as usual.

july 26, 2009: we had this after the dragon. it is definitely more confident and this californian from lodi, clarksburg and amador vineyards smells almost like crayons. victoria says it bursts with earth, though she and greg agree the mouthfeel isn't as smooth as the dragon. $18.25 per bottle with case discount at big red liquors.