I find myself falling behind on my basic wine reviews when I’m busy with work, writing and pitching stories to Palate Press, doing some wine work on events, and – oh – I do have a job that pays the bills which takes 40 hours a week.

Ortman 2006 Paso Robles Syrah – I have now sampled four different Ortman wines and continue to be struck by the incredible balance. These may be some of the most food-friendly wines you will find with such consistency from variety to variety. I opened the Syrah with a group of friends during a blind tasting. They picked it out as Syrah pretty quick and joined me in the praises when they learned it was Ortman. The group had tasted the winery’s Sangiovese and Cuvee Eddy blend.

The wine starts soft and seems to grow more bold with every sip. There’s a definite hint of cherry, style, smoothness and no smack in the jaw like too many Sirahs, Syrahs, or Shiraz – pick one. This is a very food-friendly wine. The Ortman Syrah has a suggested retail price of $22.

Ortman wines are available in some midwestern states and will be available in Indiana very soon.

Earthquake 2006 Syrah – I love the fun some wineries have with their labels and with the text on the back label. “over the top and shattering to the veins, all varietals under the Earthquake label are … reserve level wines.” That gives you an idea. This is the second Earthquake wine I’ve had from Michael David Winery and they are definitely big wines. This wine is actually the big brother of the Windmill reviewed below.

The Earthquake gives you big dark fruit, very ripe, some earthiness and a big finish. The wine retails at $26, but I’ve seen the label a number of places for less. I like these big bold punch in the nose wines. It has a bit of Petite Sirah and Cab in the blend but this is big wine, at a reasonable price, for big wine lovers. Though this was a trade sample, I have bought this label before and would again.

Windmill 2007 Zinfandel from Michael-David Vineyards – This is Lodi Old Vine Zin and comes in right where you’d expect such a wine. It has big cherry and smokey flavors with a hint of vanilla. It had a little too much of the ‘weeeee’ factor (alcohol) before a good decant. But then it quickly became a pretty darn good of $12 wine. It’s a blend of Zinfandel and 24 percent Petite Sirah. Grab a dark chocolate bar and you’ll find this enjoyable for the price. (Trade Sample)

Buried Cane 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon – Here is a nice value Cab blend for all you big wine drinkers. The Buried Cane, part of the Middleton Family Wines Group, is a nice 75 percent Cabernet, 25 percent Malbec Blend from Washington state. You’ve got the dark fruit, a rich mouth feel, and good acidity without an overwhelming tannic finish. There isn’t a ton of mid-palate on this wine but for $13 its a steal. (Trade Sample)

NOTE – That gets me started, will definitely add a couple more wines to this post Monday night!

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