Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Numanthia Termes 2000 wine review by (PB)

I am reticent to open a bottle of something“special” unless there is a special occasion. There was no special occasion but I made Osso Bucco and Milanese risotto; that’s special enough for me! So I needed a special wine and this is the one I chose. It cost me $22 but it was difficult to find and cannot be found now. I loved this wine as did (NW) when we first discovered it (see previous reviews) so I went back and bought the only other bottle in existence in my world.

This Spanish red made of 100% Tinto De Toro grapes is medium to dark cherry in color with a rich lovely bouquet of fruit, berries, cherries and joy.

In the mouth it breeds an initial shot of anise but the fruit is tighter than a drum. Tannins are vibrant and bright. This wine should be great once it opens.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! A slight candied bouquet with anise is prominent. In the mouth it is seductive licorice and plum with slight mocha(?) Hints. All in all this wine has several years of life ahead. Fabulous-exquisite-lovely! As time goes on, more layers pop up; layers of dried fruit (cherries) and a little cinnamon on the rear palate; WOW! It just keeps giving.

It was superior with my Osso Bucco but alas, the only flaw with this wine is that it is now GONE! I couldn't raise a glass if I wanted to...and I WOULD want to!

Camelot Pinot Noir 2003 wine review by (PB)

This previously reviewed wine is light in color on the pour emitting wonderfully astounding Pinot Noir aromas; classic Pinot “stink” with a light strawberry and currant nose. This wine which cost me $6 is flabbergasting it is so good. I paid 7 times this for a well known Burgundy and it wasn’t anywhere near this good.

In the mouth it is well balanced and ready to drink–even peaked by showing no sign of fading. It is only better than when I reviewed this wine back in Sept. Of 05.

It is rich in raisins on the palate and just does not get any better than this for this price and much more. Find it, buy it, raise a glass and for Pete’s sake--no, the heck with Pete--for your sake, raise a glass and drink it!

Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Stags Leap Wine Review (billy)

I am at a conference in Orlando Florida right now and several of us went out for dinner in Downtown Disney. As expected the prices were sky high but the selection at the restaurant we ate at was good.

The Chimney Rock 2002 Stags Leap Cabernet Sauvignon was quite nice.

On the pour it was still showing quite young. The first taste was coiled tight as a spring and full of energy. It is a big flavored wine and full of dark fruit. If you are opening a bottle now, give it about 30 minutes (at least) of air. Before that and the palate feel is nearly abrasive.

After some time this was a real treat.
Nose: On the nose there was deep blackberry and cherry with plumb and vanilla
Palate: Nicely softened and exceedingly well balanced with pleasing tannins that lead well into the nose.
Finish: long and soft with some green pepper hints and drawn with a reemergence of vanilla and tobacco.

This is a cab that, while nicely drinkable now will only round out and simmer down with a couple more years of cellaring.

Get some now and open in 07 or 08.

Raise a Glass!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Panarroz Jumilla 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Beautiful dark purple color
Blackberry jam bouquet
Plush texture and some cocoa as a core
Peppery, but clean finish

Somewhere along the way, I was directed to the wine as a great value Spanish red. Of course, there are a lot of great values out of Spain these days, as quality is being increasingly favored over quantity. This particular wine is nice, and has some heft to it. It is probably made from Monastrell (Mourvedre) and Bobal grapes.

Jumilla is a region in Spain near Valencia and Alicante, not far from the Mediterranean. Historically, this region produced a lot of hefty blending grapes in bulk that were sold to other wineries. Lately, it is taking on characteristics of its own and labels are identifying the region.

This wine is $9 and is a bargain, but you have to be in the mood for a wine with heft. Food pairings would ideally feature red meat or heavy sauces. In this price range, it's worth experimenting with Spanish reds to figure out what you like. As the regions of Spain continue to develop their distinct characteristics, your tastes will develop along with them. Raise a glass!

Fusee Chardonnay 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Lemon cream and melon on the nose
Lively core and enough acidity
Not much finish, but tapers effectively

Well, maybe it is possible to make a good Chardonnay for under $5. I was first intrigued by the Fusee label when I found it in a local liquor store bargain bin. After discovering that it's a project of Don Sebastiani & Sons, I decided to give the wine a try. I've had the Cabernet Sauvignon, which is actually drinkable at $4. This Chardonnay isn't bad either, also priced at $4.

What a bargain! And an interesting thing happened- I had half a bottle left over and put it in the fridge. Due to travel plans and other distractions, neither my wife or I had a chance to finish the last glass for two weeks. Amazingly, two weeks later, the wine actually tasted fresh and enjoyable. Raise a glass!

Trumpeter Malbec-Syrah 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Some blackberries, blueberries, and cocoa on the nose
A nice acidity and balance on the palate
Shorter finish, moderate tannins, and a bit tangy

More and more bargain wines are hitting the shelves from Argentina. This wine is a 50/50 blend of Malbec and Syrah, which are both widely planted in the South America. I've seen the Trumpeter label a number of times and finally had the opportunity to try this blend, which is worth the $9 price tag. Raise a glass!

Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Nice nose of lemon, lime, and freshly cut grass
Citrus on the palate
Clean finish

The 2005 wines from New Zealand are starting to hit the shelves. With the moderate weather so far this winter in the Northeast, I am enjoying more refreshing white wines than I normally would this time of year. Nearly every Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is enjoyable and well-priced- I hope this continues. This bottle cost $10. Raise a glass!

Covey Run Riesling 2004 wine review by (PB)

We’ve reviewed this previously but, as I am fond of saying, I re-review wine every time I have it. This allows me to check maturational variations; consistency of reviews; and tends to dilute out errant reviews due to factors like, an on coming cold that doesn’t really manifest at the time but still affects one’s olfactory abilities.

This wine is a drop dead, bottle of pleasure at an unbelievable price of $7. As a Wine Spectator best buy and an 89 point wine to boot, it is all that and more. On opening there is just wonderful big vanilla aromas with peach, apple and light citrus.

It is delicately sweet and balanced with nice acid and a finish of that is mellow and relaxing. Even if you “don’t like white wines” get over it and grab a bottle of this. If you love white wine, buy a case; it’ll be gone before Fall. Raise glass after glass of this really nice offering from the folks at Covey Run who just keep producing inexpensive, fabulous wines.

Sebastiani Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Wine Review (NW)

Raspberry, blackberry, and milk chocolate on the nose
Smooth, velvety texture, and a good backbone
Some oak and vanilla on a finish that tapers nicely

After another bottle of this terrific wine, I'm even more impressed. While I've had this wine a half dozen times in the past few months, this time was different. I didn't even get my first glass until the bottle was half empty. Not only that, it had been sitting on the kitchen counter with a wine stopper in in for two days because my wife had popped the cork while I was away. Regardless, it was delicious. And it's certainly an added bonus that it seems to have kitchen counter longevity. I stocked up on this for just $12/bottle, which is $5 below the suggested retail price. Raise a glass!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2004 wine review by (PB)

This previously reviewed wine is one of my favorite value wines. We loved the 2003 and we love this vintage as well–maybe even more! It is medium garnet on the pour with a deep dark blackberry and dried cherry nose with a trace of spiced apples on opening.

In the mouth this wine is just plain wonderful. It is so balanced and ready to drink right NOW you should get off this blog and GO buy a bottle of this; then come back.

Okay, you back? Well? Am I right, am I right???

It is rich in fruit full of berries plump and ripe. It finishes with a touch of currants though subtle.
Because it is so well made and ready to drink this wine will pair with all kinds of stuff! Right now we’re having it with cajun pork chops. It works! So raise a glass because this wine cost me less than $13 at Sam’s Club. It will run upwards of $18 in the store but it’s worth it even at that. Find out what a well made, balanced, ready to drink wine is like.

Rodney Strong Chardonnay Chalk Hill Reserve 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Rich nose of apple and vanilla
Creamy palate and nice texture
Oak finish

This is a very classically-styled California Chardonnay. It has some nice overall qualities and I consider it a good, solid wine. For my taste, it has the creamy texture that I like but I have to be in the mood for this style of Chardonnay. With so many interpretations of this grape from the great Montrachet plots to California, Chile, and Australia, there are endless ways to enjoy Chardonnay. I don't drink a lot of this varietal, but I enjoy it when it's good.

This wine was enjoyed at a restaurant for a business dinner. While I don't know the price paid, it generally runs $30 in the store. Raise a glass!

Casa Lapostolle Rapel Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Beautiful dark color
Blackberry and raspberry bouquet on the nose
Dark chocolate and good structure on the palate
Moderately strong tannins on the finish

When PB was in town, we had to track this down and sample it. After all, if Wine Enthusiast was going to proclaim this wine to be the number one best value release of 2005, it must have some special qualities.

As it turns out, what is special about this wine is that it appears to be very well made. It has excellent balance and structure and is lively on the palate. The tannins are strong, which would probably mellow out with decanting. I didn't decant it, but rather by chance, had a full glass left in the bottle at the end of the evening. I put a stopper in and sat it on the kitchen counter overnight. The following evening, the final glass was even better and- you guessed it- more mellow. I think this wine could sit in the cellar for a few years and be terrific.

This bottle cost $13, but I'm confident I can find this wine for $11 if I look around. Give it a try! And raise a glass!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Castle Rock 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Review (billy)

The fetching Mrs. (billy) brought home a bottle of this for me as a nice treat. While it was inexpensive ($12) it was nice to have her bring it home for us just to have.

This is a nice "just to have" wine.
Nose: big jammy blackberries. cherries and a whiff of acetone.
Palate: decent balance with just a touch of hotness in the back of the mouth. Soft round tannins are nice. Very big berries with jam and a touch of vanilla and smoke.
Finish: not too long but nicely tapering with just a hint of green pepper.

All in all this is a fine cab that can stand up to an every day meal. I'm having it alone, after dinner, just to enjoy. But for $12 this would be a fine wine to buy now and drink with friends who pop by. Tonight, it was a perfect bottle to enjoy with my wife.

Raise a Glass!

Col Di Sasso 2004 Cabernet/Sangiovese wine review by (PB)

This Tuscan red from the masters at Banfi has a pronounced nose with light berry aromas enveloped in a medium garnet package. It is tannic and closed.

With air, it opens a bit, but still too tannic but only because it is immature. This wine has nice potential with some classic Sangiovese (the classic Chianti grape) flavors. For the price–$8.50–it is decent though young. Give it another year. Raise a glass.

Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 wine review by (PB)

This highly rated cab is huge with dill on the nose; amazing.
Classic new world, Cab. flavors of green peppers cover the palate.

Chocolate emerges with air; this fruit forward wine is well made and balanced..
It seems to have peaked or at least is peaking so don’t plan on keeping it around for years.

Very nice and even nicer at $13. Raise a glass.

Las Rocas De San Alejandro Garnacha 2003 wine review by (PB)

This Spanish red is attractive in the glass and has a very light nose with a very slight bit of raspberries. In the mouth though this wine shines with a very nice balance and big fruit flavors of raspberry with pepper. It is well made and nicely balanced with a finish that, while abbreviated is full of dried cherries. I like it. ($10) Raise a glass.

Encosta Da Estrella Colheita 2002 wine review by (PB)

This inexpensive red (Dao) has really nice bouquet with shallow or closed nose of simple fruit.

In the mouth it is lively–almost fizzy–with big black pepper flavors that are short but pleasant. Finish is virtually non-existent. But let’s get a grip here. This wine cost a little under $4! And frankly, at the price, this is not a bad wine at all. I’d raise another glass!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Casa La Postolle Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 wine review by (PB)

This Chilean which made the Wine Enthusiast’s top 100 of 2005 comes from the Rapel Valley and has a great color of deep purple with youthfulness right to the rim.

It has a room filling bouquet of fresh fruit and candy. Oddly, the nose is closed and tight revealing almost nothing.

On the pallet though it has rich young tannins that are still maturing with nice Cabernet flavors but it needs to be breathed. With a good half hour to 45 minutes of air, it has a unique nose which I cannot peg. The tannins need time but a very nice layer of light licorice rises up. This is a wine that is interesting (terroir?) But needs 2-3 more years to come to maturity. Never-the-less, it is pleasurable even in its infancy. I like this wine and $13, it is a wine to be sought and stored for another year anyway. Raise a glass now and lay one down!

Details details (billy)

Whether you've been a lurker for a while or are visiting for the first time we wanted to let you know that we've recently overhauled both our recommendations as well as our outgoing links.

We have revamped our recommendations to make it easier for you to find something that you're looking for in a price range you want. See the "Recommendations" section on the right for the breakdown. Be sure to bookmark those pages so you can hit them as you're going out to the store to stock up or pick up something special for the night. (The WineCask Blog even works well on your Blackberry browser)

We now link to all the wine review blogs listed in the "Top 10 Sources for wine reviews" listings (here). Scroll down on to see the Other Wine Blogs section on the right. Be sure to check out those other blogs. They have really good information, reviews, event information, and tips for you as well. In the coming days we'll also be adding sites from the top 100 wine blogs as well.

Finally, for all you potential advertisers out there, we've created the first WineBlogger ad network. If you are interested in getting your ad (whether for your blog or your bottle) click the link above or the image on the right. If you are a wine blogger and are interested in joining the WineBlogger ad net, drop me an email.

Thanks for reading and Raise a Glass!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Peter Lehman Barossa Shiraz 2002 wine review by (PB)

This Shiraz from the Barossa region of Australia has a nice rich color that is youthful and rich to the rim. It is a fruit bomb on the nose of rich thick blackberry and blueberry jam.

On the palate it is a bit wild and closed with an underlying touch of chocolate. It has solid tannins and a richness that promises to open up.

With 45 minutes of breathing there are several layers consisting of vanilla, a little basil/oregano mid-palate and spice with a touch of pepper and cranberries.

It finishes with a very short but profound blast of mint rear palate with a strong mark of raisins.

This was (NW’s) recommendation on my last trip to Boston. I found this wine on sale for $12. No that’s not a typo; I mean 12 clams, 12 bucks, a dozen denero! Nice! And to (NW) “Well done young Jedi.” Raise a glass to Yoda!

After just checking the Wine Spectator review, they give this wine a 90 point rating and a "Best Buy." Ah, yes! There is some objectivity to tasting wine!

Chateau Bonnet 2004 wine review by (PB)

This French white from the Entre-Deux-Mers is a pale straw in color with a powerful bouquet of Sauvignon Blanc grassiness. There are fruity aromas which are hard to pin down but they are very nice and mouth watering just smelling them.

In the mouth this wine is sturdy with acid, grassy with cream undertones and a touch of citrus and grapefruit. I didn’t know what the makeup of this wine was before tasting it but was not surprised to see that it was 50% S. Blanc which explains the grassy notes.
It is blended with 40% Semillion (pronounced se-mee-OWN) and 10% Muscadelle.

The Wine enthusiast gave this wine 89 points and ranked it as their #64 pick of top 100 for 2005. I like it but it was almost a touch too acidic. I think 89 points is a generous rating but this is a very nice wine and at $10, it is a value so raise a glass.

We paired it with pan seared scallops in a marinara/wine reduction sauce and deep fried sweet potatoe slivers. Nice!

Beaujolais Nouveau 2005 G. Duboeuf wine review by (PB)

Previously reviewed when first released, this wine is still holding well. Very pretty color with strawberry notes in the bouquet and a touch of cinnamon. In the mouth it is simply fruity, light and made for guzzling. Don’t let this Nouveau go to long; remember they are made to be consumed within 9 months or so after its release in November.

This is the best release in years and is still very plentiful. In a couple months they will start dropping the price (currently still around $10) as they know it’s life-span is limited. Take advantage of it but don’t be surprised if you get a bad bottle as time goes on. Remember, wine is no bargain if it’s not pleasant to drink. Raise a glass.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Beautiful pale yellow-green color
Big grapefruit nose
Grassy flavors on the palate
Clean finish with nice acidity

Cloudy Bay quickly became the benchmark New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with excellent offerings year after year. Of course, today there are many terrific labels from New Zealand from $4 to $40. Even so, this one is still special with its characteristic citrus and grassy qualities. It's actually not easy to find and rather expensive at $28. Still, it's a benchmark wine and very enjoyable if the opportunity presents itself. Raise a glass!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Lamole di Lamole Vin Santo 1996 Wine Review (NW)

Beautiful amber color
Apricot, apple, and honey on the nose and palate
Good clean, sweet finish highlighted by crushed nuts and butterscotch

Our evening that was "all things Italian" was marked by an exquisite dessert course. The dessert was panna cotta with chocolate, homemade biscotti, and this little treasure of a wine. I thought it would be appropriate to open this wine when it reached 10 years of age, even though the wine critics said it would mature at 7 years.

The entire group was pleasantly surprised, as the wine has aged gracefully and retained a lot of character. It's like meeting an elderly person who is hobbling around and seems distant and removed, but engages in sharp conversation like a Harvard PhD student defending her dissertation. I was sad to see the bottle empty, but it was the perfect ending to "all things Italian". It was just a 375mL bottle, which seems perfect for a group of four. The price of the bottle, two years ago, was $12. Since then, I've seen late 1990's vintages for sale in stores in both the 375mL and full bottle formats. It's worth checking out. Raise a glass!

Castello Del Poggio Barbera D'Asti 2002 Wine Review (NW)

Cherry and earth on the nose, followed by cocoa
Some tartness on the palate
Clean finish with some length

In keeping with an Italian theme, this bottle was opened on the same evening as the Querciabella reviewed below. It has some nice qualities, but is not in the same category as the Querciabella. Nor should it be, as this wine is an entirely different creation from a different part of Italy. The dinner party, including my wife, PB, and his wife, enjoyed every last drop. It wasn't the most memorable bottle but it served it's purpose in an evening that was all things Italian. PB has also recently reviewed this wine on his entry dated January 5, 2006. Raise a glass!

Querciabella Chianti Classico 2000 Wine Review (NW)

Chocolate, nuts, and cherry on the nose
Dried cherry, leather, and spices on the palate
Nice finish, with some length

This is a special wine for me. I first tasted this along with my wife, PB, and his wife in Florence, Italy. We were in an out-of-the way restaurant at the edge of town and following the proprietor's recommendation, enjoyed every last drop of this Chianti. In the United States, I have only been able to find this label through the Italian Wine Merchant in New York...until recently. I just spotted a couple bottles in a small gourmet market near Boston.

The 2000 in this review was a bottle that sat in my cellar for two years. When PB and company recently visited, I decided it was the perfect time to pop the cork. While the wine is romanticized because of our past experience, it does deliver. Not only is it delicious, it's a great food wine especially with hearty Tuscan fare. I paid $28 for this wine two years ago and it's worth every penny. PB has also recently reviewed this wine in his entry dated January 5, 2006. Raise a glass!

Chateau Rieussec 1983 Wine Review (NW)

Golden-orange in color
Very aromatic nose of honey and cream
Oranges and honey on the palate
Smooth, creamy finish

What a treat! Sauternes is quite possibly the greatest achievement in the world of wine, and drinking 22-year old dessert wine that tastes as young as ever is an amazing phenomenon. Great Sauternes, by the way, age well for 200 years or more. In fact, there's no known limit to the aging potential for the greatest of Sauternes, as they are still quietly tucked away in cellars around the world.

This Sauternes was delicious, but very different from others I've had. It had more orange throughout, in its color and the layers on the palate. I enjoyed two small glasses on New Year's Eve with some fresh fruit and a mousse. Our hosts graciously dipped into their fine cellar for the evening's selections and did not disappoint. At auction, this wine would go for approximately $120 in 750mL format. Raise a glass!

Chateau Figeac 1989 Wine Review (NW)

Beautiful coloration of soft garnet and brick red
Blueberries and flowers on the nose
Smooth layers of currant, strawberry and blueberry on the palate
Ultra-smooth, elegant finish

At the New Year's Eve party we attended, this was the wine poured with dinner. Two magnums were being circulated among the ten guests, and they disappeared quickly. While this isn't my favorite style of wine with it's soft blueberry composition, I really enjoyed the pairing with lamb. I also enjoyed the amazing silky texture and the elegant finish.

This is a mature Bordeaux from an excellent year, which is always a privilege to taste. At auction, this wine in magnum form (1.5L) would fetch approximately $200. A 750ml bottle would fetch slightly less than half of that. Bordeaux in larger formats gets exponentially more expensive because the larger bottles are considered better for long-term aging and there are fewer of them. Raise a glass to 1989 Bordeaux!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay 2003 wine review by (PB)

From the Washington state producers who just keep pulverizing the notion that wonderful wine needs to push you to taking out a home equity loan to afford it comes this recommended beauty.

This Chardonnay is beautiful gold with a spectacular bouquet and nose of–-I kid you not–-Creme Brulee. It is so profound, I want to grab a spoon and dip into the creamy delight.

Figs and pineapple break the surface and come up around the Brulee.

In the mouth it is elegantly balanced with solid acids making it a GREAT food wine but it is a really nice aperitif as well. Although not huge on fruit, it is unique with perhaps quince on the mid palate. It finished with a sight bitterness that is actually interesting. The finish gets more complex as your mouth sits empty with a slight green-apple flavor.

I LIKE the unique nature of this wine and at...SIT DOWN–$9, is-a-get-out-of-here-and-buy-a-couple now--wine! The Wine Enthusiast rates this wine a 90 pointer and #28 in the top 100 for 2005. I absolutely agree!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Feudo Arancio Nero D’Avola 2003 wine review by (PB)

This Sicilian is a pretty cherry red wine with a fruity bouquet of fresh cherries and some light berry notes.

In the mouth it sits nicely with an initial candy berry impression. It is tightly wound on opening but holds promise.

With an hour of air, there’s an abundance of dried cherries. It has mouth watering tannins, classic old world style with a very fleeting anise note. This is really quite nice and at the sale price of $8, I will ask (NW) to pick me up some more as I bought this on a recent trip to Boston to visit (NW) and my daughter and grandson. We paired this with Paperadelle e’ Coniglia;[ rabbit with wide noodles] (hand made of course!) Raise a glass–this wine–widely available–makes my recommended wines!

As an interesting point of reference, the Wine Spectator–which usually runs parallel to my taste preferences departed from me here. They gave this wine a so-so 82. I would give this wine an 86, may be even an 87! Check it out and let me know what YOU think. Just remember to let it breathe! Raise a glass!

As a late addendum, the Wine Enthusiast rates this wine 87 and it is thier #38 pick of the top 100 for 1005. Yeah baby!

Best of Blog Awards

Each year blogs across a slew of categories are nominated as the "best of the web" for that category.

We are proud to announce that The Wine Cask Blog has made it to the top 10 in the Best Cooking – Recipe Blog category.

If you enjoy what you read here, please take a moment to go HERE, scroll down about one third of the way and vote for The Wine Cask. If you are interested, the rules for voting and tabulation are here

While you are there, take a gander at the other categories and you may find something new and interesting. There are simply scads of fantastic internet opinion givers and maker, each with their views and areas of expertise. Take some time and discover something new.

Don't forget to vote for The Wine Cask, and THANKS!

Raise a Glass.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Chateau Fleur Cardinale 2000 wine review by (PB)

This St. Emilion (Bordeaux) Grand Cru from the fabled vintage was a little disappointing. It is youthful in appearance with a fairly intense garnet hue. The bouquet on opening is full of milk chocolate—wonderful! Beneath the chocolate is buried fruit.

In the mouth it is well balanced but lacking in flavor. I am hoping it just needs to be breathed.

With an hour of air, the milk chocolate aromas are still present but subdued with a dark berry fruit and raspberries stronger than on opening. The tannins are quite gentle yet with some heft though and I suspect this wine is at its peak. Still, I think it will hold for some time yet; even possibly a couple years. (But if you have one, I’d drink it this year!)

The finish is adequate but not remarkable and that is my assessment of the wine in general.

It cost me $25 when I bought it about 2 years ago. It is well made as I stated but lacks oomph, and real character. It’s just “good” like, “85” points good if a point score helps. We had it with grilled filet mignon as our daughter—(NW’s wife) was up for the weekend. So, raise a glass to old world wines!

More on "Cork Mold" (PB)

Open Bordeaux wines rather frequently and you'll grow very accustomed to mold on the top of the cork.

The foil that is put over the top of the bottle is not necessarily airproof or moisture proof and so a near perfect formula for mold to grow.

The fact is, I find it quite charming. I actually am a little disappointed when I don’t find mold; it just looks so romantically rustic, like you’re about to imbibe some ancient potion hidden away for centuries until you discovered it.

In over 25 years of wine study, I have yet to open a single bottle with such mold that was negatively affected.

At any rate, even if the wine had been “corked,” a reputable dealer would gladly receive the wine back opened, tasted etc.

For some reason though, in more recent years, I have had far fewer wines present with this “attractive” (in my opinion) phenomenon. I suspect that was for a couple of reasons.

First being that my consumption of French wine (until recently) has been quite low due to France’s wretched attitude and actions toward our country. They have since gained some sanity and are behaving somewhat civilly these days.

But I suspect that the technology of placing foils on bottles has improved as well as the use of synthetic corks gaining a little steam even in France.

All in all, mold on the cork means nothing so, as “Billy” explained, wipe the mouth of the bottle clean and raise a glass!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Chateau Greysac Cru Bourgeois Medoc 2000 Wine Review (billy)

Yep, this was the wine that had cork mold (see below).

This Medoc (the largest wine making region of Bordeaux, France) is a Cru Bourgeois. This means that Chateau Greysac was not one of the "original" chateaus classified in 1855, but rather was classified sometime in the 1900's. These classifications mean a lot to the oenophile, but for the most purposes, it means that a Cru Bourgeois will be not as perfect as a Grand Cru Classe (as near to perfection in a wine as one can get in a good vintage) but not nearly as expensive either. That means it will typically be a great wine at a fantastic value.

The 2000 vintage, according to my "Wine Course" book (a Christmas gift) was a great vintage for Bordeaux. Add it all up, and besides the surprise of the cork mold, this is a good value. I paid $18.63 for this bottle.

Eyes: clear ruby red with no signs of aging near the edges.
Nose: Cherry, Plumb, Anise, and a touch of cabernet franc "stinkiness" and some mustiness (probably due to incomplete wiping of the mold off the opening of the bottle)
Palate: Still a bit tight with a robust acid structure with very soft tannins. Dark berries follow from the nose to the palate along with more pronounced cherry flavors.
Finish: medium to long finish with candied cherries and just a hint of fresh cut green grass.

Overall this is a fine example of a Medoc Bordeaux. It is well built with a firm structure. I would like to taste more suppleness in here but that may come with some more air. Finally, to be saved from a return due to some ugly but ultimately harmelss bottle mold is the best thing to crow about.

UPDATE After about 90 minutes of air time, the suppleness I had hoped for arrives with a flourish. Cocoa suffuses the nose as does a soft oaky flowery-ness. The cherry and plumb are still there but rounder, fuller, and softer.
The balance is supurb with the structure evening out and unwinding. The feel is lighter, more liquid, but still crisp. The Finish has lost most of the candied cherries but gained a longer and softer green and appley finesse.

Raise a Glass!

Cork Mold - What to do? (billy)

The fascinating thing about the wine I had this evening is that, upon cutting away the foil bottle topper to reveal the cork, I was greeted with a fuzzy green-gray surprise on top of the cork. That's right, there was mold on the cork.

Honestly I did not know what to do. I've not seen this before though it's not all that uncommon. I knew that, if the cork was dessicated by the mold or if the mold made it through to the wine, it would probably be "corked" and warranting a return. But before leaping to conclusions I did some research.

The consensus was that there was no way to tell if the wine was bad without tasting it. I wiped and scraped off the mold and proceeded to uncork the bottle. The cork stayed (did not turn as I applied the screw) which was a good sign. I slowly pulled the cork up and studied the cork's nooks and crannies. Near the top there was indeed some nested mold. However, at about 1/3rd of the way down the mold stopped. I sniffed the bottle and was greeted by a nice bouquet and none of the "corked wine" stink that would warn me off.

I poured, swirled, sniffed - still nothing untoward. Taste. Fantastic!

I spared myself a trip to the wine shop tomorrow to return an otherwise fine bottle and did not have to forego the wine I wanted to taste tonight.

To be sure, caution was warranted. Had the cork displayed mold all the way down, I would have returned the bottle for an exchange. Had the wine poured cloudy or smelled musty and stinky, it would have been returned. But as it is, this is a nice treat.

Raise a Glass!

Cinquante-Cinq Viognier 2004 wine review by (PB)

This French wine from the Languedoc was a disappointment. I love Viognier (pronounced, Vee-oh–nyay) as it typically has a very fragrant and floral bouquet with rich flavors. This one does have a nice bouquet of fresh cut flowers and rich in pears with a side note of fresh cut grass more typical of a Sauvignon Blanc.

In the mouth it is a bit tart and a little flat and definitely short. Flavors are non-descript. At $12, I would steer you away from this...Yalumba (Australian) tends to produce a very nice Viognier for a similar price.

Bellini Rosso Piceno 2004 Wine review by (PB)

This Chianti was reviewed back in October so you can compare this review with that one. It is a super value with a fruity bouquet with a hint of cinnamon and cherries.

Flavors are classic with Sangiovese and Montepulciano grapes blended. It goes well with food even if a bit light on the palate but for the price of–-sit down-– $3.33, it is a super bargain! I paired it with home made, veal stuffed ravioli. It was marvelous in all ways. So, raise a glass and I mean NOW!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Wine Tasting Party White Flight Wine Review (billy)

We started the party with a flight of 3 white varieties: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

Covey Run 2004 Riesling:
You've seen us review and recommend this bargain wine ($8) before and it did not fail to impress this evening.
Nose: citrus, pineapple, pear
Palate: velvet greens with fresh mint.
Finish: lovely and long.

Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2005:
We've also reviewed the Monkey Bay (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blancs before but this was the first of the 2005 vintage I've had. It was a bit tighter and definitely younger than the older vintages we've reviewed but still a fantastically balanced and pleasing wine. Very crisp. ($12)
Nose: big sweet grapefuit and kiwi
Palate: a dryer palate with noticible acids. Feels young in the mouth.
Finish: Nice and sharp.

Crane Lake Chardonnay 2004:
This was a value wine that I picked up at the last minute because I could not resist the $3.99 price tag. I wanted to know what this bargain basement California Chardonnay was like and I wanted to show the guests that drinkable wine can be found at quite inexpensive prices. Crane Lake did not disappoint with the bar set low.
Nose: very limp, almost no nose at all.
Palate: surprisingly good body and balance in the mouth. A good mouth feel.
Finish: slight but there.

This wine was not a "good" Chardonnay, but it was not a "bad" Chard either. For $3.99 to find that there is something good to drink is nice. The guests thought so as well.

To all of you who were there or wanted to be there, I raise a Glass!

Wine Tasting Party (billy)

This past Friday we hosted a wine tasting party for friends and colleagues. That the party happened to coincide with my birthday was the impetus but not the focus. The wines from around the world were the focus.

What made this tasting successful was that it was guided. By this I mean that there was a very gracious gentleman (a colleague of mine) who used to teach WINE at the local U, has helped found wine companies, and has generally been everywhere of major significance. This guy gave me a fantastic gift when he agreed to lead the wine flights.

He taught the novices how to swirl, sniff and taste. He described the geography most prevalent with the wines and or varietals we were tasting. He brought with him a 1974 Petite Syrah to taste (review later).

In all, it was his knowledge, patient attitude with the guests who ranged in wine knowlege from "wine is red and white" to folks who knew something of the different regions, and willingness to talk us through the flights that really made the party. DJ, thank you so very much.

We also found the PDF printouts from WineCountryGetaways to be quite useful.

Everyone brought a wine or two to try (and some wonderful cheeses as well) and we tasted and sipped 10 bottles or so (with some other wines and sparklers out just for drinking).

The reviews of these wines will appear above over the course of the next several days as time permits (I have a little one recovering from surgery right now).

Finally, I want to say a very special thank you to the fetching Mrs. (billy) for giving me such a fantastic evening.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Beringer Stone Cellars Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 wine review by (PB)

This magnum was a refreshing change from the usual "Woodbridge" routinely served with our pizza night get-together with friends.

It has a very light nose,and is a little stinky. But in the mouth it is big on flavors with a blast of raspberry mid-palate and is pretty nicely balanced. There is a definite blast of dried cherries after a fdew minutes of air--nice! This wine of the Beringer "economy" tier is peaked. It's not bad though and I would guess it runs around $14 for a magnum (equal to 2 bottles.) Raise a glass!

Marquis De Chasse 2003 Merlot wine review by (PB)

This generic Bordeaux has some hit and miss offerings. This one is a miss. It has good varietal aromas of green peppers and yeast but in the mouth it is thin, hot, and just plain weak all around. It’s not a bad wine, just dull and at around $9, there’s many more offerings out there to prefer.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Cheteau Ste Michelle Gewurztraminer 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Light, sweet nose of pear and lemon
Smooth and clean on the palate, with a nice balance of acidity
Short, clean finish

I enjoyed this wine with PB and our wives- see PB's review below. It was intended to be a quick aperatif, preceeding a long parade of small dishes for the evening. As we looked for particular qualities, we came to the realization that this wine was a little simple and kind of flat. It didn't show anything special, but it didn't offend us either. I kept wondering if I missed something, but I don't think I did. Praised by several critics as terrific value wine, I expected more. When the wine didn't deliver, instead of being disappointed we drank down the bottle and went on with life.

Hindsight is 20/20 and looking back I now realize what I missed at the time. After pouring a small glass each, we actually did roll out some cheese, sausage, crackers, and dip to nibble on. The wine was never exciting, but it also never disappointed us because it's really a terrrific food wine. Thinking back to it now, it has nice balance and good acidity. Armed with these qualities, it drank well with our snacks and we dried up the bottle in no time. All the while, I just had the wrong set of expectations. This "Alsacian-style" wine from Washington State cost just $9. Raise a glass, with food!

"Cheap White Wine" a reluctant review by (PB)

This “wine” I use the word loosely, was given to me by Billy of this blog as a gag gift for Christmas.
That really is the name of it produced by Vin Ordinaire, Morgan Hill, California. I don’t know what Billy paid for it I am guessing it was, uh, “cheap!”

The label says “Our white table wine is a premium blend of varietal grapes. It is honest and well made.” Okay let’s be honest, this is not a well made wine and I don’t know what varietal grapes they used but it tastes like the variety “souranicus disgusteria” or some such thing.

It is pale straw in the glass with a bouquet that is not unpleasant with a hint of pears and loads of citrus. In the mouth, it is tart, sour, and then tart and sour; lays lifeless like a dead hamster with some funny flavors of something that bears a little resemblance to fruit–sort of. The finish, is, well-- welcome!

Lest you think it is just that I am a “snob” that I don’t like this, I remind you that one of my top picks in our “recommendations” is a $4 Chardonnay from Salmon Creek. Even Charlie Shaw’s infamous “Two Buck Chuck” is quite palatable. This is just a cheap trick to grab people unawares and what annoys me is that some people, who are already predisposed not to liking “white wine” will have some of this and say, “See, I really don’t like white wine.” Worse still, someone will taste this and like it!

(NW) of this blog received a bottle of “Cheap Red Wine” also from Billy. I can’t wait to see how his red tastes!

Just remember, an inexpensive wine can be quite charming. This is not a bad wine because it is inexpensive, it’s a bad wine because it is a bad wine! Don’t raise a glass–Please!

Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2003 wine review by (PB)

This is a bad news/good news story. The bad news is this is my last bottle of this wine; the good news is, the 2004, which I have in my cellar, is even a mite better! This multiply reviewed wine is really nice Zinfandel and a bargain price (at Sam’s Club where it is $12.50) as compared to $18 or so everywhere else.

It has a bright cherry sparkle to it, with jammy berry aromas.

In the mouth it is definitely jammy, with ripe currants and prunes though there is an odd bitter flavor at the rear palate that has not been there in previous bottles. The wine has not breathed and the flavors are rather subdued plus this was not in my temperature regulated cellar but in my open air cellar where ambient temperature is around 50 degrees these days. The wine is too cold.

With breathing and a little warming up, the flavors release, the bitter something is gone and this is just berry juice, with wonderful balance of everything this uncomplicated wine has to offer. It is delicious and well made and at it’s peak; what wine is all about. Raise a glass!

Clos Du Val Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Sweet, ripe nose
Smooth texture in the mouth with plum and licorice on the palate
Moderate tannins and medium length finish

I was given this bottle as a gift a while back. After reading a couple of critics dismiss the wine as flat and boring, I didn't rush to open it. Finally, deciding I was in the mood for a Napa Valley Cab, I popped the cork and was pleasantly surprised. The wine had more character than I expected, it showed some nice layers, and I enjoyed drinking it. This was another great lesson in trusting my own palate.

As this was a gift, I didn't know the price until I looked it up. According to several sources, the suggested price is $25. Napa Valley Cab is expensive, so $25 is relatively cheap in that category. I hesitate to recommend this wine, though, because there is so much excellent red wine in the world for half the price. I hope that The Wine Cask blog continues to demonstrate this. Of course, nothing against Napa Valley or Clos Du Val. In fact, one of my favorite treats is a bottle of good California Cabernet Sauvignon. The reality is, though, it's usually an expensive treat and better value lies elsewhere for everyday enjoyment. Raise a glass!

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Wine Review (NW)

Nice nose of blackberries and vanilla
Smooth, velvety texture on the palate with berries, spices, and oak
Very nice, smooth finish

Columbia Crest is a favorite inexpensive producer of mine. They put together red wines that are very smooth and loaded with flavor. These wines are definitely in the "New World" style with up-front fruit and oak, but they also do just fine with food.

This Cabernet Sauvignon is generally priced about $12; I paid $10 on sale. I consider it to be a good value wine, and usually keep a few bottles on hand for a week night or as a default when no one can decide what to open. Raise a glass to good value!

Ruffino Reserva Ducale Chianti Classico 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Stinky nose, which slowly burned off to reveal candied cherry
Tobacco flavors and earthy on the palate
Tangy finish

I had not tasted this wine before this opportunity came around. However, I feel like it see it fairly often in the store. There is also a "Gold Label" that is more expensive.

The initial stinky nose wasn't all that odd, but it took a while to burn off. This reminded me of some Burgundies that I've had. When it did give way, the layers that came through were interesting and enjoyable. The finish had just enough of the tangyness to remind me that the backbone of Chianti is the Sangiovese grape.

This bottle was enjoyed with friends and cost $20. Raise a glass!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Bodegas Montecillo Crianza 2001 wine review by (PB)

This Rioja has a lighter red color with a rich blackberry bouquet with a steep nose of fruit and olives. In the mouth it is puckery and dry as chalk with chewy tannins.

This wine has potential; after breathing the bouquet grows with more fruit and cherries. In the mouth it really comes around to a better balance losing that puckery tartness.

Tannins are still chewy but this is a nice old world wine for the sale price of $8! It could use another year or two in the bottle. Raise a glass!

Friday, January 06, 2006

Taylor-Fladgate Fine ruby Porto wine review by (PB)

You just have to love port wine! But before I go any further please don’t confuse a wine labeled as “port” especially from California, with the “real deal” which is from Portugal and labeled “Porto" or “O’Porto.” California ports have a greater resemblance to cough syrup than anything potable with one rare exception and that is port made by Ficklin Vineyards. The only time I have seen this wine though in the last decade or so has been when I was visiting California but I digress…

This inexpensive porto ($12) is a pretty ruby with a dazzling bouquet of deep fudge with a nose of prunes and dark berries.

In the mouth it is sweet—of course—with cocoa hints and fruit that is shallow. It has a short finish for a port which tends to hang on for a long time. For the Price, I like it better than, say, Cockburn’s Ruby porto, another widely accessible port. At any rate, this will sip nicely and keep easily for 2-3 weeks and probably longer. Raise a glass by a fireside and try it with chocolate, or strawberries.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

La Mole di La Mole Vin Santo 1996 wine review by (PB)

This desert wine with a decade of age on it should not have held its grace as long as it did...but it did! This is an amber colored wine with deep prune aromas with a port like sweetness and spruce overtones with a touch of licorice. Nice!

In the mouth there are butterscotch flavors and almonds. This is surprising all the way around. Vin Santo is an inexpensive, ($12 for 375 ml) everyman’s kind of desert wine made to consumed young, not with ten years of age on it. The Wine Spectator advised this wine be drunk before 2003 yet is holding its own but definitely at its peak. This was a nice treat with the final course of our spectacular Tuscan dinner–a wonderful, velvety, panna cotta. We raised several glasses in all this great new years celebration and we trust you will raise many glasses of everything wonderful and wild this coming year. Remember, “Life is too short to drink bad wine!” Raise a glass if you will!

Querciabella Chianti Classico 2000 wine review by (PB)

The meal at (NW’s) continued and this wine was opened yielding its chocolate bouquet, spicey on the palate, tight, tasty but needs air.

There is leather in the aroma big time with some subtle basement smells (???) And dried cherries with just plain nice flavors. We had this with baked figs stuffed with Gorgonzola and walnuts served on parsley and prosciuto. The finish is tart, short but pleasant. ($22) Raise a glass to Tuscany–always!

Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2000 Wine review by (PB)

This was the remnants of a wine (NW) opened two days earlier. He saved me a taste of this special wine but served it to me blind and asked me to tell him what it was.

This Chilean was almost black in the glass it is so deep and intense. One whiff of the bouquet with its black banana ripeness and super. ripe plums, chocolate and something I can’t describe. Flavors are of slight chocolate and deep, deep fruit. It is superbly balanced, elegant and rich. I said, “Don Melchor” what else could it be? Raise a glass of this wonder!

Castello De Poggio Barbera D’Asti 2002 wine review by (PB)

The sequel to my entry New Years weekend at (NW’s) paired this wine with clams Genovese. It is a very pretty wine with a crystalline, garnet look in the glass. It has a sweet bouquet and nose of cocoa and currants.

In the mouth it’s a tad hot but zippy. It is a bit tight on opening and just needs a little breathing room and a bit of a warming. (NW’s) cellar gets a mite cold this time of year...

There is unsweetened chocolate that is rich with tart acids with firm chewy tannins. Fruit is still locked up but it is there. Dried cherries come to the surface but tannins are still “chewy.” This wine with good potential just needs more time to mature. Maybe a year or even two would make a big difference. Raise a glass!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Chateau St. Michelle Gewurztraminer 2004 wine review by (PB)

We needed a post holiday get-a-way so we headed to NW’s place in suburban Boston. That’s never a good economic decision as there are so many good wine stores around that every visit means another month or so delayed on the other end of my retirement but then you have to put it all in perspective. I read today in my local paper about a janitor for the city who talked about nothing but retirement the last year or so. He was only a blink away from realizing his dream and today he died very suddenly. I figure, since you can’t take it with you, you might as well enjoy it–at least some of it–NOW!

(NW) is married to my daughter who is developing into quite a chef. So the fanfare began almost as we arrived. We began eating at 4:00 and had the last course around 8:00. And of course eating means WINE.

(NW) Commenced our Italian themed gastronomic extravaganza opening a bottle of Chateau St. Michelle 2004 Gewurztraminer more as an aperitiffe than an accompaniment.

My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting this winery in Suburban Seattle way back in the early 80's when we lived in the area. St. Michelle was always known for their Sauvignon Blanc, not their Gewurtz.

The wine emitted a powerful bouquet of fresh cut pears that was downright exciting. But in the mouth, it appeared sweet at first then shifted to an off-dry with only fleeting, light flavors of apricots. For $9 it was so-so but rather lifeless.

But of course this was only for the first course and there was more to come–later. I assure you we raised a glass or four before the evening was done. You’ll read about it here!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Mariners Bay 2004 Pinot Noir (Wine review) by (PB)

This New Zealand screw cap finished wine is my very first experience with a New Zealand red. NZ is distinguishing themselves as a superior Sauvignon Blanc producer but has a long way to go re: red wines. But this wine is a pretty blush red typical of Pinot Noir and on the the swirl the aromas of this wine are classic Pinot Noir. Impressive!

In the mouth though, this wine is thin and acidic, puckeringly so. Flavors are shallow but the little that is there is again, Pinot flavors. Finishes with a touch of smoke. This was an inexpensive wine–$10–which I grabbed for a review of a NZ red. I chose it totally blind, not because I read something about it or anything else.

In short, I love the bouquet, but the in mouth experience is woefully deficient. Raise a glass but make it a wonderful New Zealand white!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Rancho Zabaco Dancing Bull Zinfandel 2003 Wine Review (billy)

We've reviewed this wine before on TWCB and it resides on our recommendations list. However, I've never had it so here is my take.

But before I do I have to give props again to the new wine store, Century Wine & Spirits (no, we don't get kickbacks for saying nice things about them). I wanted an inexpensive, unpretentious wine just for drinking this evening. So I went to our recommendations page (above) and looked for a few I've not tried. I phoned the wine store and got one of the employees I had met on my previous forray. He rememberd who I was and graciously offered to look up whether they had any of my selections in stock. They did and I went out to pick it up. I was met there with the same cheer and good-natured smiles I received before. Thanks D!

So, back to the wine. Dancing Bull Zinfandel takes grapes from all over California but the bulk of them come from Lodi. Lodi is in northern California and has been a producer of copious ammounts of wine, though few of ringing distinction. It is the wallmart of vineyard plantations. Still, the growing conditions are fine and in the hands of a skilled winemaker Lodi is slowly gaining recognition as an appellation unto itself.

Nose: This wine has quite a nose on it. Robust and jammy fruit forward with plum and raspberry.

Palate: The mouth structure is well balanced but not nearly as dense as the nose portends. This makes for a very drinkable "quaffing" wine rather than a sipping wine. To find such a nose in a quaffing wine is excellent. Melon flavors abound and intermingle with a grassy cherry that is not at all unpleasing.

Finish: short but nice with the melon pulling through the finish and smoothing out the berry acids. There is a "clean" mouth feel after the swallow that evidences the very soft tannins as they dissipate from the palate.

In all an excellent quaffing wine. I paid $8.99 for a bottle of this just this evening.

R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Tondonnia 1993 Rioja Reserva wine review by (PB)

We were invited for New Years dinner with some friends as they wanted to share this wine they received as a gift. I looked it up prior to tasting it but unwittingly looked up the wrong wine. The wine I found received a dismal "72" rating from the Wine Spectator.

This wine, on the pour, looked dubious at best. It was a light brown in hue with clear aging that lead me to believe this wine was going to be a mouthful of vinegar. The bouquet was very light and although subtle, it was actually pleasant; a promising portent of what was to come.

There was nothing remarkable in the bouquet and the nose had that “daffodil” aroma which I don’t really care for but was welcome in this case as it meant the wine still had some life to it.

In the mouth, this wine was just subtle in every way. My first impression was, “this is NOT a 72 point wine!” Anything and everything was nuanced. There were light cherries with a balance of flavor and all that makes a wine palatable. It is the most mature wine I have had. Bacon seemed to rise out of nowhere and a hint of rose petals and green peppers also emerged.

Although very understated, this is a wine of sheer elegance. It is at its utmost peak and even a little beyond yet a great way to celebrate a new year; this was a special wine; one which I was glad to have been able to be a part of! Thanks M & J! Raise a glass to 2006!

Top 10 Inexpensive White Wines of 2005 (NW)

In 2005, I drank red wines to white by at least two to one. Because of that, instead of a top twenty, I've put together just a top ten list for inexpensive white wines (price range $15 and under).

Top White Wines $15 and Under:

(1) Salmon Creek Chardonnay 2003- $5
(2) La Vielle Ferme Cotes du Luberon 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008- $6-$8
(3) Covey Run Riesling 2004- $7
(4) Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2004- $10
(5) Dry Creek Vineyards Dry Chenin Blanc 2003- $11
(6) Sebastiani Chardonnay 2001- $12
(7) La Spinetta Vigneto Moscato D'Asti 2003- $13
(8) Tohu Sauvignon Blanc 2003- $14
(9) Beringer Alluvium Blanc 2000- $15
(10) Joh. Jos. Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Kabinett Riesling 2000- $15

Most of these wines are good year in and year out, so don't worry so much about the specific vintage. Depending on where you live and when you're shopping, you might find a different vintage than what's listed above.

Top 20 Inexpensive Red Wines of 2005 (NW)

Happy New Year! Looking back at 2005, it was a great year for wine and a great year for wine bargains. This list is my twenty best inexpensive red wines of the year in two price categories- $10 and under and $11 to $15.

Top Red Wines $10 and Under:

(1) Crane Lake Cabernet Sauvignon 2002- $5
(2) Fusee Cabernet Sauvignon 2003- $5
(3) Hacienda Merlot 2003- $6
(3) Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2003- $6
(4) Elsa Barbera 2003- $7
(5) Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon 2003- $8
(6) Bodega Norton Malbec 2002- $9
(7) Montpezat Palombieres Languedoc 2003- $10
(8) Magnficent Wine Company House Wine 2003- $10
(9) Chateau Mongaillard 2000- $10
(10) Concannon Syrah 2001- $10

Top Red Wines $11-15:

(1) Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot 2001- $11
(2) Vallado Duoro Vihno Tinto 2002- $12
(3) Morgante Nero D'Avola 2004- $12
(4) Erath Pinot Noir 2002- $13
(5) Hedges CMS 2002- $13
(6) Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon 2002- $13
(7) Veramonte Primus 2003- $14
(8) Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz 2002- $15
(9) Clos de los Siete 2003- $15
(10) Concha Y Toro Marques Casa Concha Cab. Sauvignon 2003- $15

Most of these wines are good year in and year out, so don't worry so much about the specific vintage. Depending on where you live and when you're shopping, you might find a different vintage than what's listed above.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Wine Recommendations $20-50

Chateau Plo Du Roy 2000 (PB)
This is another great value from the Minervois.
Bouquet of cinnamon and berries, flavors of black pepper with a meaty backbone.
Read complete review in blog ($22)

David Bruce Russian River Pinot Noir 2003 (NW)
Super smooth and velvety texture, with flavors of plum, cherry, and chocolate cream. A beautiful Pinot Noir from a winery that does it justice. $40.

Posapiano Chianti Classic 2003 (PB)
Yeast and olives abound with dried cherries prominent with considerable air. (Breathe this wine for a good 3 hours and decant it. In the mouth it is rich with muscular tannins but they really mellow out if you follow the breathing procedure I recommend. Baked bread is also big in the mouth with fruit all over. This is one of the best Chianti’s I have had. $23!

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (NW)
Not the best Cloudy Bay, but it has the beloved New Zealand characteristics of ripe citrus and fresh-cit grass. What sets this apart is that it also has an underlying richness and elegance that most others don't deliver. This is what makes Cloudy Bay a world-class Sauvignon Blanc. And it better be at $28, when so many wines of this varietal are $10-15.

Jordan Sonoma Cabernet Savignon 2001 (NW)
A very nice 2001 Cab, delivering juicy dark berries and good structure. For $48, this is a wine to impress and is very characteristic of the powerful Cabs that many red wine lovers seek. Will cellar well, too.

Chateau La Faurie-Peyraguey 2001 (PB)
A luscious Sauternes, pale golden in the bottle. A gentle bouquet full of bananas and honey; powerfully sweet offset with a great acid foundation; floral scents and really ripe cantaloup or musk melons with a caramel sweep. I would give this wine a 92. Something special indeed!

Zind Humbrecht Gewurtztraminer 2004 (PB)

A golden wine with a bouquet of fruit of apples, peaches, apricots and pineapple. In the mouth it is rich and full. There is a layer of smoke that is subtle but definite and fascinating. The finish of this wine is lingering and full of fresh apricots that just keeps going.
This is great with food or as an aperitiffe. $20 but worth every penny! Go!!!

Damilano Barolo 2001 (billy)
A lucid ruby red with a nose of sensuous cocoa, cherry, and tobacco. In the mouth the structure is liquid velvet where cherries and cocoa and tobacco mingle with exquisitely balanced acids and tannins. The Finish is perfect - a lingering decrescendo without a missed note. Research indicates this will age well through 2008 or so. $33 is fairly priced. Any less is a bargain and demands that you pick up a bottle.

Eos Petite Syrah 2000 (PB)
This is a Paso Robles red of deep garnet on the pour with good fruit of cherries with a touch of a little licorice and a smidge of cocoa with refined tannins. Black cherries, a touch of licorice and this wine is at peak; is luscious with refined tannic structure. $22 but worth it!

Numanthia-Termes Toro Termes 2000 (PB)

This is a phenomenal Spanish red and At $22, this beautifully made wine of balance and fullness of flavors of spice, raisins, and a bouquet to entice even the most unlearned of wine lovers, is a MUST find. But good luck... (For more details, see my full review in the articles. (PB)

Red Wine Recommendations $10-20

Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2006 (PB)
The wine is a purple cranberry hue with brambly, wild berry and a touch of plums in the bouquet.The palate is big with red berries and pushy tannins on a sweet base (relatively speaking; this is not a sweet wine) with an interesting slightly bitter fruit. A little breathing intensifies all of the previous and finishes with big dark fruit. Sam's Clubs carry this for less then $12 and it is well worth it.

Poggio Al Tufo Rompicollo 2005
See review for more but this is a tremendous wine. I paid $14 for it and is worth much more. Worth seeking for.

Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot-Cabernet 2002
Just a super value which I find for under $6 but seems to run around $8. Either way, a really good value. Snatch it up.

Water Wheel Shiraz 2004 (PB)
This is a huge well crafted wine just full of richness and character. It will assault your palate in a good way and is a bargain at the $12 I found it for at Sam's Club.
Don't pass it up!

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Shiraz 2002 (PB)
Rich, dark purple to the rim with a musty bouquet and loads of plum and dark berry fruit.

Rich flavors of licorice with fruit forward gobs of sensuous spicy fruit. It has nice structure and should age for several more years but is great right now.

Rocca Delle Macie 2001 Chianti Classico Riserva (PB)
Medium garnet with wild cherry accents over a rich berry bouquet; some herbal notes and earth.

It is full of flavors and just an all around superior wine and at this price of *$16, you should buy it up NOW! (See complete review)

Chateau Clos De Latour 2002 (PB)
This is a bargain wine with a solid cherry color on the pour and fruity bouquet of dark berries and a nose of sweet fruit. It is balanced, well made, structured, with some nice green pepper notes, firm tannins and old world character. With an hour of breathing (recommended) this wine is lighter in body with subtle chocolate and licorice notes. Nice and a bargain at $11.

C.C. Brunello Di Montalcino 1999
This Tuscan gem is 100% Sangiovese. It is full and balanced and wonderful all the way around. I found it for $20. Buy it ALL if you can find it! (PB)

Coppola Merlot 2003 “Blue Label” wine review by (PB)

This wine is dark ruby color with depth and a bouquet of baked bread, a little spice, and some black cherry fruit. It is full of flavors of chocolate, berries, has good structure. Has some layers of cedar and dill with dried cherries on the palate. This is an awesome wine and a great value at $15.

Domaine “La Garrigue” 2003 “Cuvee Romaine” $13 (PB)
From the Cotes Du Rhone: The bouquet of pipe tobacco, flowers, and yeast filled with fruity aromas. A faint layer of chocolate covered cherries; chewy, balanced, cherry flavors and chocolate. Good structure, a little smoke and a nice finish.

Paolo Scavino Rosso Vina Di Tavola 2003 (PB)
Flowers and candy with a creamy tone. Fabulous! The candy nose takes on sweet cherries and a hint of Jasmine.

There is plenty of old world flavor in the mouth with a little spice forward, black and white pepper, fruit on the rear with a finish of fresh cherries that lasts. At $15, this is a must find!

Buena Vista Carneros Reserve Pinot Noir (PB)
I picked this wine up on a lark on my way back from Boston. It cost me $15. Loads of strawberries and chocolate through and through; solid structure, nice food wine and nice quaffing wine. Worth searching out! Positively delicious and eliciting a “Wow!” from me. What a nice surprise and a nice value.

Joan Gine Gine Priorat 2000 (NW)
Exceptional Spanish bargain at $14, although I may have gotten an unusually low price. Lots of layers and an array of flavors built into a rich mouth feel from start to finish. Wow!

Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2004 (PB)
Deep, dark blackberry and dried cherry nose with a trace of spiced apples on opening.
It is so balanced and ready to drink right NOW. It is rich in fruit full of berries plump and ripe. It finishes with a touch of currants though subtle. Because it is so well made and ready to drink this wine will pair with all kinds of stuff! Find out what a well made, balanced, ready to drink wine is like.

Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (NW)
Even better than the 2001, this is surely one of the best deals in California Cab. Very well balanced with berry flavors and an elegant texture and finish. Very enjoyable and only $15! I bought a half case on sale for $12!

Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz 2002 (NW)
Fragrant nose and delicious ripe fruit, accented by vanilla and sweet spices. A wonderful example of Australian Shiraz for $15!

Rosenblum Zinfandel Oakley Vineyard 2003 (PB)
Cherry aromas and a little spice with dark berry aromas that are intense. Rich with nice raisiny flavors with a scant hint of chocolate and spice. This is a food friendly wine and at $15, I HAVE to recommend this Zin!

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot 2001 (PB)
Already recommended once but I HAVE to recommend it again just in case you missed it! At $11, "Marvin K Mooney, Will you please go NOW" and grab this while you can!

Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2004 (PB)
This wine is big in every way right on opening with a huge bouquet of dark fruit. It sells rich! In the mouth this wine is just as full with loads of body and flavor and mouth feel. With a little air time, which isn’t necessary for this elegant creation, it is so full of flavor and if you ever wondered what “plush” tannins were like; this is it! This is just a nicely made, elegant wine. It finished velvety, and long–the finest tannins I have had yet! At the listed reference price of $18, this wine is a bargain BUT–Sam’s Club has it for under $13!

Chateau Montpezat 2003 (PB)
This lighter, garnet colored wine is from the Coteaux Du Languedoc. The bouquet is full of cherries and licorice. It is a little sweet with nice, even flavors. For a $15 wine this is VERY nice and worth seeking out!

Sebastiani Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 (NW)
Don’t be fooled by the rather generic name of this wine. The bouquet of this garnet wonder from Sonoma is graceful, fruity on the bouquet w/ a couple different layers of eucalyptus with a touch of licorice. It is rich in currants, with a sweetish fragrance and a great balance. I would push it to that “special” 90 range. You can find it for around $15!

Cartlidge and Browne Pinot Noir 2003 (PB)
This light red beauty comes out of the bottle with seductive aromas of fresh fruit and pipe tobacco aromas. Has a tartness and pleasant finish of cherry fruit. At $10.50 this is a "search out" wine!

House Wine Columbia Valley 2003 (PB)
Search it out: at less than $12 it is a blend of Washington state Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot and it is really BIG! Chocolate, fudge and berry/cherry flavors with mellow tannins (after breathing and decanting) yields a BIG, full flavored wine.

Kendall Jackson Vinter's Reserve Pinot Noir 2003 (PB)
The bouquet fills the room of fresh fruit of raspberries, currants, black cherries and black berries. Full of spice that is elegant in balance with a touch of chocolate in the end. VERY nice especially at $12!

Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (PB)
This $13 wine is must experience wine of inexpensive first rate wines which are superior for their price. It has a slightly minty, bouquet with sheer finesse in flavors and balance. It is not only a great food wine but excellent all by itself. Don't let this one pass you by! Wines this good for this price are must buys! (See complete review in posts)

Sterling Vintner's Collection Pinot Noir 2003 (PB)
This Central Coast delight is light on the pour with a raspberry bouquet with a real nice balance of fruit, tannins and acid. With a little time to breathe, cherries are up front and the balance is superior with a long elegant finish abounding in chocolate. At $12, this is worth hunting down before you miss it!

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot 2001 (PB)
Lighter on the pour with a bouquet that is fruity and the nose rich, even meaty. Medium bodied with robust tannins and a foundation of mixed berry flavors. A large presence of currants and raspberries climb on top with a nice silky texture. There is even some spice that tops it off for a provocative finish. It is a bargain value at $11.00. I would give it an 88 maybe even an 89.

Chateau De Flougerges 2001 $16 (PB)
This wine from the Coteaux Du Languedoc is beautiful and youthful in the glass and before swirling, a playful fruitiness danced its way into my presence that was almost candied like a hint of bubblegum. The bouquet is punctuated with a yeasty, fresh baked bread nose while swirling releases a chocolate surprise full of ripe berries. In the mouth there is a perky little hum, nearly “spritzig” to use the German term for a hint of carbonation only this is subtler. Tannins are lively and the wine is structurally sound. With some airtime, the yeasty fragrance mellows out and currants emerge with full rich force. The finish is somewhat delicate. Unique!(PB)

Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Merlot 2001 (NW)

(see "quick Swirl" review for more info)
This is an exceptional wine. I paid $16/bottle on sale; Wine Spectator scored it 90 points. This is a great buy from Chile!

White Wine Recommendations $10-20

Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay (Sonoma) 2005
One of my favorite inexpensive Chards, this is very light golden with vanilla curd and light citrus with ripe mandarin orange notes in the bouquet.

In the mouth this wine is sharply acidic (in a good way) with lovely flavors of vanilla and lemon. It is just a super value at $11 (Sam's Club)

Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2006 (PB)
K Vinter's stellar $14 Riesling is crisp, flavorful and really well made. See full review to appreciate how much you should seek this out!

Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2005 (PB)

This is a unique and special wine with great structure and unique aromas and flavors which compliment many food stuffs! At $11, you MUST try it out!

White Oak Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (PB)
It is a very pale straw on the pour with a huge bouquet of fragrant pears and the trademark grassiness that sets off the S. Blanc grape in it’s classic form. This is classic and at $15 a real value!

This wine smells sweet but isn't. It has great acidity pushing the fruit through to the finish of more pears.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay 2002 (PB)
This Chardonnay is beautiful gold with a spectacular bouquet and nose of Creme Brulee. Figs and pineapple break the surface and come up around the Brulee. It is elegantly balanced with solid acids;although not huge on fruit, it is unique.
At $9, you have to try it!

Zind Humbrecht Gewurtztraminer 2004 (PB)
A golden wine with a bouquet of fruit of apples, peaches, apricots and pineapple. In the mouth it is rich and full. There is a layer of smoke that is subtle but definite and fascinating. The finish of this wine is lingering and full of fresh apricots that just keeps going. This is great with food or as an aperitiffe. $20 but worth every penny! Go!!!

Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc 2004 (PB)

Straw colored with generous fragrances of pineapple, mandarin oranges and “grassy” aroma. It is supple with nice mouth feel and big pineapple and quince flavors. The finish is simply, nice! $12-$15

Rosemount Estates Traminer-Riesling 2004 (PB)

Pale golden with a light bouquet of apricots and peaches. In the mouth it is sweeter than I would have expected but is quite refreshing. The texture is rich and there is a subtle hint of bananas which is quite nice. The finish is long and satisfying. This was a Wine Spectator top 100 under $15. I paid $6; NICE!

Essensia 2003 Orange Muscat Dessert Wine (PB)
At $11, this half bottle of honey dessert wine bursts with floral aromas of orange blossoms and lilacs. From the provovative color to the caramel and fruit finish, this wine is a bargain all the way. Don't pass it up!

Red Wine Recommendations Under $10

La Vielle Ferme Red 2006 (PB)

Usually around $6-8 this is a value red that you will enjoy. (See entire review)

Cline Zinfandel 2006 (PB)

This wine is well made with a solid bouquet of spice and berries galore with just a hint of alcohol.In the mouth it is full of rich, ripe plums, and big berry flavors and a slight layer of chocolate emerges with a little warm up finishing with rich blackberry notes and a touch of caraway mid palate. Less than $7 at Sam's clubs.

Torres de Anguix Barrica 2003 wine review by (PB)

Some of the best wine values today are coming out of the Ribera Del Duero! This one is no exception at $7. It is really intense in color of black cherry right to the rim with heft in both hue and aromas. The Tempranillo wine is full of deep dark fruit and ripe dark berries.

Concannon Merlot "Select Vineyards" 2004 (PB)

At $6, you just can't go wrong; fruit forward, actually tastes a bit like Merlot vinified in the slightly sweeter style. Well made and very drinkable!

Casillero Del Diablo Carmenere 2004 (PB)
This new world fruit bomb is tasty with dark berry fruit and chocolate. Another Chilean success and all for about $8!

Santa Digna Cabernet Sauvignon Rose 2006 (PB)
This Chilean delight is a gorgeous pink watermelon tourmaline color with a wonderful BIG bouquet that is perfumy and full of fruit. In the mouth this wine is pretty much the same with solid acid and marvelous flavors of citrus with a pink grapefruit finish. $8!

Feudo Arancio Nero D'Avola 2003
For $6 on sale this is hard to beat with dusty fruit and cranberry/cherry flavors. Worth looking for!

Feudo Arancio Nero D'Avola 2004

This wine is a pretty cherry red with bready notes in the bouquet with plenty of fresh red fruit and a nose with a touch of spice? Eucalyptus? and definitely licorice!

In the mouth right on opening this wine is well made with a slightly sweet impression with loads of fruit, cedar notes, and fine tannins. It is nice right now!

With some air, it gets only better. It is still bready with gobs of fruit, nice structure, and is just a plain GOOD wine. Buy this NOW! I paid $6 for it!

Columbia Crest Two Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2002
A bargain wine full of flavor and structure and at its peak right now. This is a rare Cabernet that is this good at this price.

La Vieille Ferme Rose 2005
This is a classy rose you must try and be sure to read my review of it. At less than $6, it is a must try!

Fusee Syrah 2003 (PB)
It has pipe tobacco aromas, with cherries and berries galore and is just made well. It is actually quite luscious and at $7, you cannot do better!
Raise a glass!

Hacienda Merlot 2003 (PB)
The bouquet is yeasty, fruity cherry and berry nose. In the mouth this wine is steely like a Sangiovese with a slight sweetness and loaded with fruit and berry flavors. Tasty, juicy exuberant and an inexpensive solidly made wine. Raise a glass!

Fusee Merlot 2003 (PB)
Another super wine value from the folks at Sebastiani.
This wine is loaded with dried cherries in the nose and a hint of green peppers in the rear. On the palate it is full of flavors of dried fruit, and vanilla. this wine will run you $4-$7. Either way, buy it! (See complete review)

Panarroz Jumilla 2004 (NW)
Spanish wines under $10 can range from delicious bargains to unfortunate mistakes. This wine delivers, and has wonderful layers of fruit and a juicy core. An excellent buy at $9 and loved by Robert Parker, Jr.

Camelot Pinot Noir 2003 (PB)
This previously reviewed wine is an absolute must to seek out and find. It is rich in raisins on the palate and just does not get any better than this for this price and much more. It actually tastes like Pinot Noir should and at $6 you CANNOT pass it up! Go now! Git!!! Find it; buy it; drink it!

Feudo Arancio Nero D' Avola 2003 (PB)
Classic old world Sicilian red with dried cherries galore and a hint of anise. Breathe for an hour and enjoy the mouth watering tannins. All for $8!

Gallo of Sonoma Pinot Noir Reserve 2003 (PB)
This inexpensive Pinot Noir is a great value and wonderful example of the grape. Don't miss this one if you are ignorant of what classic Pinot aroma and taste is like. At $10, knock yourself out and raise a glass!

Concannon Petite Syrah 2003 (PB)
This wine is so intense in deep purple color it leaves pigmentation on the glass after you swirl. It has a unique nose that is deep and inky with a hint of milk chocolate. In the mouth this gorgeous wine is big with humongous but finessed tannins. Deep dark berry fruit is central with a subtle layer of anise. At $10 it is a find!

Rancho Zabaco Dancing Bull Zinfandel 2003 (PB)
Fruit filled with black cherries opening to a wonderful fruity wine with solid tannins and a rich flavor of hay and watermelon and little spice. At $8.50, give it a whirl; have I steered you wrong yet?

Camelot Pinot Noir 2003 (PB)
Read the complete review but don't waste time doing that before you run out and buy some of this bargain creation fro around $7! It has some complexity, great flavors and pairs well with a variety of foods. At this price, it's hard to beat!

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 (PB)
It is deep and dark in the glass with raisiny and ripe blackberry aromas. Flavors are quite large with prunes and ripe fruit though hot on opening. A nice chocolate finish gives this $9 wine a shot at greatness. One of the best value wines of the year.
Concannon Petite Syrah 2002
Recommended back in March and now recommoneded again. check out the review and then go buy a couple bottles of this inexpensive, ($10) big wine!

Hahn Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 (PB)

Rich with intense berry flavors and lush tannins with licorice and raisiny notes with a nice flavorful finish. At $10 this is another great bargain!

Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (PB)
This New Zealand creation is golden with a bouquet of kiwi fruit and pineapple. After a few minutes another layer emerges of classic Sauvignon Blanc grassiness. Because I believe it is readily available and because it is such a good example of the grape, I have to recommend this. At $9.50, you can raise a glass or two.

Chateau Du Donjon Grande Tradition 2003 (PB)
A nice surprise in an unknown red and for $8.50 a fresh, delightful guzzler. See complete review in recent posts.

Concannon Petite Syrah Selected Vineyards 2002 (PB)
This wine is rich with currant aromas, and dried raspberries. In the mouth it is wonderful, and big and tannins finish with a real finesse. Wow! At $10 you have to get this one--seems to be widely available.

2 Brothers Big Tattoo Red 2003 (PB)

Another winner from Chile. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Syrah is fruity with olives and yeast on the nose. It is amazingly big and balanced with an initial cocoa tease giving way to dried cherries. Good tannins make for a nice finish. At less then $10 this is a keeper. I would score this an 87.

Bodegas Escorihuela Malbec Mendoza Don Miguel Gascón 2000 (PB)
I paid $10 for it; tasted 1-10-05 This Argentinian is youthful in color and deep. Bouquet is nice but not huge. It is lively in the mouth with a unique bitterness and tartness neither of which is "bad" just intriguing. Even structure and nice tannins with cherries. This is well made and a good all around wine. Possible buy again. Wine Spectator gave it a "Best Buy." My reveiw was not as strong as theirs. They gave it an 88; I might give it an 84.

Camelot Pinot Noir 2002 $6.50 (PB)
On the pour it is really light; almost enough to conclude that this couldn’t possibly be any good. In the glass it has light scents of currants and too much alcohol. But...with twenty minutes or so of air time, there was a thrilling though fleeting moment of dill which gave way to some pretty definite flavors of dried cherries and currants. At $6.50 where I bought it, how can you go wrong? I can’t wait to find the 2003! By the way, the 2001 of this same wine was equally good though more intense on raisins! Now put aside your scepticism and raise and a glass!

White Wine Recommendations Under $10

Chateau Ste. Michelle Reisling 2006

This wine is barely yellow with a hint of green. The bouquet is fruity with gobs of peach, pear citrus, and apricot all rolled into one fruit compote aroma that is nearly flowery.
The palate is sweet to off dry with light citrus notes with fresh stone fruit flavors. I paid under $6 so go for it!

Man Chenin Blanc 2005

For less than $7, this is a nice fruity food wine or quaffing wine that pairs with so many things. How can you beat the price?

Beringer Chenin Blanc 2006 "Premier Vineyard Selection"

Bargain wine to chill down and enjoy Summer. Peach filled with nice body. At $4.50 you can't go wrong!

House White 2006 The Magnificent Wine Company (PB)
Nicely made with great aromas of pears and peaches with flavors of the same. A good aperitif or food wine. Runs right around $10 and is ubiquitous so grab some today!

Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc 2005 by (PB)
I found this wine for $7 and it is wonderful, tasty, well made S. Blanc that has a wonderful lively kick in the mouth. Apricots, Peaches and vanilla cream--a super value!

Columbia Crest Chardonnay 2003 review by (PB)

A superb value with a bouqet of peaches and creme brulee with enough acid to make it a great wine with food or all alone. Trust me on this. At $6, how can you go wrong?

Domaine De La Batardiere 2004 wine review by (PB)
Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur lie

This wine cost me $7.50 which was a great surprise after tasting it. It is light straw in color with a gentle yet definite bouquet that is sweet full of summer fruit. The nose is baffling in a good way. It is at first full of lime and lemon but then no, maybe grapefruit(?) er, uh, no it’s peach. It smells like none of them and then again all of them. Maybe it’s “stone fruit!”

In the mouth this is just plain wonderful; simple and yet not at all sweet as the aroma would lead you to believe. It is marvelously acidic which makes it great with food. (We had it with King crab leg appetizers and bruschetta on our porch enjoying the Summer warmth. Ahhhhhh…)

Beringer Chenin Blanc 2005 (BP)
This straw colored wine is just a head turner; sweet pineapple, tropical fruit and a creamy vanilla pudding overtone.

In the mouth it is sweet with a supple texture. There is a fine apricot finish that is REALLY nice. This wine was $4.29.

Fetzer Gewurtztraminer 2005 (PB)
It is golden with a ripe, sweet peachy/apricotty bouquet and apples underneath.

In the mouth it is subtly “spritzig” (German for effervescent or bubbly) with nice mouth feel, good acid, good balance and an apricot finish. I found it for $7.50 is Boston.

KWV Steen 2004 (PB)
This inexpensive wine–$8–is pale straw on the pour with a really nice bouquet of buttery notes and pineapple with a hint of pears. In the mouth it is very well made with a supple texture and solid balance.

The pineapple carries through with a nice mouth feel and a finish that lingers with buttery fruit.

Covey Run Riesling 2004 (PB)
Not to be confused with Covey Run “Dry Riesling” this wine is light, fresh and a bouquet of pineapple and citrus. In the mouth it is fresh, lively with a bit of “spritzig” (sparkle) and well balanced. At $7 this is a run out and buy all you find wine! Drink by itself or with a spicy dish or even Chinese! Wine Spectator 87 points.

Kono Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (PB)
This wine is typical New Zealand with a bouquet of fresh cut apples and guava.
This wine is highly acidic in a good way and is fresh with big pear and guava flavors with a a sense of creaminess on the palate yet it finishes it clean and dry. At $10, pick it up and try it; I believe you'll love it!

Dry Creek Chenin Blanc 2004 (PB)

This pale straw white wine has a strong nose of pineapple, apples and tropical fruit that is fabulous. In the mouth, this quaff is solidly acidic making it a great pairing wine with many foods and it is neither sweet nor dry. It is a tad creamy and just plain impressive at $9. Don't miss this one. You can't afford too!

Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (PB)
This New Zealand phenome is a pale yellow in the glass with a phenomenal classic “grassy” Sauvignon Blanc bouquet with a citrusy foundation. In the mouth this wine is superbly balanced with a solid base of acid. It is rich and creamy in the mouth and the finish just keeps on going and going. At $8.99 buy some NOW!

Covey Run Dry Riesling 2003 (PB)
It's brilliant, and lively with a unique bouquet and a candied nose of something elusive and exciting. A bit sweet yet its acidity balances it out well. It turns buttery, fruity and wonderful with food or by itself. At $8, this is a winner and another recommended wine to seek after.

Simonsig Chenin Blanc 2003 (PB)

This South African from the Stellenbosch region is golden pale on the pour with fruit galore in the bouquet has a nose of pears, Apple, peaches and apricots with a hint of nectarines and a definite texture and flavor of rich cream. The 2004 is supposed to be even better! At $9 look for it!

Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc 2004 Marlborough "Regional Collection" (PB) $10
Wine Spectator rated this wine an 88 and a "Best Buy." It's every bit of that! So go for it and raise a glass!

Fetzer Gewurztraminer 2004 Valley Oaks (PB) $7
Put a good chill on this flavorful liquid Summer in a glass and just enjoy it to the max all by itself. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

Snoqualmie Sauvignon Blanc 2003 (PB)

This is a pretty and crisp straw colored wine that shimmers in the glass. There are loads of fresh cut apples, peaches and pears in the bouquet which is positively refreshing and tantalizing. With such nice acid it is great for food pairing. I had it with fried chicken and it was lovely. It finishes with some lasting fruit and at $5.79 a bottle I urge you to run to find it before it's gone.

Salmon Creek Chardonnay 2002/2003 (California) (PB)

For the price, this one's hard to beat! You'll pay less than $5--seriously--and you'll be treated to buttery texture, decent acid perkiness and vanilla. I prefer the 02 to the 03 but only by a whisker.

Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc 2004 (PB)
This Chilean is another great buy out of S. America. It is huge in the bouquet of apricots and peaches. If I didn't know better I would have pegged it as a nice Gewurztraminer (another grape type)but the taste is characteristically Sauvignon Blanc. With a good acid base it is lively and citrusy making it another Wine Spectator "Best Buy." At $8-$10 you can't miss this one!

Dry Creek Vineyards 2003 Chenin Blanc Clarksburg (PB)
Don't let the name of the grape cause you to think "cheap white jug wine." This Californian is another steel at $8.50. On opening pears and pineapple lifesavers are impossible to miss. I was hooked almost before I had it in my mouth. But in the mouth it is rich in vanilla with a lovely citrusy tartness and slight lemon finish. I bought up the last two bottles of this I could find in a 75 miles radius. You should do likewise. Wine Spectator branded this a "Best buy." I'll say!

Sebastiani Chardonnay 2001 (PB)

At $10 I sought out this wine as a recommended “best buy” from Wine Spectator. It even looks rich in the bottle causing me a second look to see if the bottle glass wasn’t tinted gold. It wasn’t, that was the color of this phenome. On the pour pears leap out of the glass and there is a rich butteryness in the bouquet. Wow! In the mouth, the flavors are deep and balanced with pineapple lifesavers underneath, silky texture and vanilla highlights to finish it all off.