Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rosenblum Richard Sauret Vineyard Zinfandel 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Nose of raspberry cream, black cherry, and roses
Fairly tightly wound on the palate with dark fruit
Elegant, structured finish with faint layers of vanilla emerging with air

I enjoyed a number of wines with PB of this blog over the Thanksgiving weekend. We have sampled a number of the Rosenblum single-vineyard Zinfandels this year and figured it was time to pop the cork on the 2001 Richard Sauret.

We didn't pair this with the Thanksgiving turkey- this was a Wednesday night wine with pasta. The reason is that I expected this wine to be big and over the top in ripe fruit and alcohol. In fact, this was not the case. It was rather well-balanced and refined.

Because it seemed a little tight at first, we decanted it and gave it plenty of air. It loosened up to reveal some additional flavors, but remained elegant and balanced. I really enjoyed it.

I paid $26 for the wine three years ago in Florida. Perhaps the additional bottle aging in my cellar worked in its favor and helped refine the profile. It did get big scores from critics on release, for example, 92 points from Wine Spectator.

Good Zinfandel is a real treat. Raise a glass!

Edna Valley Paragon Syrah 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Big, rich nose of blackberry, blueberry, and plum
Smooth core with some herbal and pepper tones
Smooth finish with a touch of chocolate

I was in the mood for a good domestic Syrah. When I found this on sale for $15 at a local gourmet market, I decided to give it a try. Overall, it's well made and has a good balance to it. This wine would please many palates. The only criticism is that the finish isn't quite as rich and lingering as I would have expected.

Domestic Syrah is still under-valued and under-appreciated. This is a pretty good Syrah that I just grabbed off the shelf without any prior knowledge- and was pleasantly rewarded. Try doing that with a domestic Cab for $15 and your chances of disappointment are considerably higher. Raise a glass!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lenz Old Vine Cabernet Sauvignon wine review by (PB)

This was one of the six wines sent to us by our friends at Lenz Winery on Long Island. (See disclaimer and previous review of their Merlot)

Sharing Thanksgiving with my daughter and (NW) in Boston we wanted to taste this wine together. It was served to us with one other wine in a tandem blind tasting. In other words, two wines, which we knew would be served but we didn’t know which was which.

Both (NW) and I pegged the New York wine against the Washington State wine. Here are my notes; (NW’s) will follow later.

Tight stingy bouquet with green pepper, herbal nose. It is coarsely varietal, austere and rustic with austere finish; more Old World in style; needs air. (Just on the smell, I figured this to be the NY State wine as opposed to the New World style of the other wine.)

With some breathing, the herbal tones disappear to reluctantly give up fruit and pepper in the nose. In the mouth this wine gives forth loads of fruit, brown sugar and cinnamon flavors. Some plum and blackberry fruit ride along. This wine runs about $30. You need a discriminating palate to appreciate this wine. Raise a glass!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Rombauer Chardonnay (Carneros) 2004 wine review by (PB)

Well, Thanksgiving day is always a festive time and when (NW) and myself happen to be together on that festive day, it means wine a plenty. We had a total of 10 wines between the night before, the day of and the day after. We sacrifice our free time and our wants and desires for the soul purpose of being able to inform you of what works and what doesn’t; what’s good and what’ not so good. Yes, we do it ALL for you. Okay maybe not so much, but you are always in mind! For the next few days you will be reading about the wines we experienced from the vantage points of two of our three reviewers.

Unfortunately (Billy) was duty bound in Times Squares over the holiday slaving away for “The man” and his family. We missed you Beege!

Our adventure began with (NW) coming out of his walk-in cellar with a half bottle of Rombauer Chardonnay which is one of his favorites when he’s in the mood for this type of Chard. I had never had it as it is a bit pricey running about $30 for a full bottle.

This Chard is a pale golden with a wonderful bouquet of Crème Brulee all the way with pumpkin spice in the nose. Really nice!

In the mouth this wine is almost thick yet it is supple with marvelous acid and a fruit laden buttery feel in the mouth. The finish just keeps on giving. I concluded my notes with “Wow!” So this was the first fitting glass we raised—for YOU of course—and we did many more so drop by again!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Allende Rioja 2003 Review by Billy

I wrote before that I was in Manhattan on Business. Well I am still here and will be spending Thanksgiving here as well (thankfully my family was able to fly out to spend it with me).

Last night I had the chance to eat at a nice little place called Artisanal located at
2 Park Avenue in Manhattan. While there the fetching Mrs. Billy, the generous Mr Boss-Mann and I enjoyed a wine and cheese flight (see the three wines I tasted immediately below this post) as well as a bottle of this 2003 Allende Rioja (from the Rioja region of Spain).

This is a Rioja made from 100% Tempranillo (the grape varietal, pronounced temp-rah-NEE-yo) which is one of my personal favorites.

Upon opening the 2003 Allende had the following characteristics
Nose: supple blackbery, leather and tobacco, cherry and vanilla creme.
Palate: tight and acidic. needs to unwind. balance will come with some air time
Finish: tight tight tight.

The 2003 Allende Tempranillo grapes are unusually high in acid (earlier harvest maybe?) which makes the wine seem so tight at first. However, the nose is classic Tempranillo - soft vanilla creme and supple dark berry with some leathery complexity- this is why I love the varietal so much.

After about a half hour of air time I take down this review in my notes:
Nose: mellows dramatically with time. Pronounced rasin and tobacco now. Muted dark fruit (plumb, currant). Not nearly as much cherry as before.
Palate: Much better balance with just a bit of air time. The tannins come out of hiding and bitterness receeds. Quite nice though not as full in the mouth as I would have liked.
Finish: Dried cherries (so THAT'S where the cherry moved to). Some fruity feel at the back of the tongue. Lingering. Not as round as other Tempranillos. Nice though.

This is definitely a wine I will like to try again.

So Hello and Happy Thanksgiving from the Big Apple. Don't forget to Raise a Glass on our behalf and give thanks to the Creator of the vine!

Montes Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 review by Billy

Nose: Bland, blah. Where is it?
Palate: limp, flacid. What is in my mouth?
Finish: short, shallow.

The big loser of the evening wine flight was this Montes Reserve Cab from Chile. Overall one to avoid because there is not really anything there. Perchance I got a bad bottle, though the wine was not "corked". Perchance it was the last of a bottle that had been open too long. Nevertheless, it was worth avoiding.

Dolcetto d'Alba Scarzello 2003 review by Billy

Nose: light berry, strawberry, creamy vanilla
Palate: round and soft tannins.
Finish: black cherry cola and soft redfruit creamily melt away.

This was my favorite of the flight I tasted. Big soft berries without being jammy or overpowering. Smooth.

Babich Riesling 2005 Review by Billy

Nose: Apple, Daisy Flower, Kiss of Red Grapefruit
Palate: Crisp. Apply. Good Acid, Quite Dry
Finish: Tart Granny Smith apple finishes dry.

Overall this is a very nice very dry Riesling. Big on apple and some citrus. Great with cheese before a main course.

Dry Creek Chenin Blanc 2004 wine review by (PB)

Dry Creek makes one of my regular favorite Chenins but I liked them MUCH more when they running $7 a bottle instead of the $10 they now go for.

This one is pale golden with a pronounced bouquet of pineapple.

In the mouth this wine is off dry—meaning, it tastes like it has a sweet edge but is actually quite dry with a nice zippy acid foundation. It finishes with a strong citrus ending with apricot and peach notes. This wine however was better in the Spring which means it is going down hill so drink it up NOW. And raise a glass to a happy Thanksgiving to all.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thanksgiving Day Wine (NW)

Thanksgiving day meals, whether traditional or uniquely creative, offer a terrific opportunity to showcase the marriage of wine and food. A lot of people fret over the wine pairings because there's a lot of time and money invested in the meal. Let me suggest that the pairings don't need to be exacting and a wide variety of wines will suffice.

Some general categories of wine tend to be very good pairings for Thanksgiving. This is partly due to that fact that most meals have a number of dishes and a wide variety for flavors. Wines that do well in this situation are wines that naturally accompany food, both red and white. The red wines that are often viewed as traditional Thanksgiving meal accompaniments include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a great way to enhance the meal. Is it too red- meaning too full-bodied and powerful? I say no. Cabernet Sauvignon does well with meats, even poultry, especially when accompanied by sauces, gravy, and starches. To refine this selection, try a Cab with a little bit of age on it. The age will likely have mellowed the wine's tannins and softened its edges.

Pinot Noir can be a stunning accompaniment to a Thanksgiving meal! It's really an amazing varietal that has the capability of total success and total failure. Therefore, it's the riskiest choice. For example, I paired a highly regarded Oregon Pinot Noir with the meal two years ago, but it didn't work at all. It was an amazing wine, for sure, but too exotic and smokey. It just didn't work. If you know you've got a good one, then go for it. Otherwise, be careful because Pinot Noir is the most unpredictable varietal.

Zinfandel is often considered a perfect pairing for Thanksgiving. After all, it's the most American grape. Stick with a traditional Zinfandel if you're going this route. Some of the newer single vineyard bottlings are highly ripe, alcoholic, and overpowering. They won't work well. Make sure you are serving a traditional, balanced wine. A good wine merchant can help you find the right wine. For example, Ridge produces Zinfandel blends that are very elegant and balanced.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you're looking for white wine, consider Riesling, Chardonnay, or Chenin Blanc. Riesling can be an amazing food wine, but you'll have to stick with the dry versions. These dry Rieslings are produced the world over, but if you're shopping in the German aisle look for kabinett or spatlese bottlings.

Chardonnay can be a nice choice, especially if you're unsure of your guests' preferences. Because Chardonnay comes in so many forms, look for a wine that has the reputation of ripe tropical fruit and enough acidity for food.

Chenin Blanc could deliver a nice pairing if you're looking for something on the lighter side. It can be very crisp, so get the help of a good wine merchant if you'd like to find one with a little more body.

Obviously, you can find success with a number of wines and, therefore, have some flexibility. In fact, not only do you have some flexibility in wine selections, you have an opportunity to present multiple wines. I always recommend this as a way to satisfy different palates and make the meal more festive. Multiple pairings give people the chance to figure out what they like and go back for more of the same. If you have the means, I recommend placing two glasses at each place setting- either one red and one white or two red glasses.

Also, when considering multiple pairings, use finger food and appetizers as a way to offer up other wine options. Before the meal, consider opening a sparkling wine or use this as a chance to offer a white wine if you're only offering reds with the meal. Rose can also be a nice pairing for appetizers. And don't forget about dessert wines. For example, this year we are having three small dessert courses. With the first two, we'll have a dessert wine and with the last one we'll have coffee.

Wine can ehance a Thanksgiving meal in many different ways. Realize that you have many options and don't fret over exacting your wine pairings. With all the flavors and various dishes, a number of different wines will work. Just enjoy making wine a part of the festivities. Raise a glass!

Sterling “Vinters Collection” Cabernet Sauvignon Central Coast 2003 wine review by (PB)

Dark cherry appearance with an opacity to the hue with dark berry core on opening.

In the mouth this wine is intense full of ripe fruit accompanied by nice structure, tender tannins and a finish that is nearly jammy with blackberries galore. Breathing doesn’t really add anything to this wine. The finish is long and fruity. I paid $13 on sale. We had this with New York Strip Steaks on the grill. Very nice! Raise a glass to bizarre warm November remnants of Summer in the Northeast.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Eiswein Nachtgold 2004 wine review by (PB)

This German ice wine from the Rheinhessen is a pale golden color with mandarin orange aromas in the bouquet and orange blossom scents in the nose.

It has a unique presence in the mouth with floral and pepper layers. It is of course sweet and thickish with flavors of orange, stewed apricots and citrus. It lacks sufficient acid too carry it really well but it’s not bad. When you consider the price of a typical ice wine can be over $100 on up, this wine is a treat even if not a superlative dessert wine. For $16, (half bottle) raise a glass!

Banrock Station Merlot 2005 wine review by (PB)

This Aussie wine is a pretty good example of the benefit of the wine glut facing the vintners from “Down Undah!” Too much wine means bargain prices and this Merlot, which I picked up for $6, is typical. It is a light red cherry in color with lighter fruit but quite nice with some cedar and spice in the nose.

The flavor fills the mouth better than you would expect based on the color and price with a jammy fruit, smoke and oak presence. The texture is a bit thin but still yields a decent finish of ripe fruit.

With some air time, a smokey layer emerges and the fruit seem to thin out; it was better on opening. The finish is smokey and oakey. For the price, this was okay. Not a classic Merlot but a decent enough wine to slosh back with a grilled steak. Raise a glass!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Gallo of Sonoma Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 wine review by (PB)

This wine was a Gaiter/Brecher (Wall Street Journal) “inexpensive Cabernet” pick several weeks back. My wife found it for $14 and wanted to give it a shot.

The color of this wine is nice with a medium garnet hue. It has fruit forward bouquet with a nice touch of cinnamon “red hots” trailing after. It has a dark fruit nose though a bit closed on opening.

In the mouth this wine is nice right off yet a little tight. There is a nice gentle touch of vanilla, and a little spice and of course dark fruit. With a half hour of breathing this wine gets even better being full of ripe, dark berries with a touch of cedar.

My wife and I both liked this wine and think it a good value. What is weird is that the Wine Spectator reviewed this wine saying it had intense tannins. Their review was done in June. I remarked in my journal that the tannins were down right supple. Bottle variation or quick maturation in six months? Beats me—just raise a glass; this should be readily available.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2005 - Review by Billy (finally)

Hello friends.
I am in the Big Apple on a death march project for a fun client. While staying at the Hilton Times Square, I ordered a half bottle of the 2005 Seghesio Zinfandel from Sonoma. I should say that I have been eating and drinking as if on a death march so at this point almost anything would taste good. However, I have to say I enjoyed this wine.

Nose: Currant, jammy dark fruit, pepper
Palate: round and soft and mellow. Not bitter or overly tannic. Very pleasant indeed.
Finish: smooth and rich like velvet with lingering dried fruit and jam.

So overall, I thoroughly enjoy this wine. Online it seems to go for about $23 or so. I wont even tell you what it cost for a half bottle through room service.

Well friends, Raise a Glass!

Beuajolias Nouveau 2006 Georges Du Boeuf wine review by (PB)

This was the only Nouveau released yesterday in my area.
(We'll be reviewing others as they become available.)

So here goes:
This wine is a bright purple/cherry color which is really pretty and the bouquet smells of strawberry candy with a really nice nose of more of the same.

In the mouth however, the first impression is that it is fairly tart, and thin on the flavor that was giving off such a nice aroma on the swirl. The finish is swift but has a very fleeting blast of fresh fruit.

Honestly, this is your typical Nouveau. If you read my post about B. Nouveau’s release, then you know that it is rarely about the wine but the fun and fan fare surrounding this wine and the convivial atmosphere of friends and family.

What makes this wine a bit disappointing is that I remember too well the extraordinary wine of last year’s Nouveau. I believe I wrote that 2005 was the best I can remember in many years. But to compare this wine to anything other than the moment, is to misunderstand wine in general and Nouveau in particular.

So forget the review and buy a bottle and give it a bit of a chill and then raise a glass to the “Joie de Vie!”

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Georges DuBoeuf Beaujoias-Villages Nouveau 2006 Real Time Wine Review (NW)

Strawberry jam nose
Light-bodied, herbal core
Moderately smooth finish

Today's the day to celebrate the new harvest release of Beaujolias Nouveau! It's the third Thursday of November, and the start of the holiday season for wine.

I stopped in a store after hopping an early afternoon Delta Shuttle from New York La Guardia to Boston. The store only had the Georges DuBoeuf, which is fine with me. I usually try this wine every year, and it's been priced at a reasonable $9.99 for the past few years.

The color is beautiful, as always, with a vibrant, youthful sparkle of garnet in the glass. After a quick swirl, the strawberry jam emerges on the nose. It's a beautiful smell, really. The palate is thin but straight forward, and it finishes smoothly.

This is a pretty good release. Maybe not on par with last year, but fruity, festive, and well-made. It's amazing to think this bottle of juice was growing on vines just about six weeks ago! That's the story of Beaujolias Nouveau and why it's such a celebration! Raise a glass!

d'Arenberg d'Arry's Original Shiraz-Grenache 2002 Wine Review (NW)

Blueberry jam nose
Smooth, dry core of fruit and herbs
Finishes with a big pepper blast followed by a final fruity note

The Southern Rhone-style really comes through on this one. It has a lot of the dry herbal and pepper notes I associate with Grenache and Shiraz.

This is a classic example of a good food wine. While it wasn't a terrific wine on its own, it paired extremely well with a white bean cassoulet. It costs around $17. Raise a glass to wine and food pairing!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Tonight is the night!

At one past midnight “Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!”
"The New Beaujolais has arrived!" It is one of the biggest celebrations of the wine world which is amusing since the wine itself is not really anything to write home about but it is certainly fun!

Over a million cases of Gamay based wine, are ready for consumption immediately and in fact, won’t last much beyond 9-12 months so DO NOT cellar this wine. Buy it, chill it and guzzle it! Last year was a banner year for this wine, one of the best I can remember, so this year’s wine will be hard to beat it.

The wine at its best is just plain simple, fruitiness, with strawberry flavors and light (relatively speaking) on the alcohol. It generally runs anywhere from $8-$12 a bottle.
NOTE--Make sure you’re not buying last year’s vintage!!!

From “”
“Apart from the fanfare, what makes Beaujolais Nouveau so popular? And especially in the U.S. where consumption of red wine is less than 30%? Simply put, Beaujolais Nouveau is as about as close to white wine as a red wine can get. Due to the way it is made—the must is pressed early after only three days—the phenolic compounds, in particular the astringent tannins, normally found in red wines, isn't there, leaving an easy to drink, fruity wine. This, coupled with the fact that it tastes best when chilled, makes for a festive wine to be gulped rather than sipped, enjoyed in high spirits rather than critiqued. As a side note, it makes a great transitional wine for anyone wanting to move from white to red wines.”

So check back here in a few days and I am sure we’ll have some of the first releases in our areas reviewed. What ever you do, Raise a glass to this great celebration.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Castello Banfi Cum Laude 2002 Real Time Review (NW)

Notes of tar and dark berries on the nose
Prune and molasses taste on the palate
Medium length finish with some black licorice, falls somewhat flat

I gave it some time in the glass, but it may be from a bottle that's been open too long. I asked the server and he didn't know. He felt bad and brought me a tasting of two very high end wines just to be nice.

In the meantime, the wine never developed. It remained kind of flat. It had a little bit of the Sangiovese style but I didn't really like it. It's a super-Tuscan, so most likely a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese.

This might not be a fair assessment, so I'll have to look for another opportunity to review this wine. I paid $17 for the glass at a restaurant on Long Island.

Raise a glass to real-time, wireless wine reviews!

Lenz Merlot “Estate Selection” 2000 wine review by (PB)

Full disclosure--As is our custom, whenever our friends from various wineries around the country send us wine to review we are sure to let you know that. One reason is that it helps us remain objective! We do not believe it helps anyone to give an inflated review just to stay in the good graces of a winery in order to obtain samples.

The folks at Lenz Winery on long Island New York sent each of us at the wine cask 6 bottles to review. Founded in 1978, the winery has some of the most mature vineyards in the region with nearly 70 acres of their own. (Although some tasting notes were included, I have not looked at those notes to again, insure objectivity)

What will be fun is for you to see how each of us rate the same wines. Since we live in different parts of the country, they will appear at random so keep visiting with us often.

This is my first experience with this winery and to be honest I am skeptical of any red wines coming out of New York. But you must read on--
This wine is a nice black cherry in color with a purple rim showing its youthfulness even though nearly 7 years old. There is an under bouquet of gentle fruit with a hint of dill but as you go deeper into the nose there seems to be a rather disturbing tone of alcohol.

First taste on opening is a trace of toluene with some toast and not much flavor. I will let this breathe.

With 50 minutes of air—bing, bang, boom! Some wines you just HAVE to breathe and this is one. This is NOT your typical “new world” wine and reminds me much more of an old world creation that is more subtle and layered and nuanced and thrilling. This turns into something totally unexpected with the benefit of air.

There is still a touch of dill in the nose, which I love, with a fruity raspberry and cherry bouquet. In the mouth there are subtle vanilla notes, then another layer of fruit then another layer of mystery; I am bewildered by this wine—it is well made, mysterious and still young! The enclosure with the wine says to drink within three years but this wine still has more time to age on it and will benefit from additional maturity.

Okay, so I am blown away by what has totally destroyed my preconceived notions about New York red wine. The reference price on this wine is $23. Now I can’t wait to try the others. Raise a glass to “Lawn Gyland!”

Les Violettes 2004 wine review by (PB)

This Cotes Du Rhone has a cherry color and a firm peppery foundation. It is a bit tight, tart and tangy with a generally light body. Dried cherries are prominent and the finish is over and done quickly. This is a simple wine, but frankly I enjoyed it. It was $7 for a half bottle—over priced by a couple bucks but still a good vins de table wine. Raise a glass.

Luccarelli Primitvo 2003 wine review by (PB)

This wine from Puglia Italy is the genetic “father” of California’s Zinfandel. Benedictine monks named the grape “primitivo” because of its tendency toward early maturity. Puglia is warm and sunny so this grape is generally very fruity and kind of “in your face” juicy yet is unlike California Zinfandel. It shows clearly how different regions and styles of wine making can greatly affect the same grape. Probably more than you want to know so—
This wine is “guess what?” in your face and bold and full of blackberry and plum fruit with a nice garnet color with a purple touch.

In the mouth this wine is heavy with solid flavors and a touch of smoke. With a few minutes of air, it gives just more ripe fruit aromas and rich berry fruit. For $9, this is a nice wine and different enough to enjoy now and again. Raise a glass!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico Blue Label 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Ripe cherry nose, with sweet spice notes
Steely core of cherry and blueberry, with an underlying richness
Elegant, smooth finish

Blue label! Make sure it's the blue label! This Chianti Classico is very nicely made and often available around $12-13. I paid $12 for this bottle.

The blue label wine is aged nine months in oak barriques, which is different from the winery's yellow label that I find to be a little flat. The oak supplies some underlying richness and some sweet, baking spices to the bouquet. Don't worry, it still retains the steely Sangiovese base beneath it all.

It's now my house Chianti. Raise a glass!

Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexander Requinoa Vineyard Syrah 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Juicy nose of berries, chocolate, and cinnamon
Core of dense fruit and anise
Fruity finish with chewy tannins

The Cuvee Alexander wines from Casa Lapostolle are starting to get a little expensive. At least in my neck of the woods, I have a hard time trying to find them for under $20. I paid $22 for this bottle, which I wouldn't want to do on a regular basis.

Disregarding the price for a moment, the wine is good. It has that dark, inky color and rich berry juice that is associated with Chilean reds. Evidence of oak comes through with the touches of chocolate and cinnamon.

I find myself reaching for Syrah more often than I used to. I'm amazed at how much there is now from the new world regions. Obviously, Australia made it big on Syrah (Shiraz), but it's being produced everywhere now. Raise a glass!

Covey Run Sauvignon Blanc 2004 wine review by (PB)

This Washington State wine is pale straw with a guava bouquet and sweet tropical fruit nose with a touch of pineapple lifesavers.

The palate is a bit tart, thin and citrusy with peach notes. It is really dry and has a very short finish. I am a S. Blanc fan but really am partial to New Zealand’s style. This is an affordable and decent wine for the $9 and it made The Wine Spectator’s “Best Value” annotation. They liked it a lot more than I did. I think the wine is very average for the price and frankly, below the norm for this value winery, which seems to always excel in value wines. But as a caveat I would mention I have been battling a borderline cold which may totally invalidate this review due to the medicine I have been taking. So, raise a glass and try it for yourself.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Who’s reading the Wine Cask Blog?

We have a tracker that shows us where our readers are from. So today, purely at random, I thought I would check and let you all know. Just this morning we had wine enthusiasts from the following countries:

Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, Finland, multiple hits from Spain, France and Italy and Germany; Denmark, the Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Canada and of course all over the United States.

So you see, you’re in good company! In the next few days we will be posting some suggestions for the holidays coming up. Be sure to keep checking and we will also have some exciting (and surprising) reviews out of New York State. We appreciate you stopping by and as always--raise a glass!

Lindemans Bin 99 Pinot Noir 2006 wine review by (PB)

The picky Pinot Noir grape is trying to make some headway in the land down under. This one is light cranberry/cherry color with a gentle bouquet of grape and strawberry that reminds me more of a Gamay.

The palate is fresh though a bit alcoholic with light flavors. After a half hour of air it is a fairly tasty wine though still out of balance with too much alcohol. The finish is actually nice and fruity. For the $8 I paid it is a drinkable wine and not offensive but as I so fond of writing, with so many other quality wines at value prices available why just settle. Raise a glass if this is on hand but don’t go searching for it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot 2000 wine review by (PB)

This wine is another of the Columbia Crest creations that have been bargains every step of the way. This one is medium garnet on the pour with an earthy, smoky, green peppery bouquet.

In the mouth it has a toasty presence that has tight but solid flavors; it needs to be breathed!

After a half hour or so it has stern tannins, touch of cocoa, with a herbal note. This is another decent wine at $10 but is not of the caliber of the 2001 which was a top value pick of everyone including us at the WCB. Never-the-less, raise a glass!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Clos Du Bois Chardonnay 2004 wine review by (PB)

Chardonnay is growing on me more and more. It was always “O.K.” but I find myself looking more and more for it on my shopping/hunting adventures.

This one was a gift with a marvelous meal made for us by some friends. It is lightly golden in the glass with a beautiful caramel, apple nose. Really nice! It has a decent foundation with butter cream flavors. At a pirce point of around $14, raise a glass with Cornish game hens, baked Brie and the sides.

Niebaum-Copolla Diamond Series Red Label Zinfandel 2004 wine review by (PB)

This Zin is a classic presentation of the varietal. It is rich and deep purple in the glass with a lush blackberry bouquet. In the mouth this wine is gushing with fruit of ripe blackberries with a zippy touch of spice, baked bread,and chocolate.

This wine is well made with solid tannic structure finishing with some smoke and more dark fruit.

As it breathes, there is more of the peppery suggestion you expect with a Zinfandel and just more of what’s above. At $14, this is worth picking up especially if you wonder what Zinfandel should taste like. This is a classic, and value presentation. Raise a glass.

Mark West Pinot Noir 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Nose of red cherry and raspberry
Dry, fruity core with herbal tones
Steely finish with some faint spice notes

I wanted more from this wine, but it remained steely and austere. I like Pinot Noir to be more voluptuous. However, with this varietal more than any other, you get what you pay for.

This bottle was $11 on sale from $14. I haven't come across very many memorable Pinot Noir's for under $15. I'd love to find some. More often, I hear praise reserved only for wines $30 and up.

In my cellar, I've got a couple more in the $15 range that I'll have to try soon. Any recommendations out there in this price range? Let me know and I'll raise a glass!

Wildekrans Cabernet Franc- Merlot 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Nose of wild berries and lead-pencil shavings
Raspberry on the palate
Dry finish with raspberry, cranberry, and tobacco

This wine is an interesting change of pace. It's an estate wine from South Africa created with 80% Cabernet Franc and 20% Merlot. I paid $14 at a local wine shop.

The Cabernet Franc dominates in flavor and texture. I can't imagine what this would taste like if there wasn't some Merlot there to soften everything. As the flavor profile develops in the glass, more and more tobacco emerges. It's really interesting, but you need to be ready for it.

As a change of pace, I always recommend Cabernet Franc. It's an entirely different wine from the other noble red grapes. Look for it in the "alternative red" section or in the French wine section under "Chinon". Raise a glass!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Swedish Hill Cayuga White Finger Lakes 2005 wine review by (PB)

Friends went to upstate New York and brought us back this gift. I opened it last night to try it with a bouillabaisse not knowing anything about the wine.

The Cayuga grape was designed at Cornell University for the cold-climate conditions of New York State's Finger Lakes region. It is a hybrid of the Seyval Blanc and Schuyler cultivars bred to endure the harsh winters of New York. I was skeptical of this wine but...

On opening I was overwhelmed with the scent of apples so much so that it smelled like apple juice. In the glass it has a pale golden hue with a slight tinge of green and this really nice bouquet of fresh apples, a hint of pear and cream.

In the mouth there are mineral notes with a steely quality; it is off dry with decent fruit flavors. The structure is a tad weak but not distracting and the finish is just more apples.

It paired really well with the seafood soup and was a nice treat of a wine. Raise a glass and “Thanks” to the “V’s” of Winslow, Maine!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Famiglia Anselma Barolo 2000 Wine Review (NW)

Nose opens to reveal cherry, sweet spices, and an herbal tone
Lively and racy on the palate
Finish lingers with cherry, mushrooms, and earth

I think this wine is too young to drink. It is slow to open up in the glass, and keeps improving until it's gone.

The wine is interesting and lively. It's not as rich as other Barolo's, but very enjoyable. It paired extremely well with my venison and gnocchi at Mario Batali's Del Posto in New York. I paid $24 for the privelege of just one glass as this wine retails for over $50 a bottle. Raise a glass!

Fratelli Pra Monte Grande Soave 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Nose of pears and floral aromas
Soapy on the palate, with a nice texture
Smooth finish, touches of honey and spices

I really like the texture of Soave; it's my favorite Italian white wine. A good Soave fills the mouth, has fruit and floral aromas, and maybe nuts and spices. It also has a "soapy" quality that I like.

This wine was enjoyed over multiple pasta courses at Mario Batali's Del Posto in New York. I paid $14 for the glass. It seems well made and very willing to compliment food. I'll be looking for Pra wines on my next trip down the Italian aisle. Raise a glass!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rosenblum Zinfandel Eagle Point 2004 wine review by (PB)

After a trip out to Los Angeles to see our newest grandchild, my wife brought me back several bottles of goodies. This was one of them. Rosenblum has to be the king of Zins making over 20 different types.

This Zin from Mendocino is dark black cherry colored with a nice bouquet of cherry with a nose full of black berries and black cherries.

The texture of this wine is “thick” with a velvety feel and a big chocolate first impression. There is fruity cocoa throughout and a layer of espresso. The finish is woody but everything in balance.

With some air, everything is just accentuated with more blackberry, plumy fruit. This is a wine that is perfectly balanced in all ways and is at perfect maturity. At $24, it is luscious and of course was gone by the end of my fabulous Chingiale Paperadelle or Wild Boar with home made noodles which are about an inch and a half wide. The Boar was compliments of a friend who shot it recently hunting in South Carolina (I think).

It was wonderful! Raise a glass and say ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!