Thursday, June 28, 2007

Lyeth Sonoma County Meritage 2004 Wine Review (NW)


Tasting notes:

Nice nose of mixed berries, cherry, and vanilla
More berries on the palate
Finishes smoothly with blueberry accents, toasty oak, and more vanilla

I'd say this is crafted in a very typical style of Sonoma County. It has rich fruit, smooth texture, and toasty oak accents. While it's not actually a Cabernet Sauvignon, it's a Meritage with 78% Cab. A Meritage (rhymes with heritage) must have certain classic Bordeaux grapes in the blend, but this one screams Cab. The other components include 10% Merlot, 10% Malbec, and 2% Cabernet Franc.

If you are looking for value priced wines that show off the Sonoma County style, try this one. It reminds me of Sebastiani Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and runs in the same price range. I paid $13 on sale, marked down from $15. Raise a glass!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Trapiche Oak Cask malbec 2004 wine review by (PB)


This Argentinian value wine has great pigmentation of intense plum purple on the pour. Bouquet is immensely fruit forward with tons of ripe black berries.

Palate is deeply intense with toast and rich ripe fruit that fills the mouth. Tis is your new world fruit bomb of a 20 megaton variety. Drink up if you're in the mood to have our taste buds assaulted. Paid $7.50 on a 25% off sale. Raise a glass to an explosion of flavor!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Beaujolias Villages 2005 (Georges Duboeuf) wine review by (PB)


Found this simple but delightful Gamay wine on sale for $7.50 and it pairs with just about anything. Served chilled, it is fruity with strawberry notes and raspberry hints. It is a rich purple wine in the glass and goes down ever so easy. Duboeuf is king of the Beaujolais wines and scores another simple but refreshing quaff for a warm summer's eve.

Raise a glass anytime, anywhere with anything!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon wine review by (PB)


This 5 year old bulk produced wine by one of the most reliable and value making wineries in the country does it again. While showing some maturity in the hue, the bouquet is spicy on red berries that are ripe and oozing plump plummy fruit.

In the mouth the wine is full of toasty fruit with solid palate with hints of cocoa and espresso. An $8 wine should not be this good. This Washington State winery just puts out "best buy" wines year after year. All I can say is, raise a glass of this new world bargain.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Beaulieu Vineyards Zinfandel 2003 Private Cellars wine review by (PB)


Black cherry colored with solid black cherry and berry aromas. Really ripe fruit flavors of spicy dark cherry and black berries with typical B.V. structure meaning it is well made. This is decent wine that reminds me of Cline's production level Zin which is always a solid wine also.

Uncomplicated fruit forward, ripe wine that is tasty and easy to drink. Another well done $10 wine from the folks at B.V. Raise a glass

Friday, June 22, 2007

Hogue Chenin Blanc 2005 wine review by (PB)


Washington State (Columbia Valley) Chenin has gentle spicy tropical fruit aroma and pleasant citrus notes. Palate is quite robust with nice Chenin flavors of rich summer fruit with underlying citrus charm. Structure is a little sluggish but finishes with a gentle sweetness. This is a value wine for chilling down and sitting around in the summer wind and sipping away the evening; or afternoon; or midmorning, what the heck!

I paid $8 for this and it is a fair value. Hogue tends to produce these popular tasting, inexpensive wines that are almost always reliable. So raise a glass.

Caymus Conundrum 2005 wine review by (PB)


While in Minnesota, Billy took us us out for some wine. This restaurant treat cost a small fortune but that what splurges are right?

This blended white of mysterious grapes provides the name of the wine. It is light yellow in the glass with a nice big peachy and apricoty bouquet with honey notes. Very lovely!

The mouth is filling with big flavors of peach, apricot and light cream notes and a an elegant creamy texture.

The wine finishes long with summer fruit. It could be a little stronger in the acid category but certainly not distracting. This was a treat and the retail price of this wine is generally around $30. It is a great aperitif and a nice desert accompaniment. Raise a glass!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Charmarre Shiraz Merlot 2004 wine review by (PB)

This French sourced wine from the Languedoc is 55% Shiraz/45% Merlot and is eggplant in hue. The nose is full of cinnamon and spice with tart berry notes.

In the mouth it is a bit astringent and awkward but the flavors of berries are nice.

This is a solid drinking wine but a little coarse. For the price point of $10 which is what 50% of the wines in the market run these days (it seems) there is better out there especially from this region.

It finishes with fruit berries if a little green. Just so, so but raise a glass.

Pinot Evil Pinot Noir 2005 wine review by (PB)


After receiving numerous inquiries about this wine Billy and I decided to grab a bottle and review it. Tis wine was so forgettable I had forgotten I reviewed a 2004 back in April. That one was French while this wine is sourced from Romania! I found it for $9 at a local shop in Minnesota. Even with the attempt at a clever label the wine fails on all counts.

It is a bright burgundy color with a bouquet that smells like a cheap cab/merlot rather than Pinot Noir. It has tart raspberry nose with steely foundation. In the mouth it is rather plonky, short lived with pepper in the back.

For the price you can do much better (think Mark West, Camelot). This is a wine to avoid and please, whatever you do, don't try this wine and think, "Gee, I don't like Pinot Noir." There is nothing Pinot noirish about it. Raise a glass of something else!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Cheetah Valley Ruby Cabernet Pinotage 2001 wine review by (Billy)

This South African wine is a blend of 60% ruby Cabernet and 40% Pinotage that comes from the western cape.

nose: strong and sophisticated plumb with red currant.
palate:Comes out strong with big Cabernet flavors and structured mouth feel. Not overly tannic but well balanced.
finish: soft and unassuming.

At the $11 I paid (during a special at the store) I thought was a good value for the wine from a [new or newly branded???] winery in South Africa. The blend was expert and not overwhelming. Since it is a 2001, the wine shows some deepness and richness of color in the glass. It is ready to drink now.

Raise a Glass!

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Edna Valley Vineyard Chardonnay 2005 wine review by (Billy)

(NV pictured, 2005 tasted)
Nose: Thick and fibrous nose of peach and fleshy pitted fruit. Toasty vanilla hints, but only at the back of the nose.
Palate: Full, round, and fleshy in the mouth.
Finish: Pleasingly languid.

Peach predominates the 2005 vintage of this Edna Valley Chard from central California. This is round without being overly buttery and fat (phat!) that is pleasingly plump without being flabby. I did not find it crisp (at all) but there is enough acid back structure to ensure that the big mouth feel does not get "oozy". (There is a new wine word for all you enophiles out there.)

The finish is slow and pleasing. Served at the appropriately chilled temperature, this is a wonderful summer wine, not a heat killer, but something more akin to a southern delight - luxuriously taking its time.

At $17 a bottle this is fairly priced though I would love to see it at $4 less.

Au Bon Climat Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir 2005 Wine Review (NW)


Tasting notes:

Fragrant nose of exotic red berries and grapefruit
Moderately plush core
Finishes with some plum, peppery spice, and more grapefruit

Yes, I really did write grapefruit. That threw me off for a while, until I asked my wife if she tasted anything unexpected. She said "grapefruit" right away, too. It makes this wine interesting, and keeps it light and elegant.

I enjoyed it as a change of pace. I don't think I have anything else in the cellar that would taste quite like this wine. After all, that's the beauty of wine- it offers so many different interpretations.

A local butcher has a wine section and just got a case of this in. I paid $20. Raise a glass!

Eberle Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Rich nose of black cherry, wild red berries, toasty oak, and vanilla
Smooth texture with some earthiness and mushrooms on the palate
Smooth finish with more cherry, plum, and vanilla

This is a softer, smoother style of Cabernet, but very representative of the Cabs of Paso Robles, CA. I highly recommend it when you're looking for this style. What's particularly nice is that the cherry, vanilla, and toasty oak that are typical of softer Cabs are also complimented here by a more earthy layer that adds depth.

Eberle make some nice wines. They are now on my list of wineries who's wine I grab any time I see it. I paid $20 for this bottle at a store that's off the beaten path for me. Raise a glass!

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.

In the mouth this wine is bold full of fleshy fruit that tastes more like a California creation than old world. It's still a little chunky with some maturing to do but black cherry and licorice are solid. At this price and this bold presence, it is worth hunting around for. Raise a glass to BBQ ribs and this smack down red!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Four Vines Zinfandel "The Sophisticate" 2004 wine review by (PB)


This happened to be reviewed in my latest issue of the Wine Spectator and they liked it a lot! Their tastes and mine, rarely disagree so just by happenstance, I found this wine a couple days later for $14 although the reference price is $18.

This wine is purple with youthful exuberance and bold--brash?--confidence. There is plenty of big aromas galore like spicy peppery, green pepper with black raspberry fruit.

The mouth is lush with ripe dark berry fruit and black cherry, espresso and baker's chocolate to boot. This is one of those really big fruit forward wines that leave nothing to subtlety. But this wine is still young and very tasty yet silky now. Want to know what classic Zin is like? Grab this. At $14, this has to be a recommended wine from old (PB).

At that price, buy three and lay two down for another year and then two. Raise a glass!

Alta Vista Malbec Rose 2005 wine review by (PB)


This sale rose was $7. It has an interesting pale watermelon juice hue with a really fun candy and fruit bouquet. The palate is pleasant if nondescript with little flavor and yet is surprisingly refreshing. This wine perplexes me a bit; I kind of liked it and yet it didn't leave much open to description.

Roses are really coming into their own and for around $10 you can get a really juicy, fruity, fun quaffing wine that goes with all kinds of food. Probably wouldn't spend much time on this one but raise a glass of another!

(In the picture, it is the one on the left-- fyi!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

J. Lohr Riverstone Arroyo Seco Chardonnay 2005 Wine Review (NW)



Tasting notes:

Ripe pear on the nose

Buttery, mouth-filling texture

Peaches and cream on the finish, with vanilla and spice accents

Again, this is a nice value Chardonnay. I've enjoyed the past couple of vintages and think this 2005 is especially good. It's rich and mouth-filling, making it a good value at $13 or so. I got a couple bottles on sale recently for under $11. Raise a glass to that!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Villaroya De La Sierra Calatayud Garnacha 2004 wine review by (PB)



This Spanish Grenache has a wild cherry hue and a thickish bouquet of pepper, and licorice with red berries on top of dark berries.

Palate is a little hot and bit tannic yet hints of interesting flavors of various spices come to mind with a smoky finish. This wine has some zing to it and is interesting yet not completely pleasant to drink. It could be the style which I tend to think it is but as a Grenache fan, I look for something fruitier and simpler without competing stimuli. It's okay but I wouldn't get it again. I am not certain, but I think I paid around $8 it. For the price I would rather try the "Sideshow" line of wines (Namely; The Contortionist) with their style of Grenache (blend) described above. Raise a glass.

Friday, June 08, 2007

House White 2006 The Magnficent Wine Co. wine review by (PB)


In a recent tasting with K-Vintner's wine genius Charles Smith, this was one of the wines we tasted. I don't care for wine tastings a great deal because invariably the amount of wine poured for the "taste" is too little to accurately "taste" the wine. At the tasting, I made some notes, I liked this wine enough to buy a couple bottles, but after opening my own bottle and having a real taste, this wine was considerably better than it was at the tasting.

The reason--again--is that the thimble full of sample given at free tastings doesn't give you enough liquid to work with. I wish the folks who do these tastings would realize that they would sell more wine, and get better reviews if they weren't so tight on the 1/2 ounce sample they pour.

That being said, this wine, which is their production line variety selling for $10, is a very well made wine with some wonderful aromas, flavors, and balanced acids. The wine is actually a Washington State varietal (Chardonnay) with some Gewurztraminer in the blend. Smith releases different "lots" of this wine with grapes sourced from different locations. Which means bottle variation is a real possibility.

This one is straw colored with awesome candied, pear bouquet with a touch of butter scotch down deep. It is nice in the mouth with a nice structure, citrus, cream more pears and peach notes. This wine is wonderful for an aperitif or with food. Recommended value so raise a glass!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Trentadue Old Patch Red 2004 wine review by (PB)


Yet another close out wine for which I paid $8 when it sells for around twice that. This Sonoma blend is a pleasant cherry to black cherry color to the rim. Bouquet is ripe black berries with that rustic touch.

This wine is 76% Zinfandel, 16% Petite Syrah, and 8% Carignane. The Petite syrah works well with this blend. It is full and wild with ripe berry flavors and blueberries, a little espresso and black berry jam with a slightly bitter finish that is pleasant.

This was a very tasty wine worth the price to be sure but even considerably more. Raise a glass.

Don Mendo Carinena (NV) wine review by (PB)

This was another close out which should have been closed out. It is 50% Garnacha (I'm big Garnacha fan--also called Grenache) and 50% Tempranillo.

Color has some heft with a ruby rim and a bouquet of black cherry and overly ripe plum or raisin notes. Palate is really thin though, tannic and just kind of ucky. Don't raise a glass of this--even at $6!

Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc 2004 wine review by (PB)


This Chenin is straw with vanilla bouquet and ripe--really ripe--oranges. In the mouth it is well made with vanilla and summer fruit galore with a nice finish that carries on.

We paired it with a fairly strong tequila-lime cilantro shrimp dinner and it did very well.

This wine was on close out and I grabbed it for $7. It was well worth it and if I get back to this store (it's 35 miles away) I'll buy them out. Raise a glass!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Chateau Lynch-Bages 1996 Wine Review (Blind Tasting with PB- posted by NW)

Tasting notes:

Nose of tobacco, cedar, and smoke
Dark berries on the palate, firmly structured
Finish lingers with moderate tannins, showing earth, mushrooms, and some coffee

What a treat! This wine is ageing well, showing complexity and mysterious layers of earthy aromas wrapped around the core of berries. If you haven't had a real Bordeaux in a while, grab a Lynch-Bages of any vintage. It's the opposite of the fruit-forward new world style that is dominant today.

This wine was supplied by PB for the blind tasting. I suspected he might put a ringer in there, and he did. I guessed that it was an aged Bordeaux, but I'm somewhat familiar with what's in his cellar. He bought the bottle for $70 at a small shop in metro Chicago on a visit there. You have to read about his experience under his review of this wine below.

By far, it was the best wine of the blind tasting. It has so much character, but is all woven together in a way that eludes many other wines. Thanks PB. Raise a glass!

Domaine Alain Michelot Bourgogne 1997 Wine Review (Blind Tasting with PB- posted by NW)

Tasting notes:

Light brick red and browning at the edges
Very faint aromas on nose of watermelon and flowers
Racy core of acid, light-bodied
Light finish, slightly bitter

This wine is past its prime. Not only is it faded, it doesn't even taste very good. I supplied it for the tasting, so I suspected this was the ten-year-old Burgundy that just didn't make it. Oh well, not every bottle is a winner, especially when you tuck it away for a while.

I paid $15 for this, marked down from $19. I'd like my money back please! It was clearly the worst wine in the blind tasting of three. The weak flavor profile and thin texture put it on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Langmeil Shiraz posted below. Raise a glass of that instead!

Langmeil Valley Floor Barossa Shiraz 2005 Wine Review (Blind Tasting with PB- posted by NW)



Tasting notes:

Rich nose of ripe berries and anise

Smooth core of blueberry jam, thick and almost sweet

Velvety finish with wild berries, mint, and sweet spices

This wine is big and rich! It has all the qualities of the new world style, with ripe fruit and jammy, thick texture. No surprise that it's an Australian Shiraz from the Barossa Valley.

Tasting blind, I new it right away- but that's because I supplied the bottle for the tasting. If I didn't know there was a Shiraz involved, I would have also suspected Petite Sirah or Zinfandel due to the thick, jammy texture.

The wine is delicious. The only problem is that we tasted it along side a 1996 Chateau Lynch-Bages. Next to a mature Bordeaux, the Langmeil was almost too sweet and thick- like the blueberry syrup on the table at a mom-and-pop pancake house.

I paid $24 for the bottle sometime within the past six months. At a relatively modest price compared to a lot of Barossa Shiraz now, this one delivers the experience you'd expect. Raise a glass!

Sebastiani Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Wine Review (NW)


Tasting notes:

Rich nose of black cherry, cola, and vanilla
Blackberry fruit on the palate
Finishes with berries and more vanilla

I cellared this for two years, assuming it would maintain its character and become even smoother and more integrated. As far as I can tell, that's exactly what's happening. I have about a half case still, and will probably pull a bottle every six months or so to try it. It's really a nice wine and is worth every penny.

The other two vintages I've tried are 2001 and 2003. It seems to be a pretty consistent wine and I recommend it when looking for a Sonoma County Cab. With rich flavors and a smooth texture, it's a wine you can grab at the store on your way home for dinner and enjoy it that evening. Typically priced around $16, I spotted it for just $12 and bought almost a case. Raise a glass to that!

Cecchi Sangiovese di Toscana 2004 wine review by (PB)


The few Cecchi wines I have had have been disappointing. This one starts with a nice ruby color with dried cherries up front and a jammier black cherry core behind the cherries and an intriguing rear of dill. That's the good part.

The bad part is that in the mouth the wine is shallow and unremarkable. Interestingly the wine is well made to where I noted mentally, this may be the best wine I never tasted. Even after some time to air our, it was just kind of a chemically well balanced, neutral liquid. Even at the price point of $8, there's much tastier wine out there. Raise a glass of those!

Mumm's Brut Prestige (NV) wine review by (PB)


This is one of my favorite sparkling wines at this or any price point. For $18, you get real class with a vanilla cream and sweet apple bouquet, nice tiny bubbles and a structurally sound wine that is fresh, tasty and simple with a nice appley finish.

This wine is great as an aperitif or with a host of foods that might otherwise be challenging to pair. So chill it down and raise a glass!