Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Buena Vista Chardonnay "Carneros" 2004 wine review by (PB)


Wine shopping out here in LA is much different than shopping in my home state of Maine. I am amazed at the prices of wine, especially non-California wine. There are bargains galore.


I picked up this very nice Chard from one of the wine super stores called "BevMo." This particular wine has a reference price of $22 which is a pretty average starting point for Carneros chards. I paid $12 for it and it's a winner.


It is lightly golden with green hue sporting a super candied bouquet of rich fruit compote, butter scotch and vanilla with oak here and there.


The palate is buttery and well structured with citrus and vanilla and mixed sweet fruit flavors in a nice package of well rounded acids. The finish is quite lasting. All I can say is raise a glass, and then another.

Gini Toscana 2000 wine review by (PB)

On a stop over to Boston on the way to LA (NW) served up this Tuscan red.
Garnet hue is showing a touch of age at the rim and yields sweet fruit bouquet with earthy tones and taffy. (That's right I said taffy--or caramel if you prefer!)

The palate is medium to full bodied with good acidity with flavors trying to break out. It should open with a few minutes.

A little rustic with mushroom and fruit in a decent balance and finish that is okay. This wine is a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot. Reference price is $30. This was served by (NW) after the Ricasole Formulae (see previous post) which has a reference price about a third of this wine. I liked the Formulae better! To each his own. Raise a glass.

Chateau St. Michelle Riesling 2006 wine review by (PB)


I am in LA at my daughter's house and she is fixing Peruvian stir fry called "Pollo Saltado" tonight which means a lot of spices heavy on the cumin and south of the border flavors like cilantro, and essentially raw onion flavors. Not the eaisest pairing. But I chose this very inexpensive first time wine and had beer standing by if it bombed. (I knew it wouldn't though...)


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. The finish is short and it could use a touch more acid for my liking but for Pete's sake, this wine was $6! It paired fine with the challenging dinner and for the price is decent value to be sure. Raise a glass.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ricasoli Sangiovese Toscana Formulae wine review by (PB)


We're breezing through Boston on our way to L.A. and spent the night with (NW). Ordered pizza and (NW) served up this inexpensive bottle of Tuscan red.


It was a medium cherry red with slight bricking at the rim. Bouquet is amazing with sweet fruity almost candied cherries nose with slight hints of licorice and maybe tobacco.


The palate is a bit tart and steely with a thin texture. This wine though is quite nice for the price (around $10) with earthy notes and a peak maturity which will not last. This wine needs to be drunk NOW. I liked it especially at the price. Raise a glass.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bodegas Montecillo Crianza 2003 wine review by (PB)


I bought this as a Wine Spectator pick and they gave it 87 pts. I didn't care for it writing at the time I tasted a few weeks back: Dry cherry bouquet with vegetal, daffodil scent.

Palate also yields daffodils, a little bitter on the finish; less than exciting.

Hey--you don't always agree with the pros. I paid $10 for this so try it for yourself. Raise a glass.

Quinta Do Casal Branco 2006 wine review by (PB)


Reviewed previously this $7 wine from Portugal is pale yellow with big rich sweet bouquet of light vanilla and lemon on opening but changes to apples and peaches with a day in the fridge.

Palate is off dry with forward acid, citrus and vanilla. Finishes a touch bitter but again improves with a day opened. Solid acid making it a good food wine. I am not crazy about it, but it is a good wine--just not my preference so raise a glass!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Chateau Faugeres 2004 wine review by (PB)


Birthdays qualify as a special occasion to open that "special" wine and tonight we celebrated my 54th. A Time of celebration to be sure for I realized that it was 27 years ago when I was 27 years old that I was hit head on by a drunk driver. I should have been dead but the Lord had other plans.

So my wife bought some inch and a quarter thick strip steaks to grill and I opened this wine. I bought it last winter in Chicago when I was there on a business trip as was (NW) of this blog. We had an evening rendezvous at his hotel and shared a bottle of white Burgundy. But on with this review:

This St. Emilion Grand Cru is intensely pigmented with a dark black cherry hue that clings to the glass and is as intense at the rim as at the center.

The bouquet on opening is rich and deep with dark fruit and and a musty earth scent. The palate is tight with robust tannins and bready fruit first impression.

After fifteen minutes of breathing there are loads of sweet black cherry and plums in the bouquet and is amazingly new world in style with fruit forward steely fruit. (Michelle Roland?)

Tannins are juicy and immature but fresh fruit just exudes in the bouquet with sweet grapes. This is really nice. It is not exactly a fruit bomb but it is so similar to a Napa wine that I would have never have guessed it to be Bordeaux. It will age well for several years but is drinking really well now. I paid $24 for it and wished I had bought more. (Wine Spectator gave this wine a 90 on their 100 point scale.) Raise a glass!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hess Cabernet Sauvignon "Allomi" 2004 wine review by (PB)


I purchased this bottle on a trip this summer to Minneapolis. I had never seen this label and since Hess produces solid wines at all levels, I packed it and brought it home.

It has a hefty black cherry hue with rich cherry bouquet and black berry nose with a touch of gentle spice that is tantalizing.

The palate is bold with dark berry and cedar blasts with leather notes. This is a big wine out of the gate and doesn't benefit much from breathing though licorice does emerge. It is tasty and solid and finishes with a lingering berry compote. I paid $22 for it. Raise a glass.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva 2004 wine review by (PB)


Fresh cherries, licorice and sweet candied nose that is delightful.

Palate is tasty with juicy tannins. It is a bit tight on opening but shows promise. The wine is still young and should be really nice in three more years. It finishes with cherries. It benefits from an hour or more of breathing but enjoyable right out of the gate. At $14 it is a "raise a glass" wine.

Peter Lehmann "Seven Surveys" Old Vines 2005 wine review by (PB)

Lehmann puts out some blockbuster wines at bargain prices and this "GSM" Grenache 43%, Syrah 43%, and Mourvedre 14%, is another success. It is a purple red hued wine with a sweet nose of white pepper and fruit.

The palate is sweet, unique with tart baking pie cherry blast. There is strawberry and raspberry in the bouquet.

This wine is mouth watering and fairly simple with sharp pleasing acid and a short finish. A juicy and tasty wine and at 14$, raise a glass.

Pepperwood Grove Syrah 2004 wine review by (PB)


Deep black cherry color with olivey bouquet with licorice and sweet note. The palate is "sweet" with bittersweet chocolate and cedar spice that's front palate and surprisingly tasty. Finish is a bit steely.

When you pay $7 for a bottle of wine you don't expect much. Yes this is a clone of so many other dark wines but it is still tasty and drinks well. So swallow your pride, and then swallow a gulp of this drinkable wine. Then raise a glass!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Nose opens slowly to reveal cherry, tobacco, leather, and pepper

Smooth, rich texture on the palate, full-bodied, earthy core

Lingering finish of cherry, plum, and herbs

Give this one some time- and give it some air to open up and relax! If you do, you'll be rewarded. The wine opens slowly, but eventually reveals a dense core of flavors and a rich, smooth texture for a Chianti.

Other reviews I've read about this wine seem to jump to early conclusions on the wine's overall quality. My first impression wasn't anything special, either. After several hours, though, the wine showed its layers.

You see, the small, new oak cask characteristics aren't overwhelming here. The bouquet doesn't jump out of the glass and grab you with sweet spices like many other Italian reds finished in new oak. Rather, the wine carefully and slowly reveals itself.

I got a couple bottles recently for just $25, thought the wine is typically priced at $40. At $40, it's at the upper end of Chianti prices- pushing into Brunello and Super-Tuscan range. So try not to pay full price. Remember to be patient with it- and raise a glass!

Petalos Bierzo 2005 wine review by (PB)

This has been my week for firsts. Three decades in tasting wine and this is my first Bierzo. The Mencia grape yields a bouquet that is spicy with red fruit and black licorice that is subtle.

The palate is sweet (relatively speaking) yet tight and lots of cherries with black pepper. It is somewhat closed but interesting.

On re-review of this wine a day later I noted--Dark purple and plummy bouquet with sweet licorice. Palate is young with pushy tannins leaving it a little chewy. It finishes fairly quickly but this wine needs more time to grow up. I paid $20 on the suggestion of a wine guy at my favorite store in Portland, Maine. RSVP on Forest Ave. is worth the stop. Raise a glass.

Cedre Heritage Cahors 2005 wine review by (PB)

Been drinking and studying wine for over 30 years and this is the first Cahors I have had. Cahors (pronounced Ka-ors) is a region in south west France utilizing the Malbec grape. (And you thought Malbec was only for Argentinians...)

The wine is purple and young with a pronounced nose of plum and a really nice layer of something else I can't peg.

The palate is young and closed and tight and a bit tannic as well as flat. But this should all take care of itself with some breathing not to mention some more bottle age.

Allowing it a couple hours to air out and warm up a bit (it was at cellar temperature of 55 degrees F.) dried cherries are front and center in the bouquet with some pepper on the palate with some stingy fruit. This wine has loads of potential but it is just too immature. Raise a glass and lay another one down. It was $15 and a fun first time.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thomas Halby Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Wine Review (NW)



Tasting notes:

Nose of black cherry and licorice

Cherry cola on the palate

Smooth finish of plum and red berries

This wine is smooth and soft for a Cabernet Sauvignon. What I mean by soft is the lack of any herbal nuances to compliment the rich fruit. The black cherry aromas are inviting, but there aren't a lot of other layers to carry it through.

Still, it tastes good and is appealing for the smooth texture. Just understand that this is a softer style of Cab. I paid $15 and have seen it priced from $14 to $19. Raise a glass!

Cline Zinfandel 2006 wine review by (PB)


Not to be confused with the Cline Ancient Vine Zin, this is their standard production line Zin which is always a value wine. At less then $7 ( Sam's club) 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. For this price, buy a half case and keep some on hand for the gang. Raise a glass to Cline!

Lindeman's Bin 50 Shiraz 2006 wine review by (PB)


This is a Wine spectator "Best Buy" and for good reason. It has a dark berry nose with a spicy edge, a solid palate with big berry flavors and a lightly mild vanilla note. this wine goes down ever so effortlessly and is just very tasty.

How much for this ubiquitous Aussie red? How about $7? Raise a glass to inexpensive pleasure.

Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel 2006 wine review by (PB)


This is an annual favorite as each vintage seems to have a reliable predictability of quality. 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. I see this wine for around $15-$18 but I pick it up at Sam's Club for less than $12! It is worth the higher price point so at Sam's prices, it is a great value. Raise a glass!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Parducci Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 wine review by Billy


Nose: delicious vanilla and cracked black pepper
Palate: incredibly round feel and oh-so-smooth
finish: lingering finish of redberry and oaky vanilla

For $10.99 this dinner accompanying Cabernet Sauvignon from the sustainable vineyards of Parducci (Mendocino California) is really quite nice. It is not as big or fruit forward as some others (a very nice change for a california cab at this price point) and the incredible roundness and smooth vanilla is exquisite.

Raise a Glass with a meal!

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Chablis J. Moreau & Fils 2005 wine review by (PB)


We opened this nice Chardonnay for special guests to accompany Lemon Tagliatelle with Citrus Scallops (tagliatelle is 1/2 inch wide homemade pasta strips). It is a very nice light golden colored wine with big vanilla cream and lemon citrus aromas.

In the mouth the wine is well made with plenty of vanilla flavors and citrus with solid acid. this is a great example of the grape! I paid $16 for this Chablis (which is a region of France, not a cheap white American wine) (The label on left is for a premier cru but looks the same except for that.) Raise a glass.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Louis Jadot Pinot Noir Bourgogne 2005 wine review by (PB)


This wine is wondrous light purple with a pinkish rim that is truly nice to just gaze at. On opening there is a very subtle bouquet of fresh strawberry notes.

Palate is tart, bitter, chewy and nearly tasteless; other than that it's not bad...

Hoping some air would bring about a transformation a half an hour did little. Finally after nearly 2 hours it improved but was still too tart but some flavor developed although it tasted more like a Gamay than Pinot Noir. I paid $15 for this substandard wine. Yes, it is young and it would be interesting to find another bottle in a couple more years to see if time helped. But I won't buy another to lay down. Raise a glass of something else.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Ameztoi 2006 Wine Review by billy


Nose: Minerals and Steel and Citrus with under hints of an Alsace-Riesling like spice.
Palate: Dry. spritzig. While dry, not overly acidic. very even feel throughout the mouth. expertly made.
Finish: tempered. lingering minerals.

I walked into one of my home wine stores after a short business trip wanting ... something. I didn't know what. So I simply asked. (By the way, many of you email asking about how to get one wine or another - walk into a store and ask. Ask even if you don't know what you want.) The wine guy went over and suggested this wine. I have never heard of this wine nor the grape (we didn't know what grapes were in this wine before I came home and googled it.). What he did know was that they had just tasted it the day before and he enjoyed it. It was intriguing. He liked it so he suggested it. I bought it. For about $16.00.

I am glad I did. It is not a "sparkling" wine though it has more than a hint of fizz. It is not a sweet wine. It is not a tropical fruit bomb. The 2006 Ameztoi from the Getariako Txakolina region of Spain near the Atlantic is a gem of a wine that makes a fantastic before-dinner wine (as I am having it now) as well as it would go with a light, fruit and cheese based dessert.

At $16 it is fairly to well priced. I suspect that this vintage is rather good compared to earlier vintages simply given the quality and price point.

The majority of the grapes planted in the region (Basque region of Spain) are Hondarribi Zuri and Hondarribi Beltza (cite)

Overall, I would highly suggest that you get a bottle and try it. It is very drinkable and interesting enough to keep you asking for another glass.

Raise a Glass to BASQUE WINE!

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico (White label) 2004 wine review by (PB)


Tuscany just keeps producing better and better wines. This Chianti runs $10 and is solid red with dried cherry nose backed by fresh cherry aromas.

It sits well on the palate with tasty though light flavors and needs to breathed. With air, it opens with a touch of anise and more dried cherry fruit that are a bit understated but well crafted. A very nice food wine and solid value at this price. Raise a glass.

Louis Martini Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 wine review by (PB)


This previously reviewed wine is a gorgeous cranberry hued wine with a pronounced bouquet of pungent cedar, dark fruit and spice.

Palate is well constructed with black cherry flavors and a foundation of fruit on a tannic platform that is ready to drink but will hold for a few more years. This was a closeout sale at $7 when I see it regularly for $15. That's when you raise a glass!