Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cambria Santa Maria Valley Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Bouquet of pomegranate, tea, and grapefruit on the nose

Delicate, soft texture on the palate

Herbs, strawberry, vanilla, and spices on the finish

This wine delivers a nice combination of light, delicate flavors along with rich spice and vanilla. It is well layered and should please Pinot lovers.

I stumbled on the bargain of the century when I picked a couple bottles of this out of the bargain bin for $6.50 at a local grocer. The wine usually goes for over $20. Raise a glass!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Neu Direction Malbec 2005 wine review by (PB)


The Wine Cask was sent this wine for review by the good folks at Sam's Club. It represents an embarkation to "Fair trade" products which purchases products from people who are committed to paying their workers a "fair wage."

This Malbec is from the Mendoza area of Argentina which is truly coming of age with respect to this grape. The wine is produced by the co-op Vina de la Solidaridad with Bodega Furlotti.

The 2005 vintage was a 90 point rated vintage according to the Wine Spectator. (The current issue of the Wine Spectator highlights Argentina and its forte with this grape.)

The wine is a hefty purple hue with room filling, medium sweet aromas of dark berry jam and some pleasant aromas of a tinge of black licorice. This wine has plenty of life in it but is integrated and drinking well right now.

Palate is extracted with big dark fruit, some tarry notes and a touch of smokey or burnt wood--for the uninitiated, these are positives--and finishes with a lingering light plum ending.

The reference price on this wine is $10 and for the price, this is a decent value so raise a glass and give it a swirl!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Masi Campofiorin (Ripasso) 2005 wine review by (PB)


Medium ruby hue with nice tart pie cherry bouquet, earthy, pipe tobacco and some structure.

Palate--sour cherry with steely mid palate, black pepper and light sour cherry flavors--needs to breathe!

With 45 minutes of air, cocoa predominates over the sour cherry. It is still a bit out of balance with respect to its tartness but steely light fruit is okay drinking. You'll pay around $15 for this wine and a different year would probably prove to be more rewarding. Raise a glass!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Chateau Leoville Barton 1995 wine review by (PB)


A weekend blow through to (NW's) place had us drinking through a few bottles from his "informed" cellar. (NW) of this blog, picked this up several years ago and laid it down. It comes from the St. Julien section of Bordeaux and is noted as a premier great growth year after year.

Even before raising the glass to my nose sweet fruit filled the air. Luden's wild cherry cough drops (a fond memory from kid-dom came to mind)

Nose is big cigar box aromas with touches of leather and of course cherries galore.

Palate--even at 13 years old, this wine still has some maturing to do with slightly chewy tannins, which lay out the cedar foundation with bright red fruit, plum.
(NW) paid around $50 this when he purchased it but you won't be able to touch it for that now. Raise a glass for sure!

Smoking Loon Syrah 2006 wine review by (PB)

I grabbed this for $9 as it was a "Best Buy" in one of my wine mags. It is light garnet in color with fruity, nice bouquet of black cherry.

Palate--Lt. bodied with initial spice, licorice, some wood and a smoke finish. Sounds better than it really is. I didn't care for it as an example of Syrah. It's okay but if you want Syrah, be willing to pay about twice what I paid for this. Check out Santa Barbara Syrah's for nice drinking and raise a glass.

rosenblum Zinfandel "Cuvee Michelle" wine review by (PB)


I am a big fan of Rosenblum zins so when I saw this one in a store next to the ubiquitous "Vinter's Cuvee" I grabbed a clerk and asked how much? The led to a 20 minute hunt to figure out where the wine cam from as they had no record of it, and neither they, nor I had ever heard of it. It was determined that it was mispacked in with a case of the other zin mentioned so they gave it to me for the price of "Vinter's Cuvee." I grabbed two bottles at $10 each and thought I probably scored a "find."

Well, I was wrong! It is a lighter cherry red hue with raspberry and berry nose.
Palate is watery with fleeting flavors that are just so, so. My wife said thee was loads of charcoal and smoke. At any rate, this is a wine to be passed up! But don't let that discourage you from trying any one of the many Rosenblum single vineyard Zins. They're delisicious!

LaVielle Ferme (white) 2007 wine review by (PB)


This wine and its red counterpart are always nice values. This white blend from the Cotes Du Luberon is a light golden with sweet almost perfumy bouquet of vanilla, red apples and pears.

Palate--lively acidity, light citrus, pears and crisp clean finish. Blended from 4 different grapes, this wine is just a decent wine and drinks well by itself yet handles the right foods as well. I find this wine most everywhere in the $6 (when on sale) to $8 and again--this and its red version are writh keeping around for lighter drinking that won't break the bank. Raise a glass!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Chateau Angelus 1994 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Currants, tobacco, and smoke on the nose

Smooth and polished texture on the palate

Finish of mixed berries, cassis, cedar, and tobacco

Good friends treated us to a couple of bottles of this wine. It's drinking really well right now and is enjoyable because it's so relaxed and polished. The flavors integrate beautifully, and the texture is nearly perfect.

To purchase this wine at auction or from the library collection of a fine wine merchant, expect to pay around $150 per bottle. As one of the Grand Cru Classe wines of St. Emillion, this wine has the reputation of aging quite well. Typically a Merlot-based blend, it has developed a strong reputation and a strong following for decades.

Raise a glass!

Thanksgiving Day wine recommendations by (NW)

Another Thanksgiving day is quickly upon us. Below is a re-post by (NW) that is helpful as you navigate the vast choices upon you for this festive day of food and reflection.

With all the gloom and doom in the news one might think there isn't much for which to be thankful. That couldn't be further from the truth.
My nation and the indeed the world have been through challenging times; even despairing times and yet, acknowledged or not, understood or not, we manage--by God's grace to come out on the other side smelling like a rose (or a Sauternes if you prefer.)

We of the WCB hope that whatever country you are in, (I know Thanksgiving Day is uniquely American) whatever your situation, you will be able to raise a glass with a thankful heart to the God who is there. (PB)

(NW) writes--

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 enhance 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!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Nouveau Primeur 2008 wine review by Billy


Nose: very fruity nose of cherry cola and macerated day old strawberries
Palate: light feel with strong acid structure and some tannins
Finish: short and a bit metallic

Hooray for Beaujolais Nouveau day! The Primeur 2008 Beaujolais Nouveau from Drouhin this year is a solid table wine that is easy to drink and easy going. It meets expectations without letting down. Shows good character. I paid $16 for the bottle.

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Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2008 wine review by (PB)


Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive! I bought the first bottle at our local store and am serving tonight with raclette of salmon and baby spinach with dill cream cheese.

The wine is purple--of course-- with a fairly big bouquet of sweet strawberry that is nearly perfumy. Palate is a little chewy with light strawberry flavors and a slightly steely finish.

This is pretty straight forward Nouveau although better than last years! I paid $9 for it a the super market. Look for other producers and also look for Beaujolais Villages Nouveau and give them a whirl. Let us know how you like them--or don't and raise a glass!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Perrin & Fils Gigondas La Gille 2005 Wine Review (NW)


Tasting notes:

Perfumed nose of cherry, rose blossom, plum sauce, charcoal, and spice

Plush texture on the palate
Long finish of wild berries, black currant, cocoa, and tar

No kidding- this wine has a lot going on! While a precise description of all the layers might be elusive, there's clearly nice depth here. I'd summarize this wine by saying there's a bright fruit and floral quality that is offset by a dark, smoky quality. Amazing combination!

Great Southern Rhone wines can pull this off. Grab a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape or Gigondas. Gigondas is simply another classified area near Chateauneuf that is considered a kissing cousin at lower prices. I paid $22 for this wine, which is the equivalent of stealing. A Chateauneuf of this caliber is $50 or more. I believe Wine Spectator awarded 93 points here. Raise a glass!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Beaujolais Nouveau is coming!


This Thursday--TODAY Nov.20-- marks the annual, world wide release day of Beaujolais Nouveau. It is a celebratory affair in Beaujolais when a very simple wine made from Gamay grapes is released having barely enough time to ferment. It is merely weeks old from the time of harvest to the time of release.

Typically B. Nouveau is simple, fruity guzzling wine at its simple best. Brimming with strawberry and/or raspberry highlights it is wine made to drink immediately and in fact in all likelihood will have gone by if you hold it until this time next year.

So find yourself a couple different bottles from different producers and compare. You can expect to pay around $10-$12 a bottle so raise a glass! (I JUST bought a bottle of Duboeuf and it cost me $9. If you would, let us know what you think of the particular Nouveau you slog down! Watch for the review of the one I just bought later on this evening and raise a glass!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Villa Maria Riesling 2005 Bin Selection wine review by (PB)


This New Zealand Riesling is a pretty golden with a sweet, powdery honey bouquet that is enticing and reminds me of a nice Chenin.

In the mouth this wine is at first vibrant with zing and active acidity. The juicy core of lime and citrus is full of life. A good food wine or as an aperitif. You'll pay a little more than you might usually pay for a bottle of wine, but this is a nice wine even at the $20 price point! Raise a glass.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montalcino 2003 Wine Review (NW)



Tasting notes:

Big nose of cherry, plum, cedar, and spice

Plush texture on the palate, rich and chewy

Finish of mixed berries, licorice, earth, and spice

Look for some classic Brunello character in this wine, with rich cherry and spice layers set on an earthy, chewy backbone. Also, expect to pay about $60, which is now a very typical price for a non-riserva Brunello.

While this wine is showing some nice complexity of flavor, I recommend you continue to cellar it for several more years. If you're at home and want to drink it now, simply decant it, let it sit, and sip it closer to room temperature than you might with other wines.

Raise a glass!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Manilow Pinot Grigio 2007 wine review by (PB)



This is a second review of this wine sent to us by Stilletto Entertainment:
Big peary nose with an under layer of vanilla cream and something that I don't have a descriptor for.

Palate is lively with nice acidity and clean flavors of citrus and minerals and a fruity, pear finish. This is a nice, clean wine that will pair well with buttery, rich foods. Raise a glass and thanks Stilletto!

(Consistent notes with first review although I liked this wine even more the second time around. Why? Probably because this time of year sub-clinical colds are ubiquitous and can dull the palate or it could be as simple as the nice catch-all bail out phrase; bottle variation. Either way--raise a glass!)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Zenato Ripassa Volpolicella 2005 wine review by (PB)


First--Ripasso is a Valpolicella wine created by fermenting wine and then refermenting the wine with the unpressed but drained skins and lees left over from making Amarone. Ripasso is made by a number of producers, often using their own variations of this basic method.This wine has a heavily pigmented hue like a Syrah with a deep black cherry presence.

Bouquet is brimming with ripe rich berries and light spice.

Palate--rich tannins with steel and minerals, forthright, juicy, fruit and very tasty.


This wine is voluptuous, velevty and plush; a pure wine. A bit pricey around $22 but well worth it! Raise a glass!


Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva 2003 wine review by (PB)


Sour cherry aromas and pipe tobacco with a hint of chocolate but the wine is cold. Breath and warm it up;
Palate--cherry with slight evergreen mid palate, nice!
Fresh Sangiovese flavors; a mature wine with a touch of anise emerging. This is a nice wine; mature and tasty! It's a bit pricey at $22 but a nice treat. Raise a glass!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Snoqualmie Chenin Blanc 2004 wine review by (PB)


I grabbed this for $6.79 and Snoqualmie tends to make good value wines. This Chenin has sweet "off" aromas of older fruit.

Palate--apricot nector or stewed apricots with a lively palate; it's okay especially for the price but not a good example of Chenin Blanc. Just O.K.