Friday, July 31, 2009

2007 Orin Swift Cellars "The Prisoner" Napa Red wine review by Billy


Nose: Big jammy blackberry and bread, cedar spice upon opening. After time and decanting, warm cracked black pepper and cedar of the Syrah in the blend comes on strong. With even more time, delicate strawberry and blueberry scents tease.
Palate: Beautifully soft and supple on the palate with delicate acid/tannin balance and peppery warmth of spice throughout at the back of the palate.

Finish: Delightfully spry and tannic at the back, though sliding silkenly from delicate softness to the back with tannins that linger.

Overall: I paid $35 for this bottle. This is a teasing blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petit Syrah, charbono, and Grenache. Wonderful layers keep on emerging and teasing the nose and palate of this wine. A mishmash of berry and spice and woody flavors that is really quite wonderfully constructed and smooth. This will mature and calm as it settles and blends over 5 years or more.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Domaine La Roquete Chateau Neuf Du Pape 2003 wine review by (PB)


Interesting wine lesson contained herein! (NW) of this blog and I had this wine back in March of 08 and wrote our reviews accordingly. They were quite similar (as they should be...) But here is my review of the same wine opened 16 months later than the above wine.

On opening--
Hue is a light pink cherry
Bouquet--ample bright cherry, wood, plum aromas with light spices and pepper.
Palate--White pepper, minerals, chunky tannins.

After breathing it 1.5 hours there's a big cherry nose with some cocoa
Palate--tart, lively, acidic base with cocoa, and cherries. I wrote--"Let evolve." Then added: holding strong; will keep another 3-5 years, maybe longer.

Now read my review of the same wine from March of 08.
"The hue is a light medium red with slight bricking (amber notes) at the rim. This wine has sweet aromas of fruity tobacco with sheets of nuanced fruit and a periodic strip of sweet fresh strawberry jam. Wonderful and absolutely peak! It is silky on the palate--almost thick--with strawberry jam flavors that flash and fade back and forth with light pepper notes. After a moment or two, cinnamon flashes appear and disappear with cinnamon spice cake yielding to a late anise layer. Phew! This is a lot of wine for the price. ($22) What a treat and a value! Raise a glass of plenty of these Rhones!"

The wine I reviewed above is a "different" wine than one from March of 08. How can it be?

Either the wine we reviewed 16 months ago experienced some premature oxidation occur thus a premature "maturity" OR the wine I had last night has slipped into what is called the "dumb phase" that some better quality wines lapse into before emerging ready to drink again. But in view of the mature bricking around the rim of the glass of the one we had over a year ago, my hunch is that the wine I reviewed above is at the proper level of aging meaning it really needs more time. I do know the wine I had a few nights ago was vastly different from the one (NW) and I raved about previously!

Either way--raise a glass!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Robert Michele Vouvray 2007 wine review by (PB)

Vouvray France produces Chenin Blancs and I love a decent Chenin! This one is a bare, pale straw in color with a bouquet of sweet spices and powdery, fruity notes that are beguiling.

Palate--A nice acid foundation with solid minerals and a nice feel of gentle citrus with a tropical fruit finish.

I paid $12 for this $14 Chenin and it was a good example of the grape and a decent value so raise a glass!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Seghesio Zinfandel (Sonoma) 2007wine review by (PB)


Once again at (NW's) he poured this wine he had opened the night before.
It has a black cherry hue with a bouquet of sweet robust spicy pie fruit with a cocoa base.

Palate--Unique front with juicy fruit filled core, chocolate hints, rich berry core that needs a couple more years in bottle but drinking nicely now.

Seghesio tends to score well year after year with thier various lines of Zins. This is the lower tier bottle selling for around $19-$22 typically. This would be a nice Zin to taste next to the Cline table wine Zin that runs most places for about half that. You would see what difference price makes in two wellmade wines but at two different price points. In this case, you get what you pay for although that is not always true when it comes to wine. So raise a glass to well made wines at all levels!

Terlan Gewurztraminer 2004 wine review by (PB)


(NW) served this to me "blind" which is great way to improve your wine tasting skills as well as embarrass yourself. I took one whiff of this big peach/apricot aromatic wine and blurted confidently--"It's a Gewurztraminer and NOT domestic; possibly Alsatian or German." (NW) sat stoically not giving any hints of whether I was hot or cold. But then, equivocating, I said, "But it could also be a Riesling from the same countries.

Palate--tasting it I said, "Okay, it doesn't quite have the signature Gewurztraminer spiciness so it must be a Riesling." (My teachers throughout school always told me to stick with my first impression because invariably I would often change a right answer to a wrong answer.)

(NW) unveiled the bottle and it was in fact a Gewurztraminer--NOT--domestic but was from the Alto Adige of Italy! I didn't even know they grew Gewurz. in Italy... This was a gem.

Off dry, nearly floral, with light stone fruit nuances, a solid acidic back bone and a flowery, fruity finish. I believe (NW) found this on sale for $15 and when you know your grapes, and your regionjs, it pays to experiment now and again. This won't be the last Italian Gewurz. I have so raise a glass!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Blind Trail Central Otago Pinot Noir 2006 Wine Review (NW)


Tasting notes:
Sour plum, red cherry, and raspberry on the nose
Lean and juicy on the palate
Cherry, wild red berries, herbs, and a touch of cocoa on the finish
The Pinot Noirs from New Zealand are carving out their place in the wine world. While some get a bit more velvety and spicy that this one, I'd say this a good example of the lean and focused wines that characterize the Central Otago region.
I paid $15 for this wine on sale which typically goes for $20 or so. That's on the lower end of the price spectrum for these Pinots. Friends who have visited this region suggested this is a newer wine.
Seek out the Pinot Noirs from New Zealand when you want a lean and focused food-friendly wine. In fact, there's no better pairing than a New Zealand rack of lamb. Raise a glass!

Tablas Creek Vineyard Cotes de Tablas 2004 Wine Review (NW)


Tasting notes:

Wild red berries, currants, and red licorice on the nose

Very smooth texture on the palate

Grapey finish with more red berries, licorice, and some spice

Here's a nice wine crafted from a list of Rhone grape varietals: grenache, syrah, counoise, and mourvedre. It's ultra smooth and versatile for $14 or so. Raise a glass!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Cline Zinfandel "California" 2007 wine review by (PB)


One of my perennial favorites, this value Zin runs around $8.50 a bottle and is a decent example of the grape even at this lower echelon production wine. It is opaqueish red with wild, brambly Zin aromas of rustic berries, a touch of ripe raspberry, and spice.

Palate--nice textured wine with solid red berry fruit with a touch of chocolate and wildness. It finishes with lingering berry flavors even if a little coarse. Raise a glass at this price and then compare it with a Zin of around $25 to grow your Zinfandel knowledge!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pigmentum Malbec 2005 wine review by (PB)


This Malbec from Cahors France has a fairly intense and slightly opaque garnet hue. Bouquet has some solid aromas of dark berry fruit and a little spice and a slight hint of mint and just a touch of leather.

Palate-- Somewhat startling first impression of being watery in texture, a little sour, big minerally tastes; bready notes, scant fruit, a bitter finish and tannins that are assaulting. This wine is acidic and needs yet more time to develop.

It seems to have potential but it is NOT yet ready to drink! Give this wine another good year and it may be surprising. *Raise a glass of something else in the meantime!

*After this wine had two good hours of breathing it was changing. It was nearly offensive on first opening but as time went on I found myself pouring it over and over again into my glass. By the time I was done with dinner, this wine was really quite engaging. So I'll back track what I said above and say rather to give it plenty of time to breahte--at least two hours.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

La Vieille Ferme Rose 2008 wine review review by PB)


These folks just know how to make value wine! This rose which I just bought for $7 is made from Grenache and Cinsault. It is a pretty light strawberry hued wine with spicy, sweet aromas of the same with grapefruit rind touches.

Palate--bracing acidity with gentle, bright fruit and a pleasing fruity finish. This rose is bone dry, and a solid summer quencher with mouth tingling liveliness. Chill it down and raise a glass and at this price, buy several bottles for those hot, poolside respites from the daily grind.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dry Creek Vineyards Fume Blanc 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Big citrus nose with melon accents

Nicely textured on the palate with a citrus core and a bit of weight

Mineral layers, kiwi, and more citrus on the finish

Nicely done! This is a beautiful Sauvignon Blanc at an affordable price of $12 or so. I paid $28 for the bottle at a restaurant, which is a pretty hefty markup that's all too common these days.

If you're a fan of this varietal, you'll want to start with this well chilled and let it gradually come up in temperature as you pour small glasses. The various citrus and mineral layers evolve and offer depth.

Raise a glass!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Covey Run Riesling 2007 wine review by (PB)


Real time review: Gentle golden hue with powdery, creme brulee aromas accented with fragrant sweet baking spices and light citrus touches and a hint of minerals--really nice and classic Riesling.

Palate--off dry presence with lemony highlights and a citrus foundation with solid acid and juicy core. Finishes crisp and clean.

Riesling some how has fallen into obscurity in recent decades which is baffling. It is the quintessential grape of the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer regions of Germany responsible for the indescribable "pradikat" wines of the regions. Washington State has been producing some truly wonderful expressions of this grape for a couple decades and it presents an extraordinary value.

This wine runs less than $10 and is the perfect summer afternoon aperitif as I get ready to grill a couple veal chops. Raise a glass to one of our RARE sunny days in Maine!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Amisfield Pinot Noir 2005 wine review by (PB)


This highly touted New Zealand Pinot from the central Otago has pronounced aromas of Pinot fruit with sour dried cherries and light cocoa that fades and then rises again.

Palate--Slightly tart milk chocolate, tannins and light fruit that tapers off.

This Pinot is clearly in the new world style where a crisp presentation is what its all about. It really is quite a different wine than what you might find in Burgundy but then again, you don't have to mortgage your home to buy one either. I believe (NW) paid about $35 for this quaff and raise a glass we did!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

BeauLieu Vineyards Reserve "Tapestry" 2000 wine review by (PB)


(NW) served this wine blind to us at a recent Boston fete. It was a deep garnet with big deep green pepper front with rich, dark fruit and leather and then rose petals, sweet black cherry with maple smoked bacon hints. Later, it is dusty with dried fruit and powdered chocolate and violets. Talk about complex...

Palate--cedar front with sweet presentation with notes of bread, plush maturing tannins, and a smoke finish on cedar and light cocoa. This is a mature wine and why we love B.V.'s Tapestry.

Before (NW) unveiled the wine, my wife asked, "Could this be Tapestry?" I--the expert--shrugged the suggestion off with a blatant, "No!"

Hey, you can't win them all so raise a glass!

Nova Tempranillo 2003 wine review by (PB)

This *Crianza wine has a purple garnet hue with robust, thick aromas of dark ripe berry and plum mixture with some hints of spice and bread with slight tinge of pepper.

Palate--over ripe fruit with intense, heavy texture with tannic foundation and a sweet underlayer of dark chocolate--wow! With some air, another layer of sweet cherry emerges.

This is a Ribera Del Douro where values are abundant and this is one at $10. Raise a glass today!

(*"Crianza" means the wine has spent one year in oak aging.)

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Camigliano Brunello Di Montalcino 2001 wine review by (PB)


A great occasion deserves a great wine so why not Brunello? It is my lover's and my 36th wedding anniversary and the lasagna is in the oven. I opened this wine at noon to let it breathe as most Brunellos need lots of air time and to my surprise this wine was showing some maturity on the rim and in the bouquet.

Sweet tobacco and bright candied cherry fill the bouquet with ample cedar notes.
Palate--The wine is supple with relaxed tannins (mature) bright cherry fruit over stewed prune hints with a cedar presence. This wine is peak right now and will not get any better I don't believe. It is mature and begging to be enjoyed. Perhaps this is why it was on sale when I bought it at $40 on a recent trip to Phoenix.

At any rate, it will be the perfect accompaniment to an awesome lasagna and a brilliant wife who makes water blush in her presence. How blessed I am so raise a glass to 36 faithful years to each other and that my friends is infinitely more rare than the rarest Le Pin or Petrus and worth 10 times as much!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Ranschbacher Konigsgarten 1976 Beerenauslese Eiswein wine review by (PB)

This rare treat was only fitting to be opened made from the vintage 200 years after the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed. We had no idea what to expect except that it could very easily still be vibrant as this is precisely the kind of white wine made for aging. What did it reveal 33 years after it was made?

The color on the anxious pour was a remarkable amber hue that looked like it was fitting for a gem stone set as a pendant.

The bouquet was honeyed with stewed fruit with dill and orange rind aromas that were amazing.

Palate--Elegant rich and velvety thick and marvelous. Flavors of stewed peaches with caramel notes and perfectly balanced between luscious sweetness and solid acid.

This wine came from the basement of my mother-in-law who bought it on release after a trip to Germany. No label was available on line that I could find nor could I reference a price. Suffice it to say, this is a wine to remember! Raise a glass to Ed and Mary...

Duval-Leroy Champagne (NV) Brut wine review by (PB)


Celebrating on the 4th of July with (NW) and his brood we started off with this from his ample cellar. It has a straw hue with nutty, vanilla aromas.

Palate--fine stream of bubbles with up front nuttiness and light citrus. A refreshing and delightful sparkler from THE region called "Champagne." About $30. Raise a glass indeed.

Castle Rock Pinot Noir 2007 wine review by (PB)


Made from *Mendocino grapes this wine is a young purple with solid Pinot aromas with a slightly stinky Pinot nose and a Grenache-like cherry presence.

Palate--Sweet presence of fruity cherry and quite well made finishing nicely.

At the $12 price point, this is a wine worth picking up and a decent value so raise a glass.

*Castle Rock sources their grapes from various locales and states the locale on the label so pay attention to all the information available to you when buying wine.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey Sauternes 1998 Wine Review (NW)



Tasting notes:

Apricot and fig on the nose

Dense and thickly textured on the palate

Orange peel, honey, and cashew berry on the finish

This wine is probably hitting its stride about now. It has a lot of apricot and orange peel surrounded by some other interesting layers. While not a benchmark wine, it delivers classic Sauternes qualities and is a pleasure to sip.

I was treated to this wine by a friend who always manages to producer a good bottle of wine no matter what the circumstances. This wine runs approximately $55, but he said he scored a great deal at a local wine shop.

Raise a glass!

Chateau Bellevue Rougier Bordeaux 2005 Wine Review (NW)


Tasting notes:

Cherry, currants, and spice on the nose

Moderately dense and fruity on the palate

Red berries, herbs, and touches of vanilla and tobacco on the finish

Here's a good, solid value from the great 2005 Bordeaux vintage. Had I known, I would have bought more at $13.

What this wine has over many others in the same value price category is a layering effect of fruit, herbs, and spice. According to the producer, the dominant grape is Merlot at 60%, accompanied by the other classic Bordeaux grapes.

Grab it if you see it...and raise a glass!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Columbia Winery 2005 Chardonnay wine review by Billy


Nose:astringent and chemically upon opening, butterscotch minnerals underneath. The acetone smell should blow off after a bit but give it some time.
Palate:strong acids make this crisp but it lacks refreshing character.
Finish:apples and daisys.

Overall: this Chardonnay from Washington's Columbia valley is not the best. I like the mineraly-ness of the wine but it lacks the refinement required to pull off a fine, minnerals forward wine. Schizophrenic between buttery chardonnay and steely french whites. Raise a glass of something else

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Rosenblum Syrah Solano County England-Shaw Vineyard 2005 wine review by (PB)


Real time review:
On the eve of the celebration of our independence as a nation I am slow cooking some ribs on my Weber with REAL charcoal--always the purist...

I just opened this bottle to celebrate such an auspicious occasion.

This wine is a deep black cherry colored with jammy plum aromas.
Palate is a bit coarse with austere fruit and chewy tannins. I will decant this sucker as I know there is much more there!

An hour later, it is relaxed with vibrant black cherry aromas, plum and sweet spices.
Palate has relaxed tannins, big ripe dark fruit and bready notes with a nice lingering finish. I paid $26 for this and it is nice but I would rather spend the same amount on one of their many single vineyard Zins. Raise a glass to the brave men and women who fought for our right to be free!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Umathum St. Laurent 2004 wine review by (PB)


This was another of the Austrian wines (Billy) of this blog, brought back from his trip. This one is a red and St.Laurent is the name of the grape. In the glass the hue looks like it should be a Syrah, deep and intense. The nose reminds me of a Malbec with heavy , dark aromas of berry fruit and sweet dill notes.

Palate--well balanced, bready, a bit "hot" with a sweet impression and more berries. Soft tannins round out this rather tasty wine even if finishing rather abruptly. I believe this wine is a bit pricey-- in the $30-$50 range. For the price, I'm not sure I would make the splurge again but it wasn't my dime and it was a "new" grape for me so raise a glass!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Chateau De Pommard 2000 wine review by (PB)


On opening the sight was not pretty. *Bricking at this young age for a Burgundy was tell tale of bad storage or a bad cork or both.

On the nose the wine had a gentle spice core with gentle cherry and licorice emerging.

Palate--Cherry and spice up front with minerals, bread, and more minerals on the finish. The wine was austere but I suspect this was a result of its oxidation. It was still very drinkable but quite ordinary when this wine should have been fairly impressive. Not a good representation of the wine.

(*Bricking is the appearance of the wine taking the color of bricks which is due to oxidation. Bricking by itself does not necessarily mean the wine is "bad" but it does mean the wine MAY be bad as it has aged. For this particular wine to show such "age" was not appropriate. As it turned out, (Billy) of this blog who supplied the wine paid $28 which was half price of what it sold at. This may be why it was being dumped for half off.)

Chasselas 2006 wine review by (PB)

On a recent trip to Switzerland, (Billy) of this blog, brought back some indigenous wines. This one, made from the Chasselas grape was a white that is pale gold, with a subtle bouquet of caramel underneath the fruit with a light touch of banana. Unique!

In the mouth this wine is loaded with minerals, is bone dry, fruit that I cannot even relate to anything I know, and has a very nutty finish like some champagnes.

Take advantage of your business travelings to explore wines you will never see anywhere else and raise a glass. (Sorry no picture of the label available.)