Monday, June 27, 2005

Beaulieu Vineyard “Beauzeaux” 2001 (PB)

This creation of the folks at BV shows they definitely have a sense of humor. The name of the wine–pronounced–“BOZO,” dare I say it–tasted “funny.” HAAAAAAAA, I crack myself up. Okay seriously this is a wine that is a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Charbono, Syrah, Lagrein, Valdiguie and Touriga Nacionale. I have been studying–not merely tasting wine for about 30 years and I have never even heard of those last three grapes.

Never-the-less, this wild blend has a spicy bouquet (thanks to the Zinfandel no doubt) and a nose with anise hints. The color is deep and dark with more berry and chocolate aromas rising to the surface. In the mouth it has a solid structure with respectable flavors and a little complexity as air opens it up. It has a solid tannin base which should allow it to age for a few more years.

We had this wine in Napa a couple years ago at the BV Vineyards. Finding it in Portland, Maine was a huge eureka as the memories the wine carried were worth the $24 price tag. Honestly though, the wine is over priced which shows how much of enjoying wine is so much more–at times–than just the way it holds up under the scrutiny of our senses.

There’s a value to great memories and for my wife and I, we would have paid even more just for the opportunity to take it home and reminisce.
*Read re-review of this wine April 20, 2006

The folks at BV were far and away the most friendly and fun folks of all the vineyards we visited. If you’re in Napa, Beaulieu is one of the don’t miss places to stop by for a tasting. This wine, at $24 is overpriced as a wine; as a memory of a trip back to California and a great tour of the wine country, it was well worth the price. Now raise a glass!

Trentadue Old Patch Red 2003 (PB)

This gorgeous wine has a young hue and vibrant depth in the glass. It is rich looking with a luscious bouquet of a mixture of fresh berries just picked. This is a blend of Zinfandel, Sangiovese (the great grape of Tuscany) Petite Sirah, Carignane, and Syrah. Zinfandel and Sangiovese seem to be the bouquet busters predominantly. On the palate at opening, it is hot and tannic with stifled fruit. After a few minutes of breathing the bouquet is fabulous with a sweet hint of bananas. It is still hot after considerable air and quite tannic--seemingly immature. As it is, it is somewhat nondescript although you can taste the berries trying to fight their way out. They are going to need more time to win. Give it another couple years! At $15, there’s better out there for drinking right now! Raise a glass.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc “Cellar Selection” 2004 (PB)

This is Villa Maria’s 2nd tier bottling and it is outstanding--They also produce a "Reserve" which is more expensive still. This New Zealand white–even with a screw top–grrrrr-has a wonderful floral bouquet with hints of peaches and pears. In the mouth it is lively with a micro-sparkle that tantalizes, it sits a bit sweet-ish yet has wonderful acid with a creamy texture with classic grassy Sauvignon Blanc flavors.. It finishes wonderfully with a lasting remembrance. NW brought this up the last time he was here. Score one for NW. It’s really NICCCCCCCCCCCCE! Because of its solid foundation of acid balance it is great with food, especially fatty food like grilled salmon which we just had.

The difference between a $14 wine and an $8 wine can be a world of difference. Splurge and buy this wine or another like it from New Zealand in the $14 range; the difference is remarkable. Wine Spectator gave this wine "Smart Buy" rating and a 91 to boot! Oh yeah!!! Now raise a glass!

Fossi Rosso Vin De Tavola (PB)

This Italian table wine cost $8 and was bought on a whim by my wife. With a reheated meal of manicotti from a restaurant we went to a couple days earlier, we were eager to try this inexpensive red from Italy. On opening the bouquet was expansive but odd. In the glass it was somewhat portish with a definite background of toluene (airplane glue). Something was wrong! Looking at it again it was cloudy in the glass and a tad brown. Being the glutton for punishment that I am I tasted it anyway. AWK! This wine is corked, flawed, or bad in some other way. I will contact my wine guy and check out his protocol for procuring a “bad” wine.

Chateau Le Bourdieu 2000 (PB)

This Cru Bourgeois is from the Medoc of the famed vintage of the century. It has a big aroma laden bouquet. It is tart in the mouth, closed, tight, with austere tannins. Not much flavor due to immaturity. This wine must be breathed and it will open I am confident.

With some time, it yields a bouquet laden with chocolate and keeps on giving with a little menthol. It is still fairly tight but loosening up. Berries are starting to come up with sweet fresh cherries in the bouquet now. Tannins are still heavy; this wine will age for years. It is a good quality old world wine with subtle nuances that will only get better with some time. I would hold this for another 2-3 years before drinking. It was $12. Buy another and hold it a couple years.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Covey Run Dry Riesling 2003 (PB)

From Washington State, this is a brilliant, lively white with a unique bouquet of Guava(?) pears and peaches delicately balanced with a candied nose of something elusive and exciting.

This wine seems a bit sweet in the mouth yet its acidity balances it out to seeming a little dusty. It turns buttery, and fruity with dancing eensy bubbles on your tongue. It is wonderful with food or by itself.

At $8, this is a winner and another recommended wine to seek after. I just returned from the place where I bought it and of course they have been replaced by the 2004’s. I picked up one bottle to see if it is anything like it’s older brother. If it is, I’ll be buying more. Now raise a glass!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

House Wine Columbia Valley 2003 (PB)

This wine has such an amateurish looking label you are likely to pass it up on the shelf. Give a magic marker to your 5 year old and tell her to design you a label for your new house wine and this is what you might expect—a blocky picture of hand sketched house and the words House Wine on a white label. That’s it. It’s ugly, but don’t pass up what is in the bottle. The sometimes bizarre ex-rock world producer “Charles Smith” of “K” Vintners is creating some out of the ordinary, wowing wines.

This one will run you less than $12 and is a blend of Washington state Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot and it is really BIG! From the first pour the deep, deep purple, youthful wine exudes a bouquet that is room filling with a chocolate nose that keeps growing. On opening, the tannins will bust your palate and bury the fruit but give it some room to breath and then decant it for a wild time of fudgey aromas, berries forward and cherries behind with the tannins taking a sedative settling into a recliner for the rest of the ride. This is a wine to be sought out and bought and drunk, NOW! Raise a bottle!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Excelsior Paddock Shiraz 2004 (PB)

This Varietal from the folks in S. Africa who had produced my favorite inexpensive red blend a couple years back has produced a new world offering with a huge berry nose of ripe blackberries but there is considerable alcohol on the nose as well. In the mouth it is a bit sweet, with decent acid, relaxed tannins but a bit “hot.” It is not deep on flavor but definite with a chocolate and leather finish with some smoke on the side.

With a little breathing, it is not helped and even seems less than what it was. This was okay but I wouldn’t waste my time or money ($8) searching after it.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Marietta Cellars California Old Vine Red Lot # 36 (PB)

This Geyserville blend from area locales is an artful conglomeration of Gamay, Zinfandel, Petite Syrah and Carignane. This is a non-vintage wine but don’t be fooled thinking it is a run of the mill bottling.

On opening it is a dark, inky black with gargantuan berry aromas with a portish kind of nose. It has sound structure with balance and bold flavors which are jammy and fruit forward, a little spicy on the palate with a touch of sweetness and full. On the finish it is nothing but blackberries that keep on going. My wife loves it! It is nice! At $13, give it a shot. If you like being assaulted by flavor and well balanced tannins and acid, this is a wine for you! We're raising a glass!

Brancott Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2002 (PB)

This New Zealand white from the Marlborough region of New Zealand is a fine example of the HUGE difference paying a little more for a wine can make. I have tasted scads of Sauvignon Blancs over the years basically all under $10. So when I opened this wine I was baffled what the bouquet was emanating from the glass!

This golden delight is unlike anything I have ever had with different layers of aromas that I had a hard time pinning down. But as close as I could come is touches of peach and pears, with cantaloupe mixed and then another layer of something really nice I can only describe as a bouquet of flowers; a touch green, but a touch perfumey as well and then another layer of something reminding me of oregano yet not oregano. This is what wine tasting is about!

All this was even before it went into my mouth and it had already been worth the cost—a mere $14! In the mouth it is citrusy and tart with flavors of all the above aromas. When it is swallowed, it is again tart yet creamy and just plain nice!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Kendall-Jackson Pinot Noir 2003 Vintner’s Reserve (PB)

On the pour this has a typical Pinot color of lighter red with a translucent appearance yet the bouquet fills the room of fresh fruit of raspberries with a layer of currants. Beyond that there is a layer of black cherries and black berries; an impressive start!

In the mouth, the first impression is spice on a nice texture that is elegant in balance all the way around. The finish of this wine is also pleasant with a subtle touch of chocolate. I believe this was a Gaiter /Brecher favorite for inexpensive Pinot Noirs showing yet again that their recommendations are usually right on the money. At $12, this was certainly a winner and will be on the recommended list. Raise a glass again and again!

Goats Do Rome Rose 2003 (PB)

When was the last time I actually spent money on a rose? I can’t remember but I would guess it has been over 20 years. Why would anyone who actually loves wine buy a rose? When Gaiter and Brecher of the Wall Street Journal recommend one. Friday’s wine column on was tasting a passel of roses. In my mind, roses are a good reason NOT to drink wine but soda pop instead. Never-the-less, I have always found Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher to have reliable assessments of their tasting forays and this week it was roses. About the only one I recognized was the South African Rose called Goats do Rome. This is the same group that makes a good quality red wine for about $10. This rose was $8 and is a blend of granache, pinotage, shiraz and cinsault.

Over simplifying a bit roses are made from red grapes which are not left in contact with the juice for nearly as long as a red wine; hence the much lighter color and difference in flavor. The WSJ recommended the 2004 but I could only find the 2003. Putting a good chill on it I opened it and found it to have a fresh fruity bouquet but very subdued. The flavor was refreshing but shallow, pleasant but hollow. It was gone before you know it and when trying to describe it, it left you stupefied trying to describe nothingness. About all I could say is, “it wasn’t offensive...” But in fairness this was not the same vintage receommendced by the WSJ. So for $8,I shall give it another chance when the 2004 is available in my neck of the woods. Until then, I’d raise a glass of something else!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Guigal Cotes Du Rhone 2000 (PB)

This Wine Spectator “best value” scored an 88. This Rhone made largely of Syrah I assume is produced by the reliable Guigal. It has a very subdued bouquet and a bit of a stinky odor on opening. In the mouth it is tannic and there is not much flavor. Breathing should help open this up.

With a little bit of air time the stink is gone and an apple sauce kind of nose is present. The taste is still shallow and simple but much better than it was on opening and the balance is starting to come around. This is an old world wine to be sure. With another half hour of breathing or so, it opens decently and is a pleasant enough wine with currants coming forth and a nice balance. I paid $10 for this at a Sam’s Club after searching through three cases of 2001’s to find the last two of this vintage. All in all, it’s a good wine but I think 88 is over rated. Raise a glass—by the way we paired it with a filet mignon and Gorgonzola risotto. Nice!