Friday, September 30, 2005

J.W. Morris Chenin Blanc 2003 (PB)

This is the other wine I bought along with the Gewurztraminer—rated a couple days ago—for $2.99. There’s actually some fairly strong Chenin aromas and lemons on the nose. In the mouth it is much too sweet and the sweetness kills the light varietal flavors that are there. Clearly the bouquet is the best part of this wine but once again, at this price, to be even drinkable, this wine is a value. For the uneducated palate, it would be a good party wine to serve though too sweet to be a good food wine. Never-the-less, at this price I say, raise a glass!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Gallo of Sonoma Zinfandel Barelli Creek Vineyard 1999 (PB)

On opening the nose on this older Zin has berries up front and an interesting little “bottle stink” reminiscent of Pinot Noir not Zinfandel. The tannins are fairly mellow yet tight. Without temperature control, the wine is way too warm so I’ll refrigerate it for a while before serving it with dinner.

This wine is clearly mature—at it’s peak I would think—and fairly nicely balanced with some good fruit showing. With a little air time it should open some and be even nicer. We’ll let it go for a half hour or so while I’m making my daughter and son-in-law an Italian dinner of sausage marinara and pasta. It is sweltering hot here in Alta Dena when it was in the 60’s last week before our arrival. Slaving over a hot stove is brutal but for the fam, it’s pure joy.

With an half an hour of air time that peculiar bottle stink is still present—odd. A little more Zinfandel character comes around with the breathing but it is still not a great example of the grape. The wine is tasty, the tannins loosen their grip but overall it’s just not all that typical. There is some characteristic spiciness one would expect of a Zin but it is subtle. The finish is okay and prominent in currants.

The price of this wine was $20 but it was on sale and for a nickel you get another bottle of the wine. So, for $10 it’s a fair value, at $20, it’s still a fair wine but there’s better out there. Note—this wine needs to be decanted as it has thrown a sediment. Raise a glass! The pasta by “the pastah” is almost done…

Rancho Arroyo Grande Syrah 2002 Private Reserve (PB)

Friends came over for dinner at my daughter and son’s-in-law house and brought a bottle of this wine. The bottle was given to him by an acquaintance who happens to be the owner of Rancho Arroyo Vineyards and is the winemaker as well.

On opening, this Syrah sits pretty in the glass and has a nice Syrah nose that is rich in blackberries with an under-layer of currants though quite subdued at the moment. It has good structure though a little hot. It holds promise for opening up with a little breathing. When it opens it ought to be full bodied even if somewhat understated for this grape.

Indeed a good half hour of air helps open this wine though it is still a bit hot. Currants abound with a hint of cherries and a nice layer of vanilla to boot. The finish has olives and a typical inky Syrah ending--a nice well structured wine. At around $25, it is a good example of the grape.

It is a treat to have a wine such as this knowing some of the background of the producer and personal connection to the one who crafted it. This is just another facet of what makes oenology the special endeavor that it is. Thanks Dave! Raise a glass!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

J.W. Morris Gewurztraminer 2003 (PB)

This conglomeration of scrounged California grapes has a nice light golden color with a typical Gewruz bouquet of peaches, apricots and pineapples and a hint of vanilla. In the mouth it is sweet, a little too much, but there’s enough acid to pull it off without it being cloying. Now here’s the gig—if you put a good solid chill on this wine, it is drinkable and nearly enjoyable even to schooled palate such as mine. It is not a great wine, and there’s maybe an off flavor or two but they are subtle, probably undetectable to the normal palate and for the $2.99 anything that is palatable has you ahead of the game.

This would be a good wine to pour for your guests who complain about those “nasty, dry, red wines” they just can’t handle and prefer the soda pop wines or the white Zins they are used to. What the heck—introduce them to a real wine grape! At this price, you can’t go wrong! Raise a glass!

Numanthia 2002 (billy)

This is a wine that I was intending to save but, after a 20 hour day at the office yesterday and being able to leave at 5 today, I could think of no better celebratory reason to open this bottle than the prospect of a dinner with my family.

We reviewed this 2002 vintage back in January (here) and the 2000 vintage, also reviewed in January (here). We told you then that the wine would not stay a $20 (or so) wine for long and we were right. I paid $51 for this bottle. To be sure, this is a bit above national average but it is not the most expensive pricing out there.

While the increasing price point may be a drag, it is also clear evidence that this is a very special wine. Many wines, especially to the new oenophiles such as myself, fall into one of three experience categories: Tent Wine(party wine, cough syrup, take it on a camping trip just to have some wine-wine), wine wine ("it tastes like wine"), and something special. This is definitely something special. It outclasses most other reds you would normally buy for an average dinner - as should anything over 40 bucks a pop.

This is a pleasingly complex wine. There are strong dark fruit on the nose and deep black cherries as the wine opens up. Hints of chocolate, black licorice, leather and smoke round out the nose. In the mouth the Numanthia 2002 is velvety and full and the finish, pleasingly tannic. Not grassy or green like a cab but mellow and lingering.

This wine went as well with crème brulee as it did with a garlic infused seitan main course.

Perhaps the nicest aspect of this wine is that it demands to be savored. Its complexity lends itself well to a thoughtful encounter where you take your time to explore its flavor facets. This might be contrasted with a wine that you buy on reputation or to impress clients. Those have their place, but after the label is acknowledged the actual wine may be quaffed or not. The 2002 Numanthia, on the other hand, is not imposing from a fad perspective. It is imposing from a flavor perspective and is one that requires that you reflect as you drink.

All in all, a philosophical wine, to be enjoyed when there is cause and as funds allow, but not one to be taken for granted.

raise a glass

A Visit to the Historic San Antonio Winery (PB)

Established in 1917, this winery resides in the heart of an urban Los Angeles; an area that reminds one of something out of a Schwarzenegger movie set in a waste land of some war ravaged urban, industrial area. A cement business is one of its neighbors and I felt like I should put a hazmat suit on before getting out of my car. Sitting in the midst of a forest of industrial chain link fences, the winery itself is charming and a bit of an oasis in an otherwise heinous part of the city.

The Maddelena Restaurant—named for the matriarch of the Riboli family-- is on site and we enjoyed a modest repast of appetizer plates of anti-pasta with a couple glasses of this winery’s wine.

I had the Syrah 2002 which sells for about $20 a bottle in the on site store and was actually quite flavorful bursting with currants, good fruit, a decent balance and a ton of vanilla, both on the nose and the mouth. If you enjoy vanilla in your wine—and I do—you’d love this. My wife had their Merlot which wasn’t nearly as powerful and was rather dull. Both wines were served way too warm—a shame for a winery—but they gave you a generous pour at least.

I have never seen this family’s wines anywhere I have ever been but looking at their web site they do distribute coast to coast though somewhat limited.

Still, spending the time with my daughter and my wife on a beautiful Southern California day, I can’t complain! Raise a glass—I know we are!

So close and yet so far...(PB)

It's Sept.28, the sun is shining and I am blogging as I wait for my wife and daughter--my daughter who, as we learned on arrival here in L.A. is expecting our 6th grandchild! Where's the champagne when you need that pop and splash of a celebrative quaff? The joys of life...

I've been here for over 36 hours and haven't even been to a real wine store yet. What California treasures await; treasures found nowhere else outside the mecca of American wine.

Even the Trader Joe's I breezed through yesterday had some unheard of wines (unheard of in my neck of the woods) some for as little as $2.99 a bottle (J.W. Morris Gewurtztraminer and chenin Blanc) and of course there was the ubiquitous "Two Buck Chuck" the MD 20-20 of Napadom.

I helped an elder gentleman locate a few bottles of "Chateau something-or-other" his wife assigned him to find probably to get him out of her hair for a few minutes. He lamented his failing faculties and wondered aloud with me--in good humor--how long they would let him "out" on his own. We both laughed as I reminded him that we all were moving forward and ther wasn't much we could do about it. Seizing the opportunity, I took my shot at significance and said, "Ya just have to make sure you're ready for what awaits on the other side." He mumbeled an expletive and left in haste. "Too bad," I thought, to be that close to the end of the road and to be utterly oblivious to the reality of the hereafter...

But this is a wine blog, not a religion blog and I'm less than four hours away from the wineries of Santa Barbara where the movie "Sideways" popularized "Pinot Noir" and disparaged the great grape of the Medoc--Merlot.

But in a few minutes we'll be visiting the San Antonio Winery right here in L.A., the home of the Riboli family wines.

I remind myself we're here to see family, not vineyards, but of course along the way of life the beverage of the fruit of the vine has been the escort on the arm of every momentous occassion in human history. Even before Jesus lifted the cup in thanksgiving at the last supper, Lot, and Abraham, Solomon and Boaz had poured the fermented juice--sometimes in excess--into thier goblets and raised a glass. Now go do the same!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (NW)

Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon 2004:

Black currant, plum, and milk chocolate on the nose and palate
A brief note of plastic?
Plum takes over on the smooth finish
Mild tannins

This wine was fantastic in 2002 and not so good in 2003. Because of that, I was anticipating a recovery for 2004. After patiently waiting for the release in my area, I scooped up the first bottle in great anticipation. Two years ago I bought the wine for $7 and last week I paid $10. Sadly, it just isn't what I was hoping for. Along with the nice soft fruit flavor, there is also a brief plastic note. Maybe my mind is playing tricks on me, but there is something there that doesn't fit. I have concluded, though, that it's not worth spending any more time analyzing. Since I can't decide if I really like this wine or not, I'm done trying. There's too much wine out there for me to waste any more type on this. Raise a glass (of something you know you like).

Monday, September 26, 2005

Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 (PB)

Making a stop over at NW's place before taking off for the west coast, we shared a bottle of the newly released 2004 vintage. This South African vareietal was one of my inexpensive favorites ($8) two years ago. It had a nice cab bouquet and definite chocolate flavors with good fruit, balance and a nice finish. But then the 03's were released and there was a rather strong reminder of bandaids in the mouth. If you're gagging about now, you should be. "Bandaids" is the descriptor used of a wine that has been tainted by brettanomyces, a mold that is controversial in that some view it's impact on a wine as one of the many positive traits of a wine that makes it distinctive. Distinctive, yes; positive, no!

The 2003 was strong in this off flavor so much that I label it "flawed." Yet the Wine Spectator gave it a favorable rating and a decent review. I had several bottles so I know it wasn't just a bad bottle.

The 2004 is better on the bandaid end of things than its predecessor but it is still there; a hint on the swirl and a fleeting (thankfully)taste before swallowing and then a sweet, currant and plum chracter takes over. Dissappointing...

I try to tell myself this is "terroir" but my taste buds tell me it's sloppy wine making. NW didn't agree. We'll see what he writes.

So, it's off to the west coast where I'll visit one of the local wineries right in Los Angeles and you can read about it when I return. Until then, raise a glass and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Beaulieu Vineyards Tapestry Reserve 2000 (PB)

This is the wine that the Wine Spectator just seems to love to hate. Ever since Beaulieu’s TCA problem in the late 90's (TCA is a contaminant that imparts off flavors to a wine likened to wet paper, wet cement, or musty) their wine gets a poor rating that defies normal sensibilities. This wine rated a 77 by Wine Spectator’s ratings in two blind tastings. Never-the-less, I am a fan of BV’s Tapestry. How much of a fan? I took a bottle of BV tapestry to Italy 2 years ago when touring Tuscany. There in the historic birth place of Vignamaggio–the birth place of Mona Lisa–my wife and I and (NW) and our daughter sat outside eating bread, cheese, boar sausage, and in the heart of Chianti, had the audacity to open a bottle of this Napa blend.

I am such a fan of this wine that an oil painting of a bottle of Tapestry and some cheese graces the wall of my living room painted by my daughter who sells her still lifes for thousands of dollars.

Can such a fan be objective–not entirely but I know a “77" point wine from a good wine.

This wine is still young on opening and needs plenty of air. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot from selected vineyards of Napa is tight in all ways yet with a pretty bouquet of fresh fruit even if light. In the mouth the tannins are really tight and flavors are subdued.

With decanting, it opens nicely thought more understated than previous vintages I have had. Never-the-less, flavors of cherries with a hint of chocolate and licorice are prevalent at this time. The tannins border on gentle if not plush and the finish a bit herbal. With more time., a big plummy bouquet emerges with currants closely behind. I like earlier vintages better which is why I have a 98 and a 99 in my cellar. As for The Wine Spectator’s 77 rating, either they have supernatural taste sensors or I wildly blinded by the label. I don’t think the latter is true. But whatever, I enjoyed raising a glass o this favorite again!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Twin Fin 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon (PB)

The bouquet on this purple, young California wine is light with and equally light nose on opening of blackberries and plums. In the mouth it is sweet, tannic and rather simple but finishes with a very fleeting hint of chocolate. With 15 minutes of air the nose goes green though the flavors are rich though the tannins are puckery.

With more time, green peppers and oak are prominent, tannins actually relent to a nice balanced wine. If you like a sweeter type cab this is quite flavorful, fruit forward, new world and a nice finish! Raise a glass for $10 a bottle. Wine Spectator rates this wine a generous 87.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Dry Creek Chenin Blanc 2004 (PB)

I previously reviewed this wine from the 2003 vintage and put it on the recommende list. This (2004) is another "must buy." It is different than the 2003 even more food friendly than its predecessor.

This pale straw white wine has a strong nose of pineapple, apples and tropical fruit that is fabulous. In the mouth, this quaff is solidly acidic making it a great pairing wine with many foods and it is neither sweet nor dry. It is a tad creamy and just plain impressive at $9. The finish is not tremendous as far as ongevity but solid and satisfying. I will be buying more of this super value creation. Raise a glass as I put this one on our recommended list as well!

A Study in Chateauneuf du Pape (NW)

Baronnie d'Estouard Chateauneuf du Pape 1998:

A hint of age, light in color with some brown on the edge
Elegant and soft
Notes of pepper, black cherry, and earth
Graceful, smooth finish

Domaine Font de Michelle Cuvee Etienne Gonnet Chateauneuf du Pape 2001:

Brilliant, light color
Very smooth
Layers of vanilla and cinnamon over cherry and berries
Long finish, but a little tight

These two wines were tasted side-by-side with a cheese course followed by coq a vin. It was "French night" from start to finish with good friends from New York.

Both wines were excellent, but different. The Baronnie d'Estouard was purchased in Provence in 2000 and is a small production wine that is not readily available outside of southern France. The Domaine Font de Michelle is a wine more visible on this side of the pond. It was purchased at a fine wine store in New York.

There was obviouse age on the first wine, although it's only 8 years old. It may be due to the fact that the wine experienced a variety of storage conditions over the years that accelerated the aging. Still, it was smooth and graceful and it momentarily transported us to a small village in Provence. The wine was purchased in France 5 years ago for approximately $30.

The second wine was younger and more crisp, which contributed to a tighter finish. The layers were endless and the overall quality excellent. It scores 95 points with Wine Spectator and was purchased this month in New York for $50.

This little study in Chateauneuf was a lot of fun. It's the type of thing we had to plan for and prepare food for. But the payoff was the chance to enjoy two great wines with great friends. Raise a glass!

Chateau Lynch Bages 1990 (NW)

Chateau Lynch Bages 1990:

Subtle, aromatic nose
Dark berries, spice, leather
Lengthy and smooth, with endless layers

Great wine! It was a special treat to see this wine emerge from the cellar. We had been invited to dinner by new friends who had just spent 18 months renovating an old New Hampshire farmhouse. They put together an excellent dinner with lamb chops and a number of other delicious courses and the wine paired extremely well. Our hosts have a real appreciation for Bordeaux and had cellared a few cases of this wine since it's release in 1993. With 15 years of age, this wine is considered to be maturing nicely by the critics. The store price for this wine today would be $150-$200 per bottle. Very generous and very enjoyable. Raise a glass!

Howell Mountain Vinyards Black Sears Zinfandel 2001 (NW)

Howell Mountain Vinyards Black Sears Zinfandel 2001:

Rich, sweet nose
Layers of cherry, spice, mushroom, and bread
Very smooth finish

I go through phases when I love California Zinfandel. Typical characteristics include a little spicyness, higher alcohol content, and very ripe flavors. This wine was a special treat at a restaurant three years ago and I found a couple of bottles after some searching for $37 each. This was the last bottle and it tasted great. We decanted it, which was probably not necessary but a fun ceremonial act. Robust Zinfandel from California can be a real treat, but make sure you're in the mood for it. Raise a glass!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Camelot Pinot Noir 2003 (PB)

From the folks that had such a high value Pinot Noir a couple years ago comes the 2003 varietal that has the typical light, almost sickly pale red pour of Pinot Noir. The bouquet is light of cherries and berries with a nose of the same. There is some steel and a little greeness as well with a hint of the trademark funkiness of the Pinot Noir grape.

(I rated this wine back in March [look it up to see o=how a wine matures]but had forgotten that I did so. I just stumbled onto my previous review from march.) This wine has really improved in the 6 months!)

In the mouth it is tart but works as a major milk chocolate flavor is prominent and lingers. With an hour of breathing the tartness has mellowed, the flavors are big and everything about this wine gets better. And get ready for the price of what is a really nice wine and SUPER value; it cost me $6.50!

This puppy is going on the recommended wine list! It pairs well with so many foods; we had mahogany clams in a wine sauce for an appetizer and then I browned some veal rib chops on the stove finishing them in the oven. The bottle is DRY! A complement indeed. Raise a bottle of this bargain today!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Chateau De Sales 2001 (PB)

This Bordeaux from the Pomerol region is a nice deep red, green on opening in the bouquet with olives, daffodils and asparagus in the swirl.

In the mouth this wine is downright elegant. This is a superbly balanced wine even on opening. With some air, it is unusually consistent with no real benefit from breathing. My assessment is this wine is at it’s absolute peak. Tannins are lush, flavors are deep and yet disappointingly simple. With air a little bit of cherry does come out and maybe even some menthol, but however you slice it, this Bordeaux from the 2001 vintage which was almost excellent is a very well made wine. I paid $22 for it about 1 ½ years ago and wanted to lay it down for just such a time as this. I’m glad I waited. Raise a glass!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Note on Spam comments

Due to an increased number of automated spam comments to our blog I have added a "word verification" step in order for you to leave a comment. You will be asked to reproduce a word you will see,in a window and then you will be permitted to leave your comment. This little step requires a real a human being to read the word thereby eliminating automated spam. We apologize for this slight inconvenience but deemed less a hassle than having you go to read a comment only to be pitched for a product unrelated to wine and the world of wine.

Thanks for understanding. PB

Punter’s Corner Cabernet Sauvignon 1999 (PB)

This Aussie red was bought on close out for $13 priced $25 regularly. The 1999 vintage was a low yielding year in Coonawarra and the wines tend to be pretty fair. This one has a nice bouquet of lush fruit and a pleasant pruney nose.

In the mouth it is at first, unexciting, closed and unyielding of what I think is there. It needs air. With a half hour or so there are good cab aromas with a foundation of daffodils that I am not crazy about; some might call it vegetal. The tannins are mature and will hold out for another couple years I would guess. It opens to a full bodied, full bouquet’d wine with cab flavors, plush tannins ans strong flavor. It is pretty nice but rather simple. It was worth the $13, but not the $25 it was priced at. Raise a glass and enjoy!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Gaiter and Brecher are back!

Gaiter and Brecher are back in the Friday edition of the Wall Street Journal!

After a summer hiatus for a little R and R, I presume, they are back to their routine, down to earth, common sense approach to all things wine. Apparently their summer recreation took them back to wine country and today’s column (9-9-05) is a smorgasbord of their visits with various wineries and their assessments of tasting rooms, kid-friendly environments and the best deal going in Sonoma–a 7 course food and wine pairing for $20!

So if you’re not familiar with their column, pay the buck and get the WSJ each Friday. Their column is worth the $1 alone! Sit down, read along and raise a glass to Summer while it lasts!

Salmon Creek 2002 Chardonnay (PB)

This previously reviewed wine is one of the best wine values going. I opened my second to last bottle of what was 2 cases this afternoon. It is pale yellow with a light bouquet of Chardonnay aromas with peach highlights and the trademark vanilla which I love in this wine. In the mouth it is flavorful even if a little alcoholic primarily due to being served too warm. The pineapple hints are a bonus to the warm vanilla notes that stay to the finish. Now–sit down–at $4 per bottle, that’s not a misprint, it is the best wine value going in my opinion. So have at it, and raise a glass!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Redwood Creek Merlot 2003 (PB)

This northern California wine, and I use the term very loosely, is a fine example of why many people have no appreciation nor taste for red wine. This production under the Frei Bros. name is owned by Gallo, the largest producer of wine in the world and would be a better example of cleaning solvent than wine. It has a bouquet–if I can even use that term to apply to the smell of isopropyl alcohol with a subtle hint of grape underneath. There is a tinge of green aroma that carries through to the palate where alcohol is again the primary flavor. A mere hint of grape ever comes through and this is not a “corked” wine. This is a super mass produced wine with little concern for the consumer. At $7.00 it is overpriced by about $6. Now you may be thinking, “Well, you get what you pay for.” That is often true when it comes to wine but for $7, you can find many drinkable wines that actually remind you of wine and the specific type of grape used in the wine. This is a wine that should be left on the shelf. Raise a glass of some real wine and put this one behind you–forever.

Vallado Duoro Vinho Tinto 2002 (NW)

Vallado Duoro Vinho Tinto 2002:

Exotic spicyness
Cherry, tabacco, and vegetable flavors
Tangy finish

I walked into one of the good wine stores I like to visit and asked the resident guru for a really unique red. He immediately began talking about Portugal and trotted across the store toward this wine. As it turns out, a lot of wine lovers are talking about Portugal. Long known for world-class Port wines, Portugal is emerging as a producer of interesting dry red table wines as well. I've seen a lot of articles on this lately and am beginning to sample them when I find them. This particular wine was a lot of fun to try and I paid just $12 for the bottle. Raise a glass to Portugal!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Carmenere 2002 (NW)

Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Carmenere 2002:

Rich, dense nose with a big bouquet
Very smooth on the palate
Layers of berries, cherry, and tabacco
Tannins are evident on the finish

This Carmenere is a very nice wine! Carmenere was traditionally a blending grape, but has recently become a featured varietal from Chile. Concha Y Toro is producing a lot of nice wine, and is doing a great job with the reds. I tend to see a lot of their Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon on the shelves, but have to dig a little more to find this wine. It is several rungs up the Concha Y Toro ladder in price, normally around $26/bottle. However, it's worth keeping a look out for this wine when you want an alternative red. Raise a glass!

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Cuvaison Chardonnay 2003 (NW)

In the interest of full disclosure, Paterno Wines was very generous to provide us with several complimentary bottles of Cuvaison wine. My assumption is that they are in the process of trying to strengthen the awareness of this label. The wine was sent to us at The Wine Cask and arrived just in time to be enjoyed with my fellow blogger PB.

Cuvaison Chardonnay 2003:

Tropical fruit, some honey, and sweet spice on the nose and palate
Good backbone and just enough acidity
A touch of butter on the creamy finish

This Chardonnay was enjoyed on its own and later with a plate of bruschetta. It seems like a very versatile wine with the ability to pair well with food. The grapes are grown in the Carneros region, which produces high quality Chardonnay known for well-balanced fruit and a buttery finish. The suggested retail price is $24, which is fairly typical of a good Carneros Chardonnay. However, if it's meant to be an every day white wine, a price point below $20 would be more reasonable. Overall, the wine is very well-balanced and versatile. Raise a glass!

Cuvaison Pinot Noir 2003 (NW)

In the interest of full disclosure, Paterno Wines was very generous to provide us with several complimentary bottles of Cuvaison wine. My assumption is that they are in the process of trying to strengthen the awareness of this label. I have had good experiences with Paterno in the past, including an excellent wine tasting hosted by a Paterno rep in Florida. The tasting was about six months ago and featured a dozen or so wines, including Cuvaison Chardonnay, Petaluma Shiraz, and Pio Cesare Barolo.

Cuvaison Pinot Noir 2003:

Rich, elegant nose
Cherry, plum, and some sweet spice
A touch of cranberry, but not tart
Silky smooth finish

The wine that Paterno sent to us at The Wine Cask arrived just in time to share with my fellow blogger PB. We had the chance to enjoy a glass before our meal and a glass paired with sauteed chicken breasts and tortellini. The wine was very enjoyable and had a nice elegance to it. We recorded our tasting notes independenty and only briefly discussed our entries prior to posting on this site.

This wine from Cuvaison is priced at $25, which is neither expensive nor a real bargain. In my experience, it's difficult to find a high quality Pinot Noir under $20 anyway. Overall, I think it's a nice wine and very representative of the varietal. Raise a glass!

Cuvaison Chardonnay “Carneros” 2003 (PB)

Please note--In the interest of full disclosure The Wine Cask wants you to know that this wine was received from the folks at Cuvaison for gratis. Have no concerns re: a conflict of interest though; if the wines they (or anyone else for that matter) ever send are inferior in any way, we’d let you know. (NW) happened to be in town when the wine arrived and you will be reading his review of the same wine. I urge you to compare his and mine noting similarities and differences (I haven’t seen his review myself) remembering wine tasting is a subjective discipline on an objective playing field.

This Chard from the prestigious Carneros region sits pretty in the glass with a somewhat intense yellow color. The bouquet is light with a hint of peach but the nose has a really nice sense of pineapple life-savers with a touch of honey on the end. In the mouth this has a nice feel with very solid structure that will make it a versatile accompaniment with a variety of foods. (We had it with Bruschetta which is garlic toast topped with fresh basil, tomatoes, and olive oil and it did fine.) Uniquely though, I enjoyed this wine by itself as well. It has a mildly buttery texture—not as intense as some Chard’s—with a nice mouth feel. My favorite aspect though was the finish which was creamy fruit that lingered. Carneros Chards tend to be a bit pricey in general. Cuvaison lists the price of this wine at $24 which is reasonable. I would hope to see it around $16-$18. At any rate, raise a glass as (NW) and I do to “Billy” who is many miles away!

Cuvaison Pinot Noir “Carneros” 2003 (PB)

Please note--In the interest of full disclosure The Wine Cask wants you to know that this wine was received from the folks at Cuvaison for gratis. Have no concerns re: a conflict of interest though; if the wines they (or anyone else for that matter) ever send are inferior in any way, we’d let you know. (NW) happened to be in town when the wine arrived and you will be reading his review of the same wine. I urge you to compare his and mine noting similarities and differences (I haven’t seen his review myself) remembering wine tasting is a subjective discipline on an objective playing field.

The bouquet of this classically colored Pinot is shallow yet with a fine nose of cherries. In the mouth the flavor is big! This wine relinquished none of its energy to the bouquet—that’s for sure. It is a bit hot with somewhat of fruit compote of flavors of plum, raisins and currants. The finish is decent with a hint of smoke. With some air it is still a bit hot with more layers of chocolate, cherries, raisins and plums. Cuvaison’s suggested retail price is $25. At $15 this would be a value wine; at $25 it’s a little ambitious. We paired with our dinner of sautéed chicken breasts, and tortellini.

Again we raise a glass to “Billy” the third in our triumvirate blog and again watch for (NW’s) review of this same wine as we were together when we reviewed it yet independent of each other. Thanks to the folks at Cuvaison for the opportunity.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Aresti Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Rio Claro 2000 (PB)

This Chilean varietal has an impressive bouquet of ripe fruit aromas with a sublte apple breeze way underneath and green pepper in the nose.
In the mouth this wine is a bit harsh but a nice touch of spice, a hint of chocolate, a little smoke helps you overlook the “heat” of imbalanced alcohol. Tannins are bit rough.

With some air the tannins don’t really loosen up and it’s still a bit harsh. Cherries just ooze from the bouquet though with ripe plums to boot. For $11, Chile continues to push bold, expressive full bodied wines that tend towards value than not. It easily handled my grilled sirloin with Zatarains very strongly spiced rice. Raise a glass once again to Chile!