Sunday, April 30, 2006

Beringer Chenin Blanc 2005 wine review by (PB)

This straw colored wine is just a head turner with a bouquet that will slap you silly with sweet pineapple, tropical fruit and a creamy vanilla pudding overtone.

In the mouth it is sweet--quite sweet--but tasty with a supple texture. It lacks acidity but not to where it is flawed. If it had a tad more acid, it would rock you out of this world; as it is, it only manages to shoot you past your state border. There is a fine apricot finish that is REALLY nice.

Now get ready--this wine was $4.29. So, grab a half case, chill it before serving it and enjoy it on a hot day, or with a light soup that is somewhat salty. (It was great with split pea soup) Raise a glass to be sure!

Fetzer Gewurztraminer 2005 wine review by (PB)

My pernnial favorite for Summer time quaffing is this wine with the funny name. It is pronounced Ge-vurts-tra-meen-er and means spicy Traminer which is the grape. It is golden with a ripe, sweet peachy/apricotty bouquet and apples underneath.

In the mouth it is subtly “spritzig” (German for effervescent or bubbly) with nice mouth feel, good acid, good balance and an apricot finish. It is a little lighter than some past years but outstanding as a chilled, quaffing wine or with split pea soup (which I just had for dinner). I recommend this wine and although I see it around for $10-$11, I found it for $7.50 is Boston. Raise a glass of this nice, nice soothing, comfort wine!

Mouton-Cadet 2003 Bordeaux wine review by (PB)

Many years ago when I was just wetting my palate with my first wines Mouton Cadet was a ubiquitous wine found on every restaurant list and on every shelf of every store I went in. That was some 30 years ago. Back then it was a very inexpensive wine running about $5 a bottle in a retail store. Out of sheer inundation by volume I had to try this wine. It was blah, unremarkable, so-so and not worth pursuing. It has been that long since I last tasted this wine.

Then I read a review of this wine by (NW) (see post from 3-21-06) and he gave it a pretty good review for such an inexpensive wine. I decided the next time I saw one I would buy it and I did paying $9 for it in Boston.

It sports the name of the famous Baron Philippe Rothschild which gave me some confidence beyond (NW’s) review (not that any was needed) that the wine had to be fairly decent. It is a Bordeaux blend of grapes from various appellations made from 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc.

It is youthful in appearance with a purple tinge and pleasant color. Bouquet is somewhat closed on opening with dark fruit in the background and a green note. (NW) was smelling all kinds of floral things which I never found and the plum eluded me as well, but...

First taste is bursting with huge black pepper flavors–so much so that it is a little weird... My first thought was, (NW) and I will have to share a bottle of this and review it together because this couldn’t have been what (NW) tasted.

With some breathing time, (half hour at least)the bouquet opens up to a rich blackberry-cherry nose; the pepper eases up quite a bit and turns pretty decent as an inexpensive old world style wine. I wouldn’t buy another one simply because there are so many good wines out there, but this one performed well against our charcoal seared strip steaks. For the price of $9 it was just okay; still think there may have been some bottle variation from this and (NW's). At any rate, raise a glass!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Yellow Tail Shiraz Grenache 2004 Review by (billy)

Eyes: dark deep opaque purple
Nose: big jammy dark fruit with underlayers of cracked pepper, creamy vanilla (just a hint of this though), and black licorice.
Palate: Spicy and dark plumb, decent balance though not expertly balanced. Big fruit, not too tannic and not overdry. The grenache cuts a strong sharp shiraz to produce a more muted blend.
Finish: straberries emerge here probably due to a grenache that has a bit more character than the shiraz and lasts longer.

Make no mistake, this is a wine to be paired with big food, not to be sipped and enjoyed on its own. I am having it with pizza spiked with tobasco. It should be a perfect accompanyment.

Raise a Glass!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Rocking Horse Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 wine review by (PB)

This Garvey Family Vineyard creation yielded a ripe strawberry aromas right on pulling the cork. A eucalyptus nose is nice on the first swirl.

In the mouth on opening this wine is pretty , rich berry red, a little bitter, a bit acidic, a little herbal and a very little candied with a decent finish that is pleasant and definite.

With a half hour of breathing time, the bouquet grows large with 2 layers of fruit; one is fresh like cherries the other is dark berry aromas. The palate is less bitter and growing is splendor with some undertones of subtle chocolate and espresso notes.

This is a well made wine made from this vineyard in Rutherford and is aged for 24 months in French Oak . It is balanced, at its prime, though will hold for a couple-several years perhaps.

I bought this from my wine guy in Freeport, Maine at the Freeport Wine And Cheese Shop. I have had it for perhaps close to a year. I served it with my first time steak (N.Y. Strip) cooked directly on the coals in my new Weber Grill. I HIGHLY recommend this method of cooking steak. It was fabulous and paired with this wine, Ces’t Magnifique! At $30, it was solid and a treat. Raise a glass!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Chateau Clos De Latour 2002 wine review by (PB)

On the trip to Boston to see (NW) we had to stop at Kappy’s, a chain of liquor stores with a substantial wine selection. I grabbed a pair of Bordeaux wines that were priced $11 a piece or two for $20. One of my grabs was this wine from the 02 vintage declared to be a vintage of mixed results but with some pretty fine wines.

This bargain wine is a solid cherry color on the pour with fruity bouquet of dark berries and a nose of sweet fruit (cherries?) In the mouth this wine is balanced, well made, structured, with some nice green pepper notes, firm tannins and old world character. With an hour of breathing (recommended) this wine is lighter in body with subtle chocolate and licorice notes.

If I lived in the Boston area, I would be back to Kappy’s buying a few more bottles of this very nice value wine. My wife loved it and the bottle is empty. So raise a glass of this recommended wine!

Nepenthe Tryst (red) 2004 Review by (Billy)

I reviewed the 2004 though this label says 2002
I tried this at a store sponsored wine tasting. Although the distributor was about a warm as a Minnesota winter and as sour as a week-old uncorked red, the WineStyles store owner/manager was fantastic. Tryst comes from Australia. At a time when all Austrailian low and medium-priced wines seem to be plateauing with a character that is blah Tryst stands out in its originality.

The name comes from the (secret? ilicit? unexpected?) combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo and Zinfandel. What the wine lacks in grace it makes up for in originality and interest. The flavors do not so much blend as they co-mingle. They do not layer so much as cycle. This is not bad either. It is unuaual but that is what makes this wine so interesting and original. The tight Cab is offset by the character and fruitiness of the Zin and the soft vanilla and cream flavors of the Tempranillo.

On the nose it has the peppery spice and warm fruit of the Cab and Zin. On the palate and finish, the Tempranillo really shines. Yet throughout there is a swirling, a tie-dyed interaction of the varietal flavors. That is part of the intriguing and endearing nature of this wine.

At about $16 for a bottle it is inexpensive enough to try a bottle without being put out too much if you don't care for the combination. I had this bottle alone but my hunch is that the palate of flavors would lend itself nicely to nearly anything.

This is a wine that I will be purchasing more of in the (near) future if for no other reason than it is so much fun to drink. There is always something seemingly new in the bottle.

So Raise a glass to interesting combinations and an Australian wine worth going back for!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Root:1 Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Big nose of blackberries and herbs
Smooth palate
Nice finish with toasty vanilla and moderately smooth tannins

This is a round, fruity wine that's very much in the modern-style of winemaking. At $10, it's a good buy. I was actually surprised by it, not expecting much at all. It's really a well-made wine and should be enjoyed when you're in the mood for a good "new world" Cab (in this case, South American). Raise a glass!

Avalon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Nose of berries, cherry, and vanilla, as well as a tad herbal
Plush on the palate
Medium-length finish of toasty oak and vanilla traces, moderate tannins, and with some air blackberry and chocolate notes emerged

Reading my tasting notes, this wine sound amazing. The truth is that it is just okay. Obviously, there is a lot going on in the wine and it delivers some nice layers, but it's really a "get what you pay for" wine and cost a reasonable $14.

I'd give it another try and pair it with other foods. I forget what we were eating at the time, but it was definitely toward the end of the evening and everyone's palate was a little tired. It did seem to breath well, bringing more fruit and depth into the equation. I never detected the anise or licorice that PB found to be emerging, but I pinpointed a lot of other flavors. This was my first experience with this wine, and I'd say it's a decent buy for Napa Valley Cab at $14. Give it a try, and raise a glass!

Chateau Thieuley 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Deep, dark color
Big nose of strawberry fading to smoke and earth
Anise on the palate
Smokey finish

In the affordable Bordeaux category, this one has some interesting characteristics and stands out because of that. With a smokey quality that is different than most, it's worth taking a look at.

I can't say that it's my favorite style, but it is unique and seems to be well made. The store price was $13 on a recent trip to one of the best wine shops in the country- Table & Vine in Northhampton, MA. Their selection of moderately priced wines is endless, including their $10-20 Bordeaux. I see this label in other stores around New England, so it's likely you'll find it in various locations nationally. Raise a glass!

Piper-Heidsieck NV Brut Champagne and Babies wine review by (PB)

So last night we’re waiting around on pins and needles for our last born daughter to give us the eagerly awaited call. It started Saturday morning about 8:00 a.m. Pacific coast time where she lives with our grandson and her husband. She was due May 5th but sure enough she was in labor.

So we waited but not without purpose. I went to the driving range to work out a nasty pull hook that mysteriously appeared with my driver on a recent round of golf.

WARNING–LONG AND BORING DIGRESSION HERE ABOUT MY GOLF GAME. SKIP BRACKETED TEXT IF YOU HATE GOLF. [My game is strange; I have been playing for 13 years now and nothing about my game has ever been normal. From my first day on a course, my driver–typically the most difficult club to hit–was my go-to club; and I was hitting a natural draw–the envy of good golfers everywhere. Then it left instantaneously one day and I was hitting my driver in the fairway about 70% of the time but I was still an above 100 golfer! Finally bringing my round to under 100 and working to an 18 handicap, one day, instantaneously, I couldn’t hit my driver no matter what. And just as mysteriously, it came back only this time with a beautiful and workable fade which I have been diligently working to abolish because I want a straight ball! But last week after my first five rounds of the season hitting driver the best I have ever hit it, mysteriously a pull hook shows up and I have been trying to corr4ct it now for two weeks. (I think I have figured it out...)]

So after the range I dropped in to a local wine store to buy a decent Champagne to celebrate our new grandchild whenever he or she arrived! I grabbed this bottle of Piper-Heidseick because of the reliability of the name. I paid $40 for it which I have to say is the most I have ever spent on a champagne. For some reason, Champagne and other quality sparkling wines just don’t do it for it me. But this was a special occasion.

Finally, close to 10:00p.m. Eastern Daylight Time our new grandson (our 6th grandchild) was born.
The cork was popped and here is the review:

It has a unique bouquet of fruit I can’t identify and a nose full of almonds; really quite nutty!

In the mouth this is dry with solid flavors–one of the most flavorful sparklers I have had--as most seem to taste grapey; not in a good way but in a cheap, sickening way. This was fresh, bright, and formidable with a tartness and good structure that paired well with blue cheese!

The finish of this wine was gentle, nice texture and kept going. Later a creamy sort of aroma emerged in the bouquet with white pepper on the palate. All in all, my wife and I like id but most important, we toasted my new grandson’s arrival in the world. And life is good, so raise a glass!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Turning Leaf Merlot Sonoma Reserve 2003 wine review by (PB)

The Turning Leaf wines I have had in the past were always about the same in quality; basically, ho-hum, to yawn, to yuck. So I was reluctant to try this but Gaiter and Brecher of the Wall Street Journal Friday wine column, listed Turning Leaf’s Merlot (although I am not certain it was this one) as a pretty decent inexpensive Merlot out of the 50 or so they tasted.

I paid $9 for it in Boston. I t has a bouquet that is mostly yeasty on opening with light fruit notes. The pour is medium to light red with a rustic berry nose.

In the mouth it is medium bodied, a bit thin and closed but some cherry notes fighting to emerge. Tannins are pretty nice and all in all fairly well balanced.

With some air, it turns to dark berry fruit, with a tasty, overall solid simple but quality construction. Eventually even some licorice erupts as a welcome addition to this pretty decent Merlot. For the price, I’d raise a glass!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Beaulieu Vineyard Beauzeaux 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Big, rich nose of strawberry, then dried fruit and nuts
Dense, fruity core
Rich finish of chocolate, some licorice, and currants

I was nervous about opening this wine. It thought it might disappoint us, so I even devised a back-up plan to avoid ruining the evening. The in-laws were in town for dinner- PB and his wife. With sophisticated palates, I didn't want to let them down.

Well, the wine was a pleasant surprise and exceeded my expectations! It was really quite good, with lots of layers that came together nicely. The winemaker seems to have some fun with this one, blending Zinfandel, Petite Syrah, Charbono, Syrah, Lagrein, Valdiguie, and Touriga Nacionale.

For such an interesting wine that's well-made, it's fairly priced at $26. I bought it two years ago in Florida and had it cellared at 55 degrees. It's very nice right now and worth picking up if you can find it. Raise a glass!

Paolo Scavino Barolo 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Beautiful earthy red color
Massive nose exploding out of the glass, with cherries, spices, vanilla cream, floral notes, and earth
Smooth velvet core
Endless finish, with lots of layers and a meaty quality

Our good friends treated my wife and I to a bottle of this wine. It is awesome! Scavino is one of the masters of Barolo, which is one of the world's great wines. Made from the Nebbiolo grape, Barolo can age gracefully with a long, smooth finish like liquid velvet. The great Barolo masters rank among the world's best artisanal winemakers, and command release prices from $40 to $400 per bottle.

On the price spectrum, this particular wine is a bargain. For $50, you can get a Barolo experience comparable to the most elite wines that go for hundreds. This isn't the case every year, but Scavino pulled it off in 2001. Most other wines from this winery go for $100-225.

For a special occasion, this wine will deliver the goods. If you serve it with meat dishes, rich sauces, or very fragrant food, you just might fall in love. With a little extra spending money, buy two bottles and cellar the other for as long as you want. Just don't miss the opportunity to taste a wine like this now, while it's readily available around the world and capable of being enjoyed in its youth. Raise a glass!

Finca Antigua Crianza 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Lots of layers on the nose: buttered popcorn, toasty oak, vanilla, and some distant cherry
Watery texture, not very plush
Cherry and spice on the palate and finish

I've been sampling a fair number of bargain Spanish wines lately. This one has a lot of flavors and interesting layers, but it's a little disjointed. Party due to the watery texture, the wine seems to have an abundant nose but a weak core.

I paid $13 for this bottle at an excellent wine store. The Spanish section is huge and there are better bargains to be found, I'm sure. Raise a glass of Spanish wine!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Beaulieu Vineyards “Beauzeaux” 2001 wine review by (PB)

Patriot’s Day in New England was a beautiful day and spending it at the home of our daughter and son-in-law and grandson was only made better by another great dinner by my daughter. She takes “stuff” out of the fridge and makes exciting appetizers out of it while (NW) wades through his cellar searching for the right pairing of whatever it is we are having.

After artichokes and roasted peppers and other cool “stuff” we sat to dine over grilled steak, grilled tuna and a mushroom risotto. This B.V. red was wonderful. It was gorgeous in color with a jeweled like garnet hue. The bouquet is full of cherries and dried cherries—interesting!

It is big in the mouth with fruit forward immensity full of fresh cherries and dried cherries, black berries and a hint of blueberries—holy cow, and this is without breathing it yet…

This wine is a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Charbono, Syrah, Lagrein, Valdiguie and Touriga Nacionale. I had this wine and reviewed it here June 27, 2005. Go back and read that review to see how wines can change!

After ten minutes of air, licorice notes are coming out with a little chocolate, and a little cinnamon. (NW) paid $26 for this and my comment on tape was “Wow!”

Now what is interesting is that I had the same basic review back in June of 05 as far as the raw elements of the wine but it just didn’t come together in that review. But 10 months later, this wine is wonderful. Maybe my previous review was what some tasters refer to as the “dumb” phase some wines go through. It’s kind of an in between transition of going from a young wine to a mature wine; kind of adolescents when you want to lock your teens away in their room for a couple years. But oh, how they blossom!

Great time, great evening, and a great wine—raise a glass—oh yeah!

Solomon Undhof Hochterrassen 2004 Gruner Veltliner wine review by (PB)

This nearly clear wine was served to me blind by (NW) as we blew into town on a quick trip for a Monday Patriot’s Day. (This is a holiday observed only by Maine and Masaachusetts)

It has a fresh bouquet of citrus, and slight peach with white pepper on the palate that is pronounced. Finish is short and pleasant enough but the wine is straight forward and lacking pizzazz. I guessed it to be “a cheap Chenin Blanc or a cheap Chardonnay.”

(NW) and his wife seemed a bit crestfallen with my guess. (I was worried that I may had just dissed some expensive Burgundy but it was this $12 Austrian wine made from the Gruner Veltliner grape. My daughter said she thought it was my favorite—she was confused thinking of Gewurtztraminer.

This grape is the key grape of Austrian wine and I myself have had only 3 or 4 wines in 30 years of this type. All in all, I thought my guess was pretty good.

If unique is what you seek, this wine is okay but that’s up to you! It was fun raising an unknown glass!

Drylands Sauvignon Blanc 2004 wine review by (PB)

This New Zealand white from the Marlborough region is classic Sauvignon Blanc with super grassy bouquet of tropical fruit, pineapple, and Lychee. (I’m kidding about the lychee; I wouldn’t know one if it bit me!)

It is rich with nice acid and full on the palate with a creamy finish. This is a nice wine that reminds my of my favorite (Monkey Bay S. Blanc). This wine is $12 and another nice wine from New Zealand. Raise a glass.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Beringer Chenin Blanc 2004 Premier Vintage Selection Wine review by (PB)

This previously reviewed wine is brimming with fresh aromas of pineapple and citrus with light peach nose. In the mouth it is solidly balanced with good acid, slightly sweet and a good value at $6. Raise a glass!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Santa Alicia Reserve Carmenere 2003 Review by (billy)

Eyes: deep and thick purple
Nose: hefty jammy dark fruit: plumb and black cherry. Tobacco. Vanilla.
Palate: soft and pleasantly balanced. Not too tannic or acidic. Not as beefy as the thick jammy nose would suggest which is nice. Round mouth feel though a bit concave near the back of the palate. Wonderful flavors of vanilla and black cherry burst.
Finish: lingering black cherry with tobacco and an almost-but-not-quite silky taper.

I paid $9.99 for this at Wine Styles though I have seen it advertised for as little as $6. At this price you really cannot go wrong. This Carmenere comes from the Maipo Valley in Chile. As a Chilean wine, it has a very nice structure and flavor for the price. It is a solid red meat, stew, or hearty vegetarian meal accompanyment.

I am not that familiar iwth the Carmenere varietal so I have no idea how this particular wine would age but I believe that it is probably best drunk now. Some more research bears this out. You can read about it HERE. Carmenere is not a very popular varietal because of its inability to produce "distingusihing" wines. Well, I can say that this was a fine solid drinking wine with some really nice black cherry and vanilla notes. Without much to compare it to in my personal experience, I still label it as a wine to which I Raise a Glass!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Pinot Evil Pinot Noir wine review by (PB)

Sorry but I just can’t stand stupid names (or labels) for wines. This has two strikes against it on both counts. And while you might think this wine must be an American or Aussie creation by the failed and tacky attempt at creative marketing, it is actually French. This wine is a Vin De Pays de I’lle de Beaune, is a pretty color and has a fairly strong bouquet which reminds me of Gamay with strawberry notes. But in the mouth this wine is–and I am not exaggerating–chokingly dry. At the rear of my palate I thought someone had just slit my throat and placed a rosin bag there.

The wine is shallow all the way around with not to much commend it. I don’t know what it cost as I it was brought to my house for Easter dinner. This was NOT the wine the risen Savior made from water...Avoid it and raise a glass of something nice–quickly to get rid of the memory...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Rice Wine, Snake Wine, and the Mekong Delta (NW)

My wife and I just returned from a trip to Hong Kong and Vietnam. It was a fantastic experience and we really enjoyed, in particular, the Vietnamese culture. While touring southern Vietnam and the Mekong Delta area, we had the chance to taste our first wines of the trip. Well, I'm using the term wine liberally. This stuff was moonshine; quality moonshine, though, of which the Vietnamese living in remote fishing villages and orchards seem to produce tons.

Several times, we were offered tiny thimble-sized shot glasses from which we'd sip on various rice wines and other digestives that had a little kick and burn. No Riedel stemware here, just the thimbles. And the wine was poured either from clay jugs or small plastic (former) water bottles. Some had lemony-citrus notes, some were like strong cola, and others had a smooth Scotch-like quality. For the most part, they were delicious in very small quantities.

Obviously, they produce a wide variety of wine and fortified wine. But the star of the show was the snake wine. These wines are poured from glass jars that have a spigot at the bottom, similar to how iced tea is stored and served. Inside the glass jar, a medium-sized python or cobra is coiled up tightly, soaking in the wine. It looks like a snake in formaldehyde from the science museums I remember as a kid. The wine comes out orange in color and is taken once or twice daily in very small quantities as a medicinal wine to fend of illness.

Wow! A very different approach to wine from my daily routine of choosing red or white. It was fascinating to see how this is part of the culture in the Mekong Delta. I highly recommend a trip there and will be assimilating my experiences for a long time to come. Raise a glass!

J.B.M. Sorrel "Le Vignon" Hermitage 2000 Wine Review (NW)

Fragrant nose
Silky, juicy palate and nice overall texture
Sour cherry finish

This wine has really nice texture, but is a little odd. It doesn't seem to all come together. Not only is it somewhat disjointed, the sour finish never developed any richness. This is not a ripe style of wine, of course, and maybe it could benefit from more bottle age. Fortunately, this was not on my dollar as we paid $100 for the bottle at a nice bistro. Hermitage is generally world-class wine, but this one is hard for me to figure out. If you're not paying, raise a glass!

Babich Sauvignon Blanc 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Grapefruit and grassy nose
Crisp citrus core
Tart, sharp finish

In a way, this wine is almost too tart due to the sharp finish. Otherwise, it has some of the initial characteristics of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that I've grown to enjoy so much.

This wine costs approximately $12 in the store. In a head to head contest with other $10-12 wines in this same category, I would chose several favorites over this like Monkey Bay. But it's worth a look if you want to find a refreshing Spring wine. Raise a glass!

Note-You can check(PB's)review of the same wine posted March 26.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wishing Tree Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2004 wine review by (PB)

This is yet another in a long line of Aussie blends that have flooded the American wine market with mediocre wines.

This previously reviewed wine is a medium garnet in color with a bouquet that is fairly mild especially for these two grapes. It has some green notes while the nose is oaky and green peppery yet only mildly.

In the mouth this wine is shallow, very dry and although there is nothing offensive or overtly wrong, it is just plain unremarkable. The finish is the same though a little tannic.

Now let’s be fair; this was a $9 wine and in this case, you get what you pay for. It is what you would expect get for the price. But today’s wine market is so glutted, that even at this price point, you can find many, many much better–even remarkable-wines for the same price. So hunt around and raise a glass!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

C.C. Brunello Di Montalcino 1999 wine review by (PB)

This Tuscan gem comes from the hailed vintage of 99 which was given a 97 rating. This wine in particular was given a 90 by The Wine Spectator. I paid $20 for it with a reference price of $40. Now I just wish I could remember where I bought it; possibly Sam’s Club...

This 100% Sangiovese is medium to light garnet on the pour with a wonderful bouquet of big fat berries and light red cherries. The nose is really nice full of cola and root beer notes.

In th mouth, even on opening it is nicely balanced with a good feel with black pepper and rich tannins that are still immature leaving a chewy finish. I’ll breathe it a while.

With air (give it two hours at least) this wine turns nearly elegant with harmonious flavors and aromas all blending together in one unified, balanced delight. It finishes nicely. If I can find more of this, I’m buying whatever I can find! Raise a glass this wonderful–bargain--classic.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Marques Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon 2001 wine review by (PB)

This Chilean was one of the first wines from Chile that absolutely won me over to Chile’s wine making prowess. This one was superb when I first reviewed it a couple years ago. I laid one away to put a couple more years on it; this was the wine.

It has a bouquet of berries and spice with room filling aromas; the nose is fruit and oak.

In the mouth it is still tight and age worthy and yet...there is an off flavor/aroma which smells/tastes like “Brett.” (Brett is short for Brettanomyces which is a fungal contaminant.) This is hugely disappointing! Other than that, it had so much potential and while I cannot be sure it is Brett, it is off enough to where I don’t want to finish the bottle. My suggestion–if you have any of this year laying down; open one and see what you think. What else can you do? Raise a glass!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Hogue Merlot 2005 wine review by (PB)

This was another one of Gaiter and Brecher’s wines listed from their review of Merlot’s under $20. It is a Columbia Valley (Washington State) wine and has a fruity bouquet but is simple with a yeasty backbone and the nose is full of cherries and steel.

The palate is coated with baked bread, it is nicely made and well balanced with nice tannins and a finish that is again pretty straight forward. My first writing said “This is a typical Hogue wine—solid but not remarkable.” I remember thinking, “This seems odd to be a Gaiter/Brecher selection; it seems so ordinary. Silly me!

With some breathing the wine opens up to a nice foundation of chocolate and berries with a solidly made structure. It is a little chewy but more interesting than I first thought with a decent finish of fruit that lingers a bit. All in all I liked it and at $11, it is a decent value. But at this price point, it doesn’t come close to the previously reviewed Coppolla Merlot for $14. Raise a glass!

Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 wine review by (PB)

This inexpensive Cab. brought by (NW) was opened after dinner just to see what it was like since he bought it “blind.”

It is cherry red with a nice bouquet with some chocolate hints, blackberry and bramble flavors with a slight dill and anise note.

In the mouth this wine’s first impression was uniquely sour at the very rear palate and yet it wasn’t “sour.” *Hard to describe. (*it is possible that I was in the sub-clinical stage of a naso-pharyngeal infection which manifested a few days later and this may have messed up my taster!)

The wine on opening is tight and a little awkward. With some air the bouquet is changing to a more wild aroma and the palate is getting somewhat bitter? (Again see * above) Licorice and chocolate returns in the bouquet. This has a wild rustic sort of mid-palate with solid fruit and a little stone and tannins that could use another a year or so. All in all I liked it. I guessed a reference point of $14 for this bottle and (NW) confirmed that is exactly what it cost.

Why am I leaving this posted even though it may be continue erroneous due to an impending cold? Because (NW) will also post his review when he gets back in the country and then we can all see if my review was accurate or completely invalid due to an infection. Raise a glass—but not with a cold!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Napa Valley review by (billy)

Well it is hard to review a wine when you buy it buy the glass. But I could not down an entire bottle whilst alone on a business trip. So here we go.

I paid $7.25 for this glass of wine in a restaurant in Alaska. I have to say, it was served a bit warm and in a terrible glass - a shallow bowl with "pretty" ridges all around. Blech.

Nose: minerals, black pepper, dark berries. Less big fruit than I would have expected. Nice and more sophisticated nose than I would have expected for the price.

Palate: thick and dry with black pepper and plumb hints. Not badly balanced. Not expertly balanced.

Nose: pulpy dark fruit: plumb, pluot, black and red raspberry make the biggest fruit appearance. Longish finish without turning vegetal.

Overall this is a fine "by the glass" cab. It is a touch more sophisticated than the price point may suggest making it a decent value wine. While the mouth feel is just a passage between a nice nose and nicer finish, the wine overall rates in the "don't shy away from it but don't kill yourself looking for it" area.

Raise a Glass!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Pear and a touch of lemon on the nose, along with a slight buttery hint
Lightly creamy texture on the palate, but with a good backbone and acidity
Graceful finish, oak accents, and some lingering cream

This Chardonnay does a nice balancing act. It is neither the ultra-crisp, unoaked style, nor the big, creamy, buttery style. It lands somewhere in between, but brings the best qualities from both ends of the spectrum. I respect that and think this wine is well-made.

Of course, its intended purpose is to be a cut above the regular KJ Chardonnay that is on every shelf in America. While it achieves that, it's obviously more expensive at approximately $18. I think it's worth the extra money, but that doesn't necessarily make it a great value. It's a well-made wine at a fair price. Raise a glass!

E. Guigal Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Light brick red color
Fragrant, soft fruit nose slow to emerge with cherry and plum
Old world style, with well-structured core and a smooth palate
Lingering finish with a touch of pepper

I'm not sure I saw this wine evolve fully because I rushed through it at a business dinner. It definitely took some time to open up. With an old-world elegance and a refined composition, the fruit was slow to emerge in the glass. Some of the others at the table didn't care for this wine. I think it was too much of a departure from their standard fruit-forward wines.

For an accurate picture of this wine, I'd have to try it again. In some ways, Chateauneuf-du-Pape can be an acquired taste. And at $70 in the restaurant, this one wasn't cheap. Raise a glass!

Dolceoro Moscato D'Asti 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Large, irregular bubbles
Nice floral and lightly fruity nose
Round and smooth core
Graceful finish

I found this wine on sale for $7, so I loaded up with a few bottles. This Moscato D'Asti is a real treat either before a meal with finger food or after a meal with dessert. It is light, sweet, and bubbly- which can make any occasion seem extra special. While not the best Moscato D'Asti, it's one of the least expensive that still seems well made. Raise a glass!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Renee Barbier Catalunya wine review by (PB)

Sometimes buying a really cheap wine will surprise you...not this time though.

My wife bought this $5 and some change wine to use in a seafood soup recipe. I thought for kicks I would review it. It actually has a pretty nice and very strong nose of tropical fruit. It would be better used as perfume though than to drink.
In the mouth this pale straw Spanish white is dull, flat, lifeless, a little bitter and puckery and just blah all the way around. Finish is yucky–that’s a technical wine term for, uh, “yucky.”

The worst part about this wine is that some people will buy it because it is cheap and will think this is what white wine tastes like. No! Don’t do it! This will be okay to cook with but even there you need to be careful; never use wine you have had stored for weeks even to cook with. Rule of thumb is, "If you wouldn't drink it, don't cook with it!"

Buy a bottle of real wine to drink and you don’t have to spend much more than what this one cost; you just need to know what you are buying; which is why you have us! :)

Raise a glass--of something nice like a Gewurztraminer from Fetzer!

Chateau Plaisance 2000 wine review by (PB)

I tasted this wine back in January of 2005 (check out that entry for comparison) and liked it enough to buy another bottle and lay it down for another year. Big Mistake! This was a big disappointment. The nose is now vegetal with immense green pepper nose–not pleasing at all–there is a little dill and black pepper underneath.

In the mouth this wine is austere, tight and chewy, and bitter. I wrote, “Not a nice wine!”

So there ya go; I put this wine down being from the fabled vintage of 2000 and even though it is only a “Premiere Cotes De Bordeaux, it should have done better than it did. Oh well, that is the world of inexpensive wine (this was $18 on sale for $13) which again only underscores that most wines are meant to be consumed young. Raise a glass of something else.