Tuesday, June 27, 2006

“Brouilly” Beaujolais Cru 2003 wine review by (PB)

First, a primer on Beaujolais--
Beaujolais is a region in France where the soil is granitic and the wine is made from the Gamay grape. Gamay is a grape that yields basically, straight forward, uncomplicated wines which are meant to be drunk early (meaning age of the wine not the time of
day …)

(Beaujolais Nouveau is a class all by itself and for more information on this annual celebration, see the post on this site about Nouveau wine.)

Beaujolais wines have various designations on their label which, correlates fairly well to their level of quality and price as a rule of thumb.

The first level, and generally least costly and least complex, have wines labeled simply “Beaujolais.” These are wines made from grapes (Gamay) gathered from all over the region. These tend to run about $6 a bottle.

The second level would say “Beaujolais Villages” on the label and would cost a little more. ($8 a bottle) These wines are made from Gamay grapes gathered within the selected regions of the “Villages” hence tend toward a more uniform and higher quality.

The best Beaujolais are the “Cru” which means “growth” of which there are ten “Cru.” They are: Brouilly, Côte-de-Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Saint Amour, and Régnié.

These are wines which have a decent tannic foundation, tend to be quite fruity and acidic and can even show some complexity and can hold their age, depending on the vintage, as long as 5 years, sometimes even longer. They usually run around $12-$18 a bottle.

It is has been many years since I had a Beaujolais Cru wine.
The Review--
This one is fairly dark in the glass with a bouquet of cherries and strawberries and reminds me of the Grenache grape as well. In the mouth it is light bodied, and first impression is of candy which quickly leaves showing its tannic base which is considerable. It is also fairly acidic but well balanced with gentle hints of fruit more complex than say, Beaujolais Nouveau.

The bottle went quickly and paired well with my homemade seafood ravioli which I made for my best babe’s birthday. Now I wonder why I have stayed away from these wines so long. Put a slight chill on these wines and be prepared to drink more than what you normally might due to the fresh and light and easy quaffability of these wines. I paid $13 for this wine which was a fine value.

So raise a glass and enjoy!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Friday, June 23, 2006

Chateau La Baume 2004 wine review by (PB)

This Rhone wine comes from the appellation called Costieres De Nimes, an area known for its soil comprised of nice round pebbles. When I first swirled this on after pouring I said, “Grenache,” “Syrah” and “something?” Sure enough this blend form the southern east bottom of France is made from 25% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and the “something” I couldn’t tag was Carignane which is half the wine’s volume.

It has a “Grenache” nose of light fruit and a hint of strawberries which reminds me of the Gamay grape. It is quite dry, straightforward and pleasantly fruity. Like so many of the wines of the Languedoc-Rousillon, this is well made and a solid value. I found it at the Freeport Wine and Cheese Shop in Freeport, Maine.

This would be a fine wine to put a bit of a chill on, throw it in a basket with some fresh bread and a lump of good cheese; find a nice scenic spot, throw down a blanket and revel in life. Raise a glass!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Carmen Carmenere 2003 wine review by (PB)

This Chilean red from the Rapel Valley is dark and inky in color looking more like a Shiraz than a Carmenere (pronounced--Kar-men-YAIR) but on the pour it is gargantuan with blackberry and eucalyptus aromas all laying on a deep bed of green herbal leaves.

In the mouth it is better than I would have predicted by the bouquet with a touch of vanilla and strong eucalyptus flavors again -–almost too much but somewhat intriguing. This wine is tightly wound with a good foundation of tannins but too firm at the moment and it is a bit "hot" (meaning, alcoholic). Note--the purpose of breathing a red wine is that often times, allowing the wine to be exposed to air for a half hour or so will cause these strong harsh tendencies to mellow out; but not always...

With some air, the tannins relax and this wine is all eucalyptus and blackberries–if this is terroir, this wine would be readily identifiable by even an amateur. It is distinctive but the eucalyptus is just too much! Still, I have to say, I kind of liked it! Raise a glass.

Canella Prosecco Di Conegliano N.V. Wine review by (PB)

This sparkler is a nice find at $11. This Wine Enthusiast “Best Buy” was given 89 points and it earns it. This Italian delight is very light in color with a subtle lemon and cream nose. It is well made with a perfect balance of dry and sweet but very subtle and nice all the way around. I am not a huge fan of any sparkling wines–go figure, but this one has my attention and I loved it.

Shoot, even Matt Kramer of the Wine Spectator was enticed to move to Venice in 2003 just because of a Prosecco that was served to him one afternoon at a lovely osteria; and he could hardly stand Prosecco!

Chill this baby well and sit back and quaff it with a good book, a gentle breeze, and the love of your life at your side. Doesn’t get much better! Raise a glass.

Domaine De La Batardiere 2004 wine review by (PB)

This wine made from the Muscadet grape, is also known as Melon de Bourgogne.
These wines come from the southern region of the Loire Valley and this one’s label tells us which of the three appellations (or regions) this one comes from. “Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie” named for two rivers in the area. Unlike most French nomenclature, the region is named after the grape “Muscadet” rather than a town or some such thing as is the norm. It is a widely planted grape with over 32,000acres yielding around 17 million gallons per year.

The other two regions or appellations are Muscadet Coteaux de Loire and Muscadet Cotes de Grandlieu.

This wine cost me $7.50 which was a great surprise after tasting it. It is light straw in color with a gentle yet definite bouquet that is sweet full of summer fruit. The nose is baffling in a good way. It is at first full of lime and lemon but then no, maybe grapefruit(?) er, uh, no it’s peach. It smells like none of them and then again all of them. Maybe it’s “stone fruit!” (Kidding—I wouldn’t know a stone fruit if someone threw one at me.) Like I said, baffling but very nice!

In the mouth this is just plain wonderful; simple and yet not at all sweet as the bouquet would lead you to believe. It is marvelously acidic which makes it fresh and great with food. (We had it with King crab leg appetizers and bruschetta on our porch enjoying the Summer warmth. Ahhhhhh…)

In a moment later, the mid palate is brimming with—I kid you not—peanuts! It’s wild and I love it! The finish is tight but pleasant. Viva La French wine! This one makes my recommendation list! Chill it a bit and then raise a glass!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Berries on the nose
Medium-weight and fruity on the palate
Herbal finish, somewhat faint and dull

I like when Cabernet Sauvignon is big and dense, and this one isn't quite there. However, it's still drinkable and pairs well with hearty food. I had a glass recently at Ben Benson's steakhouse in NYC and paid $11. I've seen the wine sell for around $17 in stores. Raise a glass!

What do YOU think?

Help us Out! When you happen to take one of our recommendations, let us know what you thought of the wine! And if you have had any of the wines that you find reviewed, let us know what YOU thought. Just click on the comments link below!
Thanks, (PB)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wine Terms confusing? (PB)

This review contains an explanation of terms since it has been a while since I have explained “my” wine terminology. If our language is unintelligible to the masses, we have not accomplished what the Wine Cask blog is all about; namely to enrich your wine appreciation experience no matter what your level of expertise (or lack thereof).

*The term varietal is the name of the specific grape used in the particular wine. A “varietal” wine will be made from one specific grape primarily as opposed to a “blend” of several types in a mash of juice. A “varietal” wine will have the name of the grape of on the label. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, are all varietals, to name only a few.

Whether a wine is a “varietal” or not is regulated by law which varies on the particular locale. In other words a wine from one region or country or region may only be required to have 55% of the grape which is named on the label and the rest is some other type of grapes(s). But a different region or locale may require 75% of the named grape in order to put it’s name on the label.

*The “nose” of a wine, at least in my terminology and use, is the smell of the wine when you get nose right down into the glass after swirling the wine. Swirling the wine isn’t just for show; it causes the wine to volatilize and release little particles of “smell” into the air. Swirling helps you smell the wine better!

*The “Bouquet” is the smell of the wine from a bit of a distance from the glass. This is not a universal way of using these terms; they are mine. I use them because most wines smell quite different from just above the glass versus sticking your nose right down into the glass. Each provides you different aromas hence a better description of what’s in the glass.

*The palate is the mouth where the wine is “tasted.” Proper technique requires an ample amount of wine to be taken into the mouth allowing it slosh over every part of the tongue and oral cavity. While still holding the wine in your mouth, purse you r lips and carefully slurp some air into your mouth gurgling it through the wine you are holding. This does for the taste what swirling does for smelling! Once you have done this you can either swallow the wine—the best part—or spit the wine out if you are tasting a lot of wine or driving somewhere afterwards. Remember—the more wine you “taste” and swallow, the less discriminating your abilities become…both in tasting and driving!

After you have swallowed or spit, now taste the flavors and textures left behind. Do they last a while or are they gone immediately? This is called the *“finish.” A nice finish will keep imparting flavors, perhaps even new flavors you hadn’t tasted before swallowing and will go on and on. Some just seem to stop with no ending at all.

Tannins are chemical complexes in wine that comes from the skins and or the process of fermentation/aging if done in wood barrels or with wood chips. If you bite just a grape skin, you will get a puckery, drying sensation like water is being pulled out of your mouth. Those are tannins and they are “good” when they are in balance. It is tannins which enable a good wine to age. Young wines will sometimes be overly tannic because they require time to relax chemically. This is why certain wines are best to be aged sometimes for many years but most wines, the vast majority of wines produced are meant to be drunk in the first couple years in which they are made.

The structure of the wine is the overall composition and balance between all the various elements you taste and smell. Ideally, everything should harmonize into one beautiful experience.

This is not a comprehensive guide to tasting. I haven’t talked about a wine being “hot” or sour, flat, or fresh, flabby or vibrant but this is enough for today.

Wine is more than just tasting, it is a whole experience, and a wonderful one at that; why do you think Jesus turned water in to wine as the first miracle of His public ministry?

Now just what kind of wine would the Creator of the world have made?

Firestone Merlot 2002 wine review by (PB)

This burgundy red (a color in this case not a region) varietal from the Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara/central coast Ca.)is filling the room with fruit aromas that are full of blueberry, and black cherries punctuated by a mocha nose.

In the mouth, on opening this wine is rich in flavor of toast with dark fruit galore. It has a tannic structure that is stout yet finessed. The finish holds well. With a few minutes of air, there is not a substantial difference; just fruit forward intensity to accompany a robust meal of grilled beef. (Even though I killed two Delmonico steaks this meal by putting them on the coals prematurely—think lighter fluid marinade—the wine was nice and was good with the tortellini with sage butter side.

This was another Gaiter/Brecher wine from one of their Friday columns in the Wall Street Journal. Their column is worth the price of the paper. We, at the wine cask blog are Gaiter/Brecher devotees; their column is straight forward, down to earth, accurate and helpful. From wines I have reviewed which they suggested, I don’t think I have ever found any of their wine reviews wanting. Anyway, the column was on inexpensive Merlots (under $20) and this was one of the favorites.

So, raise a glass, and, oh yeah, this wine ran me $17. A fair price to be sure.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Zuccardi Q Tempranillo 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Big bouquet of berries and vanilla on the nose
Smooth and round core
Soft, luxurious finish with raisin notes

I was surprised to find that this wine is from Argentina. I don't know how much Tempranillo is being planted in Argentina, but it seems to have potential. This wine is rich and smooth with a nice finish, and is full-bodied. As I understand it, Familia Zuccardi has been making this wine since at least 1998 and it's been steadily improving ever since. Look to spend around $20 if you can find it. Raise a glass!

Casa LaPostolle Sauvignon Blanc 2004 wine review by (PB)

I brought this bottle up from the cellar somehow thinking it was a Chardonnay. As I was smelling the bouquet I thought, wow, I like this bouquet but this smells like a S. Blanc. Duh; it was! Don’t know where my head was...

I have very little experience with Chilean whites. Casa LaPostolle makes some really fine reds (Think Michele Rolland!) so I was looking forward to this, "table wine" level creation.

This Chilean white is a light golden in color, has a wonderful bouquet of peaches with a cream background and cantaloupe aromas; it also has the classic Sauvignon Blanc “grassy” aroma. Very nice.

In the mouth it is quite acidic, and a little bit of whack but not terribly so. It is actually full of flavor and perky with a lasting cream, fruit finish. This is a powerful wine, be careful what you pair it with. For $7, it was a decent wine. Raise a glass!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Eos Late Harvest Moscato 2003 “Tears of Dew” wine review by (PB)

This shimmering dessert wine comes in a 350ml bottle and hales from the famed Paso Robles region of California wine country. Late Harvest wines are made from grapes that are left on the vines well beyond normal harvesting schedules so that the grapes will begin turning to raisins which concentrates the sugars. (This also helps you understand why these tend to be rather pricey—imagine how much juice you get out of a raisin!)

If weather conditions are just right, the grapes may be infected a mold called Botrytis Cinerea which sends its little moldy tentacles—called hyphae—into the grape sucking its water out thus super concentrating the residual sugar that remains.

Consequently you get (ideally) a very powerfully sweet, rich wine with a distinctive flavor if infected with the mold. The great French Sauternes are of this variety.

This Moscato is a deep golden, nearly orange tinted pour with wonderful aromas of honey, pears and peaches with a rich creamy smelling bouquet with a touch of butterscotch and crème brulee and pears on the nose. WOW!

In the mouth it is sensuous with a thick pear and peach flavor and luscious thick finish which just keeps going full of fruit and cream. This wine was only $20.

Now having talked to with many people over the years I get a typical response of, “I don’t like sweet wine.” And what they usually mean is they don’t like cheap white, overly sweet wines that do not have enough of an acidic foundation to carry the sweetness. When this happens, you get a wine that is sickeningly sweet. The wine term for this is “cloying.”

This wine, and high quality dessert wines, have sufficient acid which makes the intense sweetness absolutely delightful. Raise a glass as we did overlooking beautiful Camden Harbor on the Coast of Maine. Even the dark skies and the incessant rain couldn’t dampen the wonder of this well made wine!

Bollini Pinot Grigio 2004 wine review by (PB)

Pinot Grigio’s are gaining in popularity and tend be a pretty nice Summer wine that goes well with a variety of snacks, cheeses and foods. They are simple wines but refreshing and quaffable at their best. (They can be dull and lifeless at their worst.) This is one of the nicer ones which is why it cost $12. You can find a bunch around $7 but you tend to get what you pay for.

This Italian white is fresh and crisp on a light straw pour. The bouquet is slightly pearish with a sweet nose and chalky aromas. This wine is made from grapes raised on the dolomite soils of Trentino.

The palate is quite full with fresh hints of citrusy flavors with minerals and solid structure to make this a good food wine.

We paired it with a seafood pasta I whipped up and sautéed green beans. It was nice all the way around. Raise a glass!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Rocca Delle Macie 2001 Chianti Classico Riserva Wine review by (PB)

This Tuscan is a medium garnet on the pour with wild cherry accents over a rich berry bouquet.

It has some herbal notes and a little earth.

In the mouth it is lush and full–wow! There are some baked bread flavors near the rear palate and a subtle hint of licorice.

This wine is 90 Sangiovese–the classic Tuscan grape blended with 5% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It finishes well with rich tannins and fruit.

With a little time to open up, this nice wine just grows even nicer. Black pepper looms with a steely Sangiovese nose. Another layer of dried raspberries emerge with more bread and lip smacking tannins with a touch of cocoa–really NICE!

With a little more breathing, there is another layer of candy and in the mouth this wine jjust bursts with rich flavors; very nice and full of berries. It just keeps opening but now it’s gone!

I bought this wine on sale for $13 down from $16! It was the last bottle in the store and I bought it because 2001 was a great year for Tuscany and a Chianti Classico which is aged for two years in oak, is a bargain at this price. I took a chance and it paid off HUGE! This is an amazing wine and if I were rating this on a 100 point scale it would easily make a 93, maybe even higher!

If we were allowed to buy wine on line in this state, I assure you I would be buying it now at considerably higher prices. This is a remarkable wine. If you can find it, BUY it! It has been a long time since I put a wine on our recommended list; this will certainly be there! Raise a bottle!

Barefoot Zinfandel N.V. Wine review by (PB)

This blend of Zinfandel grapes from various regions was purchased because of a magazine recommendation (Food and Wine?).

It cost $8 and has some nice blackberry and raspberry aromas on the bouquet. It is fairly well balanced and has nice dried raspberry notes on the palate. It isn’t “spicy” like many Zins but it is tasty. My wife liked it more than I did.

For the price it is decent. Raise a glass.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Masciarelli 2002 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo wine review by (PB)

This is a lighter ruby with a touch of candy cherry on a light bouquet with a very herbal (Daffodil) nose.

It is sweeter in the mouth than I would have thought but it is not sweet. There is a note of alcohol, it is dry, a hint of chocolate and it is hot. It finishes thin and harsh.

With some air time though, all things tone down and there is a nice hint of cinnamon in the bouquet. A layer of dried fruit comes up after breathing. It finishes short. For the price of this wine--$6– I like it! It has a lot to commend it at this price so take advantage of these super inexpensive wines that are more than one dimensional. Raise a glass!

Falesco Vitiano Umbria 2004 wine review by (PB)

This wine is medium garnet on the pour with a nice berry bouquet with a hint of cranberry on the nose.

In the mouth this wine has a decent tannic base which will ease with some breathing; it is pretty tight on opening.

With a few minutes of air, dried fruit emerges and the bouquet intensifies. On the palate, dried fruit abounds and is a well made wine. With food, it holds up well with BBQ even with a big spice of Emeril’s essence. This is a good solid wine and at $11 it is a sold value.

But the Wine Spectator gives this wine a stunning 90 points on their 100 point scale. I rarely disagree with the folks at W.S. but this wine, as it stands is NOT a 90 point wine. I would give it an 85. But I have one other bottle of this wine and it will be interesting to see how it fairs when I get around to drinking and reviewing it. At any rate, raise a glass–to our 3rd week of rain here in Maine.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Paitin Langhe 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Beautiful blackberry jam color
Awesome nose of strawberry jam, candied cherry, and spice, with hints of earth and licorice
Dense core with black currant flavors
Very strong tannins at first, which softened somewhat with decanting

Interestingly, this is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Made in the land of Barbera and Nebbiolo, I was surprised to see this indication on the label. Apparently, in some years, the winery blends these three grapes to make this wine. It's not cheap at $28, but it has class. While completey Cabernet Sauvignon, it still has something about it that feels Italian.

The flavors are big and bold, but that tannins have enough bite to make me pucker. Even with the decanting, it never really mellowed out. Maybe some time in the cellar will help. Raise a glass!

Villa Tonino Nero D'Avola 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Nose of buttered popcorn with faint cherry and strawberry
Palate is light in smooth
Clean finish, but not complex

While not in the style I prefer, this wine is interesting. It goes down easily, but lacks any real depth. The nose seems an odd mix of aromas, but it somehow melds together well enough. Approximately $9. Raise a glass!

Costers del Siurana Miserere Priorat 1994 Wine Review (NW)

Nose of cherry, butterscotch, and white chocolate
Smooth palate
Dry, smooth finish, with some floral and fruity notes

I expected a dry, smooth wine, but this was very dry and very smooth. It revealed its layers slowly and emerged with a nice bouquet given some time. The wine was nice and the food paring was amazing. We had Spanish steaks with chimichurri sauce, which provided a good enough excuse to extract this bottle from the cellar and give it some air. I paid $29 for the wine last year at a shop with an excellent Spanish selection and a number of Priorats. Raise a glass!

Excelsior Paddock Shiraz 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Fruity nose of blackberries, currants, and mocha
Juicy core
Berry and chocolate finish, round and smooth

This is a simple, fruity wine. If you like the robust flavors of dark fruit and mocha, you'll probably enjoy this wine. It's also extremely round and smooth. A lot of people are familiar with their Cabernet Sauvignon which has some similiar expressions but also an odd, plastic taste. For 2004, this Shiraz is the better of the two wines. I paid a bargain price of $7. Raise a glass!