Sunday, September 30, 2007

Montpezat "Les Enclos" 'Merlot Prestige' 2003

This Languedoc wine dark and rich looking with dark rich bouquet of fresh grapes with a nose that is almost inky with sweet notes of cedar--unique!

In the mouth though--on opening--the wine is too tart with bready flavors and puckery tannins with tight fruit. I will decant this wine.

After an hour or so the wine is still too tart with chewy tannins and still closed. I believe that the wine needs more age. After 2 hours of breathing the wine is changing and is much more relaxed all around. Bottom line is that I think this wine has a problem but is still really young. I paid $16 for this wine and typically a Languedoc should be ready by now. If you are a gambler, lay one down and try it in 2 years, you just might find a winner.

Columbia Crest "Two Vines" Merlot-Cabernet 2002 wine review by (PB)

This super bargain wine is a Black cherry red with fruity, grapy bouquet with nice aromas.

Palate is fruit forward, tasty and some black licorice and dark fruit. I am finding this wine for under $6 and for that price and this quality, raise a case!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Beringer Bancroft Ranch Howell Mountain Merlot 2000 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Rich nose of plum and berries, with subtle spice tones

Slightly leaner fruit on the palate

Finishes with blackberry, anise, and chocolate

This is a good Merlot and has a strong track record. I was surprised to see it featured at a steakhouse for only $88 a bottle as it retails for up to $75 in stores. For this relative bargain price, we ordered a couple bottles to go with the steaks at a recent business dinner.

I was particularly interested to taste it because it had a little age on it. Not that it's old, but compared to all the 2004 Merlots on the wine list it was noticeably more mature. The additional age seemed to contribute to the wine's smooth texture and integrated flavors.

As it was a 2000 Merlot, I kept comparing it to a wine I consider a benchmark from that vintage- the Pride Mountain Merlot 2000. While it has a similar dark fruit profile to the Pride, the Beringer isn't opulent and wowing. But it's good. And that was exactly what we needed to wash down our steaks. Raise a glass!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Luigi Bosca Finca la Linda Malbec 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Blackberry and currants on the nose

Juicy palate of rich fruit

Finishes with berries and dark chocolate

The Malbecs from Argentina can be dark and powerful. This one has those qualities, although somewhat simple in composition, at a fair price of $11 or so. In this price range they tend to be simple, but they often carry a nice flavor profile that compliments hearty food.

Overall, the prices of Malbecs are on the rise and I'm often surprised to see wines I bought just five year ago at $12 now selling at $18. Hopefully, the quality uptick will continue because they are nearly can't miss in this price range.

Raise a glass!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay Sonoma 2005 wine review by (PB)

One of my favorite inexpensive Chards, this is very light golden with vanilla curd and light citrus with ripe mandarin orange notes in the bouquet.

In the mouth this wine is sharply acidic (in a good way) with lovely flavors of vanilla and lemon. It is just a super value at $10 (Sam's Club) and a great example of the varietal. Raise a glass of this inexpensive treat!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Di Majo Norante Sangiovese 2005 wine review by (PB)

This wine is from the Molise region of Italy called the Terra Degli OSCi. It has a fresh cherry bouquet with a nose that smells of burnt wood and smoke with a little pepper.

It is fairly big in the mouth with a smoky palate but shallow fruit.

With some air time, Light chocolate and dried cherries are present. Milk chocolate up front with light fruit and steely minerals with a smoky finish.

This wine was only $8.50 but I am undecided about it which usually means it is just so-so. Still for the money, what the heck? Raise a glass.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Les Hauts de la Brune 2005 wine review by (PB)

This red is from the Coteaux Du Languedoc where wine values abound. It is a purple garnet colored wine with a strawberry like bouquet reminding me of Gamay only with more backbone.

Out of the gate this wine is bold and big with structure and flavor that is solid.
This wine is Syrah 80%, Grenache 10%, and Mourvedre 10%.

This is a rich wine with depth and fruit forward with chewy tannins but nice. It would benefit from a couple more years of age but at $14 is another super wine value. Raise a glass.

Hoya De Cadenas Tempranillo 2003 wine review by (PB)

Black cherry colored wine with black cherry bouquet. It is a bit harsh with coarse tannins, a bit tart and shallow flavors. Not a good wine and worth passing up.
(Label on left is for the "Reserva" but is similar)

Sutter Home Chenin Blanc 2005 wine review by (PB)

This wine was $3.99 and while you may think you can't get a decent wine for this price, you are wrong. However, in this particular case, you are RIGHT. This wine, while it has an apricot bouquet is sickeningly sweet in a contrived sort of way with a sulfur taste and "fake" fruit. Sutter Home has made some pretty drinkable wines for next to nothing but this is NOT one of them. They ought to call this wine, Chenin PLONK. Don't raise a glass.

Poggio Al Tufo Rompicollo 2005 wine review by (PB)

This Chianti is a darker cherry red hue with solid Sangiovese bouquet even though it is a blend and the vegetal Cab aromas come out with minerally notes and some pepper.

This wine is big and steely with a sweeter fruit flavor out of the gate. this wine is really well made with nice tannins which are a just a tad coarse but should ease with air and /or age.

This is an impressive wine that is wonderfully full. black licorice comes out with some air time of 2 hours. This is a classy wine with blueberry notes and finishes well. A super value at less than $14 and worth hunting for. Raise a glass of this Tuscan value!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Falesco Vitiano 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Nose of cherry and plum

Steely core of sour cherry on the palate

Finishes with more cherry and a mineral undertone

I think this wine is over-rated. It received pretty big scores from some critics, but it doesn't really impress me. While classically-styled with cherry fruit and a steely core, there's nothing exciting about it. I've had the 2004 three times now and it just doesn't stand out in the crowd with so many interesting Italian reds to choose from.

With that said, it's maintained bargain pricing of $10 or so at a time when many entry-level Chiantis and other Italian reds are creeping into the low teens. I actually paid just under $9 for this bottle a few months ago. If you want to try it, swirl it in the glass quite a bit and wash down a homemade pizza or calzone. And raise a glass to single digit prices!

Pepperwood Grove Viognier 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Lemons, peach, and apricot on the nose

Citrus core

Finishes with floral notes, honey, and white grape

Actually, this is not a bad little wine! I see the Pepperwood Grove wines everywhere, but I rarely spot the Viognier. For a bargain label developed by Sebanstiani, this is decent stuff.

It has a simple, fruity quality that is pleasing and tastes like real wine. I paid $7 for the bottle, and that seems to be a pretty typical price. Raise a glass!

Qupe Central Coast Syrah 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Raspberry and sour cherry nose

Acidic core of red grapefruit and pepper

Clean, dry finish with herbs and red berries

This is a crisp and elegant style of Syrah, not a big, bold style like so many. It reminds me of a Southern Rhone style, putting it at the opposite end of the spectrum from the typical jammy Australian type.

With that said, it's a nice food wine that will probably prove to be versatile with food. Just don't expect a huge wine because you'd be disappointed.

I paid $13 for this bottle on sale, and have seen it more commonly for a couple bucks more. Raise a glass!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ardeche Cabernet Sauvignon 2004 wine review by (PB)

This Vin De Pays Coteaux De L'Ardeche is 100% Cabernet. It has a nice black cherry color with solid vegetal cab. bouquet with nice black cherry aromas.

In the mouth this wine has a sweet impression with a hint of licorice, mild fruit and although tight, should open. With some air there are nice cranberry jelly notes with a decent mouth filling flavor. At the price of $9, this is a value wine so raise a glass.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Hess Collection Mt. Veeder Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Huge nose of blackberry, eucalyptus, and chocolate

Smooth texture on the palate, with mouth-filling cherry pie

Long finish of blackberry cream, spice, chocolate, and vanilla notes richly layered

I highly recommend this wine. I remember enjoying a bottle two years ago at a very nice steak house, and was looking forward to a second look. This bottle had been resting in my cellar for the past two years and looked like it wanted to be opened for a visit from PB of this blog and his lovely wife. We grilled some New York strip steak and enjoyed every last drop of the wine.

Life is too short to drink bad wine. Hopefully we can help you find some good ones. If you see this at a store, grab it. For $35 or so, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better Napa Cab from 2002. Raise a glass!

Georges DuBoeuf Chiroubles Beaujolais Cru 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Black raspberry nose

Juicy core of red fruit on the palate

Smooth finish with some cherry and jammy flavor

This is unmistakably Gamay, and very tasty. The 2005 wines are absolutely delicious from Beaujolais, so grab any of them. I paid $9 for this one. If you bring one home, chill it down just a bit and enjoy with any variety of appetizers. And raise a glass!

Francis Coppola Blue Label Merlot 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Inviting aromas on the nose of mixed berries and hints of leather

Smooth texture on the palate

Juicy finish, with plum and hints of spice

The best way I can sum up this wine is with this statement from my tasting notes: "nice second tier Merlot and worth every penny."

If the top tier California Merlots are around $50 or more, it pays to find a few bottles you like on the next rung down. This wine is typically available for about $15, and competes well with wines in a broader price range of, say, $15-$30. Best of all, you'll find it just about anywhere as huge quantities are distributed coast to coast.

I haven't had every recent vintage of this Merlot, but the 2005 is a nice wine. For the soft, smooth, ready-to-drink appeal of Merlot, keep this on your radar. And raise a glass!

Schild Estate Barossa Shiraz 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Huge nose of plum, blackberry, and cinnamon

Rich cherry core

Licorice finish, with pie spices and hints of vanilla

While big and ready to drink, this Shiraz has elegance and balance to keep it together. If you're familiar with the huge fruit flavors that Barossa Shiraz has become famous for, you'll appreciate this wine. But imagine adding an underlying balance and integration of flavors that keeps the wine smooth and elegant. This wine bring these qualities together.

By many accounts, producers of Barossa Shiraz are striving for more balanced and harmonious wines to give their "fruit bomb" image some polish. In my experience, this is truly beginning to happen and I suggest this wine as an example. Be prepared to spend about $25 for a bottle, and understand that it was awarded a big score of 93 points by Wine Spectator.

Raise a glass!

Domaine Des Baumard Clos du Papillon Savennieres 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Nose has muted fruit, fig, and caramel

Citrus and minerals on the palate

Finishes with a floral note, followed by lemons, mineral accents, and almonds

I opened this bottle with PB of this blog. We found the wine to be very unique and interesting, but couldn't quite figure it out. With an unusual nose of figs and muted fruit tones, it went on into citrus, floral, and mineral notes that don't seem very well integrated.

While it's certainly a complex and carefully made Chenin Blanc, it doesn't glide across the palate. We spent far too much time trying to figure it out and far too little time actually enjoying it. Maybe that's our fault, but it really is a complicated wine. For that reason, I don't recommend it for every day drinking.

If you read the big scores the critics awarded to this wine and you're still interested in checking it out, try a roasted poultry dish or hearty quiche as a pairing. Then be prepared to spend about $25 on the bottle.

Raise a glass to the world of wine!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Allegrini Valpolicella 2006 wine review by (PB)

This is a purple garnet wine with aromas of cherries and strawberries which reminds me of a Gamay or Grenache with a touch of soap in the bouquet.

The palate is bitter and stingy on flavor but with some air time it opens up.

There are cherry fruit aromas with licorice and the palate is fruity, simple and quite nice. Well made! I paid $15 for this wine and as the comment notes below; don't rush this wine; give it a good hour to breathe, raise a glass and be refreshed.

Rancho Zabaco Dancing Bull Zinfandel 2005 wine review by (PB)

This generic sourced California Zin from Rancho Zabaco was on sale and then I obtained an internet coupon for $2 off. The final cost of this wine was $7. It is purple/red with a tight nose of plum and red and black raspberry.

In the mouth it is heavy with a thick texture with big dark fruit and flavor that is surprising.

It is full bodied and a big all around wine that is amazing for a sourced wine from grapes all over California. This is a first rate Zinfandel and at this price, buy it up and raise a glass.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Stella Merlot 2004 wine review by (PB)

From Veneto Italy this wine is medium garnet hue with vegetal fruit and green pepper with smoke.

In the mouth it is a bit sour with stingy flavors that are unremarkable. I bought this wine on close out supposedly due to a vintage change. I paid under $5 for it and frankly, it isn't worth that! This was one close out that was a rip. Raise a glass of something else. (The label is for the Pinot Grigio but looks the same)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Querciabella Chianti Classico 2004 wine review by (PB)

Down in Boston visiting (NW) after a great Monday finishing round of the PGA tour Deutsche Bank Tournament, we settled in for a nice casual dinner with the ladies. (NW) brought this wine out for me to taste blind. The wine was garnet with a front bouquet of fresh cherries with an underlayer of daffodils.

The palate was tight not having breathed but there was potential with sharp tannins and middle fruit. It needed to breathe.

After giving it some time to open, it emerged as a nicely balanced and tasty treat. I guessed it to be a 2003 Chianti Classico or possibly a Super Tuscan because it just didn't have the classic Sangiovese nose. (Which it did with more air time...) (NW) paid around $29 for it.

This was a wine (NW) and I had with our wives in Greve, Italy a couple years back. Ah, the sweet memories a wine can hold. Raise a glass to a great wine region and a great country!

Castano Monastrell 2001 wine review by PB)

This wine is from Yecla Spain and has grapey black cherry and all kinds of stuff going on in the bouquet. It holds a garnet hue and is made in the ripe style of bready fruit with structure and is somewhat classy.

Breathing doesn't so much for it. this is a tasty and well balanced wine for which I paid a mere $7 so raise a glass of what is a bargain.

Domaine Bott-Geyl Muscat 2002 wine review by (PB)

I paid less than $5 for this close out special. It is golden hued with big apricot nose and ripe pineapple with a touch of tropical fruit.

The palate is surprisingly dry with crisp acid and a citrus and cream flavor.

The apricots remain in the finish. Another bargain from the Alsace region of France. You couldn't touch this wine for this price normally so it pays to hunt! Raise a glass. (note--label is for the Riesling)

VEO Grande Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 review by (PB)

This Colchagua (Chile) wine is a beautiful cranberry red with herbal tones and green peppers galore. With half an hour of breathing, the fruit rises over the green peppers with cocoa hints.

In the mouth the wine is a bit hot but with some varietal flavor of dark fruit and cocoa. This is another wine by the Chilean Errazuriz (see entry on the VEO Chardonnay for more info). This wine runs under $7 at Sam's Club and it's O.K. for the price. Raise a glass but don't expect to be wowed.

Schild Estate Shiraz 2005 wine review by (PB)

This Barossa Shiraz is an intense garnet with BIG bouquet of rich, ripe black cherry.

The mouth is intensely deep with espresso and ripe rich berries with baker's chocolate front and rear. The texture of this wine is seductively velvety and lush. It is ready to drink right out of the gate. This wine--courtesy of (NW) of this blog, will run you around $25.

Wine Spectator gave it a 93 out of 100. Hard to beat for the price. Delicious enough to raise a glass for sure!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Smith Woodhouse 1992 Port Late Bottled Vintage wine review by billy

Nose: YUM! brandied plums, cedar, wet tobacco and cinnamon.
Palate: exceptionally smooth and silky like honeyed vanilla cream. Youngish strawberry essence still detectable.
Finish: lingering as expected with small crescendo of feel at the very back of the palate after it is gone.

The look of this fortified wine is amazing; nearly black in its core. It is not overwhelmingly fortified and not overly fruity but has more subtle characteristics. For a (relatively) inexpensive port this is simply wonderful. I received this as a gift for my birthday (back in January) and decided just this evening to open and decant the wine. I've not had a Port in some time and I simply enjoy these wines. As this was the only bottle of Port in my cellar it was elected by default. I'm glad I opened it. This is quite a treat.

The luxuriously deep dark look of the wine promises layers of flavor and character before it even reaches my nose. The smell is delightful. The brandied tang is present as I take a deep smell and savor the scents. But it is not walloping my nose with a "hard liquor burn". It caresses, teases, and subtly enhances the aroma of the wine within. The balance is expert and the experience is a delightfully flavorful smoothness that is enjoyable all the way down. As I finish a swallow there is a "palate memory" that re-experiences the warmth and berry and cinnamon flavors that were just moments before playing in my mouth.

A great value. A fine sipping and contemplative wine.

Raise a Glass!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

VEO Grande Chardonnay 2006 wine review by (PB)

Another Sam's Club buy from Chile and the second label by the solid Chilean producer Errazuriz. (Numerous global producers spin off wines made with excess grapes and/or juice producing fine wines under a second label which is always much less costly than their premier label. (If you know the producer and like his work, chances are high that another wine made by him will be good!)

It is straw colored with pronounced apple and apricot nose with a solid palate and crisp acidity.

The wine brims with nice fruit tasting similar to a Chenin Blanc. This is a well made wine and a nice value at less than $7. Raise a glass and buy more.

Familia Cara Chianti Classico Riserva 2003 wine review by (PB)

Classic Sangiovese bouquet with fresh red berry notes and slight vegetal hints and subtle milk chocolate.

In the mouth it is tight and thin. Might need to air out. With some breathing it opens a bit but this wine never quite gets there.

For the $18 price tag, it was way over priced (Sam's Club) and the Familia Cara standard Chianti for less than half the price is a much better value. Raise a glass of that.

Vallebelbo Barolo 1999 wine review by (PB)

This inexpensive Barolo (inexpensive by Barolo standards) is not your classic Barolo which is I suspect why it was only $30 at Sam's Club.

It shows some age with fresh sweet cherry aromas permeating the room--perhaps is best attribute. In the mouth this wine, again, shows its age although for a Barolo, 8 years old is still neo-natal. It is a bit hot, and yet it is tasty but not a good example of the wine. I'd pass on it and raise a glass of something else.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Red Wine Diet by Roger Corder a book review by (PB)

Corder is Professor of Experimental Therapeutics at the William Harvey Research Institute of London. Don't let the title throw you; this isn't one of those tabloid fad jump-on-the-wagon weight-loss plans like "How I Lost 50 Pounds in Two Weeks eating Twinkies." Corder's is a comprehensive review of the research surrounding the often touted benefits of drinking red wine with the credit going to a substance known as "resveratrol" which he effectively debunks in the book. So Corder's intention was to identify what, in fact, the heart healthy substance is and where it is found in greatest quantities in the fruit of the vine. One hint-- You won't find it in all the mass produced-- and very popular--red wines from the land down under.

Even with all the details, minutia and typically long words used in the world of medicine, the book is readable and understandable. Admittedly, I come at the book with an atypical background of medicine having been educated in my first career as a Medical Technologist. But the average person can easily skim the jargon and still know the salient points being made. Adding to the books readability is the summarization of key points at the end of each chapter.

If you are familiar with the claims of late concerning the benefits of red wine for everything from kidney, artery, and heart health to the prevention of cancer, a substance called resveratrol has been getting the credit. But Corder's research shows that resveratrol occurs in such small quantities in red wine that "it's hard to see how drinking or even swimming in wine can provide sufficient resveratrol to reach protective levels." (p.37)

Corder's answer? A polyphenol called procyanidin, which occurs at a level 1000 times greater than resveratrol, is the healthy gemstone of red wine. And the good news for people with an aversion to alcohol, is that the same benefit can be derived from purple Concord grape juice.

Corder's method of approaching the subject is confident and practical. Just drinking alcohol containing beverages is not a healthy choice. Just drinking white wine in hopes of deriving all the health benefits touted for wine in general will not benefit you much either. The key is drinking red wine and the right red wines at that!

Corder's research is comprehensive delving into the method of vinification, the terroir, the altitude at which the grapes are grown. All the general conditions surrounding the production of grapes impacts the content of the wine's procyanidin levels. He lists specific types of wine and regions of the world where one can generally expect procyanidin rich wine. Therein is the value of the book as a resource.

In a nutshell--a very general nutshell which needs and receives much qualification--old world wines are richer in procyanidins than new world but there are so many caveats to that statement, a read of the book is essential.

The first 8 chapters contain the essence of Corder's thesis. The rest of the book contains some informative "myth busting" with meal plans topped with a well rounded encouragement throughout for a balanced lifestyle. If you have any interest in the health benefits of wine, this is a must read.