Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Falesco Vitiano Cabernet-Merlot-Sangiovese 2005 wine review by (PB)

I think I paid a little under $10 for this wine. It is cranberry in color with a thick, heavy, dark berry aroma.

The palate is a bit understated but nice hints of dark fruit and black pepper. All in all, I liked this wine and it paired well with home made pasta with meat sauce. How can you go wrong? Raise a glass!

Note--this isn't the exact label but it's close enough to get you to the right place...

Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc 2005 wine review by (PB)

This Chilean is medium gold in hue with fairly strong aromas of vanilla and citrus.

In the mouth the wine is flavorful and "zingy" with citrus and summery fruit with good varietal presentation. This is their production level wine and sells for around $10 though I found it for $8. It is always a decent value so raise a glass!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Step Rd. Blackwing Shiraz 2005 wine review by (PB)

This wine is a pretty purple, burgeoning ruby hued wine with a bouquet that is up front with black cherry, fresh cherry fruit and spicy berries to boot but in the rear there is a unique scent of APPLES. That's right; apples and yes, this is a red wine!

On the palate this wine is another fruit bomb with soft structure and very ripe dark fruit with a sweet foundation. this is a very popular style and it is well made with big flavors and drinks very easily. But that being said, it just doesn't taste distinctive; it tastes like a gazillion other new world Shirazes on the market. It finishes well, and it's a decent wine for the under $11 I paid for it. But I have to admit, the seemingly monoclonal new world fruit bombs are all beginning to taste the same. Raise a glass if sweet, dark and fruity is what you enjoy!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon "Vision" 2006 wine review by (PB)

This Chilean is a thrillingly ruby-garnet pour with purple highlights--really pretty!

It has a deep rich, ripe plum bouquet with pepper notes in the nose.

Palate is intense with ultra smooth tannins and dark fruit. Seems to need a little more time in the bottle. Maybe another year but is really ready to drink now. I paid $12 for this fruit forward new world wine. Not unique or distinctive but very easy to drink and full of flavor. Raise a glass.

Maison Nicolas Reserve Merlot 2003 wine review by (PB)

This is 100% Merlot and peddled by Sam's Club and elsewhere. Friends dropped this off while I was in the middle of a battle with the flu. I felt better just knowing someone dropped off a bottle of wine for the heck of it.

I have had this name of wine before but not this varietal or year. It's color is aging with purple prune hue and a bouquet of prunes, olives, and ultra ripe plums.

In the mouth the wine has unrelenting tannins which are a bit out of balance; this wine will not get any better and is in fact peaked. Flavors range from slight black pepper with prune notes and a short finish. In all fairness, this wine deserves another review when I my palate is 100%.

Still, for $6 (sale price) you can raise a glass.
(label pictured is basically same except for the name of the varietal)

Dr. Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett 1997 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Rich nose with dueling aromas of bright lemons and dried apricots

Plush on the palate, with lime and wet stones

Finishes with more dried apricot and a long, silky finish that tapers nicely

Our Thanksgiving Day was highlighted by a gathering of friends and family. The group was just big enough that we had two of everything- two turkeys, two potato dishes, two stuffings, and yes, two featured wines.

One of the wines was a rare magnum of this Riesling. The bottle itself was a showpiece- incredibly tall and slender. It was one of three a large wine store had acquired several years ago. I spotted it on a rack in the back of the climte-controlled wine room and asked the general manager about it. He said the other two were purchased by employees, and added that they both reported the wine was drinking well. It was a cool $50.

I was incredibly impressed with the wine, after some initial concern when the cork slipped out too easily and was completely soaked and covered in mold. I crossed my fingers and poured a bit to taste. Fortunately, it was awesome and showed a lot of life. The dueling aromas of bright lemon and dried apricot made the wine really interesting and flavorful. The finish was long and silky.

The bottle was easy to finish, with it's appealing flavors and low alcohol content. It made a nice compliment to the appetizers and worked okay with dinner, although it wasn't a perfect pairing to the traditional Thanksgiving meal. For that reason, we also offered a red wine to guests so they could enjoy one white and one red as they please.

So far, in my experience, Riesling with some age on it is a marvelous thing- even some Kabinett Rieslings. Enjoy a rare find and raise a glass!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Beaujolais Nouveau 2007 Georges Duboeuf Review by Billy

Finally I got my hands on a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau. You'd think that, as much of the stuff floods the world the third Tuesday of November, that I'd have had a much easier time of it. Unfortunately I was in California for the two weeks surrounding this day and, restaurants and bars there simply didn't have the stuff on hand (at least where I was). So I'm a bit late to the game this year. Either way, I'm glad to have a chance to finally get at this bottle of early wine.

Nose: Petroleum tar with juicy raspberry.
Palate: chewy, balanced, unprepossessing.
Finish: present, quickly tapering.

All in all, Beaujolais Day is a great reason to have a glass of wine. While this wine is unremarkable, it is also unpretentious. It is a good drink. It will go with stuff. Have a bottle just to have a bottle but don't look to be blown away.

Raise a glass of Beaujolais to Beaujolais!

Turner Road Shiraz 2003 wine review by (PB)

I found this on sale from $10 to $5. From Lodi, it is slightly purple with light inky dark fruit that is pretty nice.

In the mouth it is fruit forward but with non-descript flavors on opening. Big plum flavors emerge and for $5, this is pretty darn good wine. (Couldn't find a label)
Raise a glass.

Jaques De La Jugie 2005 wine review by (PB)

This Minervois red "Cella Vinaria" is purple cranberry color with sour dried cherry bouquet with faint sweet fruit behind.

Palate is peppery with stifled cherry notes and finishes very quickly. I paid a little less than $11 for it and it is just okay for a Minervois which usually produces some super value wines.

Raise a glass.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Caymus Conundrum 2005 Wine Review by Billy

It's Thanksgiving day. I'm working in the kitchen and the perfect wine to accompany all the baking, tasting, basting, and roasting is this 2005 Caymus Conundrum. The easy drinking white wine hails from California and the conundrum is just what blend of white varietals is actually in here.

Nose: Honey and Pear predominate
Palate: rich off dry palate with enough structure to be refined without getting flabby.
Finish: Smooth green pear skins.

At about $20 this wine is great just for drinking. Today, Thanksgiving day, it is the perfect bottle to have open around the kitchen. To keep it at the right temp in my hot kitchen I have it wrapped in my wine chiller. A great plan, a great wine, a wonderful day!

Give thanks and Raise a Glass!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving Day Wine Pairing Recommendations (NW)

A Thanksgiving Day meal with friends and family provides a perfect opportunity to enjoy nice wine. Because so much fuss is made over food and wine pairings in general, I find people get a little stressed out about what to serve guest on this special day. Fortunately, many wines have a much broader range than they get credit for. With that in mind, I have some basic suggestions that might help.

If you are planning a very traditional Thanksgiving meal, complete with Turkey and all the assorted sides, a number of red wines can work well like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Merlot. All of these varietals have a pretty broad range, except maybe the Zinfandel. However, I put Zinfandel on the list because it works well with cranberry sauce and heavy starches like mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.

In order to make things even more festive at the table, I suggest you offer guests two wines. This is especially easy if you are able to provide you guests with two wine glasses and allow them to pour and sip as they like. Simply place the bottles on the table and allow your guests to discover the different pairings as they please. As a rule of thumb, plan for at least a half bottle per person while at the table. Which two wines? Try offering one Cabernet Sauvignon and one Pinot Noir, perhaps both from American wineries in the spirit of the holiday. This year, I'll be offering one red and one white to try something different.

While wines at the dinner table are often the focal point, don't forget that you can create a special experience with wines before and after the meal. A nice bubbly is a great way to start the festivities, especially with assorted appetizers or finger food. To finish things off, try a nice dessert wine. Something sweet but light, for example a muscat or icewine, should help wash down the pie. Do this before coffee.

My Thanksgiving Day wines for this year are listed below- maybe it will give you some ideas:

Bubbly: Domaine Carneros Brut 2003
White: Dr. Loosen Riesling Kabinett 1997
Red: Ridge Geyserville Zinfandel 2005
Dessert: Pindar Late Harvest Gewurztraminer 2001

Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Nose of black cherry and sweet spices

Bright cherry and leather on the palate

Finishes smoothly with berries, ash, dark chocolate, and hints of vanilla

I could make this my house Chianti this year! This is a nice wine, with a full flavor profile and interesting layers. In fact, I bought a few bottles already at the terrific price of $13. The reference price is $24, but I typically see it on shelves for $17-19. When I found it for $13, I couldn't help but stock up.

This is a riserva and definitely a step up from a basic Chianti Classico. Look for riserva bottlings when you don't mind paying a couple extra bucks. Lately, they've been worth the additional cost, especially from the 2001, 2003, and 2004 vintages. Raise a glass!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Beaujolais Nouveau 2007 Duboeuf wine review by (PB)

The first (and only) Nouveau I found was by--of course--Georges Duboeuf the grand master of Beaujolais. The 2007 season was challenging. This wine is a purple red wine with a fresh strawberry-raspberry aroma.

In the mouth the wine is juicy with berry flavors and a hint of spice at the rear. This is classic Gamay wine even if a little thin. Not the vintage of 05 but tasty none-the-less. Raise a glass for under $12.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrive! by (PB)

Beaujolais Nouveau is here! Made from the Gamay grape, Nouveau is fermented for just a few weeks and then annually and always, released on the third Thursday of November. In Beaujolais, it is time of great fan fare and celebration.

So on your way home, stop by your local wine place and grab a bottle or two of Nouveau. It is simple wine that is fruity and--in good years--just plain delicious and guzzle worthy! It should cost you anywhere from $9-$14 depending on whether it is "Beaujolais Nouveau" or Beaujolais Cru Nouveau. But either way, it's fun and juicy so be sure to raise a glass on this special wine day around the world!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fruity nose of lemon, melon, and pear

Good core of acidity on the palate

Refined finish with tropical fruit followed by subtle hints of spice and nuts

While vacationing in Florida, we enjoyed a lot of nice meals and good bottles of wine. One good memory was a lunch at the beach house with good friends, some seafood appetizers, and this wine. The bottle went dry very quickly as all the kids were napping and the adults actually got to enjoy a mid-day conversation.

One of the discussion topics was, of course, wine. If the California Chardonnay producers are polarizing into two distinct camps, we agreed that this wine still resides right in the middle. One camp applies generous oak aging and the other camp has completely eliminated oak. Looking toward the middle ground, I'm always impressed by the producers that use oak judiciously to enhance the varietal characteristics. This wine has that nice balance.

I paid $20 for the bottle, marked down from $25. In my experience, it's consistently well made and the 2005 is no different. This is a good, middle-of-the-road style at a fair price. Raise a glass!

Chateau Langoa Barton 1998 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Nose of black cherry, tobacco, and smoke

Smooth texture on the palate, with earthy flavor

Finish glides smoothly through layers of leather, cherry, and earth

While in Florida, I paid a return visit to one of my favorite shops. They always seem to have some older vintages of Bordeaux hanging around in the climate controlled room. I was happy to find this wine, along with some others in the same price range. I happily paid $32 for the bottle, which is roughly the same as the release price seven years ago.

The wine has really well integrated flavors and tastes great. Particularly, the tobacco and smoke notes enhance the complexity and make the wine interesting. Additionally, the texture is smooth and the tannins are relatively soft. I recommend this wine as a well-priced classified growth Bordeaux. Grab it if you see it...and raise a glass!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Masi Campofiorini Ripasso 2003 wine review by (PB)

This Ripasso from Valpolicella is a rich dark cherry in color. Ripasso wines were essentially "invented" by Masi as it is a unique process which is too involved to describe here. (If interested go to for a good explanation.)

It has a Baroloesque bouquet about it but with fresh red fruit up front and dark sweet licorice underneath.

The palate is fruity and yet truly old world in style. Dusty sour cherry fruit throughout and herbal notes. The Ripasso technique gives these wines a very different feel and texture all around. you really should give it a try by raising a glass.

Domaine De Clairac Marsanne 2003 wine review by (PB)

We popped into (NW's) on our way back from Los Angeles and he served up this white with some appetizers. I have had very few Marsanne's (Marsanne is the grape type) but this one stands out and was delightful.

It was pale golden in the glass with an interesting fragrance with a unique sweet rye bread aroma.

Front palate is floral with off dry fruit that hard to pin down a description but it was really very nice. there was a touch of vanilla rear palate with a gentle vanilla finish.

This is very well made an unique. I liked it and was a nice change. (Reference price--$17) Raise a glass.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir 2006 wine review by (PB)

Medium cherry hue with sour raspberry and wild cherry core with stewed prunes rising later; palate is balanced with gentle structure with solid Pinot flavors.

This wine is uncomplicated and juicy and is pretty tasty for an inexpensive Pinot Noir which you may know can be VERY pricey. Good example of a Pinot and for this price, ($12) raise a glass!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Laetitia Arroyo Grande Valley Pinot Noir 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Nose of plum, pomegranate, and roses

Herbal core on the palate, smooth texture

Long, fruity finish with loads of black pepper

I spent a week in Florida with my family visiting old friends and hosting guests at a beach house. While there, wine was a centerpiece of many casual dinners and evening conversations.

This wine was a real treat because it so nicely complimented the variety of appetizers set out. Our friends opened this bottle to share with us while we were visiting them in their home. We all enjoyed the smooth texture and the floral tones, and drank the bottle down very quickly. It was a fun evening, as we recalled the good times we all had together as we lived near each other in Jacksonville, Florida.

The reference price for this wine is approximately $25. It's a fair price for a well-made Pinot Noir. Raise a glass!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Juan Gil Jumilla 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Nose of raspberry, allspice, and cinnamon

Juicy core, full-bodied

Mixed berry finish, moderate tannins, and spices

This is a fruity, new world stye of wine. The rich spices from oak are prominent, but still fairly well integrated. The texture is rich and juicy.

Spain produces many good red wines from various regions around the country. Look to Jumilla for bargains $15 and under. I paid $13 for this bottle on a recent trip to Florida, and have seen similar prices on the internet. Raise a glass!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Napa River Zinfandel 2005 wine review by (PB)

This is another super bargain found at Trader Joe's in LA while on a recent trip. I snatched it up simply because it was $5! I didn't expect much but "Shut up!" wasn't I surprised?

This wine is purple with youth possessing an amazing bouquet of blackberries and ripe plum.

The palate is amazing as well with big bready and spice flavors of dark berries. It actually changes with a little breathing to yield flavors of chocolate and an awesome blast in the rear of spearmint. So much that I thought someone at the table must have been chewing gum but they weren't. This wine is just too incredible and for $5. My last words in my written review were "Wow and Wow again!" It is truly a zinfandel with some layers etc. If you are near a trader Joe's and they have this wine--which was in abundance at the one I shopped; buy a ton as an everyday all purpose red. Then raise a case to super values!

I found another review of this wine on what was touted as an "amateur's blog." They said it tasted manufactured and called it plonk. For the record--my 30 plus years of tasting wine says otherwise! (No label available)

Three Knights Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2006 wine review by (PB)

Real time review--Pale yellow with bright green apple bouquet with candied nose and vanilla.

Palate is thin in weight but carries some varietal flavors of off dry summer fruit and oakiness. Finishes with light tones of sweet summer fruit.

I grabbed this for $6 at Trader Joe's out in LA since it was a Russian River AVA (American Viticultural Area) which defines the geographical locale of origin of the grapes. It is a tasty little wine which, for the money, is another decent bargain to be sure. If there is a Trader Joe's in your area, check this wine out as well as the zinfandel reviewed above! Raise a glass of either one. (Sorry I couldn't find a picture of the label)