Thursday, February 28, 2008

Beringer California Classic Red 2005 wine review by Billy

Nose: big nose of peppery zinfandel and spicy syrah if I guess correctly. Fruity plumbs provide the fruity nose.
Palate: balance is so-so. Tannins are ok but the acidic structure is thin and hollow making the mouth feel weaker than promised by the nose. Still, it flows nicely and the fruit flavors of of dark stone fruit (hahaha, I've always wanted to write that -I really mean plumbs, pluots, maybe cherries etc)
Finish:round and fruity again, pleasing and smooth.

This is not an expensive wine but it is a fun wine to drink. This particular bottle was a gift to me from the Hilton hotel in Beijing China where I was staying last week on business. Yes, I brought it home, so this California wine has been around the world, to be enjoyed here in the USA.

It is a fine wine for casual drinking. Its big nose and fruity palate make it easily accessible. It is bold and will hold up well to spicy dishes.

Raise a Glass!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Marchesi Di Frescobaldi Nipazzano Chianti Rufina Riserva 2004 wine review by (PB)

I lugged this wine back from Los Angeles having read about it in the Wine Spectator. It made the WS's top 100 of the year making the number 56 of the top 100 with a 91 pt. rating.

It has a black cherry hue to the rim with tight aromas with a bunch of steely notes. There is a light chocolate rear trying to break out but it is tight with tart sour cherry flavors.

After an hour or so of decanting this wine is surprisingly unremarkable. It is a solid and decent wine but a top 100 ranking? It may very well be that it needs to be breathed even more. I have run into this with quality Chianti's sometimes requiring 12 hours to really break out.

The wine was a reasonable $17 but still leaves me a bit baffled. I will retaste it tomorrow to see if it changes. Stay tuned!

Bogle Petite Syrah 2005 wine review by (PB)

Rich purple/cranberry hue to the rim; ripe berry bouquet with intensity and a slight chocolate backing.

Palate--big fruit front with slightly bitter mid palate and fruit layers; needs a little air.

Ripe berries and plums; rather unidimensional but all things are fairly well balanced. Tasty and easy to drink so for $12, I liked it! Raise a glass.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oveja Negra 2006 wine review by (BP)

This is a Chilean blend of Cabernet Franc and Carmenere. The hue of this wine whose name means "Black Sheep" is black cherry in tone with some garnet depth. Mineral notes highlight a lighter medium red berry thrust in the nose.

Palate is spicy with bready front and coarse flavors that are tight and unresolved with a bitter finish.

With air, there are musty notes with earthy tones and white pepper on the palate. Even at $10 I just didn't care for this wine; the style or the blend. Pass on this puppy!

Cesanese Di Olevano Romano 2005 wine review by (PB)

Another "Small Vineyards" designation (see entry for 1-27-08 "Martorano") that has a medium hefty garnet hue with a purple touch.

The bouquet of this creation pronounced, Chay-zin-A-zay, is somewhat vegetal with sour cherry and black pepper with a hint of baby powder at the end.

Palate has chewy tannins with some steely notes. I was ambivalent about this wine on opening but after it breathed a while it opened nicely to a really decent quaff which I enjoyed a lot. White pepper emerges with a note of tarragon that is fleeting but interesting. Bright cherry flavors are pronounced and this is well made and different. I paid $16 and would buy it again so raise a glass!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valle Reale Vigne Nuove Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Nose of red berries and currants

Fleshy texture on palate

Smooth finish with more berries, anise, and chocolate accented by mineral undertone

Meet my new house Italian for this year! This wine is tasty, smooth, and interesting. It has real fruit qualities balanced by a terrific undertone of minerals and earthiness. That's always a great balancing act in Italian red wines. And oh, by the way, no oak here.

Montepulciano D'Abruzzo is not to be confused with the village of Montepulciano in Tuscany that produces Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Many people are familiar with this village as it sights on a hilltop adjacent to the Brunello district surrounding Montalcino. Lots of wine tourism here! Quite the contrary with the Montepulciano D'Abruzzo production zone which is distinctly off the beaten path all the way over on the Adriatic Coast near Teramo. Hopefully it remains off the beaten path for years to come as this region produces the best price-to-quality ratio of all Italian red wines. I paid $10 for this wine, and it was the most expensive one out of four offerings in a local wine shop. Raise a glass!

St. Clair Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2006 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Bright lemon nose

Very grassy and bursting with acidity on palate

Grapefruit finish tapers nicely

Wow- this is New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to the max! I drink a lot of it especially in the summer, and it's almost indescribably crisp, acidic, and full of great flavors. Maybe I was particularly taken by this wine because it's the middle of the winter and I hadn't sipped one in a while. Oh, and it paired exceptionally well with the seared scallop appetizer.

In a true expression of the controversial concept of terrior, New Zealand continues to develop a unique and beautiful expression of Sauvignon Blanc. This is a label I hadn't tried before, and it's worth grabbing if you find it. The approximate price is $16 or so. Raise a glass!

Rotllan Torra Priorat Reserva 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Big nose of rich spices, chocolate, and mixed berries

Dry and fruity on palate

Slightly thinner finish, moderate tannins, with red berries, chocolate, and dusty earth

This wine starts out big with a swirl of the glass as the rich spices and mixed berries provide a big bouquet. The palate and finish are noticeably drier than the nose would indicate, and that leaves something to be desired. I think this wine is just not very well integrated- who knows, maybe some more time will bring it together.

Priorat from Spain is almost always delicious, but prices are heading north too. As a result, I grabbed this thinking it might be a bargain at $20. If you're interested in Priorat, I recommend you try a different one and plan to spend a little more money to get a good representation of what's being done in this tiny, exotic region of Spain. Raise a glass to Priorat!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Chateau Richard 1993 wine review by (PB)

I bought this wine on a Boston bargain hunt and threw it into my temperature controlled wine keeper. I grabbed it the other night because it was an inexpensive wine ($12) and I wanted to open something different. This wine is from the Bergerac region of France which is comprised of Merlot and Cabernet Franc. I had no idea it was such an old wine which why I obviously bought it.

As I was pulling the cork I saw the "1993" on the cork and I was shocked.

The color of the wine is as expected of a 15 year old wine; a lighter brick hue with browning around the edges; the bouquet was amazingly pleasant with a bouquet of light cherry and something quite unique and pleasant which I never did identify.

The palate was thin and relatively tasteless with some olives and thin fruit but holding steady. It finished with plenty of earth and gravely dust, pencil lead and wood. Within 20 minutes the wine was shot.

Now I realize I bought it in the first place because of the price and the age that it had on it. It was well worth the $12 just to experience the transformation in the few minutes it was opened and reminds us that you don't breathe old wines for this very reason. If you wait, it may be gone by the time you drink it.

This was an education in wine and well worth the $12 investment. Raise a glass to a new wine experience.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Rancho Zabaco Sonoma Heritage Vines Zinfandel 2005 wine review by (PB)

This wine was bought on sale for $12 with a price tag of $16 regularly. It is a stunning wine with hefty black cherry color and cranberry jelly hues to the rim. The bouquet is wonderful with cinnamon and cloves and jammy dark fruit with a wild touch.

Tasting this wine, it is brimming with sweet tannins, spicy front palate and is well made and well integrated with dark fruit, more spice and sweet clove, with nuanced chocolate finish. This wine is just a super value with classic Zinfandel flavors, aromas and is just plain delicious!

Rancho Zabaco is impressing me greatly; raise a glass!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Gallo Family Winery Sonoma Reserve Zinfandel 2004

Nose: big fruit, stewed cherries and cola, small toasted coffee, basil

Palate: Thin but balanced. Not overly tannic. More of an old world style construction. Elegant. The mouth feel does not follow on the expectations of the nose. This isn't bad but it is unexpected.

Finish: thin fruit finish, green leaf parsley.

I paid about $10 for this and for that $10 you get a decent California Zin that presents first like your expected $10 fruit bomb, but the mouth feel is anything but your typical jammy fruit bomb. This is a sit down and drink me with pizza on movie night wine.

If your going to buy wine to impress the girl this Valentines day, spring for two bottles, make this the second one.

PB reviewed the 2003 back in '05. Read that review here.

Raise a glass

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Domaine Petite Chateau (Chardonnay) 2003 wine review by (PB)

This previously reviewed wine was too good to pass up when I ran across it again for $11. It is a Vin de Pays Du Jardin which means French and they always tend towards bargain wines. This is a winner.

It is light yellow on opening with a great bouquet of sweet fruit, cream, orange, and vanilla. I could just sit and smell this wine!

In the mouth there is a nice balance of citrus and vanilla with sweet, off-dry fruit that borders on finessed. The next time I am in Mass. and spy some more, its coming home to my cellar! Raise a glass to be sure!

Domaine De Valmoissine Pinot Noir 2005 wine review by (PB)

Typical light cherry Pinot hue with a bouquet of light berry/strawberry hints.
On the palate the wine is soft and tasty, well made with tight bright fruit that needs a little air.

After breathing a tad, there is a hint of milk chocolate with strawberry fruit on top. This wine is tasty, simple and delicious and best of all it is affordable. At $12, raise many glasses!

Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel 2005 wine review by (PB)

On the pour this wine is quite light in hue for a Zin with a wild cherry bouquet and blackberry core.

In the mouth this wine gives a good first impression of slightly spicy fruit and a unique mid-palate that needs some air.

It has decent Zin flavors upfront but tends to fade and yet leaves a lingering brambly touch at the end. For $12 it is a decent example of the grape. Raise a glass.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Miner Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Nose of blueberry, cedar, and spices

Mixed berry core, fairly dense

Moderate tannins with a chocolate and berry finish

Fairly dense and flavorful, this is a wine that seems well made. It has many of the components of a good Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon, but is missing the x factor. In other words, this wine is good, but not exciting. When I spend $130 on a bottle at a restaurant, it needs to be exciting. (the price you're likely to see in a store is $60).

Maybe it will be more exciting after laying in the cellar for a few years. Raise a glass to Oakville producers, but don't expect much x factor in this price range anymore!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Collemura Rosso Piceno wine review by (PB)

This Italian red is garnet in hue with a purple twinge. The bouquet is a yeasty, cherry to black cherry and slight licorice with a milk chocolate foundation; all subtle and in balance.

In the mouth this wine is tart and thinly textured and thin on flavor with steely notes and unidimensional. My first impression of this wine is "not very good." With some air there is a touch of black pepper but dies quickly. I wrote "pass on this wine" but then had the rest of it the next day. It was a much better wine and my wife and I finished the bottle with no problem. So I have to change my tune! It needs a lot of time to open up and its not a great wine by any means but it is much better than I thought and at $10; raise a glass.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Blue Fish Riesling 2006 wine review by (PB)

This German varietal from the Pfalz region of western part of the country is pale straw with a really wonderful bouquet of sweet robust ripe fruit and cream. I was eager to get this wine in my mouth but disappointment came quickly.

In the mouth the wine is clunky and struggles for identity. It fades quickly and finishes with an odd note. Germany is known for its wines of the Mosel Saar Ruwer first and foremost where quality Rieslings are produced and are delicious. The rest of Germany is pretty much a wash and the majority of wines are of the "table wine" variety.

The Nahe region can produce some tasty wines but again, they tend toward the mass produced table wines that remain in Europe.

Throw this bluefish back!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Balbas Barrica 2006 wine review by (PB)

My wife selected this Ribera Del Duero from Spain which is crafted from 100% Tinta Del Pais. This is a wine that is positively gorgeous to behold with such a vibrant garnet wine with a core of cranberry and black cherry hues.

It has a yeasty bouquet on opening with finessed fruit and light cocoa/milk chocolate scents underneath.

After uncorking the wine was tart in the mouth with closed fruit trying to break out.

With a half hour of breathing, the wine is a different wine with sweet notes and tight raspberry and dried cherry flavors with a touch of spice up front. It finishes with a hint of wood and turns out to be a very tasty wine. I paid $17 for it and would have been disappointed with the initial tasting which is why you need to develop a habit of breathing your red wines with few exceptions. The Ribera Del Duero is producing some good wines these days so check them out and raise a glass!

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

I reviewed this wine previously with consistent notes. It is a typical Pinot light hued red with cinnamon notes in the front.

In the mouth there is predominate raspberry with a touch of chocolate. This wine is fairly simple but very tasty with an oaky finish. When I reviewed it initially I had paid $12 for it and it was a nice wine at that price. I paid $8 for it this time and had I not screwed up the mail in rebate, my final price would have been $6. Unreal and a super bargain so worth pursuing and drinking to the new year! Raise a glass!!!

Book Review: The Red Wine Diet, by Roger Corder (NW)

Disclosure: This book was sent to The Wine Cask Blog compliments of Penguin Group, the publisher.

Is it just wishful thinking that wine drinkers generally are healthier and often live longer than people who don't drink wine on a regular basis? According to Roger Corder, the anwer is unequivocally no. This is not wishful thinking, but rather it's a fact rooted in measurable science.

Corder puts together the best explanation I've read for the potential health benefits of moderate consumption of red wine. And beyond that, he fully explores the French paradox that has inspired countless theories on diet, lifestyle, and happiness. The French paradox is simply that the French have relatively low levels of heart disease despite high saturated fat consumption. After extensive study on this topic, Corder has emerged convinced that red wine and other foods containing similar components do contribute to a healthier vascular system.

Much of the book is dedicated to laying out a guide for complete nutrition (of which red wine is just one component) and providing recipes to develop this approach. However, the nutrition guide only makes sense after understanding Corder's research. He does an excellent job of presenting his findings on the beneficial components of red wine and broadening his research beyond wine to show that foods such as berries, nuts, tree fruit, and spices carry the same benefit. These components are characterized as a type of polyphenol called procyanidins. Extensive research led Corder to better understand that some wines contain high levels of procyanidins, and this set him on a quest to discover wines from around the world that exhibit the highest levels. His journey through the world of wine took him from California to South America to Australia to Italy and on to France. In the process, he identified wines with high levels of beneficial procyanidins and developed a proprietary scoring sytem to segment them for the reader. This is the fun part of the book. After clawing through the chapters on the heavy science behind all this research, the reader gets to journey through the world of wine with Corder. He then seamlessly connects these wines to the broader guide to complete nutrition and a healthy diet.

If you enjoy a glass of red wine, you'll be intrigued by this book. Even if you don't drink wine but are interested in the science of nutrition and healthy eating habits, you'll find this book remarkably relevent.

Raise a glass!