Saturday, January 31, 2009

Atteca Old Vines Garnacha 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Blackberry, raspberry, herbs, and pepper on the nose

Full-bodied and herbal on the palate

Red berries and pepper on the finish

This could be a nice introduction to Spanish wine for some people. It's well balanced with fruit and herbal layers. At $15 or so, you'll be rewarded with a well-crafted Grenache. Raise a glass!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Veo Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 wine review by (PB)

Sweet ripe black berries with parsley, vegetal middle.

Palate--fleeting initial cinnamon or mint, with chewy tannins with big juicy plump berries galore. This is a phenomenal wine for $6.88 at Sam's Club and is absolutely delicious and varietal. Buy this sucker and raise a glass to awesome values out of Chile!

(A couple days after I posted this, My beloved went back to Sam's and bought another 1/2 case. Now that's an endorsement!)

Cristalino Brut CAVA (N.V.) wine review by (PB)

This Spanish sparkler has something going for it. This straw colored wine is comprised of the Macabeo 50%, Parellada 35% and Xarello 15% grapes yielding nutty cream aromas.

Palate--Really packed, pin point bubbles that give your mouth a clean zing! Flavors are light with subtle notes of citrus, dry as dust and a clean finish.

At under $8 where I shop, this is an all around sparkler. Raise a glass to cheap bubbly.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Santa Florentine Malbec wine review by (PB)

This is a Sam's Club value wine at under $6! From the Formatina Valley, this 100% Malbec is a pretty though light purple, tinted burgundy colored wine. Bouquet is nearly perfumy or pepper and sweet red fruit and powder.

Palate--texture is a bit thin with thin flavors of raspberry and is well made for what is there. At $5.88, this is an easy drinking wine that stood up to fried calamari and veal parmigiana with homemade pasta and pramagiana reggiano. Raise a glass!

Rosenblum Petite Syrah Heritage Clones 2006 wine review by (PB)

This $16 Syrah, previously reviewed wine is always delicious! Deep purple hue with a bouquet of rich dark chocolate and blackberry.

Palate--Thick, rich, ripe blackberries with baker's chocolate and loads of well balanced fruit. It is $16 and just plain tasty so raise a glass!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Swanson Oakville Merlot 2002 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Ripe berries, milk chocolate, and spice on the nose

Round, plush texture on the palate

Dark berries, plums, chocolate, and oak notes on the finish

Don't diss Merlot- just drink good ones! This is one of the most reliable Napa Valley Merlot's, and I recommend it as a wine to enjoy with red meat or a richly flavored pasta dish.

This 2002 tasted awefully good with lots of ripe berry and chocolate. The key is that it's not overly oaked, which can mask the fruit flavors. Rather, the oak treatment here lends balance and refinement, along with added spice nuances.

Expect to pay $32 or so, however you can often find it for less. Raise a glass!

Jaffurs Santa Barbara County Syrah 1997 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant red berries, spice, and light pepper notes on the nose

A rich, plush, texture on the palate and very relaxed

Smooth finish of wild red berries, tobacco, and spice

I was amazed how well this wine aged! I'm assuming it was well cared for by the restaurant where we ordered it. After all, they claim the largest wine cellar in New England at well over 100,000 bottles.

The other Syrah's I've had fover the past few years from Jaffurs were young, and they were all delicious. This was a unique opportunity to taste one of their wines nearly 12 years old. The bottle aging seemed to bring on some Rhone-style Syrah qualities, which made the wine interesting. I paid $47 for the pleasure, which was a real bargain in this case. Raise a glass!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 wine review by (PB)

This organic wine is a purple black cherry hue with a bouquet that is sweet, plummy, and full of ripe fruit with rich slightly herbal notes and bright berry gum drops--tantalizing!

Palate is juicy with a spicy front, edgy tannins that relax with some breathing time, dense fruit that is ripe and delicious with a blueberry finish.

This is a really nice cab in this style and for $12, it is hard to beat so raise a glass!

(NW) just reviewed this wine as well so be sure to scan his just below this entry.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dona Paula Los Cardos Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 wine review by (PB)

Purple with vibrant ripe plum and black cherry fruit, with bittersweet chocolate highlights and fruity rhubarb.

Palate--Sweet, smooth tannins with down right varietal flavors. At $8 this is a great value wine! Raise a glass and check out (NW's) post on the same wine!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bonterra Mendocino County Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Plum, red berries, chocolate, and an herbal layer on the nose

full bodied on the palate

smooth finish of black cherry, cola, and vanilla

I've enjoyed the past five or six vintages of Bonterra Cab and this is the best yet! And it's still a great deal at $13-14. Don't miss it- some wine shops tuck it away only in the "organic" section. Organically-grown grapes, great flavor, and still roughly the same price as the beginning of the decade- raise a glass!

Vasco Da Gama Reserva 2004 wine review by (PB)

Deep purple and black cherry color with a musty but fruity aroma of cherry and tobacco.

Palate--Initially a pepper and spice front.

With some air a complex bouquet with sweet hints of strawberry.

Palate--sweet, ripe, red berries with pepper, a little chewy but actually a very nice wine.

I grabbed this from a bargain bin where it sat for $6 or 2 for $10! If I lived closer to this store (Kappy's in Mass.) I would definitely buy three more. Raise a glass to surprise bargains!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Nathanson Creek Merlot (N.V.) wine review by (PB)

I grabbed this because it was CHEAP and I was unfamiliar with the producer. This is a non-vintage California sourced Merlot that is cranberry colored with a light bouquet of green peppers and some light fruit.

Palate--thin, watery, some light fruit and about the best I can say, is that it is not-offensive.

I paid $6.79 for a 1.5 liter bottle--That's basically $3.40 a bottle and honestly for the price, this is the kind of wine that you might serve at a party with your friends who have no clue about what they're drinking anyway. As I said, it is not offensive, and goes down pretty easily.

So raise a glass: just don't think of it is a Merlot--but rather as a "wine beverage." :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Abadia Retuerta 1997 wine review by (PB)

Sardon De Duero 65% Tempraillo 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot is still a purplish colored wine with spicy fruit and slight licorice with candied plum and black cherry aromas.

Palate--this is a well integrated wine that I guessed was 8-10 years old (it is 12 years old) with slight prunes on the rear palate finishing with a touch of olives.

This is a complexz, interesting wine that (NW) served me blind. He paid $17 for it and it is a nice wine with some life still left in it. I liked it and found the last remaining bottle at the store where (NW) bought the one he served.

I will keep it for another year or two and see how it changes. Raise a glass to interesting, older wines!

Centine Banfi 2006 wine review by Billy

Nose:musky oak and pine needle spice with luscious candied cherry and coconut husk. Delightfully layered and playful
Palate: big mouth feel with chewy tannins and plush fruit.
Finish: warm, long and spicy.

Overall a very nice Italian blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Toscana which makes this a super tuscan at very affordable prices ($14)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Heath Wines Southern Sisters Barossa Valley 2004 Shiraz wine review by Billy

Nose: earthy, jammy prunes, black pepper.
Palate: bold fruit-forward in the mouth. Very light tannins and acid are in good balance but definitely resting on the fruity core. Hints of oaky spice tease at the back of the palate and segue nicely to the finish.
Finish: Lingering with ripe strawberry and red apples.

Overall: a well crafted wine. Not as spicy or intense as some other shirazes but more elegant than other Australian's at this price point of about $18. A nicely accessible shiraz. It is fruity in the mouth without becoming a bomb. The 2004 Southern Sisters shows earthy character on the nose and has a pleasing finish.

Raise a glass!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bethel Heights Pinot Noir 2006 wine review by (PB)

I snagged this bottle while on a business trip to Charlotte last winter on the recommendation of the shop owner.

This is an Eola-Amity Hills Oregon Pinot that is light cherry in color with cocoa and raspberry aromas with touches of strawberry with slight minty and anise notes.

Palate--juicy spicy fruit of strawberry with crusty toast hints, a pleasant bitterness with lingering bright fruit galore.

This was just delicious easy drinking and at $30 a nice splurge! Raise a glass--and take advantage of those out of town business trips to find wines you don't normally see in your area!

Secco-Bertani 2005 Volpolicella Valpantena Ripasso wine review by (PB)

Medium garnet with nice dried cherry aromas;
palate--nice pie cherry front, well made but needs to breath...

After some air: Aromas of grapefruit and earthy notes.
Palate: Same as above finishing with dried red fruit.

This was $15 and it was "okay" but certainly nothing memorable. On the other hand I recently reviewed the Zenato Ripasso (same grape etc.) and it was a marvelous wine but it also cost nearly twice as much.

My advice--splurge and buy the Zenato--it is worth the difference! Raise a glass.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dona Paula Los Cardos Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

wild berries, cocoa, and a touch of mint on the nose

dense flavors and texture on the palate

moderately tannic finish of raspberry, chocolate, and cedar

Great value Cabernet from Argentina! This is a well-regarded Malbec producer who also does a nice job with Cab at a bargain price.

Interestingly, this is the first wine I opened in the new year- and shortly after my friend declared 2009 "the year of frugality". I paid $8 for the wine- how appropriate! Raise a glass!

Ajello Furat 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

wild berries, black licorice, and chocolate on the nose


smooth finish of dark berries, cocoa, vanilla, and oak

A number of wines from Sicily are decidedly modern, including this one. This is a full-bodied red blend of Nero D'Avola, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot with plenty of oak treatment.

If you're looking for a rustic Nero D'Avola, don't open this wine. However, if you're looking for big fruit and plush texture, this wine is well made and decently priced at $17 or so. Raise a glass!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 wine reveiw by (PB)

This central coast California Cab has a black cherry color with some intensity with dark berry and black cherry aromas with ripe plumb.

Palate--spice front with integrated flavors and tasty dark berry fruit with mocha and dark chocolate. I grabbed this because it was a new label at one of my main wine haunts. At the $10 price point it was tasty and pleasant. Raise a glass.

Mont-Pellier Pinot Noir 2007 wine review by (PB)

This California sourced Pinot is a purple cranberry hue with some depth. Strawberries and Pinot nose with sweet spicy raspberry hints.

Palate--fresh, fruity strawberry/raspberry palate with a delicate tartness that lends some life, finishing with some fruit.

Okay, here's the surprise--this is a very drinkable Pinot with some down right Pinot character and yet this wine cost a ridiculous $6. That's what I call a "value" wine! Raise a glass.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Rosenblum "Abba Vineyard" Syrah 2005 wine review by (PB)

This is another amazing wine from Rosenblum. This single vineyard Syrah from Lodi is just plain wonderful!

Deep black cherry hue with a bouquet of pure black cherry, cola, mint, and baker's chocolate with sweet banana chip notes--I kid you not. Wow.

Palate--Elegant tannins with a rich velvety texture bursting with berries, berries and more berries all integrated splendidly. This was GREAT with my venison roast and even at $25, it was a real treat and a value! Raise a glass!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Chateau St. Michelle Syrah 2002 wine review by (PB)

Dark black cherry hue with big fruity bouquet of minty black cherry and plum.

Palate--relaxed tannins with prevalent evergreen notes on top of dark berry fruit. Finishes a little quick. This Washington state wine is made in the popular style and is pleasant enough for the right mood.

For around $25, I'd rather spend it on something from K Vinters (also Washington state) or a Santa Barbara Syrah. Raise a glass.

Rosenblum Late Harvest Zinfandel--Rosie Rabbit Vineyard--2003 wine review by (PB)

Zinfandel a desert wine? If it's from the masters of the zen of the zinfandel grape--you betcha!

Dark black cherry pigmentation with raisin, currant, black cherry, coconut and prunes--and that's just in the bouquet.

Palate--rich, sweetness of each of the fruits mentioned above but all in wonderful harmony. This was a surprise.

I had only one other late harvest Zin (fromTemecula, Ca.) and it was not appealing.
Of the Rosenbluml I wrote in my journal, "Delicious! Delicious! It will run you around $24 for 375ml but I'd have to say it was, uh--delicious--so raise a glass!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Raise a glass to the WCB's fourth anniversary!

January 6th, 2005 was my first post to this new blog. Below is how it all started if interested. The popularity of our blog has surprised us. We try to stick to reviewing wine without a bunch of yada yada although I am the worst offender for what may be too much yada yada. It's just that the supreme enjoyment of wine is not merely what is in the bottle but whole experience of fellowship surrounding the event. And what is amazing is that you can have an "event" as mundane as a 3:00 snack, but add a bottle of wine, and it becomes an ocassion! I will resolve to temper my yada yada's without losing the experience. Raise a glass with us to a new year and we hope you visit us and leave comments--often.

How it all started:
It was 1979 and I was putting my time in at a hospital laboratory as a medical technologist. Someone brought in a magazine subtitled “The magazine for physicians at leisure.” On my breaks I would page through it because it had some really nice photos of far away places in gorgeous spots of the world. In one issue there was a feature titled, “The Ten Best Wines in America for under $10.”

Wine had intrigued me yet my exposure to the fruit of the vine had pretty much been relegated to the annual Thanksgiving sip my parents would serve of—sit down—Mogen- David wine. Even as a kid, I thought it had more in common with cough syrup than a drinkable beverage. That exposure is probably why I was much more a Guinness Stout kind of guy if anything at all.

Still, the mythical stories of the guy who could sit down with a glass of fermented grape juice in front of him and tell you the place it was made, the year it was made and the particular type of grape or grapes fascinated me. So, “What made a good wine, a good wine?”

Even I could afford a $10 bottle of wine every now and then so if the ones in the magazine represented the best in the country, I wanted to know what they tasted like and began to hunt down everyone I could. That was it; I was hooked. I joined a wine club called “Les Amis Du Vin” which means “Friends of the Vine” which entitled me to the wine of the month at a local dealer which meant I could get one bottle of the month’s selection for half price. That was the beginning of a lifetime pursuit of what has been an absolutely inexhaustible quest to understand wine. Do not misunderstand though, I am NOT a connoisseur but I do know a good wine from a mediocre wine from a bad wine. And I know a great value when I find one which these days abound! Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Chile are producing wines not by the hundreds or thousands of cases but by the hundreds of thousands of cases. With that kind of volume, phenomenal bargains are all over the place!

So if you are serious about pursuing wine beyond a bottle here and there, you have to subscribe to the Wine Spectator magazine. It will cost you $45 a year but is worth every penny. And will save you ten times that in a year by helping you to avoid over-priced and over-hyped wines. Their rating system is irrespective of a wine’s cost so when you see a wine that rates an 88 out of 100 scale and it costs $8 and then another wine that rates an 86 which cost $55; the savings are obvious. Til next time--