Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stags' Leap Napa Valley Petite Syrah 2005 wine review by Billy

Nose: Vanilla, young cherry, cinnamon & cedar hints
Palate: Perky tight tannins that are well balanced with a solid core. Young and will still age nicely.
Finish: young and tight with young raspberry undertones.

I paid about $36 for this bottle. I am pleased. Wonderful. Fair price. Will last nicely for several years.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Ravenswood Vintner's Blend Merlot 2006 wine review by (PB)

This Merlot has less heft than Merlot I posted just below this one. It has a core consisting more of cherry and plum with lighter blackberry fruit.

It is certainly a more relaxed wine than the previous but solid flavors and a decent wine for the sale price of $9 so raise a glass!

Marques Casa Concha Merlot 2005 wine review by (PB)

The gargantuan Chilean wine makers at Concha Y Toro are one of the most reliable new world producers of quality, value wine. This Merlot on sale for $11 from the normal $14-$16 is a big wine with a dark ripe blackberry jam, chocolate and plum nose.

In the mouth this wine is BIG with smoke on the front, intense flavors of dark ripe fruit with more smoke at the rear. It is made with a nice tannic structure with sweet tannins and full of rich plums. It is still immature and would benefit from another 1-2 years. I will buy another and lay it down to see how it progresses so raise a glass!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tapestry Shiraz 2006 wine review by Billy

Nose:Jammy plum and an almost sweet strawberry layer. Peppery, nutmeg and cedar spices are wonderful.
Palate: Warm balance that spreads evenly throughout the mouth giving a full, warm and spicy feel. Soft tannins that are well balanced against an even acid core makes this a delightfully well crafted and even drinking wine.
Finish:soft and slightly acidic. blackberry and plum with some chocolate and spice hints briefly make an appearance.
Overall: This is the bakers gully vineyard from Mclaren vale Austrailia. I paid about $26 for this bottle. A wonderful bottle at a moderate price. Definitely get a bottle or three to have on hand for nice dinners - even if you are dining alone. Worth it!

Kruger Rumpf Munsterer Riesling "Spatlese" 1997 wine review by (PB)

(NW) served this up blind to me which even though you sometimes (oftentimes?) end up looking pretty foolish, is a great way to hone your tasting skills. It forces you to really segregate the various aspects of wine tasting focusing on individual characteristics of the wine. It was pale straw and when saw the age of the wine I was pretty surprised as there was not even a hint of age in the color.

When I smelled it I confidently proclaimed it was obviously Austrian perhaps a Gruner or another classically Austrian grape. But when I tasted it I figured Riesling!

It presented with a very sweet bouquet of what I would describe as fuel oil over fruit. No one smelling the wine could figure out my description but I stick by my assessment readily acknowledging that I have been under tons of stress which carries certain physiological changes in one's ability to smell and taste so my smeller was probably not reliable. At any rate, the palate was classically Riesling and I stated so.

Very sweet palate with a foundation that was slightly less acidic than I would prefer but obviously enough to hold this wine for 12 years and probably a few more. (On contemplation, the illusion of lower acid is probably due to the maturity of the wine.)

This wine, from the Nahe region of Germany is prefumey with a powdery vanilla bouquet, lightly spritzig (sparkly) and an intersting quaff at the $30 price point. So raise a glass.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tempus Two Vine Vale Shiraz 2005 wine review by (PB)

Friends stopped up from Mass. for a visit to Maine and brought this wonderful gift with them. From the bottle itself to the classy medallion style label this wine is a winner. The bottle even feels elegant in your hand!

The wine is an intense black cherry hue with rich, ripe blackberry and plum aromas. .

Palate--Rich full bodied texture with dark fruit, berry flavors galore with hints of thick dark, unsweetened baker's chocolate and a touch of complex spice. Ends with a lingering finish of plush plum and blackberry jam. Probably find it around the $22 price point and a nice splurge so raise a glass!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rosenblum San Francisco Bay Heritage Clones Petite Sirah 2006 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Big nose of blackberry jam and chocolate

Rich and plushly textured on the palate

Dark berries, currants, and mocha layers on the finish

This is a big wine! I've reviewed each of the past three vintages and they've all been massive wines with big body and dark, slightly sweet flavors. Just make sure you're in the mood for a wine like this, and it's sure to please for $18 or so. Raise a glass!

Schloss Gobelsburg Zweigelt 2006 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Dark berries and pepper notes on the nose

Nicely textured, medium bodied

Finishes with berries, grapefruit, herbs, and pepper

Austrian Zweigelt is a nice change of pace in the red wine category. It's characteristics place it somewhere between Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Grenache, with a medium bodied and a peppery finish. This wine is particularly peppery, but it also has nice layers throughout.

Put it to the test with food- and it will stand up to a variety of dishes. I paid $18 for the wine at a specialty wine and cheese shop. Raise a glass!

Domaine De Bernier Chardonnay 2006 wine review by (PB)

Pale gold with super sweet bouquet of vanilla and minerals with marshmallow circus peanut hints, and apple notes.

Palate--Really FLAT, absolutely lifeless and just plain dull. The wine is strangled with almost no flavor, no structure, is slightly bitter and otherwise bad. It is possible that this wine is simply over the hill although for a Loire Chard. 2 1/2 years doesn't seem too old. Either way, I paid $9 but at any price, raise a glass of something else.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Chamarre "Tradition" 2003 wine review by (PB)

This desert wine by Charmarre from the Jurancon area of France, is utterly fabulous!

Rich yellow hue with amazing spice filled sweetness and fermented mandarin orange and butterscotch on the nose.

Palate--Sweet apricot nectar with pie spices, and great acid structure, with citrus layer and a velvety finish of lingering stone fruit.

I paid $14 for this half bottle and it is truly wonderful. If you see a bottle grab it and relish the beauty of a classic Sauternes worthy type desert wine. Raise a glass for sure!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Heidsieck & Co Monopole Blue Top Brut Champagne Wine Review by Billy

Nose: toast, truffles, and chamomile
Palate: bone dry, small bubbles and a fine balance that entices my whole mouth.
Finish: dry finish with lemon grass hints.

Overall: a find Non Vintage Champagne. The earthy - yeasty character makes this midpriced sparkler a great value. I paid about $30 for this bottle and we enjoyed it with Easter dinner.

Raise a Glass!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Terrai Garnacha 2006 wine review by (PB)

Light cranberry hue with unique red fruit, and light cherry notes.
Palate is harsh a little weird, but all around not impressive. This is now the third wine on the recommendation of the proprietor of a newly discovered wine shop.

I have not been impressed with any of the wines thus far...

I am a big fan of Grenache but this one is just awkward all around. I paid $14.29 for it and that was too much!

Chateau Pey La Tour 2005 wine review by (PB)

Opaque hue with rich dark berry fruit with chocolate front, black cherry and berry nose.

On opening the palate is tight and needs to breathe.

After an hour of air, there is a little earth, minerals fruit is still tight and would do well with another hour of air but this is a nice wine and a super value at $13!

Remember this is from the GREAT vintage of 05 and great vintages tend to need some time to open as they age very well and need oxygen to unlock what is there. Finishes with smokey charcoal. I would like to buy a few more of these if I can find them as they ought to continue to blossom for a few more years. Raise a glass to the inexpensive remnants of the greatest Bordeaux vintage in a century.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Sutter Home Chardonnay 2007 wine review by (PB)

My wife just shoved a glass of this in my face and I asked, "What is it?" She said, "I don't need to tell you." Which meant--"You tell me Mr. Smarty wine snobby pants!

I sniffed and noted the gobs of vanilla, light citrus and rather fragrant fruity aromas saying--Chardonnay, New World, 2007 Central Coast, Ca.

When I saw the bottle, I was truly surprised to see that it was Sutter Home. This wine costs $5 and the fact that I was able to identify such a varietal at this price point means that it is a well made, even if CHEAP wine, and indeed it is.

So, raise a glass to value wines!

Monday, April 06, 2009

La Vieille Ferme 2008 (white) wine review by (PB)

This name of wine has been a consistent super value wine every year since I have been reviewing it. Here is another super value. I paid $8 for it and at times you can find it for $6! This is from the Cotes Du Luberon and is a blend of Ugni Blanc, Grenache Blanc, Bourbelanc and Rousanne and emits a wonderfully ripe peary aroma that smells like fresh cut pears and sweet summer fruit like apricots. Really NICE.

Palate is NOT sweet but a wonderfully acidic off dry, fruity quaff that is just ridiculously refreshing.

This will cleanse the heaviest fat, butter, whatever right off your palate. A super value so raise a glass!

Palazzo Nero D'Avola 2007 wine review by (PB)

Light ruby hue with light but very bright red cherry fruit in the nose.

Palate--juicy core with cherry and minerals. At this price ($7) it is a "go to" wine leisurely quaffing and a wide variety of food.

Raise a glass! (Sorry I could not find a pic of the label.)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Chateau Moncontour Sparking Vouvray Brut NV Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Citrus notes and yeasty bread on the nose

Tart green apple core on the palate

Grapefruit, green herbs, and nuts on the finish

For a sparking wine off the beaten path, check out sparkling Vouvray made from Chenin Blanc. It has beautiful tight bubbles and interesting flavors of citrus, herbs, and nuts.

I paid $17 for this bottle after searching four or five wine shops for one. While you might not find sparkling Vouvray at the local liquor store, track one down when you have an opportunity. It's nice to get off the beaten path once in a while. Raise a glass!

Don Miguel Gascon Malbec 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Raspberry, plum, and grape on the nose

Medium bodied

Berries and herbs on the finish

This is one of the reliable value Malbecs that you're likely to find in the Argentina aisle. Weighing in at $11 or so, it's a decent value and has lots of company at that price point. I liked the 2007 better than this, though, as it seemed to have more weight. Regardless of that, this wine still delivers value for the money. Raise a glass!

Guenoc Victorian Claret 2006 wine review by (PB)

This north coast Calif. wine is a beautiful magenta hue with a tight nose that is wanting to yield up spice and cinnamon with black raspberry notes, some wood, a little sweet tobacco and is really lovely but needs a few minutes to open.

Palate--hints of chocolate up front with lush dark berries and more chocolate at the rear. Tannins are sweet and almost elegant!

This is a super value Cabernet easily worth twice the $13 I paid at a Whole Foods Market. Raise a glass and store a couple bottles away.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Castano Monastrell 2007 wine review by (PB)

Real time review:
I just opened this Spanish varietal and the bouquet floats from the glass about a foot and a half to my nose with light milk chocolate and red fruit. On the swirl there is a little spice and some herbal hints and then a fairly awkward aroma I would describe as stinky fruit.

Palate--Cinnamon and green first impression with hot, shallow flavors with a finish that is once again herbal and a bit clunky. Some of this might relax as it has time to open.

Okay--15 minutes later (not a great deal of time but...) indeed it has relaxed a bunch and is fairly "okay." The bouquet reminds me of a dirty urinal (I was a janitor MANY years ago as a teenager) and yet--this will sound weird to be sure--it is a sweet, fruity, dirty urinal kind of smell that is a bit intriguing.

I'm sure the folks that make this wine are thrilled with this review--but the Monastrell grape tends to be a bit like this. And if my description of the odor seems positively negative, remember that some very classy Pinot Noirs are sometimes described as having a barnyard like smell on opening!

So, at $8, if you enjoy Monastrell, you should enjoy this. Raise a glass but maybe wear a handkerchief over your nose. :)

Post real-time review reflections: The wine is considerably better and just needed time to air out. The nice "urinal" smell I mentioned in the real time review is gone and this turns out to be a very decent wine! Moral of the story: be sure to breath even cheap red wines; it can mean a BIG difference!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Layer Cake 2008 Shiraz Wine Review by Billy

Nose:jammy blackberry and plum with some spice and loam
Palate: Limp and flabby in the mouth
Finish: weak finish

Overall: I paid about 17 for this and an unsatisfied. For a South Australian Shiraz at that price point it should have a bigger mouth feel instead of being like a cold wet noodle. The big fruit forward nose is heavy on the fruit and too light on the spice that should accompany a big shiraz.

If you see this in the bargain wine rack, maybe think about buying it, otherwise pass it by.

Either way, raise a glass!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Terra Unica Reserva 2002 wine review by (PB)

This Spanish bargain is 70% Tempranillo; 30% Monastrell with a slightly aged reddish hue. Pronounced tart cherry and sweet dark fruit with a slight hint of spices mark this value's bouquet.

Palate--Juicy, slightly sweet with smooth mature tannins and integrated fruit and tart cherry highlights. It is lighter in body with fleeting flavors.

We have reviewed earlier vintages of this wine with equally good results. the blend then was slightly different with a 50/50 blend of the varietals. For $7--yes $7--you should raise a glass! (Label shown is for the 2000 but is the same)