Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dona Paula Chardonnay 2007 wine review by (PB)

This Chilean Chard. is a light straw with pronounced aromas of vanilla cream and marshmallow circus peanut candy with citrus notes.

Palate--This Chilean is a little flabby but full flavored with citrus, candy cream tastes. It lingers for quite a while.

All in all it had real potential but the lack of acid kills this wine for me. It becomes a bit of a chore to drink more than a glass. Chile has some nice Chard values and Dona Paula makes a wonderful bargain Cabernet but pass on this Chard. and try another year!

Garnacha De Fuego "old vines" 2007 wine review by (PB)

Purple hue with big, plummy, dark fruit aromas.

Palate--nicely textured, fruit filled plummy and drinkable. This Spanish Grenache at the $8 price point is just uncomplicated, well made easy drinking so raise a glass.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tapestry 2005 Chardonnay McLaren Vale wine Review by Billy

Nose: soft apple crisp and butter cream with daisy floral scents
Palate: good acid structure allows this 2005 Chardonnay to stand up on its own.
Finish: Citrussy finish without grassiness that is nice.
Overall: I paid 7.99 for this wine that was on the 1/2 price shelf at the local wine mart. Chilled it is a nice late summer wine. At the price point I found it for it is a steal. At $12 it is a fair price, at 16 or more you'll get a good wine at a premium price point.

Still, Raise a Glass to bargains and summer's decrescendo!

Beaulieu Vineyards Pinot Noir 2007 wine review by (PB)

My wife grabbed this at Sam's Club for under $5. Turns out it is a Vin De Pay D'oc sourced from the Languedoc which is full of bargain wines. This venture by the West Coast masters at BV has cherry aromas in a purple hued base with savory spices to boot.

Palate-uncomplicated, thin texture with cherry and plum hints and later seems to bring up a light cocoa note all of which finishes pleasantly and lingers quite a bit. Now let's get serious--for under $5, this is a wine you can serve to your friends as an all purpose appetizer accompaniment or put a light chill on it as an aperitif. Raise a glass at any rate!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Grail by Brian Doyle--book review by (PB)

Author Brian Doyle tags along with Jesse Lange of Lange Winery in the production of its specialty--Pinot Noir taking you to the fields, the tasting room, the winery and finally to the bottling of another vintage of the finicky grape.

Doyle's writing style is absolutely unique as he utilizes the run-on sentence in masterful fashion in such a way that works and only adds to the feel of relentless busy-ness that marks the daily routine of the winery and even though my English teachers and my own editors would have never let an article of mine presented in such fashion off their desk, Doyle makes it work. :)

Of the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir which is reviewed below this entry, Doyle writes; "[It's] the work horse of the winery, the foot solider,the flag bearer. It's the one they sell the most, the one that generally is the general public's introduction to Lange Winery. It's a cheap paradox Pinot: It's the cheapest but its not cheap. It is the least renowned but it reflects the most craft. it draws the least applause but should arguably draw the most." pg.194-95

The Grail
was delightful reading and I finished it while sipping the aforementioned wine and subsequently reviewed wine and it just doesn't get any better than that except for perhaps tasting it at the winery with the makers explaining their craft. Raise a glass to the folks at Lange and wineries everywhere who don't simply make a beverage--they create a potable and palatable piece of art!

Lange Pinot Noir 2007 wine review (PB)

At the risk of you losing you--the reader--I HAVE to explain a few things about this wine regarding its background. Stay with me!

I have been reading a book called The Grail by Brian Doyle in which he chronicles a season in the life of the folks of Lange Winery in Oregon. So I set out to find a bottle of their Pinot Noir which is what they are known for.

I would look for it on each business trip I would take and when I would travel out of state. I was never successful until this June when I was in Minneapolis on business. Billy (of this blog) went into a wine shop in Excelsior Minnesota and EUREKA! I found this bottle of their lowest tiered Pinot. I paid $25 for it which is significantly above the internet price of the upper teens.

That didn't matter as you would have thought I found one of the Jefferson bottles of Lafite...

This Pinot is sourced from Willamette valley fruit and presents with a cherry/black cherry hue with candied cherry aromas from afar. The nose has elegant spice highlights and sweet celery.

Palate--This is cleanly made, gentle berry flavors that are fairly fleeting. It has a nice mouth feel and is artistically made.

After taste--is delicate but almost a candy apple note.

Wine is unlike any other beverage. It is a total experience and spending a year with the folks that made this wine--even in the pages of a book--I can only hope of finding one of their single vineyard Pinots on one of my travels in the future. Raise a glass and pick up The Grail! (you can read a review of the book in the post just above this one)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Castello Romitorio Brunello di Montalcino 1999 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Gorgeous nose of spicy plum, currant, leather, and tobacco

Round, smooth, and spicy on the palate

Relaxed finish with black cherry, smokey notes, and sweet spice

Here's a really nice Brunello experience. This wine is now a decade old and drinking beautifully. It has nice integration of flavors with a traditonal core of flavors wrapped in modern sweet spice. Bring it up toward room temperature and you'll love the texture.

I enjoyed a bottle of this recently with friends, and we felt we got a pretty good deal. We paid $98 at a charming Italian restaurant. Seeing as this wine goes for $60-80 retail and is not widely available any more, that was a decent price. Raise a glass!

Hiedler Loss Gruner Veltliner 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant citrus, stone fruit, and mineral tones woven throughout bouquet

Lean, tight, and focused on the palate

Clean and crisp finish with more stone fruit and mineral layers

This wine starts out very lean and focused, then it evolves a bit with some time in the glass. I recently enjoyed a bottle with colleagues at Aureole in New York. We paid $48- a considerable mark up for a $17 wine. This is more and more common for the lower priced wines on restaurant wine lists. In general, be careful with that. In top restaurants it's a little easier to swallow. Fortunately, in this case, so was the wine. Raise a glass!

Marques De Casa Concha Merlot 2005 wine review by (PB)

I discovered Concha Y Toro many years ago and this Chilean winery is consistently putting out quality quaffs. And each year the price of their wines seems to escalate a bit. So when I found this at a state liquor store for $13 (normally around $18) I grabbed a couple bottles.

In the glass it has dark, nearly black intense hue with vegetal aromas of green pepper, dark fruit, loaded with ripe black berries, cola and cedar notes--really nice and big.

Palate--nice texture with balanced flavors of dark berries galore, some cedar, wood, herbs and structure that is well made and could use a couple more years easily.

Needs a savory, big dish to go with it or be in the mood for a lip smacking big boy wine and raise a glass!

Rosenblum Zinfandel Vintner's Cuvee wine review by (PB)

Rosenblum is the Zin master of Zinfandel producing some 25 or so different Zinfandels. This is their ubiquitous table wine variety that runs around the all too common $10 price point.

The wine has a medium heft with a garnet hue and sweet aromas of berries that are spicy and fragrant.

Palate--Medium bodied with relatively gentle berry fruit and a little spice and a finish that lingers a bit.

I have had probably around a dozen of the single vineyard Zins and each one is better than the next. They range anywhere from the high teens to the fifties but most seem to hover around the $25-$30 price point and they are well worth it. So treat yourself to a quality Zinfandel and raise a glass to yours truly when you do!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Whitehall Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2007 wine review by Billy

Nose: Creamy Pear, butterscotch and nutmeg with an oaky vanilla spice. Lovely
Palate: tartly acidic that takes "crisp" a touch too far. Muted a bit as the wine warms to become steely. Needs strong food pairing to make it work otherwise unbalanced.
Finish: bitter at the sides with a dry feel to finish. Again, needs a good food pairing to mute the effect
Overall: I paid about $13 for this wine. The nose is delightful and with a meal this Sauvignon Blanc can be a nice complement. If you are wanting a decent Sauvignon Blanc or even just a dry white the Whitehall Lane 2007 Sauvignon Blanc is a solid choice. If you are serving something to stand on its own, make a different selection.

Either way, Raise a Glass!

Campos Reales Tempranillo 2007 wine review by (PB)

This $8 Spanish varietal is hefty with nice dark blackcherry hue and a bouquet that is jammy with rich aromas of black berries, and plum and black cherry as well and maybe some pomegranite too.

Palate is robust with baked bread, fruit, rich mid palate and even if a bit harsh, this tastes pretty good and at this price seems a nice value on opening. We'll see what happens with a some air.
With a little breathing there is just more of the same with a touch of cinnamon and pepper finiahing with a pleasant fruitiness so raise a glass!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Shafer "Red Shoulder Ranch" 2006 Napa (Carneros) Chardonnay wine review by Billy

Nose: lightly oaky, banana, apple and citrus flower spice. Pleasantly minerally and expertly layered.
Palate: Even and crisp and dry. Old world style chardonnay lacking the butter cream weight of a chard bomb but rather presenting a lovely and sophisticated elegance of steely feels, cleansing acids and crisp mouth play. An ever so slight spritzig adds a hint of playfulness and elegance to this even wine.
Finish: lingering and enjoyable. Lasting with hints of pear and summer grasses.
Overall: I paid about $35 for this bottle of wine which was a fair price though no bargain. its elegance and simplicity makes it almost understated. It is the supporting actor who steals the show. An enjoyable bottle with an unpresuming character. Write the name down or text "Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch 2006 Chard" to yourself lest you forget this wine after you drink it.

Raise a Glass!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fetzer Gewurztraminer 2007 wine review by (PB)

Summer hit us here today in Maine with temps in the near 90's. For us--that's scorching! So it's always a treat to put a real chill on some Gewurztraminer and sip it on a hot day. This one is brimming with peachy/apricoty, sweet spices.

Palate--lively, spritely on the tongue with sweet wonderful stone fruit tastes with nice balance of acid and sweetness. Chill it well and raise a glass before the frost appears yet again all too soon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Story Teller Syrah 2008 wine review by (PB)

On the Sangria theme from the last entry, my wife took my advice to heart and sent me out to get another "cheap" wine to make Sangria. I grabbed this wine for $7.

Strained aromas of light tobacco and berry fruit.

Palate--really flat, lifeless, tasteless, and hot. Buying it for Sangria was a good move! Raise a glass...of Sangria!

Falling Star Merlot/Malbec 2008 wine review by (PB)

This is a "Whole Foods" wine from Cuyo Argentina produced by the solid wine makers at Trapiche. The bouquet of this wine is the best part with fruity, spicy almost perfumy aromas. It is all in the dumper from there.

Palate--awkward, edgy, bitter, flawed and PLONK. I suggested my wife make Sangria out of it. This is a $6 wine which is no excuse. This falling star fell out of favor from the get go. Avoid it, unless you're making Sangria.

Domaine De La Citadelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 wine review by (PB)

This Rhone which is a Vin de Pays de Vaucluse presenting with a garnet/black cherry hue and a bouquet on opening that is a little vegetal with dried cherry on top with sweet cherry underneath with notes of prune and raisin. Pretty interesting...

Palate--finessed texture with currant and tight red fruit that needs to be decanted. Peppery foundation with harsh tannins. If this opens up and calms down, it could be a special wine at $13.

After giving it some time in a decanter there is the under layer of sweet cherry fruit that is gorgeous with woody, spicy dried cherries.

Palate--tannins are still a bit coarse, but decent fruit, some layers and for a $13 wine, raise a glass and grill that steak with it as I am doing at the moment. Ahhh, summer!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Covey Run Riesling 2008 wine review by (PB)

Straw hue with big nose of tropical fruit, citrus Meyer lemon and cream.

Palate--lively spritzig, tropical fruit flavors, nice acid, off dry, sensational summer quaff. this previously reviewed wine is still $8 and you cannot beat it.

Great as an aperitif and great with hard to pair foods like spicy, Indian or oriental cuisine.
Raise a glass!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Etoile Rose NV Cuvee by Moet & Chandon wine review by Billy

Nose: muted nose of crisp citric acid, cinnamon, fig paste and daisy flowers
Palate:very dry with good acidity. Uneven bubbles that dissipate quickly in the glass to spritzig but not a bubbly.
Finish: Grassy, citric acid comes back
Overall: In a trumpet it appears as a muted brickish rose. I paid about $35 for this bottle and am disappointed. It has all the character of a flat bottle of soda pop. Promising fizz on the pour but quickly evaporating sparkle leaves you with a mediocre cuvee wine in your glass that you wish had room for something else.

Raise a glass of something else for the money (white star by Chandon for instance). AVOID and don't waste your money.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay 2008 Sonoma wine review by (PB)

Light golden hue with pronounced of aromas full of creamy, almost floral, citrus with vanilla hints a slight touch of pineapple and tropical fruit.

Palate--nice rich texture, racy acidity, a touch of the bitters, with vanilla pudding, sour orange, and an interesting touch of smoke on the finish. It is a quick wine with fleeting character but is a great food wine and palate cleanser for fatty foods. Now, I see this wine around in the low teens but I found it on sale in New Hampshire for $8 a bottle. At that price, raise a bottle and stock up with more!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Laguna Canyon Winery "Wyland" Limited Edition Super Tuscan 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Big nose of sweet cherry, plum, leather, and lots of cinnamon and other spices

Round and rich on the palate

Wild red berries, maraschino cherries, and more spice on the finish

Friends brought this bottle back from a visit to the Laguna Beach, CA, area. It's a very small production wine that they enjoyed in the tasting room and wanted to share back home.

Crafted as a true "Super Tuscan" blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, this wine delivers Italian nuances and big, bold California layers. Here's a huge wine that's a true new world Super Tuscan. If you can find a bottle, it will run you about $35. Raise a glass!

Di Majo Norante Contado Aglianico 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant bouquet of spicy plum and cherry on the nose

Full bodied, richly textured

Relaxed finish of spicy cherry, plum, currants, and leather

This wine is a nice surprise upon opening. It delivers a fragrant bouquet and a well-integrated and relaxed finish.

Produced in the Southern Italy region of Molise, it's crafted by a producer known for well made wines from native grape varietals. I paid $14 "on sale" with a listed price of $20. (This review is for the 2001, however the 2003 label is shown). Raise a glass!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Feudo Arancio Syrah 2006 wine review by (PB)

Black cherry hue with bouquet of dark fruit and choclate notes and slightly vegetal. Palate is a bit rough with a nice texture though and actually tastes like a rustic wine with some character. Wine Spectator gave this $8 wine 81 points and that is fair.

But it tastes better and will be better with food. Not a good example of Syrah but raise a glass with friends who don't know any better. :)