Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sean Minor "4B" Pinot Noir Napa Valley Carneros 2007 wine review by (PB)

This wine was sent to the WCB without charge, for review.
Crystalline garnet color that almost shimmers in the glass; Gently spiced Pinot aromas are pleasant with light cocoa, and strawberry being prominent.

Palate--Minerally first impression with edgy acidity and almost candied, strawberry and raspberry notes. It delights to the end with a milk chocolate finish and chocolate covered cherries.

The reference point on this wine is $17. This is a classy if simple Pinot Noir and for the price, a nice gift for someone cutting their teeth on wine exploration. I haven't seen these wine in my neck of the woods (Maine/New Hampshire) but if you find them around you, they are worth a shot! Raise a glass and check my previous review of another Sean Minor wine.

Pepperwood Grove Old Vine Zinfandel 2005 wine review by (PB)

My wife grabbed this off the shelf of a local grocery store one evening when she wanted something to drink and I was not at home. She paid a whopping $7 for it. Pepperwood Grove is produced by the Sebastiani family; wine makers with a long and outstanding reputation.

This inexpensive wine has some depth of color with Zinfandel aromas. (Before you say, "Duh..." varietals at this price point do not often taste like what they are made from!) But this one actaully has some rustic berry notes in the bouquet. Surprising!

Palate--lacks structure, seems a bit flat and my first impression was to "pass" on this wine. But as it was open it did change some and was actually a pretty darned drinkable Zin. This too is rather amazing since a wine at this price point should be on its way out at nearly 5 years old but it is still improving.

Now this is not a knock your socks off quaff, but C'mon! $7? Raise a glass!
(I had my wife grab another one the next time she went to the store!)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne Review by Billy

Nose:Nutty, Walnut husk, Toasted Roll and Apple.
Palate:More nuttiness on the palate. Ragged bubbles in a flat and limp feeling mouth disappoint.
Finish:straw and baked apples.
Overall:I am disappointed. For the price I expected something more refined and elegant. While the nose on this Bollinger special cuvee is really wonderful, the ragged construction leaves much to be desired. For the price raise a glass of something else.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Saint Cosme Cotes-du-Rhone 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Layers of red fruit, herbs, and lots of resin on the nose
Smooth and focused on the palate
Finishes with currants and pepper

This wine has loads of resin aroma on the nose, almost to the point of being distracting. Many wine critics have adopted the term "garrigue" to describe this quality found in Rhone wines and others from Southern France. It's very appealing in the right context, when paired with earthy dishes like those of French country cooking.

If you're looking for that style, this wine is clearly well made and a bargain at $13-15. I must admit that I prefer other styles of Rhone reds, particularly those that have sweet spice layers, fig, and plum. With that said, Saint Cosme is a producer of top notch Rhone wines that please many palates. Raise a glass to "garrigue" in a bottle!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Marchesi di Barolo Barolo Cannubi 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Cherry, leather, and spice bouquet slow to open on the nose

Moderately dense and smoky on the palate

More cherry and leather on the finish with herbs and tobacco

Well, don't drink this yet if you have some at home. If you see it on a restaurant wine list, take a pass and come back five years from now.

At a recent business dinner, we opened a magnum of this wine which ran us $230 but we never got to fully enjoy it. It was so slow to open that even though we sipped on it for a couple hours it just didn't develop much. This is a classically-produced Barolo that can take quite some time to develop in the bottle, so we probably shouldn't have even ordered it. For younger Italian wines grab something from Tuscany instead. Raise a glass to the mystery of aging wines!

Truchard Carneros Roussanne 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Note: 2003 label pictured is the same as the 2005

Tasting notes:

Pineapple, honey, and butterscotch on the nose

Full-bodied and richly textured

Nicely layered finish with apricot, honey, and fig

Here's a beautiful alternative to Chardonny when you want to go off the beaten path. This wine is full-bodied with terrific texture. The layers of fruit and honey are seamless.

It runs about $20 or so and is worth seeking out. This winery produces tremendous value in the bottle. Raise a glass!

Chateau Greysac 2004 wine review by (PB)

This Cru Bourgeois is a garnet black cherry hue with a bouquet that has distinctive aromas with cherry berry hints on a baker's chocolate layer with floral notes and darker fruit beneath.

Palate--this wine is relaxed, drinkable, classic Bordeaux style and is drinking very well. It finishes a little green with relaxed tannins.

This is one of those wines that just keeps improving the longer it stays open but then its gone.

It runs $13-$24 on line and it is a very decent wine even at the $24 mark. Raise a glass!

Chateau Ste.Michelle Merlot 2004 wine review by (PB)

Washington State wines from Ste. Michelle are the patriarchs of the Pacific Northwest. Waaaaay back in the early 80's I visited this up and coming winery while living in Seattle. It is not only a beautiful facility but these folks are another one of those wine makers who know how to do it right. They are always in the shadows producing solid everyday wines that are affordable and tasty.

This Merlot is a purple, black cherry hue with plum, black berry, blue berry and wood notes.

Palate--licorice, black pepper, fruit forward in the popular style with vegetal notes, integrated and will hold another 3-5 years. All around well made at the popular price point of $12. Raise a glass.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gaetano D'Aquino Chianti Riserva 2004 wine review by (PB)

This is one of the great value wines of 09. I paid an absurd $7 for this and is superior. Great bouquet of chocolate with black pepper, spice, cherries, and with a little air, cinnamon arises.

Palate--Nice Sangiovese traits on a well made foundation with more cherry and a super value so raise a glass. This is a truly classic Tuscan varietal and should cost twice this much if not more! If I am able to get down to Boston where I found it, I am stocking up!

(Later addition 11-7-09; I just returned from a quick trip to Boston expressly to buy more of this wine! What does that mean? $14 in tolls; $35 in gas; 8 hours of driving. ) I grabbed a case as well as a few more treasures. Now THAT's raising a glass!)

Beaujolais Cru "Chiroubles" G.Duboeuf 2006 wine review by (PB)

This Gamay has a magnificent bouquet unlike any Beaujolais I have had. The aromas remind me of Nebbiolo rather than Gamay with wonderful pipe tobacco notes.

Palate--Subtle peppery with amazing flavor that would stump me if I were tasting it blind. This is what Beaujolais Cru is about. Each parcel is unique and this is a nice treat so raise a glass at only $11.

LaFinca Malbec 2009 wine review by (PB)

Light purple in hue with fruity, sweet cherry and almost perfumey aromas. Reminds me of "kit" wine...

Palate--Simple straightforward, sweet palate, fruity, very drinkable but not very varietal. Pleasant as a beverage and for $4 at Trader Joe's what can you expect. A good party wine with non-discriminating friends so raise a glass.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bogle Phantom 2006 Wine Review by Billy

Nose:Jammy Blackberry, Charcoal and tar, heady oak.
Palate:Very oaky in the mouth with rich tannins that overpower the acid under structure. Thick and hearty. Brawny but lacking elegance.
Finish: Short lived with some green Thistle stems and plum
Overall:A blend of 54% petite sirah, 43% zinfandel and 3% mourvedre. I paid $19 for this wine. It is a beefcake of a wine. All muscle and brawn and power and no brain. Fruit and Oak forward and ready to serve with raw steaks, burgers or charred anything. A nice full hearty Bearded Man of a wine. Be sure to serve it with the appropriate fare. A dainty wine this is not. Perfect for Fall and Winter. Raise a Glass!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Clary Ranch 2006 Pinot Noir Sponsored Wine Review by Billy

Nose:Earth and asparagus, juicy strawberry and cherry notes. Moist tobacco leaf Multilayered and fine.
Palate:Expertly balanced and crafted. Juicy feel, light flavors of strawberry flavors. WONDERFUL!
Finish:Short and complex. A movie finale that doesn't overdo the credits.
Overall:This wine was provided free of charge to us at The Wine Cask Blog for review. It is a lucid but mature brick red approaching brown at the edges. Showing age but drinking very well now. Though showing older, the wine has a youthfully spry taste and nose. Remarkable. This Clary Ranch 2006 Pinot Noir is a delight of a very approachable wine with complexity and crafting to satisfy the expert wine drinker while retaining a very drinkable flavor profile to invite the wine novice. While this wine was provided free to us, it retails online for $30-$40 a bottle.

Don't judge a store by its window by (PB)

On the recent wine hunt to Boston I mentioned previously, our last stop of the day was a rather small, and clunky looking liquor store with the posters and signs of a multitude of brands essentially covering the entire store front. (NW) said, we'll run in here--it should take about ten minutes--based on the appearance of the place and then we'll grab lunch. (Note--the pic is NOT the store; it is supposed to be humorous making a point)

We entered and spent the next hour or more in utter disbelief of what we found. Not only was their selection extremely intelligent, novel and large but they had the best prices by far of anywhere we had been.

(NW) and I were amazed as we held one bottle after another up to each other laughing saying, "Can you believe this?" On one aisle there was a bottle of 1986 Lafite for a cool $1200 and then a few feet away, an $8 Aussie.

We stocked up--happy as wine devotees in a winery--and went and grabbed lunch. So be careful, sometimes that nasty looking liquor store can be a treasure trove of gems! Raise a glass to Rapid Liquors in Stoneham,Ma.!

Monday, October 19, 2009

LaBoure-Roi Syrah 1999 wine review by (PB)

A couple times a year (NW) and I take a stroll around Boston hunting for wine bargains, wine oddities and close outs. A couple weeks back we hit four or five stores; all but one previously visited. Brookline Liquor Store has a great selection, a knowledgeable staff and you pay for it. But you recoup the markup if you buy 6 bottles receiving a 20% discount.

In one of the closeout stands, I found this lone bottle magnum of 10 year old Syrah. It was $13 with a sticker on it to take off 25%. That' s just too stinking cheap to pass up even it turns out to be"bad." I was banking on the large bottle format which tends to preserve wines better.

I opened it for a group of friends we had over the other night.

The presentation was showing its age with some bricking (brick red coloration which is what happens as red wines get old) but it still had plenty of life in it as well with a faint black cherry hue also still visible.

The bouquet was promising with a distinct coffee aroma upon opening but left immediately yielding to cream and fruit with subtle sweet soap and pipe tobacco.

Palate--the moment of truth; this wine was fully integrated, wonderfully mature, balanced in all ways with light fruit, evolving minerally tastes and steely finish.

This bottle was polished off quickly and was a great find on our hunt--certainly the best value of the endeavor. A Vin De Pays D'oc Syrah, ten years old at a cost of what equals $5 a bottle. How can you say anything but "Raise a glass?"

Cathedral Ridge 2006 Syrah Sponsored Review by Billy

Nose:Hearty spice of cracked black pepper, charcoal, cherries and plum. Big and bold and wonderful.
Palate:Big rich mouth feel with hearty tannins and a fine acid balance. Tobacco earth and smoky oak flavors. Huge.
Finish: Lingering with sour cherry notes and some green stem at the back.
Overall:This wine was sent to The Wine Cask Blog for free to review. The 2006 Cathedral Ridge from Oregon is HUGE! A wonderfully hearty and spicy syrah that retains a sense of the land. No fruit bomb here. A well crafted Oregon wine that delivers on big flavors and feels. Served with a hearty wild rice soup, home baked bread and butternut squash. A fantastic accompaniment to a hearty fall meal. On the Cathedral Ridge website this wine goes for about $32 a bottle.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

4 Bears 2008 Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County Sponsored Wine Review by Billy

This wine was provided to The Wine Cask Blog free of charge in exchange for a review.
Nose:Floral with tropical fruit hints in a soft layer underneath the initial smell. Pineapple.
Palate: Very soft acids make for a Weak structure and flacid mouth feel. However, a good flavor composition remains. Evenly balanced topical fruit notes.
Finish: Lingering tropical fruit and floral flavors with peach and mango notes in the back.
Overall: Very pale yellow in the glass for a soft glow. This wine has a very nice flavor makeup and an elegant nose. My only complaint is the lack of acids that would make this a great wine. Great to serve as an aperitif with cheeses and nuts. Avoid serving this with a main fish or butter/cream pasta course as there is not enough structure to cut through the oils. While we did not pay for this bottle, I have seen it online in the $7-$15 range. It is a fair price for this wine.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Coppola Black Label Claret 2007 wine review by (PB)

Purple tinged garnet hue with some depth, this gift wine has a bouquet that is big and nice full of dark fruit with plenty of ripe blackberries, plum, black cherry with touches of pipe tobacco and cedar.

Palate--young and vibrant, good solid fruit, herbal notes with some spice, fairly mellow tannins and a good foundation. This wine will age well for 3-5 years perhaps even longer. Finishes well and hardy. (I will be paring it with what else? Grilled marinated steak and roasted root vegetables.)

Claret is the British name for the classic Bordeaux blend which is typically Cabernet Sauvignon based and blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec.

Coppola is one of those vintners that just seems to produce quality wines at value prices no matter what they put their hands on and this is no exception! As a gift from some local uber- goobers--raise a glass!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gemtree Vineyards Tadpole Shiraz 2008 wine review by (PB)

Realtime review:
This McLaren Vale Aussie varietal is a dense black cherry hue with more black then cherry. Blueberry pie aromas with fragrant floral notes, celery, sweet candy and even on this un-breathed, too chilly a wine, the bouquet is promising. Loaded with scents, it needs to warm up a bit. While warming, more wonderful aromas rise with rose blossoms with a touch of minty greenness, and eucalyptus. All that's missing is a koala bear... Wow!

Palate--huge, full bodied, weighty, and dense textured. This wine is soft caressing your mouth. There are loads of fruit on a structure that is nicely done. This could have been a 20 megaton fruit bomb but instead is just a pleasing, BIG, tasty wine that doesn't seem to finish. It just keeps going on and on.

Tie me kangaroo down sport! You can find me out by my billabong raising a case of this value treat. $11 has never bought so much wine. Impressive! I will serve it up with some homemade venison chili! Here's to my frogophilic grandson in Minneapolis!!!

Friday, October 09, 2009

4 Bears Sean Minor Central 2007 Coast Chardonnay wine review by Billy

This wine was provided free of charge to the Wine Cask Blog for Review.
Nose:Fresh and fruity tropical Apricot, Peach, and nutmeg on the nose.
Palate: soft but notable acids that blend seamlessly for a textured feel. Noticable tropocial pitted fruits. More of an old world elegance feel in the mouth with aluminum notes hinting of the central coast regions the grapes come from.
Finish: An unusually long and excitingly pleasant finish from this chardonnay. Elegant and subtle but lengthy in a way that reminds you that it is there but does not cloy or overwhelm.
Overall: An elegant and delicate chardonnay with fruity flavors but old world crafting. A wonderful California chardonnay with a unique, old world character and new world flavors

Cantina Terlano Pinot Grigio 2007 (Alto Adige) wine review by (PB)

Tonight I am making homemade crab stuffed ravioli with a scallop, parmesan cream sauce and this is my pairing wine. This is a higher end wine than I would normally spend on this varietal but I wanted to see what a few more dollars would buy.

It presents with a lighter gold/straw hue and a bouquet that emits powdery, gentle vanilla with mango, pineapple and a tropical fruit mash that is nearly seductive.

Palate--first impression is disappointing with a slightly overpowering sense of alcohol and a bitter foundation that distracts from the fruit which is in rather short supply. The texture is somewhat creamy but with citrus notes and an off flavor that is less than appealing. The finish however is actually the best part of the wine with lingering yellow apple and pear notes. I paid $17 for this wine and I just hope it is better with my pasta than it is solo. I'll let you know!

(My pasta was good--not special--and the wine pretty much the same. It worked but not worth a repeat.)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Wine Cask Blog is Well Ahead Of the FCC

You may not be aware of the FCC's ruling that blogs need to disclose when they are reviewing or endorsing products for which they have been paid or given for gratis. This is not unreasonable since trying to get an objective evaluation of a product from someone who essentially works for the company is not exactly reliable.

For years--actually ever since it's inception--the WCB has always disclosed if or when complimentary wine has been sent to us for review. We didn't need the threat of a Federal mandate; it just seemed to be the right thing to do. After all--we are partial individuals and try though we may to be objective, when someone sends you free wine, it is not always easy to be completely objective! Maybe that off aroma or imbalanced palate is a fluke or a result of poor shipping conditions--"let's give benefit of doubt," we might think, "lest we offend our benefactor and they no longer send complimentary wine."

So we always let you know upfront when a wine any of us reviews was sent to us for that purpose. It doesn't happen very often--at least not as often as we would like :) but when it does we want you to know so that you can filter it through your own grid and decide if it might be worth a try.

We at the WCB are proud to have had this in place as a matter of integrity before it was made a law and we just want you to know that you can always rely on us to give you the straight scoop on spending your hard earned dollars and when we say a wine is "Good" or an exceptional value, we do so from the years and hundreds of wines we have experienced to help you avoid wasting your money! So raise a glass with confidence.

Veo Grande Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 wine review by (PB)

We've reviewed this wine in previous vintages and it usually turns out to be a great value.
This wine is a pretty cranberry color with distinctive Chilean terroir(?) in the bouquet. It is a little green on the nose with underlying berry fruit with nice plum and black berry highlights.

Palate--Integrated, a little spicy, fruitful berries with a slightly pleasantly bitter presence and a finish that is also distinctive and lingering. I find this wine at Sam's Club at the $7 price point. For a ColchaguaValley wine, that is a ridiculously low price and a great value. So--as always--raise a glass!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Wiens Family Cellars Meritage 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Disclosure: The fine folks at Wiens Family Cellars in Temecula, California provided this complimentary bottle.

Tasting notes:

Interest notes of blackberry, boysenberry, coffee, and cinnamon on the nose

Juicy and youthful on the palate

Black plum, black licorice, and green herbs on the finish

Here's a well crafted wine from Temecula, blended from such traditional Meritage grapes as Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. This wine has interesting notes on the nose and a ripe, juicy flavor profile. It's a bit "green" on the finish, so perhaps some time in the cellar will mellow things out and provide a more integrated finish.

The wine goes for $39 and appears to be available through the Wiens wine club. Raise a glass!

Dona Paula Malbec 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Dark berries and chocolate on the nose

Full bodied and juicy on the palate

Finishes with more dark berries on the finish, with herbs and cocoa

Always a good, solid Malbec! In fact, this might be their best effort in the past 4-5 years. Put this in your regular rotation and expect to pay around $15 or so.

Raise a glass!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Kilda Chardonnay 2008 wine review by (PB)

This pale gold very inexpensive south eastern Australia Chard has apple and citrus aromas with powdery vanilla notes.

Palate--solid acid foundation with fairly bold citrusy fruit. It tastes a bit manufactured and wears on you fairly quickly but at the under $6 price tag, it is actually a decent chilled, wine on a warm day even if a little watery. Remember--it was UNDER $6 so serve it to your unsuspecting friends with some simple cheeses or even cheese-its and raise a glass.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Crazy Creek Estate Fidelity 2006 (Alexander Valley) wine review by (PB)

This Sam's Club purchase is a blend of 83% Merlot 16% and 1% Cabernet Franc sporting a young black cherry hue and berry filled aromas that have hints of licorice, and numerous enticing fragrances.

Palate: big first impression with loads of dark berry fruit, some cedar notes and easy going tannins. This is a tasty and easy, ready-to-drink, Merlot that is a really nice value for the $10 price tag. Not the kind of quality you would expect at this price point. The folks at Goldschmidt Vineyards can be proud of this offering.

This is definitely a buy more-kind-of-wine so raise a glass. Wine Spectator gave this wine 88 points. Indeed!