Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas Shopping For That Wine Lover by (PB)

Need some gift ideas for that enophile in your life? I hope this helps.

I have been studying wine for over 25 years so it’s fairly safe to say I have all the gizmos, gadgets and gee-gaws any aspiring enophile could want. So remember, my council is based on the assumption that I am “every man” and that my particular gift likes and dislikes might be fairly representative. If you grant that assumption, I think you will find this helpful and may even spare you some embarrassment on the gift giving end when you give that cork wreath to someone special…

In the wine category—
Any wine that has been thoughtfully obtained; if you don't have the expertise to do the selecting, find a reputable wine store--probably not a supermarket--and ask for the wine expert! I have rarely been steered wrong by a knowledgeable staff making recommendations!

Special wines like Ports—“Ruby,” “Tawny,” and “Late Bottled Vintage” ports are all quite inexpensive. Don’t confuse a “Late Bottled Vintage” port with a Vintage Port. You will know immediately by the price! A L.B.V. port will usually cost less than $20. A vintage port will start at twice that and you’ll be hard pressed to find any for under $50 and that will be for a very young one. With an aged, vintage port, you are usually talking in the $80 and above range.

Vintage Port
—Always a treat and a great gift but it is pricey—(see above)

Champagne—also another reliable treat for most normal people. I am not normal and a good bottle of champagne would be wasted on me. But for well under $50, you can buy some very nice sparklers.

There are loads of wine clubs available now online, provided your state allows shipment of wines into your area. The retailer would be able to tell you if your state is open.

In the wine paraphernalia category—

Glasses are always welcome; namely because there are so many different shapes geared to a particular style of wine and because they break. But please--not just any old wine glasses; but "nice" glasses and that doesn’t have to mean expensive.

I like Riedel (pronounced to rhyme with “needle”) and their “Vinum” series are lovely crystal and will run you around $22 for one glass. (See I’m not talking about a whole set here, just a special glass or glasses just for “him” or “her”) The Bordeaux glass with it’s large 21 oz. bowl is great for tasting and evaluating red wine. But then they make a special shape and sized glass just for Chardonnay; Zinfandel; Burgundy, you get the idea. Spieglau (pronounced to rhyme with, uh, never mind) is also another name which makes a nice quality, but inexpensive glass. And for the really economical accident prone wine lover--Crate N Barrel sells their own wine glass which cannot be beat for the price to value ratio--about $10 each!

Williams-Sonoma carries Riedel and Crate N Barrel also carries Spieglau or at least used to.

Vacuum seal stoppers
—These actually work and again will cost you less than $20! They help keep opened wine a bit longer. Some work better than others but I paid $7 for mine at T.J. Maax and they are now a 3 years old and still working well. That includes a pump and two stoppers.

Spray preservatives—The Wine Enthusiast has an aerosol spray that you shoot into an opened bottle of wine which displaces the air with an inert gas thus preserving the wine. I use this primarily for my opened bottles of port which you tend to drink in small quantities.

Stemware Care
--Various sizes and shapes of stem ware brushes and odor free soaps are available at wine suppliers on line. I love mine!

*Wine glass charms--these are tiny wire thingies that slip onto the stem of a wine glass so that it can be positively ID'd. this is a nice and practical addition for anyone who entertains more the 3 people at a time. (*There are tasteful charms and there are stupid charms--go tasteful!)

Label Lifters—for removing wine labels from bottles; some work better than others and I have found the ones from to be the best. Around $8!

Wine identification
--The very best wine gift I have received to date is an aroma kit which my lover, girlfriend, and wife of 36 years made for me. A wooden box, some glass vials (obtainable on line from any medical supply house) and you put your scents in each vial for continued reference. You can buy a small, ready made kit though from the Wine Enthusiast but they are a bit pricey ($60 and above) I believe.

Cork screws
like my glasses, just can’t really have too many of them; especially a unique one, (*note—unique doesn’t mean stupid; like a Santa handle) or a particularly functional one. The best are called waiter’s cork screws and have a hinged lip on it. These are purely functional and are less than $10. But a very special cork screw, like one from Laguiole can run you in to the hundreds of dollars. If you have money to burn… I'd rather have a $10 cork screw and spend the rest on a decent bottle of wine!!!

Bottle tags--
If your devotee has several bottles at any given time laying down in a make shift or bonafide cellar--these are little tags that hang around the neck of the bottles identifying the wine so you don't have to pick up the bottle thus disturbing it's contents. They are reusable if you use a wet wipe marker and are very inexpensive.

Wine cooler
—these come in drastically variable price ranges. I have a Sunbeam generic 35 bottle cooler which cost me less than $200. The same size from one of the premier makers like Haier will cost you more than twice that but of course you get a better quality unit.

—For my birthday this year I received a crystal, monogrammed chiller which is essentially just a big glass jar—a pretty one—which fits a bottle of wine submerged in ice water for that quick cool down. The prices vary widely depending on composition.

Wine totes are also very practical and handy. I'm not talking about the bag kind of tote but one that looks more like a small piece of luggage. It can carry one or two bottles of wine, has an insulating material on the inside and keeps your wine temperature moderated while in transit. These are also fairly inexpensive at $25 or less. Neoprene totes are also handy and are great for packing your treasured wine purchase in your suitcase when you have been traveling abroad.

Books are a nice idea if the person is a book kind of person. I like the huge wine volumes with the magnificent pictures from around the world. I received Wine by Andre Domine (Barnes and Noble) several years ago and it is magnificent for the very beginner to the very studied. A handy reference book is also a nice idea; Andrea Immer and Food and Wine Magazine each have a quick reference book that costs around $10. Jefferson on Wine for the history buff and oenophile in your life (check review in our blog) and George Taber is a reliable author putting out two books in the past couple years--To Cork or Not too Cork which is about the screw cap controversy, and his latest "In Search of Bacchus." Also a really good read is the Billionaire's Vinegar by A. Wallace. This is the intriguing account and controversy surrounding the sale of the famous--or infamous--Thomas Jefferson bottles of Lafite purchased by billionaire William Koch and others, from seller Hardy Rodenstock.

Mags. If we’re talking about a real wine enthusiast the Wine Spectator ($49/year) and the Wine Enthusiast ($29) are essential! If your wine lover enjoys cooking as well, I like Food and Wine magazine. The Wine Spectator also has an online membership which is really handy for your smart-phone when you are out shopping.

A wine journal or log book; If they haven’t been doing so the wine lover in your life needs to be writing about their wine. This doesn’t have to be some gimmicky official “wine log” but just a nice book with blank or lined pages. Leather is ALWAYS special…

What not to get—any kind of clothing with a silly wine motif, really, please! Unless perhaps its an apron--the one "possible" exception. Have fun and raise a glass!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bonterra Mendocino County Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Red berries and light touches of tobacco and spice on the nose
Medium-bodied on the palate
More red berries, with plum and earthy notes on the finish

One of my perennial favorite bargains! For some reason, I'm paying less for this wine than I was five years ago. Recently, I've picked it up for $11 at one store and $12 at another. You'll more likely see this for $15-16.

The Bonterra organic approach is something you should read about on their website, so I won't go into it here. The finished product is just a terrific wine in the case of the Cabernet. (Their other varietals hold their own, too.) Easy drinking, nicely integrated flavors, and red fruit flavors are the hallmarks of this bottling.

Enjoy- and raise a glass!

Warburg Estate Premium Reserve Barossa Shiraz 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Lavender, violet, and earth on the nose

Smooth and medium bodied on the palate

Chocolate covered cherries and some spice on the finish

The best way I can describe this wine is that it smells like soap. I guess that's okay sometimes, but in this case it just doesn't work. The aromas and flavors aren't integrated and the wine doesn't remind me of the Barossa Valley at all. I bought this in a mixed case and believe the price to be in the $10-15 range. Raise a glass to drinking 09's in 09 from the Southern Hemisphere- just not this one!

Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato D'Asti 2006 Wine Review

Tasting notes:

Sweet citrus nose with dense bubbles and fizz upon pouring

Smooth and dense on the palate

More sweet citrus on the finish with a beam of honey and cream

Here's the best Moscato D'Asti I know of. With a fizzy, bubbly pour that gives way to sweet fruit and honey, you'll polish this off in a hurry. Typically thought of as a dessert wine because of the sweetness, we often sip this wine with appetizers such as onion tart. It has sweetness, but it's light and lively too.

Look for this in the dessert wine section and expect to pay $12-15 for a 375 mL bottle.
Raise a glass!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sean Minor 4 Bears 2007 Napa Pinot Noir Sponsored Review by Billy

Nose: Big strawberry and tart cherry with cedar notes.
Palate:Strong acids give a bigger than typical body and some bite. Big berry flavors. Fuller than your typically delicate Pinot Noir. Good meal accompanying wine.
Finish:fruity, grapey, accessible.
Overall: Happy Thanksgiving! We were sent this wine for free to review but it goes for about $17 a bottle. Overall not the best example of a classic pinot noir but still a well crafted and medium bodies fruity wine.

Raise a Glass and give thanks!

Fabre Montmayou Gran Reserva Malbec 2007 wine review by (PB)

Thanksgiving morning I started our day with crab omelets with an asparagus spear for color and a brilliant bright red caviar garnish. The wine--Prosecco with peach nectar. Nice way to start the morning once the bird was stuffed.

I am breathing this Malbec for dinner along with two other offerings to be blogged later.

This wine is a deep purple to black cherry with aromas of huge jammy, black berry and sweet dark berry fruit.

Palate--Plush tannins giving a nearly velvety texture, tight berry flavors which should open once breathed. (indeed it does!) Hints of tar and more fruit on the finish with a little bit of a chewy ending. With a few minutes of air, blueberry pie filling rises to the top. This was the clear favorite of the folks gathered around our table.

This is a sturdy wine which should do well with the stronger dishes on our bountiful table. Raise a glass with thankful hearts and a big thanks to my S.G. family!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Dinner Wine Primer by the WCB

As I write this my turkey is thawing (Saturday prior to the big feast) and I will certainly brine my bird and then fantasize about all the wonderful wines--both reds and whites, bold ones and more finessed ones which will be served up during the multi-course celebration.
As you will find when reading (NW's) post from a previous year, whatever you do, don't think, "Turkey= poultry= white wine." If you do, you will miss out on the best this day has to offer--gastronomically speaking!

(NW) writes--
Thanksgiving day meals, whether traditional or uniquely creative, offer a terrific opportunity to showcase the marriage of wine and food. A lot of people fret over the wine pairings because there's a lot of time and money invested in the meal. Let me suggest that the pairings don't need to be exacting and a wide variety of wines will suffice.

Some general categories of wine tend to be very good pairings for Thanksgiving. This is partly due to that fact that most meals have a number of dishes and a wide variety for flavors. Wines that do well in this situation are wines that naturally accompany food, both red and white. The red wines that are often viewed as traditional Thanksgiving meal accompaniments include Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel.

Cabernet Sauvignon is a great way to enhance the meal. Is it too red- meaning too full-bodied and powerful? I say no. Cabernet Sauvignon does well with meats, even poultry, especially when accompanied by sauces, gravy, and starches. To refine this selection, try a Cab with a little bit of age on it. The age will likely have mellowed the wine's tannins and softened its edges.

Pinot Noir can be a stunning accompaniment to a Thanksgiving meal! It's really an amazing varietal that has the capability of total success and total failure. Therefore, it's the riskiest choice. For example, I paired a highly regarded Oregon Pinot Noir with the meal two years ago, but it didn't work at all. It was an amazing wine, for sure, but too exotic and smokey. It just didn't work. If you know you've got a good one, then go for it. Otherwise, be careful because Pinot Noir is the most unpredictable varietal.

Zinfandel is often considered a perfect pairing for Thanksgiving. After all, it's the most American grape. Stick with a traditional Zinfandel if you're going this route. Some of the newer single vineyard bottlings are highly ripe, alcoholic, and overpowering. They won't work well. Make sure you are serving a traditional, balanced wine. A good wine merchant can help you find the right wine. For example, Ridge produces Zinfandel blends that are very elegant and balanced.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you're looking for white wine, consider Riesling, Chardonnay, or Chenin Blanc. Riesling can be an amazing food wine, but you'll have to stick with the dry versions. These dry Rieslings are produced the world over, but if you're shopping in the German aisle look for kabinett or spatlese bottlings.

Chardonnay can be a nice choice, especially if you're unsure of your guests' preferences. Because Chardonnay comes in so many forms, look for a wine that has the reputation of ripe tropical fruit and enough acidity for food.

Chenin Blanc could deliver a nice pairing if you're looking for something on the lighter side. It can be very crisp, so get the help of a good wine merchant if you'd like to find one with a little more body.

Obviously, you can find success with a number of wines and, therefore, have some flexibility. In fact, not only do you have some flexibility in wine selections, you have an opportunity to present multiple wines. I always recommend this as a way to satisfy different palates and make the meal more festive. Multiple pairings give people the chance to figure out what they like and go back for more of the same. If you have the means, I recommend placing two glasses at each place setting- either one red and one white or two red glasses.

Also, when considering multiple pairings, use finger food and appetizers as a way to offer up other wine options. Before the meal, consider opening a sparkling wine or use this as a chance to offer a white wine if you're only offering reds with the meal. Rose can also be a nice pairing for appetizers. And don't forget about dessert wines. For example, this year we are having three small dessert courses. With the first two, we'll have a dessert wine and with the last one we'll have coffee.

Wine can enhance a Thanksgiving meal in many different ways. Realize that you have many options and don't fret over exacting your wine pairings. With all the flavors and various dishes, a number of different wines will work. Just enjoy making wine a part of the festivities. Raise a glass!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jacob's Creek Reserve Pinot Noir 2007 Sponsored Wine Review by Billy

Nose:strawberry-rhubarb pie!
Palate:Very accessible and easy drinking. Good structure and evenly balanced. Not snobbish, friendly and inviting.
Finish: Short with a bit of strawberry jam that comes back.
Overall: This wine was sent to The Wine Cask Blog free of charge for a review. I have seen it online for about $10-12. While 2007 was not the best year for most Australian wines, this Jacob's Creek Reserve Pinot Noir from South Australia makes a strong case for exceptional value wine. If you are looking for an easy drinking Pinot Noir that comes in for under $15 (and possibly under $10 if you find a deal) pick up a couple of bottles and Raise A Glass!

Thanksgiving Wine - What I Will Be Drinking This Year by Billy

Thanksgiving Wine should be one among the many reasons we give thanks this year. Unfortunately, for too many feasts and revelers, the thanks that goes on happens in spite of the wine.

I thought I would give you a sneak peak at what we will be serving this year. The theme is American wine. Since Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday, I thought that American wine would be a nice place to start. However, also being a (viti-)cultural melting pot, I thought I might also allow some nice French wine at the table as well. After all, it was the French who gave us Lady Liberty and helped us form this great nation.

So Here it goes:
Before the feast: Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut Champagne (NV) - $45 Give Thanks for French Bubbly!
Appetizer: Robert Mondavi Private Selection 2006 Riesling (Monterey, CA) - $11 or so
Main Course: Sean Minor Four Bears 2007 Napa Pinot Noir (Napa, CA) - sent to us free for review
After Dinner: California Sparkling (not selected yet) or maybe a sweet Muscat. - about $20 or so.

Remember that your wine should be a cause for celebration not just an obligatory glass of Non-Vintage SomethingOrOther that you swill down while waiting for a beer and the game to start.

Raise a Glass!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Essay Chenin Blanc 2008 wine review by (PB)

This light golden tropical fruit compote quaff is delightful Chenin with powdery fruit galore with sweet candied highlights of lemon and creme brulee.

Palate--loaded with stone fruits and citrus all wrapped in one big stew of fruit. It has decent structure, off dry and just a nice buy from S. Africa.

At the $6.50 sale price it's a definite "raise a glass."

Cathedral Ridge Riesling 2007 wine review by (PB)

Oregon grows good Riesling!
Note--This varietal was sent to us free of charge for review.

This straw hued Columbia Valley Riesling has a pronounced bouquet of golden apples and honey notes with apple sauce hints and gentle spice.

Palate--off dry to sweet with white fruit flavors ending with a sweet apple finish and stewed peaches a little later after its been open a while.

This wine is on the light side of the acidity scale but well put together.

We paired it with a salt crusted, baked chicken and roasted root veggies and it was truly sensational! The lovely sweetness of the Riesling off set the saltiness and it was wonderful. It would do well with thanksgiving Turkey too. Riesling is the under appreciated grape of moment as far as I am concerned and at $18 raise a glass!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Beaujolais Nouveau 2009 Bouchard Aine & Fils Wine Review by Billy

Nose: Creamy Cherry and blueberry
Palate:Soft tannins and acids make this quite accessible and easy going down. Not as much body as the others tasted.
Finish: blueberry.
Overall: A wonderfully fruity and easy drinking celebration wine. This wine sells for about 10-11 dollars but I got it for 6! Raise a Glass!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Beaujolais Nouveau 2009 G. Duboeuf wine review by (PB)

This is the annual release of the Nouveau (meaning "new") wine release in Burgundy made from the Gamay grape. It is a worldwide celebration as this wine is made to guzzle being only weeks from the grapes having been on the vine. Are you ready for this?

2005 had the best nouveau I had tasted ever and this year's Nouveau is as good and possibly even better!

Georges Duboeuf is one of the gigantic negociants of this wine so you will find it virtually everywhere for around $10 a bottle.


The hue of this wine is amazing--it is the deepest, most highly pigmented purple to black cherry Nouveau I can remember including the 2005.

The bouquet is full of milk chocolate right up front with plenty of Gamay grape aromas that are nearly floral.

Palate--this wine sits big and unbelievably textured and even has some tannic structure that is amazing for a wine that has barely been on the skins long enough to extract a color. It has bold flavors with berries galore and indicates a memorable year for Beaujolais which portends well for Beaujolais Villages and Cru to be released later in the new year.

Remember, Beaujolais Nouveau is NOT to be shelved or cellared; it is made to be drunk in the next 9 months so raise a glass in a hurry and don't miss THIS remarkable Nouveau vintage!

Labouré-Roi Beaujolais Nouveau 2009 Wine Review by Billy

Happy Beaujolais Nouveau Day! This third Thursday of November is Beaujolais Nouveau Day where Gamay grapes that were grown this year, made into wine this year, bottled this year then sold and ideally consumed TODAY! This is proof once again that wine is wonderful.
Nose: Tart Cherry Pixi Stix aroma
Palate: tart and fun. Crisply acidic with a tannin burst at the end. Tartness softens with a bit of breathing (10-15 minutes)
Finish: short and spiked with tart candied cherry.
Overall: Beaujolais Nouveau Day is a cause for celebration. Raise a Glass and do so with friends! For reference, I paid $11 for this wine.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vina Errazuriz Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Citrus, pear, and a nutty layer on the nose

Beautifully textured on the palate

Lively finish of tropical fruit, honey, and toasty notes

A clean, vivid style of Chardonnay has been emerging out of Chile, and here's another. They're also loaded with fruit flavor, as is this one. Don't miss what's happening with this varietal. And if you happen upon a bottle of this for $18 or so, don't miss grabbing one for your next sea bass. Raise a glass!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Paul Hobbs 2004 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Review by Billy

Nose: Rich cedar, smoke, cracked pepper and blackberry/plum compote
Palate: incredibly smooth and silky feel. Soft structure, malleable.
Finish:warm blueberry compote finish with some spiciness and wet tobacco notes.
Overall: very nice and soft. A softer Napa cabernet sauvignon with full flavor and elegance. A Romantic wine. A high end steak house listed this at $160 which is probably 60-70 higher than a wine retailer can get it for.

2005 Bordeaux Chateau du Domaine de L'Eglise Pomerol Wine Review by Billy

Nose:inky salt water taffy, tar, lush blackberry
Palate: juicy macerated berries, pepper, firm acid core with tannins that play at the edges.
Finish:more juicy dark berries with cedar notes, anise at the back of a very long finish.
Overall: Young and juicy. This will continue to become more and more complex as it matures and the flavors settle. I was out at a very fancy restaurant on business where the restaurant charged about $160 for this bottle.

Monday, November 16, 2009

LaGone Aia Vecchia 2006 wine review by (PB)

This Tuscan red is a deep opaque garnet with thick aromas of tobacco and dark black berry.

Palate--This is a young wine that is bold dark berry flavors with sweet palate and a touch of bready buns. Tannins are a bit chewey and just needs a bit more time in the cellar.

(NW) cracked this open but I have one in my cellar which I allow to age a year or two more. I think I paid around $18. Raise a glass.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Clary ranch Grower's Reserve 2006 Shazzam! Syrah Sponsored Review by Billy

Nose: Earthy, Stony, and Vegetal. Jammy asparagus and wild mushroom nose. Interesting for a Syrah.
Palate: Pepper emerges on the palate. Good balance of smooth tannin and acid core for a lush mouth feel.
Finish: Long with jammy plum and pepper after time.
Overall: This wine was provided to The Wine Cask Blog free of charge by Clary Ranch. The usual syrah/shiraz flavor profiles are swapped in this 2006 Clary Ranch Shazzam! for more vegetal, earth centered flavors. The flavors of the land are much more prominent here than in other Syrah wines which makes this unique. The rich jammy character of this wine combined with good crafting yields a great mouth feel with an interesting nose and flavor profile. If you are looking for a Syrah that is unique while still well crafted, raise a glass of Clary Ranch Grower's Reserve 2006 Shazzam! Sonoma Coast Syrah.

Wiens Meritage 2007 Sponsored Wine Review by Billy

Nose: Beautiful cherry caramel, oaky, olives and basil notes with wild mushroom and even a touch of smoke.
Palate: Layered with sharp acids and a rich tannin layer for a lively mouth feel. A touch thin in the mouth but older world styling makes this a fun wine from Temecula in southern California.
Finish: cherries and cola on the finish with a very long and lingering taper.
Overall: This 2007 Wiens Family Cellars Meritage was provided to The Wine Cask Blog free of charge. The nose is beautiful and many-layered. In the mouth it is alive with an almost prickly acidity. The crafting is complex and the wine showcases the complexity well. Available on the Wiens Family website for about $40 a bottle. Raise a Glass to the resurgence of Temecula wines and Wiens Wines in particular!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thanksgiving Day and wine by (PB)

It's just around the corner and it's far too grand a celebration to let the importance of wine be relegated to uncle Joe toting in a jug of "Mogen David" or "Manischewitz" which was my pathetic wine experience growing up in house of teetotalers.

With all the incredible tastes, spices and presentations, picking the right wine can be a challenge. But here is the first broad generalization for making such a critical decision. Eject the idea of white wine with poultry!

The pairings are more about seasonings and side dishes than poultry!

That being said, think--bold spices need bold wines! Been thinking about a good Cabernet Sauvignon you have been wanting to try but can't think of the right time? This is it! How about that special Rosenblum single vineyard Zinfandel? Oh yeah! Pop that cork and marvel at how well a big wine accents all those wonderful comestible indulgences.

Don't spoil one of the best eating days of the year with something you thoughtlessly grab off the shelf in a last minute panic putting your ceiling at $10. This is THANKSGIVING day! Celebrate it and make wine the center piece!

We will be more specific in the days ahead so check back and in the mean time--raise a glass!

Vignamaggio Chianti Classico "Mona Lisa" 1999 wine review by (PB)

On a recent Boston excursion, (NW) pulled this from his ample cellar--Ahhhhh, Venice!!!
(NW) and I and our 2 adoring babes for life, spent some time in Italy and laid our heads down at this working winery and birth home to Mona Lisa--Yes, THE Mona Lisa.

(NW) has had this cellaring for some time.

It presented with a mature rim and slight bricking with a very finessed bouquet of tobacco and dark cherry with slight hints of black pepper.

Palate--well integrated, with some lingering tannic structure but holding together an elegant blend of cherry and cedar notes.

Wow, the flood of memories from that trip...This is why wine is so special. It is more than a beverage; it is an experience and physician to the heart, mind and soul. One sip and I am in the sitting room of Vignamaggio pouring our own grappa while soaking in centuries of history. Ahhhhh, Chianti! Ahhh, Italy. Raise a glass to the only beverage miraculously metamorphosed from ordinary H2O by the Savior Himself!

Warres Heritage Ruby Porto wine review by (PB)

This wine is a beautiful cranberry jelly red with a bouquet of liquor infused dried cherries, rasins, a hint of pepper, anise and wood.

Palate--wonderfully sweet, spicy front with prunes and vanilla touches, gentle presence with lingering sweet black pepper and a surprise late finish of green apple.

You gotta love port! This is my favorite inexpensive port to date! I paid $12 or $13 for it and am loving it! If you have not tried port wine, what are you waiting for? It is a wonderful desert wine and for a real treat, try it with a dark chocolate square or dark chocolate cake desert of some kind.
As an per-dinner treat, or after treat, try it with a good bleu cheese.

At any rate, don't forget to raise a glass during the holidays!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Peter Lehmann Shiraz 2005 wine review by (PB)

This wine presents with a youthful purple hue and a big plummy bouquet and loads of blackberry fruit with black licorice fragrance.

Palate: It's a big juicy dark fruit bomb with ample fruit flavors and a nice texture with plush tannins and enough structure to carry this wine for quite a few more years.

Speaking of which--the label says it should hold for 5 years. News flash: this wine will hold for another 5 years more than likely.

I paid an excellent price of $13 for this bottle and it is a nice quaff if you're in the mood for a big, palate assaulting fruit bomb. Raise a glass to be sure!

Laguna Canyon "Super Tuscan" 2005 wine review by (PB)

(NW) opened this wine on a recent trip to Boston. Made by "Wyland" the lable says it is a classic Tuscan blend yet I would not have pegged it as a Sangiovese in a thousand years.

I thought it was a Zinfandel or maybe Petite Sirah with a beautiful black cherry hue and ripe blackberry, plum and dark fudge foundations.

Palate: Robust, balanced, beautiful with nice big berry, blueberry and something that I couldn't pin down but was great. This was really a tasty treat and runs around $35 but its the kind of wine I think you have to find locally (California) so raise a glass when you can.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz 2006 Sponsored Wine Review by Billy

Nose:Deep jammy plum, cherry and cracked black pepper predominate. Cedar and leather undertones provide complexity.
Palate: Excellent balance with good acid structure and tannins that are not overbearing or underyoung. Hints of vanilla and cherry emerge on the palate.
Finish:Soft and lingering vanilla cherry cola taper off to a slight tannin pucker.
Overall: This wine was sent to The Wine Cask Blog free of charge for review. However, I have seen it online in the $9-$15 price range. It is a deep inky red in the glass showing youth and character. 2006 was a good year in South Australia for the wineries and this 2006 Jacob's Creek shows it. The crafting is solid allowing the best characteristics of the Shiraz to emerge without overcomplicating the wine. This is a very affordable hearty wine that is worth having on hand. Easily as good as wines 2 or 3 times the price. It will stand up to and complement hearty fall and winter dishes.

Raise a glass to this Jacob's Creek Reserve 2006 Shiraz

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sean Minor "4B" Sauvignon Blanc 2008 wine review by (PB)

Please note--This varietal was sent to us--free of charge--for review.

Light golden hue presentation with nice bouquet of pineapple life savers, green apple and pear with sweet powdery fruit.

Palate--as a matter of preference, the foundation of this wine is a little flaccid but then I like razor sharp acidity in my whites. Beyond that however, there are nice grassy Sauvignon B. flavors on an off-dry foundation with a nice peary finish that has some staying power.

This is a more relaxed style of Sauvignon Blanc and for me, works better with food than solo. I paired it with a nice seafood soup I whipped up on a chilly Friday evening. It was a very nice pairing. A solid well made wine from Sonoma grapes and at $13, raise a glass!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Solane Santi Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2006 wine review by (PB)

Another Trader Joe's bargain which did not pay off for the travel and expense as it was gone on a return visit.

Purple cranberry jelly hue with bright cherry, pipe tobacco aromas and nice fruit.

Palate--Sweet, integrated fruit with some intensity along with baked bread, candy berry flavors and a finish that lasts. Good structure with a spice rear, will drink well for several years.

A Ripasso at this price ($15) is ridiculous but this is a good one. I tried to get more but someone else also recognized a bargain when they saw it. Raise a glass if you can.

Chateau De Virecourt 2005 wine review by (PB)

At $13, this Bordeaux from the fabled vintage was a must buy. It has a ruby hue with chocolate and big berry aromas with deep spice and pine.

Palate--Wow--what a disappointment; watery, steely bread with little or no fruit and quick finish which in this case is a blessing.

This wine began superbly with a wonderful bouquet but gave up the ghost in the aromas. Pass it up.

Beaumes De Venise 2004 wine review by (PB)

A Patric Lesec wine: showing age with some bricking and mature, stewed and baked cherry fruit that is pleasant but with some alcohol volatility.

Palate--Cherries with pepper on a a slightly hot base but interesting none-the-less with an olive finish and a little more pepper. This was a closeout wine at 25% off making it about $8. I grabbed it because Beaumes De Venise was one of the very first wines I had some 30+ years ago when I began this adventure. It was a good grab and worthy of raising a glass!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Book Review: In Search of Bacchus, by George Tabor (NW)

Disclosure: This book was sent complimentary to The Wine Cask Blog from Scribner in exchange for a review.

Wine sits at the intersection of geography, history, culture, and cuisine. George Tabor understands this. In his exploration of a dozen wine regions throughout the world, not only does he explore the wines but he explores the very essense of what makes these places special.

His writing takes on a whimsical feel as he blends in his own travel memoir to each section of the book. This helps connect the reader to these magical places as he sets out to understand how these places approach wine tourism. In fact, the subtitle of the book is Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism which feels effortless even though the actual undertakings were likely exhausting and riddled with complicated logistics. Interestingly, this is the elusive quality a book like this must have. Does your mind wander with him into these places? Just remember that not all who wander are lost.

A wine lover or a travel lover will want to lose themselves in this book, and it would make a great gift. For those who have some prior knowledge of these places, the book will particularly come alive. However, it will not provide a comprehensive view of them as each wine region is covered in just 20 pages or so. Let this wet your appetite- and your palate- and make sure to raise a glass!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Guigal Cotes Du Rhone 2007 wine review by (PB)

Very pale gold with a wonderful bouquet of powdery tropical fruit that reminds me of a nice Chenin Blanc with sweet spices rising.

Palate--This white is an off dry with steely minerality and a nice acid foundation. Lemons, mandarin orange, bitters, finish with a hint of creme brulee. A tasty white quoff at $15 so raise a glass.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Patrick Lesec "Beaumes De Venise" 2004 wine review by (PB)

Showing age with moderate bricking on the rim bouquet has pleasant notes of stewed fruit with cherry under layer revealing what it was in its youth. The rising aromas are beautiful with vegetal hints but fruity cherry and pipe tobacco notes.

Palate--Peppery cherry fruit on a slightly hot base but interesting with stewed minerally veggies finishing with more lingering fruity pepper.

I saw this on a closeout and had to grab it if only because this was one of the very first wines of my enophilic endeavors some 33 years ago. I paid about $9 for this in Brookline, Ma. and am glad I grabbed it. Raise a glass to sentimental journey through the vineyards of our minds.