Friday, January 29, 2010

Rochioli Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Bright citrus, honey, and vanilla on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Lemon lime and vanilla on the finish

I was pleasantly surprised with this wine because it pulls off quite a feat. It has a full-bodied and richly-textured quality that dances with a surprisingly crisp, acidic, green apple and citrus quality. It's neither one or the other- rather a remarkable combination of the two. For $40 or so, check it out. And raise a glass!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Justin Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant bouquet of bing cherry, red licorice and vanilla on the nose

Soft texture on the palate

More cherry on the finish, with plum, spice, and oak


Here's a soft, oaky style that's fragrant and easy to drink. It runs about $25. Raise a glass!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Tres Picos Garnacha 2007 wine review by (PB)

From the folks who produce some fine value wines at the Bodegas Borsao, this Spanish Grenache is culled from old vines with low yields.

It presents with a nice garnet hue and aromas of sweeter wild berries and spice reminiscent of Zinfandel with white pepper notes at the end.

Palate--First impression of dark spices, pepper corns, and some palate heft with a tannic streak that adds weight to the bold dark berry wine with wood accents and nice hint of vanilla on the nice and lasting finish.

This wine will only get better and at $15, I wish I had another one to lay down for a couple more years but it's drinking really well now.

I am pairing this with some spare ribs cooked in my All Clad slow cooker which I will put over some home made pasta and then I will raise a glass!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot 2006 wine review by (PB)

Surprising purple hue for a wine with 4 years on it, Bouquet is full of cocoa and brimming with plums reaching my nose a full two feet away. On the swirl, there is a rich deep, cigar box, and black berry in a nose that is expressive and expensive smelling.

Palate--Integrated structure and flavors with cocoa mid palate and loads of dark berry goodness with tannic backbone for some more good years.

Depending on what part of the country you reside, this wine will run you around $12 or as little as $8. At $12, this is a wine worth searching out. At less than that, buy several/many and raise a glass.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Quarles Harris 10 Year Old Tawny Port wine review by (PB)

The color of this wine is a medium amber that looks like a semi-dark beer. It is really attractive.

Bouquet--loads of sweet mixed nuts up front, a touch of brandy, and sweet, light raisins/prunes with a powdery note underneath it all.

Palate--Wonderfully plush texture with sweet, almost honeyed dried dark fruit, saw dust mid-palate and a finish that is full of pecans or walnuts.

When you can't afford a "vintage" port, or you can afford one but you have to wait on it for a few years, this is a wonderful--relatively inexpensive--alternative.

Ports are desert wines primarily although any excuse to have a port works for me. Unlike a nice ruby port, I didn't care for the dark chocolate nibs I tried with this wine that go SO well with the brighter ruby styles.

I snagged this from Trader Joe's for just under $20. And unlike regular wines, these wines will last re-corked for several weeks to even a couple months so raise a glass!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lindemans' Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Coonawarra Wine Review by Billy

Nose: Strong charcoal, cherry cola and sweet oak
Palate: silky smooth with soft tannins at the back. Svelte but lacking personality
Finish: slightly acidic with some not unpleasant underripe blueberry notes.
Overall: PB reviewed the 2001 vintage here so check that out. This wine was about $10. It is an extremely drinkable and accessible $10 wine. If you are looking for easy going $10 or under red wine, this is a solid choice. I would not call it key example of Cabernet Sauvignon, but I would classify it as a good bargain red. Worth it for parties and guests who want "red wine" and don't care what kind it is.

Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Nose of black currant, fig paste, and hoisin sauce incredibly slow to open

Very dense and closed on the palate

Long finish with faint notes of cured meat, tar, and cocoa


Do not open this wine any time soon because you will be disappointed. Chateau de Beaucastel has a reputation for aging nicely and this one's nowhere near ready to enjoy. It's so dense and closed, that I couldn't even detect identifiable aromas on the nose for quite some time.

Chateauneuf is a favorite of mine, but patience is rewarded with the best of class wines. Let this wine sit until at least 2015. By then, the $95 or so you spent on it won't seem like that much money. Raise a glass to the future!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sterling Chardonnay Vintner's Selection Central Coast 2007 wine review by (PB)

Light golden pour with sprightly aromas of Citrusy, honeyed, butter cream and a veritable fruit bonanza.

Palate--Vibrant acidic foundation with a really pleasant balance and structure with a compote of citrus flavors. This bargain wine finishes with a light smokey wood touch. It was a nice pairing with seafood chowder, broiled cheese bread and a snowy winter's night. This is a GREAT value wine and at under $9 is the kind of wine you hunt for! I found it at Sam's Club and you can be sure I will be checking to buy more so raise a glass!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hob Nob Chardonnay 2007 Sponsored Wine Review (NW)

Disclosure: This wine was provided complimentary to The Wine Cask Blog.

Tasting notes:

Hazelnut, toasted almonds, and butterscotch on the nose

Full bodied and richly textured on the palate

Apple, sweet spices, and vanilla on the finish

The fruit is a bit masked in this Chardonnay, but it has a lot of nice nutty flavors and it's richly textured. The grapes are sourced from France and it retails for $10.99. With certain foods, like cream sauces, this wine should drink very nicely. Raise a glass!

Hob Nob Pinot Noir 2008 Sponsored Wine Review (NW)

Disclosure: This wine was provided complimentary to The Wine Cask Blog.
Tasting notes:

Mixed berries, violets, and vanilla on the nose

Medium bodied and nicely textured on the palate

Grapey finish with oak accents


With grapes sourced from France, this wine is a newer entrant into the affordable varietal lineup. It carries as suggested price of $10.99.

The problem with Pinot Noir at this price, as I've discovered, is that it often fails to deliver enough real varietal character. For example, this wine is fun and easy to drink but it lacks any real reference to Pinot Noir. Raise a glass to easy drinking!

Cathedral Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon/ Merlot 2007 Sponsored Wine Review (NW)

Disclosure: This wine was provided complimentary to The Wine Cask Blog.

Tasting notes:

Raspberry, blueberry pie, and chocolate on the nose

Full bodied and tight on the palate

More raspberry on the finish, with black currant and herbs


Here's a good red blend from Oregon. It achieves a popular fruity style through a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. For those of us who immediately think Pinot Noir when we hear Oregon red, this wine will take you off the beaten path. In fact, this producer also does a bit of Zinfandel and some other red wines in addition to their lineup of Pinot Noir. The retail price is $18. Raise a glass!

Conti De Bregonzo Amarone Della Valpolicella 2006 wine review by (PB)

This was the wine that not only made my #1 pick for 2009 but I said it may just be "the best wine I have ever had at any price." So I am doing a real time review of the same wine and we'll see how it measures up to the initial review of my #1 pick.

Here goes:
A hefty black cherry hue with some depth is accented by aromas of wonderfully fragrant black cherry with touches of green peppers or evergreen, and a touch of prunes with a nuanced "port wine" like presence.

Palate--bread up front on a somewhat sweet foundation with good structure and notes of raisin/prune hints. Nice mouth feel with a finish that rather coats your palate and just hangs around.

No question; I like this wine a bunch but I will now go back and check out my review of it the first time I tasted it in early December.

Conclusion--my notes are remarkably similar although I will admit I thought it had a better texture on my first review and the "fudgy fruit" I tasted back in December is not there this time. It is still a really nice wine at $17 and certainly still a great value and worth the 150 mile drive (one way) I made to grab some more.

Now is it the best wine I have ever had at any price? Probably not but one of my faves to be sure!

I am making venison steaks with grilled root vegetables and hopefully there will be some of the wine left to go with what should be a superior pairing so raise a glass!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Ribeauville Vin de l'A. Grand Reserve 2004 Bergheim wine review by (PB)

This Alsatian is a light golden nectar with a bouquet of sweet spice, melon and tropical fruit.

Palate--this is an off dry wine which gives a somewhat flabby presence at first impression but then the acid seems to appear suddenly. Mixed tropical fruit flavors take center palate with a lingering tropical fruit compote finish that is really tasty.

It's a blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris. This would pair great with hard to pair foods like spicy oriental, Thai or Indian cuisine. It was a gift to Billy of this blog so we don't have a price point but wouldn't be esy to find anyway. We raised a glass with thankfulness.

St. Francis Old Vine Zinfandel Sonoma County 2006 wine review by (PB)

Black cherry to cranberry hue with pronounced berry aromas.

Palate--Dark berry flavors with a hint of mint and an interesting spice on the front palate. There is also an interesting unique berry cream note that is quite nice. I paid $24 for this which is a bit steep for what you get but unique enough to raise a glass!

Luigi Bosca Lujon De Cuyo Malbec 2006 wine review by (PB)

This single vineyard Malbec from the Mendoza area of Argentina, is a really deep and dark hue with a gorgeous bouquet of spicy cherry with some depth. Beautiful aromas of pipe tobacco.

Palate--Nicely integrated with great texture, and balance. This is a wine of intensity, well made, and tasty all around. Finishes a little quick but a superior wine at the upper teens price point so raise a glass.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Velvet Devil Merlot 2007 wine review by (PB)

You know Charles Smith's wines; they have the labels that look like a third grader designed them but don't let that dissuade you from trying his wines. This one has a lighter garnet hue and bouquet more reminiscent of Pinot Noir than Merlot.

It gives off sweet chocolate aromas on opening which lighten to red berry aromas with a light chocolate under layer with touches of raspberry.

Palate--bread, powdered cocoa notes with sweet-tart berry flavors, integrated lean texture with a finish that is intriguing.

Smith and his Washington State creations tend to be solid values if not unique. This one is certainly unique. At $12 raise a glass.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ledson Lake County Diamond Ridge Series Petite Sirah 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Blackberry, black licorice, and vanilla on the nose

Full bodied, rich, and smooth on the palate

Finishes with dark berries, cocoa, and splash of pepper

A friend brought this wine over recently, which was a real treat. This wine would not be available on shelves where I live.

Lake County is producing more and more good wines, and Ledson found some nice Petite Sirah grapes there to put into this bottling. It's dark and fairly dense, with rich aromas and flavors. The long finish is smooth and silky, with a splash of pepper to keep your attention. It retails for $34 but is not widely available. Raise a glass!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer Alsace 2007 wine review by (PB)

The wine with the hard to pronounce name (Ge-VURTS-tra-meener) is the Alsatian region of France's signature grape. I love Gewurz!

It presents with a medium golden hue and a bouquet large in peaches but changes with air to more of a general sweet, hard candy, lemon and vanilla cream with sweet pie spice notes--of course. (Gewurztraminer means "spicy" Traminer)

Palate--Sweeter than expected with more of a new world flare than what one would expect from "Old world" Alsace. It presents with a nice balance of acid, plenty of fruit and a really nice smokey, pear finish. Somewhat atypical for Alsace but a good example of the grape and at $13 well made. And if you're reading, punkin patch, raise a glass!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mockingbird Hill Petite Sirah 2006 wine review by (PB)

This Napa wine has a beautiful cranberry/purple hue with beautiful plummy and blackberry nose punctuated with spice but needs to warm up. (My ambient cellar holds at around 50 degrees this time of year...)

Palate--This wine is really level on the palate but has fairly tight fruit with wood. It is a fairly uncomplicated wine and drinks well by itself but pairs well with food in the way it is structured. It would do well with another two years in the bottle but for a Petite Sirah it is a versatile wine that will run you around $14, so raise a glass.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Orin Swift "The Prisoner" 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Blackberry, cherry, and spice on the nose

Full bodied and richly textured on the palate

Dark berries, chocolate, and spice with some alcohol burn

Here's a Zinfandel blend from Napa Valley that has garnered quite a bit recent acclaim. The 2007 was highly rated and the 2008 reviewed here just hit the shelves recently.

This wine is 47% Zinfandel with five other grapes in the blend such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It's big and bold, with a bit of alcohol burn on the finish. I paid $61 recently at a restaurant, which isn't bad for a wine that goes for $35 retail. Raise a glass!

San Vincenti Chianti Classico Riserva 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Black currant, black licorice, cedar, and rich spices on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Finishes with dark berries, earth, cocoa

I like this style of Chianti with nice fruit accented by spices and earthy tones. This is my first tasting of a wine from San Vincenti, and I happened upon the 2003 Chianti Classico Riserva for $23. Raise a glass!

Mauritson Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2007

Crystalline garnet hue with sweet, cedar spiced nose, toasted cumin seed, touch of licorice and then anise, cedar and eucalyptus--a hodgepodge of spicy aromas.

Rich cream, berry Zin flavors, on a rich baker's chocolate foundation. There is a rear palate intrigue with a creamy aftertaste--not texture but flavor; and an edge of bitterness right after swallowing which is a nice characteristic, like a baker's unsweetened dark chocolate kind of sensation, that makes it seem luxurious.

This is a rich Zin that will be better in another year or two. This is a mid $20's wine and if you're a Zin devotee, raise a glass!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Rombauer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Red berries, cherry, and spice on the nose

Full bodied with firm texture on the palate

Moderately tannic finish with red fruit, eucalyptus, and cedar

I like the aroma and flavor of this wine, with a nice cedar backbone and layers of red fruit. However, it's a little rough and tannic. This may be something that works itself out with some more time in the bottle, and in fact, the winemaker suggests as much on the Rombauer website.

I've always enjoyed the wines from Rombauer and this one was a crowd pleaser at a recent business dinner. I paid $80 at the restaurant and it carries a retail price of around $40. Raise a glass!

Domaine la Roquete Chateauneuf du Pape 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fig, berries, and spice on the nose

Densely structured on the palate

Plum, mesquite, and spice layers on the long finish

Very nice but slow to open, this wine needs time. If you cellar wine, be patient with this one. If you really want to try it now, allow it to come up in temperature and really breathe. You could decant it for several hours if you'd like to.

I strongly urge wine drinkers to sample Chateauneuf du Pape. We are in the golden age for wines from this region, with many strong vintages from the past decade. These wines are known to improve over time, but you can enjoy them young as well if you let them breathe. The dense structure and incredible spice layers woven through the fruit are two of the hallmarks of good Chateauneuf du Pape. Most are primarily Grenache and Syrah, with other Southern Rhone grapes blended in. In fact, 13 grapes are allowed in these wines and a few producers still persist with special blends of all 13.

While they're splurge wines for most of us regular people, they are worth the money. Prices have been creeping up with the outstanding recent vintages, but you can still track down excellent wines for $30-50 while the most famous names are now $75 on up to hundreds of dollars for special bottlings. I paid $28 for this wine on sale, which carries a list price of $35. Four bottles are sitting in my cellar and I won't touch another one for several years. Raise a glass!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Fetzer Chardonnay Valley Oaks 2008 wine review by (PB)

Big pear, apple aromas with a touch of citrus.

Palate: nearly perfectly integrated, vanilla, lemon, nice acid, creme brulee and a nice peary finish. Delicious.

This is a great value by Fetzer and they produced gazillions of cases--actually over 600 thousand--which is why they can offer a wine of this quality at this price--$7. Find it, buy it, and raise a glass!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Clos La Coutale 2007 wine review by (PB)

This wine from the Cahors is 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot. Ithas a young purple hue with a nice dark berry nose with tar, spice and cherry notes.

Palate--steely with nice berry foundation, tasty fruit, integrated, drinking really well, and finishes well. This wine was a Wine Spectator top 100 (#76) I think.

At $16, it's a nice wine so raise a glass.

Tyrrell's Cabernet/Merlot 2006 wine review by (PB)

Billy of this blog brought this back with him from a recent trip to Australia. It presents with a vibrant dark purple hue that is darn right "Syrah-like."

The nose is pronounced with vegetal, dark blackberry and green spice with an under hint of a chemical odor.

Palate--decent structure with sweeter palate with a green after taste and a lighter tannic backbone. Drinkable but meah, even at the $12 or so, price point.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Arthur Barolet Meursault 2004 wine review by (PB)

This was our New Year's Eve wine paired with lobster stew. The wine was a medium golden hue with nice bouquet of pineapple, citrus, honey and guava(?) The wonderful bouquet set me up for disappointment though.

Palate--Rather flaccid mouth feel with subtle flavors and a charred aftertaste.

With a little breathing--yes, better white wines can "open up" but nothing like a red--it is more integrated but is still an austere wine with a touch of minerality, vanilla and citrus and flavors that just never quite emerge.

I paid $35 for this wine and was disappointed. I have had more interesting wines at half the price. Not a great wine start to the new year but you can't win em all!

Most Startling Wine Surprise of 2009 by (PB)

(NW) found a bottle in a Boston wine shop with an old looking label on it. The price tag on it was $5. Now there's tons of $5 wines out there and most of them are barely suitable for cooking. But (NW)--always looking for that "treasure" read the label--Rosenblum Cabernet Sauvignon--Groth Vineyard--1983. A 26 year old single vineyard Napa Cab for $5? Why not? For that price the bottle and label and worth it...

(NW) served it to me bagged and asked me for my thoughts. This wine was obviously old with a murky. garnet color but still holding to the rim. It's bouquet on opening was pretty obnoxious with traces of egg nog and wild grape but mostly acetone and a medicinal ucky smell. ("Ucky" is a very technical wine term.)

Still--there was something lurking below these awful odors that kept me interested. I had no clue about what the wine might be but I said, "It is 20-30 years old." (NW) smirked.

As minutes passed by, the wine was changing and the hideous aromas on opening were dissipating revealing an amazingly nice, sweet wild cherry and evergreen beneath it all.

As I filled my mouth and swirled, the anticipated nastiness of a wine long gone was not forthcoming. Instead there was an intriguing taste of stewed prunes yet with lively cherry fruit underneath. It was fully integrated, balanced and all around superior. If I had to rate this wine I would give it a 94 and I rarely ever do that!

I was flabbergasted and as we allowed the wine to breath, it turned out to be one of the best wines I have had in several years!

So the moral of the story is, for $5, while you would fully expect it not even to be palatable, sometimes life hands you a bouquet of roses. Raise a glass to a new year of surprises and may all your 2010, $5 risks have as wonderful an ending as this one!