Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bila Haut (M. Chapoutier) 2008 review by (PB)

This Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Carignane has a nice medium deep black cherry/garnet hue with moderate bouquet of red fruit, some bright cherry though tightly wound.

Palate--White pepper, very tight on fruit--decant...Decanting doesn't help much but yields some subtle sweet licorice with earthy notes on the bouquet with the help of air.

This hails from the Cotes Du Rousillon (Midi region of the Rhone) and was given a 90 point rating by the wise folks at the Wine Spectator. I hesitate to go against the experienced palates of those guys but 90 points seems really generous. Even with more time--which it clearly needs--I don't see the potential for such a rating. At any rate-for $11 it is a decent experience so raise a glass! (Paired it with a really nice refrigerator aged strip steak grilled on the coals) The wine did not enhance the meal.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Redtree California Pinot Noir 2009 review by (PB)

My babe and I were shopping for wine today and she said she wanted to get this because someone voted it the best Pinot Noir under $11.

This is the most beautiful looking wine in the glass that I have seen in a longtime. It is a gorgeous brilliant ruby that looks like a gemstone that should be worn not drunk.

Bouquet--Gorgeous floral fruit with ripe strawberry and awesome notes of sugared basil on the nose with cocoa powder,spices and a WOW factor.

Palate--Interesting tang on the palate though a bit stingy on fruit--it might open up some; Finishes with a nice strawberry and dusty cocoa that lingers.

This is a real value at $9. What a nice, easy drinking red. Buy more and raise a glass!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Tenuta di Biserno Insoglio Toscana 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Nose slow to reveal cherry, sweet plum, and herbs

Medium bodied on the palate

Earthy cherry finish with some leather and spice notes


I've been sampling a lot of super-Tuscans lately as I find them to be surprisingly good values. Not the $200 wines, but the value lies around the $30 mark. This wine seems to run a broad spectrum of pricing on the internet from in the $20's to around $40.

I recently shared a bottle at a Morton's and found the wine to be a little flat. It's a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot that suggests an interesting flavor profile but comes up short. It just doesn't seem to have much depth like similar wines from the region. There's a lot of great stuff from this region, though, so don't hesitate to raise a glass of Tuscan charm!

Clos Pegase Carneros Mitsuko's Vineyard Merlot 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant berries and plum on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Red fruit, vanilla, spice and oak layers on the lingering finish


Here's a richly flavored and well oaked Merlot. It has nicely integrated flavors and appears to be ageing well. I'd be curious to taste this in another 3-4 years.

Unfortunately, I don't have any in my cellar as this was supplied by friends at a recent dinner. It runs about $20, and in fact, they had purchased this bottle at the winery on release roughly 4 years ago. Raise a glass!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rosenblum Zinfandel Alexander Valley "Harris Kratka Vineyard" 2005 wine review by (PB)

At $39 I expect a lot of wine. Rosenblum essentially never disappoints.
Deep dark black cherry/cranberry jelly hue with sweet ripe black cherry aromas with rich tarry scents and blueberry pie.

Palate--Big dark flavors with bitter sweet chocolate nuances, loads of dark heavy fruit that is mouth filling and luxuriant. Finish delivers.

Another great example of single vineyard Zinfandel. Needs to be paired with something really bold like char-grilled steak or big tomatoey garlicky sauce with pasta or just enjoy by itself.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Maryhill Winery 2008 Columbia Valley Viognier Sponsored Wine Review by Billy

Nose: Daisy blossom, dry hay and cantaloupe aromas backed by a spicy warmth.
Palate: firm and tight on the palate with a soft nectarine-y core.
Finish: nice body on the finish that keeps it long with very nice raw almond and some more nectarine tones and some warmth in the back.
Overall: Online this white Washington wine will retail between $11 and $15 which is quite reasonable for this quality white. Thanks to the folks at Duo PR and to Maryhill Winery for providing us at The Wine Cask Blog with samples for review (Thanks Caitlin!). The acid core maintains a pleasing crispness that is a nice alternative to the typical summer whites of Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling. The finish is incredibly long for a white which sets it apart.

Raise a Glass!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut 2005 wine review by Billy

Nose:yeasty bread with strong floral undertones, sweet lemon blossom
Palate: bubbles that prick rather than effervesce, dry but not parched, strong lemon citrus on the palate.
Finish: slightly grassy with more lemon and a touch of grapefruit citrus.
Overall: I purchased this from Woot Wine which has some great deals. This was purchased along with a bottle of the Iron Horse Russian Cuvee 2005 for a total of $40. Since this wine alone retails for about $30 a bottle it was a good deal. I enjoyed this California sparkling wine. It is a good quality sparkling that has a great acidity to let it go with anything (ANYTHING!) while remaining approachable and drinkable. The overabundance of lemon, the slightly-less-than-brut brutness and the lack of sophistication in the bubbles leave me wanting a touch of something more. But for a summer day and a family celebration this was a great selection.

If you find it for $20 definitely pick up a bottle. You won't be disappointed!

Raise a glass.

Oberon Sauvignon Blanc 2009 Napa Valley sponosred review by (PB)

Sent to us from the good folks at Folio Wines, this wine is nearly clear on presentation with nice aromas of grassy lime with a touch of guava fruit and lime.

Palate--Rather austere yet well constructed with a tart acidity of lime and mouth watering acidity that should be great with our lobster dinner I'll serve it with later this evening. It ends with a really nice, long substantial finish that suggests sweet fruit without being sweet. This wine runs $15 and is both a solid example of the varietal and should be a great food wine.

This wine improves (opens up) with a little air time. And yes, white wine "can" improve with breathing though it is not as pronounced nor as regular as it is with red wines.)

There are numerous styles of S. Blanc ranging from all over the world. My favorites happen to come from New Zealand, Australia, America and of course France. Wherever your palate leads you--raise a glass!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cockburn's Ruby Port review by (PB)

If you haven't explored the world of Port for Pete's sake do so! Port--real port from Portugal will be called Porto or Oporto on the label and no where else in the world is port made that is worth drinking. Australia has tried with minimal success and California produces only one port wine worth mentioning and that is from FicklinVineyards.

Don't even think of buying the domestic "ports" which are nasty, cough syrupy, sickeningly sweet medicines. Port is awesome and is a desert wine so it is sweet but before you screw up your nose and say, "I don't like sweet wines" you have to start over with your thinking. Classy desert wines, made from hundreds of years of experience that are balanced with the right acid ratios are awesome and affordable.

This one costs around $12 but most any Oporto in the $10-$20 range is going to be decent!

Review: Sweet raisiny bouquet with prune notes and a palate that is brimming with sweet prune and blackberries on the finish even if a touch "hot."

Now--sip some port with a chunk of Stilton or a block of dark chocolate and be prepared to get hooked. Raise a glass!

Strong Arms Shiraz 2008 review by (PB)

This Southern Aussie Shiraz is deeply pigmented as Shiraz should be with black cherry and plum hue with big black berry aromas accompanied by bold tar with a touch of licorice.

Palate--"Zippy" front with big ripe fruit; dark, bitter cocoa and a mid palate of sweet strawberry pie.

It's a little course but all in all pretty tasty. At $12 or less, raise a glass!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Veuve vs Gloria Ferrer Non Vintage Smackdown review by Billy

Vacationing with PB gives us a great chance to have side by side tastings of lots of different wines. We took this opportunity to pit a well known French Champagne against a good domestic sparkling wine. We wanted both to be generally accessible and of moderate pricing.

For the French Champagne we selected Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut ($55 at the local grocery store).
Nose: muted dryer nose, dusty and layered with flowers and melon.

Palate:extra fine bubbles that effervesce and sparkle. Very dry with pleasing acid core. Honeyed flowers on the palate

Finish: of peach and mown hay

For the domestic Sparkling wine we selected the Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut which was $20 at the local grocery store.

Nose: quite rich and full at the outset. Notes of citrus and flowers.
Palate: medium dry, small tight bubbles with notes of peach and pineapple. The bubbles are wonderfully intrinsic to this sparkling wine being smaller than many other domestics I've had. While described as a Brut it is not quite as dry as many other bruts making for a somewhat more accessible sparkling for those who prefer their bubbly not so bone dry.
Finish: The finish on this Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut is short and weak. The weakest part of an otherwise wonderful wine.

Smackdown Review: We tasted these wines blind so that we would not be influenced by the labels or regional preconceptions. The first thing to remember is that you like what you like and that is just fine. In truth these are two magnificent sparkling wines. They both had depth of flavor, good crafting and delightful bubbles. They would both make a good drink after dinner and with a light dessert. At twice the price (or more) the Veuve simply outclasses the Gloria Ferrer. The bubbles are relative pinpricks that effervesce and tease where comparatively, the Gloria Ferrer bubbles are hammers pounding at your palate. Similarly, I prefer dry dry dry sparkling wines and the Gloria Ferrer Sonoma brut was not as dry as the Veuve. Finally the finish on the Veuve continued on well after the taste was done where the Gloria Ferrer was (much) shorter.

So I pick the Veuve as the winner in the head to head taste competition.

Any way you consider it, though, in these kinds of competitions, everyone wins.
Raise a Glass!

Luce 2006 sponsored wine review by Billy

Nose:cracked pepper and spicy licorice notes and hints of vanilla . Many layers.
Palate:juicy and lucid with firm acids and understated tannins that are not weak but are not strong either. This creates a less heavy wine with the characteristics of the Sangiovese while retaining the presence and gravity of the Merlot.
Finish: nice juicy finish with spicy heat and berries
Overall:Noticeable Merlot spice complements the juicy Sangiovese. We had this open and breathing for 3 hours before tasting. Accessible, open. The wonderful folks from Folio Wines sent us this wine to review. I brought it with me on a visit / taste-cation with PB so that we could review it together. We both enjoyed this immensely while being impressed specifically with the layered crafting of this incredibly fine Super Tuscan. This is a special bottle on any occasion and will run you a pretty penny for the privilege. I have seen it online for around $85 -95. But, in the words of Ferris Bueler, "...It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

Raise a Glass.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Owen Roe Ex Umbris Syrah 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Wild berries and layers of spices on the nose

Full bodied and richly textured on the palate

Long finish of wild berries, licorice, and vanilla with a fine texture throughout


When I flew out to Seattle two weeks ago to climb Mt. Rainier, I sampled a number of Washington state wines that I don't see near me in the Northeast. Occasionally, I'll spot an Owen Roe wine on a restaurant wine list, but not very often. As a result, I was quick to pick up this bottle and share with a friend.

While this is a very flavorful Syrah from a renowned producer, the most remarkable thing about this wine is the incredible texture. It's both rich and finely textured, especially on the long finish. If you can find it for sale, you'll probably spend about $24. Raise a glass!

Soos Creek "Sundance" Columbia Valley Red Wine 2006 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Wild berries, spice, and cocoa on the nose

Full bodied and firm and on the palate

More of the same on the finish


When I flew to Seattle two weeks ago to climb Mt. Rainier, I had the chance to sample a number of Washington state wines that I just don't see near me in the Northeast. This wine from Soos Creek is at the lower end of their price spectrum, costing $22. It's a blend of primarily Merlot with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. While not as voluptuous as other wines from Soos Creek, it delivers a lot of flavor on a firm backbone. Nice wine!

And yes, I made it to the summit of Mt. Rainier. Raise a glass!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste Pauillac 2000 wine review by Billy

Nose: Olive Tapenade with toasted caramel and creme brulee underneath. Special and amazing.

Palate: featherbed softness that caresses the palate rather than accosts it or simply sits on it. Supple.

Finish: cherry and charcoal hints.

This is a classic old world style wine from Bordeaux. At 10 years old it is amazing right now and still has enough youth to age for years to come.
A complex and sophisticated wine that tempts and delights and is, quite simply amazing. This is another wine that PB and NW and I had the opportunity to review together. At $99 it is spendy and should be served as a very special treat to people who will appreciate the sophistication and a story.

Raise a Glass!

Chateau Grand-Puy-Lacoste 2000 review by (PB)

This Grand Cru Classe from Paulliac Bordeaux is from the super vintage of 2000 presenting with a deep opaque garnet,nice nose of ripe plum and rich blackberry with a deep nose of licorice/cedar.

Palate--This wine is still tight at 10 years old; tannic structure is maturing but needs more time. Cherry and black cherry fruit up front, with cedar and evergreen in the finish. I'd love to try this in another 10 years.

Now here is where I receive the scorn of the wine world but so be it. I appreciate the nicer Bordeaux and they cannot "really" be compared to many new world wines but that being said, the Tapestry I reviewed (below) which was less than a third of the price of this "great growth" wins my preference in taste. I cannot divorce a wine's price compared to its quality as part of the overall "rating" factor.

So there it is, raise a glass of two different style wines, two different price points and two different experiences--both wonderful.

Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) Reserve Tapestry 2006 wine review by Billy

This is a classic Napa Valley red. You'll see it in stores referred to as "BV" and it is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petit verdot, cabernet franc and malbec.

Nose: blueberry jam, smoke, cedar
Palate: soft and lush with delightfully smoky notes on the palate. Impressive but not overbearing Tannins, dark fleshy fruit notes (plums) and ever so slight peppery spice.

Finish: lighter berry hints on the finish, even some strawberry.

Overall: Wonderful new world style red. Complex and structured, evenly crafted and juicy. At $26 a steal. This wine typically is seen for $45 - 50. We had this wine at a family reunion with PB and NW and me all in the same place at the same time. These rare occasions always involve reviewing some really special wine and this was no exception. Be sure to see PB and NW's reviews as well.

Raise a Glass!

Beaulieu Vineyards "Tapestry" 2006 reivew by (PB)

In a rare meeting of the whole Wine Cask Blog--(NW)(Billy) and myself, we sat down amidst the pandemonium of our four families--and 8 of my 9 grandchildren to sit, taste and review a couple nice wines.
Presents with a deep black cherry hue with fresher fruity bouquet of black cherry and plum pie with deep tar notes.

Palate--plush tannins with solid dark fruit and the subtlest of vanilla, cocoa and fruit in the nice finish.

BV's "Tapestry" holds a special place in the enophilic chamber of my heart being such a favored wine that I transported it on a trip to Italy one year to drink in the gardens at Vignamaggio--birthplace of Mona Lise. (Pretty cheeky considering we were in the heart of Chianti...)

At any rate--(NW)scored this wine for less than $30 which is a great price on a value wine so raise a glass!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Columbia Crest Two Vines Riesling 2008 review by (PB)

Confusing bouquet with sweet almost floral with a very slight under current of something--almost chemically.

Palate--also confused sweet, off dry with slight green apple. Not unpleasant but just confusing. Was much better with a chill but probably an off-bottle from a routinely good value producer.
Raise a glass of something else.