Monday, February 28, 2011

Souverein Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Alexander Valley review by (PB)

Purple garnet hue with spring flower aromas with rich dark fruit and a touch of chocolate with more floral berry fruit on opening.

Palate--Nice first impression with an almost candied front. Black cherry and black berry fruit on a foundation that is built to last. Finishes with a touch of cola and smoke.

This is drinking well right now but should be a very nice big wine Cab in another 2-3 years. It is a good example of the grape!

Certain wines bring up nice memories from my early days of oenology. Chateau Souverein wines were one of my earliest wine experiences--when I could afford a little splurge. It's not that they were expensive but when you have a family, are a student etc,well you know. That was over 30 years ago. In 2005 they were purchased by Francis Ford Copolla of the patronymic winery in NAPA. He's done a nice job of maintaining quality!

I will serve this with a grilled grass fed NY strip steak in protest of yet more snow! I think I paid around $17 for this nice wine. Raise a glass!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Joseph Phelps Insignia 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Big bouquet of dark berries, anise, and chocolate on the nose

Full bodied and densely structured on the palate

Long finish of blackberry, anise, rich spice, and vanilla


This is a beautifully made wine and a real treat. It's big, dense, and chewy with plenty of fruit along with anise and spice. At 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot and 1% Merlot, this wine is a benchmark blend that has many admirers and attracts many collectors. It's priced at $200; maybe a bit less depending on the merchant. Raise a glass!

Rusack Santa Barbara County Syrah 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Rich nose of dark berries and plum

Full bodied on the palate

Plush finish of blackberry jam, black cherry, chocolate, and pepper


The Syrah coming out of Santa Barbara County has been outstanding lately, and this wine is no exception. It has all the right stuff- ripe fruit, depth, and structure. It will cellar but tastes great young, too. I paid $25 for this bottle. Raise a glass!

Kim Crawford 2010 Sauvignon Blanc wine review by Billy

Nose: Very fruity pear and apple with some vanilla flower hints
Palate: incredibly smooth. Firm acids give structure and poise while the wine slides like silk around the mouth. Incredible!
Finish: Apples, mown grass and flowers on the finish.

Overall: I paid about $15 for this wine at a local store. It is a wonderful, "drink any-time and be impressed" sauvignon blanc. It has the elegance of an expensive white with the fruitiness and accessibility of a table white. If you see it in your local store buy two. One for now and one for tomorrow!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Montes Alpha Colchagua Valley Apalta Vineyard Syrah 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Boysenberry, coffee, and spice notes fold into a bouquet on the nose

Full bodied and firm

Beautiful layers of black raspberry, dark chocolate, and herbs on the finish


This wine seems to have become more widely available as of late. It's a great introduction to the type of Syrah that's being produced in Chile, which seems to have huge potential in the sunny, high altitutde vineyards alongside Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine is very good, beatifully layered, dark, rich, and firm. I paid $17 and have seen it priced more typically around $20. Raise a glass!

Gypsy Boots Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Expansive bouquet of smoky currants, black cherry, and mulling spices

Full bodied and sumptuous

Layers of pomegranate and cola on the finish


This is a big, expressive style of Pinot Noir with lots of fruit and layers of spice and cola. It may be over the top for lovers of delicate and elusive Pinot, but it's all in proportion. At $30, it's not a terrific bargain but it does offer a memorable experience. Raise a glass!

Pozzan "Back Barn" Zinfandel 2008 wine review by (PB)

Lighter garnet hue with a bouquet of simple blackberry fruit with a touch of milk chocolate behind it.

Palate--Thin texture with harsh acid but good zinfandel berry flavors and smoke. A little tannic chew but varietal Zinfandel presence. Finishes with a lingering finish of bitter berry and smoke.

This says "Oakville Cuvee" on the label stating it is a single vineyard Napa Zin.

This is a fine example of a $10 Zinfandel that sells for $22. You read that right. This isn't a bad wine but does not have the complexity or character ofa single vineyard Zin and is consequently overpriced by 100%.

For the money I would pass on this and leave it in the "back barn." Raise a glass of a single vineyard Rosenblum Zin for $22!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

L. Latour Beaujolais Villages "Chameroy" 2009 wine review by (PB)

Beautiful crystalline hue with stellar aromas of clean, floral strawberry, cherry and slight cocoa powder with candy apple and rye.

Palate-- Minerally with solid foundation supporting nice fruit that is a little tight. Throw in some strawberry and clove and this is a real wine with some backbone from the soon to be fables vintage of Beaujolais. Under $12! Raise a glass!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ruffino Modus Toscana 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant blackberry, blueberry, and dark chocolate on the nose

Full bodied, dense, and chewy on the palate

Persistent finish of dark berries, coffee, vanilla, and cedar


Here's a dense, layered super-Tuscan from Ruffino that will blow you away. At 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Merlot, it has tons of rich fruit along with persistent layers that are savory and complex. Enjoy this now or for many years to come. At $30 or so, it's a steal. Raise glass!

Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Currants and herbs on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

Cherry, dill, and other dried herbs on the finish


Silver Oak Cabernets tend to age well, but this 2005 is a little bit flat compared with other vintages of Silver Oak's Alexander Valley bottlings. It doesn't have much depth. For $60 or so, take a pass.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Carl Gunderloch Beerenauslese "Messidor" 2005 wine review by (PB)

Golden honey color with big grapefruit aroma up front with sweet,baked mandarin orange underneath, rose petal notes and overall awesome bouquet!

Palate--Not as thick as a Sauternes but lovely, silky texture with racy acid and a lingering finish. This wine should hold for several (many) more years. Awesome!

This is one of those wine bargains you want to shoot yourself for not getting more of when you had the chance. This half bottle cost $17 on sale from $35. If you know German pradikats, a Beerenauslense at this price is amazing. A treat if you can find it so raise a glass!

Campo Viejo Reserva 2005 wine review by (PB)

Dark garnet hue with cherry-berry and dried cherry and black licorice bouquet.

Palate--Pepper on the front with black cherry and cola on a decent frame.

This is Tempranillo, pretty straight forward and a decent wine at the price of $14. Raise a glass.

Monday, February 14, 2011

DVX 2000 by Mumm Napa sparkling wine review by Billy

Nose: bread dough & vanilla custard
Palate: dry, crackers, lemon citrus, prickling dancing bubbles that are spritely and irreverently indelicate
Finish: citrus and green apple
Overall: This was the valentines day celebration sparkling wine that we enjoyed with fresh strawberries and clotted cream. It is a wonderfully delightful American sparkling wine. It is dry and citrussy with classic yeasty / doughy notes that are more characteristic of a classic Champagne. The bubbles give character while retaining a quintessentially American irreverence. They dance and play and ebb and flow.

This is a sparkling wine for the risqué, the bad boy/girl with a taste for something refined. Raise a glass and kiss your lover.

2001 Chateau de Chamboureau Savennieres cuvee d' avant wine review by Billy

Nose: heady citrus and pineapple with warm caramel
Palate: semi dry with very light acid structure. Very light in texture and feel
Finish: soft and slightly floral with some lime rind acid structure emerging only here.
Overall: Presents yellow gold in the glass. i paid 22.99 for this wine in 2005 at a small wine shop in Freeport Maine. Served with caprese salad, fresh baked bread and home made butter sage pasta.

Raise a glass!
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

14 Hands "Hot To Trot" Red Blend 2009 wine review by (PB)

Deep Purple with big plumy licorice scents and artificial vanilla aroma.

Palate--Silky texture with creamy berry fruit that has a wonderful texture. Quite tasty and *popularly made.

*This Washington State blend is a popular wine to the masses. It is popularly priced at $9, made to be gentle in the mouth with big, fruit forward flavor. What follows is not meant to be "snobby" but helpful.

I liked the taste and texture of this wine initially but by the third taste it was beginning to wear on my palate. Every sip was identical with nothing to commend it other than the taste. I know that may seem contradictory but it is boring.

When (NW) of this blog and I were talking about it, I said one word describes this wine and (NW) said "Manufactured" which is what I had written in my book. (NW) calls such a wine "wine beverage." It is made en masse with masses in mind who just want to drink something pleasant but is utterly uninteresting and doesn't taste like it is from anywhere. Bottom line is it IS tasty so if you like it raise a glass!

Chateau Les Tours De Peyrat "Villes Vignes" 2005 review by (PB)

Black cherry hue with creamy milk chocolate base with bold plum and a hint of pine pitch.

Palate--A bit of a thin mouth feel with a cedary foundation and a firm tannic structure. Austere blackberry fruit finishes with smoke and is a touch rustic.

This Grand Vin De Bordeaux--a Premieres Cotes De Blaye--is 80%Merlot, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Malbec. $13 is a good price on this wine and drinks better than my review but needs a couple more years. Never-the-less, raise a glass.

J. Lohr Seven Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 wine review by (PB)

This Paso Robles Cab. is a deep dark black cherry with big fudgey, black cherry cola aromas loaded with plums and cigar box, accompanied by currant and gentle anise.

Palate--Silky tannins with loads of dark black berry, wild spice, good fruit on a young frame. Big all around flavors and a long finish.

This is a really nice Cab especially at $15 and should be awesome in a couple more years but drinking really well now. So raise a glass!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Louis Roederer 2003 Blanc de Blancs Champagne Review by Billy

Nose: sharp citrus, dry mild yeast and soft vanilla spiked caramel on the nose with minerally (lavender ?) hints
Palate: Extremely fine bubbles that float as jewels then saunter then gather at the top of the flute, trumpet or champagne glass. Dry with lemon peel mid palate.
Finish: Long finish with floral citrus and lavender.
Overall: This is an absolutely delightful Champagne. It has a wonderful structure that is dry but a finish that does not leave you puckered. The nose is complex and layered with dominant citrus on a foundation of complex yeast and lavender minerals. The bubbles are absolutely gorgeous. The champagne is widely available. We paid about $50 for this vintage Champagne at Costco.

Raise a glass!

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Rugerro Di Tasso Nero D'Avola 2008 review by (PB)

Sour pie cherry bouquet and little fizz in the mouth. This is an odd wine from the bouquet to the palate. I loved the 2007 found at Trader Joe's and at $6 it was a great value. This 2008 is just strange. It tastes like it hasn't finished fermentation like a new wine.

The 07 was a very classic Nero D'Avola while this is just weird. I'll have to buy another bottle and check to see if this is an outlier. It's not offensive and some people would love it chilled down, but it doesn't taste like what it should taste like so pass on this until and unless I review another.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

St. Supery Elu Napa Valley Red Wine 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Big aromatic nose of chocolate, plum sauce, and dark berries

Full bodied and plush texture on the palate

Silky, layered finish with plush tannins accompanying rich berries, currants, and spice


This wine surprised me on two accounts. I spotted it as a special offering on a restaurant wine list for $67, which is a significant bargain considering the wine retails for around $60. Also, it's a lot bigger and more plush than I expected. With that said, it still seems to retain balance and finesse.

Crafted in a Meritage style from a blend of noble Bordeaux grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this wine could also lay in the cellar for a few more years. Raise a glass!

Elio Perrone Tasmorcan Barbera D'Asti 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Black cherry, violets, and plum on the nose

Ripe, round, and full bodied on the palate

Smooth finish of plum, blackberry, and vanilla


Barbera from the Piedmont region in Italy often surprises people. Many expect a more austere and savory wine and are surprised to find Barbera quite round and supple.

This offering has ripe fruit, floral notes, and a smooth finish in a very international style. Check it out as an alternative to Malbec or Merlot. It runs approximately $14. Raise a glass!

Sean Minor 4 Bear Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Sponsored Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant cherries and red berries on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Finishes with moderately soft tannins, more red berry layers, and notes of licorice, cinnamon, and vanilla


Here's another good value wine from Sean Minor. It's an easy drinking Napa Cab that leans toward cherry and red berries with lingering notes of licorice and spice. The reference price is $18.

We've reviewed a number of Sean Minor wines here at The Wine Cask Blog and they're consistenly well made. This is my first tasting of a Cabernet. Raise a glass!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Wine surprise--make that shock--of my life (PB)

(NW) of this blog serves me a "blind" sample of a red wine. We do this to sharpen each others sensitivities and attention to detail when reviewing wines with each other.
My notes--Hue--showing considerable age yet with life, bricking at the rim.

Bouquet--is absolutely lovely and lively with a subtle raisiny/pruney foundation reminiscent of a nice Amarone. There are wonderful waftings of fragrant and sweet dill and caraway (rye bread) topped by cigar box aromas and powdered milk chocolate.

Palate--Stunningly silky mouth feel with plush integrated flavors of creamy stewed black fruit, currant, ripe mushy raisins. There are still the makings for a wine of age with tannins and acid to hold. Creamy fruit and cherry finish. Stunning!

I exclaimed to (NW) "This is why we drink wine!" He just smirked. So it was time to give him my assessment. I said--"This is a wine of 15-20 years, perhaps an Amarone, Barolo or nice Super Tuscan.

He unveiled the bottle showing a 2001 Columbia Crest "Grand Estates" Merlot which costs around $11. He knew I wasn't buying it so he laughed and pretended to get the real bottle. But alas--it WAS the REAL bottle. I am still waiting for him to contact me and tell me he was just kidding but I don't believe he was.

This wine was phenomenal. How could such a seasoned expert with over 30 years of experience be so WRONG? It is simple--to be a great wine identifier, you have to have tasted the wines you are trying to ID blind. How many of us "lay down" the easy drinking wines like Columbia Crest when they drink so well out of the gate? So the fact is, I have not had many (meaning less than 3 (if that) probably) of domestic, inexpensive but well made Merlots that are 10 years old. With no reference point, the grape didn't taste like Merlot and the wine didn't taste like a table wine.

The moral of the story? There are companies out there which actually make really good, yet inexpensive wines for every day consumption at the $10-$15 price point but are never allowed to reach their potential. The Columbia Crest "Grand Estates" line are one such wine. So if you have a few laying around, put some age on them and then sit back and get ready to raise a glass and be stunned!

Jean Francois Merieau "Bulles" NV review by (PB)

Light pale, subtle bouquet with light apple, light quince or pear perhaps and a touch of dill on the edge.

Palate--Dry as a dusty road into the Loire vineyard from which the Chenin Blanc grapes (80%)and the Chardonnay(20%)came for this wine. This sparkler has pin prick bubbles and a gentle fruit nuttiness but the Chenin still comes through.

I struggle with evaluating sparkling wines for some reason. I know what I like but for some strange reason aromas seem to be elusive to me, fruit covert, and structure a little baffling. At under $20 it is a refreshing, crisp wine pairing well with cheeses or all by itself. Raise a glass.