Saturday, April 30, 2011

Kingston Family Casablanca Valley Lucero Syrah 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Interesting aromas of dark plum, roasted meat, mesquite, and pepper on the nose

Full bodied and dense on the palate

Long finish of dark fruit and pepper


Here's a very good Syrah from Chile. It's dark, rich, and interesting. Like much of the Syrah produced in California and Washington, it exhibits rich fruit and pepper. It also has a roasted meat aroma which makes this wine a bit exotic. For $17 or so, I recommend this wine and suggest you serve it alongside a hearty meat dish. Raise a glass!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Beaulieu Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (NAPA) 2006 review by (PB)

Hefty garnet color with lovely fruit filled bouquet of ripe black berries, and anise.

Palate--Still rigid structure that will benefit from a couple more years but drinking pretty well. It should soften up and open up revealing more than what it's showing right now. I got this on sale for $15 but usually runs around $20.

This would be a wine to lay down for 2 more years and I think you will be rewarded. Raise a glass!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Le Coq Rouge 2009 review by (PB)

Cherry-garnet hue with aromas that remind me of homemade wine. (That's not a good start.) Bright candied fruity flavors and cocoa powder.

Palate--Lifeless first impression with subdued cherry fruit and a touch of tannic structure. All in all, plonk especially at $10.

This wine is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon primarily but you wouldn't know it from the wine itself. It would be fine for a patio party where wine is a beverage and not an experience. This is a red wine that you could easily chill or use for Sangria or some kind of spritzer.

At this price point there are gazillions of red wines that have structure, character and real "wine" taste. This should be priced around $4. So If you're having a party, raise a glass, if not, well.......................

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sideyard Gewurztraminer 2007 review by (PB)

Light gold with a bouquet that is a bit a typical for a Gewurztraminer with loads of lemon, pineapple and tropical fruit.

Palate--Zingy acid foundation with lemon in loads, off dry, fruit galore, and unique. Finishes with a long lingering cream.

This is from a California shipper (?) importing this wine from the Pfalz (Germany) and is a tasty if unusual Gewurz. But it was nice on our porch for the first wine of the season outdoors at 61 degrees. Yeah! That's Summer for us. My wife paid $10 for this and I would buy another. We will *pair it with dinner tonight with what we call "country scramble." (Grits, fried ham with milk gravy and scrambled eggs all over home made biscuits. Can't wait to raise a glass!) *Late addition--the pairing was marvelous!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chateau Montelena 2007 Chardonnay wine review by Billy

Nose: strong green apple and citrus with a steely core.
Palate: firm acid at the center of a soft and slightly creamy outer mouth feel.  Very dry and crisp.
Finish: citrus and strong limes on the finish. Lasting.
Overall: this was our main course wine with Easter dinner.  We served it with a carmelized onion marmelade tarte, seitan, mashed potatos, cibatta bread and cranberry sauce.  It was a lovely accompanyment.  This winery gained noteriety in the movie "Bottle Shock" which remains the best movie about wine to this day.

Abadia Retuerta 1997 review by (PB)

This Spanish Tempranillo, Cabernet blend shows its age with bricking at the rim on a brick red (hence the term) characteristic of an aged wine.

Bouquet--interesting, dusty,dirty front with unpleasant toluene (think airplane glue) on opening which disappears with some air. Remnants of aged fruit struggle to emerge through some smoke and currant notes.

Palate--In spite of its age, it is still lively with a nice foundation for the subtle stewed, sweet dark fruits that is hard to pin down but loads of character and smoke with wood.

(NW)and I tasted this 2 years ago and I obtained the last one available for $17 intending to hold it for two years then re-taste as we did. (To see how a wine changes even after two years compare this review to the one two years ago.)

Aged wines are a different world altogether. They take on such different qualities that even well known grapes can start tasting alike. You have to enjoy the nuances of mature wines and approach them with entirely different expectations than young ones. But the world that awaits is worth the wait.

This wine is beginning to fade and I would raise a glass before the end of 2011!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pine Ridge California Chenin Blanc- Viognier 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Interesting aromas of white peach, clementine, and lemon on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Rich layers of pear and lychee on the finish


This wine is rich and has a good flavor profile. I see it more and more as a wine by the glass offering at restaurants. It's a good choice for its versatility.

The blend is 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Viognier. This gives the wine rich fruit flavor and depth along with some weight without being too heavy. Expect to pay in the low teens, although I've seen this wine priced as low as $10 on the internet. Raise a glass!

Hardwick Vineyard and Winery "Hardwick Red" (NV) review by (PB)

Lighter cherry color for the Marechal Foch (pronounced--Marishel Foesh)which is a deeply pigmented grape which grows in hardy climates like Massachusetts and Maine (my state). This has an interesting bouquet of unfermented grape, candied apple and some nice spice. This is the best part of this wine.

Palate--Very tart (ie., too acidic)which seems to be common for this grape. It is light bodied, fruity but no substance or pizzazz. No one wanted a second glass which says all you need to know. I know neither me nor(NW)finished our first.

I know this grape all too well; I have been growing and making wine (recreationally) out of this grape for 5 years and have never been pleased with the end result. However I must say,mine is better than this and I would be embarrassed to "sell" it at any price...This was a gift from friends who visited the winery in Hardwick, Mass. It was helpful to taste a "professionally" made wine from Marechal Foch. This is the 2nd commercially produced Marachel Foch wine I have had and neither were sellable in my opinion. After 5 years of very marginal wines from this grape, I have decided to plant a different variety. Raise a glass of something else!

Stevenot Orange Muscat 2005 review by (PB)

Amber hue showing some age with sweet caramel and stone fruit with emphasis on apricot.

Palate--Thick texture, rich sweet stone fruit nectar with good structure and lingering dried apricot flavors. Interesting.

At $9 for a 500ml bottle this is a very nice dessert wine with surprisingly good structure. A wine this thick and sweet would be sickeningly cloying but this is well made with plenty of acid to carry the sweetness to a delightful, after dinner wine. This is a solid value and a "buy another or two" and raise a glass.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cline Zinfandel "California" 2009 review by (PB)

Lighter ruby hue with overly ripe red berry aromas with what I can only describe as a "cheap wine" bouquet.

Palate--A touch tart, with saliva stimulating structure around berry flavors and a dry finish.

I am a big fan of Cline Zins which you know if you follow this blog. This is their inexpensive $8-$10 price point Zin which I got for $8 at Sam's this afternoon. That is about $6 too much as this reminds me of Two Buck Chuck.

I have recommended many past vintages of this same wine over the years calling them a good value wine. This one is worth raising a glass only to dump it in the sink. Oh well! (Okay, later addition--it is not a bad wine to cook with!)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Maryhill winery 2008 Pinot Gris sponsored wine review by billy

Nose: gentle cantaloupe melon with citrus flower notes and a nutmeg core.
Palate: soft mouth feel with a velvety spread across the tongue and honeyed notes at the front with acids at the back that are unpresuming.
Finish: long and honeyed with more citrus and spice.
Overall: Delightful, soft and supple.  This washington state white wine was sent to us to review from the good folks at Maryhill winery.  This pinot gris wine comes from Mary hill winery in glendale washington. We had this with a delightful meal where it was paired with a cold asparagus and red grapefruit salad with rosemary spiked creme fraische.  It complemented this early course very well.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Cain Five Napa Valley Red Wine 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant nose of currants and dry earth

Full bodied and dry on the palate

Cherries and herbs layered nicely on the finish


Cain produces this Napa Valley red blend from the five noble red grapes of Bordeaux: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. It results in a dry, elegant style of wine that has a fragrant nose and a long finish. It's a special treat at $100 or so. Raise a glass!

Charles Shaw California Merlot 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Red plum and wild berries on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

Raspberry and light oak on the finish


Once in a while I sample some wines from the Trader Joe's house specialty, which is lovingly referred to as "Two Buck Chuck" by the faithful and devoted fans who buy millions of cases a year. This 2009 Merlot is a really straightforward wine, with simple fruit and oak. The verdict? Well, not bad for $2 (or $3 depending on where you live).

Personally, I'd rather spend more to hopefully get more. However, the Charles Shaw line has been a consistent product for years with a number of red and white offerings. I admire the approach and will raise a glass to that!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Trimbach (Alsatian) Gewurztraminer 2005 review by (PB)

Lighter golden hue with light orange on a lovely honeyed fruit front and loaded with tropical fruit compote and spice.

Palate--thin textured with pure minerally tropical fruit with an austere foundation characteristic of Alsatian Gewurz. This is probably the singular difference in an Alsatian Gewurz. vs. a domestic or new world one.

It smells like it should be a desert wine but as soon as it hits your palate you know you're drinking something of a different nature. This is not sweet but bone dry with a nice lasting tropical finish.

I will pair it with a quasi-Asian scallop and snow peas delight. I paid $10 for this wine but was on close out and sells at the $20 and above price point. Raise a glass!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Anciano Tempranillo Riserva 2004 review by (PB)

This Tempranillo aged 5 years before release was on sale for $9 so what's to lose?

Stewed prune aromas with light cherry underneath.

Palate--sweet cherry under ripe raisin on a perfectly relaxed frame being completely mature with light peppery underlay.

For the price, this is a good example of an integrated,mature wine as opposed to an immature, angular wine. For the price, I'll raise a glass.

House Wine (red) 2007 review by PB

Pigmented with big aromas of chocolate covered fruit.
Palate--Soft confused fruit with slight blueberry notes. This is an easy to drink wine but suffers from a lack of focus.

This is a common problem with wines that are blended beyond reason. This wine is an overly blended hodgepodge of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot,Zinfandel,Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot. (The only wine with a blend of so many grapes that is superior is BV's Tapestry.)

Charles Smith--the Washington State vintner who usually produces a general line of solid wines, seems to have become distracted in the past few years with respect to his "House Wine" labeled reds. They used to be solid value wines but the last few years, these have been worth ignoring. His white "House Wine" label still tends to be good values. I'd give him a shot each new vintage to see what he's produced. At $10 they can be really good but for now--this House Wine should remain homeless.

Salice Salentino Riserva 2007 Cantele review by (PB)

Nice black cherry hue with some depth.
Bouquet--Some fresh cherry behind touches of cocoa.
Palate--rigorous structure with a wine that is still youthful. The rear is a bit of muddled red fruit that is both bright but engulfed by the intriguing foundation.

This wine for $10 is a blend of 85% Negroamaro and 15% Malvasia Nera reminds me of Nero D'Avola but bolder and rougher. It is different and intriguing enough to raise a glass!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Novella Rayons De Soleil Muscat Canelli 2009 review by (PB)

Straw hue with an amazing bouquet of lush sweet tropical fruit with emphasis on ripe pineapple. Floral fruit notes with gorgeous ripe pineapple in the trailing aromas above the glass.

Palate--Structured with solid acid foundation to carry the immense sweet fruit filled mango, stone fruit flavors; juicy.

This is an awesome chilled aperitif or serve with spicy Asian food. Raise a glass to this wonderful, value Trader Joe's wine at the $10 price point.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Eberle Paso Robles Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant aromas of raspberry ganache and cassis on the nose

Full bodied and smooth on the palate

Smooth finish layered with berry cobbler, plum, cocoa, and cassis


I've sampled this wine every year since 1998 and this is one of the best. It's fragrant and smooth, with beautifully integrated layers and a long finish.

This is a good representation of the type of Cab produced in Paso Robles and it should pair well with a variety of food. I paid $20 for the bottle, but it's often available for a bit less. Raise a glass!

Chateau De Seguin 2008 review by (PB)

Intense opaqueish garnet hue with notes of baked bread with floral Daffodil front then sweet spiced red fruit and light licorice but more cedar.

Palate--Baked bread carries through on the palate with steely minerals, and tight red fruit. Needs to breathe...With a couple hours and an aerator, crushed dried blackberries all over the nose, with lively cherry-berry fruit coming out nicely.

I bought two more bottles to lay down a couple years and this should be really a value wine at $10 from Trader Joe's! Raise a glass!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Corino Barolo 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant cherry pie and strawberry aromas on the nose

Medium bodied and finely textured on the palate

Long, layered finish of blueberry and vanilla turns dry with tobacco and earth


A good bottle of Barolo is always a special treat. While this one is still quite young, it's beautiful and approachable. The nose is really fragrant and the long finish changes character through interesting layers that are both fruity and dry. Some additional bottle age will most likely really bring this together.

The Nebbiolo grape finds its unique home in the Piedmont of Northern Italy. While many of the producers now focus their top bottlings on vineyard-specific Barolos, some still make a basic Barolo blend. Corino does both, and this is their basic wine that retails for $40 or so. I got a great deal at $27 and will be going back for more. Raise a glass!

Bodegas Benegas Juan Benegas Malbec 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Somewhat muted fruit cake and dark chocolate notes on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

Abbreviated finish of dark fruit and herbs


Here's a Malbec that just doesn't make the cut for me. It's a bit disappointing because it's flat, lacking that richness and wild berry edge that so many others showcase. It runs around $12. Raise a glass of something else!

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico 2006 review by (PB)

Dark garnet hue with unique Port-like aroma on opening with sweet stewed prunes, and subtle cherry underneath.

Palate--This wine is still tight with young chewy tannins, stingy fruit,minerally and needs TIME, and air.

Light cherry with pepper but unfortunately I drank it too young! This needs cellaring for a couple more years at least. This wine will be a fine wine if you have the patience to wait; I did not. My loss but raise a glass to nice wines that still need maturation!

This was a special gift from special friends making it, what else--a special wine regardless!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Uppercut 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wine review by Billy

Nose: resinous cedar, blueberry, cherry and black pepper notes
Palate: firm tannins, medium mouth feel, good food pairing wine,
Finish: fruity and short.
Overall: this wine was a gift from friends.  I have seen it online ranging anywhere from $23 -$30.  Overall the wine is a nice, meal-friendly cab.  It should be paired with food.  It will complement beef and hearty soups and stews.  As a vegetarian, I had it with cheeses, hearty minnestrone and a fantastic salad. 

Monday, April 04, 2011

Rosenblum Zinfandel Harris Kratka Vineyard 2005 revie by (PB)

Some intensity in the color with some maturation in the garnet hue with somewhat opaque rim.

Bouquet is complex with jammy wild black berry, a touch of baker's cocoa, and for the first time having had numerous bottles of this wine, there was a green hay note behind the big aromas. It is hard to sequester the anise/licorice notes from the rest.

Palate--solid, mature wine with integrated tannins, big dark fruit, with a dark chocolate finish, a touch of smoke and more black berries. I have only one bottle left--sad! This wine sells at the mid $20 price point but I got it on close out for around $14. Now that is how you should buy and drink wine; raise a glass.

Mark West Pinot Noir (Coastal California) 2009 review by (PB)

Light bright black cherry hue with fresh fruit aromas of spicy strawberry with slight cinnamon notes. Quite nice!

Palate--Juicy acid,with mouth watering presence. Light on the palate with strawberry notes and a decent finish.

This is a value "Coastal California" sourced Pinot Noir wine and Mark West does it well. Be sure to read the labels of the Mark West line of wines as they source grapes from all over the world. For $10, it tastes real and varietal so raise a glass.

"The Boxer" Bill Calabria Oak Aged Durif 2008 review by (PB)

"Bill Calabria" puts his name on the label and in the title of this wine. This wine has a deep and inky garnet to black hue. It has a very sweet surface with cigar ash behind the chocolate covered cherry aromas.

Palate: Presents with a unique front and nice texture. The mid-palate is also unique with chewy tannins and a candy-like, yet bold dark--really dark berry quality and finish.

I grabbed this for $9 thinking I was getting a "new," at least to me, varietal to add to my list of grapes I have tried. What I discovered is that the Durif is actually a variety of Petite Sirah. This Aussie grown wine is big so pair it with something up to the task of standing up to such a big wine. Grilled steaks, rack of lamb you get the picture and raise a glass.