Saturday, December 31, 2011

Perrier Jouet "Fleur De Champagne" Brut 2002 wine review by (PB)

Amber hue with streaming, fine, pin-prick bubbles with nutty notes.

Palate--Bone dry, crisp acidity, very light and nuanced with a certain elegance and green apple notes. Most remarkably, this Champagne has a finish that just hangs on and on.

Champagne lovers might cringe at my review of this wine. this is a premier bubbly that runs in the $100-$140 price range. Needless-to-say this wasn't on my dime. Billy of this blog has a thing for Champagne and any self-respecting oenophile would say the same. But my palate just has some kind of a blank when it comes to Champagne. I enjoy it, don't get me wrong but I just can't come up with all the nuances and appreciation for bubbly that I can for still wines. So, this is not the review you want to look at if you have some serious coin to blow on a sparkler from France. In the words of Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry) "A man's got know his limitations!" Raise a glass and thanks "Billy!" Anytime!!!

G. H.Mumm "Cordon Rouge" wine review by (PB)

Straw hue with streaming, pin-prick bubbles giving off a slightly nutty bouquet.

Palate--Hazelnut front with harsh bubbles and very fleeting flavor with a quick finish.

This is the wine poured in the movie Casablanca with the Bogey at his best. This was also my first Champagne which I opened with a sword under the tutelage of my son "Billy" of this blog, on a recent trip to Minnesota and kept all my digits intact!

This Champagne run anywhere from the low $20's to the mid $40's. Personally, I'd rather spend the money on a good domestic sparkler like Mumm's Brut Prestige but that's just me! Raise a glass--TONIGHT!

Heath Wines Southern Sisters Reserve Shiraz 2004 wine review by (PB)

This Barossa Valley Shiraz has a deep garnet presentation with deep blackberry, spice and cocoa with a touch of eucalyptus, tomato jelly and spiced mocha Starbucks drink. Seriously!

Palate--Dense, full bodied--ya think--with deep rich intense dark berry, rich tannins, and a fruit bomb presence that is immense, interesting and really really tasty.

This is my daughter's-in-law go to wine which we shared on a pre-Christmas visit to the Minneapolis area.

This Shiraz will run $19 but it's a lot of wine for that price so raise a glass.

Smith Woodhouse Late Bottled Vintage Port 2000 wine review by (PB)

Gentle, elegant sweet red fruit aromas with touches of cassis and prune.

Palate--Very soft presence with nice elegant raisiny flavors and a surprise hint of red chili peppers. Unusual and delightful.

At $25, a nice treat so raise a glass!

Chateau Faugeres 2004 wine review by (PB)

Nice intense black cherry hue with cola, cigar box, spicy blackberry and plum bouquet.

Palate--Silky tannins, tight black cherry fruit; needs to breathe and warm up (my cellar is at 52 degrees.) After breathing, this wine opens to a perfectly ready blackberry and plum quaff with supple structure. This is nice example of a Merlot based St. Emilion Grand Cru. This wine will hold for another 10-20 years.

I had this wine in 2007 and was so impressed with it at such a young age decided to buy another and lay it down. It was only $28 but frankly I enjoyed it more in its infancy. Raise a glass to a new year, to our 7th anniversary as a blog and to a hopeful New Year.

The Wine Cask Blog Seven Year Anniversary! (NW)

We're seven years old today! After posting nearly 2,500 wine reviews over the past seven years, our wine journey is still just beginning.

This blog has had a singular mission of consistently reviewing wines for the benefit of our readers. The three of us who author this site estimate that we've recorded tasting notes on approximately 5,000 wines, half of which appear on these pages. We deliberately post reviews on a wide variety of wines as this is a direct reflection of our enjoyment of wines from all over the world. We are all students of wine who enjoy how wine is the confluence of history, geography, cuisine, and people. We hope this site is helpful to you on your wine journey, and we look forward to another great year ahead.

Raise a glass!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 wine Surprise of the year or perhaps decade! by (PB)

Darker caramel colored hue with aromas of caramel, stewed apricot and other stone fruits with a sweet presence of dried fruit.

Palate--Totally even keeled with solid flavors of stone fruit and a slight caramel with a balanced sweetness on a supple foundation with a lingering finish of creamy dried peach/apricot.

Now sit down! I have been studying wine longer than a lot of people reading this have been alive and this is no mistake. Friends of ours (D and L) met us at another friend's house for dinner. He pulled out this wine because they had received it when he and his wife were dating and they just forgot about it. So he thought he would bring it and "share it." His wife was against the idea surmising it would be undrinkable. She SHOULD have been right but as you read, this was extraordinary. This wine should have been barely drinkable when it was at its prime! Ready???

Not only was it a Vendange White Zinfandel, Autumn Harvest(I have a hard time even putting those words down here)but it was vintage 1995.

All I can say is this was a complete anomaly, and utterly extraordinary. It was probably released at the $6 price point. (The 1994 was rated an 81 by the Wine Spectator on their 100 point scale)

At any rate--I was blown away and once again wine provides adventure and surprise like nothing else so raise a glass in the new year!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah from the WCB

Tonight there will be reunions of friends and family all over the world because of Christmas. For all the celebrations remember that without Jesus Christmas would only be "mas!" And without Adonai, the miracle of Hannukah would be nothing but folklore.

So tonight, focus on the One who really matters; the One who turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana. Whatever it was, recorded history noted that it was extraordinary which is to be expected from the One whose birth changed the world and the eternity of all who believe. Raise a glass to Immanuel--which means God with us!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Di Majo Norante Ramitello 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Stewed plums, cranberry sauce, and smoky notes on the nose

Full bodied and silky on the palate

Savory finish of dried herbs and sour plum


Here's an interesting wine that's a bit off the beaten path. Made from 80% Montepuciano and 20% Aglianico, this wine is produced near Molise, Italy, along the Adriatic Sea. It has some exotic notes on the nose and a savory finish, with good acidity that's food friendly. Expect to pay around $14, and raise a glass!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pine Ridge Vineyards Napa---Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 wine review by (PB)

Intense black cherry hue with a bouquet of wonderful raspberry cream bonbons with milk chocolate nuances.

Big flavorful hyper-berry Cabernet fruit, a little cocoa with a nice smokey finish. It is textured with finessed construction. Superior Cabernet.

This was a really nice Cab and my review doesn't do it justice. This is my second Cab from Napa Ridge as I do not see Pine Ridge in my neck of the country (Maine). These are splurge wines for sure. At $50 you need to know if you're getting what you pay for and I liked this Cab even better than the previously reviewed Stag's Leap District Cab only because it is a bit more ready to drink. Still both cabs, at this young age are extremely enjoyable so raise a glass--you deserve it!

Remember that Christmas dinner of turkey or goose is NOT a white wine fowl. Big, bold red wines that will hold up to the many strong flavors of Christmas fare. Treat yourself and have a merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Pine Ridge Vineyards Napa--Stag's Leap District--Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 wine review by (PB)

Intense blackish, dark garnet hue that leaves pigment adhering to the glass.

Bouquet--Big ripe black berry and plum with slight currant notes, cigar box and a hint of spice with chocolate covered cherries.

Palate--bold rich, plush dark berry and ripe plum with a blast of chocolate on opening that subsides as it breathes. Tannins are immature yet so drinkable finishing with an espresso and tar finish with a finale of smoke.

Disclosure--This wine was provided to the WCB to participate in a virtual wine tasting with other wine bloggers and the wine makers. (More on that later)

This wine retails for $80 and is a serious Cabernet. It will only improve with some time but is drinking well right now and is delicious. If you have the means, drink one now and lay another down for another 5-10 years. You won't be dissappointed as you raise a glass!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chimney Rock Elevage Stags Leap District Napa Valley Red Wine 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant mix of berries and spice on the nose

Full bodied and finely textured on the palate

Smooth finish with nice lingering layers of spicy black cherry and cedar


Beautifully made, this wine has class and finesse in the way it reveals its nice fruit layers. It's a well-integrated and refined style that's easy to enjoy. The blend is Bordeaux-like with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot from the Stags leap District in Napa Valley. Pair with grilled meat or roasted vegetables.

Expect to pay around $85, but don't be surprised if you have trouble finding it. A lot of this wine gets socked away in restaurant cellars. Raise a glass!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ferngreen Sauvignon Blanc 2011 wine review by (PB)

This Marlboro New Zealand creation is pale straw with immense grassy, guava paste nose with a lime foundation.

Palate is full of citrus, cut grass, lemon/lime, with solid acidity that finishes well with a long lasting S. Blanc flavor.

Trader Joe's value wine at $8 and if you love really grassy S. Blanc this is a classic NZ offering. This would make a great wine to introduce the grape-type to someone who wonders what S. Blanc tastes like. It may be too much for some but I loved it so raise a glass.

Bodega Pravada Malbec 2009 wine review by (PB)

Deep black cherry hue with red berry fruit on a blackberry nose.

Palate--Supple texture with a slight bitterness mid-palate that is endearing. It has a quick finish but tasty, ample berry pie fruit.

At $6(sale) this is a nice drinking wine so raise a glass.

"Josh" Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 wine review by (PB)

Decent ruby/garnet hue with nice aromas of big dried fruit and plum bouquet with nice cedary spice and vegetal herbal nose.

Palate--Nice berry front with sound structure that is well balanced and drinking well right now but will improve for a few more years.

I paid $15 for this wine though you can probably find it for a buck or two less. It is made the solid folks at Joseph Carr as their second label. It is a nice example of the grape and is a lot of wine for the money. This will more than likely make my top ten of 2011 so raise a glass!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bubbly for the Holidays (Sparkling Wine Sampler) by NW

At this time of year, I get a lot of questions about bubbly for the holidays. People want to make sure their gatherings are festive, and rightly so.

If you haven't noticed lately, there's good sparkling wine made in all corners of the world now. Let me give you a few suggestions:

For traditional non-vintage Champagne (the real stuff from the Champagne region of France), I like Veuve Clicquot Brut. It's classy and well made, and something about that fashionable yellow label makes a party feel extra special. This wine has tight bubbles and lots of nuances from bright fruit to roasted nuts. Also at the $40 mark, Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut is a good choice. Both of these wines are widely distributed.

For something from California instead, I like Domaine Chandon Brut. This is also a non vintage wine that is fairly widely distributed. It runs about $17, which is fairly priced. As a bargain alternative, though, grab a bottle of Korbel Brut which is often priced around the $10 mark. It's one of the best sparkling wines from California in this price range.

If you'd prefer to go off the beaten path a bit, check out Gruet Brut from New Mexico. That's right- New Mexico. A beautiful non-vintage Brut that's well made year after year, this is my current favorite in the value category. I buy it for $11 on a regular basis.

A lot of people enjoy discovering Cava from Spain and Prosecco from Italy and can't wait to introduce their friends to these wines. Unfortunately, Prosecco is seldom very good but Cava is really on the rise. Ask your local wine merchant if they stock any, and I'm sure you'll get an enthusiastic introduction to several wines that won't break the bank. Expect to pay in the teens.

Regarding other lesser known bubbly, the sparking Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley in France can be excellent and priced around $20. The only problem is that it's harder to find. Australia also produces and exports some nice sparkling wine at value prices. In fact, Barefoot Bubbly Brut is a terrific value at only $8 or so.

Lastly, consider the sweeter sparkling wines made from Moscato and Brachetto in Italy. I always have these on hand because they're a lot of fun and much more versatile than people realize. They're not just for washing down chocolate torte. Moscato d'Asti runs between $10 and $20. My favorite is Nivole from Michele Chiarlo. Brachetto d'Aqui is a little less common, but you're sure to at least find Rosa Regale from Castello Banfi for $15 to $20.

Raise a glass of bubbly!

Bogle California Petite Sirah 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Dense nose of dark plum and black currants

Full bodied and firmly textured on the palate

Slightly rustic finish but also richly layered with currants, blackberries, tar, and spice


I summarized this wine in my notes as: a good value wine, strong personality, slightly rustic, and flavorful. It had been several years since I tasted this wine, and I'm impressed with this 2009 offering. At $11 or so, stock up. And raise a glass!

Ferrari-Carano Califoria Fume Blanc 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Bright aromas of lemon and minerals on the nose

Light bodied and crisp on the palate

Lively and crips finish with some grapefruit and good acidity


This is a good choice on the "wine by the glass" list at restaurants. It's lively and has good acidity, pairs well with food, and is reliable. Fume Blanc is just another way of saying Sauvignon Blanc, as it refers to the French wines made from this grape in Pouilly-Fume. The retail price runs about $13. Raise a glass!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Inviting nose of currants, watermelon, tobacco, and sandalwood

Full bodied on the palate

Earthy, savory finish of plum, spice, and vanilla


For Brunello, this is an elegant, aromatic style of wine. While it's still coming together and could cellar a while, it tastes great after it breathes in the glass. Give it plenty of air and enjoy with regional Italian cuisine such as rabbit pappardelle or wild mushroom risotto.

This wine has a list price of $45, but I've seen it priced lower. Raise a glass!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Vietti Perbacco Langhe Nebbiolo 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Pretty nose of cherry, milk chocolate, and herbs

Medium bodied on the palate

Cherry and dried herb layers on the finish as it tapers nicely


My first thought was: a baby Barolo. Crafted from the Nebbiolo grape that is used to make Barolo, this wine is a Langhe bottling from Vietti with the proprietary label name of Perbacco. It has a pretty bouquet on the nose like so many wines from this region of Italy. It's not a particularly complex wine, but it tasted nice and complimented an assortment of Northern Italian dishes with ease. Expect to pay around $25.

Raise glass!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Argento Malbec 2009 wine review by (PB)

Beet juice hue with bouquet of dark berry,

Palate--stewed fruit front, silky tannins, rich presence with solid berry flavor.

The wine is better than the review notes; for $10 at Trader Joe's raise a glass!