Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our 8th Anniversary! (NW)

Wow, it's our 8th Anniversary at The Wine Cask Blog. Hard to believe! The three of us have been enjoying the world of wine for a long time and our more that 2,500 reviews on this site bring back a flood of memories. Our no-nonsense approach to reviewing wine in plain language was ground breaking in the blogosphere eight years ago. Our full disclosure policy on sponsored reviews was unheard-of back then, when corporate America was quietly buying favorable blog reviews for everything from diapers to DVD players.

A lot has changed, for sure, and we marvel at the way wine blogs in particular have taken off. There's a lot of great content out there, and a lot of enthusiasm for the incredible developments in the world of wine. Wine is an everyday occurance for us, and we gladly share it with our readers. Thanks for stopping by, and raise a glass!

Barone Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Spicy cherry with blackberry jam notes on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Savory, earthy finish that's full and layered with tobacco and raspberry


This wine has been consistently good for at least a decade. It has been at the forefront of the richer, more extracted style evolution of Chianti Classico that has taken hold in recent years. Ever since the requirement for white blending grapes was lifted and the Sangiovese percentages loosened, Chianti Classico has been steadily improving and this dense, juicy, extracted style has emerged as the wine of choice.  In fact, in blind tastings, many Classicos are now mistaken for Brunello which shows the potential for this region.

While Barone Ricasoli makes a number of very good reds, this is a consistent and widely distributed offering. It's great young, but also cellars for at least 10 years. I'm still drinking the 2003, which hardly tastes older than this 2009. Try to find a deal, though, as prices have crept up over the $20 mark. While no longer a bargain, it's good juice.  Raise a glass!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Charles & Charles Red Blend 2011 wine review by (PB)

Thin cherry hue with aromas of vegetal fruit with a touch of mocha.

Palate--bready, non-nondescript, dark fruit with a finish of milk chocolate.

This blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon and 28% Syrah is your basic plonk, an adjective I don't use often.

This wine is collaborative effort between Charles Beiler and Charles Smith, the iconoclastic wine guru of the reliable Washington State K Vintner's. Smith always does a decent job on his wines whether single vineyard or basic sourced blends. This is an exception to what I expect from Smith and while I am not familiar with Mr. Bieler, he seems to be an opportunist who is more interested in scoring an experience rather than investing in the art of wine making. (This is based on what I have read online; beyond this I have no frame of reference for Mr. Bieler)

This is a big disappointment even at $11 and I would urge Mr. Smith to regain focus and do what he does best--producing quality and value Washington State wines.
Find something else of which to raise a glass!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

ZD Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 wine review by (PB)

Deep purple hue to the rim with rich, black licorice front with deep berry and a coffee twinge to the lush rustic fruit underneath.

Palate--gloriously integrated on a bed of plush tannins balanced with mocha notes and more fruit.

ZD winery stands for Zero Defects and that is what you get with this beautiful Cab. It is a stunning Cabernet from a stunning vintage from the Cabernet capital of the world--NAPA, Ca. Finishes with toasty oak!

This was the second wine I opened with our standing rib roast for Christmas and it was a stellar accompaniment to the meal.

This was a gift from friends on a trip a year or two or three? ago to Napa and thought enough of us to present us with this bottle and two winery glasses which I am sad to say did not last as long as the wine. I laid it down for a couple years knowing I would be rewarded for the patience of waiting on the 07 vintage to get a little maturity under its cork. I was right.

This wine retails around $50 price point and if you happen to find one and happen to have the means and the inclination to buy it, it is exceptional and classic Napa Cabernet.

So raise a glass to a great wine, Napa Valley and good friends! Thanks M and K!!!

Chateau Gigognan "Vigne Du Regent" 2004 wine review by (PB)

Mature garnet hue with pronounced bouquet of rustic cherry and crazy olive but this was upon opening.

After 4 hours of breathing this wine opens to a really nice Chateau Neuf Du Pape with a delicious palate that is complex and warm, rich and textured berry with rustic cherry and a touch of smoke on the finish. A couple reviews I read were not impressed with this wine however it may very well have been that they either did not let it get a few years going for it or opened it without sufficient breathing. This wine needed several hours to open.

This was the first wine we opened for our "roast beast" on Christmas day of standing rib roast.

Expect to pay $40 for it and its well worth it.

Raise a glass to beautiful Rhone wines that strut their stuff without killing your budget.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Belleruche Cotes Du Rhone 2011 wine review by (PB)

Ripe tropical fruit
Palate--Fruity tropical melange with good acidic backbone. Fleeting and short.

A tasty aperitif with a light cheese spread waiting the standing rib roast Christmas dinner.

Chapoutier puts together some classic Rhone quaffs at reaonsble price points. this is the ubiquitous $10 price point and is what you might expect.

*A house full of scents from candles and cooking skews a reasonable appreciation of the bouquet but even with the strong scents, the tropical fruit cuts through it all.

A refreshing aperitif so raise a glass!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tenute Folonari Campo al Mare Bolgheri 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Smoky dark fruit and floral notes on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Layered finish of cassis, roasted meat, and charcoal


There's an intensity and persistence to this wine that's expressed in the dark fruit, roasted, and smoky profile. Priced at $32, it's made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc in the Bogheri region where this type of blend is the norm. There will be plenty of cellaring potential if you choose to. If you open it young, simply aerate or decant to open up the aromas as much as possible. Hearty Tuscan fare should prove a good match. Raise a glass!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chateau de Myrat Sauternes 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Beautiful honey, almonds, and apricot on the nose

Full bodied and richly textured on the palate

Long, rich finish that's almost creamy with honey, citrus creme, and tropical fruit


A beautiful young Sauternes! It's absolutely delicious but kind of a crime to be opened so young. Your crime will be forgiven, though, because it's understandable that you'd want to drain a bottle of this dessert nectar at the end of a nice dinner. It has a huge nose and a long, long finish that is richly layered. The retail price is $45, but you might also find half bottles for around $25. Raise a glass!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Butterfield Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 wine review by (PB)

Youthful looking with dark black cherry hue.
The bouquet is full of dark berry fruit and some cedar.

Palate--Integrated tannins, some real cab flavor and a nice surprise at $6 on a sale.

Why did I bother with such an inexpensive Cabernet? Even though it is a sourced wine 2007 was a stellar year for Napa and most other cab regions. So I figured for the price, I just might score a wine that was a bargain and I did! So raise a glass.

White 4 Vina Robles 2008 wine review by (PB)

This wine is a pretty yellow gold with big aromas of ripe cantaloupe, sweet apple, and tropical fruit with a backbone of vanilla.

Palate--Pronounced acidity with strong flavors of blended fruits on a vanilla frame. Everything in the bouquet is in the palate; a big wine. Quick finish of green apple.

This is an unexpected blend of Verdelho, Vermentino,Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier, not exactly the grapes one expects of Paso Robles.

This is a really surprising wine! It is so big, and full and complex; a lot of wine for $15 and yet I paid $6 at my fave wine store. I wasn't expecting this.

Various growers are really trying to expand their reach with respect to grape varieties grown and this mix of a Rhone (Viognier), a Tuscan, (Vermentino) and a Portuguese (Verdelho) varietals shows that it can be done.

This would make an awesome brunch wine or a mid day Summer aperitif; Either way raise a glass of this wine but drink it up; it won't last much longer.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Caves du Fournalet Cotes du Rhone 2011 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Red currant notes on the nose

Light to medium bodied on the palate

Cherry and spice on the finish with light pepper accents


Well, I haven't reviewed many Trader Joe's wines on this site in part because PB does a great job covering the Trader Joe's selection for our readers. He hasn't hit this one yet, so I thought I'd give it a whirl.

Here's the deal: this is a simple, straightforward wine that tastes like it should and goes down easily. It's a "you get what you pay for wine". But there's a catch- it's a noteworthy wine because there simply isn't a lot of Cotes du Rhone imported into the US at this price.  As a Trader Joe's exclusive, it's only $5.99.  Packaged in a squat 750mL botttle that recalls a common French bottle shape from several hundred years ago, it's probably tucked away on the bottom shelf of the French red wine section going unnoticed.

This is where Trader Joe's shines, particularly now with French, Italian, and South American wine (name brand wines are not particularly good bargains at TJ's). They sell a ton of exclusive house brand bottlings at single digit prices built on the successful Charles Shaw model. There are some really good Cotes du Rhone wines at $10-20 in most other wine shops, but you just won't find much wine priced at six bucks like this.

These bargain wines at Trader Joe's are in the spirit of the table wines of Europe. Consumed night after night at the dinner table, they are simple, affordable, reliable wines that no one in their right mind would wax eloquent about on a blog like this. On the other hand, in the US we tend to put special status on wine and consume far less per capita. As a result, we analyze and perhaps over-analyze even cheap everyday wine. The problem is compounded by restaurant markups on cheap wine in the US that are often 300-400% over retail forcing us to, at times, treat even simple bottles as splurges. This is not the intent for a wine like this. Just pour a glass, drink it with dinner, and do it again the next night.

Thanks to Trader Joe's for capturing this spirit. While I don't buy a lot of wine there, I appreciate the model and am glad to see that its allowed people to sample wines from around the world at rock bottom prices. Raise a glass!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Gaetano D'Aquino Riserva 2008 wine review by (PB)

This lighter bodied Chianti has decent Tuscan aromas of cherry and spice and prominent caraway notes making it quite nice.

Palate--A bit watery on the palate but definitely authentic Chianti flavors even if fleeting.

This oft reviewed wine (by me) over the years (usually the 2007 vintage)still offers a real value for a casual and rustic Chianti that you can afford to supply your next party. This is a Trader Joe's offering and at $4 a bottle you just can't go wrong!

It can drink a little wearyingly if that makes sense but again--it's hard to imagine how they can even get it to this country and retail it for this price. At any rate--take advantage of it and raise a glass with your next pizza, Lasagna, pasta or tomato based soup or stew!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Col Solare Columbia Valley Red Wine 2006 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant blueberry, currant, and cream on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Ultra-smooth and rich finish of berries and white chocolate


Here is a big, rich wine with a lot of ripe fruit and round edges. It's expressive and full bodied, with nice layers and texture. Expect to pay around $70 for this treat.

Col Solare is a joint project between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Antinori, made from Columbia Valley fruit in Washington. The blend is derived from the noble Bordeaux grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. It could cellar, but I like how it shows right now. Raise a glass!

Vina Herminia Rioja Reserva 2005 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Sweet, fragrant floral and cherry notes on the nose

Medium bodied and nicely textured on the palate

Soft, silky finish with layers of red fruit and toasty vanilla with some hints of tobacco


I like how this wine is fragrant and silky. It shows a style from Rioja that's modern but not overly extracted. Made from Tempranillo, Garancha, and Graciano, it's made to compliment food and should prove to be versatile. The retail price is around $20, which is a nice value. Raise a glass!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2002 Champagne Review by Billy

Nose: Lime, Macadamia and White Crackers
Palate: Extremely active bubbles that are needlepoint fine.  Very dry with knife-edge acid crispness.  Lemon and Lime notes in the mouth joined by cool crusty french bread flavors.
Finish: Creamy finish with soft citrus.
Overall: an exquisitely citrussy vintage Champagne.  The crisp acid core combines delightfully with bubbles that scintillate and titillate at the same time.

This 2002 vintage Champagne from Moet & Chandon retails for about $69 on average.  This is a fantastic price for a vintage champagne and a great entry point!  We enjoyed this wine here at The Wine Cask Blog Central Annex with PB and his wife who were visiting for the Christmas Holiday.  It is a wonderful sparkling wine and vintage champagne to share with loved ones or for any celebration.  Raise a Glass!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Bodega Norton Torrentes 2009 wine review by (PB)

Pale straw hue

Palate--Razor sharp acidity on a cirtusy, off-dry foundation with prominent aromas of vanilla, ripe pineapple and stone fruit. Finishes a little clunky.

This Mendoza (Argentina) varietal from a great Malbec producing family from a fairly little known grape isn't a great example of the varietal. A typical Torrentes is worth trying as it usually yields a big floral bouquet not unlike a Vigonier,with a blend of floral/fruit flavors.

A typical Torrentes is delicious and flavorful and is as delightful to smell as it is to drink being "the grape" of Argentina like Zinfandel is to California.

I paid $4 for this normally $10 wine but DO raise a glass of another Torrentes from a different producer.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Villa Canestrari Auge Soave Supreriore Riserva 2006 wine review by (PB)

Lovely golden hue that nearly glows.

Bouquet--Big vanilla nose with tantalizing melon and gooseberry aromas with ultra sweet perfumy notes that remind me of viognier and spices that remind me of Christmas!

Palate--Utterly perfect in integration with off dry complex fruit and spice that is both juicy and succulent in its presences.

It finishes with a light vanilla bitters ending.

This was sent to the WineCask Blog for review and this is a spectacular Soave! I was unable to find a reference price on this wine. This is a special wine!

Villa Canestrari Auge Soave Superiore Riserva 2006 Sponsored Wine Review

Nose: Honeysuckle, vanilla and pear nose.  Incredibly round, soft and smooth scents.  The nose is amazing on this comparatively older Soave.
Palate: Velvety soft  mouth feel that has a lovely balance and just enough of an acid backbone to stand up without buckling.  Elegant and delightful.  Great structure that stands up to fatty dishes.
Finish: Young finish even though this is over 6 years old!  Lasting and Lingering greenery and honeydew melon tastes.
Overall:  This is the best Soave I have had the opportunity to taste!  It is bold and round while maintaining a sophisticated and balanced elegance.  The nose is simply amazing.  This Italian white  wine is comprised of Garganega 85% and Chardonnay 15%.  The Chardonnay imparts a buttery fullness while the Garganega delivers on structure and vanilla.  It is an amazing blend and a truly Superior Soave!

We had the opportunity to taste this with PB of this blog while he was out visiting from the Northern Wine Cask Blog Annex.  It was made even more delightful for his being here.  Raise a Glass!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Garnet Monterey County Pinot Noir 2010 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant strawberry and rose petal on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

Raspberry jam, with some fresh earth notes and vanilla on the finish


Maybe I shouldn't have been surprised, but I found myself pleasantly surprised that this wine is quite nice. It's fragrant and shows some other interesting characteristics that keep it real and not overly manufactured.

The price is around $15, and it should pair well with lighter dishes and poultry. I recommend you grab this as a nice value-priced Pinot Noir if you happen to see it. Raise a glass!

Chateau Pavie St. Emilion 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Gorgeous notes of cigar and currant on the nose

Full bodied with plush texture on the palate

Dense, rich layers of dark fruit, smoke, cedar, and loam on the finish


This wine is drinking beautifully right now. It's expressive and full of flavor, accented by smoky notes throughout. Merlot dominates the blend with Cabernet Franc and  Cabernet Sauvignon, much like many other classified St. Emilion wines from the Bordeaux region of France. 

Good friends shared this wine with us over a wonderful dinner of lamb. Retail prices for the 2001, where available, seem to be around $140.  Raise a glass!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Milbrandt Vineyards Brother's Blend 2010 wine review by (PB)

Purple garnet hue with aromas of black berry mulberry, with notes of cedar and chocolate.

Palate--Rich textured foundation of big fruit bomb berries with plenty of milk chocolate. Tannins are young and mouth drying but should mature and mellow. Finish is considerable with dark fruit and light spice with charred oak hint.

This Columbia Valley blend is a compilation of Mourvedre, Merlot, Tempranillo, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Syrah and Barbera. Normally I tend not to care for "hyper blended" wines of this many grapes as it tastes like what it is; a hodgepodge.

But in this case I am inclined to believe the Milbrandt brothers have made it work as a drinkable red wine with decent flavor heft and structure. It is too young to enjoy fully but its never-the-less a tasty full flavored red wine. It lacks integration but a couple years should help that. I will pair it tonight with an Italian dish of some sort.

I paid $13 for it and it's a big wine but needs a couple more years. Buy one and lay it down; it might just reward the wait!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Trenel Beaujolais Villages Nouveau 2012 wine review by (PB)

Powerful strawberry aromas that are nearly floral contained in a lovely purple hue.

Minerally front with strawberry fruit, deliciously fresh and fruity. A day later there is a huge blast of white pepper through the fruit!

Beaujolias Villages is a step up from the label that simply reads "Beaujolais" nouveau and it costs a couple dollars more. I grabbed it for $12. It is classic Nouveau and both the Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages are wonderful examples of the fruity Gamay grape made in this ready to drink informal style.

This is the year for Noueveau so raise a glass!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Vietti Barbera D'Asti 2009 "Tre Vigne" wine review by (PB)

Lighter garnet hue with ample aromas of gentle cedar, slight licorice, sweet vanilla and cherry fruit.

Palate--Lovely integrated flavors of cherry, white bread, green herbs and a beam of caramel or maple that is subtle but delightful.

This is a really nice wine for the price ($15)and well constructed with a ready to drink presence. Raise a glass to this delicious grape!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Our 2,500th Wine Review...and Counting! (NW)

We are pleased to offer you our 2,500th wine review below!  It's a bit of a milestone as we've averaged nearly one review posted per day for over 7 years. We hope you've enjoyed the reading and have made good use of our straightforward postings. Many of our recommended wines earning our "Raise a glass!" endorsement are value priced as well.  Sometimes we enjoy collectible and high priced wines, but we often concentrate on every day wines which most people want to know about.  Thanks for visiting our site and please let us know if you have any feedback. Raise a glass!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Columbia Crest Gewurztraminer "Two Vines" 2010 wine review by (PB)

Pale gold with aromas of bright melon, hints of peach, and dynamic notes of citrus.

Palate--Sweeter than usual style perhaps but perfectly integrated and balanced out by a beam of juicy acidity. Tasty fruity, tastes like a good Riesling.

How can you not love Gewurztraminer the grape with the hard to pronounce name? Say-- "Ga VURTS tra MEEN er" and raise a glass of this under $8 varietal. Great as an aperitif or with oriental or spicy and hard to pair Mediterranean food.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Altitude 420 Vinsobres 2007 wine review by (PB)

Nicely pigmented black cherry hue with solid tantalizing aromas of sweet dill, with bold black cherry/berry underneath.

Palate--Fruity cherryish front with sweet berry foundation and lip smacking tannins. This Rhone blend of Granache 60% and Syrah 40% works well together.

At nearly 6 years old this wine has a lot of life left in it and should improve as it integrates with a bit more time. At $15 this was a solid value so raise a glass and even buy a couple more!

Chateau Hyot 2010 wine review by (PB)

Garnet hue with aromas of understated dark berry and a touch of sour cherry and green spice;

Palate--Chewy tannins with some darker berry flavor and a couple other things trying to fight their way out of a youthful foundation. The youthful foundation is winning. Smokey finish that is fleeting.

This wine is too young to enjoy but shows some potential. This is a 70% blend of Merlot with 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Cotes de Castillon. There are some solid value wines coming out of this Bordeaux region.

I paid $15 marked down from $20 but it just isn't ready. The Wine Spectator gave this wine 90 points with a vastly different review than this one which does not occur very often. If you find it for $15 or less I might grab a couple and lay them down. they may reward you in a couple 3-5 years. Raise a glass of something more mature and have a great Thanksgiving day! Remember from Whom all blessings flow!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Murphy--Goode Pinot Grigio 2009 wine review by (PB)

Citrus and powdery melon with creme brulee notes.

Palate--Robust acidic foundation with nice full flavors of fruit in an off dry style. This is a crisp, easy drinking wine of solid structure.

This is a tasty, crisp California Pinot Grigio for which I paid $5 a real steel so raise a glass!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Eguren Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 wine review by (PB)

Pours quite dark for a Cab at this price point.

Bouquet--Some nice plum and cigar box aromas trying to fight through the slightly corked musty smell of wet cardboard. Even with that there are notes of dill and cedar.

Palate--Slightly sour and somewhat austere fruit but what's there is good. There is even some interesting spice notes as well.

Most people would not recognize this as being flawed and even with my hypersensitive nose and palate to cork taint, it is marginal but definite.

I grabbed this since it was a 100% Cabernet varietal from Spain which I don't know if I have ever had one before. I paid $9 for it and if this wasn't corked it would probably show as a really decent wine. If I lived near the store I would grab another to give it a 2nd chance and wouldn't hesitate to return it if it was. As I have written before, I almost never have a problem with a store receiving back a bad wine.

So this is worth another go! Raise a glass.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving and Wine (Thoughts from PB, Reposted by NW)

A Thanksgiving Day meal with friends and family provides a perfect opportunity to enjoy nice wine. Because so much fuss is made over food and wine pairings in general, I find people get a little stressed out about what to serve guest on this special day. Fortunately, many wines have a much broader range than they get credit for. With that in mind, I have some basic suggestions that might help.

If you are planning a very traditional Thanksgiving meal, complete with Turkey and all the assorted sides, a number of red wines can work well like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Merlot. All of these varietals have a pretty broad range, except maybe the Zinfandel. However, I put Zinfandel on the list because it works well with cranberry sauce and heavy starches like mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes.

In order to make things even more festive at the table, I suggest you offer guests two wines. This is especially easy if you are able to provide you guests with two wine glasses and allow them to pour and sip as they like. Simply place the bottles on the table and allow your guests to discover the different pairings as they please.

As a rule of thumb, plan for at least a half bottle per person while at the table. Which two wines? Try offering one Cabernet Sauvignon and one Pinot Noir, perhaps both from American wineries in the spirit of the holiday. 

While wines at the dinner table are often the focal point, don't forget that you can create a special experience with wines before and after the meal. A nice bubbly is a great way to start the festivities, especially with assorted appetizers or finger food. To finish things off, try a nice dessert wine. Something sweet but light, for example a muscat or icewine, should help wash down the pie. Do this before the coffee.

Raise a glass to a Thanksgiving table complete with wine!

Numanthia Toro Termes 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Spicy berries and chocolate on the rich nose

Full bodied and plush on the palate

Berries, licorice, and coffee on the moderately tannic finish


Year after year, this is a big, flavorful wine. From the Toro region of Spain, it's made from Tempranillo (locally known as Tinto Toro). The 2008 edition is powerful and nicely layered as well as being a bit more tannic than some prior years.  Enjoy now after decanting or allow it to cellar for a few years. At $26, it's a good buy. Raise a glass!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Grilos 2008 wine review by (PB)

Garnet hue with aromas of bright red fruit, and a sweet floral aroma that is down right enticing.

Palate--An amazing rose petal, fruity flavor on a lively foundation of striking acid that finished abruptly with a faint touch of rose.

This Portuguese (Dao) wine is a blend of three grapes, has brimming flavor and will pair well with cheeses or food with some heft.

This is a surprise at the price of $7 so raise a glass!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beaujolais Nouveau 2012 G. Duboeuf wine review by (PB)

The annual celebration of the release of Beaujolais Nouveau (NEW)can be studied in our previous posts as this is a BIG day each and every year.

This years Nouveau is cherry red with bright cherry/strawberry aromas with little touches of cinnamon.

Palate--classic Nouveau from the Gamay grape with lovely simple strawberry flavor that is nothing short of delightful. This is a good year for Nouveau so grab it a enjoy it NOW as this wine is meant to drink within the next few months. Expect to pay around $10 and raise a glass!

Hybrid Petite Syrah 2007 wine review by (PB)

Nice dark hue you would expect of the grape;

Bouquet--big black fruit aromas of dark berry and ripe plum with some woody notes;

Palate--Big rich berry fruit bomb with some touches of milk chocolate, a relaxed presence and slightly textured. Tannins are gentle if not nearly plush with a little spine still left in them. Finishes well enough.

Here's the get a grip factor-- I paid $7 for this wine which is 80% Petite Syrah from Lodi made by Peltier Station using sustainable growing techniques.

I wouldn't mind another couple bottles of this to serve to friends who like fruit forward, bold, in your face red wine. This fits the bill so raise a glass.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sponsored Review: The Curious World Of Wine book review by Billy

Occasionally here at The Wine Cask Blog we are invited to review wine books.  While we love wine, we also enjoy kicking back and reading about it.  Our friends at Penguin Group in New York asked us to review The Curious World of Wine by Richard Vine, PhD Amazon Link   Penguin Link

Audience: The audience for this book is anyone who is in love with wine and anyone who loves history or trivia.   The history of wine is nearly as old as bi-pedal humans. This book brings that history to life with brevity and wit.

Structure: The book is a collection of short but immensely interesting snippets of wine lore.  While the snippets are collected together by category, each one is rarely longer than this blog post.  That means you can flip to any page in the book, spend two minutes reading an amusing anecdote and walk away richer for the experience.  But the collections have also been lovingly pieced together to weave a broader historical narrative that weaves the threads of wine and wine making throughout our human history.

Core: The core of the book is a firm appreciation of the historicity of history.  Names and dates abound.  But this is no dry school text book.  Instead these provide the backdrop for a tableau that honors wine, wine makers, wine testers and wine innovators.

Overall: This book would make a great, easily digestible gift for the wine enthusiast in your life.  It is not cumbersome.  It carries no snooty-snoot airs like some other wine tomes do.  Instead it is enjoyable, educational and easy!  This is wine edu-tainment at its best.

Raise a Glass!

Sponsored Post: The One Minute Wine Master Book Review by Billy

Occasionally here at The Wine Cask Blog we are invited to review wine related items like books or glasses or gadgets.  Our friends at Sterling Publishing in New York invited us to review The One Minute Wine Master by Jennifer Simonetti-Byan, MW (Master of Wine).  B&N Link, Amazon Link  

Audience: anyone who regularly or occasionally enjoys wine and is interested in dipping a toe into the waters of wine appreciation. The One Minute Wine Master is easily approachable and non-threatening.

Structure: The book opens with some entertaining and surprisingly accurate wine-drinker profiles.  Michelle, the "overwhelmed" wine drinker and Bob the "traditionalist" are just two of six personas that are described.  These are a very entertaining way of starting out the book.  They are funny, they are embarrassingly true, they are accurate.  The importance of understanding what kind of a profile best fits you, owning that profile and then celebrating it is an important addition to wine literature.  We're often told that it is OK to like what you like.  But we're rarely taught how to understand and identify what we like as well as the opportunities and pitfalls that come along with our wine-style.  It is an enlightening take on a zen-like wine drinker, know-thyself.The book then moves on to some of the wine tasting basics; outlining  a cleverly alliterate and expanded take on swirl sniff taste.

Core: At the core of the book is the One Minute Wine Master Quiz.  Readers take the quiz, score themselves and then read the lengthy interpretations, recommendations and wine profiles that they are most likely to enjoy.  The quiz is easy to answer and easy to repeat.  The results are broken down into flavor profiles named for the seasons of the year.  Each season has a typical set of wines and varieties that members of that season will typically enjoy.  The seasons are explained at length and contain examples of wines and brands that most consumers will be able to find locally without breaking the bank.

Criticism: The book was wonderful for me until I took the quiz and read "my" results.  Like anything that is oversimplified, exceptions abound.  I fall right into that exception category. No matter how many times I took the quiz or changed my answers, the results simply weren't indicating the kinds of wine I most enjoy.  The reason is that the quiz and resulting flavor profiles assume something about the reader that is not clearly established up front: namely that the reader has a typical western diet.  If you avoid caffeine, are a vegetarian, vegan or limit your dairy intake the quiz probably won't work for you.

Overall: Vegetarian diets notwithstanding, the book is a great gift idea for the wine drinker in your life who has a few favorites and would enjoy trying something different but not so different that it makes them cringe.  Pick up a copy of The One Minute Wine Master. Flip through it.  Take the quiz as if you were the recipient and then pick up a bottle in their flavor season.  It would make a thoughtful treat!

Raise a glass.

Ciro Rosso Classico 2009 wine review by (PB)

This wine pours nearly as light as watermelon juice. Bouquet is subtle with sour pie cherry notes and an interesting touch of caraway seeds.

Palate--Steely with simple slightly tart fruity front and a gentle presence on the tongue. Finishes quickly with scant fruit and steel!

I actually like this wine a bunch! It is tasty, simple, juicy and easy to drink. It cost $6 and I grabbed it because I was totally in the dark about this region of Italy.

The Ciro is DOC (a region within the region of Calabria) neither of which is known for wine of any reputation. Calabria is down in Southern Italy where the wines are aged for 2 years before release 6 months of which has to be in oak barrels. The Gaglioppo grape is the major grape used in the red Calabrese wines.

For $6 this is a raise a glass kind of wine! Explore new regions and new grapes and be surprised at the values that are out there.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pear Valley Syrah (Pear Valley Vineyard) 2007 wine review by (PB)

Dark black cherry hue with nice black berry bouquet accompanied by dark chocolate and tar with a hint of pipe tobacco. (This smells more Cabernetish than some Cabernets)

Explosion of big fruit-bomb black berry, full bodied, rich, textured, still a little chewy, with smokey dark fruit finish that lingers a while.

This is a big wine for something gamey or strong like lamb.(we were going to have it with moose cube steaks but a last minute change to Porterhouse on the grill)

I paid $13 for this Paso Robles Syrah(reduced from $25 at the New Hampshire State Liquor Store) which for a single vineyard creation is unheard of. It doesn't have the complexity of a typical single vineyard wine but at $13 I wish I had bought 3 more bottles to lay down. This bad boy has a LOT of life in it and should improve for the next 5 years being presentable for the next 10 at least so raise a glass.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Tommasi Poggio al Tufo Maremma Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Intense black cherry and charcoal on the nose

Medium bodied and roasted flavor on the palate

Moderately tannic finish with dark berries, plum, and spice


This wine is a touch exotic with charcoal and spice notes over the fruit.  It's made from Cabernet Sauvignon in the Maremma region of Tuscany and is a nice alternative to similar priced Cabs from California and other "new world" regions.  Retail prices hover around $18. Raise a glass!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

La Petite Perriere Sauvignon Blanc 2011 wine review by (PB)

Pale golden hue with big aromas of grassy, grapefruit and an undertone of ripe melon.

Palate--A structure with a lethargic presence, subdued and slightly off grapefruit flavor with a flaccid spine that makes this less than appealing.

This only cost $8 and in this case it is what you paid for. Pass on this and grab any number of other varietals at this price point. New Zealand, Chile, S. Africa and domestic S. Blancs are available and tasty. Raise a glass of something else.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Wild Rock Pinot Noir 2009 winew review by (PB)

Bright cherry hue of the lighter persuasion with good strawberry aromas with some light spice.

Palate--Surprisingly chewy presence with a citrusy grape fruity note that is astounding. Not your crazy fruit forward variety of Pinot you get from Oregon and California. This Central Otago (New Zealand)is a wine unto itself.

Really interesting. We'll see how it breathes...

The citrusy beam dissipates as it breathes; I like this style of Pinot Noir and at $9 it was a nice treat but it sells for around $19 normally. I paired it with a seafood soup and it was a nice accompaniment so raise a glass!

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Karl Erbes Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese 2011 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Beautiful pear and passionfruit notes on the nose

Medium bodied and silky on the palate

Sweet fruit and honey on the finish with lively acidity underneath


Showing amazing balance between sweet fruit and lively acidity, this wine is delicious and versatile. At only 7.5% alcohol, it dances in the glass and across the palate.  Good Riesling really is unique in its ability to show these characteristics so remarkably intertwined. Don't snub the German aisle in your wine store or you'll be missing out.  Many recent vintages of German Riesling have been excellent, and prices are reasonable.  This wine costs about $15. Raise a glass!

Mocali Rosso di Montalcino 2010 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Cherry with some leather notes on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

More cherry, with savory notes and some tobacco


This wine is a little bit flat and unispiring. The problem here is that Rosso di Montalcino is always a bridesmaid and never a bride.  By design and definition, it's wine that plays second fiddle to Brunello di Montalcino because it's made from grapes that weren't chosen for Brunello.  I've always had some trouble with this, especially since Brunello has been so consistenly good and worth the extra investment. I realize that this wine is much less expensive than most Brunellos, at $20 or so, but I'd rather drink the real thing.  When I can't do that and need to be in the $20 range on a Tuscan wine I reach for Chianti Classico or a number of IGT blends.  Read our nearly 2500 posts for many recommendations in this price category. 

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Brutocao Merlot "Bliss Vineyard" 2008 wine review by (PB)

Garnet hue with bouquet of woody cherry fruit with a rustic edge to it all.

Palate-- awkward front that borders on a flaw, a touch of bread, very restrained fruit, the same awkward mid-palate and finish. I'll let this breathe but this is off to a disappointing start!

2 hours later, the bouquet is really quite nice with all the elements above with a bit more finesse, more importantly, the awkwardness of the palate is barely noticeable now.

This wine cost $11 marked down from $22. At $11 it's enjoyable but if I had paid $22 for this, I would have not been happy. Raise a glass.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier 2011 wine review by (PB)

Straw hue with bouquet of pears, banana, and green apple fragrances that is wonderful.

Palate--Spritzy mouth with fruity, off dry, Fuji apple fruit. Finishes with big lingering pear and green apple. This is a seriously tasty blend of the two grapes even as Pine Ridge emerges as a real contender in the vast world of wine.

The lovely acidity and flavors in balance makes this a great aperitif or a good food wine. I will be pairing this with pork cutlets and sauerkraut.

At $9 raise a glass of this tasty. juicy fragrant wine!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon "Grand Estates" 2009 wine review by (PB)

Garnet hue with nice rich aromas of cocoa laced blackberry fruit.

Palate-- Nice chocolatey blackberries with acidic structure in the popular fruit forward style. A bit thinner than their H3 "Horse Heaven Hills" it is still pleasant to drink and a fair representation of inexpensive Cab made with the oversight of the expertise of the folks at Columbia Crest.

Always reliable and a solid value, I paid $8 for this on sale but normally sells around $12 depending what part of the country you're in. Had it with "Raclette grill" of tenderloin, asparagus, shrooms, and Italian squash mixed in with numerous interruptions of trick-or-treaters at the door. Raise a glass as usual from the folks at CC!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wild Rock Cupid's Arrow Central Otago Pinot Noir 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant strawberry and a touch of ruby red grapefruit on the nose

Light to medium bodied on the palate

Bright, clean finish of raspberry and spice


Central Otago is the region that's defining New Zealand Pinot Noir.  Some of my favorite wines from this beautiful place are now $50 or more, so I'm constantly looking for lower priced offerings that deliver the characteristics that have put this region on the wine map. 

Wild Rock has a winner with their Cupid's Arrow Pinot Noir.  It has a fragrant nose and is relatively light and clean on the finish, showing some spicy fruit and good acidity.  Overally, not a real complex wine but certainly enjoyable and easy to drink.  Interestingly, I finished the last glass from this bottle a day later and it was a bit more complex and nuanced which is unusual for most wines.

According to the wine merchant where I found this, the retail price is around $18.  I got a great sale price of $9 and went back for more. I recommend this wine as a good value expression of the Central Otago Pinot Noir that has won a lot of fans.  Raise a glass!

Dona Paula Sauvignon Blanc 2010 wine review by (PB)

Ripe tropical fruit with S. Blanc grassy edge and vanilla.

Palate--Tart ripe pineapple edge front palate with mouth watering acid. Finishes with fleeting citrus.

This Argentinian white is classic grassy S. Blanc better with food than by itself due to it's racy acidity. Will cut through the greasiest or fattiest food you can throw at it. While it runs around $10 I grabbed a bottle on close out for less than $5. At $10 it is a decent Sauvignon blanc; at under $5, it's a great find so raise a glass!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Drops of Jupiter 2011 wine review by (PB)

Intensely pigmented black cherry hue

Aromas of huge jammy blackberries with tar, and dark cocoa.

Palate-- Silky, thick presence with big blackberry, extracted style, full bodied; a BIG fruit bomb that finishes with more berries and dark chocolate.

This is a lot of wine for $8.

Jimmy Stafford of the band "Train" (Hey Soul Sister) produces this wine and gives a portion of the proceeds to a San Francisco organization called Save Me San Francisco.

Sourced, blended, California fruit,(my guess is a major portion of Syrah) this is a nice value if you're in the mood for this style of wine so raise a glass.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Columbia Crest Cabernet/Merlot "Twin Vines" 2002 wine review by (PB)

Mature color with Amarone-like aromas of sweet spice and a touch of currant.

Palate--Reminiscent of Chianti (Sangiovese) with delicious cherry on a balanced tartness accompanied by dried cherry notes.

This wine is at its peak but will hold for a couple more years and will even continue to improve some.

So this is the 2nd time I have been burned by this wine served blind. Obviously by my review I missed the call by a mile as I did the first time I had this wine with (NW) of this blog.

This wine was surprisingly delicious and for a very inexpensive wine (typically sells around $8)drinks like a wine that sells for many times what it sells for.

(NW) and I were discussing the baffling nature of this wine--and a few others we have had like this--which the older they get (assuming they are still drinkable) the more they begin to lose their youthful distinctions tending toward a more elemental solidly crafted red wine of quality.

What to make of it all? There are a few makers out there who just make good wine regardless the price point at which they release them and cellaring even a sub-$10 wine for several years can seriously pay big dividends and surprise. Understand that most wines will not age and are specifically meant for drinking within their first couple years of release. But Columbia Crest and Sebastiani are two producers who release wine after wine at all price points that just seem to excel.

So raise a glass to bargain wines and experiment letting us know what you come up with!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Masciarelli Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2009 wine review by (PB)

Medium cherry hue with aromas of bright cherry and candy apple.

Palate--Amazingly full flavored with supple tannins and a solid beam of cherry down the middle on a graceful foundation. Finishes quickly with a touch of smoke.

This is a $7 wine and it is a super value! It is an easy drinking wine that you could easily over indulge in, it goes down that easy!

I am pairing it with smoked pork hocks braised in wine and chicken broth, quinoa and garlic bread! Raise a glass!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Laudun & Chusclan Laudun Clos de Taman Cotes du Rhone Villages 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Rich, dark berries and anise on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Dark fruit layers, savory herbs, and a touch of iodine


Here s a big, hefty style of Cotes-du-Rhone Villages.  This region has experienced a number of great vintages recently, and the wines are full throttle.  Many of the 2009's taste great and are ready to drink such as this offering from Laudun & Chusclan.  Grab a bottle for $18 or so, and raise a glass!