Sunday, August 26, 2012

Falkenburg Riesling "Spatlese" (Late Harvest) 2011 wine review by (PB)

Sweet tropical spicy fruit and green melon aromas wrapped in a light greenish straw hue.

Palate--Juicy tropical fruit with slight apple/melon notes that drinks easily and enjoyably. I would prefer a higher acid level but this was acceptable.

This Mosel German wine is a "Pradikat" wine meaning it has a "title"--Spatlese--which pertains to its level of sweetness. The "title's run according to an increasing level of residual sugar: Kabinet, Spatlese, Auslese, Berrenauslese and Trokenberrenauslasen.

Generally speaking the price of the wine also rises with the particular title from left to right. This wine was surprisingly inexpensive at $9. It is the perfect accompaniment to Chinese food, cutting right through even that crazy hot Chinese mustard! For a difficult spicy foo like middle eastern, Vietnamese, Chinese etc. this is a good paring! Raise a glass.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 2006 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

A restrained nose of cherry and earthy notes

Full bodied and firmly textured on the palate

Long finish of cherry, leather, and spice layers that shows depth and density


This wine has good depth and density that suggests cellaring potential.  Right now, it's still quite restrained and closed.  The bouquet hasn't opened on the nose and as a result, it needs considerable air.  If you pop the cork, decant it and let it breath for several hours before dinner.  Otherwise, tuck this one away and sit on your $50 investment.  Wait 5-10 years, then raise a glass!

Louis Jadot Macon-Villages Chardonnay 2010 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fruity apple notes on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

Finishes with apple, citrus, and mineral notes


Stylistically, this is right up the middle.  It has nice fruit qualities and good acidity to back it up.  Widely available, consider this a go-to white Burgundy when you need something reliable and value priced.  It runs around $15 and should prove to be versatile with food.  Raise a glass!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Roederer Estate Brut Sparkling (NV) Wine Review by Billy

Nose: Creamy lemon and cracker notes with softer truffle layers underneath.
Palate: Medium bubbles, incredibly dry, with a strong, firm acid core makes you stand up and take notice.  Big lemmony citrus feel that pervades your entire mouth.  Wow.  Big flavors and feel here.
Finish: Softer tropical flavors are gentle after the citrus explosion in your mouth.  A nice complement.
Overall: This is a California sparkling wine that is a delightful American alternative to Champagne.  It is big, big, big.  The elegance of the scents in the nose play against the giant feel and flavor in your mouth and then the finish gently massages you down and ready for another sip. I paid about $25 for this at the local wine store.  I paired it with a late night snack of lemon cake, Cheddar and Gorgonzola cheeses.  Raise a glass of this excellent sparkling American wine, the Roederer Estate Brut from the Anderson Valley. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Latour Marsannay Rouge 2009 wine review by (PB)

Light ruby hue with the lightest touch of spicy cinnamon, a hint of chocolate and strawberry fruit.

Palate--slightly tart with tight strawberry with a raspberry note but everything is pretty well balanced so it works.

This Beaune (Burgundy)wine is made from what else--Pinot Noir. It is a light version of the grape being more subtle and a bit more acidic than domestic Pinots. I will pair it with veal scallopini in a port Dijon reduction sauce with home grown sweet corn.

I paid $20 for this bottle out of state which is at the top of the range for this wine but I'm glad I grabbed it. French Pinot, at least this one, isn't as fruit forward as our domestic Pinots. Still, it makes me realize just how good our domestic Pinot's have become! Raise a glass!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mionetto Sergio Italian NV Sparkling wine review by Billy

Nose: beautiful layers of crackers, then subtle vanilla and gunmetal
Palate: Nicely dry and firm.  Bubbles are barely there providing some tingly tongue but no effervescent assault. Soft citrus flavors merge with a wet metal mineraliness to give character and flavor.
Finish: Floral finish.
Overall: I paid $15 for this at the local wine store.  This Italian bubbly is mostly Prosecco (70%) grapes blended with some other varieties to produce this sparkling white. I am enamored with this wine.  It avoids the cloying feel of many prosecco wines and instead delivers a beautifully complex nose, a firm, dry mouth feel and an enchanting finish.  I served this with a late night snack of olives, gorgonzola cheese and baklava. Raise a glass!

Cantina Zaccagnini 2008 Montepulciano D'Abruzzo wine review by (PB)

Black cherry hue with pungent dried cherry/berry fruit with dried herbs and a minerally spiciness that is pronounced and unique.

Palate--Super relaxed satiny texture, with the same flavors as in the bouquet.

Montepulciano D'Abruzzo is one of the dependable easy drinking, fruity Tuscan wines that are readily available at a reasonable price point. This one tends to run around $13-$16 and it's always delightful, so raise a glass!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Seghesio Zinfandel (Sonoma County) 2010 wine review by (PB)

Black cherry to garnet hue with big aromas of ripe, nearly jammy blackberry with lovely touch of cinnamon as you pull away from the glass.

Palate--Silky presence with big mouth watering blackberry fruit in abundance.
Finishes with a bit of smoke and light fruit.

Seghesio is one of the leading producers of Zinfandel and they have been producing big Zins and high scoring Zins for years. For the $17 I paid for it, it's a decent enough wine but the more "normal" price point is around $22 and up.

For the mid $20's I would rather go with one of the numerous choices of Rosenblum's Single Vineyard gems. That's just preference so raise a glass to one or the other or better yet--BOTH!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Neyers Carneros District Chardonnay 2010 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Peach and nectarine aromas on the bouquet

Full bodied and nicely textured on the palate

Finishes with golden apple, honey, and vanilla with good acidity


This Chardonnay is beautifully crafted, stylish and balanced with full flavor and good texture.  It's neither the big, buttery style nor the trendy naked style.  You could pair this with a lot of different dishes or just enjoy it on its own.  Prepare for it to disappear quickly, though, as it's easy to drink.

I don't see this distributed widely where I live, but I ordered it online for $22.  Raise a glass!

Sepp Moser Sepp Gruner Veltliner 2010 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Apple, white peach, and a touch of balsam on the nose

Medium bodied and crisp on the palate

Finishes with good acidity, notes of apple and minerals


Here's a good Gruner Veltliner for a Summer afternoon.  It has fruit character and a nice beam of acidity, which is a hallmark of Gruner Veltliner from Austria.

Paired with scallops over pasta, this wine hit the spot.  Expect to pay around $14, and raise a glass!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chateau Machorre 2005 wine review by (PB)

Black cherry hue with presence;

Bouquet--Loads of minty eucalyptus on a subdued spicy dark berry fruit frame.

Palate--A hint of frontal cocoa but quickly fleeting leaving a pure beam of old world black cherry fruit in this Bordeaux Superior from the fabled vintage of 05. Decent finish that hangs on a bit.

This previously reviewed wine impressed me so I bought 3 more bottles to lay down and see how it progresses. (See my previous reviews) You'll see I talk about cedar which emulates both mint and eucalyptus which is why I sometimes use all three to describe the same basic smell or taste. This time around it is clearly the latter and you'll notice the disappearance of any reference to chunky or rough tannins. I review this without reference to previous reviews so while its only been about 5 months since the last review, the tannins have subdued (ie., matured). This is a really nice example of Bordeaux at this price point--$9--and is a value! Raise a glass!

Acrobat Pinot Gris 2010 King Estate Winery wine review by (PB)

Light straw hue with big and wonderful Notes of Citrus, vanilla, lime, and minerals or wet stones.

Palate-- Presents with lovely edgy acid foundation which I love in a white wine. The flavors of this wine are equally bold with loads of perfumed mixed fruit that reminds me of Viognier only less floral.

Admittedly I have always shied away from this grape for no good reason and now I shall not do that again! This is wonderfully full wine and at $12 is an awesome change from my usual 4 white wines. I paid $12 for this and would buy more in a minute so raise a glass!

Trader Joe's Late Harvest Moscato 2009 (Paso Robles) wine review by (PB)

Gentle golden color with bouquet of mandarin orange, stewed peach, with an under note of alcohol.

Palate-- this is minerally, with prominent stewed or stone fruit flavors with decent acidity and a finish that lingers.

The get a grip factor is that this was $4.99 at TJ's in Pasadena. This is not your typical desert wine but you're not paying a typical price for it either. Is it worth $5? In a word--YUP!

At this price, you can have a lot of fun so raise a glass!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

What to do with "off" wine?

Sometimes you get a bottle of wine that is just "off".  It doesn't smell or taste the way it should.  I recently opened a bottle of 2007 Kim Crawford Marlborough Dry Riesling that I picked up in the bargain bin at a local wine store.  Upon opening it I noticed an uncharacteristic and unpleasant odor.  I tasted it just to be sure and yep, it's bad.

This is a screw cap wine.  This kind of enclosure drastically reduces the frequency of "cork taint" or TCA.  But the reality is that any wine can go bad and sometimes does.  It might come from the winery (cellar taint) or just from being exposed too often to temperature extremes, or from leakage or any number of other reasons. 

If you are confident the wine is bad, save the unused portion and return it to the wine store where you got it.  Most will accept it back for store credit.

You can also choose to pour it out and open another bottle.  If you're unsure the wine is bad, have someone else try it.  You might not care for the flavor (which is OK) but the wine may not be bad.

The important part is to not drink something you don't like. 
Raise a Glass!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

446 Chardonnay 2010 wine review by Billy

Nose: white flowers and a citrus zing

Palate: soft mouth feel that embraces with melon roundness, lime citrus around a steely core.

Finish: long and lingering cut grass and more lime.

Overall: I paid about $12 for this at a local wine store.  I bought it because of the QR code on the back label. The melon notes keep it round and refreshing rather than biting.  The acid keeps it firm and able to hold up during a meal.  This is a very nice and affordable California Chardonnay for under $15.  Raise a Glass!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Piattelli Malbec 2009 Premium wine review by Billy

Nose: wonderful cherry, plum, earth and leather aromas. Complex but round and inviting.

Palate: nice balance of plum fruit and earthy tannins. Good structure means this Argentinian Malbec is firm but not overpowering.

Finish: lingering cherry at the back of the mouth finishes nicely.

Overall: A friend brought this bottle over for us to share and it was a delightful gift.  The 100%Malbec from Argentina was made by Italians and the careful crafting shows.  This red wine from 2009 shows character and grace with big fruit flavors and earthy sophistication.

Raise a Glass!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Livernano's Josephine Toscana 2003 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant currants and savory spices on the nose

Full bodied and earthy on the palate

Moderately dense finish of dark berries, spice, and earthy notes


Classic Tuscan!  This wine from Radda in Chianti has a nice overall flavor profile with dark fruit, savory spices, and earthy edges.  It's a super-Tuscan made from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot from the Livernano estate in the heart of Chianti.  If you've ever been there, you'll taste the scenery in every sip of this wine.  Expect to pay $17 or so and pour generously with hearty pasta and veal dishes.  Raise a glass!

Fisher Napa Valley Unity Red Wine 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Tightly packed notes of currants and loam on the nose

Full bodied and firm on the palate

Moderately tannic, firm finish with currants, loam, and cedar


I'm not sure this wine will ever really open up.  It's tightly packed and loamy, with some currant showing through.  Made in an austere style for Napa Valley, this Cabernet Sauvignon might reward intermediate term cellaring but doesn't show much in its youth.  For $45, it's a wine that you shouldn't just grab off the shelf and pour for company that same night.  Take a pass to the less expensive Cabernet aisle and select a wine from our previous reviews on this site.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Cavicchioli Lumbrusco Dolce wine review by (PB)

Grapey hue with lovely little aromas of fresh grapes not unlike Gamay.

Palate--A touch of sparkle in the mouth with simple but lovely bright cherry/berry flavors.

I bought this 1.5L bottle to make Sangria and thought I would review it straight up as well. This is a lovely Summer wine that would be awesome chilled down served in a fun little glass to enjoy with all manner of appetizers or all by itself enjoying a great summery day.

At $10 for the 1.5L it is a great little buy so raise a glass!