Sunday, September 30, 2012

Conde de Valdemar Rioja Reserva 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Plum, cherry, and smoky notes on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

Smooth layers of plum and tobacco on the finish, nicely integrated


A style debate has ensued in the Rioja region of Spain lately with some wines showing an obvious modern, extracted style and others a more reserved, subtle style.  This wine is squarely in the more reserved, subtle camp which is considered the traditional style.  It comes across like a smoky Pinot Noir, and with the extending aging done in barrel at the winery it has a smooth and well-integrated profile.  I recommend it as a great example of a classic Rioja, and suggest you enjoy this with a good pork chop or something subtle in flavor. Expect to pay $20, and raise a glass!

Four Vines Maverick Amador County Zinfandel 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Big spicy red berries on the bouquet

Full bodied on the palate

Red berries and plum with some vanilla and pepper on the finish


Here's a good, spicy, rich style of Zinfandel.  It's jammy, but not overly so.  Four Vines has a nice line up of Zinfandel and the "Maverick" is often available for around $20.  Enjoy with comfort food on a cool Autumn evening.  Raise a glass!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Carpe Diem Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 wine review by (PB)

Nice black chery hue with aromas of poultry seasoning, cranberry fruit and sweet Twizzlers with spice.

Palate--A bit hot on the palate with good bright red fruit.

This wine was drunk too young. From the awesome vintage in Napa of 07, the cabs are lengthy and made for some longevity. I paid $17 for this wine and it was well crafted under the direction of Christian Moeuix--the French wine maker and his team in Yountville.

I paid $17 for this I think but it sells for considerably more. If you have one give it another 2-5 years and should be worth the wait. Raise a glass.

Pasqua Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2010 wine review by (PB)

Light cherry hue;

Light cherry and basil aromas, with tart cherries underneath, maybe a note of cocoa and cedar or spice.

Palate--Fruity, light bodied but big flavored cherry with a touch of smoke on the finish.

Trader Joe's value wine at $11 so always raise a glass.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner (Gebling) 2007 wine review by (PB)

Pretty golden hue with large bouquet of crisp apple with vanilla and light citrus notes at the end with a slightest touch of honey.

Palate-- Brightly acidic with a very light "spritzig" (fizz, off dry and very fruity highlighting apple and vanilla notes.

Gruner is the signature of Austria. I have not had a great number of them and some tend to have what I can only describe as an "oily" note in the bouquet which is off putting. This Gruner is actually quite tasty and refreshing.

I paid $5 for this close out wine and its a nice bargain at that price. Do some experimenting and grow beyond the Chards, Chenins and Sauvignon Blancs. There's a big world of wine out there just waiting for your admiration. Raise a glass to new horizons in the glorious world of wine!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rosemount Estate Balmoral 2002 Syrah Wine Review by Billy

Nose: Earthy spiced tobacco and plum and wood smoke.
Palate: Incredibly smooth.  Silk wrapped around tight acid core.  Firm tannins are pleasant.
Finish: Soft finish with lingering pitted cherry flavors and .
Overall: I paid $23.50 for this 2002 Australian Syrah (Shiraz).  This was a substantially discounted price (almost 50%).  The wine comes from the McLaren Vale in Australia.  This 2002 Balmoral Syrah is still tight and young even after 10 years in the cellar.  This is a beautiful example of the exquisite elegance of Australian Syrah (aka Shiraz) done well.  Raise a Glass!

Quarles Harris Vintage Porto 1994 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant wild berries and prunes on the nose

Full bodied and densely packed on the palate

Dark, dense finish of stewed berries, anise, and pepper


It's incredible how youthful this Port tastes at 18 years of age!  The flavors are still rich and the core is dense.  I wish I had a case to stretch out over the next decade or more.

Actually, this was poured by PB of this blog with dessert after an Italian feast.  The dessert was panna cotta with fresh berries and the pairing was perfect.  If you have this wine, enjoy anytime over the next quarter of a century.  If you're looking to purchase this wine, the release price was $55 and a few internet prices show $60-80.  Raise a glass!

Velenosi Quattro Mani Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Simple cherry and herbs on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

Plum and smoke notes on the finish


This is a simple Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.  It has some basic fruit character but is not as good as many of the others.  These red wines from Italy are great values in general, so put your $10 toward a different one and you'll likely be pleased.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

"Windows on the World Complete Wine Course" by Kevin Zraly --Sponsored Book Review by (PB)

When I was asked if was willing to review this book I sighed a bit because my first thought with most new non-fiction works is, "C'mon it's been said and done a hundred times over already..." But.............I resigned myself to doing it and I'm glad I did.

This is a comprehensive wine "course" set out in 8 classes that are wonderfully illustrated, eminently practical and set up to make you a wine expert--depending on your retention of the information. The only thing it lacks is the years of tasting experience which can only be garnered over a long period of time and money. (smile)

From the beginning of explaining the phenomenon of taste it takes you through--do it yourself--exercises which will help you understand the different "tastes" and textures of wine. The appendix also includes wine paring suggestions that are actually helpful!

But here is where this book stands apart from all other books I have in my library: It incorporates the technology of the day utilizing your smartphone and Microsoft tag codes (think, QR-like codes) which you scan with your phone and it takes you to an appropriate video with the author teaching and showing right before your eyes.

At the end of the book there is an appendix which has a library of these codes which when scanned give the proper pronunciation of all kinds of foreign words. I was most excited about this feature and most disappointed when it didn't work on my iPhone. After trying to find out why, Microsoft discovered that "someone" didn't follow instructions properly and so while they work with Android and Samsung smart phones, iPhone does not support these particular codes. Note--the video work well with my iPhone; the vocabulary pronunciation does not.

I have numerous books on my shelf about wine and I have been studying wine for over 30 years yet this is a great addition to my resources. Now to get an updated version which supports the iPhone for ALL the tag codes!

This book is available on Amazon for $10 soft cover and less than $20 for hard! If you have a wine lover who is interested in more than just drinking, this is one book they really need!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Vistamar "Sepia" Pinot Noir Reserva 2010 wine review by (PB)

Cherry hue with unique aromas of tarry sweet spice with a touch of bubble gum and sweet fruit juice and a "bottle stink" that goes away with a half an hour of airtime!

Palate--Unique palate with big spicy almost burnt flavors which are endearing with a bitter mid palate and yet it all works to an integrated fruity Pinot core.

This Chilean varietal cost me $11 and its a keeper even if a little odd. So raise a glass to another Chilean winner!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sommavite Brunello Di Montalcino 2006 wine review by (PB)

Light ruby hue with aromas of wild cherry from afar and all kinds of inseparable aromas of spicy herbs, cedar, licorice and more.

Palate-- tasty, hints of wild cherry fruit, bitter unsweetened chocolate mid palate, gentle tannins, rigid acidity and a finish that is a bit abbreviated yet pleasant while it lasts.

I am tasting this right out of the bottle and it is at cellar temperature so it needs to warm up a bit and it needs to air out. *I'll update this after a while.

Plan to serve it with carbonara with homemade linguine in my brand spanking new kitchen!

I paid $20 for this at Trader Joe's and had to grab a couple bottles just because a $20 Brunello is unheard of and the 2006 vintage was a great one on top of that. Right now, it isn't anything special but as I say that remember a Brunello of this year should start around $45 and go up from there. If it doesn't improve it's still a decent valuer so raise a glass!

*After warming up a bit and breathing this wine opened into a full profile wine. Nice!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Vinosia Rajamagra Taurasi 2002 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Dense, dark plum and blueberry notes on the nose with spicy accents

Full bodied on the palate

Dark chocolate and dark fruit on the muscular and rustic finish


This is an excellent wine, made from the Aglianico grape in the tiny Taurasi region of Southern Italy.  The wine is powerful and expressive, with great length and rustic edges. At 10 years of age, it still tastes incredibly fresh and youthful.

I paid $40 for the bottle, which is a few dollars below the normal retail price.  I was doing some research on Italian wine regions that are under-represented globally and couldn't pass up the chance to taste this wine.  There's so much good wine produced in Italy that this could be a life-long pursuit, of course.  If you see a wine from Taurasi, check it out.  If you happen to find this one, it's worth the money.  Raise a glass!

Tensley Santa Barbara County Colson Canyon Syrah 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Vivid notes of rich blueberry, blackberry, and herbs on the nose

Full bodied and firm on the palate

Wild berries, spice, and intensity on the finish


Vivid and intense are two words that sum up this wine.  The fruit is vividly expressed in the bouquet and on the finish.  The persistent layers of dark fruit are intense.

Tensley makes very good vineyard-designated Syrah in Santa Barbara County, CA, and I recommend this one as a strong expression of the style of Syrah produced in this region.  This one was a nice find at a restaurant with some colleagues.  The retail price is approximately $40.  Raise a glass!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Regaleali Nero D'Avola 2008 wine review by (PB)

Cherry red hue with wild cherry fruit wafting from the glass at a distance. Deeper n the glass aromas morphs to a tart cherry with subtle hints of licorice.

Palate--Slightly tart fruit with integrated tannins and sharp acidity with a smokey finish that gives way to more fruit.

The Sicilian Nero D'Avola grape is one of my favorite easy drinking economy wines that will pair well with all sorts of Italian foods (as well as others) and cheeses.

I paid $10 for this end of vintage wine and it's a solid one so raise a glass!

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Querceto Chianti Classico 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Rich and spicy notes of black cherry and blackberry on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Dark fruit finish with good length and notes of savory herbs


More and more Chianti Classico wines are taking on a dark and extracted style, and this one shows those qualities.  The fruit is dark and the texture is rich, accented by savory herbs and spice.  It should stand up to rich food and be considered a reliable buy at $13 or so.  The Chianti Classico Riserva by Querceto is another one to look for as an alternative- priced a few dollars higher.  Raise a glass!

Cusumano Nero d'Avola Sicilia 2010 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Red currants and herbs on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

Moderately tannic finish with wild berries and herbs


This is a good, simple, and somewhat rustic wine from one of the noteworthy producers on the island of Sicily.  For $10, this is a "you get what you pay for" wine.  It doesn't merit a lengthy review, but it's worth recommending as an introduction to the Nero d'Avola grape.  Serve with hearty Italian fare or homemade pizza, and raise a glass!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Long Meadow Ranch Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Tightly packed aromas on the nose of coffee, blackberry, and anise

Full bodied and firmly textured on the palate

Intense, tannic finish with long layers of dark fruit


This wine is incredibly intense and tightly packed.  The dark fruit flavors are accompanied by other layers that are slow to open with air and decanting.  If you have some of this wine stashed away, keep it there.  I'd recommend opening one up in another five years to see how it's doing.  

There's no denying this wine is well made and built for the long run.  Just don't order it at a restaurant and expect an open-textured and ripe Cabernet.  The retail price is $45.  Raise a glass!

Guy Saget Marie de Beauregard Vouvray 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Very expressive nose of tropical fruit

Full bodied and richly textured on the palate

Sweet layers of fruit, honey, and ginger with some underlying acidity that keeps it fresh on the finish


While Vouvray comes in a variety of styles from dry to sweet, this one is big and a touch sweet- on the more opulent end of the scale.  Made from Chenin Blanc, there's a lot of fruit to appreciate here along with some honey and spice.  It's a well made wine and one that is easy to enjoy.  Expect to pay around $18, and raise a glass!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Cannonau Di Sardegna Riserva 2007 wine review by (PB)

Light on the hue showing some age with pronounced mature light cherry bouquet with light spice and slight celery aromas.

Palate--Utterly matured wine with supple texture and luscious dried cherry and mixed dried spice notes.

This is a delicious $11 Sardinian wine. Absolutely peaked, drinking marvelously and will probably fade in the next 12-20 months but may still drink beyond that. Wines and their aging have surprised me!

Pairing it with grilled chicken breasts and roasted garden veggies. Raise a glass!

Monday, September 03, 2012

The New York Times Book of Wine sponsored book review by Billy

Nose: new book smell.  Glorious.
Feel: easy to pick up, hard to put down.
Finish: lasting.
Overall: From time to time we at The Wine Cask Blog review items other than the beverage in the bottle.  This is one of those times.  Our friends at Sterling Publishing (a B&N subsidiary) sent us two books to review.  I am reviewing The New York Times Book of Wine  (amazon link here) edited by Howard Goldberg.

In short, I love this book.  It is a collection of essays and articles curated from the New York Times' collection that started in 1972.  Each article is fun and expresses something of the wonder of wine.  Because these are short articles (rarely more than 3 pages) the book lends itself well to quick, easy reading.  You can pick it up, say, while waiting for your dinner host to come back from the grill outside, and get through a single chapter.  You can read several while waiting for your decanted bottle to breathe.

There are recipes.  There are rants against the pretentiousness of wine review language.  There are homages to favorite bottles, memorable experiences and unexpected finds.

Two in the collection stood out for me.  The first, "Big and Beautiful: Lafite for 12" is an enchanting article about a family who found an imperiale of 1986 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild in their father's cellar after his passing.  The article is a loving story of the meal they created around the immense bottle of wine (yes, they opened it!) to honor their father.  It is warm and enchanting.

The second, "Buried Treasure in Baltic Has Vintage Taste" is the story of a diver who finds a sunken ship wreck and a treasure of old but still drinkable Champagne.  We're talking early-mid 1800's Champagne.  The story has all the adventure of finding sunken treasure and the care of the subject that someone who honors both antiquities and magnificent sparkling wines can conjure.

There are many articles packed into the book.  Like I mentioned above, it is easily accessible for a casual wine enthusiast.  Yet it has a depth that will please the oenophile on your gift list.  I highly recommend this book.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Domain Gouron Chinon 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Interesting notes of eucalyptus, graphite, and blackberry mingle on the nose

Medium bodied and firmly textured on the palate

Finishes with a good beam of acidity layered with anise, plum, and graphite


Chinon is a French wine region worth exploring.  The reds are fragrant, medium bodied wines made from Cabernet Franc that delivery fruit and acidity often accompanied by some graphite notes.  This one is particularly well made and delivers integrated flavors and aromas that will pair well with veal, lamb, or roasted vegetables.  I paid $15 although typical prices seem to hover closer to $20.  Raise a glass!