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!

Domaine Tollot-Beaut Chorey-les-Beaune 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Black cherry complimented by earthy and spicy notes on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

Well-layered and smooth with more black cherry and spice


This is a well-made red Burgundy that delivers abundant black cherry and spice.  It has an earthy edge to keep it balanced and pairs well with roasted poultry and pork.  The retail price is $40.  Raise a glass!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2010 Barba Vasari Montepulciano Sponsored Wine Review by Billy

Nose: Earthy mushrooms with plum and dark cherry
Palate: Strong and tight acids that come on early and strong.  Very soft tannins leave a thin feel and a medium body.  Plums are prominent flavors in the mouth.
Finish: Elegant finish characterized by more plum and earthy notes.
Overall: The nose is great on this Italian red wine.  The medium body and thin mouth feel makes this easy to drink.  It is an elegant wine with a small, unobtrusive footprint.    It will complement meals rather than take center stage. List price on this wine is $10.99.   Special thanks to the PR team at Colangelo & Partners Public Relations for providing the media samples.

The label to the right says 2009, we reviewed the 2010.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Decoy Zinfandel 2009 wine review by (PB)

Duckhorn Vineyards--lighter hued cherry presentation with aromas of spicy blackberry

Palate--full flavored rustic berry explosion, a light touch of bittersweet chocolate with a charcoal finish.

This is a tasty Sonoma Zin, and drinks quite easily. I paid $12 for this wine but it sells for twice that. At $12 it's a great buy; at its normal price, it would be a bit over priced.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hall Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant dark berries and mocha on an inviting nose

Full bodied and plush texture on the palate

Silky finish with fine-grained tannins, dark berries, anise, and cocoa


A quintessential Napa Cabernet! Balancing dark berries with other layers built on fine tannins and a plush texture, this wine has it all and should taste great for years to come. I wish I had a lot more, especially at the release price of $40.  Pair with short ribs or steak.

Raise a glass!

Bogle Essential California Red 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Boysenberry, plum, and light spice notes on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Chewy finish of red berries and herbs with oak accents


Here's a new offering from Bogle Vineyards.  It's a good value red wine made from a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah.  I'd call it a reliable everyday wine and recommend you enjoy it in a big glass with your favorite comfort food. Expect to pay around $10.

Raise a glass!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Turley 2007 Napa Zinfandel moore "earthquake" vineyard wine review by Billy

Nose: roses, fruit and earth on the nose.
Palate: Tight tannins and young feeling still.  Acid tussles with the tannin for supremacy in a velvet ring.  Floral flavors here too.  Medium body but definitely still tasting young.
Finish: Long and minerally.
Overall:  I paid list price for this at a wine store several years ago ($56).  Tonight seems as good a night as any to open the special bottle of Napa Zinfandel. This wine should be breathed for at least an hour (this review was after 10 minutes or so of opening).  It can still lay down for a good 3-5 years.  Note: the 2007 was reviewed.  The 2008 is pictured.
Update: After breathing this for about an hour it really opens up.  The tannins relax their grip and the mouth feel smooths out to reveal an expertly crafted and complex Zinfandel.  The aromas go from fruit and flowers to earthy and deep.  This is a delightful wine!

Querceto Chianti Classico 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Raspberry, floral notes, and some brine on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

More raspberry with some tobacco and savory herbs on the finish


This is a pure expression of Chianti Classico.  Recognizing the region's wines have gotten richer and more expressive over the past 10 years, I recommend this as a great example of value priced Chianti Classico that drinks exceptionally well with a variety of food and even has the stuffing for intermediate-term cellaring. Rich fruit and spice with savory accents has become the hallmark of a region that early in my wine career produced light-bodied, acidic red wines that required a certain percentage of white grapes in the blend. Things have evolved nicely in Chianti!

Expect to pay $12-14 for this wine, and raise a glass!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Casa Ferreirinha Esteva 2010 wine review by (PB)

This Douro (Portugal) red is brimming with big blackberry aromas and a touch of brambles.

Palate--Solid presence with blackberry fruit galore, strict acid and a tannic foundation that is bold.

Finishes with more blackberries. This wine was even a bit impressive the first day but I had the remainder the second day and it was not worth drinking.

So for $10, open it, drink it and raise a glass; don't let it sit around even for a day.

Shadowood Merlot Alexander Valley Reserve 2008 wine review by (PB)

Garnet hue with fruit notes and a lot of smoke.

Palate--bitter fruit with awkward mouth feel.

Suffered through a half glass and dumped the rest. This wine is not corked, its just a poor wine.

Pass on this plonk!