Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial Champagne Review by Billy

Nose: Slate and steel nose with undertones of toast and hazelnuts.
Palate: Exquisite balance with raspberry, pear and pluot astride a steel pony galloping through a vanilla field. Small soft bubbles play all in the mouth and delight.
Finish: Lingering fruit finish with some citrus flower hints.
Overall: I paid $60 for this amazing Rose Champagne on sale at a local wine store.  It is the highlight of the evening. Rose Champagnes are difficult to do well.  But this Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial is a beautiful example of the Rose done well.  You owe it to yourself to try this at least once.

Bollinger Special Cuvee Champagne New Year's Eve Celebration Review by Billy

Nose: Honey and Lemon with herbs.
Palate: Bitty tight bubbles create texture rather than force attention on themselves. Crisp caramelized creme brulee.  Bright apple acids and mineral flavors. Lovely layers.
Finish: Finishes quickly
Overall: I picked this up on sale for $60 for our new year's eve celebration. The mullti-layered construction of this Champagne is uniquely delightful.  It is rich and soft creme underneath a bright citrus zest and mineral introduction.  A simply wonderful way to kiss the old year goodbye.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Montebuena Cuvee KPF Rioja 2010 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Red currants and herbs on the nose
Medium bodied on the palate
Red berries and pepper


Here's a good medium style of Rioja from Spain and a good value to boot at $11. It has nice red fruit and herbs at its core with a peppery finish. Because of its versatility, open this wine with just about anything. It's also a stock-up-for-that-New-Year's-Eve-party kind of wine. Have plenty of red wine like this on hand, and read PB's post below for bubbly. Then raise a glass!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New years is coming and what do I pop? Wine advice from (PB)

I have been studying wine for over 3 decades and I can still become overwhelmed at the choices out there in even a half way decent wine store. Let me try and give you some reassurance and practical help when it comes to the vast ocean of wines now filling the world's shelves. Let me reduce this to some helpful hints:

1. If you feel intimidated in the wine aisle at your local grocery store, relax, so does practically everyone else!

If you are desiring to take a bottle of wine to someone's house for New Years, unless you happen to KNOW that your host or hostess has a decent acumen about wine, again relax, your host or hostess wouldn't know the difference between a Veuve and a Barefoot sparkler. What to do or not to do?
2. DON'T bring a bottle of a highly advertized wine you saw on TV or read in a magazine. Advertising costs big money and that money has to be recouped in the product which means you will be paying a lot for the advertising of a wine which may be marginal but has great ad presence. Also avoid any wine that is below $7. (Yes there are exceptions to this depending on the state or part of the country where you live.) You can get some decent wine for under $10 if you happen to live in California, Oregon or Washington.)

3. Don't spend a lot of money on a wine thinking it will impress your peeps. They won't know the difference.

4. Please remember that Champagne is a geographical region of France--it is NOT a wine that pops when you remove the cork. Unless the wine is from Champagne, France it is sparkling wine, not Champagne.

5.Spain is producing some great sparklers for a low price called "Cava" and Italy the same with what is called Prosecco. California produces many "sparkling" wines.

6. My favorite quality sparkling wine that is an exceptional value is Mumm's Brut Prestige and will run you from between $15--a great price-- to about $21, the typical price. Freixenet (pronounced "fresh-a-net") out of Spain is another pretty reliable, tasty sparkler for around $10.

Remember you can always e-mail us and we'll try to get back to you in a timely manner.

So have fun, remember the consequences of over indulging in ethanol, and be wise in your approach to the new year.

J. Lohr Syrah (South Ridge) Paso Robles 2011 wine review by (PB)

Deep dark black cherry hue with a bouquet of black raspberry and lush berry spice with tar and hints of baker's chocolate.

Palate--A Full bodied, big, bold, fruit bomb with ripe plum and blackberry that is surprisingly integrated (for such a young wine) with supple mature tannins and nice bitter dark chocolate, a touch of oak and a fruit finish that hangs on for sometime with a little twinge of blueberry near the very end.

Syrah IS always, or at least should be, a gigantic fruit-filled block buster and this value wine from J. Lohr ($12)is a solid example of the grape. If you're in the mood for a palate assault, Syrah is a fairly reliable wine. If you're pairing it with food, make sure you're going to put something robust and bold to stand up to it. And then Raise a glass!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Louis Jadot Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru 2000 wine review by (PB)

Intense golden hue

Bouquet--Definitely oxidized notes with only the slightest hint of fruit remaining.

Palate--mouth watering, acidity with baked caramel and toffee showing its age and dry as dust. Lingering aged finish.

This wine is well past its prime which is a bit surprising given the exceptional vintage; a burgundy such as this could go for several decades.

(Billy) of this blog contributed this to our pre-Christmas feast warm-up with appetizers. Even in such a state there are elements of what this wine once was. Selling at considerably over-the-$100-price, it is disappointing and yet a treat none-the-less adding more data and experience to my wine adventures. Raise a glass this Christmas day to the ONE for whom we celebrate!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Chateau St. Michelle Dry Riesling 2012 wine review by (PB)

Straw hue with bouquet of lemon and then lime with sweet ultra ripe powdery pineapple perhaps with loads of citrus. (The bouquet is so floral that I would have thought it was a Viognier.)

Palate--With a slight spritzig (sparkle) this wine is both delicious and mouth titillating. It is brimming with loads of bright summer fruit with a slightly creamy finish and an after taste that reminds me more of Champagne than Riesling. Tropical fruit hangs on in the end making this a vibrant, lush wine with plenty of back bone. This really is a DRY Riesling so don't mistake the ultra fruity beam make you think it is sweet.

I paid $8.50 for this and wish I had bought a lot more. This is a really nice wine a super value so raise a glass or 12.

J. Lohr Chardonnay "Arroyo seco" Monterey 2012 wine review by (PB)

Light straw hue with bouquet of lemon and a touch of lime.
Palate--unusual front blast of cinnamon which is there for moment and then gone. A rigid beam of acidity with vanilla pudding and oak. Finishes with some longevity.

J. Lohr is a solid winery typically producing well made wines at all it's price points. I paid $10 for this is Los Angeles and it's a value for sure so raise a glass!

Domaine Pral Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 wine review by (PB)

Cherry hue with an amazing bouquet of sweet red candy and a flowery bouquet with an amazing "something" which eludes my sensory vocabulary.

Palate--This was not what I was expecting; first impression is quite acidic almost to the point of puckering,with a really short presentation of sparse red fruit--strawberry--ending quickly even as it began the same. This is a big disappointment. The bouquet is wonderful, enticing and filled with sweet fruit but doesn't deliver in the mouth. Perhaps it will improve with breathing and warming up a bit from cellar temp which at the moment is about 54 degrees.

I paid $12 for it and it was worth the education as I have never had a "Domaine" Beaujolais Nouveau. I have one other "Domaine" Beaujolais which I will compare a later time. *The jury is out on this one; it is definitely not the typical highly fruity, easy to guzzle Nouveau. I will pair it with homemade French Onion soup.

Obviously label pictured is not for the 2013 but is the same in all other ways.
*After letting it breath and pairing it with dinner, my assessment remains that it was not a very pleasing Nouveau.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bliss Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 wine review by (PB)

Purple to garnet hue with nice big bouquet full of blackberries and spice with a presence of stewed tomatoes.

*Palate--First impression was not what I expected. A bit tart with subdued fruit and a clunky lack of identity leaving a finish that is somewhat bitter. (*Frankly--rather plonky...)

*Caveat: I am fighting a chest cold and it may be that this is an utterly unfair review in light of an "off palate" due to seasonal viruses. I am leaving it posted so that others who have had this wine recently might confirm or debunk my assessment. Chime in please! And remember that one's palate may be tainted a day or two before a cold has even expressed symptoms. Probably better to give benefit of doubt.

Bundle up if you're in the northern climes as I am. T'was 19 below zero this morning and the day's high barely made it above zero. Raise a glass.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Lanciola le Masse di Greve Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Lanciola Chianti Classico Le Masse Di Greve Riserva  2007 750ml

Tasting notes:

Beautiful earthy and savory notes on the nose with currants and leather

Full bodied and dense on the palate

Long finish of dark berries, currants, and spices


This is a big, expressive Chianti Classico Reserva. While delicious now, it should also cellar well for another decade. I paid $23, which is a few dollars below list price. Absolutely delicious, so raise a glass!

Brancott Estate Marlborough Pinot Noir 2011 Wine Review (NW)

Brancott Pinot Noir 2011

Tasting notes:

Spicy cherry on the nose

Light bodied and fruity on the palate

Good layers of strawberry, spices, and herbs on the finish


Are you looking for a good value Pinot Noir? This is one of the few at only $12 or so. Because the grape tends to be difficult to cultivate and ripen, it isn't one of those grapes that can grow and be produced on the cheap just anywhere.

Brancott Estate is a value wine producer in New Zealand, where the light bodied Pinot Noirs can have lots of fruit flavor and crisp minerality when done well. Enjoy with fresh and light dishes. Raise a glass!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Once Upon A Vine The Fairest Chardonnay 2011 wine review by Billy

Nose: grapefruit, vanilla and creme brulee
Palate: supple mouth feel with firm core and buttery tones
Finish: pears and honey on the finish
Overall: this is a fantastic California Chardonnay with rich feel and soft complexion.  It is sourced and crafted in Sonoma California. I paid about $15 for this bottle an it is a great deal at this pricsilhouetteed it up solely because we had not tried it before and I liked the label which features a Brother Grimm stylized font and an intreaguing silouhuette of trees wine and the moon. 

Raise a glass!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Columbia Crest Merlot "Grand Estates" 2011 wine review by (PB)

Jellied cranberry sauce hue with aromas of spiced chocolate berries

Palate--milk chocolate front with rich dark berry fruit with loads of spicy goodness.

Columbia Crest is Washington State's go-to winery for utterly reliable production level wines that always out perform their price point. I bought this on sale at a local grocery store for $9 which is about $3 less than what we might normally see it for. Either way it is a great value and the Washington state terroir is positively identifiable with its beam of cocoa or chocolate in its red wines.

Raise a glass to CC and whether you buy their "Two Vines" table wine, Grand Estates or Horse Heaven Hills (H3) or one of their other named wines, you can buy them with confidence!

Monday, December 02, 2013

Cosmia Pinot Noir 2012 (Sonoma) wine review by PB)

Light cherry hue with aromas of strawberry and cherry candy with a nuanced touch of chocolate with ever so slight touch of licorice.

Palate--Tasty fruit filled, raspberry and strawberry; finishes quickly with an awkward mouth feel after wards.

Just for kicks I have posted the "official" Trader Joe's review of this wine below so you can compare the two.

To help you understand differences in reviews by "educated professionals" let me explain the following.

TJ'S says--"Cosmia Pinot Noir – Smooth & dry, with assertive cherry and blackberry fruits on the palate, toasty oak notes and silky tannins, this Sonoma County Pinot plays smoothly with food. It’s a definite crowd pleaser, especially at our price: $8.99"

There is a thin line between cherry and strawberry in Pinot Noir. What I would call Strawberry, they call cherry. I get NO blackberry though. Toasty oak? Well I will admit I have a block on my palate when it comes to wood in the wine. It's not that it isn't there necessarily, My brain just ID's it as something else. Now silky tannins, I might dispute. This wine is relaxed to be sure but I wouldn't think it is due to silky tannins as much as it just a well integrated construction of the wine. Bottom line--Let this wine breathe and warm up to room temp if at cellar temperature. There's more there than meets the nose! At any rate, for $8.99 for a Pinot, I say raise a glass!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Parducci "True Grit" Petite Syrah Reserve 2009 wine review by (PB)

Black cherry hue with aromas of dark berries, and a touch of brambles.

Palate--Fairly supple mouth feel with big dark jammy berry fruit and a touch of tar. Dark fruit finishes that hangs on a while.

True Grit is from Parducci one of the vintners I cut my wine teeth on over a quarter of a century. I don't see it very much out here in New England--meaning Maine. But I saw this at a New Hampshire liquor store and grabbed it. This was one of their sale wines marked down from $25 to $15. I am going to hold off on my final assessment until it has more time to breathe. As it is right now it is just "OK" at the $15 price point; if I had paid full price I would not be pleased. The difference between a $15 wine and $25 one should be complexity and some characteristic that is fairly impressive, not just "ok."

Final assessment--The wine did not improve and if anything degraded a bit. I would pass on this but don't give up on Parducci--they are are a solid winery despite this unusual occurrence.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Masciarelli Montapulciano D'Abruzzo 2011 wine review by (PB)

Pretty ruby hue with aromas of forest floor, cherry fruit and spice.

Palate--Bright, zesty cherry and red berry fruit galore with lively mouth feel due to lip smacking acidity. Finishes quickly but what a nice, easy drinking fruit-filled wine!

I have reviewed this several weeks (months?) ago and made a note to buy more. Glad I did and especially at the sub $10 price point. This would be a great pizza wine, light tomato based pasta, and a host other nice dishes. I'll be having left over turkey and side with it later on. I liked it before and I like it again so raise a glass!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Rodney Strong Alexander Valley Rockaway Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant black cherry, plum, and eucalyptus notes on the nose

Full bodied with plush texture on the palate

Kirsch, stewed berries, and chocolate on the long finish


Beautifully made, this is a classic Alexander Valley Cab! It has depth and richness built around black cherry and exotic layers that unfold nicely on the long finish. While not an every day wine at $75, it's a real treat to be enjoyed with friends and family over a good meal. Thanks to generous relatives for providing this bottle for the Thanksgiving feast! It was perfect with turkey and all the trimmings. Raise a glass!

Altovinum Evodia Calatayud Old Vines Grenache 2012 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Red berries and herbal notes on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Finishes with more red berries and spice accents


Another good value Spanish wine- I paid $9 for the bottle. It shows nice red fruit with some depth and density. I expect it will be versatile with food, so just pop the cork and pour away. And raise a glass!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Four Vines Zinfandel "The Sophisticate" 2009 wine review by (PB)

Nice dark black cherry hue with aromas of big jammy blackberry, spicy dark berry with cigar box touches, and light mint or cedar notes. Nice!

Palate--Plush mouth feel, integrated structure with the big, spicy dark berry and tar or unsweetened dark chocolate that I love in my Zin! Bittersweet bakers chocolate on the finish that lingers.

This is what I expect of my Zinfandels and I have not experienced this in the past couple years outside of the folks at Rosenblum. But Four Vines (Sonoma) producers build nice zinfandels from their entry level "OVC" at the $10 price point right on up. This one is around $20+ and if you're looking for good example of this varietal, this and the Rosenblum single vineyard Zins are hard to beat.

I am pairing this with 2 other "big" wines (a younger Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and and 1998 single vineyard Napa Cab.) The whole "white wine" with poultry is a misguided suggestion. It all depends what spices you will be serving with the whole meal and Thanksgiving dinner typically needs BIG red wines. For the three of us who comprise the Wine Cask blog--(NW) (Billy) and myself, raise a glass to the One by whose grace we awake every morning to see a new day!

Ravenswood Shiraz (Vintner's Blend) 2010 wine reveiw by (PB)

Black cheery hue lighter than Shiraz should be and aromas that smell more like a "kit wine" than a maker of the caliber of Ravenswood.
Bouquet is non-descript with aromas of berries that is confused as to what it is.

Palate--Balanced, some decent berry fruit present finishing quickly.

When I want Shiraz, this is not what I expect even at this price point. Ravenswood is one of the great wine makers of California and while I understand the economics of business, this just shouldn't be under the Ravenswood name. Pass on this.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Bliss Family Vineyards Zinfandel (Mendocino) 2010 wine review by (PB)

Lighter garnet hue with aromas of homemade tomato jam, and lightly spiced berry.

Palate--Soft foundation with dark berry flavors that are a bit short, but tasty, and somewhat unique for the Zins I have had which are numerous and varied. Soft lingering spiced berry finish dried raspberry nuances long after.

This is unlike any Zin I have had and I really like it. It is not assaulting to the palate although I love Zins that are. This ialso a new producer to me and I have a Cabernet Sauvignon from them which I am looking forward to trying since having this wine. I am pairing it with venison stew and at the

Friday, November 22, 2013

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 wine review by (PB)

Purple grape juice hue with a strong bouquet of fruity cinnamon with all kinds of sweet fruity goodness that is hard to pin down to a single adjective.

Palate--a taut acidic structure with quick light fruit and a fleeting finish.

For the full back ground on Beaujolais Nouveau see our numerous posts from the past. This is a wine released annually at the same time in November vinified for a total of around 6 weeks before release. It is more a festival wine celebrated world wide and made for quick and easy consumption.

The nose on this Nouveau (which means new)is better than usual while the palate is shorter than in better years but still quite a decent casual quaff. Expect to pay around $10 for Nouveau wines and remember they are not made to last in the bottle. So when you see them for sale 9 months from now, make sure you can return it where you bought it if it is shot. A reputable establishment will be happy to refund your money. Raise a glass as you shout, "Le Nouveau Est Arrive!"

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Valckenberg Gewurztraminer 2012 wine review by (PB)

Pale golden with floral bouquet of tropical fruit with vanilla cream.

Palate--a touch flabby but enough to make it less than a failure. Pronounced off-dry tropical fruit with finish of gentle summer fruit.

This Pfalz German wine is disappointing lacking the structure I would expect for this grape. It would make a summer quaff chilled down before the "real" wine is served but for the price, $14, I would give it a pass. It's not a horrible wine but it is forgettable and there are better selections out there for even less money!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Serie Riberas Gran Reserva Cabernet Sayuvignon 2011 wine review by (PB)

Pigmented cranberry jelly hue with aromas of spearmint, green pepper, and dark berries and fresh berry nuances

Palate--Cinnamon, metallic, assertive tannins, and rich blackberry and plum.

This is made by the folks at Concha Y Toro who have proved themselves to be the premier vintners of Chile. I picked this up because I had never seen this particular label nor was I familiar with the Marchigue region of Chile.

This is a big wine that could use a couple more years to come around and should live for another 8-10. I paid $14 for this and am not disappointed. Concha Y Torro has done it again, or should I say, they keep on doing what they do well! Raise a glass!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 wine review by (PB)

Black cherry hue with a bouquet of Daffodil, black cherry, earthy, and forest floor.

Palate--Integrated, balanced, nuanced black licorice, dark berry fruit with slightly chewy tannic finish and a hint of smoke.

2007 was a superior year for Chianti and this wine is always a good example of both the grape (Sangiovese) and terroir. A state liquor store has been running a great sale on this wine for several months and I keep grabbing a couple bottles when I am through this particular state. I found this for $14 but expect pay nearly twice that. Never-the-less, having been to Greve, Italy I am transported back to the time and place with my daughter and her husband (NW) of this blog. We raised a glass then and I'll raise one now!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sponsored Wine Review: Masi Costasera Amarone Classico 2009

In The Glass: Deep dark ruby in color with youthful, translucent purple at the edges.  Pretty.
Nose: Wet leather, earth, mushroom with plum and cherry.
Palate: Tight tannins wrap a big-boned acid core though which come juicy berries and flint.
Finish: Cinnamon and cocoa hint during the long finish.
Overall: Let this wine breathe if you open it any time between now and 2018! It was incredibly tight in the beginning, betraying its relative youth.  But after 90 minutes open and breathing this Amarone relaxed a bit and the flavors, crafting and quality were incredible.  Even so, the wine is drinking young now.  Its multi-layered nose and mid-palate flavors have huge promise for aging over the next 5 years.  It is worthwhile to purchase a case (or even a half-case) and open one bottle a year just to see how this magnificent wine comes together.

Because this is a sponsored wine review, we received this wine at no charge.  However, it retails for an average of $53 with a SRP of $70.  However, some local stores may have it on special for under $30 (if so, pick up several, it's a steal!)

Here is what Masi says about their 2009 Costasera Amarone: the estate’s specialty -- to produce this unique Amarone, Masi combines ancient varieties (Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara) and winemaking methods (vinifying grapes semi-dried on racks for 3-4 months) with the latest techniques: bamboo racks in temperature- and humidity-controlled conditions induce natural drying; selective exposure to botrytis cinerea (‘noble rot’); strictly controlled fermentations through the use of Saccharomyces bayanus, a rare yeast that produces high alcohol. This deep ruby-red wine has powerful, complex aromas of dried plums and balsamic (anise, fennel, mint) traces. Quite dry (not sweet) on the palate, soft and with bright acidity, the wine shows flavors of baked cherry, chocolate and cinnamon. Structured but noble, delicate tannins precede a long finish.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

J. Lohr White Riesling (Monterey County) 2012 wine review by (PB)

Straw hue with pungent powdery tropical fruit assemblage with hints of ripe pineapple, and (sit down for this) the white centers on the candy caramels called "Cow Tails."

Palate--positively delicious, fruit filled, acid balanced,tropical delight with zesty mouth feel and a lingering fruity goodness. Wow!

I found this for $8.50 and will buy more if any remains! If you happen to stumble on this, grab it even if it is nearly twice this price. Riesling (the grape) has grown out of favor which makes no sense at all. It is usually refreshing, fruit filled and great as an aperitif or with the right kinds of food. Think harder to pair, Asian, and Indian cuisine and then raise a glass or 3!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Milbrandt Vineyards 2010 Merlot wine review by (PB)

Black cherry hue with bouquet of blackberry, cigar box,slight cocoa note with a faint herbal presence.

Palate--Supple texture with silky tannins, big dark fruit berry beam with a finish of fruity cocoa.

I have a difficult time differentiating some Merlots from Cabernet Sauvignons and this is one. To me this is a typical Washington State Columbia Valley expression of the terroir with that ever present chocolate/mocha/cocoa depending on the production and varietal.

I paid $14 for this and I like it so raise a glass!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

David Bruce Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2006 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant red fruit with a touch of vanilla and spice on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

More red fruit on the finish with clove and herbs


Always an enjoyable Pinot Noir from David Bruce, this 2006 is aging gracefully and tastes great now. It runs about $40 so it's not an everyday wine, but it elevates a good meal. Pair with a variety of dishes from braised meat to roasted root vegetables.

Raise a glass!

Antinori Tignanello Toscana 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Amazing chocolate, rich berries, cherry, and some cedar on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Dense, long finish of dark berries, cedar, and savory spices


Excellent! Nearly 10 years old, this wine is still gaining depth and presence. While it's very enjoyable now, it will reward further patience in the cellar.

I got a great deal on a case of this wine a while back at $60 a bottle. Expect to pay more like $90 if you see it today. It's one of the great super-Tuscans- arguably the first super-Tuscan. Made with Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon, it carries all the signature characteristics of the region and has endless layers on the finish.

Gather some friends or family, and raise a glass!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Chateau de Campuget 2012 Costieres de Nimes Rose wine review by (PB)

This is a uniquely hued rose with a light pinkish and slightly orange presence.

Bouquet--candied spice with lovely mango? and tropical fruit nose.

Palate--A lively beam of tangy tropical fruit on a foundation of sleek acid with a fruity finish.

The Costieres de Nimes (pronounced--KOTE-yair da NEEM) is a fairly obscure region of the Rhone wine made from Grenache Noir (30%) and Syrah (70%.)

This is a $12 (or less) rose that is not your everyday "blush." This has some heft and is well made. I will be pairing it with my seafood soup currently simmering. This is a lovely little getaway in a bottle so raise a glass and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Gettysburg Winery "Tears of Gettysburg" --150th Gettysburg Commerative-- wine review by (PB)

Gentle golden hue with bouquet of sweet grape reminding me of muscadine.

Palate--Big SWEET presence with a fair amount of acid to help the sweetness not be cloying, but barely. Grapey finish.

OK, where to begin? This wine is produced by Adams County Winery and is a blend of Niagara grapes. Do I review this as a wine or as a touristy, fun kind of beverage? As a "real" wine it is too sweet (of course that is a personal preference now isn't it?)although I will say it is one of the best Niagara's I have had but then that would be about three. Still, the wine does have enjoyable characteristics and I found myself not wanting to like it yet seemed to keep refilling my glass a little bit at a time.

As a souvenir, this is a marvelous memento of a vacation or trip or gift from a friend.

It has won many awards and some people will love this wine. Chill it down real good and on a hot summer day I could see it being fun with friends on the deck. And after getting raked over the coals after a review I did of a St Augustine, Fla winery, I will just say, that if you have made the trip to Gettysburg and wanted a keepsake, this would be a fine gift. So, if you are given to such things, raise a glass.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Trimbach "Gewurztraminer" 2008 wine review by (PB)

This Alsatian Varietal is golden to the eye with a bouquet of mandarin orange, ripe pineapple, kumquat, and peach all blended into a lovely fruit filled aroma.

Palate--Bursts with tropical fruit flavors galore with a nearly velvety textured foundation that together is wowing. It finishes as wondrously as it began and I have to call this nearly 6 year old Gewurz "Alsational!"

I found this at a local grocery store a few years back which was closing them out at $10. (The wine normally sells for at least twice that.) Being a chain store, I went to as many were practical and bought out what they had which varied by store and vintage. This is the last bottle of the lot and it is the best of the bunch. It is absolutely peak and stable and delicious. This is a LOT of drinking pleasure for $10 so I am raising a glass pairing it with a German sausage sampler and spaetzle we found in an unlikely out of the way place in rural Maine. If you chance upon this wine in this vintage in the next 6 months or so, buy it for whatever they are asking; it's a stellar example of the grape (pronounced Ga-VURTZ-tra-meen-er) and the terroir! Raise a glass for sure!!!

Sponsored Wine Review: Masi Campofiorin 2009 by Billy

From time to time, The Wine Cask Blog receives wine for review.  We always label these as "sponsored wine reviews".  This is one such review

Nose: Earthiness and even some leather spice scents predominate the nose of blueberry and cherry blossom.  There are floral notes that play nicely with the earthy notes.
Palate: Juicy mouth feel with light tannins and light acids but a subtle structure that ties it all together.
Finish: Brief finish that is un-presuming.
Overall: This is a very easy drinking Italian red wine.  It's straight-forward character is easy on the mouth and pairs well with almost anything.  It is light bodied enough to go with lighter fare but with a fun and engaging nose that gives elegance to anything it accompanies.

Because this is sponsored, we did not pay for the wine.  However, it retails for anywhere from $12-$18.  It is a good deal at the lower price points and a great, open it up whenever, red.

Here is what Masi says about the 2009 Campofiorin:
The original “Supervenetian”,  is a specialty wine made from  local Veronese grapes Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, vinified and then re-fermented with a small percentage of semi-dried grapes of the same varieties.  This versatile wine shows generous, ripe aromas of plum and cherry jam, with hints of spice. Bold and rich flavors of bitter cherries and berry fruits stand out, with good acidity, balance and velvety tannins.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Convento Las Claras Ribera del Duero 2011 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Dark berries, licorice, and spice on the nose

Full bodied on the finish

Juicy, dense finish of espresso and dark berries with moderately firm tannins


Here's a modern, flavorful style of Tempranillo from the Ribera del Duero region in Spain. It really packs a punch of flavor on a moderately tannic core.

I grabbed several bottles at $15, marked down from $18. At this price, it's easy to recommend to big red wine drinkers. Raise a glass!

Antinori Bramito del Cervo Castello dell Sala Umbria Chardonnay 2012 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Tropical bouquet with lemon accents on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Rich but bright with some buttery and toasty notes with apple and lemon


This wine strikes a good balance between richness and acidity. It's packed with flavor and shows nice accents to round out the tropical fruit and toasty notes that you might expect with Chardonnay. Produced by Antinori from grapes sourced in Umbria, Italy, it's a delightful wine. Look for it at the $20 mark. Open and enjoy- maybe as I did with a whole Branzino. Raise a glass!

Friday, November 01, 2013

Caves Saint-Pierre "Gigondas" 2011 wine review by (PB)

Dark cherry hue with aromas of sweet red berry and sour pie cherry further in the glass. There is a nearly perfumey note in this nice bouquet with a suggestion of leather.

Palate is surprisingly supple structure with a candy like sweet presence of red berry and maybe some light cherry. There is an interesting but elusive creamy "something" near the rear and finishes nicely with a lasting pleasantness.

Gigondas is just Northeast of Chateauneuf in the Rhone and Gigondas makes Grenache based wines with a blend of other Rhone varieties (but are predominantly Grenache.) This was surprisingly elegant for how young it is. It is brimming with finesse and beautiful berry taste and while I paid $15 for it and is a very nice bottle so raise a glass!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Charton La Fleur Sauvignon Blanc (Bordeaux) 2011 wine review by (PB)

Pretty lemon hue with aromas of light orange blossom, grass, sweet flower bouquet with a touch of honey!

Palate-Tropical fruit salad, with grassy notes, and a fruity finish. The structure is a mite weak but still impressive.

I got more than I expected from this inexpensive ($10) wine and I expect it to pair well with our broiled chicken breasts with Parmesan cheese and roasted acorn squash with sour cream potatoes.

This is a very nice value and I expect I will buy a bottle or two more so raise a glass!

*(The label shown isn't exact to the one on my bottle. It should have the words Sauvignon Blanc right under the word BORDEAUX)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pierre-Luc Bouchard Muscadet Sevre Et Maine 2011 wine review by (PB)

Light golden hue with nice aromas of ripe pineapple, and sweet lemon.

Palate--Nicely crafted with balanced elements of flavor and structure. Lemon beam with gentler tropical fruit notes. Finishes with a slight floral nuance and citrus.

I paid $14 for this and it is a tasty aperitif as well as a nice food wine which I had with a gorgeous seafood chowder. Raise a glass!

(Note that the label shown is a bit different than the actual one I have reviewed.)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Zaca Mesa Santa Ynez Valley Syrah 2006 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Dark berries, plum sauce, and spices on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Layers of dark berries, roasted meat, and pepper on the finish


Very nice! This wine is still going strong. In fact, it may be getting even better than on release. I've worked through a half a case over the past 4 years that I bought for $20 a bottle, and wish I had some more. Raise a glass!

Torbreck Woodcutter's Barossa Valley Semillon 2011 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Notes of apple and lemon on the nose

Medium bodied with good acidity on the palate

Finishes with pear and some dried spice


When you want to step out of your white wine routine, try this Semillon from Torbreck in Australia. It's a bit different and has a nice flavor profile that should prove to be versatile and easy to enjoy. For that reason, I recommend it.

Expect to pay $15 for the bottle, and raise a glass!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay (North Coast) 2010 wine review by (PB)

Golden straw hue with aromas of lovely tropical fruit salad highlighting lemony citrus and creme brulee.

Palate--Substantial varietal flavors with loads of tropical goodness with citrus under it all. It is nicely textured with a vanilla beam down the middle with excellent structure and a lingering tropical and green apple finish.

A few days back I reviewed a Ch. St. Jean Merlot and it was marginal. Wine maker Margot Van Staaveren is a genius when it comes to Chardonnay. This is at a table wine price point but tastes like it is twice the price of $9 I paid. Raise a glass to an always solid Chardonnay!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville) 2004 wien review by (PB)

Cranberry jelly hue with a bouquet of sweet red berry away from the glass, with gentle black berry and cedar in the glass. AS the wine breathes and warms up there is a big blast of black berry fruit and cigar box aromas.

Palate--full bodied *minerally presence that is quite pronounced (I didn't expect that) with measured tannins loads of black cherry fruit and a fairly chunky finish with lingering fruit.

*I had a filling replace four hours ago and I think it quite possible that the Novocaine injection may have affected my taster which might explain the very minerally first impression.

Robert Mondavi is of course the iconic Napa farmer who put Napa on the map in many ways. (NW) of this blog and myself visited the Mondavi Vineyard and winery in 2003 I think and just by chance we treated with running into Mr. Mondavi on the property where he was celebrating his 84th? birthday. It is beyond cavil that California wine country owes a great deal to this man and numerous others who brought California into the world wine market as a true leader. This wine immediately takes me to the place where I see Mr. Mondavi wearing a straw hat if I remember correctly as he took guests around his lovely estate. Ah, the memories wine evokes; there is nothing like it.

I paid around $40 for this treat several years ago. It is tasty now but could have used another 5 years in the bottle. Raise a glass to the late King of Napa Cabernet and the man's legendary "To Kalon"(pronounced Toe Kalon) (the beautiful one in Greek) vineyard!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Altitude 420 Vinosobres 2010 Domaine Jaume wine review by (PB)

Big fruit filled bouquet with jammy accents reminiscent of cranberries cooking down for Thanksgiving feast. Dark berry and dried cherry notes, (rose petals later) round out an interesting nose.

Palate--mouth filling but stifled black berry flavors with young tannins and some buried flavors of espresso? and possibly baker's chocolate. Needs to breathe!

Vinosobres is an AOC wine designating origins of fruit from the southern Rhone where a typical blend would be Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre (pronounced Mor-Ved). This is 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah and holds real potential to be a juicy and balanced wine. It just needs another 2 years or so to come into its fullness.

I found this at the $20 price point and will improve as it breathes. Raise a glass of this tasty Rhone!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Alamos Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Dark berries and spice on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Moderately tannic finish with berries, cocoa, and green herbal notes


I've sampled a lot of Alamos Malbec over the years, but not much of the Cabernet Sauvignon. For $10, this is a nice value Cab from Argentina. I found it interesting that it was better the second night it was open (kept sealed in the refrigerator during the day). The green herbal note on the finish was less pronounced and the effects of oxidization were not obvious. I recommend this be added to your "every day wine" repertoire. Enjoy, and raise a glass!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chateau St. Jean Merlot (California) 2011 wine review by (PB)

Black cherry hue with vegetal green pepper aroma first from the glass followed by black berry.

Palate--somewhat coarse on the first impression with a clunky kind of presence in the mouth. Berry foundation with a quick finish.

Chateau St.Jean generally produces wines at all levels that are well made and value wines as a whole. This tastes like it was made with unripe fruit. I would pass on this one.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Villa Erbice Vigneto Tremenel Amarone della Valpolicella 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Amazing notes of black licorice, mint, dark plum, violets, and spice on the nose

Full bodied and plushly textured on the palate

Super rich, velvety finish of mocha and prune


Wow! This wine delivers in abundance. It has an amazing nose that changes and unfolds depending on how you swirl the glass. The texture is plush and the finish is rich and lengthy. What a treat!

PB, one of my co-authors on this site, nabbed a bottle of this several years back on clearance for $50 and was gracious enough to share it. Expect to pay more like $65 if you can track it down. I recommend it as a strong example of what Amarone can be like with a little patience in the cellar. Raise a glass!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Archeo Nero D'Avola 2012 wine review by (PB)

Deep black cherry hue with aromas of spicy cherry with suggestion of cocoa

Palate--well made, with flavors of classic Nero D'Avola cherriness with an integrated spiciness that is reminiscent of Sangiovese. Finishes quickly but leaves a delicate impression of all you just drank.

OK--the "get a grip" factor--I have reviewed numerous iterations of this wine available at Trader Joe's for--wait for it--$5! Now normally a $5 wine is something you might enjoy once if you're lucky or even partly through the bottle but then it turns on you. Not this wine--it is always made well, typifies the grape and is just plain good drinking, for the price; pair it with your favorite Italian fare. So all I can say is "Raise a glass" and you'll be glad you did!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Vidal-Fleury Cotes Du Rhone 2011 wine review by (PB)

Ruby hue with saliva producing tart pie cherry aroma emerge first, sweet cherry above the rim, and a fleeting moment of milk chocolate.

Palate--Juicy first impression, nice flavors with a beam of fruity cherry (grenache blend)with somewhat chewey tannins. Fleeting finish.

My wife paid $14 for this and bought in on the recommendation of one of the employees where she purchased it. I have found that when someone is standing in front of you and makes a wine recommendation to you, that you can be pretty sure that at the very least, they really liked the wine enough that they are excited to see someone else enjoy it as well. The one caveat is that the person may have no real experience with a broad variety of wines which means their recommendation comes down to their preference. Even with this caveat however, my experience is that recommendations from one who works in the department are quite reliable. The bottom line is, don't be afraid to utilize the expertise of onw who works with wine daily. It can save you wasting your money regretting your purchase so raise a glass!

Friday, October 04, 2013

William Hill Napa Valley Merlot 2009 wine review by (PB)

Nice garnet hue with aromas of swelling, rich, cherry, cigar box, glorious fennel emerging later, with cedar and licorice. Delightful!

Palate--Sharp biting, immaturity yet showing what it is capable of--like a proud peacock. Subtle suggestions of cherry and chocolate, and more fruity cedar sprigs.

This wine is still young and yet drinking beautifully. It is one of the best Merlots I have had in a long time. My friend brought it over to share and paid $26 for it. This is why you pay more for wine with character, class and above all, delicious, fruity goodness. Finishes with a lingering suggestion of all that is there. Raise a glass of this gorgeous quaff.