Tuesday, January 29, 2013

St. Francis Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 (Sonoma County) wine review by (PB)

Rich dark black cherry hue

Bouquet--Big ripe blackberry on a foundation of unsweetened baker's dark cocoa, lush, sweet spice with rose notes and cigar box.

Palate--rich textured foundation of plush, ripe tannins supporting dark berry fruit with dark plum and a hint of chocolate ganache underneath it all with a slightly smokey and bittersweet chocolate finish.

I received this as a Christmas gift and am having it tonight with a seafood pasta in a rich Italian based sauce. This is a lovely Cab contrary to some of the very tepid reviews I saw of it. It is everything you would expect of Cabernet at this price point ($20) with a well made structure and drinking very well. Raise a glass and thanks PB and MH!

Monday, January 28, 2013

(PB's) Value Picks from 2012

We've enjoyed some awesome wines this past year and some not so awesome ones. Below are some of my value picks that stood out this past year. Remember to enjoy wine to the fullest, determine your palate--ie., what YOU like and then determine a price point--what you would be willing to pay for an everyday wine--then start drinking making notes so that you can determine some patterns of what you gravitate toward. Once you know what you like, every now and then, go out of your pattern and experiment! There are so many wines produced today, don't bore yourself with the same old same old. Whatever you do, follow our blog to help you with your selections; why spend money on something you know you won't like! And whatever you do, "Raise glass!"

Solid cherry hue with great cherry bouquet with sweet cocoa, some wood and steal. Awesome!

Palate--Perfectly integrated with cherry, tobacco, loads of herbs and balanced complexities that are harmonious and drinking superbly. Delicious!

This is Chianti Classico from the great 07 vintage in all its glory and is worth seeking out. For the money ($20) it is a grand deal so raise a glass!

Montegrossoli "Podere Ciona" 2008 ($14)
Black cherry hue with bouquet of sweet cherry/berry fruit atypical for a wine comprised of 100% Sangiovese. A touch of cedar and dill highlight a wine that smells more like a Cabernet.

Palate--My notes for this were non-existent but the words "Drinking well" and "Delicious" were all I wrote which means I intended to go back to my log but failed to. I have another bottle of this wine but this was an outstanding quaff. At $14 reduced from $28 it's a raise a glass kind of wine!

Columbia Crest H3 (Horse Heaven Hills) Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Nice deep black purple Syrah-like hue with crazy fruit jumping out of the glass on the pour.

Bouquet of Mint jelly with chocolate touches and great spice with blackberry and currant.

Palate--Super relaxed tannins and bold flavors of tar and berries with huge heavy mouth feel. Lingering finish!

This is a ridiculous value wine worth buying a case and cellaring. $12.50 a bottle and its a lot of wine. Raise a case of this ultra-value wine!

Drops Of Jupiter 2011 ($8-11)
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.

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 steal so raise a glass!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chateau Lascombes Margaux 2001 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant smoky tobacco, currants, and licorice on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Nicely woven layers of blackberry and smoky notes on the finish


If you have this wine quietly laying in the cellar, this beauty is ready to drink! You could wait a couple more years, but you certainly don't need to in order to enjoy everything it delivers. The aromas and flavors have integrated nicely and it has shows what you expect of a solid classified growth Bordeaux. Decanting is not necessary.

As far as prices, the release price a decade ago was around $40 and specialty wine merchants might have some of this available now for around $75 or so. Not a bad deal for this bottle at 12 years old. Raise a glass!

Columbia Crest H3 Horse Heaven Hills Merlot 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant blackberry, black cherry, and vanilla on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Black cherry, cocoa powder, and toasty oak on the finish


This wine is quite good and well put together.  While showing obvious oak, it also shows its sense of origins with dark fruit notes from the Horse Heaven Hills region of Washington state. It's nicely done and worth looking for on the shelves. The retail price is typically $15.

It should be said that while Merlot isn't the most fashionable grape lately, it should not be overlooked. The producers who consistently do well with Merlot are making very good wines. In fact, in Columbia Crest's value lineups that range across the varietals, including Two Vines, Grand Estates, and H3, the Merlots have recently been the best wines of the bunch. No kidding. Now raise a glass!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Waterbrook Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2009 wine review by (PB)

Slight cocoa and blackberry with ripe plum with a cedary presence on the edge.

Palate--Slightly chewy tannins with understated berry flavor; warm simple bready fruit. This wine needs to warm up from my cellar and open up;

After ample breathing this wine just never comes around. At the $20 price point it is a big disappointment as there are many solid Cabs with loads of character out there at this price point. Find something else; this is just too costly for what you get.

Sanguinetti Brunello Di Montalcino 2004 *'Small Vineyards Discovery" wine review by (PB)

Ruby hue with some bricking at the rim; rustic forest floor notes with traces of fresh cherry fruit with lots of nice, cedary cherry under the fresh fruit.

Palate--Slight cinnamon spice at the front with dry as dust tannins making for a chewy mouth feel; nice, classic Sangiovese dried cherry fruit,a touch of black pepper ending with a lingering cedar/fruit finish.

I received this wine as a gift from a budding neo-enophile and had him over for an appetizer serving him (blind) this wine. He noted that the wine was aged by the color, stated this must be a Sangiovese of around 6 years old. Impressive for such a neophyte!

Well done Thomas; I served it with spinach and cheese raviolis with a prosciutto, cream and porcini mushroom sauce. Outstanding all the way around!

*The "Small Vineyards concept is stated as follows: "Every bottle of Small Vineyards wine bears our gold seal, signifying that the wine is hand-harvested, earth-friendly, and from a family-owned estate. By importing wines from small estates, we are helping to protect unique grape varietals, local wine making styles, and preserve a special way of life."

Look for the gold seal of this wine and raise a glass!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco Valpolicella 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Fragrant nose of black cherry, dark berries, and spicy, earthy notes

Full bodied and chewy on the palate

More of the same on the dense, chewy finish


This is the most dense and extracted style of Valpolicella I have ever encountered. While the higher expressions of Amarone from the same Italian region certainly show like this, a Valpolicella Superiore is typically more of a red cherry flavor that dances with minerality. Needless to say, I was surprised by this wine. It tastes great, but it does raise the question of whether or not it loses its sense of place.

Expect to pay around $22 for this wine. Make sure to let it breathe, and raise a glass!

Finca Albret Navarra French Oak Crianza 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Spicy blackberry on the nose

Full bodied and dense on the palate

Finish packed with dark berries, currants, and oak highlights, along with being a bit resinous


For $15, this is a beautifully composed wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Tempranillo in the excited Navarra region of Spain. While showing obvious oak and even broadcasting the oak finish on the label, the wine has depth and density that comes together nicely. Enjoy with braised meat or lamb with rice. Raise a glass!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

2 Copas 2011 wine review by (PB)

This Spanish blend, from LaMancha D.O.C., is comprised of Syrah and Tempranillo. It begins with a solid garnet presentation and nice notes of cinnamon, mixed sweet spice and red cherry/berry fruit.

Palate--Warm berry flavors on a supple foundation of plush tannins with deep berry and mixed spice.

This is a tasty wine that goes down real easy; very fruity and well made in a popular style.

At a price point of just above $10 this is a good pick for non-snobby, neuvo red wine drinkers who say they "don't like red wine." This could push them the other way!

A nice pizza wine; pasta wine; lighter red or white meat with a not too strong sauce so raise a glass of well made, tasty easy to drink fruity reds!

Roederer Estate Brut Alexander Valley Sparkling Wine Review by Billy

Nose: lemon zest, saltine crackers, daisy flowers and cream
Palate: tiny tight bubbles that prickle rather than sparkle. Strong acid core with citrus rind flavors at the back of the tongue.
Finish: lingering floral and citrus notes.
Overall: I paid $24 for this California sparkling wine at a local wine shop.  The structure is very well done and the complexity and elegance of the nose rounds out the simplicity and tightness of the palate flavors.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Limerick Lane Zinfandel "Collins Vineyard" 2009 wine review by (PB)

Lighter ruby hue with big blackberry aromas, a little spice and forest floor mustiness.

Palate--Nice concentrated dark wild berry flavor bold spiciness, cinnamon hints,good structure which will continue to refine with another couple years. Finishes with some notes of charcoal or smokey oak.

This is a tasty Zin which was marked at $36 but on sale for $18. Now I wish I would have bought one or two more. A decent Zin on par with other Zins at the $30 price point; a value at this price so raise a glass!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Drops of Jupiter Red Blend 2011 wine review by (PB)

Nice dark hue with big dark berry fruit on the nose with baker's chocolate and a touch of gentle spice.

Palate--Gigantic berries with a sprig of cedar that wasn't there on my previous review a few months ago. This is well structured with silky texture, espresso or unsweetened chocolate with a touch of smoke on the finish.

When I reviewed this wine a while back (check my previous blog entry) I had paid around $8 for it and loved it believing it to be a Syrah based blend. After looking it up this it is a Petite Syrah based blend and I wouldn't be surprised if there was some Zinfandel along for the ride.

This wine is ridiculous with big flavor and a fruit bomb forward presentation that should grab your attention from the start. This is just a juicy, big wine and for the price, I will be getting MORE. Raise a glass to be sure.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Desedo Sparkling Wine Review by Billy

Nose: citrus notes of lemon and grapefruit
Palate: sweet syrup and delightfully aggressive bubbles
Finish: peaches and sweet orange on the finish
Overall: this sweet sparkling wine comes from Patagonia Argentina.  It pairs very well with salty snacks, nuts and cheeses.  I paid $16 for this at the local wine store.  Fun, fruity and a nice sweet sparkling alternative to dry bubbly.  Raise a glass

Gerard Bertrand Minervois Syrah-Carignan 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Notes of wild dark berries and roasted coffee on the nose

Full bodied and dense on the palate

Somewhat rustic finish of dark berries, bramble, and herbs


A simple summary of this wine is captured in three words: good, rich, and rustic. It screams Southern France and shows the density and rich fruit flavor that goes along with wines from this region. Pour along with a good stew, and you'll be finishing this bottle quickly. The retail price is $16, which is a rather good value. Raise a glass!

Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve Columbia Valley Red Wine 2007 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Ripe boysenberry and blackberry with some spice on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Dark chocolate, kirsch, and coconut on the finish


This is a beautiful wine from Columbia Crest. It's very good, rich, flavorful, and layered. Known for their large quantities of well made and inexpensive wine, the Walter Clore Private Reserve is a much smaller production red blend from the Columbia Valley in Washington. Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, it has all the stuff you expect from a reserve wine and is ready to drink now. Expect to pay around $30, and raise a glass!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Folie A Deux Merlot 2010 wine review by (PB)

This is a fairly intensely pigmented Merlot with robust bouquet of green pepper and white pepper,with some nice dark berries underneath.

Palate--Cinnamon galore with delicious dark berries and a wonderful integrated palate with touches of dark chocolate.

This is a well made, easy to drink, gentle structured Merlot from grapes sourced along the Alexander Valley.

My wife paid around $20 for this tasty Merlot and I am loving it so raise a glass!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Mandolin Syrah 2009 wine review by (PB)

Medium black cherry hue with fruity bouquet of dark berry and espresso with a slight twinge of cedar.

Palate--Big fruity front with dark berry flavor and nice structure with integrated ripe, tannins. Bittersweet chocolate finish.

This Central Coast Syrah (California) is tasty and drinking well. At $11 I'd buy another bottle or two; nothing special but solid.

I paired this with a moose ragu and paperadelle in lieu of classic Tuscan boar. It was OK but a rustic Chianti would have been better. At $11 raise a glass never-the-less!

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

DaVinci Chianti 2010 wine review by (PB)

Purple hue with decent Sangiovese bouquet of dried cherries and a touch of sweet spice.

Palate--Nice presentation of Tuscan making with gentle tannins and solid cherry and tart cherry flavor.

Finish lasts a bit with a subtle smokey finish.

Made with 90% Sangiovese grapes and 10% Merlot grapes with only 15% of the wine seeing oak.

At the $12 price point this is a good entry level Chianti suitable for any tomato based sauce and pasta.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Jordan 2008 Alexander Valley Cabernet Wine Review by Billy

Nose: Delightful layers of cherry, currants and spicy cracked black pepper
Palate: Delicious and savory.  Excellent tannin forward profile and great acid balance.  These combine for an absolutely exquisite mouth feel.  It is plush and full, absorbing, enchanting.
Finish: More lingering fruity cherry with savory herbs.
Overall: I was entertaining at an upscale steak house and saw this 2008 California Cabernet on the menu.  The only thing older was an '07 Silver Oak for $95 bucks more (!) than the $100 I paid for this bottle.  By way of comparison, this bottle will typically run anywhere from $37 - $50 in a regular wine shop and not at a restaurant with their insane markups.  The 2008 Jordan Cabernet was still tight and young.  We had it decanted which helped it open up some.  It was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone at the table.  Still, this is a young wine.  It is 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot.  You can see a video of the wine maker, Rob Davis, describe it here.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Rubrato Aglianico Feudi San Di Grigorio 2010 wine review by (PB) (real time review)

Pretty garnet presentation with aromas of pungent, forest floor fruit with rustic cherry/berry bouquet.

Palate-Deep flavor in the front that is waiting to break out on opening; all kinds of intense espresso fruitiness with roasted and charred wood finish.

This is a big wine that needs to both warm up from cellar temp which is around 55 in the winter as well as breath. There is a big wine here waiting to show its stuff!

After coming up to temp and breathing for an hour and a half, I have to say that the wine doesn't benefit very much from either. I like this wine but could certainly use another 2 years on the shelf but drinking quite well now. At $16, its bold enough to stand up to grilled pork loin chops on a charcoal grill even though where I live, tonight it is in the single digits. So raise a glass to good wine, and a winter gill!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Korbel "Extra Dry" sparkling wine review by (PB)

New Years Eve calls for bubbly and I am notoriously frugal when it comes to bubbly unlike "Billy" of this blog who is a Champagne nut.

I would just as soon pay for a well made low end sparkler that I enjoy rather than $30 or more for a nuanced sparkling wine that is nice but just too darned expensive.

I grabbed this for New Years Eve with my wife and I paid a whopping $10 for it.

Pale straw, with subdued aromas of melon and a hint of hazelnut.

Palate--Actually quite enjoyable with a crisp, fresh taste of very light fruit and again a touch of nuttiness.

For me, it accomplished what I hoped for; an all purpose accompaniment to whatever appetizers or snacks I might have. The sparkle is actually very good (which is important at any price point) and for the price this is a raise a glass sparkler; simple, shallow and quick but refreshing none-the-less so raise a glass and may your new year be your best ever.