Saturday, August 31, 2013

Viu Manent Malbec Reserva 2012 wine review by (PB)

Purple and watermelon hue with aromas of sweet spicy Thanksgiving "spiced apples" without the cinnamon; a touch of mint emerges later with more sweet candied dark berry notes. Reminds me of a big Grenache which is odd for a Malbec.

Palate--Intense, bold, espresso roast and dark fruit with intensity and bold mouth feel. Finishes with a lingering fruit berry presence.

One of the better Malbecs I have had especially at this price point ($10). (It can be found for as low as $8 which is a steal!)

This is a BIG wine, fruit forward, young and will only continue to get better for another 2 years. Raise a glass!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Sterling Vintner's Collection "Meritage" 2010 wine review by (PB)

Pretty garnet/cherry hue with aromas of spicy black berry, and a touch of sweet chocolate.

Palate- On opening there was an up front blast of prominent cinnamon (red hots candies)which disappeared quickly on breathing. Now 24 hours later the wine is full of blackberry sweetness and spice reminding me of a zinfandel more than a Bordeaux blend. But it is tasty, drinks well, has character and structure with a slightly lingering finish.

For $9 this is a nice value wine but DO pay attention to the vintage as each vintage differs in the blend they use. This one is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot with some other blending grapes. Back in the 70's Sterling Vineyards was one of the up and coming wineries back when I was cutting my teeth on oenology. They since seemed to have made a business decision along the way to make wines in the popularly priced priced range of $10 rather than the higher end of other California wineries. They are not the winery they were back in the day but occasionally they put out a good value like this one so raise a glass! Thanks Tom!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Napa Valley Reserve 2009 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Currants and dark berries on the nose

Full bodied and dense on the palate

Finish of berries, earth, and tobacco


This Bordeaux-style blend from Beaulieu in Napa Valley has been a consistent winner in recent years. Made from the classic noble blending grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot, it shows weight and depth and flavor from front to back. It can also cellar.

PB, Billy, and I had a recent Wine Cask Blog tasting opportunity at a gathering in Maine. We have some history with this wine, so it was nice to taste the 2009 together.

Expect to pay around $45, although prices can vary widely in my experience. Don't forget to put something on the grill, then raise a glass!

Cloudy Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2012 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Lemongrass on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

Fairly long finish of grapefruit and lime with an herbal touch


Here's another nicely put together Sauvignon Blanc from Cloudy Bay. It has structure, class, and good flavor. The bottle was emptied pretty quickly during our Wine Cask Blog gathering on a sunny afternoon at a lake house in Maine.

Still one of the leaders in the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc category, this wine is getting a bit expensive at $30 or so. Find it on sale, and raise a glass!

Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2010 wine review by Billy

Nose: lemon flowers melon
Palate: soft and even with great structure and floral notes.
Finish: citrus and flowers and slate.
Overall: awesome.  Chateau Montelena put California Chardonnay on the map when in 1976 they took 1st place in the Paris Tasting, beating out the well known French Chardonnays.  The quality of Montelena's craft remains to this day with a delightfully crisp chardonnay. This amazing California Chardonnay runs about $50.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Ecco Domini Moscato 2011 wine review by (PB)

Nice pretty golden hie with aromas of sweet, tropical fruit salad.

Palate--disappointingly flaccid, licking acidic foundation to carry the sweetness which orders on cloying but not quite.

This wine would be appreciated by consumers who basically "don't like wine" but tend to like "soda pop wines" like this one. Pass on this and try another; at its best, it is gloriously refreshing, fruity and very drinkable especially chilled down as a summer aperitif.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Matua Valley Pinot Noir (Marlborough) 2011 wine review by (PB)

This New Zealand Pinot has a lovely bouquet of bright candied cherries with cherry cream bon-bons and strawberry notes loaded with sweet spices.

Palate--brightly acidic with tart cherry and red berry flavors with a beam of smoke down the center. Finishes with a little bit of a flat ending.

Its been a while since I have had a NZ Pinot and this is a tasty one. It is a bit too warm right now and needs to be cooled down a bit where it will only improve. I believe I paid around $15 for it and its a nice pinot for the price so raise a glass!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Viu Manent Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2012 wine review by (PB)

Garnet hue with a unique bouquet which, if I were tasting this blind would be tempted to think it a white wine and a S. Blanc at that! This bouquet has a spicy/grassy green peppery front with sweet berry fruit away from the rim.

Palate--This is not your typical Chilean (Colchagua) Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a green front with spicy light berry flavors which defy the grape. If I were tasting this blind I would be stumped.

The label's tasting notes bear no resemblance to reality but don't let that distract you from trying this wine. The folks at Viu Manent know how to make Cab Sauv. and while this one is atypical, I like it and is intriguing! At $ raise a glass! And for my friend Tom, a budding oenophile, I totally understand your comments "if" this was even the same wine you were talking about, but again, while atypical, it is a solid wine with much to commend it! I say, raise a glass!

Wild Thing Old Vine Zinfandel 2009 wine review by (PB)

Cherry hue with aromas of spicy wild dark red berries.

Palate--Nice up front presence of cherry/berry fruit, supple tannins, zesty structure and a unsweetened, bitter baker's chocolate finish with a cherry touch.

This Mendocino Zin produced by the Shelton wine folks is tasty, friendly and a pretty nice Zinfandel. I haven't had many Zins from Mendocino, in fact I don't remember any at all. But I will remember this one and at the $20 price point it's a decent buy so raise a glass!

Beaulieu Vineyards Chardonnay (Carneros) 2008 wine review by (PB)

Rather intense golden hue with aromas in the bouquet of caramelized pineapple and a classic "over-the-hill" aroma that white wines tend to get when they are ready to be buried.

Palate--This wine is showing its age in both the bouquet and the palate which can be a mixed bag. This wine has a racy beam of acidic fruit that tastes baked and beyond its prime and yet its a bit interesting. If I was counting on a classic Carneros Chard I would be disappointed and even considering returning it. When I bought it I inquired about the possibility and like all good wine shops, they should (and always have)stood behind any wine that is corked or beyond a reasonable age.

This wine is going back. Sure I only paid $8 for it when this wine would normally go for closer to $20 but a wine that you don't want to drink because it is decrepit is not a bargain at any price.

Raise a glass of a younger version; you'll love it!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Altamura Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 wine review by Billy

Nose:  big juicy berries and cherry, 
Palate: amazing balance and superb structure.  Lovely soft mouth feel, juicy berries, young tobacco
Finish: long sweet cherry tobacco 
Overall: delectable, amazing.  PB, NW and I got together for a wine tasting extravaganza and this bottle was one of the features.  It is a beautiful Napa Cab with deep juicy flavors and soft complexity.  This wine ran us $85 or so.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Espiral Vinho Rose wine review by Billy

Nose: light nose of candied fruit
Palate: slight sprtiz, off dry in the mouth. Decent acid gives a good backbone, body and structure. Light and fruity notes in the mouth.
Finish: lingering and fruit finish is crisp.
Overall: we paid only about 7 dollars for this at a local store.  A great Portuguese rose that is inexpensive and easy going.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Champalou Vouvray 2007 wine review by (PB)

Pale gold with bouquet of sweet powdery stone fruit, with some age on the nose, ripe melon.

Palate--razor sharp acidity on a relaxed front that deceives you into thinking "this is going to be flaccid and then WHAM--tongue cutting acid. Interesting flavors of mixed summer fruit with a note of white pepper that is fleeting. Some other fruit flavors that are really nice but I cannot put a name to them.

I was leery buying this in light of the age but knowing the particular store I also know they stand behind their wines. If it is over the hill, they would gladly refund your money. They assure d me it was fine and they were certainly right.

I paid $8 I think and that is deeply discounted from $12-$16 elsewhere. I will raise more glasses of this Chenin Blanc from the land of Chenin but don't hold onto it; it is peaked right now!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Pine Ridge Chennin Blanc + Viognier 2012 wine review by (PB)

Straw hue with lovely bouquet of sweet pear on opening but changing quickly to citrusy fruit with lemon/lime and grassy notes that smell like S. Blanc.

Palate--Slightly sparkling with a nice beam of lemon grass with racy acidity, off dry, with a minerally touch and finishing with a lasting reminder of fruit cocktail.

I actually reviewed this wine in the 2011 vintage and (NW) of this blog reviewed the 2009. We liked those as well! Check them out and see how the wine has varied over the vintages.

At $11 (although I see it as high as $16) this is a nice white summery wine and I will pair it with grilled pork chops with a Dijon and fruit glaze so raise a glass!

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Trimbach Alsace Pinot Blanc 2008 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Bright apple and lemon on the nose

Medium bodied on the palate

Silky finish of apple and citrus with good acidity


Good, uncomplicated, bright and youthful still, even though the wine is five years old. The bottle was emptied very quickly with some house guests. Trimbach wines from the Alsace region of France are hard to beat for reliability and versatility. Pour this with just about anything and enjoy. The retail price should run around $15. Raise a glass!

Fattoria La Lecciaia Brunello di Montalcino 2004 Wine Review (NW)

Tasting notes:

Black cherry, berries, and aromatic cedar notes on the nose

Full bodied on the palate

Silky tannins with a  long finish of cherry, berries, earthy tobacco, and spices


Beautifully mature, this wine is seamlessly integrated with flavor and texture. It has depth and intensity that unfolds naturally with Tuscan fare such as pasta with wild boar ragu.

I've had a number of vintages of this wine, and it always pleases. Made from 100% Sangiovese, Brunello is one of the great red wines of Italy. Prices have cooled off in recent years and this wine sells for $35-40. Raise a glass!

Bogle Essential Red 2010 wine review by (PB)

Deep garnet hue with bouquet of mixed spicy dark berries, sweet red fruit,touch of vanilla cream.
Palate--Soft structure, solid rich berry flavor with a subtle suggestion of chocolate.

This is a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon,Syrah and Petite Sirah and comes off as more of a haphazard confused hodge podge of fruit. In spite of that, it is made in the popular style and would probably be enjoyed by most people. I just find it a bit overworked, tired and boring. As I scanned some of the other reviews on line it seems I am right about it being liked by most people. So, I'm not being a wine snob, I am being discriminating. When you've drank 1000s of wines you tend to learn a few things about style, repetition and what some call a sense of "place."

This is a wine made to cater to the palate of the vast majority of wine drinkers. That's not a bad thing. I'm just saying that if you want a tasty red wine that goes down easy this is a good wine. If you want a wine of real style and character, this is not it. At $11.50 you decide!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Artezin Zinfandel 2010 wine review by (PB)

Garnet hue with bouquet that is a touch unique for a Zin; the elements are there with a slightly wild berry front and something I can only liken to a wheaty aroma.

Palate--robust structure with a pepper blast up front followed by a solid beam of jammy blackberry with a touch of smoke on the finish.

This is made by the folks at Hess who tend to do most wines they produce well. The finish is lingering as I write this.

I paid $12 for this Mendocino Zinfandel, and honestly I have mixed emotions whether it gets a "raise a glass" or not. On second thought I could really pass on this wine. See my recent review of Cline's California Zin and raise a glass of that!!!

Cline Zinfandel 2011 wine review by (PB)

Black cherry hue with solid spice berry and brambly berry goodness in the bouquet.

Palate--rather intense, full rich berry flavors on a nice structure with a fleeting but delicious finish.

This Sonoma sourced Zinfandel priced at the $10 point is just a reliable example of really good Zinfandel and why Zinfandel is the one grape which America can call its own. This is just good drinking and a really nice example of the grape so raise a glass!