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.