Monday, October 03, 2022

Vignobles Lachetteau Muscadet Sévre Et Maine (Sur Lie) 2020


"Sorry I cannot find a label pic!"

Methode De Champenoise. Pale straw hue with aromas of lemon-lime, green apples, orange, sweet powder at the rim.

Tart first impression is a slightly creamy beam with razor sharp acidity. Everything in the nose is present on the palate. The acidity is lovely and will cut nicely through the richest, fat laden sauces you may encounter.   

This is a favorite of mine which I have had many times running around the $10 price point and is a great value wine. I will be pairing it with root vegetable soup my wife is making but is wonderful with lobster, mussels, and anything really with a hefty, cream sauce and/or BUTTER!  

Geek stuff-- It is made by leaving it sit on the sediment of fermentation meaning all the little dead yeasts that gave their life to the making of your wine. I am a hobbyist who makes his own sparkling apple wine in the Methode De Champenoise meaning that after my initial fermentation, it is bottled with an addition of yeast and sugar. The result is a high powered wine with plenty of sparkle and character. 

Raise a glass of this French delight.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Apothic "Cab" 2020


Eggplant hue with aromas of ripe black berries, and dark plum, with a touch of spice.

Palate--Awkward first impression with strained identity, a bitter mid palate, tasting a bit like a "kit" wine.

My wife has her girl friends over when I go to play golf and they all prefer red wine. I have told her many times that this particular wine passing itself off as "Cabernet Sauvignon" is your basic *"plonk." She still tends to grab it off the shelf even though there are many alternatives for the same price that actually taste like "real" wine. Try Cabernet based wines from South Africa, or Chile (Concha Y Toro, Casa LaPostolle and a myriad of others) and California from proven vintners like Beaulieu, Buena Vista, and too many others to enumerate.

Whatever you do, do NOT taste this wine and tell yourself you don't like Cabernet Sauvignon. You have NEVER had Cabernet Sauvignon if this is your reference point. That's not being a snob, it's objective reality.  So pass this by and try something else. 


*Plonk--nasty, crappy; wine worth pouring down the drain...

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Mark West Pinot Noir (california) 2021

 


Young purple hue with light aromas ash, spices, strawberry fruit above the rim.

Palate--Nice first impression with a gentle structure, full of red spring and summer fruit, cherry and strawberry hard candies, and a finish that lingers for a bit.

Mark West tends to make value wines at the $10 price point and they do Pinot Noir particularly well. Don't expect the complexity of a Burgundy at 10 times the price, but the enjoyment and quaffing experience is quite nice.  Raise a glass!

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Leftie Wine Co. "Red Blend" (Thinking outside the glass!)

 


A tremendously dark hue--so much so that my first thought was this wine is corked! But no, it is just intensely dark with aromas of sweet berry fruit above the rim, loads of cinnamon "red hots" candies,  with ash and savory spices, with more fresh fruit and hard candies.

Palate--pleasant first impression with loads of interesting fruit, yet a nice touch of sweetness and a surprisingly good structure. There is the slightest brush of ripe red raspberry on the rear palate that is both tantalizing and fun AND again, surprising. 

OKAY--True confessions, I intended NOT to like this wine as I have this thing about creativity run amok, fruit wines pretending to even be wine when in my snobby opinion, WINE should be made with GRAPES. Call these fruit "wines" something else. But, BUT, blast it anyway, I really LIKE this wine.  There I said it.  

It is really nice to sip without food, and I wonder how it will pair with my homemade beef stew tonight.  I don't remember what I paid for it but I am going to guess around $9.

At any rate,  shoot, give it a try, I honestly think this will appeal to people who especially insist they do not like red wine etc.  So I am giving it the coveted *"Raise a glass!"  

*I don't know who covets this but hey, it means something to me because I don't endorse crap! :) 

And I just read this at their web site, no wonder I like it, Zinfandel is the base grape!: " Our full-bodied flavor will leave you floating on air. Starting with a fine California Zinfandel, the Red Blend undergoes a secondary fermentation with a squeeze of raspberry juice. The result is a bright wine balanced with notes of dark fruit and toasted oak for a velvety smooth finish."



In case you were wondering...

This blog averages 10-20,000 user hits per month, and I have 1.14 million hits since I began. In the days when I was able to track where the people were from using my blog, they were largely from America and  Europe but I was amazed at the numbers coming in from in some very unexpected places like India, VietNam, Turkey, and others too numerous to list here. 

I have not marketed my blog nor have I monetized it. I have been studying wine for over 45 years and amd a person of humble means which means I drink what most people drink! Yes I do splurge once in a while and I have been treated to some very nice and pricey wines over the years. But they are the exception.

Thanks for your interest and please feel free to leave comments. I am always interested in YOUR experience with wines I have reviewed.

Be blessed! 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Georges Du'Boeuf Beaujolais 2020

 



Pretty intense hue for Gamay with aromas of strawberries, sweet spiced raspberries and spiced apples.

Palate--Lovely Gamay first impression, with gentle but definite Gamay profile of sweet fruit, with structured foundation and a quick but definite finish of cinnamony fruit.

DuBoeuf was an iconic negociant who died a couple years ago. He had the rare talent of combining  quality with value.  This is one example of many! at $10 raise a glass!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Chateau La Commanderie Du Bardelet 2020

Decent garnet and purple hue with aromas of milk chocolate, cherry-berry fruit, and a green beam of unripe fruit.

Palate--Tart first impression, with a steely core watery texture, lip smacking tannins, and short and unremarkable finish.

This Bordeaux blend comes with a gold "medal sticker" on the bottle. Sometimes I wonder if this isn't a marketing ploy to make the uninitiated think a wine tastes good when in fact it doesn't. It does not live up to the profile described on the back label not the "Grand Vin De Bordeaux" designation on the front label which used to mean something.

Granted this wine is young, very young, and granted it was only $9, and possibly this will become something palatable in a couple years but right now it is about to get poured down the drain.  I will let it breathe for a while and I will still try and drink it with dinner giving it every chance I can to come around. 

IF there is a change, I will certainly note it here.

*After a couple hours of breathing it is unchanged.  The bouquet is the best part of this wine.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Chateau Seguin 2020

 


Nice Dark aubergine hue with aromas of plum, fresh dark berries above rim

Palate--Lip smacking tannins, set up the nice berry and plum fruit with a structure that needs some time to into its own. Finishes quickly.

A Trader Joe's bargain at $10 but still too young to be enjoyed at its best.  Gkive it another couple years and it should show pretty well.

 

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Susumaniello Ruggero Di Bardo 2021


A very dark pour with aromas of flowers fresh cut and put in a bouquet so you get that burst of floral wonder. Lovely sweet powder above the rim with red berries and superior sweet and savory spices blending harmoniously together.  This bouquet is aMAZing!

Palate- Sweet first impression with a spray of berry compote, baked bread,  and a sweet finish with a desire to go back right away for another quaff.

This is another Trader Joe's exclusive made from the susumaniello grape. This may be a first for me and a  new varietal unless it has another name in another part of the world. I love this wine and it costs just $10 which is a steal. Don't let the short stubby bottle dissuade you from trying it.  Do DO and you'll be glad you did!

Saturday, September 10, 2022

La Vie En Rose Cinsault Rosé 2020


Exceedingly pale pink hue with an orange twinge and aromas of very light strawberry/raspberry and a hint of citrus with candied notes of baby powder and those orange "circus peanuts" made of who knows what.  LOL. 

Palate-- slight mineral front with nice notes of fruity, raspberry and strawberry juice with a nice balance with a slightly lingering finish of mandarin orange.

This wine is made up of Cinsault which is a wonderful red blending grape in the wine region of S. France. called the Langeudoc-Roussillon.  If you want to find very reliable and very value priced French wines, this region is king in my book! 

I paid around $10 for this Rosé and it is just lovely. I pared it with the sometimes difficult to pair "Indian" foods with all their great spices and heat. This wine tones down the heat and boosts the subtle herbs and spices in Indian cuisine. Worth searching out and raising many glasses! 

Rosa Dell Olmo "Barolo" 2017




Lighter, garnet with a tawny hue typical of the Nebbiolo grape.  Aromas of Savory spiced cherries, cigar ash, a suggestion of black licorice or anise, with sweet candied cherries above the rim.

Palate--Tart, juicy acidity, angular, with an awkward first impression and clunky tannins.  This is not what one would expect from a nice Nebbiolo. Perhaps it needs more time to breathe. 

This is not a good representation of the fantastic Nebbiolo grape. This wine is just awkward, and a bit unpleasant by itself but while I was ready to completely write this one off, I then had it with a tomato based pasta dish and it was quite a different wine paired with food. This is not unusual; some wines, particularly "old world" wines are much better with food than drinking them as a pool side drink or aperitif. But with the change globally from old world style to new world style (wines that are ready to drink on release) food friendly wines like this one are rarer than they once were especially at this lower end of the wine price spectrum. Still, at $25 this is an over-priced table wine.

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel (Contra Costa Co.) 2020

 


Darker magenta hue with aromas touches of root beer, savory spice mixed with sweet spices and wood.

Thick and rich texture with nice flavors of rich, ripedark berries, loads of sweet and savory spices and a hint of cola.

Cline has several iterations of their Zinfandel. They make a decent production level Zin at the $10 price point and then another "Ancient Vines" Zin from Lodi and this is one I from the Costa Contra AVA of California.  This is my first tasting of this particular Zin and at $3-$4 more This is a little more complex and has a terrific silky texture. At $14, raise a glass!

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Famille Perrin Côtes Du Rhône Villages 2019


Very nice visual of rather intensely pigmented hue of light purple with an underlay of deep garnet accompanied by aromas of raspberry/strawberry pie with savory spice with a touch of sweet baking spices.  Lovely!

Palate--Wonderful first impression of well structured fruity, foundation with plentiful bright red berries, [fresh ground pepper, plum] vanilla and a lot more hiding behind a presence that needs to be breathed for a couple hours.

At $14, this is a very nice Rhone wine and I will gladly grab some more. Raise a glass!

Saturday, September 03, 2022

Reserve De Chastelles Tavel 2020

 


The hue of this rosê is a gentle watermelon juice hue with a nuanced amber/orange suggestion.  Aromas are muted with lime, raspberry, and sweet cherry hard candies above the rim,   

Palate- Light on the tongue, a nice line of acidity, and tannic structure with subtle raspberry, and a nice lime rind in the rear palate. This rosê finishes with a very subtle reminder of what you just drank.

Tavel was the only region in the world where rosês were being produced that had structure, character, and a complexity you find only in red wines. But then 20 years ago or so, the world started to wake up to how rosês could be made with care into a quality quaff. Rosês exploded around the globe. I have to say that while I enjoy well made rosês I think this may be the best I have ever had! It has many of the traits of red wine yet maintains the freshness and body of "real" wine instead of overly sweet, simple plonk that abounds.

This is an under $10 wine and is a really nice value so raise a glass!

Friday, September 02, 2022

CK Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2020


Lighter cranberry jelly hue with aromas of cherry berry fruit with touches of fresh cranberries, a touch of cigar ash, and maybe a hint of eucalyptus. (A decent bouquet)

Palate--First impression is a sweet metallic, "hot" presentation, that overwhelms the thin and watery flavors of this wine. Gach!

This is another pretty bad wine wearing the prestigious Mondavi name but it is not the of the order of wine that merits the attention that Robert Mondavi wines did in the past. This wine borders on offensive and is a shame to wear the label "Cabernet Sauvignon" as some people will taste this is determine they hate Cabernet Sauvignon which would be a crying shame. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the greatest of the great wine grapes and are among the most expensive wines in the world. PLEASE do not equate this plonk with honest Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Run from this nastiness and spend a little more to try decent Cabernet. It can be had for $15-$20 and if you have the means to spend more the sky is the limit.  In the arena of $40-$50 you can have "real" Cabernet Sauvignon AND a special experience. 


Monday, August 29, 2022

Woodbridge Chardonnay (California) (NV)

 


Pale straw hue with aromas of lemon pudding, rubbing alcohol, vanilla.

Palate: Lifeless structure, sharp acidirty, bitter mid palate, bitter finish.

Woodbridge is the plonk line of Robert Mondavi wines.  My wife bought a 4 pack of this crap to cook with. Rule #1 for cooking with wine: if you wouldn't drink it don't cook with it! Robert Mondavi is a legend in the world of California wine and is turning over in his grave at the thought of this with his name on it. Pass it by, but an $10 bottle of another California vintner as there are honestly decent Chards out there at that price point.  You don't have to drink poison in the name of frugality.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Chateau Ste. Michelle "Gewurztraminer" 2020 (Columbia Valley)

 


Pale straw hue with aromas of ample pear and apple with a suggesiton of cinnamon, with tropical fruit.

Palate--Disappointing first impression with a somewhat *flabby foundation.  Lime and citrus notes with a lightly bitter finish which is actually kind of interesting.

Gewurztraminer (pronounced, Ge-VURTS-tra-MEEN-er) is the notable grape of Alsace (France/northern Germany) It is one of my favorite white grapes and I used to drink them far and wide.  The Alsatian/German styles are quite different than the domestic style being much "sweeter" but kjore accurately less dry than the European counterparts. It is an under appreciated grape for sure. 

Ste. Michelle has made much better Gewurz's than this one. 

*Flabby is used to describe a wine that is sweet but lacking the acidity to carry the sweetness without it being a bit cloying. This isn't bad at all but as a matter of preference, I like my white wines to make my tongue bleed with a razor like acidity!  

I think I paid maybe $10 for it which is decent enough but if you want a better experience, buy a couple domestics and a couple Alsatians or German Gewurz's and explore the range.  

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Chianti Classico Niccolo Vin Santo 2014

Aged caramel hue with lovely aromas of burnt orange, caramel, fresh tangerine notes

Palate--Wonderfully sweet with the great acid base to showcase such sweetness. Silky texture that is thick and mouthwatering. Lovely flavors of the nicely toasted crust of creme bruleé finishing with orange rind and burnt caramel. The finish just hangs around for a good long time!

Vin Santo is Italy's iconic desert wine and when structurally sound can age quite well as evidenced by this 8 year old white (actually amber) wine. It is not cheap but it is a delightful splurge to finish off that great dinner served with almond biscotti. At $25 for a 375ml btl it is a treat but a little goes a long way!  Raise a glass!

*Reviewed previously for comparison of consistency of review. Check it out!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Epicuro Nero D'Avola 2020

 


Bright garnet hue with aromas of light spiced cherry juice and baking spices perhaps. Above the rim there is just a fresh bright red cherry bouquet.

Palate--Nice red fruit flavors bursting on a nicely acidic foundation with some savory spice and cinnamon.

This is a $6 Trader Joe's offering that never disappoints.  Nero D'Avola (pronounced "Nero daVO la." Sicilie's signature grape is always fairly stragihte forward, bright, fruity and a decent food wine of light to medium bodied cheeses, tomato based sauce pastas and pizza. 

At this price you just can't lose so raise a glass!

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Tournon "Mathilda" Shiraz 2017


Nearly black hue with lovely aromas of blackberry pie with Summery sweet fruit and ...

Palate--A bit thin on the palate, loads of black pepper, dark fruit, a sharp line of acidity down the middle, lavish finish with lingering berry fruit pie.

This is a distinctive styled Shiraz from Victoria "Down Undah" with vibrant presence and intriguing mid palate teasers. It is evolving as it breathes and is a wine that should be steat and ready to enjoy NOW and well into the future.  Bye several bottles; lay some down, and enjoy the rest NOW!  Raise a glass

Frei Bros. Chardonnay (Russian River Valley) 2019


Straw hue with aromas of lemon lime, vanilla to butterscotch notes

Palate--Off dry presentation with nice acidity, citrus base, vanilla pudding, tropical fruit melange.

This is a lovely, creamy style, Chardonnay from the Sonoma, Russian River AVA (American Viticultural Area) which boast great Chardonnays from table wine level to the best of the best.  This is at the $15 price point and it is lovely! 

Chill it down in this hot summer time and serve it by itself or pair it with lobster, clams, seafood, or all by itself and raise a glass!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Castle Rock Pinot Noir (Mendocino) 2019

 


Lighter water melon juice-like hue with aromas of sweet fragrant honeysuckle, and fresh squeezed berry juice with a touch of vanilla and baking spice. 

Palate--lovely, gentle, sophisticated on the palate with tasty strawberry and tart raspberry.

Castle Rock is one of those reliable "value wine" makers that seem to always rise to the occasion giving us lovely treats for a VERY reasonable price.  I am pairing this with stir fry and the off dry sweetness will be a foil to the soy sauce base and should be great.  At $9 or so, raise a glass!!! 

Gnarly Head Zinfandel (Lodi) 2020


Nice ruby/garnet hue with aromas of spicy jammy blackberries, fresh sweet berry fruit above the rim    

Palate-- Very nice mouth feel on first impression with loads of classic Zinfandel and why it is my favorite all around red wine. It is silky, and loaded with all kinds of ripe, dark and red berries, with a punch of savory, and slight blueberry? cranberry finish.

The wine is too warm because we have been in a unique heat wave for the extreme northeastern USA. Most of my cellar is cool enough in the my basement but the heat is getting my cellar temp. up to 85. Wine served too warm--a routine for run of the mill restaurants--so do not hesitate to ask to have your bottle of red wine put in a bucket of ice.  A wine too warm reveals less than favorable traits if there are any, so a $10-$25 bottle of wine will benefit by a 1/2 or so in the fridge before serving. 

The finish on this bottle of Zin is still lingering after several minutes and for a $9 bottle of Zin all you can say is "raise a glass!"


Friday, July 22, 2022

90+ Cellars Classic Series Cotes Du Rhone 2020 Lot 162

 


Medium bodied hue with big aromas of dried pie cherries, sweet hard candies with a slight touch of anise.

Palate-Nice first impression with big bold fruit, a back drop of ripe, dark red berries with a strong acidity. It finishes before it has hardly begun.

This is a classic blend for the Cotes Du Rhone of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah. The Grenache takes center stage here with the vibrant cherry back bone, and loads of red berries with a deep flavor profile and lovely, "I want more" temptation. 

Another Trader Joe's exclusive (I think) which sells for under $9. It is worth the money and then some so raise a glass.

Monday, July 18, 2022

Villa Cerrina Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2020

*Note--the label pictured is different than the actual. (apologies) 

Lovely ruby hue with aromas of warm cherry pie, above the rim, cigar ash, sweet red fruit, a hint of cinnamon and sweet spice, with a touch of savory.

Palate-- a relaxed foundation with an enticing fruity profile with all kinds of red berries and baking spices.  Finishes quickly.

This is a "Trader Joe's" offering and at $6 it is silly how good a value it is. Pair it with a myriad of foods, meats, and cheeses and raise a glass!

Friday, July 15, 2022

Duckhorn "Decoy" Cabernet Sauvignon (California)

Nice intense black cherry hue with a deep dense jammy aromas of dark plum, blackberry pie, hint of mint or cedar.

Palate--First impression is a lovely textured body, with full boy presence, silky tannins, lovely quality fruit with a lingering berry pie finish which just hangs on and on.

When my brother said he had a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that I was welcome to as he was leaving for a couple day I was excited when I saw the Decoy label.  But then I saw "California" and my excitement went into the tank. 

As a "sourced" wine, meaning the grapes only had to come from somewhere in California which often means some grower's excess that he couldn't dump anywhere else. BUT--I also knew the character of the folks at Duckhorn and knew they wouldn't make crap.

Boy was I surprised on my initial slurp. This is a solid Cabernet expertly made and for the price of around $20, a value wine!  I happened to pair it with Chicago deep dish pizza as I was visiting my 93 yo mother on her birthday. A really nice surprise, well done and left me sad when the bottle was empty.  Look for it and try it and raise a glass!!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

CARE Tinto Sobre Lias 2018

For some reason I cannot load a label image... Sorry

This value Grenache/Syrah blend from Spain is a lovely red/black berry bouquet with sweet spices and cinnamon abounding with fruit galore with a candided nose deep in the bowl like hard mixed fruit candies at a kid's candy store.

Palate--Brimming with lovely fruit, a stren structure that is lively and vibrant, with overwhelming fruity goodness through out. Finishes quickly. 

This is my second bottle of this wine and I loved the first. I think this one is even more vibrant than the previous reviewed bottle. I believe I paid around $12 for this if not less and it is a super value so raise a glass!


Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Charles Shaw Chardonnay 2003 (A shocking review!)

 

 Amber hue like a rich aged Sauternes with a nose of butterscotch and caramel yet with a beam of almost fresh, tangerine and a ridiculous hint of mint at the base.

Palate- This reminds me of some expensive French dessert wine.  First impression is tart but not as in a totally destroyed wine at all. A lively mid palate with some remnants still of fresh fruit although fresh isn't exactly the right word. The finish is of burnt caramel again just like in the bouquet. This would actually pair with a variety of desserts. 

OK the "get a grip factor: This is famously "$2 Buck Chuck which now runs around $3-4. This 19 year old cheap wine was stashed away in some basement where temperature differences were negligible. Most people think that wine is better with age but the truth is very FEW wines actually are made to age for long periods of time. A lot depends on the chemistry of the juice, the acid content, the tannins, and a host of other factors. One thing is certain, an American Chardonnay, a CHEAP America Chardonnay better be drunk on release and may hold for a couple of years to 3 or 4 years. 

So how do I explain this anomaly? I don't try.  I have been tasting wines for 40 years plus and I know bad wine, corked wine, poorly made wine good wine and great wine. This is my third experience in all those years with cheap, table wine actually aging for a couple decades.  It truly was a great experience!

Sunday, July 03, 2022

Rosa Dell Olno Barbera D'Asti 2020


Lighter black cherry hue with aromas of light cinnamon, sweet cherry pie, 

Palate--Supple mouth feel with spicy fruit and lighter acidity but enough to give a good lip smacking profile. 

Has a quick finish but for the pittance this wine cost--around $8--ya really can't go wrong.  Pizza, lighter cheeses, antipasto all will work with this so raise a glass!

Saturday, July 02, 2022

Cecelia Beretta Valpolicella *Ripasso (Superiore) 2019



Nice dark ruby with aromas of cherry, sweet cherry berry pie, with slightly sweet baking spice and a touch of savory.

Palate--Juicy, lovely bright red fruit flavors that tingle the tongue. 

This is a lovely, sprightly red wine for all kinds of lighter fare are just by itself slightly chilled if you're going to drink it as an aperitif.  It is well structured and absolutely prime drinking right now young though it is!   At $12 it's time to raise a glass.

*Ripasso is not a grape but a method of making this wine. In brief--Amarone, another Valpolicella wine, is made with grapes which are left on the vine longer to sweeten further and then dried through the winter. These grapes are then pressed and made into what is a beautiful and rather expensive wine. The grapes which had been used for the Amarone are repurposed and used in making the "Ripasso," wines which are considerably less expensive.

Friday, June 24, 2022

S. Niccolo Vin Santo Del Chianti Classico 2014

 


Opaque, orange/brown hue with aromas of sherry, burnt caramel, orange, and spruce, 

Palate--Thickish, ultra sweet, dill pickle, silky texture, acidity to carry the sweetness without being  cloying, and basically all the aromas in the bouquet transfer to the palate. The finish continues for what seems an eternity. 

I was skeptical of this wine having paid $25  for the 375 ml thinking it would be shot.  But it is absolutely lovely! I had a Chateau D' Y'Quem years ago and it cost $100 for 375 ml and it wasn't nearly this good. It has been minutes past and the finish is still vibrant and luxurious. Pairing it with almond biscotti.  

I paid $25 for the half bottle and it is worth that and much more so so raise a glass!

Louis Bernard Cote Du Rhone Villages 2018

 


A very nice and pretty intense deep black cherry hue with aromas of black cherry, fresh sweet ripe berries, with gentle spices and a hint of cocoa.

Palate--Intensely deep flavors of fully matured berries, enough tannins to carry this along for a few years with enticing flavorful berry compote, baking spices and a fairly quick finish.

Raise a glass!  


Thursday, June 23, 2022

Mezzacrona "Dinotte" (Red Blend) 2018

 


Pours very purply with aromas of subtle beef and a touch of BBQ smoke, with fresher fruit dressed with a spicy valance. 

Palate--Flavorful first impression with a steely front, silky texture, spiced thanksgiving apples, blueberry cream mid palate and a food friendly acidic beam.

I was predisposed to no liking this wine simply because I bought one bottle on close out for $7. I am pleasantly surprised! I really like this wine and plan to grab several more bottles when I am through the state where I bought it.  

This is a nice food wine and pleasant enough to drink on its own so "Don't judge a bottle by it's price...!"  Raise a glass!

Monday, June 20, 2022

Simi Merlot 2019

 


Young garnet hue with aromas of ripe black berry above the rim with ash, spices, 

Palate--Really steely first impression with chunky fruit and tannins, black pepper, blackberries, a slight vanilla edge at the finish as well as puckery, lip smacking ending.

Simi has great memories for me in my early years of wine exploration some 45 years ago. It was one of those Sonoma wineries I cut my teeth on. I don't often see them around my neck of the woods in Maine but I grabbed this one from a NH store on a recent trip. This wine will benefit from another 2 years when it will be a great value at the $12 price point I found it at but it runs around $20.  Raise a glass!

Sunday, June 19, 2022

La Burgondie Cremant De Bourgoyne

Pale straw hue with very light touch of pink.  Aromas of sweet red apples, and vanilla cream.

Palate--Nice pin-prick bubbles, with first impression of apple juice, fresh white grape juice at the edge.

This sparkler from France is distributed by Trader Joe's and will run you a very reasonable $8 if that. 

Chill it down well and enjoy it by itself, with lighter cheeses, or as I am doing, with Hooter's recipe buffalo wings!  Not an easy pairing but it works.  Raise a glass!!!

Robert Dubuisson Beaujolais-Villages 2018



Classic light strawberry hued wine with aromas of nuanced sweet raspberry juice, with a touch of strawberry and light baking spices with a hint of cinnamon.

Palate-- Classic Gamay profile with surprisingly bold acidic foundation and a quick finish that is clean and crisp.

What's the difference between Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages and Beaujolais Cru? 

Outside of price, the quality scale begins at Beaujolais--the French wine region growing Gamay grapes; then increases in both quality and price as you move to "Villages" which means the grapes were selected from a more narrow region, and climaxes with "Cru" which are harvests from 1 of ten specified regions within Beaujolais from which the grapes are selected each with there own unique flavor profile.

In a class all by itself is Beaujolais Nouveau which is again the Gamay grape but the wines are made to be released on the 3rd Wednesday of November all over the world. They are simple, straight forward, lovely guzzling kind of wines which enjoy an accompanying celebration in France on that Wednesday of release. In America they tend to run around $10-12. They are fruity, easy to drink and are made to be drunk within 12 months of release! Put it on your calendar and look for that day of release in your local wine retailer!

Friday, June 17, 2022

Wente Cabernet Sauvignon "Southern Hills" 2019


Purple hue with youthful notes of spicy berry, cigar ash, charcoal, sweet bight red fruit above the rim, subtle cola note.

Palate- Sweet fruity frame work with gentle tannins, steely front, loads of nice balanced red berries with a decent finish of all that's there.

Wente was one of the vineyards I cut my teeth on back in the mid 70's when I became infatuated with all things enological. I had a handful of their whites mostly. This is a round wine, with years to go before it is in full expression but the wonder today is how drinkable these wines can be on release. I think I paid around $13 which is a steal.  Raise a glass!

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Giacondi "Vino D'italia" (NV)


Smoky garnet with bricking at the rim. Aromas of very slight cherry with almost no bouquet. This is a geriatric wine heading for the grave!

Palate--In the mouth it is a touch sour with rustic flavors of burnt cherry and some lively hints of bright fruit. It is drinkable but you must have pretty low standards.  :) 

I bought this several years ago because it was a large format and it was really CHEAP. I decided to open it and see if it might work for a sangria. By the way, (NV) means it is a non-vintage wine meaning it was made from a hodge-podge of juice from anywhere in Italy. To be honest, this is the kind of wine that could be served at your local--especially touristy--area of Italy at a casual restaurant. The best quality wine is generally exported to world markets.

I don't know how much I paid for this but I know it was probably around $10 for a magnum (1.5L) I did not expect it to be drinkable so that is the up side. It just may be ok as a base for Sangria so we shall see.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Castle Rock Merlot (Paso Robles) 2018

A big fruity bouquet with loads of cherry, and red berries, vanilla cream bon bons, Chinese five spice

Palate--Rich mouth filling flavors, velvety mouth feel, lovely structure, juicy cherry/berry flavors, a subtle touch of wood.

Found this on sale for $8.50 so I grabbed it as Castle Rock is one of the emerging wineries joining some of my perennial faves going back 40 years. One of those wineries is Sebastiani who just makes solid wines regardless of what they are about.  Castle Rock is impressing more and more every year as they produce consumer friendly wines that don't require a home equity loan. With the absurd economy brought on by absurd politicians, tanking daily, it is great to find a reliable maker who just makes good, affordable wine.  


Well done Castle Rock--RAISE A GLASS!

Thursday, June 02, 2022

Robert Mondavi Merlot (Private Selection) 2019

Purple with garnet twinge and aromas of confused fruit, subdued spices trying to find a place and sweet cherry bonbons

Palate--Sweet first impression, with potable cherry berry flavors and a quick, unremarkable finish.

This California sourced "Merlot" is a good example of what happens when you depart from your passion and gifting and pursue the monetary necessities to survive as a wine company in the day of gigantic conglomerates buying up the independent wineries.

The late Robert Mondavi was an icon and patriarch of California wine making putting California on to the world stage. Family infighting, and selling out for mundane table wines is what average America tends to drink muting the artistry of the founder's wines.  I miss the perfectionism of Mr. Mondavi and on a totally coincidental visit to Napa Valley one year, I had the fantastic joy of beholding Robert Mondavi in his vineyard celebrating his 83rd birthday. Talk about the luck of the draw.  At any rate, do not judge Mondavi wines on the basis of their production line plonk. Spend a few more bucks and drink to the memory of the Patron Saint of Napa Valley.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Hook & Ladder Pinot Noir (Russian River) 2018


Ruby hue with aromas of candied red berry fruit, a touch of strawberry, and vanilla.

Palate--Light bodied with lovely pinot grace with lots of strawberry, vanilla nuances, a minute touch of oak in the finish.

I am not sure what this cost because it was a gift.  It is rather classic Sonoma Pinot, drinks well made, and easy as a lovely aperitif or with lighter fare. Well made and enjoyable so raise a glass.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Benziger Cabernet Sauvignon 2018



On opening there is a lovely sweet scent of summer berries, in the bowl there is unique, spruce aroma with ripe spicy currant, black berry, ash, and forest floor enticements. 

Palate--mouth filling flavors with rustic woodsy tastes, with intense savory spiced dark berries, spiced plum, and more.

I reviewed this wine not long ago and it was nothing like this. Could be "bottle variation" or more likely my palate was off with a sub clinical cold or something in the back ground.

Sonoma cabernets tend to be nice value Cabs without the "Napa markup." This lingers for a good while and begs for another drink.  At the $18 price point it is a nice value and if you find for less as I did, grab a couple and lay one down. You'll be rewarded again in a couple years. So raise a glass. 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Santa Ema Merlot (Reserva) 2018

 



This Chilean Merlot (Maipo Valley) is a med. purple to garnet with aromas of sweet fruit reminding me of ruby red grapefruit, with chocolate nuances, and a very floral edge.

Palate--Milk chocolate at the beginning, with minerally, spicy mid palate, and loads of more fresh berries at the end. The wine finishes with a nice, textured ending and some resilient fruit.

This is remarkably different in style from the Merlots I am used to. It is lush, structurally sound, and I will pair it with a pasta with tomato based sauce. 

I paid $8 for what is normally a $16 wine. It is tasty, has a nice "zippy" quality to it which makes your tongue come alive so raise a glass!


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

North by Northwest Red Blend (Columbia Valley) 2017

 

Lighter garnet hue with first aromas off the glass of fresh, bright red berries; gentle bouquet of enticing fresh berry basket with gentle sweet spices on the edge. 

Palate--Nice first impression loaded with a nicely balanced structure and balanced acidic foundation, really nice melange of berries that finishes with a tang of spice and more lingering fresh berry fruit.

I paid $9 for this $17 blend and it drinks really easily and makes you want more.  Pairing it with grilled marinated short cut steak...  Raise a glass!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Folie à Deux (Dry Creek Valley (Sonoma) 2017




Medium ruby hue with a horrid bouquet of wet cardboard, classic of a "corked" wine. So disappointing... 
I rarely run into corked wines but when you do, there's money down the drain...

Palate--underneath all the yucky bouquet is some decent fruit, bright red with loads of rich spices. It finishes however with more wet cardboard. 

Sonoma is my favorite AVA for Zins and Dry Creek Valley is a fave of my fave. Despite the crappy bouquet I am going to drink this with  my bacon and onion tart "pizza." With heating oil at over $6 a gal and gasoline at nearly $5 a gallon, I need something to take the edge off the evil being perpetrated against the world. Raise several glasses.......................

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Josh --Bourbon Barrel Aged--Zinfandel (Reserve) 2020

Deep Purple hue with aromas of Wonderful "All Spice" on the first swirl, subdued Zinfandel fruit, maybe a touch of cinnamon and clove.

Palate--Nice first impression with boat loads of ripe dark berries, and big steely front that almost eclipses the fruit. Mouth Watering acidity, and slightly chunky tannins with a finish that hangs on.

I am not sure how I think about the bourbon barrel aging but let's face it, all wine is manipulated and so whether it is an old bourbon barrel or French Oak, the point is to impart complexities to the finished product. I have only ever had a cheap cabernet aged in a bourbon barrel and I think it enhanced the particular wine. 

Around $18 for this wine and I am glad I had a chance to give a whirl. It's a bit steep for the bottle but then again it's all relative.  Raise a glass.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Nemea 2005

 


Above the rim there is a faint lingering memory of the red fruit from which it came. More prominent is the classic aroma of old red wine which to me smells like a slightly burn caramel. I like the bouquet!

Palate--In the mouth, it is sharply acidic and sour. I did not want to swallow it and emitted it into my yard. The finish was the best part of the quaff and no pun intended. 

From what I am tasting, this was probably a pretty decent, if not very decent wine from the ancient lands of Greece. The person who gave it to me had deep Greek connections and obtained it on it one of his trips and just left it to age. 

This Greek wine was given to me having found it stashed away at her home forgotten about. I did not have any expectations for this old Greek wine except to dump it. But every wine experience increases one's knowledge of the whole and so I was eager to see if it was even palatable.

Dark magenta with significant "bricking" at the rim.  (Bricking is what happens as a red wine ages and turns from purple, to red to a brownish red to brown.)  Bricking does not necessarily mean the wine is completely shot.

What surprised me was as I opened this bottle there were still faint remnants of "fruit" in the bouquet and there were no real "off putting" aromas; only what you would expect from an old wine. Optimistic, I sipped and was making a face at the intense sourness of the wine but it was not however vinegar...yet. Again there was a very faint taste of red berries but it was subtle!  As I spit the wine out, the most pleasant aspect of this geriatric creation was the finish. It actually had a not horrible ending. 

These are great learning experiences that cannot be duplicated. I would love to try a younger version of this bottle.  If it was even drinkable at this age, I say it's probably worth "raising a glass!" OPA!

The Burn "Borne of Fire" 2018

 


Very nice dark almost black hue with aromas of tar, slight *band aid odor, Black berry and black raspberry, savory spice.

Palate--First impression shows big fruit, dark berries, tight tannins, more tar, and more dark fruit.

This wine needs time to breath and I will update when it has. 

I may give this wine another try, but for now it is a "pass it by."

The Burn is a new area of the Columbia Valley **AVA and this is my first experience of this wine and this area. 

*Brettanomyces is a yeast that can taint an otherwise good wine. It presents carrying aromas like band-aids, old gym shoes or sweaty gym socks... Not what you want in your wine experience. This mat be a one off and it isn't very strong. But given the whole profile of this Columbia Valley wine I will pass on it. (And I tend to like Washington state cabs)

** An AVA is an American Viticultural Area legally established for which I wine made from grapes from any particular AVA has the pleasure of "advertising" where their grapes from. To be designated an AVA the fruit from the land and/or the land must meet certain standards set for the particular AVA.

Monday, May 09, 2022

Pianoro Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2019

 


The bouquet of this lovely quaff is truly seductive, elegant and understated yet definite! Lovely aromas of ripe red berries that have an almost floral edge to them, with violets, and spicing that is subtle with finesse. The hue is a lovely dark garnet.

Palate--Mouth filling flavors, silky tannins and structure, mid palate gives rise to big, ripe berries with a lip smacking acidity that comes in after a moment.  It finishes a bit abruptly but reminds you of what was there and what awaits another sip.

This is a brilliant wine; delicious, well made, tantalizing, and a great food wine or by itself.  I am paring this tonight with grilled bourbon marinated steak tips. As the market continues to tank, I put my trust in the Lord and my lips to the glass which I will raise tonight. 

My wife grabbed this for me as a surprise and just left it in my cellar. The prices I am finding on line cannot be real.  They are showing something around $5.00.  IF that is anywhere near right; buy a case nad raise many glasses!

Saturday, May 07, 2022

Vignobles Lachetteau Vouvray 2020


Pale straw hue with aromas of light citrus, talcum powder, sweet vanilla curd, Chinese five spice

Palate--Big burst of fruit out of the gate with a decent foundation of acid to carry the lovely fruity, green melon, green apple and finishes with a really nice lasting pear nuance.

I love Vouvray!  Chenin Blanc is the grape of the Loire Valley and it has long overcome the grape's cheap, jug wine reputation coming into its own about 25 years ago. I adore it.

At $12 and cheaper at Trader Joes, it is a must buy. Chill it down on that hot summer day pool side and enjoy it to the max! Raise a glass!

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

Castle Rock Pinot Noir 2020 (Mendocino)


Lovely Pinot hue with aromas of light strawberry, cranberry,  baking spices in the bowl, and candied cherry

Palate--Nice first impression with a nicely structured foundation rich in wonderful beams of various red fruits, lovely spices, and a lingering finish of a slight woodiness. 


Castle Rock makes super valuer Pinot Noirs that everyone can afford. They make numerous appellations all around the $10-$15 price point and win plenty of medals for their artistry. 

Pairing this tonight with chicken stir fry but will pair with many things and cheeses or all by itself so raise  a glass. 

Monday, May 02, 2022

Masciarelli Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2018



Bright young berry fruit immediately on opening, with simply cherry loveliness, above the rim and the lightest touches of cinnamon in the bowl of the glass. The hue is a purple youthfulness edging slowly to a garnet edge.

Palate--First impression is a big steely front palate with lovely sweet, acidic foundation full of lip smacking tannins and glorious fruitiness.

This previously reviewed wine is a treat and special creation at the $14 price point. Give it an hour or more to open up and the lip smacking tannins will turn relaxed! 

Pair it with cheeses of all stripes, Italian spiced food, with tomato based sauces and pretty much everything else but Asian and Indian food. I will be pairing this with grilled short cut steak.

I love this wine and will buy it again in a heart beat so "raise a glass!"

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Excelsior Syrah 2020

 


First impression is that the hue of this pour is not the classic inky black Syrahs of other countries.  But this is S. Africa so let's see...  Aromas are big with lats of dark fruit and a unique aroma of some kind of stinky cheese and spruce... Interesting...

Palate--in the mouth this is a bit tart, with a solid back bone of acid with bold black berry flavors but over shadowed by the other "stuff" going on... This wine will have to breathe for a while before a fair evaluation can be given.

After some air time: It settles down and has a lightly spicy, dark fruit presentation.

Excelsior piqued my interest about 2 decades ago with its very inexpensive cabernet Sauvignon ($7) but after a few years their Cabs develop[ed an awkward note of bandaids in bouquet usually indicative of what is a mold contaminant called Brettanomyces. But after several years of it continuing, I thought perhaps it was "terroir" instead of a contaminant  in which case I didn't want that experience. This is the first Excelsior I have had in a long long time.

Bottom line--$9 is not a lot of money but there are so many other Syrahs and Sirahs (spelling depends on the country) out there I would pass on this!

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Umani Ronchi Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2019



This previously reviewed wine has a gorgeous cranberry jelly hue with big aromas of sweet red berry and cherry fruit rising from the glass before you even get near it. Nearly floral hints of spring time daffodils and savory spice on top of sweet spices.

Palate--Classic acidic structure with lovely mouthful of cherry berry fruit with lip smacking tannins, and a lovely cherry finish at the rear palate.
At $10 I had to grab another bottle of this great pizza wine, Italian sausage, any pasta with tomato sauces and garlic and s host of other great dinner suggestions. 
I loved this before a couple months back and I love it again so raise a glass!