Saturday, December 31, 2022

Fonseca Bin 27 Reserve Porto

 


Intense nearly black purple hue with aromas of something I have no descriptor for; it's something like dark berries and plum and bing cherries all rolled into one. Sweet cherry berry dark chocolate candy cordials with sweet baking spices and spiced apples you have at Thanksgiving.

Palate--Textured like thick silk, glorious ultra pure sweet fruit of ripe black plum, and a lingering finish that goes on and on and on. Marvelous! 

I don't remember what I paid for this but I believe it was only around $16 and what a great find!

Pairing it with Christmas plum pudding!  Raise a glass for sure!!!

Lincourt Sta. Rita Hills Chardonnay 2013


Light golden hue with aromas of perfumy honeysuckle, orange, and numerous tropical fruits with a hint of citrus. Lovely!

Palate--Mouth filling flavors of all the things in the bouquet with a great razor sharp acidity on an ultra fruity foundation.  Finishes a little quick but reminds you to go back for more!

This has never seen oak and is absolutely lovely even at this late age for what would be a production level table wine. A 10 year old chard at the price point I paid is absurd, but then I find that most assessments of how long a wine will last are woefully lacking. 

I have had this for a few years and I think I paid around $10 for it though I see it on line closer to $15. This is a serious Chard, well made and a ridiculous value.

I am pairing it on this new year's eve with a seafood chowder consisting of Maine Lobster, Maine scallops, and wild caught Gulf shrimp. If you can find this, it has years left on it so raise a glass and remember that for all the crazies in the world today, there is a Creator who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent and is utterly in control. His ways are not our ways He tells us in the book of Isaiah, so raise a glass! 

  

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Norton D.O.C. Malbec 2017 Mendoza

 


Pours like a two year old wine with a very young hue with residual purple on a garnet frame.  Aromas of nice black berry and red berry bouquet with yeasty notes. 

Palate--A tart first impression with a subdued mid palate with light berry flavors on an awkward foundation finishing quickly.

What is DOC on the title line?  It tells you a lot about the wine in general. DOC is the lowest categorization that many wines can have depending on the laws of any given area of the world.  They all differ. What this means here is that all the fruit in this wine are sourced from all over the Mendoza region of Argentina. That isn't "necessarily" bad it just means that the wine is table wine quality meaning everyday economical drinking for the most part.  

I paid $9 for this bottle which usually runs around $14. It is not up to the standard of Norton which is generally well made, economical wines.  This one is a pass!  But Norton is a solid maker so try another!

New Years Eve means "Champagne?"

 


Let's get one thing straight, There are a zillion "sparkling" wines but only ones made from the grapes of Champagne, France are actually "Champagne!" All others from all over the world are just "Sparkling wines."

Now about New Years Eve and popping those corks: Call them bubbly, or sparklers, but NOT Champagne.

Okay now that, that is out of the way, what about that big celebratory POP that people love to do when they open their gassy wines? First of all, the proper way to open a sparkling wine of any type is to place a towel over the cork and slowly work the cork out of the wine bottle until it is nearly to the point where it will POP.  Take your dominant hand while still holding the towel over the wine bottle and ever so gently maintain pressure DOWN on the cork while at the same time you are twisting the very secured cork under the towel back and forth and the goal is to actually release the gas with a nearly silent psssst! THAT is how you remove a cork.

Now this is very practical! You may not care opening that $10 bottle of bubbly and losing half the bottle of wine to the floor as it explodes shooting your wine into oblivion. But when you have a more pricey of bottle of bubbly or a $50+ bottle of Champagne, and you waste half a bottle in a showy explosion you may think differently about that POP.

There is one exception to this sound advice and that is if your bubbly is "Barefoot Bubbly" by all means shoot it all over the place but in your mouth...  Raise a glass!

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

William Hill Chardonnay (North Coast) 2019

 


Crystalline light golden hue with aromas of tropical fruit salad with a beam of citrus, and stone fruit

Palate--Tropical fruit galore with a buttery mid-palate, and finishing with still more fruit and more! Structurally sound with creamy mouthfeel and a long lasting finish that goes on and on and on! 

This is a really super Chardonnay around the $15 price point and it is a BARGAIN! It is super fruity making it wonderful as an aperitif but because it is dry even though it tastes sweet, it will do right by my menu for this evening.

I will be pairing it with bacon fat sauteed Maine scallops, and a rice pilaf.  This is a pretty easy to find wine so GRAB one and try it out.  Really nice--but I think I said that already... Raise a glass!



ILauri "Le Pinciaie" Montepulciano D'Abruzzo (Riserva) 2017


Pronounced ruby hue with aromas of raspberry, and gentle spices on the rim. 

Palate--Tart first impression with mineral beam, razor sharp acidity, austere first impression and this after breathing it for several hours. It finishes with a nice Montepulciano reminder and lingers for a bit.

*I had a glass breathing on the counter for 3 hours and that is the above review. I just re-reviewed it with a fresh pour from the bottle and it sports a bit of cherry, with the acidity toning down a touch with a richer beam of varietal flavor mid palate.  This is odd in my many decades of experience. *I am thinking this will be a much better wine with food when I pair it in a while with grilled Prime sirloin steaks, double baked potatoes, and home grown green beans. 

*It was indeed very nice with my grilled sirloins accentuating the grilled char, while toning down the bitterness of said char. 

$20 seems to be the price point on this wine.  Raise a glass!


 

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Famille Perrin Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2019


Brilliant ruby hue with a bouquet of bread yeast, bright summer black cherries, cocoa, chocolate covered cherries, and savory spice.

Palate--Big bold, fruit with lots of complexity in this very nice GSM blend. Plenty of savory red berry relish, but has a surprisingly quick finish. 

This is a really nice Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre (GSM) blend for the money. I may have paid $12 for it and it's a winner at that price!  If you find it, grab it and buy several. This will be around for several more years and only getting better. Raise a glass! 

Friday, December 16, 2022

Shannon Ridge "Buck Shack" Zinfandel 2018 (Bourbon Barrel aged)


Gorgeous dark garnet/cranberry jelly hue with aromas of subdued dark berry fruit with a very gentle spice on the edge.  

Palate--Lots of fruit upfront, with a steely edge, bold, big mid palate with tons of blackberry jam and a finish that is fleeting.  (This is upon opening and needs some time to open up. *Check back...)

*After an hour: Loads of dark berry fruit, a beam of something like dark baker's chocolate, and still a quick finish.

I reviewed this (a different bottle) at the beginning of the month not realizing I had done so. The aging mind is frustrating... LOL! This Zin, with fruit from Lake County is supercharged with an alcohol level of 15.9% which is crazy over the top! 

After I reviewed this I checked on line for a price point since I paid $7 for it. It is listed at $25-$35 which is nuts! And while I respect the folks at the Wine Enthusiast I take great exception at their 92 point rating.  I would give it an 88 which is vastly different than their score. 

At any rate, I would not want to pay anywhere near the "list price" for this wine but at $7 I love it! 

I am pairing it with a French onion tart made with loads of smoky bacon, cottage cheese and sour cream on  pizza dough.  One of my wife's favorites. At that price raise a glass!

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Dry Creek Chenin Blanc (Clarksburg) 2021



Light gold hue with aromas of fresh apricot nectar, stone fruit, vanilla pudding.

Palate--A bit weak on first impression with a lack luster structure although the acidity does seem to escalate as you swish. Off dry with a melange of tropical fruit flavors but the structure is wanting in this Chenin.  *Unusual considering the people who made it...

*24 hours later, A slightly creamy touch in texture, loads of fruit and vanilla and a lingering finish.  In my arena of preference, I love my whites to have a razor sharp acidity. This one is not but it is also not flawed or poorly made. In the end it comes around and is a lovely Chenin--another really under-rated wine grape.

I don't recall what I paid for it but I expect it was around $13 and you haven't tried many or any Chenin Blancs, you are depriving yourself of a great wine that pairs well with Asian, Indian, cuisine.  Raise a glass!

Monday, December 12, 2022

Holiday cheer: Some thoughts... (Highly abbreviated) a REPOST!



Do you plan ahead for your festive meals, celebrations and get-togethers with respect to what beverages to serve or do you just wing it?

If you are more the planner, remember this when pairing wine with meals, appetizers or whatever. Instead of thinking red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat and seafood, and what about vegetarian or those cheesy appetizers?

Change your focus from the old red with red, white with white etc. Instead think more of the sauces being served with the courses, and the spices being prominent with them all.  For example if you were serving an asian type of chicken dish, your typical white wine would be horrid. Asian spices need something sweet to offset the heat and intensity of the typical spices. If you don't, the Chardonnay will taste horrible and the meal will as well. Asian spices must be served with sweeter or "off-dry" varietals and blends like Reisling, or Gewurztraminer. These will mitigate the "heat" of asian and even mexican type spices. The possibilities are many.

Vegetarian dishes do well with a variety of wines, both read and white as well as sparkling wines. Again, think in terms of what spices will be prominent in your vegetarian dishes. And don't overlook the resurgence of rosés from all over the world.

Bleu cheese with those appetizers? Another sweeter wine will offset the saltiness of the bleu cheese and make both taste wonderful. 

Finally--sparkling wines from all over the world are inexpensive and pair well with 
"almost" anything. Just avoid the highly advertised wines like "Barefoot" and a myriad bunch you only see advertised this time of year. For just $2-5 more a bottle you can get "real" wine that has some character and will enhance your hard preparations.

If in doubt, shoot me a question!

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Confidencial Reserva 2018

 


Slightly brickish red with aromas of sweet cherry berry above the rim a touch of coca in the glass with loads of spicy goodness.

Palate--presents with a slightly steely front and a subdued structure which at first seems lackluster but emerges with breathing. Solid cherry berry fruit on the tongue with a nicely balanced structure. Finishes fairly quick but leaves a desire for another sip.

This Portuguese creation is rather nice and agreeable in an overall way. There's more subtleties emerging as the wine opens. This is a food friendly wine and is a stand alone by itself as well. It is a blend of 10 grapes which can usually hurt the wine but this is a rare exception. At $10  Raise a Glass!!!

*A day later: wonderfully integrated, balanced, supple and delicious!!!

Friday, December 09, 2022

Josh Cellars Chardonnay 2020


Crystalline straw hue with nice aromas of vanilla, clover honey, and lovely stone fruit.    

Palate--Mouth filling flavors, with a nice structure, nicely acidic down the middle, peaches, apricots and and a hint of citrus.

This is a nicely made Chardonnay that delivers a lot of class for money. At the $15 price point and is being paired with my wife's seafood chowder.  It will be perfect. So raise a glass!

 

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Alamos Red Blend 2020

 


Purple hue with bounding aromas of ripe red berry fruit and a touch of sweet spice with a note of savory with the subtle lift of stewed tomatoes.

Palate--Fruit forward with loads of berries, and an immature structure giving an angular first impression. More berries come through after the swallow and a lingering pleasure of yet more red fruit.

Alamos is one of the successful Argentinian vintners who seem to have mastered the popular profile whatever wines they make.  The signature grape of Malbec is always done well, and they have made strides in Cabernet Sauvignon as well.  This wine is majority Malbec.  At $8, it's tasty and goes well with my grilled steak tonight so raise a glass!

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

La Buelle De L 'Ouest Brut


A lovely orange/gold hue with aromas on opening of summer peaches, fading to fresh green apples, and burnt orange with notes of vanilla and caramel.   

Palate--A rather flabby structure with lethargic bubbles which disappear quickly. Mid palate is weak as is the rest of the wine. 

Not sure what I paid for this but I see it on line for a lot more than what I know I would have paid for it. The bouquet is the only thing this has going for it.

I believe this is from the Loire region of France from which comes some really great value wines. This however is not one of them. It is okay for my wife and me as we decorate our Christmas tree but this is one to pass up!

Holiday cheer: Some thoughts... (Highly abbreviated)


Do you plan ahead for your festive meals, celebrations and get-togethers with respect to what beverages to serve or do you just wing it?

If you are more the planner, remember this when pairing wine with meals, appetizers or whatever. Instead of thinking red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat and seafood, and what about vegetarian or those cheesy appetizers?

Change your focus from the old red with red, white with white etc. Instead think more of the sauces being served with the courses, and the spices being prominent with them all.  For example if you were serving an asian type of chicken dish, your typical white wine would be horrid. Asian spices need something sweet to offset the heat and intensity of the typical spices. If you don't, the Chardonnay will taste horrible and the meal will as well. Asian spices must be served with sweeter or "off-dry" varietals and blends like Reisling, or Gewurztraminer. These will mitigate the "heat" of asian and even mexican type spices. The possibilities are many.

Vegetarian dishes do well with a variety of wines, both read and white as well as sparkling wines. Again, think in terms of what spices will be prominent in your vegetarian dishes. And don't overlook the resurgence of rosés from all over the world.

Bleu cheese with those appetizers? Another sweeter wine will offset the saltiness of the bleu cheese and make both taste wonderful. 

Finally--sparkling wines from all over the world are inexpensive and pair well with 
"almost" anything. Just avoid the highly advertised wines like "Barefoot" and a myriad bunch you only see advertised this time of year. For just $2-5 more a bottle you can get "real" wine that has some character and will enhance your hard preparations.

If in doubt, shoot me a question!

Monday, December 05, 2022

Sebastiani "Red Wine" (Northcoast) "Bourbon Barrel" 2018

 

On the pour the hue is an intense purple nearly black. That alone lead me to a Syrah and/or Petite Sirah/Zinfandel blend. Intense dark berry aromas with violets, and plum. 

Palate--Silky first impression with gobs of jammy dark berry fruit, ripe plum and a hint of cinnamon. It lingers on the finish. 

Their flavor profile on the label was nothing like my own tasting. At any rate, this is a 20 megaton fruit bomb and well made as I would expect from Sebastiani. When I began my oenophilic exploration/education back in 1978, Sebastiani was one of my favorite producers.  They were always reliable, and produced a great value wine that had character and style. My current location for the past 33 years however, is a rural state and I basically never see Sebastiani wines here in Maine. 

I picked this one up at a New Hampshire liquor store. This will carry on for years and is full of rich berry flavors. How I wish Sebastiani were present in our fair state of Maine.  :( 

I will be pairing this with my wife's homemade turkey pie as we try and kill the left-overs of Thanksgiving. Raise a glass!

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Di Giovanna Nero D'Avola 2020

 

Slightly bricked red hue with aromas of yeasty crust of bread, cherry.

Palate--Austere with a harsh presence, staid fruit with an acidity that will seer your taste buds... Finishes abruptly.

This is NOT what I am used to with what is one of my favorite "simple" Italian wines. This, the signature grape of Sicily is a delightful, straight forward wine with brimming cherry flavors and occasionally red hots candies.

Holy pucker city!  I'll see if airing this out helps but right now it is not very pleasant.

Buck Shack Zinfandel 2018 (Bourbon barrel aged) (Lake County, Cal.)



Dark garnet with aromas of milk chocolate, classic Zin bouquet, with dark fruit, cinnamon on opening but exits quickly  

Palate--OK Zin flavors, with jammy dark berry fruit, zesty savory spice and a slightly lingering finish with another touch of cocoa.

I paid $7 for this on a close out and it's ok at that price.  The regular price was supposedly around $20. I wouldn't want to pay that for this wine but at $7 I'll take it all day.  

A few wine makers are experimenting with bourbon barrels for aging their wine.  It definitely changes the profile and the few I have had I tend to like the change.  But give me conventionally well made Zin any time!  

I am pairing this with a moose dish tonight It is what we do in Maine so raise a glass!

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2022

*Additional comment added a day later at bottom.

Purple grape juice hue with aromas of orange circus peanut candies which you wouldn't expect from a red wine but there it is. The slightest hint of fresh grape over the rim with a floral loveliness in the bowl.

Palate--Sour first impression with more soreness throughout. There are some suggestions of grape but this is the worst Nouveau I have had in memory.

Beaujolais Nouveau is a "special" wine made in a special way and released with a VERY special fan fare. From vinification to release the wine is only 6 weeks old!  It is released worldwide on the the third Thursday of November at midnight and there is a raucous bacchanalia in Beaujolais and a lot of headaches and perhaps regrets in the morning.

At $12 it is fun to be a part of such a worldwide festival but as a wine beverage, it isn't worth the headache the morning after. The best part of this wine is its bouquet which is quite lovely but this wine isn't fit for drinking so, "Dump a glass!"


* I always like to check back with a bad wine that is not corked, it just seems BAD.  On rare occasions a wine that honestly horrible the first day mellowed out and was drinkable the next day. This Nouveau however was simply wretched and dumped...The first in all my years of drinking Nouveau.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Sebastiani Pepperwood Grove (California) Cabernet Sauvignon 2006


Brilliant ruby with bricking around the rim. Aromas of light cherry, mint, red berries, wonderful sweet cherry candy, gentle spices. (Amazing)

Palate--Lively acidity, integrated structure, slightly tart and wonderful cherry fruit all over the place. Finishes with a much classier ending than ever expected.

OK--This was a gift many years ago and has been in my cellar for over a decade. The original regular 750ml bottle cost about $8.    

This is now the third time in a few years I have been blown away at older wines which were not "expensive" wines on release and really shouldn't even be drinkable at this state of their existence. But the large format wines, (*Double Magnum in this case) which this is, tend to age much better than the 750ml bottle.  Still this honestly should have been only fit to pour down the drain.  Instead it will be THE wine served with the Thanksgiving feast.

*Dbl-magnum equals 4 bottles of wine.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving day wines! (repost)



A Thanksgiving Day meal with friends and family provides a perfect opportunity to enjoy nice wine. Because so much fuss is made over food and wine pairings in general, I find people get a little stressed out about what to serve guest on this special day. Fortunately, many wines have a much broader range than they get credit for. With that in mind, I have some basic suggestions that might help.

If you are planning a very traditional Thanksgiving meal, complete with Turkey and all the assorted sides,

Rule #1 You need to abandon the adage saying, "White meat, white wine..." This couldn't be worse advice considering all the hefty spices, gravies and sauces at Thanksgiving. In fact, because of that very fact, a red wine is the best pairing but not just any red wine. So without getting too complicated--and boring--I'll cut to the chase.

 A host of red wines work well like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Merlot. All of these varietals have a pretty broad range, except maybe the Zinfandel. However, I put Zinfandel on the list because it works well with cranberry sauce and heavy starches like mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. And as far as bang for the buck, my go to is Zinfandel. 

In order to make things even more festive at the table, I suggest you offer guests two wines. This is especially easy if you are able to provide you guests with two wine glasses and allow them to pour and sip as they like. Simply place the bottles on the table and allow your guests to discover the different pairings as they please.

As a rule of thumb, plan for at least a half bottle per person while at the table. That may seem like a lot but, there are only 4-- 5oz. pours in a 750ml bottle! So which two wines? Try offering one Cabernet Sauvignon and one Pinot Noir, perhaps both from American wineries in the spirit of the holiday. While there a many very nice $12 Pinot Noirs, stay away from the bottom of the barrel Cabernets.  If you are able spend closer to $15 - $20 for your Cabernet.  Washington State is making some really good value Cabs at this price point.

While wines at the dinner table are often the focal point, don't forget that you can create a special experience with wines before and after the meal. A nice bubbly is a great way to start the festivities, especially with assorted appetizers or finger food. (I like a Cava from Spain which are ubiquitous and very inexpensive. It will say Cava on the label) 

To finish things off, try a nice dessert wine or Champagne. Something sweet but light, for example a muscat or icewine, should help wash down the pie. Do this before the coffee.

Above all else-  It is a time for special consideration of the King of all Creation who came to Earth to redeem all who put their trust in Him. Raise a glass to a Thanksgiving table complete with wine!

Breca Rosé 2020

Interesting orange, amber hue with aromas of orange circus peanut candies, (seriously) light banana, sweet melon, and a hint of citrus.

Palate--Off dry with a bitter line on the mid-palate which is actually rather nice, a slightly medicinal rear, juicy structure and a finish that is dry and fruity.

This Catalyaud (Spain) is made from the Garnacha de Aragon grape and is a nice quaff at $10. Serving it now with cheese and crackers before the big Thanksgiving Day meal with family. Give thanks with a grateful heart...  and Raise a glass!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Brotte Bord Elegance "Laudun" 2018

Lighter ruby hue with yeasty aromas out of the bottle, cherry berry, raspberry fruit in the bowl with perfumed fruity bouquet.

Palate--Impressive first impression with a lot of happiness going on: Loads of fruit, with berry pie filling, dried cherry pie filling, and savory spices on the edge. 

This is from "Laudun"in the S.E. region of France and located in the great Cotes Du Rhone appellation  consisting of Grenache and Syrah. It seems to run around $28 but I found it for $14.  Right now I am eating aged Gouda with a sweet *** and it is a very nice pairing.  Later on I will be having left-over savory Prime Rib and I expect it will be quite adequate.   

At $28, definitely raise a glass; at $14 as I paid for it, raise a helf case!  

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais 2020

 


Purple hue with aromas of cocoa, sweet strawberry

Palate--Lively presentation on the palate, with expressive Gamay flavors, a nice acidic line, delightful, strawberry fruit, finishes quickly.  

This is one of the better I have had so raise a glass!

Beaujolais explained:

Gamay is THE grape of Beaujolais and there are several levels of Beaujolais by which to judge the price and quality of what you can expect. 

Beaujolais--The first tier of blended Gamay grapes from anywhere in Beaujolais but nonetheless generally quite a decent quaff with a variety of cheeses and food or all by itself as this one is a really nice example. Generally about $10 and a delicious easy quaff.

Beaujolais Villages--The next step up in quality and price. To use this designation on the label all the grapes must come from mmore select parcels of land.  The price point tends not to be all that significant but a couple bucks generally.

Beaujolais Cru of which there are 10.  These are: Saint-Amour, Fleurie, Moulin-á-Vent, Juliénas, Chiroublés, Chénas, Juliénas, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié

All the grapes must be from these express regions and they express different qualities of their terroir. The price are a bit higher ranging from the upper teens to up to $30 or so. 

Finally-- Beaujolais Nouveau among which TODAY is the annual, release of Nouveau (or "new" Beaujolais) which is done to great fan-fare in France as this lite, uncomplicated gentle quaff of Gamay is only 6 weeks old from harvest to bottle and always released world-wide on the third Thursday in November. I would have reviewed one here but living in Maine we don't see much in the way of such wine. I will endeavor to review one when I find one.  In the meantime, Gamay is just a delightful grape so raise a glass!

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Corvelia Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 20


Nearly midnight hue with nice aromas of rich ripe plum, blackberry pie, sweet and savory spices and a lot more going on.

Palate--Supple tannins, with a rich *fruit bomb first impression. Huge dark berry presence with all sorts of dark berries as well. Finishes with a warmth and flavorful ending which hangs around for a good while. Constructed in the "new world" way for the popular palate that neither likes paying $50 and beyond for a lovely quaff nor waiting a decade to be able to enjoy what's in the bottle.  It finishes with a lingering reminder of what is in the bottle. 

There is a depth here that goes well beyond its price point of $12. Is this a complex, Napa Cab, NO. But neither do you have to take out a loan to buy it or get on a list and hope you make the cut for the chance to purchase a bottle. I have had a good number of Corvelia Cabs and Zinfandels and am I big fan.  Struggling for that Thanksgiving turkey accompaniment? Read my previous post about Thanksgiving pairings, or just buy this wine and raise a glass!

*Fruit bomb is derogatory to some people. It is NOT to me. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Thanksgiving Day Wine Pairings??? What to serve...



A Thanksgiving Day meal with friends and family provides a perfect opportunity to enjoy nice wine. Because so much fuss is made over food and wine pairings in general, I find people get a little stressed out about what to serve guest on this special day. Fortunately, many wines have a much broader range than they get credit for. With that in mind, I have some basic suggestions that might help.

If you are planning a very traditional Thanksgiving meal, complete with Turkey and all the assorted sides,

Rule #1 You need to abandon the adage saying, "White meat, white wine..." This couldn't be worse advice considering all the hefty spices, gravies and sauces at Thanksgiving. In fact, because of that very fact, a red wine is the best pairing but not just any red wine. So without getting too complicated--and boring--I'll cut to the chase.

 A host of red wines work well like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, and Merlot. All of these varietals have a pretty broad range, except maybe the Zinfandel. However, I put Zinfandel on the list because it works well with cranberry sauce and heavy starches like mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. And as far as bang for the buck, my go to is Zinfandel. 

In order to make things even more festive at the table, I suggest you offer guests two wines. This is especially easy if you are able to provide you guests with two wine glasses and allow them to pour and sip as they like. Simply place the bottles on the table and allow your guests to discover the different pairings as they please.

As a rule of thumb, plan for at least a half bottle per person while at the table. That may seem like a lot but, there are only 4-- 5oz. pours in a 750ml bottle! So which two wines? Try offering one Cabernet Sauvignon and one Pinot Noir, perhaps both from American wineries in the spirit of the holiday. While there a many very nice $12 Pinot Noirs, stay away from the bottom of the barrel Cabernets.  If you are able spend closer to $15 - $20 for your Cabernet.  Washington State is making some really good value Cabs at this price point.

While wines at the dinner table are often the focal point, don't forget that you can create a special experience with wines before and after the meal. A nice bubbly is a great way to start the festivities, especially with assorted appetizers or finger food. (I like a Cava from Spain which are ubiquitous and very inexpensive. It will say Cava on the label) 

To finish things off, try a nice dessert wine or Champagne. Something sweet but light, for example a muscat or icewine, should help wash down the pie. Do this before the coffee.

Above all else-  It is a time for special consideration of the King of all Creation who came to Earth to redeem all who put their trust in Him. Raise a glass to a Thanksgiving table complete with wine!

Frisk Riesling 2021


Straw hue with aromas if lime, mandarin orange, tropical fruit.     

Palate--*Spritzig, fruity, sweet impression, (off-dry) a melange of tropical fruit salad. Structure is a touch weak regarding acidity but actually pretty decent for a $7 Riesling.

Riesling is one of those forgotten grapes which is sad. It is the signature grape of the famous Mosel Saar Ruwer-- Germany. Traveling the Mosel River as I did, the terraces of vineyards are so steep that I thought, "if a vineyard worker stumbled they weren't going to stop until they reached the river." The region is peppered with storied parcels that have been making wine for centuries. 

But the stunner here is that this Riesling is from Australia! Not bad at all for the people down under.

I paid $7 for this at Trader Joe's and I would do it again! Raise a glass.


*  Spritzig is the German word used for "sparkling meaning fizzy, carbonated, whatever term you can identify with. The carbonation is a product of the process of making the wine. It is not added as in soda.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Chateau Haut Biraud 2020

Pretty garnet midnight hue with aromas of coffee, green undertones, sweet berry goodness

Palate-- Puckery tannins holding fort on the dark berry prevalence with a super quick finish. (This is on opening.) There is much more here and I will resume after it has had time to open up. I like what I'm seeing and tasting at the moment!

This is a young Bordeaux made from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon located in the "Entre-Deux-Mers.' 

Breathing only accentuates what is there and it is pleasant. I see it for $20 on line but I found it for $13. Raise a glass!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

M. Chevallier Sparkling Brut Cava (NV)

This is a Trader Joe's regular and at the 
$12 price point is a very nice value sparkler.

It is a pale golden with aromas of lemon curd, vanilla pudding, creme bruleé, tropical fruit galore and pineapple.

Palate--The evervescence is fine, pin point bubblers with a liveliness on your tongue. It is dry yet nicely fruity, cleansing your palate with tropical fruit flavors. 

Serve this chilled down as an aperitif, or an accompaniment to those hard to pair Indian, Asian cuisines.  It is a wonderful value at $11 so raise a glass!

Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva 2018


Hue has purple remnants with a garnet bowl and aromas of classic Sangiovese (the grape) with sweet cherry, a hint of black licorice, savory spices, and more lovely fruit.

Palate--Lovely fruity front with excellent acidic Sangiovese structure, well balanced at this age and excellent drinking right now!

Querceto is one of my favorite Chianti's having memories of sitting in an Italian restaurant in the home of this wine with the waiter aerating our Querceto pouring it from glass to glass.  This is a really nice Riserva (*Reserve) and will be superior with my home-made venison spaghetti. (and it was!) 

This is listed at $25 but I paid $15. I used to get this wine a lot at $12...

 At $15 this is a no brainer so raise a glass!

* Any wine that posts "Reserve or Riserva" is a wine that has had added attention choosing only the best grapes of the vineyard and perhaps some special attention in the way the wine was made. They tend to cost 10-20-% more.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Canoe Ridge "The Explorer" Merlot (Horse Heaven Hills) 2017

 


Dark purple he with distinctive aromas of overly ripe plum, (not a bad thing) and a pronounced "something" which I just cannot put my finger on. I'm not sure I like it though...

Palate--Mouth filling flavor with firm structure, big bold, dark berry mid-palate, expresso at the end. This is a very BIG wine with a lasting finish that is also "warming." 

This is a BIG wine (have ai said that already?) LOL   with a lot of expression and the structure to go for another 10 years.  This is a different kind of Merlot and perhaps the Horse Heaven Hills AVA is the reason. It is big, bold, trying to become balanced and finishes with a lasting berry ending.  If I  have the chance I will buy another and lay it down for a couple years anyway. I believe the longer you give this wine, the better it is going to be!  It prices at $40 but I found it for $15. Nice find so raise a glass! 

Monday, November 07, 2022

Maison Nicolas Pinot Noir 2021


Light cherry hue with aromas of yeasty bread above the rim with wonderful Pinot bouquet of strawberry juice and even a suggestion of maple syrup, cola or rootbeer.

Palate- Thin first impression with steely center. Raspberry midbeam and a clunky structure. Finishes almost before it starts. 

Ok even for $10 this is a substandard Pinot and gives a bad impression of the grape which can cost a thousand of dollars for one bottle from one of the hallowed Chateau of Burgundy. When one speaks of a "Burgundy" they are referring to Pinot Noir.

The basic elements are present here but they are bare bones. You can find some pretty nice Pinot Noirs from Oregon and Washington state at the under $15 price point which are wonderful by comparison. I'd give this one a pass!

OK on retrospect, this is better than at first. Actually it is pretty darn good. Before you serve it, breathe it for an hour or so and you will reap big dividends!  RAISE A GLASS!

Bergeyre Labadie Merlot-Tannat Reserve Cotes De Gascogne 2021


This is a very young wine with an intense, immature dark purple hue with aromas of berries, savory spice, ripe cherry-berry juice and red grapefruit! 

Palate--Fresh out of the gate with unidimensional structure that will take shape as it opens up. First impression is new world style even though an old world creation, and it works for the new world palate! Chewy tannins that are gentle yet pronounced only because they are young. It has been about 20 minutes and it is already showing itself to be a delightful quaff. 

Tannat is not a well known grape in America or Europe even though it is a significant grape grown in the Gascogne region of France. It is the preeminent grape of Argentina being grown throughout much of S. America and Australia.  

Although this wine is priced as high as $40 I paid $10 for it at a state liquor store. It's a nice wine at the latter price point so raise a glass (at that price point)

Guardians Sapervavi Kakheti 2021

Intense black/garnet hue with subdued aromas of brioche, light red berry, hard cherry candies, and a hint of licorice fighting to emerge. 

Palate--Gentle first impression with light tannins, nuanced structure, satisfying red berry flavors with a touch of savory spice.

This is a gentle and tasty wine with a lovely first impression and would be delicious with all manner of (lighter) cheeses and food. 

This wine comes from the country of Georgia and may be my first wine out of thousands from this region of the world. At $13, I'm glad I grabbed it. It is is nice experience and and easy quaff so raise a glass!

Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Aravail Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Decently dark plum hue with aromas of lightly yeasted baked bread, subtle hint of cocoa, green fruit, savory spice, and lovely dark berries. (Nice bouquet for having just been opened.)

Palate--Tart first impression with a steely middle, green hints, crushed dark berries with a suggestion of vanilla cream candy.

This Central Coast (California) Cab is better than I expected and should improve with more breathing and a bit warmer as my ambient cellar this time of year is in the low 60's which is a great storage temp. but too chilly to be fully appreciated. I paid $12 for this and I wouldn't go out of my way to buy another but it is a decent offering at this price point so raise a glass!

Friday, October 28, 2022

Viu Manent Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2019

 

Medium bodied with dark black cherry hue and aromas of dried, dusty, red berries, with a hint of spice and fresh fruit at the rim.

Palate--Big fruit initial expression, young tannins but well structured for the near future, nice berry mid-palate with more fruit on the end.  Finishes well!

I used to "do" chilean wines big time. They are one of the the premier new world producers of wine outside of California in my humble opinion.  This Cab hales from the Colchagua Valley and is very nicely structured.  It has been too long since I last had a Viu Manent wine and I am not sure why. This is a keeper and would be great to have a case to lay down and taste it a couple times a year.  

I paid under $11 for this serious Cabernet and would like to grab several more.  I am pairing it with seared venison and tomorrow being opening day deer in Maine, I'll be looking to refresh my supply of this wonderfully, pure, healthy meat. Raise a glass!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Sandeman's 20 year old Tawny Port

 

The hue of this creation was spectacular presenting with a slightly caramelized orange hue and yet with a change of the lighting it was nearly glowing with a beautiful ruby amber.

The bouquet of this dessert wine was also spectacular with oranges, burnt caramel and mandarin orange a plenty.

Palate--Silky, mouth filling warmth and bursting with boiled orange marmalade, more caramel and orange with a silky lasting finish.  

This wine has received 95 points out of 100 from a few tasters whose opinions I have come to respect over the decades. It is every bit of that.  This wine may run you up to $60 but possibly as "little" as $40. I paired it with a flourless chocolate tort with a fresh raspberry garnish and whipped cream. It was heavenly!  

This was a splurge from a friend who shares a birth date with me so we have a special dinner every year. You have to live a little especially in these insane times so if you are able, this is a grand diversion from the crazies to the sublime so raise a glass!

Le Macioche Brunello Di Montalcino 2007


Showing its age on the pour with *bricking at the rim. Aromas of nice cherry are the first to hit your nose, a suggestion of mint at the rim with more aromas trying to break out in the first few minutes of opening!

Palate--Watery texture, sharp acidity, subdued flavors.  Will air it out for a few hours.

After some air, this is a tremendous food wine that paired exquisitely with our charcoal grilled bourbon marinated sirloin steak tips. 

This wine was a gift from my son-in-law and we raised several glasses!

*Bricking is when a red wine is again it goes through various changes in all aspects of the wine. Notably, the red color begins to yellow as it oxidizes over time. The color resembles "some red brick" hence the term.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Alki Merlot (Washington State 2018)

 


Lighter cherry hue with aromas of bright cherry Above the rim filling the area, with more charm with cherry berry pie, charming perfumey bouquet, that is quite delightful!

Palate--Tart on opening, saliva inducing acidity, tightly wound and austere. This needs to *BREATH!!!

*After breathing over night there is a cola aroma in the bowl. The palate is still wildly acidic, austere and frankly not too pleasant.  I paid $13 for this but see it on line for $20 so I would give it a pass.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Mendoza Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017


Nice pure plum hue with aromas of savory ripe, dark berry fruit,

Palate--Tart first impression has a steely beam and restrained flavors with sharp acidity and hard tannins. 

At the moment this is a confusing wine but needs to breathe for a while and perhaps will mellow out. Right now it is angular, awkward, not at all integrated and not very approachable. I will let it breathe and *update.

I paid $9 for this on a special marked down from $16. I think there is potential here but right now it is drinking like an old world wine of yesteryears where you needed to cellar many wines to be drinkable much less outstanding. 

*Okay--so this is why it is always valuable to allow a wine to breathe before passing judgment.  On opening it was not pleasant. After 40 minutes or so it was a different wine. What a nice value at my price of $9 but even at $16 this is a respectable Cabernet from Argentina. So Raise a Glass!

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Dry Creek "Fumé Blanc" 2020

 


Pale straw hue with aromas of sweet melon, a citrus edge, green apple above the rim, perfumy melange of myriad sweet fruits with a slight "grassy" ending.

Palate--Lemony first impression, razor sharp acidity, ultra fruity mid-palate, finishes with a nice long ending. 

This Sonoma creation fermented entirely in stainless tanks, is what *Sauvignon Blanc should taste like. This is well crafted, juicy, balanced and delightful. At $16 this is a stellar example of how lovely the grape can be and Dry Creek does it well so Raise a Glass. 


*Sauvignon Blanc and Fumé Blanc are the same grape.  The legendary, late Robert Mondavi coined the name to distinguish it as a stand alone, superior creation with Sauvignon Blanc.  


Thursday, October 20, 2022

"Koudiat" Cotes Du Rhone 2019

 


Dark plum hue with room filling aromas of sweet spices and gentle purple fruit. after breathing there is a nice red grapefruit nuance as well!

Palate--Steely first impression, with lots of tart fruit and loads of zesty spice. This wine needs to open up some. Decent structure, with solid fruit and a finish that hangs around for a bit. Nice!

On opening, there's another wine trying to break out which I hope it will with some breathing.  The break out is a really nice strawberry suggestion unique for a Grenache and Syrah blend. 

I paid $13 for this with a supposed retail price of $25 on it. I'm glad I didn't pay that for it but at $13, raise a glass!

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

OXTE Red Blend 2021


 Lighter black cherry hue with aromas of sweet bright slightly baked cherry above the rim, with a candied aroma at the edge. Quite nice!

Palate--Tart but flavorful if a little watery, fades quickly but is interesting none-the-less.

This wine is a blend of 40% Tempranillo, 25%Syrah, 25% Garnacha, and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

I read a review of this wine a moment ago and it hammers it for being absolute plonk. Well, "taste" is very personal and is totally one's preference however there are objective realities about wine.  The reviewer IO believe is trying to find a unique niche in the wine review field and focuses on BAD wines. So while there are some fair adjectives used it is over the top and after almost 50 years of wine experience I am having this $7 wine with grilled hamburgers and mac and cheese!  And it will be fun and delightful. At $7, I am giving this a "raise a glass"! 

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Bogle "Essential Red" 2018

 


Inky black hue with aromas of dark berries and a touch of spice.

Palate--Fruit forward with loads of jammy black berry with cinnamon on a nice textured popularly styled wine with a hint of smoke on the end.

This is a California sourced blend of *Petite Sirah and Syrah with Zinfandel in the mix. The inky dark color is classic of the Sirah varietals and the spicy Zin is a nice complement to the other grapes. Bogle is one of the growing, reliable California vintners that know how to make popularly structured wines at a value price. 

This Red will run you around $10 and it is a delightful quaff if you like fruit forward wines. It is a lovely pizza or spaghetti wine or all by itself or ideally with some heftier cheeses. Regardless, you can't lose so raise a glass!

*Petite Sirah is a varietal unto itself distinct from Syrah! I note this only because I was in a wine store once and overheard an employee explain to a customer that "Petite Sirah" were small little Sirah grapes....Good thing I didn't have any liquid in my mouth...  Raise a glass!

Friday, October 14, 2022

Shannon Ridge (Lake County) Zinfandel 2020


Very nice dark rich nearly black hue with aromas of dense blackberry, hints of boysenberry,  and plum.

Palate--Nice first impression with a silky structure, dense mouthfeel with intense fruit flavors nad a long lasting finish. 

I have not had this particular Zin and it is a winner! It is all I like to see in a quality Zinfandel with finesse, mouthfeel, rich tastes, character and all for bargain value price around $8 that I paid for it. That is not the normal price however.

I have not had many "Lake County" Zins but will be looking for more.  After all is said and done, this is my initial review on opening meaning it will only get better so raise a glass!

Cline Viognier 2020 (North Coast Calif.)


A beautiful golden hue with aromas of  vanilla pudding, creme brulee, pineapple,  baby powder, and a melange of tropical fruit.

Palate--Super fruity with a touch of citrus, mouth filling flavors of tropical fruit compote, ripe apricot, razor sharp acidity, and a lingering finish of more tropical fruit. 

Viognier (pronounced-- Vee-on--YAY) is known for its super fruity, even floral bouquet. It is mistaken for a "sweet" wine as many white wines are. But "sweetness" is an objective quality of a wine which is based on residual sugar, meaning sugar which has not gone all the way through fermentation thus being converted to alcohol. This wine is 14.5% alcohol so there is NO residual sugar remaining.  

I am pairing this tonight with roasted pork chops and sauerkraut.  The fruitiness of the wine will be lovely against the kraut but is so lovely and full of flavor it makes a great aperitif, chilled a bit and at $11 you will want to raise a glass! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Giapoza Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

 


Garnet hue with aromas of "fish" seriously, berries and savory spice, nothing wowing...

Palate--"Sweet" profile up front with spices in the middle, burnt wood, and lots of decent berry fruit all over. 

First impressions are that this is an easy drinking wine with some character and lots of flavor which is a decent start for any wine. 

Now there is a "get a grip factor here" which is I paid $7 for this bottle but I see it on line for twice this.. 

Why did I dare to get a Cabernet Sauvignon at this price point?  The tag on the shelf of this wine said it was sourced from NAPA fruit. What this means is that a farmer had some left over cabernet grapes and was dumping them at a greatly reduced rate. I have had many experience with such sourced wines which were unbelievably good precisely due to of the source of the grapes. It doesn't happen often but when it does you can get a sensational bottle of Napa Cab for example at a fraction of the price you would pay if you bought a labeled NAPA Cabernet. 

So how is this wine?  I didn't want to like it on first impressions but it has really grown on me. Of course it is young and will improve for a couple three years and is quite pleasant. If I have the opportunity I will buy more so raise a glass! 

Monday, October 10, 2022

Excelsior Syrah 2020


Nice dark hue expected and aromas of jammy dark berry fruit, perfumy above the rim that is very nice,  and I wish I had another adjective for the loveliness of the fruit but it is simply lovely!

Palate--A bit angular, acidic, a mite harsh, but has nice potential for a few more years down the road. An abundance of dark berry fruit and a finish that carries on.

This South African creation is quite decent at the $9 price point but it just isn't ready yet. Mind you, it is drinkable but will be so much better in another couple years. This is a value enough wine that you can buy 3, taste one now, lay the others down, and taste one a year and watch the improvement.  Raise a glass!

Friday, October 07, 2022

Honig Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

 


Darker garnet hue with aromas of pronounced olive on opening, (the wine is at cellar temp. (54 degrees F) and hasn't been breathed. Subdued bouquet with light berries--needs to breathe and warm up.  After breathing and warming up, there is an amazing fresh fruit in abundance 3 inches above the rim of the glass. Nose in glass has a sweet chalky presence with a hint of spice.  A subtle hint of mocha at the rim after sitting a while but it is fleeting. The prominent olive aroma has dissipated greatly which is nice
because it was too pronounced on opening.

Palate--Mouth filling rich dark berries with espresso, tar, nice balanced tannic structure which can still mature, smoke, more intense fruit flavors.  Finishes with a sense of a mouth full of wine and a hint of black licorice. 

I bought this in LA about a million years ago for $45 and laid it down in my small, temperature controlled wine fridge. It is always hard to open special bottles of wine but the day must come. This is it and I am serving it with grilled filet mignon.  The finish is still lingering in my mouth. 

This wine at 12 years of age is still young. The structure of acid and tannins will keep this wine for many years to come where it will only become more integrated, and more complex. Now I wish I had another 6 bottles to keep again but I cherish these rare occasions where I can taste a different level of wine. This was a great treat and a perfect accompaniment with my tenderloin. All I can say is "Raise a Glass!"


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."