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!

Friday, April 22, 2022

Benziger Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (Sonoma)

Aromas of gentle blackberry with subtle notes of sweet spices...  needs to breathe... 

Palate-- Nice structure, with steely notes among the array of dark berry fruit, tar, grapefruit rind, robust tannins, that mellow out with some breathing.

At the $12 price point this is a nice value even if too young to fully enjoy right now. It is a nice quaff and will only improve with a few more years. Napa cabs are at a premium these days and have been for many years. Sonoma offers outstanding quality cabs without the "Napa" surcharge as I call it.  So be wise, and enjoy these bargains! Raise a glass

Monday, April 18, 2022

Care Tinto Sobre Lias Garnacha/Syrah 2018

Youthful purple hue with aromas of wonderfully sweet bubble gum, (yup!) beautiful bright berries, laced with sugary sweet spices. Smelling this waft into the air is tantalizing!

Palate--First impression is lively acid, with loads of beautiful red berry hard candy, floral notes of spring roses, and each mouthful is loaded with more surprises. Wow! 

This Spanish blend of the native Grenache and the foreign Syrah (spelled Sirah depending on the country) is a delicious surprise and unexpectedly good! 

My wife grabbed this for me as an Easter surprise in y wine cellar.  Unwittingly she grabbed another one a couple weeks later and gave it to me Easter morning.  I am glad she has a bad memory!  :)  This is a keeper! Raise a glass!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva 2017

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Nice crystalline ruby hue with aromas of cherries, savory spice, a suggestion of mint, and cherry cream bonbons.

Palate-Vibrant acidity, loads of cherry fruit, and savory spice (just like the bouquet) a nice acidic foundation with a finish that is satisfying and lingering.

Previously reviewed which I like to do to check my own consistency but also the differences from bottle to bottle.  They are not drastic but there is a reality called "bottle variation which could be due storage difference, shipping issue etc. 

This is just an always delicious Chianti and classic fo the grape (Sangiovese) and at $12 it is a definite "raise a glass" kind of wine! 

Check my previous review(s) to see if I am on the money...  :) but remember, this wine was opened yesterday evening!  

Alexander Valley Vineyards Chardonnay (Alexander Valley) 2017

Moderate golden hue with immediate aromas of an aged Chardonnay moving beyond peak. Baked caramelized peach pie bouquet, and caramelized honey.

Palate--Lovely palate cleansing, acidic foundation, with very nice mouth filling flavors of slightly beyond ripe stone fruit, light oak notes, and a buttery texture and a lingering nutty finish. 

My wife hid some wine surprises in my cellar for Resurrection Sunday. This 375ml bottle ws part of a returned case someone bought and didn't use it all so the price of $6 was a decent deal while the full bottle tended to run around $15 price point. 

At 5 years old, it is expected to begin showing some age and it does. That does not mean it is bad. To the contrary, some people love the unique "nutty" flavor of aged chardonnay. This is a nice Sonoma Chard and a value at the prices stated.

This will be paired with our Easter ham. Here's to the Savior of mankind!  Raise a glass!


Thursday, April 14, 2022

Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel 2019 (Freshly opened bottle compared to 3 day old bottle)

Question: How long should you drink a wine that has been opened?

Answer: Depends for how long it has been opened and how it has been stored.

I compare two bottles of the same wine but one was opened three days ago and the other just uncorked.

3 day old was on the kitchen counter and kept at room temperature: There are aromas of Jellied cranberry sauce, some spices, dark berries, a little more alcohol in the bouquet. A touch of cocoa in the bowl.

Palate--rather flat, bitter, nearly unpleasant and strained with all fruit being subdued.

Freshly opened:  The bouquet has a fuller bowl with a melange of mixed berry aromas versus more of a singular dark berry fragrance with a touch of fresh asparagus in the opened wine. A hint of vanilla and  chocolate berry cream candies permeates the bouquet.  Overall there is just more depth of what is there, compared to the wine opened for 3 days. 

Palate--A touch "sweeter" more balanced, vibrant dark berry flavors are more intense and no sense of bitterness in the mouth. Just drinks easier...

*Wines begin to go downhill as soon as they are opened. If you refrigerate them, they might last a day or two longer. Fortified wines like Port and sherry will last a bit longer! 

This Bogle Zin was drinkable even after 3 days at room temp but it was clearly on its way out. If you plan to use an old wine in cooking --Do Not-- unless it is still drinkable. 

This Zin is around the $12 price point but I found it for $7.99 and I bought the last 6 bottles they had. Bogle makes solid value wines so raise a glass!

Friday, April 08, 2022

"Collection Rhone" Cotes Du Rhone 2020


Sweet cherry above the rim of the garnet hued quaff. Rose petal and gentle spices and more berries.

Palate--Lies very gently on the tongue with a soft structure and sweet spices with cherry hard candies. Finishes with a subtle reminder of all that is there.

This wine is made with 55% Grenache (hence the bright cherry) 30% Carignan and 15% Syrah with the fruity presence on the rim and darker hue. At the $10 price point this is a remarkable wine that it ready even in its youth to enjoy now. It is delicious by itself and will pair well with most anything you want (except Asian and Indian cuisine)  Raise a glass!

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

Mark West Pinot Noir 2019

Lighter ruby hue with aromas of light strawberry, a hint of sweet raspberry, sweet pie spices

Palate--Lively structure, fruity full flavored Pinot with spicing and a slight steely middle with a light lingering finish.

This  previously reviewed Pinot sourced from California is always well made a good value from Mark West.  At the $10 price point you really can't go wrong so why pay 3 to 50 times that price for a classic, Burgundy that few can afford?  Raise a glass!

Monday, April 04, 2022

Badenhorst The Curator "Red Blend" 2020 (South Africa)

Purple hue with a ruby-ish rim and aromas of ruby red grapefruit at the rim punctuated with sweet spices, and juicy fruit pie red berries and mulberry.

Palate--Steely front with an austere first impression but opening quickly with a unique old world flare of Cabernet Sauvignon,  Shiraz, Cinsault, and Grenache Noir. Lip smacking tannins, might ease up with some air time, and finishes with a darker berry ending and lingering notes of rustic spice.

It has been a LONG time since I ventured to taste a S. African red.  Years ago I was infatuated with S. Africa's up and coming red wines especially Cabernet Sauvignon but it turned badly when old band-aid flavors started to appear. Normally this could be a flaw in production but it went on for so long I deemed it to be "terroir." Yeah not enticing... 

All and all at the $8 price point, this is easy to drink, popular style so raise a glass.

Friday, April 01, 2022

Maison Barboulot Cabernet-Syrah 2020

This young Languedoc blend has an inky almost black hue thanks to its youth and the Syrah grape of this 50/50 blend. Aromas of bright ripe red berries, crusty baguette at the rim,  a touch of candy and vanilla with a splash of cinnamon.

Palate--In the mouth it is tasty, with loads of fruity spices, a hard candy vanilla at the back of the mouth and drinks easily. 

This has been made in to be drunk upon release which is the "new" wave of wine making just about globally.  Iconic wine consultant, Michele Roland, began a revolution around the globe helping wine makers how to make wine that the masses can enjoy NOW.  The wine industry was hurting with the new generations unwilling or unable to 1. pay large money for decent wines and 2. that you had to lay down for years before drinking.  His finger prints go far and wide.  While it hasn't all been great for the industry, it saved many wineries from folding as the appeal for approachable and delicious wines ready to drink when offered.

Yes it has been controversial but if sales matter, then Roland is a success.

This wine is offered by a chain of stores in America called Trader Joe's at the $6 price point! Does it taste like Syrah or Cabernet? well.........not really but I will admit it is tasty, easy to drink and enjoyable. Will it turn heads of those who know GREAT wine?  No.  But to each his own and raise a glass!

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Mencio Roble Alvarez de Toledo 2015 (Bierzo)


Egg plant hue looking very young even thought it's 7 years old. Aromas of sweet funky mushroom, fresh fruit on the edge, savory spices, white pepper and black pepper the end.

Palate-Some dried black berries, and salted crackers, with penetrating flavors of a mixed berry pie, plum, lip- smacking structure and a finish that says, take another sip! 

This northern Spain wine comprised of the Mencia grape is well made, and at the $14 price point is a ridiculous value quaff.  The Wine Enthusiast made this #8 of their top 100 wines of 2018 and a "Best Buy" designation.  I cannot argue!  Grab this and raise a glass as it is drinking really well right now but will hold for another 5 years.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Winemakers Selection "Classic Series" (Red Blend) California 2019

Really light hue on the pour with aromas that are reminiscent of Beaujolais Nouveau,  or fruity red jug wine, and while not exciting it is actually quite pleasant.

Palate--Surprisingly full of crazy fruity flavor, decent mouth feel, dark ripe berries, some bright cherry, and a quick finish.

This California blended wine is made for Walmart and if I were a wine snob I would not even be reviewing this.  But, I believe in the "get a grip factor." Meaning what?  Meaning this wine is $4! FOUR DOLLARS.  Even Brandon couldn't mess this up. 

So use this to make Sangria, drink it alone, pair it with your favorite foods and you really can't go wrong at this price.  Seriously tasty! Seriously simple, and yet a solid value so "Raise a glass!" 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Castello Di Querceto Chianti Classico Riserva 2017

Querceto   Chianti Classic Riserva 2017Bricking red at the rim with  a blast of super nice fresh cherry with the pull of the cork. Sweet candied spice, a touch of rose petal and violets. Amazing!

Palate--Integrated, steely, bright cherry pie with loads of spices both sweet and savory. Finishes fairly abruptly but still reminds you of summery, bright red fruit.   

This is always a solid representation of the signature grape of Chianti--Sangiovese--with its acidic charm, lovely fruit with a backbone of red ripe cherries. 

I have had Querceto over the span of decades probably more than any other Tuscan wine. Having been to Greve, Italy I am transported back to the time and place as I sip this Sangiovese classic again. This is the charm of good wine. It is more than a drink, it is an experience that conjures up wonderful memories of sights and smells and the beautiful Tuscan countryside.  

I paid $13 for this Chianti bargain and as always with this wine, I say, "Raise a glass!" 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Broken Earth Winery Grenache 2016 (Paso Robles)


Pours with a really light hue that looks rather like pinot Noir. Aromas of fruity sweet cherry hard candies, with a delicate sugary hint of red grapefruit.

Palate--Lively first impression full of vibrant fruity cherry, spice, reminiscent of pinot noir?  Seriously a unique Grenache presentation and an absolutely delightful "happy" profile that makes me want to celebrate Spring!

This is delicious, and full of flavor and well made so even at the price point of $28 thjis is a stellar Grenache so raise a glass!

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Mark West Pinot Noir 2019 (California)

Light ruby hue with aromas of strawberry, vanilla and spice.

Palate--watery mouth feel, confused palate, under-stated fruit, and a touch of vanilla; a peculiar impression... 

Sourced from grapes anywhere in California, such wines can be a real crap shoot ranging from utter plonk to an "Oh magosh" experience in those years when there is a bumper crop of great quality grapes and they are being dumped on the wineries that depend on surviving off such grapes. 

Unfortunately, those OMG years are few and far between.  That being said, sourced wines are inexpensive, and can be a real crap shoot depending on the crop in any given year. Mark West is one of the vintners however, who take care in what they choose to invest their money.  

This selection is not one of their best but is still a pleasant enough quaff with some nice Pinot fruit suggestions and after all, you're talking about an $8-$10 Pinot Noir. 

The non-discriminating palate which is most of us, will enjoy this and that is the bottom line.  

Friday, March 18, 2022

Corvelia Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 19

Lovely Cranberry jelly hue with aromas of wild berry pie filling, strawberry-cherry gum notes with sweet spice and honeysuckle with a maple syrup nuance!

Palate--A vibrantly lively and fruity first impression with loads of delisicisouhs fruit yet not a fruit bomb! Balanced, structured to drink NOW, yet with a vibrancy of acid to make it both a lone quaff or a dinner wine.

Corvelia has become one of my fave wine makers in both their Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Do not approach this wine as you would a $70 Napa Cab. But if you want a very drinkable, well made super value Cabernet that isn't trying to be a Screaming Eagle, at the $10 price point raise a glass!

Friday, March 11, 2022

Corvelia Zinfandel Lot 20 (Paso Robles) (


Deep aubergine, hue with aromas of tar, sweet black berry, an almost eucalyptus note-- but not quite-- with a big dash of savory spices.

Palate--Gargantuan, black berry front with some tannic back bone. Rear palate brings vanilla dark chocolate cream bon bons with a lasting finish.

Another tasty fruit bomb Zin from Paso Robles, Ca. from the folks at Corvelia. Sold at Trader Joes and I don't know if elsewhere, it is a fave of mine because at $10 it defies the price tag consistently. There is no vintage on the label and I tried to find the "Lot 20" to see if that helped but to no avail.  

At any rate, give this a shot if you like the big fruit bombs and raise a glass!

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Gnarly Head Chardonnay (Central Coast) 2020

Nice lighter golden hue with aromas of cantaloupe, wet stones, vanilla, tropical fruit and citrus.

Palate--Nice structure with a minerally foundation, nice mouth watering acidity, loads of tropical fruit and a silky mouthfeel.

The Central Coast (AVA) American Viticultural Area, is a large region of California from Santa Barbara north to San Francisco.  So a wine so labeled means the grapes used in the wine came from that area of the state.

Gnarly Head is producing some really consistent value wines at the $10 price point.  This is no exception. Pair this with buttery dishes be it pasta, seafood, or even a lighter fare of pork or smoked meats. Another well done wine from these folks so "Raise a glass!

Saturday, March 05, 2022

The Wanted Zin 2018 (Puglia)

Black cherry hue with aromas of rose petals, sweet spices, 

Palate--Sweet first impression with hefty dark berry flavors with a huge burst of savory spices mid-palate on a new world structure, finishes with the remnants of dark berry and their skins.

Here's the weird thing: This hales from Puglia, Italy!  Now Zinfandel "was"unique, and totally American. BUT--it's genetic progenitor is from the primitivo grape that lives in Italy. I have had several primitivos none of which tasted at all like Zinfandel which happens to be my all time favorite varietal that I can afford...

So when I saw this recently labeled Zinfandel but coming from Italy, I had to snatch it up and see what it's all about.  YES--it tastes like Zin and frankly not at a bad quaff. It was purposely vinified to be like the American Zins we are used to and aged in American Oak. I have to hand it to them; they succeeded!

At $12, I glad I tried it and perhaps it will be a new day for Zinfandel over seas.   Raise a glass!


Wednesday, March 02, 2022

M. Chevallier Carte Noire "Brut"

Very pale straw hue with lovely pin prick bubbles, releasing their bouquet of lime and white melon.

Palate--A seductively dry bubbler with a quickly fleeting profile on the palate but what is there is fresh and fruity with lychee as the predominate flavor and a very subtle nutty end.

Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine made in the methode de champanoise style meaning the wine is fermented in the bottle developing its wonderful bubbles.  Cavas are easy drinking and inexpensive but ever so enjoyable.  My preference is I will take Cava over Prosecco every time but that's just me.  At around $9 it's a great buy so raise a glass!

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Les Roches Touraine Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Light golden hue with aromas of vanilla, papaya, mango, ripe pineapple, baked green apple pie and pie spices. 

Palate--Nice acidity, on a vanilla cream foundation, a subtle grassiness, more vanilla, and a touch of wood and stone on a creamy finish. 

This Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc is a really nice bargain at the $10 price point. S. Blanc seems to have lost it's cache over the past couple decades.  This is a shame as it can be vinified in numerous styles ranging from lightly sweet to bone dry but always very fruity and easy to drink. A cheese wine for sure but tonight I will be making an impromptu shrimp and pasta creation of a yet to be determined spices and sauces.  At $10 Raise a glass!!!

Monday, February 28, 2022

True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 (Paso Robles)


Very classy, deep dark nearly black hue with aromas of cigar ash, blackberry pie, baked pie crust, sweet fruit above the rim, a touch of eucalyptus.

Palate--Nice first impression, rich dark berry fruit, tar, supple texture, mouth filling flavors, and a loooong, lingering black tea finish.

This is a very stately structured Cab. with surprising mouth feel, and profile. While being uncomplicated, it is never-the-less interesting and should be even more so as it breaths more. I see it selling on line around $24 but I know I didn't pay near that. This wine has the back bone to stick around for another 8-10 years only improving along the way. So I say--Raise a glass!!!

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Scotto Family Vineyards Zinfandel 2017 (Lodi)

Lighter cherry juice looking hue with aromas of sour cherry, lovely spices, 

Palate--deliciously spiced on a gentle frame with a nice spread of red berries both slightly tart and sweet. Gentle finish lingers a bit.

This previously reviewed Zin from California (Lodi) was not quite up to it's usual performance (see Feb. 17 post) so I wrote that I would re-review another. This one is what you would expect as I have finished off about two cases of this value zinfandel. At a price point of $8.50 you really can't go wrong.  

Pair it with everything from pizza (which is waiting for me) to beff or wld game stews, chili with a little heat in it and see how versatile this Zinfandel can be. Raise a glass!

Friday, February 25, 2022

Gnarly Head Zinfandel 2020 (Lodi)

Darker garnet hue with aromas of sweet red fruit and cucumber-laced pomegranate juice!  (I know right?)  

Palate--Zesty, fruity, darker berry backbone with a liveliness that makes you want to just swallow a little more and a little more. 

I have had a lot of this wine over the past year paying around $8 a bottle for it most everywhere. It is readily available and is one of my favorite pairing with my super venison chili which I'll be preparing in about an hour.

Lodi--an AVA (American Viticultural Area) is not one of my most explored AVA's but their Zins are growing on me. At this price, raise a glass!

Villa Cerrina Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2020

Vibrant jellied cranberry hue with aromas of subtle, floral fragrant rose petal with a sweet cherry cream hint. Rustic, savory dried spices.  Nice!

Palate--Juicy acidity, with lip smacking tannins, tart cranberry, and a very quick finish. 

I opened this last night and purposely waited for it to breath over night in light of its youthfulness. It paid off.  My first impression last night was not very favorable being ill-defined, confused, a wine in search of an identity.  20 hours of airtime and it is hard to beat a wine like this that sells for around--sit down--$6 at one of our local mega chains called Trader Joe's.

For reference--Two nights ago I reviewed another Montepulciano D'Abruzzo  from "Podere" which I personally enjoyed much more. But that is just a matter of preference so remember that you like, what YOU like. There objective elements of good wine but in the end it comes down to YOUR preference. Just don't get stuck because you found something you like and tay glue to what you know. There is such a bounty of wine profiles at all price points discover what you like and keep on discovering and while your at it, "Raise a glass!"

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Casa Santos Lima "Confidencial Reserva" 2017

Deep and rich intensely purple hue right to the rim.

Aromas of rich, savory spiced dark berry, and twinge of salami at the edge.

Palate--Mouth watering acidity, minerally front, rich, flavorful, steely spiced berry middle, with a lingering finish of perfumy black pepper that is fleeting.

This is a full bodied red with a ton of gusto! You're not going to trounce this wine into obscurity by pairing it with a bold entree or rich, spicy tomato based sauces so throw caution to the wind and make a pasta course with big, bold, ultra rich pomodoro tomatoes and sautéed garlic or even a more subtle cut of beef grilled to medium rare. Give it a good hour at least to breath and then enjoy!

At the $9-$15 price point this is another super value creation worthy of your attention so raise a glass!

Monday, February 21, 2022

Podere Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2019


Crazy dark black cherry hue with aromas of a savory yet sweet, berry cream bonbons with a rustic edge.

Palate--Even keeled with a burst of bright flavorful cherry berry fruit with a lovely structure for a very food friendly quaff.  A nice gentle finish rounds out this value presentation.

Pairing tonight is homemade lasagne and it will be perfect. At the $10 price point raise a glass.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Gnarly Head "Authentic Black" 2019


This wine presents as a brooding, dark, nearly black wine with big jammy aromas of ripe black cherry, savory spice, cigar ash, and a slight twinge of blueberry.

Palate--KaBoom out of the gate the thickish structure, velvety tannins, loads and loads of jammy blackberry with a touch of espresso mid-palate, and a finish that just assaults the palate with enduring dark fruit.

I call this style a 20 megaton fruit bomb! Not everyone likes this type of wine but I love them as well as the more austere, old world breed.  People think these are hard to pair with food but I disagree. You might have to be a little sensitive to what you pair with it but just delay taking a drink after eating something on your plate that wouldn't quite work with this.  Minutes later and it is still lingering on my palate. 

My first thought was Syrah and/or Petite Sirah blend (maybe Zinfandel and a touch of Cabernet).

I paid $8 for this at a local grocery store and I am loving it paring it with my wife's and my Sunday night tradition of pizza.  It will do nicely so raise a glass!

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Chateau St. Michelle Gewürztraminer 2020


Spiced pineapple rings, a tropical fruit melange, wrapped in a pale golden hue.

Palate--Lovely peach nectar, sun ripened fresh pineapple, sweet pie spices, on a fresh foundation with a really nice lingering finish that takes you to a tropical paradise.  This wine is hard not to chug!

Gewürztraminer--meaning "spicy Traminer" where Traminer is the premier grape of Alsace and northern Germany, but has been crafted in a delightful way by a few vintners in North America.  North American varieties tend to be a bit sweeter than the Alsatian and German creations but done right, they are all wonderfully fresh quaffing wines great as an aperitif, or chilled down for a patio glass on a hot summer day. 

While you're at it, try St. Michelle's Riesling as well; you'll love it!

At the $10 price point I recommend you seek one out and give it a whirl. Raise a Glass!