Sunday, December 31, 2023

Il Borgo COLLINARE Nero d' Avola 2022

 


Medium garnet hue with aromas of baby powder, cherries, a touch of green herbs and savory spice.

Palate--Lively, bright spicy cherry laden first impression with a course acidity, and a bit of a biting finish. 

This is a Trader Joe's $7 offering and while Nero d'Avola is my favorite Sicilian grape, this is not thrilling even at $7. Mind you at $7 it is hard to find a potable quaff so I shouldn't complain but this grape has been a fave for years and it isn't fancy, or expensive and for the price or a couple bucks more, there are plenty of these wines easier to drink out there. For the price, give it a try, but...                

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Dreaming Tree Pinot Noir 2020


Light bright cherry hue with aromas  of brioche, menthol, licorice, and evergreen--Wow!

Palate--Talked about a relaxed first impression that begins to build as it sits on your palate... An elegant, seductive presentation yielding pronounced Pinot fruit of tart raspberry, and touches of cherry/berry with a finish that lingers giving off more gentle yet definite varietal fruit.

This is decidedly old world with the fruit hailing from France--where else? The bouquet is sensational, and the palate is unique because I am so used to domestic Pinot Noir. This is truly a lovely wine and at $14 (Sam's Club) it is a must buy!

I am going to be pairing it with homemade split pea soup and my guess is, it will be nice, may be even great!  Raise a glass!

Thursday, December 28, 2023

La Viña De AMAYA 2020

 

Intense deep purple hue with aromas of dark berries, pipe tobacco, blackberry pie, a touch of pie spices and floral overtones and a hint of savory spice.

Palate--silky structure with vibrant tannins, fruit forward big blackberry flavors with a mouth filling finish. Well made and will be amazing in another 2-3 years.

This Rioja red made with Tempranillo-- the signature grape of the Rioja, Spain and Garnacha (Grenache) which is a bright, fruity, cheerful grape sets this wine on a course of loveliness. What is hard to fathom is I paid $9 for this wine which I see selling for $25.  I am pairing it with leftover rib roast from Christmas and I know it will be glorious!  [And it was!]   Raise a glass!


Wednesday, December 27, 2023

The New Year's Toasting Beverages 2023

 


New Year's means drinking; sadly TOO much for many, but let moderation rule and you can enjoy the celebratory contribution of bubbly to the New Year's party.

 Bubbly takes all kinds of shapes, styles, quality and price tags. Many tend to use the word "Champagne" when what they mean is a sparkling wine. ie., carbonated. 

Champagne is a type of "Bubbly" that is grown and produced out of the Champagne region of France! All Champagne is "bubbly" but not all bubbly is Champagne. Candidly--Champagne is the best of the best of all bubbly's but comes with a price tag as well. And since few have the palate to appreciate the extra cost--which can run into the hundreds of dollars per bottle--you are throwing money away.

Sparkling wines will run in the area of $10 and up but no where the price of Champagne. If you ha e a Trader Joe's near you, they sell several bubblies which are down right drinkable and you will pay under $15 per bottle. 

Mumm's Napa Brut Prestige is probably my favorite for the price. But even that has escalated to over $20 a bottle....  

Spanish sparklers tend to be a pretty nice bargain. Called "CAVA" they are ubiquitous, fun a tasty. Price point $12-$18 

Korbel is a California sparkler and for the price is OK.

A couple to avoid--Barefoot Bubbly... Cook's 

If you have read this far--Search this blog for key words New Years, or bubbly, etc.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Lamarca Prosecco

 

Nearly clear hue with a hint of straw color with aromas of apple, peach and citrus.

Palate--A lackluster presentation with decent effervescence, clean fruit flavors and off dry meaning it is actually "dry" while tasting sweet. 

This Italian bubbly is not a "sweet" wine by definition.  Fruity wines are often confused for sweet wines which means they have residual sugar, meaning not all the sugar has been converted to alcohol via fermentation. This wine is ubiquitous, wildly popular but I am not a fan.  It is overpriced by half--especially in restaurants where you can pay the price for a glass that you would pay for a whole bottle retail.  But hey!  People like what they like.  From $15-$22 a bottle this is a pass in my book!

Monday, December 25, 2023

Ilex Daino 2019 (Terraine Siciliane)



Purple/Garnet hue with a big bouquet with aromas of cinnamon and cherry candy, spring bouquet of flowers, a nuance of orange peel at the end. Very nice!

Palate--Cherry berry front with forward savory spices, lip smacking tannins, and a nice line of acidity. Lingering finish!

This is still young and will benefit from another 2-5 years.  Nero D'Avola is the signature grape of Sicily and this is an elegant rendition. I was pressed to pair with my standing rib roast for Christmas and while I didn't want to open this as I just received it for Christmas and it is not the best pairing, I had no other reds ready to drink. We'll see how it goes with my roast. 

But the most important thing of this day is the celebration of the birth of the Savior of mankind. So I will focus on that and all my blessings which are too numerous to count.

This wine seems to run about $30 and I would say for the price you could find a Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon that would do better with my menu. But I give thanks and wish you a Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Chateau St. Michelle "Harvest Select"-- Sweet Riesling-- Columbia Valley 2022


Straw hue with aromas of wondrous summer melon, vanilla pudding, tropical fruit salad, and a citrus beam under all.

Palate--vibrant "*spritzig" on the palate, with well made sweet, but not cloying, tropical fruit melange, hints of mango, cantelope, and a finish that says "I want more!"

This is a brilliantly beautiful wine and sells for around $10. It is hard to stop drinking it. I have a ham in the oven right now and this will be my wine. This is great all by itself as an aperitif too. Put a chill on it and have plenty on hand and raise glass after glass!

*Spritzig--a German term for "sparkle" or what we might call a touch of carbonation.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

5 more days to the Christmas feast

 


Prime rib roast?  Turkey?  Lobster?  Asian cuisine? Vegetarian?

What to pair with what main course. Well, here's one axiom of wine pairing you may not realize. You pair more to the sauces and spices than you do the actual meat, seafood, or whatever. 

So again--here are rules of thumb.

Asian cuisine is one of the more difficult food to pair wine with but you will find that sweeter wines go very well with Asian dishes. They compliment the food rather than fighting with it.  *New world Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc do a nice job with those tricky, but delicious asian spices and they are affordable! 

*New world in this context means California, Oregon, Washington State primarily. The Finger Lakes (NY) also offer some nice "sweeter wines."

Beef roasts etc. are wonderful with Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Malbec, Rioja and many others.

Turkey (see Thanksgiving post for ideas) But even a decent Pinot Noir is nice with the varied flavors and structures of all the trimmings.

Lobster-  I live in Maine and a number of friends traditionally have lobster. Sauvignon Blanc, both old world and new world, high acidic white wines will cleanse that buttery coating off your palate refreshing it for another tasty mouthful of the ocean's premier offering.

Vegetarian--my son is a vegetarian and loves sparkling wines but particularly Champagne!  But here again , it is the sauces(s) you want to pair to with your wine selection. And if you are at a "real" wine store, they almost always have someone who knows wine and can be a great help to you. Just tell them your price point and you'll be all set! 

Ham--a salty ham needs a nice chilled, sweet white wine to make the perfect pairing.  Pretty much the same wines that go wtih Asian food work well with ham!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

19 Crimes Shiraz 2021


Lighter hue than the nearly black presentation I am used to from this intense grape!  Big ripe, black berry aromas dominate, a touch of sweet red berry and maynbe a tinge of dark chocolate. 

Palate--Bold front palate full of dark brooding blackberry flavors on a bed of sweet and savory spices with just a singular beam of blackberry pie.

Australia has one of the greatest Shiraz wines called the Grange by Penfolds. Current releases will run you around--sit down--$800!  That's not for a case, that's for ONE bottle! Rest assured I have NEVER and will never have the luxury of tasting such a wine.

This is not the best expression of Shiraz from Australia but it is a value at under $10. It pairs well with a thick grilled steak; prime rib or any number of bold dishes and cheeses. If you want to experience a hint of what this grape can do, go higher around the $40 price point and be wowed by this grape.  Raise a glass!




Saturday, December 16, 2023

La Vielle Ferme 2022


Light orange/pink hue with aromas of gentle tropical fruits with orange blossom notes.

Palate--Off dry fruitiness with nice acidity, tropical fruit flavors with a twinge of lime and grapefruit.

This line of wines has been a reliable and value wine for the past 2 decades I have been following their productions. They always run around $8 and are certainly worth grabbing even a case keeping it on hand for any number of occasions. Chill it down and Raise a glass!



Friday, December 15, 2023

Joseph Handler Riesling 2022

 

Pale straw, nearly clear, with aromas of melon, lime and sweet spices with vanilla.

Palate--Off dry first impression with a somewhat lethargic foundation. Flavors of green melon and tropical fruit are subdued which could be hampered by the temperature of the wine. Finishes very quickly with a lack luster overall profile.

 Riesling is one of my favorite white wine grapes and is the signature grape of Germany. This one hails from the "Pfalz" region bottled in blue glass which is a kind of signature of the region's wines. 

This is a Q.B.A. which is a German quality notation. It is essentially the beginning point of german wines and goes up from the there.  This is not a great example of the nature of Riesling but chill it down, it is tasty enough and economical. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Vignobles Lacheteau Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2021



Pale straw hue with aromas of sweet pie spices on a light bed of citrus, creme brulee, on top of a tropical fruit melange.

Palate--Vibrant acidity hosts a somewhat tepid presentation of muted, tropical fruit flavors and a solid beam of citrus.

I am tasting this chilled, and had it last night with homemade seafood chowder. It was an "OK" pairing but nothing special. I reviewed this wine back in June, and having just checked what I wrote then, and I like it better this time around then back in June. It does seem a bit more vibrant than in my initial review which could be a number of factors. At any rate, this Trader Joe's offering is OK for the money.

Monday, December 11, 2023

Bread & Butter Pinot Noir 2021


Questionable watery, watermelon juice-like hue with slight bricking at the rim.  Distinctive bouquet like that of a bathroom soap dish that no longer has soap in it and a slight pickle juice scent at the end.

Palate--Pleasant first impression with nice structure, some acidic longevity, with balanced delicate flavors of confused red fruit. Finishes better than its first presentation.

I paid $11 for this at Sam's Club today and was hoping for a bargain. No deal.  It's weird, it's awkward, it is drinkable but won't be getting anymore.

Thursday, December 07, 2023

Chateau La Tuilerie Du Puy 2020

 

Deep garnet hue with aromas of mild spice and cherry berry notes.

Palate--Tart, juicy, woody, harsh, awkward and lip smacking tannins.  No finish.

This "Vin De Bordeaux" is the lowest ranking in the Bordeaux scheme of labeling. Grand Vin De Bordeaux, and then the stellar--and expensive-- Grand Cru Classé.  My wife bought this for $12 and I am not thrilled with it, in fact I am not even drinking it.  

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Marquis De Colbert Utiel-Requena Reserva 2017

 

Garnet hue with some opacity and a nice bouquet of interesting red fruits, some dried, slik dried cranberry...

Palate--juicy tannins, with sharp edged red berry powder and awkward presentation.

I noted back in June that this wine was fading quickly and it that is what's going on with this bottle. This will be the last bottle of this I will get for that reason. I paid $7 for this wine which is silly for the kind of wine it is and the age etc. and it was well worth the chump change I laid out for it with no regrets. But it has run its coarse and we'll note the experience. 

Monday, December 04, 2023

Knock on Wood Chardonnay (Willamette Valley) 2021



Oregon Chard opens with a straw hue and aromas of sweet powdery melon, baking spices and a touch of citrus.

 Palate-A rigid beam of acidity that takes a moment in the mouth to come forth, lemony mid palate, *off dry pretty straight forward for an Oregon Chard.

*Off dry means it tastes SWEET when in fact it is bone dry meaning there is no residual sugar to be fermented. Off dry gives the impression it is sweet when it is FRUITY. 

This is a nicely made Chardonnay and paired wonderfully with my baked cod with parmesan laced spaetzle. I see it selling for up to $25 but I found it for $8 and of course wish i had bought more. At any rate, raise a glass! 

Saturday, December 02, 2023

Castle Rock Pinot Noir Monterey County 2020

Hue is a lovely crystalline cherry-red with aromas of sweet strawberry, ripe raspberry.

Palate--Vibrant fruit out of the gate with bold structure and loads of Pinot varietal fruit all over the palate. Juicy, sill a touch angular needing a little more time in bottle to reach its optimum.

Castle Rock makes numerous Pinot's from various AVA's and they are all, always value wines! They are reliable, juicy, tasty and classic Pinot Noir.  At the $10 price point, you just can't go wrong so raise a glass!



Le Fraghe Rodon 2022


A pink orange watermelon hue sets the gentle aromas of vanilla pudding with a citrus note with red rose petal notes and a hint of orange blossom.

Palate-- Tart first impression with a wildly acidic back bone, citrusy mid palate, red cherry/raspberry flavors and more juicy acidity. 

This is a lively creation with a robust-- slap you awake-- kind of presentation.  I love it!  I paid around $10 for this though ranges from at $10-$27. 

Pairs with a lot of foods due to its structure and vibrant profile; Raise a glass!

Christmas gift guidance for the wine lover in your life


Glasses of Red Wine in Front of Christmas Tree Stock Image - Image of ...
If there's a wine lover in your life it can be tough getting a meaningful gift for them. With nearly 50 years in the study of all things wine, here's the struggle: if you are NOT a wine enthusiast yourself, you may be led astray into the "cutesy," the novel, or the gimmicky trying to please your recipient. Let me help you not waste your money or embarrass your gift recipient.
 
Let's begin with what NOT to get. 

Consider wine related "doo-dads" that hang on a wall off limits.  Eg. a hangable meme stating "Life is too short to drink cheap wine." Don't do it, even calligraphy can't enhance such a "gift." 

Little stuffed toys holding wine themed signs, or a plush figures holding a corkscrew are off limits too. Custom made, carved wood signage with wine allusions or references are inane UNLESS they have meaningful significance. Eg. My wife had a friend make me a wood sign with the name "Ornellaia Del Cripini" on it.  It still hangs in my *"cellar" and was a wonderful surprise. At the time I had a very small vineyard in my yard from which I made 1-2 cases of wine from my own hand nurtured wine grapes.  I called my wine the name emblazoned on the sign! I love it! Most everything else--avoid with a couple exceptions.

1 Eg. I have a vintage poster from NAPA Valley back around the latter 70's. It is not only gorgeous but enologically meaningful. It too hangs in my cellar.

So let's look broadly at what TO get.

My first pick would be a wine aerator. I have had a Vinturi ($27 Amazon) for over a decade. There are numerous styles and price points and many are galmy, too big, and just too ostentatious. Mine cost under $20, it is held in your hand and wine is poured through it into your glass. They actually work! Avoid the ones that attach to the bottle, look like pot stills or something from Star Wars.

A very functional cork screw is a must and you are talking from $7 to $50.  (The expensive ones don't work any better than the cheaper ones. If you go this route, here is a MUST for a great wine cork. The leg of it, which hooks on the lip of the bottle needs to  be "articulated." This means the "leg" should be jointed in the middle. The purpose is so that when you are putting that hard to screw auger in a very dry and hard cork, you have to get that auger way down into the cork before you can pull the cork out using the little "leg." If it is articulated, you don't have to get that auger buried as deep into the cork making it much easier to extract even the toughest corks.

Wine glasses are a nice gift and should be clear!  Meaning NOT colored at all. They should have thin stems and you want what is typically known as a "Bordeaux" glass. These work well for all wines! But glasses get broken so you want a good quality glass as it truly does enhance the wine experience. I suggest you buy a single, VERY nice, higher end Riedel for the wine lover that will be HIS/HER own tasting glass. Everyone else can have decent glasses too but not the kind you loose your breath over when it tips over on the granite counter-top and breaks.  There are also wine glasses that are break resistant being made of glass and plastic. They feel good, they look good, and while they will break, they are much tougher than classical glass or crystal.  Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal are very nice.

Unscented dish soap-- Not sexy but if your recipient is a budding taster,  There is nothing worse than opening a lovely $45 wine and taking a first whiff of perfumy lemon scented soap. 

A wine aroma kit is wonderful but unless you make it yourself, it is cost prohibitive.. 

Wine books are good only if you know the wine lover likes to read and desires to learn more about wine.  The choices are myriad. But a "general" kind of book with nice pictures, are another nice gift.

Buying a special wine is always a good score and this is where "professional" help is very helpful. Go to a decent wine store and ask who their wine expert is. If they laugh, you're not in a good wine store. A real expert will ask you questions about how much you are thinking to spend and will try and get a feel for the level of hobby you are buying for. And do NOT be shy about saying "I don't want to spend more than $15 if that's what you are hoping.  (If you follow this blog-- which now has close to 1.5 million hits--I believe it is because I blog about the kinds of wine a "normal" person buys.  Sure I have been privileged to taste many extravagant wines but not that came out of my pocket.  :) 

If you are able to spend a couple to a few hundred dollars consider a wine refrigerator! I have one that holds maybe 30 bottles, keeping them at 55 degrees. I did not pay but a couple hundred bucks.

I will post more in the days ahead of New Years so check back! 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

El Castilla Syrah 2021

 

Lovely dark aubergine hue with aromas of a leading blast of cinnamon, chinese 5 spice, clove and dark berry.

Palate--Cinnamon on the first introduction to my palate, followed by rich, borroding black spiced fruit, with another layer of "sweet" goodness that I don't even have a descriptor for on hand. Finishes with more chinese five spice.

This may be the most unusual (and I mean this in a good way) Syrah I have ever had. It hails from Spain no less and may be my first one from Spain. It is seductive, enticing, and just plain good! 

I am pairing this with a grilled pork Loin and I think it will be awesome.  At $7.50  raise a case!

Gestos "Malbec + Malbec" 2021

Dark cherry hue with big aromas of black cherry and black berry pie, perfumy bouquet with lovely dark fruit everywhere in the bowl and perhaps a touch of baker's chocolate.

Savory spices on a bed of rich blackberry fruit and a hint of tart pie cherry.

This nice value wine from Trader Joe's is a lovely Malbec for the money. You can't go wrong at this price point as it is well made and structurally sound. 

I am grilling on charcoal a pork loin with spices and maybe some BBQ sauce at then end. At $9 grab this one and raise a glass.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Makers Mark Cabernet Sauvignon "Private Reserve" 2020

Decent, dark garnet hue with remnants of youthful purple.  Aromas of nice black berry, cherry chocolate bon bon hints, gentle savory spice, with a very nice touch of milk chocolate at the rim.

Palate--Nice first impression with a well made wine and decent grape stock from the Alexander Valley AVA. Finish lingers a bit and what's there is nice. There is a dense mid palate with sharp tannins and some acid. 

I grabbed a Sam's Club membership today as it has been years since I have darkened their doors. I was surprised at how many "bargains" their weren't.  Not just in the alcohol section but the whole store. Bidenomics is killing a once great country.  That being said, this was the only interesting thing I saw and thought I would try it because an Alexander Valley Cabernet should run around $18 and go up from there. 

For a $10 Cabernet, this is a very nice value.  I am pairing it with apple wood charcoal briquette grilled venison/bacon burgers.  Raise a glass. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Kiona "Lemberger" 2020


Light ruby hue looking like a Pinot Noir with aromas of dried cherry and tart pie cherries, a slight licorice notes.

Palate-- Watery mouth feel with pronounced fruit, tannic, juicy, slightly tart, bitter rear palate, possibly a hint of smoke with a touch of a lingering finish.

*Lemberger is the grape of this wine which is a new varietal I've not only never had, but never heard of. Its origins are the "Red Mountain" AVA (American Viticultural Area) which is another unheard of wine term. 

*Okay, after looking this up, Lemberger is a grape I AM familiar with which goes by "Blaufränkisch." This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, and a touch of Merlot.  There was care taken in producing this wine and a bold adventure to be sure. At $8 I am glad I grabbed it when I did. It will pair nicely with robust cheeses, tomato based dishes and tonight I am having it with Chicago style pizza. At this price point, raise a glass!

 

Friday, November 24, 2023

Fonseca Vintage Port 2007 (and a tale of woe...)

Nearly black hue to the rim with the first overwhelming aroma is that of WET CAR BOARD! Buried beneath the stench is lovely super rip plum, raisin and prune. 

Palate--Ultra rich, texture with gorgeous thick sweetness, with flavors of stewed prune, raisin, unsweetened chocolate and a lingering finish.

After waiting for 14 years to open this, it was quite disappointing to get a *"corked wine" on THIS wine when I experience cork taint SO rarely! Why this wine?  Never-the-less, I forced myself to get past the ugliness and enjoy what was there. 

*Now the tale of woe: I bought this vintage port on release in 2009 for around $80 and laid it down in my temperature controlled wine fridge. "Vintage port" needs to be cellared for a long time, some up to 40 years or more.There it sat until last night for an after Thanksgiving surprise.  On opening and my first smell was the gross mildew nastiness of a damp basement with cardboard boxes that are beginning to rot. So what happened? Cork taint is what happened... It occurs when contaminated cork is inserted into a bottle. It is not "common" but neither is it "rare." Industry types assert that 15% of cork finished wines have cork taint.  That number is grossly over-stated in my 40 years of experience.  After drinking over many thousands of bottles of wine I would say cork taint is more like 2-3%. At any rate--it was enough to propel the controversial use of screw tops which commenced about 15 years ago perhaps more. 

In spite of this, in the grand scheme of things, this is a mere nuisance and I am blessed far more than I ever deserve.  Now let's head into the season of Christmas! 

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Esprit De Fonrozay "Grand Vin De Bordeaux" 2020


Lighter than expected garbet hue with aromas of dried red raspberry, ash, tart cranberry notes, intriguing aromas as it's warming up. Fresh fruit burst at the rim of cherry cream bon bons and a perfumy edge away from the glass..

Palate--Tart first impression, with medium, thickish mouth feel. It is tightly wound and needs to breathe. This is a lip smacking youthful Bordeaux that is well crafted and will bring rewards for laying it down for another 3-5 years. *I am pairing this value wine ($9) with my turkey dinner being thankful for the bountiful blessings of salvation by grace through our Lord Jesus Christ. Raise a glass! 

*This wine is too young to enjoy right now. Another 2 years at least...

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Thanksgiving wines!

 

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!

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Promesses De France Cotes Du Rhone 2020

Dark red hue with some intensity and youthful purple. Bouquet is full of medium dark berries with white pepper at the edge and a touch of menthol. It needs to breathe. (With some air, it yields more goodness and is yielding some bright fresh sweet red berry goodness with spices.)

Palate-- Mouth watering tannins, bright acidity, fruit is a bit tight--again needs to breathe--but there is some nice structure here and a very nice Classic GSM profile as Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre (I am assuming by the profile) is the classic Rhone blend. 

*After checking it is indeed a GSM blend and is very well done for the ridiculous price of about $10.

I see some "community reviews" of this wine giving it an average of 84.5 points. That's pretty tough grading. This is a value Cotes Du Rhone and is worth looking to snag if your see one. I am pairing it tonight with homemade beef stew and it will be great so raise a glass!

Friday, November 17, 2023

Georges Duboeuf "*Beaujolais Nouveau" 2023

A beautiful garnet with opaque rose-pink tints at the rim when illuminated from able. Aromas of classic Gamay with touches of spiced apple rings, pear, and sweet baking spices, chocolate covered cherries.

Palate--Slightly tart first impression and a lite hint of "sparkle" which is wonderful finishing with a gentle touch of fresh ground black pepper.

*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.

This Nouveau is remarkable in two ways: 1. It is far and away much better than the same production last year which I noted was fit for pouring down the drain. 2. It is also much more expensive this year than last year's offering. $12 last year to $15 this year... That is pushing the limits of he desirability of this wine. 

If it wasn't for the "Tradition" of France's Nouveau celebration this wine--at this price--wouldn't make it off too many shelves. At it's best it is an uncomplicated, fresh, lively and fun quaff. If it goes any higher next year, I will probably pass on it.  For this year? Raise a glass and enjoy it for what it is.!

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Mark West Pinot Noir 2021

 


Light, bright, happy "spring fruit" with a sweet, beautiful bouquet of spiced apples on a hue of crystalline garnet.

Palate--Sweet with red berries, strawberry, spice, mild beam of cocoa. finishing with a hint of smoke.

This  "sourced" Pinot from California is usually a reliable quaff at the $10 price point. It is at its best when slightly chilled.  This will pair with all kinds of cheeses and dishes as long as they tend to be on gentler side of the "taste spectrum."

Pinot Noir is such an iconic grape I would suggest you splurge and look for an Oregon or regional California Pinot at the $15 and up price point. The slight difference in cost may pay off big dividends.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Cecilia Beretta {Freeda} Rosé Trevenezie 2022


Orangeish, pinkish, golden hue with lovely aromas of white grapefruit, pomegranate, and hints of citrus.

Palate--Juicy profile with mouth watering acidity, off dry sweet/sour, with lip smacking structure and a crisp finish with more grapefruit. 

This is one of the most intriguing Rosés I have had in ages. I am making cod with a creamy Spaetzle and tomato sauce. At the $10 price point this is a rosé to be on the lookout for as it is far and away the rest of myriad plonk seems to be overtaking the market once again. Raise a glass!

Monday, November 13, 2023

Western Edge "Red Blend" 2017 (Columbia Valley)

 


Dark purple nearly black with aromas of jammy fruit, black berries, plum, a touch of prune, a hint of wood.

Palate--Relaxed tannins with a big fruit bomby front but loaded with all kinds of juicy, mouth watering rich ripe dark berries and other savory fruit.

Purchased at a N.H. Liquor store on sale for around $8 I believe and this is a big wine that drinks easily. It has a fleeting finish but is a nice accompaniment to the pizza I have going right now in the oven from Chicago--deep dish of course.   This drinks nicely all by itself if you are a fan of this style--which I am...

I am unable to find a single reference on line for this wine which is odd. At any rate, raise a glass!

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Rioja Burgo Viejo 2019

Purple/garnet hue with aromas flowing far from the glass of sweet lovely red berry fruit, and savory spice.  In the bowl, nice sweet and savory spices overall, with compelling nuances of mixed berry compote and a hint of cola.

Palate-- Nice first impression of well made, structured, artful presentation of Tempranillo the signature grape of the Rioja (Spain). Finishes surprisingly quickly for the robustness of the initial taste. 

This is a juicy, flavorful lovely Rioja begging to be sipped one mouthful after another.  The Wine Enthusiast gave this wine a crazy low score of 84 points out of 100.  James Suckling gives it a 91. I am more in the camp of Mr. Suckling.  

At around $10-$17 this Rioja is a good example of the region's wine. I am attempting to pair it with a hot-ish spiced (Ancho chili powder) charcoal grilled chicken. *I am not certain..... I'll let you know! Raise a glass. 

*It paired quite well!


Friday, November 03, 2023

Alta Alella "PB" 2019


Very light golden hue with aromas of green melon before the swirl for after the swirl it is a different profile. Lemon and vanilla notes; *fresh laundry just out of the washer. (smells like our detergent.)

Palate--Razor sharp acidity is what smacks you out of the gate. Quince, and bitter almond hints with juicy lemon and vanilla with a fleeting Finish.

I LOVE a big acidic white but this is a bit over the top. It does mellow out once you have had a few tastes of it. The Xarello (pronounced--Sharello) grape is the first time I have had a Spanish wine as a varietal.  It has been a blending grape in some Spanish Cavas. I paid $15 for this and I admit the classy label and particularly the name of the wine is what grabbed me. I was a pastor for 40 years and went by the moniker of "PB" so I kinda had to buy this.  The Wine Enthusiast gave this an 88 point rating which I believe is generous.

The jury is still out on this one.  I will be pairing it with homemade chicken pot pie. We'll see if it gets redeemed.

*First time i have used this aromas comparison in 40 years of wine tasting. LOL

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Alexander Valley Vineyards Chardonnay (Alexander Valley--Sonoma) 2017

 

Slight amber hue with a spectacular golden hue from age accompanied by aromas of burnt orange, fresh notes of tangerine, hints of caramel.

Palate-- Previously reviewed back in April, I opened my last bottle tonight. Still lively though with muted fruit, lively acidity, a citrus beam still prevalent, and actually quite enjoyable even more so than the other 2 or 3 bottles I reviewed previously.  

I paid $15 for this Sonoma Chard and the first bottle was "ok" as was the 2nd and third.  This one was really quite amazing and a value at $15 for the 375ml (a full bottle is 750ml).  Aged wines--and while this isn't all that old, most wines are not made to "age!"  In fact most aged wines are pretty crappy.  But this one is appropriately priced and in my estimation is a value that I was even able to find a few. 

Would be great with buttery sauces, lobster, French onion tart--which is what I had it with a moment ago and it was perfect. If you manage to find one, grab it and expand your horizons and raise a glass.  

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Bogle Petite Sirah 2020

Classic inky, intense purple--nearly black--hue with aromas of big fruit above the rim-- dark plum, a touch of cigar ash,  and more as it opens

*Palate--Silky texture with lovely immense, ripe mouth filling dark dark berry flavors, lip smacking tannins,  warm, lingering finish with more dark berry pie on the end.

This wine runs around $10 normally but is $8 on sale at my local super market and I will be buying more. Petite Sirah is such an unknown grape variety to most people that this kind of wine just sits around which means a great opportunity for us!  It is a wonderfully big fruit bomb of a wine but Bogle structures their wines well and this will be great all by itself, with robust cheeses, or with a big grilled steak or even grilled venison which I will be cooking tonight.

BTW--it was wonderful with my venison! All and all this wine will be drinking well for the next 8 years! So raise a glass!

*I just read another review which panned this wine. I didn't even recognize a single portion of the person's review. It may be they don't know wine, or it may be they just do not like this particular type of profile in a wine. This is why it is important to follow several reviewers and when you try some the wines reviewed, see which one you tend to agree with after experiencing the particular wines reviewed. Then you know you can buy a wine with some confidence that you'll not be disappointed.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Corvelia Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 21

Very nice garnet/purple hue solid to the rim with aromas of blackberry cream cordials, slightest hint of eucalyptus with light touch of savory spices on the edge.

Palate--Nicely made with standup blackberry fruit with savory touches and a light finish of the lovely blackberry beam.

This is a great value Cabernet that actually tastes like the varietal which is unusual for a Cab at the $10 price point. I have reviewed three other vintages of this wine each one nuanced a touch differently but each one just a stellar value. A trader Joe's bargain so raise a glass!

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County 2018

 

Nice dark, aubergine hue with aromas of dark black berry, a hint of raisin, a touch of mint and smoke.    

Palate-- Mellow structure with relaxed tannins, stewed prune in a flash, tar, currant, and a lingering finish.I paid $16 for this Sonoma Cab and it's pretty decent but not remarkable. 

I grabbed this evening while grabbing a rib eye to grill since the restaurant my wife and I were going to was closed because of a shooter who has killed 18-20 people last night and is still on the run. So my little disappointments are nothing compared to the people whose lives have been changed because of madman. So I pray for the victims and the sorrow and comfort that only the Lord Almighty can bring at such times. So grab your loved ones, tell them how much you love them and count your blessings!

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Les Portes de Bordeaux "Bordeaux" 2022

 

Nearly cola colored hue with nice bouquet of crushed dried red berries, and cola on the edge.

Palate--Unpleasant first impression but big flavors of red fruit, young tannins, and a lingering finish that is beyond expectations for this cheap Bordeaux.

A Trader Joe's wine this Bordeaux cost $7.50 and how can you go wrong at that price point?  Well actually you good but this isn't the case here. It is a bit stern and lacks finesse but is a serious wine that should pair well with robust foods and cheeses.  Not the best "all by itself" wine but should be great with my grilled Chicken thighs.  If it turns out differently, you will read it here!  Raise a glass.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Bosman Family Vineyards "Generation 8" Shiraz 2020

 


A much lighter crimson hue than what one would expect from a Shiraz with a very slight brownish tinge to it supporting aromas of fresh berry fruit laying on top of aged fruit, sweet and savory gentle spicing, lovely floral notes, a suggestion of menthol, and a blast of dark cocoa taffy on the end.        

Palate--a bit thin in texture for my expectation of Shiraz, there's alot going on here, and a bit confusing. I am going to let it breathe more and we'll see.  This is a wine with robust structure, able to accompany a variety of dishes, or enjoyed all by itself. Definitely not at all like the fruit bombs I have come to expect from other parts of the "new world."  

This South African creation is unique, pleasant, crafted with care but just not what I expect from Shiraz.  That is not a negative!  It is just the reality of the creativity of vintners.  At the $15 price point I would give it a shot, but probably not my cup of tea; I mean wine. Raise a glass!

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Villa Borghetti Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2022

 


Nearly clear with aromas of citrus, Lime notes, sweet vanilla at the rim.

Palate-- Vibrant acidity leads off the first impression of this mouth filling lemon/lime Pinot Grigio with ultra tart green apple nuances to the rear.

I had planned this wine for a dinner a couple nights ago where the base dish was a home-made squash soup but I knew it was not going to work so I screwed the cap back on immediately and refrigerated it.  Not a recommended protocol but it worked well.  Tonight this wine was perfect with our steamer clams and Maine lobster. 

I don't remember what I paid for it gut I believe it was probably $8 if not less.  At this price, serve it chilled with creamy, buttery sauced dishes, and raise a glass!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

M. Chevallier Carte Noire Brut Cava *(NV)


Yellow/golden hue with aromas of cinnamon, creamy butterscotch, and a touch of lemon.    

Palate--Unremarkable first impression with very little taste, but the pin prick bubbles are quite nice in mouth feel and appearance. What flavor is there is subtle with light notions of apple, and cream.

This is a Trader Joe's perennial at a budget level price of around $8 and if you ice it down enough it will be a fresh palate cleanser with greasy foods, and/or harder to pair foods like the Polish sausage I am having with it tonight. If you're on a budget--and who isn't these days-- $8 raise a glass.


*NV means Non Vintage--meaning it is made from grapes sourced from various years' productions.

Monday, October 16, 2023

Marqués De Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Finca La Moura 2020

 


Very nice dark purple/garnet hue with aromas of tightly wound red fruit with tightly wound spices and ash. (Obviously needs to be breathed!) After some air--tart pie cherries emerge. 

Palate-Scintillating mouth feel on opening with a near "sparkling" effect but is from the vibrant structure rather than actual bubbles. (Unique)  Big flavor profile but again needs time to open up and reveal all what is there.  With air it is full of lovely cherry and red berries with a nice beam of food friendly acid. Finishes very quickly!

This previously reviewed value wine has a lot going for it but has just been opened and needs time to let itself go. This is a single vineyard Cabernet from Spain...

I paid $9 for this normally found around $15.  I paired it with with my carbonara and it was lovely so raise a glass!


Saturday, October 14, 2023

Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel 2021


Nice deeper garnet hue with aromas of cola (that's a new nuance) licorice, and spicy big fruit.

Palate--Good first impression with a load of rich berries, brooding flavors of more dark berries, and lip smacking structure.

This oft reviewed Zinfandel--albeit a different vintage-- is a reliable production and if you love Zinfandel it can be found very reasonably for $8.00-$12.00. I buy it when it's at the lower range.

Tonight I make my wonderful Venison chili and the spices of toasted cumin, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, garlic and onion works very well with this nice wine so raise a glass!

Thursday, October 12, 2023

GPV Grady Family Vineyards Petite Sirah (Lodi) 2019


 

Inky dark, nearly black hue with aromas of licorice, eucalyptus, rose blossom above the rim, espresso, and more!

Palate--Hefty profile with thick texture, deep brooding rich dark fruit, tar, and this is all on opening. I wonder what breathing will do!

I bought this at a nice wine shop in our area for $17.00. It is the best and most complex wine I have had in a long time since I tend to stay around the $10 price point for my wines.  This wine, at this price is a powerhouse treat and great value that some will not appreciate as it is a 20 megaton fruit bomb--my term for the style. Snobs tend to prefer the more austere, food friendly old world wines which need 10 years or more to really appreciate. Don't get me wrong; I do as well, but being retired now I have be a bit more frugal. 

When this wine warms up a bit from my cellar temp (55 degrees) and has had time to breathe, it should yield more delight. I will be pairing it with grilled lamb chops.  If you're interested, this wine could improve over the 10 years so raise a glass and if you can, lay a couple down for the future. 

Monday, October 09, 2023

Wente Cabernet Sauvignon (Southern Hills) 2020

Nice dark garnet hue with aromas of cranberry and pomegranate, red berries, and gentle spice.  

Palate--First impression--tannins dry as dust, decent fruit, prominent classy fruit, with a finish that lingers mite.

The Southern Hills *AVA is a Central coast (California) grape growing region. I paid $13 frpo this wine listed at $17.  It is an "OK" cab especially at the $13 price point and Wente has a special place in my heart as I cut my teeth over 40 years ago on Wente wines.

I will pair this with charcoal grilled "short cut" steak. 

*AVA = American Viticultural Area--which has been granted "special" recognition for its grape's quality and character and must meet certain standards to claim the AVA classification..   Raise a glass!

The Wine Enthusiast rated this a 90 point wine. That's a leap although 88 would be more appropriate!

Pairing with my charcoal grilled short cut steak so raise a glass!

Saturday, October 07, 2023

Giardano Pinot Grigio delle Venezie Rosé 2021

The classic "blush" hue (a hint of pink) in this sparkler with aromas of gentle pink grapefruit with a musty edge, a light hint of cinnamon red hot candies, and bright cherry.

Palate--Lively sparkle tingles tha palate giving a lively sensation which can only help this generally lack luster grape.  Presents with an off-dry fruitiness and a surprising hint of *structure. Is generally pleasant, with very light pear fruit. Finishes very quickly on the palate.

Prosecco, White Zinfandel and Pinot Grigio tend to be much favored wines at the local restaurant especially among the feminine gender.  This is unfortunate as they tend to be *poorly made wines overall, lacking anything worth their price especially at the routine, insanely marked up prices at restaurants. At many restaurants a single glass of one of these costs you almost as much as you can buy a bottle for at your local supermarket. But they are easy to drink, and relatively low in alcohol.  That being said I actually like this one!  It seems conscientiously vinified with an air of pride.  

I will be pairing this with my wife's homemade chicken chili soup and it will be a perfect pairing foil to the hot peppers in the soup.  At Trader Joe's for around $7 it is a definite buy again kind of wine! Raise a glass!

Friday, October 06, 2023

Cecilia Beretta Valpolicella "Ripasso" Superiore 2021

 

Pretty garnet hue with aromas with floral notes, touches citrusy red fruit, sweet cherry above the rim.         

Palate--Juicy, mouth watering structure with spicy fresh fruit and a nice food friendly structure. Finishes fairly quick but all around a winner.

I paid $12 for this very nice Valpolicella.  Ripasso is a method of wine making wherein grapes that have been semi-dried are used in making a wine called "Amarone" and is pricey and delicious.  Those grapes once used are then used again to make "Ripasso."  They are distinctive, and some of my favorite Italian wines.  

You really should seek some of the se out and give them a try. They are easy to like and are very food friendly so raise a glass!

Monday, October 02, 2023

Embroidery Zinfandel (Paso Robles) 2021

 

A lighter pour than expected but somewhat irrelevant. A gentle presentation of Zinfandel fruit with touches of briars and ripe berries.    

Palate--Mouth filling flavors and body with robust Zinfandel fruit that is classic, voluptuous and large and finishes rather quickly.  

I don';t remember what I paid for this but it was about $12. It specs out for more than that but it is a nice Zin and full bodied. I like it, so raise a glass!

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Hook or Crook 2018 Reserve Old Vine Zinfandel

 

Deeper magenta hue with big time cigar ash aromas consisting of rustic of dark berries, hints of red grapefruit, and a touch of daffodil.

Palate--Youthful zippiness and clean, first impression with well structured big time dark berry fruit and a blast of smoke and wood. 

You can find this for about $12 and it is a very nice expression of my favorite grape--Zinfandel!  This Lodi creation is very well made and a bargain at the $12 price point so raise a glass!

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Belhara Estate Single Vineyard Malbec 2021


Deep dark purple nearly black hue with aromas of ripe plum, luscious sweet black berry, sweet smoked dark berry fruit, 

Palate--Incredibly intense, dense flavors of rich, ripe dark berry fruit with tar, rich sweet spice, textured thick structure, and a finish that won't stop.

Another Trader Joe's show -topper at $10 that will blow your socks off! I only bought one bottle but will definitely be buying MANY more!   Raise a glass!  

Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Restaurant Wine Menu Challenge


Hints for an upscale restaurant with a voluminous wine list:

The wine "catalogue" is brought to your table and your first thought is, "Is there a Cliff's Notes version of this encyclopedia of fruit of the vine? You pass trying to figure it all out by choosing a $10 glass of wine you "think" you may have heard of.

Trying to keep this brief but meaningful here are some rules of thumb:

1. decide--if you can--whether you might want, red, white, rosé or sparkling.

2.  If you have a preference for a particular country, look for such a highlight. 

                                    --You're narrowing the mysteries down--

3.  *In a list of wines, the better "value" wines tend to be listed in the middle!

                        --Better value means the markup is less than on other wines.--

4.  I have found that most "nicer" restaurants that have a "designated wine person" are excited to make a recommendation for you base on what you tell them. Be honest about your wine IQ, tell them your price range (speaking of by the bottle here) and I have always been impressed how well they do! 

Hints for a routine, limited wine list in a "normal" restaurant:  

Look at the price of your wine by the bottle versus by the glass (if offered).  Wine by the glass is PRICEY! A bottle (750ml) of wine yields 5- 4 ounce pours        or 4-5 ounce pours. So if you are planning to have two glasses of wine each for you and your company, do the math!  A $32 bottle of wine, is cheaper than buying 4 glasses of the same wine for $9 a glass.

Another rule of thumb is that a bottle of wine that costs double what you could buy the wine for in a store is a pretty decent value! Restaurants make big money off their alcohol sales sometimes pushing their markup to 150% over retail.  

Needless to say, I rarely buy wine when I go out to eat. I can't stand being gouged, paying for 1 glass of wine for what I KNOW I could buy the whole bottle for from my local supermarket!