Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Chateau De L'eClair "Beaujolais Villages" 2020


Surprisingly intense dark eggplant hue with aromas of the classy Gamay Beaujolais grape with suggestions of strawberry, fresh grape, and gentle spicing.

Palate--Surprisingly robust on the palate with lovely fruit filled freshness of sweet raspberry, strawberry and even a gentle tannic presence.

Gamy is a simple yet lovely grape yielding Summer joy and and a guzzling kind of quality.  It pairs well with lighter cheeses, poultry, and I am pairing it with grilled pork chops tonight. At $7, I again hope to snag more of it so raise a glass!

Barone Albergotti Toscana Rosso 2015

This lovely 8 year old Tuscan Red wine has a magnificently fresh bouquet that I just kept enjoying without even touching the glass. It pours with slight bricking at the rim with a deep plum hue.  Loads of fresh fruit that has a purity to it I haven't smelled in a long time and unexpected for Sangiovese. Fresh daffodil with a floral bouquet of both flowers and fruit. Very nice!    

Palate-- A polished if subdued first impression but flavors emerge while holding in the mouth. Lovely Sangiovese with Tuscan spcieness, cherry mid palate and a nicely integrated profile with a smoky finish.

I paid $10 for this when it runs around $18 so I grabbed it because it was cheap for a Tuscan with 8 years on it. I am hoping I can get more. Pairing it tonight with a pasta and venison creation in a tomato based sauce.  Should be great so raise a glass!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Ca' Storica Amarone della Valpolicella 2019


A slightly amber rim on the pour with aromas of seductive, cherry, blackberry, rose petal, and violette.

Palate--Wonderfully textured with a lively presence on the tongue with flavors of sweet and sour cherries like a well made raspberry/cherry pie. It finishes with a lovely reminder of why you took the first sip and want another and another.

I LOVE AMARONE!  It is made from partially dried grapes concentrating the lovely qualities of the grapes and when done well, is exquisite. Because of the process the yields tend to be less than a regularly vinified wine so it tends to be a bit more expensive.  Good Amarones can be pricey but I paid $16 for this one and it is fabulous even if on the simple side.  Treat yourself, and see another delightful wine without having to take out a second mortgage on your home.  Raise a glass!

Gaetano D'Aquino Chianti Riserva 2018

Garnet hue with the slightest bricking with nice aromas far from the glass of sweet cherry,  spring bloom daffodils, and dried fruit in the bowl.

Palate--Integrated, well made, classic Chianti, lip smacking tannins and bright acidity. Tuscan terroir with dried cherry nuances, a hint of fresh cherry and spice.

This is a perennial Trader Joe's offering and I used to consume this by the case. I had so much of it, I just got tired of it so it has been quite a few years since I last had one. So I grabbed one this past week. It is as I remembered it! A super value wine, with Tuscan terroir, and just well made.  For a wine of this quality at this price point--$7-- is crazy.  Serve it with italian fare, or any red sauce dish with tomatoes and raise a glass! 

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Member's Mark Zinfandel (Old Vine) 'Lodi' 2020

Pours with a slightly garnet/purple hue with aromas of nice Zin fruit with a touch of sweet spices, violets and blackberry jam.

Palate--Surprisingly "sweet" first impression but comes off with a mouth watering acidity which means really fruity because at 14.5% alcohol, this is bone dry! It's mouth watering juiciness makes it an easy quaf, even if finishing with a really quick raspberry ending. 

This Zin is sourced from the Lodi (California) [AVA] vines for Sam's Club and sells for around $8. At this price point, it is a party kind of wine and will drink well all by itself or with your favorite (charcoal) BBQ'd meats. 

Zinfandel is an underrated grape which makes it a great value for those of us who just flat out LOVE Zinfandel. This particular Zin is a first for me and it's a keeper so raise a glass! 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Rain Cloud "Red Wine" California 2020


Dark purple pour with nice "fruit bomby" aromas of deep rich dark berry fruit, enticing blackberry and ripe plum. 

Palate--Nice first impression made  for the popular palate, with big flavors if blueberry pie, dark chocolate, blackberry jam, rich textured structure that finishes with a lasting super fruity finish. 

I am guessing this sourced California red wine is a blend of Zinfandel and Syrah or Petite Sirah, and maybe Petite Verdot.  After checking: Turns out to be Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Syrah. Not a bad ID since the Cab. Sauv. is eclipsed by the fruity Shiraz/Syrah, and Zinfandel. And I do not know the percentages of each in the blend.

This will suit the popular-palate wine lovers who enjoy a fruit bomb as I do on the right occasion which it is; celebrating Spring in Maine with charcoal grilled BBQ Chicken.  At $10, raise a glass! 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Columbia Crest "Grand Estates" (Washington State) Cabernet Sauvignon 2020


On opening, pours with an already aged hue for this young wine. Bouquet is quite nice with a warm bowl full of red berries with some skilled aging and with some fresher aromas of cherry/berry fruit.

Palate--First impression is nice with a structured presentation, with a perky, mouth full of red berries with a touch of raspberry fruit that needs time to kiss the air and allow what's there to rise up. (I just opened this 5 minutes before these remarks and will *review it after a couple hours as well.)  

*This is still pretty tight three hours later but mostly due to it's youthfulness in the bottle.  This is a decent inexpensive Cabernet and will only get better over the next 2-3 years but is enjoyable right now so Raise a Glass!

This is a $10 offering from Columbia Crest winery blended with small amounts of Syrah and Merlot. C.C. has a well established reputation for solid, value wines at the $10-$15 price point. I can't say I have ever been disappointed in several decades of experience with these wines. 

The "Washington State" on the label tells us the grapes were sourced (taken from) a variety of vineyards from various vineyards in the state.  As mentioned in other posts, the more focused the parcel from which the grapes are sourced the higher the quality of wine (and price) the wines will be. (There are however many exceptions to this rule.) So for example, if the label had said "Horse Heaven Hills" that tells you the grapes came from vineyards in that specific AVA (**American Viticultural Area).

**AVA is a legally, denoted area based on many rules/laws pertaining to quality and geological qualities of the different areas. This is true of wines all over the country and even the world however they have different terms etc. for them.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Ornelia Del Cripini Sparkling Apple 2022

Ornelia Del Cripini is my own home-made sparkling apple wine.  

I am hesitant to call something "wine" that is not made from grapes and I do not do "fruit wine" reviews. But THIS happens to be my own creation. After attempting to make Marechel Foch with my own home grown grapes over a decade with pathetic results (strictly a hobby) I abandoned my vineyard and switched to making apple wine because apples were abundantly available for free. 

As it turned out, it is actually a very fresh, bright, super fruity wine that tastes like--wait for it--APPLES!

I put it through a double fermentation to raise the alcohol content and then put it through a 3rd fermentation in the bottle patterned after the "Methode De Champenoise" method of the great Champagnes from Champagne France. 

This is strictly for private use and I reviewed it just for fun! I am raising a glass tonight pairing it with a salty "boiled dinner" for St. Patrick's Day! Happy St. Patty's Day to all you Irish out there! 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Belles Vignes Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Straw hue with big aromas of sweet new mown grass, a citrusy lime suggestion, and vanilla pudding.

Palate-- First impression is steely, mouth wateringly juicy, and dry with classic grassy S. Blanc mid palate. Lingers on the palate a bit with a creamy textured finish.

I was a bit surprised (pleasantly) at the pronounced "grassy" presence as I generally associate this profile with American (California) Sauvignon Blancs. This French S. Blanc is well made and delightful.

It has been awhile since I reviewed this grape and it used to be my preferred "go-to" white wine for a number of seafood soups, and stews. This one is just a great value at $7 from Trader Joe's so raise a glass!

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Fior di Vino Chianti Classico Riserva 2018


Lightly turning magenta hue showing its first sign of age with aromas of violets, cherries, and cherry hard candies.

Palate-- Mouth watering tannic structure with solid acidity and showing off the classic Chianti "cherry" profile of Sangiovese--the grape. Finishes a bit stern but quite lovely with pizza! 

Another Trader Joe's offering for $8 and would buy another to have with any tomato based pasta dish so raise a glass!

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Emma Reichart Riesling 2021

Straw hue with aromas of mango, citrus, and a hint of vanilla.    

Palate-- Tart first impression with subdued fruit. Nice acidic beam with a citrusy and juicy middle.

This previously reviewed Trader Joe's offering is a very inexpensive Riesling ($7)  but has been quite enjoyable in the past.  The last two bottles I have had have been less than expected based on the past. I think I will not be getting anymore of this vintage so I would let it pass!

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

What is Port wine?


Port wine gets a bad wrap! What's worse, is that some people I know have bought "Port" wine when in actuality they weren't buying real port wine at all.  So as briefly as I can make it, "Real" Port wine is a "fortified" wine which I will explain in a second, that must come from Portugal!  So anything you might see in your grocery store where the label says PORT but is from any country other than Portugal  is not actually port wine. Real Port wine will often be labeled "Porto" or "Oporto" and originate from the Douro region of Portugal.  But there are exceptions.

So what is it and what makes it so different? When the port wine grapes are being fermented the maker stops the fermentation BEFORE all the sugar from the fruit is converted to alcohol. In order to do this, the wine maker adds a high alcoholic liquid--usually brandy-- which kills the yeast which is gobbling up the sugar producing alcohol. With the yeast killed the residual sugar from the grapes remains yielding a very sweet wine. And because the brandy used to stop fermentation is high in alcohol, port wines are also higher in alcohol than a normal red wine, sometimes up to 22% alcohol.

In an exceptional growing year, a "vintage" is declared and makers may produce "Vintage Port."  Vintage Port" is the highest quality of port there is and can run starting in the $25 range on release and just goes north from there. As a port ages, and Vintage ports need many years to reach their peak, can run well over $100 a bottle. And oh what an ethereal treat a good port is. Silky textured, immense, big bold, juicy flavors and while very sweet, the high alcohol, tannins, and acid make it an absolute delight to drink.

But well made ports in the $20 range are delightful as well and "Late Bottled Vintage port" (not to be confused with "Vintage Port") can be seductive, round, velvety, and spectacular in the $20-$35 range. What to serve with Ports?  Blue cheese, Stilton, salty big cheeses, dark chocolate, flourless chocolate tarts, and really anything strong and sweet.  But there are few things better than Port all by itself. Just make sure it is the real deal and raise a glass!

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Porto Morgado "Ruby Port"

This may be a Trader Joe's exclusive. I have been buying this value "Port" for years and have never been disappointed.  A bouquet of currants, ripe sun dried raisins and prunes are the routine aromas of this *"fortified" wine from Portugal.

Palate-Super sweet but nicely acidic to carry such intensity without being cloying. Intense raisiny, pruney front palate with loads of baker's chocolate, dried fruit and a decent texture for such an inexpensive Port.

At $6, this ruby Port is a fantastic accompaniment by itself or even more so with a variety of chocolates but my fave is DARK chocolate and makes you keep drinking and eating. At such an affordable price point, ($6) RAISE A GLASS! 

Monday, March 06, 2023

Rosa Dell Olmo Barbera D'Asti 2021


Simple purple hue with aromas of Bubble gum (seriously) crushed fresh grape with dried grapes, a sweet yet savory touch of spices, ruby red grapefruit!

Palate--unremarkable first impression, tannis, steely, angular, tightly wound with all the wonderful aromas in the bouquet rather lost on the palate.

This has been open for at least a half hour and if it's this austere at this point it may not ever come around. The bouquet is the best part of the wine at this stage but I will update when it has more time to open and dinner (tortellini's with an invented sauce by me).  Stay tuned...

Okay, actually this wine was another "value" food wine that was very nice with my tortellini. For $6 you really can't beat this. Just make sure you serve it with something friendly to an acidic, italian wine and then "raise a glass!"

Friday, March 03, 2023

Schloss Biebrich (Trocken)


Very pale straw hue with aromas of Lime, sweet spring flowers, orange blossom

Palate--Fine bubbles on the palate, decent structure, pleasant fruity mid palate, and a finish that is quick but satisfying.

This is a Trader Joe's wine for around $6 and it can't be bit for the price.  It is structured, fruity and pleasant. I have sparklers for many more times that price I didn't enjoy as much.  I am pairing it with Chinese take out and it will be great so raise a glass!

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Domaine De Argentine "Terroir Selection" Malbec 2021


With a hue of jellied cranberry sauce, the aromas of ripe plum, a suggestion of eucalyptus or mint and blackberry jelly.

Palate--Forthright first impression with a tannic backbone, dark fruit, a bit chunky, and needs to breathe.  Considering the price point of this wine, it is drinkable with a tomato based pasta, three cheese raviolis which I will be serving tonight but it is a bit hard to drink by itself. It finishes quickly but should be OK with dinner. 

This may be a Trader Joe's exclusive and at $5 it's worth a try. I won't be going back to it, but I'm glad I grabbed one.


Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Vignobles Lacheteau 'VOUVRAY" 2021

Crystalline straw hue with aromas of sweet tropical fruits, lime hints, a touch of cinnamon, and a nuance of baking spices.

Palate-An absolute explosion of a tropical fruit melange with sweet lime, ripe pineapple, and a structure that is gloriously close to perfect being razor sharp but integrated over all. 

This is NOT a sweet wine as much as it is an "off dry" FRUITY wine. What makes a sweet wine is residual (meaning unfermented) sugar. Cheap white wines and even some red wines can be purposely made to be sweet by either adding sugar after fermentation or stopping fermentation before all the sugars are turned into alcohol which can be disgusting though popular to some. "White Zinfandel" would be one example of MANY.  The Chenin Blanc grape--the signature grape of the Vouvray region of France, was co-opted in America and went through a very sad phase of being used for cheap jug wines. 

This fantastic grape emerged decades later being respected for the wonderful, spicy, zesty, wonderful wine that it can be and while Vouvray sets the bar, many "new world" wineries around the globe are now making quality Chenin Blancs as well.  At $10 this is a must buy and I will be serving it with our salty ham dinner which will be awesome.  If there is any wine left when dinner comes out, "Raise a glass!"