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.