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Thursday, September 14, 2006

2004 Clos Du Bois Pinot Noir Sonoma County

This bottle retails for $18 but I found it on sale for $13.

All that I get is blackberry on the nose.

The palate has some spice and cherries as well as blackberries. There’s a fair amount of oak to give it a nice backbone. It’s smooth, and while it’s very light in color has some weight behind it. Well worth the original asking price of $18 and on sale for under $15 this is a must buy.. Clos Du Bois is a well known and respected producer of wine and for good reason. This is an excellent wine, appropriately priced, and worthy of repurchase.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

2002 Clarendon Hills Old Vines Grenache, Blewitt Springs Vineyard

I decided to open a special occasion wine due to some bad news coming down the pipe. This retails at about $50 a bottle.

I get plenty of wood and anise on the nose with some miscellaneous black fruit. Plums maybe.

This a nice full bodied Grenache. Incredibly smooth, loads of fruit, wood, and anise just blend together perfectly. The tannins are firm yet silky. The fruit is mainly raspberry (ripe, rich, farmer’s market quality raspberries that were picked only hours before you ate them) with a hint of black cherry. The oak is smokey, and there’s a lot of smooth anise. There's even a suggestion of Cherry Coke. Fran gets dark chocolate on the finish, all I get is anise and it lasts for well over a minute.

Perfectly balanced, incredibly smooth, an extremely long finish...this is phenomenal. When you consider the quality, the price tag is no shock.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

2003 Mount Pleasant Cabernet Sauvignon

Earlier in this blog we reviewed a white wine from Mount Pleasant negatively, and in that review I said I was looking forward to opening up one of their reds so they’re consistently good.

So, here we are. The 2003 Cabernet Sauvingon which retails at $25.99.

Even after a two hours in the decanter, the wine was still a bit tight, so it needs a lot of time to open up.

On the nose I get a hit of alcohol with oak. There’s also some cherries.

The palate is not unlike the nose: oak and cherries. The tannins are mild but there’s quite a bit of acid which makes it a little sharp. It’s a good wine, but it’s very simple–other than the cherries and oak there’s nothing really going on in the glass. At $25 bottle, I generally expect some more complexity than this.

My only gripe is the price. It’s a good bottle of wine, firm enough to stand up to hearty food but smooth enough to enjoy a glass alone.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

2005 Cederberg Bukettraube

Bukettraube is an somewhat unusual varietal the pretty much only comes out of South Africa. At $15 a bottle, it came with a strong recommendation, so I decided to pick up a bottle and give it a shot.

Fran and I both sipped our wines at about the same time and our reaction were pretty much the same—we wrinkled our brows and both let out a “huh.”

This tastes like a funky blend...a bit Gewurtztraminer, a bit Sauvignon Blanc, a bit Riesling, and perhaps a hint of Chardonnay.

There’s plenty of interesting spicy flavors going on, a fair amount of tropical fruit (pineapple, apricots), lots of grapefruit, and just a bit of cream on the finish, a bit of sweetness and a lot of’s unusual but more in the combination rather than the individual flavors.

If you’re a fan of whites, especially the non-oaked varietals, I’d say this is worth a shot

Monday, September 04, 2006

2004 Essensia Orange Muscat

On the palate I get peaches and pineapple with a bit of apricot. The nose has oranges and there’s a bit of it on the palate, but it’s in the background. The varietal is “Orange Muscat” so it’s not like orange flavor was added, the grape naturally has some citrus flavors to it.

It’s surprisingly acidic and isn’t overwhelmingly sweet. If you don’t care for that teeth rotting sensation that sometimes accompanies dessert wines, this may be worth trying since it’s reasonably balanced.

The finish is very long with peaches, a bit of spice, and a hint of oak (think peach pie). Brandy was added to this and unfortunately it brings a slightly unpleasant burn on the finish. It is mild enough that I won't be dumping the bottle, but it’s certainly flawed and with the amount of dessert wines out there I won’t be picking it up again.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

2003 (?) Karma Vista, Stone Temple Pinot Noir

Karma Vista Vineyards is a winery in Southwest Michigan. Many of their wines are named after the varietal, but some named after songs and bands (for example: Pink Side of the Moon, Starry Starry White).

A couple friends of ours, Jen and Joe visited there and brought us back a bottle of Stone Temple Pinot (thanks guys!). I think it’s a reference to Stone Temple Pilots? A wine referencing STP seems strange coming from a place which references Pink Floyd and Don McClean. Fran asked me to come up with another pun on Pinot if I’m so smart...going to “no” route gives dozens of easy ones: “Pinot More Lies”–Iron Maiden. “Pinot More” or “Pinot Values”--Black Flag. “Pinot Voices in the Sky”–Motorhead. “Pinotbody Knows Anything”–Anthrax.

If someone names a wine referencing Motorhead, I’m buying it by the case. When I retire, I just may buy a vineyard and name it Chateau Lemmy.

Back to the wine:

There’s no year on the label, but they don’t do a non-vintage Pinot. I’m guessing it’s 2003 since there’s a “tasting sheet” on the web that cites 2003.

This is probably the lightest red wines I’ve ever seen. A lot of Beaujolais, in fact–and this is no joke–I’ve seen rose darker than this.

The nose is earthy–a good sign for Pinot Noir–and an unexpected one for such a light wine. Fran gets cherries and anise.

The palate on this is one is really interesting. As the color suggests, it’s light...extremely light. However, it’s got quite a few, albeit subtle, things going on. I taste a little bit of oak, I get a bit of earth, and a bit of raspberries. It’s a nicely balanced, but extremely light wine.

Pairing this would be a problem. A wine so light and delicate if you serve this with anything it will be overwhelmed. The other big problem is that a wine this light, with 12% alcohol can be dangerous...proceed with caution but enjoy.

NV Marshall Field's Vivid Sparkling Rose

It’s ironic, no? A New York sparkling wine is our fond farewell to the Chicago institution Marshall Field’s after being taken over by those New York bastards.

This is a sparkling rose, according to the bottle, from New York.

What’s it like? Sparkling White Zinfandel if I had to compare it to anything.

Lots of wine people scoff at White Zin. I’m one of those people who feels that White Zinfandel is what it is. It’s alcoholic Kool-Aid. It’s not terrible, but it’s certainly not wine...more wine cooler than anything.

I get strawberries in this one, it’s sweet, but not overwhelmingly so and there’s no acid. I pretty much just described White Zinfandel to you. Inoffensive, sweet enough, and fruity. It is what it is...don't buy this expecting a quality wine, buy it realizing it's essentially "adult Cherry 7-Up."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

2003 Marquis Philips Cabernet Sauvignon

With the previous bottle not lasting more than a single glass, we decided to go for something relatively safe. Our local wine shop had this on sale for $10, compared to their normal price of $16.

I get tomatoes on the nose as well as herbs, oak, and olives. It’s pretty funky honestly...I believe the term people use is “green.” These are actually new smells to me, so I was concerned.

No worries, as the Aussies say, as this is excellent. Exceptionally smooth with quite a bit of jam, lots of fruit– blueberries, cherries, and plums. Tannins are silky. Oak and spice are in the background, but this is more of a fruit bomb than anything. I keep trying to taste those funky flavors, and all I can pick up is some subtle herbs.

Even at $16 this would’ve been worth it. An excellent, bold New World Cabernet that would go nicely with big food....eggplant dishes, pastas with heavy sauces, and so forth.

N/V Marshall Field's Cabernet Sauvignon

There is no year on this bottle, so I can only assume it’s non-vintage, which is interesting. I’ve never seen a non-vintage California Cabernet.

On the nose I don’t get much fruit but there is quite a bit of cinnamon and perhaps a trace of blackberry.

The color of this wine is’s dark red but I get a lot of brown tones in it.

On the palate there’s some spice, berry fruit, and smooth tannins. However, there’s a lot of acid, in fact....we’re both having Charles Shaw flashbacks. The overwhelming acid is making this wine taste quite sour and I’m at a point where I feel life is way too short to drink crap....down the drain you go.

I would not buy this again, nor would I recommend you buy it unless you want a souvenir...and if you want a souvenir, why aren’t you buying a box of Frango mints?

2005 Marshall Field's Pinot Grigio

Forgive me for being smug, but when I first poured a glass of this wine I remarked to Fran “I think they may have replaced the wine in this bottle with water.”

There’s nothing going on here. It’s pretty eye opening in a way...if there's one thing I can say about this it's that I've never had wine like this before. I've had my share of cheap Pinot Grigio but nothing like this (and at $10, this is pricier than respectable low end producers like Ecco Domani and Gabbiano).

On the nose–-grapes. Just grapes. Many Illinois wineries make wine out of a Niagra grapes that tastes pretty much just like alcoholic grape juice–-no acid, no definition, no complexity, just grapes and sugar: this smells like that.

On the palate, unlike Niagra, it’s not terribly sweet. There is some fruitiness (in the form of grapes), very low acid (if any), and other than grapes, the only flavor I get is alcohol.

The bottle says “Fabulous with Fried Foods,” I wonder if the person who wrote that is the creator of “Hi and Lois” because they are making me laugh.

Instead of buying a bottle of this, I will give you a recipe to make a very similar tasting drink: Take 16 ounces of water, one ounce vodka, and one half ounce white grape juice. Shake with ice, strain, and serve in a wine glass.

Friday, September 01, 2006

N/V Brut Sparkling Wine Marshall Field's

September 9, 2006 will mark a sad day for Chicago history. The New York bastards at Macy’s are renaming our beloved Marshall Field’s. I have fond memories of visiting the store with my grandma, dining in the Walnut Room, eating so many Frango mints I was ready to puke, and seeing the window displays at Christmas. When Fran and I got married Marshall Field was one of the two stores we bothered registering. When I go gift shopping, Field’s is my first stop...whether I have something in mind or not. After I clear out our store’s stock of Frontera Grill salsas I will officially be a Nordstrom’s man. It’s a dark day, friends...

To celebrate the end of an era in Chicago, I present to you Marshall Field’s wine weekend. (Yes, I am well aware that by buying this wine I gave money to those Macy’s bastards, and no I don’t really think anything I bought today will be better than decent, but it’s worth a shot).

We start a bottle of “Brut”...a sparkling wine, believe it or not. It's a private label and all I know about it is made by "KDM Global Partners" and it's from California. This is an 187ml bottle, which is just over a glass of wine. According to the bottle it’s: “amazing with...absolutely everything!” Is it?

Well, it’s alright. Yeasty, dry, and pear flavors make it a decent sparkling wine. Very simple, crisp, it’s not bad but it’s certainly not amazing, nor is it great, nor is it exactly what I’d call “good”...but it’s drinkable, and that’s really all I expected. Not much else to say about it really.