Official theme song

Monday, December 24, 2007

2001 Torbreck The Steading Barossa Valley GSM

A few months ago, Fran and I ate at an off the wall restaurant named Moto (which we strongly recommend). One of the wine pairings was an Australian Grenache which was amazing – I had a chat with our waiter about the wine and he told me that if I liked that one, I needed to try The Steading. Our local wine shop had it in stock for about $30 and here we are.

Dried cherry, raisin, plum, and alcohol on the nose.

Dark fruit all around – black cherry, overripe plum – actually this sort of has a “raspberry fruit leather” taste to it. Tobacco, oak, black pepper, and spice plus a hint of green pepper – the tannins are somewhat mellow but this is still a huge wine with a lot going on.

Ripe berries on the finish – ripe strawberry, blackberry as well as black pepper and cigar box.

An extremely nice bottle that is well worth the cash. It's rare that I'm sad to see a bottle go – this is one of those times. I'll probably snag this again next time I'm at the wine shop.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

2005 Louis Jadot Beaune Premier Cru Appelation Controlée

This was $23 at Costco – I figured it would be interesting to try a new Burgundy, Fran offered to pay and they didn't have any more expensive bottles so this was settled on.

A strange funk on the nose along with a bit of raspberry.

Smooth, velvety tannins - fantastic. Chocolate, dirt, and some tart cherry on the palate with some eucalyptus coming through..

The earthy and some berry notes linger for quite some time.

Quite good, but it's lacking some depth to say this has a strong QPR.

N/V Blason de Bourgogne Cremant de Bourgogne Cuvée Brut (Rose)

This one was six bucks at Trader Joe's – I couldn't pass it up.

Absurdly bubbly at first pour – much like Cherry 7Up would look like. A little bit of strawberry on the nose and a lot of yeasty notes.

Dry – shockingly dry, in fact – a bit of cherry, a hint of toast, and some nice acid.

Some tart notes on the finish.

For $6 it's tough to argue, in fact this is more enjoyable than most of the cheap sparkling wine we've had – I'll take this over Korbel or Domaine Chandon, or god forbid, Tott's. I foresee buying this again in large quantities.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

2005 Chateau Lhorens Bordeaux

Look at this box...amazing. It looks like a fancy wooden case, yet that's just the box of this "box wine." Seriously, this is packaging at its finest. I paid $21 for this at World Market for this three liter box (the equivalent of four bottles).

Cherry and oak on the nose.

Medium to firm tannins, blackberry, cherry, oak, tobacco. Fruity, but not terribly sweet – very well balanced. I have to say, this is a solid wine all around - put this in a bottle at charge $12 and few would complain.

Earthy and woody notes linger for some time.

For $5.25 per “bottle” this is the way to go. In fact, this is one of the bargains of the year in terms of QPR. While it's not terribly deep and complex, there's more than enough here to really enjoy beyond a simple quaff.

2005 Da Vinci Chianti

This wine is actually from Vinci – good for them, I was going to make a snarky comment if it wasn't (there was a lot of anmosity about the Da Vinci code from nerdy types who complained that all DaVinci is not a last name. Nitpicky, I say)....I paid about $10 for this.

Chocolate and cherry on the nose.

Mild tannins, cherry, and oak with a fair amount of plum and a hint of root beer. The acid really comes through late on the palate but it's not as sharp as some of the other mass produced Chianti out there.

Sweet, ripe strawberries and oak linger on the finish.

Not a bad bottle at all, in fact this is quite enjoyable.

2005 Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz

I was perusing a local store and noticed the shelf for this wine was completely empty – strange. When I got around to looking at my new Wine Spectator I understood why. This is #72 on Wine Spectators Most Interesting Wines of 2007. A few days later I was at another store which had plenty so I grabbed one for about $10.

Licorice, chocolate, and cherry on the nose.

Smooth – chocolate, tobacco, cherry, smoke and oak, with medium tannins.

Cherry, cinnamon, and a bit of anise come through on the finish with some lingering oak notes.

Our review of the 2004 of this wine was lukewarm, but I feel stronger about this vintage – this is solid. The Wine Spectator list is for the “most interesting” wines – not necessarily;y the “best” - and therefore I agree. The fact that a Shiraz, made by Yellow Tail, that is easily acquired in a grocery store for around $10 can be this good is exciting. Don't go into this expecting the finest bottle of Shiraz you've ever had, but I'd bet served blind to a wine snob, this would get praised all around.

2006 Beaulieu Vineyard Coastal Estates Pinot Noir Vin De Pays

We've had this producer once before and enjoyed it, so I picked up the 2006 when I saw it on the shelf for about $7.

Earth and raspberry on the nose.

Dirt, blackberry, a bit of cola, cherry, oak, and a bit of eucalyptus. The tannins are mild but present enough to give this some reasonable structure.

Oak and herbs on the finish.

$6 for decent Pinot Noir is rare - I see no reason not give this one a try.

2006 Zeller Schwarze Katz Mosel-Saar-Ruewer Riesling Qualitatswein

How can one possibly pass on such an adorable bottle for $10? Oddly you can find the empty bottles on eBay ranging from $5 to $10 - one seller has started bidding at $10 wants $13 shipping - insanity.

The nose I can't decide on – is it just plain old grapes or is it grapefruit? Not sure.

Indeed – I initially thought the nose was grape, but the palate has so much grapefruit it threw me off. I also get a touch of apple, but mainly we're talking citrus. Somewhat sweet, but crisp acid balance this out nicely.

More of the grapefruit on the finish.

At $10 for a 500ml bottle, this is a bit too simple for me to suggest running out and grabbing. It's certainly not bad – in fact the balance is quite nice –my issue is solely with QPR - for $15 (for 750ml) you can get something far more interesting. That being said, if you love the bottle, there's no reason to skip this one.

2004 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale

I had memories of an older vintage and slightly higher label (Riserva Oro) being a great wine, so I figured I'd try a bottle – this was on sale for about $20.

The nose is all chocolate covered cherry.

Tobacco, oak, smoke, earth – a funky wine to be sure. Some cherry notes come through, plus some spice. Firm tannins even after being open for a few hours. A reasonable amount of acid brings some balance.

Oak, tobacco, and mint linger on the finish.. Fran tells me it lingers like cough medicine.

Italian wine is weird – this is no exception. I'm not sure how I feel about this honestly. Maybe some more time on the wine rack would help it out, but as it is I can't praise this one much.

2004 Estancia Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles Keyes Canyon Ranches

We've had Estancia's Pinot Noir and it wasn't bad – this one is about $13 at the local grocery store but they had a buy one, get one for 10 cents deal so I grabbed two for $13.10.

A fairly weak nose – I don't get much of anything really – other than a hint of earth.

The palate brings a bit of smokey oak, cherry, a touch of sweetness, and even a bit of cola, The tannins struck as mild but they come through as it lingers on the palate.

Strawberries come through on the finish.

For $13 – no. For $6.65 – absolutely. Not a bad bottle and perfectly good for under $10.

N/V Finca La Linda Extra Brut Sparkling Chardonnay/Semillon

I've heard of Extra Brut sparkling wine, but don't recall ever seeing one in a shop. I found this sparkling wine from Argentina while looking around a boutique wine shop and it cost me about $14.

The nose on this has the strongest scent of white bread that I've ever smelled. I also get something I can only describe as chemically.

A strange palate – at first I thought “this strikes me as sweet” but the more I drink it I think I'm being fooled by some fruit flavors – this makes your mouth pucker somewhat. Citrus mainly – I'm thinking white grapefruit and severely unripe pineapple.

Grapefruit zest on the finish.

For academic purposes, I suppose I'm enjoying the bottle. From the pure enjoyment side of things - this is just not working for me.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

N/V R.L. Buller & Son Premium Fine Muscat Victoria

This was served at Thanksgiving and the rest of the bottle – about half - was given to me to take home as no one else liked it. I'm told it was about $14 for the half bottle.

Alcohol, wood, walnut, and maple syrup on the nose.

Thick, syrupy, sweet, but a bit of acid. Orange rind, maple syrup, raisin, toffee, caramel, nuts – it's sort of like a thicker, sweeter, 10 year Tawny Port.

This has a syrupy raisin finish that lingers for quite some time.

This is very much a dessert wine that I think requires the outside temperature to be below freezing to really be enjoyable. Thick, sweet, viscous, it coats your insides – I'd love this with a bit of ice cream or pie. Fantastic QPR – solid.

2001 Hemannhof Vineyard Chambourcin

I am somewhat sure we visited this winery a few years back and were impressed by their offerings. so I grabbed this on our last trip to St. Louis and paid about $12.

Funky, earthy berries on the nose.

Good ol' weird Chambourcin – almost Italianlike in its funkiness – acidic, spicy, very soft tannins, a bit of chocolate, cherry, and oak.

Earth, chocolate, and funk on the finish.

Not bad stuff, heavy and definitely has some age on it...I wouldn't hesitate grabbing a newer vintage if I saw one.

N/V Domaine Chandon Brut Classic

We've had Chandon's Blanc de Noir – which basically struck me as tasting like not much more than a lighter bodied Fufu Berry Jones Soda. This bottle ran me about $12.

A yeasty and somewhat metallic nose.

I'm not sure I'd call this Brut – it's somewhat sweet. Yeast, green apple, and some citrus notes.

Citron on the finish.

Not bad, but also somewhat forgettable....for a few bucks more get some Gloria Ferrer and you'll be much happier.

2006 Stone Hill Winery Vignoles

Vignoles is one of these strange hybrid grapes that you'll see a lot of in the Midwest and East Coast and that's about it. I don't recall what we paid for this but it's the $10 neighborhood.

Pineapple and sugar on the nose.

Quite sweet – pineapple for the most part with some miscellaneous tropical notes. Viscous, cloying in its sweetness, and while there's acid the sugar overwhelms everything.

The finish is all pineapple.

Do you like pineapple? If so, grab it...if not, stay away. I can't imagine drinking this with an entree, but it wouldn't be bad with dessert. Definitely serve it with vanilla ice cream and fruit pie.

2005 Frenchhouse Pinot Noir Vin de Pays

This was about $8 at the grocery store. I was optimistic about finding another decent, cheap French Pinot Noir.

Earth and rotten strawberry on the nose.

Until well into hour three, I would've called this tart to a fault – but as it opened up, it became bearable. Strawberry, cherry, funk, and chocolate notes mostly.

Earthy and chocolaty notes come through on the finish.

Good cheap Pinot isn't the easiest to find and this certainly isn't one of them.

2005 A to Z Pinot Gris

A to Z has been a solid producer in my eyes so I grabbed this bottle at the local wine shop.

I seem to be getting olives on the nose of this one.

The palate brings orange and lemon zest, nicely acidic, some mineral notes, apple, and perhaps some unripe honeydew melon.

The finish brings some peach and slate.

This was about $12 on sale and it's certainly not bad...I have yet to try a Pinot Gris that wows me - this is fine for the varietal and recommendable.

N/V Piper Sonoma Select Cuvee Brut

I've been looking at this bottle in the grocery store for years and realized I never tried it. It ran me about $10.

Bread on the nose – not white, maybe rye? Fran thinks it smells off – I wouldn't say that but there's something odd.

A bit of strawberry, green apple, orange, and lime – a sparkling fruit salad you say? I'm tempted to call it dry, but it's probably better described as acidic. The slightest suggestion of toast seems to be hiding in the background but I'm not sure – something borderline strange is happening.

The finish seems to bring lemon and lime.

Not bad for $10 at all. That being said, there's definitely something strange here – maybe Fran saying it seems “off” is distorting my view, but I'm going to have to try this one again before I can give it a` definitive yay or nay.

N/V Domaine Chandon Riche

This was $12 – I remember trying this one a while back but didn't remember anything so I figured I'd grab a bottle and take some notes.

Spicy stone fruit on the nose – almost like a Gewurz.

Stone fruit – peaches – a bit of spice, some honey and a balancing amount of citric acid suggestive of tangerine. I'd almost think this was a sparkling Gewurz, but the bottle says it's a blend of .....

There's a somewhat spicy finish and a somewhat unpleasant chemical sweetness.

I suppose that I may understand why this out there, but it's just not my style. If you're into the sparkling moscato this may work - though for the price you may as well just getting something from Italy.

2005 Francis Coppola Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Series Ivory Label

We've had a few Coppola wines before and basically – they're not bad, but they're not exactly exceptional either. This seems to be a new line replacing the Black Label Claret, so I figured I'd grab a bottle which ran around $12.

A bold nose with cherry, cinnamon, and oak on the nose.

A solid burst of fresh strawberry as soon as this hits the palate. Medium tannins – cherry, oak, tobacco

Cedar and anise show up on the finish as well as some other spice notes and a touch of cigar.

The best of the Coppola Diamond Series wine we've had this far – this is fantastic, a great QPR, and one I'd gladly buy again.

N/V G. H. Mumm & Cie Champagne Carte Classique

I encountered this for $25 at the grocery store and figured I'd give it a shot having a vague positive memory of the Cordon Rouge we had in January 2007.

A little bit of nuttiness on the nose.

Yeast, a bit of toast, some nuttiness – though I couldn't say which - and red apple – somewhat sweet actually. Not much else really. This went flat unusually quickly – the glass died in less than an hour and the bottle's bubbles faded within two.

Some yeast lingers I suppose but there's virtually no finish.

Disappointing. I know this is a low end Champagne, but $25 is still a lot for the average person to drop on a bottle. I won't be rushing back. There's nothing wrong with this – it's just sort of like George Bush's memoirs – good....good, not great.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

N/V Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut Sparkling Wine

We paid $18.99 for this one at our local wine shop, I know we've had this at a tasting some time ago and figured we'd try a bottle.

Yeast and dough on the nose.

This is great – green and red apple with some yeasty notes and a solid amount of toast that gives this very nice structure. On the one hand, I can't detect a bunch of nuances, on the other, this is just a strong wine, nice layers, and all around you can just taste this is quality.

Sour green apple on the finish.

In the “under $20” category this one is easily one of, if not the best we've had. I'd easily recommend it – there's plenty of depth and the quality easily suggests that of an official Champagne. I'll be buying more of this and I suggest giving it a shot.

N/V Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne

I left it for Fran to decide – go out to eat or cook at home but grab a couple bottles of Champagne. This won and it was on sale for $24.

A doughy and yeasty nose.

Good stuff – toasty, yeasty, crisp acid, and pretty much the only thing I'm getting is lemon and maybe, just maybe, green apple.

The finish brings some lime and slate.

Not bad, but I'm not about to rant and rave about it – it's solid and about right for the price.

2005 Columbia Winery Gewurztraminer

We got this one for $8 at Costco.

Pineapple on the nose.

Spicy stone fruit on the palate – spiced peach pie filling. A bit sweet but quite acidic to it all balances together nicely. Some pineapple notes as well.

A bit of honey lingers on the finish and some vanilla notes start to come through.

For $8 this one is easily recommendable.

2003 St. James Winery Norton

Another Missouri wine we picked up on our St. Louis trip. I don't recall what I paid for this sells for $10 from the winery.

This is a fairly big, dark, fruity, and fairly dry wine. Not too much tannin, but a lot of black fruit – plum, blackberry – and some Italian style funk. A lot of strange earthy qualities – leather, dirt, tobacco. Norton produces a strange, earthy wine and it's one of these things where you may love it or hate it, but for $10, this is a very complex and interesting wine.

The finish brings out a bit of oak and some plum lingers.

I like this wine and am astounded that I paid $10 for it. One of the better Nortons out there and for the price, you can't go wrong.

2005 Stone Hill Winery Vidal Blanc

A lot of white wine (and red, for that matter) from the Midwest is sweet – even those described as “off dry” still tend to border on cloying. I grabbed this one for looking for something a bit more dry – while I don't remember the price, I'm sure it was under $10.

A bit of pineapple on the nose.

Pineapple on the palate, as well as a buttery mouthfeel – this must've seen some oak.

That oily butter residue for some people like lingers on the finish.

Sort of like a not terribly obnoxious Chardonnay. If you're into Chardonnay and want something somewhat lighter this could fit the bill. I certainly don't hate this bottle but it's just not my style.

N/V Mionetto il Prosecco

We've had this producer's moscato and enjoyed so I grabbed this for about $9. This is a unique looking bottle because it has the crown cap (like the old soda bottle caps).

At first I didn't think this had much of a nose, but when I stuck my nose deep in the glass I picked some very interesting tropical fruit notes – papaya and pineapple mainly.

The tropical notes on the nose come through on the palate as well....fruity but not exactly sweet.

Some honey comes through on the finish...this leaves a film in your mouth almost which is telling me sugar but I'm still not tasting it.

It's alright but I'd never buy it again quite frankly. I appreciate the interesting tropical flavors but it's just not working for me – if that sort of thing works for you then you can do worse.

2001 Cullen Diana Madeline Margaret River

Another bargain for us – this one is typically $50, but we were at a wine shop's 10th anniversary tasting and they had this one deeply discounted to a mere $25 – we tried it, we loved it, we bought the last bottle and sat on it for over a year. We drank this one with a grilled steak.

Tobacco, cherry, and blueberry on the nose.

So smooth – the tannins are mellow, cherry, tobacco, oak, a bit of licorice, a touch of dirt – everything is in perfect balance, no taste overwhelms. As it opens, some black fruit comes through – blackberry, plum, perhaps even some prune.

The finish lingers for some time, tannins come through, oak and just a slightest bit of pine creeps in, along with tobacco and a bit of blackberry.

Outstanding for $25 and certainly good enough for the $50 the shop normally charges. If this weren't the last bottle they had, I would've cheerfully grabbed a few more.

2005 Di Majo Norante Sangiovesse

No idea about this wine – I was poking around the wine fridge looking for a red and grabbed this one. Not sure where I bought it, why, or for how much. I looked it up online and it seems to sell for about $8, so we'll say that.

The first thing that hit me on the nose is hardwood, an interesting smell – woody but not really oak. There's a bit of dirt and cinnamon, and dare I say cabbage? Suggestions of green either way, and no necessarily in a bad way.

Not much in terms of tannin, and not over the top acidic - dirty, black fruit – plum mostly, and a bit of spice and earth.

Cinnamon and oak on the finish.

For under $10, this one is fine. I'm not crazy about it, but for the price there are few flaws and there's some nice complexity there to make it worth checking out. I'm glad I don't do stars because this one I'd be torn on.

N/V Heidsieck & Company Monopole Blue Top Brut Champagne

This was another bottle I snagged on sale for $24 – I believe making it tied for the cheapest Champagne in the store.

Slate on the nose.

Citrusy – grapefruit, lemon, and lime. Nicely balanced – acidic but not overwhelmingly so and just the slightest bit sweet. As it lingers on the palate, I get some nutty – perhaps walnut – flavors.

Doughy notes on the finish as well as some suggestions of walnut or even peanut.

A fine Champagne for the price – nothing groundbreaking, but a good QPR.

2005 Château de Fontenille Bordeaux

This cheap Bordeaux came recommended as being a good QPR (quality price ratio – a term I don't use much, but will probably start doing so). For $8 many people would be afraid it couldn't possibly be good, but it's a highly rated vintage and I was up for a gamble.

Plum and cigar on the nose.

Very nice – medium tannin, black fruit, smoky tobacco – cigar box? - and a nice balance of oak. Some somewhat astringent qualities came through after several hours of this wine being open. Nothing that can't be looked past, but this is one of those goofy wines where it's at it's best in the first hour or two .

Earth and a bit of smoke on the finish.

This is absurdly good for the price. If you want loads of deep complexity, stop being a cheap ass and reading a $8 bottle review – but if you want a great bottle to open any night of the week, this one is the way to go.

2005 Smoking Loon Pinot Noir

We had another wine from this label some time ago and I thought it was fine so I didn't hesitate to grab this one when I was on a streak of buying cheap Pinot Noir.

Funky, rotten raspberry on the nose.

Mild tannins, a touch of sweetness, a hint of oak, cherry, and carob. There's a nice acidic zing here that balances this out well.

Some oak comes through on the finish and some tannins start to come forward.

Not great, but for a $7 Pinot it's alright. I think, with the exception of the “Bistro Wine” previously reviewed, I'm going to stop buying cheap Pinot after I exhaust what's left in the wine fridge.

2005 Gabbiano Chianti Classico

Good ol' Gabbiano. A generally reliable producer of Chianti that I never hesitate picking up. This one ran me $10.

Earth and spice on the nose.

A nice Chianti – earthy, funky, some chocolate, a bit of cherry, some blackberry, and a nice balance of oak, all with a reasonable amount of acid. The regular Chianti from Gabbiano is light and zingy, this is a fairly bold wine, lots of funk and earthy notes.

I'm getting a big of cinnamon and spice on the finish that didn't really come through on the palate.

I consider Gabbiano a reliable brand – good, sometimes damn good, especially when you consider the pricepoint.

N/V Yellow Tail Sparkling Wine

I've been seeing this around and figured I might as well try it – on sale for $8, why not?

A bit of green apple on the nose.

The palate on this...oh man....I don't know if I've ever had a sparkling wine that I've been this repulsed by. This is excessively sweet and even worse, quite sour....sour, rotting green apples. If there are subtle nuances here I'm not about to take the time to taste them – I wouldn't even call this drinkable. It almost makes me wonder if this is a bad bottle – regular Yellow Tail isn't great, but I wouldn't even dream of comparing it to this.

Once it leaves the palate, the finish is nothing to really mention.

Never again....if you must buy a bottle of Yellow Tail, grab a bottle of the reserve Shiraz.

1998 Gattinara Vendemmia

This is a new one to us. I don't know what I paid for this but I do know it was on a clearance sale so it was heavily discounted – by at least 50% and based on where I put this on the rack, the retail must've been at least $35. I tried to do some research but couldn't find much info.

Dirt and barnyard on the nose.

Acidic and thensome at first open...this definitely needs some food to take the edge off. Other than that, it's quite pleasant, the tannins are mellow, nice cherry and berry flavors with a bit oak, some chocolatey hints, and a touch of sweet oak.

The acid continues on the finish with some nice earthy and berry flavors lingering.

This is very good but it's also very acidic, funky, and earthy - qualities that many people won't be into. Serve it with some hearty Italian faire and you'll be set.

2003 Evenus Zinfandel Port

I bought this a while back for about $10 (half bottle) at Trader Joe's. I've had some fake “Ports” before, but don't think I've ever had a Zinfandel Port before.

Chocolate and cherry on the nose.

Chocolate, cherry, and raspberry with plenty of dried fruit – raisin/prune, yet not much tannin. No depth or anything really interesting going on. After this has been open for a few days, some nuttiness is coming through, but it's really quite minor...honesty, it's not much further beyond a typical fruit bomb Zinfandel....lots of fruit, a touch of earthiness, and that's about it.

The finish fades fairly quickly...some alcohol lingers as well as some raisin, but nothing exciting.

Let's just call this a Late Harvest Zinfandel. $10 for a 375ml dessert wine isn't bad, but it's not great. There's some better “Port” coming out of Australia and for $10 you'd get a full bottle. If Ruby Port is too bold for you, maybe you'll take a shine to this, otherwise – skip it.

2005 St. James Winery Riesling

Another Missouri wine, don't recall the price, but under $10.

Peach on the nose.

The palate has plenty of stone fruit and just a bit of green apple and even a hint of grape...bordering on too sweet though there is enough acid to make it drinkable.

Stone fruit on the finish, subtlety peachy - white peach I'll say.

Even though I do tend to like my Rieslings a bit sweet, this one is close to being too sweet. It's not bad, if you like sweet and peachy Rieslings, this would be alright.

2004 Flourish Cabernet Sauvignon

I was at the local Albertson's owned grocery store and saw this line of wine – all organically grown from various parts of the world. I figured it was worth a shot because they had a sale – three bottles for $15 – regular price $11.99 each. While I doubt it's ever not on sale, I figured that's a severe enough discount to warrant grabbing a few.

Cherry and funk on the nose.

Cherry, strawberry, a bit of sweetness, and extremely mild tannin.

Strawberry – dare I saw of the Twizzler type – on the finish.

For $5 – why not? For $12 - I wouldn't have been happy. I suppose it works, it's on par with Yellow Tail – acceptable and perfectly good with simple fare like pizza or burgers.

2005 Killer Juice Cabernet Sauvignon

This is our first attempt at a red wine in a box. I've read some fairly positive things about this so I figured I'd give it a shot. This three liter box was $14.99 – which means this is the equivalent of a S3.75 bottle.

Dirt and blackberry on the nose.

Smooth – blueberry, cherry, oak, just a slightest bit of anise and tobacco, and mild (but certainly present) tannins.

Blueberry mostly on the finish though I'm getting a bit of cinammon.

Simple and inoffensive – great for burgers or pizza.

2006 Lynfred Winery Pinot Grigio

When we closed on our condo, our mortgage broker gave us this bottle as a gift – a nice gesture though after I saw the cut he was getting after signing my name a hundred times, all I could think was: “yo goober, where's the Dom?”

I hate describing the nose on Pinot Grigio because it's smells like Pinot Grigio.

I'm used to a touch of sweetness in Pinot Grigio but I'd call this one bone the point that if you gave it to me blind I'd guess it was some sort of PG blend with Sauvignon Blanc. Stone fruit of all sorts – white peach mainly, but a bit of nectarine. A lot of mineral qualities that I'm bad at describing – slate?

A short finish suggesting more of that slate.

This one runs for $17.50 which I think makes it one of the pricier Pinot Grigio's that we've had – I'm sure there are better bottles out there, but I can't argue with this one. If you like this varietal but wish you could find a drier than usual bottle I'd say give this one a go. Recommended.

2004 The Colonial Estate Explorateur Shiraz

I love the “end of bin” clearances....this one was $5 marked down from about $20. The capsule felt fine, so why not?

This smells something like a bag with half cherry and half black licorice.

First and foremost – give this one a good two hours in the decanter before's very tight at first but opens nicely. The palate actually has a bit of balance – fruity but enough oak and earth to really bring it together. So much Australian Shiraz is of the “fruit bomb” persuasion, it's nice to get something a bit more even.

A bit of aak and cherry come out on the finish with some peppery notes.

For $5 – are you kidding? Is it worth the $20+ some places are charging? I'm leaning towards yes actually, especially if you're looking for a somewhat more sedate Shiraz.

2005 Chateau Grand Montet Bordeaux

We were at a local wine shop and a bunch of labels of the 2005 Bordeaux were in. They had apparently recently had a tasting of the labels and the guy working suggested a few that went over well with the crowd. This was $8 and the cheapest one he recommended.

Earth and cherry on the nose.

Soon after opening, I found this a bit sweet honestly, mild/medium tannins, cherry, and somewhat earthy. As it opened, a lot more earth came through, oak, the fruit calmed down a bit and I found the bottle far more enjoyable.

Some oak and berry on the finish.

My first draft on this wine was negative – but after a few hours of airtime, I think I'm sold. I found it too fruity and a bit sweet at first, but as the earthiness comes out, this really is a nice wine. When I sit and really focus, it is a bit too fruity, but just for casual drinking – and for $8, I'm not drinking this for academic reasons – I think this works fine.

2006 Orleans Hills Cote Zero

This caught my eye – no sulfites added, completely organic, and a whopping $8.

A somewhat grapey nose with some earth.

This is strange....very acidic, somewhat grapey, no oak, little tannin, yet dry. It almost tastes like a white, but feels like a red. This is a Grenache, Syrah, Viognier blend, and it's just odd. I've never had a wine with mainstrem (ie, non-hybrid - like Chambourcin) grapes that tastes this “grapey.”

I tried it at cellar temperature – a slight chill, and I figured it would be interesting to put it on ice. The acid has calmed down a bit, but no real depth comes through that didn't before. Just grapes and some weird jam, no spice, nothing. It reminds me of an Illinois wine really.

Earth and grape on the finish.

It's weird. I can't say I like it. I suppose if you're die hard vegan, organic, and have sensitivities to sulfite this may be better than nothing, but I personally wouldn't recommend it otherwise.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

2007 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau

I had actually decided to not partake in the BN craze this year, but I happened to be driving by a liquor store and decided I'd drop in to see if they had any. This was the only label they carried and it ran me about $10.

I don't know how else to describe the nose other than freshly removed gym socks.

The palate brings tart cherries, raspberries, licorice, and even a bit of barnyard....there's a bit of tannin and overall it's somewhat astringent – not enough to be offensive, but enough that food is pretty much in order.

Some of those tannic notes linger on the finish as well as a touch of blueberry that actually lasts for a while.

So many wine snobs bash this wine, but you need to accept it for what it is – a simple, easy quaff that's enjoyable for a bottle or two every late November. Personally, this one is good enough - and I've been very iffy about this producer - that I may hit up one of the bigger wine shops tomorrow and grab a few more bottles.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

2006 A to Z Oregon Rose

We've had some A to Z wines before...I really enjoyed their Pinot Noir we had a while back so I grabbed a bottle of this when I saw it for about $11.

Cherry and herbal notes on the nose.

Lots of acid on the palate, not a whole lot of sweetness - cherry, spice (cinnamon?), watermelon rind, and raspberry.

The finish lingers with lots of acid complimenting the herbal and raspberry notes.

A very nice rose in general and definitely a good one for the price.

2004 Fetzer Valley Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon

Here's another from Fetzer, $6 or so, that you can pick up at any grocery store.

Large amounts of cherry, tobacco, and oak on the nose.

Cherry, blueberry, plum, and oak on the palate. After a couple days in the fridge, this hasn't changed much – plum, cherry, and a bit of oak bringing some mildish tannin.

A fruity finish that brings out more sweetness than I get on the palate. After sitting in the fridge for a few days, I got a bit more tannin and oak on the finish, but still some sweetness.

Not terribly complex and a bit too fruity to be called balanced, but for the price it's fine.

2005 Voga Quattro Italia

This was $8 at Costco. We thought the Voga white was alright and I figured this was worth a shot – I seem to recall reading a good review of this one somewhere.

Chocolate and cherry on the nose.

A weird blend creates a weird wine – this one has Merlot, Cabernet, Shiraz and Pinot Noir. Little to no tannin, not much acid, berries – strawberry mainly – chocolate, and earth.

No real finish except for some mild oak notes and a slight bit of rotten strawberry that fade quickly.

$8 is a pretty good price for this bottle which I normally see for about $10 – but I still wouldn't recommend it. A bit more acid and a bit less may have given it some balance but without it, there's just not much here but flab.

N/V Aria Cava Brut

We had this at a restaurant not long ago and I enjoyed it enough to snag a bottle when I found it on sale for a mere $9.

A yeasty nose with some lemony notes.

The palate is light and crisp – nice acid, a bit of citrus fruit and a bit of a yeasty feel. The key flavor I'm getting is lime.

A lingering finish, with acid and lime.

At this price I have no gripes. Far better than any of the mass produced sparklers like Korbel out there, this is definitely worth a trip to a wine shop....a nice tasting wine though a bit simple. While I won't be grabbing this particular bottle again for a while, I wouldn't hesitate grabbing a few others in the Aria line to see what they have to offer.

2005 Sketch Book Mendocino County Pinot Noir

I don't remember much about this one....and a bit of poking around the internet shows I don't know where I bought this or what I paid, other than I hope I didn't pay more than $15.

Funk, cherry, and pepper on the nose.

A bit of cola, cherry, strawberry, earth, funk, a bit of chocolate, and smooth tannin. Nice depth, good acid, and really quite enjoyable all around.

Some oak comes out on the finish as well as a touch of tobacco, and some cherry.

If I knew where I bought this and I found it again for under $15 I'd cheerfully grab a few more bottles.

2006 Robert Mondavi Private Selection California Pinot Noir

The Mondavi wines we've had have been hit or miss, but I figured this was worth a shot for $9.

Earth and funk on the nose

Strawberry, earth, a bit of cherry, sweet oak, lots of acid which mellowed after a few hours, and a bit of chocolate. Not bad really.

Tannins show up on the finish and linger a bit with strawberry and wood.

Not bad for $9 really, let it breath for a while or sit on the rack for a few months (it's still a bit young, though I wouldn't call it ageworthy in any sense), but there's enough Pinot qualities that I wouldn't hesitate giving this one a mild recommendation.