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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 Ch√Ęteau 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.