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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.