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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

2005 Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Riesling/Traminer

This was $3 at Trader Joes and it was on display right next to the cash register I was at – normally, I wouldn't have considered it but as a last minute impulse buy I figured it would be no different than buying a lotto ticket.

While there's some stone fruit on the nose, it's surprisingly grapey.

The palate is somewhat grapey as well – stone fruit of peaches and nectaines comes through as well, a bit of spice, somewhat sweet, but a solid amount of acid balance it out.

Some spicy – of the pie filling sort – notes linger on the finish.

For $3 – hell, for $5 – I'd cheerfully grab this one again. I can definitely see cracking open a bottle of this sitting on the deck when it's ninety degrees and we're grilling burgers. Light, well balanced, and easy drinking - I'll be grabbing this next time we hit Trader Joe's and saving it for the summer.

Monday, February 25, 2008

N/V Segura Viudas Brut Rose

After the plesent surprise of the Brut, I grabbed a Brut Rose for $7 at a local wine shop. This is a blend of 60% Macabeo, 20% Parellada, and 20% Xarel-lo.

Fran and I could not place the nose – as I was browsing the winery's website I noticed grenadine was mentoned and while I acknowledge the power of suggestion, as soon as I saw that it screamed out at me.

Very clean really – some lime and tangerine notes plus a bit of minerality. The bubbles are very pronounced at first but do fade somewhat quickly.

A bit of cherry seems to come through on the finish.

Segura Viuda has three lines of sparkling wine in the US – this is the chepest, Aria is the middle (for about $12), and they have a Reserva which goes for about $20. We've had all three and have been impressed by all. This may lack some nice subtleties but it also doesn't have any weird metallic and fake sugar qualities – for the price you will not do better. While this isn't bad, my preference is for the Brut Reserva.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

2005 Francis Ford Coppola Rosso

I was walking around Costco and this caught my eye – a couple years back this could've been considered our “house wine” - we bought it frequently and paired with almost everything (this was either the 2003 or 2004 vintage though). Have our palates outgrown the Rosso? Considering this is $7 – I hope not.

Cherry and oak on the nose.

Big and fruity- a bit of oak, but mainly cherry and blackberry – bold and somewhat of a fruit bomb – the oak is present and there's a bit of mild tannin, but there's some sweetness and a lack of structure make this a bit flabby. This is a blend of 51% Zinfandel, 29% Syrah and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon – I don't get any Syrah, but I feel the Cab and I definitely taste the Zin.

A bit of spice – cinammon – comes through on the finish, but mainly it's dark berries.

I want to hunt down a bottle of the 2004 – this is disappointing and there's plenty more out there in this price range that I'd return to instead of this.

N/V Monasteriolo Cava Brut Rose

Another $7 bottle from Trader Joe's.

A bit of strawberry on the nose.

Tart strawberry and raspberry, a nice amount of acid, quite dry, and a touch of yeast.

More berry...straw/ras/blue....on the finish.

Another absurd value from Trader Joe's – Spain does a great job with low priced sparkling wines and this one is certainly one of them. No trace of any fake sugar, strange syrup, or metal – it's not complex by any means of course, but other than being somewhat simple, there are no flaws here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

2005 Château Bourbon La Chappelle

The 2005 Bordeaux has been highly rated across the board – we've reviewed a couple cheap bottles and they've been solid, here's another that was under ten dollars.

Cedar, smoke, and black fruit on the nose.

A fair amount of wood- cedar and oak, black cherry for fruit, some nice spice, medium tannins, some leather, and quite a bit of tobacco.

More tobacco on the finish, with black fruit, and spice.

I wish it was just a bit warmer and I could set on the patio with a glass of this and a cigar after grilling a steak. This is a solid bottle, a tremendous value, and one easily worth revisiting.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

2004 Domaine Jean-Marc Bernhard Grand Cru Mambourg Gewürztraminer

Another bargain from the clearance sale. This was severely reduced to under $8, but I couldn't tell you the original price.

A very big nose – I'm thinking canned pineapple.

Damn - this is a huge Gewurz. Honey, spiced stone fruit – peaches, apricot, even some pineapple and mango – solid acid – just big all around. Lots of floral notes, spice, and lychee. Big alcohol too – the label reads 14% - quite high.

Some nice spiced stone fruit lingers on the finish for some time.

This is good stuff – big yet balanced. It's surprisngly sweet for a wine from Alsace and there's nothing to suggest it, but I'd treat this as a dessert wine. If you tend to go for sweeter wines it may work with dinner, but I wouldn't recommend it.

2004 Three Thieves Cabernet Sauvignon

We're fans of the Three Thieves – the wines are good though simple, the packaging on this would be convenient for picnics, or even travel, plus the prices are right. The Three Thieves also make small one liter "jug wines" that are solid and have been reviewed on here previously.

A bit of raspberry on the nose, otherwise there's not much happening.

Smooth – mild tannins – vanilla, plums, blackberries, cherries – a bit of oak, but it's light. Fruity and a touch sweet, but not over the top.

A bit of spice – cinnamon mostly – on the finish as well as some cherry and vanilla.

At $10 for a liter, this is tough to argue with. The flaws in many mass produced inexpensive cabs – sickening sweetness and no balance – aren't here. While it may not be at the top of my list for a table wine, it's worth checking out if convenience is a priority and you don't want swill.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

2001 Chateau Sansonnet Bordeaux

I sadly don't recall much about this – in fact, I have no idea how much I paid for this or where I got it – a quick search found some shops selling this for over $30, but based on the bottle's location in the ol' wine fridge I doubt I paid more than $20.

Earth and chocolate on the nose.

Quite black – black cherry, dark chocolate, and earth. Some interesting herbal notes - eucalyptus, mint, maybe some basil – cedar comes through, and the tannins are nice and silky. A fair amount of sediment means you should defnitely keep this one upright for a day or two before opening and pour it carefully.

Herbal notes linger on the finish with some cherry and plum.

This bottle is certainly worth a look – I don't know about the $30 I'm seeing online, but if this was under $20 I'd grab it again without hesitation.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

2003 Gloria Ferrer Carneros Syrah

I saw this at Trader Joe's for $10 – we're fans of Gloria Ferrer's sparkling wines and have enjoyed a few bottles of the wineries Pinot Noir at tastings, so I didn't hesitate grabbing a bottle.

Cherry and white pepper on the nose.

Nicely balanced – a lot of fruit to be sure, but some nice oak and spice balance it out well. Dark fruit – berries, black cherry, plums, and the like – anise and pepper notes, and some weird, funky earthy come through midpalette. Great all around – nothing overpowers and there's solid depth.

The finish has some spice, earth, and black fruit as well.

Gloria Ferrer succeeds even with a cheap one – very nice all around and well worth the ten bucks.

Monday, February 11, 2008

2006 Gilles Bonnefoy La Madone Cotes du Forez Gamay sur Volcan

This was marked down to $8 and I thought it may be interesting to try a Gamay from outside Beaujolais. My understanding is the region of Cotes du Forez has areas where grapes are grown in volcanic soil – and if I had to guess by the “sur Volcan” - I assume this is one of those.

Earth, raspberry, barnyard, and tree bark on the nose.

Raspberry – some tartness – mild tannins, earthy notes, some cherry, and a bit of cola.

Some cherry and spicy notes comes through on the finish.

This is more along the quality lines of your standard Beaujolais (ie, not the Nouveau) – basically like a very light Pinot Noir - and for $8 you can't argue with it.

2005 Yellow Tail Reserve Pinot Noir

The Reserve Shiraz was excellent – for ten bucks, can YT pull of a decent Pinot Noir?

In the first hour: Cherry on the nose. Yikes – this tastes like sharply acidic, yet very very sweet cherry Kool-Aid. Some vanilla notes come through as well. No earth or funk or anything interesting, perhaps some soda – root beer or cola. There is a bit of tannin to prevent this from being all sugar and acid. The finish was just sugary sweet.

After three hours of air: alright, this wine needs to sit in the decanter for at least 2 ½ hours. The acid has gone from overpowering to quite reasonable. Some earth has started to come through on the nose. This is still somewhat sweet, but far more pleasant with airtime – still cherry and vanilla, but far more pleasant. A bit of oak and earth come through – mildly, mind you – as well. The finish is mainly cherry, but not sickly sweet as it was.

At $10 this is fairly competitive at this pricepoint – while I wouldn't call it great, after a few hours of air, this is quite enjoyable even though it's missing some nice Pinot qualities (that you wouldn't find in 98% of cheap Pinot anyway). That being said – it does not compare to the quality of the Reserve Shiraz.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

N/V Segura Viudas Brut Reserva

It's a recurring theme here – we want something sparkling, but we don't want to spend a lot. I'm just about giving up on the regular grocery stores – all the cheap stuff they have is just not worth revisiting – but we have had luck at Trader Joe's. This was seven bucks.

A mild nose with white bread and perhaps some lemon.

Nice and crisp – lime and green apple notes. Dry – no sweetness at all really – and very good acid with some mineral notes as well.

Lime and slate on the finish.

I'm definitely buying this one again – no weirdness or fake sweetness, just an all around good and easy drinking sparkler. Highly recommended.

2004 Beringer Knight's Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

This has been in our fridge for a while – my research tells me this goes for close to $20, though based on its location in our fridge, I couldn't have paid more than $15.

Herbal notes mostly, but also blackberry and black cherry on the nose.

Very nice – cherry, black fruit, oak, firm tannins, lots of herbal action, and a nice punch of eucalyptus.

More menthol notes on the finish, plus oak, and a slight bit of cherry – mostly earth and herbs though.

A very nice Cabernet – since I don't recall what I paid, we can just say this is a $20 bottle – and still I'll say this a solid bottle and worth recommending. If I found this on sale somewhere, I'd grab it and put it away for a couple years to see what happens. This may have some potential.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

2004 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot

I know this wine frequently gets big points and realized we have never tried it – for $7 I'm game....especially with the good luck from The Little Penguin's Cabernet and Yellow Tail's Reserve Shiraz.

Cherry, earth, and cigar box on the nose.

Cherry pie filling, peach, spice, tobacco, earth, cedar, and a bit of mocha on the palate. A nice balance – a slight bit of sweetness, but the wood, and a nice zing of acid really balance this out.

A fuzzy, oaky, cigar like finish lingers for a while.

I tend to go into highly rated cheap wines with very hesitant optimism, but man – this is beyond solid and a phenomenal bargain at seven bucks. I asked Fran what she thought this one cost – she's got a talent for guessing within a few dollars – she estimated upper teens to $20. I plan on grabbing a few of these next time I'm out to keep on hand.

N/V Korbel Chardonnay Sparkling Wine

I felt like something sparkling and didn't want to spend much...the grocery store had this one which I don't think we've tried before. In fact, as I look back at the blog, we've never tried just the plain old regular Korbel Brut – something I'll have to grab next time I'm at the store.

A slightly metallic nose.

A touch of sweetness, green apples, and even some nice yeastiness. Quite a bit of bread – more white bread crusts than anything. The bubbles fade quickly – the bottle was all but flat after an hour.

Nothing on the finish that's worth noting other than some more notes of bread.

For a mass market, cheap sparkling wine this isn't bad. Obviously you can do better, but for the price and ease of access this is a safe bet. If you're having a lot of people over, this may be a decent thing to serve as you'll go through the bottle before the bubbling stops.