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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Brief note

No - we didn't go on a giant drinking binge.

I recently discovered an old file with notes I never put up - we're just about caught up now.

2005 Cameron Hughes Lot 35 Yountville District

This one was about ten bones at Costco and I believe they have some sort of exclusive arrangement for this particular lot.

Extremely weak nose....nothing really jumps out at all.

A mild palate as well at first but it opens well enough after a couple hours – some cherry comes through at first and tannins are present right away, mid palate brings some eucalyptus, and more cherry come through on the back palate.

Some dried spices come through on the finish.

It starts off boring but with a bit of airtime this wine becomes somewhat interesting. For $10 I'd say grab a bottle and see what you think. It's strikingly mild which I suppose is preferable to the fruit bomb trend, but I'm not quite sold.

2004 Domaine Roblet-Monnet Bourgogne Vieilles Vignes Pinot Noir

This was an ultra bargain – something like $8 marked down from over $20 – and I do recall it was the last bottle they had, let's see how we do.

Earth on the nose.

A lot of acid, a lot of funk, some barnyard, and a fairly thin mouthfeel (not necessarily a bad thing). There are some unpleasant notes of grape stems - something I rarely taste but is certainly present here. A bit of chocolate, some spice, a little bit of vanilla, and as the bottle opens up some *very* distinct cherry cola notes – excellent.

The earthiness and some herbal notes linger for some time.

Even closer to $20 this would be fine....good Burgundy doesn't come cheap and this one, while flawed, has more pros than cons.

2006 Galena Cellars Eric The Red Marechal Foch

We bought this from the winery's tasting room in Geneva, Illinois after enjoying a sample.

A bit earthy, a bit funky, a bit chocolaty, and a bit of rotten raspberry on the nose.

Fairly smooth, not much in terms of tannin but a fair amount of acid. Rich dark fruit – blackberry, plum – and a fair amount of chocolate.

Chocolate covered cherries that are just a bit too old is what the finish tells me.

Clearly a somewhat odd wine – it's the sort of thing that you try and know it's either an odd varietal or from a weird region – both are true. While not bad, my palate is forgiving of this style where others may not be.

2006 Penfolds Koonunga Hillls Shiraz – Cabernet Sauvignon

Nine bucks and highly rated, why not?

Lots of dark stuff on the nose – plum, blackberry, some chocolate, and black cherry.

Not bad – definitely a big wine – chocolate covered cherries, plums, some mild tobacco notes, a bit of vanilla comes through as well as some black pepper and dried spices.

Candied cherries linger for some time along with some oak and spices.

Nest day: Chocolate covered cherries on the nose. A huge, black fruit palate with a touch of flabbiness...some vanilla comes through from the oak as well as a hint of black pepper. It seems to have gotten bigger but simpler.

Nice complexities on an under $10 bottle and definitely worth a look.

2006 Three Knights Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

I believe it was in an old issue of Wine Spectator where I read Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley is probably the safest bet. Is it safe even if it's a measly seven bucks from Trader's Joe's?

A bit of strawberry, a bit of vanilla, and a bit of funk on the nose.

Lots of vanilla – strong enough that it's weird – some cherry, strawberry, mild tannins, and solid acid – a good structure all around.

The tannins come forward on the finish with some lingering strawberry notes.

I can't argue with this as a bottle of cheap wine, but if you're looking for a good quality Pinot Noir, look away.

2006 Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio

You know, I've seen this wine around for some time and I finally broke down and grabbed a bottle. This one goes for between $16 and $25 depending on where you shop – I have no access to sales figures and the like but my assumption is this is probably the most popular Pinot Grigio in the United States – from serious wine shops to Costco to the local grocery store, to almost any Italian restaurant's wine list, this one seems to everywhere.....but does it deserve to be?

Ultra tart apples and a little bit of pear on the nose with the slightest hint of gasoline.

Fruity, yet ultimately fairly dry. Apples, a little bit of grape jelly, some very dry stone fruit, maybe a bit of lime, and there is some decent mineral character here.

The finish is fades quick and is mostly lime.

I'll call this absurdly mediocre – there's nothing here, other than perhaps some less residual sugar, that you can't get in any number of cheaper Pinot Grigio out there.

N/V L Mawby Blanc de Noir Cuvee 124

The label here says “en tirage June 2006 / degorgement December 2007”

From a foot away you get a big whiff of bread dough but as you get closer some distinct red apples notes with a bit of nuttiness take over the nose.

Lots of crisp red apples on the palate, fruity but dry, a bit floral, and some solid yeasty notes make this a very nice well rounded bottle.

Good acid comes through on the finish with lingering apple

At $18 this is an easy recommendation. L Mawby rocks.

N/V L Mawby Blanc de Blanc Cuvee 118

The label on this one says “en tirage March 2006 / degorgement June 2008”

Citrus and walnuts on the nose.

Fairly mild – crisp, fruity, and a slight bit of sugar – good acid, sour green apple, pear, and orange zest and a bit of grapefruit all with just a bit of toastiness.

Orange rind and grapefruit linger on the finish

A solid bottle all around – while the $18 pricetag doesn't scream bargain, this is certainly a solid bottle and one I can't argue with. Recommended.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

N/V Codorniu Pinot Noir Cava Rose

You know the drill - summer + heat + $10 sparkling wine = good time.

Not much on the nose other than just a bit of watermelon.

Light, crisp, somewhat fruity yet still dry. A bit of the watermelon comes through, some mild strawberry notes – not a good quality farmer's market strawberry, a gigantic out of season grocery store strawberry where it's mostly white on the inside but it still sort of tastes like strawberry (consider this an indictment of the berry, not the wine).

The acid presents itself nicely on the finish along with some strange lingering watermelon notes....imagine chopping a watermelon on a cedar plank, letting the juice sit on the plank for an hour, and then licking it this a good thing? I'm still not sure.

Generally, when I come up with goofy descriptions I recommend if for no other reason than it makes me think....this is no exception.

2006 Gabbiano Rosato Toscana

The lazy dog dangling days of summer are rapidly making their way out, so what better way to enjoy it than with a rosato. I found this one at Trader Joe's for $1.99 not too long ago – every so often they get a new variety from a large producer for dirt cheap – I'd expect to find this for probably closer to $8 in the store.

Just a little bit of strawberry and spice on the nose.

Bone dry and just the slightest bit tannic. Very light fruit, hard to pick out – really, the strongest flavors are stone fruit – peaches for the most part. A little bit of cherry as well.

The tannins present themselves a bit more of the finish with just a bit of lingering fruit.

For $2 this is obvious. For $8 I'd still consider it even though I'd be far less giddy about it.

2005 Meinklang Beerenauslese

I've had this sitting in the fridge for quite a while – I recall getting it on a great clearance deal but don't recall any specifics other than part of me thinks I paid about $8 and the retail was much higher.

A strong nose of honey and dried apricot.

Thick and viscous – honey and dried fruit – apricot, apple, peach, fig, and golden raisins – though it's quite sweet but it's really not cloying.

Dried apple is quite strong on the finish.

No complaints other than it is perhaps a bit simple.

2005 XS Red California Cabernet Sauvignon

This was four bones on clearance at World Market, so what the heck?

A little bit of rotten strawberry on the nose.

Hmmm....fairly light, some garbage, a little bit of chocolate, some strawberry, and decent tannins.

Some herbal notes come through on the finish – dried Italian spices – and chocolate.

You know, this isn't half bad for the price...the garbage notes aren't entirely pleasant but they're at least interesting. Give this a Tombstone pizza or something of equal quality and you can have a decent cheap night.

N/V Pommery Pop Extra Dry Champagne

The regular price here is around $40, but I grabbed it as it was marked down to $21.99 – a solid price for any real Champagne

Some toast, yeast, and even a bit of 7-Up on the nose.

A bit yeasty, some nice doughy notes, along with some citrus notes – lime zest mostly – just a slight bit of nuttiness too. There's some sweetness but everything really blends together nicely.

For $22 you might find a more interesting domestic sparkler but you'd be hard pressed to find another Champagne. It's not bad, in fact it's rather good, but when we're talking full pricepoint, I just can't say this is something I'd consider buying again.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

2006 Bear's Lair Viognier

This was four bucks at Trader's Joe and I bought it on a whim.

Tropical fruit on the nose – papaya and pineapple mostly.

Feels a bit viscous in the mouth, some spicy notes, and a bit of fruit – quite dry over all actually.

This is interesting as the finish is huge while the palate is somewhat muted....lots of spice and tropical fruit – papaya and maybe even some guava with lingering vanilla bean and at the very end some strong lime notes coming through. An insanely long finish for almost any wine, let alone one under five bones.

This is a tough bottles to complain about...dirt cheap and surprisingly complex. I like my Viognier with more melon on the flavor profile but hey – four bucks? I'm sold.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

2005 Husch Anderson Valley Pinot Noir

This is one of my last super ultra discont wines – marked from about $20 to under $10. It was great while it lasted.

The nose is quite interesting – cat piss, chocolate, and Coke. Interesting.

A bit fuzzy – chocolate, cherry, cola, strawberry, a big dollop of oak, some cinnamon and other spices – almost a cayenne pepper hit.

Where this fails is the finish – maybe some cola lingers and perhaps some strawberry, but really it's disappears quickly.

Even if this was $20 I'd still give it a strong recommendation – I'm sad I only got one bottle – good quality Pinot is tough to get and this one definitely is a good one in this price range.

2006 Newman's Own Cabernet Sauvignon

I have to admit – I like Paul Newman's products but I have no idea who he my attempts to come up with a snarky comment about this all I could think of was Robert Redford or Richard Dreyfuss – so who the hell is Paul Newman, other than a guy who makes solid pasta sauce and lemonade? I think he taught Tom Cruise how to hustle? Anyway – this was about $12 and is made by the Three Thieves so I'm going in with high expectations.

Twizzlers and smoke on the nose – an odd combination.

Mildly tannic, a nice fuzzy feeling coats the tongue, some nice blackberry notes, a bit of vanilla, and some very dark, very ripe – almost bordering on slightly dried – fruit, like a plum that needs six hours in the dehydrator but only got three. Very nice – soft and easy drinking.

A little bit of wood and a whole punch of black fruit fade quickly..

Some may complain it's too simple and perhaps it is, but at this pricepoint there's no issue here at all.

Monday, August 11, 2008

2006 Hogue Columbia Valley Riesling

Hogue is a reliable producer and I grabbed this because it was on sale for about seven dollars.

Mostly apricot on the nose.

Great stuff – a bit of spice, a bit of sugar, and a bit of acid – as balanced as you'll get, especially at the price. The palate is all lightly spiced stone fruit – peaches, nectarines, apricots. Sweet enough I'd almost call it Auslese in style.

The acid lingers as well as more of that nice stone fruit.

On the second day, almost all the stone fruit went away and was replaced with grapefruit. Nose, palate, finish – all pink grapefruit with a bit of zest and rind on the palate. The balance of sugar and acid was still acceptable but the flavor structure changed.

If you're interested in QPR, and you like your Rieslings with some sweetness, you can't go wrong here.

2005 Big House Wine Company Prodigal Son Petite Sirah

This one ran about $14 at World Market, if memory serves.

A tight and funky nose at first but it opens to reveal barnyard, anise, leather, earth, and oak.

Funky barnyard with big fruit – ripe plum, blackberry – a fair amount of vegetal pepper and onion....and plenty of cedar and cigar box.

Leather and tobacco present themselves on the finish.

It's interesting but I'm not sure all the funk is working for me.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

2005 Tutu California Pinot Grigio

This was about $13 a while back, I admit it, I thought the label was amusing.

A weird, funky nose – almost cheese like.

Interesting. Crisp green apple, some minerality, a strange balance of acid and fruit, and a bit more of that weird soft cheese (I'm thinking Brie) – a somewhat unpleasant profile. What I dislike about this wine is somewhat new to me, so I'm struggling to put my finger on it.

The finish fades fast but leads a thick coating on the palate.

Not good....not good at all. I've said before it's hard to screw up Pinot Grigio – this proves it can be done....screw this, save your money and buy Gabbiano.

N/V (?) Botham Vineyards Riesling

We were in Wisconsin and I saw a section of “local wine” at a shop we were visiting so I figured to grab this one for about ten bones.

The nose here is artificial peach – like a peach Jolly Rancher.

At 10.4% alcohol this one is very light and dangerously quaffable. Very smooth – not a lot of acid, and while it's sweet there's a nice balance here – very light bodied. Mild peachy notes – imagine the syrup of canned peaches but watered down severely. That's about it really.

The finish's peachy notes linger for a surprisingly long time.

So this one depends on what you like I suppose – I prefer my Rieslings a bit sharper, but this one just seems to work for me. It's easy drinking and simple – if that makes you cringe then avoid it but I occasionally go for this type of thing and it more than works as a picnic or patio wine.

Monday, August 04, 2008

N/V (?) Sacred Stone Master's Red Blend Old World Style Red Wine

Welcome to post #400! I didn't expect to reach post 40, let alone 400. I was thinking about using this very special occasion to open something fancy pants but the more I thought about it, the more I thought the spirit of this blog is to enjoy wine but to try to find something good and cheap, so I present to you a great $10 wine. Maybe post #500 will be something pricey.

Not sure where I got this – the usual places don't seem to carry it. A brief poke around the internet shows this blend of Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, Sangiovesse, and Zinfandel goes for about ten dollars.

To me, the nose just screams “Black!” Black fruit – blackberry, dark ultra ripe plums – maybe even prune, black dirt, and asphalt.

Quite mild with tannins but big on black fruit and very powerful on the spice – black pepper almost assaults the palate with loads of dried Italian spices.

Black cherry with cinnamon and other spices lingers for quite some time on the finish.

The second day brings an asphalt nose. The palate now has a nice bit of chocolate to compliment the rest of the black flavors – which have somewhat mellowed. Still lots of black pepper and spice but it's all calmed down with black cherry and eucalyptus being predominant.

Should I see this bottle at ten bucks again I'll be grabbing a case. Phenomenal QPR.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

2006 Vino Sin Ley G4 Grenache

I don't recall why I bought this – it's been on the rack for a while, it either came recommended from the wine shop or we tried at a tasting and dug it...either way, this is about ten bucks.

Earthy and chocolatey notes on the nose.

Earth, cherry, and chocolate. Not a whole lot of oak or tannins – this is a very nice, smooth wine. Well made and a great value.

There's a bit of heat on the finish with some more of that dark chocolate.

For $10, this is an obvious recommendation – a solid and well-made Old World Grenache which I'm a big fan of.