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Saturday, September 27, 2008

2007 M. Chapoutier Bellerche Cotes-du-Rhone Rose

Nine bucks and a reputable producer sounded like a safe bet to go with some Indian food.

No nose to speak of.

Dry tart cherry, some subtle spicy notes – cinnamon mostly – as the wine sees some air some strawberry creeps forward.

Not much finishing other than some lingering tannins.

I like roses – in fact, I could drink them daily if they'd let me - but every so often you grab a random crappy one....this isn't terrible, but it's not enjoyable...for a few bucks less you can get something significantly better.

Wine: 4
QPR: 1

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

N.V. Georges Dubœuf Cuvée Rouge Vin de Table Français

Six bucks at Trader Joe's, this was. Tricky review to write, this is. Judge a bottle for what it is, I must. Enough Yoda talk – this is, by design, a simple, quaffable wine that isn't meant to have serious analysis – a “table wine” - no grape, no region, no vintage....I can almost hear the winemaker telling me “shut up and drink it.”

I get nothing on the nose – maybe possibly an empty bag which used to contain some potting soil.

This is basically like a decent (and more expensive) Beaujolais (Villages, definitely better than Nouveau). Simple, easy to quaff, lots of acid, no discernible oak or complexity. Tart cherry is it for fruit, there's an odd wateriness in the mid palate with the mouth drying tannins and cheek puckering acid coming through at the back of the palate.

The tannins and acid stick around from the back palate into the finish with some sour berries, perhaps of the rasp raspberry? Is there such a thing? If so, this is it – if not, crush some blackberries and some raspberries and mix the juice together.

I'll tell you what this wine is – a highly recommendable or, dare I say, ideal Thanksgiving wine. Great for an occasion where you don't want anything too fancy or expensive, something you can sit back and wash down a huge dinner with while enjoying good company.

I'm torn on how to rate this. It's not an 8 bottle of wine – in the grand scheme of things it's perhaps a 6 – but for what it is trying to be, a simple easy quaff, meant for casual enjoyment, it's an easy 10. In terms of QPR, a comparable Beaujolais would easily be double the price and for that I must sing this one's praises.

Wine: 8*
QPR: 10

Sunday, September 21, 2008

2003 Adelsheim TF Willamette Valley

What's TF? Tocai Friulano. A varietal from northeastern Italy which the folks at Adelsheim fell in love with on a visit to the region. It's an oddball one to be sure. I discovered this in the fridge and cringed a bit at the 2003 date, but here goes. The 2006 of this sells from the winery for $22 – my cost for the 2003, on clearance no doubt due to the age, $6.

Interesting nose – lavender comes through strongly with some tropical fruit – lychee?

Oddly viscous – this is an interestingly “heavy” wine. Dry with a fair amount of acid and still some fruit – this is showing better than I expected. Lots of pineapple, quite a bit of lime, some nice minerality and loads of spiced tropical fruit – unripe canned and spiced things like guava and papaya are here (I must mention I unripe spiced papaya, though interesting, isn't something I'd seek out).

The lime sticks around for a while.

So here's where ratings are flawed – I find this wine quite interesting though not particularly delicious...a simple wine with this profile would be below five but how can I bash a wine this interesting and well made? Let me introduce you to the asterisk.

This wines ratings get asterisks on both fronts. The QPR asterisk is because I have no choice but to judge that based on what I paid for this particular vintage. The wine rating is adjusted for interest – I don't find this wine to be tasty, but it's more than interesting and its flaws may be due to age.

Wine: 7*
QPR: 7*

Thursday, September 18, 2008

2006 Chateau Grand Traverse Gamay Noir Limited Bottling

My apologies for the “photo” - I either forgot to take or mistakenly deleted the actual photo....normally I'd just cancel the review but this bottle strongly deserves praise.

Alrighty – a Gamay Noir, they call it Gamay in France but they throw the Noir here in the States to make it sound fancy I suppose. This bottle is about $12 which is about the pricepoint that you can get (or used to be able to get before the dollar collapsed) a decent Beaujolais Village do we compare?

Earth, cherry, and a bit of mint on the nose.

Good balance – lots of dirt, some tart cherry notes, some nice herbaceous qualities, a bit of chocolate covered raspberry as the bottle opens, some interesting cola notes come through..

Some mint, menthol, and other herbs linger on the finish for quite some time with some good acid sticking around really making the mouth water.

Give this wine some food and you're good to go, a great deal at $12 - why in the world I only bought one bottle of this will be a mystery for years to come. Twelve bucks for a bottle this good made with an offbeat varietal in an unusual wine region? This bottle represents why I love wine.

Wine: 8
QPR: 9

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2006 Feudo Arancio Nero d'Avola

This was seven bucks at the mighty Costco – we haven't had too many Sicilian wines but this varietal is pretty reliable at the lower pricepoints.

There's really not much on the nose.

On first sip, I was going to annihilate this one but it improves as it opens. Chocolaty and earthy, with cherry and fairly potent clove spice. Some cheap Italian wine is light bodied and highly acidic, this is the other kind – dark, heavy, and chocolaty – now this isn't necessarily a bad thing, but to me the simplicity and flaws in this darker style jump out more.

On the second day the nose opened big time – chocolate, cherry,

The palate here has taken a turn for the worse – the flavors haven't changed but some bitterness is coming through that's rather unpleasant.

The finish tastes like garbage – not necessarily a bad thing, but not all that great here.

We had the other half of the bottle two days later....

No nose other than some very faint oak notes. Still a bit flabby but the balance improves nicely – chocolate, cherry, bell pepper, cigar box, and some faint spice notes, and the acid comes through fine. The finish suggests bell pepper and chocolate but it fades fast.

The ratings here assume you let this wine open or pour a glass and finish the bottle a day or two later – even with that qualification, it's still a five.

Wine: 5
QPR: 5

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

N/V Krug Brut Grand Cuvee

Alright dude – Krug. Whoa! Big time. Here at The Wineauxs when good news hits – like that of a new job - we celebrate in style – for example, this (half) bottle.

Alright – pop this, pour it, and wait 30 minutes. It opens beautifully but I was severely let down at first pour with how tight it was. Orange rind, not quite ripe peach, and some great yeast on the nose.

It's rare that I'd say this, but this is just about flawless. Apricots, nuts, peaches, red apples, green apples, bread dough, coffee, pears – I can probably sit here and rattle off five different things I get with each sip. I won't bother, I'd rather sit back and enjoy it then type about it.

The finish lingers an extended period and is that asphalt I'm getting in the distance? I think it is.

Absurdly priced but goddamn if it ain't absurdly good.

Wine: 10

Monday, September 15, 2008

2006 Peirano Estate Vineyards The Other

To quote Homer Simpson: “I can see why this is so popular!” This is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 10% Shiraz. This ran me just about $12....I could've bought a lot of Duff Beer with that money.

Some dried candied cherries are on the nose here with perhaps a bit of cinnamon.

For fruit, I seem to only be getting some plum – but this is seriously lacking in backbone which sadly makes this a tad bit flabby once it hits the palate. The mid and back palate improve somewhat with cinnamon and oak making their way through and the acid finally presenting itself.

A somewhat pruney finish – perhaps a prune with some Italian spices.

The fact that a wine with these issues goes for over ten bucks means this gets a "boo" instead of a "boo-urns."

Wine: 4
QPR: 3

Sunday, September 14, 2008

2006 Chateau Grand Traverse Pinot Noir Vin Gris

You don't see this sort of thing all that often – vin gris – white wine made with a grape typically used for red, in this case Pinot Noir. The wine sees no contact with the skins so check out the color – a very light salmon color. This interesting wine goes for $9 for a 500 ml bottle.

A somewhat difficult wine to describe – a bit hot even though the alcohol level is fairly low. Spiced – perhaps overspiced – unripened peaches. There's some unripe melon as well – or maybe better stated as a bit of melon that's cut a bit too close to the rind. Thick and viscous, not quite dry but hardly sweet, perhaps somewhat weak due it's being a bit short on acid

Some lingering creaminess on the finish, a bit of heat, and lingering unripe stone fruit.

Though the wine isn't perfect, if you're at all interested in something a bit different it's worth a look.

Wine: 6
QPR: 8 (due to it being interesting)

Friday, September 12, 2008

2005 Gruet Pinot Noir

This was fifteen bucks at this very odd liquor's a strange place. Rather big - with the cheapest crappiest booze on one side and an incredibly interesting (though quite dusty) wine selection on the other. We've had Gruet's sparkling wines before and respected them, so this seemed to be worth a gamble.

As this wine opens you can smell cola several inches away from the glass, but when you stick your nose in a fair amount of cinnamon and clove with some earthiness comes overwhelm anything else.

Raspberry, chocolate, earth, and some really interesting tangerine zest qualities – on the back of the palate there's some interesting sassafras notes. This bottle had some extremely unpleasant, excessively potent dried spice notes (oregano and the like) – normally not a bad thing but it was strong and quite bitter. After being open for two hours, this completely blew off – so if you get a bottle of this I'd highly suggest decanting it for a few hours.

Chocolate notes, perhaps in the chocolate covered raspberry sense linger on the finish.

Wine: 7
QPR: 7

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

2007 Two Lads Cabernet Franc Rose

Alright – Two Lads – perhaps the most exciting winery I've encountered recently.....I have forgotten what I paid, but a website that seems reputable lists this at $17.

A fairly dark rose, almost ruby in color – (I've seen Pinot Noirs darker than this) – the nose brings raspberry coffee cake.

A big palette – a sharp bite of cranberry, bright cherry, raspberry jam, a nice zing of acid, some interesting spicy notes, and just a bit of sugar. My notes from the tasting room say this struck me as dry, but while it's not sweet, I wouldn't say this is “dry.”

The cranberry sticks around – almost like cranberry Jones Soda that you can get around Thanksgiving time – but as it fades some earthiness comes through.

I remember really liking this at the winery, but as I drink this bottle I like it even more. An outstanding bottle – next time we're in this area I hope they have some left as we'd definitely grab a case of this one.

Wine: 8.5
QPR: 8

Sunday, September 07, 2008

2005 Shafer One Point Five Cabernet Sauvignon

Fran's birthday is here and what better way to celebrate than with an absurdly priced bottle of wine? This one ran seventy bones and is actually a lower end offering from Shafer (their “regular” Cab retails at over $200).

This is a nose – like opening a cigar box lined with ripe blackberries. This clearly shouts expensive because with just a couple of ounces in the glass and a few seconds of swirling you can smell this wine with the glass half a foot away from your face.

I don't know much about many “ageworthy” wines but as my wine drinking experience deepens, I think I'm beginning to get it – this wine is clearly a fantastic wine but it's not quite perfect – there needs to be a bit more harmony and some hard tinged aspects need time to mellow. That being said with a few hours in the decanter this has opened nicely – more of that cigar box, cedar chest, tobacco, quite a bit of herbs (rosemary, sassafras, and a potent amount of sage), with some chocolate. Lots of acid here – this wine almost requires a steak. The fruit comes closer from the background as the bottle opens – the only thing I could detect at first was some very mild blackberry but after a bit some blueberry and black cherry notes are coming through..

Chocolate lingers on the finish which is surprisingly short.

A short finish on a $70 bottle? Hmmm. So here's the thing – if you found this page because you're well to do and you buy this by the case (or you're absurdly rich and want to see how this cheap stuff compares to the regular stuff) then my opinion will be woefully inept. If you're like me and occasionally splurge on this sort of thing, then to be blunt, I don't know – I've had bottles at this pricepoint that have kicked my ass all over my apartment – this one is good, damn good, but I'm simply not blown away. If I stumbled upon this for cheap or received it as a gift I'd put it away for five years or so and then give it a shot.

Wine: 9

New feature (of sorts) - Ratings

A lot of sites and publications assign points or grades which is something we've avoided. The more I think about it, the more I think a numbering system will be useful, if for nothing else than my own wine memory.

Actually - make that two numbering systems.

The first will be the basic rating - with a range from 1-10 (half points allowed). The rating is an evaluation of the wine as it stands with various factors in mind, but completely unconcerned with price. The number is totally subjective to our palates so they are to be taken with a grain of salt.

The second will be a QPR rating - this system was abandoned on 12/31/08, so posts between now and then will have "Quality Price Ratio." If we grab a $5 wine and we think it's a seven, that's impressive and the QPR number will be rather high, a $25 bottle that's seven will have a low QPR.

The numbers meanings are as follows:

10 - among the best wines (or deals) we've had.

9 - fantastic.

8 - excellent, I'd buy it again.

7 - I'll call this one "damn good."

6 - good, this is by no means a bad wine – a 6 would be a recommendation assuming the QPR is strong – but these typically would be considered to be just a bit too simple for nerdy study like this.

5 - fine, but completely boring.

4 - drinkable, but there are problems.

3 - there may be some redeeming value here but I'm not convinced.

2 - downright unpleasant.

1 - yikes.

2006 Fenn Valley Meritage

We enjoyed this one at the tasting room and for the price it seemed like one to get. This is a Bordeaux blend of Cab Sauvignon, Cab Franc, and Merlot and all the grapes were grown in southwest Michigan.

A big nose – spice, vanilla, and cherry at first but as the bottle opens the nose brings some distinct plum notes take over.

I would've thought this was Italian – earthy, chocolatey, some cola notes, lots of acid, some dried Italian spices, all with some nice tart cherry. Medium bodied with some very nice tannic structure.

The finish lingers for some time with the earth and chocolate sticking around the longest.

For $16 this falls right into line with what I'd expect and makes this is a fairly easy recommendation.

N/V Tabor Hill Red Heritage

I'm not sure what the price on this one was in the tasting room, but I do recall it was in the $10 range.

A funky nose – carob and rotten raspberry.

Smooth, easy drinking, but by no means dumb – a nice fuzziness, some cherry, cedar, chocolate, tobacco, and surprisingly pronounced tannins.

Some nice herbal notes come through on the finish with some chocolate and raspberry.

This is pretty damn good – it's perhaps not the most complex wine on the planet, but for the price, it's solid – earthy, fruity, well balanced, and interesting enough to get a solid recommendation.

Friday, September 05, 2008

N/V Black Star Farms Red House Red

Black Star was a good place and we grabbed this one because our sample in the tasting room screamed QPR.

I get some distinct cola notes on this nose which wins me over immediately.

Some earthy and funky notes with some cherry and raspberry – it's a soft wine and it could use some more backbone but I believe they're striving for an easy quaffable pizza wine and this more than succeeds.

The finish fades but the sour cherry notes linger with some earthiness.

When one thinks of a non-vintage table wine most people automatically assume it's going to be crap – rest assured this one is certainly solid and well worth the $11 pricetag.

2005 Bowers Harbor Cabernet Franc Erica Vineyard

Cabernet Franc is immensely popular in Michigan – it is probably one of the easiest grapes to grow in the area and it's something most wineries make. I didn't keep my receipts but the winery's website lists this at $25 (a number that seems high to me).

A bit of earth and a bunch of tart cherry on the nose.

Nicely balanced – some good earthiness along with the black fruit – black cherry and casssis – plus a touch of sweet oak give it some good backbone.

Some vanilla notes come through as well as some plum and a bit of oak.

So let's go with that this does go for $25 – it's a small producer in a fairly unusual region and a relatively obscure grape for a single varietal wine - and they knock it out of the park.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

2007 Fenn Valley Chambourcin

I bought this thinking it was a damn good example of the varietal and a good value at $12.

Earth, carob, and spice on the nose.

Raspberry, chocolate, and tobacco with some odd rosemary touches. Some acidic zing lingers on the mid and back palate, dried spices, potent strawberry, and almost a bit of saltiness.

Tart cherry with some lingering earthiness on the finish.

Good rule of thumb about Chambourcin – decant for at least an hour or two – there's a loud of funk and weirdness in this varietal but it normally blows off. If I did notes on first pour from the recently opened bottle I'd say it was all weird and funky with way too much acid. For $12 this is a fine example and well worth a look.

2005 Shady Lane Pinot Noir Leelanau Peninsula

We hit up this winery on our recent trip to Michigan and found this wine enjoyable enough to grab a bottle.

The nose here is distinct and clear – cherry cola gummy candy.

Cherry cola on the palate as well with some sharp acid. While I wouldn't call this simple, the dominating forces here are cherry cola – which to me is outstanding.

The finish brings some interesting notes of bell pepper

Day two brings more cherry and cola notes but the bell pepper has worked its way onto the palate and some chocolate notes start coming through as well.

At $16 this is easily one of the better under $20 Pinot Noirs that we've had from any region. Well done.

2003 Domaine Bott-Geyl Pinot Gris Beblenheim

I have no recollection about why I bought this wine other than it was on clearance and ran me under $10....really, that's all the reason I need.

Interesting floral notes with some hints of gasoline.

I certainly didn't expect this. Rather acidic, some strange gasoline essence plus floral notes and quite a bit of tea – sort of like orange blossom tea sweetened with honey. The feel on the mouth is somewhat thin – so the flavor profile is somewhat like a very mellow and light Sauternes, but definitely not the same mouthfeel. Interesting, strange, not unlike anything I've had really. There seems to be just a kiss of oak here but I wouldn't bet my life on it.

The finish has a sort of fuzzy honey feel.

To my knowledge there is nothing on the label that would suggest this is not a typical Alsatian (dry) white, but as long as you know what you're in for this is definitely a wine I can recommend