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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

2005 Chateau Combray Bordeaux

I'm not sure where I read or heard – but the old rule is that in good vintages you can buy cheap stuff and in bad vintages you should splurge on the big boys. 2005 was known as a great Bordeaux vintage and I'll be blunt – I grabbed every under $10 bottle I could find – this one was seven. Let's take a look.

A funky nose – earth, oak, menthol, tobacco, and some alcohol.

Let this wine open for two hours. Before this wine saw a fair amount of air, it was almost like a piece of gum. It had a burst of cherry flavor but the longer you swished and swirled the more the flavor faded. Bright tart cherry, some oak, a bit of cigar box, and a reasonable amount of dried spices – from anise to oregano to eucalyptus. The acid and tannins become more pronounced with air as well – this went from completely dull to quite reasonable. It's a simple wine, even with concentration, and as such – with mild acid, fruit, and tannins – can be deemed little more than a simple quaff.

There are some some dried spices, perhaps some cherry and cinnamon, even a touch of mint.

This has some nice Bordeaux qualities and it's tough to criticize a cheap Bordeaux that actually has some reasonable essence of the region even without the complexity and nuances. If you've never had Bordeaux, this may be a good wine to try. To me, if you just drink this wine – just consuming it with pizza or whatnot – it's fine, good in fact. The more you think about it, the less it stands up – serve this at a party, with a large group of friends, or as the third bottle at a dinner party and you'll be fine.

Wine: 6.5
QPR: 6.5

Saturday, October 25, 2008

2003 Rubicon Estate Cask Cabernet Sauvignon

Rubicon – the classy Coppola winery – I've been wanting to try wine from this producer for some time but have avoided it – this half bottle ran me thirty bones, so you see why.

Big vanilla and cherry on the nose.

At first I wasn't convinced but the longer I have this in the glass the more I'm sold (in other words – decant 3+ hours) – plenty of vanilla, lots of tart cherry, some ripe strawberry, rich chocolate – not in the funky/earthy/baking chocolate kind of way, but legitimate hints of a dark chocolate candy bar, great balanced tannins.

The oak sticks around on the finish with some nice tart strawberry notes.

A great wine – excellent depth, great fruit, solid backbone – perhaps not quite worth the price, but a solid effort.

Wine: 9

Thursday, October 23, 2008

2007 Olympic Cellars Rose the Riveter

This bottle was ten bucks at the local shop. I've never denied being a sucker for a cool label and the guy working said it was a strong offering.

A note on proper serving temperatures: when I first opened this bottle, poured a glass knowing it was somewhat too cold and my reaction was: “this is boring and flabby” - read on for what a wine I think of this wine when it's cool, but not cold.

Peach and strawberry on the nose.

Nice – same as the nose really – peach and strawberry with a nectarine punch in the face. Fruity, but not really sweet, “just on the edge of off-dry” I'd call it. I'd say this has just the right amount of acid which gives this a great balance. A slight bit of cherry is hanging out in the mid-palate.

The finish is insane. Strawberry and nectarine all the way – they last for an absurd length of time and are almost pure fruit though there is a hit of black pepper.

The other day I gave a very low score to a rose because you it was dull, especially in the price range – the reason why that wine isn't worth drinking is because of bottles like this. This is easily in my top five roses of all time.

Wine: 9
QPR: 9

Monday, October 20, 2008

N/V Tabor Hill Red Arrow Red

This was about $10 at the winery's tasting room. The Chicago Tribune did a nice write up on midwest wineries and this was one of the bottles featured, and for good reason.

The nose has some chocolate, earth, some oakiness, and nice mild cinnamon and clove spice notes, and quite interestingly as it opens, some fresh red apple peel seems to be poking through.

If this wine has a fault it's that there's not enough fruit, the only thing I really get is some red pear....its dominated by oak, spice – more clove and cinnamon with some anise with a solid acidic backbone.

The finish fades fairly quick but is mostly those brown spices with some tart cherries as well.

A nice bottle for a solid price - very enjoyable and great QPR.

Wine: 7
QPR: 7

Thursday, October 16, 2008

N/V M Lawrence Obama Brut Batch #13

This Obama wine was $16 at the local shop and an obvious choice....not unlike the candidate himself.

A fruity nose – peachy for the most part.

Putting politics and the label aside, this is probably the best M. Lawrence wine we've tried. Loads of fruit – peach, strawberry, some citrus as well – a little bit sweet but light in body which I think really brings it together nicely.

Tropical fruit on the finish – papaya, pineapple, and a bit of orange blossom.

This is a solid wine from a fantastic producer – I've tried a bunch of sparkling wines, hundreds if you consider what we've done at wine tastings – and simply put L Mawby is among the best sparkling wine producers in the United States. This wine, along with many of their others, is proof why.

Wine: 10
QPR: 10

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

2006 Fontana D'Italia Chianti

A six dollar frozen pizza calls for only the best eight dollar Italian wine I can find.

Rich dark chocolate with some oak essence on the nose.

Black fruit – black cherries – decent underlying acid, with some cedar notes, but overall a bit heavier feeling than I expected

Some oak notes linger on the finish – along with some cinnamon and clove.

Thoroughly uninteresting and not the style I enjoy. For the price, there are way too many “pizza wines” like this that are more enjoyable.

Wine: 5
QPR: 5

Saturday, October 11, 2008

N/V M. Lawrence Sex Brut Rose Batch #39

L Mawby is a damn fine sparkling wine producer out of northern Michigan. This is one of the more entry level bottles that goes for about fifteen dollars.

Just a slight bit of nectarine on the nose.

A fairly thick body on this one with orange blossoms and more nectarine. There are some odd woody (cedar, perhaps) notes and some bitterness that are present at first, but blow off after a while. Something here reminds me of flying saucer candy – it's two wafers pressed together and shaped like a UFO with small bits of candy or sugar inside. Where can I find those? I am now craving them. But yeah – stone fruit, nectarine mostly, and orange blossoms.

Some chalkiness comes through on the finish along with just a bit of peach pie.

This is one of the weaker bottles in the M Lawrence line but it's still an enjoyable bottle and worth checking out.

Wine: 7
QPR: 7

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

2007 Mollydooker The Boxer Shiraz

Alright, here it is....the 2007 vintage of Mollydooker. These wines are made in a very particular style – they are huge, over the top, some may say stupid wines – immense fruit and immense alcohol. A lot of people love these wines, plenty more cannot stand them. I lean towards the love side here, but let's see.

To misquote Ralph Wiggum: this smells like burning. Seriously – swirl this around and stick your nose in and expect some nose hair to be seared.

Enormous. Bigger wines may exist, but I have yet to encounter one. No tannins to speak of, it's all in your face, over the top, absurd red fruit blended in with a vanilla milkshake. Super ripe, dark red strawberries and giant, freaky, genetically modified, monster blueberries. This isn't “a touch of vanilla” or “a hint of vanilla bean” - it's “throw me a giant cookie, I'm drowning in this Olympic sized pool filled with vanilla milkshake.” I'm getting a left jab of asphalt, an uppercut of smoke, a bodyblow of tobacco, a right jab of green pepper, a low blow of oak, and is this ring in the middle of a barnyard? There may be more but I don't know any more boxing terminology. A speedbag full of blackberry jam? Deep into the finish a burst of cedar comes through as well as some blueberry and spiced cherry.

Serving temperature of wine is important – this cannot be overstated – but it's especially true with a wine like this. Consumed too warm – even slightly – this will be atrocious, burny, and harsh. Cool it down, my friend – mid to upper 50s and this will be enjoyable....if you're prone to enjoy this style.

Day two is interesting.

Tree bark on the nose – maybe cinnamon – more powerful alcoholic burn.

This almost feels heavier and darker – almost like blackberry fruit leather. A lot more spice, too – cinnamon, anise, nutmeg, basil, and menthol are coming through with some tobacco. It's almost giving me a fuzzy tongue. The oak seems a bit more present and that superpowered vanilla milkshake has faded tremendously but in its place is something vaguely reminiscent of cherry cough syrup.

The vanilla milkshake has finally shown itself on the finish though I do believe some raspberry is in the mix.

There you have it. I'm down. You may not be and that's splendid. This is the sort of wine that you shouldn't bother trying to pair anything with – popcorn maybe, something powerful - perhaps ribs? Mmmm, ribs....anyway, this goes for twenty-five bones, nothing to shake a stick at, but if this is your style I don't know if you're going to do better - if this review doesn't sound appealing, don't bother....really.....don't.....just don't.

Wine: 9
QPR: 9

Monday, October 06, 2008

2006 Martinborough Vineyards Te Tera Sauvignon Blanc

We tried this at a tasting and enjoyed it enough to snag a bottle at fifteen big ones.

A citrusy nose with some great fresh cut grass notes.

While I don't recall the tasting at which we tried this, at first sip I see why we bought it. This has what I would describe as an ideal balance – just a bit of sugar and a whole mess of acid. Pink grapefruit – almost a grapefruit cocktail thing going – actually...this is just like the leftover syrup in canned/jarred grapefruit. There's also some limeade sort of notes. As the bottle opens and warms up a bit I get some vanilla bean and some fuzzy pineapple.

The acid lingers with more grapefruit and some grassy notes – just as it's about to completely fade away a burst of mango comes through – it's curious.

Your enjoyment on this wine will most likely be directly related to your love of grapefruit. I'm a fan of both.

Wine: 9
QPR: 9

Thursday, October 02, 2008

2004 Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Rosso di Montalcino

This bottle was fifteen bones – marked down on clearance. Hey – why not?

The nose? Strawberries lingering on the edge of spoiled and cedar chips stuffed into sweat socks.

Loads of dark chocolate, reasonably strong tannins, a solid amount of acid – well balanced all around really. A lot of herbaceous qualities here – loads of dried and fresh spices – dried oregano and fresh basil come through as to some interesting nutmeg and clove notes – something you'd sprinkle on top of a pumpkin latte of some sort. In terms of fruit, this is interesting – at first pour: sweet, tart cherry; after 30 minutes: nothing; after 60 minutes: nothing; after 90 minutes: nothing; after 120: distinct black cherry. Wine can be a funny thing.

A lingering fuzzy clove and tobacco fueled finish lasts for quite a while.

Day two brings a fairly simpler offering. Almost no nose – though there is some strawberry fruit leather coming through. The palate is has the distinct funky Italian quality I like – dried spices, some tart cherries – so tart it's almost ultra dark cranberry. The finish is all earth, spice, and funk – loads of earth and tobacco.

Wine: 7.5
QPR: 7