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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

2007 Montoya Monterey Pinot Noir

Hallo! My name in Pinot Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. This was sampled to me at a wine shop and while it's not my favorite style of Pinot, it was still a reasonable offering at $15.

A slight bit of chocolate and cherry on the nose.

Fruit forward – mostly cherry and berry with just a bit of earth, not much in terms of tannin and fairly mild on the acid.

Raspberry sorta notes linger a bit on the finish.

This is an extremely easy drinking wine, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. There's not a whole lot of complexity, but it's an enjoyable bottle. If you dig the fruit forward PN then this may be alright, but I can't say it's grabbing me. In fact, I liked it a hell of a lot more in the store - perhaps the bottle was open for most of the day.

Wine: 6.5
Value: Pass

N/V Verdi Spumante

This is around five bucks or so.

Giant bubbles and almost as light as a glass of water. A mild nose of orange blossoms.

Sugar water to an extreme, perhaps with a dash of peach nectar.

You know, the start of the finish is blah but then this really unpleasant sweet and sour thing happens.

This may be alright but that finish destroys it. Down the drain. I was hoping to sing Libiamo ne'lieti calici, instead I wish I was dying of consumption.

Wine: 2
Value: No

Saturday, April 25, 2009

2008 Two Lads Riesling

We are big fans of Two Lads. I feel that sounds strange, as before visiting their tasting room, I can't say we were "fans" of any wine producer. There are other producers we like, but significant issues are present which present us from geeking out. Two Lads (and L. Mawby) is (are) [a] winery ([two] wineries) that I can, without hesitation, say we're fans of - enough for me to break out bizarre, and most likely, horrifyingly improper grammar. We dig many, if not most, of their products and their pricepoints are right without qualification (as in, not "good for a Midwestern wine").

When the new releases were announced, hesitation was not an option and I made sure we got a few bottles of each varietal. This is their first Riesling offering - $20 a pop – and so limited that if you want it, it very well may be too late. The tasting notes state that this is the best Riesling that Cornel (one of the Lads) has ever made. Some may be persuaded to go into this wine assuming it will be awesome. Me? The cynic? We'll see....

A powerful nose – pink grapefruit, orange zest, with a bit of strawberry and even some lychee.

Sweet merciful crap! A nice punch of pineapple, pink grapefruit, grapefruit zest, a bit of orange, a dash of those irritatingly vague 'tropical' notes I speak of. As close to an ideal blend of sugar and acid that I've had all with great depth – loads of interesting subtle things going on that you don't see much – the slightest touch of vanilla, a hint of strawberry, all with just a touch of peach. It's been a while, but there's something here that's calling out “Crystal Pepsi” - a soda I miss to this day. The people who remember that pop as not being awesome never gave it a chance. I digress.

Fantastic length – the strawberry notes stick around along with a bunch of that grapefruit and fades away with some nectarine qualities.

I don't want to get nuts here and say "this is the best Riesling I've ever had" - I'm going to hold off for the next bottle before I make some bold declaration like that. For now? It just may be.

Wine: 10
Value: Yes

Friday, April 24, 2009

N/V Warner Vineyards Veritas

Our alma mater's motto was 'veritas,' so what better wine to drink? This was apparently nineteen dollars (at least that what it is now) and doesn't appear to have a vintage, plus I have no clue about what varietals are in this....a little mystery is a good thing, right Peggy Noonan?

A garbagey, funky, Midwesterny sorta nose.

So, my reaction to the first sip was to cringe violently at the tartness. After a while in the glass, things mellowed considerably. A bit Italian in style but a bit of that strange Midwestern feel. Lots of acid - not quite harsh but quite close - tart raspberries, and a bit of a carob thing going on. The acid fades a bit with air, and really it winds up being a quite reasonable, vaguely Italian, vaguely American, offering. Some blueberry and even some plum qualities come through as the bottle opens.

The carob notes linger as well as more tart raspberry.

You know, if this were ten bucks I'd recommend it as a curiosity, but this close to twenty bucks, you can get an excellent bottle from Italy

Wine: 6
Value: Sorry....pass.

Monday, April 20, 2009

2006 Robert Biale Zinfandel Napa Ranches

Alright, so we've had a fair amount of wine over the years and on occasion splurge on fancy ($30+) bottles of various things, today I figured we should try a Zin since we really haven't had any expensive Zins. The retail on this is $40, but you best believe the only reason why I bought it was that it was half off on a end of bin sale. Nice.

A big nose – loads of blackberry and black pepper.

Interesting....very interesting. Alcoholic burn, black pepper, and red fruit – sort of a peach/plum hybrid thing with some cranberry and a whole lot of gooseberry, even pomegranate gets in the mix. I don't even know how to describe this, it's sort of light in mouthfeel but big in body – that's contradictory, I know. It's thin, easy drinking, but if you keep it on the palate you get all sorts of stuff – fruit, spice, loads of cinnamon – almost like a Red Hot candy – and a punch of black pepper. Served blind, I would've never guessed this was a Zin.

The finish has some interesting notes of cola, bell pepper, and a bit of chocolate.

My gut reaction was “this is a joke at $40” but the more it opened, the more I thought about it, and the more I really gave it a chance – I have to say, this is a damn good Zin, probably the best we've had of the varietal (that admittedly is saying very little), and has perhaps given me a nice kick in the pants to explore a grape we've largely ignored.

Wine: 8.5
Value: Pass (it's good, very good in fact, but I can't say it's a value).

Monday, April 13, 2009

2005 Rodney Strong Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon

This is one of the “top shelf” wines at the local grocery store, with them saying the retail is something like $23, yet it's always on sale in the $15-17 range.

A bold nose – chocolate, toffee, coffee, black cherry, and a bit of anise.

The palate is simpler than I'd expect based on the nose. Mild tannins, good acidic balance, black raspberry – a tad sweet – and more toffee notes. A bit of time in the glass bring some nice eucalyptus and mint notes.

I can't say there's much of a finish beyond some dark berry qualities.

So, here's the problem with this one – in this area, this is a grocery store sort of wine. Meaning the Jewels will have it, but the “serious” wine shop will not. You can do better for the price if you head over to your local wine shop, but it's one of the better wines out there if you only but your wine where you buy your potatoes.

Wine: 7.5
Value: Meh

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

2005 Bodegas Atteca Old Vines


I know, I know, too easy.

Right around fourteen bucks this one is – it's been sitting in the wine fridge for quite a while, so I popped it open.

This review may be somewhat biased seeing as the last five bottles of wine we've consumed have been Yellow Tail, because right off the bat this just smells amazing. A really nice blend of light cherry, mint, and herbs. There is a garbage like component that I usually dig, but haven't hit on lately, so it's weirding me out a bit.

With a bit of airtime, this presents as a smooth cherry and cassis filled wine with quite a bit of earthy and herbal notes – sassafras, eucalyptus – and even a hint of cola. With a bit more time I get a distinct raspberry quality- almost like it was spiked with a shot of a raspberry dessert wine. I opened this without paying much attention to it and was drinking this under the impression it was a California Zin – the Old Vines thing - but it's a Spanish Garnacha. Quite interesting.

Earth and dirt on the finish with more raspberry notes.

So what do we have here? A wine that's clearly well made, certainly a good value, and overall quite tasty – that being said, if you're looking for a classic Spanish Garnacha this is probably not for you.

Wine: 7
Values: Yep

Monday, April 06, 2009

Yellow Tail Round Up

The economy sucks, the wine fridge is getting empty, and when the local grocery store had a sale – Yellow Tail, $4.15 each when you buy six bottles of booze – I couldn't pass it up buying five and a bottle of bourbon (you can mix and match). I also realized that we really haven't gone over much Yellow Tail on here – some aren't terrible (Riesling), some are atrocious (Sparklng), and some are damn good (Reserve Shiraz) – so I enjoy the opportunity to go through the five red wines I've seen in this market for just over $20.


2008 Merlot

A jammy and somewhat funky nose.

Cherry, blueberry, a nice amount of acid, dare I say some tannins are present, as well as a bit of oak. Some nice vanilla is coming through, even some spice, and what the hell – a bit of coffee? I expected fruit bomb jammy nonsense – instead I got something that certainly qualifies as fruity, but is by no means at a W level of stupidity.

The finish drops off almost immediately.

It's Wednesday night, you're feeling cheap and eating pizza or chicken tetrazzini or burgers (though that's more of a weekend thing, Ray) or whatever sort of stew you may be eating, this isn't half bad.

Wine: 6.5
Value: Yes


2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

I'm not convinced this has a nose.

This is an oddball. If you just drink it, you'd think it's totally blah – almost watery. Keep it on the palate, as nerds like me do, and you get some life – vanilla and cherry...all sorts of cherry. Not much tannin, but enough acid to work it out to an acceptable level.

A nice finish – short – but acid and fruit balance nicely.

Two for two so far – this ain't bad at all, and for the price it's groin grabbingly fine.

Wine: 6
Value: Sure


2008 Yellow Tail Shiraz

The flagship of the Yellow Tail brand. Let's see how this holds up for four bones.

Some plummy notes on the nose.

Hmmm. Blackberry and peach, reasonably acidic, but no tannins to speak of.

The finish here is amusing. I'd actually say this wine – or this bottle at least – is perfect for describing a finish. Swallow a glass, for five seconds there's something – maybe some pepper, maybe some blackberry – and at the four second mark you literally feel it disappear, like water going down a drain.

It's official – I won't turn my nose up at it, but I won't be buying it again.

Wine: 5
Value: Pass


2007 Shiraz Grenache

Basically, I get chocolate on the nose.

Probably the worst of the batch. A distinct cough medicine taste – somewhere along the lines of blue raspberry. I can't say I'm getting much else, this is simply not good.

Plenty of menthol on the finish.

No sir – big time pass. I'll have a glass with my frozen pizza dinner, but the rest is going down the drain.

Wine: 3
Value: Nope


2007 Cabernet Sauvignon- Merlot blend
A weak nose that I can only describe as somewhat earthy.

I don't know about this one. An almost prune – but not in a good Port of way – quality comes through with some mint. As the bottle opens all I really get it cherry cough syrup with a bit of acid and added sugar.

I guess Yellow Tail doesn't do well with blends. Considering the stand alone Cab and stand alone Merlot are the best of the label, this one is probably the biggest disappointment.

Wine – 3.5
Value – No

Friday, April 03, 2009

N/V Cooper's Hawk Blanc de Blanc

Cooper's Hawk is, I suppose, a chain of wineries/restaurants in Illinois. There aren't many, so I hate to say "chain" but whatever. They're sorta like a brewpub, though they make wine instead of beer. Since they make it, most bottles are open and you can pretty much get a taste of everything at the winebar or by the glass in the restaurant.

This smells sweet with pear and tangerine notes.

This is a very strange one. I have no clue what to make of this, actually. When you first sip it, it almost doesn't taste like anything with the exception of some sweet orangey notes...after you let it sit on the palate, some more comes out - tropical notes, mostly papaya and even some of that fuzzy thing pineapples sometimes give off with a bit of fake green apple.

More of that tropical thing going on on the finish, leaving a trail of pineapple - and not pineapple notes, like you just ate a pineapple and your tongue hurts - that sorta thing. Way back on the finish, like when you think it's over, you get a punch - and linger of a good minute - of green apple Jolly Rancher.

This is sweet enough that I wouldn't buy it again (too sweet for regular drinking, not enough for dessert), and I'd only suggest it for those who don't really care for most sparklers...and even then it's strange enough that they may not dig it. That being said, it's not to my taste, but it's certainly done well and for fourteen bucks, this Illinois wine is nothing to bip about all things considered.

Wine: 6
Value: Try a sample.