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Saturday, June 27, 2009

2005 Beaulieu Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

This is another one of those "top shelf" wines from the Jewels that "retails" at around $25, but you'd be foolish to pay more than $16 since it's always on sale. BV make a few lines including a cheaper line, then this, and then pricey stuff you probably haven't come across unless you shop at bigger wine shops. Let's dig in.

Nice cigar box on the nose.

A bit of tart cherry, cedar, tobacco, vanilla, and some blueberry as well. This is nice and tasty, but for a Cab, I'm finding it, just a bit too light in body - it's tasty, but in terms of body, this almost has a Pinot Noir thing going on. I'm not knocking it, but I just want a tad more oomph.

Lingering acid with some tart cherry and earthy notes on the finish.

A solid offering on par with - though perhaps slightly below - the Mondavi Napa Cab we had a while back. For fifteen bucks or so, this is damn good - not as complex and some pricier options, but for the price this is a great value.

Wine: 8
Value: Yeppers

Monday, June 22, 2009

2005 Fox Valley Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

In my visit review of this winery I declared this as one of the two best red wines made in Illinois (that we've had). I am consuming this from a three liter box that runs at just about $40.

The nose and palate on this one is strange at first pour, but it blows off after a bit of time and doesn't seem to be present in the following glasses (some lingering gas I assume).

Cherry and vanilla on the nose. After letting a glass sit for a while, cinnamon and brown spice show up.

A very nice balance of cherry, vanilla, and cedar. Very nice tannic structure that would suggest if you just grab a regular bottle it would cellar fairly well. A fair amount of spice comes through as well - clove, cinnamon - making everything really blend together well.

The finish has more cherry and vanilla.

I avoided posting this until we worked through a good chunk of the box because I feared I may be being a bit too generous since it's an Illinois wine, but after giving it a lot of thought and consuming it over a few days, I think I'm being more than fair. In fact, if you go by the box pricing, this is among the best valued Cabs out there, from anywhere.

There is a slight issue with boxed red wine in general during the summer months - I don't know about you, but I don't keep our home at cellar temperature. I think the best way to handle this is keep the box in the fridge and pour a carafe or decanter an hour or two before you're going to drink it. Mildly inconvenient, but basically worth the hassle.

A word of warning though - many estimates on how long box wine keep after opening range from four to six weeks. Right around four weeks, I found all the fruit has blown off this one and has left it basically a spicy and oaky mess, perhaps okay for cooking, but not beyond that. By all means, buy it - but drink it within three weeks.

Wine: 8
Value: Absolutely

Friday, June 19, 2009

2007 Two Lads Chardonnay

Alright, we are fans of Two Lads, but how will they do with a grape we do not like? This is not currently available from the winery, but can probably be found in an array of restaurants or shops. I assume later this year or perhaps early next, it will be back in a new vintage for around $20 a pop.

The nose here just reminds me of pineapple and butter.

The palate here isn't half bad, mainly because it's a bit lighter than one normally sees in an oaked Chard. Pineapple, vanilla, some slightly unripe melon of the musk variety all with a bit of the peachy/fuzzy navel thing. Oak, white wine, and our palates don't mix, but this isn't a bad offering - mainly because the oak is fairly light (it was aged in large 630 gallon oak vats, not smaller 60 gallon oak barrels). Still...I can't help but think "man, I'd rather be drinking something else."

The finish brings out some of the oak with some of the typically Chardonnay qualities coming to the front, including that butter and cream.

A respectable wine, more than respectable in fact, but not enough to win us over....if you dig whites, you cannot go wrong with this winery's PG and Riesling. If you're a Chardonnay nut, I can't see this not being up there, but for us? This one gets a pass.

Wine: 6.5
Value: Pass

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

2006 Kim Crawford Pinot Noir

This is $16 normally, but there was an 'end of bin' sale going on and I snagged it for $8.50.

Dirt and raspberry on the nose.

A strange mix of old and new world - lots of earthy, dirty, funky notes - but then almost a Twizzler like quality...ultra ripe raspberry and dark red, borderline candied, cherries. I like both styles (the former more than the latter), but the mix is throwing me off.

Some earthy, funky, and bell pepper things are coming through on the finish.

I understand and respect this wine as I feel it's very well made, especially at this pricepoint. It just does not work for me, though.

Wine: 6
Value: Nah

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

2007 Red Bicyclette French Rose

Eight bones, grocery store, what the heck?

Very light strawberry and a slight bit of grape on the nose.

I'm going to be blunt – I had low expectations on this one. I have to say I'm pleasantly surprised. It has a very slight touch of sugar, but by no means sweet. A bit of tart strawberry and slight raspberry with a mild bit of tannin and acid to balance it out.

If you want a rose and are in a bind, this is the way to go. I'll probably be snagging more for things like Ravinia.

Wine: 6.5
Value: Yep

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

2005 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

This is about $20 and has a reputation for being a solid bottle. I've been sitting on this for a while and decided to pop it open.

The nose is big, but it's mostly just cigar box.

A well balanced wine, with a number of things working together nicely - great tannic structure, with oak, cedar, cherry, with brown and dried green spice. Some mint seems to come through, I want to say I'm getting some eucalyptus as well, maybe some sage. This is the sort of wine that one can tell is good now, but would probably be better two years from now. I hope to find a few more bottles to put away.

Cedar notes on the finish.

My notes are short here, but that's not a bad thing. This is a fine offering, loads going on, flat out delicious, and an outstanding value. This is a great bottle to snag for yourself and sit on for a while, or to give as a gift. It tastes like something a bit pricier than a twenty dollar bottle.

Wine: 8.5
Value: Yep

Monday, June 08, 2009

2008 Two Lads Rose

We really liked the 2007 of this, so why not snag a 2008? I forget the exact price, but it's in the late teens or $20 flat.

I'm getting a bit of peach blossom on the nose.

Beautiful. Rather large in body – with the dominate fruit being cranberry along with some great peachy notes with a dash of strawberry. Something here is reminding me of hibiscus tea. With the punch of acid, dash of sugar, slight bit of tea, and outstanding fruit, this is among the best we've had.

More of that hibiscus quality on the finish plus more cranberry – if there's a cranberry hisbiscus tea on the market, I need to try it as I'd bet it's somewhat like this.

I can't recommend this highly enough as a great summer wine. I suppose there are two "types" of roses that we dig, the pure and traditional, bone dry ones you often see from France, and these somewhat more fruitforward and more - dare I say - complex wines. The sort of wine you can bring to a picnic but it almost seems like a shame unless you're bringing decent stemware.

Wine: 9
Value: Yes

Friday, June 05, 2009

2007 Oroya Sushi Wine

So this wine was apparently developed to be paired with sushi. The power of suggestion is strong with me, so I grabbed a bottle and a pack of sushi at the local Japanese mall. This is a blend of airen,

A slightly floral nose.

Somewhat like a Sauvignon Blanc - somewhat grassy, a bit of grapefruit, orange blossom, all with just a very small bit of sweetness that gives it a nice balance.

An orange herbal tea sorta thing on the finish.

I acknowledge this is a bit of a gimmick and there are plenty of fine white wines for sushi - from Rieslings to Pinot Grigios to Sauv Blancs and so on - but this worked very well with my sampler pack of raw fish and for $13, there's nothing to argue with.

Wine: 7
Value: Sure

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

N/V Lavender Crest Miche Sepi

We visited this winery about six months ago and I figured it was time to crack this bottle open, which runs around fifteen bones. This is a red blend that includes an interesting hybrid varietal marechal foch.

A bit of fruit, but mostly green, earthy sort of notes – forest floor, if you will

This is actually far better than I remember it being. Raspberry, cherry, really nice tannic structure, with great acid – dare I say this is unique, but not necessarily like many Illinois wines.

Some dried – green and brown – spices linger on the finish.

Since this is not a blind taste test and mental bias is a factor, I admit I may be going slightly easy on this one. For a $15 red wine from Illinois, however, this is one of the better ones we've had and I'll definitely give it a go.

Wine: 6.5
Value: Yep