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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2003 Captain's Walk Sangiovese

Captain's Walk is a winery in Green Bay, Wisconsin that we rather enjoyed, not only for the wine, but also for the friendliest staff I've encountered at any establishment anywhere.

Cinnamon and cherry on the nose.

Mostly cherry and strawberry with a barnyard quality. Loads of black pepper with vanilla, cinnamon, and clove. Very nice balance, smooth, easy drinking, and fairly low on tannin.

Green spice - oregano and such - comes through on the finish.

Nineteen bucks is nothing to sneeze at so I do have some reservations with what you get - however, I think there is enough going on, not only in the wine, but simply the fact that it's from Green Bay, Wisconsin that I give a recommendation. I would say if you see this at retail and you're within a few hours of Green Bay, skip it and make a trip over the winery and try a bunch of what they have to offer.

Wine: 7
Value: Sure

Saturday, December 26, 2009

2001 Woot Cellars Reboot North Coast Brut Sparkling Wine

This wine, with shipping from wine.woot, ran $20 a bottle. Rumors are it is a private labelling of 2001 Windsor Brut, North Coast, Platinum Series which retails for thirty, but this can neither be confirmed nor denied. It has not been receiving much love on the discussion board over on woot with numerous people claiming the wine is salty. Here goes...

Apples and pears on the nose with a bit of pineapple.

Light, crisp – solid acidic structure with plenty of green and golden apples plus a nice amount of pear. As far as the accusations of saltiness goes – perhaps some bottles were compromised with the snow trucks, but I got nothing of that sort here. There is a distinct punch of citric acid on the back palate and finish, perhaps that's what's being spoken of.

Green apple, and as I said, citric acid on the finish.

Worth $20? At this pricepoint, I want a bit more depth, something a tad more interesting – I keep thinking of Roederer Estate's Brut which is a few bucks cheaper and much better, but direct comparisons are pointless. This is a fine offering, its only flaw is its simplicity - a fine quaff and a worthy beverage for the random pop and pour. Certainly not a rip off but any means – I can't see buying it again, but I also am not going to give away my other bottle.

Wine: 7
Value: Pass

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

N/V Miolo Brut

This was twelve bucks and the motivating factor for buying it was that it's a wine from Brazil - something you don't see a whole lot of, though it's just half Chardonnay and half Pinot Noir.

This smells like water - that's not to say it smells like nothing because I feel water has a distinct, though difficult to describe and subtle, odor.

A little bit oily in mouthfeel and I must admit somewhat uninteresting. Enough yeast to be okay, some slight rye bread notes, but I can't say I'm getting all that much fruit besides some vague citrus acid qualities. After being open for a while, all I'm getting is pear.

More pear qualities linger on the finish.

I'm glad I had this as I've never had a, that is. I'm also not thrilled by it, it's not bad and as a novelty it works, but in the grand scheme you can do just as well, if not better, for less.

Wine: 6
Value: Pass

Saturday, December 19, 2009

N/V R Winery Bitch Bubbly

Nine bucks - a sparkling grenache, why not?

A light nose with very little going on beyond some white bread.

Interesting. Very interesting.... Take a somewhat sweet, large bodied rose and add a dash of carbonation. It's so different I almost don't know how to take it. Once again – big in body with pineapple, vanilla, papaya, and strawberry dominating the palate. Sweet and viscous – without the fizz to lighten it up a bit I might not be so forgiving, but it adds a nice dimension.

A tropical fruit mish mash for a finish – almost the sort of finish you'd expect from a Hurricane or some such adult beverage.

I'm gonna say give this one a go, but you gotta make sure you know what you're getting into – full bodied, pink, rather sweet – the sorta thing you'll eat with a frozen pizza or Big Macs and not think twice about. Hell, this could conceivably work at a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

Wine: 6
Value: Sure

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas advice

Christmas is a week away and I can hear you moaning that the guy (or girl, but is it ever really a girl?) who digs wine is incredibly difficult to shop for.

I'll never understand this way of thinking. This person should be the easiest one to shop for. There is, unless hints are dropped otherwise, one thing to purchase for the wine fan in your life.


"But I don't know what to buy..." Dude, screw that. It's incredibly simple. Here are four ways to approach it.

1) Look for "shelf talkers." These are index card sized descriptions of wines; they're normally reviews from Wine Spectator or Robert Parker. This doesn't guarantee the receiver will love it, but if one of the pros gives a wine 90 points, it probably won't completely suck.

2) Sparkling wine. Few people dislike it and with New Year's a week away, it will most likely be put to good use. Don't feel compelled to go with Champagne, plenty of domestic producers (I'm partial to Iron Horse in California and L Mawby in Michigan) make fine bottles.

3) Go offbeat - go for a less popular region (Romania? Michigan? New York? Missouri? New Mexico?) or varietal (Cabernet Franc and Petite Sirah are somewhat obscure while still relatively easy to find).

4) If you're going to spend $25+ don't hesitate a bigger name - you'd have to be real snobby to bash the Raymond or Mondavi Napa offerings. Spending more? Silver Oak. Spending more than that? Chateaux Margaux. Spending more than that? We should be friends.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2009 Rendez Vous Beaujolais Nouveau

Seven bucks, Trader Joe's, a new label, and the wife was picking up the tab – sold.

Bubblegum and a hint of banana on the nose.

Bubblegum, strawberry, earth, and right on the back palate some banana comes through, though somewhat mildly. Quite acidic, but not so much it demands food, and light enough in body to be a fine complement to simple fare.

The finish lingers for a few seconds and is exactly what you get on the palate, but it fades quick.

Not nearly the mess of Duboeuf, but also not quite as good as the Pierre Chermette. That being said, it's less than half the price of Chermette (and cheaper than Duboeuf - or any producer of recent vintage - I might add), so if you want a 2009 BN – this is going to be my top recommendation.

Wine: 5.5
Value: Yep

Saturday, December 12, 2009

2007 Vinhos Monte das Anforas Vinho Regional Alentejano Vinho Tinto

Retail on this was about $14, but the end of bin sale knocked half off. This is a blend of, get ready, trincadeira, alffrocheiro and aragonez.

The nose here is funky, strange, and a bit trashy.

All sorts of fruit - plums and strawberry - with a bit of spice, but no discernible oak or tannin. This is the sort of wine that consumed with a deep dish pizza would be fantastic and tasty, but upon scrutiny is somewhat lacking - at seven bones I'm down, at fourteen, less so.

The finish brings out some of the funk that came through on the nose, almost a rotten plum thing with some interesting mild brown spice and, once it opens a bit, a presentation of tannin.

A fairly simple, but equally offbeat wine. I'm not excited about it at the full price, but it's worth investigating if you want to branch out and try some varietals and a part of the world you may not have had table wine from.

Wine: 6
Value: Qualified yes

Thursday, December 10, 2009

N/V LaCheteau Brut Sparkling Vouvray

This appears to be made by the same LaChateau which made perhaps my favorite Trader Joe's exclusive white, if not wine overall. Ten bucks is the retail.

A bit toasty and a bit of green apple on the nose.

Crisp and light with an Asian pear quality on the palate. Fairly simple - there's not a lot going on, definitely a very light bodied sparkler that's a good quaff.

Some yeasty qualities appear on the finish - this is probably more interesting on the finish than palate, pear comes out, as well as some nice acid that lingers nicely.

This is a dangerous sort of wine. It's so light and so easy drinking that before you know it you'll probably drink the entire bottle alone.

Wine: 6.5
Value: Sure

Saturday, December 05, 2009

2008 Left Foot Charley Pinot Grigio

This is $15 at the winery. When we return to Traverse City, Left Foot Charley is going to be one of the first stops as I feel we haven't given them the love and respect they deserve.

Mostly pear on the nose.

This is interesting in that it's one of the heavier bodied PGs I recall having in sometime - it's nothing like a Chardonnay or anything, but it's not terribly "light." Good acid/sugar mix with some spicy qualities, pear, green apple, even pineapple.

A pineapple and vanilla thing lingers on the finish.

I was gaga stupid over the 2007 but this one I'm less excited about. I actually waited until the second bottle to jot down notes just to make sure I wasn't going in with too high of expectations. It's good - damn good - and a certain recommendation, but if you're poking around and see the 07 or the 08 - grab the 07.

Wine: 8
Value: Yep

Friday, December 04, 2009

Veuve Clicquot Tasting – Binny's Schaumburg – 12/4/09

I'm at Binny's the other day and see a sign for a free Champagne tasting....”oh geez, that's gonna suck,” I think. Cheapskates pushing and shoving to try fancy wine – and then the people other than Fran! I digress. We decide it's worth it considering the retail price of the six bottles being tasted was over $500.

N/V Yellow Label Brut
Snobs turn their nose at this one – and I know it's definitely not Brut – but I like this bottle. Honey, toast, blueberry, apples, know, this and that.

So peculiar – distinctly sugary but not excessively sweet. Almost like a Brut Champagne with a dash of simple syrup. Toast, strawberry, excellent acidic structure make for an absurdly good wine I could see going with dinner or dessert.

2002 Vintage Brut
A whole bottle of this is in order to full review. Immensely complex – rye toast, boysenberry, cherry – each sip brought something different.

2002 Brut Rose
I dig Roses, but this one was shockingly blah. Dry, toasty, but not a whole lot going on besides – curiously – a grapey quality.

N/V Brut Rose
More like – toast and strawberry, much bigger, less finesse I suppose, but this one would be a crowdpleaser I'm sure.

1998 La Grande Dame
HUGE. Shockingly huge. Seriously. The nose is dominated by caramel and raisin. The palate? Petrol, caraway, raspberry leaf, grapeseed – more I'm sure but I put the book away and just reveled in the deliciousness. Outstanding.

Half assed notes, but the pours were (understandably) small. Unlike some tastings, all the folks pouring were extremely knowledgeable and friendly in a classy kinda way. Like when you go to a four star restaurant and the waiter totally knows your suit is from Target but he pretends he doesn't notice because if he did he'd be a dick and wouldn't be working there.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

N/V Lancers Rose

So this is one of these wines that is apparently quite famous, been around for many many years and has a reputation for being crap, but I had not heard of it before snagging a bottle for seven bucks.

The nose is pretty simple with some strawberry notes coming through.

There's a very slight fizz on this one. Very light in body as well - quite watery in mouthfeel - with some pear, apple, and even slightly cherry 7-Up like qualities.

The finish has an interesting white tea thing going along with some white grape juice flavors.

I mean, not bad, but nothing of interest either. Many things I've read compare this to White Zinfandel which I think is somewhat unfair - though it's off dry, there's enough going on that I can't outright dismiss it.

Wine: 6
Value: Meh