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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2006 Estancia Paso Robles Meritage Reserve

This is a blend of 58% Cab, 34% Merlot, and 8% Petit Verdot. We've had a few of this producer's wines before, including a previous vintage of this one that we dug (not reviewed here though). The retail is about $25.

A plum sorta nose...cassis as well. In fact, this strikes me as textbook cassis.

The thing that struck me about this wine was how approachable it was on pop and pour - everything was nicely integrated and it was drinking fine. Blackberry, vanilla, oak.

The finish has lingering blackberry and vanilla, combined in a Blizzard aftertaste sort of way. You know, the last time I went to Dairy Queen they didn't have blueberry Blizzards anymore. WTF DQ?

It's tasty, perhaps a safe bet if you find it priced reasonably on a restaurant wine list, but I can't say it's exciting or all that interesting when pondered.

Score: 86

Friday, December 24, 2010

Leiffel Bistrot & Creperie - Barrington, IL - December 23, 2010

L'Eiffel has quickly risen to the top of our list of favorite restaurants. We've been here a bunch of times and always had a great time - excellent food, a great wine selection, solid service, and completely reasonable prices.

We both had specials which are not available on the web menu, so forgive my vague descriptions.

Beef carpaccio with Roquefort - the blue cheese was pungent, the beef was a nice balance of meaty and salty.


Half dozen raw oysters - they were great, but the wine real highlight is a Champagne vinegar shaved ice that's absolutely amazing, I'd come back here for that ice alone.


Salad with roast duck, arugula, fennel, and a vinegar dressing.


I hate taking pictures of soup because it's inherently a rather dull looking product dish, but their soups are consistently great - this is a corn and clam chowder.


What I dig about L'Eiffel most is their wine service - there are many options by the glass, bottles start at under $30, wine flights, and a monthly "ultra pour" - which is a pricey, think $100 bottle range, wine available by the glass. We had the Champagne flight, three real Champagnes...


And the French red flight.


Forgive this photo, it's not the brightest place, this is steak frites, a 16 ounce prime ribeye with cajun fries. We actually came here for dinner because of the allure of steak - let's put it this way, we wanted steak, Ruth Chris is in the same shopping center, we chose here.


Braised alligator, sliced venison, and - I'm sad to admit, I forget what else, lamb? Either way - three meats with a rice pilaf underneath.

If you want French in the Northwest suburbs, look no further - this is the place.

2008 Boom Boom Syrah

I've seen this go for $16 to $20, so when the $15 pricetag at Costco caught my eye, I snagged a bottle.

Kind of a chocolate covered cherry nose.

Blueberry dominates with some chocolate and cherry....little in terms of tannins, earth, or even oak, but some nice acid with the fruit makes it quite approachable.

The finish is kind of interesting, sort of a blueberry infused green tea right away but it fades quite quickly.

Tasty stuff, but admittedly simple - for $15, I actually like it enough to buy it again. We'll be drinking a bottle of this tonight with Christmas Eve dinner and I think it will go well. It's fruity and smooth enough I can even see this working with some spicier foods like Mexican or Thai if you insist on red. I say it's worth a shot.

Score: 86

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2007 Syncline Mourvedre Coyote Canyon Vineyard

We don't drink much Mourvedre...does anyone though? This bottle retails for about thirty bones and features a glass cork.

Cassiss, blackberry, menthol, and I'll be damned if I'm not getting a big dash of soy sauce.

Plum. Big ol' plum. Perhaps a drop of vanilla in a giant vat of chopped plums, but that's about it..

Just a bit of oak and mild spicy qualities on the finish with just a bit of raw meat, in a tartare sorta way.

Tasty? Yes. One-dimensional for the pricepoint? Yep.

Score: 87

Saturday, December 18, 2010

N/V Duval-Leroy Brut Champagne

Grabbed this on sale - a local shop had a big Champagne sale, for the holiday I suppose, so I snagged a few bottles.

The nose on this is all blueberry jelly spread on white bread toast. Nice.

A bit doughy, not toasty, not quite bready, a little bit nutty, mostly like the raw dough you get in this exploding cans to make biscuits. Other qualities of interest are peach skin, pink Sweet Tarts, candied orange peel, and a bit of citron. (Now that the weather has cooled down, let me just take this moment to strongly recommend citron tea - find your local Asian market and grab a jar, it's good stuff.)

Some blueberry on the finish along with more of that yeasty sorta thing with the nuttiness coming through even further.

A worthy entry level Champagne. At $30, I have no complaints.

Score: 90

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2004 Il Colombaio de Cencio Chianti Classico i Massi

This goes for about $30 at retail, while I typically prefer cheap Chiantis (most of which are acidic, tart, and not sweet) every so often it's worth grabbing one of these mid-level ones...

Black raspberry with a white tea thing on the nose.

Cherry, tobacco, eucalyptus, a bit of cocoa....I'm thinking this may be a tad too old, it just seems flat.

Tart cherry and more eucalyptus on the finish.


Score: 84

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

N/V M Lawrence Fizz Batch #25

Fizz - one of the M Lawrence line that we haven't enjoyed a bottle of, so I'm stoked to try this as part of the Tweet and Taste. Retail on this is $13.

The nose on this reminds me startlingly - and this was mentioned in the Tweet and Taste but it is so right on I have to say it - dried banana or banana chips, absolutely all the way. Very mild and elegant in its own way.

Reminds me a bit of the M Lawrence label Detroit in some ways, not too shocking seeing as both are unashamedly Demi Sec. White peach in a candied sorta way - something fairly common in many of these M Lawrence wines, but while it's sweet, it had a very light mouthfeel.

While the finish is peachy, some interesting things really start coming through - pear, apricot, red apple, honeydew, even lychee and as it all fades away, a bit of that subtle banana chip thing.

I wasn't sure about this wine on first sip, but it's pretty interesting how complex the finish is while the palate, still tasty mind you, is a tad more one dimensional. As a result, I recommend this wine for (rather than with) dessert.

This wine was consumed and reviewed as part of the Tweet and Taste Michigan Wine on Tuesday, December 14, 2010. This was not tasted blind and the bottle was comped - all effort has been made to be as objective and honest as possible.

Score: 89

N/V M Lawrence US Batch #21

This bottle goes for $13 - we dig L Mawby so when the opportunity to participate in the Tweet and Taste popped up, I jumped on it.

A rather clean nose - white peaches and some artificial peach as well...take a piece of a white peach and shove a peach Jolly Rancher inside and take a bite while avoiding breaking a tooth and you have something kinda like this.

Peaches, oranges, grapefruits...though, none real, all in an artificial candy sort of way, yet not terribly sweet. Interesting.

A candied orange peel kinda thing on the finish.

I was a big fan of batch 2 of this wine, but here we are at batch 21 and I'm not quite so sure....for a $13 sparkler it's worth your while.

This wine was consumed and reviewed as part of the Tweet and Taste Michigan Wine on Tuesday, December 14, 2010. This was not tasted blind and the bottle was comped - all effort has been made to be as objective and honest as possible.

Score: 86

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tweet and Taste Michigan - Tuesday, December 14

It's true! Tweet and Taste is back - Tuesday, the 14th, and 6 pm CST. Two wines from the incredible L Mawby - full details are over at Michigan by the Bottle.

The basics though - get on Twitter on the 14th and 6 pm, search #ttmi and follow along. I'm a fan of TweetChat for this kinda thing.

We'll be drinking FIZZ and US (link containers possible spoilers), both cheaper offerings from the M Lawrence line so it's a solid way to introduce yourself to L Mawby's sparklers.

This Tweet and Taste only has two wines so it should be a bit more relaxed and chatty, we shall see!

2009 Georges Dubeouf Moulin-A-Vent

This was about thirteen bones which makes this Cru cheaper than many of the do you suppose it compares?

While there's definitely some dark fruit in there, I get a very distinct bubble gum component on the nose.

You know, more of that bubble gum, along with some super ripe strawberry and some cola notes - a solid acidic background almost reminds me of that sour cola straws you sometimes see, cola gummy candy dipped it sour sugar granules.

That sour cola thing lingers on the finish.

All the sour talk I'm sure suggests this is a bit harsh and unbalanced - and I can't really say it's not, but it's pretty good. For $12, this is certainly acceptable and light years ahead of the more recent Nouveau.

Score: 87

Thursday, December 09, 2010

2009 Domaine de Fondreche L'Instant

This is easily the lightest rose I've ever seen. It's almost in the 'vin gris' category. This goes for about $12 at retail.

A mild nose, with peach notes.

Very dry. Perhaps some peach but mostly a rindy kinda thing - watermelon rind, peach skin, grapefruit rind, etc. After a few hours, some fruitier qualities come through - mild watermelon, mild strawberry - but it is still a bone dry, not terribly fruity wine.

Mild watermelon on the finish - the flavor is there, but once again no sugar at all.

So, it's a matter of preference I suppose - I like bone dry roses, but I want more fruit. Perhaps pouring the bottle in a decanter with a handful of ripe strawberries may liven it up a bit....sacrilege I know.

Score: 83

Thursday, December 02, 2010

2007 Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto D'Alba

No recollection on this other than it apparently cost me $24. Dolcetto is in the northwest part of Italy and is the name of both the grape and region.

A somewhat mild nose with cherry, plum, and perhaps a cigar box kinda thing.

Cherry, blackberry, strawberry, plum - a lot ot fruit really - with a bit of smooth, sweet cedar. Everything flows together nicely - tannin, acid, fruit, wood - all is in very nice balance.

A fuzzy tobacco quality lingers on the finish with some ultraripe strawberry.

The wine is fairly straightforward and doesn't really have all that much depth, but it is undeniably tasty. I dig it a lot.

Score: 87

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2009 Georges DuBoeuf Moulin a Vent Domaine de La Tour Bief

I seem to have misplaced a real photo of this label.... 2009, if you believe the experts, was an excellent year for Beaujolais. Having just tried some 2010 Nouveaus, I figured I should give some love to a Cru. This bottle goes for $14, which puts right on par with the Nouveaus...

Overripe strawberry, plum, mild chocolate, and even milder eucalyptus, but not at all in a harsh way.

A bit tart, a lot of dirt, some cherry, tobacco, a little bit of oak - a big mouthfeel, but everything nicely put together. It's all quite nicely integrated, I'm digging it. As it gets more, it becomes more interesting - a back palate of root beer and vanilla...

Some of that raspberry fruit and leaf thing linger on the finish, with a bit of a chocolatey thing as well.

A solid wine at a fine value...I feel pretty lousy I didn't snag more of these Crus and focus on them instead of the Nouveaus. I may snag some more this week.

Score: 90

Saturday, November 27, 2010

2007 Jackson-Triggs Proprietors' Reserve Vidal Ice Wine

This quarter bottle was a gift, but I believe it goes for about $20 - 187 ml though...not cheap.

A borderline absurd nose - pineapple, vanilla, cream, papaya, mango, way deep in there even some petrol notes.

As a good ice wine should be, it's sweet, but not so much it's over the top. Everythng on the nose - pineapple, vanilla, papaya, mango, miscellaneous tropical fruit - like the syrup from fruit cocktail - plus some distinct baked pear notes. The sort of wine that you want to just take your time, sip slowly, and enjoy on its own.

You guessed it - the finish suggests pineapple ice cream.

I've long said dessert wines are tough to score because as long as there's just a bit of balance they seem excellent. Of course, they're generally pricey to make and buy, so if someone is making an ice wine it's probably going to be at the very least decent. I've had many an ice wine and this one is easily one of the better ones.

Score: 93

Thursday, November 25, 2010

N/V Schramsberg Vineyards Mirabelle Brut Rose

This goes for S23 through the winery, but can be found for a few bucks cheaper if you shop around. Schramsberg is a fairly well respected sparkling wine producer so I was happy to finall try a bottle.

Red and pink apples on the nose.

Nice...more of that pink apple - more the skin than the flesh. A touch of sweetness, some very light cherry, a very nice toasty quality - I'm even getting just a suggestion of root beer. This is solid stuff.

Yes, more pink apple, but pear is coming through a bit more potently, along with a bit of raspberry tea (leaf)? A fairly long finsih as well...

The notes may be somewhat short, but only because the wine is so good I just want to sit back and enjoy it. Grab it.

Score: 92

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving wines

What are you drinking with Thanksgiving dinner?

Every site you read will tell you something different, traditionally you hear Beaujolais, Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, but this year I've been hearing all sorts of rumblings that Cab is the way to go (perhaps thanks to this Slate article).

As for The Wineauxs? I was tempted to bring a Beaujolais Cru but the ones I've had (reviews coming soon) have been so strong I'm hanging onto what I have for formal notes. Instead, I'm bringing the following:

2009 Woot Cellars Albino Rhino

The last bottle of the six we bought. It's a bit sweet, fruity, and quite tasty overall. I dig it and think it will complement the variety of options nicely.

2009 Old Shore Vineyards Tree Line Pinot Noir

The wine of the year in my opinion. This would go with just about anything, so I'm stoked to see how it holds up the variety of Thanksgiving offerings.

2008 Root 1 Colchagua Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

No notes on this one, but we've had it before and dug it enough that it seemed a worthy addition - not a first choice, but let's see how Slate holds up.

2009 Saracco Moscato D'Asti

A new one for us - the family digs moscatos and this one has gotten some love online so it seemed like a good buy at eleven bucks.

What about you? Post a comment.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Beaujolais Nouveau 2010

I didn't even bother pretending I wasn't going to snag some Beaujolais Nouveau this year...I went to the local shop, sampled six different wines, and picked the best three. Oddly, five of the six struck me as quite you will read in the posts below, an ounce in a plastic cup shows far better than a few ounces in a nice glass.

The really sad part of this day is that the Cru Beaujolais, the really good wines from the region, came out recently as well - most of them are situated just a few feet from the Nouveau in your local shop...they are significantly better wines, and even worse, they're priced the same. Not one Cru Beaujolais in the local shop was over $15 - while three of the Nouveaus were under $11, the other three were $15 and $16.

If you want my advice....snag a 2010 Nouveau and snag a 2009 Cru Beaujolais...pop them both and do a side by side tasting. You very well may like the BN more, but I think it's worth comparing what the region "really" produces and what the third Thursday in November brings....

2010 Pierre Chermette Beaujolais Primeur

This one was $13 and struck me as quite respectable in the shop.

Something about this nose reminds me of bratwurst. I can't explain it. Sage? Beyond that, raspberry infused black tea on the nose.

Heavier than one may expect, one may even think this is a light Pinot Noir by feel. Cherry, raspberry leaf, dirt, black tea, reasonably balanced acid in an almost citrusy kinda way...not bad at all.

Cherry and black raspberry on the finish with just the faintest bit of mint, almost a cough syrup thing, with a vague garbagey thing, a slight taste of 'decay' if you will.

Easily the winner of the three BN's I bought, no noticeable flaws, but a wine of this quality for $13? Pass.

Score: 82

2010 Chateau Cambon Beaujolais Nouveau

At $14 this was the priciest Beaujolais Nouveau in the store....during the tasting, it seemed to be the most interesting one overall (I did not know prices, for whatever that's worth).

The nose here is subtle....a bit of chocolate, a bit of peanut butter, a bit of banana, and a bit of turpentine....I imagine this is what Elvis smelled like in the later years.

Cherry kijafa...I've never had cherry kijafa straight, but I've had it in crepes and this is it...there's something that tastes vaguely off, as if the cherry kijafa sauce was good, but the crepes have been sitting around for a few weeks.

Cherries on the finish but as it fades, some of that sad rotten banana comes through and that is something I just can't get behind.

Of the three, this is in the middle - there are some unpleasant qualities, but they're relatively subtle and don't necessarily "ruin" the wine...I'm being generous aren't I?

Score: 76

2010 Domaine Dupeuble Pere et Fils Beaujolais Nouveau

This ran me $13 and has been relatively reliable in the the very least, the label is fairly classy.

That banana thing...actually, you know, this totally hits me of strawberry banana yogurt.

Smokey - almost to a point of strangeness, liquid smoke blended with banana and a bit of artificial strawberry.

Yep, strawberry banana on the finish.

Disappointing. Even more so because at the shop this one struck me as the best tasting and most interesting of all the Beaujolais Nouveaus...the smokiness got to me I guess.

Score: 71

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

2008 Georges Dubeouf Morgon Jean Descombes

This wine goes for about $14. Morgon is a region within Beaujolais, so this is the same area that gives the world the Nouveau swill in November - here's a better offering.

A bit of raspberry tea on the nose.

On the initial attack I get a little bit of cola but it quickly morphs into strawberry - sort of a strawberry jam thing, with some stems, leaves, and extra seeds thrown in. Perhaps a splash of blueberry and tart cherry as well. Excellent acid, slighly overbrewed tea like tannins, on balance dry, no discernible wood - an easy drinking wine that still has a backbone.

Raspberry comes out on the finish.

I dig it and would recommend it. In a few days it will be the third Thursday of November, walk past the Nouveau and snag a bottle of this instead (it's basically the same price). You won't regret it.

Score: 87

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2007 Kirkland Signature Series Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon

This was $17 at Costco. It was between this and a cheaper Kirkland offering, but I figured I'd be fancy with my Prime Steak. Seriously - Costco carries prime steaks for $11 a pound or so. That $40+ steak at Morton's or where ever can now be had at home for under $10. Outstanding. Just don't cook it beyond medium rare or you're a rube. I should've taken a picture of that steak...maybe the next one. Where was I? Oh yeah, $17 Cab, Costco's private label, Stag's Leap District, let's give it a whirl.

Plum, casssis, eucalyptus, and an odd sort of petrol thing on the nose.

Smoothalicious. More cassiss and plum, some blackberry, black cherry, a touch of vanilla, a bit of a Twizzler sort of quality, not much in terms of oak and mild enough tannins that I'd drink this sooner rather than later.

More of that black cherry on the finish.

For $17 this is pretty solid - it's not a crazy value that will have me buying it by the case, but it's definitely a recommendation and one I could easily see buying again.

Score: 87+

Friday, November 05, 2010

2009 Frisk Prickly Riesling

A half bottle of this is $6 at Whole Foods but they also sell it in four packs for $20. It's a blend of mostly Riesling with a bit of Muscat Gordo thrown in.

A candied pear quality is present on the nose - pear Jelly Bellies or even

Every so slightly effervescent - as in there are bubbles that linger in the glass and a bit foams up to the top of the glass, but no streams. A nice balance - sugar and acid are well integrated with neither being terribly noticeable. The flavor profile is actually fairly unique - kiwi, pear, unripe honeydew, even a bit of guava.

An apple thing - pink lady - lingers on the finish for quite a decent length.

We enjoyed several bottles of this over the summer at Ravinia and I'll be drinking more over the coming months. This is not what you may expect from an Australian dessert wine, served blind you may guess Germany - good stuff.

Score: 89

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

2006 Louis Jadot Savigny-lès-Beaune Primier Cru Les Vergelesses

This bottle goes for about $35 and is from the Burgundy region for those who don't know their French wine labels. The cork had some issues, moist with a bit of seepage, but the wine doesn't look or taste off.

Rich black cherry on the nose with some interesting floral notes - rose and lavender.

I gave this one a few hours to open and I think it needed it. Everything is very subtle, nothing is going to jump and hit you on the cherry, raspberry, blackberry tea, and a very mild brown spice - clove mostly, nicely balanced, smooth tannins, quite nice all around.

A bit of a black tea thing on the finish, with a dash of blackberry leaf and black cherry.

Not cheap, but if you want to get a nicely done Burgundy this is worth a look.

Score: 89

Thursday, October 28, 2010

N/V Domaine Chandon DKNY Twenty Year Cuvee

DKNY - when I bought this wine in a discount pack the logo looked familiar but I didn't know what it was. Apparently it's a clothing line and this wine to commemorate their 20 years anniversary. This sells for a whopping fifty dollars and is a winery exclusive.

Throw a whole lime into a blender and pour it onto a piece of granite and I think you'll get something like this nose.

To my palate, this is sweet enough for a light dessert pairing or maybe spicy fare (not to spicy considering the pricetag though). Orange notes - from the fruit to the rind to the blossom. Solid acid, in a citrus sort of way. A bit of vanilla and a bit of know what this is like? Orange Julius.

The finish is so much like an Orange Julius I'm now craving one.

I like my sparklers as close to bone dry as possible, but this one's flavor profile is working for me. For fifty bones though...

Score: 89

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

N/V L Mawby Consort Cuvee 136

Sweeter sparklers aren't normally our thing, but this was part of our wine club shipment. This goes for nineteen big ones at the winery and is part of the L Mawby line which is made with the Champagne method.

I couldn't place the nose, but I think I'm going to have to say white cherry, as in white cherry Slurpee. After consulting my archives I've only brought out white cherry once before - in reference to Mawby's Sandpiper. Does 7-11 dump excess syrup in Suttons Bay?

I gotta say it, but once the white cherry thing hit me on the nose that was almost all I could think of. Besides that though, there is pear with a bit of lightly toasted and rather yeasty white bread. Soft golden apples, a touch of mild vanilla, almost a bit of creaminess. A tad sweet (appropriately labeled as "sec"), but as one should expect with this producer, acid balances it all out nicely.

The finish brings a bit of a caramel thing with more pear and, yeah, white cherry.

At $19 I'm going to say this is well worth snagging a bottle.

Score: 89

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Atwood Cafe - Chicago, IL - 10/13/10

Every so often some random person I know who doesn't venture into the city much will tell me they're going to a play and ask for a restaurant suggestion - the answer I give nine times out of ten is Atwood Cafe.  The food is solid and the location just about perfect for many of the big theaters.

I was surprised, then, to see I have never actually written about it here.  We haven't been since the new chef, Derek Simcik, took over - so I figured it was my duty to snag a reservation and check it out.

Ahi Tuna Tartar - waffle cones, wasabi vinaigrette.


Fried Oysters - cornmeal crusted oysters, spicy remoulade, scallion relish.


Slow Roasted Rabbit - braised carrots, onions, carrot purée, beaten biscuts


Duck² - duck confit, roasted duck breast, dumplings, peas, roasted hen of the woods, English pea purée, carrot mash


"Coffee" And Donuts - house-made donuts, triple espresso gelato


For wine, we had the feature of the month that was a very nice Vina Perallilo Arenal Carmenere. While it was solid, upon further research the markup was a mindboggling, and I'm going to go right on ahead and call it offensive (to the payer, not the payee), 500% It was a good bottle, groingrabbingly good for $9 in fact, and I get markups are a fact of dining out, but 500%? I think I'm soured.

The Heather Terhune days were excellent...the new guy's been around for a few months so there are still kinks to work out - but he's well on his way.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

2008 Georges Duboeuf Brouilly Beaujolais

We tried this one at Beaujolais tasting a few months back and this was my favorite on the table. It retails for about $13.

Cherry pie filling on the nose - rich, syrupy, sugarfied cherry.

More of that cherry pie filling on the palate as well, with a dash of cola and raspberry thrown in as well. A bit short of acid (or perhaps a bit too sweet), but there are a surprising amount of mouth drying tannins, so much so I can't help but get an oversteeped white tea sort of thing.

A carob sort of quality comes through on the finish, raspberry as well, with a bit of a black tea thing as well.

No arguments at all. For those who only know Nouveau and other sub-$10 Beaujolais wine, this would be a good one to try - drop a few bucks more and see what the region can actually offer.

Score: 87

Friday, October 08, 2010

Tweet and Taste Michigan!

Alright, the Tweet and Taste seemed to go rather well.

I had an array of connection issues, so my participation while not quite shameful, was admittedly lacking. I apologize to the folks at Silver Leaf and Shannon and Cortney at Michigan by the Bottle for the constant coming and going.

The wines were good - the Riesling was quite good, especially at the $14 pricetag. I've had a lot of Michigan Rieslings and this was one worth seeking out. The Pinot Gris, while not quite my style, actually worked rather well. The Purple Foot, a Lemberger, was a bit elusive - not bad, but I struggled with coming up with much beyond blueberry. It was the sort of wine I'd want to have a full bottle to myself to report on...hardly a bad thing!

Kudos to everyone involved!

If you're interested in reading what people had to say, just hit up Twitter and search #ttmi - you can read the old posts. I'd also check Michigan by the Bottle for a video recap and transcript in the coming days.

N/V Silver Leaf Purple Foot

Silver Leaf is a new winery on the Leelanau Peninsula in northern Michigan. The grape in this wine is Lemberger (or Blaufrankisch). This retails for $16 through the winery.

Black fruit - superripe plum - and a bit of black pepper on the nose.

I don't know. This is a tough wine. Tart cherry. Quite dry, nice tannins, black pepper, but...well, I just don't know. Nothing is jumping can go either way with this, either it's crap and nothing's there or it's coy and elusive....I'm going closer to coy. As it opens, some blueberry really comes through. Nice.

A bit of chocolate on the finish.

A really tough wine to rate. I like that it's dry and firm, but it's just not really working for me....I hate to say it, but I'd need another bottle to really know, but for now I give it a B.

This wine was consumed and reviewed as part of the Tweet and Taste Michigan Wine on Thursday, October 7, 2010. This was not tasted blind and the bottle was comped - all effort has been made to be as objective and honest as possible.

Score: 85

2009 Silver Leaf Riesling

Silver Leaf is a new winery on the Leelanau Peninsula in northern Michigan. This bottles retails for $14 through the winery. There's a ton of solid Riesling from this state, let's see how this one holds up...

Pink grapefruit and a bit of spiced peach on the nose, with a dash of fresh chamomile.

Nice balance - not much sugar, so the acid balanceds it out without being too overpowering. I get more a floral thing on the palate - orange blossom I'm thinking. Spiced peaches, maybe some apricot thrown in as well.

A bit of that fuzzy spiced peach on the finish, with more orange blossom.

For $11, I quite like this. It's nicely put together, nothing overwhelms, but nothing is out of order.

This wine was consumed and reviewed as part of the Tweet and Taste Michigan Wine on Thursday, October 7, 2010. This was not tasted blind and the bottle was comped - all effort has been made to be as objective and honest as possible.

Score: 87

N/V Silver Leaf Pinot Gris

Silver Leaf is a new winery on the Leelanau Peninsula in northern Michigan. This is one of "those" wines - finnicky with serving temp and air. Serve this as you would a Beaujolais, cool, but not cold - too cold and it's a tight mess.

A little bit of pineapple on the nose, with some general tropical qualities, with a vaguely buttery thing as well.

More pineapple with a buttery mouthfeel on the palate. Dry with a nice acidic zing - fine balance and a bit of vanilla plus some interesting tropical fruit, papaya mostly and even a bit of starfruit. I generally loathe even a hint of oak in my whites, but this is subtle and balance enough that while it's there, it does kinda work.

Papaya on the finish big time.

I wasn't too keen on this when it was right out of the fridge, but it comes together very nicely with some air and as it approaches room temperature. Anyone wine with prominent papaya gets a nod from me, so kudos.

This wine was consumed and reviewed as part of the Tweet and Taste Michigan Wine on Thursday, October 7, 2010. This was not tasted blind and the bottle was comped - all effort has been made to be as objective and honest as possible.

Score: 87

Monday, October 04, 2010

2009 Old Shore Vineyards Tree Line Pinot Noir

It's funny, when I hate a wine I have no problems with how pointless scores are, but when I love one it really makes me question the process. Give any wine this strong a review? I go all Paul Hodges, ....and then I realize I'm taking this little blog far too seriously.

This is a $28 Pinot Noir from Old Shore Vineyards.  Old Shore Vineyards is a brand new winery in southwest Michigan and this is their second release. Based on the website photos, everyone associated with the winery seems to be young. What do the youth bring to wine in an under-appreciated region?

Raspberry, both the fruit and the leaves of the plant - think raspberry herbal tea - on the nose with a bit of earth and chocolate, way in the back I get some plum as well.

Every once in a while I call a wine 'dangerous' or 'misleading.' Dangerous as in it's so good and easy drinking you drink a bottle over 30 minutes and misleading for you drink it over 30 minutes without much thought beyond 'yep, it's good.' This is that sort of wine. Immediately approachable on the first pour. This is the sort of wine with acid so well integrated, you don't even really think about it. Fruit and earth in such balance it barely registers unless you're concentrating. We're talking raspberry, chocolate, cola, cherry, poached peaches (in some sort light German red wine), black tea, sassafras, almost a rosehip quality as well - all of this put together in a subtle, light bodied wine that if you are a fan of Burgundian Pinot Noirs will almost certainly knock your socks off.

This is a finish that lingers of well over a minute starting with rich, ripe peaches fading to plums and rainier cherry and far on the back we get some nectarine - I love this stone fruit thing all with a good dash of black tea.

This is one of the few wines where I've felt compelled to open a second bottle (several days later, mind you) and reconfirm my initial thoughts. Let me tell you, I don't feel this strongly about wines often, but when I want Pinot Noir, I want this.

Score: 95

Saturday, September 25, 2010

2005 Mas Des Bressades Cabernet-Syrah Vin de Pays Du Gard

We had this at a tasting a fair number of years back and were big fans so we snagged two bottles. About a year and a half ago we opened one and it was awful - imagine half Cabernet, half Listerine - even after many hours of air it was undrinkable. I decided it would be best to wait a while and see what happens with the second bottle. Here we go again, this time blind....

Cedar, strawberry, earth on the nose.

If this wine were a bear, his name would be smokey. The palate brings tobacco, cedar, cherry, blackberry. Nice acid, fuzzy tannins, good fruit, earth, and spice balance.

Everything's good, but the finish gets a bit weird - green spices overwhelm. Basil, oregano, mint, all with a bit of green bell pepper.

The finish bugs me - while not enough to ruin the wine, certainly enough to knock a few points off. Serve with food - red sauced pasta and sausage (braised in this same wine perhaps?) - and you should be set. If I had another bottle I might sit on it for a while. Not bad for $11.

Score: 86

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tweet and Taste Michigan - Thursday, October 7

It is true, there is another Tweet and Taste coming up on Thursday October 7. Complete details can be found over here at

An array of wine bloggers and the like will be tasting three wines from Silver Creek Winery in Michigan, up there on the Leelanau Peninsula near Traverse City. The wines on the agenda are:

Silver Leaf Pinot Gris
Silver Leaf Dry Riesling
Silver Leaf Purple Foot

Purple Foot is, I believe, Blaufrankisch, an interesting varietal that showed very nicely from a couple T&T's back in a bottle from Shady Lanes.

The basics - on Thursday, October 7 at 7 pm CST, you jump onto Twitter and search #ttmi, that's the hashtag you use to follow the, you will get updates from everyone talking about the wines whether you follow them or not. (Are you following The Wineauxs, by the way?) Posts literally go up every few seconds, so it's interesting how things pan out. Because it all moves so fast, you get very real immediate opinions of people, many posts here can come together over the course of a few hours, so when put on the spot strange comments come out.

If Twitter doesn't quite work for you, you can try logging into Tweetchat, which I think is easier to read in realtime.

AND FINALLY, if none of this appeals to you, make sure you log onto The Wineauxs by midnight or so that night, full detailed reviews of each wine will be posted up here, scores and all. Michigan by the Bottle will also have a roundup in the following days - they usually do a good video round up where they discuss each wine and highlight some tweets.

In a couple days I hope to have an offer up here for discounted shipping - so stay tuned, snag a few bottles, and drink and post along, everyone is welcome to participate.

Enormous thanks and much respect go to Shannon and Cortney from Michigan by the Bottle for putting this all together. Become a fan of theirs on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, download the video podcast - they are one of the best wine sites out there and one of the few I read regularly.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

2006 Layer Cake Shiraz

This goes for about fifteen bucks retail and previous vintages have been outstanding. Let's see how the 2006 does.

Mocha and plum on the nose.

If you want a beautifully made Shiraz, this is it. Coffee, chocolate, plum, black cherry, blueberry, a dash of root beer concentrate - big, fruity, not much for tannins, but acid is present, a bit of earth and spice give it nice balance. Mid palate brings strawberry and vanilla.

A soda like finish - root beer and cola notes - brown spices as well.

If you are firmly against fruit bombs, this may not sway you but it's still worth trying. It's well made, has very nice depth, and best of all, an obscene value.

Score: 92

Sunday, September 19, 2010

N/V Henry-Detaly Champagne

This was nineteen bucks at Trader Joe's - an authentic Champagne for under twenty bucks? How could I not buy one?

Vanilla, caramel, and pear on the nose.

Caramel and orange - an odd sounding combination, but since it's not, you know, really orange and caramel, it works. I'd call this more than a bit sweet - certainly more of an extra dry. A tad yeasty, a bit of red apple, and a bit of a tangerine thing. Not bad.

Definite residual sweetness on the finish with some toasty qualities perhaps slathered with some marmalade.

While it's a fairly tasty wine and one of the cheaper Champagnes out there, you can do much better outside of the Champagne region - be it other parts of France, Spain, California, or - yep - Michigan.

Score: 85

Sunday, September 12, 2010

N/V M Lawrence Wet

This is a $15 bottle from L Mawby up in Michigan. The M Lawrence line are all wines with the secondary fermentation done in vats instead of the traditional way. They're also nearly uniformly solid...let's see what this one brings.

The nose has the softness of golden apple but just a faintest bite of green.

Apple is the dominant quality here. Mostly the tart, green apple varieties. The acid has a nice balance, a lot of times green apple implies sharp acid, but it's well integrated here. A touch of sweetness - while this is a sec it feels drier than many Bruts I've had. The best part of L Mawby's cheaper offerings is that even if they are simple and more of a quaffable style, they have none of the flaws you see in cheaper sparklers from other areas (an often metallic kind of quality as well as an unpleasant oily mouthfeel). Light, crisp, tasty.

Yep, more crisp apple and pear qualities on the finish.

Not bad at all. I'd buy it again.

Score: 88

Saturday, September 04, 2010

2006 Marilyn Merlot

This retails for around $27, though if you go to their website it's selling for a whopping forty bucks a bottle.

Fresh green spices, black licorice, cedar, and cherry on the nose.

Black cherry, mint, menthol, cedar, fresh green spice - vaguely cough syrup like. A bit thicker in body, very gentle tannins, just a touch of sweetness, but really quite balanced.

Brown spices, a bit of fresh red bell pepper, and a dash of menthol on the finish.

For a 'gimmick' wine this is pretty good. For a $40 wine, it's not. If I found this for under $20, I could see snagging another bottle.

Score: 87

Saturday, August 28, 2010

2009 Meinklang Pinot Noir Rosa

This is a rose with a bit of effervescence. It ran me about $14 at Whole Foods - it s a biodynamic wine, organic, the label talks about cows near the vines...

Watermelon rind and cherry pits on the nose.

It's strange, when you pour a glass there's a good amount of fizz, but it fades quickly leaving not visible bubbles but an interesting foamy moutfeel. Medium body, a dry sort of watermelon thing, a bit of artificial strawberry, even a bit of red apple in a jelly bean sorta way. It's a tad thick, fruity, but not (or only very slightly) sweet.

More of that red apple jelly bean thing on the finish.

Tasty. Decently priced. Theoretically good for the planet. You can do worse.

Score: 85

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

2009 Old Shore Vineyard Turkey Nest Pinot Gris

A Michigan Pinot Gris made by Cornel from Two Lads - on paper it seems almost unfair to the competition. This bottle goes for sixteen bucks and can be bought at the winery's website - they don't have a tasting room, but you can apparently make an appointment and pick up orders and check out the grounds.

Pear and a bit of spice on the nose, no individual spice in particular, more like a spiced peach pie filling. I also get what I can only compare to grappa on the nose - something a bit heavy, a bit grapey, but in a refined way.

A very nice balance, a solid acidic zing with just the slightest touch of sugar, or maybe the fruit is just fooling my palate - the thing that I think Michigan Pinot Gris so good is the acid, I think many PG's show better than Rieslings quite frankly, and this pretty much demonstrates why. Pear, green apple, vanilla, orange blossom,

The finish, and quite frankly part of the palate, reminds me a bit of Gewurz - spicy and floral - orange blossom is somewhat more pronounced with more spiced fruit pie filling, less peach, more pear...or even quince? I just had a quince the other day. I felt quite pretentious - which is saying a lot for a guy with a wine blog.

I digress. The fine folks over at Michigan by the Bottle did a video review of this bottle and dug it. I do too. Shannon mentions this is a bit less fruity than the Two Lads Pinot Grigio, not a bad thing, just a difference perhaps in the Gris/Grigio labelling, and while I think in terms of my palate I give the 2L an edge, it's close enough that I'll give this a points tie at 90. Well played.

Score: 90