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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