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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2007 Domaine Charvin Le Poutet Cotes du Rhone

This bottle went for $18 - a reputable producer, a fair price, and a region we somewhat neglect, seemed like an easy choice.

When I say this smells like Dr. Pepper, I mean it in a way kinda like, I racked my brain to think if I recently drank Dr. Pepper from this glass and forgot to wash it, all along with some cassis.

Cassis dominates the a point that, dare I call it "jammy"? A touch sweet - sort of a raspberry, cranberry, blueberry thing - a bit of spice, some black licorice, virtually no oak, some brown spice, some eucalyptus, but all in all, fruity.

More of that cassis thing on the finish, some wintergreen mint qualities.

Tough to argue with at eighteen bucks - I dig it.

Score: 89

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

2005 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Quick - what's the first thing you think of when you think of Beringer? I would not be shocked if the first thing was cheap wines you buy at the grocery store. This is one of their top of the line wines which retails at eighty big ones. Shall we see how it does?

Plum liqeuer, chocolate covered cherry - fruity, chocolatey, and even a bit funky.

Big! More of that straight up plum liqueur, perhaps some kir, more of that cherry cordial thing, a bit of vanilla, earth, all sorts of interesting spice notes - brown and green. I may be way off, but this does not really scream "California" to me...there's too much funk and earth.

Brown spice and a bit of a caramel thing on the finish fading away to raspberry tea.

A great wine to be sure. It would hold up in the cellar, but it's definitely ready now. I dig it.

Score: 92

Friday, March 18, 2011

Vinturi review #1

Of all the wine gizmos and gadgets, the Vinturi seems to get the least amount hate from the wine nerds out there. A deep discount and a gift card motivated me to buy this, while I believe it technically retails for $40, it can frequently be found for $25 on sale.

Here's how I tested it - I took three wine glasses from a set, exact same size, shape, and brand, so there was not glass variation. I then popped open the 2009 Dubeouf Fleurie, reviewed below, a good Beaujolais Cru. I immediately poured half into a 375ml bottle and capped it - this was the "control" and hopefully maintained as much of the first "pop and pour" character. I then poured a glass and let it sit for three hours.

After three hours, I left the room and had my lovely assistant pour one glass direct from the half bottle, one glass from the half bottle through the Vinturi aerator, and place them next to the aerated glass in whatever order she wanted.

The results?

1st place - the wine that went through the Vinturi
2nd place - the wine that sat out for three hours
3rd place - the wine from the half bottle

The difference between second and third was huge - the direct from the bottle wine was noticeably harsher and tighter. The difference between first and second was less pronounced - both tasted far more open and approachable, but the Vinturi wine just seemed a bit smoother.

This was the first time I thought to actually "test" how it aerates. I've done informal blind tests, and nine times out of ten it's obvious which wine went through the aerator, but I admit I'm shocked the Vinturi beat out on the good old fashioned air and swirl time.

I'll occasionally put it to the test and post results. My tentative judgment, though, is it certainly works to some degree. Is it worth $25+? Maybe, maybe not. I would, however, give it a recommendation for someone who wants to buy a gift for a wine love and doesn't want to buy a bottle.

2009 Georges Dubeouf Fleurie

Yet another 2009 Cru Beaujolais for under $15 - and not to sound like a broke record, but yet another quality wine for less money than many Nouveaus.

This smells almost exactly like strawberry Starburst.

Cola and root beer on the attack, with the strawberry Starburst on the mid palate, and some brown spices coming through towards the back. All that said, this wine is certainly not sweet - quite nicely balanced, plenty of acid and spice to work with the fruit.

I guess it's stuck in my head, but yeah...mild strawberry Starburst and a bit of cinnamon on the finish.

Thoroughly enjoyable - tasty, balanced, and priced right.

Score: 88

Sunday, March 13, 2011

2007 Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

I wanted something Italian and the shelftalker assured me this cheap - $9 - bottle was something worth trying...let's see.

Raspberry and cherry on the nose - but not straight up fruit, more of a fruit jelly kind of thing.

A touch sweet, a bit earthy, a bit trashy - imagine a fruit jelly candy sitting in some coffee grounds in the trash for a few days and take a bite...there ya go.

Coffee, actually mocha, notes on the finish with cinnamon and cherry.

I like Italian wines, I dig the funk and the acid, but sometimes they get a little too out there...I fault it on the sugar, it's a bit too sweet for me to get behind, but if that's your kinda thing this may be worth investigating.

Score: 81

Sunday, March 06, 2011

2006 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

As long as you dig in above the whole "Private Reserve" thing, Mondavi makes some damn fine wines, so I'm quite happy to pay $25+ for a bottle I haven't even tried since prior vintages have been strong.

The nose on this is kind of blah, it reminds me of very mild grape bubble gum - in fact, there's a Japanese grape bubble gum, basically gum balls, that this is strikingly similar to...along with sort of a charred steak sorta thing.

On the immediate attack is that Japanese grape bubble gum thing and it does remain throughout but some other things certainly come through...cinnamon, black cherry, cedar.

I must have it stuck in my head, but I'll be damned if I don't get more of that grape gum thing on the finish, it fades away with more cedar, more black cherry in an ice cream sorta way.

It's enjoyable, don't get me wrong, but under close scrutiny I don't think it holds up honestly - tasty, but simple, and at $25 perhaps this would be a fine wine to bring to Christmas dinner if your host is making a roast - something solid, but not groingrabbing (grabbing your groin is best left for New Year's Eve). We really dug the 2005, but this vintage I'm not quite so sure.

Score: 87

Thursday, March 03, 2011

2008 Woot Cellars Adequite Gift Old Vine Field Blend

Another Woot offering, as with most of these they go for about $10 a bottle but you have to buy four to six at a minimum.

A bit of eucalyptus, sassafras, anise - a rather spicy nose.

Cherry at first, with some blueberry, even some mocha, it seems to progress into something vaguely cough syrup like, and then a burst of vanilla and creaminess on the back end.

Blueberry and cassiss linger.

I'm going to recommend opening this for at least four hours...or sitting on it for a while. Christmas season has passed, but for ten bucks, this would be more than an adequate gift for 2011.

Score: 87

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

2006 Beaulieu Vineyard Tapestry Reserve

My notes say I paid around $40 for this - I let this sit in the decanter for six hours before digging in.

A bit of boysenberry on the nose and some qualities I can only describe as well done steak - grill up a steak (on gas, not charcoal because it's not smoke) to medium well, cut off a slice and sniff - there ya go.

Tart cherry, blackberry, vanilla, plus some milk chocolate - all with very mild eucalyptus and mint. It's a quite smooth wine, and nothing much really jumps out at you.

Blackberry and vanilla on the finish, almost a blackberry sorbet with a bit of whipped cream on top with perhaps an Andes mint thrown in.

It's a good wine, very good in fact, nice integration of all the various parts, but it's just not interesting enough for me to get too excited about...perhaps in time?

Score: 90