Thursday, December 31, 2009

Pierre Gimonnet & Fils non-vintage Blanc de Blancs Brut Cuis 1er Cru

Extremely pale color, lots of streams of small vigorous bubbles.

Smells of Pepperidge Farm Toasting White, toasted, and apple, fresh flowers, grapefruit.

Flavor of Pepperidge Farm remembering apple and pear, honey texture in the finish.

Dandy-fine bottle for $28.80 / 375ml. Some days Chardonnay that sparkles seems best.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oremus 2005 Late Harvest Tokaji

From a winery now operated by Vega Sicilia, David Copp's Hungary: Its Fine Wines and Winemakers says the blend used is Furmint, the Furmint-Bouvier cross Zeta, Harslevelu, and yellow muscat, and at least 60% of the grapes are botryris-infected.

Rich amber color.

Honey-sweet smell, peach and mild oak.

Honey and preserved apricot, candy-apple.

Very good dessert for $22.00/375ml, sugar well-balanced with acid. I remember communist-era tokaji aszu, this is similar but very much superior.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sepp Moser 2006 Gebling Kremstal Riesling

Very pale straw color with a small degree of petillance.

Melon, peach, and apple smells.

Grapefruit flavor, peach, mineral.

No white appeals to me more than Riesling. I first learned this grape with an example from Firestone that'd sat too long on the shelves of a local wine-shop, but I've since enjoyed a number of dry, off-dry, and sweet wines from the US, Germany, Australia, and Austria. This is a good bottle of dry wine for $25.99. I'm thinking about opening a bottle of a 1984 Leiwener Klostergarten Eiswein from Erzeugerabfullung Josefinengrund. It's the sweet opposite of this dry wine, but: Drool, drool. I haven't much left!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Gundlach Bundschu 2005 Rhinefarm Vineyard Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir

Medium-dark cherry soda color.

Raspberry smell, leather, oak, fresh-turned earth.

Fruity raspberry flavor, black cherry, balanced oak, as fruity at the end as it is at the beginning.

Very good bottle for $30.99, an impressively graceful medium-bodied wine.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bodega Norton 2007 Mendoza Torrontes

The color of laundry bleach.

Full smell of young melon, tangerine rind, rain-wetted stones.

Tart dry fruity flavor, crisp green apple, lemon, melon, sprightly.

Excellent bottle for $10.50, Torrontes hasn't yet earned the respect it's due, it still can be an amazing value!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Colome 2005 Valle Calchaqui Salta Estate Malbec

Includes 8% Tannat, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Opaque, dark red/purple at the edges.

Blackberry and plum smells, oak, darkness.

Even the taste is dark, plum, prune, blackberry, blueberry, black cherry, oak is there but buried deep under layers of fruit. A trace of roast beef.

Delightful bottle for $26.99, intense and concentrated. And dark.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ruinart non-vintage Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne

Moderate golden color, long-lasting streams of small bubbles.

Buttery apple smell, perhaps it's just the power of suggestion, but this all-Chardonnay Champagne smells just like a still Chardonnay does.

As with the smell, the flavor unhesitantly proclaims this as Chardonnay.

Good bottle for$31.60 / 375ml, if the Champagne name wasn't itself a valuable marketing tool, I'd suggest "Sparkling Chardonnay".

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chandon non-vintage California Brut Classic

Pale straw color, somewhat sluggish streams of medium-sized bubbles.

Grapefruit smell with home-made bread rising.

Tart grapefruit flavor, granny smith apple, fruit seems to hide any oak/toast.

Good bottle for $12.70 / 375ml, enough less expensive than a better wine to make up for it, I think. I'm imagining this as the sparkler for friends at a large wedding reception, while family gets real Champagne.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Egly-Ouriet non-vintage Brut Tradition Grand Cru Champagne

Pale golden color, long-lasting streams of pin-point bubbles.

Melon and citrus smells.

Pear flavor, oaky toasty character in the background.

Good bottle for $67.50. It occurs to me that in 2002 Richard Juhlin published '4000 Champagnes' and in his 2008 'Champagne Guide' he claims to have enjoyed 6500. Perhaps it's time I consolidated what I've learned I most enjoy rather than keep trying to find one better bottle. But not right away, maybe later.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Ruinart non-vintage Brut Rose Champagne

Salmon-pink color, long-lasting tiny bubbles.

Ripe mango smell, berry, apples, and toast.

Tart berry flavor, ends a bit tart and thin.

Inadequate bottle for $44.88 / 375ml, and pricey(!) I probably won't buy more of this. I wish I liked it better, I greatly admire the bright cheery color of Rose Champagne, but this isn't the one.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Banfi 2007 Brachetto d'Acqui Rosa Regale

Medium red color, far darker than Rose, but not so dark as Sparkling Shiraz. Puntless bottle belies the vigorous small bubbles and the resounding pop of the cork.

Raspberry smell, hint of Muscat.

Fresh-fruit-sweet berry flavor, like something you'd put on pancakes.

Intriguing bottle for $12.70 / 375ml, not something I'd want very often, but a pleasing novelty.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Guado al Melo 2006 Bacco in Toscana Bom Ba Ba Ba

Very dark purple color.

Plum smell with leather and oak.

Tart plum and cherry flavors, mild oak, slightly chalky finish.

Very good bottle for $19.99, a food-friendly match for pasta & tomato sauce.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Clos du Mont-Olivet 2007 Cotes du Rhone Varene

Near-opaque purple color, red highlights.

Earthy stone-fruit smell, hint of uncooked Canadian bacon.

Purple plum flavor, tart black cherry, peach at the finish.

Good bottle for $26.99, 2007 is often said to be an overwhelming year for Southern Rhones, this is a full-bodied wine with plenty of promise.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chateau Garreau 2005 Premieres Cotes de Blaye

Dark purple/red color.

Full smell of blackberry, leather, oak.

Flavors of blackberry, cherry, coffee.

Very good bottle for $17.99, a serviceable Bordeaux for under $20!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Jean-Maurice Raffault 2007 Chinon Les Geluches

Dark red color.

Smell of oak, plum, cherry.

Plum and cherry taste, currant.

Good bottle for $14.05. Medium-weight. certainly lighter than a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Alta Vista 2006 Mendoza Malbec Premium

Opaque, dark reddish-purple at the edges.

Plum, prune, black cherry smells, roast beef, oak in the background.

Warm plum flavor, blackcurrant, blueberry, peach, mildly oaked, quite tannic at the end.

Good bottle for $14.99, big balanced full-flavored fun.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A. Margaine non-vintage Brut Premeir Cru Champagne

Medium-pale straw color, long-lasting streams of very small vigorous bubbles.

Very restrained smell, apple and orange as it warms.

Green apple taste, orange, buttered toast if you go looking for it.

Very good bottle for $43.20, idiosyncratic in a good way, does your champagne land butter-side up or down?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vincent Girardin 2006 Bourgogne Chardonnay Cuvee Saint-Vincent

Brassy golden color.

Apple and tropical fruit smells, oak in the back.

Flavors primarily of apple, with hints of ripe peach, of papaya, and of milk. Oak hovers.

Very good bottle for $23.99, clearly a high percent (but not, I suspect, 100%) of this has been through malolactic fermentation but it retains the chardonnay character without the taste being softened to mush by the process.

While this wine lacks over-oaky flavor, it does make me reconsider my low opinion of malo chard and I can appreciate what oak there is.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Coopers Creek 2007 Gisborne Viognier

Pale greenish straw color.

Peach and flowers smell.

Apricot and peach fruit, dry, petillant,

Very good bottle for $17.99, worked well with a sandwich of leftover turkey on a roll.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Robert Oatley 2008 Rosé of Sangiovese

Orange-pink, perhaps a bit darker than most rosés.

Strawberry, grapefruit, cranberry, floral smells.

Dry strawberry, blackberry, lemon flavors, some petillance on the tongue.

Very good bottle for $15.99, a bit more body then the typical rosé. A rewarding taste of summer, even in the winter.

Update: I held off on posting this until I opened another bottle to accompany a roast turkey Thanksgiving dinner, which was a quite successful match!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Schramsberg 2005 North Coast Brut Blanc de Blancs

Cork a little reluctant to leave the bottle, took a lot of twisting of the champagne star! I shall buy a champagne key and see if that works better.

Very pale straw color, greenish tint, vigorous long-lasting cloud of tiny bubbles.

Some stink on opening (like the ghost of Nixon) that blows off almost immediately (again like the ghost of Nixon) with the bottle's initial exhalation. Thereafter apples, melons, sugar-cane, grapefruit and river-washed stones.

Tastes of apple, mouth-puckering lemon, toasted Arnold's white.

Very good bottle for $14.73 / 375ml, a reminder that Champagne isn't the only area that can make very good fizz.

PS: Champagne key FTW!!1!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Kreinbacher Birtok 2006 Somlo Old Vines Cuvee - Oreg Tokek

The cuvee consists of 60% Olaszrizling, 20% Harslevelu, and 20% Furmint.

I continue my exploration of Hungarian wine, the unexplored country.

Pale straw color.

Fresh clean citrus smell, ripe apple.

Dry melon flavor, saline texture, hints of grapefruit, light-to-medium-bodied, tart, slight bitterness at the end, which also seems warm. Admirable intensity.

Olaszrizling is grown in many places, though not as many as it used to be, but only in Hungary, I think, is it generally accepted as a source of fine wine.

Fine bottle for $22.87, I feel justified in learning more about Hungarian wine, which is so little known here.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Disznoko 2006 Tokaji Dry Furmint

Rich straw color, petillance forms on the glass..

Smell of melon and granny smith apple.

Rather thin-tasting green apple flavor, lacks concentration, good acid. I think I detect aging on the lees, but no oak.

OK light-bodied wine for $16.80, I'm not eager to buy this again, but I would compare it to Muscadet, which I do like quite a bit. Maybe this needs a simple seafood dish. I considered this as an accompaniment for Thanksgiving dinner, but rejected that possibility on the first taste.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Perrier-Jouet non-vintage Champagne Grand Brut

Extremely pale golden/amber color, tiny vigorous bubbles.

Fresh apple smell, fresh-baked yeasty toasty bread. Pepperidge Farm remembers!

Dry apple and toast flavor, a sandwich not to dismissed out of hand!

Damned good bottle for $23.39 / 375ml, lightweight but sincere Champagne.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Firriato 2007 Grillo Sicilia Altavilla Della Corte

Grillo is a grape often used in Marsala, a wine most often used in cooking chicken or veal but this is simply a rarely-seen IGT-labelled Sicilian Grillo.

Very pale straw color, some petillance.

Smell of apple and melon.

Dry flavors of apple melon and orange peel.

Good bottle for $14.40; a light-bodied wine that won't overpower very delicate food.

I'm not sure how significant is is, but grillo is Italian for grasshopper.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Messapicus 2005 Nero d'Avola

Dark purple-red color.

Dark stone-fruit smells, cedar and leather.

Very fruity flavor, blackberry and plum, seems sweet at first.

Good bottle for $16.99. From time to time it does seem too sweet, but on further consideration, that's just fruitiness, which is a good thing. I keep telling myself that.

There is noticeable sediment in the bottle, but it seems compact and it seems to stay put until I rinse the empty bottle.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Jean-Maurice Raffault 2008 Chinon Rosé

Medium orangey-pink.

Full cherry / raspberry smell.

Dry to slightly off-dry, a flavorful bowl of fruit, red raspberry, pineapple and peach, with minerals herbes provencales (I wonder what herbs of the Loire are called), long tart finish. Refreshing and food friendly, perhaps food-insistent.

Good bottle for $14.95. Turn up the heat and pretend it's summer! (100% Cabernet Franc, a grape that succeeds so well nowhere better than in Chinon.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Chartogne-Taillet non-vintage Brut Champagne Sainte-Anne

Pale straw color, long-lasting streams of tiny very vigorous bubbles.

Smell of ripe apples and toast.

Big ripe (maybe slightly over-ripe) apple flavor, Bartlett pear, cherry, toasted almonds, creamy texture.

$41.40 is an outstanding price for a bottle of very good real Champagne. My love for Bollinger Special Cuvee isn't diminished, but I must reconsider its status as "my everyday Champagne".

Update: The problem of posting out of order - now Paul Laurent non-vintage Brut Deluxe Champagne Cuvee des Fondateur at about $30 / 750ml, is certainly my everyday Champagne.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Moet & Chandon Champagne Nectar Imperial

Pale honey color, vigorous tiny bubbles.

Freshly risen bread-dough smell, peach pie, apple, and citrus.

Sweet peach, apple, and berry flavors.

Interesting bottle for $24.85 / 375ml. I was lead to expect this was a Brut competitor to the Bollinger Special Cuvee with its high degree of reserve wine. I find it instead closer to a demi-sec which might or might not have a comparable percent of reserve wine. (Who can tell thru the residual sugar?). Since I have a special regard for Special Cuvee, perhaps I'm prejudiced.

I say it's demi-sec and I say 'to hell with it!'

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Matteo Correggia 2004 Nebbiolo d'Alba La Val dei Preti

Medium-dark ruby color, orange at the edges.

Plum and fresh-turned earth smells.

Plum, red cherry flavors, licorice and strong tea and well-balanced oak in the finish.

Good bottle for $27.99, a fine example of a lighter-style Nebbiolo.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A. Margaine non-vintage Brut Rose Champagne

Very pale pink color, delicate. Many tiny bubbles.

Freshly-toasted bread, citrus and berries smell.

Apple and citrus flavors with a few blackberries, generous with the fruit, seems just a little sweeter than I expect from a Brut.

I recognize that pink Champagne is a bit of an affectation, but I'll try any Terry Theise Estate Selection, and have not yet been disappointed by that policy. Despite Jancis Robinson dismissing this wine and it getting a poor rating in Richard Juhlin's book, I enjoyed this $49.05 bottle. As I write this it's a Formula 1 weekend, and that calls for fizzy wine, more, it's Monza this weekend, and that calls for Champagne!

(Ah! It's clear (even if only to F1 fans, who know Monza was in September, that sometimes there's a delay between writing a post and publishing it.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Midslope 2007 Rasteau "Rhone Red"

Dark purple color, reddish glints.

Big warm blackberry smell, strawberry, oak, some acetic acid that makes me suspect a significant percent of cabonic maceration.

Blackberry flavor, more than a hint of banana/strawberry, warm with alcohol at the finish. Fruity but dry, big 14% abv.

Good bottle of $18.99, puts me in mind of a Beaujolais with the volume turned up to 11. Mixed blessing and all, but overall I approve. I'd approve more for $5 less!

A second bottle opened days later exhibited the same characteristics.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Domaine de la Louvetrie 2008 Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie

Very pale straw color, some pinpoint petillance visible.

Green apple smell, some fresh-baked bread.

Granny Smith apple flavor, tart enough to make my ears ring just a bit. Especially noticeable saline character at first taste.

Excellent bottle for $12.60. I don't know why muscadet is so unfashionable, but I'll gladly take advantage. I speculate that Loire winemakers too often fail to "talk dry but sell sweet." California chardonnay-makers know that's the key to commercial success. Muscadet is dry, without a question.

This is the traditional wine to accompany oysters, but I'm enjoying it just fine with a sandwich of warm soft moderately sharp cheddar.

Some background on the wine and its maker. Some background on aging sur lie.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Foradori 2005 Teroldego Rotaliano

The little brother of Foradori Granato, from the same variety of grape.

Deep reddish purple color.

Blackberry smell, plum, prune, leather.

Berry, plum, and black cherry flavors, fruit well-balanced with acid. Develops some pleasant bitterness at the end. Juicy!

Good bottle for $24.99, another grape I've never had, nor heard of, before.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mas Belles Eaux 2005 Languedoc "les Coteaux"

A Rhone-style blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre.

Opaque purple color.

Full smell of blackberry, oak, a bit of tar.

Very fruity flavor, blackberry, cherry, peach, black pepper, alcohol warmth at the end.

Very nice bottle for $21.99, more like a fruit-forward product of a California "Rhone Ranger" than of the Rhone itself. More about power than about subtlety.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

St. Amant 2007 Lodi Old Vines Zinfandel Mohr-Fry Ranch

With 4% Petite Sirah.

Very dark purple-red color.

Smells of blackberry, leather, and oak.

Ripe black raspberry and blackberry flavor, oak, big fruit from start to finish with a lot of alcohol warmth at the end. Velvety smooth, full-bodied.

Good bottle for $19.99: watch out for that fruit-bomb, the fuse is lit!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adegas Gran Vinum 2008 Rias Baixas Albarino Esencia Divina

Extremely pale color, (perhaps) excessively petillant.

Smell of tangerine peel, melon, fresh laundry.

Refreshing tart acid dominates green apple and grapefruit flavors, light-bodied, proved a good match for a simple grilled chicken.

Fine bottle for $24.99, reinforcing my growing opinion of Spanish whites, not an area I used to consider worth my while.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nicolas Feuillatte non-vintage Brut Reserve Particuliere

Pale straw color with vigorous small bubbles.

Sweet apple pie smell, cinnamon, hints of menthol.

Off-dry apple pie flavor, drying to a thin flavor at the end.

An adequate half-bottle for $20.80 / 375ml, technically correct wine that is lacking in excitement or conviction. I won't buy more of this.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pannonhalmi Apatsagi Pinceszet 2007 Rajnai Rizling

Bright straw color, pale as water.

Clean-laundry smell, pear and melon, the memory of diesel exhaust.

Dry apple flavor, saline, melon, river-wetted stones. Develops well through the long finish.

Good bottle for $16.50, I admit to prejudice in favor of Hungarian wine, but I don't think that too much colors my review. This is a solid expression of my favorite grape in an unfamiliar terroir.

'Rajnai Rizling' is 'Rhine Riesling'.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Paul Laurent non-vintage Brut Deluxe Champagne Cuvee des Fondateur

Pale golden/amber color, long-lasting streams of small bubbles.

Ripe peach smell, apples, hints of melons.

Peaches and apples, melons and figs. The taste of toast creeps up as the glass warms.

Excellent bottle for $29.25: I may have found a new everyday Champagne.

More than ever before, I think I get the point of 'farmer champagne': this is, first, wine. It behaves like wine before it behaves like Champagne. I greatly approve.

(Interestingly, while it's not advertised as such, the Richard Juhlin Champagne Guide says this is a Blanc de Noirs; 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier).

Update: Paul Laurent themselves say 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Graceland Cellars non-vintage California "Champagne" Brut All Shook Up

Pale golden color, big vigorous short-lived bubbles.

Bready apple smell, hint of cinnamon.

Apple and cinnamon raisin bread dough.

Adequate bottle for $15.99. I won't buy this again.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Vina Robles 2007 Paso Robles Viognier Huerhuero

Medium straw color, hints of green and orange. Traces of petillance.

Smells of peach and freshly-squeezed orange.

Peach/apricot tastes, petillance on the tongue, ends with subdued oak and alcohol warmth, a bit of cleansing bitterness. Fairly thick mouth-feel.

Interesting bottle for $26.99. I'm a little non-plussed by oak in a Viognier, but I recognize that they all shouldn't be Condrieu clones, I think it's fair for New World vintners to essay their own styles.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Goulart 2008 Mendoza Torrontes

Very pale yellow-tinged color.

Pungent citrus and green apple smells.

Fruity dry flavor, grapefruit and granny smith apple and a bit chalky at the end. Bitter citrus peel under the fruit,frisky petilance on the tongue, but no apparent bubbles on the glass.

An excellent bottle for $15.99, I foresee this as the next trendy white grape, perhaps supplanting Viognier.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Pannonhalmi Apatsagi Pinceszet 2007 Pannonhalmi Tramini

Deep golden color. Petillant bubbles form on the glass.

Smell of lychee, geranium, tropical fruit, baked apple, roses, hints of citrus peel.

Apple flavor, black pepper, peach, some citrus peel bitterness at the end, expected in a quite dry Gewurztraminer. Warm alcohol finish that detracts from perfection, but not terribly.

An excellent bottle for $15.99, my first dry Hungarian wine. This strikes me as very much like an Alsace Gewurztraminer.

The winery's notes on this wine.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Terres Dorees Jean-Paul Brun 2007 l'Ancien Vin de Table

Here and here and here you can read that INAO declared that this is not eligible to be labeled Beaujolais but must instead be a mere Vin de Table. Quel scandale, quelle infamie!

Medium-dark ruby color.

Full blackberry smell with oak, Pinot Noir-like.

Juicy ripe blackberry flavor, fresh-stripped from the canes, red cherry. Tart peach finish. I detect no trace of rubber, of mushrooms, nor of volatile acidity. If anything is acharacteristic of Beaujolais, I suggest it's the lack of the last.

I cheerfully mock Brun's adherence to bio-organic techniques, but I stand in awe of the results.

An outstanding bargain for $18.99, this may well be the best Beaujolais I've ever had.

So INAO thinks this is flawed and not good enough for the Beaujolais AOC? With acknowledgments to Monty Python, I wave my private parts at INAO's and Georges DuBoeuf's aunties. This is dandy Beaujolais, I dare either of them to do better!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pierre Peters non-vintage Champagne Blanc de Blancs Cuvee de Reserve

Pale straw color, vigorous pinpoint bubbles.

Smells of toast, wet stones, peach. The smell of some well-aged reserve wine in the cuvee is apparent.

Flavors of green apple, pear, citrus, toasty flavor of long contact with the lees.

I stand in awe after my first experience of Terry Theise-selected Champagne. I find this a bargain at $34.99 / 375 ml. Even though I know this exceeds my stated high-water-mark for posting, even though it's only a half-bottle, it's champagne and I'll pay for champagne. Soon, I think, I'll remove the whole paragraph at the bottom of the blog template about having a high-water-mark.

100% chardonnay.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Delamotte non-vintage Brut Champagne Blanc de Blancs

Golden color, small vigorous bubbles.

Smell of fresh-baked apple pie with a good crust, a bit of citrus peel.

Apple flavor, a bit bready, pineapple (which I can't help but think would be a good ingredient in the apple pie), grapefruit and toast in the lingering end.

Pricey bottle for $50.99, but Champagne can't be had cheaply.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Enrico Santini 2006 Bolgheri Campo Alla Casa

A blend of Vermentino 60% / Sauvignon Blanc 40 %.

Pale straw color, traces of petillance apparent.

Smells of citrus and honey, pine boughs.

Grapefruit taste, mineral flavors in the finish, petillance noticeable on the tongue. Mediium-to-full bodied.

Good bottle for $19.99. There were, I read, only 600 cases of this produced in 2006, but I see that as a rather dubious distinction but it does cause me to be impressed with my local wine-shop.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bodegas Bernabe Navarro 2005 Alicante Beryna

Distinctly opaque, purple color.

Plum smell, bacon, oak.

Taste begins with big fruit, plum and black cherry and blackberry, roast beef, dark chocolate. Full-bodied, never over-oaky, with some alcohol warmth at the end, stays balanced. Profound.

Good bottle for $19.99. Some sediment becomes apparent at the bottom of the bottle.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Domaine Cheysson 2006 Chiroubles

Medium-to-dark ruby color. traces of petillance.

Smells of blackberry, sweet cherry, organic something.

Tastes of blackberry, strawberry, with an appealing earthy quality developing.

Good bottle for $21.99, juicy delicious appetizing wine.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Terres Dorees Jean-Paul Brun 2007 Beaujolais Blanc (Chardonnay)

This is the first time I've blogged a still chardonnay. It's not that I dislike the grape, but that there is a long list of white grapes that come first in my heart: Riesling: always first, then Muscat or Viognier, then Gewurztraminer, then Verdejo (which I've just learned), and perhaps then Chardonnay, too often bottled only after years in new oak, which can flavor the wine to the exclusion of other influences. But no oak here. Just chardonnay and a winemaking style that allows it to flourish. Surprise! What Beaujolais winemakers do for Gamay, they can do for Chardonnay.

Medium golden color, hint of petillance on opening, blows off quickly.

Smell of pear and minerals, floral notes.

Buttery peach flavor, lemon, almonds, apples.

A winning bottle for $17.99, exactly the right thing to re-introduce me to chardonnay. I still dread over-oaked examples, though.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mas Carlot 2006 Clairette de Bellegarde

The 2009 Hugh Johnson Pocket Wine Book says of Clairette de Bellegarde: "Obscure AC nr Nimes: fresh white."

Before opening the bottle, I was tempted to plan posting "Mostly harmless" and leave it at that.

Not a highly-regarded grape.

Pale piss-yellow color, petillant bubbles form on the glass.

Fresh grapefruit smell, apple, floral hints.

Mild grapefruit and green apple flavors, alcohol warmth builds from the middle, a bit of carbonic acid produced by the petillance is appeciated.

An acceptable bottle for $16.99. I admit, the only reason I bought it was that I'd never tasted this grape. I doubt I'll do so again, but this wasn't the flabby horror that I'd come to expect and displayed some grace and balance of fruit and acid.

So rather than a dismissive "Mostly harmless", I'll close with a comprehensive "Interesting"!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Prazo de Roriz 2005 Douro

A blend of Portuguese grapes often used to make Port: 35% Touriga Nacional, 35% Touriga Franca, 10% Tinta Barroca, 10% Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo in Spain and Aragonez elsewhere in Portugal), 10% Tinta Cao.

Prazo de Roriz is the second label of the highly-regarded Quinta de Roriz, all grapes used in this wine are grown at the Quinta.

Opaque deep purple-red color.

Black cherry smell, plum, oak, tobacco, dark chocolate.

Tart full-bodied fruity flavor, prune and cherry, restrained oak, bitter chocolate. Dusty-seeming tannins.

An excellent bottle for $16.99. My appreciation for dry table reds from Portugal continues to grow. Port was first made by adding brandy to the wines of the Douro in the 17th Century to help the wine survive the journey to England. Today, while Port is still in fashion, it's also quite feasible to ship the wine without brandy. I approve.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sepp 2007 Neusiedlersee Zweigelt

Very dark purple color, red in the depths.

Smell starts with a hint of Welch's grape juice, then developes into plum.

Ripe juicy blackberry flavor, plum, black cherry, ends with smooth tannins. Medium-weight.

Very nice bottle for $13.95, a bit simple but fruity fun. An Austrian red I hadn't expected to encounter. I tried another bottle with a a very light chill, which worked well on a hot humid evening, though the aroma and flavor become a bit less intense.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jose Pariente 2008 Rueda Varietal Verdejo II Victorias

Distinctly yellow color with green and golden notes, slightly petillant.

Smell of grapefruit peel actively being crushed, with the tiny sting in the nose one would expect.

Concentrated taste of grapefruit, grapefruit peel, grapefruit rind, tart fruit salad (the kind that comes in glass jars with lots of grapefruit, perhaps ruby grapefruit, and not so many maraschinos) with cleansing bitterness in the finish. I yearn for tapas. Petillant on the tongue. Full-bodied.

An outstanding bottle for $19.99. As distinctive in its grapefruit way as Viognier is in an apricot way. I remember Spanish whites as light-weight neutral boring flabby over-oaked wines lacking in virtue. My memories are invalidated by this bottle.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Les Domaniers de Puits Mouret 2008 Cotes de Provence Rose

Salmon-to-orange color, slightly petillant.

Smell of tea, tropical fruit, hint of bandaids.

Dry, medium-bodied, flavors of blackberry, peach, black cherry. Petillance noticeable here from the beginning.

Very pleasant warm-weather bottle for $24.99, considerably over-priced. The hidden cost of internet wine-buying and "free shipping," I think as well as that Domaines Ott has some relationship with the marketing of this wine.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Domaine Carneros 2005 Carneros Sparkling Wine Brut

By Taittinger.

Very pale straw color.

Bread, apple, and melon smell, pillsbury doughboy with a fruit-basket.

Chardonnay character evident on opening, then pinot comes rushing in the middle, apple and melon taste, red raspberry, with maraschino cherry, a bit more enthusiasm than I would expect in Champagne appelation wines but Carneros? No prob! Toast (and things!)

An excellent bottle for $25.99, which nudges up my limit for blog posting. I think I must explore Taittinger Champagne bottlings; this suggests they might know what they're doing. (Hmmm, a quick review of my local wine merchant shows no bargain-basement bottlings of the real goods, still, that's what this is for, I suppose.)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Feudi di Guagnano 2007 Salento Negroamaro Miralde

Dark ruby color.

Smell of wet leather and black cherry.

Black plum and black cherry flavors, touch of refreshing bitterness in the finish.

A very pleasant bottle for $16.99, this begs for pasta and tomato sauce and has enough acid to stand up to it.

Negroamaro ("black bitter") is one of the two grapes used, along with Malvasia Nera, in Salice Salentino.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Vina Herminia 2001 Rioja Reserva

Dark ruby color.

Cherry smell, restrained oak, hints of leather and earthiness.

Medium body, red cherry flavor, oak, leather, blackberry, and peach, bright acid.

Good bottle for $24.99. A new purchase, this 2001 bottling is, in my opinion, not fading, but fully ready. It lacks the overwhelming oak that has long prejudiced me against Rioja. With this bottle I'm starting to come around, though. I'm thinking this'd match well with a simple roast beef.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Monticello Vineyards 2005 Napa Valley, Corley Family Syrah, Estate Grown, Signature Collection

Dark garnet color.

Prune and leather smells, floral notes in the background.

Warm dark stone fruit flavors, a bit bitter in the middle, gets a little thin at the end. Very good acid throughout, not always true of 100% Syrah so I suspect a little bit of high acid wine like Viognier in the blend, a good thing if true.

A "mixed message" sort of bottle for $23.99: a big flavorful mouthful at the start that tails away to an inadequate end.

Monday, July 20, 2009

King Estate 2007 Oregon Pinot Gris, Signature Collection

Extremely pale straw color.

Pronounced smell of grapefruit, apple, lemon, some melon.

Off-dry to dry apple flavor, with citrus and hints of petillance.

An adequate bottle for $21.99 but not much of a bargain. Food-friendly with enough acid to match even oily food, but without any other special merit.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oreana 2005 Central Coast Pinot Noir

Darker-than-medium garnet color.

Smells of raspberry, blueberry, plum, then oak and alcohol are noticeable at the end.

Blackberry and prune flavors and warm alcohol.

A big punchy fruit-bomb that doesn't pretend to Burgundian character. Doesn't even attempt it. An enjoyable bottle for $19.99 so long as you're not offended by a Pinot Noir this brawny. Exuberant!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sepp Moser 2007 Apetlon Muskat Ottonel

Water-pale straw color, considerable petillance evident.

Sweet perfumed smell with grapefruit and apple.

Mild barely off-dry pear flavor, thin in the middle and after, petillant. Flabby, lacks acid.

An unsatisfying bottle for $17.50. Lacks depth or conviction. After a nice smell typical of muscat, it just fades away without making an impression.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chateau Potensac 2005 Medoc

Deep opaque reddish purple color, deep ruby in the depths.

Rich plum, black cherry, pencilbox cedar smells with a bit of mint.

Plum and prune flavors, cedar and herbs.

Good bottle for $21.99. Budget-priced Medoc was the first wine I learned to love, taught by my friend Phillippe, so this has a bit of Autumn reminiscencing for days of Spring in it. Experience (various cases of Robert Pepi Vine Hill Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon to wit) has taught that I can't adequately judge how well red wines will age, so I plan to drink this up. Shall I guess what makes up the blend? Lush Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot without a doubt, but I bet there's pedestrian Cabernet Franc in there and I wouldn't be surprised to learn of stemmy Petit Verdot and perhaps black Cot as well.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

David Bruce 2006 Central Coast Petite Sirah

Opaque deep purple color. Petite Sirahs are traditionally described as "tooth-staining" and I am, I find, a traditionalist at heart.

Rich plum smell, black cherry, peach, moderate oak.

Full-bodied plum & prune flavors, black pepper. Restrained use of oak, bright acid, smooth tannins. Juicy and good!

A very satisfying, classy, $20.99 bottle from a winemaker better known for pricier Burgundian-style Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hogue 2007 Columbia Valley Gewurztraminer

Very pale straw color, cloudy with a lot of petillance.

Smell of not-quite-ripe grapefruit.

Sweeter-than-offdry apple flavor, tongue-tingling petillance.

I'll not buy this again. I recognize that Gewurztraminer needs some residual sugar to overcome an inherent bitterness, but this is like soda. $12.50 wasted.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Herdade Fonte Paredes 2005 Alentejano Cabernet Sauvignon Aragones

I decanted this wine with vigorous aeration then let it rest for most of a day.

Deep ruby color, purple at the edge.

The smell I notice first is fresh (California?) oak and plenty of it. It overpowers everything else.

The oak flavor also predominates, with red cherry and blackberry. Lively acid, begs for food to accompany.

Entirely pleasant bottle for $19.99, made an excellent match with a steak dinner. I'll keep hunting up my budget Cabernet, but this is a winner. I appreciate oak with Cabernet more than I do, I think, with any other grape and I think I've said before that I've learned to greatly admire the dry reds of Portugal.

This is labeled 60% Cabernet Sauvinon, 40% Aragones. Aragones is better known as Tempanillo, the grape of Rioja wine in Spain.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Domaines Schlumberger 2006 Alsace Pinot Blanc Les Pinces Abbes

Quite pale color, traces of petillance

Smell of fresh clean laundry.

Soft acid with melon flavor, a bit of citrus, then fruity sweet berrycherry, some petilance on the tongue.

A pleasant bottle for $16.99, surprisingly low acid for an Alsatian wine, though I read that this characteristic is common in Alsatian still Pinot Blancs. I think I shall look elsewhere to find a better Pinot Blanc.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jean Bererd et Fils 2007 Domaine de la Madone Beaujolais le Perreon

Fairly dark red color, purple at the edge.

Mild banana/strawberry smell, a bit of raspberry.

Tart raspberry flavor, banana. No apparent oak. Good acid.

This wine is eligible to be labeled Beaujolais-Villages but is not so labeled. I wonder if someone is lobbying for cru status for le Perreon. If so, I'm not convinced it deserves it.

Pleasant enough, a food-friendly fun Beaujolais, but no bargain for $19.77. A day of the bottle open didn't improve the second half of the bottle.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chateau de Pitray 2005 Cotes de Castillon Grand Vin de Bordeaux

I decanted this wine with vigorous aeration then let it rest for a few hours.

Nearly opaque ruby color.

Very little smell, what there is is blackberry, black cherry.

Black cherry and blackberry flavors, hint of blueberry, I don't detect oak. Bright with acid, tannic finish.

A day later the bottle seemed to have a more pronounced aroma, so a second bottle was opened a few days after, decanted with vigorous aeration and tasted after half a day of rest but showed no obvious differences. A third bottle, opened without decanting, seemed to have slightly more pronounced aroma and flavor.

A somewhat overpriced bottle for $17.99. I'll continue looking elsewhere for bargain Cab Sauv.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Pierre Sparr 2006 Alsace Geurztraminer Carte d'Or

Deep golden color, I don't know that I've ever seen a young dry wine this color.

Full spicy apple melon smell.

Melon flavor with apple. I don't know what that melon is, but I imagine the spicy flavor is a melon. Just the slightest big off dry.

I don't know why it's been so long since I've had a dry Gewurztraminer, I like this grape. This is an especially nice bottle, even considering that I paid $20.99. It made a companion for a lunch of fried rice and General Tso's chicken from the local Chinese takeout place.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lucien Albrecht non-vintage Cremant d'Alsace Brut Blanc de Blancs

A year ago, I would have quietly asserted that I'd tasted the common wines and missed only the real outliers, mostly. Just this week I've had my first bottles of French Gamay from outside Beaujolais, and this, an Alsace fizz.

Very pale straw color, many small vigorous bubbles.

Melon smell, apple, toast.

Dry melon flavor, grapefruit, toast, apple, some cleansing bitterness at the end and, contrarily. fruitiness. A fine bottle for $16.99. (This wine is 100% Pinot Blanc.)

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Marramiero Dama 2007 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

Nearly opaque, deep purple red color.

Blackberry and black cherry smell, some oak.

Rich black cherry flavor, blackberry, blueberry. A touch of oak in the warm alcohol finish. Restrained tannins. Decidedly food-friendly.

A very nice bottle for $14.99, I approve entirely.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Jean-Francois Merieau 2007 Le Bois Jacou Touraine Gamay

I don't think I've before had a Gamay from anywhere except Beaujolais, certainly not from France.

Medium-dark cherry red color. Strawberry smell, leather, hint of banana.

Strawberry/banana flavor, hint of peach, some carbonic maceration character, not a bit of oak. There's a little thinness in the finish. I can't distinguish this from a fair-to-good Beaujolais-Villages.

At $14.95, it's a fair buy but a dollar or two less would make it seem much more of a bargain. Still, I suppose real Beaujolais for $15 would be quite a find lately. I suffer from too clear a memory of the days of the wine lake, since drained to distill bioethanol.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pierre Sparr 2006 Alsace One

Pale golden color, some pinpoint bubbles visible.

Peach, pear, apple, melon, and floral smells.

Slightly off-dry pear and peach flavors, slightly petillant, tart like a Granny Smith apple.

This blend of unspecified amounts of Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris cost $16.95 and seemed a fair buy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bonny Doon 2007 Vin Gris de Cigare

Orange/salmon-pink color.

Smell of watermelon, strawberry, and peach.

Dry flavors of strawberry, cherry, Provençal herbs, surprisingly full-bodied for a pink wine. Tart with food-friendly acid.

A blend of 47% Grenache, 27% Cinsault, 14% Syrah, 7% Grenache Blanc, and 5% Roussanne, this is a rewarding bottle for $16.99.

Friday, May 15, 2009


As a result of my latest shopping, I'm increasing my upper limit for reasonably-priced wine to $25/bottle.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Domaines Schlumberger 2006 Alsace Riesling Grand Cru Saering

Pale straw color.

Exuberant Riesling fruit smell: apple and melon, spices and citrus rind.

Dry flavor of apple and mekon, traces of petillance.

A bargain at $14.99, more and more I greatly appreciate Alsace wine and intend to try more.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sogrape 2005 Dão Callabriga

Drinkers of a certain age will remember Sogrape from the bottle of Mateus. Sogrape is the largest wine producer in Portugal, and produces some interesting dry wines worth tasting even after one's outgrown Mateus.

I aerated this vigorously and let it rest for most of the day after opening.

Near-opaque purple/red color.

Plum and prune smell, oak underneath that.

Full flavor of black cherry and plum, nicely balanced with just a bit of oak. That this wine is so balanced is what most impresses me. I have lately been pleased by each of my bottles of dry Portuguese wines.

A very good bottle for $16.99, worked well with lasagna dinner.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Black Chook nv South-eastern Australia Sparkling Shiraz

Dark red / purple color with a vigorous purple head.

Black cherry smell with a big whiff of oak.

Bitter splintery mouthful of oaky flavor of black cherry, plum, sweet fruit.

A fun bottle for $16.99, but suffers from aggressive unbalanced use of raw-tasting new oak, would be better with that toned down a bit.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hiedler 2007 Kamptal Grüner Veltliner Loess

This is my first experience with Austrian wine, since my early years of wine learning were when Austria was still suffering from a tainted wine scandal.

Very pale straw color.

Full-bodied smell, melon and apple, floral hints.

Melon and apple flavors dominate the fruity dry flavor, medium bodied, pear and flint flavors develop. Touch of petillance.

A very good bottle for $16.95. More body than I'd been lead to expect, but still graceful. This is a Terry Theise Estate Selection, which I've learned is a mark of certain excellence in German wines, I see no reason to doubt this does not extend to his selections from outside Germany.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Remy Pannier 2006 Vouvray "Vallee des Jardins"

Extremely pale straw color, slightly petillant.

Melon, floral smell.

Off-dry taste of apple pie, pear, citrus hints. Petillance is quite noticeable.

A bit simple, but seems a good value for $14.99.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Potel-Aviron 2004 Chenas Vieilles Vignes

Over the years I've enjoyed many bottles of wine from Georges Duboeuf, so it's with mixed feelings that I read that the makers of tonight's bottle, Nicolas Potel and Stephane Aviron, represent a sort of anti-Duboeuf.

Duboeuf will always be associated, fairly or not (*), with the great marketing success he made with Beaujolais Nouveau and the process of carbonic maceration fermentation. Burgundy vigneron and eleveur Potel uses, in Beaujolais, extended skin contact, traditional (yeast-mediated) fermentation, and a percentage of new oak barrels, techniques often thought of as 'new style' Beaujolais. Demonstrating that the old style still dominates the market is that the word 'Beaujolais' appears nowhere on the label of this wine.

I aerated this vigorously and let it rest briefly after opening.

Smell of blackberry and cherry, notes of talcum.

Blackberry and cherry flavors, gentle but firm tannins, well-integrated oak. Medium-to-full-bodied, matches well with steak and vegetables and with biscuit and cheddar.

A surprising Beaujolais wine, an excellent bottle for $16.99. I've not lost my appreciation for the Duboeuf style, but my eyes have been opened to another way.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chateau Pey la Tour 2007 Bordeaux

I aerated this vigorously and let it rest briefly after opening.

Dark ruby color, but less dark than Merlot usually is, in my experience.

Cherry smell with leather and oak.

Watery taste of cherry and berry, unsweetened tea.

Lacks concentration, a light-weight, not a good match for a full-flavored meal. A disappointing bottle for $13.99.

The label says this is 77% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pitule 2007 Moscato d'Asti

Not as fizzy as Champagne, but distinctly fizzy just the same. Frizzante. Very pale straw color.

Fresh fragrant fruit smell, lychee, pear, and melon.

Sweet honeyed apple and pear taste, made a pleasant match with roast turkey & stuffing. I skipped the cranberries, though.

A good buy for $12.99.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quinta do Encontro 2004 Bairrada

I aerated this vigorously and let it rest briefly after opening.

Opaque purple color.

Plum, black cherry, prune smell.

Fruity black cherry, berry flavor, tart, mild tannins, pleasant absence of the too-oaky character I've found in so many Iberian wines.

A very nice bottle for $12.99, not a showstopper, but just what I look for when pulling a cork for dinner: cheap and cheerful!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Vinum Africa 2006 Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc

Pale straw color.

Melon smell, peach, floral, a bit of citrus.

Dry fruity flavor, melon, peach, petillant, thick texture. Alcohol warmth and smoke at the finish.

An entirely reasonable bottle for $14.99. I'm pleased.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Athesia nv Trentino Lagrein

I aerated this vigorously and let it rest for a day after opening.

Dark purple color.

Smell of oak and leather.

Tart cherry flavor, over-tart. I think.

An adequate wine for $14.99. In all, I could skip paying this much for it again. I'd be happier if it was $8/bottle.

Not bad as a pizza wine or spaghetti wine. but budget Chianti will do that, too, for less than $15.

A subsequent bottle, opened a few days later and not aerated, was not greatly different, but for some licorice smell and flavor.

Friday, April 3, 2009


The latest bottle fills me with uncertainty. My current internet wine-seller has a three bottle minimum per wine, so I'll use that to my advantage and finish a second bottle before I post.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Domaine Baron 2007 Touraine Sauvignon Blanc Les Vieilles Vignes

I've long had mixed feelings about Sauvignon Blanc; finding dry Sauv Blanc to often exhibit a 'mouthful of fat' mouth-feel, an oleaginous thickness that I've found disgusting, but I greatly admire Sauternes and new world analogues: sweet Sémillon / Sauv Blanc blends on which I dote. I feel obliged to keep trying this noble grape at irregular intervals.

Medium straw color.

Honeydew melon smell.

Tart off-dry fruity taste of melon, white grape juice, Bartlett pear, sugar cane. Slightly petillant.

This is an appealing wine for $12.49. I particularly appreciate the absence of the smell and flavor of lawn clippings, which I often detect in Sauvignon Blanc.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Montinore Estate 2007 Willamette Valley Oregon Almost Dry Riesling

Extremely pale straw color.

Smell of a melon crushed by a smoky diesel bus that's gone off-course in the melon patch / vineyard.

Apple flavor with a bit of grapefruit, off-dry as a Kabinett, a bit petillant.

A pleasant wine for $11.99, a wonderful match for a spicy Chinese take-out.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tahbilk 2006 Victoria Marsanne

Pale golden color.

Melon smell, pineapple, a bit of Champagne-like toast. Warm alcohol in the finish. I can detect apple if I expect to find it.

Rich ripe pineapple flavor, melon, peach, fruit and quite full-bodied.

A thoroughly enjoyable wine for $14.99. No shrinking violet.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Black Chook 2007 South Australia Shiraz Viognier

I aerated this vigorously and let it rest for most of a day after opening.

A very trendy Rhone-like blend that's common in Australia lately.

Near-opaque red/purple color.

Smell of prunes, cherries,

Taste opens with a big mouthful of sweet prune, gets drier in the mouth, oak flavor emerges with blackberry and peach, fruit fairly balanced with acid. Alcohol warmth dominates the finish.

I have mixed feelings about this $18.50 95% Shiraz, 5% Viognier blend. This fruit-bomb with 15% alcohol wins for size and exuberance, but loses on grace and finesse.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Jean-Marie Arnoux 2004 Vacqueyras Vieux Clocher Cuvee Non Filtree

If you squint hard enough you might mistake a bottle of this for one from its close neighbor, Chateauneuf-du-Pape. (A day after I wrote this I experienced an aneurysm on my retina, not dangerous but it wants treatment, so no more snide comments from me about squinting.)

This wine is 70% Grenache, 25% Syrah, and 5% Mourvedre.

I aerated this and let it rest for a day after opening.

Dark red color.

Berry and wildflower smells. wood and cherry.

Cherry, blueberry and raspberry flavors, oak. Full-bodied.

Quite a nice wine for $17.99, but I can't help seeing it as as a Cote-du-Rhone that became very impressed with its self.

(I visited my primary care doctor, who arranged for me to see an opthamologist the next day, who's sending me to a retina specialist next week. Until then, reading is a little hit-or-miss.)

Update: Watchful waiting did the trick, in time, with no other treatment, I healed up fine.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

La Nunsio 2004 Barbera d'Asti

I aerated this vigorously after opening. In a subsequent bottle some days later, not aerated, there was considerable petillance on the tongue. A third bottle, the next day, taught me that vigorous aeration can drive off petillance, a virtue I hadn't appreciated before.

Medium garnet color, seems a bit cloudy. With subsequent bottles I came to recognize this cloudiness as an attribute of the petillance.

Smell of plum, cherry, and oak.

Rich stone fruit and vanilla oak flavors, hint of menthol.

Not the finest Barbera I've recently enjoyed, but, still, a good buy for $11.50. The petillance, in a 5-year-old wine, gives me some second thoughts. It is a flaw in red wine (and not generally a virtue in white) but one the consumer can fix for free with some trivial effort.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chateau de Pizay 2008 Morgon

A rather squat little bottle that reminds me of Chateau de La Chaize from Brouilly.

I aerated this wine and let the bottle rest for about 1/2 hour.

Medium-dark garnet color.

Smell of raspberry, cherry, a hint musty.

Black raspberry flavor, red cherry, tart, refreshing,

It's been a few months since I last enjoyed beaujolais. $16.50 for this bottle reminds me how much I like Gamay.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Romano Clelia 2006 Fiano di Avellino Colli di Lapio

Extremely pale straw color.

Smell of melon and green apple. The inside of my glass displays many pinpoint bubbles.

Before any flavor, my tongue is stung by petillance, then melon and green apple fruit emerge.

I had expected a wine similar to Viognier. In fact, it's quite different. Neither are usually oaked, and both are medium-bodied, but I don't think the similarity goes much further. I don't detect the apricot flavor I often detect in Viognier.

I find this an interesting refreshing wine, but a bit of a disappointment for $19.99. I have five more bottles of this and since it's often said that Fiano rewards moderate aging, I intend to open a bottle each year until I run out.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Firriato 2006 Nero d'Avola Chiaramonte

A few days ago I posted notes on the 2005 example.

I aerated this and let it rest for most of a day after opening.

Medium-dark red color, maybe a bit darker than the 2005.

Plum/prune smell with a lot of oak and a minty note I didn't detect in the previous vintage.

Black cherry/plum fruit flavor, like the 2006 food-friendly with acid, oak taste only surfaces at the end along with that mint I smelled.

With another day of rest, the minty smell and flavor blows clean off.

While I continue to believe this is a good buy for $17.99, I understand it's changing distributors and that price and availability will change.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Tahbilk 2006 Victoria Viognier

Straw color, looks petillant.

Melon smell, orange peel, apple.

Bone-dry flavor, melon, grapefruit, orange, apple. Petillance barely detectable on the tongue. Alcohol noticeable in the warm finish.

Considering what Condrieu costs, many Viognier makers are happy with a nice serviceable wine, dry and fragrant, for $14.99, for example. I approve, but a bottle or two of Condrieu once a year isn't amiss.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Firriato 2005 Nero d'Avola Chiaramonte

I aerated this and let it rest for a day after opening. I think I'll make this my default practice for young reds, except perhaps for unoaked lightweight Beaujolais and such.

In February I posted notes on the Morgante 2006 Nero d'Avola and said I wanted to try more examples.

Medium-dark red color.

Plum/prune smell with a lot of oak.

Black cherry/plum fruit flavor, food-friendly with acid, oak taste only surfaces at the end.

Feels like a fair buy for $17.99. I like this considerably better than I did the Morgante.

This is my only bottle of 2005, but I have two of the 2006. Notes on that will soon follow.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chateau d'Orschwihr 2006 Alsace Riesling Bollenberg

For the last half-year or so, I've been buying almost exclusively from one big national online wine-seller. While not at all unhappy with them, I'm trying an online seller in my home state (free shipping!) with a very interesting selection but also some policies that'll mean slightly more bottles of fewer different wines. I'll see about turning that to an advantage.

While I'll always have a special appreciation for sweeter high Prädikat German Rieslings, I recognize that Alsatian vintners, too, can do impressive things with this wonderful grape.

Medium straw color.

Very full smell, green apple, melon, citrus, wildflowers, and minerals.

Tastes of Granny Smith apple, melon, little bit of grapefruit. Flint mixes with the fruit at the end, when a little bit of petillance also becomes apparent. It makes me recall many of my favorite Rieslings in years past.

Utterly dry fruity wine, plenty of flavor, a style less in fashion in Alsace in recent years. A pleasant surprise for $18.99. A promising introduction to wines recommended by my new seller.

The label indicates that residual sugar is 1.4g per liter. It's been noted that including this information on the label is new and useful and perhaps unique to Chateau d'Orschwihr. Lacking this information, sometimes it isn't clear if a wine on the shelf is dry or sweeter, particularly for Alsace, since both are common. The practice of such labeling deserves to be adopted by more winemakers in Alsace and elsewhere. (Chenin Blanc makers, I'm looking at you!)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dry Creek 2006 Clarksburg Dry Chenin Blanc

Pale straw color.

Smell of apple, melon, hint of pineapple.

Quite dry apple & melon flavors, petillance on the tongue that isn't expected from visual inspection. Tart sense of peach. Ripe, juicy fruit.

It opens with fruit that makes the mouth expect sweetness, but finishes dry. So unsweetly dry!

A fun bottle for $12.49, not remarkably different from the 2007.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dona Paula 2007 Lujan de Cuyo Mendoza Malbec

I aerated this and let it rest for a day after opening. My decanting procedure has changed a bit recently. A young red wine is poured into a clean 10-cup Melita manual coffee-maker, through the "cone" filter holder without any filter (an older wine which has considerable sediment or in which a perished cork has crumbled on opening gets a filter.) From there it's poured into another clean 10-cup Melita manual coffee-maker. It goes back and forth between the two until I'm tired when it's poured through a funnel back into the original bottle.

Appears opaque, purple/red at the rim.

Black cherry smell, oak, a bit of spearmint.

Tart plum flavor, peach, oak, a curious spearmint chewing gum note.

An interesting wine for $12.99. At some moments not entirely satisfying, at other moments I think I'm being overcritical, considering the price.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Clos de los Siete 2006 Mendoza

I aerated this and let it rest for a day after opening.

Near-opaque, purple and red at the rim.

Oak and stone fruit smell.

Substantial flavor, roast beef, plum, black cherry. Suffers from a shortage of acid.

A distinctly Argentine blend: 45% Malbec, 35% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah.

This was a good, not a great, wine. For $17.99, it was acceptable. A less full-bodied wine would have merited briefer aeration.

Per Hugh Johnson, Clos de los Siete is a group of seven vineyard parcels. I'm interested in their other blends, though some of the prices extend to the heights.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Vietti 2006 Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne

I aerated this after opening.

Dark red color, purple at the rim.

Plum and black cherry smells, oak.

Tart black cherry and sweet prune flavors, ripe peach, restrained touch of oak.

A nice bottle for $19.79. I'm coming to really appreciate Barbera. It's quite a revelation after thinking of ordinary Chianti as a representative Italian red.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pio Cesare 2005 Barbera d'Alba

Medium-dark red color.

Vanilliny oak dominates the smell, with cherry, plum, and peach.

The flavor, too, is splintery with oak, and here, too, stone-fruits lurk behind the trees.

Refreshing with tart acid. It's not an unpleasant bottle but for $19.99 I'd prefer more fruit, less wood.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Indaba 2007 Western Cape Chenin Blanc

Very pale straw color, visibly petillant.

Smell of grapefruit peel, apricot.

Quite dry, grapefruit, peach, quite petillant, long finish. Wonderful fun and the perfect solution to weariness for the too-buttery malolactic Chardonnay style.

Very satisfying, full-bodied dry white for $12.99. A bargain compared to most wine, a bit pricey compared to the Barton & Guestier 2007 Vouvray.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Peter Lehmann 2005 Barossa Shiraz

I aerated this after opening.

Dark purple/red color

First thought on smelling this is that it's a Cabernet clone, but, breathing deeper the distinct Syrah qualities become more apparent. Smells of cigar-box cedar, black cherry.

Tastes of plum, black cherry, black pepper, oak, perhaps a bit of bacon. A very enjoyable wine for $14.99. I think this'd suffer if not allowed a bit of air.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dry Creek 2007 Clarksburg Dry Chenin Blanc

Pale straw color.

Melon smell, citrus, trace of oak.

Bone-dry melon fruit, grapefruit, fruit flavors prominent.

A bargain for $12.49! While I greatly enjoy off-dry Chenin Blanc, I also find this absolutely dry style quite wonderful.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Giacosa Fratelli 2005 Barbera d'Alba Bussia

Near opaque dark red color.

Smell of prune, plum, and black cherry, with pencilbox cedar.

Black cherry and plum flavor, oak, long finish. Refreshingly tart.

An impressive, easily enjoyed, wine for $19.99.

(Bussia is a vineyard in Monforte d'Alba)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lindauer non-vintage Brut

My exploration of modestly-priced sparkling wine moves to the antipodes:

Golden straw color with very vigorous bubbles.

Smell of fresh-baked bread, grapefruit that's just missed quirting in your eye.

Fruity citrus flavor, toast, refreshing bitterness.

$14.99 for this new-world fizz represents a bargain worth repeating.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mulderbosch 2007 Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc Steen op Hout

Very pale straw color, slightly greenish.

Mild melon smell, citrus rind, spice.

Barely off-dry melon flavor, grapefruit, lime, pineapple. Very slightly petillant. Although gently cooled in a Vacu Vin "Rapid Ice Wine Chiller" sleeve rather than the refrigerator, this gained considerable flavor as it warmed in the glass and lost a trace of bitterness in the finish.

An exciting, entirely acceptable bottle, for $14.99. I find South African Chenin Blanc equal or better than anywhere else that grows it. I shall have to more fully investigate how US growers do.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Goats do Roam 2006 Coastal Region Rosé

Lighter than any red, but darker than any other Rosé I remember.

Full smell of raspberry, red cherry.

Red cherry flavor, strawberries, and raspberry, a little bit petillant. Full-bodied.

A bit simple, but entirely enjoyable celebration of fruit. When I began drinking wine, South Africa was the source of harsh grassy Sauvignon Blancs, innocuous Chenin Blancs, and nasty Pinotages. Things have improved considerably. This is a blend of Shiraz, Pinotage, Cinsaut, Grenache, Gamay and Merlot. Everybody in the pool!

At $13.49, I feel I made a good buy. Goats do Roam (Fairview) also makes Rhone-like red and white wines which I intend to sample.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Morgante 2006 Sicilia Nero d'Avola

I aerated this vigorously before drinking.

Medium dark red color.

Prune and black cherry smells, black pepper and oak.

Ripe black cherry flavor, plum, something spicy, maybe cinnamon?

Mostly harmless. Tangy acid makes it a nice accompaniment for a pasta/tomato/romano dinner.

For $16.99, I probably would not buy again, but I might seek out some more Nero d'Avola.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gruet non-vintage Brut Blanc de Noirs

Medium straw color with vigorous bubbles that raise a surprisingly persistent white head.

Toasty citrus smell, there's a scent of bread-dough.

Grapefruit flavor, toast, hints of oak stay in the background.

An entirely creditable sparkling wine for $15.99 that avoids the too-sweet character of many budget wines. I'm pleasantly surprised. I'd buy this again.

While this is "produced and bottled by Gruet Winery Albuquerque New Mexico," there's no indication that the grapes are from New Mexico or from any particular place. Perhaps they're from two non-contiguous states. If I remember, the wine label laws forbid naming those states.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Kanu 2006 Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc has long been grown in South Africa, commonly called Steen.

Pale straw color, hint of a greenish tint.

Peach smell, rather faint.

Fruity tart but dry flavor, peaches and pears, melon and grapefruit.

Not a bad bottle for $13.49, classy and subtle, but I could complain about insufficient concentration. I'll continue looking for other Chenin Blancs and have a few lined up for that purpose in the next month or so.

I contend that the only reason Chardonnay is a respected major white while Chenin Blanc is largely ignored is that it's so much fun to say (and to drink!) Pouilly-Fuissé.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

La Posta 2006 Mendoza Malbec Angel Paulucci Vineyard

Malbec is the grape of Cot, “the black wine of Cahors”, once widely used for illicitly darkening wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Rhone in vintages that warranted it. As Malbec, it became the informing grape of the Argentine red wine market.

I aerated this wine and let it settle for an hour before drinking.

Opaque, purple/red at the edges.

Raspberry smell, with plum and cherry, and oak.

Plum, prune, and black cherry flavors, ripe fruit balanced with plenty of acid, restrained used of oak.

I was pleasantly surprised with the wine and don't regret paying $17.99. I'll investigate Malbec further before buying this again, but I'm not greatly opposed to doing so.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Barton & Guestier 2007 Vouvray

Vouvray is a classic white from the Loire Valley made from the Chenin Blanc grape.

Pale yellow color, cloudy with near-microscopic bubbles.

Peach smell, beery on opening, apricot smell by the end.

Peach and apricot flavors, off-dry, grapefruit zest, slightly petillant. Forgive trendy wine-speak, but acid is lively.

Vouvray is also seen in bone dry and quite sweet versions. Knowing what's what before opening the bottle is often a challenge.

A wonderful bargain for $9.99. I've got a number of New World Chenin Blancs lined up to try, none as cheap as this bottle was.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Domaine Ste Michelle 1998 Columbia Valley Luxe

Pale golden color with small bubbles. Looks like nothing else so much as mass-market American lager, but raises less of a head.

That unsettling resemblance does not, thankfully, extend to the aroma, which is toasty citrus with distinct oak. As the glass warms, an appealing floral note emerges.

Oak's quite apparent in the flavor, it's the first thing to greet the palate. Afterwards, there's lemon and grapefruit, sweetness at the end. As the floral smell develops so do hints of peach and pears flavors.

The oak wants to be better integrated, as it is it stands too alone, too much what defines this wine.

I prefer the $14.99 Blanc de Noirs to this $19.99 bottling.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Altos de Luzon 2005 Jumilla

Dark purple/red color.

Smells of plum and cedar,

Wood dominates the flavor, less prominent are stone fruits and

The next day wood is still prominent, but plum and black cherry are more easily tasted.

The wine is 50% monastrell (mourvedre), 25% cabernet sauvignon, 25% tempranillo

At $15.99, this doesn't especially please me.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Zonte's Footstep 2006 Langhorne Creek Shiraz Viognier

Unlike my bottle of the 2004 vintage, this bottle has no top crust of sediment.

It is, though, again a very dark ruby color, quite clear.

Smell of plum, blackberry, and black pepper, with floral notes. Restrained use of oak.

The next day the wine is largely unchanged.

Australia makes many nice wines, but they seem to have a special affinity for Syrah.

$15.99 seems an entirely reasonable price, I wouldn't hesitate to buy again.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Marquis Philips 2006 South Eastern Australia Sarah's Blend

Extremely dark purple/red color.

Smell of plum and black cherry, oak and leather.

Ripe plum flavor, cherry and raspberry, maybe a tannic blueberry thing, oak.

The next day still a full-flavored fruity wine that has enough acid to agree with a pasta/tomato sauce dinner.

The wine is 48% Shiraz, 29% Cabernet, and 23% Merlot. It's a reasonable buy for $15.99, I'd consider buying again. I'd probably aerate it next time.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Domaine Ste Michelle non-vintage Columbia Valley Blanc de Noirs

Medium pale color, tinged pink.

Citrus smell with toast and peach.

Tart apples and peaches, cherries and pears.

Full-bodied, drier than some US fizz, complex enough to retain interest.

A good buy for $14.99, my exploration of New World sparkling wine will continue.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Castello Monaci 2007 Salento Primitivo Piluna

Deep ruby color.

Smell of plum, black cherry, leather, oak.

Bitter tones in the stone-fruit flavor, oak builds to finish.

The next day still a pleasant, impressive, fruit-bomb. Global warming, you are my friend, and Primitivo much benefits from it's journey as Zinfandel.

A fair buy for $14.49, but I'm not inclined to buy again.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cline 2006 California Zinfandel Ancient Vines

Dark red/purple color.

Prominent oak smell atop plum/black cherry.

Tart dark stone fruit with no shortage of oak.

The next day the fruit remains present if muffled by wood and plenty of it.

Overall, a fun fruity wine with deep flavor, $15.99 seems about right, but I probably won't repeat this. I'm a little leery of a claim like "Ancient Vines" from a bottle without a more precise American Viticultural Area labeling, but the wine is quite nice.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bodegas Castano 2005 Yecla Solanera Vinas Viejas

I began by aerating this.

Opaque black/purple/red color.

Smell of oak predominates.

Oak nearly overwhelms stone fruit flavors.

The next day any charm this wine might have remains hidden.

This is a blend of 65% Monastrel (Mourvedre), 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Tintorera.

$13.49 represents no bargain. I'm displeased.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Domaine Ste Michelle non-vintage Columbia Valley Spumante Frizzante

Very pale color, vigorous small bubbles.

Floral pear smells.

Sweet pear nectar, apple juice.

The overriding characteristic here is sweetness. Clearly this is mean to emulate an Italian Asti Spumante and it does so creditably. To lien it to a Champagne, think Sec or Demi-Sec.

A pleasant enough sweeter $14.99 fizz. Not really to my taste, but I didn't feel the need to dump it. Not buying again, though. In fact, I didn't need to resort to the rough-and-ready mimosas with which I finish many bottles of New World Sparklers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bodegas Castano 2005 Hecula Yecla Monastrell

When I tasted the 2004 vintage my feelings were generally positive but I promised to "let it breathe a bit next time", so this time I made like a mad scientist and funneled back and forth between the bottle and a carafe.

Near-opaque dark red/purple.

Smell of black cherry and plum, oak and leather.

Tastes of stone fruit and oak / vanilla. Well-balanced tannins.

The next day still big fruit over oak and leather.

This vintage, like last year, is a full-bodied fruity Spanish red. Breathing the bottle, and laughing like a mad scientist while doing so, was a positive. I haven't yet quite figured out how best to determine if an unfamiliar red will benefit from aeration. I must ponder.

Reasonably-priced at $13.49. Nyah-ah-ah!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Yalumba 2007 South Australia Viognier

Pale greenish straw color.

Floral smell with peaches.

Tastes like the juice from a can of peaches, but drier. Nice concentration!

This is one of the nicest Viogniers I've had. For $10.99 it compares favorably with a $50 Condrieu. I'd happily, nay, gleefully buy it again.

Like Viognier in general, I find this benefits from serving at warmer-than-refrigerator temperature. They go quite bland when too cold.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Concannon 2005 Central Coast Petite Sirah Limited Release

Very dark purple/red color. One of the most commonly-used adjectives for Petite Sirah is "tooth-staining" and it seems quite believable when viewing this wine.

Rather closed nose, aromas of black cherry and herbs.

Black cherry, berry and plum flavors, little bit of oak.

The next day the nose is a bit more open, I'd add oak to more obvious fruit smells. The oak flavor is a bit stronger as are tannins, there's something like a strong cup of tea in the finish.

Fruity and appealing, I don't regret paying $13.49.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Domaine Ste Michelle non-vintage Columbia Valley Blanc de Blancs

I've recently sampled a range of sparkling wines from California. Tonight, I begin tasting examples from Washington state.

Pale straw color, small vigorous bubbles.

Green apple smell, bread dough notes.

Ripe canned pears, apples, hints of peach.

This is noticeably sweeter than a brut Champagne would be but I'm learning to appreciate New World sparklers for what they are and criticize them only for what's wrong, not for how they compare to something else. With that in mind, this is a nice chardonnay-based wine, but the delicacy that could be there is lessened somewhat by the high dosage. For $17.99, it's a bargain.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Kumeu River Village 2004 Kumeu Pinot Noir

As pale as a red/orange wine can be and still be distinctly not a Rosé. Just a bit darker than Schumaker-era Ferrari red.

Black cherry smell with leather, maybe freshly-turned loam.

Black cherry flavor with pleasant but (I find it) difficult to characterize organics.

Simple but satisfying, smells and tastes better than it looks. Not a great buy for $16.99 but not a terrible one either.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Francis Coppola 2007 California Blanc de Blancs Sofia

Unusual presentation: no cap over cork, the bottle wrapped in pink cellophane.

Pale straw color, small bubbles.

Floral smell, green apples.

Tangy green apple flavor, melon, dry to a fault. Thin.

The grapes used are unusual for fizz: Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscat.

A unique wine. meant, I think, for feminine customers. For $19.29, I won't buy again.

A disappointment since my favorite person is named Sophia, but this doesn't remind me of her.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Brancott 2007 South Island Pinot Noir

Medium ruby color.

Black cherry and red raspberry smells.

Tart cherry and raspberry flavors. Moderate oak.

Pleasant but undistinguished. For $15.79, I expect better.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Scharffenberger non-vintage Brut

Pale straw color, vigorous bubbles, small and fine.

Fresh clean citrus smell, restrained hints of toast.

Grapefruit flavor, no excessive sweetness. Simple and pleasant, citrus flavors and smells dominate.

This is one of my favorite New World sparklers to date. What I most like about it, I think, is the clean expression of balance of pinot noir and chardonnay without including so much sugar that "Brut" would seem a lie. I think $19.99 is a fair price, all things considered.

Happy New Year!