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Tasting Notes

We’ll add tasting notes as we go through interesting or new bottles or attend an event which brings opportunity for tasting new wines.  These will be, of course, personal opinions of myself, my lovely wife or an occasional guest taster.  We’ll try to include a general price point for the wine either at retail or at the winery.  Value is a word we’ll use a lot – it is a very personal measure of worth and really how most of us buy.  We have different things that make up our personal value equations, so prepare to disagree!  Some info on how we rate wines is here.

 

Wines from Dinner at Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro, Patriot Place

2010 Volver Tempranillo (La Mancha, Spain) – 15% alcohol and a little hot for me, but Cheri loves these high alcohol big boys and this was no exception.  It was excellent with the steak.

2011 Zerran Garnacha (Catalonia, Spain) – the best of the night.  This is big and lush with deep, dark fruits and some pepper on the finish.  Long and full bodied, Cheri had requested I buy her some of this!

2010 Domaine Skouras “St. George Nemea” Agiorgitiko (say that 3 times fast!).  This is from Argos, Greece and is very unusual.  There is a candied fruit quality to it but it is not over the top.  It’s vibrant ruby red with medium body and a long, complex finish.  You haven’t likely had anything exactly like this before.

2010 Chateau Haut-Montplaisir Malbec (Cahors, France) – medium bodied and very long, there are some restrained but nice fruits, and I get a little plum.  It does have a good mouthfeel and despite not being full bodied it feels pretty big.  I liked it, but didn’t love it.

2011 Guenoc Petite Sirah (Lake County, California) – not sure why this is served in a wine flight called “The Big Boys”, as it is quite light in body and overall impression.  Some reddish type fruits on the nose and palate, however the flavors die out very quickly and this has no length.  Not much here and we were not impressed.  I would avoid this one.

2009 Tarima Hills Monastrell (Jumilla, Spain) – This is big, unlike the previous wine.  It has lots of dark fruits in the glass and on your palate, and it keeps giving.  Very long.  This is delicious and a keeper.

For the most part the wines at Tastings that we tried were good.  The exception was the Petite Sirah (which is unusual because we rarely try a bad Petite Sirah, or one this light).  The Malbec was OK.  I’d buy the three Spanish wines everyday depending on price.  The Greek wine I would buy as well, but it’s not something I want to drink often.  This was a fun little tasting.

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Here are two wines which provided some drinking pleasure over the last week.  They both represent value, although I dare say one is a bit more in that category when you consider what we paid for it.  Yes, we scored another ridiculous value at the Kingstown Liquor Mart.  It’s rather dangerous that the store is on the way home during my afternoon commute.  Doesn’t help that their single malt scotch selection is excellent as well.  Anyway, those are my problems.  To the wines!

CIMG1854Wine:   Thomas Goss Cabernet Sauvignon   Winery Location: McClaren Vale, Australia

Tasted By:    Neil & Cheri                                     Date:     June 2013

Tasting Notes:      This is seriously good wine.  Dark, dark purply red out of the bottle with some reddish hue at the rim.  It has gobs of glycerol that slowly rolls down the glass side.  On the nose there are dark fruits, and some complex nuances.  Lots going on here.  You also get a hint that the alcohol content is on the high side (it’s actually 14.5%, so not over the top but pretty beefy).  On the palate lots more dark fruit, which coats the mouth fairly well.  Medium+ in body it hits all the points, with a blast of fruit that deepens and goes on and on. This is really, really, really long.

Price Point –    we paid $13, which is highway robbery on my part.  Saw it for $20 on wine-searcher, and I wouldn’t be upset at all if I had paid that.

Would We Buy It? –   without question, this is a fantastic $13 bottle.

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CIMG1858Wine:  2011 Concha Y Toro Casillero del Diablo Malbec

Winery Location:   Chile

Tasted By:        Neil & Cheri            Date:     June 2013

Tasting Notes:       A nice, hearty red here, deep purply red in the glass with a nose of dark fruit with evident wood and a little bit of smoky meat as an undertone.  There is smokey oak on the palate mixing with the dark fruit.  It’s medium+ in body with good length.  I would use the word ‘hearty’ in describing this.  It just screams to be paired with red meat off the grill.  This line by Concha y Toro is always a sure bet for a pretty good bottle of wine at a reasonable price.  Years ago when they first introduced it we tried the carmenere and thought it was excellent.  So much so that due to its $4 price tag I bought four cases.  While you can’t get it for that price anymore it’s still good.

Price Point –    $9

Would We Buy It? –   Yes.  This is always a good bet for a good value and pretty good wine.  We like the malbec, the cab and the carmenere,  All generally under $10.

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This week for your consideration there are two Cabernets, and both are worthy of buying.  They’ll come in at different price points, and they are of different quality, but both are good and likely to get better.  Here they are:

CIMG1691Wine:    2010 Marques de Casa Concha Cabernet Sauvignon        Winery Location:   Chile

Tasted By:      Neil and Cheri                              Date:     June 2013

Tasting Notes:       Deep purple/red in the glass and almost opaque.  It has tons of glycerol.  The aromas immediately are somewhat reserved, with restrained black fruit that seems like there is a veil over a well of deeper fruit.  Once it’s in your mouth it’s the same story.  It’s full bodied, there is some tannin that is pretty well integrated but not quite there yet.  It’s long.  The fruit is there on the palate, but not quite what seems should be there, and the structure is present for some aging.  This seems closed down to me, a very good wine that is going to get a lot better in the bottle over the next few years.  While it is plenty good enough to drink now I would put it down for a year or two.  It’s good.  We’ve had many vintages of Marques de Casa Concha wines and they are always delicious.  This is a go to wine that generally doesn’t disappoint.

Price Point –    We paid $14 on sale, and it is a great value there.  Expect more like $17,and then it is still worth it.

Would We Buy It?    Yes, we have many times and will again.  If you are looking for a good bottle of Cabernet or Merlot in the $15-$20 range Marques de Casa Concha is a good choice.  It might not be the absolutely best bottle in this range, but it is always reasonable value.

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CIMG1715Wine:    2006 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon         Winery Location:   Napa

Tasted By:        Neil and Cheri                                         Date:   June, 2013

Tasting Notes:       Deep, deep red in the glass, there is an expressive nose of dark fruit.  The aromas are quite intense.  On the palate there is mouth coating fruit.  Classic cabernet flavors permeate.  Very, very long it is still somewhat tannic, and will still get better with age.  This has significant life yet, and I would imagine that it’s peak if 4-5 years away.  Still, right now it is just yummy if you like big Cabs, and we love big Cabs.  Tough to go wrong with this.  Still have one bottle left in the cellar and might have to replenish the stock.

Price Point –    $25 – $30 on wine-searcher.  We paid $22 on sale.

Would We Buy It?    Absolutely.  This is really good cabernet and will hold up to very hearty foods as well as anyone’s palate that likes bold red wine.   This has a sentimental value for us as this bottle was what I ordered at my 50th birthday dinner, but either way it is just good.

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A few wines were consumed in May, and we’ll review two of them here.  One is a sort of go to Rioja that sort of disappointed.  The other is a low cost everyday value wine.  The Rioja was pretty inexpensive as well, but it is not very good and therefore not a good value.  Here they are:

Wine:        LAN Rioja 2008                                 Winery Location:   Spain

CIMG1686Tasted By:    Neil & Cheri                                    Date:     May 2013

Tasting Notes:       This is deep red out of the bottle with an expressive nose of reddish fruit.  The palate has lots of fruit initially as well, but the depth isn’t there.  It thins out quickly on the mid-palate and doesn’t finish strong.  No complexity.  So this is a quaffable red which could pass as a Zin blend.  That means we don’t like it very much.  There are a lot of better options out there.

Price Point –    About $11, pretty inexpensive for a Rioja Crianza.  This just doesn’t have a lot going on, and we’ve had LAN crianzas from other vintages that do.

Would We Buy It?    No.  We were not impressed.  If you want a good entry level Rioja try the Montabuena that’s on the value list.

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Wine:   2010 Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon            Winery Location:   California

CIMG1693Tasted By:      Neil & Cheri                                                         Date:     May 2013

Tasting Notes:       Dark purple/red in the glass, this has some nice dark fruit aromas and presents as medium to full bodied.  It has a nice mouth feel to it, and there are good fruit flavors here as well as some complexity.  Maybe a little smoke on the initial taste as well.  You can add pretty good length to the list.  All in all this is a nice bottle for the money and a good everyday wine.  This is a winner.

Price Point –    About $9, probably a little less at some places.

Would We Buy It?    Yes.  This is pretty good.  If it was $6-$7 it would be on the Value List.  At $9 it is a decent value, just not exceptional.  If you find it on sale for less then I would definitely buy a few.

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Two more wines tried here, and two more reviewed.  One is another of the 2003 Bordeaux from the cellar, and while good this did not overwhelm me.  The other is a very good everyday kind of wine, and every vintage of it we have tried has been worth buying.  Here they are:

Wine:    2003 Chateau Lagrange                     Winery Location:  Bordeaux

CIMG1680Tasted By:     Neil                                                  Date:    May 2013

Tasting Notes:       Deep purple red.  Some fruit on the nose but this is restrained.  It’s got classic left bank cabernet flavors, but is somewhat tight.  It’s tannic still out of the bottle and a little closed down.  The overall impression is it still needs more time.  There is good fruit, and it has excellent length.  If you want to drink it now then decant it for an hour.  This is not the best showing of the 2003 Bordeaux we have opened, falling far short of the Faugeres and Meyney.

Price Point –    It was about $35 as a future, about $45 now.

Would We Buy It?    Probably not at $45.  This is not the best of the excellent 2003 Bordeaux we have tried over the past year.  There are better deals for drinking now.  See the 2003 Chateau Faugeres.

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Wine:        2011 Josh Cabernet                          Winery Location:   California

CIMG1682Tasted By:       Neil & Cheri                                 Date:     May 2013

Tasting Notes:       This is deep purple/red out of the bottle.  We have a fruit bomb on our hands here, and it is really juicy.  There are tons of fruit on both the  nose and palate.  After a few hours it opened more and deepened a bit, exhibiting more complexity and classic cabernet flavors.  It is almost full bodied and has good length.

Price Point –    $10.50 locally.

Would We Buy It?    We would definitely buy this.  At $10.50 this is a really good value.   Overall a yummy cabernet and something we’ll add to the value list.

There you have it – a yummy young cab and a less than stellar (but still good) older Bordeaux.  We’d buy the young cab.  We’d buy other 2003 Bordeaux before we buy the Lagrange.

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Here are two new wines we tried recently.  One is a very nice Ventoux and the other a good Meritage from Sonoma.  They’re both worth buying, but one to me is clearly superior for the money, and they both cost the same so it’s an easy comparison.

The wines: note there is no picture of the first one, because sometimes we drink it first and forget!

Wine:       2010 Domaine Vindemio                Winery Location:   Cotes du Ventoux

Tasted By:     Neil & Cheri                                  Date:     April 2013

Tasting Notes:       This is deep purple/red in the glass.  There is a very expressive nose of dark fruit.  On the palate the wine is full bodied with lots of fruit as well as some tannins.  This is really yummy.  It is juicy but has some depth and complexity as well.

Price Point –   We paid $13

Would We Buy It?    Yes.  This is really yummy and well worth the money.  Highly recommended.

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Wine:   2010 Lyeth Meritage                            Winery Location:   Sonoma

Tasted By:    Neil & Cheri                                    Date:     April 2013

Tasting Notes:       Vibrant purple in the glass – it looks like it’s going to be a juicy fruit bomb.  There is good fruit on the nose, and also on the palate.  I got bacon fat as well, so there is some complexity here.  There is also some acid, not out of balance but unmistakeable.  All in all this is very good, but probably would smooth out after some time.  We didn’t give it much of a chance!

Price Point –    $13 on wine-searcher

Would We Buy It?    Yes.  This is really good.  If I had to pick one I would go for the Ventoux, but the Lyeth is probably easier to find.  Also recommended.

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Here are three new wines for consideration.  Two California cabs (lower priced) and a Rosso di Montalcino from Tuscany.  While I hate to play the spoiler this particular Rosso fell far short of normal expectations.  The cabs were good though, and represent value at their respective price points.  The wines:

CIMG1620

Wine:      2007 Casanuova Rosso di Montalcino     Winery Location:  Tuscany

Tasted By:        Neil and Cheri                                         Date:     March 2013

Tasting Notes:       Very, very disappointing.  Rosso di Montalcino is usually one of my go to reds, and I find them to be some of the easiest drinking reds on the planet.  This is not.  It’s ruby red with a tinge of amber.  A red fruit and rasberry nose leads to a tart, fruity palate that almost has a fizzy quality to it.  It’s lighter in body than most Rosso.  To really sum it up I paid $10 for it (very cheap for Rosso) and do not consider it being worth the price.  This is not very good at all.

Price Point –    $10 on sale.  $22 original retail.

Would We Buy It?    Absolutely not.  Do not consider it a good value at $10, and would have been pretty miffed if I had paid $22.  Let this one go if you ever see it.

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CIMG1625

Wine:     2010 CK Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon      Winery Location:   California

Tasted By:        Neil and Cheri                                           Date:     April 2013

Tasting Notes:      Now here is a pleasant surprise.  I haven’t had a bottle of CK Mondavi in years, and remember it as a rather mediocre wine not worth a dime more than it’s modest price point.  This is worth considerably more than its modest price point.  It’s deep garnet in color with nice fruit on the nose.  Cherry and berries come across.  Medium bodied, it has some length and you can definitely taste the light oak, but it is pleasant.  Very good for the money, this is a potential everyday case buy.

Price Point –    $4.50 locally.

Would We Buy It?    Absolutely.  I’ll probably pick up a case to mix in with our everyday wines.  I was not expecting this to be nearly as good as it was.  It drinks more like a $10-$12 wine.

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CIMG1626Wine:  2010 Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon        Winery Location:   Paso Robles

Tasted By:    Neil and Cheri                                                    Date:     April 2013

Tasting Notes:       This is really a little fruit bomb.  If you like juicy, jammy wines you will probably like this, I know I did.  Brilliant purple/red in the glass this has a vibrant nose of red and black fruit.  Gobs of fruit on the palate, with good length.  There’s some tannin running around there too, so this will last a while and might gain a little complexity with some bottle age.  That will be hard to wait for though, this is really tasty.  Nicely done.

Price Point –    $11 locally.

Would We Buy It?    Yes, I will definitely buy more of this.  It’s a tasty fruit bomb with great fruit.  A very good value for the money.

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Wine:    2009 Casajus Ribero del Duero       Winery Location:   Spain

Tasted By:       Neil & Cheri                                 Date:     March 2013

Tasting Notes:       Dark red/purple in the glass, it has some nice fruit flavors but seems restrained out of the gate.  On the palate it is a bit tight, with a core of fruit that seems to be hanging back.  This gets better with some air time, and was much better the second day as it opened up.  Dark fruits from the Tempranillo.  All in all this is good, but it’s not great.  It won’t be making the value list.

Price Point –    About $17

Would We Buy It?    Probably not.  We liked it, but not as much as some wines that are less expensive.  I’d certainly rather drink the Smith Cabernet at around the same price.  There are four or five wines less than $10 I can think of as well.  The Buehler, 2010 Cabernet will be a future review, and that is way better at around the same price.

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Wine:    2003 La Tour Carnet                            Winery Location:   Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux

Tasted By:   Neil & Cheri                                     Date:     March 2013

Tasting Notes:       This is exactly why I love Bordeaux in great vintages.  This is an excellent wine.  La Tour Carnet is a Quatrièmes Crus (Fourth Growth) in the classification of Bordeaux.  It can be had for less than $40 generally at release, and this cost me about $30 as a 2003 future.  I’ve popped open a few 2003 Bordeaux recently and they are drinking fabulously.  The wine is deep purple with a big nose of dark fruit.  The palate has mouth coating, big fruit flavors.  There is enough tannin there to let this age gracefully for years to come, but it is so delicious now.  Long, long finish.  This got scores that averaged about 88/100.  That’s crazy and far too low.

Price Point –    You can still find this under $40.

Tasting at Vintner’s Cellar Winery in North Conway

Just off Route 16, or the White Mountain Highway, in downtown North Conway is Vintner’s Cellar.  It’s set back from the road down a little alley, so you have to look for it.  It’s on the same side as the train station, between that and the rock shop.  This is definitely worth stopping in.

They do small batch wines, from juice and concentrate.  While that may not sound too exotic I suggest you try growing Cabernet Sauvignon in the White Mountains before you dismiss it.  And really, you will be hard pressed to find such a wide assortment of grape varietals turned into wine at any other establishment. They do everything here.  Whites, reds, fruit infused, clean, wood, you name it.  They also will help you design your own wine and then make it for you, which would be really cool for a function.  I personally prefer the double magnum of 2004 Brunello we opened at my daughter’s wedding, but I didn’t have 200 people to deal with.  So, onto the wines.

This is what we tried.  They had more, a lot more.  So many here that they even have a hard time keeping up with them.  What’s on the tasting menu might not actually be what’s available for sale.  The labels fly fast and furious as well.  To be fair, some of these are pretty similar in style, but there are nuances and some really tasty wines.

Chardonnay – lightly oaked, this had a nice fruity nose and some fruit on the palate.  The flavors were a bit underdeveloped though, and I was not overwhelmed.  This we did not buy and would not.

Reisling (that’s how they spell it)- Excellent Riesling all around.  Pear, citrus flavors and off dry.  Some length here as well and the aftertaste was smooth.  Overall very yummy, and we brought some of this home.  Alex loved it.

Merlot – light to medium bodied.  This was complex, with subtle oak and good length.  It had pretty classic Merlot flavors and was quite good.  We didn’t buy it, but it was good and worth considering.

Vieux Chateau du Roi – this is a pretty classic red blend.  Red fruit on the nose and palate leads to a rather long finish.  It’s not really dry either, with just a touch of residual sugar.  Overall this is pretty good and we bought a bottle.

Valpolicella – who would have thought they’d be making good Valpolicella in North Conway.  Not me, that’s for sure.  But they do.  This is pretty classic in flavor, on the lighter side but not unlike many Valpolicellas I’ve had.  Nice fruit, good length, and tastes like a quality wine.  We bought this as well.

French Cabernet – this was pretty light bodied, and had the tiniest bit of tannin in the background.  With decent length it was good, but just too light for my taste.  It’s a blend of several of their Cabernets.  I wonder how many they have?

Malbec – this is a winner, and is probably the most complex of the wines we tasted here.  It has spice, with light oak and really good length.  We bought a couple of these for the cellar.

Cabernet/Shiraz – another winner.  This was light to medium bodied, had good fruit and a little spice.  This was also complex, but just a teeny bit beneath the Malbec.  We bought this as well.

Trinity Red – a Bordeaux style blend of Cab Franc, Cab Sauvignon and Merlot.  Pretty light in body it has some good flavors.  For the price you can buy a bottle of Cru Bourgeois from Bordeaux that will be better and y0u can drink the real thing.  Far too light for me.

New Zealand Pinot Noir – halfway around the world now.  This was also light bodied, and also a little bitter with very restrained fruit.  This to me is a miss.  I did not like it.

Australian Cab – this also did not work for me – maybe it’s a thing with the juice from that area.  This almost had a fizzy quality to it.  There were none of the classic cabernet flavors.  It wasn’t unpleasant, but I wouldn’t buy it.

Nebbiolo – wasn’t expecting this, but here it is.  Unfortunately it really doesn’t come across as Nebbiolo.  It’s light, and that’s not a crime, but it just doesn’t taste like Nebbiolo,and Nebbiolo has a pretty distinctive flavor profile.  It says Nebbiolo, but don’t try it and think this is what that variety is supposed to be like.  Not a keeper, although it is a pleasant wine in its own right.

That’s it, as if it isn’t enough.  We essentially went around the world of wine in one small winery in the mountains of New England.  Crazy isn’t it?  I wanted to ask them where the rioja blend and the carmenere were, but they probably would have pulled one out of a closet somewhere.

This was fun.  You should go if you’re in the area.  And by the way, the wines are good.

Particulars:

Vintner’s Wine Cellar

Physical Address: 2724 White Mountain Highway Tarberry Building
North Conway Village, NH
GPS Coordinates: N44.01.801′ W071.07.128′
Mailing Address: PO Box 5002-202
North Conway, NH 03860
Phone: 603-356-WINE (9463)
Email: winemaker2@myfairpoint.net
Website: www.mwvwine.com

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Wines of the Week, Feb 15-16, 2013

This week two new wines, and we’ll be sticking with Cabernet Sauvignon this time.  One was very good and pretty appropriately priced, the other had very little to offer and got a resounding thumbs down from both Cheri and myself.  here they are:

Wine:    2010 Chateau Smith Cab Sauv          Winery Location:   Washington State

Tasted By:       Neil & Cheri                                 Date:     Feb 16-17, 2013

Tasting Notes:       This is a very classy and elegant Cabernet Sauvignon.  It reminds me of a Chateau Montelena Cab we had a couple of years ago at the Newport Wine Festival (which we don’t recommend by the way, and which should never be confused with the Newport Mansions Food and Wine Festival – which we heartily recommend).  This Chateau Smith is deep red/purple with dark fruits on the nose out of the bottle.  Those dark fruits carry to the palate.  Almost full bodied, it finished very long.  This is classic cabernet, done is a more reserved style.  Theres some tannin and this will age quite nicely for a while I would think.   We can’t tell you how it evolved over a day in the bottle because we drank it all up!  We’ll get another one and decant it for an hour and report back on that.  This is quite good, as Charles Smith’s wines usually are.

Price Point –    $17 locally

Would We Buy It?    Yes.  We always like Charles Smith’s wines, whether it’s the in your face Boom Boom Shiraz or this elegant and restrained cabernet.  We think it’s good value for a wine of this quality.

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Wine:    2011 Line 39 Cab Sauv                        Winery Location:   Central Coast, CA

Tasted By:  Neil & Cheri                                     Date:  Feb 16-17, 2013   

Tasting Notes:       This is deep red out of the bottle with a very restrained nose.  The initial palate has some fruit and starts with some classic cabernet flavors.  That’s it.  Then it disappears.  Nothing on the mid-palate.  No finish.  No length. Extremely unimpressive and not worth drinking at any price point.  From the bottle label:

“…special bottling..”, “…expressive and approachable…”, “…rich with black chery aromas and beautifully rounded by flavors of luscious dark chocolate and ripe plum…”.

To borrow a phrase from an earlier post, are you kidding me?  This wine is dead, and they use terms like luscious, ripe and expressive.  They were obviously drinking something else and got confused.

To be fair – we capped the bottle and returned to it the next day.  Maybe it needed some air.  Nope.  Same thing exactly, which is easy to remember because it was nothing.

It’s possible it’s completely closed down and will live another day.  I tend to doubt it.

Price Point –    $10.50 locally.

Would We Buy It?    Nope.  Never.  Don’t you either.

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There you have it.  One up and one down, but the down was one of the poorest bottles we’ve opened in years.  The Chateau Smith was certainly worth the shot however.

A votre sante!

Wines to Blizzard By – Feb 8-10, 2013

I remember well the Blizzard of 1978.  I was in high school, and without the sophisticated computer models we have now the blizzard caught everyone by surprise.  It started snowing and never stopped.  Let out early from school we managed to get home four hours later after quite an ordeal.  School was cancelled for a week.  I couldn’t drink wine back then, and since my parents are teetotalers there wasn’t any in the house anyway.  Fortunately this time was different.  Not the snowfall, which is about as much as in 1978, but certainly the amount of wine concerned.

A very different variety here, with the classy Mount Veeder Reserve Cabernet, an out of the ordinary Grenache and a quite yummy dessert wine made in a garage in Coventry, Rhode Island.  We have a little something for everyone.  We’ll start with the Cabernet:

Wine:   2007 Mount Veeder Reserve Cabernet     Winery Location:  Napa

Tasted By:          Neil & Cheri                                                      Date:     Feb 2013 Blizzard

Tasting Notes:       This is a very refined and complex Cabernet.  At first sip you know you’re drinking something expensive.  Carrying 14.5% alcohol effortlessly, you get nuances of various fruit, some spice and some oak.  This spent 20 months in new french oak, but it is not heavy at all.  While it is full bodied and rich, it doesn’t hit you in the face.  Again, the word I would use is refined.  This is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec, 5% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot.  It tastes like a really good claret.  Classy and excellent.  Not, however, cheap.  Cheri loved it as well.

Price Point –    We paid $36.95 on sale – getting up toward our point of pain.  I would not open one of these frequently.  At the winery the list price is $80 retail, so this is a pricey bottle normally.  At the $36 point I think it is fair value, maybe better than that considering what Napa Reserve bottlings usually go for.  At $80 I’m not sure.

Would We Buy It?    At $36-$40 yes.  This is a good occasion wine.  At $80 we’re not buying, for one because that is just higher than we can really afford on a single bottle (not a large format bottle mind you), and second because we don’t think it is worth that much.  It’s quite good, but there are other wines we’ve had for less that are in the same quality range.

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Wine:    Betts & Scholl “the o.g. grenache 2008″    Winery Location:  Australia, Barrosa Valley

Tasted By:      Neil &  Cheri                                              Date:     Feb 2013 Blizzard

Tasting Notes:       Cindi Lauper would like this because this wine, well, she’s just so unusual.  This doesn’t look like grenache, either American Grenache, French grenache or grenache blends, or Spanish garnacha.  It doesn’t taste like any of those either.  It is just so unusual.  Lighter pinky red in color and translucent, it kind of glows in the glass. The nose is somewhat perfumed, with some ripe, red fruit.  On the palate you get the same, with some nice acidity.  I almost want to say citrus as well.  It comes across kind of like a blend of normal grenache, vidal and a little pinot noir. Strangely enough, it all works somehow.  We both like it.  It’s also pretty full bodied in a (you guessed it) unusual kind of way and it has god length.  Try it for something different and new.

Price Point –    $18 at Zachy’s Wine, which is about what we paid for it.

Would We Buy It?    Yes, actually.  This is different and fun, and quite delicious.  It is not your classic red, and isn’t that fun every now and then?

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Wine:       2008 Shelalara Vidal Glacier Ambrosia        Winery Location:   Coventry, Rhode Island

Tasted By:     Neil, Cheri and Alex                                       Date:     Feb 2013 Blizzard

Tasting Notes:       This is a fairly typical ice wine, with some nice honey sweetness and ripe fruit.  It is somewhat like a more sweet tawny port.  Very pleasing with a long finish.  The grapes were frozen after harvest and the wine finished with a Brix 15.5 residual sugar level.  It’s good.  Most of the local wineries in New England make an ice wine.

Price Point –    This was about $25 for a 375ml bottle.

Would We Buy It?    maybe, the next time we visit the winery.  We like to have a bottle or two of dessert wine in the house.  Other than port, that is.  We always have a bottle or twenty of vintage port lying about.  I wouldn’t make a special trip for it and would just as likely substitute another winery’s ice wine.  But since we’re talking about ice wine, Shelalara makes some wine smoothies that are really good and worth the trip.

A votre sante!

Wines of the Week, Feb 2-3, 2013

Another week, another wine or two.  This week we went to the cellar and pulled a couple of favorites.  One is an excellent Toro from Spain an the other an equally excellent, in fact even better, Rioja – also from Spain.  It seems it was a Spanish week in Rhode Island.  Habla Espanol?

Here are the wines and the tasting notes:

Wine:    2007 Numanthia Termes                   Winery Location:    Spain

Tasted By:      Neil & Cheri                                  Date:     Feb 2, 2013

Tasting Notes:      This is a very good wine.  Numanthia is in the Toro region in Spain and produces three wines.  This is their lower end product.  The Numanthia and Termanthia command higher prices and get great ratings.  The estate  describes their higher end lines as powerful and the “treasure of Toro”.  They describe this wine as “fruity and vibrant”.  I’d like to taste their flagship wines because if this is fruity and vibrant the other ones must be powerhouses.

The Termes is dark purple/black.  There is a big nose of black fruit with tons of fruit on the palate.  I got some distinct blueberry at the end.  It is full bodied and finished very long.  The tannins are sweet and smoothly integrated.  This is a classy bottle of wine.  If you like Spanish Tempranillo based wine you’ll like this.  Very nice indeed.

Price Point –    We paid about $20 on sale a few years ago.  More like $30-$40 now.  The Termanthia checks in at around $150, so try this one for a taste of the Numanthia estate.

Would We Buy It?    Yes.  If we could find it around $25 again we would definitely add a few more bottles to the cellar.  This is in the once or twice a month price category.  We’re down to one bottle (much sadness).

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Wine:     2004 Marques de Murietta Rioja Reserva       Winery Location:   Spain, Rioja

Tasted By:       Neil & Cheri                                                       Date:     Feb 3, 2013

Tasting Notes:       We love Rioja, and consider it to be on of the most consistently outstanding wine regions.  We’ve had many good ones over the years, and this is no exception.  We originally had this at a restaurant on Cape Cod and subsequently bought a case.  It was about $17 a bottle, and represented good value.  It has improved over time, and we just drank our last bottle.  This is really good stuff right now.

Deep red in the glass, the nose is complex, with some floral hints and some meaty undertones.  The palate is even more complex.  We got buttered popcorn, peppermint patty (Cheri  – I couldn’t taste it), balsamic vinegar and braised beef.  I pulled more distinct flavors out of this than I usually get in a case of different wines.  It was very long and full bodied.  The tannins are smooth but still present, and this has a long life ahead of it yet.  Really, really good stuff.  Just reinforces my impression of Rioja.

Price Point –    We paid $17 years ago.  Could not find the 2004 on wine-searcher, just a 2007 Reserva for $28.  If you stumble on this somewhere – buy it.

Would We Buy It?    As much as I could find.  In the once or twice a week or once or twice a month price range, doesn’t matter.  This is serious wine.

Wines of the Week, Jan 25&26, 2013

This week we popped three wines, two inexpensive values and a very yummy California Cabernet.  All are worth buying in my opinion, but Cheri does not necessarily agree on one of them.  You’ll have to make our own judgement.  Anyway, here they are:

Wine:   2011 Terra Andina Cabernet           Winery Location:   Chile

Tasted By:        Neil & Cheri                                  Date:     Jan 25, 2013

Tasting Notes:       Dark fruit on the nose and palate.  This is full bodied, with rich and round, bold cabernet flavors, so the label does not lie.  Really crafted to drink right now.  It is very yummy and a steal.

Price Point –    $6.99 on sale!

Would We Buy It?    Absolutely.  We both loved this, especially for the $$.  This is certainly a case candidate.  Will make a great everyday wine.

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Wine:    2007 Hidden Cellars Petite Sirah        Winery Location:   Mendocino, CA

Tasted By:     Neil & Cheri                                              Date:    Jan 26, 2013 

Tasting Notes:       Dark fruits on the nose and the palate.  This is a touch austere at first, but is full bodied and long.  It opens up a bit after some air time.  I liked it very much, and think it’s another winner in a hot streak of Petite Sirahs we had recently.  Cheri wasn’t quite as enamored with it.  We opened this right after the Terra Andina Cab and it is much more restrained.  Thumbs up from me, so it’s a split decision.

Price Point –    Also $6.99 on sale.

Would We Buy It?  I would buy it by the case at $6.99.  If you like a wine that is a bit more restrained and not just plush in your face, then you’ll like this.  I think it’s another great everyday wine.  Cheri will probably drink all the Terra Andina while I drink this.  In fact I’m drinking this as I write this blog entry.

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Wine:    2008 Raymond Family Classic Cabernet      Winery Location:   Napa

Tasted By:     Neil & Cheri                                                              Date:     Jan 26, 2013

Tasting Notes:  Really good stuff here.  This is sourced fom Napa, Sonoma and Lake County (68% Napa, 23% Sonoma and 9% Lake).  Basically take the review for the Terra Andina Cab above and pump it up everywhere.  Bursting with fruit on the nose, this hits your palate with gobs of red and black fruit and is seamless and rich.  Full bodied and long.  This is really lush, checking in at 14.1% alcohol and oh so smooth.  I think this is hitting it’s peak.  Far too easy to drink to make the bottle last.

Price Point –    $16 at Empirewine.com

Would We Buy It?    At $16, you bet.  This is just delicious.  It’s worth more than this, so get a few to drink over the next couple of years.

There it is.  In my opinion we went 3 for 3, but Cheri’s palate did not completely agree.  You certainly can’t go wrong with the two Cabernets at the price points they’re at.  I think the same about the Petite Sirah.  Try the Raymond – it’s an excellent bottle of wine for under $20.  Buy the Terra Andina by the case and be very happy when you open one during the week.

Wines of the Week, Jan 19-24, 2013

The previous week we opened three wines that varied all over the map.  Our consumption is down a bit as we hopped back on the South Beach Phase 1 diet to lose a few unwanted holiday induced pounds.  That means no red wine Monday thru Thursday, and the suffering is extreme, but we persevere.  Anyway – the wines were a 2010 Red Blend from Lodi, CA (not our favorite), a 2009 Petite Sirah (really a great value) and a library wine from our cellar, a 2001 Napa Cabernet which was delicious.  Here they are:

Tasting notes follow:

Wine:         2010 Gnarly Head Authentic Red          Winery Location:  Lodi, CA

Tasted By:            Neil and Cheri                             Date:     Jan 18, 2013

Tasting Notes:     To be honest this is not one of our favorites.  It drinks a lot like a beaujolais, light and fruity.  Actually it drinks a lot like fruit punch.  There’s no complexity at all, it’s not very long and the nose had a little tinge of astringent for me.  It is supposedly from old vines but doesn’t have any depth of flavor you wold expect from that.  This is a blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet, Merlot and a ‘splash’ of Syrah.  All I get is fruity Zin.  In the interest of full disclosure I’ll say I generally don;t like most Zinfandels, so this is at a bit of a disadvantage.  But prove me wrong!

Price Point –    This was 2 for $14, so it’s very affordable.

Would We Buy It?    Nope, especially considering the next wine.  This has got very little going for it unless you really like smooth fruit punchy type wines.  Then it’s great.  Maybe a good summer picnic wine.

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Wine:  2009 Ravenswood Vintner’s Blend Petite Sirah         Winery Location:   Sonoma

Tasted By:                 Neil and Cheri                                       Date:     Jan 19, 2013

Tasting Notes:       This is really good.  In fact it’s ridiculously good considering the price.  Dark purple/black in the glass it looks like a big wine.  The nose has brooding dark fruits.  Same for the palate, along with a little smoke and scorched earth.  This is a little Bordeaux like in both aroma and taste.  Full bodied with good length.  A yummy wine.

Price Point –    Also 2 for $14 locally on sale, and this is a steal at the price.  Easily drinks like a wine costing three times as much.  On wine-searcher it can be had for $10, which is still a thing of beauty.  I might have to go back and get a case at the 2 for $14 price point.

Would We Buy It?    Absolutely.  I keep writing how much we like Petite Sirah and this is no exception.  You could make yourself believe this is Bordeaux.

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Wine:   2001 Sawyer Cellars Estate Cabernet       Winery Location:   Napa

Tasted By:        Neil and Cheri                                 Date:     Jan 2013

Tasting Notes:  This is a mature wine, and it is delicious.  The bottom of the cork was covered with beautiful deep purple sulfide crystals.  It wasn’t bright red, but had that slightly brownish tinge of an older wine.  Out of the bottle the nose was very restrained, with some red fruit aromas.  It is medium to full bodied and was very long.  After two hours I poured another glass and it was really hitting its stride.  Now there were massive fruit aromas.  They had turned darker and it almost smelled port like. The palate had mouth coating fruit with smooth tannins and the same exceptional length.  This is really excellent if you like mature wines, which we do.  Hell, it was just excellent period.

Price Point –    We paid $25, and I think it’s worth every penny. 

Would We Buy It?   Yes.  This price point falls into our once or twice a month category.  I can live with that and look forward to opening the next bottle.

So there you have it.  A great, great value Petite Sirah and an excellent mature Cabernet.  You can keep the Zinfandel as far as we’re concerned.

Wines of the Week, Jan 5-11 2013

This week we opened several good reds which fell into our Everyday and Once or Twice a Week categories.  The best was very good and the worst was still pretty good, so call it a successful week of cork pulling.  These serve further notice that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to drink good wine, which really means that if you’re drinking really expensive wine it is because you want to and can.  While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s an approach that leaves most of the people out of luck, so I am very glad there are plenty of good bottles the rest of us can enjoy.  Here are the wines and the notes.  To summarize – the $20 bottle (Finca Sandoval 2007)  is really yummy and highly recommended, the other two are also recommended but are not in the same class and will cost you less money.  The Ste. Colombe is a good way to try the 2005 Bordeaux vintage without breaking the bank and the Santa Alicia is a very nice value for an everyday wine.

The wines!

Wine:       2010 Santa Alicia Reserva Cabernet      Winery Location: Chile

Tasted By:    Neil and Cheri                                      Date:     Jan 5-11, 2013

Tasting Notes – This is an excellent buy as an everyday wine.  The wine is a little restrained upon opening, but it is young.  The second day or after a half hour in the glass it really opens up.  A nice deep red color and round, smooth flavors of black and red fruit.  This is an everyday pleaser.  Some length to it as well.  Average rating on wine-searcher was 84 – we think it’s better than that.

Price Point –    $6.95 on Wine-Searcher. 

Would We Buy It?    Absolutely.  This is a great value and makes an excellent everyday wine.  Recommended.

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Wine:    2005 Ste.Colombe                                      Winery Location: Bordeaux

Tasted By:     Neil and Cheri                                   Date:   Jan 5-11, 2013  

Tasting Notes:  Classic Bordeaux flavor profile in a medium+ bodied wine.  It’s smoothed out at this point and drinks nicely.  If you like Bordeaux this is a great wine to drink frequently due to it’s price point.  If you’d like to try Bordeaux this is a good entry point.  It will give you the flavor profile and wont break the bank.  It’s not as big as most from this vintage but this is Cru Bourgeois, not a ranked Chateau.  We bought a case of this as futures for a song and it was well worth it.

Price Point –    Widely varied on Wine-Searcher.  From $10 – $25 a bottle.  This reflects the fact it was inexpensive on release (out futures were $8 a bottle) but is a good wine from a great vintage, and drinks like something much more expensive.

Would We Buy It?    Yes.  We have and will again.  Especially at $10/bottle.  Recommended.

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Wine:      2007 Finca Sandoval                             Winery Location: Spain

Tasted By:    Neil and Cheri                                   Date:     Jan 5-11, 2013

Tasting Notes:     This is really excellent, deep red/purple color and a nose of black fruit.  It oozes fruit.  There are a lot of other complexites and nuances going on as well.  Mouth coating fruit on the palate with some mineral/spice/wood flavors underneath.  Long and delicious.  A blend of mostly Syrah with Mourvedre and Bobal, a Spanish grape you don’t see everyday.  Lot’s going on here and a very excellent wine.  We got it for $16 on sale and wish we could find a case again at that price.

Price Point –    $20 on Wine-Searcher

Would We Buy It?    Absolutely.  We have and will again.  This is a great bottle of wine and worth the $20.

New Year’s Wines

Over the New Years holiday we opened a few bottles while we relaxed a bit.  There was a mix of good and relatively cheap as well as good and not so cheap.  Tasting notes are below.  We enjoyed all three of these.  At between $10 and $12 a bottle we recommend the Las Rocas Garnacha – it’s consistently good and pretty mature and complex for something in this price range.  The La Roquette is drinking very well right now, and will run you about $36 according to wine-searcher.  The Poggio Il Castellare is from the excellent 2004 Brunello vintage and will set you back around $50, which is a little more than we paid a few years ago upon release, but not much more.  This is not quite ready, but if decanted is delicious.  We won’t be opening another bottle of this for at least a year or two.

New Year’s Wines

Wine:     2009 Las Rocas Garnacha                       Winery Location: Calatayud, Spain

Tasted By:        Neil                                                  Date:   Dec 2012

Tasting Notes:  Deep red color.  Very nice nose of mixed fruits.  This is medium to full bodied and has a nice long finish.  An all around enjoyable wine.  Has a mature quality to it. 14.1% alcohol.

Price Point –  $10 – $12

Would We Buy It? – Yes.  We have in the past and will again.  Definitely would buy this vintage.

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Wine:        2005 Domaine La Roquette CDP          Winery Location: Rhone Valley

Tasted By:       Neil                                                   Date:     Dec 2012

Tasting Notes: This is really drinking well right now.  Deep garnet color with a big nose of dark fruit and a little anise and tar.  Full bodied with some tannin holding out and some nice earthy flavors.  After a half hour in the glass in deepened and the palate went toward a more syrupy and jammy fruit sensation.  This is very nice and has aged quite well.  I would drink it now. (and will!).  14.5% alcohol and yummy.

Price Point –   $36 on wine-searcher, we paid about $23 a few years ago.

Would We Buy It? – Maybe.  If I could find it at $23 again then definitely.  It is very good, but there is a lot of Chateauneuf du Pape from excellent vintages available in this price range and a little lower.

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Wine:    2004 Poggio Il Castellare Brunello             Winery Location: Montalcino Italy

Tasted By:      Neil                                                    Date:     December 2012

Tasting Notes: Deep red color.  Black and red fruits but leaning toward red.  Full bodied and very long. Cheri thought she detected a little vinegar taste but I didn’t get that.  I did get a little acid.  We left this overnight with a vacuvin stopper in it and it was pretty special the second day.  The aromas blew right out of the glass as I poured it.  Fabulous fruit on the palate.  Sweet tannins.  This is not ready so if you open one let it decant for an hour or two.  It’s also not as big as the the 2004 Le Lucere Brunello we opened a few weeks ago.  I tend to prefer that one a little bit over this, but this is really good wine.  14% alcohol and does not taste heavy.

Price Point –  $50 on wine-searcher

Would We Buy It? – probably not at $50, since we already have some.  It’s a fair price for a quality Brunello, but I think I would buy the 2004 Le Lucere first (thankfully we still have some of that too!).

Weekend Wines Dec 7-10 2012

Here are two wines we tried this weekend.  Buy the Bogle.

Wine:   Finca Flichman Paisage de Barrancas            Winery Location:  Argentina

Tasted By:      Neil                                                             Date:      Dec 7, 2012

Tasting Notes:   This is a blend of Syrah, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Unfortunately this bottle had a very slight corkiness to it.  This tended to fade with a little exposure to air, and was gone the next day.  The wine is very fruity, and I got some melon aromas.  Smooth with no rough edges, it is full bodied and long.  Very nice.  We’ll make sure the next bottle doesn’t have that corkiness to it so we can just chalk it up to a bad cork.

Price Point –  $16 on sale

Would We Buy It?  Maybe – we might buy again if the next bottle is not corked.

 

Wine:   Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon 2009         Winery Location:  California

Tasted By:      Neil                                                             Date:      Dec 7, 2012

Tasting Notes:   This is a great value, and something we buy by the case.  It’s got a classic cabernet profile.  Maybe a little jam and for me an impression of grilled steak.  It’s very good with grilled steak!  Very smooth with good length.  Alcohol at 13.5% so it’s not hot.

Price Point –  less than $10 generally somewhere.

Would We Buy It?  Yes – we’ll buy more.  Highly recommended and great value.

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Weekend in Kennebunkport, Maine    Nov 9-12, 2012

Here are some selected wines from our weekend in Kennebunkport.  You can read about the 2001 Monte Rosso Cab in the blog here.

A Bargain Bordeaux Nov 3, 2012

We opened a bottle of 2006 Chateau Malmaison from Bordeaux this weekend.  This is really good and a great value.  You can scoop it for around $15, and if you like Bordeuax – it’s well worth it.

Hurricane Sandy Sippers – October 29/30 2012

We opened a couple of better bottles while we waited out Hurricane Sandy.  A big Cab and a leaner Bordeaux style blend, both very good and very different:

A tasting at Stonington Vineyards, October 6, 2012

Cheri, Myself and our son Alex stopped by Stonington Vineyards on October 6, 2012 to taste the current offerings.  We’ve been going there off and on for almost 15 years.  There’s more about the day on the Blog here.

The wines:

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Some selected Wines from the Newport Mansions Wine and Food Festival          September 22, 2012

We tasted a few dozen wines on the first full day of this festival, the best in the area for my money.  Here are some of the ones we liked.  There’s a blog about the overall day as well on the blog page here.

First Up!  A Horizontal Tasting of Pride Mountain Vineyards 2007 Reds (and a white!)

This tasting was a seminar offered in conjunction with the 2012 Newport Mansion Food and Wine Festival.  Stuart Bryan and Suzanne Pride Bryan from Pride Mountain Vineyards offered six wines.  It led off with a 2011 Viognier and was followed with 5 reds from the great Napa/Sonoma 2007 vintage.  From the first nose of the viognier you know you are dealing with quality and a first class winery.  These were all good.  They were all very good.  They tend to be a little higher in price than we like to go, and you’ll see that reflected in the tasting notes.  But it was a great horizontal tasting and a lot of fun.

The winery itself is fascinating because it is actually two bonded wineries, one in Sonoma County and one in Napa County.  The winery straddles the ridgeline between the two.  They have 42 different vineyard blocks between the two vineyards and the wines could be all of one or a blend.  I believed they mentioned 12 different blocks of Merlot.  It must be quite a challenge for the winemaker to pick and choose how to blend and craft the final wines, but they do it well.  We will probably buy a bottle of the 2007 Merlot and Cabernet for a special occasion.  The rest are too expensive for our budget to support.

The wines: