Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chateau Nardian Saint Emilion 2009 Bordeaux And Two Kissing Cousins From Californian Appellations

Chateau Nardian Saint Emilion Grand Vin De 2009 (100% Merlot) Bordeaux, $16.99-$18.99, 88 points, has a mature Burgundy color welling opaque, and having pleasant earthy aromas with candy-cane hints. The medium body carries just a hint of acidity and tannin. The flavor is earthy black fruits with a pleasant, but marginal finish.


Franciscan Estate Napa Valley 2007 Merlot (92% Merlot, 5% Syrah, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 1% Petit Verdot) $13.50-$20.00, 89 points, has a youthful Burgundy color with a dark core, spectacular aroma of flowers and cooking spice, carried nicely on a medium body of of firm acidity and noticeable tannin, with flavors of tart cherry and violet hints, finishing on a fair bed of spice.


Merriam Vineyards Windacre Russian River Valley 2005 Merlot is labeled Melot, but it is a Bordeaux-styled wine (93% Merlot 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2% Cabernet Franc), $29.70-$32.99, 90 points, steps-up the intensity with a bit more alcohol (14.2% vs. 13% and 13.5% respectively). Having a youthful Burgundy color with clear-bright ruby hints radiating from a near black core, this Merlot (Bordeaux style) wine has an aroma of fall leaves and a touch of alcohol, a medium bodied wine of a balanced acidity and a light to moderate tannin presence. The flavor profile is black fruit and Damson plum. There is a bit of heat throughout, but that heat is most noticeable on the long finish. 


Three Merlot wines, very similar in color and flavor, with some differences in aroma, but the Merriam stands out in alcohol and price; for $13.50 the 2007 Franciscan (Bought on sale at Hannaford's supermarket, Hooksett, NH) is your "Best Buy", but if you're out for quality and 1 or 2 points makes a difference to you, then give the Merriam a try (Bought at http://www.bellavinonh.com/ ). 
Just a note on "Grand Vin" which means a winery's best wine (this was a small "blind tasting") and 88 points might not seem like a fair score, but that 88 points really out shine's and makes MUCH MORE sense than WS giving Stag's Leap Artemis 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon 80 points; I guess my repeating this gripe manifests my disorientation with their reality, but once again they're the pros.


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meritage Wine (Geyser Peak And Lyeth Wines)

 Meritage Wine is a non-French way of saying a wine is a "Bordeaux style" of wine without the French origin. These wines are usually food-friendly (The French treat wine in the European tradition of wine equals food).


I have two examlpes of California Meritage Wines for your consideration as a substitute for French Bordeaux, but it is important to understand that to have a Bordeaux style wine, the wine does not have to be a certified Meritage wine, but rather typically (Sometimes having only two varietals) a blend of any of these six wines: (For Red Wine) Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Melbec, Carménère, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.


Geyser Peak Alexander Valley 2005 Meritage, $17.99-$35.99, 89 points, is not always an inexpensive wine, but at the lower-end of the price scale is a fair value. Quaffable is a word that comes to my mind as we polished-off this bottle in a brief foray into a mostly Cabernet Sauvignon wine (68%). The color is a deep garnet, but black at the core. The aroma is a pleasing soft coriander-clove.
The wine body is medium to full which carries flavors of primarily plum and licorice, and having a fair finish with some heat.

Lyeth Sonoma County 2006 Meritage, $12.74-$17.99, 87 points, is a more affordable Meritage with a similar profile, though not quite as dry and with almost no heat on the finish as was the case for the Geyser Peak, and also having a medium body. The aroma is a muted cluster of cooking spices, but the flavor, though not as lush, is predominately plum and licorice with a more noticeable tannic presence and a longer finish.
At the lower price, this too is a fair buy and won't break your bank account for something a little different and competently made.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Dinner And Wine Reviews-Bordeaux Wines




Chateau Bonnet 2008 Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon, $13.99-$15.99, 91+ points, was such a nice change from the fruit-bomb of a Concha Y Toro 2009 Merlot last night (85 Points).
Wine 101 has the Bordeaux wines to be from the Bordeaux region of France, though indigenous varietals are grown all over the world and are usually listed as these six wines: Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Melbec, Carménère, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon, or blends (There are Bordeaux White Wines which I'll save for another post). It is important to understand that the designation of "Meritage" is the same varietals without encroaching on the Bordeaux region of French origin.

Chateau Bonnet 2008 Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon proves once again that there are very good French wines for very reasonable prices.

Chateau Bonnet 2008 Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon has a somewhat deep cloudy magenta color with a large transparent rim.
The aroma is a quite nice flowers and plum with hints of cinnamon spice and earth.
The medium body carries the very dry wine with ample tannin.
Flavors of gentle violets accent the more powerful plum and cherry.
The finish is fair, but delicious.
How does this wine pair with chocolate? How does Fred Astaire go without Ginger Rogers, Sony without Cher, or even Batman without The Joker, oops, Robin?
I was very pleased with this wine, and for $13.99 and at least a 91 point wine makes for a best-buy from me.


Vin français est une aventure en beauté !
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Castello DI Monastero 2007 Chianti Classico



Castello DI Monastero 2007 Chianti Classico, $16.14-$20.99, 91+ points, is my last Thanksgiving wine review, but Christmas is coming quickly and I want to present a few Bordeaux varietals common to NH. So, if you haven't finished with your preparations, then this one should do quite nicely. I bought this one at the New Hampshire Liquor Stores a few months ago, but I wouldn't doubt that you'll find this wine to be obtainable almost everywhere.
Castello DI Monastero 2007 Chianti Classico opened with a perfect ruby hue, the aroma is a very nice earthy blackberry with subtle hints of cinnamon and clove, this very dry red wine has a medium body and carries a rather straight forward but excellent flavor of  blackberries with earth tones and hints of licorice. The finish is long on smooth tannin and black pepper.
I paired this with Chipotle Pasta and sausage with a cheesed Focaccia grilled in the oven, but this wine will pair well with poultry or beef as well.
This is a great stand-alone wine if you like a dry red wine.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Ridge Estate 2009 Chardonnay And Roland Lavantureux Grand Vin De Bourgogne 2009 Chablis

Ridge Estate 2009 Chardonnay, $33.14-$38.99, 89 points, begins its rite of passage with an unpleasant aroma, though subtle we all noticed (Made me think there might be a problem with the bottle itself) the off blue cheese nature of it, but as it breathed for sometime, I notice that negative quality dissipated and was replaced with ripe melon; all these aromas were present on my palate, but late palate pepper became apparent and made for a rather nice finish with just a touch of spearmint. The color is light gold in a matrix of a medium body.
I've been a big fan of Ridge wines, and I'll want to try another Ridge Chardonnay, but this one doesn't get a buy from me, because of the price.


Roland Lavantureux Grand Vin De Bourgogne 2009 Chablis, $18.69-$21.99, 88 points, has a pale yellow color, an aroma of gentle lemon-zest, a medium body, and flavors of grapefruit-lemon with just a hint of lime. The finish is fair with ginger and floral notes.
Though I like this wine there are other Chablis wines I've reviewed that I like better and at a comparable price.


Both these wines were up to the task of pairing with Buffalo-wings, fried Haddock, and Turkey-gravy with mashed potatoes.


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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Plumpjack NAPA Valley 2009 Chardonnay An Expensive But Worthy Thanksgiving Choice



Plumpjack NAPA Valley
2009 Chardonnay Reserve, $39.09-$49.99, 92 points, is nearly everything an excellent California Chardonnay should be: balanced with subtle oaky vanilla, quaffable and creamy, but very refreshing (Not heavy) pear-pineapple, and hints of quince; there is the gentle aroma dominated by pineapple, the color of transparent gold, and the long finish with noticeable ginger that works so good together.
We liked this wine very much, and though we served the Plumpjack Chardonnay with Lobster-bisque this is a wine for almost any cuisine.
Now I know my neighbors won't like the price (I didn't, even at $39.09), but let's face it, Thanksgiving-Christmas is only once a year; this is not an every-man-everyday bottle of wine. As for me, I don't eat-out more than two or three times a year, and when I do the cost is always more than the price of a bottle of Plumjack, which makes this my treat.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Zenato Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripassa 2007



Zenato Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripassa 2007, $28.00-$32.99, 93 points, is a beautiful wine of great depth, but possesses the simplicity of liquid velvet wound in its deep ruby-red. It clings to your glass as it clings to you palate and finishes long on flavors layered and fluted. Okay, make fun of me, but this wine has many "faces" and will please many people, both those who want something special and those who just want something with their meal, but either way, if you are going to spend a hundred dollar or more on your Thanksgiving dinner, then why not display the "mettre en évidence des repas" in an elegant bottle with and elegant flavor that will be remembered for a long time?

"Verona in America, un bellissimo vino di fiori e frutta per abbellire il nostro tavolo."


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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Castello di Gabbiano 2006 Chianti Classico Riserva



Castello di Gabbiano 2006 Chianti Classico Riserva, $11.99-$19.99, 90 points, is of a clear Burgundy color, having a black cherry-cedar nose with hints of cooking spice.
The medium body carries a good acidity with firm tannin.
The flavor of plum-cherry with earth notes is very good, and the finish is fair with hints of spice.
This is a typically food friendly wine which I can see pairing well with a host of different foods; I enjoyed this Chianti with asparagus and chicken pie.
It's hard to imagine a better QPR when this wine was purchased for $11.99.



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Monday, November 14, 2011

Marcheside De NIPOZZANO 2007 CHIANTI RUFINA RISERA




Marcheside De Frescobaldi Nipozzano 2007 Chianti Rufina Riserva, $20.39-$23.99, 91+ points,
has a muted black-berries aroma, the color is dark Burgundy,  the medium body carries a well balanced wine with tart and toasty black cherry excited by its firm tannin and acidity flowing long and pleasantly with hints of peppery licorice.
If you are looking for an affordable quality Chianti Rufina (Mountain Chianti), this will do marvelously
This Chianti was perfect with a hearty black-olive, onion-steak pizza, and my guess is that it would sit nicely on that Turkey-Table.
Varietals were 90% Sangiovese and 10% authorized others.


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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Brunello di Montalcino Mate 2006, Do See, Have You Handled Or Tasted The Art?




I was listening to a concert tonight, and it made me wonder if we are in touch with the "Art" of wine? The history, the people, the land and sky, the Oak, the age, the bottles and labels  and so much more. Just a thought.
In case your curious what the concert was:   

As for art, check out Mate 2006 Brunello di Montalcino, $54.49-$56.99, 95 points: this is another deep-dark wine, there's a bit of debris here (That doesn't bother me), but there is so much here, so much art, so much character, it has aromas that are lovely perfumes from sun-drenched vineyards with earth and lightning, the flora of which is bramble-berries and clove, there is dewy touches of mushroom and dawn-sized strawberries and cinnamon, much of which carries-over all through your palate on a medium to full-body of delicious juiciness, rich on this canvas of "Blood, Sweat, and Tears" of the many hands and souls of those who over the years have refined a majestic wine for almost any occasion. This wine is rich, yes, but it is accessible, it is young, but your whole mouth comes alive with feelings as well as flavors, especially one that I haven't been able to pin-down that is light and sweet, yet some berry that eludes me, it packs within it a measure of metaphoric joy. I love this wine like a great sonnet, symphony, or the Sicilian sunrise. Okay, okay, I've gone over-board with this one, but when your "ascending" what you see transcends, and ends with a long spicy finish.

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Italian art in song: "O Mio Babbino Caro" from "Gianni Schicci" (Giacomo Puccini)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhtX2GbOQBg&feature=related

Thursday, November 10, 2011

667 Monterey 2010 Pinot Noir


667 Monterey 2010 Pinot Noir,
 $14.99, 88+ points.
I found this wine at The Londonderry, NH Hannaford's Supermarket.
Drinking a Monterey PN was instigated by, Steve Heimoff in his Nov. 8 post, where he lets us all know that he would be in Monterey Town on Saturday doing a live program and reviewing some "big-guns" wines. So, I reverted to doing one more Pinot Noir to celebrate with all those folks having a grand-ole-time.
667 Monterey 2010 Pinot Noir (I have tried their 337 Cabernet and their 181 Merlot, both top QPR wines) is a dark magenta with violet hints, the tart cherry on the nose is complimented by earth, cinnamon, a bit of grape-blueberry.
This Pinot is very fresh and very smooth, a quaffer with lots of juicy blueberry, blackberry, and hints of cran-cherry, and having an easy finish of spiced plum. Quite a nice wine for the full price of just $14,99.


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BOLLA 2010 Chianti



Bolla 2010 Chianti, $6.99-$9.99, 85 points, is dark cranberry red, the aroma is of dried fruits: date, bilberry, and elderberry. Though the Bolla 2010 Chianti strikes me a bit weak, the flavor is quite good carried on a light body of cherry with hints of strawberry. The finish is fair, with an easy peppery cherry.

Are You having a large party? Do you need an inexpensive wine for your Turkey, chicken, or even that ham? The same thing applies with their Chianti what I said about their Bolla Merlot: "is to me the Merlot (Chianti), at the price we all want, and I want on my dinner table."





I bought this Bolla Chianti at Market Basket with a $1.00 coupon.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2007





Felsina Rancia 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva,  $36.69-$39.99, 94+ points, was a dense aurora of ruby-red and royal purple colors which welled-up almost as black as a Shiraz to the core.
The aroma was a black and blue fruit attack with hints of cooking spice.
The medium to full body carried an exhilarating array of flavors that were pure, clean, focused, and delicious, having an abundance of juicy black cherry, bright boysenberry, and (with some time in my glass) a lovely recessive strawberry espresso.
Felsina Rancia 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva finished long on easy, but persistent tannin and silky gentle hints of cayenne.
I guess you can tell that this Chianti Classico Riserva  was a winner for me.
Still to come, more on value; however the value of this wine can't be measured by $s, unless you try this wine and find, like I did, that this is a value at $36.69. 

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cantina Zaccagnini 2007 Monteplciano d' Abruzzo



Cantina Zaccagnini 2007 Monteplciano d' Abruzzo $16.14-$18.99 (I've seen it on-line for $11.99), 90 points.
Following the Brunello di Montalcino, I thought it wise to point out that this (Monteplciano) is a type of grape, and unlike the  Montalcino, which is a Place, the place for the Monteplciano is Abruzzo.
Now that I have that cleared-up, I want to point out to those who might buy this wine on my recommendation, that this is a wine of controversy akin to the Monte Antico Toscana Red Table Wine , but I'm on the other side of the argument this time, for I find this wine much more interesting.
The color is ruby-red to garnet, the aroma is a light perfume nutmeg, the texture is light-medium body with a very juicy quality, the flavor is a very pleasant black fruit with hints of chocolate, all on a bed of fair acidity and mild, but lasting tannin.
The story behind this Varietal is interesting, but too long for my venue: check it out here:
http://www.intowine.com/montepulciano-d%E2%80%99abruzzo-wonderful-red-wine-region-abruzzo

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Palazzo 2006 Brunello di Montalcino




Palazzo 2006 Brunello di Montalcino, $69.99, 93 points, is a deep garnet color, with a massive bouquet of flowers, earth, and cinnamon, the texture is medium bodied with considerable glycerol, lip-smacking acidity and powerful tannin, the flavors are layered and complex, with floral plum and red cherry, with a palpably persistent finish of eucalyptus and menthol on a  bed of spice.
This wine cut through our pepper-cheddar-burgers like a hot knife through. . .


If you are interested in this kind of wine, I should tell you that all the advice I've seen is that this wine is best from 2014-2025, but the reviewers had to taste this Brunello, and I couldn't resist.
I forgot to mention that this wine is 14.5% alcohol, which is a bit more than a typical Sangiovese wine, and you might have noticed that you enjoyed this Brunello way more as well.

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Italian Wine And Not Making A Dent

As I, an ordinary New Hampshire wine lover, prepare to to taste some Italian wines to recommend to family and friends for Thanksgiving I have a modicum of trepidation in this pleasurable  endeavor. Because of the many different wines an Italian winery might make, the many different vintages, varietals, more than 31 Red wines alone, and styles of wine, Italy has over a MILLION wineries and California has maybe 1200, some say 3,000. This means I'll never, if I live to be two hundred years old, make a Dent in the myriads of Italian wines hidden in the catacombs of the Italian hills, coastal regions, and city backyards. 


Some of you are aware of my complaining that NH just doesn't have a great enough choice in Zinfandel wines, but in the case of Italian wines not so much a problem, though as I search for Brunello di Montalcino wines there is not so much either, but as for your average everyday Chianti drinker, you (New Hampshire residents, and please refrain from allusions to http://www Hannibal Lecter's pairing.) will find plenty to taste.


So, this post is one of those boring preludes to the real thing, but this has its genesis in my wanting to be the "best" advocate I can be, Price is almost always the prime mover, but even us lowly middle-class folk want the most for our buck. I'll not just try Italian wines that are inexpensive, but I'll taste some more expensive wines too; you can't hardly buy a Brunello di Montalcino for under $30.00, and since that is my favorite (So far) Italian wine, I'm going to begin with one of those. 


You may have noted along the wine-way that some have (Not me, not yet) compared Brunello di Montalcino with Pinot Noir.


If you followed the Brunello di Montalcino link above you know more than 99.8% of Americans about this wine, but if you are like me you just read over it. I will just say that Brunello di Montalcino is a highly prized 100% Sangiovese wine and is treated legally and rigorously to maintain its character, purity, and quality; this wine is a "Keeper" and should not even be served for upwards of 10 years after bottling, but since I might not be here to taste it, I'll venture to try some of it a bit early and get hints of what will be (Some like to say evolve), and if the wine is so good now, I'll take a chance and buy another for when I'm so old I'll forget where I put it.
With all that "Hot-air" I'll give you a picture and a promise to give a review very soon.


I have other Italian wines, but for now, what you see is what you get, and if you see one that particularly interests you, let me know and I'll put it at the top of my time-table. And please no cracks about my Italian platter. 

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There are other things about Italy that just lift the soul; listen to Andrea Bocelli:  
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HD9JCc6LRI8

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Merry Edwards Sonoma Coast 2008 Pinot Noir



Merry Edwards Sonoma Coast 2008 Pinot Noir, $46.99, 93 points, is a wine with the color that brings to mind the saying: Puts "N" in Noir; this wine wells deep-dark and rims violet to transparent.
The aroma is a beautiful balance of cedar-box and spicy red cherry.
The flavor is a powerful cherry-pepper-plum that is wound gracefully, but is imprinted, with good acidity and tannin, that with hints of cayenne and menthol finishes strong and long.
Judging by those who emptied their glasses in the picture, we were very pleased with the night's offering, which paired very nicely with Buffalo wings, celery with Blue cheese and Saffron crackers.
This is the last of my reviews of Pinot Noir for this Thanksgiving. I did want to get to some Italian wines (Food and Italian wine are synonymous) before it is too late. Where I've been timid with French wines, I've dived into Italian wines, and like Claire ( http://claireuncorked.blogspot.com/) love their wines with holiday food-fare.
To sum-up my Pinot Noir recommendations I would say that if money is not an issue, then I would go with Merry Edwards Sonoma, but if money is an issue I would go with Albert Bichot Vieilles Vignes 2007 Pinot Noir Bourgogne, $12.99-$16.99, 89 points, Murphy-Goode 2008 Pinot Noir, $11.99-$14.99, 89 points, or with Murphy-Goode 2009 Pinot Noir, $9.99-$18.99, 89+ points. Maybe a combination would be a good idea; either way your guests will be pleased, and you might like to have a bottle or two of
Buehler 2009 Chardonnay, $8.49-$18.99, 89 points.





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Spy Valley Marlborough 2010 Pinot Noir



Spy Valley Marlborough 2010 Pinot Noir, $20.99-$23.99, 89 points, is from New Zealand and thus is distinctive as you might expect; I have had highly regarded New Zealand Pinots before and was not that excited about them, though others are (I'm sure I'll find the one to knock-my-socks-off as we have so few available here), but let me just say that this one is very good.
The color is a deep vibrant red to purple, the aroma is a very toasty blackberry-grape with less spice than almost any other I've tried, the texture is the big pleasure plus, having a pure velvet-juicy quality I found most delightful, the flavor is a bit licorice and plum, and the finish is a weak mentioned fruit with a bit of cherry.
Keep in mind that this is 2010, and with all the newness, fruit, and early phase of this wine, it should evolve, but right now, other than the beautiful texture nothing very much stands out for me, not the tannin nor the acidity.


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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thanksgiving wine recommendations continue with Ponzi Pinot Noir



Ponzi Vineyards Willamette Valley 2008 Pinot Noir, $26.34-$35.99, 89 points, begins with a deep dark burgundy color and violet tints, the aroma is a wonderful cinnamon-strawberry with chocolate hints, but textually a bit heavy (Too chewy for me), and having flavors of licorice, plum, black cherry, and hints of cinnamon.
The acidity is food friendly, the tannin is mild, and the wine is dry with alcohol at 13.8%.
Finishes with a long spicy cherry.
I find this to be a different Pinot Noir, and maybe it would not be fair to dissect this one into Quality-Price-Ratio, but if you like a Thanksgiving wine that will hold-up to just about anything you serve, you might want to add this one to your menu. 


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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cambria 2009 Pinot Noir


Cambria Santa Maria Valley Julia's Vineyard 2009 Pinot Noir,

$18.69-$23,99, 90 points, has a deep magenta color rimmed with considerable transparency.
The aroma is a unique blend of herbaceous, dare I say "Panamanian Red", cedar, and cut cayenne.
The flavor is nicely carried on a medium body of licorice, red fruits, plum, and black cherry, having a considerably long spice finish,  food-fine acidity, and tangible tannin, all of which fashions a memorable drinking experience. 
This is a more complex Pinot Noir than many I've tried (That's not saying too much), and is quite flavorful; if I had known how much I would like this wine, I would have bought more of these at the sale price.



 

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