Production of this style of wine dates back to the 5th century and the unctuous goodness stems from the harvest of very ripe grapes and drying said grapes on straw mats until well into the following year. The result is a wine that offers balanced acidity, a pleasing mouth feel and just enough sweetness to satisfy any post dinner cravings.
The Fattori Recioto begins with a hue that is closer to gold and polished bronze than any white wine around. The amber nectar almost seems to have been made to be put in a glass and ponder holiday lights through. Aromas of baked apricots, toffee and pecan pie waft from the glass. Once on the palate there is a huge rush of flavorful emotion, and as a tear is shed (well, almost!) a mix of orange marmalade, roasted hazelnuts, dutch apple pie and a splash of lemon zest spring forth across the palate. The finish is long and lush and doesn’t seem to want to leave.
The name is a play on words that making wine isn’t rocket science, but this lush and long creation is surprisingly complex given its handle. A mix of estate-grown Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot from John Caldwell’s vineyard to the east of the city of Napa, the Rocket Science begins with a deep nose filled with black cherries and raspberries mixed with earthy notes of wood smoke, sweet spices and a hint of cedar. The palate is gobby and gooey and filled with black fruits and chocolate mixed with spicy notes, but then a delicate balance of acidity and tannins comes weaving its way into the mix to keep the wine from feeling heavy or cloying. The finish goes on and on
Unlike many of the more well-known name brands in Champagne the Larmandier-Bernier is made by a small family that harvests, ferments, ferments again and bottles their wine. No factories or production in gigantic proportions here. Only really good fruit farmed organically and biodynamically from old vines in really good soils. Extra-Brut means that less sugar was added in the dosage as the Larmandiers believe that ripe fruit should provide all the sweetness a Champagne really needs.
The initial aromas range from orange peel to chamomile to white lilies and back to a little zesty citrus note. The entry of this wine is intense and fragrant, with lovely tangerine, quince, anise and thyme elements mixed with golden delicious apples and a broad feel. The finish begins with a twang of bright acidity and minerality but proceeds to flesh out across the palate and develop into a harmonious and lovely balance.
From a selection of old vines grown from rocky soils in the warmest parcel on the estate, the Louise-Amelie is exactly what is right in the world of Old World wines. The nose starts with candied red fruits and violet perfume but then a sinister, smoky, camphor note comes creeping in, thus hinting at the 20% or so Syrah mixed in with the Grenache. The palate is a luch and lovely blend of the fruit, weight and concentration that has become so common in the Rhone mixed with the spice, complexity, earth and minerality that used to be so common in the Rhone. Layered, intense, balanced, pure and long, this is a lovely bottle of wine and further proof that just because it says Chateauneuf doesn't mean it is the true expression of the Rhone anymore. This is what Rhone wines should aspire to be.
The 2009 Melville Inox Chardonnay is a wine of immense minerals, long and ripe fruit notes and bracing, vibrant acidity. Unoaked and prevented from going through malolactic fermentation, the Melville Inox differs from many un-oaked Chards in that it is sourced from the ripest Chardonnay grapes on the estate instead of the least ripe. The result is a wine of precision and focus that offers an underlying current of fruit and weight that is hard to fathom at first, but that with each moment in the glass and trip across the palate seems to become more profound and expressive. Imagine if the Grand Crus of Chablis were airlifted to Santa Barbara and that just begins to give glimpses of the dynamic nature of this wine.
Want a bottle of Champagne but don't want the high price tag? This is the wine for you. Further proof that it is not always so much about the where or the when, but more the who, the how and the why, the Raventos L'Hereu was given every possible opportunity to become a wine on par with the greats of Champagne. Chalky soils, old vines, organic and BioD, a rest on the lees 2x as long as Veuve and a family with 500 years of winemaking know how- every element is in place for this wine to over deliver. And it does not disappoint. Aromas of fresh flowers, Granny Smith apples and biscotti tease the senses before a rich, robust and profound mix of flavors comes invading the palate. Call it the EF Hutton wine, because your taste buds are forced to listen. Full fruits of caramelized apples, fresh peaches and a toasty brioche note offer weight and richness that spreads across all four corners of the tongue. And just as the wine seems to be too intense a wave of silky bubbles begins to tickle, and then a wave of minerals begins to sharpen the focus, and finally a wave of fresh acidity brings everything back into phase with linear precision. This is a delicious and impeccably-made wine, and a total steal at this price.
The wines of John Kongsgaard are hard to define, hard to explain and sometimes hard to describe in that they boggle the mind with their insane and intense depth and richness yet tickle the palate with just enough balance to win over fans of all styles of vino. The 2007 vintage is further proof that in a year where only average wines are made, John's are exceptional, but in a year where excellent wines are made across the board, the Kongsgaard wines are simply other worldly. The nose is intense and broad with elements that run from citrus to peach and orange blossom. Once in the mouth the wine transforms into this golden blanket of Chardonnay flavors, immediately thrilling the senses with gobs of fleshy fruit, overt minerality and a certain honeyed character not unlike a top-rate Meursault. The finish starts with ample fruit, cream and oak, and then fades into a lush mineral and acidity laden crispness, and then slides back again towards a cream and golden raisin feel that seems to last for an eternity. This is California Chardonnay at its finest.
The wines of Helen Turley are certainly not without controversy, as her extroverted and robust style has all but revolutionized winemaking in CA. I suspect other winemakers would like to fight her in a dark alley for what she has done to wine if given the chance. For this wine however, there can be no denying the rich purple fruit and black cherries that come bursting out of the glass. Chewy, rich, silky smooth and full-throttle, this wine offers gobs of everything: fruit, spice, complexity, depth, etc, etc, etc. You name it- it's in there. Yet the wine is not without a certain graceful charm, as if watching a 200 pound dancer flit through a serious of jumps and spins that you were sure would cause the stage to come crashing down only to be shocked at how the suave, sophisticated and complex dance maneuvers are completed flawlessly over and over again. There are many wine lovers in the world who would KILL for this bottle of wine, and while I readily admit a transparent bottle of Volnay is more my speed, I will also readily admit I really liked this wine and that it is clearly a world-class Pinot.
While the Donnhoff wines are legendary for their ability to age, I find the wines to be even more enjoyable when young and filled with exuberant fruit and nervy acidity. It is hard to imagine how this wine would get better anyway, as even now it starts with a floral and mineral laden nose that seems to drift far out of the glass. The attack is fresh, fragrant and fruity, with intense peach, apricot and guava before a more restrained citrus element comes crashing in through the middle. The finish is long and lovely and has that fantastic mix of mouthwatering fruit and bracing acidity that can only be found in a high quality Riesling.
The Bott Geyl Metiss takes its name because it is a melange of colors: Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois with their yellow skin, Gris with a greyish/ pink hue, and then the Black Pinot, and it is an appropriate name as it is a seemless blend of the best aspects of each. The apples and creamy texture of the blanc and Auxerrois shine through, while the spicy nature of the Gris adds touches of almond, clove and ginger. The Pinot Noir adds a touch of golden raspberry and a silky feel. Overall an excellent example of Alsatian wine that is hard to define but easy to love. Also certified organic and biodynamic if you are into that sort of thing.
Thierry Merlin is one of the true luniaries of Sancerre having produced distinctive and invigorating Sauvignon Blancs from the hamlet of Bue for four decades. He is widely considered one of the best winemakers in the region, and with good reason as this offering has all crisp citrus, chalky minerals and fresh quince that Sancerre is known for. But the Merlin-Cherrier also has a darker side as well- a seedy underbelly of smoke and richness that never seems to show its true nature but instead lurks just below the surface of the flavors. I wonder what it will do in a few years? Either way it is quite tasty now.
The Fattori Soave is like a breath of fresh mountain air. It is fresh, fruit forward with long peach, citrus and almond notes and a few floral elements mixed as well. But the real attraction here is the long, minerally finish that just seems to extend well beyond what this wine should be capable of. Fine acidity keeps it from feeling heavy or cloying, but does not interfere with the mouthfeel or the finish. Overall a well-made wine and a fine example of what this region can produce under quality and not factory conditions.
Though the grape breakdown may sound like this is a "kitchen sink" type of wine, this is consistently and convincingly one of the the best values in Napa Valley from one year to the next. $36.99 a value wine? Yup, as the Prisoner offers a unique mix of hedonistic dark fruit and spice, silky tannins, ample length and complexity and a drinkability for a big wine that is unlike any other out there. But don't take my word for it- look at the amazing rise in popularity of this wine over just a few short years. It's crazy, but that is because this wine is crazy good, so I guess that makes sense.
Further proof that Syrah is the most underrated grape in California today, the Melville is a fruit-forward, dark, complex and spicy wine that is not without a vein of nervy acidity running through the middle. Plum, date, blueberry and blackberry fruit run dancing through the middle, while the front end is all floral and the back end all white pepper. I find wine lovers scratching their heads at this grape for this very reason- they expect jammy riches and a fat feel, but cool-climate Syrah can offer all of the juicy fruit and depth of broader wines, but it need not feel like a ton of bricks on the palate. I dare CA Pinot to say the same.
Lip-smackingly delicious, tingly, crisp and clean, this wine brings out the best aspects of California Sauvignon Blanc without any of the hard attributes the grape can sometimes suggest. Well-made and fragrant, with notes of melon, meyer lemon, star fruit and green apple on the palate. Good wine and at this price better than the competition.
Sourced from organically farmed grapes, this is a delightful little bubbler for the spring, summer and celebrations. Crisp green apples, citrus and almond notes run through the middle while the finish is crisp and refreshing. The mousse is pronounced and lengthy and the bubbles have a fine texture. Too often bubbly is overlooked as a food wine, and it pairs well with seafood, spicy items, veggies and my personal favorite- fried foods.
Sourced from 50 year-old Grenache vines that re dry farmed and then fermented in stainless steel at cool temps, the Bielsa is about the best value in wine right now. Fresh and fruity, with notes of black fruit, spice and dry earth on the nose, while the palate offers juicy blackberries, black cherries, a slight floral note and a little tar to wrap it all together. The texture is soft and silky but not completely without tannins or acid. Overally pretty good and a real bargain at this price
This project hails from Napa stars Pam Starr and Drew Neiman and is produced from some of the Valley’s finest vineyards. While they will not mention specifically which vineyards, it is widely known throughout the Valley that the owners of such prestigious fruit would not want it known that their grapes make it into such an inexpensive wine. A blend of primarily Sauvignon Blanc with just a kiss of Semillon thrown in to add weight and complexity, the Bridesmaid White is as fragrant as the backyard in May. The nose offers complex notes of white flowers, soft spring grasses, tropical fruits and a touch of gravel. The palate is crisp and fruit-forward, with some of the tropical fruit notes familiar to the Musque clone of Sauvignon Blanc, but also lighter notes that are more green and citrusy in nature. The wine is practically alive with acidic intensity which brings harmony and balance to the lush fruit.
From a certified organic and biodynamic winery, this is a delightfully dry example of Champagne Method quality at everyday pricing. The nose begins with notes of flowers, spices and citrus zest. The palate is full of apples, pears, cream and toasted spices along with hints of toffee undertones. The finish is crisp and clean and has plenty of lively sparkle. Jean-Christophe Bott is the 6th generation of his family to make wine from this estate that draws fruit from four grand crus and 3 lieu-dit vineyards.
This is what Spainish wine was meant to be. The Verdejo in this mix is from very old vines which adds just a touch of richness to the fresh lemon, tangerine and creamy notes in the mid-palate. The nose is understated by very fresh, and with just enough acidity to get the mouth watering for the next sip. The finish is longer than what you would expect for $10, with hints of lemon zest, floral notes and almond skin. Overall just a very refresing and enjoyable wine.
I have always liked the wines of Moris Farms, who despite their very English name have resided on the coast of Tuscany for over 300 years. The Vermentino is an intriguing wine that begins with apple, honeyscukle and peach aromas above a palate that is surprisingly complex for the price point. It starts with crisp apples, baking spices and a hint of citrus before more of the spices and a decidedly creamy note takes over in the middle. The finish feels as if it will be long and lush but it is balanced by fine malic acidity which leaves the palate refreshed instead of bogged down. This is an excellent value and further proof that life outside of Pinot Grigio really does exist in Italy.
Don't let the funky label and Zork cap fool you, the Plungerhead is a serious wine with lots of blackberries, pepper, spice and brambly notes on a silky frame. The finish offers not much in the way of tannin but a pleasant acidity which keeps it feeling more like a wine and less like the syrup that Zin can sometimes turn into.
The Elements line of wines from Dom. Bott-Geyl offers high quality at more affordable prices as this wine consists of about 50% Grand Cru fruit and the remainder from a well-exposed vineyard just outside of the Grand Crus. The nose brings in typical notes of roses, baking spices and a touch of tropical fruits. The palate is neither sweet nor heavy, but has more unctuous qualities than that of a dry wine. Broad and big, but minerally and with refreshing acidity, it is a complex and well-balanced wine that hits on all cylanders. It is also certified organic and biodynamic for those of you that are interested.
The Vaucoupin is on the same stretch of ground as the Grand Cru of Chablis and sits on an impossibly-steep south-facing hillside. Hand harvested, strict sorting, native yeasts and natural battonnage in stainless-steel, all of the practical elements are in place for great wines. But the wine is not just great, it is stunning. The Vaucoupin was broad and complex on the nose, with elements of tropical fruits, roasted herbs and a buttery note that reminded me of roast chicken (don't ask, it is just what I smell sometimes!) The palate was absolutely delicious, with amazingly pure flavors that ran from citrus to tropical fruits and mixed in minerals and subtle chalky notes. The wine was silky, broad and chewy but also had a crystal clear vein of minerals running through the middle. Though it is rockin' now, I would like to retaste this wine in ten years. Not inexpensive, but an incredible value.
Always a classy and well-made wine, the La Bauge comes from a particularly well-exposed plot of vines in the heart of the Le Bon Climat vineyard on the ABC estate. Full, fleshy and round, but without any heaviness or over the top fruit. Part of the allure with fine Pinot is the texture, and the La Bauge is a silky-smooth example that runs the black cherry and berry flavors before hints of spice and cola come through. The nose is elegant and expressive. There is a certain depth to this wine that remains full without feeling like a 16% Syrah-like fruit bomb. Very tasty!
The Voillot Bourgogne Rouge is culled from old vines grown in Volnay and Pommard. It is a delightfully elegant, finessed and perfumed style of Burgundy, as delicate as a spring flower and as graceful as a ballet dancer. Soft red fruits, violet and lavender perfume, touches of earth and a bright vein of acidity and minerality through th center provide lift and life to this fine and traditional Burgunday. This is why cool climate Pinot Noir rocks!
Consistently a great wine and a great value from one vintage to the next, the Virgile Rose is as always a mix of cherry blossom and orange zest notes on the nose and then lots of fresh red fruits that range from raspberry to cranberry to sour cherry on the palate. Linear and bright, the wine seemlessly transitions from the intensity of the palate to the refreshing finish.
The Hiedler practically jumps from the glass on both the nose and the palate. Crazy fruity, crazy floral, crazy crispy and clean and just a really enjoyable glass of wine. I could get into the specifics on flavors and aromas but I prefer to just offer this: DRINK IT NOW! Awww yeeaahhh!
Margaine sits on an exposed bed of limestone powder in the Montagne de Reims, an area usually known for rich and robust Pinot Noir-based bubbles. However, the lighter soils make this estate an island of Chardonnay in a sea of red-fruit dominated Champagnes. It is a wine of sheer enjoyment. While sweetness is what usually comes to mind with demi-sec, this wine is unctuous and rich in texture but delightfully dry on the finish. Instead of citrus fruits think of more tropical notes of papaya, guava and mango. Instead of fresh apples think of a delicious baked apple tart. It is rich and seductive on the front end, but then the flesh and open texture funnels into a core of bright acidity, so the wine does not feel heavy or cloying. It is almost easier to compare it to Grand Cru Riesling with bubbles. I can think of nothing better after a full meal in lieu of dessert.
Anne and Michael Dashe have for years produced exciting and consistently good Zins from their old vine vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma. The late harvest is another such product that combines rich fruit, ample spice and a soft frame. Broad and deep on the nose with lots of spicy fruit and hints of herbs and chocolate. The palate is a big swath of purple fruits and spicy raspberries, which is followed by chewy dark chocolate, baking spices and a long and rich finish. Sweet and spicy and a perfect way to cap off an evening by a roaring fire.
Widely considered to be a first class vineyard in the Nahe, the 07 Schneider is a supple and sublime offering that offers fresh peaches, white floral notes and a silken texture. Lush and sweet upon entry, the wine settles into a fresh minerality and surprisingly juicy mid-palate before a fine dry finish swings into high gear. Lusty and long, I have always enjoyed the Schneider wines for their pure intense fruit.
Only in Germany can a wine have TWO proprietary names, in this case Feinherb is used to denote a wine that is dry-ish in style and Muschelkalk, which means "fossil bearing limestone" inreference to the soil. Long names aside this is an absolutely smokin' Riesling, with bright aromas of flowers, orange zest and lime and a palate that is fruit forward but not sweet. It is full in through the middle and then salty, zippy and refreshing on the finish. This wine is just packing a lot more groceries than your average Riesling. Messmer is quickly becoming a go-to at my house for value and quality.
Much of the Malbec from Mendoza today is overfruited, overoaked, and just over. On the other hand, the Campo Negro Malbec is lush and full without sacrificing any acidity or body. The nose starts off reserved but improves with a little air to offer a mix of plums, blackberries, minerals and a fresh mountain air perfume. Firm tannins and a broad mid-palate lead to a long finish with touches of baked fruits, some earthy complexity and a touch of campfire. The wine is clean and full, and though tasty now it has the goods to perform for a few more years.
Consistently one of my favorite producers in California (not to mention one of the really good people out there) Mia Klein has crafted some of the most cult of cult wines in CA. Selene is her personal label, and the wines are well-constructed, complex and beautiful examples of what experience, skill and trust can create in Napa when you pick by ripeness and not by numbers. The Chesler is a blend that offers that lush fruit and dark perfume of Cabernet Franc, the silky feel of Merlot and the intense fruit and structure of Cabernet. As with many of Mia's wines, everything is in the proper proportion from acid to tannin to fruit to you name it. It is a wine that offers lots of immediate appeal mixed with an obviously long life. Mia is a winemaker who trusts the fruit and makes very soulful wines that speak to her years out in the vineyards. The label features a picture of her mother waterskiing.
An intriguing wine sourced from the only DOCG on Sicily- Cerasuolo di Vittoria- though Syrah is not one of the permitted varities so it is IGT. A smoky and herbal aroma intertwines with blackberry perfume and a slight warmth. The palate is an interesting mix of both old world and new, as it contains some of the freshness of cool climate Syrah, some of the acid and tannic length of Northern Rhone, but also some of the lush and sweet fruit found in California Syrah. Juicy black fruit, a velvety mouthfeel and just enough complexity add a certain spice and depth. Sourced from an old clone of Syrah grown in Sicily for decades, it is hard to pin point, as if it has taken on a life of its own over the years and is a totally unique clone.
Also with 25% Gros Manseng, a local specialty in the southwest of France. The Pajot is a certified organic and biodynamic blend that offers a fresh nose with herbs, white flowers, a little apple and citrus nuance and just of touch of the high notes Sauv. Blanc is so famous for. The palate is clean, crisp and appley, but with more weight and richness than the nose would suggest. This is just a pleasant wine that offers immediate enjoyment, further proof that there are still great values in France
The Pecina Crianza spent 2.5 years in oak and then another three in bottle before release, as believes in selling wines in their prime. The color is fading on the rim just a little, but no more than to be expected after 9 years. The nose is complex and very spicy, with hints of clove, coffee, baking spices, dried fruits and the telltale leather of Rioja. On the palate it is expressive and complex, with hints of herbs, smoke, red fruit and more of the spices on a silky frame with dusty but chewy tannins. The finish is long, and has hints of green olives, usually the first sign that a wine is approaching the crest of the hill, but at this point it adds depth. While this wine won't please everyone with its old world style, you can't say it is boring.
A super bright and clean rose that added just enough typicity of Zweiglet to keep it interesting and unique. fresh flowers and a snappy mouthwatering citrus element on the nose led to a crisp palate of white pepper, red currants, sour cherries and a little orange zest.
The 2000 Brut Couer de Cuvee is the greatest bottling from Vilmart and represents the greatest and truest expression of the terroir, skill and family history of the estate. A blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir that is fermented in barrique and then given a ridiculous six years on the lees before release, this is a profound and sublime confluence of wonderful raw materials and inherently brilliant winemaking skill. It is produced from only the "heart" of the pressed juice in which the first and last portions of the barrel are bled off to allow only the greatest elements of the wine to remain. Silky smooth, yet crisp and vibrant, this is a wine that is has every base covered yet each facet of the wine melds harmoniously with the next. The floral perfume goes on and on, the lemon curd, fresh baked bread, sweet toasty oak and chalky minerality seem to jump out of the glass before the long, complex and expressive finish really kicks into gear. This wine lingered on the palate long after swallow, yet never felt cloying or heavy. Truly a magical wine. Dom Perignon, eat your heart out!
A truly unique wine is the 1998 Brut Cuvee Creation, a specialty cuvee that is fermented and aged in Barrique as well as given five years on the lees in an effort to promote depth and complexity. The blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir is still incredibly youthful after over a decade. It is culled from the oldest vines on the estate and represents a mix of old and new for Vilmart- the old of the vineyards and the new of the barrique barrels that it is fermented in. Fresh and fragrant, but with a firm core of minerality and citrus fruit that sings all the way from the attack to the very long finish. This wine also brings a note of creamy brioche to the mid-palate, and steps in a touch of smoke and coffee beans.
The 2002 Brut Rose Grand Cellier Rubis is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay that is fermented in Barrique and then given a further five years on the lees before release. This is a wild and seductive style of rose, with a floral note on the nose that ranges from orange zest to orange-colored roses. The palate is spicy and sweet-tart, with gobs of red apple, wild berry notes, a roasted chestnut creaminess in the center and then a finish that goes on and on with a dark and earthy umame note underneath. It is wrapped in tight acidity and a firm feel that will undoubtedly soften will cellar time.
Another stunning non vintage wine is the Brut Rose NV Cuvee Rubis. Crafted from 90% Pinot Noir and just a splash of Chardonnay, the Cuvee Rubis is a fresh and fragrant version of rose that has all the perfume of a finely crafted Burgundy mixed with a tart palate that melds the finest raspberry sorbet with lemon zest, fresh cream and a tingling and lengthy mousse. Rose champagne is all the rage right now, but this wine has so much more to it than being part of a fad. Non-vintage Champagne is often best consumed immediately upon its release from the winery, but the Rubis still is tightly wound and has a touch of tannin, which hints at a future to come.
The Brut NV 1er Cru Grand Cellier is the first in a line of specialty and Tete de Cuvees is the Vilmart line up. The most basic of all Vilmart Champagnes is not even imported into the U.S. So for domestic Bubbleheads, we get to start halfway up the ladder. A blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir that is sourced primarily from the 2005 vintage and then aged 3.5 years on the lees before digorgement. This is simply the greatest NV champagne in the market, with incredible length, sophistication and mineral strength that is not usually found in a non-vintage champagne. The high percentage of Chardonnay provides a fresh apple and light tropical fruit note that is a beautiful and harmonious balance between crisp and full.
The 2006 Soter Vineyards Pinot Noir Mineral Springs Vineyard is just a lovely expression of Pinot Noir. The nose is absolutely beautiful, with wave after wave of perfume, cola, spice, earth, woodsmoke and rich black fruit go drifting in and out of my sense memory. Soft and silky on the tongue, this wine holds that ethereal quality that is the calling card of a great Pinot Noir- it is neither heavy nor light, neither thin nor fat, but instead a little of everything, with an unmistakable richness dancing hand in hand with a spirited grace. The dexterity of Fred Astaire mixed with the beauty of Audrey Hepburn and doused with a generous dose of J-Lo-like passion. Rich dark fruits, mouthwatering acidity, tongue-coating glycerin- you name it, this wine has it all!
In addition to his single-vineyard wines Tony also crafts a Pinot called the North Valley. The 2006 Soter Vineyards North Valley Pinot is a blend of Pinots from both Estate-grown fruit and also grapes purchased from some of Tony's esteemed neighbors. All vineyard management is conducted to Tony's exacting specifications including green harvests, hand selection of berries and very low yields. The result is a wine that is light to medium in body but full of bright red fruit and a long note of spice on the finish. The mid-palate holds considerable weight and a pleasant creamy note before a wash of bright acidity starts the mouth to water. The finish is fresh and clean.
The 2003 Soter Vineyards Brut Rosé of Pinot Noir is a beautiful example of domestic sparkling wine. Made in the Methode Champenoise and given a very modest dosage of 7 grams per liter, this is a dry and lithe wine with lots of fruit and spice. Aromas that range from peach blossom to fragrant raspberries linger above the glass like the first whiff of the lilac tree in my backyard come springtime. The palate is fresh and vibrant, with a clean feel of red fruits and a certain spicy note. Bracing acidity washes through on the finish. Overall this wine has just a touch more weight than your average sparkler, more Morlet than Chiquet, but a delicious wine nonetheless.
Another wine to keep an sharp eye out for was the 2003 Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos which carried all the weight of the 2003 Bougros but remained a little more racy and citrusy in the mid-palate. An obvious choice with more full-bodied dishes such as Dover sole or even roast chicken, this wine could probably hold its own against just about any fare. Minerals and apples were the most prevalent notes, but also touches of pears, cream, mango and a little herbal essence added depth and complexity to this wonderful wine. I believe it to be far from its peak now, as some of the acidity is only barely starting to fade, but with a wine this flavorful why wait?
Less than 25 cases of the 2003 Chablis Grand Cru Bougros made it to U.S. soil, but what a wine indeed. Obviously the weight in this wine is a product of the vintage, but also from the old vines and low pH soil from which this wine was sourced. Quince, Meyer lemon and honeydew aromas lead to a palate that had clover honey, orange marmalade and baked apples riding a wave of creamy fruit in the mid-palate before the long and gloriously ripe finish began to manifest itself. One would swear this were oaked if you didn't know that Brocard doesn't use any, but since he doesn't I am amazed at the richness and complexity that this wines provides.
More of a challenging and interesting wine was the 2006 Chablis Vieilles Vignes, a selection from some of the oldest vines on the Brocard estate. Aromas that ranged from orange peel to subtle white flowers to white peach and spices led to a palate that was at once bold, racy, rich and harmonious. The wine seemed to have an ethereal weight to it that defied description, almost as if it were feathery light and dense at the same time. A backbone of high acidity ran through the wine from beginning to the very long finish, and I cannot imagine anything better than a bottle of this and a plate of raw oysters. Except maybe Champagne, but what would one expect from Chablis which is closer to Reims than Dijon?
The 2005 Petite Chablis was a rich and round example of the grape, with just enough minerality to keep it from feeling too modern. The lack of oak used in the Brocard wines really allows the essence of the Chardonnay to flow through. The fruit is rich and open, and provides enough weight for any Chardonnay lover without the feeling that oak and butter are the only attributes of the wine. Another well-made wine that is not expensive by Burgundian standards.
Another wine that fits squarely into the value category is the 2006 Kimmeridgian Chardonnay which may be labeled for the American market, but this is a wine that certainly has kept its old-world charm. Lemons, peaches and spices race through a concentrated mid-palate. A very nice bottle of white burgundy, and a great introduction to this style of wine.
The 2007 Sauvignon de St. Bris was a classic example of what high-toned and citrusy Sauvignon Blanc can taste like if it is not killed by New Zealand-style herbaceousness or California-esque tropical fruit. Lemony and fresh, with a light floral note on the nose and a richer than expected mouth feel.
Last but not least is the 2005 Mercury Head Cabernet Sauvignon. Made from 100% Cabernet sourced from two of the best vineyards in all of Napa (the Morisoli Vineyard in Rutherford and the Taplin/Lewelling Vineyard in St. Helena) this is California Cab at its best. Big, rich and round, with gobs of red and black fruit, currant, cedar and complex notes that range from earthy (pencil lead and scorched earth) to leathery to smoky. Just a well made wine, and one that will stand the test of time. While the tannins are rich and luxurious now, a little time in the cellar will certainly only add detail to what is already a masterpiece. Another heavy bottle, the front is graced with a solitary Mercury Head dime as the only indicator to the riches that lay within.
Another wine to keep an eye out for is the 2005 Papillon, a bordeaux-styled blend that is out-of-control good. Primarily Cabernet, but all sourced from some of the oldest and grarliest vines on the Tofanelli estate, it is all the balance, structure and complexity one would expect from a deftly constructed blend of grapes grown by one of Napa's master craftsman. But there is one slight difference- better make that a huge difference- it is as if some one cranked the volume knob on this wine to well past ten. To like 27. It is just that big and jammy and juicy and enjoyable. It is also packaged in probably the heaviest glass bottle I have ever seen. If I were walking down a dark alley and someone tried to mug me I could simply drop this bottle on the would-be robber's foot. The label consists of a black and white photo of Vince Tofanelli's grape and mud smeared hands with the word Papillon written across his knuckles. There is nothing else to denote the wine or grape breakdown on the front of the bottle. The photo was taken by photographer of the stars Greg Gorman who has made his name by snapping black and whites of everyone from Al Pacino to Iggy Pop. Über-cool indeed.
If you can find it The 2006 Prisoner was perhaps even bigger and bolder than this year's version. The chains on the Goya print that graces the front of the bottle could barely restrain the fruit and decadence of this chewy and savory red. Blackberry and Hershey's syrup run through the mid-palate, before a spice and herb-laden finish swings into the picture and hangs out for like a week.
The 2007 The Prisoner is up to its usual standards, as wave after wave of rich, dark fruit mingles with notes of spice and dark chocolate. This is what I would call a "full-throttle" wine as it seems to hit the palate at break-neck speed, races around and around your mouth for what seems like 500 miles after you have swallowed, and leaves your taste buds in a wash of power, intensity and excitement. There are few wines that I have come across that are as crowd-pleasing as this one on such a grand scale. Young men like it, old ladies like it, even my Mom who only drinks Riesling likes it, though it is much closer in style to a dry and spicy Zin than anything with residual sugar.
The 2007 Veladora Sauvignon Blanc is also sourced from Tofanelli's famous old-vine, dry-farmed vineyards located just a mile south of Calistoga on the north end of the Valley. This wine makes no apologies for its richness and unctuous feel, yet still offers harmony and fresh acidity along with the tropical fruit flavors and mineral nuance. The label features Our Lady of Guadalupe, better known as the Virgin Mary who appeared to a humble villager in 1531 just outside of what is now Mexico City. The proceeds for this wine go to an organization called Puertas Abiertas (Open Doors) which provides dental and health care services to the many migrant workers who toil away in the vineyards of California.
An incredible wine, the 2003 Raventós i Blanc Gran Reserva de la Finca seemed to have everything that one could want to have from a sparkling wine of any style or price point. This wine spends thirty-six months on the lees, an eternity in the world of sparkling wine. High end Methode Champenoise beware, the Gran Reserva was rich, broad and wonderful, with all the balance that one could hope for in such a full-bodied sparkling wine. Aromas of baked brioche, apple tart and espresso roast mingle with lighter notes of clover honey and wildflowers. The palate is expansive, but with pleasant splashes of acidity and a crisp feel before the long finish kicks into high gear. Truly a well-made sparkling wine.
The 2005 Raventós i Blanc L'Hereu Reserva Brút spent over 20 months on the fine lees, evident in the richness and round feel that this wine possesses. By contrast a certain Champagne that sells at 3x the price and has an awful orange label only spends about 12 months on the lees. The aromas range from bright green apples to white flowers to hints of toffee and brulee. On the palate this wine is round and inviting with notes of lemon curd, refreshing apples and bright acidity above a creamy and incredibly long finish. At under $25 retail this wine qualifies as an absolute steal and is a great alternative to Champagnes that offer less quality at double or triple the price.
A real surprise was the 2007 Kamen Estate Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, not that I expected it to be bad, just that I have had too many Cabernet rosés that taste as if the winemaker didn't know what to do with the left over juice instead of actually crafting a quality product. But in this case we had a wine that tasted like the best cranberry juice you have ever had in your life. Rich and intense, with an abundant amount of flavor, nuance and spice that seemed to go on forever. Hints of vanilla cream and just a touch of tannin alluded to the full-bodied nature of the grapes grown on Mount Veeder, but the wine did not feel fat or overblown. A real head-turner.
Last but not least was the 2005 Kamen Estate Syrah, which was a well-integrated and seamless wine that started with aromas that ranged from violets and blackberry perfume and finished with flavors of ripe dark fruit, woodsmoke, cassis and a long finish that just seemed to linger on and on. Rich and robust, but balanced with ample tannins and just enough acidity, I am curious to see how this effort will evolve over the next ten years or so. California Syrah continues to get overlooked by the "Any Pinot in a storm" crowd, but with wines such as this, maybe the pendulum will swing back around.
Just as impressive was the 2005 Kamen Estates Cabernet Sauvignon. More spicy and robust on the nose than the 2004, this wine just seemed to go on and on with aromas of ripe black fruits, baking spices, touches of warm earth and a woodsy note that smelled of a cedar chest with a little incense sitting inside. The palate was rich, chewy and intense with great concentration and a plush feel. The tannins were integrated, but this wine could certainly benefit from short to long term cellaring at this point. The finish lasted a full minute, and I didn't want to put any other flavors in my mouth except for more of this incredible wine.
The 2004 Kamen Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a haunting mix of ripe currents, subtle yet complex earthen notes, blackberry blossom perfume and notes of mocha and vanilla from the French Oak barrels employed at the winery. A hallmark of Kamen's wines are silky textures and chewy tannins found throughout, and the '04 Cab is not short on either. Big enough to toss in the cellar, but integrated enough that the potential is easy to recognize, yet there is the potential to even consume it right this second. This is a delicious bottle of wine.
Last but not least was the 2005 Passopisciaro Franchetti. A blend of Petite Verdot and Cesanese, as far as I am concerned this is the benchmark for Sicilian wines. Too often wine lovers think of Sicily and immediately think Nero d'Avola, but here is proof that incredible things can be created from this jewel of an isle. Dark and brooding, yet lithe and elegant, this wine seemed to provide a new sensation at every turn. Aromas of smoke, blueberries and blackberry jam wafted from the glass with ease and determination. The palate was rich and complex, with notes of fresh black raspberries, an earthen grip and a little barrel spice on the finish. There were plenty of tannins on the very long finish, but already they were well-integrated and chewy despite the very young age of this masterpiece.
The 2005 Passopisciaro was crafted from 60-100 year-old Nerello Mascalese vines that are grown at very high elevations. This indigenous grape variety is like an uncut gem just waiting for the masterful hand of Mr. Franchetti to hone it and reveal its true brilliance. The wine and the estate derive their name from local town, which in turn received its name for the local fish-monger's road Similar in weight to a Pinot Noir, the wine opened with a rush of red cherry and orange blossom on the nose followed by deeper more ethereal notes of dry earth and a gamey, animal note. The palate was as smooth as silk and seemed to caress my cheeks with gentle tannins not unlike the sort found in a well-aged Bordeaux. Full and present, but not obtrusive, this is is an amazing and thought-provoking wine.
I was lucky enough to sample the 2005 Tenuta di Trinoro about a year ago and I found it to be amazing. The 2006 Tenuta di Trinoro may be even better! A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon, this is as close as heaven and Bordeaux can get to southern Tuscany. A rich frame of power, tannin and grace was given flesh by a sea of dark fruits, earthen spices and a touch of mineral nuance. The aromas positively leapt from the glass, and the finish went on for what seemed like an eternity. Truly an extraordinary wine.
Starting with the 2005 Tenuta di Trinoro Le Cupole, which is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot with splashes of Cesanese, Petite Verdot and Uva de Troia. Though technically the second wine of Trinoro, this is a first-rate Tuscan red. The Cabernet Franc provides a haunting perfume on the nose that swings from blackberry essence to violets and finishes with hints of mocha and dark earth. The palate is rich, round, plush and more concentrated than most anything else hailing from Tuscany, but it stays light on the tongue with a balance of natural acidity on the finish.
This was a Chardonnay unlike any other I have ever sampled. Incredible waves of pineapple, peaches and mandarin orange crashed against my palate with a richness that begged for attention. At first I feared the wine might be too much show and not enough substance, but nuances of white flowers, salty minerality and a crisp finish proved that this is a wine of immense quality and depth, and not just another Chardonnay show-pony. It helps that it is truly a unique wine grown on a volcano out of ancient lava. Pretty cool, indeed.
I did get a chance however to try the 2005 Ramey Syrah Rodger's Creek Vineyard and it was dark, earthy, rich, spicy and delicious. Sourced from a vineyard on the west side of Sonoma Mountain, it was big, bold and wonderful. Sweet blackberry and smoke aromas wafted from the glass above a perfume that was a mix of lavender and plum blossom. The palate was packed with gobs of sweet black fruit, a silky texture, and a wonderful weight in the mid-palate that only a well-made Syrah can bring. Fleshy, rich and full of chewy tannins this wine will certainly stick around for a while, so be patient and give it time to grow into something magical.
My favorite of the line was the 2005 Ramey Cabernet Pedregal Vineyard. Sourced from a vineyard that sits in the heart of Oakville and counts its neighbors as Dalla Valle and Screaming Eagle, this is as good as California Cab can get. The nose seemed to go on for days, with incredibly pronounced fruit, a haunting perfume and amazing depth. A new aroma awaited my nose with each sniff. The palate had everything you could possibly want in a Cabernet: length, body, richness, depth, fruit, tannins, earthy complexity, balance and weight. Complex, smooth and incredibly long, the wine was a seamless journey across the palate from beginning to end. Amazing.
The 2005 Ramey Cabernet Larkmead Vineyard hails from a vineyard in Calistoga on the valley floor, but the high gravel content of the low-vigor soil provides a wine of considerable body and weight. Cherry-blossom perfume mixes with aromas of cassis, kirsch and dry earth before a full-throttle palate of sweet cassis and luscious black fruit kicks in. This wine has wonderful length, a velvety-smooth feel and some of the most well-formed and integrated tannins I have ever had in a young CA Cabernet. You can feel them, and almost chew on them, and they coat the inside of your cheeks, but they never seem to get in the way or feel hard in any way. Overall, a soft, supple, plush and thoroughly enjoyable wine.
The 2005 Ramey Napa Valley Cabernet is the first such bottling from David, and it is comprised of fruit from each of his single-vineyard Cabernets. Dark on the nose, with some sweet raspberry fruit but also touches of cedar, dry earth and blackberry jam. The palate has great richness and body, with a long finish of sweet red fruit mixed with firm tannins and ample acidity. Sturdy and structured, this could use a few more years in the cellar.
The 2005 Ramey Napa Valley Claret is a blend of primarily Cabernet with a quarter Merlot and also splashes of Cab Franc, Petite Verdot, Malbec and even a little Syrah- an homage to the wines of Bordeaux that were once "improved" by adding a little Hermitage to the mix. Aromas of cocoa, soft red fruits, a little dry-earth dustiness and hints of French Oak harmonize with a palate that has incredible texture, silkiness and weight. Black cherry and currant notes mix with mouth filling tannins, touches of white pepper and earth.
Another beauty was the 2005 Ramey Hudson Vineyard Chardonnay. A little bigger and broader than the Hyde Vineyard Chard, this wine offered a nice mix of fresh pears, some floral complexity and even a little minerality on the nose, while the palate followed with hints of white pepper, milk chocolate, creme brulee and a long and rich finish. A wonderfully rich feel coated the mouth, but ample acidity provided finesse and balance to what would have otherwise been an overtly rich wine.
The first wine ever produced by David was from the heavy clay soil of Larry Hyde's vineyard located along highway 12 just to the southwest of the city of Napa. To this day Ramey still sources Wente-clone Chardonnay grapes from this prestigious vineyard. The 2005 Ramey Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard was an incredible treat in California Chardonnay. Too often it is assumed that great Chardonnay from CA needs to be a fruit bomb and have no guile, subtlety or complexity. This hass all of those and much more. Fragrant, floral and lovely on the nose with peach blossom perfume and a little clover honey. The body has crisp acidity, a delicate balance, a wonderfully soft and beautiful feel and a very long finish. Burgundy fans look no further than Carneros, everything you need can be found in this wonderful wine.
The 2006 Ramey Carneros Chardonnay was an interesting mix of big and bold and fresh and crisp. Floral and tropical on the nose, the palate was a unique blend of crisp lime-tinged fruit with higher acidity followed by a big, broad mouth feel that hinted at an over-the-top style of Chardonnay. Everything was in incredible balance, with a long velvety-smooth finish to tie the wine together.
The 2006 Ramey Russian River Chardonnay was more floral on the nose and palate than the Sonoma Coast, with hints of jasmine and honeysuckle mixing with a bright peach essence. Flavors of tropical fruits, ripe pears and a little lemon zest roll together on a silky frame layered with cream. Elegant and full of charm, this wine was in perfect balance.
The 2006 Ramey Sonoma Coast Chardonnay was a lovely mixture of fresh pears and apples on the nose followed by a palate that was big and fruit forward, with a soft butter and butterscotch note on the finish. The texture was silky, mouth-coating and wonderful.
My favorite wine in the line-up was the 2005 The Scrapper Cabernet Franc. It won't be hard to find this wine as there is a black and white super-imposed image of Jack Dempsey as the label. 22 months in French Oak have given this wine a personality all its own. The nose is perfumed and deep, with hints of lavender, black fruits and espresso roast. The palate is big, broad and expansive, with ripe black fruits, a little rich topsoil nuance and a blend of spices that range from roasted herb to a little tobacco and tea leaf. Very well balanced, yet big enough to take on all comers.
One of the most popular wines in the Vinum line is the 2006 PETS Petite Sirah. For years a dog named Tanker graced the label for this affordable yet lovable wine. Tanker was the family friend of grape grower Ken Wilson, and a portion of the proceeds from this wine are donated to the Tanker Memorial Fund at the San Francisco SPCA. Chewy and rich, yet balanced and nuanced. the '06 PETS is yet another home run in the Petite Sirah category. Too many Petite Sirah's come off as either fruity yet thin or beefy yet tannic as hell, while the PETS manages to capture the fruit and fragrance up front and the richness and body on the back end without knocking your teeth out with tannins. Always a great bargain!
As we are just heading into the summertime months, a wine to look for is the 2006 It's OK Rosé made from dry-farmed Cabernet Sauvignon from the Frediani Vineyard in Calistoga. Fruity and fresh, with notes of raspberry, orange blossom and strawberries on the nose, followed by a palate that is refreshingly dry and crisp. Black cherry and golden raspberry flavors seem to jump out of the glass.
The 2005 Vinum White Elephant is a blend of primarily Chenin Blanc with Roussanne and Viognier added to the mix. Just what exactly is this wine anyway? It is at once dry, fruit forward, complex, yet easy to love. A haunting perfume mixes the best elements of white flowers, lime zest and pears along with a little exotic spice. The palate is rich yet lively on the tongue, with a harmonious blend of peaches, lemon oil and a slatey mix of minerals on the finish. If you are looking for another run of the mill wine with no character or personality, this isn't your wine. But if you want something that has spice, nuance and flavor, look no further.
Another charming wine was the 2006 VIO Viognier which hails from the Vista Verde Vineyard in San Benito County just to the east of a town named appropriately Aromas. Bright, fragrant and very expressive, the nose practically jumped out of the glass with elegant rose and cherry blossom notes, along with a little quince and tropical fruits. The palate was dry and delicious, with elements of white peach, tangerines, tree fruit and a little spicy note on the finish. Weight, richness and complexity, all on a dry and balanced frame. Very nice.
This is a delightful summertime white, with all the honeysuckle and peach blossom you would expect on the nose of a good Chenin Blanc, but also a fine and crisp palate that accentuates the wildflower honey, almond oil and fresh ginger notes. A great value and as the name suggests, why drink boring Chardonnay when you can have this baby instead?
The 2006 Riesling Vom Urgestein, whose name literally translates as "from primary rock," is a study in Riesling complexity and minerality. Fresh raspberry and tree fruits mingle with a little honeysuckle on the nose, while the palate has richness, depth and length without feeling heavy. That is the true nature of a well-made Riesling. You feel the weight of the wine on your tongue, but it never feels heavy. A long stone-laden finish hints at the nature of the vineyards.
The 2006 Riesling Gobelsburger is exactly what a great dry Riesling should be- Refreshing, crisp, medium-bodied and full of spice, vigor and flavor. Fresh citrus, peach notes and even a touch of quince in the mid-palate lead to a fresh finish that cleanses the palate and draws the taster in for another sip. Always one of the truly great values in white wine.
The 2005 Grüner Veltliner Tradition is broad and open, with a big, voluptuous mouthfeel and an abundance of clover, truffle honey and even a touch of caramel. Veins of bright acidity shoot through the weight to refresh the palate. This is what Montrachet tasted like before it new it was Montrachet. A long and lusty finish seems to linger on the tongue for an eternity.
The 2006 Grüner Veltliner Steinsetz hails from a single vineyard located on an elevated plain south of the Castle. The soil is a unique mix of black loam, sand and alpine pebbles. It is also without a doubt in my top five GrüVes all time, and indeed one of the best white wines I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Aromas of wild mint, white pepper and a field of alpine flowers on a warm spring day lead to a palate that is juicy, crisp, linear and fruit-forward. Honeysuckle, spring peas, pink lady apples and a hint of cream in the center drag on and on. The finish just doesn't seem to want to quit. What an amazing wine!
The 2006 Grüner Veltliner Gobelsburger is a blend from the single vineyard sites as well as a splash of fruit from outside of the property. This is the "entry level" wine of Castle Gobelsburg, though I think there are few better examples of dry and crisp GrüVe anywhere. A slight floral note on the nose is augmented by a big Granny Smith apple tartness in the mid-palate, which is then followed by a wave of cream and then finally a long, minerally finish. Medium-bodied, it is a wine of immense enjoyment and I can think of nothing better for a warm spring evening.
The N.V. Brut Reserve is comprised of about 70% GrüVe with Riesling and Pinot Noir making up the rest. It is sourced from only the best vineyard for each grape and is disgorged by hand after three years on the lees. A more fashionable bubbly with a bright orange label only spends 12 months on the lees, and frankly isn't as good either! Elegant floral aromas intertwine with notes of toast and spice. The mousse is long and the bubbles are tiny. Crisp and refreshing, but with considerable weight and concentration, this wine is the definition of both ethereal and elegant.
As for the 2005 Isabelle Morgan Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley it is crafted from the best barrels of the single vineyard Pinot Noirs from Au Bon Climat. Ripe, round, complex and big, with a broad swath of cherry and black-berry fruit, but also a hauntingly expressive nose of fruit, perfume, spice, earthiness, elegance....the list goes on and on. Another full-bodied Pinot that could use a little time in the cellar, but this comes as no surprise since Jim is known for trying to produce wines that are "better now than when they were made."
The 2004 Knox Alexander Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley is from some of the best fruit in the Bien Nacido Vineyard. Big, broad and more tannic and structured than the other Pinots in this line-up, the Knox Alexander is one to wait for. Black cherries, subtle spice notes, cherry-cola and roasted herb nuances waft from the glass in an endless stream of aromas. Flavors of blackberries, dried cherries and a touch of earthy forest floor notes are tied to fresh acidity and ample tannins. Give this bottling a little quite time in the cellar.
From an estate vineyard planted in 1994 comes the 2003 Hildegard Santa Maria Valley. A blend of Pinot Gris developed from old Burgundian clones mixed in with Pinot Blanc and a little Aligote, the Hildegard is a intensely-flavored, complex and thought-provoking white. Supple and rich, the nose is awash with spices, floral undertones, baked apples and even a hint of anise. The palate follows through with weight and richness but also a superb balance of acidity on the finish that keeps this full-bodied wine from feeling flabby or fat.
The flagship of the Brander lineup is the 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Santa Ynez Valley. Big, chewy and boisterous, this Cab had everything you could want in a robust red- tannins, acidity, fruit, earth, spice and length. Black currant, cedar and rosemary aromas led to a palate that was at once big, refined and rich but not overwhelming. The finish was long and chewy, with enough tannin to suggest five years or more of bottle age would turn this baby into a work of art.
The 2004 Merlot Santa Ynez Valley was like liquid velvet in the glass. Aromas of black raspberry and cocoa powder drifted above a palate filled with lush dark fruit and a hint of earthiness. The finish was soft and supple with chewy tannins and a hint of tapenade.
As for the reds, the 2005 Santa Barbara County Syrah was a well-made example of an elegant and refined Syrah with blackberry perfume and subtle hints of smoke, leather and allspice. Juicy and smooth on the palate, the finish was just tannic and acidic enough to ask for a little red meat to be served along side it.
This is the fourth vintage of the Sauvignon Blanc Santa Ynez Cuvée Au Naturel that I have tried, and it remains my favorite domestic Sauvignon Blanc year in and out. Only the best grapes are selected for this cuvee from estate grown fruit, and the wine sees no oak or malolactic fermentation. The 2005 version is a wild Loire Valley style that inspires comparisons to Cotat and Dagueneau. Racy, complex and mineral-driven, with aromas of honeysuckle, lime zest and wild mint and flavors that range from citrus to fresh herb to flint and dry rocks. Long and lovely.
The 2006 Sauvignon Blanc Santa Ynez Cuvée Nicolas is made in the traditional Bordeaux style, with 25% Semillon added to the mix before the wine was aged sur-lie in French oak. Soft and supple, more of the tropical notes of Sauvignon Blanc were found in this wine than the others, with juicy nectarine, guava and blood orange notes mingling with a touch of Semillon-inspired clover honey. The finish was long and lively.
The 2006 Sauvignon Blanc Santa Ynez Valley has a touch more body due to a portion of the wine going through fermentation in barrel. Hints of citrus and fresh melon emerged on both the nose and the palate, while a delicate floral aroma that ranged from lavender to iris played in the background. Racy acidity refreshed the palate on the finish.
Starting with the 2006 Early Release Sauvignon Blanc, this wine is bright, fresh and floral, with racy acidity that calls out for a shellfish partner. The wine spends one month in fermentation at cool temperatures and then another month in stainless steel to stabilize and then it is out the door. The intent is to preserve the fresh fruit flavors that can become dulled by too much time in stainless steel or in bottle. Sort of a white version of a Beaujolais Nouveau if you will.
This wine never ceases to amaze and delight me, as it is just a fresh, dry, citrusy and mineral-driven white. It also has a certain characteristic that I sometimes find in Spanish whites- the ability to be light, crisp and refreshing with bracing acidity and minerality, but also have a deceptive richness right in the mid-palate that always seems to take me by surprise. A slightly salty twang on the finish suggests a natural pairing with tapas.
Ripe, round and complex- this has about as much to do with Vinho Verde as a McDonald's hamburger has with filet mignon. Perhaps some of the parts may be the same... but I digress. With a couple of years of bottle age this wine has gained more complexity and nuance than I thought possible with this grape. It has begun to develop the secondary characteristics of a fine Meursault- there is plenty of balancing acidity to the rich and lush frame, along with notes that range from fresh peaches and apricots to candied orange peel to iris perfume. Underneath it all there is a golden and honeyed note that reminds of a plump golden raisin that has been baked into a bread pudding. Just a fantastic wine.
The 2005 Dorado was similar to the 2006 but seemed to be less in the rich and round side and more in the racy and vibrant side of this grape. Delicate floral notes abound in the nose, with nuanced jasmine and honeysuckle the predominant aromas. Crisp and clean on the palate, with white peach and pommelo flavors as well as an enticing mix of clover honey and chalky minerality.
This is everything I could want from this grape variety- richness, complexity, depth and vibrant acidity on the finish. Green apple, tangerine and lime zest notes mix with a creamy and delicious note that reminded me of a peach cobbler with a little vanilla ice cream on top. Steely acidity and ample minerality washed through to the extended finish.
A very nice little wine with a dark, earthy and spicy nose with lots of dry rocks, dust and a little raisiny note underneath. The palate is full and round, with lots of earthy complexity, a dark and smoky note, some caramel and oak and some rich cassis fruit. A real crowd pleaser for $16. Di Majo Norante has single-handedly brought back the wine world from this neglected area along the Adriatic coast.
A fantastic wine. Aromas that ranged from dry earth and suboise to sweet spices and ripe red fruit to foie gras and roasted mushrooms. Very perfumed on the palate, with almost sweet red fruit and a camphor and lanolin aspect. Silky and smooth with a fine texture and soft, velvety tannins. I can only imagine how much better this will be in ten years.
A very dark and brooding style of Sangiovese, with cigar box and blackberry aromas that lead to a palate filled with dark fruit, dry earth, fine tannins and a slow roasted tomato note. The finish turned hard, dry and tannic. Perhaps a product of overextraction? Regardless, for the $50 price tag I would head to Brunello or a Vino Nobile Riserva.
A blend of Nebbiolo and Barbera from some of Giorgio Rivetti's better vineyards, the 2004 Pin was sleek, elegant and very well made. Dark but balanced aromas of sweet fruit and a smoky/ animal note that I get from well made barberas. The palate was ripe, soft and round, with a nice mix of earth, perfume and a salty mineral note on the finish. More open and generous than I expected. Tasty.
The 2005 Syrah Alpha from the Apalta Vineyard is one of my favorite wines year in and out. Smoky, spicy and seductive, with a nose that reaches out of the glass like a purple-hued siren, beckoning the thirsty traveller in for a sip. Flavors that range from tobacco and cigar box to rich blackberries to sweet perfume are bound by chewy tannins. Always more wine than the price tag suggests.
The 2005 Classic Series Merlot was a delightful and inexpensive reason to come back to Merlot, with hints of cocoa, baking spices and black fruits on the nose followed by a palate that was soft, silky and varietally correct.
The 2004 Cabernet Torre Mellotti is a great alternative to the everyday Cabernet. Fragrant and soft, with a nice mix of classic Cab cassis along with more of a perfumed note than one usually finds in this grape variety, it was also priced to sell at only $15.99.
This wine brought an accessibility and easy style to the table that is not often found in young Amarone. Aromas of dark red fruits, smoke, caramel and dried leather led to a palate that was filled with black plums, dark chocolate and spices. Though a touch oaky at this point, the chewy tannins proclaim a wine built for the cellar.
The 2001 La Bandina Valpolicella was a fantastic example of how fine a classic Valpolicella can be. Only select bunches of grapes are used, which are then air-dried Amarone-style for two to three weeks. A long fermentation and maceration follows, and then two years in classic French tonneaux. Broad, generous and open, with licorice, red fruits, baking spices and just a little oakiness to round things out. Though Amarone will always be king in this region, to overlook this style of wine would be a crime.
The 2005 Soave Monti Ceriani is sourced from vineyards located on the slopes of the mountain by the same name. The grapes are harvested at two separate times to preserve both the fresh acidity in this wine as well as the broad structure and richness. Grassy, brassy and fresh, the aromas ranged from orange peel and grapefruit to spring rain. The palate was rich, with ample citrus notes leading to a finish that crossed from marzipan to roasted almonds.
Rich and concentrated on the nose with a lovely currant note, lots of perfume, a sweet raisin aspect and also a little forest-floor undertone. The palate has lots of sweet and round red fruit as well as black currants, raisins and smoke. The finish is long and tannic, but there is enough acidity to maintain balance.
Super inky with lots of concentration, the '03 Palmeri was all over the map. The nose had fine elements of dark fruit, warm rocks and charred earth, as well as a slightly sour note, aromas of corn chips and alcohol heat. The palate is rich, round and chewy, with lots of dark, briary fruit leading to a finish that had so much dry oak that it tasted like a tongue depressor. Too erratic for me to recommend.
Beautiful on the nose with rich black currants, smoke, raisins, caramel and lots of violet perfume. The palate has weight, concentration and richness. Plenty of dark fruit as well as firm grape tannins. The finish ebbs and flows for a good 30 seconds.
Super expressive and decadent, with aromas of blood oranges, pears, lemon zest and honeysuckle. Big and rich flavors of pears, baked apples and baking spices. The fruit is almost sweet up front, but there is enough acidity on the back end to finish dry. Very, very rich and just a little hot from high alcohol on the finish.
Sweet red fruit aromas mix with notes of spice, tar and leather. The soft and subtle palate is filled with kirsch and framboise, along with chewy grape tannins and above-average acidity. A very restrained and decidedly old-world example of what this grape can do outside of Sicily.
A bright and cheerful wine that offered much more than I expected. Candied orange peel and ruby red grapefruit aromas lead into a palate that is very expressive. Lots of peach, mineral and red currant notes along with musk melon and vanilla. Medium-bodied, with elevated acidity and a fresh feel that led to a long finish.
Warm, friendly and delicious, the Pinot offers a harmonious blend of perfume and old stone earthiness on the nose matched with waves of classic Pinot black cherries on the palate. Hints of forest floor and smoke round out the finish, which has just a kiss of vanilla-scented oak at this point.
A really nice mix of styles, with elements of both old world and new. One the nose floral, peach and lime zest overtones also come with a hint of gravel. The palate holds some of the same, but with more of the minerality and fresh lime. More fruit than your average Aussie version, but more acidity than what is usually found in the Mosel or Rheingau. Very good. I continue to be impressed by aromatic grape varieties grown in the cool climate of New Zealand.
Smoky, citrusy and seductive, the '06 Allan Scott Sauv. Blanc is on par with previous vintages and contimues to be one of the better NZ Sauv. Blancs around. Crisp and clean on the finish, and with a touch more weight than the average.
What a rosé, if that is what you want to call it since the color is closer to the flesh of raw salmon than to any pink wine. Aromas jump from the glass in a wash of white peach, spicy herbs and a dash of orange zest. The palate is a long, slow churn of sweet raspberries and cream, along with nuances of chalky minerality, bright tangerine-tinged acidity and a finish that packs a wallop for such a light feeling wine. I was very impressed.
The 2004 Merlot may have been my favorite in this particular line up, as it was just an impeccably balanced wine. Aromas of ripe black fruits intertwine with dry earth, warm rock and a little dusty component. The flavors follow the same balance of earthy and fruity, but also add an element of rich dark chocolate and roasted herb. Chewy tannins and bright acidity on the finish lead me to believe a few years in the cellar would coax even greater nuance from this bottle.
A burly mix of ripe dark fruits, cassis, dusty tannins and a little tobacco and spice. Big and broad on both the nose and the palate, it is approachable now but the ample tannins could undoubtedly use some time in bottle to settle into themselves. Still, I found myself standing in another part of my house and still chewing on the long finish, all the while wondering why I had left my glass in the other room.
Though I am not the first to stand in line for California Chardonnay, the GunBun Chard was a delightful mix of richness, balance and complexity. Tropical and inviting on the nose, the aromas ranged from mango to lime zest and back through a little ripe pear. On the palate the wine was broad and creamy, with enough acidity to keep all of the richness in line.
A soft, silky, fruity and oaky Pinot, with sweet red fruit and a lot of perfume. Round in the mouth with a creamy and oaky finish. Pretty good, but there was a very slight sulphur smell on the nose that held this wine back.
Super perfumed on the nose with dried fruits, vanilla, violets, anise, red licorice, ripe red fruits and a little vanilla-scented oak. A touch of dry earthiness in there as well. The palate was very tight, with intense tannins and acidity, but underneath a wash of red and black fruits along with black pekoe tea, creamy oak and plenty of weight leading to a long, tannic and chewy finish. Tight as a drum right now, but all the elements are there for a classic wine.
A wild and exotic Champagne with an almost candied fruit note, the palate awash with ripe and round apple turnover, red licorice, lime zest and a touch of minerality. The finish was zippy, crisp and clean and provided a nice dry contrast to the abundance of fruit on the palate. Carmel, baked apples and sweet peas on the nose. Vueve is boring, drink this instead!
Beautiful in color with a rich amber hue. Rich and expressive aromas of peaches, mangoes, carmel and lime zest along with a distinctive floral component. Plush and fleshy feel with lots of tropical fruit, carmel, smoke, vanilla and intense minerality. A long finish is awash with almonds and limey acidity. Though this wine was almost sweet up front, it is balanced by plenty of acidity on the back end. Very good.
A very nice Pouilly, with cool aromas of tropical fruit and apricots along with some smoky pears. Rich and citrusy in the mouth with some mango and red delicious apples. Pleasing acidity adds balance on a long mineral-laden finish.
Some fennel, anise and ripe apricot aromas, but overall not very expressive on the nose. The palate is chewy and dense with more of the fennel and some baked apricot notes. A long finish with almond and smoke notes helps to salvage what was otherwise a flabby wine.
Nice aromas of dark fruit with hints of mint, pine and dark chocolate. The palate is smooth and silky with fresh black cherries, lots of spice and silky finish. Lots of typical acidity and some chewy tannins. An excellent job in what was a tricky vintage.
Lots of perfume on the nose with cloves, sweet spices, black cherries and plums and slightly oaky note. More of the same on the palate with rich black fruit, perfume and sweet spices. Just a little high alcohol heat, as well as some smoke and oak. At this point the wine was very big and tannic and could use some time in bottle to mature and soften.
Fan-freaking-tastic. A nose unlike anything I have ever tried. Star fruit, perfume, orchard blossoms, white peaches. Each whiff is a new aroma. Chewy and rich, with loads of pear, spices, minerals, candied orange peel, bananas, pleasing acidity and a very long finish. If I could only drink one white wine for the rest of my life this wouold be a candidate.
From the \'02 vintage, generally considered one of the worst in recent history for Chateauneuf. Beautiful nose filled with high-toned strawberry and red cherry mixed with floral notes and an almost chalky minerality. The palate is super silky and smooth, with lots of red fruit, star anise and flowers, along with hints of kirsch, more of the minerals and even a cream note. Intense acidity. A very long finish, but lacking the intensity of other Ch. Rayas wines.
A warm and spicy red that reaches out from the glass and almost gives you a big purple hug. Aromas of violets, old stone and plenty of spice over a bevy of dark fruits. The palate is awash with juicy black fruits, garrigue and a little barrel spice on a soft and supple frame. Warm and inviting and long on the finish. Tasty.
Produced only in the best years from a vineyard just to the southwest of the famed Bricco Boschis. A lovely mix of aromas, with bright and spicy notes of pine, rosemary and clove mixing with dark and brambly perfume and blackberries. Very complex! The palate is juicy and plush, with long, chewy tannins and an amazingly soft feel for a wine of such weight. Lots of spicy fruit character and lots of complexity. A wonderful and classicly correct Barolo.
Only produced in the best years from a vineyard located just to the southwest of Bricco Boschis, this wine had a very deep garnet hue. The nose was similar- deep dark and lovely. Lots of black fruit aromas, along with a note of sage, fresh topsoil and cherry blossom. Almost Amarone-like on the nose, but with lots of perfume. The palate was just about the juiciest burst of black cherries ever, along with rosehip and a super silky feel. Incredibly long, balanced and plush, along with rich and chewy tannins and just a touch of roasted earth.
Slightly lighter in color than many of its kin, with just a touch of a watery rim. The nose is a tidal wave of deep cherries, strawberries, perfume and silk. Light earthen notes and an old rock feel follow the wine down to aromas of pine, truffle and subois before a little spicy oak kicks in. What a complex set of aromas! The palate is plush and full of smooth fruit and chewy tannin. Long and longer, with splashes of spice, white pepper, juicy black cherries and some vanilla before the rich and creamy finish. Yogurt di Amarena? Wow!
Aromas of dried and fresh cherries mix with figs, dust and perfume. Very lovely nose to this wine. The palate is very tight at this time in both the acid and tannin department, but there are also notes of long black cherries, red raspberries and a dry oak note. Despite the tannins the wine remains light and fresh on the palate and sails into a dusty and salty earth note before the long finish. Very good.
Almost golden in color, like an aged Riesling. The nose of this wine was extremely floral, with notes of lilacs and jasmine, along with fresh peaches that came through with almost a Riesling-esque fruitiness. The palate was super silky and creamy, with peaches, cream and then creme brulee followed by a wave of bright acidity that was thoroughly unexpected in such a rich wine. A fantastic wine, and I wish I had more right now!
Deep garnet in color, and smoky and spicy on the nose. Just a little alcohol heat mingles with aromas of blackberries and dusty earth. On the palate more of the dry earth, with lots of dark fruit, cocoa and more of the smoky note. Just a little tight and tannic at the time of tasting, but then it had only been in the bottle for two months. Needs some time, but will be a winner in long run.
So dark and lovely in the glass, like looking into a garnet-colored black hole. On the nose this wine is a big fat wow! Tons of sage, spice and minty freshness over a basket of dark fruit and sweet spices. So much character, beauty, complexity and elegance. The palate is incredibly smooth, rich and delicious, with gobs of black cherries and raspberries along with notes of sweet spices, mint and tobacco. Chewy and ripe tannins add character, but they are balanced by plenty of acidity. This baby will do nothing but improve for the next 15 years. Be patient if you can stand it.
The more <I>new world</I> of the two non-reserve Brunello's from Poggio Antico as it is aged in French tonneaux, the Altero is bright and cheery on the nose, with cherries and black raspberry notes lingering over smoky and spicy hints of oak. Fruit forward on the palate, with lots of silky sweet spices, black cherries and blueberry pie. Long and lush, with a richness that is uncommon in young Brunello.
Shimmering garnet and purple color. This is the more traditional of the two non-reserve bottlings from Poggio Antico, and it has a fantastic aroma. Tobacco, espresso roast, lots of violet perfume, caramel, sweet spices and plenty of deep dark fruit aromas. The palate is juicy and rich with lots of dark fruit, espresso, dust and almost salty spices. Long and lush on the finish, with enough tannin to age for a long time. Well made.
A very nice introduction to a great vintage and a great winery, the '04 Rosso is a dusty and spicy wine, with lots of terroir, black cherries and cedar on the nose. The palate has lots of chewy red fruits, intense spiciness and plenty of tannin. More of the dust and earthy notes lead into a dry tobacco and bell pepper laden finish. Though Rosso's are known for early drinking this one could use some time in the cellar.
Deep and woodsy on the nose, with lots of pine, forest floor and truffle overlapping a layer of rich dark fruit. Perhaps a touch of a raisiny note as well. The palate is a lush blend of juicy black cherries and raspberries, along with sweet spices and a creamy texture. There is an excellent balance between acid and the still prevalent tannins. A well made wine and one for the cellar.
Mostly from Santa Barbara, but with a splash of juice from both Monterey and San Luis Obispo, this Babcock is very nice, though it could use some time to grow into itself. The nose holds lots of dark, smoky perfume, with black cherries and raspberries, mocha and vanilla, and plenty of oak. The palate holds more of the juicy black fruit and a good bit of dry oak, as well as a little alcoholic heat on the finish, which has just a touch of an almondy note. A little oxidation perhaps? Still, this juicy little Pinot also boasts enough acid to keep it balanced, but give it a little time for the oak to fade.
Dark golden in color. The nose is aromatic, with the tell-tale lychee, spice and candied fruit note that you would expect from one of the parents of Gewurztraminer, but there is also a green apple, pear and herb note that leads into dry earth and rock aromas. The palate is fleshy, but with crisp green apples, fresh peach and guava notes tied to a vein of bright acidity. Slightly weighty and creamy on the finish, with some almond, and very dry. Interesting and pretty tasty.
Beautiful color to this wine, like liquid gold in a glass. The nose is packed with powerful aromatics, with ripe roasted pineapple, vanilla, toast green apple and a smoky botrytis note. Plenty of acid on the nose too, as it almost made me drrol in anticipation of the taste. The palate is rich and complex, with lots of clover honey, toasty almonds, oak and even grape tannins. Wild and unevolved, this wine needs a little time in bottle to settle into itself, but the juice, flesh and flavors are all way ahead of schedule. Very impressive, and sure to be a fantastic wine in a year or two.
Rich and lovely upon 1st appearance, a promise of good things to come. Classic on the nose, with great intensity tied to elegance filled with lots o spice, tapenade and grenache fruitiness. The palate is a bushel of fresh black cherries mixed with a jar of homemade tapenade and herbs de Provence. Long and spicy, particularly on the finish which seems to go on forever. Still plenty of tannin and acidity, perhaps another couple of years in bottle will soften them even more, but this wine is at a great stage now and is ready to drink.
Light in color, with a cherry-red rim. The exact opposite on the nose as it is very dark, spicy, herbal and intense. Aromas of dark cherries, black fruits and a little bramble are tied into an intense old stone aroma. The palate holds a little high alcohol heat, but more dark fruits, vanilla and plenty of spice over a bed of chalk amd garrigue earthiness. Lots of grape tannins add to the texture, along with a little oakiness on the finish. Complex, intense and full of vigor.
Rich and viscous in appearance, the '05 Gigognan CdP blanc is a fresh and full example of why Rhône whites deserve more credit. Complex aromas of candied apricots, white flowers, pear and guava are supported by spicy pear flavors and a long almondy finish. It gained in perfulme and aromatics as the wine opened. Rich and spicy, but with fresh acidity on the finish and a lot of character.
An outstanding effort. The nose is just about as perfumed as it gets, with lovely rose petals, lilac and lavender. Add to this a mix of fresh red fruits, licorice and a frsh pine note and you have a soft and easy-going aroma that I could smell for days. The palate is very fresh and minty, with gobs of fresh black raspberries and cherries. So silky and elegant that it is almost Burgundian in feel, but not without chewy tannins and tingly acidity. Long and lush. Cellaring will reward you, but I know that I would have a hard time waiting.
Even the appearance of this wine suggests silk and elegance. The nose is ripe, round and refined, with black cherries, clove and truffle aromas and a whiff of a raisin/Amarone note. The palate is ripe, round and beautiful, with lots of perfume, rich red cherries and strawberries, along with pleasant acidity and lots of grape tannin. Enjoyable now, and sure to get better with a few years in the bottle.
One of the 8 different wines produced by Barolo greats who then donate the proceeds to charity, the L'Insieme from Elio Altare is a decidedly new world-styled wine. Lots of spice and dark fruit aromas, along with mint and pine. The palate is big, juicy and fruity. The new oak notes could use a little time to soften, but this wine is plush and soft enough to enjoy right away.
A blend of Barbera and Nebbiolo, the '03 La Villa is a dark and mysterious wine with loads of tobacco, white pepper and juicy blackberry aromas and flavors that range from rich black cherries to typical Barbera dustiness and tobacco followed by hints of new oak. The finish is long and chewy, with lots of acidity and tannin. Could use a year or two in the cellar.
Deep in color and extraction, this is a very ripe style of Dolcetto. Very expressive aromas range from black cherry to black raspberry and even a little blueberry. A little bramble and fresh herb add complexity. On the palate there is a tasty mix of lush black cherries, espresso and perfume. Rich, but with tingly acidity and a little wood tannin to provide structure. Overall a juicy and delicious Dolcetto.
Three decades and still holding strong! Only a slight change of color as the garnet fades through a dark brick and then glints of orange on the far rim. The nose is a complex blend of perfume (iris and violets), earth (truffle, dust and worn leather) and dried cherries, along with a molasses and burnt sugar note. On the palate there are waves of sage, vanilla scented oak, olives, perfume and a dusty gravel note, all of this over a layer of dried cherries and dark currants. A super silky and seductive texture mingles with still tanigible tannins as well as a splash of lemon-tinged acidity. Lots of life, lots of character, and a very impressive wine.
Lovely aromas of peaches, apricots, star fruit sourness, flowers and a note that reminds me of the butter left in the bottom of a pan after roasting apples. More of the same on the palate with nice acidity which keeps the wine form feeling heavy or overly sweet. There is also a caraway seed note that I got on both the nose and palate that reminded me more of rye bread than any wine I have ever had. Interesting to say the least.
Lovely dark color, and the nose is just the same with deep and dark fruits, along with a little dust and dry topsoil. The palate is typical Cab, with black currants, leather, vanilla and more dust. Pleasant acidity and tannins bring balance to the picture.
Not overly expressive on the nose, but there is a little pears and apples over a citrusy frame. The palate packs more of a punch with juicy pineapple, fruit cocktail and citrusy acidity. A touch of high alcohol heat is my only real complaint.
Spicy and creamy on the nose, with tons of baking spices that mix with fresh ripe oranges and a little rose perfume. The palate is similar, with more of the cream and spices, along with clover honey, orange peel and jasmine. A smooth texture is almost derailed by a splash of lime-tinged acidity, but the wine quickly recovers on the long finish. Give this a year in bottle for the elements to come together.
Lighter in color, with a slightly watery rim and some lovely pink hues that fade to crimson. Strawberry, raspberry and red cherry aromas mix with floral accents and a slightly savory note. One can almost smell the acidity. On the palate there is more of the bright red fruits, along with some toasty almond notes and chalky minerality. The finish starts with crisp acidity but glides into a smooth and lingering fruit finish.
Big and dark in color- It almost looks heavy. Dense, dark and smoky on the nose, with gobs of black fruits, violets and a black truffle note. The palate holds rich and slightly sweet red and black fruits, with an intense oaky note on the finish that is quickly swallowed up by the tongue-scouring dryness of volatile acidity. Too bad, because this wine had a lot going for it up until that point.
Pure and clean on the nose, with hints of both Granny Smith and Red Delicious apples, as well as a lovely peach blossom component. On the palate this wine is fairly ripe and round for the vintage, with some creamy peach and mineral notes that lead to a long finish that ranges from the slight oxidative note of almonds and then into a touch of old oak. Tasty.
Pretty burnt cherry color, with just a touch of darker hues. Super expressive nose filled with vanilla, cream, juicy red and black fruits, and an almost candied cherry note. Super smooth on the palate, with considerable weight. Pretty red cherries and currants lead to a long and minerally finish that boasts a nice combination of grape tannin and acidity. Pretty tasty stuff.
Lovely and deep golden in color. Very tropical aromas of pineapple, cream, coconut, lanolin and white flowers cascade from the glass. The palate is slightly lighter in weight, with a fine yin and yang of tropical (pineapple, almonds and caramel) and citrus (lime, lemon zest and orange juice). A splash of acidity from the mid palate onwards keeps this wine feeling fresh and light. Very nice.
A warm and juicy red. Black and blue fruit aromas mix with medicinal, green herb and chocolate notes, along with a slightly earthy tone. There is a little heat from high alcohol on the nose as well, which can also be found on the palate. Ripe and round in the mouth, with juicy black fruits, toasty oak and more of the herbal and slightly medicinal notes, but not in an entirely bad way. Soft and chewy, but with a hard vein of acidity, which turns slightly volatile, but not enough at this point to be too troublesome.
This is the second bottle we have reviewed. While it is an improvement over the last, there are still problems to be had. The nose is nice, with pleasant strawberry, raspberry and cherry cola aromatics, which slide into a sweet vanilla charater. The palate is a melange of chewy black fruits that lead to a long finish. But the tingly spectre of volatile acidity is still lurking in this bottle of wine. While it is more of a eerie feeling than a downright haunting this time around, it is still a flawed wine.
Deeply colored red with purple hues. A smooth and cool nose of blackberries and blueberries mixed with some floral accents, almond skin, and a slight dry earth note. On the palate this wine is full, chewy and smooth, with lots of vanilla and almond nuttiness, along with juicy blueberries and black cherries. Juicy and high toned acidity is the only thing keeping this wine from sliding into the "overripe" category, but overall a pretty tasty and complex little wine.
Warm aromas of ripe melon, pear, figs, nuts, and bright clean apple flavors. The palate is ripe and fresh with pears, clover honey, caramel and citrus fruits. Rich, but with a dry finish that positively tingles on the tongue. A touch of Volatile Acidity perhaps? Either way, an enjoyable wine.
Thick, dark and inky in the glass. The nose holds sweet black fruits, smoke and a little black pepper. What is this? Shiraz? The palate is thick and chewy as well, with smooth black fruits, lots of new oak, and a little tobacco, which lead to a soft yet slightly short finish. Not bad.
Grapefruit, gooseberry and green. The three g's of the nose of this wine, with mouthwatering acidity, star fruit, melon and honeysuckle. Juicy and bright flavors of the usual grapefruit, but also red apple and a smooth feel that belies the high level of acidity. Creamier on the palate than the nose suggests, and it feels as if it is missing something mid-palate.
Dark depths of color clings to the sides of the glass, with a thick and chewy-looking feel. One the nose there are floral aspects and a little tar and bramble, but what stood out the most was a pastry aspect that some thought was cherry pie, others blackberry turnover. The palate leads off with white pepper then heads for juicy fruits, earthen tones and a long slightly oaky, slightly almondy finish. A nice mix of tannins and acidity to provide balance.
Red currants, mint and spice box aromas dance over a frame of cool yet rich black fruits and tobacco. A little oaken aromas also waft in and out. On the palate this wine is smooth and ripe, with chewy and intense tannins, more of the cool black fruits, oak, roasted herbs, and a nice splash of scidity for balance. Good, but wow is this tightly wound.
Bright purple in the glass with lovely extraction. On the nice there are gobs of super ripe black cherries, black plums, brioche and a tar and perfume aspect. The palate follows suit with black fruits, a little peppery zing and chewy grape tannins. Some excellent definition and structure to this wine, but overall a fruit bomb in need of a little more complexity.
More ripe than expected, with aromas of orange blossom, green apple, cool minerality, and a very long and perfumed elegance. On the palate there is lime, lime zest, green apple and even a little pear which then lead to a cream and almond aspect which is quite tasty. Long on the finish with lots of acidity. A great food wine.
Long black fruit on the nose with a little mint and menthol to round things out. Cool black fruit flavors mingle with tobacco and cedar-tinged oak. Prevalent grape tannins are the first brick in this structured wine, which also has fine acidity and some oak tannins as well. Not spectacular, but for only $9 well worth it. I continue to find great value from the Gum Bear winery, and recommend their wines for those looking for inexpensive and good, if uncomplicated wines.
Super fruity on the nose, with lots of blackberries, plums and blueberries witha splash of red currant thrown in along with some fresh herb notes. On the palate there are buschels of juicy red fruits and a little grape tannin, but not much else to be had. Still, an enjoyable bistro wine, and at this price a great value.
Deeply colored purple, with lovely extraction. Very ripe aromas of sweet black fruits mix with notes of asphalt and violet-tinged perfume. The palate holds intense grape tannins, along with lots of spices that range from the mundane cinnamon to the exotic garam masala. Rich black fruits, brioche and pastry notes give a blackberry pie note, before almost crisp acidity comes crashing in. Very tight at this point and in need of some aging.
Beautiful and dark in color, with almost blank and inky depths. Giant and expressive on the nose, with espresso raost, prunes, fresh black fruits, tar and tons of spices. The palate starts with a bevy of ripe black fruits, and then simmers into what is as close to a pot roast that I have tasted from anything other than pot roast. Seriously. Black cherries, meat, butter, spices, espresso and intense grape tannins. Wow, if it is this good now, what will it be like in ten years?
Very light in color, alomst pink. On the nose there is more weight than the color suggests with sweet cherry fruit, pastry notes and a slightly vegetal character. On the palate there is more traditional high acid Pinot Noir fruit, with intense and bright red raspberries, a little rhubarb and red currants, with a slightly chewy texture.
An interesting and very young Chardonnay, with unresolved Carbon Dioxide present even upon observation. The nose is toasty and nutty, with pears, pears and more pears, leading into a little canned peaches, almonds and honeysuckle aromas. The palate confirms the CO2 observation, so there is a little tingle and spritz to this firecracker, but also floral aspects, pears, bananas and an intense nutty characteristic that reminded me of roasted peanuts at the baseball game. Smooth and chewy on the finish, with crisp acidity. Needs some time to grow into itself.
Lighter in color, with a slightly pinkish hue and just a little of a watery rim. Soft yet rich nose of stewed red fruits, fresh cherries and raspberries, chunky earthen notes and a slightly smoky aspect which mingles over spices. On the palate things go a little haywire, as there is some sweet red fruits and perfume which lead into a longer finish, but the texture is all wrong. Seriously tingly acidity suggest either a slight secondary fermentation in bottle or some hard core volatile acidity. All tingle + no silk = not so hot Pinot.
Big chocolate covered cherry fruit, wood smoke, charcoal and raisin aromas mix over just a touch of the tarry aspect so lovely in Aussie Shiraz. The palate is smooth and chewy, with white pepper, spicy vanilla and oak. A splash of juicy black cherries linger on the finish. Good, but not great.
Spicy and intense on the nose, with dark cherries, blueberry pastry, nutmeg and cinnamon, along with a creamy and rich feel that sinks into an earthen note of clay. Black cherries, savory herb, pepper and more of the blueberry pastry notes fill the palate before the acidity and grape tannins come sliding through. Super silky and smooth, with only slight hints of oak on the long finish.
Almost clear, with a shimmer across the surface of the wine. Aromatic and ripe on the nose, with a candied fruit aspect that slides from fruit cocktail to ripe peaches to brioche to apricot tart, with a whiff of white flowers thrown in. On the palate there is plenty of canned peaches, star fruit, pineapple, pears and tingly acidty, all wrapped by a satiny texture. Long, minerally and unique. Very good.
Watery white in color, with a slight shimmer. The nose has the usual NZ Sauv. Blanc suspects (grapefruit, starfruit, a little gooseberry) but also lime zest, acacia flowers and orange blossom. Green apple, lime, grapefruit and a slight almond oxidative note float on a creamy frame. Dry, but with slightly more action than the usual NZ Sauvignon, leading into a long mineral laden finish.
Dark in color with a rich extraction that sticks to the glass. The nose is spicy and dusty with dried red fruits, plum, blackberries and a dry topsoil earthiness. On the palate this wine exhibits salty minerality, chalk, juicy black and red fruits and a touch of new oak. The tannins are fairly ripe, and overall this is a pretty tasty offering.
Super aromatic nose, with honeydew, peaches and tangerine, as well as a heavy and lingering perfumed aroma. The palate is similar, with a slight almond and cream note, followed by smoke, anise, melon and juicy apricots. The finish is not without acidity, but a little more would have been nice.
Lots of pink and purple in the glass, with a serious blue tint. The nose is ripe and syrupy, with gobs of red fruits and perfume. Smells like a raspberry pie, dipped in perfume. On the palate there are red cherry and currant notes, along with stones, minerals and a little lemony acidity. Grape tannins and some dry oak round out the finish, but there is no continuity to this wine. It feels out of phase.
Light cherry color, with just a hint of a pink tinge to the rim. On the nose there is a zesty plum and cherry feel, mixed with mint, eucalyptus and orange zest. The palate is similar with sweet cherry and plum fruits, some spice and a lovely fresh orange juice character. Just a little almond on the finish. More fruity than sweet, but just barely.
A nice nose on this Sangiovese, but the sweet red fruit, plum, dried cherry and floral aromas are probably the most enjoyable aspect of this wine. On the palate there is a combination of roasted roma tomatoes, dried cherries and a soapy and oaky finish that thankfully ends quickly. Hard to argue against the price, but hard to argue for the wine as well.
Still sporting a lovely garnet color, with only a slight brick and fade on the edges. Finessed and long aromas of ripe currents and cherries, along with hints od dry wood, dust and roasted muchrooms. The palate was filled with sweet red fruits, dried cherries and spice, but also intense dry acidity and wood tannins. The finish is long and supple at first, but fades to green olives and cedar. Very good, but don't wait too much longer on this one.
Very bright in garnet color, with just the slightest fade. Beautiful on the nose, with ripe and fresh fruits, currants, brown sugar and the slightest olive note. Flavors of blueberries, currants and fresh herbs dance over a silky and chewy frame. Warm and toasty, yet refined and super smooth. I could smell it for days.
Very perfumed nose, with aromas of lavender, rose and lilac floating above a core of black currants and cassis before an earthy, truffle and raisin note. The palate is also very perfumed, but the fruits are more bright and high-toned, with cherries, raspberries and currants mixed with cedar, subois and chewy tannins. Smooth, and more plush than usual.
Ah, the bounty of the 2003 Bordeaux. Warm and inviting aromas of blackberries, violets, fresh lavender and barrel spice mix with not as friendly notes of French oak and a little heat. Very round and rich on the palate, with gobs of rich cassis and black currants, chewy tannins and cedar. Missing the cool earth feel of a fine Bordeaux, but certainly something the U.S. crowd will enjoy.
Light red to garnet in color. Complex aromas of juicy red fruits, blackberries, dark chocolate, flowers and even a touch of barn. Flavors of juicy black fruits mingle with almonds, cedar, dried herb and some alcohol heat. Tangible wood tannins slide into a decidedly oaky finish, but overall pretty complex.
Watery white with a shimmer across the surface of the wine. Aromas of lemon curd, fresh herbs, spring grass and a touch of gooseberry. The palate has a little more intensity with flavors of lemon, dried herbs, juicy tangerine and a little more of the grassiness. Crisp and light.
Very dark in color, with deep crimson fading to black. On the nose there is a lovely mix of high-toned black fruits with mocha, cedar, cassis, raisins, blackberries and new oak. On the palate the wine is a pleasant problem. Is it soft with the easy to love and juicy black fruits and cassis? Or is it big and brooding with the large tannins? A little of both, with notes of dry wood, earth, cassis, kirsch, blueberries, pastry and cedar leading to a long and lingering finish.
Super ripe and cedary on the nose, with black cherries, cassis and juicy blackberries. The palate is smooth, ripe and round, with lots of ripe dark fruits, sage and cedar. Full grape tannins lead into a long, spicy and oaky finish. Good, but this wine needed a little more complexity to be thought of as "great." Perhaps with time...
Light garnet in color. A lovely little bistro wine, with juicy black fruits, milk chocolate and black cherries on the nose, followed by a palate that is more of the same. Fruity, juicy, soft and easy, with touches of cedar and pleasing acidity. Not a wine to ponder, but certainly one to enjoy.
High toned and nervous aromas of white flowers, summer grass, citrus and fresh peach. The palate is further evolved, with hints of peaches, apples, some tasty honey, flowers and an almond laden finish. Nicely textured white with plenty of acidity and a long finish.
Elisabetta Foradori's reserve bottling of Teroldego, one of Italy's forgotten grapes. The color of black cherries, with excellent extraction. One of the finest set of aromatics I have had the pleasure of inhaling. Big black cherry, dark flowers, minerals, subois, warm roasted herb and white truffles. So, so complex. The palate has a lovely blend of sweet cherry fruit, roasted herb and spices. Silky and smooth, but with firm tannins and a little dry oak. Perhaps the palate needs to catch up to the aroma, but an amazing wine nonetheless.
Lighter in color, with just the slightest pink fade on the watery rim. On the nose this wine has plenty of character, with a deep and dark core of truffle, ash, smoke and cheese rind. Smokey and earthy on the palate, but with more fruit, tangible grape tannins, and new oak. Ash, smoke, chalk and a long finish. Loads of character, but where was the fruit on the nose? Hopefully just in need of some time.
Ripe and round aromas of black cherries, tar, roasted mushrooms and forest floor dominate. Lighter and less brooding on the palate, with sweet red cherries, pie crust, roasted mushrooms and a silky texture. Like a warm cherry pie. With a little oak. Warm pie with oak. Yup.
A fun little Pinot Gris, with aromatic elements of smokey pear, star fruit, ripe apricots and a slight floral component. On the palate there is a nice blend of red and green apples, cream, peaches and a slight almondy oxidative note. Pleasant acidity and a little minerality on the finish add character to the mix.
Warm red and black currants on the nose, with dashes of oak and black cherry. The palate has more intensity, with thick red cherry fruit, cassis, cedar and black currant flavors mingle with silky and chewy tannins. Decent, but not complex. If you are looking for a fruity and easy drinking Cab, here you are.
Lots of rich black fruit on this wine, with blackberry, blueberries and baked black plums on the nose. The palate is big, plush and rich and follows suit to the nose with rich black fruits, boysenberry and dark chocolate. Just a touch of chewy tannins, but mostly just a soft and silky wine.
Dark and opaque in color. The intense nose has a dusty and tarry component, as well as black pepper, gunsmoke, black cherries and juicy, ripe blackberries. The palate is also on the earthen side, with smoke, bacon fat saltiness, white pepper and barnyard components mixing with more of the lush blackberries. Somewhere in the middle a slight note of V.A. mixes with a flinty, rocky note. A long and ashy finish lays overtop of pleasant grape tannins.
Dark and purple in the glass. The nose is lacking intensity, but complex aromas of raspberries, blueberries and orange zest mix with notes of smoke, violets and toasty oak. The palate is more direct with warm black fruits, pastry crust and a white pepper finish. Nice mix of fruit and earth with a rich feel and good tannins, but a slightly chalking and cloying note detracts from the overall feel.
Light in color, almost fuchsia and transparent. The nose has a nice blend of perfume and fruit, with light plums, blueberries and raspberries leading into a floral component and finally a touch of smoke and earth. The palate has a tight mix of raspberries, cherries, roasted mushrooms and subois. The finish is long and starts in a carmel and almond mood but quickly turns to enough new wood to make me swear I had a tongue depressor in my mouth. Too bad, because it was very nice up until then.
Super dark and extracted color, like a glass of purple ink. Expressive and intense on the nose, with elements of tar, sweet black fruits, rose, melted rubber and smoke. The palate follows suit, with a gigantic juicy splash of ripe black fruits, vanilla, oak, tar and a beefy element that reminded me of a well made brisket. Some acidty provided a little balance, but also the slight tingle of volatile acidity reared its ugly head. The finish was filled with monster tannins and fruit. A beast now, but a lot of promise for the future.
Earthy and gamey on the nose, with tar, bacon fat, herb, scorched earth and some black and red fruits throw in for good measure. The palate has more fruit, with ripe blackberries, black cherries and some tar and smoke before a long and oaky finish. An excellent effort in a tough vintage, but the intensity expected from this producer never materialized.
The light red color and pink fade speak of the weight of this wine. Aromas of high-toned red raspberries, cherries, strawberries and coffee lead to a palate reminiscent of a nice toasty cherry pie. Lots of cherries, some vanilla, a slightly roasted fruit character and a healthy splash of acidity. Simple, but decent.
A very lovely wine. The nose is beautiful, filled with long curranty fruit and red raspberries on the top leading into a raisin, cognac, carmel and Amarone-esque feel on the bottom. The palate is big and soft, with excellent soft black fruits, cigar box and a touch of leather. Balanced acidity and tannins round out the picture. A lot of wine.
An interesting wine. The nose displayed plenty of soft and ripe red and black fruit up front, followed by a deeper aromatic sensation of tar dried sage. The palate was a mix of the fruit, tar, oaky vanilla, and a slight salty character brought on by more of the dried herb element. Is this a Cab Franc, or a light Syrah that has lost its way? High toned acidity and tannins on the finish added more to the mystery than to the wine. But like I said, interesting.
Not an overly complex wine, but enjoyable. The nose is a big bush of brambly black fruit intertwined with cocoa and thyme. The palate has a similar style with more of the brambly black fruits and bitter chocoalte thrown in. The most impressive feature of this wine were the stiff yet chewy tannins found on the back end, an element not normally found in Merlot. Perhaps complexity will come with age?
A slightly out of balance wine with a cool fruit nose that slings a little pear, lime and green apple, but also heavy notes of guava and even banana. The palate is more of the same, starting with crisp elements of acidity and citrus and then working in some cream and new oak. A metallic element in mid-palate was unattractive at best.
Silken and seductive from beginning to end. Aromas of peach blossom, toffee, cigar box, cinnamon and honey, followed by a palate that is a study in gracefulness and intensity. Honey, salted almonds, candied orange peel, butter, toffee, coffee and vanilla flavors lead in to a long and lingering finish. Sweet, but not overly so. A burst of fresh lime right in mid palate ties this beauty to a mix of sweet, spice and citrus. Very nice.
Purple and garnet with a slight pink hue to the rim. On the nose this wine offers a melange of purple flowers (lilac, lavender and violets), black plum, blackberries, fresh herb and a warm note that at one point reminded of freshly-made popcorn. The palate is similar with the fruit, but also adds nice weight, intense grape tannins, a stony minerality and some of the famous latent Rhône heat, as if the <I>galets</I> were in my glass. A long finish matched well with the balanced acidity, but either decant or come back in a few years.
Golden hued with a slight brass note, like a cross between an old brass bed frame and an old wedding band. The nose is lively, expressive and heavily perfumed with notes of apricots, almonds, acacia flowers and blueberries. Flavors of cream, coconut, pineapple, walnuts and more of the floral component lead to a rich and silky finish. There is a touch of alcohol heat, but not enough to be offensive. The finish boasts just enough acidity to keep the wine in line.
Just a fantastic effort, and a truly surprising wine. The color is medium garnet, with very little intensity, and speaks of a light wine. So wrong, so wrong. The nose positively bursts with black cherries, spice box, tobacco, coffee and vanilla-tinged oak. The palate is a powerful blend of fruit, earth, game, tar, spice and violets, intermingled with supple tannins and oak. The only thing holding this wine back was the alcohol heat on the nose. Still, a lovely wine.
From the old Biondi Santi vineyards, some of the first in Montalcino, this wine is a testament to the quality of old-fashioned Brunello. A slight brick forming on the edge of the glass speaks of the age and the oak maturation. The nose is a lovely mix of raspberries, cherries, leather, dust, subois and soft oak. The palate follows true to form, but the real attraction is the silky and supple texture of this beuaty. Chewy enough on the tannins to still hold the title of "big" but velvety enough to say "elegant." Speaking of chewy, this wine had a lot of throw for it's age, so drink now, but only after decanting.
Very bright in the glass with an almost clear hue and a platinum shimmer on the surface. The first impression of this wine is the bright and mouthwatering acidity on the nose, which is followed by lime zest, peach blossom, cotton candy and a slightly oxidative note often found in Chenin. The palate has a silky and creamy texture, with notes of winter melon, almonds, lemon curd, clover honey, pear and burnt sugar. The finish is a long bath of smoky vanilla, hinting at oak, though this wine saw none. Isn't it great when the grape does the talking?
Lovely color known as the eye of the Partridge. On the nose there are restrained warm strawberries, raspberries, cinnamon and paprika. The apalate is a little more bold, with notes of cream, strawberries, raspberries, hazelnut and roasted herbs. There is a slight oak presence, but nothing that can take away from the creamy and silky texture of this wine. A fine and consistent producer of rosés, year in and year out.
Light straw in color with a touch of viscosity. Super expressive on the nose with almonds, apricots, clover honey, mangoes, cinnamon and orange zest. The palate is just as big, with notes of coconut, pineapple, orange zest and a long and cramy finish filled with almond paste. Like dipping an almond pastry into an orange brulee, except with enough acidity to keep it from feeling sweet.
An absolutely fantastic nose on this wine! Very expressive and big, and positively dripping with aromas of blackberries, black cherries, currants, dried cherries and tar. The palate is a touch more restrained but offers a nice blend of dried and fresh black fruits, along with leather, dust and a touch of smoke. Big, chewy and long, with an overload of grape and oak tannins. Better let this sit for a couple of years.
Lovely hue of ripe black cherries in the glass. The nose is a melange of ripe, red fruits, leather, topsoil and baked tomatoes. The palate holds true to form, along with an elegant dustiness that is so pleasant in a good Chianti. Superbly structured, with enough tannins and acidity to satisfy both sides of the equation. Silky and soft on the finish, which turns to olives and leather on the very end.
Birght red raspberries and cherries on the nose, with hints of dust and leather, but not promises of such things. The palate is light and fruity, with more of the light red fruits as well as a touch of almonds and a splash of acidity. A fine red for the summer, but if it were cold outside this would not be the one to warm your bones.
Beautiful deep garnet tone. The extraction and viscosity on the sides of the glass speak of a heavy and rich wine, but this Cab remains elegant and balanced. Black cherries, cedar, currants, sage and tobacco mix together seemlessly on both the nose and the palate. The tannins are very firm, but there is enough fruit to keep the wine from feeling austere. The lingering finish starts in tobacco and moves through a green olive component and ends with a little cinnamon-inspired oak.
Supple, rich and rewarding. In the glass the wine has a hue of spun gold. The nose is expressive, with notes of lemon zest, golden delicious apples and mango. Aromas of sweet spices hint of heavy oak, but it never plods or feels heavy. The palate is a gigantic bowl of lemon cream, with hints of white peaches and barrel spice. Unctuous and rich, yet with just enough acidity to keep it feeling fresh. Very nice.
A silky smooth wine from top to bottom. Smoky and deep on the nose with mocha, juicy black fruits and a roasted quality that reminds me of gravel rocks on a hot summer day. On the palate the wine is soft and smooth, with elements of sweet black raspberries, oak and milk chocolate. Balanced acidity and chewy tannins round out a nice wine. Only a slightly raisiny note kept it from being more highly rated.
A real crowd-pleaser of a wine, from the inky extraction on the sides of the glass to the classic currant and cassis nose filled with plums, mint, spice and flavor. Smells like cinnamon toast soaked in a fruity Lalande-de-Pomerol. The palate is lush and round, yet has a nice balance of acidity, oak and tannins. More California in flavor with sweet spices such as cloves and cinnamon mixing with a healthy dose of kirsch. Tasty goodness.
Looks like a glass of black cherry skins, with medium levels of weight and extraction. On the nose this wine is mysterious. At first there is a burst of vanilla and cocoa powder aromas mixed with dates and plums, but pull a little harder from the glass and a slightly green and medicinal edge forms. At first a mix of light fresh herbs and spice, but it progresses towards mint and then menthol. Effusive and complex, but not entirely enjoyable. The palate is better with bright cherries and raspberries up front that switch to elements of roasted coffee beans, savory herbs and some vanilla-tinged oak. Hearty grape and wood tannins request a little bottle time, but the silky texture begs for current enjoyment.
A lovely golden color fills the glass. The nose is filled with fat pears and baked apricots, along with red delicious apples, coconut milk, vanilla, toast and the cinnamon smell found in dark chocolate. The palate is similar, and cetainly plush and silky, but also with more acidity than expected. Baked peaches, more of the tropical fruits, and a nice chalky feel that may not be Chablis but certainly is terroir. Savory herbs lead to a long and smoky finish.
Ineteresting from the get go, there are things about this wine that scream typical and unorthodox. Typical Riesling shimmer in the glass, but with a slightly more golden color than most. The nose is full of pears, stones, grapefruit and green apple with a faint whiff of petrol. Am I in the Nahe? But on the palate we travel back to CA with more of the pears and green apples, but also almond oil, cream, cinnamon and a little smoke. Plush, viscous and rich, but with just enough acidity on the finish. Like a lime creme brulee, if there are such things. Could have been a little lighter on its feet, but overall very nice.
Lovely and golden in color, with a nice shimmer on the surface. The aromas are a melange of pears, kiwi fruit and lime zest. One can almost smell the acidity. The flavors are frsh and bright, with more of the lime, but also a touch of red delicious apple, tropical fruits and an almost Chenin-like honeysuckle blossom, honey and almond characteristic. The finish is long and slightly oaky, but there is enough acidity to keep the wine from feeling bogged down or plodding. Could use some time, but pretty good now.
Dark, dark and darker. A beautiful color of violet and deep crimson colors slide silkily around the glass, depositing plenty of extraction along the way. The nose is expressive, with notes of red cherries, clackberries, currants, barrel spice and oak. But it is on the palate that this wine really shines. Gobs of rich black fruits mix with violets, bramble and what the smell of a cedar chest just before you remove your sweater would taste like if it were a taste. Plenty of oak, with notes of vanilla, cinnamon and clove. Very finely textured, with a silky and lobg finish that dances between fruit, tannins and oak.
Rich, unctuous and silky, the botrytis-affected Violetta is a monumental dessert wine. On the nose the honey and floral component rocks! Clover honey, honeysuckle, other honey & flower combos that are yet to be invented. The palate has an intense vanilla and almond characteristic that could almost lay claim to a touch of oxidation. Brulee, peach syrup and orange peel round out the flavor profile, with a long and seductive finish. Very, very nice.
Even in the glass this wine looks juicy, with a pleasant dark garnet rim that fades to depth of violet and then purple. The nose is pleasantly fruity, with hints of blackberries and chocolate mixed with a certain cinnamon spice character. Fleshy and supple on the palate, with more of the chocolate and spice, but also black plums, blackberries and anise. Long and chewy tannins provide more spice to the mix. This wine is excellent now but will also improve with time.
Structured and intense for a Sauvignon Blanc, with ripe mango, lime zest and a certain minerality on the nose, followed by a palate plush with lemon curd, quince, fig and acidity. Supple and rich, yet zesty and crisp on the finish, my only complaint with this wine was the latent heat created by high levels of alcohol. This was not enough for me to call this wine unenjoyable, but it was enough to keep it from being great.
A powerful wine, but not in the way that one usually thinks when sampling a California Zin. Thick in the glass with lots of weight and extraction. The nose is bursting with blueberries, toast, dried black currants and bittersweet chocolate. Flavors of juicy red cherries dominate, along with more of the blueberries and even a splash of cranberry-inspired acidity. A wave of toast and vanilla sweeps through in mid-palate, but it is gone before any thought of oak can cloud your tongue. The finish is long and complex, but right now is overpowered by intense grape tannins. Who says that Zinfandels don't have the guts to age?
From one of the forgotten grapes of Italy, the Teroldego is known for producing rich and exciting reds, and this wine doesn't disappoint. Ripe and spicy with a velvety texture, the Foradori is a melange of black cherries, ripe black plums, pepper, cinnamon and clove, with more than a splash of acidity that cleanses the palate after each sip. The tannins are soft, so I wouldn't wait too long on this wine, but right now it is an outstanding effort from what is generally considered a tough vintage for northern Italy.
Oro de Plata is loosley translated as "gold from silver" as this wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks until dry with no malolactic fermentation. Light and cristal clear in color, like a German Kabinett. The nose is crisp and refreshing, with citrus notes, pears and Red Delicious apples. The palate is awash with fresh acidity, lemon curd, green apple, pears and fragrant white flowers. Very expressive pure Chardonnay fruit.
Soft and subdued on the nose with some tropical fruits, sulfur and petrol. But it is on the palate that this wine really shines. Big and expressive flavors of roasted pineapple, apricots and peach syrup. Brioche, vanilla, cinnamon, and a faint hint of petrol round out a nice little dessert wine for the money. A nice balance of acidity and sweetnes.
Fresh and fruity, with star fruit, juicy lime and even some tropical notes such as pineapple and mango. There is a touch of the usual New Zealand gooseberry, and certainly some acidity, but overall this Kiwi offering is closer in style to California than anywhere else. Very round.
Aromas of lime zest, minerals, gooseberry and star fruit mix with peaches and orange zest. On the palate this wine has a nice mix of old world and new, with lime, minerality and a pleasant earthy chalkiness, but also round apricot and peach jelly flavors. More dry and crisp than a Mosel Kabinett, but more round than a Clare Valley offering. Nice.
Inky and black in the glass, typical of this varietal. Big and fat blackberry nose with some of the herby quality common to Petite Sirah. Smells like a blackberry turnover sprinkled with oregano. Very ripe fruit on the palate, with gripping grape tannins and some acidity. Typical of the varietal and not bad, but missing something.
A serious and well-made Zinfandel. Rich and extracted, with aromas of mocha, chocolate, baked blackberries, vanilla and black pepper that blend seemlessly into flavors of pepper, rich and sweet black fruits, cinnamon, vanilla and just the slightest bit of bramble. Ripe, but not syrupy or sweet. Well-balanced.
Deep red with a slightly pink exterior in appearance. A parade of expressive fruit aromas that range from candied and sweet to dried with raspberries, cherries and red plums leading into a roasted mushroom aspect. On the palate there is more of the sweet red fruits followed by milk chocolate. Like a chocolate covered cherry, except with grape tannins. A little over the top, but still pretty good.
Whoa French oak! Cinnamon, nutmeg and other fall spices mingle with cedar and bright red fruits on the nose, with hints of gravel and sweet flowers in the background. The palate is a little more complex with red currants, plums and dust mixed with French oak. Tannins, oak and Autumn spices go on for quite a while. There are plenty of acids and tannins on the finish, so give this one a little time.
Light garnet in color, but certainly not light in flavor! Lovely aromas of red and black raspberries, baked cherries, light topsoil and white truffles linger above the glass. The palate has a nice mix of red raspberry, red currants and dust over savory herbal accents. Long and slightly tannic for a Dolcetto, but with none of the pruny aspect found in some '03s.
Beautifully colored with rich pigmentation and extraction. On the nose this wine is soft and round with hints of ripe blackberries, cocoa and dust. The palate is silky smooth with lots of warm black fruits, cocoa, and toast leading to a finish filled with oak, barrel spices and tannins. Decent, but not very complex.
Further proof that the excellent vineyards of Montepulciano can compete with any in Italy. A big and youthful wine filled with aromas that range from chocolate, cocoa and spice to fresh and dried red cherries to mint and cedar and finally wind up in the world of olives and leather. The palate is a bit more restrained as of now with olives, leather, roasted fruit compote and a nice combination of tannins and acids. While it could use some time in bottle, this is certainly a great "food" wine now.
The rich golden color of this wine just screams heavy. The nose is huge and expressive, with melon, apple butter and cream mixed with a citrusy note. On the palate this wine is just as big and rich. Butter, toast, baked apples, pineapple and perhaps a little mango thrown in for good measure. Long on the finish, with oak and a little heat from the alcohol. If you like big, heavy-handed Chardonnays this Bud's for you!
Still very light in color after 5 years in bottle, this youthful '99 starts with aromas of Botrytis and petrol which give way to salty gravel and mouthwatering acidity. Despite all of this it reamins delicate and feminine on the nose with aromas of peaches, cinnamon and mulling spices. The palate is filled with vanilla, cream, nutmeg, clove and baked apples. Long and lively, with limey acidity and enough salt and slate to keep it balanced. Big, fat and rich flavors of creme brulee and dutch apple pie. Long and lovely.
Light straw colored, with a haunting shimmer that rolls across the surface of the wine. Floral and cool on the nose, with oodles of white flowers, rich, ripe apricots and mango. The palate starts with a twang of peach syrup, followed by flavors of apricot turnover and cobbler. The finish is an endless trail of almonds, brioche, Botrytis, lime zest and acids, with more of the flowers and sweet almonds bringing up the rear. This is what is meant by a <I>complex</I> wine.
Shimmery and viscous as it positively clings to sides of the glass. The nose is silky, big, expressive and classic all at once. The weight and depth of the aromas of dried apricots, ripe peaches and peach preserves speak of a heavy wine, with just the slightest whiff of petrol, indicative of the site. Big and full on the palate, with the classic sweet/tart feel of great Riesling. Rich beyond belief. Carmel, baked Granny Smith apples, brulee, vanilla, toast, lime zest and silk, all tied to just enough acidity to keep it from dying off. Truly a wonderful wine. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Lovely golden color, like aspen leaves in the fall. The nose has a honeyed note that includes apricots and golden raisins. On the tongue this wine is decidedly fruit punch, with peaches, apricots, apples and more of the golden raisins. Clean and fruity, how was this wine ever vinified completely dry? Oh yeah, Johannes used Auslesen grapes for this halbtrocken.
Almost crystalline in the glass, like an alpine lake. The nose is greeted by just the faintest whiff of petrol, followed by a long caress of cream and finesse. Soft and elegant aromas of brulee, vanilla and an interesting mix of toffee and lime zest speak of lush flavors to come. Flacors of yellow apples, lime zest and minerals start of with a healthy zing, but then slip into something more comfortable- that of a long creme brule finish mixed with just enough acidity to keep it fresh. Tastes like an acidic apple-flavored creme caramel. Delicious.
Crystal clear in the glass, with only the faintest pale straw hues. Light and fragrant on the nose, with aromas of white fleshed nectarine and the first peach of the saeason. You can smell the acidity, and it smells great. On the palate there is plenty of big, crisp Red Delicious apples and tangerines, with mouthwatering acidity and a finish that starts with salt and gravel and then takes on a creamy note once the acidity subsides. A lot of wine for $12.
A dense purple monster, whose tentacles of aroma positively shoot out of the glass and take hold of the closest unsuspecting nose. Extremely ripe aromas of black cherries, currants, mocha, toffee and coffee feel almost sweet. Flavors of raspberries, black currants, dried cherries, chocolate, cedar and dust take turns at enticing the taste buds, each bigger and more silky than the next. Bold and tannic, this wine is in need of both food and time.
Very deep in color and aroma, with super-expressive Amarone-esque notes up front. Chocolate covered cherries, black currants, raisins and saddle leather mix with cedar chest aromas on the nose. The palate is filled with long and silky red fruit flavors filled with cedar and dusty tannins. Latent heat and a slightly-grainy tanninc structure on the finish may fade with time, it would be a shame if it did not.
An absolute delight to smell! Aromas of dried fruits, dust, crushed herbs and black fruits go on and on. Silky and smooth on the palate with rich and ripe blackberries, black cherries and blueberry preserves. A touch of bramble and a little heat from the alcohol add a wild note to this otherwise supremely polished wine. Still, the nose alone was enough to keep me coming back for more.
You can almost smell the acidity in this crisp and creamy offering from Woodward canyon. The nose is chock full of lime zest, gravel, subtle French oak and lanolin, with only a very faint whiff of aloe clouding the picture. Flavors of peaches, lime sorbet, cream and vanilla are offset just a touch by a faint yet distinct note of chive. Long and good, but the green note on the nose on the palate keep it from being great. Hopefully this will fade with some time in bottle.
Big black cherry fruitiness right up front on the nose, followed by mint and eucalyptus, and then cocoa and a certain tobacco leaf character. The palate is more typical of Napa Merlot with cocoa, chocolate, black raspberries and dry, cedary tannins. There is a touch more of the tobacco, however, and a little dustiness. The finish has nice length and complexity for a Merlot in this price range.
From the hot Rapel valley, this Cabernet starts off with a big minty bang. Aromas of fresh mint, eucalyptus and dusty currants are expressive, but quickly take on a medicinal note, followed by dusty currants and loam. The palate is awash with high acids, tannins and oak. There is a some pleasant red currants underneath, but is not enough to overcome the double whammy of astringency and acidity.
Deep garnet color with just the slightest fade towards the rim. Mature aromas of baked red fruits, leather and a touch of green olive. There is also a distinct sweet feel on the nose, with elements of clove and carmel. The palate is youthful and fresh with layers of chewy tannins and fresh acidity mingling with warm red fruits, cedar and marsala spice.
Big and bright on the nose with plum and blueberry notes mixed with fragrant and spicy black pepper and roasted coffee aromas. The palate follows suit with peppery black fruit, blueberries, a touch of vanilla and burnt sugar. Despite all of these sweet aromas and flavors this Zin remains more refined than most, with just enough acidity to keep it light on its feet.
Like a crystal clear lemonade, except without the sugar. Lemons, almonds, burnt brulee and a slightly oxidative note on the nose lead into a palate that is tart and crisp. Lemon, lime, almonds and melon mingle over incredible high acidity. Some complexity, but painfully tart. I like my wines dry, but this was ridiculous.
Further proof that the torrid summer of '03 in Europe has produced some very fine wines in the regions that are always hot, such as the southern Rhône. Inky purple depths of extraction in a glass. Incredible nose of black cherries, vanilla, game, black olive and savory herbs. The palate follows suit with more of the black cherries, vanilla and a bright characteristic similar to that of a ripe peach. While this wine may not be the best example of Rhône earthiness, it is something that the U.S. market will surely enjoy.
Exactly what I expected from this great producer. The Brich Ronchi delivered on both the nose and the palate with roses, tar, leather, white truffle, and big, chewy tannins. Elegant, lovely and altogether in perfect balance with just the right touches of acids, tannins and weight. Velvety. Still very youthful after 8 years, this wine with its superb color and big tannins could go 8 more.
Slightly austere in its youth, but not without charm and a pleasant mix of fruit and earth. Rose petal, bright red fruits, and a touch of saddle leather mix in and out of the aroma, with similar notes on the palate but also a decidedly brambly note. Sharp acids make this a candidate for a year in the cellar, but not unattractive now. Certainly needs some food to tame the acids and tannins.
A very flavorful and balanced example of what Cortese can be when given proper care. This wine was absolutely delicious. Full and unctuous, with rich pineapple, lemon curd, melon and cream flavors offset by a snappy acidity on the finish. The yin and yang of the heavy fruit flavors and high acids almost reach Mosel-esque proportions. Lots of everything, but very balanced. French oak and 8 months sur lie is apparently very good for the Cortese.
Soft and supple in both the glass and on the palate, with aromas of blackberries and touches of cocoa. Some fruit, but not very expressive and just a little too soft to be of much interest. Needs more length, intensity and tannins to be considered for anything more than a simple wine for the patio.
Very typical CA Sauvignon Blanc, from the light green tinge to the blend of grassiness and citrus fruits. Aromas of lime zest, white flowers and the front lawn after a spring rainshower, lead into a round, yet crisp wine. Ruby red grapefruit and more of the lime zest on the palate, with just a touch of ginger spice. Crisp and clean.
Very round, with notes of smoke, lemon peel, lime and green apple. Creamy melon and apples shine through the slightly muddled palate, which despite no secondary fermentation seems to have a slightly flabby feel. Though pleasant, this Chard. could use a little more focus and intensity.
A pleasant little Pinot with a very nice nose of warm red fruits and smoke. Smells like a cherry turnover that was left in the oven for five minutes too long. Blueberry and red cherry flavors are surrounded by smoke and oak, but not necessarily in a bad way. Warm and inviting.
Bright purple hues and rich extraction speak of the fruits to come. The nose has a lovely mix of tar, game, bramble and fresh herbs mingling with juicy blackberries. A touch hot on the palate, but not enought to overwhelm the sweet oak, plum, blackberries and pepper. Very nice.
A soft and round nose full of bright red cherries, red currants and cocoa. This wine remains very bright on both the nose and the palate, with tangible acidity. In the mouth it is big and fruity, with notes of plum, black raspberries, cocoa, vanilla and lots of currants. The finish turns tannic and oaky, but with just enough fruit and acidity to keep it well balanced. Pretty tasty, but could use some time for the tannins and oak to settle in.
This Bettinelli is starting to show some age as the garnet color fades slightly on its journey to the rim of the glass. Savory and full on the nose, with a fun mix of peppercorn, ripe black cherries and violet perfume. More of the ripe black cherries on the palate, with chewy tannins, sweet oak and a decidedly floral component for a Cab. Dry and tannic on the finish, with just a touch too much oak. Overall, a very good wine.
From winemaker August "Joe" Briggs, who has his hand in many a wine nowadays. Despite a low level of alcohol (12.5%) this Cab seemed a touch hot. Ripe and brambly, with gobs of black fruits and a big, plush mouthfeel. Rich, but not very refined. For the millions that enjoy the heavy, fruit-forward style of Cabernet without too much tannin or structure, here is a wine for you.
From the up and coming Tamar Valley region on the northern coast of Tasmania. Deep ruby color, with a lovely silky quality. Big, bright and expressive nose with lots of round red fruits, smoke and a distinct floral component that is reminiscent of roses. Big and ripe on the palate, plush and velvety notes of smoke, cinnamon, black cherries and French oak.
From the up and coming Tamar Valley region of Tasmania's northern coast. Very floral, much more so than an Aussie Riesling, with a pleasant peach aroma that mingles with minerals and a certain chalky quality. The palate is an interesting mix of sour star fruit, lime zest and tangerines, with not unpleasant whiffs of petrol and rubber. Fine amounts of snappy acidity make for a mouthwatering finish. Complex, light and tasty.
Tasted amongst many of its peers this wine did Cirque du Soleil-esque acrobatics. While many other '04 Rieslings may be able to stand on their head with ease, this wine positively soars above the audience, doing backflips of grapefuit, cartwheels of apricots and airborne flips of minerals...okay you get the picture. Absolutely wonderful and the best '04 Kabinett that I tried amongst 100 other German and Austrian phenoms, besting many pricier examples. Try one, you might like it.
Ripe, round and rich for a Kabinett, with a plush feel and a great balance of fruit and acidity. The usual cast of characters for the Pfalz (peaches, apricots, pears) but also a decidedly spicy note of ginger and perhaps cinnamon. Nice minerality and overall balance.
Decadence in a glass. Even the color of this wine proclaims a sense of weight. Lovely garnet hues with plenty of extraction as it slides slowly down the sides of the glass. A big and expressive nose full of bright black cherries, cola and forest floor. Then dessert begins with a mouthful of chocolate-covered cherry, expansive grape tannins, and nuances of French oak and cocoa. Just the slightest hint of roasted mushroom, but mostly this wine falls under the "fruit-driven" vs. the "earth-bound" category. Could use some time in bottle to work on its finesse, but still a very nice wine now.
Lots of perfume on this big and rich Burgundy. Lavender and lilac, black cherries and orange blossom on the nose, with hints of earthy roasted mushrooms. Big and broad on the palate, with ultra-ripe black cherries and red currants, as well as nuanced oak and integrated tannins. Silky and smooth, with a long and finessed finish. If I didn't know better, with this much ripe fruit and low acids I would say that this is a well done California Pinot. A Burgundy for those that love new world wines.
A superb effort, and possibly one of the best wines that I have ever had from Louis Latour. Big on both the nose and the palate with complex waves of white flowers, almonds, chalk, cream, golden delicious apples and even figs. Hard to describe the texture, as it was at once silky smooth and rich with minerality. Some acidity to bind everything together. The finish was impossibly long. It just kept going, 45 seconds, 60 seconds, 75 seconds... Maybe not one to keep for the ages, but absolutely wonderful now.
A big and expressive Chianti, with a heavy and hardy nose full of leather, tobacco, red raspberries and a slightly brambly note. The palate is similar but with even more leather, green tea, raspberries and bing cherries. Still has some grip from the tightly wound tannins, but with a little food this wine softened and improved considerably.
This light and inexpensive little Grigio has a slightly yeasty characteristic due to the 6 months that it spent sur lie. Lemony and crisp with the requisite almond note on the finish that is so common in wines from this region. It has an interesting perfume to it which reminds me of the Designer Imposters perfumes that my girlfriend wore when I was 16. Floral and sweet, but not exactly a smell that can be found in nature.
Big and rich for Sancerre, which can be attributed to the 35-45 year old vines used. A pleasant mix of earth (herbs, honeysuckle, smoke) and fruit (starfruit, melon, and high-toned citrus). A touch of gooseberry, but not overwhelming. Lots of chalk and minerals on the finish, with mouthwatering acidity and a slightly hot feel due to 14% alcohol by volume. Still, very nice and a lovely quaff for any time of the year.
A wine with lots of character and panache, some would even say "guts." Very ripe and sweet on the nose, with lots of rich black fruits, choclate and red currants. The palate follows along but towards the end veers onto an offramp of black pepper, cedar and dusty tannins. Very long, and perhaps a touch over ripe as there seemed to be just a tiny little bit of volatile acidity, but this was merely an annoyance as opposed to a flaw.
Pleasant, with lingering aromas of ripe blackberries, black currants,chocoalte and sweet oak. The palate is a touch more restrained, yet still has gobs of black fruit flavors mixed with cocoa, dark chocolate, cedar and cinnamon. The finish is tannic and grippy, with perhaps a touch too much dry oak character. Overall, pretty good though.
Heavy and plodding from beginning to end, with butter, oak and oak spices thrown around with all the subtlety of a professional wrestler. A rich and lovely golden color is probably the best compliment that I can pay to this monster of a Chardonnay. I am sure that there are a few folks out there that love this big, buttery, smokey and oaky style of Chard, but I am not one of those few.
Despite being from the exceptionally hot 2003 vintage, and at the Spätlese level of ripeness, this wine displays a delicate balance of fruit, spice and acidity. Tasty lychee nut, canned peach and ripe pink grapefruit flavors laced with lovely aromas of rose petals and autumn spice. On the dry side of off-dry, with touches of chalk and slate. There is just enough acidity on the finish to keep the wine light and fresh. A very good effort.
Is it truly a rosé with a rusty/salmon color that can only be described with the term Pelure d'Oignon (skin of the onion)? Spicy and spicier, with hints of pepper, fresh herbs de Provence, lavender, strawberry and cinnamon on both the nose and the palate. A deep vein of acidity buoys the full and silky mouthfeel. A nice rosé, with just enough fruit, texture and freshness.
A delightful color of fresh strawberries that fades slightly towards the edges of the glass. The nose is subtle, with raspberries, watermelon, vanilla and a pleasant floral perfume. Tingly in the mouth, with lively Bing cherries, fresh raspberries, lingonberry and a splash of citrus. Slightly weighed down by vanilla and cream, but there is just enough acidity to keep it from feeling clumpy or thick. The finish returns to subtlety, but it lingers around for quite a while.
Just a breath of fresh spring air, from the color of pink lemonade to the lovely nose that speaks of honeysuckle, cherries, blueberries and brioche. Slightly more creamy and lush on the palate, with red apple, red cherry and mineral notes, followed by nuanced oak and faint oak tannins. Pleasant acidity allows the Soucherie to roll off of the tongue, but there is just a touch too much oakiness on the finish, the only drawback in an otherwise excellent rosé.
From one of the best in the Mosel, and just an outstanding effort. Very expressive on the nose with peaches, flowers, indian spices and a distinct terroir-driven minerality. Similar on the palate, but much more lush. Creamy, chalky and almost heavy, but with a pleasant vein of acidity on the finish. Tingly and acidic, yet plush and rich. Tart, yet fruity. Balanced in almost every way. Delicious now, but this wine could use a while in bottle where it is sure to turn from exciting to downright decadent.
An interesting effort from the Crown Prince of Italian wine, Angelo Gaja. Lots of high-toned red fruit and white pepper on the nose, with noticeable acidity and a touch of saddle leather. Brett, maybe? Similar on the palate with gobs of black cherries, leather, savory herb and pepper, balanced by medium tannins and a little more acidity than was expected. Good, but it seemed to lack a richness that is often found in the wines of Maremma.
The surface of this wine shimmers and shines through the pale straw hue, hinting at the brightness held inside. On the nose there is a melange of fruit, earth and spice that starts off with sweet vanilla and lanolin then slides through white flowers and almonds and ends up in a bed of dry mushrooms and forest floor. The palate is reminiscent of rocks, orange zest, vanilla and chalk leading to an almondy finish awash with mouthwatering acidity and lots and lots of gravel. I haven't had this many rocks in my mouth since I was a kid.
A pleasant wine with taosty aromas of light peach, grapefruit and orange blossom. Similar on the palette but also nuanced with melon, quince, cream and a heavy chalky minerality. The finish is very bitter almond, almost too much so. Nice, but not a cocktail wine. Try to eat something with it to balance the almond finish.
An decent food wine with a nice mix of earth and fruit. Aromas of cool baked fruits, smoke, mushrooms and a touch of fat inch their way out of the glass. More of the dark cherries and blueberries on the palette but also cedar, bacon, dry leaves and a somewhat bitter, oaky finish. Slightly out of balance, I was hoping for more developed flavors and less oak.
Not that I expected a lot, but this could have been a good wine. Sweet cherry, blueberry and ripe raspberry aromas are mixed on the palette with roasted mushrooms and earthiness. Then the oak kicks in. Game over, there is nothing else. Wood, wood and more wood. It was even grainy, like the grains in a 2x4.
Interesting aromas of fig, basil, cheese rind and just a touch of tar over a distinct raisiny vein. There is some definite bricking and rim variation, hints that this wine may be over the hill. Very complex flavors of tobacco, molasses, roasted hazelnuts and peppery rum raisin. Very good until the finish, which is slightly grainy and heavy on the tobacco. Just a touch too old.
A very soft, yet full expression of Napa Cabernet. A perfumed nose full of black currants, cassis and cedar speaks volumes towards the ripe fruit and oak flavors on the palette. Smooth and velvety with a very long tannic finish. Pretty tasty, but could use a little bit more fruit on the tail end.
Big and brambly, with full and rich aromas of ripe black fruits, tar and raisins. Big and chewy on the palette with lots of ripe black currants, barrel spices and almonds on the finish. Very tannic, but they are well-integrated and mature.
An interesting wine from top to bottom. Lovely bright yellow and pale green hues permeate throught the glass. The nose has a distinct New Zealand-esque dose of ammonia but underneath there are wonderful aromas of lime, tropical fruits and straw. Flavors of lime zest and mango mix with tingly acidity and cream. A zesty wine.
Ripe and lush with aromas of peaches, white flowers, vanilla and lanolin. The palette is similar but adds notes of caramel and almonds. On the lower end for the acidity this wine has a distinct peaches and cream feel to it, that is not unpleasant but a little over the top. From the ultrahot '03 vintage this isn't the only overripe Pinot Grigio out there.
From ungrafted Pommard clones, this Oregon beauty has some of the same characteristics as a nice Pommard: Super silky texture, impossibly long finish and impossibly high acids. Lots of ripe black fruits and a touch of earth mingle with medium tannins and violets. All very chewy and pleasant, but this wine really needs some time to soften up and show its true potential -- just like a good Pommard.
Very austere and reserved for a Napa Merlot. Cool fruit aromas abound intertwined with milk chocolate and autumn spices. Flavors of vanilla, cloves, blackberries and dark chocolate are layered nicely above smooth but tangible tannins. More ripe on the palette than the nose. A nice wine.
The operative word here is round. A well-rounded nose of pure Chardonnay fruit, apples, limes and toast. Very, very round on the palette with peaches, more of the apples and lanolin. A big, round mouthfeel. It has the feel of barrel fermentation without being over oaked or heavy with vanilla. Sort of right in the middle, or perhaps round?
Almost Amarone-like on the nose with a heavy raisiny character, as well as lots of baked black fruits and vanilla. Very Pinot Noir-esque on the palette. Lots of red fruits, lots of purple-flower perfume. Smooth and well integrated tannins and a touch of acid. Interesting. Certainly not in the usual Napa Zin mold.
A cool and, dare I say, Burgundian style of Pinot Noir from Napa? From cooler spots just above Carneros. Cherry fruit and stones wrapped around a core of vanilla and lanolin define this Pinot as the liquid equivalent of a cherry pie. Good, but not very complex at this point.
Cool black fruits with layers of warm pastry mixed in. Blackberries, butter and lots of bread. Think pop tarts, but 100 times better. A little game mixed in adds a touch of complexity. A little high in the alcohol, but that certainly is the style nowadays. An excellent value.
Without a doubt one of the best domestic Sauvignon Blancs that I have ever tasted. Tangible minerality, lime, smoke, apricots, fresh spring grass, vanilla and tangerine aromas. Tingly acidity on the palette with more apricots, delicious mango, vanilla, cream and lime zest. Almost everything in perfect proportion. Perhaps a touch of oak, but this will help the longevity and is already overcome by a long, tasty finish.
This Shiraz is a lot. A lot of earth (tar, blacktop, leather, tea leaves and warm topsoil) as well as a lot of fruit (every black fruit there is, all thrown together and then baked in a pie) topped off by a lot of alchohol and tannins. Just a monster now it needs time to settle in.
Very plush and full of black fruit all around. Slightly raisined but there is also some game and earthen flavors of animal fat, pepper and roasted mushrooms. Sweet and oaky on the finish which dies off very quickly. Started off well, but just not enough on the back end.
Made from fruit sourced from premium vineyards in Victoria and South Australia. Color, color and more color. Sweet and perfumed on the nose with hints of black currants, black plums and stylish mint mixed with touches of warm earth. Cinnamon, tobacco, toasty oak and warm black fruit flavors dominate the palette. The finish is minerally and restrained. Needs a notch or two more tannins to survive but good now.
The color of melted blackberries. Nice on both the nose and the palette. Cool, sleek aromas of raisins, blackberries, blueberries and minerals show what the refined side of Shiraz can be like. Black pepper, bacon and more of the dark fruits on the palette with a smotth texture and a classy feel. Could have been a bit longer on the finish, but overall pretty good.
Tight, compact and very sound, this Chard took almost an hour to open up. Lots of stone fruits, tangerines and lime zest on the nose, the aromas practically jumped out of the glass. More restrained on the palette with a wonderfully full body and nuances of smoky French oak. Very nice and built to last.
From the Rothschild family. Expressive on the nose with black cherries, bacon, tobacco, and black raspberries. Silky smooth with chewy, mature tannins and a polished palete of black currants, tea leaves and vanilla. Very nice, until we get to the finish. Heavy in the wood tannins as well as green olives and leather. Tastes just a bit old. I wonder if it's in the Bordeaux "dumb period?" It may come around. Was better the next day as some of the hard tannins faded away but the fruit never really made it back.
This wine lights up in the glass with a beautiful pink color. The nose is slightly floral with strawberries and cherries. The palate is interesting, but maybe not in the best way. Dry on the finish, slightly fruity up front, but right in the middle there is a heavy vanilla and oak slap across the face. Way too much.
Lovely on the nose with notes of eucalyptus, toasty oak, baking spices and baked black fruits. Turns a bit minerally on the palate with tea leaves, green olives and a hard metallic edge. There is a nice vein of black fruit running through the center, but the tannins seem too hard for the level of fruit. It might settle down with time, but it might not.
Beautiful perfumed nose with mature notes of mint, chocolate, caramel and black cherries. Full, but not overripe. The palete is soft and silky with just a touch of alcohol warmth. Baked black plums, black currants and chewy tannins dance on the long finish.
Pleasant aromas of black cherries, caramel, rosemary and baked bread waft just above the ruby purple depths. Tannic and full on the tongue with pepper, vanilla, dried fruits and just a touch of roasted herb. Too much oak on the finish, but that is the Rioja way. Give it some time.
Smells like a blueberry pastry served in an oak wrapper. Right after opening the palate is hard to like with very dry oak, chalk, green olives, leather and raspberries. An hour after opening, this Rioja shows nice blueberries and raspberries with an oak finish.
Just a touch of funk on the nose with aromas of baked black raspberries and white pepper. Very dry on the palate, and I'm not just talking about the texture. Dried fruits abound (cherry, cranberry, blueberry) but they take a back seat to tea leaves and heavy minerals of salt and chalk. Very dry and a touch gritty on the finish. Did I mention it was dry?
A very pleasant QbA with stoney peaches, flint, apricots, peach pits and honey on the nose. Slightly viscous in the glass with slight green and pale gold hues. The palate has lovely lime, tangerines, smoke, apricot syrup and a gravelly minerality. Nice acidity and very full fruit. Not sweet but not dry either. Not heavy but not light either. Try this on the back porch, you'll love it!
Practically leaping out of the glass with sweet vanilla, milk chocolate, butter, blackberries and toast. Think blackberry turnover, and then magnify that thought 100 times. More subtle on the palate but still on the sweet side. Overripe and oaky, but you have to give it due for being a decidedly "new world" style of wine. Like Aussie Shiraz because it's over the top? Try this.
Lovely on the nose with black pepper, ruby red grapefruit, cream, green apple, smoke and white flowers. Very perfumed. Much less complex on the palate with granny smith apple notes mixed with a little cream. Some acidity, but you might expect more from this grape. Perhaps an early casualty of the torrid summer of 2003?
The Maremma area on the Tuscan coast has certainly been "en vogue" as of late, and it's easy to see why with this decidedly new world style wine. Gobs of blueberries, baked black cherries and violets practically jump out of the purple garnet color. Lots of new oak on both the nose and the palate weigh down this bright, fruity wine just a bit, but there is enough pepper, dust and bitter almond to keep the ship afloat. Not bad, but there is better.
This single-vineyard Chianti has an impressive array of ripe, rich black fruit aromas mixed with licorice, tarragon and orange zest on the nose followed by clean and almost citrusy dried fruits on the palate. The finish has touches of fennel, molasses and a somewhat overpowering green olive and leather quality. A slightly gritty texture also hurts a little. Too bad, it was very nice until I swallowed.
Why did we wait so long? Aromas of sweet black cherries, basil, oven roasted tomatoes and mint lead into a velvety smooth texture and chewy mature tannins. Lots of dust, dried herbs and olives speak of an earthy delight, but this Sangiovese just ends up earthy. Alas, the fruit is fading and the bitterness is starting to show.
Viscous and rich in the glass with a pale gold color tinted with green highlights. Aromas of stone fruits, citrus, slate and cream are heavy, but simple. The palate holds similar flavors but also dried herbs, oak and gravel. Just a touch too heavy and out of balance. Could be good if it weren't tripping over itself. Better with food.
This wine is just full. The glass is full of pigment and extraction. The nose is full of mint, briar and warm blackberry pie. The palate is full of rich red and black fruits, cayenne, leather, oak and gravel. Mix in some sturdy tannins and a lingering finish and what is left is a wine full of everything. Flavor, structure and depth. Nice.
Beautiful aromatics of big, dried black fruits, strawberries, licorice and figs gently caress earthy undertones of dry leaves and mushrooms. Jammy and rich on the palate with more mushrooms, cinnamon, olives, graphite, leather and cloves. All these and more are adeptly integrated into chewy and mature tannins. Well made and still a little tight, a few years in the cellar will help this wine to reach even higher.
Not so much of a red wine as a purple wine, this beauty from the southern coast of Italy has firm and full aromas of black cherries, purple flowers and a touch of clove. The palate is spicy as well with hints of black pepper and allspice mixed in with very rich and extracted black fruit flavors. The tannins are plush but a little tight. Best to let this breath for 45 minutes or so before drinking.
Light in color but not in body, this white from the northeastern reaches of Italy smells sweet and lush with notes of butter, white flowers and lemon curd. The palete follows suit but without the sweetness and has a crisp, dry finish reminiscent of almonds. A very velvety mid-palete is this wine's greatest attribute, and only a slightly grainy texture keeps it from being rated more highly.
A beautifully clear wine with a pale gold glow tinged with faint hues of freshly cut grass. The nose is clean and refreshing with notes of orange blossom, lemon peel and fresh herbs. The palete holds tons of tangerines mixed with moderately intense minerality and a very crisp finish. There is just a touch of a creamy feel evident of the splash of Semillon used in the final blending. Very nice.
Chocolate, black fruits and loam dominate this medium-bodied value wine. A note of briar mixes with cream and black currants on the finish. The texture is grainy and thin, and slightly out of whack. Overall, not a bad wine though.
Light hues of grass and straw hint at what's to come from this example from the "Reserve" line from large Chilean producer Morande. Aromas of citrus, grapefruit and a touch of fennel mix with minerals and slate. The palette has more of the grapefruit, but also tropical notes of papaya and guava. Light-bodied and with low to medium acidity on the finish. Decent.
Full and extracted for a Mencía, with a beautiful deep garnet pigment. Considered a local clone of Cabernet Franc there is the high grape-style tannins but also so much more. This wine is big, sweet and syrupy with lots of red raspberry jam and blackberry pie. The finish has a roasted herb and mineral quality that adds just enough earthiness.
A nice mix of crispy and creamy. The nose is very aromatic with hints of white flowers, peaches and canned apricots. The palette is similar but adds a touch of citrus fruits and toast. Not very heavy, not very light. This wine starts crisp and refreshing but then leans towards creaminess as the finish flows on. You can almost taste each grape individually as the wine progresses.
A very nice domestic Pinot Grigio. The nose has complex aromas of caramel, stone fruits and cream while the palette counterracts with lemon curd and a little brioche. The finish has a very interesting roasted herb component mixed with minerals. Very balanced. Light, yet full. Complex, yet not muddled.
Quite the spicy little Chardonnay with hints of cinnamon, pear and toasty new oak. Tastes like a baked apple. Vanilla, brioche and cream feel a touch heavy on the finish but the oak is not overpowering. Overall pretty well done.
It just looks big in the glass with heavy extraction and pigmentation. Vanilla and sweet spices linger on the nose before the explosion of black cherries, chocolate and rum raisins shines through on the palette. The tannins are somewhat tight and gripping, but overall this has a smooth feel to it. An extended finish of black peppercorns and blackberry jam lasts for quite a while.
A big, expressive white with lots of toasty oak and tropical fruits on the nose. Cinnamon, peaches and plenty of butter line the palette, but the toast and alcohol are probably the two biggest components here. The finish is medium dry with enough acidity to feel fresh, but there is a slight bubblegum flavor right in the center that is not so hot.
Just a tasty offering. Sweet spices, tobacco and dark chocolate mingle with red and black cherries and very smooth and chewy tannins. Missing is the prerequisite loam that is often found in Malbec, but that could be a good thing depending on your tastes.
Sweet, full and just about lovely. This baby has all the fruit and richness that you might find in a California Zin but it is tied together with a lighter feel and slightly sharp tannins. The Malbec adds the richness and the sweet fruit while the Bonarda brings acidity, spiciness and some serious grape tannins. From 40 year-old vines.
A lovely example of what you can do with Syrah in a cool climate. Fresh, bright and haunting with aromas of bright cherries and orange blossoms and flavors of blackberries and baked cherries. There is noticeable oak on the finish, but it isn't overpowering.
Very inky and extracted in the glass with aromatics of ripe black fruits and a hint of chocolate. The palette is a mix of young Cabernet fruit and a touch of mint. Smooth and long, probably from the splash of Merlot added into the mix.
Very interesting. There is a nice red plum and cherry component as well as uncommon amounts of herb and savory spices. There is something about this wine that I can't put my finger on. It is very complex, yet also has a nice mix of fruit aromas wrapped around the spice and a little tobacco or tar. Hmmmm...
From the Torrontes grape, a cross between Muscat de Alexandria and Criolla Chica, which happens to be the most planted white varietal in Argentina. Crisp, light and citrusy with a nice floral component layered on top of stone fruits. The finish has very nice acidity but it also has a heavy toast/vanilla quality that would lead one to think oak even though this wine sees none. From the Salta province north of Mendoza.
One can't help but notice the beautiful golden color of this Sicilian white. The color says: "I'm heavy and rich." But the color lies! This wine has lovely citrus and melon notes, with touches of purple flowers, fresh herbs and just the slightest bit of orange honey. It has a very refreshing snappy acidic finish. A tasty treat from the island.
Very nice cool Pinot fruits on the front end are a little misleading, as this Pinot has smoke, vanilla, new oak and alcohol on the palette. Still, the crisp cherry, raspberry and blackberry flavors are appealing. Just a touch too hot to be very good, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Pears, green apples and lychee nuts dominate the aromas and palette of this medium bodied white. A heavy feel of ML or just vanillin almost drowns the acidic backbone of this wine, but it still has a little bit of life in there. Too heavy on the residual sugar though.
Pleasant melon and apricot flavors and aromas mingle with hints of flowers and wet stones, but there is a heavy vanilla feel to this wine that just seems out of place. The finish is dryish, with some acidity, but this offering is too much like a so-so Pinot Blanc and doesn't have the true Arneis character that can be so enjoyable.
Aromas of lime zest, lemon curd and just a touch of wet grass hint at a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. The Siblings delivers but also with a fine creamy texture thanks in part to the high percentage of Semillon. An extended finish of white flowers mixed with grapefruit and lemon curd lingers just past the tingly acidity. A nice wine.
A nice blend of tropical and citrus fruits linger on the nose but on the palette is where this Bordeaux-style blend really sings. Pink grapefruit and starfruit flavors integrate with the supple texture provided by the Semillon. The finish is zippy and crisp, with just a touch of brioche and oak.
If you took away the grassiness of Sancerre, the ammonia of New Zealand and the tropical fruits of the usual California Sauvignon Blanc this is what you would have left: A crisp and clean wine with equal parts of citrus fruits, acidity and flowers. Fresh and fruity, but not overpowering or cloying. Well made.
An absolutely beautiful color and pigmentation in the glass leads to a nose full of spicy cedar and rich, ripe black fruit and just a touch of fresh bell pepper. Heavy barrel spices and chewy tannins fade into an extended black fruit finish. Nice.
Very rich, ripe and briary. Complex aromas and flavors of cedar, dust and black currants lead to a palette that smacks of blackberry pie. Chewy and silky tannins are more oak than grape, but overall this is a well-made wine.
Big, fat and rich. Aromas of ripe black fruits, sweet spices and just a touch of bell pepper lead to a broad palette of black currants, black and blue berries and a heavy vanilla character. Very chewy tannins are supported by spices and alcohol on the long finish. Tasty.
Extremely ripe and rich with heavy notes of blackberries, brioche, chocolate and tar. Well defined tannins stay more on the grape side than the barrel side of things. This monster needs either some time or some food, take your pick.
Crisp and clean with just a touch of well-integrated oak. A nice mix of tropical and citrus fruits on the nose leads to an expansive palette filled with pears and peaches supported by a creamy texture.
The usuals of grapefruit and white pepper, but also pleasant notes of melon, grass, green apple and slate. Just a touch of cream on the finish ties together with crisp acidity to make this a refreshing offering.
Extremely light in color for a Gewurtz, but not in flavor. Aromas of lychee, exotic spices and a touch of fat fade quickly, but the palette has nice length and complexity. Pear, green apple, flowers, sweet spices, mint, cheddar, honey, almonds... Shall I go on? A pleasant acidity ties everything together on the finish.
Just a touch too earthy on the nose with elements of bark and cheese, but also nice citrus fruits and a touch floral. The palette has a healthly dose of residual sugar to balance the acidity. The flavors start well with notes of melon and canned peaches but everything falls apart on the finish. The sugar covers the slight foxiness, but just barely.
Very nice. A lovely golden color leads to aromas of grapefruit, starfruit, tea, peppercorns and a touch of clover. The palette is extended and just as complex with hints of raspberry, limestone, clove and brulee. This wine only needs a touch more fruit to balance the heavy acidity.
An interesting little white with crisp and clean elements of lime, minerals and a heavy dose of cream, probably from extensive M.L. Slightly disjointed as the citrus was tinged with a touch of a medicinal property. Not bad though.
A light and crisp white with aromas and flavors of melon, flowers, minerals and a touch of lime zest. There is an interesting combination of brioche, dry rock and fennel bulb that carry throught to a fairly extended finish. Complex, but with a hint of out of place oak near the end.
I know what you are thinking. Geyser Peak at $47? What, did someone trick me? It was actually very good, with very ripe blackberries and currants on the nose and palette, mixed with a hefty dose of tannin and barrel spice. Overall a very chewy and extracted wine with good structure and a pleasant finish.
Crisp and clean with aromas and flavors of grapefruit, peaches, white flowers and one grind of white pepper. Fresh, fruity and without the redolent gooseberry that is cropping up in a lot of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs.
An easy to get to know style of Cabernet with soft black fruits and just a touch of mint on the nose, leading to a rich and smooth texture that is laced with red fruits and barrel spices. Approachable and friendly, with fine wood tannins on the finish but just enough fruit to balance everything out.
Interesting. So much going on, perhaps too much. Extremely oxygen starved this wine needed 1 hour to open. At first heavy with pungent cheese, rancio and mold aromas, with the cheese aspect carrying over to the palette. After there is a pleasant blend of honey, almonds, burnt caramel and lime acidity. Lovely smooth texture. Still alive, but just barely.
Delicious. Very expressive nose of deep black fruits, exotic Indian spices and just a touch of tar. The palate is not quite so powerful but mimics the nose and adds touches of game and white pepper. Silky and smooth.
More citrus than the usual Chenin character, but this wine still retains the honey, almond and floral aromas usually found in Vouvray. A nice mix of residual sugar and zippy acidity. That blend is why I love Chenin so much. Just a touch hollow in the middle.
Just a very nice wine. Soft, approachable and well-balanced. Touches of green peppercorn, beef, raspberries and Indian spice mingle with just enough tannin and a little heat so characteristic of the Rhone.
Despite a good vintage for the region this 2002 is only so so. Flint, smoke citrus and a touch of green herbs give it roudness, but the length is just lacking. A touch of cream from the sur lie aging is nice, but this bottle just needs a certain something.
A mix in styles as this chard displays tropical notes of pineapple and guava but also lime, brioche and bright acidity. Just a little oak tends towards the new world, while the acid and structure scream of Burgundy. A good California Chardonnay for the dinner table, if there is such a thing.
A beautiful wine from the slight orange rim that hints to the age to the long and silky finish. In between its easy to get lost in the waves of perfumed flowers, sweet spices, extended fruit, and just enough earth and oak to make you look for it. Elegant and pretty. A quintessential Volnay.
Aromas of truffle, forest floor and bright red fruits give way to flavors raspberries, licorice and light oak. A touch bitter on the finish with hints of cayenne and plum skin. Nice fruit but wood tannins and the bitter quality get in the way.
Very nice aromas of dried red fruits, orange blossoms, eucalyptus and fall spices. Lovely on the palette with lavender, cherry pie, clove and the silkiest of finishes. A well-made example of a perfumed and elegant Burgundy.
A very well-done Burgundy with the usual lime and lemon curd notes but also Indian spice, cayenne, dill, white flowers, dry rocks and just the slightest whiffs of smoke and truffle. Expressive, long and silky smooth. A wonderful wine. Let it breathe for 30 minutes before drinking.
A pleasant white Burgundy more new world than old with notes of fresh pineapple, lime, vanilla and toasty oak. A nice combination of creamy texture and prickly acidity. Could probably hang on for a few more years in which the oak and acdis may die down, which would be good.
As close to warm blackberry pie in a glass as you can get. The heavy, ripe fruit mingles with cassis and vanilla on the nose and palette. The tannins are thick and chewy. Add to this a high alcohol content (15.0) for the heat, and Voila! Fruity, sweet and delicious blackberry pie.
Like a purple blanket! Plush, rich and extended, the Rocket Science has plenty of red currants, bitter chocolate, cassis and pepper. The tannins are chewy and could use a little time but this wine is drinking very well now.
Heavy and tannic for a Volnay, with aromas of smoke, red fruits and roasted mushrooms. The palette is an interesting mix of acids, tannins and fruit, with an extended finish of dried cherries. Very dry and not as perfumed as what you would expect from this commune. Needs a little time, but won't improve much.
A pleasant offering with lovely hues of yellow gold and golden raisins. Viscous and rich with hints of vanilla, toast and dried apricots on the nose. The palette is a nice mix of peaches, lemons, flowers and vanilla. The velvety texture could use a touch more acidity, but that barely detracts from this tasty white.
A nice Pinot Noir with sweet aromas of raspberries, red cherries, perfume and just a touch of truffle. Nice depth on the palette with flavors of red fruits, dry oak and a liberal amount of spice and pepper. Silky.
Incredible nose on this Grand Cru with wave after wave of citrus fruits, earth, almond oil and smoke. Complex, long and silky. Well integrated on the palette with a subtle mix of fruit, oak, chalk and cream. Better on the nose, but overall a wonderful Burgundy.
A nice wine from the honeyed straw color through the citrus, perfume and mineral aromas to the lush flavors of green apple, brioche, vanilla bean and barrel spices. Just a hint of the limestone and chalk soil in Chablis works well with the silky mouthfeel and toasty oak.
A good introduction to Chablis with lime, vanilla and mineral aromas followed by starfruit, grapefruit and creme brulee on the palette. Nice acidity and a pronounced limestone and chalk feel typical of this region.
Heavy and aromatic on the nose with traditional citrus and more exotic baked tropical fruits. Fresh cut grass, herbs and lemon curd work well on the palette leading to a finish awash in new oak. This wine has potential but was made with a heavy hand.
High acid dominates this historical varietal with light aromas of citrus, green apple and fresh herbs. The gravel, citrus and white pepper flavors cannot overcome a yellow gatorade component, making for a less than spectacular wine.
Flowers, apricots and brioche aromas leap from this expressive white from noted producer Silvio Jermann. Lively acidity and a heavy feel for this varietal give way to the melon, spice, apricot and vanilla flavors. A big pinot blanc.
The deep golden color of this blend foreshadows the heavy aromas of honeysuckle, lime and minerals. Slate, melon, baked apples and the slightest hints of petrol flood over the palette with a sumptuous grace held together by a vibrant acidity.