Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bridlewood 2008 Reserve Viognier

I tasted this wine with Norman, and then later with a group. Both times, I guessed it might be a Riesling. So apparently I think it has Rieslingesque qualities. However, one of the group - correctly identifying it as predominantly Viognier - volunteered “if this is Riesling, I’ll shoot myself.” So maybe it’s not so like Riesling. I don’t taste much white. Others in the group thought it might be Chardonnay. Style-wise, I found it sweeter, fruitier, and smoother than other Viogniers I’ve tasted.

The nose is delightful and aromatic: honeydew melon, floral notes, citrus and something a bit spicy, like cloves. On the palate it is slightly sweet and crisply acidic with smooth viscosity. The texture is a bit buttery. We enjoyed it on its own, but I can imagine that it would stand up nicely paired with cheese or maybe seafood. Overall, very nice.

Price: $24.99
Score: 89
Value: 3.5/5
Region: Central Coast California
Grapes: Viognier 90%, Chardonnay 4%, Marsanne 4%, Rousanne 2%
UPC: 085000014615

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Sterpato 2007

I tasted this wine with a group, and then, coincidentally, with Norman about a week later. Everyone describes it as a Super Tuscan. What is a Super Tuscan, anyway? I know that historically, wines that didn’t adhere to the blending laws for the region question had to be sold as “table wine.” When in the 1970s some Tuscan producers experimented very successfully with international grape varieties, those wines became known as Super Tuscans. The addition of the looser IGT category to the older DOC/G system embraces some of those wines. But if I find myself with a Tuscan wine designated IGT or “vino da tavola,” how do I determine whether it is a Super Tuscan or plain old undistinguished table wine? Does the term describe a particular style and assemblage of grape varieties, or does the wine have to be in some sense “super”?

The first time I tasted this wine, I guessed it was a Bordeaux blend (i.e. mostly Cab Sauv, Cab Franc, Merlot). The second time I tasted it, it struck me as unmistakably Italian, and predominantly Sangiovese. Averaging those experiences, I'd wankishly opine that it's a nice hybrid of the international and traditional, and a true expression of its constituent grape varieties. The nose is lovely: dark red berries, stewed fruit, cedar, dried flowers, moss, dusty leather, and spices. All of those follow through on the palate, along with firm tannins and good length and acidity. I found it a bit hollow toward the middle to end palate, with a bit of an edge; but then I tend to find that with Sangiovese. Overall, it’s great value and I would buy more at the price.

Price: $22.79
Score: 89
Value: 4/5
Region: Toscana, Italia
Grapes: Sangiovese 80%, Merlot 10%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10%
UPC: 8029966000512

Friday, December 10, 2010

Collazzi Liberta 2008

Aaron recommended this as a sort of baby sibling to the Collazzi Toscana, which I really like. It’s a winner. The Liberta is very different from the Toscana, but enjoyable just the same. Its nose is relatively reserved, mostly plum, cedar, and something a bit dusty. The same basic flavours follow on the palate, which is full with nice structure, firm tannins, and good length. It seems to stop short a bit mid-palate with a bit of an edge and a gap that I find characteristic of Sangiovese, but that’s fine. Norman says it’s “quite quaffable” and I’d agree. A solid choice at the price. I found it perhaps even better after a night in the half-bottle.

Price: $24.79
Score: 88
Value: 4/5
Alcohol: 13%
Region: Tuscany
Grapes: Merlot, Syrah, Sangiovese
UPC: 8033844400011

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Velenosi Lacrima Di Morro d'Alba 2008

This is a very distinctive wine that will probably provoke love-it-or-hate-it reactions. I think 86 is a fair score, but I expect some people will like it a lot more than that, others will like it less. If you're looking for something interesting and different, this is a good choice at the price.

--- Kelly's Review ---

Lacrima di Morro is a grape variety grown only in Morro d’Alba, a tiny wine appellation in the Marches region of Italy.  DOC regulations require that the wine must be at least 85% Lacrima di Morro, with Montepulciano and Verdicchio together permitted to comprise up to 15%.

This particular example of the variety is very distinctive.  The nose is ripe and fruity, mostly lychee, blueberries, roses, and a hint of menthol.  The flavours are clear and bright and nicely balanced.  It’s not a complicated wine, but I don’t expect complicated for $15.

I tasted this with a group, and there was substantial agreement on the flavour profile, and also on which grape varieties the wine most resembled.  We all tasted it blind, and most guessed that it was a Grenache, a Pinot Noir, a Zinfandel, or possibly an extremely atypical Cabernet Sauvignon.

It’s great value at the price.  I suspect that its bright fruitiness would go well with spicy bbq.

Price: $15.29
Score: 86
Value: 4/5
Region: Marches, Italy
Grapes: Lacrima di Morro
UPC:  666056000236

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cavit Pinot Grigio 2009

Norman asked me to pick up a white for cooking, so I grabbed this one. Ridiculously hungry and waiting for supper to happen, I started drinking it. I enjoyed it. (“Hunger is the best sauce,” says Norman’s mother.) The nose is aromatic and mostly citrus, honeydew melon, a bit of mineral, and a maybe a hint of cloves. The same flavours follow through on the palate, plus something like plasticine. It is medium bodied, dry, and slightly viscous, with good acidity. I find that it ends on a sour note, but I often find that with white wine. At $13.29, it’s good value.

Price: $13.29
Score: 86
Value: 4/5
Region: Venetio, Italy
Grapes: Pinot Grigio
UPC: 8007890229247

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Sandhill One 2007

The Sandhill One is a blend of Cab. Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  It bears a strong family resemblance to the Petit Verdot, but somehow it doesn’t quite strike the right note. It is certainly rich and smooth, like the label says, but it is not particularly complex.  Kelly detected a slightly bitter finish, which I can’t say I really noticed, but on the whole it struck me as well done, but in an overly soft, fairly generic new world style. It had me second guessing my positive review of the Petit Verdot, since the two are quite similar in style, but Kelly assures me that the Petit Verdot is just better (I also take comfort from Peanutman’s comment). I tried the 2004 vintage of the One a couple of years ago (when it was four years old) and loved it. Maybe another year or two will improve the 2007.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sandhill Petit Verdot 2006

I was a bit disappointed by the Sandhill Viognier, not because it's a bad wine, but because Sandhill sets a high standard.  This Petit Verdot lives up to that standard.  It is inky and long, with rich dark fruit caressing the tongue.  It's beautifully structured - enough tannin to give it backbone, but soft at the same time.  Maybe not subtle - at least not yet - but impossible not to fall for.  But if you're going to try it, you should hurry.  This wine is part of Sandhill's Small Lots program - only 233 cases made, and fewer than four are left in the province.  The Sandhill release appeared on the shelves only a couple of weeks ago, and the Petit Verdot is already sold out in F'ton.  The only reason I'm willing to post this comment is that I've already ordered in a half dozen from out of town for my cellar.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

I like cab, but I don't seem to drink very much of it.  You can get a great cab for $50+, or a bad one for $15, but a good quality cab at a decent price is a rare bird.  So at $24 the Liberty School cab is a welcome find.  This is a very solid cab with good varietal character in a New World style, but without being overdone.  Kelly says "Full, smooth, fruity, with an edge of tannins for balance - blackberries with a bit of menthol or evergreen."  I'd score it around 88, which I would say is a 4/5 for value for a cab.  Perfect for drinking now with a steak.  It would be very interesting to see how it ages.  At the price I wouldn't expect much, but it seems to have good structure and plenty of fruit. If it does improve with age it would be great value.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Bear Flag Red

The label on this wine gives you a good idea of what it's all about - a bit over the top, but fun.  The label says "smoot and juicy" and Kelly says "This wine knows itself."  It's a blend of including tempranillo and zin, and the zin really comes through.  It's a bit too sweet and candied for my taste, but for $13.99 you can't complain.  Not a wine to sip and savour, but would be tasty with a spicy BBQ. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva 2006

I know we've reviewed this before - in fact twice, with very different views expressed. Now it's back on the shelves at ANBL, so why not give it a third review?  I like it just as much as I did last time - well, I'm not sure I'd give it 91+, but I would definitely give it a big thumbs up, so long as you like a fairly austere style.  But I would say that whether you like this wine is very much a matter of your personal tastes.  Iron Chef called it "an austere Chianti," and I'd say that pretty accurate.  The good news is that this time around the price has actually gone down - $18.99 instead of $24.99.  So, why not give it a try and let us know what you think?
(BTW, if you're searching for it on the ABNL site, it is misspelled as "Cannonnau").

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sandhill Viognier 2008

Sandhill is probably my favourite Canadian winery, and we get an excellent selection of their products here, so I always look forward to the new release.
This Viognier is one of the recent arrivals.  I haven’t had much in the way of varietal Viognier myself, but from what I understand, this effort from Sandhill is not very typical.  Viognier is usually described as floral and aromatic, and is often added to Shiraz to boost the nose, but the nose on the Sandhill Viognier was quite subdued.  It has a viscous palate, with a distinct ‘petrol’ flavor that I always associate with Riesling.  I didn’t taste it blind, but if I had, I’m sure I would have picked it for a young Riesling.  Apart from whether it is typical Viognier, in its own right it is solid but not spectacular.  At the price – $26.48 – I would give it 3+/5 for value;  I’m not disappointed, but I won’t rush out for more.

Kelly tasted it blind - here are her notes:

White –91 – nose of mostly spicy citrus and minerals, also a bit floral; viscous on palate, ending a bit sharp.  Very nice.  A manly style of white, but not an extreme example.  Has good “oomph.”  Guessed pretty much every grape under the sun.  Basically, I was generalizing from my experience with reds mixed with Viognier – where the Viognier seems mostly to contribute floral aromas – and didn’t find it all that floral.  Also, I’ve never had a Viognier that was citrusy like this.  Mostly they’ve been floral with a bit of minerals, and sort of sharp.  Riesling or Gewurz were my first guesses.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sandhill Syrah 2007

Sandhill has hit one out of the park with this classic Aussie style Shiraz.  I like the big Aussie when it’s done well, but too often it’s overdone one way.  This Sandhill Shiraz has the big fruity style, but it’s perfectly balanced – delicious without hitting you over the head.  Not so much “wow,” as “mmmm.”   I won’t give it a score or value rating, but I will say that I had a bottle last week and went out and picked up six more.  I had another glass tonight, and I think I’ll pick up another half dozen tomorrow.  There’s not much left in the province.  $23.49.

Monday, July 12, 2010

D’Arenberg The Laughing Magpie 2007

Michelle picked this up at the Wine Expo, and it is no longer available.  Sounds like that’s not a bad thing.

— Michelle’s Review —

This wine is a 90% Shiraz and 10% Viognier.  I was assuming from trying similar blends that the Viognier would give the Shiraz a bit of a minerally edge, round out the pepper, mellow  the dark fruit. I have to say,  I was a bit hesitant buying this wine because of the experiences with other d’Arenberg wines. I found them a bit to “hot” for my liking.  Well, this one happened to be the same. Perhaps I should have decanted it, let it breath for at least ½ hour…something.  It literally burned my eyes as I brought it up to my nose. At 14.5% its so over the top alcohol.  Personally I think that is a bit ridiculous. I lost everything in the tasting because of that hotness.  Very disappointed. I would give it 2/5 for value (since it was about $25 from what I remember) and a rating of 75/100.  Do people really enjoy that style? Alcohol so overwhelming it burns your eyes before it gets to the lips. Perhaps I am overly sensitive to it and I would love to hear if anyone else had the same experience.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sandalford Estate Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Wow!  I haven’t had much cab lately, as I’ve had a hard time finding one I like at a price I’m willing to pay.  So this is a great find.  It’s drinking beautifully already – great nose, perfectly integrated tannins, excellent fruit and depth, without being the stereotypical Aussie fruit bomb.  I’m very sensitive to the green flavour of under-ripe cab, and there is not the slightest hint of that.  But it isn’t in the least jammy either.  These grapes must have been picked when they were perfectly ripe.  Good complexity already, and only three years old.  This is excellent value at the price.  I will definitely be picking up a bunch more of this, both for drinking now and to see how it evolves.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ménage à Trois 2008 White

I picked this up because of the blend – Chardonnay, Moscato and Chenin Blanc.  I was hoping for the richness of Charonnay and the grapiness of Moscato and some of the all-round deliciousness of a Vouvray that Kelly and I had recently.  Well, I didn’t quite get all that.  Instead of building on each other, the different grapes seemed to dilute each other.  It’s doesn’t have the richness of the Chardonnay, the nose of Moscato or the flavour of Chenin Blanc.  It adds up to an adequate but generic crisp white.  It reminds me of the Hermit Crab I tried a few weeks ago, even though none of the grapes are in common.  I’ll give it a 3/5 for value; I don't feel like I've wasted my money, but I won't buy it again.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lurton Fumées Blanches 2008

This is about what's you'd expect from New Zealand sauvignon blanc for around $20, except that it’s $13.50 and from France.  I have to admit that sauvignon blanc isn’t my favourite grape. I prefer my whites to be fruity and floral, like Gewurz or Muscat, or rich like chardonnay.  But for those of you who like the crispness of sauvignon blanc, this is excellent value at the price.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Monte Antico Toscana 2006

I was surprised to see this little gem in ANBL when I popped in the other day.  Kelly and I drove to North Carolina for a cycling vacation this spring and we stopped at New Hampshire Liquor on our way down.  The Monte Antico was advertised as #61 on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 of 2009, and the blurb was something to the effect that it was the best value wine on the whole list.  For only $11, we had to give it a try.  And it was a winner.  Very well balanced, medium to full bodied, with bright fruit and soft tannins.  WS gave it a 90.  I’m not sure I’d go quite that high, but somewhere in that ball park is about right.  At $11 it was a off the charts for value – it’s the best $13 red I can recall.  At $19 from ANBL, it’s still good value. 

Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon

Monday, June 7, 2010

d'Arenberg The Hermit Crab 2008

I can't say anything bad about this wine, but I don't have a lot of good to say about it either.  Reasonable nose, on the green apple side of things, well balanced, good body, but there isn't anything that stands out for me either.  Kelly and I had it on one of those hot weekend afternoons a couple of weeks ago, side by side with another white (an Aus Verdelho, not an ANBL product), and it didn't stand up very well.  We didn't finish it that day and I put it in the fridge.  Pulled it out a couple of times since then, but it just never particularly appealed to me.  A perfectly decent white wine, but I won't buy it again at this price.

Value 2.5/5
Viognier, Marsanne

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Vilafonte Series C 2003

The blog has been moribund – but it’s not dead yet.  Let’s get it kick started with a review from Michelle, along with a food pairing – and even the recipe!

— Michelle’s Review —

Ok I have to admit, I did not purchase this little gem. Last night Don and I were having pork loin medallions with an apple cider reduction along with mushroom/quinoa pilaf. The inevitable question came up "Do we have any wine?". Yes, its funny, but I have a very small rack and there are certain ones in it, that cannot be touched. The top row, is usually the every day ones that I open at the drop of a hat (you know, under $20/bottle). As you go down all three rows of the rack, the price goes up or my affection grows (my last Chianti skuttled in a suitcase from Italy is on the bottom). So, I say yes, take one from the top. Now, imagine my surprise when this unknown bottle shows up. I am perplexed. I didn’t buy it and I don’t remember adding it to the rack. I read the back and say "Sounds nice, it’s a blend that should go great with the pork".

The nose had the deep berry, slighly earthy hints with a smattering of vanilla. In the glass deep, dark indigo. I got the anticipation giggles. Woo. I was completely surprised. Gorgeous dark fruit cake with plums and tobacco. The finish was velvet smooth with little or no tannic aftershock. WOW. I was in heaven. Went nicely with the pork without overpowering it. I just kept topping up my glass. Its one of those pleasant surprises. I just wish I knew who brought it over, so I could congratulate them.

Pork Loin with Apple Cider

1 pork loin
3 TB each thyme, mint, oregano
3 T Olive oil
½ onion sliced
3 cloves garlic
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
½ cup apple cider or apple juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine herbs. Pat pork loin dry and rub on the herbs (I usually put it in a ziplock and toss it around).  Slice loin into medallions about 1 inch thick.  Heat olive oil over medium heat an oven proof pan. When hot, add onions and garlic.  Sauté for about 3 minutes stirring frequently.  Add pork medallions and brown for 3 minutes each side.  Add  rosemary & apple cider. Place in the preheated oven.  Cook for about 10 more minutes and then broil for about 2 minutes until the pork is browned.  Lots of fresh ground black pepper to serve.

Mushroom Quinoa Pilaf

2 cups chicken broth
1 cup quinoa
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 green onion
2 TB of fresh thyme

Bring stock to a boil and add mushrooms quinoa and onion. Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes or until stock is absorbed. Add the fresh thyme and fluff with a fork.

Price $39.99
Value 3/5
Merlot 41%, Cabernet Sauvignon 39%, Malbec 16%, Cabernet Franc 4%
South Africa, Paarl Region

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rymill Coonawarra MC2 2003

This blog is intended to be about diversity of opinion, so I checked out the review this wine at Nick’s, a major Australian retailer that usually provides well balanced reviews (given that they are trying to seel the stuff).  They didn’t much like this wine.  This makes me think of Gallo Barrelli Creek Cab - WS gave it an 86 in 2003, but we liked much better than when we tried it in 2009.  There’s lots of it left, so if anyone else has tried this wine, please let us know whether you agree with Nick’s or with Iron Chef.

— Iron chef’s Review —

My Coonawarra adventure continues.

Colour - Ruby core, to orangish rim.
Nose - Dried spices - cloves, green peppers, currants and plums. Some hot notes mixed with Vicks. New shoe leather. Floral components. Deeply aromatic and interesting.
Taste - Currants and plums -  more dried cooking spices. Mint and menthol. Some sweat. Very drying palate somewhat austere. Faint coconut and stewed apples late on the palate. Good tannins.
Overall - Loved this wine. Not as peppery as the Yearling, but more complex. I have a feeling that this would improve in my cellar. Screw cap - decanted 45 minutes.

Are there any other Coonawarras except for the Jacob's Creek St Hugo at $40 at ANBL?

Score 91
Value 5/5
Australia – Coonawarra
65% Cab Sauvignon 23% Merlot, 12% Cab Franc
13.5% Alcohol
Price: $19.99
UPC: 9315128981089

Friday, March 26, 2010

Torres San Valentin Parellada 2008

A new grape!  Too bad the wine wasn’t better. 

— Iron Chef’s Review —

The grape, Parellada, is one of three grapes used in the Spanish sparkler Cava.  Never had this before.

Nose- Lemon and honey. Some floral notes and seashells by the seashore.
Taste- Fresh lemon rind, watermelon and more honey. Good mouth-watering acidity. Some vicious notes on the palate.  Also a plasticine taste on the palate that I did not care for.
Overall- certainly smelled better than it tasted- it was fun to try once, probably not a second time.

Price: $12.99
Value 2.5/5
Score 83
Spain, Catalunya
Grape  Parellada
Alcohol 11%
UPC 8410113001177

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rymill Coonawarra Yearling Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

After the early spring we're back to red wine weather, so here's a red wine review.

(BTW - tancred, I know this wine is right up your alley, so leave a comment and let us know if you agree with Iron Chef.  No excuses.)

— Iron Chef’s Review —

Recently I had an aged (1999) Coonawarra Cab and was blown away; I had to try another, not aged though.
Nose- Very pronounced Menthol and Mint. Somewhat Hot. Grenadine mixed with coffee and cocoa. Had an aroma of a very good wine.
Taste- Very peppery, hot alcohol and rich cassis. Again loads of menthol and mint. Smooth tannins and a slight red apple taste. Very happy with the reduced levels of sweetness, drier and peppery.
Overall- highly impressed with this wine- a real step up from the ‘animal wines’ of Yellow tail and Little Piguin. At this price point, comparable to the Merlot Trio from Concha y Toro, Dona Paula Los Cardos Malbec, or  The Wolftrap.  Can’t wait to try the Rymill Coonawarra MC2 this weekend.

Price: $14.99
Value: 4.5/5
Score: 90
Alcohol: 14%
UPC #9315128051010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

False Bay Pinotage 2007

It's always nice to try something a bit different, and pinotage is the signature grape of South Africa.  Too bad this one isn't better.  (But if anyone else liked more than Iron Chef, we'd like to hear from you.)

---- Iron Chef's Review ---

I usually try most Pinotages that go through ANBL, mostly because of the Cathedral Cellars Pinotage, that was here for years. Just a super wine.

Colour- Red and purple core fading to pink on the rim.
Nose- Blueberry Ice Cream, some hot notes and fresh Hamburger. Some hot alcool aromas. And some dank wood smells like most South African wines.
Taste- More Blueberry Jam and cooked hamburger. Good length on the acidity. Grape skin tannins. That same danky wood taste.
Overall-  This wine has that distinctive quality/flaw that most South Africa wines have.

A smell and taste that reminds me of carrying an old wooden canoe down to the river -  old wet wood. Unfortunately this is as good as it gets for Pinotages here in NB - still slightly boring and forgettable. Screw cap, decanted for 25 minutes.

Price: $17.99
Value: 0/5
Score: 80
Alcohol: 14.5%
South Africa- Western Cape
UPC: 6009650000174

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva 2006

I had this wine a few days ago, and my memory isn’t as sharp as I would like, but I loved this wine and I can’t let it go without blogging.  Cannonau is the name for Grenache in Sardinia.  This wine is very much in the old world style.
 It is moderate in alcohol (13.5%), medium bodied and medium coloured.  It bears no resemblance at all to the jammy style of Australian Grenache based wines.  The nose is reserved, but interesting, and I found it beautifully balanced on the palate, with good length and a distinct aftertaste of chocolate.  Kelly found it to be too astringent the first time she tried it, but she had been drinking something sweeter just before.  I mention it by way of saying that this is not a lush wine.  I am not as familiar with Grenache based Châteauneuf-du-Pape as I would like to be, but I found it more elegant and much more interesting than impressive that the Gigondas I have had at a similar price.  I wouldn’t have been disappointed to have paid $40+ for this wine – in fact, it reminds me quite a lot of the Bocca di Lupo.  There is not much left in the province.  If you like an old world style, give it a try and let us know if you like it as much as I do.  But be warned – if you like a lush, ‘big’ new world style, this wine is not for you.

Score: 91+
Value: 5/5
Grape: Grenache
UPC 8006725100256

PS - I gave it a 91+ because I'm having a hard time dealing with score inflation / compression.  Jamie Goode has a very interesting post on the subject.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pierre Sparr Alsace One 2007

Ho hum.  This wine looked so good.  Three of my favourite white grapes - riesling, muscat and gewurtz.  I like Muscat and Gewurz for the fun nose, and
riesling for the lucious oily texture.  But if I’d had this blind, I would never have guessed any of those grapes.  Mostly just neutral with pronounced acidity.  OK, maybe a bit of riesling character on the nose, and if I really try I could say that I got some lychee or something from the gewurz.  Nothing wrong with it, but nothing particularly right with it either.

Price $17.99
Score 85
Value 3/5
Grapes: riesling, pinot blanc, muscat, pinot gris, gewürztraminer
UPC 3263530020017

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Jacob's Creek Reserve Shiraz 2006

Here’s my pick for the value wines sweepstakes.  This has always been a classic
good value Aussie Shiraz, but it seems to me that the price was creeping up towards $30 in the past few years (or maybe that was the Show Reserve?)  Anyway, this one is a winner at the price if you’re looking for a Aussie Shiraz with good fruit but without the overdone jammy-ness that makes the cheaper wines to unappealing.

Price $19.99
Score 88
Value 4/5
UPC 9300727140517

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rosemount Estate Diamond Label Sangiovese 2005

Here we go at last.  Is Iron Chef just pulling our legs, or have we discovered the Holy Grail - a 90 rated wine for less than $15!?  Give it a try and let us know what you think.

— Iron Chef’s Review —

Colour- Pale red with orangish rim.
Nose- Plums with orange marmalade. Olives and a weird Sun dried tomatoes smell. Quite perfumy, some twigs and gravel and rosemary. Interesting.
Taste- Peppery Plum fruit, abundant liquor, earth, nutmeg and green coffee. Sourish with a tart acidity. Very complex for the price.
Overall- This was a solid example of a robust Sangiovese- give me hope for this grape, Italy can learn from this.

Price: $14.99
Value 4.5/5
Score 90
Alcohol 13.5%
South Eastern Australia
UPC #012894100919

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Brumont Tannat-Merlot 2006

I tried this as the Blue Door and quite enjoyed it with dinner, so I thought it would be spectacular value without the restaurant markup.  Unfortunately, I was wrong.  When I tried a bottle at home it struck me as typical in style for a wine in that range – jammy and unbalanced.  It is maybe a notch above average, in that it was only a bit jammy and less unbalanced than most.  I finished most of my glass, but the rest of the bottle was for cooking.

It looks like the search for a good wine cheap wine will keep on keepin’ on.

Price: $15.49
Value: 3.5/5
Region: France
UPC 3372220000236

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Vina Chocalan Carmenere 2008

Every wants good wine at a great price.  Looks like this one doesn't quite make the grade.  Oh well, we'll just have to keep looking.

--- Iron Chef's Review ---

Nose- Green peppercorns, Veggies, Bell & Chile Peppers, Twigs and Burnt Marshmallows.
Taste- very heavy and syrupy. Capsium in a Cherry Slurpee.
Overall- a good Carmenere for the price, but no different than the Casillero del Diablo, Errazuriz, G7 Reserva at that price point. The real values are in the PNKT or the Sunrise Carm.

Value 2.5/5
Score 85
Price: $13.49
Chile, Maipo
Alcohol 14%
UPC #7804603660455

Monday, February 15, 2010

Concha y Toro Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, 2005

I too have been turned to the white side lately.  Here is peanutman's tale:

--- peanutman's review ---

Can't believe I'm drinking more whites than reds lately, but I like experience. Reds start back this Thursday with a Super Tuscan for my 41st Bday. Here is a wine that I loved, but for those reading please take into consideration that I don't know much about white wines.

Concha y Toro Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, 2005. Value 5 out of 5, score 92. $14.29 for a 375 ml. I have never paid more than $18 for a white, but this was well worth the money.

In the latest Tidings magazine, they give the 2006 a score of 90 and describe it as such: Bouquet is fresh, yet with complex citrus, honey and spicy notes. (My take on the 05, grapefruit and honey). Displays similar finesse on the refreshingly light palate, with lingering sensations of honeyed sweetness and deftly balanced acidity. Bears an extraordinary resemblance to Sauternes. My take on the 05 is pretty much the same but I'm not certain about the acidity. If this is what a Sauternes tastes like, I will have to try one. Not that I know what heaven tastes like, nevertheless this was heaven in my mouth. BTW, this has a beautiful golden color.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mission Hill S.L.C. Syrah 2004

Things have been quiet on the blog lately - I've mostly been drinking wine out of my cellar, so I haven't had a lot of new stuff to blog about.  So I'm going to bend the rules a bit with this review from Peter.  The Mission Hill SLC Syrah isn't currently available at ANBL, but many wines from Mission Hill are, including others in the SLC series, so I figure that's close enough. 

--- Peter's Review ---

This one is not available in New Brunswick, but I see a few of Mission Hill's
S.L.C and Oculus wines are, so it might be a nice relative comparison.

Nose - Initially plush floral aromas, a distinct chocolate hint, with delicious
raspberry reduction scents were very attractive. With some air it became chock
full of vanilla and a less delightful soapy raspberry smell.

Taste- medium-full body with a good structure.  The tannins were there, but well
integrated into the backbone.  No heat.  Well balanced with hints of good
acidity. There was a raspberry and cherry flavor throughout, and later with air
a significant dose of oaky vanilla.  It hinted at some earthiness, but hard to
pull out.  It has a freshness that was enjoyable.

Overall a nice wine.  Not a great value. But enjoyable none-the-less. I long
debated when to drink this one, and figured six years old would be a safe time.
This was based upon the initial recommendation from the sommellier in Kelowna,
as well as a few reviews on cellartracker.  I presume it was as good as any
time to drink.

Region: Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada
Price: ~$35 at fine wine boutique in Kelowna
Value 3/5
Score: 88+ points

Monday, January 18, 2010

Concha y Toro Trio Chardonnay blend 2007

Here’s a good value white from a well-known producer – a bit surprising that it’s no longer available at ANBL.  Perhaps they’re simply out of stock, since 2007 seems to be the current release.  In that case we can look forward to the 2008 next summer.

— Peanutman’s review —

I'm not too much into white wines. I like Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, but other whites are not very appealing to me, especially when too dry. I'll have to expand on my tastes when summer roles around. I remember buying the Trio with the Sauvignon Blanc and another that had Chardonnay for my birthday bash last year. I was really surprised with the Chardonnay version and found it better than the Sauvignon Trio. I guess I bought another bottle of the Chardonnay trio as I found one in my little cellar this past weekend. Really good wine for the price. The colour is pale yellow with some greenish tints. The aromas are of fresh fruit, a little bit of lemon and lime, but what I noticed mostly was honey. The taste is fruity and fresh, a little acidic (especially with salted pretzels)but with good structure. I forgot it in the fridge for a couple of days and it was still good on day three. Good value for money in my book but not available at NBLC anymore. 

Price:$15.79 (no longer listed)
Value: 5 / 5
Grape: Chardonnay (70%), Pinot Grigio (15%), Pinot Blanc (15%)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Penfolds Kalimna Shiraz Bin 28 1998

It’s not so long ago that I started building a cellar, so it’s only now that I’m starting to drink some wines that have been cellared for a few years.  This Bin 28 illustrates that older is not necessarily better. This is from the middle of the Penfolds range – the current release is almost $40 in NB – and as I recall, 1998 was supposed to be a very good year, yet this wine didn’t show particularly well.  It was well balance and well made, but the fruit had faded and it there wasn’t a lot of complexity to replace it.  Still enjoyable, but at least a couple of years past its peak.  A solid 88 nonetheless.  It’s not fair to give it a value score.  If you have any of these in your cellar, drink up.

South Australia, Shiraz
Price: $38.29 (current release)
UPC: 012354071834

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Casillero del Diablo Gewurtztraminer 2008

I love Gewurz – along with Riesling, it turned me on to white wine.  A decent Gewurz for $14 sounds like a good find.

— Iron Chef’s Review —

Nose - wet Stones, Tropical Fruit- lychees, Passion Fruit and Mango. Lime Leaves.
Taste- Mango+ Passion Fruit gelato. Minerally acidy. But some soapy mouth feel that disappeared with Stacy's Jerk Chicken.
Overall- Better than the rest of the New World Gewurtz that are in ANBL, but falls short of the more expensive ones from Alsace like the Pierre Sparr or Ribeauville, but I haven't tried the Sumac Ridge yet.

Chile- Maule Valley, 13.5%
95% Gewurtztraminer, 5% Riesling
Value: 4/5
Score: 87
Price: $13.79
UPC: 7804320127217

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bonterra Chardonnay 2007

For immediate purposes, this is the most useful of Iron Chef’s New Year’s wines; a good chardonnay at a reasonable price that (unlike the other New Year’s wines) is still widely available.

— Iron Chef’s Review —

Nose: Butter, Oak, Pear, Nutmeg and Cinnamon
Taste: Pear and Melon with a nice spicy edge of Nutmeg/Cinnamon and Cumin. The finish was very creamy and full.
Overall: A very dependable Lobster wine

California- Mendocino
Price: $21.99
Value: 4/5
Score: 89
UPC: 082896780419

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chateau Giscours 1981

Here is the highlight of Iron Chef’s New Year’s wines – “the finest wine I have ever tasted.” Originally purchased in NB, about 25 years ago.

— Iron Chef’s Review —

Colour: Brick coloured core to a yellow rim with lots of browns in between.
Nose: Dried spices like cloves and bay leaves. Dried leather. Dried Flowers. Dried Tobacco.  Surprising Red Licorice fruit for a older wine. Someone from the tasting said it smelled like Saddle soap- not sure what that smells like.
Taste- Very smooth - tannins still present. More dried favours of Leather, Tobacco, spices and Cherries. Interesting notes of a Truffle Olive oil. Had a creamy butterscotch finish.
Overall- We have tasted a number of late '70s, early '80s Bordeaux and this was the best yet, the wine was still very favourful and had surprising Tannins and fruit - probably the finest wine I have tasted. Decanted 45 minutes.

Bordeaux- Margaux
Score: Tough to quantify with a number

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva 2006

I see the word “vanilla” appears many times in this review.  Doesn’t sound like my kind of wine, which is good to know - the mediocre reviews are as useful as the raves.

— Peanutman’s Review —

Smell - At the start, it was wonderful. Very blackberry(ish) with a hint of vanilla. Four hours later, very vanilla(ish) with a hint of blackberry. It was nicer at the start.

Taste - Very much a Chilean fruit bomb Cab at the start with a hint of vanilla. Decent tannins with a medium length finish. After four hours, same as the smell as it became very vanilla(ish), but it had a longer finish. It seemed smoother, a little less fruit bombish and a little better. For a wine that spent 8 months in American Oak, I found it a little surprising that it was so vanilla(ish). I'm wondering how this wine would taste in a year or two as it evolved a lot over four hrs.

I have a hard time rating this wine as I was not expecting that much fluctuation in smell and taste. Therefore, I'm not giving a rating. Having said that, it would be somewhere in the 80's for a Chilean Cab, but I don't know where in the 80's. I might make up my mind if I try it again; doubtful.

I was expecting more, but at the same time I wasn't upset with the wine. I just wished it would have had something to talk about (and no not a song). I believe the 2005 was a value red at a previous wine festival, but the 06 leaves me puzzled.

Valle Del Maipo, Chile
UPC 089419007152

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pio Cesare Barolo 1998

This is the second of Iron Chef’s New Year’s wines.  I have a particular interest in this one, as I have a number of bottles of the 2001 Ornato in my cellar – it’s reassuring to know the normale is aging so well.

— Iron Chef’s Review —

Colour- very lightly coloured pale red to orange-ish rim.
Nose: Very Earthy, newer leather, warm oak notes. Stewed Cranberries. Fresh anise and dried flowers. Some hot alcohol aromas.
Taste: A tannic attack to the back of the jaw. Still tasted young. Fresh herbs of Mint, Rosemary and green peppercorns. Very earthy on the palate- like a forest floor- not a barnyard. Dried Cranberry fruit. Very Long finish. Decanted 90 mins.

14%, Alba Italy, Nebbiolo

Newfoundland LC Clearance Oct 2009 $49.95
Value 5/5
Score 96

Monday, January 4, 2010

Moet et Chardon Cuvee Dom Perignon 1992

It looks like Iron Chef had some interesting wines for New Year's.  He gave me four reviews, and I'll start with a teaser - the traditional champagne, which didn't live up to the star billing.

Anyone else have some good / bad / indifferent New Year's  bottles to tell us about?

— Iron Chef’s Review —

Nose: Warm Bread-like yeasty notes. Salted Cashews and Staley minerals
Taste: Brioche with nuts- mostly cashews. Dry mineral notes and grapefruit. Finish was surprisingly short.
Overall: this was the third time that I had tasted this vintage and I was the most disappointed with this bottle. It just tasted dried out and abrupt in its finish.
Not scored.

Alcohol 12.8%
Purchased at ANBL- 6yrs ago about $225
UPC #3185370362174

Friday, January 1, 2010

Primitivo del Salento Classica IGT, Cantele

Happy New Year to everyone!  I hope the new year's festivities haven't turned you off wine, because we have a review of a good value red from peanutman to start off the year.

— Peanutman’s Review —

I've discovered in 2009 two different types of grapes that I really like, one being the Petit Verdot and the other the Primitivo. I'd rate this one the same as the Farnese (which is no longer available), but I would say this one was a little better. It had a spicy, flowery and cherry smell. It was an easy drinking wine, with a little spiciness to it and just enough tannins not to be overpowering. Nice wine to drink by itself.

Price $15.49
Value: 4.5/5
Score: 88
UPC: 8009015033425