Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year PLCB

This will be my last post of 2009 and I want to use it to award the gold medal for sophistry to the PLCB. I came across an on line offer on the PLCB site for splits of Freixinet Brut at the sale price of $1.98 each. This works out to just under $8.00 the bottle, a very nice price for that excellent Cava. My local store had it alright, but it was priced at $3.67 the split. When I objected the salesman told me that that was the price and that computers were often wrong. Thereupon I asked to speak to the store manager and brought up the site for him (which, incidentally, he had claimed that he could not access). After studying this fo a while, he told me that the sale price was for single splits, what they had was a three-pack. This was, of course, a completely different animal. He then kindly offered to order in the sale bottles for me from a store which had them on hand if I paid the U.P.S. charge of $10.00 for a half case, an offer that, having done the math, I declined.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz/Viognier 2007

This wine is truly multinational, being the result of a Franco-Californian cooperation and grown in Australia. The grape combination is a conscious imitation of Rhone practice, and it does resemble a Cote Rotie in some ways. It is distinguished by a strong red berry flavor with a very peppery note and hints of chocolate. Not available in PA presently, but it sells in NJ for about $17.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Marques de Irun Verdejo 2008

This Spanish white from Rueda doesn't have the slightly aerated character of most Verdejos. It exhibits a nicely blended peach character, tempered by sufficient acidity, but does slide off into a certain sweetness at the end. At $12.99 it does not compete successfully with similarly priced New Zealand or Argentinian whites.

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut

This Catalan sparkling wine has been my standard holiday bubbly for some time. It does not vary over the years, is consistently pleasing, with sour apple and nutty flavors and conveys the impression of extreme freshness. It doesn't come up to a superior Champagne, but then it costs about a quarter as much. $9.99.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Eugenio de Almeida Red 2007

This is a very simple Portuguese country red. It comes without any varietal indication, but is, in fact, a blend of four little known local grapes. It has a slightly smoky, but not unpleasant, taste with red berry elements. However at $9.99 it is grossly overpriced, being available for three dollars less elsewhere.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Montessiera Chardonnay/Macabeo 2008

This Spanish white comes from Aragon, in the foothills of the Pyrennees. It has a nice blend of fruit (mostly apple and pear) and just enough acidity in the finish to make it interesting. Sadly, however, as is so often the case in PA, it is well overpriced at $10.99.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A very loud complaint

I noticed on line that the Navarro Correas Chardonnay was being offered on sale for $7.99 at at least a dozen locations. When I went to my local store in Hummelstown they had it alright but the price was $12.99. I then asked if it could be shipped in from another location at the sale price and was told yes, but I would be charged the U.P.S. fee for the shipment. And Merry Christmas to you too, P.L.C.B. At the very least, I would think that, in a standardized statewide system, sale prices would apply throughout the system. Is it not time for us to react at the polls to these extortionate practices?

Starborough Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This New Zealand white is fairly typical of the variety. It comes on with a grassy nose and delivers citrus and tropical fruit flavors. It's a bit on the thin side, lacks the mineral flintiness which characterizes the better Marlboroughs and has a very short finish. Certainly not bad, but even at the sale price of $11.99 you can do better.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Alta Vista Premium Torrontes 2008

This Argentine white has a strong flowery aroma, as any respectable Torrontes will have. It tastes strongly of pear. I detected citrus undertones but my CDC found it one dimensional and objected to the fact that it underwent no transformation whatever on the tongue. $9.99, and you're probably better off buying a New Zealand white at that price.

Barefoot Pinot Grigio

I admit to harboring a prejudice against the cheaper California wines and this one does nothing to disabuse me of that. It's so generic that it comes without a harvest year, has none of the bite characteristic of the variety and, to make matters worse, is decidedly on the sweet side. It comes with a sticker boasting that it took a double gold medal at a N.Y. tasting. I would not even speculate about what its competitors might have been like. $5.99, but don't waste your money on it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Funky Llama Chardonnay 2008

This heavily marketed Argentine white is not the product of a single vineyard but rather of a combine which buys up grapes from various sources, produces the wine and then sells it under its own label, usually a cute one meant to appeal to the American consumer. If you're on the lookout for a bargain quaff you might want to try this. It's fruity, with citrus accents and no oak but disintegrates at the finish. Drinkable, but no more. Still, at the present sale price of $4.99 it's certainly cheap.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Domaine du Tariquet Sauvignon/Semillon 2008

Like many whites from Gascony this has just a hint of the "petillant", without being actually bubbly. It has an intense flowery nose and peach and white mellon flavors. At $9.99 it competes with many New Zealand whites at this price level.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ergo Rioja 2006

This Spanish red, a Rioja but marketed by a Galician combine owned by Gallo, is made mostly from the Tempranillo grape. Allowed to breathe for at least an hour ( I know that I harp on this ad nauseam, but it really is essential), it exhibits a nicely balanced character, mostly dark cherry and vanilla, with just enough acidity and soft tannins to give it substance. It was perfect with our steak. At the sale price of $8.99 it constitutes a genuine bargain, to be snapped up while it lasts.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Finca Monte Lindo Malbec 2007

Readers of this column will know that I tend to be partial to the Argentine Malbecs, but this one doesn't make it. Even after a good hour's airing a bitter taste overrode whatever other elements this had to offer. $7.99.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Jibe Sauvignon Blanc 2007

This white from New Zealand's Marlborough valley comes from an ambitious vineyard (they sponsor major sporting events) and features strong citrus notes with just a hint of the freshly mown grass aroma that the whites from that region are known for. It's attractively priced at $7.99.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Torres Sangre de Toro 2007

In the 70's, before Spanish wines had established themselves outside of Spain, a blind tasting was held in France in which a Torres Gran Reserva was matched against all the first growth Burgundies. It won hands down. This is their entry level wine, and while it's far from that level, it is nevertheless a nice bottle: a simple, robust mix of cherry and red berries with fairly mild tannins and no break-up at the end. It even stood up to our four alarm chili. The sale price of $7.99 is about average for this wine.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Terra de Lobos Castelao/Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

It's a truism that a lot of reds have to breathe a good hour or so to be drinkable, and this Portuguese is no exception to the rule. If drunk straightaway there is a somewhat unpleasant, almost bitter dominance of oak, but once this dissipates one is rewarded with a nice blend of raspberry and cherry notes. At $7.99 this is priced a little on the high side.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A note

Several of the Navarro Correas wines are presently being remaindered at $7.99. This is the time to stock up!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Rio Seco Torrontes 2008

This Argentine white is presently on sale for $13.99 for the 1.5 liter bottle. It presents itself with largely citrus flavors, heavily tempered with anise, and even more than is typical of the variety, has an oily feel in the mouth to it. This is not everybody's thing, but if it happens to be yours, this wine grows on you.

Lobster Reef Pinot Gris 2008

This New Zealand white, while it exhibits nice enough fruit flavors, mostly pear, lacks both the bite of a good Pinot Gris and the special fresh grass quality characteristic of Marlborough Valley wines. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just not very distinguished. $9.49.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Casillero del Diablo Carmenere 2008

Unlike the 2007, previously reviewed here, the caramel notes of this Chilean red break up, leaving one with a slightlu unpleasant, almost bitter, taste. This condition is alleviated by a couple of hours of breathing, but that's a long time to have to think ahead. $7.99, on sale.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Vinha Conchas Tinto 2005

This red from Portuguese Estremadura, north of Lisbon, if allowed to breathe for at least an hour, will reward you with a nice blend of red berry and currant, just tempered by a touch of very light tannins. It's basically a simple country wine, but a good one, and should improve in the bottle. $6.99.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Domaine du Gouyat Bergerac Sec 2008

Bergerac, the region between Bordeaux and the Dordogne, was made famous by Edmond de Rostand's Cyrano, but it also produces both reds and whites of some distinction. The best of them are noted for their fiery, assertive quality. This particular Sauvignon Blanc has a nice blend of citrus and melon flavors, but is a little subdued. Perhaps it will gain from being aged a year or two in the bottle. $8.99.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Colombelle Blanc 2008

This Gascon white, a blend of two local grapes, Colombelle and Ugny, comes on with an almost overpowering fruity flavor, largely peach and citrus, with insufficient acidity to balance it. Gascon whites are generally very good, but this is not one of them, unless you like your wine fruity and sweet. $6.99.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Elm Tree Malbec 2007

This Argentine red is a nice entry level Malbec with dark fruit, mostly plum flavors in addition to caramel and a slightly acidic finish to give it some kick. $6.99, but you might want to know that it's being offered in N.Y. at $4.00 the bottle!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cavit Pinot Grigio 2007

The holiday season is almost upon us and if you're looking for something to serve at an office party or the like, here's your wine. This white from the Veneto has a certain crispness and at least some of the flinty fruit flavor one associates with the good Pinot Grigios. It's certainly not a distinguished wine but it's drinkable and at the present sale price of $10.99 for the 1.5 liter bottle it sure won't break the bank.

Drylands Dry Riesling 2007

We gave this New Zealand white from the Marlborough valley a try because my CDC maintains that she's never met a New Zealand wine she didn't like. In fact, this wine has nothing in common with the treacly, fruit juice like Rieslings one generally encounters in this country. It has a bright mix of peach and citrus flavors with just the right note of acidity and not even a hint of sweetness. At the present sale price of $9.99 it's a genuine bargain.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wildberry Estate Shiraz 2007

This Australian red from the Margaret valley is subjected to two fermentations. The result is an extremely smooth blend of dark berry flavors with just a hint of chocolate. Thre's a long lasting aftertaste, mostly oak. The alcohol content is high at 14.5%, but what we have here is no Australian fruit bomb. This is a very nice wine indeed, which will complement any steak or roast and for once the price, $9.99, is extremely attractive.

Arca Nova Vinho Verde 2008

This white from the northernmost Portuguese province is fresh, just noticeably effervescent, and meant to be drunk very young. With just 10% alcohol it's an ideal sipping wine, but also goes well with practically any fish. Not much of a nose but distinct apple and pear flavors. $7.99.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

La Yunta Torrontes 2008

This Argentine white announces itself with an almost floral bouquet and tastes very decidely of peach with a citrus finish. It makes a great sipping wine and goes well with chicken, pork and all but the most delicate of fish. At $7.99 it's attractively priced.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Activity report

We are just back from three weeks in Europe and on the high seas. We drank quite a few wines, most of them mediocre (the wine prices on MSC Cruises for anything decent were outlandish), a few pretty good, two really excellent, a Brunello de Montalcino which, however was completely beyond the price norms that prevail here, the second a red Rioja, a Conde de Valdemar Crianza 2005. The wine, made from mostly Tempranillo with an admixture of Mazuela, is aged for over two years, first in stainless steel, then in oak. It has a lovely blend of red berries, tempered by oak to the point of acidity. My guess is you'll either love it or hate it. In PA it's priced at $13.99 but is available in NJ for under $11, which is what we paid in Barcelona.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Altos Los Hormigas Malbec 2008

This is a nice, well balanced Argentine red, with the expected blend of cherry, red berry and chocolate. It's lighter than most Malbecs but still mounts a fairly strong finish. The price, $11.99, is no great bargain, it's available for two dollars less in neighboring states.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Walden Crest Pinot Grigio 2008

Alright, this is a mass production item, but unlike this winery's other products which are strictly California, it's grown in Italy. It's hardly very substantial but it's nice and light, with citrus and melon notes and noticeable but not unpleasant tannins. If you have to provide for the multitudes at some official function, this beats the plonk that's usually served on such occasions and, at the sale price of $9.99 for the magnum, will hardly break the bank.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Alta Vista Premium Malbec 2007

This red is the middle of the line product from this Argentine winery, being aged six months in oak. It's on the light side for a Malbec, tastes of cherry and red currants, with the usual element of chocolate. The price, $9.99, is about average for this wine, which can be found on sale elsewhere for two dollars less, but also for much more.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fontana Candida Pinot Grigio 2007

Alright, this is a mass produced wine from the Banfi combine, but if you're looking for an inexpensive white to serve at an office party, or just to sip on a weekday evening before dinner, this might be your thing. It's light, tastes of citrus, with a flinty note, so that you at least get some impression of what Pinot Grigio is about. The sale price of $11.99 for the magnum bottle makes it an attractive buy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fuente Milano Verdejo/Viura 2008

This white from Rueja in NW Castille is a blend of two indigenous Spanish grapes, the latter being more usually turned into sparkling wines. It has a nice, fresh presence and tates of citrus and apple. It makes an excellent accompaniment to more assertive foods requiring a white wine, such as a curry. The price, $8.99, is alright.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Goats in Villages Shiraz/Pinotage 2007

Speaking of cute names... My cdc and I differ on this, mostly Shiraz, South African red. She found it pleasantly robust, with strong red fruit and oak flavors, with just enough acidity to make it interesting. While I concede those points, I thought that the tannins were sufficiently undeveloped to create an almost gritty taste. Perhaps a year or two in the bottle will take care of that. Anyway, at the sale price of $8.99 you might want to try a bottle.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pillar Box White 2007

This South Australian attempts to find a niche for itself at the lower end of the price scale. It is light, with apple amd citrus flavors, and a touch of butterscotch that not everyone will like. Still, at $6.99, you might give it a try.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Layer Cake Malbec 2007

I'm leery of wines with cute names and this one, so to speak, takes the cake. Still, this Argentine red is a nice enough wine. It exhibits the usual plum, dark berry and chocolate to be found in Malbecs grown in the Mendoza valley, along with an element of spice. The only thing to be held against it is a slight, not entirely pleasant, hint of break-up in the aftertaste. But, at the present sale price of $8.99, a good value.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Anciano Tempranillo Reserva 2003

This Valdepenas red, from the very south of La Mancha, comes wrapped in gold wire. The story goes that an 18th century Spanish grandee was almost killed with poison that had been introduced into a bottle of the local wine. Upon recovering, he ordered that henceforth all products of the region be so wrapped to prevent their adulteration. This particular bottle has been aged in oak for five years, but it needs at least an hour if not more of breathing to release its red berry, vanilla and oak flavors. While pleasant enough, it's not particularly distinguished. $8.99.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Selaks Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This New Zealand white is a very nice wine indeed. It comes at you with a pungent whiff of new mown grass in the best Marlborough valley tradition and exhibits a well defined and long lasting mix of citrus and tropical fruit flavors. The acidity is just sufficient to make it a really interesting bottle. The price too is right at $9.99.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Alamos Chardonnay 2008

Alamos used to be a mass producer of plonk in Argentina. Some time back the label was acquired by the Catenas, a reputable family of vintners, as their entry level wine, and completely transformed. Like the other varietals from the same vineyard previously reviewed here, this is an eminently successful product. In general, I avoid the cheaper Chardonnays, they tend to be extremely dull, but this one shows nice balance, with a nose suggesting freshly mown hay (for you history buffs, there is no poison gas involved here) and flavors evoking apple and melon. And at the sale price of $7.99, it's a steal.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

As is the case with the Malbec and the Torrontes from this Argentinian winery previously reviewed on this site, this is a very successful product. The wine is not complex, but offers a nice nose and an even blend of red fruit, mostly cassis, and caramel tones. At the sale price of $7.99 it is a remarkably good buy and if you're looking for an everyday staple, you might consider stocking up on it.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Solnia Rioja 2007

This straightforward Spanish red, made from the Tempranillo grape and aged for six months in steel barrels, presents a pleasant enough blend of cherry and dark berries, with a caramel finish. At $10.99 it is somewhat overpriced.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tohu Sauvignon Blanc 2007

This white from a (the only?) Maori owned winery aspires to a place among the superior wines of New Zealand. It exhibits a nice blend of citrus and herbaceous flavors, with an element of acidity, but, on balance, doesn't quite make it. The finish, in particular, disappoints. $13.99.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Casillero del Diablo Shiraz 2005

Like its two stablemates previously reviewed here, this Chilean red is robust, with plum and quite a lot of spice, but perhaps a shade less interesting. Still, at the sale price of $7.99, it represents an excellent buy. It complemented our porterhouse very nicely.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2008

The really good New Zealand Marlboroughs, like the Giesen, go well beyond the merely citrus tastes that characterize the cheaper ones. The good ones have a truly delightful element of newly mown grass about them, but are expensive. This bottle, while it does not quite reach that level of distinction, nevertheless has a nice combination of lime and pineapple tastes and at least a hint of grassiness. At the sale price of $8.99 it's a genuine bargain. Get it while it lasts.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Vina Acered Crianza 2005

This is the aged in oak for six months version of the Spanish Tempranillo/Garnacha blend previously reviewed here and it's well worth the extra money. Here we get a very smooth blend of dark berries and chocolate that neither lurches into sweetness nor gives off as much as a hint of bitterness. A nice everyday table wine. $8.49.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Sierra Cantabria Rioja 2007

This Spanish red is made mostly from the Tempranillo grape. It has a reasonably good blend of cherry, plum, vanilla and licorice, but has a tendency to produce a slightly off aftertaste. We drank it as an after dinner wine, it would probably be better as an accompaniment to a red meat. For once, the PA sale price of $8.99 is pretty favorable.

Pighin Pinot Grigio 2007

We ordered this bottle at the Louis Brasserie in Lewisburg, for a restaurant wine the price seemed not excessive at $24. We were, however, disappointed. The vineyard is on the shores of the Adriatic, not in the Friulian hills, and perhaps the difference lies therein. Instead of the sharp and crisp taste associated with a good Pinot Grigio we got a rather light fruitiness which, as soon as the wine warmed up in the glass a little, turned slightly bitter. The PA price of $15.95 is ludicrous, this bottle is available elsewhere for $11.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bodega Septima Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Like the Malbec from the same vineyard recently reviewed here, this Argentine red is a good everyday table wine. It has a nicely rounded taste of black cherry, with perhaps a touch of strawberry and spices tempered by oak. It drinks sufficiently smoothly to be enjoyed by itself. The sale price of $9.99 is about at the national average.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Excursion to IL

We are just back from a few days in the heartland, and here is my report on the wines we drank.

Marques de Caceres White 2007. The white Riojas have the reputation of being thin and metallic, but not this one. Made from the Viura grape, it has a nice citrusy bouquet and finishes evenly, a good choice to go with fish. We paid $9.99 but it;s available in NJ for two dollars less. The PA price of $14.09 verges on the grotesque.

Kris Pinot Grigio 2007. This is a nice mid level Pinot Grigio from the Veneto with a distinctive light fragrance, accents of melon and the required flintyness. It isn't in a claas with the Santa Margaretha, but then it costs half as much. The IL price was $10.99, about average, $12.99 in PA is clearly too much.

Santa Julia Reserva Malbec 2007. This is a nice Argentine red with accents of cherry and blackberry and a distinct vanilla character. A good nose and a smooth finish. IL price $10.99 (offered on sale at $8.99 in NJ), Pa 12.99 obviously too much.

Willow Crest Syrah 2007. This Washington State red demonstrates that the winemakers in the Northwest have come a long way. For a relatively moderately priced wine it exhibits a nice mixture of blackberry and pepper, although I found the finish somewhat over the line. $9.99, not currently available in PA.

Domaine des Cassagnoles Reserve 2008. I really liked this French white from Gascony. It has a lovely freshness about it, with grapefruit and melon accents and a nice bite to it. It will stand up to even heavily spiced foods. $8.99, not on offer in PA.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Danzante Pinot Grigio 2007

This is a pleasant enough wine, with mild touches of tropical fruit and citrus, but I found it somewhat disappointing as it lacks the flintyness one associates with the variety. The sale price of $7.99 is attractive though, if you're just looking for something to sip on a lazy summer's day.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bodega Septima Malbec 2007

This Argentine red is a nice everyday dinner wine. It comes on with a somewhat subdued blackberry and plum taste, accompanied by a strong hint of vanilla, rather than the more usual chocolate that is characteristic of the variety. Once again, this wine must breathe for a good while to be at its best. $8.99 on sale, which gets the price down to what is close to the national average. Might still improve in the bottle.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Alamos Malbec 2008

The Catena family of Argentina set out to create the equivalent of a French first growth from the Malbec grape. While they fell short of that lofty goal, they have grown a very pleasing everyday red, with a nice mix of dark berry and cherry, tempered by the chocolate characteristic of the variety, and oak, with a very even finish. My thanks to Marc at the Hummelstown store for calling this to my attention. $9.99, about average for this wine, but available on sale for two dollars less elsewhere.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Moulin de Vissandre 2007

This country wine from Languedoc has a pleasing taste combination of dark berries and plum, with just enough of a tannin finish to make it interesting. It is produced by a young woman, so listen up you feminists out there! $8.99.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Luzon 2007

Given the proviso that it has an hour to breathe (and this is essential), this Spanish red from Murcia in the extreme South, a blend of Shiraz and Monastrel, is a pleasing companion to red meats. It has a plentiful nose, a mix of dark berry and cherry tastes and a licorice/tannin finish that stops short of bitterness, but only if it has breathed sufficiently. $8.99, two dollars less in more fortunate states.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Vina Acered Tempranillo/Garnacha 2007

This young Spanish red from Calatayud is an honest country wine with no great pretensions. Once more we differed. My lovely table companion found it to be agreeable, with just enough spice to complement our green pepper and beef casserole. I thought that the dark chocolate note went over the line into bitterness. $6.99.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Campos Reales Tempranillo 2008

Although we usually agree on wines, my charming dinner companion and I were of two minds about this young Spanish red from La Mancha. She thought it unidimensional, with just too much of the earthiness typical of wines grown in hot, dry areas. I did not mind the very strong taste of black pepper, which is the dominant note, but eventually gives way to cherry and blueberry. $8.99, probably too much.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Santa Ana Torrontes 2007

This Argentine white is nicely light for summer drinking. It has a strong citrus taste, with some melon also perceptible; a distinctly peppery aftertaste. $6.99.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chateau de Paillet Quancard 2005

This Premieres Cotes de Bordeaux, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend, comes from an established vineyard which, however, seems to be going through a rough patch. The nose is all but absent, the Merlot element dominates, the dark berry taste is a bit vague and what is intended to be a cedary finish is all but overwhelmed by the tannins. Not a bad wine, certainly drinkable, but a disapointment for a 2005, a great year in Bordeaux. $11.99.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flichman Malbec Reserva 2007

This may be an obsession of mine, but, once more, this Argentine red from the Mendoza district has to be allowed to breathe. Once it has, it yields a nice blend of plum, dark berries and, in the Malbec tradition, chocolate. $8.99.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Redcliffe Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This New Zealand white from the Marlborough valley has a light nose but then comes on with a nice blend of citrus (a lot of grapefruit) and melon and just a hint of the lemon grass so characteristic of the region. Not a bad buy at the sale price of $7.99. It also comes in magnums, and if those go on sale, stock up.

Chapel Hill Angelica 2007

This Australian white, from a Swiss owned vinery, is made from the Verdelho grape, generally associated with Portugal. It is a nice blend of citrus and melon flavors with a good nose and a decent finish. At the sale price of $6.99 it is something of a bargain.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Green Point Cabernet Shiraz 2004

Australian Cabernet/Shiraz blends are meant to produce a wine that, while fruity, is not overwhelmed by tannins, which many wines from South Australia are. This exemplar tastes of plum and black berries, with more than a hint of pepper, but has a rather weak finish. Drinkable, but no great bargain at $8.99.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mastroberardino Radici Fiano di Avellino 2006

This Italian white from Campania, near Rome, is an expensive wine, being remaindered at $6.99. The reason is clearly that it's somewhat over the hill. The mixed pome flavors, along with an element of nuts, still come through, but rather faintly. Still, if you're looking for a decent everyday aperitif wine you could do a lot worse at this price.

Sanleonino Chianti Classico 2004

A note: This is now being remaindered at $6.99. Get it!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Swanson Pinot Grigio 2006

Unlike most whites, this Napa Valley wine must be allowed to breathe for some time, else it comes on with a bitter taste. What you get afterwards is a decent but modest Pinot Grigio, with the usual mix of apple and citrus, but the taste dissipates quickly. Still, at the present sale price of $5.99, you might consider this as an everyday quaff for this summer.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sieber Road Shiraz 2005

This Australian red displays a nice mix of dark fruit flavors, cherry predominating, with accents of oak. There is just enough spice to make it interesting. It complimented our spaghetti primavera very nicely. Not, by any means, a great wine, but a good one and decently priced at $7.99.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Nandu Malbec 2006

This Argentine red turns out to be something of a disappointment. It has, along with cherry and strawberry flavors, just a hint of the chocolate that one expects of a good Malbec, but there is rather too much tannin and a tangy element that, in the aftertaste, stops just short of bitterness. At $12.99 it's clearly overpriced.

Te Awa Boundary 2002

This New Zealand red is a blend, whose components vary from year to year. In '02 it was made up of two thirds Merlot and a third each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The latter grape gives it an intense fruitiness, which is tempered by plentiful tannins and cedar elements, with detectable licorish in the aftertaste. At $9.99 it represents relatively good value, but it must be allowed to breathe and should probably be drunk soon.

Sellaks Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This New Zealand wine has all of the intense aromas and strongly pronounced melon and citrus flavors that characterize the whites from the Marlborough district, but lacks the hint of fresh grass that the best of them display. Still, it's a very agreeable sipping wine and can go with chicken or more strongly flavored fish dishes that would not be overwhelmed by it. $9.99.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fat Bastard Chardonnay 2007

This is not quite up to the level of the reds that this Provencal vineyard produces, but, nevertheless, it's a pleasant enough wine, with accents of pear, tempered with oak. At the sale price of $9.99 it's worth getting a bottle or two.

Eagle's Rock Pinot Noir 2007

The fact that this Argentine Red is grown in the highest wine growing region in the world, at over 6,000 feet, no doubt makes it into something of a curiosity but also probably accounts for the fact that it is on the thin side and rather too acidic. There is an element of cherry that is dicernible, but just. This is not a typical Pinot Noir, nor can it compete with most Malbecs from the region. $9.99.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hat in the Ring Shiraz 2007

With the proviso that one allows it to breathe for a good hour (else it comes across as excessively acidic, even harsh) this Argentine red is a decent enough wine, with a mix of dark fruit and licorice. At the sale price of $7.99 (with attached coupon) it's worth a try.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fat Bastard Shiraz 2007

Like the Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a most pleasing wine, with plum and caramel overtones. It will go well with red meats or chicken. At the sale price of $8.99 it is well worth laying down.

Goulart Torrontes 2008

This Argentine white comes as a pleasant surprise. It delivers an agreable mix of citrus and white fruit flavors with just a hint of fresh grass, has a pleasing nose and sells, at $9.99, for less than two thirds of a comparably good New Zeeland wine.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Fat Bastard Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

As a general rule, wines which are trendy and heavily marketed disappoint. This, however, is not the case with this deeply colored, well balanced red from the Minervois, in Languedoc. It has a nice blend of blacberry and vanilla, with fairly prominent tannins, and will almost surely improve with cellaring. Definitely worth buying at the sale price of $8.99.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Trapiche Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

This young Argentine red has a nice blend of dark berry and subdued caramel and is rather heavy in tannins. It goes well with red meats or with a hard cheese. My guess is that it will improve in the bottle for a year or two. $7.99 (N.J. $6.99).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ruffino Il Leo Chianti Superiore 2006

This Chianti from one of the most important producers of the region is certainly a step up from the bottom of the barrel harsh Chiantis that one so often finds over here. It comes across as a fairly pleasant blend of cherry, plum and vanilla. But then it is also a long way from a Chianti Classico, having practically no legs and lacking real power. I would not recommend it for drinking by itself, but you might want to try a bottle at $8.99 to go with an everyday meal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Black Tower Riesling 2005

I am not normally a fan of Rieslings as many of them are just plain too sweet. This German product has just enough of a pronounced citrus flavor to avoid this pitfall, but is otherwise not terribly interesting and has a slightly acrid aftertaste. $8.99 (NJ $7.99).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Marraso Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

This Argentine red has a deep, rich color and tastes of dark berries with a hint of cherry. It can fairly be described as spicy, with more than a hint of red pepper. It's a young wine and might well improve further with cellaring. $8.99, which is a fair price.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Finca Carrascal Garnacha 2006

This Aragonese red is a nice blend of plum and soft tannins and a hint of pepper. It will go nicely with ribs or hamburger, but I would not match it with steak, it's a little too assertive. $9.99.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

De Pennautier Syrah 2006

Having given a favorable review to this vineyard's Viognier, I felt I had to try this red. It's not up to the level of the former, with a rather faint taste of red berries, modulating into a licorice/caramel aftertaste, but it's drinkable, and at $6.99, affordable.

Kris Heart Merlot 2006

South Tyrolean reds are typically light bodied, slightly acidic, moderately fruity and what in the region is called "suffig", i.e. one can drink several glasses without a feeling of surfeit. This wine is no exception, with a nice hint of cherry and dark berries moderated by sufficient tannin. At $8.99 it is fairly priced.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cuvee de Pena 2005

This French red is a blend, grown in the eastern Pyrennees, and is designated a "vin de pays", which is the grade above ordinary table wine (what we would call plonk). It is a nice, uncomplicated blend of blackberry and blueberry with a caramel finish. Will go with almost any meat, priced a tad high at $7.99.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Goulart Classico Malbec 2007

This Argentine red, from a vineyard belonging to the descendants of a Brazilian national hero, might not be heroic, but is a nicely balanced compound of dak berry, mostly raspberry, and soft, almost chocolate tannins. It is a good representative of the variety and, at $9.99, fairly priced. It certainly went well with our steak.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Rosemount Pinot Grigio 2007

This wine, from one of the larger Australian producers, has a nice, warm blend of fresh fruit flavors without being in the least sweet. There is none of the acerbity that one tends to find in the lower to mid range pinot grigios. This will go beautifully with any fish or chicken dish and, at $8.99, represents good value for money.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Marques de Caceres Crianza 2004

We bought this Rioja from one of Spain's leading wineries on sale in N.J., the PA price of $15.99 is truly ludicrous. Having said that, this is a very nice wine with dark berry and almost velvety chocolate tones and a very even aftertaste. If you can find it somewhere for under $12 you might want to pick some up.

Hoya de Cadenas Tempranillo Reserva 2004

With this Spanish red all you get at first taste is tannins, and harsh ones at that, so much so that we abandoned it until the next day. At that point it had become drinkable, with pleasant enough although not very pronounced dark fruit notes. I would suggest that you pass it up. $8.99.

Wines in France

We are just back from ten days in France. Although we took our evening meals in hotel restaurants and thus had their wines with dinner, we did pick up the following three bottles as aperitif wines. They were bought in supermarkets and all cost roughly $10.00. On the off chance that you might run across them here I propose to review them.

Chateau Le Carbonet Saint Emlion 2007. A young wine with strong tannin notes that should be allowed to dissipate. Once they do one is rewarded with a nicely rounded cherry and chocolate combination with just a hint of licorice.

La Fleur de Laussac Cotes de Castillon 2004. This wine comes from a region contiguous to Bordeaux, which however is not allowed to make use of that designation. It is certainly superior to many a run of the mill Bordeaux, with a good nose, a pleasing blend of dark berry flavors and an even aftertaste.

Baron de Gravelines Lalande de Pomerol 2007. This wine also was too young to be fully enjoyed, not having developed the authority usually conveyed by a Pomerol. Still, although on the light side, it exhibited a nice combination of dark berry and oak.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

This, like the Cabernere previously reviewed here, is a pleasant Chilean red, with a blend of dark berries and, unmistakably, chocolate flavors. The tannins, however, are considerably more assertive. At the sale price of $8.99 this makes an eminently acceptable everyday wine.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

For your information

Today I complained to the manager of a PA wine outlet that they were repeatedly out of their specials. He acknowledged that this was indeed the case and said that they had no control whatever over what they stocked, this was all determined in Harrisburg. A local hotel had ordered several cases of various specials, they had been obliged to deplete their stock, and there was no way for them to restock. The result was that his customers were unhappy, but there was nothing he could do about it. Here you have it, my friends, a state monopoly with no bottom line to worry about does whatever it pleases and we are at its mercy. How about putting this on the ballot someday?

Red Bicyclette Chardonnay 2007

This white from Roussillon in s.w. France, heavily marketed in the U.S., is on the quiet side. It blends vanilla and subdued citrus flavors and, the best thing that can be said for it, is sufficiently unassertive to go with almost anything. $8.99.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chevalier d'Anthelme Cotes du Rhone 2007

This is a powerful country red from the south of France. There are notes of cherry, dark berries and pepper, with a good deal of tannin. It will stand up to just about anything. $9.99, which is no bargain, but acceptable.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Quara Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Like the Malbec previously reviewed on this site, this Argentine red is a decent but not outstanding wine. It offers a blend of plum and dark berry flavors, complemented with a hint of chocolate and considerable acidity at the finish. $7.99, on sale.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Casillero Del Diablo Carmenere 2007

This Chilean red, a premium product of the huge Concha Y Toro combine, lives up to its name. It's peppery, fiery, without overstepping the bounds. Underneath the heat, there is a pleasant blend of plum and caramel. At $8.99 on sale, it represents a good value and will stand up to about any spicy dish.

Santa Helena Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Confusion may well arise, as there is a California winery of the same name, but this white comes from Chile. It is a nicely blended mix of apple and citrus flavors, with just a hint of grass. The finish is smooth, the wine was a fine accompaniment to our shrimp. $9.49.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Vega Sindoa Tempranillo Merlot 2006

This Spanish red from Navarre has a distinct peppery element, blended with dark berries. It's not unpleasant, but unnecessarily assertive. Moreover, at $8.99, it's considerably overpriced. It's available in more fortunate states for as little as $6.50.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Campogrande Orvieto Classico 2006

This Umbrian white is produced by the Marchese Antinori combine of Florence, which claims to have been in the wine making business for twenty six generations. It is a nice, pleasant, light wine with indications of lime and pear, and a certain nuttiness about it. It has a fresh but unobtrusive quality and will go nicely with fowl and fish. Again, the price, $10.99, is on the high side, it's available in most other states for a dollar or two less.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Kim Crawford Pinot Gris 2007

This New Zeeland white runs true to type: It's well rounded, with a good nose and melon and citrus accents. Unlike its Italian cousins, it lacks the hard edge associated with that grape variety; on the contrary, it could be described as rich and flowery. Presently on sale at $10.99.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Concannon Pinot Gris 2007

This California white has a somewhat higher alcohol content than your typical Italian Pinot Grigio. It lacks the sharp crispness associated with these, but for that comes up with a nice, rounded melon and citrus element, somehow reminiscent of a Chardonnay. The finish is even, and the sale price, $9.99, quite acceptable. If you're minded to try something out of the way, go for this.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Santa Maria Pinot Grigio 2005

This wine from the Italian south is, as the result of the long, hot growing seasons that prevail there, fruitier and more heavy bodied than one expects of a Pinot Grigio, with accents of honey, reminding one of the South German whites made from that grape. If this is not a problem, this isn't a bad quaff at $7.99.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Santa Ana Malbec Reserve 2006

This Argentine red is a decent entry level wine for those unfamiliar with the grape, which was imported before the philoxera disaster in Europe and is consequently grown on old vines. In France Malbec is generally blended and is unmixed only in Cahors and certain areas of Gascony, where it produces distinctive but penetrating wines. The dry climate and high altitude of the foothills of the Andes soften the effect and Argentine Malbecs tend to be fruitier with less assertive tannins. This bottle exhibits a nice blend of oak and dark berries. The price, $9.99, is once again high.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo/Shiraz

This Spanish red is surely a strong contender in the silliest name extant derby. It comes without a year designation. The foremost impression is of oak and cedar, with dark berry and cherry discernible in the background. If you like an assertive wine with a distinct if idiosyncratic personality, this might be your thing. $7.99.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Louis Jadot Beaujolais Village 2007

Jadot is a mass producer, the largest in Burgundy. For the most part his entry level wines are undistinguished, drinkable but no more. Here, however, is an exception to the rule. '07 was an extraordinary year in Beaujolais and this wine reflects that. It comes on with a distinct impression ofcaramel, but this does not mask a nice blend of dark berry flavors. At the present sale price of $8.99 I definitely recommend it.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Campo Vieja Tempranillo Reserva 2004

This is a big Spanish Rioja from a reputable grower. Unfortunately this bottle, at least, proved to be well over the hill. The blend of cherry and dark berry was just barely discernible under the tannin and oak, with a discernibly bitter aftertaste. You may want to put up the sale price of $10.99 on the chance of snagging a good bottle, but it's a definite risk.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This New Zealand white is still very young but nevertheless manages to convey a nice blend of citrus citrus flavors. It will do nicely as an accopaniment to fish or white meat dishes. The price, $7.99, is right .

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sanleonino Chianti Classico 2004

This is a nice, civilized, but not outstanding Chianti Classico. The tannins, while present, are not overwhelming and there is an agreable cherry element blended in with them. It would be a better choice if the price, $10.99, as with so many other wines in PA, were not on the high side. But then I've said this before.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Navarro Correas Chardonnay 2006

This Argentine white is the fourth wine from this vineyard reviewed here. Once again, the verdict is wholly positive. But be forwarned, this is not a wine to serve as a gentle backdrop to food. It is highly individualistically assertive, with a very strong oaking competing with pear and citrus flavors. It deserves close attention, and could well be drunk just by itself, as an aperitif. For inscrutable reasons it is presently on sale for $7.99, and each bottle has an instant $2.00 discount coupon attached to it. At that price it's a veritable steal.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Domaine Chanteloups Grenache 2005

This French red, grown at the foot of he Pyrennees, has the relatively new designation "Vin de pays" which is meant to guarantee uniform means of production and harvest dates, as well as a certain level of quality, and does not disappoint. It displays a very satisfying blend of dark fruit flavors with just the right amount of acidity, and should be good for at least two or three more years. At the closeout price of $.9.99 it constitutes something of a bargain.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Danzante Chianti 2006

Like any run of the mill Chianti, this Italian red is rough on the tongue if drunk immediately upon uncorking, but if allowed to breathe, it displays a nice enough blend of dark fruit and tannin. It's anything but subtle and the various flavors tend to separate in the aftertaste, but it will do alright with pasta. $7.99.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mastroberardino Sannio Falanghina 2004

This Italian white, from the leading house in Campania, the region of Naples, is at its very best when drunk young, and the present vintage is nearing the end of its life. Still, and surprisingly, it is by no means over the hill. It retains its lovely light straw colors and its lustrous bouquet of citrus and apple. It is long lasting on the tongue, and I have absolutely nothing to reproach it with. If you can find some in the closeout section at the present throwaway price of $6.99 by all means buy it and drink it while it retains its fine quality.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Trivento Syrah 2006

As is true of that Argentinian vineyard's Malbec, this red too must be allowed to breathe a goodly amount of time. If it does, it will reward you with a nice blend of plum and caramel, although it must be noted that, curiously, a slight bitterness in the aftertaste returned in the last glass. $8.99.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Chateau de Pennautier Syrah 2006

Still another frugal wine buyer's special. This red from the region of the old walled city of Carcassone will, if allowed to breathe properly, respond with a nice blend of dark berries, caramel and tannin. It's an uncomplicated country wine but will go with most any meat and is far superior to the mass produced Australians selling at a similar price. At $6.99 it's good value for money.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rene Barbier Red

This Catalan blend of Tempranillo and Merlot is so basic that we are not even vouchsafed a year. At first, one notices an almost harsh quality, which goes away with a little airing. Still, it is drinkable, with some notes of fruit and tannin. Extremely light bodied, it will go with almost anything. The price, $5.99, is mot bad, although it's available elsewhere fo as little as $3.99.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jacob's Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

This is an entry level red from Australia's largest wine grower and, unlike much of the competition, is actually drinkable. Although this is almost a simplistic wine,there are discernible berry flavors and some tannin. The present sale price of $5.99 is suitable to the hard times we live in. We found it to be an acceptable quaff with our Easter ham.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mollydooker Maitre D' Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

This Australian red falls well outside the parameters this reviewer has set for himself, but we received it as a gift and I think it is well worth a review. Some critics have rejected it as "an overly alcoholic Australian fruit bomb" but, evidently, they've made the mistake of drinking it right after opening. This wine desperately needs to breathe, an hour at least, two is better. What you get then is a beautifully blended mixture of plum and dark berries, with just the right amount of oak, and a lasting, powerful aftertaste. The PA price of $24.99 is high, but if you can find it anywhere on sale pick up a bottle for a special occasion.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Chardonnay 2006

I am not a fan of the run of the mill California whites and this Chardonnay reminds me why. It comes across as overly sweet, with apple and citrus in an unhappy marriage, along with a strong element of oak and an almost buttery aftertaste. Moreover, at $9.99 it is vastly overpriced (NJ $7.49).

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Michael & David Phillips Petite Sirah 2006

I would not normally review this California red, as it generally sells at well above the limit I've set myself, but it was bought in N.Y. for $11.99, so why not? Anyway, I found it to be disappointing. What you get is a pretty much unregulated, and unanalyzable explosion of fruit flavors, untempered by oak, tannin or acidity. We tried it as an after dinner drink, which was probably a mistake -- it might pass muster with some highly spiced foods.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Mastroberardino Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio 2006

This Italian white is grown on the well nourished volcanic slopes of Mount Vesuvius. According to the local legend, Christ cried upon seeing that the devil had ensconced himself in a corner of paradise and his tears provided the necessary moisture to grow this wine. It displays a nice, restrained mix of pome and melon and for once, at $9.99, represents a genuine bargain. It should be good for another year or so, so do pick up a few bottles. Appropriate for Easter.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Little Penguin Shiraz 2007

Alright, things are tough these days, so here's a budget wine for your consideration. This Australian red, a mass market product, is very fruity, with blacberry the dominant element, and exhibits strong caramel overtones, which have a tendency to disintegrate in the aftertaste. It's drinkable though, and at the present sale price of $5.99 will not break the bank.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tapena Verdejo 2007

This Spanish white from the Tierra de Castilla in the South is touted as the Spanish equivalent of Sauvignon Blanc, with strongly projected ripe peach and melon flavors. Our bottle proved to be an unmitigated disaster. It was clearly over the hill, with unmistakable vinegary qualities. About as close to undrinkable as I would like to experience. $7.99 on sale, but you'd be throwing your money down the sink along with the wine.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Trivento Select Malbec 2006

This Argentine red must be allowed to breathe for a good half hour, else it will be unpleasantly tannin dominated, to the point of being harsh. Once it does, however, it displays a nice mixture of dark berry and oak, with a velvety finish. $.8.99.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Chateau Le Pennautier Viognier 2007

This French white varietal, from the northern part of Languedoc, comes from a vineyard that has been in existence since the reign of Louis XIII, in mid seventeenth century. It is a nice, light, refreshing quaff, with accents of peach and citrus and a finish that evokes licorice. A good buy at $6.99.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Budini Chardonnay 2007

This rather full bodied Argentine white is sold with a good deal of hype about feral cats. That aside, it is anything but subtle, tasting strongly of citrus and apricot, with an admixture of oak. The plus side is that it will stand up to about anything, and if you can get it, as we did, at the throwaway price of $4.99, by all means buy a few bottles.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jacob's Creek Pinot Noir Reserve 2006

This red comes from what is either the largest or second largest, depending on how one counts, Australian winemaker. Their standard product is plonk, but they are capable of turning out a nice Reserve, of which this is one. There is a pleasant nose, a nice blending of dark cherry, chocolate, caramel and oak flavors, and an even finish. This makes a very agreeable sipping wine. $10.99.

Carta Vieja Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This Chilean white is presently unavailable in PA. It sells in neighboring states at a bewildering disparity of prices. We picked it up on sale in N.J. at an unbelievable $3.99. The product of a single family vineyard, it's nothing to brag about, but, if you give it a quarter of an hour to breathe in order to dissipate a first, somewhat acidic whiff, it turns out to be a nice, light blend of tropical fruit flavors which stood up nicely to our rather assertive lamb curry. Unbeatable at the price!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Almira Los Dos 2006

This Spanish red, from the Campo de Borja region, directly to the south of Navarre, is essentilly a Grenache with a small admixture of Syrah grapes. It has not been oaked. It is a pleasant drinking, full bodied country wine, with predominantly raspberry notes and a "chewy" quality which is the result of a relatively high glycerine content, that in turn results from a high alcohol level. Tannins are discernible, but not unpleasantly so. The only drawback is the price ($9.99), as it is available in more fortunate states for $7.99.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Carlos Basso Dos Fincas 2007

This Argentine red is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The result is a smooth, agreeable wine that will go with about any red meat or can be sipped as an aperitif. There is an element of dark fruit, probably plum, combined with tannin. This is not by any means a memorable wine, but not much can be said against it either. $9.99.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Domaine de Gournier Merlot 2004

I have to admit that I'm not a fan of Merlot. The smoky taste and the hints of licorice generally put me off. However this French red from the mountainous Cevennes region, on the border of Provence and Languedoc, is a nice, uncomplicated country wine. It comes from a small grower rather than from one of the mega vineyards of the region which flood France with "vin ordinaire" and exhibits a decent blend of red fruit flavors with considerable tannin, and should go well with most simple meals. $.8.99.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Nederburg Lyric 2008

This South African white, the product of one of the largest wineries in that country, is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay. The result is a somewhat mixed up wine. Although it strives for the effect achieved by the better New Zeeland products, namely a smooth integration of white fruit flavors with the aroma of freshly cut grass, what you get is largely citrus. It's by no means unpleasant, it's just not very well rounded. It went well with our chicken wings. The price, $7.99, is affordable.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hecula Monastrell 2005

This full-bodied red is made by Bodegas Castano in the Yecla district of Andalucia in southern Spain. Maturing in the midday sun, in which only dogs and Englishmen go out, it is distiguished by a very rich blend of tannins and dark fruit flavors. (I read four different reviews that identified the predominant taste variously as raspberry, blueberry, cherry and plum -- so much for gustatory expertise). The aftertaste has an unmistakable spicy element. It will go well with almost any red meat. The price, $12.99, is once again too much, it's available elsewhere for as little as $9.99.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chateau Lamargue 2006

This French white, a Costieres de Nimes, is grown in the southern Rhone region where wine was produced already in Roman times. it is a blend of two local grape varieties, Roussanne and Grenache Blanc. This, along with the hot summers of the South, gives it an intensity seldom found in whites. Both nose and taste hint at a red, with a blend of tropical fruit and caramel. I would think it a little too heavy to accompany seafood, but it went splendidly with our loin of pork casserole. $.8.99.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Domaine des Malandes Chablis Premier Cru 2003

Chablis, in the northernmost part of Burgundy, produces white wines made exclusively from the Chardonnay grape. They are lighter than the typical Burgundians, tend to be very dry, and have a characteristic flinty flavor. This Malandes Premier Cru (the second of four categories), made by a reputable grower in a year that produced wines of unusually low acidity, displays a stronger presence of white fruit flavors than one would normally expect, but still retains the typical mineral element. It will go splendidly with fish and shellfish. It is plainly not getting any younger, but at this point is still fine. So long as you're planning to drink it right away pick up whatever bottles you can find at the closeout price of $7.99.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Misterio Chardonnay 2007

This Argentine white from the Flichman winery announces itself with a respectable nose. The flavor is on the mild side, with pineapple and vanilla elements. It proved a good accompaniment to our lamb curry and, at $6.99, will not break the bank.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Misterio Malbec 2007

This Argentine red is atypical in that it has a more pronounced dark fruit taste, mostly plum, than Malbecs generally do. This is set off by just the right amount of oak though, so that if you don't mind a really robust wine, and are not put off by the slightly bitter aftertaste, this recommends itself. The price, on sale at $6.99, is certainly right.

Carlos Basso Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Here at last is a true bargain. This Argentine white, featuring a nice, round blend of melon and apple tastes, with a good nose and a consistant finish, is being remaindered (again, don't ask why, the PA Liquor Authority lives by its own rules) at a ridiculous $4.99. If you find some, buy all you can.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Quara Malbec 2007

This Argentine red, from a relatively obscure vineyard, could be considered a lower end introduction to the variety. As such, it doesn't perform too badly if one doesn't set one's expectations too high. There is the typical Malbec combination of plum and cherry flavors, with moderate tannin, but no oak. It's not terribly well blended, but that's too much to expect at $7.99. Worth a try if one wants to stay within a tight budget.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gascon Malbec 2008

This Argentine red presents a nice blend of dark fruit flavors, plum being the most prominent, set off by a fairly strong element of tannin. But it is definitely on the young side, particularly in the aftertaste it has a tendency to break up. We did not like it as well as the Malbecs listed in our "favorites" column, and even at the sale price of $10.99 it's no great bargain. (N.J. $9.99).

Friday, February 27, 2009

Kathy Lynskey Pinot Gris 2006

This New Zeeland white is being remaindered at $7.99 and in this case it's all too obvious why. What we have here is an out of control mix of white fruit flavors, with no nose to speak and insufficient acidity, that does not just convey a hint of sweetness but is actually sweet. If you want to drink grape juice you can get it for a lot less than this.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Haut Poitou Sauvignon Blanc 2007

As a rule, Sauvignon Blancs, except at the high end of the price scale, tend to be subdued, even dull. Not so this varietal from a commune with connections to the Loire valley's leading grower, Georges Duboef. It exhibits a good nose, a rich blending of white fruit flavors and a strong, even finish. This wine was awarded a gold medal at a 2008 agricultural exhibit in Paris, and rightly so. It is presently being remaindered at $9.99 (why, for goodness sake, it's in its prime) and should be snapped up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quinta do Casal Branco 2006

This Portuguese white, from a vineyard better known for its reds, doesn't assert itself particularly and would do for an everyday quaff with all but red meats. It has a good nose and offers an interesting blend of white fruit flavors with a hint of fresshly mown grass. The downside is a slightly acerbic and not altogether pleasant aftertaste. $7.99.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Terra Noble Sauvignon Blanc 2007

This Chilean white is intended to display a mix of tropical fruit flavors, tempered by a slight acidity. Those elements are present alright, and it has a good nose, but the overall effect has somehow gone wrong, one has the impression that what one is drinking is slightly medicinal. $7.99.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

La Carraia Tizzonero 2006

This Italian red is grown in Umbria from Montepulciano grapes. It displays rather more tannin than its more famous cousins, but otherwise is a pleasing blend of dark fruit (mostly plum) flavors, with just a hint of the sweet. According to the label, this is caramel, but if so, it was too subtle fo us to detect. This is a nice wine, but $12.99 seems on the steep side.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Basa Rueda 2005

This Spanish white from NW Castille is pleasant enough, with a nicely blende mix of white fruit flavors. But it has, at best, a slight nose and no very convincing finish. Moreover it's beginning to show signs of age. Even the closeout price of $10.99 appears to be out of line.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Almira Los Dos Grenache/Syrah 2006

This Spanish Campo de Borja doesn't make it. Subdued is an understatement, there is practically no nose, the dark fruit flavors are barely perceptible, there is no perceptible aftertaste. Even at the closeout price of $9.99 it is vastly overpriced. Forget it.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Trivento Select Torrontes 2008

This Argentine white, although it has a pronounced nose and strongly defined mix of white fruit accents, with the citrus element predominant, is simply not ready to drink. Either it was picked too early, or it was insufficiently aged. It has some promise and may possibly mature in the bottle, it's anybody's guess. $8.99

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Kaiken Ultra Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Alright, so it was Valentine's Day and we splurged. This is the premium Argentine product of the Chilean Aurelio Montes winery and while it doesn't quite measure up to their superb Chilean Alpha, it's not all that far behind. What we have here is a rich, deep, beautifully blended wine featuring predominantly plum and oak. It's nose is modest, but for that it has a very even finish. It will make your holiday meal. $14.99.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nobilo Marlborough Sauvignom Blanc 2008

This New Zealand white is produced by one of the world's biggest wine combines. It is a very young, relatively well made, very smooth blend of light fruit flavors, with peach predominating. It has a good nose but not much of a finish. It's hardly in the same class as the Giesen recently reviewed here, and even at the temporary sale price of $11.99, it's no great bargain.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Trapiche Chardonnay 2007

This Argentinian vineyard is best known for its premium reds. This Chardonnay is a relative bargain. A nice blend of white fruit flavors, while perhaps lacking a well defined acidic background, nevertheless asserts itself in competition with demanding foods. It stood up very well to our turkey mole. $6.99.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

El Coto Rioja 2004

This Spanish red, made from the Tempranillo grape, has a nice, soft, light blend of dark fruit flavors, with just the right touch of oak. It went beautifully with our paprika chicken, which can be demanding. The only thing wrong with this otherwise extremely pleasing wine is the really outrageous price of $13.99. (N.J. $9.99, which is about right).

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Monkey Bay Chardonnay 2007

In 1769 Captain James Cook, on his first voyage of exploration, dropped anchor in a New Zealand cove which was said to be inhabited by a reclusive monkey. The tale goes that, on catching sight of the explorers, the animal promptly drowned itself in the bay. The monkey knew what it was doing. At any rate, this was certainly no place to produce wine. What we have here is a sweetish, completely unripe product, aged, if at all, in steel wats, which exhibits the light fruit flavors which it lays claim to alright, but without any indication that they were ever subjected to fermentation. The price of $10.99 is ludicrous. (N.J. $7.99, and even that is way too much).

Friday, January 30, 2009

P. Jaboulet Parallel 45 Cotes du Rhone

This French red, from a region with a huge production that incorporates all parts of the qualitative spectrum, falls somewhere between the middle and the bottom. It has some of the warm character of the breed and a decent finish, but is disappointingly thin in character. A good Cotes du Rhone should have more body than this.The price of $12.99 is a bad joke. (N.J. $8.99, which is all that it's worth).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Estate Argyros Santorini 2004

Among the Greek whites only the Retsinas, with their pine tar quality that can appeal only to someone to the manner born, are widely known in this country. This is a shame, because there are a good many appealing well-made, modern bottlings. This Santorini is surely among them. It has a good nose and a refreshing mix of white fruit flavors, with just a hint of pine, but not to worry, this is no Retsina. At the present clearance price of $6.99 it is a genuine bargain.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Berberana Number One Shiraz/Tempranillo 2005

On the face of it, calling this Spanish red "Number One" is like insisting that Andorra is the largest country in Europe. I suppose that what the designation is meant to convey is that it is the entry wine of the Bodegas Unidas, one of the largest producers of the Rioja. What we have here is a modest, one dimensional wine with an unusual combination of chocolate and cherry flavors which will do well as an accompaniment to everyday meals.The price of $5.99 certainly makes it a good value.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Misterio Chardonnay 2007

This is the second of what will be (given PA conditions, a short) series on budget wines. Finca Flichman's Chardonnay is not quite as good as their Malbec, previously reviewed here, but the present sale price of $5.99 does call attention to itself. The wine has practically no nose, however there is a not altogether uninteresting, if decidedly unripe mix of light fruit flavors. Unfortunately, something goes wrong in the aftertaste, resulting in a vaguely medicinal effect. It's up to you, if you can put up with that, this is not a bad choice for a simple fish course.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Herding Cats Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz 2008

Nomen est omen. (The name says it all). Anyone who has ever owned a cat will instantly be aware of the difficulties inherent in such an enterprise. Indeed, this South African red is totally out of control. The overwhelming impression is that of spiciness, with sweetish pepper being the chief constituent. The wine is so assertive that it overwhelms any main dish that I could come up with to serve with it. It might do nicely as an aperitif, together with a rather bland cheese, or as a dessert wine to accompany some left over sponge cake. $ 9.99.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Misterio Malbec 2007

In these parlous times, if you really need to be frugal, and a great many of us do, this Argentinian Malbec may be just the thing for you. It is a little wine of no great distinction, but does exhibit most of the characteristics of the breed, if in somewhat subdued tones. Still, the always pleasing blend of oak and dark fruit flavors is there, and actually it stood up pretty well to our dinner of barbecued pork ribs, where many a finer wine would have capitulated. $6.99.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Navarro Correas Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

To be honest, I was expecting a disappointment: three good, moderately priced reds from the same vineyard seemed to be pressing one's luck. But I was quite mistaken, this wine is at least as good as the Shiraz and the Malbec. It has the same pronounced oaked quality as the others and if its dark fruit overtones are somewhat more muted, this is compensated for by a smoky quality that serves as an ideal background to them. There is a nice, fullbodied aftertaste. Recommended at $9.99.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Navarro Correas Malbec 2006

This Argentinian red has a considerable affinity to the vineyard's Syrah, previously reviewed here. It too is considerably, but not excessively, oaked, but the red fruit accents come through somewhat more perceptibly. Altogether, a most pleasant drinking experience, and it did splendidly with our lamb chops. I can truly recommend this at $9.99.

Gougenheim Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Unlike the Malbec from the same Argentinian vineyard, previously reviewed here, which, for what it is, represents an unqualified success, this is a nice if not particularly distinguished wine. My impression is that it has not yet settled in, the melange of dark fruit has something a little unripe and not absolutely blended about it. I'd give it a couple more years in the bottle to see what happens. Still, at $8.99, it'ss worth taking a chance on.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Vionta Albarino 2006

What we have here is a decent Rios Baixas white from Spanish Galicia, with a pronounced straw color and heavy citrus and mineral overtones. It is a wine that knows its mind and will stand up to complicated dishes. Moreover, it stays on the tongue for a goodly while. $9.99

Vivir, Vivir, Ribeira del Duero 2004

This, in spite of the exceedingly silly name, is a decent, if not outstanding Spanish red. It displays the mix of dark fruit flavors characteristic of Ribeiras (N.W. Castille), and if it lacks the smoothness and deep certainty of some of the better known labels, and doesn't have their legs, it doesn't cost nearly as much as they do either. $10.49.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Legado Munoz Garnacha 2004

You should not look for subtlety here. This is a good, honest country wine from Castille. The predominant impression is of oak, with a slightly dark, smoky flavor. It has some legs and will do well with red meats or chicken. 8.99.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Vina Reboreda Ribeiro 2006

This Spanish white from Ourense Province in Galicia has a less than firm finish, but is otherwise highly desirable. It is straw colored, has a distinctly nutty, slightly acidic character, and very much brings to mind a French Pouilly Fume, to which it provides an acceptable alternative at roughly half the price ($9.99). We found this as the last bottle on clearance, if you can locate some I would recommend you get it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Giesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2007

This New Zealand white comes from a German owned winery which does not always get high marks, but this is a very nice wine. It has a good nose of freshly cut grass, typical of Sauvignon Blanc, and a really quite delightful combination of white fruit flavors that is relatively long lasting. It will do well either as an aperitiff, or in company with white meats. It is, however, expensive: $12.99.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Navarro Correas Syrah 2005

This Argentinian lacks any very distinctive fruit accents but to make up for that displays a nice, deep oaky flavor. Some would call it over oaked, but I must say I found it pleasing. Not only does it last a good long time on the tongue, but it seems to grow on you after the first glass. Very good as a subtle accompaniment to red meats, and the price, at $9.99, for once does not strike me as outlandish.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pascual Toso Torrontes 2007

This is by way of a caveat, do not buy this wine! The PLCB is displaying it prominently and pushing it as a great bargain at $7.99 in every store around Harrisburg, and normally it would be, but evidently, either by design or because of a miscalculation, it was left on the vine too long before picking. The result, unlike with a German Spatlese, is not a rich, if sweet desert wine, but something that navigates uncomfortably between the sacharine and the vinegary. It's not absolutely undrinkable, but comes close enough.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Norton Chardonnay 2007

The Argentinian way with Chardonnay is not to age it in oak, which results in a light, refreshing product, with a strongly perceived mixture of white fruit flavors. That is about the best that can be said for this wine, which otherwise is wholly unremarkable. It can be recommended as an accompaniment to light foods that would be drowned by something more assertive (it went well with our banana omelet) but is definitely overpriced at $9.99.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Freixenet Cava Brut

And so, back to reality. I have to admit that I'm not a great lover of Champagne -- I forget who it was that first called it "a good white wine spoiled but I tend to agree -- so I'd be the last man to spend a lot of money on the French product, even for the traditional bottle of New Year's Eve bubbly. Thus I picked out a Catalonian Cava which, like the French Champagnes, is made from local grapes and acquires its bubbles from a second fermentation in the bottle, not from some unspeakable process of artificial aeration. The Freixenet, although a mass production item, is nice and dry and relatively aromatic, which is all I ask of it. It is, that goes almost without saying, massively overpriced in PA at $9.99. (NJ $7.99).

Val di Suga Brunello di Montalcino 2002

Alright, this falls totally outside the parameters of this blog, but it was New Year's Eve and I wanted to remind myself of what life might be like in an ideal world. We got this bottle a year or so ago, at the vineyard, and brought it back with us. It cost 25 Euros there (anywhere from $35 to S50, depending on the fluctuations of the dollar). Given what Brunellos go for in PA, it would certainly cost $100 here. Montalcino is a tiny village South Of Siena, and the Brunello produced there is by general consensus one of the great growths of Italy. The hue of this wine is a deep ruby red, and depth is what it's all about. After a taut entry, it leads to an incredibly full bodied mix of dark fruit flavors, tempered by tannins that are not the least bit harsh, but effectively silky; There is a very considerable complexity of sensations going on here and there is great length in the finish. One should treat oneself this well at least once a year -- you see, people, I can wax unreservedly enthusiastic about a wine.