Thursday, December 30, 2010

Domaine de Millet 2009

This Gascon white, a vin de pays from the foothills of the Pyrenees, is a blend of Colombard and Ugni Blanc. A young wine, it nevertheless drinks very smoothly with elements of peach and a citrus finish. $7.49.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas wines

We had osso bucco for our Xmas dinner, sothe wines had to be Italian. For our aperitif we opted for a bubbly, a bottle of Villa Santi Prosecco de Valdobbiadene from The Veneto. I was a bit leery of it because the Spumantis are often just sweet but I need not have been. This is a nice, fruity but not overly sweet quaff. If you're one of those folks who are put off by the assault on the taste buds that a French brut provides this might be you thing. $13.49.

To go with the veal we chose a Tuscan white, a Pietrafitta Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2009. This is a fullbodied wine with some depth to it, exhibiting pear and spices. It brought out the full flavor of this complex dish. $12.99.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Redcliffe Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This white from New Zealand's Marlborough Valley has melon and grapefruit elements, the merest hint of the freshly mown grass typical of the variety and is fruiter than most wines of its type. Not particularly complex but very drinkable. $7.99.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Volteo Tempranillo/Shiraz 2008

This wine, previously reviewed here, is now on sale at $6.99 By all means get some at this price.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Black Tower Pinot Grigio

I was intrigued by the notion of what a German Pinot Grigio might be like. I should have realized that this is an oxymoron. This wine is vile, tasting of overripe pear along with something unidentifiable but distinctly unpleasant. It is $5.99 down the drain, literally.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Tres Ojos Granacha 2008

We both liked this Spanish red from Calatayud. It comes across as a somewhat reticent but very even mix of raspberry and soft tannins with a slightly smoky touch in the finish. Unfortunately overpriced at $9.99, available for two dollars less in neighboring states.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Graffigna Pinot Grigia Reserve 2009

This Argentine white differs considerably from the European standard. It's smoother, with notes of peach and a citrus finish, on the whole, very pleasant. $9.99.

Periquita Moscato 2009

This Portuguese white is made from the muscatel grape (of evil memory in this country where it's associated with the cheapest plonk) but, while the nose is floral the palate is not in the least sweet. What you get is a young, dry wine with citrus and grassy elements. $7.99.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Bolla Pinot Grigio 2009

This mass produced white from one of Italy's largest combines does come from the Veneto but lacks the most salient characteristics of the variety. It's a fairly pleasant, light wine with touches of peach and citrus and entirely unmemorable. At $10.99 fcr the 1.5 liter bottle it's reasonably cheap though.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Herding Cats Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay 2009

This South African white is 80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Chardonnay. It's fresh, mild, the citrus elements of the former nicely balanced by the peach of the latter; the proportions are such that the wine stops well short of being sweet. Not outstanding but eminently drinkable, and the price, $7.99 for the 1.5 liter bottle, makes it the clear choice for serving at large holiday season gatherings.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino 2008

This white from Sardigna is apparently highly esteemed by the smart set that vacations there. It's a light drink, with a relatively low alcohol content, has a distinct floral element along with apple flavors, and a very slight salinity that makes it a good match for seafood. It went nicely with our steamed clams. For reasons best known to the PLCB it.s on offer here for both $11.99 (luxury) and $8.99 (chairman's selection). After much introspection I chose the latter.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Castle Rock Pinot Gris 2008

Don't expect anything like the Italian varietal. The edge and the flintiness are completely absent, replaced by a rather soft green apple element, balanced by vanilla. To me, it tastes almost like a Chardonnay. Castle Rock is not a winery, but an entrepreneurial combine that buys up grapes all over California's Monterey County and has the wine made for them, so I would expect considerable variations in quality. Nicely priced at $6.99.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Marques de Caceres Reserve 2004

Just so you don't that I have given up my campaign against the PLCB, I will report that we drank a bottle of this in Zamora. It is a truly noble wine, with deep cherry and licorice elements, powerful but at the same time austere. At the supermarket chain Carfour I paid $12. In PA the '01, which is probably over the hill by now, is on offer for $31.

Vignerons de Caractere Cotes du Rhone Villages 2007

To go with our Thanksgiving turkey we chose this red blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Shiraz, produced by a cooperative at the Southern end of the region. The grapes thus don't come from a single vineyard. Neverheless, this is a very nice wine, exhibiting a pleasing blend of plum, dark berry and chocolate, with just the right amount of tartness in the finish. Well worth the price of $9.49.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Viva Espana

We are just back from two weeks in Spain where we sampled some nice wines, many that were new to us, some that were old friends. The price structure, even given the lamentable relationship of the dollar to the euro, hardly makes PA look good. I will confine myself to reporting that the Marques de Caceres red crianza, which goes for $15 here, is available for $7 and that we found the rose of that vineyard which costs $13 in PA for, hold your breath, $2.50. Someone is filling his pockets. We heard that the governor elect intends to take the state out of the liquor business. May he succeed in doing so!

Two of the wines we drank are available here:

Beronia crianza 2007. This is a pleasant red Rioja with with a soft dark berry flavor and a slightly smoky finish. We paid $10. What is available here is the unaged version, for $10.99.

Antano reserva 2005. This is a very nice red Rioja that is a finely blended mix of dark berry and chocolate, also with a smoky finish. We paid $12 and, believe it or not, the PA price is $11.99. I recommend it,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Villa Marchesi Pinot Grigio 2009

Pinot Grigio enthusiasts will find this Friuli wine highly atypical. Instead of the dry, flinty elements they might expect, it offers up a soft blend of pear and peach, with very little acidity. If such is to your taste, you'll probably like it quite a lot and, for once, the PA price of $9.99 is at the low end of the market.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay 2008

While the other wines with this label that we've sampled from the Chilean Concha Y Toro megacombine have been, if unremarkable, drinkable, this Chardonnay is a real disapointment. It has neither the mineral flintiness associated with the French variety, nor the buttery fruitiness characteristic of the California exemplars. It is thin, dull, with an acidic, slightly bitter finish. Not worth even the sale price of $7.99.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Helfrich Now&Zen 2008

This Alsatian white, a blend of five different grape varieties, which locally goes by the name of Edelzwicker, is surely a front runner in the silly name derby but otherwise is fairly unremarkable. It manages, at one and the same time, to be both slightly sweet and citrusy. $7.99, but those of you living near to a Trader Joe should be aware that this chain frequently features it as a loss leader for half that price.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Aric 2004

This red blend from Corbieres in SW France is quite untypical, coming across with a strong fruitiness reminiscent of a good Californian. That is, however tempered by a chocolate/caramel element and a hint of licorice in the finish that gives it a sophisticated character. A really good wine and an outstanding bargain at the sale price of $7.99, but drink it now, it's pretty nearly at the end of its life.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc 2009

This Chilean is without question a Sauvignon Blanc, with the citrus and grassy elements of the breed. It's somewhat tart on the tongue which recommends it as a companion to blander foods, such as the roast chicken we paired it with. A good value at the sale price of $7.99.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Terrazas Malbec 2008

Yet another Malbec from Argentina's Mendoza Valley. The vineyard is above 3,000 feet which makes for a long, intense growing season, but somehow this wine doesn't quite make it for me. There is the expected mix of fruit, in this case plum, and chocolate, but the tannins are a little too harsh. $.9.99.

Colores del Sol Malbec 2009

Argentina's Mendoza Valley produces any number of pleasing Malbecs and this one is no exception. IOt exhibits dark cherry and the typical chocolate notes and has a very even finish. $9.99, available for two dollars less in many places.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Casa de la Ermita Roble 2008

This red from Jumilla in Southeastern Spain is mostly Monastrell with some Petit Verdot. Aged in oak for three months, it has an austere presence, with subdued elements of blackberry and plum and soft tannins. It won't overwhelm a meal but it provides a decent background to red meats or even pasta, which is what we had with it. $10.99.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wild Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This New Zealand white from the Marlborough Valley has small admixtures of Viognier and Riesling which give it a somewhat more subdued presence than many others of its ilk. There are elements of melon, apple and citrus, but only a hint of the characteristic grassiness. $9.99.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Vina Herminia 2009

I decided to give this red Rioja another chance after having dismissed the '08 earlier. This vintage is better, although the wine is clearly immature,the tannins are more civilized and there is a nice enough blend of dark cherry and caramel. Somewhat overpriced at $9.99.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Vina Sanzo Verdejo 2009

This Spanish white from Rueda in the N.W. has a pleasant floral bouquet and comes on the palate with notes of apricot and apple, with just a slight citrus finish. A nice wine with delicately flavored fish, as it will not overwhelm it. $9.99.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Faustino VII 2007

This mass produced red Rioja is 95% Tempranillo, 5% Mazuela and is aged in American oak for ten months. What came across most even after two hours of letting it breathe were strong tannins with more than a hint of licorice that pretty much overwhelmed the dark berry elements. Can't say we liked it. $8.99.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Casalnova Prosecco

This Italian bubbly from the Veneto is not to be confused with a French brut, but it can't be accused of being actually sweet. It has a fairly pleasant pear/apple taste and does nicely as an aperitif. It's being remaindered at $4.99 for a four pack of splits (the equivalent of a 750 ml bottle) and at that price it's truly lovable.

Pierre Sparr Alsace One 2007

This light white wine is a blend of five different grapes. The result is a wine that can't quite make up its mind: it goes from a rather mellow pear and apple note to a fairly strong citrus finish. On the whole, while it's clearly not getting any younger, it's not bad, and at the clearance price of $4.99 a great buy.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Frontera Malbec 2009

Grown by the giant Chilean combine Concha y Toro in Argentina's Mendoza valley, this young red is a sort of Malbec in a minor key. It's red berry notes are subdued, you get coffee rather than chocolate and the tannins are a little too prominent. Still, it's drinkable and at $5.99 you can't complain too much.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Cortijo Tinto 2009

This young Rioja, a blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Grenache, has black cherry and chocolate elements along with a fiery finish in which some licorice can be detected. It's a nice drink and, coming with a natural cork, will probably improve in the bottle for a year or two. Unfortunately the price, $10.99, is once again out of line, it can be had for three dollars less in N.Y. & N.J.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Dona Paula Los Cardos Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

This entry level red comes from a winery in Argentina's Mendoza Valley which is owned by a Chilean Combine. It's a nicely put together wine, with pleasing elements of black currant and cherry with a pronounced chocolate finish. I like it a lot, but not at $10.99. Four dollars less in various Western N.Y. outlets, so go to it, you folks in Pike County.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sartori Pinot Noir 2007

We were of two minds about this Italian red made in Verona. My CDC rather liked the cherry and chocolate elements tempered by strong tannins, I found it on the thin side with, to me, a distinctly bitter element. However the price is right, $6.99 with available coupon.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tariquet Amplitude 2009

This young Gascon white is a blend of four different grapes, two of them more frequently used to make the Armagnac for which the region is famous. As a rule I'm very fond of whites from Gascony, the good ones have an imposing firiness about them. This one is more restrained, but still nice, with citrus elements predominating. $9.99.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio 2009

This young white, made in the Veneto by this large Tuscan winery, is light-bodied, exhibits pear and citrus elements and has at least a hint of the flintiness that mass produced Pinot Grigios (a million bottles a year for this one) generally lack. $5.99 with available coupon, a real bargain.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gran Sangre de Toro Reserva 2006

In the 1950's this Catalan red, in a blind tasting competition, placed first, ahead of several first growth Burgundies, a triumph which launched Spanish wines on the global stage. The French cried foul, claiming that that year's vintage represented an anomaly, but this bottle confirms the result. It's a lovely blend of black current and blackberry, with some liquorice and soft tannins. At $9.99 it's a genuine bargain.

San Pedro Apostol Heredad de las Suertes 2007

This Rioja red is at the limit of its useful life, the bottle we opened had a partly disintegrated cork. But forewarned is forearmed, we let it breathe for an hour and were rewarded with an intense plum and licorice flavor which can only be called fiery. The wine is unoaked. You might want to take a chance on it. $9.99.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Alasia Brachetto D'Acqui 2008

O che sciagura! This will be just your thing if you like your sparkling wines to taste like strawberry soda, only sweeter. We found that with heavy admixtures of ice cubes, club soda and lemon juice it became barely drinkable. $8.99 with instant coupon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Colorado Sipping

I've just returned from a fortnight in CO where I tried nine wines, all but one reds, that came within the parameters of this blog. I bought these at Cheers Liquors in Colorado Springs, an establishment that, both in the variety of its wine selections and in its prices, puts the PA state monopoly to shame. Only two of these wines are presently available here.

1) Woop Woop Shiraz 2008. This is an Australian fruit bomb, with plum and blackberry predominant and strong tannins kicking in at the end. $.8.99, $.10.49 in PA.

2) Garnache del Fuego. Grenache is a hot weather grape and in the South of Aragon where this wine is from it gets plenty of that. The wine lives up to its name, it's fiery, tart, acidic with elements of dark cherry and blackberry. Some people might find that it goes over the line, but I rather liked it. $8.99, a dollar more in PA.

3) Altes de La Hoya Jumilla 2008. This Spanish wine from the extreme South is made from grapes grown in very sandy soil. For that reason the vines, almost alone in Europe, were spared in the great phylloxera epidemic of the late 19th century. The wine is robust, with cherry prevalent and some tannins. $9.99.

4) Las Olas Verdejo 2009. This Castilian white from Rueda is straw colored and just slightly bubbly. Citrus elements are predominant and it stops just short of being bitter. $8.99.

5) Oniro 2008. This wine, predominantly a Monastrell (85%) and aged for four months in oak, is grown in Southeastern Spain. It is a very nice mix of dark cherry and chocolate flavors with a hint of licorice and just enough tannins to make it interesting. $8.99.

6) Lasendal Garnatxa 2007. This is mostly made from Monastrel (85%) with Syrah making up the rest, Plum and blackberry predominate and, be forewarned in case you don't like this in a wine, it's highly peppery. $9.99.

7) Delatour Malbec 2008. This Languedoc red has very little in common with the Argentinian Malbecs. It tastes of plum and licorice and, unless it's allowed to breathe for at least an hour, is quite rough. $6.99.

8) Nolia Garnacha 2009. This young Catalan wine tastes of plum and dark berries and has a considerable element of zest to it. A good buy at $7.99.

9) Casabayo Tempranillo 2008. Aged for six months in oak and 100% Tempranillo, the favored grape of Rioja, this red comes from the region of Toledo. It tastes of red cherry and vanilla and, even after prolonged breathing, is still on the tart side. $9.99.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Frescobaldi Remole 2008

This Tuscan red is mostly Sangiovese, with an admixture of Cabernet. It comes across more like a New World wine, very fruity, mostly cherry and raspberry, but does have some bite in the finish. Not really my thing, but those of you who are into sweeter reds will probably like it. $8.99.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio 2009

If you're planning a Labor Day gathering for the multitudes this is not a bad choice. For a mass production wine this Northern Italian product has a certain amount of integrity, tasting fresh, fruity, with a discernible touch of the typical P.G. flintiness. At the sale price of $11.99 for the 1.5 liter bottle it won't be major factor in increasing our alarming negative trade balance.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Le Rime Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio 2008

This white Tuscan blend (70% C. 30% P.G.) from the huge Banfi combine in Montalcino, aged in steel casks, is a light bodied, rather fruity (mostly apple) product with some acidity at the finish. It's a very simple wine which, at the sale price, $6.99 after the instant rebate coupon, you might want to try.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Patch Block Chardonnay 2009

This white, a product of the Georges Duboeuf combine, is grown in Southwestern France. It's a relatively restrained Chardonnay, with white fruit flavors tempered by some acidity. A decent wine at $7.99.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Care Syrah/Tempranillo 2008

This red from the Carinena district in Northeastern Spain comes on strongly with plum and almond flavors and lots of tannins, but stops just short of being actually bitter. Not a sipping wine, but goes well with red meats. $9.99, a tad on the high side.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A. Mano Primitivo 2007

I was afraid this might be a case of nomen est omen, but in fact this red from Apulia in Southeastern Italy, made from a grape derrived from Zinfandel,is a very pleasant wine. There are pronounced black berry flavors, moderated by soft tannins, and a finish of soft licorice. Nicely priced at $7.99.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Nissley Naughty Marietta 2008

This Pennsylvania red, with an admixture of white grapes, bills itself as semi-dry but is just plain sweet, with no tannins or acidity to balance the very strong red fruit flavors. Of interest only to those with an overwhelming sweet tooth. $11.49.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Clover Hill Vignoles

A dinner guest brought this Pennsylvania desert wine. Not ever having thought of our state as a premium wine producing region I was somewhat skeptical but it turned out I need not have worried. This straw colored hybrid is nicely sweet, without going overboard like so many German wines, with nice elements of peach and melon, and the relatively low alcohol content makes it ideal fo finishing a meal. No vintage designation, so evidently a blend. $10.99.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Funky Llama Pinot Grigio 2009

Unfortunately this Argentine white drops off in the direction of sweetness, which is a no no for a Pinot Grigio. If you don't mind this, you might try it, although it's puzzling to me why, unlike all the other varietals from this winery, it's promotional price is a dollar higher at $4.99.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Santa Ana Eco Malbec 2009

This Argentine red is one notch below the Reserva from this vineyard previously reviewed here and, while still drinkable, isn't nearly as good. There are just barely discernible Malbec characteristics and the the finnish is all tannins, quite bitter. $7.99.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Funky Llama Malbec 2009

Unlike the whites from this mass production label previously reviewed here, this red from Argentina will not pass muster. It's thin, too fruity in taste, with barely a hint of the chocolate/caramel element typical of the grape. Even at the ridiculously low promotional price of $3.99 it's not worth the money.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Seresin Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This New Zealand Marlborough Valley has all the characteristics of the breed, the new grass, the tropical fruit, the tang. Only a very slight but detectable sweetness put it just behind the Giesen in my estimation. Favorably priced at $12.99.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dragani Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2009

This red from the mountainous spine of the Italian peninsula is so rough and offputting that even after two hours of breathing it wasn't fit to drink. Don't waste your $6.99.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Colores del Sol Malbec 2009

This young Argentine is a deep red color, almost black. It has more body than would at first have suspected, with blackberry, dark cherry and caramel notes and a slightly acidic finish. A nice little wine, but at $9.99 badly overpriced as is so often the case in PA.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Seeker Sauvignpn Blanc 2009

This New Zeeland white produced by an international combine that also produces wine in France is a blend of grapes grown in three different regions, the Marlborough valley being one of these. It is entirely lacking in the grassy element so common in the wines from there, tastes rather fruity, with notes of peach and pineapple. Fairly pleasant, but overpriced at $10.99.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Senorio del Cid Crianza 2003

This Spanish Ribera del Duero red is probably nearing the end of its useful life, but very decidedly, it's not yet over the hill. It displays a deep ruby red color, tastes of dark berries and quite a lot of oak, and has a deep structure to it. In short, a lovely wine, to be savored with red meats. And, I never thought that I'd ever be able to say this, an absolutely incredible bargain at $8.99. Do buy it, but drink it this year.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Paul Jaboulet Aine Parallele 45

Alright, so the 45th parallel N. is, generally, a good place to grow wine. This Cotes du Rhone red certainly doesn't belie that axiom. A mix of grenache and syrah, it has a nice plum flavor attenuated by a pleasant spiciness, but with no trace of the licorice that is characteristic of the region. Nicely priced at $8.99.

Marques de Riscal White 2008

This Spanish white from Rueda is light, fragrant, withjust a touch of new mown grass about it, reminiscent of the New Zealands. A good summer drink, not badly priced at $7.99.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Funky Llama Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This week we are honoring the still wretched economy by trying out cheap wines. This mass produced white from Argentina, while perhaps a little too fruity, does have at least a hint of the flintyness that is typical of the variety and is, overall, inoffensive. If you're just looking for something to wash down the food this is a tremendous bargain at the present sale price of $3.99.

Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo Merlot 2008

On first tasting this Castillian red my CDC observed, "this is plonk". But ever so gently, I had to disagree. While it's rougher than the Temp/Shiraz I reviewed previously, it still has recognizable cherry and blacberry elements, tempered by a good deal of acidity. It's hardly outstanding, but drinkable. $6.99.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Villoa Sorono Pinot Grigio 2009

I intended to pick something special for my 300th post, but our ham in a very spicy mustard sauce would have masked the nuances of any subtle wine, so we settled fo this simple, not to say simplistic, North Italian white. Although it lacks the bite of a good Pinot Grigio, it is by no means unpleasant, with some elements of peach present, balanced by a citrus finish. At $4.95, why not take it along on a picnic on one of these hot summer days?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Villa Sorono Pinot Noir 2009

There's no subtlety whatsoever in this very young red from the Veneto, it has a detectable cherry element and fairly strong tannins, but stops short of being actually harsh. However, if you're looking for something to wash down a highly seasoned meat, such as the barbecued pork ribs we drunk it with, this will do. It's drinkable and at $4.99, will not put a hole in your pocket.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Framingham Sauvignon Blanc 2009

This young New Zealand white has not quite come into its own. It exhibits a nice blend of apple and grapefruit flavors but not much of the grassiness that is so characteristic of Marlborough Valley wines. Perhaps another year or so in the bottle will bring this out, at present it's a little bland. Decently priced at $11.99.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Finca Flichman Malbec Reserva 2009

This Argentine red has both more body and more bite than the '07 previously reviewed here. Plum flavors are nicely complemented by oak and the characteristic chocolate.
It's interesting, even mildly assertive, and a reasonable buy at $8.99.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rojo Mojo Shiraz 2008

This Spanish red from La Mancha has a big cherry flavor along with a lot of tannins. The finish is gritty, bordering on the harsh. Overpriced at $8.99, available for quite a lot less elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Terrazas Malbec 2008

This Argentine red has elements of red berry and currant, along with the expected chocolate note, and a pleasantly spicy finish. I like it. $9.99, two dollars less in N.Y.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chateau Saint-Robert Graves 2006

This white Bordeaux is a well made wine with dominantly citrus flavors, a hint of orange among them. Unfortunately it's starting to fade, which accounts for the relatively attractive price of $10.49. You're taking a chance, but if you get a good bottle you'll be well rewarded.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bellum Providencia 2006

This red from Yecla (province of Murcia) in Southeastern Spain is made from the Monastrel grape. It is a very good wine indeed with lovely, subdued flavors of plum and dark berries, balanced by oak and soft tannins and with a distinctly nutty finish. Moreover, (will miracles never cease?), the price of $10.99 is well below anything I was able to locate on the net. It should be fine for another year or two, get it and drink it!

Varichon & Clerc Blanc de Blancs Brut

We wanted to celebrate Spain's triumph in the World Cup with a cava, but failed to find a decent one on offer at a decent price, so we settled on this bubbly from Savoie, figuring that at least the seven Catalans on the Spanish starting eleven wouldn't care. The wine is alright, but just that. No way is it a Brut, it tends in the direction of sweetness, with elements of apple and pear. Moreover, the price of $12.49 is a bad joke, you can get it in N.J. for four dollars less.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ribbonwood Sauvignon Blanc 2009

This young New Zealand white is a revelation. It has all of the Marlborough Valley characteristics: citrus, with a touch of kiwi fruit and the unmistakeable freshly mown grass factor. It's nicely balanced, finishes well, and is a real steal at $7.99, Get it!

I know that I've sniped unremittingly at the P.L.C.B., and mostly for good reason. But now I'd like to pay a heartfelt compliment: The manager of the Hummelstown store is a real gentleman. Would that there were many more like him in the organization.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Greg Norman Shiraz 2006

This Australian red, unlike many other wines produced with celebrity names attached to them, is a very good wine indeed. It has a rich mixture of dark berry flavors, along with elements of caramel and oak. Above all, it's extremely smooth in the drinking. The present sale price of $14.99 is quite acceptable.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tapena Tempranillo 2008

This rather undistinguished Castillian red, with a plum flavor that almost slides into prune, and a distinct caramel element, is a prime example of what we, here in PA, are continually forced to endure. It's, at best, a very modest wine, and is priced at $9.99. In N.Y. & N.J. it goes for three dollars less, and is barely worth that. Must we resign ourselves to this situation for all time? Are these people really ensconced in their position of absolute power beyond possibility of recall?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Omaka Springs Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This Marlborough Valley New Zealand white has a nice citrus character, mostly grapefruit, whch gives it a refreshingly acidic character. The aftertaste is just the slightest bit tart. Decently priced at $8.99.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Grange des Roquette 2008

This southern Rhone red is a Syrah/Grenache/Mourvedre blend. A nice, round taste of ripe blackberry and caramel with a slightly acerbic finish make it both pleasing and relatively interesting. $9.99.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Laboure-Roi Pinot Noir 2009

This young red from Aude, in the southwest of France, is produced by a gigantic combine which owns vineyards throughout that country. It is uncomplicated, with not particularly defined red fruit flavors and strong tannins and has something of a bite to it. Not bad, and at $6.99, affordable.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Holiday Suggestions

Here are two mass produced whites you might consider if you plan on entertaining thirsty multitudes on the Fourth: 1) Principato Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay 2009. This North Italian blend is a light, pleasant mix of peach and apple notes, but try to get it in N.Y. or N.J., where it sells for three dollars less than the $11.99 that we have to pay our friendly PLCB. 2)Fontana Candida Frascati. This wine from the region south of Rome comes without a vintage year designation. It's a fresh, somewhat floral wine with elements of white melon and citrus and, mirabile dictu, at the present sale price of $11.99, is a decent value. These wines are no great shakes, but either will constitute an acceptable quaff for a Holiday picnic.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

La Vielle Ferme 2008

This Cotes du Ventoux, grown on the slopes that Petrarch once roamed and that Cezanne painted so often, is, unfortunately, a very modest exemplar of a Cotes du Rhone.It exhibits rather modest black fruit elements and has a fairly acidic finish. It's basically o.k., but nothing to write home about. $8.99.

Rene Barbier White

Like its red cousin this Catalan white is extremely basic. It has a sweetness about it that tastes as if it had been induced, but is drinkable. Even at $5.99 it's overpriced, being available for two dollars less in a number places.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Volteo Tempranillo/Shiraz 2008

This Castilian red has a nice, restrained blend of blacberry and oak, is smooth on the palate and has a very slightly acidic finish. I would compare it to an average Rioja, good but not outstanding. $8.99, a dollar less in N.Y.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cuvee Signee Chinon 2008

This red from the Loire Valley, while on the unassertive side, ha a very pleasant, dry mix of dark berry flavors with a touch of oak. Without calling attention to itself, it makes a nice complement to a meal. $9.99.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Marques de Riscal Reserva 2004

This red Rioja, made from the Tempranillo grape, has a distinctive red cherry taste with a strong admixture of oak and pronounced tannins. If not allowed to breathe properly, it comes off as bitter, otherwise it's a solid accompaniment to red meats. However, at $17.99, it's massively overpriced, available for four dollars less in our more fortunate neighboring states. Vive la concurrence!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gazela Vinho Verde 2009

This young Portuguese white, a mass produced wine from that country's largest winery, is nevertheless fresh, with the right amount of bubliness and a lemony accent. It's an uncomplicated summer quaff and relatively cheap at $5.99, although a dollar less in many states.

Monday, June 14, 2010

CDR 2007

This red Cotes du Rhone, while lacking the body of, say, a Gigondas, is nevertheless a very pleasant wine. Many of the "no names" in the region have of late cut back in quantity and worked on quality and it shows: a good mix of black berries and plum with a pleasing nutty character. $8.49.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nederburg Lyric 2009

What I said about the '08 still goes. In sum, not very exciting but drinkable. As the price has now been reduced to $6.99 you might consider getting a few bottles for everyday use.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Two Oceans Chardonnay

This South African white does not come with an indication of the vintage year, so it's evidently a blend. Aged in steel but with an admixture of oak chips, it tastes heavily of oak and has a distinct element of sweetness. $ 8.99, but two dollars less in NY. and N.J. Forget it.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Marc Mir / Rosell Mir 2008

This Catalan Penedes is a blend of 30% Chardonnay and 70% Xarel-lo. If you are an inveterate Chardonnay devotee, this is nothing for you. But if you have an open mind, you'll appreciate its soft, gentle peach and pear notes. Without being in the least sweet, it does remind one of that possibility. We liked it. $9.99.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2009

This New Zealand white from the Marlborough valley is crisp, fresh, and exhibits touches of tropical fruit and pear along with a touch of lemon grass so typical of that country's whites. The finish is pleasing without being overpowering. A nice wine, decently priced at $8.99.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Louis Jadot Beaujolais Village 2008

This is to confirm what I previously posted, while a so-so wine in a great year can be very good, in a mediocre year it is merely mediocre. Drinkable, but with no outstanding qualities. $8.99, two dollars less in N.Y., N.J. & CT.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Vina San Esteban Malbec Reserva 2008

This bottle could be the source of endless confusion as there is a vineyard by that name (owned by the same people?) in Chile that produces Malbec. This, however, is the Argentine version, from the Mendoza valley. It's a nice enough wine, with blackberry, cherry and a jammy chocolate flavor and an even aftertaste. But, to noone's surprise, surely, it's greatly overpriced at $9.99, being available for three dollars less in N.J. & N.Y.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Laboure-Roi Macon Villages Chardonnay 2007

This southern Burgundian red has good black berry flavors but quite a lot of acidity along with pronounced tannins. There is something that goes vaguely wrong in the aftertaste. At $9.99 it's massively overpriced, being available for three dollars less in N.Y. and N.J.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quinta de Gomariz Vinho Verde 2008

This white from northwestern Portugal is a somewhat atypical Vinho Verde. It has rather more bubbles than most and its peach and gooseberry elements make it a good deal less tart than one would have expected. For those who like a sweeter (but not sweet) wine. $9.99, which is a bit on the high side.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Don Olegario Albarino 2007

We differed on this Galician white from the Rios Baixas. Unlike most wines from this region, it's aged for eight months in steel barrels, which produces a somewhat musty, yeasty character. While both of us appreciated the up front citrus and pineapple elements, my CDC thought she detected an underlying sweetness, while I thought it might be slightly over the hill. This might or might not be the case, but if you snag a good bottle at the sale price of $8.99, it's a real bargain.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Jacob's Creek Shiraz 2007

Anything but subtle, this red from the huge Australian combine displays strong black berry and cherry flavors and more than a hint of oak. But it's certainly a drinkable wine and the sale price of $4.99 will not break the bank. Will go well with red meats or pizza.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Herdade do Peso Vinha do Monte 2008

This Portuguese red, an Alentejano, is a quite nice wine if allowed to breathe for an hour or so (else the tannins dominate in an unpleasant way). It combines blackberry and plum elements with a touch of spicy chocolate and doesn't break up at the finish. My guess is that a year or two in the bottle will improve it further. Unfortunately, once again the PA price of $8.99 is off the wall, it's available at any number of places in NJ for two dollars less.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Jacob's Creek Pinot Grigio 2009

This very new Australian white has surprisingly pronounced melon and citrus flavors for what is a mass production wine. While not competing with the best of the variety it is eminently drinkable and should certainly be snapped up at the present sale price of $4.99.

Friday, May 21, 2010

3 Stones Sauvignon Blanc 2009

This New Zealand Marlborough Valley has a very pale color, tastes of pineapple and citrus, with the former predominant, but lacks the newly mown grass zing at the finish which characterizes the best of the New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. Still, it's a pleasant enough quaff, and at $8.99 it's attractively priced.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Senorio de la Cuenca Rose 2008

I admit to a prejudice against roses, with the exception of a good Tavel. They are mostly too sweet for my palate. This Spanish Cuenca is no exception. The dominant taste is strawberry and there is no bite to counterbalance it. However, if you like a sweet wine, the liquidation price of $6.99 certainly makes it an attractive buy.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Back from the bounding main

The wines offered in the all inclusive package on Sea Dream I were standard stuff, the Danzante Pinot Grigio, previously reviewed here, being a typical example. Among the reds our favorite was the Santa Rita Carmenere Reserva 2007, a Chilean red with a pleasing dark cherry element and soft tannins and hints of soft herbs at the finish. Available in PA for $11.99, but for as little as $8.99 elsewhere.

We also splurged on a Bouza Tempranillo/Tannat 2006. This Uruguayan red comes on with a delicate dark berry flavor, spiced with chocolate, and opens up very nicely when decanted. In imitation of Chateau Neuf du Pape,reflecting stones are placed underneath the wines to absorb heat during the day and keep the grapes warm at night. Some people complain that this results in overly harsh tannins, but we didn't find this to be the case. This is a superior wine, worth the PA price of $18.99.

In Spain, we sampled what is now the standard Parador red, the Melchior Crianza 2005, a Rioja. This is definitely on the light side for a Tempranillo and will go with most anything. Available in Spanish Hypermercados for roughly $8.00, but not in PA.

We tried two reds from Estremadura: A Privilegio de Romale Crianza 2006, a Tempranillo aged in oak for eight months, from the region of Badajoz. This struck us as at the same time especially silky and interestingly spicy. I would buy this wine again anytime. Roughly $10.00, not available in PA, but I certainly recommend it to the powers that be.

Another Tempranillo from Badajoz, The Basangus Crianza 2007, aged in oak for fourteen months, is a powerful wine, reasonably but not excessively heavy, with strong black berry flavors, medium tannins and a kicker of licorice. Goes extremely well with red meats, ca. $11.00, not available in PA.

We also had two very nice whites, a Fernandez de Pierola 2007 from the Rioja, a straw colored wine with white melon flavors, a little subdued in the finish. Roughly $9.00, not available in PA.

And,in Portugal, a Quinto de Azevedo 2008, a Vinho Verde made mostly from the Lureiro grape. Vinho Verdes used to be suspect, as in the cold, wet climate of northern Portugal they tended to be excessively acidic and were sugared to counterbalance this. But with modern methods of cultivation this weakness has been overcome and the wine under review has a very nice lemony flavor with enough of a white fruit element to banish any sourness and no sweetness whatsoever. There is just the merest hint of the bubbly element (the result of adding CO2), typical of the variety ,in this wine. Ca. $10.00, not available in PA.

Finally, back home, we opened a bottle of Olvena 2007, a blend of Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Somontano in the foothills of the Spanish Pyrennees. With the proviso that it has to breathe for at least an hour, this is an excellent wine. It exhibits a nice blend of dark plum and chocolate flavors with a marked element of spices. For once the PA price of $9.99 compares very favorably with what is being asked elsewhere. I suggest you buy it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Natura Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

This organic (does any serious wine drinker really care, I don't) Chilean red has red cherry and cassis flavors and a lot of tannins at the finish. It's by no means unpleasant. $8.99, available fo a dollar less in N.Y.

Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Someone wrote on the net that he liked keeping a few bottles of cheaper wine in his cellar for his less important guests but that this woouldn't serve the purpose, it tasted like grape juice gone bad. If that is a fair representation of his taste I wouldn't care to be one of his more important guests either. This New Zealand white, while not in a class with our favorite Giesen, is a pleasant enough blend of citrus flavors with a hint of mown grass. It should be drunk cold as it tends to be somewhat on the sweet side when warm. $8.99, can be bought for a dollar less elsewhere.

Friday, April 23, 2010

HD Wine Tasting

We recently attended a wine tasting dinner to benefit the Huntington's Disease Society. Five French wines were served.

Chateau Latour Brut. This bubbly from the Saumur region does not live up to its appelation, being vaguely sweet, which no brut should ever be. It's not currently listed in PA and I could locate only the red version elsewhere, which sells for $17.99, way too much.

Jaboulet-Verchere Pouilly Fuisse. Not a particularly distinguished representative of the variety. The color is good and the nose is ok, but the wine lacks the depth which, along with the lemony element, distinguishes a good Pouilly Fuisse. $19.99.

Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose. Medium bodied with a good color, too much raspberry, some cherry, more than a hint of sweetness. Seriously overpriced at $13.99 ($.9.99 in NJ, which wins this one by a mile).

Arrogant Frog Lilly Pad Pinot Noir. I don't profess to know if this wines's name is a bit of French self mockery but what wew have here is a nice, unassertive country red from the Herault in Languedoc. Relatively full bodied, it mixes cherry elements with ripe tannins. I would certainly pick it up at the present sale price of $8.99.

Chateau de Paillet-Quancard. I reviewed this Bordeaux red previously and was somewhat disappointed. The price has now been reduced to $10.29 and if you are a lover of Merlot, which I'm not, you might want to try it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our State Liquor Board

My son in CO tells me that he much enjoyed the Dona Paula Los Cardos Malbec from Argentina's Mendoza Valley, for which he paid $8.99. The wine is offered in PA for $13.99. Way to go, PSLB, just shows you what the power of mass purchasing can achieve.

Quinto de Gomariz Vinho Verde 2008

This white from Northern Portugal is a nice, crisp summer wine. It's fruity elements (peach and gooseberry) are well balanced by citrus and there is just enough of the bubly element characteristic of the variety to make it interesting. $9.99.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Diseno Malbec 2007

This red from Argentina has a good blend of cherry and dark berry flavors with the usual touch of chocolate. The finish is short, the tannins still have a little edge to them. $7.99, is priced higher in a lot of other states but can also be had for a dollar less.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Genesis Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

This Washington State red is a very nice wine indeed. The nose is pungent and it combines subdued raspberry and cherry flavors with a finish of anise and cinnamon which stops well short of being too assertively spicy. Attractively priced at $8.99. Get it!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monte Antico 2006

This Tuscan red is mostly Sangiovese, with admixtures of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. It's thin in body and will thus go with most everything. Flavors are mostly cherry and red berry with a good deal of acidity at the finish and elements of licorice and anise that not everyone will like. $9.99, which is on the high side for this wine.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Long Boat Sauvignon Blanc 2008

We paired this up with our favorite New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, the Giessen. It doesn't quite measure up,it lacks the pungent bite, but it's by no means bad. While more restrained, it has an extremely civilized mix of citrus and white peach flavors. $9.99.

Sartori Pinot Noir 2007

This red, a product of the Banfi combine, comes from the Province of Pavia in Northeastern Italy, a region not usually associated with the Pinot Noir grape. The experiment is not entirely successful, there is a heavy handedness about the mostly blackberry flavor, and something slightly over the top about the balancing acidity. $8.99.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cruz de Piedra Garnacha 2007

This Spanish red from Aragon is both pungent and fiery. It delivers powerful elements of cherry and red berries along with a lot of spice and doesn't fade at the finish. This is an assertive wine that would overpower delicate dishes, but if you're serving something hearty it's just fine. $9.99.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Mouton Cadet White 2008

The French branch of the Rothschild family, for generations producers of luxury wines in Bordeaux, created the Cadet (jr.) line in the 1970's in order to get a toehold in the mass market. What they came up with is a wine which, although it has very little in common with the great Bordeaux whites, is nevertheless a nice, crisp blend of citrus and peach and, at the sale price of $7.99, a relatively good buy.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rio Diamante Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This Argentine white is just a little on the fruity side for a Sauvignon Blanc, with strong apple and citrus notes and a curious slightly bitter element in the aftertaste which faded away after the first glass. $7.99.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Henry Fessy Regnie 2007

This red from the Beaujolais region has cherry elements combined with a distinct element of caramel. It opens up nicely and retains its character to the finish. A find,even at $9.99.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chateau de Meursault Beaune 2002

Alright, so it was our Easter dinner and we wanted something special. The Pinot Noir grape is capable of maturing in colder climates and thus is well suited to Northern Burgundy. Vintages vary considerably from year to year and 2002 was a fairly good one in the region. The wine is well balanced with predominantly blackberry elements nicely balanced by oak and a slightly acidic finish. I picked this up at the closeout price of $23 and if you can find it for that you might splurge on it, but drink it now, I have the impression that it won't last very much longer.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Nieto Senetiner Malbec 2008

This Argentine red is aged for ten months in oak and that shows. Along with the strawberry and blackberry flavors there is a decided caramel element and a lot of tannins mark the finish. Anice wine, but, as usual, at $9.99 it's overpriced, being available for two dollars less in neighboring states. When are wwe going to vote the State Liquor Board out?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Louis Latour Duet 2007

This French white from a huge vineyard in the Ardeche is a half-and-half blend of Chardonnay and Viognier. The result is a somewhat diffident but pleasant wine, with strong notes of pear and a touch of caramel. It doesn't stay long on the tongue, but is most welcome while it does. At $8.99 it's reasonably priced, though those of you lucky enough to live within striking distance of a Trader Joe's can get it for two dollars less, which is a real bargain.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rio Diamante Malbec 2008

This Argentine red is somewhat drier than your average Malbec and combines dark berry and vanilla flavors with pronounced tannins at the finish. Alright, but not my favorite in this price range. $7.99.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Woodridge Pinot Grigio 2008

This California wine, from the Robert Mondavi monster combine is an inoffensive but drinkable product with an element of citrus and not much of a bite. But, in these parlous days, one shouldn't be too critical, and if you can find it with an attached instant rebate coupon, it's only $6.24, if you buy two bottles.

Finca La Daniela Tempranillo 2007

The Argentinian Tempranillos tend to be somewhat heavier and duskier than their Spanish counterparts and this one is no exception to that rule. This is a nice wine, with dark cherry and tannins and a touch of smoke. Worth the price of $10.99

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Colorado Caper

Just back from a long weekend in CO where I drank the following:

Di Majo San Giovese 2008. This Italian red manages to be both full bodied and dry, not an easy accomplishment. It tastes of plum, with a didtinctly nutty flavor element. I liked it. $8.99, not on offer in PA.

Gato Negro Cabernet/Merlot 2008. This very simple Chilean red has dark berry flavors tempered by mild tannins. Rather inoffensive but certainly drinkable, and it's cheap. For the feminists among you, it's made under the supervision of a woman wine maker. $5.99, PA offers the straight Merlot at $6.09.

Zamba Malbec 2008. This Argentine red has small admixtures of Syrah and Cabernet Franc. I'm not sure that this is a success. While it's very dry, with elements of cherry, the characteristic chocolaty Malbec element is almost entirely absent. $8.99, not available in PA.

Casa de Campo Malbec 2009. Now here is an eminently likable wine. This Argentine red has a nice, even blend of dark berry flavors with just the right amount of chocolate. It's good now, but being so young, should improve further in the bottle. $8.99, the PA price of $9.99 is not excessive.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rio Diamante Chardonnay 2008

This Argentine white has elements of apple, is heavily oaked, and has a finish that seems, definitely, to be cinnamon. To my taste, it's a bit more fruity than I like, but I admit that may be an idiosyncracy of mine. $7.99.

Jaboulet-Vercherre Chassy 2008

This red Cotes du Rhone is alright, although on the whole forgettable. It displays some dark berry flavors and soft tannins, but lacks the full bodied character that one associates with the region. On special at $7.99, but is offered for two dollars less elsewhere.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Donna Fugata Sedara 2007

Sicilian reds tend to err on the side of Disneyland, but this one is relatively restrained. The nose has a definite note of tobacco, it tastes of cherry and blackberry, moderated by soft tannins. If you find it with an instant rebate coupon for $2, reducing the price to $9.99, it's worth a try.

Dao Cabriz 2006

Providing it is allowed to breathe for at least an hour, this Portuguese red, a blend of three local grapes, is a pleasant mix of dark cherry, blackberry and oak and doesn't undergo any unpleasant deterioration at the finish. It's uncomplicated but a nice quaff and most affordable at $6.19.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cavas Hill A Brut

We had something to celebrate, so we settled on this Spanish cava. (I really am curious what French 18th century public relations genius in Champagne first promoted the notion that spakling wines are especially festive). This is a non vintage wine, with elements of apple and citrus, is rather acidic and the carbonation is somewhat subdued. It's good, but in the price range I prefer the Freixenet. $9.49.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Campo Viejo Crianza 2006

This is the entry level of the Rioja which I previously reviewed in its Reserva incarnation. There is a good mix of dark cherry and tanins, along with an acerbic but by no means bitter finish. Not a bad buy at $8.99, but drink it now, I don't think it will keep much longer.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Le Rime Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio 2008

This white, another Banfi product, comes from Montalcino in Tuscany, one of Italy's prime wine growing regions. It tastes of apple and citrus and is by no means bad, but is not a truly happy marriage, as it lacks both the buttery roundness of Chardonnay and the bite of Pinot Grigio. $7.99, and if you can find it with the instant $2.50 rebate tag, you might want to try it, it's well worth that.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Col di Sasso 2007

We tried two reds from the huge Banfi combine. The Sangiovese/Merlot was thin, acidic, with a bitter finish. I do not recommend it. The Cabernet Sauvignon/San Giovese was somewhat better. If you let it breathe it will develop some dark berry flavors with a lot of tannin. Both were $7.99, with $2.50 instant rebate tags attached. If you find a bottle with tag, you might give it a try.

Ohio Weekend

We tried a couple of wines in Columbus: 1)Santa Rita Carmenere Riserva 2007. This Chilean red is a quite pleasant wine with dark berry flavors and quite a bit of tannin and a nice finish. $7.99, the PA price of $11.99 is an insult to the intelligence. 2) Espada del Gaucho Malbec 2008. This Argentine red has somewhat less body than most Malbecs, a very distinct plum flavor with the usual notes of chocolate and vanilla and a very even finish. $8.99, not presently on offer in PA.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Luna Freakout 2007

This California white is one of the notorious "internet specials". I found one bottle at my local outlet so I took a flyer on it. What we have here is an imitation Friuli, a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and a Slovenian grape named Ribella Gialla. Like many hybrids, it can't make up its mind about what it is.
It's somewhat fruity, somewhat sweet, somewhat bland. It's certainly not bad, but nor is it in any way interesting. If you can find a bottle in your local store at the closeout price of $4.99 you might want to try it, otherwise don't waste your money on transportation charges.

Boutari Moschofilero 2008

This white from the Peloponnese comes from one of Greece's largest wineries, but for all that rises well above the level of plonk. It has a pleasant floral bouquet and tastes of pear with a strong element of citrus and a slightly bitter finish which my CDC found interesting and which reminded me, but only just, of the famous Greek Retsina, which only native born Greeks savor. Although I would probably not drink it by itself, it makes a nice accompaniment to spicy seafood dishes and curries. At the closeout price of $8.09 it's an attractive buy if you can find it.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ondalan Rioja Joven

This Spanish red comes with the designation "Joven"/Young instead of the year of harvesting and it is that. It has a rather unsettled mix of dark berry flavors with a lot of tannin and a peppery element. At $9.99 it is undoubtedly overpriced.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Caveat Emptor

CAVEAT EMPTOR: LET THE BUYER BEWARE! The PA Liquor Board has come up with a new swindle. They send you an email advertising a number of wines at very attractive prices. But when you get to the state store it turns out that the wines have all been pulled from the shelves and are available only by ordering them over the internet. If you do so, they will then be shipped to your local wine store, but you will be charged an additional $5.00 for an order of three bottles. If this isn't misleading advertising, what is it? QUIS CUSTODIET IPSOS CUSTODIES? WHO REGULATES THESE REGULATORS?

Ochoa Garnacha/Tempranillo 2007

This Spanish red comes from Olite, the capital of the medieval kingdom of Navarre. While there is nothing regal about it, given that a young brashness is its main characteristic, it nevertheless provides a nice blend of black berry flavors with quite a lot of spice and some licorice. The price in this country for whatever reason fluctuates wildly, the PA $9.99 falling in the middle range.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

2 Up Shiraz 2007

This robust and dense South Australian red is your archtypical Australian fruit bomb, with strong rapberry and blueberry elements, fortunately tempered by sufficient tannins ands oak. It remains consistent throughout and finishes with a hint of licorice. If that's your thing, by all means get it at $8.99, a very good price for this wine.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bulls Blood 2005

According to legend in 1552 the defenders of the fortress of Eger in northern Hungary, besiedged by the invading Turks who vastly outnumbered them, fortified their courage by drinking up the town's wine cellars. They fought so fiercely that the Turks concluded they must be drinking bulls blood and lifted the siege. Be that as it may, this red is not for the faint of heart. Although it's translucent in the manner of a South Tyrolean, it comes on with a big, earthy mix of tobbaco and plum, with strong tannins that make it a good choice to go with very spicy foods (we had Hungarian paprika chicken). Nothing subtle or complex here, but a pleasant enough quaff. $6.99.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Les Amadous 2008

This Cotes de Ventoux red from Provence is grown on the slopes of the mountain which Cezanne painted some two hundred times (or so it seems). While it is nice enough, with dark cherry and chocolate flavors tempered with strong tannins, which would suggest pairing it with spicy dishes, and an even finish, it lacks the master's palette, being rather one dimensional. $9.99, which is on the high side.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hidden Jewel Unoaked Chardonnay 2006

I bought this California wine for a direct comparison with the Les Charmes reviewed here the other day. It comes off second best. It's not nearly as crisp, and the green apple flavor, while discernible, is ill defined. Moreover there is a hint in the aftertaste that the wine is on the point of going bad. $7.49.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Les Charmes Chardonnay 2007

This Macon-Lugny from southern Burgundy is imported in coniderable quantities. It is rounder than the typical Macon and thus more accessible, but for that lacks the steely edge whih makes th variety so interesting. Unlike most California Chardonnays, it is unoaked, so it may seem atypical to many Americans. A good buy at the closeout price of $6.79.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone 2007

The region is famous for its robust reds. This white, 50% Viognier and the rest a blend of several local varieties, has a certain flintiness to it, along with apple and citrus flavors and does remain on the tongue. I find it somewhat subdued, but if you can find it at the closeout price of $8.09 you might want to try a bottle.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Esprit de Labastide Gaillac 2008

This white from the valley of the Tarn in southwestern France comes on with a flowery bouquet and has a fresh taste of apples mingled with citrus. It is what in France is called "perle", that is ever so slightly bubbly. It will go well with fish, pork or veal, but doesn't have much of a finish, so is basically uninteresting to drink by itself. $7.99.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

X Winery Viognier 2008

A good Viognier should have deep notes. This Lodi white, although 15.5 % alcohol, doesn't quite make it. There's a decent nose and elements of peach, but on the whole, the effect stays on the surface. Just not a very interesting wine. $9.99.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Caliterra Reserva Chardonnay 2007

This Chilean Chardonnay is a nice representative of its variety. It has a decent nose and comes on with a strong and pleasing, but not overwhelming mix of white fruit and citrus flavors, tempered by a good deal of oakiness. If you can find it at the close out price of $6.19, it's a steal.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Le Moulin de la Dame 2005

This red Cote Bleue, just north of Marseilles, is most untypical for a wine from Provence. Mostly they're earthy, uncomplicated and fruity, but this is a subtle, reserved wine, which hints of raspberry, but plenty of oak and tannins, which comes on strong at the finish. Very decently priced at $9.99.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sangiuseppe Pinot Grigio Rose 2008

Given that the Pinot Grigio grape is a mutation of Pinot Noir, it's hardly surprising that a fraction of the harvest is pink. This particular wine is on the mellow side, with some apple and citrus elements. Drinkable, not particularly distinguished, but you might want to pick it up at the closeout price of $6.79.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Folonari Pink Pinot Grigio 2008

Yes, this comes from a mass producer in the Veneto, it certainly lacks the craggyness of a decent Pinot Grigio, but it has a fairly pleasant, mildly sweet blend of apricot and apple flavor. It might do as a dessert wine; we had it with a very hot Indian curry which, curiously, it complemented nicely. If you can find it at the liquidation price of $4.89 you might want to try a bottle.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tilia Torrontes 2008

This Argentine white, while pleasant enough, lacks the strong herbal notes that are an outstanding characteristic of the variety and has a discernably sweet finish. $8.99. In this price range I much prefer the Trivento.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Jim Jim Shiraz 2007

This red from one of that country's oldest wineries, although by no means an Australian fruit bomb, has a good nose and a pleasing mix of dark berry and plum, with a fairly strong peppery accent. It went well with our home made, heavily spiced pizza. $8.99.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Vina Herminia Tempranillo Cosecha 2008

This young red from Spain's Rioja has been aged in oak barrels and presents itself with a most pleasing nose and a combination of dark berries, vanilla and moderate tannins. My guess is that it will get even better after a year or two in the bottle. Quite reasonably priced at $9.99.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

X Winery Chardonnay 2008

This Napa Valley wine has some nice pear and tropical fruit flavors, not much of a nose, and a very buttery finish. It lacks the bite of a really good Chardonnay. The sale Price of $9.99 is well below market, so if you're an inveterate fan of Chardonnays you might want to try a bottle.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chateau Lamargue 2005

Sometime ago I reviewed this Costieres de Nimes vineyard's white and liked it very much. This blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre is more problematical. It comes on very nicely with a good nose and a satisfying blend of dark berry, plum and licorish flavors and I felt very hopeful about it, but as we worked our way deeper into the bottle we both found that the licorish became dominant, to the point of lending the wine a bitter taste. It may be that this was just a bad bottle, as too much air came out when I uncorked it. $8.99.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Espigueiro Vinho Verde 2008

This young white from the North of Portugal has a fresh, pleasant aroma and tastes of apples and citrus. It is nicely acidic and just slightly petillant. An honest, uncomplicated wine which can accompany spicy foods or be drunk as an aperitif. $7.99.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Elsa Bianchi Malbec 2008

This entry level red from an established Argentinian winery is a vey pleasant, versatile wine. It has a nice combination of dark berry and vanilla flavors, with just enough tannin to keep it honest. It will go with just about anything. $8.99, a dollar less in N.J.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mesta Macabeo/Moscatel 2008

This young Castilian white, aged for six months in steel casks, has a pleasingly fresh nose and tastes of apricot and peach with just enough acidity to give it some interest. Nicely priced at $7.99.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mirador Iberico Tempranillo 2006

This Spanish red from the province of Toledo is a simple country wine, with red berry and caramel notes and a touch of licorice. It's not bad, but at $8.99 considerably over priced for what it is.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mas Carlot Les Enfants Terribles 2007

This Costieres de Nimes, a blend of Mourvedre and Syrah, has the character of a Rhone wine. Along with nice, fruity notes of black berries and plum it exhibits a certain gravitas, with dusky touches of anise and, yes, red meat. The name comes from the four children of the owners. A good choice for steaks or roasts. $10.99.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pinot Evil Pinot Noir

This Corsican vin de pays, like many of that ilk, is a blend of several vintages and thus has no indication of its year. After a good three hours of breathing it was drinkable, but just: there remained a somewhat bitter aftertaste. It's thin, with only the barest cherry notes. Even at $5.99 I'd say forget it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rosell Mir Pla de la Creu Blanc 2008

This Catalan white, made from a grape more often used to produce cavas, tastes for all the world like a sparkling wine that has gone flat. It is fruity, just short of actually sweet, and lacks any acidity which might have given it some distinction. At $9.99 it's massively overpriced.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Real de Aragon Garnacha 2007

This is my 200th post and I've caught a live one. This Spanish red from Calatayud, having breathed for the requisite hour, has a nice, rounded presence of red berries and plum with enough of a spicy note to make it interesting. It lasts well on the tongue. Fairly priced at $9.99.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Castillo de Almansa Granacha Tintorera 2007

This Spanish red is grown in Albacete, in Castille. It has an intense dark red color, a good nose of black berries and a pleasing taste of plum tempered by a note of pepper. It was a good complement to our steak au poivre. A relatively decent buy at $8.99.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Prelius Vermentino 2008

This Tuscan white is made from a grape originating in Spain which is said to do best in warm climates, which Tuscany does not always provide. Apart from the fact that it's touted as being the first wine organically grown in Italy there's nothing particularly remarkable about it: very little nose, apple and pineapple flavors with a finish that slides off into the sweet. $9.99.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Zolo Torrontes 2009

This Argentine white has a big, flowery nose and tastes of citrus and apple. It doesn't die on the tongue like some of that variety occasionally do, but there is a slight element of sweetness as the wine warms up in the glass. $9.49, although I hear it's being remaindered at Costco in neighboring states for five bucks. If you can find it at that price, get it!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tinto Lena 2008

This very simple and unassuming country red from the Spanish province of Leon in the NW, if allowed to breathe for a good two hours, will provide an adequate accompaniment to straightforward dishes such as pasta. There is nothing whatsoever remarkable about it but it's drinkable and, at $8.99 for the liter bottle (translates to $6.75 for the normal 750 ml) it won't break the bank.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Zolo Malbec 2008

This Argentine red exhibits some red berry flavors and the note of chocolate that characterizes the variety but it's a rather austere wine, with strong tannins. Not our favorite Malbec. The price in this country goes through wild gyrations, all the way from sixteen down to eight dollars a bottle. $9.49

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Simonnet Febvre Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc 2007

This white from the Chablis area has the odd distinction of being the only Sauvignon Blanc produced in Burgundy. It's aged in steel so that it lacks the oaky flavor generally associated with that grape. 2007 was a cool summer and perhaps for that reason this wine also is short on the white fruit/freshly mown grass element of the better Chablis, it's just light, dry and quite drinkable. $9.99.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Nieto Senetiner Torrontes Reserva 2009

This young Argentine white is as yet not fully developed. It has a nice, fresh taste but the strong flowery odors and white fruit flavors characteristic of the grape are absent. It may or may not mature in the bottle. As usual the PA price, $9.99, is out of line. If you can get it in N.Y. at three dollars less, the current sale price, you might want to try a bottle.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

For the holiday we had two of our favorites: The Don David Tannat on New Year's Eve and the Giesen Marlborough the next day. They did not disappoint. Unfortunately I must report that our first new venture of the year, a 2008 Vinia Herminia Tempranillo from Spain's Rioja, turned out to be a bust. The nose was characterized by an unmistakable musty odor, and even after an hour's airing, the taste was dominated by harsh tannins. Even at $9.99 I don't recommend it.