Wednesday, December 28, 2011

McWilliams Chardonnay 2009

Stateside lovers of Chardonnay, in my experience mostly of the female persuasion, will like this Australian white. It's fruity, mostly melon and apple, not precisely sweet, but certainly mellow and buttery, with a slight tinge of citrus for balance. Affordable at $6.99.

Little Yering Pinot Noir 2008

The entry level wine from this well known Australian winery, this red is extremely light in body. It reminded me of what one typically is served in the South Tyrol. It has a pleasant mix of red berry flavors with a slight citrus finish. A good summer wine to go with a light meal taken al fresco. Attractively priced at $7.99.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Symington Altano Douro 2009

This Portuguese red from the Douro Valley has a nice mix of red berries and chocolate notes, with an agreeable, slightly peppery finish. A nice wine, but well overpriced at $9.99, being available for three dollars less in N.J.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Charte d'Assemblage 2010

First of all, this young Languedoc red, a Grenache/Syrah blend, has to breathe for at least two hours, preferably decanted, else it will have an unpleasantly bitter aftertaste. Once this dissipates, what you have is a robust country wine with plum and cherry notes and quite a lot of spice. $7.99.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Quinta de Casal Branco 2008

This Portuguese red blend is made on an estate which is best known for breeding the famous Lusitanian horses, for whatever that's worth. It has a somewhat aggressive onset, reminiscent of licorice and oak but then morphs into a nice, smooth finish. $8.99, but sells for as much as three dollars less, on sale, in N.J. If you can get it for that, it's a real bargain.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stanza Gewurztraminer 2008

"Gewurz" in German means spice and this grape, with elements of lychee nut and nutmeg, was probably developed in the South Tyrol some thousand years ago. It has most prominently been identified with Alsace. This California exemplar has a pleasant, somewhat subdued spicyness and stops well short of being sweet, the curse of many Gewurtztraminers made in this country. At the sale price of $5.99 it's well worth buying.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Patient Cotta Le Grand Caillou Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Here we have a Loire which in every way calls to mind a Sancerre but, as it's merely country varietal, sells at half the price. It opens up with a pear note, almost sweet, but not quite, and soon balanced by citrus. A crisp, clean wine, and a real bargain at $9.99.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pillar Box Red 2008

Some reviewers have described this Shiraz blend as an Australian fruit bomb. I'd say it's, at best, a firecracker. Some blackberry and cherry elements come through but the overall impression is ho-hum. At least it's not expensive: $6.99.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Statum Sauvignon Blanc 2011

This young New Zealand white from the Marlborough district is somewhat atypical. Missing is the freshly mown grass element that so many of these wines exhibit. What you get is gooseberry along with some citrus. A nice, if not memorable, wine and reasonably priced at $8.49.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stratum Sauvignon Blanc

This non-vintage New Zealand white from the Marlborough Valley has some of the charechteristics of the wines of the region but lacks the typical mown grass elements. It's pleasant enough but not particularly distinguished. $8.49.

Nederburg Chenin Blanc 2011

While the previously reviewed white blend from this South African producer is very citrous in flavor, this Chenin Blanc is at the least semi sweet, with apricot and peach elements. Those of you who are into California Chardonnays might like it. $6.99.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ramon Bilbao Crianza 2006

Aged for almost two years, in American oak and in the bottle, this Spanish red from the Rioja is 100% Tempranillo. It exhibits a nice blend of cherry and dark berry flavors, with an element of smokiness and a touch of licorice at the prolonged, even finish. Altogether, a nice wine which seems to sell for a wide gamut of prices, with the PA price of $9.99 toward the low end.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2010

This New Zealand white which I reviewed very favorably three years ago has now been reduced to $9.99. At that price it's a real bargain. Buy it, it won't last.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Loios Alentejano 2010

The Alentejo in Eastern Portugal is best known for its reds. This young white has a dominating citrus element with a note of cut grass vaguely reminiscent of a New Zealand, although not as pronounced. Fairly complex for its age and price. $7.99.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Berro Piemonte Barbera 2010

This Italian red is made from a grape originating in the Piedmont. It's very smooth drinking, with red cherry and raspberry overtones and an even finish. $9.99.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wines in Spain & on the North Atlantic

We're just back from a week in Spain and an adjoining Transatlantic Cruise. During this time we drank sixteen wines not previously reviewed here. Only one is available in PA. I don't know whether this speaks to our tastes or to PSLB's purchasing policy. Judging from the price we paid for them in our hotels and aboard ship (given a markup of 2.5 to 3.5 X over what one would have to pay in the stores) all but two of them should be available, if they are indeed imported into the country, at under $10. All of them proved acceptable, quite a few of them were actually quite good. In case some of you find them in other states, I append a list.

Marques de Riscal Verdejo 2010. Spanish white.
David Moreno Non Vintage. Rioja white.
Don Suero Prieto Crianza 2009. Spanish red.
Vinha Herminia Reserva 2005. Rioja red. PA price $21.99.
Sanz Classico Rueda 2010. Spanish red.
Fernandez de Pierola 2010. Rioja white.
Concorrales Tempranillo 2010. Spanish red.
Elsa Bianchi Malbec 2010. Argentinian red.
Ponzi Pinot Noir 2009. Oregon red. An expensive wine. Available in N.Y. for $21.
Marques de Concordia Tempranillo Crianza 2007. Rioja red.
Joseph Drouhin Macon Villages 2009. Burgundian red.
Zeta Priorat 2008. Spanish red.
Jean Luc Colombo Viognier 2010. French white.
Heron's Nest Cabernet Sauvignon/Pinotage 2008. South African red.
Heroes Sauvignon Blanc 2010. Chilean white.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gougenheim Syrah 2009

This Argentine red comes up to the standard set by the vineyard's other wines. It's a nice blend of dark cherry and plum, with a hint of chocolate and a certain smokyness in the finish. A nice buy at $7.99.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gougenheim Malbec Reserve 2009

This red is the upgraded version of the wine previously reviewed here and it's very nice indeed. It exhibits a beautifully smooth and integrated blend of plum and black berry flavors, with the typical Argentinian Malbec chocolate element and just enough of a tannin element at the finish to make it interesting. Highly recommended. $10.99, but you can get it for a dollar-and-a-half less in N.J.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Alandra Red

This non vintage Portuguese red from the extreme south of the country is a blend of three local varietals. It's pretty much fruit up front, with a vaguely acerbic finnish. Not bad, but at $8.99 it's quintessentially overpriced, being available at three dollars less throughout N.J. Quite frankly, I'm tired of hearing from defenders of the PA system who maintain that my bias is unreaonable. Can't you people add?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Calcu Malbec 2008

This Chilean red is lighter than one would expect of a Malbec, it is in fact on the verge of being insubstantial. If you insist that your wines take a back seat to your food, it may do for you. $7.99.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Chain of Fire Shiraz 2008

This Australian red is anything but the typical fruit bomb. Rather, it's restrained in character, with dark berry elements tempered by not inconsiderable acidity. A nice wine, favorably priced at $7.99 with manufacturer's coupon.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nieto Senetiner Pinot Noir 2010

I found this Argentine red disappointing. While the Malbec from this winery generally gets high marks, this Pinot Noir is immature and diffident to the point of disappearing from the palate. It's not in any way unpleasant, it just doesn't have much to say for itself. $9.99.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Conte Brandolini d'Adda Treanni

This Italian red from the Friuli is a blend of three vintages as well as of three varietals. It has a youthful vigor without being brash, tastes mostly of red berries and has a nice, tangy finish. Well priced at $9.99.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bodega Elena Red Blend 2010

Here's something for the feminists: a wine by a female wine maker. A blend of Malbec, Syrah and Bonardo, this wine from Argentina's Mendoza district is a nice, restrained mixture of black cherry and blackberry elements, with enough of a bite at the finish to make it interesting. Nicely priced at $6.99.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Plumia Muscat 2009

When one thinks of Muscat/Muscatel a sweet white desert wine comes to mind. This one from Aragon however stops well short of being sweet. It's a somewhat assertive mix of pear and bitter orange with a fair amount of pungency. I'd say it would go best with a strong cheese. $8.99.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ciconia 2010

This young Portuguese red blend is a pleasing blend of cherry and red berry flavors with a touch of chocolate and oak at the finish. $7.99, available for a dollar less throughout N.Y. and N.J. Ciconia means stork in Portuguese, so you ladies be aware!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Joseph Drouhin Laforet 2009

Whwn I reviewed this bottle I complained that it was excessively fruity. Well, this time around the overwhelming impression was one of pure citrus, to the point of being bitter. My advice is that, if a wine is that inconsistent, don't buy it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gonnet Ventoux 2010

A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault, this young Cote du Rhone red is somewhat on the austere side. It lacks the fullbodyness of a typical CDR and is fruit forward, with a pepper finish and very drinkable. $9,99, a fair price for this bottle.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hotel de France Ferney-Voltaire; Hotel Taillard Goumois

In his old age Voltaire lived in the little village of Ferney, five miles from Geneva, so that if, as had often happened before, he got in trouble with the censorship, he would be able to make a quick escape into Switzerland. Today the modern, functional Hotel de France can be made to serve a somewhat different purpose: If one has business to transact in Geneva but is unwilling to pay the really astronomical prices that decent hotels in that city demand, this is an acceptable alternative. A double will cost you about $125 and you can be either in the city center or at the airport in less than ten minutes. But one caveat, unless you've rented a car on the Swiss side of the Geneva airport you'll be subjected to the scam that the Swiss have in place with their thruway stickers.

Goumois is a little village in the midst of a forest in the Jura, quite close to the Swiss border. The Hotel Taillard, owned for four generations by the same family, sits atop a plateau with a good view of the mountains. There's an outdoor pool and many hiking trails lead into the woods. While the rooms are rather small and the furnishings old fashioned the cuisine is a very good example of the French classical style. Half pension runs about 110 per person per day. This is a good place to unwind or a weekend if one has been working hard all week either in Switzerland or in Southwestern Germany; I used to come here from Konstanz and really enjoyed the change of pace and the food.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Le Clos des Cimes St Bonnet le Froid

As the name of the village indicates one is in the mountain here, although actually in the sub Alps. The scenery is pleasant if not spectacular, there are good views of distant peaks. The hotel, a somewhat bleak tructure, sits on an isolated, wind blown plateau. The rooms are good sized, the furniture modern, functional, but not particularly esthetic. There's a small restaurant, Le Bistrot, that serves good regional fare with a prix fixe at $35. The price of a double is $260 for the night which, as more than one traveller has observed, is out of keeping with what you get. So why come here at all? Well, as always in France, the answer to that question is the food. There is a second restaurant attached to the hotel, Regis et Jacques Marcon, and it has three Michelin stars. The chef/proprietor is a renowned mushroom and wild herb connoisseur and, in the spring and fall conjures up marvelous mushroom dishes. One of his most arresting inventions is a cassoulet made with lobster and lentils, not a combination one would readily come up with, but truly great tasting. Needless to say, the prices are well up in the stratosphere, three Michelin stars in France constitute a license to charge as if there were no tomorrow. The cheapest prix fixe is $160 and one ccan easily run up a tab twice that amount. (When I stayed here it was at the invitation of the BBC, for whom I was the featured lecturer in a series about the history of mountain vacationing, so I ate on their nickel). If you're determined to have the gastronomic experience at all costs but don't care to have your pocket picked for an overnight stay, you can also stay at the nearby Le Fort du Pre, a comfortable country hotel with an indoor pool and fitness center for $100 for a double. But, either way, you'll have to reserve a table at Regis et Jacques months ahead of time, the French will line up to pay this kind of money for a meal.

*Adegas Pegoes 2008

Available online only, this Portuguese red is on the reserved side, exhibiting rather subdued red cherry elements. The finish, according to the winery's website, is meant to be chocolate, but in fact it's merely slightly acerbic. Thecloseout price is $7.99.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Maipe Bonarda 2009

Yet another red from Argentina's Mendoza district, this has very soft tannins and somewhat suppressed plum and red berry flavors, with a just slightly acidic finish. While it would be an exaggeration to call it a distinguished wine, it's nevertheless very pleasaznt. A good buy at the sale price of $9.99.

Durigutti Bonarda 2008

The Bonarda grape is an Italian import to Argentina, for the most part it's used to make simple country wines, but this one has greater aspirations. I once wrote that I'd never met an Argentinian red from the Mendoza region that I did'nt like and that's still the case, although my CDC had some problems with this one. Other reviewers have described it as an interesting blend of old and new world elements; for her, and to some degree for me, the former were predominant. Much more of the tartness came through than the fruity elements. This was ok with our beef ribs, but it would probably have overwhelmed a lighter meal. $9.99.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Auberge des Montagnes Pailherols

The southern Auvergne is our very favorite part of France for an extended stay. Pailherols is a tiny hamlet perched atop a high plateau, the first time you drive up the winding road from Vic sur Cere down in the valley you think you'll never get there. What eventually greets you is a pretty house somewhat resembling a chalet. This is where you check in, but make sure that you've reserved your room in Les Glycines, which is their newly built annex another hundred yards down the road. Built to resemble a minicastle complete with small turrets, this overlooks a small lake with ducks and swans swimming in it. While the rooms in the main building are rather small and unpretentious, the rooms here are vast, with French doors opening upon a balcony that overlooks the lake. There is a breakfast room on the lowest level where an ample breakfast buffet is served. The evening meal is taken either in the main floor dining room or in the main house. The cuisine is Auvergnat, which translates into hearty dishes and generous portions. If someday you can get yourself to skip lunch you might try the degustation menu in the evening. This starts out with a slice of foie gras, then a whole salmoned trout, weighing at the very least three pounds, is brought to your table which Madame herself disects for you. Then only comes the main meat dish and you choose your dessert from the traditional French charriot des desserts. After that, of course, there is a cheese tray with a huge assortment of local cheeses. (General De Gaulle once observed that acountry that produced over four hundred different varieties of cheese was inherently impossible to govern and he was probably right). But if you take my advice you'll go easy on the delicious tasting, looking and smelling Auvergnat mashed potato and cheese mixture that accompanies the main meal, this will sit in your stomach like a canon ball. The place is idyllic, there are several different walks you can take that lead upward through meadows with lowing Charolais cattle to hilltops with extended views. There's both an outdoor and an indoor pool and even a small climbing wall for the kiddies. In winter the area affords excelent cross country skiing trails. At some ten minute's drive there is a castle that Louis XIV built for one of his mistresses which is nowadays part of a working farm andcan be visited. Tastes of course differ, but for both of us this region of high, isolated mountain plateaus represents the absolutely ideal setting for complete and unconditional relaxation. We spent a very happy week here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Torres Malena Garnacha 2010

A fairly uncomplicated wine, this Catalan red from the huge Torres combine, provided you give it at least an hour to breathe, provides a nice cherry element with jus enough background acidity to make it interesting. $7.99.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hotel Les 7 Molles Sauveterre de Comminges; Hotel Les 3 Lys Condom France

Hotlel Les 7 Molles Sauveterre de Comminges. A molle is a millstone, and there are seven old ones distributed around the extensive grounds of this largish country inn. It's located in the central Pyrenees, surrounded by a park which has been hewn out of the forest. There are wonderful walks in along the river valley that adjoins the hotel and an ample outdoor pool. The rooms are large and prettily decorated, there's a really superior display of old hand painted regional pottery in the dining room. The restaurant, while very good, is not what it was years ago when it aspired to greatness, it now serves a traditional and not very inspired regional cuisine. You may decide to take your meals elsewhere. What this is, is a pleasant place to stay if you have an interest in visiting nearby Lourdes and want to avoid the hustle and bustle that staying in the shrine town involves. A double is approximately $150 for the night.

Hotel Les 3 Lys Condom France. The name is perhaps unfortunate but Condom is a very pretty medieval town with mostly stone houses close to the extremely picturesque gorges of the river Tarn. The hotel is a restored eighteenth century mansion with large bedrooms that have genuine antique furniture. There, a pleasant garden with a large outdoor pool and the hotel is extremely quiet at night. Here too a rooom will set you back about $15o for the night. The restaurant is somewhat overpriced and not particularly distinguished but there is a really excellent restaurant in town, La Table des Cordeliers. This is housed in a thirteenth century convent chapel and has a Michelin star. On weekdays it serves what must be close to the cheapest three course Michelin one star prix fixe in France for $31. (A note: when travelling in France it is acceptable to not take one's evening meal in a hotel with a restaurant when staying for one night, but with a longer stay this will likely provoke a very frosty response.)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Stemmari Nero D'Avola 2009

The expression that first comes to my mind when Sicilian reds are mentioned is " Brutta figura", they tend to be harsh, over the top and assertive. This is not the case with this one. To be sure, it's anything but dry, expressing, wihout quite walloving in, red berry fruity flavors, but on balance it's quite restrained and civilized. Not bad, but even at the sale price of $7.99, it's overpriced, being available in neighboring states for two dollars less.

Guardian Peak Frontier 2008

A blend of half Cabernet Sauvignon, the other half Shiraz and Merlot, this South African red is pleasant on the tongue with elements of plum and cherry and a peppery finish. A very good buy at the sale price of $7.99.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Toad Hollow Risque Vin Vivant

A vin vivant falls about midway between a genuine sparkling wine such as Champagne and a just barely effervescent one such as Vinho Verde. It's made from young grapes, continues to ferment in the bottle and is always just slightly sweet. This French white from the Limousin is very light (just 6% alcohol) and goes reasonably well with light dishes such as pasta. One advantage it has is that it comes with a bottle which, while it has the usual Champaign cork, also has a European reclosable beer bottle top attached to it, so that it can be recycled to contain soda water or beer at picnics. $8.99.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Octave Vinho Verde

This non vintage Portuguese white, made from immature grapes in the north of the country, is light, refreshing on a hot day, tastes of lemon and lime and is slightly effervescent. Attractively priced at $6.99.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Parador Monforte; Parador Verin; Parador Baiona Spain

Today I shall describe three very different paradors in the Galician countryside. The parador of Monforte sits atop the highest point of a small provincial town. It occupies two adjoining buildings, a monastery and a bishop's palace, both seventeenth century neoclassical structures. The prevailing atmosphere accords with the monastic origins of the place, bare stone blocks in the public rooms make for a feeling of austerity, almost crossing the line into the severe. For those seeking a lighter touch, there's an outdoor pool. The nearby cathedral city of Ourense is well worth a visit.

The parador of Verin, a newbuild in the style of a Galician country mansion, is located on a hilltop, facing an ancient castle which formerly guarded the frontier with Portugal. The rooms are comfortable, the views pleasant, there's an outdoor pool. For those afflicted with arthritis the town offers a spa whose waters promise relief. There is another, quite unexpected plus. A ways below the parador there is what at first glance appears to be a huge junkyard but is in effect an antique store with some of the best pieces of genuine old (sixteenth and seventeenth century) Spanish pottery I've seen anywhere interspersed among the dross. Another advantage of the parador is the price. In the off season you can get a double for sixty euros ($85) for the night.

The parador of Baiona, a newbuild, has a spectacular location atop a narrow peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic. The views of the long, indented shoreline are unsurpassable. There is a nice outdoor pool. Baiona is where the caravel Pinta made its landfall in 1493 to make the first report of the discovery of the new world. The parador's dining room serves a large assortment of fish and shellfish dishes purchased that day from the fishermen in the port. Baiona is a good place from which to visit Santiago if one doesn't want to incur the expense of a stay in the Reyes Catolicos.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Chateau du Bousquet Cotes de Bourg 2006

The Cotes de Bourg are in the northern part of the Bordeaux region, across the estuary from the better known Medoc. The wines from there have a reputation of having more of an up front fruit flavor than the more austere Medocs, but that's not the case with this red. If you allow it to breathe for at least an hour it delivers a nicely subdued element of plum and blackberry, with soft tannins and a hint of pepper at the finish. A very nice wine, but I suspect that it has reached its peak, so drink it now. A good buy at $10.99.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Montinore Esttate Pinot Gris 2009

My CDC felt that this Oregon white, although quite pleasant, lacked the crispness that characterizes this grape. This is true, but I quite liked the fullness of the wine, in which ripe pear and a touch of apple predominate. A nice buy at $8.99. Incidentally, as a general proposition, I notice that the PSLB now intersperses its offerings with a few real bargains, which change from month to month. It's just a question of identifying them, as their ad campaigns in general feature their overpriced items.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Maculan Pino & Toi 2010

This young North Italian white from the foothills of the Alps is 60% Tocai, 25% Pinot Blanco and 15% Pinot Grigio. The Tokay grape in Hungary is used to make a famously sweet dessert wine, but there's not even a trace of sweetness here. The prevailing taste element is citrus so much so that it just barely stops short of the actually sour. $8.99.

Alto Las Tacas Malbec 2009

We found this Argentine red from Mendoza to be quite pleasant. It features a well integrated mix of red cherry and plum; instead of the more usual chocolate/caramel element that distinguishes many Argentinian Malbecs there' a peppery note at the finish. $9.49.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Maso Canali Pinot Grigio 2009

The product of a small vineyard in Italy's Lake District, this white is pale in color and more fruity than the Pinot Grigios from the Veneto tend to be. I detected nectarine and citrus chiefly. My CDC liked it, I found it a little disappointing, even at the sale price of $11.99.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A-Mano Pinot Grigio 2010

This very young, very light Italian has more than a touch of minerality, is just below the line of effervescence, has rather subdued white fruit flavors and considerable acidity. Definitely not a sipping wine, it did well with our curry though. $6,99,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

La Vendimia 2009

This Rioja red is half tempranillo, half grenache, with the latter varietal dominant in its taste, which is a mix of red cherry and plum and an element of mellow spice, in the direction of roasted almonds. It has good legs. A very pleasant wine and attractively priced at $8.99.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chateau la Rose du Pin Entre Deux Mers 2005

We found this white Bordeaux to be rather disappointing, it's clearly past its prime. Instead of the crisp, well defined fruitiness, with a predominance of melon, that is characteristic of a good Entre Deux Mers there's only a predominant element of citrus, not entirely pleasing. Even at $8.49, no great bargain.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Santa Rita Carmenere Reserva 2008

The Carmenere grape, once a staple of Bordeaux reds, was completely wiped out there by the mid nineteenth century philoxera infestation. Fortunately some vines had been transplanted to Chile where they flourished. This Rapel Valley wine has a pleasing mix of red fruit flavors tempered by oak and soft tannins, with a hint of caramel in the finish. While Chile is best known for producing huge quantities of plonk, this definitely does not fall into that category and, at the closeout price of $6.99, is a very good buy indeed.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Santa Rita Carmenera Reserva 2008

The Carmenere grape was one of the Bordeaux staples until the philoxera epidemic of the mid nineteenth century wiped it out. Fortunately it had been translated to Chile which, for unknown reasons, escaped the infestation. It has since become a signature red of that country. This wine is robust, with notes of plum and red berries and soft tannins at the finish, with a pleasing element of spice. At the closeout price of $6.99 it's a most attractive bargain.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Red Bicyclette Pinot Noir 2009

The gigantic Gallo combine is the exclusive U.S. importer of this label. Last year several of its French suppliers in Provence were convicted of adulterating the Pinot Noir with cheaper grapes and slapped with suspended jail terms and substantial fines. Gallo admitted this to be the case with the stipulation that they had been unaware of the practice but did not recall the affected vintages ('06 through '08). None of this did much for the reputation of Provence wines in this country, but I suppose that Gallo is too big to care. I did not try these vintages, having read that they were pretty awful at any price. The '09 is presumably pure Pinot Noir, so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did. It's a very pleasant country red, with nicely blended red fruit flavors and soft tannins at the finnish. And, presumably because either Gallo or the PSLB, or both, are trying to exercize dammage control it's being offered at a very attractive $6.99.

Les Fosses d'Hareng Vouvray 2008

This is a Chenin Blanc from the region of Tours in the Loire Valley where the grape originated. Loire Chenin Blancs are distributed over a wide spectrum, some exhibiting the austere acidity with which one is familiar over here, others tasting almost like a Chardonnay. This one clearly falls into the second category, having very ripe peach and melon flavors. It's slightly sweet, but with the sweetness of ripe fruit, not sugar. $11.99.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Principato Pinot Grigio Rose 2010

This rose from the Veneto in Italy doesn't exhibit the dryness, nor the flintiness of a good white Pinot Grigio, but it doesn't cross the line into sweetness either. It has some nice white fruit flavors with just a hint of citrus in the aftertaste. It makes a good choice for entertaining large numbers at a summertime picnic at the closeout price of $6.99 for the 1.5 liter bottle, which won't break the bank.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hess Select Sauvignon Blanc 2009

We differed on this Northern California white. My C.D.C. ratherliked it, I felt that the grapefruit plus other citrus notes were so pronounced that they overpowered the wine. If that doesn't put you off, then, at the closeout price of 6.99, this is a bargain.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Castillo de Molina Pinot Noir Reserva 2009

The Pinot Noir Grape is what goes into the great majority of Burgundian reds, so it's no great wonder that this Chilean wine puts one in mind of a village Burgundy. It tastes of red berries and oak, with fairly strong tannins in the finish. A pretty good buy at $6.99.

Guardian Peak Frontier 2007

We both very much liked this South African red, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Shiraz/Merlot blend. It has nicely balanced plum, raspberry and red cherry flavors, with a pleasing caramel and oak finish. Well priced at $7.99.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rosemount Traminer/Riesling 2010

I generally stay away from Rieslings, they're far too sweet for us, but this New South Wales white is 71% Traminer so I decided to give it a shot. The nose is definitely flowery, the mouth is ripe fruit with just enough spice to keep it from being over the line. If you don't insist on a very dry white you'll probably like this at the sale price of $6.99.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Luna di Luna Chardonnay/Pinot Grigio 2009

This Italian white from the Veneto does not constitute a happy marriage. It has neither the rich, fruity character of a Chardonnay, nor the flintiness of a Pinot Grigio. In the end, it tastes of very little at all, with, to add insult to injury, an acerbic finish. Even at the sale price of $6.99, no bargain.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

B&G Chardonnay Reserve 2009

If you're looking for an emminently affordable summer picnic wine and you're into Chardonnays, this may be your thing. Barton & Guestier is a quintessential mass producer, so don't look for subtlety here, what you get is a smooth, peach dominated flavor, perhaps a bit on the sweet side. The close out price of $9.99 for the 1.5 liter bottle certainly is attractive.

Two Oceans Shiraz 2010

Forewarned by an on line review, I chilled this South African red and then let it breathe for an hour. This eliminated the unpleasant aftertaste the review alluded to and gave us a wine that, while entirely unremarkable, is a not unpleasant blend of strawberry and slightly smoky flavors.It will do as a vin ordinaire, and the clearance price of $4.99 is certainly no obstacle.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Santa Florentina Merlot 2008

For someone like me who isn't a fan of Merlots, this red from Argentina is an agreeable surprise. Allowed to breathe for an hour or so, it delivers a reasonably pleasant blend of dark fruit flavors, with some acidity, but none of the unpleasant aftertaste I associate with the variety. Moreover, it's a fantastic bargain at the closeout price of $3.99. These days that will barely get you a bottle of vile plonk. Get it!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Luna di Luna Merlot/Cabernet 2009

There's something about me that objects to pouring wine from brightly colored, enameled bottles, so that I would have chosen to decant this, but my CDC said she thought the bottle was cute, so there you are. Anyway, this Italian blend from the Veneto, 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet, took me by surprise. Allowed to breathe for an hour, it produced an eminently civilized mixture of dark fruit flavors, with not even a hint of the archtypical unpleasant Merlot aftertaste. At the closeout price of $5.99 it's a steal.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sogrape Callabriga Alentejo 2008

A red blend from Portugal's largest producer, aged in oak for a year and in the bottle for another six months, this is a very nice wine indeed. It exhibits well rounded dark fruit flavors, soft tannins and caramel underpinning. Very favorably priced at $8.99.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sella e Mosca Terre Rare Riserva 2005

The Carignano grape is generally consigned to a back up role as an addition to better known varietals, but on Italy's island of Sardinia, where long, hot summers are the rule, accompanied by sea winds, it's a player in its own right. What we have here is a wine that is aged in oak for a year, then for an additional year in the bottle. The flavors are dark berry with plum and medium tannins, the finish is mildly acidic. A very good value at the sale price of $7.99.

Paisaje de Tupungato 2007

This red from Argentina's Mendoza District is the flagship wine of the well known Finca Flichman. A blend of 70 % Malbec, 24% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Merlot, it's aged in oak for a full year and has a high alcohol content of 14.5%, which is reflected in the nose. It exhibits a nice balance of dark fruit flavors with a good deal of oak and soft tannins, with a finish that is partly spice and partly typical Malbec chocolate. According to the winery this wine is made only in very good years. A superior quaff and, moreover, at an attractive sale price of $11.99.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sasso Pinot Grigio 2009

My CDC's characterization of this white from the Veneto was "bubbly water with alcohol". While I don't think it's quite that bad, I have to admit that it lacks both the forward fruitiness and the bite of a good Pinot Grigio. Moreover, our friends at the P.L.C.B. assure us that the price of $8.99 is a real bargain, it's being quoted at ten dollars more elsewhere. Where? In Hong Kong? In Geneva? In this country it's available for two, and even three dollars less. How long until we vote them out once and for all?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Trapiche Oak cask Pinot Noir 2009

This red from one of Argentina's largest producers is one step above their entry level. However, unlike the similar Malbec previously reviewed here, it is not particularly successful, being too heavily oaked and leaving one with a somewhat bitter aftertaste. $8.99.

Mirassou Chardonnay 2009

It would appear that this is our week for CA wines. This central coast Chardonnay is all peach and apricot, stopping just short of being actually sweet. My CDC thought it was fine, I didn't much like it. It is, however, at $12.99, insanely overpriced, being available for five or six dollars less (!) almost anywhere. How long until we vote these people out?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Clos Lachance Zinfandel 2007

I decided the time had come to give CA reds another chance, and what wine better to do it with than something called Lachance? In the event, we differed on this one. My CDC rather liked it's pronounced licorice/annisse element. I thought that it was too assertive, masking the blackberry/cherry flavors that were trying to get through. $8.99.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Collepino Merlot/SanGiovese 2008

The giant Banfi combine produces mostly plonk, but also some wines that aspire to something more. This Super Tuscan, although slightly rough, does have a nice blend of red berries and cherry along with a caramel finish. At the closeout price of $5.99 it's certainly worth getting.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Mano Pinot Grigio 2010

This young white from the Veneto is relatively light with a dominant citrus element and very little in the way of finish. An acceptable summer quaff, but not much beyond that. $6.99.

Bela Sera Pinot Grigio 2010

Of the many Italian Pinot Grigios available here in magnum bottles for summer outdoor consumption we have decided we like this one best. It has a pleasing, rather full bodied peach element with a citrusy finish. If you can get it with the instant rebate coupon it's a steal at $8.99. Get it!

Chateau Tour de Rodet Graves 2009

This red Bordeaux is 65% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and largely exhibits the traits of the former. It is earthy, with blackberry and cassis elements and a definite note of caramel. Interesting, as one finds mostly whit Graves in this country, but rather pricey at $11.99.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

La Tour Travers 2009

This red Bordeaux bears the designation "Grand Vin de Bordeaux" which is a step up from an ordinary table wine. It's light, austere, with rich tannin dominating. A very nice wine. $9.99.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Graham Beck The Game Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010

The vineyard producing this South African white is next door to a game reserve and apparently the baboons cross over to steal the grapes once they're ripe, thus informing the owners where to begin harvesting. Be that as it may, this is a nicely rounded wine, with notes of tropical fruit, a distinctly lemony finish and just the merest hint of aeration. $9.99.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Lurton El Albar Verdejo 2009

Typically, the Spanish Verdejo grape is grown in maritime climates and thus harvested late, so that it may attain a full ripeness. In very cold years this goes wrong, but mostly not. This product of the French Lurton combine is grown in Toro, in the province of Leon. It's fairly dark in color, has white fruit elements and a citrusy finish. $7.99.

Ninety Plus Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Here we have an interesting concept. This company buys up surplus production from independent New Zealand vintners who can't or, for reasons of exclusivety, don't wish to sell it themselves, and resells it, at a lower price, under its own label. Thus you don't know what you're getting but chances are it's going to be good (90+ refers to the ratings of the originals). This wine, Lot2, is a typical Marlborough Valley, with ripe melon and citrus flavors and a hint of mown grass. $9.99, which seems a fair price.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Domaine Saint Martin Muscadet Sevre et Maine 2009

This Loire white is made by a process called "sur lie", which means that the wine is left to age for some months on the detritus of the fermentation, which gives it a rounded, buttery element. The predominant elements are pear, green apple and citrus, with the merest hint of smokines. Nicely priced at $8.99.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Montinore Pinot gris Estate 2009

Unlike my experience with CA wines, I have rarely been disappointed in an OR white, and this one is certainly no exception. While light, it's far from thin, has a predominantly pear, smooth, buttery quality, and a refreshing finish. An excellent buy at $8.99.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Colonia Las Liebres 2009

A pleasing, robust country wine, this red from Argentina's Mendoza Valley is made from the originally Italian Bonarda grape. It's somewhat drier than the Malbecs but by no means unpleasantly so. It will complement any red meat dinner very well. Unfortunately, at $8.99, it sells for three-and-a-half dollars more than what you can get it for elsewhere. (Are you still with us, guv?)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Protocolo 2009

This Castillian white from Cuenca, best known for its "cacas colgadas", houses that appear to be glued to the sides of a cliff, is a simple country wine, perfectly adequate for washing down a light summer meal, but without any outstanding characteristics. $7,99, available for two dollars less in neighboring states, which in that price range is a huge difference.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

CDR 2008

This regional white blend from the south of the Cotes du Rhone is a simplistic wine with no very pronounced qualities. Moreover it has a somewhat odd aftertaste. $8.49, which is too much.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Joseph Douhin Laforet 2009

This Burgundian Chardonnay is, for a non-California product, surprisingly fruity, bordering on the sweet. Only for those who like that sort of thing. $9.99.

Colorado Caper

Last week's foray into CO turned up a few nice wines as well as further proof of PA's idiosyncratic pricing policies.
1) Marcus James Malbec 2010: this pleasing Argentine red from the Mendoza Valley has the usual chocolate elements with a touch of licorice at the finish. On sale in CO at $5.99, in PA the 1.5 liter bottle goes fo $8.99. Grab it!
2) Olivares Altos de los Hoyos 2009: a truly distinguished wine, this red from Spain's Estremadura has potent but restrained dark berry flavors, soft tannins and a peppery finish. $9.99, a whopping six dollars more in PA.
3) Georges Duboeuf Macon Villages 2009: a Chardonnay from the Burgundian giant, this is on the thin side, rather bland, but certainly drinkable. $7.99, four dollars more in PA. (We're waiting to hear from you, Governor).
4) Le Dome du Grand Bois Cotes du Rhone 2010: this youngish red is beginning to come into its own, with pleasant deep plum elements and an even finish. $7.99, not available in PA.
5) Los Cowboys Malbec 2010: in spite of its insinuating name, this Argentine red from Mendoza is a superior wine, with beautifully restrained indications of all the best qualities of that country's Malbecs. A pleasure to drink. On sale at $9.99, not available in PA.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fairview Sauvignon Blanc 2010

This South African white is a nice blend of apple and citrus flavors, very smooth and well defined. $8.99, which is standard, except for San Francisco, where it's on offer for half of that. Hey, you guys out there, buy it up quick!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Zuccardi Bonarda 2009

This Argentine red, made from a relatively seldom used grape, has cherry and plum flavors, overshadowed by a very prominent oaky acidity. Not one of our favorite Mendozas. $8.99.

McLaren Vale Tatachilla Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

I found this South Australian red to be wholly overlaid with a rather unpleasant, acrid and all but fizzy element that masked whatever fruity factors might have been in evidence originally. I suppose it's simply a case of the wine being over the hill.$7.99, which may be a bargain, but not for that vintage.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Conte Brandolini Vistorta Merlot 2006

I'm not a great fan of Merlot, the cheaper ones tend to an unpleasant bitterness. This Italian one from Friuli however is a good one. Medium bodied, it has a well integrated character, with plum and black cherry, soft tannins and an only slightly acerbic finish. Curiously, the PA price of $11.99 is well below of what you'll find anywhere else.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Zuccardi Chardonnay/Viognier 2009

My CDC rejected this Argentine white with two words: Too sweet. Curiously, given the fact that I'm no admirer of sweet wines not intended to be dessert wines, I disagreed. To be sure, the mix of apple and honeydew is a bit bland, and the finish certainly lacks any bite, but I still found it drinkable. $8.99.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Patch Block Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This French white from Languedoc, a product of the gigantic Duboef combine, is not up to their Chardonnay. It's somewhat assertive, with pronounced citrus elements, and moreover, it tastes as if it's on the point of turning. $6.99.

Placido Pinot Grigio 2010

Here's another possibility for your summer parties. This white from the Veneto comes from the Banfi combine. It tastes of apple and citrus and stops well short of being bitter as many low end Pinot Grigios are. Nothing out of the ordinary, but the sale price of $10.99 for the magnum is attractive.

Anciano Tempranillo 2004

I reviewed the '03 and was only midly impressed. This vintage is considerably better. It has a deep, rich mix of dark berry flavors with a nice touch of caramel. And the price has gone down, so that at $7.99 it constitutes a good buy.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pirineos Mesache Rosado 2010

For me this Spanish rose from the Aragonese foothills of the Pyrennees merely confirms A. J. Liebling's dictum: The only drinkable rose is a Tavel. My C.D.C. rather liked it but I fond the overpowering mix of cherry and peach simply too sweet. Maybe as a desert wine. $8.99, a dollar less in N.J.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gran Familia 2008

This Rioja red has a nice, round presence, with lots of red berries up front. Very smooth in the finish, uncomplicated, essentially a good country wine. $8.99, a dollar less in N.Y,

Friday, June 3, 2011

Red Guitar 2008

The label immitates Miro, the wine is a would be claret. This red from Navarre, a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha, is a nice blend of plum, dark berries and soft tannins, the finish is exceptionally smooth. $9.99, available for two dollars less in N.Y.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Marques de Borba Alentejo 2008

This Portuguese white has a dark straw color, there's a strong nutty element to it, and elements of tropical fruit. It's certainly distinctive and the price, $8.98, is attractive, but it's not getting any younger, so drink it now.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fronteira Douro 2007

This Portuguese red is an extremely smooth blend of cherry, plum and soft tannins, with an only slightly acidic finish. A really pleasant wine and an excellent buy at $8.99. Get it and drink it now.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Broquel Chardonnay 2007

My CDC, like the majority of her sex, is a big fan of Chardonnay, and she loved this one from Argentina. I liked it too. It has a big presence, an unexpected but intriguing mix of apple and apricot, with a fairly crisp finish. A good buy at $8.99.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sogrape Callabriga Douro 2008

This Portuguese red, grown in a region more famous for its Port, has a strong presence of red fruit, mostly cherry and raspberry, balanced by hints of chocolate and black pepper. It's a country wine, but given time to breathe, a good one, and the price of $8.99 makes it very attractive.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

*Baron Ladron de Guevara Crianza 2007

The last of the wines that I got from the on line sale, this red may also well be the best. A really zesty Rioja(90% Tempranillo), aged for two years in oak, it opens up with a veritable explosion of cherry and blueberry flavors, tempered by soft tannins and a licorice/black pepper edge. An excellent wine, but you must let it breathe properly for it to show off its best. Well worth the on line price of $11.99.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Villa Pilla Borgoforte 2007

With the proviso that you let it breathe for at least an hour, this Tuscan red is a very nice wine. Grown in the heart of the Chianti region, it can't be sold under that appelation because, as a blend of San Giovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, it falls outside of the defined parameters. So it's what these days is called a Super Tuscan. There are elements of plum and dark berries, with some oak and licorice at the finish. Nicely priced at $8.99.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Copa del Rey Chardonnay 2008

Here we have a Chilean white that is what these days is called "fruit forward". There are strong elements of pear, pineapple and tropical fruit and not much in the way of oaking or citrus to balance these. My CDC liked it, I found it a bit on the lush side. Still, the price is right at $6.99.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Banfi Centine 2009

This Tuscan white from one of Italy's largest wineries is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (40%), Chardonnay (30%) and Pinot Grigio (30%). The result is a fruity, ever so slightly sweet wine, with notes of pear and apricot. It's pleasant enough but lacks sufficient acidity to give the finish a convincing contrast. $7.99.

Los Boldos Momentos Carmenere 2010

This young Chilean red, made with that Country's signature grape, is medium bodied, has a relatively high alcohol content, and tastes of plum and black pepper. Not bad but nothing special. $6.99.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Saint Martin Muscadet 2009

This white from Sevre et Maine in the Loire exhibits in full the tart, astringent and mineral qualities for which Muscadets from this region are known. It's aged for three months su lie ( the dead skins left over from thr pressing) which make it a pungent, zesty quaff. $8.99.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Nederburg Manor House Shiraz 2008

This South African red is distinguished by dark cherry and plum flavors, rather heavily accented by cinnamon at the finish. It's very dry for a Shiraz. $13.89.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tohu Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Here we have a distinct improvement ovet the 2007, previously reviewed here. In particular, the herbaceous note carries on to the finish, and the price, $9.99 is much more acceptable.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

*Chateau la Graula 2008

This claret from a minor chateau offers up some elements of red cherry, along with a fairly heavily oaked finish. My CDC rather liked it, to my taste there was a bit too much of an acrid finish. $7.99 on line.

Folonari Pinot Grigio 2009

With Memorial day just around the corner, you might consider this white from the Veneto as a thirst quencher for the assembled multitudes. Among the mass production Pinot Grigios it comes pretty close to the top, with a nice blend of pome and citrus elements. $9.99 for the magnum.

*Garcia Carrion Antano Reserva 2005

This red Rioja is 80% Tempranillo, with admixtures of three other varieties. In spite of its age it's still a very nice wine, very even, with elements of cherry, chocolate, and a slightly peppery finish. A real buy at the internet price of $6.99.

Monday, May 16, 2011

*Grange des Dames 2009

Grown on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, the mountain that Cezanne painted over and over again, this Provencal white blend is light, very drinkable, but without any noteworthy characteristics. $7.99 on line.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Casa de Campo Malbec 2010

I reviewed this Argentine red on one of my Colorado trips. I still like it, it's a nice, uncomplicated country red, and now priced very attractively at $7.99 (although you can also pay two dollars more for it, such are the mysteries of the PLCB).

*Muralhas de Moncao 2009

This Portuguese vinho verde, the product of a huge commune, is a nice blend of white fruit flavors, mostly apricot and peach, with a touch of pineapple, a slight effervescence, and a citrus finish. It should, as the name for the variety suggests, be drunk young, so drink up. Very civilly priced at $7.99 on line.

*Murailhas de Moncao 2009

This Portuguese vinho verde, produced by a huge commune, has a nice combination of white fruit flavors, mostly apricot and peach, with a touch of pineapple, a hint of carbonation, and a dry, citrus finish. These wines are meant to be drunk young, hence the name, so drink it now. A nice quaff at the on line price of $7.99.

Friday, May 13, 2011

*Mencos 2008

Like most red Riojas, this wine is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes. It has a nice mix of black cherry, rapberry and oak,with a peppery finish. A very good bottle and a real buy on line at $7.99.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Clifford Bay Pinot Noir 2009

Another New Zealand Pinot Noir: This one is even lighter bodied than the Oyster Bay and doesn't quite have the depth. A nice enough everyday wine, but nothing out of the ordinary. $7.99.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

*Abbaye de Saint Hilaire Cuvee Domeni White 2009

This is the mid range white from this winery and we liked it the least of their three wines we have tried. The adjective that came to my CDC's mind was "nondescript", and that just about says it. The wine, without being in any way offensive, is neither dry nor sweet, neither light nor full bodied, neither fruity nor acidic, it's just there. $7.99 on line.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

*Rocca delle Macie Vernaccia 2009

Although by far the greater production of wine in Chianti is reds, the region does grow some whites, and this one, from San Gimignano, near Siena, is one of the good ones. It's fruity and fairly light, and is given the necessary balance which keeps it from being sweet by a substratum of almonds in the finish. $8.99 on line.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

*Faustino VII Blanco 2009

This Rioja white, from one of the region's largest wineries, has subdued citrus elements with a not entirely pleasant tangy aftertaste. Eminently forgetable, $7.99 on line.

Castillo de Molina Sauvignon Blanc 2010

This highly aromatic young Chilean white is a reserve bottling from the huge San Pedro combine. It is fresh, citrus elements predominate up front, with an element of pear just discernible. Nicely priced at $6.99.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

*Abbaye Saint Hilaire Cuvee du Prieur 2006

This is the top of the line red from this Provence winery and is a very nice wine indeed, subtle and differentiated. It's relatively light, rather on the dry side, with notes of rasberry and dark cherry, and an underlying presence of vanilla. It goes on our list of favorites. A steal at the on line price of $8.99.

Monday, May 2, 2011

*Adega de Pegoes 2008

This Portuguese red from a region close to Lisbon is a decent, restrained table wine, rather light, with elements of cherry and blackberry. $7.99 on line.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

*Castello di Meleto Rosso Toscano 2007

This is an uncomplicated but very pleasant Tuscan red with elements of cherry, blackberry, and prominent but not unpleasant tannins. The internet only price of $7.99 is very favorable.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

*Abbaye de Saint Hilaire Domeni 2008

Grown in a vineyard in the Vars in Provence, once belonging to a romanesque monastery, this red, a blend of Shiraz, Granache and Cabernet Sauvignon, is the middle grade of three. It's a a nicely balanced mix of dark berry and chocolate, with a slight tinge of licorice at the finish. On line only, a good buy at $7.99.

On Line Sale.

I should have mentioned in my previous post on this subject that you will be charged a shipping and handling fee if you buy on line from the PLCB. In my case, I bought 18 bottles and was charged roughly eighty cents a bottle, which I thought was not excessive. Of course, if you were charged that much when you order only two or three, that would be way out of line. I simply don't know if there's a standard shipping fee, or if it's calculated per item.

*Lobster Reef Pinot Noir 2009

New Zeeland's Marlborough Valley is more famous for its whites but they also grow some very nice reds there. This one, aged in oak for six months, is a little on the light side for a Pinot Noir, but extremely pleasant to drink, with dark cherry, blackberry and plum elements and very soft tannins at the finish. I very much doubt that you will find it for a better price than the $7.99 at which it is on offer on line.

Monday, April 25, 2011

*Acinum Chianti 2009

This young Tuscan red is all San Giovese. It's relatively light bodied for a Chianti, with elements of cherry and blackberry, some spice, but none of the acrid finish that characterizes many cheaper Chiantis. A nice wine, and attractively priced at $6.99. (Internet only).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Blackstone Sonoma Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

This California red comes on strong with black cherry, caramel and oak,with more than a hint of spiciness. It has an even finish and is altogether quite pleasant. $10.99.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

PLCB On Line Sale

I have ordered a case and a half of various wines featured in the PLCB on line sale. I shall report on them seriatim as we drink them, marking them with a *, so that you may know they're available only on line.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Nimbus Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2008

This single vineyard Chilean white in many ways reminds one of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, though it is not quite as herbal and has stronger fruity notes, mostly citrus and white peach. Drink it now. $8.99.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tapena Garnacha 2008

Having massively disliked both the Verdejo and the Tempranilllo from this Castillian producer, I hesitated before getting this red, but I do like a grenache so I took a chance. Indeed, it's a nice enough wine, with good cherry and dark berry flavors quite prominent, but not to the point at which it could be called a fruit bomb, a touch of caramel and relatively soft tannins. Unfortunately the price, $9.99, is out of line as it's available for three dollars less in both N.J. and N.Y.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Jacob's Creek Chardonnay 2009

Owned by a gigantic French combine, this Australian label puts out vast quantities of undistinguished but drinkable wines. This Chardonnay is the expected fruit bomb, with strong elements of peach and cantaloupe and a citrus finish. Your first impression is that it's sweet, but it's not, it's just that there is so much fruit up front. Nice for those of you who like that. On sale at $5.99.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hope Chardonnay 2009

In this country surveys have shown that women prefer Chardonnay to any other varietal by a two to one margin. Thus it is only fitting that this Australian wine maker donates half of his profits to breast cancer research. The wine itself is pretty true to type, fairly heavily oaked with apple and citrus elements. Nicely priced at $6.99 and you're contributing to a really good cause.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pighin Pinot Grigio 2009

This white from Friuli is full bodied for a Pinot Grigio and has a pleasing combinatiom of peach and citrus elements, along with a hint of hazelnut that makes for a nice finish. Attractively priced at $9.99.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Coronas Tempranillo 2006

This Catalan red from Spain's largest producer, Torres, is mostly Tempranillo, with 15% Cabernet Sauvignon--the name Tempranillo is a diminutive of the Spanish temprano, early, and refers to a native early ripening grape. The wine itself is a nicely judged blend of dark fruit flavors and relatively soft tannins, and drinks very smoothly. $9.99.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Montes Classic Series Merlot 2009

This Chilean red, meant to be drunk young, is the entry level wine from a serious grower, as distinguished from the mass providers of plonk, of whom there are several in that country. It' a nicely rounded mix of dark berry and spicy pepper flavors, with only a hint, if that, of the unpleasant aftertaste of many of the cheaper Merlots. $7.99, a decent value.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bistro Chardonnay 2006

As a rule I'm suspicious of wines with cute labels and cute names, this one has both, it tends to be all about marketing, and, worse, this is a product of the huge combine Barton & Guestier. But here we have an exception. This white from Languedoc is nothing like the heavily oaked fruit bombs from California, it's almost austere, with discrete mineral elements and subdued peach flavors. It's near the end of its useful life, which accounts for its throwaway price of $5.99, but still very nice . Get it if you can!

Georges Duboeuf Cotes du Rhone 2009

Duboeuf started out with a tiny vineyard in the Macon area in the '50's, was discovered and patronized by the legendary Alex Lichine, and built that connection into a gigantic enterprise that dominates wine production in the Beaujolais and later expanded massively into the Rhone. What we have here is a not particularly distinguished, mass produced red, with cherry and raspberry elements and black pepper at the finish, which some will like but which strikes me as somewhat acerbic. However, if you don't mind this the closeout price of $6.99 makes it a good value.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Quieto 3 Malbec 2009

Yet another Malbec from Argentina, this one is a blend of grapes from three different vineyards in Mendoza,of varying altitudes. It tastes of black berries, plum and ripe cherries, and is pungently spicy - we detected cinnamon. On the assertive side, but if you don't object to that, a nice wine. $8.99.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Vina Esmeralda 2009

This Catalan white from the famous Torres winery is a blend of 85% Muscatel and 15% Gewurztraminer. I would have liked the proportions more in favor of the latter, as the result is assertively floral in the nose, with heavy apple and ripe apricot flavors that verge on the sweet. $9.99.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cheap is dead.

Having vented my spleen time and again about the PLCB price structure, in all honesty I must now report that, on a brief trip to IL last week, I found that most of the wines that I looked at in my favorite wine store had risen to levels identical to what they're selling for here. Now IL is a special case, all imports come through a Chicago consortium, affectionately known as The Mafia, and those nice folks might just have decided to put on the squeeze. But, from what I'm able to find out on line, I suspect that the price hikes are a national phenomenon. My simple brain has difficulty in comprehending why prices are shooting upward while the economy is tanking (I believe this is called stagflation) but perhaps some of you have the key to this puzzle.

Marquis Philips Holly's Blend 2008

I wouldn't recommend this white Australian blend (we are not told of what) as a sipping wine :it's a bit on the sweet side. However it was fine with our highly spiced paprika chicken. If you like German Rieslings, say, you might want to get this at the closeout price of $5.99.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo/Cabernet

This non vintage Spanish red is distinctly better than the other two blends from the same vineyard which I reviewed here previously. It has a nicely rounded, mostly black cherry and raspberry taste and an even finish. A nice buy at $6.99.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Graffigna Centenario Reserve Malbec 2008

This Argentine Malbec comes on big with black berry and cherry flavors and, instead of the expected chocolate, something that is vaguely caramel. My dinner companions rather liked it, but for my taste it was over the top. $9.99.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Vega de la Reina Sauvignon Blanc 2007

This Spanish white from Valladolid in Rueda is an unoaked, full bodied wine, with a lot of peach and the characteristic citrus element rather subdued. A nice wine, but drink it now when it's at its best. Nicely priced at $7.99.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Kanonkop Kadette 2008

This is the entry level red of a famous South African winery. A blend, with pinotage the predominant variety, it is a hearty, earthy wine, that tastes of cherry and blacberry with a spicy element in the finish. A very nice buy at $9.99.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Markham Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Again, we disagreed on this Napa Valley wine. CDC liked it quite a lot finding it balanced and pleasant on the tongue. I thought that perhaps the relatively strong melon and peach elements did not mesh too well with the strong citrus aftertaste. At any rate, it's certainly worth trying at the closeout price of $7.99.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hefrich Now&Zen 2008

This Alsatian white, called Edelzwicker locally, is a blend of five different varietals. It tastes of pineapple and tropical fruits and is somewhat assertive, so I'd be careful what to pair it with, but with a strongly flavored dish it's quite pleasant. If you can find some at the closeout price of $5.99, by all means get it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Castillo de Molina Sauvignon Blanc 2010

This young Chilean white announces itself with a pungent aroma of pear that is confirmed on the palate, along with some citrusy notes. In some ways it reminds one of a Marlborough Valley. By all means get it at the closeout price of $6.99.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Arrogant Frog Pinot Noir 2008

While this red from Languedoc calls attention to itself with a cute name (I suppose the self mockery must be intentional) what it is is a simple but fairly pleasant country wine. Ther are red berry flavors and some vanilla, along with soft tannins. $7.99.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Luna di Luna San Giovese/Merlot 2009

This Italian red from Umbria is reasonably full bodied, with dark berry flavors and a lot of tannin. We differed on this one; my CDC liked it, I was put off by the somewhat bitter finish, although, in all fairness, I just don't much like Merlots. If you can find it at the closeout price of $6.99 you might want to try a bottle.

Principato Pinot Grigio Blush 2008

For those of you who are put off by the flinty, citrus dominated characteristics of a good Pinot Grigio, this rose from the Veneto is just the thing. It' almost, if not quite, sweet, with peach the most prominent element. It might make a good summer picnic quaff. $11.99 for the 1.5 liter bottle.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hope Chardonnay 2008

This Australian Chardonnay is anything but your typical California fruit bomb. There is not even a hint of sweetness, the dominant element is citrus with underpinnings of melon, and there's a slight prickliness. A very nice all around wine, particularly suited to a hot summer day. Very nicely priced at $6.99 and a part of the profit goes to breast cancer research.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fuchs Gruner Veltliner 2008

Grown near the Hungarian fontier, in the Burgenland, Austria's easternmost province, this white is a nice wine, with predominantly apple and citrus flavors and an even finish. Unfortunately, once again, at $10.99, it's massively overpriced. You can get it for four dollars less in N.J.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Misterio Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Another entry level wine from Argentina's Finca Flichman, a famous winery now owned by a Portuguese combine. Allowed at least an hour to breathe, this is a hearty red with good plum and dark berry flavors, pronounced tannins and a somewhat acerbic finish, not quite bitter but almost. $6.99.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Martinborough Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Neither of us much liked this New Zealand white. It's completely atypical for a Sauvignon Blanc, going in the direction of a Chardonnay, with overtones of passion fruit and none of the newly mown grass zing one expects from the region. At $12.99, badly ovedrpriced.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Placido Chianti 2008

This is an uncomplicated, somewhat fruity Italian, with dark cherry predominating and some acidity at the finish. Run of the mill but drinkable. $6.99.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jean-Luc Colombo Les Abeilles 2008

This white Cotes du Rhone is reserved, almost to the point of being austere. It's only after a period of warming in the glass that any fruit flavors manifest themselves, and the finish is curious, I was reminded of artichoke. $10.99, way overpriced, available for three dollars less in N.Y.

Codorniu Brut

As we had a reason to celebrate, we opened this Spanish non vintage cava last night. It rewarded us with a generous mousse and a nice, almost buttery apple flavor. Not exactly a brut, but eminently drinkable. $9.99, about average for the region.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Paso a Paso Tempranillo 2009

A nice Spanish red from La Mancha, which is aged in oak for six months. After due airing, it opens up nicely with dark cherry flavors along with a slightly honeyed character. A simple but good country wine which, at $9.99, is however badly overpriced. Can be bought for as much as three dollars less elsewhere.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ombu Chardonnay 2009

This unoaked, heavily fruited Chardonnay from Argentina's Mendoza Valley resembles a California wine and accordingly will please those who like that sort of thing. It's certainly not bad, but too simplistic for our taste. $8.99.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Coopers Creek Sauvignon Blanc 2009

This New Zealand white is full bodied, with elements of nectarine and melon and the traditional new mown grass flavor. It has a nice, steady finish and stood up well to our curried Tilapia. $9.99, available for two dollars less in N.J.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cougar Crest Viognier 2007

This is a rich, full bodied, unoaked white from Washington State. It's well fruited, with elements of pear and pineapple discernible, and a honeyed finish which stops well short of coming across as sweet. A nice, direct wine and, for unfathomable reasons, at $9.99, priced well below the national average.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Vina Antigua Malbec/Bonarda 2008

I admit to having never met a red from Argentina I've not liked, and so it is with this one. There's a nice blend of dark berries with some earthiness and a hint of chocolate before the acidic finish. It will stand up to most anything. However, as is so often the case here, much overpriced at $8.99.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Falesco Est!Est!Est! 2009

In the year 1111 a German bishop, Johann Fugger, was journeying to Rome. Being a great wine lover he ordered his cupbearer, one Martin, to scout out the route a day ahead of the party and to write "Est"! (short for "Here there's good wine" on the doors of whatever inns had such on offer. One day (it would be nice to think that was on 11/11/1111) Martin came to Montefiascone, north of Rome, and so delighted in the local wine that he wrote the code word in triplicate. To my mind what this story tells us is that the whites of that day must not have amounted to much. What we have here is a quite pleasant but not particularly distinguished quaff with apple and citrus flavors and some spice at the finish. $9.99, which, mirabile dictu, is the lowest price I found for it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sokol Blosser Pinot Gris 2008

We were treated to a bottle of this organic Oregon white by friends last night at a B.Y.O.B. It's a lovely, well rounded, but at the same time complex, wine that tastes of ripe apple with a touch of apricot and a slightly spicy, lemony finish. Unfortunately, the PA price of $22.95 is not only not within the announced parameters of this blog, but is also completely out of line, it goes for three dollars less most places

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cortijo 2009

This red Rioja,80% Tempranillo and 20% Granacha, is light bodied with elements of cherry and blackberry and mineral finish. It's a simple, easy drinking wine but, at $10.99, grossly overpriced.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Quinta da Garrida 2007

This Portuguese red, aged in oak for one year, is half Tinta Roriz and half Touriga Nacional, the latter being a variety that is usually made into port. The result is a wine which, while not actually sweet, is certainly full bodied, with blackberry predominating, and a mineral finish. Be sure to let it breathe for at least an hour. $9.99.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wakefield Promised Land Chardonnay 2008

This unoaked Australian is mainly fruity, with pineapple and banana elements. For my taste it comes too close to being sweet for a dinner wine but, for those who like that sort of thing, it would make a great dessert wine. Nicely priced at $7.99.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Trapiche Oak Case Malbec 2008

This red from a mass production Argentine grower is aged in oak for twelve months.
It's smoother, more balanced than the entry level wine which is just a tad on the harsh side and offers a nice blend of plum and dark cherry with just a hint of the expected chocolate. $9.99. Will it astonish anyone to hear that it can be bought for two dollars less in N.J.?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hobnob Chardonnay 2007

What we have here is a mass produced French country wine from Roussilon masquerading in appearance as something out of California. It's essentially an unoaked Chardonnay tending toward the slightly sweet, with light spicy elements. $8.99.

Rioja Vega 2009

The entry level wine of an important producer, this Spanish red has a very even character, with red berry flavors, moderate tannins and a slightly acidic finish. A decent quaff for $8,49.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Alain Jaume & Fils Grand Veneur Reserve

This red Cotes du Rhone (70% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Cinsault) has a nice blend of raspberry, blackberry and sof tannins. A pleasant wine but, at $12.95, much overpriced, available for two or three dollars less elsewhere. Are you tuned in, GovernorCorbett?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Barons de Rothschild Reserve Speciale 2009

Chateau Lafite's nod in the direction of the financially challenged, this red Bordeaux is 70% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon. As a result it needs to breathe for a good hour at least, else it will have an unpleasantly bitter aftertaste. If you open it in good time, it will reward you with a nicely judged, somewhat austere combination of cherry and soft tannins. $13.99, three dollars less in N.J.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pio Chianti 2007

These days Chiantis tend not to be pure San Giovese but to have small admixtures of other grapes to give them more body.The label on this one doesn't reveal this, but I suspect that Merlot was used here. The result is a still relatively light wine, with predominantly cherry elements and a slightly bitter aftertaste characteristic of that variety. Not by any means a great Chianti but, with the instant rebate coupon it comes to $6.95, a good value.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Palha Canas 2009

This Portuguese white is straw colored, has apricot and green apple notes and a rather salty finish which I found odd and my CDC rejected as "musty". $8.99.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Les Tuileries 2008

This white Bordeaux from Entre Deux Mers is 80% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Semillon. The addition of the latter makes it less dry and flinty than the typical S.B., but it certainly is not sweet. The nose is floral, on the palate peach and apple dominate. $11.99.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Martin Codax Albarino 2009

This Spanish white from the Rias Baixas in Galicia, not far from the great pilgrimage site of Santiago de Compostela, is rather full bodied, with pleasing elements of apple and peach and a touch of citrus. Like many wines from that region it's just on the verge of being effervescent. $11.99, which is about what it will cost you elsewhere.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Domainede l' Auriere Muscadet 2009

This Loire white from Sevre et Maine is fairly typical of the variety. It's light (just 11.5% alcohol), has an intense floral bouquet and tastes of peach and white melon, along with some citrus at the finish. A nice wine, but, at $12.95, grossly overpriced. You can get it for three dollars less in N.J.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sangre de Toro white 2009

This fresh, uncomplicated Catalan white from the huge Torres combine tastes of apple and pineapple, with a slightly spicy finish and is just on the verge of being a petillant -- you sense rather than see the bubbles. Unfortunately, it's seriously overpriced at $10.99.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

McWilliams Shiraz 2009

If you're into Australian fruit bombs this red might well be your thing. There are fairly intense plum and chery notes, without much by way of tannins, a very smooth- drinking wine. $8.99, a dollar and a half less in N.Y. & N.J.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ringing in 2011

For our New Year's Eve bubly we chose a Spanish Cava, a Codorniu Reserva Raventos Brut. It turned out a very good choice indeed, a nicely balanced wine, moderately carbonated, with tones of ripe peach, and very decently priced at $9.99.

To go with our lamb chops for dinner we drank our last bottle of the '02 Val di Suga Brunello di Montalcino. A noble wine, beautifully balanced and not yet showing its age. Ave atque vale, I seriously doubt we shall see your like again.

As for my New Year's resolution, I intend to agitate as much as I can to encourage the governor and legislature to sell off the P.L.C.B.