Index of Wines Reviewed   2 comments

Here is a listing of wines reviewed on this blog organized in reverse chronological order. 

It’s a fun way to see how I feel about wines over time.  No, I am not infallibly consistent.  In fact, I’m fallible to a fault.  That’s one element of the “fun” part. 

Actually, it is an interesting chronicle of what I have tasted (OK, drunk– I mean consumed).  All right, maybe it’s just interesting to me.  Oh forget it– here is the list.  If you like something, I suggest you go back to the original posting as there may be a recommended food pairing. 

Alvaro Palacios Camins del Priorat 2009  ($18).  This is a starter wine from Priorat from a very respected producer.    Tasty dark fruit that finished with a slightly acidic edge.  Although simply fine, I did not find this effort to be as strong as the 2007.  It was however a nice opening act to the Martinet Bru.  Rated **1/2  February 25, 2012

Mas Martinet Viticultors – Martinet Bru Priorat 2007 ($30).  An excellent dose of concentration, dark fruit and earth in a beautiful expression of the marriage between Garnacha and Syrah found here.  All of that preceded by a worthy nose filled with floral and spice aromas.  And this from a vintage that is generally considered to be not considered to be the best (e.g. Very Good vs. Excellent).  In a good vintage this would probably be priced much higher.  This is a neat effort from winemaker Sara Perez that’s worth seeking out.  Rated ***1/2  February 25, 2012

Chateau Fuisse Julienas Domaine de la Conseillere 2009 ($15).  From producer J.J. Vincent, this has juicy red fruit bordering on tartness.  Emergent sage and lavender notes give us a nicely rounded experience.  But we really don’t need to think too hard about this one.  Just pop the cork and make-believe you’re sitting in a Parisian cafe with your best girl or one of your bro-chachos.  An easy drinking Beaujolais, serve slightly chilled.  Rated **  February 22, 2012

Darioush Napa Valley Cabernet Franc 2008 ($58).  Sourced from Darioush estate vineyards in Napa Valley, Oak Knoll and Mount Veeder, aromas of herbs and earth filled our glasses.  Blended with 5% merlot to complement the 95% cab franc, it exhibits concentration of flavor and appropriate complexity, to make the case to justify its price tag.  If you could imagine throwing back a chocolate-raspberry parfait with some black tea and a touch of black pepper, that would begin to describe the experience.  With a long finish accompanied by firm tannins, this was even better than I recalled.  Not exactly a “best buy”, this was still good enough that our evening was very enjoyable indeed.  Rated ***  February 20, 2012

Beaulieu Comte de Tastes 2009 ($14).  Sensual aromas rose from my glass.  All soft, dark fruit and chocolate on the palate, this opened with an almost fennel-cherry pie character on the nose.  With a healthy concentration, this producer delivers another nicely balanced Bordeaux at a reasonable price again.  Given the softness of the tannins, this is drinkable now, yes, but so much better for the bottles that I can marshal the patience to wait 3-5+ years.  A Bordeaux Superieur comprised of 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc.  Rated **1/2  February 14, 2012

Dacapo Majoli Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato 2010.  The first time I have had this varietal, Ruchè (alternately known as Rouchet).  Although a somewhat obscure varietal, it stood out from the pack of wines we tasted that day (including many a Barolo) with its uniquely aromatic nose.  But though it lacks the intensity of nebbiolo, it is simply an accessible wine with a freshness that brings a smile to my face and is made for drinking now.   **1/2  February 12, 2012

Dacapo Barbera D’Asti Sanbastian 2009.  A more classically styled Barbera with good fruit and acidic structure.  This is the bread and butter wine that will keep this winery running.  **1/2  February 12, 2012

Dacapo Cantacucco 2009.  This is a wine that Paolo Dania referred to as a “joke”.  By this, I think he meant that the blend of 80% Pinot noir and 20% Nebbiolo is such an odd pairing that only a wine geek would love it.  OK, the joke is on me– I loved this for pushing the envelope.  I loved it better for what it brought.  I don’t believe that the Pinot by itself  would carry the day.  But the Nebbiolo gave this wine that extra oomph and tannic structure. This is a great food wine– I want a bottle of this for my next fettuccine in truffle cream sauce.  ***  February 12, 2012

Dacapo Vigna Dacapo Barbera d’Asti DOC Superiore-Nizza 2009.  Fuller bodied and more fruit forward than the Sanbastian.  It did not seem to have the same level of acidity as its sister Barbera.  And though bigger, it was no less delicious.  **1/2  February 12, 2012

Dacapo TRE 2006.  A blend of Merlot-Barbera-Nebbiolo, all of these came through.  This is attributable to the fact that the wines are separately vinified fermented and barrel aged which make sense given that each varietal has a distinct maturity point.   After 18 months the three varietals are blended before bottling and then held for another year in bottle before being released on the market.  Dark fruit, softness, acidity and tannin.  A lovely finish.  I did not get to see the bottle fully develop as Paolo had just opened it.  But what I tasted I enjoyed immensely.  ***  February 12, 2012

Camaraderie Washington State Cabernet Franc 2006 ($16) 12.5%.  A whiff of Kiwi shoe polish and dark earth.  Shoe polish?  Yes, kind of like when you get kicked in the teeth– “”Hey, what is that sme– OOOOOF!!”  I could stop right now and that would be enough.  Next comes an explosion of dark berries and savory herbs finishing candy like with a little green bell pepper on the finish.  On retasting the open bottle on the second day, the wine took on another more polished dimension, the green bell pepper, now replaced with a little black pepper and the whole package perfectly balanced with nuanced tannins and acidity that underscored the fruit on the lengthy finish.  At almost 6 years of age, this is drinking just fine right now, but it will still be good 2-3 years from now if you can stand to let it sit unopened.  It’s a knock out.  Rated ***  February 10, 2012

Barwick Estates Pemberton Pinot Noir 2010 ($12).  Forget what you may think of Australian wines.  This in no Yellow Tail.  Who are these guys?  A translucent liquid with hints of all spice and florals on the nose.  Alluringly pretty red fruit which served as an entrée to a sort of earthiness.  Aye, mate, that sounds familiar– a quick perusal of the back label tells me that yes, this is Pinot, but there is 7% Shiraz.  I’m not a varietal purist– I’m not proud.  Balanced between the fruit, soft tannins and juicy acidity.  I have paid much more for Pinots this good.  I love the way this wine makes my tongue feel.  Grab this when you see it.  But beware, when I went to buy more of this, the price had gone up beyond the NGW $15 threshold.  Still worth it.  Rated ***  February 8, 2012

Calina Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($12).  A lead pencil brambly quality on the nose.  But the dark blueberry-like fruit lacked the brightness that I normally hope for– it seemed a bit overwhelmed by the oak treatment.  The wine finishes with some drying tannins and seems to lack balance as a result. There are better values out there.  Rated *1/2   February 1, 2012

Sharpe Hill Ballet of Angels White (N.V.) ($10).  According to the winery’s web site, this is a “secret blend of 10 grape varieties”.  Secret?  Are you kidding me?  This is Connecticut wine, folks– let us know what is in the bottle.  Your secret is safe with us.  Anyway, notes of apricot and peach with a viscous mouth feel, pleasant acidity reminiscent of key lime pie on the finish.  Not overly complex, but still a lovely wine to have with Asian cuisine in the middle of this or any week.  Rated **  February 1, 2012

Château Haut-Beauséjour Saint-Estephe 2009.  In 1992, Jean-Claude Rouzaud, oenologist and president of Champagne Louis Roederer, acquired and combined two Cru Bourgeois vineyards in the heart of the Medoc’s prestigious Saint-Estèphe appellation: Chateau Picard and Château Beauséjour. Together, these properties make up what is now called “Château Haut-Beauséjour.”  Yes, this is a bit young but what a nice wine to start off our evening.  Dried fruit followed by chocolate on the finish.  This will get better with time.  Rated ***  January 29, 2012

Chateau Lanessan Haut Medoc 2001– The Lanessan vineyard has belonged to a succession of eight generations of the Bouteiller family since the 18th century. A young woman, Paz Espejo, took over the management of Château Lanessan from Hubert Bouteiller in August 2009.  This change is a result of the Bouteiller family’s stated ambition to inject new life into this fine property.  But this is a wine made before the shake up.  Just beginning to show its age with the beginnings of a tinge of garnet on the edge.  Still delicious with an undeniable intensity.  Undeniably fragrant French bouquet.  Sweet spices measured up well to the our dinner.  Rated ***  January 29, 2012

Beaulieu Comtes de Tastes 2002– The estate is owned by Guillaume de Tastes.  It comprises 25 acres of vineyards in the Entre-de-Mer which is the large region between the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers. The terroir is a combination of limestone and clay with south-facing sloping exposure.  60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Cabernet Franc.   Earthy, savory and lovely fruit.  Rated **1/2  January 29, 2012

Château Clément Saint Jean Medoc 2009 ($15) 13.5%.   Tasted twice, I was prepared to rate this at **.  Very tight on the entry.  But as it opened up and let me in, my excitement grew.  Aromas of cinnamon and cassis began to emerge along with redolent hints of fertile earth.  The red and dark fruit began to gyrate.  And the finish, with a dark chocolate component, seemed to linger just a but longer.  Not a fruit bomb, this is an old school approach.  A blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, that casts its spell before you can spell Delicious.  With chewy tannins, this is t-t-t-t-tasty.  I might be a little bit generous here, but… it’s better than **1/2 and in the final analysis, this stuff is Fergalicious.  Rated ***  January 25, 2012 

Cellar Can Blau Montsant ($12) 2009.  I am a fan of the 2007 vintage of this wine.  But this is simply not as aromatic as the 2007 with its earthy nose rife with some woodsy almost truffle-like characteristics and black plum.  2009 is out of character with that earlier vintage: red raspberry and cranberry fruit is tart, dominated by the acidity that hits your palate at the first instant.  This is one hell of an Acid Trip.  And I was disappointed.  I put a cork in it and went to bed.  But as it sat overnight, and I went off to work and on my return home the next evening, the magic of time in an open bottle opened this baby right up.  The acid was still there, but something else started to kick up its heels.  Something herbal.  Something a little more alluring.  Something delicious.  Something forest like mixed with eucalyptus.  So if you’re not the patient type, like me, decant– please decant this.  But have it with food and you will definitely be Tripping pleasantly.  Rated **1/2  January 18, 2012

Kokomo Pinot Noir Peter’s Vineyard Gopher Hill 2009.  Think elegant evening gown, a little bit of that Funky Music, playing in the background.  Red fruit and acidity for structure.  Erik Miller is proud of not being a one trick pony in his winemaking– not getting complacent chasing after Parker Points.  But are we are seeing development of a house style here?  Lip smacking deliciousness left me looking for more.  Rated ***  January 12, 2012

Gustafson Dry Creek Mountain Vineyard Estate Zinfandel 2007.  This blew out some notes of black licorice and earth.  Dark fruit– not your typical Zin.  Despite this, the wine is not over-extracted.  It had a richness that simply lingered on the palate.  A great finish.  Rated ***1/2  January 12, 2012

Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl Riesling 2010 ($10).  I’m not a gimmicky wine-label kind of guy.  But after this wine, I may have to reconsider.  The faint aroma of lychee filled my glass.  Or is that the label speaking to me?  Perhaps.  But with a little bit of ripe apple-like roundness on the mid-palate balanced by soft star-fruit like acidity and a minerally edge on the finish, this is an easy wine to like.  A great party wine that folks will remember for the label and for what’s behind the label.  Yeah, it kicked my glass!  Rated **1/2  Janury 11, 2012

Chateau Puy Arnaud Maureze, Cotes de Castillon 2005.   100% Merlot goodness from Bordeaux.  Old world restraint coupled with good fruit from an excellent vintage.  Aromas of herbs and dark fruit and a long finish.  What came between the aromas and the finish was even better.  Rated *** 1/2  January 6, 2012

Vina Mayor Secreto Ribera del Duero Reserva 2003.  100% tempranillo.  In stark contrast to the Puy Arnaud, this is a big wine done in a new world style full of lashings of dried fruit coupled with oak and moderate tannins and a lasting finish.  Aged 18 months in 225L French oak barrels and aging in bottle for 18 months minimum.  Rated ***   January 6, 2012

Santa Ema Merlot 2008 ($9).  A touch of toasty oak and earth on the nose serves as the calling card for this new world merlot.  Yet, it’s not all about fruit.  We get black olive, vanilla notes, acidity provides structure.  Did someone say rack of lamb?  Maybe I’m just hearing voices… Rated **1/2  January 4, 2012

Domaine des Entrefaux Juveniles Crozes-Hermitage 2008 ($12) 12.5%.  This 100% syrah was specially produced for the Juveniles Wine Bar in Paris.  One of my suppliers got their hands on some cases of this from what they refer to as “a small, ambitious importer”.  A hint of saffron and herbs mixed with a cedar forest like quality on the nose.  Alternating notes of sun-dried tomato, black pepper and tart fruit.  The palate pushes toward an acidic finish.  Although there are some interesting flavors here, the lack of balance is disappointing.  Now, some folks reading this might actually like this wine.  And while this is not my favorite style, there are still reasons to savor this experience.  So don’t take my word for it– I say, take this girl for a spin with the top down and then tell me why I am wrong.  Still if I had to choose this or a big overripe Shiraz– I’m driving this one home.  She is not like every other girl on the block…Rated * 1/2  December 28, 2011

Wilson Family Winery Diane’s Reserve Zinfandel 2006 ($48) 16%.   I was given an allocation of this a couple of years back when I still a member of the Wilson wine club.  I remember thinking when I first had it that it was just a bit too strong and the fruit a bit too ripe and concentrated.  So, the two remaining bottles of the stuff got cellared.  Time could only help it, I thought.  An abundance of berries with a touch at times of peppery spice.  The perfume was not particularly impressive, though it was pleasant enough.  The finish had sufficient structure to support the front end fruit.  I think that with a little further development in the bottle, this may get better.  The issue I continue to take with this wine is that the heavy concentration of fruit and the high alcohol level lead to a loss of elegance.  It is still a very good wine– but I wonder what could have been if there had been just a little more restraint…  Rated ***  December 24, 2011

Beau Pere Cellars Merlot 2008 ($12).  Back to the Napa Valley today we have a nice little wine with a fair amount of complexity for its $12 price tag– and a merlot to boot.  A perfume of sweet spice, earth and butterscotch filled our glasses.  Drinking beautifully now, dark fruit, soft tannins and velvet-like on the palate.  Rated **1/2  December 22, 2011

L’Ameillaud Vin de Pays Vaucluse 2010 ($8).  This blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah and 20% Carignan is another winner from Vaucluse .  Slightly funky wet stone notes dominate the nose to start.  But these soon yield to savory herbal notes hinting at sage and thyme and spices.  On the palate, these vibrant herbal elements are carried forward to complement the blackberry and blueberry notes that lead to an almost stone-like minerally finish.  If you want to taste what terroir is about this is a very approachable example showing off the impact on flavor of the clay, limestone and alluvial soils found in the vineyard.  Nicely balanced by the tannins and acid, this is a crazy good value at this price.  Rated **1/2  December 13, 2011

Bussola Ca’dellaito Ripasso 2007 ($18).  The smell of mushroom and earth enraptured from the first sniff.  And then the fruit, glorious friggin’ fruit, dances an insistent tongue tango wrapping its sensuous acidic leg around your torso before you realize that you don’t quite know how to tango.  So you fake it– the payback on the back-end is so worth it.  This a very nicely balanced cuvee of Corvina, Molinara, Rondinella with a nice finish and is a real steal at this price.  Rated ***1/2  December 10, 2011

Argiano Non Confunditur 2009 ($17).  Less insistent on the nose than the Bussola.  Less fruity and more savory.  Yet it pushes forward with a momentum all its own.  This Tuscan Beauty takes you to that dark back corner of the club where magical and sometimes strange things can happen.  Emergent dark fruit from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Syrah stays with you.  Tannins round this out.  Having tasted prior vintages of the Argiano Non Confunditur, I can say that I enjoyed this as much as the 2007– maybe a little bit more.  I am also pleased to see that they have backed away from the screw tops used for the 2008 vintage.  Rated ***  December 10, 2011

Les Traverses de Fontanes Vin de Pays d’Oc Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($12) 13.5%.  Although not particularly aromatic, this little biodynamically farmed beverage says, “Drink me in the afternoon before you get really serious about your wine.  Still there are undeniable notes of underbrush and herbs d’ Provence.  But they do not overwhelm.   Is less more?  The Limestone and clay soils that yield this fruit do come through.  Light to medium bodied on the palate with red cherry notes, it’s simple, yet pleasantly simple in a girl next door kind of way– freckles and all.  Medium tannins and a clean, yet short to medium finish.  Rated **  December 9, 2011

Estezargues Côtes Du Rhône Villages Signargues La Granacha 2009 ($10) 14.5%.  You could do much worse than this little gem.  Savory herbal notes layered on top of luscious red fruit.  A bit tight at the start but then revealing its true character as it opened to reveal a touch more fruit.  Supple tannins and supportive acidity make this one you keep coming back to and makes this an easy bottle to drain.  As befits a 100% Grenache wine, this is terrific with Manchego.  A great value to boot.  Rated **1/2  November 30, 2011

Santa Rita Medalla Real Single Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($12).  This is what I look for in a Cab Sauvignon.  Pretty cherry flavors layered over some herbal elements and the smell of autumnal forest and sweet spices.  In my own bizarre way, this reminded me of the way that Ricola cough drops approach the whole fruit-herb thing.  Only this is not a freaking Ricola.  From the start the aromas announced that this was going to be good in the same way that Renaissance trumpeters announced the arrival of the crown prince to the ball: ”I may not be king— yet.  So I am free to go about the village wenching and drinking.”  Drinking and wenching indeed.  Cherries and Herb.  (I wish I could say Peaches and Herb– but that would be so wrong.)  Years ago, I had my first Santa Rita wine.  I remember loving that little discovery.  This one brought me back to that moment.  With a touch of graphite on the fine finish, it would be silly not to buy more of this.  I don’t know whether this will age as the tannins are quite fine.  But, who cares– drink this now.  Rated **1/2  November 23, 2011

Hito C21 Ribera del Duero 2008 14% ($13.50).   My wine merchant turned me onto this little gem of a wine.  Initially, a whiff of mint and cedar box mixed with earth.  This reminded of a tart cherry pie with a savory crust and a touch of spiciness on the finish.  Restraint up front and softly acidic and gently tannic on the back end, this is a balanced and classically styled wine that is big on terroir and distinctively appealing.  Rated **1/2  November 16, 2011

Michel Glassier Cercius Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2009 ($14).   Full of earth and dark spicy fruit with a pinch of dusky sour cherry, this wine kept my tongue clicking with its savory edges.  The name Cercius, a Latin word, refers to the North-Northwest winds that sweep over the vines in the village of Visan on the northern end of Vaucluse.  With moderate tongue-coating tannins, and aged for 6 months in concrete prior to bottling, this blend of 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah softly whispers, “The cold days ahead are made for us.”  Rated **1/2  November 9, 2011

RdV Vineyards Rendezvous 2008 ($55) 14.5% alc.  In drinking this wine, I am of two minds.  On the one hand, the wine showed complexity, evolution and longevity during the course of the evening as we sipped this over a 4 hour period.  On the other hand, there were elements in the flavor profile that are not amongst my favorites.  In the end, although showing considerable complexity, it is about taste, and we must recognize it for what it is–a good wine, verging on the very good.  Initially, although the nose was not particularly big, I was impressed by rose petals, but those notes quickly dissipated and migrated to the darker side turning at points meat-like and smokey punctuated by some sweet spices.  In the mouth, it exhibited a deep concentration generous with palate teasers that were, at turns, spicy, savory and bramble-like.  Moving to the long finish filled with espresso notes, I found some grippy tannins that were stronger than the acidity.  In some respects, this reminded me of the Ruffino Modus (a Super Tuscan of which I am not a great fan), but this has much greater finesse.  Would another 5+ years in the bottle help this.  My gut says yes.  Make no mistake, this is a food wine through and through.  Is it good value?  Better values abound in this price range.  Still there is enough to say about this wine, that I would like to see what these guys do in future vintages.  Rated ** 1/2  November 6, 2011

Les Chemins de Bassac Isa Rouge (Vin de Pays des Côtes de Thongue) 2007 ($13).   I get excited when I drink a wine like this humble Vin de Pays.  Probably because my expectations are set low based on prior sub par experiences with such wines.  And yet this surprised from the first sniff of earth and minerals blended with sweet spices.  It is made with a panoply of organically grown varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mourvédre, Pinot Noir, Syrah.  Seriously– Pinot Noir AND Syrah?  Can you do that?  These guys did.  But what came next was the best surprise of all– juicy red plums and cherry and pomegranate notes– not sweet, but not unripe either.  Finishing with some bitter chocolate notes, the tannins and acidity made the fruit dance on my tongue in a joyful ceilidh of flavor– a little bit rustic, but a whole lot of fun.   And while I sipped at this one all by my lonesome tonight, it’s the kind of wine that makes you long  for a kiss from that special someone.  This  little baby from Côtes de Thongue is worth searching out.  Rated **1/2  November 3, 2011

Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills (H3) Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 ($11).   Very shallow nose with a slight grapey dustiness.  Simple ripe cherry flavors.  On the finish there are tannins to lend structure.  On a retasting the next day, I found that some herbal flavors started to emerge.  But from my perspective, the wine is flawed because of its lack of acidity.  Ms. R says, “This is bringing nothing to the table.  I can see teenagers drinking this and getting off on it.”  I hate to admit it– I have created a Frankenstein.  But in the end, I agree with her assessment if not her sentiments.  Turn my nose up at it if offered to me?  No.  Buy it again?  No.  Rated * 1/2  October 28, 2011

Olivier LeFlaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Sétilles 2009 ($15).   On the nose we get some clean florals leading to flavors of apricot and quince.  Mineral sensations finish this off with a pleasing citrus-like acidity.  In summary, a nice quaffing and tasty white that is great to serve with a simple appetizer.   Rated **  October 19, 2011

Maculan Brentino 2008 ($11.50).   Today’s wine is a far more affordable Bordeaux style blend from Veneto, in Northern Italy.  55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, this little wine surprised with its finesse.  Fruit, yes, but not so much to overwhelm.  But let’s start at the beginning.  Medium bodied and with a hint of sweet spice on the nose that the belies bright cherry and pomegranate flavors.  It seemed more Cab than Merlot.  The tannins, while soft, still lent support to the overall experience of the wine, though it was the acid that brought the right amount of balance.  The finish, though medium in length, was still satisfying.  Rated ** 1/2  October 12, 2011

Gretzky Estates Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 ($9).  This has a candy-like quality on the nose with a hint of something chocolate as well.  This is new world, fruit forward, ripe red cherry with pomegranate bits, quite drinkable, easy and a little fleshy.  A sweet spiciness on the finish with a little peppery sensation that catches in the throat every few sips.  Acidity adds backbone but the tannins were too soft to make this truly interesting.  Forget about aging this– it is built for drinking right at this moment.  This is better than merely good, but is definitely not in the very good category.  Good value for the dollar.  Rated ** 1/2  October 5, 2011

Buehler Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 ($15).  Normally this is available for $20 or more.  But my wine guys offered me a good deal on this at just a few pennies below $15.  How could I say no?  As I started to drink this, I felt compelled to sip and then gulp this beauty.  It was just drinkably good.  Then I stopped myself and thought, “What the hell is going on?”  Hints of cocoa on the nose.  A healthy respect, but not deference to the fruit.  Yes, black fruit– insistent black plum, black cherry and cassis.  The wine has an herbal quality that straddles between the fruit and the acidity and ever so tenuously chalky tannins.  I felt this wine even had a touch of wood mushroom mutating kaleidescope-like into maduro tobacco on the longish finish.  This is a wine that  I could sip all night long.  I did.  I will again.  If you can get this for $20– jump on it.  If you can get it for $15, buy a case and a half.  Just remember to ease up on the gulping and sip this beauty– if you can.  Rated ***  September 27, 2011

Celler El Masroig – Sycar Red Montsant 2004 ($13.50).   As I was perusing the racks at one of my local suppliers the other day, this one caught my attention.  Not because it had great reviews.  It had none, other than some generic tasting notes from the wine merchant’s staff.  But, Montsant is a favorite appellation of mine and at $13.50 from a 7-year-old vintage, it was hard to pass up.  According to Espavino, the 2004 vintage in Montsant is considered an excellent vintage– though I did not know that at the time.  This wine, like most wines from this part of the world is a blend, in this case, Syrah 50%/Carignan 50%.  Thanks to the syrah in the blend, this starts off with earthy notes leading to brooding black fruit blending with a hint of chocolate and a tempting ripeness and jamminess.  If that were all, the wine would be just OK.  But the carignan steps in to  deliver a punch of acidity and brightness that conspired with a peppery finish offset by sweet tannins.  This is a wine of its place at a good price.   Rated ** 1/2  September 21, 2011

Beronia Crianza 2007 ($13).   A little smokiness on the nose to start that transitioned to, and I mean this in a good way,  Smith Bros. cherry cough drops.  I know, this is supposed to be “medicine”, but we ate these things like candy back in the 4th grade and I simply love that smell.  This is another example of how personal wine is and why even after having tried a wine previously, I can still find a new taste sensation and a remembrance of my personal history in a wine bottle.  This vino hits all the pleasure centers on my tongue.  It has a pleasing viscosity.  On the palate, there are savory elements, leaving an almost tarragon like sensation mixed with blackberry in the back of the mouth.  Finishing with acidity and softly elegant tannins and a lingering desire for another sip.  You could spring for the $20+ Reserva from Beronia, and that would be great, but for $13 this is one you should not pass up.  Rated **1/2  September 15, 2011

Domaine LaFage Cote Est Blanc 2010 ($8).  From Languedoc-Roussillon, this one sports some attractive floral components finishing with brisk acidity.  Has a Sauvignon Blanc feel to it, though there is no SB in the blend Grenache Blanc, Chardonnay, Marsanne.  I can see this with a raw shellfish appetizer (oysters, clams, etc.) or perhaps a steamed lobster in these, the waning days of Summer.  Rated **  September 10, 2011
Michele Chiarlo “Le Orme” Barbera d’Asti 2008 ($12).  A touch of ferrous minerality on the nose leads to raspberry and blackberry sensations on the palate.  Balanced with the right amount of soft acidity.  Tannins to spare.  A lovely wine for the money.  Vintage in and out, this one keeps delivering great value.  I had this with a grilled duck l’Orange.  It delivered in a big way.  Rated ** 1/2  September 10, 2011 

Ruffino Modus 2007 ($37).  Modestly priced (by Super Tuscan standards) this blend of 50%Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Merlot, wine pours out in a dark robe.  Earthy and leathery notes as well as dark bitter chocolate and espresso mixed with unripe black plum/blueberry flavors intermingle on the palate.  While this wine had a long finish, I found its extraction heavy to distraction.  Whatever the vinification manipulations employed, it appears that the character and freshness of the Sangiovese fruit was sacrificed to the more brooding flavors absorbed from the small oak barriques used in the aging of this wine.  To quote Ms. R, “It’s good, but not for THAT price!”  Given her economical style of expression, I should just let her write these reviews.  Rated **  September 4, 2011

Rubrato Aglianico Feudi di San Gregorio 2007 ($9).  Right out of the gate the nose brings to mind candied cherries.  Ripe, yet restrained, fruit finishing with an herbal edge alternating with references to mint/lavender/eucalyptus.  Solid acidity and firm but yielding tannins leaving an almost tingling sensation on the tongue.  An aftertaste on the finish that evokes chocolate essence combined with soil.  This is a fine effort at this price point that would not be hurt by 2-3 more years in the bottle.  A great food wine that begs for a manly piece of meat.   As it opened up and extended itself, it just started to become more and more magical.  Am I really writing about a $9 bottle?   

The Wine Advocate’s Antonio Galloni gave this 87 points in August of 2009 complaining that “some of the Aglianico character is overpowered by the oak treatment”.  Interesting comment– I did not see this on the first two tastings, though it was a bit more prevalent on the third tasting.  So perhaps bottle variation is playing a role here.  Still, I don’t think that this is a fatal flaw.  In fact, it added a nuance to the wine that I found pleasing.  Nicely balanced and food friendly.  Find this and at this price and you should stock up.  Maybe all it needed was another year in the bottle.  Eventually, others will catch on and you don’t want to be caught short.  In fact, I flirted with a *** rating for this wine.  But it did not have the nose, complexity or finish to support that rating.  But a terrific value at this price point.  Rated ** 1/2 August 31, 2011

Laetitia Arroyo Grande Valley Estate Chardonnay 2009  ($15).   Initially, this screamed out NEW WORLD to me.  On the nose, soft and oaky, almost popcorn-buttery in style.  A mélange of tropical fruits dominated by mango and papaya and a barely perceptible hint of allspice on the almost viscous finish.  And it does have just enough acidity to keep it interesting.  If you like this style, you will enjoy this wine.  Although it is more attractive than the Santa Ema Chardonnay I have rate previously, it gets the same rating.  Rated **  August 24, 2011 

Sequel Cellars Syrah 2005.  From Washington state, this wine is 96% Syrah and 4% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for 16 months in mostly French oak and had 14.7% alcohol.   Almost black, this wine was– I was expecting to be blown away by an overly extracted wine.  Blown away, yes, but by its finesse as well as its power.  This Old World style wine was initially a little tight, but 10 minutes in the decanter changed that.  It alternated amongst scents and flavors of tea, herbs, dark fruit including blackberry and black cherry, underbrush, bacon and vanilla.  As it opened up, it reminded me of velvet robe sliding off a bare shoulder and onto the floor– all in slow motion– revealing unspoiled flesh… and perhaps a tramp stamp.  It finished with an enveloping sensuality balanced by soft tannins and acidity.  If it had a fault, and here I am being very picky, it is that I wished the finish were just a tad longer.   But this is a minor quibble.  Rated *** 1/2  August 23, 2011 Adelaida Glenrose Vineyard Reserve Syrah 2007.  From Paso Robles, CA, this one had simply gorgeous ripe fruit.  Right out of the bottle, this wine whispered, ”Drink me, I’m here just for you.”  Yes, I really want to believe that.  I’m here for you too.  Although sweeter than the Sequel, this wine had a enough acidity and tannin to balance the dark fruit core.  However, at 15.5% it lacked the finesse that I would have liked.  Yes, it carries a big punch, but without the agility and complexity of the Sequel.  Still, I’m here for you.  Although my buddies both preferred this to the Sequel, all I could see was poor Joe Frazier losing another one.  That sort of disagreement is part of the beauty of drinking good wine with great friends.  Great friends or no, this isn’t a democracy around here and so, I get to issue the final rating.  Rated ***  August 23, 2011
Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva 2007 ($11).  This is one of those bottles that convince us that you don’t need to part with a galleon (or even a BMW) filled with coin of the realm to get a truly interesting and tasty treat.  It was tasted over two nights and the second night even better.  Initially, on the nose I was surprised by a scent of nutmeg-like aromas intermingled aromas of wine aging room (oak barrels mixed with spilt wine).  Finishing with medium tannin and soft acidity, the stuffing in between was a pleasing combination of black plum and cherry baked in a more savory than sweet wrapper.  The producer’s website offers that the Cannonau is oak aged for two years in large Slavonian casks with several additional months in the bottle.  This is the first wine that I have had from Sardinia and it has a strong sense of place.  If you find this try it for the distinctiveness it offers.  A very food-friendly wine.  Rated ** 1/2  August 19, 2011
Schiavenza Dolcetto d’Alba 2009 ($15).  This is my first wine from this producer.  Full of dark fruit, this felt more new world in style.  Which is not a bad thing but for the fact that wines seeking out this ”international” style tend to lose their connection to the place of origin.  I think this has happened here.  Certainly, it did not lack structure– with medium tannins and acidity.  But for my own personal taste the biggest flaw with this wine was the fact that it seemed a bit over-extracted.  Kind of what happens when you leave a tea bag in hot water for too long.  Still, would I drink this again– the answer is yes– as it did complement the cuisine.  Would I prefer a different Dolcetto made in the more traditional style?  Oh yeah.  Rated **  August 18, 2011
Kokomo Peter’s Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008.  What else could we drink with this salmon dish?  Translucent red juice with gorgeous red fruits– raspberry, cranberry and a little something more.  Acidity to offset the sweetness of the teriyaki glaze on the sockeye.  All of it wrapping my tongue in a silky red robe.  Joy in a bottle.  Rated ***  August 13, 2011
Château de Reignac Bordeaux Superieur 2005.  Jump forward to the terrific 2005 vintage and here we have a typical blend of 75% merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Straight out of the bottle, the room filled with the perfume rising from this darkly purple elixir.  When that happens, that’s very exciting.  This little baby offered hints of smoke and pepper on the nose.  On the palate those notes were carried forward in a savoriness that was irresistible.  Initially grippy tannins loosened up as the bottle relaxed.  The finish was very long.  You want to see what terroir is about?  Buy this.  At $30 a bottle it does not come cheap, but with the price of high-end bordeaux busting through the stratosphere, just think of how many bottles of this you could buy instead of a single bottle of Petrus.  The wine benefits from input from superstar wine consultant Michel Rolland.  According to the back label, the grape clusters were hand harvested and sorted twice to remove any undesirable fruit.  That kind of care, simple yet expensive, has yielded a fine wine.  Parker and Suckling each gave this 90 points.  I think they are being niggardly with those ratings.  Rated ***  August 10, 2011
Kenneth Volk Vineyards Mourvedre Enz Vineyard 2007.  The Enz Vineyard is located in the Lime Kiln Valley AVA in San Benito County.  So, strictly speaking, this is not a Paso wine.  According to Wikipedia, the soil in the region is composed of foundations of limestone and dolomite with sandy, gravelly loam above.  As of 2008, the only vineyards in the Lime Kiln Valley AVA are owned by the Enz Family.  There are 40 acres of vineyards, including a 15 acre parcel of head-trained Mourvedre that was originally planted in 1922.  As for the wine itself: Hints of cedar and herbs on the nose.  Silky on the palate with a sour cherry component.  Distinctively feminine and distinctively terroir driven.  Why did I only buy one of these?  Why?  Rated **1/2  August 7, 2011
Domaine de Pajot Cotes de Gascogne Les Quatre Cépages 2010 ($8).  A winning blend of  four varieties of grapes: Colombard, Ugni-Blanc, Sauvignon, and Gros-Manseng.  Citrus and apricot notes mixed with wetted stone dominate the nose.  Mouth-watering citrus and half-ripened peach fills the mouth.  Refreshing, juicy, perfectly leveled by the right amount of acidity.  Pure happiness.  A great price.  Rated ** 1/2  August 4, 2011
Bodegas Gormaz Vina Gormaz Blanco 2009 ($7).   Verdejo is an interesting grape.  While it does not offer overwhelming complexity, it offers enough.  It also carries such a different flavor profile from the more everyday Sauvignon blanc/chardonnay offerings in the marketplace that it is worth seeking out.  Straight out of the bottle, from the Spanish region of Rueda northwest of Madrid), this blend of 70% Verdejo and 30% Viura (also know ans macabeo) put out an almost nut-like bouquet with hints of some sweet spice mixed with mineral and a touch of elastin.  Once it opened, it offered some tropical fruit notes including pineapple.  There were soft fruits on the palate and the wine seemed to have more body to it than one would typically expect from a white wine.  The wine was balanced by a touch of mouth-watering acidity on the clean finish.  This would be a great wine for a crowd– not expensive, easy to drink and different enough that people will ask you where to buy it.  Rated **  July 30, 2011
Domaine Sainte-Eugenie Le Clos 2009 ($9). From Languedoc, this blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignan and Grenache felt a little flabby to me since the acidity was just a tad too soft making it a not so great food wine.  Still, this does have some elements that recommend it: baked cherry pie and cedar notes on the nose which played out on the palate.  A short to medium finish with medium tannins.  It would have been so much better though with slightly higher acidity.  Still, I enjoyed this enough that I would have it again.  Rated **  July 20, 2011
Parés Baltà Ros de Pacs Penedès 2010 ($11).  This vino sported rich and robust strawberry and almost cherry-like flavors as it opened up.  This Spanish wine is constructed with typically French varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot & Syrah.  It was delicious, yes.  It had refreshing acidity, yes.  It had clean crisp flavors that I kept coming back to.  But it was barely a rosé to my eyes– darkly hued by comparison to traditional rosé standards, this Spanish rosé challenges traditional notions of what a rosé should be.  It is more robust than the traditional French style.  I see it less as a rosé and more as a very light red wine.  Does that really matter?  No.  Rated **1/2 July 13, 2011
Michel-Schlumberger La Flirt Rosé of Merlot 2010 ($20).   Ms. R and I matched the Parés Baltà against the more traditionally made rosé made by a favored Dry Creek Valley producer, Michel Schlumberger, which we had leftover from a couple of nights ago.  Watermelon and just ripened strawberry flavors dominate.  Sweetness balanced by acidity in a more classically French styled rosé.  Also Rated **1/2.  July 13, 2011
El Coto Blanco Rioja 2009 ($9).  Made from 100% viura grapes farmed in Rioja Alavesa, it wears a pale straw-colored robe.  On the nose, soft florals dominate offering whispers alternating between jasmine and citrus.  An almost salty-like minerality prevails giving the wine a refreshing quality.  Not a particularly terrific finish.  But very quaffable indeed.  Rated ** July 10, 2010
Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.  The wine was indeed closed, but only in the beginning.  Then it blossomed and gave us a pretty nice experience: By turns, notes of cassis and eucalyptus mixed with just a hint of vanilla on the nose.  Dark fruit and cherries on the palate.  The tannins were soft and sweet.  And a touch of acidity on the back-end polished it off.  It kept evolving down to the last drop.  I found it to be a pretty well-balanced wine– and my experience to be closer to Reviewer #2.  Rated ***  July 7, 2011
Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007.  By comparison to the Frank Family Cabernet, this one did seem closed off.  A good wine with solid fruit and more chewy tannins but lacking the complexity of the Frank.  Perhaps with another few years in the bottle this wine will overtake the Frank Family Napa Cab.  But not tonight.  Rated **1/2   July 7, 2011
Graffigna Centenario Reserve Malbec 2008 ($8).  A killer value in wine!  Initially hints of graphite on the nose.  Dark fruit on the palate.  Age-worthy tannins.  From the San Juan region of Argentina, which is north of Mendoza, I have been seeing some fine wines coming from here.  Rated **1/2  July 6, 2011
Venta Morales 2007 ($8).  From La Mancha, Spain, a 100% tempranillo.  A savory note on the nose which carried over to the palate where is mutated into ripe black plum flavors, finishing with initially drying tannins that softened as the wine opened up.   Having said that, the wine lacked any real complexity and it was not the most balanced wine I have ever had.  Still, in this price range, that’s OK, though better values abound.  Rated *1/2  June 30, 1011
Lone Madrone Barfendel 2007.  Ah, the unfortunately moniker– Barfendel– from Lone Madrone.  A blend of Zinfandel (58%), Petit Syrah (24%) and Barbera (18%).  I loved this wine when I first tasted it last December, I don’t love it any less now.  It had focused, sharply defined berry flavors, soft yet balanced acidity, an elegant nose and more.  With a name like that, it had better be good and it is.  Rated ***  June 28, 2011
Adelaida Syrah 2003.  I didn’t really think we could top the Barfendel.  I would be– wrong.  Sweet and savory.  Hints of wood and earth.  And with 8 years of age, perfectly tamed tannins.  Rated ***1/2  June 28, 2011
Santa Ema Reserve Chardonnay 2008 ($7).  With a $7 price tag, the expectations for this week’s wine are not particularly high.  On the other hand, this Chardonnay comes from Santa Ema which is a reliable Chilean producer of some very nice reds including well-regarded reserve Merlot and reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  I have had both of these reds and am a fan so naturally, I had to try the Chard.  When it comes to Chardonnay, I am not partial to the fat, buttery style of many a New World Chardonnay.  Rather, I prefer a leaner style that isn’t too acidic.  But I do want a little roundness on the palate.   So how does this chardonnay stack up? This is not a complex Chard.  Rather, it’s like a beach in a bottle, offering up aromas of pina collada with a waft of sunblock (in a good way) floating through the air.  On the palate, the texture was more viscous than expected.  Juicy papaya strutted with banana and some toasty oak which is polished off  with a soupςon of green olive and soft acidity on the finish.  Can you smell the ocean?  I can.  Next time I go to the playa, this one is coming with me.  Rated **  June 21, 2011
Bodegas Y Viñedos Del Jalon Claraval Seleccion Especial 2006 ($10).  Yeah, the name is a mouthful.  But, daaaamn, the wine is too.  Hailing from a wine region worth watching– Calatayud– this wine is made by blending Garnacha (50%), Tempranillo (20%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Syrah (10%).  The bush-vine Garnacha is an average 60 years old, planted on mountainside vineyards of slate and quartzite.  The wine seems initially shy: even decanted, the wine did not start to reveal itself until after the first hour.  Then it released cedar and sweet spice notes and it started to sing.  On the palate, again initially tight, but patience was rewarded and the hidden red and black fruits revealed themselves a little bit at a time.  Truthfully, it was difficult to stop drinking this wine.  So I didn’t.  Bad Sybarite, bad, bad Sybarite!  Rated **1/2 
Aia Vecchia Lagone 2007 ($14). This Tuscan blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc is a “go-to” wine for me when I’m looking for something that I know will be Italian food friendly.  Got some prosciutto-pasta-tomato-sauce-parmesan-pancetta-risotto-thing going on?  This is your vino.  Did someone say pizza?  Yeah that too.  My purist Italian friends (that’s you marclifestyle) might scoff at all these French varietals in an Italian wine.  But that scoffing would be undeserved.  And you may scoff when we consider that at $14, this is at the upper end of the price that guarantees me no guilt.  But it’s my party, so deal.  OK, so what’s in the bottle?  Medium to full-bodied, with a nose of underbrush, herbs and florals leading to a palate of black plums and finishing with soft tannins.  Ms. R and I were sad to see the bottom of the decanter.  Rated **1/2  June 9, 2011
Crosby California Merlot 2009 ($9).  On the nose this hinted at garden herbs.  For the money, this simple little wine shows some blackberry flavors in a velvet wrapper that echoed some of the flavors in the sauce that accompanied the duck breast tacos.  Not complex, not richly textured, and not an  ounce of guilt!  But a joy to drink. Rated **  June 1, 2011
Henry Fessy Chateau des Reyssiers Regnie 2009.  Good nose indicating floral almost lavender-like notes, but the palate did not follow through and the finish seemed a little out of balance.  Rated **  May 29, 2011
Paul Cinquin Domaine des Braves Regnie 2009.  More characteristic Beaujolais nose, delivers a nicely balanced package of fruit.  Rated **1/2  May 29, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Morgon Jean Descombes 2009.  Decent fruit with  minerally quality that established structure throughout.  Rated **  May 29, 2011
Chateau de Pizay Morgon 2009.  Aromas of cherries and kirsch, with a consistent palate that contains a minerally edge (though not as pronounced as the Georges Duboeuf Morgon Jean Descombes) and finishing with fine tannins.  This feels like it can age for a few more years in the bottle would be even better.  **1/2  May 29, 2011
Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Village 2009.  Not a Cru Beaujolais, but it snuck into the tasting.  Fruit-filled nose, palate did not really deliver, and finished off with acid and tannins that were a little intense.   Rated *1/2  May 29, 2011
Louis Jadot Moulin à Vent Château des Jacques 2009.  Inviting nose with floral components, red fruit balanced by acidity and tannin.  After tasting No. 5, this one really sang.  This was the first bottle emptied for the evening.  Rated ** 1/2  May 29, 2011
Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois Chiroubles 2009.  Very attractive all around and good structure on the finish.  Rated **1/2  May 29, 2011
Terres Dorees L’Ancien Beaujolais (Jean-Paul Brun) 2009.  Another non-Cru Beaujolais that snuck into the tasting.  The palate has an attractive dustiness to it that translates into a mouthful of red fruit (think raspberries).  Done in a lighter style, it does not have the same level of concentration as the Cru Beaujolais in the tasting, but it was quite food friendly Rated **  May 29, 2011
Henry Fessy Moulin à Vent 2009.  Fine nose with a palate that showed good concentration.  This is quite comparable to the  Louis Jadot Moulin à Vent Château des Jacques and is another bottle that was drunk quite quickly by last night’s participants.  Rated **1/2  May 29, 2011
Georges Duboeuf Brouilly 2009.  A fruity nose on this wine from the southernmost of the Cru Beaujolais.  It is a very approachable wine that was the softest of the wines tasted.  Soft blueberry like flavors, soft acidity lending a roundness to the wine, and soft tannins.  An enjoyable style.  Rated **1/2  May 29, 2011 
Henry Fessy Julienas 2009.  From the northernmost of the Cru Beaujolais at this tasting, this wine had a heavier body and darker appearance than many of the others save for the two wines from Moulin à Vent.  It gets going with a hint of earth on the nose, which if I didn’t know better, could be mistaken for syrah.  But of course, this is Gamay.  On the palate, starts off sweetly but then turns down an acidic alley and delivers a punch of dark fruit and tannins.  What is this– a bad movie from the 70′s?  No it is a good wine that can definitely can be aged for a couple more years without harming it one bit.  It’s a shame this one was opened so late in the evening, as none of us really appreciated it as well as I did in the sip and spit session this morning.  Ah, the joys of leftovers!  Rated **1/2  May 29, 2011
Viacava Malbec Reserve San Juan, Argentina 2009($8).  I honestly wanted to like this wine.  I poured, swirled, sniffed, sniffed some more, sipped.  But it wasn’t doing it for me.  In fact, it reminded me of the flavor profile that led me, not so long ago, to dislike Malbec.  I let it sit, and it got a little bit better.  But I still was not feeling it.   The nose really had nothing going on.  Also, I found the fruit to be a little unbalanced.  For $8, my expectations should not be so high, I know.  Rated *  May 27, 2011
Mas Donis Barrica Old Vines Celler de Capcanes Montsant, Spain 2007 ($13.50).  Now this was more like it.  I know, this isn’t a fair comparison with the 2009 Malbec.  And, so, I won’t compare.  For bargain hunters, the wines of Montsant are always worth checking out.  Why?  Because this area, located a short drive from Barcelona, borders on Priorat, which today produces some of the world’s greatest and most expensive wines.  Now the soil in Montsant isn’t exactly the same as Priorat, but the wines do have a unique concentration and at this price, should not be passed up.  Made with 85% grenache and 15% syrah and aged for 9 months in oak, this had the nose that I typically associate with wines from this part of Spain and especially those with a component of Syrah.  It’s a generous wine that I decided to decant as out of the bottle, it was a little tight.  As the wine relaxed in its oxygen bath, it started to release different aromas of earth mixed with dark fruit complemented by a slight herbaceous edge.  While this wine did not blow me away, I would drink this on any No-Guilt Wednesday!  Rated ** 1/2  May 27, 2011
Pietranera Rosso di Montalcino 2008.  This was a bit of a surprise.  With a pale color, my expectations for concentration were lowered.  You know who she is: the quiet young thing sitting at the end of the bar in the understated dress.  But this sweet thing was packing some heat underneath that shift.  We’re talking vibrancy of fruit and unexpected earthiness.  Rated **1/2  May 22, 2011
Vaona Odino Valpolicella Classico 2009.  Another good Italian– but quite different from the Pietranera.  A softer style of wine with good fruit up front balanced by just the right amount of tannin and acidity.   Food friendly and just good on its own.  Rated **1/2   May 22, 2011
Fontallada Cava Brut Nature (NV).  typical cava with some soft edges and a yeasty bread like finish.  Rated **  May 22, 2011
Broc Cellars Vine Starr White 2009.  Chardonnay (50%), Rousanne (25%) & Picpoul (25%).   My first reaction “This SOB is from California!?  No way!”  Way, dude, WAY– a native Nebraskan winemaker with a degree in philosophy working with Paso Robles grapes at a Berkeley address.  Perfect, huh?  This is chardonnay for chardonnay haters– I know, we had one with us and she was enamored with this white.  Of the whites I tasted, this was among the ones that showed some elegance.  I’m thinking Rhone.  I’m also thinking buy it.  Rated **1/2  May 22, 2011
Sleight of Hand Spellbinder 2009.  Another one of these kitchen sink blends from the Columbia Valley.  It’s Super Tuscan meet Washington State: Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese & Syrah.  A little something for everyone with good presence and in a nicely balanced package.  Rated **1/2  May 22, 2011
Beronia Crianza 2007.  I have to confess that I like the more classically-styled crianzas.  Restraint, but a lot going on in the bottle.  And at $13, this is one that is bound to make it to No-Guilt Wednesday.  Stay tuned for more.  Rated **1/2  May 22, 2011
Heitz Cabernet Trailside Vineyard 2001.  This is the standout of the  evening– layers of aromas and flavors.  And at 10 years of age, doing that thang the way it should be done.  Not inexpensive at $74, but a damn good wine.  Rated ***1/2  May 22, 2011
Chateau de Callac Prestige 2005.  Having tasted the Heitz Cab, this was my favorite affordable wine.  An expressive nose in this Bordeaux blend, but with restrained fruit and balance.  A wine done up in a classical style from the very good 2005 vintage.  The tannins were still a little grippy.  Decant this before you drink it.  I had this rated at little bit better than **1/2, but I don’t think it merits a *** rating, at least not yet.  In time, that may change.  Rated **1/2  May 22, 2011
Michel Torino Cuma Torrontés 2010 ($10).  Exhibits a citrus-like freshness on the nose that I associate with Sauvignon Blanc– but it is definitely not Sauv Blanc.  There is also a floral component that defies specific descriptors, but that also lends an appealing quality to the wine.  On the palate, it delivers on those floral promises backed up with a pleasing jolt of acidity.  It also has a more viscous mouth feel than what you would expect from a wine like this.  Rated **  May 20, 2011
2009 Vin de Pays du Vaucluse selected by Kermit Lynch.  First tasting: The wine has some nice cherry flavors, tannins are not particularly strong.  However, it felt slightly unbalanced because of the acidity.   Still it was attractive enough that none of the bottle remained at the end of the evening.  With that kind of acidity, I though it would do better with food.  Rated **

Second tasting: Even though I decanted the wine this time, my initial impressions were the same as on the first tasting.  However, the magic of a good food pairing should never be underestimated.  This budget beauty started to sing.  A little more about this wine: it is a predominantly grenache based wine from the Southern Rhone.  55% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 15% Merlot, 10% Marselan.  The wine never sees the inside of an oak barrel– it’s all about stainless steel and cement cuves*– which helps explain the more pronounced acidity I picked up in the two tastings as well as the minimalism of tannic structure.  And yes, with only 13% alcohol and at $11 a bottle, I am buying more of this juice!  I don’t mean to gush, but this wine is all about delivering value.  Though my heart wants to go higher, my head says hold the rating to ** 1/2  May 13, 2011

Adelaida Recess Red 2007.  More of an everyday wine and thankfully priced for the everyday.  Rated **  May 13, 2011

Adelaida Pinot Noir HMR Estate 2007.  Pinot from Paso?  Yes, this is grown in one of the cooler lots on the estate.  Showing good fruit and balance.  Rated ***  May 13, 2011

Adelaida Syrah Viking Estate 2007.  Showing the richness of syrah, but still balanced with still prevalent tannins.  I would wait on this one for a few more years.  But when it’s ready watch out.  Rated *** 1/2  May 13, 2011

Adelaida Zinfandel 2006.  Red berry flavor profile with an acidic backbone supporting the fruit.  Far from flabby, this is a nice wine I would be happy to drink most any time.  After tasting the Pinot and the Syrah this one really woke up my taste buds.  Rated ** 1/2  May 13, 2011

Denner Dirt Worshipper 2008.  95% Syrah, 5% Viognier.  Concentration, complexity, balance.  Shame that the Wine Spectator also liked it enough to give it a 97 point rating.  At $45, you’re already too late to get some.  Rated *** 1/2  May 13, 2011

Lone Madrone Barfendel 2007.  Seriously bad name, seriously good juice.  This one you can still buy.  Rated *** 1/2  May 13, 2011

Kokomo Winery Grenache Rosé 2010.  Now this may not be the greatest Rosé ever, but with its floral components combined with hints of strawberry, etc., etc., here’s the bottom line: if a woman could Jizz in Her Pants over a wine, then this would be the one for Ms. R.  Rated ** but she would say that I’m being reserved with this review.  Ok—any wine that can spark a great evening deserves another half point just for the Jizz factor.  Re-rated ** 1/2    May 6, 2011

Kokomo Winery Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, Peter’s Vineyard Winemakers Reserve 2008. This one keeps getting better and better each year.  I think that Erik’s partnership with Randy Peters is providing him access to great fruit and it shows.  The acid is pronounced but not overwhelming.  Typical for Kokomo—but the red fruits shine through along with other flavors and aromas.  A few years in the bottle and I will be the one doing the jizzing!  Rated ***  May 6, 2011

Kokomo Winery DCV Zinfandel, Timber Crest Vineyard Winemakers Reserve 2008.  Nice cherry flavors combine with an herbal component that is reminiscent of eucalyptus with an herbal overlay (thyme?).  I confess, I liked this better at the winery than I did at home in Connecticut a few days after receiving a recent shipment.  Given the Malbec experience, I’m thinking that the stress of shipment must be affecting the wines when they travel cross country (a topic for another post), so I’m going to let this these rest longer before pulling corks.  Still, I don’t find this to be as strong as the Mounts Zinfandel that Erik puts out as well.  That’s the one I am looking forward to drinking.  Rated ** ½  May 6, 2011

Kachina Vineyards Russian River Chardonnay 2009.  Can you say “ohr-GAH-hom!”  This wine was matched beautifully with a simple poached shrimp on a salted tortilla chip with…was that a mango sliver and a cilantro dressing?  Can you say the word “orgasm” with a mouth full of this pairing?  Rated ** ½ add another ½ for the pairing if you must.  But I’ll stick with a rating of ** 1/2  May 6, 2011

Kachina Vineyards Charbono 2009. This is a varietal otherwise known as bonarda.  Typically, this is a blending grape, but here, it produces a strongly colored wine that exhibits surprisingly approachable fruit without the expected tannins that normally accompany a wine that looks like this.  Rated **  May 6, 2011

Kachina Vineyards Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel Port 2005.  Nice ruby color with an elegant mouth-coating of plum-like fruit balanced by good acidic structure.  Even Ms. R, a person who despises dessert wines, liked this one.  Perhaps it was the chocolate truffle pairing.  Rated ***  May 6, 2011

D.H. Gustafson Family Vineyards Estate Rosé of Syrah 2010.  This one reminded me of some of the Burgundian Rosés I’ve had in the past.  This baby qualifies for the LPR award (Liquid Pants Remover)!  Ms. R agrees.  Rated ** ½  May 6, 2011

Posted July 24, 2011 by Sybarite Sauvage

2 responses to “Index of Wines Reviewed

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  1. i do enjoy the manner in which you have presented this specific issue

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