Monthly Archives: January 2010

A Beringer Knights Valley “4 for 1”!

I titled this post “4 for 1” because I am doing four Beringer wines, all from Knights Valley. The first three are all Cabernet Sauvignons from the 90’s and the fourth is the ’04 Aluvium, a Merlot dominated blend.

Wine Information for the Beringer Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon’s is unavailable! Even in the vast world of the interwebs, I couldn’t find specifics on the three back vintages.

My Tasting Notes –

1990: nice red fruit, hints of chocolate and cherry with an interesting note of adzuki or white bean. Still a decent amount of tannins and acidity – I just felt it was a bit tired, but still impressive for a 20 year old Cabernet.

1992: A bit of funkiness, the good kind, leather and earth laced with black currant on the nose. More funk on the palate, with additional blackberry and more red fruit notes interlacing in the mid palate. Smooth and rich, with great leathery tannins. Again impressive for its age, my favorite of the bunch.

1995: Oak was the first thing that hit me, and the fruit was a little muddled on the nose. Good notes of black cherry, fennel and more toasty oak and vanilla notes on the palate. Huge tannins for the age, surprising, and a little overwhelming as I don’t think it had the fruit to back it up. Felt a little disjointed but maybe just needs more time, seeing how impressed I was with the ’92.

I had the above wines at a tasting group that I attend once a month, and these were a treat that one of the girls brought for us to enjoy. On the way home, I thought I needed to keep the Beringer Knights Valley train going, so I opened a 2004 BKV Aluvium.

’04 Aluvium Information –

Appellation: Knights Valley
Grapes: 74% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon
Price: $21

My Tasting Notes-

Nose: wet pine, blackberry, soy, kirsch, tomato pasted
Taste: black currant, cassis, black cherry, suede, fennel
Mouthfeel: full body, leathery – fuzzy tannins
Finish: long and fruity

Impressive, as I’m not partial to California Merlot in general. Enthusiast gave it a 93 and said to drink through 2010. I can almost agree with that high of a rating, as it was really good, but I think it can roll for quite a few more years, it is definitely not on it’s last leg.


Categories: $20-$30, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2006 Merryvale Starmont Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 Merryvale Starmont Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Information –

Region: Napa Valley
Vineyards: Merryvale Estate Vineyard (St. Helena Appellation), Bayview- Oakville & Oak Knoll
Grapes: 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16 % Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot
Oak: 15 months in French Oak (20% new)
Price: $25 – $30

My Tasting Notes –

nose: interesting “raw pumpkin”, fresh cut tobacco, cassis, blackberry
taste: blackberry, black cherry, cedar, vanilla bean, clove
mouthfeel: full body, leathery tannins
finish: dusty dry finish

The nose was a bit tight, as it took a minute to open up. The palate was very nice and full bodied with a smooth vibrant finish. Nice Cab – that wasn’t too oaky, with nice fruit and secondary flavor and aroma characteristics that don’t usually show up until the wine is a little older.


Categories: $20-$30, napa, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Tröegs Nugget Nectar – Imperial Amber Ale

Now I know this isn’t a wine, but I do love beer as well, and this seasonal brew from Tröegs definitely deserves mention. I’m not nearly as good at describing beer as I am at wine so bear with me on the descriptors.

Here’s some data on the beer, the Tröegs Nugget Nectar – Imperial Amber Ale

ABV: 7.5%; IBU’S: ~93; Malts: Pilsner, Munich, Vienna; Hops: Nugget, Warrior, Tomahawk, Simcoe, Palisade; Yeast: Ale

Nice orange/amber color with a medium head. My impressions were that it was highly aromatic with floral and citrus aromas predominately. The palate was nicely bitter but balanced with nice carmel malt notes and again nice citrus and floral notes. A bit of soapiness on the palate as well (which in beer compared to wine is a good thing, IMHO) and the ctirus notes tended to lead toward a slight grapefruitiness.  It was an amazing beer, I hope I get some more before it’s season runs out.


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 1981 Max Ferd Richter Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett

1981 Max Ferd Richter Erdener Treppchen Riesling Kabinett

Wine Information –

Region: Mosel, Germany

Vineyard: Erdener Treppchen

Grape: Riesling

Quality: QmP – Kabinett

Price: $20

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: honey, floral, petrol/rubber

Taste: apricot, petrol, slate, mineral

Mouthfeel: medium to light body, felt a bit thin

Finish: medium in length – honey flavors lingering

The flavors and aromas were nice, classic for a well aged Riesling. The body was lacking in depth, although it still had nice acidity, the mouthfeel was just a bit light.


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Kickin’ it old school!

My friend Greg invited me over to his house yesterday for a little geek fest over some old vintage Virginia wines. He was opening a ‘97, ’99 and ’02 Barboursville Cabernet Sauvignon with the ’99 being a Reserve. In the spirit of opening old Virginia wine, I took over a recent discovery in my cellar, a 1984 Rapidan River Riesling.

1984 Rapidan River Riesling

We started with the Riesling, which was tasting better than I thought it would, but still not that great and definitely past it’s prime. The cool part about this Riesling, besides the fact that it’s an ’84 from VA, but it was also made about 10 miles from where I grew up, 7 years after I was born. The cork showed some seepage and was really loose when I pulled it out, and although old, I think the darker golden color of the wine was due to an influx of air over time. All that being said, this was a textbook example of gasoline, diesel fuel aromas on an aged Riesling with hints of burnt sugar (caramel). Unfortunately most of the fruit was gone on the palate, hints of apricot and honey did show up for a second, but were quickly dissipated by the watery finish. All in all, better than I expected for an old wine made from a grape that doesn’t thrive here in the state.

1997, 1999 & 2002 Barboursville Cabernet Sauvignon (99 was Reserve)

On to the Cabernets….

We started with the ’97 which was tasting good but unfortunately seems a bit past it’s peak. Not a whole lot of fruit left, the nose showed aromas of cedar, anise, cocoa and a hint of funk. The palate had a nice dose of cranberry, baking spice, tobacco leaf and leather accompanied by a smooth medium body. The finish was really short, faded away soon after swallowing. Impressive for a 13 year old Cab from Virginia.

More impressive was the ’99 Reserve, still showing notes of dark fruit both on the nose and palate. Specifically, heavy doses of black cherry interlaced with leather shop aromas. The taste buds were picking up flavors of blackberry, spice box, cedar, pine and red clay. Tannins were still present in this guy, showing a nice velvety texture. I think the ’99 isn’t past it’s prime but it’s definitely on the downhill slope.

The 2002 had a great nose of red currant, and raspberry with a bit of sweet cedar and eucalyptus. Sounding great right? Well on the palate I got cork taint, boo! It was subtle at first but for me it definitely built up over the course of the glass and by the end of it, all I could taste was musty newspapers. The group didn’t agree with me completely but thought something might have been a bit off. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

I think the ’99 Reserve was the winner for me, as well as everybody else. It was definitely a fun time – tasting some old Virginia wine. Some good, some bad, as is the case when opening older vintages, you never know what you’re going to get.


We also opened an ’81 Richter Riesling that I’ll review on a separate post.

Categories: virginia wine, wine review | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

A sign of consumers drinking local?

I came across the article “Off-Premise Wine Sales Slightly Decrease in November versus Same Period Last Year” on a couple of days ago, mainly just doing some research for my retail wine gig. Within the article it was pointed out that although sales dropped overall, domestic wine sales rose while imports fell. I didn’t think much of it at first – thinking that price could be a factor during these economic times. Imports can tend to be higher priced (there are exceptions) and people are less likely to explore unfamiliar regions/wines/countries when they are strapped for cash. Thinking back on the article today I thought maybe there was another underlying message here, are people starting to buy more local wines?

image source:

Unfortunately I don’t think so. If you look at the next graph from the article you will notice that most of the rise in domestic sales is driven by wines in the price range of $3 – $5.99 and $9 – $14.99. Unfortunately most local wines, at least here in Virginia, are not in this price range specifically not the $3 – $6 category which saw the largest growth for the year at 9.0%. I have a feeling it is being driven by brands like 2 Buck Chuck, local if you live in California I guess.

image source:

Not sure if my interpretation is correct – just my two cents.


Categories: wine industry issues | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Back to Roanoke Vineyards

Our first visit to Roanoke Vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island was during Taste Camp 2009 last May when we tasted with owner/vineyard manager Richard Pisacano. (on the first visit post there is a video of Richard giving a good history of Roanoke) We had a fantastic time and used our visit to Long Island in October to revisit them and taste through the rest of their portfolio. We met up with Adam Ehmer aka @oldgrimy and he tasted us through about 7 wines including a few unreleased wines, in decanters labeled with masking tape. The experience was also paired with a nice cheeseboard and baguette. I don’t remember what cheeses they were, but the complimented the wines nicely – and helped keep the palate from getting fatigued.

….on to the wines!

2008 Rose (cab sauv, cab franc, merlot, 25% Chardonnay): lot of strawberry and watermelon on the nose with similar palate including hints of fresh hay and raspberry. Full body and crisp.

2008 Chardonnay (84% in stainless, 16% oak aged blended in): very tropical in nature, very fruity almost “sweet”. Bit of citrus in the mid-palate with hay and mineral notes leading to a clean finish.

2007 Marco Tulio (50% Cab Sauv, 50% Cab Franc, splash of Merlot – 12 months in oak): bright fruit leading off with black currant and boysenberry both on the nose and palate. Great layers of tobacco, leather and hazelnut with interesting touch of lavender towards the finish. Full bodied with rich leathery tannins.

2006 Gabby’s Cabernet Franc (92% cab franc, 8% merlot – 20 months in 50% new French oak): dark ripe fruit flavors, blackberry, black currant and baking spices dominating the nose. Similar fruit on the palate, but more red fruit coming through predominately raspberry with notes of cooked greens. Full body.

2006 “Blend One” (80% Cab Sauv, didn’t write down the rest of the blend): black fruit and earthiness on the nose. Leather, blackberry, mocha and coffee bean on the palate with an crazy note of mint chutney at the finish. Lovely flavor profile but felt a bit light/thin in the mid – palate.

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon (88% Cab Sauv, 9% Cab Franc, 3% Merlot): the aromatics greet you with black cherry, and boysenberry with dark chocolate interlaced. Full bodied palate with blackberry, eucalyptus and cardamom. Still young – think it will drink better down the road – huge tannins.

2007 Cabernet Franc (94% cab franc, 6% merlot): old world style, with red cherry, red currant and hints of earthy barnyard notes on the nose. More red currant on the palate with bing cherry, red clay and spice box flavors continuing through the finish. Still a baby (wasn’t released at time of sample) with huge tannins and great acid backbone – age worthy Cabernet Franc.

After tasting, Adam poured us a glass of our choice (cab franc for me) and took us on a tour of the vineyard. Sampling a few grapes here and there we walked up and down the vines, dodging the always startling blast from the bird deterring air cannons. It was the last tasting of our 2nd day in Long Island and a great finish to the day to say the least. I hope to get some of the ’07 Cabernet Franc before it runs out now that it is released but I did bring home some of my other favorites including the Gabby’s Cab Franc and the Marco Tulio. Both are resting nicely down in the cellar – I’ll try to hold on to them as long as possible, it’ll will be fun to see these guys age.

My first tasting of a Roanoke wine was at the first Wine Bloggers Conference (WBC) in October ’08 at an after hours tasting of New York wines provided by Lenn Thompson of The New York Cork Report. After meeting Adam he let me know that I was quoted on their release flyer for the ’06 Cabernet Franc, the wine that I had tasted at the WBC.

Here’s what I thought of it —

Having only had one or two unmemorable New York wines (before) I was excited to get the opportunity to taste a good sampling from the state. Being from Virginia where Cabernet Franc does extremely well I was most eager to see how New York compared. I have to say that I was impressed with the unhampered expression of the varietal. (The winemakers) aren’t trying to make a Cabernet Sauvignon from Cabernet Franc. The one that stuck out in my radar the most was 2006 Roanoke Vineyards Cabernet Franc from Long Island. Nice bright red fruit aromas on the nose laced with a touch of wet earth followed by raspberry-cherry and the tell tale raw green pepper flavors.

As you can tell, I’ve been a fan of their wines since my first tasting and couple that with a first class tasting room experience, I will definitely return the next time I am in Long Island.

Thanks to Adam for the great time – hope to visit again soon.


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2007 Nautique “Esprit de Rouge”

Nautique is a second label of Peconic Bay winery on the North Fork of Long Island, a little more value oriented brand meant for every day consumption. Currently they make a “Esprit de Rouge” and an “Esprit de Blanc”, and we picked up both during our visit to Long Island back in October.

2007 Nautique “Esprit de Rouge”

Wine Information –

Region: North Fork, Long Island

Grapes: 95% Merlot, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc

Oak Program: Info not available, although based on the taste I was assume neutral or 2nd/3rd use barrels for a short time

Price: $16

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: cherry, raspberry, cola

Taste: black cherry, vanilla, licorice

Mouthfeel: medium body, with velvety but structured tannins

Finish: medium in length and fruity

Nice everyday wine that is ready to drink young, and went great with our pizza. Nothing too complex about the wine, but I believe that is how it was “built” and what it was meant to be. Lots and lots of cherry, with hints of cola and licorice to balance out the fruitiness. This wine has a decent distribution on the East Coast so if you live in NY, NJ, and CT – you should be able to find it.


Categories: $10-$20, New York Wines, wine review | Tags: , , | Leave a comment