Wednesday random wine reviews…

As I was going through some tasting notes to write up for work, I came to the conclusion that I should start posting some of these once a week. Mostly because it is such a random mix of wines, and thought it might be fun…. and I have to type them up anyway! 🙂


2006 Château de Pibarnon Bandol les Restanques de Pibarnon

Region: Bandol (Provence, France)

Grapes: Mourvedre

Price: $27

Notes…Aromas of black currant, bit of oak, boysenberry, leather and a hint of chocolate followed by flavors of black and red currant, cherry, eucalyptus and black pepper.  Full bodied with huge chewy tannins, great value for a Bandol wine.

2007 Dender Patton “Wisdom” Old Vine Zinfandel

Region: Mendocino County, California

Grapes: 90% Zinfandel, 5% Petite Sirah, 5% Barbera

Price: $30

Notes…Aromas of raisin, plum, fig and dried currants followed by flavors of blackberry, plum, raisin, tobacco and cocoa powder. Full-bodied, bit of spiciness at the back of the palate with velvety lush tannins.

NV Roncier Bourgougne Rouge

Region: Burgundy (mostly all declassified Mercurey fruit)

Grape: Pinot Noir

Price: $10

Notes…Aromas of cherry, plum, cola and a bit of red clay followed by flavors of plum, spicy clove, smoked mushrooms and black cherry. Medium to full body (for a Burgundy Pinot), long finish. Awesome value!!

Stay tuned for some more random wine reviews…



Categories: $10-$20, $20-$30, wine review | Leave a comment

Pinot from Patagonia

Yes, a Pinot Noir from Patagonia, Argentina. Yesterday I had the opportunity to taste this wine. It wasn’t knock your socks off good, but at $11.50 I was quite impressed. The wine region of Patagonia is growing as more winemakers are seeing the promise of producing cooler climate wines, such as Pinot Noir.  The southern Patagonia region includes the fruit producing regions of RĂ­o Negro and NeuquĂ©n (which is where this wine comes from) which has a considerably cooler climate than the major regions to the north which provides for a long, drawn out growing season in the predominately chalky soils.

Some specs…

Region: Neuquén, Argentina

Grapes: Pinot Noir

Alcohol: 14% (high I think for cool climate and the balance this showed)

Total Acidity: 4.65 g/L

Oak: 6 months 50/50 – French/American

Bottled: February 2008

Price: $11.50

What I thought…

The nose was a bit tight, floral and black fruit notes that were indistinguishable snuck out of the glass ever so slightly. Very smooth with lots of plum, black cherry, hints of floral & cedar notes with edges of red currant and cranberry. Medium bodied and smooth all the way to the finish with lush velvety tannins.


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A different approach!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting with the folks at Lovingston Winery in rural Lovingtson, Virginia. Far South on the Monticello Wine Trail, they are set off of a back road, nestled into a hill deemed “Josie’s Knoll”. To say that they are on the Wine Trail is a stretch, they are quite a bit away from their surrounding wineries and that’s okay, it works for their business model. Their model is completely different from any other winery I have visited here in Virginia. Instead of focusing on tourism, events and traffic through a tasting room, or attending festivals, their primary source of sales comes via the wholesale market in retail shops and restaurants. Not to say they don’t welcome visitors to their winery, they are more than happy for you to make an appointment. It’s an interesting concept for a Virginia winery and one that comes with an adjustment to their pricing structure. Honestly when they handed me their tasting/price sheet I thought it was the wholesale version. They are pricing their wines to be competitive on a global scale, with their most expensive wine selling for $19 retail, the Reserve Merlot, and the rest from $12-$14. Their Cab Franc is very tasty and retails for $12, pretty amazing considering the amount of hands on production they have. (gravity flow, double sorting, seed removal during fermentation, etc.)

Being in retail wine sales for my day job, I appreciate the lower prices as a lot of times comments regarding Virginia wines are negativity towards the pricing. I do hope they can afford to keep pricing wine this way, as they are pretty small. At around 2K cases, I imagine it’s hard to absorb the chunk that the distributor takes, especially at the low retail prices they are shooting for. In addition to the fact that this is the primary means of their sales vs. most VA wineries, where wholesale is a small percentage.

large tanks setup for gravity flow operations

Both Stephanie and her dad visited with me and gave me the full spiel on their wines and impressed me with their knowledge of wine and wine making. I didn’t get to meet the winemaker, Riaan Rossouw who is South African, a shame because I hear he is a hoot to talk with.

Some notes on a couple of favorites from my tasting…
2007 Cabernet Franc ($12) – (10% Merlot) – full of earthy notes (especially on the nose) black currant, sauteed green pepper, and raspberry. Juicy in the mid-palate but still maintained a nice “leanness”, with a medium to full body.

2006 Reserve Merlot ($19) – load of fruit up front, highlighted by black cherry and pomegranate, with leather and a hint of cigar box provided some nice earth tones at the back of the palate. Full bodied and well structured – nice effort (from a non-merlot fan)

2009 Petite Manseng ($13) – (2% RS) – very rich, ripe apricot and mango, very tropical. The slight sweetness is very balanced as the wine had some good back end acidity.

Cheers to Lovingston for a nice visit and some tasty juice!

Categories: $10-$20, virginia wine, wine review, wine tasting | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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

Review of the 2007 Finca La Linda Bonarda

Finca La Linda is a second label for Luigi Bosca, who’s Malbecs I have had in the past and quite enjoyed. I was sent some wines from the La Linda label for review and the Bonarda is the first one I tried. I think I have only had one other 100% Barnarda in the past so I don’t have much of a reference point, although I have had dozens of wines in which the grape was part of the blend. The wine had excellent structure – good acidity and tannins – but the flavor profile just wasn’t for me.

Wine Information –

Region: Mendoza, Argentina (Lujan de Cuyo)

Grapes: 100% Bonarda

Oak Program: 6 months in American Oak

Alcohol: 14% ABV

Price: $10-$11

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: raisin, plum, cooked fruit, portish

Taste: portish, cooked, bit of mocha and blackberry towards the finish

Mouthfeel: full body, peppery – leathery tannins

Finish: decent length although the lingering cooked fruit wasn’t too enjoyable

Definitely some interesting flavor notes, but the dominance of cooked fruit and weak port flavors just wasn’t appealing to me – at least in a table wine. I was hoping that the La Linda line would be not to far off from Luigi Bosca, but so far it is. Maybe the Malbec will be better!


Categories: $10-$20, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Exploring Super Tuscans with the 2006 Aia Vecchia Lagone

Whether you call them a Super Tuscan or an IGT blend, rich red blends from Tuscany provide everything from great values to high priced cult legends. The 2006 Aia Vecchia Lagone falls into the value category at $18 and is a blend of mostly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with 5% Cabernet Franc.

So what is a “Super Tuscan?”

Originally Super Tuscan’s were declassified Chiantis because they failed to follow the DOC (and then DOCG) requirements for grape blends and aging. Many winemakers at the time (1970’s) felt that Chianti wines were becoming too watered down and not showing the true class and structure that the region could provide. This philosophy brought in new non typical grapes into the blends such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc to provide increased structure and complexity. Although many of the wines were still of superior quality, not following the rules brought these wines down to Vini da Tavola status or basic table wine. In 1992 to give some status and classification to these wine the Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) was formed. Although still not carrying the same status as DOC or DOCG wines, it was better than being called table wine. Funny enough current DOCG rules for Chianti and the sub regions of Chianti allow for up to 15% of these grapes that 30 years ago were not allowed.

My tasting notes for the 2006 Aia Vecchia Lagone

Nose: fig newton, leather, black currant, sun-dried tomatoes
Taste: black currant, fig, pie dough, black cherry, prune, crayon
Mouthfeel: full bodied but tight, strong leathery tannins
Finish: long with lots of depth and flavor

A very delicious wine, but kind of all over the place. It is still a young wine in many ways and needs some time to pull itself together at which time it will definitely shine. That being said it tastes great now and will delight most non-discriminating drinkers early, but given another year or two I feel it’ll show much better.


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Drinking the Macari Sette

So last night for dinner I went to my sample rack to catch up on some things and pulled out the Macari Vineyards Sette ($17) from the North Fork of Long Island. It intrigued me because it was non-vintage (or at least not labeled) and no grapes were listed. So before whipping out the laptop to look up this wine I tasted it, and guessed that it must be predominately Cabernet Franc. Well I was right, it is a blend of 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot, as well as a new wine for Macari.

Unfortunately the information on the Macari website is limited as far as vinification and doesn’t go much further than the blend of grapes. Quick background info on Macari –

“Macari is on the cutting edge of viticulture and is dedicated to a more natural approach to winemaking. Joseph Macari, Jr. is recognized as a pioneer in the movement towards organic and sustainable farming on Long Island, employing principles of biodynamic farming since the vineyard’s first plantings. Extensive soil preparation, rich composts, careful cover cropping and a consideration to wildlife and terrain makes Macari’s 180 planted acres stand out from the rest. Taking into account the health of the environment as a whole, and moving away from the harmful effects of pesticides to a more natural and meticulous caretaking of the soil and plants, ultimately yields premium wines.”

macarisetteMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: mocha, plum, black cherry, red currant, thyme

Taste: red cherry, red currant, leather, oak, raspberry

Mouthfeel: spicy with velvety tannins, medium to full bodied with racy acidity

Finish: long in length with a great amount of fruit

I was quite impressed with the wine, it was varietally correct, extremely balanced and also good. Not a bad combination for $17. My only negative comment on the wine would be the presence of oak toward the back of the palate. I don’t mind oak or it’s derivatives in a wine, but for some reason this was coming off as more of a plywood taste. It was over bearing so it didn’t take away from the rest of the great flavors I was picking up.


Categories: $10-$20, New York Wines, wine review | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2007 Pikes Red Mullet

2007 Pikes Red Mullet

Wine Information –

Country: Australia

Region: Clare Valley

Grapes: Shiraz, Grenache, Mouvedre and Tempranillo

Price: $14

pikes-the-red-mullet-07My Tasting Notes –

Nose: raspberry, blueberry and hints of cocoa

Taste: raspberry, blackberry, red currant, plum and cherry

Mouthfeel: medium to full body, slightly spicy with great acid

Finish: long, with great structure

The Pikes Red Mullet is an interesting blend that is made to be an every day red wine suitable for a variety of foods. It is definitely that, and has an interesting contrast on the nose and palate of red and dark fruit notes. The kicker is definitely the acidity, great amounts of it that give this fruit driven wine some excellent structure.


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A little more oak than I would’ve liked – 2005 Domaine des Deux Roches Saint-Veran

When I turn to a white Burgundy I look to enjoy a wine that is crisp, lots of minerality and great fruit but not a lot of oak. Unfortunately the 2005 Domaine des Deux Roches Saint-Veran “Rives de Longsault” ($20) did provide, in my opinion, a bit to much pure oak aromas and flavors than I would have liked but not enough to put me off. Saint-Veran was granted AOC status in 1971, and Domaine des Deux Roches is one of the finest producers in the area according to many experts.

The information on vinification and barrel aging on the website is limited to “A slow alcoholic fermentation is done in temperature controlled stainless steel vats ( 70%) and barrels (30%) in order to

preserve the freshness of the fruit and express the best soil expression. After alcoholic and malolactic fermentations we age our wine on fine lees until April.” I am not sure if only 30% remained in oak or if all of it went in after primary fermentation and what percentage was new versus used barrels. I imagine that it was a good percentage of new oak as I am to overly sensitive to the “Oak Monster” as Gary Vaynerchuk calls it.

2005domaindesrochesMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: toasty oak, pear, persimmon, butter and hazelnut

Taste: toast, citrus, wood, mineral, blue slate, apple and pear

Mouthfeel: loads of acidity, full bodied and tart

Finish: long with the acidity lingering around

As far as structure goes I think this is classic Burgundy, but again the predominance of oak at the front end of both the aroma and flavor profile surprised me. The rest of the flavors were very layered and came through quite nicely despite the oak presence. The acidity and minerality were fantastic and this would make a great pairing for shellfish. If you are a fan of Burgundy but would like a little more “new world” oak influence give this one a try, although in doing some internet searching I didn’t see too much of the ’05 out there, mostly ’06 and ’07.


Categories: $10-$20, Burgundy, wine review | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2008 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc

2008 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc

Wine Information –

Country: New Zealand

Region: Marlborough

Grapes: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Aging: 7 months in stainless steel before bottling

Price: $15

wairauriver_sauvblancMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: pear, gooseberry, green pepper, touch of grapefruit

Taste: gooseberry, citrus, sweet pea, touch of grass

Mouthfeel: full body, slightly watery, crisp but could use more acid

Finish: long, fruity and refreshing

Overall the flavor and aroma profile was very nice, but I felt it could have used more acidity. For 15 bones it is a solid effort and paired great with our stir fry with peanut sauce. Interesting note, this is Wairau River’s first CarboNZero wine. CarboNZero is a government backed program to help individuals, institutions and events manage, measure and mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions. Pretty cool – a nice added bonus to enjoying your wine.


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2007 Elena Walch GewĂĽrztraminer

2007 Elena Walch GewĂĽrztraminer

Wine Information –

Country – Italy

Region (DOC): Alto Adige

Grape: 100% GewĂĽrztraminer

Fermentation: Stainless steel

Price: $19.99

elenawalch_gewurzMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: rose, apple peel, honey, apricot

Taste: rose petal, lychee, graphite, honey

Mouthfeel: viscous and spicy with enough acidity to provide some structure

Finish: long, dry with hints of honey and rose

Great “Gewurtz”, very nice and rich but a great amount of acidity for much needed structure to back up the viscosity felt on the palate. Classic flavors and aromas of rose, lychee and honey, it is everything a good GewĂĽrztraminer should be, and at $19 it isn’t a bad price. Think about pairing this with some Indian food, it would work great!


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The perfect beach wine – Vinho Verde!


The past few days I have been down in Duck, North Carolina enjoying some perfect beach weather at my in-laws timeshare. Normally when it comes to imbibing on the beach I am a Corona and lime fan but sometimes it’s fun to mix it up and do something a little different. Vinho Verde is the perfect beach wine, delightfully refreshing with bright acidity and just a hint sparkle. Vinho Verde comes from Portugal and literally means “green wine”, referencing it’s youthful freshness rather than it’s color. The N.V. Broadbent Vinho Verde ($10.95) is made from 3 of the typical varieties used in the wine, 50% Loureiro, 40% Trajadura and 10% PedernĂŁ. Fairly low alcohol around 9-10%, it is a very easy drinking and perfect for a hot day in the sand, the only thing that would make it better would be a screw top.

broadbentvinhoverdeMy Tasting Notes:

Nose: lime, lemon zest, slightly grassy

Taste: citrus, mineral

Mouthfeel: crisp acidity with a bit of sparkle

Finish: clean and not long lived

My notes don’t offer much variety in descriptors but where this wines shines is in it’s freshness. Imagine taking the sweetness out of Sprite and adding some acidity and alcohol and you have a Vinho Verde. On the beach I didn’t pair it with a foods but it would go well with a variety of salad combinations or a nice summer gazpacho. The next time you need something different, or if you have non beer drinker in your beach crowd, go for a Vinho Verde.


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2007 Perazzeta Sara Rosso Toscano

2007 Perazzeta Sara Rosso Toscano

Wine Information –

Region: Tuscany, Montenero d’ Orcia

Grapes: 90% Sangiovese, 10% Ciliegiolo (new grape for me)

Fermentation: 6 months Stainless Steel tanks, no oak aging

Price: $13

perazzetasararossoMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: cooked fruit, fig, blackberry, raisin

Taste: sun-dried tomato, blackberry, boysenberry

Mouthfeel: full bodied, slightly flabby

Finish: medium in length with lots of fruit

I was excited to try this wine, one because it is a good value Tuscan blend and two, because it gave me a new grape for my Wine Century Club, the native Tuscan Ciliegiolo grape. My excitement was quickly shutdown after tasting the wine. Although nothing was necessarily “wrong” with the wine, it wasn’t what I expect in a Tuscan IGT blend. The dark fruit aromas of blackberry and raisined fruit reminded more of a Zin, versus the bright red fruit I would expect. Tuscan wines and Italian wines in general have a good amount of acidity which makes them great food wines, this was flabby to the say the least, no backbone what so ever. I would expect a 2007 to be dead, but maybe I did get a bad bottle. At the price, I may have to give it a second chance.


Categories: $10-$20, wine review | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

2007 Lange Twins Generations Petite Verdot/Petite Sirah

I had been sitting on this bottle of wine for a few months after seeing a review or two online that it was still a bit young. Filled with two grapes that are always a guarantee for a power packed, intense and fruit filled wine – I was excited to give this a try. I am a big fan of these two grapes on their own and think they add a lot to the blends they grace, but I think this is the first wine I have had that PV and PS were the only two in the blend.

Lange Twins Generations series of wines are small lot productions that reference the generations of family members that work and have worked to craft their wines and tend their farms. I like their value statements so much I feel impelled to list them here:

  • Always strive to do one’s best, regardless of the project

  • Respect all individuals and foster teamwork

  • Take full responsibility and commit to hard work

  • Promote stewardship

  • Live each day by honesty and integrity

  • The best method to be understood is to start by understanding the opinions of others

In their commitment to stewardship, they are stewards of the land they farm and start with the simplest of steps by sending out USB drives vs paper info sheets. Their commitment to sustainability encompasses everything from renewable energy to water management.

On to the wine….

The 2007 Lange Twins Generations Petite Verdot/Petite Sirah is a 66% and 34% blend respectively. Only about 200 cases of this wine are produced so I feel lucky to be one of the people getting to try it.

LT_PSPVMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: dark cherry, black currant, campfire, brownie batter

Taste: raspberry jam, dried herbs, fig, cocoa, boysenberry

Mouthfeel: full lush body, leathery but manageable tannins

Finish: long and fruity

This was definitely a big wine but also definitely ready to drink now. The tannins were big and ripe but not too over the top “velcro” tannins as I like to say. Tons of rich, dark fruit with nice smokey and dried herb notes that round out the flavor/aroma profile nicely. At $20 it is a good value for a big fleshy, fruit filled wine when you are in that “New World” mood. I look forward to trying more of the Lange Twin offerings.


Categories: $10-$20, petite sirah, petite verdot, wine review | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2008 Chateau de Segries Tavel RosĂ©

We enjoyed the 2008 Chateau de Segries Tavel Rosé last night with some tacos and was a nice pairing, although this Rosé could go with just about everything.

chateausegries_tavelWine Information –

Region: Rhone

Appellation: Tavel (only Rosé is produced here)

Grapes: 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 15% Clairette, 5% Syrah

Price: $15

My Tasting Notes –

Color: deep pink

Nose: fresh herb garden, tangerine and strawberry

Taste: spicy strawberry, watermelon, slate, ginger and rhubarb

Mouthfeel: medium to full body, great roundness but crisp finish, a perfect combo

Finish: decent length with persistent fruit and minerality

A fabulous Rosé , and a great value. If you love dry Rosé and want to try a great example give this one a whirl!


Categories: $10-$20, Rhone Wines, Rosé, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment