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

2009 Macari Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

This time last year I was in Long Island Wine Country with Megan, enjoying some great wine and food, visiting with friends and making new ones. Since we aren’t in Long Island this year I decided to open some wine from the region to help relive the memories from last year. We have lots of red wine in the cellar from that trip, but we were making Indian food last night and I needed a white. I perused around and found the ’09 Macari Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($23). (Check out my post “From Poop to Juice” on our visit to Macari Vineyards last year)

My Tasting Notes…

Nose: pear, citrus, grapefruit, fresh cut grass, slate

Taste: sweet pea, lemon zest, minerality, green apple, grapefruit

Mouthfeel: smooth and crisp with racy acidity on the back of the palate

Finish: medium in length with lingering notes of citrus and sweet pea

Final Thoughts….

This is a very nice and complex Sauvignon Blanc that reminds me of a combination of ones from New Zealand and Touraine. You have great fruit forward nature of New Zealand and the racy acidity and minerality of Touraine. In addition it was a great pairing for the Indian food which was Channa Masala and Palak Aloo.



Categories: $20-$30, New York Wines, sauvignon blanc, wine review | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Revisiting some Kluge Wines

Being an owner at a wine shop has many advantages, one if which is tasting A LOT of wine. Most of what I taste is from all over the world with a small percentage of it being from here in Virginia. ( I should write a post about that!) Recently a new “rep” for Kluge winery presented myself and my staff with their current lineup. Having not had it in quite a while I was eager to give them a taste.  Over the years I have enjoyed Kluge wines but have had certain concerns in the past. One was their pricing when they got started about 5 years ago – they were crazy! That was quickly and thankfully corrected and I think their prices are excellent for the quality the wines deliver.  The second is the sort of sterile turn the tasting room took with the presentation of their wines. When they first started the wines were tasted with an associate in nice stems. Now they are handed to you with a tasting sheet and served in tulip shaped test tubes, seriously. So needless to say, it is hard to really “evaluate” the wines. Last I checked that this was still the case.

That being said I was glad to taste them in my “home” environment in decent glasses with a person who was well versed in their juice. My two standouts were the 2005 Kluge Estate New World Red ($25) and the Kluge Estate SP Blanc de Blancs ($28). The New World Red is a traditional Bordeaux blend of mostly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and a splash of Malbec. It has some good age on it, and the tannins show it as they have integrated very nicely. A fruit forward style, especially for Virginia, with a nice balance of leather and dried herb notes, graced by a hint of mocha.  The Blanc de Blancs is a traditional Methode Champenoise made from 100% Chardonnay.  Lots of straw and sourdough notes mostly on the nose with rich pear, apple and persimmon notes on the palate. Balanced structure and beautiful tight bubbles.

Needless to say these are two wines I’ll most likely be adding to the Virginia Wine wall at the shop.


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2008 Channing Daughters Tocai Friulano Mudd West Vineyard

2008 Channing Daughters Tocai Friulano Mudd West Vineyard

Wine Information –

Region: North Fork, Long Island
Vineyard: Mudd West
Grapes: Tocai Friulano
Price: $24

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: citrus, asparagus, cut grass, hay, cornstalk
Taste: honeydew melon, lemon zest, tangerine, mineral/slate
Mouthfeel: racy acidity, zippy, med body
Finish: long fruity – zippy acidity remains on the palate

More fruit than a lot of the Tocai Friulanos that I have had from Italy, but contains the same racy acidity and mineral overtones.  Awesome effort, and a nice wine for a grape that is rarely planted in the US, much less in New York state.

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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.


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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

Another winning Cabernet Franc from the North Fork

On a slightly chilly rainy October day in Cutchogue, New York Megan and I made our way into the tasting room at Peconic Bay Winery. This was our first visit to the winery and we were shown a great time by Pascal Zugmeyer, Hospitality Director and Jim Silver, General Manager. We tasted through the entire lineup of Peconic wines, including their new more value based line Nautique. On the day I felt the 2007 Cabernet Franc ($22) was the winning wine for me with a very close second being the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon (75% Cab, 25% Merlot). On a non wine related note, the bathrooms at Peconic have the coolest hand dryers I have ever seen, the Dyson Airblade, very energy efficient and dries your hands in like 2 seconds.

A couple of nights ago I broke open the 2007 Cabernet Franc for dinner, and again it did not disappoint. Here’s what I thought…

nose: red currant, roast beef, brussel sprouts, brown sugar

taste: fennel, raspberry, red currant, cherry and oak

mouthfeel: medium to full body – a bit spicy, good acid and young yet approachable tannins

finish: fairly long – leaving red fruit and green veggies on the palate

As you can see from the notes, lots of green veggies and meaty, earthy herb notes on the nose and palate of this wine. Don’t let that discourage you as it is not “green” in anyway. Very well put together and excitingly zippy with it’s bright acidity. There was something slightly off on the palate for me that I couldn’t identify, but wasn’t strong enough to affect the overall perception.

Look for future notes on the Cabernet Sauvignon, although it may be a while since it needs a bit of time in the cellar.


Categories: $20-$30, New York Wines, wine review | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2006 Four Vines “Biker” Zinfandel

2006 Four Vines “Biker” Zinfandel

Wine Information –

Appellation: Paso Robles, California

Vineyards: Dusi, Preston

Grapes: 99% Zinfandel, 1% Mourvedre

Alcohol: 15%

Price: $20 – $25

Four Vines 2006 Biker ZinfandelMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: Fig, cocoa, prune, black currant, leather

Taste: boysenberry, mocha java, fig, date, blueberry jam, cedar box

Mouthfeel: full body, silky mid palate, spicy towards the finish

Finish: loaded with fruit, dry and leathery

This is a rockin’ central coast Zin, that doesn’t come across to jammy or overly extracted. The alcohol is high at 15% but doesn’t seem so, the wine isn’t “hot” at all. I was impressed by the layers of flavors on the palate, that kept on evolving as the bottle was open. If you’re looking for a bold, spicy full-flaovred zin, give this one a whirl.


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A great Riesling from New York, and not from the Finger Lakes

I had the pleasure of meeting Roman Roth in Long Island during Taste Camp in May, while he led us through a fabulous tasting at Wolffer Estate. While Roman is the head winemaker for Wolffer, he also makes wines under his own label “Grapes of Roth”. I had the opportunity to taste his Grapes of Roth Merlot and absolutely loved it and Roman was nice enough to grab me a bottle of the sold out 2002 from his secret stash. In addition to Merlot, Roman has been bottling a Riesling since 2007 under his label.

A couple of weeks ago I received a nice email from Roman asking if I would like to try the 2008 Riesling ($22) and of course I jumped at the opportunity. One, because I love Riesling and two, because I enjoyed his Merlot so much.

The grapes for 2008 Riesling come from two separate vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island – “The fruit source for this Riesling is 68%Split Rock Vineyard, located just east of Greenport, owned by Michael Kontokosta. The location on the far end of the North Fork with its pronounced maritime influence is particularly important. The cooling breeze is perfect for Riesling, preserving a lively acidity, yet allowing excellent maturation and ripening of the grapes. 32% is from Martha Clara Vineyards, located in the warmer Riverhead area, bringing fourth wonderful richness” – Roman Roth

grapesofroth_rieslingMy Tasting Notes:

nose: tangerine, dried apricot, honey, banana peel

taste: apricot, pear, orange zest, slate, star fruit

mouthfeel: full body with tons of acidity

finish: long with just a kiss of sweetness to brighten up the fruit

I drank this with some vegetarian tacos and it paired very well. Overall both Megan and I were impressed by the wine and Roman’s German heritage is evident in the wine. If I had one complaint about the wine it would be that I didn’t get any of the classic petrol notes that I really enjoy in my Riesling. Other than that, the touch of sweetness helped make the fruit more vibrant and rich but was balanced by the racy acidity that ran across the palate. I plan on grabbing a couple more bottles when I head up to Long Island in October.


Categories: $20-$30, riesling, wine review | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Don’t need a Reason to enjoy Riesling

Over the past couple of years I have really come to enjoy Riesling, slightly sweet and rich, bone dry and mineral driven and somewhere in between, Rieslings are a truly fabulous wine. I have had a couple of Rieslings in the past two weeks that are on pretty opposite ends of the spectrum, although not as far apart as the could be. One, is the 2003 Pewsey Vale “The Contours” and the other was the 2007 S.A. Prum Blue Slate Kabinett. The first from the Eden Valley in Australia and second from the Mosel in Germany, far away in latitude as well as taste.

pewseyvale2003 Pewsey Vale “The Contours”

Region: Eden Valley Australia

Price: $25

Nose: Mineral, lime, citrus, touch of honey

Taste: hints of peach with lime and slate

Mouthfeel: crisp and razor sharp, bone dry

Finish: loads of minerality, lasting for a while

saprum2007 S.A. Prum “Blue Slate” Kabinett

Region: Mosel, Germany

Price: $21

Nose: petrol, smoke, peach pits, tangerine

Taste: honey, violets, peach, mineral, petrol

Mouthfeel: medium to full bodied, good acid and slightly spicy, but round and lush in the mid palette

Finish: layers of residual sweetness and floral fruitiness

Both from great vintages of their respective regions, both of these wines are still young but are drinking great now. The first is bone dry and can be summed up as drinking a limeade out of a stone cup. The second, a classic German Riesling complete with rich fruitiness, just the right amount of sweetness and petrol to round out the aromatic and flavor profile.

The S.A. Prum is pretty widely available but the Pewsey Vale is harder to find, grab either one if you are in the mood for a good Rielsing.


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2008 Leitz Rüdesheim Magdalenekreuz Riesling Spatlese

2008 Leitz Rüdesheim Magdalenekreuz Riesling Spatlese

Wine Information –

Region: Rheingau, Germany

Vineyard: Magdalenekreuz, elevation 100 meters to 165 meters

Aging: Sur Lees in Rheingau Oak

Soil: Sandy Loam

Price: $21

leitzlabelMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: touch of petrol, honey and cantaloupe

Taste: peach, honey, stone/slate, “rich”

Mouthfeel: round with nice acidity to backup/combat the richness

Finish: long – with lingering sweetness of honey and minerality

I love Riesling and wish I drank more of it, not sure why I don’t. I tasted this at a trade tasting in New York with hundreds of other Rieslings and the 2008 Leitz Rüdesheim Magdalenekreuz Riesling Spatlese had one of the best QPR’s of the bunch. Great quality Spatlese (actually Auslese but labeled Spatlese), full and rich with nice touches of petrol and stony minerality dancing around great fruit and honey flavors. This has pretty good distribution so you should be able to find it in most cities.


(could only find the 2007 label online)

Categories: $20-$30, riesling, wine review | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2005 Chateau d’ Arcins Haut-Medoc

2005 Chateau d’ Arcins Haut-Medoc

Wine Information –

Region: Bordeaux, Franc

AOC: Haut-Medoc (near Margaux and St. Julien)

Grapes: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 39% Merlot, 1% Cabernet Franc

Price: $23

chateaudarcins2005My Tasting Notes –

Nose: cherry, barnyard, red clay, eucalyptus

Taste: barnyard, red currant, cedar, menthol, porcini mushroom, blackberry

Mouthfeel: full body, great acidic backbone with tight leathery (borderline velvety) tannins

Finish: long with flavors turning to dark fruit and earth overtones

I was really in the mood for a Bordeaux the other night and this really fit the bill, another great Bordeaux from the 2005 vintage. Very approachable but could still go for another 5 years or so, with plenty of fruit, acid and tannins left to mingle with each other and keep developing this wine.


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2006 Hedges Three Vineyards Red Mountain

2006 Hedges Three Vineyards Red Mountain

Wine Information –

Appellation: Red Mountain, Washington

Vineyards: Hedges, Bel Villa, Red Mountain

Grapes: 51% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 4% Syrah

Fermentation: 15 months in 40% new oak consisting of 60% American, 35% French and 5% European

Price: $27

2006hedges_redmountainMy Tasting Notes –

nose: black cherry, leather, raspberry

taste: cassis, boysenberry, vanilla, all spice, cedar, cola

mouthfeel: full body, leathery tannins, good acidity

finish: long with loads of fresh fruit flavors

Nice bottle of wine, although it’s not inexpensive, it is drinking well now but seems as if it will continue to improve for the next 3-5 years. Was looking to get a bit more spice and bell pepper notes from the Cabernet Franc, but I guess 7% wasn’t enough, but I think it was providing the nice acidic backbone.


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2007 Wild Horse Vineyards Pinot Noir

wildhorsepinot2007 Wild Horse Vineyards Pinot Noir

Wine Information

Appellation: Central Coast (Santa Barbara County and San Luis Obispo County)

Grape: 100% Pinot Noir

Cooperage: 10 months in 25% new French Oak

Price: ~ $22

My Tasting Notes

nose: plum, raspberry, cedar and earth

taste: cedar, red currant, wet earth and cherry

mouthfeel: medium body, fair amount of acidity

finish: good long length, fruity

I am hit or miss on Central Coast Pinots most of the time but the Wild Horse Vineyards faired pretty well. The mix of dark and red fruit on the nose and palate with a healthy dose of woody damp forest floor, it was layered and suitably complex. The tannins were nice and velvety, but not lack in structure especially after “they” teamed up with the acid.


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

Don’t be afraid to use your decanter!

I think the process of decanting wines is vastly under utilized by wine drinkers, including me, as even the most basic wine can benefit from a splash in another vessel. The 2006 Ojai Sryah ($29) on the other hand is a wine that NEEDED to be decanted. I was really looking forward to this wine and had big expectations, and was slightly let down by my first sip after about 20 minutes in the decanter. The first glass was good but wasn’t great, the fruit was still a little tight and underwhelming, not balancing with the structure of the wine. That all changed after an hour in the decanter. I mean, the 2006 Ojai Syrah literally exploded with rich dark fruit and black olive goodness.

The Ojai Vineyard website doesn’t offer much information on the vinification of this wine but mentions that they do blend in some Grenache and Mourvedre.

ojaisyrahMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: black currant, roasted meat, fresh strawberry

Taste: black currant, boysenberry, kalamatta olive, bacon and violet

Mouthfeel: full body with loads of black pepper spiciness, tannins were big and powerful but not overwhelming

Finish: long….

A good wine that becomes great after some air exposure and delivers a power packed punch of layered flavors and aromas. The meat notes accompanied by the kalamatta olive notes were unmistakable and were encapsulated by delicious dark berry flavors that went on for some time.


Categories: $20-$30, Syrah, wine review | Tags: , , | 3 Comments