Vigneto Edoardo montepulciano review

3 09 2013

Today we look at a 2008 100% montepulciano from Abruzzo, Italy.  I picked it up at Premiere Wine in Delaware for $35.

Whoa.  This is one of those “serious” wines that makes you pause.

What do I have here?

What exactly is going on? Read the rest of this entry »

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Boedecker Cellars “Stewart” pinot noir review

5 12 2012

Boedecker Cellars pinot noir reviewToday, it’s a 2009 pinot noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon, which I purchased online for $34.

I have a crush on Athena Pappas.  Unfortunately, today’s pinot noir is named after her HUSBAND, Stewart Read the rest of this entry »





Siduri Sierra Mar Vineyard pinot noir review

23 11 2012

Today we review a 2010 pinot noir from California’s Santa Lucia Highlands.  I bought it tonight for $45.

Pinot noir often delivers elegant, light-on-its feet and earthy layers of spicy red fruit.  The more you pay, the more elegance and complexity you usually get, and sometimes, the less “light on its feet” the wine gets, which can be wonderful.

This medium-bodied pinot from Siduri‘s Sierra Mar vineyard is giving me strong Read the rest of this entry »





Chateau Garraud 2009 Bordeaux review: SEX LACK

9 09 2012

Today we review a $35 Bordeaux from Total Wine.

Dry.  Tight.  Serious.  Great texture and mouth-feel.  Chateau Garraud isn’t fooling around.  It is 69% merlot, 26% cabernet franc, and 5% cabernet sauvignon.  It smells of earth and alcohol, with traces of blackberries and licorice.  The taste:  lots of mouth-drying tannins and oak.  Faint traces of rhubarb and tart cranberry.   Not much fruit.  It’s elegant, and extremely subtle, but not very friendly.  The taste is so tight that it’s hard to appreciate what little complexity is being offered.

If you want a good example of the austere, no-nonsense reds from Bordeaux, Chateau Garraud 2009 is a nice choice, if you aren’t worried about the price.  But for $35, I want either more sex appeal, more flat-out delicious taste, or more complexity.  Although it is very good, at $35 I believe it is simply overpriced.

Not recommended.

EDIT:  I also tried the previous vintage.  The 2008 was much cheaper, at around $20, but was also much less drinkable than the 2009 reviewed here, with literally no fruit and not much else to redeem it.  Not a viable purchase.





La Crema Russian River pinot noir review: DAMMIT!

13 08 2011

Today we look at a 2009 pinot from California that costs $32-$40.  I found it at Total Wine for $36.

La Crema has been making good pinot noir for a long time.  They have various “levels” of pinot, including Sonoma Coast, Anderson Valley, Monterey (which we reviewed right here), and Russian River (today’s wine under review).  Prices for these varieties range from $17  to $90.  Ouch. 

The $36 Russian River pinot is ballsy.  Medium bodied, verging on full bodied.  Crack it open and buckle up — tart spices are about to invade your taste buds.  But first, when you smell it, you’ll get a nose full of clove and cinnamon, along with a brambly garden aroma of roses and mushrooms. 

On your tongue, there isn’t much cherry, which I usually expect from a California pinot noir.  Instead, there’s cola, alcohol, tart blackberry, and a kind of spicy pine forest taste with espresso-ish tannins.  It’s hard to describe.  It’s that “complex, beautiful-yet-kickass expensive California pinot” taste.  And it’s calling you back for more.  Dammit!

Recommended.





Van Der Heyden cabernet sauvignon review

10 08 2011

Hi!  TodayVan Der Heyden cabernet we break all the rules here at Wineguider by reviewing a 2002 Napa Valley cabernet that you probably can’t find at your local store.  Why?  Because it saved my Napa Valley wine tasting trip.  It cost me $50, but the price is $60 these days.

When you visit Napa, it’s all very beautiful, but after several wineries you begin to realize something:  many of the reds taste similar.  Cabernet, merlot, zinfandel, syrah, sometimes even pinot noir, all have this typical oaky California thing. 

Not Van Der Heyden.  We arrived at their tiny operation after enjoying two full days of sumptuous country clubbish dark-wooded wine bars.  The tasting room at Van Der Heyden was a trailer.  Hound dogs lay on the porch.  Cats roamed.  I started whistling the theme from Sanford & Son.  Should we even get out of the car?  We took a chance and went in.  Soon, a short Dutchman appeared and started talking very fast.  I could understand his longer-than-usual aging process, and a few other things, as he explained, basically, “here is why we make the best wine.”  Oh really, I thought. 

Then, as I realized we were speaking with Mr. Van Der Heyden, I tasted his merlot.  “Hmmm… wow.”  And the chardonnay.  “Jesus.”  (I usually hate California chardonnay.)  Then the cabernet sauvignon, the subject of this review:  Rich.  Different.  Exciting.  Like a warm raspberry, cranberry and rhubarb pie, it was not a dry red, but it wasn’t blatantly sweet either.  It had moderate tannins, with restrained oak.  He was right.  This was the best red wine we tasted on that trip.  Including the fancy tasting at Beringer, where you sample their $100-plus bottles.  Van Der Heyden’s cab was 50 bucks.  And it rocked, because it had a complexity all its own.  I hereby award it a “Best of the Best” designation.  Finally, his cabernet dessert wine (“Late Harvest”) was out of control.  Pornographic.  So good, I feared chronic addiction, especially because its price was over $100.

It’s pretty hard to find this wine, because it is sold mostly right out of that trailer.  And through their mailing list.  If you want something special, call them at 800-948-WINE and order a bottle (and maybe that dessert wine).  I think you’ll be glad you did.  

Highly recommended.





Chateau Montelena chardonnay review

28 04 2011

Today it’s a 2007 California chardonnay that will cost you $40 at Total Wine, up to $50 elsewhere.

This wine is famous.  It comes from a Napa Valley winery that was founded in 1882.  (That’s not a typo.)  Chateau Montelena is also THE white wine that put California whites on the map — in 1976, the 1973 vintage of this wine stunned everybody by trampling a bunch of great French whites to win the Paris Tasting, a/k/a the Judgement of Paris.

So, this 2007 chardonnay has a lovely floral aroma.  It tastes like an extremely elegant version of the familiar California chardonnay.  The  typical super-oak quality is replaced by subtle notes of oak.  The typical buttery thing is replaced by smoothness, a really pleasant mouthfeel.  Besides that unfortunate “California chard” taste, you get hints of mellow pineapple, vanilla, and a spicy, minerally finish.  It has a LOT of character, so it should be paired with something spicy or bold.  It is crying out, “spicy chicken dish” to me right now.

However, this wine is $40 at Total Wine, and costs more just about everywhere else.  With its pedigree, it should be expensive, but I would not pay $40 again for it.  Then again, most California chardonnays hit me with an unnatural, weird kind of non-wine flavor, so I admit that I am not a neutral judge of this animal.  (No other wines do this, and I love chardonnays from other parts of the world.)  I say, there are much more satisfying white wines you can buy for around $25.  However, if you are living in a Groundhog Day-like cycle of California chardonnays and only California chardonnays, then you should definitely check out Chateau Montelena, because it’s one of the best.

Not recommended.