Marques de Casa Concha carmenere review

13 02 2016

Hi there! Today we look at a 2013 carmenere from Chile, which I picked up at Costco for $18.

This can be quick, folks.  Although Marques de Casa Concha has a very nice aroma and is full bodied, with excellent mouth feel and a good balance of dark red/dark purple fruit vs. gentle spiciness, it is…. a little sour.

Because of that sour kick, I don’t recommend this one.  Maybe next year!

carmenere





Carnivor cabernet and Fabula Riserva sangiovese review

4 10 2015

Hi there people! Hope life is going well.  I’ve been taking a break from writing wine reviews, but I had to come back and … well it sounds bad, but I had to warn you against buying this particular cabernet.  I tried Carnivor cabernet at Costco because it was $9 or $10 and they said other stores sell it for $15.  As it turns out, Read the rest of this entry »





Wild Haven reserve vs. BV Napa merlot shootout

1 06 2014

Today we pit the 2010 Wild Haven reserve merlot from Horse Heaven Hills in Washington State ($13) against the BV Napa Valley 2011 merlot ($16).

Whew.  These merlots were not easy to taste.  Both had unripe green vegetable flavors.  Both tasted sour.  Both make you feel like you have been really sick for a few weeks and you’re just now Read the rest of this entry »





Decoy merlot vs. Purple malbec shootout

21 05 2014

This is the debut of the new Wineguider:  all comparison shootouts, all the time.

Today, we compare:

– Decoy, a 2012 merlot from California’s Sonoma County, $19 at Costco

vs.

– Purple, a 2011 malbec from France, $15 at the local wine shop.

Aroma Read the rest of this entry »





Abbeyville reserve cabernet review

13 12 2013

Tonight we check out a 2011 cabernet from Napa Valley, California that  I bought at Total Wine for $20.

We have noted that most 2011 and 2010 cabernets from the West Coast are not so great.  The question is, could Abbeyville reserve buck that trend? Read the rest of this entry »





Clean Slate riesling mini-review

5 12 2013

Tonight we check out a 2011 riesling from Mosel, Germany that I bought for $12.

OK this one is interesting.  Riesling can be teeth-shatteringly sweet, but Clean Slate strikes a nice balance.  The label is cool.  The “slate” in the name promises minerality.  Hey, I love minerality.  And alcohol is 10.5%.  That’s more than some rieslings, which can have as little as 7.5% alcohol. Read the rest of this entry »





Domaine Des Quatre Vents Fleurie (red burgundy) review: TOTAL WINE! WHY ARE YOU CHARGING $22 FOR THIS!?

16 11 2013

Today we look at a 2010 red from Fleurie, in France’s Burgundy region.  I bought it at Total Wine for $22.

This wine is a nice choice for Thanksgiving.  It’s not too strong, it has a good balance between light tannins and mild fruitiness (i.e. it’s not bone-dry) and it has flavors of black tea, nutmeg and cranberry, unique compared to American reds.  Even with these interesting flavors and some minerality, it’s not a Read the rest of this entry »





Paso Ranches cabernet sauvignon review

19 10 2013

Tonight it’s a 2012 cabernet from California’s Paso Robles area that goes for $20 at Total Wine.

California’s 2012 vintage was supposedly excellent, so I keep picking up their 2012 reds as I find them.  As I write this in October 2013, so far I’ve been disappointed.  Obviously, the good stuff is still in oak barrels. Read the rest of this entry »





Chateau Guibon Bordeaux review

17 09 2013

Today we examine a 2009 red from France’s Bordeaux region, which goes for $14.99 at Total Wine.

OK I am not sure what Total Wine is thinking here, but I know what I’m thinking.  This wine is Read the rest of this entry »





Butterfield Station cabernet sauvignon review

2 09 2013

Today we check out a 2012 cabernet from the ????? area of California (meaning, the label just says California).  I bought it at Total Wine for $10.

I have high hopes for the 2012 wines we are starting to see from North America, because of various reports that have said it was a particularly good growing season.

But I’m not sure that Butterfield Station cabernet is typical of what 2012 wines will bring us.  Although it is smooth and refreshingly Read the rest of this entry »





Cruz Alta reserve cabernet sauvignon review

2 09 2013

Next, it’s a 2012 cabernet from Argentina that sells for $12 at  Total Wine.

Similar to its reserve malbec brother, the 2012 reserve cabernet from Cruz Alta is an attractive wine in the glass.  It has a better aroma than the reserve malbec, featuring vanilla, blackberry and herbs.  And, the cab is $3 cheaper than the $15 reserve malbec.

However, Read the rest of this entry »





Cruz Alta reserve malbec review

2 09 2013

Today we check out a 2012 malbec from Mendoza, Argentina that I bought at Total Wine for $14.99.

As we close the summer of 2013, malbec has been a hottie among reds in the U.S. for a few years.  And rightly so — appealing dark red or even purple juice with conviction, malbec from South America has a subtle sophistication about it that belies its usually affordable price.  It can lack complexity, but that’s forgivable in the $9-$15 price range where it is often found.

This reserve malbec doesn’t do much of anything wrong. Read the rest of this entry »





Christian Salmon Sancerre review

24 08 2013

Today it’s a 2012 sauvignon blanc from France’s Sancerre region that goes for about $20.

Ahh, the French.  They still won’t tell me what WINE I’m drinking.  This being from Sancerre, it’s probably sauvignon blanc.

And it’s good.  Far better than the super-tart Cupcake sauvignon blanc from New Zealand.  But then again, it’s $20.  Cupcake is $8. Read the rest of this entry »





Kirkland Russian River pinot noir review

24 08 2013

Today it’s a 2012 pinot noir from California’s Russian River Valley that goes for about $12 at Costco.

This pinot has a lot going for it:

  • the price is low,
  • it’s Russian River,
  • it is not “all cherry all the time” as many affordable California pinots are, and Read the rest of this entry »




Kendall-Jackson cabernet sauvignon review UPDATE

13 08 2013

Today we update our review of a California cabernet that sells for around $18.

I praised the 2007 K-J cabernet in this little review right here, in which I laid down a gauntlet by actually guaranteeing that you would like it.  And I stand by that.  The problem is, the 2007 is long gone and we now have to contend with the 2010.

Now, things get a bit touchy.  If you have read my U.S. CABERNET REPORT: SPRING 2013, you know that Read the rest of this entry »





Cruz Alta reserve malbec: Tale of Two Vintages

9 05 2013

This is a quickie review of a malbec from Mendoza, Argentina which sells for about $15.

The 2009 Cruz Alta reserve malbec is a very welcome reprieve from today’s California reds.  It tastes real.  Fresh.  Juicy but deep and dark, and not too sweet.  A perfect Read the rest of this entry »





U.S. CABERNET REPORT: Spring 2013

27 04 2013

I’ve noticed a funny thing with cabernet this year.  That being, I can’t find one that I like.  So we set up a shootout and recently tried these 2010-2011 cabernet sauvignons, over a period of two consecutive nights.  Listed in no particular order:





Morgan “Twelve Clones” Santa Lucia Highlands pinot noir review

20 04 2013

Today we look at a 2011 pinot noir from California’s Santa Lucia Highlands (“SLH”) region, which I picked up at Total Wine for $26.  List price is $32.

California’s SLH grows mostly pinot noir.  On the bright side, these wines are “big, fleshy and mouthfilling,” says the San Francisco Chronicle.  But to me, they are too hot (high in alcohol), too fruity and tannic, and often taste burned.  An example:  the inexplicably expensive Siduri Sierra Mar, reviewed here.

In short:  I am biased against SLH pinot.

Morgan‘s “Twelve Clones” pinot is pleasantly spicy.  It has 14.3% alcohol, yet isn’t overly hot. Read the rest of this entry »





Gran Crucero Limited Edition red blend review

7 04 2013

Today it’s a 2009 red blend from Chile that costs $30 at total wine.

I am not going to dis this wine — at 14.5% alcohol, 45% cabernet sauvignon, 35% syrah and 20% carmenere, it is one big, spicy meat-o-ball. Read the rest of this entry »





Heavyweight cabernet sauvignon review UPDATE

16 03 2013

We reviewed the 2007 Heavyweight cabernet right here, and concluded that it’s a recommended wine.

Now it’s the 2010 Heavyweight, which is $12 at Total Wine and still features 1800’s-style drawings of various boxers like “Bob the Bruiser” on the labels, which vary from bottle to bottle.  And so, what is the decision on the 2010 vintage?  Read the rest of this entry »





Coastline Reserve cabernet sauvignon review

20 02 2013

Tonight we look at a 2011 cabernet from California’s Paso Robles area that sells for $12-$13.

I sometimes use the phrase “California goulash” to describe that generic taste you get from so many of California’s affordable red wines.  Coastline’s regular cabernet ($6-$9) fits this term perfectly, but this reserve version Read the rest of this entry »





Menage a Trois pinot noir review

9 02 2013

Today as we approach Valentine’s Day, we check out a 2011 pinot noir from California that sells at Total Wine for $16.

Menage a Trois.   Ahhhh… such a provocative name.  And such a history of good value in red Read the rest of this entry »





Cult cabernet sauvignon review

26 01 2013

Today we review a Napa Valley cabernet that sells at Total Wine for $27.  It is non-vintage, meaning its grapes come from various years’ harvests.  It is 14.8% alcohol.

So — “cult” wines are those rare few captivating bottles – usually red – that make rich winos spend days looking for them, and then fork over seriously big bucks for their heavenly goodness.  Does Cult cabernet sauvignon live up to the lofty goal of its name? Read the rest of this entry »





Cameron Hughes Lot 404 cabernet sauvignon review

23 12 2012

This 2010 red is from Napa Valley’s Stag’s Leap district, one of the Rolls Royce wine areas in California.  It cost me $27 but routinely sells for $22-$25.

Nice to drink, with a very pleasing, medium-bodied mouthfeel — Cameron Hughes Lot 404 cab says “friendly” more than 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 »





Bogle Phantom review: UPDATE

11 11 2012

I drooled all over the 2007 Phantom in my “holy cow” review, right here.

However, the current vintage (2008) has lost that loving feeling.  I am sitting here trying to Read the rest of this entry »





Bridlewood cabernet sauvignon review

5 11 2012

Tonight we check out a 2009 cabernet from California’s Paso Robles area, which goes for about $13 at Total Wine and more elsewhere.

Bridlewood cab has some big things going for it.  The label rocks.  I mean, you look at it, and you just WANT this wine.  Plus, it’s only Read the rest of this entry »





Cono Sur merlot: MINI REVIEW

7 10 2012

Today it’s a 2010 merlot from Chile that costs around $10.

Cono Sur is impressive when you first open it — dark, rich, with an earthy, manly taste.  Blacker-than-black blackberries.  Smoky leather.  Plum and maybe a touch of prune.  Spicy and dry for a merlot — in fact, it almost seems like a juicy carmenere.

The problem is, for me, Cono Sur is a tad bitter.  A situation that did not improve on day 2.  I like this winery’s bicycle theme though, and I want the reserva now!  Unfortunately, this one is:

Not recommended.





Kendall-Jackson Avant chardonnay review

23 09 2012

I purchased this 2010 California chardonnay at Costco for $11.

As you may know, I am not a huge fan of California chards.  Kendall-Jackson’s relatively new Avant chardonnay has less of the chemistry-experiment taste than their regular chardonnay, and less oak and butter.  From the front label:  “Fresh.  Crisp.  Clean.”  Read the rest of this entry »





Apothic Red wine review: Newwww, Worrrrrldd, Mannnnnnn

21 09 2012

Today it’s a 2010 California red blend that you can buy at Costco for just under $9.

Quick lowdown:  Very cool black and red bottle, very popular, a warm, sweet blend of  syrah, zinfandel, cabernet and merlot.  Smells like Read the rest of this entry »





Jacob’s Creek reserve cabernet sauvignon mini review

15 09 2012

Here’s a quickie for you:  Jacob’s Creek 2009 reserve cab is just $10.50 at Total Wine.

Although it had a nice texture, this wine from Australia’s Coonawarra region was too sweet for my tastes, and didn’t really taste like a cabernet.  I wanted to like it, because their reserve shiraz is very good for the money.  Unfortunately, Jacob’s Creek 2009 reserve cabernet is:

Not recommended.





Veramonte Reserva cabernet sauvignon review: WHAT THE?

10 09 2012

Today it’s a 2008 cabernet sauvignon from Chile’s Colchagua Valley that I bought at Total Wine for $9.99.

Uhh… not sure what’s going on here.  I mean, Veramonte is a good name — I’ve had some very good whites from this label, and I’ve heard positive things about it from people I trust.

But this wine 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.





Radius cabernet sauvignon review

3 07 2012

Hi!  Tonight we review one of Total Wine’s popular selections, a Washington cabernet from 2010 that cost me $8.99.

Radius has two things going for it:  it’s inexpensive, and very sweet and gentle.   So if you are serving a younger drinker, or somebody who “hates red wine,” this might be a winner.

Unfortunately, that bubblegum sweetness was the downfall of Radius for me.  Without significant  aromas, mouthfeel, tannins or taste of a typical cabernet to offset the sugar shock, Radius cabernet encourages me to put down the glass.  It is:

Not recommended.





Anakena sauvignon blanc UPDATE review

3 07 2012

I praised the 2009 Anakena sauv blanc here.

Unfortunately, it is no longer recommended, or a Best Value.  It tastes fine, but the current 2011 doesn’t grab me like the 2009 did.   Waltz two feet down the aisle at Total Wine and pick up Cupcake 2011 sauv blanc for just $7.97, two pennies cheaper and better than our old friend Anakena.

Not recommended.





Five Rivers cabernet UPDATE review

3 07 2012

A quick update on Five Rivers cabernet sauvignon.   I praised the 2007 vintage here and here.

Unfortunately, the current Five Rivers (2009) is no longer recommended here at Wineguider.  It is also no longer a Best Value.  It’s not terrible, but it just has too much of that “cheap red wine” taste.  That’s a deal-killer for me.

Sadly — not recommended.





Ropiteau pinot noir review

27 06 2012

Today we check out a 2010 pinot noir from France (Pays d’Oc) which sells at Total Wine for $8.99.

Ropiteau, which I have only seen at Total Wine, is a big deal.  Why?  Because it is a pinot noir, it’s cheap, and it doesn’t taste terrible.

The current vintage (2010) is a very close call, but I can’t say it’s really floating my boat.  It doesn’t do anything terribly wrong — an aroma of spicy cinnamon and black fruit, and alcohol.   It’s medium bodied, beefier than many other low-priced (and lightweight) pinot noirs.  It tastes like leathery black cherries.   But it is not calling out to me, “Wineguider!  Drink more of me!”  At this low price point (actually a dollar cheaper), the Cloud Break pinot noir, reviewed here, is your go-to bottle.

Ropiteau pinot noir is a good value, but the 2010 vintage is:

Not recommended.





Francis Ford Coppola Rosso at Bertucci’s

14 05 2012

Continuing our Italian restaurant experience, here’s a 2010 red blend from California that Bertucci’s sells for $7.50 a glass / $29 a bottle. It was paired with their Eggplant Napoleone.
 
The Coppola Rosso is a blend of zinfandel (33%), syrah (26%), cabernet (25%) and petite sirah (17%). Whoa — look at those grapes.  But instead of a serious steak wine, the winery says it is intended as a lighter, sweeter red for casual dining.  And that’s what it is.  Likely to appeal to younger drinkers, for me it was a little too jammy, with vanilla and a dusty zinfandel zing.  
 
But!  Bertucci’s Michael Cropper and Chad Phillips paired it with a lovely modern caprese salad, featuring eggplant roasted in their famous brick oven, plum tomatoes and fresh mozzarella all drizzled with a balsamic glaze incorporating pesto without nuts, for those of you with allergies.  The croutons were too crunchy,  but no matter — Eggplant Napoleone rocks, and it made the Rosso shine. 

I don’t recommend the wine alone, but I do recommend this pairing.  This dish would also go very nicely with a pinot noir (Bertucci’s offers the delicious Estancia pinot, which I praised here).





Kirkland Signature Cotes du Rhone Villages review

22 04 2012

Today we review a 2010 Cotes du Rhone from Kirkland Signature (Costco’s brand) which sells for the low price of $7.

I am a fan of the Kirkland label — many times, I have been astounded by the quality of the products carrying this simple all-capital-letters logo.  And that includes wine.

In this case, the dark purple juice that flows into your glass looks beautiful and has a nice subtle aroma of red fruits and flowers.  The taste is certainly not terrible — yes, it’s a little too sweet, and yes it’s very simple, but these things can be forgiven at $7.   What kills it for me is that it sort of tastes like Welch’s grape juice.  Just a little weird, just a little “off.”  Unfortunately, this bargain-priced Costco red is:

Not recommended.





Sebastiani cabernet sauvignon review: No-brainer?

20 04 2012

Hi!  Today we examine a 2009 cabernet from Sonoma, California.  It’s $11 at Costco and Total Wine, and sells for up to $16 elsewhere.

Eleven bucks for a good name like Sebastiani!  A no-brainer, right?

A reasonable answer is “yes,” but for me, it’s no.  Here’s why: Generic California Red Wine Taste.  Mass-produced.  Oaky-sweet.  Actually, it’s not bad — a little spicy, smells like rhubarb pie, and has good mouthfeel with blueberry and reminders of cherry, raspberry, cocoa and cinnamon on your tongue.  At a modest 13.5% alcohol, this would work at a barbecue or with pizza.  And if you’re throwing an upscale party, but don’t have an upscale budget, you might stock up on Sebastiani cab, because it looks upscale.

Unfortunately, the taste is a little too sweetly generic for me.  Although your party guests may very well enjoy it, this competent 2009 California red is:

Not recommended.





Fake wine blog “Best Pinot Noir”: Worst Thing On The Internet?

6 01 2012

The wine “reviews” site called Best Pinot Noir appears to be a website run by wine.com, which allows any producer of pinot noir to pay $10 in order to have a favorable “wine review” posted.   No comments are permitted. 

Let’s be clear.  It’s just a collection of ads.  But it looks, and reads, like a friendly, good-humored home-made wine blog.  The list of ads on the right is even titled, “Pinot noir reviews.”  Nice. 

My favorite statement on the website is this:  “We went with Big Fire, a Pinot Noir out of Washington state.”  Ahhhh, yeah.  Big Fire is from Oregon.  Worse, the large photo of the label, right next to these words, shows “OREGON PINOT NOIR” in big capital letters.  Who wrote this?  Some idiot at wine.com? 

What a crass, reprehensible pile of crap.  Can “best cabernet” and “best merlot” be far behind?





Yellow Tail reserve shiraz review

4 01 2012

Today we examine a 2010 Australian shiraz that sells for $10. 

I’ve heard this reserve is good, so I was excited to try it.   It has a nice “berry” aroma, and in the mouth it feels dense, with a texture that is almost thick, or viscous.  It is pretty darn sweet, with blueberry, huckleberry, maybe a little blackberry.  Some mild spice in the background.  The label says “cherry” as well, which I didn’t get. 

You may like it, but the problem for me is, Yellow Tail reserve shiraz is boring.  Generic.  It tastes “fine,” but I wouldn’t buy it again.   Especially with Jacob’s Creek reserve shiraz in this price territory, and Koonunga Hill even cheaper.

Not bad, but not recommended.





Layer Cake shiraz review

1 01 2012

Today we check out a  2010 Australian shiraz that is $13 at Total Wine, $12-$15 most other places.

Have you ever shopped for speakers?  Some of them have a “wow” or “hell yeah!” factor that grabs you in the store.  But later, you realize the “wow” is just hyped-up treble or bass, and they become unacceptable over time.

That’s similar to Layer Cake shiraz for me.  The first sniff is a wow — blueberry shortcake — and the first taste is another — like red wine combined with one of those jelly bar desserts from middle school.  But after a few sips, there comes a realization:  uh-oh, this wine is just too sweet. 

Compared with the cheaper and fairly delicious Jacob’s Creek 2008 reserve shiraz (only $10), Layer Cake loses.  Restaurants may want to consider Layer Cake, because with this name, everybody is going to want to try it.  But for us home gamers, this shiraz is:

Not recommended.

P.S.  For a very different view, and a potential primer on everything that is wrong with wine reviews in America, try this, which states that Layer Cake tastes like “melted” licorice, “crushed” black currants, and also has “intense dry extract” (WTF?). Then there’s the color:  “Layer Cake Shiraz is a tremendously dense blackish-red color with a deep opaque purplish core going out into a fine violet-fuchsia rim definition with super high painted viscosity.”





Apex Ascent cabernet sauvignon review: […..]

25 12 2011

Today we check out a 2009 cabernet from Washington State’s Columbia Valley, which you can get at Total Wine for $16.  It looks like just “Apex,” because the word “ascent” is printed very small.

My first reaction to this Washington cab was . . . drum roll, please . . . no reaction.  I couldn’t taste it.  Or smell it.  I found this to be very strange.  However, it had a nice texture. 

On day 2, I could sort of taste it.  Not too sweet.  Not an excess of tannins.  Dark in color.  Maybe some blackberry.  But what are my affirmative comments and opinions about its taste?  Still, almost nothing.   It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t buy it again at this price.  Maybe  Total Wine has spoiled the experience for me by asking too much.

Not recommended.





Ruffino prosecco sparkling wine review

24 12 2011

Here’s a $15 non-vintage prosecco from Italy, which I obtained from Costco.

This Ruffino is an extra dry sparkling white wine.  The label says that it is creamy and crisp, with hints of peach and golden apples.

I disagree.  I say it is massively over-carbonated, and produces loud, extended belching.  As for its flavor, I can’t tell, because of the Colorado-rapids rush of foam in my mouth.  After various efforts to reduce the carbonation, which your New Years Eve guests will not be able to replicate, I conclude that this is an average, OK-tasting sparkling white wine.  Meaning, it tastes roughly like salty apple cider. 

Like most sparkling wines and champagnes under $300, this prosecco is:

Not recommended.





Hogue cabernet sauvignon review: INTRIGUE FATIGUE FOR YOUR TONGUE

19 08 2011

Hi!  In response to overwhelming demand from you, the faithful readers of Wineguider, tonight we kick off a special series of reviews examining affordable cabernets that have one-word names beginning with the letter H.

First in line:  Hogue, from Washington State’s Columbia Valley.  This 2008 cab is just $8 at Total Wine, but often goes for $10.  While it’s a bit on the light side for a cabernet, a light cab could be wonderful.  Let’s find out.

Hogue smells nice.  You get cloves, a nice “fertile soil” smell, and some cranberry-ish red fruit.  But in your mouth, the familiar red fruit and tannins leave you with a slightly tinny aftertaste.  Unusual, but quickly tiring.  Worse, this wine is actually hard to taste.  It’s a bit generic.  Hogue is vague. 

I love the price, but this Washington value cabernet is:

Not recommended.





Plungerhead zinfandel review: WHOA, DOGGY!

15 08 2011

Today it’s a 2009 old vine zinfandel from California’s Lodi area, which costs about $19.

This is a big one!!  The label is awesome: a guy with a plunger on his head.  It’s pretty hot when first opened, meaning, it smells and tastes of alcohol (it is 14.9% alcohol).  It’s also pretty darn spicy.  That’s a good thing.  More good stuff:  the medium-to-full-bodied texture is wonderful, and there is some nice complexity on your tongue that says HEY, this wine is better than a $9.99 special. 

In your nose, there is a bit more “rhubarb pie” sweetness than actually greets your taste buds.  Meaning, Plungerhead tastes more dry and balanced than it smells.

The problem is, for $19, I just didn’t warm up to the dense, spicy blueberry, rhubarb and eucalyptus flavors, as nicely put together as they are.  At $12, this would clearly get a recommendation from your Wineguider.  Although this zin with the big impact is obviously high quality, my picky, cranky self has decided that it is:

Not recommended.





Shotfire shiraz review: DEBT LIMIT TONIC

28 07 2011

Hi!!  Tonight, as the United States dissolves into default on its obligations, we review an Australian shiraz from 2008 that costs $20 at Total Wine.

Well, well, well.  Here’s a delicious shiraz.  Importantly, for tonight’s governmental festivities, it has a stout 15% alcohol.  It’s spicy.  Dense.  Big.  Loaded with dry tobacco and juicy blueberries.  And yes!  Some chocolate.

HERE’S THE PROBLEM.  I’m drinking Shotfire together with another little Aussie shiraz from 2009 that I like to call, “Rosemount” (reviewed here).  It’s really good.  Although sorely lacking in House/Senate anesthetic potency — it has a meager 13.5% alcohol — it is in fact beautifully dense, warm, juicy, and spicy.  And it costs a big, fat, $6.50 at Total Wine.  Ha!  Less than 1/3rd the cost of Shotfire. 

Although Shotfire is clearly better, with more complexity, more transparency to its flavor, and more dry “snap” in your mouth to accompany its juicy warmth, it’s not 3 times better than Rosemount.  I’m not even sure it’s 2 times better.  So, it’s just too expensive.   Shotfire, at $20, although very nice to drink, is unfortunately:

Not recommended.





Norton merlot review: hell, the FALL will probably kill you

21 07 2011

Today we review a 2008 merlot from Mendoza Argentina, which cost me $9.

The smooth and soft texture of this merlot is lovely.  Its deep, dark ruby red color makes your mouth water.  And the label is very classy — at only $9, it looks like a $45 wine.  That can help a guy who’s making dinner for his date.

However, you’ll want your date to actually drink her wine.  Norton is OK, with a cigar-chomping / Anthony Quinn take on the usual merlot taste, but it’s not quite “good.”  There’s some Cheap Red Wine taste in there.  A little bitter, and hot, meaning you can really taste the 13.5% alcohol.

Although it has some nice leather and spicy-hot tobacco, Norton merlot from Argentina isn’t warm, comfortable and merlot-ish enough for me to encourage you to take the plunge.

Not recommended.  Maybe I should try something from Bolivia.





Oyster Bay merlot review: YES OYSTER!

19 07 2011

Today we review a 2007 merlot from New Zealand that costs around $13.

This glass of medium-bodied Oyster Bay merlot really reminds me of the beach.  Not a pristine white sand / blue water beach, but a fishing beach.  Lots of thick rope, metal buckets, and shellfish.

I guess what I’m saying is, this merlot is salty.  It has a hint of black olives.  It’s also minerally, and woody.   Maybe a little bitter, in a good way?  It’s interesting, and would go well with salty food, or a good book on the deck of a beach house.   But at $13, I want a little more composed and smooth delivery of merlot warmth.  I don’t think it will make most merlot drinkers super happy.  And so, it is unfortunately:

Not recommended.