Jacob’s Creek reserve chardonnay review – HOLY FREAKING

29 04 2011

Today we review a 2007 $14 chardonnay from south Australia.

Holy freaking COW this Jacob’s Creek reserve chard is good.  It costs around $14.  If you find it for $20, you should still buy it.  Below, you can read part of a real, grown-up review of this wonderful white wine, from a website that usually requires you to pay in order to benefit from their wisdom. Bring this to a party and everybody who has been choking down California chardonnay will love you.

Much better on the 2nd day after opening, this bargain chard with a real cork from the other side of the world has aromas of butterscotch and tastes fresh, natural, and real — with acidic citrus flavors like lime, balanced by round tropical notes like mango (and some butterscotch). 

More, please! 

Highly recommended, and a “Best Value”.   

Jacob's Creek reserve chardonnay review

From Jancis Robinson.com (I added the emphasis):

“As detailed in Chardonnays – Oz vs the rest, I ended up giving the same relatively enthusiastic score, 16.5 out of 20, to Jacob’s Creek regular Chardonnay 2008 [a $6 value monster that your Wineguider recommended in 2009 form, right here] as to Bruno Colin’s Premier Cru Morgeot 2006 Chassagne-Montrachet [a fine French chardonnay that sells for $50-$80], and gave an even higher score to the Jacob’s Creek Reserve Chardonnay 2008.

The distinguishing mark of the Jacob’s Creek Chardonnays is that Phil Laffer has steered their stylistic evolution in parallel with the dramatic change in the style of the average Australian Chardonnay much higher up the ranks, towards something much leaner and more refreshing. More Chablis than the old heavily oaked monsters. 

The main changes Laffer has made in recent years have been to treat the Chardonnay grapes as though they were fragile Riesling, picking them at night, protecting them assiduously from oxygen, minimising the time between vineyard and winery. Laffer reckons even his regular Chardonnay should last five to six years, ‘which certainly wasn’t the case five years ago’.”

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Ghost Pines merlot at Costco – !$%#@!?!!

21 03 2011

Hi!  Got some news for you. 

Ghost Pines 2007 merlot is $16, at least.   It’s truly delicious, and WELL worth it, as I explained in my review here.   Bright, juicy, fun, flavorful and interesting, it is everything that an affordable California merlot should be.

Right now, a cheaper 2008  is only $12 at Costco.   (?!%$#!!!)  I don’t know if this is simply a new vintage, or if it’s a special version made for Costco.  Anyway the Costco version isn’t as good.  But it’s still good.  It’s less interesting, and extra bright.  One difference is the source of grapes:   The Costco version is 90% Sonoma, 10% Napa.  The 2007 Ghost Pines merlot that I reviewed before is 49% Sonoma, 51% Napa. 

At $16, the “real” Ghost Pines merlot is a screaming buy, and a Best Value.  At $12, this 2008 version is, I don’t know — shrieking?  It is a HUGE Best Value.  BUYBUYBUY!!

Enjoy.





Ghost Pines merlot review: Happy Birthday!

27 02 2011

Today we check out a 2007 merlot from California that cost $16 at the wonderful Premier Wine in Wilmington, Delaware.

This merlot is 51% from Napa and 49% from Sonoma.  Even though it’s a serious merlot that really announces itself in your mouth, this stuff is FUN, baby — a party on your tongue!  Here’s why:  Ghost Pines merlot tastes way better than its price.  It absolutely beats the pants off the $17 Kendall-Jackson 2006 “Jackson Estates Grown” merlot.  Tasting them back-to-back, Ghost Pines makes the KJ seem as though it has literally no taste at all.  Ghost Pines has very adult, responsible California red wine flavors of blackberry, mocha, and spice, and it smells perfect for a California merlot.  And it has warm, moderately strong tannins to suck the moisture out of your mouth, so you know it’s going to be killer with steak.  

At the same time, there’s this tiny, juicy hint of something a little wild.  Is it frosting from one of those $5 premium cupcakes?  Red Stag black cherry bourbon?  A trace of birthday cake?  I don’t know — you’ll have to decide.  And when you do, promise me you’ll come back and tell us what you thought.  Until then, this warm, medium-to-full bodied winner is: 

Ghost Pines merlot reviewHighly recommended, and a Best-Value.





Penfolds Koonunga Hill shiraz cabernet review – STRIKER!

6 01 2011

Today we examine a 2008 southern Aussie blend that you can buy at Costco for $7.69.

This medium-to-full-bodied red smells like a nice cab with some black cherry shiraz notes, but on your tongue it’s jammy blueberry shiraz all the way, balanced by soft tannins and a touch of chocolate.  It’s better on day 2: you get more cabernet, and less alcohol.

And it’s a screamer.  In fact, let me be frank — 

it’s the new value red wine top dog — the big cheese, the head honcho — Penfolds Koonunga Hill shiraz/cab blend is HIGHLY desirable even at $13, and it’s better than many $20 wines I have tried.  It’s warm.  Tilted toward the sweet side of the sweet/dry spectrum.  Big, but won’t overpower most food.  It was the only red served at the hip New Year’s party I attended in posh West Chester, PA, and it beat 14 other reds in my friends’ $15-or-less blind tasting. 

Our past favorites in the red wine value race are narrowly eclipsed by this reliable Godzilla.  Highly recommended, and a blatant “Best Value” red.   Bravo! 

Penfolds Koonunga Hill shiraz cabernet review





Rosemount shiraz review – ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

18 11 2010

Rosemount shiraz reviewTonight your fussy, picky Wineguider reviews a 2008 Australian shiraz that’s only $8 at my local store, and just $6.50 at Total Wine.

What is this, some kind of a joke?

How much, for this jammy plastic explosive?  $6.50??  This big, dark, chewy, fruit and tannin-filled shiraz costs what?

OK if you’re reading this, you probably know what cheap red wine tastes like.  Think about the last time you trusted a good-looking flight attendant who offered you a merlot, and suffered the consequences.  Or the last time you ordered “red wine” at a hotel bar.  Rough.  Bitter.  Weak.  Totally anonymous. Fraudulent. And you paid nine U.S. dollars for one glass of it, didn’t you.

But wait — I can offer you a whole bottle of feel-good, for $6.50 — less than a carwash.  I’m not saying it has huge individual personality.  And it’s not perfect, or layered, or complex.  But it’s SO drinkable, and it’s so cheap, that you can grant yourself forgiveness with it.  Forgiveness for all of those bad drinking decisions at “hip” after-work nightspots (for example).   Just order your favorite Chinese food, and get some Rosemount shiraz.  And get ready for a good time.

Go ahead.  You deserve redemption.  Rosemount is there for you.

At $6.50, or $8, highly recommended.  And, a “Best Value.”  Enjoy!





Da Vinci chianti review – WHAT IS THIS!?

12 11 2010

Da Vinci chianti reviewToday we review a 2008 chianti from Italy (of course), which costs $10 at my local wine store.  However, I’ve seen it for as high as $14.

Holy cow, is this the perfect value-oriented wine?

It may not be terribly cool to love Da Vinci chianti, but I love it.  But only on day 2, after leaving the bottle corked overnight.  To be honest, when first opened, it struck me as generic, slightly too sweet, and lacking any kind of personality.

On day 2 my views changed, so I suggest letting it breathe — even better, pour it into a decanter.  Da Vinci has noticeable, mouth-drying tannins, but less than many other chiantis. It’s juicy, and very friendly for a chianti.  It’s medium-bodied, verging on full-bodied.  Wine geek words like “mouthfilling” come to mind.  It smells like a sweet Marks-A-Lot magic marker.  And it tastes like oak and vanilla, mixed with strawberry, cranberry, blackberry, and a little smoke.  Perfect?  No.  It doesn’t have the sensual complexity or fresh, organic explosion of colors that you get with a truly great wine.   But at this price, it’s damn near perfection.

WOW.  At $10, absolutely unstoppable.  This crowd pleaser is easily a “Best Value” winner.  Recommended!





Five Rivers cabernet: OH MY GOD

4 11 2010

This review has been updated here.

Five Rivers cabernet sauvignon, which normally goes for $11 or more and was recommended by your Wineguider here, is now selling for $8.99 at Total Wine and, I’m told, at Wegmans.  Thereby CATAPULTING it into “Best Value” status.  Juicy, yet packing a dry punch full of tannins, it’s not as full-bodied as some other cabs, but it does almost nothing wrong.

Is there another $9 cabernet sauvignon on planet Earth that is this good?  I DON’T KNOW.

Are any red wines this good, at $9?  Yes:  Mark West pinot noir, and super-tannic Zestos especial.  But they have strong personalities that prevent them from being budget crowd-pleasers. Five Rivers is generic enough that almost anybody can enjoy it.  Admittedly, this is also its downfall: it can be kind of plain.  And maybe a little sweet for a “real” cabernet sauvignon.

But at this price, I don’t know of any cabernet that comes close.  To my budget red wine drinking friends – enjoy!