Friday, April 27, 2007

Holy Hollick!

Woo hoo!!! finally passed grape-girl on the wine blog voting site - and my (male) buddies said they would vote for her and not me...something about her being better looking than me?
And, thank you for all your support - you know who you are.
Tonights wine got a "96" from a wine rating site I have had good luck with. So I ordered half a dozen bottles, one for each of the next 6 years. The Hollick, Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, 2002 is a black wine with a black stained cork. So far, so good. The nose is not that aromatic (koko called it "chocolate brick". huh?). Rather medium bodied, it has fine tannins that do not whack the palate. The first sip mimicked a joosy shiraz, but it quickly became dirty (earthy). I can't make my mind up - it is definitely not a wow wine in this state of development, and it is definitely not a crap wine...I give it a "good". It will be interesting to see how it develops, but I have this sneaking suspicion it is already on the slippery downslope to mediocrity....
Value? Just "ok" in the low $20's.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Three Toros To Go

When I saw the Concha y Toro, Marques de Casa Concha, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pneumo, 2005 I had to have one to compare with the merlot and syrah I recently tasted. Unfortunately, this one was an '05 and the others were '04's.
Anyway, this is another well made effort. It is classic cabernet, cassis on the nose, dry and tannic on the palate. Medium bodied. It got better as it opened up. Finish is a bit short. I give it a "good", but it is not in the same ballpark as the '04 merlot and not as good as the syrah. OK for value at $20, this will be a good food wine.
Of interest, here is a picture of the three corks. Guess which was by far the best wine (in my most humble opinion...). Yup, the black cork was the merlot. The weakest stained cork was the cab. Hey, I didn't expect it to end this way - but this is no sissy merlot.
Well, there you have it. Buy as much of the merlot as you can find! If you can't find it, buy the syrah. If you can't find that, the cab won't disappoint you.


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Celebrity Night

So, do all those famous people that buy vineyards rely on their name recognition to sell the plonk or do they actually make good stuff? Well, we decided to find out. The hard part was choosing which 3 whites and which 3 reds to have a go at - the reds to choose from are pictured above (the whites were in the fridge). So: race car driver, actor, rock star, singer, movie director, golfers...whose wine reigns supreme?
For the whites, all five tasters made it a clean sweep for their favourite - a French singer, Francis Cabrel, makes a pretty sipper called Vins d'Enchanson, Prestige, Edition Speciale, 2004 from the Cotes du Thongue. This is made from rousanne/marsanne, is off-dry with smooth fruits and it made a perfect "sit around the table drinking in the sun wine". We rated it "Good", and fair value at $20 or so. The movie director Francis Ford Coppola makes the Coppola, Diamond Collection, Gold Label Chardonnay, 2oo5. This came in second, was also rated "Good" but was so-so value at $25. This is a Chardonnay for all you haters of over-oaked buttery Chards; this was not a fat wine by any stretch of the imagination - in fact, I found it a little thin. Unfortunately pro golfer Mike Weir didn't make the cut (kinda like his season last year) with the Weir Estate Winery, Sauvignon Blanc, 2006. It wasn't bad, had the requisite lemon grassy nose and dry, fruity mouthfeel, but the tasters rated it third. It was good value at $15, though.

For the reds, in the blind tasting before dinner, it was also a clean sweep. All five rated the French actor tops - for his Gerard Depardieu, Confiance, 2003 from Bordeaux. This I've had before, I rated it a wow last year and I still rate it a wow wine. It is simply a gorgeous rich wine that I could never tire of. Worth every penny at $55. Formula one driver Jarno Trulli came in second with his Podere Castorani, Jarno, 2002. This everyone picked as the Italian wine - it was unmistakably a classic iodine laden old style Italian beauty that we initially rated only a "Good", but bumped it up to "wow" when the steaks rolled off the BBQ. Now this is a food wine! Pricey at $80, I don't know if I would buy it. Bringing up the rear was poor old Jerry Garcia, ex-deadhead. His J. Garcia, Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 is a good wine, but more along the lines of a medium bodied velvety smoothy that couldn't stand up to the brawny actor or the racer. It is however reasonable value at $25.

Hey wait...we're not finished...Joel reasoned that if Depardieu can make a great wine that costs $55 a bottle, what can he make for $120? Sooo, out with the corkscrew and he opened the Depardieu, Ma Verite, Haut Medoc, 2002. Well, the aromas wafting out of the glass simply blew me away - wow. It was very tight on the palate, though, needing decanting. It slowly opened up to show off a complex rich wine that is one of the best I have ever tasted. And so approachable for such a young bordeaux. This is the winner. So, yes, celebrities can make good wine that I would buy despite the name on the label!!


Friday, April 20, 2007

More Casa Concha

Boo hoo. Tried to buy more of the Casa Concha Merlot today, but it's all gone...that kinda happens to good stuff at a good price. Rats. Well, at least they had the Syrah from the same year and the Cab from 2005. So, time to give the Concha y Toro, Marques de Casa Concha, Syrah, 2004, Pneumo a whirl. This is another seriously good wine, but it's main problem is that it is not as good as the Merlot. Damn. This is a medium bodied, very tasty, moderately tannic, blackberry, leathery effort that lacks the complexity and plushness of the Merlot. Strange, eh? I would have thought the Syrah would have outweighed the Merlot. Anyways, what do I know? The Wine Spectator gave the Syrah a "91" and the Wine Enthusiast gave the Merlot a "90."
Oh, and the Koko factor - she preferred the Syrah too!! Eeek.
Well, I stick to my guns (ie. my palate) and give this a "Good". And it's definitely worth buying more at $20 a pop.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Nice Villa, but...

...too bad they don't make great wine to match. I couldn't resist buying this bottle because of the beautiful villa on the label. This is the kind of place I would like to retire to, complete with vineyard.
The Vicchiomaggio, Ripa delle Mandorle, 2003 is from Tuscany. Cherries on the nose with an initial mouth puckering dryness prompted some quick pork chops on the BBQ - this one needs to be drunk with food. The food blunted the tartness in the wine and interestingly, it took on a candied character. After dinner, it was hard to choke this stuff back - just not very enjoyable. So, I give it an "OK" as a food wine, crap for value at $16 or so.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Every now and then I open a bottle of wine with no particular expectation and am rewarded with that first sip that screams "wow". Well, it happens this is my 100th post to this blog and not even realizing it I have opened a cracker of a wine. I expected the Concha y Toro, Marques de Casa Concha, 2004, Merlot, Pneumo to be a your usual well made but ho-hum Chilean wine. Nope. Not a chance. This reeks of class. The nose is restrained, doesn't give much away, but once on the mouth, it massages the taste and olfactory buds with plushness. Full bodied with silky, well integrated tannins, this is very enjoyable now and will be for years...but why wait?
This is what I was expecting from their more prestigious Terrunyo bottling (which happened to be a Carmenere) , but the latter is frankly disappointing compared to this beauty. Wow, and only $20. Buy it all.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Canny Carmenere

Opened yet another good bottle of Chilean carmenere tonight. Nothing complex, but the Punta Nogal, Reserva, 2004 is black in the glass, whiffs of black fruit on the nose and dense on the palate with rich fruits and a touch of chocolate. Has a moderately long finish. No new oak here I would guess, but for fifteen bucks I don't expect any. A good value, this would warrant another purchase.
Carmenere is an old bordeaux varietal that one rarely if ever sees in europe, even as in a blended wine. It somehow made it over to Chile where it was promptly forgotten about - they thought for years it merlot. It is now rightly recognized for itself and has come into its own down there. It makes thick, rich, fruity wines that usually have good price points - try 'em, you might like them!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Chateau Wal-Mart

We live in a strange world up here in Canada. A very regulated world - sure, we get "free" healthcare and great welfare if you don't work, but the price is high taxes on everything. This includes booze. In Quebec and Ontario we have to buy all our wine through provincial liquor board monopolies that charge whatever they want. So, we have a kind of skewed value rating system compared to our great free market neighbours down south - a twenty buck "premium" wine here is often a less than ten dollar bottle of plonk down there. Don't believe me? Well, I just spent my annual "beer week" down south with the boys but managed to slip in some wine. And where does one go shopping for wine in the US of A? Well, in more places than here. I was in the local "Chateau Wal-Mart" and saw their prices so I couldn't resist grabbing a bunch of bottles. Most of these wines were less than $10, some as low as $6. The best of the bunch was the NAPA Valley Vineyards, reserve, cabernet sauvignon, 2002. A full bodied oaky smoky chewy wine, I give a "Good" rating, was still great value at $12. Next best was the Five Rivers, cabernet sauvignon, Paso Robles, 2004. Similar in style, also full bodied and chewy, an even better bargain at $8. The J. Lohr, Seven Oaks, cabernet sauvignon, Paso Robles, 2005 is also a good, full bodied oaky wine perfect for sipping and great value at $10 (this wine I know sells for $25 up here. Unbelievable). Even the "okay" Jacobs Creek and Yellow Tail wines are super cheap - $11 a magnum (they are $13-15 a regular bottle here!). The only disappointment was the Kendall Jackson, Vintners reserve, Zinfandel, 2005 - a medium bodied lightly fruity effort, definitely not my style of zin. It would be thought of as "okay" for value up here at $13, but compared to what you can get there for the price, I wouldn't buy it again....
So, for everyday wine wine bargains, I am envious of you Americans; you can try all these bargains and if one doesn't measure up, it still ends up being a cheap drain cleaner.
Oh, in case you wondered what happened to the beer.....

Burp!, er Cheers!