Monday, December 26, 2011

Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot 2009

In the Glass: Medium ruby red color

On the Nose: Aromas of black cherry, cola and caramel

On the Palate: Mouth filing sweet notes of caramel, anise and currants. Slightly spicy finish with some heat.

Style: Smooth and supple

Rating: 89/100

Price Range: $6.00-8.00. Widely available at most wine shops and supermarkets

Comments: Columbia Crest wines are some of my favorites year after year because of a consistency of quality at a low price point! Excellent QPR on this wine. Although merlot has been recently criticized for its universal appeal and easy drinking qualities as not a "serious" wine, this wine might serve to disabuse the critics and show why so many wine drinkers continue to enjoy the merlot  based wines. This particular variety and vintage has very classic merlot color and flavors and is great for just relaxed quaffing alone or a perfect accompaniment to pork and barbecue dishes.  At this price level, it is an excellent every day wine for those that love medium bodied red wines.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava NV

In the Glass: Pale strw color with good bubbles

On the Nose: Light hints of citrus and apricots.

On the Palate: Light and citrusy with a clean finish. Completely dry with a nice acidic touch of green apples at the finish. 

Style: Light and fresh

Rating: 90/100

Price Range: $8.00-10.00

Comments: I must confess I am not a big fan of sparkling white wines and when I do drink it I usually prefer a yeasty traditional champagne taste like that of Lanson or Veuve Cliquot. However, I have been serving this wine now for many years and I have to say it is a very popular wine with sparkling wine drinkers. Literally, 9 out of 10 think it is as good or better than some very traditional champages like Moet and like it better than similarly priced bubbly like Krug. Unlike champagne that is mostly elaborated with chardonnay gapes, this spanish cava is made with the traditional grapes for cava in Penedes which are Parellada , Macabeo and Xarel.lo, but otherwise made using the methode champagnoise and aged for 12 months in the bottle. This wine has become so popular here in the USA that you can find it practically everywhere. It used to have a beautiful gold label, but the folks at Louis Roederer thought it and the type set looked too much like their Cristal champagne and apparently sued them to change the label, which is now not as handsome or distinctive as before. This sparkler goes great with seafood and rich fish dishes like salmon or tuna, as well as desserts.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Beringer Founder's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

In the Glass: Medium cherry red color

On the Nose: Fruit forward aroma with bright cassis and black fruit. Just a touch of laeather and vanilla in the background.

On the Palate:A medium bodied cab style with a balanced mix of blackberries and spices. Lightly oaked and structured tannins noted at the finish. Short fnish but nice mouth feel. Improves with some airing. No aging potential noted...drink up now!

Style: Smooth and supple.

Rating: 87/100

Price Range: $7.00-10.00

Comments: Perfect every day wine that can be quaffed alone or served with pork dishes or BBQ. This cab was aged in oak for about 8 months and evidences a lightly oaked flavor with just a hint of vanilla. Beringer consistently produces a reasonably priced Cab that is a cut above most other California producers in this genre.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Trumpeter Malbec Mendoza 2010

In the Glass: Dark purple color

On the Nose: Fragrance of sour cherries and a hint of mint and cinnamon. Will benefit from decanting prior to serving to open up the bouquet.

On the Palate: Predominantly licorice and blackberries with a white pepper spiciness at the back of the tongue. Short astringent finish with a hint of bitter tannins noted. Might benefit from 1-3 years aging in the bottle.

Style: Smooth and supple

Rating: 87/100

Price Range: $8.00-10.00. Widely available in most wine shops and supermarkets in this area.

Comments: Trumpeter is the brand of lower cost wines from the Rutini winery in the Uco valley of Mendoza Argentina.This is a malbec that was elaborated in a more austere classic style than most. Reminded me of a Spanish Rioja rather than the usual fruity and young style of most Argentine malbecs. Best when served with food rather than on its own. Serve with grilled meat dishes. Particularly nice with mushroom dishes as well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finca El Portillo Malbec 2009

In the Glass: Deep purple color

On the Nose: Lovely bouquet of blueberries and black cherries. Opens up nicely after about an hour of opening the bottle or I recommend that you decant before serving.

On the Palate: Mouth filling luscious notes of blackberries, plums and licorice. Medium to long finish with medium tannins and a hint of vanilla. Has some aging potential for the next 2-3 years.

Style: Smooth and supple. Full bodied red.

Rating: 90/100

Price Range: $8.00-$12.00. Good availability at several wine shops around town.

Comments: Wow! This is a great Malbec at a great price. Highly recommended. Tasted this against other higher priced malbecs in the $10 to $18 price range and this one came up as the best of the lot! 100% malbec produced by Bodegas Salentien in the Uco valley of Argentina. Delicious when served with steak or other hearty beef cuts like churrasco. If you can find it, grab a case like I did, you'll thank me!

Casillero del Diablo Carmenere 2010

In the Glass: Deep crimson red.

On the Nose: Light floral fragrance as well as hints of eucalyptus and mint.

On the Palate: Classic cocoa and mint flavors common to the carmenere grape.  Opens nicely on the palate with a very short finish. Noticeably absent of tannins or any hint of oak.

Style: Smooth and supple.

Rating: 88/100

Price Range: $6-$10. Widely available at wine stores and supermarkets

Comments: Carmenere is quickly becoming a very popular wine varietal because of it very easy drinking characteristics and plesant fragrance. Concha y Toro is the largest winemaker in Chile and generally offers very good and consistent quality wines at reasonable prices. Their Casillero del Diablo Carmenere, a blend of 85% Carmenere, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah, is one of these, consistently good year to year and is highly recommended for those looking for a smooth light red wine with unique overtones of chocolate that goes well with chocolate or cherry based desserts, as well as roasted chicken or pork dishes.