Archive for the ‘Wine Reviews’ Category

Wine Review: Stray Dog Zinfandel 2006

August 29th, 2011 No comments

What a name! Stray Dog Zinfandel, though it may be a fairly new name, is crafted by a man who’s been producing quality wine for 20+ years, Mark Gendron, who recently sold JanKris winery (founded in 1990.) Mark currently owns JK Estates, and the Wildfire Cellars brand. (Stray Dog Zinfandel is released with the JK Estates label.)

Stray Dog’s interesting, earthy nose contains aromas of wild berries, blackberries, raspberries, walnuts, chocolate, slight tar, and a note of grass. On the tongue, blackberries and black cherries dominate, but this wine is not sweet like other clichéd, “jammy” Zins. In fact, its taste and body are more akin to a good Merlot than a “typical” Zin. The finish, long, powerful, and filled with black cherry, is quite striking and, again, a bit uncharacteristic of traditional Zins. All of this, coupled with good acidity and adequate tannins, make this a wine worth trying. (This wine also took home the Silver Medal at the World Wine Championships.) Plus, Stray Dog Zinfandel paris well with pork, chicken, various seafood dishes, and can even be served with chocolate desserts. With such versatility, and a unique personality, Stray Dog Zinfandel 2006 is surprisingly inexpensive. Take home a bottle of Stray, today, and give it a whirl!

Wine Review: Schmitt Söhne Riesling Qualitätswein 2009

August 24th, 2011 No comments

This little guy’s not bad! And by “little guy” I mean the wine, though the wine’s “mascot” happens to be an adorable, little German man.

This good-value, summertime sipper proved exceptionally clear, with a shimmery, pale-yellow color. With an aroma of sufficient intensity, though a little plain, scents of lemon, berry, slight pear, apple, and honeysuckle became more pronounced as the wine opened. Though light-bodied and lean, the wine tasted pleasantly crisp with pronounced, lip-smacking sweet flavors of apple and pear. Though not a complex wine, this inexpensive, yummy delight (less than $10 a bottle) is well-balanced, easy to drink and, just as promised by the sign held by the little guy on the label, “will work with food.” The wine’s crispness allows it to pair easily with chicken, fish, pork, ham, salads, spicy summertime dishes and, of course, desserts, making it ideal for summertime picnics. This wine was an affordable summertime gem I’m glad I picked up! (In fact, I may pull over for a few more bottles the next time I’m out and about.)

Wine Review: Oracle of the Wind Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc 2009

August 10th, 2011 No comments

Oracle of the Wind Western Cape Sauvignon Blanc 2009This delicate white hails “from the sun, the rain, the wind, and the soil” of South Africa.  Though described as a “light yellow with flashes of green,” my glass appeared a surprising golden yellow of medium intensity, usually indicative of mature, concentrated whites.  Being a very affordable wine (I only paid $7.99 for a bottle), I knew not what to expect.  Although the nose is pleasant-but-weak, and somewhat plain, the wine makes up for it with a soft, creamy body and light crispness.  Flavors are subtle and playfully elusive.  They include guava, gooseberry, subdued mango, and other tropical flavors.  There are even light hints of lime and lemon.  This is not a “big” wine, and so it must be remembered that although this wine is well-structured, it is very delicate.  It will take many sips to appreciate and, like all wine, it gets better as it opens.  It is also a wine that can only be fully appreciated when chilled.  Serving this wine at room temperature will ruin it.  We recommend serving this wine between 46ºF and 48ºF.  For wines such as this, a Marvel Wine Refridgerator like the 23-Bottle Wine Grotto Wine Cellar  will help you attain the perfect serving temperature.  As a final note, if you’ve been following our blog, remember that long-term storage temperatures differ from serving temperatures, so don’t confuse the two!  Enjoy!

30 Bottle Marvel Wine Grotto wine refrigerator

Wine Review: 2007 Forefront Cabernet Sauvignon by Pine Ridge

July 4th, 2011 Comments off
2007 Forefront Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon

Image courtesy of

The delicious, first-class 2007 Forefront Cabernet Sauvignon pours out a regal, dark purple.  With a powerful nose consisting of aromas including blueberries, raspberries, slight truffle, leather, and light vegetable notes, this scintillating wine pleases before it is even sipped.  On the tongue, it certainly demands attention, too!  Surprisingly well-balanced for such a young Cabernet, it is mouth-watering, rich, and meaty.  Its pleasant berry tastes also mix splendidly with well-integrated, smooth tannins.  The finish, excellent and long, gives rise to hidden coffee, dark cherry, and chocolate flavors.  Try a bottle with steak and butter-rich dishes to neutralize the tannins and bring out the wine’s inherent fruit flavors.  Or, match the wine’s oak influences by serving with grilled or smoked meats.  And for tasty dessert ideas, this wine pairs exceptionally well with dark chocolate recipes.  This is a big, harmonious, excellent wine worth every penny!  Open a bottle today, and consider saving a few sips for friends using The Keeper Wine Preservation System.

The Keeper Nitrogen Wine Preservation System

Wine Review: “Ottone I” Piemont doc Barbera 2009

June 15th, 2011 No comments

Ottone I Bottle Image
I picked up a bottle of Cantine San Silvestro’s “Ottone I” Piemont doc Barbera 2009 the other night on a whim, not sure what to expect.  Consisting of 100% pure Barbera grapes from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, this full red was simply bursting with big fruit flavors.  Ruby red in color with a soft-but-sound nose including black raspberry, raspberry, cherry, and hints of strawberry, my initial reaction was most positive.  With a rounded body, this delicious wine is filled with luscious cherry, berry, and even dark jam flavors.  The finish, though not too long, was crisp and pleasing.  This is a quality wine that pairs well with a variety of foods. While moderately tannic, the tannins are very well integrated and will complement saucy pasta dishes, beef, pork, and recipes that utilize robust cheeses.  For meals with these components, San Silvestro’s  “Ottone I” Piemont doc Barbera 2009 is a sure winner.  It can even be served slightly chilled with cold meat platters, and with salads rich with black olives.  Talk about versatility!  (If you choose to chill it, why not look into an affordable and stylish Wine Credenza for optimal temperature control?)  So go ahead!  Grab a few bottles, and enjoy the “Ottone I” Piemont doc Barbera 2009 wine now, or through 2012.  I know I will.

Wine Review: Le Grand Pinot Noir 2009

June 6th, 2011 No comments

This rich, dark red hails from the Limoux region of Southern France.  With sufficient aroma, the Le Grand Pinot Noir 2009’s nose consists of delightful red berries, cherries, raspberries, currants, and a note of fig.  The wine is rounded, and delights the taste buds with exploding flavors of red berries, cherries, and currants.  Its semi-spicy kick is nicely countered by its smooth, balanced, satisfying finish rich with tannins.  Though not an extremely complex wine, the Le Grand Pinot Noir 2009 is quite good considering its average low price of $8.99 a bottle.  In fact, I find the wine to be better than some higher-priced red Burgundies.  Pairing well with salads, various cheese platters, game birds, and fish dishes including salmon and tuna, this is a good wine to enjoy with light, summertime fare, as well as with hearty pork!  Although Le Grand Pinot Noir’s logo may contain a black sheep, this wine is certainly an inexpensive winner in my book!

Because this is a such an inexpensive, versatile wine, this would be an excellent choice to purchase by the case when throwing a party. To really impress your guests, store and serve from an elegant wine credenza, a combination wine storage cabinet and serving table!

Le Grand Pinot Noir 2009

2010 Château Montaud Côtes de Provence Rosé

May 30th, 2011 1 comment

This delightful rosé blend from Château Montaud makes a perfect picnic wine, or one to enjoy on a nice, hot summer eve.  With a very clear raspberry appearance, this evanescent wine has stunning visual presence.  The nose, very clean but low-keyed, presents pronounced berry and peach aromas, with hints of honeysuckle, strawberry, and even a wisp of pear!  Pleasant-tasting, this crisp wine has very lively acidity and is well-balanced.  Though its body is a little poor, and the finish is short, its charming and agreeable character more than makes up for these.  Like other blends, this rosé pairs well with artichoke recipes, Brie and other mild cheeses, numerous fish dishes, and summer salads.  It is fast becoming one of my favorites of the season.

Happy Memorial Day, wine lovers! While typically a holiday of grills and beer, there’s no reason not to enjoy a nice, summery bottle of wine today!

Wine Review: Jelu Malbec 2008

May 25th, 2011 No comments
Jelu Malbec 2008

Jelu Malbec 2008 Label

This hearty, Argentinean Malbec is quite robust!  Its delightful nose contains pleasing plum and vanilla scents.  The wine itself has prominent spicy flavors–very characteristic of Argentinean Malbecs–as well as those of dark plums, blackberries, and traces of vanilla.  The finish is quite good, lasting well over 40 seconds, and includes satisfying blackberry notes.  This is a wine sure to delight fans of “spicy” and “peppery” wines.  Often found at $12 a bottle, Malbec enthusiasts will want to try this affordable, solid example of a Bordeaux varietal that falls somewhere in-between a Cab and a Merlot.  Though the label mentions this wine is a good fit for “barbecue meat,” be careful of the barbecue sauce you use.  Sweeter sauces will not compliment this wine, but certain pasta sauces and rich cheeses certainly do. Any dish incorporating cranberries, unsweetened or semisweet, also makes a surprisingly good match, as will cashews.  Of course, this spicy red is quite good on its own, so enjoy a bottle of Jelu Malbec 2008 today!

Jelu Malbec 2008

Jelu Malbec 2008

If you’ve been faithfully trying all the wines we’ve reviewed here recently, you may find yourself with a few partial bottles that need storing! We carry a variety of wine preservation and dispensing systems to suit a range of needs, from the casual drinker (try the Pek Preservo for a single bottle–also a great gift!) to home (or restaurant) wine bar (check out the WineKeeper systems). These systems use argon or nitrogen to prevent oxidization of your open bottles.

Wine Review: 2007 Maculan Pino & Toi

May 20th, 2011 No comments

Unlike sweet Hungarian wines made from Tocai Friulano grapes, this Italian Pinot Blanc blend utilizes this curious grape to create an elegant and interesting combination of flavors and scents consisting of 60% Tocai Friulano, 25% Pinot Bianco, and 15% Pinot Grigio.  Fermented in stainless steel, the Pino & Toi is very fresh, aging little before bottling.  It is often recommended that this wine be consumed fairly quickly (within 2 to 4 years), which is why I was delighted that my 2007 bottle did not disappoint!  The wine’s light yellow color complements its pleasing citrus nose.  Though a bit acidic on the first sip, balance is quickly restored with overflowing flavors of peach, lemon, honey, and melon (The acidity works very well to provide a well-balanced finish).  Though given an 82 point rating by Wine Spectator, I agree more with Robert Parker’s rating of 86 points if only for the added complexity found wanting in other blends.  If you’re looking for an interesting dry, medium-bodied white to accompany summer salads, seafood, Chinese food, or to drink on its own, try the 2007 Maculan Pino & Toi.  It’s a crisp, enjoyable summertime sipper with personality!

2007 Maculan Pino & Toi

Pino & Toi

Wine Review: Piesporter Michelsberg 2009

May 16th, 2011 No comments

Piesporter Michelsberg 2009 Riesling

A white wine with a light golden color (and subtle hints of blue), this inexpensive summertime sipper hails from the banks of Germany’s Mosel river in Trier.  Though the nose is on the weaker side, this light, crisp wine is well-balanced.  Its body is delicately creamy, consisting of a subtle buttery texture slightly reminiscent of a Chardonnay.  Interestingly, the Piesporter Michelsberg 2009–which is a Riesling, by the way– contains flavors of numerous fruits with varying degrees of sweetness, as well as citrus fruits (including tart hints of green apples), that allow it to stimulate all of your flavor-detecting neurons.  I found this breadth of flavor to be a curious treat, much more apparent in this wine than in other Rieslings I’ve recently tasted.  With mild acidity, the eight to ten second finish is satisfying-but-short, leaving the drinker yearning for another quick sip.  The wine works as-is on its own, or you can pair it with light dishes.  The latter suggestion is preferable, given the quick duration of the finish.  Though this is certainly not the “best” Riesling available, I find it very decent given the price range it normally inhabits: $8 to $12 a bottle!  Not too shabby!

Mosel River image courtesy of