Thursday, June 30, 2011

Toad Hollow or Sleepy Hollow Cacophony

Toad Hollow Cacophony 2007 Zinfandel, $13.59-$17.99, 86+ points, begins as a symphony, but does end as its name implies.
With the color of dark magenta, the aroma has a good grape-cherry and a hint of clove, but it is the pomegranate off-setting the plum flavors in a rich medium body, which saves this wine, gives it balance and some depth. As is "typical' for Paso Robles, this Zin is smooth and fruity, the finish is a good black-pepper, but a hair on the astringent side (With a little more bottle time that might mellow-out).
I paid $13.59, and at that price, this is a good buy. Drink upon opening. 
I enjoyed this wine with a strip-steak, buttered seeded rye, and golden corn.


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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Peek Into Up-Coming Summer Wine Posts

f
These are some of what it's in the offing for this summer's Chardonnay, not to mention a number of new Zinfandel wines.
As is often said: CHEERS!









http://nhwineman.blogspot.com/2011/02/index-of-reviewed-wines.html

















Monday, June 27, 2011

Columbia Crest Grand-Estates 2009 Chardonnay Captivates





Columbia Crest Grand-Estates 2009 Chardonnay, $8.49-$12.99, 89 points, scores, with me anyway, right up there with the $34.49 Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley 2008 Chardonnay; is it as complex? Is it as rich? Is it as costly? Nein! Nein! Nein! What it is, is delicious; yes, it has a bit of sun-lit gold, aroma of woody pear and a hint of lemon, and the palate is dominated by a pear-cream-soda, and finishes with a smooth vanilla that reveals gentle oak, Malolatic fermentation, and batonnage.
The Columbia Crest Estates Chardonnay is a relaxed alcohol of 13.5%.This is a good stand alone wine, or pair it with fish, lobster, or almost anything. There are rules with food pairing, but if you have a wine this good, the only rule is: do you enjoy it?
What I find so amazing is how Columbia Crest continues to make such good wines at such a value price. QPR is big here.

Don't forget my recommendation for great gift giving last Christmas:




Cabernet: Under $10.00

Columbia Crest Grand Estates ($8.99)

"#25 of the Top 100 Best Buys of 2010"-Wine And Spirits-November 01, 2010

NH Wineman says: Hands down your Best Bet (My opinion for under $10.00) for insightful gift-giving this Christmas.




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Friday, June 24, 2011

Chateau Montelena Calistoga 2008 Zinfandel



Chateau Montelena Calistoga 2008 Zinfandel, $22.94-$26.99, 86 points, is to me one of the most monumental let-downs of the year; an iconic Winery (for NH wine lovers, a very difficult wine to find) has bottled a mediocre Zinfandel that should be in the $10.00 range. I know I'm going to be blasted for this, but with Zinfandel wines like the Cakebread  and the  Neal Zinfandels available and with a similar character profile, I'll shy away from this one (I bought more than one bottle), and my expectations on the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay which I bought also, has dropped considerably, but the proof is in the pudding, and like people, you can't judge one because of another.
Enough with my feelings and to the review.

The color is more cranberry, and the nose is a bit of cotton candy. A light to medium bodied wine, with almost nothing early palate, but gentle Red-berries mid to late palate, and the finish is an almost indiscernible sassafras, as is the alcohol indiscernible and well balanced.
This is not a terrible Zinfandel, only not in league with the others mentioned.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Canadians Can Chalk-Up this Pick With Deals From New Hampshire (Chalk Hill 2008 Chardonnay)


Chalk Hill Russian River Valley 2008 Chardonnay, $35.69-$44.99, 92 points, is defined by its minerality; having a hint of nuttiness, subtle fruit,  mostly citrus (Lemon essence) in a medium body. This Chardonnay is clean and crisp yet retains an elegant vanilla creaminess that says California.
This is another wine with a high alcohol level (14.9%), but in this Chardonnay it is almost unnoticeable, which is a good indication of its fine balance.
We had a blind tasting last night and two of our tasters scored this wine very high.
Canadians, who are visiting the State of New Hampshire might want to consider (QPR is not that good, but it is a unique wine to try) taking a bottle of this wine back to Quebec or Ontario with many other great deals available here. I've talked to many who say that the prices are much higher there, but which wines to invest in? 
There is only three more days left (June 26, 2011) for the 15% discount on American wines (12 bottles-mix or match) at the NHLS. 



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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Neyers Carneros 2009 Chardonnay




 Neyers Carneros 2009 Chardonnay, $23.99-$29.99, 92 points, has found a niche between citrus and pome, a valued balance found in its cooler AVA (American_Viticultural_Area) of Carneros, but done so well. Neyers has managed a typical Californian creamy, yet crisp wine with power and flavor, but is restrained.
The light lemon-lime color is also the aroma, but adds a bit of oaky caramel,  all of which carry onto the palate, yet there it adds gentle flavors of quince, and finishes wonderfully long with a bit of ginger.


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Chardonnay, Clams, Crab, And Other Crustaceans (Crawdads, Lobster, Shrimp) And Melted Butter


This will be my forth adventure into the wonderful world of Chardonnay wines, and again my disclaimer is that a Newbie Red-Wine drinker continues to be an even Newer-Newbie White-Wine drinker.  I hope my recommendations are helpful, or at least interesting to my readers, and I assure you that I'm taking this as a challenge. My proclivities seem to be with Chablis (France's-48th parallel-region ) and wine similar to Chablis (High acid and little or no oak); I sometimes find that the heavy Californian  Chardonnay wines to be a bit over-the-top and lacking a certain delicious factor (Maybe just over-whelming), but when I find others  that captivate me, as in the recent past, I'll be sure to let you know.

Beginning with The Big Kahuna of four Chardonnay wines bought in New Hampshire and tasted in the last month or so, is Beringer Private Reserve Napa Valley 2008 Chardonnay, $26.49-$34.49, 89 points, rolls in your glass as a smelted golden  mercurial liquid. Having a bouquet of flowers and fruits (Honey suckle and "Good and Plenty" candy) .
Flavor layers of fruit, Butter-scotch, Scotch whiskey  (14.9% alcohol-go figure), and creamy anise flow into the long finish. Those who are not fans of Malolatic fermentation (malolatic acid into lactic acid-Think milk) will shy away from this wine, but like Big Red Wines, this is a Big White Wine and scored high points  (92-94) with those who should know. If you want a meal in a glass, this just might be it.



Following  The Big Kahuna is my favorite of the four, Stag's Leap Cellars Karia (Graceful character) Napa valley 2008 Chardonnay, $24.64-$32.99, 93 points, has many qualities of Chablis, but the "Karia" (Graceful character) is prevalent and unlike most Chablis wines, does have some California creaminess to it.
Karia has a crystal-clear light-golden color.
The aroma is faint Cardamom and Lemon-Zest, with some floral  character.






Karia has plenty of acidity, 0.61g/100ml, hints of granite, with citrus and pear flavors. When I think of "rich" as a descriptor, I don't think "light" in quality, but oxymoronically, in this case I do; this Chardonnay is delicate without being either weak or strained, but flavorful and wonderful.


Quality-Price-Ratio (QPR) has gone unmentioned, but now we have come to that place where the number one criteria for buying a wine comes to the fore (Price). With Chardonnay wines, like Cupcake, offering good Chardonnay at unbelievable prices, it's hard to justify paying the big-bucks for slightly better wines.
Talbott Sleepy Hollow Vineyard 2008 Chardonnay maybe an exception when the cost is $14.99.
Talbott Sleepy Hollow Vineyard 2008 Chardonnay, $14.99-$34.99, 87 points, had a remarkable flavor of tropical fruit and a hint of ginger on the finish. With good acidity and a nice balance of oak, this Chardonnay could have been one of my favorites, but the nose had a hint of the municipal bathroom, which was a big turn-off for me. The color was a clear straw-yellow. This wine did score some big points with the pros, but I did find it in the clearance bin, which begs the question of why. That remains unclear.

California Chardonnay  without malolatic fermentation has its own  niche, and Beaucanon Estate Ehler Lane Vineyard Napa valley 2008 Chardonnay, $15.30-$19.00, 87 points, is one them, but is mildly oaked. The color is a bit lemon-lime.
The aroma had hints of lemon and vanilla.
The medium body was smooth, but not crisp as the Chablis wines I've tried.
Though I found this Chardonnay to be a bit flat, and not a Stand-Alone-White Wine (Californian Chardonnay is often considered to be an aperitif) , it did pair well with my Lobster-roll and fish and Chips.


Earlier Chardonnay reviews: Link-1-ChippingAwayAtChardonnay



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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ridge Lytton West 2005 Syrah Leaves A Dry Creek impression



Ridge Lytton West 2005 Syrah, $26.49-$35.99, 92+ points, began, for me, with a grape-attack aroma edged with sweet-oak-spice (mellow hints of clove), cherry and blackberry.
Lytton West has good acidity, and firm, but tame tannins. Having a creamy smooth ( Natural-Malolactic-fermentation ) medium-body, this Syrah finishes long with B&W pepper on a mild plum medium.
Overall, this is a silky and elegant wine, and though it has 14.5% alcohol, you will hardly notice it (except if you drink the whole bottle in a sitting).
I paired this Syrah with smoked ham, and unlike a number of Zinfandel wines, it complimented dark raspberry chocolate.

Ridge has fitted their bottle with one of the most informative back-labels I've seen; good job, and I wish other wineries would be so helpful.
One web-site had 25 reviews that rated this wine from 84-95 points; most were approximately 91 points.




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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Syrah Bonterra Bonanza From Mendocino County




Bonterra Vineyards Mendocino County 2007 Syrah (organic), $13.79- $18.99 (I paid $14.99), 89 points, is another amazing wine from Bonterra . For those who have wanted to try an American Syrah, but have shied-away from buying, because the $25-$55 range common to this varietal is prohibitive, then this one might be for you.


I waited until a $2 coupon was put on this bottle, then I grabbed it. I bought this wine at "Todd's" Hannaford super-market in Londonderry, NH. Got questions about his available wines, just ask for Todd (603-421-0921).


Beautiful deep, dark, and dense royal purple color is clear and still young. The aroma is a very nice spicy clove with a floral hint; this spicy aroma is carried over onto the palate, and with good acidity (0.61 gms) is key to the sound structure of this very fruit-forward wine, and gives this Bonterra Syrah its good balance. The texture is smooth and rich in a medium body of plum and blackberry. Blended with Grenache, Mouvedre and Viognier wines give this Syrah depth and layers of flavor.


The 13.9% alcohol is unnoticeable. The good flavor of this wine makes for a fine stand-alone refreshment. Will pair with spicy meats, and traditional Italian cuisine, as well as that summertime barbecue.This wine has a very good QPR.


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Sunday, June 12, 2011

DAOU Lodi Old Vine 2008 Zinfandel, $25.99-$29.99, 88 points.
Hiding in an aroma of rich fruit is this burnt toast and tire rubber (Not all bad), but didn't please me much either; many White Wines have pleased my nose less and still tasted good. 
The color wasn't crystal-clear, but youthful deep Bordeaux.
The texture is lush and smooth.
Flavors of tangy plum and licorice dominate a Zinfandel that only finishes with moderate black-pepper.
On the second day, this wine improved, and the finish gained some depth.



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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Geyserville Is A Geyser Galore



Ridge Geyserville 2008 Red Wine72% Zinfandel, 20 % Carignane, 6% Petite Syrah, 2% Mourvedre (Mataro), $29.74-$34.99, 93 points, is an  amazing wine ( I would just like to say I'm so glad I didn't let my first impression of Ridge-wines stop me from trying these other wonderful wines ) from Ridge.



The color is dense Syrah purple, and the aroma is earthy with blackberry-spice, and is Ridge-typical-wonderful, and as is so often the case, more European in character than most Californian wines. Special, is a descriptor that comes to mind. 

This Red Wine  has good acidity and a firm tannin presence. There is the obligatory plum and Ridge's trademark tang accentuating this Red Wine, but there is also black olive, the proper subtle hint of violet, and intense Black and White pepper which shuttles a long finish to cap-off this wonderful experience. 
Sorry if this is too detailed, tasting wine ought not be cumbersome, for the foundation of a really good wine is how delicious it is to YOU.
I can tell how much I love a wine: when I can't wait to get home and have another go at it.
The Geyserville is  a wine to buy a case of, and every year open a bottle and compare the evolution of a great wine at a great price, because this wine is great now and will be great for years to come.




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Monday, June 6, 2011

Ridge Pagani Ranch 2007 Zinfandel


Ridge Pagani Ranch 2007 Zinfandel, $30.59-$35.99, 92 points, is a wonderful way to return to the place of Zinfandel.
I had no complaints about my detour to Italy, but I can't say that anything there, that I tasted, was much better than this.
The Pagani Ranch has a beautiful dense ruby-red color, and a typically wonderful aroma, one that makes me just breathe it in as my necessary air, with cedar and cinnamon spice.
The early palate acidity enhanced the tart cherry and mellow plum as layers of fruit balanced off one-another in an archetypical waltz. In step is the pirouette of firm tannins swirling around a late palate tang and lunging long with a white pepper finish.
On the third day the 2007 Pagani continued to evolve with cigar and grape notes, without any unpleasant developments.
This is just another in the long line of remarkable wines that Ridge builds. This one is crafted from 92% Zinfandel (bramble-spice), 5% Alicante Bouschet (Friendly and soft), and 3% Petite Syrah (Firm and powerful). For years the Pagani Ranch has scored upwards of 95 points, but for a number of reasons the 2007 vintage scored, by the pros, in the mid-eighties, but I guess that I'm a die-hard fan, and if the 2006 is 10 points higher rated, I'll be amazed at just how good Ridge wines can be. WS scored the 2008 vintage 92 points.
   
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Friday, June 3, 2011

Carpineto 2006 Chianti Classico Reserva VS Petite Petit

Carpineto Classico Reserva, Dry Farmed 2006 Chianti, $18.69-$23.99, 89 points, begins with a dense Syrah Purple and is followed by a strong aroma of Cinnamon, Clove, and Cedar, that carries over to the overall palate along with some floral characteristics. Though I tried this wine after breathing for eight hours, these characteristics did not fade.
This is a medium-plus bodied wine that pairs well with Babyback Ribs, but will need cuisine of strong flavors to match its own powerful flavor.



Michael-David Vineyards 2008 Petite Petit Syrah-Verdot, $16.99-$22.99, 87 points, reminded me of the Carpineto Classico Reserva, yet is less smooth and structured (Not to Knock California Petite Syrah), but the floral character of this Petite Petit is remarkably similar and when the clove, cedar, and cinnamon,  are added, there is a resemblance that probably makes me look foolish (Different grapes and the weird look the Vintner gave me upon my comparison). The Petite Petit has a weaker finish, but is about the same price. 


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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tuscan Wine That Has Generated More Opinions Than Any Other I've Seen



Monte Antico Toscana 2006 Red Table Wine, $9.99-$12.99, 86 points, is one of the most advertised, most debated, and most available Italian Wines I've seen.
Simply put, this wine is inexpensive, available, and food-friendly, and with a pleasant fragrance, a fair flavor, light to medium bodied (Not much complexity here); this mostly Sangiovese is just easy to pair and easy on your wallet, but this wine strikes me as a joyful-little Red.





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Chianti Classico Had To Be Here Somewhere!

Castello Banfi 2007 Chianti Classico Reserva, $12.74-$18.99, 88 points, is a wonderful Red Tuscan Table Wine, and if you are serving almost any typical Italian cuisine, this will please most and not cost you your pension.
Dense Red Color, with a bit of cherry and plum on the nose (this carries over to flavor), followed by a light-to-medium-body, and enough layers of flavor-hints to please the curious.
This wine can be found almost everywhere.


Toscolo Tuscan 2005 Chianti Classico, $16.79-$21.00, 89 points, is very similar, but a bit more floral, with a more European earthiness and leather, yet still quite smooth. The flavor is only as good as the Banfi, but maybe a bit more interesting.
This wine is not so easy to find.
I bought it as a "Close-out" at the Coliseum Dr. Nashua, NH. Liquor Store, but I also saw it at the Mobil Station on Routes 111 and 93.
  


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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sangiovese & Syrah Meet In Italy In SaSyr Rocca Delle Macie



SaSyr Maremma, Tuscany, Rocca Delle Macie 2007 60% Sangiovese-40% Syrah, $9.34-$10.99, 87 points, has a dense purple color, with grape and a nose-puckering spice aroma.

This is a medium bodied Red Wine with a smooth texture and early palate spice, with a nice late palate tartness that finished with moderate black pepper.

I began drinking this wine as soon as I took the cork out, and there was a definite delicious factor, but on the second day this wine went bust for me; suffering a diminished tartness, being replaced by an over-powering plum flavor that reminded me of some sad Syrah wines I've tried.

I paid only $9.34 for the SaSyr, and as a table wine it was okay, and certainly a very good wine within the early hours of opening.







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