Thursday, December 31, 2015

Darioush Napa Valley 2014 Viognier




Darioush Napa Valley 2014 Viognier, $55.95-$57.95, 94 points, poured a refined light gold color drifting quickly to water clear.
Wafting aromas of pome blossoms, tangerine, and key lime were outstanding.
Light crisp body carried mouth-watering acidity with lip smooth finesse.
From snowflake to ballerina touches of tongue-dancing aroma flavors trailing right toward the forever finish declaring the curtain-call to applaud it's intense ginger, white pepper, and apricot close.
Alcohol was an amazingly balanced 14.8%.
Paired perfectly with my Maine fried clams.
Why did I describe this Viognier this way? It was such a surprise to finally find this varietal so well expressed!
I bought this treasure of a wine at Lucias Bodega.


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Yalumba South Australia 2014 Viognier





Yalumba South Australia 2014 Viognier,  $15.99 (gift), 85 points, poured a light golden color trending water clear at the glass edge.
Subtle toasty tangerine, soft vanilla, and a touch of honeysuckle were just okay.
Light-plus body managed good acidity and flavors of melon, lemon zest, ginger, and watermelon rind.
Finished long on ginger notes, an innocuous 13% alcohol, and the trailing palate, but as is often true with this varietal, developed residual flavors as it warmed, wood and an intensifying ginger lingered forever.
Paired okay with my fried pork chops and broccoli in a cheddar cheese sauce.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Couleurs Du Sud 2013 Viognier





Couleurs Du Sud 2013 Viognier, $9.99-$16.99, 87 points, was a deep brass color trending a straw yellow.
Apple and honeysuckle aromas dominated, but hints of toasted bread and vanilla were complementary.
The light-plus body was rather creamy, but crisp enough to drink alone without being boring.
Flavors followed the aroma profile closely, and carried okay into a slightly truncated finish (while cold) that included mild ginger notes and an innocuous alcohol described by an unusual back label which stated: "ACL 11%-14% By VOL". However, this was one of those white wines that improved as it reached room temperature, adding length, intensified ginger and tangerine notes.
Paired fine with my lemon chicken and pasta.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Bodega Cyan 2005 Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) Red Wine




Bodega Cyan 2005 Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo) Red Wine, $12.99-$15.99, 89+ points, poured core black transitioning to blood-red, and finally orange/red at the clear wine ring.
The nose was a lovely coffee, tobacco, black olives, with hints of rose, bourbon, and plum.
Full-bodied, good acidity, mild soft tannin, and a smoked bacon flavor accentuating those of the nose were complex, balanced, and quite good.
Finished long on hot spice, a warm 14.5% alcohol, and a hint of butterscotch.
Paired perfectly with my Australian spiced lamb rib-chops.






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Monday, December 28, 2015

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard 2013 Dry Riesling (Fingerlakes)







Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard 2013 Dry Riesling, $17.99-$19.99, 87 points, was a pale to straw yellow color.
Aromas of subtle juniper, apple, and honeysuckle were okay.
An almost medium body carried fair-plus acidity, and okay flavors of melon, apple, a slight nuttiness, and apricot.
Finished okay on a well integrated 12% alcohol, ginger notes, and the trailing palate.
I noticed no congeners (TDN/fusel), at all.
Paired well with my Pu-Pu platter.






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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Justin Obtuse Paso Robles 2011 Cabernet Dessert Red Wine


The family Christmas party
always presents a challenge as to what to bring;
this year my contribution was Justin winery's dessert wine
and chocolates. Hopefully the 375ml bottle will satisfy the few non tea toddlers willing to give it a try.


Justin Obtuse Paso Robles 2011 Cabernet Dessert Red Wine, $8.49-$9.99, 84 points, poured a dark ruby grading toward a bright red at the broad clear wine ring and the heavily tear-burdened glass bowl.
Pungent cherry syrup smells drowned-out, except for licorice, more subtle aromas.
Heavy-bodied dessert wine carried bright acidity and rather firm tannin, but the flavors were barely fair, and those only with my pecan pie.
Finished very long with a 15.9% alcohol kick, spice, and the trailing palate.
Sadly, I wasn't satisfied.

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Banfi Castello Poggio Alle Mura 2007 Brunello Di Montalcino





Banfi Castello Poggio Alle Mura 2007 Brunello Di Montalcino, $60.34-$74.99, 95 points, poured an opaque maroon transitioning brick-red near the transparent wine ring and the leggy glass bowl.
Herbaceous aromas were rounded-off with roses, cedar, clove, and a lovely red cherry cordial.
Nearly full-bodied with mouth-watering acids and grainy supportive tannins which carried perfectly aroma mirrored flavors along with a spice palate and bourbon notes.
Finished long on hot spices and the potent 15% alcohol.
Paired wonderfully with our cheese ravioli in marinara sauce, and garlic bread.

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

MUMM Napa Valley Brut Prestige Sparkling Wine





MUMM Napa Valley Brut Prestige Sparkling Wine, $16.29-$19.99, 90 points, erupted in an effervescent storm of typical fizziness (I forgot my bubble-calibrator in San Francisco), the color was that of light brass.
Aromatic toasty apple and pome blossoms were good.
Light, trending light-plus body managed tart citrus with crisp pome fruit and ginger notes.
Finished long with the lingering flavor of Pinot Noir, apple, and a good shot of the 12.5% alcohol.
Varietals were a blend of mostly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but dollops of Pinot Meunier and Pinot Gris are supposed to be in there as well.
Perfectly dry and acidic while pairing perfectly with my Asian cuisine.

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Sparkling Critters These Wines That Glitter

Tis The Season For Sparkling Wines



  Yesterday I began digging into my bare bones stash of  sparkling wines, cause tis the season to celebrate the coming new year and all the bygones and optimisms our fanciful minds can dream up.
  Not being experienced with the bubblies, as I ought to be, leaves me gratefully less likely to be dogmatic about this category of wine, but like the rest of you, I know what I like. So, with that in mind, I still like to share with people the truth; Champagne isn't the only game in town.
  Not having ever tasted the Italian "champagne" styled Franciacorta (The Telegraph-UK), I'm biting at the bit to get at the first one I've found in New Hampshire. For more info from my resource of everything bubbly: Vinogirl post #1,  Vinogirl post #2.
  Then, of course, is the ever consistently good and inexpensive Prosecco, and the less known and variable, but definitely worthy of exploration, Spanish sparkling Cava wines.
  All these, not to mention the ubiquitous American and Australian sparklers that grace super markets and wine boutiques everywhere.
  The idea, as always, is to try something different, and save some money while doing it.

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Llopart Reserva Brut 2011 Rosé Cava, Spain





Llopart Reserva Brut 2011 Rosé Cava, Spain, $22.99-$24.99, 92 points, poured a lovely ripe peach pink color with a full head of foam and diminishing residual effervescence.
Aromatic peach, flowers, and red fruit were wonderful.
The invigorating, sparkling, and dry light body managed early palate pretend sweetness with a clean bone dry strawberry transitioning toward a tart red raspberry.
Finished long on the trailing palate, just a hint of lemon, and a perfectly comfortable 11.5% alcohol.
This was the most expensive Cava I've tasted, but well worth the price, especially as compared with good Champagne.





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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon







Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Cask 23, 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, $195.99-$239.99 (Was A Christmas gift), 95 points, poured core black grading crushed black currant purple/red with a transparent wine ring.
Aromas of loam, toasty fig, and cedar were subtle.
Full-bodied with mouth-watering acidity, smooth layered tannins, and rich flavors of black cherry cordial, anise, and savory were outstanding.
The forever finish of black pepper, mint, eucalyptus, boysenberry, and a warm, but balanced 14.5% alcohol were amazing.
Someone knew what to buy me for Christmas (Thanks Ethan).

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Wente Southern Hills Livermore Valley 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon





Wente Southern Hills Livermore Valley 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, $12.59-$16.99, 86 points, appeared an unusually bright purple/red with maroon flashes and a broad clear wine ring at the leggy glass wall.
The nose was subtle red raspberry, strawberry, and blueberry with a hint of leather.
Medium-bodied with good acidity, slightly astringent tannin, and flavors that mirrored the nose with a touch of tart pomegranate.
Finished okay on trailing red fruit, warm spice notes, and a well-integrated 13.5% alcohol.
Varietals were 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petite Sirah, 6% Petit Verdot, 5% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Franc.
Though technically a Cabernet Sauvignon, this Southern Hills Livermore seemed more akin to a light red wine, and while Wente's web-site describes this wine as having flavors of plum and black cherry, for the life of me, I couldn't taste those at all.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Franciscan Estate Napa Valley 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon





Franciscan Estate Napa Valley 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, $16.98-$24.99, 90+ points, poured core black grading dark purple/red toward the broad clear wine ring.
Beautiful aromas of violets, black currant, cedar and chocolate impressed.
Near full-bodied with fair-plus acidity, and comfortably appropriate tannin managed with aplomb, flavors reflective of the aromas.
Finished well on the trailing palate, dried herbs, mild spice notes, and a balanced 13.5% alcohol.
Varietals are 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 3% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot, and 1% Syrah.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

San Joaquin Wine Co. "Toschi" Vineyards 2012 Zinfandel






San Joaquin Wine Co. "Toschi" Vineyards 2012 Zinfandel, $8.99-$10.99, 84 points, was a pomegranate red with a clear wine ring.
Herbal aromas with hints of red currant and chocolate were okay.
The medium body carried fair to good acidity with rough edgy tannin, strawberry, red cherry, and smoky mulberry flavors.
Finished fair and tart with the trailing palate, a touch of eucalyptus, and a hot 14.4% alcohol.
Paired okay with my chili and buffalo wings.
I bought this Zinfandel, with a coupon, at the Market Basket Super Market in Londonderry.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Meinklang Frizzante 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé






Meinklang Frizzante 2014 Pinot Noir Rosé
(Austria), $17.96-$19.95, 86 points, poured an orange/pink color.
Profuse aromas of strawberry, rhubarb, and what I know is the odor of the Pinot Noir grape were just okay.
The effervescence was less than a typical Prosecco.
Medium-bodied with good acidity, very mild tannin, flavors reflective of the aromas, and the off dry consistency grew on me, as my first impression wasn't too positive.
Finished well with Jasmine, strawberry/rhubarb, a hint of sweet red cherry, and an innocuous 10.5% alcohol.
This rosé was bought at Angela's pasta and cheese.






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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Campaccio Terrabianca Toscana IGT 2010 Red Wine






Campaccio Terrabianca Toscana IGT 2010 Red Wine, $27.19-$36.99, 90 points, poured a deep purple/red with maroon flashes and trending brick-red at the broad clear wine ring and leggy glass bowl.
Aromatic black olives, black pepper, red cherry, black cherry, strawberry, pomegranate, and bourbon on the nose were astounding after all the Cali Cabernet wines I've been partaking of.
Medium-bodied with concentrated acidity, still tight tannins, and crisp flavors of cherry, tart pomegranate, and earth notes.
Finished tart and woody on the trailing palate with red pepper spice and a warm 13.5% alcohol.
Varietals were 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.


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NHWM's Last-minute Gift Recommendations






Though there are many wine boutiques in New Hampshire, most last minute Christmas wine shoppers will visit one of the many convenient New Hampshire Liquor and Wine Outlets (I've been to about 40 of them).
If you are asking me for my recommendations, it'll come from anyone of these stores (see availability),
except as I may recommend a "go to winery",  my recommendations are based on wines I've tasted this year, with an emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.


Cabernet Sauvignon Under $10.00
Hayes Valley Central Coast 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, $8.49-$12.99, 88 points, now $9.99.


Cabernet Sauvignon Under $20.00
Desert Wind Washington State 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, $15.29-$18.99, 90+ points, now $15.99.
Dry Creek Vineyard Sonoma County 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, $17.09-$24.99, 91 points, now $19.99.

Cabernet Sauvignon Under $40.00
Honig Napa Valley 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, $28.79-$39.99, 93+ points, now $36.99.

Chardonnay
Under $15.00
Buehler Russian River Valley 2013 Chardonnay, $11.99-$19.99, 91 points

Under $20.00
J Russian River 2013 Chardonnay, $15.99-$28.99, 92 points

Under $30.00
Groth Napa Valley 2013 Chardonnay, $29.99-$31.99, 93 points

Over $30.00
Grgich Hills Estate Napa Valley 2012 Chardonnay, $39.99-$49.99, 94 points, now $44.99.

Sauvignon Blanc
see: Best of 2013 Cali Sauvignon Blanc (Now $17.99)

This year the NHLSs are presenting four very good and reasonably priced Zinfandel red wines, all of which I recommend:
Hartford Russian River Valley Old Vine 2012 Zinfandel, $28.79-$31.99, 90 points
Haywood Los Chamizal Sonoma Valley 2009 Zinfandel, $15.99,$29.99, 89 points
Renwood Amador 2011 Timberline Zinfandel, $21.99,$39.99, 90 points
Rosenblum Monte Rosso Vineyard Sonoma Valley 2010 Zinfandel Reserve, $21.99-$43.99, 91+ points

However my favorite "Zinfandel" of the year was really a Red Wine, consisting of only 70% of the Zinfandel grape varietal, and as is so often the case, will now set you back $36.99.
Ridge Lytton Springs 2012 Red Wine, $33.29-$36.99, 93 points

Prices may vary on the following wines.

My pick for Rioja (Spain)
Marqués de Cáceres Gran Reserva 2008 Rioja, $24.99-$29.99, 92+ points

All other Spanish Red Wines
Bodegas Borsao Berola, Campo de Borja, 2010 Red Wine, $12.99-$14.99, 90 points
Bodegas Convento de Las Claras Ribera del Duero, Spain, 2013 Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), $20.99-$22.99, 90 points
Bodegas La Cartuja 2013 Priorat Red Wine, $14.99-$19.99, 90 points
Cellar Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica Montsant, 2013 Old Vines Grenache/Syrah, $11.99-$13.99, 90 points
E-2 Spanish Non-Vintage Red Wine, $15.99-$19.99, 90+ points


My picks for Chianti Red Wines
Castellare 2013 Chianti Classico, $21.99-$24.99, 91+ points
Rocca delle Macie 2011 Chianti Classico Riserva, $19.99-$21.99, 91 points

If you haven't found what you are looking for, try last years picks which were more comprehensive, and probably still current:
Wine as a last-minute Christmas gift (2014)

Above all, have a Merry Christmas and don't drink and drive!

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Frank Sinatra

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Artemis 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon





Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Artemis 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, $42.95-$56.99, 94 points, poured the blackest of this year's cabs tasted, but toward the clear wine ring, it transitioned to a crushed black currant purple/red.
Subtle aromas of plumb, cedar, coffee, tobacco, oak, savory, and lavender were remarkable.
Full-bodied with good acidity, firm grainy tannin, and complex flavors reflective of the aromas with massive amounts of black fruit.
Finished forever long on blackberry cordial, hot spices, anise, and a warm 14.5% alcohol.

Paired perfectly with a spiced rubbed rib-eye steak and cheese ravioli in tomato sauce.
Of the four vintages tasted, the 2012 just may be the best!

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

MacRostie Winery And Vineyard Sonoma Coast 2013 Chardonnay





MacRostie Winery And Vineyard Sonoma Coast 2013 Chardonnay, $18.99-$22.99, 88 points, is a typical Cali Chardonnay: straw yellow color, smells of melon with hints of caramel, medium-plus body, fair acidity, melon and tropical fruit accented with lemon, vanilla, and caramel.
Finished on the trailing palate, good ginger notes, and a balanced 14.5% alcohol.
Paired fine with my BLT.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Buehler Napa Valley 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon






Buehler Napa Valley 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, $23.99-$26.99, 89 points, poured core black grading blackberry purple/red with maroon flashes, and a trailing flame-red toward the broad clear wine ring.
The smell of briny blackberry, black currant, and leather were bright, fresh, and quite good.

The very fruity medium-plus body carried good acidity and firm appropriate tannin for such a young Cabernet Sauvignon.
Flavors of cola, mulberry, and an herbal black currant were ripe.
Finished long with anise, the diminishing late palate, good spice notes, and a well integrated 14.1% alcohol.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Buehler Napa Valley 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon




Buehler Napa Valley 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, $16.99-$21.99, 90 points, poured core black grading blackberry purple/red and finally flaming red toward the broad clear wine ring.
Aromas began with a rather noticeable black currant, but wild-berry aromas were excellent, and hints of cardamom, leather, and cedar were pleasant.
Medium to medium-plus body with fair acidity and smooth layered tannin managed flavors reflective of the aromas and a hint of mint with poise.
Finished well on the trailing palate, hot spice, roses, and a warm 14.5% alcohol.
Paired perfectly with my spiced lamb rib chops.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Albert Bichot Saint~Amour Les Champlettes 2014 Gamay (Beaujolais) Red Wine




Albert Bichot Saint~Amour Les Champlettes 2014 Gamay (Beaujolais) Red Wine, $18.99-$20.99, 89 points, appeared as a rainbow of bright red colors, mostly cranberry red, but flashes of ruby and maroon complicated the chart.
Aromatic floral red cherry with just a hint of what is becoming a more standardized Necco Wafer (see: The Fun of Smelling) descriptor were intriguing.
Medium-bodied marked by mouth-watering acidity and surprising fine supportive tannin managed a rather dry red wine with flavors of cherry, strawberry, cola, and a nutty note.
Finished well on hints of white pepper and marzipan with a balanced 13% alcohol.




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