Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spencer Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Spencer Family Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Origin: California
Blend: Sauvignon Blanc (100%)
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Bottle Closure: Natural Cork
Purchase Date: August 2010
Suggested Retail Price: $9.99

Our review: Greenish gold in color, this wine has fresh aromas of citrus (gooseberry, lemon grass) with notes of green apple and spice. Very smooth on the palate, the fruit flavors continue to evolve and develop into the finish, which is a little on the dry, astringent side but otherwise complex and of interest.

Our rating: This is probably not a sipping wine, but a terrific food-friendly one. Crisp enough to accompany most seafood dishes, but well-rounded to the point that it would work well with most poultry and pork dishes. We think it might best be paired with Asian cuisines, which is how we enjoyed our bottle. We're generally not fond of the typically over-oaked sauvignon blancs from California, but this one has a very nice balance to it, and we rate it Above Average, nearly Excellent. The price indicated is suggested retail; if coupled with a package deal, it is less, in which case this wine is an excellent value.

No taste profile from the winemaker found.

Winery website: None found.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Frei Brothers Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Frei Brothers Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Origin: Russian River Valley, California
Blend: Sauvignon Blanc (100%)
Alcohol Content: 13.9%
Bottle Closure: Natural Cork
Purchase Date: August 2010
Suggested Retail Price: $15.99

Our review: Light straw gold in color, this wine has citrus aromas coupled with grassy and spice notes. The flavor profile on the palate is similar, perfectly balanced, and creamy smooth. The finish has a touch of heat and adds some spicy elements.

Our rating: This is a very nice wine, one that deserves to be served with flavorful poultry or even pork dishes; it doesn't strike us pairing well with seafood or shellfish. Very complex, it's hard to discern all of the various contributing elements, but it's worth taking the time to explore them. We rate it Above Average, nearly Excellent.

Taste profile from the winemaker: "Lively acidity is complemented with aromas of citrus, melon, and fresh cut grass with hints of vanilla and cream. The aromas extend through to the palate and culminate in a crisp, light, enduring finish."

Winery website: Frei Brothers.

Friday, August 27, 2010

La Petite Tour Classic White Table Wine 2009

La Petite Tour Classic White Table Wine 2009
Origin: California
Blend: Unknown
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Bottle Closure: Natural Cork
Purchase Date: August 2010
Suggested Retail Price: $9.99

Our review: Light golden yellow in color, this wine has aromas of citrus and lemon grass with slight floral notes. The fruit flavors, which are more tropical in character, are full and rounded on the palate with a good acidic balance. The finish has a very slight sweetness to it.

Our rating: We could not find any information about the grapes used in this white wine blend (which seems to be exclusive to Wine Insiders), but the citrus (and to a lesser extent tree fruit) character suggests that it may be primarily (or mostly) pinot grigio. We enjoyed its full flavor, and served it with an appetizer platter, with which it paired quite nicely. Overall, we rate it Above Average, nearly Excellent. The price indicated is suggested retail; if coupled with a package deal, it is less, in which case this wine is a very good value.

Taste profile from the vendor: "Delicately aromatic with flavors of ripe pear and surprisingly bright citrus notes in a medium bodied, delicious to the last drop quaffer."

Winery website: None found.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Big House White Wine 2009 3L Box

Big House White Wine 2009 3L Box
Origin: California
Blend: "A varying mixture of Mediterranean varieties" and believed to include Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne, Malvasia Bianca, Orange Muscat, and Muscat Canelli
Alcohol Content: 13.5%
Bottle Closure: 3L Box
Purchase Date: July 2010
Purchase Price: $17.99

Our review: Light gold in color, this was has aromas of tree fruit (apple, peaches) with significant notes of citrus. Relatively light-bodied, the fruit flavor is smooth on the palate, is primarily apple, and is nicely balanced. The finish, however, isn't all that harmonious and is slightly unpleasant, astringent with too much minerality.

Our rating: We served this wine as we think is intended, straight from the refrigerator. And our review is based on the wine at this temperature. But we found that it tends to get better as it warms up a bit, becoming slightly more floral and sweet with an improved finish. We reviewed the Big House White 2007 in a bottle a year or so ago, rating it Average. We think this 3 liter box isn't quite as good, but still rate it Average. (Note: we couldn't find the exact blend of grapes used in this wine, and simply copied the general description from the winery's website.)

No taste profile from the winemaker found.

Winery website: Big House Wine.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cupcake Pinot Grigio 2009

Cupcake Pinot Grigio 2009
Origin: Trentino, Italy
Blend: Pinot Grigio (100%)
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Bottle Closure: Screw Cap
Purchase Date: August 2010
Suggested Retail Price: $14.00

Our review: Light gold in color with aromas of freshly cut golden delicious apples with notes of citrus flowers. The fruit flavors on the palate are more tropical in character, notably pineapple, with a crisp balancing citric acidity. The finish is clean and refreshing.

Our rating: This wine has a lot of complexity to it, with intriguing nuances from the nose to the finish. It is probably best enjoyed alone on a lazy afternoon, though it is also quite food friendly. We enjoyed our bottle outdoors with grilled skewers of chicken and vegetables. An most interesting take on this varietal, we rate it Above Average, nearly Excellent.

Taste profile from the winemaker: "A nose that shows hints of pineapple, pears, and sweet lemons. The body is full and gives way to a creamy mid-palate, integrating tropical fruits, with the vibrant zing of citrus fruits. It is reminiscent of a pineapple upside down cupcake."

Winery website: Cupcake Vineyards.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Kiwi Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Kiwi Cuvee Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Origin: Loire Valley, France
Blend: Sauvignon Blanc (100%)
Alcohol Content: 12.0%
Bottle Closure: Screw Cap
Purchase Date: July 2010
Purchase Price: $8.99

Our review: Light straw in color with silver highlights, this wine has light citrus scents with fresh, grassy notes. A bit tart on the palate, the flavors lean toward gooseberry and lime. A balancing acidity quickly develops but is slightly excessive, leaving the finish to be somewhat astringent.

Our rating: Though the word "kiwi" is on the label, this isn't a New Zealand wine, but it is made in that rather distinctive style. Best served with seafood, and most particularly broiled or grilled white fish filets, this wine can also accompany any meal that has a significant vegetable component. This is a credible effort, and with wines from New Zealand rapidly becoming over-priced, this is definitely worth a try. We rate it Above Average.

No taste profile from the winemaker found.

Winery website: None found.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Anakena Indo Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Anakena Indo Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Origin: San Antonio Valley, Chile
Blend: Sauvignon Blanc (100%)
Alcohol Content: 13.0%
Bottle Closure: Screw Cap
Purchase Date: July 2010
Purchase Price: $9.99

Our review: Light golden yellow with silver highlights, this wine has a grassy aroma coupled with citrus (gooseberry, lime zest) notes. Silky smooth on the palate, the fruit flavors are initially a bit muted before coming alive. There's a nice acidic balance here. The long finish has some subtlety to it.

Our rating: It's no secret we're fans of the standard Anakena sauvignon blancs: we've rated and reviewed three vintages so far (2006, 2007, 2008) giving each a nearly excellent rating. So we were anxious to try one of their slightly more expensive labels (though to be honest, other than source of grapes, we're not sure what the difference might be). Though this wine retains the classic flavor profile of this varietal, it is incredibly smooth, probably its best feature. Serve with fish or, as we did, with Asian cuisine. We rate it Excellent.

Taste profile from the winemaker: "Intense citrus and tropical notes. On the palate it is fresh and crisp."

Winery website: Anakena Wines (Chile).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Augey White Bordeaux 2008

Augey White Bordeaux 2008
Origin: Bordeaux, France
Blend: Sauvignon Blanc (75%), Semillon (25%)
Alcohol Content: 12.0%
Bottle Closure: Synthetic Cork
Purchase Date: July 2010
Purchase Price: $7.99

Our review: Light yellow with green highlights, this wine is very lightly scented with delicate aromas of apple and lemon zest. In contrast to the nose, the palate is quite flavorful, mostly citrus-based flavors though there's a hint of sweetness balancing the acidity. The finish is lengthy and very slightly tart.

Our rating: This is a very nice effort, especially at this price point. It's a good wine to serve with an informal meal of chicken or fish but could also be paired with an appetizer or salad course. We enjoyed our bottle and rate it Above Average.

Taste profile from the winemaker: "Fresh aromas of citrus, apples and a hint of lemon grass. The crisp fruity flavors pair well with fish, chicken, salads, or goat cheese."

Winery website: Prestige Wine Group (importers).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Palo Alto Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Palo Alto Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Origin: Maule Valley, Chile
Blend: Sauvignon Blanc (100%)
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Bottle Closure: Screw Cap
Purchase Date: July 2010
Purchase Price: $10.99

Our review: Golden straw with green highlights, this wine has aromas of gooseberry and lemon zest with soft vegetal (asparagus) notes. Crisp on the palate with flavors of lime and grapefruit, there is a nice balance to the acidity. The finish is clean, though a tad too tart.

Our rating: This makes for a nice, summer lunch wine, which is how we enjoyed our bottle (with a spring mix green salad and fresh rolls and butter). We can also see it paired with grilled or broiled white fish filets, even shrimp or scallops. A very nice effort, though it seems priced a bit high, we rate it on the high side of Above Average.

Taste profile from the winemaker: "Mouth-watering flavors of gooseberry and grapefruit mingle with mineral, herbal notes."

Winery website: Palo Alto Wines.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Beso de Vino Macabeo 2008

Beso de Vino Macabeo 2008
Origin: Carinena, Spain
Blend: Macabeo (100%)
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Bottle Closure: Screw Cap
Purchase Date: July 2010
Purchase Price: $10.99

Our review: Brilliant gold in color, this wine has aromas of freshly cut tropical fruit: pineapple, papaya, and melon, with a slight hint of honey. The palate has a similar flavor profile, with some heat developing into the finish, which has a slight mineral, almost chalky character to it, not intrusive but noticeable.

Our rating: Macabeos, also known as viuras, are intended to be consumed young, so maybe this one is a bit past its prime, seeming to have developed over time a more robust character than possibly intended by the winemaker. It's definitely an interesting wine, one that could easily be paired with most poultry dishes (which is how we enjoyed our bottle). We'll have to seek out a more recent effort to try for comparison; meanwhile, this particular vintage still scores relatively well, on the high side of Average. (Note: Macabeo is one of the grapes typically included in the production of cava, one of our favorite sparkling wines.)

Taste profile from the winemaker: "Light straw with a hint of green. Fresh and crisp from natural acidity. Aromas of fresh lime, pineapple, mixed with floral components. Finishes fresh and long."

Winery website: Beso de Vino: Grandes Vinos y Vinedos.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cupcake Mosel Riesling 2009

Cupcake Mosel Riesling 2009
Origin: Mosel, Germany
Blend: Riesling (100%)
Alcohol Content: 10.5%
Bottle Closure: Screw Cap
Purchase Date: August 2010
Suggested Retail Price: $14.00

Our review: Pale golden straw in color, this wine has aromas of tropical fruit with slight spicy, vanilla notes. Smooth on the palate, the fruit flavors (ripe melon, orange) are initially sweet before being quickly balanced with a moderating acidity. There is little finish.

Our rating: This is a pleasant riesling, a tad sweeter than we were expecting of this German varietal but not excessively so. We served our bottle with an afternoon tea, a nice choice. A Sunday brunch would also be a good pairing. Earlier this year we rated the Cupcake Washington Riesling 2009 Above Average; comparable to this bottle but for different reasons. Serving the bottles together, comparing the two, would likely make for an interesting discussion.

Taste profile from the winemaker: "Hints of ripe honeydew, lemon chiffon and a broad palate with a touch of zing before finishing with a strength. It is reminiscent of a lemon cream cupcake."

Winery website: Cupcake Vineyards.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Ruffino Orvieto Classico 2008

Ruffino Orvieto Classico 2008
Origin: Orvieto, Italy
Blend: Grechetto (40%), Procanico (20%), other white varietals (Verdello, Canaiolo Bianco, 40%)
Alcohol Content: 12.5%
Bottle Closure: Natural Cork
Purchase Date: July 2010
Purchase Price: $8.99

Our review: Greenish yellow in color, this wine has aromas of tree fruit (apple, pear) with significant floral notes. Velvety smooth on the palate, the fruit flavors have a good acidic balance. Some minerality and a touch of spice, maybe nuts, appears in the lengthy finish.

Our rating: This wine will make any meal more enjoyable. We paired our bottle with pan seared chicken breasts and vegetables, a fine choice. We rated the Ruffino Orvieto Classico 2007 just Average (it contained a significantly different percentage of blended grapes), but this one is much better: we rate it Above Average, nearly Excellent.

Taste profile from the winemaker: "Colour: Brillant straw yellow. Aroma: The bouquet is very fruity and flowery with fresh notes of meadow flowers, citrus fruits, golden apple and fig. Tasting profile: The taste is refreshing and smooth thanks to the balance between structure, acidity and fruity notes. The aftertaste is long and fragrant, with hits of fresh almond."

Winery website: Ruffino.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cono Sur Viognier 2008

Cono Sur Viognier 2008
Origin: Chile
Blend: Viognier (100%)
Alcohol Content: 13.5%
Bottle Closure: Screw Cap
Purchase Date: July 2010
Purchase Price: $8.99

Our review: This wine is medium gold in color with aromas of tropical fruit (notably melon and pineapple) and some very distinct and intriguing floral and spice notes. There is an initial sensation of heat on the palate, but this quickly dissipates into a well-balanced flavor/acidity profile. The finish is lengthy and rather complex.

Our rating: This is a very fine wine, especially at this price point. Bold but not assertive, it would pair well with most hearty meals. We served our bottle with stuffed chicken breasts and roasted potatoes, a good choice. Based on just three relatively inexpensive bottles from this label (we previously rated the Cono Sur Sauvignon Blanc 2008 Above Average and the Cono Sur Riesling 2007 on the high side of Average), we think this is a winery to look for. This is the best of the lot, however, and we rate this particular wine Above Average, nearly Excellent.

Taste profile from the winemaker: "Dressed in the beautiful medium golden colour characteristic of this variety. Sweet fruity notes of apricots, citrics and peaches combine with pleasant oak aromas. Fresh and lively in mouth, this Viognier with concentrated stone fruits, is fresh tasty, full and savoury. A wine of great character, density and structure, with a good acidity level and great persistence."

Winery website: Cono Sur Vineyards & Winery.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Norton Torrontes 2008

Norton Torrontes 2008
Origin: Mendoza, Argentina
Blend: Torrontes (100%)
Alcohol Content: 12.0%
Bottle Closure: Natural Cork
Purchase Date: July 2010
Purchase Price: $7.99

Our review: Medium gold in color, this wine is very floral, much more so than of fruit (a hint of peach or apricot); there's also a touch of honey in the nose. Quite smooth on the palate, the flavor has more spice character than fruit. The finish is very long and continues to develop.

Our rating: This is a deeply complex wine, one not easily broken into constituent parts. We enjoyed it, but we mis-paired it, serving it with stir-fried chicken and rice; we think pairing it with roasted poultry would be much better (though we did like it with the rice). An unusual wine and one that will probably have your guests asking more about. It's a little too "oaky" for our taste, still we rate it well Above Average.

Taste profile from the winemaker: "Greenish yellow in color with tinges of golden. Very perfumed prevailing fruity and flowery aromas, such as white peach, roses and jasmine. Pleasant on the palate and well balanced."

Winery website: Bodega Norton.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Petirrojo Sauvignon Blanc 2009

Petirrojo Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Origin: Colchagua Valley, Chile
Blend: Sauvignon Blanc (100%)
Alcohol Content: 13.5%
Bottle Closure: Synthetic Cork
Purchase Date: July 2010
Purchase Price: $6.99

Our review: Golden straw in color with citrus aromas coupled with spicy honey notes, this wine is rather dry on the palate with slightly tart citric flavors predominant. There is considerable minerality that develops into the finish, which also intensifies the dryness somewhat.

Our rating: This isn't really a very flavorful wine and it seems flat overall, without much character. It isn't bad by any means, just lacking. We served our bottle at lunch with turkey sandwiches and a mixed green salad; a nice if not inspired choice. We rate it on the low side of Average.

Taste profile from the winemaker: "Yellow color with light green hints. To the nose, presents a grapefruit and white peach aroma and notes of freshly cut herbs. Fresh to the mouth, with great volume, with fruity persistency and vegetal notes. Ideal with an appetizer in summer time and to accompany fish and seafood."

Winery website: ViƱas Bisquertt.

Monday, August 2, 2010

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Conte Priola Pinot Grigio 2009

Conte Priola Pinot Grigio 2009
Origin: Veneto, Italy
Blend: Pinot Grigio (100%)
Alcohol Content: 11.5%
Bottle Closure: Synthetic Cork
Purchase Date: May 2010
Purchase Price: $6.99

Our review: Light lemon gold in color, this wine is wonderfully fragrant, with tree fruit (apple, pear) aromas couple with floral notes. The palate is quite fruity and very nicely balanced; the acidity builds a bit into the finish, which is long and flavorful and very slightly nutty.

Our rating: There's not a lot of complexity to this wine, but it is quite delicious. We served our bottle with a chicken and rice, but we think it is versatile enough to pair with most poultry, fish, or even pork dishes. We previously rated the Conte Priola Pinot Grigio 2007 just Average, but we think this vintage is much better, rating it on the high side of Above Average.

No taste profile from the winemaker found.

Winery website: None found.
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