Tag Archives: wine critic

2009 Chateau Pindefleurs


Chateau Pindefleurs

France, Bordeaux, Saint Emilion

Wine Tasting Note:

Right after pop, disjointed nose and palate of strong alcohol. Takes 30-60 mins. to blow-off. After a couple hours open, fruit forward nose of plum and black currants, with a bit of mint and the alcohol is still prominent for 13.5%. High tannins – typical of a young Bordeaux, but not as refined as the better wines from St. Emilion. Medium high acidity and a light texture. Very little fruit on the palate, mostly bitter chocolate from beginning to end. There is a bit of underlying minerality. This wine does not have a particularly balanced approach and very little complexity. It is crying for a steak to accompany it, but will not add to the flavor, just clear your palate between bites. Not unpleasant, but not enjoyable either.

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Filed under Bordeaux, French Wine, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

2007 Carr Paredon Syrah


Carr Paredon Syrah

California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara

Wine Tasting Note:

The fruit originated from an estate vineyard south of Santa Barbara (city). One of the few ocean-facing vineyards in the area. Copious amount of fruit on the nose and palate for such a cool, foggy location. I will track future vintages… as the vines age this will become one of the better syrah producing sites on the Central Coast. – Fruit forward nose of thick plum, blackberry and eucalyptus. Fruit forward palate of plum, blackberry and milk chocolate. The mid-palate transitions to loads of sweet vanilla, with a medium-long finish of bitter chocolate. Medium-high acidity and high tannins. The tannins have the good grace to wait and present on the finish. Wonderful thick texture and mouth-feel. Missing some savory aspects of Northern Rhones, but all in all… a nice new world cool-climate syrah. Almost like a black-fruit zin… but more texture. This will improve with some time in the cellar. I enjoyed the wine today, but give it 3-4 more years for the fruit to subside and the tannins to soften and this should become a superior, balanced wine.

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Filed under Cool Climate Wine, Santa Barbara County, Syrah/Shiraz, U.S. Wines by Region, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

Coravin Product Review

The Wifey purchased a Coravin as a gift for Christmas. Wow… gadget and wine, all in one. For those of you who are not sure of what this is, here is a photo:


Here is the link to the manufacturer’s website: http://www.coravin.com/.

Why Use a Coravin?

Well frankly, I was initially struggling with this idea and did not open the box right away. After a few days, I popped the box open to assemble it and make sure it worked properly. All good… assembles easily, few moving parts. Reminded me a little of those argon gas pumps they came out with several years ago to preserve open wine.

Gave it a try initially on an inexpensive bottle. Didn’t require instructions and very simple to use. The cork self-seals tight, right behind removing the needle. So, the question became: what situation would be right to break-out the device? You hard-core wine-o’s will appreciate my first official use…

New Year’s Eve party at our house. One of my wife’s friends was going on and on about how she hated merlot. Finally, I couldn’t handle it any longer and told her: she just hadn’t tried good merlot yet. Now, you have to understand, here in the USA, 75% of the merlot we produce is some of the worst plonk on the planet. It kills me to think of all the U.S. consumers that think this is what merlot should be (personal campaign of mine)… so, I pulled a 2001 Pride Mountain Merlot out of my cellar and dragged out my Coravin. I challenged her to try it. I served her up a 2 oz. pour of the Pride and rocked her world! Pow! Another merlot hater converted again! AND, I didn’t have to trash an entire $75 bottle of wine in the process!

Science Behind Coravin

Once you pierce the cork (can only be used on cork closures), the lever introduces argon gas under pressure. Then via a two-way valve of some sort, the pressure is maintained, while the wine is forced out of the hollow needle into the glass. Works pretty slick… So, only two potential drawbacks I can envision:

1. If the cork is too dry on an older bottle, either the seal may be lost due to loss of integrity of the cork, or the cork may not show enough resilience to self-seal upon removal. IMO, this possibility does not seem to be very worrisome.

2. My other concern is not serious, but rather more interesting. Once the device replaces the air in the capsule with argon gas, the wine is served and then the bottle is returned to the cellar. Without further oxygen to draw from, the typical wine aging process would have to be significantly slowed, if not stopped. Since argon is heavier than air, the wine may be sealed off from air for the balance of the life of the wine. How does wine age in such an environment? I don’t think there is any research on this??

Coravin Conclusion

A very cool device! If you would like to pour a glass while alone, knowing you will be unable to polish off a bottle… PERFECT! The balance of the bottle will be perfectly stored, for the next time you decide to draw a glass, or pop the bottle. I may start drinking more expensive wine, when alone – with no concern for wasting the bottle. If you have a $100 bottle of 20 year old Bordeaux and intend to pour a glass and put it back in the cellar, you may want to think twice. I have no idea how an argon environment will effect the continued natural aging process of high-quality wines in storage.

Science again solves a challenging problem facing our world, preventing the waste of good wine! Next up: reliable hangover relief!

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Filed under Restaurant, Sommelier, Wine Collecting, Wine Critics, Wine Education, Wine Industry, Wine Tasting

2011 Dominio Del Plata Susana Balbo Signature Cabernet Sauvignon


Dominio Del Plata Susana Balbo Signature Cabernet Sauvignon

Argentina, Mendoza

Wine Tasting Note:

The nose is very fruit driven… ripe plum and blackberry, sweet carmel and a slight floral note. The nose will fool you! The palate starts with a hint of blackberry and black currant and then full-on hits you with tar and charcoal. The mid-palate is full of sweet vanilla with a touch of black pepper and there is a medium-length finish of bitter dark chocolate. The alcohol is not very evident. The acidity is medium-high. The cab component is still young and tannic, but the malbec softens the wine – just short of silky. I am not sure what to make of this wine? It is not unpleasant, but there are so many conflicting flavors that do not necessarily compliment each other… This may not be enjoyable for some people, so read this note carefully before deciding to try. Aging may not improve this much. The value was good at $18/btl – providing a significant amount of complexity. So, the best evaluation might be to describe this wine as: “interesting”.

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Filed under Mendoza, Wine from Argentina, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

2008 Pamplin Family Winery Proprietary Red


Pamplin Family Winery

Oregon, Willamette Valley, Dundee Hills

Wine Tasting Note:

Nose is hot, but after the alcohol clears, the glass is full of ripe plum and blackberry, with cassis, herbal mint and a faint floral tinge. The alcohol is more integrated on the palate. The texture is soft, silky and feels wonderful in the mouth. Medium-high tannins and bright acidity. Fruit forward in the mouth with plum, blackberry and vanilla migrating to a mid-palate of milk chocolate and a medium length bitter finish with herbal and earthy over-tones. Although this was purchased from a tasting room in Oregon, I was told the the fruit was sourced from Washington State… and you can tell. I could not find information about the blend, but this has to be merlot based and whatever they blend with provides additional structure and tannins. This could use another 3-5 years in the cellar and will continue to improve.

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Filed under Bordeaux/Meritage Blend, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, Wine Tasting

2006 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga


Ramey Wine Cellars

California, Napa Valley, Calistoga

Wine Tasting Note:

2006 was an interesting vintage year that seemed to favor old-world style Napa producers. IMO, it was difficult to find valley floor producers with exceptional wines. Whereas, many of the mountain fruit producers (Spring, Howell, etc.) with a more subdued style (Ladera, Cain, etc.) released amazingly soft, nuanced cabernet sauvignon. This Ramey followed the line… After 30 min. decant, complex nose of blackberry, plum, cigar box and mint. This wine is black fruit forward with a mid-palate of vanilla and a medium short finish of bitter dark chocolate. The texture is a bit watery and the alcohol is not integrated well. Medium-high acidity with medium tannins. Rather disjointed and unbalanced. This is difficult to enjoy, without food. Try accompanying beef, or pasta with a rich tomato-based sauce. I don’t think this will improve with more time in the bottle. Drink now.

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Filed under Calistoga, Napa Valley, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes

2004 Piccini Sasso al Poggio IGT


Piccini Sasso al Poggio Toscana IGT

Italy, Tuscany, Chianti

Wine Tasting Note:

Folks, this is some serious wine for the price. After 30 minutes open, more black fruit is peeking out. I will be buying more, if I can find it… Subdued gamey, black fruit nose. Black cherry is on the front of the palate, blackberry, black currant and vanilla on the mid-palate moving towards dark chocolate with an herbal medium length finish that includes a touch of spearmint. The mouth-feel is a bit watery, but is very soft. Medium acidity with medium high tannins. This is not a fruity wine, but for those who appreciate complexity… for $10/btl this is your value wine. I am wrestling with the idea of whether I have tasted a better $10 bottle of wine… Italy continues to provide the biggest surprises in fine wine value in the world! OK, IMHO…


Filed under Chianti IGT, Super Tuscan Blend, Wine Tasting Notes

2007 Delectus Syrah Mt. George Vineyard


Delectus Syrah Mount George Vineyard

California, Napa Valley

Wine Tasting Note:

Strong alcohol on the nose. Hard to pick-up the other aromas. The palate is much more balanced. Less complex than I would have hoped for an old-world style mid-priced syrah, but it was still very enjoyable. Fruit-forward blackberry, plum and black currant flavors moving to rich dark chocolate and a short bitter finish. Good effort on the texture… not silky, or velvetty, but still soft and refined. An amazing feat, considering the alcohol content at 15.8%. Medium tannins and medium-high acidity. The value here was good for a Napa Syrah with some old-world character. Though, this was missing the cool climate complexity I would expect from this style, in higher priced wines.

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Filed under Napa Valley, Wine Tasting Notes

2009 d’Arenberg The Laughing Magpie


d’Arenberg The Laughing Magpie

Australia, McLaren Vale

Wine Tasting Note:

This is not a typical Aussie fruit bomb. 92% shiraz and 8% vognier. Northern Rhone in its way… grapey nose with creme brulee and cinammon. Definitely give this at least a 30 min decant. Directly out of the bottle, this is very smooth, but watery and the flavors are off-putting – like grape candy. As it opens, it becomes more complex. The palate hits you first with black table grapes and blackberry. The mid-palate has black-currant moving into a long bitter dark chocolate finish. I have tasted other syrah blends like this and the viognier (8% is too much?) had the same effect on the nose and palate. The acidity is medium-high, but the tannins are mostly hidden until decanted, then they reveal themselves in a fairly big way as chewy and medium-high. Has a little bit of that Northern Rhone oily, tar characteristic, but no olive tapenade and earthiness. The grapey fruit flavor begins to subside after an hour, but is still too much. At this stage of its life, this would not be much of a food wine, although it has the backbone for it. I enjoyed it as an aperitif (after decant) and for $20/btl, it was a good value. This may just be too young. I am thinking after 3-5 years, the fruit may subside a bit and allow other flavors to present. It certainly has the backbone to allow aging. Will tuck the others away for a few years and see if it has the potential to improve, as I hope.

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Filed under McLaren Vale, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine Tasting Notes

2010 Caligiore Malbec Reserve


Caligiore Malbec Reserve

Argentina, Mendoza, Lujan de Cuyo

Wine Tasting Note:

Nose of plum and blackberry with cooked green bell pepper vegetal undertones. Palate of blackberry, black currant and oak in front with a short finish of smokey tar. Medium acidity and medium-low tannins. The backbone is lacking. Texture becomes a bit watery. Not the big, textured, fruity malbec that I have come to equate with Mendoza, but interesting enough. Value is about right at $14/btl.

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Filed under Malbec, Mendoza, Wine Tasting, Wine Tasting Notes