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Your Wines

Date: Wed, Feb 20, 2008 Wine Tasting

Dear Winery/Distributor,

Thanks for your email and the offer to review your wines. Unfortunately I do not accept wines for review through the mail. All the wines that I review are either purchased or tasted during visits to selected wine regions. In the latter case I will either taste as a member of the general public or if I have a special interest in a winery I will try to organize a tasting with individuals involved with the winery (perferably the winemaker). The main reason for my not accepting wines for review is that it removes any conflict of interest on my part, and as much bias from my reviews as possible. And, of course, any tasting that I do at wineries is something that the public can do if they have the motivation to contact the wineries and organize an individual tasting.

However this is not to say that I am not interested in tasting your wines. If you can supply me with the names of retail outlets for your wines in the San Diego area it is possible that I may purchase some to review in the future. My main interest is Syrah/Shiraz but I do taste more wines than I actually record on my blog.

Thanks again for your interest,
Mike

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Your Wines

Date: Wed, Feb 20, 2008 Wine Tasting

Dear Winery/Distributor,

Thanks for your email and the offer to review your wines. Unfortunately I do not accept wines for review through the mail. All the wines that I review are either purchased or tasted during visits to selected wine regions. In the latter case I will either taste as a member of the general public or if I have a special interest in a winery I will try to organize a tasting with individuals involved with the winery (perferably the winemaker). The main reason for my not accepting wines for review is that it removes any conflict of interest on my part, and as much bias from my reviews as possible. And, of course, any tasting that I do at wineries is something that the public can do if they have the motivation to contact the wineries and organize an individual tasting.

However this is not to say that I am not interested in tasting your wines. If you can supply me with the names of retail outlets for your wines in the San Diego area it is possible that I may purchase some to review in the future. My main interest is Syrah/Shiraz but I do taste more wines than I actually record on my blog.

Thanks again for your interest,
Mike

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Your Wines

Date: Wed, Feb 20, 2008 Wine Tasting

Dear Winery/Distributor,

Thanks for your email and the offer to review your wines. Unfortunately I do not accept wines for review through the mail. All the wines that I review are either purchased or tasted during visits to selected wine regions. In the latter case I will either taste as a member of the general public or if I have a special interest in a winery I will try to organize a tasting with individuals involved with the winery (perferably the winemaker). The main reason for my not accepting wines for review is that it removes any conflict of interest on my part, and as much bias from my reviews as possible. And, of course, any tasting that I do at wineries is something that the public can do if they have the motivation to contact the wineries and organize an individual tasting.

However this is not to say that I am not interested in tasting your wines. If you can supply me with the names of retail outlets for your wines in the San Diego area it is possible that I may purchase some to review in the future. My main interest is Syrah/Shiraz but I do taste more wines than I actually record on my blog.

Thanks again for your interest,
Mike

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Your Wines

Date: Wed, Feb 20, 2008 Wine Tasting

Dear Winery/Distributor,

Thanks for your email and the offer to review your wines. Unfortunately I do not accept wines for review through the mail. All the wines that I review are either purchased or tasted during visits to selected wine regions. In the latter case I will either taste as a member of the general public or if I have a special interest in a winery I will try to organize a tasting with individuals involved with the winery (perferably the winemaker). The main reason for my not accepting wines for review is that it removes any conflict of interest on my part, and as much bias from my reviews as possible. And, of course, any tasting that I do at wineries is something that the public can do if they have the motivation to contact the wineries and organize an individual tasting.

However this is not to say that I am not interested in tasting your wines. If you can supply me with the names of retail outlets for your wines in the San Diego area it is possible that I may purchase some to review in the future. My main interest is Syrah/Shiraz but I do taste more wines than I actually record on my blog.

Thanks again for your interest,
Mike

Read Full Wine Blog Post

Your Wines

Date: Wed, Feb 20, 2008 Wine Tasting

Dear Winery/Distributor,

Thanks for your email and the offer to review your wines. Unfortunately I do not accept wines for review through the mail. All the wines that I review are either purchased or tasted during visits to selected wine regions. In the latter case I will either taste as a member of the general public or if I have a special interest in a winery I will try to organize a tasting with individuals involved with the winery (perferably the winemaker). The main reason for my not accepting wines for review is that it removes any conflict of interest on my part, and as much bias from my reviews as possible. And, of course, any tasting that I do at wineries is something that the public can do if they have the motivation to contact the wineries and organize an individual tasting.

However this is not to say that I am not interested in tasting your wines. If you can supply me with the names of retail outlets for your wines in the San Diego area it is possible that I may purchase some to review in the future. My main interest is Syrah/Shiraz but I do taste more wines than I actually record on my blog.

Thanks again for your interest,
Mike

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Tasting Categories

Date: Tue, Feb 19, 2008 Wine Tasting

Blogger seems useless at designating categories to posts and allowing them to be organized. So I'm going to begin listing the categories in this post, and add to them as more are made.

Classic Wines - The best of the best.

Australia
Red Blends
Shiraz (Pre-2002)
Shiraz 2002
Shiraz 2003
Shiraz 2004
Shiraz 2005
Shiraz 2006

Whites

New Zealand
Whites

Syrah/Shiraz
Pinot Noir
Red - Other

USA
Chardonnay

Petite Syrah (Sirah)
Pinot Noir
Syrah (California)
Zinfandel


Vintage Wines Ltd
Monthly Thursday Tasting 2008

$5 Tastings 2008
Malbecs and Blends February 16


Vintage Wines Ltd
Monthly Thursday Tasting 2007

$5 Tastings 2007


Vintage Wines Ltd
Monthly Thursday Tasting 2006
June
May
2003 Bordeaux April 20
Chardonnay March16
Big Gun Burgundy from 2002 and 2003 January 19


$5 Tastings 2006


Monthly Thursday Tasting 2005
New Release Big Gun Cabernet October 20
1995 and 2000 Bordeaux September 22
American Pinot Noir August 18
Eight Great Wines July 21

Bordeaux May 12
Wines of Espana April 21
Bee's Knees in Aussies March 17
Super Italians February 17


$5 Tastings 2005
Clarendon Hills November 19

Grateful Palate September 10
Marquis Philips August 27

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc May 28
Aussie Values April 23
Zinfandel Februray 19
Syrah from California January 29

Monthly Thursday Tasting 2004
Que Syrah, Shiraz and Sirah August 19
Brunello-vs-Barolo June 17
Pinot Noir From Around The World May 20
The Many Faces of Chardonnay April 22

$5 Tastings 2004
Bar-B-Que Wines June 19

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Malbecs and Blends

Date: Tue, Feb 19, 2008 Wine Tasting

Up until last Saturday I didn’t have any wines from Argentina in my cellar, but after a tasting of Malbecs and Blends at Vintage Wines in San Diego I now have few bottles.

The theme of the Saturday tastings at Vintage changes each week, and at $5/person it is a cheap way to sample wines that you might not otherwise buy. Plus if you pack a few nibbles (cheese, nuts, bread etc) it can turn out to be an enjoyable hour or two.

I try to taste the wines single blind (I know what the theme is but not the wines) to reduce any influence of labels and price. The notes that follow are the order in which the wines were served and I have added the identity of the wines.

2005 Catena Zapata Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (13.5%) $14.99USD
Dark cherry red with red edge. Attractive spicy aromatics infused with mulberry and toasty oak. Soft and supple entry with fine tannins and nice flavor carry that is enhanced by a meaty note. Nice wine. 2, 2, 3.6, 9.5=17.1/20, 86/100.

2006 Achaval-Ferrer Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (13.5%) $16.99USD
Dark cherry red with red edge. Most expressive of the wines with pronounced spices (cinnamon, and nutmeg) together with notes of apricot and (almost) orange zest; I could have been fooled into thinking this very ripe Pinot Noir. Fuller bodied and nicely balanced with firm tannins, juicy acidity and excellent flavor carry onto a lengthy finish. 2, 2, 3.9, 9.7=17.6/20, 88/100.

2005 Mendel Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (13.9%) $19.99USD
Dark cherry red with red edge. Very closed - some dusty, toasty oak and mocha. A full bodied wine with firm tannins but muted flavor carry onto the palate. The mouthfeel of the wine is impressive belying good structural components but it will need time to realize its potential. There is also a hint of alcohol. 2, 2, 3.4, 9.3=16.7/20, 84/100.

2006 Vina Cobos El Felino Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina (14.7%) $13.99USD
Dark cherry red with red edge. A pleasing mix of spices, dark fruit and oak. Full bodied with a soft and supple entry, and impressive depth and concentration across the palate. Excellent carry of flavors onto the palate and a lengthy finish. Very nice wine. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.0=18.0/20, 90/100.

2005 Mendel “Unus”, Red Blend (65% Malbec/35% Cabernet) (14.0%) $37.99USD
Dark cherry red with just a hint of orange/brown at the edge. Another closed wine with just the faintest hints of violets, and beeswax. Full bodied and with excellent mouthfeel supported by very firm tannins and bright acidity. There is trace of flavor carry onto the palate but this is another wine that will need some time to strut its stuff. 2, 2, 3.3, 9.9=17.2/20, 86/100

2003 Lindaflor “Petite Fleur”, (Malbec/Merlot/Syrah) (14.5%) $15.99USD
Still note sure of the makeup of this wine but it is from the Monteviejo stable (and I believe Mendoza).
The most deeply colored wine but the faint orange/brown edge indicates some age. Rich and ripe with plum, mulberry, spices and a meaty note; I was thinking Shiraz at this point. Full bodied and almost sweet on the palate (alcohol?). Firm tannins, well constructed with excellent flavor carry onto a lengthy finish. If it is old, it has years left. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.0=18.1/20, 91/100.

The wines, with the exception of the Mendel’s, were excellent value and attractive drinking now although most could do with 2-5 years in the cellar. The two wines from Mendel deserved more praise because they had excellent structural qualities but they are simply too closed at present to offer any real aromatic pleasures. I was not surprised that I favored the two higher alcohol wines, Lindaflor and the El Felino. They are both very approachable (and cheese and nut friendly). My wife and mother-in-law both preferred the Catena because of its freshness (acidity) and appealing flavors. So I bought them a couple of bottles!

If you want more information on these and other Argentinean wines follow this link to the Wines of Argentina – unfortunately its not all in English.

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2003 Bordeaux: Vintage Wines Ltd, Monthly Thursday Tasting

Date: Wed, Jun 21, 2006 Wine Tasting

2003 Bordeaux
April 20th, 2006 6:30pm.

Fourth Third Thursday Tasting for 2006 at Vintage Wines of San Diego.
Described as “You have read all the hype and seen all the scores now come and try them for yourself!”

These tastings are conducted using a single blind format with the wines poured several hours before. My tasting notes are in the order the wines were served.

1) 2000 Chateau Tertre Daugay (St Emilion) $29.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Concentrated, with earth, dusty, smoky notes backup by aromas of dark fruits. Medium weight with mouth griping astringency and evident acidity that fades on the mid-palate. Needs years to come together. 2, 2, 4.3, 9.6 = 17.9/20, 89/100, 13% alcohol. (WS91, RP86).

2) 2003 Chateau Brane Cantenac (Margaux) $45.99USD
Cherry red with red edge; perhaps just the faintest tinge of brown on the edge. More aromatic than the first wine with violets, anise and damp earth notes. Medium weight with the flavors carrying well onto the palate. The firm astringency is balanced well by mouth watering acidity that supports the finish. Well structured and attractive. 2, 2, 4.4, 10.1 = 18.3/20, 92/100, 13% alcohol. (RP90-93).

3) 2003 Sociando Mallet (Haut Medoc) $41.99USD
Dense, dark cherry red with red edge. Almost closed, some ripe banana, cassis and violets. Fuller bodied with big, drying tannins and excellent presence of flavors on the palate. A well structured impressive wine. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.2 = 18.1/20, 91/100. 13% alcohol. (RP92-94).

4) 2003 Chateau Lynch Bages (Pauillac) $56.99USD
Cherry red with red edge; faint orange tinge to the edge. Faint barnyard (almost urine!) over vanilla and smoky notes. Softer, with acidity more evident earlier on the palate, fading on the finish. Not my style, and not of the quality of the 2000. 2, 2, 3.9, 9.8 = 17.7/20, 89/100. 13% alcohol. (RP89, WS92).

5) 2003 Chateau Quinault L’Eclos (St Emilion) $39.99USD
Cherry red with red edge. Faintest hint of EA. Fades to faint barnyard, earthy, dusty oak geranium, and bacon fat. Full bodied with great structure and balance; the firm tannins being backed up by vibrant acidity. Palate lacks depth of flavor. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.5 = 17.2/20, 86/100. 13.5% alcohol. (RP89-92).

6) 2003 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte (Pessac Leognan) $89.99USD
Cherry red with the faintest orange tinge to the edge. Rich and ripe with smoky and dusty notes over a suggestion of ripe banana. Full bodied with very firm tannins and excellent carry of flavors onto the palate. Nicely structured. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.2 = 18.1/20, 91/100. 13% alcohol. (RP90-93).

7) 2003 Chateau Monbousquet (St Emilion) $53.99USD
Cherry red with red edge. Excellent concentration of flavors. Cassis, leather, anise, all beautifully integrated. Great mouthfeel, with very fine tannins and outstanding presence of flavors on the palate, excellent structure and outstanding length. A beautiful wine. 2, 2, 4.6, 10.6, =19.2/20, 96/100. 13% alcohol. (RP91-94).

8) 2003 Chateau Calon Segur (St Estephe) $79.99USD
Cherry red with red edge. A little confected; smoky over cola. Attractive enough. Medium weight with pronounced astringency and sharp acidity; not in balance. Will need time to integrate. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.4 = 17.4, 87/100. 13% alcohol. (RP 94-96).

9) 2003 Suduiraut (Sauternes) $41.99USD
Honey yellow with clear edge. Botrytris, honeysuckle, and dried fruits. Full bodied, round and soft on the palate with sweetness carrying to the crisp, clean finish. Excellent carry of flavors on the palate and impressive length. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.2 = 18.5/20, 93/100. 14% alcohol. (RP92-95).

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Big Gun Burgundy from 2002 and 2003: Vintage Wines Ltd, Monthly Thursday Tasting

Date: Mon, Jan 30, 2006 Wine Tasting

Big Gun Burgundy from 2002 and 2003
January 19th, 2006 6:30pm.

First Third Thursday Tasting for 2006 at Vintage Wines of San Diego. These tastings are conducted using a single blind format with the wines poured several hours before. My tasting notes are in the order the wines were served

1) 2002 Charlopin, Cote de Nuits ($NA USD)
Light cherry red with a faint tinge of orange/brown (lightest colored wine in the group). Nice clean Pinot Noir character, with spices and just a touch of ripe banana. A light bodied, pleasant wine with nice balance across the palate, finishing with considerable acidity. 2, 2, 4.2, 9.6 = 17.8/20, 89/100.

2) 2002 Guy Dufouleur, Nuits St Georges Clos des Perrieres ($44.99USD)
Light cherry with a faint tinge of orange/brown. Initially closed with only faint note of spices, opening to dried earth, leather, and ripe banana. Light body (almost thin) with sharp acidity and mouth drying tannins. Leather and rotten apple flavors on the palate. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.6 = 17.4/20, 87.

3) 2003 Louis Jadot, Gevrey Chambertin Les Petite Chapelle ($61.99USD)
Light cherry red with pink edge. Smells of earth, dusty oak, violets and spice. Additional aromas of pepper, smoke and tea developed during the tasting. Medium weight with excellent balance and very firm tannins. Very appealing. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.3 = 18.3/20, 92/100.

4) 2002 Joseph Roty, Gevrey Chambertin Les Fontenys ($77.99USD)
Light cherry red with pink edge. Very open with excellent ripe Pinot characters. Soft entry with great presence of flavors on the palate; although the occasional hint of a vegetal character was a bit worrying.. Very well balanced with attractive juicy acidity and excellent length to the finish. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.4 = 18.4/20, 92/100.

5) 2003 Louis Jadot, Latricieres-Chambertin ($129.99USD)
Light cherry fed with pink edge. Slightly closed with spices and pepper and then dried tea leaves. Medium weight. Soft and supple with excellent balance and nice length to the finish. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.3 = 18.4/, 92/100.

6) 2003 Frederic Esmonin, Chambertin Clos de Beze ($89.99USD)
Light cherry red with a faint tinge of orange/brown to the edge. Nice Pinot Noir aromas. Very earthy and spicy. Medium weight with a soft and supple entry and firm tannins. Beautifully balanced with wonderful mouthfeel. Excellent carry of flavors onto the palate. Although the aromas tended to close down with time, this is a very, very nice wine. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.5 = 18.7/20, 94/100.

7) 2002 Xavier Liger-Belair, Clos Vougeot ($89.99USD)
Light cherry red with pink edge. Slightly closed, giving up smells of dusty oak, earth and mushrooms. Medium weight with a super soft (elegant) caress on the palate backed up by attractive juicy acidity. Nicely structured, well balance wine. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.1 = 18.0/20, 90/100.

8) 2002 Xavier Liger-Belair, Richebourg ($174.99USD)
Light cherry red with faint brownish tinge to the edge. Graphite, licorice and ripe banana turning to spices. Medium weight with soft entry followed by mouth drying astringency and bright acidity. Well balanced with nice expression of flavors across the palate. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.2 = 18.2/20, 91/100.

9) 2003 Faiveley, Corton Clos des Corton ($119.99USD)
Dark cherry red with red edge, clearly the most extracted color of all the wines. Uncharacteristic of Pinot Noir with rich, deep aromas of cocoa, plumb and smoke turning to fruit cake and coconut. This is powerful stuff! Full bodied with overwhelming astringency on the palate and nice bright acidity just struggling to the surface on a finish that fades. Almost too aggressive to assess, and will need decades to soften. 2, 2, 4.2, 9.6 = 17.8/20, 89/100.

Before the identities were revealed votes for the top three wines were taken. The top scoring wine was the 2003 Louis Jadot, Latricieres-Chambertin, followed by the 2002 Joseph Roty, Gevrey Chambertin Les Fontenys, and then came the 2002 Xavier Liger-Belair, Clos Vougeot. I scored the 2003 Frederic Esmonin, Chambertin Clos de Beze as the top wine followed by the 2003 Louis Jadot, Latricieres-Chambertin and then the 2002 Joseph Roty, Gevrey Chambertin Les Fontenys.

After a couple of hours of nursing the wines (and stealing pours from glasses at seats that went unoccupied) the Esmonin began to shut down. So I may have been a bit too generous in scoring it, but it has a wonderful mouthfeel that completely seduced me. I thought it the surprise of the night, well at least a pleasant surprise. The real surprise was the Faiveley. I’ve never had one before and I’m certainly only ever likely to taste them in the future under this format as I’m pretty sure they have more longevity than I do. The one staff member at Vintage Wines who has experience with more mature examples is of the opinion that you really shouldn’t look at the wine for between one to two decades.

Given my recent experiences its reasonable to ask how these wines compare with Pinot from the Mornington Peninsula of Victoria, Australia. Once I’ve put up the notes on all those wines you will probably be able to decide for yourself. And it would certainly be instructive to taste them side-by-side because the differences should be obvious. The Aussies tend to be more forward and appealing in their spicy aromas but usually lack the depth and complexity of the Burgundies in the mouth. I’d certainly prefer the Aussies (something like The Moorooduc) with a few years of bottle age, but they are unlikely to last the distance of decades. Although, as we will see Yabby Lake might be something to wait on.

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Clarendon Hills: Vintage Wines Ltd $5 Tastings 2005

Date: Mon, Nov 21, 2005 Wine Tasting

Clarendon Hills

The Saturday $5 tasting at Vintage Wines here in San Diego was supposed to be Argentinean wines, but as I was told by the shop owner last week there was a change and they would be pouring Clarendon Hills wines. This is the McLaren Vale winery that Robert Parker regularly anoints with overwhelming admiration. Parker’s publication, The Wine Advocate, has allocated a specific review to Australian wines in issues No. 143, 148, 155, and 161. The Clarendon Hills single vineyard wines have been reviewed in each of those issues and very few of the recommended wines have scored below 90 pints. The praise both for the wines and the winemaker has been effusive ; Roman Bratasiuk is one of Planet Earth’s greatest winemakers, Robert Parker, Wine Advocate #155 (Oct 2004).

My first experience with Clarendon Hills was on March 15, 1997. That tasting was of eight different Australian wines, and included two Clarendon Hills wines; the 1995 Clarendon Hills Grenache Old Vines Clarendon Vineyard, and the 1995 Shiraz. At that tasting I had rated the Clarendon Hills wines highly putting the Grenache in second place, in front of the Shiraz but both behind the 1992 Seppelt’s Dorian Cabernet. In recent years (i.e. after beginning the Shiraz eBlog ) I have only tasted the Moritz and the Liandra Syrah, both from the 2002 vintage. Each wine had a fried tomato (or tomato paste) character that I found unattractive. But even with my experience of those 2002’s the chance to taste through close to $300USD worth of wine for $5 was too good an opportunity to pass up.

The wines were poured and described by David Turcan (National Account Rep for Commonwealth Wine and Spirits, Inc. of Mansfield Massachusetts). David was quite knowledgeable about the Clarendon Hills wines. He even knew that Shiraz reached Australia in the 1820’s, although he wasn’t sure exactly how; the first importation of Shiraz vines was most likely by John Macarthur.

The wines had been decanted about 90 minutes before the tasting began and were not poured blinded, unfortunately.

2003 Blewitt Springs Grenache $47.99USD
Cherry red with very faint orange tinge. Smoke, licorice and cherry are the dominant aromas. Medium to full bodied with an attractive licorice note to the palate. Soft and smooth in the mouth with very good balance. Firm tannins precede the lengthy finish. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.0 = 18.1/20, 90/100. 14.5% alcohol.

2003 Kangarilla Grenache $47.99USD
Cherry red with red edge. Pronounced pepper, faint tomato paste and pleasant aromatic character that became licorice with time. Full bodied with a soft and supple mouthfeel and fine tannins. Very well balanced wine. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.2 = 18.2/20, 91/100. 14.5% alcohol.

2003 Brookman Merlot $51.99USD
Cherry red with faint orange tinge. More restrained with oak, tomaoto paste, faint anise and cedar; I could easily have been convinced that this wine contained some Cabernet. Full bodied with a soft and supple entry, very fine tannins and with an excellent carry of flavors onto the palate and the lengthy finish. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.2 = 18.2/20, 91/100. 14.5% alcohol.

2003 Sandown Cabernet Sauvignon $55.99USD
Dense cherry red with a red edge with just a faint tinge of orange. Clearly evident tomato paste with pepper, dusty oak (almost sandalwood) and underlying complex aromatic aromas. Again a soft and supple entry but with more forward tannins and acidity. The least well balanced wine, being a little disjointed, and closing down to dusty oak during the tasting. 2, 2, 4.1, 9.8 = 17.9/20, 89/100. 14.5% alcohol.

2003 Liandra Syrah $68.99USD
Dense cherry red with a faint orange tinge. Dominant tomato paste aroma over faint pepper and shy fruit flavors. Full boded with excellent mouthfeel and presence of flavors on the palate. Excellent balance of clean acidity and fine tannins capped off with a lengthy finish. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.1 = 18.4/20, 92/100. 14.5% alcohol.

Once I had made my notes on the wines I let the glasses sit while I went through another seven wines made up of whites and reds from a hodgepodge of varietals and countries. The last wine in that group was the 2003 Cayuse Syrah En Chamberlin ($59.99USD) from the Walla Walla Valley in Washington. A dense cherry red with a red edge, the wine had tremendous complexity with aromas of stewed dark fruits, violets, faint pepper and stewed quince. All those flavors explode on the palate and provide an exceptional mouth pleasing experience. The length of the finish on this wine makes you believe that it has actually taken up residence. Beautiful wine! What was most interesting was that this wine had a faint tomato paste character but it melded with a subdued ethyl acetate (EA) aroma to produce a sweet aromatic flavor that was very pleasing. (That’s the flavor your looking for Roman!) 2, 2, 4.4, 10.6 = 19/20, 95/100. 14.8% alcohol.

What happened to the Clarendon Hills? Actually something interesting! The wine I left in my glasses became much jammier especially for the two Grenache (strawberry), the Cab had even more oak and the Llianda became port-like. But when David let me smell the Liandra directly from the decanter there was that ugly tomato again.

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New Release Big Gun Cabernet: Vintage Wines Ltd, Monthly Thursday Tasting

Date: Wed, Nov 2, 2005 Wine Tasting

New Release Big Gun Cabernet
October 20th. 6:30PM

Ninth Third Thursday Tasting for 2005 at Vintage Wines of San Diego. This one written up as: We will taste some of the top new releases from California. Some may be blends or pure varietals, but they will all be top of the class

2002 Beaulieu Vineyards Napa Valley $71.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very aromatic with banana, sweet anise, cola mixed with earth. Pleasantly full bodied and well structured finishing with chewy tannins. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.0 = 18.2/100, 91/100. 94 W&S 14.5% alcohol.

2003 Lewis, Napa Valley $64.99USD
100% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Dense cherry red with red edge. Rich, spicy aromas with notes of pepper, blackberry jam and anise. Medium bodied with bright acidity, and nice length to the finish. A well structured wine. 2, 2, 4.1, 9.9 = 18/20, 90/100. 14.2% alcohol.

2002 Etude, Napa Valley $74.99USD
95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc
Dense cherry red with red edge. Sweet oak with tobacco and a hint of nail polish remover (ethyl acetate, EA). Full bodied with excellent structure supported by prominent astringency and clean acidity. A rich and ripe style with the EA coming up over time but never unpleasant. 2, 2, 4.3, 10.1 = 18.4/20, 92/100. 93 RP, 94WS 14.6% alcohol.

2002 Seavey, Napa Valley $53.99USD
95% Cabernet sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot
Dense cherry red with red edge. Quite closed with faint chocolate, cassis and oak. Soft entry, nicely balanced with juicy acidity and plenty of astringency from the big, chewy tannins. Will need 5-10 years to reveal itself. 2, 2, 3.7, 10.1 = 17.8/20, 89/100. 94 RP 14.7% alcohol.

2000 Clos de Sarpe (St. Emilion) $89.99USD
The blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Franc is aged in 100% new French oak.
Dense cherry red with red edge. Ethanol, caramel and barnyard flavors. Soft entry with acidity across the palate, considerable astringency and unpleasant sour acidity to the finish. A disagreeable wine that developed a wet cardboard flavor with time. Corked? 2, 2, 3.5, 9.4 = 16.9/20, 84/100. 95 RP 13.5% alcohol.

2003 Palazzo, Napa Valley $34.98USD
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc
Dense cherry red with red edge. Impressively flavored with anise, cedar and dusty oak aromas. A little sweetness on the palate but with excellent structure and bright acidity to the finish. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.3 = 18.5/20, 92/100. Excellent value. 14.2% alcohol.

2002 Joseph Phelps, Insignia, Napa Valley $99.99USD
78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec
Vibrant dense cherry red with red edge. Complex notes of smoke, coconut and dark fruits. Flavors carry well onto the palate. A very well structured wine with excellent balance supported by chewy tannins and excellent length to the finish. Top of the class! 2, 2, 4.2, 10.5 = 18.7/20, 94/100. 96WS, 96RP, 95ST 14.4% alcohol.

2002 Quintessa, Napa Valley $89.99USD
77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 3% Cabernet Franc
Dense cherry red with red edge. A little closed with pleasant notes of banana and sweet oak. Nice mouthfeel and excellent carry of flavors onto the palate. Well structured with very firm astringency. 2, 2, 3.8, 10.1 = 17.9/20, 89/100. 89-91 RP, 92-94 WS 14.3%

2002 Pahlmeyer, Napa Valley $99.99USD
63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc
Dense cherry red with red edge. Flavors of smoky, sweet oak, blackberry and a little EA. The palate is rich and ripe with aromas of violets and EA. Well balanced with very firm tannins and bright acidity. Developed a dried tea leaves character over time. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.0 = 18/20, 90/100. 94 RP 15.5% alcohol.

2002 Rudd Estate, Oakville $99.99USD
79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, 1% Malbec
Cherry red with red edge. Notes of earth, anise, oak and ethanol. Soft and supple entry with nice acidity backed up by big, drying tannins. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.0 = 18.1/20, 91/100. 95 RP 14.5% alcohol.

Before the identities of the wines were revealed votes were taken for first, second and third favorite wines. My top three wines were actually very close and I had to go back over them several times before deciding, and then adding a tenth of a point here and there to separate the wines; First placed wine No. 7, Second wine No. 6, Third wine No. 3. The voting by the group saw the first placed wine as wine No. 8. Second placed votes were split evenly between wines 3 and 5, and third placed votes went to wine No. 7.

We were told prior to the tasting that there was one wine that would be different. At my table one of the group started out by saying that wine No.2 didn’t belong as it appeared more like an Australian Shiraz, and I was in agreement up until I had tasted through all the wines. It then seemed quite clear to me that wine No. 5 was very different in style, and it didn’t take long for us to conclude that it was probably from Bordeaux. A number of others had reached the same conclusion, particularly the table made up of Bordeaux lovers who thought it the best wine among the group! As the evening progressed I thought the wine may actually be corked. As there was some wine left in the bottle I went up to get another taste but was beaten by one of the Bordeauxphiles who took the bottle back to their table. I hope they enjoyed it!

As is usual at these single blind tastings there were a lot of surprises when the identities of the wines were revealed. What did not surprise me is that I had placed the Etude in my top three, something I have done consistently over the years. The problem is that you could put the Etude Cabernet (any Etude Cabernet) in with another quality Napa Cabernet and I would have a hard time picking out the wine. I can never recognize it but I always rate it well. My WOTN was the Insignia, a really classy example of a Napa blend, but the value of the group was the Palazzo. Although it has some sweetness that is not typical of this style of wine it will be interesting to see how this particular wine ages. The other wines (with the exception of the Clos de Sarpe) will live for decades.

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1995 and 2000 Bordeaux: Vintage Wines Ltd, Monthly Thursday Tasting

Date: Thu, Oct 27, 2005 Wine Tasting

Great Bordeaux
September 22nd. 6:30PM

Eighth Third Thursday Tasting for 2005 at Vintage Wines of San Diego. This one written up as: If you would like to see what age will do for a great wine, come by and try 8 wines with some age on them. We will taste these wines and compare how each is evolving with the years.

The wines were opened at 4PM and the young wines poured at 4:30PM and the older wines at 5:00PM. All wines were served single blind, and as is my usual practice I did not look at the list. The wines are listed in the order they were tasted. Identities were revealed at the end of the tasting.

1998 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte (Pessac-Leognan) $64.99USD
Dark cherry red with bricking. Quite closed, giving up notes of smoked meats, earth and charcoal. Medium weight with excellent structure supported by bright acidity and firm tannins. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.1 = 18.0/20, 90/100. 94 WS. 12.5% alcohol.

1995 Chateau Leoville Poyferre (St Julien) $59.99USD
Dark cherry red with bricking. Cedar, camphor and earth. Medium weight with flavors carrying well onto the palate. Good balance but lacking a little in depth across the palate. Firm tannins on the finish with some biting acidity. I wouldn’t wait on this any longer. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.8 = 17.8/20, 89/100. 94 WS. 13% alcohol.

1995 Chateau Pichon Lalande (Pauillac) $139.99USD
Dense cherry red with bricking. Barnyard and earth with a little cedar and ink. Medium weight with acidity across the palate and firm tannins rounding out a well balanced wine. Well structured with mouth pleasing depth to the palate and an excellent finish. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.0 = 17.9/20, 90/100. 96 RP. 13% alcohol.

1995 Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou (St. Julien) $124.99USD
Dark cherry red with bricking. Did someone fart into this glass? Fortunately this blew off like we were sitting in a fan factory to reveal licorice, charcoal, cedar and pepper. Medium weight with gripping tannins, good depth to the palate, and a lengthy finish. 2, 2, 3.8, 10.0 = 17.8/20, 89/100. 97 WS, 94 RP. 13% alcohol.

1995 Chateau Leoville Las Cases (St. Julien) $139.99USD
Dark cherry red with bricking. Very attractive bouquet of caramel, anise and pepper. Very firm tannins and bright acidity provide balance and will support this wine for years more. Flavors carry well onto the palate. Nice wine. 2, 2, 4.1, 9.9 = 18/20, 90/100. 95 RP. 13% alcohol.

2000 Chateau de Chambrun (Lalande de Pomerol) $54.99USD
95% Merlot/5% Cabernet Franc. Dark cherry red with a red edge. Very perfumed and spicy with licorice and cassis predominant. Great complexity. A tannic monster with nice depth to the palate, and length to the finish. Very nice! Needs a little time to settle. 2, 2, 4.4, 10.2 = 18.6/20, 93/100. (90-92) RP. 13.5% alcohol.

2000 Chateau Lynch Bages (Pauillac) $109.99USD
Dark cherry red. Very open with vanilla, burnt oak, and dark fruits. Flavors carry very well onto the palate and are complemented by the juicy acidity. Great length to the finish. 2, 2, 4.1, 10.0 = 18.1/20, 91/100. Will live for decades. 96 WS, 95 RP. 13% alcohol.

1990 Chateau Suduiraut (Sauternes)
Golden brown. Beautiful and luscious with honey, raisins, orange peel, spices and toffee. Full bodied with outstanding carry of flavors onto the palate and a finish that lingers and lingers. 2, 2, 4.5, 10.6 = 19.1/20, 96/100. 95 WS, 88 RP. 15% alcohol.

To me the 1995 wines rated well with some having nicely developed flavors. Most appeared youthful, although I have doubts on the longevity of the Leoville Poyferre. The 2000 de Chambrun was clearly my favorite. It’s a powerful wine that is still too young and I would not want to drink it again for at least 5-7 years.

The group also liked the de Chambrun voting it the top red. The only vote that was taken was for first placed wine and the scores totaled to decide the lesser places. The Leoville Las Cases filled second place while the Leoville Poyferre and the Pichon Lalande shared third.

My wine of the night was the Suduiraut, simply wonderful. Its interesting that Parker originally questioned the longevity of the Suduiraut in 1994 saying, “The evolved, medium gold color of the 1990 is prematurely advanced, raising questions about future longevity.” Bordeaux Book, 3rd Edition (1998) Robert Parker. I thought it fresh and lively. What a difference 11 years can make?

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Grateful Palate: Vintage Wines Ltd $5 Tastings 2005

Date: Sun, Sep 18, 2005 Wine Tasting

Grateful Palate

Tasting described as One of, if not the best importers of Australian Shiraz in America. We will taste wines (red & white) from all over the land down under. Saturday, September 10, 11-3PM.

The wines in this weekly tasting are usually all under $15pb. I tasted the wines double blind. That is I did not know what wines were in the tasting or their order. I’ve listed the wines in order they were tasted.

2004 Marquis Philips, Holly’s Blend, SE Australia $9.99USD
Light straw. Initially dusty, sulphur stink that blew off to reveal toasted oak and pineapple. Medium weight with clean acidity. Pleasant wine. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.6 = 17.4/20, 87/20.

2003 Paringa, Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia $9.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Dominated by an ethanol note over caramel. Disjointed palate of sour acidity and gritty tannins over a note of cherry. Not recommended. 2, 2, 3.0, 9.0 = 16.0/20, 80/100.

2004 Pillar Box Red, Padthaway $10.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Very open with notes of cedar, nutmeg and mint. Full bodied, well balanced with good presence of flavors on the palate and nice length to the finish. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.9 = 17.9/20, 89/100. 15% alcohol. 57% Cab, 32% Shiraz, and 11% Merlot.

2003 Hare’s Chase, red Blend, Barossa $11.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. A little barnyard backed up by an unusual aromatic note over aromas of earth and caramel. Full bodied with nice upfront acidity and drying tannins. 2, 2, 3.6, 9.8 = 17.4/20, 87/100. 14.0% alcohol.

2003 Lengs & Cooter, Shiraz South Australia $16.99USD
Cherry red with red edge. Mint over blackberry and toasted oak. Nice mouthfeel, well balanced with pleasant acidity and considerable length to the finish. 2, 2, 4.0, 10.1 = 18.1/20, 90/100.

2003 Gibson, Wilfreda Blend, Barossa $31.99USD (scewcap)
Dense cherry red with red edge. Initially closed, finally gave up blueberry, pepper and a little nail polish (ethyl acetate, EA). Soft and supple entry with refreshing acidity to the lengthy finish. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.0 = 17.9/20, 89/100. 14.8% alcohol.

2003 Brothers in Arms, No. 6, Langhorne $14.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Dusty oak over ripe cherry. Drying tannins over bright acidity. Nice length to the finish but feels incomplete on the midpalate. 2, 2, 4.0, 9.8 = 17.8/20, 89/100. 15.0% alcohol.

2001 Scarpantoni, School Block, McLaren Vale $14.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Bit of barnyard and ink. Full bodied with nice structure and good presence of flavors on the palate. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.1 = 18.0/20, 90/100. 14.0% alcohol.

2003 Henry’s Drive, Shiraz, Padthaway $32.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Rich, ripe and sweet. Full bodied and confected with blackberry, pepper, alcohol and a charred character. Lacks density on the mid-palate. 2, 2, 4.1, 9.5 = 17.6/20, 88/100. 16.0% alcohol.

2002 Lillypilly, Noble Blend, Riverina $11.99USD (Screwcap)
Golden yellow. Rich and luscious with raisins and spices. Full bodied with excellent carry of flavors onto the palate and crisp acidity to the lengthy finish. Great value and highly recommended. 2, 2, 4.2, 10.3 = 18.5/20, 93/100. 11.5% alcohol.

A mixed bag in terms of quality. The Lillypilly is the only wine I would recommend, simply because it represents such outstanding value. Among the reds the Lengs & Cooter and Scarpantoni offer good value. The Henry’s Drive is a wine that I have tasted three times now and it impressed less in this company than previously.

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Marquis Philips: Vintage Wines Ltd $5 Tastings 2005

Date: Sun, Aug 28, 2005 Wine Tasting

Marquis Philips

Tasting described as The 2004 Marquis Philips wines are out and they should be as good as ever! Come try all four wines and the 2003-Shiraz No.9 Saturday, August 27, 11-3PM.

The wines in this weekly tasting are usually all under $15pb. I tasted the wines double blind. That is I did not know what wines were in the tasting or their order. I’ve listed the wines in order they were tasted.

2004 Merlot (Screwcap) $11.99USD
Light cherry red with slight brownish tinge to the edge. Ripe with vanilla and cherry. Full bodied with soft and supple entry, super-soft tannins and nice length to the finish. A little hot from the alcohol. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.7 =17.5/20, 87/100. 14.5% alcohol

2004 Cabernet Sauvignon (Screwcap) $11.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Ripe and spicey with mint and cedar. Full bodied with soft tannins and good length to the finish. Flavors do not carry well onto the palate. 2, 2, 4.1, 9.8 = 17.9/20, 89/100. 14.5% alcohol

2004 Sarah’s Blend (Screwcap) $11.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. A little closed, giving up blueberry and smoky oak. Full bodied and well balanced with a core of firm astringency. 2, 2, 3.9, 10.0 = 17.9/20, 89/100. 15.0% alcohol

2004 Shiraz (Screwcap) $11.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Ripe and jammy with dusty oak and faint vanilla. Full bodied with soft tannins. Some heat from the alcohol on the less than stellar finish. 2, 2, 3.8, 9.8 = 17.6/20, 88/100. 15.5% alcohol

2003 Shiraz 9 $35.99USD
Dense cherry red with red edge. Rich and ripe with pepper, smoky oak, blueberry and a little nail polish remover (ethyl acetate EA). Full bodied with soft tannins and flavors that carry very well onto the palate and linger on the finish. There is a little heat from the alcohol but it’s not unpleasant. 2, 2, 4.2, 9.9 = 18.1/20, 90/100. 16.0% alcohol

An interesting tasting. The Merlot, Shiraz and Shiraz 9 were easily recognized. The Cabernet was also easily identified as having Cabernet but I thought it might be the Roogle Red, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz , rather than a straight Cabernet.

The Shiraz 9 showed better in this setting than when I tasted it previously on its own. At that time there was a charred character to the palate that was not pleasant. That character was not evident in this tasting. Still its questionable value and so we purchased a few bottles of the Cabernet.

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