March 4, 2008

St. Hallet Faith Shiraz 2005

faithshirazlabel.jpgVARIETAL: Shiraz
REGION: Barossa Valley, Australia
PRICE: $16

Well, I admit this wine is a bit pricier than my typical mid-week selections. But it is still winter and the St. Hallet's gives me faith that spring will return again. Crafted from premium Barossa Valley fruit and nothing but, this shiraz looks like smashed berry ink in the glass. Warm spicy cherry and berry scents are just the prelude. Rich and dense, the St. Hallet's really lingers on your palate with smooth juicy cherry, ripe black raspberry interspersed with shots of spice and subtle black pepper from a 12-18 month stint in American and French oak. Sometimes Aussie shiraz can be a bit too jammy, like the fruit is overripe. Not so with the St. Hallet's. I love this wine - and have for about 8 years - because it is incredibly balanced, always impressive for the money and never ceases to make me feel warm and fuzzy all over. This wine is the perfect complement to just about any red meat and most hard cheeses. Or slurp it up with nothing at all.

Check it out: St. Hallet Faith Shiraz 2005

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

February 26, 2008

L. A. Cetto Petite Sirah 2005

Thumbnail image for LACetto_Petite_Sirah.jpgVARIETAL: Petite Sirah
REGION: Baja, California/Mexico
PRICE: $10

I must admit I was a bit intrigued by the origins of this wine. I had never tasted a wine from the Baja peninsula and after closer inspection of the label I was a bit confused about whether or not the wine is considered a Mexican or California wine. Research only led to more confusion so I just had to crack it open and see what it was all about.

At first whiff the L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah is quite appealing. Lots of jammy fruit on the nose and a hint of spice. But the romance stopped there. I don't know if this bottle was a little cooked, or just past its prime, but there was nothing appealing about the taste. I found the fruit to be a bit bitter on the palate and for a Petite Sirah, it lacked lushness and any sort of finish. No kidding, I mean there was NO finish, zero taste in your mouth after the first few bitter sips. Weird . . . and disappointing after reading so many glowing reviews of previous vintages. Perhaps I'll give it another shot down the road. . . way down the road.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

February 19, 2008

Block No. 45 Petite Sirah 2005

block_45.JPG In our pursuit of the economical, yet tasty domestic wine, we have begun to notice a number of interesting California selections of vague origin. A number of small California producers are not really "wineries" in the sense that they do not necessarily grow their own fruit on lush rolling vineyards. Rather they pick and choose from other local producers and either buy grapes with which to make their own juice, or they buy juice and blend their own wines. Fascinating stuff, the modern world of wine. And for those of you who are skeptics or purists, rest assured there are some fun wines out there from such unassuming beginnings.
Block No. 45 Petite Sirah is just such a wine. Perhaps not quite as rich as many petite sirahs, it is, for the money, quite full-flavored with distinct plummy notes enhanced with shots of crushed blueberry and spice. It begs for a fire in the fireplace and a savory beef stew. A pretty impressive pick for a meager $5.99.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

Inca Cabernet Malbec 2005

Thumbnail image for inca.jpgI am a sucker for Argentine wines, malbec in particular. In fact, I had such a fantastic sojourn through the Mendoza Valley just after the harvest that I often choose malbec in hopes that it will trigger those now fading memories of the dusty terrain and sweeping views of the Andes. This wine just did not do it for me.
The Inca Cabernet (80%) Malbec (20%) blend is from quite a different region altogether: the Calchaqui Valley, nestled high in the mountains in the Salta Region of northern Argentina. But the climate isn't the problem. I think they just spent more time manipulating this wine rather than giving it the structure to come into its own. Had it been bagged or its label disguised, I might have described it as a fruit forward, smooth, round red with ripe berry flavors and a vegetal twist--green pepper and dill--quite reminiscent of a California Cabernet Franc. Were it not for the far-too-creamy mouth-feel I might have mistaken it for a merlot. It just wasn't what it purported to be. A perfectly decent wine for $10, but I probably won't buy it again.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

December 10, 2007

Chateau d'Oupia Les Heretiques 2006

Year: 2006
ABV: 13.5%
We Paid: $13

heretic.jpegLes Heretiques commemorates the massacre of Minereve in 1208. Inhabited by members of the Cathari religious order, a pacifist Christian, non-conformist group that prospered during the Middle Ages, the destruction in Minereve was only one of the many Crusades led by the Roman Catholic Church, who, calling the Cathari “heretics,” persecuted them in town after town. The Cathars’ story, one of the unquenchable spirit of man, juxtaposed with the inhumanity of man, imparts new significance on Languedoc’s ruined towers and castles, some sitting high and seemingly inaccessible, on mountaintops. The label alone is worth the price. Lasting, robust flavor and a hint of spice make this a great wine for roasts and ham.

Conor Hanover at Permalink social bookmarking

November 30, 2007

Fess Parker's Frontier Red Lot 71

We know we've featured it before, but this wine continues to impress us. It's interesting, and best of all around $10 bucks. The wine has a real house wine feel - meaning - you can drink it daily and not worry you're wasting a little wine here or there, and we love the screw cap for the convenience. It's also become a favorite at several of our local wine stores here in MA - so check it out - lots 51, 61, and 71.

At Fess Parker Lot 71 Frontier Red - Red Wine

Blogpire Productions at Permalink social bookmarking

November 19, 2007

Smoking Loon Syrah 2005

Year: 2005
ABV: 13.5&
We Paid: $12

Great name, great label design and amazing value. It even tastes good! The money we saved on the wine went to some amazing grilled lamb chops for dinner and the pairing was perfect. Even Crazy Karl liked it. If you are low on lamb chops, it's OK, this wine can stand on its own. Definite smoky oak, cherry and a hint of cream. Dark purple tint, good legs and quite opaque. Initial burst of flavor that faded after about 30-40 minutes. We've had better syrahs but not for the money.

Conor Hanover at Permalink social bookmarking

October 9, 2007

San Gervasio Manubles - Vino de Mesa

More often than not, if I’m looking for a safe, food-friendly wine that won’t break my wine budget, I look to Spain—the home of Conquistadores, Generalissimo Franco, Picasso, Pamplona, Flamenco, tapas, Barcelona, and…vino. Spain’s wine industry is showing swagger in the global wine marketplace, sloughing off its sallow and insipid image for white and red wines that has been better suited for a sangria punch than as a single varietal.

But nothing ever stays the same, nowadays, anyone who ignores Spanish wine is either in a state of denial or missing the boat—or both. I tried a simple red vino de mesa. The table wine is a staple in Spain. This Grenache, Tempranillo blend was aged for two years in French oak and shows some of this varietal’s typical characteristics.

It’s fiery and taut to begin with but begins to release its aromas within a few minutes. The nose reveals dark fruit and peppery spices. The dense cherry and plum flavors are laced with rustic and earthy bits, leather, and oak. There are some chewy tannins to deal with but nothing overly harsh and the wine displays balance and a medium length finish. Not as big-bodied as some Ribera del Duero wines but not a lightweight either. Best to drink with robust food. I would drink it again but I might look for another Spanish wine first.

Head Wino at Permalink social bookmarking

September 27, 2007

Barone Cornacchia Montepulciano dAbruzzo Review

cornacchia-montepulciano-dabruzzo.bmpAzienda Agricola Barone Cornacchia
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Year: 2003
ABV: 13%
We Paid: $11

I was deep into a game of Snood the other day when one of the CFW crew walked into my office, stated, “Denique apertos Baccus amat colles,” slammed down an empty bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and left. My friend and co-worker had clearly enjoyed the wine, the entire bottle during lunch, but was unfit to write a review. I left work early and picked up a bottle of what my friend had forcefully and archaically suggested.

Roughly translated, my friend had slurred, “Bacchus loves the open hills.” As far as I’m concerned, whatever Bacchus loves is fine by me. Abruzzo is a region in central Italy on the Adriatic Sea side of the boot and if it’s not mountainous then it’s hilly. Put a ball down on the ground and it’ll roll somewhere. This region is known for the Montepuliciano grape which is a dark red with blackberry fruit flavors and has spicy and peppery qualities.

The 2003 Montepuliciano vintage is excellent, round in character, and delicious. It broadcasts ripe aromas of berries with spices, herbs, and earthiness. This is a rustic red wine with ripe strawberry and blackberry flavors that fills the mouth. This is followed by layers of leather, violets, a dash of peppery, and completes with smooth tannins and a fulfilling finish. The fruit is balanced adroitly with acidity that makes this a no-brainer companion choice for antipasti, pastas, grilled, or roasted meat. It’s the perfect wine to drink during the day, if you are lucky enough to have me as a boss.

Website : (it's in Italian; good luck)

Head Wino at Permalink social bookmarking

September 25, 2007

Vertvs Tempranillo Crianza 2003 Review

Bodegas Iranzo
Vertus Tempranillo Crianza
Year: 2003
ABV: 13.5%
We Paid: $10

History is a favorite topic here at CFW. We’ve argued about everything from Urban II’s motivation in the first Crusade, to the ever-important Mary Ann and Ginger debate*. So, when we saw an affordable Tempranillo from Bodegas Iranzo, we were very excited. This is a family-owned winery who make their wine from the Finca Canada Honda Vineyard, a vineyard that can be traced back to the year 1355. That’s old by the way. The new twist is that Bodegas Iranzo make their wine from organically grown grapes; history and organic farming: heaven.

The Vertus Tempranillo is a Crianza that has been aged for six months in American and French oak.
It’s a bit difficult to get a grip on this Spanish wine. At first taste, I thought to advise making Sangria out of it, but by the end of the glass, I couldn’t even recommend that. There are redeeming qualities though. They would be the wine’s fruity berry aromas with herbs, spices, flowers, and light oak. There’s a round mix of dark berry fruit, licorice, violets with earthy background flavors. Then there are the bits of evocative leather flavors that emerge, conjuring up images of Spanish Dons and Conquistadors. However, the finish is shallow and overall the wine lacks distinction worthy of its ancestry and heritage. Living up to one’s history is essential.

* By the way, the answer to the important question is Mary Ann of course.

Head Wino at Permalink social bookmarking
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