August 24, 2008

Castle Rock Sonoma County Syrah 2006

2005SonomaCountySyrah6.jpgVARIETAL: Syrah
REGION: Sonoma County, California
PRICE: $10

I have this weird relationship with Castle Rock wines. If I'm out shopping and don't have time to hit my favorite wine spots, I grab a Castle Rock wine at the grocery store and I know I won't be embarrassed to serve it. Medium-bodied and smooth the Castle Rock syrah provides pleasing dried berry aromas and at first sip, lots of up-front jammy fruit--ripe dark berry, dried cherry and plum--rounded out with a little subtle spice and sweet tobacco. Certainly not the most refined or complex syrah, but for the price it is very drinkable and ultimately likeable. Overall, a good go-to wine when choices are limited. I served it with barbequed chicken, but I think it would do well with most red meat, hard cheese, and blue veined cheese as well.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

August 21, 2008

Domaine de la Batardiere Muscadet 2006

batardieremuscadet.jpgVARIETAL: Muscadet
REGION: Loire Valley, France
PRICE: $10

Also known as Melon de Borgogne, Muscadet is the perfect quaffer for the languid, hazy days of summer. If you find yourself feeling a little wilted and weary, chill a bottle of the Domaine de la Batardiere and prepare to be refreshed. The bouquet is all sweet smelling summer fruit. Succulent peach, melon and and citrus aromas are a little misleading. Though sweetly fragrant, this wine has very little residual sugar. Vivacious and vibrant with grapefruit and lime cleaning the palate. It is super crisp and clean with a distinctly Loire minerality that just begs for steamed crabs and fresh Maryland silver queen corn... or just a steamy evening on the porch swing.

Look for it at BevMo ( if you have one) or Whole Foods. But make sure you get the 2006. I initially, mistakenly picked up a leftover 2004 and though it wasn't terrible, it certainly was not a prime example of what a Muscadet can and should be.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

August 14, 2008

St. M Riesling 2006

saintM.jpgVARIETAL: Riesling
REGION: Pfalz, Germany
PRICE: $11

It is no surprise that the Saint M is a Dr. Loosen Estate wine. True to its roots, this riesling is soft and subtly sweet like ripe nectar pressed from early summer peaches and green pears. It thankfully resists the cloying sweetness that is often expressed in cheaper German rieslings, though it still has that slight twinge of kerosene that is so typical. Is that terrior? Or just an oddity of the varietal? I don't know, but it seems more pronounced in sweeter incarnations. The Saint M redeems itself with a light and lovely crispness that foils the sweet viscosity and cleanses the palate a bit. I'm partial to pairing rieslings with spicy noodle or rice dishes, but tonight I was adventurous and tried it with a jerked pork tenderloin. Good, but maybe better with a heavier riesling or gewurtz.

I found mine at my nearest market, but if you have trouble getting it locally, you can find it here: Saint M Riesling

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

August 4, 2008

Washington Hills Gewurztraminer 2006

small_Gewurzt_label.jpgVARIETAL: Gewurztraminer
REGION: Columbia Valley, Washington
PRICE: $7.99

It isn't often that I take three sips of a wine and hastily dispose of the remainder in my sink. I have only one word to adequately describe my experience with this wine: blech! I bought it to accompany my weekly Indian fix and as usual, before dinner, I readied my notepad and poured myself a glass. It smelled fine. Not as aromatic as Gewurtz should be in my opinion, but it seemed drinkable. And then, BLECH!! Pixie stix meets overripe grapes. I spit it out and did my due diligence. I waited to taste it with dinner before making my final judgment. After all, sometimes wine tastes better with food. Ugh. Why did I bother? Unappealing and overall undrinkable. If you want to give it the benefit of the doubt it could very well be a bad bottle or just past its prime. But as for me, I'll be steering clear of Washington Hills wines for a while. I'm still shuddering. . .

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

July 29, 2008

Cat's Phee on a Gooseberry Bush 2007

catspheeLABEL.jpgVARIETAL: Sauvignon Blanc
REGION: New Zealand
PRICE: $10

Remember that pucker you got when you first popped a Lemonhead in your mouth? Well amplify that about ten times and you'll get this extremely vibrant New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Aromas of cut grass and a certain l'eau du chat that the name implies are a little sharp. Explosions of zesty lime follow on your palate and reinforce the racy nature of this wine. I love the irreverence of the name, but I do wish the wine was a little more well rounded. Fun and refreshing, but a little one-dimensional.

I found mine at Cost Plus World Market, but if you require further investigation, check out the Coopers Creek site.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

July 16, 2008

Snoqualmie Nearly Naked Gewürztraminer 2006

06_NearlyNaked_Gewurz_Label.jpgVARIETAL: Gewurztraminer
REGION: Columbia Valley, Washington
PRICE: $12

From the folks at Snoqualmie, their 'Nearly Naked' designation indicates that minimal non-organic production methods are used--in other words, the grapes are organic (though not certified) and as much as possible, they've tried to let the grapes do all the work. And, as many certified organic wines die on your palate before they've fully evolved, I think they have made the right decision. This wine is both delicate and unctuous. A lovely orange blossom bouquet is punctuated with shots of fragrant spice. In true Gewurz style, the floral and spice notes are layered with juicy fruit viscosity that clings to your taste buds, bursting with ripe stone fruit flavors. A refreshingly crisp mineral finish adds polish and dimension. We took this when invited to dinner with some friends--they prepared a sumptuous Indian dinner for us and the Nearly Naked Gewurztraminer was the perfect complement to every dish.

I found mine at Whole Foods, but they have a retail distribution page on their site that is fairly up-to-date. Snoqualmie Winery

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

July 7, 2008

Silverado Miller Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2006

silveradoSBlabel.jpgVARIETAL(S): Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon
REGION: Napa Valley, California
PRICE: $15
Lovely, light and oh-so-summery, this sauvignon blanc shines. It is a pale golden yellow with bright citrus scents accentuated by a palate that is soft, yet crisp with ripe melon and golden apple flavors. Just when you think you've got it all figured out, stand by for the palate cleansing citrus and a clean stony finish. It s so easy to drink I found myself slurping a little. Great on its own, but even more lovely with light seafood fare.

I probably wouldn't pay full price for it, but luckily I found mine on sale at a local market. If you can't find it locally, you can find it here: Silverado Sauvignon Blanc

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

June 23, 2008

Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera 2006

fontafredbarbera.jpgVARIETAL: Barbera
REGION: Piedmont, Italy
PRICE: $10

This is as super-smooth an Italian as I've ever encountered--and that includes a few close encounters while vacationing in northern Italy one summer. Ripe, round plum and berry notes accentuated with a subtle nudge of black pepper and spice. It is a natural match for tuscan pot roast, but I like it with thin crust pizza as well. This is a great find for lovers of Italian (wines, of course) and a beautiful value-priced Barbera. I found it at Costco for $10 but you can also find it here: Fontanafredda Briccotondo Barbera.

p.s. If you're into ratings, this baby made the Wine Spectator Top 100 2007 and was given a whopping 90 points.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

June 17, 2008

Vinum Cellars Rose - It's Okay! 2006

vinumrose.jpgVARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon
REGION: Napa, California
PRICE: $11

In general, I dig what the folks at Vinum Cellars have going on. Slightly irreverant brand personality, but backed up by solid fruit and stellar winemaking. The resulting wines are what we're all about: lovingly crafted and easy on the pocketbook. That said, I don't LOVE the 2006 Rose. It is bright and crisp with decent berry notes and hint of watermelon. But it is not as layered as previous vintages that I so relished summers past. It is perfectly fine, certainly OKAY, just not as great as I remember and even a little hot on the finish. I picked mine up at World Market, but if you don't have one near you, it is also available on

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

June 4, 2008

Cave de Lugny Macon Villages 2006

14385_bottle.jpgVARIETAL: Chardonnay
REGION: Burgundy, France
PRICE: $11

This was sort of a last-minute buy at Whole Foods. People coming for dinner. Flounder in parchment already in the oven and I had only a bottle of rose and a bottle of albarino chilled. Not a disaster if you're having friends over. But alas we were expecting a picky relative, so off to the market. I figured you can't really go wrong with a decent white burgundy--generally pleasing to even picky palates and a good match for the fish. Not wanting to spend a lot of $$, I chose the Cave de Lugny. I was pretty familiar with other Cave de Lugny wines so I gave it a shot. Lovely scents of golden apple, pear and citrus were enticing, but there was no pay-off. I found this wine a little thin and flat, almost watery. And though it did exhibit nice, clean, distinctly Burgundian minerality, there was not much else to balance it out. I even let it warm up a bit thinking it might be too cold. Nothing helped. But I am not (yet) convinced that the problem is the wine. Next time I'll buy one off the shelf and chill it myself. Perhaps it lingered in the store's refrigerated case a bit too long? I'll let you know. In the meantime, do try to buy whites that are un-chilled and chill them yourself. Or if the store has one, use the instant chiller.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking
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