Reviews

1st February
2012
written by The Chronicler

Winter is that time of year when you don’t go out unless you have to, instead electing to cuddle by the fireplace or in front of the TV.  Nothing compliments an evening at home better than a bottle of wine.  This season, I prefer bold red wines.  You can always count on California to deliver bold.  Here is my take on two full-bodied California red wines.

D&S PROPRIETARY RED CALIFORNIA 2007

I recently tasted through several wines at Bin 36 Chicago, and D&S (made by proprietors Brian Duncan and Dan Sachs) was a standout.  This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Syrah, Petite Verdot, and Merlot comes together seamlessly to create a subtle yet rich wine.  D&S is the perfect winter wine that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  The earthy and fruity notes are wonderfully balanced with just the right amount of acidity and soft tannins.  It drinks just as well with food as it does alone.

RATING*: 

Price: $25

ELIZABETH SPENCER CABERNET SAUVIGNON NAPA VALLEY 2007

It doesn’t take much to get me to indulge in some wine shopping, so when I got a coupon in the mail for my local wine discount store, I headed right over.  When I saw this Napa Valley Cabernet stacked above a little sign that said “lowest price in the country,” it caught my eye.  Assuming the wine was from a woman-owned winery, I figured I would give it a try.  (it is, in fact, owned by a woman—Elizabeth—and her husband—Spencer.)   Napa Valley Cabernet is known for its bold, ripe notes of fruit.  Still, I was overwhelmed with fruit.  Perhaps this wine is still too young to drink.  Or, perhaps it will never gain complexity, even as the notes of fruit soften with time.  Given that it didn’t hold up for even a day, I would bet on the latter.  Disappointing, as I am usually a huge fan of Napa Valley Cabernet.  Nevertheless, those who enjoy fruit forward wine may really like this one.

RATING*: 

Price: $50

*Rating Scale: 1 Cork = Bad, 2 Corks = Palatable, 3 Corks = Good, 4 Corks = Excellent, 5 Corks = Classic

 

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28th January
2012
written by The Chronicler

It’s cold outside and there is snow on the ground.  After a long day, what better way to relax than sitting by the fireplace with a glass of red wine?  Red wine is perfect for the winter season and the some of the heartier meals we enjoy this time of year.  Here  are two age-worthy Italian red wines to consider.

Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco Rosso DOC

ARNALDO-CAPRAI MONTEFALCO ROSSO DOC UMBRIA 2007

Montefalco Rosso is a big-bodied Sangiovese, due to the addition of 15% Sagrantino.  Sagrantino grapes produce powerhouse wines.  Unless this Montefalco Rosso is decanted, your palate will be overwhelmed with oak and tannins.  Sangiovese is typically more subtle and acidic, making it great with food.  But after the bouquet of aromas opens up, Montefalco Rosso’s softer side begins to show.  Its complexity is intriguing, as it is assertive yet easygoing.  It is supple on the tongue with notes of tea, herbs, cherry, generous acidity and a long finish.  Montefalco Rosso is likely to become an even better wine with a few more years of age.  It will pair well with hearty pasta and red sauce or red meat.

RATING*: 

Price: $23

 

Franco Molino Barolo DOCG

FRANCO MOLINO BAROLO DOCG PIEDMONT 2006

Franco Molino is another full bodied wine worth aging.  2006 was a good year for Barolo.  The extreme growing conditions in 2006 resulted in wines that are highly tannic and closed, but are expected to express classic structure with several years of aging.  When I popped open the cork, I expected to find it tightly closed.  I did not, however, expect the wretched taste I experienced upon first sip.  The funk that this wine threw off was so nasty, I figured the bottle had to be corked.  I decanted it anyway.  After a few hours I was pleasantly surprised to find that this wine had transformed from frog to prince.  It has the austerity of Darth Vader, the stealth of Batman, and the finesse of James Bond.  Franco Molino’s expressive notes of black cherry, prune, truffle and a touch of tar come together very nicely.  This is a wine that I would prefer to drink alone, but it could also be paired with dark chocolate or red meat.  I expect that it will age nicely over many more years.

RATING*:  

Price: $40 (half bottle)

*Rating Scale: 1 Cork = Bad, 2 Corks = Palatable, 3 Corks = Good, 4 Corks = Excellent, 5 Corks = Classic

 

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29th December
2011
written by The Chronicler

2012 Sparkling Wines

In just a couple of days, we will toast to a new year and the resolutions we hope to keep throughout 2012.  Here are five sparkling wines that will add a pop to your new year’s toast:

HENRIOT BRUT SOUVERAIN NV ($45)

Henriot Brut Souverain is one of my favorite Champagnes.  It has a rich flavor profile that makes you feel regal with a freshness that entices you to let your hair down.  Perfect for an intimate gathering, it is dry with notes of apple, apricot, and orange blossoms.

LOUIS ROEDERER BRUT PREMIER NV ($40)

If Henriot is regal yet fun, then Louis Roederer Brut Premier is stately yet laid back.  Its dryness is more pronounced, but it is very easy drinking.  Crisp with notes of toast, ginger, and granny smith apples, this Champagne will have you pouring another glass.

BAREFOOT BUBBLY BRUT CUVÉE ($10)

Barefoot is the budget sparkler of the bunch that under $10 is a good value.  Last year, Barefoot’s Sparkling Moscato was very popular with my friends and family.  The Brut Cuvee is far drier with notes of creamy vanilla, pear, and a bit of toast.  This one is great for a large gathering, and you can use the leftovers for mimosas in the morning.

VOVETI PROSECCO ($15)

Voveti Prosecco is cosmopolitan.  This one is for the hottest party at the hottest club.  It is trendy yet sophisticated with notes of lemon, orange blossoms, peach, wheat and touch of vanilla.  Voveti is another dry sparkler but very fresh.

GLORIA FERRER BRUT ROSÉ ($30)

For those who prefer pink, Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé is a lovely selection.  It is flavorful and crisp with notes of strawberry, raspberry, pear, citrus and vanilla.  Gloria Ferrer is a crowd pleaser.

What will you be toasting with on New Year’s Eve?  Have a safe and happy New Year!

 

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6th December
2011
written by The Chronicler

The holiday season is in full swing.  One of my favorite things about the holiday season is eating more—okay, lots more—sweets.  This is the time of year that I feel excused to indulge my sweet tooth, especially since any evidence can be hidden under sweaters and down coats.  My sweet cravings extend to dessert wines.  Chateau Bel Air Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont 2007 is a lovely dessert wine that is sweet without cloying.

Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont is a sub-appellation of Bordeaux and next door neighbor to Sauternes.  Like Sauternes, Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont grapes were attacked by botrytis cinera, the “noble rot” that causes the sugars in the grapes to concentrate resulting in a sweet dessert wine.  Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont is a less expensive alternative to Sauternes.  Chateau Bel Air Sainte-Croix-Du-Mont 2007 is 100% Semillon.  This full bodied wine explodes with fruity notes of peach, pineapple, and apricot.  Its sweet notes of honey are tempered by beeswax.  Its acidity will allow it to pair well with a number of richly textured desserts including crème brule and cheesecake.  I chose to pair it with a classic French blue cheese, Forme d’Ambert from Auvergne, France.

Blue cheese pairs well with sweet wines such as late bottled vintage Port and Sauternes.   Chateau Bel Air was no exception.  Served with blue cheese, it makes for a sweet and salty pairing.  The intensity and weight of blue cheese deliciously complimented the honeyed sweetness and creamy texture of the wine.  Try it and let us what you think in the comments.

 

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17th November
2011
written by The Chronicler

With Thanksgiving only a week away, I have been bombarded with Pinot Noir, Rosé, and Beaujolais—a few prototypical Thanksgiving dinner pairing wines.  One of the best Pinot Noirs I have had this year is from Sonoma Coast (Jayson Pahlmeyer 2006), so I popped open the corks on two Sonoma Coast Pinot Noirs to see how they stacked up.  Sonoma Coast Vineyards Freestone Hills Pinot Noir 2009 and Francis Coppola Director’s Pinot Noir 2009 are two different styles of Pinot Noir.  Yet, both are delightful.

Sonoma Coast Vineyards “SCV” Freestone Hills Pinot Noir 2009 provides a sensuous experience for your palate.  Its luscious, ripe fruit notes of black cherry and raspberry are spiked with subtle oak spices, tree bark and a mossy texture and aroma.  At 14.3%, SCV’s  high alcohol content and moderate acidity could be a little overwhelming with a turkey dinner but it’s delicious alone and will likely improve with some age.  SCV Pinot Noir retails for $40.

Francis Coppola Director's Pinot Noir 2009

Francis Coppola Director’s Pinot Noir 2009, by contrast, is a wonderful food wine.  It is relatively light bodied and very nicely balances its fruit and earth character.  While sipping this Pinot Noir, twigs and berries came to mind—in a good way.  Francis Coppola is a nice expression of the terroir complimented by the luscious fruit character you would expect from a California Pinot Noir.  Though this wine is lighter in texture, it is at once hearty and austere.  Its moderately high acidity allows it to pairs well with lots of meals, including Thanksgiving dinner.  Francis Coppola Pinot Noir retails for $21.

What do you think about these Pinot Noirs?

 

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