Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Courtney Benham - Cabernet Franc

Price: $18.99
Region: California (Sonoma)
Year: 2006

I meant to write this review last weekend, but with a bunch of vacation days thrown into the mix, I'm just a little off my routine. Anyway, this wine review is going to be a slight departure from the norm since this was one we enjoyed during our annual Christmas lunch with my in-laws. I usually buy something in the $40 - $50 range for Christmas lunch, but had just been wanting to try this wine for a while, so decided to go a little lower on the scale. At just under $20, this is more then I spend on a weekly wine, but still not all that expensive. We had this particular wine with a wonderful cheese and fruit tray. the cheeses consisted of Huntsman (cheddar & blue cheese), a dill Havarti, and Brie.

I will be the first to admit I do not know how a Cabernet Franc is different from the more common Sauvignon, but I did have a bottle once when I was in Napa, and thought it was very good. This is partially the reason I've been wanting to try this particular wine. I have passed by it a coupel of times in my local wine store, but just never picked it up. Anyway, when I first pured a glass, it definitely looked like a deep dark red Sauvignon. No difference here (to my eye anyway). When I took a sniff, I was surprised at how strong the aroma was. Not bad by any means, but strong nonetheless. Now, the important part. When I took my first sip, I was hit with a very upfront taste that also hung around for a bit. There was definitely a noticeable difference between what I would expect out of a Cabernet Sauvignon, but it was very pleasant, and I would say unique. It was good to try something different for a change, and generally was fairly impressed with this wine. My only hesitation is that at almost $20, there are much more economical choices that are at least on par with this wine. That being said, if you just want to try something different, you won't be disappointed.

Today will be another holiday wine choice, as not only it is New Year's Eve, but also my 37th birthday! Here is wishing everyone a Happy New Year!!

Rating: 3.25 Corks (Slightly pricey, but different)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Per Me Sola - Sangoivese

Price: $6.99
Region: Toscana
Year: 2007

Well, as you'll notice, this is the first wine I've reviewed so far where I just couldn't find a picture online. It usually just isn't that difficult, but after 15 minutes or so, I gave up. Here is the new default photo in case that ever happens again. Anyway, this was a record fast trip to the wine store. I knew we were ordering some of our favorite pizza (called Mediterranean Salad), and I needed a wine to go along. Just seemed like a good time to head down the Italian wine isle. As I did, I got to the section where the Sangiovese wine was located, and came across a big yellow sign that simply said "PIZZA". I'm never one to ignore an obvious sign. My only hesitation is that $6.99 is getting close to the range where I tend to stay away from, but I gave it a try anyway.

The wine definitely had a nice deep color to it. I didn't get the impression it was going to be weak and timid. Additionally, it had a nice aroma as well. Nothing astounding, but pleasant nonetheless. But, as always, it comes down to taste. For some reason, I didn't have a glass with an appetizer this week, just waited to have a glass when I sat down to eat. Sangiovese is not a wine I drink on a regular basis, but have generally enjoyed it when I have. This was was along the same lines as others I have tasted. It had a nice flavor, with good length, but just slightly acidic for my taste. I will say, for $7, it is definitely a good pizaa wine, but are probably others out there that may just just a bit better.

Rating: 2.75 Corks (Not too shabby)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chateau De Segries - Cotes Du Rhone

Price: $10.99
Region: France
Year: 2006

I only grabbed one bottle of wine this weekend, and it wasn't one of my usual bottles, so I'll have to finish my top 5 default wines next week. This week, I decided to grab something from France. I think the reason I tend to shy away from other regions besides California and Australia is because it isn't always as easy to tell what exactly I am buying. I know that is clearly a sign of my inexperience with French and Italian wines, but it just seems simpler to call a wine by the grape used to make it.

Anyway, I tend to associate Cotes Du Rhone with the Syrah or Grenache grape, which I generally enjoy, so it didn't seem like a very big gamble. My first impression after pouring a glass was that this particular wine was a little lighter in color then I expected. The smell however, was very strong, and very pleasant. I have trouble describing what smell I usually get from a wine, but this wine gave me the sense of a floral undertone. Definitely very nice. I'm still not 100% what grape this wine is made of primarily, but when I took a taste, it was very enjoyable, but slightly acidic. It had very good length, and had a fairly smooth finish. I actually enjoyed teh 2nd galss a tocuh mroe then the first, but overall it is a wine worth giving a try. Of the two, I definitely prefer the Louis Bernard, but this is not one to dismiss outright..
Rating: 3.25 Corks (Something different)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sebastiani - Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $12.99
Region: California
Year: 2005

So, this week's normal entry was another Cabernet I had not tried yet. Interestingly enough, or at least interesting to me, is that I work for a company that used to run the IT systems for this particular winery a few years back. I can't say that I have ever searched out their wines because of it, but it was just another reason to give it a try. Now, usually when I specifically look for a Cabernet, ti is because there is red meat on the menu. That wasn't the case here as I knew dinner this night was a chicken and sweet potato stew. It just happened to be a cold winter day (it seems winter is a little colder this year already), and I just love a good bold wine on a cold day with a fire going.

Anyway, the first impression definitely didn't disappoint. This was a very deep, dark wine, almost purple in color. It was a good first sign. Next, when I gave the wine a swirl, and a smell, again, I was impressed. It had a nice strong aroma, a little earthy, but very pleasant. That why, when I first poured a glass, and gave it a taste, I was hoping for so much more. Not to say that it was bad at all, but I was really expecting a home run. The initial taste was slightly acidic, but generally decent. The wine had very good length, and the taste stuck around for a bit. I think my disappointment was mostly that the wine just wasn't as smooth, and as bold as I anticipated based on the wonderful color and smell. I think I will give it another try someday, maybe with a beef stew instead of chicken.

Rating: 3 Corks (A little better then average)

Monte Antico - Sangiovese

Price: $10.99
Region: Toscana
Year: 2004

With the next wine that makes my top 5 default wines, I stray a bit from the normal mold of California or Australia. I know based on wines like this, I should more often choose wines from Italy and France, etc., but I just always seem to gravitate to those regions I know better. Anyway, this is probably the first wine that I would classify as something I bought on a regular basis. I'm not even sure why I picked it up other then I read something a few years ago recommending it. Once I gave it a try, it was easy to see why it came highly recommended for the price.

When you first pour a glass, you can notice the deep, dark red coloring. Nothing weak looking here. Equally as noticeable is the pleasant aroma. I don't like using this term, but it just seems to fit here.. Bouquet. Just generally very appealing. In my opinion however, what makes this wine worth coming back to time and time again, is the flavor. It would be hard to call it unique, but it is definitely unique to what I usually drink. I think having a standby Sangiovese is very important to enjoy with the myriad of pasts dinner that seems to show up more often then not. To tell you the truth, this is my favorite wine to have with a plain old cheese pizza. The combination just hits the spot every time. This is the definition of what my default wines are all about. Don't have to think about what to grab when I run into the wine store when I ordered a pizza, I just know I want the same wine that made the dinner so enjyable the last time.

Rating: 3.75 Corks (My default Italian wine)