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Updated: 2018-03-05T08:38:52.560-08:00

 



Rutini Wines Trumpeter Malbec 2007

2010-06-16T04:20:58.423-07:00

Who: Rutini Wines
What: Malbec
Where: Argentina, Mendoza
When: 2007
How Much: $12.99 (media sample)

I held this a little longer than usual for a wine at this price point, and was rewarded with spicy black and red fruit. Elderberry, black and red raspberry, and black pepper, all with violet undertones, flowed through the glass. There is still wood, but the vanilla and touch of cedar complement, rather than overwhelm, the fruit. The finish is short, but good for the price point. Even better, at three years of age, this gem might be found in you local store's bargain bin. If it is, grab them all. Even if it isn't, at this price why not grab enough to get you through the summer? This would be a great match with burgers or steaks on the grill.




Chateau Cambon la Pelouse 2003

2010-05-17T18:30:21.156-07:00

Chateau Cambon la Pelouse 2003Haut-Medoc, Bordeaux, FranceRetail $20The Wooden Guys would give it two thumbs up, if they had thumbs.Night OneLike several for the moderately-priced bottles of '03 Bordeaux I have opened recently, this is coming to life, perhaps even peaking now. A year ago it was dead, but now it is showing a pleasant balance of fruit, blackberry and some raspberry, and more aged flavors of violets and cigar box. Tannins are soft and smooth. This has matured into a very pleasant bottle of wine at a bargain price, drinking at its peak right now. highly recommended as a bargain introduction to a great year for Bordeaux.Night TwoA lot of the fruit is gone. Some minerality is showing through. Overall, though, it lacks the complexity of Night One. This is not a wine to hold a lot longer. Drink it now and enjoy it. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.[...]



Thanksgiving at Palate Press

2009-11-18T12:25:57.457-08:00

Thanksgiving: Our Wine Holiday,by W. R. Tish

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Thanks to the World Wide Web, America’s homegrown feasting holiday has become, all but officially, America’s Wine Holiday.

Read more at Palate Press: The online wine magazine.


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A Doughboy France: A Palate Press Veterans Day Tribute

2009-11-09T11:41:46.280-08:00

Today's story, A Doughboy in France: A Palate Press Veterans Day Tribute, can be found at Palate Press. It includes seven wine reviews (well, six wine and a beer) and excerpts from my grandfather's World War I diary. I think you will enjoy it.

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1996 Clairault Reserve

2009-09-29T12:39:16.167-07:00

Vintage 1996
Type Red
Producer Cape Clairault Wines
Variety Red Bordeaux Blend
Designation Reserve
Country Australia South
Region Western Australia
SubRegion West Australia
Appellation Margaret River

The wine was slightly cloudy and brick colored, turning to orange at the edges. It was also a bit translucent, showing clear signs of its age.

The nose showed loads of dried flowers and a bit of crispy beef fat. It was earthy, a bit dirty, and had fresh bay leaves in the background.

On the palate, dried flowers and dried leafy spices, plus some distinct hazelnut, led the attack. Mouthfeel was silky, tannins were very smooth and fully integrated, but the finish fell flat.

After a few hours the finish improved, lingering for a little while. The palate, too, improved some, adding an echo of black cherries on the attack and some truffles and nuts to the mid-palate.

There is no second night review, and the wooden guys did not get a chance to try this one.


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PALATE PRESS: The online wine magazine

2009-09-08T11:38:38.129-07:00

I apologize for my absence from 2 Days per Bottle. I have been preparing to launch PALATE PRESS: The online wine magazine, and I am absolutely thrilled to announce that we launch Thursday, September 10, with an amazing lineup of stories. Here is a sneak preview of the press release, for my wonderful readers:PALATE PRESS: The online wine magazine, the next step in the evolution of on-line wine content, is pleased to announce its launch on September 10, 2009. PALATE PRESS is the collaborative effort many of the best recognized wine voices on the internet, including American Wine Blog Award winners and twenty of the Top 100 Wine Blogs. The Editor in Chief is W. R. Tish, known in the wine trade as simply "Tish." Tish was Editor of Wine Enthusiast Magazine for 10 years, and has been writing and speaking about wine and food--often with a comedic edge--for more than a decade since. Deb Harkness is PALATE PRESS' Wine Review Editor. A double award winner in the 2008 American Wine Blog Awards (best single-subject wine blog and best wine review blog), Deb, aka "Dr. Debs," has been seeking out and writing about Good Wine Under $20 for two years now. Two more of our Editors were American Wine Blog Award winners in 2009: Lenn Thompson for best single-subject wine blog (LENNDEVOURS) and Jeff Lefevere for best graphics (GOOD GRAPE: A Wine Blog Manifesto). And Art and Visuals Editor Hardy Wallace was recently in the news as the winner of the "Really Goode Job" created by Murphy-Goode Winery; Hardy runs a Top 100 wine blog at Dirty South Wine. Other Editors and Contributors from the world's top 100 wine blogs include Gabriella Opaz (Catavino), Richard Auffrey (Passionate Foodie), Michelle Lentz (My Wine Education), Russ Beebe (Winehiker Witiculture), Joe Roberts (1 Wine Dude), Craig Camp (Wine Camp), Kori Voorhees (Wine Peeps), Andrew Barrow (Spittoon), Remy Charest (The Wine Case), "Sonadora" (Wannabe Wino), Ken Payton (Reign of Terroir), Tim Elliot (Wine Cast) and many more. Palate Press writers are based across the U.S., in Canada and around the world; they receive hundreds of thousands of wine-related hits every month and all of them will be contributing original content to the site. The entire staff list can be found here. Palate Press also welcomes submissions from wine writers around the internet and the world. In terms of its position within the current wine-media scene, Editor in Chief W. R. Tish sees PALATE PRESS as a "blogazine," combining the passion of bloggers with the editorial appeal of a broad-based magazine. He adds that the capacity of readers to comment on articles adds a dynamic that makes Palate Press more like talk radio than like traditional print, and he promises: "We are not afraid of controversy. And we are not afraid to present multiple opinions on wine topics--something you rarely see in the Ivory Tower glossies. We think our approach to the wine zeitgeist will be more realistic, and in turn rewarding for readers. Palate Press is committed to covering wine intelligently, not churning out hundreds of sterile wine ratings in bloated buying guides." Articles on PALATE PRESS will be presented via seven distinct departments, or "Pages": Feature Story; The Wine Life; Spotlight; Hot Potato; + Food; Soap Box; and, starting in October, Wine Reviews. Stories slated for the first month include a soul-searching profile of Bonny Doon's Randall Grahm; an exposé of shady shelf talkers; a surprising look at wine-label regulations; an Eisch vs. Riedel wine-glass smackdown; critical essays on how wine-evaluation systems by major U.S. critics miss the mark; a firsthand look at how the economy has impacted wine-country tourism; and in-depth articles on under-appreciated wines from Alsace to Portugal to Walla Walla. David Honig, creator and Publisher, describes PALATE PRESS as "a logical next generation" of wine media. The hypothesis is simple: collecting the very best of the w[...]



2005 Château de Bellevue

2009-06-24T09:57:00.703-07:00

Type Red
Producer Château de Bellevue
Variety Red Bordeaux Blend
Country France
Region Bordeaux
SubRegion Libournais
Appellation St. Émilion Grand Cru
Price $15 (375 ml) at

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The Little Wooden Guy likes the wine, and the smaller bottle makes him feel bigger.

The color was incredibly dark, completely opaque but for the very edges, black with a purple tint.

The nose opened with blackcurrant and cedar, with a background aroma of vanilla cream, but very light, not overpowering wood-based vanilla.

On the palate, blackcurrant is the predominate fruit, along with some blackberry. Peppermint and eucalyptus appear on the mid-palate, lightly, behind more fruit, some cedar and vanilla, which grow toward a mid-length finish. Mouth feel is silky, with firm tannins and bright acids.

This is very nice wine, and sometimes a 375 is just the perfect size.



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2003 Deerfield Ranch Pinot Noir Jemrose Vineyard

2009-06-23T20:53:27.855-07:00

Type Red
Producer Deerfield Ranch
Variety Pinot Noir
Vineyard Jemrose Vineyard
Country USA
Region California
SubRegion Sonoma County
Appellation Bennett Valley
Price $34.99 at WineQ

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It's THIIIIISSSSSS big!

Night One

The nose is rich and sweet, with sweet cherry, vanilla, toasted coconut and meringue.

The palate is equally big and sweet, with sweet cherries, blueberries, and loads of vanilla. There is chocolate on the mid-palate. This is very sweet, very woody.

The label says "Pinot Noir" and nothing else, but if I were tasting it blind, I would bet there was some Petite Syrah in the mix, thought that would be a rather unique blend.

Night Two

The nose showed more depth on Night Two, adding some balsa and sage to sweet cherries and vanilla, along with some meatiness, like the crisp outside of a sage-rolled pork roast.

The palate, too, shows more depth, as well as deeper, dark fruit. It opens, not with sweet cherries and blueberries, but dark cherries and prunes, plus smoked meat and sage. Dried cranberries and marjoram appear on the mid-palate, followed by vanilla and toasted almonds. The finish is sweet, but falls off quickly.

Acids are low, tannins mild, but the two are just a bit out of balance. The lack of acid does not bode well for a long cellar life.


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2007 Domaine C. Ducroux Régnié

2009-06-23T08:19:13.124-07:00

Type: Red
Producer: Domaine C. Ducroux
Variety: Gamay
Country: France
Region: Burgundy
SubRegion: Beaujolais
Appellation: Régnié
Price: $14.99 from Chambers Street Wines

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Night One

Minerals and strawberries, plus a single spray of oil from one twist of key lime rind, blend together beautifully on the nose. On the palate it is surpisingly rich and dark. The palate opens with a quick startling flavor of beef fat and dark berries. Strawberries and plums are on the mid-palate, along with strong minerality that lasts through the finish. This has a velvety richness that would shock so many who think "Beaujolais" is synonymous with "Beaujolais Neuveau," and who turn their nose at the whole region. On second thought, don't tell them. That will mean more for us.




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1996 Paul Jaboulet Aîné Cornas Domaine de Saint Pierre

2009-06-22T10:28:06.719-07:00

Type Red
Producer Paul Jaboulet Aîné
Variety Syrah
Designation Domaine de Saint Pierre
Country France
Region Rhône
SubRegion Northern Rhône
Appellation Cornas

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The Little Wooden Guy finds this wine is just tired, beyond its prime.

Night One

The color is interesting. It is a little translucent and deep dark red. The nose is very deep and a little raisiny, with dark fruit, marjoram, green olives and bacon fat. There is less fruit on the palate than the nose. The fruits are black, blackberries and plums, but they are subdued. Floral flavors, violets and lavender, join the fruit. Green olives and bacon fat appear on the mid-palate. The finish falls flat.

Night Two

Some florals remained, but almost no fruit. Very little mid-palate remained. This was clearly wine past its prime.


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1997 Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo Ghemme

2009-06-20T04:29:59.491-07:00

Type Red
Producer Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo
Variety Nebbiolo
Country Italy
Region Piedmont
SubRegion Northern Piedmont
Appellation Ghemme

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The Little Wooden Guy loves a bargain on aged wine.

Night One

The color says "tired and old," a dull red-orange brick with clear edges bordered by orange. The nose is a little closed, but if you really dig you can find roses, chestnuts and a little cherry. The real surprise is on the palate- there's still some life in this bottle. It still has some bright acid and smooth tannins, with the flavors of cherries, violets and leather. Licorice and a touch of tar are on the mid-palate. Mouth feel is chewy and teeth-coating.

Night Two

There are lots of nuts and flowers on the nose on Night Two, but little, if any, fruit. It also has just a bit of truffle and leather.

The palate is also primarily flowers and nuts. It has lavender and roses, tarragon and chestnuts. A little cherry survived through Night Two, getting stronger on the mid-palate, along with some leather. Tannins are very smooth. The finish is still long.

Conclusion

If you look at the picture you will see that this was marked down repeatedly, as years passed and inventory winnowed. Sometimes that means the wine is so mediocre nobody wants it. With a disreputable merchant, it can even mean it comes from stock that often got returned. But once in a while it can be a great opportunity to buy aged wine for a song. It is those rare finds that keep m going back to the bargain table.


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2005 Würtz Weinmann Pinot Noir Jakob Neumer

2009-06-19T08:35:40.878-07:00

Type: Red
Producer: Würtz Weinmann
Variety: Pinot Noir
Designation: Jakob Neumer
Country: Germany
Region: Rheinhessen
Price: $19.99 from Garagiste

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The Little Wooden Guy made a new friend, and he's from Germany.

Night One

The color is interesting. It is bright and semi-translucent, but tinted slightly orange, a brickish color that would normally indicate significant aging. The nose is quite pleasant, a blend of Oregon Pinot and a bit of the same from California. At the beginning aromas of classic red fruit are obvious, cherries and strawberries, plus a bit of cranberry. There is also some sage and a hint of truffle. With a deep enough sniff, richer aromas, jammier fruits and a bit of mocha. The palate, too, blends Oregon and California. Red fruits on the attack are clean and tart, but the mid-palate has a jammy richness and a bit of vanilla. The finish is mid-length.

This is a very interesting wine. My personal opinion about Pinot is that some of the big-name California offerings, Kosta Browne, Sea Smoke, and others, get so big they lose the delicacy that makes Pinot so special. I expect a Napa Cabernet to reach out of the glass and punch me in the nose. I want a good Pinot to waft gently into my nose and grow once it's there. This one sneaks in, then tries to punch its way out.

I wonder what it will be like on Night Two.

Night Two

This is a very pleasant wine on Night Two. It has fresh red fruit flavors up front. It adds very light flavors of licorice and vanilla on the mid-palate.

I absolutely dare anybody to taste this blind and come up with "Germany" without help. This is good, and one of the best $20 Pinots I have had in the last two years.


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1997 Les Cailloux (Lucien et André Brunel) Châteauneuf-du-Pape

2009-06-18T07:28:35.758-07:00

Type Red
Producer Les Cailloux (Lucien et André Brunel)
Variety Red Rhone Blend
Designation n/a
Vineyard n/a
Country France
Region Rhône
SubRegion Southern Rhône
Appellation Châteauneuf-du-Pape

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This wine has the Big Wooden Guy scratching his head a bit.

Night One

The color clearly says this is an older wine. It is translucent and brick-red with orange edges. The nose is interesting, tarragon, thyme, cherry, and a little crushed limestone. The palate is complex. It starts with dried cherries then loads tarragon, thyme, sage and leather on top. On the mid-palate the cherries go from dried to tart and add some strawberries, while carrying the spices along from the attack. Lavender also shows up on the mid-palate. The finish is long.

Night Two

Most of the fruit is gone from the nose on Night Two. Instead, it is redolent with leafy spices and dried flowers. There are still a few cherries on the palate but they are resting on a deep bed of violets, lavender, tarragon, thyme and sage.

Conclusion

This is an interesting, even curious, wine. It is not fantastic, or particularly special, but it very pleasantly shows what happens when good wine spends some time in the cellar, long enough to let the fruit fade and the spices and flowers come forward.



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2006 Newton Red Label Claret

2009-06-17T08:14:27.131-07:00

Type: Red
Producer: Newton
Variety: Red Blend
Designation: Red Label Claret
Country: USA
Region: California
SubRegion: Napa Valley
Appellation: Napa Valley

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The Big Wooden Guy says "tsk tsk" for the use, indeed abuse, of wood in this wine.

Night One

Try this- make a laminated board out of several layers of oak and cedar. Dribble three drops of vanilla extract on it, let it soak in. Now, place one blackcurrant, just one, on the ground and smack it with the board. Wipe it with a paper towel and let it dry for three days. Now you know exactly what this wine smells like.

The palate has plenty of wood, enough to match the nose. Oak, cedar, oak, vanilla, cedar, and a little more oak. Oh, there might be a blackberry and a blackcurrant hanging out there somewhere, but they are hard to find. A little licorice shows up on the mid-palate. Tannins are dusty and slightly harsh.

Night Two

Wood is still dominant, along with some real heat from high alcohol. Loads of wood, cedar and vanilla lead the nose, though a bit more black fruit shows up than on Night One.

The palate is still wood-laden, the only difference being the addition of a bit of cream and a whole lot more vanilla.



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2005 BearBoat Pinot Noir

2009-06-04T08:16:46.138-07:00

Type Red
Producer BearBoat
Variety Pinot Noir
Country USA
Region California
SubRegion Sonoma County
Appellation Russian River Valley
Price $24 in Indianapolis, IN


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The Little Wooden Guy present a pretty good Russian River Pinot for less than $30.

Night One

The nose opened, right after the cork was pulled, with some funk. A few minutes later,after it blew off, red fruit predominated, with several secondary aromas. Cranberries, cherry pits, and some barely ripe wild strawberries took the lead. Pine needles, sage, and a touch of cocoa hovered in the background.

The palate opens with a tsunami of unsweetened, and unsweet, red fruit. Have you ever had unsweetened cranberries? How about tiny wild strawberries, or those little clear native cherries? It's all in there, along with some marjoram and sage. A bit of cocoa and black tea make an appearance on the mid-palate. Tannins and acids are both strong, the acids sharp, the tannins like new leather. They do seem to compete with each other and with the fruit, but might settle down on Night Two.

Stick around for Night Two, because this is a darned good Russian River Pinot, something you just don't find under $30 these days.

Night Two

The nose on Night Two is far more muted than on Night One. On Night One, it reached out of the glass to climb up your nose. On Night Two, though, you have to reach your nose into the glass to find everything it had to offer. It has plenty of red fruit, cherries, less cranberry, some sweet pomegranate, but it also has other aromas, including pencil lead, red licorice and cardamom.

The palate is also far more sedate than on Night One. On Night One, I called it "a tsunami" of red fruit. On Night Two, it is more like a slowly rising tide, loads of fruit, but softer, more full, and sneaking up on you. The fruit is more ripe, Bing cherries instead of native cherries, ripe strawberries instead of wild ones. Pomegranate is added to the mix, and cranberries add some tartness and acid to balance out the riper fruits. The cranberries become a little more dominant on the mid-palate, where they are joined by some graphite, marjoram, and cardamom. Tannins are still firm, but better integrated, offering a memory of leather, rather than a mouthful of it. The finish is quite long.

Conclusion

This is a $20 Pinot? No, you won't mistake it for a great Burgundy, but I dare you to pick it out from a table full of $50 California and Oregon selections.



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2004 Darioush Shiraz Signature

2009-06-03T08:10:00.870-07:00

Type: Red
Producer: Darioush
Variety: Shiraz
Designation: Signature
Country: USA
Region: California
SubRegion: Napa Valley
Appellation: Napa Valley
Price: $39.99 (sale) in Carmel, Indiana

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Night One

Be careful not to put your nose too deeply into the glass. This wine forms a fist and punches straight up right at your schnoz. The bottle says "Alcohol 14.9% by volume." Don't believe it. Under US label laws that means the alcohol can be as high as 15.9%, and if I had a gas chromatograph in the junk drawer I would be willing to bet it will ring the 16+ bell. Lots of other big aromas are packed in that fist, including blackberries, very ripe and deeply bruised black cherries, black pepper, freshly ground nutmeg, dark chocolate and cocoa. This is one of those noses you can get caught up in, forgetting to drink the wine for quite a long time.

The palate is equally overpowering. The attack opens with huge bruised dark fruit and black pepper. A whole smorgasbord of flavors flash across the mid-palate, starting with plum skins and nutmeg, then adding dark chocolate, coffee, and a tiny grating of dried orange peel. The tannins are surprisingly gritty, but sweet, adding a cheek-drying leather to the finish, which is quite long.

Night Two should be interesting.

Night Two

I do not have detailed notes from Night Two. A friend came over and we just drank the rest of the bottle together. My general impressions were of a great big sweet woody wine, an Aussie Shiraz doppelganger. Tannins smoothed out significantly, the finish was quite long. At $40, it was okay for the price, but I was back in the same store a few days later and did not feel compelled to pick up any more of it. At the retail $69, I would not even consider buying a bottle.





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2007 Undurraga Syrah T.H.

2009-06-02T08:26:53.782-07:00

Type: Red
Producer: Undurraga
Variety: Syrah
Designation: T.H.
Country: Chile
Region: Coquimbo
SubRegion: Limarí Valley
Price: $24
Disclosure- This was received as a free bottle sample.

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Night One

The nose was very fruity, with a veritable fruit cocktail of blueberry, mulberry, black cherry, and a bit of strawberry. Surprisingly, there was far less fruit on the palate. It was darker, more brooding, with lots of black pepper and some grenache-like dried orange peel. Unsweetened chocolate showed up on the mid-palate.

Night Two

If the nose on Night One was a fruit cocktail, on Night Two it is mixed-fruit jam, with sweet jammy mulberry and plums, along with cedar and vanilla. On the palate, there was elderberry and some slightly artificial Grape Nehi flavoring. It brightened up slightly on the mid-palate shut showed too much wood, melting into brown sugar and vanilla. Tannins were mild, the finish short.

Conclusion

This is a pretty good pop-n-pour, offering interesting fruit and some pleasant secondary flavors. At $24 I think it is stretching the upper end of the reasonable price range for what it has to offer, but it is not, quite, over-priced.



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2007 Errazuriz Carménère Single Vineyard Don Maximiano Estate

2009-06-01T10:01:55.195-07:00

Type: Red
Producer: Errazuriz
Variety: Carménère
Designation: Single Vineyard
Vineyard: Don Maximiano Estate
Country: Chile
Region: Aconcagua
Disclosure- This was received as a free bottle sample.

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The Big Wooden Guy is a little hesitant to recommend this, but thinks it might have some cellar potential for improvement.

Night One

The first impression of the nose is "spicy," with black pepper and anise. Black cherries and blackcurrants also waft up from the glass. The palate offers similar flavors, with obvious use of wood, including vanilla and brown sugar, taking over on the mid-palate. Tannins are slightly gritty.

Night Two

The nose on Night Two was far more complex, starting with black cherry, black pepper and nutmeg, then adding blackberries and birch bark. On the palate, black cherry, blackberry and plums were the fruit on the attack. Vanilla and brown suger again appeared on the mid-palate. Tannins were smoother, less gritty, than on Night One. The mid-length finish was very sweet.

Conclusion

The improvement from Night One to Night Two might give a clue that this will improve with some time in the cellar. Will it ever be great? No, I don't think so, but it retails for less than $20.



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2007 Santa Carolina Carménère Reserva de Familia

2009-05-30T19:39:08.063-07:00

Type: Red
Producer: Santa Carolina
Variety: Carménère
Designation: Reserva de Familia
Country: Chile
Region: Central Valley
SubRegion: Rapel Valley
Appellation: Rapel Valley
Disclosure- This was received as a free bottle sample.

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The Big Wooden Guy is a bit hesitant. it has some promise, and it has a great QPR, but ultimately it's just not that terrific. "Pretty good, but a great value" is accurate, but, at least to me, underwhelming.

Night One

Imagine melting a stick of butter over a bowl full of dark fruit, then sprinkling it all with black pepper, and you will know the nose of this wine. The fruit in the bowl is dark and rich, mulberry and elderberry, with a tiny tell-tale hint of green pepper in the background that announces this wine is from Chile.

On the palate, the same dark fruit and butter appear on the attack, with obvious high alcohol, but high enough acidity to give balance. The "Chile!" green pepper appears on the mid-palate, along with some vanilla, but not an overpowering amount indicative of too much wood. This is a big, fruity wine. Tannins are sweet and silky, and it has a very good mouth-feel.

Night Two

The nose is similar to Night One, with the same butter over dark fruit, but now the green pepper is far more pronounced. The fruit on the palate is bit more tart than on Night One, more blackberry than mulberry, with a little bit of elderberry still there, along with black pepper. There is not as much green pepper as on the nose. Some vanilla, and now brown sugar, appear on the mid-palate. The finish falls off rather quickly.

This is a good QPR wine, but not really a great wine. It is also a pop-n-pour, not something to cellar for a long time or decant over several hours. With additional time the green pepper becomes more pronounced and the wood treatment more obvious and more cloying.



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1999 Château Canon-la-Gaffelière

2009-05-29T11:49:21.641-07:00

Vintage: 1999
Type: Red
Producer: Château Canon-la-Gaffelière
Variety: Red Bordeaux Blend
Country: France
Region: Bordeaux
SubRegion: Libournais
Appellation: St. Émilion Grand Cru

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The Wooden Guys are running to see if their store has any more of this wine.

Night One

The nose starts with blackcurrants and mulberry, pencil lead and green olives. This is a real snoot-full, the sort of wine you can forget to drink, it's so easy to get lost in the different layers of the nose.

Deep dark brooding fruit leads the palate, mulberry, blackberry and blackcurrant. A little bit of redcurrant brings some bright acidity to balance the silky sweet tannins. Pencil lead, a bit of dark earth, and a touch of cedar show up on the mid-palate. The finish is mid-length.

Night Two

On Night Two the fruit, on the nose, seems lighter. Some red fruit has joined the black, a little black cherry and raspberry dancing with blackcurrant and mulberry. Pencil lead, some dark loam, and some cedar round out the nose.

The palate, on the other hand, is still dark, brooding, silky, and wonderfully smooth. Blackcurrants and mulberry, a little bit of blackberry, pencil lead, and a bit of the crispy end of a prime rib. Tannins are silky smooth, bringing just a bit of leather to coat the sides of your cheeks and coat your teeth. The finish is long.

This is good wine, very good wine. I think I'm going to go buy some more.

Other ratings include a 92 from Robert Parker, 88 from Wine Spectator, and 90 from Stephen Tanzer, all in 2002. Of them all, I would have to say Parker, who noticed the graphite, meat and sweet tannins (isn't the definition of genius "anybody who agrees with me"?), gave the best prediction of long-term quality.



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2006 Waters Crest Cabernet Sauvignon

2009-05-20T09:23:55.654-07:00

Type: Red
Producer: Waters Crest
Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
Country: USA
Region: New York
SubRegion: Long Island
Appellation: North Fork
Price: Suggested retail $39.99
Disclosure: This was received as an unsolicited free sample.

Sorry folks, no picture. I actually drank this on April 24, and the Wooden Guys consider Arbor Day a national holiday. They drank the wine, sure, but refused to write a review. They said it was their day off.

Night One

This has an interesting nose, a really strong French Syrah funk. After a few minutes the funk settles down a little bit, enough to get to the other aromas. It is very rich, starting with finely ground espresso and pure unsweetened chocolate. Blackcurrants and blackberrries show up late, way behind the darker aromas.

This is very young and tight, quite tannic. Lots of acid, sour cherry and blueberry on the attack. Some coffee appears on the mid-palate, followed by chocolate. The finish is long and tart.

Night Two

The nose is a little lighter on Night Two, more black fruit, less funk. Now blackcurrants, blackberries and tomato leaf make up the nose.

The palate is still tight, though not so tight as on Night One. Blackberry is the primary fruit on the attack, plus some tobacco leaf. Blackcurrant and plum skins, followed by a very light touch of vanilla and fresh roasted coffee beans, make up the mid-palate. Tannins and acid are both strong but balance each other out well. This has real promise as it all integrates with time in the cellar.


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2006 Kilikanoon Shiraz The Lackey

2009-05-19T09:35:29.713-07:00

Vintage: 2006
Type: Red
Producer: Kilikanoon
Variety: Shiraz
Designation: The Lackey
Country: Australia
Region: South Australia
Price: $17 (approximate)

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Night One

Deep dark purple in color, not quite perfectly opaque.

The aroma is candied, somewhere between Manischewitz and Grape Nehi. It is saved by some other aromas including marjoram and a little sage.

The palate is far superior to the nose. Fruits are less candied, leading with blackberries and a far smaller number of blueberries. Mouth feel is smooth and full. The marjoram and sage from the nose appear on the mid-palate, followed by barely a hint of peaty black earth. Tannins are leathery but slightly sweet. Unfortunately, at the finish the same sense of artificial candy flavor kicks in. It will be interesting to see if that calms down on Night Two.

Night Two

The candy from Night One is gone. Instead there is blackcurrant, some blackberry, and black pepper. It also has some green aromas, bay leaf and bramble, plus some green tobacco leaf. This smells far better than on Night One.

Tiny beaded blackberries, tart, not sweet, are the pronounced initial flavor. Bay leaf and bright hard purple plums, skin and all, are on the mid-palate, followed by cloves and nutmeg. Tannins and mouth-feel are like new suede. The finish opens with promise, like it will last a long time, then falls off abruptly.

As a "pop-&-pour" this fails because of the pronounced artificial candy flavors. It is an unlikely candidate for long-term cellaring if for no other reason than the price, but with some time, or at least a lot of air, it will reward the buyer with a competent Shiraz, but the sudden collapse at the finish turns satisfaction to disappointment.


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2006 Jean-Pierre Robinot (L'Opera des Vins) Coteaux du Loir Vin de Table Annees Folles Petillant Rose

2009-05-18T08:04:46.155-07:00

Vintage: 2006
Type: Rosé - Sparkling
Producer: Jean-Pierre Robinot (L'Opera des Vins)
Variety: Pineau d'Aunis (70%), Gamay (30%)
Designation: Vin de Table Annees Folles Petillant Rose
Country: France
Region: Loire Valley
SubRegion: Upper Loire
Appellation: Coteaux du Loir
Price: $19.99 from

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Night One

The first thing you will notice about this wine is the closure. It is a crown cap, a pop top like an old glass bottle of Coke. Do you remember those little 10 oz bottles of Coke, and the machines that dispensed them (most of the time)? It does the same job as the Coke top, keeping the fizz in, and does it just fine.

This is a lightly sparkling wine, about half what you would see in a regular sparkler.

The nose is very interesting, starting with loads of pencil lead (very typical of Pineau d'Aunis) and sweet red fruit- strawberries and sweet cherries.

The palate is true to the nose, pencil lead and a little strawberry on the attack, with very sweet (even bruised and over-ripe) strawberries and cherries on the mid-palate, seasoned with a bit of sage. The finish is long and very sweet.

Night Two

The nose still leads with pencil lead and red fruit. The strawberries are the same but the cherries are sweeter, like maraschino. There is also a new aroma, the sweet and slightly vinegar smell of sushi rice.

Once again, the palate is true to the nose down to the sweet rice vinegar. The finish is long.

If truly pressed to put a label on this wine, I would call it "interesting." Not "good," nor "bad," but "interesting." It is something an oenophile should try for the experience, but don't run out and buy a case of it. The pencil lead is the primary aroma and flavor, and that is something I prefer as a secondary additional flavor, adding body and depth, rather than the lead. I also prefer more full-bodied cherries, like something from Traverse City, Michigan, in the summer, rather than maraschino, like something from a bottle in the refrigerator. This, however is purely a description of personal preference, rather than judgment of the wine, for I can not call it flawed, or even anything less than exactly what it purports to be.


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2006 Waters Crest Cabernet Franc Private Reserve

2009-05-17T04:36:41.120-07:00

Vintage: 2006
Type: Red
Producer: Waters Crest
Variety: Cabernet Franc
Designation: Private Reserve
Country: USA
Region: New York
SubRegion: Long Island
Appellation: North Fork
Disclosure This was received as an unsolicited free sample.

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Night One

This needs a lot of time, in the decanter, the cellar, or both. If you "pop-n-pour" you will be terribly disappointed- it starts out tight, thin, and sour. But give it a couple of hours in the glass and it changes completely. A little tobacco leaf forms the background against a mix of red and black fruit. Raspberries and blackberries together make up the base aroma, tart cranberry and rich blackcurrant float over the top.

This is a medium-bodied wine, offering a thinner mouth-feeel and more acid than Cabernet Sauvignon, just as you would expect from a Cabernet Franc. The same black and red fruit from the nose make up the attack. Cocoa makes an appearance on the mid-palate. The finish is long.

On Night One this wine shows promise, but it is very tight, even after some decanter time. It is a strong candidate for Nigt Two improvement.

Night Two

The nose has loads of tobacco and tomato leaf, some blackberry and blackcurrant, plus a bit of cranberry.

There is also leafiness on the palate, along with black fruit and a bit of red fruit. The black fruit is blackberry, plus a little blackcurrant. The red fruit is cranberry, offering a clean tarntess more than a fruity flavor. This is a pretty classic Cab Franc, medium-bodied, black fruit and a little red fruit, clean and less tannic than Cabernet Sauvignon. I suspect it would benefit from more time in the cellar.

Waters Crest has been a real eye-opener for me. I have long been an afficianado of French wines, California wines, wines from Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, and even the Finger Lakes region in New York, but when people mentioned Long Island, my thoughts went to a girl I used to know, the most amazing 'ugly duckling to beautiful swan' story I ever saw, not to the noble grape. Now I have something else to think about. I wonder if I can find her again and perhaps we can share a bottle or two.


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2006 Viña Ventisquero Cabernet Sauvignon Root:1

2009-05-16T09:33:37.629-07:00

Type: Red
Producer: Viña Ventisquero
Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
Designation: Root:1 [The Original Ungrafted]
Country: Chile
Region: Central Valley
SubRegion: Rapel Valley
Appellation: Colchagua Valley

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Night One

The nose opens with blackcurants and blackberries, but has several underlying aromas, and they are not all pleasant. On the up-side, there is some birch root and some cardamom. On the down-side, though, there is a slight smell of old bell peppers sauteed too long in rancid butter.

There is no mistaking this for anything but an under-$20 South American cabernet. If you don't know what I mean by that, find a green pepper, cut the top off and scrape out the insides, bake it in a hot overn for five minutes, let cool. While it's cooling, go to the grocery store and find a California Cab, not Napa, not Sonoma, "CALIFORNIA." Bring it home and pour it into the cooked green pepper. Drink.

Or don't.

Blackberries and blackcurrants (in green pepper) are on the attack. Vanilla and sour plums (in green pepper) are on the mid-palate. Tannins are dusty, the finish cloying.

Can you tell I'm not loving this?

Night Two

The nose opens far more favorably on Night Two. It starts with black fruit- blackcurrants and blackberries, plus some tobacco leaf and, at the end of a deep whiff, some menthol.

Black fruit starts the attack, but with a background of green pepper. On the mid-palate there is some mocha, followed by a bit of vanilla and brown sugar. The finish falls off fairly quickly.


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