Wine Review: 2013 Cono Sur Reserva Especial Pinot Noir

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Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 5.27.06 PMWhenever people ask ‘why blog about the wine you drink?’ I usually answer with a few different answers. First, writing down your tasting notes about wine really challenges you to think and enjoy what you have in the bottle instead of blindly going through bottle after bottle of different wines not challenging your palate. The second reason is when you have a searchable electronic copy of a lot of what you drink. How many times have you said, ‘have we had this one before?’

Today’s continuation of the Pinot Noir overload is theĀ 2013 Cono Sur Reserva Especial Pinot Noir from Chile. You have to be very specific because Cono Sur has a lot of different wines and even has many different Pinot Noir.

Here is the information from Cono Sur’s website:

This is a very expressive, friendly and voluptuous Pinot Noir from the Casablanca Valley, which has been distinguished for its outstanding aromatic qualities. Crisp notes of plum, morello cherry and raspberry combine harmoniously in the nose with subtle floral hints and touches of coffee and chocolate. The mouth is expressive, balanced and pleasantly lingering.

What did I think?

Color – Transparent garnet.

Nose – Cranberries, black pepper, and tobacco.

Taste – Black pepper, cranberries, and tobacco.

Finish – Medium to long with high acid and smooth bold tannins.

Overall, as you can see this wine tastes exactly as it smells. Of course, with notes like black pepper, cranberries, and tobacco this is not a bad thing. The tannins on this one is much higher than the other Pinot Noirs and I like it a lot. For a Pinot Noir, this is full-bodied and goes down easy. I highly recommend this one.

Rating: A-

~Justin

Wine Review: 2013 Schug Carneros Pinot Noir

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Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 5.10.32 PMTo say that I was on a Pinot Noir kick is a bit of an understatement. Yesterday’s wine selection was Pinot Noir, this wine selection will be Pinot Noir, and so will the next two after this. I like to see how people manipulate this very light red wine. I have tried it from New Zealand, South America, and different parts of California.

Today’s selection comes from California, it is theĀ 2013 Schug Carneros Pinot Noir. These Pinot Noirs are pretty young and meant to drink young, but soon we will have an older review coming to compare. The list price on this wine is $25.00 or $20.00 if you are a wine club member.

Here are the tasting notes from the Schug winery website:

This 100% Pinot Noir cuvee is from grapes grown within the cool microclimate of the Sonoma Coast AVA, on select vineyards in the western portion of Carneros and the Petaluma Gap. The cool windy climate and low yield of these vineyards allow Pinot Noir grapes to mature slowly while retaining their natural acidity, with bright flavors of red cherries, raspberries and spice. We showcase the elegant side of Pinot Noir by aging in large neutral oak casks and older French oak barrels to keep new oak flavors to a minimum. Lively acidity on the finish makes it an ideal accompaniment to grilled fish and fowl or barbecued meats.

So what did I think?

Color – Transparent ruby red.

Nose – Red cherries, raspberries, and green olives.

Taste – Bursting red cherries.

Finish – Medium with medium to high acid and smooth but bold tannins for a Pinot.

Overall, this is a bright fruit forward Pinot Noir that has more body than you would think looking at the color. I like the body structure but it still have pretty basic flavors. The nose I thought was excellent and complex.

Rating: B+

~Justin

Wine Review: 2013 Brancott Estate Pinot Noir

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Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 4.52.57 PMNew Zealand seems to continue to get more well-known for their wines. First it was Sauvignon Blanc, and now it is Pinot Noir. Soon it will be other grape varietals that we do not even expect from this small island producer. The best part about their wines is that they are super affordable and most are twist top so no need to worry about tainted cork.

Today’s selection is the 2013 Brancott Estate Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand. This producer seems to have a very nice interactive website that will tell you everything about the wine and the soil. The link for the tasting notes seems to be missing so once again we will have to go with the back of the bottle.

Sourced from a range of Marlborough vineyards, this Pinot Noir displays rich velvety tannins and an abundance of ripe cherry, plum, and blackberry fruits accentuated with savory spice highlights. Indulge your curiosity.

So what did I think?

Color – Light ruby red.

Nose – Cherries and pomegranate.

Taste – Red cherries.

Finish – Medium to low with medium to high acid and medium to low tannins.

Overall, this is a pretty good, easy drinking Pinot Noir that is pretty typical in the budget New Zealand wines. The Pinot Noir is pretty light but it still has some great fruit forward flavors. It is not that complex but the cherry flavors are good.

Rating: B+

~Justin

Wine Review: 2013 Artesana Tannat-Merlot-Zinfandel

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Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 4.32.07 PMThere is a big advantage of having a relationship with a local wine shop that you can never truly get from buying wine online. Many times you will be on a wine website and a little pop up chat box will show up asking if you need help with your purchase but it is not the same as a face-to-face interaction with someone who remembers what you buy and like. Our local wine shop is Vinosity in Culpeper, Virginia.

The owner of that wine shop remembers that we really liked her Tannat from Uruguay that I have previously reviewed.Ā She recommended the 2013 Artesana Tannat-Merlot-Zinfandel, which is also from Uruguay and is a blend of those three grapes. On their website, they do not have a tasting sheet on this one so we will have to go with the back of the bottle.

Artesana’s iconic wines are made with 100% estate-grown grapes and handcrafted by our two award-winning women winemakers. This 3-part blend was made in small lots fermented separately, aged for 18 months in French and American oak and custom-blended. Rich and full-bodied delivering opulent black and red fruit, cedar and spice and a generous, round finish. 450 cases produced.

So what did I think?

Color – Dark red with purple hues.

Nose – Red and dark fruit; possible pomegranate and plum.

Taste – Blackberries, with some minerality and maybe graphite.

Finish – Medium to long with medium to high acid and medium tannins.

Overall, I expected a little more from this wine as this blend sounds very promising. It was weird that when you first tasted it, it was good, but then the flavor quickly goes away. I expected the more complex flavors that were on the back of the bottle. Still a good wine just could have been so much more.

Rating: B

~Justin

Wine Review: 2010 Henri De Villamont Bourgogne Chardonnay

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Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 2.06.13 PMIn my obsession with a “Year In Burgundy,” I also wanted to try one of their famous Chardonnay bottles of wine. I was shocked just thinking about the fact that when thinking about my relationship with Chardonnay has gone throughout the years and how I had not tried very many Chardonnay bottles from Burgundy. First, it was California oak and I stopped drinking Chardonnay and then it was Virginia limited or no oak that got me back into it.

I wanted to know how France would fair now that I have a new appreciation for Chardonnay. Today’s selection is theĀ 2010 Henri De Villamont Bourgogne Chardonnay from Burgundy, France. The only tasting notes that I could find was from a website called Vino. Here are their tasting notes:

This typical regional Burgundy wine is produced with 100% Chardonnay in the birthplace of the varietal. It has been aged in small casks for six months before bottling. The aromas are of fresh exotic fruit (pineapple, mango, grapefruit). It is medium-bodied, with a fresh, crisp apple-like character. It will compliment fish, white meat, and lighter pasta dishes.

So what did I think?

Color – Bright golden yellow.

Nose – Apple, vanilla, and pear.

Taste – Apple, pear and limestone.

Finish – Crisp with a hint of butter and very high acid.

Overall, this wine has those great apple and pear flavors you expect from a Chardonnay along with some great body with just a hint of butter. The acid is the only thing that keeps this good wine from being a great wine, it is a little to high. I think it takes away some of the possible complexity of flavors by cutting through so sharply.

Rating: B+

~Justin

Wine Review: 2009 William Hill Estate Winery Bench Blend Cabernet Sauvignon

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Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 11.53.02 AMPersonally, I have never been to California but my palate has traveled up and down the coast. I also have never been to Bordeaux but my palate has experienced the left and the right bank. For those of you who have traveled to these two regions, how do you decide where to go and what to do? How many days do you really need to have a good experience in Napa Valley.

Today’s selection comes from Napa Valley and is theĀ 2009 William Hill Estate Winery Bench Blend Cabernet Sauvignon. I got this one from Underground Cellar, which has had some site problems lately. The nice part about the site is that this bottle retails above $40 but I did not pay that. It seems like the winery was ready to unload some older vintage bottles as currently the 2011 is available on their website.

The tasting notes I found on Wine.com:

Winemaker’s Notes

Among our best wines, the bottlings in our Bench Blend Collection illustrate the quintessential characteristics of Napa Valley: lush, expressive fruit. These wines are soft, elegant and beautifully integrated, melding grapes from hand selected vineyard blocks that deliver intense flavor characteristics. They are a testament to the extraordinary vineyards of southern Napa.

Critical Acclaim

  • V92
    Vinous / Antonio Galloni“William Hillā€™s 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Bench Blend bursts from the glass with layers of mocha, plums, black cherries, violet and spices. This is another of the richer, more voluptuous wines in the lineup. There is plenty of structure and acidity to lend vibrancy to the fruit. A long, polished finish makes it hard to resist a second taste.”

So what did I think?

Color – Deep dark red with bright red edges.

Nose – Clove, barley (?) and red fruit.

Taste – Red currant, black pepper, and a hint of plum.

Finish – Long with high acid and bold tannins.

Overall, this is a very bold fruit-balanced Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose brings more spices and earth while the taste brings the fruit. It is both smooth and bold and pretty complex. I highly recommend this for anyone who is looking for a good Cabernet Sauvignon that is well-balanced.

Rating: A-

~Justin

Wine Review: 2012 Mutt Lynch ‘mbf’ Charbono

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Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 5.21.32 PMThe history of a grapevine can be an interesting one. I enjoy just going to Wikipedia after tasting a grape that I have never heard of and just reading about it’s history. To imagine a world with hundreds of different wine grape vine varieties and to think that at some point in history humans made the effort to keep these vines in their vineyards and make wines with them.

This brings us to the 2012 Mutt Lynch ‘mbf’ Charbono from California. The Charbono grape is also the same asĀ Douce Noir and Bonarda. Even though this is a french varietal, it is hardly grown in France anymore. The grape has been hugely popular in South America and there is still a little bit planted in California.

The description on the back of the bottle gives us a little more then their website where you can purchase a bottle of this for $28. They also have an offer online where you can buy in the 2013 Charbono futures at $16.80 a bottle. Not a bad deal. Here is the description from the back of the bottle:

The foundation of my limited production mbf wines is always a strong relationship. Charbono is a very rare grape – there simply is very little planted in California. Lucky for Mutt Lynch it thrives near our home in Calistoga, Napa Valley. Our grapes are from Jeanne Frediani’s vineyard from vines dating back to 1938. I’ve aged this wine in 100% French oak to compliment the deep, dark fruit character of this rare grape. 110 cases produced.

So what did I think? Should you buy a future on their 2013!

Color – Red with lots of purple notes.

Nose – Blackberries and black pepper.

Taste – Blue and blackberries with baking spices like nutmeg.

Finish – Medium to long with medium acid and rounded tannins.

Overall, this is an interesting wine on the palate. It offers everything that a red Zinfandel has but it is just a bit smoother and has more complex flavors. It has a wonderful smooth and silky mouth feel.

Rating: A-

~Justin

Wine Review: 2013 Rocche Costamagna OSE Langhe Rosato

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Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 11.56.20 AMFrance is classically known for dry Rose wine but what most people do not know is that Italy also makes many dry Rose wine. With Spring here now and as the weather gets warmer I am sure you will see a wide new variety of pink colored wine in all the stores. Remember that anyone who grows red grapes can make a dry Rose. Last summer, dry Roses became increasingly popular.

Today’s selection from Italy is theĀ 2013 Rocche Costamagna OSE Langhe Rosato with is 85% Nebbiolo and 15% Barbera. My wife gave it to me for Christmas from our local Culpeper Wine shop Vinosity. Both of these grapes can make great red wine but how would they fair at Rose?

Here are the tasting notes from the winery’s website:

Cherry-pink. A rich fruity bouquet with notes of, cherry and raspberry. Intense and persistent taste with fresh notes of red fruit.

So what did I think?

Color – Bright salmon pink.

Nose – Muted strawberries.

Taste – Raspberry, grapefruit, and watermelon.

Finish – Crisp but lingers a little bit. Medium to high acid.

Overall, it is not very complex and has pretty high acid for how little fruit it has. The description they gave, other than the color, I hardly got any of that. It had a slightly off smell as well that I could not put my finger on it. It was very faint. Still drinkable.

Rating: B-

~Justin

Wine Review: 2002 Cooper Vineyards Merlot

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Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 11.25.09 AMI mentioned before that Cooper Vineyards release some of their cellared wine and so far I have reviewed the 2003 Cabernet Franc and the 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon.Ā I was really surprised about how well the Cabernet Sauvignon held up versus the Cabernet Franc, especially when Cabernet Franc grows with so much more success in Virginia then it’s offspring, Sauvignon.

Next on the list is the 2002 Cooper Vineyards Merlot and all the information I could find on this wine is that a ‘Reserve’ version won a silver in the 2005 Atlantic Seaboard Vinifera Wine Competition. I am not sure if this is the same wine or not.

Here is my take on this vintage wine:

Color – Deep dark red with brick hue around the edges.

Nose – Sun-dried cherries with leather, and almonds.

Taste – Black cherry, black pepper, smoked wood, with a light licorice to it.

Finish – Medium, medium to high acid and softer medium tannins.

Overall, this wine definitely held up over the years much better than the Cabernet Franc, which was one year younger. The fruit has faded some and the earthy tones have come forward, which is pretty normal for a wine this old. This is a pretty decent complex vintage Virginia wine.

Rating: B+

~Justin

Wine Review: 2012 Castoro Cellars Zinfusion Reserve

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Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 6.28.05 PMTwo days in a row of Zinfandel really give you perspective. It was especially clear of the difference when talking about filtering wine yesterday and that this wine was much more filtered than the one yesterday. I won’t go on and on again on this but it really does make a big difference in mouth feel.

Today’s selection is the 2012 Castoro Cellars Zinfusion Reserve, which is estate grown in Paso Robles, California. It is supposedly a blend of some of the best grapes in a few vineyards in the area. This one is from Underground Cellars, as was yesterday’s though I forgot to mention it.

The wine is still being sold on Castoro Cellars’Ā website for $24 and here is the transcription from their spec sheet:

Zinfusion has become quite a coveted wine among all Zin lovers! This Paso Robles Zinfandel is a marriage of Estate vineyards chosen because of their intense fruit character due to their location Ā and excellent viticulture practices showcased by the growers. Blind Faith, Whale Rock, and Lojocano vineyards were hand picked for this blend. This big wine explodes with raspberry jam, spice, fresh plums, and wild strawberries. Open one up and enjoy with a rich pasta or meat entree. Cheers!

So what did I think?

Color – Deep dark red.

Nose – Plum and black pepper.

Taste – Whoa lot’s of black pepper. Spicy. Dark fruit.

Finish – Long with high acid and bold tannins.

Overall, this wine is not terrible. It is pretty simple. The black pepper really dominates this wine. I was pretty shocked by it. This is the most black pepper that I got from a wine that wasn’t a Cabernet Franc or Syrah. It is still a decent Zinfandel but from the description I expected more.

Rating: B-

~Justin

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