Wine Review: 2014 Centine Toscana Bianco by Banfi

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Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 3.54.17 PMWhite wine is mostly consider a spring or summer time wine but we often enjoy it all year long. I prefer the Chardonnay and Viognier which can have some more body to them in the fall and the Sauvignon Blancs and other more crisp wines in the spring and summer. I have not tried a whole lot of Italian white wine, in fact, I haven’t even really paid any attention to what grape varietals they grow other than Pinot Grigio.

Therefore, it was a good experiment to try the 2014 Centine Toscana Biano by Banfi last night. This is in a series of wines released by Banfi that are affordable around the $10 range. The blend of this one is not on their website yet but the blend hasn’t changed in the past 3 years so I would imagine it would be close to the same. The blend they have listed for the 2013-2011 is 40% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Chardonnay, & 30% Pinot Grigio.

Here are the tasting notes from Banfi for the 2013:

Color: Brillant yellow. Bouquet: Fruit-forward with varietal notes of pear, apricot, lime, and herb. Taste: Dry and well balanced with a crisp acidity and lush fruit flavors.

Now what did I think?

Color – Light golden yellow.

Nose – Green apple & pear.

Taste – Apple and pear again but with some citrus maybe grapefruit.

Finish – Crisp and clean with very low acid and fades away quickly.

Overall, my first reaction is that I am shocked that it is not more Chardonnay because the pear and apple notes definitely overpower the other varietals in this wine. The nice part is that if you are a big fan of Chardonnay (not the oaky ones) this could become a spring or summer wine that would give those classic Chardonnay tastes. It is clean and refreshing and is dangerously smooth. It is not super complex and definitely not as complex as they say above but still good.

Rating: B

~Justin

Bonus: In full disclosure, this was a free sample provided by Banfi. All wines are given honest and open reviews regardless. They recommend checking out Nick Stellino’s Halibut & Fresh Mediterranean Salsa (sounds really good) and for a limited time you can get his e-book here.

Wine Review: 2013 Centine Toscana Rosso by Banfi

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Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 9.26.29 AMWith Thanksgiving coming up and many thinking about which wines they would like to serve to their family in friends. A lot of people do not want to spend a lot of money and with the price around $10-$12.99 the 2013 Centine Toscana Rosso by Banfi wines might be one that you would consider.

It is often hard to find a wine that would please everyone’s palate, from the casual wine drinker to the serious wine drinker (like me). This Italian red blend is a blend of 60% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. You wouldn’t find it on the bottle as the blends change every year and changing the label can be costly.

Here are the tasting notes from Banfi:

Color: Intense ruby red. Bouquet: Fragrant, with dark fruit and floral nuances. Tastes: Medium-bodied, with black cherry and plum flavors and hint of spice.

Pretty brief but also pretty straightforward. It is currently sold out at Wine.com but you may be able to find it in a retailer near you. So what did I think?

Color – Dark garnet red.

Nose – Light floral rose with cranberries and pomegranate.

Taste – Cherry/cranberry tart filling with chocolate and just a hint of earthiness.

Finish – Medium-bodied with medium to low acid and a light finish for a red but no sweetness.

Overall, this is a pretty easy drinking wine that would be good for the holidays. This is a little surprising with it leading with Sangiovese and usually cheaper mass produced wines get some residual sugar added in. In the same sense, it is not so complex that a casual wine drinker would under-appreciate it but not so dull that a wine snob couldn’t enjoy it either. It would pair well with any holiday fare. I would buy 4-6 bottles for Thanksgiving open them up and let it pour.

Rating: B+

~Justin

Bonus: In full disclosure, this was a free sample provided by Banfi. All wines are given honest and open reviews regardless. They recommend checking out Nick Stellino’s Sausage Meatball Pairing and for a limited time you can get his e-book here.

Wine Review: 2008 Anciano Tempranillo Reserva

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Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 11.34.38 AMWhen it comes to Spanish wine making they sure love to age wine. For the 2008 Anciano Tempranillo Reserva this wine is already an older vintage at 2008 but it also was barrel aged for 5 years and then spent an additional year in the bottle. Now here it is in 2015 and it has almost spent another year before it was poured into my glass.

The even more odd thing about this is that these wines can be so cheap. This one was picked up in the $12 range and from Ancona’s Wine and Liquors website you can get it for $12.99. Here is the extended information that you can get from them:

“Anciano wines are made in the timeless Spanish tradition. This 100% Tempranillo wine from the Valdepenas DO is aged in the cellars of Bodegas Navalon. The grapes come from 30+ year old vines and the wines were aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels for about 1 year with the remaining time in bottle. The aromas and flavors are very dense with a punch of rich compote fruit, vanilla, cococut, and licorice. The extended ageing has softened the tannins. The finish is plesant and long. This is an ideal match with a range of foods including stews, red meat and mature cheese.”~(Monica McCall)

So what did I think?

Color – Deep dark red.

Nose – Black cherry, cinnamon, and a little red fruit maybe pomegranate.

Taste – Black cherry, cedar, and slight licorice.

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

Overall, this wine was pretty good. It is not a complex Tempranillo by any means and there are some really good complex ones out there. That said for $12.99 this would be my pick up and take to the neighborhood barbecue wine. Different enough that no one else probably has seen it. Palatable for all tastes.

Rating: B

~Justin

Wine Review: 2010 Kynsi Edna Valley Pinot Noir

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Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 5.16.51 PMIt’s funny how when you look on many of the website’s who grow fine Pinot Noir. A lot of times they have many different Pinot Noir from different valleys that keep going up and up in price. I sometimes wonder if that the specific valleys really make better wine or is it just because it is rare. Would blending the wines together and making a cheaper version that is cheaper and more plentiful actually be better?

Today’s selection is the base of the Kynsi winery, the 2010 Kynsi Edna Valley Pinot Noir located in the San Luis Obispo County. We got this from Underground Cellar with many other versions of their wines with reviews coming soon.

Here is the information on this wine on their website and their tasting notes are for the 2011 because I could not find the 2010 ones:

Intriguing aromas of black cherry, allspice, white pepper and honeycomb with a rich, textured palate of raspberry, cinnamon, bay leaf, orange zest and cherry pie filling.

So what did I think?

Color – Dark blood red for a Pinot Noir.

Nose – Cranberries, green peppers, and licorice.

Taste – Spices, cranberries, and sweet vanilla.

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

Overall, this is a very bold and complex Pinot Noir. I really like this one because the flavors are great and it’s body is getting up there next to some lighter Cabernet Sauvignons. It is very fruit forward. It is a Pinot Noir that gets up in your face.

Rating: A-

~Justin

Wine Review: 2012 Philip Carter Winery Cabernet Franc

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Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 4.58.58 PMIn the state of Virginia, all beer and wine can be sold by anyone with a license but they cannot sell liquor and spirits. With the semi-boom of the Virginia wine industry, the ABC store, which has monopoly rights on liquor and spirits, put some Virginia wine’s on it’s shelves.

On my most recent trip, I decided to pick up the 2012 Philip Carter Winery Cabernet Franc. I was worried that the cork would be completely dry because I would imagine most people do not go into the ABC store to get wine. The cork was fine but they still must not go through a lot of inventory as the winery is currently on the 2013 vintage.

Here is their description of the 2013 version because I could not find the information on the 2012 vintage:

’13 Nomini Hall Cabernet Franc bolstered by Petit Verdot and Merlot, this red wine get’s its name from the home of Robert Carter III.  Robert was known as the “first emancipator”, renown for his forward thinking freeing of 509 slaves in 1791.  Bright cherry, blackberry, and raspberry aromas backed up by vanilla, mocha and anise appeal to the olfactory senses.  Those fruits carry over as part of a balanced palate including a hint of black pepper spice.  The wine is soft, smoothed and velvety with well integrated acidity and tannins.  Glass-$10        Bottle-$29        Club-$24.65

So what did I think of the 2012?

Color – Light ruby red.

Nose – Cranberries, black pepper, and clove.

Taste – Cranberries and raspberries along with vanilla and cinnamon.

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

Overall, this is a good light version of a Virginia Cabernet Franc. The body is what is light about it not the flavors. It is also very smooth and rounded. A little more smooth than other Virginia Cabernet Franc. I recommend this one if you want something light but full of flavor.

Rating: B+

~Justin

 

Wine Review: 2009 Ironstone Reserve Malbec

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Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 4.43.28 PMMost of the Malbec wines that have been popular come from South America through Argentina. What most people forget it that it is grown around the world. I personally have tasted Malbec from France, Virginia, Argentina, and California and that is just off the top of my head.

Recently I was able to get my hands on a bottle of the 2009 Ironstone Reserve Malbec from Lodi from Lodi, California. Only 1,000 cases of this Malbec wine was produced and here are the tasting notes from their website:

Heady aromas of juicy, ripe, red cherries, plums, blackberries, and luscious currants mix with light peppercorn and mint waft from the glass to complex flavors. Rich, ripe black fruits overlap with spicy cherry, eucalyptus and hints of sweet oak. Medium bodied with mature tannins, this elegant and refined wine has mouth filling and lingering tannins that are smooth and velvety on the finish.

What did I think?

Color – Deep dark red.

Nose – Smoked meats, spices, maybe thyme, and a little earth.

Taste – Red licorice, blackberries, and vanilla.

Finish – Medium to long with medium acid and highly bold tannins.

Overall, this one had a very muted nose but had a complete opposite taste. The flavors were bold and fruit forward. It is a very good bold Malbec and has a very different feeling than a South American Malbec.

Rating: B+

~Justin

Wine Review: 2013 Noble Vines 667 Pinot Noir

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Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 3.12.41 PMWhen it comes to how a wine will taste the two biggest factors that goes into a start up winery is location or land and vines. You must choose how much of each vine you want to plant and where to buy your land. Noble Vines makes clones of the world famous vines from different regions and plants them in California. I would imagine their hope is to make great wine that taste similar but different due to land.

I have previously reviewed their red blend 1 but that did not go over so well. I did not realize that I had not reviewed any of their single varietals. Today’s selection, almost a year later, is the 2013 Noble Vines 667 Pinot Noir. They state on the back of the bottle that these vines are clones of stocks in Burgundy, France.

Here are the tasting notes from Noble Vines’ website:

{Noble Vines} 667 Pinot Noir exhibits appealing aromas of black cherry, earth and a touch of vanilla. Plush tannins and balanced acidity support core flavors of ripe Bing cherry, bittersweet cocoa powder, and delicate hints of sage. Enjoy on its own or with salmon, Veal Parmesan or grilled lamb.

So what did I think?

Color – Transparent ruby red.

Nose – Candied cherries with licorice and spices.

Taste – Red cherries and red cranberries with nutmeg.

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

Overall, this is your pretty basic Pinot Noir. It is bright and very fruit forward. The best part that it is priced well. This, too, could be an everyday wine. It is 10 times better then that red blend.

Rating: B

~Justin

Wine Review: 2012 Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon

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Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 2.53.38 PMIf you owned a company or a winery, what would you name it? There is everything from using your own name to using your favorite animal and most popular is naming it to what the land or farm used to be called. I thought the story of Layer Cake was a good one and wanted to share with you what is also on the back of the bottle.

My old grandfather made and enjoyed wine for 80 years. He told me the soil in which the vines lived were a layer cake. He said the wine, if properly made, was like a great layer cake, fruit, mocha and chocolate, hints of spice and rich, always rich. ‘Never pass up a layer cake’, he would say. I have always loved those words.

This brings us to the 2012 Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon from California. You can currently buy this one online at Wine.com for a great price of $15.99, but I got it at our local Wegmans. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged in 100% French oak.

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

The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon jumps from the glass with aromas of ripe Bing cherries and blackberries plus cedar and dark, rich layers of maduro tobacco. Deep flavors of spice-infused plums, toasty oak, and espresso fill the mouth, with a rich, creamy layered texture, and powerful structure. Flavors of chocolate and black currant continue through the long, lingering finish.

What did I think?

Color – Deep dark red.

Nose – Blackberries, menthol, cedar, and licorice.

Taste – Is literally the exact same.

Finish – Medium to long with medium acid and the smoothest tannins.

Overall, this is your everyday drinking wine. The flavors are not too complex but they are there. It is a bold fruit forward wine, but the mouth feel is what makes this wine. It super smooth and has a little less body than expected.

Rating: B

~Justin

Wine Review: NV Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Brut Rose

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Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 2.24.47 PMThere is nothing better on a warm spring day then a beer after yard work or even sometimes a sparkling Rose. You do not always need a celebration to enjoy a little bubbles. The celebration is that you set out to do some tasks today and you did it. It is now time to relax.

I recently had this thought with the NV Domaine Carneros by Taittinger Brut Rose. Interestingly enough on the winery’s website, they do put a vintage year of 2011 on it but Wine.com is selling it without the year. Both also have a slight difference in percentage Chardonnay vs. Pinot Noir but the bottles look exactly the same.

Either way, we will go with the Wine.com tasting notes and information in case there were two different versions:

The Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Cuvée de la Pompadour, celebrates the life and times of Madame de Pompadour (the great courtesan and mistress of Louis XV) who is credited with introducing Champagne to the court and was an influential tastemaker in the matters of art, architecture and philosophy–famous for her comment, “Champagne is the only wine a woman can drink and remain beautiful.”

Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé is a wine of great balance, emphasizing fruity and floral characteristics to a greater extent than evident in the Brut or Le Rêve. It is made strictly with artisan attention to quality, with sourcing exclusively from Carneros and the use of time-honored Champenoise methods of production. A blend of 58% Pinot Noir, 42% Chardonnay, the Brut Rosé is meant to be enjoyed at a fairly young age, when the fruity character is still predominant yet there is enough age to make the wine round and balanced.

The wine’s aroma has hints of wild strawberries and roses with notes of peach Although a pale pink in color, Brut Rosé is not sweeter than our other wines. It is a true Brut.

It also received a 91 from Connoisseur’s Guide and 90 from Wine Enthusiast Magazine. So what did I think?

Color – Nice bright strawberry red.

Nose – Raspberries and strawberries with a hint of peach.

Taste – Mostly just strawberries and raspberries.

Finish – Crisp, clean, and not too dry.

Overall, this is a good example of a classic sparkling rose. It is smooth, light, refreshing, but holds a little more body and flavor than a white sparkling wine. Take this one to France and I am sure it would hold up well. Highly recommend!

Rating: A-

~Justin

Wine Review: 2007 Alta Maria Vineyards Bien Nacido Vineyards Pinot Noir

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Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 5.45.32 PMTo round out our many Pinot Noir wines in a row, I picked out one with a little more age on it. When aging wine you have to be very careful with Pinot Noir because unless it has a lot of structure and body, it is a wine that will not age as well as say a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Today’s selection is now 8 years old and is the 2007 Alta Maria Vineyards Bien Nacido Vineyards Pinot Noir from Santa Maria Valley in Santa Barbara County, California. On their website, they only have the 2011, 2012, and 2013 vintages with different version of this wine. Now, 2007 should have been a good vintage year because there is a quote under the 2012 version “This vintage presents some of the best wines since 2007!”

Since we have no tasting notes, we will just get into my tasting notes for this wine.

Color – Cloudy ruby red with some red brick on the edges.

Nose – Dried cherries, roses, and tobacco.

Taste – Earthy with smoked meats and notes of strawberries and boysenberries.

Finish – medium with very high acid. The tannins are medium.

Overall, this one definitely has some age on it. It is very good but the acid makes it not as smooth as it could be. Compared to the ones I have had all week, it is almost day and night between the earth and the fruit. This wine may be going through it’s dumb phase but that acid was what really lowered it’s grade for me.

Rating: B

~Justin