Wine Reviews

Browse collection of wine reviews.


Sidebar Old Vine Zinfandel, Russian River Valley

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

David Ramey's side project, appropriately titled Sidebar, offers some of the better mid-range values to be found in California wines. Their Old Vine Zinandel is a joy, coming from a vineyard originally planted in the late 1800s (with some replanting performed in 1950 by Americo Rafanelli). It's a true Zinfandel field blend, with fourteen other grape varieties making up a small percentage of the final wine. The wine dances between red and black fruits on the tongue, all the while offering an array of peppers and spices that will appeal to both the novice and the discerning wine geek.

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Gioacchino Garofoli 'Podium' Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore, Marche, Italy

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Looking for something a bit out of the ordinary? Try Italy's Verdicchio, a white that feels familiar in its citrus fruitiness, but also seems exotic with its stern acidity and mineral notes. Gioacchino Garofoli's 'Podium' is a classic: the vineyard sits on a flat-topped hill, reminiscent of a speaker’s stand (hence the moniker). This is a white that is difficult to approach when young, but opens up into dried grapefruit, marzipan, and honey notes with a bit of age.

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Bodegas Ollauri Conde de los Andes, Rioja, Spain

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

From Rioja Alta, close to the historic towns of Haro and Briones, comes Conde de los Andes, a long-standing brand name in the region, and one worth revisiting if you love Tempranillo. The vine plots from which this Tempranillo is grown are small, with vines averaging forty or more years of age. The older vine fruit, combined with maturation in French oak, give this red an earthy, smoky, spicy edge to balance its focused and dramatic red fruit flavors.

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Trefethen "The Cowgirl and the Pilot" Merlot, Napa Valley

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

If you're feeling a splurge purchase coming on, Napa Valley's historic producer Trefethen has a new release worth considering. Named after Janet and John Trefethen, who once had jobs as a rodeo queen and Navy pilot, respectively, this red celebrates the 25th anniversary of their first Merlot bottling. Concentrated, deep, and complex, black plum and cassis flavors mix with black olive and spice notes to make this a compelling sipper that should broaden and soften luxuriously with some bottle aging.

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Warre's Warrior Finest Reserve Port, Portugal

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

There may be no better wine pairing for Winter holiday desserts than Port. When it comes to tradition, there are few wine brands that can match a good Port house, and among Port houses, there are few that can match the longevity of Warre's. The Warrior brand is possibly the oldest mark of Port in the world, having been shipped continuously since the mid 1700s. Clearly their know-how has been applied in the Ruby Port game with their Warrior Finest Reserve Port; for a reasonable price, you get an abundant nose of dried red fruits, spices, and plums, with an ample body that's supported by approachable tannins and fresh acidity. For a Winter treat, try it on a cold night with chocolate desserts, buts, or strong cheeses.

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MacPhail The Flyer Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

MacPhail is a project between members of the fifth generation of the Hess winemaking family, and consulting winemaker Matt Courtney. They focus primarily on showcasing he potential of smaller vineyard Pinot Noir from Sonoma, and they hit the mark with their "The Flyer" release. The fruit for this red comes from the Sangiacomo Lakeville Vineyards, planted in the 1990s. The longer fruit hangtime provided by the location of the vines gives this Pinot a panoply of buoyant red fruit aromas and flavors that belie the body and power of the wine in your mouth. It's elegant stuff, and, more importantly, delicious.

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Tenuta Sant'Antonio Selezione Antonio Castagnedi, Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG, Italy

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

If you're in the market for a hearty red to sip with your Winter holiday roasts, they don't come much heartier than Tenuta Sant'Antonio's Selezione Antonio Castagnedi Amarone. Crafted from raisined Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Croatina, and Oseleta grapes in Verona's Mezzane di Sotto area, this is a powerful, savory, and spicy wine. Ripe red fruit and licorice flavors mingle with notes dark chocolate and game, combining into a wine that can stand up to just about any meat course that you could dream up for your dinner plate.

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Sokol Blosser 'Bluebird Cuvee' Sparkling, USA

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Not all sparkling wines need be as serious as Champagne. Take the peachy, floral, and easy-going Sokol Blosser Bluebird Cuvee, a proprietary white blend that is crafted in the Brut sparkling style. Named for the winery's support of the Prescott Western Bluebird Recovery Project, this is an affable, well-crafted bubbly that delivers a lot of bang for the buck, and will likely make you a lot of friends if poured with aperitifs at your next holiday party.

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Fossil Point Pinot Noir, Edna Valley

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Consider this one a bargain. Fossil Point (named after the headlands on the nearby coastline) has crafted a well-balanced red from Pinot grown in San Luis Obispo County's Edna Valley, vinified in small lots and then aged in neutral and once-used French oak barrels. Strawberry fruit flavors and sage aromas abound here, all packaged up into a mouthfeel that is harmonious, balancing weight with structure and vivacity.

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P. J. Valckenberg Riesling, Rheinhessen, Germany

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

With a slightly off-dry but still crisp and vibrant palate, P. J. Valckenberg's Riesling is a good example of the balanced Rheinhessen style. Fresh Green apple, white peach, and quince flavors mix with jasmine and mineral notes, making this a white that's hard to put down.

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