Monday, December 31, 2007


Syrah Peumo Marqués de Casa Concha 2005 ($18)

Dark and plush, with espresso, fig paste and plum sauce notes pushed by mocha and dark licorice on the finish. Rich, smoky finish shows fine-grained tannins and the density for moderate cellaring. Drink now through 2009. 7,200 cases made. From Chile.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cabo Wabo Reposado

Aroma is herbal, with a trace of honey, then blossoms into a bouquet that’s peppery, herbal, waxy, floral. Palate is medium-bodied, oily, resiny, herbal and semisweet, with balanced flavors of green pepper, red pepper, toffee and honey. Finishes gracefully.

2006 Brander Uno Mas 91 points

White Blend, Santa Ynez Valley, $22

Right up there with last year’s bottling, this Grenache Blanc-Sauvignon Blanc blend is unoaked, offering pure flavors of terroir-inspired fruit. High acidity backs up the lemongrass, pineapple, peach and honeysuckle flavors that finish so dry and spicy.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Voss 2006 Sauvignon Blanc 91 points

Sauvignon Blanc (Rutherford); $20

It’s rare to get a white wine from Cabernet-centric Rutherford, but Voss does a good job with this dry, crisp, low-alcohol Sauvignon Blanc. You can taste the coolness of the vintage in the tangy acidity and the gooseberry-accented citrus, fig and white pepper flavors.

Frida Kahlo Anejo

100% Agave Tequila

The nosing passes find scents of brine, peanut butter and lanolin with later sniffs discovering soft notes of vanilla, hemp and dried herbs. The palate entry is grassy and sweet; the midpalate stage is a tad restrained, but oily/buttery and deeply herbal. Finishes mildly sweet, and more timid than I like for an anejo.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Crauford 2005 Zinfandel 92 points

Kilt Lifter Brown Vineyard Zinfandel (Napa Valley); $32

A great Zin from Napa, this shows the classic structure of a claret, but with Zin’s distinctive personality. Briary, brambly wild berries, mocha and masses of white pepper are the aromas and flavors.

Masottina NV Extra Dry 89 points

Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene; $21

This sparkler has a touch of playful sweetness without being sticky or cloying. As far as its aromas are concerned, you’ll detect citrus, floral notes, minerals and a slightly smoky or musky quality on the periphery

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Corzo Anejo Tequila

A delicate, non-woody bouquet with notes of fennel, pickle brine, cucumber, green pepper, and escarole. The palate entry is medium-dry, and peppery; at midpalate tastes of semisweet oak, agave sugars and herbs are added. Ends up more dry than sweet and keenly earthy/vegetal as the oak element vanishes.

03' Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio L Andrea 91 points

Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio 2003 L’Andrea (Colli Perugini Rosso); $45

A blend of Sangiovese, Sagrantino, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, this is a wine that imparts great intensity and a wide range of aromas including red fruit, dried mint leaf, root beer and white truffle. It boasts a beautiful color, firm tannins and smoky flavors in the mouth. Imported by Dedicato de Patris.

Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rose 98' 94 points

Perfect for a NEW YEARS EVE TOAST!

luminous, deep gold/red and a persistent, fine mousse. The rich, intense nose displays notes of dried fruits (black figs, dates) and mild spices (vanilla) in harmony with a softer, almost creamy base. On the palate the texture is deep, dense and tightly woven. The structure of the pinot noir is perfectly rounded. Gracious notes of black cherries and raspberries dominate the finish. The exceptional flavor and taste of this truly great Champagne make it a magnificent accompaniment to fine cuisine, or it can be enjoyed as an apéritif for its own superb merits.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Veuve Clicquot 88' 94 points

Rare Vintage 1988 99.99

The effervescence is both delicate and long lasting. The bouquet is fine and complex, strong in the aromas of dried fruits and flowers. There is an elegant harmony in the nose around toast and brioche notes. In the mouth, the wine is firm and well structured, with masses of substance and refinement. A perfect champagne for a toast New Years Eve!

1996 Duval-Leroy Brut 95 points

Champagne Blend, Champagne, $50

Gold, straw gold colour with light bubbles. Aromas of dried biscuits, chocolate aromas. Soft in the mouth, rich, well-structured. To bring out the best in this wine, try a saddle of young rabbit with new vegetables, a double veal chop or, more unexpectedly, soft cheeses such as Brie or Camembert or perhaps Comté or Reblochon.

Retro Cellars 04' Petite Sirah 92 points

Petite Sirah Muscatine Vineyard Old Vine

Tannin alert! This is old-fashionedly rustic, a wine for the cellar. Give it 6 to 8 years to begin to unlock the blackberries; it could live longer that that. Cellar Selection.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

AsomBroso Anejo 100% Agave Tequila

At first, I am puzzled, if thrilled, by the semisweet, delicate, honey-like opening sniffs; the honey component expands to include vanilla, buttercream and light toffee. Palate entry doesn’t mirror the bouquet as the initial taste goes surprisingly dry to off-dry and oily; by midpalate, sweeter tastes of malt, light toffee, oaky vanillin, palm oil and milk chocolate are featured. Finishes smoothly, with a honeyed sweetness.

Pacific Ridge Vineyards 04' 92 points

Grace Red Wine(Napa Valley)

This is a Merlot-Cabernet blend from St. Helena and Oakville. It’s pretty good, dry and rich in black currants, cherries and oak. The tannins are stronger than on your average gooey cult Cab, with a peppery astringency suggesting modest aging. Try after 2008.

Ghost Block 04' 92 points

Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (Oakville)

This is an enormously ripe, sumptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. It has all the hallmarks of the modern cult style, from focused blackberry, cassis and spicy chocolate flavors and profoundly ripe, sweet tannins to the balancing acidity and oak elaboration that adds that extra touch of richness. This elegant wine is at its best now and for five years.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Frida Kahlo Blanco 100% Agave Tequila

The bouquet emits irresistible scents of tar, tobacco leaf and sea salt. At the palate entry a wave of road tar washes across the tip of the tongue, followed by a smoky taste of ash; the midpalate highlights a sweeter side of agave juice that rides atop the tar/smoke/tobacco. Finishes semisweet and a bit industrial-tasting.

CLINE SYRAH 87 points

Syrah California 2005

Intense, beefy and savory, with exotic spice, dried berry, sage and herbal notes, ending with firm, dry tannins. Drink now. 25,500 cases made.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Upland 2006 Gewürztraminer 90 points

(Yakima Valley); Perfect For Christmas Ham

This is a little gem, perfectly capturing the mix of flower, body powder, citrus and stone that only Gewürztraminer can evoke. Graceful and elegant, it spreads evenly across the palate and slides down the back of the throat. The residual sugar—1.8%—puts it squarely in the Alsatian camp. Best Buy

Sawyer 2004 90 points

Cabernet Sauvignon (Rutherford)

Likeable for its balance and varietal richness, this 100% Cab is rich in blackberry and cherry fruit, while considerable oak adds a savory jacket of vanilla, toast and cedar-spice. Really defines the elegance and polish of its terroir, and should hold and improve for eight years.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Gordon Brothers 06' 90 points

Chardonnay (Columbia Valley)

Lovely scents of apple blossoms lead into a fine, textural wine that proves you can put the focus on the fruit without sacrificing complexity. Drinking this is like biting into a bowl of mixed apples, with a delightful fruit salad effect. It’s lightly dusted with cinnamon accents, which linger in an elegantly toasty finish. The wine keeps its balance and its delicacy throughout.

Chalk Hill 05' 91 points

Unfined & Unfiltered Estate Chardonnay

They pulled out all the stops on this white Burgundy-inspired Chard. It tastes quite leesy, with a Champagne-like yeastiness riding over the tropical fruit and oaky, caramelized flavors. Complex and intriguing, this unfined, unfiltered Chard should drink well for the next few years.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Van Gogh Pomegranate Flavored Vodka

Pretty cherry juice/rose color; superb purity. Smells of genuine pomegranate, slightly berry-like and acutely brambly; aeration maintains the strength of the ripe. Entry displays a crispness that was not there in the previous incarnation and is therefore far more refreshing and true to the fruit; the midpalate offers succulent tastes of pomegranate beads plus a distant citrus note. A substantial improvement over the first incarnation of this product because the sugary veil of sweetness has been removed, allowing the natural acidity of the pomegranate o lead the charge.

Rutherford Grove 2004 Estate Reserve 94 points

Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mountain)

This is a superior wine. This is big, flashy, dramatic, deeply flavored and ageable. Those legendary Howell Mountain tannins are firm, but can’t stop the cassis and mocha flavors from exploding on the palate. Good now, with decanting, and should hold for a good eight years with proper cellaring.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Daniel Gehrs Fireside Port 95 points

2004 Fireside Port (Amador County)

Made with Portuguese varieties, this is a real Port-like wine. It’s supersweet, just fabulously rich in blackberry, chocolate, coffee and vanilla flavors, and all that richness is beautifully balanced with crisp acids and smooth, succulently ripe tannins. The finish goes on. A great price.

Bookwalter 91 points

2005 Merlot (Columbia Valley)

The 2005 continues along the established path of this rising star winery. It’s big, no holds barred, rich and jammy, and just a bit warm at 14.8% alcohol. The fruit is nicely woven together, brambly and dark, and coated with clean barrel flavors of coffee and chocolate. Everything is balanced and forward, but you get the sense that this wine is holding something back for the future.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Partida Elegante Extra

Topaz/medium amber color; superb purity. Smells of mint, light toffee, summer vegetation, and gum; additional air contact unleashes subtle scents of cookie batter/biscuits, tapioca, brown rice, and a deft touch of honey. Entry is medium sweet, near-succulent, medium-weighted; the flavor profile turns on the charm at midpalate as the taste turns more peppery, honeyed, oaky, slightly toasty, and spicy. Finishes elegantly, moderately sweet in an oaky not a sugary manner, and completely integrated.

Chinaco Anejo Tequila

Large amount of sediment and floating debris displayed. Subtle bouquet is lightly peppery and mildly herbal; aeration releases aromas of fennel, green onion, Sherry and oak resin. Palate entry is oily/creamy and moderately sweet; midpalate shows green vegetable, Sherry/honey, and herbal agave flavors. Finishes sweetly.

Black Coyote 2004 87 points

Bates Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon (Stags Leap District)

Ripe to the point of jammy, this Cab was blended with some Merlot, and also shows quite a bit of new oak. It’s a direct, fruity wine, appealing for its blackberry, cherry and plumped raisin flavors.


Vinho Verde Pavão NV 86 points

Plenty of mineral, peach and ripe apple flavors, with citrusy notes on the fat finish. Drink now. 200,000 cases made. From Portugal.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Masottina NV 90 points

Dry (Prosecco di Conegliano)

Here’s an easygoing Italian sparkler with a strong emphasis on floral aromas such as jasmine and honeysuckle as well as fruity tones of peach, apricot and melon. It smells very sweet and tastes so as well. Imported by Pavi Micheli Lawson-Robert Lawson

Don Julio Anejo

This tequila is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of one year. It has a natural golden brown color. It is smooth and rich, clean and dry with a sweet touch of wild honey.
The citrus aroma has hints of lime, grapefruit and mandarin. It is a truly spectacular sipping tequila.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cabana Cachaça Double Distilled Cachaça

The nosing passes find smells of concrete, sand, minerals, slate, granite and grass. The palate entry is pleasantly grassy and keenly vegetal; the midpalate is oily, full-bodied and very, very minerally. Ends up zesty, intensely grassy (as it should be) and long in the throat. A very smooth cachaça.

Novaia 2001 Le Balze Amarone 90 points

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico

This winery is taking quick steps forward and carving out its own identity for quality wines. This nicely aged vineyard designate boasts sweet cherry, marzipan, vanilla and loads of raspberry candy aromas. Instead of berry candy, the mouth is dominated by exotic spice, root beer and crushed pepper. Despite these distinctive characteristics, it remains a harmonious whole. Imported by Montecastelli Selections.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Granrojo Garnacha 2005 88 Points

The 2005 Rojo Garnacha

Blackberry with blue tones, almost opaque. Intense and pleasant aromas of licorice and wild red and black berries fill the nose, with mineral undertones. Well-rounded and balanced on the palate, it is elegant and fresh. Red fruit, minerals and a hint of fresh thyme linger on the finish. It’s surprisingly silky and full-bodied, with a rich varietal expression.

Cazadores Reposado Tequila

Very pale straw color. Medium intense cinammon, lemon peel, bread pudding, and fig aromas. A deliberate opening on the palate that then grows into austere agave fruit, eucalyptus, and spice. Fades with citrus notes, measured heat, and a medium long finish with very light oak accents. Overall a lean style.

Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha 2005 89 points

Grenache from Spain

The unoaked 2005 Las Rocas Garnacha is sourced from low yielding vineyards ranging in age from 70-100 years. It gives up attractive aromas of kirsch, raspberries, pepper, and damp earth. This is followed by a broad, full-flavored wine with a supple texture and no hard edges. Drink this pleasure-packed wine over the next 2-3 years.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Frida Kahlo Reposado

The aroma includes peculiar, but appealing aromas of saddle leather, old vinyl, cream, mustard seed, grass and paint. The palate entry is sweet, almondy and near-oily; the midpalate taste goes all out on the oiliness, but with a pleasantly sharp pepperiness. Finishes on a dry, parchment-like note.


Vinho Verde NV 85 points

Fresh, with crunchy pippin apple flavors. Some spicy notes on the finish. Drink now. 120,000 cases made. From Portugal.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bodegas Lan Rioja Edicion Limitada 2004 96 points

Tempranillo from Rioja, Spain

"This powerful red is rich and thick on the palate, even syrupy, with ripe flavors of blueberry and cassis and plenty of espresso-scented oak. But it's not jammy. Fresh and balanced, this carries its considerable alcohol with grace. Not traditional in style but impressive."

Scorpion Anejo 5 Year Mezcal

Scorpion Anejo 5 Year Mezcal
Double distilled, aged for five years in Oak, Square French Glass bottle with stopper.
Caramel color, with a rested vanilla and wood nose, smooth and sweet initial taste, rising with a peppery-fruity body and medium spicy finish.

All Scorpion Mezcals have a scorpion exo-skeleton in the bottle


Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2006

Exuberantly fragrant, bursting with luscious gooseberry, passion fruit, grass and grapefruit flavors. Concentrated, almost oily, with lingering citrus tanginess and mineral nuances. Drink now. 18,000 cases made. From New Zealand.

91 out of 100

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Two Angels

2006 Sauvignon Blanc

Like a breath of springtime in the California hills. Hints of new green grass, acacia blossom, clover honey and buttercup lead to notes of cassis in this bone-dry, crisply acidic wine, which shows how beautifully Lake County deals with Sauvignon Blanc.

91 out of 100

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

1998 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin La Grande Dame Brut

Champagne Blend, Champagne

A superbly ripe Champagne that has all the open generosity of the 1998 vintage. Peach and apricot aromas are followed by flavors of hazelnuts, honey and spices. Of course, it is still very young, and, like all vintages of La Grande Dame, it will age for many years.

93 out of 100

Milagro Romance

Inner chambers are amazingly suspended inside the unique outer bottle. The 3 inner chambers are filled with 100% Blue Agave Select Barrel Reserve Anejo, each chamber representing a year of its aging to maturity.
The outer chamber is filled with 100% Blue Agave Reposado aged to perfection for 9 months in oak barrels. Whichever tequila you choose to savor, Tequila Romance truly is a work of art

2004 Bogle Old Vine

9.99 At World Market and still OVERPRICED!

Way too sweet, with sugared blackberry tea flavors and not enough acidity, which makes the wine insipid.

79 out of 100

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

PAMA Liqueur

The bouquet is appealing, ripe, fruity and berry-like. The palate entry is pomegranate-like, extremely sour, acidic and tart; the midpalate is less aggressive and riper. Finishes tart, amazingly clean and ripe. A wonderful cocktail ingredient.


Campo de Borja Coto de Hayas 2006

A lush texture carries fresh flavors of sweet black plum, morello cherry, chocolate and spice in this generous red. Has light tannins and fresh acidity. Grenache, Tempranillo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Drink now. 40,000 cases made. From Spain.

88 out of 100

Monday, December 10, 2007


Chianti Rufina Castello di Nipozzano Riserva 2004

Offers bright blackberry and light vanilla aromas. Very aromatic. Full-bodied, with vibrant fruit, fine tannins and a clean, crisp, fruity finish. Best after 2008. 131,000 cases made. From Italy.

92 out of 100

Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Reposado

Initial aroma of wax paper and black pepper; aeration stimulates scents of asparagus, broccoli, new leather and herbal butter. The palate entry is spicy and semisweet; the midpalate adds subtle tastes of butter, steamed green vegetables, white rice and light toffee. Finishes satiny smooth and appealingly spicy. A tour de force in balance and harmony.