I hate to heap all this praise on Greg Norman, I don't want anybody to think I'm a paid flak for them, but this 04 Greg Norman Santa Barbara California Estates Pinot Noir was every bit as good as the Chardonnay from last night. It's not often that a vineyard makes good chardonnay and pinot noir but the folks at Greg Norman have figured it out. After pouring this, dark scarlet colors portraying a richness of a Cabernet were apparent. I swirled this for a few seconds and then inhaled the blackberry and cherry aromas drifting from the glass. After that I couldn't wait to taste this and was treated to lots of the aforementioned blackberry and cherry as well as plum, a little bit of vanilla and a hint of spice, maybe pepper? Excellent, excellent smooth finish with the perfect balance of tannin. After having my $20 Pinot rule upheld by Mark West, along comes this Greg Norman pinot and the rule is turned upside down once again. This one easily earned 5 Corkscrews based on the excellent taste and the extremely cheap price of $8.25/bottle. I'll buy this again and highly recommend. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!
Saturday, 4/28, Little Rock, AR
After two, ultra competitive soccer games where my 8-year old scored two goals and an assist, and a little league game with 6-year olds running from base-to-base, I was hoping that my wine of choice tonight would break my string of bad wine luck. First, I need to tell on myself. I picked up the 04 Greg Norman Santa Barbara California Estates Chardonnay, along with the Pinot Noir from the same vineyard, thinking this was the Australian wine I had tried many times before and had always liked. I realized before opening that this was from California but hoped that it would be as good as the Australian, and boy was it! Deep, deep, golden color filled my stem after uncorking the bottle and pouring my first, anticipated glass. On the nose I picked up vanilla and lots of tropical fruit flavors. Once I tasted this I was blown away with just the right amount of spices, vanilla and a buttery, smooth finish. I thoroughly enjoyed this glass and another and gave this one 4 Corkscrews for the excellent taste and value based on an $8.99/bottle price. Whatever Greg was doing right in Australia, he's transplanted to California. Pick up a bottle of this and sit back and enjoy an excellent Chardonnay. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!
Okay. Now I'm starting to get worried. Three days in a row that I've ended up drinking, how should I put this, not-so-good wine! I anticipated this 04 Mark West Pinot Noir being at least decent but that was going out on a limb because I only paid $8.25/bottle for this and if you've read any of my reviews you know that I think it is almost impossible to find good Pinot Noir for under $20/bottle. This wine reinforced that rule! With all apologies to Alex Cose, the winemaker, I found nothing to like about this particular wine. After uncorking and pouring, the rich, ruby red color I was hoping to see was nowhere to be seen. On the nose a little oak, spice and blackberry could be picked up but not in the fullness I was looking for. In the mouth I was blown away with the amount of tannin that revealed itself and overpowered any fruit that was in there. The finish was just more of the tannin experienced at the beginning. I gave this one 2 Corkscrews because I can't recommend this wine anymore than the last two wines I've reviewed. In regards to Mark West wines, I've had good luck with it in the past, i.e. 2-3 years ago, but can't seem to find a good bottle as of late. I'd be interested to know if anybody else has noticed any change in their wines? Drop a comment or email and let me know and I'll pass it on. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!
Thursday, 4/26, Little Rock, AR
It was just a short three days ago that I raved about the Luna di Luna Pinot Grigio from Italy and what a great value it was. I picked up the 05 Candoni Organic Pinot Grigio at the same time and paid $5.99/bottle which was $2.00 higher than the di Luna. This was another one of those speculative wines that I'm willing to try because I don't have much invested. It paid off with the di Luna but unfortunately I can't say the same about the organic Candoni. Very light, almost transparent coloring in the glass, almost musty smells apparent in the nose and the taste, or lack thereof, backed up the nose. No fruit readily identifiable nor any body to speak of. A little dry, which I would expect, but no finish, good or bad. Maybe my palate isn't used to organic grapes but this one didn't do much for me. I gave this one 2 Corkscrews and can't recommend it nor will I buy it again. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!
When I saw the 04 Angeline Chardonnay by Martin Ray Winery on the shelf at T's store I readily added it to my mixed case not thinking twice about the $10.26/bottle price tag. I bought a bottle of this about a month and a half ago but unfortunately didn't get to try it as we ended up taking it as a party gift. We wouldn't normally take an untested bottle as a gift, but I figured at this price point it was probably a decent wine. I guess we should have tried a bottle first! Not that this was a terrible wine by any means but there was nothing about it, absolutely nothing, that impressed me other than the appearance of the bottle and color of the wine in the glass which was a deep, golden hue. The nose on this was nothing special and was very weak. I tried three different tastes, all at slightly different temperatures, hoping some flavor would materialize. Unfortunately my patience was not rewarded. We finished this bottle between the two of us over a two-day period, we first opened it on Tuesday, and it wasn't that it was undrinkable, it just wasn't anything I can recommend. I gave this one 2 Corkscrews due to the lack of taste and the higher price point not adding up to any type of value. If I come across a 2005 vintage I would be willing to try a bottle, maybe the 2004 was too old?, as I was really surprised this wasn't a better bottle of wine. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!
2005 Jewel Pinot Noir
2004 Bohemian Highway Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Three Thieves Pinot Noir
2005 King Fish Pinot Grigio
2004 Grant Burge Barossa Vines Chardonnay
2003 Goundrey Offspring Chardonnay
2004 Trinity Oaks Chardonnay
Cooks Brut Champagne
2002 Goundrey Offspring Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 3 Blind Moose Chardonnay
2005 Snoqualmie Sauvignon Blanc
2005 Meridian Sauvignon Blanc
2004 Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay
2005 Sterling Vitners Pinot Grigio
2005 Hess Select Chardonnay
2005 Clois du Bois Sauvignon Blanc
2005 Turning Leaf Chardonnay
2005 Yellow Tail Chardonnay
Just a review today as I've managed to find another gem in my search for an affordable, great tasting wine. I had never tried the 05 Luna di Luna Pinot Grigio from Italy but when I picked it up for $3.99/bottle I figured I couldn't go too wrong. After all the price for the bottle was not a whole lot more than a daily trip to Starbucks and would last longer. When I uncorked this one and poured into my newly acquired stem from Ikea, their Round Rock, Texas location from our trip of several weeks ago, I was greeted with a yellow-golden liquid that just looked like it was going to taste good, as strange as that may sound. I raised the glass to my nose and was treated to very earthy, mineral vapors rising up with the slightest hint of spice. My first couple of drinks revealed a slightly dry, full-bodied pinot grigio that had an amazing finish on the palate. Lots of fruit evident in this one and with the finish I highly recommend it. I easily gave this one 4 Corkscrews for the incredible taste and equally incredible value at $3.99/bottle. It came very close to getting 5 but I wasn't quite ready to put it on my list of top wines. Go find a bottle of this and see if you agree! Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!
Sunday, 4/22, Little Rock, AR
We had a family bash today after our 8-year old's 1st Communion. Lots of good food and wine as well but I picked the 05 Tolosa Chardonnay to review out of the several different bottles that were opened in celebration. A deep, golden color filled the glass after I uncorked and poured this one. On the nose I picked up a little oak, vanilla and a little citrus. In the mouth flavors of tangerine and peaches revealed a full-bodied Chardonnay with a very crisp finish. Tolosa also makes an unoaked Chardonnay which I plan on looking for next time I'm shopping, just for comparison purposes. This is a good, solid Chardonnay but I only gave it 3 Corkscrews due to its price of $13.52/bottle. If this was more in the $9-10 range I would probably raise my rating because I think it would be a better value. At $13.52 it would have to "wow" me a little more than it did. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!
After a full day of little league baseball, soccer, and more soccer, I came home and threw a couple of filet's on the grill. While they were cooking I unscrewed the cap on the 04 Big House Red. I've had wines from the Big House before and had always liked them but had never reviewed them. It has been quite awhile since I last had one so I was looking forward to seeing if they'd changed at all. I'm happy to say they are still putting out some very good, drinkable, affordable wine. When I poured my first glass of this, the nose was full of cherries and blackberry. In the mouth the cherry and blackberry were still evident along with just the right amount of spice. Very full-bodied, light tannin and an excellent finish. This one is excellent by itself or with food as I experienced my first glass by itself, and the second with the filet's I had just brought off the grill, and was equally impressed with both! I gave this one 4 Corkscrews based on the taste and value as I purchased this bottle for $10.99. I still struggle with the idea of the twist-off caps and that, probably more than anything, kept this one from getting my highest rating. Check out their website as well as it's another one of those really interesting vineyard websites. I think the wine industry must have the best sites of any industry. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!
Friday, 4/20, Little Rock, AR
After a day of handling paperwork, I headed home to get ready for my monthly card game. Wanting to take the pre-game edge off I uncorked the 06 Sebeka Sauvignon Blanc that I picked up last week. I wasn't familiar with this vineyard but have had South African wines before and remembered them positively. I poured a glass of this right out of the wine cellar which seemed to be a little colder than usual. I've since adjusted it and both my reds and whites now appear to be at the right temperature. After a few swirls of this the nose was down right medicinal with nothing in it that I could readily identify. Taking a taste I was blown away with the bitterness of this wine! It was so bitter that it tasted like spoiled grapefruit juice, which is not really the taste I am looking for in a bottle of wine. I sat the glass down and had a nice glass of water to try and cleanse the palate but my second taste was no better. I won't even go into the finish because at that point all I wanted was for it to end. Thinking that I may have a bad bottle on my hands, I left it out on our counter and waited for it to warm up a little. I've found in the past that this will help at times. After 30 minutes or so I got a fresh glass, poured a new taste and gave it a second chance. No real nose to speak of but the flavor in the mouth was at least drinkable. I finished the small taste and put the bottle back in the refrigerator so that #1 could try it and give her opinion. Her review was much more positive than mine and she actually liked it. I was going to give this one 1 Corkscrew but based on the positive feedback from #1 I raised it to 2 Corkscrews. I can't in good conscience recommend this although it was relatively inexpensive at $7.99/bottle. I just don't think the taste is there! After reviewing this wine I did a little further research and learned that Gallo is behind this wine and if you check out other sites the reviews were somewhat glowing. Could it be that the massive marketing push has anything to do with that? I don't know but I would be surprised to see this wine around a year from now. At least this varietal. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!