Friday, August 24, Little Rock, AR
After another hot week in The Rock, I was surprisingly looking forward to tasting the 2005 Echelon Vineyards Pinot Noir. All of a sudden during the last two weeks a switch has gone off that has me craving reds and not uncorking the whites as much. Must be the fact that we've enjoyed whites almost exclusively all summer with a few, notable exceptions. My thirst for red was richly rewarded with this pinot noir. Upon pouring in the glass, I noted a rich, ruby-garnet color which exhibited a nose of clove, cherry and a hint of strawberry. On the palate more of the cherry and clove, a hint of oak, and a long, full finish. Nothing but good in this wine! Unbelievably this was retailed at $12.99/bottle, and that wasn't even a sale price. It is a steal at anywhere near that price point and I suggest grabbing a case or two before Echelon, and it's owner, Diaego, find out how good of a wine they've produced. Easily gave it 5 Corkscrews without a second thought. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


I noticed that with the Summer flying by I have been complacent in posting my monthly recaps. I always enjoy doing the recap as it reminds me of the good, and the bad, wine I drank in any given month. Looking at May I saw that we drank a lot of good Pinot Noirs and a few mediocre-to-bad, Chardonnays. Without further ado, here is the recap for May:



2002 Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 La Crema Pinot Noir
2005 Hayman & Hill Pinot Noir
2005 Saurus Patagonia Pinot Noir

2005 Casamatta Toscana White
2005 Pepperwood Grove Pinot Grigio
2003 Georges DuBoeuf G.D. White
2006 Don Raphael Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc
2004 King Estate Pinot Gris

2002 Screw Kappa Napa Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Le Grand Pinot Noir

2004 Chateau Souverain Chardonnay
2005 Jewel Viognier
2006 Pasqua Pinot Grigio

2002 Novella Synergy
2004 Glass Mountain Chardonnay
2005 Pepperwood Grove Chardonnay
2006 Black Opal Chardonnay


2004 Goiya Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc Blend (terrible)


Tuesday, August 21, Little Rock, AR
I found today's reviewed wine on the sale rack, (I've really got to get over to my wine connection), of my local, overpriced retail store. O'Looney's you know who you are! If they would offer more wine in the $8-10 range I would go by there at least every other week. As it is, I only go there under dire circumstances, i.e. I forget to go somewhere affordable. Very knowledgeable staff, for the most part, but they are consistently $2-3/bottle higher than a store 5 miles away. But on with the review.
A Pinot Noir from Chile? That was my thought but I was feeling adventurous, and couldn't stand to pay any more than the $11.49/bottle I ended up paying for this. I unscrewed the cap, yes another screw top, and poured a glass. On the nose I picked up a little bit of strawberry but not a whole lot else. On the palate I noted cherry and strawberry that came across as bitter at first. After it had been opened an hour or so, the flavors seemed to balance out a little better and the bitterness went away. A little oak noted as well with a so-so finish. I gave this one 3 Corkscrews because it wasn't terrible for a $12 Pinot Noir but it is also not one I would actively seek. Maybe you can find it cheaper where you live and it might actually be a bargain at $8/bottle. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Saturday, August 18, Little Rock, AR
Today's reviewed wine is from a vineyard that I'm anxious to visit in the near future. If you've read my reviews for any length of time you'll know that I gave Domaine Alfred's Pinot Gris 5 Corkscrews and liked it so much that I ordered a case at the beginning of the summer. Needless to say, it didn't last all summer but we enjoyed it while it was here. I picked up the 04 DA Red from their vineyard on my last trip to the store. I paid around $11.99/bottle and was anxious to see how it stacked up to the Pinot Gris as I've noticed that just because a vineyard does a good job with whites doesn't mean they'll be equally good with reds. Let me tell you, Domaine Alfred does well with both. After pouring this I picked up aromas of all kinds of berries. Strawberry, cherry, plum and just a little blackberry. On the tongue lots of fruit of the aforementioned berry and a nice side of oak. Excellent finish made this a very enjoyable bottle. Came close to awarding the 5 Corkscrew rating on this as well but couldn't say that it was one of my all-time favorites. It is good though. Very, very good. Give it a try as soon as you get a chance! Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink DA Red Wine!


Wednesday, August 8, Little Rock, AR
Today's reviewed wine is one that #1 picked up a couple of nights ago when we were tapped out. She paid about $12.00/bottle from our local store that continues to charge too much for their wines. We only go there in a pinch. I'll identify them at a later date as I plan on posting retail store reviews in the coming weeks/months. But on to this review. When I poured this one and took in a big nose full of aroma, I was blown away with the strong, lemon flavor emanating from the glass. I swirled and swirled and finally took a nice mouth full and was greeted by more lemons. Very light in the mouth and a little too much acidity for my liking on the finish. I actually thought I might be drinking a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio so I went back and double checked the bottle but, alas, I was drinking chardonnay. Much too light for my tastes and dominated by lemon flavors that just don't add up in my book to a good chardonnay. I noted that this is organically grown, so maybe that has some affect. I don't know. Regardless of how it's grown, I only gave it 2 Corkscrews as I can't recommend it on taste or value at the price we paid. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Thursday, July 12, Geneva, IL
In a continued effort to do justice to some of the great wine we had on vacation, I offer another review of a wine we had at our next neighborhood function. Myra and Mark, two more great friends from the old hood, were our hosts this evening and provided today's reviewed wine. A 2005 Qupe Chardonnay was the wine we started with and enjoyed throughout the evening. One bottle out of 4,800 cases produced made this one somewhat limited in availability. Wines like this can usually be found in the Chicagoland area but I will probably be hard-pressed to find it here in Arkansas. Mark gave me the honor of opening this one and I promptly poured a glass. On the nose I picked up cream, citrus and peaches. Once the first taste mingled on the tongue for awhile, I noted flavors of vanilla cream, toasted walnut and smokey oak. A great balance of flavors and acidity made for a delightful finish. We thoroughly enjoyed this bottle and I ended up giving it 4 Corkscrews. I based this rating on taste and value at around $20/bottle. It didn't rise to the "special" occasion level that yesterday's reviewed wines did, but it wasn't as expensive either. Good, very good, solid Chardonnay that I recommend. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Good Wine With Good Friends!


Wednesday, July 10, Geneva, IL
A little catching up on my reviews today from our trip to the Chicago area in mid-July. I didn't think it possible but during our first night back in our former neighborhood I actually had the pleasure of drinking wine that were easily given 5 Corkscrew ratings. We were invited to a get-together at Susan and George's house, a couple who are dear friends, and they provided the wine. Both were some of the best Chardonnay I've had in quite some time and I just had to write a few lines about each.
2003 Salus Chardonnay from Staglin Family Vineyards
This first selection had a small production of 340 cases. It is 100% barrel fermented with 50% in new French oak, and the other 50% in one-year old French oak. A beautiful golden color in the glass with wonderful aroma of mangoes and butterscotch. On the palate I noted the oak, as expected, but in just the right amount. It was accompanied with more flavor of apple, peaches and a hint of nutmeg. A long finish brought out the creamy vanilla that I like in a great chardonnay. A little malo-lactic fermentation was used with this wine and I really think it added to the complexity of aroma and flavor. A little research on my part revealed a retail price of $50-55/bottle so I can't say that this falls into the category of everyday, affordability. I will say that it easily earned a 5 Corkscrew rating and I would buy it for that "special" occasion that calls for a splurge every once in awhile.
2004 Von Strasser Rainin Vineyards Chardonnay
The second excellent wine we had was the Von Strasser. On the nose I was treated to aromas of banana, lots of tropical fruit and a goodly portion of oak. In the mouth my taste buds were dazzled with flavors of butterscotch, hazelnut, vanilla and more of the aforementioned oak. Great, full texture led to a creamy, buttery finish. Another one that was easy to stamp the 5 Corkscrew rating on. This one retails for around $45/bottle and also can't be tagged with an "affordable" label. I will say that I would buy this for that "special" occasion or as a gift for someone you really, really like. Thanks to Susan and George for hosting and treating us to these two, great wines. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Both of These Wines!


Thurs.-Fri., August 2-3, Little Rock, AR
The stifling heat continues with no let up in sight. In fact, it's supposed to be in the high 90's all next week. Oh well. Could be raining. A line from an old, old movie. Today's wine is one I tried over a two day period as I couldn't get a good read on it the first day. I feel like the second day's tasting was much more indicative of how this wine is supposed to taste. Dark golden in color, the 2005 Castle Rock Chardonnay from the California Central Coast exhibited lots of vanilla and melon on the nose. On the palate I picked up flavors of citrus, some of the vanilla evidenced in the nose, and what I consider to be heavy oak. Not that that's a bad thing. In fact, I quite liked it in this wine as it wasn't overbearing and the finish was very smooth. I paid $10.99/bottle for this one, on sale, and based on that price I could only give it 3 Corkscrews. A wine such as this one could probably be bought in most areas for $6-7/bottle and at that price it would be a much better value. It's card night and I'm hopeful a little luck will accompany me to the table. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!


Wednesday, August 1, Little Rock, AR
It's 95 going on 10,000 degrees today in Little Rock and the 100% humidity isn't helping anything. August can be a tough month here to say the least. After cutting the grass this early evening, and sweating off about 5 pounds that I didn't really need to lose, I showered up and #1 and I met her aunt and uncle at the new Bonefish Grill that just opened up. I'd seen this chain in Virginia but had never tried it. My loss! Everything we had was excellent plus. We started with the Bang Bang Shrimp and Maryland Crab Cakes starters, followed with four different fish entrees. #1 had the parmesan encrusted trout, I had the Alaskan halibut and her aunt and uncle had the salmon and grouper. I highly recommend any of those items as well as the restaurant in general. Great service, great ambiance, and we'll definitely be making a return visit real soon. Now, you ask. Surely there must have been wine consumed? Yes, there was indeed. And good wine at that! So good that we ended up buying a second bottle after the first one was gone. Our choice was the 2006 Bridgeview Blue Moon Pinot Noir from Oregon's Bridgeview Vineyards. Perfectly balanced in every way that exhibited a dark, ruby color in the glass giving way to a wonderful nose of luscious cherry and raspberries. In the mouth a wonderful mix of fruit and spices with a finish that couldn't have been better planned by the winemaker. So good I wanted each sip to last and last. Not sure what this retails for in the store but it is listed on the vineyard website at $17.95/bottle. Worth every penny! Get some wherever you can! One of the easiest 5 Corkscrew ratings I've given this year. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Bridgeview Pinot Noir!