2011 Bruno Giacosa Barbera Casa Vinicola wine review by Billy

Nose: Young plum, spice and clove
Palate: strong warm tannins,  playful acids. Good construction that promotes the tannic structure
Finish: red stonefruit notes and coffee. Hints of cherry.
Overall: Let it breathe. Air softens the strong tannins and lets the structure support the wine.

Erasmo 2009 Red, Maule Valley


European influence has always been a presence in the American wine trade. Up north the effect is more historic, but there are a few winemakers like Philippe Melka  still kicking about, making awesome wines. In South America, it’s a much more palpable influence. The last two decades have seen a great influx of European winemakers.  From Didier Cuvelier of  Chateau Léoville-Poyferré  to the Italian Count Francesco Marone Cinzano of Col d’Orcia estate in Montalcino. While Didier went to Argentina, the good Count Cinzano went  to Chile. Interestingly, both were determined to grow world-class Cabernet Sauvignon. Chateau Léoville-Poyferré  is well known for it’s Cabernet-based wines, so that makes sense. Col d’Orcia  is famous for it’s Brunello di Montalcino, which is definitely not Cabernet. The winery has been growing Cabernet for it’s Super Tuscan bottles for several decades, including the Olmaia Sant’Antimo and the Nearco Sant’Antimo Rosso. The location the Count opted for in Chile is very similar climate to that of Tuscany: a region of rolling gentle hills that enjoys a dry mediterranean climate with just enough rain to allow for dry farming on alluvial terraces. It’s a small region in the  Maule Valley called Riserva di Caliboro. Most of the vines planted are now more than 15  years old.

South American Wine Review

Erasmo 2009 Red, Maule Valley

Wine Review: Erasmo 2009 Red

Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and a percentage of Syrah. The Cabernet  is clearly dominant here, with aromas of graphite and cedar rising above wild flower and toasted spice. Black fruit and lusciously ripe plums ride across the deep tannins that smoothly fold into butcher shop elements. Vanilla and pomegranate come forward in the finish  which  jumps into a  slam dunk of tannin. This bottling is a constituent “Best Buy” vintage after vintage. A very good Cabernet-based wine and very attractively priced.

Wine Rating: 90 Points

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A Syrah A Day

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery. Keeps the doctor away. That’s how that expression goes, right? Well, that’s how it should read, particularly if the Syrah in question is the 2012 Cornerstone Cellars Stepping Stone Syrah. The weather here in DC turned (for a moment anyway) to chilly and the reds in the cellar started to call my name.  The Cornerstone Syrah has a real cork closure and retails for $35. Four takeaways from this wine: 1.) The nose. Oh, my, the nose. This Syrah has that meaty note I love in Syrahs. 2.) We had this with beef stew. Perfect for a cold evening. 3.) I could also see this in the summer with my BBQ ribs. 4.) Cornerstone Cellars really delivers across their portfolio. On the nose I got spice, cinnamon, baking spice, berries, black cherry, meat, and the scent of bbq. In the mouth I found black cherry, spice, black fruit, berries, and anise.  I loved the tart black fruit with the spice lurking around.  
Filed under: California, Cornerstone Cellars, Red, Syrah, Wine

Wannabe Wino Wine Blog 2014-10-10 03:35:49

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR company for the brand. Eenie meanie miny mo, which Pinot should go?  Tonight it was the 2011 Star Angel Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir. The Star Angel has a real cork closure and retails for about $27. It hails from the Santa Rita Hills in California, though the Star Angel brand is the invention of the winemaker for the Montes brand from Chile. Four takeaways from this wine: 1.) Serve this at cellar temperature or slightly below. 2.) As it warmed I found the wine a bit soft. 3.) I served this with salmon, one of my go-tos for Pinot. I think I’d serve it with a vinegar based BBQ sauce given a 2nd chance. 4.) Overall, the wine is ripe and plush and would be a crowd pleaser for those “I don’t like red wine” folks. On the nose I got spice, pepper, strawberry, and smoke. In the mouth I found strawberry jam, raspberry, and other plush red fruits. There was some acidity on the finish.  
Filed under: California, Pinot Noir, Red, Wine

Château Margaux, 1994

In a mid budget hotel in central Manchester, the CEO of a small software company took the stage to address his staff. It was the day after his 50th birthday, business was going well, but a plot had been hatched. There were no traitors at the gate on this occasion. We are not Nabisco. Merely the pleasant surprise of a presentation of a birthday gift, a certain, and very generous, bottle of wine. Jerrrrrryyyyyy!!!! The trouble with very expensive bottles of wine is one is never sure when to open them. What could possibly justify the celebration of opening a bottle that runs into hundreds of dollars. In the end, I was persuaded to drink the Château Margaux, on an unremarkable Sunday afternoon over a family roast dinner. I learnt a lesson in 2003, when my father died, that I didn’t want to pass away and leave my finest wines to somebody thoroughly undeserving of them. Since my wife doesn’t drink, I can only imagine the scoundrels and cads that might benefit from the unqualified pleasure. It also helps that 1994 is a vintage that is recommended for drinking right now, right here in 2014. Margaux 94 is a powerful wine that is more notable for its mouth feel which is pure velvet, than its flavours, which are smoky, fruity, and with rather attractive fudgey tannins. And, like many French wines, it improves gradually. As the last glass was sunk, it left me with a slight sinking feeling. Why can’t I have my (fudge) cake and eat it? All of which brings me back to some life rules:
1. Remember that cake (and wine) goes off at some point.
2. It is nearly always better to eat your cake, than bequeath it.
3. Never underestimate the kindness and generosity of your work colleagues.

Poser? No, Pousseur.

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery. Theoretically it is spring here in the DC area. Given today’s weather with a high of 61 and cold rain, I remain unconvinced. However, I am taking the opportunity to work my way through some of the red wines still lurking in the basement. Tonight I chose the 2010 Bonny Doon Le Pousseur Syrah which has a screw cap closure, clocks in at 12.8% alcohol by volume, and the current 2012 vintage retails for $26. I can’t find the photo I took of this wine. Four takeaways from this wine: 1.) Pass the lamb please. 2.) We had this with sausages, which also worked, but I really wanted some grilled lamb. 3.) Lots of complexity in the wine at this price point. 4.) The wine had an incredibly long and lingering finish.   On the nose I got plums, pencil lead, spice, and meat. In the mouth I found cocoa, plum, berries, blue fruit, spice and a finish full of lingering dusty cocoa covered blueberries. I kept imagining myself sipping this on an early September night around a campfire.  
Filed under: California, Red, Syrah, Wine

Two Nights Two Pinots

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, I managed to pluck the same wine from two different vintages two nights in a row from my basement. Let’s just say the Pinot Noir called my name this winter and the two Rodney Strong ones that were lurking (that sounds ominous, I promise it’s not) in my cellar got caught up in a few day Pinot fury. Had I actually realized I had both of them down there, I would have done a side-by-side comparison. On night one we tried the 2010 Rodney Strong Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. More on night two’s wine, the 2012, another day. The 2010 had a real cork closure and likely retailed for about $25 originally. Four takeaways from this wine: 1.) Overflowing on the nose with red, red fruit. 2.) Pair with a roaring fire and a cozy couch. 3.) Or with an herbed, roast chicken. That would work as well. 4.) Once again, Rodney Strong comes through with a solid offering for a great price point. On the nose I found raspberries, red cherries, spice, mint, herbs, and sage. (Yes, I’m well aware that sage and mint are herbs, but there were more than just those there, more of an overall herbal note.) In the mouth I got pomegranate, raspberries, spice, and other red fruit. Overall the wine has acidity to spare and a long finish.    
Filed under: California, Pinot Noir, Red, Rodney Strong, Wine