Friday, June 29, 2007



Finally, here are the notes on the final two wines - the ones that Dorianne and I brought to the party.

They represent two of our favorite everyday reds - wines that we really enjoy with a variety of foods, alone, or with a cigar (me, not Dorianne).

They are Penfold's koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet ($12) - we drank the 2004 at the tasting; and 2005 Los Vascos Cabernet, Colchauga ($11).

First, the Penfold's: Most of the wine tasters noted little to no noticable nose on the Penfold's. One noted "fragrant, fruity."

The tasting notes indicate flavors ranging from pepper, to high tannins, black currant, cherry, licorice, goon on the back of the tongue, nice finish. Dorianne rated it #8 of 8 (maybe it's not one of our favorites), noting "nose not remarkable, full-bodied, balanced, some tannins, but not overly complex; great blend of Shiraz/Cabernet, has good 'legs.'"

Next, the Los Vascos: The nose was described as, fruity, hints of licorice, fragrant, berry, sweet, floral, lite chocolate notes, hint of pepper.

The tasting remarks included: peppery, good back of tongue, lasting oak, good finish, rose, raspberry, tannic, young - needs more time, good long taste, can't beat the price (I paid $6.99 at World Market). Dorianne rated it #5 of 8, noting "nose - complex, fruit and chocolate, hint of pepper; taste - good tannins, great with Manchego cheese, amazing for the price."

So that concludes the notes from the first annual WineSaver Red Wine Tasting. My thanks to everyone who came and participated. Here is a shot of the morning after . . .

Next week is the White Wine Tasting, so look for notes on that after July 4th.

'Till Next Time,

The WineSaver

Thursday, June 28, 2007



An aside before publishing the final two reds from the Red Wine Tasting, and as Dorianne and I prepare for the White Wine Tasting on July 4th:

We spend Sunday - Tuesday in Santa Barbara. Stayed at the incredible San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito - the place where JFK & Jackie honeymooned among others. The ranch is beautiful, the cabins incredibly comfortable and inviting, with quiet enclosed porches front and rear (with a jacuzzi), the bathroom floors have radiant heating, etc., etc.

We spent Monday in the Santa Ynez area, visiting three wineries - Sunstone, Artiste, and Rideau. Pretty much all of the wines exceeded the WineSaver price level of $25 and under retail price, so I won't go into tasting reviews. Suffice to say that Artiste was the hit of the trip - wonderful wines with the "gimmick" being that art is the complement of the wine - the tasting room is filled with art and each label is an artistic piece on canvass actually applied to the bottle.

The wines at Artiste are blends from all over California, with an emphasis on the local area. The winemaker, Bion Rice, is the son of the family who runs Sunstone. He has a true gift for blending wine - those that we tasted were the best of the day, and we bought a few bottles and joined the wine club. Their site is

We had dinner at the Stone House Restaurant at the ranch on Sunday - prime rib featuring a bottle of Qupe Syrah "Purisima Mountain Vineyard" 2002 - a wonderful wine.

Monday, we had dinner at the new Hungry Cat Restaurant in Santa Barbara - wonderful and inventive seafood with a glass of Chablis - after all that tasting, we were not wanting a whole bottle.

So a great couple of days of R&R - I highly recommend the hotel, the restaurants, and the wineries we visited.

'Till Next Time.

The Wine Saver

Tuesday, June 19, 2007



It's time to look at the third pair of reds from the WineSaver Red Wine Tasting on May 27th. Blogging time has been infrequent this month, so I appreciate your patience.

Today, we look at the wines brought by Steven & Diane:
A 1997 Solis Cielo Vinyard Merlot ($18), and a 2001 Rancho Sisquoc Cellar Select Meritage ($25 - not really a wine that is readily available).

You must note that Steven is the most knowledgeable and erudite of the group when it comes to wines, so leave it to him to bring one that no one can find without going to a great deal of trouble, or having some connections at Rancho Sisquoc. Naturally, the Meritage was rated the best wine of the evening.

First, the Solis Merlot:

The nose was peppery (the most frequent comment), with a mineral background, blackberry, currant, and hints of terroir.

The taste was fruity, jammy, with rich blackberry and currant, with a smooth flavor. Dorianne rated it #4, noting a "jammy blackberry, fruity, rich flavor - perfect with steak (which is what it was served with).

Second, the Rancho Sisquoc Meritage:

Given that it was the final wine of the evening, it is somewhat surprising that the Meritage was just about everyone's favorite.

It was served with a chocolate souffle, made by Dorianne, and it closed the meal beautifully.

The nose was full, fruity, elegant, berry.

The flavor was full fruit, smooth, moderate tannins. Comments included "Yum!" "Smooth & Elegant." Dorianne, rating it #1 noted "chocolate, blackberry, smooth, rich, luxurious."

So 6 down and 2 to go - next time, I'll cover the two wines that I brought to the Red Wine Tasting.

The White Wine Tasting happens on July 4th - so look for the blog to cover that starting on July 5th.

'Till then,

The WineSaver

Monday, June 11, 2007


Here are two more of the wines from the Red Wine Tasting on May 27th. Life is pretty busy, and I've been slow in posting, but such is life.

These wines were brought by Rob & Lelia.
First is 2003 Stonehenge Reserve Petit Syrah ($11). This wine had a nose that was reported as berry with whiskey overtones; peppery; hot.

The flavor was noted as oakey, with prominent tannins, peppery, thin for a petit syrah. Dorianne rated it #3 of the eith wines, calling it yummy! complex and different, very delicious. So a nice wine!

The Second is the 2005 Tikal Patriota Red Wine ($25). This Argentine is composed of Bonarda and Malbec grapes. The nose was noted to have aspects of tobacco, clay; was noted as smooth.

The taste was tannic, astringent, pepper on the back side, some fruit influence, very deep. At least two people noted a bad aftertaste. Dorianne rated it #6 of 8, and noted rose, raspberry, and pepper.

Rob seemed to enjoy both wines:

Till Next Time . . .
The WineSaver

Monday, June 4, 2007



Well, it took a bit longer than anticipated, but here is the first review of wines from the WineSaver Red Wine Tasting from last week.

Today, we look at the 2005 Castle Rock Russian River Reserve Pinot Noir ($15) and the 2002 Cedar Knoll Cabernet Sauvignon ($20).

Both of these wines were brought by Tom and Kim.

The Castle Rock was the first wine tasted. Dorianne, who rated the wines from 1 to 8 at the end of the evening, had it at #7. It was noted as having a light to nonexistent nose. Most of those who detected something in the nose noted berry, pepper, and floral influences. I noted currant, licorice and pepper.

Tasting, the wine was smooth and light, with light hints of fruit and minerals. Dorianne noted a hint of sweet raspberry; Tom noted that it was slow to open up, noted berry flavors and called it "just okay."

The Cedar Knoll (interestingly, Dorianne and I have the identical vintage in our collection - neither of us are sure where it came from), got a warmer reception from the tasting group. Dorianne rated it #2, noting a "heady bouquet, blackberry & raspberry; and good tannins, nice complexity, great with meat; not a tasty as the nose would suggest."

Other cooments included Rob, who noted that it had a "light nose for a Cab"; Tom noted "light tannin, no aftertaste, great flavor"; Diane noted "pepper, flat aftertaste - which is good"; I noted the presence of "terroir and pepper."

So overall, the Cedar Knoll Cab was a hit and the Castle Rock a miss, at least for this group. Two more wines will be reviewed in the next installment.

What do you think?

The Wine Saver