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2011 Kirkland Signature Chianti Classico Chianti Classico Riserva

Chianti Classico DOCG Sangiovese more

6/6/2015 - bretrooks wrote: 87 points

Not decanted, opened 30 minutes before pouring out & consumed over ~2 hours. No great depth, perhaps, but this is a solid wine with everything in its proper place for a baseline CCR - not-too-ripe cherry fruit, a bit of woody/peppery spice, decent structure & balance to work with food and maybe last a few years. Made by Villa Cafaggio, this is an excellent weeknight/cellar defender option at <$9.

P.S. Consistent notes from bottle #2...still solid, although I'm a maybe a little less enthusiastic about it overall. Still worth picking up a little more, which we recently did.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    6/9/2015 8:59:00 AM - Tony, you've got the right idea - "cellar defender" refers to an economical but satisfying wine to keep around for lesser occasions, staving off the temptation to drink more age-worthy or treasured bottles in your collection. I'm not sure where I first came across the phrase, but I'm pretty confident it was online.


2012 CT Barrel Project Syrah Upland Syrah Upland Vineyard

Yakima Valley Snipes Mountain more

4/26/2015 - bretrooks wrote: NR

Decanted ~1 hour before consuming over 2-3 hours. This needed the air we gave it, as it started off relatively closed (especially on the nose) and was just waking up at the time the first pours went into glasses.

Medium-to-deep ruby/purple in the decanter. Slightly roasted dark berry fruit, peppery spice, and a distinct saline element were fairly constant, while notes of meat, dark chocolate, and black licorice came and went in intensity. Nice persistence, and there seems to be good potential for more depth to develop. Not as 'huge' as I expected from the high listed alcohol content, although there is just a touch of heat and a little unintegrated acidity as well. Tannins struck me as mild and smooth.

Time in bottle to integrate and develop should be beneficial, although this drinks well enough now with air given its youth and scale. Still, I suspect that I'll never find out the extent of the drinking window on this, since ours will be gone before we hit the far end of it.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    4/28/2015 9:18:00 AM - Thanks, Tim...I'm sure a couple of bottles will make it into my (small, full) wine fridge for longer-term storage, but the others certainly won't make it a decade. Glad to know I can rely on the kindness of others!


2010 Casa Emma Chianti Classico

Chianti Classico DOCG Sangiovese Blend, Sangiovese more

3/24/2015 - Wine-Strategies Likes this wine: NR

While I find the wine to be approachable now, I can't say I find it too interesting. A serviceable table wine that showed much better (fuller, more aromatic complexity) on night #2. In addition, I've opened 3 bottles in the past week and have noticed a fair degree of bottle variation. Very traditional in style and composition, but not austere or bitter in any way; very much in the red-fruited vein. Notwithstanding all of that, I recommend letting these rest for a few more years. 13,5% abv., recommeded

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    3/27/2015 11:13:00 AM - Y'know, this guy left a comment on my note from last year agreeing that these need a few years..."Five years, minimum" he said. Sounds like you're in agreement. ;)


2005 Domaine Paul Autard Châteauneuf-du-Pape Cuvée La Cote Ronde

Red Rhone Blend more

3/7/2015 - Wine-Strategies wrote: NR

After the experience with the bottle I opened just 5 weeks ago, I really didn't see the point in taking up space unnecessarily with this final bottle. While it's my preference to put some age on wines in general, there are the exceptions - wines that show much better in their youth; this appears to be one of those exceptions. Held since release, this was charmless. Again. Well composed, technically, but absent the verve and nuance I'm always looking for. If you've got some, and you haven't checked (at all?) in a while, I recommend doing so. Medium-bodied, avg acidity, red fruited; no complexity. 14,5% abv (fully resolved). Drink now.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    3/7/2015 10:09:00 AM - Sorry to hear that this disappointed. My one bottle of this was the first I ever intentionally bought for aging, and it sounds like its time has come...maybe even come and gone?


2013 Ruth Lewandowski Wines Grenache Gris Naomi Gibson Ranch

Mendocino County more

9/7/2014 - bretrooks wrote: 91 points

Consumed over 2+ hours. Pale peachy-pink in the glass, with an almost-imperceptible effervescence upon pouring, just a hint of secondary fermentation. The nose makes me think of a dry rosé, reserved and more floral or pithy than anything else. On the palate, this is medium in weight and shows some white Rhone waxiness alongside plenty of lemon/grapefruit zip and an intriguing background note of rhubarb or almost-ripe strawberry. Delightful and unusual stuff, and I'm glad to have another.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    9/8/2014 5:56:00 PM - Tim, I'm curious to hear what you think after you open yours. It wasn't a good match for the cedar-planked salmon I made (it wanted something brighter and/or more savory than the spice preparation I used), but I enjoyed it quite a bit anyway.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    9/8/2014 9:11:00 PM - That sounds promising to me. I had also been thinking that salty cured meat might be a good match for when we open our other bottle...not sure in what form, though.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    11/2/2014 8:41:00 PM - Tim, based on the body and acidity, I do think this should last at least a few years, although I don't know what to expect as to how it might improve or decline. I have minimal experience with aging white rhones, and aside from one or two which were in a shut down phase, my impression is that I prefer them on the younger side.

    I do think that this is a great choice if you're looking for something to open for another inquisitive wine geek. Plus, BWO still has them in stock, so if you open this and like it, you can always grab another...I am thinking of adding at least one more since I'm in process of filling another case there.


2012 Tercero Roussanne Camp 4 Vineyard

Santa Ynez Valley more

10/13/2014 - Ridgerunner Likes this wine: 90 points

I really like this wine... but mis-matched it with dinner!

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    10/13/2014 10:07:00 PM - Do tell...what was the mis-match, and based on this experience what might you recommend as a better pairing?


2006 Bodegas Palacio Rioja Glorioso Reserva Especial

Tempranillo more

6/22/2014 - bretrooks wrote: 88 points

Not decanted, consumed over 2+ hours. Tart black cherries and neutral oak influence, hints of dust and leather, a little tight and dilute overall at this stage. This could integrate and improve over the next couple of years, but at the moment it pretty much comes off as a straightforward example of old school-leaning reserva Rioja. I enjoyed this well enough, but I probably won't seek out more. 87-88.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    6/24/2014 9:37:00 AM - I'll keep it on my radar...thanks for the tip!

Red - Fortified

1996 Quinta do Vesuvio Porto Vintage

Port Blend more

1/11/2014 - Wine-Strategies wrote: NR

Slow-O 4 hours, served non-blind. Held since release, cork soaked nearly half. Fully mature medium ruby color, faded all the way to the rim. Initial aromas are a bit troubling (as is the color), with some VA, play-doh, bright raisin, prune, walnut, and hot stones. The 20% abv is there, but it's nicely folded into the background. First taste -- oh yeah, this is ready, fully (AndyV you were spot on). I'm thinking the acids are going to outlive the fruit here, but that works for me this evening as I'm really not in the mood for a fruity, in-your-face jam and etOh fest. I'm going to serve this at cellar temp (58F) and follow it from that point. I'll update this note if anything interesting develops. Drink now.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    1/12/2014 7:01:00 PM - Thanks for the good note, Tim...seems like I should plan to drink our bottle of this sooner rather than later. Do let us know how it's doing by the end of the bottle (if it's not gone already).


2010 Antonio Vallana e Figlio Spanna Cuvee Bernardo Vallana

Piemonte DOC Nebbiolo more

12/22/2013 - bretrooks wrote: 89 points

Not decanted due to lack of decanter, consumed over 1 1/2 hours. Should have given this more air - upon opening, this was fairly tart and structured, showing a bit of oaky, slightly smoky/herbal character but not a lot else. After an hour or so, some red fruit started (just started) to reveal itself, with the familiar tarry notes coming forward as well.

Given some air, this is nice enough now, but my main impression is one of future potential; I'll be sitting on my other one for a while, although I'd have to defer to others for guesses about long-term development. By the end of our meal last night, 89-90ish for this bottle, likely higher in a few years.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    12/23/2013 9:17:00 AM - Thanks for the tip! Happy holidays...

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    1/3/2014 12:33:00 PM - I do and I did...thanks for flagging that, Tim!


2009 Daou Vineyards Micho

Paso Robles Red Blend more

1/2/2014 - fingers wrote: 86 points

Notes after 12 hours of slow-O. Very dark ruby/purple color, about 90% opaque with big heavy legs. Light sediment. High octane nose of cherry and strawberry jam, paint, licorice, and forest floor. Big body, soft but plentiful tannins and the right amount of acidity for near-term drinking. Bold and hot (15%) with extra umami and pork fat. Dominated by the red fruit flavors. No holds barred on this very typical example of Paso ripeness. Really reminds me of Tobin James style. No restraint or elegance, so if you're into big fruit bombs, have at it. 4+10+15+7 = 86

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    1/2/2014 10:22:00 AM - Sorry to hear about this showing, as I have a bottle of this that was gifted to me a couple years ago. I seem to remember it being enjoyable the one time I had it in the tasting room...maybe I should have opened it back then. Ah well, if nothing else, at least I have a good idea of which friends/family might enjoy it now.

    Happy new year!


2001 Tolo Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

Paso Robles more

12/11/2013 - kenhoeve wrote: 95 points

Pop and pour into decanter. Freaking delicious. No signs of age in color or on the palate, this bottle is immortal. Fresh berries, stem and forest floor, bubblegum, perfume/florals, black currant, cedar, exotic spices. Round and full, with good proportion and excellent line. Medium long finish of perfume, berries, and tannic grip. This will make old bones, the tannins and the acid are still there, and the bottle still is not throwing much if any sediment. Hands down, classic cab for the princely sum of $35. More notes to come...

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    12/12/2013 8:45:00 AM - Glad to hear this was firing on all cylinders for you...and glad also that I was able to finagle a trade with Josh for one last bottle earlier this year! Hope all is well.


2010 Bodegas Volver La Mancha Volver

Tempranillo more

11/17/2013 - bretrooks wrote: 85 points

Not decanted, consumed over ~2 hours. Dark, dense, and extracted, with notes of cooked cherries, oak, anise, and smoke. Decent acid and mouth-coating, slightly drying tannins which make for a longish but chewy finish. Reminded me of several wines we've had from Paso Robles.

It overpowered our dinner and seemed over the top to us, but if you're a fan of dense, oaky reds, it might be a good QPR for you...feel free to mentally adjust the score accordingly.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    11/18/2013 12:19:00 PM - :)

    I usually give a wine a few points for being competently made in its style even when it's not to my preference. <80 for me usually flags a wine as undrinkable or close to it, and we did make our way through this with some level of (oak-mitigated) enjoyment.

    Yeah, maybe 85 is a couple/few points high for reflecting my personal enjoyment, but my wife liked it a bit more than I did, and I know people I'd recommend it to who will think this is fantastic, so that's the extremely non-analytic number I felt like throwing at it this morning.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    11/18/2013 1:54:00 PM - Tim, I got it and was smiling while typing my comment too, despite the dry writing. Looking forward to hoisting another glass or three together someday...


2008 Passopisciaro Sicilia Passopisciaro

Nerello Mascalese more

11/2/2013 - bretrooks wrote: 90 points

Not decanted, consumed over 2+ hours, mostly with a lamb dinner which in retrospect probably called for a heftier wine. Also, this was our first Sicilian wine (but not our last, I expect).

This was a pretty wine, drinking smoothly from the get-go, showing primarily high-toned red berry/currant fruit alongside pleasant hints of spice and something saline or medicinal. There was a little mineral astringency as well which, in conjunction with the papery tannins, makes me think this might be the "ashiness" some refer to in Etna wines. Refreshing but not obtrusive acidity.

While enjoyable, this did seem to be holding something back on both nose and palate, and overall, it came off as a little simpler than my note probably makes it sound. I expect that this will be drinking better a few years down the road once its potential is more fully realized, but curiosity get the best of us this time. C'est la vie.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    11/7/2013 9:24:00 AM - Terre Nere, duly noted. Looks like it's mostly available on the east coast...I wish more wines like that made it out to the west coast (especially at $15).


2011 Novy Family Wines Sauvignon Blanc

Russian River Valley more

10/17/2013 - bretrooks wrote: 87 points

Intense straw yellow color. Medium weight, with slightly spicy green pepper notes most prominent and a lesser amount of lemon/grapefruit. Friendly and well-enough made, just a bit green for my taste and on the simple side.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    10/18/2013 10:03:00 AM - In SB, I like a citrus/steely character and even a bit of grassiness, but I'm sensitive to overt green pepper notes, so this one just isn't for me. If you don't mind that type of greenness as much, I'd say it's fairly priced in the $10-15 range, probably not higher.


2007 Kumeu River Chardonnay Estate


9/15/2013 - Wine-Strategies wrote: NR

SnP, served non-blind. Not something I would care to drink on its own, but my new world, butter and malo loving friends couldn't get enough. Just too rich for me (oh how my palate has changed in the past 10, 20 years), but as it was served with some nice, thick tuna steaks straight off the grill, it worked. Be sure to serve this cooler than warmer, lest the 13,5% abv sneaks in on you. The first of 5 bottles, all of which I will serve to friends and guests that prefer this type of drink.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    10/1/2013 5:59:00 PM - Just ran across this note while checking up on a few wines I've bookmarked over time...I also prefer my oak/malo reined in, so I will take this as a warning.


2010 Bodega Nekeas Garnacha El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa

Navarra more

9/27/2013 - bretrooks wrote: 89 points

Not decanted, consumed over 2 hours. This has come along a little bit since my 5/28/2013 note. A bit on the darker side of grenache, especially in its price range - dense red berry/cherry fruit with a nice spiciness and plenty of acid integrating well. Maybe no special complexity to the fruit, but this is shaping up to be everything you could hope for from a grenache of this style in this price range. 89-90, and ready to drink now or over the next few (several?) years.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    9/30/2013 9:51:00 AM - Tim, the Tanzer review caught my eye on this one, and I'm glad it did. I'm not ordering anything for a while, but if K&L still has some around once I'm ready again, I'll probably grab a few more.


2009 Rocca dell'Olmo Barbaresco

Nebbiolo more

12/14/2012 - bretrooks wrote: 87 points

Not decanted, consumed over 2 hours. Hints of cherry skins on the palate, but really more floral and woody notes, with the wood being noticeable at first but mostly disappearing after a little bit of time in the glass. Enough acid, mild dusty tannins, and correct (if somewhat dilute) nebbiolo character.

While this doesn't seem to have the fruit to last and might not live up to high expectations because it's labeled Barbaresco, you'll have a hard time finding a better $10 nebbiolo for near-term drinking. (If you know of one, I'm all ears.)

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    12/15/2012 3:20:00 PM - Trader Joe's, actually. There's a barbera and barolo as well, but the wine guy at ours steered me towards this one as his favorite of the $10 I had to give it a whirl. It's not spectacular, but it hit the spot last night with dinner, so there you go...

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    5/18/2013 2:04:00 PM - Red fruits and noticeable acids...sounds like a good fit for a cookout, especially at the price. Hope you enjoy the other two bottles too. Ours showed a little variation, but we ended up liking them, especially with a little air.

White - Sweet/Dessert

2009 Château Doisy-Daëne

Sauternes Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend more

4/18/2013 - Redguy Likes this wine: 94 points

I know it's early but thought I'd check in... glad I did. This amazing effort from Double D really caught me off guard. Started off as a pnp, then sampled over the next 4+ hours. Upon opening, this showed an extremely fine texture, a delicately composed disposition, great concentration, and electric sweetness resulting in an effortless and classy appeal. No baked apricots here. After a few hours air and as it warmed, fatness, richness, depth, and power came forth. Much more purposeful, but still with that extremely fine texture and near weightless impression...the least sticky sticky. After airing and warming this exploded with opulence and immense sweetness, butterscotchy candied citrus fruits, pear juice, and a bit of graham cracker. So purposefull yet effortless as it excites each taste bud intensely. There is plenty of acidity here, it's just so well integrated within the massive sweetness it's easy to miss. Great structure as well. From start to finish this danced across the palate: with ballet like movement when chilled and more like salsa when aired and warmed to 55+. Nothing short of fabulous in the mouth, this rolls around like liquid quicksilver coating every measure with luxurious golden ripeness. Sexy!

Somewhere between the refinement and class when chilled and the power and richenss as it warms is the sweet spot for this beauty. That somewhere should appear with another 10 years in the cellar and continue for decades. Had an '02 d'Yquem recently... this was every bit as good. Great wine, great Barsac, great QPR. 94+

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    4/19/2013 2:30:00 PM - Thanks for the great note! Glad I have one...wish I had more.


2011 Matetic Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc EQ Coastal

Casablanca Valley more

4/9/2013 - bretrooks wrote: 80 points

Served at cool room temperature, consumed over 1 hour. My experience seems different than most of the other notes here - our bottle had strong vegetal notes of green chile peppers and just a background hint of honeydew melon. Decent acidity and doesn't seem badly made, per se, but I couldn't get past the greenness here.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    4/11/2013 7:57:00 AM - Thanks for the tip. I'm fairly sensitive to that pepper type of greenness you find in some SB, and I rarely buy it blind for that reason, but next time I run across it I'll try chilling it down and see what that does. Glad you're enjoying yours...cheers!

    P.S. Margerum's 2011 Sybarite is the best SB I've had in a while. It's just a tad more expensive, but it's worth checking out.


2001 Nannetti Brunello di Montalcino i Verbi

Sangiovese more

4/7/2013 - bretrooks wrote: 90 points

Not decanted, consumed over ~3 from ~2 hours on. Colorwise, this is dark blood red transforming into rusty brown, but the palate doesn't seem as tertiary as might be expected. Dark plummy fruit with funky notes of anise and smoke, maybe just a hint of gamy meat or barnyard. Good acid and integrated but slightly drying tannins.

This seems to be drinking near its peak to me, although it does seem like it could go a few more years if you're looking for an especially funky experience.

  • Comment posted by bretrooks:

    4/10/2013 8:17:00 AM - Thanks for the tip...I have two more, so I'll try to plan farther ahead next time! And yeah, it's time to open another De La Terre soon.

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