Tasting Notes for mjnickel

(119 notes on 118 wines)

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Red
2/16/2015 - mjnickel Likes this wine:
90 points
My three-day Presidents Day weekend was pretty much spent eating a steak so obscenely large it would make Larry Flynt blush. The son-of-a-bitch weighed over 5 pounds and cost $100, but went down easier than Lindsay Lohan for cocaine money

It was a dry-aged tomahawk ribeye and the meat I trimmed off the handle got ground up and yielded six of the tastiest hamburgers I ever had (actually, two of them are still in my refrigerator). And the steak was thrown onto a cast iron griddle, went in the oven until medium rare, and finished back on the griddle with garlic, butter and fresh thyme. If I had a time machine, I'd like to take that steak with me and dance with it on Soul Train to Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough." What happens after that is between a consenting adult and his Tomahawk Ribeye.

Don't judge me! I'm a tax payer and a licensed driver!

I'd like to say I chose the wine because I thought its bright Washington State fruit would carry the beets and turnips I roasted with the steak (which it marvelously did), but really, I just grabbed the first Cabernet I wasn't saving for a special occasion. As it turns out, it's dang tasty. Fruit forward and savory at the same time. Cherries, firm tannins and fresh herbs on the finish that carry the thyme-butter all the way through. It was my last bottle, so I can't share any with you when you invite me over for dinner, but could I interest you in a Syrah so tasty it'll make you excuse yourself to the back yard to contemplate the direction of your life?
White
4/2/2014 - mjnickel wrote:
88 points
This is going to be an odd tasting note, but hang with me and don't over think it. But this wine makes me want some biscuits and gravy. You know, the southern staple of fresh homemade biscuits and sawmill gravy.

This is not to say this wine tastes like either of those things, or would go well with either, but there's something here that is fatty and thick, but uplifting enough that you could full yourself with it for half a day.

There's some nice tropical fruit here, with just a hint of a grassy note, that takes a backseat to the oily, oakiness of the, um, well, oak. It's not overbearing, but about 15% more acid would have made this kinda special. As it is, it's still pretty good. I'd drink it again if you gave me a bottle. Hell, I'm drinking it right now as I type this. But I could also pick up a bottle of La Crema at just about any wine shop for $10 less, and enjoy it just as well.
1 person found this helpful Comments (2)
Red - Fortified
12/31/2013 - mjnickel Likes this wine:
93 points
OK, stick with me here, because I'm about to break out some terms that will certainly mark me as a wine douche...

The attack on this bottle is not shy; right up front I got that sweet dark, red fruit you'd expect, and on the finish, there's that brandy with which port is fortified, so full of alcohol and oak, and caramel as it is. If I were a St. Bernard, I would happily wear a small cask of this around my neck while rescuing you from an avalanche, dear reader.

But what I like about this wine is the middle. You know the good part. Whereas so many wines show hollow, this was like swallowing a round ball of blackberries, dates, and figs. Really, I'm not making this up. This is an excellent bottle of wine. My friend thought it finished a little hot, and I wanted to punch him right in his mouth, because I thought it finished excellently.

I announced that we should be eating blue cheese with this, and my friend's wife produced a large wedge of stilton, then added, "I think we should be eating figs with this."

And so, we ate them both, and drank the bottle while ringing in the New Year (2014). I'm rating this a 93, which is lower than where it will be years from now after growing in complexity. It's so youthful, after 20 years, that it felt like infanticide. Hold on to your bottle for another 20 years, and you might even feel the same. It's gonna last a while is what I'm trying to say.

My New Year's resolution? It's the same as it is every year. I resolve to live more like a woman, because that's the best way I can imagine being a better man.
2 people found this helpful Comment
Red
9/8/2013 - mjnickel wrote:
90 points
I opened this bottle tonight for two reasons. The first is that I didn't want to wait any longer, and the other is that I'm celebrating some very exciting news. According to my latest Tarot card reading, I'll be the new lead singer of The Dixie Chicks in 2017. If anybody knows all the words to "Goodbye Earl," please forward them to me tout de suite. I'm bad with memorization and really want to hit the ground running with this new gig.

I carried this bottle with a chicken breast stuffed with shallots, goat cheese and thyme. Then, I made a sauce with tawny port and figs and put that on my chicken. Figs, y'all, they don't just come in Newton form. Did you know they're also a fruit? It's true.

By the way, here are three things overheard today while buying the figs at Whole Foods:

1) The cakes here are so good; they're made with free range eggs.

2) Excuse me. What kind of cheese are you sampling today?

3) That cupcake dog is the most adorable thing ever. And so is that cupcake pig.

Incidentally, Cupcake Pig is what the other Dixie Chicks and I are going to call Natalie Maines when I'm the new lead singer. Seriously, though, she's very talented. The three of us wish Cupcake Pig all the best.

Now, onto the wine: I would have been rewarded with another year or two of patience. The acid was stronger than expected, which is a good sign, as I like acid in my reds, just as with my whites. But with all that strawberry, cherry, rhubarb and sassafras, I would have liked the acid to settle down into some interesting spicy notes. Still, an excellent wine. Drink it. Drink it. Open a bottle and drink it.
4 people found this helpful Comments (4)
Red
8/15/2013 - mjnickel wrote:
90 points
Imagine slurping Grenache through a Swisher Sweet. That's kind of what this tasted like, only that's supposed to be a compliment. There's dark fruit here, and cigar box spiciness, too. The tannins are present and I suspect they'll tame a bit over a year or two. This is inexpensive, though, and tasty. Don't feel guilty about drinking it now. Instead, you should feel guilty about that thing you did in college. You know the thing I'm talking about. Your freshman year. Before you knew how to behave responsibly at parties.
2 people found this helpful Comment
White
5/10/2013 - mjnickel wrote:
93 points
Gewürztraminer is a woefully underrated grape, and this is the best I've ever had. Made in Alsace, which has been passed back and forth for years between France and Germany, this bottle is bright, floral, Aryan, spicy, feminine and beautiful, much as I recall Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall. For those who are allergic to uppity tasting notes, please excuse yourself now or give yourself that Epinephrine injection you so often have to administer when reading about wine.

With this, I get apricots (no, not peaches you pedestrian sons of bitches...apricots!) all over the mid-palate and this thing I want to call grapefruit marmalade on the finish. Is grapefruit marmalade a thing? If not, you can have that idea for your own start-up specialty food business provided you give me a few jars and a shout out at your bankruptcy hearing. At 14% abv, the alcohol is really well integrated. I would have guessed something closer to 12-13%. Yes, the acid and spice make this a great pairing for curry, as one expects from Gewürztraminer, but to paraphrase Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon's Vacation, it does just fine by itself.

P.S. Patti Labelle just texted me to say that "Grapefruit Marmalade" is her cat's drag name.
1 person found this helpful Comment
White
2008 Sutor Burja Vipava Valley White Blend (view label images)
4/24/2013 - mjnickel wrote:
87 points
I'm going to be absolutely, one hundred percent honest with you: I don't know what to make of this wine. This is the only one from Solvenia I've ever had, so there's not much to compare it to. When I picked it up, I was hoping it would remind me of the crisply acidic whites from Greece for which I make no effort to hide my enjoyment. But this lacks the acidity I look for in white wine. In fact, it has all the fattiness of new world Chardonnay, but the simple first level pleasure of Pinot Grigio. And a slightly grassy finish. It's like every girl who ever had a crush on me in high school: buttery, simple, and smelling more of weed than flowers. But you know what? I kinda liked those girls, and I kinda like this wine, too, even though I totally understand if it's not your bag. In fact, I'd be surprised if you liked, it too.

I would serve this with something very rich and creamy, like brie on a salty crust of bread. But even while I'd suggest this to those of you who have a few bucks and are curious about Slovenian wine, for everyone else, I'd recommend picking up your favorite California Chardonnay under $25 and enjoy that instead.
Red
3/24/2013 - mjnickel wrote:
92 points
This winemaker is special to me because they are recognized as not only the finest producer of California Pinot Noir, but also as a champion barbecue team who has recently competed in the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Contest. This is one of the first of their wines I received after getting on their mailing list. And even though their fall releases are considered their lineup’s bettors, this spring released Somoma County bottle is round, full-bodied and packed with rhubarb, strawberry and mid palette goodness. It’s excellent wine, and I could just hug myself for obtaining more than just the bottle I drank tonight. Invite me over for salmon, pork chops or chicken, and I’ll bring a bottle to share. I promise. All I ask is you don’t be an asshole or try to convince me that my politically liberal leanings are immoral. Almost everything else I can tolerate.
White
3/2/2013 - mjnickel wrote:
91 points
I love Condrieu for all its florid charms. When treated with Northern Rhone crispness, viognier is the rose on your birthday cake. Buttery, fattening and delightful in equal measures.

This bottle is so full bodied that it reminds me of new world viognier, which doesn't quite rise to the scarcity of this Nother Rhone version of the grape. This is not to say it's a bad wine. I liked it very much. I drank it with scallops on top of a a white bean puree. It was as round, soft and delightful as Scarlett Johansson , but when it comes to Condrieu, I expect all that, plus the angular sharpness of Charlotte Rampling. Still, the $50 I paid for the bottle was money well spent. It's a lovely wine.
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Red
1/20/2013 - mjnickel wrote:
89 points
Brunello sneaks up on you, man. It starts off simple and tasty like Juliette Lewis in Cape Fear, but once it opens up, it becomes broad and complex, like Juliette Lewis in Natural Born Killers. While still young compared to top flight Brunellos, this is marked with sweet, soft tannins and just enough acidity to walk along side the tomato sauce that was ladled over the gnocchi I served it with. Yes, it’s still an adolescent, but it won’t get better. Drink it now. Don’t look at me like that! Drink it!
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Red
1/13/2013 - mjnickel wrote:
slightly fruity, but with some funk thrown into the mix, like Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" album.

Not bad, but it lacks vibrancy.
White - Sweet/Dessert
12/31/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
If you'd told me this was Madiera, I'd believed you. Old, hot and flabby, like Kathleen Turner.
Red
12/28/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
thus is to wine as Gary Buaey is to teeth: over the top, unnatural, and seemingly made from wood. Seriously.

I would have rated it lower, but some like that over oaked style. and to them, you can have my share.
White - Off-dry
12/4/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
This is sweet, spicey and mouth filling...justvlikebRosie Perez. With this I find quite a bit of residual sugar as with an Auslese Riesling, but with just a hint of cinnamon and cardemon. Mango, orange peel and crisp acidity is in there too, along with a want for an extra bottle or two.
Red
11/28/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
I never understood why "pizza wine" is used as a pejorative. Everybody loves pizza, and with its tomato sauce, buttery crust and myriad toppings, it takes Alan acidic and versatile red to stand up to it. And so I use the term here as a compliment. This is a pizza wine. Blackberries up front along, with some anise that's that will work pretty well with pepperoni and sausage (the two beet parts of the pig, by the way). Good acidity, too. Dry tannins on the finish, though a little hollow in the middle. The pizza set me back $12 and the wine $20. Good deal on both counts.
Red
11/15/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
This is actually very good wine. I mean, if I had a woman I was trying to impress over for dinner and I was sure I'd get awway with it, I'd serve this and say it was $100 a bottle instead of $25. after all, it says Napa right there on the label. And I'm an unrepentant liar
My notes: purple color, midnight dark fruit, milk chocolate mouth feel, tastes a little lukeblicking a cedar chest made by a prisoner in the 1950s. I mean that as a compliment. This is a good wine made with character. I have more, but am greedy and wish I hade even more, still. This is the equivalent of a nerdy girl in a teen comedy who removed her glasses and becomes prom queen.
Red
2009 Château de Barbe Blanche Lussac-St. Émilion Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
10/6/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
This one is purple and fruity like Prince circa 1985. Also, like Prince, it's best when young. As suggested, its dark fruit is right up front, and is carried through the palate with hibtsbof cedar and mellow oakiness. At 14% abv its alcohol is hidden quite well under drying tanins and its youthful vibrancy. At this price get a bottle to drink now with grilled meat and maybe another for a couple of years down the road. The 1992 era Prince was pretty good, too, and this one might surprise in say 3-5 years.
Red
9/23/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
This is a nice bottle of wine. Very dark fruit and extracted. The oak is well integrated and helps balance its power. it opened a little more on 2nd night, but the alcohol is just a tad hot. Consider decanting and/or serving slightly chilled
Red
6/20/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
maybe I'm being unfair because Im not very familiar with the blend, but this tasted to me like someone set a pencil on fire. d
Dry, woody tanins, graphite and a slightly bitter finish where I expected a little more fruit. bought it as a curiousity.
White - Sweet/Dessert
6/17/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
Sweet wines are hard to rate because they're so delicious it's hard to put them in context. This one is, in fact delicious. full of orange peel, peaches, and caremel. but it has kept it's acididty, which makes it fresh. I picked this half bottle up for $20 and consider myself lucky.
White
6/16/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
Really enjoyed this wine which had loads of pineapple, tropical fruit and citrus all kept in check with crisp acidity. This is a high elavation wine and and tastes like it. I'll be buying. more.
Red
6/8/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
Undrinkable with an near indestructible tunable nose. Think barnyard combined with a sol enter left opened in your garage. I thought the first bottle was flawed, si I bought another bottle the next time I found it and it was equally as bad. This is a quality producer with prestige vineyards in Condrieu, so maybe the distributor in my area improperly stored it before distribution.
Red
5/31/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
Astringent and tight even on the second day and a lengthy decant. its just the way this wine is, I think. A little then, too, but not undrinkable. Just wouldn't buy it again.
Red
4/18/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
Bright, fresh and fruity...like a Katy Perry record. It's pretty simple and would be a good wine fir people who don't like wine. Drink on the porch in summer, but only worth about $15
Red
4/7/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
86 points
So, last month when I was in San Francisco, I walked over to North Beach for dinner where a very nice Italian man served me a plate of fettuccini with the meat from braised short ribs. That meal was so good that I'm now Catholic. Incidentally, I also gave up Protestantism for Lent.

Tongiht, I attempted to recreate that meal in my own kitchen, and while I wasn't as successful as the professional chef who learned his trade in Italy, I was extremely successful for a man from Tennessee who owns a .38 Special album. What you see here is pasta with shredded short ribs braised for three hours in beef stock, tomatoes, onions, carrots and various aromatics. And get this...there's grated chocolate on top. Yeah, I know, crazy, right?

The wine is so-so. Burnello should be more complex than this...or at least more flavorful. This is Sangiovese treated more like Chianti than Brunello, but still not bad. If I could figure out how to drink wine while lying down, I'd take a glass into the back yard and enjoy it in the hammock (Allow me another aside: "Enjoy it in the Hammock" is the title of a straight to VHS movie I made in the late 80s. I needed the money and placed too much trust into mustachioed gentleman who paid me $35.00 to feature in it. You can find it in the back room of your neighborhood video store we're all pretending still exists for the sake of this joke).
Red
3/30/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
90 points
I really enjoyed this wine, which a beautiful nose of ripe red fruits. This is mouth filling and an excellent value. Maybe it's not as complex as top end Syrahs, but its mid palette is more complete than many others sold at higher prices. Again, a great value and I'll buy more.
White
2/19/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
90 points
I don't have to work tomorrow because of President's Day (thanks George Washington!). So, in addition to the many freedoms my country affords me, this particular non-worknight Sunday gives me license to open the wine bottle of my choosing. Tonight, I chose this. Why? Because I'm down with white Rhone varietals like Naughty by Nature is down with OPP (Did you know that when a white man makes a lame hip-hop reference more than ten years out of date, he becomes even more white? It's true. Look it up).

This California wine is crisply acidic, but mouth filling. You know, like Joy Behar, but better. I bought this bottle last 4th of July (thanks George Washington!) with my friend Nick Papafotopoulos in Chicago. We picked up about 18 other bottles that night and drank a good many of them while sitting on his back porch making like Bruce Springsteen and talking about the glory days. Tonight I drank this with Veal Picatta and a roasted potato medley while on the phone with my dad. My dad is a great guy. Get to know him!

Quick story about my dad: When I was around 10 years-old, UPS, of which he was a very early employee, sent him to Dyersburg, TN to become a center manager. This assignment was to a young UPS supervisor as the western outpost assignment was to Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves. Only in Dyersburg, there are fewer wolves, but more Lee Greenwood fans (I know, pick your poison, right?). He'd setup in an apartment and called on my brother and me to come visit. Then, while entertaining us in the swimming pool, things got rough and he went to splash me with a wave of water, but given his Nickel-like lack of dexterity, miscalculated his movements and punched me right in the mouth instead. Hard. Like, hey, someone should call Child Protective Services hard. The story's ending is unexciting, as it contains only profuse apologizing and rudimentary first-aid. But the denouement is fantastic! To this day, I have a "Get out of Jail Free" card with my dad.

"Son, I think you should give more care to your studies."

"Who are you to judge, Daddy? You punched me in the mouth!"

Wine! Drink it!
1 person found this helpful Comments (1)
Red
2/18/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
87 points
Even more fruit driven than I expected. Jammy, sweet and almost confected. I'm sure there are some who would really enjoy this style, and maybe I would on occasion, but I was hoping for something more food friendly.
Red
2/4/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
90 points
I enjoyed this with honey-balsamic lamb chops with caramelized turnips. It was both rustic and fruit driven, which made this a good match. I got lots of brambly blackberry fruit, spice box and pencil lead to carry the whole meal, and was impressed with the value of the bottle. This is really drinking well now. I've another bottle and will be opening it soonl
Red
2006 Château Vieux Pourret St. Émilion Grand Cru Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
1/14/2012 - mjnickel wrote:
87 points
This smelled like if you melted some fruit roll-up in a leather bag, which is to say it it was fruit driven, but with an undercurrent of leather and earthiness. Very nice nose. Less fruit on the palate though, and more spice than expected. Maybe a little thin compared to my expectations, but still a good wine and solid value.
Red
2006 Stonestreet Fifth Ridge Alexander Valley Red Bordeaux Blend (view label images)
12/29/2011 - mjnickel Likes this wine:
90 points
Inspired by Bordeaux's right bank, this is made from 54% merlot and 46% cabernet sauvignon grapes grown in California's Alexander Mountain Range. Describing this wine is much like describing Little Richard: lots of dark fruit, sweet tobacco and leather. And the tannins grip surprisingly as if gulping from a bottle of tart cranberry juice in the middle of the night when you thought it was cran-apple juice you bought instead. And I mean that as a compliment.

Speaking of compliments, I couldn't help but notice how good looking all of you are.
Red
12/6/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
90 points
Excellent value with soft tannins and dark fruit favors (ripe strawberry, blackberry). Smooth mouthfeel and long finish without being too sweet. Good stuff
Red
12/6/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
87 points
Past it's prime at this stage. The fruit has slipped away, leaving behind some nice spice, mild maple sweetness and a hot finish. Wished I had it a few years ago
White - Sweet/Dessert
12/3/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
89 points
Nice wine with well integrated alcohol (13 abv). Tastes like the juice at the bottom of a can of peaches if you ground some cloves into it. The nose is a little closed, though the acidity is still there after 11 years past it's vintage. Good wine and excellent value.
White
12/3/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
82 points
This tastes a little synthetic to me. With some air, the fruit comes throght, but a nose of rubber band and some petrol. The varietal pepper invests is there, but it leans toward bitter
White
11/20/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
84 points
Picked this up for $12 in hopes that i'd find a well kept secret, as so many wines from Chile seem to be. There's a nice honeysuckle component to this, but the nose is fairly mute and it's equally as diluted on the palate. It should appeal to Pinot Gris fans who want something different, but for me it's a little too weak.
Red
11/16/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
87 points
Usually,I find that bottle priced in this range ($12) are like Kool-Aid, fruity and confected. But while not necessarily complex this has a nice spiciest and tannins. Good value wine.
White
11/6/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
84 points
I believe this has aged just a little too long. It's acid is absent leaving it flabby. There's more sweetness than I expected, and some minerality. I just wish I'd had this two years ago.
White
11/5/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
89 points
The oak is balanced very nicely with this juicy chardonnay that leans more the tropical style. Nice acidity and just a touch of butteriness keeping it smoothed out.
White
11/2/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
90 points
Excellent value at less than $20. Nice crisp acidity, and you get baking spices the closer it gets to room temperature. Will buy more.
Red
9/26/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
83 points
Very fruity. Almost to the point of tasting synthetic, like a powdered grape drink. I can see this being popular for people who don't like wine because of its punchy fruitiness, but I'd be hard pressed to name a food to match with it.
Red
9/24/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
90 points
This is vibrant with bright fruit and food friendly acidity. Perhaps not as nuanced as tip tier Pinot, but a great bargain and very good. Will buy more.
Red
9/18/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
85 points
This was thin and astringent, and never opined into what's described in other reviewer's notes. Not a horrible wine but uninteresting.
White
9/13/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
89 points
Full and oaky, but with bright pineapple citrus note up front and syrupy peaches on the finish. It's lost a little its acidity which makes the oak a little much, but those who like this full rounded style should be pleased.
Red
9/10/2011 - mjnickel Likes this wine:
89 points
I enjoyed this wine with its fruit forward approach and strong acidic structure. I thought that maybe its fruit would have begun to slip away at this point, but it still struck me as quite young at seven years from its vintage. The tannins are there, but a little soft, as you'd expect. But it's mostly characterized by it's acid. I drank this with lamb meatballs and a Greek salad, and it actually held up to the lemon vinaigrette in the salad much better than you'd expect. Not a bad match at all, to be honest.
Red
8/23/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
86 points
I found this to be spicier and greener than expected. Also, I didn't quite expect as much heat as I got from it for must 13.5% abv. If I'd not expected something different, I may have enjoyed it more, as it's not a bad wine. I'd suggest giving it a little time to open up before drinking.
White
8/20/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
91 points
The wine is 90% roussanne and 10% viognier, and not only does it make me happy, but it reminds me again that white Rhone varietals are among my favorites. Nice minearality here on top of pears, caramel, vanilla and acid. I gave a bottle of this to a friend last year, but I don't think she was all that into it. She likes her wine light and crisp (like a Republican's dress shirt); I like mine full and mouth filling (like Kathleen Turner).
Red
8/16/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
87 points
I thought this was an excellent value. You can smell the fruit as soon as you pull the cork, but there are more tannins than you'd expect. I had this with burgers off the grill and sweet tomatoes, and it matched really well. Simple, yes, but enjoyable and a bargain.
White
8/10/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
87 points
Viognier treated as Chardonnay, and so it's lost much of that vibrant floral character I enjoy. Nice acid, but the oakiness was distracting.
White - Sweet/Dessert
2003 Château Cru D'arche Pugneau Sauternes Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend (view label images)
7/16/2011 - mjnickel wrote:
87 points
Nice, sweet wine with a short finish, slightly hot finish. Not as viscous as the better Sauternes I've had, but not bad.
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