Archive for the ‘3 corks popped’ Category

2006 Colonial Estate “Etranger” Cabernet Sauvignon

13 May

This week’s final wine – a 2006 Colonial Estate “Etranger” Cabernet Sauvignon – is the second wine of the week from South Australia’s Barossa Valley.  The Colonial Estate winery, located near the town of Greenock on the Valley’s northwest edge, prides itself on its hand-picked grapes (an extremely labor intensive process, as you can imagine) and small lot wines.

The “Etranger” is a deep, inky ruby red.  My bottle had a bit of sediment in it, so if that bothers you (or you’re serving it to guests), you should definitely decant, if possible.  It has a spicy aroma with huge ripe dark berries, dark plum, and dried flowers.  On the palate, the juicy black cherry notes are paired with a surprising acidity, which, along with the defined tannic structure, make it a bit tart, a feature that, when paired with the high alcohol content, is a bit overwhelming.

With some additional time to breathe (decant, decant, decant!), the tart acidity may mellow out a bit, but if you’re looking for a wine to open and drink right away, this may not be your best choice.  That said, if you have an hour or so to allow this wine to breathe, it has some promising aspects that may very well reward your patience.  You can find it at for $15.49/bottle.

3 corks popped!



2004 Duque de Viseu Vinho Tinto

22 Apr

This week’s (and Portugal’s) final wine is another red blend from the Dao region.  It’s a blend of Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz, which have become familiar over the past couple of weeks and another Portuguese varietal called Alfrocheiro Preto.

I first popped the cork on this bottle last night after coming home from my firm’s 45th anniversary party (congrats to Chuck, Tom and Lee!).  Having already had a glass or two of the nondescript Cab they were serving at the party, I had to give the Duque de Viseu Vinho Tinto a second taste today to ensure that my first impressions of this wine were correct despite my having imbibed a bit already.  Amazingly enough, my notes from last night were still spot on.

This wine has a dark, almost purple ruby color and an aroma of ripe black cherries, blackberries and cloves, which tells me that not only is this wine a bit more aged than this week’s previous two selections, but it probably spent more time in oak than they did as well.  On the palate, the juicy black cherries are definitely present, along with some tart black plums and leather, which adds a savory note.  The alcohol and tannins are both medium, but the finish is long, if a bit tart.

Although I personally enjoyed the 2007 Quinta de Bons Ventos Estremadura more, at just $8.19/bottle from Wine Chateau, the 2004 Duque de Viseu Vinho Tinto is definitely a great value and worth trying.  Moreover, the savory aspects on the palate make it a great food wine.  My first instinct would be to pair it with a rich pasta with a mushroom sauce, as the leather in the wine would pair very nicely with the umami of the mushrooms.

3 corks popped!



2006 Quinta de Cabriz Dao

21 Apr

This week’s second wine comes from Portugal’s Dao region in the country’s central north.  It’s one of the oldest wine regions in the country and one of the few that has qualified for Denominação de Origem Controlada (DOC) status.

A blend of Tinto Roriz, Touriga Nacional and Alfrocheiro Preto grapes, this wine is a clear dark ruby with big aromas of blackberries, red plums, red raspberries, and spice.  On the palate, there is definitely some juicy fruit but also quite a bit of acidity.  It’s a bit tart in the middle of the tongue as well as on the finish, making it slightly less enjoyable than the Quinta de Bons Ventos Estremadura, earning it 3 corks popped….



2008 Quinta do Feital Auratas

07 Apr

This week’s first Portuguese white is an Alvarinho/Trajadura blend from the Minho region, the same region that produces Vinho Verde.  Though its made from the same grapes from the same region as Vinho Verde, this wine isn’t bottled young the way Vinho Verde is and, as such, doesn’t have the distinct fizziness found in Vinho Verde.  That said, much about the flavor profile of this wine is quite similar to some of the Vinho Verde I tasted last week.

Clear and day bright with a sunny straw color and medium viscosity, this wine is clean and fresh with lots of pomello and persimmon on the nose and a bit of spring blossom – cherry maybe.  On the palate, there is definitely lots of citrus and some tart green apple.  The alcohol is medium-low, and the acidity is medium-high, with a medium-plus finish and medium complexity.

In short, although this is yet another pleasant wine, it’s not all that interesting, and I’m not sure I’d buy it again at $15.99/bottle from the Wine House.

3 corks popped!



NV Broadbent Vinho Verde

31 Mar

Following up on the Encostas do Lima Vinho Verde, we have a non-vintage (“NV”) Broadbent Vinho Verde made from a blend of Loureiro, Trajadura and Pedernã grapes.  Clear and brilliant with a light fizz akin to slightly flat soda water, this wine has a very delicate aroma of Asian pear, Fuji apple, soft white flowers and minerals.  On the palate, the flavors of pear and apple are there but are very understated and delicate.  The alcohol is very low (about 9% ABV), and the acidity, finish and complexity weigh in at just about a medium as well.

In short, although this is definitely an easy-drinking wine, there’s not quite enough there to make it really interesting.  While it’s only $8.99/bottle from The Wine House, you’d be better of going with the Encostas do Lima for a dollar more.

3 corks popped!



2004 Conde de Valdemar Rioja Reserva

26 Feb

For my third and final Rioja, I’ve chosen a 2004 Conde de Valdemar Rioja Reserva.  A blend of 85% Tempranillo and 15% Mazuelo grapes, this wine spent 18 months aging in oak barrels (6 months more than the required 12 months to be called “Reserva”).  Dark garnet in color, this wine definitely needs time to breathe.  I poured a glass immediately after opening the bottle, and it had a bit of an unpleasant peaty aroma.  This mellowed out a bit with some time in the glass to reveal some roasted dark fruit along with a bit of spice.  It was nice and smooth on the palate with more red and dark fruits as well as a bit of pepper to balance it out.  In short, although that peatiness I smelled at the outset never entirely dissipated, this is a fairly decent wine.  That said, this week’s first two wines (here and here) were significantly better at a much better price.  (This one’s available for $18.49/bottle at  Hmmm….

3 corks popped….



2005 Celler de Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica

17 Feb

This week’s second wine, a 2005 Celler de Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica, comes from the Montsant Denominación de Origen (DO) in Spain’s southwest.  This region was previously known as a subzone of Tarragona but was made into its own DO in the early 2000s, and its wines have been labeled as Montsant rather than Tarragona since 2002.  The Montsant DO almost completely surrounds the more famous Priorat DOQ (I’ll be tasting one of those next…), and, like Priorat, Montsant is more famous for its big red wines.  Montsant’s authorized red grape varieites include Cabernet Sauvignon, Cariñena, Garnacha, Garnacha Peluda, Merlot, Monastrell, Picapoll Nera, Syrah and Tempranillo.

The 2005 Celler de Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica is a blend of 85% old vine Garnacha and 15% old vine Syrah.  The use of fruit from old vines tends to produce more concentrated flavors because as grape vines age, they produce smaller crops, concentrating the natural flavors and sugars into less fruit.  The life span of a grape vine is about 120 years, and the Garnacha and Syrah used in this wine come from vines that are over 80 years old and over 30 years old, respectively.  The wine also spent 8 months in French and American oak before being bottled without being filtered.  In other words, the winemakers at Celler de Capcanes wanted a big, bold red wine, and they certainly got it.

With big notes of ripe, dark berries, licorice and spice, this wine is quite the flavor bomb.  These flavors explode on the palate and fill the entire mouth with rich dark fruit and spice.  While I didn’t much care for it on its own, the big flavors actually improved (and were mellowed out a bit) when I paired it with my dinner – a Mediterranean-style salad of baby greens, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, balsamic onions, goat cheese and warm orzo pasta.

In short, if you’re looking for a big red wine with lots of concentrated flavors, give this one a try.  You can find it at for $11.99/bottle.

3 corks popped…



2006 Rafael Palacios Louro do Bolo Godello

04 Feb

Godello, another Spanish white wine varietal heralding from Galicia in the northwest of Spain, has characteristics similar to those of Albarino – stone fruit and citrus – yet with fewer floral and herbaceous notes and a more creamy texture than its typically acidic cousin.  The best Godello comes from the Bierzo and Valdeorras regions, and Valdeorras is from where this, the second of CorkPopper’s Spanish whites, comes.

Light gold in color, the 2006 Louro do Bolo has a fine aroma of white peach and juicy pear.  It was fermented and aged in tanks as opposed to barrels, which I mention mostly because it has a relatively buttery mouthfeel for a steel-fermented wine.  Had it been aged in oak, this creaminess might have become overwhelming, making the steel tank fermentation an excellent choice.

In short, for you Chardonnay lovers out there looking for a little variety, you might want to give the Louro do Bolo a try.  And at $12.79/bottle from Wally’s Wine & Spirits, what have you got to lose?

3 corks popped…



2004 Monteviejo "Festivo" Malbec

26 Jan

Hailing from Valle de Uco, about an hour south of the city of Mendoza, the Monteviejo “Festivo” is 100% Malbec aged for 6 months in new French oak.  Not surprisingly, then, it has massive amounts of dark ripe fruit characteristic of Malbec - blackberries, blueberries and black plums – on the nose and the palate followed by an extremely dry finish as a result of the time spent in new oak.  (Aging wine in oak, especially new oak, imparts tannins from the wood into the wine, which is often what causes that drying sensation in the mouth.)

Though it opened up and mellowed out a bit after having some time to breathe, there just seemed to me to be something a bit unbalanced about this wine.  The fruit on the palate was massive and “jammy” (my first sip literally tasted like I had taken a spoonful of blackberry preserves), and then the fruit just dropped off a cliff, leaving me with an intense dryness on the palate.  In short, while this wine definitely provided an interesting experience for my palate (and J and I had no problem finishing the bottle), I personally prefer my wine to take me on a ride that feels a bit less like a wooden roller coaster.

All in all, I have to give this one 3 corks popped….



2007 Dominio del Plata "Crios de Susana Balbo" Cabernet Sauvignon

23 Jan

It’s been a long, cold, soggy week here in Los Angeles.  Six straight days of rain is not only a foreign concept to an Angeleno but sort of depressing as well.  I mean, come on, we’re used to sunny skies and an average year-round temperature of about 70 degrees Farenheit!  So, you ask, how do I stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder when it’s pouring buckets outside, and the amount of time I spend outdoors in a day can be clocked with an egg timer?  Easy…. I curl up on my couch with a luscious glass of red wine and warm myself up from the inside out.  Good thing I’m smack in the middle of my week of Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon!

And so we have our third Argentinian Cabernet Sauvignon of the week – the 2007 Dominio del Plata “Crios de Susana Balbo.”  Big and ripe with lots of dark ripe plums on the nose, this is a fruit bomb if there ever was one.  Though not entirely unpleasant, both J and I got quite a bit of prune juice on the palate, which would have been fine except for the fact that there isn’t quite enough minerality or acid to give it real balance.

In short, this wine did the job but just felt like it was missing a bit of complexity.  Not bad, certainly, but not great, and it’s my mission to find the great ones, right?

3 corks popped…


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