Clos Du Bois 1999 Marlstone Vineyard Alexander Valley

The Alexander Valley has been producing great wines for a long time and it has some of the heartiest reds I’ve come across. As a matter of fact I don’t believe I’ve run across a bad one.

Anyway, this Marlstone Vineyard red wine started with a very dark ruby color, inky almost, and the aromas were abound with licorice, blackberry, tobacco, plum, and spice with a hint of mint leaves, though very subtle almost to the point of not being detectable, but nonetheless after savoring the aromas for several minutes the mint finally surfaced. This was really nice as I don’t remember the mint from when I tried this back in 2002!

The palate delivered luscious ripe plum and blackberry just when these fruits are at their prime. The mocha finish crept up on you slowly but lasted for a lifetime. For not having chocolate with this wine it sure gave you the impression you did have it with chocolate.

At a cost of $39.00, which is what I paid for it back in 2002, this delectable blend of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, and 13% Malbec was well worth the price to go down memory lane. I’ll presume the cost is now around the $45-55 range. Even at this cost I don’t think it will disappoint so I’ll also presume you’ll find this wine to your liking!

Pair this with a beef tenderloin with a vegetable medley of pearl onions and sweet peas, whipped sweet potatoes (yeah, go ahead and add some brown sugar on the top), and a fresh garden salad. I think I’m hungry!





Toasted Head 2003 Merlot

A number of years ago the Merlot grape became quite a craze in the wine world. When I decide to open a bottle of red wine I normally do not think of a Merlot as my favorite red of choice. Usually I would prefer to have a Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Borolo, Chianti, etc. However, on this particular evening I was perusing my wine cellar database and stumbled upon this Merlot.

When I only had the 12 bottle wine rack I didn’t need a wine database. Now, coupled with the numerous wine racks and old age, the memory on the flash drive isn’t always accessible at times. 🙂  Yes, we’ve all been there from time to time.

I don’t normally drink a Merlot per se, but on occasion I will indulge. But when I do partake of the Merlot grape I like it to be full bodied and worthy of a challenge to the more robust Cabernet Sauvignon. Well, the Toasted Head does a great job in this category. It opened with dark cherry, coffee, vanilla, and eucalyptus on the nose and I was quite pleased with the amounts of aroma I was getting. On the palate I got black cherry, blackberry, and mocha with a nice finish. And at $14.99 it’s a pretty good buy.

This dark ruby red Merlot was just what the doctor ordered. I had this stand alone but would not hesitate to serve this with a tenderloin steak, a Porterhouse, or any other delicious cut of beef you could find. This Merlot was robust enough to serve with game or lamb or the proverbial burger on the outdoor grill. I just love it when a Merlot thinks it’s a Cab…

P.S., sorry about the fuzzy picture (Note to self: Take picture of wine bottle before you open and sample the wine)

Cahors 2008 Les Cotes d’Olt Cuvee Tradition

There are days you are in the mood for a particular meal and on one particular night wheat pizza with all the fixin’s were the spotlight of the evening. Usually I seem to enjoy a good Zinfandel with a pizza, unless of course, I opt for a beer instead which is what I normally do. But this night I decided to go with this French wine.

With a blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot, I hemmed and hawed whether or not to open this as I have found in the past that only Zinfandels work for me with pizza. Well, this Malbec/Merlot blend was brimming with black and red fruit aromas of black cherry, red cherry, black raspberry, and hints of spice.

Jammy raspberry, black cherry, and ripe wild black raspberry flavors were found on the palate with hints of spice, tobacco, and mocha on the finish. Very reasonably priced at $8.99. A very decent wine to keep in the wine cellar when the mood strikes you for pizza.

The Goats Do Roam Wine Co. 2009 Bored Doe

I couldn’t resist picking up this bottle, I just love the “wit” 😉 The Goats Do Roam wines hail from South Africa and I’ve tasted some pretty decent wines from this area of the world. This didn’t disappoint.

Sporting 14% alcohol by volume and a blend of 49% Petit Verdot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, and 10% Cabernet Franc opens with black licorice, black berries, and tobacco on the nose. On the palate I experienced black cherry, and other black berry fruits with hints of black olive and fig.

Reasonably priced at $10.99, we paired this with a wheat pizza (yah, I’m trying to eat healthier) that was topped with Mexican cheese mix, sauteed mushrooms, onions, and red peppers. We also topped this out with 93% lean hamburg.

I have to say that this deep crimson colored wine was better the second night. I’m not sure if it was because I used the Vinturi aerator or not but suspect this was the reason it tasted better. I liked this wine and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first opened it and I wouldn’t mind keeping this as a staple in my cellar – if nothing more, it is a conversation piece.

Sunset Meadow Vineyards


Starting early in the morning and traveling through the Litchfield Hills a slight fog burned off quickly to reveal beautiful rolling hills along the secondary roads. I was in no apparent hurry as I’m trying to enjoy the “bud breaks” of the world. Upon entering the grounds here at SMV the vineyards are straight ahead and to your right.

From the parking lot is was a short walk to the tasting room. Once inside it is fairly spacious with room for 10-12 tasters at a time at the wine bar. There is a small but quaint gift shop off to the left of the wine bar. I spent about 15 minutes browsing through their wares alive with wine paraphernalia.

The wine bar staff were quite friendly. Amazingly one of the first things out of their mouths is “Would you like to do a tasting?” I could come back with “No, I just want a wine glass and oh, please stamp my wine passport.” However, I normally say energetically – “Absolutely.” And so it is with many of the wineries I visit in my eventual quest to visit all the New England wineries or at least, the vast majority of them.


The tasting fee is $6 which includes a sampling of any five wines on their tasting menu and their signature wine glass. For an additional $0.75 you can get a chocolate truffle with your red wine tasting. They also provide cheeses, sausages, and crackers with varying prices. I opted for the following wines. Dessert wines are an additional $1.50 plus tax.

Riesling: A semi-sweet wine opened with lemongrass notes on the nose with a hint of pear. The palate were of pear and apple with a mineral finish. This was a nice white wine.

Vidal Blanc: This was much better then the Riesling and the aroma was of fresh squeezed lemon with a wafting of lime on the nose. Flavors of lemon and citrus preceded a lime finish.

Sunset Blush: This wine exploded with fruit on the nose similar to having a bowl of fresh fruit sitting on the kitchen table, a very nice aroma with a hint of banana. Although their description says you’ll get peach, apricot, and plum I didn’t detect the apricot. Is it possible that my schnozzola is failing me?

Now for the two reds I tried…

Merlot: The wine was a light opaque red color and a medium bodied wine. The cherry aroma was quite pronounced as this was the only aroma I detected (is my nose off too?). I also got a cherry and pepper flavor.

New Dawn: A blend of Malbec, Merlot, Frontenac, and Landot varietals I found boysenberry and plum aromas coupled with blackberry and black cherry flavors was a more rounded wine than the Merlot. I’m kind of partial to blends though.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…

Le Coq Rouge 2010 Pays d’Oc

A blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Grenache, 10% Merlot, and 10% Syrah, this French red was chosen merely because I liked the label, nothing more – nothing less. This wine wasn’t overly complicated but it did whet the palate.

On the nose were black and red cherry, herbs, and pepper aromas. The palate found much the same but heavier on the black berry fruits. This finished with a chocolate nuance. I also thought I detected a touch of vanilla too but was very subtle, almost unnoticeable.

Given the price ($8.99, I’ve seen this as high as $12.99, guess I was lucky) this was more enjoyable as I did not have any preconceived notions about it seeing as I chose this for the label only. You can find their wines at Sacha Lichine wines to get more information on other wines they produce.

We paired this with a penne pesto and chicken – I know what you’re thinking but it went very well with the meal, so don’t be afraid to experiment with other food choices. I’ll try this wine again when I get ready to fire up the old gas grill and slap a couple of burgers (probably Bison burgers) or maybe a good steak would do well too.

Pillar Box Red, 2008

This 2008 red blend of 66% Shiraz, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 9% Merlot starts with black cherry, fig, smoke, and bacon with hints of leather and earth on the nose. On the palate I found black cherry, anise, plum, and pepper with a bit of a eucalyptus finish. I paired this with angel hair primavera and it was okay, nothing outstanding, however given my description of the aromas and flavors of this wine one would think this was a decent wine for the price ($10.99) but this did not sit very well on my back palate.

I had this stand alone the next day and the aromas and flavors waned quite a bit and was kind of flat, no get up and go, so to speak. So, I’m thinking this is a wine you need to open and finish in one sitting. This may go better with red meats than it was with the angel hair primavera, but I’ll let you experiment with this as this isn’t on my “favorites” list. I’m having a tough time with Australian wines. Sooner or later I’ll come across some good ones.

Langworthy Farm Winery

As I was traveling from Newport to Langworthy Farm Winery, the GPS directed me over the Jamestown Bridge and of course the big yellow sign alerting me of a toll ahead and seeing as these are such a nuisance I wasn’t looking forward to the experience. So I’m scrambling to get my wallet out of my back pocket and I see another sign that states “EZ Pass – All Lanes” and I immediately look just to the right of the GPS and see a white box about 3 inches square  with the words “EZ Pass” on it and said “Whoa – sweet!” to no one in particular. Alas, I was able to forget about twisting and turning to get my wallet and instead headed right for the sign that said “EZ Pass only” and was a happy camper.

Once I reached the winery it is adjacent to their Bed & Breakfast.

Inside was warm and welcome as the day was coming to an end as this was my last winery of the day and was looking forward to sampling their wines. They had two tasting fees, one for $7 for 5 wines and the other was $9 for 7 wines which included their signature wine glass. I opted for the 7 wines to taste and this is was I got out of them:

Weekapaug White: This Chardonnay had grapefruit and pear on both the nose and the palate. This wasn’t crisp nor did it pop for me, maybe it was too chilled, not sure.

Shelter Harbor Chardonnay: Now this one was a different story. It was aged in American oak for six months. I got fresh grapefruit and lime notes on the nose. This had fruitier flavors than I expected and had a smooth finish with a nice mouth feel.

Shady Harbor Pinot Blanc: This had hints of Chardonnay and Riesling and was steel fermented and then stored in oak barrels for three months. Lemongrass and ocean marshy grasses on the nose with a lemon/lime flavor. This was chilled just right and was very tasty.

Rhody Riesling: Fermented in stainless steel this wine opened with pear and citrus on the nose and continued onto the palate. A nice mouth feel at the end.

Charlestown Cabernet Franc: Aged for fourteen months in oak barrels I found strawberry and red cherry aromas with a red cherry flavor. This medium bodied wine had just a hint of pepper and earth on the finish.

Avondale Cabernet Merlot: This is a blend of 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Merlot found red berries on the nose with black currant and cassis on the palate. I also found a bit of fig on the finish, albeit subtle.

Pawcatuck River Red: Stainless steel fermented and blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot found blackberries on the nose with a blueberry flavor with hints of mocha on the finish.

Haversham Reserve Chardonnay: Aged in French oak this starts off oaky but then turns buttery (yeah, it surprised me too). I got much the same as their Shelter Harbor Chardonnay but more pronounced and could have easily had a glass of this on their outside porch

and spent the rest of the afternoon sitting there and taking in the sun’s rays watching the vines grow. Sometimes slowing down is a good thing.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…


Casa Petreo 2008 Merlot-Tempranillo

For this Christmas Eve be sure to drink responsibly, everyone who cares about you will be glad you did.

Okay, once you’ve had the Christmas Eve get together and the hot chocolate pudding is now rested in your belly it’s time to pop the cork (remember, no driving) and enjoy the rest of the evening watching your favorite Christmas specials or movies.

Open a bottle or two of the Casa Petreo as this bold and sassy Spanish red blend of 55% Merlot and 45% Tempranillo finds strawberry and raspberry notes on the nose. This has nice tannins with raspberry and mocha flavors with a tingling of mint on the finish. The best part about this wine was the $4.99 price tag and is an excellent buy, let’s say 5 corks worth!

I’m going to recommend two meals I think would go well with this wine, the first is a steak/chicken combo fajita sauteed with onions, red pepper and Italian hot peppers on a LaTortilla Factory multi-grain soft wrap.  The second meal is a cheeseburger (your choice of cheese) made with half beef/half bison with homemade sweet potato fries. Ohhh, when’s dinner? Go ahead,  relax and watch the movie Prancer.

This wine won’t break the bank leaving you with plenty of money for holiday gift shopping (although you’re running out of time) and for you last minute shoppers this is a great stocking stuffer.

Merry Christmas!

Gouveia Vineyards

The view from Gouveia Vineyards is breathtaking and one that I would love to see from the bay window of my own home.

The view from the tasting room for the livestock in the area and the hills in the distance, one thing for sure this vineyard is in a picturesque setting.

Once inside the tasting room there was ample room for everyone to either do a tasting or to just browse their gift shop which was quite extensive.

The tasting fee which includes their signature wine glass is $7, however in CT remember to add the tax bringing the total cost of the tasting fee to $7.44. This is one of the few CT wineries not to incorporate the tax into the total tasting fee instead adding on top of the fee.

Stone House White – $15: On the nose there was a lot of minerality and stone which was actually overpowering. However, the nectarine and peach flavors made up for the bouquet.

Chardonnay Steel – $18: Red grapefruit aroma was very pleasing and the grapefruit flavor was nice too but again this had too much minerality for my tastes.

Whirlwind Rose – $15: This light colored rose wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Seyval Blanc, and Chardonnay that opened with a light floral bouquet with flavors of raspberries but again there was an overabundance of minerality on the finish. Again, I’m not a fan of a mineral aftertaste.

Stone House Red – $20: A delectable blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon with black cherry and pepper aroma. The flavor was much the same as the aroma only the pepper was more pronounced and missing was the mineral aftertaste.

Merlot – $20: Red cherry and pepper both on the nose and palate with a subtle chocolate finish.

Epiphany Reserve – $25: Raspberry aroma and flavor. Rich, silky, smooth with a nice mouth feel.

The ones I didn’t try:

Oaked Chardonnay – $18

Cayuga – $18

Seyval Blanc – $15

Cabernet Franc – $22