2008 Santi Ripasso della Valpolicella Classico Superiore Solane – $11.37

This has been a house favorite when it comes to a low priced, good quality, Italian Ripasso wine.  Granted it’s not as big and rich as most Ripasso wines, but it also doesn’t cost $30 or more.  This packs plenty of quality into an $11 bottle.  This is perfect with pizza or a week night pasta dish.  We’re trying out a new pasta dish tonight and I think this will pair perfectly.


The wine is a deep ruby color.  There are earthy cherries, licorice, baking spices, fresh violets, and a touch of dried herbs on the very appealing nose.  This is medium body with soft, ripe tannins and good acidity.  Nice spicy, earthy, fruit dominate the palate with some dried herbs and spicy oak providing nice depth.  Decent length on the finish which again shows a bit of excess spicy oak.  Not the biggest or richest Ripasso out there, but for a touch over $11, this is a QPR keeper.  (88 pts)




We made a Fresh Tomato, Sausage, and Pecorino Pasta dish for dinner.  This is a Cooking Light recipe that is available at http://bit.ly/RXueAr


We used a hotter brand of sausage so the touch of richness in the Solane Ripasso held up well to the dish.  By the way, the dish is fantastic and is a very nice way to use any excess fresh tomatoes out of the garden.  As an added bonus, other than cooking the pasta, the dish takes less than 15 minutes to prepare.




2005 Copain Syrah Madder Lake – $25.00

It has been a couple years since I had a bottle of this wine.  Every bottle I had was good, but I always felt there was more “under the hood” and additional cellar time would help bring it out.  This is my last bottle of three I originally purchased.  I sure hope the five year wait was worthwhile.  This was Copain’s lowest priced single vineyard offering at that time.  This is from LakeCounty on California’s NorthCoast.  The 2006 vintage, which I still have in the cellar, was Copain’s last offering from this vineyard.


The wine is a medium ruby color with some brick at the edge.  The very nice nose on the wine has smoke, blackberries, fresh ground espresso, dark chocolate, meat juices, black pepper, and a bit of earthiness.  The wine is medium body with well integrated tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the wine has nice spicy, peppery berries and some earthiness leading into a very nice, lingering finish.  This is in a prime drinking window right now, but should hold for a couple of years.  (91 pts)




2005 Treasure Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Stags Leap District – $24.69

This is another wine from the négociant California winery under the 3 Finger Wine Company umbrella.  These are generally very nice, value priced wines.  Most of the grapes are excess purchased from much wineries that were destined to go into more expensive wines.  I had a bottle of this a few months ago and felt it was very nice.  This should go very nicely with some juicy, Saturday burgers, hot off the grill.


The wine is a deep, dark garnet to purple color.  The outstanding nose has cassis, dried herbs, cigar box, licorice, minerals, and hints of baking spices, leather, and wildflowers.  This is medium bodied with fairly solid, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Nice rich fruit and spice with dried herbs dominate the palate with just a touch of earthiness in the background.  This has a fairly long finish full of fruit and spice with the dried herbs lingering seemingly forever.  This is an outstanding bottle of wine that I imagine was destined for one of the big name, high scoring wines from the area.  You can sense the grapes in this wine were grown with the utmost case.  Glad I have another bottle, hopefully I can sit on it for a few years to see how this wine evolves.  (95 pts)




2004 Cellers Can Blau Montsant – $11.99

Needed some red wine to deglaze a pan and to add to a pot roast.  I’ve been wanting to open one of my remaining bottles of this for a while, this should work fine.  I’m actually looking forward to trying it again, I’ve liked the bottles I’ve had over the last several years.  This is a blend of  Carinena, Syrah and Garnacha, or as most Americans know them, Carignane, Syrah, and Grenache.


The wine is a fairly dark maroon color.  The nose has earthy berries, pine needles, well worn leather, cherries, meat juices, black pepper, dried herbs, underbrush, and a touch of licorice.  This is medium body with soft, fully integrated tannins and very nice acidity.  On the palate the wine has ripe, plush berries with a nice earthy overlay and dried herbs.  The finish is fairly long and very smooth.  This wine has aged very gracefully.  There are no rough edges or any out of balance elements on this well aged, bargain priced red from Spain.  (90 pts)




2007 Big Basin Vineyards Odeon Black Ridge Vineyard – $41.00

I’ve loved all the BigBasin wines I’ve had over the last couple of years.  I think they are one big score from one of the big wine publications from appearing on most wine drinkers’ radar.  Bradley Brown’s Rhone grape based reds are usually very big, ripe, and spicy that push the alcohol levels to the limit.  That said, the wines are generally big enough they can easily support elevated alcohol.


This is a blend of 60% Syrah and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Santa CruzMountains area on California’s massive CentralCoast.


This was decanted for about 3 hours.   The wine is a deep, dark, purple color.  The very deep and interesting nose had cassis, blackberries, black cherries, baking spices, licorice, fresh ground espresso, dark chocolate, dried herbs, minerals, and some toasty oak.  This is full bodied with a nice tannic backbone and good acidity.  The wine explodes on your palate coating it with spicy fruit, dark chocolate, and dried herbs.  There is a some nice, spicy oak providing some background “seasoning”.  The wine has a long, lingering finish with just enough toast oak to add interest without over powering the fruit and dried herbs.  This is a big, ripe, rich wine that perfectly conceals the alcohol.  This wine has years of life ahead of it, but it is delicious today with some air.  (94 pts)




We had the Big Basin Odeon with a very tasty pot roast with rice and veggies.  They tasted fantastic together.





Mailing Lists




Helioterra is a new discovery for me.  I met the owner/winemaker, Anne Hubatch, when she came back to visit her family in Wisconsin.  We tasted through her whole line up and I was very impressed.  I recommend getting in on the ground floor of this exciting Oregon winery.  Their next release is coming shortly, for more information, visit http://bit.ly/Q5TmSl



Elyse Winery

This is Elyse’s 25th year.  You can help them celebrate the momentous occasion.  They are offering 25% off all purchases made through September 25th.  I have been a big fan of the winery since my first visit there in 2000.  They make some of my favorite, mid-priced, red wines.  I think their Cabernets, Zinfandels, Petite Sirahs, and Rhone blends are all very good to outstanding.  Visit http://www.elysewinery.com/25.html for more information.



Ledge Vineyards

This is one of my latest “finds”.  Mark Adams is the owner/winemaker for this family owned winery.  He releases one wine, and the grapes all come from the family owned vineyard.  The vineyard is about 7 acres currently and is located in Paso Robles not far from Denner and the James Berry Vineyards.  Mark is also been the assistant winemaker at Saxum where he has worked since 2004.  I highly recommend getting in on the ground floor of this exciting list.  Visit http://www.ledgevineyards.com/index.php for more information or to join the list.



Remember to support your local wine store!




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.