Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona Toscana Rosso IGT 2007- Another wine under $10

April 26, 2010 Daily DrinkersWines under $10  One comment

Another day, another wine under $10!  I've really been into the Tuscan blends lately because they offer a nice contrast from the big Napa Cabernets.  This particular wine is medium bodied and has a nice raspberry nose that's not typical of Tuscan wine.

I'm a big fan of the 2006 Monte Antico Rosso, but this wine has something different.  Whereas the Monte Antico is very dry and slightly tart, this wine is soft, fruity and smooth.  Although there is a hint of oak, the focus for the Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Toscana Rosso is really on the fruit.

The Italians are big on classifications and the IGT or Indicazione Geografica Tipica classification denotes wine from a specific location (in this case, Toscana or Tuscany), and is a step up from typical Italian table wine or Vino da

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Domaine Carneros Brut 2006- Celebrate in Style for $19.95

April 25, 2010 Cellar WorthySpecial Occasions  One comment

I've been in love with this wine since I first had it last year at the winery in Carneros.  The winery itself is straight out of Champagne France and the wine follows suit.  This shouldn't come as a surprise, as it's made by Taittinger, one of the biggest Champagne houses in France.  If you can make it to Napa, spend the morning here- the surroundings are spectacular and the sparkling wine makes a perfect start to a day of wine tasting.

The Chardonnay used in this wine contributes a richness and the Pinot Noir a complexity that suggests it will age very well.  It's dry, smooth and full and really shows off the uniqueness of the Carneros appellation.  The finish has a nice tartness and a distinct taste of orange peel.  Really nice.

Sparkling wine tends to be consumed in the U.S. only

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Update from Dennis Cakebread

April 24, 2010 High End Values  No comments

Dennis Cakebread, SVP of Sales and Marketing at Cakebread Cellars was nice enough to comment on our last post further explaining where their grapes come from.  Here is the full text of his comment:

"Thanks for the nice comments, and glad you enjoyed our Chardonnay. And just to clarify the comment on our vineyards, while we started with all purchased fruit back in 1973, one of the strategic decisions we made about 15 years ago was to start acquiring vineyards and signing long term contracts. All of our wines could now be labeled estate, though we only own about 1,000 acres gross with about 360 acres in vineyards."

-Dennis Cakebread

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Cakebread Chardonnay 2008- Always a great value $34.95

April 22, 2010 High End Values  One comment

I had an unexpected surprise tonight and no, it wasn't my 20 minute conversation with a former American Idol's intoxicated wife, although that was a surprise.  It was that the Chardonnay served while conducting that conversation, at a big convention's opening cocktail hour, was Cakebread (classy right?).  Normally you get a $5 grocery store wine like Mondavi Woodbridge, but tonight was special!

Cakebread is one of my perennial favorites and the 2008 vintage doesn't disappoint.   It's a great mix of fresh green apple flavors with a great mouthcoating buttery texture.  It has new oak, with with a balance that so many California Chardonnays are missing.

I had the pleasure of visiting Cakebread Winery last year and can tell you firsthand that they take their wine very seriously.  We

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5 Tips for Picking a Great Wine at a Great Price

April 21, 2010 How To  One comment

How many times has this happened to you: You're standing in a wine shop trying to decide what to pick up for the weekend and the sheer quantity of wine becomes overwhelming.  So you just grab something that's on sale and end up disappointed.  When I first got into wine, this happened to me all the time, so I put together these helpful tips for picking great wine at great prices.  I hope they come in handy.

1.  Go with what you know- Put me in front of a store full of California Cabernet and I will be able to find you the very best value every time.  Fill that same store with French Burgundy and, chances are, I will come out with a loser.  Likewise, if you've enjoyed the wine of a specific vintner in the past, gravitate toward their wines.  They

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Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet 2007- Another great wine under $10

April 19, 2010 Daily DrinkersWines under $10  No comments

Sunday is leftover wine night at this household and tonight we have a third of a bottle of 2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet and the same amount of 2007 Caymus Cabernet.  The Columbia Crest has been open since Thursday and it has only gotten better each day I've tasted it.  It's very rare for an entry level Cabernet to get any better after the first day, let alone the fourth, but that's why Columbia Crest isn't making average wines.

Much has been said about Columbia Crest on these pages in recent posts, so I will keep this relatively short.  The 2007 Grand Estates Cabernet is aromatic and pours a dark purple/red.  It's almost thick in the mouth- a great texture for a wine in this price range.   It has a little tannic bite that would suggest it will actually get better with a

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2007 Caymus Cabernet: Incredible Value at $59.95

April 18, 2010 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

How can a $60 wine be an incredible value?  When it's Caymus Cabernet.

I'm sitting outside under the California heater on a beautiful spring evening and I'm trying to come up with a reason why the 2007 Caymus isn't the most enjoyable wine I've ever had.  I'm willing to officially crown this the best California Cabernet I've had under $100.  And it's $40 under $100!

2007 is really proving to be a great vintage for Napa Cabernet.  It's approachable early, but has the structure to age.  I had the 2006 Caymus soon after it was released and it was good, but really needed to be laid back for 5 years before it was really ready to drink.  The '07 tastes amazing now and I have every reason to believe it's only going to get better.

This wine is unique.  The nose is complex and warm with

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2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay- Always a Winner $7.99

April 16, 2010 Daily DrinkersWines under $10  One comment

Columbia Crest is well known for making solid wine at great prices and the 2008 Grand Estates Chardonnay is just that.  My three favorite regions for Chardonnay are Washington, Monterey and Santa Barbara County because their relatively cool climates produce a focused fruity wine.  The great thing about Columbia Crest is their consistency: they produce great wines year in and year out.  We had been drinking this wine as our "house" Chardonnay sine the 2006 vintage and and we finally ran out of the '07, so we decided to try the '08.

Much like the '07 this has a nice mineral nose with the classic apple scents.  It tastes rich but focused and finishes with a lingering clean aftertaste.  This is very well balanced with a nice buttery mouthfeel but it's not as though they pumped liquid oak

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Trinitas Cabernet 2006: Oakville plus Howell Mountain should not equal $25

April 14, 2010 Cellar WorthyHigh End Values  No comments

It's a Tuesday, but I still found a reason to celebrate (and no it wasn't that I found out I owe Uncle Sam an ungodly amount of money).  So I opened the 2006 Trinitas Cabernet- a bottle I've been excited about trying since I had their Chardonnay a few months ago.

Oakville is arguably the most sought after AVA in the United States, if not the entire world, and limited supply plus high demand should equal high prices. Throw a little Howell Mountain into the mix and you have a recipe for a high priced, premium Cabernet.  This wine hits on the premium but not the price.

Grown on the lower elevations of Howell Mountain on the east side of Oakville, the 2006 Trinitas Cabernet Sauvignon has chocolaty, almost sweet Oakville characteristics combined with the elegance and focus of Howell

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2007 Chappellet Mountain Cuvee- WS92 Napa Bordeaux Blend under $20!

April 11, 2010 Cellar Worthy  One comment

I opened this bottle on Monday because I've recently received a bunch of emails promoting a 92 point Wine Spectator review for an under $20 wine, and I had to try it.  On Monday, it tasted good, but compared to other similarly rated Bordeaux blends, I was a bit underwhelmed and decided not to review it on Nickel and Dime Wine.

We didn't finish the bottle on Monday, so I pumped it and decided to give it a try again on Friday, to see if anything had changed.  Wow- what a difference 5 days makes!  On Monday, the nose was closed and the wine tasted fruity but tight.  On Friday, a sweet, expressive mountain nose had emerged and the wine opened up into a juicy, complex, amazing value.  This goes to show you how much a wine can change with extended exposure to oxygen, whether through aging,

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