Random Tasting Notes on Wine
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

I like to drink wine. In fact, hardly a day goes by that I don't have a glass of wine. There are wines for special occasions, and wines for every day. The main characteristic of everyday wine is that it has to be reasonable in price--so one can afford to drink it every day. In my quest for a great vin ordinaire, I have tasted many wines.

In order to keep track of which ones I like, and which ones were a disappointment, I have created this page to chronicle my wine-drinking adventures. As I write this introduction, it is October 23, 2007. I have drunk a lot of wine in my past. I intend to drink a lot more. This page will list purchases and tasting notes for wines I buy and/or drink on or after October 23, 2007. Enjoy.

May 18, 2011. We finished up a bottle of Fess Parker 12007 Chardonnay from Santa Barbara County. We got it on a manager's special at Kroger for $8.99 a bottle. I think we bought every bottle, and I wish they had had more. It was a great Chardonnay. It had a nice bouquet, nice color, and good mouth feel. There was no sourness as one sometimes finds. Maria and I both liked it. Worth another purchase.

On October 16, 2010, we hosted a picnic in the backyard. One of the treats was a wine brought by Abigail from Crios de Susana Balbo/ It was a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Bonarda. The wine is from Argentina. The vintage was 2008. For such a young red, the wine was exceptionally pleasing. It was a dark ruby color, with no hint of purple. The Syrah and Bonarda blend was complex, with some tannins and no harshness. The wine had great legs. I finished the bottle on the third day it had been open. The wine was wonderfully flavorful on day three, as it was on day two. (On the day I first tasted it it had already been opened almost twenty-four hours.) This is a hearty red, and I highly recommend you give it a try.

On July 1, 2009 we opened a bottle of 2008 Mulderbosch Rose wine. We purchased it at Specs for under $11.00. It was a pale red. It had no bouquet. Taste was unremarkable. There was no fruit or berry accent. It was a little better as it warmed up, but nothing to write home about.

On June 27, 2009 I purchased three rose wines, based on an interesting wine column in the Houston Chronicle. . Because he rated the 2008 Les Mugues Balandran highest, we started with it. The wine had a great rose color. It was not too pale, and not too dark. We got it at Spec's for $10.70. Surprisingly in a wine in this price range, it had a subtle bouquet. Reminded me of raspberries. Very nice. The bouquet was present for each sip. The taste was balanced. It was not too sweet, and had no tannins. Very typical of good roses. Very, very nice.

On November 17, 2007, we purchased a 2006 Chalone Vineyard (Monterey County) Chardonnay. Cost was $8.32. I can't remember where we bought it. It sat (laid) in the refrigerator until June 27, 2008. I opened it to drink with some take-out chinese from Pei Wei. I was very impressed. The wine is a clear light straw color. It has a slight bouquet upon swirling vigorously. The taste is typically varietal. There is a medium fulness in the mouth. There is a nice aftertaste typical of a nice chardonnay. Not exactly buttery, but as close as you can get for eight bucks. Slight presence of peach/pear. A great bargain for the price. Very suitable as a party wine, and a nice sipping wine for sitting out by the pond. The wine was still excellent on day two and day three.

On October 23, 2007, I purchased a bottle of 2004 Castle Rock Cabernet Sauvignon. (Alexander Valley) from Specs. Cash price was $9.36. I purchased it because Robert Wallis told me about a Castle Rock pinot noir that he thought was a good value at $12.70 and I wanted to see if the cab was also nice. I opened it on October 23, 2007. The cork was short, but with a nice "winery" smell. The color of the wine was deep red. Legs were present, but not prominent. At first, I thought the wine had no legs, but by the third sip I could see them. Still, it was not impressive in that department. Slight varietal bouquet, but there was bouquet. Some tannins. Short, but nice, finish. It felt a tad thin in the mouth. However, the overall effect was very pleasant. A good value for the money, and an impressive label. In the "under ten dollar" category, I rate it a 88. It is in no way "robust," but it does have a bouquet, which is rare in this price category. Non-red wine drinkers would probably like this because of the smoothness caused by the lack of pronounced tannins. Also, the wine was still very nice on day two (and three) of drinking.

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On October 23, 2007, I purchased a bottle of 2005 Windy Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon (Central Coast). It was $8.82.
I tasted this wine for the first time on October 31st, 2007. Cynthia, my former paralegal came over with her daughter, Maddie, so we could celebrate Halloween. For the kids, that means candy. For me, that means red wine. Maria, Cynthia and I shared a bottle of this wine. This was a great bottle of cab. It had a slight bouquet, great legs, and a moderate fullness in the mouth. The color was very acceptable. I was totally impressed by this wine. It is rated a 96 in the under ten dollar category. I forced myself to leave a sip for the second day's evaluation, but I am already sure I will be buying another bottle. It really was that good.
Note on day two: This wine was virtually unchanged overnight. It still had bouquet, great color, legs and tannins. Very nice. Wow.

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On October 23, 2007, I purchased a bottle of 2005 Hahn Estates Cabernet Sauvignon (Central Coast) from Specs. Cash price was $10.99. The in-store write-up made it sound interesting. I tasted it for the first time on November 2, 2007. There is little bouquet. The color is a dark red, with just the slightest hint of purple. Very few legs. The wine, however, feels full in the mouth. Nicely balanced tannin, but few complexities. This is a very nice wine, with no major faults, but with very few strong virtues, either. This wine is over ten dollars (barely) and I give it a rating of 88.

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On October 23, 2007, I purchased a bottle of 2005 Oak Grove Cabernet Sauvignon (California). It claims to be a reserve. Cost was $6.99. I opened the bottle on November 5, 2007. The wine is very nice. Of course, there is no bouquet, but the color is a nice red and the tannins are present, but not rough. Although there are no legs, the wine did not feel thin in the mouth. The second day tasting was about the same as the first. This wine is a nice value at $6.99, but it has no outstanding characteristics. In the "under ten dollar" category, I rate it an 83.

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On October 23, 2007, I purchased a bottle of 2005 Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon (California) by Robert Mondavi. Cost was $5.99. I opened it on November 17, 2007. It had a slight bouquet, medium bouquet, a nice rich red color and nice tannins. It opened up nicely in the glass. I was very pleased with this wine, given the price. For six dollar, it is hard to imagine doing much better with a red. The wine lost little character on days two or three. In the under ten dollar class, I rate this wine an 89.

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On October 23, 2007, I purchased a bottle of 2006 Castle Rock Pinot Noir (Sonoma County) from Specs. Cash price was $12.70. I bought this wine on the recommendation of Robert Wallis as a nice everyday pinot.

On October 23, 2007, I purchased a bottle of Crios Rose of Malbec from Specs for $8.99. This is my second bottle of this rose. Robert Wallis recommended it, and I really liked the first bottle. Stay tuned for complete tasting notes.

On October 23, 2007, I purchased a bottle of 2006 Edna Valley Vineyard Pinot Noir (San Luis Obispo County). It was $18.99. Robert Wallis really likes this pinot, although he says the wine can vary from bottle to bottle.

On October 23, 2007, I purchased a bottle of NV Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon (California). It cost $5.30. I have had several bottles of this in the past. It is a good party wine. That means one can afford to serve several bottles at a large party, and not be embarrassed by the quality. Definitely a nice buy. More detailed tasting notes to come.

On November 16, 2007, we received a 2005 Sonoma-Cutrer (Russian River Ranches) Chardonnay. It was a gift.

On November 17, 2007, I purchased a 2006 Chateau St. Jean (Sonoma) Chardonnay. Cost was $9.99.

On November 17, 2007, I purchased a 2005 Bogle Vineyards Chardonnay. Cost was $7.49.

On November 17, 2007, we purchased a 2006 Chalone Vineyard (Monterey County) Chardonnay. Cost was $8.32.

On December 15, 2007, I purchased a 2005 Haywood Vintner's Select California Chardonnay from Spec's for $5.31.

On December 15, 2007, I purchased a 2005 Hogue Chardonnay (Columbia Valley) from Spec's for $6.61.

On December 15, 2007, I purchased a 2005 Sutter Home Cardonnay (California) from Spec's for $4.95.

On December 15, 2007, I purchased a 2006 Chateau St. Jean Sonoma Chardonnay from Spec's for $9.41.

May 24, 2008: In honor of Memorial Day Weekend, I opened a bottle of Domaine Chandon 1999 Brut. It was wonderful. I'm not sure what the wine retails for, but it was definitely a cut above the Korbel Brut I drink as everyday sparkling wine. Crisp. Great color. Wonderful bubbles.This is a wine worth another bottle. In fact, due to work, we didn't finish the bottle off until June 1. And it still had fizz.

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