Category Archives: 60 Second Reviews

60 Second Wine Reviews — Domaine du Pégau CdP

A few quick thoughts on the the 2012 Domaine du Pégau “Cuvée Réservée” Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

The Geekery

According to Harry Karis is his The Chateauneuf-du-Pape Wine Book, even though Domaine du Pégau is a relatively young estate, being founded in 1987, its roots date back to the 17th century when the Féraud family first planted vines in the area.

In the mid 20th century, Elvira (a self-trained winemaker) and Leon Féraud started an estate known as Domaine Féraud. Their youngest son, Paul, ventured out on his own and started Domaine du Pégau with his daughter, Laurence. Prior to joining her father in 1987, Laurence studied winemaking under the tutelage of Paul-Vincent Avril of Clos des Papes.

The name “Pégau” comes from the ancient wine jugs that have been discovered in excavations around papal estates in Avignon. Jeff Leve of The Wine Cellar Insider notes that Paul and Laurence pronounce the name of their estate differently with Paul pronouncing it as “Puh-Gow” and Laurence as “Pay-Go”.

The Cuvée Réservée is typically a blend of 80% Grenache, 6% Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre and 10% of the other permitted grape varieties such as Cinsaut, Counoise, Muscardin, Piquepoul noir, Terret noir and Vaccarèse.

The Wine

High intensity nose. Very evocative mix of dark fruit (blackberry and plum), peppery spice and savory smoke notes.

On the palate, those dark fruits carry through with medium plus tannins framing a lush, velvety mouthfeel that is quite full-bodied. The medium plus acidity adds a juicy component to the fruit and really highlights the gorgeous pepper spice. Coupled with the smoke, these notes linger for a long, minute plus finish.

The Verdict

By Chindukulkarni - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, on Wikimedia Commons

This wine had gorgeous savory pepper notes.

Fantastic wine that more than complimented the scrumptious steak I had it with. Even with out the food, this wine would have held its own as a meal in itself.

It was well worth the restaurant mark up but at around $60-70 for a bottle retail, its a fabulous Chateauneuf that more than delivers for the money.

60 Second Wine Reviews — Woodward Canyon Artist Series

Woodward Canyon Artist SeriesSome quick thoughts on the 2013 Woodward Canyon Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Geekery

Founded by Rick & Darcy Small in 1981, Woodward Canyon was the second modern-era commercial winery in Walla Walla (after Leonetti Cellar) and was one of the driving forces in getting the Walla Walla Valley recognized as an AVA in 1984.

According to Paul Gregutt in Washington Wines and Wineries, the Artist Series line of Cabernet Sauvignon was first released in 1995. Since 2003, Kevin Mott has overseen winemaking duties after stints at Canoe Ridge and Sagelands (when those wineries were owned by the Chalone Wine Group).

The 2013 edition of the Artist Series was sourced from 7 vineyards–the Woodward Canyon Estate and Summit View Vineyard in Walla Walla, Champoux Vineyard and Discovery Vineyard in the Horse Heaven Hills, Charbonneau Vineyard and Sagemoor Vineyards in the Columbia Valley AVA and Spring Creek Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills.

The wine is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Around 3700 cases were made.

The Wine

Medium plus intensity nose. Big dark fruit with dark chocolate notes. With a little air, a mix of sweet herbal notes like marjoram and fennel come out.

Photo by Susan Slater. Released on Wikimedia Commons under  CC BY-SA 4.0

Sweet herbs like fennel come out in this complex and multi-layered Washington wine


On the palate those dark fruits come through being more defined as black cherry and black berry. The dark chocolate note still lingers but there isn’t any overt vanilla and oak spice. The wine is full bodied with medium plus acidity and a lengthy finish.

The Verdict

This is one of the benchmark standards for Walla Walla Cab and it shows. The acidity gives lift and freshness to the lush dark fruit, adding a savory, juicy component.

It’s a young wine that is drinking great now but will probably continue to develop beautifully for another 5 years. At around $55-60, it is well worth the money for this gorgeous Cab.

60 Second Beer Reviews — Allagash Curieux

Some quick thoughts on the Allagash Curieux Bourbon barrel-age tripel.

The Geekery

Allagash was found in 1995 by Rob Tod in Portland, Maine with the goal of producing traditional, Belgian-style ales. One of the earmarks of the brewery is their commitment to sustainability which includes decking out the brewery with solar panels, sourcing their materials locally and fanatical reusing of waste materials. In 2015, Allagash touted that they were able divert 99.75% of their waste away from the landfill.

In 2004, the Curieux was the brewery’s first foray into barrel-aging brews (a phenomena that has now entered the wine industry). The beer spends seven weeks aging in Jim Beam bourbon barrels before being blended with some fresh, unaged Tripel prior to bottling.

The Beer

Shy nose. Little straw but not very malt driven and no overt Bourbon notes. There is a little citrus but it is hard to pull out.

The lightness carries through to the palate and while there is some vanilla and spice with a little cereal malt, overall this taste far more like a lager than a tripel. It has some sweetness but it fairly balanced.

The Verdict

By Conrad.Irwin - Own work, Public Domain, on Wikimedia Commons

Lightness is the overwhelming theme with this beer. It makes me think of starting the day with a light cereal like Cheerios.

I was very surprised at how light it is for something with 11% ABV–much less something that is barrel aged. Coupled with the really shy and light aromatics, it’s not a beer that beckons my heart like other Belgian tripels such as Tripel Karmeliet, Westmalle or even Chimay Cinq Cents.

If I was at a bar that had it on draft, I would get a glass because I can see its light, lager-like character working well with certain pub fare. But at around $20-23 for a 750 ml, its not a beer I’d feel compelled to buy.

60 Second Whiskey Reviews – Hakushu 12

Some quick thoughts on the Hakushu 12 Single Malt Whiskey.

The Geekery

According to Dave Broom’s The World Atlas of Whisky, Hakushu was built in 1973 in the Japanese Southern Alps among the forests that surround Mt. Kaikomagatake.

The distillery is owned by Beam Suntory where it is part of a portfolio that includes the Japanese whiskey brands of Hibiki and Yamazaki as well as Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Knob Creek bourbon, Bowmore and Laphroaig Scotches and Courvoisier cognac among many other liquor brands.

Additionally, Suntory owns the management rights to the 3rd Growth St. Julien estate of Château Lagrange and 4th Growth St. Julien estate of Château Beychevelle as well as the German estate of Weingut Robert Weil in Rheingau.

Hakushu production emphasizes variety with the distillery using 4 different types of barley, both brewer’s and distiller’s yeast as well as six pairs of different sized stills with various lyne arm angles. The distillery uses mostly ex-bourbon American oak barrels with some Japanese barrels and French wine casks. All this variety gives Hakushu’s blenders a wide palette of flavors to work with.

The Whiskey

Medium plus intensity. Very grassy but with a sweetness to it. It’s almost like someone sprinkled sugar on freshly cut wet grass. There is some subtle almond smokiness that rounds out the bouquet.

By Copyright © National Land Image Information (Color Aerial Photographs), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Attribution, on Wikimedia commons

Aerial shot of the large Hakushu Distillery

On the palate, the almond smokiness comes to the forefront but it is surprisingly less sweet than what the nose would have you expect. It still has some sweetness with an apple fruit note but no where as sweet as the Glenfiddich 18 that I recently reviewed or many Glenmorangie and Balvenie offerings.

The Verdict

This whiskey has a fair amount of complexity and a lot to offer. At around $80-85, you are paying a premium but this is one of the better values in Japanese whiskeys (compare to say the Yamakazi 12 at $120+) so if you want to dip your toes in this area, it’s worth checking out.

60 Second Wine Reviews – Winzer Krems Blauer Zweigelt

Some quick thoughts on the 2011 Winzer Krems Blauer Zweigelt St. Severin.

The Geekery

Winzer Krems is a co-operative based in the Kremstal region of Austria. Founded in 1938, today the co-op includes 962 growers farming over 2400 acres of grapes.

According to Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes, Blauer Zweigelt is a 1922 crossing of Blaufränkisch and Saint Laurent. Through its parent Blaufränkisch, Blauer Zweigelt is a grandchild of Pinot and Gouais blanc and niece/nephew of Auxerrois.

Covering more than 16,000 acres in Austria, Zweigelt can be found in limited plantings in Germany, United Kingdom, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Canada. In the United States, there are a few producers in Ohio, Pennsylvania and the Snake River Valley AVA of Idaho experimenting with the variety. It has also been a beneficiary of global warming with increased plantings in the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido that is considered a wine region to watch out for in 2018.

This bottling of Winzer Krems’ Zweigelt is dedicated to St. Severinus of Noricum, the Austrian saint who, according to legend, lived and worked in the vineyards of Krems during the later years of his life.

The Wine

Medium intensity nose. Fresh and fruity like red cherries and blueberries. There is a little green note like tomato leaf around the edges.

On the palate is medium-plus acidity that adds juiciness and freshness to the fruit. A little bit of spice pops up to add some interest.

The Verdict

By Jerry Stratton / http://hoboes.com/Mimsy, CC BY-SA 4.0 on Wikimedia Commons

Pair this wine with something on the grill.

At around $12-15, this is a fun BBQ wine. Medium body with moderate alcohol, the recurring theme is freshness which makes its an easy wine to kick back and drink without wearing down the palate.

A good bet for someone who wants something a little bit bigger than Pinot noir but not quite as jammy or spicy as what a Malbec can get.

60 Second Wine Reviews – Heidsieck Monopole Blue Top

Some quick thoughts on the Heidsieck & Co Monopole ‘Blue Top’ NV Brut.

The Geekery

Heidsieck & Co is one of three Heidsieck brands of Champagne that can trace its origins to the 18th century German trader Florens-Louis Heidsieck. Founded in 1785, disagreements among Heidsieck’s heirs lead Christian Heidsieck, Florens-Louis’ nephew, to break away to start his own company in 1834 that eventually became Piper-Heidsieck. A little later, Charles Camille Heidsieck, a great-nephew of Florens-Louis, started Champagne Charles Heidsieck in 1851.

Heidsieck & Co Monopole changed ownership numerous times throughout the years. Today it is owned by Vranken-Pommery as part of a portfolio of brands that include Champagne Vranken, Champagne Pommery and Champagne Charles Lafitte.

Despite having “Monopole” in its name, Heidsieck is a négociant brand sourcing its grapes from the 34,000 hectares of shared Vranken-Pommery vineyards with an additional 2000 hectares of contract grapes.

According to Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine, the NV Blue Top Brut is usually a blend of 70% Pinot noir, 20% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Meunier. I could not find information on dosage or time spent aging on the lees.

The Wine

Photo from Wikimedia commons by Xocolatl. Released under CC BY-SA 4.0

A fair amount of apple strudel notes going on with this Champagne. But rather than a freshly baked strudel, it taste more like a Pillsbury toaster strudel.

Medium intensity nose. Lots of tree fruits like fresh cut apples and white peach. There is a little pastry toast but its subtle like a Pillsbury toaster strudel.

On the palate, it’s noticeably sweet so it’s probably has 11-12 g/l dosage. The apple notes come through the most, tasting like very ripe honey crisp apples. Creamy mouthfeel with some lingering floral notes on the finish that add a little bit of complexity.

The Verdict

A pleasant and easy drinking Champagne that’s essentially a less toasty version of Veuve Clicquot. Considering that the Heidsieck & Co Monopole ‘Blue Top’ NV Brut is in the $33-37 range while the Veuve Yellow Label is usually in the $42-50 range, the Blue Top is an undoubtedly better value.

60 Second Whiskey Reviews — Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold

Some quick thoughts on the Dalwhinnie Winter’s Gold Single Malt.

The Geekery
According to Charles MacLean’s Whiskypedia, Dalwhinnie is the coldest distillery in Scotland with an average annual temperature of 42.8 °F (6 °C).

Founded in 1897, Dalwhinnie was sold in 1905 to American distiller Cook & Bernheimer, making it the first Scottish distillery under foreign ownership. The advent of US Prohibition in 1919 ushered its return to Scottish hands. Through mergers and acquisitions, the distillery changed owners multiple times over the years with it eventually ending up in the Diego stable where it is part of the Classic Malts series representing the Highlands.

The Winter’s Gold is a non-age statement bottling sourced from spirit distilled during the heart of winter between October and March. Like others in the Dalwhinnie line, it is crafted with lightly peated malt from Roseisle and water sourced from Lochan Doire Uaine in the Drumochter Hills. The whiskey is aged in mostly ex-bourbon barrels.

A unique expression, the distillery recommends enjoying the whiskey straight from the freezer.

The Whiskey
(Room temperature) Fruity nose, like candied citrus and honey. Some subtle oak spice. No note of peat.

(Freezer) Still very fruity but instead of citrus there is a mix of apple and tropical fruit. The spice completely disappears.

By Andrew Wood, CC BY-SA 2.0 on Wikimedia commons

The Dalwhinnie distillery is often snowbound during the winter.

The palate at room temperature is sweet with the honey and fruit being very prevalent. The peat appears finally but is slight. Very light in body at 43% ABV.

From the freezer, everything gets more muted except, paradoxically, the peat which becomes more of a floral heather peat like a very lightly peated Highland Park.

The Verdict

An interesting dram but I’m not sold on the “enjoy from the freezer” marketing angle and preferred it at room temp. It follows the typical light & sweet Dalwhinnie style and would be a good “Breakfast Scotch”.

At around $45-50, it offers a decent value but, personally, I think the jump to their 15 year in the $70-75 range delivers a lot more depth.

60 Second Wine Reviews – Armani Colle Ara Pinot Grigio

Some quick thoughts on the 2015 Albino Armani Colle Ara Pinot grigio.

The Geekery

Albino Armani is a family owned winery in the Alto Adige region with a long history dating back to 1607. The current steward, also named Albino Armani, was interviewed by Elisabetta Tosi of Palate Press in 2016, and has earned the reputation of being an adventurer both in the vineyards and out.

The Colle Ara Pinot grigio comes from the calcareous soil of terraced vineyards located within the Lessinia Natural Park in the province of Verona. The wine is unique among Pinot grigios in that the pink skin grape spends 3 days cold soaking before pressing and fermentation.

The Wine

High intensity aromatics that is a mix of tropical and citrus fruits. Very ripe melon, papaya and mangosteen with some citrus and apple blossom floral notes as well. The color is richer than typical Pinot grigio, almost like an oaky Chardonnay, but there isn’t the slightest hint of oak on the nose.

On the palate there is a lot of texture and weight. Here is where I feel the phenolics from skin contact but there isn’t any bitterness or astringency. If anything the weight deepens the sense of ripeness with the fruit. Once again, this Pinot grigio feels very Chardonnay-like even though the flavors are clearly that of an unoaked Pinot grigio.

The Verdict

By Mark Smith - Flickr: Pinot Grigio prior to harvest, vintage 2012, CC BY 2.0

The 3 days of cold soak and skin contact for the pink skinned Pinot grigio grape adds a lot of depth and texture to the Colle Ara.


There is a lot of depth and complexity going on with this Pinot grigio. At around $17-20, it is a bit pricier than your typical Pinot grigio but I think it is well worth it. This is clearly a top-shelf Pinot grigio and when you compare it to the most well-known “luxury Pinot grigio” on the US market, Santa Margherita, there is no contest.

While Santa Margherita is the standard bearer of the “light-bodied and watery patio-sippers” stereotype of Italian Pinot grigio, the Albino Armani Colle Ara is a Pinot grigio for red wine drinkers and anyone who craves depths and substance with their whites.

60 Second Wine Reviews – Paringa Sparkling Shiraz

Some quick thoughts on the 2015 Paringa Sparkling Shiraz.

The Geekery

I will admit that this one had me a bit baffled in several ways. First off, there are apparently two Paringa wineries in Australia making very different wines.

According to James Halliday’s Wine Atlas of Australia, a Paringa Estate was founded in 1985 by former school teacher Lindsay McCall who has established himself as one of the best winemakers on the Mornington Peninsula. But this does not seem to be our sparkling Shiraz producer.

That honor goes to a Paringa winery located in South Australia that is currently ran by David and Dena Hickinbotham. This winery doesn’t seem to merit an entry in Halliday’s Wine Atlas or in the Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine.

The 2015 Sparkling Shiraz is sourced from vineyards in South Australia. The tasting note doesn’t say the sparkling wine production method but does note that the wine has 40.6 g/l residual sugar–putting it in the Demi-Sec category of sweetness.

The Wine

Medium intensity nose. Dark berry fruits (plums and blackberries) but also a little earthiness like dried green herbs.

The palate is quite frothy which makes me think this was made in the Charmat method like Prosecco. There is also a creaminess to the mouthfeel like a sweet cream topping on a pie. The wine is very noticeably sweet and needs more acidity and liveliness. The herbal earthiness on the nose carries through and makes me think of thyme.

Released on Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 1.0

Thyme, black plums and sweet cream. Not really my thing.


The Verdict

There is a lot going on with this wine with the sweet cream and dark fruits as well as the earthy green notes. I think it is trying its darnedest to be complex but ends up being all over the place.

For me, personally, the sweet and earthy flavors don’t jive and I find myself wishing this wine had more acidity and less sweetness. A dry, earthy sparkling Shiraz around $15 could’ve been quite interesting–especially as a pairing for roasted meats.

60 Second Wine Reviews – Deligeroy Cremant de Loire

Some quick thoughts on the Deligeroy Cremant de Loire Brut.

The Geekery

Produced by the co-op of Cave des Vignerons de Saumur that was founded by 40 growers in 1956. Today, the co-op includes 160 growers based around the village of Saumur in the Loire Valley. The co-operative practices sustainable viticulture and has Master of Wine Sam Harrop as a consultant.

The wine is a blend of 65% Chenin blanc, 20% Chardonnay and 15% Cabernet Franc sourced from vines that average in age between 20-30 years. Like all Cremants, the wine was made in the traditional Champagne method of sparkling wine production with the Deligeroy Brut spending 12 months aging on the lees prior to being disgorged.

The Wine

Medium plus intensity nose with lots of tree fruit (pear and apples) and white flower notes. There is also a sharp edge of Asian spices like ginger and lemongrass.

The palate is very lively with the spice notes (particularly ginger) being more pronounced and adding to a sense of minerality. There is also a little bit of toastiness that give the pear tree fruit flavors a more pastry tart element. Even with the racy acidity and minerality, the mousse is smooth with enough weight to balance the crispness. While I couldn’t find an exact dosage, my best guess is that it is in the 6-8 g/l range.

The Verdict

Photo by Pilzi. Released on Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

The fresh ginger aromas carries through to the palate.

This is definitely one for fans of drier and mineral driven bubbles. It’s a very pleasant and character-driven cremant that offers a great deal of value in the $15-18 range.

Even if this was in the $20-25 range, I would still be quite pleased with the complexity it’s offering.