Friday, May 7, 2021

2019 Matt Parish - Pilot Hill Gang, Red Blend


The 2019 Matt Parish - Pilot Hill Gang, Red Blend

  Normally when I start off a review, I will talk about a particular topic that eventually will transition into the wine I am reviewing that day. Today however, I am going to get right down to business as I have a lot to talk about. Ready? Here we go. The best word to describe how I feel concerning today's wine review is, "excited". The winemaker of today's wine being reviewed is actually one which I discovered while I was reviewing ( the on-line wine company, Naked Wines ( While I was reviewing the company I was of course also reviewing (and enjoying) the wines they sent me for free in order to evaluate. As a part of these wines, I reviewed the 2018 Matt Parish - Tri-County, Cabernet Sauvignon (review not posted as of yet) which I gave 96 AWESOME points to.

Rutherford dust
There is no other way to say it, I absolutely fell in love with that wine, unfortunately as I went to order three more bottles I discovered it was sold out. The other day I actually joined the club and purchased (yes, my own money:) a case of wine from Naked Wines and I made it a point to seek out more of Matt's wines and the wine I got is the subject of today's review.
   Prior to actually getting into the wine, I want to do a couple of things though and the first thing is to remind you guys that I have no skin in the wine game, I am not beholding to anyone in the wine industry/business nor any other industry/business for that matter. I do this Desert Wine Guy stuff to educate people, because I want to help people find their next wine and because I really enjoy it. I don't care if anyone sends me stuff for free to review and while I do appreciate it, I have and will continue to call em as I see em. Having said this I would like to now talk about the second thing I want to address and that is to give a brief synopsis of the wine-making career of the winemaker for today's review wine, Mr. Matt Parish as I believe his background in the wine industry is rather impressive.
   Matt "graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Plant and Microbial Sciences from Canterbury University and a Masters Degree in Applied Sciences (Viticulture and Oenology) with Honors from Lincoln University ( Aside from creating wine in America, Matt has created wines in New Zealand, Australia & France as well. Matt also worked for the highly respected Wine Network Consulting located in Melbourne, Australia. "With an enviable list of clients, including boutique producers through to large multinationals, everyday was a blast. As part of a high-profile team, he provided viticulture, wine-making, and wine business advice, established vineyards, designed wineries and introduced new wine production technologies"(
In 2003 Matt moved to America "where he spent the next 10 years in Group, Director and Chief Winemaker roles at two of the world's largest publicly listed wine companies. Constellation Wines US and Treasury Wine Estates Americas"( If you have never heard of Constellation Wines, here ( is their link, I promise, you have heard of them. If you have never heard of Treasury Wine Estates Americas, here ( is their link, again, I promise, you have heard of them as well. If this wasn't enough, Matt also worked for wineries such as Beringer (Treasury Wine Estates), Stags’ Leap (Treasury Wine Estates) and Etude (Treasury Wine Estates). I could go on and on here but the bottom line is that Matt Parish is very well respected in his field and his qualifications exceed what I expected to see when I first checked out Naked Wines. If you still want more information on Matt, here ( is the link that I got some of this information from. Currently not only is Matt a winemaker for Naked Wines but he is also the Managing Director, Wine-Making and Production for Azur Associates ( which is a marketing company for wine related businesses. If you ask me, Matt is very well qualified to be creating wines.
    Now for the wine. Today I will be reviewing the 2019 Matt Parish - Pilot Hill Gang, Red Blend . The wine as an "Angel" (member) cost me $14.99 however if I weren't a member, it would have cost me $23.99. The grapes for this wine come from the El Dorado County in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The alcohol percentage of this wine is 14.5% and the bottle was cork sealed. Folks, Have you ever e-mailed a winemaker? I can tell you from my own experience that about 99% of the time, you will never get a response.
I bring this up because in the middle of reviewing this wine I had cause to message Matt on Social Media concerning some specifics of this wine and to my surprise, he actually answered me back informing me that the wine is a small blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot & 10% Merlot. Matt also informed me that the wine was matured in Stainless Steel but did have some influence in "high-end, fire seasoned French Oak toasted" as well. If that isn't Customer Service, I don't know what is.
   Now it is label time. Keep in mind folks that this is a red wine and in my opinion a red wine wine needs to have a red wine label. With that being said, I thought that half of the label was great while the bottom half being in white, kind of threw me off and I really didn't care for it. To me the bottom half was a distraction and kind of came out of nowhere compared to the top section of the label. As a whole I guess this label worked fairly decently overall.
   Now it is time to look into this wines bouquet. As I bring the glass to my nose I get some nice and moderately juicy black cherry along with some expressive cassis. As the wine opens up a bit I get just a bit of oak but certainly nothing that can even come close to being overpowering here on the nose nor did it give off the impression that it would be overpowering on the palate. Following these particular notes up is a bit of a coffee note and as a whole and I have to tell you that the bouquet is enticing which is great as the wines nose is supposed to excite the taster and have them looking forward to tasting the wine which is something the nose of this wine certainly does for me.
Winemaker - Matt parish
   Speaking of tasting the wine, it is now time to see what this wine tastes like. Well, first up here is a semi bright yet at the same time, darkish note of black cherry. This black cherry is immediately swarmed but not dominated, by some amazing acidity. Yes folks, there certainly is wonderful and amazing acidity that also carries this wine throughout the entire palate presentation. What comes up next and what was really a bit of a surprise to me while also bringing this wine to life is a dustiness, a "Rutherford Dust" type note which is just superb and effective in a big way. Guys, while the entire palate is truly explosive it thankfully is not astringent nor did I find it in any way offensive. On top of these notes is a definite palate feel of luxuriousness and a sort of underlying yet effective silkiness or plushness which a blackberry note can help take credit for. There is also some fruit forwardness here in the wine which normally would be considered in my book to be a red wine killer and therefore I could certainly normally do without. Amazingly however, here in this wine while that fruit forwardness is not exactly shy, to my surprise it seems to work very well with everything else the wine puts out.
   Alright, so the above paragraph is where I left off yesterday as I certainly was able to discover some really nice notes right away but I wanted to give this wine a day to open up in order to see how it would develop. The only air allowed to enter the bottle was when I removed the stopper the day prior in order to pour a couple of glasses. As I come back to the wine today, I noticed that blackberry note had really developed even more and was displaying itself even better then yesterday. This note added to the complexity of the wine and had it elevate itself on my palate as well. As for any tannin's, they are present and could easily be confused for some other notes so you should pay attention. These tannin's are actually rather on the brambly side yet are certainly pleasant and above all, effective at giving the Tongue a super light coating and thereby elevating the entire wine profile as well. For those of you who steer clear from tannins, I don't think you will have to worry here. This wine most certainly gives off an upper-crust type impression and comes across as being an exclusive, expensive, bold & in many ways, a big red. There is also that impressive sense of a blackberry plushness I mentioned earlier that is a bit more than an underlying note as it is a nicely developed and well placed note as by the way, are all the wines other notes.
As I move closer to actually finishing the entire bottle (I know huh), the wine has become even more alive and even more robust in it's presentation. There is some nice Black Pepper that really pushes through and effectively assists in steering the palate. As a side note, I want to tell you that I happen to love Black Pepper and tannin's in my red wines by the way. A very slight palate note of leather is also part of that steering. Fruit, the wine is good friends with the black fruits I previously mentioned and my palate has become friends with them as well. While the original notes from day 1 fully remain, the addition of day number 2's notes really does wonders for this wine in as far as complexity and ability to excel is concerned. Guys, I do believe that I have said enough about this wine and so I will end this section of the review and see you in the final paragraph.    
   Alright everyone, let's wrap this up now. As I said earlier, This is not the first time I have reviewed a red wine by Matt and after reviewing this particular wine, it definitely won't be my last either. This is a full bodied Burgundy style red wine like to the max. Darkness is an important part of this wine and if I could relate it to an 80's music band(s) I would say it is like The Cure or Joy Division. There is no playing around here and therefore the wine stands proud to be what it is which is a very nicely crafted & most definitely serious, red wine blend. Word to the wise! Because of how the wine presents itself, I must issue a warning to those of you who are looking for an easy drinking red as this is not that wine. If you are a red wine lover who is used to what the likes of a Stags Leap, Peju or BV wineries puts out then consider this wine to have been specifically designed for you. On the other hand if you are looking for a Barefoot or Cupcake type.... red wine(?), this should not be your first, second or even last choice. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I am giving this wine a well deserved 94 points.

                                                                                                                                     The Desert Wine Guy

P.S - While writing this review I was unable to find anything on line concerning the makeup of it as far as varietals go. As a wine reviewer I find this to be a unfortunet and it is like this with all of the wines that Naked Wines sells. As I previously said, I tried contacting Matt on Social Media with some questions and to my surprise, he actually answered me, like......right away. This is another plus for not only Matt but Naked Wines as well because this is not the first time I have contacted one of their winemakers and gotten a response and within a very reasonable time frame. Keep in mind that I am in no way getting anything from Naked wines to say these things and as I said, I am actually a member and put out the $40 each month because I really believe in the companies business model and the winemakers as well. As I went to edit this article, I actually stopped and purchased (yep, my money again) yet another case of wine from Naked Wines which includes another bottle of this particular wine (cellar time) as well as Matt's 2018 Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2019 "The 24" - Contra Costa Zinfandel as well. I will keep you updated on how these wines turned out here on my wine blog.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Desert Wine Guy - Vinesse Wine Club, A Ripoff

 What is going on guys? Today I want to do a short review of a wine club named Vinesse which is a subsidiary of American Cellars Wine Club. Keep in mind that I am not a stranger to reviewing wine clubs as I have reviewed a few of them on this site. During these reviews the two that I found were good was the Wine of The Month Club ( & Naked Wines ( Here is my review of both the Wine Of The Month Club  ( as well as Naked Wines ( By the way, I also happen to belong to Naked Wines and give them $40 each month. So, why am I writing this review? My answer to that question is that I am very upset, allow me to explain why and I think you might be as well. The other day....and the day before....and the day before that and two weeks prior to that I received the above offer(s) in my mailbox and I finally got tired of throwing the mail out and decided to open it up and see what it is all about, after all it did have to do with wine. As you can see from the photo above, the offer sounded really good and was for an introductory offer of 6 bottles of wine along with a "free gift worth $50" (2 additional bottles of wine) for a total of 8 bottles. The total for these 8 bottles is  $29.99 + $10 for Shipping & Handling.

Vinesse Shipping Charges
 Okay, so far, this sounds like a good deal and if you also think that it sounds like a good deal you would of course be correct. Now keep in mind that you are also agreeing to join the club and receive a shipment of wine each month which is normal for these wine clubs. Well folks, I went ahead and read a little further into what the company offers and here are the problems that I found.
   Let's begin by talking about a generic wine that Vinesse sells. Vinesse sells this generic wine for $20 and let's say for arguments sake that that is a good deal, here is where the first part of what I consider to be a ripoff, comes into play. The first part of this ripoff is the fact that Vinesse charges $21 to ship that $20 bottle of wine to you. Yes, you read that correctly, $21. If you think that Vinesse charging $21 for shipping a bottle of wine is bad, just wait because you ain't seen nothing yet. If you thought that Vinesse is done charging you for shipping for that the one bottle, you would be wrong again and this is where the second part of this ripoff comes in. Vinesse isn't done charging you shipping for that one bottle of wine because they also have a.......wait for it.....surcharge. Yes folks, a surcharge and if you need your wine shipped to one of  23 states (one of which is mine) Vinesse will hit you with a surcharge of 17% and if you need that wine sent to PA and IL, that surcharge jumps to 20%. Keep in mind that according to a big wine magazine, winery direct (which is what Vinesse claims to be) shipping is prohibited in four states so that is a lot of states that will be paying that crazy surcharge. For the remainder of the states they charge a 10% surcharge. I bet that now you think they are done charging you for delivery huh? If you thought that your wrong again because there's more, there is yet another surcharge.
Naked Wines - Shipping Charges
This surcharge is a 3% surcharge for those of us who live in a "residence", Yes folks, Vinesse charges you a surcharge because you live in a residence which is otherwise known as where you live. I guess they believe that wines from an on-line wine club are not normally sent to a residence.
   Let me tell you guys a little something. I recently ordered a bottle of Chardonnay from the Napa Valley winery, Black Stallion ( and they charged me $14 to ship it. Guys, anytime a Napa Valley winery is cheaper than a retailer, in anything, something is indeed, way wrong. Now as I tell you this please remember that I actually give $40 a month (I'm a member) to the wine club I am about to mention which is Naked Wines. Naked Wines charges $9.99 to ship anything under $100. Now I didn't say that 9.99 is per bottle because that is not the case. If your order totals $99.99 or less, that order ships for a flat $9.99. If you order $100 or more, it ships for free as does Vinesse but since Vinesse doesn't believe that surcharges for delivery are actual delivery charges, you will still pay them so it's not free at all. Getting back to Naked Wines for a minute, I just today received six bottles of wine that I ordered from them and it shipped for free. Looking at their shipping charge, Vinesse would have charged me $30 + all the other surcharges..
   There you have it folks, do you see now why I am so upset? I hope that if you are in the market for a wine club that I have helped you in narrowing down your search. If you want to pay out the butt for shipping, perhaps you will like being a member of Vinesse but if you are like me and will not do business with what I consider to be a dishonest company, I would stay far away from them.

                                                                                                                                     The Desert Wine Guy  

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Useless Words, Higher Prices & Deceptive Labels


Total Confusion

   Today, I want to talk about words or phrases that are often put on wine labels in order to try and impress customers who simply don't know any better. Now, the words or phrases that I will be talking about certainly can mean something special but there are no laws or regulations in America that says they must mean anything special. If you have ever paid attention to wine labels I am sure you have seen the words or phrases that I am about to mention and these words/phrases are mostly used in order to help create the impression or illusion that you are privileged and lucky to poses the wine you have in your hands. Wines that carry these words/phrases could be any price starting all the way from Two Buck Chuck at $3 to the Screaming Eagle, Sauvignon Blanc for $6,000, it doesn't matter. As I get deeper into this article I know that you will recognize the words/phrases that I discuss and the next time you look at a wine label, you will be much more aware of what you are actually reading so let's go ahead now and get started. By the way, this article pertains to American wines as some other countries do have laws that ensure the words/phrases used are actually relevant to the particular wine they are holding.  

"Reserve" wine
   Reserve - The first word we will look at is "reserve". I remember when I very first got into wine and I saw the word reserve on the label. Boy did I think I had something awesome in my hands and for only around $15, I had surely lucked out. So, what does the word reserve mean on a wine label? Would it surprise you to know that it legally means absolutely nothing? If you came up with that answer, count yourself in the minority because there are a lot of people who think that the word means this wine was created and put aside because it is different somehow or better than the regular wine the winery sells. Now as I said, the word can mean something special but for the most part it is just used to try and impress and/or boost the price of the wine.

   Vinted - Usually we will see that word on the back label and it will say something like "vinted by" ABC winery, Napa, Ca. To many of us that would be interpreted as saying that the grapes and even the wine itself came from a winery named ABC and that the grapes came from the Napa Valley.

"Vinted & Bottled by"

If this is what you thought you would be wrong again as vinted simply means that another company made the wine. As an example if you are drinking a Stags Leap wine and it says vinted by on the back label it means that the Stags Leap winery probably had nothing to do with the actual making of the wine, it is simply being sold under their prestigious name and therefore the price of the wine just jumped up. 

   Bottled By - This is a phrase you will also see on the back label and it very simply means that the winery on the label did not make the wine if it did it would say "produced by" instead. Bottled by simply means that the company named just put the wine in the bottle, they bottled it :)

   Old Vine - When we hear the words "old vine" we are usually enjoying a Zinfandel. When we hold that bottle in our hands we wonder if perhaps our older children were born after the vine was planted. We have visions of the grape vine(s) being ten or perhaps even twenty years old or even older. This is done because for some reason people think that the older the vine, the better the wine and that is not necessarily true.
Once again there is no law or regulation that dictates the phrase has to mean anything. The vines for your wine could very well be from an old vine but it could also be from a three year old vine just as well and neither of these reasons guarantee a good wine.

   Cellared By - This phrase means what it says, some company held the bottles and was responsible for keeping the bottles in a temperature and humidity controlled environment and away from a lot of light as well. The building that cellared (held/stored) the wine might have had nothing to do with making the wine unless of course both the winery name and the cellaring company are the same but the label will specity this.

"Cellared By"
   French Oak - Here is a phrase that you usually won't see on the label but you will see on a Tech Sheet. So you buy an inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon and you find out that the wine sat in 100% French Oak for one (1) year. That sounds really impressive for a wine you paid $10 for huh? What the winery purposefully isn't telling you on that Tech Sheet is that the French Oak is now used or, old. What a winery will say rather than use the words "old" or "used" is that the French Oak is "neutral" and they also won't tell you that since the oak is neutral it no longer imparts any of that oak flavor onto the wine. Once a French Oak wine barrel is used consistently for three to four years it no longer imparts any flavor onto the wine so basically it is useless for that purpose and the price for these barrels drop considerably as well. There are other uses such as toning down tannin's to soften a wine but not for that oak taste, it sure sounds impressive though.
   Well folks, I sure hope this article has enlightened you and made you a more aware wine consumer. Knowing what you are buying is pretty important to your satisfaction and that goes for any product.
"French Oak"

While the wine industry likes to confuse you or use fancy word to trick you into thinking you have something more than what you really have, you are now aware and can therefore be more selective on the wines you choose. Let the uninitiated pay more for an entry level, basic wine, you are going to be spending your money on good, mid-tier wine instead. There is a question that I know you are asking yourself, or perhaps even out loud as you read this article and that question is, "how do I know if the words mean anything on a particular bottle?" That is a great question and here is my answer. While you can't always be sure of the meanings of the above words, you have to ask yourself self, this wine cost $5 and since the winery doesn't make a less expensive wine, how can it be ar "reserve?" The obvious answer is, it can't and it isn't. I myself will research wines right there in the store in order to see if the winery is justified in using the words they use. It only really takes a minute to do the research and if you are really curious, stop taking selfies for a second and do it. 

P.S - As I finish this article I want to add that I in no way advocating for any new laws in this country as I believe we have enough laws on the books as it is.

                                                                                                                                     The Desert Wine Guy  

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Desert Wine Guy - Life Cycle of The Grape


Pic #1 - Inflorescence's
  So there I was, the kids had just gotten home from school (thank you Governor Desantis) and normally we go out back by the pool so they can do homework while I review a wine. Today however, I just wasn't feeling it (I know huh). I simply was not in the mood to review or really even taste a wine but the kids insisted, so I gave in. It's a good thing I have some white wines resting in the wine fridge because a red wine was simply out of the question. I figured I would pull out something on the lighter and fruitier side and at least try to enjoy it. I ended up pulling out a Sauvignon Blanc that I've had for a couple of years and that I already reviewed.
Photo #2 - Flower Clusters
I thought, "How bad could it be to just sip on a white wine while I do this article that I think you will find both enjoyable as well as hopefully, educational?" For those of you who are interested, I am sipping on the 2016 Baus Family Vineyards - Sauvignon Blanc which is awesome by the way. So why am I writing instead of using this opportunity to just relax? Well, to me, writing is most times itself very relaxing as I really love to educate people on topics that I know at least something about, such as wine. I also have a lot of people to credit for the little bit of knowledge on plants and vineyards that I have so I love to pay it back by spreading that you, my readers. In this case, I am giving back by taking you for a short trip through the life span of the grape. Let's start at the beginning here.
    After all the of the soil prep, the digging, the planting of the vine to it's proper depth and the vine pruning, it is finally time to give our baby vines some water. Most of the hard work is now pretty much done but there is stuff we need to do to ensure these vines grow healthy and straight so they can produce Cordons that will grow Shoots/Canes which is what our grapes will grow off of. There is still work to be done such as spraying natural (hopefully) pesticides to ensure the vines are not bothered by pests or any form of fungus or mildew (hello Florida).
Photo #3 - Baby Grapes
It always seems that the work is really never done but that is also part of the fun of gardening at least in my opinion and that is after all what planting and working with grapevines really is anyway, gardening. Eventually, if everything goes well we experience that happy day when we see clusters of what are called "Inflorescences" (see Photo #1). Inflorescences are basically buds for the flower clusters that come next. At this point I personally get excited as the grapes themselves are not too far behind. The next step in development comes when these Inflorescence's develop into those flower clusters (see Photo #2) I just mentioned.These flower clusters are self pollinating in the Vitis Vinifera species which is where we are concentrating our attention and so they do not need cross pollination. Once they are pollinated they lose their petals and baby grapes begin to appear (Photo #3). A great wine is getting loser to being made but remember that bad grapes cannot make great wines.
Photo #4 - Veraison
 The next step in grape development is called Veraison (see Photo #4). All grapes start off green and as the sugar (Brix) level in the grape increases they turn colors provided of course they are not a varietal which is meant to remain green. With this rise in the sugar levels, this also is when the birds become interested in the grapes and it is time to net the vines. If not picked and left to hang on the vine, grapes will eventually turn into raisins (see Photo #5) which is the final stage before they dry up and die.
   I hope this helps some of you guys that are either perhaps in the process of developing or thinking of developing your own vineyard or maybe are simply curious and wanting to know what the stages of grape development there are.
Photo #5 - Raisins Hanging On Vine
   While this is a short article compared to my usual wine reviews, I thought it was a necessary article because so many people who love wine either have no clue concerning what happens in the vineyard or are simply curious as to how the vine grows grapes. Either way, I hope I have helped some of you get your answers. If you are interested, here ( is a short video on the topic of grape development. If you would like to watch a video entailing the planting process, here ( is a great video for you.
                                                                                                                                     The Desert Wine Guy


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Desert Wine Guy - 1998 BV Cabernet Sauvignon - Coastal


 For the most part when we buy a wine, it is normally meant to be enjoyed today or within the following few days, but there are times that we might purchase a particular wine with the intention of it being allowed to age. Sometimes that wine we buy for today we simply fall in love with it to the point we begin looking at it as a wine we want to allow to age and this of course entails another trip to the store to buy another bottle. There is a wide spread belief that all wines improve with age, but is that true? That is one of the questions being asked here as I start off today's wine review. For those of you who do not know the answer to the question, it is no, not all wines improve with age. I guess two great follow up questions would be, which wines do improve with age and how can I be reasonably sure that a wine I choose will improve? The simple answer to the first question is that there is no guarantee that any wine will improve with age even in the short term of just a couple of years. The answer to the second question is that there are a couple of things we can look for in a wine that might gives us some clues as to a wines aging ability. High tannins & acidity are two notes that we should look for when shopping for a possibly cellar worthy wine.

Usually if a wine is overly forward in these two areas, the wine will hold up over time and sometimes even improve (age). Of course storage conditions will also play an important part in preserving and therefore extending the life of a wine as well and I would think that any buyer of an age-able wine would also have a special area set aside to ensure their wines stay away from heat and remain at a proper storage temperature while also avoid light and humidity as these are four big enemies of wine preservation in general. While we have all heard of wines aging for years in caves in the French country side or in the basement of a famous Napa Valley winery/home, can wine that the average person afford age well? The answer to that question is yes, it absolutely can. "What prompted these questions?", you might ask is that today, I am going to be reviewing a very old wine and I am really curious to know if it is still able to be enjoyed. I want to know if it has held up, if it aged well over time. Occasionally I will open a wine that has a few years on it but very seldom will I review anything like today's wine. Honestly, I don't even know how this wine made it into the "good stuff" cellar to begin with. Alright, enough talking, I need to taste this
   So the wine was (eventually) opened and I was able to pour a small amount into my glass in order to quickly determine whether or not I needed to dump it out as I was near a sink anyway. The second option was to take it to my chair and review it. Now, notice I used the word "eventually" because as I went to attempt to remove the cork, I Immediately ran into an issue that many of you guys I am sure have experienced especially if you have had older wines. It seems that while trying to remove the cork, half of it decided that it wanted to stay in the neck of the bottle. Now I was left with a decision to make, do I just throw this aged bottle of wine away or do I simply take something and push the cork down into the wine itself? My decision, based upon the age of the wine and the fact that I wanted, no, needed to fully taste and review it was the latter choice and so I went ahead and pushed the cork down into the wine. I am not going to disclose how the wine tasted here as I want to tease you and make you wait. Right now instead, I am going to try to try and find out some specs on the wine and talk about them. By the way, if you skip ahead, I will know and the wine review gods will get you :)
   As I begin this paragraph let me first tell you that today I am reviewing the 1998 BV Cabernet Sauvignon - Coastal. From what I am seeing online the wine sold for $16.99 retail at its release but I bought the wine from the actual winery and I have no idea what I paid for it as it has obviously been a while. To my surprise, as I did some further searching online, I actually found that the wine IS available for $40 here ( Unfortunately the only other thing I can tell you about the specs of the wine is that alcohol wise it comes in at 13.5%.
   Let me very quickly now talk about the label on this bottle. I have to say that I do like this label and think it is well designed and the fonts chosen are pretty nice. I especially like the ripped appearance that is used on the bottom of the label as well as where the name of the winery is placed.
   Now.....let's get into the wine itself by first starting on the nose. Right up front I am getting a rather nice Bing cherry note here. This note is amazingly still vibrant, certainly rather compelling & fresh smelling on the nose. I am also getting a nice bit of Black Pepper spice that simply won't quit here as well as some cocoa and I have to tell you that overall, the wine is really smelling delicious. On the end of the nose and kind of deep inside the bouquet is the slightest bit of oak that is presented in such a way that it obviously isn't trying to overpower the rest of the nose but instead aims at presenting just enough to push the wine along. Topping off the bouquet is a bit of smoke that integrates nicely with all of the other notes that I am picking up. As I wrap this section up, I have to say that as far as the nose is concerned, the wine is at this point at least, not raising any concerns but rather the opposite which is tremendous hope.
   It is now time to finally really taste this old wine but I have to tell you beforehand, that I am not really expecting much to be left of it. While I was happy with the small initial tasting I did, I am still not convinced that I will be able to enjoy this wine and as a matter of fact, I am still prepared to pour the wine down the drain. This is really based upon the the fact that the wine is old and the  "Coastal" label is the wineries least expensive label. There is something really strange about the Coastal line of BV ( wines and that is there is no mention of the product line on their website. Well folks, here goes the tasting. Guys, so I just took the first real sip of the wine and I have to tell you something. I really wish you could taste this wine yourself as I feel that the things I am about to say you might find rather difficult to believe, I know I would. I promise you guys that my description of what I tasting is accurate as I have no skin in this game and even if I did, that is not how I get down. To begin with here, I want to let you know that there is still some really nice acidity that is being presented by this wine, and I do mean really nice. After all these years the acidity of the wine simply has not skipped a beat, it truly rocks. Following up on the acidity, the wine also still possesses some finely grained tannin's as well. The tannin's are still effective and only add to the taste and power that the wine still, amazingly possesses. Can you believe this? You asked what? How can a wine that was most likely probably never meant or designed to last this long still have tannins and still be exhibiting great acidity to it? Well guys, let's talk for a minute.
The answer to that question is....I really don't know. I hope that answer satisfies you because that is really all I can tell you.You can either call it luck or winemaker skill. Next up, I have a question for you guys. Would you love some spice in the wine? Because if you do, you are in luck. Guys, there is some serious Black Pepper spice that carries over from the bouquet and is really being shown off by this wine, it also is probably as fresh as the day the wine was created. Between the acidity, tannins & the spice, I am really in awe as to how the wine was able to stand up after all this time. Next up here on the palate are notes of both blackberry and black cherry which both come rushing in next and they are both fresh and vibrant and give this wine a dark fruit boost which pushes this lovely wine over the top in my book. Everything about this wine is fresh, vibrant and ready to take on the world or in this case, your palate. Right now my mouth is jumping with a super liveliness that can only be described as thrilling. On top of all of this is a note of blueberry and it also is just as lively and thrilling as the other notes are. This blueberry does manage to bring along some sweetness along with it so the next potential issue/question would be to ask is the wine is an overly sweet or (oh no) jammy wine? My answer to that is no to both. The wine is thankfully neither what I would consider to be overly sweet nor is it jammy, thankfully. These last few notes simply bring about an added bit of livelyness and also a structured robustness to the wine.
Is there too much sweetness in general that the wine puts across? I don't think that is the case as the sweetness presented seems very limited in it's ability to express itself which is good. Another aspect of the blueberry note that you will notice is that it also adds just a bit of richness, perhaps just a bit more than enough to be tasted but I found myself actually appreciating this bit of richness as I felt it did its job but thankfully, did not go overboard in that area. Alright guys, I have two more notes to throw at you and those notes are of cassis & semi-ripe plum. The cassis still puts a nice coating on the tongue along with those tannin's which has me sitting back in my chair in amazement as to how this wine has held up so incredibly. As for the plum note, it also works hand in hand with the other dark fruit notes to create a very well crafted Cabernet Sauvignon that I am glad I did not miss out on. The plum does not bring anymore sweetness to the wine and instead comes across semi-ripe but yet flavorful. As far as the oak I got on the nose goes, it is tasted in the wine but as it did on the nose, it doesn't fight to be upfront, it is happy just being noticed and I think you will be happy with that as well. Okay guys, it is time to get to my conclusion of this review and also give the wine my rating.
   As I go ahead and complete this review, I will let you know that it really bothered me that the BV Coastal lineup of wines is not on their page so I contacted the winery itself via e-mail and was gotten back to by Mr. Ben Mason who is the Hospitality Sales Manager of Beaulieu Vineyard and he informed me that the BV winery no longer makes the Coastal line of wines. Some further research showed that while the BV winery is owned by Treasury Wine Estates, so is the label of BV Coastal which is now called Coastal Estates (
I was also informed by Mr. Mason that the winemaker for this wine is Jeffrey Stambor who was the wineries (BV) winemaker till 2016. This completely explains why and how this wine is doing what it is doing. I still stand by my belief that this wine was not designed to still be presentable after this many years but when your winemaker is as great as Mr. Stambor is, it is hard to create a simply decent wine when you are use to creating great wines. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale, I am giving this wine 94 points. I completely enjoyed this wine and thoughts of purchasing the wine for $40 are really running through my head. My recommendation to you is to buy a bottle of the wine and either enjoy it now or hold onto it because there is no sign of the wine going bad anytime soon.

                                                                                                                                  The Desert Wine Guy  






Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Desert Wine Guy - 2013 Abbot - Red Wine


  What is going on guys? Today, as I write this review it is Sunday and I hope you all had a chance to relax and possibly enjoy a bottle of wine yourself just as I am about to do. Is it just me or do you also find youself "relaxing" by doing little odd choirs around the house? As an example, today I began to put my theatre back in order after painting it. It took a few days but it is really nice and as soon as I get my new CD/DVD rack, I will be having the re-opening where I will break into the "good stuff" and pick out a wine that has been aging for a few years. I actually have a few of these wines so I will find it hard to choose the right one but I am sure it will work out. I always find it kind of sad in a way when I break into my temperature controlled cellar and open the last bottle of a particular wine because once it's gone, it's gone, there is no more to enjoy. I guess that if I don't drink the wine it will eventually go bad and I certainly don't want that. I'm thinking that perhaps the 2011 Stags Leap, Napa Valey - Cabernet Sauvignon might be in order or maybe even the 2010 St. Francis - Cabernet Sauvignon might be a better choice, what do you think? Well, I guess I will I will pick the right wine when it is time and I also will be sure to do a review of that wine so that you will know how the wine was. Until that happens though, let's see what todays review wine is all about.

   Today I am reviewing the 2013 Abbot - Red Wine from Burning Tree Cellars which is located in Cottonwood Arizona. I have been discovering recently that the wines I have from Arizona are from the general vintage (2013) and unfortunetly, the corks are failing. Today, I had to throw out a Cabernet Sauvignon from the state because I couldn't get the cork out. I know huh? Thankfully though, I was able to remove this one without any issues and so I get to see how well it held up. This wine cost me $35 at the winery and as I already said, the bottle is cork sealed. The wine is a blend of 58% Cabernet Franc, 36% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon.
   Now, let's talk about the label on this bottle. I normally find wine labels from Arizona to be filled with Pagan and demonic creatures or characters but in this case I get it. There is a picture of an Abbot on the front label hence the name. Do I like the label? I just think the label is okay, weird but okay. To me it is just very simple and I would preffer something to lighten it up or some kind of contrast.
   Now as for the nose of this wine I am getting what comes across as a semi bright but dark, black cherry. I am also getting a bit of sweet spice and a bit of oak as well. Topping the bouquet off is some cocoa that does come across rather nicely.
   Now, it is time to discuss the palate presentation of this red wine. The first thing I want to tell you is that this is not an easy drinking wine nor is it a wine that you will drink a lot of in one sitting unless you have some food with it of course. After all these years, there is a peppery spice that still presents itself as an in your face type note. Following this up is a note of plum which comes along next but instead of acting as a cut to that pepper it brings in a bit of sweetness and just pays along with it. There is also a bit of an alcohol type burn here on the palate that doesn't seem to fade and I find it a bit really over the top and bothersome. The wine does have a plushness of sorts that it exposes which is pretty nice but it butts heads with massive acidity that is also just way over the top to the point of where it is ofensive in my book. Cranberry is noted in here as well but in reality, that is the last note this wine needs as it intermixes with the acidity and pepper and together become a trio of sorts which in this case is not a good thing. Guys, I really hate to do this as the review just began but I really can't drink anymore of the wine, I musy use it for another purpose which I will disclose in the next paragraph.
   As I end this rather short review I must let you know that the wine is out of balance in my book as that constant alcohol note never lets up and neither does the wines over the top acidity. These two notes in my opinion simply kill this wine. I don't think that I have ever had a red wine that is so astringant guys. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I am giving this wine 85 points which means the sink is coming quickly. Over the top and offensive, that is all I have to say in relation to this wine. That's it for this review guys, I will see you next time but for now, I have to clean my sink and this wine will do that. 


                                                                                                                                     The Desert Wine Guy

Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Desert Wine Guy - 2013 Black Stallion - Cabernet Sauvignon - Limited Release

 Depending on where you live, you may have a few different places to buy your wine and thats a great thing for the consumer as far as prices and choices go. When I lived back in Las Vegas I would usually go to Total Wine but there was also a place named Lees Liquor that while not as big in name or size, was no slouch either. Yes, there were small liquor stores around but I was never one to go to a "Liquor Store", call me a snob. No matter where we live though, there are wines that we simply cannot get locally or wines that are sold only at the winery (V. Sattui) itself for whatever reason. As for purchasing a wine online, that has always been an issue for me personally because while the prices may at times be cheaper then a local store, by the time you add on shipping, you may as well buy the wine straight from the winery itself, at least from them you can be assured that the storage and overall handling of the wine was on point. I guess the bottom line here is that competition is a good thing even when it comes to wine as it lowers overall prices when companies compete against one another for our business. Alright, I feel better now, let's get into this wine :)

   Today I am reviewing the 2013 Black Stallion, Cabernet Sauvignon - "Limited Release" from the Napa Valley. The wine retails between $55-$60 and comes in at a rather high, 14.8% alcohol. This wine is made up of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Malbec as well as a 1% blend of the grape varietals of Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc & Malbec. The wine was aged in 33% new French Oak for 20 months as well.
   I want to talk a bit now about the Black Stallion Winery itself. The winery is located on what is known as the Silverado Trail and was originally horse stables and known at the time as the Silverado Horse Stables until it closed in the1990's. In May of 2010 two Brothers, Terrance and Michael Maglich sold the winery they had developed on the property to the Indelicato Family who had an already existing winery that they had begun in 1935. Today, the Indelicato Family produces over 15 different labels including the Z. Alexander Brown label and are one of the largest by case production wine producers in the USA. Aside from the 10 Acres of vines which are planted all around the winery which are Cabernet Sauvignon, they also source most of their grapes from the Napa Valley as well as neighboring Sonoma County. As far as the wineries releases go, this is their second-best series with juice coming from Estate grapes or from single vineyards.
   Alright, now it is time to look at the label on this review wine because it is certainly worth talking about. Striking! That really is the only word to use in relation to the bottles label. I could move on now but before I do, I want to let you know why I use the word "striking" first. I just got done reviewing another red wine which had a dark label layed against a dark background (the wine) which was similar to this one and I just did not care for it. This label however, is different as the gold lettering and the fonts chosen provide the absolute perfect sort of clash but without being visually offensive. This clash instead just elevates certain words against a sort of dark gray label. What really adds to setting this label off is the edged outlining of gold used to highlight the label. Major props go out to the designer of the label for a job well done. As I said when I started off this paragraph, Striking!
   Now, it is time to get closer to the actual wine itself by moving to the wines Bouquet. I have to tell you first that I can't wait to taste this wine as I have high expectations for it. First up here on the nose is blueberry combined with a bit of Allspice, Cocoa and a bit of an alcohol note as well. Topping the wines bouquet off is some nice cinnamon and raisin as well. I am also getting a perceived plushness of sorts that I hope the wine can transfer over to the palate.What came as a shock to me is that I expected at least some of that 33% new French Oak to come through here but unfortunately, that was not happening.
   Now it is almost time to finally get down to the tasting end of this review. But before I do, I just want to very quickly give my opinion on what is really important in a wine tasting. I believe that the enjoyment of a wine is a bit of a combination involving the initial presentation which includes with and begins with the label on the bottle, the visual presentation of the wine itself, the bouquet of the wine and last but certainly not least, the palate presentation. What really wins in the end however is that palate presentation because if everything else is impressive but the wine itself sucks, what good is it all? Okay, let's talk palate now.
   As it is on the Bouquet so it is on the palate, at least when it comes to that French Oak at least. This wine is surprisingly showing none of that 33% new French Oak here. To say that I am very surprised would be an understatement, where is it? I am not saying that a red wine should be dominated by oak but having a bit presented both on the nose and here on the palate would iindeed be nice. Now of course, this could be good or it could be bad, all depending on what your desires are in a Cabernet Sauvignon. As I continue on here, the wine has a juiciness that it opens up with, a plushness that did indeed also transfer over from the bouquet and lies in the background of the palate presentation. A light yet sufficient Black Pepper note exposes itself and goes so very nicely with these other Notes and together they act like best friends who have grown up together all their lives. As I continue on here, a black cherry note that has forgotten (thankfully) to bring its sugar along joins into the mix and plays along rather nicely with the other notes.
Adding to all of this is a bit of slightly over the top richness that I think is an issue for me. There are some tannins and they are gritty which is perfect here and goes nicely with what the wine is wanting to present. Licorice, ya want some? If you want that note, you have it and it comes in around Mid-Palate. This licorice is tasted but thankfully doesn't make an attempt to fight to come upfront which is a good thing because it is presented well to begin with. The Cocoa I got on the Nose translates over here but is also not attempting to dominate anything, instead, it is more than content to sit towards the finish where it belongs in this particular wine. As for any acidity that might be present in this wine, there is a hair bit of it but really nothing that makes an impact on the overall Palate. Alright guys, here it comes. Unfortunately, throwing all of these notes and therefore the wine itself to the background is a good bit of jamminess and I really do not care for jamminess in my wines, period! This jamminess (as usual) presents itself as sugar or sweetness and that note I simply cannot deal with and will not put up with, I expect more from Black Stallion. There is one more issue that I had with this wine and that issue is, this is a "hot" wine meaning there is an alcohol burn to it. That issue was eventually resolved and I will leave the soultion for the final paragraph. This "hot" issue along with that jamminess really put a damper on the wine for me unfortunetly. Since we are discussing negatives of the wine, I want to add in that the wine also presented a very strong note of blueberry here and it was just too fruity and also assisted in that jamminess, yuck.

   As I start off this final paragraph the first thing and the most important thing that I certainly want to tell you is that you must Decant this wine. This is the solution that I found in order to tone down that alcohol burn the wine presented. I would seriously give the wine at least a couple of hours to both develope and cool down. Due to the wine being so lush on the Palate and having to deal with the high alcohol percentage, I drank a couple of glasses but had to put the wine aside for the day. I sealed the bottle and came back the next day, I am thankful that I did because I were to rate the wine based on what I tasted in those two glasses, it would have been a disaster. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale, I am giving this wine 91 points as I do not prefer this type of a juicy, jammy style of Cabernet Sauvignon. I am much more into a real Cab that is able and willing to present Notes of leather, graphite, Earth, tannins and be even slightly on the astringent side. All of these Notes are absent from this wine which I feel is not good and caused the wine to be lacking the punch of what I expect from the winery itself and the Napa Valley in general. Unfortunetly, this wine loves its over the top jammy plushness. I'm really sorry guys as I have much love and respect for the Black Stallion Winery but I just cannot condone the new-fangled Generation Z wines.

                                                                                                                                   The Desert Wine Guy