Monday, July 28, 2008

Francis Ford Coppola - Rosso & Bianco

Price: $9.99
Region: California
Varietal: Zinfandel 48%/Syrah 27%/Cabernet Savignon 25%
Year: 2006

OK, back to having a little more time to roam the wine store and pick out something I hadn't tried before. While I have had a few different bottles of Coppola wine, namely the Merlot and Cabernet Savignon, I hadn't yet tried the relatively inexpensive blend called Rosso & Bianco. On this particular day, I wasn't looking for something to have with a particular dinner, just something to enjoy on a Saturday night at home. While I will be the first to admit red zinfandel is not my first choice of wines to kick back and relax with, I thought I'd give this one a try since it was blended with two other varieties I enjoy very much.

Based on the grapes used for this blend, it was no surprise that the color was a deep dark red. When I swirled the wine around the glass, and took my first sniff, I was again not surprised by what I smelled. When I took my first sip, that made it three for three. To me, this wine looks, smells, and taste like a classic bottle of red zinfandel, but with just a tad less edge. Maybe the syrah and cabernet just round off the corners a little. I am not the best at relating the smell and taste of a wine back to everyday food items, but the word that first came to mind was spicy. Now, I will be the first to agree with the notion that a good serving of spicy food needs a wine that can stand up to it, and this is when I would be the first to purchase a good bottle of red zinfandel (and for the price, this one might qualify). However, if I am just looking for a bottle to sit back and relax with on a Saturday night, my preference is for something a little smoother. The one prop I will give this wine is that the 2nd glass seemed to be a little better then the first.

So, maybe this one is just a victim of the circumstances, and given a different scenario I would rate it a little higher, but given how it played out, I am going to give this one 3 corks. Not a bad wine, but not an everyday wine either.

Rating: 3 corks (match this one up with the right dish)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Black Box - Merlot

Price: $19.99
Region: California (Sonoma)
Year: 2005

I didn't have a whole lot of time this weekend to walk around the store looking for an interesting wine to review. This was the last weekend of my son's summer baseball tournament season, and there was lots of time on the road, and in the stands watching baseball. While I hope this is definitely not the norm, I had to fall back on a wine I have had five or six times in the past. Since I most definitely was only going to make one stop at the wine store this weekend, I wanted to pick up something that would last me a couple days. Therefore, I picked up a box of Black Box Merlot.

As I mentioned above, I have tried this wine a few times before, so I am kind of straying from my original guidelines, but it won't happen often. One other bit of information, is that I already know I really like this wine, however, I have never tried to observe it in detail, and have definitely never written a review on it. So hear goes. First, even though it is $20, you get 4 bottles of a standard 750ml bottle of wine, so if you look at it like that, it is really only costing you $5 per bottle. Given that, the Merlot had a deep rich color, and a wonderful smell. The smell was definitely not overpowering, but pleasing. I never have bought a wine because it smelled good, but it is still a pleasant experience when you find a good smelling wine. It just seems adds to the all around enjoyment. The taste of the Black Box Merlot is tough to beat for the price. It is a very smooth wine, with no bite whatsoever. Sunday, I was enjoying a simple backyard cookout, with the main course being hamburgers. I'm not sure I could have picked a better combination for what I paid for the dinner and wine. Overall a very relaxing end to a very hectic weekend, and one I will try again before the end of the summer. And the best thing is, I have some left over for the week just in case the mood strikes me to have a glass some time after work.

Rating: 4 corks - (Definitely worth putting on the "buy" list)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Terra-Barossa - Shiraz

Price: $12.99
Region: Australia
Year: 2006

I had a couple of wines to choose from this weekend, but I decided to go with a wine I had at my wife's parents house for dinner. This is usually the type of wine I would have tried before, because I generally like Australian Shiraz, and the price is about the range I find myself buying, but interestingly enough, I had never had this selection. It was paired with a Mexican salad as the main course, so something that was a little spicy. The general rule of thumb seems to be that a Shiraz, or a Zinfandel stands up well to spicy food. So, here is what I thought...

As with most Australian Shiraz, the color was deep red. I swirled it around a bit to release the aroma, and it was as I expected. It just smelled like a Shiraz, which is to say in my opinion a little spicy, for lack of a better adjective. Now, in the buying guide of my local wine store, it indicates this wine scored well with Wine Enthusiast, so my expectations were automatically a little high. I gave it a taste, and my first impression was that it was good, but nothing that stood out as exceptional. It paired well with the salad, but I have tasted similar Shiraz from Australia at a little cheaper price ($8 - $10). overall it was a good wine, but nothing spectacular. Based on the price, the high expert review, and my experience, I would say it ranks as a solid 3 corks..

Rating: 3 Corks (Give it a try)

Monday, July 7, 2008

PepperWood Grove - Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $6.99
Region: California
Year: 2006

I've thought about picking up this wine a few times in the past, but each time decided to pass. It just happens to be at the price range that make me hesitate. I tend to solidly buy wine in the $8 - $12 range, and I usually need to have a recommendation from someone to buy below, or over that range for an every day wine. Now, I had a reason to give it a try.

Although I don't specifically rate sight and smell, those characteristics do tend to have some impact on whether I enjoy a wine or not. The color on this wine what you would expect out of a Cabernet, very dark red. For the darkness of the color, the smell was actually underwhelming. It was a little weak which was kind of surprising. I then gave it a taste, and was quite surprised. It started off slightly weak, but it got better quickly. It had a very good finish for a wine in this price range, and very little bite. I must say it was much better then I was expecting. For a wine that cost only $6.99, I would have to say overall it was very good. One I would definitely buy again.

Rating: 3.5 Corks (A bargain for the price)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Additional Guidelines...

Before I review my first wine, I wanted to create a space to create guidelines, rules, or goals for my reviews, and then update along the way if necessary. I'll try to keep this in a list format to make them easier to read....

  • The majority of the wines reviewed will be under $15, because as I mentioned, that is what I usually drink. There will be exceptions for special occasions or dinners out, but the goal here is to provide some information that most people can understand, on wines they can afford.
  • I will attempt to stay away from wines I already know well. There are a group of wines that I call my default wines, but my goal is to break out of the habit of buying the same thing each week, and hopefully help others to do the same thing.
  • I will provide a verbal review of each wine, along with what food I enjoyed it with (unless I happen to be drinking the wine without food), but will also have a simple rating system as follows...
  • 1 Cork = Leave it on the shelf
  • 2 Corks = Below average, there's better out there
  • 3 Corks = Average, worth giving a try
  • 4 Corks = Very good wine, definitely worth buying
  • 5 Corks = Highly recommend, a can't miss selection

Friday, July 4, 2008

Getting Started... My weekly wine reviews

Like many people I am sure, I very much enjoy a bottle of wine. Sometimes with my wife or family, other times with friends, and every so often by myself to just relax, and enjoy. Over the years, I have purchased many magazines, read many newspaper reviews, and even purchased daily wine calendars, in an attempt to feel knowledgeable on the subject. I often went online to read one the many websites that provide in depth reviews. The problem was, I rarely related to the reasons they decided to recommend a particular wine. it seems there are so many things to take into consideration when reviewing a wine; color, smell, viscosity, food pairing, etc. It started to become a difficult task to pick out a bottle of wine. Most of the reviews talk about things I just don't seem to experience when I drink a good glass of wine. What I do know when I drink a glass of wine, is that it is either enjoyable, or it is not. Usually this come down to taste, but I will admit there are other determining factors as well. What I have found though, is that a complex wine review, doesn't always make it easier to head out to the wine store and pick out a bottle for the evening.

All of this led me to a very simple idea... Pick out a relatively inexpensive bottle of wine every weekend, that I then review in simple terms, that can easily be understood. I will be the first to admit, I have read hundreds of wine reviews, and I can rarely taste or smell what the experts indicate they taste or smell. To be honest, sometimes I'm not sure I would want to. One of my all time favorites what the "hint" of pencil shavings in a particular high end wine. Now, I don't know about you, but when I go search out a new bottle of wine, pencil shavings is not on the top of my list of tastes to uncover. I promise to keep it simple, and to the point, and provide not the view of the expert, because I am not one, but of the everyday person looking for something new to try. My goal will be to review wines under $20, because simply enough, that is what I usually buy. When special occasions arise, a more expensive bottle may be in order. While one might wonder why anyone would care what I think about wine, I don't find it any different then an expert providing his or her opinion on the topic. I am sure some will agree, and other disagree, but that is what opinions are all about. I look forward to this endeavor and providing Wine Reviews You Can Understand... Milt