Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Apothic Red

Price: $12.99
Region: California
Year: 2009

Here I go with my last review of 2011. I set out with high expectations for the number of wines I would review this year, but I fell woefully short. As I've mentioned before, this had absolutely nothing to do with not having enough subject matter, but with simply not putting aside the time to sit down and write. If there is at least a bit of good news, the month of December was the one month this year that I at least averaged a review a week (which is my goal each year). So, here's hoping that as we enter 2012, that I make this site what it was originally intended to be, which is a weekly wine blog.

The wine I am reviewing this week is one that we opened up one Saturday evening in early December. It was a wine that my wife picked up along with a group of others one Friday afternoon. It had a pretty cool look to it, and I knew it was some type of blend based on the name. After reading the label a bit, I saw that it was a blend of three grapes, Zinfandel, Merlot, and Shiraz. The wine that I poured into my glass was very dark indeed. It was more in line with what I would expect from a pure Zinfandel. I didn't actual write down the percentage of each grape, and I'm sure if I looked online, I could figure it out, but my guess is that it leans a little heavier towards the Zin. That being said, while the aroma was pleasant, it wasn't as bold as the dark red color would have you believe. It was pleasant, with a little earthy undertone, but a touch faint. Along those same lines, when I took a sip of this wine, I tasted a very smooth wine that was not overly bold. It was very well balanced from start to finish. The overwhelming taste was that of vanilla. It just kind of jumps out at you, and stays until the last little bit fades away. I do enjoy the hint of vanilla in a wine, but this was a touch more than just a hint. It was a good tasting wine for sure, if not a touch too much vanilla. A good change of pace though, and not a bad wine to end the year on.

I have lots of wines lined up for this weekend as it is my 40th birthday, so if I'm ambitious, maybe I'll start the year off right with two reviews next week. A very Happy New Year wish to all and hopes for a prosperous 2012.

Rating: 3.25 corks (If you like vanilla, you'll love this wine!)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sivas Somoma - Zinfandel

Price: $16
Region: I'm guessing Sonoma
Year: 2008

Another wine from our recent neighborhood wine tasting. again, I didn't pay full price, but this one is reasonable at around $16 retail. We opened this bottle last Saturday night as we cooked some spicy sausage on the grill. I usually try to save my Zinfandels for something with a little kick to it, so this seemed like a good pairing. I would say that I was cheating with this one because I had tasted it before, but in reality, it was far down on the list of wines during the tasting, so at that point they were all kind of blending together. That being said, I did recollect this was one of my favorites of the night. It was time to see just how good my memory was of that night.

There was no mistaking as I poured a glass that this was a very deep dark wine. It even had the appearance of pouring a little slow into the glass (like molasses). The aroma of this wine was really wonderful. I smelled a bucket of berries with a hint of sweetness which I really wasn't expecting for a Zinfandel. At this point, I was thinking I was right on with my recollection of the small taste I had of this wine a week or so back. To my surprise, it was actually even better than I remembered, and most likely due to not having tasted 4 wines in advance. It was really smooth with awesome balance. From beginning to end it was consistent, and silky smooth. The overwhelming flavor that came to mind for me was blackberries, and I just couldn't get enough. Interestingly, my wife is not a big Zinfandel fan, but she loved this wine as well. It didn't have that over the top in your face flavor, and was enjoyable all around. Luckily, we also have a bottle of Sivas Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon. I hope this is right up the same alley, because if so, I'll definitely go back for more..

Rating: 4.25 corks (Best one in a while)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ruca Malen - Malbec

Price: $18
Region: Argentina
Year: 2008

Maybe it is the glowing bottle of the wine I reviewed last night, but what ever the reason, I felt like sitting down and writing another review tonight. My wife and I had gone to a neighbors wine tasting event a few weeks back. A local distributor was present and had a good number of wines for us to try. Luckily, their house is right across the street :) Anyway, he was selling any of the wines we tasted at wholesale price. While this Malbec in particular retails for around $18, we ended up grabbing a couple of bottles for $8. A bargain for sure. Interesting enough, I had reviewed the first bottle we bough about two weeks back, but my wife and I shared the second bottle tonight. So, while the notes are a little old, the wine is definitely fresh in my mind.

The first thing you notice about this wine is that is it a very deep, dark red, almost purple wine. I'm not sure there is much not to like about a wine that looks like this. As bold as the color is, the aroma stands out just as much. I just get the sensation of lots and lots of berries. Really, just a great smelling wine. By this point I was really looking forward to a great tasting wine as well, and was hoping I wasn't going to be let down. Fortunately, it lived up to the billing. This wine had a great flavor, with excellent balance throughout, and wonderful tannis. There really wasn't a lot not to enjoy about this wine. You can find lots lots of nice Malbecs under $15, but for a couple of extra dollars, this one wine is definitely worth a try.

Rating: 4.0 corks (A very good wine!)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vampire - Pinot Noir

Price: $9.99
Region: Napa, Ca
Year: 2010

As I sit here and drink a very good Malbec on a Thursday evening, I just have to get to some of the wines I haven't made the time to review. I really need to set aside some time to sit down and write reviews more often, but until then, I'll be reviewing wines that I tasted a few weeks back. In this case, it was actually over the Halloween weekend. It seemed fitting to try a wine called Vampire over Halloween, so that's what we did.

I must admit, the $10 Pinot Noir wines that are worth getting a second time, are few and far between. I love the Angeline, and would buy that any time I am in the mood for a Pinot, but one of these days I need to find something on par with that wine for a similar price. I think this may be the first time I have reviewed Pinot Nior wines in back to back weeks. So, here goes. It wasn't really about the food pairing so much this time as is was to try a wine called Vampire on Halloween. I poured myself a glass, and to no ones surprise, I had a very light colored wine in my glass, but it was an interesting shade for sure. Really it wasn't that bad to look at, but you can only look at a wine so long before you have to give it a taste. For those who are wondering, I did have my Pinot Noir glasses out on this night instead of my usual steam-less Reidels. I gave the glass a nice swirl, and along with a light color, came a light aroma as well. A bit earthy, but not very strong. For the trifecta, when I took a taste, it was a bit faint on the toungue, but really had a pleasant taste. I liked it much better then the $25 bottle of Pinot I reviewed last time. Not top notch, but an enjoyable wine nonetheless. Worth a try....

Rating: 3.25 corks (Getting warmer!)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Clos Julien - Pinot Noir Reserve

Price: $25
Region: Oregon (Willamette Valley)
Year: 2008

I seem to be getting into the habit of working a little late on Thursdays, and then opening a bottle of wine for a glass or two once I get home. Today is no exception. The difference here is that I usually have a glass and then sit down and write. while tonight, I have not had a sip of this wine yet. We'll see how my initial reaction translates into a review. Unfortunately with this method I am not getting to my substantial backlog of reviews. We had another couple of good wines last week that I would like to get to, and will try to write about this weekend. Nothing in quite some time has really knocked my socks off. Here's hoping tonight is that kind of wine.

This is actually a wine my wife bought me for an anniversary gift. There is a really great 'boutique' wine store here in Delaware that I really don't get too that often (Moore Brothers), but when I do, I love to look around for something I've never tried before. This time I was looking for a decently priced Pinot Noir. Not sure why, was just hoping to catch a break with this particular variety. Some Pinot Noir wines are very opaque in color, and while this one does have some of that characteristic, it is a bit fuller looking. The one thing I noticed about this wine as it has been sitting here for ten minutes, is that when I'm within a few inches of the glass, I can already get a feel for the aroma. I'm not really sure I can quite place the smell, and I'm also not sure I really like it. Anyway, on to the more important aspect for me, the taste..... Well, at least I know I didn't find that wine that knocked my socks off. It is good enough, but the taste just doesn't wow me. Overall, just too thin for my liking. I'll be the first to admit I'm a horrible judge of a good Pinot Noir, but what I do know is what I like to drink, and I'm not sure I'd spend anther $25 on this one. I would guess some people would point to a review like this as my lack of real wine tasting experience, and that's OK, I'm just trying to find good wines at a good price, and this one just doesn't make the cut.

Rating: 2.75 corks (Try the Angeline instead!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ten Lakes - Merlot

Price: $14.99
Region: Sonoma Valley, CA
Year: 2008

I knew I was going to try and put aside some time to write a new review tonight, but this was definitely not the wine I had intended to review. I was planning on reviewing a bottle of Pinot Noir that we had the weekend before Halloween, but when I got home from work today, my wife had opened this bottle of Ten Lakes Merlot for dinner, so as I sit here and have another glass, it seemed a bit silly not to review this wine. This is the one problem with having a few bottles tucked away in the basement, is that a bottle usually gets opened on Thursday night, along with Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I guess now that I say that, it isn't really a problem at all.

As I sit here and take a look at this wine, it is a bit darker red then some of the more middle of the road Merlots I am used to buying. It really is does have a deep, dark red color one would usually attribute to a California Cab or an Argentinian Malbec. To go along with that color, it also has a really great aroma. This is where it part ways from some of the bolder reds, but it enjoyable all the same. I' having a little trouble placing the smell, but I would say it is a good mix between fruity and floral. So, finally as I take another sip, the one word that comes to mind is consistent. It isn't a wine that jumps out at you, but I can taste the suttle hint of blackberries, without the heavy Cab tannins. This isn't a wine I would order with a juicy Fillet Mignon, but with a bit lighter fare, it would go quite nice. Not a whole lot to complain about with this wine, so if you're in the mood for a different Merlot then the standard choices, give it a try.

Rating: 3.75 corks (Definitely worth trying!)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Root:1 - Carmenere

Price: $10.99
Region: Chile
Year: 2009

Ok, so the new improved design of my blog lasted a week. Maybe I'll just change it up more often, but I'll go with this one for now. Tonight is a live review. My wife had opened a bottle of wine for dinner tonight, so I just figured I'd sit down and write about it. This is an interesting one for sure in that it isn't your run of the mill grape. This wine is primarily Carmenere and its from Chile. I actually think this grape was blended with the Cabernet Franc I had last week, but I'd have to go look at the bottle to be 100% sure. Anyway, I really wasn't sure what to expect, so here goes.

This wine had a dark red color to it that faded a bit as it got out to the edges. It was definitely a little clearer as it worked its way out. As I sit here and give the wine a swirl and a long sniff, I sense a bit of an earthy wine with a little bit of flowers mixed in. If I had to compare it to a mainstream grape, I would say it tends to have the aroma more like a Merlot. I really have no idea if this grape leans more towards that or something a bit more bold, but that is what first comes to mind. As I take a sip, I still get the earthy impression, with just a touch of tartness. What pops into my mind is that it is a bit thin, and lacks that smooth flavor and chewy tannins, but it is pleasant just the same. It is a good change of pace, but not something I would go back to very often.

Rating: 3.0 corks (Not a standout!)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Oveja Negra - Cabernet Fanc

Price: $9.99
Region: Chile
Year: 2008

I know it has been way too long since I wrote my last review. My backlog is piling up for sure. To be honest though, I had been getting a little bored of the site, and needed a little break. So, what I decided to do today was change things up a bit with a little design face lift. Hopefully you like the new format, but if not, feel free to comment and let me know. A FB like every now and again would hurt either :) So, as I said, I have plenty of wines to get to. It appears every other one in my book however is a Malbec, so I think I need to get out of that rut. Therefore, this week I am going to write about a Cabernet Franc I had recently. I'm not expert on the grape, but it seems to me to be primarily a grape used to blend along with other big reds (Meritage). Every once in a while though, I'll find a wine that is primarily Cabernet Franc. And when I do, I have rarely been disappointed.

My wife actually came home with a few wines a couple of weeks ago, and this Cabernet Franc just happened to be in the group. I was quite surprised, but definitely looking forward to giving it a try. I really loved the look of this wine as I poured it into my glass. It was a very consistent dark purple color. It was a couple of minutes before I gave the wine a smell as I was really enjoying the sight of this wine. A little surprisingly, it was not as bold a smell as the color would have made me think. It had a good mix of dark fruit smells, but just a bit faint. As I took a sip, the taste hit me upfront, and really didn't fade away until the back of the tongue. It was very consistent, with great balance and a yummy taste. It was definitely a smooth wine, and the winning streak continues with this grape. I really don't think I have had a a bad Cabernet Franc yet. Just makes you wonder why there aren't more on store shelves.

Rating: 3.5 corks (Yummy!)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pennywise - Merlot

Price: $12
Region: Napa
Year: 2009

As is usually the case, I have a nice little backlog of wines to review. This is my attempt to get through a few of them by writing more then one every other week. I think two a week would be a good clip and get me caught up relatively soon. On another note, someone (not to be named) keeps telling me I use the word "nice" way too much in my reviews. Therefore, I'm banning the word until further notice. This particular bottle of wine was sitting on the counter one Friday night when I returned from work with a bags of hamburgers and fries from 5 Guys. There was actually a couple of other bottles to choose from that night, but this just seem to be the best fit.

At first glance, there was nothing out of the ordinary about this wine. It wasn't overly rich or dark in color, but was kind of middle of the road. I would say a typical looking merlot. I will say as I gave the glass a swirl, and held it up for a sniff, it was a little bit light for my liking. It was OK, and definitely not bad, but again, nothing special. After a couple of bites of my burger, I took a sip, and found the wine had pretty good balance, and a generally pleasant upfront taste, but just lacked something when it came to the finish. Overall it was not a bad wine, but ended up being a little tart on the back of the tongue. Given it wasn't and "under $10" bottle of wine, although I would assume some could find it at a better price then I did, I would just have to say there are better values out there. (and I don't think I used the word nice)

Rating: 2.75 corks (Doesn't stand out)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vina Zaco - Tempranillo

Price: $15
Region: Spain
Year: 2007

It is another one of those weeks where I had a review all set to sit down and write, and then I decided to open a bottle of wine for dinner tonight, so I figured it was better to review what was freshest in my mind (and on my palette). This is a bottle we had actually bought for last weekend (Labor Day '11), but with baseball tournaments, and just general chaos, it never got opened. So, after a short week at work, I decided to start the weekend early (not sure how that adds up, but work for me). We were having meatball sandwiches for dinner, and now a bottle of Tempranillo as well.

It was kind of hectic when I got home, so I didn't have as much time as I usually do to sit down and take good notes. As I sit here though with my 2nd glass, this wine has a generally pleasant appearance, that is a bit light, but expected for this grape. it is the kind of wine you can just barely see through when you give it a swirl. On top of that, it has a very nice aroma. It just reminds me a little of fresh cut flowers when I hold it up to my nose to smell. When it comes to the taste, it start off very nice, and stays consistent on the tongue. When I usually use the word 'acidity' to describe a wine, I tend to use it in a negative way, but not here. The one thing that comes to mind is this wine has a nice balance of acidity. It isn't a big bold red, but it is a wine I could enjoy on a regular occasion. I was just label it a smooth, easy drinking wine that is easy to enjoy.

Rating: 3.75 corks (Very enjoyable)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Santa Julia Reserve - Malbec

Price: $9.99
Region: Argentina
Year: 2009

Wow, it really has been a long time since my last review. It must be the time of year with vacation, and the kids being out of school, but whatever the case, I always seem to fall off in the months of July and August. Hopefully I'll get back into the swing of things starting now. As is usually the case, I certainly do not have a lack of wines to write about as I've made sure to keep up with my weekly purchases and note taking.

So, the one thing I have really noticed recently is that I have been leaning towards grabbing a Malbec whenever I am in doubt of what to buy. I really have quite a few I could review, but I decided to pick one that I had recently and was fairly fresh in my mind. This was one actually that my wife picked out one Friday evening. She was making burritos, so it was a fairly casual dinner with what we were hoping was a nice bottle of wine. When I poured my first glass, the adjective that immediately came to mind was "grapey". This wine really did have a hue that reminded me of grape jelly, but just a little bit darker. When I went to give the glass a swirl, and take in the smell, I immediately noticed a very bold aroma. As strong as it was, it was also very pleasant. It was really quite nice I then took a sip, and tasted a very smooth and consistent wine that really had a nice blackberry flavor. The taste really had good length, and there just wasn't much to complain about. For about $10, this one is really worth a try.

Rating: 3.5 corks (I'm liking Malbec these days)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wine Men of Gotham - Shiraz/Grenache

Price: $8.99
Region: South Australia
Year: 2008

Was a little bit of a late day at work today, so decided to stop on my way home and grab a bottle of wine. I knew there was just some pizza waiting for me, so I wasn't planning on breaking the bank. I do have a couple of other wine to write up, but since I am sitting down at the computer with a glass of wine, it seems more appropriate to review this wine tonight. I didn't spend much time browsing around the store as it was already late. I actually was looking for a Zinfandel, but ended up wandering over into the Shiraz aisle. I try to avoid the wines with the little signs in front of them with a particular rating, but this wine just caught my eye. It was a Shiraz/Grenache blend from South Australia for only $9, with an interesting name. I guess sometimes that's half the battle. My wife has been spoiling me lately with 15 - 20 dollar bottles of wine, but it was time I tried to find another gem under $10.

I poured myself a glass and sat down with my ham and pineapple pizza. The wine had a definite red hue about it, but was just a bit faint. Nothing dire for sure, but something I did notice. The wine had a very earthy smell to it, with a touch of black licorice. I know some people love that smell and even taste, but I am not once of them. Black licorice to me is not something I want in my wine, but obviously that just a personal preference. As I took a sip (and as I take a sip now), it doesn't have much upfront taste, but kind of goes right to the back of the tongue. It is a touch tart and not quite as smooth of some other Australian wines in this price range. Nothing really stands out about this wine. it really isn't bad, but I have tasted a lot of Australian Shiraz at around this price point that I would go back to before this one.

Rating: 2.25 corks (Next)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fabre Montmayou - Malbec

Price: $20
Region: Argentina
Year: 2009

Nothing too out of the ordinary this week. When I got home from work on Friday it was a choice between this bottle of Malbec from Argentina, and another red from Chile. I think both were right around $20, but I didn't ask, so I'm not 100% sure. I'm fairly certain they weren't any more expensive though. I had stopped and grabbed a few pizzas for dinner, so I sat down with my glass of wine and slice of pizza ready to enjoy a nice relaxing Friday evening.

When I poured a glass, I immediately noticed the deep, dark red color. Definitely the kind of wine I like pour into my glass. I enjoyed the sight for a few seconds, and gave the glass a nice swirl. The aroma that followed was really very nice. It was kind of smell that made you take notice, but was not overpowering. I went back for a little more before taking a sip. When I did finally take a sip, I tasted a wine that was very smooth, with really good balance. It was a touch spicy, but more towards the taste of a Cab then a Shiraz. I think the aroma had me hoping for a bit more, but not too much to complain about with this wine. You can find similarly good wines for a little less, but I don't think it will leave you disappointed.

Rating: 3.5 corks (Wonderful aroma)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pine Ridge Forefront - Cabernet Blend

Price: $20
Region: California
Year: 2008

Wow, it has been a really long time since I've sat down to write a review. This is mostly due to a very busy stretch at work, but I hope that is behind me for the most part now. Anyway, I tried my hardest not to take a hiatus from drinking wine as well, so I definitely have a few to get to. The routine has not changed much, and I usually come home on Friday to a couple of bottles of wine to choose from. This particular weekend my wife picked up this bottle of Pine Ridge Forefront. Besides the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Vognier blend that we like so much, this winery was definitely in the top three that we visited when in Napa a few years ago. This was a visit where we actually had a private cellar tasting right out of the barrel. With some great cheese and crackers to go along, it isn't an experience I'll forget anytime soon. So, when she saw this line from Pine Ridge, knowing that we had never tried it, I wasn't surprised she grabbed a bottle.

We were cooking some burgers on the grill that night, so opening the bottle of Cab seemed an easy choice. This bottle actually has a few other grapes in the mix as well, like Merlot, and Shiraz, but it is mostly Cabernet. The deep dark wine that was sitting in my glass was definitely no surprise. Pine Ridge generally has some nice bold looking red wines. The aroma was right along the same lines. You could almost smell the blackberries. So, when I took a sip, I tasted all of that fruit right up front. This taste didn't fade easily either. It had nice structure, and great length. It was very consistent until it faded on the back of the tongue. There really wasn't much to not like about this wine except that it was a little more than I like to spend for a normal Friday night, but it was worth putting up a couple of extra dollars for a nice treat.

Rating: 3.5 corks (A solid bottle of Cab)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pirouette - Red Blend

Price: $55
Region: Washington
Year: 2006

Interestingly enough as I sit down to write the review for this wine, I am enjoying a glass of the wine I reviewed last week. We liked the bottle of Petite Petit so much that we went out an purchased another bottle last weekend. ..and it was still just as good. Anyway, this wine is definitely an anomaly when it comes to my usually reviews. It was actually a gift I received a month or so ago that I saved for something better then take out burgers. So, one Saturday we decided to order sushi, and it seemed like a good time give this one a try. Since this bottle of wine is north of $50, I had a little higher expectations then my normal $10 - $15 weekend bottle.

This wine is actually a Bordeaux type blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. Two weeks in a row I had a wine mixed with Petit Verdot, which I'm sure is a record for me. When I sat down with a glass, I noticed a very nice purplish wine in my glass. When I gave my glass a swirl and lifted it up to my nose, it was very nice. it wasn't anything I could put my finger on, but it was nice nonetheless. So, before I took my first bite of sushi, I took a nice slow sip of wine. What I tasted was definitely more complex then what I was used to. There were a couple of different fruit flavors that hit me right away, with a touch of vanilla in the middle and a little bit of spice to finish things off. That being said, the structure and feel of the wine was very consistent and enjoyable. So, bottom line was a thought this was a very good wine, and a bit different, it definitely was not one I would spend over $50 for.

Rating: 3.5 corks (A bit too much $)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Michael David - Petite Petit

Price: $18
Region: Lodi, California
Year: 2008

I went for a good stretch of reviews without adding a new wine to my top 5 list. This ended a few weeks back with the Cruz Alta Cabernet Sauvignon. There was really a lot to like about that wine, including the price. I know I am going to give it away early, but it didn't take too long to find another. It could very well be the fact that when my wife goes out and buys wine for the weekend, she usually stays under $20, while I was zeroing in on the under $15 bottles. While it might not seem like a big difference, I have noticed that the wines I choose to pass on are fewer when getting into the $15 - $20 range.

When I got home and there were a couple of bottles sitting on the counter, and this one just jumped out at me. I would think that most likely has to do with the interesting label, but I was also intrigued by the blend. This wine is 85% Petite Shiraz, and %15 Petit Verdot. While we will regularly pick up a bottle of Petite Shiraz, I won't pretend I know a whole lot about Petit Verdot. Based on the primary grape in this blend, I was not shocked to see a very deep red wine pour into my glass. It was already right up my alley, and the kind of wine I really just enjoying looking at in my glass. Not enough to leave it there too long, but it works for a little bit anyway. The aroma was also in line with what I would expect, with a nice floral bouquet. When I sat down with my dinner and took a sip of this wine, I was impressed with a nice bold upfront flavor that was really quite smooth. You could really taste the blackberry, but also right in the middle was a touch of pepper. Those aren't the type of things I usually notice, but as I took another sip, I definitely tasted it again.. This wine was very well balanced, and just kind of lingered on the back of the tongue. This is the kind of wine I'd definite buy again, and was one my my enjoyed as well. I probably would have rated it a bit higher, but I have to take into consideration the price it a bit higher than I would spend on a weekly wine, but good thing my wife is buying these days.

Rating: 4.25 corks (A really good wine)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Montes Alpha - Cebernet Auvignon

Price: $20
Region: Chile
Year: 2007

I debated which wine review to write tonight because I really had a very good wine last weekend that I wanted to get to, but since I missed my review last week, I decided to get to one that I had two weekends ago. I tend to skip wines whenever I miss a week, and I didn't want to end up forgetting about this one. I'm going to try and make some time this weekend to write about the one from this past weekend. Anyway, as has been the case for a whole lot of weekends in a row, my wife had a couple of bottle of wine on the counter when I got home from work on Friday. She's kind of been on a South American kick lately, and this weekend was no different.This Cabernet from Chile was a bit more than I would look to spend on a wine for a normal weekend, but the one thing I like about my wife picking the wines out each week is that the tend to be further away from $10, then they do closer. I've found however, that doesn't always necessarily mean a better wine.

Not that I worry too much about pairing wine on Friday night, since we mostly get take-out, but this one went along nicely with the hamburgers from Five-Guys. As seems to be the case with the South American wines I have had lately, this wine was super dark. It had very little red tint to it, and poured into the glass with a dark purple demeanor. I started to get familiar with the heavy fruit (like black cherry) smell of a Cabernet, this one seem to hit me with a more earthy and floral aroma. It was really quite nice. I really did not have much to complain about at this point, and was also very happy when I took a sip. It had a nice bold upfront taste, and was very consistent right up to the end. It had good length and fairly chewy tannins. overall I was quite pleased, but I kept going back to the price. At $10 - $12, this wine would be a home run for sure, but at $20, I just think there are better buys out there.

Rating: 3.25 corks (Can find one just as good for a better price)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cruz Alta - Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $13
Region: Argentina
Year: 2009

The far majority of the wine reviews I have written over the past 2+ years have been ones I've opened over the weekend, jotted down some notes in my wine journal, and reviewed the following week. Every once in a while, I get to sit down with a glass of wine I just poured, and write about it on the fly. That just happens to be what I decided to do tonight. I usually only have wine (or sometimes beer) on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Tonight as I was driving home however, it was just one of those days that seemed like a good day to break from the norm. So, I opened a bottle of wine that my wife bought for me last weekend that I didn't get around to opening.

I was a bit late getting home from work today, so I had a little dinner by myself. I was enjoying a nice plate of pasta bake when I poured myself a glass of this Cabernet from Argentina. I'll tell you, wines don't get too much darker red than this one. It really is almost black it is so dark. When I went to give this wine a swirl, and take a sniff, I got a nose full of a really nice aroma. I've never been really great at having a particular smell stand out when I smell a wine, but I do get just a hint of coffee in this one. I really do not like the taste of coffee, but I sometimes enjoy the smell. So far I was fairly impressed. Then, when I took a sip, I realized this was one of those fairly inexpensive wines that really gets it right. It had a very nice upfront ripe fruit taste, with really good length and a smooth finish. I took another quick sip to make sure it was as good as I thought the first time around, and I was not disappointed. It has really been a while since I found a wine that cracked my top 5, but I think I just found one.

Rating: 4.5 corks (Grab a bottle and try for yourself)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mandu - Shiraz

Price: $13
Region: Australia
Year: 2006

When I got home last Friday, a couple of more wines were sitting on the counter for me to choose from. While my wife knows I love a good Shiraz, when it comes to the darker reds, she tends to pick out a Cab more often than a Shiraz. Well, this particular week there was one of each. I will try to get to the Shiraz review in the next couple of days, but I tried this Australian Cabernet first. I had never seen this particular wine before, but I think it has to do with the fact we shop at different wine stores with a slightly different selection, which actually happens to be a good thing. Anyway, I was happy to see an something different, so I couldn't wait to sit down and have a glass.

We actually did not have takeout on this particular Friday, but were having homemade crab cakes instead (it is Lent). So, as I sat down to dinner, I poured myself a glass, and immediately noticed the wine was a bit lighter than I would have expected. Not the end of the world, but definitely noticeable. When I gave the glass a swirl, and took a few sniffs, again it was a bit faint, but it did have a very nice aroma. It wasn't the usually bold Cabernet, but had a pleasant floral smell to it. So far I was not 'wowed', but still had hope for a good wine. I'm not quite sure how to explain what I experienced when I took a sip, but for my liking, it wasn't great. I would have to say, to go with the color, and aroma, it was thin. It really had no texture or tannins to speak of. I have had some very good Australian wines, at very good price points, but in my book, this just wasn't one of them. For $13, I can find a whole list of good Australia wines, but on this one, I'll have to pass.

Rating: 2.25 corks (Would score better at $10)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Jade Mountain - Merlot

Price: $13
Region: Napa/San Luis Obispo
Year: 2007

Another one of the three bottles my wife bought for me last weekend was this bottle of Jade Mountain Merlot. She always tries to mix it up regarding the type of wine, and a Merlot tends to show up every once in a while. We sat down on a Saturday evening with a salad and some Salmon cakes for dinner and I opened up this bottle of Jade Mountain. I can't say that I had ever come across a bottle from this winery before, so I was interested in giving it a try.

The first thing I noticed when I poured my first glass that it had a very 'grapey' look to it. it almost looked exactly like grape jelly to me. It had good clarity and was nice and dark, but I definitely noticed the look of grape. When I gave the wine a good swirl, and brought it up to my nose, I thought it had a very distinct aroma. It wasn't overpowering, which makes sense for a Merlot, but it had good intensity, with a hint of flowers. so far nothing was standing out, but no red flags either. I took a sip, and thought it was very consistent from beginning to end, but was just a bit light on the taste. The overall flavor was pleasant, but just a little faint for my taste. My general opinion is that is was an acceptable wine, but there are some better ones out there for a couple of dollars less.

Rating: 2.75 corks (Would score better at $10)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Truscott - Old Vine Zinfandel

Price: $15
Region: Mendocino, CA
Year: 2007

This review is a couple of weeks old, so not as fresh in my mind, but wanted to get to some that I had missed. I especially wanted to get to this wine this wine because I just don't seem to pick up a Zin very often. I think it is a shame too, because when I find a good one, they are a tough wine to beat. Anyway, this particular wine I didn't even pick out myself. My wife has really been picking out some good wines for me lately, so I've left well enough alone. This particular Friday I came home to three new bottles of wine to choose from, and when I saw she had picked out a Zinfandel, I couldn't wait to pop it open.

My usual MO when it comes to Zinfandel is that I go looking specifically for a bottle based on the food we are having. Lots of times I'll pick one up during the summer if we are cooking bar-b-q on the grill. In this case, we were just having hamburgers, but it really sounded good over the Malbec and Merlot she had bought as well. So, I sat down with a glass before dinner to give it a go. This wine was really nice and dark. It had a very good ruby color. It also had a big, bold Zinfandel smell. I find a good Zinfandel is fairly easy to pick out from the distinct aroma. This one definitely had some good earthy smells. So far I was liking my choice. I have definitely gotten this far with a Zinfandel before just have have the taste disappoint. Luckily for me, that was not the case here. This wine was solid upfront, and very consistent throughout. It didn't have a heavy tobacco taste like you get with some Zinfandels, but did have a noticeable cherry-vanilla flavor. This wine was very consistent, with just the right amount of boldness & spiciness. It wasn't an overpowering Zin, but those aren't usually my favorite anyway. This was definitely a solid wine, and is on my repeat purchase list for that first summertime bar-b-q

Rating: 3.25 corks (Solid)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Gumdale Shiraz & Shiraz Reserve

Price: $6.99 / $10.99
Region: Australia
Year: 2009 / 2008

I just got back from a wonderful vacation in Jamaica, and trying to catch up on some reviews from before my trip. I had the idea to do a double-review right before I left as I had tasted two versions of the Gumdale Shiraz within a couple of days of each other. My wife had bought a couple of bottles of wine for me the week before last. We had a couple of friends over one Friday night, and when Saturday came around, I needed another bottle for dinner. Since I had just had the regular Gumdale Shiraz, it was interesting when someone pointed out this bottle of Gumdale Reserve, so I decided to give it a try. As I was paging through my wine notebook, I decided to write the notes down for the Reserve next to the regular Shiraz and do a comparison review. So, here goes...

Even though I started this blog to review bottles under $15, I rarely buy wines that are much less that $10. Something about a $7 bottle of wine just makes me hesitate. When people come up to me and say you have to try this wine or that wine, and it is between $5 - $7, I usually pass. This has been the case with Gumdale Shiraz on more than one occasion. I have seen many good reviews, and the employees at my favorite wine store have recommended it many times. Since this one my wife actually bought for me, I guessed it was about time I gave it a try. This wine had very good clarity, but a bit on the light/clear side for a Shiraz. Along those same lines, the aroma was ab it faint. I could definitely pick up hints of earthiness, but they were definitely int he background. When I took a sip, the one word that came to mind was consistent. The taste went right along with the color and smell. Really not bad at all, but just not as bold as I like my Australian Shiraz.

Rating: 2.75 corks (Not bad for $7)

As I found myself in the Shiraz aisle once again (just what I've been in the mood for lately), I just couldn't make up my mind. I was asked if I need some help, and I gave my usual "just looking" response, as that is really half the fun for me. As he started to walk away, he pointed to this bottle of Gumdale Reserve, and said "that is a great value". So, as I mentioned above, I said "why not"? The color of this wine was much darker then the regular offering, which maybe wasn't much of a surprise. The aroma on the other hand, still lacked that stand up and take notice kind of smell. Again, not bad, just not very strong in my opinion. As is usually the case, it was all going to boil down to the taste. The extra flavor in the wine was apparent from the get go. It was just a bit smoother, with wonderful length and very good structure. As the wine still was very well priced, I would say it is definitely worth the four extra dollars for my money.

Rating: 3.25 corks (Worth the extra $$)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Penfolds - Thomas Hyland Shiraz

Price: $12.99
Region: Australia
Year: 2008

Wow, post number 100!! Not sure it has quite been 100 reviews, but am very close. I do however, need to get on a better wine review schedule. I am just leaving out too many good wines (and I guess some not so good ones as well). I already had a bottle wine for Saturday night dinner that my wife had picked out for me, but decided to save that for another time. The reason was, I was really in the mood for a bottle of Shiraz. So, as I went to pick up a buffalo chicken wrap for dinner, I stopped next door to grab a bottle of wine. As I mentioned, I had pretty much made up my mind that I was going to grab a bottle of Shiraz, however, as I was walking towards that section, I almost stopped and grabbed a bottle of Yellowtail Malbec, but thought better of it and kept walking (maybe another time). As I browsed the Shiraz section, I spotted this bottle of Penfolds. It had been a while since I have had a bottle, and I always seemed to enjoy their wine from what I could remember, so I thought it was a good opportunity to become reacquainted.

As I sat down with my dinner, I poured myself a glass. For those that have followed along with most of my reviews, you'll know I I love the color of a good Shiraz, and this was no different. A very nice dark red wine filled my glass. I was also quite impressed with the aroma. As I gave it a few swirls, a very pleasant smell came out of the glass. There was a hint of spice that just made me anticipate the flavor that much more. As I went to take a sip, it hit me right away with a wonderful fruit forward taste. This wine was a bit young, but I'm pretty sure that is by design. It had a nice balance of fruit, reminiscent of blackberry, and a touch of earthy undertone. It was consistently smooth from beginning to end, and really hit the spot. A really great value for $13, and I'm glad I went back to visit the Penfolds brand.

Rating: 3.75 corks (Excellent Value)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Courtney Benham - Merlot

Price: $15
Region: Napa Valley
Year: 2008

As I mentioned in my last post, I have a lot of wines to get to. I tend to write about those that are most fresh in my mind, but when ends up happening is that a lot of the wines I've tried, and intend on reviewing, get lost in the shuffle. So, as I sat down for my second review of the night, I started to write about another wine I had this weekend, but decided at the last second to change gears and review a wine from last week. This particular wine I had actually bought so for my wife who was heading over to a friends house, but found out at the last second that they had gone out an bought a few bottles as well, so this was one mine to keep (or drink).

I have had a couple of wine from this winery, that usually turn out to be pretty darn good. I believe they have Angeline and Martin Ray in their lineup as well. I had never had the Courtney Benham Merlot, and as it is a little more than I usually buy for my weekend wines, it was still only $15. What caught me by surprise was how dark red this wine was when first poured. It came out as a very bold looking wine. Then I gave the glass a swirl, and noticed a very nice floral smell. At this point I was fairly impressed and really looking forward to having a taste. I definitely was not disappointed. I know a lot of people view Merlot as a boring, middle of the road kind of wine that lacks the style of a lot of other reds, but this wine was very interesting, with good structure, and a very consistent flavor. I really enjoyed this wine, and will look for other offerings from this vineyard.

Rating: 3.75 corks (Very Nice)

Chilenesis - Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $9.99
Region: Chile
Year: 2009

Wow, do I have a lot of wines to get to. I've had a good variety of wines lately, with some very good ones, and so kind of middle of the road. I picked this one because I happen to be having a glass right now. My wife has kind of gotten into a habit of stopping by the wine store on Friday afternoons and picking out a couple of bottles of wine for the weekend for us to share. She always tries to stay within the guidelines of buying wine that is $15 or under so that I can use it in my blog, and this was no exception. This weekend she happened to buy 3 bottles, and I will try to get to the other bottle we tried a little later tonight, but for now, I'm going to write about this bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.

As you would expect with a Cab from Chile, when this wine it sitting in the glass, it truly has a deep dark red look about it. Definitely no surprise there. When I give the glass a swirl, and take a sniff however, I get a unique aroma. It smells just a little bit tart, but the overriding smell is one of berries. Mostly notably blackberries, but again, just a bit tart. So, when I go to take a sip, i am expecting a rather fruit forward flavor, but the flavor that hits me, and just won't go away is one of vanilla. The flavor doesn't really hit until it gets to the back of the tongue, and then there is still a bit of tartness, but really not bad. I was expecting a little smoother wine, as I had enjoyed some very good values out of Chile. This one isn't bad, but not the top of my list. Worth a try if you like the taste of vanilla in your wine.

Rating: 2.75 corks (Not my favorite, but not bad)