Blog Archives

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2009 – Beaujolais, France

Sterling Vintner’s Collection Meritage 2008 – Central Coast, Sonoma, California

From the label: ‘Our Meritage is a classic blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 57%, Merlot 37%, Cabernet Franc 3%, Petit Verdot 2%, and Malbec 1% from some of California’s best appellations. This richly textured wine has flavors of cherry, chocolate, black raspberry and vanilla, which lead to a full, lingering finish. Enjoy our Meritage with grilled or roasted meats and hearty vegetables.’

Website: http://www.sterlingvineyards.com

This nice Meritage from the Central Coast of California (Sonoma) was a really nice wine. It was my first experience with a Meritage and I found it quite nice.

The color was a deep but clear garnet color and the bouquet was jammy, with hints of vanilla, cherries, and tobacco.

This medium bodied wine had a taste was heavily jammy. I used to wonder what people meant by ‘jammy’ in reviews but trust me once you have a wine that is actually ‘jammy’ you’ll know it immediately. It also tasted slightly of oak.

It had a medium finish. I found this wine to be very enjoyable. I would definitely buy it again. Also, I like to mentioned that this wine was also vinted and bottled at Sterling. I like wines that are produced and bottled at the vineyard they were grown at. I feel it creates a more predictable and dependable wine because the people producing the wine know exactly what to expect from their own grapes.

I give this wine a rating of 86.

Nostrada Tempranillo 2009, Tarragona, Spain

From the label: ‘A fruit-driven young red, made exclusively with well-ripened, hand-picked Tempranillo grapes from the ancient winelands of Tarragona. Here, Spain’s most highly-prized native variety offers an easy-drinking red wine, with delicious tempting aromas of rich blackcurrent and ripe red berries, making a beautifully balanced Spanish treat!’

Price: $7.99 – screw top (yes, I’ve been buying screw tops. I am trying not to be such a snob ­čÖé )

This wine from the Tarragona Region of Spain was a nice dark burgundy color. When smelling the bouquet the word ‘pretty’ kept coming to mind. I don’t know how to explain it other than that. Yes, it was ‘pretty’.

The taste was heavy and boasting the flavors of dark fruits with a bit of a floral essence in there as well. It had a very light finish.

I picked this wine because I wanted to try a wine made with Tempranillo grapes. I know people who LOVE this grape. I found this wine to be quite pleasant but its ‘prettiness’ took me off guard. I’ve never experienced a wine with this essence before.

Overall I liked the wine. It was different from my usual foray into Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignons. It expanded my horizons on what red wine tastes like and I got to experience another personality of red.

I gave this wine a rating of 89. Very close to being a top pick (which is 90 or above) but I think it’s newness to me kept it from making it into the top category. Definitely a wine to experience if you’re looking to broaden your horizons and see everything that red has to offer.

Wine, Women and…Well…What Else Is There To Say Really?

I got this in my email today from my other half and I thought it was funny and…well…true especially today. Rough day but that’s another story and another blog but being as it’s Wednesday and I owe you all a blog I thought this would be a little diversion from the usual as well as a good chuckle. Men, this is not a joke study this chart well and learn it. It could save your life one day.
The Hormone Guide

Women will understand this!
Men should memorize it!
 

Every woman knows that there are days when all a man has to do is open his mouth and he takes his life in his hands! This is a handy guide that should be carried like a driver’s license in the wallet of every husband, boyfriend, co-worker or significant other!

 


DANGEROUS

SAFER

SAFEST

ULTRA  SAFE
What’s for
Dinner?
Can I help you
with dinner?
Where would you like
to go out for dinner?
Here, have some wine.
Are you
Wearing that?
You sure
look good in brown!
WOW! Look at you!
Here, have some wine
What are you
So worked up about?
Could we be
overreacting?
Here’s my paycheck.
Here, have some wine.
Should you be
Eating that?
You know, there are
a lot of apples left.
Can I get you a piece
of chocolate with that?
Here, have some wine.
What did you
DO all day?
I hope you didn’t
over-do it today.
I’ve always loved you
in that robe!
Here, have some wine.

Bridgman Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 – Columbia Valley, Washington

From the label: ‘In 1917 W.B. Bridgman introduced European wine grapes to the Yakima Valley near Sunnyside. Bridgman wines are dedicated to this visionary man who helped make fine Washington wines what they are today.

Our Cabernet Sauvignon has rich aromas of berry and cherry fruit with a fine layer of sweet oak and a hint of walnuts. Excellent with red meats or pastas with a hearty tomato sauce. Try it with garlic stuffed leg of lamb rubbed with rosemary.’

Price: $13.99

This estate grown and bottled wine from Walla Walla, Washington (I just love saying that town name…makes me giggle…but I digress) is a nice clear garnet colored medium bodied Cabernet Sauvignon.

The bouquet (or smell, for us common folks) was very fruity and most definitely accentuated by cherries. The taste I found intriguing though. I have read reviews by people claiming that their wine had a ‘buttery’ taste and I admit up to now I had NO IDEA what they were talking about. I mean it’s WINE! How can it have a buttery taste? Well this wine, my friend, showed me what that meant. My first taste was so buttery and nutty that I had to really think about it for awhile. I’d never tasted a wine like that. After I finally got over that buttery punch the next thing I tasted was, of course, the cherry. This wine had a nice medium finish to it as well.

Overall I liked this wine. It was surprising to my palate and let me know that there really are wines out there that are distinct and new tasting (at least to me anyway).

I rate this wine at a score of 88. It’s a nice wine with a soft buttery taste. I drank this wine without the intervention of any specific food but due to it’s buttery, nutty flavor I would say that the recommendations on the bottle would be correct. This wine needs a strong, hearty meal to be able to stand up to it.

Winery Website: www.apexcellars.com

 

Porta Cabernet Sauvignon – 2009 Valle Central, Chile

From the back label:

‘Bright red in color, this particularly fruity wine features red fruits, strawberries and blackberries. Very soft and fruity on the palate with ripe tannins and good balance.

This fruity Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with roasted meats. The ripe tannins accompany the cooking spices, bringing out the flavor of the dishes it is served with.’

Price: $6.99

Forgive me for my rather short post lately but I am loaded down with work and I am working under the supposition that any short blog post is better than none at all. I hope you agree.

Now this wine was originally bought with the intention of being used in a Pasta Bolognaise recipe so I didn’t want to spend too much dinero on something I was going to cook rather than drink.

This estate bottled Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile was a really nice surprise given the fact that A, it has a screw cap (I bet you thought I’d never admit to that one right?) and B, the more expensive wine I bought to actually drink with the dish that never got made was awful (see last week’s Sunday post: Montepulo Red Wine 2008, Abruzzo, Italy). So, of course, this one cost less so my logic would say it’s got to be a dog right? Wrong!

Though I have other inexpensive wines that are my typical standbys when I’m looking for something nice to drink and I don’t want surprises (two of which are Lindeman’s Bin 40 Merlot from Australia & Barefoot Merlot from California) this wine would come in nicely in third place should my other two regulars not be available.

This was a nice light red Cabernet Sauvignon that made a nice impression. It was enjoyable and I have nothing bad to say about it other than ‘It has a screw top, man!’ ­čÖé

Winery website: http://www.portowinery.cl

Montupoli Red Wine 2008 -Abruzzo, Italy

I’ll warn all of you ahead of time this review is going to be brutal. So if you’re squeamish turn away now. There will be blood and guts everywhere by the time I am done.

I bought this wine to pair up with a recipe of Pasta Bolognese that I intended to make for company that was coming (I had a nice vegetarian version up my sleeve by the way). The recipe called for a robust red wine and I also wanted a nice Italian wine to drink with the meal. So, of course, I headed to my local Total Wine store.

At the store I was assisted in my wine selection by one of their wine experts (though she was new to me so I knew I was taking a risk. I know a few people there that never steer me wrong…she wasn’t one of them I later found out.) I told her my requirements and she immediately suggested this ‘lovely’ Montupoli wine from Abruzzo, Italy. She said she always has this wine when she has Italian food. I trusted her! I also was intrigued by the fact that the wine was made with Sangiovese grapes. ‘How could that be bad?’ I thought to myself!

She also suggested a cheaper Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon (to be reviewed at a later date) for the recipe itself because no one really wants to cook with a more expensive wine after all. So with my treasures in hand I skipped home to start my cooking. Once home I discovered that my guest was not coming and so I put off the meal for another day.

A few days later I decided to open this ‘lovely’ Montupoli wine from Abruzzo, Italy and really enjoy it. I opened the bottle and I at once was not ‘at one’ with the smell. ‘Maybe that’s just the Sangiovese grapes’ I told myself. I bravely poured myself a glass and took a sip. It was HORRIBLE! I can’t even tell you what it tasted like but it was unlike any wine I’ve ever tasted. It actually tasted like it was formulated in a chemical plant to me. Absolutely AWFUL! This, my friends, is the first wine in a long time that I actually labeled ‘Undrinkable’. I saved it in my refrigerator with the hopes of at least cooking with it but I can’t bring myself to do that at all. It will be dumped…right after I finish writing this.

So my rating is this…I give it a rating of 4. It gets 2 points for having a cork rather than a screw top and 2 points for the mere fact that it was imported from Italy.

Maybe I got a bad bottle. That’s always a possibility but I am gun shy now and I probably won’t be trying another bottle of this wine any time soon. It was a wasted $9.99 in my opinion.

Europa Choco Vine – Holland

Choco Vine

When I first saw this on the shelves of my local grocery store I thought ‘How can mixing chocolate and red wine taste good?’

Now I admit to loving the experience of a great piece of chocolate while I am sipping a glass of red wine but I’ve never actually thought of combining the two in liquid form and it didn’t seem like something I’d like to try. However when my mom called and asked me if I’d tried Choco Vine and then stated that it was really good, I had to buy some.

I didn’t expect it to taste so good though. You see, since having my first chocolate martini at a Les Paul performance in New York City years ago I have been a big fan of the taste and Choco Vine, to me, tastes almost exactly like a chocolate martini.

My mom, however, describes it as ‘chocolate milk with a really good kick’ and she’s not joking. This dessert wine has a really good kick. A glass and a half will have you with a pretty good buzz going on so it’s not really something you would have multiple glasses of in one sitting.

This wonderful invention is brought to us by the lovely people of Holland and is a combination of chocolate and fine red wine (as the label says). Over all it’s a really nice dessert wine for chocolate lovers. It is very heavy and therefore not something that you would drink a lot of at any one time. The good news is that it keeps for up to six months in the refrigerator after it’s been opened so there’s no pressure to drink it fast.

My rating is a 96. I enjoy a small glass of this wine from time to time usually over ice. It also comes in a chocolate/raspberry wine combo too. I haven’t had that one yet though.

Interesting Wine Facts: Fact #4 – Most Wines South of the Equator are Screwy!

Stelvin capsYes, it’s true! Although I’ve stated in a previous blog that I equate ‘screw caps’ with cheap wine and hobos the fact is that if I want to review any wines from New Zealand and Australia, to name a few, I will most likely have to swallow my pride and purchase a wine with the aforementioned ‘screw cap’.

These ‘screw caps’ also known as a Stelvin cap (named for the company that first invented them back in the late ’60s early ’70s) are predominately used on most wines produced south of the Equator such as in New Zealand and Australia. Although they were met with resistance┬á and phased out in the early 1980’s they were reintroduced in the 1990’s.

Since then the consumer acceptance of these Stelvin caps on wines have gone from 1% in 2001 to 70% in 2004 according to Wikipedia.The main reason, or so I am told from a wise wine instructor, is three-fold.

First off, there is the debate that Stelvin caps actually preserve the wine better and virtually guarantee that the wine will reach the customer in the condition that the wine maker intended it to. Others still argue that the slight oxygen leakage that comes from cork helps the wine age better. Who’s to say who’s right?

The second reason for the re-emergence of Stelvin caps particularly south of the Equator is cost. Cork trees primarily grow in countries that run along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, where there’s plenty of sunshine, low rainfall and high humidity. The countries that produce the most cork include Portugal, Algeria, Spain, Morocco, France, Italy and Tunisia. Because of this geographic dilemma using cork in wines produced south of the Equator adds more cost to producing a bottle of wine. When that happens you pay more for wines from these regions. (That explains that really expensive bottle of New Zealand wine with a cork I saw the other day…but I digress…)

To keep the cost of the wines down in Australia and New Zealand most wineries in those areas use Stelvin caps instead of cork. It’s easier and more cost effective to produce Stelvin caps locally then to ship in cork from all the way across the world.

The third reason that wines south of the equator use Stelvin caps rather than cork is to preserve the environment or so some are saying. I, myself, am doubtful of this. The argument is that all the cork being used for wine will deplete the cork forests however I’ve read other articles (namely this one from About.com) that state just the opposite.

Conservationist, environmentalists, and local cork regions are concerned that if wine producers stop using cork for their bottle closures then the cork forests will be discarded and the local animals and environment that depend on the cork trees to survive will also be discarded and ultimately destroyed. Being the tree-hugging vegetarian that I am I have to say that this view makes more sense to me than the former. It will make it even harder for me to buy a bottle of wine with a Stelvin screw cap.

So there you are! Your little tidbit of wine knowledge for the week. Use it as you see fit. Please feel free to comment, ask questions, and base your decision on cork versus screw top on what makes sense to you. ­čÖé

Sebastiani Merlot 2006 – Sonoma County, CA

From the back label: ‘Our Sonoma County wines are multi-vineyard blends sourced from premium wine growing sites throughout the county. 2006, with its long, mild fall, heightened Merlot aromas and flavors of blueberry, black cherry, and black tea. Aging in both American and French Oak barrels for eight months gave this wine its silky texture and nuances of mocha and vanilla. Enjoy with roasted meats and savory stews.’

Price: $12.99

I have to be completely honest with you. I didn’t really like this wine at all. It was too harsh for my taste. It was very spicy, oaky and….well, just too harsh.

I’ve heard that the best wines come from wineries that grow, produce and bottle their wine on site and this wine may be the wine that puts legs under my table of belief in that subject. The reason being that the last couple of wines that I really like were indeed grown, produced, and bottled on site at a family vineyard. Is this a coincidence or reality? I don’t really know but I now have my interest piqued on this subject and you can be sure that I’ll be watching to see if it is indeed true or not.

So my overall feeling on this wine is that it’s not my cup of tea. Maybe 2006 was a bad year for Merlots for this vineyard or maybe the multi-vineyard sourcing isn’t working for Sebastiani. I don’t know. It’s possible that it’s not really suited for pure drinking meaning that maybe it needs to be had with a hearty meat dish or at least with something bold. I drank this wine by itself without any food influencing its aroma and taste.

Overall I give this wine a rating of 75.