Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Restaurant Wine Menu Challenge

Hints for an upscale restaurant with a voluminous wine list:

The wine "catalogue" is brought to your table and your first thought is, "Is there a Cliff's Notes version of this encyclopedia of fruit of the vine? You pass trying to figure it all out by choosing a $10 glass of wine you "think" you may have heard of.

Trying to keep this brief but meaningful here are some rules of thumb:

1. decide--if you can--whether you might want, red, white, rosé or sparkling.

2.  If you have a preference for a particular country, look for such a highlight. 

                                    --You're narrowing the mysteries down--

3.  *In a list of wines, the better "value" wines tend to be listed in the middle!

                        --Better value means the markup is less than on other wines.--

4.  I have found that most "nicer" restaurants that have a "designated wine person" are excited to make a recommendation for you base on what you tell them. Be honest about your wine IQ, tell them your price range (speaking of by the bottle here) and I have always been impressed how well they do! 

Hints for a routine, limited wine list in a "normal" restaurant:  

Look at the price of your wine by the bottle versus by the glass (if offered).  Wine by the glass is PRICEY! A bottle (750ml) of wine yields 5- 4 ounce pours        or 4-5 ounce pours. So if you are planning to have two glasses of wine each for you and your company, do the math!  A $32 bottle of wine, is cheaper than buying 4 glasses of the same wine for $9 a glass.

Another rule of thumb is that a bottle of wine that costs double what you could buy the wine for in a store is a pretty decent value! Restaurants make big money off their alcohol sales sometimes pushing their markup to 150% over retail.  

Needless to say, I rarely buy wine when I go out to eat. I can't stand being gouged, paying for 1 glass of wine for what I KNOW I could buy the whole bottle for from my local supermarket!

Thursday, September 07, 2023

Storm Point Chenin Blanc 2022


Very pale straw hue with aromas of gentle lime, vanilla, and green apple.

Palate--Off dry, with fruity core and creamy beams of vanilla bean, lime, citrus and a peppy finish that lingers.

I grabbed this at a local wine shop for $14. I have not had a Chenin Blanc in ages and now I wonder why not.  I LOVE Chenin Blanc! This is a South African version which they do very well. 

Chenin Blanc had a metamorphosis about 20 years ago going from a crappy, cloying jug wine to an admirable white wine pairing well with lobster, seafood, some white cheesy pastas, and even some Asian fare. Give it a shot and raise a glass!

Ice in your wine???

You've probably seen it if not even requested it, you order a white wine and you have a couple cubes put in it.        Warning--Professional opinion only: Drinking anything is a personal choice. Every person likes what they like! There is NO authoritative "right or wrong" when it comes to matters of personal preference. 

I have seen people push away a glass of very pricey wine saying, "I don't care for it." That's fair! But that doesn't equal, "it is an inferior wine." So what about adding some ice to a glass of bubbly or Prosecco, or Chardonnay?  Well, there have been a few times--very few--when a wine was served so warm that it was hardly potable. No time to throw it in the freezer for 20 minutes so in goes the ice. 

You have just altered what you actually purchased by watering it down and all the "master" and craft that went into the production of that wine is now destroyed.  BUT--YOU like what you like, so drink up.

Let me use this as an illustration: Living in Maine we enjoy lobster and we served our children lobster when they old enough to make decisions about such matters. Our daughter put ketchup on hers; a lot of ketchup... so we never served her lobster again. She is an adult now and I don't think she has ever bought lobster for herself. But if she did and she paid for it, have it at! But not on my dime. 

One last tip--if you order a bottle of wine at a restaurant ask them how the wine is being stored. Both red and white and rosé should be temperature controlled but that costs money. (Good restaurants will do this but honestly I go to very few "good" restaurants where this would be the practise.) So I rarely order wine when dining out.  

Stay tuned for more information about buying wine when you're out! 

Friday, September 01, 2023

Torre Zambra Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2017

Very nice dark, garnet with intensity, aromas of beautiful seet red and dark berries above the rim, the slightest suggestion of mint, and savory spices.

Palate--Full bodied, delicious berry flavors in balance with savory spices and a ristic note.  The finish lingers for a good while with surprising heft.

I reviewed this wine just a couple months ago and I don't remember it this way but I know I liked it.  

Here is my quote from my initial review--"I'll reserve my assessment for another bottle which I have laid down for a bit. Even at $9 the jury is still out."  Well I LOVE this wine and it is absolutely the 92 points Mr. Suckling gave it when he reviewed it.  I paid $9 for it and will grab more if I have the chance.  Raise a glass!

Sunday, August 27, 2023

"Vino" Rosé 2020 Washington State

Straw hue with a sweet edge in the bouquet with a touch of pine pitch and citrusy melon.

*Palate--Not a great first impression with sour, awkward, bland taste, clunky structure.  All in all--this is PLONK!  Dump it...  

*Ok--PLEASE read THIS!  This is a Charles Shaw wine and he makes excellent wines. So this HAS to be a flawed bottle for reason I cannot fathom since it has a screw top. Additionally, I found that the great James Suckling rated this a 91 point wine and after following his career and reviews with the Wine Spectator for more than a decade, I trust his reviews. So however it happened, this is NOT a fair review of this wine.

M. Chevallier Carte Noire Brut Cava (NV)

Pin prick bubbles on a gentle light golden hue.  Aromas of vanilla and lime.

Palate--Pretty scant on flavor but nicely constructed with a fleeting lemon lime-finish.  

This Trader Joe's exclusive (I believe) is $7 and I mean what do you want for $7?  Truth is, it is crisp, lively, fun in the glass and if you ice it down, it is refreshing and easy to quaff.  

One interesting side note--my wife made Hooters' Hot Wings last night which you would normally think BEER or even a gin and tonic. But wine? Well the truth is, this Spanish sparkler was pleasant in tamping down the heat without any strange mouth feel with such a pairing. So at $7, on balance, I have to say, raise a glass!

Friday, August 25, 2023

Wente "Morning Fog" Chardonnay 2021


Nearly translucent hue with aromas Lemon rind, sweet melon with a spicy kick

Palate--Slow out of the gate, with subdued fruit but lively acid and more fruit emerging as it warms up. Thinner kind of structure, with more fruit--Granny Smith apple- and a touch of tropical fruit salad.

This is a bit of a disappointment from Wente, a producer with whom I began my wine journey back in the mid 70's. I am not tasting the 90 - points the Wine Enthusiast gave this wine nor the profile.  At $14 this is a pass for me!

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Cline Old Vine Zinfandel 2021 (Lodi)

Garnet hue with aromas of Zinfandel wafting over to my nose that is 3 feet away.  Spicy raspberry, 

Palate--"Sweet" first impression but it is NOT sweet, but fruity!  Nicely crafted with loads of perky Zinfandel grapes, dark berry nuances, with vibrant structure and a lovely finish.

Reviewed many times because I drink a lot of it because it is a value--$10--and a great bargain for the price.  Pair it with any thing on the grill! And raise a glass!!!

Monday, August 21, 2023

Lupaia Toscana 2014

Hue is totally "bricked" with a subdue bouquet of aged dark berries and with yet still lingering bright berries over the glass with a melange of aged related goodness.  :) 

Palate--Tart, thickish mouth feel, dark berry and bright cherry. 

This is a "Super Tuscan" created by the legendary "La Lecciaia!"  (Super Tuscan ia a wine that does not adhere to the regulatory laws of Tuscany regarding grape composition etc.) This is a blend of Sangiovese--"the" grape of Tuscany--Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Super Tuscans can get quite pricey especially from this producer heading north of $100 a bottle.  This was $10 in 2014 on release.  Normally an inexpensive wine like this does not have the potential to age beyond 4-5 years but when your "must" is in the hands of a master, anything is possible. This was a wonderful treat found in my daughter's humble inventory. We had it with homemade pizza in a pizza oven and we raised a glass!

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Bogle Pinot Noir 2021 (California)


Medium bodied, lovely garnet hue with aromas of red berries straw/raspberries and bright red candies.    

Palate--Lively acidic structure--a bit harsh perhaps--with mouth filling flavors of tart red berries and mellower berries mid palate and a quick finish.  

This offering from Bogle--generally a value wine would have benefited from 1/2 hour in the fridge.  It is simply too warm to present its best.  This sourced wine from "California fruit" is "ok" but needs to be slightly chilled. Expect to pay a bout $10. But you find better for the same price point.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Tortoise Creek Zinfandel (Lodi) 2019

Garnet hue with aromas of rich berries, laced spice on the edge, and a density of fruit at the rim. 

Palate--Nice mouth feel and first impression of notable Zinfandel fruit with structured mid-palate with everything quite integrated with a nice finish that lingers.

This multiply reviewed Zin at $7 is absolutely ridiculous. I bought a case plus and if any are left when I return (this is out of state) I will buy another case.  

Tuesday, August 08, 2023

VINTJS Redwood Valley (Mendocino Co.) Zinfandel 2021

Cranberry jelly hue with aromas that are a bit unusual with muted fruit and awkward spice at the rim. 

Palate--Again--a bit unusual first impression with strained Zinfandel flavors with uni-dimensional profile that seems like it may be improving with some air. The finish is essentially non-existent.

I don't believe I have ever had this particular Zin (obviously bottled for Trader Joe's exclusively) and it is unimpressive when compared to the numerous other offerings now at the same price point. For the time being I am giving this a big PASS! *If it improves with air, I will update this. It did not improve and in fact became bitter.  Dump down the drain... 

Hmmm...At Trader Joe's today and I am bewildered by the price hikes on many of the wines I generally buy there.  Their Scotto Zin--which I have reviewed many times and is a bargain-- at $8 is now $10. Zins I just paid $10 for there are now $11 and $12.  So instead of buy 6-12 bottles of their zins which is pretty much my norm, I bought 2. 

Friday, August 04, 2023

Tuatea Sauvignon Blanc 2022 (Marlborough)


Light straw hue with aromas of lovely mown grass, citrus, lime, kiwi.

Palate--Vibrant, grassy front palate with lovely lemon/lime mid-palate, with off-dry fruitiness, and a nuance of vanilla curd in the finish. Structure is wonderfully acidic to cleanse that palate after rich, fatty sauces, gravies, etc.

I used to drink a lot more New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and I don't remember why I dropped off. It fills such an important food pairing purpose with rich buttery sauces and the goodness of fresh Maine lobster with "Steamer Clams" which is what was on my menu tonight. It is clean, tasty, balanced and at $7 how can you not buy it up!  Raise a glass. 

Thursday, August 03, 2023

Post Card "Love, Oregon" Pinot Noir 2020

A heftier garnet hue than most Pinot Noirs with an interesting and unique aroma of Spruce above the rim in passing, with red raspberry fruit, and a not quite "minty" presence--again unique!

Palate--Very first impression is of seasoning wood. (I just came in from putting a tarp over our 4 cords of wood for the winter) Raspberry and slightly tart structure finishing with a a fleeting reminder of what you just drank.

This is truly an unusual style of Pinot for me.  I "think" I like it but not quite sure.  Perhaps it will change on breathing. I paid $22 for this Willamette Valley Pinot and I'm still uncertain.  I will add to this review when I have it with dinner (stir fry)  and it has had more time to open. 

Monday, July 31, 2023

Castle Rock Pinot Noir (Mendocino) 2021

Classic light crystalline magenta hue with aromas of truly beautiful hard cinnamon candies, milk chocolate on the edge--again very subtle, sweet pie spices.

Palate--elegant first impression with a zesty spicy mid palate with an integrated loveliness of crafted fruit, nuanced ruby red grapefruit and a warm inviting finish that lingers and screams MORE!

Castle Rock is one of my fave Pinots they do it so well and at a bargain of $10 it is a must to have on hand ALL the time!  Raise a glass!

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Scotto Zinfandel 2017


Cherry hue with bricking at the rim showing its age! Aromas of spicy lighter red berries, with and edge of red grapefruit!

Palate--Lovely, integrated front palate with loads of luscious red berry and spice Zinfandel fruit.

This wine is trending out with age but is still lovely now and drinking very well. Don't hold onto this and at $8 it is fabulous so raise a glass!

Friday, July 28, 2023

Montes LTD Selection 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon 70% Carmenere 30%


Deep nearly black hue with aromas of deep dark blackberries with a twinge of gree at the rim and very light savory spice.

Palate--Smokey first impression, robust structure, loads of rich ripe dark berries and black pepper and smoke on the finish.

Previously reviewed just a month ago with similar notes, this Chilean blend is quite nice even at its "too warm" serving temp which is my fault. I will chill it down some before another glass. Remember that the adage about red wines should  be served at "room temp" was a carry over from the days of yore when "room Temp" meant around 55 degrees in some big old castle or Chateau. So unless you have a temperature controlled cellar don't hesitate to chill your reds down before serving.  (20 minutes before serving or 30 if your wine has been sitting in an 85 degree kitchen.)

$9 marked down from $26 it's a no brainer--Raise a glass!

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Orenellaia Del Cripini Sparkling Apple (Ltd production)

Lovely golden hue with pin prick bubbles and aromas of fresh autumn apples and a touch of pear.

Palate--Lively bubbles with a nice crisp presentation of sweet/tart apple and a clean finish.

This is my own production consisting of 16 bottles. For years I had a hobby vineyard (12 vines) of Marachel Foch wine grapes. After 17 bottlings of plonk I found two wineries that produced this obscure, cold weather hearty grape and they were both terrible. Mine were actually better but still pretty bad so I switched to apple wine since I had apples available to me. I have produced roughly 1-2 cases per year and they are delicious.  So I continue to this day.  Raise a glass!

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewürztraminer 2021


Very pale straw hue with sweet baking spices, pear, green apple

Palate--Fruit filled, off dry first impression with a rather fleeting mid palate and finish. It could benefit from a bit more acid, but it is not off putting.This is not the best offering Ste. Michelle has produced and is rather disappointing. It finishes with a slight peachy ending which is very nice but still lacking from what they used to produce.

This runs around $12 and is "OK" but it could be much better. I am paring it with charcoal grilled bratwurst and it will be a nice foil to the stone ground mustard, sauteed onions and green peppers.  Give this grape another chance and then compare it with one made in Alsace!  Two very different styles, both wonderful when done well! 

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Stark-Condé Pinot Noir (Elgin Vineyard) 2021

Muted, light ruby hue with a touch of brick-red at the rim with aromas of strawberry juice.

Palate--Perky front palate with lively structure, biting strawberry and gentle spice. 

This Pinot from South Africa is a stand out with a unique profile that is inviting and amusing. I will pair this with baked chicken legs and sauteed garden fresh beans from our own garden. Raise a glass!

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Promesses De France Pinot Noir 2021

Rather dark ruby hue for Pinot Noir with lovely aromas of raspberry, strawberry, with a gentle savory spice on the end.

Palate--Classic Pinot first impression with a steely front palate, robust structure, a bit angular, and a really quick finish.

Honestly I find this Pinot lacking when compared to the many domestic Pinot noir's coming out of America and other new world expression.  I am going to put a slight chill on this and hope that it will improve. We'll see. OK, no change really, and even though tis is a really inexpensive Pinot Noir for the same price point I prefer a domestic Pinot with character and leaves you wanting a refill!  So this is just "Meah..."

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Torre Zambra Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2017

Dark berry hue with aromas of fresh, lively, spicy fruit. 

Palate--A richness precedes the actual flavor profile with lively mouth feel, lip smacking tannins full of red cherry berry flavors and a hint of rose water. Ends with a finish that is full of sweet and savory spices. 

I love the fruity simplicity of Montepulciano but this one just kind of leaves me puzzled. James Suckling gave this wine 92 points which is a big score for any wine. I reluctantly wonder about this score on this wine. I'll reserve my assessment for another bottle which I have laid down for a bit. Even at $9 the jury is still out. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Marques de Colbert Utiel-Requena Reserva 2017

Garnet/cranberry hue with lovely aromas wafting above the rim as I sit at my computer. There's almost a candy like quality of the bouquet, filled with cherry, red berry, and just a twist of spice on the end.

Palate--Lively structure with an acidic beam mid palate with a bungle of fruit/spice/ash all jumbled together in the mouth. It needs to breath and I believe it will open up. Indeed it did.

This previously reviewed quaff (February) is comprised of 50% Bobal grape and 50% Tempranillo, the signature grape of Spain.  Now here is the get a grip factor: I paid $6 for this at Trader Joe's and it is a crazy value!  Raise a glass!

Monday, July 10, 2023

Loudenotte Pinot Noir 2021

Lighter cherry hue with aromas of strawberry and spice and a light touch of cinnamon.  

Palate--Sits lightly on the tongue with medium body, intense spiciness, cherry and strawberry fruit.

This is one of those exclusive Trader Joe's buys and at $7 it is a BUY!  The Pay's Doc (pronounced "PAY Dawk") In the south of France the large region comprises many vineyards which produce solid fruit and make superior quality wines at super-value prices. Distinctively different than the domestic value Pinot Noirs of the United States --West and Pacific Northwest--are fresh, fruity, with nice structure and just shouldn't be passed up. 

I will be paring this tonight with a French onion tart which is basically pizza dough with onions tenderized in sour cream and cottage cheese, then topped with loads of bacon! Raise a glass!



Sunday, July 09, 2023

Tortoise Creek Zinfandel "Lodi" 2019


Zesty Zin aromas of stewed berries with spicing on a purple hue.

Palate--Mouth filling flavors of spicy Zinfandel, ripe and ready to go out of the gate. Mid-palate-- zesty tongue feel with stewed fruit and a fleeting but nice finish.

Reviewed previously, I just grabbed another case of this $7 Zinfandel so I will be repeating reviews as I go along looking for consistency in my own reviews as well as how temperature and age affect this wine.  

Until then--raise a glass!

Perseverance Rioja Reserva 2018

Cherry hue with what looks like bricking at the rim. Aromas of nice fruit with yeast notes in the background, subtle root beer suggestions, with snappy spices. 

Palate--Cherry/berry front palate with bold structure and loads of mouth watering, sustaining influences for a number of years of improvement. 

I paid $11 for this bargain Rioja ($23) made from 100%Tempranillo (pronounced Tem-pra-NEE-O and is a nice compromise between "Old World--must be aged a decade" and "New World-- at it's prime close to release." It is juicy, classy and will accompany my charcoal grilled prime rib celebrating my wife's and my 50th anniversary. 

Sweetheart--the moment I laid on eyes on you in high school, I knew you were the ONE. "Forever, for always, no matter what!"  Raise a glass!

Monday, July 03, 2023

Corvelia Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 Side by side review of Scotto Old Vine Zinfandel 2017

Dark magenta hue with lovely aromas of ripe, late season plum, sweet and savory spices.

Palate--Nice even first impression with loads of fruit leading the way, on a relaxed foundation of tannins, lovely dark berry and perky mid-palate, with a lingering finish that makes you want more. 

Darker deep burgundy nearly black hue with aromas of spicy Zin fruit and wild blackberries

Palate--Balanced, supple, straight forward, loads of Zinfandel goodness, spice, and a nice smoky finish.

These two wines "should" be as different as night and day yet they are remarkably similar. Why?

Well for one thing the price point of each wine is about the same, ($10) and what happens is that all the compelling characteristics which are unique to each of these great grapes just aren't there.  This is a result of the quality of the grapes. This is why one Cabernet may run you $150 and a hallmark single vineyard Zinfandel pushing $50. You can only get as good a wine as the quality of the grapes you use. What these wines testify to is the artistry of the winemakers who can use "ok" grapes and make such delicious, even if simple, varietals for this price.  

To be candid, unless you have an experienced palate, you are rather throwing your money away spending $150 on a Napa Cabernet if you have no real idea about the intricacies and complexities of wine. 

Bottom line--These two wines are well made, delicious, and my hat's off to the makers of both!  Raise a glass!

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Giannecchini Family Vineyard 2019


Vibrant ruby hue with aromas of solid Cabernet, a touch of Sangiovese cherry and spiciness and a hint of blackberries.

Palate--Modest tannins, with bursting, vibrant cherry and ripe plum and blackberry fruit on an integrated foundation with beautiful flavors all around.

My wife is out of town and I am hosting a friend of 33 years to dinner of charcoal grilled Teriyaki steak tips. He supplied the wine. It is a beautiful match up for the meal 

The Shannon Family of Wines produced this "Super Tuscan" out of Mendocino fruit. I see it as high as $48 but that would be over priced. My friend paid $24 for it and that is pushing the edge. It is a nice wine, certainly a bold effort, and with some success but Tignanello it isn't. But then it doesn't cost $100 either. 

With our steak tips it was wonderful so raise a glass!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Vignobles Lacheteau Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2021


Pale straw hue with aromas of lemon-lime, fresh green apple, sweet pie spices.

Palate--Watery mouth feel, understated structure, robust l;emon-lime flavors with an off dry presentation. 

I have had this wine several times in different vintages.  This time not so much! Even at $10 I would pass on this as it is just "off."   

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Maison Barboulot "Cabernet-Syrah" 2021

Dark Aubergine hue with aromas of nearly floral sweet flowers, ripe black raspberry and sweet spices.    

Palate--Lively, with slightly tart, mixed berry fruit, a blast of cinnamon red hot candies, dry as dust, with a fruity finish that lingers. 

This previously reviewed wine although a different vintage (2020) is not classically characteristic of either the Cabernet grape or the Syrah grape although the intense dark hue of the pour is certainly Syrah. 

That being said the wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon tend to be really silly bargains and this is certainly a great example of this.  At $6 (Trader Joe's) you just cannot go wrong. I will be pairing this with my grilled lamb chops and I know it will be superior so raise a glass!

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Cockburn's Late Bottled Vintage Port (LBV) 2014

Tar colored hue with aromas of sweet rose blossom, tar, dark ripe plum and blueberry pie.

Palate--Thickish texture with silky, plush tannins and structure. Intense flavors deep and fruity on a velvety mattress, of ripe prune. 

This is a wonderful LBV, not to be confused with a "Vintage Port!" Vintage Port is something special and costs much more than Late Bottled Vintage Port. But for those of us who cannot afford to shell out $80-$150 a bottle for vintage port with some age on it, This is a great experience for a fraction of the price.

Treat yourself and pair this with dark chocolate and find out what comestible paradise is like!  At under $20, raise a glass!

Thanks Kim!

Bogle Old vine Zinfandel 2020

Plum hue with aromas of ripe dark berries, a touch of black raspberry this evening.

Palate--Rich spicy cinnamon right out of the gate, lovely Zinfandel fruit big and bold, and a lively finish!

A steady profile for Bogle and always a keeper at the $10 price point; yet again as a creature of habit I am pairing this with pizzaria pizza and enjoying a blast of Summer in Maine. 

Don't be afraid to chill your red wines down a bit in these summer days.  A wine served too warm, even a decent one will be greatly affected by sitting on a kitchen counter in an unairconditioned house. 30 minutes in the fridge before serving will do it wonders so chill away and raise a glass!

Saturday, June 24, 2023

High Valley Stage "1871" (Lake County) Cabernet Sauvignon 2020


Nearly black hue with rich ripe fruit wafting to my nose as the glass breaths about a foot away. Slight hint of mint, savory spice but mostly an overwhelming bouquet of dark berries.

Palate--Surprisingly balanced for so young a wine with a vibrant structure that is mouth filling with gigantic fruit. 

I was honestly expecting a more complex wine but I believe the vintner(s) produced this for "upon release" drinkability.  This tends to be the M.O. today since people are not really into cellaring a bottle of wine for 5 years --or more-- in order to drink it enjoyably. The tannins are quite mellow for a young wine which could lead to an "early" (relatively speaking) demise regarding cellaring. 

I paid $15 for this marked retail for $30.  This is an easy drinking red wine at $15 but I am glad I didn't pay $30 for it. I am pairing it with my venison chili which we have a lot of because we are Mainers and we hunt and eat off the land, sea, and water. Raise a glass!

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Pampa Estate Malbec 2022


Rich plum hue with aromas of big ripe dark berries, red berries and plum 

This Malbec has a finessed structure and tasty first impression with rich palate and zesty blackberry and notes of cherry.  Gentle spices that enhance the overall profile.  TASTY!

I paid $7 for this Argentinian delight and would buy more if I get the chance.  Really well made and delicious. Raise a glass!

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Grady family Vineyards Petite Sirah (Lodi) 2019

 Gorgeous inky dark magenta hue with aromas of rose petals above the rim immense, sweet black licorice, laced with fruity dark plum, definite cedar note, more flowers, violettes, perfume, gorgeous!

Palate--Silky texture with boatloads of dense fruit, beams of ripe plum, blackberry, and a finish that lingers a good while.

This is a beautiful expression of the grape masterfully made and numerous layers in the bouquet and will only get better with time. This is the difference between solid, well made $10 wines and is step or two up showing why certain wines cost more.

 I paid $17 for this lovely wine and would not have been disappointed if I had paid $25.  I am pairing it with my slow-cooked, BBQ'd spare ribs.  Raise a glass!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

El Miracle Garnacha Tintorera (Grenache) 2020

Brilliant cherry hue with aromas of bright red fruit, cherries and red cherry candies

Palate--Bright, mouth watering presentation with lip smacking tannins and a nice acidity. Nice fruit that needs to open up with air. 

I am pairing this Spanish Grenache with BBQ'd chicken on the grill--real charcoal--and home grown green beans with homemade cheese bread. Decent pairing!

Grenache tends to be a very fruity red berry/cherry kind of grape with a lighter frame than a lot of other bolder reds. Acidic, making it a good food wine more than an aperitif (a wine you might drink all by itself prior to a meal) but their styles do varying significantly depending on the country and vintner making the wine.    I paid $5 for this value wine marked down from $10 so raise a glass!

Monday, June 19, 2023

Marques De Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Finca La Moura (Single Vineyard) 2020

Pours nearly black with aromas of lighter fragrant, sweet fruit above the rim with denser, fruit in the bowl.  All kinds of goodness wanting to break out here. 

Palate--Intense flavor out of the gate, young, not integrated, but what you would expect from such a young cab. It has all kinds of potential.  Juicy blueberry and we'll see how it changes with breathing...

A well made Cabernet from Spain, not one of the "Cabernet" meccas of the world but certainly a nice and different Cabernet from an old world country. I paid $9 for this buy marked down from $16. The respected James Suckling gave this wine 91 points which seems a bit generous but then again I am not James Suckling. Bottom line--raise a glass and let it breathe and if you have the patience, buy a couple and lay one down for a few years. 


Thursday, June 15, 2023

Révélation Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Nearly black hue with aromas of fresh dark berries,blueberry pie, gentle savory spice. 

Palate--Profoundly "sweet" first impression but of course this wine is bone dry. Lacks structure to age well, but is a robus, drinking wine right now. 

From the Pays D'oc producers of Badet and Clement and Co. comes this somewhat generic, popular new-world style of wine that is ready to drink on release. It goes down easy, tastes great is simple and straight forward and tasty so what's not to like. At $7--Trader Joes, raise several glasses!!!

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Givon Chardonnay (Galilee Dry White) 2021

Nearly clear hue with aromas of fresh lemon lime-fruit, and tropical fruit.

Palate--Too cold out of my wine fridge: Heavy on the acidity, mouth watering, clean and crisp, with a mouth watering palate cleansing acidity.

This may be my first and only wine I have had from the Galilee region of the world. It is lip smacking with acid--and I love acid but this is a bit too much, but would certainly cleanse your palate of a nice buttery lobster dinner! I served it with Maine mussels, and bay scallops and it worked "OK" but it  is really "too" over the top structurally.  Never-the-less at $7, I enjoyed the experience of a wine from somewhere I wouldn't have expected. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Montes Cabernet Sauvignon/Carmenere 2017

Intense Plum hue with aromas of boysenberry with green notes, asparagus, some sweet cream notes

Palate--Perky first impression with enthusiastic structure, big dark berry flavors, finessed tannins, tar, loads of spices, and dried berries mid-palate, finishing quickly with a smoky ending.

Montes is on of the accomplished Chilean wine producers and does Cabernet quite well. This has a touch of Carmenere, a blending grape yet has been produced as a varietal with some success in Chile.  This is from the Colchagua Valley one of the premier grape regions. This 6 year old Cab blend is well made and a value at $9 when it runs around $18. If you haven't reached out to Chile and given them a chance you are missing out on some of the best the world has to offer so raise a glass!

Monday, June 12, 2023

Starscape Vineyard "Sleeper" Chardonnay 2018

Light golden hue with aromas of lemon, cinnamon, and mixed citrus.

Palate--Nice presentation, with vibrant acidity, off dry fruitiness, lingering finish of creamy tropical fruit.

This Russian River AVA (Sonoma) is quite nice and an excellent value for around $25. It is classy Chardonnay and well made. When I tasted this it was already open for a day so the first impression could be significantly different. Either way this was a nice treat so raise a glass!


Sunday, June 11, 2023

Casa De Campo Malbec 2021

Cherry hue with aromas of spicy berry with a touch of caramel, 

Palate--Acidic foundation with decent, if immature structure, lip smacking tannins, with a spicy finish.

I grabbed this on a recent trip to New Hampshire paying $7.50 for this regularly marked $14 Malbec. The signature of Argentia this is too young, tightly wound and austere. None of these are criticisms of the wine, just reflecting on the youthfulness of the wine. It has potential and with another couple years should improve greatly. If you see it for around $10 in a couple years give it a shot.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Tortoise Creek Zinfandel 2019 (Lodi)

Garnet to ruby hue with light aromas of Zinfandel grape and savor spice.

Palate--Richer than expected, mouth watering acidity, nice blackberry fruit with loads of Zinfandel character. Finishes with a rush of black licorice and a subtle, but lingering finish.

OK--stop everything!  I just stopped at a state liquor store where I love to shop for my wine cellar as they have crazy bargains galore. I snagged this--unknown to me--$6 Zinfandel on special from $15! So I opened it first thing not knowing what to expect except I tend to really appreciate Lodi Zins. Now I wish I had bought a case or two it is that good and an extraordinary buy. If you see one around, grab it.  Even at $15 it is worth a try!  Raise a glass!!!

Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 2004

Slightly tinged, w/ bricking at the rim, flowing into a touch of amber with an amazing bouquet of a mature red wine, but with plenty of bright cherries and a touch of black licorice and savory spice accompanied by a touch of dark chocolate. 

Palate--Silky mouthfeel, bright acidity, cherry, spice, gorgeously mature Sangiovese grape with a lip smacking provocation.

I have such a history with this wine.  Was able to purchase it years ago by the case for around $12 a bottle when it was only perhaps 5 years old. It was so good I had to just keep buying more while it was available.  Then I exhausted my supple.  Shoot up to this 2023 and I find one hidden away at my daughter's house who doesn't care for red wine. So, I grabbed it and opened it not expecting it to be as preserved as it was after 19 years. What a spectacular treat and worth the wait. With my daughter's home-made pasta dish it was glorious and we raised a glass til it was gone! 

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel 2020

Youthful purple hue with aromas of Spicy ripe plum and blackberry.

Palate--Wonderful fruity, black berry fruit bomb with highlights of savory spice, well made, delicious, and great all by itself.

Previously reviewed just about a month ago with a slight variation in the hue. Otherwise, consistent review and always well made, Bogle wines are value wines (around $10) so raise a glass of their many offerings and you won't be disappointed.

Marquis De Colbert Utiel-Requena Reserva 2017

Impressive garnet hue with aromas of sweet red fruit punctuated with spicy herbs, faint floral red flowers, and more spice.

Palate--a slightly tart first impression with puckering tannins, somewhat shallow structure with a somewhat austere presentation which may be due to tasting on opening.  Finishes with a stingy even if lingering presence of dried red berries.

This previously reviewed wine (back in February) seems to be fading quickly based on my review back then. Don't let this one sit around! Again, this is a Trader Joe's offering at the $7 price point which is crazy and even though this isn't the wine it was just 5 months ago, it is a crazy good value at this price.  I will be pairing it with a home made pasta dish and Prosciutto.  *I am confident it will be a very nice match so raise a glass! 

*It was indeed a very nice pairing with my pasta dish!

Sunday, June 04, 2023

Tènébres (GSM) 2021

Intense deep purple hue with aromas of rose petals, dark fudge, and rich ripe blackberries and the slightest note of cinnamon.

Palate--Silky first impression with relaxed tannins, and loads of nice dark fruit, blackberry pie, and maybe a touch of blueberries.

This is a blend of the three classic Rhone wine grapes consisting of 40% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 30% Mourvedre. The color is due to the Syrah grape which is always intense in its vibrant color. This is a "jammy" wine if you ever wondered what someone meant by this.  It is full of fruit and truly reminds you of blackberry pie.

Another Trader Joe's super value wine at $7 and it is a really easy drinking creation with character aso raise a glass!

Saturday, June 03, 2023

Summer Wine Suggestions!

Ya want to chill down a tasty wine beside the pool, a picnic, the lake sitting on your deck with friends. You walk into the wine section of your grocery store or even more discombobulating, into a real wine store. The choices are a maze of hundreds of wines of myriad colors and hues. 

My first rule: Stay away from basically any wine with a "cutesy" label, animals on the label, or some crass name like "Fat Bastard." Also avoid the ubiquitous "Yellow Tail" brand. For the same price or less, you can get a decently made wine!

1. Rosés:  Most are not the sugary, flabby, or tasteless wines they were 20 years ago. Available from a host of countries, and made from a plethora of grape varieties, these are nice, chilled-down wines (in an ice bucket or fridge, NOT by putting ice in your wine glass!)

2. Whites:  A host of super fruity white wines that are great by themselves like Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc, or blends of a varying nature. These might urge you to say, "This is sweet" when in reality they may be bone dry but because they are so fruity, you may think they are sugared up when they are not. Chardonnay, Muscat, Muscadet, Semillon (can be dry or sweet) and Pinot Gris. 

3.  Reds:  Beaujolais (which will be French) are delightful with a chill on them, and Pinot Noir as well. Solid and value Pinot Noirs are coming out of California, and Oregon as well as Europe.

4.  Bubbly: Sparkling wines are always easy to find and usually refreshing and crisp. 

Bottom line: If you are at a wine store, their staff tends to be knowledgeable and can make great recommendations.  Just tell them your price point (how much you want to spend) and they can make some solid recommendations.  Have fun!  Stay safe! And savor the glories of Summer! 

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Josephine Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 (PAYS D'OC)


Garnet hue with a lighter presence and aromas of ripe black raspberry and plum with a touch of spice.

This Cab from the southern region of France is easy to drink, fresh, full of fruit, simple and not exactly representative of the classic Cabernet Sauvignon but easy to enjoy nonetheless. 

Now here's the get a grip factor:  This is a Trader Joe's wine selling for $7 and while it is not "classic Cab" it is well made, tasty and a nice accompaniment to my lamb burgers on the grill but will pair nicely with a whole bunch of cheeses, game or just all by itself chilled down a little bit.  At this price you can't really complain so raise a glass!