Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Sadler's Well Pinot Noir (Santa Barbara) 2020

Pale cherry hue with aromas of raspberry, a unique teak of menthol, 

Palate--Juicy structure with mouth watering acidity, gentle, fruity, spicy raspberry, with a solid mid-palate but a somewhat watery finish but the profile lingers.

This Pinot from the Santa Barbara AVA is a bit disappointing at this price point ($18).  I have toured Santa Barbara having visited several of the wineries and had a lovely chat with Craig Jaffurs of Jaffurs winery.  I am not "feeling" the review by Matt Kettman of the respectable Wine Enthusiast. Different tasters have different sensitivities but what is clear is this is a solid Pinot with nice Pinot character.  For about half that, the Castle Rock varieties of Pinot Noir off a commensurately pleasing Pinot Noir. It's a decent Pinot Noir but at this price point I would give it a pass.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Bogle Petite Sirah (California) 2020


Classic intense deep dark purple hue with aromas of dark rich blackberry, ripe plum and a hint of blueberry

Palate--Nice first impression with loads of fruit forward goodness, Savory spice, ash, and chocolate covered cherry finish.

Just reviewed this same wine in October for comparison. It is a nice value at the $8 price I paid byt they have since returned to the $12 price point. Raise a glass!

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Ricardo Santos Semillon 2020


Straw hue with aromas of dried mango at the rim, light vanilla, gentle citrus 

Palate--Sharp acidity, mouth filling flavors of fig, and citrus with the congealed honey on the finish.

Semillon, pronounced "Seh-mee-own" is often a blending grape but is also one of the hallowed grapes of the great Sauternes wine of that region in France.  This one surprised me being from Argentina! It is nicely made and I love the racy acidity. I am pairing it with my wife's potato, bacon and horseradish soup tonight.  We'll see......

I paid around $12 I think so raise a glass!

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Artie Cabernet Sauvignon (Australia) (NV) non-vintage

I saw this in my local supermarket with a shelf tag advertising 2 for $12. I looked at the label and noted that it is a non-vintage "Cabernet Sauvignon" which means outside of the grapes originating in Australia and being primarily "Cabernet Sauvignon" grapes, this doesn't tell you much about the quality of the wine.

The label saying "Australia" means only that the grapes from anywhere and everywhere in Australia. The fact that there is no vintage showing on the label means it can be made from juice that has been sitting around from any vintage and then pulled out of storage and made into "wine." For $6, I thoiught it would be interesting to see what you get for that price.  Here goes nothing...

Actually presents with a very nice deeply pigmented hue of aubergine (egg plant.) Aromas of berries, blackberry? and gentle spicing on the rim.

Palate--The moment of truth: perky front palaste with lively acidity, decent enough dark-berry flavor with a zesty mid-palate and a finish that lingers a bit with a savory spice.

OK! Look ya have to be honest; this is a simple but decent wine for the price.  Better than what you would expect. 

This is why I learned early on not to be a wine snob. Some times in years of great harvest, farmers cannot sell off their grapes to their usual buyers because there are just too many. So they dump them for whatever they can get out of the winery buying them and what this means is that occasionally you get a decent wine.  On one rare occasion you get a FANTASTIC wine of surplus grapes that normally sell to high end wineries but the origins cannot be listed on the label.

So bottom line? At $6 I will probably buy a couple more!  Raise a glass!

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Monday, January 22, 2024

Ninety + Cellars Rioja 2020


Deeper garnet hue with aromas of dried cherries, leather, bright fresh cherry above the rim, hints of licorice.

Palate--Big first impression with loads of fruit, vibrant structure, dried cherry with a finish of subtle spice.

This is nice $12 wine made from the signature grape of the Rioja (Spain) Tempranillo (pronounced Temp-ra-NEE-oh) and will pair well with italian foods, bolder cheeses, bolder sauces, or even pizza. Raise a glass! 

"Ninety + Cellars" claims to produce wines that would rate 90 points or more... Not likely but they do tend to release value wines which are reasonably priced. 

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Confidencial Reserva 2018

Intense aromas of ripe plum, baked bread, spicy blackberry on a deeply pigmented deep purple hie.

Palate-- Nice first impression with steely mid palate, perky structure, nice fruit, and lip smacking acidity.

Another great value at $10 so raise a glass!

McManis Petite Sirah 2021 (Lodi)

Deep dark purple black hue with aromas of sweet berry candies, maple syrup, evergreen, subtle bouquet--needs to open.

Palate--Supple mouth feel, fruit forward, penetrating rich dark berry and plum. Finishes with a big spicy berry ending that lingers a good awhile. 

The folks at McManis make this lively Petite Sirah from the AVA of Lodi Ca. At $9 it was a bargain and delicious.  I will be pairing it with my wife's homemade white bean, italian sausage, and kale soup. Raise a glass!

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Mont Gravet "GSM" 2022


The initial pour of this wine yields an intense  dark  nearly black hue with aromas of major ripe dark fruit, a perfumy bouquet, with camphor, and more ripe berries. 

Palate--Surprisingly "sweet" front palate with robust fruit throughout, savory spices but gentle, lovely texture for such a young wine. Flavors linger for a good while begging for another sip.        

This lovely Southern French GSM; a blend of (Grenache, Syrah, *Mourvèdre) grapes the signature blend of the Rhone region of France. This blend comes from the always stellar and a bargain region called the Languedoc Roussillon!

Each of these grapes have now been made into their own **varietals with great success.  This wine is delicious, succulent, and deserving of more than the $12 I paid for it. I only hope I can buy more. 

I will be pairing it tonight with a "French onion tart" which doesn't sound too great on first blush but think of a hand tossed pizza pie, with a heaping pile of crisp bacon match sticks, a blenderized "sauce of cottage cheese and sour cream, baked in a high heat oven. Hungry yet?  It will be GREAT so raise a glass!

* Mourvedre is pronounced "More Ved" according to French as a primary language friends I have...

** a varietal is a wine made from essentially one grape variety. (local regions of the world have their own laws governing what percent of the varietal grape the wine must be in order to be called the name of the grape.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Yalumba "Y Series" Viognier 2021


Flowery bouquet full of ripe pineapple, mango, and tapioca pudding on a pale golden hue.

Palate-- Nice acidic structure with an off dry mouth watering juiciness full of tropical fruit, a gentle citrus beam, but finishes very quickly and wondering "what happened." 

Viognier--pronounced, Vee-oh-Nyay, is a little known grape but the signature grape and only permissible grape in the Condrieu region of France. This is an Aussie wine and it's decent enough but I am not feeling at all the 91 points James Suckling--one of my wine mentors--gives this wine.  

At around $12 it is just "OK" but chill it down a bit and I am pairing it with my homemade Chilean sea bass, Manilla clams and shrimp chowder. It should be a lovely meal. Raise a glass!

Monday, January 15, 2024

Coppola Zinfandel (Red Label) 2021


Young purple/garnet hue with aromas of subdued fruit, subdued spice, adn berry.

Palate-- Spicy sweet first impression, coarse profile, angular, fleeting finish.  It is thin, watery, no character--certainly not Zinfandel.

*This is surprisingly bad. I have been to the gorgeous Coppola winery, I have had some of their "higher" end productions and they are a competent, and well known producer in Napa. This particular Zin is their "table wine" (meaning bottom of the barrel) offering for the masses at $13. I do not often totally dis a wine taking everything into consideration but this one should be avoided.

*After checking what other reviewers said about this wine, I am dismayed by their generous assessment. I stand by mine.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

Billings Farm Cabernet Sauvignon 2021

Nice garnet hue with aromas of sweet plum and dark berry with a soapy smelling bouquet which is quite nice. (No it isn't from actual soap; I use scent free dish soap for my wine glasses as well as on my hands.) Chocolate cake comes in at the end.

Palate--Interesting first impression more like a "wine beverage" than real wine. Flavors are inviting but again, more like fruit juice than wine and yet it is definitely wine. It is cheery, juicy and almost soda popish with a steely finish. 

Now don't get me wrong or think I am snobbish, I am not and 20 years of reviews reveals my average price point is about $10!  You can't be a snob at that price point. A lot of people who say they don't like red wine might actually like this. It is easy to drink, fruity, and not all tannic despite a really bad review I read of this wine.

The grapes are all sourced from California which means it is a hodge podge of grapes from hither and yon and grapes, perhaps which weren't sold to higher end wineries, drop their grapes wherever anyone will buy them.  THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! But...... It does give a bad name to the premier grape varietal for people will taste it and think, "Why on earth do people pay hundreds even  thousands of dollars for a single bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon?" 

Trust me there is a HUGE quality and character difference in a single vineyard Cabernet grown on premier plots. Are they worth $800 for a bottle?  NO! Not in my opinion. No wine is worth that.  But there is a HUGE difference in a GOOD NAPA or Bordeaux or Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon from the myriad $10 cabs out there.

I will pair this with homemade beef stew this evening and it will honestly be simple, straight forward and lovely! Raise a glass!

Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon (NV?) Chile

*Note--Label is incorrect!  "Chile" will be written underneath "Cabernet Sauvignon"          
Nice dark purple hue with aromas of brooding blackberry, a hint of wood in the bowl and a touch of wildness that I usually associate with Zinfandel. 

Palate-- Pretty decent first impression with a mid-palate depth that is unexpected. Fruit forward with sme care in the making, spicy savory mid palate and a finish of wild blackberry.

Smoking Loon is a NAPA, Ca. winery which is why I am blown away with this adventure with Chilean Cabernet. I cut my teeth on Chilean Cabs (as they were new to the game and consequently were great values! I used to acquire Concha Y Toro's premier release--"Don Melchor" for $30-$40 bucks on release. Now you might find them for $70 on up.  

This wine my wife grabbed at a local supermarket reduced to $7.50. It is odd that it is non-vintage but my sense here is that it is a nice value.  I will be paring it with charcoal grilled "boar burgers" and homemnade Mac N Cheese.  Raise a glass!

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Ninety Plus Cellars Riesling (Mosel) 2022

Straw hue with aromas of baby powder, tropical fruit compote, vibrant pineapple.

Palate--OK first impression with a slightly tepid foundation. Steely mid palate-- off dry fruitiness, with a lack luster finish. 

Mosel is perhaps the premier German wine region although I am sure many might dispute that. Having been there and cruising down the Mosel River, the steepness of the vineyard terraces look down-right frightening. Riesling at its best is absolutely charming, vibrant, and hard to say no to a 3rd glass and beyond. At $10 (on sale from $12) it's "meah." 

I will be pairing it with pork chops steamed with sauerkraut and spaetzle (a german pasta) in a nutmeg laced cream sauce. The wine is disappointing but tasty none-the-less.

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Member's Mark Pinot Noir (Monterey County) 2021


Light ruby hue with aromas of strawberry, and fresh cherry with spice hints.

Palate--Nice first impression with sound structure, fruity strawberry, gentle and finessed cherry berry notes with nice varietal flavor. 

Another Sam's Club wine at $13 it is a decent varietal and will probably buy more so raise a glass!

Patòn-Clemente Tempranillo 2020

Garnet hue with aromas of red berry, Savory spice, candied nose with a suggestion of cinnamon.

Palate-- An austere beginning with a puckery structure, savory spices, and fruit with a bitter note.

Tempranillo is the signature grape of the Rioja region of Spain and when it is done well it is VERY good and the price tends to match the quality. This one sadly is not very good on opening however with a little time to breathe I had it with my own pasta creation consisting of tomatoes, anchovies, garlic, onion, porcini mushrooms, and basil and the wine was quite an excellent pairing. 

Some wines are basically good "food wines" and not so good by themselves. This is definitely in the latter category. 

It may be a Trader Joe's selection and I paid under $10 for it and with the right dish, Raise a glass!

Friday, January 05, 2024

Maker's Member's Zinfandel 2021 (Lodi)

Quite a nice deep purple hue with aromas of classic Zinfandel with pretty much straight berries with a touch of savory spices at the rim. 

Palate-- Surprisingly nice first impression with loads of fruit up front, a relaxed even silky structure, and while the finish is pretty quick it is none-the-less Zin all the way. 

In all my years of tasting which goes back to the mid 70's I have had probably 5 times as many Zinfandels as any other varietal. Why?  Because I love them and they are relatively unknown to the masses meaning they are bargains to buy.  

Rosenblum was the Undisputed Heavey Weight Champion of single vineyard Zins and you paid for them, ($25-$45) a bottle.  They were worth it!  But they were bought out by one of the huge conglomerates and their 25+ iterations of Zinfandel have been reduced to a handful. 

So this Sam's Club Zinfandel priced at $8 a bottle is a great value!~ So raise a glass!!! Thank you Sam Walton...

Wednesday, January 03, 2024

Rock Station Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 (*Napa Valley)

The hue of this so-called "Napa Cabernet" is too light for "good" napa Cab, being a medium garnet with pleasant aromas of lightly talced berry, lightly spiced, sweet pomegranate, nearly floral, cherry cream bouquet.

Palate--Uncharacteristic first impression for Napa; lots of dark berries, not much complexity, not much of anything although what's there is drinkable. Finishes super quick.

*Napa Cabernets are the cream of the crop with prices to match. (2020 Screaming Eagle is $2700 for a bottle!) 2021 was a challenging year for Napa for several reasons so the declaration of a "vintage" for Napa is almost surprising. Anyway, Trader Joe's probably bought up this lot from this never heard of--to me--winery getting it for a song but I thought I would spend the $15 for a bottle and see what was offered. I was not expecting much and that is what I got. The worst part of a winery selling such a wine is that unsuspecting people who have heard so much about "Napa Cabs" will grab this and think they have tried Napa Cab. They have not.

Now, paying $2700 for a bottle of wine is lunacy. While I don't agree with the late great, Fred Franzia who said "No wine is worth more than $10 a bottle",  this is NOT what Napa Cabernet is like--not even close.

At any rate I am grilling bone in rib eye's for my wife and I and this wine will work but honestly I would rather have a decent Zinfandel...  Pass on this!

Monday, January 01, 2024

Seaglass Pinot Grigio 2022


Very pale straw hue with nice aromas of vanilla pudding, lovely sweet tropical fruit, ripe pineapple.

Palate--Mouth full of tropical fruit salad, gentle citrus with a decent beam of acidity to make it super fruity without being cloying. Finishes quickly but still hints of tropical lovelliness.

At $9 Seaglass makes a nice Pinot. I will be paring this with fried ham, grits and gravy over biscuits as an homage to our stint in the deep south. Raise a glass and happy new year!