Monday, March 30, 2009

Columbia-Crest, Two Vines Merlot-Cabernet, 2005 ($7)

Washington State

Earlier last year I had the “Two-Vines Vineyard 10" which I thought was very nice and an affordable red blend, so I decided to try the Merlot-Cabernet blend. For the price, I couldn't go wrong.  Guess what, I’ve been back to snatch up more before the price heads north! I found it at my local Albertsons grocery store in Florida.

Aromas of raspberries (maybe even strawberries) blend with a light oak, woody scent.  It didn’t seem like the aromas were overly complex; which kept things simple.  The first taste always fools me so I’ll go with what I tasted on the second sip.  By the way, that can be true with many 1st sips.  Don’t judge too quickly and on that 2nd sip think about what you taste for 30-60 seconds, after the wine has left your mouth.  You’ll be surprised from the different flavors that hang on.

With the second taste, the fruit flavors were definitely prevalent with blackberry and vanilla supporting this light bodied, low acidity, silky blend. Flavors of cocoa and spice with a slight earthy hint (no not dirt!) rounded out the finish.

This blend is a mix of 60% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in oak barrels. Overall this is a flavorful blend everyone will enjoy and it won’t break the bank!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tormaresca Neprica, 2006 ($10)

Puglia, Italy

I would have never thought to try this wine if it hadn’t been for attending the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.  I met a distributor and emailed him after the event to ask if they had any other red blends that I should try.  After finding this wine in my local grocery store Publix (FL), I was just happy to find it on the shelf, given the many wines people tell me about yet difficult to find.  (It may not be in all Publix stores, try to request it.)

I’ve only been to Italy once and it made my Italian mom happy, as I was able to join my parents there and meet mom’s relatives in Ravenna.  Her aunt is 90+, still going strong and since my visit, I often make her homemade Limoncello recipe.  Being raised in the USA and never really learning Italian or studying the geography of the country, here is what I can share in regards to this unique wine.

The region of Puglia is in southern Italy and located in what’s called the “heel of the Italian boot.” Tormaresca means “tower by the sea” and is named for the many towers that line the coast of the Adriatic sea in this region.  When I first poured this full bodied blend it showed off its deep ruby red color hinting to a surprise of aromas and tastes soon to follow. Dried fruits, leather and a hint of earthiness from its aromas led me to believe I was about to sample a very dry wine.  I was wrong!  Up front flavors of currants, blackberry and plum reminded me of a hearty Cab or spicy Zin. On the finish: hints of licorice, black pepper and oak (even though its unoaked) rounded out this pleasant new find for me.

The wine is actually a blend of 3 grapes (40% Negromaro, 30% Primitivo, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon).  After some research on 2 of the unknown grapes (to me), I found that Primitivo is actually a twin to the Zinfandel varietal. Negromaro is a varietal predominately grown in the Puglia region with full fruit characters and good tannic structure. You won’t be disappointed with this wine especially if you pair it with a bolognaise sauce or baked ziti which is what I had it with.  Chin, chin!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Farallon Chardonnay, 2007 ($9)

Woodbridge, CA (Central Coast)

I honestly didn’t get a tip on this purchase other than seeing another shopper loading her basket with a few more bottles than the average vino drinker might buy. Now for those of you who know me, I wasn’t shy to ask 
“…what’s up with this wine and would you please leave one on the shelf for me to try?” She smiled, said it was very good and kind enough to leave me a bottle to take home.  Since then, I've been back for plenty more!

In general, I’m an oaky, buttery, Chardonnay fan. Kendall Jackson Chard. has always been a good-old standard in the house although I think I’ve found an equal contender for slightly less $$. You’ll find soft aromas of pear and green apples followed by flavors of peach, pineapple and ripe melon. With a favorite finish of mine being toasty oak and a light buttery flavor, your palette won’t be disappointed. The remaining flavors on the finish are slightly sweet followed by a tart aftertaste, which fades quickly, revealing an easy drinking and quite refreshing wine.

I would recommend chilling your bottle in the refrigerator for an hour or more as it should be served chilled.   If you’re in a hurry, make up an ice bath (ice & water) in your wine bucket and place the bottle in there for 15-20 minutes (with some twirling of the bottle every few minutes).

I had this wine with parsley, breaded seared scallops, porcini/roasted red pepper orzo, sauté spinach in olive oil & garlic and a salad of fresh picked tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow peppers and scallions in an olive oil & balsamic dressing.  Yes…I made the dinner so the enjoyment of the wine was even better!  I could see this wine as a great intro. to spring or summer paring it with grilled salmon or a pasta dish like Fettuccini Alfredo.

Hey Dad, you’ll love this one with your favorite Carbonara.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mollydooker "The Boxer" Shiraz, 2006 (apx. $20)

McLaren Vale, South Australia

This bottle was given to me by a friend - I'm guessing she bought it for the fun label and hopefully, also on a good recommendation from the store's wine expert. The label is fun and has a good story (see below) but I'm not into a cute label when searching out new wines. Mostly I'm interested in the quality tied to the price point.  Even though I didn't buy this bottle, this vino did not disappoint!!!

Wow, with great aromas of currants, plum, a hint of chocolate and spicy sensations, I almost wanted to hold off on the tasting.  But that's silly!  The taste was even better...with a full flavored explosion of fruity, blackberry flavors leading to a spicy finish, I didn't stop at one glass.  I'm guessing (remember I'm no pro at this) that the spicy finish is probably from the higher alcohol content (16%).  A smooth and rich wine at a good price can you go wrong? 

After such a wonderful experience with this wine, I did a little research. Since I haven't got into rating the wines I taste with any sort of numbering system, which I may do in the future, I found that this vintage received 90pts. from Wine Spectator and the '05 vintage got 95pts. from Robert Parker along with his "Best Wine Value in the World Under $20."

To wrap things up and give you a little insight on the label, here is the definition for "Mollydooker." Its Aussie for left-hander.  The boxer on the label has 2 left gloves, sure to knock you out!

Check out the Mollydooker website and learn how to do the Mollydooker Shake...with their wines of course!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Villa Mt. Eden Zinfandel, Fox Creek, 2002 ($13-15)

St. Helena, CA (Napa)

After being introduced to a new "wine guy" in one of my local liquor stores, which carry a nice selection of wines, I was becoming discouraged at everything he was showing me.  $35 and up wasn't for me and usually isn't, as I prefer to keep my price point affordable under $20 (unless it's something I've tried and would like for a special occasion).  Well, I credit him with turning me on to this wonderful Zin that I've come back for more!

This was a pleasant find, great priced and a 2002 vintage encompassing delicious characteristics.  I'm not sure how long it will remain in stores therefore if you find it! With aromas of oak and ripe berries my first taste encompassed a fruit forward enjoyment yet not overly sweet.  Flavors of raspberries and vanilla were predominate in every sip thereafter.  The finish is gentle and silky with low acidity.  I would drink this one now!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Red Guitar Tempranillo-Garnacha, 2006 (under $12)

Navarra, Spain

A friend gave me this bottle as a gift and I wasn't sure what to expect.  Well, I was pleasantly surprised and really liked it!  I would recommend this wine for those that primarily drink whites and interested in venturing to the "red" side.  For those of you new to different varietals (grapes), Garnacha is the same as Grenache. It's most notable in French Southern Rhone blends such as Chateauneuf du Pape and Cotes du Rhône.  (some of my favorite wines when I have the $$$)  Although the French have benefited from the Grenache success it's origin is from Spain.  Tempranillo on the other hand is a primary red wine grape for much of Spain.

Enough with the varietal lesson...although I hope it helped some of you.  The aromas from this wine are not overpowering and have hints of leather, dried fruit and a slight rustic sense.  With a medium-light body feel on the tongue, flavors of Raspberry and Black Cherry come together to form a slightly sweet, fruit forward and very drinkable wine.  The finish has a moderate smoky and spicy vanilla hint, probably due to the oak barrel fermenting.  The tannins are hardly noticeable therefore supporting my recommendation for those white wine drinkers to try.

I first enjoyed this wine with grilled Halibut and hoisin glaze. My next meal/wine parring was with a grilled aged NY strip that when traveling, I get from OCHS Prime Meats in the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.  The wine worked great with both meals although I'm sure would pair well with other grilled entrees such as pork and lamb.  Red Blends have been my favorite for a few years now.  I think the art of the winemaker blending certain varietals into a creation for us to enjoy is amazing.  This blend is 55% Tempranillo and 45% Garnacha.

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