Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christian Moueix 2003 Merlot, Bordeaux, France - $11

Mom had this wine on her wine rack, and I was curious to try it. It was rated 86 points by Wine Enthusiast and 90 points by Wine News. It was also ranked #95 of the top 100 wines for 2007 by

Aroma - dark fruit
Taste - tobacco, dark fruit and chocolate, soft tannins

We had this wine with chicken curry, and it was quite good! I'd love to purchase it if there are still bottles available!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Red Truck Zinfandel 2006, Sonoma County - $10

Walking distance to my MIL's place in CA is a Sprouts Market. This was my first time in a Sprouts, and I was pleasantly surprised at their selection of CA wines under $10. I bought this 2006 Zin on super-sale for $5 - it's usually $10 a bottle, though. Wine Enthusiast rated it 85 points.

Aroma - at first raisins and pepper, then opening up to dark fruit and pepper
Taste - dark fruit, spice, leather

My BIL (AB) really liked this wine. We had it with my MIL's Chicken Cacciatore, and I think it was a really good food and wine pairing. Since Zin's identical twin is the Italian Primitivo grape, I think that Zins go so well with Italian food!

Wyland Inaugural Cabernet Sauvignon 2005, Paso Robles, CA - $25

This Cabernet is part of the Wyland collection at Laguna Canyon Winery. Proceeds from the Wyland collection go to a non-profit organization that preserves oceans and sealife. The bottle costs $25. This wine won a gold medal at the Orange County Fair.

Aroma - smoky, inky
Taste - inky, anise, strong tannins

I liked this wine, and did consider purchasing it.

Laguna Canyon Winery Zinfandel 2005, Mendocino, CA - $28

This Zinfandel is listed at $28 a bottle.

Aroma - blackberries, pepper
Taste - D thought licorice, moderate tannins

We ended up purchasing a bottle of this wine at the winery - can't wait to try it with some Italian food!

Update - April 3, 2010
Aroma - dark fruit, dark chocolate
Taste - dark fruit, dark chocolate, moderate tannins

We had this wine with Ribollita - it was very good with the soup, especially after a very, very difficult day.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dunn Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2002, Napa Valley, CA - $100

Okay, this Cabernet is the best-tasting wine I have ever had in my life. Although it was only rated 89 - 91 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate (depending on which site you reference) and 90 points by Steven Tanzer's International Wine Cellar, I think I would have rated it a 100! Not that I've ever tasted a 100 point wine in my life (they are out of my price range), but I'm sure this one gets close!

Aroma - red fruit
Taste - minerality, red fruit, soft tannins

I would TOTALLY buy this wine for myself - if I could afford it!!!!! Thanks to JG, my BIL, for sharing it with us during our CA Christmas celebration!

Byzantium Rosso di Valachia 2002, Romania - $12

This redwine is produced by Cramele Halewood from the region of Dealu Mare, Sub - Carpathian Hills - Muntenia, Romania, and is a blend of 35% Fetească Neagră, 35% Pinot Noir, and 30% Merlot. I was excited to try a Romanian wine - it's not a region that I usually think of when I think of red wine. DL and JL brought this wine to our little get-together this morning. I had it with veggie burgers, red onions, lettuce, tomatoes, mustard, and ketchup.

Aroma - fruit, pepper
Taste - old world (musty), earthy, red fruit, tart cherries, moderate tannins

This wine was okay - probably not my first choice, since I have my limits with regards to the mustiness of the old world wine styles.

Cline Cellars Oakley Five Reds 2006 - $10

This Cline Cellars red is a blend of 74% Merlot, 7% Barbera, 6% Cabernet Franc, 3% Syrah, and 1% Mourvèdre. Again, bought this wine on the run at Albertsons last night with D pacing next to me.

Aroma - tight at first, red fruit
Taste - red fruit, soft tannins

I had this with chili and tortilla chips, and artichoke dip with pita chips. Not sure if it was the best pairing, and will have to try it again with other foods to see if I really like it! But haven't seen this wine here in TX - note to self to look for this again and do a more focused tasting.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Gnarly Head California Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 - $13

Now I love me some Gnarly Head Old Vines Zin, so when in a pinch with D pacing ants-ily next to me at Albertsons between our trip from the OC airport to my MIL's house, I grabbed this familiar-looking bottle, not realizing that I had picked up a Cab instead of a Zin until I reached the register.

We had this wine with Borscht, which is a Ukranian red cabbage soup (at least my MIL's version is made with red cabbage, I think. It also has ground beef in it).

Aroma - floral (a surprise - couldn't figure out if it was the dishwashing detergent or truly the wine)
Taste - black fruit, slightly sweet, moderate tannins

I didn't love this wine, and probably won't buy it again unless I mistakenly pick it up again. It was actually on sale for only $9, but the regular Albertsons price was $13.

Update December 28, 2009
Same bottle a couple of days later...

Aroma - raisins, woodsy
Taste - black tea, cedar, dark fruit

Friday, December 25, 2009

Less than stellar wines

Let me just say that some wines taste like cherry cough syrup, or beer - no wines should have these flavors! I'm not interested in trying these wines again.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chateau Ste Michelle Merlot 2005, Columbia Valley, WA - $15

This Washington State Merlot is actually a blend of 83% Merlot, 14% Syrah, and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is not typically one of my top red wine choices, but this one rated fairly well - Wine Enthusiast gave it 89 points, and Wine Spectator gave it 88 points. This was a gift from JB, who originally opened my eyes and mind to good red wines. Thanks JB!!

Aroma - fruit and spice
Taste - licorice, soft tannins, bitter end

This wine can be found online at a cost of $13 to $17.

Update - same night, 8:42pm
As this wine opened up, I could taste a bit more minerality. Very interesting!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cuatro Pasos Mencía 2006, Bierzo, Spain - $13

From the Martin Codax Winery, this red wine is 100% Mencía from D.O. Bierzo, Spain. I purchased it for $13 at Whole Foods. It's rated 91 points by Wine & Spirits, a Best Buy by the Wine Enthusiast, 88 points by the Wine Advocate, and is imported by Eric Solomon.

Aroma - fruity, cassis, hot
Taste - fruit, DRY, strong tannins

I don't tend towards wines that exhibit aromas and tastes of overwhelming alcohol. We had this wine with the Coq au Vin tonight.

Domaine de Nizas Coteaux de Languedoc 2005, France - $13

This French red wine is a blend of 60% Syrah, 35% Mourvèdre and 5% Grenache. Wine Spectator rated this wine at 91 points, and I purchased it at Costco for $13.

Aroma - earth and pepper
Taste - fruit, spice, and moderate tannins

I served it with the Coq au Vin that I made for MS and SD tonight. Really excellent! Again, I'm a firm believer in pairing wines with cuisine from the same region/country!

Vincent Saincrit Grand Vin de Bordeaux 2005 - $9

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this Grand Vin de Bordeaux for sale at Costco for just $9. According to the label on my bottle (see the image below), the wine is 80% Merlot and 20% Cab Sauv, and from what I remember reading in Wine Spectator, 2005 Bordeaux is supposed to be an extremely good vintage!

I did drink a little glass of this wine, but I used most of the bottle for my Coq au Vin (Barefoot Contessa's recipe, of course). MS and SD were coming over for dinner, and I wanted to be sure that I used a dry French wine to cook the meal. It was dry enough, not very fruity, with that musty flavor that I always associate with big French red wines.

Update - March 8, 2010
Had this wine with veggie chili tonight, and they went well together!

Aroma - dark fruit
Taste - dark fruit, black tea

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cline Cellars Zinfandel 2008, California - $10

Cline Cellars knows all things Zin. This winery is truly one of my favorites for Zinfandel (including their label, Red Truck).

Aroma - fruity, peppery
Taste - fruity, peppery

Just love a good, reasonably-priced Zin! Would love to try this one next to a Cline Ancient Vines Zin of the same vintage!

Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red 2007 - $12

Another wine from JB's party. I love reds from Paso Robles, so I was really eager to try this one. According to the winery's website, this red is a blend of 45% Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Paso Robles Syrah, 6% Paso Robles Merlot, 5% Oakville Syrah, other mixed reds (hmmm... mysterious).

Aroma - fruit and dark chocolate
Taste - dark fruit and dark chocolate, soft tannins

I'd definitely buy this one for myself - and how can you possibly resist a wine called "Tenacious Red?!"

Angeline Pinot Noir 2008, California - $11

Tried this wine tonight at JB's Glögg party, an annual tradition during which everyone indulges in great food and great wine!

Aroma - light, fruity
Taste - white pepper, fruit, moderate tannins

I'd probably purchase this wine myself - it was interesting and I'm always on the lookout for a good Pinot (because they are hard to find!).

Update - Red Truck 2006 Zinfandel Mendocino County (organic grapes) - $11

See this wine's main posting for the update!

Update - El Coto Rioja Crianza 2005, Special Cuvée, Spain - $12

I tasted this wine again tonight - see the main post for the update!

Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Chile - $10

Wine & Spirits rated this Chilean Sauvignon Blanc 90 points. I tasted it this afternoon at Whole Foods, where it was priced at $10.

Aroma - tropical fruit
Taste - light, crisp, refreshing

I purchased a bottle to pair with seafood.

Update - February 5, 2010
We brought this wine to share at J&J's Night of Amazing Thai Food because I thought that the crispness of the wine would pair nicely with seafood and Thai spices. This wine did not disappoint! We enjoyed it with the Goong Sarong (crispy marinated shrimp with sweet dipping sauce), Tom Yam Goong (spicy and sour soup with shrimp), Plaa Thawt Sahm Rot (deep-fried fish with three-flavored sauce), and Khao Phat (fried rice), and it went very nicely with each dish! I also had some at the end of the evening with the fabulous coconut ice cream and wafers. What a wonderful evening of food, wine, and best of all, friends!

Paso a Paso Organic Tempranillo 2008, La Mancha, Spain - $10

This organic Spanish Tempranillo from Bodegas Volver is currently on Whole Foods top 10 list, and is selling for around $10 there. Jay Miller rated it 89 points in Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Aroma - bright, fruity
Taste - fruit, earth, strong tannins

I liked this wine and its price point enough to purchase it. Will try it with tomorrow's beef stew - with its strong tannins it should hold up nicely.

Update Sunday December 20, 2009
As mentioned, I paired this wine with beef stew made from the Barefoot Contessa's recipe.

Aroma - less fruity, peppery
Taste - red fruit, pepper, strong tannins, just a tad bitter

I wonder now if I should have tried this with different food. I used some very hearty red wine in the beef stew, and the two wines could have been clashing with each other.

Parker Beef Stew


  • 2 1/2 pounds good quality chuck beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 (750-ml bottle) good red wine
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut diagonally in 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 pound white mushrooms, stems discarded and cut in 1/2
  • 1 pound small potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 cups or 1 (14 1/2-ounce can) chicken stock or broth
  • 1 large (or 2 small) branch fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas


Place the beef in a bowl with red wine, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper. Lift the beef out of the marinade with a slotted spoon and discard the bay leaves and garlic, saving the marinade. In batches, dredge the cubes of beef in the flour mixture and then shake off the excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot and brown half the beef over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Place the beef in a large oven-proof Dutch oven and continue to brown the remaining beef, adding oil as necessary. (If the beef is very lean, you'll need more oil.) Place all the beef in the Dutch oven.

Heat another 2 tablespoons of oil to the large pot and add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Place all the vegetables in the Dutch oven over the beef. Add 2 1/2 cups of the reserved marinade to the empty pot and cook over high heat to deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken stock, rosemary, sun-dried tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables in the Dutch oven and bring to a simmer over medium heat on top of the stove. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to bake it for about 2 hours, until the meat and vegetables are all tender, stirring once during cooking. If the stew is boiling rather than simmering, lower the heat to 250 or 275 degrees F.

Before serving, stir in the frozen peas, season to taste, and serve hot.

Update - March 2, 2010
Had this wine during our LOST viewing party last night. Tried it with awesome fresh tortilla chips from Whole Foods, and a pico de gallo and green dip. Also had some BBQ Pop Chips with it - all good!

Aroma - light fruit, a little spice
Taste - light fruit, moderate tannins, black tea finish, sediment

El Miracle 120 Tempranillo/Shiraz 2006, Valencia, Spain - $13

This Spanish red wine blend by Vicente Gandia is 65% Tempranillo and 35% Shiraz. I tasted it this afternoon at Whole Foods, where it was selling for around $13.

Aroma - very fruity
Taste - fruit (which disappears quickly), moderate tannins, bitter finish

Update - January 24, 2010
Had this wine with Beef Roulade and arugula salad tonight at MS and SD's - it went well with the meal, and seemed to open up and get more mellow as time went on.

Aliança Classico Tinto Reserva 2001, Portugal - $13

This Portugese red wine made by Caves is a blend of several types of Tinto grapes, according to the rep from the wine distributor conducting the tasting at Whole Foods today.

Aroma - dark, inky
Taste - inky, very strong tannins

I'd have to be in just the right mood for this wine. It would go really, really well with a hearty meal. I didn't buy it today.

Altano Red Wine 2007, Duoro DOC, Portugal - $8

This Portugese red blend is made from 75% Tinta Roriz and 25% Touriga Franca. I tasted it this afternoon at Whole Foods, where it was on sale for $8.

Aroma - dark fruit
Taste - dark fruit, strong tannins

Quite a good value for the price, so I purchased a bottle today.

The Show Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, California - $13

This California Cabernet Sauvignon by Three Thieves is most recognized for its amazing label, created by the historic Hatch Show Print company that also creates the posters for the Grand Ole Opry. It is a blend of 89% Cab Sauv and 11% Petit Sirah.

Aroma - bright fruit
Taste - fruit, moderate tannins

I tasted and purchased this wine at Whole Foods this afternoon. It was on sale for $13, and I purchased a bottle to open with the beef stew I'm preparing tomorrow night.

Update - Sunday December 20, 2009
Tasted this wine again with beef stew (the Barefoot Contessa's recipe).

Aroma - fruit, dark chocolate
Taste - dark fruit and dark chocolate

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bowling Alley Wine - Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 - $4 per single-serve bottle

I can't believe that I actually drank wine at a bowling alley and lived to tell about it. I even ate food (chicken tacos) and survived!

Let me preface this by describing my last glass of wine at a sporting venue - a glass of red from a box at an Austin Ice Bats game in the late 1990's - indescribably sick for the next few hours - never drinking wine (esp. from a box) at this type of venue again.

Enter the Dart Bowl. Wasn't too sure about the possibility of alcoholic refreshments at this establishment (as I don't drink beer or hard liquor, and experience warned me away from any type of wine, as it was most likely spoiled if already opened - I mean, how many people drink wine at bowling alleys)?

But when I went up to the bar, I was pleasantly surprised at the new/unopened individual-sized bottle the bartender held up. Although it was Sutter Home, which I can probably buy at the supermarket for about $6 per 750ML bottle, this little 187 ML bottle of Cab Sauv at only $4 per serving seemed positively radiant next to the other possibilities. I had a couple of glasses (well, plastic cupfuls) with nachos and french fries (some with chili-cheese on them), then had the third glass with my chicken n' chilies soft tacos, refried beans, and rice.

Aroma - fruit
Taste - watery, weak tannins

Far from ideal, but drinkable in a pinch!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

MK's recommendations - A-Mano Primitivo 2006, Puglia, Italy - $10

MK recommended this Primitivo, which is the Italian equivalent of the Zinfandel grape. Not saying that they taste the same, but they are apparently the same grape varietal. For just around $10, I definitely want to try this one!

From Remembrance of Wine Past:

A-Mano, the producer of the wine, is a combined effort of American winemaker Mark Shannon and partner Elvezia Sbachiero. A-Mano means literally “by hand”, in other words artisanal, hand-made wine. It comes from Puglia (the Italian Apulia) or the heel of Italy’s boot and it’s a solid value.

“Medium purple color. A nose more than anything of primary fruit – black raspberries with red cherry highlights. Grapey on the palate but smooth, balanced and pleasant. Hints of chocolate. Not sure it will go anywhere, but a nice quaff or maybe even a bit more serious, for under $10 it’s tough to beat."

Terra Rosa Old Vines Malbec 2006, Mendoza, Argentina - $14

This Argentinian Malbec was great with veggie chili, truffle oil popcorn, and carmelized onion dip.

Aroma - fruit and chocolate
Taste - fruity, moderate tannins

We had this wine at MK's during the SYTYCD Season 6 finale!

Château Haut-Canteloup Cru Bourgeois 2005, Médoc - $13

This Bordeaux blend (Grand Vin de Bordeaux) is comprised of 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Cabernet Franc.

Aroma - tight
Taste - old world, robust, not very fruity, moderate tannins

I purchased this wine at Costco for around $13. I'd buy it again, specifically to have with French foods such as Coq au Vin. Sometimes old world is great - other times, I just really crave the fruit of new world reds!

Update - February 20, 2010
This wine is really nice - not as "barnyard" as a lot of old world wines can get! Had it with roasted chicken, smashed sweet potatoes, roasted carrots, roasted broccoli with Parmesan cheese, and roasted onions. Really, really good, and a lot less "serious" than most French wines. I like it very much, and will definitely purchase it again!

Artezin Zinfandel 2007, Mendocino County - $12

This California Zin is a blend of 91% Zinfandel and 9% Petite Syrah. It's really nice - everything that I look for in a Zin. It's rated 90 points by Wine Enthusiast, and I purchased it at Costco for $12.

Aroma - fruity and spicy
Taste - fruity and peppery

We had it with pesto portobello mushroom burgers on rosemary-infused bread. Yum!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Clos La Coutale 2007, Cahors, France - $14

This Malbec blend may also include Tannat and Merlot. MK brought it over for SYTYCD night! It was rated 90 points by Wine Spectator and was listed as #76 in Wine Spectator's Top 100 of 2009

Aroma - fruity, earthy, hay
Taste - fruit, moderate tannins, surprisingly no hay!

Yummy - never tried a French Malbec before, so this was interesting! Apparently, in the Cahors area of France, Malbec is called Côt Noir.

Quinta do Alqueve Tradicional 2006, Portugal - $10

This Portuguese red wine from the Pinhal da Torre winery is a blend of 40% Touriga Nacional (considered to be Portugal's finest wine, with high tannins and concentrated flavors of black fruit), 30% Tinta Roriz (also called Tempranillo), 20% Trincadeira, and 10% Periquita.

Aroma - fruity, dark chocolate
Taste - dark fruit and chocolate, mild tannins

I think that MK bought this wine at Whole Foods - it was really good and I'd love to have it again!

Update - March 10, 2010
We opened this wine last night during our LOST viewing party, so it's had a little time to breathe (we did seal it overnight).

Aroma - dark fruit, bordering on soy sauce (not in a bad way, just a tad salty-smelling)
Taste - dark fruit, soft to moderate tannins

I've found this wine at the Austin Wine Merchant for $10 - excellent value and an interesting wine! Not your everyday varietal!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Château de La Cour d'Argent Bordeaux 2006 - $10

This 2006 Bordeaux is 95% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and Cabernet-Sauvignon. It won a silver medal in the Independent Winemakers' Competition.

Aroma - earthy (mushrooms?), soil (like in the garden)
Taste - fruity, weak to soft tannins

I guess I wasn't surprised about the "dirty" aroma of this wine - Gary V tends to describe a lot of Old World wines as "barnyard" - this one certainly smelled but did not taste anything close to garden soil. It was quite nice - easy to drink, almost watery when I first tasted it. It doesn't have a long finish. Medium-bodied, definitely not a hearty wine.

We had it with beef stew tonight (grass-fed beef, homemade broth, organic veggies). I purchased this wine at Costco for $10.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 - $70

I've had wine from this vineyard before with MS. It's a really, really nice Cab Sauv. Gary V rates it at 93+, and his dad Sacha rates it at 94-95. High praise from the Thunder Show!

Also, Gary V suggests that we try as many Napa Valley Cab Sauvs 2007 as possible! Apparently a very good year!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Monte Antico 2006 Toscana - $9

Wine Spectator rated this wine at 90 points, and listed it as #61 on its list of Top 100 Wines of 2009. This red blend is 75% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. According to James Suckling of Wine Spectator, "The quality of the 2006 vintage in Tuscany shined through on this wine. This is a superb Sangiovese year."

Aroma - spicy and earthy but light
Taste - light to medium-bodied, earthy, cherries, moderately tannic

I'd love to try this wine again! I purchased it for $9 at Costco recently.

Update - February 8, 2010
Love love love this wine with Portobello mushroom sandwiches! Mushrooms brushed with olive oil and grilled, grilled whole wheat dinner bread slices, goat cheese, shallot vinaigrette, arugula, and Roma tomatoes. Perfection!!!

Update - March 7, 2010
Love this wine with eggplant parmesan, bibb lettuce salad with candied pecans and apples and garlic croutons, and garlic bread! YUM!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ercavio Tierra de Castilla Tempranillo Roble 2007, Castile-La Mancha, Spain - $12

MK brought this wine to happy hour to share. I love Tempranillos, and this one was no exception. It was simply fruit all over in the way it smelled and tasted.

Wine Advocated rated this wine at 90+ points. Yum - I'll have to ask MK where she got it!

Update - January 23, 2010
I found this wine today at Whole Foods for under $20 (can't remember exactly). It's in the section with the 90+ point wines, and I'm excited to get it next time!