Sunday, January 31, 2010

Carmel Road Pinot Noir 2007, Monterey, CA - $17

This was the last of the wines we had at JB's Movie Trivia night tonight. Had this with dessert tonight, and it was very, very good! It won the Silver Medal in the 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Aroma - fruity
Taste - rich, smooth, fruity, soft tannins

Will definitely buy it for myself sometime!

Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Chile - $10



This wine is Chilean, but the winery owner is the famous Rothschild (Lafite) company from France. I purchased this wine for around $10 at Whole Foods. Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar rated it 88 points.

Aroma - blackberries, earthy, kind of hot
Taste - fruit, full-bodied, moderate tannins, some acid

I don't tend to like hot wines, but this one delivered on taste. I thought that it was made very much in the French style - tasted a little old world to me. I would definitely purchase it again! We had it with Moroccan Stew tonight at JB's Movie Trivia night.

Update - Thursday April 8, 2010
I purchased this wine tonight at Royal Blue for $14.99 to accompany our driveway drinking. It can also be purchased at Whole Foods for $10.

Aroma - fruit
Taste - soft tannins

Interesting! Didn't have much food with the wine tonight - just some gourmet crackers.

Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel 2008, California - $15



Cline has always been one of my favorite wineries because I love Zins and I love good wines that are priced for everyday drinking. This was the second wine I had at Movie Trivia night at JB's.

Aroma - fruit, spice
Taste - fruit, spice, chocolate

Keep in mind that while I tasted the wines tonight I wasn't very focused - we had good nibbles and good conversation, so I should really try this wine again to gather more detailed tasting notes. All in all, what I expected from a nice, easy Zin!

Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Black Label Claret 2007 - $16



This Bordeaux-style red blend consists of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 4% Merlot, 4% Malbec, and 3% Cabernet Franc. According to the Coppola Winery fact sheet, the grapes were harvested from Napa and Sonoma as well as the warmer El Dorado region. We had it with these awesome Kettle Brand potato chips and homemade blue cheese dip during Movie Trivia night at JB's this evening.

Aroma - fruit
Taste - nice fruit, soft tannins, smooth

This was a really well-rounded and balanced wine. JB said that it's currently her favorite. And apparently the winemaker at the Coppola Winery says that this particular vintage is truly stellar. Can't wait to try it again!

Château Larrivaux Haut-Médoc 2005, Bordeaux, France - $13.75



This was the fourth of four wines we tasted at the Austin Wine Merchant Saturday afternoon. It is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend from the Bordeaux region. It was rated 88 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.

Aroma - light fruit, light pepper, dark earth
Taste - medium tannins, mushrooms

Perhaps too much of that Brett bacteria in this wine? Again, it wasn't bad, but I didn't prefer it overwhelmingly. But at this price point, it may be worth another try.

Beaune Premier Cru Les Sizies 2005, Burgundy, France - $67.50



Domaine de Montille is the winery behind this 100% Pinot Noir from Burgundy. This was the third of four wines we tasted today at the Austin Wine Merchant.

Aroma - fruity and musty
Taste - light fruit, smooth

I didn't love this wine, and thus I probably wouldn't purchase it again at this price point. If it were more within the $20 range I'd be much more likely to want to buy it and try it with food.

Château de Sancerre (rouge) 2005, Loire Valley, France - $27.50



This RED Sancerre (first tie I've ever heard of red Sancerre!) is made of 100% Pinot Noir grapes. It was the second of four wines we tasted at the Austin Wine Merchant on Saturday afternoon.

Aroma - fresh, light red fruit
Taste - little fruit, very green/young, tart, acidic

The pourer at AWM mentioned that the grapes for this wine were grown in slate-heavy soil and a cold growing environment, which apparently increases the acidity of the grapes.

I didn't love this wine, and since I don't love it I'm not sure that I'd actually buy it at almost $30.

Pegovino Côtes du Rhône Villages 2005, France - $14.99


Laurence Feraud makes this wine, which is 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah. This wine was the first of four that we tasted Saturday afternoon at the Austin Wine Merchant's weekend tasting.

Aroma - red fruit
Taste - earthy, black tea

I didn't love it, but didn't hate it either. I might purchase it at some point to try with food.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grayson Cellars Lot 11 Chardonnay 2008, CA - $10.75

This was the white wine featured at tonight's Royal Blue wine tasting. It was served with bacon-covered almond-stuffed dates and herbed almonds and pecans.

Aroma - apples
Taste - apples, but not sweet or tart

Brian from Virtuoso Selections (this wine's distributor) recommended white Burgundy wines if I want to stay away from very buttery Chardonnays. I tend to prefer crisper white wines, like Sauv Blancs. I also like wines with some minerality, which is apparently present in white Burgundy wines.

While I'm still not a Chard fan, this one's not bad, and I would definitely purchase it, especially at this price point - $10.75!

Update - Grayson Cellars Lot 10 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, CA - $10.75



This wine was featured at tonight's Royal Blue wine tasting - see this wine's main page for the tasting notes!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Update - Viña Zaco Tempranillo 2006, Rioja, Spain - $11



Way better now that it's had time to breathe! See this wine's main post for the update!

Update - Very Old Vines Carignan 2007, France - $7



Used this wine for beef stew marinade again - not as thrilled with it this time around. Find out why - see this wine's main post.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Viña Zaco Tempranillo 2006, Rioja, Spain - $11



Bodegas Bilainas' Tempranillo was recommended to me by another friend and wine-lover, and has been ranked 90 points by Thomas Matthews of Wine Spectator, and 97 points by Michael Schachner of Wine Enthusiast. Wine Spectator also named this wine #71 of their Top 100 Wines of 2009. D purchased this wine at Western Beverages (outside of Costco) for $11.

Aroma - musty, very very hot (14% alcohol, actually!), coffee, chocolate
Taste - chocolate, low to no tannins, soft and round, balanced, no taste of being high in alcohol at all

This wine burns my nose! I don't mind high alcohol content as long as it doesn't overpower everything else. Luckily, the wine tastes FABULOUS! Love it, and would definitely purchase it again!

Update - January 26, 2010
This wine is unbelievably good! I am really enjoying it now that it's had time to breathe! We had it tonight with lentil and pasta soup - yum!

Aroma - not as hot as yesterday, but still stings my nose a little, more chocolate, less musty
Taste - a little tart fruit, extremely soft tannins, dark chocolate at the end

EG was right - this is a wonderful wine at a great price point! Will definitely buy it again!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stephen Vincent Crimson 2007, Central Coast, CA - $14



This California red is a blend of 75% Syrah and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from the Central Coast region. Wine spectator gave it 86 points. I purchased it at Whole Foods on sale for $12 - it's usually $14 per bottle.

I didn't actually take any tasting notes this evening, but I really liked the wine and it went well with smoked goat cheese, hummus, baked pita chips, arugula salad with feta cheese and candied pecans, and beef roulade on egg noodles. Yum!

This is definitely a wine to purchase again!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Bleasdale Langhorne Crossing Red Blend, Australia - $12

This Australian red wine made by The Potts Family is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Malbec, 15% Shiraz, and 6% Petit Verdot. Josh Raynolds from the International Wine Cellar rated this at 88 points.

Aroma - tight at first, then hot (D thought plastic or vinyl-like)
Taste - greet at first, then smoky and bitter - sort of like tobacco

I purchased this wine on sale at Whole Foods for $10 - it's usually $12. We paired it with our dinner of Minestrone Soup made from a recipe from a magazine called Clean Eating that my sister just gave me a copy of.

So I did a little more research on this wine, and surprise surprise - Gary V of Wine Library TV reviewed it. He thought that it smelled like a strawberry Fruit Rollup with black pepper on the back end, inky, dusty, with melted bubble gum. About the taste - he thought it was too sugary but with good tannins and a taste of Worcestershire sauce. I don't taste a spicy sauce like Worcestershire, but Gary's guest mentioned cinnamon, which I actually can taste, and I think that could explain why Gary says it tastes a little sweet.

They mentioned that this wine would go well with pizza, and that it's easy-drinking. Gary specifically said that it's like a better Yellow Tail (which I've not been fond of lately). I am not very interested in trying this one again.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Doña Paula Estate Malbec 2008, Mendoza, Argentina - $12


I purchased this wine on sale for $10, and it's usually offered at Whole Foods for $12. It's listed on Ross Outon's list of top 5 wines under $15 (Ross was the winner of the recent PBS reality show The Winemakers).

Aroma - smoky, cassis
Taste - roasted meat (hence the smoky aroma), black tea, dark fruit

This is a wine that I would purchase again, although I'd like to taste it next to the Doña Paula Los Cardos Malbec 2008 to see what the difference is. The difference in price is so slight (just a few dollars) that I wonder if the estate grapes make that much of a difference.

Update - February 27, 2010
Had this wine tonight at Red Hot & Soul 2010 with tortilla salad with vinaigrette, chicken in cream sauce, mashed red potatoes, and asparagus. Dessert was berry cobbler. The wine paired just fine with all of the food!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Chateau Bonnet Bordeaux Rouge 2005, France - $15



This French Bordeaux is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. I purchased it at Spec's for $15. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave it 87 points.

The wine consultant at Spec's suggested it as a Bordeaux without much of that Old World musty smell and taste, which I really don't prefer and found out is actually caused by a yeast (brettanomyces, or brett for short) that is not considered desirable in other wine regions. Apparently France has tons of this yeast in the air, and thus it gets into almost all of their wine.

Aroma - at first light and slightly fruity, but 5 hours later dark fruit and chocolate
Taste - at first soft tannins with barely any fruit, but 5 hours later black tea and tart cherries

Had this wine with more homemade shrimp tacos, as well as homemade mushroom and goat cheese quesadillas. Been on a Mexican comfort food kick! The food and wine pairing wasn't fabulous but wasn't horrible either. I should have paired a lighter wine with shrimp, but really wanted something with a little heft because of the cold and wet weather.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Carneros Creek Reserve Pinot Noir 2007, CA - $25


I purchased this California Pinot for $25 at Spec's.

This Pinot Noir's clonal composition consists of 25% FPS 18, 17% Swan Selection, 15% Martini (FPS 13), 14% Mariafeld (FPS 23), 9% Dijon 115, 7% Dijon 667, 5% Beba (FPS 107), 4% Dijon 777, 4% Carneros Creek Selection. Now I surmise that this refers to the clones of the French PNs, but I haven't started studying clones so this information doesn't make a lot of sense to me just yet.


Aroma - earthy, minerals
Taste - well rounded, light, soft tannins, black tea ending in tart cherries

We had this wine with mushroom quesadillas, oyster tacos, and chicken tacos from Garrido's - superb pairings!

Update - January 14, 2010
Tonight we had this wine with homemade shrimp soft tacos - excellent!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

WineLibraryTV recommendation - 2007 Cristia Côtes du Rhône


Another recommendation that rated quite high with Gary V and is priced well - $13 per bottle.

He's really liking the 2007 vintage from a number of French regions!

WineLibraryTV recommendation - 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Just a couple of nice 2007 Châteauneuf-du-Papes reviewed and recommended by Gary V recently - apparently rated in the 90's to 100 by Robert Parker.


2007 Domaine Lafond Châteauneuf-du-Pape, rated 91 points by Robert Parker - on sale $36
Mainly Grenache and Syrah
Gary V - flavors of berries, firm tannins, well-made, young but still kicks butt



2007 Domaine Paul Autard Châteauneuf-du-Pape, also rated 91 points by Robert Parker - on sale $33
Mainly Grenache and Syrah
Gary V - flavors of berries, darker and greener than the previous, firmer and tighter tannins, good for a big roast or a big meal, may need to be cellared for a few years to reach its potential, well-made

Fred, you may need to try some of these!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

William Knuttel Pinot Noir 2007, Sonoma County, CA - $12



I could find barely any information online about this particular wine. MS shared it with us after dinner at Athenian Grill tonight.

Aroma - fruit
Taste - white pepper

I liked it - would like to try it with food sometime, if I can find it!

Estancia Pinot Noir 2008 Pinnacles Ranches, Monterey County, CA - $15



This was the second wine we chose from the wine menu at Athenian Grill tonight. I think it was listed at around $24 on the menu. The waiter didn't grimace when we ordered this one! It is 100% Pinot Noir from Monterey County in California.

Aroma - red cherry, tight
Taste - light and fruity, from what I can recall - I forgot to write down tasting notes!

This wine paired well with my food - I ordered a veggie plate that included hummus, tzatziki sauce, spanakopita, tiropita, feta salad, and steamed vegetables. It also paired well with the bite of chicken that I stole from D's plate!

Boutari Kretikos Red 2004, Crete, Greece - $12



It's not a good sign when the waiter at the restaurant recommends that you stay AWAY from a wine! Tonight we ate with MS, SD, VT, and DT at the Athenian Grill in downtown Austin. We thought that it would be fun to try Greek wine with Greek food, but the waiter suggested that we taste a sip of it first. Good idea!

MS thought it tasted like wild cherry soup (I hope I read my handwriting correctly there!).
I thought it tasted tangy with a sour finish.

Needless to say, we decided to choose a different wine!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jean-Luc Colombo Les Abeilles Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2005, France - $10



Had this wine tonight at Mel's. She's an aficionado of all things French! This Côtes du Rhône is a blend of 50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, and 20% Mourvèdre from 25 year-old vines. Wine Spectator rated it at 88 points.

Aroma - cassis
Taste - dark fruit, black tea

Had this wine after dinner tonight, so drank it sans food accompaniment. It was quite nice and I'd love to try it with food sometime!

Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley, CA - $13


This wine is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petite Syrah. It was a gift from EG and AG. Online it ranges in price from $10 to $15 per bottle. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate rated this vintage 88 points.

Aroma - fruity, blackberry
Taste - young, dark fruit and chocolate, soft tannins

Had this wine with Mel's chili during the BCS Championship game tonight. Absolutely yummy! I would totally have this wine again!

Update - July 24, 2010
Had this wine during our French Food and Wine Extravaganza!

It was the second wine for the main course because we only had one bottle of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape. It is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petite Syrah.

Aroma - blackberries, currants
Taste - blackberries, currants, moderate tannins

The course consisted of (all recipes à la Barefoot Contessa) Filet of Beef with Roquefort Sauce, Tomatoes de Provencal, and Gratin Dauphinois. A very nice pairing!

For full information about this particular update, please see my post about the French Food and Wine Extravaganza!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Dario D’Angelo Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2008 , Italy- $7



I purchased this Italian 100% Montepulciano D'Abruzzo on sale at Whole Foods for $7.

Aroma - fruity, yeasty
Taste - cranberries, black tea, moderate tannins, medium-bodied

I'm not sure I liked this wine, but I didn't think it was undrinkable. For the price point, probably an okay purchase. We had it with Ribollita, and it was fine with the soup.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Update - Santa Julia Organic Bonarda 2008, Mendoza, Argentina - $11



See this wine's main posting for the update!

Update - Grayson Cellars Lot 10 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, CA - $10



See the updated tasting notes on this wine's main page!

Château Cailleteau Bergeron 2005 Tradition, France - $13


This French red wine is a blend of 90 % merlot and 10 % cabernet sauvignon with the appellation Premières Côtes de Blaye. I purchased it for $13 at Spec's.

Aroma - dark fruit, chocolate, earthy
Taste - dark fruit, very very dark chocolate

This wine was great with beef stew (again, made from the Barefoot Contessa's recipe).

Julie and Julia Wine Recommendations

So I don't know that these recommendations are any good for pairing with foods besides kidney. In the book Julie and Julia, Julie Powell is going to cook for New York Times food critic Amanda Hesser and she decides to serve kidneys. She asks her supervisor for a wine recommendation, and he suggests Château Greysac or Château LaRose Trintaudon. I wondered how much these wines cost (because Julie didn't have a lot of money) and what they taste like.



The Château Greysac seems to range from $11 to $20 per bottle depending on the vintage, with most prices hovering at around $18. It seems to be a 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and is from the Bordeaux region of France. The one description I could find online: "berry fruit, rather herbal, with a thick tobacco finish."

Update - June 16, 2011
Found this wine at Whole Foods - see my tasting notes here.


The Château LaRose Trintaudon, a Bordeaux blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40%Merlot, seems to range from $13 to $30 depending on the vintage. The average is around $21 per bottle. The description from the winery's website for the 2001 vintage, the vintage that I assume was available in 2003 (when Julie was entertaining Amanda Hesser): "The colour has a slight hint of tile-red, deep and brilliant. The nose is of black cherries and lychees. It has a good structure with gentle, delicate tannins. The whole is harmonious and well balanced. The finish is smooth and elegant."

Interesting - I'll keep these in mind the next time I go wine shopping!

Very Old Vines Carignan 2007 Vin de pays de L'aude, France - $7



I bought this French Carignan at Whole Foods to use as the marinade for the beef in my beef stew. It was on sale for only $7!

Aroma - very fruity, a little hot
Taste - fruity, dry, soft tannins, slightly bitter black tea flavor at end, medium to full-bodied

I didn't prefer the aroma, but it tasted fine, especially at this price point. I would definitely buy it again at this price, especially if I wanted to use it for beef stew again!

Update - January 26, 2010
I don't know what I was thinking last time or if this wine varies extremely from bottle to bottle. I would be surprised if a wine was so inconsistent. Perhaps it was what I chose to nibble on while I tasted this wine (taste-testing the lentil and pasta soup I was making)?

Aroma - light beer
Taste - light fruit, light beer

I HATE wines that taste anything like beer! But this wine makes such a great marinade! I'm going to buy it again and try tasting it with something different next time. I was so disappointed today!

I took a few sips - the rest of the glass went into the marinade.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Santa Julia Organic Bonarda 2008, Mendoza, Argentina - $11


Made by Familia Zuccardi, this was my first Bonarda as far as I can remember. This wine is light to medium-bodied- definitely not a hearty wine. It reminds me of Grenache.

Aroma - bright fruit, raspberries and cherries
Taste - very fruity, soft tannins, black tea, bitter finish

We had it with a hearty veggie soup, which was an okay but not a fantastic food/wine pairing. The wine was way too fruity for the soup.

After breathing for 2 hours...
Aroma - fruity and spicy
Taste - fruit, soft tannins, slightly bitter at the end

Letting the wine breathe allowed it to mellow out a bit.

Update - January 3, 2010
Also found that it was very good with smoked salmon, goat cheese, herbed Boursin, and olives marinated in red wine vinaigrette.

Update - January 29,2010
Needed a wine to go with shrimp soft tacos with arugula and fresh salsa. Thought that this red wine might be light enough, and was right!

Aroma - light fruit
Taste - light fruit ending in black tea with low to no tannins

Loved the combo! Have found a nice alternative to whites and Pinot to pair with shrimp!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Château Liversan Haut-Médoc 2005, France - $15


This wine is a red blend of (depending on the source of your information) 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, or 50% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 12% Cabernet Franc per some wine websites. It was rated 90 points by Wine Enthusiast.

Aroma - tight nose, slight pepper, fruit
Taste - light fruit, pepper, minerals

We had this wine with leftover Coq au Vin made from the Barefoot Contessa's recipe. I would definitely buy it again. I like wines that have sort of a mineral taste - they tend not to be too overwhelmed by fruit.

Update - April 18, 2010
JB invited us over to celebrate D's birthday (belatedly). I brought a bottle of this wine to share with everyone.

Aroma - red fruit, musty
Taste - red fruit, moderate tannins, tobacco

We had this wine with white bean dip, peppers, carrots, olives, kettle corn, ruffled potato chips.