Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Clos La Coutale 2008, Cahors, France - $13.75



This red French wine is a blend of 80% Malbec and 20% Merlot. It retails for $13.75/bottle at the Austin Wine Merchant, and is imported by Kermit Lynch (one of my faves!). Past vintages have been rated 88 to 90 points by Wine Spectator.

Aroma - black fruit, a little hot
Taste - blackberries, tobacco, moderate tannins

I like this wine - it's definitely nice for the price, and not your run-of-the-mill Malbec!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Petit Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 2008, South Africa - $12



The "Petit" line from Ken Forrester is the winery's value-driven everyday drinking line. This Bordeaux style red is equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and retails for around $12/bottle at Whole Foods, where I tasted it yesterday.

I tasted dark fruit, not gamey (I usually expect a little barnyard/gaminess from South African wines), and moderate tannins - a good value for the money.

Petit Chenin Blanc 2009, Stellenbosch, South Africa - $12



I tasted this Ken Forrester wine at Whole Foods yesterday - part of a HUGE wine tasting they were having! It is 100% Chenin Blanc and retails for around $12/bottle at Whole Foods.

I tasted apples and soft acid - a good wine!

Fusta Nova Moscatel Dessert Wine, Valencia, Spain - $14.99/500ml



Tasted this wine by Vicente Gandia at Whole Foods yesterday, where it retails for $14.99/500ml bottle. It has received a number of Spanish and German wine awards.

I tasted tropical fruit with a honeyed texture. It was a good wine, and high in alcohol (15%) as you would expect from this type of concentrated dessert wine.

Monte Maria Pinot Grigio 2010, Italy - $9.99



This Italian white is 100% Pinot Grigio, and I tasted it at Whole Foods where it retails for $9.99/bottle.

It tastes of citrus, and is dry with good acidity. I like this wine.

Toasted Head Untamed White 2010, California - $14.99


This white wine is a blend of 70% Viognier, 27% Chardonnay, and 3% Moscato, and retails for $14.99/bottle at Whole Foods, where I did a tasting Saturday.

This wine was crisp with good acid. I liked it.

Simply Naked Unoaked Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, California - $9.99



The great thing about this winery is that all of their wines are unoaked. Whether you prefer oak or not, you have to admit that this is quite a brave move especially as fruity Napa Cabs currently rule the mass market wine world and oak is heavily featured in a lot of those wines.

I wanted to love this wine, but I actually only liked it. It tasted of red and dark fruit and strong tannins, and that's it. Not a lot of complexity or interest. It's a good wine for the price, which is $9.99/bottle at Whole Foods.

Simi Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Sonoma County, CA - $13.99



This California Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of 96% Sauvignon Blanc, 2% Semillon, and 2% Viognier, and retails for $13.99/bottle at Whole Foods, where I tasted it yesterday.

This crisp wine tasted clean and soapy with light fruit and good acid. I liked it! I could imagine that it would go superbly with raw oysters - yum!

Robert Mondavi Winery Cabernet 2007, Napa Valley, CA - $24.99



I tasted this wine at Whole Foods on Saturday, where it retails for $24.99/bottle. It was rated 90 points by both Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar. It is a blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petite Verdot, and 1% Malbec.

I tasted dark fruit, strong tannins, and dark chocolate. A nice fruity, chocolaty Cab if that suits your palate!

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Central Coast, California - $9.99


Tasted this wine at Whole Foods yesterday where it retails for $9.99/bottle. My best guess is that it is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, and Sangiovese - the winery's website and downloaded tasting notes have conflicting information about the varietals and percentages included in the wine, but these seem to be a safe bet.

I tasted dark fruit, strong tannins, and dark cocoa. A good wine for the price if you like your Cabs very fruit forward with a cocoa finish.

Rex Goliath Pinot Noir NV, Vin de Pays d’Oc, France - $7.99


This French NV wine is 100% Pinot Noir and retails for $7.99/bottle at Whole Foods, where I tasted it yesterday.

I found this wine to taste of cherry candy and light spice - not a wine for me, but some might like it. A maybe. Bummer - I SO wanted to like this wine.

Rex Goliath Free Range Red NV, California - $6.99


I tasted this wine at Whole Foods yesterday, where it retails for $6.99/bottle. It is non-vintage, which means that the winemaker can use any combination of grapes from any year. This wine is made from Syrah and Zinfandel.

I found this wine to taste of red fruit and candy - too sweet for my taste. Not offensive - a maybe.

Update - June 25, 2011
Had this wine at a mystery red wine party. See my updated tasting notes here!

Wine Library TV recommendation - Domaine les Pallières Les Racines Vieilles Vignes Gigondas 2007, Rhône, France


I'm way behind on Wine Library TV episodes - I just watched the three-part interview with Kermit Lynch that aired in April 2010! Yikes!

In any case I saved these to watch when I could give them my full attention because Kermit Lynch is one of my favorite wine importers. I was not disappointed.

What didn't know about Lynch is that he sells wines under his own label - the grapes (and sometimes the wines) are sourced from French vineyards, and Lynch imports them and puts his own name on them.

The red that Gary reviewed in part three of the interview was a Lynch label from Gigondas, an area that I'm not very familiar with. It was rated 94 points by Robert Parker and 91 points by Wine Spectator, and the consensus between Parker, Spectator, and Tanzer seems to be that this wine should be held for 15 to 20 years. I can't find it available anywhere online, but it seemed to retail online for $25 (Wine Library) to $36 (K&L).

I'll post again if I'm able to find this wine.

Monkey Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009, Marlborough, New Zealand - $9.99



I tend to really like New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, and this one is no exception. It is 100% Sauvignon Blanc, and retails for $9.99/bottle at Whole Foods, where I tasted it this afternoon.

The wine tastes of light fruit, and is crisp with good acid. I like it!

Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay 2009, Marlborough, New Zealand - $19.99



This unoaked wine is 100% Chardonnay and does undergo malolactic fermentation, a process during which the malic acid in the wine is turned into lactic acid, which usually gives a wine a softer, more buttery texture or taste. I tasted this wine at Whole Foods this afternoon, where it retails for $19.99/bottle.

This wine tasted of crisp apples and was quite good for a Chardonnay, probably because it was unoaked. I would buy it if I were looking for a Chardonnay.

Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Napa Valley, CA - $21.99



This California Cab Sauv is actually a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 3% Syrah, and 1% Petit Verdot. It was rated 94 points Wine Enthusiast, and past vintages have been rated in the high 80s and low 90s. It retails for $21.99/bottle at Whole Foods, where I attended a tasting.

Taste - black fruit, dark chocolate, a little spice, strong tannins

Another very nice vintage of this wine! Actually last summer in CA, all of the wineries we visited were raving about the 2007 Napa Valley red wines. Looking forward to trying more!

Estancia Pinot Noir 2009 Pinnacles Ranches, Monterrey County, California - $12.99



This California Pinot Noir tastes as an inexpensive Pinot should taste - red fruit, black tea, and soft tannins - not sweet, but light and easy-to-drink. It retails for $12.99/bottle at Whole Foods, where I tasted it this weekend. Another good buy for the price, although for just a dollar more, I'd still go with my standard Devil's Corner Pinot Noir from Tasmania.

Diseño Old Vine Malbec 2009, Mendoza, Argentina - $9.99



I tasted this Argentinian Malbec at Whole Foods, where it retails for $9.99/bottle.

Taste - soft black fruit, black tea, moderate tannins, dark cocoa finish.

Nice, especially for the price! Seemed to be a theme during the massive Whole Foods wine tasting!

Mouton Cadet Rouge 2008, Bordeaux, France - $8.99



This red wine by Baron Phillippe de Rothschild is a blend of 65% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 15% Cabernet Franc. It retails for $8.99/bottle at Whole Foods.

Taste - dry, dark fruit, black tea, moderate tannins

This definitely isn't a fruit bomb - the dryness of the wine comes across first, but the tannins are not overbearing. It's a decent wine for the price.

Cadet d'Oc Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Languedoc-Roussillon, France - $10.99



This red wine by Baron Phillippe de Rothschild is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and retails for $10.99/bottle at Whole Foods, where I tasted it earlier today.

Taste - black fruit, strong tannins

A simple, fruit forward wine. It's a good value at this price.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cadet d'Oc Chardonnay 2009, Languedoc-Roussillon, France - $10.99



This unoaked 100% Chardonnay by Baron Phillippe de Rothschild retails for $10.99/bottle at Whole Foods, where I tasted it earlier today.

I was hesitant to try this wine because I really don't prefer Chardonnay, but it was actually quite smooth and nice without that heavy, oaky, buttery taste. People who like the buttery Chards might not prefer this one, but those who usually avoid Chards might actually be okay with it.

Black Box Malbec 2009, Mendoza, Argentina - $22.99



I tried this Black Box Malbec at a huge Whole Foods wine tasting earlier today. Kevin Rust of Constellation Wines poured this wine and explained that improvements in the box technology allow the wine to remain fresh for a few weeks after opening. It is 100% Malbec and retails for $22.99/3 liter box (equivalent to 4 bottles).

Whole Foods has stopped using real wine glasses for their wine tastings and the teeny tiny plastic cups they use for tastings now do not allow for any analysis of the wine's bouquet.

Taste - black fruit, tobacco, medium to strong tannins

I liked this wine and would absolutely get it for a party, especially in locations where glass is not allowed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quinta do Cardo Vinho Tinto 2006, Beira Interior, Portugal - $8


This wine is a blend of Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz, and I purchased it at Costco for $8/bottle - we had it for TV viewing night.

Aroma - dark fruit, black tea
Taste - dark fruit, black tea, moderate tannins

This is such a great wine for the price! I'll need to go back to get more! It went really well with chips and guacamole, falafel chips, and dark chocolate covered berries.

Update - July 26, 2011
Brought this wine for TV viewing night again.

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

Like! We had it with tomatillo/avacado salsa and chips.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Illahe Pinot Noir 2008, Willamette Valley, Oregon - $21



This wine retails for $18 to $25/bottle online. I liked this wine even though I didn't take any tasting notes on it. It is a bit earthier than the Devil's Corner Pinot Noir 2008 from Tasmania. MS and SD brought it over for dinner tonight, which consisted of devils on horseback/spiced nuts/roasted marinated olives/apples and Irish Cheddar cheese, baby arugula salad with pepper turkey bacon and Roquefort dressing, and roasted salmon/roasted broccoli/organic brown Basmati rice. The pairing was fantastic!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cameron Hughes Lot 184 Cabernet Sauvignon 2007, Alexander Valley, CA - $10

I purchased this wine for $10/bottle at Costco and $13/bottle on Cameron Hughes' website.

Aroma - dark fruit, dark cocoa
Taste - dark fruit, dark cocoa, soft tannins

Everyone really liked this wine. JB says she prefers reds from Alexander Valley, the Russian River Valley, and Paso Robles.

Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, California - $15



This 100% Cab Sauv is named after the winemaker's daughter's birthday of August 15th. The grapes are sourced from Napa, Mendocino, Paso Robles, and Lake County, CA. It retails for $14 - $16/bottle online.

Aroma - blackberries, some spice, black tea
Taste - blackberries, some pepper, black tea, moderate to strong tannins

I really liked this wine!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Austin Wine Merchant Tasting - Luciano Arduini


Another unique tasting at AWM today! I learned a lot about a new Italian DOC that I hadn't heard of before. Wines from the DOC Valpolicella are typically composed from the grape varietals Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, and Molinara. I tasted five wines from the Luciano Arduini Winery today.



Valpolicella Classico Fontana del Fongo 2007, Valpolicella, Italy - $11.99/$7.99
This wine was on sale for $7.99/bottle today - regular price $11.99/bottle at AWM. It is a blend of 50% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, and 20% Rondinella.

Aroma - bright cherries
Taste - light red fruit, slightly tart, dry, moderate tannins

I like this wine a lot! It should be very food-friendly. It's also low in alcohol (12%), which is something that I really prefer.



Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2005, Valpolicella, Italy - $19.99/$14.99
This wine was on sale today for $14.99/bottle, but it's regularly $19.99/bottle at AWM. It is a blend of 60% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, and 20% Rondinella.

Aroma - dark red fruit, a little dust, cassis
Taste - red and black fruit, dry, soft to moderate tannins, dusty cocoa at the end

I like this wine. It's like the Classico, but then passed (in fact, "ripasso" means "repassed") through the must of the Amarone (the next wine), so that it has a lightly more old-world style. This wine contains 13.5% alcohol.

See my updated tasting notes for this wine!



Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2004, Valpolicella, Italy - $32.50
This wine is a blend of 60% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara. It contains 15% alcohol and retails for $32.50/bottle at AWM.

According to the winery, it takes eight times more grapes (raisins, actually, created by drying the grapes on straw mats for four months) to make this wine than it does to make the basic Classico.

Aroma - dark fruit and must, a little pepper
Taste - dark fruit strong tannins, dry, black tea, dark cocoa finish

This wine is quite nice - it's structured and complex. I didn't think I'd like it because of the high alcohol content, but I really do like it!



Recioto della Valpolicella Classico 2007, Valpolicella, Italy - $22.50/$17.50
This red dessert wine is a blend of 60% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara. It is on sale for $17.50/bottle, but retails regularly for $22.50/bottle at AWM.

Aroma - black raisins, grape stems
Taste - dark fruit, light syrup/honey, not too thick or cloying

I like this dessert wine - not bad at all!



Passito Bianco del Veneto Belvedere 2006, Valpolicella, Italy - $17.50/$12.50
This white dessert wine is a blend of 50% Garganega and 50% Trebbiano toscano. It is on sale at AWM for $12.50/bottle, but usually retails for $17.50/bottle there.

Aroma - nail polish remover
Taste - light honey, a tad bitter, a slight chemically taste at the end

This wine would probably be appreciated by someone who wants a white dessert wine that's not too sweet, but it's really not to my taste.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Domaine de La Garenne Bandol Rouge 2007, Provence, France - $27



I purchased this AOC Bandol Rouge at Spec's for $27/bottle. It is a blend of 75% Mourvèdre, 20% Grenache, and 5% Carignan.

Aroma - red and black fruit, hot, dark cocoa
Taste - red and black fruit, dark cocoa, strong tannins, long finish, dry

This wine is great but I can really smell the alcohol! When I checked the bottle, it was listed at 15% - that's really high! But I don't taste the alcohol, so would still recommend the wine even though it wouldn't be my first choice.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Comfort Food Gourmet Dinner - 12 people, 3 courses, 10 bottles of wine and cocktails


On Saturday night we had another gourmet dinner club event. The theme was comfort foods, and I was so comfortable and more than satisfied by the time the evening ended!



First Course - Appetizers
  • Deviled Eggs - Cheddar cheese, bacon, mustard, and mayo
  • Asian Wings - Peanut butter, lime, ginger
Cocktail Pairing
  • Arnold Palmer - Firefly Iced Tea Vodka, lemonade
Fabulous and absolutely refreshing!!! I was SO EXCITED to have wings! The deviled eggs were also PERFECT!


Second Course - Salad
  • Deconstructed Romaine salad with crispy bacon, crumbled Gorgonzola, and Gorgonzola dipping sauce
Wine Pairings
  • Devil's Corner Pinot Noir 2008, Tasmania
  • Girard Sauvignon Blanc 2010, California
Whether folks used their hands (taco-style) or forks and knives, everyone agreed that the dressing was a keeper! I got the idea for this salad at Uchiko, where they served baby Romaine leaves upright in a small drinking glass with bacon on top and dressing on the side.

The first wine we had with the salad was the Devil's Corner Pinot Noir. See my previous tasting notes for it here. Everyone seemed to like it, and it went very well with the salad.

The second wine we had with the salad was the Girard Sauvignon Blanc, which I included just for kicks and as a contrast to the red pairing.

Aroma - melon, clean
Taste - melon, crisp, clean, good acid

Another winner! I notice, though, that white wine never goes as quickly as red wine!

Align Center

Third Course - Main Course
  • Meatloaf in individual portions (à la Ina Garten)
  • Roasted Vegetables (new potatoes in various colors, onions, bell peppers)
  • Macaroni and Cheese (à la Martha Stewart)
Wine Pairing
  • Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, Napa Valley, CA
  • Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, CA
The main course was absolutely fabulous! Individual meatloaf patties, roasted potatoes and veggies, and white Cheddar/Gruyere mac-n-cheese really hit the spot - talk about comfort food!!!

The two wines paired with dinner were both Cab Sauvs, and for good reason - this very hearty dinner needed hearty wines!

The first wine was a Cab Sauv from Louis M. Martini.

Aroma - dark fruit, dark chocolate
Taste - dark fruit, dark chocolate, a little hot, moderate tannins, black currant

This wine is 14.2% alcohol, which explains the slight taste of heat in the wine. The wine went well with the main course - love the dark chocolate and currant notes!

The second wine was a Cab Sauv from Alexander Valley Vineyards.

Aroma - dark fruit/plums
Taste - dark fruit, dark chocolate, moderate to strong tannins, cocoa finish

Such a nice wine, and a great pairing with the main course!


Fourth Course - Dessert
  • Flourless Chocolate Cake with Crème Anglaise and Strawberry Coulis (in the honey bear)
Wine Pairing
  • Silverhorn Merlot 2005, Napa Valley, CA
How much do I love flourless chocolate cake? Let me count the ways...
The richness of the cake was definitely enhanced by the cocoa notes in the wine, although ironically, this was not the wine Mel chose to pair with the dessert. TT and MT had originally brought this Silverhorn Merlot to pair with the main course, but we ended up having it with the cake, which was a really wonderful spontaneous pairing!

Aroma - dark fruit, dark chocolate, a little hot
Taste - dark fruit, dark chocolate, soft tannins, long dry finish with dark cocoa, super smooth

Again, the tiny bit of heat on the nose can be attributed to the 14.1% alcohol content of the wine. A very nice choice - from Central Market, according to TT and MT.



I always love the aftermath pictures! What a FANTASTIC evening! Bravo, NS and RS!!!