Monday, May 30, 2011

Spanish Demon Tempranillo 2008, Rioja, Spain - $9



Had this wine today at a friend's house during brunch. He purchased it at Central Market for $9/bottle.

Aroma - red and dark fruit
Taste - dark fruit, dry, black tea, minerals, restrained, soft, moderate tannins

A nice wine, especially for the price!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Doña Paula Estate Malbec 2009, Mendoza, Argentina - $11



This Malbec was rated 90 points by Wine Spectator and was named Best Argentinean Malbec Under $20 by the Argentina Wine Awards. It contains 100% Malbec and retails for $11/bottle at Costco.

Aroma - black fruit, a little spice, maybe a little hot
Taste - black fruit, black tea, moderate tannins, tobacco finish

This wine is 14% alcohol, and although I can smell it a little, I certainly can't taste it. It's a good wine for the price, but I prefer the Layer Cake Malbec to this one (although I've yet to try the 2009 vintage of LC).

See my updated tasting notes for this wine.

Sincerely Sauvignon Blanc 2009, South Africa - $12



This South African Sauvignon Blanc is made by Neil Ellis and was rated 88 points by Wine Spectator and Stephen Tanzer. It retails online for approximately $12/bottle.

Aroma - citrus and herbs
Taste - citrus and herbs, good acid

Different than the Sauvignon Blancs I usually prefer, but I really like this one! It's different in a nice way, and at this price it's a good value for everyday!

Whole Foods - Top Ten Summer Wines Tasting


Each summer Whole Foods puts out a top ten list of wines for summer. I tasted four of them today. And just a reminder that there are no notes on aroma because of the teeny weeny plastic cups WF uses for their tastings nowadays. Such a shame.



Vitiano Rosso 2009, Umbria, Italy - $11.99
Past vintages of this wine by Falesco have included Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and Merlot, but this one only includes the first two (the label above is borrowed from the 2007 vintage). This wine was rated 89 points by Antonio Galloni of the Wine Advocate. In fact, all of the previous vintages of this wine going back to 1998 have been rated in the high 80s to low 90s with the major wine publications.

I tasted dark fruit, minerals, black tea, dry, and soft to moderate tannins - I like this wine. It's nice and a good value.



Evodia Old Vines Grenache 2009, Calatayud, Spain - $9
This Spanish 100% old vines Grenache was rated 90 points by both Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar and Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. The 2007 and 2008 vintages of this wine rated similarly with these two publications.

I tasted dark fruit, dry, a little spice, tobacco finish, soft to moderate tannins, and a little acid - nice and fresh - I liked it!

Update - August 3, 2011
See the updated tasting notes on this wine!



Château Paradis Casseuil Bordeaux 2009, France - $20
This Domaine Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Bordeaux is a blend of 58% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Cabernet Franc according to the winery's website. Mike at Whole Foods said that it is unoaked - that's my kind of wine!

I tasted dark fruit, black tea, soft tannins, minerals - a very nice and restrained wine. I really like it!



Perrin & Fils Nature Côtes du Rhône 2010, France - $12.99
Another wine from France, this time from the Côtes du Rhône region. I tasted dark fruit, black tea, moderate tannins - a nice wine! The image above is borrowed from the 2009 vintage. See more tasting notes for this wine!

In fact, I've been impressed with all of the wines tasted today! Bravo to Whole Foods for having these four wines on its summer top ten list!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Austin Wine Merchant Tasting - Washington State Wines

It's been a few weeks since I've been able to attend these Saturday wine tastings at AWM - how I've missed them! This week's theme was wines from Washington State.


J. Bookwalter Anecdote Riesling 2010, Columbia Valley, WA - $12.99
The 2009 vintage of this wine earned 91 points from Wine Enthusiast.

Aroma - at first beer, then light fruit
Taste - tropical sweet fruit

This wine was just okay for my palate. I'd recommend it to folks who like sweet wines, but I'd much rather have a fresh, dry, Sauvignon Blanc.


Charles & Charles Rosé 2010, Columbia Valley, WA - $11.25
Greg at AWM says this wine is made from Syrah. One of the winemakers is Charles Bieler from France, and the other is Charles Smith from Washington.

Aroma - light fruit, clean, almost soapy
Taste - light tart fruit, dry, good acid, slightly bitter finish

A maybe for me - I don't really like it, but rosé drinkers might. I'm not a huge fan of rosé in general.


Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay 2008, Columbia Valley, WA - $14.99
This wine is 100% single vineyard Chardonnay.

Aroma - heavy, buttery
Taste - bitter, heavy

Sarah from AWM says that this wine isn't too heavily oaked (7 months according to the winery's site), but I'm probably extra sensitive to oak, especially in my white wines. I don't like oak in white wines, and I generally purchase whites (Sauv Blancs in particular) that have been fermented and aged in stainless. This wine a no for me, but a maybe for a regular Chardonnay drinker.


J. Bookwalter Subplot No. 24 Red Wine, Columbia Valley, WA - $14.99
This red is a blend of 30% Merlot, 29% Syrah, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 4% Malbec, and 4% Petit Verdot.

Aroma - dark fruit and chocolate
Taste - dark fruit, dark cocoa, strong tannins

I like this wine, except for its high (14.9%) alcohol content. Sarah from AWM thinks it's one of the best value Bordeaux blend U.S. wines. I agree that it's a nice wine - I think a lot of people will like it!

See a set of previous tasting notes for this wine here - very different!


Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Columbia Valley, WA - $14.99
This wine is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Syrah, 3% Merlot, 2% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Franc.

Aroma - dark fruit, dark cocoa
Taste - Dark fruit, very dark cocoa, strong tannins, tobacco finish

I like this wine. It's also high in alcohol at 14.5%, but the good thing about this wine and the previous one is that neither smell or taste as if they are high in alcohol.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Granges 2008, Loire Valley, France - $45



Had this fantastic Cabernet Franc from Chinon at Fino tonight. Saw it on the menu and didn't realize it was a Louis/Dressner Selection until it was brought to the table - yeah! It retails for $45/bottle at Fino.

Aroma - bright cherries, something else I can't put my finger on
Taste - cherries, good acid (fresh), moderate tannins, sweet tobacco, a little musty on the finish




Went great with everything we had tonight - falafel and hummus, soft shell crab, cucumber tzaziki, pork pinchitos, and seafood paella.

Arista Toboni Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008, Russian River Valley, CA - $50


This single vineyard wine is 100% Pinot Noir and was rated 90 points by Wine Enthusiast. It's quite high in alcohol at 14.5% (and boy I'm feeling it after just one glass!). It retails online for approximately $50/bottle.

Aroma - cherries, spice, a little hot
Taste - red cherries, spice, wood, soft to moderate tannins, a very woody finish along with some dark chocolate

I have to say that this wine tastes all wood to me. And looking at the technical sheet for the 2009 vintage (23 months oak aging), it's not surprising - they've probably treated the 2008 in a similar fashion.

I wanted to love this wine, but I'm not sure I even like it that much. The long stay in the barrel probably contributed to both the woody taste AND the high alcohol content. Sigh. I've been plagued by high alcohol this week.

Update - May 29, 2011
This wine is a lot better after having breathed a bit! No more alcohol smell, and the taste of wood has diminished. Thank goodness!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Alpha Estates Hedgehog Vineyard Xinomavro 2007, Amyndeon, Greece - $14/$22



This is a new varietal that I've never heard of before. The staff at Mulberry recommended it, and I LOVE IT! This Greek wine is 100% Xinomavro. I've had Greek wine before and have never really acquired a taste for it - this is the first that I've really enjoyed!

This wine was fresh with good acid - very nice and I'll definitely have it again!

It retails at Mulberry for $14/glass. I found it online for $22/bottle.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Falernia Reserva Carmenère 2007, Elqui Valley, Chile - $10


This Carmenère is 15% alcohol - FIFTEEN PERCENT! No wonder it hit me quite hard! It retails for $10/bottle at Costco. 90 points from Jay Miller of Robert Parker's Wine Advocate - really?

Aroma - HOT! So hot all it does is sting my nose!
Taste - dark fruit and wood, strong tannins, bitter finish

I really do not like this wine, and am actually sorry that I bought it. I may use it to tenderize some meat. I'm so sad, because I really wanted to like it, but it's already giving me a headache after ONE GLASS! Someone else may like this wine, but I really don't. It's not undrinkable, but it's definitely not my cup of tea.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Saint-Vincent Baron Vin de Bordeaux 2007, Bordeaux, France - $8


This red wine from Bordeaux is a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and retails for $8/bottle at Costco. I'm sure you've already heard that Costco is the US's largest Bordeaux importer.

Aroma - dark fruit and minerals
Taste - dark fruig, dark cocoa, moderate tannins

A nice wine, especially for the price!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Feudo Arancio Stemmari Pinot Noir 2009, Sicily - $10



This 100% Sicilian Pinot Noir was named a top value by Wine & Spirits and cost $10/magnum at Costco. I purchased it for a large party, and it went pretty quickly!

Aroma - red and dark fruit, a little hot
Taste - red and dark fruit, light black tea, some acid, soft to moderate tannins

Not the best Pinot Noir I've ever had, but certainly drinkable and a decent choice for a large get-together.

La Vendimia Tempranillo Garnacha 2008, Rioja, Spain - $10/$35



Went to 2nd Bar + Kitchen today for a glass of wine with friends. Tried this 50% Tempranillo, 50% Garnacha blend from the Rioja region, which retails at the restaurant for $10/glass or $35/bottle. It is produced by the Palacios Remondo winery.

Aroma - red fruit, light spice
Taste - red fruit, light black tea, soft to moderate tannins

I liked this wine! It went so well with the Black Truffle Pomme Frites.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Layer Cake Primitivo 2008, Puglia, Italy - $12.99



This wine is 100% Primitivo (known in the US as Zinfandel) from the "heel" of Italy (Salento) and was rated 89 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. I purchased it for $12.99/bottle at Western Beverages.

Aroma - black fruit, spice, a little hot
Taste - black and blue fruit, a little spice, moderate tannins, tobacco finish

Nice, and I would buy it again.

Update - January 16, 2012
This wine is 100% Primitivo and I purchased it at Western Beverages for $13/bottle.

Aroma - dark fruit, pepper
Taste - dark fruit, strong tannins

A very simple wine. It's okay. I probably won't purchase it again.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Gascón Malbec 2009, Mendoza, Argentina - $12


This Malbec is quite popular. It is often listed as a best buy, and consistently scores in the high 80s and low 90s with Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine & Spirits. It retails for approximately $12 online and I believe I've seen it at Whole Foods for around the same.

Aroma - black fruit, a tad hot
Taste - black fruit, super smooth and velvety, soft to moderate tannins, mocha finish

This IS a great value wine, and I would certainly purchase it in the future! This bottle was given to me as a gift by AP. Thanks!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fronteira Douro 2007, Portugal - $8


This wine is made by Companhia das Quintas and is a red blend of 50% Touriga Nacional, 30% Touriga Franca, and 20% Tinta Roriz. It contains 14% alcohol and retails for $8/bottle at Costco.

Aroma - black fruit, a little tea, a little hot
Taste - black fruit, a little tea, moderate tannins

A good wine for the price!

Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Central Coast, CA - $9.99



AP brought this wine to our TV viewing night. I found it online ranging in price from $7.99 to $13.99 - it usually retails in stores for around $9.99.

Aroma - red and dark fruit
Taste - red and dark fruit, soft tannins, easy-drinking

This wine is very accessible - another successful everyday wine from Cupcake!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Château d'Oupia Minervois 2008, Languedoc, France - $11.99


I purchased this wine on a whim from the Austin Wine Merchant, mainly because I'm very interested in the Minervois region and I'm such a huge fan of Louis/Dressner Selections right now. The red varietals grown in the Minervois AOC are Carignan, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Syrah - different websites list different combinations of varietals in this wine, but the 2007 vintage consisted of 60% Carignan, 30% Syrah, and 10% Grenache.

Aroma - light raisins
Taste - currant, slightly bitter, soft tannins, some acid (which gives it a bite)

I like this wine, but it's not my favorite Minervois - that title is still held by Château Coupe Roses La Bastide 2008.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tavern on the Green/Central Park/NYC Gourmet Dinner - 12 people, 4 courses, 14 bottles of wine

Another fantastic gourmet dinner club get-together. This time our theme was Tavern on the Green in Central Park, New York City! The setting was just UNBELIEVABLE!


First Course - Appetizer
  • Tuna Tartare with Wasabi Crème Fraiche and Wasabi Caviar
Wine Pairing
  • Vin d'Orange
The tuna tartare was DIVINE, especially topped with the caviar!

The Vin d'Orange was made by steeping four to five whole ground up oranges in Rose de Provence for 3-1/2 weeks. Then it was topped with Hennessey Cognac, strained, and decanted. Vanilla sugar was added before serving.


Second Course - Soup
  • Avocado Tarragon Bisque
Wine Pairing
  • Juvé y Camps Brut Nature Reserva de la Familia Cava 2005 - $15
We made this soup so I'm sure we're biased, but it was AWESOME! Ingredients were avocado, tarragon (use fennel greens or some greens with an anise flavor if you aren't able to find tarragon), milk, Greek Yogurt, and sea salt.

The Cava (Spanish sparkling white wine) was great - it smelled and tasted of green apples, and was dry and YUMMY! We chose Cava because of the avocado in our dish - a very Spanish ingredient. It retails for $15/bottle at the Austin Wine Merchant and was rated 90 points by Wine Enthusiast.


Third Course - Main Course and Sides
  • Lamb with Mint Jelly
  • Asparagus with Crispy Crumb Topping
  • Spaghetti Salad
Wine Pairing
  • Perrin & Fils Les Cornuds Vinsobres 2007, Côtes du Rhône, France - $20
  • Chateau Garreau Bordeaux Blanc 2009, Bordeaux, France - $20
  • Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Grigio 2010, CA - $10
The lamb was melt-in-your-mouth PERFECT! I wasn't sure about the Kryptonite color of the mint jelly at first, but the lamb was very good with it! YUM!

The wine paired with the lamb was the Vinsobres:
Aroma - black currants
Taste - black fruit, dry, a little hot, black tea
I've had this wine before - see the previous tasting notes here.

The crispy crumb-topped asparagus was to die for! I loved it!

The wine paired with the asparagus was a Bordeaux Blanc:
Aroma - light tropical fruit
Taste - light tropical fruit, crisp, clean

The spaghetti salad was HEAVY! I saw NS carrying it to the dining area, and she was practically dragging it! It had every type of veggie you could imagine, along with spaghetti (of course), eggs, and heavy cream.

The wine paired with the spaghetti salad was paired with the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Grigio 2010 from California:
Aroma - tropical fruit
Taste - tropical fruit, sweet, good, some minerality


Fourth Course - Dessert
  • Ultimate Cheesecake
Wine Pairing
  • Barros Late Bottled Vintage Traditional Porto 1994, Duoro, Portugal
This cheesecake was really the ultimate! And with a crust made from McVities Digestive biscuits (those of you from the UK know EXACTLY what these are!), how can you possibly go wrong?!

The wine paired with this dessert was a 1994 Port.
Aroma and Taste - dark fruit, molten chocolate

Another fantabulous gourmet dinner! Bravo to all my dinner club friends!!!



I could not leave you without a photo of the dinner's aftermath!



And a final photo of our gorgeous setting - it was truly phenomenal!