Trinchero Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
January 20, 2009, 11:11 pm
Filed under: Red Wine | Tags: , ,

trincheroSickly sweet with notes of something volatile like paint thinner or solvent. This offensive flavor eased after being uncorked for a couple days, but still rather undrinkable. Leathery finish as the winemaker writes on the back of the bottle, but he lied about the rewarding part.

Price: $5.99

From: BevMo

Rating: 56


Smoking Loon Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
January 10, 2009, 12:52 am
Filed under: Red Wine | Tags: , ,

smoking_loon_cabernet_sauvignonMany people have praised this wine as good ‘bang-for-the-buck’–I was honestly not too impressed. I thought it was too thin and never developed a satisfactory mouth-feel. The sweetness that dominates the beginning of the sip never gives way to more interesting flavors. This is the red wine that would be served at a local bar–something simple and with a critter on the label.

Price: $9

From: Grocery store

Rating: 62

337 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon 2006
January 4, 2009, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Red Wine | Tags: , ,

337-cabernet-255I like this Cabernet Sauvignon because it is powerful without relying too heavily on oak. The lush beginning narrows into tight and spicy wine that really grabs a hold of your tongue. The evolution of this wine from sweet and juicy to tart and dry is what will keep me coming back.

Price: $10.99 (on sale)

From: Grocery Store

Rating: 80

Castle Rock Mendocino County Merlot 2006
December 28, 2008, 7:19 pm
Filed under: Red Wine | Tags: , ,

2006mendocinocountymerlotI have a goal to identify a few widely distributed winemakers with a broad range of wines–something that I can grab at most grocery stores or recommend to friends in places with limited wine selection (Mississippi). At this point, Castle Rock Winery is definitely at the top of this list.  They have more than twenty current offerings with grapes sourced from some of the best wine producing regions of the Western US. The company’s mission to offer high quality wines at affordable prices while constantly growing the brand is perfectly matched to the goal of my list.

I thought that I wasn’t much of a Merlot fan, but this particular wine is making me reconsider. The dominant flavors  of dark cherries and ripe peaches are accompanied by notes of fresh-cut grass and roses. It is more complex and well balanced than most in its price range.  The limited amount of tannins make this an effortless drink. Anyone would enjoy a glass of this wine.

Price: $10.99

From: Ralphs

Rating: 79

Tres Pinos 2005 Tierra Roja
August 25, 2008, 6:58 pm
Filed under: Red Wine | Tags: , , , ,

If you walk into a Trader Joe’s you cannot miss this wine. There is probably a giant display at the front of the store. This seems to be the sequel to the immensely popular $2 Charles Shaw. This red is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah; no grape variety stands above the others. The wine is not terribly interesting, but it is not offensive—almost like it doesn’t want to be noticed. Although I would not buy another bottle for personal consumption, I think it would be well received at a large party or event. It is a giant, Neil Armstrong moon step up from Two Buck Chuck and I applaud Trader Joe’s for its release.

Price: $4.99

From: Trader Joe’s

Rating: 66

Steven Bannus Zinfandel Sonoma County Reserve 2005
August 21, 2008, 8:15 pm
Filed under: Red Wine, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

While at work today, I wrote an intensely negative review of  this wine. At one point I likened its oomph to a  ‘declawed, pregnant cat on a porch swing idly swatting at a fly on a lazy Sunday afternoon’  (thank NPH for that imagery). For two days I sought out something I liked in the wine, but really came up short. It was way too jammy and flabby for me and it completely lacked the spicy kick I was looking for in a Zinfandel.

When I got home this evening, I saw that half of a glass remained in the bottle. Never being one to waste wine, I took a swill straight from the bottle–I am the epitome of class by the way. The wine absolutely exploded in my mouth. The spiciness and strong character was suddenly present. The wine was still jammy, but it had new depth and a great dry finish.

As i made dinner I debated with myself the cause of this sea change of flavors. Although could have been the two day old bottle, I’m pretty sure that the incredibly garlicky chicken I ate for those two night had a dominant effect. I’ve always had an odd relationship with garlic, but I think this particular dish kicked my taste buds in the balls. In fact, I’m still slightly feeling the effects of that garlic. Revising my early score of 55 I would now give this wine a solid 77.  Also, I am never eating Trader Joe’s Chicken Serenada again.

Price: $9.99

From: BevMo

Rating: 77

Go-To Wines

I wanted to name some of my fallback wines as it will take me some time to populate this blog with a decent selection of wines—I’m only one person with one liver. Although I am hoping to find some gems around $7 through this endeavor, these four wines are all moderately priced and widely available. Sometimes it can even be difficult to walk into a grocery store and not hear one calling your name as it perches over a sale sign. These wines all come from rather large vineyards and whatever vintage is in-stock is probably worth trying.

Castle Rock Pinot Noir ($10-$12)
Everyone seems to love this wine and it is very approachable. It is perfect for a party because everyone can find something in it that they like. There are multiple bottlings, but I’ve only tried the Sonoma County release. Supposedly the Mendocino County is even better. I’d say go with anything from Castle Rock.

Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirs (~$16)
I have always struggled when picking out champagne or sparkling wine. I really only drink it on special occasions and I never really know who much to spend. In my opinion, this sparkling Californian wine beats of most other non-vintage champagnes. Another similarly priced and delicious bottle is from the New Mexican vineyard, Gruet. Even though this is more than I like to spend on wine, you gotta splurge on the bubbly.

Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Dry Riesling NV (~$9)
Forgive this wine for its girly bottle and ridiculous name. This wine will carry the takeout from your favorite Asian restaurant to new heights. Thai, Chinese, Sushi…you name it and this wine can take it. The bottle is immediately identifiable so it is especially easy to find in an unfamiliar grocery store. Plus, the Rieslings are usually right at the edge of the white wine section. If you can’t spot this bottle, it may be time to stop drinking anyway.

Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc (~$9)
When looking for a Sauvignon Blanc it would be hard to mess up with something from New Zealand. If you keep your eyes out for the word ‘Marlborough’—a region on NZ—you will not be disappointed. This wine, Nobilo, can be found everywhere—probably even in a nearby 7-11—and has all the great characteristics of Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs. This wine is perfect for a hot summer night and is packed with refreshing grapefruit, grass, and green apple flavors