Pour it on me!

Chronicling my transition from wine novice to oenophile (sort of).

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Review: 2012 Melville Estate Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir

I went to Phoenix area this past weekend to visit my sister for her birthday. And what do you do with your older sister when it’s her birthday? Get a babysitter for your niece and nephew and head on over to the closest wine bar!

Inside the wine bar in Old Town Gilbert, Postinos, is a dark and romantic setting and outside, it’s set up like a picnic–fit with bocce ball and giant Jenga.

We ordered a bottle of the 2012 Melville Estate Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir after a few off the “wine by the glass” menu. This is a spicy Pinot Noir that’ll warm you up, in a good way, even if you’re drinking it during a warm Arizona evening. The ruby red wine has layers of flavor, knitting together raspberry, cherries and sweet herbs.

It’s a silky number that felt light on the follow through. This is definitely not a chewy wine.

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I would drink this one again. In fact, I probably drank 3/4 of the bottle as my older sis couldn’t keep up!

And the next morning we took her kiddos to the Phoenix Zoo and I got to ride a carousel and feed a giraffe, so needless to say, it was a fun weekend all around.

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Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Melville Vineyards
  • Type: Pinot Noir
  • Origin: Lompoc
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $36 at restaurant; wine-searcher.com says $17-$20
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • When to drink: With a cheese plate and artichoke dip, which is exactly how I enjoyed it last Saturday night.

Robert Parker v. Robot

You know Robert Parker, the wine guru? He’s the one who came up with the 100-point system widely used today. He also has a way with words.

Check out some of his stand-out musings:

When I put my nose in a glass, it’s like tunnel vision. I move into another world, where everything around me is just gone, and every bit of mental energy is focused on that wine

From a wine critic’s perspective, there are far too many innocuous, over-oaked, over-acidified, or over-cropped wines emerging from California. While those sins would not be a problem if the wines sold for under $20, many are in fact $75-$150. That’s appalling.

Readers often wonder what the difference is between an 86 and an 87, both very good wines. The only answer I can give is a simple one: when tasted side by side, I thought the 87-point wine slightly better than the 86-point wine.

Now Vinepair is challenging you to distinguish between Robert Parker and a robot in a new quiz game.

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It’s pretty fun if you’re a wine dork. And you like to guess. I loveeee to guess.

Review: 2012 Red Tree Pinot Noir

Get ready for some complaining. I wouldn’t buy this wine, again and unfortunately I have another bottle since I got two at the BevMo 5 cent wine sale.

When I think Pinot, I think smoky, and while this wine had somewhat of a smokiness to it, it was lacking. It tastes like fake smoke. My other half called it “diet smoke.”

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It was pink for a Pinot and had a tart flavor throughout. It wasn’t a fruit bomb, although the label described it as “fruit forward.” The wine finishes sour and after leaving it out to breathe for a bit, takes on a leathery texture. I don’t usually mind that furry tongue feeling when it’s a good, bold wine, but this time, the prerequisites weren’t there.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Red Tree
  • Type: Pinot Noir
  • Origin: Sonoma County
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $9 (2nd bottle for 5 cents)
  • Alcohol content: 12.5%
  • When to drink: Not again.

BevMo 5 cent wine sale is on

For the Bevmo 5 cent wine sale lovers out there like me: the discount is on!

I went to my local Bevmo this weekend and walked away with 10 bottles and saved $75. I got a mixture of oldies, but goodies and new wines I’ve never tried. Look out for blog posts about the newbies on the list.

My haul:

And to top it all off, while waiting in line at the cash register, I saw the Ommegang Game of Thrones beer. It’s called Fire and Blood and has a dragon on the label!

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I was going to a Game of Thrones premiere party that night, so I had to grab a bottle. This red isn’t sour like Imperial or Scottish reds, rather it was reminiscent of a Belgian Dubbel. It had that weighted feeling as the beer makes it’s way down your tongue.

Review: 2011 Salentein Reserve Malbec

When I first saw the cork of the 2011 Salentein Reserve Malbec, I remember my first thought was: “Now that’s purple.” See:

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I bought the Salentein Reserve Malbec in the cutest little bodega in the Palermo neighborhood in Buenos Aires. After getting some brie, baguettes and green olives for snacking, I also asked the store clerk which was his favorite Malbec of the bunch on the shelf. He said this was his favorite in the medium-price category, so I grabbed a bottle to take home from my trip in my suitcase.

The wine–which is very dark in color in the glass, almost black– smells like perfume and alcohol, but in a good way. It warms your body up real fast, kind of like the feeling you get when sipping on a good glass of whiskey. You can feel the body of this malbec in your mouth; each layer is distinct. The wine has hints of blackberry and vanilla and the flavors linger on your tongue. This is a delicious, flavorful wine that tastes floral at the end.

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Only downside is it leaves behind a leathery feeling on your tongue, but not the kind of leathery that dries you out. In fact, the sensation is quite the opposite. The texture of the wine almost makes your tongue so dry it feels wet. My other half said he had to keep drinking more to get rid of the almost astringent feeling in his mouth. Although it took me aback at first, I grew to like the dusty flavor.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Bodegas Salentein
  • Type: Malbec
  • Origin: Mendoza
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $15 American
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • When to drink: Now that I think of it, this wine would have been great with my little cheese and olive platter I created at the bodega. Can you just imagine sitting at a wood picnic table, munching on salty green olives and drinking this beefy in flavor Malbec. Yum.

Wine milkshake? Red Robin’s got one.

Red Robin, yes, the chain that brought you the a burger called “Burnin Love,” now has a wine milkshake on the menu.

Courtesy foodbeast.com

Courtesy foodbeast.com

The Mango Moscato Wine Shake includes vanilla soft serve ice cream, Skyy Vodka (Moscato flavored, I’ll have to look into that for another post), Moscato by Alice White (the cheap wine you can buy at the grocery store for $5 that has a kangaroo on the label) and mango puree. Red Robin introduced beer milkshakes in the past, including one featuring Blue Moon.

I’ve had boozy milkshakes before at the Satellite Room in Washington, D.C. which were delicious, but those included shakes mixed with Bulleit bourbon and Tanqueray dry gin. Wine and ice cream I have yet to try, but I’m going to keep an open mind on this one. You know what they say, don’t knock it until you try it.

I have to say though that I’ve been antsy to try the Guinness milkshake at Slater’s 50/50.

H/T to Chicago Tribune for spreading the news about the family dining restaurant’s newest drink concoction.

I won a 1.5L bottle of Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon

And now I have one in my possession, thanks to Oberon Wines. I entered a video contest to win a free trip to Napa through the Mondavi family label, but I didn’t win. I was told it was a close call, but they probably just tell that to everyone.

To lift my spirits though, I received a very large, tall package on my doorstep this weekend. Inside was a 1.5L bottle of a 2007 Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon autographed by winemaker Tony Coltrin and a $50 Visa gift card. Now that’s what I call a consolation prize :)

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I see a dinner at Fritto Misto where you can BYO in my future soon, or perhaps a dinner party in the making.

Review: 2012 Planeta Syrah/Nero d’Avola

Tangerines! That’s the first thing I thought of when I sipped this rose that look more orange than pink. I’ve been on a rose kick since I had the La Ferme Julien Rose and decided to order a glass of this sucker after waiting in a very long line at a pizza place that was having a Pi Day deal ($3.14 for a pizza) only to get out of line in frustration and hunger and go to a fancy Neopolitan pizza joint across the street.

I had this lovely pizza with mascarpone, mozzarella, roasted fennel and onions. Yum! I also had a glass of the 2012 Planeta Syrah/Nero d’Avola. Now this is a blend of Syrah, which is a varietal you probably recognize, and Nero d’Avola, a varietal I had no clue existed.

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Nero d’Avola is largely grown in Sicily (which is where Planeta is based) and also goes by the name Calabrese. It comes from a dark grape (nero means black) and according to wine-searcher.com “younger wines show plum and juicy red-fruit flavors, while more complex examples offer chocolate and dark raspberry flavors.Nero d’Avola typically has high tannins, medium acid and a strong body. However, it can also be very smooth if grown at higher elevations where the air is cooler and alcohol levels are restricted.”

This orangey wine, due to its citrus flavors, reminded me of brunch. It’s tart and slightly tingly from the acidity. After it warms up a bit, it makes your tongue want to rub up against the roof of your mouth because of the lingering flavor, kind of like a dog licking peanut butter off a spoon.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Planeta
  • Type: Syrah/Nero d’Avola blend
  • Origin: Sicily
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $8 for a glass at Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana in Pasadena
  • Alcohol content: unknown
  • When to drink: I imagine drinking this during a summer lunch featuring lots of Italian antipasti dishes at a garden cafe–in Sicily preferentially–but your hometown will do. 

How many hours work buys wine

For someone who’s always on a hunt for wines on a budget, I was super interested when I saw this breakdown from wine-searcher.com of how many hours of work is enough to afford a bottle of wine.

It takes less than 30 minutes of work for people living in Spain, Austria and Belgium. Out of 109 countries, people in Luxembourg have to work the least to buy wine, just 14 minutes. Makes sense since the country had the highest monthly salary in the world: $4,089. South Koreans have to work about an hour. Us Americans must work under 45 minutes to buy a bottle. In 34 out of 109 countries analyzed it takes less than an hour. But in Iran, it takes 60 hours of labor before one can buy a bottle of wine, the longest amount of time of any country on the list. For the complete list, check out the original article (Warning: it’s in French, but the graphics are easy enough to understand). Here’s a segment of the data:

How Many Hours for a Bottle of Wine

The statistics were compiled by a French magazine using a cost-of living database and information from the United Nation’s International Labor Organization. The study was inspired by this story on how many hours of minimum wage work it takes to earn a beer.

Review: 2013 Trapiche Alaris Malbec

OK, I only have a few more Malbec posts from Argentina. So bear with me! I mean, you have to drink Malbec when you’re in Buenos Aires and we drank a lot.

Dialing back the clock a bit, we drank this 2013 Trapiche Alaris Malbec on our second night in Buenos Aires. It was actually our first try at Malbec on the trip and the journey to find it tested our resolve!

We started out the evening with craft beer and then headed to a 9:30 p.m. futbol game for a team my uncle wasn’t too happy we went to see. Buenos Aires has many soccer clubs, but only one game was on during our vacation and it was at the River Plate stadium, which is one of the biggest in the city. But most of my family are Boca Juniors fans, who rival River Plate, so they were disappointed when I told them my fiancee and I cheered for the team they detested. But for us visitors, all the teams were the same, so we didn’t mind.

1966720_10102350613628294_841957291_nGetting into the stadium was crazy. There were about 80,000 people crowding the streets, which had been closed off for security. Guys and girls were separated for security and nothing was allowed in: no Chapstick, no Purell, no lighters and one girl had to leave her favorite necklace behind that had a little tiny whistle–whistles are contraband. We went with a tour group to the game and I’m glad we did because you need club tickets to get into the stadium and it would have been quite difficult to figure out the security system and lines without our helpful guides.

The game was amazing. Spectators were bopping around and singing fight songs all night. There was a team band in the bleachers that led the songs and only home team fans were allowed in, so there was a sea of red and black shirts throughout the stadium.

After the game, we got back to the hotel after midnight and quickly dropped our stuff and went in search of a wine bar around 1 a.m. We didn’t know exactly what we were looking for, but earlier that evening we had passed by a street lined with shops and restaurants and figured that would be a good place to look. On the way we stopped and watched the tail end of a Carnaval event. So much pink! So many drums!

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Then we got lost on our way back to the restaurant street. Once we found our bearings though, all the restaurants were closed! I was so surprised because Buenos Aires nightlife goes deep into the morning. We were sad and defeated. I wanted wine! Despite the whomp whompiness of that moment, we decided to push on. I’m glad we did, because like an oasis in a dessert, a few blocks away we found a circular plaza lined with bars.

Too bad the Malbec menu wasn’t too selective–these weren’t fancy bars, so all the wines were pretty cheap. We ended up getting a 2013 Trapiche Alaris Malbec.

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Later my cousin told me the deep purple Trapiche was considered a so-so wine in Argentine and that’s how we felt when we drank it. But my other half and I still stayed out until the bar closed around 3:30 a.m. drinking the cherry-licious wine, talking and making googly-eyes at each other.

The Malbec had a warmness to it and left a dry, leathery feeling on your tongue. It almost felt like it was making my tongue sweat, it activated my salivating glands that much. It did have an alcohol tinge, which could have been from the quality or the youth of the wine. I mean it was a 2013 wine and we were drinking it in February 2014.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Trapiche Alaris
  • Type: Malbec
  • Origin: Mendoza
  • Price: It was probably about $9 for the bottle after conversion
  • Alcohol content: 13%
  • When to drink: I wouldn’t recommend buying this one, but it was fun to top off our night with a cheap bottle of Malbec amidst a crowd of bar-goers.