Pour it on me!

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

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Review: 2010 Tablas Creek En Gobelet

Friday night was frustrating. On my way to pick up the other half from the train station, I get pulled over by a cop who gives me a ticket. Then my car won’t start and the cop just drives off. Triple A comes and saves me and lover drives home.

What a sucky start to the evening.

So sucky that we decided to pull out our Valentine’s Day wine and drink it with our Matzoh pizza–what Jews eat during Passover, imagine mushroom, spinach, goat cheese, mozzarella, and pizza sauce over a thin, crackery crust. We missed out on the Valentine’s Day wine, which we had been saving since our Paso Robles trip Valentine’s 2013 because we were traveling in Argentina this past February, drinking lots of Malbec.

We had picked up the 2010 Tablas Creek En Gobelet while wine tasting and with the happy memories of our first trip to Paso Robles flowing, we uncorked the bottle. On first sip, though, I was disappointed. The wine had this unpleasant alcoholic burn. After letting it air for a bit, though, the burn mostly disappeared and was replaced by a pleasant warmth.

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This red was pungent, bold and definitely had characteristics of Grenache and Mourevadre, the two big players in the blend. The Grenache gave it this long-lasting flavor and full-mouth feel, while the Mourevadre gave it a gaminess of sorts, which was hard to get used to. It wasn’t too fruity, as I’d expect from a Grenache, and it wasn’t jammy like Mourevadre blends I’ve had in the past. The Syrah and Tannat made it dark and smoky.

It reminded me of a dark chocolate flourless cake,which I’m not a super fan of. Not in the flavors, there was some chocalatyness to it, but that was in the background; rather in the hit or miss quality. Flourless chocolate cakes always sound so good to me, but then the intense flavors can overwhelm. This is a slow-drinker; not a gulpable wine.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Tablas Creek
  • Type: Blend (37% Grenache, 28% Mourevadre,  13% Syrah, 12% Counoise, 10% Tannat)
  • Origin: Paso Robles
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Price: $40
  • Alcohol content: 14.5%
  • When to drink: After you let this wine aerate for a bit, drink it while reading on your tablet. This is a slow-drinking wine, perfect for swigs every now and then.

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.