California

Review: 2012 Fratelli Perata Cabernet Sauvignon

Tomatoes! I don’t think I’ve ever had wine with a deep, roasted tomato taste, but the 2012 Fratelli Perata Cabernet Suvignon does. And it’s yummy. Not a weird tomato taste, but it’s an almost Earthy quality that makes this wine pair well with spaghetti and meatballs!

I picked up this unfiltered wine on a trip to Paso Robles. A fellow wine lover had recommended it while I was visiting Midnight Cellars with my husband. “If you like Italian wines,” he said, “go there, now!” So we did. The wine tasting room was very small and a few old timers were already there drinking at the bar. This is a very quaint winery that doesn’t have all the bells and whistles like many others now. If you want cheese plates and corn hole, this wine tasting room isn’t for you.
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But the big-flavored reds were satisfying. This cab was well-rounded with intense fruit and that’s why I bought it. I will say the label advises to decant for an hour and I would highly recommend doing so. Otherwise, you’re going to get an alcoholic burn that masks the majesty of this drinking Cab. Even after decanting though, you can still expect this wine to have a tart dryness from the tannins.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Fratelli Perata
Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2012
Price: $36
Alcohol content: 13.6%
When to drink: Put some steak rubbed with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper on the BBQ and then indulge. (Remember to give it plenty of time to breathe first).

Review: 2012 Gainey Vineyards Limited Selection Chardonnay

I’m not usually a Chardonnay fan. Something about the artificial butter taste turns me off. But we picked up the 2012 Gainey Vineyards Chardonnay at a friend’s party and I’ve had it sitting in my fridge for month. Then came a hot day and I was tired of beer, so I popped open this baby.

“Mmm, that’s pretty good,” were the first words that came out of my mouth. The super yellow–almost pee-colored yellow (sorry, but it’s true)–wine isn’t too buttery…just the right amount of smooth with a hint of vanilla. The wine has a full-mouth feel with longlasting flavor–think apples and melons– that kind of takes over and relaxes your tongue, almost like an anesthetic.

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It smells like lemon bars and has a slatey/flinty bite at the end, which gets more pronounced as it warms up.

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Gainey Winery
Type: Chardonnay
Origin: Santa Rita Hills, California
Vintage: 2013
Price: $38 (Straight from the vineyard, but we picked ours up as a leftover from a party. Score!)
Alcohol content: 14.1%
When to drink: This wine is perfect for picnics in the grass.

Review: 2013 Saucelito Canyon Grenache Blanc

So you’ve all seen me write about my other half. He’s my humorous sounding board when I get too metaphorical about the wine I’m drinking. Well, I’ll soon be Mrs. Other Half and we did our engagement photos recently. Since wine is a passion we both share, we decided to incorporate it into our shoot.

The problem was—and not sure this is no much a problem as a dilemma—we picked a bottle that was too good. After we poured some of the 2013 Saucelito Canyon Grenache Blanc for the pictures and started sipping, we couldn’t stop.

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We picked up the crisp white on Valentine’s Day while visiting San Luis Obispo, so it was sentimental. But it also came with a screw top, making it practical. Win, win.

The Rhone varietal is fruity, melony, in fact, and zesty.

Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Saucelito Canyon
Type: Grenache Blanc
Origin: San Luis Obispo
Price: $24, but we got a free tasting at the winery when we bought the bottle
Alcohol content: 14.2 %
When to drink: Get a B&B by the beach and open up this baby at sunset while sitting on the deck.

You get free wine on Virgin flights to Vegas

I went to Vegas with some friends for my bachelorette party and rather than drive, we flew, yay! And rather than have to pay for wine, our virgin flight gave us a free drink. Too bad they didn’t have champagne. We opted for the only white option, a chardonnay, because it was 10 a.m. and I felt white was probably more socially-acceptable. If we were camping, I would have been OK with beer for breakfast, but this was my bachelorette celebration!

Now, I’m not usually a fan of Chardonnay, but when in Rome… This wine had a Food Network label on it, so it had to be some sort of partnership. It was meh. Tasted of apples and it was easy-drinking. Wasn’t expecting much—I mean, it didn’t have a vintage on the label— so it was fine for what it was. But since I didn’t have to pay for it, why not?

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While in Vegas, I got to see the Beatles show, which was amazing, and even got a delicious Kahlua/ coffee milkshake from BLT. The perfect end to a fun weekend.

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Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Entwine
Type: Chardonnay
Origin: Dubiously just says California on the bottle, but it’s made by Wente Vineyards, which is in Livermore.
Price: Free.99
Alcohol content:13%
When to drink: I probably wouldn’t pick up a bottle of this, but would drink again on a flight to Vegas.

Review: 2012 Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Pinot Noir

We drink so much wine, that our landlord finally noticed. After my other half did him a favor using his technical ninja skills, our landlord gifted us a bottle of a 2012 Francis Coppola Pinot Noir. The Diamond Collection wine has a fruity, long-lasting flavor— think raspberry! raspberry! It’s a bit dry, but does the job.

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For those staring at the photo, yes, we watched House of Cards as we finished off the bottle.

This is an average pinot noir, I’d say. It’s not the best, but it’s pretty good, as my other half said. But, he was quick to point out, it’s no Wolff Vineyards Syrah.

Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Francis Coppola
Type: Pinot Noir
Origin: Monterey
Price: Gifted, but on wine-searcher.com, it’s between $14-$20
Alcohol content: Forgot to write it down!
When to drink: Have the in-laws over for dinner and bring this red out. It can be a conversation piece—who doesn’t want to talk about The Godfather—and it’s middle-of-the-road enough to please a crowd.

Review: 2012 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon

This Napa Valley wine was a welcome treat after several mishaps at a hotel I was staying at in New York for work. The Dream Downtown left the half-bottle in my room after my heater broke twice and a drunk man pounded on my door at 5 a.m.

This red tickles your tongue and leaves behind a longlasting warm feeling. It’s chock full of dark cherry flavor and has soft tannins.

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Also a plus: The winery is solar-powered.

Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Honig
Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
Origin: Napa
Price: Unknown
Alcohol content: 14.5%
When to drink: Wrap yourself in a quilt and get cozy when you sip on the 2012 Honig Cabernet Sauvignon.

Review: 2013 Kynsi Barn Owl Blush Pinot Noir Rose

You know that euphoric feeling you get when the sun is shining, you’re lying on the grass and looking up at the clouds as you snuggle up alongside someone you love? Well my other half and I got a heaping dose of all that mushy stuff this past Valentine’s Day when we visited San Luis Obispo. We went for the wine, but also got a pleasantly fun surprise by saying at the quirky, and sometimes creepy, Madonna Inn.

Credit: Madonna Inn

Credit: Madonna Inn

Kynsi, a small winery we visited while there, made a special Pinot Noir Rose and we just had to bring some home. This Rose, which is more orange in color than pink, is crisp and lemony and just reminds me of summer days playing lawn games. The strawberry essence helps there, too.

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The rose is different than your traditional White Zinfandel or White Merlot, so if those are your jam, be weary that this isn’t as sweet. It does have a spritzy body and a creamy aftertaste, though, and best of all purchases benefit the Arroyo Grande Hospital Breast Cancer Fund.

Plus, we when we bought the wine, Kynsi–which has an air of Anthropologie about it, perhaps because it has a French Country charm with its dairy farm roots–gave us complimentary chocolate bark. Yum!

Nuts and Bolts

Winery: Kynsi
Type: Pinot Noir Rose
Origin: Edna Valley
Price: $24
Alcohol content: 13.6%
When to drink: Valentine’s Day, duh!

Review: 2012 Wolff Vineyards Syrah

So good. I mean it’s so good. That’s all my fiancé and I kept saying as we finished a bottle of 2012 Wolff Vineyards Syrah, which we picked up on a recent trip to San Luis Obispo.

Funnily enough, when we tasted the Syrah on the vineyard’s patio, which is super cute and worth a visit, we liked it, but not as much as we did when we popped the cork at home a few nights ago to finish up the final season of Parks and Recreation (The show’s finale was so good, too, so we were on quite a roll with our entertainment choices that night).

Plus, I had found a home for this cute stray and I needed to celebrate, which made finishing the bottle on a weekday an easy task.

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This Edna Valley syrah has a hint of pepper and a full-bodied toastyiness that smoothly slips down your tongue. The longlasting flavor kinda tastes like a delicious berry jam, when it’s cooling down to be canned. You know that kind of warm, juicy, stewed flavor? It has a bit of a leathery texture, but it’s not overwhelming.

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These are words that I don’t hear often coming out of my jokeleaning other half when we taste wine at home: “I dig it, a lot.”

Now I just wish we had brought home more than one bottle of this smooth Syrah!

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Wolff Vineyards
Type: Syrah
Origin: San Luis Obispo
Vintage: 2012
Price: $24, $19 if you’re part of the Wine Club
Alcohol content: 14%
When to drink: Take this to your next family dinner to impress the folks.

Review: 2011 Leoness Limited Selection Ten

Spending a weekend up in the mountains? Bring some nice reds (or if you’re like me also pack a cheap Rose for the hot tub. I brought along a 2013 Josephine Rose).

I brought along the 2011 Leoness Limited Selection Ten, a supple blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Cinsaut, Grenache and Mourevadre to pair with a special “family” dinner of spaghetti and meatballs.The spicy meatballs and sauce, which took hours to make, paired well with this red wine with soft tannins. You could taste a hint of vanilla from the French oak, but the blackberry took center stage.

This smoky wine was a nice dinnertime compliment, although not as good as the 2010 Leoness Limited Selection Nine. And I don’t think this red blend lives up to the hefty price.

I forgot to snap a pic, so enjoy the beautiful sunset from our cabin’s deck, instead 🙂

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Leoness
  • Type: Red blend
  • Origin: Temecula Valley
  • Price: $55, so definitely a budget breaker (But came in Wine Club three-pack that comes every quarter)
  • Alcohol content: 15.2%
  • When to drink: With a nice spicy dinner, I liked it with the meatballs.

Review: 2011 Dillon Vineyards Chardonnay

I tasted the 2011 Dillon Vineyards Chardonnay at Silver Lake Wines weekly Blue Mondays (a great deal!) and it made me melt.

The creamy Chardonnay swims down your tongue like it’s a slip-and-slide of butter. It’s aged in French Oak, and there’s a hint of that in there, too, but the second malolactic fermentation is really the star here and va-va-voomed this yellow beauty.

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This peachy wine has a bit of a sour bite, but I thought this tart apple flavor counteracted the butteriness in a good way.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Dillon Vineyards
  • Type: Chardonnay
  • Origin: Yountville Appellation, Napa Valley
  • Price: $21
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: Go crazy with the creaminess and pair this golden Chardonnay with some brie.