California

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.

Oscars and 2012 Moderna Symphony

Our annual Oscar party, which we pair with a signature red carpet cocktail, was a hit, and so was the cocktail, but after we finished a bottle of Bulleit bourbon, we moved on to the liquid treats brought by our guests.

One such gift, was a bottle of 2012 Moderna Chardonnay. It was a light, peachy sweet wine.

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Not my favorite, but it improved when jokes from Ellen DeGeneres, whom I like to call Duchess D, kept my mind off the sugary flavors.

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I don’t think I’d purchase this wine on my own, but if you like saccharine white Chardonnays this is up your alley.

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Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Moderna
  • Type: White blend
  • Origin: California
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: gift
  • Alcohol content: 11.5%
  • When to drink: Cougars who enjoy sweet white wine will enjoy this libation with a side of gossip.

And if you’re wondering what that delicious cocktail had in it, here’s how I made it:

1) Place two to three thawed frozen strawberries (depending on size) in a fancy glass with two to three ice cubes.

2) Toss a shot of Bulleit Bourbon in there. Put three times as much Sparkling Clementine Flavored Juice from Trader Joe’s. Stir and enjoy.

Review: 2012 Criss Cross Old Vine Zinfandel

This warm, chocolatey wine has a full-mouth feel. It’s pert, it’s spicy and it’s jammy.

Because this wine comes from Lodi, it makes sense that it would have that mocha taste. Zinfandels from Lodi tend to have rich flavors and smoky finishes. 

A friend brought this over to watch a TV show at my place. I did see it at her house party the day before though, so it must have been a leftover. Everyone was drinking Maker’s Mark and Golden Road Wold Among Weeds IPAs at that party anyhow, and I’m glad this Zin got recycled and laid to rest at my place. It’s a better fit for slow sipping on a couch than crowding in the kitchen drinking whiskey on ice in mismatched mason jars, any how.

The only downside: I felt like all the full flavors I tasted when the wine slipped between my lips swiftly dissipated as it slid down my tongue. That was disappointing.

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Criss Cross
  • Type: Old Vine Zinfandel
  • Origin: Lodi
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $19.95
  • Alcohol content: I forgot to write it down before tossing the bottle! But I would assume its on the higher end of the scale, as richer Zins have higher alcohol content and lighter Zins, vice versa. Fact of the day!
  • When to drink: This Zin would would do well when you’re glamping/ staying in a boutiquey cottage fit with fire place. Those chocolate notes mixed with roasted marshmallows, yum!

Review: 2012 Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon

After two-buck chuck became three-buck chuck, I shucked my allegiance to the wine on the cheap for a $4 bottle of Trader Joe’s Coastal Cabernet Suavignon, a quality inexpensive red to have lying around the kitchen.

For just a smidge more than its more famous neighbor in the wine aisle, The 2012 Coastal is quite a good QPR wine (quality price ratio). It doesn’t have any special tricks, but it does have all the tenets of a traditional Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s got a full-mouth, oaky feel, a toasty dry finish and a bold fruity flavor that can veer into bitter cranberry at times (the one down side).

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Overall, this is a good buy for the wino on a budget!

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Coastal
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Central Coast
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $4.49
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: During the week, when your wearing your pajamas and slippers to dinner at home, preferably one featuring tri tip.

Review: 2011 Cocobon Red Wine Blend

For some reason, whenever I say Cocobon it makes me think of big band music, dancers with big feather headdresses, Miami Beach in the 1960s and that scene in “The Mask” when Jim Carrey does a crazy dance number. Remember that one? If not, here’s a refresher:

The 2011 Cocobon, sold at Trader Joe’s, is a stand-up red blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Petit Syrah.

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Apologize for the blurriness, but that’s what happens when you stand in the main artery of the kitchen at a party. You get bumped, run into someone you want to talk to and then forget that you took a crappy photo until it’s too late.

It’s lusciously smooth with a vanilla essence. I usually enjoy spicier, bold reds, but I liked this sweet blend with its caramel and dark cherry flavors. The wine doesn’t linger too long on your tongue after a gulp, which makes you want to sip pretty quickly, a dangerous situation.

Although Cocobon is one of Trader Joe’s best sellers, I enjoyed it for the first time at a Christmas party, fit with views of downtown Los Angeles skylines and what I’ve dubbed the #millenialtree.

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Cocobon
  • Type: Red blend (Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Petit Syrah)
  • Origin: California
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $8
  • Alcohol content: 12.5%
  • When to drink: On a rooftop deck with views of downtown Los Angeles, or Miami Beach, I’m not picky 😉

Review: 2012 Estancia Pinot Noir

I don’t think I’ve been able to use coffee and cigarettes as a descriptor yet on the blog, but now’s my chance. Plus, there’s a special treat at the end: cheese!

The 2012 Estancia Pinot Noir smells like berries and cloves and when you take a swig of the ruby colored wine it’s supple body reveals the same berry flavors as in the aroma as well as hints of coffee and cigarettes. It’s not a bad thing, in fact, I think it gives a little exciting flavor to this Pinot Noir. I like my Pinots to be flavorful with a somewhat dry finish, and this fit the bill. However, I can see how other tongues could dislike it if they translate some of the flavors, such as the coffee, into a sour experience.

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Overall, I enjoyed this spicy wine, especially with the pepper jack cheese that I devoured from an accompanying cheese plate.

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Estancia
  • Type: Pinot Noir
  • Origin: Monterey
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $13
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: With a cheese plate full of pepper jack cheese, chevre goat cheese and aged cheddar

Igourmet.com has some great cheese pairing ideas, such as manchego (one of my fave cheeses) with Tempranillo or Rioja (another favorite), taleggio with Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Grigio with fresh mozzarella. Who else is hungry?

Review: 2010 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon

With a rear beef roast and mashed potatoes swimming in garlic and butter on my plate, I sipped more than a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from Robert Mondavi Vineyard Saturday night.

Mondavi, aka the godfather of Napa Valley, made a name for himself boosting the reputation of the famed California wine region and improving wine techniques. It’s no surprise then that Mondavi wines are so popular. The 2010 bottle was well-received around our table of six.

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This a bold, deep purple wine that fills your mouth with flavors of tobacco, dark cherry and dark chocolate. It has a brisk feeling on the way in, but a leathery finish.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Robert Mondavi Vineyard
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Napa Valley
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Price: $39
  • Alcohol content: 15%
  • When to drink: This is definitely a wine for a special occasion, not only due to the price, but also the quality.

Review: 2011 Sincera Zinfandel

 

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Berries! Berries! Berries! If the 2011 Sincera Zinfandel could talk, it’s first word would be berries. If you’re a fan of earthy, spicy zinfandel’s, this isn’t for you. But if you like fruity reds, give this one a try. But for the price, $16.95, there are better zins out there. Wilfred Wong from BevMo gave it 91 points, but I think he was being way too generous.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Sincera
  • Type: Zinfandel
  • Origin: California
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $16.95
  • Alcohol content: I didn’t write it down! Whoops!
  • When to drink: When you’re trying to please a big, fruity red wine lover, whip a bottle of Sincera Zinfandel out onto the table.

Review: 2012 Velvet Moon Cabernet Sauvignon

This is another Friendsgiving wine, because what makes Friendgiving better than regular Thanksgiving? You get drunk with your friends because you’re having fun, rather than getting drunk with your family to forget the dysfunction.

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The 2012 Velvet Moon Cabernet Sauvignon, like the name, is smooth throughout. It is sweeter than most Cabs I’ve had, but that’s not a bad thing. A caramel flavor takes over after the initial tart cherry floats away when the wine breathes for a bit. It’s a good Cab for the price–if you’re a fan of smooth over bold– and can be found at Trader Joe’s.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Velvet Moon
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Manteca, Calif.
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $6
  • Alcohol content: 13%
  • When to drink: When you’re with a traditional white wine drinker who wants to venture into a red for the evening.