Review

Review: 2013 Les Portes de Bordeaux Savignon Blanc

I was tired of not having white wine in the fridge when I was hankering for a refreshing sip on a hot summer night, so I went to Trader Joe’s and stacked up on whites.

I picked up this Les Portes de Bordeaux Savignon Blanc that I hadn’t tried before. Savignon Blanc, in my mind, evokes memories of a wine that is usually crisp, citrusy, melony, sometimes grassy, and dry. This one was citrusy, but more in the grapefruit-camp, kind of like a Viognier. It was really tangy, like in your face tangy, and that caught me off guard.

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To me it smelled like Pine Sol and to my drinking partner it smelled like white grape juice, so there wasn’t a lot of depth here. It did have some acidity, which gave it a redeeming bubbliness, but I wouldn’t buy it again.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Les Portes de Bordeaux
  • Type: Savignon Blanc
  • Origin: Bordeaux, France
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Price: $4.99
  • Alcohol content: 12%
  • When to drink: I’d skip this bottle if you’re wandering through Trader Joe’s.

Review: 2013 Tapiz Malbec

I got this Malbec at the BevMo 5 cent wine sale. I’ve purchased it a couple times, so I definitely keep coming back.

It’s sour, tart and has a long finish. The bottle says it ends with a violety flavor–a common characteristic of some Malbecs, but I didn’t taste the flowery perfume. To me, it smelled and tasted like black cherry and a lot of it. It’s a full-throttle kind of wine, so you taste a lot of fruit at the outset and all the way through.

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Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Tapiz
  • Type: Malbec
  • Origin: Mendoza
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Price: $20 (for two)
  • Alcohol content: 12.5%
  • When to drink: With steak, chimichurri and the World Cup playing. Vamos Argentina!

Review: 2013 J.L. Quinson Cotes de Provence Rose

I experimented a bit with this wine. I had brought a pretty good roe from Trader Joe’s, 2013 La Ferme Julien Rose, to a picnic–mostly because it was hot and I thought a rose would be refreshing and because it has a screwtop, which is perfect for al fresco drinking. My friend brought the 2013 J.L. Quinson Cotes de Provence Rose and mentioned that while browsing the wine aisles at Trader Joe’s, she came across both wines, but landed on the latter.

In light of this lovely coincidence, we sipped from both bottles, comparing the two.

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The Cotes de Provence, with its salmon color in the glass, smells like strawberry and is much drier than the La Ferme Julien Rose. To me, it tasted like light grape skins–it’s not too fruity– but it had a nice pep to it due to the acidity. It also wasn’t too flabby, a refreshing characteristic for a cheap rose.

Overall, I prefer the La Ferme Julien, but you can’t go wrong with either one on a hot summer day (they are both the same price).You can see my review for that wine in a previous post.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: J.L. Quinson
  • Type: Rose
  • Origin: France
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Price: $5.99
  • Alcohol content: 12.5%
  • When to drink: On a hot summer day, al fresco, while discussing vacations abroad or daydreaming about crystal clear waters off the coast of Croatia.

Review: 2007 Oberon Wines Cabernet Sauvignon

When you bring a 1.5L bottle of wine to a party, you sure turn heads.

I was heading to Echo Park Hills last weekend for a party in a gorgeous California abode with a luxurious view of downtown Los Angeles and decided to bring along the 1.5L bottle I won from the Oberon Wines video competition. 

I was hoping to save the wine for a quaint dinner party at my place, but it was so hot in Los Angeles last week, that the cork started to shimmy its way out of the bottle on its own. The wine was basically screaming “Drink me tonight!” And I acquiesced.

Toting it with me to the party, sure got guests’ attention. It’s a big bottle and people were surprised to see it, especially because it was autographed by the winemaker himself, Tony Coltrin.

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Rather than over fancy dinner conversation, I sipped this Cabernet Sauvignon in a red solo cup while playing drunk Jenga. Yes, I consistently pulled the “beer wench” block, to my dismay, but unlike the another unlucky soul, I did not have to put my “head on table” for three minutes.

I wish I had this wine under different circumstances. I’m not sure if it was the heat or the fact that the cork had slid out a bit before I fully opened it hours later, letting some air in, but by the time I got to drink it, the wine seemed to have gone flat.

It was thin and had a faint berry taste, but it was heavy on the ashtray. By that, I mean it had a strong taste of tobacco. The wine had a bit of an alcoholic burn at the beginning, but that quickly went away after the first glass.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Oberon Wines
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Napa Valley
  • Vintage: 2007
  • Price: I won it!
  • Alcohol content: Unknown
  • When to drink: I can tell you when not to drink it: at a house party serving Kirkland beer and Tito’s vodka. Different vibe, different time preferred.

 

 

Review: 2012 Stateland Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon

When you drink this berrylicious Cabernet Sauvignon, your mouth will water. The blackberry aroma and soft tannins of this easy-to-drink Cab can be quite persuasive.

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However, this Central Coast red can be a bit leathery at times, lying heavy on the tongue, coating it as if it were leaving behind a prime layer of paint. It can have a bump in the finish, but that dissipates the longer it breathes.

Use the leftovers, if you have any, as a steak marinade. I did this with Tri-tip, salt, pepper, cumin and garlic and loved the berry/ savory results.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Stateland Cellars
  • Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Origin: Paso Robles
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $19, purchased at Bevmo 5 cent wine sale, so I got two for one, basically
  • Alcohol content: 13.7%
  • When to drink: Bring this to a dinner party. The classic label makes it look more expensive that it is and the balanced, fruity Cab will be a crowd-pleaser.

Review: 2012 Wolff Vineyards Dry Riesling

When I think riesling, I think flowers, apricot, honey and sweet, sweet, sweet.

Not this one.

Wolff Vineyards’ riesling is made in the Alsatian-style, which leads to a drier, brighter taste. Alsace lies on the border of France and Germany and the dry riesling from that region tends to be super sweet, have high acidity–which gives it that bubbly feeling–and not too flabby since the moderate alcohol levels give it some structure, like a corset of sorts.

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This cloudy yellow wine smells like peach and pineapple and has a crisp bite. It’s fruity, but it’s got a kick which makes it not too sweet. It’s perfect for Thai food, which I had with it last night. All the windows were open to cool down our 85 degree apartment on a hot summer night and the quiet breeze was a perfect complement to the wine.

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I found my way to Wolff Vineyards in San Louis Obispo with some girlfriends. We did a road trip in my Mini Cooper–yes four women and all our stuff fit in my Misha, believe me I’m as surprised as you are. A friend from work suggested we hit up Wolff Vineyards when we went wine tasting and I’m glad she did!

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The tastings were $8 and you can sit out on the patio, BYOC (bring your own cheese), and serve the pours al fresco. Surrounded by hills, valleys and vines, you may also get a visit from a black lab named Daisy, who belongs to the winery owners.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Wolff Vineyards
  • Type: Dry Riesling
  • Origin: Central Coast
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $21
  • Alcohol content: 13.8%
  • When to drink: On a hot summer night! It’s refreshing!

Review: 2011 Saucelito Canyon Cotes de Blanc

While weekend getawaying in San Luis Obispo with three lovely ladies, I imbibed the 2011 Saucelito Canyon Cotes de Blanc.

This blend smells of peaches and melon and lays heavy on the tongue, lingering for awhile, in a good way. It has a pleasant hint of butteriness and its light minerality gives it a dash of crisp bubbly. The blend of Grenache Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne is a drier white and it’s sweet, but not too sweet, a perfect match for the thai salad I ate with it for dinner at Big Sky Cafe, a wonderful foody haunt in SLO. IMG_20140502_181259

The next day we drove by the winery as we headed to the wine trail. Sadly, we didn’t make it there in time, but I heard they have stand-out Zinfandel. For another visit!

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Saucelito Canyon
  • Type: White Blend (62% Grenache Blanc, 16% Sauvignon Blanc, 8% Viognier, 8% Marsanne, 6% Roussanne)
  • Origin: Central Coast
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $22 (at the restaurant, probably less in stores)
  • Alcohol content: Whoops, forgot to jot it down!
  • When to drink: This would be lovely for a midmorning brunch/lunch featuring something with a little spiccccy.

 

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.

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.

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.