Review

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.

Review: 2012 La Ferme Julien Rose

Simple, but good. Those were the first words out of my mouth when I sipped the 2012 La Ferme Julien Rose while watching “True Detective” and twirling some spaghetti squash with pesto and peas onto my fork earlier this week.

It was such an easy-drinker I had to refrain myself from finishing more than half the bottle on my own. I believe my other half was skipping out on wine that night because he had to work late into the evening. The kind, generous fiancee I am, I twisted back the screw top and put some of this dry, fruity rose back in the fridge so he could enjoy it, too.

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And enjoy it he did. The next night we finished off the bottle I picked up at Trader Joe’s.

Grapes for La Ferme are grown on vines that sit atop the slopes of Mont-Ventoux in the Rhone Valley in France by the Perrin family. The Perrins are known for their Roussannes as well as their collaboration with Tablas Creek in Paso Robles.

This cherry blossom pink wine doesn’t smell like much at first, but the aromas come in the longer it’s out. It has strawberry flavors in there, but most of the fruitiness is muted. It’s dry, but not too dry. On a 1 to 10 scale of dryness, with 1 being really, really dry, I’d give this a 4. There’s not a leathery feeling on the tongue, in fact the wine is pretty refreshing. Some may call it watery, but I disagree. I think it has just the right amount of lightness. It’s cool and refreshing.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: La Ferme Julien
  • Type: Rose
  • Origin: Rhone Valley, France 
  • Price: $5.99
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: On a hot, hot summer day, possibly while switching off from lounging in a beach chair to hitting a slip and slide.

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: 2011 Challis Lane Old Vine Zinfandel

This Old Vine Zinfandel won’t blow your socks off, but it’s a smooth, very gulp-able wine with just a bit of zest at the end.

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This fruity wine smells like berries and tastes like them, too. This plum-purple drink will make your teeth just as mauve, so be careful not to pose for any pictures after taking a sip. My other half said he could see my once pearly whites coated in purple from the couch when I was in the kitchen, and that’s a good 5-foot distance.

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Challis Lane
  • Type: Old Vine Zinfandel
  • Origin: Manteca
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: Gifted
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: I could see this pleasing a varied crowd. Bring this over to your gal pal’s place next time you have a “Girls” or “Parks & Recreation” viewing party. If you can’t tell, on the TV, in the background, is the latter.

Review: New Age Torrontes/Sauvignon Blanc

Sweet and spritzy, this wine is a good alternative for Muscat lovers. From Mendoza, Argentina, this white is a blend of Torrontes and Sauvignon Blanc (10%), so it’s easy to understand the floral and peachy flavors emanating from this syrupy drink.

The artsy bottle suggests pouring the wine over ice and adding a bit of lime. That made me do a double take. Wine over ice? Reminds me too much of my aunt, who I would never ask for a wine recommendation, but those who’ve done this are giving it rave reviews.

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Honestly, I didn’t enjoy this sweet blend, although it did remind me of lazy summer days by the pool in Palm Springs. I’ve got about half a bottle left after drinking it at dinner with the boyf and I’m thinking of mixing the rest with Orange Juice, giving a twist to the traditional Mimosa.

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We got this bottle for free, so no harm done since we didn’t like it. Although my other half described it (half-jokingly) as an appropriate torture tool, I took a more balanced approach. While it didn’t do well with our spaghetti squash and pesto dinner, I could see how some sweet wine lovers would enjoy it on its own.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: New Age
  • Type: Torrontes (90%) and Sauvignon Blanc (10%)
  • Origin: Mendoza
  • Vintage: Not listed on bottle.
  • Price: Gifted
  • Alcohol content: 9%
  • When to drink: Drink this on a hot day, lounging by the pool, or pour a bit into some orange juice for a twist on the traditional Mimosa.

Review: 2012 Ceibo Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon

If I had to pick one word to describe this Malbec, it would be tart. The wine has a lot of structure and a zesty flavor at the end, but I felt like the tart, pomegranate flavor was distracting. There’s also a flowery essence to the drink, which I tasted, but my fellow drinker did not. Overall, I’d skip this wine if you’re going down the aisles in search of a new Malbec to try. I think I’ll probably use the leftover wine in the bottle for cooking, perhaps for an Arrabbiata style red tomato sauce.

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Ceibo
  • Type: Malbec (70%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (30%)
  • Origin: Mendoza
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: Gifted
  • Alcohol content: 13.8%
  • When to drink: I can’t think of an appropriate situation for this one because I didn’t like it much.

Review: 2012 Apothic Red Winemaker’s Blend

After a day full of skiing in Big Bear, your body craves Alleve and warmth. Apothic Red is the next best thing.

The sweet, vanilla-y red blend will soothe what ails you and warm you right up, especially if you have a glass or three.

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The mixture of Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon is an easy-drinker, minus the alcohol tinge at the end. But the major fruitiness of the blend makes up for that negative. If you like your fruity reds bold and smoky though, I’d stay away from this saccharine libation.

Making the drinking experience all the better, I got to hang out with this fine Australian Shepherd.

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Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Apothic Red
  • Type: Winemaker’s blend (Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Origin: Modesto
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $7
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: After a day of skiing the slopes!

Review: 2012 Jarenincan Crnko

Bet you can’t say that five times fast.

I bought this Slovenian white blend of riesling and dry muscat hoping to drink it with a delicious meal featuring lemon garlic cod and jasmine rice, but I decided to bring this table wine to a pre-New Year’s Eve party since it’s 1-Liter size and bottle cap top make it difficult for individual consumption.

OK let’s stop right there. Yes, this wine has a bottle cap on it.

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Not a screw top and not a cork. Weird, huh. It’s the wine of the people over in Slovenia, served in every country tavern and in every household, so I guess the bottle cap blends well with that scene.

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That’s not the only thing weird about this number. It’s lemony and zesty and reminds me of the idea of an alcoholic Fresca.

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Great for easy drinking, I decided to bring it to the pre-party because I knew it would be low-key, great for a crowd and a nice, light precursor to the Old Fashioneds and other bourbon/whiskey cocktails I’d ride for the rest of the evening, which by the way was filled with beautiful views of Los Angeles and sparklers!

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The wine is hand-picked from a family vineyard in northeastern Slovenia that features fossil-rich soils. The blend changes from year to year, according to the folks at Vintage Berkeley.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Crnko
  • Type: blend of riesling and dry muscat
  • Origin: Slovenia
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $15
  • Alcohol content: I left the bottle at that pre-New Year’s soiree and forgot to write this down!
  • When to drink: Tuck this in a picnic basket as you head out to the park on a summery day with your friends, a croquet set and this amazing lemon-feta dip.

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: 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?