Tag Archive for #wine

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.


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.

giraffe 2


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: 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!


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.


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: 2010 Hobson Estate Chardonnay

Off to Temecula I went this past Saturday to visit my other half’s childhood home–I’m sure you’ve seen my previous descriptions of this quaint property filled with all kinds of animals. Including this durpy Great Dane.


We hung out in the aviaries with the cockatiels–who are also my bird’s parents–and caught a glimpse of three Cockatiel eggs in a nest. We also ducked into a small pen to hang out with quails, which are quite fast and hard to catch. They had eggs, too, so it seems like breeding is in the air!


We sat down to a meal of fresh, hand-made pasta, which was really good (thanks Mario Batali), and glasses of 2010 Hobson Estate Chardonnay.


The first thing my boyfriend’s father said when he tasted the wine was ouch. The acidity in the wine made it kind of tingly on the tongue, which is not so fun when you have chapped lips.

I was surprised how spritzy this Chardonnay tasted. It had a light wheat color, which from the bottle exemplifies the cool temperatures in which the grapes were grown along the coast. The Chardonnay had a lemony, limy taste, but those citrus flavors transformed into a sour taste after the wine had warmed up a bit on the table.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Hobson Estate
  • Type: Chardonnay
  • Origin: Monterey area
  • Vintage: 2010
  • Price: $14
  • Alcohol content: 14.1%
  • When to drink: Hobson Estate isn’t my favorite Chardonnay, but it would be great for a summer picnic at Echo Park Lake. I can see it now: a little pedal boating, a little sun and a little lemon-lime zest to wash it all down.

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.


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!

Idaho: premiere wine locale?

Remember Paso Robles man? How can you forget this debonaire fellow?

Now, the Idaho Wine Commission has taken their own shot at a cheeky, sarcastic promotional video.

This one features two characters from Idaho–a potato farmer and the owner of a rafting company. Both are having trouble convincing people that they are not in the wine industry. Because didn’t you know, not everyone works at a vineyard in Idaho!

My favorite line: “Potatoes in Idaho? Crazy, right?”

My favorite fact, which I did not learn from the video: Idahoans have been making wine since 1864!

What do you think of the video? What about Idaho as a wine destination?

I’ve never had wine from Idaho. Have suggestions for me?

Would you pay someone to put your favorite wine in a box?

The last time I had boxed wine was sophomore year in college when I was on the editing board of a literary magazine. We were holed up in our senior editor’s apartment eating cheap cheese and crackers and sipping Franzia from Solo cups critiquing poetry.

That was seven years ago.

But now I’m talking about boxed wine again because a few months ago, Sean Matula of Houston was talking to me over Twitter and email about Bottle2Box, his fledgling project to put wine you’d usually buy in a bottle into a box to preserve the flavors.

Sean in his Indiegogo campaign video.

Sean in his Indiegogo campaign video.

Sean started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $150,000 to build a machine that would extract your favorite wine from a bottle and put it into a box. Sean told me that he is no wine expert, but he loves to drink wine and he noticed that when he would uncork a bottle he had to either finish it or cork it and deal with the degradation.
At the same time, he saw his friends consuming more premium wine in boxes from companies such as Bota Box. Then it hit him: what if people could get any wine they like in a box?
Screen shot 2014-01-18 at 12.28.05 PM

Sean was only able to raise about $2,600 during the one-month campaign. Although he can’t build his machine, Sean’s idea got me thinking: who’s drinking boxed wine, why would producers put their wine in a plastic bladder and what are the pros and cons?

With consumers increasingly willing to try new things–think wine in a can and wine in paper bottles–it’s not surprising that sales of 3-liter boxed wine jumped 10.7% in 2012, according to Wine Spectator.

But a main impediment to any boxed wine product is the stigma of boxed wine, the idea that it’s not a good product, said Michael Kaiser, director of communications at WineAmerica, a national association of American wineries. Not all boxed wines are lower quality, but a produced that chooses to box their wine tends to do so if they have a wine that is not as good as their other wines, but they still want to sell it, Michael said, so they will put it in a box rather than a bottle.

The upside, though, is that the wine preserves better–getting to Sean’s point–in a box. It can lasts weeks or months after being opened. Boxed wine will not age like a bottle of wine though.

And while the culture of wine is shifting: more people like me are drinking wine in their slippers rather than saving it for fancy occasions, the same community of new wine drinkers that have welcomed screw caps are still several steps away from doing the same with boxed wine.

“I don’t see us ever getting to a point where a bottle isn’t the main way a wine is presented,” Michael said. 

As for Sean, he plans to build a prototype of his patent-pending technology and keep on trucking with his startup idea.

What are your thoughts on Sean’s idea? Would you pay for someone to put your favorite bottled wine into a box?

Top produced wines: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon

Although they’ve been in the top 10 for more than two decades, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot had been bringing up the rear back in 1990. But now, they’ve catapulted to first and second place when it comes to top produced wines.

Other wines such as Syrah made even bigger jumps, with that varietal running up the ladder from 35th to 6th, according to a December study from the Wine Economics Research Centre at the University of Adelaide.

The top 10 of 2010

Cabernet Sauvignon
Garnacha Tinta
Sauvignon Blanc
Trebbiano Toscano
Pinot Noir

 The top 10 of 1990

Garnacha Tinta
Trebbiano Toscano
Cabernet Sauvignon

So what happened? Why did some wines move up the chain, and others such as Bobal and Sultaniye fall off the chart, and I’d say out of public knowledge, at least in the U.S.?

Well, according to the study a few things to note:

1. Six of the most common wine grape varieties back in the 1990s fell off the popular scale, especially Airen and Sultaniye, which were considered low quality wines. At the same time, the popularity of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay beamed as “regions sought to improve the quality of their wine grapes.” I might note also that I went to several weddings last year and this trio was the only wine offered at all of them.

2. Wine areas in country’s across the globe started to grow more of just their top variety.

3. Between 2000 and 2010, French varieties–such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon– dominated New World and Old World Vineyards, increasing from 53% to 67% and  20% to 27%, respectively in those regions.

Not surprisingly, most vineyards are in Spain France and Italy. The “big three” accounted for more than half of the world’s wine grape vineyard area in 2010, according to the study. The United States and Argentina are fourth, but they each account for less than 5%.

Read the whole study here.

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.


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.


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.


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!




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: 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.


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.



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 😉

Bicycle wine rack? Yes, please. #Christmas

I have a lot of friends who bike, and yes I still live in Los Angeles. Many of those peddling amigos also like wine.

In comes the bicycle wine rack!


Courtesy of oopsmark/Etsy.com

It’s an ingenious invention from Etsy creator oopsmark, who focuses on tools for urban living. The olive-oil treated leather rack fits a 1-inch bike frame, but there’s an adjustable one if you’re looking to outfit a bigger frame. The handmade item is about $28 on Etsy and ships from Montreal. It’s sure to make you or your giftee the talk of the next Wolfpack Hustle or CicLAvia after-party.