Trader Joe’s Grower’s Reserve Merlot 2014

I picked this Merlot up on a very recent visit to my neighborhood Trader Joe’s.  Sometimes …

Other times “whatcha see” is an illusion, and what lies in store can be either a horrible shock or a pleasant surprise.  Personally, I like pleasant surprises, and this wine turned out to be one of those.

Winemaker:  Trader Joe’s
Wine:  Grower’s Reserve Merlot
Varietal:  Merlot
Vintage:  2014
Appellation:  California
Price:  $4.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  A medium-bodied red with good acidity and medium-plus tannins, this inexpensive Merlot had a definite purplish hue which brought to mind big, juicy, ripe plums.  My eyes, however, deceived me.  What I found in the bouquet was a mix of cedar, earth and barnyard with sweet floral notes.  On the tongue it had an almost chalky texture with cola, blackberry, and tea leaf along with some sweet cherry that blossomed after oxidation.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a sweet wine: alcohol is at 13.2%.  Anyway, I liked it.  It’s cheap, and it’s competent – even interesting – as inexpensive wines go.  House red for me?  It’s a possibility.

Blood Red Wine

Oenophilogical_CuriousBeastsBloodRedWineWrapper2013As I said before, it’s never a bad idea to plan ahead for the holidays.  Many of us forget due to our excitement over the “majors”, though, that the spooky holiday comes first.  Let’s face it, I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I went to a party in costume. [OK, I won’t tell you.]  Why has it been so long?  No, it’s not because I’ve completely lost the fun in my life.  Mostly it’s due to a lack of advance prep work.

So, if you’re thinking of having a get-together (with or without costumes) on Halloween, I have another candidate for you to audition for the beverage table.  This one is also for a casual affair not for the wine aficionados.  And this wine, too, has a Halloween-appropriate label.  And name!   In fact, the wrapper that comes with each bottle is even more Halloweeny than the label.  If you serve it at Halloween, make sure your guests get to see and appreciate the wrapper art as well.

Oenophilogical_CuriousBeastsBloodRedWine2013Winemaker:  Curious Beasts (by Truett Hurst)
Wine:  Blood Red Wine
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  California
Price:  $13.00

Notes:  With a name like Blood Red Wine, this selection is appropriately dark ruby in the glass.  On the nose I caught scents of red berries, sous bois, and a hint of caramel.  At 14.7% alcohol, it had little to no tannins that I could detect.  Still, there was plenty of flavor in this light-bodied selection.  I tasted lots of cherry and blackberry with some raisin and caramel along with a touch of eucalyptus.  It was certainly pleasant enough to drink.  Since there’s not much in the way of structure, it is a drink now kind of wine.  I think it would be decent with a pasta dish or with Mexican cuisine.

The wine amateur

Here are some tasting notes from my friend labellestudio. It’s her first wine post! Will have to see if I can find this selection in my area. I hope so.

labellestudio

A few days ago I told a fellow blogger and wine expert Oenophilogical that I intended to write a wine review as a fun addition to this site. I am afraid this is not going to help my reputation as a serious person but why this serious all the time anyway? Let´s give it a try and move somewhat out of our comfort zone for once.🙂

Heuchelberg Weingärtner 2011 Trollinger Rosé ~ Fruchtig süss ~ Württemberg

My husband discovered this wine a few months ago and bought it in a small beverage market. Three weeks ago he retaliated and bought another bottle… Rosés are often labelled as “women´s wines” in Germany, especially when they are on the rather sweeter side like this one but both my husband and I enjoyed it very much.

The color was a pale golden pink and the scent reminded me of wood, plaster, peppermint…

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MWWC #27: The Final Phase

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It’s here!  Tomorrow (Monday, September 19) is the last day to get your votes in for Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #27.

If you haven’t read the entries, head on over to the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge blog where you will find all the entries as well as the instructions for the MWWC #27 voting process.

My entry into this month’s challenge is at Inside Out, Upside Down.  If you haven’t read it yet, please do so.  And then please cast your vote.  A vote for me would be nice.  LOL

Lindeman’s Shiraz 2015

With a name like Lindeman, I though for sure the founder of this winery would be from continental Europe – Germany, Holland, Switzerland, etc.  Not so!  Turns out Dr. Henry Lindeman was from jolly old England.  He did get his interest in winemaking from travels on the continent.  But then in the 1840s (at the age of 32, if my math is correct) he packed up and moved to Australia’s Hunter Valley where he planted grapes on a property he called Cawarra.  Interestingly enough, all did not go smoothly for him.  The winery tells us in their online history that Cawarra was burned by an arsonist in 1850.  Even so, Dr. Lindeman was determined in his love of wine and winemaking.  After the fire, he worked for three years as a doctor in nearby gold mines to save up enough money to restart and rebuild the vineyard.  Which he did!

Oenophilogical_LindemansShiraz2015Winemaker:  Lindeman’s
Wine:  Bin 50
Varietal:  Shiraz
Vintage:  2015
Appellation:  South Eastern Australia
Price:  $5.00

Notes:  The bouquet or nose on this Shiraz was unexpectedly faint with light scents of pine, berries and spice.  Contrary to it’s bouquet, the color was a deep, dark burgundy.  It had decent acidity and gentle tannins with a medium heft on the tongue.  Speaking of the tongue, flavors I found included dark fruit, pine, paint thinner, some tar and ash.  Although lacking structure, here is a cheap red that isn’t the quintessential fruit punch in a bottle.  It needs time to breathe.  So, go ahead and decant it 15 minutes to half an hour before you plan on serving it.  With oxidation, the ash, tar and especially paint thinner recede some, allowing the dark plum and currant to share the spotlight.  Not a fancy or subtle wine, this seems a good candidate to serve with a casual meat dish such as flank steak or even a burger.

Fontana Candida Frascati 2013

I love the name of this winery – a member of the Banfi family of brands – because it elicits in me personal memories/connections.

I have only had one other selection from this vintner – their Pinot Grigio delle Venezie.  At the time, I had just finished reading a biography of the modernist composer John Cage who wrote a piece called “Fontana Mix”, composed while he was living in a flat in Italy.

But the second part of their name – Candida – which can mean white, pale, naive or innocent – reminds me of the satire Candide written by Voltaire and the derivative operetta of the same name with music by Leonard Bernstein and libretto by Lillian Hellman.  What memories that word brings to the fore!!

You see, some years ago I had the honor of being a swing for a professional production of the operetta Candide here in my local town.  The production began elsewhere and then transferred to my town for a couple of months.  When they arrived, they had everyone in tow but their swings – understudies who learn and cover chorus and small roles (usually 5 or 6 roles at a time).  They called me to audition, I got the part, and then I had just over 2 weeks to learn music, lines, blocking (placement/movement on stage) and dance.  Holy cow!  Even more enjoyable was the fact that the dance captain who was supposed to be teaching the swings (2 male, one female) their movement and dance, didn’t actually know the dances. Oh, he knew HIS movement and dance.  But he didn’t know OUR movement and dance.  So we spent quite a bit of time watching him watch the archival recordings of the show in order to then be able to teach us.  Not surprisingly, we all felt a little behind when opening night came around.  Eventually I did get to go on for one of the roles, and it went well.  Whew!

Oenophilogical_FontanaCandidaFrascati2013Winemaker:  Fontana Candida
Varietal:  White Blend
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Frascati DOC, Italy
Price:  $11.41

Notes:  According to the Fontana Candida website, this Frascati is made from Malvasia Bianca Di Candia, Trebbiano Toscano, and Malvasia del Lazio grapes.  At 12.5% alcohol, it was light-bodied and brisk in it’s acidity.  Light yellow in the glass, it exhibited plenty of lemon and chrysanthemum in the bouquet.  On the tongue I tasted lemon, grass, some citrus zest near the close and a nutty note on the finish. I enjoyed it quite a bit (despite the memories it may have dredged up) and think this wine’s overarching citrus will make it a great companion for many fish and seafood dishes.

* The video trailer above is not from the production in which I participated.

Readin’, (Wine) ‘Ritin’, & ‘Rithmatic

mwwc-badge1Just a quick post to remind folks that voting for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #27 (#MWWC27) has commenced.  We have till Monday the 19th to get our votes in.

For those who may have missed it, my entry into this month’s challenge is at Inside Out, Upside Down.  If you haven’t read it yet, please do so.  And then PLEASE vote for ME.  The theme of this month’s challenge is bubbles.  I chose to write a piece (Chapter 1 of a story) focusing on a specific type of bubbles – speech bubbles. icon_bubble

To vote, click on over to the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge blog and following the instructions for the MWWC #27 voting process.

Thanks in advance.  Many happy writings and winings [yes, I know it isn’t a real word] to everyone!