Rex-Goliath Merlot

Originally posted 10/23/2010 at Blogarhythms.

Here is another non-vintage red from California by Rex-Goliath – their Merlot.

Vineyard:     Rex-Goliath
Varietal:       Merlot
Vintage:       NV
Appellation: California
Price:          $8.99

Notes:  Another nice medium-bodied non-vintage selection from HRM Rex-Goliath.  I found this wine packed full of cherry and raspberry flavor along with some hints of coffee near the finish.  It  has light tannins that give it some structure and will allow it to pair well with food.   At 13.5% alcohol, this is a dry wine that for many won’t taste like a very dry wine because of the fruit-forward flavors.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

La Granja 360 Tempranillo 2011

Well, this is my first report from my haul of inexpensive wines from Trader Joe’s the other day.  I’m starting with the least expensive selection I bought.

Winemaker:  Axial, La Granja 360
Wine:  Tempranillo
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Spain, Cariñena DO
Price:  $3.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  The nose on this Spanish Tempranillo has plenty of plum with floral notes.  When it hit my palate, however, I found it very thin.  It was a light-bodied red rather than the medium-bodied I’d anticipated given the varietal.  The plum aromas carry over into the flavors, but the fruit sits in the background not the foreground on this one.  There is a present tea flavor, lots of pepper, notes of rose petals, and the finish brings a hefty dose of bitters.  This is not going down on my list of favorite wines, I must say.  For folks who prefer less fruit flavor to their red wine, though, this might be a selection to consider – especially at this price.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Vendange Merlot

Originally posted 11/22/2010 at Blogarhythms.

This is not a label I tend to seek out.  I’ve had Vendange wines a few times before at fundraising receptions and the like.  My memories of the experiences have kept me from purchasing any myself.  But since I am discussing inexpensive wine here from time to time, it seemed only appropriate that I should take the plunge for the blog’s sake and report back.

Vineyard:     Vendange
Varietal:       Merlot
Vintage:       NV
Appellation: California
Price:          $10.99 per Magnum

Notes:  For me this was a very different kind of wine experience.  When I first opened the bottle, it was tight and watery and just plain unpleasant.  BUT … as it “breathed” and oxidized, the wine began to develop flavors that weren’t half bad.  Here’s what I found.

The flavors seemed to open the more air it got.  So, my first suggestion is to open the bottle well before you serve it.  At this price level, I’d even suggest pouring it into a carafe as soon as you pop the cork and well before anyone takes a sip.  As the wine opened there were flavors of dark plum with hints of cherry and leather notes.  With still more time to breathe, the leather dissipated and the fruit lightened a bit, settling into dark cherry with strawberry notes and vanilla.  Tannins are moderate in this non-vintage Merlot.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

The Other Cabernet For A Change

I mentioned in a recent post that I had gone to dinner at a restaurant that had an impressively long and well chosen wine list.  Well, this is another selection from that same amazing list.  I have to admit that I don’t keep track of all the latest hot spots.  Luckily, though, I have friends who do.  And that is how I found myself at The Dutch in SoHo which gave me this great opportunity for a wine experience.  The food at The Dutch was very good, too, by the way.  The atmosphere was warm and inviting.  And the service was outstanding.

Vineyard: Bebame
Varietal: Cabernet Franc
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: El Dorado County, California
Price: $20

Notes:  So often Cabernet Franc is added to a wine that is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (and labeled Cabernet Sauvignon) to settle and soften it a bit while adding some additional complexity, especially to the nose.  This wine, however, is 93% Cabernet Franc with 7% Gamay mixed in.  For me it had a nice core of blackberry fruit flavor, some hints of spice, and pepper on the finish.  Tannins are light and the wine as a whole is medium-to-light bodied.  It’s alcohol content is 12%.  Bebame means “drink me” in Spanish, and I did.  You should too!  I will be keeping my eye out for it at a store near me.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Barefoot Pinot Noir

This was originally posted 11/29/2010 at Blogarhythms.

Tried yet another Barefoot beverage – this time their NV Pinot Noir.  Speaking of NV … I’ve been wondering just how you can tell which bottling of their products you might be drinking.  You know what I mean?  If anyone knows for certain, please enlighten me.  The only date I could find on the label was a copyright date of 2008.  Wasn’t exactly sure what that pertained to, but I’m going to assume it was the label which has notes about this particular bottling, so ….  Maybe this was bottled in 2008?  Anyway, here are my notes.

Vineyard:     Barefoot
Varietal:       Pinot Noir
Vintage:       NV
Appellation: California
Price:          $6.95

Notes:     Better than I hoped as I have found inexpensive Pinots to be disappointing in the past.  This wine had a nice solid core of cherry and strawberry with vanilla and spice notes.  The finish lingers quite nicely, and I could swear I tasted cinnamon.  The tannins were a bit more present than in most Pinot Noirs, but I didn’t find them troubling.  In fact, I enjoyed them.  And I think they are precisely why the finish lingers so.   Overall, it was an enjoyable wine.  I’d buy it again in a heartbeat.  Is it a refined glass of Pinot Noir?  No.  But it’s tasty.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Forstreiter Gruener Veltliner

I went to dinner not too long ago at a restaurant that had a strikingly large wine list.  On it were quite a number of listings I hadn’t seen.  Among them was a Gruener Veltliner.  I understand that Gruener Veltliner is becoming the new hot white wine in some quarters – esp. among some of the nouveaux cuisine chefs.   Although I had fried chicken for dinner (very good fried chicken), I guess this restaurant is on the cutting edge – esp. in the wine department.  I must say that their wine list also contained some selections I recognized (like Heitz Cellars Martha’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon) which I certainly wish I could have afforded.  One day, perhaps.  In the meantime …

Vineyard: Forstreiter
Varietal: Gruener Veltiner (Kremser Kogl)
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: Austria, Kremstal DAC
Price: $12

Notes:   This wine hits the tongue with a lively effervescence and tart green apple flavor.  Add to that notes of lime, grass and mineral as it transits the palate, and you’ve got the essence of my experience with this wine.  I liked it.  I thought it was quite pleasant and would go well with light meats and pretty much any seafood.  I didn’t, in fact, drink this selection with the aforementioned fried chicken.  It was a fine accompaniment to my appetizer which was a small fried oyster sandwich.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Jacob’s Creek Riesling 2009

This was originally published on 12/13/2010 over at Blogarhythms.

I enjoy Rieslings – most often for their mix of tart flavors and residual sweetness.  Although this selection from Jacob’s Creek is dryer than most at 12% alcohol, it was still true to it’s kind.

Vineyard:     Jacob’s Creek
Varietal:       Riesling
Vintage:       2009
Appellation: Southeastern Australia
Price:          $6.95
Notes:     As I mentioned, I enjoy the juxtaposition of tart and sweet that a Riesling brings to the palate while usually remaining lighter and crisper than say a Gewürztraminer.  What was this one like?  It was quite pleasant and rather straightforward. To me the flavors showed a very present core of lime with some hints of grapefruit and grass.  I liked it.  At $4.99 on sale, I’d definitely drink it again!

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Monte Xanic Chardonnay 2007

Originally posted 3/20/2011 at Blogarhythms.

OK.  This is a slight departure from my normal discussion of extremely affordable wines, but I thought it might be interesting nonetheless.  I recently had the chance to drink a bottle of a nice Mexican wine.  Now, I don’t normally equate Mexico with wine production, so I wanted to share my tasting notes. 

Vineyard:  Monte Xanic
Varietal: Chardonnay
Vintage: 2007
Appellation: Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California Mexico
Price:  $15-22 (online)

Notes:  I had this wine at a restaurant and was quite surprised!  It has a nice bright citrus core with notes of oak, butter and artichoke.  Plenty of acidity to handle foods yet also more viscosity than the average Chardonnay.  For the price (it was more in the restaurant, of course), it won’t go on my “best buy” list.  Still, I thought it was a very interesting drink and worth investigating.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Livingston Cellars Chablis

Originally published 4/17/2011 at Blogarhythms.

Now, I DID say I’d be giving you my tasting notes on CHEAP wine.  So as not to disappoint, I am providing you with feedback on a cellar I have never heard of.  And at $9.99 for a Jeroboam at retail in my grocery store, you know it isn’t one of the Wine Spectator’s Spectator Selections.   And I didn’t pay $9.99 because it was on sale.  Still …

Vineyard:     Livingston Cellars
Varietal:       Chablis Blanc
Vintage:       NV
Appellation: California
Price:          $9.99 per Jeroboam

Notes:     I’ll make this brief.  For a wine that labels it’s Chablis as Chablis Blanc, I was pleasantly surprised.  Did it knock my socks off?  No.  But it presented a nice solid core of white peach flavor and plenty of acidity to stand up to food.  I’d buy it again for the price.  Yes, I would.  If you’re looking for a pleasant wine to drink at a summer get-together, this wouldn’t be a bad buy.  Especially if it’s outside and your attendees aren’t wine aficionados.  If they are, then you need to look elsewhere.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  I have taste buds, however, and know what I like.

Trader Joe’s Wine Trove

As usual, I am late to the party!  lol

Oh, I have heard folks talk about the inexpensive yet surprisingly tasty wines at Trader Joe’s.  But I haven’t been really close enough to one of their stores to make it a priority when there are plenty of other places to get wines close by.

With a Trader Joe’s going in fairly near me recently, however, I had run out of excuses.  So I did it.  I went wine shopping at Trader Joe’s.  OMG!  That’s a lot of wine in that there store!  Loads of selections under $15.  Plenty of bottles under $10.  And to my amazement there are quite a few wines under $5.   Yes, that’s right – under $5.

As Oeniphilogical (this blog) is focused primarily on wines that could be considered “budget-friendly,” I went for it.  I picked up 3 bottles all under $5.  Ha!  So over the next few days and weeks, I’ll be sharing my experiences with my Trader Joe’s booty.  I’m looking forward to this new adventure.  Who knows what treasure those bottles may hold?  If all goes well, I may even have to do this again … and again … and ….