Panilonco Merlot-Malbec Reserva 2011

Peck_PaniloncoMerlotMalbec2011An inexpensive red from the Colchagua Valley of Chile.

Winemaker:  Panilonco (by Viñedos Errazuriz Ovalle S.A.)
Wine:  Chief of Lions Merlot-Malbec Reserva
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Colchagua Valley, Chile D.O.
Price:  $4.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This budget-friendly offering was a deep red in the glass.  It is a medium-bodied mix of 60% Merlot and 40% Malbec.  It had a soft, round bouquet of dark fruit, with hints of earth, oak and anise.  On the tongue I found plum, blackberry, a bit of clay, and benzine.  As the wine breathed, the plum flavor lifted a tad to more of a currant while the rest remained consistent.  Tannins are moderate and provide a grassy finish.  Alcohol is 13%, and acidity seemed OK.  Some, no doubt, will be put off by the benzine.  I found nothing to complain about.  I think it will do just fine as a table wine paired with meat dishes.

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

Kenwood Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Winemaking in Sonoma County California actually predates Napa County by a few years.  In fact, Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma County is the oldest in the State, having been founded in 1857.  Kenwood isn’t quite that old, but it has a long history of it’s own.  Founded in 1970, Kenwood Vineyards is located on the site of the former Pagani Brothers Winery originally established in 1906.  According to Kenwood, in 1970 the Pagani Brothers Winery was refurbished and modernized by “wine enthusiasts from the San Francisco Bay area.”  Kenwood Vineyards makes a full line of varietal wines, including Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Winemaker:  Kenwood Vineyards
Varietal:  Sauvignon Blanc
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Sonoma County
Price:  $17.49*

Notes:  This is a Sauvignon Blanc very much in what I think of as the “old world” mien.  In other words the flavors are subtle, restrained and balanced.  On the nose I encountered scents of citrus and apricot nectar.  In the glass it is a very pale yellow with a slight tinge of green.  On the palate I tasted lemon, peach and honey with hints of pear and kiwi, a light dusting of green bell pepper, and a nice zip of grass on the finish.  Acidity is good, and alcohol is at 13.5%.  A fine Sauvignon Blanc for sipping, I would imagine you could easily pair it successfully with plenty of foods – including grilled fish, a cheese course, or a light meat dish – pork or chicken.  I might also say salad could work, but in my experience I have found that the dressing used can make or break a wine pairing.

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

* also available at Whole Foods at $11.99

2007 Frankland Estate “Olmo’s Reward”. Frankland River Region, WA. 14%

I read this great post over at Perth Wine Enthusiast and wanted to share it. This sounds like an amazing red blend – one that I’d be more than willing to splurge on (beyond my normal “cheap wine” budget). It isn’t extremely expensive, though. By the way — WA is Western Australia.

Perth Wine Enthusiast

Frankland Estate “Olmo’s Reward” 2

A blend of 46% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc and 9% Malbec

A good mid to full bodied wine.

Juicy plums, tempered with dark chocolates and hazelnuts. Some rose petal perfume. Strong mint with chinotto and tobacco influences in the background.

A real bitter sweet finish, which will lend itself nicely to food.

With air, the choc & mints really comes out and fruits appear riper and are more evident.

All in all, a good wine. Say 93 Points.

Tasted 11th April 2013

Purchased 2 years ago from Dan Murphy’s for $36

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Hans Lang Edition Maximilian Pinot Noir 2009

inotNoir2009A German red at Trader Joe’s!  In fact, when I picked this one up, I also saw a Dornfelder from Joseph Händler there, too.  I had tasted the 2012 Händler Riesling not too long ago, so I thought it would be better to try something from a different wine house now.  I’ll go back for the Dornfelder, to be sure.

Winemaker: Weinhaus Hans Lang
Wine: Edition Maximilian, Pinot Noir
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Vintage: 2009
Appellation: Rheingau, Germany
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s*

Notes:  Well, this was an interesting selection!  First, it had quite a pungent bouquet of strawberry with little hints of earth and spice.  In the glass it was a light ruby color.  On the palate is where it got interesting.  I might even say unusual for a Pinot Noir.  In this light German red I found a core of ripe strawberry with a cranberry accompaniment.  There was also a very present tartness that surrounded but didn’t completely obscure the other flavors.  On the mid-palate came the sweetness (alcohol is at 11.5%) along with some suggestions of spice.  As the wine approached it’s finish, the tart returned and was joined by the modest tannins which – while bringing a very pleasant fuzzy-tongue feeling – added just another touch of tart.  I was not sure if I liked this wine.  And remember: cranberry sauce is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner.

After tasting it, I certainly didn’t imagine the 2009 Edition Maximilian Pinot Noir was going to be a wine I’d like to just sip and savor.  Still, I thought it had it’s good points for a cheap table red.  And I suspected it might stand up to light spicy dishes.  So I took the whole grain pasta I was going to have for dinner, added a little more fire (red pepper flakes), and tried them together.  Indeed, the light sweetness of the wine moderated the pepper a bit while the pepper reduced the tart quotient of the wine considerably.  So, for me, I could drink this wine to accompany a light and spicy pasta or pizza, but I wouldn’t serve it to guests whose tolerance for tartness I don’t know well.  Because if you don’t like tart flavors, you will definitely not like this wine.

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

* Initially, I mistakenly posted a price of $4.99.  But somehow it just didn’t seem right.  So upon rechecking my receipts, I have updated this post to reflect the correct price.

Trader Joe’s Viñas Chilenas Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2012

OK!  Back to business – tasting primarily inexpensive wines.  This Chilean Sauvignon Blanc from Trader Joe’s is definitely a budget-friendly selection.  In fact, I almost didn’t grab it because of my last experience with a $3.99 bottle of wine.  Happily, this TJ private label was worth investigating.

Winemaker:  VSPT, Vitacura for Trader Joe’s
Wine:  Trader Joe’s Viñas Chilenas Sauvignong Blanc Reserva
Varietal:  Sauvignong Blanc
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Valle Central, Chile
Price:  $3.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  In the glass this wine is a pretty light yellow.  On the nose I found scents of citrus, pear and honeysuckle.  Flavors for me were a core of lemon throughout, hints of pear, and some zest at the finish.  I would almost add a bit of honey, except it wasn’t the taste of honey but the sweetness.  In fact, at times the flavors came together in a lemon drop sort of way (not as intense as the candy).  This is a light wine – light-bodied and light on the taste buds.  Alcohol is at 12%, and acidity is good.  Light though it is, I think it could stand up to a Sea Bass or Tilapia entree.

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

Wine IS Versatility In A Glass

What a pleasant and unexpected surprise to be nominated for another blogger award.  This time I have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award.

Cat On A Hot Marble Rack 1 – by labellestudio
copyright labellestudio

Many, many thanks to LabelleStudio for nominating me!  If you haven’t been by her nifty blog, click through right HERE and see what wonderfully eclectic items she has given us from her lovely corner of Bavaria.

Who Me?

According to THE RULES, the nominee is supposed to share 7 personal things about themselves.  Let’s see …

1.  As a kid I owned literally hundreds of comics.  Unfortunately, they were among the very few items my parents actually threw away when I went off to college.

2.  This year I have begun biking to work when I can.  It isn’t every day, but I suppose any day is better than none.

3.  I write songs.  None of them has been up for a Grammy, but I think they’re entertaining!

4.  I am a “Country Boy in the City Lights.”

5.  I speak conversational German.  As I don’t converse in German often, the potential duration of such a conversation grows shorter and shorter.

6.  I thought I hated bacon when I was young.  Came to find out that was only because my mother liked hers burnt!

7.  My idea of the perfect vacation is somewhere warm with great weather – away from the madding crowd but close enough to allow for an easy commute should I need a quick jolt of civilization.

Paying It Forward

Each Versatile Blogger Award nominee gets to nominate 15 other bloggers and their blogs for the award.  SO … here are my nominees.

The Winegetter
Perth Wine Enthusiast

Urban Food Crawl
The Wine Raconteur
The Drunken Cyclist
The Wine Serf
Savory Encyclopedia
Duff’s Wines
The Wine Baron
Vino & Vintage
Restaurant Uprising
Twelve Dollar Taste Buds
Wine Chics
A Pilgrim In Time
Red Wine Lovers

Each of the nominees listed above is also a click-through link.  Please click and visit these great sites!!

Kenwood Sonoma County Merlot 2010

More from California but in a very interesting Merlot from Kenwood Vineyards.

Winemaker:  Kenwood Vineyards
Varietal:  Merlot
Vintage:  2010
Appellation:  Sonoma County, California
Price:  $17.49

Notes:  This Merlot was very dark garnet in the glass.  The bouquet presented whiffs of red berries and moist loam.  It is medium-bodied and gently velvet on the tongue.  Flavors for me were a core of ripe strawberry and black cherry, clay, some spice notes, a little leather, a bit of ash, and clove.  Modest-to-moderate tannins brought menthol to the finish which also had some lingering hints of pine.   Alcohol is at 13.5%.  I thoroughly enjoyed this selection.

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

Hayman and Hill Meritage 2009

I believe that part of the “art” of good wine-making is finding the right balance which will create an interesting yet enjoyable experience for those who drink the resulting brew.  There are so many variables, I’m glad I’m not tasked with the job!   As a wine enthusiast, I liken it in my own mind to the balance necessary in making a song fun to listen to.  Of course, you have to start with good material.  But what instruments are chosen to bring it to life and how much of each instrument is highlighted in the final mix can make a big difference in the way a song is perceived.

Take, for instance, the difference between these two versions of the same pop tune —

Now don’t get excited about full-blown studio production versus at-home solo efforts.  I know, already!  Here’s the deal: I can appreciate both, but I definitely have a preference.  I believe it’s similar with wines – most especially blended wines. Although, admittedly, the winemaker has somewhat less control than the studio engineer. Which brings me to this Meritage.

Winemaker: Hayman & Hill
Wine: Meritage
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2009
Appellation: Monterey County, California
Price: $12.99

Photo credit corkbin.comNotes: This red is a blend of 48% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Malbec, 5% Petite Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc. It was a dark burgundy in the glass. On the nose I got a lot of musty earthiness with some dark berry and mocha notes. On the palate I found some very dark berry (black currant), plenty of woodiness, heaps of barnyard, and some little hints of mocha here and there. Light tannins brought a bit of eucalyptus to the finish. With oxidation, the wood receded some to the benefit of a tad more dark berry. But the barnyard and woodiness remained by-in-large the primary takeaway from my experience with this wine. Alcohol is at 13.5%.

It reminded me of another wine I tried several years ago. I had the opportunity to go on a private tour of a boutique California winery. (Colleagues of mine arranged it. I’ve got no juice. lol) Anyway, our group of work colleagues were treated to a taste of a very young, not-ready-for-public-consumption Cabernet Franc. It was explained that they would use it in a few years to blend into the Cabernet Sauvignon, adding some complexity – especially to the bouquet. The scents and the flavors of that immature Cabernet Franc were crazy overwhelming. And THAT is how I felt about this Meritage from Hayman & Hill. You may disagree. That’s OK. Maybe I had a bad day on this one, but …

Adding fuel to my fire, I recently had another Meritage – the 2009 Mulderbosch Faithful Hound from South Africa. In this case the blend was 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 27% Merlot, 8% Petite Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 3% Malbec. Alcohol at 13.7%. Same grape varietals; different mix and grape sources; very different experiences. The Faithful Hound was settled with plenty of ripe fruit, vanilla and spice. It also had some earthiness, but it was more an underlying foundation over which sat the fruit and spices. Tannins were very mild, so the Mulderbosch is a definite “drink now” selection in my book.  The Hayman & Hill, on the other hand, I feel needs another year or two in the cellar to see if it will even out a bit. Tannins aren’t going to support long years in the bottle, I think. But for me, this is a “hold” selection.

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

J Lohr Riesling 2011

This time I went with a California Riesling.

Winemaker:  J Lohr
Wine:  Bay Mist White Riesling
Varietal:  Riesling
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Monterey County, California
Price:  $8.99

Notes:  Interestingly, this wine is a blend of 92% White Riesling, 6% Gewurztraminer and 2% Orange Muscat.  It was a pale yellow in the glass, and I got scents of apple and citrus in the bouquet.  On the palate the wine has a very light effervescence.  Flavors for me were primarily apple and lime with peach notes.  There was grass on the finish and some light hints of spice as well.  Alcohol is at 13.1% – dry by comparison with most Rieslings.  Acidity seemed fine but not as bright as with others I’ve had.  Overall, it’s a pleasant wine.

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

Vermouth – A Refreshing Summer Aperitif?

I saw this post over at Winegetter’s place, and it really caught my attention.  I’m already checking my local wine retailers to see who carries this vermouth.  Although I’ve never had vermouth aside from in a martini cocktail, Winegetter’s “way” sounds definitely worth exploring!

By the way, he has a number of other interesting posts at his place.  Click through to him by using the big bottle of Martini above and do some looking around.

the winegetter

In line with my summery post earlier this week (we popped our first rosé wine this year, see here), I figured I share another of my favorite summer drinks, a Martini Bianco. I am not referring to the mixed drink “Martini” but rather to the brand Martini, an Italian producer of Vermouth. It is short for Martini & Rossi and has an iconic label that many people recognize (featured on the bottle pictured above). I guess the posts say a lot about how glad I am that this long Midwestern winter is finally coming to a close…

Vermouth is a fortified wine that is flavored with various ingredients like roots, barks, spices and seeds. It was first commercialized in Northern Italy, Turin to be exact, in the 18th century, but its roots go way back. It was first used as a medical drink and later became a key ingredient…

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