365 Paul Valmer Chardonnay 2011

Another offering from the Iberian Peninsula – this time a Spanish white.  By the name, of course, you can tell it’s one of the Whole Foods private label selections.  I actually purchased the Tres Ojos Garnacha on the same trip.  Although I didn’t plan on getting only Spanish wines, I guess I was in a Spanish frame of mind that day.

This wine was labeled as Vino de la Tierra de Castilla.  As I’m not especially well versed in wines from Spain, I did a little research to find out what that means.  Turns out that the Vino de la Tierra is a kind of geographic (and wine quality) classification that is one step below the well-known Denominación de Origen (DO).  Akin to the French “Vin de Pays,” the Vino de la Tierra designation represents a wine quality above simple “table wine.”

Winemaker:  Felix Solis for Whole Foods
Wine: 365 Paul Valmer White Wine
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2011
Appellation: Castilla, Spain
Price: $5.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  This Spanish white was a pale yellow in the glass.  For me the bouquet held primarily citrus.  On the palate this was a very, very light-bodied wine.  Sipping it, I found a somewhat sweet Chardonnay with flavors of citrus (lemon and grapefruit) and melon along with some toasty spice notes and bitter grass on the finish.  Acidity was good, and the label puts alcohol at 12.5%.  The problem here in my opinion is that it is so light.  When chilled, it comes across very tight with mostly the grass and a bit of citrus.  As it warmed to room temperature, the rest of the flavors were coaxed out.  So you might consider room temperature (or less chilled, anyway) as an option when serving it.  Even then, the flavors were pretty faint to me.   As a result, I’m not sure this wine would stand up well to much in the way of food.  Maybe a salad or some young cheese.

Self-Centered and Unapologetic – Flank Steak in a Blueberry Wine Reduction

The recipe in this post by The Flash Cook looks so amazingly tasty and incredibly simple at the same time that I wanted to share it.  Although Flash Cook mentions a glass of wine (not just in the dish but as accompaniment), the wine isn’t identified. That got me thinking.  What wine would I choose?  Hmmm ….  If I were to make this dish and pick from among the wines I’ve posted notes about on Oenophilogical since February, I guess I’d choose the Mirafiore Barbera D’Alba Superiore 2010 which runs at about $20 retail where available.  Or for a budget option, I thought perhaps the Panilonco Merlot-Malbec Reserva 2011 at $4.99 would do pretty well also.  What about you?  What would you pick from your cellar or store to accompany this dish?

The Flash Cook

Sometimes it is ok. No, scratch that. Sometimes it is right, perfect and justified to be absolutely and completely self-centered.  Tonight I am unapologetically all about me.  What daughter? What emails I haven’t answered? What responsibilities?  I owe nothing to no one and my sole purpose on this earth tonight is to do exactly as I wish.  All. about. me.

The evening started as I left work a little early to take a stroll in some unexpected late afternoon sun.  I walked to one of my favorite treat destinations – Magnolia’s Cupcakes. I used to stand in line with all the other suckers in NYC to get these little bundles of cake topped with chocolate sugary butter!  Now I just stroll right into their Chicago satellite and order myself a four-dollar cupcake. All. about. me.

Afterwards, I walked to my other favorite treat destination, my neighborhood spa and had…

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Tres Ojos Garnacha 2011

Peck_TresOjosGarnacha2011I grabbed this nice Spanish red just the other day from the “gettin’ place” as my parents used to say.  Glad I did.

Winemaker: Tres Ojos by Bodega San Gregorio
Varietal: Garnacha
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: Calatayud, Spain DDO
Price: $7.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  This wine is made from 100% Garnacha grapes.  In the glass it is very purple: deep, dark and rich to look at.    I caught a light bouquet of berries, with a hint of earthiness and bread.  On first opening it was almost effervescent on the tongue.  That leads me to believe the acidity is high, but definitely not too high in my opinion.  On the palate I found lots of dark raspberry and spice notes such as sweet cinnamon.  It brought to mind a berry muffin – more berry than muffin.   I also found pepper and a light hint of licorice.  Modest to moderate tannins bring a tad of eucalyptus to the lingering finish.  Alcohol is at 14.5%.  For me, it was a very pleasant wine.

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

Purple Moon Shiraz 2011

Peck_PurpleMoonShiraz2011One of Trader Joe’s private label wines in the Moon series.

Winemaker:  Purple Moon by Delicato Vineyards
Varietal:  Shiraz
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  California
Price:  $3.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  In the glass this wine is a deep purple-red.  On the nose I detected blackberry and wood.  On the palate this was quite a light-bodied Shiraz.  That being said, it didn’t lack in flavor.  On initial pour I found plenty of blackberry with currant, touches of cedar, some tea leaf, and a mineral note.  Tannins were moderate, adding menthol on the finish.  Acidity was fine, and alcohol at 13.5%.  With oxidation I found that the tannins softened considerably, leaving a fairly simple, fruity wine (losing currant, picking up plum – darker but softer).

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

You Better Shop Around

In my area, there are so many places to pick up a bottle of wine that the competition is fierce.  You can buy wine at the government liquor shops, independent liquor stores, wine retailers, grocery stores of all kinds (from large chains to tiny specialty food shops), and even drug stores.  Not surprisingly, many of the large producers are represented in almost all the stores.  And usually the stores are within a few cents of each other on those popular brands.  But … not always.

Over the weekend I was rather acutely reminded that each store does have it’s own pricing policies.  And the differences can really make a difference.  Here’s the situation I ran into.

You saw my recent post on the Kenwood Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc?  If not, you can catch it here.  Anyway, the list price at my local Safeway – yes, the Safeway has quite a large wine selection – was $17.49 for that bottle of white vino when I bought it.  On Sunday I found the same wine in Whole Foods less than a mile away from Safeway at a list price of $11.99.  Not a sale price – the regular, everyday price.  See what I mean?!?  Gas is expensive, but I can still save money driving from one store to the other on this deal.  And if I were having a dinner party and needed more than one bottle, it’s a no-brainer.

So, like Smokey Robinson & The Miracles have told us, “You better shop around!”