Three Wishes Merlot

First, let me say that the Three Wishes selections provided a mystery from the outset.  Now, I love a mystery.  When I read books for personal entertainment, that’s the genre I gravitate toward.  The mystery in question here was, “Who makes the line of Three Wishes wines for Whole Foods?”  Queries on all the major internet search engines turned up nothing about the winery, until ….  I found that Three Wishes Vineyards shares the exact same address as Concannon Vineyards in Livermore, CA.  Ta da!

Winemaker:  Three Wishes Vineyards (by Concannon? for Whole Foods)
Varietal:  Merlot
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  America
Price:  $3.29 at Whole Foods

Notes:  Starting with the appellation “America,” I listed it that way because there is no indication of grape source other than the words “American Merlot” on the back label of this wine.  In the glass this inexpensive Merlot was a medium garnet color.  It definitely had that brownish tinge around the edges like a garnet has.  On the nose I got very faint scents of berries, pepper, and a musty earthiness.  On the palate it was pretty thin.  By that I mean that it was extremely light-bodied, and the flavors weren’t very intense.  After it breathed awhile, the flavors  I found were cherry with raspberry notes, some slight hints of pepper and spice, and a cream of tartar zip of … tartness.  At 12.5% alcohol there is a bit of sweetness there to offset the tartness, but it isn’t a sweet wine in the main.  There were no tannins to speak of, and acidity was good.  Overall, I didn’t think this was a great wine.  Of course, at $3.29 a bottle I wasn’t expecting it to be a blockbuster.  It isn’t a typical Merlot – it’s lighter and a bit more tart that most.  But it’s entirely drinkable.  Actually, I feel this wine is the perfect candidate for Sangria.  So grab several bottles!  Get some fruit, etc. and enjoy it at your next patio party.  If you don’t have a Sangria Recipe, the one at this link looks pretty great.

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

Wine Trivia Wednesday–6/5/2013

What a great idea!!  The Drunken Cyclist has been doing these Wine Trivia Wednesdays for awhile. I only recently started reading them and have found them entertaining and highly informational.  As I have made clear, I am a wine enthusiast not a sommelier; thus, I have plenty to learn. This week was the first time I decided to give the answers a go.  And, yes, I did do some web searching to find the answers.  What better way to learn?  Anyway, I’m enjoying this weekly quiz series.  I hope you do,too.  Check it out!

BTW, I didn’t read the other responses before I posted mine. lol

the drunken cyclist

It is Wednesday again and it is time for another installment of Wine Trivia Wednesday. Before we get to this week’s quiz, we need to get to the answers from last week:

  1. What are the two most common ways to prevent a wine going through malolactic fermentation? You can prevent malolactic fermentation through either the addition of SO2 (Sulfur Dioxide) or through cold stabilization. You can also introduce additives to kill the bacteria, but this is not as common as the first two.
  2. Other than the stylistic changes to the wine (e.g., flavor profile), what is the main advantage to having a wine go through malolactic fermentation? The answer I was looking for here: It serves to stabilize the wine–otherwise it still might happen in the bottle and then you will have a real mess on your hands. It also can help to make a wine more approachable (drinkable) sooner.

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365 Trackers Crossing Chardonnay 2012

Continuing my recent run of Australians, I picked up this Trackers Crossing Chardonnay at Whole Foods.  Always interested in understanding more about the wines I quaff, I looked up the name Trackers Crossing.  I found that there is, in fact, a Trackers Crossing Road in the area of St. George, Queensland, Australia.  Although this isn’t in very close proximity to the McLaren Vale area outside of Adelaide where Thomas Hardy started his wine-making back in 1853, it is still very much in the South Eastern area of the country.  A little deductive reasoning might suggest that the vineyards where the grapes for this wine were grown lie in the vicinity of Trackers Crossing Road.  That, of course, would only be a guess on my part.

Winemaker:   Thomas Hardy & Sons for Whole Foods
Wine: 365 Trackers Crossing Chardonnay
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2012
Appellation: South Eastern Australia
Price: $6.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  In the glass this Chardonnay was a light yellow (straw-colored).  In the bouquet I smelled lots of citrus, some pineapple and hints of spice.  It was what I would consider a medium-bodied white.  Flavors for me were honey, pineapple, a touch of guava, light citrus notes, generous oak, some hints of spice, and a bite of bitter melon on the finish.  As I mentioned, this wine gives good oak in the Australian style and may be too much for those who prefer a lighter touch.  I felt it took me right to the edge of my personal “oak limit,” but always stayed just a half step back.  And let me say of the bitterness at the finish – I found it lingered but didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the wine.  I understand that some believe bitter flavors can stimulate the appetite.    Whether or not that’s true, I do believe that particular flavor component in this wine will allow it to stand up well to foods.    Acidity was good, and alcohol is at 13.5%.   Not a bad drink at $6.99 a bottle!

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

Vintage Virginia 2013 – Where Vintners Battled At Bull Run

This past weekend I went out into the Northern Virginia countryside (not so country anymore, really) to taste what the Virginia wineries had to offer at Vintage Virginia 2013.  Held at the Bull Run Special Events Center in Centerville, VA, this year’s wine festival hosted some 40 wineries along with an assortment of food and goods vendors.

First, let me say that my experience was a little different than most.  Why?  Well (he said sheepishly), because I decided to bike to the event.  Ha!!  Never having been out to the venue before, I placed my trust in an online maps program to get me there safely via bicycle.  Unfortunately, the maps aren’t quite complete for bikers.  By that I mean I discovered on my trek out that the directions I had were missing large chunks of the route.  So what was slated to take me 1.5 hours in one direction took 3 as I wended my way through the streets of Northern Virginia looking for bicycle-friendly passages to get me to my destination.


Once I got there, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the event.  It was well-planned.  As this was the 32nd iteration, I suppose they’ve had the chance to work out all the kinks.  For those who drove, there was ample parking with parking attendants helping people get to and from their spots in an organized fashion.  Check-in was a snap, in part because I had purchased my ticket online and printed it at home.  But the will-call and ticket purchase booths didn’t have extensive lines either.  The wineries and vendors were located in tents, stalls and trucks (food trucks!) thoughtfully arranged across a hillside that overlooked a big stage where music acts entertained while festival-goers tasted, sampled, drank, ate, learned, and bought.  They even had an awesome service allowing those who were buying in bulk (too much to carry around or through the festival grounds) to pick up their wine in a tent right in the parking area.

Of course, I didn’t get a chance to taste all the wines or even wines from all the wineries.  Still, I did my best to get to as many as I could reasonably sample.  It was great to see that the festival attracted a mix of old and new wineries – big and small.  Prince Michel of Leon, VA was there along with Williamsburg Winery (sharing a very yummy pre-release Merlot) and Horton Vineyards, too.  New to me were First Colony Winery (with two nice Chardonnays and a refreshing white blend called Zephry), Oak Crest Vineyards (using Symphony grapes to good effect in almost a Gewürtztraminer style and whose unexpectedly fun selection called  Hot Jazz is fortified with jalapeno peppers), Rosemont Vineyards (with a red blend of note called Kilravock), Trump Winery (their Blanc de Blanc was by far the best sparkling wine I tasted that day) and Lake Anna Winery (whose Cab Franc and Claret were both enjoyable wines and whose staff I found to be among the most knowledgeable at the tasting tables).

Since I was there at Vintage Virginia under one humanpower and no horsepower, I wasn’t in a position to take advantage of the bulk buying service.  Instead, I had to content myself with carrying away a mild sunburn along with  just a couple of select bottles and the wine glass I was issued for my day of tasting.  The glass was included in my entrance fee.  I promise to share my thoughts on those two wines when I have the chance to pop the cork on each.

Again, I had a very good time at the festival.  Kudos to everyone involved in putting Vintage Virginia 2013 together, and a special thanks to my fellow wine enthusiasts who kindly gave me plenty of clearance as they zipped past me on the road out of Bull Run Park.  One last note: I got completely soaked in a summer rain shower on the way home.  Well, it was a MEMORABLE day!!

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

Yellow Tail Big Bold Red

This Australian red blend is a mystery from the folks at Yellow Tail.  I say that because there is nothing on the bottle, nothing on their website, and nothing I could find anywhere else on the web that indicates which grape varietals are used and at what percentage.  If you are privy to that information, please share!!  So … how was it?

Winemaker:  Yellow Tail by Casella Wines
Wine:  Big Bold Red
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Australia
Price:  $9.49

Notes:   In the glass it was a very dark garnet.  The bouquet brought lots of berries, spice and tobacco.  It was a medium-to-light-bodied wine and quite soft on the tongue.  Flavors for me were a core of cherry and currant, along with pepper, tobacco, olive and smoke.  With oxidation the cherry increased in presence on the palate.  Tannins were moderate and brought some menthol to the finish.  It seemed acidity was on the low side, and alcohol is at 13.5%.  Reading this description, you’d almost think there was a pack of cigarettes in the bottle, but it wasn’t like that!  Although I don’t feel it lives up to the claims made in the name (except the red part), I found it a very-easy-to-sip selection.

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

Jacobs Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

2010One of Australia’s most popular vintners, Jacob’s Creek Winery traces it’s roots back over 160 years to a young Bavarian immigrant who is credited with planting the first commercial vineyards in the Barossa Valley.  Today Jacob’s Creek Winery is owned by Orlando Wines which is, in turn, owned by a company called Premium Wine Brands which is owned by Pernod Ricard.  Pernod Ricard is a global conglomerate which has in it’s portfolio such well-known adult beverage brands as Absolut vodka, Seagrams gin, Jameson’s Irish whiskey, Perrier-Jouët Champagne, Kahlúa coffee liqueur, and Glenlivet scotch.   Oh my!  That’s quite a group of siblings!  So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Jacob’s Creek wines are exported to over 60 countries worldwide.

Winemaker:  Jacob’s Creek
Varietal:  Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage:  2010
Appellation:  South Eastern Australia
Price:  $9.49

Notes:   This Australian red was a dark ruby in the glass.   It had an interesting bouquet – cherry and vanilla with whiffs of dirty sock.  It was light-bodied to me, especially for a Cabernet Sauvignon.  On the tongue I tasted plenty of cherry, some plum, and a light sprinkling of pepper along with some tar and tobacco notes.  There wasn’t much in the way of tannins except a touch of eucalyptus near the finish.  Acidity is high, and alcohol is at 13.5%.

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