Vola Sangiovese 2012

Last time I was waiting to check out at my local Trader Joe’s, they had this Vola strategically positioned right at the end of the line immediately before the cash registers.  Given that I had sampled two other inexpensive Sangiovese wines in recent days, how could I pass this one up?  According to the label it was bottled in Italy and imported by D’Aquino.

Winemaker: Vola
Varietal: Sangiovese
Vintage: 2012
Appellation:  Puglia IGT, Italy
Price: $2.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes: The color of this budget Italian was a light ruby.  The bouquet brought scents of cherry, earth and mushroom.  Acidity was bright on this light-bodied Sangiovese, and tannins were medium.  Alcohol was at 12%.  On the palate I found wood, cherry, boysenberry and pepper.  Except for the definite sweetness, flavors were very weak in the midpalate.  At the finish the wood returns along with a medicinal note.  While this does present many of the attributes touted as typical for a Sangiovese, I think it’s not a good example of this varietal.  I didn’t hate the wine; price notwithstanding, I just didn’t like it all that well due largely to what I felt was a weak flavor profile.  At $2.99, though, maybe you’ll want to trust your own taste buds over mine and give it a try.

Globerati Sangiovese Rubicone 2012

The Globerati label indicates they are “Wines of the World.”  According to their website, Globerati “stalks the finest vineyards of the world, swooping in at the opportune moment to bring you the latest sensational wine.”  Their products listed include a Gascogne Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon from France, a Sauvignon Blanc from Chile, a Bonarda from Argentina and this Sangiovese from Italy.  Their parent company is Wine Exchange, Inc. out of Novato, CA.

Interestingly, this is the second inexpensive Sangiovese I’ve found at Whole Foods bottled by the folks at Casa Vinicola Botter. The first was the Gran Conti Sangiovese Rubicone 2012.  Looks like the Botter folks make quite a bit of Sangiovese!

Winemaker:  Globerati
Wine:  Sangiovese Rubicone
Varietal: Sangiovese
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Rubicone IGT, Italy
Price:  $6.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  Another Italian red that was a deep garnet color in the glass.  On the nose I caught aromas of earth, dark fruit, herbs and a hint of oak.  This was light-bodied with a noticeable but gentle viscosity.  Acidity was lively, and the tannins were in the medium range.  Alcohol was at 12%.  On the tongue this was a peppery Sangiovese with plenty of oak, black cherry, a hint of red licorice and notes of green herbs.  The finish was of roughly medium duration with more pepper, the herbs, and a haunting of red licorice.  It was yet another pleasant budget Sangiovese.  I think the peppery nature of this selection helps reduce the perception of sweetness on the palate – something I personally appreciated.  I can imagine this wine would be good accompanying a red sauce pasta, lasagna or maybe a pork chop.

Epicuro Salice Salentino 2011

Taking a chance on a new wine – not to mention a new grape varietal – can be a risky move.  It isn’t something you’d want to do, for instance, when hosting a dinner for your new boss. Under the right circumstances, though, it can be a very rewarding experience.  This time around I grabbed a red blend from Italy with two varietals I didn’t know.  The Epicuro Vendemmia Salice Salentino 2011 is made from 80% Negro Amaro and 20% Malvasia Negra.  For me, the adventure of a new wine experience is a reward in itself made even better when the wine is decent.

Winemaker: Epicuro
Wine: Vendemmia
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2011
Appellation:  Salice Salentino DOC, Italy
Price:  $5.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  The color of this Italian vino was a dark garnet. The bouquet was a surpising group of aromas – major notes of turpentine and tar with underlying dark berries and hints of green herbs. It was a medium-weight selection with a nice, light viscosity. Acidity was good. Tannins were medium with a quick onset or “grab” (others call it grip). Alcohol was at 13%. I have to admit that the bouquet had me worried a bit. I thought maybe I’d end up tasting mostly turpentine. Happily, that wasn’t the case at all. Flavors were primarily sweet dark cherry drops, dried green herbs, and pinches of salt. The tannins brought a bitter woody flavor after which the long finish echoed cherry drops and saline notes. Overall, it was an interesting glass of wine in the good sense of the word.

Oak Grove Petite Sirah Reserve 2011

I always appreciate it when somebody gives me a recommendation for a wine.  Even if it isn’t always my “cup of tea,” I can’t help but be grateful for another wine enthusiast’s impulse to share.

Those of you who drop in fairly regularly (he says hoping somebody DOES drop in regularly – lol) will know that I had a Petite Sirah over the holidays that I searched for – and found – in a Total Wine near my home town.  Because it’s a big store, I had to ask a very nice staff person for directions to the “Other Reds” section.  She not only took me to the wine I was looking for but said, “Have you had the Oak Grove?  If you haven’t, you should.”  So I did!

Winemaker: Oak Grove
Wine: Petite Sirah Reserve
Varietal: Petite Sirah
Vintage:  2011
Appellation: California
Price: $8.99 at Total Wine

Notes:  In the glass this Oak Grove selection was a very dark garnet   It was so dark that it was nearly opaque.  On the nose I got scents of dark fruit, oak, and lotion (I think lanolin is the appropriate term).  Acidity was fine but maybe just a tad on the low side.  Weight on the tongue was on the lighter side of medium as were the tannins.  Alcohol was at 13%.  Flavors were grounded by a core of black raspberry with light notes of oak and a sweet green herb – let’s call it stevia.  The finish was very long with lingering black raspberry and violets.  It was a fine glass of wine.  Unfortunately, the perception of sweetness took away a little from my personal enjoyment of it.  But that really isn’t too terrible.  It just means I get to keep sampling Petite Sirahs in my search!  Search for what?  Oh, perhaps a Petite Sirah I can call my favorite (until the next vintage is released, anyway).

Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Mourvèdre 2011

I gotta say, I don’t think I’ve ever had a single varietal Mourvèdre before.  I’ve had it any number of times as part of a red blend, but I can’t recall having tasted it seul, as it were.  That’s French for “alone.”  Sorry, I was just feeling the French for a second there.  Perhaps the wine gave me some Frenchspiration.  Oh!  I apologize.  I seem to be in a goofy mood.  Regathering my wits now ….

I realize that this grape is used in single varietals by several U.S. producers, including Cline, Bonny Doon, Tablas Creek, etc.  So it’s not like it would have been impossible to find one.  Until now I just wasn’t Mourvèdred to.  [Ugh!  That was really bad.  LOL]  Anyway, the good news for me was that Paso Robles is pretty much the hot spot in the U.S. for the production of good Mourvèdre wines.  Evidently, the climate and the soil are as good as anywhere for this particular varietal.  Knowing that certainly got my hopes up as I popped the cork on this typically budget-friendly TJ offering!

Winemaker: Trader Joe’s (bottled by Central Coast Wine Warehouse)
Wine: Petit Reserve Mourvèdre Paso Robles
Varietal: Mourvèdre
Vintage: 2011
Appellation:  Paso Robles, CA
Price:  $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  The wine was garnet-colored and had a big bouquet of barnyard (sous-bois?), plum, young blueberries and violets.  The body of this red from Paso Robles was quite light.  Acidity was nice and brisk, and the tannins were light on the palate.  I caught flavors of young blueberries (ripe but just, if you know what I mean), cherry, plenty of pepper and oak.  Alcohol was at 13%.  First, let me say that I really enjoyed the smell of this wine.  It was a pleasure to breathe in the fragrant earthy and fruity scents.  I won’t go so far as to say that I didn’t even need to drink it after having sniffed it’s heady aromas.  No, I definitely bought the bottle to be drunk.  So, as far as flavor was concerned, I would put this one solidly in the good category.  It wasn’t a revelation, but it was pretty darned enjoyable.

Gran Conti Sangiovese Rubicone 2012

As I have mentioned before, I am always interested in knowing who made the wine I’m drinking.  Sometimes it’s a fairly straightforward situation.  Other times it’s hard to suss out – labels notwithstanding – without a little help.  In this case the label only had an official vintner number to identify the winemaker.  That could mean the wine was made as a private label selection – perhaps for Whole Foods or maybe for the importer.  Doing a little poking around and connecting the dots, it looks to me as though this Gran Conti Sangiovese comes from the Italian vintner La Casada which also bottles/has bottled a Sangiovese Rubicone under it’s own label.  According to simplywinesdirect.com, “La Casada is a part of the Casa Vinicola Botter, established by Carlo Botter in 1928 in Fossalta di Piave, north-east of Venice.  …  The company is now run by Carlo Botter’s grandchildren, and has established a remarkable reputation for the quality of its wines.”  Interestingly, neither Gran Conti nor La Casada are listed on the Casa Vinicola Botter website among their products.

Winemaker: Gran Conti
Wine: Sangiovese Rubicone
Varietal: Sangiovese
Vintage: 2012
Appellation:  Rubicone IGT, Italy
Price: $9.99 at Whole Foods

Notes: The color of this Sangiovese was a nice ruby in the glass.  On the bouquet I smelled sweet berries and musty earth with hints of spice.  Characteristically light-bodied, this Gran Conti red was at 12% alcohol with good acidity.  Flavors for me were sweet currant and cherry at the fore, developing stewed plum as the wine breathed.  There were also notes of black tea and oak with a good dash of pepper near the finish.  Tannins made a very subtle showing.  Overall, although fairly sweet (right at the minimum alcohol content requirement for a Chianti Classico) and lacking some structure, I thought it was a pretty decent glass of Sangiovese.

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #6 (Mystery)–Time to Vote!

Wow! For this, it’s 6th iteration, the drunken cyclist has managed to encourage some 25 folks to write posts for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge. Fantastic!! If you haven’t yet, use the links provided and read the posts. Then take another minute and choose your top 3 using the poll form. You don’t have to be a wine blogger to vote! Kudos and many thanks to the drunken cyclist for all his hard work.

the drunken cyclist

MysteryWell, the time for submissions is now over, and I have to say I am thrilled with the number and quality of entries this time around! The previous “record” number of entries was 15 and this month we had 25 (a 67% increase). Now comes the hard part–choosing the top post. Here are links to all of the posts submitted (in order of submission), and they also can be found over at the “official” website of the challenge: www.mwwcblog.wordpress.com

Please let me know if your post is not listed–I Googled MWWC6 every night to make sure I was not missing any, so hopefully each post is below!

Wine Ramblings        An Edible Quest          Confessions of a Wine Geek

Michael’s Wine       Oenophilogical        renenutet13       Wayward Wine

foodwineclick        Julia Bailey        sweetempranillo        Duff’s Wine

My Custard…

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Fetzer Valley Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Clearly, I’m on a red trend of late.  Can’t help it.  It’s been chilly and snowy, and there’s nothing like a nice glass of red wine to warm my bones.  Well, if I had a fireplace, that might edge out the wine.  Of course, a nice glass of red wine in front of a roaring fire … now that would be awesome.  Alas, I don’t have a fireplace, so I’ll just have to make do with a glass or two of this.

Winemaker:  Fetzer
Wine:  Valley Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon
Varietal:  Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage:  2010
Appellation:  California
Price:  $7.99

Notes:  The color of this Fetzer Cab was a pretty dark ruby.  On the nose I caught whiffs of oak, soil, and dark currant.  Body was medium, acidity was good, and alcohol was at 13.5%.  Tannins were on the lighter side of medium.  Flavors I tasted included black currant, spearmint, and a slight hint of olive.  A nice cherry developed with some oxidation.  It also had a satisfyingly present tannic bite for a Cabernet Sauvignon in this price range.  Rightly or wrongly, I have personally never been a big Fetzer fan.  So I was pleasantly surprised.  Oh, it isn’t one of those big, bold, collectable Cabs that get 90+ scores from all the experts.  Nope, not even close.  For the money, though, it really was pretty decent.

Badger Mountain Pure Red 2012

Here is my third post from a trip I took awhile back.  In this case, I went to dinner at a local Italian eatery on my first night there.  I won’t name the restaurant because the dish I had was not very good.  In fact, it was bland.  I don’t mean to be negative, but bland Italian food?  That’s hard to do!  Disappointed with my dinner, I was hoping to enjoy the accompanying wine.  Not really being familiar with any of the offerings they had listed, I took a chance on a red blend from Washington.

Winemaker:  Badger Mountain
Wine:  Pure Red
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Columbia Valley, Washington
Price: $26 (3 liter box) at Total Wine

Notes:  As you can see from the label, Badger Mountain is a certified organic vineyard.  According to the winery’s website, this vintage of Pure Red is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon (73%) blended with Syrah (19%), Merlot (4%), and Cabernet Franc (4%).  In the glass this was another very dark red.  The bouquet brought me copious scents of ripe berries as well as pepper and a hint of oak.  The body was light, acidity was good, and alcohol was at 13.5%.  It was a pleasant glass of wine that played on the tongue a bit.  Core flavors for me were black raspberry and cola, cherry notes throughout with hints of green herbs on the finish.  There were no real tannins to speak of, and it did seem a bit week in the mid palate.  Otherwise, as I said, it was a pleasant red blend.  With this wine being 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, I’m surprised it didn’t have more tannic structure.  That being said, there isn’t anything wrong with having a gentle house red waiting to welcome you home at the end of a hard day.  At $6.50 per 750 ml, it’s definitely a budget-friendly wine.

Viña Borgia Garnacha 2012

Looking at the front label, one might assume this was another red blend table wine from the old word.  But looking closely at the small print on the back label, you find that this wine is made from 100% Garnacha grapes.  Imported to the U.S. by Jorge Ordoñez, it comes from Borja in “the heart of Aragon” which is known for it’s production of Garnacha wines.

Winemaker:  Viña Borgia by Bodegas Borsao
Varietal:  Garnacha
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Campo de Borja DDO, Spain
Price:  $6.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  I’ve noted a number of reviews from various sources mentioning “hot” flavors in wines.  I can’t say that I’ve really experienced that myself – until now.  This wine was very dark purple in the glass.  On the nose I detected dark cherry, pepper, and a hint of earth.  The body of this selection from Bodegas Borsao was quite light.  Tannins were moderate, and acidity was high.  Alcohol was at 14%.  On the tongue I caught flavors of dark cherry with notes of black raspberry followed quickly by the heat I mentioned.  No doubt attributable to it’s high acidity, the heat was similar to a mild jalapeño (the flesh, no seeds) without the actual flavor of said pepper.  At the close this Garnacha presented a nice dose of black pepper with a dash of bitters and notes of pomegranate pulp and seed.  The finish lingers.  As high as this is in acidity, it will easily cut through when paired with food.  I’d suggest something earthy and/or fatty.  Maybe a nice hearty whole grain pasta with cream sauce (not tomato sauce) or roast lamb.