Rosemount Merlot 2012

Although it may seem like I’m on an Australian kick, it isn’t on purpose.  I’ve just run into some good deals lately on wines from down under.  This time I ran across a sale on Rosemount Estate.  I’ve been acquainted with Rosemount Estate wines for some years now, having first tried their Shiraz because it was receiving high praise from many of the critics.  And I have to say that I did enjoy the bottles of Rosemount Shiraz I had.  Rather than trying to revisit old memories this time, though, I decided to branch out and see how they handle Merlot.

Winemaker:  Rosemount Estate
Varietal: Merlot
Vintage:  2012
Appellation: South Eastern Australia
Price: $10.70

Notes:  The color of this Aussie was a deep, dark red.  It held scents of berries, earth and camphor in the bouquet.  Acidity leaned toward the high side.  The body was light as were the tannins, and alcohol was at 13.5%.  On the tongue there was a core of cherry at the outset which brightened with oxidation to a young blueberry flavor.  In addition, I tasted cedar, hints of herbals and a racy hot pepper on the finish.  Not a tremendously complex wine, but just fine.  Perhaps just about the right value at the sale price I paid of $6.99.

Penfolds Shiraz Cabernet 2011

A little serendipity can go a long way.  Just the other day I was on my way to the gym … Yes, I sometimes exercise more than my drinking arm.  lol  Anyway, I was walking past Trader Joe’s on my way to the gym, so I decided to just drop in even though I didn’t need anything.  Just a spur of the moment kind of thing.  Of course, I went to the wine section to browse where I came upon a display of this Penfolds selection.  Intrigued, I picked up a bottle and stood there mulling over the fact that I was looking at a Penfolds wine for $3.99 and thinking, “What gives?”  That’s when a helpful staffer walked past and told me that he had tried it when it first came in.  The next day, he bought a case.  With that for a recommendation, I nabbed one.  Before you ask, I did go to the gym afterward – with my purchase tucked away in my backpack.

Oenophilogical_PenfoldsShirazCabWS2011Winemaker:  Penfolds
Wine: Winemaker’s Selection Shiraz Cabernet
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage:  2011
Appellation: South Eastern Australia
Price: $3.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This Aussie blend is made up of 77% Shiraz and 23% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The color was a translucent (i.e. not cloudy) dark burgundy.  The nose held aromas of pepper, earth, cedar, and dark berries.  The body of this wine was medium with a nice, interesting roundness to it on the tongue.  Acidity was fairly high but not what I’d call “racy,” and alcohol was at 13.5%.  Tannins were medium – a definite presence yet not biting.  For flavors this very budget-friendly red brought me primarily pepper, black cherry, and oak.  As it wound down, the finish had more pepper, some boysenberry and a tart green flavor I couldn’t quite nail down (lemon grass is close but just not quite right).  Overall I’d say this is a great value.  I’m not sure why this is priced at $3.99, but that won’t stop me from going back to get more.  I hope they have plenty in stock.  Planning an informal party soon?  Run on out and snap up some of this.  Sure, it’s relatively straightforward as red wines go, but it’s completely drinkable and head and shoulders above most of the wines I’ve had at this price point.  I’ll have to thank that helpful TJ staff person, too.

Concannon Petite Sirah 2012

Ever since my Xmas Eve experience with a Petite Sirah (Parducci Petite Sirah 2010), I’ve been keeping my eye peeled for that varietal in the wine retailers I frequent.  I have to say there aren’t that many.  Even so, I recently ran across this inexpensive offering from Concannon and grabbed a bottle.  Better yet, it was on sale at $6.64.

Winemaker:  Concannon
Wine: Selected Vineyards Petite Sirah
Varietal: Petite Sirah
Vintage:  2012
Appellation: California
Price: $9.49

Notes:  Color on this Petite Sirah was a dark ruby.  On the nose I smelled pepper, dark raspberry, earth and menthol.  Acidity was good, tannins were medium, and alcohol was at 13.5%.  The wine had a bit of weight on the palate, so I’d say the body was medium-light.  Core flavors I found were currant, green herbs, pepper, and oak while the finish was moderately lengthy with pepper, herbs and dark raspberry.   I was quite happy with this purchase.  What would I pair it with?  Well, for me this is one for sipping all by it’s lonesome.  Of course, it has the structure and flavor profile to stand up to a meal.  In case you’re interested, this was purchased at my local Safeway.  If it sounds good to you, maybe it’ll be on sale at your area Safeway, too!

Oenophilogical (the blog) Turns One

Please celebrate with me!

I can hardly believe it, but the stats don’t lie.  It was one year ago exactly when the first post went up on this blog, oenophilogical.  Whether you want to call it a birthday or an anniversary makes no difference to me.  I’m just psyched to have made it here.

I’ve had such a great time sharing my journey through the wines of my life.  As my chosen focus is inexpensive vino, the experiences haven’t always been amazing.  Yet I hope they have at least been interesting on some level – and perhaps entertaining from time to time.

One of the nicest discoveries over the past year has been my introduction to the great community of bloggers.  And not just bloggers: wine bloggers.  I didn’t realize there were so many folks out there who share the same fixation I do.  And they’re E-VE-RY-where!!  Honestly, there have been way more visitors here than I expected, and they have come from all over (97 countries and counting).  How awesome is that?

For this celebratory post, I thought maybe I’d reminisce just a tad over my past year in wine.  Then I thought, “Who has time for that?!”  So I’ll just say a hearty “THANKS” to everyone who has made this such a great year in wine blogging.  Here’s to the next one!

photo by Fir0002

Cardinal Zin 2012

With so many wine choices out there, it’s clear that the vintners are working hard to catch the consumer’s eye.  Of course, it’s most important that what goes in the bottle is of good quality.  But trying to tip the balance in their favor has the winemakers getting pretty creative.  This Zinfandel from Big House Wine, for instance, has a very catchy name as well as a great graphic on the label.  In fact, the graphic reminds me of the artwork I’ve seen in popular cartoons.  Yes, I confess.  I’ve been known to channel surf over to Adult Swim from time to time.  Please don’t judge me too harshly for it!

Winemaker:  Big House Wine
Wine: Cardinal Zin, Beastly Old Vines
Vintage: 2012
Varietal:  Zinfandel
Appellation:  California
Price: $9.98

Notes:  In the glass, this Zinfandel was garnet in color with what I’d describe as an unexpected bouquet of country ham, pepper, ash, and forest berry.  The body was light.  Acidity was good.  Tannins were medium.  Alcohol was at 13.5%.  Flavors I detected were red currant, rose petal, pepper, a hint of sarsaparilla, and green herbs (together reminiscent of an herbal cough drop).  Despite how interesting the aroma and flavor profiles were, I was disappointed in this Big House offering.  It was quite a light-bodied wine – especially considering the varietal.  Add to that the expectations that “Beastly Old Vines” raise, and this selection did’t make good on the promise for me.  It was pleasant enough, and the price was easy on the wallet.  In fact, I grabbed it on sale at $6.99.  Bottom line: I would drink it again, but not to satisfy my “Yen for Zin.”

Tarima Organic Monastrell 2011

Another wine post about Devotion?  But of course!  We are all answering the call set out by our fellow wine blogger SAHMmelier for the monthly wine writing challenge (MWWC).  She won the gold medal last time with her entry for the Mystery-themed challenge, so now she has the honor of choosing this month’s theme!  You can read all the posts – and those from previous challenges – over at the MWWC blog by clicking on the awesome wine stain logo.  So what is my take on Devotion?

Well, first let me say that I have been well reminded what devotion means and what it can do as I watch the Olympic athletes compete.  In sport after sport, the backstory pieces about the competitor’s lives are constant reminders and shining examples of devotion.  Take, for example, the Russian pairs figure skater Maxim Trankov.  In order to train, he left his family home at 15 and had to sleep in the basement of an ice skating rink among a bunch of soldiers who were billeted there.  In addition, he received one (evidently only one) free meal a day there.  For three years!  Mr. Trankov is now the proud owner (with his partner Tatiana Volosozhar) of an Olympic gold medal.  But he is not the only athlete with this kind of story.  I’m sure we would hear many similar and perhaps even more compelling stories from other athletes competing – most of whom will not end up with a ribbon around their neck.

As I’ve been watching these Winter Games from my comfy couch, I’ve been devoting myself to a little wine exploration.  One of my recent 2014 Winter Olympics wines was the Tarima Organic Monastrell 2011 which has it’s own story of devotion to tell.  Or perhaps, more precisely, it’s label is devoted to a particular message.  Take a quick look at the picture of the bottle  Did you notice?  This wine was made with certified organic grapes.  In case you missed it on the front, it is repeated on the back label — FIVE times.  I kid you not!  In their defense, Bodegas Volver does produce a Tarima Monastrell that isn’t made with organic grapes.

Winemaker:  Tarima by Bodegas Volver
Wine:  Tarima Made With Organic Grapes
Varietal: Monastrell
Vintage: 2011
Appellation:  Alicante DO, Spain
Price:  $9.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  This Spanish Monastrell (aka Mourvèdre) was a deep dark garnet color.  The bouquet held musty earth, dark red fruit, wet leather and mothball scents.  Body on this selection was fairly light with a softly plush mouthfeel.  Tannins were moderately grippy and lingering.  Acidity was good and alcohol was at 14.5%.  On the palate I tasted violets, dark plum, and black olive with a finish of bitter wood.  And that despite the fact that it was evidently fermented in stainless steel.

Now that I’ve finished getting this post up, I’ll get back to watching athletes devoted to their sports and (at an acceptable hour) my own wine exploration.  I suppose if I were more devoted —  to either/both — I could have typed this up while sitting on the couch in front of the TV and sipping wine.  Sigh!

Addendum:  As I tasted this bottle, I wondered about the possibility of cork taint.  The bouquet was fairly unusual, to be sure.  So I decided to look around and see what others have said about this selection.  Unfortunately, I didn’t find much on this vintage of the organic Monastrell besides at the Bodegas Volver web page.  The flavor profile I tasted is certainly on the darker side than what is described by the winery.  Of course, I often don’t agree with precisely what a winery says about it’s own wines.  That being said, they do mention “toasty barrel power” which agrees with my bitter wood even though they use only stainless steel.  So …  If anyone else has tasted this wine and can share their own thoughts, I’d be very interested to read your comments.

Flipflop Pinot Grigio 2013

I love a good catchy name for a winery or wine label – especially when it encapsulates the spirit of the winery and it’s wines.  Aimed at the budget shopper who still wants to have a little vino with a casual dinner, the Flipflop brand is just such a winery.   They’re so laid back and cool, they even have a peace sign on their label.  I would have donned my own flipflops while sipping this Pinot Grigio if it weren’t so darned cold outside.  Cool is great, but cold is … well, it’s cold.

Winemaker:  Flipflop
Varietal:  Pinot Grigio
Vintage: 2013
Appellation: California
Price: $ 7.12

Notes:  This Californian was truly a pale straw color in the glass.  On the nose I caught scents of sweet tropical fruits with hints of white pepper and a green leafy note.  Acidity was fine if perhaps a little on the low side.  The body was light with a very gentle viscosity, and the alcohol was at 12.5%.  On the palate, however, the flavors I found were mostly melon and citrus with some light warm spice notes.  The finish was fairly quick with a dose of chalk dust and grassy bitterness.  By the way, I got this one on sale for $4.98.

Whole Foods Pub And The Wine Rangers

Wine Rangers?  That would be my friend, Heather, and I.  A short while back we got together for an unofficial wine tasting at our local Whole Foods.  Besides the nifty samplings WF does regularly on the store floor, they have a small pub on site that serves a selection of beers and wines by the glass.  Of course, they’re serving selections you can purchase in the store!  So, Heather and I each tried 3 wines they had on the menu that evening for a total of 6 tasted.  They’re listed below.  Neither of us had been to the pub previously, despite the fact that it is right in our neighborhood.  We were both quite pleasantly surprised at the competitive prices of the selections available by the glass as well as the very friendly clientele who make it their regular haunt.

Winemaker: Excelsior
Varietal: Chardonnay
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: South Africa
Price: $8.99

Winemaker: Skouras
Wine: Anassa
Varietal: White Blend
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: Greece
Price: $13.99

Winemaker: Bodegas Belgrano
Varietal: Malbec
Vintage: NV
Apellation: Argentina
Price: $7.99

Winemaker:  La Cantina Pizzolato
Wine: Moscato Dolce
Varietal: Moscato
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: Veneto IGT, Italy
Price: $15.99

Winemaker: McManis
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Vintage: 2012
Appellation: California
Price: $13.99

Winemaker: Globerati (by BCC)
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: France
Price: $6.99

Notes:  In brief, here are the tasting notes we managed to record while enjoying ourselves thoroughly at this fun little in-store establishment.

Excelsior Chardonnay – It was a light-bodied Chardonnay with brisk, almost effervescent acidity, and 14% alcohol. On the tongue it presented as lightly sweet with core flavors of lemon, oak and grass. On the finish it brought some chalk and a zing of green apple.

Pizzolato Moscato Dolce – Dolce? Yes, indeed. We found this not surprisingly sweet – almost syrupy – with fruity flavor and low acidity.

Skouras Anassa – This Greek white blend was made of 70% Moscofilero and 30% Viognier. The body was light but had the slight coat-the-tongue quotient I associate with the Viognier. Alcohol was at 12.5% and acidity was fine. Flavors were fairly straightforward and pleasant pear, melon and grass.

McManis Pinot Noir – Very dark in the glass for a Pinot, this dry Californian (13.5% alcohol) was medium-bodied with plenty of tasty red berry flavors.

Belgrano Malbec – At 13% alcohol this medium-bodied Argentinian red had plenty of sweet plum, smoke and tea leaf on the tongue. Tannins were extremely light: notes said “gentle to none.”

Globerati Cabernet Sauvignon – Another medium-bodied red, this budget Cab was bottled for BCC at Chânes in the Saône-et-Loire department of Bourgogne.  At 12.5% alcohol this French selection had dark fruit flavors and oak with medium tannins.

Black Opal Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

What a great name for a winery from Australia – Black Opal.  It conjures so much with so few words.  Thus, attempting to follow their lead ….

Winemaker:  Black Opal
Varietal:  Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  South Eastern Australia
Price:  $8.99

Notes:   In the glass this Australian Cab was a deep garnet – leaning a bit toward the browner shade in the garnet spectrum.  The bouquet brought me pine cleaner, unctuous cherry, and earth.  Acidity was good, the body was medium, and I felt the tannins were on the heavier side of light.  Alcohol was at 13.5%.  On the tongue I tasted copious wood, baked cherry, bitters, sour dill and what I can only describe as a hint of biscuit.  Seriously, it was a flavor not dissimilar to the spoon drop biscuits my grandmother used to make.  As a result, the lingering finish was very reminiscent of cherry pie.  I swear I’m not making this up!  Although I would have preferred a bit more from the tannins since it is a Cabernet Sauvignon, I have to say I enjoyed drinking this inexpensive offering from Black Opal.  Is that because of my grandmother’s biscuits?  Well … maybe.  But I also happen to like cherry pie!

CK Mondavi Wildcreek Canyon Merlot 2011

On travel recently I ran across this inexpensive Merlot.  While I’m sure they have it in my area, I haven’t seen it in the stores I frequent.  Thus, I decided to give it a try.  I’m pleased to say that this time around I didn’t have to stay up late doing “homework!”

Winemaker: CK Mondavi
Wine: Wildcreek Canyon Merlot
Varietal: Merlot
Vintage: 2011
Appellation: California
Price: $8.99

Notes:  The color of this CK Mondavi selection was a nice ruby. On the bouquet I found berries, barnyard, earth and pepper.  Acidity was fine while the body of this red was quite light – a bit thin, in fact.  Although alcohol was at 13.6%, flavors centered around a core of sweet cherry and raspberry with a touch of wood when the moderate tannins kicked in.  Toward the end there were cough syrupy notes with a final zing of sour cherry on the coup de grâce.   If you prefer a straightforward, slightly sweetish, easy-to-sip red, this may be a good selection for you.