I’m still trying to play catch-up on some tasting notes, so I’ll keep it simple and to the point.
Notes: This California Chardonnay was pale yellow in the glass. On the nose I smelled lemon, grass and lanolin. It was light-bodied with a definite coat-the-tongue quotient and high acidity. Alcohol was at 13.5%. On the palate I found citrus, sweet pear, spice, and a lanolin note. It had a long finish of citrus zest. Best with food, I think – chicken dishes.
More Carménère from Chile! This one had a lighter flavor profile than the others I’ve had. Well, the other two. Ha!
Winemaker: Castillero del Diablo (by Concha Y Toro)
Wine: Carménère Reserva
Notes: In the glass this wine was a pretty burgundy. In the bouquet I got scents of sweet red berries, mint and a touch of wet forest floor. It was medium-bodied with high acidity and alcohol at 13.5%. The tannins were gentle. Flavors I found included oak, dark cherry, a hint of pepper, and a shot of bitters. It had a long finish that lingers on a cherry note.
I’m beginning to really dig the Petite Sirahs I’m tasting that are coming out of California. Seriously. I had the Concannon Selected Vineyards Petite Sirah several months ago. I liked that one enough that I classified it as a “sipper.” That means I’d be willing to swig it without any accompanying food and just enjoy the wine for the wine’s sake. So when I saw what looked like their next level PS, I was more than happy to give it a try.
Wine: Conservancy Petite Sirah
Varietal: Petite Sirah
Appellation: Livermore Valley, California
Notes: Color on this Petite Sirah was a dark purple. On the nose I smelled vibrant berries, earth, a touch of mushroom along with a metallic mineral note. Acidity was high, tannins were medium, and alcohol was at 13.5%. I’d say the body was medium-light. Core flavors I found were blueberry, dark raspberry, some pepper, oak, a hint of cinnamon, ash and tea. I liked this one quite a bit. I took another bottle to a dinner party where a few of my friends absconded with it for their own enjoyment, leaving me to drink a Bordeaux someone else had contributed to the evening. I guess they enjoyed this Petite Sirah, too!
Hey! I had another new wine experience recently. I had a Bobal.
My first thought when I saw the label was, “What the heck is a Bobal?” I bought it, of course. How else was I to find out? Seems the Bobal grape is a red wine grape that is native to the Valencia area. It is also known by a host of other names, none of which I recognized. So I think it’s safe to say that this was, indeed, my first Bobal. Awesome!
Winemaker: Encuentro by Bodega Aranleón
Appellation: Valencia DDO, Spain
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: This Spaniard was medium-bodied and silky in the mouth. On the nose I caught scents of blueberry, blackberry, pepper, rubber and kerosine. Acidity was good, tannins were light, and alcohol was a 13.5%. Flavors I found included eucalyptus, blueberry, blackberry, rubber, leather and tobacco with a repeat of eucalyptus on the finish. I liked that it was more than just a simple, cheap red. It had some complexity on the palate as well as in the bouquet. According to my research, the varietal can produce wines with chewy tannins as well as the higher acidity and dark fruit flavors I found in this selection. I definitely would have enjoyed a bit more tannic backbone than was present in the Encuentro, but at $6.99 I don’t really think I have much to complain about.
For the folks who may be dropping by this blog for the first time, I’d like to reiterate that the mission here is to explore budget-friendly wines – aka inexpensive. That doesn’t mean all the selections I write about cost less than $5, less than $10, less than $15, etc. After all, everyone splurges from time to time. Nor does it mean that all the wines are bad – far from it. Not all cheap wines are bad, and not all expensive wines are good. There are times when you discover a wine in which there seems to be an inverse relationship between price and quality (or at least price and enjoyment). Thus, I’ve had expensive wine that I didn’t enjoy at all, and I’ve had inexpensive wine that I thought was quite nice. I’m always hoping to find the latter.
Winemaker: Frontera (by Concha Y Toro)
Appellation: Central Valley – Chile
Notes: The color was a pale yellow. It’s bouquet was quite perfumey, reminiscent of orange jello. Body was medium with a definite coat-the-tongue quotient. Acidity was fine, and alcohol was at 13%. Core flavors for me were orange, grass and citrus zest. I thought this wine was surprisingly decent considering it’s very low price. It was simple, but it was likeable.
At first blush, I thought I had found a winery from Virginia branching out to import some Argentinian Malbec like so many of the west coast houses seem to be doing. I’m not complaining, you understand. The more the merrier, I say. But then my muddled brain remembered that Norton is the name of the grape varietal that some Virginia winemakers are fermenting and bottling rather than the winery. Doh! Nonetheless, it was reason enough for me to give this bottle a closer look and put it in my shopping cart.
Winemaker: Bodega Norton
Appellation: Mendoza, Argentina
Price: $8.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: In the glass, the Norton was a deep red. On the nose I found earth, mushroom and berries. It was medium-bodied with racy acidity and medium tannins. Flavors for me were black raspberry, oak, zippy pepper, and a hint of meat over an underlying cherry. Toward the end, this wine presented a bitter note followed by a long cherry finish. Alcohol was at 14%. I liked it, simple as that.