The wine amateur

Here are some tasting notes from my friend labellestudio. It’s her first wine post! Will have to see if I can find this selection in my area. I hope so.


A few days ago I told a fellow blogger and wine expert Oenophilogical that I intended to write a wine review as a fun addition to this site. I am afraid this is not going to help my reputation as a serious person but why this serious all the time anyway? Let¬īs give it a try and move somewhat out of our comfort zone for once. ūüôā

Heuchelberg Weing√§rtner 2011 Trollinger Ros√© ~ Fruchtig s√ľss ~ W√ľrttemberg

My husband discovered this wine a few months ago and bought it in a small beverage market. Three weeks ago he retaliated and bought another bottle‚Ķ Ros√©s are often labelled as ‚Äúwomen¬īs wines‚ÄĚ in Germany, especially when they are on the rather sweeter side like this one but both my husband and I enjoyed it very much.

The color was a pale golden pink and the scent reminded me of wood, plaster, peppermint…

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J.L. Quinson Ros√© 2014

Provence is known for their Ros√©.¬† Finding a wallet-friendly offering from Provence, it was a foregone conclusion that I would buy a bottle.¬† Wouldn’t you?

Winemaker:  J.L. Quinson
Wine:  Rosé
Vintage:  2014
Appellation:¬† C√ītes de Provence AOC, France
Price:¬† $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:   This blush wine was an interesting shade of pink.  It had a tinge of orange to it.  It was light-bodied with good acidity.  The bouquet was very faint with just-there scents of strawberry and pepper. Alcohol was at 12.5%.  Flavors I found were simple but pleasant, including strawberry, grass, and a touch of pepper.  Nothing surprising here in a very good way.  This is a Rosé I would be happy to drink again.


Albero Spanish Ros√© 2014

A few months ago I mentioned that I had tried a varietal wine made of 100% Bobal grapes.¬† I liked it, so my blog friend whirlaway let me know when they saw this Ros√© made from Bobal mentioned in a Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer.¬† Thank you, whirlaway, for giving me a heads up!¬† I definitely wanted to see what this one was like.

Winemaker:  Albero
Wine:  Spanish Rosé
Varietal:  Bobal
Vintage:  2014
Appellation:  Utiel-Requena DOP, Spain
Price:¬† $5.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:¬†¬† In the glass this wine was fairly dark for a ros√©.¬† It was pink, yes, but a dark pink.¬† It was light-bodied, and acidity was OK.¬† On the palate this Albero seemed dryer than it’s 12.5% alcohol content would suggest.¬† Tannins were light with a late onset.¬† Flavors for me included tart cherry, spice notes and a bitter woody finish.¬† It was interesting to try a blush wine made from Bobal grapes.¬† I think, however, that I want to try some more Bobal red selections.¬† This Ros√© was not my personal favorite.

Click on the picture to read the article online.


25 More Inexpensive Wines From Trader Joe’s

Some time ago I posted my first list of inexpensive wines that I’d tried which are sold at Trader Joe’s.¬† Now, over a year later, I have managed to taste another twenty-five budget-friendly offerings from the TJ shelves.¬† As in that first post, I am going to briefly reflect back over the wines by choosing my top five.¬† My personal “ratings” aside, there are plenty of enjoyable selections among the other 20 – also listed below. Among the top five I’ve chosen in this group are three TJ labeled wines, three reds, one ros√©, and one white.¬† The three TJ wines are from California, one red is an Italian import and the white is from Portugal.¬† Here they are along with short tasting notes.

1.¬† Trader Joe‚Äôs Reserve Syrah 2012 — What put this at the top for me was it’s interesting, even challenging, flavor profile.¬† I tasted a lot of seedy/brambly woodiness, leather, some spice, an underlying foundation of dark fruits (blackberry and black currant), and a bitter note on the finish.¬† There was something fun around every corner.

2.¬† Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve¬†Mourv√®dre 2011 — 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, cherry, plenty of pepper and oak.¬† It was it’s bouquet, however, that brought this selection to number two for me.¬† It had a big, ebullient bouquet of barnyard, plum, young blueberries and violets.

3.¬† Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Ros√© 2013 — At 13.7% alcohol, I‚Äôd call this a dry ros√©.¬† Tannins were gently present.¬† On the palate I tasted a core of red berries (primarily strawberry) with tea leaf, a dash of pepper, some bitter herbs, and a zingy medicinal note on the finish.

4.¬† Espiral Vinho Verde¬† — As is the norm for these wines, it was frothy on the pour.¬† The wine was light-bodied, and the bubbles had surprising staying power.¬† This light Portuguese white had a pleasant flavor profile with a core of peach, citrus and grass accented by almond and floral notes.¬† I think it would make a nice aperitif for a summer dinner party or maybe an inexpensive celebratory toast.

5.¬† Epicuro Vendemmia Salice Salentino 2011 — Get past the rather unexpected bouquet and you have a satisfyingly interesting glass of wine.¬† 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.

The other wines from this group of TJ tastings are listed below ‚Äď in no particular order.¬† Feel free to click on the links to read my full tasting notes on any of the selections.¬† Please remember, I’m a wine enthusiast, and these notes represent my own experiences and opinions.

Sara Bee Moscato
La Caumette L’Authentique Red
Sainte-Croix La Bergerie Syrah-Merlot 2011
Charles Shaw Pinot Grigio 2012
Villa Alena Moscato d’Asti 2012
Révélation Cabernet-Merlot 2011
Penfolds Shiraz-Cabernet 2011
Vola Sangiovese 2012
Martellozzo Prosecco
Tuella Douro Vinho Tinto 2011
Coppola Rosso 2012
Raymond Hill Chardonnay
Rex-Goliath Pinot Noir NV
Grifone Sangiovese 2012
Sphere Zinfandel 2012
Smoking Loon Pinot Noir 2012
Marqués de Cáceres Verdejo Rueda
Williamsburg Two Shilling Red 2013
Picton Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Pontificis Pays d’Oc Red Blend 2012

Happy Holidays!  And Happy Sipping!

A Ros√© By Any Other Vintner ….

I believe I’ve mentioned this before.¬† I love a good mystery.¬† And that is exactly what I found in this bottle of Trader Joe’s ros√©.¬† Actually, the mystery isn’t so much what’s in the bottle – although I don’t know that precisely either.¬† What intrigues me most is the question of who made this bottle of dry blush wine for the folks at Trader Joe’s to sell.¬† And the folks at TJ ain’t talkin’!

OK.¬† What do we know?¬† First, the label says it was vinted and bottled by JBA Cellars of Rutherford, CA.¬† Next, according to a report in the TJ rag Fearless Flyer, this wine “comes to us from a very famous Napa Valley winery ‚Äď they make super wines that tend to be quite expensive.”¬† Following that clue, I was reminded that there are a number of well-known wineries headquartered in Rutherford – BV, Rutherford Hill, Frog’s Leap, Caymus, Inglenook, and Cakebread, among others.¬† That narrows the field, but not nearly enough. ¬† Then I noted that Rutherford Hill Winery is one of a few that makes a ros√©.¬† In addition, the owners are the Terlato family – father Anthony with sons Bill and John.¬† Hmmm.¬† Anthony, Bill and John.¬† John, Bill and Anthony.¬† JBA!¬† JBA Cellars?¬† We might have a winner here.¬† I don’t know, of course.¬† It’s only a guess at best.

Winemaker:¬† JBA Cellars for Trader Joe’s
Wine:¬† Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Ros√©
Varietal:  Not Available
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Napa Valley, CA
Price:¬† $6.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:¬† The color of this Napa Valley blush teeters right on the edge of dark pink and light red.¬† On the nose I found mostly strawberry and a touch of loam with sweet floral hints.¬† Acidity was bright and the body was light.¬† At 13.7% alcohol, I’d call this a dry ros√©.¬† Tannins were gently present.¬† On the palate I tasted a core of red berries (primarily strawberry) with tea leaf, a dash of pepper, some bitter herbs, and a zingy medicinal note on the finish.

By the way, I saw an online review of a prior vintage of the Rutherford Hill rosé.  Evidently, their 2009 was blended from Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Zinfandel grapes.  Is that true of this bottle as well?  I have no idea whatsoever.  If you know, do tell!

Wine Tasting In The NC Piedmont

Not long ago I was traveling through North Carolina.  Having stopped in at Iron Gate Vineyards a little over a year ago (where I had my first Chambourcin), I knew that the Piedmont region of NC is dotted with wineries.  Taking a look at my route and the online listings of wineries in the State, I found that Childress Vineyards was a short detour and open during my trip.  Yup.  No brainer!  Clearly, I was going to have to drop by to see what they are up to.

The facility at Childress is an attractive, impressive, full-service enterprise akin to many of the popular wineries in California – including a tasting bar, a gift shop, and a restaurant.¬† When I arrived I made straight for the tasting room/bar¬† where I learned that I had options.¬† I could taste one selection free – a Sauvignon Blanc that particular day; I could take advantage of a “Cellar Select Tasting” of 8 predominantly off-dry wines for $12; or I could go with their “Barrel Select Tasting” of 8 Barrel Select, Reserve or Signature wines for $15.¬† Well, in for a penny, in for a pound.¬† I went with the third option.

The eight wines they were pouring on my visit included a Reserve Chardonnay, a Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Reserve Cabernet Franc, a red blend called Pinnacle, their Signature Merlot, and a dessert wine called Starbound.¬† Below are my impressions in brief.¬† Please understand these aren’t complete tasting notes, just quickly scribbled thoughts.

1.  Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Рplenty of lemon and grapefruit with a silky mouthfeel.

2.  Pinnacle Рa non-vintage blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec Рthis was their 5th release of this wine (c. 2013).  I found it earthy with lots of buoyant fruit flavors.  13% alcohol.

3.¬† Merlot 2009 – with almost a brownish tinge to it’s color, this Merlot struck me as smokey and peppery.¬† 13.4% alcohol.

4.  Cabernet Franc 2010 Рcopious berry flavors and nice medium tannins with a noticeable grip.

5.  Reserve Chardonnay 2010 Рa bigger style Chardonnay with plentiful citrus flavor as well.

6.  Reserve Cabernet Franc 2010 Рmade from estate-grown grapes.  14.2% alcohol.  tannins are lighter than in the previous Cabernet Franc selection, and flavors were subtler with a little less focus on fruit.

7.  Signature Merlot 2009 Рanother nicely smokey Merlot but with a more complex flavor profile.

8.  Starbound Рa non-vintage blueberry dessert wine in the port style.  this was the last selection tasted.  thought it was very blueberry and very sweet.  for me, could probably make an interesting drizzle over ice cream or pound cake.

The staffer who poured for me was very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.  I had a very good time sampling their wares and discussing the Childress wines with her.  She was even kind enough to include a bonus taste of their 2010 Reserve Petit Verdot.  This was a first for me, tasting a varietal wine made from Petit Verdot.  I found it lightly earthy with nice blueberry fruit flavor and pepper as well as some green herbals on the finish.

Having finished tasting all this vino, the question came as to what I might want to carry home with me.¬† Oh my!¬† Decisions, decisions!¬† But then I noticed they had a Sangiovese among their full list of selections.¬† They weren’t pouring it that day at the tasting bar, but it was available for purchase by the bottle.¬† Well, then, given my ongoing exploration of Sangiovese, you know what I drove away with.

Overall, this was a really enjoyable tasting experience.¬† It’s a nice facility in a pretty setting with helpful staff and plenty of wine selections to sample.¬† It’s just a tad off the beaten path, but not far.¬† What’s not to like?


There You Go Making Me Blush Again

I mean the summer weather, of course.¬† With the high humidity and high temperatures in my area – we’re talking nineties on both counts – I¬† have definitely been in the hunt for refreshing beverages to cool off with.¬† As far as wine goes, I’ve been buying plenty of light whites, but I’ve also been branching out into new territory.¬† Pink territory.¬† Not that I haven’t done pink before.¬† I used to have a pink tie, and I even had a pink polo shirt for awhile.¬†¬†¬† And, yes, I’ve had some blush wines previously.¬† But – until recently – I’d never had a Pink Moscato.¬† And until this bottle of inexpensive blush, I’d never had a White Merlot.

Winemaker:  Sutter Home
Wine:  White Merlot
Varietal:  Merlot
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  California
Price:  $8.49

Notes:¬†¬† I’d call the color of this wine a light rose.¬† In the bouquet I detected scents of berries and biscuits.¬† It was a light-to-medium-bodied wine with some viscosity and decent acidity.¬† The tannins were quite light, and alcohol was at 11.5%.¬† Flavors I caught were sweet cherries, grass, some pepper, and biscuits.¬† The last lingering into the finish.¬† It was different that what I had been expecting.¬† Somehow I thought it would be another dessert wine.¬† It is sweet, but not heavily so.¬† Honestly, I don’t know what this might be best with/as/for.¬† Again, this was my first flirtation with a White Merlot.¬† If White Merlot is one of your preferred selections, maybe you can help me think that through.¬† How do you serve it?