Winemaker: Trader Joe’s
Wine: Coastal Syrah
Appellation: Central Coast, California
Price: $4.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: This TJ vino was dark red with tangy dark fruit, sous bois, and violets in the bouquet. Medium-bodied with a pleasant “round” mouthfeel, the Syrah had moderate tannins and 13.9% alcohol. Acidity was fine but perhaps a little on the low side. Flavors tended toward the dark with plum, moss, ash, and a touch of mint. Considering the price, I’d say it was not a bad bottle of wine. While I will not be serving this with any holiday feasts or dinner parties, even, it could serve as a very affordable “house” wine.
As you may have noted, I continue to dig into my archive of tasting notes. This Petite Sirah was drunk several months ago. I can only hope the new vintage is as enjoyable, because I think another Shannon Ridge PS might be part of my holiday shopping list this year.
Winemaker: Shannon Ridge
Varietal: Petite Sirah
Appellation: Lake County, California
Notes: Part of the Shannon Ridge “High Elevation Collection,” this wine was a very deep purple in the glass. It had a full bouquet of jammy blackberry, pine resin and dusty soil. Acidity was good and tannins were medium in this medium-bodied Petite Sirah. Alcohol was 13.9%. Flavors I found were berries atop darker fruit and woody tannins that lingered. In addition, it had a plush mouth feel. That’s the best word I can find to describe the sensation. I liked it pretty darned well. I had this as an accompaniment to a rib roast and it was quite a pleasant pairing.
I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago that my parents never threw anything away. While that may be an overstatement, it isn’t too far from the truth. Thus, they had a four bedroom house filled to the brim even in retirement. They weren’t hoarders, but they were definitely savers.
When my sister and I were cleaning out the house a few years back, I packed up a number of boxes of “stuff” that was somehow connected to me. There were photos, of course. But they had also managed to hold onto, among other things, all of my school report cards. All the way back to kindergarten! K-12. Ha! Imagine how surprised I was when I found included with my fifth grade records a certificate of distinction for my efforts in Spanish. What?! I would love to remember now even as much (little) as I knew back in fifth grade. Unfortunately, if the label on this Alamos red blend weren’t translated into English, I would have had to use “Google translate” to understand it.
Varietal: Red Blend
Appellation: Mendoza, Argentina
Notes: This blend of Malbec, Bonarda, and Tempranillo was dark garnet in the glass with red berries in the nose. Alcohol was at 13.9%, tannins were medium, and the flavor profile was primarily a very pleasant cherry.
According to Merriam Webster, a dark horse is a “little known competitor that makes an unexpectedly good showing.” Interesting how the idea of a dark horse has been inspiration for artists (and politicians) for … well, a long time.
Winemaker: Dark Horse
Notes: In the bouquet this Dark Horse presented jammy dark fruit, cedar, and damp loam. At 13.5% alcohol, it was medium-bodied with moderate tannins. Acidity was good as well. On the palate I found dark berries and plum with touches of cinnamon and molasses. Of course it wasn’t as sweet as molasses. I thought this Merlot might be good served with game fowl, but it was fine to sip alone.
I’ve only had one Mencía before. It was another selection I found at Whole Foods. I’m starting to get the idea that this varietal exhibits more of the non-fruit flavors and generously woody tannins. At least, that’s what I’ve noted in my two tastings. Of course, two bottles of wine cannot define an entire varietal. I guess that means I’ll have to keep trying more of these Spanish wines to gain fuller insight.
Winemaker: Alvarez de Toledo
Varietal: Mencía Roble
Appellation: Bierzo, Spain DO
Price: $10.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: This Mencía was dark red with a purplish tinge. The bouquet was led by a piquant scent of balsamic vinegar* underscored by earth and dark fruit. It was light-bodied with good acidity and medium tannins. Alcohol was 13.5%. The overarching flavor I detected came from the brambly tannins. In addition there were touches of dark fruit and tobacco with a kick of bitters near the end.
* More balsamic than vinegar, the scent did have an acidic zing. This was not, however, a vinegary wine in any way.
I was first introduced to the Cline family of wines by a friend. He had grown up not too far from the winery and was a true hometown fan. If I remember correctly, he insisted on sharing the Cline Conundrum white blend with me. I wasn’t recording tasting notes back then – just experiencing everything I could. Even so, it was evidently a good experience, because I continue to purchase and enjoy Cline wines.
Appellation: Lodi, California
Price: $8.50 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: In the bouquet I found boisterous berry, violets, cedar, and hints of spice. It was a dark, murky red with good acidity. Medium-bodied with medium tannins, this Cline Zin was at 14% alcohol. For me the flavors were dark cherry, piquant pepper, rubber, dried green herbs, and woody tannins. I enjoyed the flavor of this wine, but the bouquet was just as rewarding as the taste.
What to drink as accompaniment to a turkey burger at home? If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you may note that turkey burgers are pretty common in my home. They’re easy and quick to make and have less of the cholestrol-upping fats that doctors and dieticians keep telling us are bad for longevity. Not that I don’t splurge on a beef burger once in awhile.
On one particular evening, this Australian Pinot Noir won the toss to pair with a turkey burger. After all, if Pinot Noir goes so well with Thanksgiving turkey …. Of course, the right beverage may also depend on what condiments you plan on adding to the turkey burger. That night I wasn’t in an especially adventurous mood, so I wasn’t expecting any great disturbances in the flavor force on my palate.
Wine: Bin 99
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Appellation: South Eastern Australia
Notes: The Bin 99 was light-bodied with good acidity. I thought tannins were around medium while alcohol clocked in at 13.5%. Regarding flavors, I tasted strawberry, green bell pepper, and black pepper along with bitter brambles. Fairly simple but ok for the task at hand.
Here is another set of tasting notes from my archive which has heretofore not been posted on oenophilogical.com. I haven’t checked the Trader Joe’s shelves to see what vintage my local store is carrying right now. Even if it’s another year, this might give folks a sense of what has gone before.
Winemaker: Old Moon
Wine: Old Vine Zinfandel
Price: $5.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: In the bouquet I caught whiffs of cherry, spice, moss and pine tar. At 13.5% alcohol, this California Zin was a lovely ruby color in the glass. I found it to be medium-bodied with high acidity and medium tannins that were quick on the attack. The flavor profile I tasted included cherry, green herbs, a soupçon of pine tar, along with earth and leather notes. The finish brought toasty oak and leather. It wasn’t a particularly well integrated wine, but I felt it sufficient in structure and flavor to make it a bargain (not just cheap) at the price.
Balatonboglár, Hungary is a resort town located roughly 90 miles southwest of Budapest on Lake Balaton. Wikipedia says it’s also called the “town of grapes and wine” because it is the center of the Balatonboglár wine region which is one of six sub-sectors of the Balaton wine region around Lake Balaton. While the greater Balaton wine region is best known for it’s Riesling, it clearly produces other varietal wines such as this Merlot.
Notes: The color of the St. Donatus Merlot was quite dark. It was medium-bodied with good acidity and almost no tannins at all. Alcohol was at 12%. Flavors were simple – sweet plum with touches of spice. This wine was quite pleasant and easy to sip. I think it’s a prime candidate for mulled wine or sangria.
I may have said this before, but I’ll say it again. I would love to travel to Spain! Some day, I sincerely hope to make that wish a reality. In the meantime, I’ll have to make do with looking at photos online, reading blog posts by others who have managed the trek, and drinking Spanish wines when I get that urge. Clearly, I was overcome by that urge recently because for my second wine experience back, I chose this Spanish Rioja.
Winemaker: Javier San Pedro (Bodegas Vallobera)
Wine: Randez (Crianza)
Appellation: Rioja DDO
Price: $8.99 @ Trader Joe’s
Notes: With a bouquet of berries, cedar, and tobacco, this Spanish red was a dark ruby in the glass. On the palate, the weight was on the light side of medium with good acidity and fairly aggressive tannins. Alcohol came in at 13.5%. Flavors for me included cherry, red currant, and quite a lot of pepper with green herbal notes and woody tannins. It finished with a lingering note of bitters. I should have been drinking this with a beef dish given it’s structure, but it was pleasant enough on it’s own if you like a red with a little bite.