Legado Cabernet Franc 2015

Legado means legacy in Spanish.  Hmmm.  I’m not sure I have a personal legacy at this point.  Although if I keep at this blog long enough …?  I guess for now I’ll have to borrow someone else’s, so to speak.

Oenophilogical_LegadoCabernetFranc2015Winemaker: Legado (by Villafañe y Guzman)
Varietal: Cabernet Franc
Vintage: 2015
Appellation: Mendoza, Argentina

Notes: This Argentinian Cab Franc was very dark in the glass with scents of turpentine, sweet berries, and floral notes in the bouquet.  Medium-bodied with good acidity, the Legado had light tannins.  Alcohol was at 14%.  On the tongue the core flavor was dark cherry.  In addition, I tasted licorice, a touch of rubber, herbal hints and wood.

Alamos Red Blend 2013

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.

Oenophilogical_AlamosRedBlend2013Winemaker: Alamos
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2013
Appellation: Mendoza, Argentina
Price: $9.99

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.

A New Experience on New Year’s Eve

Over the past decade my sweetie and I have created our own New Year’s tradition.  It developed first as a result of necessity, but it has become something we look forward to with excitement at the close/start of every year.

Our anniversary happens to land very near the end of December.  Several years ago work kept us both so busy and our schedules so crazy that the only evening we had to celebrate the anniversary was New Year’s Eve.  Not only that, but I actually had to work later that evening.  Yes, I had to work on New Year’s Eve, and I’m not in the restaurant business.  Go figure.  Anyway, we got a reservation for an early New Year’s seating at a restaurant neither one of us had been to before.  What we found was that the mood was extremely festive (decorations up, staff ready for a full night and lots of business), but we weren’t battling hordes of people and struggling to carry on a conversation over the din of a huge crowd.  We had a blast, and that was it.  We repeated it and repeated it ….  A new tradition was born!!

Now each year we find a new restaurant – one neither of us has been to – for New Year’s Eve.  We book an early seating, and we experience food and wine, etc. that we’ve never had.  It’s “something new” for New Year’s and an enjoyable commemoration of yet another year together.

This year we decided to go to Chima located in Tysons Corner.  Neither of us had been to a Brazilian Steakhouse before, so we were keen on seeing what was in store.  It was amazing!  A little pricey, to be sure, but it was a real experience.  You pay a set fee which includes an all-you-can eat salad bar as well as all-you-can eat meats which are brought to your table by the ubiquitous staff.  They give you a little circular “feed me/don’t feed me” card to tell the folks if you’re interested in meat at a given time.  And they do come zipping right over when they see you want meat.  They also did a nice job of finding out what we were most interested in having more of as the evening progressed.  We rolled out of there sated beyond belief.

Extras outside of the main dinner fee include any drinks beyond tap water as well as dessert.  They had a nifty electronic pad as their menu and plenty of wines on it to choose from.  I thought about ordering a bottle, but I wanted to try more than one selection on their list.  So I ordered my vino by the glass.

Alta Vista Malbec , Mendoza, Argentina, was a surprisingly fruity selection.  In accompaniment with the meat, it was a fairly well-behaved, glass of wine – nice with the pork and chicken but perhaps a little shy on structure when up against some of the red meats.

True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, California was a big, bold mouthful of currant and cherry flavor with medium tannins. I found it a nice match for my dinner.  Yes, I think I ate more red meat that night than I did during all the rest of 2015.  Ha!

We had a great time at Chima.  The food was excellent, the staff were friendly, efficient, and helpful.  What’s not to like?

Bodega Elena de Mendoza Red 2013

Wine from the slightly depressing drug store at the subway stop?  I’ve bought tubes of toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, etc. there as a convenience.  Saw the wines located near the sodas but never stopped to look – for years – until a couple of weeks ago.  Didn’t actually think I’d find anything I hadn’t seen at the wine shops and grocery stores in my neighborhood.  Largely that was true … until I spied this bottle of Argentinian red.

Winemaker:  Bodega Elena de Mendoza
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Mendoza, Argentina
Price:  $9.69

Notes:  The bouquet of this pretty dark ruby blend was fairly pungent with what I call barnyard and tangy berries.  Made with 64% Malbec, 20% Syrah and 16% Bonarda, it was medium-bodied with good acidity and light tannins.  Flavors I found included sweet currant and black raspberry, leather, a dash of pepper, an oak note and menthol.  Alcohol was at 13%.   I thought it was a fun wine – perhaps for a relaxing evening of chewing the fat with friends.

Bodega Norton Malbec 2014

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
Varietal:  Malbec
Vintage:  2014
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.

Beringer Malbec 2012

Here is yet another U.S. label with a South American import among their offerings.  Given that Argentina is “the place” for Malbec, it certainly makes sense that a winemaker would choose the Mendoza region as their source.  Based on the fine print on the back of the label, this particular Beringer Malbec may have been made by the folks at Bodegas Trapiche.  Don’t know for certain, though.

Winemaker:  Beringer
Varietal:  Malbec
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Mendoza, Argentina
Price:  $12.49

Notes:  The color was a dark garnet.  On the nose I detected scents of dark fruit, rubber and a medicinal/chemical note.  Acidity was fine in this medium-bodied Malbec.  Tannins were also in the medium range with alcohol at 13.5%.  Flavors?  Well, I tasted plum, sweet blackberry, muffin, tea leaf, and what I would describe as bark from a tree branch.  Weird?  Well, some have said that about me, but I won’t apologize for my descriptors here:  it’s what I tasted.  I thought it was a very interesting selection and fairly enjoyable to drink.  I could see this making a return to my table sometime during the holidays.

 

Alamos Chardonnay 2012

This is just a quick post about an Argentinian Chardonnay I recently had.  In the immortal words of the character Joe Friday (played by Jack Webb) from the radio and television show Dragnet, I’ll be sticking to “just the facts.”

Winemaker:  Alamos
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Mendoza, Argentina
Price:  $8.99

Notes:  The color of this South American white wine was a pale shade of Maize.  On the nose I found lemon, toasty oak, some pineapple, and a zing of paint thinner.  Acidity was good but on the lower end of what I think of as typical for the varietal.  Alcohol was at 13.5%, and it was a medium-bodied selection.  Flavors?  Well, I tasted citrus (mainly lemon, some grapefruit), butter, pineapple, and grass.  It had quite a long finish that held copious toasty oak along with hints of spice and butter. I enjoyed this selection.  It does have a fair amount of oak which gives me no pause but isn’t to everyone’s liking.  With the buttery undertones, maybe this would be a good accompaniment to a lobster dish or chicken with mushrooms.  

Turning Water Pitcher Into Wine Carafe

Not exactly a holiday miracle, I know.  In fact, it was a clear case of unpreparedness on my part.  Luckily, folks I hang with are more interested in function than form.  Or perhaps it would be more precise to say they care more about enjoying themselves than making a fuss over the details.  In this case, it was the lack of a wine carafe or wine decanter sufficient to the task.

You see, I had brought along a 1-liter bottle of vino for Xmas dinner that needed to be decanted before drinking.  Without bothering to ask, I made the assumption that our hosts would have one handy.  They had several, of course, but they were of the half-bottle size.  Knowing full well that this wine needed a good hour to breathe before consumption, I should have brought mine.   Luckily, there was a lovely crystal water pitcher that was just the right size to allow this enjoyable blend of 90% Bonarda and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon to get some air.

Oenophilogical_InnovacionBonardaCabernet2013By the way, I’m calling this wine a blend because the Zuccardi folks have made it very clear on the front of the label that this wine isn’t 100% Bonarda.  I don’t know the ins and outs of the Argentinian regulations regarding blends and single varietals, but I know this would be labeled simply as a Bonarda if it were coming from California.  Another vintner that practices sustainable farming, this Innovación from the Santa Julia Winery is also vegan friendly.

Winemaker:  Innovación by Familia Zuccardi
Wine:  Bonarda-Cabernet
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Mendoza, Argentina
Price:  $9.99 (1 liter) at Whole Foods

Notes:  The color of this Argentinian blend was deep purple.  In the bouquet I detected scents of oak, menthol, berries, and dusty topsoil.  I thought the acidity in this wine was fairly high (racy, I believe some call it).  Alcohol was at 13%.  Weight on the tongue was medium, but just.  Tannins were present and accounted for – medium, I’d say.  When first opened and poured (without oxidation), flavors I tasted were primarily salty black olives, black plum, tea leaf, tobacco, and a bit of menthol. It was really quite heavy on the salt and black olives.  With that hour to breathe, the wine settled nicely.  The olive and salinity flavors receded in favor of the plum while it also added some cherry and spice notes.  It was a nice addition to our feast – fine both to sip while finishing dinner prep and with our chicken piccata.

Lost Vineyards Shiraz-Cab

It looks as if this inexpensive Argentinian red blend is made by the folks at Trapiche and imported by Lost Vineyards.  It’s interesting that the appellation they give is just Argentina.  Of course, that is a bit more concrete than some wines I’ve seen that say they are “American.”  That always makes me want to ask, “North American, South American or all of the above?”  But getting back to the wine at hand, the label clearly indicates that it is a mixture of 60% Shiraz and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Winemaker:  Lost Vineyards
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Argentina
Price:  $4.99

Notes:  This wine showed a deep ruby color in the glass.  On the nose I found dark cherry along with hints of spices and herbs.  It was a light-bodied red with moderate tannins.  Alcohol is at 12.5%.  On the palate this blend brought me sweet dark cherry, pepper, clove, oak, and anise.  Sounds good, right?  But here’s the catch: it wasn’t a well-balanced glass of wine.  The oak and the tannins were the major players on the tongue and relegated the other flavors to the background.  Except for the sweetness!  The residual sugar had a tendency to come on a little strong.  The result was a strange back-and-forth on the palate between astringent wood and sweet.  Again, the other flavors were there but fighting a losing battle for my tastebuds’ attention.  Maybe I should have had a hunk of spiced meat with this Shiraz-Cabernet Sauvignon, and all would have been well.  Unfortunately, I didn’t.

Important: I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.

Rex-Goliath Moscato (c. 2013)

It seems to me that Moscato/Muscat wines have recently enjoyed a surge in popularity in the United States.  I’m not claiming this is an absolute fact based on market data.  This is an anecdotal observation based on what I have seen in my local stores.  Even so, the fact that Rex-Goliath has recently added Moscato to their line-up – this one imported from Argentina – may lend some credence to my opinion.  Since it was new to me and new to the market at large, I thought I’d give it a try.

Winemaker:  Rex-Goliath
Varietal:  Moscato
Wine:  Moscato Argentina
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Argentina
Price:  $8.99

Notes:  This is not a shy, restrained Moscato by any means.  Perhaps the only thing light about this wine is it’s color, which is a pale chartreuse in the glass.  On the nose I smelled lavish scents of honey and peach with floral notes.  Acidity was moderately high, lending the wine a very light effervescence when it hit the tongue.  It was a medium-bodied white with plenty of viscosity.  Flavors I perceived included an intense core of sweet dried apricot, some star fruit, floral notes, white pepper, and grass.  The dried apricot revisits on the long finish.  I was surprised to see that alcohol is at 11.5% because it definitely comes across as a sweet wine.  For me this wine would be too sweet and substantive for an apéritif.  I’d serve this as a dessert wine with fresh berries or perhaps a lightly sweet nutty cookie – hazelnut or almond.  This Moscato is a little ham-fisted, but that’s OK.  Sometimes you want subtlety and complexity.  Other times you just want a flavorful beverage to cap off a hearty meal.  This wine fits in the latter category.

Important:  I am not a professional sommelier or wine connoisseur.  See “About” for the full disclaimer.