Castillero del Diablo Reserva Carménère‎ 2013

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
Varietal:  Carménère
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Chile
Price:  $13.99

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.

Frontera Chardonnay 2013

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)
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Central Valley – Chile
Price:  $4.97

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.

Marchigüe Carménère‎ 2012

When I grabbed this off the shelves, I’d only had one other single varietal wine made with Carménère grapes.  That was the Anakena Carménère‎ that I’d had while on travel over a year ago.  Clearly, then, it was high time to take the plunge once again.

Winemaker:  Marchigüe
Wine:  Carménère Reserva, Santa Ana Vineyard
Varietal:  Carménère
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Colchagua Valley, Chile DO
Price:  $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  In the glass this Chilean was a deep, dark red.  In the bouquet I detected scents of menthol, tea leaf, rubber, and cherry.  It was medium-bodied with good acidity and alcohol at 13.5%.  I thought the tannins were medium and fairly aggressive in their onset/grip.  Flavors I found included rubber, black cherry, pepper, menthol and ash with a dose of bitters.  All in all, I thought it was an OK wine but not at all balanced.  If you choose to grab a bottle, I would serve it with a beef or perhaps lamb dish that would stand up to the rubber, menthol and bitters in this wine’s flavor profile.

Anakena Carménère‎ 2012

Getting a chance to travel once in a blue moon allows me – among other things – the opportunity to check out wine retailers I don’t usually have access to.  This time around I had the chance to drop in at a Total Wine.  There are Total Wine locations in my home region, but none particularly close.  So when on a recent trip I found there was a Total Wine (on the same block as a BevMo!, no less) just up the street from my hotel, I clearly had to take a look.

It was an interesting experience.  I was expecting a typical big box store — lots of wine displayed in a fairly open space and  lots of light.  Not here.  This store did have loads of wine.  Oh my!  But there was such a large selection that they had crowded the store with very tall shelving (ladders needed to get to the top shelves) packed tightly together (one way only if you had a shopping cart).  It was like going into your neighborhood wine store that had been magically enlarged ten- or twenty-fold.

While I could have spent my whole trip exploring those shelves, wine tasting wasn’t the primary goal for my journey.  Eventually, then – because I was reduced to a gibbering idiot by the sheer magnitude of choices available – I asked a friendly staff person to recommend an inexpensive red that wasn’t your run-of-the-mill selection.  She was very quick to suggest this Carménère.

Winemaker:  Anakena
Varietal:  Carménère
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Valle Central, Chile DO
Price:  $7.99

Notes:  In the glass this Chilean red was a dark purple.  On the nose I found scents of dark berries and wood.  The body was light.  Tannins were modest (more than light but not what I would call medium).  Acidity was fairly high, and alcohol was at 13% .  Flavors for me were oak, plum and berries with a touch of eucalyptus on the quick finish.  I liked this Carménère but thought it might have been just a little heavy on the wood – at least in my book.  I will say that it may be better suited as an accompaniment to a meal than as a wine to sip and savor alone (which is what I did).  Perhaps pairing this Anakena with a casual meal – beef stew or sausage pasta – is the way to best enjoy it.  It’s always fun to try something new, and this time I doubled up … new store, new wine.

Gallo Moscato Chile (c. 2013)

Evidently, the folks at Gallo are doing their part in providing plenty (and I do mean plenty) of options for Moscato lovers.  This Chilean import is part of their Gallo Family Vineyards line of wines.

Winemaker:  Gallo
Varietal:  Moscato
Wine:  Moscato Chile
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Chile
Price:  $5.99

Notes:  In the glass, this budget white was a light gold.  On the nose I found scents of peach and apple.  It was medium-to-light in body and with enough viscosity to begin edging toward a syrupy feel.  Flavors for me were ripe peach, apple and a touch of persimmon.  It’s a sweet wine, to be sure.  Alcohol is at 9%.   I think if the acidity had been a tad brighter in this Gallo offering, I would have enjoyed it more.  I’ve been tasting a number of Moscato’s lately.  This wasn’t a terrible glass of wine in my opinion, but it wasn’t my favorite.

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

Sutter Home Moscato

Since a) Moscato seems to be on an uptick and b) I recently tasted an inexpensive new Argentine import from Rex-Goliath, I have decided to sample several of the budget Moscatos available at my area stores.  Not a side-by-side comparison, but a comparison of sorts nonetheless.  And why not?  It’s summer, and I’ve seen Moscato described as “capturing the essence of summer.”  So … ’tis the season!

Winemaker:  Sutter Home
Varietal:  Moscato
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Chile
Price:  $6.99

Notes:  In the glass this Chilean Moscato is a very pale yellow.  On the nose I caught scents of citrus and peach with floral notes.  It was a light-bodied selection with quite a pleasant viscosity.  Flavors for me were peach, lemon, candied melon rind, and light hints of spices.  My only real issue would be that, except for a lone faint citrus note, it seemed fairly weak on the finish.  Alcohol is at 10%.  Overall, it was pretty easy to drink.  This wasn’t a nuanced wine by any means, but it didn’t come off as a bull in a china shop either.  You want a relaxed, definitely sweet, cheap Moscato?  This could be your wine!  It might serve fine as an apéritif for a casual summer gathering, especially if you’re serving some spicy chicken wings as appetizers.

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

Self-Centered and Unapologetic – Flank Steak in a Blueberry Wine Reduction

The recipe in this post by The Flash Cook looks so amazingly tasty and incredibly simple at the same time that I wanted to share it.  Although Flash Cook mentions a glass of wine (not just in the dish but as accompaniment), the wine isn’t identified. That got me thinking.  What wine would I choose?  Hmmm ….  If I were to make this dish and pick from among the wines I’ve posted notes about on Oenophilogical since February, I guess I’d choose the Mirafiore Barbera D’Alba Superiore 2010 which runs at about $20 retail where available.  Or for a budget option, I thought perhaps the Panilonco Merlot-Malbec Reserva 2011 at $4.99 would do pretty well also.  What about you?  What would you pick from your cellar or store to accompany this dish?

The Flash Cook

Sometimes it is ok. No, scratch that. Sometimes it is right, perfect and justified to be absolutely and completely self-centered.  Tonight I am unapologetically all about me.  What daughter? What emails I haven’t answered? What responsibilities?  I owe nothing to no one and my sole purpose on this earth tonight is to do exactly as I wish.  All. about. me.

The evening started as I left work a little early to take a stroll in some unexpected late afternoon sun.  I walked to one of my favorite treat destinations – Magnolia’s Cupcakes. I used to stand in line with all the other suckers in NYC to get these little bundles of cake topped with chocolate sugary butter!  Now I just stroll right into their Chicago satellite and order myself a four-dollar cupcake. All. about. me.

Afterwards, I walked to my other favorite treat destination, my neighborhood spa and had…

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