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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Panilonco Merlot-Malbec Reserva 2011

Peck_PaniloncoMerlotMalbec2011An inexpensive red from the Colchagua Valley of Chile.

Winemaker:  Panilonco (by Viñedos Errazuriz Ovalle S.A.)
Wine:  Chief of Lions Merlot-Malbec Reserva
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Colchagua Valley, Chile D.O.
Price:  $4.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This budget-friendly offering was a deep red in the glass.  It is a medium-bodied mix of 60% Merlot and 40% Malbec.  It had a soft, round bouquet of dark fruit, with hints of earth, oak and anise.  On the tongue I found plum, blackberry, a bit of clay, and benzine.  As the wine breathed, the plum flavor lifted a tad to more of a currant while the rest remained consistent.  Tannins are moderate and provide a grassy finish.  Alcohol is 13%, and acidity seemed OK.  Some, no doubt, will be put off by the benzine.  I found nothing to complain about.  I think it will do just fine as a table wine paired with meat dishes.

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

Trader Joe’s Viñas Chilenas Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2012

OK!  Back to business – tasting primarily inexpensive wines.  This Chilean Sauvignon Blanc from Trader Joe’s is definitely a budget-friendly selection.  In fact, I almost didn’t grab it because of my last experience with a $3.99 bottle of wine.  Happily, this TJ private label was worth investigating.

Winemaker:  VSPT, Vitacura for Trader Joe’s
Wine:  Trader Joe’s Viñas Chilenas Sauvignong Blanc Reserva
Varietal:  Sauvignong Blanc
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Valle Central, Chile
Price:  $3.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  In the glass this wine is a pretty light yellow.  On the nose I found scents of citrus, pear and honeysuckle.  Flavors for me were a core of lemon throughout, hints of pear, and some zest at the finish.  I would almost add a bit of honey, except it wasn’t the taste of honey but the sweetness.  In fact, at times the flavors came together in a lemon drop sort of way (not as intense as the candy).  This is a light wine – light-bodied and light on the taste buds.  Alcohol is at 12%, and acidity is good.  Light though it is, I think it could stand up to a Sea Bass or Tilapia entree.

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

Terrenal Chardonnay 2012

Peck_TerrenalChardonnay2012I am trying to mix things up here by not repeating too often back-to-back.  In other words, I’m trying to jump around and taste wines from different areas and of different varieties each time.  I hope that keeps the site fresh and interesting for folks who drop in.  This time I did travel to South America again. [Remember, I travel by bottle on this blog.]  However, I hopped over the Andes to Chile via Chardonnay.

It’s interesting the things one learns while preparing to blog about a wine.  For instance, did you know that the word “terrenal” means “of the earth”  and “curicó” reportedly means “black waters?”  Thankfully, though, the names of the winery and the valley where the grapes were grown do not seem to have affected the characteristics of this wine in the least.  Which is good, because I don’t know that I’d enjoy an earthy Chardonnay that was a deep pitch color in the glass.  Here’s what I found instead.

Winemaker:  Terrenal (Jose Pedro Gomez)
Varietal:  Chardonnay
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Curicó Valley, Chile
Price:  $4.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This Chilean Chardonnay is very light-bodied and a pale yellow in the glass.  On the nose I found citrus and ripe pear.  Flavors for me were citrus aplenty with notes of pear and toasty oak, finishing on a zing of lemon grass.  There is also just a touch of chalkiness.  Acidity is fairly bright, and alcohol is at 13.5%.  This wine is also kosher.  I mentioned that the wine is light-bodied.  Indeed, it is.   If you want more viscosity (that coat-the-tongue feeling almost like oil) and/or a big, bold flavor profile that many Californian and Australian Chardonnays have become known for — this is not your Chardonnay.  That being said, it is an AOK wine, and I think it will pair just fine with almost any seafood.  And, it’s $4.99!

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

Frontera Sauvignon Blanc 09

Unpacking yet another transfer from Blogarhythms.
Almost done … almost finished.


More from the folks at Frontera.  This time a white.

Vineyard:     Frontera (by Concha Y Toro)
Varietal:       Sauvignon Blanc
Vintage:       2009
Appellation: Central Valley – Chile
Price:          $6.49
Notes:         Nice citrus with floral notes on the nose.  Core flavors for me were kiwi and lemon grass.  Considering I bought this bottle on sale for $4.00, I have absolutely no complaints.

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

Concha Y Toro Sunrise Chardonnay 2008

Another post transferred from Blogarhythms.  Given the date (Feb. 2010), I’m sure this is no longer available.  But it sets things into perspective – for my blog, for my tasting history, and for any future experiences with the same wine from another vintage. 

Did I mention that I’ve been keeping tasting notes for several years now?  Don’t get concerned; I won’t share them all here.  But I thought this particular selection would be of interest to others like me looking for good values in wine.  I had this quite recently, too.

Vineyard:     Sunrise (by Concha Y Toro)
Wine:           Chardonnay
Vintage:       2008
Appellation: Central Valley – Chile
Price:          $7.99

Notes:         Nice apple and lemon with a hint of grass.  It was surprisingly flaccid in the mid-palate for me.  Perhaps I should give it another go just to be sure I wasn’t having an off day.  Not a particularly bad wine; in fact not at all offensive.  Just not a very interesting wine for my taste.  Of course, given the very reasonable price, you could do worse.

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