Smoking Loon Malbec 2013

I am madly attempting to catch up on my movie and TV watching because we are right in the midst of the awards season.  I’m using the SAG Awards nominations as my bucket list.  One of the shows I hadn’t watched on HBO until recently – despite having a subscription – was Westworld.

I saw the old movie with Yul Brynner on TV when I was a kid.  For some reason it just didn’t tickle my fancy.  I’m not saying it was a bad movie, it just wasn’t what interested me at the time.  Thus, I think that memory kept me from clicking over for HBO’s treatment.

Then one of my colleagues was singing it’s praises at work – the new series, I mean.  He just couldn’t say enough good things about it.  While he didn’t know it was a remake (He’d never even heard of the movie or of Yul Brynner.), he did recommend the series highly.  And then, of course, it made the SAG Awards nominations.

Good grief!  What had I been waiting for?  I am really quite impressed with the new series.  It is an entertaining show!  Be aware, though.  It’s definitely not for young viewers or those who shy away from shoot-em-ups on the screen.

And, yes, I decided to enjoy a glass or two of vino as I began my exploration of the new Westworld series.  I suppose I could have gone more Westworld and had a few shots of whiskey, but that wasn’t what I had handy.

oenophilogical_smokingloonmalbec2013Winemaker:  Smoking Loon
Varietal:  Malbec
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Valle Central, Chile
Price:  $8.99

Notes:  A very dark purple color, this loon exhibited lots of earth, menthol, pine and forest berries in it’s bouquet.  Medium-bodied with nice acidity, the tannins were what I’d call medium.  Flavors I detected included blackberry/mulberry, tobacco, some hints of spice and a touch of mint.

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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.

 

Gouguenheim Malbec 2011

Argentinian Malbec at a steak house?  Not a bad idea at all!  The other night I went to hear a friend and his group play live at a restaurant called The Golden Bull.  As I had gone straight there from work, I obviously needed to eat – and drink.  So I ordered their Chicken Marsala and a glass of this wine.

Winemaker:  Gouguenheim
Varietal:  Malbec
Vintage:  2011
Appellation:  Valle Escondido, Mendoza, Argentina
Price:  $11.99

Notes:  This Gouguenheim Malbec was a deep, rich garnet in the glass.  I found scents of berries and oak in the bouquet.  It was a softer Malbec, which made it a pretty decent beverage to pair with the Chicken Marsala.  Tannins were quite gentle, and acidity seemed low.  It had a lightly silky feel on the tongue.  Flavors I tasted included hearty helpings of black currant, dark plum, pepper, and a biting woodiness.  Alcohol is listed on the label as 13.5%.  On the whole, I thought it was fine.  Not a “fine wine” in that sense of the word.  And, if I’d had my ‘druthers, this Malbec would have had more structure.  I definitely don’t think this would have been a good match for the steaks on the menu.  I was also disappointed to find sediment in the bottom of my glass.  That happens sometimes, of course.  So, for me, this was a totally OK wine experience.  By the way, my friend and his band did a great job entertaining the diners at The Golden Bull.  And that’s no bull!

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

25 Inexpensive Wines From Trader Joe’s

It’s always a good feeling to reach a goal.  Some months ago I set a goal of tasting 25 inexpensive wines from my local Trader Joe’s.  In the interim, my liver and my taste buds have been put to the test.  Ha!  With the posting on Sauvignon de Seguin Bordeaux 2012, I have made it across the finish line!!

Now even though I’ve reached my goal, I’m not swearing off drinking wines from Trader Joe’s.  No, no!  But I thought after 25, I should take a breather and – more importantly – a moment to reflect on the wines.  And in reflecting back, I’m going to do something uncharacteristic for this blog – I’m going to rate them, kinda.  Not on a point system or a buy/don’t buy.  I don’t do that here because I’m a wine enthusiast not a wine pro.  But I am going to identify what for me were the top 5 wines out of the 25 I tried.  Why?  Well, why did the Apollo astronauts put a flag on the moon?  In part, as a record of the journey!   So here goes …

1.  Château Haut Blaignan Bordeaux 2011

2.  Red Truck Red Wine 2009

3.  Sauvignon de Seguin Bordeaux 2011

4.  Alamos Malbec 2012

5.  Roccadoro (Castellani) Grifone Primitivo 2011

If you want to read the notes about my experience with each, you can click through using the link on the wine’s name.  I realize there is just one white wine represented in the 5.  The Joseph Händler Riesling 2012 almost made this list but just missed the top 5.  And if I were doing top 10, the Contadino Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2012  and the Trader Joe’s Viñas Chilenas Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2012 would have been contenders.  But my top 5 out of 25 are heavily red and broadly international with 2 French, 1 Italian, 1 Argentinian, and 1 Californian.

For those of you who are visiting oenophilogical for the first time, this is not a blog about the wines at Trader Joe’s.  Far from it!  Scroll down this site, and you’ll see what I mean.  For those of you who are Trader Joe’s shoppers, however, the other wines from TJ’s I’ve swigged so far are listed below – in no particular order.  If I’ve missed your favorite(s), please drop me a note here.  I’m always grateful for recommendations!

OK, then!  Here’s wishing you many good wine adventures!

La Granja 360 Tempranillo 2011
Trader Joe’s Coastal Syrah 2011
Gaetano D’Aquino Orvieto Classico 2012
La Ferme Julien Vin Blanc 2011
Archeo Ruggero di Tasso Nero d’Avola 2011
Trader Joe’s Viñas Chilenas Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2012
Villa Cerrina Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2011
Contadino Pinot Grigio delle Venezie 2012
Trader Moon, Honey Moon Viognier 2011
Gaetano D’Aquino Sangiovese di Toscana 2010
Joseph Händler Riesling 2012
Coppola Red Label Zin 2010
Les Portes de Bordeaux Bordeaux 2009
Terrenal Chardonnay 2012
Le Grotte Lambrusco dell’Emilia Bianco Dolce
Rocca del’Olmo Barbera d’Asti 2010
Hans Lang Edition Maximilian Pinot Noir 2009
Panilonco Merlot-Malbec Reserva 2011
Purple Moon Shiraz 2011
Albero Tempranillo 2010

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

Alamos Malbec 2012

Well, to be completely transparent, I actually purchased this bottle elsewhere and then found it at TJ’s.  As it IS on their shelves, I’m going to reflect that here.

Malbec? I can still remember the first Malbec I ever tasted.  It was … it was, um … a “number” of years ago.  I was in a restaurant in the Phoenix area.  Don’t remember the name of the establishment, but they served nouveau Southwest style cuisine and had several Malbecs on their wine list.    I took the plunge and was pleased with the experience.

Winemaker:  Alamos
Varietal:  Malbec
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Mendoza, Argentina
Price:  $9.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This Malbec made by the Catena family in Vista Flores, Tunuyán, Mendoza, Argentina is not as dark in its flavor profile as the one I had in Phoenix.  That isn’t a criticism at all; it’s just a fact.  In the glass, the Alamos is a dark, inky purple.  On the nose I caught scents of cherry, plum and earth.  It is a medium-to-light-bodied wine (on the cusp, I’d say).  Flavors for me were dark cherry, spiced plum, moss, light hints of coffee bean, and a touch of cough syrup on the finish.  Acidity seemed fine, and alcohol is at 13.7%.   It’s pleasant, very easy to drink, and gentle on the palate.

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

Light Red Tango Of The Vines

Originally posted at Blogarhythms on 2/21/2010.
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Yet another inexpensive (aka cheap) wine for consideration and enjoyment.  Generally speaking, I enjoy Malbecs.  OK, fine, there aren’t many wine varietals and/or blends that I don’t – generally speaking – enjoy.  Certainly, there are some individual wines that I don’t enjoy at all.  But this time around was not one of those exceptions.

Vineyard:     Santa Florentina
Wine:           Malbec
Vintage:       2009
Appellation: Famatina Valley – Argentina
Price:          $8.99

Notes:         With the scents of plum and dark cherry on the nose, this lighter-bodied red provides plenty of black cherry, plum, and fig flavor with hints of caramel.  The finish brings a very pleasant prune with just a touch of leather.  The wine has good acidity and very modest tannins.  Overall, a fairly pleasant wine from the land of the tango.  As it’s a 2009 and on store shelves now, I’d say this is not a selection for cellaring.

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