Montebuena Rioja Cuvee KPF 2012

What is a good way to celebrate good news at work?  When I say good news, I mean really good news.  Remember the trip to Montreal I mentioned?  Well, the participants rated the meetings and presenters (of which I was one).  I don’t know if it was that my attempt at dredging up college French was passable or what … but I got good “grades.”  And that makes me very happy.  So I decided to reward myself by tasting my first Rioja ever.  Yes, it’s true!  I know it might have been more fitting to have gone Canadian or French, but it was a serendipitous celebration.  I pulled from the bottles I had on hand, don’t you know!

Winemaker:  Montebuena (by Cosecheros de Labastida)
Wine:  Rioja Cuvee KPF
Varietal:  Tempranillo
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Rioja DOC, Spain
Price:  $8.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  This Spanish red was more of an eggplant color with tons of bouquet redolent with barnyard, oak, earth, tangy dark berries and spice.  I really enjoyed the bouquet a lot.  Acidity was fairly high and tannins were also on the high side in this medium-bodied selection.  On the tongue, I thought this inexpensive Rioja was pretty yummy. I tasted rich dark fruit, tea leaf, tar, a hint of pepper, brambly tannins, as well as notes of baked rolls on he long finish.  In describing it, I wouldn’t call it chewy exactly but then I wouldn’t call it not chewy, either.  Is that confusing?  Well, try it and see what I mean.  I think it would be a nice accompaniment to a steak dinner, but there is plenty to enjoy by itself.

Encuentro Bobal 2013

Hey!  I had another new wine experience recently.  I had a Bobal.

My first thought when I saw the label was, “What the heck is a Bobal?”  I bought it, of course.  How else was I to find out?  Seems the Bobal grape is a red wine grape that is native to the Valencia area.  It is also known by a host of other names, none of which I recognized.  So I think it’s safe to say that this was, indeed, my first Bobal.  Awesome!

Winemaker:  Encuentro by Bodega Aranleón
Varietal: Bobal
Vintage: 2013
Appellation:  Valencia DDO, Spain
Price:  $6.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This Spaniard was medium-bodied and silky in the mouth.  On the nose I caught scents of blueberry, blackberry, pepper, rubber and kerosine.  Acidity was good, tannins were light, and alcohol was a 13.5%.  Flavors I found included eucalyptus, blueberry, blackberry, rubber, leather and tobacco with a repeat of eucalyptus on the finish.  I liked that it was more than just a simple, cheap red.  It had some complexity on the palate as well as in the bouquet.  According to my research, the varietal can produce wines with chewy tannins as well as the higher acidity and dark fruit flavors I found in this selection.  I definitely would have enjoyed a bit more tannic backbone than was present in the Encuentro, but at $6.99 I don’t really think I have much to complain about.

Cocobon Red Blend 2012

Here’s a question for you: What does Cocobon mean?  Is it an invented name or does it pertain to something in the real world … someone’s family name, a town, a geographical feature, perhaps a cultural allusion of some sort?  I will say that the graphics on the wine’s label reminded me a bit of the leaves and fruit on a cocoa plant.  Is that where the name stems from –  good cocoa?  Well, I suppose knowing what inspired the name isn’t exactly critical.  Is it enjoyable to drink?  That’s the important question.  But if you do know the origin of this label’s name, please drop a comment and enlighten me.

Winemaker:  Cocobon Vineyards
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2012
Appellation:  California
Price:  $9.99

Notes:  The color of this Cocobon Red Blend, another of The Wine Group’s many labels, was a dark cherry red.  On the nose I caught whiffs of barnyard and berries.  The acidity was good and tannins were modest on this light-bodied blend.  Alcohol was at 13.5%.  Flavors I detected included cherry, lots of cedar, cola syrup, and a touch of spice.  Once it breathed, the cedar subsided somewhat and made way for the addition of what I thought was a plummy flavor.  It finished on a green herbal note.  I liked this inexpensive blend just fine.

X Big Gun Red 2012

Not long ago, I walked into a local wine shop during their Saturday afternoon tasting hours.  I know I’ve mentioned this store before – The Grateful Red – because I’ve purchased a number of my selections there in recent months.  It’s a small but very friendly store, and they’re frequently doing wine and/or beer tastings.  This time they had 4 wines out to be tasted.  After a quick swig or two, I felt this one might prove the most interesting of the four.  Although I’m not usually a sucker for a label, I did appreciate their somewhat unconventional approach and the implied pun.

Winemaker:  X Winery
Wine:  Big Gun
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2012
Appellation:  California
Price:  $15.99 at The Grateful Red

Notes:  The color of this California blend made from 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Syrah, 27% Merlot and 6% Grenache grapes was a dark purple/red.  On the nose I smelled dark fruit and what I would describe as compost.  Acidity was all right, and the weight on the tongue was on the lighter side of medium.  Tannins were also in the medium range, I thought.  Flavors I tasted included cherry, red currant, clove, and pepper.  Alcohol was at 14.5%.  While I wasn’t bowled over by it, it might fit nicely into the holiday spirit(s) given it’s flavor profile.

Frassina Rosso 2012

Sign, signs, everywhere are signs ….  You know that song by the Canadian group, Five Man Electrical Band?

Well … although I purchased this wine because it was identified as 100% Sangiovese by the store, I found that it is actually a Tuscan blend.  Guess I should have done the same quick mobile internet check that I did when I bought the Ruffino Aziano.  And, indeed, a quick online look tells us that this Rosso is made from 35% Sangiovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Syrah, and 10% Ancellotta.  But the sign said it was just Sangiovese!  D’oh!

Winemaker:  Frassina
Wine: Rosso
Vintage: 2012
Varietal:  Red Blend
Appellation:  Toscana, Italy IGT
Price: $21.99 at The Grateful Red

Notes:  The color of this Tuscan red was a deep ruby.  On the nose I found pepper and spice, tangy berries and musty sod.  The body was medium and acidity was high.  Alcohol came in at 14%, and tannins were medium with an aggressive attack.  On the tongue I got flavors of cherry, tea leaf, oak/wood, and lots of pepper.

Pontificis Red Blend 2012

Please forgive me, but my language geek is coming to the fore.  I see a word, and I want to know what it means.  I come by it honestly, though.  My father used to actually pack relevant volumes of our home encyclopedia when we went on trips.  I kid you not!!  This is something my sister and I would hear when we were supposedly on vacation as he pulled out a book from underneath the driver’s seat where it was very sneakily packed.  “Here you go kids.  Here’s the “A” volume.  We’ll be driving through Arizona today, so take a few minutes and read through that entry.  When you’re done, tell me about how Arizona got it’s name.”  At that point, loud mournful groans would be heard from the back seat of our station wagon.

Anyway, back to geeking out.  Pontificis is Latin and (according to my online research) the genetive – i.e. possessive – singular form of pontifex. Pontifex originally meant bridge-maker or “one who negotiates between gods and men.”  In old Rome it was a high priest or the like.  In the modern context it has come to signify the pontiff and specifically the Pope.  Thus, the vintner is suggesting this wine is “of or belonging to” the Pope.  Well, then what’s it doing on sale at my grocery store?!

Winemaker:  Badet Clement & Cie
Wine: Pontificis
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Pays d’Oc IGP, France
Price: $6.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  This one was a deep, dark purple in the glass from which wafted scents of berries and musty earth.  Acidity was good; tannins were in the medium range; alchol was at 13.5%.  According to the label, this Pays d’Oc red is a blend of 40% Grenache grapes, 40% Syrah grapes, and 20% Mourvedre grapes.  Not surprising, then, that I found an interesting variety of flavors.  There was first and foremost quite a bit of fruit – plum, cherry and raspberry.  In addition, I found oak, touches of grass, and hints of fennel as well as coffee notes. Like many reds, the flavor profile and the tannic attack lightened as it had more time to breathe.  Overall, I was suprised by the moderate complexity of this budget blend.  This will never merit a 95 from The Wine Spectator, but it could top someone’s list of red table wines – maybe yours.


Coppola Rosso 2012

As I sit here writing this post, I can hear the recycling truck collecting the bottles I have put outside in the bin.  It’s a cacophany of high-pitched tinkles and crashes (with an idling diesel engine thrumming out bass in the background) that would normally be unsettling.  But knowing that those bottles – including the empty Coppola Rosso – may one day return to me as a container for yet another adventure in wine, I choose to hear those sounds as music celebrating the cycle of a wine’s life rather than the hubbub of a busy urban landscape.

Winemaker:  Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Wine: Coppola Rosso
Vintage: 2012
Varietal:  Red Blend
Appellation:  California
Price: $7.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  The color of this California blend was a dark garnet.  On the nose I detected sweet berries, some spice and a touch of earth.  It was a medium-bodied red with fine acidity and very light tannins.  Alcohol was at 13.5%.  On the palate I tasted dark cherry and berries, a tad of spice, some pepper, and ash along with a distinctively floral finish.  As the wine oxidized, I thought the fruit flavors settled a bit in favor of a solid core of black cherry.  It was definitely enjoyable and would probably serve well as a house wine for casual sipping and lighter meat dishes.

Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Cabernet 2012

No experiment is valid without a control.  Right?  Something to compare the experiment’s results to.  So after having tried that Penfolds Winemaker’s Selection Shiraz Cab that I happened upon recently, I decided to grab another Australian blend of the same grape varietals for a comparison.  Admittedly, they aren’t from the same vintage and the wines aren’t blended in the same percentages.  Not exactly a true scientific method.  Still, I was curious.

Winemaker:  Jacob’s Creek
Wine: Shiraz Cabernet
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage:  2012
Appellation: South Eastern Australia
Price: $6.99

Notes:  Jacob’s Creek has blended 56% Shiraz and 44% Cabernet Sauvignon for this selection.  Color was a … drum roll, please … dark garnet.  OK, no real surprise there.  The bouquet?  Well, it held aromas of earth, mushroom, eucalyptus and dark plum.  Body – medium; acidity – fairly high; tannins – medium with an aggressive attack (some use the term grippy); alcohol – 13.9%.  Flavors?  Yes.  LOL  No, seriously, the major player on the palate was oak.  It’s what hit me first and kept on coming.  In addition there were plum and pepper with hints of cocoa and bitter coffee bean on the finish.  Bottom line – it was OK, but I would have enjoyed it more had it not been for the preponderance of oak.  Of course, that’s based on my own personal preferences.  You may enjoy the starring role that oak plays at the Jacob’s Creek Shiraz Cabaret – I mean, Cabernet.  Then again, maybe this is a wine that needs a little time in the bottle for the flavors to balance out.

Badger Mountain Pure Red 2012

Here is my third post from a trip I took awhile back.  In this case, I went to dinner at a local Italian eatery on my first night there.  I won’t name the restaurant because the dish I had was not very good.  In fact, it was bland.  I don’t mean to be negative, but bland Italian food?  That’s hard to do!  Disappointed with my dinner, I was hoping to enjoy the accompanying wine.  Not really being familiar with any of the offerings they had listed, I took a chance on a red blend from Washington.

Winemaker:  Badger Mountain
Wine:  Pure Red
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2012
Appellation:  Columbia Valley, Washington
Price: $26 (3 liter box) at Total Wine

Notes:  As you can see from the label, Badger Mountain is a certified organic vineyard.  According to the winery’s website, this vintage of Pure Red is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon (73%) blended with Syrah (19%), Merlot (4%), and Cabernet Franc (4%).  In the glass this was another very dark red.  The bouquet brought me copious scents of ripe berries as well as pepper and a hint of oak.  The body was light, acidity was good, and alcohol was at 13.5%.  It was a pleasant glass of wine that played on the tongue a bit.  Core flavors for me were black raspberry and cola, cherry notes throughout with hints of green herbs on the finish.  There were no real tannins to speak of, and it did seem a bit week in the mid palate.  Otherwise, as I said, it was a pleasant red blend.  With this wine being 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, I’m surprised it didn’t have more tannic structure.  That being said, there isn’t anything wrong with having a gentle house red waiting to welcome you home at the end of a hard day.  At $6.50 per 750 ml, it’s definitely a budget-friendly wine.

Tablao Red Wine Navarra 2012

Get ready to put on your dancing shoes!!


Why?  Because the name on this wine, Tablao, is a word used to denote a flamenco show, a flamenco venue, or the dance floor on which flamenco is performed.  I can hear those heels rat-a-tat-tatting now!

Quite an interesting choice of names for a wine label, don’t you think?  It certainly promises a lot!  Think of all the things that flamenco conjures in the imagination.  Flamenco is exciting, dynamic, vibrant, passionate, and sensual!  It exudes a feeling of controlled chaos – the musicians, singers and dancers playing on the edge of rhythmic and emotional anarchy.  Whew!  That’s a lot to live up to.  Does the wine do the name justice?  Well …

Winemaker:  Tablao (by Bodega Pagos de Aráiz)
Wine:  Red Wine
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2012
Appellation:  Navarra DDO, Spain
Price:  $9.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  This Tablao red from the Navarra region in the far north of Spain is made from 81% Tempranillo, 9% Garnacha, 8% Merlot,  and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.   In the glass this inexpensive blend is dark with lots of berries, herbs and floral notes in the bouquet.  I found it to be a medium-bodied wine with good acidity and lighter tannins.  Alcohol was at 13.5%.  On the tongue I thought this Navarran red a rather ebullient, playful wine more reminiscent of a Barbera, say, than a Tempranillo. [Yes, I know Barbera is an Italian … but there you have it.]  Anyway, the flavors I found were black raspberry, cola, some tar, a touch of oak and a quick zip of menthol on the finish.  As to whether it lived up to it’s name ….  Well, that would be a tall order, I think, for any wine and especially for a selection that was a budget-friendly $7.99 on sale.  It certainly was energetic and fun to drink.  It was also a good value.  I’d say those are reasons enough to want to get up and dance.


Post Script:

Hmmm.  Wine from Navarra!  Like, that’s Navarre, isn’t it?  I wonder ….  Seems to me I saw a movie about Navarre.  I think it was a funny one.  Yes, that’s right.  It was about several guys making a pact to swear off sex and then facing extreme temptation.  What was it called again?  Wait, wait, don’t tell me.  Oh, oh, oh!  It wasn’t a movie; it was a play.  And it was called, uh.  It was called, uh …  Love’s Labor’s Lost by that guy from England.  You remember!  He wrote a lot of old stuff.  Starts with a “W.”  Will, Wilbur, Willard,  No,no – William.  William … Shakespeare!  Of course.  And in the story, one of the “guys” who decides to devote himself to studying and fasting while shunning women’s company is the King of Navarre.  See?  I knew it sounded familiar.

If you think the preceding “scene” was contrived, I have to admit that it is – disturbingly – not that far removed from what really went through my mind.  Ha!