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.

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Blood Red Wine

Oenophilogical_CuriousBeastsBloodRedWineWrapper2013As I said before, it’s never a bad idea to plan ahead for the holidays.  Many of us forget due to our excitement over the “majors”, though, that the spooky holiday comes first.  Let’s face it, I can’t tell you how long it’s been since I went to a party in costume. [OK, I won’t tell you.]  Why has it been so long?  No, it’s not because I’ve completely lost the fun in my life.  Mostly it’s due to a lack of advance prep work.

So, if you’re thinking of having a get-together (with or without costumes) on Halloween, I have another candidate for you to audition for the beverage table.  This one is also for a casual affair not for the wine aficionados.  And this wine, too, has a Halloween-appropriate label.  And name!   In fact, the wrapper that comes with each bottle is even more Halloweeny than the label.  If you serve it at Halloween, make sure your guests get to see and appreciate the wrapper art as well.

Oenophilogical_CuriousBeastsBloodRedWine2013Winemaker:  Curious Beasts (by Truett Hurst)
Wine:  Blood Red Wine
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  California
Price:  $13.00

Notes:  With a name like Blood Red Wine, this selection is appropriately dark ruby in the glass.  On the nose I caught scents of red berries, sous bois, and a hint of caramel.  At 14.7% alcohol, it had little to no tannins that I could detect.  Still, there was plenty of flavor in this light-bodied selection.  I tasted lots of cherry and blackberry with some raisin and caramel along with a touch of eucalyptus.  It was certainly pleasant enough to drink.  Since there’s not much in the way of structure, it is a drink now kind of wine.  I think it would be decent with a pasta dish or with Mexican cuisine.

Cupcake Vineyards Red Velvet 2013

The other day I was at my local Safeway perusing the wine aisle.  Dressed in hobo fashion – camo bdu pants, gray hoodie under an worn leather bomber jacket, stocking cap, old tennis shoes, two days worth of stubble – I expected to be left to my own devices while I checked for new selections, price drops, etc.  Much to my surprise, I was almost immediately accosted by a very friendly young couple who wanted help choosing a wine to take to a party.  Say what?!  I was NOT the only person in the wine aisle.

They told me they were thinking red – maybe.  The other people at the birthday party would be from Spain and Ecuador.  What did I suggest?  They wanted something that wasn’t embarrasingly cheap but not beyond a young couple’s budget.  We started at Malbec, then moved to Merlot, even sparkling wine as I was trying to ascertain what kind of wine they might want to take as a host gift.  The young lady saw the Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco label and got very excited, but decided they wanted red after all.  So I suggested they run off with a bottle of the Red Velvet.  I said I thought it would make a good party wine.  I hope their friends liked it because the couple I was talking to don’t drink!

Winemaker:  Cupcake Vineyards
Wine:  Red Velvet
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2013
Appellation:  California
Price:  $16.99

Notes:  And, indeed, I think this is a fine little party wine.  It was a pretty red in the glass, and tannins were fairly light.  On the palate I found lots of berry flavor at the fore with a lingering cherry accompanied by warm spice notes.  Alcohol was at 13.5%.  I didn’t get goosebumps while sipping it, but I can’t imagine anyone spitting it out, either.  I do think my Safeway may be overcharging.  Pretty sure this selection can be found elsewhere for $10 or less.  Luckily, it was on sale when I recommended it to the nice couple.

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.

Williamsburg Two Shilling Red 2013

What is two shillings worth these days?  Well, I don’t think we can know exactly.  I believe the shilling went out of circulation in the UK during the early 1970’s.  Evidently, it used to be 1/20 of a pound.  So two shillings – 1/10 of a pound – doesn’t sound like a lot of money.  Of course, that may well depend on context … historical context.  Speaking of the UK and history, a trip to the British Isles is high on my bucket list.  That’s largely because my father did some genealogical work when I was a kid and managed to trace our roots back to England.  Our forebears emigrated from London to America way, way back when.  I suppose family roots are on my mind right now because I’m reading a historical fiction novel that features Scottish history and the protagonist’s (somewhat forgotten) Scottish heritage.  Maybe I should be drinking Glenfiddich or Royal Lochnagar while I read to get into the right frame of mind rather than this Virginia red.  Oh well, there is a sequal!

Winemaker:   Williamsburg Winery
Wine: Two Shilling Red
Varietal:  Red Blend
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  America
Price: $7.49 at Trader Joes

Notes:  I found this Williamsburg offering a pretty cherry red in the glass.  On the pungent nose I caught scents of sous bois (see Vinetalkers post) and sweet red berries.  It was medium-bodied with racy acidity and 12.5% alcohol content.  There was just a slight hint of tannins – that fuzzy tongue feeling.  The flavor profile was pretty light and tart on the whole. In fact, it reminded me a bit of the Chambourcin I had from Iron Gate Vineyards some time ago.  Similarities aside, this Virginia blend is definitely lighter in body and flavor.  According to the winery’s website, this is a blend of 97%  Syrah and 3% Zinfandel.  So what were it’s flavors?  I tasted sweet raspberry, a touch of pepper, coffee grounds, a bit of earth, and a very tart rhubarb-like flavor.  Best part to me was the lingering raspberry on a fairly long finish.

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.