Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Campos de Viento, Tempranillo 2009

Campos DeViento Tempranillo

Sometimes the key to picking out a good wine is to have your Hindu neighbor, who doesn't drink, or know a thing about wine, go to the  wine shop and pick out a bottle based on two criteria:
1. cheap 
2. cool label

That is how we found this little gem of a wine. This wine is apparently a project created by Ignasi López and Robert Hunter, two foremost experts in Spanish wine. They started in 2007 working with winemakers to select the single varietal juice to make wine with their own personal stamp on things. What I didn't realize at the time is that these are the same wine makers that created the Campos de Luz Garnacha - a wine that Chris and I have been enjoying for about 6 months now.

We'll have to run this little experiment more often - I like it when other people pick out the cheap cool bottle wine that ends up being a big hit. If you give a shit about ratings or points, Robert Parker gave this wine 87 points. Parker and I don't always agree, and I think I would have given it an 88 or 89. And with its dark cherry, and bitter chocolate notes it will be a perfect wine for the impending ass biting cold weather that is coming our way now that the Labor Day Weekend has passed.

The Particulars
Winery: Campos de Viento

AVA: Northeast, Spain
Vintage: 2009
Alcohol: 13
Price:  between $7-10
Rating = BUY IT

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2009 Raymond Reserve Chardonnay | Fill Er Up

Two weekends ago Chris and I went to the Newport wine festival. First, let me tell you, the only thing good about one of your best friends getting pregnant after you have all bought tickets to the festival is that suddenly no one has to worry about who is going to be the designated driver. Pregnant woman are always good for that.

Second, this festival should have been more appropriately named the Newport Wine and Hard Alcohol festival, gin, rum, tequila, vodka, limencello....whatever. I tried my hardest to stick to the wine, but the table with Bailey's Irish Creme did call to me a few times. 
One of my favorite wines at the festival was the Raymond Chardonnay. I had never had it before, and was so taken by it that at the end of the festival this was the only wine I wanted to drink. So, having made friends with Phillip the wine rep, I sauntered back up to the table (maybe swayed would be a better word, in my mind I was sauntering, but I'd been drinking heartily for a few hours now, so swayed would probably be a more descriptive word) and simply asked if I could have a full glass - it was funny, his name was Phillip and I asked for a Fill Up...get it. Whatever.

So, fast forward a few days, Chris is at BJ's wholesale club of all places and they sell this wine for $10 a bottle, a full $10 less than What what.
Of course we bought it, chilled it and drank it as soon as it was cold. Here is the skinny on the wine. Its good, very good. It has aromas of honeysuckle and orange, but then on the end its like lemon cream...its so good. Just grab a ten spot and go out and get this wine and give it a try.

As a note. I think Wine Spectator gave this wine 89 points.

The Particulars
Winery: Raymond
Varietal: Chardonnay
AVA: Napa Valley, California
Vintage: 2009
Alcohol: 13.5
Price:  $10 (BJ's)
Rating = BUY IT

Thursday, August 25, 2011

2006 Chateau Lyonnat Lussac St. Emilion

 After I read the Wine Bible I became a bit of a Francophile for a while. I went in for months only wanting to drink French wine, mainly because all of those obscure wine labels with pictures of large chateaus on label finally made sense to me, I could read them and understand what I was buying, I felt like I had learned a new language - it was fun.
What is also really fun is perusing the bin end section of your local wine shop. You know all the bottles that for one reason or another are marked down below their normal price, usually due to damaged wine labels or whatnot. As you can see from this picture, this wine was originally priced at $20, but due to some wine stains on the label it was marked down to $14. Sweet.

I bought this probably about 6 or so months ago. I don't usually buy wine that I haven't tried before, but every once and a while it is fun to not know what you are getting yourself into.

So, here goes. It was good, very good. I actually thought it could have had more time in the bottle and gotten better, there was a slight green-ness to the wine, it was still great, but I think it would be better in a couple years. (Hmm a novel idea in this wine age, a wine that can actually lay down for a bit and get better, not beg to drunk the day you buy it.)

This is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Cab Franc. Now, Cab Franc is one of my least favorite varietals, I haven't come across a 100% Cab Franc that I wanted to drink, most of them give me the smelly fart face. However, in small quantities it does add tannin and heft to wine and it works here. It had a great earthy note and a slight berry flavor...thank you merlot, it was an all over palate pleaser. Now, at $20 it may be more money than people want to spend on a Wednesday night wine, but at only 12.5% alcohol it is the perfect wine to drink on a school night, or if you happen to be driving that night, two glasses won't put you over the edge.

The Particulars
Winery: Chateau Lyonnat
Merlot, Cabernet, Cab Franc
AVA: St. Emilion
Vintage: 2006
Alcohol: 12.5
Price:  $20 (Bin End at $14)
Rating = BUY IT

Monday, August 22, 2011

2008 Stickybeak Syrah

This wine has been given anywhere from 88 points (wine enthusiast) to 91 points (Jerry Lawson). Chris and I bought this wine at a wine tasting back in the spring. Our neighbor Angela also came to the wine tasting with us and also purchased this wine. I loved the wine at the tasting, it was what I sometimes refer to as "my kid of wine" meaning ample juicy berry flavors, smoke, good mouthfeel, and a lingering finish (no doubt helped by its 18 months in French oak). This wine is all that. But what Angela and I really loved about the wine was the name, Stickybeak - literally meaning "nosey neighbor" because. This name rang true for us, Angela and I spend at least four days together a week, but we never call each other or email each other, our relationship is a matter of looking over the fence to see if we are home working in the garden, or me hanging out the kitchen window yelling into her living room window when I see the light come on to ask if she wants to pop over for a glass of wine. I love our easy going way, we toss vegetables or flowers to each other through open windows, and we miss each other when one is traveling - sticky beak is indeed our wine.

The Particulars
Winery: Stickybeak Wines
Varietal: Syrah
AVA: 80% Napa Valley, 20% Atlas Peak, California
Vintage: 2008
Alcohol: 14.8% - yep, she's a big one
Price:  $18.99
Rating = BUY IT

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lamplighter Cabernet - the perfect wedding crasher wine

Our neighbors upstairs from us in Vermont like to drink wine and they don't give a shit what kind of wine it is, jug wine, box wine, whatever and we love them because just like us, they always have wine in the house, half of which they have no idea what it is or what it tastes like. We love going to their condo because we can bring whatever wine we want and they don't care what it is or want to talk about it, they just want to drink it. Now.

On Saturday we decided to have a couple bottles of wine at their house before we headed out to hear some live music at a local place. We finished a bottle of Smoking Loon Merlot that they had open when we came, and then we opened this little gem that we had bought at a local market for the whopping price of $5.99. I had no expectations from this wine - but was so pleasantly surprised by this medium bodied wine with the hint of cocoa and dark cherries. It was easy to drink and for the price was a veritable steal!

So, we finished the wine and headed out to the pub to hear the band, we pulled into the pub parking lot and as we got out of the car were greeted with the most amazing music wafting through the hot August night air, the problem was, the music was not coming from the pub in which we were going, it was coming from the restaurant across the street. We decided to check it out and realized that the music was indeed a wedding band, playing at what clearly was a wedding reception.

It was at this point, fueled by the liquid courage of a few glasses of vino at the house that on my bucket list there might actually be a line item for "crash a wedding". So indeed that is what I did, with my neighbor Jan. The husbands hung back and wouldn't go into the open air wedding reception structure. I looked at Jan and stated that you can't actually say you crashed a wedding unless you have a drink and dance, so we went to the cash bar and ordered two glasses of wine, and do you know what the wine was that night? Lamplighter - thats right - between the same wine and the full moon it just felt like we were supposed to crash this wedding. So, we danced under the full moon with about 50 or 60 people who were complete strangers. No harm no foul right? It is Vermont.

The Particulars
Winery: Lamplighter
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
AVA: Napa Valley, California
Vintage: Non Vintage
Alcohol: 13.8%
Price:  $5.99
Rating = BUY IT

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Bodega Lurton 2007 Torrontes

Yum! I have to be honest, I have no clue where I bought this wine, but if I had to guess I would say that it came from the 3 for $10 bin at Casalli's in Rhode Island. The front of the store is dedicated to these boxes of wine that you can mix and match and I like to just grab a bunch when I'm there because really, sometimes the night calls for a $3.33 wine. Like tonight for instance, a hot humid, Monday night, the quiche is in the oven and I need myself a little bit o vino. So, here we go, here is what I think of it. 

My wine varietal chart states that Torrontes is spicy, floral, grapefruit, soapy and spicy. The nose is full of grapefruit, but almost like a candied grapefruit, not like fresh, and definitely aromatic/floral. The taste surprised me, acidic yes, but it balances out with this great mellow mouth feel that is really great. I don't know a ton about Torrontes, but after this wine I will definitely seek this varietal out more often, just to learn more about it and compare it to this wine. 

The Particulars
Winery: Bodega Lurton
Varietal: Torrontes

DOC: Mendoza, Argentina
Vintage: 2007
Alcohol: 13%
Price:  $3.33 - sells typically for $7-$10

Monday, August 8, 2011

Esporao Reserva 2006

I bought this wine so long ago at a tasting and I've just been waiting for a laid back night to enjoy it. And really, sitting here with the laptop in front of me, glass of red wine by my right hand is the perfect setting for this wine. I just love it. This wine is a mix of Aragones, Trincadeira, Cabernet and Alicante Bouschet (a varietal I became familiar with on our trip to Lodi California a few years ago), if you don't know these varietals, please do not let that stop you from experimenting with new wines, you should always try new shit - and the shit coming out of Portugal right now is pretty friggin fantastic. This wine is huge fruit forward, jammy in your face, with just the hint of sweetness on the end, and the 14.5% alcohol doesn't come through at all, there is no hotness or burn at all. Give it a try.

The Particulars
Winery: Esporoa 
Varietal: Aragones, Trincadeira, Cabernet and Alicante BouschetDOC: ReguengosVintage: 2006
Alcohol: 14.5%
Price:  $23

Rating = Buy It

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

2009 Fat Monk Merlot

I mean really, for $10 are you expecting a grand description ala Wine Spectator? No. This wine is fun and jammy and easy to drink if you like berry forward big fat red wines. I bought this wine at a tasting in the spring, actually, I liked it so much that out of the 12 bottles I bought that day, 3 of them were this.

There is a little bit of acid on the finish, but nothing to be wary of. What you should be wary of is the alcohol content, which is a ridiculous 14.5% - not atypical for California, but it still means that for me this is a drink at home wine because there is no way I could have more than one glass and actually feel the lips on my face, let alone operate a car.  

The Particulars
Winery: Villa San Juliette
Varietal: 86% Merlot, 10% Cabernet, 4% Syrah
AVA: California, Paso Robles
Vintage: 2009
Alcohol: 14.5%
Price:  $10

Rating = Buy It

Friday, July 29, 2011

2009 Lake Sonoma Chardonnay

I tried this wine on the hottest of hot days, when you walk outside and feel like you've just walked into someone's mouth. Just a disgusting horrible day when the breeze is so hot, when it hits you its almost like its bitch slapping you.

I'm on this butter Chardonnay kick right now, I just can't help myself. Even though the day begged for a Sav Blanc, Viogner or Rose I just wanted Chard and this little number did the trick, golden in color a little toast, a little apple, a little pear - not big in your face, but not a shrinking violet either with great mouth feel - if your into that. Perfect.

The Particulars
Winery: Lake Sonoma Winery
Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
AVA: California, Russian River Valley
Vintage: 2009
Alcohol: 13.5%
Price:  $20
Cost: $12.50

Rating = Buy It

Friday, July 22, 2011

2009 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viogner

Chris and I were lucky enough to visit Pine Ridge on our last trip to Napa/Sonoma in 2009. We had a great tour of the grounds including the learning vineyard in which you can walk single rows of all of the varietals that they grow in the vineyard to learn what each varietal looks like, tastes like, etc. After the tour of the vineyard we went into the caves to barrel sample and have a wine and cheese pairing. 
Below is a picture of me with comparing two of their red wines  - well not so much comparing them as just really enjoying then with some awesome cheese in with a genuine Chihuly glass sculpture in the background.

I like this wine, its perfect for the 105 degree day, yes, its 105 degrees (and I will not complain as we had what felt like 17 months of winter this year - bring on the heat) its crisp and bright and almost effervescent, like if Fresca made a wine this would be it. And the best thing about it is that it is only 11.8% alcohol which on a night like tonight is a heavenly amount of alcohol not too high, not too low, its a Goldilocks wine.

Its a fun wine smacking of pink grapefruit, lime and crisp acidity. Just fun and easy on a steamy hot night.

The Particulars

Winery: Pine Ridge
Varietal: 80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Viogner
AVA: California, Oakville
Vintage: 2009
Alcohol: 11.8
Cost: $12.50

Rating = Buy It

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

2009 Shoo Fly "The Freckle"

Yeah, sorry about the pic here - but we've just finished this bottle of wine and Chris has already thrown it in the recycle bin so I needed to search the internet for an image of he wine. Harder than you might think.

Chris and I bought this wine at a tasting during the spring. I'll be honest, I bought it almost certainly because of the name "The Freckle", being a mix of Irish and Scottish heritage I have pretty much been screwed in the area of skin pigmentation. This is never more evident as when my husband, an Italian, can generate a tan line by simply walking to the back yard and watering the garden, when it's overcast. I don't tan, I just become a matrix of freckles, with enough sun, they almost look like a tan, or leprosy, its a toss of the dice. So a wine, made predominately out of the "freckled" grape Marsanne just spoke to me a little. (There's marketing for every ginger out there for ya.)

Anyway - here we go.

I liked this wine, the label states that I will get honeysuckle, peach and subtle oak. I find that I am very good at smelling and tasting things that I encounter on a daily basis. I run every morning, somewhere between 4 and 8 miles a day, and there is a yard, about 3 miles or so into my run that has a fence with honeysuckle that twists and climbs up the fence, facing the sidewalk. I look forward to this part of my run because the aroma of honeysuckle is so strong and is such a refreshing burst on an otherwise aromatically lame run. So, I know what honeysuckle smells like, and yes, this wine smells and at the beginning tastes like honeysuckle and I love that. Oak, now that's another thing, I love oak especially in white wines and I just didn't get it on here, what I did get on the finish was an almost tart sour lime pith type flavor. Not the best finish, but not terrible either, and for $11 I'm not complaining.

This is the perfect wine for a night like tonight, when you are outside and the oppressive heat of the day breaks just enough for you to cool off and enjoy the breeze.

The Particulars
Winery: Shoofly
Varietal: 40% Marsanne, 37% Roussane, 23%Viogner
AVA: Adelaide, Australia
Vintage: 2009
Price: $11

Rating - BUY IT

Monday, July 18, 2011

2009 Bridlewood Chardonnay

I bought this wine at a tasting a few months ago. This past weekend we headed up to Vermont to spend a little time in the sun and I took this from the cellar thinking it would be a great wine to have on the deck at night. On the ride up, I was reading the July 13th issue of Wine Spectator, which was a special issue on the top rated California Chardonnays. In the buyers guide I spied that the exact wine I had in my cooler was given an 87 point rating. The Wine Spectator rating read as such: fresh floral , citrus, peach and nectarine aromas are smooth and easy drinking in this complex white, which ends with a touch of sweetness. Drink now through 2013.

Here's what I think. It was good. I usually like the big butter bomb Chardonnays - this is not one of those, it is light in the beginning, I don't get tropical flavors which some other reviews have claimed, but I do get the nectarine and peach on the nose, and slight vanilla on the finish, but for me, it ended a little too acidic. For $15 bucks though this is a stand up California Chard and would be a good crowd pleaser for people who like medium weight whites. 

To be fair, I fell asleep in the middle of this bottle, I opened it, had about a glass, and promptly fell asleep in the sun like a lazy drunk person. When I woke up, thankfully I was not sunburned to all hell, and no flies or bees had found their way into the bottle, so I poured myself another glass. So, actually, the time I spent napping was very good for the wine, because over that half hour that I was in the land of nod, the wine really opened up and was a little less harsh and acidic on the finish.

My vote here is: BUY IT.

The Particulars
Winery: Bridalwood
Varietal: Chardonnay
AVA: California, Monterey County
Vintage: 2009
Alcohol: 13.3