Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Agricola Querciabella Mongrana Maremma Toscana

Agricola Querciabella Mongrana Maremma Toscana 2009
Maremma, Tuscany, Italy
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a SUPERTUSCAN! Supertuscans are nontraditional wines from Tuscany and its environs. These wines came out of experimentation in the 1960's and 1970's and are often Cabernet or a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, and Syrah -- in addition to the customary Sangiovese of Tuscany.

Review: The Mongrana is quite nice. While it comes across as a touch off dry (I usually only do dry table wine), I'm enjoying the tart cranberries and red cherries in this wine. These red fruits are paired with a hint of cinnamon, vanilla, and spicy black pepper. This blend is made up of 50% Sangiovese, lending the wine a bright freshness. 

Food Pairing: The high acid in this Supertuscan makes it super (haha) food friendly. I drank mine with a nice savory meatloaf. 

Bottom Line: Pretty tasty and not too heavy. A great easy drinking red for a warm summer night. I dig it.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2009
  • PLACE: Maremma Toscana IGT (Indicazione Geographica Tipica)
  • GRAPES: 50% Sangiovese, 25% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon 
  • BOOZE: 13.5% 
  • CELLAR: Drink now, hold for a few years

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? High Priced

Monday, July 22, 2013

Domaine Des Miles Chablis Premier Cru

Domaine Des Miles Chablis Premier Cru 2010
Côte de Lechet, Burgundy, France

The Mid-Atlantic heatwave has finally broken and for the first time in a week I really want to drink a glass of wine! You'll have to forgive me for not reviewing a "Modest Monday" wine, but I wanted to open something nice to celebrate not melting the second I walk out my door! I hearts Chablis! For the long period of my mis-drunk youth I thought all Chardonnay had to be super oakey and buttered. 'Tis not true -- and Chablis is what opened my eyes (and palate).

Review: This wine is just lovely! It has a gentle nose of apple blossoms followed by soft lemon pulp and minerals on the palate. There's no oak -- the Chardonnay fruit and terrior simply shine through. I really dig the texture of this wine -- it has a medium bodied with a pleasantly viscosity, balanced with a nice fresh acidity.

Chablis is a special region, to the north east of the rest of Burgundy. While it is still a part of Burgundy, the soils are a bit different. Most of the vineyards of Chablis rest on Kimmerigean clay, made up of ancient fossilized marine like. This lends a beautiful flinty note to the wines.

The Domaine des Miles is a Premier Cru -- the second highest classification of Burgundy wines. At only $19.99 this is a pretty sweet (but completely dry) wine.

Pairing: Perfect with fruit and cheese. Just make sure you don't serve it too cold, or else the flavors will be suppressed.

Bottom Line: Great -- good value, good fruit, beautifully balanced and refreshing. I dig it!

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2010
  • PLACE: Chablis Premier Cru Contrôlée
  • GRAPE: Chardonnay
  • BOOZE: 13%
  • CELLAR: Drink now or hold for a few years

Where did I get it? Wegmans
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Non-Reviewing Rant: Unsanitary Tastings

Non-Reviewing Rant: Unsanitary Wine Tastings

Dear Readers,
I don't know where you live, but here in DC/NOVA we've been experiencing near record high temperatures, along with suffocating humidity. It's gross. I'm melting. It's nearly too hot to drink (hence no reviews this week).

Last night I went to a fantastic (and free!) tasting of some high end wines. It was great, except for one thing -- when the consultants were pouring they touched the bottle to the glass! This is my biggest pet peeve when it comes to wine service. It's completely unsanitary, and there's no excuse. If you don't have the strength to hold a bottle of wine or decanter without resting it on something, you need to find a new profession.

As my friends can attest, when I get hot, I get cranky. I tried to be pleasant about it (because I want to be asked back!), so with as much politeness as I could muster I asked the gentleman who was helping us (the store's Wine Manager!!) to use a bit more care. After that he was pouring without contamination. Bully for him.

It's finally starting to cool down a bit -- today is only 90 - 95 degrees. I'll try to start reviewing (and stop whining) soon!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Jaume Serra Cristalino
Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava
Catalonia, Spain

I saw this gem at Wegman's and was intrigued -- in large part because this wine comes with this amusing disclaimer: Jaume Serra Cristalino is not affiliated with, sponsored by, approved by, or endorsed by, or in any way connected to Louis Roederer's Cristal champagne or Louis Roederer. Well... duh.

Review: While this is clearly not Cristal, it's really pretty decent -- especially considering it only cost me $6.49! This sparkler is bit unrefined with quite large bubbles. It's a touch off dry, even though it's categorized as "brut". I did enjoy the flavors -- a touch of citrus, stone fruit, and toast. The Cristalino has a nice, fresh acidity. It's fine to drink on its own, but would also be a good choice for mimosas or bubbly based cocktails. 

Food Pairing: Serve as an aperitif!

Bottom Line:  All disclaimers aside, this bubbly isn't too shabby for $7 Cava. If I needed to bring inexpensive bubbly to a party or brunch, the Cristalino would be an easy pick.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non Vintage
  • PLACE: Cava DO (Denominación de Origen)
  • GRAPES: Parellada, Macabeo, Xarel-lo
  • BOOZE: 11.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it?  Wegman's

What's the damage?   Low Price

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ecard Savigny-Les-Beaune Red Burgundy

Maurice Ecard Savigny-Les-Beaune Red Burgundy 2011

Savigny-Les-Beaune, Burgundy, France

Happy Bastille Day! In honor of the holiday I opened my favorite bargain priced Red Burgundy.

Review: This Burgundy hails from from Savigny-Les-Beaune, a commune in the Côte de Beaune region of France. Coming in just under $20, this Pinot packs a punch from start to finish. On the nose it has a soft aroma of red berries and violets. The fruit opens on the palate with notes of currants and strawberries, paired with just a touch of earth. It has a perfect, round body and an easy finish.

Pairing: Croque-monsieur. Or madam.

Bottom Line: I love this wine's bright fruit and slight earthiness. It's a fine example of Old Word Pinot at a modest price. I dig it.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2011
  • PLACE: Savigny-Les-Beaune AOC (Appellation d'origine contrôlée)
  • GRAPEPinot Noir
  • BOOZE: 13%
  • CELLAR: Drink now or hold for a few years

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ventoso Vines Bobal

Ventoso Vines Bobal 2009
Manchuela, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain

Bobal -- no relation to boba tea or Boba Fett -- is a red grape native to Valencia, Spain. It thrives in the long hot days on the plains of La Mancha.

Review: The flavors produced in the Ventoso Vines Bobal are quite nice -- lots of plums and blackberries. This wine has a a medium body and a surprisingly low alcohol (only 12.5%) given the hot climate. I really dig the texture of this wine -- the tanins are just slightly grippy. It was great on its own, but I imagine the wine would really sing when paired with food.

Food Pairing: Ribs!

Bottom Line: The overall light impression of this wine makes is great for summer time. I dig it.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2009
  • PLACE: Manchuela DO (Denominación de Origen)
  • GRAPE: Bobal
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now or age for a few years

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vidigal Caves Dão

Vidigal Caves Dão 2010

Dão, Portugal

Finally DC's heat wave has broken -- unfortunately it broke into deluge on my walk home from the train. Clearly, tonight was not the night for more rosé. Instead, once I got dried off I was craving some nice, easy red wine!

Review: Ever since my spring trip to Portugal I've become a huge fan of Portuguese table wines -- this red blend from the Dão was just perfect for tonight. It's medium body -- just full enough to be warm and comforting, but not too heavy for the humid night -- with fantastic fruit flavors. I got tart baked cherries and stewed fruits on the palate, paired with soft, slightly chewy tannin.

Food Pairing: This red is super food friendly. I had it with a spicy potato hash.

Bottom Line:  Great, easy drinking table wine. Nothing too fancy, great value. I dig it.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2010
  • PLACE: Dão DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada)
  • GRAPES: 40% Jaen, 30% Touriga Nacional, 30% Alrocheiro
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Monday, July 8, 2013

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Three Wishes Cabernet Sauvignon

Three Wishes Cabernet Sauvignon

Review: Three Wishes is Whole Foods' answer to Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck. They make three wines: a Cab, a Merlot, and a Chard. I popped the cork on their Cabernet tonight. For what it is ($3.29 wine), it's pretty decent. 

I didn't get much on the nose, but on the palate this Cab has some nice black currant, licorice, and a hint of mint. It's a little tart, but also slightly sweet, with light body (especially for a Cab) and nearly no tannin.

I can't find any documentation about this wine producer, but given the "American" appellation these grapes come from no single state. I expect Three Wishes strives to maintain consistency across their production, but it would not be surprising to find some variation each season.

Food Pairing: With the sweetness, this would be fine with an outdoor barbecue.

Bottom Line:  If you're buying wine for people who don't really drink wine, the Three Wishes would fit the bill (and not cost you very many monies). 

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non Vintage
  • PLACE: America
  • GRAPE: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it?  Whole Foods

What's the damage?   Low Price

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Salton Flowers Demi-Sec
Vinícola Salton Flowers Demi-Sec
Serra Gaucha, Brazil

Review: This wine is just fun, from packaging to the booze -- simply light and easy. A slightly sweet (demi-sec = off-dry) blend of Muscat, Malvasia, and Gewurtzaminer, this wine lives up to it's name with lots of floral notes. It has a medium-light body, zingy acidity, and flavors of jasmine, roses, and apricots. It's playful, and may not be the thing for serious wine drinkers, but I could see sipping it poolside on a hot day.

When I think Brazil, I think of the Amazon, beautiful beaches, and strong cocktails -- not wine. However, the wine business in Brazil is growing, and producing a wide range.

Pairing: With the slight sweetness, this wine would go perfectly with some nice spicy Thai food.

Bottom Line: This wine isn't exactly my style, but I see the appeal -- super easy to drink with a low price tag (just over $10).

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non Vintage
  • PLACE: Serra Gaucha, Brazil
  • GRAPES: 50% Moscat, 25% Malvasia, 5% Gewurztraminer
  • BOOZE: 11%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Friday, July 5, 2013

Château de Sègriés Rosé

Vintage Update: 2015
Tasted 10/21/16

Just like I remembered. A light bodied rose with a big fruit kick. This vintage had the same bold black cherry note with a balance of tart pomegranate. Absolutely delicious. We paired this with spicy Singapore noodles -- the lush ripe fruit was a great counterpoint to the heat and curry of the dish.

Château de Sègriés Rosé 2012
Tavel, Rhone Valley, France

The summer of rosé continues! This Rhone Valley rosé is just perfect. I won't lie -- I was first drawn to it because of the BRIGHT pink color. I accidentally spilled a little on the counter and it nearly stained my kitchen magenta

Review: This rosé is hugely flavorful, full of strawberries, black cherries, lavender and minerals. It's dry with a beautiful light body, medium-high acid, and long, lingering fruity finish.

The Château de Sègriés is a blend of four grapes: Grenache, Cinsault, Clairette, and Syrah. It hails from Tavel, an appellation in the southern Rhone specializing in rosé -- and boozey ones at that. Many Tavel rosés can benefit from ageing. This one is great now, and I would love to see how it changes over time. I would expect the fruit to fall away a bit, and some secondary characteristics to come out -- maybe some herbs and undergrowth. Yummy.

Pairing: Croque-monsieur. Or madam.

Bottom Line: Interesting with a huge hit of flavor. I dig it.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2012
  • PLACE: Tavel AOC (Appellation d'origine contrôlée)
  • GRAPES50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 15% Clairette, and 5% Syrah
  • BOOZE: 14.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now or hold for a few years

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Thursday, July 4, 2013

New Brew Thursday: Julian Black & Blue Cider

Julian Black & Blue Hard Cider

Julian, California

Happy Independence Day! Since nothing is more American than apple pie, I popped the top on some nice cider.

Review: Cider is a fantastical beer alternative, perfect for a hot day outside (or inside with the A/C blasting like I'm doing right now). This Black & Blue cider is from freshly pressed apples and infused with blackberries and blueberries. As a result, the color is decidedly purple, and oh so pretty. On the palate, the cider has nice lingering fruit flavors, with lots of apples and berry, just like the name says.

Ciders run the gamut of dry to sweet. I feel the same way about cider as I do Riesling -- sweet is fine, as long as there's enough acidity to prevent it from being cloying. That being said, nearly all of my favorite ciders (and Rieslings) are dry. The Black & Blue is certainly on the dry side of the spectrum, with crisp acidity.

One other thing to note: this is possibly the booziest cider I've ever had, coming in at 6.99%. It packs a punch! (haha)

Bottom Line: Super tasty, bright, fruity, and refreshing. The perfect addition to your 4th of July picnic.

Beer Geekery:
  • BREWER: Julian Hard Cider
  • STYLE: Cider
  • PLACE: Julian, California
  • BOOZE: 6.99%
Where did I get it?  Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage?  Mid Priced

Monday, July 1, 2013

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Beringer White Zinfandel

Beringer White Zinfandel

This week is the fourth of July, so it seemed like the time to bring out the White Zin -- purported as the wine of 'Merica. I know I'd had a White Zin before, but I seriously couldn't remember when. To be honest, it's not a bad as I thought. Don't get me wrong, it's not good either. 

Review: This White Zinfandel is brightly pink and strongly aromatic -- lots of strawberries and cherries. It's sweet like I expected, but still not sickly sweet, with lots and berries on the palate, along with some bubble gum. This wine tastes nothing like wine, but as far as non-wine booze goes, it beats a Natty LightIt's light, fruity, sweet, and easy to drink.

Perhaps this is America's wine since the grapes come from "America" -- no single State is listed since that designation requires a minimum of 75%  of grapes from one State. I was looking for any further information, but this wine, along with Beringer's White Merlot, are actually not listed on their website... Selective marketing?

White Zin may be considered a "gateway wine" for a lot of consumers, based on it's immense popularity. Perhaps some White Zin drinkers out there will feel like branching out!

Food Pairing: Over ice?

Bottom Line:  If you want a wine that tastes more like Kool Aid than wine, here you go. Plus, at $5.99 it's barely more expensive than Kool Aid.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non Vintage
  • PLACE: 'Merica
  • GRAPE: Zinfandel
  • BOOZE: 10%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it?  Shoppers

What's the damage?   Low Price