Wine for Summer

In these days of high unemployment and global financial crisis, it’s nice to relax with a bottle of wine that doesn’t break your pocketbook. I’m here to sort out the memorable from the truly awful, and each bottle is under $10 – unless mentioned otherwise.

First off, my apologies for slacking off in the wine post department. I will do my best to keep up, as it’s a joy to do (well, someone has to drink the wine!). Today I’ve got a white wine and three reds. Some may seem to “big” for summer drinking, but I’m always up for a big red wine.

photo of a bottle of beringer wineBeringer Chenin Blanc America’s Favorite 2010 Alcohol 11.5% by volume; $6.99 at Vons.

On the Label: “Since 1976, Beringer has crafted award-winning wines in Napa Valley, and this Chenin Blanc is no exception. Crisp and refreshing, bursting with the aromas and flavors of fresh fruit, America’s favorite Chenin Blanc is well suited on its own or as the perfect complement to a meal. If you enjoy our Chenin Blanc, try our Moscato. Serve chilled.

Please visit us at beringer.com .”

My take: Perfect for a hot summer night. Chilled, with ice, or with ice and soda water for a spritzer, it’s a lovely, lightly sweet, satisfying wine at a low alcohol content (so you can enjoy more of it).

My Rating:  ~ Very Drinkable ~ whether you put ice in it or not!

Cline Zinfandel California 2008  Alcohol 14% by Volume; $11.99 at Vons, on sale.photo of Cline Zinfandel

On the Label: “Meticuous farming. Mature fruit. Handmade wines. Severe selection. Master blending. From repeated tasting of the fruit in the vineyard to seeing the grapes come through the hopper, we still do it the old-fashioned way.  We think it shows in the bottle, the only thing that matters. Abundant cherry and vanilla nuances fill the nose and follow through to mouth-filling dark berry fruit and spice. Supple tannins linger with a smooth finish. Try this wine with penne putanesca, grilled steak or chili con carne.”

My take: At the beginning, this bottle had a slightly raisiny taste. I’m not sure if, after four years in the bottle, it was past its prime already, or if it just hadn’t opened up yet. Sure enough, after half an hour had passed, the raisiny flavor had disappeared, leaving a lovely, deeply colored Zinfandel that had lots of fruit. It ended up being quite a tasty wine.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Not higher, because that raisiny taste took some time to wash away.

photo of bottle of Blackstone red blendBlackstone Winemaker’s Select Red Blend 2010 California Alcohol 13.5% by Volume. $8.99 at Vons.

On the Label: “Our Blackstone red wine is produced from vineyards located throughout California’s finest grape growing regions. After harvest, each vineyard lot is carefully developed to capture its distinctive flavors and aromatic qualities.

“Our wine is a blend of California’s best red wine varietals and emulates Blackstone’s style; smooth, flavorful and balanced. This wine is soft and silky with flavors of ripe plum, blackberry and dark chocolate with a long, lush finish.”

My Take: I enjoyed this wine. It wasn’t bombastic, as some red blends can get; it wasn’t sweet, either, another possibility with red blends. It was perfect with grilled pizza and a salad on a hot summer night. So far, all the Blackstone wines I’ve tasted have been right on the money.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~

Pascual Toso Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Barrancas Vineyards Mendoza, Argentina   14% Alcohol by Volume; $24.99 on Sale at Duke of Bourbon (local wine & liquor shop).

On the Label: “This wine is aged in small oak barrels at Barrancas Winery situated in Maipu, Province of Mendoza, one of the prime wine producing areas of Argentina. It has an unique cherry color mature fruits, black pepper, coffee and mint. Well integrated with vanilla wich (sic) comes from 12 months of oak ageing (sic) . A very well structured wine, with a nice body and a lengthy finish.”

My Take: I don’t remember why I bought this bottle of celebratory wine; but I was so glad I did. We had it with steaks and smashed potatoes and broccoli, and it really made a good meal fantastic. I did pour it off into a carafe, and let it air for about half an hour. The  wait was rewarding, as the wine was smooth, and rich, and complemented the steak beautifully.

Every now and then, you just need to celebrate. If you can find this wine under $30, you’re doing good!

My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable ~

Do you have a wine you’d like me to try? Drop me a comment, and let’s discuss!

As usual, this is just my honest opinion and depend upon my mood, the weather, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly

My Rating System: Undrinkable, Barely Drinkable, Drinkable, Very Drinkable, and the ever popular Stay away! This is MY wine, you slut!

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8 Responses to Wine for Summer

  1. Emma says:

    I’ll keep my eye out for the white wines you mentioned.

  2. Sarah says:

    Wine and pizza…what a great idea! I think there’s a dinner menu for tonight all ready and waiting. Thanks!

  3. Jill Archer says:

    Thanks for the tips, Christine! I’ve been fairly happy with the Blackstone wines I’ve tried, but haven’t had the red blend yet. I’ll keep an eye out for the other ones too. Red, white — it’s all good! :-D

    • Christine says:

      We found the Blackstone Chardonnay while we were up in Monterey last spring – it was the perfect wine to have with a bowl of clam chowder as we watched the waves beneath us. You’re right – red, white, it IS all good!

  4. Julie Glover says:

    I know I enjoy the Beringer wines overall, but I don’t know if I’ve tried the Chenin Blanc. I will put Blackstone on my list as well.

    I’ve been trying to drink more reds (better for your heart), but I’m still at a loss with many of them. I’m wondering if you have a good suggestion for Shiraz.

    • Christine says:

      Julie, try Clos du Bois North Coast Shiraz. I tasted a 2007, but I’m sure the 2009 and the 2010 are just as good (and probably less expensive).

      Jacob’s Creek Reserve Shiraz is Australian, and regularly goes for $14.99 a bottle. But it’s totally worth it – a terrific wine to share. I first found this wine on a wine list, and was pleasantly surprised to pick up a bottle in the grocery store.

      Anthropology Shiraz is also a good wine – at $14.99, but usually on sale at Von’s. Another Aussie wine.

      Let me know if any of these fit the bill!

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’ve been pleasantly surprised with this Shiraz: http://www.hitimewine.net/SHOOFLY-09-SZ-AUSSIE-750.html

      I also drink the D’Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz quite a bit.
      http://www.hitimewine.net/D-ARENBERG-08-SZ-FT-750.html

      p.s. See what happens when we have a “pimp and promote” over at More Cowbell?? I find out that you’re a fellow wine gal, Chirstine. :-)

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