It’s Barbecue Season!

It’s Barbecue Season!

~ I’m working hard on my next novel and didn’t have time to write up a new wine blog – but please enjoy this reprint from last year about this time. Wines to go with barbecue season! ~

Today I’m talking about two big reds that are a little more expensive than what I usually highlight. In California, you’re just as likely to have a spicy Mexican recado on your brisket as you are a sweet and tangy southern barbecue sauce. At times, I’ll admit, a cold beer or ale goes a long way with the Mexican flavors. But a big, bold red wine is almost always good.

kjKendall Jackson Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Sonoma County Alcohol, 14.5% by Volume  $15.99 on Sale at Vons (normally $26.00)

On the Label: “Our Grand Reserve Cabernet is crafted with grapes hand-selected from specific areas of our Jackson Estates Grown vineyards on Alexander Mountain estate and other nearby properties.  Growing vineyards on these mountains and hillsides has produced intense, concentrated grapes.  This Cabernet has cassis, currant and black cherry tones with enticing aromas of mocha, nutmeg and cinnamon that are the efforts of 17 months of barrel aging.” – Jess S. Jackson, Founder

My Take:

This is a wine drinker’s wine. By which I mean, it’s not an easy sipping wine unless you REALLY like complex wines. Which I do. You want to serve this wine with the meal, and preferably before your guests have imbibed too much. With it’s deep garnet color, smoky rich scent, and a vibrant taste it’s a wine that deserves attention. It will stand up to almost anything you toss on the barbecue.

Or, if you’re like me and want to give cooking a pass, you can serve it with rich cheeses and crackers and some salume as you watch the stars come out while having a summer picnic. Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you can’t drink a big wine!

My Rating: ~ Very, VERY Drinkable ~ though pricy! Watch for sales at your favorite grocery store.

J. Lohr Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2010  Seven Oaks Estates, alcohol 13.5%jlohr by Volume $12.99 at Vons on sale.

On the Label: “Our Seven Oaks Cabernet is grown in our vineyards in the Estrella Hills area of Paso Robles, one of only three appellations in California that produce “world class” Cabernet Sauvignon. The Seven Oaks Cabernet has aromas and bouquets of cherry blueberry, violets, and vanilla.  The flavors are lusciously full, balanced by firm tannins. Serve it at 65 to 68 degrees F with grilled or roasted red meats.

“J. Lohr Estates wines are best characterized by their intense flavor and remarkable balance. Jerry Lohr practices the French system of planting each grape variety in its ideal appellation.  With over 3,000 acres of vineyards, quality control is ensured from selection of optimum rootstock and clones through all facets of artisan winemaking.  Each of these steps is focused on one goal…flavor second to none.”

My Take: My husband and I have a fondness for the J. Lohr label, as it was one of the first, affordable, bottles of wine that we remember ordering in a restaurant that wasn’t a half carafe of the house wine.  Now of course, J.Lohr is up there in price in restaurants, but you can usually find it in the grocery stores for between $10 and $15 a bottle (which puts it out of my usual price range).

The wine? Juicy. Rich. A hint of oak. Perfect with a nice steak, grilled chicken, vegetables. If there’s any left after the meal, enjoy with a chocolate truffle. Your mouth will thank you. This is an easy wine to drink, and will likely appeal to a broader spectrum of people. I enjoyed it, but for me, this isn’t my first go-to wine.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ A good bottle for that intimate barbecue.

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! ~

~oOo~

My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!”

Chardonnay, or Cabernet?

Chardonnay, or Cabernet?

Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and while I’m not suggesting to run out and buy her wine (I’m suspecting she’d prefer your company more than a bottle of wine), here are a couple that would go great with brunch or dinner, depending.

Would you describe life as a Cabernet, or a Chardonnay? Me, I rather prefer to think of life as an Adventure movie. With maybe a shot of whiskey for the heroine now and then, lol.  Anyway, here are two wines that don’t break the pocketbook.

la cremaLa Crema Sonoma Coast 2012 Chardonnay, Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; Regularly 19.99, on Sale for $11.99 at Vons

On the Label: “Cool climate vineyards. Artisan Winemaking. Exquisite Chardonnay.”

My Take: As far as labels go, I like this one. Just the facts and under 10 words. As for the wine? Smooth. Creamy, but not oaked; neither does it have a steely taste. This is a rare Chardonnay that hearkens back to the bigger, buttery, oaky Chards without being big, buttery, or oaky. It was fantastic with roasted chicken this week.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Normally, this is an $18 or $19 bottle of wine; so if you can get it on sale, do so. Perfect for a Mother’s Day picnic or lunch.

Guenoc Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Est’d 1888; Contains less than 15% Guenoc Valleyguenoc_cabsauv_11new__72382__60109.1358534344.360.360 Grapes. Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; Regularly 10.99, on Sale at Vons for $8.99

On the Label: “Cabernet Sauvignon is the noblest of grape varieties and Guenoc California Cabernet shows ‘respect’ by putting the fruit front and center.  Classic red and black cherry are surrounded by cushiony tannins. The coronation is a whisper of vanilla oak on the finish…all hail king Cab!”

My Take: Um, really? “cushiony tannins”? This is another winemaker that needs a hand in their label copy. Less is more, people, unless you go over the top (like Smoking Loon, still my favorite label of all time). Once again I’m glad that I don’t read the back labels of wine bottles (unlike the back cover of books – those I DO read before I buy). Still and all, label aside, this was a tasty but not overly memorable wine.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ and like I said, not overly memorable. Still, not every sip has to be swooning ecstasy, just like every kiss doesn’t need to be swooning ecstasy. Am I right?

~ Until the next time, cheers! ~

~oOo~

Demon Soul and Demon Hunt are available for the Kindle and Kobo! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!”

A Rose and a Red…

A Rose and a Red…

Me again. Wines that won’t break your pocketbook but that are tasty. (Or that you should really stay away from.) These are both under $10, though I don’t recall the actual price. And I’m talking California prices, so if it’s a California wine and you’re elsewhere in the country, so sorry. You’re probably paying more.

La VieilleLa Vieille Ferme Recolte 2012 Rose Wine Alcohol 13.5% by Volume – Southern Rhone Valley

On the Label: “The Perrin family are the producers of this excellent rose wine.  The vines from the appellation are planted on the hills of the renowned Mont Ventoux, and benefit from great sunlight and fairly cool temperatures for the Southern Rhone Valley.  The Blend is made from Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault and the wines have a beautiful rose color, a floral nose with hints of aniseed and brown sugar.  The mouth is on notes of white flowers, cherries and fruit drops.  The finish is fresh and balanced.  Winemakers reviews, recipe ideas, for all details, go here.” (My thanks to Pull The Cork for the photo. Go check them out!)

My Take: Okay, well – the label is obnoxious. Really? You’re gonna tell me how it smells AND tastes? Maybe it’s the translation, but when I read this I got irritated. (As if you couldn’t tell, lol!) But it’s a French wine from the Rhone Valley. I usually like those wines, and this fit into my price range, so I tried it.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Though I will say its not that different from a stringent (i.e.,  no oak) white wine. Fine when well-chilled – just don’t expect sweet from this wine.

[Noble Vines] 337 Cabernet Sauvignon  2011 Lodi, California 14.5% Alcohol by LodiVolume

On the Label: “Born in France…Raised in America. Not all wines are created equal. Noble Vines 337 is the most coveted Cabernet Sauvignon vine stock in Bordeaux, France.  These rare vines are prized for their concentrated flavor and thrive in the red soils and cobblestones of our Lodi vineyard.

“This wine exudes seductive atoms of mocha and dark cherry followed by intense flavors of ripe blackberry and spice.  Enjoy with savory pasta, pot roast, thick steaks and creamy cheeses.”

My Take: Richer than I had suspected it would be. I’ll definitely try this wine again. It has a bunch of potential, even if it’s a bit pretentious. I wanted to try a Lodi wine, and I’m glad I chose this one.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ I keep searching for the Very Drinkable wines for you, my dears! But this will definitely do, in the meantime.

)O(

What’s your favorite?

Two Reds To Start Us Off…

Two Reds To Start Us Off…

Hey, all! It’s been a long time, but Wine Fridays are back! I’m always on the lookout for wines that are tasty, easily available, and won’t break the bank. Below is my honest opinion of the wines I buy and drink; they are all available for under ten dollars, unless specified. (My rating system is at the very bottom of this post.)

belle ambianceBelle Ambiance Cabernet Sauvignon, 2012 Manteca, CA  Usually $9.99, on sale for $6.99 at Vons; Alcohol 13.0% by Volume

On The Label:  “Belle Ambiance is a beautiful spot nestled in one of our family vinehards.  During our 80 years of winemaking, we’ve enjoyed many perfect moments here under the shade of its ancient oak tree relaxing, watching the sun set, and basking in the moment with friends and a glass of wine.  We created this luscious, rich, indulgent Cabernet Sauvignon to share that feeling with you.” BelleAmbianceVineyards.com

MyTake: I liked that the label wasn’t too into wine-babble; it struck me as a family-friendly label, lol.  However, this was a meh wine to me. Either it hasn’t reached its peak yet (being a 2012), or it has passed its peak; it wasn’t memorable for being big and rich, nor was it past its prime. This is a new wine to me, and maybe I just need to try it again. For the price, and maybe for a second bottle at dinner, it’s fine and won’t upset anyone; but it’s nothing to brag about, either.

They’re owned by the Delicato Family Vineyards, and have a raft of wines under $10: for more on them, go here.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Though there are other, more enjoyable wines out there for the same price.

Rosenblum Cellars Vintner’s Cuvee XXXV Zinfandel  Sonoma, CA Usually $13.99, on sale $6.79 StBar1_A2at Vons; Alcohol 14.5% by Volume

On the Label:  Zinfandel is our signature wine, and with rich and layered flavors, it’s an excellent introduction to the Rosenblum Cellars style of wine making.  We designate an anniversary number to each Zinfandel Cuvee blend, honoring our history with ‘America’s Heritage Grape’.  Kick back around the table and enjoy this wine’s intense and robust flavors.  Notes of blackberry, wild raspberry and cassis make it a delicious complement to hearty pasta and barbecue dishes.” rosenblumcellars.com

My Take: This was a lovely Zinfandel blend that perfectly accompanied the honey-balsamic pulled pork sliders I made last weekend. Its richness cut through the sweet-sour of the pork, and worked well with the purple cabbage Asian slaw side dish. It is most definitely a wine you want to sip with dinner, or at least with snacks, either in front of a fire (for those of you buried in snow back east) or while watching the sun set (for us west coast types). It feels young, still, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it ages. (Ha! As if I can keep a bottle that long…!)

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Especially at this price (which I’m guessing won’t be long, since it’s such an odd price point)!  As soon as my paycheck clears, I’ll be grabbing a couple more bottles of this, just in case we grill some steaks this weekend.

What are you drinking these days? Does the weather outside change what you’re drinking inside? Sound off, and let me know.

Until next time – Cheers!

)O(

My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!”  All opinions are my own. You’re welcome, lol.

Two Reds for BBQ Season

Two Reds for BBQ Season

In these days of high unemployment and wild uncertainty, 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 shown otherwise.

Ah, June. In my neck of the world, that means a marine layer in the morning, and sun in the afternoon. Every now and then heat blasts down. But since we’re in So Cal, it’s also (and always) barbecue weather.

Today I’m talking about two big reds that are a little more expensive than what I usually highlight. In California, you’re just as likely to have a spicy Mexican recado on your brisket as you are a sweet and tangy southern barbecue sauce. At times, I’ll admit, a cold beer or ale goes a long way with the Mexican flavors. But a big, bold red wine is almost always good.

kjKendall Jackson Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Sonoma County Alcohol, 14.5% by Volume  $15.99 on Sale at Vons (normally $26.00)

On the Label: “Our Grand Reserve Cabernet is crafted with grapes hand-selected from specific areas of our Jackson Estates Grown vineyards on Alexander Mountain estate and other nearby properties.  Growing vineyards on these mountains and hillsides has produced intense, concentrated grapes.  This Cabernet has cassis, currant and black cherry tones with enticing aromas of mocha, nutmeg and cinnamon that are the efforts of 17 months of barrel aging.” – Jess S. Jackson, Founder

My Take:

This is a wine drinker’s wine. By which I mean, it’s not an easy sipping wine unless you REALLY like complex wines. Which I do. You want to serve this wine with the meal, and preferably before your guests have imbibed too much. With it’s deep garnet color, smoky rich scent, and a vibrant taste it’s a wine that deserves attention. It will stand up to almost anything you toss on the barbecue.

Or, if you’re like me and want to give cooking a pass, you can serve it with rich cheeses and crackers and some salume as you watch the stars come out while having a summer picnic. Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you can’t drink a big wine!

My Rating: ~ Very, VERY Drinkable ~ though pricy! Watch for sales at your favorite grocery store.

J. Lohr Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2010  Seven Oaks Estates, alcohol 13.5%jlohr by Volume $12.99 at Vons on sale.

On the Label: “Our Seven Oaks Cabernet is grown in our vineyards in the Estrella Hills area of Paso Robles, one of only three appellations in California that produce “world class” Cabernet Sauvignon. The Seven Oaks Cabernet has aromas and bouquets of cherry blueberry, violets, and vanilla.  The flavors are lusciously full, balanced by firm tannins. Serve it at 65 to 68 degrees F with grilled or roasted red meats.

“J. Lohr Estates wines are best characterized by their intense flavor and remarkable balance. Jerry Lohr practices the French system of planting each grape variety in its ideal appellation.  With over 3,000 acres of vineyards, quality control is ensured from selection of optimum rootstock and clones through all facets of artisan winemaking.  Each of these steps is focused on one goal…flavor second to none.”

My Take: My husband and I have a fondness for the J. Lohr label, as it was one of the first, affordable, bottles of wine that we remember ordering in a restaurant that wasn’t a half carafe of the house wine.  Now of course, J.Lohr is up there in price in restaurants, but you can usually find it in the grocery stores for between $10 and $15 a bottle (which puts it out of my usual price range).

The wine? Juicy. Rich. A hint of oak. Perfect with a nice steak, grilled chicken, vegetables. If there’s any left after the meal, enjoy with a chocolate truffle. Your mouth will thank you. This is an easy wine to drink, and will likely appeal to a broader spectrum of people. I enjoyed it, but for me, this isn’t my first go-to wine.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ A good bottle for that intimate barbecue.

Next Week: Father’s Day Drinkables, from Sodas to Beer and Beyond.

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! ~

~oOo~

Demon Soul and Demon Hunt are available for the Kindle and Kobo! Have you fallen into the Caine Brothers’ world yet?

My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!”