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!”

Wine with Food

Wine with Food

The wines I’m featuring today are slightly more expensive than my usual under $10 bottles, but since this time of year there are lots of parties (graduations, wedding showers, oh-hell-they’re-out-of-school-where’s-the-wine neighborhood gatherings, etc), a slightly more upscale wine might just be the right ticket. Or, heck, treat yourself; it’s the weekend.

Avant chardKendall Jackson Avant Chardonnay 2012 Santa Rosa, CA  Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; Regularly $14.99, on sale at Vons for $11.99

On the Label:  “Our Kendall Jackson AVANT Chardonnay is crafted in a modern style that delivers a fresh expression of this exceptional grape.  This wine is cold-fermented to retain crisp green apple and lemon drop flavors; the resulting wine is sleek and lively, providing a superb affinity for food.

“To learn more about our sustainable practices and the 100% renewable wind energy we employ to make our wines, visit us at www.kj.com.”

My Take: Well, once again if I’d read the label I wouldn’t have bought the wine. Green apple and lemon drop in the same sentence makes me think of hard candy, or perhaps flavored vodka. Wine is the very last thing that comes to mind. However, this is a nice wine – not, to my taste buds, noticeably a Chardonnay, but a clean and crisp white that goes great with seafoods or light pasta dishes, charcuterie, cheeses, etc. I have to say, while I might not be a fan of KJ’s labels, I am a fan of their wines!

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Plus it has a screw top, and I’m all for easy-open bottles.

DeLoach Vineyards Zinfandel 2011 Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, CAdeloach zin  Alcohol 14.5% by Volume; Regularly $18.99, on sale at Vons for $11.99

On the Label: “As a family-owned winery widely considered a pioneer of Russian River winemaking, we take great pride in producing distinctive wines that highlight the unique nuances of our appellation, while at the same time nourishing the land with sustainable viticulture and minimally intrusive winemaking.  Fruit for this luscious Zinfandel includes grapes from century-old vines in the heart of the Russian River Valley, showcasing the flavor profiles of this unique terroir.  Bold fruit and violet aromas blend enticingly with spice, leading to a delightful finish with a perfect balance of acidity and tannins.”

My Take: Any label that uses the word “unique” more than once needs to have the label re-done. That aside, this is a nice, big wine with a lovely mouthfeel.  Great, once again, with food; spicy Mexican, zesty ribs, or a really well-cooked steak.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ especially at the sale price. I just checked DeLoach Vineyards web page, and it doesn’t look like they’re selling any RRV Zin right now – so if you see it in your store, grab it.

)O(

What wines are you drinking? I’d love to know!

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!”

Holiday Wines

Holiday Wines

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. Today I’m talking about Holiday Wines – those wines I reach for when creating a memorable meal, and under $25.

Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Pinot Noir 2010 Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; $16.99 on sale at Vons

On the Label: “Vineyard selection makes a difference. Our Jackson Estates Grown Pinot Noir delivers black cherry and raspberry fruit with velvet tannins found in our hillside grapes that intertwine with plum and spice from our benchland vineyards.  The wine was aged in French and American oak barrels that impart a hint of vanilla and cedar aromas.”

My Take: Funny, but as I’m writing this my hubby said to me, didn’t you already review that one? Yeah, well maybe! I suppose I need to keep an index of the wines I’ve reviewed. Hrm. At any rate, this wine paired beautifully with a big bowl of Cassoulet (the New Year’s Eve dish of choice). The depth of the wine dealt with the spice of the meats, and all around it was a wonderful pairing. Of course, in my book it’s hard to go wrong with Pinot Noir!

My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable ~ and not a bad price, considering.

Stag’s Leap 2011 Napa Valley Chardonnay Alcohol 14.1% by Volume; $22.99 at Vons

On the Label: “At Stag’s Leap Winery, we appreciate wines that enhance conversation and artisanal foods. This Chardonnay is a story of balance, a delicious intersection of richness and minerality that benefits from the classical standard of viticulture, care of the land, and winemaking that is as relevant today as it was in 1893 when the winery was established.”

My Take: It was Christmas Eve, and I wanted a special wine to go with a simple dinner. I was making home made pasta and a rich garlic cream sauce, with broccoli alongside. So I splurged on this wine, as usually Stag’s Leap is out of my budget. (But it’s Christmas, Mr. Scrooge!)

I really, really liked this wine. It cut through the richness of the creamy sauce, enhanced the flavor of the broccoli, and rounded out the meal beautifully.  Truly a delight to be shared on special occasions.

My Rating: ~ Stay away! This is MY wine, you Slut! Another white to add to the Slut Status! Woo!

 Thanks for dropping by, please know that I LOVE having you here. As is usual, the ratings of these wines are my opinion only and can be affected by the weather and the late night news. Your taste buds will differ.

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

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! 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!

I LOVE hearing from you, so please leave a comment, okay?

White Wine Options for Thanksgiving

White Wine Options for Thanksgiving

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 noted otherwise.

Thanksgiving is a week away, and between now and then, a certain amount of the population will panic about which wine to offer with the meal. I’d like to say that if you’re pouring wine from the minute your guests hit your doorstep, it won’t matter what you pour with the turkey since everyone’s already a) happily sloshed or b) fighting with Strange Uncle Bob or c) stone cold sober and writing a blog post about everyone else.

However. Today I’m taking a look at three different white wines which you might choose to grace your holiday table.

Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay 2010  Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; $11.99 at Pavilions.

On the Label: “The rewards of patience are remarkable. For three decades, my family has nurtured coveted vineyards along California’s cool coast. Our Jackson Estates Grown 100% Chardonnay is bursting with tropical flavors such as pineapple, mango and papaya along with citrus notes that explode in your mouth. Crisp, green apple flavors and a smooth, creamy texture add even more depth. To balance this intensity, we age the wine in small oak barrells. I’m very proud of this wine. I hope you enjoy it.”
-Founder, Jess S. Jackson

My Take: This is an excellent wine. (On the label, I wrote “perfect”.)  I’m not wild about the exploding in my mouth that Mr. Jackson mentions; as a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure nothing exploded in my mouth when I drank this wine, as I have an intact set of teeth and my tongue still works. But I believe you’ll find this an excellent pairing with turkey. It’s got depth and just a hint of oak; it’s NOT a “big, buttery chardonnay”. I don’t think you can find those anymore as they have, alas, fallen out of fashion. At $11.99 it’s over my $10 a bottle price range, but that extra two bucks is totally worth it.

My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable ~ Because I haven’t yet found a white wine that has earned Slut status.

Firestone Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Santa Ynez Valley, California Alcohol 13.5% by Volume  $6.99  at Pavilions.

On The Label: As Santa Ynez Valley’s first estate winery, Firestone helped pioneer viticulture in this quiet, rural area. Our 2010 Sauvignon Blanc is fresh, crisp and bright with passion fruit, lime zest, grapefruit and newly cut grass. www.firestonewine.com

My Take: I’m SO glad I didn’t read the label before drinking this wine. I don’t know about you, but I have no wish to drink wine and eat newly cut grass (oh, did I read that wrong? My bad…). That said, this is a lovely and very easy to drink wine that will cut through the heavy courses of the typical American Thanksgiving dinner. It’s bright and clean, with very little aftertaste. Though do yourself a favor and have some potatoes after your bite of cranberry sauce, and before you sip – you’ll save yourself from a terrible collision of flavors.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~

Estancia Pinot Grigio 2011 Alcohol 13% by Volume; under $10 at Pavilions

On The Label: “Simply put, Estancia Pinot Grigio is better than all the rest. The grapes grow in such bliss – warm days and cool nights on the Pacific coast – it could strike the average Pinot Grigio with envy. You’ll love it for its zesty, intense flavors and will remember it long after the recycling has gone out.”

 My Take: Pinot Grigio, to my taste buds, is a cozier wine than Sauvignon Blanc, even though both are clean and crisp. They both pair with food beautifully and are light on the palate, so it really depends on your personal taste preference.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ 

 So there you have it, three possibilities for white wines at your Thanksgiving Table. I’ll be hitting up on the Rose and Red Wines next week, so be sure to come back and check it out!

Which wine do YOU like to serve at Thanksgiving?

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! ~

Demon Soul, Blood Dreams and Demon Hunt are all available for the Kindle! 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!