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.
In the Northern Hemisphere, December means Winter. This year, even here in sunny So Cal it’s been chilly. We’re used to 70 degree days, not 52 degree days. And nights below 40 degrees? Get out of town! So here are three red wines to warm you up on those chilly nights.
Found Object Carmenere, 2010 Colchagua Valley, Chile Under $10 at Trader Joe’s. 13.5% alcohol by volume
On the Label: “Context, it can change everything. Consider, for a moment, a wine among the crowd – yet not of the crowd What could be taken for granted (grape juice) becomes special when repurposed into something thought provoking. Consider this Carmenere worthy of your consideration.”
My Take: Okay, the label’s kinda weird. Like maybe the translator missed out on a few words. But at least it doesn’t tell us what to taste in the wine, and I like it for that reason.
If you’re not familiar with the varietal Carmenere, I can tell you that it was originally planted in the Medoc region of Bordeaux in France; but little of it remains there now. The largest producer of Carmenere is Chile, with a few acres planted in other places such as California, Walla Walla, Washington, and eastern Italy.
The wine – silky. Not as easy a wine as a Pinot Noir, but not as in-your-face as a Zin or a Cabernet can be. It was the right wine, and went well with Turkey Pot Pie. This is my first time with this varietal (okay – that I can remember), and I really enjoyed it. It’s going on my list. The good part? Chilean wines are still low in price, and the quality is usually very high.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ It’s something a little different, and any discerning hostess would be pleased to receive this as a gift when you go to your holiday party this year.
Viriato 2008 Tinta de Toro, product of Spain. Under $8 at Trader Joe’s. Alcohol 14.5% by volume.
On the Label: “A modern well balanced Toro wine, aged for three months in French oak barrels with hints of mature red berries and notes of leather.”
My Take: Viriato is a Tempranillo – and (for my sake) translating again, similar to a Zinfandel. This wine is a lovely wine, great for sipping (would go fabulous with cheese and dips!) or with a juicy steak. This is not a “thinker’s” wine – not a wine you want to contemplate too much. It’s easy on the palate (but doesn’t “tease” your tastebuds) and has a high alcohol content – what more do you want to stir up your party? (Just sayin’.)
My Rating: ~ Good ~ Again, something a little different for your party-giving friends.
Geyser Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Alexander Valley Alcohol 13.5% by volume Regularly $17.00; $11.49 at Vons on Sale.
On the Label: “In the heart of Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley we blend our wins from small lots to fully express the essence of the varietal in each particular vineyard block. Winemaker Mich Schroeter and his team are passionate about crafting wines that engage the senses and inspire the soul. Taste profile: Black cherry and blackbery flavors and mocha nuances with a long, rich finish. Enjoy with: Grilled or roasted beef, sauteed mushrooms and mature cheeses.”
My Take: I’m an unabashed fan of Geyser Peak, and have been since my travels to Sonoma County in the late 1980’s. We had this wine with steak, smashed potatoes and tiny asparagus and it was a lovely accompaniment to the meal. If you can get this at under $12 in your neighborhood, do – it’s a great price for a really lovely wine.
My Rating: ~Very Good~ Take this to a party only if you need to make a good impression. Otherwise, keep it at home and enjoy it with those you love. Or, you know – open it at the party and keep the bottle for yourself and one or two select friends!
Thanks so much for dropping in. Remember, these are my experiences based on my taste buds, how many near-misses the Eldest son had while driving that day, and how high the tides were. Your wine-drinking experience will undoubtedly vary. Remember – drink responsibly! Make sure you take along a designated driver to your holiday party.
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The Holidays are here – time to buy your copy of DEMON SOUL! Makes a great gift for that reader in the family, lol!
Unemployment is still high, the politicians are still wrangling, and Friday comes as we all breathe a sigh of relief. I’m here to talk about wines – the good, the bad, the truly awful – and better yet, they’re affordable. Most are under $10 and can be found in your local grocery store.
With Thanksgiving coming up, and a weekend of wine tasting under my belt (that’s another post…), I’ve got a couple of Rose´s to discuss. It was a hot topic at the wineries, with many wineries featured a Rose´ to my surprise, because those same wineries didn’t have the Rose´s out in March. So between now and Thanksgiving, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on Rose´s both from the grocery store, and from the wineries. Because it’s never too early to plan the wine for the meal.
Cypher Pistil Paso Robles, 2010, $17.60 at the winery Alcohol 14.8% by volume – pre-released only for club members due to limited production (I’m a Freak Club Member)
On the Label: “Eclectic Rose Wine Produced & Bottled by Cypher Winery Paso Robles, CA cypherwinery.com
My Take: I loved this wine this past weekend, when I visted the winery. And maybe a tiny part of me bought it because my hubby likes Rose´ and he wasn’t with me. OR, maybe I bought it because it was the first of only two wineries on Sunday, and I was still drunk from the day and night before. Whatever….
The bottle is cool; the front “label” is on the inside, pink snakeskin with the word CYPHER down the middle (what you see in the picture above is the back label). The color of the wine is a pale pink – the blush of a fair-skinned bride, or the color of dawn on a cold winter morning. The scent – is vaguely flowery and alcoholic. The taste? Um…like a steel-casked Chardonnay. Kind of. Maybe.
We had it with turkey-sage meatloafettes and smashed potatoes. The hubby raved about the potatoes, liked the meatloafettes, and didn’t comment on the wine until I asked him. And he said it did its job – cleaned his palate between bites, but otherwise kind of bland. And I couldn’t disagree. Maybe it’s the high alcohol content that is overpowering the delicacy of this wine? I don’t know.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Such a disappointment overall. I don’t believe Rose´ improves with age (but I don’t know that for a fact); if I head out to Cypher next spring, I’ll definitely give it another taste, since I have a pre-release bottle. If I’d been totally aware of that, I’d have suggested to hubby that we wait to open this bottle. But then again, life’s too short to save the good wine.
Penrosa Tempranillo Rose´2009, product of Spain. Fresh and Easy, on closeout at $3.99. Alcohol 11.5% by volume.
On the Label: “Spain is producing some of the finest rose´wines in the world due to their beautifully ripe grapes and new modern winemaking practices. This rose has been made to be the perfect al fresco refresher on long hot summer days.”
My Take: I’m a fan of this wine, and yet – having it side by side with the Cypher, I have to admit that this is a juvenile wine. Young, bursting with fruit, flirty, it is unpretentious and – as advertised – perfect on a hot summer day when you’re sitting by the pool. It makes the Cypher taste much more sophisticated, but some days you just want to sip strawberries in a glass, you know? The low alcohol content is nice, too.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~
Um…it just dawned on me that I might have reviewed this wine earlier. If so, well then…there you go!
All in all, I don’t think either of these is a good wine for Turkey Day. I much prefer white to start with as I cook, and then switching to a good Pinot Noir – my comfort wine, if you will – to sip with the meal.
But luckily there are a few weeks to go before that all important Thanksgiving meal. I’ll fling some more choices your way as we go along.
As usual, this is just my honest opinion and will totally depend upon my mood, the songs hubby is playing on the guitar as I write, and what bills I’ve just paid. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Get your copy today!
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. Please note, however, that the prices I quote are what I paid at my local store; your pricing will probably differ.
Stonehedge Reserve Petite Syrah, 2007 Special Vineyard Select – Alcohol 14.5% by volume. Cellars located in Arroyo Grande, California. $9.99 at Vons.
The label was uninformative, but a couple of wine sites – the Vino File particularly – had the scoop I needed. Surprisingly, the website for Stonehedge didn’t show the Reserve Petite Syrah 2007 at all.
This Wine Judging site gave it a gold medal. Another site I didn’t bookmark said the $10 price was about right for the quality. So there you go…
My Take: It had a nice juiciness, plus a zing of pepper that I love. If you’re a SWEET red wine drinker, this is not the wine for you. If you like medium-sized reds with a bit of a bite, you would probably like this. Plus, if you give it as a gift, the whole “Reserve” on the label makes it look more expensive than it is – and the taste doesn’t detract from the label. A win-win!
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ I guess I’m getting picky as I taste. I’ve got a few favorites, and this, sad to say, didn’t make my “I’d buy it again” list. But that doesn’t detract from it’s tastiness!
Bear Flag California Smooth Wine Blend Modesto, California Alcohol 12% by volume Blend of Tempranillo, Touriga, Zinfandel and Alicante Bouschet (I know – don’t know a couple of these, either!!!) $6.99 at Vons.
On the Label: It’s wild. Check out the website. The label, plus it’s low price, is why I picked it up.
Characterized as closer to the “sweet” scale, this is a “sweet” red that I enjoyed. In fact, I was surprised to see they characterized it as such. It was an easy-sipper and went very well with the clean-out-the-veggie-bin soup I made yesterday.
Easy. Not a big wine; if I had to put only one varietal to it, I’d put it close to a Merlot. The label is cool, and they have other blends I’m hoping Vons will carry so I can try them out.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~ Again, it wasn’t a breathless wine – but it’s a solid choice for that rushed evening when you’re really looking to sip something as you make those burgers. Or chicken patties. I will say you won’t regret it!
As usual, this is just my honest opinion and will depend upon my mood, the meal I just ate, and what cycle the moon is in. Your taste buds will differ.
~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~
Demon Soul is available for the Kindle and the Nook! Have you read it yet?