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 otherwise noted.
I’ve got two rich red wines to discuss today – one Pinot Noir from a vintner I’ve never heard of, and a red wine blend from an old friend. Settle back and enjoy!
Barrel Ranch Pinot Noir, 2009 Terravant Wine Company, Buellton, California Exclusively for Fresh N’ Easy Neighborhood Market Inc. $9.99 on Special at Fresh N’ Easy
On the Label: “Ranches once dominated the cool regions of California’s expansive coastlines, built by settlers in pursuit of the American Dream. Today many of these heritage ranches are surrounded by the finest wine vineyards, each quietly paying tribute to the early settlers by continuing the very dream they once established.
“This stylish Pinot Noir excites with bright red cherry and earthy aromas. Elegant and complex flavors of newly picked raspberry, ripe strawberry and hints of locally grown mushrooms complete this showcase of a classic fine wine.”
My Take: I liked this wine. It has a warmth to it, a big – yet not too big – mouth, and is a come-sit-down-relax-and-sip wine. It’s a, you’ve-had-a-hard-day wine. Undemanding, yet full of flavor and just the right bite of spice (not too heavy, I swear), it’s another go-to pinot noir for me. From what I read online at Fresh & Easy Wine Reviews, it’s an exclusive to their stores so don’t go looking for it elsewhere. I’m not a fan of the label, though – I just had fresh strawberries and raspberries for lunch – the best strawberries I’ve had all year, too – and I didn’t taste either of those flavors in the wine. Please, wineries, don’t tell me what I SHOULD be tasting! Let me figure it out for myself.
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ But don’t look for it in your local grocery store!
Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Summation Red Wine Blend California 2008 $9.99 at Vons
On the Label: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Inspired by Bordeaux style wines, Summation blends classic red varietals into a beautifully layered, complex whole. Smoother than Cabernet Sauvignon, richer than Merlot, more balanced than Zinfandel, this red wine blend offers intriguing flavors and aromas; roasted coffee, dark chocolate, pomegranate and black cherry intertwine to offer a multi-layered mouthfeel and sumptuous texture.” –Founder, Jess S. Jackson
My Take: I liked this wine. Not as much as the Barrel Ranch Pinot, but it was a nice wine, complex and yet balanced. Maybe deeper in flavor than the Pinot. It went very well with grilled hamburgers (a rare treat now at our house) and smashed potatoes. This is another far too chatty label, telling me what I should taste in the wine. So I do loathe labels like this one. However, it doesn’t stop me from liking the wine!
My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~
Next week, I’ll post some terrific recipes (in advance of Thanksgiving) for mulled wine. Stay tuned!
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! ~
One more thing…
DEMON SOUL was nominated for an award! Go check it out!
While I was at Cypher a couple of weekends ago, the sexy ex-computer-geek-turned-tasting-room-guru T, let me in on the secret of Primitivo. Primitivo is a grape identical to Zinfandel and grown mostly in Italy, Argentina, and Chile.
Bells went off in my head. No WONDER I was drawn to Primitivo! I’d found it at Fresh & Easy, for $5.99 a bottle, and couldn’t understand how I could so love that wine. But it was hiding its true colors; and now that I know it’s a Zinfandel by another name, I’m SO on board. (Of course, the last time I went to Fresh & Easy, they didn’t have Primitivo any longer. Sigh.)
Tuesday night at Casa Ashworth, the Santa Ana winds blew. Hard. They blew hard enough to force our double front doors open wide; they blew hard enough to take lots of white picket fencing off my front fence, leaving an already-worn fence looking like an old woman’s mouth with teeth missing. The winds blew so hard, that it toppled – and split – a 30+ year old tree, narrowly missing landing on the corner of my bedroom. The power went out. I was late to work, disoriented by the winds I could hear in my sleep, and grumpy from lack of coffee.
Landscape with Windblown Trees, by Vincent Van Gogh
That afternoon, with the power still out, I found true parafin lamp oil (the other stuff is crap, don’t buy it unless it says PARAFIN lamp oil) and some new wicks for our many oil lamps. My boss, sensing my uneasiness, let me go while it was still light out, so the hubby and I could get our act together before darkness descended.
Yes, we have battery lanterns. But which would you rather gather around – the mellow yellow light of an oil lamp, or the harsh, blue light of a flourescent camping light? Yeah, us too.
By the time darkness descended, I was happily puttering about in the kitchen with three lamps burning so I could see what I was chopping, what was going into the pot on the stove, and what I needed out of the fridge. (Thank goodness for gas stoves!) I made soup from leftover veggies in the fridge, plus the rest of a Costco chicken. For those who want to know, I sipped on the last of a bottle of La Gioiosia Pinot Grigio ($7.99 a bottle at Fresh & Easy, tiny bubbles but it’s NOT a prosecco), and we opened a bottle of Rose from Adelaida to go with the soup – and that was yummy!
But there was the sense of primitivo about our night. Every room I went into, I flipped on the light – only to remember, too late. We made sure we had flashlights with fresh batteries easily available (our family’s prediliction lately is for headlamps – keeps your hands free), we charged our phones in our cars as we drove during the day, and used them as our morning alarms. It was nice, if slightly surreal. It wasn’t cold and we had water and gas; we weren’t that disabled by lack of electricity (except the hubby and the youngest didn’t get their NaNo words in, and grumped about it all night).
To revel in the winds and the darkness, at about ten I went outside. The winds had died to mere puffs of air; the stars were half-obscured by the bright quarter-moon. And the silence I’d been expecting?
Filled with the hum of generators. I much preferred my lamps.
Next week I promise I’ll get a wine blog together – this week, life’s been kinda crazy!
~ Cheers – and remember to Drink Responsibly! ~