Rieslings for the Summer

Rieslings for the 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.

My friend and fellow writer, Kathy Bennett, asked about Rieslings a few posts ago.  Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you already know I’m not a sweet wine fan. But being the dedicated Wine Blogger that I am, I forged ahead into uncharted waters and tasted some Rieslings this past weekend. So here you go, Kathy…hope you find a few in here that  you like! (I know I did…)

Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Riesling, 2010
Monterey County, California 100% Jackson Estates Grown.   Alcohol 13.0% by volume; regularly $14.99, on sale at Albertson’s for $9.99.

On the Label: “The less we handle the fruit, the better the quality. The combination of climate, soil and hillside vineyards delivers a superior-flavored grape.  Our Jackson Estates Grown Riesling is no exception. Stone-fruit flavors of apricot and peach deliciously mingle with hints of Anjou pear and bursts of jasmine. This wine’s distinctive taste is a result of the coastal vineyards in Monterey County, from where it was harvested.”   –Founder, Jess S. Jackson

My Take: I really liked this wine, to my vast surprise. It has a faint flowery scent and a touch of the sweetness – just perfect for a spring meal (Easter, perhaps). The hubby wasn’t as enamored as I was, due to the slightly steely aftertaste and not enough sweetness in the foretaste.

My Rating:  ~ Very Drinkable ~ I’ll definitely keep it in mind now for those spring/summer warm to hot days.

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Riesling, 2009  California  Alcohol, 12.5% by volume  Regular price, $11.99 – on sale for $6.99 at Albertsons

On the Label: “Through timeless winemaking innovation, an uncompromising eye for quality and unshakable faith in California’s vineyards, Robert Mondavi was a pioneer in producing wines that rival the world’s finest. The enticing floral and spice notes of our Riesling weave through the crisp fruit flavors.”

My Take: This wine smells like honey in a glass, and also has a lovely aftertaste of honey – light, crisp, sweet but not too sweet. My hubby said  “This is  a Riesling!” For me, this particular wine isn’t one I’d reach for on a daily basis, but for all of that it sits pleasantly on the palate and begs for a picnic at a scenic spot with someone special.  Some sharp cheese, maybe salami, and this wine – you’ve got a winner.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ Plus it’s a fantastic price!

Chateau St. Michelle Riesling 2010 Columbia Valley, Washington State  Alcohol 11.0% by volume  Regularly $9.99, on sale for $7.99 at Albertsons.

On the Label:  “Enjoy classic Washington state Riesling in this fresh, crisp and balanced style. Delicious flavors of ripe peach and juicy pear are underscored with racy acidity.”

My Take: Admittedly, I had this wine under unusual circumstances. 1. I’d already had two glasses of Pinot Noir. 2. The wine wasn’t properly chilled. 3. I wasn’t really looking to have more wine. However, this blog called…and the wine answered. To my surprise, it was my favorite of all three. The sweetness is balanced between the Kendall Jackson and the Mondavi; the alcohol content is lower than both; and there’s no steely aftertaste. The scent is fresh and floral, but not overwhelming. Perfect for a picnic, or a before dinner drink.

My Rating: ~ Very Drinkable ~ It doesn’t get a higher rating because, frankly, it’s not a red.  But to my taste buds, it’s the best of the three. Hubby preferred the Mondavi – and we’d both still drink the Kendall Jackson. And to my surprise, I’m now a Riesling fan!

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. And hey – if you’ve got a varietal out there you want me to taste, let me know! You know where to find me…

~ 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?

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

White, Rose´, Red, and Sparkling Wine

White, Rose´, Red, and Sparkling Wine

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 spirit of the holidays, I’m going to pass on to you three wines – a terrific white, a fair rose´, an okay red, plus –  an outstanding sparkling wine.

Kendall Jackson Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay, 2009 Alcohol 13.5% by volume $9. at Vons on sale.

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 teture 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:  I could have sworn I just posted about this wine, but when I gave a quick look in my archives I couldn’t find it. Anyway – this is a lovely wine. Crisp, with a mere hint of oak – not a big, buttery chardonnay, but neither is it a sterile, steel-casked wine, either. It is quite possibly the best of the “new” style chards, and I for one love it.

If you have a little more cash to spend, and want to impress someone (and treat yourself), go for this wine’s big sister, Kendall Jackson’s Grand Reserve (about $16, if memory serves). You won’t regret it.

My Rating: ~ Very, Very Drinkable! ~  By the way – The Grand Reserve has a “Stay Away! This is MY Wine, You Slut!” rating. Just FYI.

Chateau Marouine Rose Wine 2010 Cotes de Provence, France –  Alcohol 12% by volume – made with organic grapes. $7.99 at Costco.

On the Label: Not a thing that hasn’t been mentioned above.

My Take: The same day I bought the Chameleon wine, I bought this wine. After being properly chilled, we tasted. And while it didn’t take us an entire week to drink the bottle, it did take a couple of days. The flavor is crisp and cool, very laid back, with a lean toward bland. It wasn’t bad wine; it was unremarkable. Which is always a pity.

My Rating:  ~ Drinkable ~

Vigilance Petite Sirah Red Hills, Lake County Geyserville, California – Sustainably Farmed  –  Alcohol 14.5% by volume –  $9.99 at BevMo!

On the Label: Front: “As vintners, it is our honor and responsibility to care for the land that sustains us; to preserve the environment for our children and generations to come. Every bottle of wine that we make is truly a harmonious expression of this earth and our commitment to it.”

Back: “Having children reaffirmed our dedication to the planet. That’s why our vineyards are sustainably farmed using cover crops and sheep to control the weeds between the rows. Ever vigilant, our watchful sheep dogs stand guard over the flock and vines,protecting them from harm. It is this same spirit that drives us in our obsession to craft wines that honor and respect the earth.” – Clay and Margarita Shannon, Vigilance Vineyards

There was other stuff on the back, but I gave up – the type is tiny, the color absurd (orange on a black label) and I’d had enough.

My Take: With that chatty a label, you’d expect the wine to be something amazing. Alas, all their sustainable farming didn’t do squat for this wine. It wasn’t amazing; it was pedestrian. Drinkable. Something to pass the time while you wait for the grown-up wine.  Not watery but not thick either, it lacked character. We had the Petite Sirah with oven-cooked ribs – you’d think the wine could stand up to the heartiness of the ribs, but…not…quite.

My Rating: ~ Drinkable ~  Like I said, it wasn’t a bad wine. (I believe our quote last night was “emminently drinkable”.) If you’re offered it, by all means feel free to take a glass – you might really enjoy it.

Etoile Brut Sparkling Wine NV Domaine Chandon, Napa Valley  – Alcohol 13% by volume  $19.99 on sale at BevMo!

On the Label: “As Chandon’s prestige cuvee, Etoile is the ultimate achievement in sparkling wine, personifying grace, elegance and balance.”

My Take:  I’ve been a fan of Chandon since visiting their winery in Napa back in 1987. The glass of Tete de Cuvee I had there will forever remain in my memory as the best sparkling wine, ever.  Aside from that, if you choose a Chandon sparkling wine, you’re in good hands. The founders of Domaine Chandon are/were (?) a part of Moet et Chandon; they came over from France, and have been putting their expertise to work for the past 30 years.

This wine in particular has tiny bubbles (as my boss says, the bigger the bubbles, the bigger the headache) and a creamy, spicy taste that is perfect for any special occasion. (Festivus, anyone?) Yes, it’s twice the price of my usual bottle of wine, and on sale no less; but if you’re looking to impress, or just spend a wonderful, relaxing evening with a special someone, this is definitely the bottle to get. Worth the splurge for a special occasion.

On the other hand, for still-festive but less expensive bubbles, go for the Domaine Chandon Brut or Brut Rose – those bottles run about $13.99 on sale at Vons (usually). That is one of my favorite go-to bottles for occasions (like, um, a Friday).

My Rating: ~ Stay Away! This is MY wine, you slut! ~

As usual, these are my opinions based upon my tastebuds, how cold it is outside, and whether or not I’ve managed to get some exercise in that day. Your impressions and tastes will invariably vary.

Happy Festivus, Happy Hannukah, Sweet Solstice, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwaanza, and all good things to you during this holiday season. Remember to appoint a designated driver if you must go out and drink (I prefer to drink at home, but that’s me); and above all, drink responsibly.

    ~   ~   ~

Pick up your copy of DEMON SOUL today! Only $5.99 at Amazon.com!

Two Rich Reds…

Two Rich Reds…

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!