by Christine | Wine Friday
~ 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.
Kendall 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
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% 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! ~
My Rating System: Undrinkable; Barely Drinkable; Drinkable; Very Drinkable; and the ever-popular “Stay Away! This is MY wine, you Slut!”
by Christine | Wine Friday
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.
Kendall 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, CA 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.
What wines are you drinking? I’d love to know!
by Christine | Wine Friday
I’m running behind today, duckies, so I’m letting you in on a huge sale going on right now at Vons – Meridian wines are going for $4.99 a bottle (regular price $8.99).
I’ve had the “rich & velvety” Cabernet, the “soft & fruity” Merlot, and the “breezy & fresh” Chardonnay – all drinkable, and at a price that’s barely above the cost of a gallon of gas. It’s a new label, and may be a new marketing strategy. Definitely a new low price point, even at the $8.99, for Meridian.
The Chardonnay is a 2012, but neither the Merlot nor the Cabernet have a vintage on them.
My Rating ~ Drinkable ~ and perfect for summer get-togethers.
Go forth, and give it a try.
Two bottles of Meridian wine.
By the way, I couldn’t find a photo of this label anywhere, so I had to take a picture of the bottles in my house, hence the dirty tablecloth. Tra la!
by Christine | Wine Friday
Today on Wine Friday, I’ve got a white wine on sale for $11, and a red wine on sale at under $6. As I’m all about the tasty wine under $10 when possible, these two are a good fit for the blog (despite the $11 sale price).
Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Yellow Label Alcohol, 13% by Volume; Regularly $14.99, on sale at Vons for $10.99
On the Label: “Dramatic style, vibrant packaging and fruit-forward, smooth wines are the signatures of Francis Coppola Diamond Collection. Our Sauvignon Blanc delivers a beautiful perfume of tangerine, pink grapefruit, and honeysuckle followed by juicy flavors of tropical fruit, zesty citrus, and a int of minerals. Delicious with grilled fish or spring greens with fruit and goat cheese. Learn more about our wines at FrancisCoppolaWinery.com.”
My Take: It’s a good sipping wine, a good wine with crab quiche, good with your Easter ham. I don’t know what I was expecting; I’m finding that one Sauvignon Blanc tastes very like another, which is rather disappointing. I suppose some day I should have a Sauv Blanc tasting party, just so I can see if I’m right and they DO all taste alike, or if some have a better something than the others. Hmmm.
My Rating: ~ Drinkable to Very Drinkable ~ and if you’re going to relatives for Easter lunch or brunch, this would be a good bottle to bring along with you. It does have a certain panache, after all, with the Coppola name on it.
Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir 2012 Alcohol 13.5% by Volume; $5.98 on sale at Vons.
On the Label: ” ‘One of a winemaker’s most valuable companions is patience.’ – Robert Mondavi
“Pinot Noir is a challenging grape to grow in any climate Winemaker Rick Boyer patiently selects fruit from our best California vineyards to create a wine with classic notes of violet, rose petal and red cherries.
“Become our valued companion on Facebook.”
My Take: Facebook? Hm. Maybe I will click “like” on that page. That said, I like Mondavi wines. They tend to be reliable, solid structurally, and rarely is there a bad bottle among the Mondavi line. This Pinot, while there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, doesn’t make my Smoking Loon test. (Which is, is this wine better than the Smoking Loon Pinot Noir, which I can almost always get for $5.99?) I usually don’t bring that test up when the price point is so dead on, but for some reason, while this is a perfectly acceptable Pinot Noir, it didn’t hit my sweet spot this week. Which means, of course, I’ll have to try another bottle (because at $5.98, why not?).
My Rating: ~ Drinkable to Very Drinkable ~ Maybe I was just in a mood.
With the continuing unpredictable weather we’re having, what are you going to be drinking this Easter Sunday?
by Christine | Wine Friday
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 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 at 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!
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.