Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Chardonnay Sonoma Coast Lot #87 2016

The Sonoma Coast AVA is the Pacific coastal region from from San Pablo Bay to Mendocino County.  Included in this region are parts of Carneros and the Russian River Valley.  The cool climate and higher rainfall than more inland parts of Sonoma County make this a great region for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.  My favorite Chardonnays from the Sonoma Coast are crisp, fruit forward wines without overpowering oak flavors.

There is not much information available regarding specific regions of the Sonoma Coast that contribute to this wine and no information about fermentation and aging.  The wine is made byAvid winery which is led by a highly regarded winemaker.

The Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Chardonnay perfectly fits my preferences for Chardonnay.  The wine is only slightly creamy with fruit forward flavors of peach and tropical fruit.  The oak is present but not excessive and the wine has a relatively high alcohol content of 14.8%.  I really enjoyed this excellent wine and plan to buy more.  As with all Trader Joe's Grand Reserve wines, it is priced at $12.99.

SC Wine Joe does not assign a numerical rating to white wines.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Kudos Pinot Gris Willamette Valley 2016

If you have ever shopped for Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris in Total Wines and More, you have seen Kudos Wines.  NW Wines, a maker of custom private label Oregon wines, produces the Kudos brand wines and you are not likely to find them anywhere except Total Wines where they are marketed as "winery direct" wines.

Pinot Gris is a pink skinned mutation of the Pinot Noir grape.  It originated in Burgundy France and the same grape grown in Italy is called Pinot Grigio.  In Oregon, the wine is made in the French style and is therefore called Pinot Gris.

This Pinot Gris is a refreshing blend of peach, pineapple and melon flavors.  There is an unmistakable honey flavor and the wine is sweeter than some Pinot Gris.  We liked the wine and would definitely buy it again.  The regular price for the wine is $14.49 but I used a 20% off coupon last month and paid $11.59.  If I did not have a coupon, I would pass on the wine and buy a popular name brand such as King Estate Pinot Gris Willamette Valley ($13.97 at Total Wine or $13.89 at Costco).

SC Wine Joe does not assign numerical ratings for white wine.

Friday, March 9, 2018

LIDL Greco di Tufo 2016

I previously mentioned that Lidl is having their Italian Wine Fair.  I like that Lidl displays a numerical rating for each wine based on the 100 point scale used by wine experts from major wine magazines and also by this blog.  It appears that Lidl has done their own ratings, but I have found them to be very reasonable and not inflated.

I also like that Lidl's wine fairs give us the opportunity to try new grape varieties from unfamiliar regions without spending very much money.  These wines are not the finest wines of each grape or region for these prices and the downside is that I am not always enthusiastic about the wines.

Of my original purchase of 6 wines, I am most enthusiastic about the Greco di Tufo which sells for $9.99.  In this case, Greco di Tufo is both the wine grape and the region.  Tufo is a small town in this region in Avellino, Campania.  This area is in southern Italy, east of Naples and north of Salerno.  A Greco di Tufo wine must contain at least 85% Greco grape.

Lidl Greco di Tufo is a golden color with flavors of pear, peach and honey.  The wine is creamy and flavorful.  Lidl rates this wine at 88 points and I think that is very reasonable.  We enjoyed this wine with pan fried fish and would buy it again.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Overmountain Vineyards Tryon North Carolina

There are few wineries in South Carolina.  The climate is too warm to grow wine quality grapes.  However, as you go north from upstate South Carolina into North Carolina, the elevation increases and the climate is more suited to viticulture.  Within a 50 mile distance from Greenville, SC, there now are a number of wineries around around Hendersonville and Tryon, North Carolina.  This past weekend, we visited Overmountain Vineyards near Tryon and we were quite impressed.  Our tasting was conducted on the lovely patio area overlooking the vineyards.  The tasting was $15 for 6 wines and the pours were very generous.  Our server was very pleasant and knowledgeable which added to the experience.

Most importantly, the wines were outstanding.  We tasted:
     Chardonnay 2016
     Petit Manseng 2016
     Camelia 2016, a blend of Chardonnay and Petit Manseng
     Rose 2016  Petit Verdot Rose
     Revolutionary Red 2015. a blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon
     Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

All of the wines were terrific, but we were most impressed with the Revolutionary Red.  I am generally skeptical about Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from North Carolina, Virginia and other eastern states.  The climate is just not the same as California and Washington.  However, Revolutionary Red is not only superior to other wines from western North Carolina, it matches up to any red wine I have tasted east of the Mississippi River.   The wine was aged in both American and French oak.  Revolutionary Red sells for $27 at the winery and we bought a bottle for a future special occasion.  In addition to the winery, Overmountain Wines can be purchased ay locations in downtown Greenville, Greer and Travelor's Rest SC. 

I will not assign a numerical rating to the wine since we only drank the tasting sample.  I may addend this post when we drink our special occasion bottle.  Meanwhile, we look forward to our next visit to Overmountain Vineyards.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Salice Salento Rosso 2016/ LIDL Italian Wine Fair

Lidl began their USA Spring Italian Wine Fair on March 1, 2018.  19 Italian wines are included and until March 7, the wines are 40% off if you purchase 6 wines or more.  When I visited the local Lidl on the second day of the sale, many of the wines were temporarily sold out.

The first wine from the wine fair that I tried was a Salice Salento Rosso 2016.  Salice Salento is a wine region in Italy centered on the town of the same name in the Provence of Lecce.  A Rosso from this region must be at least 75% Negroamaro grape.  There is not an obvious brand name on the bottle and the wine is 13% alcohol.

This is a medium bodied wine with dry flavors of blackberry and blueberry.  There is not much oak flavor in the wine but there are some tannins on the finish.  Although this is certainly no special occasion wine, it delivers more than you would expect for the $6.99 price.  It would be a nice wine to pair with barbecue or red pasta.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88 points

Monday, February 26, 2018

Conn Creek Herrick Red Napa Valley 2013

With a few notable exceptions, I have tried many wines lately that were uninteresting or even bad enough to save for the next pasta sauce.  I was fretting about what to write about for my next blog, when I opened the Conn Creek Herrick Red that I found at Costco.  Finally I have something good to write about.

Conn Creek Herrick Red is a blend of 46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Syrah, 6% Merlot, 6% Malbec and 4% Primitivo with an alcohol content of 14.5%.  I found flavors of plum, blackberry, vanilla and a little spice from the Syrah.  The tannins provide some bite but it does not overwhelm the fruit and the finish is long lasting.  I really enjoyed this wine and was disappointed when it was gone.  I hope there is some left when I get back to Costco.

This wine normally sells for $19 to $25, but my local Costco has a small quantity at $15.99.  It is probably not available at every Costco Warehouse.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Canoe Ridge Vineyard The Explorer Horse Heaven Hills 2015

Canoe Ridge Vineyards released their 2015 "The Explorer" in December 2017.  The 2014 version was a very limited production that was not widely marketed, but the blend of the 2015 version was modified and production was more than tripled.  This will result in the wine being available to a wider audience.  In anticipation of release of this wine into South Carolina, Precept Wines, parent of Canoe Ridge Vineyards, provided a sample of the wine for my review.

The Explorer 2015 is a blend of 44% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Syrah, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc from three vineyards in the Horse Heaven Hills portion of the Columbia Valley, Washington.   The wine was aged 20 months in French oak- half new and half second or third use.  The stated alcohol content is 14.62%.

The wine is a dark garnet color.  I tasted black cherry, blackberry, plum, cola and a hint of mocha.  The wine is fruit forward and elegant, with softer tannins and a very long, pleasant finish.  We really enjoyed this wine and believe it is one of the most enjoyable red blends we have tasted in the past year.

The suggested retail price of this wine is $21.99, but some retailers will likely price it under $20.  At this time, I do not know where it will be available but will revise this post as soon as I learn more.  If you find it, be sure to buy a couple of bottles.  It will be money well spent.

SC Wine Joe rating = 91 points