Monday, April 23, 2018

Frey Field Blend Mendocino 2016

Yesterday, April 22, 2018 was Earth Day.  To celebrate, we opened a bottle of Frey Field Blend Mendocino Biodynamic red wine.  At the headwaters of the Russian River in Mendocino County, Frey has created a unique vineyard.  A biodynamic environment is created by planting organic wheat betweeen the rows of grapes and by pasturing sheep, goats and chickens in the vineyard.  Native plants attract beneficial insects and no pesticides are used.  In the winemaking, organic grapes are used with no preservatives, no added sulfites and no gmo yeast.   If you are prone to headaches when drinking wine, this wine could solve your problem.

Frey Field Blend is a Rhone style red wine.  They do not state the blend but we can assume it is some combination of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.  I noticed an aroma of cherry coke and cocoa.  Crisp flavors of dark cherry, blackberry and some earthiness followed.  The tannins are mild and the finish is acidic and long.  If you enjoy Rhone wines, you will not be disappointed with this wine.

I purchased this on sale at Whole Foods for $13.99.  I recommend supporting the earth and enjoying this wine.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon Monterey County 2016

When I saw Robert Mondavi Bourbon Barrel Aged Cabernet Sauvignon, I wondered if this was a gimmick to sell wine or if it was a way to add flavor to low quality wine.  After all, it was only $9.99 at Costco, so it could be a wine that ends up in our next pasta sauce.

Aging wine in used bourbon barrels began in 2014 as a way to boost flavor and richness.  Bourbon barrels are heavily charred and usually used only once for aging bourbon so they are readily available.  You would certainly expect them to add different aromas and flavors to wine.

Robert Mondavi makes this wine from grapes grown in coastal vineyards of Monterey County.  Only a portion of the wine is aged in bourbon barrels obtained from a Kentucky distillery.  When you open the bottle, you immediately notice a bourbon influenced aroma.  The wine is fruity with toasty oak and vanilla tones and I could definitely taste a bourbon flavor.

Yes, I think the bourbon barrel aging is a gimmick and it probably masks a mediocre wine, but I really like it.   This is a lot of flavor for 10 bucks.  I have already purchased some more.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Confidencial Reserva 2014

My local Costco warehouse is selling Confidencial Reserva, 2014, a red Portuguese blend for $7.99.  As you can see below, the bottle proudly displays a rating of 92 points by Wine Enthusiast.  It has been some time since I have enjoyed a wine from Portugal, so I could not pass up such an acclaimed wine for such a low price.

Confidencial is from the Caso Santos Lima winery in the Lisboa region north of Lisbon on the Atlantic coast.  The wine is a blend of 10 grape varieties aged in wood with an alcohol content of 13.5%.

The wine is a deep ruby color.  With a blend of 10 grapes, it is not surprising that the wine presents many flavors.  Some that I noted were blackberry, cherry and red licorice.  The flavors are intense,  there is some mild acidity, the tannins are medium and the finish is long.  This is a great find for $8.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon California 2016

For the past 5 years, Bonterra has been my everyday Cabernet Sauvignon.  It has smooth, rich flavors with medium oak and you can buy it at Costco for $9.99.  You can even get it for less at Total Wine if you have an applicable coupon. 

The 2016 vintage is now available.  The taste is similar to past years with flavors of black cherry, blackberry, toasted oak and vanilla and the finish is decent but not extraordinary.  This is an easy to drink tasty Cabernet.

I have reviewed the previous 4 vintages of this wine.  Last year, I did a direct taste test of the 2013, 2014 and 2015 versions.  I judged the 2013 as superior (91 points) with a fall-off in quality to 2015 (89 points).  I suspected that new ownership (Concha y Toro) was to blame.  From my notes, I will judge that 2016 is an improvement from 2015 and I will keep the wine on stock as my everyday Cabernet Sauvignon. 

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

Monday, April 9, 2018

Waterbrook Reserve Malbec Columbia Valley 2013

My local Costco has had Waterbrook Reserve Malbec in the bins for several weeks.  I do not think it has been flying out of the store, but my experience has been that this Precept Wine brand from Walla Walla in the Columbia Valley always produces a good quality product.  Costco is selling this for $17.99, about $2 less than any online price.

The wine has aromas of black cherry and oak followed by flavors of blackberries, blueberries and licorice.  The wine is medium to full bodied and the long finish is a little spicy and minty with oak.    The wine has 14.1% alcohol.  We actually liked this a lot, especially after some aeration, and would enjoy drinking more.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Chateau Fourcas Dupre Listrac Medoc 2010

Listrac-Medoc is a small appelation in the Haut-Medoc region, 9 miles northwest of the City of  Bordeaux in southwest France.  Wines from this region are typically blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and are not as highly rated as wines from some other regions of Medoc, although they have good aging potential.

I found Chateau Forcas Dupre Listrac-Medoc 2010 at my local Costco.  The age of the wine and the Wine Enthusiast rating of 91 points caught my attention and I selected one bottle priced at $17.99.  If you think $17.99 is high, drive down the street to Total Wines where it sells for $24.99.

The wine is a dark ruby red color and my nose immediately detected an earthy aroma.  The earthiness followed through in the taste along with black fruit and plum.  This is a dry wine with some tannins and a long finish.  I drank this wine over two sittings and I really liked it the first evening but was slightly less enthusiastic on the second.  The bottle indicates this is a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with 13% alcohol.  This is a serious, dry wine which should be enjoyed with beef or pork.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

Friday, March 30, 2018

Locations CA-5 California Red Blend

Dave Phinney, founder of Orin Swift Cellars, has taken an unusual approach to his "Locations" wine series.  Instead of creating wines that reflect a specific appellation or vineyard, he decided to blend the best grapes across appellations to produce a wine that represents a country or state of origin.  This often results in an unconventional blending of grapes such as found in Locations CA.

Locations CA is blended from Tempranillo, Barbera, Petit Sirah and Grenache grapes from Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties and from the Sierra Foothills of California.  Surprisingly, the most common California red grapes- Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel are not in this wine but after you taste this, you will agree that Mr. Phinney knew what he was doing.  The wine has 15% alcohol and was aged 10 months in French Oak.

On the first night, I tasted blackberry, blue berry, dark cherry, oak and the wine finished with flavors of spice, herbs and cedar.  I was enthusiastic about the initial flavors but less satisfied with the spice, herbs and cedar.  As I write this review a day later, I am finishing the bottle and now taste some chocolate I did not notice last night and the spice, herbs and cedar are greatly diminished.  I liked the wine last night but I like it even more today.  I am sorry the bottle is now empty!

I bought this wine at an excellent new wine shop in my neighborhood, "Wine Xpress", for $16.99.  I just checked the Total Wines website and they are selling this for $27.99.  Surely, Total Wines can do better than such a ripoff price.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points.