Friday, September 8, 2017

Kirkland Signature Ribera Del Duero Gran Reserva 2011

Costco has been adding a few old world wines to the Kirkland Signature label.  I recently found the Kirkland Signature Ribera Del Duerro Gran Reserve 2011 and quickly added it to my haul. 

Ribera Del Duero actually means "banks of the Duero" and the region is in a plateau in northern Spain along the Duero River.  This region, which is subject to very hot summers and very cold, dry winters, is noted for Tempranillo grapes, also locally known as Tinto Fino.   Along with the soil conditions, the weather stresses the grapevines, but the surviving grapes produce wonderful wine.  The juice from the Tempranillo grapes is often blended with lesser amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Malbec to achieve the winemakers desired flavor.

Ribera Del Duero wines are rated as Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva to designate the levels of aging.  This Kirkland Signature Ribero Del Duero is labeled as a Gran Reserva, the highest rating, which signifies that it must be aged a minimum of 5 years, with at least 2 years being aged in oak.  In fact, the Kirkland Signature wine, which is 100% Tempranillo, was aged in French oak for the first 13 months, then transferred to American oak for 25 months, then bottled and aged for an additional 24 months.  It is not surprising that the wine reaches 14.5% alcohol after that aging process.

This is a very serious wine.  It is a smooth, elegant wine with flavors of rich dark fruit and chocolate, finishing with dusty tannins.  You will want to relish every sip.  This wine deserves to be paired with a well marbled steak.  With all the aging and care taken to produce this wine, you would expect to pay far more than Costco's price of $12.99.

SC Wine Joe rating = 92 points

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cepa Lebrel Rioja Reserva 2012

Lidl has brought some of it's most popular wines sold in Europe to the US.  Cepa Lebrel Rioja Reserva is one such wine.  You can find numerous articles and blogs online that mention this wine.  One newspaper article from London names Cepa Lebrel Rioja Reserva as one of the 10 "must buys" at Lidl.

With a price of $6.99 for a 5 year old Rioja Reserva, the attraction to this wine is obvious.  Some of the European reviewers describe the taste as strawberry and vanilla oak.  I had to swirl the wine in my mouth for quite a while to detect anything that could be strawberry, but there is ample oak leaving my mouth feeling dry at the finish.  Prior to dinner, I would have preferred more fruit and less oak.   With dinner, I appreciated the wine more than earlier.

I think this wine is a very good value but not the best Rioja you can buy.

SC Wine Joe rating = 87 points

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Slow Press Cabernet Sauvignon California 2015

Costco has had Slow Press Cabernet Sauvignon in the store for several weeks and I have had it in my wine fridge for almost as long.  I have been trying new whites to accompany a lot of seafood, as well as exploring some wines from Lidl and I just never got around to opening this wine.  While I was neglecting red wines from Costco, I knew that there were other blogs reviewing those wines and I did not want to repeat what was being said elsewhere.

I was not enthusiastic about this wine when I bought it since it was a California wine rather than one from a more narrowly defined AVA renowned for Cabernet Sauvignon, such as Napa Valley.   I later learned that the grapes are from Paso Robles, San Lucas (Monterrey) and Lodi aged for 9 months in American Oak.  

When I finally opened the bottle, I found this wine to have intense bold flavors of dark berries, plum and cola and I was pleasantly surprised about the quality.  Wine Enthusiast rates the wine at 91 points and I have no reason to disagree!

Costco is selling this wine for only $11.99 and that is a great deal, but here is where I will tell you something you will not read on the other blogs.  Total Wines also sells this wine for $11.99 and if you have the right coupon, you can buy it for 10%-15%  less than at Costco.  You  must have a coupon that is not limited to only "winery direct" wines.  The coupon that I recently received by e-mail would take 15% off of any wine that does not have a price ending in "7", so I can buy this wine for $10.19.
I strongly recommend this wine.

SC Wine Joe rating = 91 points

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Chateau Tour de Bonnet Entre-Deux-Mers 2015

White Bordeaux is made from 3 classic grapes:  Sauvignon Blanc which provides a grassy flavor, Semillon which provides complexity and a bit of  honey flavor and Muscadelle which adds aromatic Vibrancy.  Entre-Deux-Mers is a sub region of Bordeaux in southwest France and it's white wines feature those three grapes.

I found the Chateau Tour de Bennet Entre-Deux-Mers at Total Wines and it was exactly what I was looking for.  It was a lively fresh, crisp, fruit flavored white Bordeaux with the expected grassy flavors of Sauvignon Blanc mellowed by the softer Semillon,  The wine is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Semillon and 10% Muscadelle with an alcohol content of 12.5%.

I found the wine to exhibit a range of flavors that kept it interesting to the end of the glass.  Total Wines sells this for $14.99, but with my coupon I paid $12.74.  This price is not the lowest in the store for white Bordeaux but far from the most expensive.  I think this is a great choice for beginning an exploration of white Bordeaux wines and I definitely enjoyed it!

SC Wine Joe does not assign numerical ratings to white wines.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Chardonnay Santa Lucia Highlands 2016

Trader Joe's August 2017 Fearless Flyer describes this Grand Reserve Chardonnay as crisp and elegant, with fruit forward bouquet, citrus notes up front and a bit of butter and oak on the finish.  I have to disagree with that description.  This is not a crisp, fruit forward wine but instead it is mildly creamy with notes of oak and butterscotch and a nut flavored finish.  This does not imply that it is not a serious Chardonnay.  I think it is, but just not the wine described in the Flyer.

This Chardonnay comes from the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA which is part of the larger Monterrey AVA.  50% of the grapes are aged 6 months in American oak and the rest are aged 6 months in French oak.  The wine contains 14.5% alcohol and costs $12.99.

If you are a fan of creamy, soft butterscotch Chardonnay, this is definitely a keeper.  However, it is not my favorite style of Chardonnay and I will look elsewhere.

SC Wine Joe does not assign numerical ratings to white wines.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Duca di Sasseta Ser Passo Toscana 2015

Lidl is selling Duca di Sasseta Ser Passo Toscano 2015 for $5.99.  There is minimal information on the bottle or online about the blend of grapes in this wine but Sangiovese is obviously the primary grape. 

I tasted a semi-dry, full bodied Tuscan style wine with flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, plum and cocoa.  There are medium tannins and a long finish.  The wine has 14% alcohol.  There is a lot of flavor here which would pair nicely with red pasta.

This wine exceeds expectations for a $5.99 bottle and if you are in the Lidl marketing  area of the Carolinas or Virginia you should try it.  I hope that Lidl continues to deliver this quality for such a low price.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88 points

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc 2015

You may have noticed that I have been mostly writing about white wine lately.  Summer is white wine season for me, but I also have been trying a lot of new white wines in preparation for a talk and tasting on white wines that I will be presenting in October.  My plan is that the tasting will expose the audience members to wines that they are not familiar with.  I hope you red wine fans will hang in there and I will write about some red wines in the coming days.

Bonterra is one of my favorite wine brands in the value price range.  The wines are made with organic grapes grown using sustainable farming methods.  I believe this results in better tasting wine selling for reasonable prices.

I prefer Sauvignon Blanc from California above similar wines from New Zealand and South Africa.  California Sauvignon Blanc is far less grassy flavored and easier to drink.  Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc is one of the best examples of my preferred style.  There are flavors of apple, pear, citrus and minerality with 13.1% Alcohol.  The finish is long lasting and enjoyable.  I really like this wine and it has a good chance to be included in my October wine tasting.

Bonterra Sauvignon is widely available and I purchased it at Costco for $8.99.

SC Wine Joe does not assign numerical ratings to white wines.  Wine Enthusiast rates the wine at 90 points and lists as a "best buy".