Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley 2015

It has been three years since I last blogged about the Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, Sonoma County.  Since I have recently been enjoying "Untamed Vine Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon" from Lidl, this is a great time to revisit the Kirkland wine and make a comparison.

Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley is a deep violet color in the glass.  It is a fruit forward Cabernet with flavors of blackberry, black cherry and plum with a distinct undertone of mocha.  The tannins are dusty and not harsh with a long lasting finish. From my notes, I believe that I enjoyed this wine even more than the past vintages.

We decided to do a side by side taste comparison of the Kirkland Alexander Valley Cabernet and the Untamed Vine Alexander Valley Cabernet.  I knew which glass was which wine, but my research assistant, SC Wine Jane, did not.  We both agreed that we could barely tell any difference between the wines.  I think Untamed Vine was slightly more fruit forward and I had a slight preference for the Kirkland due to the undertone which I described as mocha (some may taste it as vanilla).  But in any case, the difference is very minor.  The Kirkland is priced at Costco for $9.99 and my most recent purchase of Untamed Vine at Lidl was $8.99.  Both are great buys for Cabernet Sauvignon under $10.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County 2015

 I never know what to expect from Kirkland Signature Cabernet Sauvignon Napa County.  Looking back over my previous reviews, I found that I did not like the 2011 version, liked the 2012, was unimpressed with the 2013 and liked the 2014. 

Although I would rate the 2014 version and the current 2015 version equally at 90 points, my review of the 2014 version does not match my impressions of the 2015.  I described the previous vintage having flavors of blackberry, plum and a little vanilla.  This year, I taste more black cherry, blackberry, no vanilla and a little cola.  Nevertheless, this is a smooth, rich blend with a pleasant long lasting finish.  The wine has 14.9% alcohol and delivers more than you would expect from a wine costing $12.99.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cherry Blossom Rose' California 2017

Back in 2016, I wrote about Cherry Blossom Pinot Noir from Trader Joe's.  At a price of $4.99, I found it an exceptional value.  I shared the wine in a tasting I led at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Furman University and several people told me that they liked it better than the more expensive wines I presented.

Now, Trader Joe's has introduced a Cherry Blossom Rose' also priced at $4.99.  You may remember that Cherry Blossom wines are produced by the Bronco Wine Company, the same company behind Charles Shaw (Two Buck Chuck) wines.

Cherry Blossom Rose' is a very drinkable wine.  The color is a little darker than most Rose' wines and an aroma of sweet fruit bursts from the glass.  The flavors detected are cherry and strawberry.  This is a fun, enjoyable poolside or patio wine.  It is a little too sweet to be a serious food wine but not overly sweet like a blush wine from our youth.  Just like the Cherry Blossom Pinot Noir, this is the best wine you will ever find for 5 bucks.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points based on the value

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel 2015

I have reviewed Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel every year since I started this blog.  It is always a dependable favorite for under $10 and is usually introduced into the warehouses in the first quarter of the year.  I have been looking for the wine for months since I read online reviews of the wine that indicated it was available elsewhere.  For some unknown reason I could not find it at the Greenville SC store.  Finally, I found a small display of the wine last week.  Who can explain the workings of Costco?

In prior years, I was quite happy with this wine.  I rated it 90 points every year but one.  Fortunately, I bought two bottles of the 2015 version, because the first bottle that I opened was not very flavorful.  It did not seem to have been ruined by air reaching the wine but the fruit flavors were dull.  Who knows what can happen during transportation and storage of  the wine. The second bottle had the bright fruit flavors of blackberry, blueberry and a little licorice that I expected.  Nevertheless, I did not enjoy this as well as in previous years.  Somehow, the wine seemed to be sweeter and more herbal.  It is still a good buy for $9.99 but I know I will not be drinking as much as in previous years.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88 points


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Hendersonville North Carolina Wineries

It had been a few years since we last visited Burntshirt Vineyards and Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards.  Yesterday, we decided to make a day trip to both tasting rooms preceded by lunch at "A Day in the Country".  Both tasting rooms and the restaurant are just east of Hendersonville, NC.

Burntshirt Vineyards is a vineyard and a winery.  The beautiful outdoor porch and patio area features a long view over the vineyards with mountain ridges in the background.  The facilities and the outdoor landscaping are well maintained.  The tasting consisted of choosing 5 wines out of the 18 available for $10.  My favorite was the Cabernet Franc, a medium bodied red with flavors of cherry and dark cherry.  The wine was aged 18 months in French and American oak.  Wine Jane liked the "Sunset Sippin" semi sweet blend of Traminette and Petite Manseng.  She also favored the Meritage left bank (more Merlot) Bordeaux style blend.

Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards is a vineyard but the grapes are transported to Laurel Grey Winery in the Yadkin Valley for wine production.  While the building exterior and parking lot are not inviting, the interior of the tasting room has been greatly improved since our last visit.  The tasting here consisted of tasting all 17 available wines for $10.  My favorite wines were the Saint Paul Chardonnay, a stainless steel aged wine, and the Chestnut East Reserve, a Bordeaux blend of 40% Merlot and lesser amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petite Syrah.  We had a great time at this tasting.  Our servers Leslie and Helen were well informed about the wines and entertained us with tales about the varied aspects of their jobs.

The wines at both tasting rooms were varied and enjoyable and I recommend a visit.  Both tasting rooms are open 7 days a week.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Casa Santos Lima Colossal Reserva 2015

I recently purchased Casa Santos Lima Colossal Reserva 2015 at Costco for $7.99.  As prominently shown on the bottle, Wine Spectator rated this wine at 90 points and included the wine on their 2017 list of top 100 wines (#60).  Buying such a prestigious wine for $8 was a no-brainer.

Colossal Reserva is from the Lisboa wine region of Portugal, north and west of the City of Lisbon.  The region is long and thin near the Atlantic coast and the eastern portions are protected by hills providing warmer temperatures suited for red wine grapes.

The wine is a blend of 30% Touriga Nacional, 30% Syrah, 30% Tinta Roriz and 10% Alacante Bouschet aged in both French and American oak.  The wine has 14% Alcohol.

Colossal pours a dark ruby red color with aromas of red and black fruit.  The flavor is rich black fruit with an herbal tone.  The finish is a little spicy and peppery with medium tannins.  While this is a very good but unusual wine, I would not place it in the list of top 100 wines.  Nevertheless, it is a very good buy for $7.99.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Untamed Vine Alexander Valley Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

I did not plan to write about another Lidl Summer Wine Fair selection tonight.  I bought 6 wines on the first day of the wine fair to take advantage of the "mix and match 30% off six or more bottles" and I have written about 4 of the wines.  I was not impressed with the fifth selection (Corte Allodola Pinot Grigio).  I have now tasted the sixth wine, Untamed Vine Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, and this wine is such a good buy that I feel obligated to write about it before the 30% off sale ends about 24 hours from now.

The Untamed Vine Cabernet Sauvignon is from the Alexander Valley region in Sonoma County.  This region extends northward from Healdsburg to the Mendocino County line and from the Russian River  to the Mayacamas Mountains.  We visited this area a few years ago stopping at tasting rooms for Simi and Rodney Strong wineries.  Alexander Valley is noted for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  The soils can impart rich chocolate notes to the wines.

Untamed Vines Cabernet Sauvignon is a good representation of an Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  This has rich, dark, blackberry flavors and I detected a chocolate note before I researched the information written above.  There are ample tannins in this wine and you should pair it with a juicy steak.

The regular price for this wine at Lidl is $8.99 and I paid $6.29.  Comparing this to the Blazing Earth Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon in the sale with a regular price of $19.99, I would buy 2 bottles of Untamed Vine over one bottle of the Rutherford Cabernet every time- without a doubt.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

ADDITIONAL NOTE:  I returned to Lidl and the signage for this wine had a price of $11.99.  I showed the ad with the price as $8.99 to the store manager.  He agreed to sell the wine for the price in the ad.  At checkout, the wine rang up for the $8.99 price.  I am not sure what price you will be charged.