Saturday, December 28, 2013

Besllum 2008

This is a wine that evokes a lot of controversy.  On one hand, it is a Spanish wine that is a 2008 vintage and has 14.5% A.C.  It is loved by the wine advocate which rates it at a lofty 93points.  The Costco Wine Blog says it is one of the top 10 Costco wines for 2013.  You may pay as much as $32 a bottle in some places but it is $12.99 at Costco.

On the other hand, some critics say it is over rated. 

This wine is from the Montsant area of Spain.  It is composed of 45% Carinea, 45% Granacha, and 10% Syrah.  It has been aged for 16 months in new french oak.  It has a deep color and an alluring aroma.  I find it to be a lighter wine-between a pinot noir and a merlot.  I have discussed in previous posts about the value that can be found in Spanish wines.

I think that one's opinion of this wine is somewhat dependent on the style of wine that most appeals to you.  I like this wine a lot.  I have been buying it regularly for about a year.  However, in most circumstances, I prefer a Malbec, Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon, so I would not rate it as high as the the ratings cited above.  I think it is great value at $12.99, but I probably would not pay a lot more. 

SC Wine Joe rating=90 points.  I plan to review this wine again at a later date and reserve the right to modify my rating.  I would like to hear what others think about this wine.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kirkland Signature 2010 Napa Valley Meritage

In the United States, a wine is usually labeled by the dominant grape varietal used to make the wine.  For example, a Cabernet Sauvignon wine must be produced from at least 75% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  This is not the case in some parts of Europe where the bottle is often labeled by the name of the grape growing area and the wine is normally a blend of the grape varietals from that area.  A Bordeaux wine from France is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere.

In America, blended wines were sometimes considered simple, everyday wines.  However, some winemakers desired to create high quality blended wines in the Bordeaux style.  They grouped together and coined the name Meritage(rhymes with heritage) to signify a high quality wine blended from the Bordeaux varietals listed above.  A winemaker must pay a fee to use the name Meritage and meet certain quality standards.

Every year, Costco produces a Kirkland Signature Napa Valley Meritage.  The wine is currently available for a limited time in our local store.  The 2010 Napa Valley Meritage is composed of 57% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc. and it contains 14.1% A.C.  As you would expect, the wine is more flavorful than a merlot but smoother than a Cabernet Sauvignon.  This is rich tasting high quality wine.  The bottle suggests that you may taste dark cherry or plum flavors.  The wine is priced at $10.99.

SC Wine Joe Rating =89

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Norton Malbec Reserva 2010

I previously mentioned that the Bodega Norton Malbec Mendozza 2010 from Argentina was #36 in the 2013 Wine Spectator top 100 wines.  This is a high honor, especially for a wine moderately priced at $20 or less.  This wine is rated 92 points by Wine Spectator and 92 points by Wine Enthusiast.  The incredible thing is that this wine costs $10.99 at Costco ($13.99 at Total Wine).  We can enjoy a world class wine on a Wine Joe budget.  You can expect to pay up to $20 elsewhere.

A word of advice is to open this bottle of wine at least 30 minutes before you want to drink it.  I guarantee that you will like it much better.  Wine Enthusiast says "opaque purple and thick in the glass, this wine has inky, supercharged aromas of blackberry and spice.  It feels amped up, but balanced, with more intensity and clarity than what most other $18 reds offer.  The flavors of wild berry, mild herb and chocalot finish in a rich, toasty wrapping." 

This wine is aged 12 months in oak and around 2 years in the bottle.  It has 14.5% A.C.  I find that the tannins are in the medium range, but clearly enough to accompany a steak or grilled pork chop.

SC Wine Joe Rating = 92  (who am I to argue with the ratings listed above?)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon California 2011

The Joel Gott 815 Cab is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from vineyards in Napa Valley, Sonoma County, Lodi, Lake County and Pasa Robles.  The grapes from each area are fermented in individual lots for over a year in oak.  The lots are blended together after fermentation to achieve the desired wine flavor.  The resulting wine has 13.9% A.C.

I really like this wine.  It has a deep rich color and an elegant soft taste with enough tannins to pair with any red meat.  This wine is available at both Costco and Total Wine for $12.99.

SC WineJoe rating = 90 points

Thursday, December 12, 2013

SC Wine Joe ratings

My post on December 1, 2013 described the rating system used by the top wine rating web sites.  With great trepidation, the SC WineJoe is stepping into this arena.  Starting now, the SC wine Joe will assign a rating to the wines available in our area using the same system.  First, let me say that my ratings are subject to revision at any time.  I can taste a wine today and have a totally different experience tomorrow.  Second, your opinion is as good as mine and I welcome your comments.  In addition, let me say that rating a white wine is harder than rating a red wine, so I will only assign a numerical rating to red wines for the immediate future.  Here is my rating for the reds mentioned in past blogs:

St Francis Cabernet Sauvignon         90
Trim 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon        84
XYZin 2011                                      89
Tranco 2010                                      89
Velvet Devil Merlot 2011                 90
Oyster Bay Pinot Noir                       88

Monday, December 9, 2013

American Viticultural Areas(AVAs)

When selecting a wine of a specific style such as Cabernet Sauvignon, you will want to consider where the grapes used to make the wine came from.  In the United States, the various growing areas are identified by their American Viticultural Areas(AVAs).  AVAs can be as large as a state, the size of a county or much smaller.  Some AVAs may be composed of smaller sub-AVAs.  For example, the Napa Valley AVA includes 16 sub-AVAs.  The AVA identified on the bottle must be the source of 85% of the grapes used to create the wine.

From largest to smallest, a wine can be identified by
     State                      e.g. California
     County                         Napa
     AVA                            Napa Valley
     sub-AVA                     Oakville
     Vineyard                      Crooked Vine Vineyard

The smaller, more specific the designation, the more expensive the wine.  For example, at Costco you can find a Kirkland California Cab in a large bottle for a low cost.  Recently, I found a Kirkland Napa Valley Cab for around $13 and a Kirkland Oakville Cab for almost $20.  All 3 of these are a good price when comparing them with wines of similar AVA designation.  Of course, the quality of these wines improves with the price.

Friday, December 6, 2013

St Francis Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma County

This is one of my favorite Cabs and it is an excellent example of why I do not buy wine at Publix or BiLo.  This wine is $13.49 at Costco, $13.97 at Total Wine and $20.69 at Publix.  It may be convenient to throw it in the grocery cart with the beans and bananas but you pay a steep price for that convenience.

This wine is 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot and 7% a blend of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Syrah.  It is aged 18 months in 80% French Oak and 20% American Oak.  It has an A.C. of 14.6%.   This wine is loaded with flavors from the beginning to finish.  I have never been disappointed with this wine.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

King Estates Signature Pinot Gris

One of the most popular pinot gris or pinot grigio wines is the King Estates Pinot Gris from Oregon.  You can find this wine on the wine list of many fine restaurants.  It is also one of my favorites, which we shared with our friends Katherine and Carl at Thanksgiving.  This wine pairs especially well with seafood, but also goes well with turkey or chicken.  It is fermented entirely in stainless steel for 5 months and has an A.C. of 13%.    Oregon is famous for pinot gris and pinot noir due to the cooler weather, and this is one of the best. 

This wine is slightly less expensive at Total Wines($12.97) than at Costco($13.87). 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Costco Wine Sale

Costco usually has 2 wine sales per year.  The current wine sale is from Dec 5 to Dec 29, 2013.   14 wines will be reduced in this sale.  Since Costco generally has very good prices, the sale prices will be great.  There are a few wines I know that I am not interested in and some that I am not familiar with.  I plan to try Plungerhead Zinfandel and 4 Vines Naked Chardonney. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Wine Ratings

The best wine is the one that you like irregardless of what some expert thinks.  However, ratings by a reputable group are a great help in deciding whether to buy a wine that is unfamiliar to you.  When a merchant provides rating information, they are giving good service to the customer.  Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate (Robert Parker) provide dependable ratings.

Wine ratings are based on a 100 point scale.  However, most wines fall within the range of 83 to 93.  Wine Spectator's list of the top 100 wines contain only a few wines rated 94 to 96 and none rated above 96.  The wines above 93 are priced $50 per bottle and up (way up).

I am not sure that I can discern the difference between an 89 wine and a 90 wine, but this is a general guide:

86-87 Good
88-89 Very Good
90-92  Excellent
93 and up Extraordinary