Friday, January 31, 2014

Trader Joe's Wine #4 Chariot Gypsy California Red Wine 2012

The Chariot Gypsy Red wine has a huge cult following at Trader Joe's.  It is one of the easiest to drink wines found anywhere.  It is light, bright, smooth, fruity with slight tannins and it only costs $4.99.  This is a wine you can drink for happy hour, at the pool or with lighter pastas.  The wine has 13.5% A.C. and is made from a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel, Petit Syrah, Sangiovese, and Cabernet.  This is a wine to be enjoyed when you bring it home, it will not improve a lot with aging.  The wine is FUN!

SC Wine Joe rating=87

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Trader Joe's Petit Reserve Petite Syrah Pasa Robles 2012

Even though I only paid $6.99 for a bottle of this wine, I had really high hopes that it would be a great experience.  I have not drunk a lot of petite sirah wines, but I really enjoyed a glass of petite sirah in Virginia in September and I hopes for a repeat with this bottle.  We also have visited wineries in the Pasa Robles area and had a great time.  Also, this wine was labeled as a reserve wine which signifies it is made from better grapes.

Besides the price, the next clue should have been that the A.C.was 13.4%.  That just seemed like they were cutting a little cost, I don't know!  I opened the bottle and did not get much of a bouquet, even after swirling the wine in my glass.  My first taste was pretty good.  The wine was lighter than I expected but I liked it.  The more I drank it, the weaker it seemed.  I think the wine is pretty good, especially for the price, but it did not meet my expectations.  It did not really improve in the next glass.  Maybe it will be better by tomorrow.

SC Wine Joe rating=86

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Trader Joe's Wine #2 Abancay Mascara Del Sol Tempranillo Merlot Crianza 2010

Mascara del Sol translates as Mask of the Sun.  The picasso style label fits with this description.  This Crianza red wine is 70% Tempranillo and 30% merlot from northeast Spain, with an A.C. of 13.5%.   Crianza is a legal wine term in Spain signifying that the wine was aged at least 2 years before release.  This wine was aged 12 months in oak and at least one year in the bottle.

The initial taste of this wine is a light berry flavor.  Some may taste strawberries or other fruit.  The wine then finishes with a lot of dry oak and tannins, which I did not expect.  This makes the wine suitable to match with a variety of foods, from chicken to pasta to beef.

Last year I reviewed a spanish wine Tranco that was $6.95 and said that if you could find a better wine for that low price, I would like to know about it.  This wine is also $6.95 (at Trader Joe's) and I think it gives Tranco a run for the money.  Both wines are great values.  Let me know what you think!

SC Wine Joe rating=89

This Trader Joe's Wine tour is getting to be a lot of fun!!!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Trader Joe's Wine#1- 2012 33 Trentatre Rosso

Thus far on this blog, I have concentrated on wines available at Costco or Total Wine and More.  For the next several posts, I will review wines available at Trader Joes.  I will skip Charles Shaw Wines (two buck chuck) because you can do really well by spending a few bucks more on other wines from Trader Joes. 

The first thing you need to know about Trader Joe's is that you do not go there to buy name brand wine.  About 20% of the wine on Trader Joe's shelves is name brand wine but it is only there to show you what a good deal you are getting on the other wine.  The name brand wine is over priced and Trader Joes does not really expect you to buy it!  The wine labeled "Trader Joe"  or labeled by a name you have never heard of,  is usually made by a winery that is making the wine for Trader Joes but does not want to have the wine compete with their name brand wine.  It may, or may not be as good as the name brand wine.  If you understand the information on the bottle,  you can find some amazing deals.

The first wine we will review is the 2012 Trentatre 33 Rosso.  It is from Italy and is called "33" because it is 1/3 Cabernet Sauvignon, 1/3 Merlot and 1/3 Montepulciano.  It has been aged 6 months in oak and has an A.C. of 14%.  The bottle describes it as a deep purple red with a fruity nose and hints of plum, cherry and chocolate.  It is full bodied with a finish of soft tannins.  I think the bottle gives a good description, although I did not detect very much nose.  We had a dinner party Saturday and everyone enjoyed this wine.  This wine comes at an incredible price of $5.99 and if I had paid $10.99, I would not be unhappy. 

SC Wine Joe rating=88 points
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

In my last post, I suggested there were better wines to buy than the Kirkland Napa Cabernet($12.99).  For your consideration, I present the Cousino-Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2010.  It is $12.79 at Costco and I believe it is much superior to the Kirkland at a similar price.  This wine is 100% Cabernet from the Valle del Maipo in Chile.  The wine has 14.2% A.C..  The grapes are sustainably farmed, harvested by hand and aged 12 months in french oak.  The wine has a dark and intense red/purple color and gives off a bouquet of red fruit and black cherry.  The wine has a fruit forward taste with smooth tannins.  This wine seems always available at our local Costco.

SC Wine Joe rating=88

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

2011 Kirkland Signature Napa County Cabernet Sauvignon

I am a fan of the Kirkland Signature wines.  The 2011 Napa County Cab has been at the local Costco for a while and the supply was nearly exhausted at a recent visit.  The bottle says it has  flavors of blackberry, black currant, cocoa and oak.  The A.C. is 14.3%.  I could taste the oak and maybe blackberry but not much more.  When the bottle was first opened, the oak stood out, but not that much fruit taste.  The second night, the wine was much better, as the taste smoothed out with more fruit taste. 

The wine costs $12.99 which is a decent price for a Napa County(not necessarily Napa Valley) cabernet.  However, there are better choices than this from other wine regions.

SC Wine Joe rating=86

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Virginia Wines part 2 Naked Mountain Winery

One of the wineries we visited in Virginia last September was Naked Mountain Winery and Vineyards in northern Fauquier County, about 20 miles east of Front Royal.  This is one of the oldest wineries in Virginia but it only has 6 acres planted in grapes.  Additional grapes are purchased from other Virginia growers.  The tasting room is quaint and maybe a little rustic but there is a beautiful view from the top of the mountain.  The winery has a slogan "Drink Naked" and T-shirts are available with that slogan.

The signature wine of this winery is the Barrel Fermented Chardonnay.  This is a chardonnay that is fermented in old, nuetral oak barrels and thus does not have a strong oak taste nor does it have the acidic taste of stainless steel aged wine.  For me, it hits the right fruit flavor.  Our supply of this is long gone.

This evening we had the 2008 Scarlet Oak Red.  This wine is 41% Syrah, 41% Mourvedre and 18% Tannat.  Syrah has a very different flavor when grown in cooler climates than if it is grown in warm climates such as California or Australia.  It is fruitier and less earthy.  Mourvedre is also known as Monastrell in Spain and you may remember this grape in the Tranco wine I reviewed last year.  Tannat is a grape from southwest France.  I find that this wine reminds me of a lighter wine from Spain.  I enjoyed this wine and the taste lingered through my meal.

Both the Barrel Fermented Chardonnay and the Scarlet Oak Red are $20 at the winery, although I got lucky and found the chardonnay for less in a store in Virginia.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Virginia Wineries

In the past couple of years, we have had 2 vacations to Virginia.  Much of the vacation time was spent visiting wineries.  Virginia is now the 5th largest wine producing state in the US behind California, Washington, Oregon and New York.  There are approximately 230 Wineries in the state.  The growing conditions are not ideal for grapes but techniques have been developed which now can produce surprisingly good wine.  The Virginia wine country now centers around Charlottesville, Warrenton and Louden County in the northwest corner of the state.  Some wineries around Charlottesville that we enjoyed were Veritas, Whitehall and Barboursville.  Around Warrenton we enjoyed Naked Mountain, Delaplane and Mediteranean.  In Louden County we enjoyed Breaux.

Last night, we opened a bottle of Breaux Equation X we purchased in September at Breaux Vineyards in Purcellville Va.  Breaux  is a lovely winery not far from Harpers Ferry, W.Va.  Equation X is a merlot based blend that comes from grapes grown in different vintage years.  The wine is a deep color and the aroma jumps from the glass.  The taste is soft but a little earthy.  It was a very enjoyable experience.  Equation X is $17 at the winery and you can only buy it in VA, MD, WV and DC.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2012 Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay

Last Friday, Pete Martin(@PeteMartinUP) wrote a column in the Greenville News Magazine Section about great wines at bargain prices.  One of the wines he mentioned was the Kirkland Signature Chardonnay.  Since the 2012 version of this wine is now available and since this has always been one of my favorite bargain wines, I thought that this would be a great time to review the current release.

I have previously stated that I am not a fan of heavy oak, buttery chardonnay.  On the other hand, chardonnays fermented only in stainless steel are often taste like lemons to me.  I most like a chardonnay that has been aged in neutral, older oak.  The Kirkland Sonoma County Chardonnay always fits in this middle ground.  I think the current version is even more fruit flavored with less oak than last year and to me, that makes it better.

This wine is still $6.99 at Costco and I am a happy camper!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

St Francis Old Vine Zinfandel Sonoma County 2010

I previously reviewed the St Francis Cabernet, which I really like.  Today, I turn to the St Francis Old Vine Zinfandel.  The St Francis Winery is located in the Sonoma Valley of California and produces great wines for under $20.  I always pause when opening a bottle of these wines because they come with synthetic corks which I usually associate with cheaper wines.  However, do not fear -the wine is terrific.

The St Francis Old Vine Zin is sourced from vineyards in Sonoma Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and Alexander Valley.  The vines are 55 to 100 years old which results in low yields and high concentrations.  The wine is 83% Zinfandel, 6% Petit Syrah, 4% Syrah and 7% other grapes.
The wine is aged 15 months in 78% French Oak and 22% American Oak.

Zinfandel wines can be lighter such as the XYZin I reviewed last year or they can be be bigger with lots of tannins.  The St Francis Zin is in the latter category.  This is not a happy hour wine for most people, it is best with red meat.  The flavor is intense and concentrated.  The A.C. is a whopping 15.8%.  This is a wine to keep on hand to accompany a grilled steak.  You will be glad that you did.

This wine costs $19.95 online from the winery but you can buy it for $14.99 at Total Wine and $13.89 at Costco.  Wine Spectator rates the wine at 89 points.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2009 Mestis

The Mestis 2009 from Bodega Mustiguillo in Valencia Spain is a red blend I recently purchased at Costco.  I think I bought it because it was on sale for $7.99 or $5 below the regular price of $12.99.  After I came home with it, I put it in the wine refrig and did not really have a great desire to try it.  Eventually, I gave in and opened it.  My wife had a cold and was not drinking wine and I thought I could drink this cheap wine since I was drinking alone.

The first thing I noticed when I poured it was that it had a deeper, darker color than I anticipated.  I swirled it and put it to my nose and the aroma jumped out of the bottle.  I drank it and WOW was it good.  This wine exceeded my expectations in every way.

This wine is at least half from a grape called bobal.  The bottle does not state the blend and internet sites seem to disagree on the percentages in the blend.  The secondary grape is tempranillo with some
syrah and cabernet sauvignon.  Some say they can taste dark berries or smoke.  I think I taste a little licorice but I am not that tuned in to the specific flavors.  In any case, this wine has a richer, more complex taste than I expected.  At $7.99 this is a great buy.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89.


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Thursday, January 2, 2014

2011 Montes Classic Series Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine from the Colchagua Valley in Chile could be the best bargain you will find anywhere.  It is 85%  Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Merlot which increases the softness and complexity.  The wine was aged for 6 months in new and used oak.  The oak is not predominant but is well balanced.  It is a ruby red appealing wine with a spicy full flavor.  The A.C. is 14%.  Robert Parker has scored the wine at 90 points.

You can find this wine for $13 online but it is $8.99 at Total Wine and $7.99 at Costco.  I find it far superior to any other Cabernet's under $12 at Costco and Total Wine and you can spend $17 at Publix for inferior wine.  I consider this to be a "Best Buy".

SC Wine Joe rating =89 points.