Friday, February 28, 2014

La Cartuja Priorat 2012 at Costco

When you taste La Cartuja, from Costco, you are not only tasting a grape but also a place.  This wine, from the Priorat region of Northeast Spain is grown in soils composed of volcanic slate and sand, which imparts a distinctive mineral flavor.  The poor soil results in a bright, fresh wine.

The wine is 70% Grenacha and 30% Carinena organically grown on the Carthusian Les Solanes Estate, aged for only 6 months in French oak.  The dominant flavor is the minerality with light fruit and soft oak on the finish.  The wine has 14.5% A.C.  It is truly a unique wine!  It would pair well with barbeque or grilled beef.

The wine is $12.69 at Costco.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2011 Shingleback "The Davey Estate" Shiraz

Costco has put the 2011 Shingleback "Davey Estate" shiraz on sale at the Greenville store.  Online, this single vineyard, 100% shiraz wine sells for an average price of $23.  Costco's regular price is $17.89 and yesterday it was on sale for $13.99. 

The Davey Estate Vineyard is a sustainably managed vineyard located in Whites Valley, at the southern end of the McLaren Vale wine region is southern Australia.  The cool growing season in 2011 allowed for slow ripening of the grapes, resulting in fragrant wines with structure and depth.  The wine matured for 14 months in French and American oak.  Winemaker John Davey notes the wine has "sumptious strawberry and blackberry primary flavors along with nuances of spice and minerality".  The wine would pair exceptionally well with grilled pork chops. 

The wine has received many accolades and won several international competitions.  It is an exceptional value at this price.

SC Wine Joe rating = 91

Saturday, February 22, 2014

2011 Mendoza Vineyards Fairhills 1907 Malbec

The vineyard in the Medrano region of Mendoza, Argentina which provided the grapes for this wine was first planted by a group of German immigrants in 1907.  The bottle states that the grapes were from a fair trade producer.  It does not appear that Mendoza Vineyards actually produced the wine.  This wine is not on the Mendoza Vineyards website and various internet sites say that Mendoza is just the marketer.  In fact, the back label says the wine was produced and bottled by B-70313 for Mendoza Vineyards. In any case, this is a superior Malbec wine.

Robert Parker, the Wine Advocate, has rated this wine at 90 points.  I found the wine had a perfect balance of jammy fruit flavor, oak and A.C.(13.8%).  The tannins are soft but present.  We enjoyed the wine with pizza but it would also pair well with beef or pork.  The wine is $7.99 at Costco, which is an excellent price for wine that is this highly rated.  There has been a currency devaluation in Argentina and we may be seeing more great values from that country.

SC Wine Joe rating=90

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Casaleiro Reserva 2012

Touriga Nacional is a red wine grape from Portugal which is considered to be that country's best.   The grapes are small and are produced in small quantities on each vine thus having high tannins and concentrated flavors of black fruit.  Touriga is either used in Port wines or blended with other grapes in table wine.  It lends structure, body and texture to the blends and provides tannins and bright accidity.  Despite the tannins, Portuguese reds blended with Touriga Nacional tend to be soft on the palate and easy to drink.

The Casaleiro Reserva is a blend of  40% Touriga Nacional, 30% Castelao and 30% Trincadeira with an A.C. of 13%.  It fits the description of soft palate and easy to drink.  It is truly something different and a joy to drink.  I found it at Costco for only $6.99.  Give it a try!  Wine Enthusiast rating = 90 points.

SC Wine Joe rating=  88

Monday, February 17, 2014

Water Wheel Bendigo Shiraz 2012

Water Wheel is a Shiraz from Australia that just arrived at my local Costco.  This wine, from Water Wheel Vineyards in central Victoria Australia, is said to come from small bunches and berries due to cold nights and hot days.  The higher than expected A.C.(14.5%) would seem to verify that description.  The bottle promises robust flavors and lively tannins.

I loved this wine.  There was a lively nose and spicy, almost tingly flavor.  This is so easy to drink, yet there is complexity in the taste and finish.  You can almost pair this with any dish.  We had it with grilled amberjack fish and it went perfectly.  Before we knew it, the bottle was gone!  You may be looking for something else in a shiraz, but this is my kind of shiraz.  At $9.89, this is a great value!!

SC Wine Joe rating=89

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Trader Joe's Reserve Pinot Noir Arroyo Grande Valley 2012

I recently received my monthly Trader Joe's "Fearless Flyer" in the mail.  Over the next few days, I will review some wines featured in the flyer.  The first is the Reserve Pinot Noir Arroyo Grande Valley.

Trader Joe's labeled wines come in the following brands, in ascending cost and quality levels:

     1  Charles Shaw
     2  Trader Joes Coastal
     3  VINTJS
     4  Trader Joes Petit Reserve
     5  Trader Joe's Reserve
     6  Trader Joes Grand Reserve

The Trader Joes Reserve label is reserved for small lot, mostly Estate, opportunities from specific growing regions.

The Arroyo Grande Valley is a growing area within the large Central Coast AVA.  The Central Coast AVA stretches from Santa Barberra to San Francisco.  Interestingly, much of the wine growing area in this AVA is not on the Pacific coast but inland, often separated from the coast by mountains.  The Arroyo Grande Valley is in southern San Luis Obispo County, just north of Santa Barberra County and south of the larger Pasa Robles growing area.

The label says the wine has notes of ripe plum, rasberry and blackberry with hints of spice, smooth tannins and a long finish.  Typical of pinot noir, the wine is lighter in color.  I detected a whiff of flowers on the nose, a taste of lighter fruit and a finish with some oak.  The whole experience was enjoyable and I recommend it.  At $9.99, this wine is a terrific value.

SC Wine Joe rating=89

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2012 Kirkland Signature Malbec arrives in Costco Wine dept.

Every year, Costco brings out a new version of the Kirkland Signature Malbec.  The 2012 Malbec from Mendozza Argentina arrived a week ago.  The wine, from the foothills of the Andes Mountains, was aged 12 months in oak and has 13.5% A.C.

This malbec is young and much lighter than the Norton Reserve Malbec that I reviewed last year.  This wine is smooth and fruity, showing a nice balance between fruit and oak.  I really like this malbec more than last years version due to the softer finish.

Many bloggers thought that last year's version was a great value.  At $6.99, the latest release is even better.  I expect the wine to be available for the next few weeks.

SC Wine Joe rating

Monday, February 3, 2014

Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel 2011 back at Costco

Last year, the Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Old Vine Zinfandel was a big hit at my house.  It has recently returned to the local Costco.  I purchased a couple of bottles and could not wait to try the new version, so Super Bowl Sunday seemed like a great time.  To help me evaluate the wine, I finished off the remnant of XYZin from Saturday and planned to compare The Kirkland to XYZin(see my review of XYZin last year).  From the bottles you would certainly expect the Kirkland to be superior.  Kirkland is from a more narrowly defined region(Sonoma County vs. California), it is an older vintage and has more A.C.(15.3%).  Since both are sold at Costco for $9.99, the Kirkland obviously should be a better value.

When I put the Kirkland Zin to my nose, I was met with abundant fruit, pepper and spice.  The taste began with rich blackberry, pepper and licorice.  Initially I was impressed.  However, the more I drank, the less I liked it.  I began to conclude this was a very hot, alc. tasting blend, with poor balance between alc. and fruit.  In fact, all I could taste on the finish was the alc.

I have another bottle to try in a few days.  If I have a better experience, I will post part 2 to this review.  In the meantime, the Kirkland Signature Malbec is also back and I will report on that wine next.

SC Wine Joe rating=85