Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hess Collection Napa Valley Chardonnay 2012

At my local Costco, the summer wine sale runs until July 6, 2014.  I was disappointed in the offerings for this sale, but one wine you might want to consider is the Hess Collection Napa Valley Chardonnay 2012.  Costco states that the regular price of this wine is $17.39 but during the sale it is reduced $3.50 to $13.89.

We visited the Hess Winery in Napa a few years ago and had a great time.  I remember the reds we tasted as being exceptional.  There is also a great art collection to view.  We did not taste this wine at the winery but the Hess Collection Napa Valley Chardonnay is a step up from the Chardonnay usually found at the local grocery.

I find this wine to be an oak aged Charonnay with a great fruit and honeysuckle nose.  The flavor is not as crisp as I like, but with food, the elegant texture really works.  We had it with a cream sauce pasta and it was great.  This is not a poolside summer wine, but it works well with a lot of food styles.  If you get to Costco before July 6 and this wine is on sale at your store, you should put a bottle in your cart!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Mas Picosa negra de negra 2013

Whole Foods is a great grocery store and one of the largest wine sellers in the United States, but I have noticed that very few bloggers review the wines from this store.  You can find a few posts about whether Whole Foods or Trader Joe's has the best wine for $3.00 but there is not much more.  Since I regularly shop at Whole Foods, I decided to pick up a couple of bottles of wine to give them a try.  The first is a wine from Montsant, Spain - "Mas Picosa negro de negro 2013".

Montsant is a Spanish D.O. for wine located in the Province of Tarragona, which covers 12 municipalities in the vicinity of the Montsant Mountains in southern Spain.  The region has a Mediterranean climate but is inland from the sea.  The main style of wine is powerful reds.

I opened the Mas Picosa an hour ahead of time.  There was not a lot of aroma but the initial taste was somewhat fruit flavored.  However, the finish was bitter, peppery and hot (the Alc. content is 14.5%).  I think the wine is too young and unbalanced.  The bottle cost $12.99 and I would not buy this again.

SC Wine Joe rating = 85

Monday, June 23, 2014

Il Tarocco 2011 Chianti Classico

Chianti is an area in the Tuscan Hills of western Italy.  A wine designated as a Chianti Classico must be Sangiovese blended with a small percentage of other grapes.  A classico wine must meet certain criteria regarding color, flavor, tannins and alcohol content and also must display a symbol of a rooster somewhere on the bottle.

The Il Tarocco Chianti Classico  is made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo Nero.  It is aged in small french oak barrels for 12 months and 6 months in the bottle.  The A.C .= 13.5%.  Il Tarocco is available at Trader Joe's for $9.99. 

It has taken 3 bottles of this wine for me to be able to write this review and that is not a bad thing since I really like it.  I just had a difficult time discerning what I liked.  I would describe the wine as a medium body, medium cherry and berry fruit, with a medium long finish.  I know that sounds like a mediocre wine but it is not!  This wine has a lot of flavor and complexity.  It just seems to hit a midway point in many categories.  As such, I think it is a wine that will appeal to many wine drinkers and a wine that will pair with many foods.  If you are a Trader Joe's shopper, you should give this a try.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Milcampos Tempranillo 2011

Readers of my blog know that some of the best values in wine come from Spain and this wine is no exception.  The Milcampos Temperanillo comes from the Ribera del Duero appelation in Castilla y Leon in northern Spain.  This region is known for high quality Tempranillo grown in higher elevations.   A unique flavor is imparted to the Tempranillo grapes from the soil conditions and the weather extremes.  This wine is aged  for 10 months in new American and Hungarian oak barrels and in the bottle for 8 months.

I found the wine to have a deep purple color but a medium body.  The wine has lovely fruit flavors and very mild tanins on the finish.  All of this results in an elegant, fresh wine.  I enjoyed this wine very much and I think most others will also.  This wine was found for $11.99 at Costco.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Kirkland Cotes Du Rhone, Villages 2012

Last year, the Kirkland Cotes Du Rhone Villages was one of my all time favorites and I have been waiting for it to come around again.  Too much time has passed, to compare last years version with the 2012 vintage I found today at Costco, but I can attest that the new vintage is one, really good wine!

The Rhone Valley is in Southeast France.  The Granache dominated wines from this region are classified:
     1.  Cotes du Rhone
     2.  Cotes du Rhone Villages
     3.  Cotes Du Rhone Village (named Village)
     4.  Crus

The Kirkland wine is from the second level of wines.  The wine is produced from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre.  The A.C. =14%.  The wine is said to be produced using sustainable agriculture.

This wine has a medium dark velvet color, a taste of dark berries and red licorice, and an easy finish of moderate tannins.  It is a thoroughly enjoyable wine and one of the greatest bargains you can ever find at $6.99.

SC Wine Joe Rating = 89 (plus an extra star for value)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

VINTJS Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2013

When I think of Sauvignon Blanc, I think of New Zealand, not of Napa Valley California.  I think I have to revise my thinking a whole lot!  The fourth wine in the Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer is the VINTJS Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc.  I have to admit, my expectations were not that high for this wine and that is why I opened the other 3 wines before this wine.  Trader Joe's has several tiers of wine above the VINTJS label and I was not familiar with California Sauvignon Blanc.  This was one of the biggest wine surprises that I have ever experienced.

We had a small wine tasting tonight and everyone loved this wine.  As promised in the Fearless Flyer, it is a straw colored wine with hints of tropical fruit flavors,  There is a minerality and crispness in the finish.  This is a perfect summertime wine.  The wine is $7.99 at Trader Joe's and it is a real winner.  I will buy a lot more of this wine this summer.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Trader Joe's Petit Reserve Chardonnay Mendocino County 2012

Mendocino County is north of Sonoma County on the Pacific Coast of California.  The western portion of the county is influenced by cool coastal fog and breezes and is the source of terrific Chardonnay. 

The TJ's Petit Reseve Chardonnay is an unoaked Chardonnay from this region.  I find it a dry, crisp wine with a clean, mineral flavored finish.  There is a definite citris flavor but I did not detect the butterscotch overtone promised on the bottle.  I had recently opened another unoaked chardonnay and decided to compare them.  The TJ's chardonnay cost $7 and the other unoaked chardonnay was $11.  Although they were different, I could not pick a favorite. 

If unoaked chardonnay is your favorite style of white wine, I think you should give this a try.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2012 Caretaker Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley

I continue on with Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer week.  Next, is the Caretaker Pinot Noir Santa Maria Valley from the central coast of California.  This is a wine produced by the Central Coast Warehouse in Santa Maria , California.  This group produces wines under various labels, some for Trader Joe's.  This wine is said to be from sustainably farmed grapes, which I strongly favor.

I found this wine to not have much character or complexity.  I did not find anything distasteful, but I did not find much to really like.  There is a little bitterness on the finish that I did not enjoy.  We may not finish the bottle and will not buy more.  I  think you can find better pinot noir at Trader Joe's, such as the Fadeaway Pinot Noir that I previously reviewed.  The Caretaker Pinot Noir is featured in the Fearless Flyer at $9.99.

SC Wine Joe rating = 85

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sphere 2012 Lodi Zinfandel

The Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer for June was received today.  One of the featured wines this month is the Sphere Lodi Zinfandel.  So, I ran out today and picked a bottle from the huge stack in my local store.

I expect California Zinfandel to have an A.C. of at least 14%.  The small grape berries are known for high A.C.  (I am sorry I have to use initials but I have a reason.  I hope my readers understand what I am referring to).  So, when I find a Zinfandel with A.C. = 13.0%, that only costs $5.99, I am suspicious and do not expect much from the bottle.  I have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised.  While this may not be your special occasion, impress your wife wine, it is a very enjoyable, drinkable, everyday wine.  It is certainly better than many wines costing twice as much.  I plan to buy a lot more!

The wine has a taste of dark berry fruit with a slightly spicy finish.  It is not sweet like some low A.C. wines.  It will pair well with pasta, pizza and burgers.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88

Sunday, June 8, 2014

J Vineyards 2012 California Pinot Gris

J Vineyards and Winery is a small independent producer of quality wine located south of Healdsburg in the Russian River Valley AVA of Sonoma County.  J was first known for sparkling wine, but now is also known for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris.  J produces three different Pinot Gris wines and the California Pinot Gris is the lowest price point version.  The grapes for the California Pinot Gris do not come from the Russian River Valley estate vineyards but come from assorted appellations throughout California.

This wine has a very unique flavor profile, beginning with ripe pear and pineapple and finishing with sweet honey.  You may really like this unique wine but it was just not my favorite.  I prefer the traditional Pinot Gris often produced in Oregon.  You will not know if you like this wine unless you give it a try.  I found this wine at Costco for $12.99.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Louis M. Martini 2012 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon

Sonoma County is comprised of numerous wine growing regions from Carneros(south) to the Alexander Valley(north).  The Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon is made from grapes that are over 50% from estate vineyards in the Dry Creek Valley and the Alexander Valley regions in northern Sonoma County.  The wine includes 8% Petit Sirah with a hint of Merlot.

The wine is said to showcase fresh ripe flavors of black cherry, currant and spice.  I found the wine to be flavored of dark fruit with a finish of medium tanins.  I enjoyed it better than most Sonoma County Cabs in this price range.  You can buy this wine for under $12 at Costco and at Total Wines and More or for $17 at Publix or other grocery stores.  You can order it for $20 from the winery.  At $12, it is a good buy, but I would choose to pay a dollar more for the Joel Gott Cabernet (see my earlier review).

SC Wine Joe rating = 87

Sunday, June 1, 2014

2009 Los Clop Malbec Reserva

Los Clop Malbec Reserva from Mendozza Argentina is a dark red-violet medium bodied wine with rich dark fruit flavors, yet it finishes with soft tanins.  For me, that is a combination I can enjoy, even without food.  The flavor is dark berries with a slight earthiness.  The A.C.= 14%.

There are so many reasonably priced Malbecs from Argentina, it is hard to choose.  Robert Parker rates this wine at 90 points.  I found this wine at Costco for $12.99 and I recommend that you give it a try.

SC Wine Joe rating =89