Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pallas Tempranillo 2013

I have been enjoying the Pallas Tempranillo from Whole Foods for a couple of years.  There are many Spanish Tempranillo wines available at reasonable prices and I think this is one of the most enjoyable.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo from the rocky La Mancha plateau and it has an alcohol content of 14%. 

In the glass, Pallas Tempranillo has an aroma of black cherry fruit.  I actually taste cola in this fruit forward, medium bodied wine.  There is a lot of flavor in each sip.

At $6.99, you cannot go wrong with this wine.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88

Friday, July 25, 2014

Trader Joe's Petit Reserve Viognier Clarksburg 2012

We were first introduced to Viognier a few years ago on a wine tour of Virginia, where the grape has been designated the state grape.  We have since discovered great Viognier closer to home in the Yadkin Valley, North Carolina.  If you have not discovered this grape, you are missing a great summertime treat.  Viognier wines are drier than reisling or pinot gris but still retaining a crisp fruit flavor.

The Trader Joe's Petit Reserve Viognier comes from Clarksburg, a short distance from Sacramento, California.  It has a crisp flavor of peaches, apricot and melon.  The alcohol content is 13.7%.  This is so easy to drink and so enjoyable, you will empty the bottle sooner than you can imagine.  The great thing is that it only costs $6.99.  I have had some terrific white wines this summer, but none better than this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Marchigue Carmenere Santa Ana Vineyard Reserva 2012

Carmenere is one of the original six Bordeaux grapes.  Today, the Carmenere grape is primarily grown in Chile and is often referred to as the "signature grape of Chile".   This Merlot-like grape is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon.  Carmenere is best drunk when it is young.

It is not common to see Carmenere in the stores where I shop and I was intrigued to find this single vineyard, reserve wine for $7.99 at Trader Joe's.  The bottle promises aromas of lush forest.  I was skeptical, but from the glass I indeed detected a nose that I would describe as damp cedar followed by a taste of oak, mint and red berry.   This is a medium bodied wine with softer tannins and the terroir has clearly impacted this wine.

This medium bodied wine will pair well with a wide variety of beef, pork and pasta dishes.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89

Friday, July 18, 2014

Montrosso 2010 Chianti

This summer, I have been enjoying European red wines from Italy, France and Spain. Many California and South America wines have seemed heavy in the warm summer temperatures.

I recently picked up a bottle of Montrosso Chianti at Whole Foods Market for $11.99.   A wine labeled as Chianti comes from the Chianti region in central Tuscany and must contain at least 80% Sangiovese grapes.  This bottle is labeled as "estate bottled" and has an alcohol content of 13.5%. 

The Monrosso Chianti is a medium bodied wine with a lot of medium-dark fruit flavor and a soft tannin finish.  It is enjoyable from start to finish and I think it is very fairly priced.  We paired the wine with red pasta and it was a good match.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points.

Monday, July 14, 2014

2012 Chateau Mayne Guyon Cotes de Bordeaux

I have previously praised the Trader Joe's wines from Italy and Spain, so I decided to select a wine from France to see if my luck will hold out across another European country.  I looked over all the bottles and selected a red Bordeaux from the Cotes de Bordeaux.  Trader Joe's does not give you ratings from wine magazines, etc, so you do not have much to go on except for the information on the bottle.  Also,  I am new to buying wine at Trader Joe's, so I do not have a backlog of information to use in my selections.
I think I really made a great choice.  In researching information for this review, I found that in 2013, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named this wine the #1 best buy for the year and awarded the wine 91 points.  Many others have named this one of the best wines to buy at Trader Joe's.

I really liked this wine.  I found it a smooth but complex, medium bodied wine with tastes of plum, black cherry and licorice.  The bottle does not indicate which Bordeaux varietals are in the wine and the wine is 13.5% alcohol.  You can buy this great wine at an unbelievable price of $7.99 at Trader Joe's.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Santa Rita Organic Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Santa Rita is one of Chile's best known and respected wineries.  The Santa Rita Organic wines are made with organically grown grapes and are sold exclusively at Whole Foods Markets.  No artificial pesticides or fertilizers are used in the vineyards.

The Santa Rita Organic Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Central Valley of Chile is made from 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Carmenere and 5% Merlot.  The wine is aged 8 months in French Oak and has an alcohol content of 13.5%.

I found the flavor of the wine to be complex and fruity.  The bottle describes the flavor as ripe black fruit with notes of black pepper and spice.  I did not detect the black pepper but agree with the ripe black fruit flavor.

This wine is smooth and flavorful with a long lasting medium tannin finish.  The Cabernet is definitely softened by the Merlot and Carmenere.  It is a very enjoyable wine which I have already replaced in my wine fridge.  Whole Foods prices this wine at $12.99. 

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Chateau Hanteillan Haut-Medoc 2010

Every once in a while, Costco has a wine deal that is so compelling, I have to bring special attention to it.  Finding this Chateau Hanteillan Haut-Medoc for $11.79 is one of those occasions.  Items at Costco that have a price ending in 79 cents are items where Costco has received a special deal from the supplier/manufacturer and you should not expect this wine to be available for very long.  If you search online, you will find this wine selling anywhere from $20 to $40.  Wine Enthusiast rated the wine at 92 points.

Haut-Medoc is a wine growing region in the Bordeaux Region of southwestern France.  Therefore the wines are a blend of the Bordeaux varietals.  This wine is composed of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot (there may be other grapes such as Cabernet Franc but I could not confirm that).  Drinking this wine, I am sure that Merlot must be at least half of the blend. 

In my initial taste, I found black cherry, spice and a hint of licorice.  The long lasting finish had medium tannins like you would expect to find in a nice Merlot or an American Meritage.  This is one of the most enjoyable wines I have tasted recently.  You can drink it now or keep it for the future in your wine fridge.  I strongly recommend buying a few bottles of this if it is at your local Costco (all stores do not have the same selection).

SC Wine Joe rating = 92

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Albero 2012 Monastrell

Readers of this blog know that Spanish wines are favorites of mine and that they are also great bargains for American wine drinkers.  I also have found that the best values at Trader Joe's are the wines from Spain and Italy.  Recently, at Trader Joe's, I found the Albero 2012 Monastrell.  It was not on a big display, just one of the wines on the shelf.  On the first day of drinking this wine, I was not sure if I liked it.  I liked the initial flavor, but the finish was unexpectedly dry and oaky.  When I finished the bottle on the next day, I really liked it and was perplexed about what I should say about this wine.  The only solution was to buy another bottle and try again.  I will now say that I like this wine a lot.

Albero is from the town of Jumilla in southeast Spain.  This area is inland from the Mediterranean sea and is known for growing Monastrell grapes.

The initial aroma from the wine is a little spicy.  The taste is a great blend of medium berry with some minerality.  The finish has oak and tannins but is long lasting.  I think you can enjoy this wine with meat or pasta.  The wine is only $6.99 at Trader Joe's.  A great price!!

The wine is said to be made from 100% organic grapes.  The alc. content is 14%.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Trader Joe's Grand Reserve St Helena Napa Valley Merlot 2012 Lot #37

When I host a wine tasting, I advise my guests that they can know a lot about a wine by determining where it is from.  A  little knowledge about the growing areas of California is helpful in selecting a bottle to purchase.  For example, some AVA's produce great Merlot and Cabernet but not great Pinot Noir.  Generally, the smaller the AVA is defined, the better and more expensive the wine.

The Trader Joe's Grand Reserve St Helena Merlot ($12.99) seemed to have a lot going for it.  Not only was it a Merlot from Napa County, it was from the St. Helena sub-appellation.

If you like soft, smooth, easy drinking merlot with not much complexity, this wine is for you.  For me, it was a dissappointment.  It is a medium berry flavored wine with a small finish.  After a glass, I could not remember much flavor to describe.  There are better choices available.  See my review of the Kirkland Signature Series Oakville Merlot.

SC Wine Joe rating = 86