Monday, January 26, 2015

Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Petite Sirah Oakville Napa Valley 2013

Petite Sirah is a small, black skinned and intensely flavored grape originally grown in the Rhone area of France but today more widely grown in California.  Wines produced from this grape are dark, inky colored  and often tannic with flavors of plum, black fruit and blue fruit.  Petite Sirah is often blended with Zinfandel or Cabernet to give added strength.

Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Petite Syrah from the Oakville section of the Napa Valley is a good example of the intensely flavored Petite Syrah described above.  The wine is round and full in the mouth with ample taste of blackberry and blueberry.  The tannins were not overpowering but definitely present.  The wine has an alcohol content of 13.7%.  This was a nice change from the wines I have been drinking and I really enjoyed each sip.  The wine is $12.99 at Trader Joe's.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89

Friday, January 23, 2015

2011 Hook and Ladder Tillerman Russian River Valley Red Table Wine

Total Wine and More sells Hook and Ladder Tillerman for $19.99 but I found it recently at Costco for $10.99.  It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (43%), Cabernet Franc (23%), Sangiovese (18%) and Merlot (16%),  all coming from various lots on the Los Amigos Ranch in the Chalk Hill section of the Russian River Valley.  The varietals  were aged in European and American oak for 17 months and then blended and bottled.

The wine has a medium violet color and a weak flavor.  The outstanding flavor to me is a sour, acidic cedar.  Although I was impressed with the amount of aging and the sourcing of the grapes from one property, this is not my favorite style of red blend.  I will move on to other wines.

SC Wine Joe rating = 86

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Kirkland Signature Series 2011 Mountain Cuvee Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

I have written in the past about the Kirkland Signature Series wines that are a step up from the regular Kirkland Signature wines.  In general, I have found the Signature Series wines worth the extra cost and extraordinary values.  Recently, I found the Signature Series 2011 Mountain Cuvee Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon but I held the bottle until I was ready to give it a try.

Tonight was the night!  The bottle was opened 20 minutes ahead of time and I could not wait any longer.  This wine has as much aroma as any I have tried in the past year with a nose of earthiness, cola and dark fruit.  The taste does not disappoint with fruit notes of dark berries and cedar.  But, I must say, the greatest attribute of this wine is the very long finish.

Since I recently praised a similar wine, Trader Joe's Platinum Label 2012 Reserve Spring Mountain Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, the obvious question is "which is better?"  The Kirkland Signature Series wine is a year older, has a higher alcohol content(14.9%) and costs more ($18.99 vs. $14.99), so is it better?  We actually opened a bottle of each to compare.  My opinion is that the Kirkland Signature series wine is better but I would rate both wines as 92 points.  Both wines are excellent and you will have to try both to decide if the Kirkland Signature Series wine is worth the extra $4.

SC Wine Joe rating = 92 points

Monday, January 12, 2015

Trader Joe's Reserve Charbono Paso Robles 2012 Lot #105

Charbono is a wine grape originally from the Savoie region in eastern France where it is known as Douce Noir.  Today, the grape is most common in Argentina and California.  Wine from this grape is not widely available but it does have a small cult following.

Charbono must be grown in areas that are very warm in the day and cool at nights.  It also is a late harvest grape, so it cannot be grown where cold weather comes early in the fall.  Trader Joe's Reserve Paso Robles Charbonno is a medium body, medium colored red wine that showcases blueberry, cherry and blackberry flavors and finishes nicely with a smooth dry finish.  It is definitely fruit forward and reminds me of pinot noir.  You can drink this with or without food.  I think it is a nice change from the more intense reds I have been drinking lately and it is $9.99 at Trader Joe's.

SC Wine Joe rating =  88 points

Friday, January 9, 2015

Banfi 2011 Chianti Classico Reserva

Chianti Classico is a subregion of Chianti between Florence to the north and Siena to the south.  Wines from Chianti Classico are required to be at least 80% Sangiovese grapes and the remainder must be all red grapes.  A Chianti Classico Reserva wine must be aged at least 2 years in oak and 3 months in the bottle.  Premium Chianti wines tend to be medium body with firm tannins and medium to high acidity.

The Banfi 2011 Chianti Classico Reserva is certainly a medium body wine with higher acidity. Dominant flavors are tart cherries and spice with a long finish.  This wine will pair well with red sauce pasta dishes but you may not enjoy it as well without food.  I think this widely available bottle is an excellent example of Tuscan wine.

This wine normally sells for $15 at Costco and Total Wine but recently, I was able to buy it on sale at Costco for $12.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88 points.