Friday, July 31, 2015

Saronsberg Artspace Shiraz Mourvedre 2012

I have been finding good value in red wines from South Africa and I recently noticed Artspace Shiraz Mourvedre from the Coastal Region of South Africa on the shelf at Trader Joe's.  This wine is 90% Shiraz and 10% Mouvedre with an alcohol content of 14.5%.  Mourvedre is also known as Monastrell and Shiraz is also known as Syrah in some parts of the world and both  grapes are grown in the Rhone region of France.  This wine is apparently available in Europe but can only be found in North America at Trader Joe's. 

This is a very drinkable, medium bodied wine.  The wine is deep purple in color and displays legs on the wine glass indicative of the higher alcohol content.  The flavor is dark berries and plum with a little tartness.  The finish is long with moderate tannins.  The wine was a good match for our grilled hamburgers and  I thought the quality exceeded the $9.99 price.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88 points

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Waterbrook Reserve Merlot Columbia Valley 2011

I have not found many great bottles of Merlot recently.  I checked my posts and found that I was only enthusiastic about one Merlot so far this year.  I have tried to find good Merlot, but most of the time what I purchased was not interesting enough to write about.   Last week, I found the Waterbrook 2011 Reserve Merlot from the Columbia Valley in Washington at Costco for $13.99 and this time my perseverance was rewarded in a big way!

The Waterbrook Reserve Merlot is 100% Merlot grown in 3 vineyards in the Columbia Valley.  The grapes were harvested in October 2011 and aged 24 months in American and French oak,-  25% new oak and 75% oak that is 2 to 5 years old. 

This wine has a distinctive flavor.  It is a flavor that I have tasted before in wine but it is not common.  The bottle mentions a flavor like sun dried cherries and I can accept that as the description of the flavor.  In any case, I really like it!  The wine does not taste like they made it to appeal to the mass market, it just comes from grapes with unique characteristics.  It is a medium bodied wine with powerful flavor and a long, long finish.  The 14.3% alcohol content is detectable in the mouth.  If you are a merlot drinker, you should give this a try.

SC Wine Joe rating = 91 points

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Liberte Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles 2012

Last March, Trader Joe's featured the Liberte Cabernet in their Fearless Flyer.  For some reason that I no longer remember (common problem for people over 60), I never tried the wine.  I recently found the wine at my local TJ's and decided to give it a try.

It is hard to find a good Cabernet Sauvignon under $10, so I was skeptical of this wine ($9.99).  However, I do like a lot of wines from Paso Robles and the $13.6% alcohol content was promising.  The Fearless Flyer article said the wine is aged 12 months in French and new American oak.

I found the wine to be much better than I expected.  I tasted dark cherry and cola with a decent finish.  The tannins were well matched to the flavors.  I do not think this is the best steak wine, but it would be great with pizza or burgers.

My wife almost always agrees with my taste in wine,  but she did not like this wine as much as I liked it.  If you try it, let me know what you think. 

SC Wine Joe rating = 88 points

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Chardonnay Carneros 2013 Lot #20

Last month, I wrote about the Etude Chardonnay from Carneros which I greatly enjoyed.  I have now found Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Chardonnay from Carneros and it is another terrific chardonnay from this great wine region.  As I have noted in the past, the cool night breezes in this region are perfect for growing world class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

This Chardonnay begins with enticing aromas of stone fruit.  The wine has flavors of apple and peach with some minerality.  There is some oak but it is in balance with the fruit and does not detract.  I found this wine to be moderately crisp and not buttery with a nice finish.  You can almost sense the cool breeze as you drink this. 

The wine has 13.5% alcohol and sells for $12.99 at Trader Joe's.  I think this wine is good value at that price and I will buy more.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Kirkland Signature Cotes du Rhone Villages 2013

Last year, I wrote that the 2012 Kirkland Cotes du Rhone Villages was one of the greatest bargains available at $6.99.  I have been drinking the 2013 version, which still costs only $6.99, and it again is one of the greatest values in wine that I have found.  Even Total Wines and Such does not have a Cotes du Rhone Villages for less than $11.99.  

This wine is again a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre with 14% alcohol.  The medium bodied wine is a very fruit forward blend of red and black fruit flavors.  This is a great, flavorful wine.  You might pair it with burgers, pizza or a roast.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points plus a star for value.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet Franc Napa Valley 2013 Lot #73

Cabernet Franc is one of the Bordeaux grapes.  It is one of the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon and it usually results in wines that are lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon.  In California, Cabernet Franc is most often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in Meritage or similar blends.  In the eastern US, from North Carolina and Virginia to New York, Cabernet Franc often results in wines that are superior to other red grapes.

Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet Franc comes from the Napa Valley with an alcohol content of 14.1%.  The wine should definitely be opened well before drinking.  The color of the wine is dark violet, similar to a typical Merlot.  After an hour, the taste is an intense, pleasing dark fruit flavor but as you swallow, the finish has very harsh tannins.  Even with red meat, the finish could detract from the initial flavors. 

As with all Trader Joe's Grand Reserve wines, the bottle costs $12.99 and I think there are better options in this price range.

SC Wine Joe rating = 87 points.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

R Collection California Cabernet Sauvignon Lot no.1 2014

Raymond Vineyards is one of Napa's premier wineries and has even been named winery of the year by Wine Enthusiast.  They have vineyards in Napa's premier areas and some of their wines command prices in excess of $100 per bottle.  This wine is not from Napa's finest vineyards nor will it ever command extraordinary prices.  Raymond has a line of wines at entry level prices named their "R Collection" which includes wines that are made well but priced for everyday consumption.  My local Costco has recently stocked the R Collection Chardonnay and the R Collection Cabernet Sauvignon.  I was not that impressed with the Chardonnay but really enjoyed the R Collection California Cabernet Sauvignon 2014.

The R Collection California Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 is obviously a young wine that has not spent very long maturing in oak barrels.  It is a lighter, fruitier Cabernet which can be drunk with or without food.  It has 13.5% alcohol and we thought it was a delightful, tasty drink, well worth the $9.79 price.  I plan to buy more.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88 points.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Ocarossa Cuvee Rosso

The Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer for summer is also featuring the Ocarossa Cuvee Rosso Italia.  There is not much to learn from the bottle label except that the wine has a low alcohol content of 12.5%.  Mostly, the bottle describes the naming of the wine after a red goose and that the bottle comes with a "revolutionary cork".  The bottle does not identify the year the grapes were harvested, so we can assume more than one year's grapes were used.

The Fearless Flyer does say that the wine is made from Ciliegiolo grapes which are genetic relatives to Sangiovese.  With a price of $5.99, the low alcohol content and the minimal information provided, I was skeptical from the start.

In this case, my pessimism was unwarranted.  The wine is a nice medium body wine with a cherry and light fruit flavor.  There is not much oak but the wine is dry, not sweet.  The wine is a light version of a chianti and we paired it with burgers.  We really enjoyed this wine and it is an exceptionally good value.  I expect to buy more in the near future.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88 points plus a star for value.