Friday, August 21, 2015

Emma Pearl 2013 California Pinot Noir

Shopping for wine at Trader Joe's is often like looking for pearls.  About half of the time, the wines I buy are not good enough to blog about.  Sometimes, the Trader Joe's Grand Reserve or Platinum Grand Reserve are terrific wines.   Occasionally, I find very good wines for very low prices and those are the pearls.  Emma Pearl Pinot Noir is one of the pearls.

Today, I went to Trader Joe's and found a Fearless Flyer that had not yet arrived in my home mailbox.  I skipped past the "popcorn in a pickle" and went directly to the wines.  One of the wines was the Emma Pearl Pinot Noir for $3.99.  I read the usual story about how Trader Joe's used their immense buying power to buy a supply of great wine for a pittance and passed the savings on to their valued customers.  I found the wine on the shelf and was unimpressed until I saw that this Pinot Noir has an alcohol content of 14.5%.  While I steadfastly maintain that higher alcohol does not necessarily mean better wine, I also know that sometimes low alcohol equates to cheaply made wine.   I will also admit that sometimes higher alcohol does go with better wine.  In any case, you have to be skeptical of a wine that costs only one buck higher than Charles Shaw.  Since I was not wasting very many bucks, I put one bottle in my cart.

Emma Pearl Pinot Noir has the usual pinot noir taste of cherry and strawberry along with a little oak.  I found the initial taste was bright and very enjoyable.  There is a light amount of tartness on the finish, but there is little to criticize and much to praise.  I did notice a little alcohol on the finish but it was very minor.  This is a very good Pinot Noir and is a steal at $3.99.  It is a pearl.

SC Wine Joe rating =  88 points plus 2 stars for value.

Kirkland Signature 2012 Napa Valley Meritage

I have been looking forward to Costco introducing the 2012 Kirkland Napa Valley Meritage.  I have reviewed previous vintages in October 2014 and December 2013 and enjoyed both vintages.  With 2012 vintages of Napa red wines being so superior, I knew that this would be special.

The 2010 version of this wine was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  In 2011 the winemaker added Petit Verdot and in 2012 the blend is:
51 % Merlot
29% Cabernet Sauvignon
8%   Malbec
6%   Petit Verdot
6%   Cabernet Franc

In addition the alcohol content has increased from 13.8% to 14.5%.

Again this wine is a rich, soft blend of dark fruit flavors.  Black cherry with a bit of oak dominates.  The finish is long lasting and pleasant and the higher alcohol does not detract from the taste.  I believe that the 2012 vintage is superior to the past 2 vintages and the price is still $10.99.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast 2013

Souverain Wines has been owned by Australian owned Treasury Wine Estates.  This family of wines includes Beringer in the US. and Lindemans, Rosemount Estates and Penfolds in Australia.  Recently, I have noticed some of their other brands in Costco at very good  prices.  These have included Chateau St. Jean, Etude, 19 Crimes and Souverain.  There have been online articles that claim Treasury Wine Estates was having marketing problems in their US operations and last month it was announced that Souverain is being sold to Gallo.  Perhaps Costco has taken advantage of the situation to bring us some terrific wine values.

Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 is from the California North Coast AVA.  North Coast is the large AVA that includes the Counties of Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma and Solano.  Labeling this wine as North Coast indicates that the wine blends grapes from several of these counties.

I found the wine to be a very easy drinking, soft Cabernet Sauvignon.  Previous vintages of this wine have had nearly 20% of the blend from Petit Verdot, Petit Sirah, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.  The wine makers are clearly looking for an approachable wine.  I tasted some cherry and blackberry with enough tannins at the finish to accompany most grilled meats.  The wine has 13.9% alcohol and was on sale at Costco for $10.99.  This is a very good Cabernet Sauvignon for that price.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88 points

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Honey Moon Viognier California 2013

Trader Joe's sells a line of low priced California wines from Trader Moon Wine Company.  They all have a crescent moon on the label and I have found the white wines to be tasty values.  I recently tried the Honey Moon Viognier which is priced at $5.99.

Viognier is a green aromatic grape from the Rhone area in France.  Today, it is grown in many regions including California.  It has been named the state grape of Virginia and it does especially well in the Monticello region around Charlottesville.

Honey Moon Viognier begins with a floral aroma followed by tastes of honey and mango.  While the wine is a little sweet, it is not as sweet as you might expect from its aroma.  The wine actually finishes with a little tartness.  This is a very enjoyable summer wine and you cannot beat the price.  It would pair very well with spicy Thai food or you can just drink it without food.