Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Yountville 2013 Lot 69

The weather in Napa Valley varies from south to north.  The southern portions of the valley are cooled with breezes and fog from the San Pablo Bay.  Carneros at the very southern portion of Napa is the coolest and is famous for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.  As you move northward, the influence of the Bay's breeze and fog diminishes.  Yountville is in the southern portion of Napa Valley but in the area where the cooling from the bay begins to be reduced.  Therefore it is a great area for Cabernet Sauvingnon wines with a softer profile than other portions of the valley to the north and to the east.

Trader Joe's September e-version Fearless Flyer features the Grand Reserve Merlot from Stags Leap and the Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Yountville.  I much prefer the Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine is a lightly oaked rich wine with fruit forward flavors of dark berries and soft tannins.  The intensity of flavor is equal to wines costing over $20.  At $12.99, this truly is a great value and I do not expect the supply to last long.  This is worth a special trip to Trader Joe's.

SC Wine Joe rating = 91 points

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Trader Joe's Coastal Chardonnay 2013 Central Coast

Trader Joe's Coastal wines are produced by a California Central Coast Vintner to fit a price range above Charles Shaw wines but lower than the VINTJ's wines.  In our location, they are priced at $4.99 per bottle.

I actually like the Coastal Chardonnay very much.  It is an unoaked Chardonnay with melon, peach and honeysuckle flavors which makes the wine very appealing in the late summer weather.  The wine is not overly sweet and it could pair well with cheese and crackers or with most light seafood.  We enjoyed the wine with red snapper and it was great.  If you like unoaked, crisp Chardonnay, you should give this bargain priced wine a try.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Glorioso Rioja Reserva 2009

Browsing the wine racks at Costco, I came across Glorioso Rioja Reserva 2009.  There were several signs that this would be a great wine to try.  The wine is 6 years old and the label says that it was aged 24 months in French Oak.  The wine has 14.5% alcohol and Wine Spectator has rated it 91 points.  Costco sells this wine for $13.99.  With that knowledge, I bought a bottle but I should have bought several.  I hope there are some left on my next trip.

Rioja is a wine region in northern Spain.  Rioja wines are categorized as Rioja, Rioja Crianza, Rioja Reserva or Rioja Gran Reserva.  In that order, the wines have increasing required aging times.  A Rioja Reserva wine must be aged 3 years with at least one of the years aged in oak.  Gloriosa Rioja Reserva exceeds that criteria and is 100% Tempranillo grapes.

The wine is a beautiful deep ruby red color.  The bouquet has a hint of leather along with the dark berry aroma.  This wine had to aerate about 45 minutes but then had a complex flavor of dark berries with a little red licorice.   The long finish had ample tannins to accompany a roast or steak.  All in all this is a terrific red wine worth more than the Costco price.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Barefoot Sauvignon Blanc California

Barefoot wines are available almost everywhere, from the grocery store to the state controlled liquor store in states such as Pennsylvania ( my birth state).   In my area of South Carolina, Barefoot wines are in Walmart ($4.99) and Publix ($5.99) but the best price is at Total Wines where they are priced at $3.97.  Barefoot is the low priced wine from E&J Gallo and it competes with wines from Sutter Home, Berringer, Goliath Rex and Yellowtail. 

I am fortunate to live in an area that has Costco, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Total Wines and More.  I can often find wines at these stores in the lower price ranges that are superior to the national brands listed above.  However, many people live in areas that do not have populations to support Trader Joe's, Costco, etc. or live in states that limit alcohol sales to state controlled stores.  For these people, brands such as Barefoot are often the best choice for their weekday wines.

I have been blogging a lot lately about California Sauvignon Blanc.  This summer, it has seemed like every California Sauvignon Blanc has been great.  From Trader Joe's Earthstone to Benziger Family Winery's Sauvignon Blanc, each has been enjoyable. 

The bottle of the Barefoot Sauvignon does not yield much information about the wine.  We know the grapes are from somewhere in California but we do not know the year they were harvested.  We know the alcohol content is 13%. 

I found this wine to be very drinkable and enjoyable.  It has more lime flavor and is more tart than the other Sauvignon Blanc's that I have been drinking but overall it was good.  I paired it with swordfish but it would also pair very well with Pad Thai due to the lime flavor in the wine.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

2012 Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon

I have high regard for farmers and growers who produce crops using organic and sustainable methods.  I actually think the fruits and vegetables taste better and I am willing to pay more, if necessary, when I purchase them.  Wine is no exception to this idea and sometimes it does not cost any more for wine produced in organic or sustainable ways.  Wines produced without synthetic pesticides and fertilizers just seem to taste better to me.  I have previously written about Benziger Family Wineries and their sustainable methods.  Today, I am writing about Cabernet Sauvignon from Bonterra  Vineyards, probably the largest wine brand in the U.S. with all organic wines. 

Bonterra was started by Fetzer Wines as their line of organic wines.  A few years ago, Fetzer and
Bonterra were acquired by Concha y Toro, the large Chilean wine company.  Bonterra has continued the tradition of organic wines.  Bonterra tries to maintain a balanced biodiversity of wasps, birds, sheep and wildlife in their vineyards so that pesticides are not necessary.

Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon is from vineyards in Mendocino County (72%), Lake County (24%) and Napa County (4%) California.  The aromas of dark cherry, berry and plum are noted in the glass.  The flavor backs that up in a smooth, rich wine with medium amounts of oak.  I think the fruit flavors are outstanding.  The alcohol content is 13.9% and I purchased it at Costco for $10.89.  Whole Foods also carries this wine.  It would be hard to find a better Cabernet Sauvignon at this price.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

Friday, September 4, 2015

Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Merlot Stags Leap District Napa Valley 2013 Lot #70

The Stags Leap District is a portion of Napa Valley, located east of Yountville along the Silverado Trail.  Stags Leap is very hot during the day with cool breezes at night.  It has ideal conditions for growing Cabernet Sauvignon and 80% of the grapes are Cabernet and Merlot.

Anytime I can buy Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot from the Stags Leap District for less than $20, I am all over it.  The Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Wines (black label) are often great values for their $12.99 price, so I could not wait to uncork this wine.

This Grand Reserve Merlot is a lighter, softer Merlot.  While there are underlying flavors of licorice and possibly chocolate, the fruit flavors are subdued.  The finish is dry and long lasting but somewhat tart.  All in all, I was disappointed in this wine and can find better wines to buy in this category.

SC Wine Joe rating = 86 points

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Benziger Family Winery 2013 Sauvignon Blanc North Coast

This summer, I have been drinking a lot of California Sauvignon Blanc.  It has become our white wine of choice.  I have found California Sauvignon Blanc to be less grassy and more refreshing in the South Carolina hot weather than the New Zealand versions.  Further, I have found several bottles from wineries such  as Joel Gott and from Trader Joe's that I liked and could buy for less than $10.   Without a doubt, our favorite has been the Benziger Sauvignon Blanc North Coast.

I have some bias toward Benziger from visiting their winery in Sonoma and learning of their sustainable grape growing program.  The balance of insects, bees and birds that they maintain is impressive.  The grapes for this Sauvignon Blanc are not predominantly grown at the Sonoma Vineyards but instead come from multiple vineyards in the 6 county North Coast AVA.

As with much Sauvignon Blanc, this wine features a lot of citrus and floral aromas and flavors.  This wine has been aged entirely in stainless steel and has more flavor of lemon and grapefruit than some Sauvignon Blanc.  There is also a minerality to the taste.  You can enjoy this with seafood or by itself.  Our local Costco has been selling this for $7.99 but you will pay more for it at most other stores.

This is a strong recommendation for a white wine for summer.