Friday, October 30, 2015

Noble Vines 1 Red Blend California 2012

Noble Vines 1 Red Blend is a combination of Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.  We only know that the grapes are from California but the Zinfandel is likely from Lodi.  Noble Vines uses specific grape clones in their vineyards including the 181 Merlot Clone and the 337 Cabernet Sauvignon Clone.  Since 2012 was a great vintage for red grapes in much of California, I expected this wine to be good.

This is a medium bodied wine with flavors of dark cherry and blackberry.   The wine has some acidity and softer tannins.  This is a pleasant, easy drinking red wine suited for pairing with pizza or barbeque.  The wine is not overly sweet like some other inexpensive red blends and is a wine that most people will enjoy!  I purchased the wine at Costco for $9.79 and it has an alcohol content of 14%.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Santa Rita Secret Reserve Red Blend Maipo Chile 2013

Santa Rita has introduced a new line of wines they call "Secret Reserve".  The label features a decorative mirror and a legend about the mirror holding secrets from the past.  The legend is a bit silly and tells nothing about the wine.  Santa Rita produces many world class wines but the purpose of the Secret Reserve wines is simply to meet a certain price point.

Secret Reserve Red Blend is composed of Cabernet Sauvignon (53%), Merlot (20%), Syrah (15%), Petit Verdot (7%) and Carmenere (5%).    I do not recommend drinking this wine immediately after opening the bottle as it improved after an hour.  I found the wine to taste of dark berries with spice and cedar tones.  The flavor reminded me of an inexpensive carmenere that I sometimes drink from Trader Joe's.  The wine is only $8.99 at Costco and is good for that price but you will not want to open this for your next special occasion.

SC Wine Joe rating = 87 points.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cathar Crianza 2009 Ribera Del Duero

My local Costco recently had Cathar Crianza 2009 in the bins for $14.99.  It caught my attention because of the age (2009) and the Wine Spectator rating (92).   I have since learned that the price was well below the usual for this wine.

The wine is 100% Tempanillo, which is the dominant grape of Ribera Del Duero (Bank of the River Duero) in northern Spain.  The grapes are from 42 year old vines.  Ribera Del Duero has hot, dry summers and long harsh winters.  There are also great temperature variations during the summer days.    The vines are low yielding and the grapes are hand harvested.   The wine is aged 15 months in French oak.

The vines, climate, soil and care during production lead to a wonderfully complex wine.  There are many layers of flavor including blackberry, cedar and spice in this medium bodied wine.  I really enjoyed this wine.  On my next trip to Costco, the Cathar Crianza was gone.  If it is available in your local Costco, you should buy several bottles.

SC Wine Joe rating = 91 points

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Trellis Chardonnay 2013 Sonoma County

I do not assign numerical ratings to white wines.  Chardonnay is a good example of why I am hesitant to do that.  Chardonnay comes in a variety of styles.  Some are oaky and creamy, others aged in stainless steel and acidic.  Many are somewhere in between.  It is extremely hard to rate a chardonnay made in a style that is not my favorite. 

Trellis Chardonnay is not my favorite.  To me, it tastes too much like lemons and is too acidic.  It may not taste like that to you and it could be just what you like. The grapes are from a great growing area and may be top quality. I did not sense the apple and pear with vanilla that is promised in the latest Fearless Flyer.  The wine is only $6.99 so there is not much to lose, but my recommendation is to buy the Trader Joe's Coastal Chardonnay Central Coast instead.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Markstone 2012 Merlot Napa Valley

Trader Joe's is also featuring the Markstone Napa Valley Merlot in the current Fearless Flyer.  Even though the bottle indicates a webpage for this wine, it is not active, so do not expect to learn much online.  We cannot determine who is behind the Markstone label.

I will get straight to the point!  I really enjoyed this wine.  It is a lighter bodied merlot with tons of fruit flavor.  Besides the usual dark berry and dark cherry flavors, there is also an underlying cola and even licorice flavor.  There is not  much oak flavor on this, so it would pair better with cheese and pasta than with roast or steak.  2012 was a great year for Merlot and Cabernet in Napa and we need to enjoy these wines while they are so affordable.  This wine is only $9.99 at Trader Joe's and that is a great value.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Mayhall Tibbs Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills 2013

Trader Joe's October 2015 Fearless Flyer is featuring the Mayhall Tibbs Pinot Noir which they are selling for $10.99.  The reputation of Sta. Rita Hills AVA for fine Pinot Noir made this a promising selection on my recent shopping trip.

Sta Rita Hills is a small AVA in the western edge of Santa Barbara County.  The unique aspect of this viticulture  area is that the mountain ranges were turned by tectonic plate movement so that they align in an east-west direction.  This funnels fog and ocean breezes into the growing areas making them ideal for cool climate wine grape varietals such as Pinot Noir  and Chardonnay.   These grapes have only been grown in this region for about 20 years but award winning wines are now being produced.

As you would expect, the wine has flavors of cherries with some minerality.  I found the wine to finish with a little sour taste.  The wine is  a lighter style Pinot Noir but is not as fruit-forward as I expected.  The wine is good but not up to my expectation.

SC Wine Joe Rating = 87 points

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bonterra Chardonnay 2013 Mendocino County

I found the Bonterra Chardonnay Mendocino County at Whole Foods Market for $11.99.  I recently have been enjoying the Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon from Costco so I thought I would like the Chardonnay.  The good news is that we really liked the Chardonnay.  The bad news is that Total Wines and More across the street sells the wine for $8.99 and this week it can be purchased for 15% off with a coupon.  I guess it really is good news because I can buy more at a very good price, I just paid $3 too much for this one bottle.

Bonterra Chardonnay is comprised of 70% grapes aged in French and American oak that undergoes a secondary fermentation to give the wine a creamy texture and 30% grapes aged in stainless steel to add a crispness.  As with other Bonterra wines, the grapes are grown in a sustainable organic environment.  I found the wine to have an apple, pear, honey flavor that is different from most Chardonnays.

I really enjoyed the wine and expect to buy more- at Total Wines not at Whole Foods!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

2014 Ca'Momi Rosso Di Napa

Last October I reviewed the 2013 vintage of the Ca'Momi Rosso Di Napa which I really liked,  The 2014 vintage is now at Costco, so I was anxious to see if it measures up to last year.

This red blend consists primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel sourced from the heart of the Napa Valley blended with lesser amounts of Merlot and Petit Sirah from the Carneros area.  The wine has aged 6 months in French and American oak and has an alcohol content of 13.5%.

Like last year's version, this is a medium bodied wine with moderate tannins.  The wine has loads of blackberry, blueberry and black cherry flavor with a little spice on the finish.  I really enjoyed the wine and at a cost of about $8, I will buy a lot more.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88 points