Thursday, July 27, 2017

Bois de Menge Gigondas 2015

I found the Bois de Menge Gigondas 2015 at Trader Joe's for $13.99.  I love Grenache based Rhone wines from France and this wine was rated 90 points by Robert Parker, so I bought one bottle to try.

Gigondas is a village in the southern Rhone Valley.  80% of the grapes grown are Grenache with lesser amounts of Syrah and Mouvedre.  Gigondas is about 10 miles from Chateauneuf de Pape and Gigondas wines are often seen as a less expensive alternative to Chateauneuf de Pape.

Bois de Menge Gigondas is 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah.  This is a wine that I enjoyed much more after the first glass, so I would recommend some decanting prior to drinking.  I tasted red berries with a little blackberry.  The fruit was a little subdued and the finish a little rough, but this still is a very good wine.  I think it is well worth Trader Joe's price.

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

MBALI Chenin Blanc/Viognier Western Cape 2016

Trader Joe's has a large display of MBALI from the Western Cape, South Africa selling for $4.99.  This wine is 79% Chenin Blanc and 21% Viognier with an alcohol content of 13%. 

The Western Cape is a wide growing area that actually includes 27 sub-areas.  Chenin Blanc is the most widely planted grape in this part of South Africa.

This wine is fresh and fruity with flavors of lemon, melon and peach.  You can drink this poolside or at a party or you might pair it with very casual food.  I believe the fruitiness would detract  from more serious food.

This is a fun summertime drink for a small price.

SC Wine Joe does not assign numerical ratings for white wine

Monday, July 24, 2017

Incanto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2012

When I find a wine that I like, I often go to Trader Joe's and try to find a similar wine at a lower price.  I have recently been enjoying a Poggio Vino Nobile di Montepulciano that I bought at Costco, but I hoped to find a substitute for less than the $15 price.  Surprisingly, I did find Incanto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano at Trader Joe's for $8.99.  Same grapes, same region but will it be the same quality?

I began my taste test with one glass from last nights $15 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano for my wine assistant and one for myself.  We then proceeded to the Incanto from Trader Joe's.  Our immediate reaction was that there was no way to compare the two wines.  It was like these were two totally different wines.  Although the Incanto did not cover as wide a range of flavors as the $15 wine, the Incanto seemed to do a decent job on a more limited flavor spectrum.  I noted flavors of dark cherry and pomegranite with a mildly pleasing finish.  However, the longer we drank this wine, the less enthusiastic we became.  My final conclusion is that it would be better to spend $15 for the recently reviewed Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

SC Wine Joe rating = 87 points

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Poggio Stella Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2011

Montepulciano is a very confusing to American wine drinkers.  It can mean the Montepulciano grape, found in Montepulciano d' Abruzzo from the region of Abruzzo.  It can also mean a wine from the area around the village of Montepulciano in southern Tuscany such as Vino Nobile di Montepulcio, made predominantly from the Sangiovese grape.

Poggio Stella is 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo with an alcohol content of 13.5%.  This is a crisp, lively, lightly oaked wine with fine tannins.  This is a little richer than an average Sangiovese with flavors of dark cherry, spice and a little earthiness.  It has been aged for at least 2 years plus several years in the bottle.

This is a terrific wine, not well known in the US and Costco is selling it for $14.99.  Wine Enthusiast gave it 88 points and Wine Spectator rated it at 92 points.  Not surprisingly, I am in the middle but slightly closer to Wine Spectator.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Northbound Railway Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2012

I write this blog and try numerous wines in search of a $30 wine that I can buy for under $15.  This time, I think I really found one.

My fourth wine from Lidl is the Northbound Cabernet Sauvignon.  From the label, this is a Cabernet Sauvignon from a great vintage (2012), a great growing area for Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) and an above average alcohol content (15%).  The wine was aged in oak for almost 2 years and has been in the bottle for another 2 years.  I knew I would like it even before I opened it.

This wine has so many flavors associated with Cabernet Sauvignon.  After only 20 minutes, it opened up to flavors of dark berries, plum, cola, chocolate, and licorice finishing with dusty tannins.  What more could you ask?  The wine is $14.99 and is worth another trip across town to Lidl!

SC Wine Joe rating = 92 points

Cellier Du Delta Cotes du Rhone 2014

The third wine from Lidl that I tried was this Cotes du Rhone.  Long time readers of this blog know I like Cotes du Rhone wines from southern France and that I judge these wines against the Kirkland Signature Cotes du Rhone Villages which is usually available every fall for $6.99.

The Cellier Du Delta Cotes du Rhone is a typical Cotes du Rhone.  There is no useful information on the bottle except the alcohol content of 13% and the vintage is 2014.  As with every other Cotes du Rhone red wine, we can assume the wine contains Grenache and Syrah.

The wine has flavors of cherry, black cherry and blackberries.  The flavor is not as bright and crisp as the Kirkland, but overall it is an enjoyable wine to pair with informal entrees.  This wine sells at Lidl for $5.99.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88 points

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lidl Parity Press Dry Creek Valley Red Blend 2014

Most of the wines at Lidl are produced just for Lidl.  If you closely examine the bottles, you will notice that they are grouped into three collections:
     1.  Everyday Collection.  These are popular varietals from around the world offered at value prices.  The wines are usually from broadly defined wine regions.  e.g. California or Washington.
     2.  Wine Club Collection.  These are quality wines from more specific regions.  e.g. Sonoma County or Columbia Valley.
     3.  Sommelier Selection.  These are wines judged by Lidl as exceptional.  These will most often be from very specific grape regions.  e.g. Napa Valley or Russian River Valley.

Parity Press Dry Creek Valley Red Blend (as well as the previously reviewed Sonoma Coast Chardonnay) is one of the Sommelier Selection wines.  It sells for $8.99 and has 13.5% alcohol.

We do not know anything about the blend of grapes in this wine nor do we know anything about the fermentation process utilized.  The labels on the bottles and the Lidl website do not provide much useful information although the short tasting note on each bottle probably helps some buyers.

The Dry Creek Valley in northern Sonoma County is best known for growing quality Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Certainly, there is Zinfandel in this blend and probably some amount of Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine is dark colored and I taste black berry, black cherry and minor licorice.  The tannins are medium and the finish is long.  We enjoyed this flavorful wine and it is a terrific value for $8.99. 

SC Wine Joe rating = 89 points

Monday, July 3, 2017

Even Keel Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2015 from LIDL

LIDL has entered the US market with stores opening last month in Virginia and the Carolinas.  My neighborhood LIDL is still under construction but another store is open in another part of Greenville.  Since LIDL is promoting their wine collection, I decided to cross town and try some of their wines.

I brought home several bottles, but we were having salmon and I thought that would pair well with Chardonnay.  My selection was the Even Keel Sonoma Coast Chardonnay.  I chose this wine because the coast region of Sonoma County is great for growing cool climate grapes and it is home to many of my favorite Chardonnays.

Immediately, I noticed the pale color of the wine.  This signaled that this was probably a lighter Chardonnay.  The wine is crisp, but not overly acidic and there are flavors of melon, apple and peach.  My guess is that the wine is aged in at least some old oak which gives it a light creamy texture.  The wine hits right in the groove for me - not too acidic and not too oaky.  The wine has 13.5% alcohol and costs $8.99.

LIDL is off to a good start with me and I will post how the other bottles turn out.