Sunday, December 2, 2018

Argyle Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2017

Since my trip to Oregon, I cannot get enough Oregon Pinot Noir.  On my last trip to my local wine shop (Wine Xpress, Simpsonville SC), I browsed the great selection of Pinots and chose Argyle Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.  Argyle is often best known for sparkling wine but they also make great Chardonnay, Reisling and of course Pinot Noir.

The Argyle Pinot Noir that I purchased is part of their growers series and is the lowest priced of their Pinots.  The wine pours a lighter cherry color than some others I have tried lately, so I was expecting a lighter fruit flavored wine.  That is exactly how the initial sip began with cherry, strawberry and cranberry flavors followed by minor black cherry.  The wine reflects the cool climate and the red soil of the Dundee region, where Argyle is located. 

I really appreciate that Oregon wine laws are so strict that the wine you taste reflects the grapes and the winemaker has not included additives to make the wine taste like something else.  There are current news stories about a wine company taking Oregon grapes to California to make a popular Pinot Noir under less restrictive regulations. 

I really enjoyed this very flavorful Pinot Noir.  Total Wine sells this in Greenville for $24.99 but my above-mentioned wine shop sells it for $19.99.  I actually paid less as part of a mixed case.  This is a terrific Oregon Pinot Noir at this price.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Kirkland Signature Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva 2012

Last year, I loved the 2011 Kirkland Signature Ribera del Duero Gran Reserva which I reviewed at  The wine has finally reappeared at my local Costco and I quickly grabbed s couple of bottles..

As I noted last year, a "Gran Reserva" Ribera del Duero must be aged 5 years with at least 2 years aged in oak.  The back label notes that this wine was aged in new French oak for 13 months and then in American oak for 25 months.  Finally it was aged for 24 more months after bottling.  You would expect a wine with that amount of handling and aging to be expensive but Costco sells this for $12.99.

This is not a heavy wine, but it is very rich in black fruit with chocolate tones, dusty tannins and a very nice finish.  I recommend that you give this a try.

SC Wine Joe rating = 91 points

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Trader Joe's Platinum Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Yountville Napa Valley 2016

The current Trader Joe's Fearless flyer features Trader Joe's Platinum Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from Yountsville in Napa Valley.  I reviewed the 2015 vintage of the wine a year ago and I liked it, but not as much as I expected to.  Since, I generally enjoy the Platinum Reserve wines, I wanted to try the 2016 vintage.

The first thing you notice about this wine in the glass is the very dark color.  The color and the aroma alert you that this will be a rich, dark flavored wine.  Indeed there are flavors of blackberries.  There is some smoke and vanilla but those flavors are much more in balance with the fruit than last years wine.  The tannins are also in balance and the finish has some licorice flavor, even reminding me of black jelly beans.  The wine has 14.5% alcohol.  This is a terrific wine which I found far superior to the 2015 wine.

SC Wine Joe rating = 91 points

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Wine

The best wine pairing for the typical Thanksgiving turkey dinner is a lighter, fruit flavored wine.  This will enhance the flavors of the food rather than overpower it.  Some choose Riesling, Pinot Gris or some other white wine but in recent years I have chosen a lighter bodied Pinot Noir.  This year we will accent our dinner with a Rose' of Pinot Noir.  A good choice is the Acrobat Rose' of Pinot Noir which I reviewed in September,( ). 

The wine that we will have this year is Willamette Valley Vineyards Estate Rose'of Pinot Noir.  This is a dry, medium bodied Rose' with flavors of red cherry and some tropical fruit.  The bright acidity makes this a great pairing for our turkey dinner.  I purchased this wine from the winery ($24) and you will not likely find it at your retail outlet.  You likely can find the Acrobat mentioned above or some other Rose' of Pinot Noir.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

VINTJS Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2017

Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer for November 2018 is featuring their VINTJS Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, which they are selling for $8.99.  They are anticipating that you might select this Pinot Noir to accompany your Thanksgiving turkey or ham.

For the past several months, we have been enjoying several Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs and I have written on this blog about several of them.  I can assure you that none of them cost under $10.  So, I had to bring home a couple of bottles to see if this is a fantastic Trader Joe's bargain (or not).

Neither the Fearless Flyer nor the bottle give any useful information to judge the wine.  As with most Trader Joe's wines, we do not know who grew the grapes or made the wine.  The bottle says the wine is vinted by ABJ Wines, Geyserville CA.but that is just a paper company to hide the actual maker of the wine.

The first thing you notice is that this is a 2017 vintage, so it is very young.  The second thing you notice in the glass is the medium purple, opaque color of the wine.  I could easily see through the wine and was suspicious that the wine was made from plump, watery grapes.  This was confirmed in the taste which exhibited only mild fruit flavors of raspberry and black cherry.

This is a drinkable wine at a low cost but I would recommend spending just a small amount more for the Firesteed Willamette Valley Pinot Noir that I recommended last August.  You can usually buy Firesteed at Trader Joe's or Total Wine.

SC Wine Joe rating = 86 points

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Kirkland Signature Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Costco is now selling their Kirkland Signature Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 for only$8.99.  This may be the first release of this wine since I have no notes about any previous vintage.

The bottle names the wine maker as Brandon Rice, who is director of winemaking for Wahluke Wine Company.  The wine was aged for 16 months in French and American oak and is said to have 14.5% alcohol.

I taste blueberry, blackberry and a little vanilla.  The wine is generally smooth with some tannins in the decent finish.  There are not many $9 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignons worth buying but this is an excellent choice for a midweek casual dinner.  Costco has another winner.

SC Wine Joe rating = 88 points

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel California 2015

Bogle Vineyards has always been known for friendly priced wines that deliver quality beyond expectation.  Recently, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel as their #1 best buy for 2018.

I have not been buying much Zinfandel lately.  It seemed that every Zinfandel I tried, including my old standby Kirkland Sonoma Old Vine Zin, was too sweet for my taste.  I was beginning to think that I needed to up my allowable price point and then I found the Bogle Old Vine Zin at Costco.  This wine changes everything.

Bogle Old Vine Zin was aged for 12 months in 2 year old American oak barrels.  The wine has 14.5% alcohol.

The wine is a medium dark color with some cherry tones.  The flavors that I detected were blackberry. black pepper, tobacco and some hints of vanilla.  There are medium tannins and the finish is long.  I really like this wine and I can see why it would be considered a best buy. 

This wine is selling for just under $9.00 at Costco and Total Wine.  It is a great buy at that price.

SC Wine Joe rating = 90 points