Basic info: Machine Breaker “The Innocents” Pinot Noir, Eloa-Amity Hills, Oregon – 2012
Price estimate: $45
Look: Opaque ruby in color turning to rose at the edges
Smell: Tiny bit of cherry, some mineralogy and a touch of blackberry
Taste: Soft. Slightly sour cherry, some bramble and stone fruit. Medium finish with peach pit and a nice tart taste.
Conclusions: This was okay. Both Bob and I liked it, but it didn’t live up to the description or the reviews. I liked the wine just fine, but it wasn’t phenomenal.
Other notes: We opened this bottle to celebrate me new job and I kind of wish I had picked a different bottle. It is definitely a well structured wine, but it wasn’t really to my taste. A little too sour and maybe a touch too much wood to be truly enjoyable.
From the bottle: I completely forgot to look at the back of the bottle on this one. 13.5% alcohol by volume.
Basic info: Ca N’Estruc, Xarel-lo, Catalunya, Spain – 2017
Price estimate: $17 (Weekly Tasting)
Look: Translucent light yellow
Smell: Apricot – I kept sniffing this to see if I could get more out of it, but I just couldn’t
Taste: Stone fruit, specifically white peach. Subtle citrus notes that are almost lemon, but not quite. Tiny bit of slate towards the back end of this wine with a medium finish.
Conclusions: I was so happy drinking this wine. It had a nice acidity, but it didn’t overpower. It went well with food and just as good as a sipper on the back patio. It was unique – it had a bit of a floral quality but it was subtle. That seemed to be the key word for this wine – subtle. There was a lot going on, but it was all understated and really well done.
Other notes: I had never heard of Xarel-lo before and it isn’t something I expect to find on the shelves of my local wine store, but if I do, I’m picking some up. This was great, and perfect for a warm summer day and it went perfect with our cheese plate.
From the bottle: No bottle notes. 13.5% alcohol by volume
Look: Garnet in color with some orange and brown at the edges
Smell: Oak, trees, and a little hot/alcoholic
Taste: Cherry, hint of smoke, baking spices. This was a really complex wine, but I had a hard time identifying or naming specific flavors. Dry, red fruit and a little earth in the middle. Pepper on the finish.
Conclusions: Both Bob and I really liked this wine. He isn’t a huge Chianti fan, so when he liked it, I knew it was a winner. I think this is my first aged Chianti and while I think I prefer them a little younger, this one was just beautiful.
Other notes: I will fully admit, when I saw the edge of this in the glass, I was worried. In my mind (the unsophisticated wine person I am) brown at the edge means not good – oxygenated and less than perfect. This definitely was not the case here – despite the age on this bottle (yes, I know for real wine people 8 years is not old, but for me it is) it was fantastic. I can’t wait to break into the other bottles of this – I may have picked up a few.
From the bottle: (From Somm Select tasting notes) ” La Ripa 2010 Riserva is a medium garnet-red moving to pink and brick-red at the rim, with aromas of ripe black cherry, raspberry, red currant, and a hint of blood orange peel mixing with more savory notes of underbrush, turned earth, wood smoke, and dried rose petals. Medium to medium-plus in body, it is exceedingly pretty and energetic on the palate, with fine-grained tannins and well-integrated acidity.” 13.5% alcohol by volume.
Look: Ruby red in color with some translucence at the edges.
Smell: (Stay with me, this is a little weird) Smoke, herbs, trees and plums (yes, really)
Taste: Red berries, especially almost ripe or under ripe raspberry. Cola and a little rose. Nice finish.
Conclusions: This was one of the most unique wines I’ve ever had. It ranks up there with the strange Sicilian wine with had in December that totally changed flavor with food. This was good, very good, but unlike anything I’ve tasted before. All of the flavors were there, but hard to identify. When looking at what we said it tasted like, it sounds bad and the wine should be bad (based on those flavors) but it was good – very good. This was one of the few times I wished I had a really good palate so I could accurately describe this wine.
Other notes: I was intrigued by this bottle and since I had never heard of the grape varietal, I decided to try it. I like trying new varietals and while I am sometimes disappointed, this was not one of them. Both Bob and I lingered over our glasses and sipped and contemplated because we had a hard time describing the wine. The smell and the taste were also so different that it was hard to believe they were the same wine.
From the bottle: “Above all other wines, my grandfather (Nagyapam) loved to drink the Kadarka of Szekszard, still cool, straight from the barrel. Harvested from our oldest vines, this exuberant, jasmine and raspberry scented rendition was made in his honor. Our family has farmed the chalk and loess hills of Szaksard since 1746.” 12.5% alcohol by volume.
Basic info: Raorao Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand – 2017
Price estimate: $7 (Trader Joe’s)
Look: Very pale straw/hay colored.
Smell: Apple, melon and salt
Taste: Crisp, tart green apple, melon, apricot and white peach initially. More tropical fruits like pineapple and orange at the middle part of the wine and it finishes with lemons and oddly, a hint of banana. (Yes, that sounds weird, but it wasn’t.)
Conclusions: I thought this was a really nice summer wine. It was crisp, tart and had a hint of sweetness without being a sweet wine. Bob was not as enamored with this one as I was as it was too citrus-y for him. This was also really easy to drink and was just enjoyable without being fussy.
Other notes: For a long time I’ve avoided Sauvignon Blanc wines because I associate them with grapefruit flavor and I really don’t like grapefruit. However, ever since the Longboard, I’ve started going back to the varietal and while it still isn’t mu favorite, there are enough different styles of it that I will absolutely try it – I even ordered a glass at dinner recently. In the middle of summer when it is 90+ degree outside, a nice, crisp, unfussy white wine is really nice.
From the bottle: No bottle notes. 12.3% alcohol by volume.
Basic info: Vintjs Rose, Monterey, CA Rose wine – 2017
Type: Rose (no varietal noted)
Price estimate: $7 (Trader Joe’s)
Look: Bright pink
Smell: Strawberry and a hint of peach
Taste: Strawberry and watermelon are the major flavors. The wine is slightly sweet with a little bramble notes at the middle. Ripe summer raspberry on the finish.
Conclusions: I thought this wine was okay. It didn’t wow me and it isn’t something I am going to remember, but for a summer wine to just enjoy, it works. I didn’t get a lot of the acid and brightness that makes rose so great, but it was fine.
Other notes: I made a concerted effort to pick up some sub $10 wines recently for a few reasons, only one of which was budget. Part of my experiment, if you want to call it that, was to see how different types of wine were at that price given what I (little) I know about how expensive it really is to make wine. I started with rose and white wines because they do tend to be a little less expensive than reds since you don’t need to age them and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. So far there haven’t been any wines that wowed me, but for an everyday drinking wine, these have been pretty good. We did have one bottle that was just not drinkable to us and we tossed it. The others made the trip to Trader Joe’s well worth it.
From the bottle: No bottle notes. 12.5% alcohol by volume.
Basic info: Vignobles Lacheteau Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie, Loire Valley, France – 2016
Price estimate: $7 (Trader Joe’s)
Look: Very pale yellow, almost clear in the glass, with a slight green tint
Smell: Apple, melon, salt, jasmine
Taste: Tart green apple, lime, tiny bit of lemon. Round feel in the mouth with a little honeydew, apricot and white grape. Good finish with a little saline and melon notes.
Conclusions: For a sub ten dollar bottle of wine, this was great. Super easy to drink, nice taste and a little complexity – not a lot and it isn’t one that I will seek out all the time, but for the price I think it’s fantastic. I would happily pick up a few bottle of this to have around for the summer.
Other notes: One of the wine podcasts I listen to has mentioned getting wine at Trader Joe’s a few times. The one “near” us is not convenient, easy to get to and the parking lot is always full, so I’ve never been inside despite really liking the store (from my days back in Jersey). But, when we were in Tallahassee we stopped by the Trader Joe’s there and picked up some wine. Definitely worth it and I may have to find a time to go to our local store this summer when I can actually get in the parking lot.
From the bottle: “Issued from the MELON grape variety and vilified in he respect of the Loire Valley traditional methods, this wine is matured “on the lees” at least for a winter to offer richness and complex floral aromas. Best enjoyed with starters, seafood or fish dishes.” 12% alcohol by volume.