November 232004 San Marzano Negro Amaro
OK, you’ve probably noticed we’re in rut with Italian wines. Well, it isn’t so much that we’re trying to do that, but K&L recently had a clearance of Italian wines to make room for a new shipment… so we bought several. That said, you might make a note that I do tend to enjoy Italian wines quite a bit. I like that they haven’t sold out [as much] to the American driven fruit bomb style. Anyway, on with the review.
We didn’t like this wine too much. It was fruitier than the last 2 we reviewed, but lacked the depth we desire – which the other two had more of. C’est la vie… we paid 5 bucks for it and can’t expect much. It does, however, retail for $13, so should, in our opinion, taste better. That’s just a matter of taste preference, however, and we do realize that many people here in the U.S. will like this wine just fine, maybe even quite a bit. It is easy to drink and has no harshness anywhere.
June 112006 The Black Chook
This is an Australian red blend of 94% Shiraz and 6% Viognier. That’s right, a white grape. My take is that the Shiraz alone was thick and dense like tree sap (but probably tasting a lot better) and the only thing they had laying around to thin it out was Viognier. I’m joking, of course. I think they actually were trying to add complexity and aromatics, which they did succeed in doing.
My problem with this wine is that it just doesn’t taste… right. At least not for my tastes (nor Rika’s). I would love to tell you what kind of fruit it tastes like, but I can’t place it. Basically, it is dense (still) in bouquet, color, and flavor. The profile is red fruit, maybe a mix of all of them… but it is too jammy for me. When I opened it the aroma of blackberry jam slapped me in the face. I actually thought "cool!" But after tasting, was pretty disappointed and confused. It never got worked out… sip after sip until the whole bottle was gone. After-taste wasn’t too bad, and lasted a while… mostly the oak, tannin, and black pepper.
If you like a challenge, buy a bottle and try to figure out what it tastes like. Be sure to post it here! But then, for the price, you can get far better wine.
January 172006 Fillaboa Albariño Rias Baixas
You know, with all the rave reviews of this wine I thought I would really enjoy it. While I’ll agree with the reviews on some points, like the fact that it was complex with out of the ordinary flavors and aroma, but we certainly didn’t think it was “delicious”. Also, I really wanted to try a good Albarino and at 91 points, this should have been it, but instead it was a disappointment.
Straw in color, with an aroma of grasses, pineapple, lemon, and [to me] some “Lemon Pledge”. It tasted like pineapple and lemon mostly, with some of the lemon peel left in, some kind of grassy flavor I couldn’t put my finger on… maybe some white asparagus, and a vegetal sweetness – like the sweetness you get in edamame (soy beans). Mouth-feel was actually pretty good – weighty, especially for pairing with food, as it had good acid and no sign of butter, which I was happy about. On the finish it got a bit awkward though, leaving you with that sweettart after taste – not the part where you’re still chewing it, the part a bit after you’ve swallowed it and it leaves you with a chemically taste on the back of your tongue. Not really that pleasant.
At $16 I’m going to recommend you pass on this one. Who knows though, maybe we’re just high on crack and it was as good as those critics say!
December 22Navarro Correas Syrah 2004
Although we aren’t going to drink this particular wine at the Christmas Party, we will be drinking the Navarro Correas Malbec… not sure about the vintage. Sasa wanted us to try this to get an idea of the quality of the Navarro Correas wines. I think that his effort was in vein really, as this wine wasn’t all that great, but when researching the wines I found that several people rated this wine around where we did, perhaps a little higher, but the Malbec was rated considerably higher. This might explain why Sasa was excited about getting the Malbec, and was so disappointed that he hadn’t received them at the time of this tasting. I look forward to tasting the Malbec at the party though.
Color was quite good, medium-dark garnet (slight purple tint). The nose smelled of smoked oak, licorice, and had a fairly strong vegetal aspect.
Tasted of smoked oak, rose petals, bright red fruit, and was pretty spicy. Mouth-feel was nice with a pretty good tannin structure. The finish was a lingering spice, rose pedals, and asparagus.
This wine is from Mendoza, Argentina… which is the region best known for its Malbec wines. This is a pretty good effort for an affordable wine from a region that isn’t known for its Syrah. It is a pretty interesting wine in general, and was really nice paired with steak… made the steak taste “pretty”! From what I can find, looks like the wine is retailing for around $10-12 and at that price it is not a bad QPR. I didn’t love the wine, but it is interesting enough to spend that kind of money to try it, just for the experience. It might score higher with you than me, depending on your preference… especially if you like wines from the Pauillac part of Bordeaux.
December 22Tenuta Villanova Pinot Grigio 2006
Eesh, we were in much debate about this wine, mostly because of personal preference. I didn’t care for it much, but the girls liked it well enough. I’m actually a pretty big fan of Pinot Grigios from Italy, and have even had some inexpensive ones from Trader Joe’s that I liked quite well. But this one was just too narrow and way too much butter! As soon as I saw it I knew it was going to be fairly week – for my preference, as it was very pale straw in color. The aroma, which was the best part of this wine, smelled of weeds (like a grassy field with a big mix of weeds, many with flowers, etc.), citrus rind bell pepper, thyme, olive, hint of butter. Now, with that nose I was intrigued and though, OK, so it might be better than the color suggests, but… it tasted immediately of green olive, butter, the white part of a lemon peel (I actually confirmed this on the spot by taking a little bite of that and it fit exactly), and the rest white grape juice. The warmer the wine got, the more the butter came out too, to the point of me making a face and going “yuck!”, so definitely drink this chilled and keep it that way. Mouth-feel was interesting, in that with the buttery aspect it coated your tongue a lot, but at the same time, was pretty acidic. This would probably be pretty good paired with Fettuccini Alfredo with mushrooms and lemon herb chicken. It also gave me the impression that it was very high in alcohol. After I swallowed (yep, not much of a spitter if I don’t have to) I could feel the alcohol evaporating up my throat. It was more like the feel of drinking Sake. What’s left in your mouth in the finish is butter with alcohol vapor. It sounds worse than it is in reality, but that’s the only way I can describe it. I would pass on this at any price, but especially at $14… you can get better at Trader Joe’s for around $6.
Rating: 85 (This is a compromise with the girls)
Price: $14 (All Star Wine & Spirits)
December 14Simi – Cabernet Sauvignon – 2003
This wine was given to Rika as a “Secret Santa” gift at her work’s gift exchange. We weren’t really expecting too much, but were pleasantly surprised.
Color is dark, ruby red with just a hint of purple.
The nose is very aromatic with a heavy vegetal component, like bell peppers and sage. Very earthy… old wood and dirt. There’s some spice in there too… it is certainly interesting.
Taste is hard to describe. It is very earthy, with subdued fruit – sour plum, not so ripe strawberry, and black pepper. It is quite acidic. We started drinking it with Korean bbq style beef ribs, and it was quite good for that. The sourness of the wine complimented the sweetness of the ribs.
Mouth-feel was not too bad initially, but by the end of the 3 hours it was pretty weak.
But by itself, there’s a good bit of spice on the back end. Tannin structure isn’t bad, but don’t think there’s much life left in it… that is to say I doubt it will get better with age. Not near as much oak as I was expecting, although I took a tiny sip right after decanting it and it was fairly oaky then, but after an hour that subsides quite a bit.
All in all it was an interesting wine that continued to change as it aired over about the 3 hours we had it out. There was a point, at around 45 minutes to an hour that it was at its best, in my opinion. For the money, I’d have to say pass on this one, as it isn’t $20 better than the 3 Buck Chilean Chuck. I’m not saying its the same… it wasn’t that bad. But you can do better for $23.
Thanks Robert for the wine, we did enjoy it, and found it quite intriguing.
Price: $23 (average price found online)
December 10Vinas Chilenas Trader Joe’s – Merlot – 2006
3 buck Chilean Chuck here. When I first opened this bottle I thought it smelled almost as bad as the Cab. It tasted a little bit better, but not a lot. I let it sit for a while and tried it again and much to my surprise, the nose improved a little (although I’m not sure I can describe it accurately), and the taste was much improved. I’ve had much worse wines. I think TJ’s wised up to the high cost of good California grapes/wine and took their business to Chile, where cheap doesn’t necessarily mean bad.
Color is fairly purple and medium in darkness. The nose is kind of cherry-cranberry-cassis and oak… maybe a very light hint of tobacco. Mouth-feel is OK… not big, but not terribly thin either. Rather enjoyable. The finish is mostly cassis and cherry then lingering light tannin and oak.
This wine is certainly worth the $3 bucks I paid, and maybe even worth the extra $3 I wasted on the Cab. I’m not sure it is quite good enough to be my “daily drinker”, especially since we had that Argentine Malbec for $7 that scored 90 points. To us that is a better value… but this comes pretty close in the QPR department. I would probably recommend you try a bottle to see what you think. What have you got to lose? Come back and write about it in the comments, I’d love to hear what you think of it.
Price: $3 (TJ’s)
Let’s call this 3 buck Chuck from Chile. I can understand why TJ’s would want to create a wine from Chile. The region is hot, and produces some great wine for the money. I’m not sure what the overall process was for this venture, but it says it is produced and bottled by Videma S.A.
You know, this might be a spoiled bottle. It smells bad and tastes bad. Or maybe it just IS bad. I also have the Merlot, and it isn’t near as bad, so I think I’ll take this bottle of Cab back to TJ’s and see if they’ll trade for another bottle. If that one sucks too, I’ll just say, OK, this wine just plain sucks. Check out my review of the Merlot.
OK, I’ve traded the bad bottle for a new one, that seems much better. Phew! Alright, let’s do this proper…
Color is medium to dark garnet w/purple. I don’t have a candle at the moment, but I’d say it would light up nicely.
The nose is pretty tight, as would be expected. It ain’t givin’ up much. Maybe some plumb, red currant, and a slight floral aspect. As slight as it is, I’m surprised at how “nice” it is. Maybe its just because of how bad the first bottle smelled.
The taste was also surprising. Mostly raspberries, with a hint of cherry and strawberry, a developing black pepper. Mouth-feel is soft with low acidity and almost nonexistent tannins. Really smooth, and a bit light. The finish is of strawberries and raspberries, lingering black pepper, although slight. There is a slight unpleasantness in there, not sure what it is, but another sip takes care of that.
All in all I have to agree with the few people I’ve talked to about it… “it really isn’t bad”. I like the Merlot better, but this doesn’t suck, to be sure. If you’re on a TIGHT budget, I can’t imagine you could get a better wine at this price. Probably the best wine under $5 ever. If you’re drinking two buck chuck, switch to this set of 3 buck Chilean Chuck. Beware of the bad bottle though! ;-P