Thursday, November 29, 2007

HRM Rex-Goliath Giant 47 Pound Rooster Cabernet

Woodbridge, California
Cabernet Sauvignon

Might drink again.

My friend Mike at work (who also recommended the Dynamite Cab) also recommended I try this one as a cheaper every day wine. I finally purchased it, but hadn't tried it yet when my dad came for Thanksgiving. As he came through the door, from behind his back he presented another bottle of HRM Rex-Goliath! I was destined to try it.

I liked the claret color. The nose was a little bit broccoli mixed with a non-disclosed berry and a lot of alcohol. (I recall smelling broccoli previously with a different wine.) The taste was a little woodsey, a little non-disclosed berry, high alcohol, slight earthiness and a small heat finish. No broccoli showed up in the taste thank Heaven.

For the price, this is a good everyday kind of wine to have on hand for casual company. I actually brought a bottle with me to my wreath making gathering the other night and a couple of women commented that they liked it.

Someone said they paired this wine with barbecued pork and it was great. I could see how that just might be.

To everything . . .There is a season
And a time for every purpose, under heaven
A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep
A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing
A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, A time for peace
I swear it's not too late

Adapted from Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds and The Book of Ecclesiastes from The Bible

7.50 out of 10
13.5% alc. by vol.
$7.99 / 750 ml bottle

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Solaris Zinfandel

NAPA Valley

I thoroughly enjoyed a glass of this in a restaurant bar this evening spur of the moment with some girlfriends following a wreath-making class. I was totally rushed and put on the spot after returning from the ladie's room. My fellow lady friends had all ordered beer and I had very little time to even look at a wine menu and the waitress was giving me the usual "red, white or beer" routine. She quickly gave me a wine menu and as I tried to concentrate on it, she was waiting for my order. I saw "NAPA Valley Zin" and went with it. Awesome quick choice.

I tasted blueberry for the first time and the finish was earthy and slightly spicey. Very good. I will be looking for a bottle of this in my local wine shop. A glass was $5.95. The internet indicates it would sell for approximately $15.99 / 750 ml bottle.

"Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages."
Louis Pasteur

8.25 out of 10
$15.99 / 750 ml bottle

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kaelser Stonehorse 2005 Shiraz

Barossa Valley, Australia
Will drink again.

I look forward to Thanksgiving and having everyone here and then poof! It's over, they're gone and Christmas is on its way. I don't know where the time goes. I tasted approximately (11) wines over the last four days. I can't believe it, and I have no idea where to begin picking up this blog again. I decided to start with what I was drinking this evening and I will work my way back in reviews over the next week or more.

Kaesler was a Thanksgiving gift from my brother, so it was out of my usual price range. I loved it. No surprise - it was from the Barossa Valley. Pure purple in color, it's smell was of cherries, vanilla, oak and alcohol. The taste was warm black cherry, licorice, oak and vanilla and an alcohol finish that warmed the esophagus like Schnapps. But then the cherry flavor came right back after the alcohol. It was very, very good.

Though I have had it at various times these last few days with both sausage pizza and chili, I prefer it alone.

How do you go on, when bad things happen
To innocent people
When someone we love dies, and we still had so much to share
When atrocities and violations occur to helpless, trusting children
Around this world at any given time
When violence doesn’t have to be looked for
It’s always there, somewhere
We can’t always control what happens to us
And life can be so unfair
If you just remain open
Hope is there
It is in the warmth of the sunshine
The trusting grasp of a child’s hand in our own
The first bloom of a long awaited flower
The smell of the sky before the first snowflake hits ground
The heat of a fire upon the hearth
The comfort of bed at the end of a long day
A shared smile with a stranger that hits the heart
A dog’s wagging tail
Advice from someone we’d least expect to have something to say
It’s all in your control, you have choices you can make
Even when you’ve been wronged
Find the hope to make you whole
It’s never too late
To start again
To apologize to someone you’ve hurt
Or to pick up the pieces around you, and move on
You can always make a difference in someone else’s life
You matter, you have purpose
Even when your own life has been so full of strife
Don’t give in
Choose life
Start now, begin again.

8.25 out of 10
15.5% alc. by vol.
$29.99 /750 ml bottle

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Dynamite Cabernet Sauvignon

North Coast
Sonoma County, California

Mikey D. - I do like your Dynamite. We do have similar taste. This is a little drier than I normally go for, but the flavor is very good. It's woodsey, smokey and blackberry. It is my wedding anniversary tonight and we never have red meat. But The Guy loves steak, so I bought the good stuff - no antibiotics, no hormone-fed cattle. Top Round steak it was and the Dynamite accompanied it well. Nice pairing. The Guy felt it tasted more expensive than its price.

I have no photo available, but the label by Stephen Ward is of Lake County's "Diamonds" - an Indian Chieftain is illustrated grieving over volcanic stones. The story on the back of the label goes like this: "According to folklore, the Moon wept when she could not be with her love, a Pomo Indian Chieftan. Her tears fell to earth, forming glistening shards. These semi-precious volcanic stones, found nowhere else, remind us that our home is unique." (Personally, having always had a feverous preoccupation for Chief CrazyHorse, this Civil War buff can identify with the moon. I am a white woman thrown over the back of a stallion by one of Crazy Horse's tribesmen and brought back to camp - Crazy Horse comes out to find me, hands tied, by the fire. He scolds his tribesmen for being so rough, unties my hands and takes me to his teepee - OK, wrong blog, sorry.)

And so, I raise my glass to the shards.

8.0 out of 10
13.9% by volume
$17.99 / 750 ml bottle

The Guy: As we go through the list of wines that The Gal and I have so enthusiastically sampled, I find a few "good" wines that deserve being set on a "I'd Drink that again" list, (note to self, make a short list). The Dynamite was one of those.

Say what you will about being able to find good wines under $10, or even $15. If I had the money and I had to choose between the Dynamite compared to a South Australia Red like Yellowtail Shiraz or Little Penguin Merlot, I'd go for the Dynamite. Much like Red, or The TURK ( A personal favorite of mine), Dynamite tasted like a more expensive wine.

Before starting this blog, the Gal and I routinely spent over $20 on a bottle of wine without thinking twice. We believed that the more expensive the wine, the better it should be. While that is true in a number of cases, I'd be hard pressed to tell you some of the $40 bottles we've had with friends are that much better than the $15/$16/$17 we continue to discover.

The same night we had Dynamite, we had another bottle of Gnarly Head Old Vine Zine ($10.99). A taste test comparison between the two wasn't even close. Yes, on it' s own, we liked Gnarly Head. But after sampling the Dynamite, the Gnarly just didn't measure up.

You'll find that experience to be common around the holidays as you spent time with friends and family sharing wines you bought, or they brought. It's part of the adventure. Just be sure to make Dynamite part of your adventure.

Thanksgiving Update: The following is my wine menu (Chardonnay to accompany appetizers of shrimp and "Bombay" cream cheese, curry, cranberry, coconut dip with stoned wheat crackers), Red Zin for the main meal and turkey (or Chardonnay for those guests who prefer white). I am hoping to also serve a Port with dessert (too many in my new favorite wine store - I was getting dizzy reading labels). Will keep you posted.

2005 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, NAPA
2006 Roux Pere & Fils Macon-Villages Chardonnay, France
2002 Turley Red Zin, Juvenile
2005 Klinker Brick Old Vine Zin, LODI

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving Wine and Chateau Ste. Michelle Gewurztraminer

Columbia Valley
Washington State

Will drink again.

See Thanksgiving wine discussion below.

This was the first time I tried Gewurztraminer. I didn't really care for it the first night I had it. It was reminiscent of cider at first, then some citrus flavor came through in a light finish. But I really enjoyed it more last night with dinner. I had it alone and with dinner (I can't remember what I made but I think it was chicken of some sort) the first night and wasn't that impressed with it. At that point I decided I'd probably not purchase it again.

But accompanying last night's dinner it was a different story. I noticed more fruit and less bite - pear with a little nutmeg or similar spice. I sauteed shrimp in sesame oil with garlic and put that over brown rice. I had a cesaer salad (with garlic croutons) and a pumpkin muffin that I'd made the day before. It was SO good with dinner, especially following the pumpkin muffin, leading me to believe that this might be a good Thanksgiving wine with the sweetness of many traditional recipes served (in our house it's parsnips and carrots, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, cranberry sauce, etc.). I think a much drier wine would be completely drowned out by all the sweetness.

Speaking of Thanksgiving: What to drink? Thanksgiving is the biggest wine drinking day of the year. Researching this very subject I found the more popular wines served are Beaujolais Noveau for red and Reisling for white. The biggest reason for this combo is the typical diversity of the meal itself. So many different dishes are served in various households. But a large part of the meal is associated with the sweeter tasting foods. Reisling goes well with sweeter dishes, as well as salty - and Thanksgiving dinner also tends to have a lot of natural saltiness. Beaujolais is a lighter red and therefore better accompanies many of the lighter dishes served (mashed potatoes, turkey, and stuffing though heavy weightwise, are on the lighter side of flavor intensity). A heavier cab might be wasted on such foods.

Personally, I haven't found a Beaujolais I really like. And, the Noveaus conveniently come out just around Thanksgiving, so from a marketing perspective, it makes sense it's the "recommended" Thanksgiving accompaniment.

In the past, my uncle has traditionally brought Reisling and Sauvignon Blanc before dinner, Pinot Noir and Red Zinfandel with the main meal, and Port with dessert (especially Pumpkin Pie). It's always been a good pick no matter what. This year, sadly, he won't be coming. When I found out there was a chance he wouldn't be coming, I set out on determining what I would serve. I had decided on Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and a Pinot Noir or Syrah. Tonight I received an E-mail from my aunt that my uncle wishes to forward a wine selection in his absence. I will have some of my own wine on hand, but I can't wait to see what he sends and write about what I ultimately serve. Stay tuned.

Interesting Fact: Beer is actually the best accompaniment to Thanksgiving dinner and was the drink of choice at Thanksgiving tables of long ago.


Candlight flickers and glows,
heads bowed for grace.
Toasts are made,
as the wine freely flows.

Sweet, savory food in abundance,
dances on the tongue.
Dishes passed amongst laughter and smiles,
later the first Christmas Carols will be sung.

It is my favorite time of year,
families and friends gathering, warm fires burning,
Thanksgiving is once again here.

7.75 out of 10
$8.99 / 750 ml
12.5% alc. by vol.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Red Guitar

Navarra, Spain

55% Tempranillo
45% Garnacha

Will drink again.

Very fruit forward, this wine was good on its own. I never did pair it with food. Hints of cherry and a bit of leather, it was slightly dry on the way down. But I liked it, especially for the price.

I heard someone describe the label as "dorky", yet it was the label I liked. Whimsical and simple. Just like the wine.

Can't beat the price.

I'm holding on your rope,
Got me ten feet off the ground
I'm hearin what you say but I just can't make a sound
You tell me that you need me
Then you go and cut me down, but wait
You tell me that you're sorry
Didn't think I'd turn around, and say...
It's too late to apologize, it's too late
I said it's too late to apologize, it's too late

One Republic - Timbaland To listen:

7.75 out of 10
$8.99 / 750 ml bottle

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hopkins Vineyard Cabernet Franc

Litchfield, CT

I can't believe I haven't posted in over a week and now today I'm posting twice. I've been tasting wines but haven't had much time. I also have a Gwerztraminer to review here and I will be enjoying a French Syrah tonight. Hopefully I will get those posted in the next couple of days.

The Guy and I taste-tested this Cabernet Franc at a wine and bread tasting event last week. We both enjoyed this very much. When I was on-line looking for a label to insert above, I read a review by a guy who is always in search of a decent Connecticut Vineyard red. He's been to many vineyards in the United States, and especially loves the pastoral settings and wines of Paso Robles wineries. He was very impressed with Hopkins Vineyard and said it reminded him a lot of the Paso Robles settings. He enjoyed all of the whites, but said he was completely disappointed with this red.

I found it to be medium to full bodied, lighter on the fruit and spice than I usually prefer, but there was a real nice earthy finish that I liked very much. I recommend it. The Vineyard recommends it be served with any of the following: grilled lamb chops, braised short ribs, flank steak, blue cheese, or French Onion Soup.

"Penicillin cures, but wine makes people happy."
--- Alexander Fleming (1881-1955)

8.0 out of 10
$17.95 / 750 ml bottle

Nora Albarino

Galicia River Banks

This was my first experience with an Albarino. I enjoyed it immensely. The Guy's mom and stepdad treated us to dinner a week ago and I decided to give Albarino a try. The waitress tried to talk me out of it. She said it was too thick and too sweet. She let me taste test it and I loved it. It tasted good on its own, with appetizers, with salad, and everyone's main entree - especially a tuna special they had.

The color was a rich gold and I could tell it was going to be heavy bodied. For me, it had a rich pear and lemon taste. I didn't find it too sweet at all - sweet usually gives me a headache. It was fruit and lemon rich, but not too sweet, and it had a very silky and smooth finish.

"If all be true that I do think,
There are five reasons we should drink:
Good wine, a friend, or being dry,
Or lest we should be by and by,
Or any other reason why."

Henry Aldrich
Five Reasons for Drinking

8.5 out of 10
$14.99 / 750 bottle
(I don't have any other particulars as I did not keep the bottle.)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

CRUSH Proprietary Red Wine

Dry Creek Valley

Will drink again.

I wasn't too sure at first about this wine. High alcohol content and a little bitter balanced slightly by vanilla and borderline "cheap" on the finish, but big fruit up front and in the middle with a pleasant (though slight) heat toward the end. However, with my pizza, it was terrific. Would pair well with a hearty, cheesy pasta dish also. For the price, it's a good "daily" wine for accompaniment to a casual dinner. Nice fruit, slightly oak and vanilla bouquet.

Will I ever see your face,
from across my table?
A guest having come to dine,
will we ever be able?
Chardonnay, Zin, Cab, Merlot or Port,
always pondering as I take in my wine.
True friendship is long, but life is too short.

8.0 out of 10
$9.99 / 750 ml bottle
15.%% alc. by vol.
Crush Winery, Healdsburg, CA

This post is by The Gal who accidentally posted under The Guy's log-in.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Coppo Barbera D'Asti 2003 and Chateau Lauriol 2003

Double whammy tonight. I only have a picture of the French (at right). The review follows the Italian wine review.

Dormers, cedar shingles, stone walls, warm wood intermingled with white paint.
How I wish it could be mine.
It stands empty, windows exposed, curtainless.

Simple yet classic, it still calls to me - I dream it's willing to wait.
The day I find it occupied.
I know my heart will break.

Another place, another time.
I try to keep the faith,
and enjoy my wine.

Coppo Barbera D'Asti Pomorosso
Piedmont, Italy

Might drink again.

The Italian. I have no photo of this wine as I had it tonight in town at a restaurant. The bouquet was heady and earthy and I thought it would be fabulous. It was good initially and then weakened (on its own). Following a bite of potato gnocci with roasted chicken, the wine's flavor seemed to strengthen. I did enjoy it in the end. But it was still slightly weaker than it's smell.

I have no other specifics on this wine other than the name and region. I did not see the bottle. If the pricing I found on-line is accurate, it is not worth the price.

7.75 out of 10
$62.99 / 750 ml bottle (So not worth the price if this is accurate)

2nd Review:

Chateau Lauriol
Bordeaux Cotes de France

Won't drink again, but not really all that bad.

The French. This wine was, as The Guy noted right off the bat, "chalky". The dryness was right there and it left a Kaopectate feeling in the mouth. Not exactly enjoyable. I did not find it as offensive as The Guy did. It's bouquet was slightly earthy and fruity. I thought it would be wonderful. The first taste immediately started with the chalkiness, but it diminished with a slight cherry finish. Just not enough to keep me interested.

7.25 out of 10
$9.99 / 750 ml bottle
13.5% alc. by vol.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Chamarre Grande Reserve Pinot Noir

Chamarre Grand Reserve

Will drink again.

(FYI - There should be an accent mark over the last "e" in Chamarre but I can't manage it here - pronunciation therefore is "sha-ma-ray".)

Chamarre, en Francais, means "bursting with colors - bursting with flavor". This was a nice Pinot Noir. Black cherry, vanilla, slight oak and licorice. The finish was slightly peppery. Very enjoyable. I have found most Pinot Noir wines I've had to be "light" or "weak". This was not - it had a lot of flavor and was full bodied. As it was only $9.99, it was a really good deal in my opinion.

What is better than to sit at the end of the day and drink wine with friends, or substitutes for friends?
---James Joyce

8.0 out of 10
$9.99 / 750 ml
12% alc. by vol.