Monday, May 5, 2014

Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blanc

If Spring ever decides to show up, I have a great wine for you if you like to sip outdoors. Josh Cellars is the "bold and expressive, but unassuming and approachable"  (read: less expensive) offering from Joseph Carr, the maker of my second favorite Cabernet (and with local ties, too!). There are many varietals, and all of the ones I have sampled are, of course, seriously DELICIOUS. Yup. Today though, in hopes of temping Mother Nature into giving us a little sunshine and maybe letting the grass get a little green for f**ks sake, I am going to tell you about my adventures with Josh Cellars Sauvignon Blanc.

This. This is extent of my sense
of adventure at the moment.
Okay, adventurous is a heavy handed term, but you've gotta understand that I have an 8 month old at home, so any day that I get an hour or two for a leisurely meal and a slow couple glasses of vino, it feels like a day that's out of the ordinary. Add to it that the wine is a really delicious one, and it's magic.

The Josh Cellars Sauv Blanc is super light and smooth, with a strong smack of citrus flavors (my palate sez predominantly grapefruit) and other fresh summertime fruits. There's also a bit of floral tones in here, that made me think, "this wine would be awesome with rosemary and olive oil triscuits and aged cheddar cheese!" Well, I was wrong. It wasn't good. Stick with a traditional recommendation of seafood and you won't be sorry.

Springtime in upstate NY...
It's great served chilled, but if you like a little less acidity to your wine, let it warm to room temp and THEN enjoy. I think it I were allowed to choose, I'd sit out on the deck with some grilled salmon and rice, a cool but not cold glass of the Josh Cellars Sauv, and some good company. Here's hoping!

Price: $

My Rating: A-

Friday, March 21, 2014

Yellow Tail Sweet Red Roo

I have spent a lot of time hemming and hawing over whether or not to write this. The reason being that I have never reviewed a wine on here that I have found to be abysmal. There is always this part of me that is afraid of giving a wine a terrible review and invoking the wrath of devotees or even hurt sales. But then I said to myself, "Self, you're being silly. The twelve people who read your blog aren't going boycott Yellow Tail and put them out of business. And as for invoking wrath, hey, that's the risk you take when you put your opinions out there on the interwebs, right?"

So here goes, my first F- review...
Generally speaking, I like my whites sweet and my reds dry. So perhaps I should have seen it coming when I wanted to spit Yellow Tail's Sweet Red Roo (SRR, cause I'm lazy) back into my glass. This wine was almost painful to drink. Not because of the flavor --although I wasn't a fan of that either-- but because it's so sweet. This wine is so sweet that any actual flavor is nearly undiscernable.

The first thing you'll notice is that the SRR has a vibrant red color. It smells heavily (surprise!) of sugar. Not like the granulated kind, but a syrupy sweetness. Not altogether unpleasant.
The sip, however, is COMPLETELY overwhelmed by this sweetness. If you're a fan of high-fructose corn syrup as a beverage, this won't much matter to you. But if you're expecting something that will taste even vaguely alcoholic (or like wine), you will probably be disappointed.

To get a good idea of what I mean, go to the store, buy yourself a bottle of grape juice, break the seal and leave it your trunk from June 1st to September 1st. Voila! Also, your teeth might ache. And you might bounce off the walls for a little while. And if you drink enough, I can promise you the worst hangover of your life.

One positive side to all will make you feel like a teenager again. Pour it into a soda bottle and drink it in your parents' basement for good measure. On a serious note, this wine is best served chilled, and would be a nice compliment to any hot-tub-type party. If you're planning one and have non-wine-drinking company coming over, the SRR is a good place to start. Just watch out for the morning after; it's a doozy!

Price: $

Rating: F- (I wasn't kidding)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Out of the Box Sangiovese Umbria

Naming this wine "Out of the Box" is a bit misleading. Because it's a boxed wine!!! :-O
It occured to me the other day that when I started this blog I heartily insisted that you CAN, in fact, get good wine in a box (because you can!). And then I never told you about any. For shame! Well here's one for you...
Out of the Box (hereafter refered to as OotB) Sangiovese is, in all honesty, a surprisingly good wine. If you can get past the stigma of the box (honestly, boxes get a bad rap), you'll probably be pleasantly surprised and glad that you tried it! I know I was, so I'm going to tell you all about it...

But first, some compelling evidence why boxed wine is (subjectively) AWESOME:

1.) You get more bang for your buck. $25 for a box of wine might seem like a lot, but generally those boxes hold five liters of wine. FIVE LITERS! That's 6 and 2/3 regular-sized bottles of wine!*

2.) If you can't finish it shortly after opening (seriously, you can't. At least, I hope you can't), it stays good for practically EVER. That's because inside the box is an airtight bag, so when you get wine out, air doesn't get in and cause the wine to turn on you. A box of wine can last you for weeks, or even months.
this gives me heart palpitations...
3.) If you drop it, the worst that will happen is you will have a dented box. No shattered glass or wine stained carpets. Who couldn't get behind THAT?!?!
4.) It looks, smells, and tastes like bottled wine once its poured in the glass. Magic!

Overall, OotB Sangiovese Umbria is a pleasant and smooth table wine, with just the right amount of expressive fruits balanced against a light acidity. You'll notice the scent of berries right off, and detect them in the sip as well. No hint of bite, this one won't tweak your cheeks or make you pucker your lips if you choose to sip it unaccompanied.

OotB Sangiovse is also a great compliment to a meal. Not super dry or particularly sweet, this one's juuuuuuust right. Enjoy with a light pasta and breadsticks. Maybe one of those Barilla dinner for twos...or a loaf of Italian bread dipped in Ragu. You know, just to keep things classy.

Price: $$

Rating: B+

* some now come in a 3 liter size, and with some brands you can even go smaller than that. But come on folks, 3 liters is still a LOT of wine!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

I know I am guilty of this...

Picture it: You go to a restauant, and order a glass of the house red with your dinner. It's (surprisingly) freaking delicious. You rave about it alllll night, and continuously exclaim that you WILL buy this wine next time you're at the store. Then, a few weeks later when you've forgotten the varietal, name of the winery, and design on the label, you wander around your local wine store, assaulting the assocites with your pleas to help you figure out what that one wine you had at that restaurant was, only able to provide them with the following description: "it was red, and had a goat on the label. Or a chicken. Or a bear. Or some kind of flower. It was a red wine with something on the label."

Guess what you probably don't walk out of that store with.

Well, if this sounds familiar to you, there is a good possibility that the wine in question was William Hill Cabernet. Popular in local restaurants, this wine was MADE for a good meal. With an earthy scent and deep red color, you're mouth is going to be watering before you even take a sip.

WH Cab is quite dry, and maybe it's just me, but William Hill Cabernet reminded me a little of drinking a Chainti-- a hearty (read: STRONG) wine to wash down your dinner with. The sip was tannic and herb-y, with hints of dark fruit (think blueberry) and spice (the pumpkin pie kind, not pepper).

Ok, this is just chicken stew, but for the
purposes of this review, let's pretend it's
game meat. YUM.
William Hill Cabernet was a welcome partner to my lasagna, but would also pair nicely with pesto, game meats (venison stew, perhaps), or red-sauced pasta of any kind. It's not great as a sipper, though. I found that when unoccompained I did not want to finish my glass.

Price: $$

My Rating: B+

Friday, February 14, 2014

Downton Abbey Bordeaux Blanc

Yup, you read that right. Downton Abbey has a WINE now. Actually, there are two of them. The first question you might be inclined to ask upon learning of this is: why? It's not like these wines are made at Highclere Castle, or even in Britain, for that matter. The two Bordeaux, Blanc and Claret, are French (you know, from the Bordeaux region...), and were merely *inspired* by the show. I think the idea is, as you watch Carson decant a fine Bordeaux for the Crawleys to ignore at their fancy-pants dinner party, that you'll reach for a glass of your own. Yay Capitalism!!

Okay, I'll admit it. I got a bottle. I'm a big fan of the show. And while I think a DA-inspired wine is SUPER hokey, I kinda HAD to. Don't judge me. Let's call this week's installment Lessons in Faux-Sophistication... Ready class? Pinkies up!!

Go ahead and judge a book by its cover with this one. As far as labels go, it's pretty, with it's gold border and pencil-wrought Highclere Castle prominently displayed. The Blanc is a very pale yellow in color, which to me seems classier than an apple juice colored white. Dark yellow colored white wines just make me think of dehydration...speaking of classy...

I had the Blanc at room temperature, which was perfectly fine, but I did wonder if the flavors would be more prominent if I had been patient enough to chill it first. The begining of the sip was surprisingly crisp for a luke-cold wine, and there were definite citrus notes and a tad more sweetness than I was expecting. Fairly acidic and reasonably oak-free, this one's a real cheek-tweeker with a bit of pleasing metalic bite to it.

I'll take this one. :)
I had my DA Blanc with taco salad (seasoned chicken, lettuce, brown rice, black beans, sharp cheddar and tons of salsa), which was a pretty good combination, odd as it may seem. And that's a good thing, because I'm about as classy as a monster truck rally. No crudite or caviar for me!

If you want to try it for yourself, pick up a bottle at PWC (chill it!) and crack it open this Sunday at 9!

Price: $

My Rating: B

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Santero Strawberry Moscato

This week, gentle reader, I'm going to get a little girly. Those of you who know me IRL* are probably laughing so hard right now, because "feminine" is a word that appears pretty far down on the Top-Five-Hundred-Words-Used-To-Describe-Me list. It falls somewhere between "math-whiz" and "tall".

my bad...
But, when it comes to intoxicating libations, stuff me in a tutu and give me a puppy commercial to weep at, 'cause I LOVE ME SOME GIRLY DRINKS. Fruity, pink concoctions are my friend. If they're yours too, you'll really enjoy this week's wine: Santero Strawberry Moscato.

This is the sort of wine you want to have on hand when you're craving a Mai Tai, but, well, you're at home by yourself, eating a quart of ice cream in your pajamas, and you'd have to get dressed AND leave the house... or in any other non-pathetic circumstance in which you find yourself craving a fruity, alcoholic beverage but you don't have the ability or inclination to create one.

Santero makes several Moscato + fruit wines, but today I'm talking about the strawberry for a couple of different reasons: 1.) It's PINK, ergo it's a good choice for Valentine's Day, if you're into that. 2.) We're tasting it at PWC on Friday, February 7th, along with a bunch of other fun red and pink drinks.

Moscatos, by nature, are a sugary-ass wine. Sorry, there's no other way to say that accurately. On a sweetness scale of 1 to 10, Moscatos are a 46. They tend to have light fruit flavors about them, like peach or mango. This lends them to being a good wine to infuse with actual fruit flavors. And that's just what Santero has done.

The first thing you'll notice about the Santero Strawberry Moscato-- it's bubbly! Moscatos can be flat, slightly effervescent, or bursting with bubbles. This one's quite carbonated, so it works well in a situation where you might drink champagne (coughvalentinesdaycough), but your unsophisticated palate thinks that champagne tastes a little like vomit (yup, that's me).

The scent and taste of the wine is straight up strawberries and sugar. You've been forwarned, this is a *very* sweet wine. But it's also quite tasty. Santero Strawberry Moscato isn't the sort of wine you pair with a meal, but it's great with (or heck, FOR) dessert. Pairs well with chocolates in heart-shaped boxes. Hint Hint.

Price: $

My Rating: B

Friday, January 31, 2014

Windmill Old Vine Zinfandel

It's been a while since I've had any Zinfandel. I forgot how much I like it. It's a varietal that lends itself to a nickname (Zin), because it's friendly and accessable. It's the "Bob" of wines. Everyone knows and likes a Bob. In fact, I have TWO uncles named Bob, and I like them both very well.

This vine looks like it will
eat your soul. Badass.
The Zin I had the pleaseure of making the acquaintence of this week was Windmill Old Vine Zinfandel. Before I get to the tasting, here's an interesting tidbit for you: "Old Vine" is a term used with grapes that are, quite simply, grown on an old vine. Grape vines can live and produce fruit upward of 120 YEARS. As they age, however, they produce smaller and smaller crops. So the thinking is, the smaller the yield, the better the wine. I don't know if that's true or not, but it's interesting to consider. Google My research concludes the oldest known grape-producing vine has been used to make wine since the 1600's. Ho. Ly. BALLS.

A bottle of yum!
But, I digress...
Last night, to celebrate getting the little one to bed in record time (asleep by 8:15!) and irritating the crap out of someone whom I loathe, I poured myself a small glass of Windmill Old Vine Zin. Ahh, what a way to end an evening.

Because I like to pretend I know what I'm doing, I started off my wine tasting experience with a deep inhale. The scent was rich and earthy, like moist, picnic dirt (just play along with me, ok?), and the wine itself looked heavy, a stick-to-you-glass sort of red.

The sip was a powerful experience, perhaps because I don't get to drink wine much anymore, or maybe just because it's a powerful wine. Heavy on the berry flavor, slightly sweet-- or maybe not precisely sweet, but JUICY-- and with a hint of velvety chocolate and fresh cut wood. Yup, I said it. Wood.
Because I can't talk about Windmills
without thinking of this...

Windmill Old Vine Zin is a nice sipper, and was a great way for me to wind down after a long day while enjoying some Thursday night TV. If you prefer to hang with your friend Windmill Zin at a meal, you could do a lot worse than pairing it with something cheesy, like alfredo, or even just a straight up cheese platter (cheese platter is TOTALLY a meal). Windmill would also be good with pulled pork or other assorted barbeque goodies.

Price: $

My Rating: A