Tag Archives: Wine under $20

GUILTY! – 19 Crimes

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photograph of imprisoned O'Reilly, 1866

I recently had the pleasure of attending my first regional wine meeting for Whole Foods Market. We were introduced to hundreds of wines and given the opportunity to taste them all. ¬†As you can imagine it was a bit difficult to differentiate the wines after the first 100 ūüôā ¬†even though we were spitting and not swallowing. Luckily I took notes that I could actually read and this wine made the list.

Meet John Boyle O’Reilly [pictured at left] from the 19 CRIMES wine bottle label. ¬†John along with others are featured via real mug shots on each bottle with the real crimes listed on each box/case of wine.

19 CRIMES WINE

The corks used in each bottle list the 19 CRIMES which could make things interesting for the cork collectors out there. I got #11 Counterfeiting The Copper Coin on my bottle. Crime #12 pictured here; BIGAMY.

From the 19 CRIMES website:

NINETEEN CRIMES turned criminals into colonists. Upon conviction British rogues guilty of those crimes were sentenced to Australia rather than death. ¬†This punishment by “transportation” began in 1788 and many of the lawless died at¬†sea. ¬†The rough-hewn prisoners that reached Australia lived in servitude under the lash. Pioneers in a frontier penal colony, they forged a new country and new lives, brick by brick. This Shiraz Durif blend celebrates the rules they broke and the culture they built.

19 CRIMES wine

Soon after our regional meeting I brought in 10 cases to display in our Whole Foods Market North Miami wine department. Sales have been brisk and continue to increase as word spreads. The packaging is a big draw; frosted bottle, mug shots, historical facts. Also the sale price of $12.99 is a good price point for those willing to experiment on a new wine while maybe discovering  a new favorite.

Last night I decided to buy a bottle to make sure my somewhat blurred memory of this wine was correct.  Whew, luckily for me it was!  My notes:

Nose; rich red and dark fruit, plum, spice, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, tobacco, molasses.

Palate; vanilla, butterscotch/molasses, pepper, violet, licorice, red fruit finish.

Not included above is my better half’s descriptor of; cherry Popsicle stick. With my dumbfounded gaze he added; “you know, not the Popsicle itself but when you chew the stick afterwards”. ¬†Adding; “if new tennis ball can can be¬†used by others as a descriptor then I can use cherry Popsicle stick!” ¬†There you have it, maybe a first, right here on Whine and Cheers for Wine. Come to think of it; red fruit, cherry, wood…he may be on to something!

This wine is an easy drinker and SMOOTH. Very well-balanced for a wine with 13-14% alcohol. It disappears before your very eyes. So yes, I will continue to recommend this nicely priced, well packaged southeastern Australian blend of Shiraz and¬†Petite Sirah aka Durif. ¬†Heck, I’ll continue to buy it myself! ¬†¬°SALUD!

My Zin-ful Weekend – Old Vine Zinfandel that is..

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My weekend of Zin….

I must confess. It wasn’t planned and I had no control over it. Well, almost no control,¬† I guess I could have said no but since it was mostly my idea and I was hosting;¬†I must enter my plea¬†as; guilty.

My weekend was Zin-ful, full of Zin everywhere I turned. Zin Zin Zin. It was innocent enough when it started Friday after work over pizza. Ending Sunday night surrounded by friends over artesian cheeses [thank you Winn Dixie Cheese Steward!] and my lamb chili in what now has become known as BYO-Zin night.

As most of these unplanned social get togethers go the fourth or so wine is always a little difficult to recall but I did my best at keeping notes on as many of the wines as possible.

Starting the weekend off was the Project Paso 2009 Paso Robles Old Vine Zinfandel a new discovery for me and one I enjoyed so much I have shared it with friends and customers ever since. This wine is produced by Don Sebastiani and Sons who are known for producing accessibly priced quality wines:

The search for the class grapes led our grandfather to Sam Balakian in Paso Robles 30 years ago. Since then, we have been quietly blending Paso Robles juice to add depth, spice and complexity to our California appellation wines. What started out as a small project has now come to fruition. To pay homage to all the work our families have done over the past three decades, we felt it only proper to keep the name “Project Paso.”

Winemaker NotesThere is a vast complexity of flavors and aromas in this wine, driven by the unique Paso Robles soils and the blend of three Zinfandel vineyards. The nose opens up with dried fruit and concentrated blueberry aromas, with white pepper, warm Indian spices, and a touch of gaminess¬†rounding out the background. This wine is similarly complex on the palate, with chocolate-covered cherry flavors balanced by old vine spice and a hint of sweet cigar. Earthy, medium-bodied, with a touch of minerality, this varietally correct Zinfandel gets its depth from Paso’s red soils.

My notes for Project Paso 2009 Paso Robles Old Vine Zinfandel:

Lingering full legs on the glass, dark fruit forward even jammy on the nose with prune, raisin and black cherry. Medium body with medium to light tannins. Very berry on the palate with a dark drier finish softening nicely as it opens.  Comments from guests; Classic Zin, vanilla taste, sugared plum scent, tasted dried fruits and a bit of chocolate, very earthy, lovely red color,  not too strong, not too weak..just right.

I usually see the Project Paso priced in the $14.99 range but recently as low as $11.99. Even lower on-line where it is attainable in the $10.00 range. At the lower price points [$10-$12] this is a BUY selection for me.

ST. Amant Mohr Fry Ranch 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi Appellation.

Next up: A discovery at one of our Total Wine & More classes last year that I was somehow able to cellar this long.  We were blown away by this powerful and intense Zinfandel at that time and I can see why.  In comparison to the other Zinfandels we sampled it is the NEW WORLD style of wine winner; very flavorful as all the others were but bolder. This one made the others seem as light as a Pinot Noir. Priced at $19.99 here is information provided by Total Wine & More:

Lodi, CA- In the heart of the Lodi Appellation. A classic Old Vine Zin Рbig, ripe, and chewy with rich raspberry and spicy blackberry flavors finishing with soft supple tannins. From the Mohr-Fry Ranch vineyard with 66+ year old vines. Certified green sustainable winegrowing vineyard.

My notes for the ST. Amant Mohr Fry Ranch 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel:

Dark and rich in color. Raisin, plum and prune on the nose with some wood [oak, cedar?].  Also, tobacco, violet/licorice and sweet fruit smell noted. In addition; blackberry and cocoa were detected on the palate.

This wine¬†would be¬†a worthy repeat offender for when I am again feeling Zin-ful and a good example of how different same varietal wines can be. This is a strong, bold, powerful, chewy wine.¬† In a good way of course ūüôā

Predator 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi Appellation

I was first introduced to this consistently good wine, also from Lodi, a couple of years ago by close friends.  In fact, friends in attendance at the BYO-Zinfandel social mentioned earlier.  Same friends who had me buy them three cases recently when I came across Predator at our local Fresh Market store.  As per the manager; I made his day! as I loaded my shopping cart with 36+ bottles.

Produced by Rutherford Wine Company the 2011 vintage was recently awarded the Silver Medals in the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition and I love the fact that they use lady bugs as a natural method of removing insects harmful to the vines.

Winemaker notes:

Predator¬†Zinfandel is sourced¬†from 50+year old vines that produce rich and intensely flavored fruit. The resulting wine is big and bold with hallmark “old vine” velvety texture, spice and vibrant varietal flavors.¬† The lady bug is a natural predator that feeds on insects harmful to plants.¬† “Natural predation” is just one of the many sustainable vineyard practices that eliminates the need for synthetic pesticides.

My notes:

Medium garnet in color, Pinot Noir like in body. No legs to speak of at first, surprising because of the +14% alcohol level, but developing somehow soon afterwards.  Sugar cured ham on the nose! I am not crazy or alone. Others report it to be bacon. Also noted was a spicy orange peel that may also have to do with the ham, leather, cocoa, casis, and a moist aroma I would describe as wet earth or possibly mushrooms. Light tannins with an acidic finish that was balanced out nicely by food and time as wine was decanted.

Quite the night was had by all and quite the Zin-filled weekend for me. Officially five Old Vine Zinfandels were recorded [I still have the bottles!] and I have written about three here. The other two were;

Adventurous Macchia 2009 Amador County Zinfandel Linsteadt Vineyard available at Total Wine and the 2009 Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel

Although quite varied all were representative of the Zinfandel varietal and are¬†very worthy of a repeat performance at¬†the next POP UP BYO-Zin party but with better note taking practices required!!¬† That said I am already wondering what the next BYO varietal theme¬†should be…..

¬°SALUD!

From Wine-Searcher:

Zinfandel¬†(or ‘Zin’as it is affectionately known in its American homelands) is a dark-skinned red wine grape variety widely cultivated in California. It arrived in the Americas from Europe in the early years of the 19th century, and was an immediate success in its Napa and Sonoma¬†strongholds. It wasn’t until DNA research was carried¬†out in California in the 1990s that the variety was confirmed (as had long been suspected) to be Italy’s Primitivo¬†under a different name, or Crljenak¬†Kastelanski, originally from Croatia’s Adriatic coast.

Warm and Cozy with Trivento’s Amado Sur – Red Blends Continued..

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Warm and Cozy with Trivento’s

 2010 Amado Sur from Argentina

The luck of the red blends was with us again recently when I finally sat down to experience this¬†delicious wine.¬† As I’ve asked before; can a wine make you feel warm and cozy? My answer is YES and for me the Amado Sur falls into this category.

I was drawn to this wine in our store because of its varietal blend; 80% Malbec, 10% Bonarda and 10% Syrah. Being a fan of all three led me to believe that I was going to enjoy their coming together and boy did I ever. I seem to not be the only one because it is flying off our shelves. I can take credit for a few bottles myself plus the happy returning customers that I have recommended Amado Sur to, but not the one to two cases we are going through weekly. So much so that we just ordered 10 cases for an end-cap display.  With the added benefit of a sale price and coupons we may just be ordering even more soon.

Trivento¬†information from Banfi Importers: When in the mid-1990s¬†Concha y Toro, Chile‚Äôs leading wine producer, announced its successful purchase¬†a collection of¬†vineyards (now accounting for 3,185 acres) in the Mendoza region of neighboring Argentina, there was little doubt on either side of the Andes that change was in the air. Wind is the agent of¬†change, so it was only fitting that the new venture was named ‚Äú Trivento‚ÄĚ (Three Winds), a whimsical reference to three winds that sweep through Mendoza and are such a distinguishing feature of the region‚Äôs climate and environment.

Upon decanting the first thing I noticed was its rich aroma which included; dark fruit, caramel and an undertone of wood.  As it breathed I also noted; black pepper, blackberry, black olive and oak on the nose.  Once poured its bright garnet color, more so along the edges of the glass, brought attention to the lovely slow-moving legs. Both of these I believe a cause of the wines alcohol level.  Additionally noted on the palate were; chocolate, a sweetening of the wine as it opened and what I listed as violet but in actuality may have been anise or licorice.

Winemaker notes: A deep red wine with dark blue tones and aromas of dark fruit combining with notes of black pepper, anise, cinnamon and chocolate. Lush flavors of plums and berries give way to velvety tannins and a persistent and pleasant finish.

We paired the Amado Sur with an aged cheddar cheese to start followed by pepperoni pizza. It worked very well with both, making the cheddar explode with flavor and the pizza even more spicy. I am looking forward to enjoying this wine again and again and even more so sharing it with family, friends and customers. ¡SALUD!

Price range: $12-17.00

Wine Spectator Review:

A floral red, with juicy blackberry, raspberry and plum notes supported by medium tannins, as the grippy finish unfolds with hints of mulled spice and licorice. Smart Buy. 90 Points.

Nathan Wesley – Wine Spectator – October, 2012

Olympics Closing Ceremony with Piper Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine

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Piper Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine

It is hard to believe that two weeks have gone by since I wrote about the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony and our wine filled weekend.  Suffice it to say my DVR and wine cellar [yes, still the guest room] have seen a lot of action since then.  The events in London have kept the world enthralled so what better way to celebrate than with a sparkling wine.

This is my first time drinking this sparkler from Piper’s main house: Piper Heidsieck.¬† Produced in California’s Sonoma County; it cannot be called Champagne.¬† Usually priced at under $20.00 and sometimes even under $15.00 this bubbly would compare in price to California’s Chandon and Washington State’s Domaine Ste. Michelle.¬† I paid $13.99 reduced from $19.00 at a Winn-Dixie grocery store.

The Brut blend is; 60% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier.¬† The aging is done¬†on lees for a minimum of 18 months.¬† As per Wine SpectatorThis sparkling wine is made¬†from hand-picked Champagne grapes grown in the Northern reaches of Sonoma County and the wine is aged¬†on the yeast for a minimum 2¬Ĺ year period of time. This gives the wine a complex bread-yeast aroma and lightly yeasty flavor. The wine is aged¬†in large, French oak barrels (1625 gallon barrel foudres), before¬†bottling and secondary fermentation. By aging this wine in oak, there is imparted to the wine a toasty/vanilla character in addition to the light apple and lemon flavors that the wine ordinarily possesses.

I found it interesting that this¬†NV (Non-Vintage) Cuv√©e¬†is produced by blending reserve wines from various years to produce a wine that has consistent flavor.¬† Pale gold straw in color, its yeasty aroma on the nose was most noticeable at first.¬† As the wine expanded and warmed scents¬†such as green apple, vanilla and peach and even plum were also detected. The same was noted on the palate.¬†¬†The plum [dark fruit] flavor I at least¬†attribute to the Pinot’s in the blend.

I enjoyed Piper’s NV Cuv√©e would buy it again¬†and would whole heartedly recommend it to others.¬† I would be interested in trying it along side¬†the other sparkling wines I mentioned such as Chandon and Domaine Ste. Michelle. Even more so with a true French version. There are a lot of sparklers and even Champagne’s out there in the under $20.00 range to taste and I would be glad to volunteer my services ūüôā¬† In fact I think I may have just thought of our next post 2012 Olympics “theme” for a night in with friends…..¬† ¬°SALUD!

Winemaker information:

Winemaker full text

Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi 2010

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Ad poster for Cycles Gladiator; Lithograph

Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi 2010

I have wanted to try this wine ever since I began my job as a Wine Steward a few months ago. Yes, the label is attractive but what got my attention was that it is part of the well-regarded Hahn Family Wines collection. Also included in this group are; Acacia, Huntington, Lucienne plus Smith & Hook.

Now I have to admit that I am not a fan of the somewhat¬†historical story on the back label of this bottle of wine. To me it comes across as pure marketing strategy and one that really tells you nothing about the wine. That said, I guess it could appeal to others and I’ll let the readers decide.

Back label;

Cycles Gladiator symbolizes a celebration of¬†the freedom and happiness that pervaded Europe in the late 19th century‚ÄĒan era known as the Belle Epoque. This era marked many notable inventions and improvements to daily life, not the least of which was the modern bicycle or Le Bicycle Velocipede.
Started in Paris in 1891 by Alexandre Darracq¬†(an eccentric, who would later become famous for manufacturing automobiles), Gladiator was one of the dozens of bicycle companies that saturated the market when the cycling craze boomed. The Golden Age of cycling reached its pinnacle in 1895‚ÄĒand that same year printer G. Massias unveiled one of the great Parisian advertising posters. Only four of these original posters exist today.
The famed artwork that once showcased the stylish Cycles Gladiator now graces the bottles of our classic wines from California’s renowned Lodi appellation. The mythological image of the nymph riding her winged bicycle captures the grace and uninhibited beauty of our hillside vineyards.

Luckily I did not hold the flowery story against the wine. It did not disappoint.¬† From its dark red purple color upon decanting to the aromas of dark fruit, raisin, casis and slight oak on the nose.¬† It’s earthiness expanded on the palate with low to medium tannins smoothing as the wine opened. This is one easy drinking medium bodied wine that I could see being an easy choice for an everyday wine. It’s smoothness for a Cab was very noticeable and may have something to do with the fact that it is blended¬†with 13% Petite Sirah.¬† Also, when I noted “raisin” I also wrote down “sugar’d” not proper spelling I realize but as I review my notes I could see where this wine would appeal to those who prefer their wines a tad sweeter than dry. I say tad because this is not a sweet red wine¬†similar to those being marketed now.¬† I would describe it as a very good red well priced for the masses. And sometimes there is nothing wrong with that ūüôā¬† ¬°SALUD!

Pricing; I found quite the range when researching. I paid $9.00 at a grocery store for my bottle but I also saw it as low as $8.00 and as high as $14.99 in other establishments and on the web.  I think I would cap my future investment for this wine at the $10.00 range.

Vineyard information:

Along the Sacramento River Delta sits the rich farmlands of the Lodi appellation and the new home to Cycles Gladiator Winery. A grape-growing region since the 1850’s, Lodi is now home to more than 80,000 acres of premium varietals and more than 50 wineries, and is quickly becoming recognized as one of California’s most exciting wine appellations.
Noted for its classic Mediterranean climate and its deep, fertile sandy loam soils, it is the perfect environment for the production of world class wines. The high daytime temperatures are moderated by cooling Delta breezes which flow through the area in the evenings, creating ideal growing conditions.
This emerging appellation is home to the vineyards that produce many Cycles Gladiator wines including Cabernet, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, and the fruit is sustainably grown under the ‚ÄúLodi Rules‚ÄĚ certification .
The new Cycles Gladiator Winery and Visitor Center is located in one of the oldest continuously operating wineries in Lodi, a nod to the colorful history of both the region and the Cycles Gladiator story.

Bastille Day Wine – July 14th Celebrating La F√™te Nationale with Chateau’s; Montet and Bonnet

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July 14th the annual La F√™te Nationale celebration in France or Bastille Day as¬†it is mostly known in English-speaking countries is upon us once again.¬† I now know that the Tour de France should have been a sign since it is always scheduled to correspond with this celebratory occasion.¬† Better yet, ¬†I/we have another holiday to drink wine to.¬†This may not be a “wine” holiday for most but the French are famous for their brew so…..I say let’s drink some French wine and since we are amidst the Summer season with heat records being broken every which way,¬† I will be drinking and writing about two French white wines.¬† Both these wines caught my attention last year while attending a Bordeaux class and a Sauvignon class. I’ve enjoyed them regularly since and if I may add,¬†both¬†would easily be my own Chateau wine if I wasn’t always out there looking for my next possible Chateau wine.

Should you be interested in more facts/myths about Bastille Day check out this fellow WordPress site I came across and found quite entertaining: http://irishherault.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/bastille-facts-myths/

Chateau Montet¬†was discovered¬†first [in a Bordeaux class] and I have since enjoyed their 2009 and 2010 vintages. Even more so I love the price! So much so that I bought a case the first time we crossed paths. The retail price is $8.99 but I was able to get it closer to $7.00 thanks to a sale and an additional 10% discount for the case at Total Wine and More.¬† I dare say this is the perfect under $10.00 wine for White Bordeaux [Sauvignon Blanc] wine lovers out there.¬† The wine comes from the area known as Entre-Deux-Mers, famous for its dry white wines and I can see why. We paired it with various cheeses but I can see it pairing wonderfully with seafood and lighter fare.¬† Noted on the nose and palate were citrus [grapefruit], pear, grass and a very appealing minerality. A pale greenish-yellow in color with light to medium body.¬† Again, this could easily be my “go to” dry white wine.¬† Should you be interested in reading another review of the Chateau Montet check out the following¬†White Sauvignon Review¬†link; http://whitesauvignon.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/hello-world/

Chateau Tour de Bonnet Blanc I was lucky enough to discover in a Sauvignon class. It also comes from the appellation of Entre-deux-Mers and is produced by; André Lurton.  Chateau Bonnet is located in his home village of Grezillac in the north of the Entre-deux-Mers appellation and has been under his control since 1956.

The Chateau Bonnet White Bordeaux is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle fermented in 100% stainless steel. It is pale straw in color with a very inviting bouquet. Its taste intensity is ample with a crisp style. This wine starts with classic fruit and flower aromas with an underlying minerality.  On the palate notes of apple, grapefruit, grass and minerals were detected. I also noted fig and or guava. The sweetness was dry with acidity low on this light bodied wine with a lengthy finish.  The Chateau Bonnet retails for $14.99 and is a great choice to serve as an aperitif with cheeses or with lighter meals. Its taste is distinctive and somewhat comforting. I know that may sound crazy to some but as I have written before some wines just make me feel cozy. I would add this one to the list!

So, as I end this French themed post celebrating the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution¬†I/we at least have one more excuse to drink and appreciate good wine.¬† Happy Bastille day, ¬†¬°SALUD! or more appropriately ¬†√Ā¬†votre¬†sant√©!

Battle of Sonoma Cab’s: Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve vs. Rodney Strong

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Battle of Sonoma County Cab’s: 2008 Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve¬† vs.¬† 2009 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon

Somehow this Cab “event” just happened over the last week. Originally I was going to write about these in separate posts but realized, as the empty bottles kept staring at me on my desk, that not only had we drank two Cabernet Sauvignon’s back to back [not on same day] but they were both from California’s Sonoma County.

Although I did buy both at a grocery store [Winn-Dixie] and¬†because I realize many if not most grocers do not sell $20.00-$30.00 bottles of wine I have decided not to classify them as such for this post.¬† As usually happens lately¬†I was attracted to both wines because of their pricing. Not their retail price which runs from close to $20.00 for the Rodney Strong and $28.00 for the Kendall Jackson but their SALE prices.¬† When I have the opportunity to drink $30.00 bottles of wine @ close to 50% off you bet they get my attention. Heck it actually makes my mouth water if I am being honest. Now if only I could find some $70.00+ wines on sale 75% off… I can dream can’t I?

Notes from the tastings:

2008 Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve  Dark purple almost black in color. On the nose; a very rich overall aroma, very appealing. Noted; vanilla, cedar, tobacco, spices as it opened with berry [casis] coming through. Minerality [clay soil?], leather and mocha were also detected as the wine opened. Tasting added dark fruit [plum, fig] along with black pepper.

2009 Rodney Strong  Purple dark garnet in color. Aroma; abundant.  Interestingly this wine was thought to be a Zinfandel upon decanting by a fellow drinker. On the nose we detected; caramel/molasses, wood [cedar], vanilla, tobacco, pepper, dark fruit [currant], and raisins [dried fruit]. Tasting added an earthy minerality, mushrooms, anise, chocolate with a lingering finish and the wine becoming more tannic as it opened instead of the usual reverse. I would better describe it as a long tannic finish.

Rating tidbits found: Wine Enthusiast¬†rates the Rodney Strong at 87 and the KJ at 90 points. Wine Spectator and their vintage¬†chart rates the 2008 Sonoma vintage at 86 with a Hold¬†suggestion for drinkability¬†and the 2009 vintage although not finalized is estimated¬†to be in the 83-86 range. I found this information after drinking the wines,¬† I do enjoy researching my wines but prefer to not look too deeply into the ratings until I have my say ūüôā The WS vintage chart ratings seem a bit low to me but that could just be due to the saturation of the market with marketing campaigns quoting 90 POINTS! or higher from all types of sources out there. That said, if any organization out there wants to quote my rating on a wine you know how to reach me LOL.

My opinion on these two wines is close to the Wine Enthusiast rating.  The Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve was bold and consistent throughout the evening, delicious. Something interesting happened with the Rodney Strong. It was incredible out of the bottle and by itself but as soon as we paired it with food [camembert & goat cheese to start with mushroom pesto pizza later] the flavor of the wine deadened. At first I blamed the pairing but interestingly enough about 1-1.5 hours after decanting the flavor of the wine came back close to its original intensity. I had never experienced flavors fading and then returning as the wine breathed.  I should also point out that the KJ being a 2008 may have a maturity advantage over the Rodney Strong.

I have to say I enjoyed both wines. In a blind tasting I probably would have picked the Kendall Jackson but who knows; the Rodney Strong was delicious straight out of the bottle too.  Would I buy these again? Yes! But hopefully at great SALE prices.  ¡SALUD!

Kendall Jackson winemaker notes:

This Cabernet has distinct flavors of blackberry, blueberry, black currant and cassis with enticing fragrances of mocha and nutmeg. Subtle notes of smoke, cedar and tobacco leaf round out the lingering finish.

Grand Reserve is a winemaker’s blend of our mountain, ridge, hillside and benchland¬†grapes grown along California’s cool coastal appellations. We hand select grapes from our best estate vineyards and then monitor, taste and hand-hold each individual¬†lot throughout the winemaking process. Each lot is kept separate, barrel-aged and handcrafted – boutique winery style. Our winemakers have an unmatched palate of flavors, toast levels and terroir nuances from which they masterfully blend these exemplary rich, deep and complex wines.

Blend: 98% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1% Cabernet Franc, 1% Malbec

alcohol by volume:14.5%

Rodney Strong winemaker notes:

Aromas of blackberry, cocoa, and currant lead to a rich, layered mouthfeel, replete with black cherry, cedar, and cassis, and structured with lush, mature tannins. Enjoy this seductive Cabernet Sauvignon now and over the next several years.

alcohol by volume:13.5%

Asheville North Carolina’s own – BILTMORE Century Red Wine

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Front facade of Biltmore Estate, Asheville, No...

Asheville North Carolina’s own: BILTMORE Century Red Wine

We discovered this wine about 8 years ago while visiting the beautiful Biltmore Estate¬†in Asheville North Carolina and their¬†vineyard. More importantly their tasting room! Although wines were plentiful, for some reason this one in particular stuck out.¬† As we returned with other visiting guests to our Tryon NC home over the years we were repeatedly drawn to this one blend as we ordered cases to take home or had friends buy¬†bottles for us as they visited. For years this particular blend was only available at the Estate itself. A few years ago on-line ordering was expanded to include our other home state of Florida which made ordering easy but the shipping costs not pretty. Originally priced in the $16.00 range shipping would put it in the mid-low $20’s range. Not exactly a deal for what we considered a very good every day wine.

Flash forward, while visiting our home in North Carolina, I walk into a Fresh Market¬†and what do I see but BILTMORE Century Red Wine for $9.99!!! My next automatic step was to call friends down south to see how many bottles I should drive back upon my return.¬† Let’s just say a dent in the inventory was made. At $16.00 this wine is good at $9.99 this wine is GREAT.

A few years ago as my hankering for wine knowledge expanded I decided to research this wine to see why I was attracted to it. As it turns out this blend includes Sangiovese [one of my favorites varietals] and Merlot a varietal I am appreciating more so every day.  Although I have seen this wine priced in the $9-11.00 range at local grocery stores it is still $15.99 on the website with possible discounts for quantity purchases. If you can find it, give it a try! SALUD!

My notes: A Sangiovese/Merlot blend,  light to medium in body, dark in color, robust [I think of it as a controlled fruit bomb],  pepper, tobacco on the nose with the taste and acidity of strawberry and dark plum as it opens. I recommend decanting for about 30 min.