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Revisiting – Los Vascos, Cabernet Sauvignon; Colchagua Valley Chile

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LOS VASCOS 2011I originally wrote about this wine and the 2010 vintage about three years ago in my Grocery Store Wine series. I had discovered it in my role as a Wine Steward for a national grocery store chain and its Rothschild pedigree along with QPR [quality:price ratio] drew me in. When I became a Wine Buyer for Whole Foods MarketI was happy to see Los Vascos was an option for our set. At the end of this post I am including my original notes for the 2010 as we delve into the 2011 vintage.

As per the winemaker;

2011 vintage: The viticultural year was once again characterized by very dry climatic conditions, but not as severe as 2010. Advanced techniques ensured very efficient irrigation of the vineyard, and the vines were able to fully express themselves. Due to a cold spring, yields were lower than usual, comparable with 2010 levels. This resulted in smaller bunches and smaller grapes, which in turn translated into excellent concentration and remarkable quality.

It is interesting to me that the 2010 vintage is considered to be “comparable” to some degree to the 2011. For me the wines were very different. Maybe the varying use of irrigation was a factor and or even my changing palate.

The Los Vascos 5,436 acre estate is 25 miles from the sea in a closed valley at the center of Chile.  Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon is grown with small percentages of other varietals all estate bottled also included; Chardonnay, Carmenere, Syrah, Malbec. It is the largest vineyard in the Colchagua Valley and between 250,000-300,000 cases are produced of the Cabernet annually. That may explain the value factor of this wine: 3.5 million bottles. Luckily for us the quality is also there.

My notes: 

On the lighter side of medium bodied. Nose of rich dark fruit and peppery spice; cedar, tobacco box. On the palate; fruit at the forefront with spice at the mid-palate and a finish of black cherry. Lighter than your typical California Cab, more old world than new, low tannins making it an easy drinker poured right at the bottle with decanting possible but not required.

I recall the 2010 vintage as being a bit heartier but just as smooth.  I can see why this wine continues to fly off our shelves on a weekly basis. The under $10.00 price tag draws you in but the quality and easy drink-ability keep you coming back. I am looking forward to future vintages.  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker’s Notes

Bright ruby red color. Remarkably expressive with a fruity nose: aromas of blueberries, cherries, blackcurrants and raspberries blending perfectly with notes of pink pepper, paprika, curry and saffron. Velvety, full-bodied and seductive in the mouth with mild acidity and gentle tannins giving very pleasant mouthfeel.

Domaines Barons de Rothschild [Lafite]/Los Vascos, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; Colchagua Valley Chile′LOS VASCOS 2010

For a while now I have thought about reviewing and categorizing what I would consider “Grocery Store” wines.  These would be wines that you happen to come across while doing your weekly shopping, advertised bargains [love those!], non-advertised sales [love those even more!], a bottle you may pick up on the way to a dinner party etc.  Your standard variety wine which you can pretty much get anywhere; some people swear by them others avoid them like the plague. Luckily as the general wine drinking public expands their horizons so have grocery stores when considering the selections and variety they stock including some very nice higher end options.  Of course location may define a Grocery Store wine but for the most part I will use this as a generalized term including everything from a two buck special to high-end wines which some people would never consider buying with their hard-earned $$. RULE: The wine must be available at a grocery store but with one caveat; I may go as far as including drug stores since their wine inventory is ever-increasing also.

The icing on the cake [or some may say fate] for my Grocery Store idea was pretty much sealed when about two weeks ago I was hired to be a Wine Steward for the grocer WINN-DIXIE [as covered in a recent blog post]. Grocery store wines some may ask? Welcome to my world 🙂

I have chosen the Chilean Los Vascos to be my first Grocery Store wine selection. Being completely honest I was first drawn to this wine in particular because of its SALE price. Secondly by the fact that it was from Chile and I love my South American wines. As I have started to research I am now also impressed by its pedigree:

Los Vascos one of Chile’s oldest wine estates is managed by Domaines Barons de Rothschild [Lafite], who began a comprehensive modernization and investment program in 1988. The 560 hectare vineyard is located in the Cañeten valley of the Colchagua province which offers a pre-phylloxera Bordeaux rootstock.

My notes: Color, a rich dark garnet. At opening and prior to officially decanting I detected a strong wood [oak] scent on the nose. Not overly strong but detectable up front with more dark fruit scents [plum, raisin] as it breathed. Interestingly enough as I describe the scent as “dark fruit” I also detected some strawberry on the nose so it may be more accurately described as a combination of both.  Also noticeable on the nose was a distinct earthy, terroir, barnyard aroma that faded and somehow turned to a guava/fig scent as the wine opened over 30 minutes. As we began to sip and let the wine sit in our mouth I was very impressed with its smoothness. No heat or burn from alcohol. That is something to be said for a young mass-produced wine.  On the palate I detected; the same fruits referenced on the nose with the addition of cherry and black pepper on the finish. The finish was solid but not overly lingering which balanced well with the overall smooth factor and drinkability of this wine.

Grocery store retail price on this wine is about $12.50. Reasonable indeed if it were not on sale. Between manufacturer coupon and grocery in-store sale [in this case Winn-Dixie go figure]  the price was somehow actually reduced to $4.85! As you can imagine the wine was a big hit but just as surprisingly I think the sale scared off some possible buyers because of its low price and the shoppers own perceived price:quality ratio.  Unfortunately the sale price went up to $6.89 the following week but it is still selling well.

At a $12.00 price range, even though it is reasonably priced, I am not sure I would go out of my way to buy this wine. I would think twice or consider other options, even after admitting that I rather enjoyed it. At $4.00-$7.00 the decision is easy; BUY IT! Sure hope that $4.85 offer comes around again. ¡Salud!

From the winemaker’s web-site:

Cabernet Sauvignon is the classic production of Los Vascos, and is the grape that made the estate famous. The vintages all share a mature and fruity quality, fresh aromas, and a supple and fleshy structure. This wine has a sparkling ruby-red colour and a pleasantly fruity nose with aromas of black cherries, raspberries and plums, all with a hint of spice. This is a silky, flavourful wine, with a supple tannin structure. A great classic

Vintage 2010

There was a very dry period during the winter months (463 mm of rain compared to 726 mm the previous year), but carefully planned, controlled irrigation ensured a normal growth cycle. Low temperatures in the spring during flowering resulted in some flower abortion, and thus slightly less generous bunches of grapes. Production was reduced by 15% compared to the annual average (8.5 tons/ha vs. 10 tons/ha) but this resulted in greater concentration and remarkably well-balanced grapes.

Bright ruby red colour. Remarkably expressive, fruity nose: aromas of blueberries, cherries, blackcurrants and raspberries blending perfectly with notes of pink pepper, paprika, curry and saffron. Velvety, full-bodied and seductive in the mouth with mild acidity and gentle tannins giving very pleasant mouthfeel.

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Joel Gott Zinfandel – 2011 vs. 2009

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A SIDE by SIDE taste test immediately started screaming in my head!  – as I wrote my original 2009 JOEL GOTT piece which I am  including below.

Unfortunately that event never came to pass because the 2009 vintage quickly sold out.  That said I was soon afterwards able to buy their 2011 Zinfandel. So although we may not be having an actual side by side tasting it’s time to finally compare 2009 versus 2011!

This 100% Zinfandel 2011 vintage comes to us via California’s; Lodi, Russian River, Dry Creek, Mendocino and Shenandoah Valley’s wine-producing areas. At 14.3% alcohol this wine was barrel  aged in 25% new American oak and attained a Bronze Medal at the 2013 SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE WINE COMP. – Easy-to-like, the red-berried ’11 Joel Gott Zinfandel is light and easy on the palate; finishes with a berried touch.

2011 wine growing notes:

Late spring rains and a cool summer meant a smaller crop and longer time on the vine for fruit during the 2011 harvest. The largest component of our blend for this vintage is old vine Zinfandel from Lodi. Fruit there was picked before the rains hit California well into harvest, and the longer than average hangtime in Lodi made for wines with better concentration than those from other appellations. Fruit from Sonoma, Mendocino and the Shenandoah Valley in Amador maintained the spice and red fruit characteristics that they’re known for. Blended, the various appellations produce a balanced, yet jammy and rich, Zinfandel.

My notes

I was pleasantly surprised at being able to differentiate the two vintages almost immediately even though our taste test was not occurring side by side.  The 2011 vintage came across as more controlled in nose and palate. The sweetness of the 2009 had been reigned in. Making this wine truer to what I would expect from a Zinfandel.

On the nose I detected sweet dark fruit [blackberry], tar, black pepper and an herbal earthiness. On the palate the addition of dark cherry, cocoa and the aforementioned controlled sweetness which I would best describe as fruity versus sweet.

2009? Or 2011? Which one would I choose?  Individually these are both fine choices and I must admit neither lasted very long once opened. But, put to the test I would pick the 2011 Joel Gott Zinfandel vintage.  Fruity over sweet wins me over.  The 2009 is what some would describe as a [sweet] fruit bomb. The controlled 2011 I would describe as jammy.  A slight difference in description but one that made all the difference to me.   ¡SALUD!

Winemaker tasting notes:

The 2011 Joel Gott Zinfandel has aromas of raspberries, blackberries and blueberry jam. Dense and rich on the front of the palate with bright acidity on the mid-palate, and a long finish.

Joel Gott – 2009 Zinfandel

Life without Zin finally caught up to me. That, and the great sale price of $9.99 from $18.99.  I find I am not alone since I just ordered another case for our store this week.  It is interesting how sale prices draw attention to wines one might not know. Once discovered our customers keep coming back for more whether on sale or not for the most part, but of course more so with a deal to be had.

As a lover of Zinfandel, per my many posts on this varietal,  I  had my eye on this one in particular for a while.  Once the sale was announced I had no excuse.  Even better I enjoyed it and have recommended it to our customers ever since. Therefore our diminishing inventory 🙂

The 2009 vintage, released September 2011,  is 100% Zinfandel from various areas in California: Napa Valley, Amador, Lodi, Dry Creek, Mendocino and Russian River.  Barrel aging was done in 30% new American oak and comes in with an approximate alcohol level of  14.5%.

My notes:

Dark fruit on the nose such as; plum, prune and raisin. In addition I  sensed green pepper, grass and cedar/oak. On the palate the addition of cherry [red fruit]  may explain why I was surprised to note a strong sweetness I usually do not note on this varietal, but this faded nicely to the background as the wine breathed and expanded. An hour into the drinking experience I also noted an earthiness of dirt/soil and Kirsch [again cherry].

We truly enjoyed adding this wine to our repertoire and am already looking forward to trying it again. Conveniently the 2011 vintage has now arrived at our store and SIDE by SIDE taste test immediately started screaming in my head!  Ahh..the things I must do for The Love of Zin.  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker tasting notes:

The 2009 Joel Gott Zinfandel has aromas of sweet cherries, plums, blackberries and vanilla spice. The wine is juicy and full of red fruit, with a soft mid-palate and a bright, lingering raspberry finish. Drier in style than most Zinfandels.

2009 Wine growing notes:

Throughout California, 2009 was an exceptional harvest—touted by many as the best vintage of the decade. Moderate temperatures across the state allowed the fruit to ripen slowly, creating good quality fruit with great flavor and depth. Dry farmed, old-head-trained vines in Lodi and Amador produced dark, intense, structured fruit, while fruit from the Napa Valley harvest added power and complexity. The cooler climates of Dry Creek, Mendocino and Russian River produced fruit with classic, peppery Zinfandel aromatics, good acidity and great fruit flavors. Bringing together fruit from these varied regions helped to create a balanced Zinfandel.

Winemaker information:

While running Palisades Market in Calistoga in the early 1990s, Joel Gott noticed a growing need for quality, value wines. Having worked at Kenwood Winery in Sonoma County, and with a family history in the business, Joel felt sure he could fill this void in the marketplace.

In 1996, Joel purchased a few tons of Zinfandel from family friend and grape grower Tom Dillian. With the help of then-girlfriend—and winemaker at Joseph Phelps—Sarah, Joel produced his first vintage of Dillian Ranch Amador County Zinfandel. The wine received praise from Robert Parker and Wine Spectator, which was all the encouragement Joel needed to produce additional varietals.

Creating quality, balanced important wines continued to be important, and in 2005 the 815 California Cabernet Sauvignon won a Food & Wine American Wine Award. Two years later the California Zinfandel would do the same. Joel Gott Wines continues to grow and receive accolades for delivering a great product at a value price point.

Bogle Vineyards – 2007 Petite Sirah

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Bogle Petite Sirah 2007

It’s been too long since I had a Petite Sirah and this one in particular had been waiting patiently in my cellar for about 6 months.  The price range for this BOGLE selection is $8.00-15.00 and can usually be found in grocery stores where wines are sold.  I remember picking this one in particular because of its vintage [2007]. My thinking was that the five to six years of aging would be beneficial to the wine and maybe more importantly the wine drinker. As would be expected all the others available at the store were 2009+ [more recent vintages]. It was a lone standout.

I was impressed to find that since 2008 Bogle Vineyards has worked to cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions on their properties and employ a Certified Green Program with multiple Sustainable Certificates already achieved and listed on their website.

As per information found on-line the grapes were sourced from Clarksburg California in Yolo County along the Sacramento River & Lodi  in the northern part of California’s Central Valley. Common descriptors for Petite Sirah are; black fruit, peppery, prunes, leather and inky due to the grapes dark color and the tannins it provides.  Additional information about the varietal Petite Sirah also known as Durif can be found on Wine-Searcher.

My notes:

Very earthy on the nose along with leather, cigar box, tobacco and dark fruit such as plum. On the palate a surprisingly delicate sweetness of dark fruit, vanilla,  and blueberry noted on the finish.  To me the dark fruit flavors expanded as the wine breathed making it completely different than when the bottle was first opened.  A good wine to decant but also one to be enjoyed straight out of the bottle. Although still bold at this stage I think the extra few years in the bottle helped the flavors relax and the wine soften.  Interestingly with some leftover [heresy! I know…] on day two I noted boysenberry, fig and an earthy pepper taste.

This is a wine I would drink any day of the week and one perfectly priced for exactly that. Pair with venison, lamb, pork, hearty stews or even pizza like we did 🙂   ¡SALUD!

Winemaker’s notes:

Thirty-one years after it was first produced by the Bogle family in 1978, Petite Sirah is today considered Bogle’s “heritage” varietal. Ripe summer blackberries and plums overwhelm both the nose and palate of this wine. Its trademark inky, jammy qualities are a barrage of black fruit and spice, adding layer upon layer of complexity. Notes of supple leather and toasty oak envelop the flavors through the finish, giving way to wisps of caramel and vanilla. The firm tannins make this a wine that can develop for years to come, but you won’t want to wait that long to enjoy it!

St. Patrick’s Day Wine

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Grenache Rosé wine.

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching I find myself feeling more PINK than GREEN. My manhood intact, sparkling and non-sparkling Rosés are calling to me big time.  March 17th falls this year on a Sunday, and I love my #SundaySupper,  so we have begun to plan our annual get together for friends and family. What could we do to stir things up: Corned Beef Empanadas?

As I review our options I recalled last years post; Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…. and our very First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! A lot of things have changed since then, my new career for one, but interestingly the Rosé wine came close to taking last years 2012 prize.  One year later Pink is on my mind once again…..

Below is last years Corned Beef wine pairing including the winner which won by just one vote.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day &  Sláinte!

Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…./ Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais

Food pairing can always be exciting, traumatizing or best a learning experience. I chalked this one up to an exciting learning experience. Thank the powers that be for the internet and well-informed wine rep’s or salespeople.

My research prior to our recent 2012 St. Patrick’s Day supper led me to three varietals for our corned beef, cabbage and potatoes au gratin casserole: Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais.  Our choices were:

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence, Les Halos de Jupiter (Cambie) Côtes-du-Rhône 2009 [Grenache], Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009 [Beaujolais].

All three wines were easily attained locally, either as a “featured wine” or an “employee recommendation”.  More importantly all  were less than $15.00 each.  Unplanned was the fact that all 3 turned out to be French wines.

Our original plan was to pick one varietal and go with it. But once in the store and intrigued by how each would taste with our main entrée it was decided we would pick one of each and have our very own First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! I’m not sure our recently visited family members in Ireland would approve but they seemed to be pretty understanding when it came to drinking any type of beverage.

Luckily for me and our party of 7 none of the wines was a bust. We had 2 standouts and one probably described as not robust enough to meld with all the different meal flavors involved.  Not being a big  “Rose” fan I was pleasantly surprised to see how well this dry Rose in particular paired with our meal. This easily could have been the winner of the evening with 6 out of 7 of the group favoring it but then came the mostly Grenache blend. This turned out to be the true hit of the night; robust, peppery with very nice fruit aromas on the nose such as strawberry. It was close but the 2009 Les Halos de Jupiter gets our Shamrock Trophy for 2012.

I am looking forward to the next challenge, SALUD!

Wine notes:

LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009;

90 points Wine Spectator: “[$23 list] Sleek but concentrated, with delicious dark cherry confiture, Linzer torte and blackberry notes backed by a graphite- and black tea-filled finish. Sneakily long. Drink now through 2012. 2,000 cases made. (6/15/11)”

88-90 points Robert Parker: “An outrageous wine sourced from Visan, Cairanne and Rasteau is the 2009 Cotes du Rhone. Dominated by Grenache, it comes across like a mini-Chateauneuf du Pape. Its dark ruby/purple color is followed by boisterous kirsch, sandy, loamy soil, tobacco leaf, pepper and spice notes. Generously endowed, round, silky textured and explosively fruity, it is an enormously satisfying wine to drink over the next 3-4 years. (Oct 2010)”.

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence   

Crisp, Berry, Strawberry, Cherry, Light-bodied

France- Lively and fragrant, this beautiful Rose from Provence shows alluring aromas of ripe berries and dark flowers. The flavors of ripe strawberry and wild cherry are presented in a sophisticated manner that preserves the character of the fruit, but in a dry, straightforward style.

Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009   

90 Wine Advocate:

Wine Advocate – Beaujolais, France – “On the nose aromas of strawberry and cherry preserve, Infectiously juicy and bright, it finishes invigoratingly and mouth watering with tart berry and salt, yet an undertone of meatiness also persists that is apt to become more prominent as the wine evolves.”

For the Love of Zin: Joel Gott – 2009 Zinfandel

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Joel Gott – 2009 Zinfandel

Life without Zin finally caught up to me. That, and the great sale price of $9.99 from $18.99.  I find I am not alone since I just ordered another case for our store this week.  It is interesting how sale prices draw attention to wines one might not know. Once discovered our customers keep coming back for more whether on sale or not for the most part, but of course more so with a deal to be had.

As a lover of Zinfandel, per my many posts on this varietal,  I  had my eye on this one in particular for a while.  Once the sale was announced I had no excuse.  Even better I enjoyed it and have recommended it to our customers ever since. Therefore our diminishing inventory 🙂

The 2009 vintage, released September 2011,  is 100% Zinfandel from various areas in California: Napa Valley, Amador, Lodi, Dry Creek, Mendocino and Russian River.  Barrel aging was done in 30% new American oak and comes in with an approximate alcohol level of  14.5%.

My notes:

Dark fruit on the nose such as; plum, prune and raisin. In addition I  sensed green pepper, grass and cedar/oak. On the palate the addition of cherry [red fruit]  may explain why I was surprised to note a strong sweetness I usually do not note on this varietal, but this faded nicely to the background as the wine breathed and expanded. An hour into the drinking experience I also noted an earthiness of dirt/soil and Kirsch [again cherry].

We truly enjoyed adding this wine to our repertoire and am already looking forward to trying it again. Conveniently the 2011 vintage has now arrived at our store and SIDE by SIDE taste test immediately started screaming in my head!  Ahh..the things I must do for The Love of Zin.  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker tasting notes:

The 2009 Joel Gott Zinfandel has aromas of sweet cherries, plums, blackberries and vanilla spice. The wine is juicy and full of red fruit, with a soft mid-palate and a bright, lingering raspberry finish. Drier in style than most Zinfandels.

2009 Wine growing notes:

Throughout California, 2009 was an exceptional harvest—touted by many as the best vintage of the decade. Moderate temperatures across the state allowed the fruit to ripen slowly, creating good quality fruit with great flavor and depth. Dry farmed, old-head-trained vines in Lodi and Amador produced dark, intense, structured fruit, while fruit from the Napa Valley harvest added power and complexity. The cooler climates of Dry Creek, Mendocino and Russian River produced fruit with classic, peppery Zinfandel aromatics, good acidity and great fruit flavors. Bringing together fruit from these varied regions helped to create a balanced Zinfandel.

Winemaker information:

While running Palisades Market in Calistoga in the early 1990s, Joel Gott noticed a growing need for quality, value wines. Having worked at Kenwood Winery in Sonoma County, and with a family history in the business, Joel felt sure he could fill this void in the marketplace.

In 1996, Joel purchased a few tons of Zinfandel from family friend and grape grower Tom Dillian. With the help of then-girlfriend—and winemaker at Joseph Phelps—Sarah, Joel produced his first vintage of Dillian Ranch Amador County Zinfandel. The wine received praise from Robert Parker and Wine Spectator, which was all the encouragement Joel needed to produce additional varietals.

Creating quality, balanced important wines continued to be important, and in 2005 the 815 California Cabernet Sauvignon won a Food & Wine American Wine Award. Two years later the California Zinfandel would do the same. Joel Gott Wines continues to grow and receive accolades for delivering a great product at a value price point.

APOTHIC RED – 2010 Winemakers Blend

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2010 Winemakers Blend

It’s taken me awhile but I finally broke down and tried this very popular wine. Similar to my experience with Cupcake which I recently wrote about; I must have an aversion to well marketed, popular and affordable vino.

Priced in the $8.00-$12.00 range it is usually available somewhere on sale.  In our store it always moves no matter the price. Its fans appreciate this wine whether on sale or not but of course we tend to sellout at the lower price points.  We easily go through 1-2 cases a week without highlighting it on an end-cap. Stock it, they will come 🙂

I would compare the APOTHIC to similar products from CUPCAKE [Red Velvet] and MENAGE A TROIS [Red Blend].  All with similar price points and marketed at the same audience if you ask me.  The audience [?]: first time wine drinkers, women, appreciators of sweet [but not too sweet] red wine, and older people to give some examples.  In my experience if I had to narrow it down to two of these I would say; new to wine drinkers along with the older population [including my parents] tend to love it.  Just imagine an older woman just beginning to try wine and I would say BINGO if asked for advice by a customer.

But admittedly that is narrowing the scope of its marketing and success. I have plenty of younger customers who have tried this wine and come back for more, male and female, excited that they found an affordable wine they and their partners can share.  For me the obvious common denominator is the sugar level or sweetness of these wines. It makes the drinking experience a lot more palpable to many.

As I decanted or poured from the bottle in this case,  I immediately noticed an earthiness on the nose that made me think there was ZIN! in there which of course there was. As a fan I was just glad to detect it so quickly.  The Zinfandel descriptors pretty much stop there though.  Also detected on the nose was a caramel [sweet] undertone.  Upon tasting,  the caramel really exploded along with vanilla and other spices.  I also noted grape sour pop as in the lollipop. I kept almost recognizing a flavor and yet it continuously escaped me. This went on for a while, as my drinking partner kept saying how much they were enjoying this wine, until I finally blurted out ROOT BEER! and they simultaneously said SASSAFRAS!!  The more likely culprit would probably be Cream Soda thanks to the aforementioned vanilla/caramel flavors.

Would I buy this wine regularly? Probably not. But once again I now understand its popularity and can easily recommend it to others who I know will not only appreciate it but make it their “go to” choice on a regular basis. ¡SALUD!

From the winemaker:

Inspired by “Apotheca,” a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in 13th century Europe, the wines of Apothic are truly unique in style and taste.

Our winemaker Boyd Morrison crafts bold, captivating Apothic blends by using only the most distinctive California grapes. From vintage to vintage, Boyd lets the character and flavor of the individual varietals guide the shape of each blend.

to create Apothic Red using the most distinctive grapes from California’s renowned vineyards: Zinfandel for its spicy nature, Syrah for its dark fruit flavors, bold Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for a smooth finish.

Winemaker tasting notes;

The brambly spice of Zinfandel, dark fruit flavors of Syrah, the bold notes of Cabernet Sauvignon and the smooth elegance of Merlot unite to create this captivating red blend.

Apothic Red reveals intense fruit aromas and flavors of rhubarb and black cherry, complemented by hints of mocha, chocolate, brown spice and vanilla. The plush, velvety mouthfeel and the smooth finish round out this intriguing, full-bodied red blend.

13.1% Alcohol

2011 Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc – Marlborough New Zealand

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2011 Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc

This  Pacific Rim Wine Competition 2012 SILVER MEDAL winner has been in my sights for quite some time.  Cupcake Vineyard wines are hard to avoid in my world as a Wine Steward for a national grocery store chain and now as a liquor store manager [albeit temporary]  for the same company.  The masses like their Cupcake; be it red’s such as Malbec, Pinot Noir, Petite Syrah or their Red Velvet blend in addition to whites such as the Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio etc.   According to the winemaker; all made in a “fruit forward” style since being introduced in 2008. For more information  check out their web-site: http://www.cupcakevineyards.com

The Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc in particular was recently brought to my attention by New Jersey cousins who, it sounds to me,  have made this their house white and I can see why.  Cork finally popped I discovered what everyone else already seems to know. Good tasting wine at a good price. Our store  has it in the $10.00 range with holiday sales bringing it as low as $7.99.  It is also available at  retailers such as Costco, Total Wine etc.  Making it a perfect [Holiday] party serving choice. No wonder this wine is as popular as it is.

I detected very crisp aromas of; pineapple, citrus, green apple and stone fruits on the nose. On the palate I noted; grapefruit! [yes with an exclamation mark], Meyer lemon, tropical white fruits and cantaloupe, but unripe/green.

This is a dry medium body white with good acidity levels lingering on the tongue and a tart finish.  If this wine tasted as good as it did with pizza I can only imagine how nicely it would pair with, well, actually something that it should be paired with 🙂  ¡SALUD!

Cupcake Vineyards Tasting Notes:

It’s the long cool seasons in the South Island that allow our Sauvignon Blanc grapes to mature slowly, giving them levels of complexity and a vibrant zing. This wine is reminiscent of a lemon chiffon cupcake. It’s made up of integrated favors of Meyer lemons, Key limes and a finish that awakens the appetite.

Wine Searcher – Marlborough wine region

New Zealand‘s largest wine region in production and area, Marlborough is located at the north-eastern tip of the South Island. It stretches from the small port town of Picton in the Marlborough Sounds to the east-coast town of Kaikoura. The long, straightWairau Valley has the most extensive plantings of vines, and the entire region had 58,300 acres (23,600ha) of land planted with grapes in 2010. This young wine region has won worldwide acclaim for its Sauvignon Blanc.

Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine grape variety from western France which is now successfully grown in emerging and established wine regions all over the world. While the grape may be more readily associated with the Loire Valley (for its pivotal role in Sancerreand Pouilly-Fume), it is more likely to have originated from Bordeaux, where it is typically blended withSemillon.