Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Everybody loves Raymond

There's nothing like a classic Napa Valley red wine on sale to warm my heart. The regular price of this Raymond Napa Merlot 2006 is $ 23.95 but you can deduct $ 10.00 if you happen to be a member of Cost Plus imports. How do you become a member ? Just give them your phone number-no junk mail or even emails will show up, just discounts. This wine for $ 13.95 is a steal and it isn't some bland run of the mill Merlot. It is drinking perfectly now and is delicious. I'll give it 8 1/2 swiggs , very good for a wine under $ 15.00 .

Monday, April 25, 2011

Amost a Brunello !

This is a wine I had never seen before but was intrigued with the label . This 'Rubio' San Polo from Montalcino was $ 14.95 , pretty much a Chianti price range but the look of the lable promised more. The wine delivered beautiful flavors and really came close to what normally costs three times more in terms of richness and complexity. The vintage is 2008 and the wine is available at Shoppers corner. I'll give it a solid 8 swiggs.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Perfection from the Rhone

I'm partial to the wines from Chateauneuf du Pape and it is pretty much a region with great wines across the board. There are a few standouts however and this Domain du Pegau 2005 is no exception. I think it would be difficult to find many wines in the class of this outstanding Rhone blend and the richness and complexity is absolutely amazing . This wine is great now but I think it would be just as good 10 years down the road. There's a ton of flavor , very much like a new world wine in how bold it is but it really shows authenticity of the region in spite of how dense the flavors are. I give it a 10 swiggs rating. I think you can find this one for the $ 60-75 range at finer wine stores.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mclaren Vale......my new favorite region of Australia

I used to buy Australian wine without much thought to the fact that the country is immense and the variety of wines equally ample. As I have tasted through the years I have found two regions that produce the kind of reds that I really appreciate : # 1, Barrossa , # 2, Mclaren Vale. Both of these south Australia valleys produce world class Bordeaux varietals and Rhone grapes but the biggest star seems to be Shiraz , or blends thereof. This Tintara is available at Shopper's Corner for $ 9.99 ( reg. $ 16.99 ) and is a 2006 Shiraz from Mclaren Vale , home to one of my favorite wines of the world, Yangarra. Most of the Yangarra wines are near the $ 30 mark so finding a neighbor for under $ 10 made me buy it. I was not disappointed.....the wine is flavorful and rich without being over ripe or volitile with too much alcohol. I give it a solid 7 swiggs and recommend it for folks who want to check out how good Australian wine can be without breaking the bank.

Italian great for under $ 15.00

Trader Joe's has a few 'La Loggia' wines in stock pretty much year-round. I have had two, the Barbaresco and the Barolo. They are both inexpensive examples of two top-end wines from Piedmont. These wines from top estates are often in the $60-100 + range so finding one under $ 20 makes me suspect. In the case of the 2005 Barolo for $ 14.99 , I was surprised to find a really terrific wine that represented a classic style of the region-not some westernized version without the local character. The almost 'pruny' taste leads me to believe that unlike more pricey versions of Barolo, this one is drinkeable now and should not be aged further. The 2006 is available now and I'll be tasting it soon. For now, you'll have to settle for my review of this one and my hope is that it is still on the shelves for you to try. 8 swiggs.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A taste of Amador

I am of the opinion that the zinfandel from the sierra foothills has something not present in any other California zin. I was maybe a little skeptical when I purchased this bottle but I was pleasantly surprised with a familiar great taste of an area of California that has some of the oldest vines in the country. This 2005 Amador cellars has the great complexity that is a character of the best wines of the area , Deaver , Renwood, Sobon estate and a few more. At $ 14.99 it is not too much to pay for this kind of quailty. I'll give it 7 1/2-8 swiggs. Available at New leaf markets.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Holy %^&*, a Priorat for under $ 10 !!

Just when I got used to seeing my favorite wine from Spain for under $ 15 , Trader Joes comes up with this one for $8.99 . I only bought one bottle as I know well that Trader Joes has in the past had some wines that looked like a real deal only to be disappointments in the glass . Not so with this Reves 2006 from Chapillion. The blend is 40% Carignan , 35% Garnacha, 25% Syrah....a virtual Chateauneuf du pape , but from Spain. I expect a nice complexity from this normally pricey wine and even at the low price, the Reves delivers. It's cheap enough for a weekday dinner but good enough to serve when you want people to really have a treat that might not be something they have ever had. I give it 7 1/2 swiggs for the first bottle.....it may be revised upward in coming weeks now that I have a stash of a few more bottles.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bargain central coast Rhone style blend

If you missed out on the Rosenblum you had better not miss this one. The Rabbit Ridge "Allure de Robles" red blend shows up at Trader Joes once a year. This 2009 isn't a generic California garbage wine-it's a Paso Robles Rhone-style blend that is full flavored and ready to drink. It is not overly alcoholic ( 14.6 %) but it is no lightweight, either. I have had this wine from '06 and '08. I think the '09 might be better than the previous two and they were very good. I'll give this one 7 1/2 swiggs......a great score of a wine that retails for $ 4.99. This one usually sells out in a few weeks so I would not delay if you want to get a really great wine for dirt cheap.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Priorat for under $ 15.00

There are a ton of red wines from all over Spain, some good and some...well.....I guess you have to really have the right food to enjoy them. There are a few regions that stand out as my 'go-to' wines from Spain : Rioja and Priorat being the best bets in my opinion. Priorat is usually a pricey wine, seldom sold for less than $ 25. This Negre Priorat 2006 from Cost Plus was all of $ 14.95 . What you get for your money is a big hit of black cherry with a long finish....altogether a really great old-world wine with the kind of freshness that one gets with the new-world wines. I really liked it and give it 8 swiggs, a quality drink that is something a little different .

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rosenblum does it again !

It's time to run down to Cost Plus imports to get some of this great wine. The 2006 Rosenblum 'Chateau la Paws" red wine is really a bargain. The lable would lead you to think that the wine is attempting to be a Rhone style red but it is actually full-throttle Rosenblum the way we expect it to be. There's so much flavor you'll take your time drinking this one. Some folks might say that it isn't subtle enough-no finesse and all that. 'No wimpy wines' has been the motto of Rosenblum since the beginning and this red lives up to the motto in the fullest sense. Right now the price is $ 7.19.......really low for a wine this good. I'll give it 7 1/2 swiggs although it might deserve more.Rosenblum was sold a couple of years ago so this 2006 represents perhaps the last chance to get the original item. I have had some later bottles from Rosenblum and to me, it ain't the same thing anymore. We'll see how that plays out over the next few years.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

bang for the buck

Paso Robles has been getting more press as a wine region as of the last decade but mostly for Syrah. Zins have long been produced in the area and actually have consistantly high quality. Four vines has a few bottlings in the $ 25-up price range so this one at $ 12.95 represents what they offer for a more affordable wine. The color is dark and the alcohol pretty high but the wine is not overpowering and a fruity drink that will not kill the taste of your dinner. I give it a solid 7 swiggs......not the best of the area but certainly good for the price.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oregon Pinot

Ever since the release of the movie " Sideways", there has been more pinot noir showing up at my door in the way of gifts. I'm pretty picky about pinot and don't like most of them. I really like the classic floral style of pinot that no longer seems in fashion for California wineries. Up in Oregon , folks there still want to make wines that really showcase the pinot grape as a lighter , almost perfumed drink instead of the fruit WMD's of Napa and points south. This Siduri Muirfield vinyard Willamette valley 2007 does the job nicely. While it might put some folks off who like the more modern new world style of pinot, I like it for waht it is-the real deal pinot noir in the Burgundian style. 7 1/2 swiggs.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

One of the last '04 wines on the market.

Santa Cruz's own Storr's winery makes some great wines at the $20-40 price level. It isn't often that one finds one of their wines under $ 15.00 but I did just that yesterday. The '04 Central Coast Merlot at $ 14.99 is really a steal. This isn't one of those generic reds that typify what gave merlot a bad name a number of years ago. This wine is so full-bodied and flavorful that it is food-you'll have to drink this one slowly. It's a dense drink but really packed with excellent complex flavors , a real treat. Get some at New Leaf market before it is all gone. 8 swiggs.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Buy local !

I have had Zayante Zins before but this might be the first Cabernet I have tasted from this small local winery. All I can say is, yum ! This reminds me that the Santa Cruz mountains can produce some Cabernet that is up to Napa/Sonoma standards . This 2006 was really excellent-not overpowering but still substantial. Its a good weekend wine and I'll give it 8 swiggs. I have seen it for $ 26.95 at New Leaf market and I'm sure it can be had at the winery. If you are looking for something like a Ridge style Cab without breaking the bank , here's your bottle.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New years eve lineup at the swiggtator chateau

First I would like to say that these excellent bottles would not have been nearly as much fun if not for the excellent company of our friends on New years eve. To start , we had a Louis Roederer brut premeir NV champagne to go with our cracked crab appetizer. This has always been one of my favorite sparklers and this bottle was fantastic. It was on sale at Shoppoers corner for $ 44.95 and garnered a 9 swiggs easily. Next we had a lighter Julien Fouet cremant de Loire, another nice sparkler that I gave 8 swiggs. The first red was the Saint Cosme Chateauneuf du pape 2003. This turned out to be my favorite and nearly a perfect statement of Rhone excellence. This was a gift so I have no price but I did give it 9 1/2 swiggs . Next we had the Caymus 2007 Napa cabernet to go with our main course of linguini with clams. I have always been a fan of Caymus but haven't had the wine for many years. This bottle was a lot lighter in body than I remember for this brand. The dominant taste was buttercotch and it was so sweet I thought it was a dessert wine. I still feel it is a great bottle in the right setting, probably not the best to follow the Saint Cosme. I'll give it 8 swiggs. The last red as Storr's Rusty Ridge zinfandel 2006. While the Stoors was also very sweet, it was also paired with the last course, dessert of chocolate and really decadent cupcakes. The Storrs paired well with the sweet stuff and had a bit more complexity than the Caymus. This wine is usually $ 26.95 to $ 32.95 depending on where you find it and a bargain for such a boldly flavored red. 9 swiggs. Happy new year folks and happy bargain hunting !