Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Parade of holiday cheapies

 One thing I like during the holidays is having affordable wines that don't taste like crap.....I'm sure that everyone will be on board with that plan. This is the time of the year when I look for sub-$10.00 bottles that are good enough that visitors will be very happy to quaff......and I'll be happy because I can afford to have a lot of this type of wine around. #1 is the 2011 Boeger  cab from Trader Joes at $ 9.99. I reviewed the zin awhile ago and liked it-the cab is even better-7 swiggs.
Here's one that might be tougher to find at Trader Joes-this 2009 Powers Columbia Valley cab is a bit nicer than the Boeger and $8.99-a dollar less. I give it 7 1/2 swiggs and recommend  it highly.
This one should be in good supply at T.J's -the Vintjs 2011 Paso Robles Petit Sirah. I reviewed the Lodi Zin from this label and was impressed. The Petit Sirah is just as good and at $ 7.99 a real buy. 7 swiggs. All three of these wines are definitely above average in quality at the price range and distinctive enough to keep people coming back for more.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Wine shipment from Tobin James arrives

Yes, last year we joined a wine club. Tobin James winery is just outside of Paso Robles -a good stopping point between L.A. and Santa Cruz or parts eastward like Yosemite. This is the first bottle out of the box of nine that arrived yesterday. This is the Tobin James "James gang reserve" 2009 Paso Robles zinfandel. This was a big meaty red almost like a Syrah. There's a ton of flavor to balance the high 15.8% alcohol. We had this a bit after dinner so I can't say how it would go with food but hey, it was so good I had to write about it. I'll give it a 9 1/2 swigg rating......with some age it might be a 10. It would be hard to find a better wine of this type. $ 28.00 from the winery-20% case discount for us club members.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Grenache blend from Santa Barbara county

I looked at the blend of grapes in this wine and thought " Chateuaneuf du Pape" . The Curtis 'Heritage Cuvee' pretty much delivered on the promise of a nice southern Rhone style blend. The dry red wine is very nice with food and will cost barely half of what you would pay for the same blend from France. Granted, new world wines will not have the same exact style even if the varietals are the same but still, this is a really nice blend of Grenache 39%, Mourvedre 26%, Cinsault 19% and Syrah 16%. I was hoping for of a bit more of the Syrah to come through but that isn't a deal breaker for me. I really enjoyed the wine. 8 swiggs and it is $ 16.95 at Shoppers corner.

Italian red from prestigeous area

One of the most sought after wines from Italy is Bolgheri. I have seen these wines for sale but have not been able to afford one until now. The Greppicante 2008 Bolgheri is only $ 19.95 at Shoppers corner and really is a treat. I like the dry richness of this wine. It isn't as pruny or tannic and some of the other top-flight Italian offerings and it went well with our dinner of pasta and salad. I'll give it a solid 8 swiggs and recommend that you pick up a bottle for a weekend dinner some time.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

It doesn't get much better than this

I like Tobin James wines pretty much across the board but this one is a knockout. Of course, it isn't cheap at $ 55 , but if you join the wine club there is a really hefty discount on this and other flagship offerings from thei Paso Robles institution. The 'Fatboy' 2010 Zinfandel is crafted from 50+ year old vines and is a big bodied monster of a wine, registering  15.4 % alcohol. I think it really shined after dinner when the dessert had been served. There was another bottle open on the table but I didn't need or want to have more wine. I don't think anything can follow this act. Available at the winery. 9 1/2 swiggs.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Monterey Primitivo

Looking for a red for the hot summer afternoons ? This isn't bad for the money. The Mica 2009 Boar's skull vinyard Monterey county Primitivo is tasty and light , not like the big bold Zins from central California. The wine is light body and not high in alcohol at 13.9% so it won't overpower your food or make you feel a bit slow the next morning. Even though I was expecting something different I was still pretty happy with this $ 9.99 wine and will give it 6 1/2 swiggs, definitely above average at this price and a real deal for a 'vinyard designated' wine. -From Shoppers corner.

Cassone again !

Yes, it's another Cassone wine but this time it is a Malbec. The reserva 2007 Malbec is definitely a great wine for folks who really like the taste of a wine that has had a few years in the bottle. The flavor reminds me of Bordeaux wines I used to enjoy before the prices became too high. Yeah, I know it is a Malbec but honestly, the flavors speak to something a bit more than what you normally associate with a Malbec. This is available at Shoppers corner and is right now $ 14.99 putting it in the weekend category. That said, I would stock up. It is super good right now. The label states that it will be enjoyable until 2016 -I think it is perfect as of this week. 8 1/2 swiggs.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sierra foothills zin deal

 Today I'm going to Trader Joe's to try to get more of this Boeger El Dorado county 2011 Zin. At $ 8.99 it is a really affordable way to have a taste of the high octane Sierra foothills Zin. There's a lot to like-tons of flavor and a pretty good level of alcohol to balance. I'm thinking that it would be a good pizza wine, maybe nice to have at a BBQ. Either way, the price is right and it will probably cellar for a few years. I give it 8 swiggs......nice score for something that is under $ 10.00  and hopefully not sold out !

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Tobin James weekend

 Yes, I joined a wine club. No, it's not local but it is a place I stop by whenever I'm traveling south. These two wines are really great and don't break the bank, especially with the ample savings from being a member of the club. Without joining, the wine above-Primo Sangiovese will set you back $18.00, hardly a fortune for such a flavorful wine. This isn't like an Italian Sangiovese, more like a Sierra foothills explosion of fruit. I'll give it 8 1/2 swiggs. You might be ale to find this at better grocery stores but I got it at the winery just outside of Paso Robles, Calif. on Hwy. 46.
This is their everyday low cost wine, Chateau le Cacheflo. At $ 11.50 this Rhone blend is really affordable for such a good wine. I'll give it 8 swiggs. The winery has a 20% off per case if you are in the club.....they didn't pay me to write this ! I'm just a big fan and have been for many years. If you like super flavorful wines and aren't afraid of 14+ % alcohol , give Tobin James a try. They offer about 20 different bottles, some humble such as these two on up to fancy reserve stuff that can stay in the cellar for special occasions.

Friday, April 12, 2013

North Coast cab

I have been to this winery although it was a number of years ago. When I heard that the owner was virtually bankrupt I felt like I needed to drink a toast to him with one of his wines-after all, I did really enjoy his wines in the past. This version is the entry level version of his Cabernet, the 'Silver Label' north coast 2009. At about $ 15.00 it is not something I would buy all the time but it represents a really nice red for the money. It is easy to drink, not really tannic and could go with a variety of foods. I'll give it 8 swiggs. You'll find it at Trader Joes. I don't know what will happen with this brand in the future but I hope that it survives the ownership change. This winery is one we don't want to lose.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Nice $ 15.00 Zin

This winery is in San Benito county where the summers get really hot. There's some good Pinot, Syrah and Petit Syrah grown there as well as Sangiovese. For my taste, the Zin from that area is the star and this De Rose 2008 Cienega valley is a really tasty drink. At first it seems a bit thin and light but with time it starts really opening up-maybe decanting it and waiting an hour would help. By the time you are finishing the bottle you'll be wishing you had bought two. It is better to stop at one bottle as this wine is no joke at 16.2% alcohol ! I'll give it 8 1/2 swiggs and you can find it at New Leaf markets.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Budget Italian red

This isn't bad.....it's not exceptional but at $ 4.99 it doesn't have to be. This Epicuro Salice Salentino 2009 Riserva is a good weekday wine- not overly rich or impressive but pretty likeable, especially after it has been in the glass for a few minutes. At first taste I thought it was a non-descript generic dud ,but after a few sips it began to take on an identity-not the typical earthy Italian food-wine identity but an almost California fruitiness. If you are calling out for pizza this will do....it's maybe even a little better than that. 6 swiggs, from Trader Joes

Monday, February 11, 2013

rioja on sale

Not often does a wine like this one show up for less than $ 10 at the local market - I bought it and had it with dinner last night. For $ 8.99 the 2009 Rioja Vega is a decent dry table wine that isn't super impressive on first taste but gets better as you drink it-always a sign of a plus-5 swigg wine. I'm not sure that Shopper's Corner has any more of this but it is worth a look. I'll give it 6 swiggs.....not exceptional but definitely worth a try, especially if you are growing tired of Calif. offerings.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Regional French red

Eery once in awhile Trader Joes gets a limited amount of small production wine from the south of France. I just liked the label and had a Minervois before that I had enjoyed so I decided to try this one, Chateau Vaissiere. It is really nice, drinks well for a 2011 and at $ 9.95 is a nice departure from Calif. reds. It isn't super bold but it has plenty of flavor and isn't as bone-dry as you would think. I'll give it 7 1/2 swiggs and recommend it highly for folks looking for something that is a departure from the norm.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New years eve lineup

Here it is, our humble little NYE selection. We had a few guests over that were really keen on Zins. We started with a split of Schramsberg sparkling wine, then went on to the Storrs central coast 2008 zin....a great drink. Not to be outdone  we also opened up a Wilson 2010 Molly's vineyard zin , a great compliment to the Storrs. The last bottle was the Unti 2008 grenache, something a little less intense to finish off the night. I was in bed by 10:15........when you have wines with  15% alcohol it can make for a short evening ! Cheers, the Swiggtator.