Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sonoma bitch ! a good one....

While getting some office supplies at CVS I wandered into the wine section. You never know what they might have on sale and I was rewarded with this St. Francis Sonoma Cabernet 2013 for only $ 13.95 . I have generally been a fan of St. Francis, especially the hard to find Merlot-these wines are always pretty good but this one is really,really good-maybe a touch tannic but very rich and full for a Sonoma wine at this price. Go find it-maybe it is still on sale !   8 1/2 swiggs.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Nice price on a Napa stalwart

We don't get to drink this one very often as it is usually priced out of the Swiggtator comfort zone. Trader Joes has this 2012 Freemark Abbey Napa Merlot for $ 21.99 , about $ 16.00 less than the winery price. The wine is dark and rich as one would expect from this very established winery-a bit tannic and dry but still really good. I am going to see if the Cabernet is also at Trader Joes....I have seen it there on occasion. I am sure that it will be a bit more but if it is under $ 30.00 it represents a really good deal for a top-tier wine. We had this one with pasta and a salad, probably not what one would typically associate pairing with such a dense wine but it worked well enough for us. The price makes is a weekend treat and too spendy for most occasions but this is coming into the holidays so what the heck......give it a try. 9 swiggs.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Napa Cabernet at a good price

Every once in awhile I will give a sub-$ 20.00 Napa Cab a try to see if I can find a winner. This Uppercut Napa valley Cabernet 2013 comes pretty close. The wine is not tannic and ready to enjoy. While it might not be as full bodied and rich as the best from Napa it is at such a low price ( $17.99 ) that it is really worth a try . This one is available at Trader Joes. It has really nice fruit flavor and none of the vegetal elements that make some Napa wines unappetizing to me. All good here and a good choice for a weekend treat.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Napa Merlot at a decent price

This Tangley Oaks 2012 'Lot 13' Napa valley merlot is one I had not tried. I'm always on the hunt for the classic Napa taste at an under $ 20 price point and at $ 16.99  this one was in the range. On the back it states that the wine was in barrels for around 20 months, bottled in 2014 and released last year. All that waiting provides a very nice-not overpowering Napa red that is really outstanding for the price. We had it with some pasta with red sauce and a salad. The wine paired up really well with the pasta-good enough to merit 9 swiggs. This wine is sold by the Terlato wine group so it is probably available in more places than just the bay area. I found it at Shopper's Corner here in Santa Cruz.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tobin James Rhone style

GSM, Grenache , Syrah, Mourvedre.......these grapes are blended to make some spectacular wines in the south France. Since the '70's there has been a bit of a similar thing going on in Paso Robles and Sonoma as well. Tobin James always seems to put their own stamp on a grape varietal , maybe a bit less subtle than most but the wines are undeniable good. This 2012 GSM really is different than their other offerings. That is one thing I appreciate about Tobin James......there;s a theme to their winemaking but each wine is really distinct- a hard thing to pull off in a climate so hot that every grape is pushed to the limit in terms of ripeness. This one does not disappoint. We gave it 9 swiggs and you can find it at the winery.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Top notch local Zin

This is the latest release of the Storr's Rusty Ridge Zin. No surprise here- as good as it could be. This is not a cheap wine but what it delivers is well worth the price and more . You can find this at the winery in Santa Cruz, local New Leaf bay area markets and other Santa Cruz stores. This is a very jammy , alcoholic wine so be prepared for something unique. It is about $26-29 depending on where you purchase it. We gave it a perfect 10 swiggs.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Rare reserva Chianti bargain

Ever want to drink a mature wine but didn't want to break the bank ? Now's your chance . Shoppers Corner in Santa Cruz scored some of this 2008 Belvedere Chianti Reserva and is selling it for only $ 14.95. The original price is supposedly over $ 30.00. Money, however does not guarantee for a great tasting wine but in this case I feel that at this price it is unusual to find something this specatcular. It is wonderful with food and really should be enjoyed a.s.a.p. as I don't think that it will last much longer. We gave it 9 swiggs and rated it in the top-5 of the year so far.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Dry Creek Zin

I found a new Zin at Trader Joes that shows some promise. This 2013 Painted Cave Dry Creek valley Zin is very good for $ 11.95 and a rare treat at this price from one of Sonoma's leading appellations. The wine is not overly jammy or sweet, just a nice balanced red that is better with food than a lot of Zins. I'll give it 7 1/2 swiggs and say that it will probably drink even better in a couple of years. It's no Ridge Geyserville but it is barely a third of the price.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Local red of note

A few days ago I was reading the local paper and found a review of this wine. I have been a fan of this winery since the early '90's when I knew the owner at that time and got to sample a lot of the reds from that vineyard. The quality was usually very good but every once in awhile they would make something really special. Many years later the winery now has a tasting room just a few blocks from where I work and the wine is more widely available.
I picked up this 2012 Pierce Ranch Petit Sirah yesterday and we had it with dinner last night. While it might not be the biggest wine from this grape it is still really robust and flavorful. It isn't overly sweet or alcoholic , it strikes a really nice balance between a dry and fruity version of this intense varietal. I'll give it 8 1/2 swiggs. You can generally find this for $ 19.95 at New Leaf markets or at the tasting room on the west side of Santa Cruz.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A taste of an oldie

I bought a bunch of this Sagelands Columbia valley cab a number of yeas a ago from the local Shopper's Corner market for $ 8.99. I was really happy with the '99 but when they ran out of it they got in a shipment of '02 which I was not as keen on. It was still a good value but I put a bottle away and pretty much forgot about it until a couple of nights ago. This bottle sat in my cellar for over 10 years-I had just watched a show about sommaliers that had a part about drinking older wines. Now this wine is not as old as the wines featured in the show but at nearly 14 years old it should have been well past its prime, not having a reputation for being an 'ager'. I was rewarded with a very nice wine with some pruny port-like tastes and richness that was not there when the wine was young.
So......if you run across this wine you might want to get a few bottles and try drinking it over a period of years rather than months to really see what time can do with it. I'll give it 8 1/2 swiggs and say that it is far better now than it was back when I bought it.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

In this case , the reviewers are correct !

I used to buy wines from Bogle about 20 years ago . Looking at the grapes used in this blend I was curious to see if Bogle could pull off a nice wine for $ 8.99 , right in the range of a 'weekday' wine price for me. There's old vine Zin, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Sirah in this blend, not really a Bordeaux or Rhone style-more of a California "Hey.....let's try this and see what happens" style-or at least that's how I interpret it. About 8 years ago I bought a wine called River Park that possibly was a similar blend with grapes from central California and it was one of my top picks of the year. I can't say if this Bogle is that good but on first taste I will say that it is a very successful experiment and a wine that I will keep buying. This 'Essential Red' 2013 can be found at Trader Joes and scores a 7 1/2 swiggs-oustanding for a sub $ 9.00 red. The wine Enthusiast gave it 89 points and I think that they are right on the mark-almost an outstanding wine.

Napa Valley red with heart

That's a purple heart to be more precise. This wine is made by a Viet Nam war veteran and he annually donates to the Purple Heart foundation some of the proceeds from the sales of this wine. There are other reasons to buy this wine- for one , it is reasonable for a Napa red at $ 13.99. For two, it is very well made and a nice dry example of a red wine from this great region. I found this one at Shopper's Corner here in Santa Cruz but I'm sure that it exists elsewhere. We gave it 8 swiggs, a good score in this price range. There is no information on the label indicating what grapes are in the blend but it seems to be a Bordeaux style .

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Napa Cab that is a bargain

Yes......sounds impossible but in this case it is true-there's a Napa Cabernet for just under $ 15.00 that is pretty darn good. Back in the early '90's I got a bunch of reserve wines from Sterling and cellared them for awhile. I would taste one very six months or so and conclude that the wine was too tannic. It remained that way until the last bottle was I decided that I really didn't care for the way Sterling Cabs were made.
Here it is, many years later and I found this bottle at Shopper's corner and decided to give it a try. This  2011 Sterling anniversary Napa valley cabernet is a very good wine for $ 14.95-in fact it would be a very good wine for $ 20. It isn't huge but it does the Napa style justice and really improved as we drank it. I would give it 7 1/2 swiggs, maybe 8. If you find it anywhere, pick up a bottle and see what I mean.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Tobin James Syrah

Last weekend while coming back from an MTB race in the southern Sierra foothills I drove by and braved the huge throngs at the Tobin James Zin festival weekend. I bought a 1/2 case of assorted wine including this one: 2012 Rock 'n roll Syrah. This Paso Robles red is really good for the money, a common feature of all of the Tobin James wines. There's a lot going on with the flavor, big but not too jammy, lots of nice floral high notes. I'm not kidding......this one is very much worth looking for.  This wine sells for about $ 18.00 at the winery and I'll give it 9 swiggs. I'll be reviewing the rest of the box in the coming months.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Toscana to remember

Every once in awhile I see a label and give a double take-this wine was one that got my attention. The vintage was 2008 so I saw an opportunity to get a ready to drink Tuscan red for a fairly low price. I have now had three bottles in the last several weeks of this wine and am very impressed. You can find this one at Shopper's Corner in Santa Cruz and it sells for $ 13.99. This one drinks like a $ 50.00 Brunello.......yes, it is that good .  I'll give it 9 swiggs and call it the best wine so far of 2016.