RSS

Tag Archives: California wine

A U.S. Gold Medal Varietal: Zinfandel

With Olympic fever in full swing, I decided I should dedicate my reviews to medal winning countries. Until I can get my hands on a Chinese wine (and I do believe I have found my contact for that one!), I’m going to have to sort through the other medal winning countries and present you with their winning wines and varietals.

Today’s ‘presentation’ goes to the United States and what is considered to be the country’s truly “American” varietal (even though it looks like it has it’s roots in Croatia). Allow me to introduce you to the United States ‘gold standard’ varietal-Zinfandel.

Zinfandel wears more hats than any other grape I’ve come across. It’s many styles include zingy, ripe berry-fruit sensations in red; bold, tannic, spicy devils, vin nouveau (young, light bodied reds), and tart roses. I have seen soft, simple blushes (better known as ‘white’ zinfandel), Zins turned into sparkling wines, plus those that are turned into dessert and fortified wines (I have a bottle of Montefino Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port chilling as we speak~YUM!). No matter how picky the person may be, there’s sure to be a Zinfandel style to please.

Although they say ‘Cabernet is King’ in California, you could easily say that Zinfandel is the emperor, as there are nearly as many acres of Zinfandel planted as Cabernet Sauvignon. Or maybe it should get a Congeniality award, since it is as comfortable at a backyard bbq as it is in a fine dining establishment with a steak. This varietal loves everything!

Some of the most notable areas growing Zinfandel styles (besides just the basic California state appellation are Amador County, Paso Robles, Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley, and the Russian River Valley.

Which Zinfandel am I sipping on this evening? I pulled a DeLoach 2009 Heritage Reserve Zinfandel from California. It’s an easy sip…trust me! Very fruit forward with rich, ripe berries and cherries on the tongue, a touch of cola flavor, a hint of vanilla and spice, pretty garnet color in the glass. Total non-offender, this one! Good balance makes it perfect with food or just for sipping alone. I actually paired it up with my Baked Ziti since I didn’t want to decant an Italian Barolo…I wanted to eat, dammit! Cut through the cheese, italian sausage, and worked well with the marinara.

What makes this one even better is the price: right around $10. This is an awesome everyday wine that you can break out for company and know you’re going to get smiles from the crowd…call it the ‘Gabby Douglas’ of Zinfandel…an all-around winner!

Other favorite Zins of mine you might enjoy are Seghesio (a variety of choices from $20-45), 7 Deadly Zins ($17), Renwood Vineyards of the Sierra Foothills ($20-38), Rancho Zabaco of Sonoma ($13-23, OR you could get their ‘little brother’ Dancing Bull Zinfandel with a California designation for under $10), Cline ‘Ancient Vines’ ( $15, although you can find any of their Zins between $11 and $22), and Sledgehammer out of the North Coast of California ($15…see my YouTube review of the 2008 vintage at http://youtu.be/dX–C50QK2w…DON’T FORGET TO BECOME A MEMBER OF THE PAGE SO YOU DON’T MISS ANY REVIEWS!…okay, shameless plug is now over).

Honestly, there are so many wonderful Zinfandel choices from so many areas of California, that you could spend every day of the Olympics sipping a new choice and you wouldn’t run out.

Pick up a bottle tonight and find out what makes this varietal such a winner…I know I’ll be doing more of the same.

Cheers!

~CC

 
3 Comments

Posted by on August 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The California “Love Child” of Bordeaux and Piedmont: 2007 Valeriano from Jacuzzi Winery

Ever have one of those days that was so dreadful even Murphy’s Law wouldn’t get near it?  Where you had the Midas Touch, except things didn’t turn to gold, it turned to…well, you get the idea.

Today was one of those amazing days.  I’m not sure which stung more: the arm covered in blisters from stinging nettle, or the 8 year old explaining that I look like one of the Angry Birds when I’m scolding her.

I know I’m probably showing my age here (for you young little darlings, you’ll have to Google this), but today has been a day where, if I had Calgon, I would throw the whole damn box into the tub and scream at it to not only take me away, but to make it one way, and lose the passport afterward.

Sadly…I have no Calgon.

But I do have something better.

I have France and Italy uncorked.  I have California Dreamin’ in my hands…

…I have the 2007 Valeriano from Jacuzzi Vineyards in my glass.

I’ll admit it, I had no idea what this wine was about.  I’ll even confess, I had not heard of this winery before (I live with an 8 year old that shames me, cut me some slack).  But with the stress and humiliation I have endured the past few days, those two magical words caught my eye: Valeriano and Jacuzzi.

I figured Valeriano should maybe be the Italian name for Valerian, an herbal relaxant, and we all know what a Jacuzzi is.  I know, it’s not terribly intellectual, but in my overworked mind, it equaled a stress-free nirvana in a bottle.  I took the bait.

It turns out that Valeriano is the first name of Valeriano Jacuzzi, the man responsible for the much coveted Jacuzzi tub.  He and his family also grew wine, and did it well…Valeriano is the Grandfather of Fred Cline of the highly regarded Cline Cellars.  They actually run Jacuzzi Winery in the Carneros area of Sonoma and make this red beauty.  All in all, with all of this new found information, I figure things were looking good where this wine was concerned.

‘Valeriano’ takes the best of Bordeaux by using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot grapes, then adds that renowned California ‘creativity’ by blending it with the Italian grape Barbera.  The ‘love child’ produced is truly spectacular!

In the glass, deep ruby with a mix of dark cherry, blackberry, basil, cocoa, and what I refer to as ‘dusty soil’ (which I find pretty typical of Italian wines) on the nose.

The taste is enough to make me do a little happy dance.  Blackberry pie and cherry fruits mix with mocha, spice, and even a little black olive on the finish.  I know, it’s not something you’d whip together in the kitchen, but trust me, IT WORKS!  It has enough tannin to give die-hard red fans something to hang on to, but they are smooth and soft on the tongue to appease those that like a lighter red.  Just a great mouth feel…and a great taste…on a great deal of a wine.

Now when I say great deal, it is not one of my ‘Around the Wine World for Under $20′ finds.  This one you’ll find around $35-40, so it’s not what I would call an everyday wine.  But given the great expense of California Cabernets, Bordeaux, and the finer wines of Piedmont, this is a steal!  You don’t find a wine of this quality at a bargain like this every day.

Pair it up with Italian (that’s a no-brainer), a big ol’ steak, brisket (BBQ season is upon us), pulled pork, venison, and, if you’re a heathen like me, the biggest bacon and blue cheese burger you can wrap your hands around.

Cheers!

~CC

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Why Did the Chicken Grace My Wine Glass? Rex Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon

As I hunker down inside the house, listening to the cold winds whip and the pellets of sleet hitting the window, my ‘Cheap Summer Wine Tour’ seems like a sad distant memory. Did I mention I hate the winter, and I hate being holed up like a prisoner to the cold?

With defiance, I grab a pair of fuzzy slippers and my wine glass, and, come hell or high snow drifts, I’m going to find a way to enjoy the season. It will be with copious amounts of wine.

And so begins my Winter Wine Adventure, where, with the change leftover from spending too much on Christmas gifts for people I may or may not even like, I will purchase and explore bargain wines with the same character and depth you’d find in the knit scarf and mittens your Aunt Clara would make.

The first wine of the season is a non-vintage wine out of California called HRM Rex~Goliath Free Range Cabernet Sauvignon. The bottle immediately caught my attention as it sports artwork reflecting a 47 lb Giant Rooster of circus fame that held the name of Rex Goliath. Yes…a 47lb giant circus rooster.

This wine is either going to have tons of character or be bad beyond belief. At $6.99, I’m praying for a miracle.

Pouring into the glass, the big bad liquid bird struts out in a deep, inky purple-ish red in color. The nose is equally boisterous with heavy notes of cedar and smoky oak. A second sniff also reveals scents of plum and mocha as well, but the cedar takes the center ring overall.

And now for the main event..will it be a showstopper for the right reasons?

On the initial sip, I thought it was too much. This big bird definitely has some bite, but, after letting it breathe for about 40 minutes, I tried it again.

Not bad!

It doesn’t taste like some cheap, one-dimensional, rot-gut fruit punch trying to capitalize on the California Cabernet Sauvignon craze. This actually has some good things going on here. Lots of dark, ripe fruit in here laced with the smoky oak flavor and cedar that was on the nose. Soft, smooth tannins and a nice, lingering finish. For $7.00, this could EASILY be an every day ‘go to’ wine. Yes, we’re having chicken yet again.

But the only place you want the ‘chicken’ is poured in your glass. It’s too bold to pair with poultry. This wine DEFINITELY needs a big, hearty beef dish…a thick steak or a hearty beef stew is in order.

Pluck this bird from your local liquor store and sip it often.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 2, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Star Has Fallen: 2009 Newman’s Own Cabernet Sauvignon

I’ll admit, Mommy’s frazzled and she needs…I mean NEEDS her ‘sippie cup’ of wine. Between marching band practice, flute lessons, and Girl Scouts, how is a woman supposed to properly study for her Certified Specialist of Wine exam that is happening in only three days?

Well, you pray a lot to God, Bacchus, your pets, anyone that might listen, you cut corners for time in any way you can think of, and you drink whatever wine you can get your hands on.

I decided to combine the last two options and asked my daughters’ father to not only grab dinner options from the grocery store around the corner from me, but asked if he would please pick me up a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to help calm my frazzled nerves. I did not think that request through, fully, as he knows wines about as well as Lady Gaga knows how to be subdued.

Along with a variety of frozen pizzas, sandwich meats, bags of pre-made salad, and Newman’s Own Ranch dressing, he also presented me with a bottle of 2009 Newman’s Own Cabernet Sauvignon.

Another ‘celebrity’ wine…just what I needed.

As I stared at the bottle, I started thinking to myself, ‘well, the pasta sauces and salad dressings are good, and Paul Newman was an absolute winner, how bad can this be?’

So I started to do my homework. $10 for the bottle; I’ve had pretty decent wines for that price, actually. Like his other products, all the profits, after taxes, are donated to charity. I love that! Looked at the winery that produced it. Rebel Winery…hmmmm…I knew nothing about them.
Turns out they’re from Napa, California. That’s always a good sign as Napa is KNOWN for their Cabernet Sauvignons. Also owned by Trinchero Estates, pretty big name in wine. I figured that was another great sign. So, I opened the bottle and poured.

The color was a bit of a purplish red…pretty in the glass…definitely looked like a young wine. As I shoved my nose into the glass to take that first perfumed whiff, I was almost overwhelmed by the smell of cherries. Once I backed off and took another sniff, I caught vanilla and oak, with a peppery smell to it. Thought it smelled a little TOO fruity to be a Cabernet, but hey, I’m stressed, maybe my nose is off.

So, the most important part finally arrived (especially after the past few days of kids, studying, and work). I took that first sip and…

…it wasn’t ‘Butch and Sundance’ quality to me.

It’s really not a bad wine. You taste exactly what you get on the nose: an overwhelming profusion of cherries, maybe a touch of blackberry, a hint of vanilla and oak, and almost TOO much black pepper at the end. OH…the end. What happened to the end? It just sort of disappeared…rode off into the sunset without so much as a word…at a full gallop, no less. There really was no finish. Just the initial wallop of cherry and pepper flavors then…’poof’…gone.

I have kept tasting it over and over, because I SO wanted this wine to be a favorite…I really did. I admit it (and I know this dates me), I wanted it to have all of the sex appeal that Paul Newman had…even at 83. I wanted this wine to cause me to melt like the gaze from Newman’s blue eyes, but sadly, it didn’t.

This wine reminds me more of a big fruit bomb Shiraz with lots of pepper thrown in an attempt to make it interesting. It doesn’t remind me of a California Cabernet at all; especially a Napa Cab.

I know, I shouldn’t have expected much from a $10 bottle of Cabernet. Except I did. And I’ve had some lovely cheap priced Cabernets. The Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet immediately pops into my mind. In fact, it is still in my mind. I’m thinking I may have to go down into my mini wine-cellar (I’m a mom, not a wine collector) and grab it just to get my fix.

Like I said, this really isn’t a bad wine. It sure beats anything in a box, I’ll tell you that! But even at a $10 price, I think I can do better.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Sweet Taste of Summer: Zinfandel Port Under $20

Success is mine! My children are officially back in school, the house is my own again, I can hear my own thoughts without the constant barrage of Pokemon and teen angst. I have accomplished more in 3 days of studying for my Certified Specialist of Wine exam than I have in the 3 months of summer vacation.

Tonight, I celebrate my victory…and oh, how sweet this victory is.

My eyes look longingly at the bottle of Montevino Terra d’Oro Zinfandel in my hands. Hello my dear friend…oh I have missed you so! The beautiful garnet color, the smell of raisins and dark chocolate (LOVE that smell of dark chocolate), and toffee…yes, toffee (another dear friend of mine), as well as a hint of orange peel.

But mostly I’ve missed the fact that you dance on my tongue and make me sigh. Big jammy, blackberry and cassis flavors, the chocolate…ahhhh…the chocolate and even coffee flavors, the sharp sweetness with a touch of orange on the finish.

My taste buds are in sensory overload.

Nothing can take away this pleasure. No, not even my 8 year old daughter who is CERTAIN she will be swept into a portal for another dimension IF she goes to bed on time. Not the 16 year old daughter, the sensitive artist, who lives a life of torture because she is so deep and no one could possibly understand her. No, nothing could make this simple delight any sweeter (literally or figuratively)…except maybe the price. This little slice of heaven is under $20, which means it qualifies for designation in my Summer Cheap Wine Tour. Yes, that DEFINITELY makes it that much sweeter!

And this piece of dark chocolate I’m nibbling with it…did I mention this goes sooooooo unbelievably well with chocolate? Oh, it goes well with a strong cheese like the Dutch Bleu I was nibbling on earlier.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is better than date night ever could be…cheaper too, and no chance for disappointment.

Montevina Terra d’Oro Port is a fortified Port style wine made from the Zinfandel Grape in Amador County, California. High alcohol content (19%) but an amazing balance of sweetness and acidity.

Make your life a little sweeter. Pour yourself some today! Cheers!~CC

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 23, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: