Monthly Archives: October 2013

Drinking Tonight: Trader Joe’s Coastal Merlot

This is one of the flagship private labels at TJ’s, part of a line from the Central Coast region of California. These are dependable, cool-climate wines that are priced in the $6 range. I’m having this with vegetable pizza tonight.

Trader Joe’s Coastal Merlot (2011) Central Coast, California – $6

Photo0258Color: nice plummy purple.

Aroma: a decent combination of cherry, plum, and berry fruit.

Taste: a nice style – moderated acidity, good fruit, a hint of smokiness, and just enough tannin on the finish. Excellent quality for the price, especially when you consider the gallons and gallons of overly-tart Merlots from California. Recommended.

Drinking Tonight: Goats in Villages Chenin Blanc-Viognier

The Goats do Roam people have cut back on the number of wines they produce. That’s a good thing – they were getting to be a parody of themselves, in my opinion. During that process, they’ve private-labelled a few productions. This is clearly labelled as coming from them, but it’s sold exclusively at Trader Joe’s (in the Ohio market, at least). There’s nothing on the label about the blend proportions; let’s see what we can figure out. I’m drinking this with a seafood risotto.

Goats in Villages Chenin Blanc-Viognier (2010) Western Cape, South Africa – $12

Photo0256Color: full straw yellow with a lot of green undertones.

Aroma: big perfume aromas, which means that the Viognier percentage is significant. I get just a touch of the melon aroma from the Chenin Blanc – but Chenin is always quiet on the nose compared to Viognier.

Taste: ah, there’s the melon, followed by some dried apricot and more floral elements. I’m guessing that this is somewhere in the range of 60% Chenin and 40% Viognier. The finish is pretty powerful, with dried fruit and some candied/carmelized notes. It’s certainly big enough for risotto, and would easily handle lobster or hearty fin fish.

Overall, this is a nice example of the South African take on a White Rhone style. I like the visual and olfactory appeal, and it’s certainly big enough in the mouth. It’s good value for the money: not an absolute steal like some of the Spanish I’ve been drinking lately, but enough to get a Recommended tag from me. Buy a few bottles before it’s gone!


Drinking Tonight: La Mano Mencia

Mencia is one of those obscure grapes that is an absolutely joy to discover.  It’s one of the few red grapes that grows in the cool, rainy northwestern parts of Spain. This bottle is a new purchase from Trader Joe’s that I’m drinking with pizza. The term ‘Roble’ is a recent development in the Spanish wine trade – it literally means ‘oak’, indicating that the wine has seen some oak aging, but not enough to qualify for the ‘Crianza’ tier – in this case, 3 months.

La Mano Mencia Roble (2010) Bierzo, Spain – $8

Photo0250Color: dark, plummy red, shading to purple in the center.

Aroma: bing cherry, cedar, and some licorice-earth notes.

Taste: easy up front with just some cherry and plum fruit, then building in the mid-palate with tannin and earth notes. Finishes with some tannin and heat – a crescendo all the way through. Definitely a food wine.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this. Mencia is still rare in the US, and to find a bottle for just $8 is worth it for the novelty value alone. This is a nice bottle for hearty fare and is worth a slot in your wine rack.

Winetasting Report: Kroger Centerville

I met up with Rick and Ralph for a quick tasting at Kroger in Centerville. A fair-to-middling tasting, with the star being the Merlot from Chile.

Franciscan Chardonnay (2011) Napa Valley, California – $20

Clean and crisp, with light to medium oak. The oak comes through more in the texture than in the taste. An oaky Chardonnay that’s well made – this isn’t fat, flabby, or hot

Photo0249Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Merlot (2009) Colchagua Valley, Chile – $20

Very dark in country, and it has a big nose – chocolate and cherry. Tart and tannic, with more cocoa on the palate. Textbook Chilean Merlot (this includes 15% Carmenere), with a big, chewy mouthfeel and some heat and earth towards the finish. After it opens up a bit, the tannins are pleasantly dusty.

Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandre Syrah (2008) Cachapoal Valley, Chile – $28

In case you’re wondering, Cachapoal is a subdivision of the Rapel Valley that was recently delineated. This has some meatiness on the nose, and is also extremely dark. It’s a little weak on the palate, however. It promises a lot up front but doesn’t quite deliver.

St. Francis Cabernet Sauvignon (2009) Sonoma County, California – $20

This is not particularly dark or fruit-forward for a California Cab. It has more red fruit (raspberry, cherry, red currant) than black fruit. A little tight as well. A sub-par wine for St. Francis.

BV BeauRouge (2009) Napa Valley, California – $30

This has everything but the kitchen sink in it – Merlot, Cab, Zin, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Carignan, and Touriga Nacional! It gives a big tannic punch up front, and then the earthy/smoky grapes (Zin, Petite Sirah, Carignan, Touriga) dominate in the mouth. It falls off quickly, however. Not worth the money, unfortunately.

Preview of Coming Attractions

Just a quick update about what you’ll be seeing in the blog and the Kindle store soon!

A wine-tasting report from Kroger Centerville tomorrow.

I picked up a couple of nice bottles at Trader Joe’s today, including a Mencia from Spain, an Albariño, and 2 very promising Bordeaux.  I’ll be tasting them in the next week or so.

The next Wine Me Up! ebooks will be:

  • Ordering Wine in Restaurants
  • Malbec, Carmenere, and Tannat
  • Trader Joe’s Buying Guide

And I’ll have a Dayton Local column on party planning at the end of November, too.

Drinking Tonight: Pinot Noirs from France and New Zealand

I have a beef pot roast resting, and just cracked open two new Pinots – both inexpensive Trader Joe’s purchases. Pinot is one of those grapes where you generally get what you pay for – it’s a low-yielding vine that is prone to hail damage and rot. I generally don’t even try Pinot Noirs that retail for under $20, but let’s see what these have in store.

A good wine pairing tip – the less fat in the food, the less tannin you should have in the wine. Since pot roast is especially lean, it goes great with Pinot Noir – the lowest-tannin red out there.

Picton Bay Pinot Noir (2012) Marlborough, New Zealand – $12.00

Color: light, clean red – New Zealand Pinots are known for their light coloring.

Photo0247Aroma: candied cherry and some licorice/spice notes – I can’t tell from the nose if this is going to be masculine or feminine.

Taste: lively with good acidity. I think this comes down more on the spice/earth side, but there is some definite cranberry and raspberry fruit in there as well.

MGM Pinot Noir (2011) Pays d’Oc, France – $9.00

Color: just half a shade darker.

Aroma: this is closed off – I get a touch of candied fruit (what the English would call ‘boiled sweet’).

Taste: uneventful – it’s Pinot, but there’s not much to say about it. Let’s see if the beef improves it. Annnnnd….. no.

Well this was a disappointing tasting. I can’t recommend either of these wines – the Picton Bay is just barely passable.