Tag Archives: Kroger

Wine Tasting Report – Frei Brothers at Kroger Austin Landing

The mega-Kroger has been open in Austin Landing for about a year, but this was my first chance to attend one of their wine tastings. They really go all-out on Friday, with some very impressive hot appetizers and dinner options from the kitchen. And they have a full on-premise license, so you can open any bottle on the shelf if the tasting flight doesn’t appeal to you!

This week they sample Frei Brothers wine from California, and I had the roast vegetable flatbread and the Tuscan-style poached corvina.  The wines were a mixed bag, but the Merlot stood out positively.

Frei Brothers Chardonnay (2012) Russian River Valley – $17

Color: very bright yellow,

Aroma: predominately apple, with some toast and vanilla underneath.

Taste: high acid for a Chardonnay; the apple carries into the midpalate, but then oak dominates from there to the finish.  Decent enough, but not really noteworthy.

Frei Brothers Pinot Noir (2011) Russian River Valley – $23

Color: quite dark for Pinot; I suspect there may be something else blended in.

Aroma: cherry and oak, with some forest-floor and earth.

Taste: quite full-bodied and almost jammy. This is not really varietally correct, so I’m almost certain they threw in 15% or so of Zin or Syrah to plump it up. Disappointing, actually.

Frei Brothers Merlot (2012) Sonoma County – $20

Color: garnet red

Aroma: very inviting spiciness.

Taste: round, dark, full, with a big dollop of fruit throughout. This is nice stuff, darker and heavier than a typical California Merlot. On the finish, the acidity you expect finally makes its appearance. I think this is the star of the tasting.

Frei Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon (2011) Alexander Valley – $20

Color: very dark purple.

Aroma: mostly earth notes, with some cassis and blueberry.

Taste: this is thinner in the mouth than what you expect. The Merlot is actually bigger than the Cab – this bottle is disappointing.


Winetasting Report: Kroger Centerville

Spent a pleasant hour with Rick & Linda at the Kroger in Centerville. Some interesting wines, including a few bottles left over from yesterday’s tasting, but nothing that really stood out.

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs (NV) California – $35

Moderate toast, with predominately fruit notes on the palate. Not much floral character at all. Pretty good.

Beaulieu Reserve Chardonnay (2007) Carneros, California – $20

Not what I was expecting at all – fruit, just a little oak, and very light. I’d go so far as to call this thin. Just a little bit of butter on the finish. Not recommended.

Beaulieu Pinot Noir (2010) Napa Valley, California – $23

Pretty dark for a Pinot. Aromas of cherry, with some anise and spice, then earthier on the palate. A little tight, as a matter of fact. I liked it.

Beaulieu Cabernet Sauvignon (2009) Rutherford, California – $33

Tight. Much more of a spicy Cab. Typical Cabernet fruit complex of cassis and blackberry as it opens up. OK, but not worth the money.

Buena Vista “The Count” (2012) Sonoma Valley, California – $20

An undisclosed red blend – Ken says that there is a touch of port in it. Big fruit, and almost a touch of sweet cheese (like mango cheddar, maybe?) if you really get your nose into the glass. Pretty nice after having been open for 24 hours. Very drinkable.

Ghost Pines Cabernet (2011) North Coast, California – $20

Yeah, this is nice – also open for 24 hours but still very dense and loaded with fruit – black and red. Best wine of the entire tasting.

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.

Winetasting Report: Kroger in Centerville

I popped down to the Saturday afternoon tasting to meet up with my buddy Carl, and ran into several more friends and acquaintances while I was there. The tasting flight included some higher-end reserve wines, notably the Bordeaux-style reds. I’d had the two whites before, but the reds were new to me. I was especially interested in the Ink Blot Tannat. Here’s a review of what Jennifer was pouring.

Dr. L Riesling (2012) Mosel, Germany – $12

Good quality for an inexpensive, off-dry Riesling. Enough acidity to offset the residual sugar. Crisp and clean, mostly with notes of Granny Smith apple, lime, lime zest, and minerality.

Photo0245Gundlach Bundschu Estate Chardonnay (2011) Sonoma County, California – $25

I’ve mostly had the reds from Gundlach Bundschu before. This is a well-made Chardonnay – it’s not overoaked, and it has a solid, medium-bodied feel. Nothing overwhelming about it, though, and I don’t think it’s worth the hefty price tag. There are plenty of nice French and South African Chards for less.

Buena Vista Legendary Badge Red (2012) Sonoma County, California – $30

The first of three red Bordeaux blends. This has good black and red fruit, and a velvety mouthfeel throughout. A little more fruit-forward than I prefer, but very nice. One of the two real winners at the tasting today.

Inkblot Tannat (2010) Lodi, California – $40

This comes from Michael + David Phillips (who also make Seven Deadly Zins, Petite Petit, and a host of other wines). It’s in one of their premium tiers – they also use the Inkblot label for a Cabernet Franc which I’ve had and enjoyed. I’ll be making some blog posts and e-book or two about Tannat, Malbec, and Carmenere – the “lost” Bordeaux varieties – look for them.

Back to the wine at hand – I like this a lot. Big, but not too tannic, with a nice feel all around and interesting flavor notes. I get dark blackberry and cassis fruit, some good earthiness, and a touch of black olive on the finish. It’s very dark in color and makes you think it’s going to be stiff and tannic, but it opens up right away in the glass, with no rough edges – a very pleasant surprise for a Tannat. This is the other winner in the tasting – not something I’d drink every day, but a fun bottle to have with steaks on the grill during the fall. Especially if you can light the fire pit and eat outside!

Jack Nicklaus Red (2008) Napa Valley, California – $60

I am always wary of ‘vanity’ wine labels – especially golfers and rock stars. Ernie Els does it right – he hired the best winemaker in South Africa, Jean Engelbrecht, and gave him top-billing on the label. I don’t know which one of Jack’s VPs handled this deal, but I’m afraid it’s a loser.  There’s nothing in this that you couldn’t get for half the price. Just an ordinary California Cab-Merlot blend, with an embarrassingly short finish. Don’t buy it.

Winetasting Report: Kroger Marketplace Centerville

Met some buddies at the Kroger Marketplace in Centerville, OH for their Friday tasting – wines from Duckhorn, plus a bonus Knight’s Valley Cabernet from Beringer. The tasting venue is very nice – a good ambience, decent glasses, and complimentary nibbles.

Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc (2011) Napa Valley, California, $30.

A bright brassy color. It needs to warm up a bit, then the aroma becomes quite heady. A creamy mouthfeel, with sweet citrus and just a little acrid on the finish. After it warms up, there’s more grass and gooseberry, with a hint of lemongrass. A big body – 13% alcohol.

Migration Chardonnay (2009) Russian River Valley, California, $30.

Straw yellow in color, with butter and grilled toast aromas. A moderate style – it’s not overoaked. Notes of golden apple and sweet butter, pretty tasty. 14.1% alcohol, so it’s not overly hot or oily. Recommended.

Decoy Red Blend (2010) Napa Valley, California, $25.

They don’t print the blend details on the label, but this is composed of Bordeaux varieties with some Zin, if memory serves. Very California in style. It’s a dark purple-red, with a jammy/cooked fruit nose. Lots of blackberry, cassis, and plum, with some toasty oak. Medium-weight tannins – it could use some air to really bring out the finish. Recommended.

Decoy Cabernet Sauvignon (2010) Sonoma Valley, California, $25.

Very dark in color, with cassis and blueberry aromas. Pretty big up front, with jammy and chewy character, but the finish runs away very quickly. Not my favorite – there are plenty of good Cabs for $20 and under that hold up longer. Not Recommended.

Beringer Knight’s Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (2010) Knight’s Valley, California, $40 marked down to $30.

The star of the show – inky dark blue-purple in color, with a big, heady aroma of chocolate and cassis. Plenty of tannin on the palate, with a reprise of fruit and cocoa that coat the tongue nicely. Recommended at the mark-down price.