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.