Thursday, October 27, 2011

Herding Cats Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay, Vintage 2010

First, let me make this disclaimer: This wine is complete shit, but I love it.

The result of a purchase designed to shame and embarrass me as a cat lover, I'm glad I discovered this wine, because it's perfect just as it is: cheap, unassuming, and unoffensive. It's also unextraordinary and unremarkable, but I'm willing to let that slide, personally.

Verdict: Porch wine. It has some of the typical characteristics of a Chenin Blanc (a white floral nose, a minerally palate) and a few of the typical characteristics of a Chardonnay (a fruity palate, creamy mouthfeel due to the ML Fermentation), but it's not terribly complex. It is, however, crisp, refreshing and fruity - a great summer or easing-into-fall wine (or if you're me, an all-year wine!).

Pairing: I have (honestly) paired this with anything. From macaroni and cheese to hamburger helper, this wine just hangs back and stays refreshing - it doesn't presume to "go" with anything. Just buy it to keep in your house for dinner parties... no one needs to know that it's got a silly label!

Wine: Herding Cats Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay, Vintage 2010

Price: $7.99
Purchased: Harris Teeter, Alexandria VA

La Cappuccina Soave, Vintage 2010

This wine was pretty snappy considering it only cost $10! The nose was very floral, but also had a lot of stone fruits (maybe peach or apricot?) and the palate very bright with a hint of herbal or nutty complexity. I got some ripe vegetables on the first sip, but then some nuts and a hint of vanilla (oak-aged, maybe? I can't find anything to confirm this suspicion...) on the second round. The finish didn't linger, but it wasn't abrupt either, and for a white wine, had a surprisingly satisfying medium body.

Verdict: This was a fairly complex white at this price point, but ultimately, l would still deem it "porch wine". Being a bit unfamiliar with both the region and the varietal, I may have to revise this post later once I've had a bit more education on them, but from what I read, my notes are fairly consistent with typical Soaves that are young and from less reputable (but still respected) wineries.

Teachable Moment:
This wine is made predominantly (70%) of a grape that I have *literally* never heard of: Garganega. It took a little bit of research to educate myself on it enough to share with you - so this teachable moment is for you AND me:
Garganega is a variety of white Italian wine grape widely grown in the Veneto region of North East Italy, particularly in the provinces of Verona and Vicenza. It is Italy's 6th most widely planted white grape. It forms the basis of Venetian white wine Soave and is also a major portion of the blend used to make Gambellara.[1]
DNA typing studies in 2003 and 2008 have confirmed that the Grecanico Dorato (Grecanio) grape of Sicily is identical to Garganega.[2] Already before these studies, ampelographers believed the grapes to be related due to the similarities of clusters, berries and leaf characteristics.[3]
-Taken from the Wikipedia page on Garganega.
Pairing: Being an Italian wine of fairly acidic character, I'd be amiss not to recommend it with pasta. I imagine, if I liked seafood, that this would be a great wine for some linguini in clam sauce or other such dish with a thicker sauce and a heady aroma... but, if you're like me, chicken Alfredo is the way to go! 

Wine: La Cappuccina Soave, Vintage 2010
Price: $9.99
Purchased: Whole Foods Market, Alexandria VA

Friday, October 21, 2011

Whoa whoa whoa... where did I go?

Darling blog follower-type people,

I just wanted to send an apologetic note to you (even if you probably didn't notice my lack of posting), because you are no-doubt long overdue for some inexpensive recommendations! The sad thing is that I have 4 draft posts in here, another 3 sets of tasting notes to compile, and a stack of notes from an extensive tasting in Baltimore I did 3 weekends ago, so it hasn't been for lack of drinking ...err..."material".

I'm shooting to get the 4 draft posts pushed out by tomorrow afternoon, and then I'm putting myself on a regular schedule! Since the possibility of my having to go completely gluten free looms large and in-charge, I'm glad that wine is the one thing I truly won't have to think about before I consume. Whether this change in my diet will increases my wine consumption or just allows me to enjoy it that much more, I guess we'll just have to see...!

With love,

Your (very) skint sommelier

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Life is complicated ... so read someone else's perspective!

I get the daily emails from Snooth, and I find them very interesting sometimes (of course, sometimes they're not, but whatever).

Yesterday's email was about summer wines not being just about the whites and rosés... and I found myself nodding in agreement. Check it out here.

Definitely food for thought (or drink, rather...).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Miyone Garnacha Seleccion Old Vines, Vintage 2009

A holdover from that Wine Source "big-buy" I did a few months ago, this was a wine that we drank reluctantly ... but it a wasn't terrible choice (of course, nor was it great). Because it says "Garnacha" on the bottle, you already know it's from Spain (everywhere else in the world refers to the Varietal as "Grenache"), and it's fairly rare to find a Grenache that doesn't have too much else blended into it. This wine is 100% Garnacha, and it screams loudly from the bottle "I AM A THIN-SKINNED GRAPE! I WANT TO BE INDEPENDENT BUT BY MYSELF I AM (mostly) A HOT MESS!" If you'd like to know more about the wine snob world's view on Grenache/Garnacha, read how the "Appelation America" site (plug later) comically describes the varietal below!


Almost a dessert wine, this bottle is super sweet. As I am not a huge proponent of sweet reds, the sugar content of this bad boy was a deterrent to me - but not one to my dinner guests. A matter of taste, the wine itself was fragrant and flavorful, with a nose that reeked of red and black berries and a fruit-juicy, peppery flavor on the palate. Two things to note: the finish was short and a bit abrupt, and this bottle DOES. NOT. AGE. WELL. If you open it, you'd better be willing to drink the whole thing, because it's sickeningly sweet even a day after (and it has a screw-top lid!). This grape is frankly more of a "supporting grape" (*giggle* see below!), and I think it does more to enhance the flavors in blends than it does in a bottle all by its lonesome. Still, overall it was not terrible, but not terribly enjoyable (for me) either... if you want a sweet red that's meatier than a rosé but semi-higher quality than most of the nasty "sweet reds" (see one of my earlier "don't drink this even if your life depends on it" posts) ... go with this. Cheap, sweet, and fairly unobtrusive if you can balance out the sugar with your food.

And now... for a "teachable moment"!
Below is an excerpt from the varietal page for the Grenache (aka "Garnacha") grape, found on the "Appelation America" site (join for a small fee each month if you want to learn a lot about wine as well as have access to some great - and often hysterical - tasting notes and wine lists). As a member, I won't divulge all the secrets I pay for on a monthly basis, but I find this description of Grenache to be fitting and entertaining:

Pairing: We drank this bottle with pasta and red sauce... WRONG. The sugar in the bottle + the acidity in the sauce = nasty migraine for me (and a nasty, lingering taste in your mouth for anyone who dares try this combo). Better enjoyed, as I said above, as a heavier dessert wine (don't get me wrong, it's not intended for this purpose, and WILL NOT play nicely with other very sugary things), this could also pair well with fatty foods like stews and lambs - something heavier to balance out the sugar (but not overwhelm it with acidity *cough* pasta dish *cough*). Again, it all comes down to preference ... I'd drink this wine with a bread pudding or some pumpkin bread before I'd eat it with meat (after all, I love my Zins!), but you might like it for dinner - as always, try it and feel free to let me know!

Wine: Miyone Garnacha Seleccion Old Vines, Vintage 2009
Price: $8.99
Purchased: The Wine Source, Baltimore MD

Friday, June 24, 2011

Agua de Piedra Reserva Malbec, Vintage 2010

Bless my Dad's little heart, he is always trying to keep up with my flighty passions. Ever a beer connoisseur, my Dad wouldn't touch wine with a 10-foot pole until I started taking the WSET Classes last year ... then, suddenly, I came home for the weekend and he was sipping Malbec out of a tiny white sampler glass and saying things like "this doesn't have a lot of tannins in it, so I like it". It was precious ... but more importantly, it was true.

My Dad brought this bottle over as a "housewarming" present for my roommate Caroline and I to enjoy, along with my typical bottle of Dr. L Riesling (always a favorite) and some food. Then he helped me move stuff. This is why my Dad is awesome.

Verdict: While I didn't drink much of this bottle, I did enjoy what I had - and let me tell you, it's delightful. Argentinian Malbecs really are the "everybody" reds (I also like Australian Shiraz, but Malbecs are a little more light bodied with smoother tannins). I didn't take extensive tasting notes, but what I remember of this bottle was plummy and rich with an earthy base that allowed for the minimal hints of spice to come through on the palate. The finish was quite long and as my Dad said (although he didn't know he was stating a fact), the tannins are velvety smooth. It's not a complex wine, to be sure, but for $8.99, it's a very nice bottle.

Pairing: Classic Malbec pairing is an acidic food, or one with a bit of spice (like a tomato-based dish, or a smoked meat). Because this wine is mild, it would do well with more subdued "big flavor" dishes like Teryaki Chicken or Tex-Mex food without a ton of jalapenos in it. I think this bottle would go nicely with most dishes, but it would definitely overpower a simple chicken-and-rice dish unless you're going to throw a ton of spices and garlic in there (*cough*boyfriend*cough*).Basically, just enjoy this wine. Grab a hunk of Asiago and munch on it while enjoying your air conditioning and watching Veronica Mars on ... if you want to spend your days like I do, anyway.

Wine: Agua de Piedra Reserva Malbec, Vintage 2010
Price: $8.99
Purchased: Rick's Wine & Gourmet, Alexandria VA

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Elios Mediterranean White, Vintage 2010

It's rare when a wine lives up to the often-hefty words of its reseller/vineyard website, but this is a fine example of one that does. According to the Terlato Wines International website (the reseller that partnered with old-hat Greek vineyard Boutari),
Elios wines are a blend of traditional grapes such as Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Mediterranean grapes that are reminiscent of the sun soaked beaches, deliciously fresh foods, and relaxed culture of the Mediterranean. Elios Mediterranean blends have a bright, fruit forward flavor profile that today’s consumers seek out in a memorable package that will keep them coming back for more.
Doesn't it just make you want to throw a few chilled bottles in a cooler and head off to a beach vacation (of course LIFE these days makes me want to go on vacation - not even any specific part of life, just life in general, but who's counting?)? I know this wine belongs in a beautiful crystal long-stemmed white wine glass, but I'd be just as happy drinking it out of a 'sketchy' cup stretched out in a folding chair under a lovely (read: large) umbrella. Sigh.

Verdict: This wine is the perfect blend of inexpensive price tag and quality - plus, the label is pretty, for all my I-prefer-a-pretty-label amigas reading this today. I admit that I didn't know much about Greek wines when I purchased it, so I had to do some research on the grapes out of which this wine was made (mostly Chardonnay, but also a large percentage of Moschofilero, with a bit of a  Roditis/Savatiano blend). In addition to learning a lot of about the Greek winemaking history and reputation, I learned a lot about typical Greek wines and favorite tastes, and this wine seems to be at the lower-cost end of the favorites - the opposite end of the spectrum from Retsina (the wine that gives modern Greek wines a bad rep!). While I know Whole Foods in Maryland doesn't sell wine, I have to admit that a lot of my purchases lately have been from there, because they seem to feature unique wines at reduced cost - furthering the cause of this bloggy adventure.

On first glance, the color of this wine is a pale lemon, but after pouring it into a glass and letting it warm a bit in my hands, the color became more vibrant. The aroma is exceedingly pleasant on this table wine - a mix of fairly complex citrusy/floral scents that had me sniffing for quite some time to try and identify them all (a feat which I'm quite sure I didn't accomplish). On the forefront of the nose, there was a lot of lemon, melon and even a bit of lime with an almost honeysuckle or fruit blossom blend to it. While it was difficult to pinpoint all the different smells, it was very fun to try - almost as fun as tasting! A very light-bodied wine, the citrus translated to the palate along with a peachy/apricot-y base, supporting very grassy overtones. This wine is crisp, light, with a long finish and a tiny bit of sweetness (whether it's actual or perceived I'm not sure - it's so fragrant, I think my taste buds are confused by my nose!) - simply perfect for a refreshing white on a warm summer evening, by the beach or not.

Pairing: This is a FOOD wine. It's light body lends itself to a large range - from appetizers to full chicken dinners. I am recently obsessed with this "Athenian Chicken" from the Old Town Deli in Alexandria, and I think this wine would be amazing with the lemon-herb dressing on the greek-style "sample salad" they feature as a lunch special. Truly, though, this wine goes with just about everything (except maybe barbecue, and you've got plenty of other cheap options I've reviewed before to choose from for that! Go Zin!). Love this wine, or don't, but you could definitely give it as a host/hostess gift for just about any dinner party and it would be great to open before/during/after the meal.

Wine: Elios Mediterranean White, Vintage 2010
Price: $10.99
Purchased: Whole Foods Market, Alexandria VA