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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Three Wishes Chardonnay, Vintage 2010

This wine is the definition of CHEAP WINE. I picked up this bottle because it was in a Whole Foods stand with a giant sign that said "$1.99" ... who wouldn't have tried it?! The equivalent of Trader Joes' "2 Buck Chuck", this is a 750mL bottle with a very pretty label. Plus, it's my bloggy duty to test the good deals and share my findings with the blogosphero -- I'm like a wino superhero!

This wine was a very poor California chardonnay, but I didn't expect much, because let's face it, it was $1.99. It had a metal-y taste and it was almost bubbly (reminiscent of a bad Riesling), but it at least hinted at some stone fruits and a tiny bit of citrus - plus, anything is refreshing if it's cold enough. I wouldn't recommend taking this bottle as a gift to anyone, but if you want to get your buzz on with a chilly glass at your neighborhood barbecue, I'd say this is at least a tiny bit classier than Boone's Farm or Mike's Hard Lemonade.
Pairing: Since this isn't much of a wine, it's probably best with a burger and fries. Were you waiting for me to say that? Were you hoping and praying I'd finally recommend a bottle you could smuggle into McDonald's to enjoy with your McChicken or your snack wrap? Well, friends, here it is. For $1.99, it's roughly the same price as a large Diet Coke - and believe me, I know that for a fact.

Wine: Three Wishes Chardonnay, Vintage 2010
Price: $1.99
Purchased: Whole Foods Market, Alexandria VA

Beronia Crianza Rioja, Vintage 2007

This wine was a pretty nice wine, one of the last of the big Wine Source purchases, and we enjoyed it with dinner (despite the fact that we didn't exactly pair it well). Made by Matías Calleja, it is an 84% Tempranillo, 13% Garnacha and 3% Graciano blend aged in mixed-oak barrels. As an 87-point wine on the Wine Spectator scale, this wine came recommended by several different wine blogs as a good example of a classic-but-modern Rioja style wine.

A bright ruby wine, the nose was a delightful blend of red and black fruits with a hint of vanilla and some bright spice (maybe a white pepper?). On the palate, the vanilla is more vivid, no doubt a nod to the time it spent in mixed-oak barrels (vanilla from the American oak, spice from the French oak), but is predominantly fruity, a delicious blend of cherries and blackcurrants (and maybe some plums?). The tannins in this wine are a little edgy, but the texture is still fairly smooth and the finish is long with a wisp of vanilla right at the end.

Pairing: This type of Rioja (Crianza, specifically), is a great "dinner party wine" - it goes well with fish, lamb, beef, pasta ... pretty much everything but chicken (which is, of course, what we had for dinner!). Because this wine was a little heavier-bodied, it would be best enjoyed with a meatier dinner (a lighter Rioja would be better for fish or pasta, although this one still would be great with the right sauce and/or seasoning).

Wine: Beronia Crianza Rioja, Vintage 2007
Price: $12
Purchased: The Wine Source, Baltimore MD