Monday, February 20, 2012

The Fadeaway and Buena Vista Pinot Noir

Sub-$10 Pinot is an anachronism of sorts, and yet you still find them. Occasionally, they're good. Most of the time they're terrible. The Fadeaway, $8.99 at Trader Joe's right now, should definitely fade away. I just wasn't feeling it, and I don't think it delivers as much as some other $9 wines (KS Malbec for instance). The Buena Vista, which is $9.99 at Trader Joe's is a great deal. Pinot funk, cherries, good balance, some vanilla and a screw cap. Definitely get the Buena Vista, but pass on the fadeaway. Why is it that the wines with gimmicky labels--no matter where they come from or how good they seem like they might be--always suck? It's almost like the gimmicky label is a curse that makes the wine not very good. The Buena Vista isn't the least bit gimmicky and it's pretty great for $9.99. The same is true of most of the Castle Rock Pinots at similar price points, which are generally pretty great values. It's almost like the gimmicky label development fee means that Trader Joe's can't spend as much money on the wine that goes inside...

Graffigna Wines

I received both of these wines as samples. Both these wines are in the $10-20 range. I think of the two, the Pinot Grigio is definitely more to my tastes. Floral, apples, honey, something verging on more tropical, crisp, and a minerally finish. Pretty good, if maybe a bit innocuous. The malbec is okay--lots of blackberry, pepper, and vanillin. What turned me off about it was the somewhat creamy mouthfeel. I don't know, just not totally nuts about it. It was okay.  

As far as Malbec goes,  I much prefer the Kirkland Signature (Costco's private label) Malbec to the Graffigna. This is a smoking deal at $8. Malbec must be a hot category, because Costco certainly has several from either Argentina or Chile. I don't think it's that surprising given wines like this one. At $8, you're going to be hard-pressed to find something from somewhere else that delivers as much bang for the buck. Deep, dark blueberry and blackberry flavors that are rich and balanced, this is a great buy for $8. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Kitchen Sink

It's been a crazy-ass couple of months, and I'm going to admit to neglecting posting things. Had a lot of great wines from unexpected places, and had a lot of good meals. In no particular order:

Sarah used to work at a summer camp called Stella of course we had to try this. It's the second wine of Northstar Winery, which mainly makes Merlot. This was 16$ at Costco. Obviously a little round and simple, but well made.  

10$ at Trader Joes. This wine is a total pass. Sometimes I don't get their wine selection. I mean really, if I wanted a super tannic and also super simple red wine, why didn't I just pick up one of the Italian wines that was 5$ instead of this? Just crap really. 

Our neighbor brought this over. No idea of price. Actually, I'm lying. You can buy this from the winery for 45$. Pretty good. Fruit forward, some spice notes. Definitely a new style of Pinot. 

Our neighbor also brought this wine over too. Tasted it sort of blind. You can buy this for around $55-$60. Pretty obviously new world Syrah. Lots of tar, and lots of dark, roasty fruit. This was a huge wine, although strangely balanced even at 15.6% alcohol. I don't know what you'd eat with this other than a huge hunk of meat, but this was surprisingly suave despite its' big bones.

Picked this up at TJ's for $9. Rustic. Okay value.  
Our neighbor Claude brought this over when we cooked them dinner (duck breasts with a root vegetable medley). Definitely the wine of the night--all of the classic Barolo stuff--cherries, roses, cinnamon, some leather. Delicious and so poised. 
Sarah and I's good friend Lance popped this in celebration of the fact that we are old...AKA 30. Never had Krug before and it was delicious. Would I plop down what this cost to try it again? No, but it had a delicious, ridiculously lemon finish along with notes of ginger and orange. Definitely spent a good amount of time in oak; very roasty at the beginning. 
My parents wanted to get me something that was 30 years old for my birthday and this is what they came up with. I got to drink it with my brother, Sarah, parents, and sister in law. Really phenomenal and well-balanced. Definitely better than the 30 Sandeman's I got as a sample. Oranges, raisins, berry notes, chocolate, and I could go on for a while. Impeccably balanced. Really. It needs this many superlatives. 
Bought this for that duck (cured it with orange and a little vinegar prior to pan roasting and I thought Riesling would be good). Well made, with pure pear notes. Worth the 16$. Lightly sweet, but you can't really tell. 

 Reliable and cheap. Had this with my parents and Sarah. Lots of pomegranate. 
 Also for duck. Not as good as the 05--but was ready to drink right now as opposed to later.  
Received this wine as a sample. Berries and a lot of oak-based notes. I suppose not that bad for the price, but not exactly suave either.  
Our neighbor gave this to us for Christmas. Like drinking maple syrup. That's not a joke. Tons of raisiny flavors too. Extremely dense and viscous. Not sure exactly what I thought, but I did manage to finish the half-bottle over the course of a few days. Imported by Jorge Ordonez. 
I don't really remember this wine, other than it was 7$! Ha. It must not be particularly memorable.