Monthly Archives: March 2013

Old Reliable Sunday—- Blackstone Merlot


Image Since Sunday is a day of rest, I can think of no better idea for this blog than to showcase a wine that I can always return to, like an old lover, minus the emotional recriminations and weeping platitudes. This will be a weekly feature, so you now know what day to avoid reading the blog! On with this week’s wine.

I discovered Blackstone Merlot in 2009. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Charles Dickens would never have said that about 2009, nor Blackstone Merlot. Blackstone Merlot actually sounds like some English parish, doesn’t it?. If those stuffy chaplains were drinking this wine, there would be hijinks afoot at the Circle K! I don’t recall who indoctrinated me, or if it was myself, to be honest. I just remember it was phenomenal.

Blackberry Merlot has a rich, hearty flavor. There are flavors of berry, cherry, and some clove and oak thrown in for good measure. It packs a punch, but not overpowering. Some wines I’ve had the misfortune of tasting are overly oaky, but that is not the case with Blackstone. It has a deep, flavorful taste and is definitely a great match for steak, pot roast, and beef dishes of any kind. Try it with some chocolate fondue and voila!-match made in heaven. I would NOT recommend it for fish, pasta, etc. I think the robust flavors are brought out more easily with heavier meat dishes than with lighter fare.

I will always go back to Blackstone. D bought me a bottle weeks back and I was reminded of how fabulous it is- I think I had it with an Italian Beef sandwich, and it was perfect. I haven’t tried too many other Blackstone varietals, not to say I won’t investigate further, as I really love the merlot. It always has the added bonus of getting you a little raucous, meaning one glass is usually enough to produce some weird chapters for my book, two glasses guarantee a rousing version of “I’d Do Anything For Love(But I won’t Do That) performed for the elderly neighbors, and a bottle- well, let’s just say it’s a great wine! 

Note: Stay away from the 2010 vintage. It does NOT taste of anything but watery vinegar. And take it from me, watery vinegar isn’t delicious. 


2009 Les Portes de Bordeaux(2 out of 5)



Nancy gifted me with this bottle last Sunday. I had an abysmal day, and Nancy told me she had a wine she had purchased at Whole Foods and it was too strong. She had thought it a merlot, which is usually my second born child. When I saw the bottle, I thought “Ooh, A Bordeaux”. Well, unfortunately, that happy sentiment of longing was not around for long.

Among the tasting notes are mentions of grapefruit, cherries, and oak. Right there I should have known I was in for it. I do NOT like wines with grapefruit. I would have expected a white wine if there was grapefruit involved, not a red. So that’s different. I didn’t much taste grapefruit, however, so I can’t take points off there. I didn’t taste cherries at all- more like boysenberry and spoilt ones at that. It was a medium-bodied wine, so oaky it really wasn’t. There wasn’t a great finish and there is a definite aftertaste. I told Dylan the wine could clean all the windows in my house(vinegar and water, the old reliable cleaning solution for everything, et al), that’s how much of an aftertaste it has. I like the label, I like the fact that I had it open for 3 days and it didn’t absolutely disintegrate into simple crap. I used my venturi with this wine, and it helped. But not enough. I let that bottle breathe for almost two hours, and it did nothing to improve the taste.At $4.99 a bottle, it’s not a bad price for a bottle of wine, but you can find better for that price than this Bordeaux. I did notice, however, that as awful as it was day one(that Sunday was awful in general, so no surprise in that the wine wasn’t cooperative), that several days later when I returned to it, it was a little better tasting after it had settled. That’s usually not what happens with red wine, so I gave it a star for improving after the fact. Overall, not horrible, not great, just an indifferent 2 star wine. 

Yellow Tail Big Bold Red(4 out of 5)


images (8)Red wine is my mistress. She keeps me warm on those long, cold nights. She takes the tension out of my bones. She makes me think way too much sometimes, not nearly enough other times. She keeps me company once a week, during Castle. In fact, that’s usually the only tradition I have every week- a glass of wine during Castle. Life is a rough draft most of the time for me these days, and I can count on that one hour of peace and quiet on Monday night(it sometimes does end up being two glasses, due to my ineptness. One Nathan Fillion scene that gets me so excited I end up accidentally kicking over a glass of hearty red wine, all over my beige carpet. Last Monday. True story. The rug—anyone have a good remedy for wine stains in a light carpet? Do tell)?

Sorry, there will be many distractions from the true purpose of the post. If you know me, you aren’t surprised. If you don’t know me, surprise! Get used to it. I’m 40 and not turning back the hands of time and changing now.

Anyway- let me tell you a little of my history with Yellow Tail. I discovered them through my sister in my virgin year of wine discovery- the evil, dark days of 2002. Evil and dark because my falling down the rabbit hole of wine came at the break of round one of three rounds with my Scorpio ex. But again- a bright star in every dark Pluto-dominated cloud. This was my bright star, I became friends with wine. Drinking loads of it. Different ones. The vodka and whiskey disappeared for good. Red wine hurt my stomach less. It also paired better with most of the food I was eating at that point(White Castles and red wine, still my favorite. Only I can’t eat White Castle anymore, sadly. Damn gluten!). It also made me feel French(oui, oui, wee, wee, my ass), minus the filth and the unpleasantries tied to the French. It made me feel like there was a whole continent of discovery lying before me waiting to be unearthed. Reds, whites, roses, zins. What region? What vintage? Indeed. 11 years later and I’m STILL learning about wine. I call myself a novice because I am, meaning I don’t read much about the history of the wine, making of, label, etc. I do not, shamefully, keep a wine journal.(although this sort of is an interactive wine journal, though, isn’t it? Ha ha!). Yellow Tail was the cheapest bottle of wine that the 7-11 in Willow Springs carried. Also the only one that the 7-11 in Willowbrook carried. My sister tried various ones and discarded them almost immediately. Just not her type of wine(not enough joie de vivre?). I loved it- maybe it was the kangaroo. It made me think of Australia, INXS, and koalas. Bright label made sure it got your notice. I quickly discovered that Yellow Tail was a mixed bottle- the Cabernet was not to my liking, nor was the Merlot. the Shiraz/Grenache blend gave me one of the worst wine headaches of my life(two glasses, no kidding). The Riesling was way too sweet, even for Riesling. I was ready to give up- until my sister saw the pinot noir one night when we were stocking up on booze before American Idol(as I said, in the perils of heartbreak, I did not exhibit the best judge of entertainment to forget my misery). We went back and popped that sucker- and surprise! Finally- a smash hit. I still love the pinot noir from Yellow Tail. It just gets harder and harder to find, which makes me more and more determined to stockpile it in the bombshelter camoflauging as a sinkhole behind my shed. I had a real love/hate relationship with Yellow Tail- until recently a couple of new arrivals got my attention.

The Big Bold Red was the most recent addition to the Yellow Tail line- they have also released a Sweet Red along with this one. I’m not a sweet wine lover, so that one may have to wait, say maybe Easter next would likely go well with ham. We will see. The label is gold and silver and sparkles in the light- right there they had me. Don’t judge the book by its cover, don’t judge the wine by it’s label. Shoofly, that’s what this wino goes by! Of course it was on sale, that helped nudge me to try it. I think the Sweet Red was around a while, actually. They do have a new Pink Moscato and a Sweet White Roo blend that were released the same time as this Big Bold Red. I like Moscato, will have to give that one a shake. Not sure about the Sweet White Roo, it will depend on what whites are part of the overall blend. If Lady Chardonnay is anywhere near that wine shed, count me out(chardonnay makes me violently ill). Anyway, onto the review.

At first smell, it smells like a lighter pinot noir. I’m sure there’s pinot in there somewhere, but I honestly haven’t been able to peg what the blend is for this Big Bold Red. I love a mystery, but for heaven’s sake, if anyone has a clue, please, fill me in. It has a mellow taste to it. It has a smattering of strawberries and raspberries, and some spice. I don’t detect much more than that, but I’m sure an experienced wine drinker would be able to nail it down. Usually blends have some cocoa overtones to it, not here. I think it helps the wine. It has a smooth finish, and no vinegary aftertaste. I had a vinegary red not long ago and it was not a fun finishing off of my FIRST glass. Yes, I will be reviewing that beast eventually. If nothing else, you might be able to use that wine as a housecleaning agent(vinegar and water, get it?). This wine was really, really good. I have had it several times since. No bad aftereffects. My only complaint with this blend is that it didn’t mess me up. I had a slight buzz, but nothing of consequence. Unfortunately. If I was sprouting X-rated limericks to bald men at Aldi after two glasses, then I would have to give it a 5. I give it a 4. Not bad, though, for a blend from Yellow Tail, whom I had basically written off except for the pinot noir. They have redeemed themselves with Big Bold Red. Try it.

Introduction- You Poor Winos, I apologize beforehand!


Hello, fellow wine lovers and novice winos(I include myself in that category, you should know). I welcome you to my second venture into the blogospehe(that word is way too close to Blagojevich for my liking). Everytime I head into the annals of a new wine tunnel, I will share my thoughts, unintentionally insane and otherwise, with you. There may not be a big turnout as far as output here goes, because I’m not a big drinker these days, and when I do hit a wine that has endured itself to me, I have a habit of sticking with that wine for awhile until the spirit brings me new wine or someone throws a bottle of wine my way. 

I should warn you. If I have a wine and it sucks, I will tell you it sucks. No sugar-coating wine blog here, folks. If you want that, go over to those wine snobs at Zagat’s and read their blogs. If I find a cheap(hello Aldi’s Winking Owl, I’m throwing a kiss and wink to you, sexy fellow) wine, I’m going to review it. If I find an expensive wine(usually brought to me by a Mr. Dylan Marx), then I’m going to review it. Several of my fellow wine-loving friends will occasionally do guest reviews. There are no guidelines and no princelines for the wines you will see here on this blog. I will gladly take criticism, kudos, and better yet, suggestions to new wines to try! I may mix it up and do some recipes here and there, but I have to do some more research in that arena. Meaning- I haven’t had the time nor resources to go impromptu gourmand in a long, long, long time. That doesn’t mean pigs won’t fly or the Cubs won’t win a World Series, but you never know! The credit for the name of the blog goes to Dylan, for he gave me nothing more than a list of 10 names and this one stuck. 

I welcome any ideas for the blog. I welcome guest posters, as long as you don’t send me an X-rated wine review or a link to some stupid Harlem Shake video. Then i just might kick your ass. In the meantime, welcome to the blog!