Monthly Archives: May 2013

2011 Pure Estate Anthropology Shiraz(5 out of 5)


Image Thursday finally brought a day off. I turned off my phone- just because it’s been a long couple of weeks and I needed to be left to just be. Interestingly enough, I’m less stressed after doing so. Thursday evening found the doorbell ringing. I really thought it was the garbage dudes protesting the amount of garbage that I was getting rid of. No, it was Felicia- with wine. Silence from me apparently worries people, so she came to visit. This is a love letter to Cumulus winery, who make this excellent wine. And of course, to Felicia for bringing it by for me to try. She tried it a while ago and loved it, so figured it was time for me to try it. 

The label is bare bones- just bold faced font. The back of the label promises that it’s a rich wine full of plum, mocha, and spice. They weren’t kidding! It smells strong right off the bat, but it’s a pleasant aroma coming out of the bottle at first uncorking. It’s a smooth wine, but make sure you have a lot of water or water-based beverages nearby to wet your whistle after you’re done having some of this wine. It is a very, very dry wine. It’s also got amazing flavor and it’s incredibly- what was the word? Bombastic. No, wait, that was the Rolling Stones version of “Like a Rolling Stone” that was playing when I tried a glass. It’s incredibly hearty and heady and not at all a disappointment. I have said often that I am always seeking drier, heartier fare with the vino. This is a great example. Shiraz is a favorite I indulge in every once in a while. My other favorite shiraz is Jacob’s Creek. I’m sure that Kendall Jackson’s probably would make me take off my bra in the road, but I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t comment on it. This is no doubt my favorite shiraz so far. 

It really does have a good flavor overall, but you really don’t taste a lot of the mocha overtones- it’s definitely spicy and has a lot of plum flavor though. One glass was enough to make me completely goofy, so it passed the Buzz Test. There’s no aftertaste. I had a baked potato, and it paired alright- have a feeling if I had some spaghetti Milanese it would have been a different story. Had some bellavitano cheese with it, and that was fantastic. But what paired even better with that one glass? Two pieces of Trader Joe’s dark chocolate/caramel/sea salt bar. THAT was pure orgasmic joy. So pair it with fantastic chocolate, if the mood strikes(and oh boy, it does). 

Definitely something I will recommend to friends who are craving a spicier red. 


2010 Colby Red- Red Wine Blend(4 out of 5)


Image Today was the first day in a week that I felt like having a glass or two of wine. I told Felicia I finally felt up to having some vino again(a nasty cold got in the way of that for the past week). When returning from the ever exciting bank run, we stopped in Walgreen’s and we perused the bottles of vino as usual. I like Walgreen’s simply because it’s NOT a wine merchant, nor is it a big box liquor store(ala Binny’s). I have discovered some really good wine at Walgreen’s that I haven’t seen many other places(not just the exclusive-to-Walgreens ones, either). Today was no exception.

I think the thing that attracted Felicia’s attention to this bottle was the label- it looks a heck of a lot like the Apothic Red label. A lot. I had never heard of Colby Red either, so I am always ready to try a new wine. And it’s a blend- my favorite thing to try in the wine arena. I read the label, and had to do some Googling to get the story. Because this wine has a story behind it. And quite an inspiring one, at that. 

Colby Rex Groom was 9 years old when he underwent back-to-back open heart surgeries. He told his father his desire to help others with heart disease research and funds, and it led Daryl, his winemaker father, to decide to create a blend devoted entirely to raising money for heart research. Colby helped his father with this, and every bottle sold supports charities that promote heart health and research. That’s the Groom family you see in the picture above, for the record. What a splendid idea. Colby is a brave young man, and kudos to him and his father for taking several thunderclouds and finding silver linings in them. I wholeheartedly support this wine and it’s mission, and I will recommend it to many. I encourage you to try it, and if you like it(as I did), recommend it to as many as possible. 

When you first open the bottle, you are greeted with a lovely bouquet. It smells like a heady merlot- but let me tell you, the longer it breathes, the better the fragrance of the wine. It didn’t change the overall taste being awesome, but it certainly did smell a lot more fragrant after a hour and 20 minutes of letting it breathe. 

The wine itself is a nice blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfadel, Shiraz, Merlot, and Petite Syrah. In other words, heaven in a glass. It’s got great flavor without any long-term aftertaste. You can swirl and spit to your heart’s desire, the consistency of the wine doesn’t  change or decrease at all. If anything, the fact that one glass was open to air for over a hour and it tasted the same as when I poured it, is great. It means evenness to the wine, and it doesn’t get stale. Or taste like it belongs on salt and vinegar chips. i like a wine that stays consistent all the way through. I also like a wine that goes down smooth, and doesn’t have a super flashy, over-the-top taste to it. This didn’t have a lot of spice to it, nor kick. It was just a pleasant, even-keeled wine. I truly love blends like that. Not too much pop and no  show. There’s pop, there’s show, and there’s lights, cameras, action. This wine was perfect for my gluten-free Mexican casserole dinner. It blended perfectly with all of the corn, chiles, enchilada sauce, and black beans. I am in heaven tonight. I think Mexican food might be one of the best matches for this wine. For some reason, I think if I had chocolate mousse nearby, that would also be a great match. 

Pay no mind, find the bottle, buy the wine. It’s not only delicious, it’s for a good cause. Colby will love you for it, and so will your heart. 


2011 Kendall Jackson Sauvignon Blanc(4.5)


Image Since I had such a great experience with the Kendall Jackson Summation weeks back, it was time to give a white wine from the vineyard a shot. The 2011 Sauvignon Blanc got the call, and it answered with a quiet pop, shimmy, and fizz-a-la-la. If you wonder what that actually means, I have no idea. 

When you pop the cork and get your first inhale of the bottle, there’s little or no aroma. In fact, I smelled the bottle several times. There is no discernible fragrance. I’m not enough of a white wine drinker long term, maybe this is not unusual, but for me, that was unusual. 

The wine itself is a refreshing blend of pear, lime, and with some melon flavors. I tasted something else there; other wine sites say it’s honeysuckle and fig. If so, I need to have a bottle of this in my playpen more often. Good, good, mix. I could mostly taste the pear and lime flavors. The other flavors are very understated. No acidity, no aftertaste, no pomp and circumstance. I had this with a Jimmy John’s unwich, and it was perfect. It would probably also pair well with lemon pepper fish. It worked incredibly well with the apple smoked gruyere also. This wine has a breathy lightness to it. It makes it perfect to be the first entry into the Veranda Wine Circle(more on that the next blog). 

Overall, I have to say I love this wine like a Firefly marathon. It’s good to just sit, sip, and enjoy in a relaxed environment. It hits you late, like a bus of Cambodian fugitives. Not overpowering in taste, certainly not in aroma, but eventually you get a buzz. And fanciful dreams of vanilla cupcakes. At least in my case. My only complaint is that the wine is very quiet, meaning it doesn’t jump out and immediately assert itself. It’s quiet, almost too quiet. But there’s the last kick. After several glasses, I really did finally feel the effects of the 13.5% alcohol. I highly recommend this for a light summer wine!

Winking Owl Shiraz (5 out of 5)


Image This is the last review in the Winking Owl wine series. I did save the best for last. I am not reviewing the chardonnay, as I cannot drink it. Literally. Any chardonnay I have consumed in my lifetime(and there have been many attempts) makes me violently ill, so I’m not going here, there, or anywhere with the Winking Owl blend- or any other. Shiraz is a wine I’m still getting used to. I honestly can’t remember who I first drank shiraz with, but something tells me it was Dylan or Nicole. It’s a wine I enjoy, though nowhere near as much as my secret illegitimate lovechild, sangiovese. However, I do enjoy it quite a bit, and this one is one of the better ones I’ve had. 

Winking Owl has a really intensely rich flavor to it. I mean, it’s not listless in finish like it’s sibling cabernet, nor it is overpowering like the mighty merlot, but it holds its own in the wine echelon. It has a huge, robust flavor of pomegranate and black raspberries. There is the little bit of vanilla and oak, but in this wine, it adds fruitiness without all the sugar. When you pop the cork, you get a good whiff of a fruit basket. The wine itself is smooth and aromatic. It has an impressive finish(no matter how many times I write that, it still sounds so, so wrong). I paired this with some small steaks, and at different points, meatloaf. It went well with both. I would also recommend it with Special Dark candy bars. Oddly enough, gobbling one of those suckers at midnight and having the wine really worked too. So- meats and dark chocolate pair well with this wine. 

Definitely the best of the lot. I highly recommend this!

Winking Owl Cabernet Sauvignon(-1 out of 5)


ImageContinuing in our series of Winking Owl reviews, next in the line of fire is the cabernet sauvignon. I would almost rather wash my fine china in this stuff than to drink it. Unfortunately, the Aldi near me likes to carry this far more than the merlot and shiraz. Either that or it sucks so bad that it’s all that’s left by the time I get there. Either way, gack, as Katrina would say.

The label claims medium to full bodied. It’s weak- lame sauce bodied is what it is. It just does not pack a punch, a wallop, or a hanging chad. Our usual Aldi red wine blend is here in attendance- black cherry, blackberry, and toasted oak. Or imagine a rotten coconut in the middle of a basket of wilting, rotting berries with the worms crawling out. Put it in a bottle and that’s what this is. What taste there is isn’t impressive. 

The label- that sneaky owl looks like he’s up to no good. Maybe because he knows what’s in the bottle you’re about to purchase. I would say if you’re brave enough to try this, try it with burgers or meat dishes(meatloaf, etc). If you’re not, I’m sure it makes a fine chemcial base to wash your fine china with(as stated earlier). 


Winking Owl Merlot(4 out of 5)


Image This week I’m going to review a whole bunch of wines from one label. This idea comes to the blog courtesy of Dylan. Thank you, Dylan, for giving me new ideas on how to keep some blogs churning out while I figure out what wines to try next. 

Winking Owl is a brand that is carried exclusively at Aldi. They have a few wines, to my knowledge- merlot, cabernet, shiraz, chardonnay. If there are others, they are not carried at my local Aldi. So wine followers- if there ARE indeed others, let me know, please, so I can have them tracked down.

The Winking Owl Merlot is a sly little owl. Check out the label. I personally like the label way too much. He looks like a shyster owl- up to no good. So naturally, you believe the wine inside that bottle carrying that label will be good stuff. Considering it retails for $2.69(less than Tres buck chuck, friends), you aren’t expecting a first class wine. It’s not too shabby for $2.69. Of all of them, I think the merlot is my favorite of all of the ones that are currently available.

This merlot is headier, like most merlots, fare and you are treated to a nice tasting mix of black cherry, blueberries, and blackberries. There’s a hint of spice, but not what you would normally get in a higher price merlot. It’s not real oaky, and has a smooth flow to it. No aftertaste that I noticed. I have had this wine with numerous dishes throughout the years. It worked best with burgers and pasta. How is it compared to our buddy low-cost wines? Well, I liked it more than Tres Buck Chuck Merlot, I loved it more than Quail Oak, and it’s better than the Three Wishes Merlot. Of the Winking Owls I’ve had, I enjoyed this one the best. 

2010 Montes Classic Series Cabernet Sauvignon(5 out of 5)


ImageThis win- like Friday- was divine. Felicia and I were looking for sparkling water(I know, a likely excuse!) and of course ended up in the wine aisle. She liked this label because it has what she perceives to be a weeping angel, which is of course, a Dr. Who reference. I said it reminded me of the video for U2’s Faraway, So Close(one of my favorite U2 songs of all time). That was enough to convince us that this was the wine I was going to try and review.

This is a Chilean wine- Lillian B. will be proud that I am continuing to drink Chilean wine like she told me to! I hadn’t heard of Montes before, but I will hunt some more down after this. This wine is SUBLIME. And by that, not the 90’s band(ugh). When you uncork and get your first smell, you can almost smell the blackberries in the garden, it’s that much of a knockout aroma right off the bat. There are notes of chocolate, vanilla, and a little bit of coffee also- but the ripe fruits take the stage here and we should all bow in appreciation. I let it breathe for a hour, then tried a glass. I decided to play gluten-and-wine detective(next book title right there) and mix the wine with various things. First up, with the gluten free cheese pizza. Not so shabby. It really didn’t take off until I had a glass with the rosemary and olive oil asiago cheese—PAIR THIS with cheese! But the all time winner was the flourless chocolate cake and dark chocolate gelato. THAT really paired well. But saying that lends people to think that I’m saying it’s a dessert wine..Not at all! It’s a wonderful wine. The taste is superb. There’s no aftertaste, no strong finish, it’s smooth all the way from start to finish. I even drank it warm, and I don’t EVER drink red wine warm. EVER. This one, I did. And I’m glad I did!

Overall, outstanding wine. I was worried it was going to mess my shit up with a 14% alcohol, but no dice. I had two glasses and I was fine. It has phenomenal taste, but if you’re looking for a “lights out” wine, this isn’t it. This is a splendid wine in every other fashion! I highly recommend it with anything, but espicially cheese and flourless chocolate cake.