Monthly Archives: August 2013

Sainte-Croix Syrah-Merlot (3 out of 5)

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This is another Trader Joe’s discovery. I do like this, but only chilled. I popped the cork on this one and had a glass when it was warm; not good. It doesn’t taste very memorable when warm. I highly recommend chilling it- I did for 2 days and then dove in, and then, and only then, was it worth digging into. I seriously told D it was not great. It wasn’t a good wine discovery day for either of us.

This is 50% Syrah, 50% Merlot. Ordinarily, a combination that would lead me into the pastures of joy. Again, something is off with this blend. Or maybe something is off with the vineyard doing the varietal. Either way, something is off. Unless you chill the bitch. Then, like Marla Maples, it works. 

It’s a wine produced in the SOF (South of France, for those not familiar with the abbreviation or the Duran Duran song PLU). This is a darkly colored wine that shows its syrah colors right there. It’s not a light wine, it’s a heady combination, and one whiff of the bouquet after you open it up indicates that. After a hour, it’s still kicking fragrant ass. Bouquet notes are plum, chocolate, and you smell a wee bit strawberry. Taste wise you’re looking at (or tasting, rather) berries, cranberry, and chocolate. A highly unusual flavor palette here. I like it chilled because you taste more of these flavors. When I drank it warm, I had nothing. Hence, the review had to wait. And then I have had to wait out the fun dental issues, so no drinking has been it. Tonight I ventured a glass, and what a pleasant difference it is chilled than it was warm on the day it was purchased. The tannins are firm and balanced, and there’s no backing off of this wine. It is potent, but it is delicious and totally worth it.

I’m pretty certain the only place you will find this doozy is at Trader Joe’s. It retails for $4.99, so it’s a steal of a deal for a wine that has some potency. The only reason I’m not giving it 5 stars is because as much as I enjoyed it, I have to be able to enjoy it warm or chilled, and I’ve only enjoyed the flavor of this wine when it was chilled. Whilst warm, it was suckus (don’t look, the word doesn’t exist). Also, it’s got some serious aftertaste sambaing down the road. I had to rinse with mouthwash to get that stank ass aftertaste to completely leave my mouth. No thank you. I will pass. Besides that, no complaints, it’s a pretty nice strength for wine that is under 5 bucks. Not easy to find it so easily and enjoy it so cheap these days (not meant to sound wrong, but it’s me, so, well, it does.) 

 

 

Layer Cake Shiraz (5 out of 5)

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Well, I haven’t blogged in a week because I haven’t had a glass of my beloved wine in a week. 😦  I am still on wine-out(wine dryout, due to dental issues and antibiotics that I am currently on), so I figured I should blog about some other wines I have enjoyed in the not-so-foregone past.

I became buddies with Layer Cake Shiraz, thanks to TGI Friday’s. I used to go there more often, and their wine choices are excellent. I have discovered many great wine there over the years.  I think I went for Layer Cake because it conjured up many images of delicious, forbidden chocolate cake. Which, for the record, goes great with wine. FYI.

Layer Cake Shiraz has a great bouquet when opened. Once it’s been out in the open air for a while, it mollifies to a heady aroma that isn’t too tart and isn’t too strong. There is a strong hint of the spice that lingers in this wine, despite being aerated. Believe me, it only adds to the appeal of the wine. Throw that spice in with flavors of plums, dark chocolate, mocha, cherries, and blackberries, and you have a sure winner. I don’t think it’s a terribly strong wine compared to other shiraz that I have had, but I can see that people who don’t play cards with the heady reds could think it has too much going on. I think it’s got a great, unique flavor that I haven’t run into in any other shiraz. And that’s why I think it’s a truly phenomenal wine. There is a slight aftertaste of anise, so if you’re not digging eau de licorice in any way, its aftertaste is not going to please you.

There’s also good balance with this wine. There should be note made of the 14.9% alcohol content, because if you just want a quick and easy glass of wine, this is probably not the one you want to start with. It will get you a little bit topsy turvy if you drink it and don’t have sufficient eats in your system to go with it. This wine doesn’t fuck around. I like that, others may not dig that fact so much.  I paired it with steak once, ribs the next time, the last two times I am pretty sure that I was enjoying a delicious burger. I think you have to pair it with the right meal for it to truly shine with the meal. If you have a pizza and drink it, you’re not going to get the full beauty of the flavor. It needs serious meat to bring out the intricate flavor pattern.  Layer Cake usually retails on the higher end of the “G Wine Spectrum” (GWS, more effective than GPS), at around $16.99 a bottle. Completely worth the price of admission.

Relax Riesling (3 out of 5)

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Relax Riesling was the bookends to my adventure with the lovely Erin and the Relax Red years ago. I decided that it’s due for a review, since I reviewed the Relax Red the other day. 

The bottle is straight up awesome. It also makes it incredibly easy to find under normal wine recon. It’s a beautiful navy blue, very eye catching. The taste is even better. Chilled, it’s straight up crisp. I spoke in the review for the other Relax wine that it was crisp, even as a red, and that this is not often the case. I actually haven’t had a lot of whites that I have tried that I could say are crisp right out of the bottle. This is one of those.

Taste wise? Smooth, and light on the fruit side. It’s apples, peach, and a little bit of citrus. There is a little dryness but nothing too crazy. What I like is despite the slight dryness, the wine does not lose any taste. I’ve had a white or two where it was so dry there was no discernible taste (the appalling Dreaming Tree White comes to mind). Not the case here. It’s quite delicious and light. Not so light you can call it champagne, but light and delicious, with light fruit tannins.

No aftertaste is present here. That is way lovely. The only downside to me was the sweetness of the wine itself. I’m not a fan of super sweet wine, but it was too sweet for my tastes. That doesn’t mean it isn’t excellent and delicious on the palette, for it is! If you like riesling that isn’t too dry and has a nice, light airiness, this is the one. 

Naked Grape Cabernet Sauvignon (2 out of 5)

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I had hoped for better news here. I liked the name of the wine while staring at the wine aisle in Target for the better part of 5 minutes. My rationale? If it’s a great grape (aka wine), someone will end up naked. The only thing that ended up naked was my disappointement in the wine. 

I let that sucker breathe for a good hour. I aerated it. It didn’t do much, unfortunately. This wine has an alright color. I taste plum, black cherries,  and some blackberries but not much of a presence overall. It’s a medium bodied wine. My primary problem isn’t the overall taste, it’s simply alright. There isn’t anything spectacular or mind-bending about this. It’s just there. There’s a bit of a zing-like aftertaste too, which is never a good sign. It’s a bit acrid. 

I paired it with an organic black bean burrito and salad greens, hoping for the best. Instead I got a mouthful of ick. The wine did not pair well with this. I have paired other reds with the Amy’s Organic Black Bean burrito, and never a problem- until now. I blame the wine. The burrito is faultless. 

The wine retails for $7.00 a bottle. It was between this and my beloved Yellow Tail Pinot Noir. I should have stuck to Old Reliable instead of this. And that was a dollar cheaper. I always want to try new wines, but this one stinks. I might let Matt Foo try it to see his thoughts. Maybe it is just me this time. 

I like the label, and it isn’t a bad stand alone wine. It just tastes strange with food, which kind of defeats the purpose, at least for me. It’s the strange vinegary aftertaste that sucks the vin out of this vintage. I would advise to try another cabernet. 

Relax Cool Red Wine (4 out of 5)

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My first experience with the Relax wines was with the Riesling, courtesy of Erin. We were watching my sister’s condo back in the days when I was allowed to do so, and after 20,000 dirty dishes were washed, we opened that bottle. We got the blue Relax for her(I think it’s called Cool Blue), and the red for me. I liked the Cool, but again, Riesling is a very sweet white wine, and I’m not a big fan of sweet anything, even wine.

We had chilled the red and white, because Erin knows how weird I am with chilling red when you’re not supposed to. I have no problem drinking warm pop, but heaven forbid that the damn red wine is the temperature it’s supposed to be. I’m odd, folks. Anyway, I let that sucker breathe for just a little bit and went in for a drink.

Taste is very similar to Beaujolais, but much lighter and a bit more fruit essence attached than your usual Beaujolais. Beaujolais brings about memories of Scorpio #1 and how that wine allowed Mrs. Weez to seduce him away from me one Thanksgiving. That’s another blog, or a chapter in the still unraveling autobiography. You get a good combination of black cherries and plum. It’s a very even balanced mix. There is no nasty aftertaste or no bitterness at all throughout the drinking of the wine. The tannins are relaxed and it’s quite a good flavor. I would compare it to the Summer Refresh wine I drank and reviewed a week or so back, but this has a little bit more kick to it. And I mean a little. It’s still an incredibly mild red. Chilled it is crisp and flavorful. I easily drank the whole bottle. No shit. These were in the olden days of lushness, my friends, so a whole bottle was no surprise to anyone who knew me when.

We paired this wine with a California Pizza Kitchen White Pizza- which for some reason, is only seasonal and incredibly hard to find. I think Erin and her mom Diane were searching all over kingdom come trying to find it, and located it at Dominicks’ (Safeway, same thing). For those who aren’t aware, that pizza is made up of Mozzarella, Ricotta, Parmesan, Pecorino Romano, Spinach, and Roasted Garlic. It is ridiculously delicious pizza. And it paired well, not only with the red that I had attached my big mouth to, but it also went with Erin’s Cool Riesling. It’s not easy to get one dish that works with both a red and white, but that one seemed to work. I have a hunch that grilled chicken with portabellos, pasta salad, and any light pasta dish with olive oil would pair well with the Relax Cool Red Wine. It is by far one of the most delicious lighter reds I’ve tried. I would recommend it highly to anyone who is just starting out with red wine drinking (Raz, that means you!) and wants to explore different reds of the wine palette.

Enjoy. It is delicious, it is easily found, and usually retails for around $10. Totally worth the price of admisssion.

Lil Koala Shiraz (3 out of 5)

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Well, the Lil Koala Shiraz wasn’t too shabby. It was incredibly strong when you uncorked it, but I let it breathe for a hour and half. More than my usual time to let a wine breathe, but I got distracted reading Firefly fan fiction (untouched by the evil Amazon Fan Fiction network, or whatever racket Bozos has going on over there), so a hour and half it was. It lost a lot of the bitter taste, but the problem here was that it also did not continue to have a taste. The tannins were shot once it was exposed to air.

Still, I plowed on and had a second glass. I was not terribly disappointed in this wine. In fact, I actually didn’t mind it too much. It tastes of plum, spice, and pepper..so it should have a spicier flavor. At first, yes. After being exposed to air like a normal red, no, it went bye bye. It did not return. However, as odd as it may sound, I think I prefer this wine after it lost some of its zippity doo dah. It retails for $4.99 a bottle. I had it with gluten free pasta and chicken meatballs. I did not regret any of the combo, it all went well together. 

Overall, this isn’t a fantastically overachiever. It’s a do-right for the night sort of wine. By that, I mean, it’s a quick pick me up bottle of wine for some accompanying of a quick easy meal. For a full meal of epic proportions, run to the hills. Run to Binny’s—and get something more profound and tasty. This is okay for now, but for the duration, you need more of a Madonna and less of a Carly Rae Jepsen. 

Burlwood Merlot (1 out of 5)

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That’s it. This is the last Aldi-carried wine I will try and review. I can’t be so fucking broke that I continue to drink this sort of vino. It’s more than the Winking Owl too! This bottle of garnet colored nonsense retails for $4.99. I’m sorry to admit it was purchased in a moment of frugality. I will suffer the consequences of sacrificing two Bolthouse Farms drinks a week to buy true, good wine instead.

Gack! Katrina’s favorite expression of all time returns in full force here. When you uncork the bastard and let it sit out, I think it smells worse! Not like a locker room full of undeodorized Robert Pattinsons, but close. It claims to be sweet; it is not. It’s sour-mash like, minus the whiskey. Which is a shame, because it would have improved everything. There is an overpowering plum taste, some darker notes like cocoa, and some undefinable ickiness that I cannot identify. I know it won’t improve my outlook even if I did identify it. There is a sickly weird taste during and after you drink the wine. I chilled it in the hope it would help somewhat. No dice. I mixed it with the Boone’s Farm Blackberry Merlot frozen cocktail. It ruined the Boone’s Farm. It will ruin whatever, avoid at all costs.