Monthly Archives: March 2015

2014 Pampa Estate Malbec (3 out of 5)

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This one started harmlessly enough. I went to get healthy food- fruits, vegetables, salmon for dinner- and I saw this bottle. I saw the barrels and had “Oh, Susanna” in my head (no idea why!). Since I seem to have weird nursery rhymes and childhood hymns in my head whenever I go grocery shopping lately (blame the diet; I am), I took it as a sign to get the wine and try it. I found it at Aldi; however, Prestige in Countryside has it as well. It’s currently priced at $4.99 retail, and it’s their “Wine of The Week”. Truth be told, I also got it for immature reasons. I looked real quick and thought the name of the wine was “PIMPA”. You know, like

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Childish… I know. Anyway, this is an Argentinian wine with 13% alcohol. I wish I had read that part of the label sooner before I began drinking it in earnest last night. I had a ton of things to do, but it all kind of went south, in lieu of great conversation and great music. So….I had a bit more of this Malbec than I had intended to, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I still managed to get my ass out of bed at 6:30am and go to the gym, although the less said about the spectacle I made of myself there, the better we’ll all be! This Malbec is dry, but it’s not so bad that you need a gallon water carafe at the ready next to you. I’ve had some Malbecs where they were so dry that I immediately stopped drinking and gave the bottle to whomever I was drinking with; not the case here. It was a pleasant departure from the normal sustenance of a Malbec. It’s an incredibly spicy little wine, however. There is a lot of spice in this Malbec, but also a good equal amount of plums, cherries and raspberries. I was a glass and half in and I was feeling it! Buzz Central, my friends. This shit will get you buzzed…beware. It was so good, though, that I kept drinking….and then started the beginnings of the headache. Headaches and I are not good friends; but if I’m having a wine-over, I prefer a headache over becoming intimate acquaintances with the porcelain god. Then I sat up for another hour and half, just thinking. 2am, here I am. So….

Overall, I did like this wine much more than I planned on. Usually, when I pick up a cheap wine like this, it ends badly. Meaning it tastes like apple cider vinegar and glue. I can happily say that wasn’t the case here. I just can’t give it 4 or 5 stars because it’s just missing something. The taste isn’t bitter, the tannins aren’t too strong, and as I said, a steal for the price, but it’s not in the list of the best ones I’ve had. I would recommend it if you are in for a cheap, quick buzz (this whole review sounds wrong!) and some nice, hearty fruit overtones, but it’s not a stellar cellar pick.

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2012 Dancing Flame Red Blend (4 out of 5)

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Ignore the bottle on the left. It’s crappy white wine, and I really don’t want any part of it for this post. (Don’t be offended, my white wine squirrels, I’m sure I’ll review a new one soon. Just not by this winery). I picked this up at Aldi the other day while ruminating on why this week was so fucking strange. It did not give me any answers, but I drank one glass out of it and it was spectacular. Therefore, unlike most of Aldi’s wine spinoffs (NOT the Winking Owl, that’s not bad at all), I am highly recommending this one. It’s on sale now for $4.99, but it’s a temporary carry, so not sure how long it will be there. You might want to pick a few up and throw them in your wine cabinet for later consumption. But- only if you like them! If not, move on. Too many wines and not nearly enough time.

This one packs a 13% alcohol level, but you wouldn’t know it, because unlike the one reviewed last week, it didn’t taste strongly of bitter aftertaste, tobacco, and vinegar. It tastes lightly and heartily of fruit. The blend itself is 70% Cabernet, 15% Carmenere (I have not tried that varietal yet, but it’s now on my list!), and 15% Syrah. I’ve had trouble with Syrah’s before, but I think when it’s with the right grapes combined, it doesn’t make much of an impact. That’s definitely the case with this. You have flavors of blackberry and cherry with some mild hints of spice and mocha. Anywhere that you have a combination of spice and mocha with those flavors, well, wow, it’s really delicious. The only problem with this wine is that it’s almost too light and doesn’t pack a wallop. Once in a while, you want a wine that delivers. I had this with pasta, and it was a good match, but I almost wished I had paired it with something different, like a hamburger because it would have carried that well. With pasta? It was almost too light and didn’t work well with Bolognese sauce. I know for next time, worry not! If you paired it with chocolate mousse for dessert, you would have a winning combination. Try and try again. Again, a great little pick-up at your local Aldi; it’s an exclusive so you won’t find it elsewhere. Enjoy!

Three Thieves Cabernet Sauvignon (3 out of 5)

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This little beaut was the last of the infamous Jewel haul of three weeks back. I think Dylan and I are going to have to hit some liquor stores before St. Patty’s Day. I crave peppermint schnapps, and unless some magical Alaskan sleigh drops them off, I am not meant to have them (Permafrost). So….in the meantime, today was truly something so I needed a glass…or two…okay, maybe three. Over many hours. Over many hours. Did I say…over many hours?

Anyway, this is a straight up Cabernet Sauvignon. No blend on this one. As much as I love red blends, it’s nice sometimes to break away from the blends, the Malbecs, and the Merlots. It’s nice to have some normal, light Cabernet- and this one is a doozy, from the label alone. You get this: “This is the tale of the master, the hustler, and the dreamer. Three rogues whose love for the vine is rivaled only by their belief that great wine is not a pleasure reserve for kings, but a pleasure reserved for life.” WOW! Any wine that states that has my undivided attention. I like pleasure, so here goes!

Not a real strong nose from this wine. Rather, it’s lightly florid- even after letting it breathe for a hour. No pissy vinegar smell and no burnt offerings as far as cassis, my enemy in the wine field. It just smells like wonderful light berries, some strawberry, and maybe a bit of spice and chocolate. But only a bit. Some wines overdo it and you’re drowning in an acidic nightmare due to one being predominant over another; not the case here. This is a full bodied wine, clocking in at 13.5% alcohol. However, I didn’t get a crazy buzz like I have with some cabs that were in the higher alcohol percentage. I also thought it very smooth and flavorful. It didn’t taste like a heartier wine, and it’s lovely light purple hue wasn’t dark enough to qualify it as a Prince closet staple, so you aren’t fooled by that, either. I would say this was a lovely wine. I had a burger and lemon pepper tuna for dinner, so this paired with that? If it were a normal cab, disaster! This one? Not so much, because it’s quality is on the mellow side. Great taste, less filling (really, I would not know I had a few glasses because the buzz is not lights out), and apparently being discontinued, which sucks, because I like this one. So if you find it in a close-out bin- buy it. It’s perfect for a light sip with a weeknight dinner, or even a light lunch.

Time to Mix Things Up! Pinnacle Peppermint Bark Vodka (5 out of 5)

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OK…you know I pride myself on keeping things interesting and people on their toes (even while I am often seated on my keister)…so I’m going to veer off every once in a while and do a review on here that is NOT my beloved wine. Besides, as I may or may not have stated in previous posts or my previous reincarnation as a pint of peppermint schnapps, I like my hard liquors and beers (now gluten-free only, regrettably) as well. A few weeks ago, my friend Dylan and I went hunting for gluten-free items that are not of the norm. And we found the best liquor stash in the burbs. Some nerd school dropout came over and began chatting at us while we were perusing the weird end display in the liquor department. I just wanted to eye flirt with the bottle of Southern Comfort Gingerbread, but this fucker kept on talking. And talking. And talking. He went on to point out everything was being discontinued and had been marked down to get it out of there. Music to our ears! Two bottles of red wine (one of which was Milestone, also known as Suckstone–see review from the other day) and a bottle of vodka later and we were outta there.

Pinnacle Peppermint Bark Vodka sounded (and was) too good to pass up. I do not like peppermint bark generally, but if you throw it to me as a vodka flavor, well, I’ll say the hell with the preconceived notion and try that motherfucker! 13.5% alcohol. Pinnacle is safe on the gluten- it’s not a vodka made with wheat. So I was home free right there. Taste? Out of sight, out of sight! Smooth and flavorful. I’m fond of drinking vodka with anything, but this one, you can do on its own. Dylan mixed it with several things, none of which I can remember, but I know he mixed it with Yoo Hoo chocolate milk and deemed it good. I just drank it straight up. It was also responsible for my new idea for a reality show- (worry not, kids, it’s a chapter in the book), and for some inspired writing. I may have had a bit too much one night a few weeks back, and it was not pretty the next day. But when is it, really? It was WELL WORTH IT. I don’t think this sucker is going to be readily available, if Nerd School Dropout is right and they are no longer marketing it. What a shame, it’s totally awesome. So- if you can find it somewhere, buy a bottle and try it- totally worth it. No idea what it would normally retail for, because it was about 70% off. No idea what I paired it with, because I was messed up.

So–keep it in mind for your holiday season this year- if they do indeed make it still. If not, find something equally fantastic and try it. I hadn’t heard of Pinnacle prior to this, but you can bet I’m going to hit a Binny’s soon and investigate them further, for I was VERY IMPRESSED.

2012 Milestone Red Blend (1 out of 5)

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This red blend was part of Dylan and my haul from Jewel two weeks ago. D and I went over to check out the Jewel on Pershing because their gluten-free section was unusual. And believe me, it is. More unusual? Their liquor section wipes the floor with other neighborhood grocery stores near me. D and I were yapping up and the nerd squad captain who was masquerading as their liquor manager came over and started waxing philosophical about the holiday liquors that he didn’t ask for but they sent. D and I had been checking out a huge display that got my attention with the Gingerbread Southern Comfort. He spotted the Pinnacle Peppermint Bark vodka and we were good naturedly checking out the different varieties when Nerd Squad came over and started protesting that the products were discounted, going, going, and gone. So D grabbed the vodka and two different bottles of wine for me- this was the first red. The other is still unopened and remains so for whenever I feel the urge to have a drink. I hope that cab doesn’t blow like this wine did. $6.99 indeed.

This red blend is comprised of 37% Syrah, 36% Zinfandel, 14% Merlot, and 10% Petite Sirah. The Syrah and Sirah’s, I am not typically fond of, so I should have known it was going to be a dark, somewhat bitter blend to drink. And it is! So if you like darker than cranberry and more bitter than cassis aftertaste, this beauty is for you. If not, well, there you have me. It smelled pretty brutal, so I let it breathe- for a hour. Not nearly long enough. I waited another hour, and then tried it. Ugh. It got worse! It tastes of vanilla, black cherries, and cassis. Yes, cassis. There’s a reason the word “Ass” is so prevalent in this ingredient. Combined with the wrong flavors, it tastes like ASS. And in this case, it tastes like that. I would not make my ex drink this. I am incredibly turned off by this. If some Romeo tried to woo me with this, I would marry him to my hogface neighbor. Not a fan, not a fan. I see why it is discontinued. Not a fan. Not a fan. I would encourage you to avoid or try another one of their wines that blends better. I had this with a delicious veggie burger and potatoes, and it was not an inspired choice. I think it would have gone better with some delicious well water. Well water, yeah. That’s the ticket. Avoid this if you can.