Wine Friends and Mediocrity

Had to go to the package store to pick up a bottle of wine for an Extracurricular event The Firm was hosting that night. [1] My knowledgeable Wine Friend[2] was sadly not in that day. I would recommend finding a Wine Friend you can truly rely on. As you know, the bottle of wine you drink sometimes makes the difference between an amazing experience and a forgettable one. A substitute Wine Friend was in the store and I asked him about my selection. He honestly told me he hadn’t had this one before, but I really liked the label, IMG_5289so I went for it.[3]

After drinking this bottle I decided that I need to step up my game if I’m going to continue blogging about wines. My $7-$15 selections, while sometimes yielding a gem, are often very uninteresting. This was fine for when I just came home from The Firm needing a glass with dinner, but now that I’m actually trying to taste and experience the wines it just doesn’t work.[4]

So on to the hopefully last mediocre wine review![5]

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To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:             WineEsquire
Date:               March 27, 2015
Wine:              Souverain Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 Review
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Picked up my glass, swirled a bit and got some fruity notes on the nose. Some oak too.[6] Took a taste and got a mouthful of nice wine, but no real complex flavors. IMG_5255Not a typical full bodied cab, more medium bodied without much texture. Husband and Friend also did not get much flavor out of this wine, although Husband said he tasted some orange peel on the finish. I didn’t get that. It was very drinkable and made the parmesan cheese pop very nicely in my mouth. We were doing a bit of pre-gaming for a cocktail pairing dinner we were heading too, so we didn’t get involved in any foods beyond the cheese.[7] Overall, a very nice wine if you’re looking for a good deal[8] and something to drink, but this is certainly not going to make any sommeliers take a second sip.

Wine Dossier
This was a 2012 Cabernet from North Coast, California.[9] This was made by Souverain, a winery that’s been producing since 1944. The bottle tells me the wine is “elegantly layered” with blackberry, cherry and vanilla and baking spices. Didn’t get any of those. I actually can’t believe this is the first cabernet I’ve reviewed on the blog. Cabernet is my go-to top choice right now.[10] It is one of the most widely grown grapes in the world, appearing in almost every wine growing region’s repertoire.[11]

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Remember Extracurriculars?
[2] Wine Friend. Defined as the unassuming knower of all things wine, always able to pick a fantastic bottle while staying in the agreed upon price range.
[3] I also swear I remember reading in Wine Spectator that the 2012 California Cabernet crop was outstanding and that you really couldn’t go wrong with a bottle, no matter who the producer. My memory was almost right, the article actually said “[a]s for final quality in the bottle—it’s too early to know.”
[4] I know my Alleged Blog Readers can only read so many blog posts that say, not much flavor, not complex. Mea culpa. Mea culpa.
[5] Unfortunately, I’m sure I will continue to encounter mediocre wines in the future. The price of wine does not dictate quality; it’s all about finding the right bottle. In the future I hope to improve my skills at seeking out exceptional gems!
[6] Husband recently sent over an image of The Wine Wheel to help me identify flavors. I tried to use it to get more out of this wine but it didn’t work. I did just purchase the official Wine Aroma Wheel to have with me for future tastings. I’ll let you know how I like it.IMG_5288
[7] We had a wine cocktail at this dinner which was really superb. Apple Honey Onyx Moonshine paired with Hahn’s 2012 SLH Pinor Noir, a homemade cinnamon raspberry shrub and pressed lemon. I’ve never had a wine cocktail before, but this was an experience I would certainly like to have again!
[8] I paid $14.99.
[9] North Coast is apparently a region, not a town, on the northern coast of California. Go figure.
[10] It used to be Pinot Noir, but I’ve evolved into Cabs for the past year or so.
[11] The Wikipedia article on this is actually fascinating; lots of neat tidbits. The most widely recognized flavor is the herbaceous or green bell pepper. “The word ‘Sauvignon’ is believed to be derived from the French sauvage meaning ‘wild’”; “[T]he grape is a relatively new variety, the product of a chance crossing between Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon blanc during the 17th century in southwestern France.” “In Bordeaux, the maceration period was traditionally three weeks, which gave the winemaking staff enough time to close down the estate after harvest to take a hunting holiday.” “The decision to first start blending Cabernet Sauvignon was partly derived from financial necessity.”

To Be Honest…The Lodi Zin Was Ok

There are a few things I need to be honest about tonight[1]. To be honest, I was really hungry when I got home and didn’t do much smelling before I started drinking this wine. I satisfied my hunger, went for a brisk walk and came back to really explore the wine.

I took this wine from the ClubW box. IMG_5106To be honest, I wasn’t going to review any more of these bottles because the first one really was a dud. I decided I would use these wines as “throwaway wines”, you know, when you have to go to someone’s house that doesn’t like or appreciate wine, or if you’ve already served four bottles to all the lawyers you had over for dinner and they’re all tanked so they won’t really taste the fifth bottle you open. Well, I sent Husband over to Neighbor’s hot tub last night with the 2013 La Bodega Cabernet Sauvignon. He said it was great, I would have loved it. Full-bodied, full of flavor, a really enjoyable wine. I was very jealous I didn’t get to taste any,[2] and I decided to give the ClubW thing another shot.

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To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:             WineEsquire
Date:               March 23, 2015
Wine:              Club W The Independent Zinfandel 2013
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I get notes of hay[3] and cherry on the nose. I sip and get lots more cherry andIMG_5205 some oakiness. There’s a slight mustiness but it’s a pleasant smell. I would say this is medium-bodied and bright with a dry finish.[4] Went well with my meal[5], and continued to perform after I was done[6]. I let it sit for about 10 minutes after popping the cork, and it continued to breathe for at least two hours. It also paired well with my bowl full of Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Toffee Bar Crunch.[7] To be honest, I’ve had California zinfandels that have really knocked my socks off, but this was not one of them. While it was a very drinkable wine, there were no fireworks.

Wine Dossier
This was a 2013 Zinfandel from Lodi, California. The grape is grown throughout the U.S., widely in California, and in Italy it’s known as Primitivo. No winery appears on the bottle; instead it reads “Winemaker Chris Condos”. I’m assuming this means that Mr. Condos is a winemaker with no vineyard of his own (at least not yet). Info about him shows up here and at the Club W site, which confirms my theory. The ClubW tasting card tells me that this wine has “tastes of blackberry, raspberry and cherry[8]” and smells like “raspberry, rhubarb, dates, apple chutney and brown sugar.” If you’re in the ClubW world, I would recommend trying the 2013 La Bodega Cabernet Sauvignon.[9] I would not search IMG_5209this wine out to purchase again, but this guy thought it was great. So give it a try, you never know!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Lawyers should always be honest.
[2] I’m going to start calling this feeling “winenvy”. Now that I’m a wine blogger and wine instagrammer, I get this feeling on an almost hourly basis. Where is everyone getting these amazing vintage wines?!?
[3] At the same time I said “hay” Husband said “barn floor”. It wasn’t an unpleasant smell, so I’m sticking with “hay”.
[4]So that means there’s some tannins in here.
[5] My leftover calzone was even more delicious on night two.
[6] Read: I kept drinking after dinner.
[7] I was hungry tonight, what can I say?
[8] Notes of cherry for the win.
[9] The one Husband had last night with Neighbor.

Sunday Funday and another Barbera

Sometimes doing absolutely nIMG_5183othing is the best way to spend a Sunday. After seven straight nights of events[1], I’m excited to stay home this evening and totally veg. I spent the day working on the blog, doing some half-a$$ed cleaning and even made a trip to the grocery store.[2] A homemade calzone is now in the oven.[3]_________________________________________
To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:              WineEsquire
Date:               March 22, 2015
Wine:              Fiore Barbera D’Asti 2012 Review
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Definitely fruit on the nose. With the first sip I get notes of fruit and flowers, maybe some jam.[4] It has a smooth, dry finish with an almost metallic after taste. It’s not exactly “full bodied” but it’s not light and airy either.[5] When paired with the soppressata and some fresh mozzarella the flavor is enhanced. FullSizeRenderI’m definitely not turning this into a food blog, but with the calzone[6], it really opens up. This is very enjoyable and perfect for pairing with rich Italian foods. I’m not saying this is the best wine I’ve ever had, but at $14.99, I’d buy this again. Great for a night when you’re heading home from the Firm and you have some decent leftovers waiting for you, or better yet, someone making dinner for you.

Wine Dossier
This was a 2012 Barbera. Since we talked about Barbera’s already, and I literally cannot find this winemaker online, I want to focus on the DOCG seal around the bottle neck. IMG_5195DOCG is part of an Italian classification system which informs the consumer as to the geographic source and quality of the labeled wine. The system was put into place in 1963 by a group of Italian winemakers with the goal of raising standards and producing higher quality wines.

DOCG literally stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (controlled designation of origin guaranteed). This is the highest and strictest of the four levels of classification. The others are VdT, which stands for Vino da Tavola, or Table Wine[7]; DO, Denominazione di Origine (designation of origin), and DOC, Denominazione di Origine Controllata (controlled designation of origin). To earn a DOCG seal, the wine has to pass a government taste test before being bottled. To ensure there was no hanky panky after the government test, the government agent seals the wine with a DOCG seal, ensuring the bottled wine is DOCG worthy.

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] This does include yogalates on Tuesday night. Yes, I exercise. Sometimes.
[2] Pretty productive if you ask me.
[3] The top has split open in the oven, but I’m thinking we’re still gonna end up with dough, cheese and meat inside, so what’s the problem?
[4] Sometimes I feel like all I get is fruit and flowers…
[5] Turns out, wines that fall somewhere between light and full bodied are known as “medium bodied”. Who knew?
[6] Filled with ricotta, mozzarella, soppressata, caramelized onions and spinach topped with a delicious homemade red sauce.
[7] If/when you go to Italy, all you need to do is ask for una caraffa di vino rosso at every restaurant you go to. It will likely be a vGT wine from the vineyard down the street and it will taste better than most wines available to us in the U.S.