Fabulous Malbec

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bottlenotes.

Quite a while ago, the folks from Bottlenotes contacted me about trying their wine club service. I did, and I wrote up the bottles at various times.  Along the way, I wrote a review of one of the wines that I didn’t particularly like and the folks contacted me again and wanted me to try a different Malbec instead. I readily agreed, and this bottle of 2003 Enrique Foster Limited Edition Malbec arrived.  It hails from Mendoza, Argentina, had a real cork closure, and retails for around $53. Quite frankly, this was an amazing wine and easily the best Malbec I’ve ever had.

On the nose I found red currants, vanilla, clove, baking spice, cinnamon, mulled cider, cherry, plum, and pencil shavings. I found the nose to be incredibly enticing and I wanted to go swimming in my glass.  This definitely turned into one of those ocassions where I still had my nose stuck in my glass while Matt had already moved on his second glass of wine.  in the mouth I got red currants, cherries, licorice, plum, spice, and earth.  The fruit showed as big and red and red. The best was to describe this wine is as a big, bold, knock you down red that has enough going on to keep anyone interested.  The layers of flavors and aromas kept coming and after just 20 minutes in my glass the wine was smooth and fantastic.

Feeling Inspired

*Disclaimer: I received this bottle of wine as part of a Blogger trial of Bottlenotes.

The wine for the evening was a 2005 Inspiration Vineyards Zinfandel. It hails from the Alexander Valley, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, had a plastic cork closure, and can be purchased from Bottlenotes for $22.

On the nose I found currants, cedar, oak, earth, spice, cigars, pipe tobacco, red berries, and pepper. Very aromatic and layered nose for a Zinfandel. Color me impressed. In the mouth I found black cherry, blackberry, white pepper, and spice.

The wine was full of fresh fruit, especially the black cherry flavors. However, this was not by any stretch of the imagination a fruit bomb. The flavors were not all up in your face, instead, it was a really well integrated, very balanced Zinfandel. It could actually be a dangerous one, as I didn’t feel like the alcohol content was even noticeable while I was drinking it. Overall, a smooth, balanced, delicious Zinfandel. I can easily recommend this one at this price point.

Mixing it up


*Disclaimer: I received this bottle of wine as part of a blogger trial of Bottlenotes.

The bottle was a 2006 Catello Banfi Le Rime Chardonnay-Pinot Grigio. I can’t say I have ever seen such a mix before, but I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to try it. In fact, delinquent blogger that I am, I tried this wine months ago and simply let the notes get lost among the now well over 500 posts on Wannabe Wino.

The wine hails from Tuscany, clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume, and can be purchased from Bottlenotes for $10! I don’t think the wine saw oak, though I did see some creamy tendencies in it…maybe it went through a little malo or it’s just the influence of the Chardonnay?

On the nose I found creamy vanilla, lemon, tropical fruit, and pineapple. The nose was very light, and it took some serious sniffing on my part to tease out some flavors. In the mouth the wine was crisp and light, it showed a little lemon, peach, pineapple, and tropical fruit. I sort of expected it to be oaky after the creamy nose, so the crisp mouth feel really surprised me. This was an interesting bottle, and for the price, definitely something to be tried for the novelty of the blend.

Can you guess who took this picture? :)

Perhaps A Bit Pricey

*Disclaimer: I received this bottle as part of a sample pack.

I received this bottle of 2006 Staete Landt Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from Bottlenotes as part of their blogger sample program. It had a screw cap, clocked in at 14% alcohol by volume, and costs $24 through Bottlenotes. Now, this was an excellent bottle of wine. I loved everything about it and would happily drink it again and again. I’m just a little concerned about the price point given the wide availability of New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs at rock-bottom prices. However, this bottle was more complex, and it wasn’t just in your face citrus (though don’t get me wrong, I also love those), it was delicate, and blanaced.

On the nose of the wine I found gooseberries, passionfruit, green pepper, citrus, and almost a creamy note, though the wine was unoaked. In the mouth, there was a lot of white grapefruit, followed by layers of tropical fruit and other citrus. It was tart and crisp in the mouth, but not in that mouth puckering way that some Sauvignon Blancs are. I found the wine to be very refreshing, especially with the lively flavors and acidity.

Blue Stones

*Disclaimer: I received this bottle as a sample from Bottlenotes as part of a blogger club trial.

Here’s a hint to tell which photos I take and which ones Matt takes: 9 times out of ten I take photos on the table and he takes them on the counter!

The wine for the evening was a 2003 Calvulcura Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Blend. It is composed of 60% Merlot and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, clocks in at 14.9% alcohol by volume, and can be purchased from Bottlenotes for $49.95. The wine had a real cork closure and hails from Argentina. The word “calvulcura” means “blue stone.”

On the nose the wine smelled bitter at first, but that blew off…eventually, though it still left a deep dark wine impression with me. I also found vanilla, spice, cream, very dark fruit and berries. I found the nose very tight and unforgiving, it took forever for me to be able to distinguish any particular aromas. The wine was also bitter in the mouth, it was wound so tightly that I just had to set the bottle aside and left my glass out to air. After hours (I almost considered giving up on this one for the evening and trying again the next night) I found tart berries, spice, and leather. The wine had huge tannis and this overall bitter impression.

After about 4 hours, the wine was much better, but this is not one to be consumed now, it needs age, and lots of it. I think this may be the least approachable wine I’ve had so far, and at a 2003, it’s not exactly a particularly new wine.

Homage to Pinotage


*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bottlenotes.

Or rather, to a Pinotage/Shiraz blend. I received this wine quite a while ago as a part of a blogger trial of Bottlenotes. For the trial, I was given a credit at Bottlenotes which I could use to try out any of their wineclubs. I chose the Dinner Party club, and received this Pinotage/Shiraz in a shipment along with a bottle of Petite Sirah Port that I have yet to try.

The wine was a 2006 Seven Sisters “Dawn” Pinotage/Shiraz from South Africa. It can be purchased from Bottlenotes for $14.99. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and was a blend of 60% Pinotage/40% Shiraz.

This wine was honestly fabulous. It’s been a few months since I drank it, but I can still remember what it tasted like, and what an incredible value it was. I’d never had a Pinotage before and I was happy to try one and was delighted to find a new grape to love. I will certainly seek out Pinotage again.

The nose of the wine was plummy and spicy. Dark black fruit shone through, with pepper and earth. Vanilla cream emerged after some time in the glass. The wine was very fruity on the nose, while being dark with smoke and earth at the same time. In the mouth I found plums, dark fruit, blackberries, and earth. The wine was tannic, it needed some time to air, but after an hour was completely smoothed out and kept evolving.

An excellent value for the price.

A Different Kind of Wine

*Disclaimer: I received this bottle of wine from Bottlenotes as part of a sample pack.

Several months ago (okay, perhaps more like 6 months ago) a PR firm for the wine club and online wine store Bottlenotes contacted me and asked if I would like to participate in a blogger trial of their online wine club. They gave me a credit which I could use to join any of their many clubs for a few months. After perusing the options, I chose the Dinner Party Club for 3 months, 2 bottles at a time. Though I must admit, I was sorely tempted by the Little Black Dress Club, I was curious about a wine club geared toward women and touted by the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow!

The concept behind the Dinner Party Club is just that, a dinner party worth of wines in a box. Though I would guess to get the full experience you would have to go for a larger shipment than the 2 bottle one, since that would give you the whole meal!

I had to ship the club to my parents’ house, since at the time (not sure if that’s changed) Bottlenotes could not ship to Virginia. The shipments arrived like clockwork on my parents’ doorstep and I was eager to collect them over Christmas as I had been reading the emails with what the shipments contained for months.

My second shipment brought a bottle of white and a bottle of red. The white, which I will review here, was a 2006 Amehlo, which can be purchased for $14.50 and the red a Cabernet Sauvignon that I have yet to taste.

The Amehlo comes from Alain Moueix in Stellenbosch, South Africa. It clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume and was a blend of 63% Sauvignon Blanc and 37% Semillon grapes. Because I was curious, and the label told me, Amehlo means “the eye” and represents the leopards that live by the vineyard.

On the nose of the wine I found pineapple butter. It was neither pineapple or butter, but what I would imagine a spread made in apple butter style but with pineapple instead would smell like. I also got pear, pastry cream (the kind of custard like stuff in eclairs) and an almost minty/herbal aroma. The nose was dominated by tropical flavors. The nose was unlike any other wine I’ve smelled. In the mouth I found lemon cream, tropical fruit, and a bit of a grassy flavor. The wine was crisp with a really light mouth feel that I didn’t expect after the nose. The flavors were clean.

The wine was very different overall. I’ve never had a blend of these two grapes before, so I like that it got me to try something I likely would never have picked up in the store. We drank this on it’s own, which was great, but I think it would do well with a light white fish dish or with cheese and crackers!

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