Back in New Zealand

My parents were here visiting last week, and my Dad always likes to bring some wines for me to try from a local to him shop in CT, Branford Wine & Spirits. Now, I’ve actually had the 2006 of this wine, and I believe the 2005, also all purchased from Branford Wine & Spirits.  You can read my review of the 2006 here. We chose the 2007 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc for the evening. It had a screw cap closure, clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume, and retails for around $8.

On the nose I found grapefruit, lemon, citrus, hay, the infamous cat pee smell (I swear this is not a bad thing), topical notes, banana, pineapple, almonds, and grass. It had a fairly typical for the price range nose, with the exception of the banana. I don’t think I’ve ever smelled that on a Sauvignon Blanc before.  In the mouth I got citrus, grapefruit, gooseberry, star fruit, and pineapple.  The seemed less citrusy than the nose.

I found the wine to be tart, refreshing, and crisp. The Oyster Bay is one I can always count on to provide a value for the price point, and it makes an easy summer drinker for the hot days to come. (And even though it’s snowing today, I know the hotter days are right around the corner!!)

Italian Pinot Noir

I must say, Italian Pinot Noir took me by surprise. I must not be up on things because I didn’t really even realize that Pinot Noir is grown in Italy! Jay of Branford Wine and Spirits in Connecticut gave me this bottle to try when I stopped in to pick up some wine over July 4th this year. The wine is a 2005 Banfi Sartori Pinot Noir from Di Verona. It clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume and had a real cork closure. I think it retails for around $10.

On the nose I found bright red fruit, strawberry, cherry, candied red currants, perfumed spice, flowers, and oak. I thought for the price point, the wine displayed fairly consistent varietal characteristics on the nose.  In the mouth I got black cherry, some earth, oak, spice, and a bit of espresso.  The mouth was darker than I expected based on the nose.  It had some tannins on the back palate. For the price point, if you’re looking for some easy drinking Pinot Noir, this a good bet.

Digging Italian Wines


When I went to visit my parents over July 4th, we stopped in at Branford Wine and Spirits. Jay, the owner, was asking me what kinds of Italian reds I like, and I mentioned how much I had enjoyed several bottles of Negroamara last winter. He pulled out this bottle and sent it home with me to try.

We drank this on its own the other night, the 2006 Tormaresca Neprica. The wine is a blend of 40% Negroamara, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Primitivo. It clocks in at 13% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and appears to run between $10-$15.

On the nose I found chocolate covered cherries, cherry cordials, currants, wood, choclate, and licorice. The nose had a bit of heat, which was odd at 13% alcohol, but it blew off quickly. The mouth showed cherries, raspberries, herbs, bitters, and licorice. The flavor had that nice bitter quality that draws me to the Negroamara grape. Overall, the wine was smooth, integrated, and well balanced. Very food friendly, certainly helps continue my affair with Negroamara!

My Garden or My Wine?


The wine for the evening was a 2006 Freie Weingartner Wachau Gruner Veltliner. My dad picked this up for me from Branford Wine and Spirits in CT, but I gather it sells for around $12, it clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, and had a screw cap closure. We drank this on its own after dinner, and it was perfect that way.

On the nose I found almonds, peanuts, lime, white pepper, green beans, nutmeg, and crayon. Yes, you are reading that right, an aroma as if you were sniffing a box of a Crayola! In the mouth I got white pepper, exotic spices, grapefruit, lemon, and limes. Overall, I’d describe this wine as smelling like my garden. I often brush up against my tomato plants as I’m picking, pruning, or watering, and touching the actual plant has a very distinct aroma. That, mingled with the fragrant basil in my garden, was what this wine reminded me of.

A tasty little bottle of wine for the price, good structure and acidity, some of the typical varietal characteristics…not much more I could ask for in a $12 bottle of wine. Definitely one I’d snag again for a hot summer’s day.

Showing off my Harvest


I planted a garden this year. From seeds. And nearly every single seed I planted grew. I have 20 green bean plants, 18 tomato plants, 7 pots of basil, 2 pots of mint, and a pot of rosemary. The rosemary actually did the worst, I planted 3 pots and only got one to come up, and even then, only with a few sprigs. I do not have a green thumb, so this delights me. Plus, the squirrels and I are locked in an epic battle for my garden. First, they dug up the seeds I planted, and now that I managed to grow things, they are eating my green tomatoes. Behold, the first harvest from my garden:

To go along with my first harvest and the beautiful Alaskan sockeye salmon I picked up at the store that morning, I served a 2006 Erath Pinot Noir. My dad picked this up at Branford Wine and Spirits, it had a screw cap closure, and I see you can find it online for about $15. Sorry, didn’t note the alcohol content before I left for St. Louis.

The first thing I noted about the wine was the color. We sat outside to eat dinner and in the light the color of the wine seemed more like a very dark rose than a Pinot Noir. Though, it could just be that I’m used to a California style Pinot Noir. On the nose I found cherry, smoke, oak, spice, Coke, and raspberry. The nose was quite pleasant and promised good things from the glass. In the mouth I got sweet fruit, raspberry, cherry, strawberry, some spice, and a touch of a tannic feeling on the finish. On its own, the wine was a bit thin/watery, but as we sat outside and it warmed up a touch, it developed a nice body and went quite well with food. As it developed, I found coffee grounds, mocha, and tart cherry flavors in my glass.

Overall, this wine is best with food, and best as it warms up just a touch. For $15 a bottle, it certainly displays the varietal characteristics you would expect from a Pinot Noir, and for that price point, that’s not something you can say about many Pinot Noirs. I think you can see my garden in the background! Yes, it’s all growing in pots, we haven’t had time to build beds in our yard yet, but we will get there….our ground is solid clay and poor little plants do not even have a chance to grow in it, so pots had to suffice for this year. I will soon be rolling in more tomatoes than I know what to do with…each plant has at least 20 tomatoes on it!

PS-These pictures were all taken with my new camera, whadda ya think?

Up a Hill

My dad picked up this bottle of 2007 Round Hill Chardonnay at Branford Wine and Spirits in Branford, CT. It clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume, had a plastic cork, and proudly states across the front label that it is “Oak free.” From a quick search, I see that you can purchase it for about $8, making this a very good deal.

On the nose I found pineapple, lemon, apple, sweet tropical fruit, and a sense that the wine would be crisp. In the mouth the fruit from the nose followed through. The wine was light and very freshing, and indeed crisp. A great simple summer porch wine.

And this is why I needed a new camera

I swear I am not this bad at taking pictures. In fact, people used to frequently ask me to take pictures at various family events because my camera just took great photos. Then it died, about 2 weeks after I started Wannabe Wino. Stupidly, I guess, I just bought the newest model of that camera, thinking it would be great, just like the one I had. Sadly, no dice. So now I am the proud owner of a brand new Canon SD 1100. I hope that the pictures from it will be much crisper and cleaner than these images. For example, the terrible picture of a very tasty bottle of wine.

When home in CT over July 4th weekend, my dad and I went to Branford Wine and Spirits in Branford, CT to pick up some bottles for the long weekend. One of my first picks was the bottle of 2006 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. I believe it retailed for about $8, hails from New Zealand, clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume, and had a screw cap closure.

This bottle is one of those bargain New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs I love. The nose gave up gooseberries, limes, citrus, melon, and tropical fruit. I could smell the acidity and new it was going to be one I liked. And the nose followed through to the mouth! Grapefruit, lime, gooseberries! The wine was crisp, acidic, tart, and very refreshing. Definitely a great easy drinker for a hot summer day, and it was perfect for the picnic we were having on July 4.

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