Light and Bright

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the folks at Pasternak Imports.

As I mentioned, we’re finally easing out of the DC spummall and into (slightly) cooler temperatures.  And the humidity is gone, at last. So that means red wine! But I’m looking at the gateway red wines (ha), of the lighter variety before settling into my Zins and Petite Sirahs for the winter. A Tempranillo seemed to fit the bill, so I pulled out the 2008 Terracita Tempranillo from Spain. It had a plastic cork closure, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $9.

On the nose I found lots of bright fruit. Blackberry, black cherry, and black plum, with some red edges, spice, and baking spice.  In the mouth I got cherry, plum, spice, cedar, fresh cherry, black cherry, very tart cherry, and more cherry.  Along with great acidity, this wine provided exactly the bright, light red I was looking for this evening, and at only $9 to boot.

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Argentinian Chardonnay

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Gallo Family Wines.

I found this wine hiding in a box I thought was empty in the basement. That occasionally happens given the size of my basement and the number of boxes down there. I can’t even remember the last time I opened one of my own boxes of wine, everything I bought on my Sonoma trip in April is still all boxed up. Anywho, I plucked the 2008 Alamos Chardonnay out of its hiding place and we drank it. The wine clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, retails for as low as $8, and had a Diam closure. It hails from Mendoza, Argentina.

On the nose I found pineapple, pear, a little oak, some cream, tropical fruit, and caramel notes.  In the mouth I got pear, apple, lemon, lemon zest, some spice, and some oaky influence.  This isn’t really my style of Chardonnay, but for $8, it’s okay.

Good Bargain Cabernet

Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

As I grow increasingly desperate for the cooler weather to arrive, (hear that Mother Nature? 89 in late September? What’s up with that?) so I can wear sweaters and pick apples, my thoughts continue to turn to bone-warming big red wines. In that vein, we picked the 2006 Martellotto Cabernet  Sauvignon out of the basement to taste the other evening. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $18. Reasonable alcohol level, sweet price for a Cabernet Sauvignon, I’m hooked…oh, and the wine was good too!

My first thought was that this wine just jumped out of the glass with lovely aromas.  I got blackberry, black cherry, spice, earth, herbs, baking chocolate, and blackberry pie on the nose. In the mouth I found blackberry, black cherry, spice, pepper, and herbs. The fruit showed quite tart, with the black cherries taking center stage and good acidity holding the body of the wine together.

Another Mystery Wine

I don’t know where this wine came from. I’m leaning toward that it must have been a sample from the Wines of Chile folks, but I can’t recall when I did a tasting with them that wasn’t Carmenere or Sauvignon Blanc.  Unless this came from the Carmenere tasting, though it’s not a mainly Carmenere based wine….So I’m stumped. It was on my sample rack, so I know that much. We pulled out the 2004 Carmen Wine Maker’s Reserve to go with our BBQ ribs the other night. The wine consists of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Carmenere, 20% Petite Syrah [sic], and 10% Merlot. It clocked in at 14% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and looks to retail for about $44.

On the nose I found dark berries, plums, very dark, dense fruit, spice, earth, raisins, menthol, and a hint of a green note, but nothing I found off-putting. In the mouth I got cedar, raisins, black plums, and a hint of cherry. To me this was a huge, tannic, dense wine with something just a bit sharp on the finish that threw me off. Some more time in the bottle might benefit this one or some serious air time before you drink it.

Fall Weather = Fall Wines

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks for the Wines of Chile.

I have a bunch of Carmenere in my basement. I was supposed to participate in a Carmenere tasting quite some time ago, but I got sick and was unable to fully participate since my nose and palate were off. Instead, I wanted to give the wines a fair shake, so I’ve (slowly) been making my way through the 8 or so bottles that were meant for the tasting. Up tonight, the 2005 Vina Cases Silva Microterroir de los Lingues Carmenere. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and looks like it might retail for between $25-$40? I’m finding it difficult to really tell.

First, I had to note that this was just about the heaviest wine bottle ever. You could take someone out with a swing of it, no problem. The nose on this wine seemed very pungent to me, showing pencil lead, herbs, cedar, black fruit, green pepper notes, pepper, and bright fruit. Overall, I found it to be quite spicy on the nose. In the mouth I got pepper, blackberry, spice, spice, spice, pepper, more spice, and lots more spice. I found so much spice on this wine in both the mouth and the nose that this wine really deserves to be called “All Spice,” as in, you take every spice in your cabinet, mix them together and then try to sort one from the other on the nose and mouth of this wine. Interesting, but nearly impossible to do. Pair with a steak.

Drinking Washington State Wine

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

An ode to Viognier: Viognier, I love your flowery aromas, your lingering citrus, your slightly oily mouthfeel. I could drink you all day and never want for more… Ok, enough with the bad poetry. In all seriousness, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Viognier. I wish more people made it and made it well. All you wine bloggers who come to VA for WBC 2011 will enjoy the great array of Viognier VA wineries have to offer, but it also appears you got to taste some good ones at WBC 10 in Washington! Tonight we tried the 2008 Maryhill Viognier. It clocked in at 13% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure and retails for $12-$15.

On the nose I found honeysuckle, vanilla, flowers, honey, spiced dried pineapple, orange blossom, exotic spices, and banana. In the mouth I got pineapple, orange, pears, honey, and spice. I found the palate on the wine to be very spicy and it definitely added some zing to the wine. Overall, a great bargain at $12 a bottle!

Caught Red-Handed

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

I’ve tried this wine in other vintages. Out of the offerings under the Big House label, this is far and away the best and the best value. The 2009 Big House White is very similar to the 2008 I wrote about last time I had this wine. It has a screw cap closure, clocks in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $8. Drink it liberally on the porch or by the pool and don’t wince if you’ve got folks over who take an ice cube in their wine, at this price for a summer sipper, just have another glass and forget about it.

On the nose I found pineapple, jasmine, beer, white flowers, tropical notes, and peach. That is one thing I noticed about all the Big House wines, they have a distinctively hoppy/beery note to them In the mouth I got pineapple, spice, white peaches, tropical fruit, and flowers. Refreshing and crisp this is an easy to drink summer white that won’t strap you for cash.