Chill in NZ?

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR rep for this wine.

Yes, please.  Brancott Estate out of New Zealand is currently running a contest to enter to win a trip for two to New Zealand. Head on over to Facebook to enter for your chance to win.  The contest runs through August 31.  I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand, ever since I did my very first term paper on New Zealand culture in my 7th grade language arts class. Attempting to promote the contest and, of course, the wine, a bottle of the 2012 Brancott Sauvignon Blanc arrived on my porch recently. The wine retails for about $9-$10 depending on your market, sports a screw cap closure, and Mr. Wannabe Wino recycled the bottle before I could record the alcohol content.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) A bottle of the Brancott Sauvignon Blanc usually makes it into my 12 under $12 cases at the Total Wine.

2.) I often serve the Brancott (though not this vintage) at parties and our guests guzzle it.

3.) This particular vintage wasn’t my favorite of the ones I’ve had from Brancott, it had too much green pepper and even jalapeño on the nose.

4.) The pepper followed through to the palate for me and I just couldn’t get past it.

On the nose I found lime, grass, lots of green pepper, melon, tropical notes, and jalapeño. On the palate I got more peppers, lime, lemon, pink grapefruit, and slight tropical notes. While the palate showed tons of citrus, the pepper just threw me for a loop and I couldn’t get into this wine.




Muddy Waters

*Disclaimer: I receive this wine as a sample from the PR firm associated with the brand.

I’ve been in a Pinot Noir mood lately.  So I chose the 2008 Muddy Water Pinot Noir from the basement the other night. I’ve been interested in the Pinot Noirs coming out of New Zealand, and this wine proved to be an excellent example. It has a screw cap closure, clocks in at $13% alcohol by volume and I think retails for somewhere around $30.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) It’s really lovely all around.

2.) In fact, my notes say “lovely” at least 3 times.

3.) New Zealand has been producing some wonderful Pinot Noirs lately, this is certainly among them.

4.) Perfect on it’s own, but I think it would be quite nice with spring lamb dishes.

On the nose I found herbs, spice, pepper, white pepper, raspberry, cherry, and dusty chocolate powder. In the mouth I got cherry, raspberry, herbs, spice, and a chocolate note. The wine has excellent body and acidity. I could drink this all night long.



2009 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Pinot Noir

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

Along with my current Cab Franc obsession, I’m also really liking Pinot Noir a lot these days. Perhaps it’s the warmer weather driving me towards reds with lighter flavors. Or maybe I just like wine. Lots of wines. Tonight we tried the 2009 Craggy Range Te Muna Road Pinot Noir which was just a lovely wine overall. The wine has a real cork closure, clocks in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $45.

Four takeways from this wine:

1.) The price is a little steep, but this is a really well done Pinot.

2.) The nose reminded me a Hope chest. Perfumey with cedar and spice. Yum.

3.) I’ve had some pretty great Pinots from New Zealand lately.

4.) This wine just kept getting better the more time it spent in the glass.

On the nose I found herbs, smoke, spice, cedar, violets, and some spicy notes. In the mouth I got raspberry, cherry, pepper, spice, black cherry, black raspberry, and cedar. The flavors were really deep and the wine had great structure and body.



Speed Tasting #2

2009 Decibel Hawkes Bay Sauvignon Blanc.

The wine comes from a sustainable vineyard. White pepper, lime, nice acidity. Isn’t a mouth-puckering sauvignon blanc from New Zealand at all. Currently distributed in PA, NY, and NJ. Stone fruit, stones, citrus zest, with some cream. very nicely done. 100% stainless, but lees stirred. Retails for $16 and they offer direct shipping.

Last Nautilus

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample in order to participate in a Taste Live event.

In the summer, if I’m going to drink a red wine, it’s either going to be a red on the lighter end of the spectrum or a giant Zin to go with my BBQ. We haven’t been doing as much BBQing this summer for whatever reason, so the Zins have been staying safely tucked in my basement. I’m always in the mood to try out a new Pinot though, which I got to do through the Nautilus Taste Live Event. The 2008 Nautlius Pinot Noir clocked in at 14% alcohol by volume, had a screw cap closure, and retails for around $22.

On the nose I found slightly burnt toffee notes, vanilla toast, cherry, strawberry, spice, and campfire smoke.  In the mouth I got black cherries, strawberries, slight earth, and other red fruits. I found the fruit to be tart overall. The nose seemed to have a bit more going on than the palate, I wish some of the spice and toffee/vanilla notes had followed through into the mouth.

She sells sea shells by the seashore

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample in order to participate in a Taste Live event.

A few weeks (maybe more, I’m a little behind on my posts with all the travel I’ve been doing) ago I participated in a Taste Live event with Nautilus wines. I love Taste Live events, it’s tons of fun to get together virtually with all my wino friends and geek out of wines for an hour. Don’t judge. Our second wine for the evening was the 2008 Nautilus Pinot Gris. It had a screw cap closure closure, retails for around $18.99, and Matt tossed the bottle before I could record the alcohol content.

On the nose I found spiced pear, spice, ginger, and nutmeg. While I visited Portugal early this year with Enoforum Wines I had a dish of baked quince. I thought this wine smelled remarkably like that dish. In the mouth I got lots of pear. Almost all pear with some nutty undertones, melon notes, and baking spices. The wine had some weight on the palate, feeling a little heavy to me. Overall I thought this was a very well done white and would put a bottle on the Thanksgiving table!

Down By the Sea

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample in order to participate in a Taste Live event.

I guess it must have been about a month ago (yikes, I’m a little behind here…) I joined my fellow winos for a Taste Live event exploring Nautilus Wines from Marlborough. Color me excited, I love wine from New Zealand, especially Sauvignon Blanc. And lucky me, up first for the night was a Sauvignon Blanc! We tried the 2009 Nautilus Sauvignon Blanc. It had a screw cap closure, looks to retail for about $15, and clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I got herbal notes, white grapefruit, lime, kiwi, and some other tropical fruit notes hiding below the citrus. In the mouth I found lime, grapefruit, kiwi, and tropical fruit. Basically everything I got on the nose except the herbs. I thought the wine had good acidity but definitely stayed away from the lip-puckering side of things.

New Zealand Pinot Noir

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

I’ve had a few Pinot Noirs from New Zealand. Mostly at a Wines of New Zealand tasting I went to last Spring where there were dozens to taste. I think this is the first time I’ve actually sat down with a a bottle of it to give it some thought and time and taste it in my normal manner with food, without food, etc. Tonight’s bottle was the 2005 Whitehaven Pinot Noir. It had a screw cap closure, clocked in at 13.6% alcohol by volume, and retails for around $20.

On the nose I found smoke, strawberries, caramel, herbs, raspberry, more herbs, earth, leather, smokey cedar spice, plum, and pepper. It had a fairly classic Pinot Noir nose, which is nice to find at this price point. In the mouth I got notes of red cherry, raspberry, tart fruit, smoke, earth, and strawberry. I wished some of the herbal notes had translated onto the palate.

Affordable Wine at a Restaurant

When I go to a restaurant and want wine, I pretty much expect to get ripped off. Really. I often go in and see crappy bottles of wines on lists that I KNOW sell for $6-10 going for $30-$50. So I’m always pleased when I see something on a wine list for a price that isn’t out of this world high. We went to dinner at Bilbo Baggins Green Dragon Pub in Alexandria, VA the other night and I saw a table card announcing a partnership with the Wine House in Fairfax to bring 2 wines from Lil Rippa at a reasonable price to the restaurant–the Sauvignon Blanc for $15 a bottle and the Pinot Noir for $18. We chose the 2008 Lil Rippa Sauvignon Blanc which had a screw cap closure and clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume.

The bottle tells me it comes from Marlborough, New Zealand and is produced by Shoestring Wines.  Apparently Lil Rippa is a joint effort of two families to produce affordable wines. I see from a little research that one of the families is the Pearces, who own the Wine House. I don’t know what the wine retails for outside of restaurants, but it was certainly excellent for a $15 wine off  restaurant list!

On the nose I got lime, grapefruit, citrus, grass, and lemon. It smelled tart. In the mouth I got grapefruit, citrus, hay, grass, lemon, and green apple. While I found it tart, it wasn’t nearly as sharp and acidic as some Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs, which I know some folks complain about!



Last of the Spies

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

With this post, I’ll have told you about 5 wines from Spy Valley Winery.  The Sauvignon Blanc was by far my favorite of the bunch, definitely a wine I would seek out again and again.  I liked all of the wines, but felt some offered better value than others.  The last of the group was the 2007 Spy Valley Pinot Noir.  The wine had a screw cap closure, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and looks to retail for around $22.  Now, I tasted through a TON of New Zealand Pinots at the last New Zealand tasting I attended, and overall the quality impressed me a lot. I’m surprised that I don’t see more of them on the store shelves.

On the nose I found smoke, bing cherries, tart red cherries, raspberries, dusty chocolate, herbs, and cigarette smoke.  In the mouth I got raspberries, cherries, red fruit, a little spice, and notes of strawberry jello.  Overall I’d say the wine had soft tannins and showed very smooth in the mouth, despite the tart fruit up front.