Life is better on the corner, the place where great wines meet reasonable prices!

Friday, January 16, 2009

A poor man's Rombauer

A poor man's Rombauer, hey what do you mean by that? Well if you are Wente Vineyards this what you would call a "back-handed" compliment. If you are Rombauer Vineyards you are probably not too comfortable with another wine being tagged with that moniker. But Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Reserve Chardonnay, Monterey Arroyo Seco is exactly that, the poor mans Rombauer and is bandied about as such in wine stores all over California and else where (like from the lips of wine rep's everywhere).

Let's be honest here Rombauer makes a great Chardonnay, to which almost everyone agrees. But with a price point starting somewhere around $29.99 each, well it's not going to be the QPR champ or even a competitor. With the economy the way it is now, folks who love to drink wine on a regular basis are looking to cut corners. Well here is your answer! I have been drinking vintages of Wente Vineyards Riva Ranch Chard since 2004 and while each one differs a little, one thing which is not different is the overall consistent quality. Price ranges from 10.95 -11.99 a bottle and in the word's of Jennifer's Review that is "uber-fabulous!"

With that said, now it's time for the review! There is one word in the tasting notes which describes this wine very well, that is balance! With the ABC, movement afoot this is a lofty goal for today's Chardonnay producers and it is achieved with this wine. The wine has the a creaminess associated with having an oak influence and tropical notes associated with Monterey fruit. This is an excellent wine to pair with food or as stand alone sipper. Weighing in at 13.5% alc. which is hardly noticed as this wine coats your palate with a suppleness normally associated with wines of a higher caliber and price point. But hey don't take my word for it, try it for yourself and see. You won't be disappointed. Until next time Cheers!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Selective Breeding and Up Bringing"

That title sounds so damn pretentious don't you think? But in looking at the word Crianza on the label, that's exactly what it means! But of course it's not as pretentious as it sounds, instead what it means to you is this Spanish beauty spent 1-2 years in an oak barrel and the bottle before being released into the world.
Many folks seeing the wine label, maybe wondering what the hell? What kind of wine is this? It is assumed if the wine label states Rioja it's most likely 98% Tempranillo, with a splash of Graciano.
Rioja ("the grand old man of Spain") on the label also refers to the region from which the grapes received their selective breeding and up bringing. Further the DOCa is the assurance of Spanish Wine law that this wine if from a region with a proven track record for high quality. Can you imagine there are two levels of quality beyond this level, my mouth waters over fact.

Given this wines region and aging requirements this wine could easily sell for twice the price and very well could one day command much higher prices, but thankfully for every wine loving palate this amazing wine is another QPR winner @ only 12.99 per bottle!

The Sierra Cantabria 2001, this wine boasts a deep ruby core with a nuanced brick colored rim. On the nose a lovely bouquet of currant and earthy elements. Remarkably smooth tannins float on the palate with more finesse than power, a raspberry palate coating delight which lingers on with notes of vanilla and a hint of cinnamon in the finish.

WS gave this wine 85 pts and RP gave this wine 91 pts and if I was in the wine scoring business, it would definitely reach for higher than WS, but not as enthusiastically RP's 91. Suffice to say this is a great bottle of wine for the price, and "everyday quaffer". So enjoy this Spanish beauty while you can @ Crianza, Sierra Cantabria, 2001 Rioja, 2001 . Until next time Cheers!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Smoking Hot and Full Bodied: 2004 Sebastiani Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Ahh-yes, can life get any better than that? It's a hot So-Cal day reaching up into the eighties, time to bust out the board shorts and head to the pool. Yep you read that right the eighties, welcome to So-Cal, this how we do it. Heading out to do some swimming today and catch some sun, ahh don't be jealous, just a perk of living here in sunny San Diego.

Mean while back at the review.
I fired up the grill the other night and got it smoking hot. I have had a juicy Tri-Tip marinating all day, ready to hit the grill with extreme prejudice. I planned to side-dish it, with broiled red potatoes, bathed an EVO spice glaze and an ear of white corn on the cob. So here's the match up a Sebastiani 2004 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 14.4% ALC, 14 months on American and French Oak before being bottled, paired wonderfully against some grain-fed expertly grilled Tri-Tip, wow a match made in heaven. I'm talking serious perfection here.

From the first splash to enter my glass to last drop from the bottle, the wine delivered an awe inspiring performance, in a word stellar. I know, I know you think that's over the top, but for $24 it deserved every bit of the word, stellar. In the glass this wine was an opaque brooding storm of violet hue, now that's what I call extraction baby! This cab delivered so much palate coating dark fruit flavors and aromas, with subtle mocha nuances on the long and lingering finish I had to check the price again. I seen a few articles touting the 2004 vintage as being an excellent in year for Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa and Sonoma. Looking around the web I see I picked up this wine $10.00 to $15.00 less than advertised prices, I love when that happens, a another big QPR winner, in my opinion.

Now the folks at WS thought a little less of it than I did and scored it 88 points, which is considered very good a wine with special qualities. But personally I scored this beauty a whopping 91 points, that's if I were in the business of scoring wines, which I am not [I work in wine-sales by day and blog by night]. On the other hand, I do know what I like and I challenge anyone to grab a bottle of this wine, give it a good swirl and see if you give this Cabernet anything less than 90 points. I look forward to hearing back about your experiences. Until next time Cheers Everyone!
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