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Saturday, 25 February 2012

Carmenere - A gem of a bottle!

I was at Earl's last night, celebrating a friends birthday.  In looking at the wine list, I spotted this particular wine in the red's list.  At $10.25/glass, $18/half liter and $28/bottle, I was feeling pretty good about spending $12 on this gem of a bottle.

Chilean wines have been fascinating me lately.  In fact, all wines from South America I'm wanting to learn more about.  There are some great vintners that are coming out of South America and the quality of this wine is outstanding.  Not to mention the value!  A lot of these wines are under twenty bucks and are stellar in quality!  I especially wanted to search for the Carmenere grape.  Originating out of the famous Bordeaux region of France, carmenere means "crimson" which refers to the brilliant crimson colour of the autumn foliage prior to the fall of leaves. Now, it is rarely produced in France, but in vast quantities in Chile; one of the more well known grapes of that region.  This grape is often found in blends as well, specifically with Cabernet Sauvignon.

What I like about this wine is the body is medium and well-rounded.  My mouth is not full of that astringency (tannin) that is so prominent in a Shiraz or even in a Cab.  Now I have to be honest with you, when I tasted this wine, I was suffering from a cold. (My two main senses in the tasting exercise were seriously inhibited to say the least.)  However, I did get a nice smokiness on the nose along with the aromas of black pepper and blackberry.  And as I said earlier, it was well rounded in my mouth with a smooth finish.  I didn't have it with anything, so that tells me it would be a great fireside sipping wine.  There were hints of dark chocolate in the taste as well, so perhaps a decadent chocolate dessert would go very nicely!

Watch for more blog posts on Chilean and Argentinian wines!

Errazuriz Estate 2009
$12.99 - Superstore
If you're looking for another good value and good quality for the Carmenere grape, try the Cono Sur Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon blend that is also considered an organic wine. 

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Oyster Bay

Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Marlborough, New Zealand
$14.79 Superstore
I took this wine to my friend Cheryl's house when they invited us for dinner a few weeks back.  My friend has her wine that she prefers to drink, so I was hoping to get her out of that box for an evening at least!  She was a good sport, but went back to her "regular" after only a small glass.  No matter, I enjoyed this wine, and if you happened to read the blog about Kim Crawford, I probably enjoyed this one better; it's high up with with Sean Minor, and the value is good too!  Another Sauvignon Blanc that is light and refreshing.  I guess you could say that when summer rolls around, I won't have to think about which wines to serve...I'll already have a vast inventory of wines that I know are excellent, and not terribly expensive!  A typical Sauvignon Blanc with the beautiful scents of mangoes, grass, pineapple and kiwi.  A slight effervescence on my tongue with bursts of tropical fruits and a hint of lemon zest.  So what do I mean by effervescence?  This wine is not sparkling, yet it gives that slight tingling flavour on my tongue.  For me, it gives the wine a little more character!

I'm starting to read Kevin Zraly's Complete Wine Course - 2012 Edition and he has a listing of Best Value Wines for $30 and under.  This one was in the New Zealand list, so I felt good about this choice, and most people seem to know of this wine, so you've probably already tasted it!  What do you think?

Friday, 3 February 2012

Purple Cowboy?

So, what does one do when sleep is not possible?  Blog!  I'm getting reports that are wanting me to blog about's coming, I promise you!  But for now, I gotta talk about this wine!

Trust the Americans to come up with cool looking labels and wine names to make those same wines much more marketable and appealing to the average consumer.  There is Red Truck, Big Ass Cab, Marilyn Merlot and 7 Deadly Zins..just to name a few.  This one is just as catchy and curious:  Purple Cowboy.  Yup, the label is purple (although you wouldn't know it by this picture) and even the colour of the wine itself is leaning towards the purple side.   The label on the back tells me it's "a rowdy blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah".  Admittedly, the label, and the description on the back were what made me buy this wine.  That, and the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah together.  That's two serious grapes mixed up in one wine bottle.  I guess that's why they called it "Tenacious Red". I gotta be honest with you....I liked everything about this wine:  the label, the clever marketing name, the taste, and yes....the price too.  Those Americans sucked me in...

Webster defines "tenacious" as "persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired".  Hmm...these two grapes value each other?  They adhere together well?  Whatever reason for calling it this, it's a good wine, plain and simple.  Beautiful scents of blackberries and raspberries, and even a hint of jasmine on the nose.  And the flavour?  Again, bursting with fruit flavours like blueberries, cranberries and raspberries, but also a few surprises as well.  There were some hints of red licorice too.  And when my husband tasted it, he agreed.

There was another flavour though that my brain knew, but couldn't quite place.  I reached into my memory bank and found it after a couple of intense swirls in my mouth.

Do you remember those fizz candies?  You know, the ones that came in the long strip with hard candies in flavours of orange, cherry and grape?  You sucked on this candy, and sooner rather than later, the "fizz" came seeping out, filling your mouth with a volcano like explosion of grape and sodium bicarbonate!  That was my missing flavour!  The cherry fizz candy!  Awesome!  Not only did it put a smile on my face, but I was filled with happy memories of going to the rink as a kid, with my dad, to watch our small town men's hockey team take on a neighbouring small town mens team, in what could only be described as "grassroots hockey".  An unheated arena, exciting hockey, and fizzes....ahh...

And can you imagine what this might taste like with a succulent beef tenderloin kebab grilled over the open fire, with a side of baked beans and grilled peppers and onions?  Is your mouth watering yet?  Well, giddy up and try it...the little doggies will be ok until mornin'....

The Purple Cowboy Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah
Santa Rosa, CA - 2010
$12.99 Costco

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Carmen Gran Reserva

Carmen Gran Reserva 2009
Cabernet Sauvignon
Maipo Alto, Chili
$14.59 - Superstore
What a beautiful wine this was!  Bright ruby red in colour, with a watery edge.  And as you can see by my plate below, I experimented with a variety of flavours.  Yes, it's interesting that I would've chosen a chicken to pair with this wine (I didn't consciously, it just kinda happened that way!) but the pairing was not too bad, EXCEPT for the tomatoes.  More on that a little later...

Because it's a Gran Reserva, this would be considered a "best expression from every top Chilean valley". One step up from Reserva, and if in Spain, another step up from Crianza, which would be like an "entry" level wine.

So this was my meal with this wine:  Shells stuffed with sauteed spinach, yellow peppers, sweet onions and ricotta cheeses, ceasar herbed chicken, fresh tomatoes and fresh blackberries.  The tomatoes dulled the flavour of the wine, so I hastily consumed those before I took another cleansing palate taste of my wine..  Onto the pasta...  After the pasta and chicken, the wine tasted almost.....creamy, with nutty flavours.  And the blackberries?  Because the wine imparted flavours of blackberries in it, the fruit really enhanced the blackberry flavour.  The chicken also created a increased "alcohol" effect.  What I mean by that, is more nose and throat burning sensations.

Every wine has it's "typicity" of food(s) that it is likely to pair with....I encourage you to experiment and think about the flavours in the wine you are pouring, and compare them to the food you are tasting.