Saturday, December 25, 2010

McWilliams: Week #19

Merry Christmas!!!  Obviously, being a Saturday and a special occasion, I will most likely be enjoying some beverages, but to avoid awkwardly blogging over the turkey, here is another stock-piled review coming at ya!

Every Sunday we "Family Dinner" at my mom & dad's house.  There are nine of us - six adults and three kids (4 and under) - and despite knowing this fact, we STILL can't figure out how many chairs and plates we need.  It is loud, chaotic, loud, fun, messy and loud.  To combat the loudness and maintain our sanity, the adults must consume alcohol - I mean, who wouldn't in this situation?  There really is no other feasible alternative.  Sometimes it is rum punch, sometimes it is coolers and beer, more frequently than not, it is wine... usually red and often Shiraz. 

I'd been eyeing this bottle of McWilliams Shiraz in the my parents cupboard for more than a few weeks, hoping that somebody would sanction popping the cork.  I liked the simplicity and elegance of the label, and I liked that is was a more expensive brand that I wouldn't have spring for myself.  Don't you just love parents?  I know I do!

McWilliams (Australia, 2008)
14% alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
"The supple yet generous palate is dominated by rich, plum and raspberry fruit flavors with hints of spice and vanilla. The wine is soft and well balanced with a lingering, fruit focused finish"
I think I like hints of spice and vanilla - that sounds right to me. 

Yum. Yum. YUM.  This wine is everything I love about Shiraz - it is smooth and rich on the tongue and has just that hint of peppery-bitterness in the finish.  Easy drinking and great taste with a bit of a bite... what more can you ask for?  I definitely sneaked a tad more than my far share from the communal bottle - but what is a girl to do when faced with splitting one bottle six ways? 

Daddy Dearest Comment: "There's nothing wrong with this wine"
I think he was reminding me that it was expensive and he paid for it.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mission Hill Reserve: Week #18

To make up for my lack of posting promptness with my last entry, I have decided to post today's review by noon and have next week's waiting in the wings with an automatic posting timer! 

So, I'm at my mom & dad's house dropping off some pants to be hemmed (yes, Mommy hems my pants!  I like to focus on her awesomeness rather than my laziness in the situation), and I notice that my dad sits down at the computer, types something and prints off a document.  Nothing unusual about that, right?  Until we all head upstairs and he hands ME the folded piece of paper.  I'm thinking, "Oh shit.  Do I owe him money or something?"  Thankfully, the answer is no... well technically, the answer may be yes, but maybe it hasn't hit collections yet.  In either case, who types up a note to communicate with someone who is clearly occupying the same 3 meter radius as them?

Supposedly one of the better Shiraz wines that BC's Okanagan Valley has to offer.  Let me know how it stacks up against the Shiraz wines from Australia which usually are my favourites.
Price $24.99"

Then, he hands me a bottle of Mission Hill Shiraz.  So, despite his awkward social skills (guess I know where I get THAT from), you gotta love the sentiment, or at least the the wine, behind it. 

This appears to be a nice bottle of wine.  The label art is natural and understated, and the dimple in the bottom of the bottle is pretty deep - a few weeks ago, my brother, who is more of a refined wine lover than myself, told me that the deeper the dimple, the more expensive (and therefore better) the wine.  Since then, I've been wandering around sticking my finger in the bottom of wine bottles - thanks bro!

Mission Hill Reserve (Canada, 2007)
14% alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
"Mission Hill Family Estate Reserve wines are elegant and balanced, reflecting our passion and commitment to viticultural and winemaking excellence.  Tasting Notes: Dark, earthy and intense"
I like the sound of this.  Intense... yes, I like that.  But, what does viticultural mean? 
(PS: viticultural = the cultivation of grapes... that's it!?)

I enjoyed this with a friend at a pre-staff party gathering.  It was delicious, and smooth, and dry.  I noticed the color was particularly dark - it was very full bodied and rich.  Definitely an MVP if you can afford it, and for my dad's sake I will include that I think it more than compares to the Australians.

Guest Tester Review: "I taste it in my throat"
Gee, helpful husband may better watch out - someone is after his job!

Wynn's: Week #17

This review is more than late.  My apologies.  Don't worry, I still drank.... I just missed the writing part. 

Saturday evening I had the pleasure of an excursion with a couple of "Preschool Moms" - this is how I refer to women I have met through the older child's preschool.  This round included some, but not all, of the women present at a previously blogged about scrappy event. 

We went to a local Pizzeria and I enjoyed a Chicken-Pesto pizza with a small juice glass of red wine.  We were confused by the wine list - I honestly have no idea what I drank - I couldn't identify the grape or the brand name.  There was some animated discussion about the appropriateness of the juice glasses, but one well-traveled and refined (okay, she watches the Food Network) Preschool Mom informed me that is how it is done in Italy - and who am I to argue with the Italians?!

In either case, we hit the liquor store and purchased a swanky bottle of Shiraz - we settled on Wynn's which was on sale (save $3!!!).  Don't you love the rustic sketch on the label?  After picking up the bottle, a helpful shelf stocker sanctioned our choice saying it was a good wine and asking if it was a gift - uhm, no, we're going to drink it ASAP, of course!

Wynn's Coonawarra Estate (Australia, 2007)
$20ish... I can't remember the exact price, but it was around there after the $3 savings
14% alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
"The 2007 shiraz is classic Coonawarra - exhibiting black pepper, mulberries and dark plums. Stylish and consistent."
There was a nice little diagram on the back label and a long explanation of the vineyard's soil, drainage and climate - all which made little to no sense to me.  I'm getting very hard pressed to find any creative label notes.

I have to agree with the bottle on this one.  It was stylish and consistent.  It did exhibit some peppery fruitiness.  Basically, it was everything I like in a Shiraz - smooth and easy on the tongue, but with a bite in the back of the throat.  The only thing that will be keeping this wine from the MVP list is the killer headache I had after only one (fairly large) glass - and the lack of a good buzz.  I can't be certain that the wine caused the headache, but I will forever (unfairly) associate the two and therefore I will be tentative to try it again.  Keep in mind, my fellow two guest testers did not mention anything of the sort, so it should make a great choice for the readers out there!

Guest Tester Reviews: "Easy drinking!"
(I've noticed this is a common guest tester review when it comes to a good wine)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Las Moras Reserve: Week #16

Wanna know a secret?  I don't just drink wine on Saturdays. 
Sometimes I can't wait - I open the bottle a day early and attempt to cover my tracks by posting the review on Saturday or Sunday.  At times, I have some wine on Friday and then AGAIN on Saturday (and AGAIN on Sunday at Family Dinner) - you just never know with me. 

Anyway, this wine selection falls into one of the aforementioned categories.  In fact, truth be told, this was enjoyed with my husband on a Friday as my Saturday was booked with a girls' night.  My poor helpful husband felt he would miss out on the weekly sipping of the Shiraz.  So, in a truly selfless act, I agreed to share a bottle with him a day early and save the review for a week when my social calendar (I'm popular) prevents me from my usual Saturday Shiraz blogging duties.  You see, while it is a nice gesture to give the host of a social gathering a bottle of wine, demanding that they open it immediately and serve it to you may be construed as rude. 

I hope you enjoy this stock-piled review.

Helpful husband really took the helm for this one - he went to the store, and he chose the bottle all by his lonesome!  I had seriously considered this wine on a previous liquor store visit, but I had instead reached for its cheaper, younger, and less mature sister (how often has this exact scenario played out in real life?).

Las Moras (Argentina, 2007)
14% alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
Shiraz shows at its best in the San Juan region where weather conditions allow full ripeness.  Ages in American and French oak barrels for 12 months.
Nothing really interesting here, eh?

I was really expecting to love this wine.  I liked the cheaper version well enough, although, if I remember correctly (and I do, because I checked my one-line review) I felt it wasn't very Shiraz-y.  Still, I thought this older, and more expensive, wine would excel where its sister lacked.  However, I felt it was more of the same.  It was still a good, enjoyable red wine - but its nothing to write home about.  And, I don't think I'd bother forking over the extra few dollars for the "Reserve" label. 

Helpful Husband Tip:  I think YOU will like this one.
So, does he like it or not?  Does this mean he thinks I have bad taste or good taste?  I'll never be sure.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kumala: Week #15

Tonight was the long awaited KV Santa Claus Parade – a magical night when you can stand on the sidewalk for an hour as you watch a series of advertisements roll slowly by.  I’m not sure whether my favorite float was the Port-a-John or the dump truck with a single red bow on the back.  In either case, I stilled got teary-eyed when my baby handed his letter over to the postman and Santa’s sleigh appeared.  Motherhood seriously messes with my cynicism. 
As is the tradition, after the parade, we enjoyed hot chocolate (with Bailey’s for the 19+ crowd) and a spread of holiday treats.  I had spent the morning getting a start on my Christmas baking – now here is when wine saves the day (yet again!).  One of my traditional treats is the Brown Sugar Button Cookie.  These little round cookies are deliciously packed with brown sugar and cleverly poked with a toothpick to look like buttons; Hence the name Brown Sugar Button Cookie.  However in past years I have been frustrated by poking four holes in dozens upon dozens of cookies – eventually my hand gets tired, I get lazy, and some cookies end up looking less like buttons and more like Brown Sugar Pincushions.  “Wouldn’t it be easier if I had a stamp of sorts?” I pondered as I surveyed my kitchen.  My eyes landed on a discarded wine cork, “Eureka!”
Minutes later the wine-cork button stamp was born!

Because of the Bailey’s & HC, I had planned on using a stock-piled review, but Helpful Husband was keen to get a bottle of Shiraz after our guests had left and the children were in bed (9pm), so after deciding to stick to the South-African section off he went to the liquor store with the cell in hand.  I would like you to imagine being a fellow late-night liquor store customer as Helpful Husband answered the following questions over the phone:
“What are our brand choices?”
“Are any on sale?”
“Alcohol content?”
“Are the labels pretty?”
“Describe them”
I wanted to ask him to read the labels to me, but I restrained.  I already felt that if there is such a thing as wine porn, I had just produced it.

Now, the final decision was hard because there were three wines to pick from, and one was on sale, another had a “cave-like drawing of an ostrich or a flamingo” (he really is helpful, isn’t he?), and the other had a lizard on the label and 14.5% alc./vol.  But, the bird-like design label mystery was too gripping for me to abandon and I had to see it with my own eyes.  The decision was made; husband hung up the phone.

He arrived home.  I eagerly pulled the bottle from the bag, enthusiastically awaiting the moment of bird-discovery when I could ream my husband for his stupidity over what is so clearly a penguin, but to my surprise it is a lizard that greets me from the label.  WTF?  I search my memory for the error – right, I had hung up the phone and left my ever so helpful husband without supervision on his way to the check-out counter = mistake.  Left to his own devices, he, of course, made small talk with the cashier, who, of course, is a Shiraz drinker himself (sure) and didn’t recommend the elusive ostrich-flamingo wine and confused my poor easily lead husband with shiny bottles and tales about how many feet above sea-level the grapes were harvested.

Kumala (South Africa, 2009)
14.5% alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
The ancient soils and Mediterranean Cape create the ideal conditions for producing this ripe, velvety Shiraz with a touch of spice. ALWAYS ENJOY KUMALA WINE IN MODERATION.
I don’t like my wine to lecture me about moderation.

When I first sipped this wine, my first thought was: DUD.  Then I swallowed and was pleasantly surprised.  For this wine, the flavor is in the finish.  It’s a very easy finish too – not too spicy or bitter, but it still loses points for lacking richness.  I was surprised I wasn’t tipsier after one glass, but I certainly felt the effects after finishing ½ the bottle.  I wasn’t too drunk to read before bed, though I did wake up in the middle of the night feeling extreme thirst and a dull ache in my head.  Weird. 

Helpful Husband Tip: “Easy going down”
I’m going to the liquor store today to confirm the species of bird on the other label.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Yellow Tail: Week #14

What a week!  I think there was only one evening this past week when we were all home and had no outside commitments, so it was busy, but unrelated to the hustle was the amount of stress I experienced.  If ever there was a week to commit to drinking, this was it.  Yet, shockingly, I questioned even purchasing a bottle of Saturday Shiraz! (Don't call the rubber truck just yet, let me explain...) 

This Saturday was the ever popular and highly awaited "Supper Club" week.  You see, we have a group of friends (hard to imagine me with one friend, let alone a group of them, eh?) that meet once a month to enjoy an evening of food and laughs over inappropriate dinner conversation.  Each couple wife has a role: the host makes the main, another brings a side, another does a salad, another makes desert, and last, but certainly not least = someone brings the alcohol.  So, you see my dilemma, as this was not my week to bring drinks, I wasn't sure if bringing something of my own would be offensive.  I did it anyway.  And, I was glad I did because there was a mix up and no one brought alcohol!!

This week's selection is Yellow Tail - I did have this one before and remembered liking it, but no other details.  A good friend also mentioned this as a tasty choice (although her bottle was 1/2 the price of mine!! Damn American prices!!!), and I've been thinking about her this week, so I picked it up. 

Honorable Mention:
I enjoyed a glass of Copper Moon at a restaurant on Friday evening.  It was as tasty as I remembered, but I wasn't happy with the $7/glass price tag when I know for a fact the whole bottle is $10.99. 

Yellow Tail (Australia, 2009)
13.5% alc./vol.

I didn't take a picture.  Here is one from the inter-web:

A word from the wine:
I remember being intrigued by the mention of vanilla on the back of the bottle.  Also there was something about a roaring fire and not taking things too seriously...
You see, this is the problem with drinking socially.  I forget to take pictures, I leave the bottle at the host's home, and I don't write down the label notes.  This blog gig is really better suited for drinking alone.

This was really enjoyable.  Yellow Tail is very approachable, smooth, but not rich or overly spicy.  It does have quite a dry aftertaste - perhaps a bit lip smacking, but nothing jarring.  For the taste and body, it surprised me for a 2009 - it is definitely a bit richer than the $10 of the same year, but it is also more expensive so keep that in mind.  The only real downside was despite the 13.5%, I was not feeling any buzz and I had at least half the bottle.   My "Sister is Shiraz" and fellow supper club member agreed that it was tasty and easy to drink, but lacked the tipsy-factor.

Me: "So, husband, what do you think?"
Helpful Husband: "About what?"
Me: exasperated sigh
Helpful Husband: "Oh, the wine?  It's good"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

GatoNegro: Week #13

This week's wine selection is GatroNegro.  It had a cat on the bottle.  It had a pinkish-red splash of color.  It looked fun.  It was cheap. I wanted a break from Australia. 

Tonight I made Christmas cards and drank wine amongst the Scrappies - or Scappers - I can't remember how they prefer to be addressed, but in either case, this subspecies of human enjoy the finicky and festive hobby of scapbooking.  These ladies do not see their lives as a sequence of events, but rather as series a of layouts.  There was much embossing, inking, stamping, mini-attaching, crop-a-dialing, and paper punching.  I believe I have learned enough lingo to survive amongst the scrappies for several days (if not a week) without being exposed, but, of course, this assumes I could keep my mouth shut and/or they would not see my misspellings of their numerous beloved tools and trade techniques - neither of which is likely - scrapies are not ones to overlook details.  I thank the Scrappies for giving me a glimpse into their colorful and mysterious world and welcoming me among their close-knit (glue-dotted?) ranks.  It was fun, and I hope to get my scrap on again someday.

GatroNegro (Chile, 2009)

A word from the wine:
Shit on a stick.  I remembered to take a picture of the bottle before bringing it to the Scappies, but I forgot to write down the label notes!  Okay, I will also admit that I may have lied about the alcohol content (listed above) - I didn't write that down either and am working from memory... which, I'm fairly certain I've already established as faulty. 
ANYWAY, I do remember that the label told me to "uncork a bottle" when clearly the bottle has. no. cork.  Don't they even know what they used to seal their own bottle of wine?

I quite enjoyed my glass of GatroNegro.  We split the bottle six ways, so the glasses were smaller than I am used to, but it still packed a good punch.  Nondescript and inoffensive were the words that came to my mind... but in a good way, if that makes any sense.  It didn't try too hard to be friends with me, nor did it play hard to get.  I appreciate that.  It was smooth and tasty - with no surprises (good or bad).

Scrappy Guest Tester #1: "It grows on you"
Scrappy Guest Tester #2: "This actually used to be one of my favorite wines, and I can see why"
Scrappy Guest Tester #3: "Very good.  I'm shocked it was only $10.99"
Scrappy Guest Tester #4: "You are so clever and funny, please hang out with us more often!"*

*comment may have been altered for blog purposes

So, as you can see the scrappies liked it!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Wally's Hut: Week #12

I'm guessing that the liquor store is already preparing for the busy holiday season - they seem a bit overstaffed.  I roamed the shelves for maybe five minutes and was approached three times by eager employees willing to steer me in the right direction.  I declined all offers of help - I'm not sure why... maybe it is my independence, maybe my social-awkwardness, or maybe, just maybe, I am embarrassed to admit that I am the kind of geek who drinks and then writes about it.  Whatever.  Next time I will ask for a recommendation and try not to scare the poor stock boy while my inept social skills force me to engage him in some random and inappropriate conversation.

I am quickly running out of $10 wines - I really didn't think about how this project would impact my bank account.  Eventually I will need to cough up $20+ for these bottles of Shiraz.  For now, I will stick with the $12-$18 range. 

Anyway, on to this week's selection.  I was attracted to the quirky purple label of Wally's Hut.  I read the label and noted that it contained narrative, which I had been seeking for a few weeks.  Knowing I was being keenly watched by several unproductive employees, it was time to be decisive, fain confidence in my choice, avoid all opportunities for eye contact, and quickly head to the nearest check-out.

Wally's Hut - Australia, 2009

A word from the wine:
"Wally's Hut was built on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River in the 1860's to shelter a lone boundary rider who rode the fence line of this once vast grazing property.  Today, the lone rider is long gone and the landscape has been transformed by vines but Wally's Hut stands as his legacy."
I guess this guy's legacy is that he worked alone and drank a lot to fill the sad void left by his lack of human contact.

This wine is reminiscent of Naked Grape or Fat Bastard - with the exception that I did finish my glass and will most likely finish the bottle tomorrow at supper.  So, it wasn't all bad - it was just boring.  I was surprised to discover an Australian Shiraz that didn't meet my expectation - although maybe this particular brand really was made in a hut using a few grapes and some rotting potatoes... the label does look a bit rustic.  Maybe a bit of a refined moonshine?  Basically, drinking this wine is an experience in drinking alcohol.  It tastes like alcohol.  That is all. 

Helpful Husband Tip: "I like it" - when it comes to alcohol,  is there ANYTHING this man doesn't like?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Nottage Hill: Week #11

I'm going back to work on Monday.  So, I had to do some grocery shopping on a Saturday.  A serious departure from my usual calm Monday morning shopping routine - well as calm as shopping with two kids can be.  Why am I telling you all this?  Well, it meant that I was already at the store, and the store has a little liquor store within it.  So, I couldn't justify a second stop at the free-standing liquor store - which meant I had less selection.  Because of this, I decided to stick with a sure-fire bet and hunt for my Shiraz in the tiny Australian section.  As usual, I browsed for the sale items first.  I came upon two that fit my price point and considered purchasing both to drown my "back to school" blues, but I showed some self-restraint and decided on the sophisticated, yet cottage-y feel of the Nottage Hill label.

Now that I am home, I notice the alcohol content and realize that was not a part of my comparison in-store.  D'oh.  But, it is on the high end, so I doubt the other bottle would have been superior in that area. 

Nottage Hill (Australia, 2007)

A word from the wine:
This full bodied dry red wine shows spicy varietal fruit flavours typical of this classic Australian style. 
I'm not finding a lot of figurative language on labels anymore... those first few bottles seemed to have it, but I guess it was just a fluke.  In any case, I think this literal description will fit the bill.

This was good wine.  It wasn't fabulous, but it was good.  Nottage Hill is definitely tangy - there is a lip-smacking spice, but it isn't jarring, and it doesn't change or get more spicy in the aftertaste.  It isn't exactly a true peppery taste, but it is interesting and enjoyable.  I also found I could "taste" the alcohol content... it kind of evaporated off my tongue, so on account of that, I didn't find it particularly rich.  However, this shit is p.o.t.e.n.t.  I was surely feeling my one glass with dinner.  The problem was, later in the evening, I had two glasses, and quite frankly, I felt I had skipped over being drunk and gone straight to feeling hungover.  I'm not sure that's what I'm looking for.

Helpful Husband Tip: "Yum"
Now that he's on to me, it is getting harder to find a good husband comment.  He tries too hard and says seriously non-husband things like "Exquisite!" - so I have to ignore those over thought mutterings and really wait for the true feelings to come out.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jackson Triggs: Week #10

This week I am kickin' it old school.  Jackson Triggs was my favorite wine back when I wasn't a total alcoholic.  This may surprise some of you, but, I didn't always like drinking wine.  (I'll give you a moment to pick your jaws off the floor... done?)  Okay, so back before my youngest was born I decided to try and be a grown up type person and like wine.  It was rough going.  Somewhere along the line, I discovered that I like Jackson Triggs Shiraz, like actually wanted to finish my glass - which was a departure from my usual pour and ignore method of wine tasting.  It must have been in late 2008 or early 2009, because I remember getting a bottle of "my favorite wine" for Christmas last year.... and well, 2009 wasn't a big wine drinking year for me (on account of me being occupied 36 of the 52 weeks with growing a human).  Basically, it was the only wine I would drink until early this year when I decided maybe I just like Shiraz in general and started to expand my wine-drinking comfort zone to include other brands and grapes.

Anyway, I was at the liquor store and was overcome by a nostalgic feeling and decided to give my "gateway wine" another shot.  I'm quite interested to taste the good old Jackson Triggs again.  I haven't had it in almost a year, and I'm curious to see if I still like it, or if it served its purpose of introducing me to the world of Shiraz and is no longer needed on my wine rack (which, by the way, is always empty). 

Jackson Triggs (Canada, ????)
13% alc/vol

A word from the wine:
"Jackson Triggs Unity expresses our wine maker's art of blending premium wines from the most renowned wine-producing regions in Canada and around the world...  Our unity Shiraz has aromas of raspberry, blackberry and hints of black pepper."
I guess I didn't stand by last week's statement of picking a wine with a more figurative label description - maybe next week.  Hey!  Did you know that this bottle has a weird code on the label that you can scan with your cell phone for additional tasting notes and offers??!!  Technology is crazy town.

First of all, the bottle has been redesigned since my last tasting... also, I don't remember this whole "unity" ordeal, so maybe this isn't exactly the wine I used to know and love.  One really nice addition, though, is a pull tab to remove the foil - no messing with cutting it!  After the first few initial sips, I can see why I used to like this wine.  It is very smooth, and very easy to drink.  There are no jarring flavors, bitterness, or long lasting after-tastes that would frighten my past non-wine-loving self.  It is a bit funny though, because my present Shiraz-sipping-self LOVES a wine with a good peppery aftertaste.  However, I can say that I still enjoy this wine and, as I type, I have a little buzz that makes me even more amorous. 

Helpful husband tip: "This is a great pouring wine"
(I think he is trying to be more "refined" in his comments... EPIC fail.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Casillero del Diablo: Week #9

We're on week #9 and I have to admit I am finding the selection process more difficult.  I find myself wanting to grab those bottles of Black Swan and Wolf Blass to enjoy again, and there are so many on sale which is also enticing.  Do I splurge or cheap out?  Do I venture into a new continent or stick with Australia (which has yet to fail me)?  How can I think with this four year old child babbling on and on and on with his flailing arms getting frighteningly close to glass bottle displays?  How can I make a decision with my husband making contradictory and useless comments?  It's a tough life, I know.

So, we (the whole happy family) walked to the liquor store (in the rain).  It was slightly embarrassing when I got a chastising look from an older lady after Drew's comment of "Hey Mom! Get this one!! This is the stuff you always like to drink! It's your favorite!"  From now one no one but the baby is allowed to come - until he can talk and/or no longer be properly restrained in a stroller, at which point he will immediately be cut from wine selecting ventures.  Helpful husband was quite pushy - and I (in a manner quite unlike me) gave in. Clearly,  I was in a post- 4 year old - birthday party - at an indoor playground -stupor and will claim temporary insanity for my surprisingly submissive nature.  Hubby's pick was a Chilean wine - and I felt it appropriate as:
a) I haven't yet reviewed a Chilean Shiraz
b) it is relevant to this week in history (Chile's mine rescue)
c) it was moderately priced and on sale ($12.99)
d) the alcohol content is 13.5%
e) I could not provide a viable alternative

Casillero del Diablo (Chile, 2008)

A word from the wine:
"A fruity, plump Shiraz full of forest fruits, bitter chocolate and a hint of black pepper"
Next week I may chose the wine based on the use of figurative language.  It is more entertaining. Although I do enjoy picturing the "forest fruits."

My research discovered that this wine was produced by Don Melchor de Concha y Toro (how's THAT for a name?) more than 100 years ago (wait... isn't it a 2008?).  He kept a special reserve of wine just for himself, and in order to keep others away he proclaimed the Devil  lived in his cellar.  Casillero del Diablo = Cellar of the Devil.  Oh, in case you're wondering what my research entails, basically it means not only did I read the BACK of the label, I also read the FRONT.  True Story. 

This wine was alright.  I drank it, I got a buzz, and I didn't complain too much.  It had a pretty short length of flavor, and was definitely more bitter than peppery (I guess true to the label's description).  I thought it was a bit plain, and I wouldn't describe it as "plump" - but the flavor was okay if a bit of a bitter lip smack is your thing. 

Helpful Husband Tip: "It's kinda like that other time when you said that thing about another wine.  Like it tasting like vinegar"

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Robertson Winery: Week #8

This wine found me.  Well, a sample lady found me.  I already had Wolf Blass Yellow Label in the stroller (What? Babies find liquor stores amusing) when I was beckoned by the sample lady.  She had a SHIRAZ people!!  This does not happen everyday.  Last week she tried unsuccessfully to get me to drink whiskey at 10am, but this week she had me by the balls.  She said it was the "driest" wine (do I like dry wines?), but the kicker was it was on sale AND that had a stronger alcohol content than most (14%!) - SOLD.  Oh, and I liked the taste too.  I also told her about my little "project" and she seemed intrigued (and her interest was after I put the bottle in the stroller!) so maybe I need some little cards to hand out and confirm my Internet-geek/lonely-alcoholic status.

Robertson Winery (South Africa, 2009)

A word from the wine:
"At Robertson Winery we source our grapes from 43 specially selected grape growers.  Vines are grown in the deep, cool alluvial and rich lime Karoo soils."
Anyone else feel that if you're using grapes from 43 growers, then the selection process is not so "special" after all??  I think I'd be more impressed if they only used grapes from 1 elite grower, know what I mean?  I also don't like that I had to look up two words from this label in order to understand the sentence(alluvial = silty; Karoo = semi-desert region of South Africa).  I like it when wine makes me feel smart, not stupid like I really am.  Isn't that what drinking is all about?

This is not a thick, rich wine.  It has more of a vinegar-like quality to its aftertaste, so it is more sharp than smooth going down.  BUT, I still quite liked it - it had a good amount of flavor and wasn't boring.  Plus, I could really feel that extra .5% alcohol content, which is always appreciated!

Helpful Husband Tip: "It's good"... and (20 minutes later).... "certainly flavorful"
Gee... he's really starting to open up.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Las Moras: Week #7

Las Moras was a recommendation from a good friend's mother, and I haven't yet ventured into the realm of Argentinean Shiraz, so I decided to go for it.  She had given me two picks, and I originally had the other in hand at the liquor store, but I was swayed by (what else?) the label.  The other label looked like someone had typed it up in Word '98 and printed it off their ink jet.  I realize I am being shallow here, so in a lame attempt to seem more substantial, I will also note that Las Moras won the IWSC Argentinean Wine Producer Trophy in both 2005 & 2008 and I didn't see any such accreditations on the other bottle.  AND it was 14% vs. 13%.  So there!  In any case, on the heels of my $18.99 bottle of Wolf Blass, I knew I wanted to cheap out this week and both bottles were $9.99.  I really had an internal struggle with the pricier Las Moras: Black Label Reserve ($13.49 - a 2007) but decided to stick to my frugal guns. 

Las Moras (Argentina, 2009)

A word from the wine:
"Powerful yet elegant, with sweet tannins leading to a long, linfering finish"
Hmmm... I triple checked and the label does indeed read "linFering finish" - is this a typo or a wine-word that I am unfamiliar with?  Oh, someone will have to explain "tannins" to me as well.

I quite like this as a red wine and would drink it again, but I don't think I would reach for it if I was in dire need of a shiraz - it was just missing that special pep.  It was very smooth and easy to drink, though, and very nice "tipsy factor" - definitely felt after one glass.  I also thought it was more fruity than the others I've tried to this point.  It did have a nice flavor, but it didn't change or linger (or linfer?).  I do think it was a good quality wine for under $10, and might be a good option for someone who doesn't like a spicy shiraz. 

Helpful Husband Tip: "Seems really wet.  Does that make sense?" 
Then he proceeded to pour our second glasses with the cap still on the bottle.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wolf Blass Yellow Label: Week #6

I've enjoyed Wolf Blass wines before.  I cannot remember which specific variety, but I know it was Shiraz and I know it was good.  Feeling particularly celebratory today (having retrieved my diamond engagement ring from the depths of lost-forever-land) I decided to spring for the Yellow Label, even though the Red Label was on sale.  This is most unlike me, I assure you.  So, an $18.99 bottle!!  Is that swanky or what? I will admit I am still slightly confused by the name "Wolf" Blass in conjunction with a picture of an eagle on the label.  What do you think that is about?  Oh, also of note, Wold Blass also won the Internation Wine Challenge "Red Winemaker of the Year" in '08. 

I also wasn't sure if Red Label was allowed since it was a Shiraz Grenache or a Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon... are blends allowed on this venture of mine?  I ask you to help me decided!  Please vote in the poll to your right!

Wolf Blass: Yellow Label (Australia, 2007)

A word from the wine:
"The Yellow Label Shiraz displays attractive plum, spice and pepper characters, married with a subtle integrated oak, creating a rich, well structured wine with a good length of flavour"
Serious stuff.  No metaphors or similes or other foolishness here. 

This is a nice wine.  I knew it would be because I smelled it from across the room when the Husband opened it up.  Very rich - and true to its description as far as "length of flavour" goes.  I also really liked that while the initial feel of the wine was rich and velvety, it almost seemed like it melted into its true peppery flavor - a very smooth and easy transformation.  No buzz after the first glass, though - so I guess that is the only downside. 

Helpful Husband: Tip "I really like this one... mumble mumble mumble"
Me: "WHAT?"
HH: "Best one so far"

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Copper Moon, Moonlight Harvest: Week #5

Coming off two weeks and three bottles of disappointing wine, I am feeling defeated.  So, this week's selection is a wine I have tried and drank before (and liked).  I feel it is more than fair to review wines I have already tasted as long as they have yet to appear on this blog.  Plus, isn't the label nice?  (And, there isn't even an animal on it!!)  Hopefully I still like it, because I am really looking forward to drinking (and enjoying) a whole bottle of wine.  Well, okay, I might share it with the husband.  Actually, after losing my wedding rings today, I may have the bottle to myself - seriously, why do random things always happen to me?

Copper Moon: Moonlight Harvest (Canada, ???)

Note to self: Take pictures of the bottles before they emptied.  It looks better, and makes me look like less of a lush.  Also, why do the wines from Canada seem to lack dates?  I'm guessing that means they are 2010 wines?  Or what? 

A word from the wine:
"Harvested under the light on the moon, this unique wine delivers the unexpected- a cool fresh taste that captures the mystery of the night itself"
A tall, dark, and handsome stranger!

Now this is what I'm talking about.  It isn't the same richness as Black Swan, but it similar in quality to the Little Penguin - it has that nice zippy aftertaste and that feeling of warmth spreading through your body as you swallow.  I also like that I felt tipsy after only one glass (and that was with supper!) - so I know it is an all-around-feel-good wine.  Bonus:  It was 10.99!!  Seriously cheap and yummy.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Naked Grape & Fat Bastard: Week #4 *Special Bachelorette Edition!*

In order to maintain this project's claim of enhancing my quality of life, I decided to load up the baby boy in the stroller and walk to the liquor store - so now wine is making me healthy.  Saturday was the long awaited Bachelorette Party - and in honor of this special occasion, I decided to try to choose a wine that went with the theme of a naughty girls' night out.  I was disappointed not to find anything with a truly scandalous name!  The closest I could come was Naked Grape - I guess nakedness is as risque as grapes can get.

Also this week, I have a special "Guest-Tester" - my sister in Shiraz, if you will.  She also volunteered to pick up a 2nd bottle (what a smart girl!) to give us a little variety.  So, "Guest-Tester's" choice is Fat Bastard - with such a cute little hippo on the label, who could resist?

Naked Grape (Canada, no date??)

A word from the wine:
"Our winemakers has chosen not to oak age the wines, allowing the crisp fruit flavor and the true varietal characteristics to come through"
So, I guess we will see if I like oak.

Fat Bastard (France, 2007)

A word from the wine:
"Now zat iz what you call eh Phet bast-ard! (read with a strong French accent)  This very British expression perfectly described the wine's wonderful color and round, rich palate so that's what they called it"
I don't get it. 

Uh, we didn't like either one.  Both were boring.  Plain red wine.  Where is the Shiraz spice?  You would think with two bottles, we would have at least wanted to finish one... or attempted to.  But, alas, we drank only one glass a piece from each bottle.  I will admit, and my sister-in-Shiraz agrees, that we both liked Fat Bastard's taste at first- but we hated it more and more with each sip... it was like spotting a hottie across the room, but as you move in, you realize the error of your way.  The Naked Grape honestly tasted very similar, I was expecting something a bit different since it is "unoaked" but it was more of the same.  Neither of these wines were for us - it was a BIG disappointment, but we drowned our sorrows in alcohol of a different sort.

Guest-Tester's Review: "Can we drink something else?"

"Something else" consisted of Coconut Rum, Sour Puss, Grenadine, and some sort of Juice - plus several Jello-Shots and a couple glasses Dominican Rum Punch - so while the wine sucked, the rest of the evening was fantastic!

PS: If anyone is reading this (other than my mom) please comment!  The only thing worse than having no comments is only having comments from your mother.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

the Little Penguin: Week #3

Husband picked up this week's selection  - this was one that I was debating last week and he actually remembered (or fluked out)!  I love the little cheery waddling penguin on the label - the red splash makes me feel like drinking it on the deck.  We're still hanging out in Australia and sticking to the animal theme it seems... and, did you know that penguins live in Australia?  Seriously?!  I had no sweet clue - see, wine is educational.

the Little Penguin (Australia - 2009)

A word from the wine:
"Little Penguins are very sociable and often gather to forage for delicacies.  We invite you to do the same"
I like being a penguin.  Does strolling the aisles of the liquor store count as foraging?  Or do I need to waddle?  Off to google what kind of goodies Penguins deem "delicacies." (PS: sardines, anchovies, squid and the like)

 I enjoyed this wine - even more so since I had just been subject to a 40min tantrum-scream-fest by a certain (very stubborn) 4 year old.  It was easy drinking and tasted great with a good kick - and the peppery taste really hung around after each sip.  It didn't seem to have as strong of an effect alcohol-wise as the other thus far, but I drank my glass with a supper of pasta & meat sauce, so perhaps as an accompaniment to a lighter meal or solo it would have been stronger.  It definitely had a more casual feel than Black Swan.  But, I will buy this again.

Helpful Husband Tip: "All these wines taste the same"

Black Swan: Week #2

After the African disaster of last week, I decided to head over to the Australian section of my local liquor store for tonight's venture.  While there I discovered that I definitely judge a wine by its label and I am drawn to wines named after animals.  So, these facts alone left me to choose Black Swan from the shelf.

Black Swan (Australia - 2008)

A word from the wine:
"The feeling of leaving work at three on a Thursday, the rush of having your favorite cafe name a dessert after you"
A dessert named after ME?  This wine knows the innermost feelings of my soul.

I loved  this one.  It is going on my personal favorites list.  Black Swan was very smooth going down, and left a great taste on the tongue - definitely richer and more substantial than last week's contender - and had a fantastic Shiraz zing.  Drinking this wine felt indulgent, sinful even.

Helpful Husband Says: "You only like it because you picked it out"

Sebeka: Week #1

I am three weeks into this project, yet this is my first official review post.  Clearly I can procrastinate anything... well, I guess I didn't procrastinate the drinking portion of my task - I'm right on track there.  .

Week #1 was husband's choice.  He brought home a bottle of Sebeka - it had a promotion to win an African Safari or something, so that was the attraction.  It has a Cheetah on the bottle, I like the label enough, but probably wouldn't have picked it up on that alone.  Although I chased the Cheetah in my Safari Jeep on their website and it did entertain me for a few minutes... I couldn't catch that damn thing.

Sebeka (South Africa - 2009)

A word from the wine:
"South Africa.  Where the Cheetah hunts.  Where nature reigns supreme.  Where Sebeka was born"
Does this sequence of short sentences seem LAME to anyone else?

I'm not a fan of this wine.  Even though it did have a good hit - I definitely felt the first glass, then felt the 2nd one a few hours later - it was really, well, weird.  The taste was alright, it went down pretty smoothly, but it didn't have that Shiraz spice.  There was just no kick.  It seemed really thin to me... like watery... it did not seem to have any substance.  While sipping it throughout dinner, I likened it to drinking rubbing alcohol - I could feel it evaporating off my tongue as soon as I sent it down the hatch.  Weird, just weird.

PS:  Husband said "It's good enough.  I like it - the only reason you don't like it is because I picked it out" - helpful.  Very helpful.

The Project

Everyone and their dog has started a blog (hey that rhymed! - I'm good at this writing gig).  People challenge themselves to a task - home cooking, exercising, weight loss, home renovations, etc, and write about it hoping people without anything better to do will read their words and stroke their ego. 

Well, I'm not very good at sticking to things.  I get distracted easily and lose interest.  I am a really awesome excuse-maker - I can justify ice cream for breakfast and not miss a beat.  I needed to think of something I could really invest in, something that would be a positive addition to my life.  I started thinking.... I have two young boys (4 & 10months - I'm constantly wiping bums and tripping over Lego), a husband who was laid off in June and is heading back to school next month, and I am on maternity leave but returning to my job as a high school English teacher in 8 weeks.  So, what could possibly improve my life?  I thought, I meditated, I consulted with my other personalities, and all paths lead to the same destination: the answer, my friends, is more alcohol, of course!

Here is the project:  Every Saturday I vow to test a new bottle of my favorite red, Shiraz.  It is going to be a difficult mission, but I am confident I will rise to the occasion in order to help others choose the best bottle (I'm selfless like that).  Actually it will really serve as a way for me to remember what I like, because, frankly, my kids are lucky if I remember to feed them.  My husband has generously volunteered to help me polish off each bottle - and I hope to share some Shiraz with Guest Testers along the way. 

I do not proclaim to be a wine expert.  I know nothing about the properties of wine or the process of turning a fruit that I feed my kids as a snack into a beautiful beverage that they can only watch me consume.  So, you won't find any talk of hind notes or aromas or whatever else wine-gurus talk about.  Here, on my blog, you will find only layman's terms of yummy-ness, tipsy-factor, pretty labels and price.