Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stone Cellars: Week #24

This week we have another wine from California.  There was no selection process as this was yet another gift from my Dad - and this one wasn't even accompanied by a socially awkward note!  He simply handed it over after a sledding excursion.

Stone Cellars by Beringer (California, 2008)
13.5% alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
"Our Shiraz pops with vibrant fresh blackberry flavors with a hints of black plum and spice leading to a luscious, smooth finish"
Mmmmm... luscious.  And, I like the prospect of the wine popping.

You know, now that I am on week #24, I am thinking I should have taken better records of the tasting notes.  It might be good to know while I'm standing amid shelves of Shiraz whether I prefer a blackberry or black plum flavor.

Yummy - this is a great balance between smooth and spice.  It was nice and dry and easy to drink.  And, despite the 13.5alc./vol. I was definitely feeling my glass with supper - whoa.  I had actually planned on having a glass or two once the kids were in bed, but Helpful Husband was out playing poker and I didn't feel comfortable being in charge of sick children with this wine around.  Don't worry, I'll finish it up tomorrow!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Barefoot: Week #23

Last week I hit Spain for the first time in this Shiraz journey, so today I decided to visit another newbie: The United States (and, to be specific, California).  Of course I was also swayed by the low price and availability at the grocery liquor store, but those are minor details.  In fact, I have a canvas bag that advertises this particular brand - it has special pockets on the side to place wine bottles!  Actually, I'm pretty sure I stole it from my mother.  Hi Mom!  Thanks for the bag!

Barefoot (California - US, no date)

I guess you can tell that the bottle is half empty - perhaps that is the reason for the poor photography.
A word from the wine:
"Barefoot Shiraz is full of jammy, blackberry flavors and is velvety smooth. It's perfect with BBQ food, steaks, chicken, pasta with tomato sauces and pizza."
Usually, I just write an excerpt from the label notes, but this is the whole shebang.  Not a very exciting label in either words or graphics- I like the foot, but the orange doesn't do it for me.  The front of the bottle does proudly display a gold medal "2007 Grand Harvest Award" - but I'm not sure bragging about an award you won 3+ years ago is the way to go.

This wine was very casual, and with only 13%alc./vol. the tipsy factor was a tad lacking.  There was definitely no richness or length of finish, and I wouldn't describe it as "velvety smooth," BUT it was certainly peppery, which redeems it for me.  It almost felt prickly on the tongue, and I enjoyed that spicy sensation.  Good enough to share the spotlight with some yummy accompaniment (I had bacon wrapped scallops!), but not good enough to have a starring role.  Who am I kidding?  I never drink without eating.

Helpful Husband Comment: "Mmmm... bacon wrapped scallops"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mad Dogs & Englishmen: Week #22

First of all, I appreciate the effort some readers extended into their comments.  Thank you.  As for the wine-suggestion (Wyndam's Bin 555 Shiraz) I have tasted it a few times before and a review is waiting to be published!  Please, keep the suggestions coming!!

I promised to steer clear of Australia this week.  My original plan was to make a quick run into the liquor store with the baby, head to the South African section and grab that elusive bird-themed label that Helpful Husband could not successfully distinguish as ostrich or flamingo (or follow through with purchasing either).  But, the baby had other plans.  He saw the cart. He wanted to get in the cart.  He wanted me to push him around in said cart.  Whateve.  I can handle perusing the wine aisles.  Baby might have issues later in life when he finds himself wandering the aisles of the liquor store searching for a nurturing motherly comfort, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

After some baby giggles and strange stares, I found myself in Spain.  Well, the Spain shelf - but this is as close to travel as I can get.  There were no straight-up bottles of Shiraz in Spain, but I did find three Shiraz blends.  I was intrigued by a bottle exhibiting the silhouette of a bull (the same logo was on a travel map my parents brought back from their vacation in Spain last year), but after reading the label notes, I was swayed by the word "vanilla."  I've noticed during my journey to alcoholism that I tend to really like wines that contain a hint of vanilla (I can't taste it - I only know it is there because the bottle tells me so).  So, here we have this week's selection:

Mad Dogs & Englishmen: Shiraz Tempranillo Carignan (Spain, 2008)
14% alc./vol.
A word from the wine:
"Southern Spain is hot!  Well-bred reds like Mad Dogs & Englishmen can only be made in such an extreme climate with expert vineyard management and wine making. Try won't bite!"
Okay, clearly I like that they included the lame "bite" pun.  I also appreciate the sudden exclamation about Spain's temperature.

I was surprised by this bottle of wine.  I guess my expectations were slightly low, and I was worried about the blend factor.  Upon first sip, only one word came to mind: dry - which is a positive in my book.  I was happy that although the Shiraz shared almost equal spotlight with the other two grape varieties (Shiraz = 34%, Tempranillo & Carignan = 33% each), there was definitely a good hint of that classic Shiraz pep.  I was also impressed by the high tipsy factor!  All in all, I think this is a solid choice - especially for something a bit different from the usual Shiraz. 

Helpful Husband Tip: "I don't know what to say"
He's clearly cracking under the pressure.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jacob's Creek: Week #21

Not much interesting to report about this week's selection process.  I was in the little liquor store and there were not many brands of Shiraz that I haven't yet tasted, so there was not much choice.  Basically, I picked up Jacob's Creek because it was the only mid-priced one I could find that was not a blend.  My interest was peaked by the appearance of a new Yellow Label reserve - but the helpful cashier informed me it would be $4off next week, so I decided to wait and save a few bucks.  Although, I think next week I will have to make a point to venture out of Australia - I've had three in a row now.... actually four if you count a yet-to-be-published-stock-piled review. 

In other news - during the last week of school, there was a present left in my mailbox from a "Secret Santa."  It was Shiraz chocolate!  Isn't that the most thoughtful and intriguing thing?  I thought it was pretty cool.  This week I decided to taste it.  Well, thank you Secret Santa, whoever you are, I really enjoyed opening and trying this unique treat - and it was so nice of you to see it and think of me!  I still have most of it left, if anyone else wants to give it a shot.  I can say, that while I love both Shiraz and chocolate, and while I've even enjoyed a glass of Shiraz with an assortment of chocolate treats, I think maybe they should never formally conjugate their relationship by becoming one entity ever again.  The chocolate tasted fruity, and I'm not into that - but some weirdos, like my mom, do.  So, if you are weird, you should try it!

Now to touch on another subject for a moment.  What the hell is up with the lack of comments?  I haven't had a single comment on any of my last four posts!!!  Does no one read this blog?  Does no one care?  Why don't some of the random readers from the UK, Croatia, or Indonesia post a comment?  Suggest a wine, stroke my ego, take me down a few notches or promote your own agenda.  Whatever - just say SOMETHING.  It doesn't even have to relate to my blog.

Jacob's Creek (Australia, 2007)
14% alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
"With ripe blackberry and plum fruit flavours, the palate is medium bodied in structure, with good mid palate fruit sweetness and soft, velvety Shiraz tannins through to the finish."The truth is I forgot to record the info from this label and then my helpful husband gave all our empty wine bottles to his mom.  Sorry.

I liked this wine and enjoyed the whole bottle by myself (over the course of three days - a real sign of restraint).  It wasn't a favorite, but it was a basic, good Australian Shiraz.  I did find it a bit sharp - perhaps even a bit acidic, but not enough to turn me off it completely.  I liked that it had a good hint of pepper, and it packed a pretty good punch as far as the "tipsy" factor goes.  Though,  if I am going to spend $15 on a bottle of Shiraz, there are others I'd prefer to invest in. 

As previously mentioned, I didn't share this bottle with the helpful husband.  But, on the third day, I had him take a sip because I thought maybe the wine had "turned" after being opened for three days.
Helpful Husband Tip: "Seems fine to me"

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Angove: Week #20

Wow - week 20!  I'm well on my way to becoming a card carrying member of AA. 

Helpful Husband picked this one out, and you know what that means: he spoke to a salesperson.  He highly recommended the Angove and said it was one he kept going back to.  It will be the first Shiraz blend that I will review on the blog.  Apparently it has "received a heart-warming tickle from the little known white Viognier grape" - so we'll see how that goes.

Angove: Shiraz Viognier (Australia, 2008)
14.5% alc./vol.

A word from the wine:
"When fermented together the small amount of Viognier takes the Shiraz out of its comfort zone and into a whole new stratosphere... Careful oak maturation has allowed the two varieties to conjugate their relationship and emerge as one."
Finally!  Label notes that include a grape love story! These grapes are conjugating their relationship people - how beautiful is that?

This is the weirdest wine I have ever sent passed my lips.  Whoa.  It is like being served a grilled cheese sandwich, but having it taste like peanut butter.  This wine is a very deep red/purple color, but it smells and tastes like white wine.  I don't usually drink white wine, but I will say that the slight Shiraz (or at least red) element did redeem this wine for me.  I think it had an interesting taste that I wouldn't mind trying again, but it isn't a favorite by any means... maybe more of a conversation piece than an excellent wine.

Helpful Husband Tip: "Weird, and I don't know if I like it."
My brother also tasted this and commented: "Well, it is bizarre, but I think it is more hit than miss"