Toasted Head Chardonnay

Toasted Head

Chardonnay

2011

(Dunnighan Hills, California)

On Bottle/Website:

*Brilliant, gold straw color

* Pears, citrus, apple blossoms, lemon, toasty coconut, peach, pineapple and cinnamon

* Barrel fermentation and aging on the lees contribute a creamy mouth feel and toasty finish

* Tastes great with poultry, seafood in a lemon-butter sauce and creamy pasta

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, bright, gold, low concentration, no rim variation, low viscosity

Nose: clean, medium intensity, youthful, oak, white flowers, peach, nuts, honey, spices, mushroom

Palate: dry, medium bodied, peach, red apple, banana, honey, spices, mushroom, medium alcohol, medium acidity, medium plus finish, medium plus complexity

This is a solid wine that was smooth, mild and enjoyable.  It did not pair well with seared rare ahi tuna (which I assumed would be the case!), but I perceived a hint of honey and sweetness in the wine after eating.

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Trivento Amado Sur Malbec

Trivento Amado Sur

Malbec

2011

(Mendoza, Argentina)

On Bottle/Website:

* 78% Malbec: From Luján de Cuyo. The Soul – rich, enveloping texture and dark, luscious fruit

* 12% Bonarda: From Maipú. The Style – a touch of Old World structure and vibrant color
* 10% Syrah: From Tupungato. The Spirit – lively spice and flamboyant fresh berry flavors. It’s the stroke of madness that binds the soul and style
* Pairs well with breaded provolone, lamb ribs, mozzarella and prosciutto
* Deep red in color with violet and crimson
* Fresh red fruits, combined with notes of clove, smoke, vanilla and toast
* Smooth tannins and pleasurable finish

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, bright, ruby, purple on the edges, high concentration, rim variation, medium viscosity

Nose: clean, medium minus intensity, youthful, leather, spicy (I need to refine my spice palate because I was unable to pinpoint specific spices), rhubarb, dark fruits, dried fruit flavors

Palate: dry, definitive wood flavor, tobacco, dark fruits, spicy, medium minus alcohol, low acidity, medium minus tannins, medium finish, medium complexity

This wine paired well with a mini-burger with aged cheddar and ranch style greens.

Wine Cube Sauvignon Blanc

Wine Cube (Target Brand)

Sauvignon Blanc

2011

(St. Helena, Napa County, California)

On Box/Website:

* dazzlingly sophisticated, but completely down to earth

* tropical aromas, bright citrus and melon flavors

* crisp, refreshing finish

* vented and bottled by Trinchero Family Estates

* offers delicious, high quality wine with color, aromas and flavors providing fresh, full-bodied tastes

* guarantee the last glass will be as fresh as the first

* one cube equals two bottles

* fresh for up to four weeks

*13% alcohol

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, bright, low concentration, no rim variation, low viscosity

Nose: clean, low intensity, youthful, lemon, citrus, asparagus, grass

Palate: light, medium bodied, confirms nose, mild flavor, medium alcohol, medium minus acidity, short finish, low complexity

For a boxed wine, this Sauvignon Blanc delivered to my decidedly low expectations.  The wine established a very light, mellow flavor.  Non-aggressive and simple on the palate, this would be a decent wine to pack for a picnic or day on the beach.  Ease of transport and no glass are the selling features for this wine.  Although, in all honesty, this wine was more pleasing than many bottled wines I have tasted.

Layer Cake Chardonnay

Layer Cake

Chardonnay

2011

(Central Coast, California)

On Bottle/Website:

* Described wine as a layer cake, if properly made with fruit, mocha and chocolate, hits of spice and rich

* 14.1% alcohol

* http://www.layercakewines.com

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, straw, bright, low concentration, no rim variation, medium plus viscosity

Nose: clean, lemon, grapefruit, grass, cinnamon, autumn spices, almonds

Palate: dry, medium bodied, fruit confirms nose, medium plus alcohol, medium plus acidity, medium plus finish, medium plus complexity

This wine was an exceptional value, ringing in under $20.  It was soft and pleasing on the palate with complex flavors and a nice finish.  I would definitely purchase this wine again for a nice chicken dinner.

Salmon Run Riesling

Salmon Run

Riesling

2011

(Finger Lakes)

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On Bottle/Website:

* 12% Alcohol

* Konstantin D. Frank

* Accompany with fish and fowl

* http://www.drfrankwines.com

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, day bright, straw, low concentration, no rim variation, medium viscocity

Nose: clean, medium plus intensity, youthful, citrus, lemon, grapefruit, lime, grass, asparagus, white flowers, slate

Palate: Off dry, light bodied, confirms nose, citrusy without a lot of acidity, medium alcohol, medium minus acidity, medium minus finish, medium complexity

I have read a fair amount about Dr. Frank and was curious about his wines from the Finger Lakes.  He is credited with changing the landscape of New York vineyards and wineries from mediocre to a level that is highly regarded today. Dr. Frank was a professor of plant science and held a Ph.D. in viticulture.  He believed that proper rootstock, not the cold climate was the reason for the failure of vinifera grape varieties in the area.  The vines he established are the backbone for his well-renowned wines.

The first time I purchased this bottle, I drank it while visiting with my cousin in one sitting and didn’t take notes.  I knew that I enjoyed the wine immensely because the bottle was finished and she had been drinking cider beer.

I recently purchased it again and took notes this time.  To me it possessed a great balance of being crisp and refreshing with a hint of sweetness.  I think it would pair well with a lot of dishes, but I tried it with some fresh, homemade mango salsa and I didn’t think that they paired well.  I drank the wine alone and then switched to a Sauvignon Blanc to drink with the chips and salsa.

When I first heard someone speak of Riesling as their favorite wine, partially because itcould be paired with anything, I didn’t understand the concept because I thought of Riesling in terms of cloyingly sweet types of wine.  As my knowledge is being opened to  the drier types of Riesling, I am excited to taste more options and see what it has to offer!  With these types of Riesling, I can see myself becoming an avid fan!

Pomelo Sauvignon Blanc

Pomelo

Sauvignon Blanc

2011

(Oakville, California)

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On Bottle/Website:

* 13% Alcohol

* Definition of Pomelo: giant citrus fruit native to Malaysia and thought to be an ancestor to the grapefruit

* Reminiscent of coral pink tangy juice from a pomelo

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, bright, light straw, low concentration, no rim variation, medium viscosity

Nose: clean, medium intensity, young, pineapple, peach, lemon, grapefruit, white flowers

Palate: dry, medium body, lemon and grapefruit prevalent flavors, medium alcohol, medium acidity, medium plus finish, medium plus complexity

I had read about this wine being a great California Sauvignon Blanc value, so I picked up a bottle.  One of the first nights the weather started being nice enough to sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine after work, I opened this bottle up to try.  My friend had made mango salsa that we were savoring and then topping our fish tacos with later.

I loved how the flavors of this wine danced with the acidity and flavors of the salsa.  My friend, on the other hand, did not care for the pairing.  The flavor of the wine turned lime-centric and sour while drinking with the salsa and fish tacos.  To me, it almost made it taste similar to a margarita.  The sourness also reminded me of a crisp green apple.  A few sips after we were finished eating, the wine seemed to mellow again since it did not have the flavors of the food to accompany it. I rather enjoyed the drastic change in flavor, as I found it both interesting and delicious.

Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay

Chateau St. Jean

Chardonnay

2011

(Sonoma County)

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On Bottle:

* http://www.chateaustjean.com

* Pear, lemon cream and hazelnut

* 13.4% ABV

My notes:

Appearance: clear, bright, yellow, medium concentration, medium viscosity

Nose: clean, medium intensity, aroma/youthful, citrus, lemon, golden apple, pear, cream, butter, almond, subtle oak

Palate: dry, light to medium bodied, confirmed fruit and non-fruit, medium alcohol, medium minus acidity, medium finish, medium complexity

Manyana Tempranillo

Manyana

Tempranillo

2011

(Carinena)

Unknown

On Bottle/Website:

* 12.5% alcohol

* Vines planted over 2,000 years ago by the Romans

* Juicy classic saturated with wild black fruits, cherries and a hint of savory spices

* Perfect with all kinds of meat and veggies

* Pairs well with the classic regional dish of olives and salted almonds

My Notes:

Appearance- clear, bright, purple, low concentration, rim variation (lighter purple on the edges), low viscosity

Nose- clean, weak intensity, young, black cherry, blackberry, plum, cinnamon, unidentified spices, red rose

Palate- dry, light bodied, confirms nose, much less fruit in the taste than on the nose, more dark flowery and spices on palate, medium alcohol, medium minus acidity, low tannin, short finish, low complexity

On its own, this wine did nothing to impress me.  It was not a bad wine, it just didn’t offer much in terms of flavor.  It was very weak in intensity, which has its time and place.  Paired with a steak and carnita burrito and some chips and salsa, though, this wine was a great accompaniment.  It was light enough to not overpower the flavors of the fresh, acidic vegetables.  The wine also had light fruit flavors that melded well with the steak and pulled pork.

I also drank it the next night with spaghetti squash and a ground turkey spaghetti sauce with zucchini and yellow squash.  The Tempranillo was a good match for this dish as well. I will not purchase this wine simply as a drinking wine, but it has its place with the right meal.  And ringing in at under $10, it is certainly at an everyday drinking price point.

Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio

Tiefenbrunner

Pinot Grigio

2011

(Trentino-Alto Adige, Italy)

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On Bottle/Website:

* Pale yellow in color with green reflections

* Exotic fruit notes, trace of meadow flowers

* Slightly spicy, well-structured, full in the mouth, lingering finish on the palate

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, straw, medium plus viscosity

Nose: sound/clean, medium minus intensity, aroma/youthful, pear, green apple, peach, wet rock, stone, honey, almond, white flowers

Palate: dry, medium bodied, green apple, grapefruit, medium plus alcohol, medium acidity, medium complexity, medium length

Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc

Oyster Bay

Sauvignon Blanc

2011

(Marlborough, New Zealand)

Unknown

On Bottle/Website:

* 13% ABV

* http://www.oysterbaywines.com

* Elegant, assertive with glorious fruit flavors

* Cool climate viticulture

My Notes:

Appearance: clear, star bright, light straw color, low concentration, medium viscosity

Nose: clean, medium intensity, aroma/youthful, asparagus, light tangerine, green grass, white flowers, melon, honey, golden apple, faint mushroom, slate, wet stone

Palate: dry, light/medium bodied, floral, melon, golden apple, slate, mushroom, medium plus alcohol, medium acidity, medium finish, medium complexity

Citrus flavors were more prevalent after the wine had breathed.

One of my closest friends and I have established a yearly tradition.  Whenever she has her annual garage sale in her town, I come over and we catch up and drink wine.  This year, I brought a bottle of this Sauvignon Blanc and it was a hit. I will definitely purchase this wine again.