About jason

Jason enjoys exploring the world of wine, a new varietal or region lies around every corner. He views the wine world as a treasure hunt for grown-ups. This often leads him to the Trader Joe’s wine aisle where he can assess the latest finds to search for nuggets. He has no credentials and doesn’t claim to. Jason describes himself as a “professional consumer”. He’s just sharing what he liked, didn’t or loved and lessons he is learning along the way. In doing so, he hopes to help all filter through the masses of wines to find those that deliver tremendous value to the wallet and the palate. So next time you head out to Trader Joe’s grab his latest Top 10 list and if you feel so inclined leave it in the aisle for the person behind you when you are done. Jason can be reached via email at jason at jasonswineblog dot com or on twitter: @jasonswineblog.

2010 Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Grenache

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2010 Trader Joes Petit Reserve GrenacheAs usual little to be heard here given the Trader Joe’s designation. The only thing we learn from turning the bottle around is that this one is made by the Hahn Family Wines. Checking their site shows a GSM but no varietal bottling of Grenache so it looks like we are on our own here…

What I Think:

(14.2%) Made by the Hahn Family this Grenache hails from Lodi. It starts rich, ripe and juicy with loads of black cherry flavor. A bit over the top and a touch sweet (can almost feel tomorrow’s headache…) before toning down a bit on the backend to deliver some spice on a short finish. This one could have used some acidity for balance. That said if you like your wines fruit forward (and don’t mind a touch of sweetness) this one might be for you.

Rating: Serviceable <- to absentmindedly drink but not recommended to “taste”…

2007 Core White

2007 Core WhitePrice: $18.00 @ Core Wine

What They Said:

Per Core Wine “70% Grenache Blanc, 29% Roussanne and 1% Marsanne. 11 months in a combination of stainless steel and older barrels. Beautiful balance of white flowers, stone fruit, apples and pears. This wine has developed excellent complexity with added bottle age. You’ll love this amazing wine at an amazing price.”

What I Think:

(14.5%) 70% Grenache Blanc, 29% Roussanne, 1% Marsanne – Honeyed gold in the glass with a nice, rich floral spiced nose. Like liquid nectar on the palate. Great, lush, creamy mouthfeel here. I absolutely love the texture of this wine. Loaded with white nectarines and tart apricot notes. From there a nice acidity emerges leading to a dry, refreshing finish that lingers nicely. A beautiful blend that makes me want to buy more; especially at the $12 I paid…

Wine Geek Notes: Unfiltered (sediment on finish), aged in stainless steel and older barrels, 300 cases made

Rating: Wow!

And as a bonus round…The Core Red Blend is a winner as well. My brief notes read “spiced cherry pie flavors that lead to meaty mid-palate with nice acidity. Finish is brambly and bit earthy (while showing some heat). An easy going, food friendly, enjoyable wine.”

2008 Core Grenache

Price: $20.00 @ Core Wine

What They Said:

2008 Core GrenachePer Core Wine “85% Grenache and 15% Syrah. 100% of the fruit comes from the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard grown at 3000 feet. 24 months in neutral barrels and bottled without fining or filtration.

Huge nose of juicy red fruits and grilled meat. On the palate the wine is loaded with lush red and blue fruits, brown spices and nice concentration. A crowd pleasing wine at a great value that you won’t find everywhere. This is a follow-up to our hugely popular 2007 Grenache. If you ask me I’ll say it’s better, but you be the judge.”

What I Think:

(14.9%) 85% Grenache, 15% Syrah – Cloudy and clearly unfiltered to the eye this one starts bright and pure with dense, tart berry and cherry flavors on an earthy palate. This is all backed by a firm acidity that leads to a nice, lengthy, spiced finish. Surprisingly on the lighter side given its ABV (and the inclusion of Syrah) this is a perfect dinner wine. It will pair with virtually anything; that said I choose pizza and it was a hit for all.

Wine Geek Notes: 89pts Jeb Dunnuck/Rhone Report , 600 cases made, 24 months in neutral oak

Rating: Buy It (fair at $20; nice QPR at the $12 I paid…)

2008 Core Mourvedre

Price: $20.00 @ Core Wine

What They Said:

Per Core Wine “Primarily Mourvedre with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah to round it out. 100% of the fruit comes from the Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard grown at 3000 feet. 35 months in neutral barrels and bottled without fining or filtration.

Huge nose of juicy red, blue and black fruits, mushrooms and grilled meat. On the palate the wine is loaded with lush black, red and blue fruits, brown spices and nice concentration. A crowd pleasing wine at a great value that you won’t find everywhere.”

What I Think:

(14.9%) Per the winery there is some Cabernet and Syrah mixed in here but I can’t find any blend percentages. That said as usual for Core Wines this one appears cloudy to the eye as it is unfiltered. Juicy blueberry and tart strawberry with dense (pleasant), chalky tannins. From there a spiced acidity takes hold that leads to a short but nice finish. More good stuff here and food friendly to boot.

Wine Geek Notes: 240 cases made; 35 months in neutral barrels; unfiltered

Rating: Interesting (at the $12 I paid likely to buy again; at $20 not so sure…)

2010 Quady North Pistoleta

Price: $19.00 @ Quady North

What They Said:

2010 Quady North PistoletaPer Wine Enthusiast “This intense, concentrated blend of Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne combines vivid floral aromas with almost candied citrus fruit. It’s seductive and lengthy, with a gamut of scents and flavors from perfume to pastry.” P.G. (10/1/2011) — 92

What I Think:

(12.5%) 33% Roussanne, 33% Marsane, 33% Viognier – I picked this up this white Rhone blend while swinging through the Applegate Valley late this summer. In talking with the winemaker Herb Quady this one is made for the Dutch markets so relatively hard to come by stateside which sure is a shame.

Great nose, Great mouthfeel. Rich with lush (forward) tropical fruits and banana with floral overtones and a soft acidity. Loads of tertiary action (citrus, melon, mineral and more) keep you intrigued before a soft, spiced finish that lingers on nicely. Nothing subdued here. It is a white that keeps the palate rocking and you are thankful for it. I enjoyed this one far more than the words above are letting on…

Rating: Wow!

2010 Quady North Bomba

2010 Quady North BombaPrice: $20.00 @ Quady North

What They Said:

Well in this case unfortunately not a word. I picked this one up last summer when visiting the tasting room in the Southern Oregon town of Jacksonville. I also learned there that the entire lot of this (more or less) is shipped off to Belgium which might explain why I can’t find a lick of information about it…

What I Think:

(13.5%) Big, lush, juicy fruit (cherry first and foremost) backed by a nice spice and smooth acidity (showing a touch of iron) leading to a lasting, savory finish. A nice example of how a wine can be both fruit forward but food friendly at the same time. I tried this Grenache based blend (can’t find exact percentage) and bought a bottle after a tasting room visit in downtown Jacksonville, Oregon. If I remember right Herb told me most of this (retails at $20) was shipped over to Belgium which is a shame because if I could find it on the shelf here I’d happily grab another bottle…

Rating: Good but… (you can’t get it anyway)

2010 Quady North Rose 4-2,A

Price: $13.50 @ Quady North

What They Said:

2010 Quady North Rose 4-2,APer Quady North “Our Rose was originally a blend of the “saignees” from the Syrah that went into our 4-2,A. Over the last few years, we have begun incorporating early picked and pressed Grenache with our favorite Syrahs. This year’s blend is 40% Grenache and 60% Syrah.”

What I Think:

(12.5%) 60% Syrah and 40% Grenache – Picked this one up on a recent visit to the Applegate Valley in Oregon. Beautiful color, bright nose and then straight to the Beatles…strawberry fields forever… with a crisp acidity and touch of citrusy orange rind on a dry finish. Refreshing and delicious; enjoy on its own, with the salad of your choice and even some BBQ chicken. Get some if you can!

Wine Geek Notes: 100 cases made

Rating: Buy It

Ode to the Rhone (Rangers)…

Rhone RangersOh how I love the Rhone. The region in France, the 22 grapes (11 red, 11 white) that are part of its heritage and the variations of these wines made around the world. Now I could go on and on about the many reasons but I would never get to my point which is that the 15th Annual Rhone Rangers Tasting here in San Francisco is just around the corner (March 24-25th, 2012 at Fort Mason) and I have a pair of tickets to giveaway.

For context more than a 100 wineries will be on hand pouring (over 500 wines) including many of my favorites So where to start? Perhaps with some of my long time favorites like Bonny Doon, Tablas Creek, Unti Vineyards and Ridge. There are also quite a few on the list I’ve recently become a fan of that I would love to explore further such as Clos Saron, Core Wines, Quady North and Zaca Mesa. And lastly of course those I’ve yet to try but heard many good things about like Alta Colina, Inspiration Vineyards and Two Shepherds.

The best part? If you find something you like you can buy it on the spot at the event. So much better than having to try (many times fruitlessly) to track it down later. But the tasting isn’t the only thing happening. There is a full schedule consisting of a winemaker’s dinner and a number of seminars including the “Come Taste the Unusual” I’d love to attend. Perhaps it’s for the best (for my wallet) that I will be out of the town that weekend.

That said hopefully you can be there. And with that now it is your turn to share. I mentioned I have a pair of tickets to give away. To make it easy let me know (here or on Facebook) what your favorite grape of the Rhone is and/or your favorite wine made from these varietals. That will get you into the drawing which I’ll do at 5pm PST on Monday March 19th. If you convince me to go out and buy a bottle based on your story I’ll even throw in a bonus entry. So there you have it. Let’s get to sharing…

For full details, more information or to buy tickets check out the following:

2010 Seismic Sauvignon Blanc

2010 Seismic Sauvignon BlancPrice: $7.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by V2 Wine Group

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Situated on the “Ring of Fire”, an enormous fault line skirting the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand has its share of seismic activity. The fault line goes directly through the center Marlborough’s Wairau Valley and our vineyards where we craft earth-shattering wines. Our Sauvignon Blanc is a true revelation of the great growing season, careful vineyard site selection, and stringent fruit development that result in exceptional, distinctly varietal wines. Showing ripe lychee notes and underlying grassiness this refreshing wine finishes with hints of flint. Enjoy chilled as an aperitif or with seafood or Asian flavors.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) Bright with nice round, juicy fruit (passionfruit, nectarines and more) but on a flinty, mineral based backbone before giving way to a tart, grassy acidity that drives this one to a crisp. (white pepper) spiced finish. I dig it. If you are a Sauv Blanc fan and looking to stock up give this one a try. I’m likely to grab a handful more as summer nears…

Rating: Buy It

2006 Lance & Windmill Petite Syrah

Price: $14.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2006 Lance & Windmill Petite SyrahRumor has it this one is a $60 bottling from Quixote Winery. Some research over at the TTB quickly confirms this and it further backed by the 2005 being offered at $60 on the winery website. As I understand the ’05 garnered 93pts from the Wine Spectator I’m a bit surprised to find this one on the shelves at Trader Joe’s but intrigued to try it as well…

What I Think:

(14.4%) This one starts with bursting blueberry flavors and tons of dark lush fruit. Juicy, rich and velvety but with nice mouth coating tannins with a touch of leather to keep it “restrained”. As it dries out some spice (along with a touch of heat) emerges on a finish that while short lingers on. Despite the big fruit there are enough other components here to keep it interesting (and intact). It’s been a while since I recall enjoying a Petite Sirah as much as I did this one. Pair this one with a steak or a cigar…

Rating: Buy It (a bit spendy but if you are a fan of Petite Sirah well worth trying)

Interested in reading more about the Lance & Windmill Petite Syrah?

  • My friends over at Beards & Bellies describe this as “stain your tongue deliciousness” and rate it 4.5 out of 5 Bellies
  • My friend Matt over at Trader Joe’s Wine Notes summarizes his thoughts on this one by saying “Simply awesome”