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.”

2007 St. Francis Old Vines Zinfandel

2007 St. Francis Old Vines ZinfandelPrice: $19.99 via St. Francis Winery*

What They Said:

Per Wine Enthusiast “A strong Zinfandel, tannic, high in alcohol and fruity, and brimming with wild forest cherry and raspberry liqueur, exotic spices and sweet sandalwood. Drink it with a juicy cheeseburger, a spicy beef burrito and just a nice roast chicken.” Steve Heimoff (2/1/2011) — 86 points

What I Think:

(15.5%) 86% Zinfandel, 5% Mixed Black Grapes, 3% Alicante Bouschet, 3% Petite Sirah, 3% Syrah – Having family in Europe this is what I would think of taking them to join something in quintessential California style (for better or worse). Ripe, forward fruit, jammy, creamy with a sweet toasted vanilla oak finish that shows some pepper spice while lingering warmly. Not my style but I know many that do like this one. Well-made and widely available at ~$17.

Wine Geek Notes: 41,000 cases made, made from vines a minimum of 50 years old, field blended.

Rating: Good but…(not my style. I prefer the Zin’s from Sausal or Sobon)

*This wine was received as a press sample

2007 McRitchie Ring of Fire

2007 McRitchie Ring of FirePrice: $18.00 @ McRitchie Winery

What They Said:

Per Appellation America “McRitchie’s Ring of Fire Red, “our tribute to the man in black” (Johnny Cash), is a juicy blend of bright fruit, brimming with flavors of black and red currants, hints of blueberry, licorice and black cherry. This lively red is already drinking well, with its youthful fruit, good balance and structure – which might allow it to age with interest, but it is so tasty now, why wait?”

What I Think:

(12.3%) Hailing from North Carolina McRitchie is as well known for their ciders as their wines. This Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot is their tribute to Johnny Cash. On pulling the cork this one was showing some resin on the nose and palate but it blew off after an hour or so. Once it did you find tart, dark fruits with mint on the nose. The palate shows bright, dark fruits (cherry, currant) with soft cedar behind and a tinge of mineral. The oak here is evident but well managed. Soft and food friendly with just a bit of heat on a lingering finish with soft tannins. My first wine from North Carolina (courtesy of @wineaccguy) and a promising effort.

Rating: Interesting

How about you? Had a wine from North Carolina? If so what did you think?

2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Volant

2007 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare VolantPrice: $35.00 @ Bonny Doon Vineyard*

What They Said:

Per Bonny Doon Vineyard “Bright ruby red with a pale purplish rim. Bright cherry aromas with a bit of spice, menthol, and black pepper. On the palate, fresh cherry, currant, and red bramble fruit. Peppery and lively with good acidity around an earthy, savory core.”

What I Think:

(14.4%) 60% Grenache, 32% Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre, 4% Cinsault – Beautiful, layered nose of earthy, berry fruit, herbs and spice. Dark and lush with ripe blueberry flavors and a lot of them on the palate. That said this one isn’t jammy as it has a nice acidity to keep it honest. Slightly tart (yet barrelly sweet and creamy) with dry herbs and soft, lingering tannins on a warm, comforting finish. Nice character and layers of flavor throughout with meaty, herbal, mineral and spice components making appearances. Easily drinkable now and appears ready to age effortlessly. Pair it with steak or the hearty meal of your choice. Perhaps Randall said it best: “the wine is powerful, yet still retains a fair elegance and grace”. A wine I look forward to drinking more of!

Wine Geek Notes: 2,732 cases produced.

Rating: Wow!

*While I did receive a bottle of this wine as a sample I’ve purchased previous versions of this with my very own money and plan on doing so again…

2007 Hannah Nicole Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Hannah Nicole Vineyards Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $26.00 via Hannah Nicole Vineyards

What They Said:

Per Hannah Nicole Vineyards “Our 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon boasts aromas of pepper and plum, with hints of smoked toasted
walnuts and fine leather. The finish coats your palate with fine tannins that linger, a taste which will hunger you for a fine cut of choice beef, a perfect accompaniment to this luscious Cabernet Sauvignon”

What I Think:

(13.8%) 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot – A touch green (olives) initially with nice berries, baking spice on chocolate on the nose. Lively on the palate with plum and black pepper flavors. The acidity keep this medium bodied (and very food friendly) before the barrel creaminess kicks in on finish that dries out as it lingers with lasting tannins. For those that like “big” Cabs you might not find this ripe enough or lush enough. That said I found the fruit flavors nice and balanced without being over the top big. My tip? Be sure to open and decant this a few hours before you intend to enjoy.

Wine Geek Notes: 900 cases made; aged for 30 months in new and one year old oak (French & American)

Rating: Nice but… (while enjoyable there are others I prefer at $26 like the Broadside Cabernet)

2007 Mezzacorona Cabernet Sauvignon

Italian Wine Map: Trentino - Alto Adige

This wine sent me down a bit of a rat hole as they say in my business. You see the label states this wine is from “Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT”. As I am headed to (very) southern Switzerland later this summer of course my curiosity was piqued. So where to start? How about from the top… This IGT is part of Trentino – Alto Adige which is one of the twenty wine regions of Italy. Trentino – Alto Adige, which covers a large part of the Dolomites, is on the alpine border with Austria directly to the north and Switzerland to the west. As you might guess by the name it is actually comprised of two areas. Trentino to the south and Alto Adige to the north.

To understand this further we have to go back to the middle ages and Charlemagne who planted the seeds that resulted in these two distinct areas that still exist today. Trentino, thrives on polenta, and is steeped in the Italo-Venetian traditions well known for an alpine takes of pasta including game, mushrooms and cheeses distinctive to the area. On the other side Alto Adige has more ties to German and Austrian culture and its gastronomic pride is Speck. German and Italian were both made official languages of the region shortly after WWII in 1946 and most residents of the region are still bi-lingual today.

Regional Map of Trentino - Alto Adige

Okay, back to the vino. Trentino-Alto Adige produces less than 1% of the Italy’s wine (but about 10% of its grappa). There are three grapes native to the region; Nosiola, Teroldego Rotoliano and the Marzemino, and loads of international varietals (here’s a full list) like this Cabernet Sauvignon. Of interest most of the wines made in the South are made by larger wineries for international export. In the north most wines are still made by small family wineries where the product is mostly consumed locally with limited exports to Germany and Austria. That said as of late many of these have been developing a niche following here in the United States. This is the area I am most keen to visit should I find the time later this summer…

As for this wine specifically I never did find anything definitive on Vignetti delle Dolomiti IGT. How’d it end up in my house? Good question. I know something inspired me to buy this and figured it was one of those rascally K&L wines emails that regularly drain my wallet. If it was I can’t seem to find; guess that is why I should record these things when I purchase the wines ;-) How’d it go?

2007 Mezzacorona Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $6.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Prestige Wine Imports

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “Leave it to the Italians to make a dirt cheap and super tasty Cabernet that is meant for food. This one offers an intense bouquet, complex with vanilla notes characteristics from oak aging, a dry flavor, lightly tannic, full-body. Pretty much everything you want from a ‘house red’ and all for $7! This is definitely the best cabernet deal in the store- the perfect every-day cab with rich fruit and cedar edges!”

What I Think:

(13%) dark purple, ruby at the edges this one starts juicy (and medium bodied) with tart cherry and spiced currant notes. It is balanced by a pleasant acidity before giving way to toasty, vanilla (all barrel) flavors that show light tannins on a warm, short finish. This wine fades quickly so I would certainly recommend drinking it within the first day if not two. Luckily this one makes that easy. Soft and food friendly with a low abv (13%) this is all you can expect for $7. That said while good it isn’t great. I won’t be buying again but feel free to give it a try if you can find it for $8 or so. For more information on this one or the winery in general head on over to the Mezzacorona website.

Further reading and articles referenced while writing this article:

2007 Vinum Cellars White Elephant

2007 Vinum Cellars White ElephantPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Vinum Cellars (pdf) “Light straw color, tangerine and kefir lime aromas open, but then melon, lemon and almond paste prevail. On the palate, the bright acidity is multi-dimensional from tart apple to sour cherry to fresh lemon curd. The acidity from Chenin Blanc is balanced on a complex canvas of ripe Bartlett pear and floral palate from the Roussanne, while the honeyed and nectary capacity of the Viognier provides the final harmonious ingredients to make this wine finish as the unique hybrid it was intended to be.”

What I Think:

Now Vinum Cellars has had a few quality offerings available at Trader Joe’s over the last year or so. The best amongst them (IMHO) was the 2007 (CMW) Chenin Blanc which drank very nicely for $4.99. I’ve noticed that one is back with a new vintage and a slightly modified label. Has anyone had a chance to try it yet? Just as I was reaching for it wouldn’t you know I spotted this “white elephant” and wouldn’t you know I got distracted. Yes by a label but only initially. As I read through the blend I became further intrigued and in the cart it went. The CNW will have to wait for another day. So what did we have here?

A blend of 58% Chenin Blanc, 30% Rousanne and 12% Viognier this one is light straw in the glass. A nice full nose of mixed tropical, lemon and lime fruits along with floral notes and just a hint of spice. Smooth and balanced on the palate with lemon and clean acidity leading the way. Very nice weight to the mouthfeel with crisp white fruits briefly making an appearance before lemon reemerges and drives this home to a refreshing finish that last nicely. At $6 (vs. $14) this shows very nice QPR and is better than the Emergence White and is more interesting than the aforementioned Vinum Chenin Blanc Trader Joe’s has/had on offer. I’ll certainly be looking to get some more. If you decide to do the same would love to hear your thoughts…

Rating: Buy It

2007 Rio Vaca Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Rio Vaca Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Our Rio Vaca estate vineyard is planted alongside the Vaca Mountains just twenty miles east of California’s most renowned wine growing region. Vaca Small Lot Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is classically structured, full bodied and exudes dark currant and ripe blackberry flavors. 14-months aging in small French and American oak barrels adds layers of spice and imparts a long, supple finish.”

What I Think:

Yesterday I covered the Chardonnay from this winery which I was surprisingly a fan of. I also covered off on the back story of Rio Vaca Vineyards or what I could find of it there. So with those bases covered what do you say we just jump right into their Cabernet offering. Well alrighty then…

Dark, dense in color this shows leafy currants on a dry tannic nose. The palate starts juicy loaded with blueberries (with a slight mineral tinge) before a nice acidity emerges on the mid-palate. From there creamy, vanilla flavors come to the fore before drying out to cheek grabbing tannins which linger on a short finish. Definitely a whole lot of barrel going on here but its well done. Comforting and familiar like a warm blanket. Now I could certainly pick this apart (perhaps thin and a bit hot) but my opinion is that at $6 few will be disappointed by this wine. Furthermore I think it has a chance to pleasantly surprise even more!

Rating: Buy It

2007 Napa Station Chardonnay

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2007 Napa Station ChardonnayPer Napa Station “Sourced from four exceptional vineyards in the cool southern region of Napa Valley, this Chardonnay was aged on the lees in stainless steel tanks and small French oak barrels. The wine underwent partial malolactic fermentation to add richness without overpowering the fruit. The wine exhibits aromas of ripe peach, pear and citrus, with crisp green apple and hints of tropical fruit on the palate. The finish is long and clean with fresh acidity.”

What I Think:

On initial glance this may seem like another Bronco Wine Co. label but it isn’t. Instead it is the inaugural release of a new winery that garnered an 87 point rating from Robert Parker saying “Readers looking for Excellent Values should check out Napa Station. Their delicious 2007 Chardonnay exhibits plenty of fresh citrus interwoven with hints of white peaches and apples in its natural, lively, pure personality. Medium-bodied and zesty, its ideal for drinking over the next 1-2 years.” – (December 2009)

Now the suggested retail on this one is $18 and the best price online is the $11 BevMo offers this one for. Given that I was keen to see what this one had to offer for the five spot it will cost you to pick up a bottle at Trader Joe’s. Before we jump in my typical disclaimer; I’m not a huge Chardonnay fan (despite tasting 25 bottles last year) so you may want to take the below with a grain of salt…

(13.5%) Lightly oaked on a floral nose showing faint white apricots. The palate starts pure and focused before turning toasty with slightly sweet green apple flavors. This is full bodied wine with a crisp acidity on the backbone. The finish is big & creamy while not being over the top oaky. Overall this wine is (for me) slightly refreshing. Given that those that prefer their Chardonnay dripping in butter (like the Overlake Chardonnay) may want to pass but I’m guessing this will please plenty of palates. For $5 give it a try and let me know if you agree with Parker’s take.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2007 Viña Honda Monastrell Jumilla

Price: $9.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Grapes of Spain

What They Said:

2007 Viña Honda Monastrell Jumilla90 points from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: “The 2007 Vina Honda Monastrell (100% varietal) was raised in stainless steel tanks. Purple-colored, it offers up a fragrant nose of underbrush, mineral, spice box, and blueberry. Layered, mouth-filling, and succulent, this forward effort will offer much pleasure over the next four years.” This monastrell is amongst the best I have tasted this year. Warm plum aromas, with hints of pomegranate and a trace of a spicy, pungent root vegetable quality, lead to a terrific mouthful of inexpensive red wine. Intense pomegranate, cherry and cranberry fruits show plenty of presence and purity. A great deal in everyday drinking red.

What I Think:

(13.5%) 100% Monastrell (or Mourvèdre) – Ruby at its core and thins to garnet on the edges. This one shows cherries with green peppercorn and clove notes on a slightly sweet nose. The wine starts medium bodied with juicy red currant and cherry flavors. A mineral component emerges along with a nice acidity and notes of cedar which keep this well balanced and smooth throughout. The finish is short and slightly sweet with an oak driven creaminess and hints of pepper that lead to a lingering tannic finish. Despite the finish being on the shorter side this is an lively, appealing wine that is well structured and at $10 delivers fair value for the price point.

Rating: Pricey