2008 Trader Joes GSM Reserve

2008 Trader Joes GSM ReservePrice: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle “Violets, medjool dates, anise and plum.” Guess they thought that was enough said…

What I Think:

(14.5%) 24% Grenache, 55% Syrah, 21% Mourvedre – Ripe but backed by acidity with some jammy fruit around the edges that lingers with spice all the way through to an earthy, lasting finish. Warm, smooth, a touch rich, spiced and lasting. A nice effort here and if this wine had a proper face I’d be inclined to buy it again. But at $10 these mystery labels are losing their allure for me…

Wine Geek Notes: This one tracks to Vine Intervention LLC which is owned by Marc Cummings who also happens to be the winemaker at Kelsey See Canyon Vineyards and has his own label at Drake Vineyards

Rating: Good but… (as mentioned I’d prefer putting a face to this name)

2008 BearBoat Pinot Gris

2008 BearBoat Pinot GrisPrice: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per BearBoat Wines “Bearboat Pinot Gris, made from 100% Pinot Gris grapes, has aromas of apricots, nectarines and a perfumed spice. The wine is fairly full-bodied with balanced acidity and oily texture. The finish is clean with good length and extract. Pinot Gris grapes come from cool climate areas – 30% from Russian River, 30% from Sonoma Coast and 40% from Carneros. All these 3 growing areas in Sonoma allow the Pinot Gris to retain pronounced aromatics and fresh acidity. 60% of the wine is fermented in stainless steel to retain nectarine fruit aromas. The rest is fermented in new French oak for added complexity. A half of the wine goes through malolactic fermentation for acidity balance. It’s aged for five months in 40% new French oak for added complexity.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) I really wanted to like this one I did. But I don’t. Seems like he has a decent enough pedigree as K&L Wines was selling the 2007 vintage for $14 but I just don’t get it here. Ripe nectarine and stone fruits on the nose. On the palate this is medium bodied, rich apples, oily & spiced, lemon acidity but the black licorice on the edges distracts throughout never allowing this to come together. Perhaps better with food (I tried it on its own) but I’m not likely to give it another chance…

By the way 2008 seems a little late for this simple offering to be hitting the market; wonder what gives?

Wine Geek Notes: Part of the Rémy Cointreau portfolio

Rating: Skip It

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…)

2008 Mud House Swan Pinot Noir

Price: $10.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Maritime Wine Trading Collective

What They Said:

2008 Mud House Swan Pinot NoirPer K&L Wines “This is a great deal in Pinot Noir coming in at 1/2 the normal price. The fruit comes from Central Otago which is the new “darling” area for New Zealand Pinot and to be specific the sub-region of Bendigo. The wine which spent 10 months in 30% new French oak offers a bouquet of raspberry, cherry, clove, earth and mocha. On the palate, there are fine tannins that frame the core of fruit with good acidity supporting the fine finish. Buy a case of this one. (Jim Chanteloup K&L New Zealand Wine Buyer) Stephen Tanzer adds: “Bright medium red. Red berries and cherry dominate the nose and palate, with some spice notes emerging with air. A juicy, fresh, supple wine with the sweetness of fruit to support its oak element. Finishes with good life and lift.” (Sept/Oct 09)”

What I Think:

(14%) Warm, ripe, supple fruit (tart cherry and raspberry) out of the gate with a beautiful inflection to the proper acidity which also delivers a nice clove spice. This one is a fine choice. Great balance, smooth and lengthy on the palate. A very nice Pinot for the $11 (retail is $24) this one cost me; too bad I didn’t figure that out before they sold out of this one. A very nice, lush, new world, fruit forward Pinot. Would buy more if I could…

Wine Geek Notes: 10 months in 30% new oak; Screwtop; Imported by Maritime Wine Trading Collective

Rating: Buy It

2008 Buena Vista Pinot Noir

While we wait for me to get in gear on formally starting the 2012 writing season I thought I’d sneak this out in the meantime. And what better place to start than with one of Angela’s, my right hand (wo)man’s, recommendations. For those that don’t know she is a very trusted palate so when she says run I do and you should feel free to do the same. Not that I needed it but this one also earned some accolades from Joe and the crew over at GoodCheapVino.com which is another trusted resource. Now as for James’s take that this one is no big shakes in comparison to daily deal sites the difference to me is I don’t have to commit to multiple bottles in advance and/or pay shipping charges. Now as for the Fort Ross Pinot he mentions as available at Grocery Outlet ($13) I’d love to give it a try. But in the meantime let’s see what I think of this one…

2008 Buena Vista Pinot NoirPrice: $9.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’sBuena Vista Carneros Pinot Noir is made with grapes grown in the Carneros region, the area that spans the distance between the Napa & Sonoma Valleys. The grapes were handpicked at night to preserve the fruit’s character, then hand sorted to ensure only the very best of the lot were used in the winemaking. After fermentation, the wine is aged for eight months in 33% new French oak barrels, with the remaining wine aged in one to two year old barrels.

This Pinot Noir is bright with Bing cherry, allspice and earthy elements. Blackberry & plum fruit flavors give way to undertones of coffee and clove and a long, supple finish.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) Initially this one comes across as more earthy and minerally before opening up to dark, lush (mainly cherry) fruit with sandalwood and spice. The rich, creamy finish lingers softly with cherry-cola spice. Once given time to breathe this one is smooth and easy drinking throughout. That said be sure to crack the top on this one an hour or two prior to planned consumption. If you can handle that this one offers some nice QPR at $10.

Rating: Buy It

Wine Geek Notes: Screwtop, Aged in 33% new French oak

2008 Dr. Loosen Riesling Dr. L

2008 Dr. Loosen Riesling Dr. LPrice: $9.99 @ Dr. Loosen imported by Loosen Bros*

What They Said:

Per Dr. Loosen “Sleek and tangy, showing apricot, lime and mango flavors matched to a lively structure. There’s nice harmony and persistence through the finish.” – No. 62 on Wine Spectator’s 2009 Top 100 List

What I Think:

(8.5%) Surprised to get this one as a sample as it seems the 2010 is the current vintage. A nice purity on the palate this one is slightly sweet and rich with tart green apple and lemon rind flavors. From there pleasant acidity leads to a mouthwatering finish. Clean and refreshing. All in all perhaps a touch sweeter than I prefer but at $10 this is simple and pleasing. Can you find better? Likely but you’ll find worse while you are looking…

Rating: Interesting (As mentioned maybe you can do better but is it worth the risk…)

*This wine was received as a press sample.

2008 Green Barn Red Field Blend

Ever since I fell in love with a Ridge York Creek Zinfandel long ago I’ve been a sucker for field blends (which this one is). For those that might not new what this indicates it means that the grapes are grown intermixed in the vineyard. There isn’t a row of Zinfandel, a row of Syrah etc. but rather everything is grown side by side. As compared to the vast majority of wines which are grown individually, barreled individually and then in something akin to a science lab test tube tasting bottled together once the magic ratios are identified. But anyhow onto the wine…

2008 Green Barn Red Field BlendPrice: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s “Wines made with organically grown grapes have come a long way. We’ve been working with one of the pioneers of this burgeoning segment of the winemaking industry for years, and the wines he produces seem to get better as his efforts at sustainability and biodynamic farming grow even deeper roots (pun intended). We’ve recently partnered with this talented craftsman to create Green Barn Wines, exclusive to Trader Joe’s.

Green Barn Wines are made with organically grown grapes from Mendocino County, north of Sonoma, along the rugged northern California coast. Green Barn Red Wine is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Grenache and Petite Sirah. It’s juicy in the mouth, with black cherry flavors and a bit of orange peel on the finish, with soft tannins.”

What I Think:

(14.5%) 51% Zinfandel, 39% Syrah, 6% Grenache, and 4% Petit Sirah – Nice full nose. On entry this is rich and smooth with juicy, slightly sweet, fruits of blackberry and cherry. These are joined by creamy tannins and a moderate acidity on the mid-palate. From there it turns tart before drying out on dusty, white pepper finish that turns a touch bitter before lingering on. A big wine, but not over the top, to pair with a big meal. If you don’t mind the tart fruit and flash of bitterness perhaps serve it with a nice beef chili on a cold evening…

Rating: 12th Bottle <- While I can imagine buying this one again I’m not likely to do so…

2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet Sauvignon

Israeli Wine RegionsNext up for #CabernetDay is a bottling from an unexpected region; my first wine from Israel. Wine has been produced here since biblical times but you might be surprised to learn (as I was) that the birth of the modern Israeli wine industry has ties to the famous French chateau; Château Lafite-Rothschild, whose family helped establish some of the early vineyards and opened two wineries around 1882.

Today, wine in Israel is predominately grown in five regions with Galil, where our wine from today hails, being the most well known. It comes courtesy of Golan Heights Winery is located in the small town of Katzrin, high up on the Golan Heights where it was founded in 1983. They make about 380,000 cases, spanning premium varietals, proprietary blends and sparkling wines, annually. So how did this one bottle turn out?

2008 Golan Heights Winery Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $14.99*

What They Said:

Per wine.com “The Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon expresses characters of ripe dark red and black fruits, layered with notes of earth, spice, chocolate, pipe tobacco and a hint of fresh herb. This rich, complex wine is full-bodied, with concentrated flavor and a satisfying, long finish.

Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon is enjoyable on the young side, but should really be aged for a few years to get the most out of it. The wine will continue to develop and should remain in good drinking condition for a decade or more. This wine is best paired with very flavorful foods. One good combination would be with lamb short ribs braised in red wine, beef stock and aromatic vegetables.”

What I Think:

(14.5%) This one hails from the Golan Heights in the northern part of Israel which shares a border with Syria and marks one of my first offerings from Israel. Nice ruby in color with fresh fruit on the nose. Juicy, briary raspberry and blackberry flavors on a warm, creamy, comforting palate. This one is medium bodied and very well balanced. The structure really takes shape on the mid-palate where mineral notes and soft tannins emerge and lead to barrel notes and black pepper spice that lasts through a shortish finish. The notes above reflect my thoughts on day 3. This one started off bigger in profile and grew on me as it mellowed and hit its stride. Given that you may want to decant and or hold off opening for a year or two. If looking to try a wine from Israel (or need a Kosher offering) this is a fine place to start.

Rating: Buy It (It’s good and I’m guessing you haven’t had Israeli wine before…)

*This wine was received as a press sample

2008 Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon Margarita Vineyard

In honor of today being #CabernetDay (if you are interested in participating you can find details here) I thought I might share a few of my favorites starting with this stunner that “Jon Bonne turned me onto late last year. Broadside is a partnership of Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars and Brian Terrizzi of Giornata that focuses on making artisanal wines with a natural approach that are priced for people to drink, not collect. And based on my experience I must say they are doing a fine job of it (perhaps except that I want to drink and collect this one…)

Price: $18.99 @ Cheese Plus

What They Said:

2008 Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon Margarita VineyardPer Jon Bonne “The new release of Chris Brockway’s naturally fermented Cabernet from this high-elevation Paso site continues a stellar run. Pretty cassis and cured tobacco, with juicy bramble fruit. Try finding similar quality California Cab for the price.”

What I Think:

(14.1%) 97% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petite Verdot – Made with a super non-intervention philosophy you know you are on to something different as soon as this hits your tongue. Lively and pure this one starts with an aggressive flavor profile from the get go showing bright cherries and juicy brambly berries on a firm mineral backbone. These dry out to show tea leave flavors on a mid-palate that features a cola (along with a bit of caramel) tinged acidity leading to grippy, chewy tannins on a smooth, lingering finish. What can I say? I’m smitten. I will certainly be buying again.

Rating: Wow! (that said not your typical California Cabernet, though I wish it were, with only 2% new oak so approach with an open mind)

How about you? What are you drinking for #CabernetDay?

2008 Vinum Cellars Chenin – Vio

Based on my recent post on the Sauvignon Republic I’ve had many ask if King Shag is no longer your go to summer white what is? While the answer is multi-dimensional (see my Summer 2011 Top 10 List in the works) for today let’s just stick to the best white Trader Joe’s had to offer at this time (and I admittedly haven’t sampled them all…). That said I’m guessing you’ve seen the title of this post so let’s get to the wine itself (which while admittedly a bit simple) over delivers at the sub $8 price point.

2008 Vinum Cellars Chenin - VioPrice: $3.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Vinum Cellars (pdf) “Light golden straw color, intensely fresh guava nectar, jasmine and honeysuckle aromas are the generous offerings of this unique blend. The palate quite clearly expresses a purity in acidity which is attributable to the wine’s majority contributor; Chenin Blanc. This acid profile is balanced deftly with appealing apricot flavors, texture and light rose pedal musk that can be derived only from Viognier. The palate is left with crisp green apple acidity, the nectary goodness of Peach/Apricot with an intermittent honeycomb finish. This wine is a marvelous accompaniment to fine goat cheese dishes like tarts, baked goat cheese over a mesclun of greens and champagne vinaigrette and small thin crust aged goat cheese pizzettas, with sun dried tomatoes of course. It is an excellent aperitif, favorite summertime sipper and Sunday brunch staple.”

What I Think:

(13.4%) 86% Chenin Blanc, 14% Viognier – Green/yellow tinged in the glass the Viognier owns the nose with honeyed floral aromas and banana notes. The palate starts crisp and clean with Chenin’s firm acidity leading the way. On the mid-palate the Viognier kicks in and the wine gets a bit richer with ripe peach flavors before a stony, mineral component emerges and drives through a (slightly creamy) green apple driven finish. An easy drinking, enjoyable bottle for $4. Count me in for a few more bottles…

Rating: Buy It