2006 Viña Cobos “Cocodrilo” Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $15.99 @ K&L Wines imported by Paul Hobbs Imports

What They Said:

Per K&L Wines “The big pull for this wine has always been that it is made by the seemingly infallible Paul Hobbs, and that surely hasn’t changed. The other big pull is that it has always been the tastiest of Cabs from Mendoza. Full of the polish and sweet ripeness that Hobbs is know for this is packed with slick, creamy currant puree, unsweetened black chocolate, and loveable mouth-filling texture. Compare this to his cabs out of Napa for $60+ and you have yourself a bargain.” (Bryan Brick, K&L)

What I Think:

As easy sale for me, everything Hobbs touches goes for a mint. To get my hands on this one even at the upper end of my personal price range was a no brainer. The first bottle knocked my socks off. Robust and smooth at the same time if that even makes sense. Loads of dark fruit on a chocolate back bone that last forever. The finish could not be smoother or longer. I put another case in the cellar. This could compete with the Ridge for the best bottle I’ve had since starting this blog!

Rating: Cellar It

2007 La Boca Cabernet Sauvignon

Price: $2.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Classic Wines of California

What They Said:

Not a word, guess I’ll be the authority on this one…

What I Think:

The first 2007 of the year! I couldn’t help but take a flier. Before everyone gets to excited yes I know Beaujolais was out last November, not a fan, sorry! Named after the home of the Tango you may think this is from Buenos Aries but it is indeed from Mendoza. After my favorable experience with the Bonarda I was open to trying another little known bottle from Mendoza. Unfortunately, this one disappointed. I could taste them trying to get the stems and greenness out of the bottle. Alas, it didn’t help. I know it was only $3 and perhaps the Malbec was better but at this price point I’ll spend the extra $2 for this Chalk Creek. If you want to stay at the same price point perhaps this JW Morris makes sense. I enjoyed their Gewurzt.

Rating: Skip It

2005 Amaicha Torrontes

Price: $1.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Goldschmidt Vineyards

What They Said:

Per quaffability “This is an odd wine that I found while searching in vain for an Argentinean Malbec suggested by a reader. I confess that I had never heard of the Torrontes varietal before tasting this wine, and, having knocked around the web looking for info for a few minutes, I think I know even less now then I did before. It’s either originally from Mavasia or native to Argentina. It might be a common Spanish varietal, or it might be a cross between the native American Mission grape and a variety of Muscat. Hmm… what’s a good synonym for “whatever”?

The nose offers very fruity flowery notes with lemon, lychee and grapefruit. In the mouth it’s also quite fruity, but with a suprising element of petroleum, turning quite dry on the lean finish.

This wine reminds me that tasting impressions can really vary by circumstance. Sampled before dinner one night, my wife and I both said “okay… interesting” but moved on to other things without any thought of grabbing the bottle for a refill. Too fruity, not quite appealing, and a little odd tasting. But a few nights later, after my wife had made the mistake of telling the guy at the Chinese take-out place that our food wasn’t spicy enough last time, the wine went down awfully good with a blistering order of chicken in garlic sauce.”

What I Think:

As mentioned with my initial Bonarda posting I remember these showing up at TJ’s sometime last year. At the time I grabbed one of each, this and the Bonarda. After having them both I ran to the store to find more of the red to no avail and put this one on my “do not drink” list as I can still recall it tasted almost like nothing.

Redux, once again I find them both but pass on the white. Then being overly impressed with the red I overcome my predisposition to ignoring the white. Sometime later with taco salad on the table this wine finds itself on our table. On the nose you get..nothing; no fruit, just barrel. This wine is very light leading me to think the alcohol percentage must be low. There is hints of citrus but mostly wood with grassy undertones. As there is no fruit there is certainly no sweetness. Makes me think outside the “wine” box. I pomder European type schnapps before settling on Vodka as there is little flavor here.

In my industry we always talk about the “aspirational” you. I can see where this wine is trying to go, it just never gets there. Given that it is $2 though it is worth a try, as long as this isn’t your only impression of Torrontes. Give this Zolo a try. While your at it find some Vinho Verde as well.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2005 Amaicha Bonarda

Price: $1.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Goldschmidt Vineyards

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer from October of 2006; “Amaicha wines are named after a small village in the northern Argentinean province of Tucuman. “The indigenous people of this town have a special reverence for what they call Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and they celebrate their admiration for the earth’s goodness with both festivals and a way of life that respects the elements around them – Earth, Moon, Sun & Water. That respect extends to the cultivation of the grapes that are used to create Amaicha wines.”

Amaicha Bonarda “is a red wine that originates in Italy, but is actually the most widely grown grape in Argentina. It produces a lush, medium-bodied wine with ripe plum and blackberry flavors. This one’s terrific for cocktails and equally appropriate for serving with pasta or even meatloaf.”

What I Think:

Ah, the perfect use for this Bonarda. This is the wine to choose with pasta on the menu. As that was my intention this evening I did just that. Many people tend to say if you wouldn’t drink it don’t cook with it. While I tend to agree with that my $20 bottle of wine isn’t going in the sauce. With this around it is possible to make purists and my wallet happy. And if you don’t happen to have that $20 bottle around this will serve quite well as the primary wine to accompany the dish…

Rating: Buy It

2005 Amaicha Bonarda

Price: $1.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Goldschmidt Vineyards

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer from October of 2006; “Amaicha wines are named after a small village in the northern Argentinean province of Tucuman. “The indigenous people of this town have a special reverence for what they call Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and they celebrate their admiration for the earth’s goodness with both festivals and a way of life that respects the elements around them – Earth, Moon, Sun & Water. That respect extends to the cultivation of the grapes that are used to create Amaicha wines.”

Amaicha Bonarda “is a red wine that originates in Italy, but is actually the most widely grown grape in Argentina. It produces a lush, medium-bodied wine with ripe plum and blackberry flavors. This one’s terrific for cocktails and equally appropriate for serving with pasta or even meatloaf.”

What I Think:

We had some friends over some nights ago to baby-sit. These friends are perhaps some of my only regular readers of this blog. My wife made them some dinner and I left them a range of bottles to select from including this, my other TJ’s favorite the 2005 Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo Carmenere and another option that I used to make sure I didn’t look like a cheapskate. He chose the Bonarda. I can tell you that he seemed quite happy with his choice that evening and I tried to entice him to provide some guest commentary which I have yet to receive. Should that make it my way I will be sure to update here.

Bottom line, a $2 bottle of wine you can serve to babysitters. What else could the rating be?

Rating: Bulk Buy

2005 Amaicha Bonarda

Price: $1.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Goldschmidt Vineyards

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer from October of 2006; “Amaicha wines are named after a small village in the northern Argentinean province of Tucuman. “The indigenous people of this town have a special reverence for what they call Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and they celebrate their admiration for the earth’s goodness with both festivals and a way of life that respects the elements around them – Earth, Moon, Sun & Water. That respect extends to the cultivation of the grapes that are used to create Amaicha wines.”

Amaicha Bonarda “is a red wine that originates in Italy, but is actually the most widely grown grape in Argentina. It produces a lush, medium-bodied wine with ripe plum and blackberry flavors. This one’s terrific for cocktails and equally appropriate for serving with pasta or even meatloaf.”

What I Think:

This Bonarda is the current mainstay in our house. So with Mac & Cheese on the stove I grabbed a bottle. I honestly don’t remember all that much about it which at this price point, $1.99, I tend to think of as a good thing…

Rating: Buy It

2005 Amaicha Bonarda

Price: $1.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Goldschmidt Vineyards

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer from October of 2006; “Amaicha wines are named after a small village in the northern Argentinean province of Tucuman. “The indigenous people of this town have a special reverence for what they call Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and they celebrate their admiration for the earth’s goodness with both festivals and a way of life that respects the elements around them – Earth, Moon, Sun & Water. That respect extends to the cultivation of the grapes that are used to create Amaicha wines.”

Amaicha Bonarda “is a red wine that originates in Italy, but is actually the most widely grown grape in Argentina. It produces a lush, medium-bodied wine with ripe plum and blackberry flavors. This one’s terrific for cocktails and equally appropriate for serving with pasta or even meatloaf.”

What I Think:

I have been watching a lot of the Tour de France lately and by some strange way came to think of this wine in regards to the cyclist that compete there day in and day out. Given that this was the 4th of the 26th bottles of this is Bonarda I have on hand you could view each as a stage. Some days you will certainly be on top form and others you may not be quite as up to the task.

For those that remember my last encounter with this wine was the first time this wine showed what the cyclist would refer to as a crack in the armor (or armour depending on my audience). With bolognese on the menu it was time to give this wine another try. Well tonight this bottle was “back on form” in tour talk. I’ll stop there with the analogies as my wife always told me that I haven’t been any good with them anyway. It starts with light, lively aromas with wooden overtone omnipresent and the fruit slowly comes forward. It is almost as if you slowly lowered your head right into the barrel. The palate doesn’t match, when I say that I mainly mean in the context of light. On the tongue you are immediately greeted with barrel flavors but the fruit quickly establishes itself at the front of your palate leading to a balance, toasty, spicy finish. The thing that struck me tonight was that this wine is certainly more manufactured in the winery than I previously allowed myself to believe. At $2 of course I was in denial but I was happy there!

Rating: Bulk Buy

2005 Amaicha Bonarda

Price: $1.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Goldschmidt Vineyards

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer “Amaicha wines are named after a small village in the northern Argentinean province of Tucuman. “The indigenous people of this town have a special reverence for what they call Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and they celebrate their admiration for the earth’s goodness with both festivals and a way of life that respects the elements around them – Earth, Moon, Sun & Water. That respect extends to the cultivation of the grapes that are used to create Amaicha wines.”

Amaicha Bonarda “is a red wine that originates in Italy, but is actually the most widely grown grape in Argentina. It produces a lush, medium-bodied wine with ripe plum and blackberry flavors. This one’s terrific for cocktails and equally appropriate for serving with pasta or even meatloaf.”

What I Think:

As many of you know this Bonarda has been generating a lot of excitement in my house as its campaign for “Value Wine of the Year” rolls on. So though I didn’t mention it when discussing the Gewurzt when I came home from sushi last Saturday I had a hankering for a glass of wine before bed. As I already had the white chilling for dinner tomorrow I popped that one open and quickly determined it wasn’t what I was after. So I turned to old faithful. It is amazing the different experiences you can have with the same exact bottle of wine based on surroundings, company, food, and other variables. This was the first time this wine left something to be desired. So I started thinking what was different. The closest I could identify it must be related to not cleansing the palate before sipping this one. I had it without food in the same types of situations and had always been pleased so as far as I could tell that was the only new wrinkle. So Bonarda lesson #1, “Always cleanse palate before switching to this wine.” A few days later when I got back to this wine it was as I remembered it. Light fruit on the nose with a more brooding demeanor on the palate before giving way to a pleasing finish.

 Still yet, though brief, that minor unpleasant episode has inflicted enough damage that I have temporarily, or at least I hope, revoked the “Bulk Buy” rating. On a side note, I am not sure how I intend to continue handling this wine. As I have two cases and intend to be drinking it regularly over the next few months not sure that I am going to post them all and if I do it will be brief. Perhaps I can try to infuse those posting with comparison to other wines I am drinking around the same time. Keep your eyes open as there is certainly more to come. Can this wine reclaim the glory of yesteryear? Try not to let the suspense keep you up a night…

Rating: Buy It

2005 Amaicha Bonarda

Price: $1.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Goldschmidt Vineyards

What They Said:

Per Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer “Amaicha wines are named after a small village in the northern Argentinean province of Tucuman. “The indigenous people of this town have a special reverence for what they call Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and they celebrate their admiration for the earth’s goodness with both festivals and a way of life that respects the elements around them – Earth, Moon, Sun & Water. That respect extends to the cultivation of the grapes that are used to create Amaicha wines.”

Amaicha Bonarda “is a red wine that originates in Italy, but is actually the most widely grown grape in Argentina. It produces a lush, medium-bodied wine with ripe plum and blackberry flavors. This one’s terrific for cocktails and equally appropriate for serving with pasta or even meatloaf.”

What I Think:

To celebrate the fact that we picked up a case of this wine I decided to open one up and try it out on some friends. I had a bottle last week and was impressed so I was anxious to see what others thought. It was a unanimous success! I enjoyed this bottle as much as the last. Looks like if I really want another case I may be racing my friends to the store.

Rating: Bulk Buy

2006 El Portillo Malbec

Price: $6.99 @ The Wine Club imported by The San Francisco Wine Exchange

What They Said:

Per the Importer “Deep hues of ruby red gain intensity from shades of shimmering violet in this Malbec with good structure, medium acidity and a long finish. Rich with fruit, the nose is reminiscent of plums and blackberries. Tannins as soft as velvet set the stage for an enviably round finish.”

What I Think:

This is a bottle I picked up while grabbing the Ridge when I was shopping at The Wine Club. As mentioned previously I have been impressed by their prices. This one retails at $13.99 at BevMo and even if you get it at their sale price of $9.99 you are still paying almost 50% more than the $6.99 price tag you find at The Wine Club.

This one we opened when we had my dad and his wife, as well as another couple, over for dinner so my notes and thoughts on this bottle are limited. On opening this and taking a look there is nothing notable about the color but when you stick your nose in the glass the fruit interlaced with spices that I was expecting doesn’t appear. I think to myself that this doesn’t bode well. On the palate you find a nice light texture laced with light fruit that gives way to darker, chocolate-y flavors as we move along the palate before winding down to a soft finishing of lingering tannins in the back of the mouth. Perhaps pasta wasn’t the best pairing as the fruit seemed somewhat repressed and muted in comparison to my expectations. The bottle did improve as the night went on but never really moved beyond an average effort. Given that I prefer bottles I have had in the past. If you want an easy drinker stick to the Alamos or if you prefer something more complex grab a bottle of the Terrazas de los Andes.

A final thought on the wine club, of the six bottles I brought home along with the Ridge to date I have consumed four. It appears I have chosen poorly. It makes me believe that roaming the store and buying wine on the spot based on the staff write-up isn’t a good idea for me. Perhaps the two Pinot’s I have remaining will change my mind.

Rating: Skip It