2009 Landing Place Chardonnay

2009 Landing Place ChardonnayPrice: $2.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Landing Place Cellars “Lively apple and lemon aromas and flavors, medium bodied, crisp and creamy with a hint of oak.”

What I Think:

(13.5%) This wine, a Rodney Strong offering, starts soft with lemon edges. Medium bodied with spiced, oak overtones which give way to green apple flavors on a medium/short, creamy finish. Simple, balanced and straightforward. While not overly impressive this certainly delivers beyond its $3 price tag…

Rating: 12th Bottle <- A guilt free bottle worth keeping around the house...

Wine Geek Notes: Winemaker = Greg Morthole

2009 Bonterra Rose

2009 Bonterra RosePrice: $2.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per Bonterra (pdf) “Our Rosé continues to exemplify the standard we set with our first vintage – a dry, crisp, complex and refreshing Rosé with beautiful color. We’ve used a collection of varietals to contribute surprising complexity and a beautiful deep-pink color. For this vintage we focused on Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Carignane and just a little Grenache, all from Mendocino County. The grapes were picked when they had achieved a great balance of ripe fruit and racy acidity. They were then cold-fermented in stainless steel to preserve the great floral and fruit aromas. The knock-your-socks-off color is just the beginning. Chilled a bit, the wine reveals aromas and flavors of strawberry, tart cherry, raspberries, watermelon, and spice with a wonderful dry, lingering finish.

What I Think:

(13.4%) 45% Sangiovese, 26% Zinfandel, 15% Carignane, 9% Grenache – Bright pink (more than I like) and aged this one starts off on the wrong foot but at $3 I couldn’t help but roll the dice. Simple and mineral driven on the palate with spiced edges. Not much fruit left here but you get some faint strawberries on a dry, clean palate with a nice, crisp finish. Certainly not a bad wine to drink but not one you want to spend time “tasting”. Worth buying at $3 if you are looking for something to mindlessly sip on this summer. I may even grab another bottle or two for myself but this isn’t the steal of a deal I was hoping it might have been…

Rating: Try It (at $2.99 you don’t have much to lose…)

Wine Geek Notes: Certified organic; Twist-off

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

2010 Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve Refosco

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

2010 Trader Joes Petit Reserve RefoscoPer the bottle “Black cherry, plum, cassis with hints of thyme.” As usual not much on these TJ’s offerings. A quick search on Refosco and Paso Robles turns up some interesting things but nothing concrete. Guess this bottle needs to speak for itself…

What I Think:

Refosco you say? What the hell is that! That was my initial reaction when Andy Rathbone kindly sent this recommendation my way. But those of you who read regularly likely already now I am always game for a new wine adventure so I quickly snagged a bottle to see what this was all about…

(13.3%) 75% Refosco, 25% Merlot – Nice, ripe, smooth and juicy berry fruit balanced by a nice earth and spice leading to rustic finish with light lingering tannins and pleasant acidity. My first Refosco experience and this one is a fun change of pace. At $7 I’m not rushing out to grab a case but given its very food friendly I can certainly see another bottle in my future.

Wine Geek Notes: Made by Familia Nueva which rolls up to Ancient Peaks Winery

Rating: Interesting <- a nice bottle that makes me want to try another Refosco…

2010 Fetzer Echo Ridge Sauvignon Blanc

2010 Fetzer Echo Ridge Sauvignon BlancPrice: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s

What They Said:

Per the bottle Balance. I’m a grape-friendly winemaker. Rather than push, I persuade. Our Sauvignon Blanc is a wine that calls for a soft hand to capture the crisp, clean flavors of lemon, green apple and mint making this a popular, food-friendly wine. With its balance of refreshing flavors and smooth taste, this is a great wine to start the end of your day. Pairs well with a salad with goat cheese and shellfish, especially oysters or lighter dishes.

What I Think:

(13.5%) Fresh and grassy on the nose backed by Lemon and mineral notes. Round on the palate with ripe pineapple and grapefruit balanced by a tart acidity. The acidity is followed by a talcy spice and leads to a crisp but short finish. While a bit flabby (could use more acidity IMHO) this is a simple sipper. Can’t knock it but at the same time it isn’t that exciting either. Serviceable may be the word I’m looking for…

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

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…)