2007 Chateau des Cleons Muscadet Sevre et Maine “Sur Lie”

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Plume Ridge Wine Negotiants

What They Said:

Per FrenchWineGift.com, on the ’06, “Château des Cléons is located in the Loire Valley, close to the city of Nantes and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a dry white wine made of 100% Melon de Bourgogne. As its name implies, this is a variety which was imported (expelled might be a better term) from the vineyard of Burgundy. Most Muscadet is sold as Muscadet de Sèvres et Maine. It is produced on the gently hilly banks of the Sèvres and Maine rivers, two tributaries of the Loire. Château des Cléons is a Muscadet sur Lie, meaning that the wine is matured on the lees, and bottled straight from the barrel.

Château des Cléons has a light yellow color with green nuances. It has a subtle and complex nose with citrus aromas. In the mouth it is aromatic and intense with a long finish. Enjoy it with fish, seafood or on its own. It should be drunk young.”

What I Think:

Always willing to give a new varietal a try I grabbed this one off the shelf. Half the fun of these bottles is learning more about the grape. Melon de Bourgogne is so associated with this popular appellation of the western Loire that the grape itself is often known as Muscadet. As mentioned above this grape originated in Burgundy where it was found to be a nuisance and thus ordered destroyed. This led to its reappearance in the Muscadet. Other items of interest include this wine being made by the Lacheteau family. This is of note because I have seen bottlings at Trader Joe’s bearing this name. Also “Sur Lie” means aged on the skins.

Now as for the wine itself, I think we have a winner. A week or so before having this one I had a similar offering from K&L Wines. This one compared very well. To describe it in a nutshell it was light, surprisingly crisp and refreshing. A nice dry, tart beginning gives way to a nice long lemon, citrusy finish. This is a perfect bottle for a summer picnic or barbecue. Another great Trader Joe’s wine find!

Rating: Buy It

2006 Les Caves Joseph White Bordeaux

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Plume Ridge Wine Negotiants

What They Said:

Per the bottle “This blend of Sauvignon Blanc (50%) and Semillon (50%) produces a brilliant and silvery robe. The complex nose, blending floral and citrus aromas, reveals a perfect balance between fruit and wood, which makes this very enjoyable.”

What I Think:

After an amazing glass at Fleur de Lys a few months back I went combing the shelves at Trader Joe’s for a Pouilly Fuisse (a French appellation widely known for Chardonnay) to see how it could compare. I didn’t find one then I did come across this Sauvignon/Semillon blend that my wife and I fell in love with back on our honeymoon in New Zealand (especially the Pegasus Bay!).  I grabbed it without hesitation.

After pulling the cork this one seems like a winner. As it got closer to room temperature it began to show some chinks in the armor. The racy, mineral backbone that I thought was there disappeared leaving only light floral notes intermingled with barrel type flavors. Not bad, just not what I was hoping for after the first sip. This could sneak into my cart again but more likely not. You are better off grabbing a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc like this Geyser Peak.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2006 Michel Leon Gewurztraminer

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Plume Ridge Wine Negotiants

What They Said:

Per Hawks Head Wines “The Laugel family have been producing wine here since 1889 when Alsace was part of Germany. With classic rose petal and lychee aromas this elegant white has good varietal character and lovely complexity. Grapefruit and citrus notes keep it refreshing and the finish is long and balanced with good integrated acidity. This is a lovely example of this Alsace speciality, drinking well now but will keep to 2009. (Drink now to 2011)”

What I Think:

Another Gewurztraminer from the Alsace. As you can see from my write up on the Marcel Hugg. This was even before my recent return visit to Fleur de Lys where I had the Trimbach once again. Amazingly enough, they have this same Trimbach at Trader Joe’s. If you feel like dropping a $20 spot on that one stop reading here.

Now back to this wine. Hard to find a write up here, awfully common for wines for Trader Joe’s wines I find. I was able to track down something from a UK retailer selling this at £8 (about $16) which makes this one at $7 seem quite the steal already. On the nose you get light floral and citrus notes. On the palate the profile is almost custard like and at first I thought it was sweet. Later I realized it was more from a texture perspective than on the palate. The fruit, mostly lemon, faded quickly and led to a nice tight mineral finish. We had this as an aperitif before dinner with cheese and it worked perfectly. Not as good as the Marcel Hugg but good enough to buy until I find something better.

Rating: Buy It

2005 Losen Estate Riesling Kabinett

Price: $5.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Plume Ridge Wine Negotiants

What They Said:

Per Wine-O-Rama “Found this today at Trader Joe’s for $8.29. We thought it must be horrid, but turned out to be quite nice. As is typical for rieslings from the Mosel, lots of apple and pear. Hardly anything from the citrus posse (which we love in a riesling.) Kabinett? Hardly. 9.5% alcohol and nothing very subtle about it. Could use a bit more acidity kick to balance out the sweetness. The bottle also says “Estate Bottled.” Huh? NOT Estate Grown… But this was still pretty good in spite of its shortcomings (and at a great price!) It’s not quite up there with world class German rieslings, but ALMOST. It’s worth getting more (if more exists by the time we get back to Trader Joe’s!”

What I Think:

I opened this bottle when my wife mentioned we were having Thai, due to missing ingredients fajitas made it to the table instead. Without regard to the deviation in plan I poured the wine. The results were somewhat ambiguous. This Riesling is the definition of a quaffer. It has the typical sweetness you would expect but it is not overbearing. This wine showed better on its own given this pairing and would likely excel with, what I view as, a proper spicy Asian food pairing.

I was expecting my first true gift from keeping this blog. I have never, never been able to remember which was the TJ’s Riesling I liked between this and the Dr. Beckermann’s. Now after reviewing both I still don’t know. It seems that they had both of these in stock for an eternity so my next step is a side by side taste test to finally determine the winner. Feel free to try this exercise on your own as this wine won’t disappoint.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2000 Chateau de Panigon Bordeaux

Price: $6.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Plume Ridge Wine Negotiants

What They Said:

“A Middle-class Vintage of very good level with a beautiful presence of the fruity matter. Today the flesh and the structure of the wine remain separate. The wine is still too young. The year 2000 is expressed here by fruity merlot as well with the nose in mouth. But the cabernet and its powerful structure are also quite present in mouth. It is necessary to wait a little so that very harmonizes itself.”

What I Think:

The other night when searching for a bottle to open for a night cap I found this bottle. Knowing that we were having beef tomorrow night I figured I would open it now and sample it while simultaneously giving it some time to breathe allowing it to show the best it had to offer come dinnertime the next day. All in all I wasn’t impressed. Not that this was a bad wine, it seemed quite nice. As I have yet to have that eye opening experience with Boudreaux perhaps I am still not clear on how one is to be appreciated. $7 for this bottle seems fair but I would be tempted to look for better, especially from this vintage which was suppose to be a knockout. This effort showed aromas of dark fruit with floral undertones lingering on top of spicy barrel notes. On the palate the same suspects were present thought the fruit seemed a bit on the thin side. I wonder what the blend ratio on this one is. From the information I found it seems to be a Cab/Merlot but I couldn’t track down any specifics on the percentages. If I had to guess I would say 70% Cab given that it seemed a bit on denser side though the nice tannins on finish left the subject open to debate.

The write-up above mentioned that it needed time to integrate. I think it had enough. With more air it seemed to unravel which is the opposite of what I am used to. It actually seemed to get worse by the day as I continually found myself saying it seemed more complex yesterday. It makes me wish I would have taken better notes the first evening. As this one is to expensive for a 12th bottle so unless you are really craving a Boudreaux I’d have to say “Skip It”. It did remind me that I have to grab one of those bottles of Chateau Laborde out of the cellar; they’ve been down there for a while now and as this wine shows; older doesn’t always mean better

Rating: Skip It

2005 Pont du Rhone Cotes du Rhone

Price: $4.99 @ Trader Joe’s imported by Plume Ridge Wine Negotiants

What They Said:

Per quaffability “This Rhône quaffer features a classic Grenache nose of sage, herb de provence and cherries. With a robust nose, the wine is surprisingly thin in the mouth, with cherries, watermelon, raspberries, and a touch or barnyard. Coming after a sensation of such thiness in the mouth, the simple finish is surprisingly long. This is a pleasant wine, but light. It’s probably best served chilled, and would work well with shellfish or other seafood dishes.”

Interestingly from the label “A wonderfully fruity red wine with violet, spices and choclate aromas. Excellent served with braised red or white meats. It is also an accompaniment for exoticism or very spicy dishes.

What I Think:

Tried this side by side with the Oxford Landing and it paled a bit in comparison. Maybe cause of the blend. This was 40% Grenache 30% Syrah and 30% Mourvedre. Guess that would make it a little less fruity and on the dryer side, no? We had it with turkey tacos and I think this may have been a bit too spicy for the wine so better try the “exoticism” next time. Leaves something to be desired, it seems like it is going somewhere but never arrives. That said, a very drinkable wine. Never would have thought of trying the suggested seafood pairing, maybe I’ll give it a go.

Rating: 12th Bottle

2005 Blason de Bourgogne Burgundy

Price: $5.99 @ TJ’s imported by Plume Ridge Wine Negotiants

 What They Said:

Per quaffability “wine sparked a little controversy at my house. I had low expectations for it, having bought the bottle primarily because I liked the packaging but had never heard of the brand. Drinkable Pinot Noir at this price is impossible to find. Drinkable Burgundy at this price hasn’t been available since Bardot was a pretty young thang. But upon opening I was pleasantly surprised to find a wine that was at least potable, if not quite quaffable.

It had a nose of raspberries with some sandalwood and a touch of barnyard. Pretty normal Burgundy aroma. Color and texture were very light with acidity that bordered on the shrill. The finish was very dry, with a slight resin-like quality in what little flavor that lingered.

After a few sips my drinking partner asked if I was opening another bottle. I said not yet at least. I had a fairly spicy stir-fry on the stove and I though it would do okay with the heat, and it did. After dinner, drinking seemed to become a chore, so we consigned the rest to the lower shelf on the door of the fridge, where sauce wines go.”

What I Think:

In a word, not so good.  I haven’t had too much from the Burgundy region and I learned a very important lesson here, don’t start at the bottom.  If you start way down here how can I tell if this is just bad altogether or if I don’t prefer the region.  Either way, do what you can to keep this out of your house.

Rating: Avoid It