The Reds of Last Week’s Wine Tasting

Last week I told you I did my first wine-tasting in 19 months, and we had such a great time. We did 8 wines at this particular tasting, so last week I covered the first 5 wines, which were the sparkling, the rose and the whites. This week I’m going to share the red wines.

We had 3 red wines, and started the evening with a Pinot Noir

MacMurray Pinot Noir

From the Russian River Valley in California, I love this Pinot Noir. One of the ladies who didn’t think they liked Pinot Noir, because their experience in the past was a ‘wimpy’ one, like this. This is not a full-bodied wine, it’s medium bodied, but lots of flavor. I found how they used the oak was very interesting. It spent 8months in both French and American oak, but the really interesting part was 20% new barrels and 80% used barrels. The used barrels imparts less oak flavor onto the wine, but ages it smoothly.

Septima Gran Reserva from Argentina

This wine is a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat. When I opened this wine during the wine tasting, the cork crumbled in my hand. I was very concerned. I tried the wine, and although it hadn’t gone skunky yet, you knew it wouldn’t be much longer before the wine was tainted. This is a big bold full-bodied red, great for red meat. All the ladies agreed it wasn’t their favorite wine to sip on, but would compliment food, and I had to agree. Even though it was breathing for about 90 minutes, it didn’t soften the wine. This wine comes in at $42.50 a bottle.

And last but not least, my personal favorite of the evening

Casella 2010 Cabernet

I don’t usually take Australian wines to a wine-tasting, but on a leap of faith from Alex at the NSLC, I took this wine and it was my favorite. Many lesser priced Australian wines can have manipulated oaky flavors, and be a little too oaky for me. Not all, but many. This was not the case with the 2010 Casella Cabernet Sauvignon. It was spectacular. Full-bodied but the oak didn’t overpower, and the 2010 vintage has won awards all over the world. This wine was $50 a bottle, and I have to say it was totally worth it. This is a wine you can sip on its own, or enjoy with food.

Relaxing weekends

If you are interested in having a wine tasting in your home, reach out to me at darlenemyers@hotmail.com. I can do a wine tasting that fits your budget. Next week, I have a Champagne to share with you, a pork tenderloin that changed my mind on pork tenderloin and a new red.

Till next week, Cheers

Darlene

Don’t Wine For Me Argentina

Couch Wine Tour

Although our first full week of full lockdown did provide some challenges, it also held a very bright spot for me. My friend Nancy Johnston and the fine people at Univins and Spirits, shared some Argentinian wines with me and asked could I share them with you.

I get asked all the time where the greatest values in wine are located and Argentina is definitely at the top of the list. These are excellent quality wines at easy to swallow prices. And although Malbec is widely considered the ‘National Wine of Argentina’, they are doing fantastic things with other grape varietals.

I know everyone is missing travelling at this time, and we can’t go in person. Let’s take a little trip to Argentina through our wine glass.

My in-house wine tour

Outside the city of San Juan, lies the Pedernal Valley & Tulum Valley, which are becoming more and more acclaimed for great quality red wines. It is hotter and drier in these Valleys, as opposed to Mendoza, which is the biggest wine making region in Argentina. What does that mean for the wine? Grapes ripen faster, which means a more full-bodied wine with a little higher alcohol content. Don’t mistake that for ‘boozy’, as the wine is not boozy at all, and the alcohol content comes in at around 13.6%, which is very average in a red wine. This Cabernet Syrah blend from Finas Las Moras, is a delicous blend of the two grapes. It’s medium to full-bodied, with a very generous mouthfeel. It’s a perfect pairing for when you are enjoying a grilled piece of meat, and the $16 price tag means you can enjoy more than one bottle.

Smooth and delicious

Do you know what blew me away about the Fincas Las Moras winery? It was founded in 1993. It’s so hard to believe it’s that new. They started small and now export to 45 countries around the world. When you think of wineries in France and Italy making wine for hundreds of years, this vineyard has been doing it since 1993, and doing it really well. This Syrah is an absolute delight. Do not confuse this Syrah with some of the heavy-bodied, oak-laden Shiraz wines out of Australia. Although Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape, it is referred to as Syrah in France, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. Some people have written that Shiraz is ‘New World’, and Syrah is Old World, however, Argentina, Chile and New Zealand are New World wine-making regions. Australia called it Shiraz and kind of made that name its own, and in the U.S. it’s generally known as Shiraz. This Syrah is light to medium bodied, fruit forward and very food friendly. A steal at $15.

And last but not least, one of my favorite wines from Argentina.

After a stressful week, La Mascota Cabernet Franc is a great way to eend the week, it’s perfectly balanced and elegant. Cabernet Franc is the mother grape of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It was once known as a ‘blending’ grape’ in Bordeaux, but it is so interesting and complex on its own. Hand harvested and aged in both French and American oak for 15 months, this gorgeous full-bodied wine has rich fruit and spicy notes. A fantastic wine for under $18.

A very big welcome to all of our new wine loving friends, from near and far. I see that our new friends and followers are from Canada and the U.S., so welcome to my wine journey.

Stay safe everyone. Till next week, Cheers

How Merlot Can You Go

Cheers

I’ve been on a real Merlot kick lately. I love Merlot.

Merlot is the #1 grape varietal in France and the #2 varietal in the world, behind Cabernet Sauvignon. Merlot is a full-bodied grape but less aggressive than Cabernet Sauvignon, as it’s not as tannic. (A tannic wine will get your two jawlines singing) It’s smooth and lush, and great for pairing with food. Before I get into some of the new Merlot wines I have tried recently, I wanted to share this with you.

4 years ago yesterday

Yesterday marked 4 years since I became a Certified Sommelier.

I worked really hard for 5 years to get this Certification, so I was really proud. Hundreds of hours in a classroom and even more time spent studying. I always joke and say I loved the homework, but believe me, this was a lot of work and I’m incredibly proud of this accomplishment. Considering I do not work full time in the wine industry, one of the reasons I keep writing this blog is so that I don’t get rusty on wine. (Other than the drinking part) Doing this blog not only encourages me to continue trying new wines, it also has me reading up on what’s happening in the wine world & the latest trends.

I have it framed and proudly displayed

So let me share with you some of the new Merlot wines I have tried lately.

Ghost Pines Merlot

I’m not sure if this is being discontinued in Nova Scotia, but I believe it was originally around $27.99 and it was on sale for $21.99, and I think I may have bought the last one at my neighbourhood NSLC. I enjoyed this, it had a real smoky flavor to it, which paired wonderfully with the meat I had on the grill. You would be hard pressed to find a rating from a wine critic less than 90 Points on this wine, it’s that good. If you see it, and it’s on sale, I recommend you scoop it up.

Sterling California Merlot

This wine was so good! And for a week, it was on sale here. Still a great value at $17.99, I picked up a couple of bottles when it was $15.99. A note to my Newfoundland friends, this wine is available at the NLC as well. The Vintner Collection from Sterling represents a distinct quality, and Wine Spectator says it was plush and well spiced. And that’s what Merlot is all about!

Think Outside the Box

I like to think outside the box when it comes to my wines, so its always fun to try a Merlot (or your favorite wine) from a different country. Chile is producing some fantastic Merlot wines. Chile is producing some great wines period. Although Merlot was bought to South America in the 19th Century, it wasn’t until the Chile & Argentina wine boom of the 1990’s that people started appreciating the Merlot made there. This is a great Merlot for $18

And last, but certainly not least, the biggest treat in my two weeks of Merlot madness! It was amazing. Here’s what the winemaker had to say.

“Our 2017 Sandstone Merlot has inviting notes of ripe fig and pomegranate, with a hint of sandalwood. This delicious Merlot bursts with berry flavors from cranberry, grilled cherry and acai, finishing with a nice lingering acidity.”

Wente was named American Winery of the Year in 2011 and it started in 1883 with Carl Wente. 4th generation siblings, Eric, Phillip & Carolyn took it over in the late 70’s. This family has been making wine for a long time, and they know how to make it right. It’s a great price at under $24. Sandstone refers to the soil the Merlot grapes were grown in. Some of the great wine regions, like Bordeaux, have Sandstone. You’ll really notice it makes a difference in the wine.

Have a great weekend everyone. Till next week, Cheers

March Madness

Image result for hello march

It’s official.  The worst of winter is behind us.  That’s  not to say we won’t get another snowstorm (or 2) in eastern Canada, but I love to see March.  The days are noticeably longer and Spring is definitely in the air.  You know what’s also awesome about March?  More barbecues! I have tried a couple of new wines this past week, and they would be a great match at your next barbecue.

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Let’s start things off with this kick ass Malbec my friend Judy bought over last weekend.  An award winner, and 91+ points across the board, including a 92 from wine critic James Suckling.  We enjoyed the 2013 vintage, and it had spent 12 months in French oak, and personally I thought it needed to breathe for 30 minutes.  You could taste wood, and it was a little hot on first sip, but once we let it sit, it was magnificent.  The winemaker, Germán Di Césare, has been quoted as saying ‘The best measure of a wine’s worth is an empty bottle’!  I love that quote.  And we weren’t long pouring the last sip from this wonderful Malbec.  It was a dark inky purple color and very aromatic, and a  nice long finish.  Two thumbs up!

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Next up, this lovely organic wine out of Italy.  The Amastuola Primitivo (cousin to Zinfandel) is a perfect wine for BBQ fare.   The organically farmed vines sit on a plateau at an altitude of 210 meters above sea level which provides slow ripening and beautiful flavor.  This wine is aged for 18 months, half in oak, the other half in stainless steel.  So, in no way does the oak overpower the wine.  Primitivo is known for its generous fruit and this one has a nice hint of spice as well.  Loved it, and for just $20, I will be buying it again.

And now for my wine of the week…

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All 3 of the wines I have written about this week could easily claim my wine of the week.   Wine of the week started when I wanted to get myself out of a wine rut, because I felt I was drinking the same wines week in and week out.  I made a commitment to my blog readers and to myself that I would try at least 1 new wine per week.  This week I happened to try 3.  They were all so good.  I love discovering new wines, and here’s another that did not disappoint.  Col di Sasso means Stony Hill, and this Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese grapes in this blend were cultivated on the most rocky slopes of the Banfi estate in Montalcino, Italy.  This was a full-bodied wine but the two grapes are blended very well and super smooth. Steal of a deal at just $19, it’s a great expression of an Italian wine.

wine-morning-person

That’s it for me this week.  Have a great weekend everyone, and till next week, Cheers

Darlene

 

90+ Points That Won’t Break The Bank!

90 Points

I know some people aren’t a big fan of wine scores, but I am.  And here’s why.  Wine scores make it easy for the average consumer to buy a decent wine without having to be a Sommelier.  Most people when they go to their favorite wine store or liquor store, it can be confusing to buy wine, especially from countries that do not label by grape varietal, but by region.  A rating system makes it easy for them.  Allowing for the fact that not every person likes every grape variety, however if you like a Shiraz, and you see one at 90 points or more, you don’t have to be a wine expert to figure out that, the 90+ wine could be a pretty decent wine.   There are other scales some critics and wine associations like to use the 1 to 5 scale.  Me, I like the 100 Point System designed by Robert Parker.  As a Sommelier in Training, Wine Blogger, Wine Writer and Wine lover I like the easy to understand language of the 100 Point System.  When I say to someone at work, 92 Points, they know I really really like the wine.

Blends

Once a year, our local NSLC store puts out the 90+ list.  I love this time of the year for discovering new wines, new wines that are at least 90 points, and I especially love it if they come in for a great price.  Like this one…..

Santa Rita Reserve Syrah

The Santa Rita Reserve Syrah was given 92 Points by Wine & Spirits and it comes in at the delicious price of just $16.99.  I can’t remember if I have ever seen a wine at 92 Points for $16.99, so of course I had to buy it and try it immediately.  Fantastic wine.  It’s my new best deal at my local Liquor store.  Santa Rita is one of Chile’s historic wine estates, founded in 1880.  So they have been making wine for a very long time, and they hit it out of the ballpark with this one.  This 100% Syrah beauty is flavorful with ripe dark fruits and some spice.  Great wine for BBQ season, and will also pair well with pizza, pasta and OH, does it not scream out for pork!  This has become a new staple in my wine rack.

Tempranillo

Here’s another beauty.  94 Points by Wine & Spirits and under $20!  That is not a typo.  $19.99 for this gorgeous Finca El Encinal Tempranillo.  It’s the stuff dreams are made of.   Here’s what Wine & Spirits had to say

  Pay no attention to the toasted oak scents that introduce this wine, because they soon leave the scene. Fix your attention instead to the generosity of its fruit, voluptuous and smooth. This is richly layered in flavors (some closer to meat than fruit), with a density that traps and wraps in a lovely way. All in all, a complex wine and an astonishing value. Finca El Encinal is a project from the traditional bodega Franco Españolas de la Rioja” 

And here’s what I have to say.  I had this wine last night with a creamy pasta dish I made.  It’s a kick-ass pasta dish if I do say so myself, with a homemade green olive paste and four cheeses baked in the oven.  I know!   There are a lot of complex flavors in that pasta dish with the different cheeses, olives, garlic and different spices.  And this wine went perfectly with it.

Finca Antigua label  Finca Antigua white

Here’s another Spanish beauty that rated 90+ and came in at under $20.  The Finca Antigua Crianza made from a blend of grapes that will tantalize your senses.  Tempranillo (50%), Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), Merlot (20% and Syrah (10%)  It was then aged in French oak for 12 months .   The grapes were also harvested a little later than usual, in late September and early October.  You know what that means…It will be rounder and fuller and  it’s a fantastic wine for any meat you would want to serve…can you say BBQ !   It also comes in a white variety at an even better price.. $16.99 here.  Made from the yummy Viura grape, one of my favorite white grapes in Spain.  It’s a light-bodied white with fruit and citrus flavors and moderate acidity.  The vineyard, Finca Antigua, was named after the old vines growing on the estate when the Bujanda family bought the vineyard,  in the middle of the La Mancha, which is known for being one of the best wine sites in Spain.

Charles and charles label

Another 90 point rated wine that came in at $18.99 was the Charles & Charles Post 35 Cabernet Sauvignon Blend.   It’s a blend of 58% of Cabernet Sauvignon and 42% Syrah from the beautiful Washington State and will go with everything from steak, to meatballs,  and from pasta to burgers.  This is a big chewy wine that will stand up for itself no matter what hunk of meat your man puts on the grill.  Dark berry fruit with a hint of spice and some chocolate, let’s sit back and enjoy this wine while the men do the cooking.

Wine Time

You know it’s wine time when you get these fantastic wines at decent prices.  Enjoy, and I would love to hear your feedback on these wines.

Until next week, Cheers

Darlene