Les Martinieres table wine: YOU MAKE ME WANT TO –

14 10 2012

Today we look at a French white wine.  Seven dollars at Total Wine.

If you get excited about great food.

If you get excited about delicious wine.

If you like a bargain, but you love an extreme bargain — then it’s time to discover Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s Thanksgiving: What wines should you buy?

19 11 2011

Hello!  Today we are going to get right to the point.  For Thanksgiving, here is what I recommend:

1.  Do not buy “Beaujolais Nouveau,” no matter how much your wine store pushes it.  It is light, boring, and basically worthless.  Ha!  THAT should generate some friendly comments.  Just to put the cherry on top of my popularity profile, you should also avoid California chardonnay at Thanksgiving.  Its flavors are non-complimentary and too dominating.  For turkey, cranberries and stuffing, the next 3 wines are where you want to be.

2.  Zinfandel.  This is THE All-American grape, and yes, it goes very well with turkey.  For a very friendly, sweeter version of this very Thanksgiving-ish red wine, buy 99 Vines for $10.   Try 1 bottle first, and make sure you like it.  For $10 it’s a great value, but it may not be for everybody.

For a more serious, kickass zin, acquire Oak Ridge ancient vine zinfandel, just $12 at Total Wine.  This wine is very dark purple, oaky, spicy, with some sweetness way in the background, and basically acts like a wine that costs almost twice as much.  For a better, more well-known name, buy Ridge “Three Valleys” zin, for $20.  Yes, the Ridge “Three Valleys” is superior, but is it 67% better than Oak Ridge?  No.  For a serious knockout punch, you can buy any zin by Ridge in the $30-and-up range.

3. Pinot Noir.  Buy a bottle of La Crema pinot, the “Monterey” version.  I reviewed it here.  More light on its feet than a zinfandel.  It’s $20.  If that’s more than you are used to spending:  just trust me.  This wine is lovely, spicy, and tastes very organic.  It adds a LOT to any Thanksgiving dinner.  In my opinion, more important than the zinfandel.

For a bolder, also-excellent pinot, buy Hahn SLH Estate pinot noir from Santa Lucia Highlands, which I reviewed here.  It’s around $25, and again, worth every penny.

4. Sparkling pink stuff.  If you want your Thanksgiving table to say “FUN!” loud and clear, add a bottle of Martini & Rossi sparkling wine from Italy, reviewed here.  On the back, it says “Rosé.”  To you and me, it’s pink champagne.  And it’s good.  Only $15.  Definitely not bone-dry, this one’s a crowd pleaser.  Don’t bother with snooty impressive champagnes up to $50, because they are mostly terrible.

So, I am recommending 2 reds, and a sparkling rosé if you want a high fun factor.

If you want a white wine, I recommend the super-friendly David Hill “Farmhouse White” blend from Oregon.  Around $11.  Floral and tropical, this is a brilliant blend of mild sweetness with crisp tartness and acidity.  You don’t want your white wine to steal the show at Thanksgiving, and this won’t.

Have a wonderful holiday!

ridge zinfandel99 vines zinfandeloak ridge zinDavid Hill Farmhouse White





Schloss Kinzer gruner veltliner review: summer wine with emotional baggage

9 07 2011

Today we check out a 2009 gruner veltliner from Austria that cost me $13 at Premier Wine in Wilmington, Delaware.  But you get a full 1 liter instead of the usual 0.75-liter bottle, so think of it as a $9.75 wine.

This more-for-the-money white wine is delicious and PERFECT for summer.  It’s light.  It’s refreshing.  It has hints of vanilla and minerality.  But mostly it’s honeysuckle, melon and zingy citrus that will be cooling off your taste buds.  A nice balance of mellow sweetness against tangy lime, this uncommon grape with the funny name sort of tastes like a cross between pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc.  It’s more dry than sweet.

The floral aroma is lovely — and on day 2 it actually brought a tear to my eye, by reminding me strongly of a smell I enjoyed at summer camp when I was just 5.  (I’m still not sure what that aroma was, but it might have been simply the grass we played on.)  It’s not a “great” wine, but being light, refreshing, and coming in a full liter bottle, Schloss Kinzer is definitely a party wine.  I liked this Austrian the moment I tasted it at the store.  It is:  

Schloss Kinzer gruner veltliner reviewRecommended.





Mommy’s Time Out white wine review

10 11 2010

Today’s subject is a 2009 blend of garganega (70%) and pinot grigio (30%) from Italy that costs just $7.

With a name like this, I pretty much HAVE to recommend it, don’t I?  (Wait . . . does mommy really want a “time out”?)  Let’s dive in:  Mommy’s Time Out smells harmless and slightly fruity, with some  lemon and honeysuckle.  Pretty.  It tastes. . . “OK”.  Kind of flat and plain.  Mildly sweet.  Very easy to drink, with just 11.5% alcohol.  Not much tartness or acidity.

It’s better than a cheap pinot grigio, because it’s less alcohol-ish.  And better than a cheap California chardonnay, because it tastes like wine.  But describing the flavor is hard:  if I say “pears” or “melon” or any other common thing, I’ll get struck by a bolt of lightning.  Mommy’s Time Out just refuses to taste like anything specific.  Maybe diluted sweetened lemon?

I probably won’t buy more, even though $7 is a great price.  Don’t forget, for $8 you can get the lovely Anakena sauvignon blanc, and for $6, the spectacularly acceptable Jacob’s Creek chardonnay.  Although it’s a close call because this blend is so easy to drink, this forgettable wine with the unforgettable name is:

Not recommended.

Next!





Pine Ridge chenin blanc/viognier review – INTERRUPTED

1 07 2010

Today we review the very affordable $11 2008 – WOW!

— sorry,  this review is being interrupted because I’ve just tasted a flat-out delicious and obviously “Best Value” white wine.  Pine Ridge’s chenin blanc/viognier blend from California is balanced, interesting, and tastes like pears, citrus, melons and green peppers.  Yes, green peppers.  When I say “balanced” I mean that the sweetness from the viognier is countered nicely by the citrus acidity in the chenin blanc.   This stuff is unbelievable.  And it’s only $11?  WTF?

Just buy it — trust me.  

See, I’m like Colin Powell, except I’m not an impressive war leader, and you’re not the white house press corps trusting the U.S. military for the first time since Viet Nam.  (And, instead of caring about Washington news, you’re mainly looking to get buzzed on white wine.   Wait, that makes you EXACTLY LIKE the white house press corps.) 

Highly recommended.Pine Ridge chenin blanc/viognier review





Espiral vinho verde review

27 06 2010

Today we review a white wine from Portugal available at Trader Joe’s for the remarkable price of $4.

Let’s be honest, at this low price, a wine doesn’t have to do very much to achieve a recommendation.  As long as it doesn’t suck, it should be recommendable.  (In fact, this wine was featured in the “Cheap Wines That Don’t Suck” column in the San Francisco Weekly.)  But this wine actually does some things very well.   

Espiral vinho verde is perfect for a starter wine at a summer party.   “Starter” meaning that the guests are just arriving, it was hot as a firecracker outside, and they are saying hello and getting comfortable.  Why does Espiral work here?  It’s light.  REALLY light.  And it’s fun, because it’s a little bit bubbly.  Effervescent.  Spritzy.  It’s also fun because, as my foodie friends who introduced me to Espiral pointed out, it tastes like a green apple Jolly Rancher.  Finally, it’s very low alcohol, so it won’t bog anybody down as they begin to enjoy your party.

On the downside, depending on your tastes, this crisp white wine is very simple, lacking depth and “oomph”.  And it’s extremely dry.  Some people want their white wine to provide some ooey-gooey sweetness.   (Although I think some of these people will come around once you lay the Jolly Rancher comparison on them.)

Serve this one very well-chilled.  Enjoy!

Espiral vinho verde review





La Chapelle de la Bastide picpoul review

11 06 2010

Today we review a $10 picpoul blanc, a French white wine. 

This white with the pretty green bottle and the difficult French name (La Chapelle de la Bastide Picpoul de Pinet 2008 …whew!) is dry and tart, with citrus and a hint of sweetness, but mostly a large dose of minerality.  It’s not QUITE like licking a block of calcium, but there is a clear mineral character and aftertaste to this wine.  Actually it’s more like an afterfeel left on your tongue.  It’s not for everybody, but I like it.

Will this wine change your life, with waves of delicious new flavors and deep complexity?  No.  But it’s only $10, so it’s definitely worth trying because it’s just so different.   I enjoy this on its own, and I can see pairing it with almost anything, other than a meat dish.  Pasta?  Sure.  Shrimp hors d’œuvres?  Absolutely.  Hummus?  A salad course?  Whatever!  And it’s always fun to bring to a party because the odds are very high that nobody else will have ever tried a picpoul (or, probably, even heard of it).  

How is it different from a sauvignon blanc?  It’s not as clean.  Unless you drink this picpoul ice-cold, it will make a definite statement on your taste buds and won’t let go as easily as a sauvignon blanc will.

Recommended, for a time when you want to try something different and affordable.

La Chapelle de la Bastide picpoul review