Heron cabernet sauvignon review: GOLDILOCKS, I THINK I LOVE YOU

20 08 2011

Hello!  Up next in our special series of affordable cabernets with one-word names that start with H, we have Heron, a $13 cab from Mendocino, California’s 2009 vintage.

WOW, what’s up with Heron??  This cab is only $13, yet it has exactly what I want: dark ruby color, plentiful tannins, that warm black raspberry/currants taste, and a medium-to-heavy feel.  It improved on day 2, but I was happy when it was first uncorked.  The noticeable oak is like the middle dish in that bedtime story: “just right.”  In fact, Heron cabernet does almost nothing wrong, and as a bonus, it’s only 13% alcohol.  So it won’t rock your block.  Unless you drink the whole bottle in one sitting, which you will be tempted to do.  

This $13 wonder gets a “Best Value” award.  Even at $18 (which is what Total Wine charges, for some reason), the price would seem right.  Still going strong on day 3, this lovely California girl is:

Highly recommended.

Advertisements




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.





Peirano Estate Heritage Collection petite sirah review: OH MAMA

30 06 2011

Hi!  This (hopefully) wraps up our special series of rushed, poorly written wine reviews of good wines.  Today we chug down a 2008 petite sirah from Lodi, California that costs around $13.

Peirano Estate is not super well-known, but the label says they have been growing grapes since 1895 (wow).  This Heritage Collection petite sirah is full bodied, super dark, deep, luscious, ripe, oaky, warm, and very juicy.  It has a medium-to-high amount of mouth-drying tannins, and it doesn’t have too much of any one thing, so its elements come together with impressive balance.  (Many petite sirahs can be tannic monsters.)

For $13, this wine is flat-out incredible.  I would have recommended it at $18.  The only thing that seems “less than $20” about Peirano Estate Heritage Collection is that the various fruit flavors are hard to pin down — you just know you’re getting dark red and black fruits — and that’s fine.  It’s possible that you will find it too heavy, or just “too much,” but that’s true for any petite sirah.  This one is delicious, is hereby awarded a “Best Value” award, and is:

Peirano Estate Heritage Collection petite sirah review

Highly Recommended.





Domaine Guillaman white wine review

30 06 2011

Continuing our special series of disappointingly inadequate wine reviews, today it’s a 2010 French white wine that is a blend of colombard and ugni-blanc.  It costs $10.

Have I ever had an ugni-blanc before?  No.  A colombard?  No sir.   I avoid weird wine names such as these like the plague. 

Yet, I can tell you, this Domaine Guillaman Cotes de Gascogne white wine is very inexpensive, and ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC.  It’s very minerally and citrusy, yet has a round, semi-sweet melon flavor in the background.  And the cool chick at the wine store sensed some basil in there, too. 

I see it’s selling in plenty of places for less than $10.  Nice!  If you like minerally — jump on this.  If not, avoid it.  I’m jumping.

Domaine Guillaman white wine reviewRecommended.





Wheelhouse cabernet review: YEAH, BABY

18 05 2011

Wheelhouse cabernet reviewHere’s a 2008 Napa Valley cabernet that sells at Cost Plus World Market for $13, on sale from $18.

Folks, the mission here is to review affordable wines that you can find.  Today, that rule is bent in case you are near a World Market, which has an exclusive on Wheelhouse.  Or near a restaurant that’s smart enough to carry this Napa Valley cab, like Columbus Inn on Pennsylvania Ave. in Wilmington, DE.

That’s because Wheelhouse cabernet is fresh, delicious, natural-tasting, dark-fruited, spicy, and I Can, Not, Stop, drinking it.  Wow — $13, for this?  Mouth-drying tannins, juicy dark cranberry flavors, combined with some oak, a hint of rhubarb and vanilla, and . . . drum roll please . . .  it’s not too sweet.  Medium-bodied, and light on its feet for a California cab, you can enjoy Wheelhouse with almost anything.  Not endlessly complex, but way more interesting than most California reds I’ve had under $20.

I would say that it’s great for a party, but you want this wine for yourself.  A humongous Best Value at $13, receiving a standing ovation at $18, and dangerously close to being awarded a “Best of the Best” designation at ANY price, Wheelhouse cabernet is:

Highly recommended.





Uppercut cabernet review: VERY NOT BAD!?!

12 05 2011

Today we review a 2007 Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon that’s around $20.

Uppercut cabernet reviewHi there!  I bet you’re wondering if Uppercut cab is any good.  The answer is, yes!  It’s VERY good.  It’s reliable, won’t piss anybody off, and looks beautiful in your glass with its deep ruby red color.  At a recent mini-tasting at a nice restaurant, Uppercut was the stand-out cabernet winner: smells like cedar and vanilla.  Great mouthfeel, a deep, dark-fruited taste, and a finish that cries out for steak.  This wine does nothing wrong, balancing blackberry/cranberry fruit with oaky, mouth-drying tannins.

However!  “Not doing anything wrong” could be its downfall. Uppercut is a little bit regular.  At $20 a bottle, I’d like a little more personality, something quirky, something more memorable. Maybe that’s wishful thinking — let’s not forget, this bottle says “Napa Valley” on the label.  I think we’re paying something, just for that name.  If it were $15, Uppecut would be a HUGE recommendation, and a clear Best Value winner.  At $20, I am happy to say that it is:

Recommended.





Wineguider: wine review shootouts

27 02 2011

Welcome to Wineguider, the wine comparisons website.  All shootouts, all the time.  Some of them, not even close to fair.  Our simple mission:  we review affordable wines that you can actually find at the store.  Please subscribe over there on the right, to be the first to receive each new wine review.  Enjoy!