Cupcake merlot review

9 07 2010

Today we review a nice little merlot from California that costs $10 a bottle.

As we noted previously, Cupcake has a sort of unfair advantage — you can’t help thinking about cupcakes or at least dessert when you try it.  So, like the Cupcake cabernet reviewed earlier, the name may have helped this merlot achieve a recommendation.  Just being honest here.  Cupcake merlot is warm, soft, round, medium-light bodied, and tastes like you expect a California merlot to taste, with just a slight emphasis on the juicier, sweeter side of things.  

It hits you with flavors of dark berries and lays some mild tannins on your tongue. Some California merlots will choke you with too much oaky flavor.  Cupcake does not.  Everything about this wine is moderate, medium, and pleasant.

However, I’ve had 2 bottles that were not so great.  They tasted bleached out and a little bitter.  I’m willing to tolerate that with a wine that is this inexpensive.  But honestly, with Cupcake at $10, I think I would instead select the $11 Zen of Zin most times.  Even though this is not a raving, enthusiastic recommendation, this merlot is:Cupcake merlot review 

Recommended.





Zen of Zin zinfandel review

8 07 2010

Today we review a Sonoma California zinfandel made by Ravenswood  that is $11.

OK, this is a deep, dark wine that smells like coffee and tastes like a typical, smooth, semi-oaky, warm California red.  Unlike lesser zinfandels, Zen of Zin is not a fruit bomb — it has real tannins, and a dry finish.  It’s not complex or superb, but there’s almost nothing wrong with it.  Nothing sticking out here.  Nothing poking your taste buds there.  It’s rich, delicious and affordable.  THAT makes Zen of Zin a “Best Value” (hence the guy at the slot machine).

This is all painful to admit, because I am so turned off by the label.  It proudly commands, like a fat redneck who loves champagne:  “POUR OFTEN:  Especially among friends.  PAIR BOLDLY:  With prime rib, pork, and chocolate.  EXPERIMENT FREELY:  Bring to a party full of Chards.  SHARE WISDOM:  And laughter.  Always laughter.”

Um, OK.  Did Zen of Zin outsource the label to spammers on AOL, who write about dancing like nobody’s watching?  Do we need to be told to pair this wine BOLDLY with pork?  Before this review degenerates any further, I’ll just pour yet another glass of Zen of Zin, and remind myself that this wine is:

Recommended!Zen of Zin zinfandel review





gotham Barossa Valley cabernet sauvignon review

29 06 2010

Today we review gotham 2008 Barossa Valley cabernet sauvignon, which sells for $15 at Premier Wine in Wilmington, Delaware. 

Another big wine from Australia, this 2008 cabernet is powerful, luscious, peppery, very warm, and a deep, dark cranberry red in color.  It has definite fruit, but it’s not sweet.  It has some big, bad tannins.  A texture like a cup of strong coffee that you threw a couple of espresso shots into. 

And it’s clearly a cabernet.  On steroids.  It’s not super complex, but there is plenty here to keep your palate entertained. As well as your nose — the aroma is a combination of dark berry desserts and strong spices.  Let this one breathe — it was noticeably better on day 2.

Is this wine bigger and better than the powerful Jip Jip Rocks, Jacob’s Creek reserve and Incognito reds, reviewed earlier?  Bigger, yes.  Better:  Mmmmaybe.  It’s SO big and powerful that many wine lovers may be turned off.  But if you are all about big, this is your wine. 

Enjoy!gotham Barossa Valley cabernet sauvignon review





Three pinot grigios reviewed

28 06 2010

Today we review 3 pinot grigios: Yalumba ($12), Adelsheim ($15), and Albino Armani ($18).

Bottom line:  Yalumba and Adelsheim are not recommended, based on taste.   Albino Armani is a very nice pinot grigio, but its price makes it a little bit difficult to recommend.

Before we begin: pinot gris and pinot grigio are just two different names for the same white wine grape.   The name used usually depends on the location of the winery — for example, pinot “grigio” is usually used in Italy and California, pinot “gris” in France and Oregon.

1.

Yalumba pinot grigio is Australian and costs $12.  It’s a very dry white wine with lots of acidity and minerality but not much in the way of depth, complexity, or fruit.  More importantly, overall it just isn’t delicious.  A friend who has a great palate noticed a slight aroma of urine. (Yikes.)  The first time I tried it, I agreed.  After a few more encounters with Yalumba I don’t get that anymore, and its clean taste has grown on me a bit, but it’s still not quite good enough to recommend. 

However, I can imagine somebody who really loves dry and minerally white wines being OK with the Yalumba, pairing it with shrimp, sushi or spicy roast chicken. 

2.

Adelsheim pinot gris is from Oregon and costs $15. It is very hard to describe, except that it is definitely not yummy.  In fact, it is awful.  To its credit, it’s not overly sweet, or overly acidic… it doesn’t taste like feet, or anything else that is remotely familiar… and its malignant flavor profile doesn’t linger.  Its minerally texture does linger, but only a little. 

Since I generally respect Oregon wines, I shared the Adelsheim with some friends to see what they thought.  It was universally hated.  I wish I could think of something truly good to say about this wine.  Wait — the label is beautiful, and features a painting of a woman by winery co-founder Ginny Adelsheim.  There!

3.

Albino Armani pinot grigio is from Italy and costs $18 at Total Wine.  It is very pleasant, easy to drink, and has a great balance of sweet and citrusy fruit against mild acidity.  It smells wonderful, with fresh, tropical scents.  And it sort of lights up your mouth.  Nice.  I can’t imagine anybody hating this wine, but I don’t think it is a massive crowd pleaser or incredibly delicious  as a pinot grigio, either.

If Albino Armani were $10 a bottle, I would DEFINITELY recommend it.  At $18, it’s a much closer call.  I think there are better white wine values.   

So, if cost is not a big issue for you, by all  means try the Albino Armani.  I think you’ll be happy you did.  If cost is more important, you can do better with other white wines.  I’ll search for a better value pinot grigio to recommend soon, but previously reviewed white wines that are better values include Nobilo sauvignon blanc and Bree riesling.

Next!





Domaine Serene 2006 “Evenstad Reserve” pinot noir review

2 06 2010

Today we review a 2006 Oregon pinot noir by Domaine Serene called “Evenstad Reserve,” which costs $55 a bottle.  (UPDATE:  As of 2013 the retail price is $65, but you can find it at Total Wine for under $50.)

With this wine, you are entering the big leagues.  It may not be immediately delicious to everyone, but give it a few minutes.  Your first impression will be a reserved feeling of “quality”.  After a while, I predict, you will be addicted.  Bring it to a party and heads WILL turn, if the guests know about wine.  However such a move is risky – Lou might pour half the bottle into the oversized glass of the 20 year-old he’s hitting on, causing you to burst into tears.

This pinot has a gently spicy and very layered taste.  It smells incredible.  I know a woman who can’t drink red wine due to an allergy, and she is very happy to simply take in the aroma of this wine.  Once sipped, you are endlessly entertained by various flavors, like waves arriving on a beach: a hint of cedar, some raspberry, cranberry, and strawberry, oak, fresh spices, and pure pinot magic.  For all its delicacy and complexity, this is a fairly big, medium-bodied wine that shows a deep, dark, ruby red.  Finally, it does not have the stinky barnyard flavors and aromas that many admittedly good pinots have.

This wine wants to breathe for a while before being enjoyed.  It’s best when slightly chilled, as in, refrigerate for 20 minutes before drinking.  The Evenstad Reserve is highly recommended and is a “Best of the Best”.

Enjoy!er





Sexy Wine Bomb red wine review

1 06 2010

Welcome to Wineguider’s wine blog!

Our first post will review Sexy Wine Bomb’s “Blends Have More Fun”, a red wine from California that costs $10 a bottle.

This red is a blend (Merlot: 38%, Zinfandel: 38%, Syrah: 23%, Petite Syrah: 1%) that has a warm, fruit-forward taste with nothing weird going on and a bit of oak and spice in its finish.  I liked it right away.  That loving feeling might wane over time, but so far, this stuff is a hit — and that first impression is just what you need if you’re looking for a wine to bring to a party.  Not to mention the reasonable price tag, and the conversation-starting label, which depicts a bomb next to a sexy female silhouette from an 18-wheeler’s mudflap.

With this wide variety of grapes, you’d expect some complexity, and you do get it, but it’s a $10 version of complexity.   Good enough to be entertaining but not academy award-winning.  Sexy Wine Bomb is a new winery, and this is their first offering, so they need it to work.  And I think it does.  It’s not perfect, and it’s not fall-down-on-the-floor delicious, but at this price it’s appealing and a very solid contender. 

The winery’s quirky website states that the grapes come from “all over California,” but more importantly provides verbatim comments from their pre-release marketing survey (many of which are very negative and are still provided with cheerful commentary from the winemakers).  My favorite comment:  “NO.”

But I say, “YES.”  Enjoy!Sexy Wine Bomb "Blends Have More Fun" red wine