Project Paso red wine blend review: HEY NOW

3 06 2011

Today we look at the 2009 Project Paso red blend from Paso Robles California, which costs around $11.

This is a second label from Sebastiani.  It’s fun and flavorful, with an original personality that will save your life if you are bored to death with same-tasting California reds.  In fact, it is all-around excellent for an $11 wine.  At 14.8% alcohol, it will rock your block.  This is party wine, people.

The fun begins with the funky new unwrappable rubber “cork”, built into the red/orange lid.  Project Paso red blend smells like caramel.  When first opened, it is reserved, with pleasurable medium-bodied texture but mysterious flavors.  On Day 2 it blossoms, jammy, intense, and filled with deep dark fruit.  Moderate tannins.  Luscious black raspberry and cranberry flavors meet up with dark coffee and spices, spices, spices.  All with a slight “dusty” quality.  Brought to a dinner party recently, the bottle was quickly consumed.

A blend of grenache, zinfandel, petite sirah and mourvedre, Project Paso is a clear Best Value winner — hence the guy at the slot machine.  It is enthusiastically:

Project Paso red wine blend review

Recommended.





Chateau Ste. Michelle “Indian Wells” merlot review

1 06 2011

Hi!  Today we are reviewing a 2009 merlot from Washington State that is $13 at Costco.

OK Washington merlot is supposed to be sweet and jammy.  This merlot IS kind of sweet, because it’s very fruit-forward.  But it’s also a little spicy, and has some leather/chocolate going on.  Maybe a tiny bit of tobacco.

At $13, I give it a thumbs-up.  It’s not “great”, but it is definitely nice, and does not do anything wrong if you like warm, jammy, velvety merlot.   BUT — there’s a caveat.  You really have to let it breathe, for at least an hour.  When you first open it, the only thing you will smell is alcohol, and it will be almost tasteless.  Just takes a while to open up.

Chateau Ste. Michelle "Indian Wells" merlot reviewRecommended.





Hahn Winery cabernet sauvignon review: dazed and confused; happy

24 05 2011

Today we review a 2009 cabernet sauvignon from California’s central coast that includes 10% merlot and costs $10 – $11.

OK I am a little confused about “Hahn Estates” vs. “Hahn Winery.”   At the Winery part of their website, you see both Winery and Estates wines for sale.  Also, the Estates label seems to now be called “Hahn SLH Estate”, just for fun. [EDIT: I spoke with Hahn.  For their normal, basic wines, Hahn Estates is the old name and Hahn Winery is the new name.  Hahn SLH Estate is their “upscale” label.”]

This $11 cabernet from Hahn WINERY is really good.  Right now it’s noon, and I just poured myself a little glass, after having sampled it last night.  I like it that much — willing to risk the self-loathing that comes from drinking at home, at noon, on a Tuesday.  (“What has my life come to?  Am I going to be OK?”)  This easy, medium-bodied cab tastes nice and fresh, with lovely dark flavors of blackberry and unsweetened chocolate, balanced by prominent tannins that will suck the moisture out of your mouth faster than chewing up a piece of chalk.  It tastes serious.  Not a fruit bomb.  Not a party wine, more of a steak dinner kind of deal.   

Hahn Winery cabernet sauvignon reviewIt doesn’t give much of an aroma that I can describe, but really, who cares?  Here at Wineguider, we drink wine.  At $10 or $11, Hahn Winery’s 2009 cabernet gets a strong recommendation.  Even at noon.





Kirkland Columbia Valley merlot review

22 05 2011

Today we examine a 2009 merlot from Washington State that costs $9 at Costco.

OK Washington merlot has a reputation.  That being, it is generally on the sweeter side.  It’s a good choice if you want to bring a white wine drinker over to the dark side.

Kirkland Signature Columbia Valley merlot falls right in line with that reputation.  And, it’s pretty good:  soft, medium-bodied, and pleasant.  Warm blackberries, with spicy chocolate.  It’s great for a party — most people will be happy to sip it, and it’s a conversation starter, as in: who knew that such a “bargain brand” could taste this good?  (Idiot wine snobs may talk behind your back, as if you brought some wine that you found at a gas station.  Screw ’em.)  It’s got some mouth-drying tannins, but it mostly soothes you with vague deep, dark fruit flavors.  It does almost nothing wrong. 

I found myself pouring glass after glass, a very positive indicator here at Wineguider.  This easy-drinking red is:

Kirkland Columbia Valley merlot reviewRecommended.





La Crema Monterey pinot noir review: YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION

19 05 2011

Today we look at a 2009 pinot noir from California’s Monterey region that costs around $20.

STOP EVERYTHING – this is to announce that Monterey pinot noirs have overtaken the universe and must be bought!! — ahem, I mean, if you’re looking for pinot, and you want to spend $15 – $20.  Here’s the deal — Oregon pinot is supposed to be so great.  Well, at the $20 price level, Monterey pinot is now COMPLETELY OUTPERFORMING, NAY, EMBARRASSING, Oregon pinot.  That’s saying a lot, because Oregon pinot is my favorite thing to drink in the whole world.  To be specific, La Crema Monterey for $20 is **Far Superior** to these $20-ish Oregon pinots:

  • Erath
  • Cloudline
  • Kudos Reserve
  • A to Z
  • Acrobat
  • Big Fire

La Crema Monterey smells bright, with aromas of spicy raspberry and medium-bodied flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, red cherries, a little rhubarb and vanilla, and a slight “farm fresh” mushroomy earth.  YUMYUMYUMYUM.  This Monterey pinot noir is:

La Crema Monterey pinot noir review

Highly recommended.





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.





Petite Petit red wine review: it goes to 11

17 05 2011

Today we review a very popular 2008 red blend that’s 85% petite sirah and 15% petit verdot.  It’s from California’s Lodi appellation and costs around $18.

This wine is powerful.  Which is what you expect if you’re familiar with these grapes with the dainty-sounding names.  Petite Petit is very juicy and jammy, yet also has medium-to-large amounts of tannins.  Dark purple in your glass, it tastes almost thick.  Somebody took “fruit bomb,” and turned it up to 11.  If you want a deep, extremely dark blackberry-ish red wine, Petite Petit is your answer.

It also has a fantastic label, something that Michael David winery seems to be very good at.

The problem is that the actual flavor of this wine is almost lost.  You’re too busy being overwhelmed by the big juiciness.  (And the feeling that your teeth are now purple.)  When you find them, the flavors in here aren’t really that delicious, so I would not spend another $18 on it.  I prefer this winery’s Incognito, which I reviewed here.

Not recommended.