March 21, 2012
$11-$20 Price Point, 2008, Cabernet Sauvignon, Kunde Family Estate, Next-Wine-Please!, Sonoma
Cabernet Sauvignon, Kunde Family Estate, Sonoma Valley
Kunde Family Estate 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Valley
Not all grapes and subsequent wines they produce are equal. Typically wineries have 2-3 tiers of wine varying in qualities and prices. Barrels which don’t make the ‘reserve’ or ‘select’ wines are usually bottled in a more mass produced offering – these are very often the price point wines which make it to grocery store shelves. Without a doubt the Kunde Family Sonoma Valley Cab is their lower end, more mass produced tier. I’ve had several of their ‘premium’ offerings ($25-$35) from Kunde and enjoyed them, so I was looking forward to trying their more widely available, $13 price point wine.
Color: Very deep purple – looks very young still.
Nose: Jammy dark plum, earth, some ‘dustiness’, olives, and a little vanilla.
Palate: The same as the nose but really not that enjoyable due to a disjointing harshness between the elements. On the second day, the finish of the wine really took on a bitter quality. Over extracted seed tannin?
Bottom Line: Next-Wine-Please
At the $13 price point, I think I would consider trying another vintage of this wine or look elsewhere on the shelf. I’m pretty sure this is or close to, ‘last run-juice’. (The last juice from the grape press which is typically less fruity, more tannic) I think you could find more value at the $7-$10 price point or a significantly better wine for $20-25. But I would encourage you to try other Kunde Family Estate wines.
March 7, 2012
$10 Price Point, 2008, Buena Vista, Buy-A-Case, Carneros AVA, Pinot Noir
$10, Buena Vista, Carneros AVA, Pinot Noir
Buena Vista 2008 Pinot Noir Carneros
What do you get when you combine Napa and Sonoma counties? Los Carneros AVA, nestled at the base of the two world famous wine regions. Carneros is the first AVA to be defined by its [cool] climate rather than geography. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay thrive in cool climate, foggy environments, generally resulting in wines with bright acidity. It’s no wonder why so many sparking wine producers have set up shop in this AVA. With so much wine on the market, sometimes a $24 bottle of wine finds itself at $10 on the shelves of Trader Joe’s. Awesome, just the kind of wine I want to try!
Color: A lighter, translucent garnet, ruby red.
Nose: Earthy, earthy, earthy! Mushrooms, minerals, slightly vegetal, some dark berries and as the wine is exposed to air, the oak barreling becomes more pronounced, but in balance.
Palate: Layers of earthiness, some dark fruit, toasted oak, with very bright minerality and acidity. Balanced and NICE!
Bottom Line: Buy-A-Case
Here’s a wine which will introduce new Pinot drinkers to the flavors, lightness yet presence good Pinot can and should have. I’ve tasted Pinots 3x’s the price which don’t show the balance and layers this wine does. If you’re a Pinotphile, you’ll wow your friends with this wine (for $10!!!) and it will make a comendable ‘second bottle’ or wet your whistle for a good Pinot on a Tuesday night. What did you think of this wine?
April 27, 2011
$10 Price Point, 2008, Barbera, Dennis Patton, DnA Cellars, Give-A-Try, Mendocino, Trader Joe's Reserve
Trader Joe's Reserve 2008 Barbera Mendocino County
The Wine: Here’s a wine which was released at Trader Joe’s quite sometime ago; but I keep seeing it on the shelves of several TJ’s in the area. This wine stems from a very well known winemaker in Mendocino County, Dennis Patton and his DnA Vineyards. He’s the master mind behind several of my favorite TJ’s wines (Benefactor Cellars, for example) and carries some clout in the Mendo area, being one of the pioneers of a proprietary blend of Mendocino grapes called Coro-Mendocino. It’s Mendocino’s attempt to have an Appellation-Controlee system like they do in France, but just for this one blend in order to maintain consistency and set the parameters for the winemakers. Having tasted several examples, it’s a fantastic wine and I like the concept. But the wine we are talking about today is Barbera. This probably puts into context why this wine is still on the shelf, while the Cab Sauv and Syrah from Dennis Patton were released at the same time as this wine, they are long sold out. If you aren’t drinking Barbera, I suggest you get involved; it can be really good wine.
Color: Medium garnet hue of violet and some red.
Nose: Rather young fruit and spicy nose, with tones of smoke coming forward.
Palate: Sour cherry, raspberries. Semi-heavy mouth feel, but rather light body. The finish picks up in intensity with acidity and some vanilla.
I was a bit let down by this wine. I was expecting/hoping for a bolder, more well rounded wine. The wine really lacked a good tannin structure which is (over) compensated for with acidity. However, the 13.9% alcohol was a welcomed treat since my mouth was not burnt. I’d give kudos to this wine for the denser mouth feel, but lighter body and more intense finish, which was a nice sensory play. So it kept me thinking about the wine. On that grounds, I liked this wine. If you like more one dimensional (single, straight forward flavor profile) wines, with zingy acidity, this could be a wine to check out. I hate to toss it into this generic recommendation category, but this is a BBQ wine. Would I stock up on this wine? No. Would I serve this at a BBQ? Yes. What do you think of this wine?
- Price: $10
- Alcohol: 13.9%
- Cellar/Winemaker: DnA Vineyards, Dennis Patton
- Appellation: Mendocino County, California
March 15, 2011
$5-$9 Price Point, 2008, Buy-Half-A-Case, Lockwood Vineyards, Monterey County, Syrah
Lockwood Vineyards 2008 Estate Syrah Monterey County
The Wine: I’m going to have to confess something to you all, I really haven’t had that many single varietal Syrahs before. I’ve had several hand fulls of blends with Syrah in it, but I’ve mainly had experiences with Petite Sirah. I reached out to my buddy Jeff over at VivaLaWino pointing him towards this wine as one to try because he has a lot tasting experience of French wines and Syrah is heavily used varietal in places like the Rhone Valley or Chateauneuf du Pape. So I’m curious to hear Jeff’s thoughts on this wine. So tonight I thought I’d write a review on a varietal I don’t know that much about solely based on how I enjoyed this wine. Sound OK?
Color: An incredibly vibrant violet. This wine looks young, yet it’s a 2008.
Nose: Right out of the bottle and into the glass this wine presents a candy like nose of ripe berries and some vanilla. This reminds me a Gamay or Beaujolais Nouveau; the fruit is just popping on the nose here. Kinda cool.
Palate: The first thing I wrote about this wine was not the fruit which moves from the nose to the palate, but rather how dry this wine left my palate, wow. It wasn’t as intense as Petite Sirah can be, but definitely left a chalky feeling in my mouth; which is not a bad thing when paired with food! The finish lingers with notes of ripe red fruit and vanilla. The finish is kinda flabby and not ‘crisp’ tight with acid and tannins making a ‘tight’ wine; some could say this wine lacks ‘focus’, but that’s alright. I really like this wine has a lower alcohol content of 13.8%, meaning my tongue isn’t burning nor is the alcohol used as a substitute for tannins. I’m very much enjoying this wine with my stew.
Bottom Line: Buy-Half-Case
This is a Trader Joe’s Hustle Buy; meaning it’s not going to be around forever. I think this is definitely a wine worth picking up several bottles, especially at the $6 price point. It’s a great daily drinker or one to pull out this summer when barbecuing. I liked this wine A LOT more on the second day after opening and pairing with a hearty stew. The ‘breathing’ time really allowed this wine to come together in a much more approachable way than out of the bottle. If you have a decanter, use on this. Or even consider laying a few bottles away for a few years. Did I mention this is an Estate Wine? For $6? Get this wine and please do share your thoughts!
- Price: $6
- Alcohol: 13.8%
- Appellation: San Lucas, Monterey County
- Estate Wine