Saturday, February 17, 2018

Face-off: Trader Joe's Zinfandels!


By way of background:  Today we are sampling two California zinfandels by Trader Joe's; one from the wide-ranging Central Coast area and one from the more-focused Paso Robles region.  Both zins are in the bargain price range.  We'll conduct this tasting as a face-off!
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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Trader Joe's Coastal Zinfandel.

Original tasting and review : This is $ Trader Joe's Coastal Zinfandel, Central Coast, California, 2016, finished at 13.9% alcohol and first sampled two years from vintage date, in February, 2018.

Inspired by this wine: Hopping on a horse-drawn sleigh through the snow towards the playhouse for an evening performance.

In the glass: Deep magenta, moving towards opaque from an inch in.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows deep and bold purple fruit with a chalky wash that settles things down.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate start with bright and vibrant red and black berries, crawling quickly into your cheeks with perky acids. Fixes itself there for a slow fade.  Gentle hints of sweetness just barely begin to challenge the acids.

In summary: Overall, rates two stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, with a plus for poignant brightness.  Wants to accompany a creamy soup rather than sit on its own as an aperitif.
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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Trader Joe's Grower's Reserve Zinfandel.

Original tasting and review : This is $ Trader Joe's Grower's Reserve Zinfandel, Paso Robles, California, 2016, finished at 14.5% alcohol and first sampled two years from vintage date, in February, 2018.

Inspired by this wine: Enjoying using the old-school bellows to build the fireplace flames.

In the glass: Deep mahogany, moving to almost opaque in the center.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows deep and balanced black fruit touched with some oak surrounds.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate show soft, full, furry ripe red and black berries up front.  The juicy flavors spread across the palate, bringing ripe raspberries, blackberries and even hints of honeydew melon.  Enough acids and tannins follow to keep the sip lively and there is a long slow fade that beckons for another taste.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars with a plus for rich layers on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making this a no-brainer "best value" at its insanely attractive price point.  Just right to sip on its own or to accompany rich meats.

Re the face-off:  Grower's Reserve Zinfandel tops Coastal Zinfandel by a wide margin and shows a recent price differential of only a few cents a bottle.  A nice showing overall by the Trader Joe's team.

(c) Copyright 2017 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Review: *** $ Hahn Pinot Noir, Monterey, CA, 2015 = BEST VALUE

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Hahn Pinot Noir.

By way of background:  The last time I rated a Hahn Pinot Noir was for the 2005 vintage, to which I awarded three and a half stars.  Today, we are fast-forwarding a full 10 years to the 2015 vintage.

Original tasting and review : This is Hahn Pinot Noir, Monterey, CA, 2015, finished at 14.5% alcohol and first sampled three years from vintage date, in February, 2018.

Inspired by this wine:  Hauling some twigs in from the snowy cold, looking to start a mid-day fire in the stove.

On the nose:  Gentle, structured red berries - raspberries and currants.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are brighter and curvier red fruits than suggested by the nose.  The attack is acid-toned and reaches up into your cheeks.  But it settles into a softer sip, flushing ripe red raspberries across your tongue.  Finishes gently, slowly, with a continuing acid drip.   Tannins are soft.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making this a best value when you get it at the right price point.


(c) Copyright 2017 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: **** $ Sierra Trails Red Blend, California, 2015 = BEST VALUE

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Sierra Trails Red Blend.

Original tasting and review : This is Sierra Trails Red Blend, California, 2015, finished at a mere 13% alcohol and first sampled three years from vintage date, in February, 2018.

Inspired by this wine: Sitting in the formal drawing room, waiting for the lively concert to begin.

In the glass: Deep cranberry and light burgundy mix.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows subtle, taut and still lively bones of gentle chalk holding any berries in check.   From the aroma, seems like this may be more austere than bold or burly.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact full of lively, bold, almost sweet upfront berry fruit, bringing in elements of ripe honeydew and sweet, ripe plum.  The sip builds at the front, settling quickly and gently to the finish.

In summary: Overall, just touches four stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, bringing fruit and pleasure over structure.  At a bargain price, this makes for a strong best value.


(c) Copyright 2017 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Review: ***+ $ Fuerza de la Tierra Tempranillo, La Mancha, Spain, 2016 = BEST VALUE

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Fuerza de la Tierra Tempranillo.

Original tasting and review : This is Fuerza de la Tierra Tempranillo, La Mancha, Spain, 2016, finished at 13.5% alcohol and first sampled two years from vintage date, in February, 2018.

Inspired by this wine: Stoking the fire, wrapped in a violet wool blanket.

In the glass: Black cherry, opaque from a quarter inch of the edge.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows blackened violets, fruity, aromatic and dark.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are bright, aromatic and dark all at once.  Big upfront blackberry and dark violet flavors, trailing with bright, up-in-your-cheek-acids, which fade very, very slowly to a clean finish.  Hints of pomegranates on the close.

In summary: Overall, rates a solid three stars with a plus for layers on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  Best value at discount acquired price.

(c) Copyright 2018 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Friday, February 2, 2018

Review: *** $ El Portal Vineyard Select Syrah, California, 2016 = BEST VALUE

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for El Portal wines.

Original tasting and review : This is El Portal Vineyard Select Syrah, California, 2016, finished at 13.2% alcohol and first sampled two years from vintage date, in February, 2018.  This is one of an untold number of smaller label wines produced by Saddlehorn Cellars in San Martin, CA.  Interesting, the label bears no mention of the producer.

Inspired by this wine: Browsing through an interesting old chest of drawers, finding interesting things throughout. 

In the glass: Dark red currants, heading towards mahogany.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows deep charry smoke with clean cherry wood. 

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact clean red berries with just enough tannic depth to be intriguing.  Finish is fairly brief, but clean as it lightly tickles your cheeks with red fruit towards the close.

In summary: Overall, rates an easy three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, almost veering towards a plus.  Best value when you can attain at the under-$10 US price point.

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for El Portal wines.

(c) Copyright 2017 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Review Face-Off: **** *** ***+ $ Three Bargain-Priced California Zinfandels = ALL BEST VALUES!

By way of background:  Today we are sampling three completely separate zinfandels from the great state of California.   Besides the grape varietal, they share two additional attributes:  First, they each weigh in at 14.5% alcohol; and, second they each are a bargain!  Let's see what they each bring to the party... and let's see if these "bargains" are really "good values" by our more quantified criteria...

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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Bold Vine Old Vine Zinfandel.

Original tasting and review : This is Bold Vine Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California, 2015, finished at 14.5% alcohol and first sampled three years from vintage date, in January, 2018.

Inspired by this wine: The fireplace is roaring as we begin preparing a really big feast.

In the glass: Deep magenta, moving to opaque in the center.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows a suggestive melange of black, red and blue fruit, well-layered.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact sweet, layered waves of deep, well-integrated fruit, bringing a bold attack, lifting with just a touch of brightness in the mid-palate, and setting to a lengthy, warm, inviting and clean finish.

In summary: Overall, rates an impressive four stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making this a no-brainer "best value" at the spectacular price point.
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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Dark Horse Zinfandel.

Original tasting and review : This is The Original Dark Horse Limited Release Zinfandel, California, 2015, finished at 14.5% alcohol and first sampled three years from vintage date, in January, 2018.

Inspired by this wine: Stoking coals in the steam engine, gonna get this little ship moving across this river.  

In the glass: Deep brilliant magenta.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows bold fruit with a good crusting of clean ash and hints of chocolate and licorice.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact bundled in the mid-palate, with an appropriately dark edge attached to crunchy fruit of black plum and muddled ripe black raspberry.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, enough for a "best value" designation at its attractive price point.
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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Fair Oaks Ranch Zinfandel.

Original tasting and review : This is Fair Oaks Ranch Zinfandel, California, 2016, finished at 14.5% alcohol and first sampled two years from vintage date, in January, 2018.

Inspired by this wine: Cooking up a friendly breakfast on the pot-bellied stove.

In the glass: Medium magenta with lighter brick edges.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows soft, gentle candied berries.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact sweet red fruit with a very gentle wash of earth. Red currants peek out as it moves to a clean, slightly lingering finish.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars with a plus for accessibility and friendliness on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  Indeed, a "best value" by our assessment.


(c) Copyright 2017 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.