Irony Cabernet Sauvignon

Irony Cabernet SauvignonWhen you’re into bargain-priced wines, it’s excellent to find some dependable names.  While one of the fun things about wine is tiresome different ones—since the number of options is nearly limitless—sometimes you’re in a rush, or you don’t feel like mulling over the options and you want to just grab a bottle you know will be OK.  Irony has become one of those brands for me.  It’s reasonably priced, it’s always excellent, sometimes it’s fantastic, but it’s never let me down.
This cabernet is no exception.  While it’s not mind-blowing, it’s subdue pretty darn excellent.  And unique enough to stand out from the crowd of average cheap cabernet on the shelf. Read more

Handcraft Cabernet Sauvignon

Handcraft Cabernet SauvignonLast week, Cheryl Indelicato from DFV Wines was in town for the Cincinnati International Wine Festival and I had a chance to meet up with her for lunch and to taste the lineup in her new brand of wines, Handcraft.  I had earlier tasted the cabernet sauvignon, but this was an opportunity to revisit it and check out her additional wines.
Cheryl is from the third generation of the family that owns DFV Wines and she’s worked at the companionship for 22 years, yet this brand is her first private foray into the winemaking administer.  The majority of the work Cheryl has done at DFV has been on the business side, in marketing, PR, human resources and hospitality.  And for her first vintage, I’d say she did a planetary job at making some damn excellent wines for the fee.  Of course, she didn’t do it alone.  She partnered with winemaker Alicia Ysais on this project.
In making this new wine brand, Cheryl had a link things in mind to make these wines unique.  First, she wanted to include some Italian varietals in the blends as a nod to her heritage and to give the wines a unique expression.  The red wines have a small sangiovese while the whites have some malvasia bianca.  She also wanted to make a wine that particularly appeals to women.  Well, let me place a dress on because these wines appeal to me too.
The mark on these wines is fun too, where they have a “wine profile ribbon” in the design.  All the elements in the graphic represent characteristics of the wine.  Some represent flavor characteristics, like the cherries and nutmeg graphics.  And some elements represent the care taking of the wine, like the birds which represent the sustainable agriculture on their vineyards. Read more

Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Sauvignon Blanc

Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Sauvignon BlancMy experience with Robert Mondavi’s various wineries goes back many vintages.  And, I can say that I’ve never had a negative experience with any of their wines, whether they were from the main estate, from Woodbridge, or from their joint venture with Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Opus One.  Regarding the latter, I’ve been fortunate to delight in a number of vintages.  And, I’m pleased to report that the streak is in-tact.  While I’ll say up front that Woodbridge’s 2010 California sauvignon blanc would not be my first choice at this fee point, because it’s not necessarily my style of sauvignon blanc, it does represent a fantastic value.
The wine is not 100% sauvignon blanc.  Woodbridge blends a bit of French colombard and semillon, along with small percentages of a few additional block out colorless varietals.  But, the wine is 76% sauvignon blanc and this, according to California law, enables the wine to be classified as sauvignon blanc. Read more

337 Cabernet Sauvignon

337 Cabernet SauvignonWhile packaging really doesn’t tell you much about the wine inside the bottle, it’s a critically vital element for wine producers.  The truth is as consumers we often will buy the bottle that we reckon looks the best.  But what do the looks of a bottle really tell us?  Regardless of whether the mark design is any indication of quality, I’d have to say that I really like the look of this wine.  The design is simple, clean and attractive.  So, this one scores well on the bottle design… but of course what we really care about is what’s inside the bottle.  And fortunately, I was pleased with that too.
The name 337 comes from the name of the grape vines.  In Bordeaux and Burgundy, each vine clone is given a unique identification number to help vintners identify how different vines perform.  The producers of 337 wines saw something in the 337 vine that they thought would work well in the Bordeaux-like conditions of their Clay Station Vineyard in Lodi, California.  Some 15 years ago they planted the vines and now they’re making some luscious wine from them.
While some cabernet has additional varietals blended in to shape the flavor, this wine is 100% cabernet sauvignon and 100% from the 337 vine clone.  The wine was barrel aged in a combination of French and American oak, so that does impart some influence on the flavor profile.  But additional than the spice from the oak, this is all 337. Read more

Villa San-Juliette Cabernet Sauvignon

Villa San-Juliette Cabernet SauvignonLast week, when we reviewed the Ancient Peaks cabernet sauvignon, I was singing the praises of cabernet sauvignon from Paso Robles.  So, I thought it would be excellent to highlight yet another fine Paso Robles cabernet.
This one comes from Villa San-Juliette, a brand we’ve tasted previous to.  This brand is owned by the producers of American Idol, and many additional shows.  But thankfully, they’ve hired a professional winemaker to do the actual wine building, rather than having television executives play vintners in real life.
The excellent news is that this wine continues the theme of awesomeness from Paso Robles cabernet sauvignon.  The terrible news is… well, I don’t really have any. Read more

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet SauvignonLast week, David did a review of a sauvignon blanc from Robert Mondavi, so I thought I’d work in another Mondavi wine today.  This one is a cabernet sauvignon from their “Private Selection” line.
Like David, I haven’t had any negative experiences with any of Mondavi’s wines.  I’ve had some that are fantastic, some that are excellent and some that are mediocre, but I haven’t had any that are terrible.  Yet I come across some consumers who scoff at the thought of drinking a glass of Robert Mondavi.  I infer that could be due to their omnipresence on wine shelves.  It seems that everywhere you go in the US you’ll find some Robert Mondavi wines.  Excellent for them to have such fantastic distribution, but I guess I can see why some consumers would reckon it’s not that “special” if you can get it anywhere.  Nonetheless, it’s often a decent, dependable choice. Read more

Cheap Wine at Aldi

Cheap Wine at AldiWhen I first started this website a lot of people commented that I must like Trader Joe’s because of all the bargains they have on wine.  And as much as I wanted to like Trader Joe’s, I just never became a huge fan.  Most of the wines I tasted from them were nothing special, albeit they were dirt cheap — which is something I always like.  Plus there’s something about the folks working there that just seems inauthentic to me… they’re way too pleased and remind me of flair-clad servers at TGI Fridays.
Anyway, while it seems like everyone I meet associates Trader Joe’s with dirt cheap wine, they are not the only one in that game.  The folks from Aldi sent a few of their wines our way to taste and I’d say they’re giving TJ’s some competition.  I’ve never been an Aldi customer, so I had no thought they were carrying wines and I was a small surprised when they showed up.
I’ll declare that I was a small bit skeptical at first.  But as I looked them over, I saw a few things that were both intriguing and reassuring.  First, I was surprised to see the regions on the wines, Chianti, Napa Valley and Mosel.  Then I was reassured when I checked the alcohol levels and found them to be appropriate for the styles.  Sometimes I’ve found that really cheap wine will have an alcohol level that’s lower than habitual, resulting in thin, bland wine, but that wasn’t the case here.  I also liked the backside of the marks, which has helpful graphics for folks who don’t know their wine well yet.
Now I will say that none of these wines absolutely blew me away, but none of them were terrible either.  And for the dirt cheap prices, they are some bargains! Read more

Gnarly Head Authentic Red

Gnarly Head Authentic RedOver the last year or so I’ve done some ranting about zinfandel blends and how I see a growing demand for these wines.  Apothic Red is one incredibly well loved example of this style of wine appealing to consumers and now Gnarly Head has come out with their own answer to the zinfandel blend with Authentic Red.
Gnarly Head Authentic Red hails from Lodi, California, which I consider to be the zinfandel capital of the world.  There’s something about Lodi that just makes it an ideal location for zinfandel.  It could be the climate, it could be the soil, it could be the people… but it’s probably a combination of those.  And, what’s more, 2010 was a fantastic year for Lodi zinfandel.
OK… so, I’m going on about the zinfandel part of this, but that’s not all that’s in this wine.  The blend here is 50% zinfandel, 20% merlot, 17% cabernet sauvignon, 10% petite sirah and 3% syrah. Read more