Black Box Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay

Black Box Napa Valley Reserve ChardonnayOver the past few months we’ve received a surprising number of boxed wine samples.  I infer it shouldn’t be a surprise since we are all about cheap wine.  But even though we’re into cheap wine, we’re subdue finicky and certainly prefer to review excellent, cheap wine (or call it “inexpensive wine” if you have a hang-up with the word cheap.)  Anyway… we have noticed an increase in wine producers using bag-in-box packaging and we’ve noticed the quality of the wine going into boxes to be improving as well.
Black Box is one of the producers that’s doing a nice job with their boxed wines.  And when I say, “nice job” I mean that the wine is OK.  They do better with some varieties than with others.  This chardonnay I would say is excellent.  I was really impressed with the bouquet, but not as wowed by the palate.  It doesn’t “blow me away” as the best chardonnay I’ve ever tasted, but for the equivalent fee of $8.00 a bottle it’s pretty excellent.
I should note that Black Box in fact puts out two different chardonnays.  They have a Monterey County chardonnay, which I have not tasted, and this Napa Valley Reserve chardonnay. Read more

Si Soave

Si SoaveIt’s time for yet another Soave (SWAH-vey) review. This one comes from Si Soave and they get the award for “best bottle.”  Seriously, this bottle is the best I’ve seen since tasting the Travaglini Gattinara… and notice that both are Italian wines.  In addition to being an fascinating looking bottle, it’s also really comfortable to hold and pour with this bottle… it’s just very well balanced and I might be OK with all bottles adopting this design.  If for no additional wits than the cool bottle, I don’t reckon Si will have a hard time selling this wine.  But the wine is excellent too.
But while I like the Si Soave bottle, I have to curse them for the auto-play composition and pointless use of Flash on the Si Soave website.  They are not alone though… way too many wine brands place out god-dreadful websites with Flash and composition… WHY??!!!!! Read more

Maquis Cabernet Sauvignon

Maquis Cabernet SauvignonA lot of the wines that I review seem to have a similar tale.  A family owns a vineyard for generations and recently renovated their winery, blah, blah, blah.  Well, the tale in the rear Maquis has a slightly different twist.  Yes, it’s a vineyard that has been owned by the same family for over 100 years.  But for most of that time, the family that owns this vineyard only produced grapes for additional vintners.  It wasn’t until about ten years ago that they chose to make some of their own wine from the grapes they grow.
They built a new “gravity flow” winery to produce their wine.  That essentially means that the winery is designed to use gravity to go the wine through the administer rather than pumping the wine from place to place.  The theory is that it treats the wine more gently, making a better product.  For example, during the initial crush you don’t really want to “crush” the grapes but gently crack them open and let the juice escape.  If you were to truly crush the wine, you might also crush the seeds within the grapes adding bitter flavors to the wine.
Since 2005, winemaker Xavier Choné has been consulting with Maquis to help them take better advantage of location within their vineyards in Colchagua Valley.  Choné works with vineyards around the world and is associated with some fantastic wines, like Opus One, and Maquis is the only South American vineyard he’s working with. Read more

Veramonte Pinot Noir

Veramonte Pinot NoirThe weather has started to turn to autumn here and that means it’s time to start drinking some pinot noir!  Let’s start the pinot noir exploration with one from Chile.
Five years ago, if you had offered me a Chilean pinot noir I probably would have reluctantly tried it without expecting much.  But things are varying when it comes to chilean pinot.  They’ve figured out what works for pinot noir in their terroir and they’re producing some nice pinot these days.
Pinot noir is a cool climate grape and Chile’s Casablanca Valley is an exceptional cool climate appellation.  And that’s where this Veramonte pinot noir is produced. Read more

Stray Dog Zinfandel

Stray Dog ZinfandelThe name on this wine is a new one, but the winemaker is not new to wine.  Mark Gendron has been producing wine for a excellent 20 years and founded JanKris winery back in 1990.  He recently sold JanKris and is working on some new winemaking ventures, namely JK Estates and Wildfire Cellars.  Stray Dog Zinfandel is produced and bottled below the JK Estates mark.
The fruit in Stray Dog Zinfandel comes from Paso Robles, the same area where Gendron produced wines with JanKris.  A simple, but memorable mark introduces you to this Zinfandel. Read more