Wine Challenge 2008 – Third Quarter Summary

Hard to believe another 3 months has passed me by, but here we are again.  Focusing on my most favoritest of subjects. WINE.

I will be honest w/ you.  The past 3 months – POOF! into the ether.  This summer just went by waaay too fast.  I spent many of its balmy nights blissed out of my mind, sitting on a beach, by a campfire, YES pretty much anywhere, enjoying an adult juice box or two.  The past two weeks alone I’ve been drunker than a skunk on a blind-inducing bender. And YES it has been fun.

Unfortunately, in my revelry, my wine diary got tossed to the wind like yesterday’s bikini.  Well, technically it was placed behind that old photo on top of the bookcase – but you catch my drift.  This quarter I sampled many, many wines. Unfortunately, this quarter I made far fewer recordings in my illustrious diary than ever.  Wine is always easy, but being disciplined when you’re with wine is a little bit harder.

This quarter I sampled recorded 19 new wines.  The ante was upped slightly these past 3 months, in that many of the wines I tried would normally sell for MORE THAN $10.  This might perhaps account for some of my less-than-disciplined approach.  Drinking *better than hooch* does that to you. But then again, so does hooch.

Out of the 19 wines surveyed:

12 rated A or B.  A or B = Gooood.

7 rated C or LESS.  C or Less means NEVER AGAIN. NOT EVEN IF YOU PAID ME.

Christy’s Top Five of the Summer (in no particular order):

Castle Rock
2007 Pinot Noir
CALIFORNIA
13.8% alc/vol, 750 ml

A deliciously light & lovely red.  Notes of cherry, ripe red berries and spice.  Medium body w/ a lingering finish.  Low acidity.  YUMMY! Highly recommended.

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Tangent
2006 Pinot Gris
CALIFORNIA
13.5% alc/vol, 750 ml

Pale, clear gold w/ hints of fruit in the bouquet. Luscious fruit flavors – melon, citrus, pear, nectarine and honey.  Lovely, crisp clean finish. Round on palate. FULL FLAVORED and delicious.

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Pascual Toso
2006 Merlot
ARGENTINA
14% alc/vol, 750 ml

What a red!  Round and rich w/ a perfect finish.  Low acidity.  Appealingly dry.  TONS of flavor, but not sweet or cloying in any way.  Ripe red berries w/ a hint of ….??  Something.  I just can’t put my finger on.  Not spicy.  Licorice?  Not dramatic or dark enough.  Just a wonderful wine.  See for yourself.

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TOHU
2006 Sauvignon Blanc
NEW ZEALAND
13.5% alc/vol, 750 ml

This wine in one word.  EXQUISITE.  Palest wisp of color.  Most distinctly unique flavor of citrus – especially grapefruit.  Crisp w/ very low acidity.  Clean finish.  Absolutely delicious.  One of the best wines I’ve had this year.

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Zolo
Torrontes 2007
ARGENTINA
13.8% alc/vol, 750 ml

Clear, palest gold.  Bright fruity bouquet.  Really striking, intense flavors of tropical fruit, pineapple, melon.  Good body.  A tasty young wine.  Yum- YUM.

Wine Challenge 2008: Second Quarter Summary

HELLO WORLD!!! Time once again for………. WINE WINE GLORIOUS WINE!
I know I haven’t been bragging blogging about my drinking lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been keeping my liver on HIGH ALERT, Oh no! It’s soooooooo hard to believe another 3 months has passed Oh So Quickly, but here we are – July. WOW. How’s things w/ you? Yep, me too. So now that’s out of the way, let’s talk turkey. Or in this case, WINE. B/c THAT’s what I like drinking when I am not drinking water, seltzer, the occasional pepsi, beer (of course), and sometimes tea. YEP. WINE. It’s what’s for dinner.

3 months ago, I gave you a glimpse into my newfound calling as wino extraordinaire (a la my 2008 Wine Challenge: First Quarter Summary). That FIRST summary featured some of the best and brightest wines I’d encountered since the first of the year. NOW. I am pleased to share w/ you all (YOU LUCKY PEOPLE!!) the most scrumptiously deliciously delectable wines I have been enjoying all SPRING. YAY!

Last quarter I sampled 34 new wines. During this second quarter, I sampled yet another 34. I AM SO GREAT!

21 rated A or B. A or B = STAMP OF APPROVAL.

13 rated C or lower. C or lower means YOU DRINKIN HOOCH. Sucka.

As a review, all WINE for my 2008 challenge was selected strictly on the basis of PRICE. B/c I am poor discriminating, $10 or less per bottle. This quarter I sampled wines from around the globe: Italy, France, Spain, the US, Argentina, Australia, Chile… and I just have to say. ITALY KNOWS WINE. By far, the Italian reds & whites I have sampled have been the most consistently superior in both taste & value. A good thing to remember when you are scanning unfamiliar labels at the liquor store. BUY THE BOOT!

2nd QUARTER RECOMMENDATIONS (in no particular order):

CORVO
Vendemmia 2006

ITALY
11.5 % alc/vol, 750 mL

Very pale white wine w/ faint bouquet.
Crisp, clean, light. UNBELIEVABLY easy to drink; goes down like water.
A- / B+

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MONTECILLO
2005 Rioja

SPAIN
12.5% alc/vol, 750 mL

Clear golden color, subtle aroma.
Crisp clean taste of fruit – tart apple, pear notes.
Low acidity, very little aftertaste. YUM.
SERVE COLD.
A- / B+

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GABBIANO
2006 Chianti

ITALY
12.5% alc/vol, 750 mL

Deep purplish-red color, strong cherry nose and distinctly cherry flavor.
VERY DELICIOUS.
Slightly dry, full bodied, well-balanced.
Would definitely drink again.
A- / B+

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FRESCOBALDI
Remole Toscana Rosso 2006

ITALY
12.5% alc/vol, 750 mL

Mix of Sangiovese (85%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (15%).
Deep garnet color, no noticeable bouquet.
Very pleasant fruit flavor, bright ripe cherry, faint hint of plum.
Well-balanced, slightly dry. A very yummy, easy-drinking wine.
A- / B+

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JUMILLA
2005 Mad Dogs & Englishmen

SPAIN
14% alc/vol, 750 mL

50% Monastrell / 30% Cabernet / 20% Shiraz
Darkest red color – almost tinged w/ black.
Cherry bouquet.
Fruit flavors: ripe berries, cherries w/ a hint of spice.
Dry & DELICIOUS. This wine left my lips tingling.
Highly recommended.
A-

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SMOKING LOON
2006 Pinot Noir

CALIFORNIA
13.5% alc/vol, 750 mL

Ripe berry/cherry flavor – YUMMY!
Ever-so-slightly sweet and dry w/ very little acidity.
I sampled two other wines from SMOKING LOON: 2006 Chardonnay and 2006 Merlot.
SKIP THE CHARDONNAY & MERLOT.
GO FOR THE PINOT.
A- / B+

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FAT CAT
2007 Pinot Noir

CALIFORNIA
12.5% alc/vol, 750 mL

Dark garnet color.
Pronounced cherry flavor. Slight dryness/acidity.
A really nice wine – especially for the price. Fun, fruity & delicious!
A-

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JACOB’S CREEK
2006 Shiraz

AUSTRALIA
13.5% alc/vol, 750 mL

Deepest darkest garnet color.
Forward fruit flavors – ripe cherry, plum, hint of pepper.
Low acidity. Soft, lingering finish.
A medium-bodied, young, energetic wine! Yummy & zippy.
Recommended.
A- / B+

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BANFI
Col di Sasso 2006

ITALY
13% alc/vol, 750 mL

Combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese.
Darkest cherry color.
DELICIOUS! fruit flavors of ripe berries & cherries.
Tingly on the tongue – feels almost effervescent.
Good body. Soft finish w/ no aftertaste.
Excellent wine.
A- / B+

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CAVIT Collection
Pinot Grigio 2007

ITALY
12% alc/vol, 750 mL

Palest gold color.
Light & DELICIOUS!
Flavors of citrus, tropical fruit, peach. MMMmmmm.
Very low acidity & aftertaste.
A fabulous wine at a fabulous price.
RECOMMENDED.
A-

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CECCHI
2006 Bonizio
Sangiovese de Maremma
ITALY
12.5% alc/vol, 750 mL

Deliciously light, especially for a red wine.
Dark color, good body & very little acidity.
A lovely, slightly dry red. RECOMMENDED.
A- / B+

Wine Challenge 2008: First Quarter Summary

It has been a full quarter since undertaking my official 2008 Wine Challenge. Three months of drinking. Nine more to go. AND, YES IT HAS BEEN HARD. Now that April is upon us, it’s time to share some of the plethora of wine knowledge I’ve acquired since the first of the year.

In the past three months, I have sampled a grand total of 34 wines. WOW.

21 rated A or B. A or B = Gooood.

13 rated C or lower. C or lower means pour it straight down the crapper and then hit yourself w/the bottle for wasting $10 on plonk.

For review, my selection criterion was PRICE. I began with the intention of buying wines $15 or under, but (at least this first quarter), I have chosen wines averaging $10 or less. After 34 bottles, you can perhaps understand why. Being a wino is expensive. BUT B/c of all my hard work, YOU need not shell out a fortune for a chichi vintage to impress your friends. I have found some fabulous wines at rock bottom prices. So w/out further ado, my first quarter TOP TEN LIST:

[In no particular order]

Domaine La Hitaire
2006 Les Tours
FRANCE

10.5 % alc/vol, 750 ml

Pale yellow color with a subtle aroma.
Well balanced, with low acidity and very little aftertaste.
Smooth and understated, with hints of citrus, peach and apple.
Makes a great choice for people who don’t normally care for whites like Chardonnay because of their intensity.
Light, crisp and super easy-drinking.
A – /B +

* * * * * * * * * *

Chateau La Grange de Grenet
2005 Bordeaux
FRANCE

12.5 % alc/vol, 750 ml

Dark cherry color, bouquet hints of cherry, raspberry and plum.
Well balanced. Good acidity, light clean finish with a subtle aftertaste of oak and ripe berries. All-in-all, a very lovely, highly drinkable wine. AND CHEAP.
Highly recommended!
A –

* * * * * * * * * *

LELIA
Garnacha 2005
Carinena, SPAIN

12.5% alc/vol, 750 ml

Deep plum color with faint fruity aroma.
Subtle taste; berry, fruit and wood notes.
Well-balanced, with very low acidity & very little aftertaste.
Tastes full in mouth, goes down verrry smooth.
Excellent.
A –

* * * * * * * * * *

Entremonts
Garnacha 2006
SPAIN

13% alc/vol, 750 ml

Deep garnet red color. Lovely ripe cherry/berry flavor. VERY CHERRY.
Very well balanced, low acidity, smooth finish.
A light, easy-drinking wine.
Overall, excellent.
A –

* * * * * * * * * *

Saumur
2006 Lieu-dit Les Epinats
FRANCE

12.5% alc.vol, 750 ml

Medium golden color with a NOSE Forward bouquet.
Lovely fruit flavors, hints of peach and melon.
A well-balanced wine with very little acidity and NO aftertaste. YUM!!!
Clean, crisp and DELICIOUS.
A –

* * * * * * * * * *

Saumur
2005 Reserve des Vignerons
FRANCE

13.5% alc/vol, 750 ml

Deep plum color with a dry, lovely flavor. Hints of ripe berries, plum.
DELICIOUS! Well balanced. Smooth, round, w/ perfect finish. Little to no acidity. No aftertaste.
Wonderful wine – perfect with food or without.
A .

* * * * * * * * * *

Valley of the Moon
2005 Zinfandel
CALIFORNIA

15% alc/vol, 750 ml

Dark garnet color with bouquet of ripe fruit.
Deep cherry flavor. Good body, well balanced.
Sweet & delicious, but not cloying. MMM MMM GOOD!
BUT STRONG, so watch out.
As a side note: This wine gave me strange, vivid dreams.
A – /B +

* * * * * * * * * *

Tapena
2006 Tempranillo
SPAIN

13% alc/vol, 750 ml

Beautifully clear red with pronounced cherry aroma.
VERY pleasant taste of ripe red berries and cherries.
Smooth, silky finish. Easy drinking w/ low acidity. Appealingly light.
Absolutely delicious.
A – /B +

* * * * * * * * * *

Staete Landt
2005 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
NEW ZEALAND

14% alc/vol, 750 ml

Pale golden color and Strong aroma of fruit.
TASTES absolutely delicious! INTENSE FRUIT FLAVORS, Hints of citrus (grapefruit) and peach.
Well rounded. Low acidity.
I LOVE THIS ONE.
Highly recommended.
A –

* * * * * * * * * *

Pietrafitta
Chianti Colli Senesi 2006
San Gimignano, ITALY

13% alc/vol, 750 ml

One of the best wines yet.
Deep plum color, bouquet of ripe red fruit.
Smooth and appealingly dry, with a soft easy finish. No pronounced fruit flavor or sweetness. Clean, very easy-drinking wine with little aftertaste or acidity.
A lovely wine from an exceptionally lovely village in Tuscany. And at $10 or LESS WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR??
A –

* * * * * * * * * *

Now that you have been educated in the art of cheap fine wine purchase, please spread the word to all those vineyards out there – worldwide – so that they may begin sending me some of their products to sample. I see people do this all the time on Book Review Blogs – asking for new titles, etc. And I am here to tell you, if you Send It, I Will Drink It. I will not be thwarted! After all, I could stop drinking, BUT I’M NO QUITTER. So if you have a particular vintage or cellar you would like me to critique, send some my way. My palate and my liver will do their very BEST. I promise.