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.

Plonk.

As many of you know, I love wine. Let me repeat. I LOVE WINE. This January I made a commitment to use 2008 as my first real foray into Wine Country, meaning THIS YEAR I would be judicious, thoughtful, and disciplined in my consumption. AKA, not just a drunk.

I started with a plan. I would select modestly priced wines – as many as I could muster – and I would drink them, paying special attention to each & every nuance, bouquet, hint of fruit and je ne sais quoi. In this new & thoughtful manner, I would MASTER the Art of Cheap Wine. And so, glass in hand, I began my quest in earnest. And although that first bottle of wine, consumed Wednesday, January 16th, was really quite awful, earning just a C rating, I was excited. B/c I knew the CHALLENGE was ON.

Since that first evening, I have sampled many, many wines. Some of them exceptionally good, as iterated in my First Quarter Summary. And a few of them inexcusably bad. There is nothing worse than going out, buying a bottle of wine, and bringing it home – or worse! presenting it to a friend – and finding you’ve been HAD.

BIG HOUSE WHITE 2006, California

This wine should be the poster-child for DON’T JUDGE A WINE BY ITS LABEL. The bottle looks truly appealing, with its cute artistic label. Don’t fall for it sucka. The wine inside merited a candid “YUCK” in my wine journal. Granted, a mix of 7 varietals could go either way, but this one is not a success. Very tart apple flavor, paired with high acidity and a distinctly unappealing aftertaste make this a wine to avoid. Even drinking it ice cold didn’t improve the lot. Thumbs down.

BAREFOOT SHIRAZ, Calfornia

The bottle features a *2 GOLD MEDALS* sticker prominently, so I went into this wine thinking YUM YUM YUMM. Unfortunately, once I tasted it I went “BLEECH”. This mass-produced red is not a great wine – cheap or not. It is strongly acidic and dry, with a pronounced aftertaste. If you are looking for another inexpensive, big-bottle wine for a party, I suggest trying Nathanson Creek Merlot instead, which for the same price provides a decent, tasty wine to be enjoyed by all.

RUFFINO LUMINA PINOT GRIGIO 2006, Italy

I must confess, my husband & I were divided on this wine. While I gave it a C+ for its low acidity and almost-imperceptible aftertaste, John stated that it “SMELLS LIKE A DEAD ANIMAL” and rated it an “F for FUNK.” You be the judge.

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 .

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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 +

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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 +

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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 –

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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 –

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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.