Sunday, June 28, 2015

Review: *** $ Trader Joe's Reserve Lot 118 Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, 2012 = BEST VALUE

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Original tasting and review : This is Trader Joe's Reserve Lot 118 Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California, 2012, finished at 14.1% alcohol and first sampled 2 years from vintage date, in June, 2015.

In the glass: Clear with light yellow highlights.

On the nose: Poured chilled and swirled vigorously, shows coconut, oak, fresh butterscotch and bananas.  From the aroma, seems like this will be rich and full.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact very consistent with the aromas, highlighting full, creamy coconut. Some acids pick up as the sip settles, bringing a swift, but entirely clean finish.  Oak is apparent but not overwhelming.  

In summary: Overall, rates an easy three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  Best value.

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(c) Copyright 2015 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.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Review: *** $ Trader Joe's Reserve Lot 127 Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, 2013 = BEST VALUE

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Original tasting and review : This is Trader Joe's Reserve Lot 127 Syrah, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, 2013, finished at 13.9% alcohol and first sampled 1 year from vintage date, in June, 2015.

In the glass: Deep, muddy burgundy, becoming opaque from roughly a half-inch of the edge.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows deep purple fruit aromas of blueberries and blackberries.  From the aroma, seems like this will be full, bright and purple-y.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact much as anticipated, with a thick, full and aromatic purple center, bringing light acids and tannins around the edges.  Some soft sweetness melds in with the middle palate and accompanies the easy finish.

In summary: Overall, rates an easy and pleasant three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, being a best value due in large part to its bargain price point.

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Trader Joe's Reserve.

(c) Copyright 2015 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: ***+ $$ Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Lot 67 Zinfandel, Calistoga, Napa Valley, California, 2013 = GOOD VALUE

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Original tasting and review : This is Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Lot 67 Zinfandel, Calistoga, Napa Valley, California, 2013, finished at 13.9% alcohol and first sampled 1 year from vintage date, in June, 2015.

In the glass: Deep dusty burgundy, almost opaque in the center of the glass.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows soft, fresh, red raspberry fruit.  From the aroma, seems like this will be hardly wine at all, but a luscious, rich red berry juice.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact unmistakably wine-like, showing a gritty, slightly bright red raspberry and red currant fruit.  There is sufficient sweetness to cut the vigorous acidity, and that combination brings the sip into your cheeks, where it moves into a slow, clean fade to the finish.  Plenty of tannins sneek up during the finish and put the final grip on your cheeks.   Enjoyable experience, and one that can sit for several years and still bring pleasure.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars with a plus for its bright, big redness on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  Good value.

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Trader Joe's Reserve.

(c) Copyright 2015 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: ***+ $$ Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Lot 63 Meritage Red Wine, Napa Valley, California, 2012 = GOOD VALUE

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Original tasting and review : This is Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Lot 63 Meritage Red Wine, Napa Valley, California, 2012, finished at 14.6% alcohol and first sampled 2 years from vintage date, in June, 2015.


In the glass: Deep mahogany, going almost opaque from a half inch of the edge.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows crusty, veinous black currant fruit.  From the aroma, seems like this will be bold, aromatic and classic.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact showing piercingly bright black and purple fruit, running up your nostrils and almost into your eyeballs with its tannin- and acid-backed fruit.  Big and classically Napa.  This youngster is still hot with alcohol on the tongue, but some of that will surely settle with time.  A touch of sweet glue on the leisurely finish.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars with a plus for power on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making this a good value at an attractive price point.

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Trader Joe's Reserve.

(c) Copyright 2015 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.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Review: ***+ $$ Cameron Hughes Lot 44 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rutherford, California, 2005 = GOOD VALUE AT A DECADE OF AGE!

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Original Review, March, 2008: This Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon is part of the Cameron Hughes line, Lot 44, 2005, finished at 13.5% alcohol and first sampled three years from vintage date in 2008.

In the glass, it is medium red, more mahogany in the center. Upon swirling, the nose has strong black currant elements, bright berry with just a bit of wet dish rag.

The palate is consistent... a bright, lightly acidic, medium tannin front. Alcohols and tannins ride the bright fruit up the slope of your mouth towards your eyeballs. Pleasant, sweet, lightly acidic finish. Three stars out of five. Will age a little, though not a lot of concentration.

Updated review, six years later, now nine years from vintage date, July, 2014.

In the glass: Medium deep magenta red.

On the nose: Poured at cool room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows subtle and balanced deep red currant berries.  From the aroma, seems like this will be classic and still bright.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact smoky red berries with hints of charcoal.

In summary: Overall, rates a still-solid three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, despite almost a decade of age.
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Another updated review, another year later, now a full decade from vintage date, June 2015:  Smoky and deep red currants on the nose.  Wonderfully bright, elegant, deep red fruit with some solid smoke backing it up.  Shows no age.  The extra age knits things together wonderfully, bringing this an additional plus to three plus stars now, and making it a good value - the downside is you had to wait 10 years!

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Cameron Hughes Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon.

(c) Copyright 2014 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.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Review: Old Soul Vineyards Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pure Red blend = ALL GOOD VALUES!

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By way of background: Here we are sampling a full range of wines called Old Soul, originating from the generations-old Oak Ridge Winery in Lodi, California.  Current commercial vintage review wines were provided by the winery.


Original tasting and review : This is  Old Soul Pinot Noir, Lodi, California, 2014, finished at 13% alcohol and first sampled one year from vintage date, in June, 2015.  It includes an unspecified portion of incorporated zinfandel and merlot.

In the glass:  Dusty, deep brick red.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows clean, fresh purple plums with a very tiny hint of charred oak.  From the aroma, seems like this will be sparky, bright and sweet.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact bright yet very full and rich on the palate.  The zinfandel shows in the full mouth and soft cheek, while the pinot brings along a bright middle and some acids that flow up into your cheeks.  Think inky blueberry and ripe blackberry, with a modest finish that shows a lingering fruit.  Won't feel familiar to fans of classic pinot noir styles, but becomes a very friendly red indeed.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars with an easy plus for its full and pleasant nature on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  It rates a bonafide good value.
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Original tasting and review : This is  Old Soul Cabernet Sauvignon, Lodi, California, 2013, finished at 13% alcohol and first sampled  two years from vintage date, in June, 2015.  Like the pinot noir, it includes an unspecified portion of incorporated zinfandel and merlot.

In the glass: Dark, ruddy brick, almost opaque in the center.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows a quite compelling bold and fresh, deeply veined black cherry fruit, with some oak overlays.  From the aroma, seems like this will be soft, deep and perhaps contemplative..

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact very sweet-feeling velvet fruit, showing plenty of soft oak and tannins in the background.  Low acidity keeps the sip centered in your mouth, without engaging your cheeks.  Still, it brings a lingering finish driven by the soft tannins that really highlights the aromatic black cherry, blackberry and currant fruit.  A luscious cabernet that needs no further time in the bottle before you approach.

In summary:  Like the pinot noir, also rates an impressive three plus stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making it a good value as well.  Has a depth and balance that brings the cabernet sauvignon precariously close to four stars, which would be remarkable at this price point. 

Following long decant, stored vacuum-sealed overnight in a partially-filled bottle at room temperature:  The Old Soul cabernet stood slightly above its pinot noir and red blend cousins when sampled right out of the bottle, and when decanted this way overnight, it improves to just touching an impressive four stars.  Don't think classic cabernet sauvignon, but think a robust red blend, with aromatics, depth and mouth feel.  Really a best value. 
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Original tasting and review : This is Old Soul Pure Red , California, 2013, finished at 13.5% alcohol and first sampled two years from vintage date, in June, 2015. It is a cabernet sauvignon-forward blend that includes zinfandl and petite sirah, finished in a combination of oak and stainless steel.  The use of the "California" appelation in the label implies non-trivial portion of grapes sourced from outside the Lodi region.

In the glass: Resembles the cabernet sauvignon, as deep, dusty red, almost opaque in the center.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows a soft, rich, very deeply veined blend of settled and well oaked black and red fruits. From the aroma, seems like this will be rich, mouth-filling, sweet and lingering.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact much as expected, with an emphasis on full and sweet red cherry fruit.  Some soft red currant and blackberry notes join along with a light vanilla/oaky overlay.  The finish is short to moderate in length, but does end cleanly.

In summary: Remarkably, the red blend also rates  three stars with a plus for comfort on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, making it the third of three good values among the three reds we have sampled.  That is extraordinary across a whole line of wines, but is not out of the question given a consistent winemaking approach, access to similar grape stocks, and the fact that each of the three wines includes grape components that are incorporated into at least one of the other two blends.  But overall, an excellent showing among this line. 
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Original tasting and review : This is  Old Soul Chardonnay,  Lodi, California, 2013, finished at 13% alcohol and first sampled two years from vintage date, in June, 2015. It is 100% Lodi chardonnay that is finished in a combination of stainless steel and American and French oak.

In the glass: Very pale yellow.

On the nose: Poured at cellar temperature and swirled vigorously, shows a clean, floral, slightly citrus mix of fruit.. From the aroma, seems like this will be perky, sweet and bright.

On the palate: The primary elements on the palate are in fact showing sweet soft pear and stewed apple. Nice, rich body without being oaky or heavy.  The finish is brief and wraps up with a clean farewell to a soft, fruity, very pleasant experience.  This would be an outstanding wine to serve at an outdoor summer reception. 

In summary: I am not kidding, but the chardonnay also rates three plus stars (plus for friendliness) on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, also becoming a good value.  While it is obviously a different style of wine from the reds, it carries many of the same characteristics: immediate approachability, friendly style, sweet and luscious mouthfeel, solid aromatics, modest finish that emphasizes fruits and aromas over tannins and acids. Old Soul is a wonderful lineup from Oak Ridge Winery that shows great value and a real consistency of character.

Following long decant (overnight, refrigerated, in a partially-filled, vacuum-sealed bottle) and served chilled:  Shows even bolder aromatics on the palate in the chilled state, bringing just the right mix of tropical fruit, acids, solid body and hints of oak.  Just touches four stars now and is definitely a best value serve slightly cooler than cellar temperature.
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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Old Soul wines.

(c) Copyright 2015 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.