Archive for June, 2008

An Elegant, Idiot-Proof Bottle Opener

Remember that time you accidentally stuffed part of a demolished cork back down into a wine bottle in an attempt to open it with a cheap or broken corkscrew.. and you had to strain your wine through a piece of cloth to get the particles out? Or the times you needed two friends to hold the bottle down on the ground while you pulled with all your might to get the cork out?
Or maybe you don’t remember those times, but you’re wondering what I’m getting at anyway?

As a Christmas present I bought one of these fabulous corkscrews off of Amazon and can’t believe we lived without one before. Whether you drink wine every day or only occasionally, you should have something like this to avoid the frustration and embarrassment of a corking problem.. you will never have one again!

You simply clamp the arms of this MIU Connoisseur Corkscrew around the neck of the bottle, pull the handle over the top, and then pull it back to the original position and the bottle is opened and ready to pour! It comes with a stand, a foil cutter which does the trick, and a replacement corkscrew, I suppose for when the first one goes dull. Some people review a product before using it, but we’ve put this baby to good use over the past 6 months, and are happy to stand behind it! At under $20, even CheapoWinos can afford it. It also makes a great gift!

Anakena Chile Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Wine: Anakena

Type: Cabernet Sauvignon

Origin: Chile

Year: 2007

Cost: $8.99

Alcohol: 13.5%

Rating: 7/10

Value: 7/10

Our opinion:

It’s hard to compare this wine to others, seeing as it has such a different taste. It was almost peppery and spicy. By itself, and without decantering a while, it was offensive. Give it 20 minutes without touching your glass, and it rounds out nicely. Try it with some beef fajitas, and it’s delicious. Even after the food is gone, the wine is good. Not one we’d have every night, but certainly once every few weeks given the right opportunity.

Others Say:

“Nice deep purple color; earthy aromas with enough fruit to provide a nice balance. Has a nice smooth taste with nicely balanced fruit. Long finsh. A great value wine

Silverwing 2005 Shiraz Grenache Mclaren Vale

Wine: Silverwing

Type: Shiraz Grenache

Origin: Australia

Year: 2005

Cost: $9.99

Alcohol: 14.5%

Rating: 7/10

Value: 7/10

Our opinion:

Yum! A good blend of shiraz and grenache for a decent price. Certainly not too light, but with a good amount of flavor. We also promise that while this wine is good, it clocks in at 14.5% alcohol and will indeed get you drunk without you knowing it! Let it sit a bit before drinking, it has a few years behind it already! Recommended.

Others Say:

“McLaren Vale, Australia- Interesting blend of Shiraz and Grenache full of dark fruits. Explosive flavors of blackberry, plum, perfumed raspberries and hints of pepper and spice lead to a generous finish with some earthy tones. Enjoy with spicy dishes, pork chops or hearty stews. {Intense Fruit, Berry, Medium-bodied}”

Blue Flame Shiraz 2006

Wine: Blue Flame

Type: Shiraz

Origin: France

Year: 2006

Cost: $8.99

Alcohol: 13%

Rating: 6/10

Value: 7/10

Our opinion:

Not a bad shiraz … and certainly the bottle is different with it’s blue and orange coloring.. For the price a decent choice. Not top of the line, but not very expensive either. The taste was good but seemed to end abruptly as well. Maybe the French take a slightly different approach to a Shiraz than the Aussies we’re used to drinking!

Others Say:

“France- This fruit-driven, crowd-pleasing Shiraz reveals a deep ruby/purple color, plush, straightforward blackberry and cherry fruit, beautiful purity. The ripe fruit is supported by a succulent texture and medium tannins. {Fresh, Cherry, Spice, Blackberry, Medium-bodied}”

2007 Gavi Saula Tenuta La Marchesa

Wine: Saula

Type: Gavi

Gavi Saula \

Origin: Italy

Year: 2007

Cost: $9.00 (?)

Alcohol: 12%

Rating: 7/10

Value: 6/10

Our opinion:

We’ve never had this kind of wine before, but it reminded me a bit of a pinot grigio. From the Novi Ligurie region of Italy, this particular wine is bottled from grapes harvested on an “farm hotel”. The bottle has a link to their website: Tenuta La Marchesa

The taste of this wine is fruity and lightly sweet, yet not overly so. Delicious with the fish we just ate, the wine is medium bodied and a full round taste to start with a slightly tangy finish.

We didn’t find any reviews for this particular variety, but we did find that you can stay at a hotel there for 100 euro a night per room, or 100 per person if you want full board. It looks very relaxing…..

Ironically you can’t find this Gavi Saula wine on their website, so I’m not sure how you’d order it. Once again this came from Corridor in Laurel.

I enjoyed it, a very decent white wine. Our pricing might be off and it could have been a much cheaper wine. If we could only find the prices online…..

2006 Casalino Chianti Classico

Wine: Casalino

Type: Chianti Classico

Origin: Italy

Year: 2006

Cost: $14.99

Alcohol: 13%

Rating: 8/10

Value: 7/10

Our opinion:

Yum! I’ve been dying to buy a Chianti Classico for ages, but between the two of us, I’m the only one convinced they are worth it. Generally you cannot find a “classico” at the $10 and under mark, so it’s really a splurge for us cheapos. I’m going to be honest, I don’t remember exactly what this one cost, but it was in the upper end of the 11-15 dollar range. It could have been 16. I’ll have to go back and buy more to find out (oh well….). We got it at Corridor in Laurel, just like the rest of our stash.

We drank this one a few nights ago so my memory isn’t fresh. We must have gotten too drunk afterwards to review it but I will tell you that I remember it being really good. Here’s how I know…. we took “notes” on a todo list. Kosta interviewed me about the wine and my response was “I LIKE IT!” So that’s what’s written first, followed by a feeble attempt to describe it in better detail, followed by some unintelligible scribble and finally some swear words. No drunk review is ever complete with out the words “mother f**ker”.. … right?

“I like it!
smooth
needs to sit a bit
smooth at first
tangy toward end
Smells nice
Comflery

cowwardl a
great Chianti
mother f**keeer

Side note:

I’ve had some chiantis in the cheaper range (< $10) and been very disappointed. This one had the right balance of tannins and dark fruit. Yay for sangiovese. I fell in love with Chianti Classicos in Italy, where they were cheap. If you ever stumble upon a Machiavelli Chianti Classico, have a glass for me. I haven’t looked it up here in the states yet… but I remember the 10 euro price tag in Italy seemed steep next to the others at 2-5 euro a bottle, and that’s the only reason I didn’t bring some home!

This wine is a yummy classico, buy and enjoy. And if you find a cheaper one that’s as good… please, comment.

Others Say:

From thewineman.co.uk:

” From a careful selection of Sangiovese grapes grown on the Fattoria Casalino estate near Siena, owned by Bonacchi. This wine carries the Gallo Nero seal on the neck of the bottle. Ruby red in colour, the wine is soft, harmonious and velvety with a fruity bouquet reminiscent of violets.”

“Serve: At 18-20C to accompany roast meats, game and cheese. Open the bottle 1 hour before pouring.”

2007 River Road Sauvignon Blanc Russian River Valley

Wine: River Road

Type: Sauvignon Blanc

Origin: USA (Calfornia)

Year: 2007

Cost: $12.99

Alcohol: 13.2%

Rating: 7/10

Value: 6/10

Our opinion:

We tried this wine at Corridor when we went shopping, along with a group of other Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Grigios. This one was a lot sweeter than we usually enjoy, and we weren’t intending on purchasing it but I kept lingering on it. There’s something a little more elegant and classy about this wine, despite it’s sweetness. For those who usually enjoy a drier white wine, this is an interesting departure. Lots of fruit and citrus, somewhat big for a white wine, not thin at all, and sweet but without that cheap sugary aftertaste. Worth a try, if you’re in the mood for it. Recommended, for the right occasion.
Others Say:

We couldn’t find this one online either, but here is what the bottle says:

“Our Sauvignon Blanc, from vineyards in the cool Russian River Valley, shows aromas of ruby grapefruit and kiwi, with bright citrus flavors”

2006 Feudi di San Marzano Primitivo Puglia

Wine: Feudi di San Marzano

Type: Primitivo Puglia

Origin: Italy

Year: 2006

Cost: $11.99

Alcohol: 13.5%

Rating: 8/10

Value: 7/10

Our opinion:

This was our first “Primitivo Puglia” wine ever, I believe. I was skeptical because I’d never heard of it before, but maybe that’s just ignorant. It was delicious!! Medium bodied, somewhat of a dark fruit flavor. Give it a minute to aerate and voila … verrry smooth, earthy, yet sophisticated.. and drinkable! Yes. It’s gone now…. well except that tiny bit in Kosta’s glass… but I think he’d notice if I took it. 🙁

Anyway, I want more, so that must mean something!! Buy this one. For us.
Others Say:

We couldn’t find any specific reviews of this wine and vintage, but here’s is a description of the winery:
“The Feudi di San Marzano in Apulia is the latest project by Valentino Sciotti. He is a man who not only dreams big, but who has the vision, determination and professionalism to make sure that his dreams come true. In the case of Feudi di San Marzano, Sciotti’s concept is very simple. He stumbled upon the Cantina Sociale di San Marzano, with its deep tradition in winemaking, and immediately saw potential. By making a few changes in the already state of the art cellar and installing the brilliant Mario Ercolino as chief winemaker, he would be able to produce modern wines with outstanding varietal expression.”

D’Autrefois Pinot Noir 2006

Wine: D’Autrefois Alfio Moriconi Selection

Type: Pinot Noir

Origin: France

Year: 2006

Cost: $9.99

Alcohol: 13%

Rating: 7/10

Value: 6/10

Our opinion:

We don’t usually drink Pinot Noir, so maybe our opinion doesn’t count. But here it is anyway: At first we thought the wine to be a bit tangy, but allowing it to sit as little as ten minutes seemed to improve the taste. The result is a light, fruity wine that is beautiful in color and an acceptable red to drink in 100 degree weather in our sweltering apartment. Nothing too exciting, still a little tangy, but not a bad choice for an everyday wine.
Others Say:

From Cellartracker.com :
“Light bodied, medium fruit. Easy to drink- good every day wine.”
“Simple wine with decent fruit flavors. Was given as a cheap gift.
“Light fruit, very nice, good value for money.

From Wineaccess.com :
“Merchant Review: Vin de Pays, France- Fantastic value in a complex Pinot Noir, from a winery with longstanding ties to Burgundy. An alluring bouquet of cherry and berry fruit is framed by subtle vanilla and spice notes. Ripe, crisp finish. A staff favorite! Enjoy with salmon, chicken or pork. {Fresh, Cherry, Raspberry, Medium-bodied}”
A nice wine to enjoy with a spicy dishes. Mild and fruity in the front with a very subtle peppery feel in the end. A good wine for $10, though it is not what I expected from a French Pinot.”
Most Pinot Noirs under $40 are undrinkable–that’s a fact. 🙂 PN is a tough grape to vinify and most wineries aren’t up to the task. Don’t expect a lot of complexity here, but you do get a nice nose, some varietal flavors, and and a short clean finish. Romanee Conti it ain’t, but $10 you gets you a brief peek at heaven even if it leaves you standing outside the gates”
I actually thought this to be a little flat and not really what I expect out of a Pinot Noir. I am much more familiar with California Pinots, and if this is typical of French Pinot, I think I’ll stick with the USA.”

^ Maybe we should try a California Pinot next!

McWilliams Shiraz 2006

Wine: McWilliams

Type: Shiraz

Origin: Australia

Year: 2006

Cost: $8.99

Rating: 6/10

Value: 6/10

Our opinion:

Tangy to start, but improves after allowing the wine to sit for 10 minutes or so after pouring. Not much depth or complexity, but drinkable and pleasant enough. Overall not the best choice for the price, but not the worst either.

Winemaker’s notes:

Color: Crimson red, with purple hues.

Aroma: Dark black fruit aromas of plum combine with spice and vanillin oak.

Palate: The supple yet generous palate is dominated by rich, spicy prune juice and black berry fruit flavors. The wine is soft and well balanced with a lingering, chamois-like tannin finish.

Serving suggestions: Beef rending or baba ghanoush with toasted Turkish bread.