Archive for the '$5-10' Category

Big House California white wine

I was making a seafood dish (linguine with shrimp and lemon oil to be exact) and wanted a white wine to go with it. We picked up Big House White last minute due to the fact that out of all the wines under $15, listed below it was a 90 point rating (out of 100) from wine enthusiast. We tend to agree. A big red wine lover myself, I usually do not like the pungency or, as one friend described, “baby vomit” taste of Chardonnay, yet Rieslings tend to be a bit to sweet. This had a perfect combination of light sweetness, yet not a sweetness that overpowers the meal. I frequently took sips between bites of pasta and shrimp and they complemented each other very well. Before dinner was even over, the bottle was empty. At $8.99 a bottle, this was well worth it.

winemaker’s notes:
A blend of 56% Malvasia Bianca, 22% Muscat Canelli, 18% Viognierand 4% Rousanne.

Big House wines are a rebellious mix of nontraditional grape varieties destined to give the imbiber a new experience. This year’s tipple is reminiscent of the Franco-Italian battle for the ’06 FIFA World Cup. The flamboyant Italians represented by Malvasia and Muscat Canelli and the much more austere and serious French led by Viognier and Rousanne.

Mirassou Pinot Grigio 2008

Type: Pinot Grigio

Mirassou Pinot Grigio

Origin: California

Year: 2008

Cost: $9.99

Rating: 8/10

Value: 8/10

Alcohol: 13.5%

Our opinion:

Tonight we decided to purchase a couple of whole striped bass from the market and grill them up on the BBQ for dinner.  We needed a decent white wine to go with the fish but didn’t have time to shop around, so ended up at a generic discount liquor store on Route 40 in Catonsville.

I couldn’t think of a good cheap white off hand but we were both in the mood for a Pinot Grigio.. probably because we haven’t had one in such a long time and it was a beautiful late spring day.   We hesitated near a Bolla 1.5 Liter for 13.99.. but decided on the Mirassou 1 L for 9.99 instead.  I don’t think I’ve ever tried anything other than the Pinot Noir from Mirassou, but we were impressed with that wine at the price point compared to others, so we thought it might be a safer bet.

I think we made a great choice.  Mirassou is a common wine and easily found in liquor stores in the area.  The Pinot Grigio was not overly acidic, it was not overly sweet or fruity and not tart at all.  It had none of the negative qualities we so frequently found in our random pinot grigio picks.  In fact, not only was it absolutely lovely on its own, but it went fantastically with our fish.    We detected a slight fruitiness, a crisp, citrusy flavor, but a well-balanced mouth feel.  We both agreed that in the absense of any other known white, we would reach for the Mirassou Pinot Grigio again in a pinch.

Others Say:

We were at a loss when looking for reviews of the 2008 Pinot Grigio, but this is what we could find:

Winemaker’s Notes:
Our 2008 Mirassou California Pinot Grigio reveals intense aromas and flavors of peach, pear and citrus with crisp, lively acidity create an exceptionally refreshing wine. This versatile wine pairs beautifully with spicy dishes as well as grilled poultry or seafood. Our Pinot Grigio is ready to enjoy immediately upon release and should be able to age in the bottle for one to two years.

The Bottle Says:

Offering flavors of lemon-lime and peach with subtle floral notes, Mirassou Pinot Grigio is a bright expression of California’s most celebrated growing regions.  This versatile wine pairs beautifully with spicy dishes as well as grilled poultry or seafood and embodies the optimistic spirit passed down through six enerations of America’s oldest winemaking family.  Enjoy!

Marcus James Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Type: Cabernet Sauvignon

marcus-james-cabernet2007

Origin: Argentina

Year: 2007

Cost: $5.99

Rating: 4/10

Value: 5/10

Alcohol: 13%

Our opinion:

This was another one of our leftover “backup wines” for a party we had, along with the Marcus James Merlot.   We found it acidic and generally cheap tasting.   In fact, it was fairly offensive.  I suppose it was decent enough to finish 3/4 of the bottle, but leftover wine is a rare occurrence around here.  We saved it for cooking wine…

Marcus James seemed to have fairly decent reviews, but most of them for other years of the same or other varietals.  We didn’t think much of the 2007 wines.  In this price range we would stick with the Waltzing Vine shiraz.  For a lower price you could even crack open a Macaroni Grill Merlot 1.5 Liter and have plenty left over for cooking…

Others Say:

Once again we appear to be outnumbered.. general consensus seems to think this is a decent wine.  Perhaps we needed to aerate this one 5 times like we did with the Merlot, or maybe we needed to drink it with a meal. Or maybe it’s just not a good wine:

From antiwinesnob.com: “I truly remember this wine being pretty tasty on another occasion. And this time, I still thought it had a nice flavor with a good balance of tannins and acidity. But I also found it had a disagreeable sweet/sour twang to it that I suspect is acetic acid. This flavor really distracted me from the other more pleasing layers to a point where I did not enjoy it on its own….I tried it again the next day, thinking maybe the flavors would be different now that the bottle had been opened and recorked. While a sip confirmed that the acetic acid flavor was still there, to my surprise, I found that the unpleasant flavor more or less disappeared when I sipped it along with my dinner. In its place was a full, blackcurrant flavor with a pleasant bite of acidity-but not of the acetic acid variety.

From WineLegacy.com: “Marcus James has been one of Argentina’s top exports for years. When we tasted the recent releases we were jolted out of complacency by the quality and value they offer. With grapes sourced in the perpetually sunny Mendoza valley and vinified under the eye of a team of the world’s best international winemaking experts, Marcus James wines are consistently good year after year.”

2007 Marcus James Merlot

Type: Merlot

Origin: Argentina

Year: 2007

Cost: $5.99

Rating: 5/10

Value: 6/10

Alcohol: 13%

Our opinion:

We were having a lot of guests over for a party and decided we needed to fill our wine rack for the first time in a while, and not necessarily with anything expensive, should we need to crack into it.  We stocked up on several Marcus James wines as well as a few Crane Lakes.  The Marcus James Merlot was still in the rack at the end of the party, and we tentatively broke into it on a random weeknight with low expectations and a backup plan of hard liquor.

Bleah.  There was really nothing nice to say about this wine.  Drink out of necessity.  Though we did agree it was a shade tastier than the Marcus James Cabernet Sauvignon, it wasn’t by much.  After the first sip, I passed the glass of wine back and forth through the Vinturi wine aerator about 5 times.  This seemed to slightly improve the taste and removed a bit of the bite to it.  Once it was smoothed out, we were able to finish our first glass, and about half of a second glass.

Unfortunately at the end of the night, wine still remained in the bottle.  Just like the Marcus James Cabernet.  Oh well… cooking wine?

As a side note, Marcus James has frequently been compared to the “two buck chuck” you can find in various places around the country.

Others Say:

Apparently there are other more positive reviews of this wine on the web, so maybe it’s up to you to decidel :

From winecurrent.com: “There are mixed spice, black plum and tarry aromas that segue smooth and plush flavours of black currant and ripe juicy black cherry. It’s medium in weight and texture with pleasing fruit flavours that carry through the balanced finish. It’s a lovely quaffing wine with the oomph and stuffing to pair with burgers, pizza, gourmet sausages and the like. Bistro-styled and uncomplicated, it warrants a buy given the attractive price-quality ratio.”

Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

Type: Cabernet Sauvignon
los-vascos

Origin: Chile – Colchagua Valley

Year: 2007

Cost: $9.00

Rating: 5/10 ? (at least unpaired with food)

Value: 6/10

Alcohol: 13.5%

Our opinion:

No, thanks. At least not to drink with. Thanks to the lovely folks at The Wine Bin in Ellicott City, I puchased this wine to add to my coq au vin. I asked for a cheapish wine (pinot noir to be specific, since I figured I needed a burgundy), and they upgraded me to a more full-bodied cabernet. The wine itself wasn’t awful by any means, but I wouldn’t recommend buying it to drink. We had a bottle of white during appetizers, and while waiting for the food to finish cooking, I offered up a taste of this wine to those with an empty glass. A couple of those ‘tastes’ got ditched when it was time to open the pinot for dinner. Clearly not a crowd pleaser… in my opinion it was too tangy and difficult to drink. The coq au vin, however, turned out quite flavorful and tasty. Buy to cook, not to drink.

I must disclaim, however, that others seem to disagree with us.  This wine got great reviews online.  Perhaps it needs to be drunk with a strong meat such as lamb to really enjoy.  But not by itself.

Bottle says:
Under the direct technical supervision of the Domaines, Los Vascos is committed to producing the finests consistent and balanced wines whose elegance and harmony are to be shared with discriminating connaisseurs around the world. This wine is fresh, gentle, consistent and very fruity, with a slightly spicy finish.

Others Say:

From: ReviewJournal.com

“On the nose, there is serious concentration emanating from the glass with ripe crushed black fruit dominated by black cherries, loganberries and soft sweet currants, followed by jammy licorice-laced plums, phenolic compounds, oak references, spices, tobacco leaf and earth-driven minerals.

In the mouth, this wine is a big mouthful of spiced black currant juice — true to the cabernet structure — then layered soft blackberries, wild cherries and elderberry fruit, leading into a seamless midpalate that is just ripe with black fruit and hints of mint and black tea.

This well-made wine is big and heady with a full-bodied character, yet so supple and fine in the tannin structure that it has a smooth, long finish that lingers with black currant pastilles and tobacco. It’s probably one of the more accomplished cabernets tasted out of Chile at this price in a long time.

Drink it now at its peak through 2009, and try it with herb-crusted rack of lamb grilled perfectly medium-rare.”

Fontana Candida Frascati Superiore Secco 2007

Wine: Fontana Candida

fontana_candida_frascati

Type: Frascati

Origin: Italy

Year: 2007

Cost: $9.99

Rating: 8/10

Value: 8/10

Alcohol: 12.5%

Our opinion:

White wines are hard to agree with, at least for me.  I believe I’ve had this one before, but maybe missed out on the review.  A friend brought a bottle for pre-dinner drinks tonight and I remembered how enjoyable it was.   This white is very easily to drink, without all the harsh acidic bite that so many cheap whites have.  I think you can find it for under $10 in some stores, and certainly online.  This white is somewhat fruity, lightly sweet but not overly so, and well balanced.  It’s not exciting, but it’s good, and it’s a solid choice if you aren’t sure if your guests are huge wine drinkers.  Everyone enjoyed this bottle.   I recommend it, definitely for the price!

Bottle says:

In the hills near Rome are areas of volcanic  soil over 2000 years old.  Here the grapes for frascatia are grown.   Frascati has a delicate bouquet of wildflowers and fruit.  Its characteristic taste is fresh and distinctive, with just a hint of almond.  To enjoy Fontana Candida Frascati to its fullest, serve slightly chilled (55 degrees) to heighten the fruit and the iwne’s crispness, fontana candida frascati is a delightful complement to seafood, poultry and other light entrees.

Others Say:

From: TheWineBuyer.com

“EXCELLENT WINE FOR THE PRICE. FULL OF ROBUST FLAVORS. NOSE IS SPICEY AND CITRUS. VERY PLEASING PALATTE. REFRESHING. VERY LONG PLEASING FINISH. PEOPLE WILL THINK YOU SPENT TWICE THE PRICE ON THIS. ONE CAVEAT. CORK WAS A BIT BRITTLE. BEWARE HOW ITS STORED.”

Beauzeau “Bozo” 2005 Red Wine

Wine: Beauzeau / Bozo

Type: Blend / Red Wine

Origin: California

Year: 2005

Cost: $10.99

Rating: 7/10

Value: 6/10

Alcohol: 12.5%

Our opinion:

We had just finished installing our new wall-mount wine rack and decided to load’er up.  Suddenly wine started dripping down the wall… Oh no!! One of the bottles we put in there was a screw cap, and the motion of twisting the bottle securely into place in the rack apparently twisted the lid right off!   What happened next was an…

!!! !!! EMERGENCY CONSUMPTION OF OPEN WINE !!! !!!

At first we were wary that maybe the bottle wasn’t securely closed, and started thinking bad thoughts.  After a quick zip through the aerator, we decided the wine was actually quite good! It wasn’t the #1 smoothest wine ever, it still had a little tang to it, but overall was very tasty.  Bozo would make a great table wine, and the funny juggling guy on the cover is good for a laugh.  The Juggler signifies the way this blend is somehow balancing 8 different grape varietals in one bottle!  A nice blend, at a decent price.

Winemaker’s notes:

Juggling too many balls these days? We know just how you feel. Life shouldn’t always be so serious and neither should your wine, so we set out to make a blend just for the fun of it. Eight different varietals are included in our 2005 Beauzeaux Red Wine ? mostly Zinfandel and Syrah, with small amounts of Petite Sirah, Charbono and others. Show off to your wine geek friends when you tell them it also contains 2% Lagrein, a red grape variety mentioned in the 17th century records of a Benedictine monastery.

This is the wine to reach for when friends show up for pizza. Ripe red and black berry characters with jammy pie flavors and some black pepper to boot make it rich and hearty enough to stand up to your best baby back ribs. And the capper? Nothing but a screwcap would do.

Others Say:

From Wine.com

“My wife and I enjoyed this unique red blend. It’s a good value for an everyday table wine, but offers a bit more spice than the more common cab and merlot dominant red blends.”

“My fiancee and love this wine. We bought a case a few months ago and just bought two more. It’s our house wine. We’ll serve something nicer with a meal we go to a lot of trouble over, but for the price it can’t be beat.”

Sanrocchetto Verdicchio Dei Castelli Jesi Classico 2007

Wine: Sanrocchetto

Type: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico

Origin: Italy – The Marches

Year: 2007

Cost: $10.99

Rating: 9/10

Value: 9/10

Alcohol: 12.5%

Our opinion:

The bottle looked different, and it had a great review at the wine store, so we decided to try it out.  i was cooking a dish witch chicken seasoned with Italian spices and stuffed with mozzarella, sauteed with onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and white wine, so I decided to open this one.

I loved it…! Even though the first swig was straight from the bottle, and the next taste was in a glass that I had to add ice to, I really enjoyed this white.  White wines aren’t always easy to differentiate, apart from being ‘really bad’ or ‘too sweet’ or ‘so acidic I want to bite my tongue off and spit it out.”  This one was lightly fruity, just a little sweet, but ended dry.  I started calling it the champagne of white wines.  I don’t know if it’s entirely true, but it had something about it reminiscent of champagne.  Personally, one of my favorite whites, for a great price.  I say go for it!

Other Notes:

“Verdicchio … Smooth and balanced it has a light straw color, sometimes slightly green, Nice floral aroma on the nose and a dry but not astringent fruit flavor with a slight bitter finish.This wine well will go well with pungent Italian cheese like Pecorino, nuts, olives and seafood dishes.”

A classic dry white wine, best drunk young to appreciate its freshness.”

Pigmentum Malbec Rose 2007

Wine: Georges Vigouroux Pigmentum

Type: Malbec Rose

Origin: France

Year: 2007

Cost: $9.99

Rating: 9/10

Value: 8.5/10

Alcohol: 12.5%

Our opinion:

I’ve been wanting to try a rose for awhile, but I’ve been scared away by their purported dryness. However, I found this wine to be crisp, clean, fruity, smooth and easy to drink. (Maybe a little too easy…) It wasn’t particularly sweet, but neither was it very acidic. It had a nice tart, berry taste. All in all, a very pleasant wine served chilled on a hot summer day.

Winemaker Notes:

France-This lovely, fresh Rose made from 100% Malbec is from the Cahors region, famed as the original home of Malbec. It has aromas and flavors of fresh strawberries & red cherries. It is both dry and easy to drink. Another smashing success from Georges Vigouroux, the ‘King of Cahors’. {Crisp/Soft, Strawberry, Cherry, Light-bodied}”

Others Say:

” I opened this to have with some grilled salmon, but I may have (accidentally) finished most of the wine before the salmon was done. An excellent wine for a hot summer day, not one of those foul “cough-syrup-sweet” pink wines I associate with the name “rose'”. I will definitely get a case next trip to the store.”

” 07 Vintage. Simple dry rose with crisp lemon and strawberry fruit. Nothing ground breaking, but simple and enjoyable.”

Twin Wells Shiraz 2005

Wine: Twin Wells

Type: Shiraz

Origin: South Eastern Australia

Year: 2005

Cost: $7.00

Alcohol: 14%

Purchased: Corridor Wine & Spirits, Laurel, MD

Rating: 4/10

Value: 4/10

Our opinion:

Eeengh. That’s about all we have to say on this one. We drank it… but there was a glass left on the table, which means it couldn’t have been that good. Cheap price, cheap wine. Not worth it either way. Move on!

Others Say:

Winemaker Review: “South East, Australia- Fresh fruit and ripe tannins surround this medium-bodied, smooth and spicy Shiraz. Aromas of dark ripe fruit, chocolate and vanilla are supported by a palate of spicy plum, blackberry flavors and a velvety smooth finish. Enjoy with BBQ, hamburgers, or kebobs. {Fresh, Plum, Medium-bodied}”

From Total Wine:

Undrinkable; had to pour it down the sink. :-(“

“Skip it”

One person liked it though:

“If I had read the previous reviews, I probably would have missed this gem. Unbelievable for $7. Very smooth.”

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