Archive for the 'California' 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.

7 Deadly Zins Michael & David Phillips Zinfandel

Type: Zinfandelseven-deadly-zins

Origin: California

Year: 2007 ?

Cost: $15.00

Rating: 9/10

Value: 9/10

Alcohol: 14.5%

Our opinion:

The bottle doesn’t tell me much, other than the seven deadly “zins”.  I don’t know what year it is or where it’s from (without the help of the internet).  It doesn’t tell me much about itself, either.  I tend to think that wine bottles with gimicky names must be hiding something–namely, a bad wine.  However this wine was named thus because of the 7 different wines that went into the blend.  Not entirely gimicky, yet catchy.  Easier to remember than some random guy’s name, which is wise.

A friend brought this bottle for after dinner drinks.  YUMMY.  It might have been my favorite of all the wines we tried tonight (4?).  I don’t frequently purchase zinfandels, for no particular reason, so maybe I will have to start.  This wine has just the right amount of complexity, fruitiness, roundness, a slight spice to it, a beautiful smell, and all around it just plain pleases me. I’m glad there was a glass left over when my friends went home, because I’m certainly enjoying it now!

Wait.. is that GREED?  or is it GLUTTON?  Who cares.  It’s good wine.

It was bought to go along with several dark and bittersweet chocolates. However I’m not convinced that the chocolate really did much for the wine, compared to others that I’ve specifically tasted along with a bite of chocolate and noticed the difference. It still doesn’t matter… leave the chocolate and take the wine.

Winemaker’s Notes:
A vibrant, sweet bouquet of raspberry jam, molasses and cinnamon toast evoke the senses of carefree youthful nights.  Excellent oak integration provides silken tannins and spice to pair with Lodi’s unrestricted wild berry fruit.

Others Say:

From: Cheapwineratings.com

“…But it’s no joke that this is a good zin.  It has a spicy nose with a bit of raspberry, tomato, pepper and cola.  It’s very clearly a Lodi Zinfandel right from the first whiff.  Raisins, jammy blackberry, walnut and black pepper make for a big, bold palate with plenty of complexity.  It has good concentration too, and a fairly long finish with a hot spiciness.

Poppy Pinot Noir 2007

Wine: Poppy

poppy-pinot-noir

Type: Pinot Noir

Origin: California – Monterey County

Year: 2007

Cost: $15.00

Rating: 8.5/10

Value: 8/10

Alcohol: 13.5%

Our opinion:

A decent Pinot Noir is hard to find when you’re shopping with a budget of $20 and under.  This wine was recommended again by the folks at The Wine Bin in Ellicott City, when I asked for a wine to drink along side a coq au vin.  Everyone really enjoyed this wine.  It was very easy to drink, smooth, tasty, and balanced.  There was no awful “I’m going to have a hangover” taste to it like the Mirrasou Pinot Noir has despite it’s cheap adequateness.

I’d say this wine complemented, yet did not interfere in any way with, the food we enjoyed with it.  I think this wine would also taste delicious on it’s own.  Even those less familiar with red wines would enjoy this wine.  It’s very popular and several stores report selling out of this pinot frequently, as it is hugely popular with their customers.

Bottle Says:

Great Pinot Noir, like the Califonia Golden Poppy, thrives in cool coastal climates.  Our poppy Wines are a blend o fseveral carefully selected vineyards, all located in cool regions and meticulously farmed for intense ripe flavors.  We employ minimalist winemaking and use only a touch of oak because we feel the best flavors are those derived naturally from the soil, sun and grape.  We recommend serving this wine between two and seven years of its vintage date.

Others Say:

From Snooth.com

“Fresh, light, a tad sweet. This Pinot Noir has a very light color and is very refreshing… drinks like a darker Rose. Great with chicken, fish, sushi.

“This was the first wine I tried that I really liked, and I ended up buying 3 bottles. It’s very accessible, but still has a distinctive Pinot character. I’m not good with descriptions, but I’ve never offered it to anyone who wasn’t very surprised at how good it was. If you’re a beginner in wine, track this one down and give it a try.”

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.”

Pacific Peak Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine: Pacific Peak

Type: Cabernet Sauvignon

Origin: California, USA

Year: cannot find a year on this bottle! 1814??

Cost: $2.99

Rating: 5/10

Value: 6/10

Alcohol: 12.5%

Our opinion:

We bought this a while ago and thought it was a great value for the price, so we bought more. The next few bottles were pretty difficult to choke down. I don’t know what happened….

So today when we had an opportunity to try our Vinturi Wine Aerator, we decided to revisit our last bottle of this confusing wine. You want to love it, because it’s so cheap. Well at least we want to love it for that reason. After opening the bottle we poured a little directly into one glass with one of these nifty items which prevents drips and red ring-shaped stains on your table:

The other we poured through our new aerator:

Let me just say that Bernoulli’s law never mentioned anything about a swooshing sound. But it’s kind of cool to hear as you pour your wine through this little bubble into your glass.

Then came a taste-test. On the first sip neither tasted that great. In fact we were both initially disappointed at how bad the pacific peak was tasting. A few more sips and we decided that you could tell that one was a bit better than the other, though I admitted that in a blind taste test I’d be somewhat stumped. It was just very acidic and ..well.. cheap-tasting. Then again I’m not a big Cabernet Sauvignon fan, so that probably didn’t help.

I had an idea.. if the aerator improves the taste by a factor of X, then wouldn’t pouring the wine back through the aerator N times increase the drinkability of the wine by NX? I know what you’re thinking, you can’t do it too many times or you’ll be aerating INXS. We wouldn’t want that. So I just did it 2 times. Better!

Actually by the end of dinner, it was palatable and decent. On the second glass, I admit I did N = 3 aerations on poor pacific peak. Even better. I don’t want to wear it out, I mean we just got it… but, it’s doing its job!

I suppose in summary, if you want to drink this cheap wine, you better get the aerator, because it certainly does it make it taste better! I don’t know how to describe it, but I guess I would say it went from being heavy and tart to a bit lighter (hence the aeration???) and sweeter. Less tang. Or you could cook with this wine, because it’s cheap enough you won’t feel guilty not drinking it.

One last point I want to make. Or maybe a question… Where is the date on this wine?!? Why would they hide it?? What else are they trying to hide….

Winemakers Notes:

California- Deeply colored and full flavored with essence of dark cherries, cassis and blackberry, this wine eliminates thoughts that quality must be sacrificed for value. Strong, firm tannins and explosive fruit flavors make this wine a natural friend of food. {Intense, Dark Cherry, Cassis, Full-bodied}

Others Say:
Surprisingly very good things… with the exception of a few.
From Total Wine:

“This wine is excellent; great bouquet, nice clean taste, and excellent dry cherry finish. That’s about as haute wine as I will get. Those high class reviewers who didn’t know if they would use it for cooking, can go on paying $30-40 or more per bottle, I’ll be happy with Pacific Peak. Come to think of it… I also used it for an excellent sauce of mushrooms and artichoke hearts.”

“Best everyday wine I have found to date. Good taste and extremely low price. This is a medium body wine with a very soft finish. It receives a higher rating because of the price. Of course it’s not as good as a $10+ wine, but at $3.99 it’s an amazing value. If you’re looking for something you can easily afford to enjoy every day, this is a good one.”

“I believe that wine doesn’t have to be expensive to be good. But this isn’t good. I’d rate it no better than a cooking wine – and I’m not sure what your food would pick up from it.”

Smoking Loon Sauvignon Blanc 2005

Wine: Smoking Loon

Type: Sauvignon Blanc

Origin: California, USA

Year: 2005

Cost: $10.99 (In at 7-11 in Ocean City, MD.. so I’m sure you can find it cheaper!)

Alcohol: 13.5%

Purchased: 7-11 Ocean City (we believe it is widely available however)

Rating: 7/10

Value: 6/10

Our opinion:

We opened this bottle when making a delicious seafood pasta with scallops and shrimp in a white wine and garlic cream sauce during a weekend in Ocean City. As mentioned above, it was picked up from a 7-11 down the street, no doubt marked up at least 1-2 dollars higher than you can probably find it elsewhere. We are going to classify this as a 5-10 dollar wine for that reason.

The wine seemed to go very well both in and with the pasta we made. It was a bit citrusy and tangy but almost bordered on sweet for a sauvignon blanc. The Smoking Loon is a California wine made in the New Zealand Suavignon Blanc tradition. It was definitely drinkable but not terribly exciting, though we would have fought for the last glass of it. The taste was pleasant but seemed to drop off quickly. It does seem difficult to find many cheaply-priced and good white wines if you’re not a big fan of the sweeter ones, so we will rate this at at 7. The value is a bit lower as the price we paid wasn’t the best. I’m sure if you can find it for $6 it would be a great buy. We may try to find this one again somewhere and give it a second look.

Wine maker notes: “This bleached blonde beauty is reminiscent of fresh green apples, pineapple and has hints of hibiscus blossoms. The concentration of zesty lemon and gooseberry fills your mouth leaving notes of thyme and melon behind. The bright acid in this wine gives you a zing while the fruit keeps your mouth watering for more.”

Others Say:

Budget Vino: “The first sip of this wine was pretty harsh compared to the Geyser Peak. It just didn’t have the same richness in flavor and was a bit tart and tangy. But, it got a lot better on the second, third, forth and fifth sips. It went down easily with salad, fish and cous cous.

Wine Waves: “Color: Pale straw “bleached blonde”. Aromas: Nectarine, green apple, hints of passionfruit and spearmint. Juicy, tart and light on the tongue, the lemon, gooseberry and mineral flavors are vibrant and harmonious. The finish is refreshing and damn near dry.

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”