June 23, 2010

Taste Live with Fresh & Easy Tonight!

tasting pour.jpg
Normally I'd break up my Fresh&Easy coverage, but as I was perusing their blog for wine recommendations (taking advantage of the big sale this week) I came across an invite to participate in a Twitter tasting. It is tonight so if you're interested, RSVP ASAP. Here are the basics:

To join
1. Sign up at Taste Live using Twitter, Facebook or creating a new account on the top right corner
2. RSVP here
3. Pick up the wines below at your local Fresh & Easy store
4. Log in to Taste Live on June 23rd starting at 7:00PM (PST) - Hashtag: #FreshEasyWines

The wines in question are all Fresh & Easy exclusives:
Napa Family Vineyards Chardonnay - Under $12
The Vine Yard Late Harvest Riesling - Under $8
Re del Castello Chianti Classico - Under $10

Check out full details of the tasting on the Fresh & Easy blog.

Read More in: Wine News | Wine Tastings

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June 22, 2010

Cheap Fun Fresh&Easy

For those of you graced with a Fresh & Easy in your neighborhood, check your local flyer. I just found out mine is having a fabulous wine sale and though I don't frequently buy wine there, this sale is so good I'm using as an excuse to try (and review of course) some of their private label selections:

f and e winesale.jpg

In addition to the unheard of discount--the best I can usually find is 10% off 6 bottles--if you spend $25 you also get a free canvas wine bag. So go, buy some wine, save some money, get a bag... and then check back here for the F & E Selections reviews and let me know your thoughts.

Read More in: Wine Discounts

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June 18, 2010

Shall I Drink it or Wear it? Essence of IX - Swanky Eau de Vin

My curiosity is seriously piqued from this one. High end, uber swanky perfume that just happens to be made from distilled grape essence, with the earthy touch of French oak:

Essence of IX $320
A limited edition pure perfume. Brambly. Floral. Stirring. White sage, roses, black currant, California lavender, French oak & wild honey. Inspired by Colgin Cellars' winery, the exquisite terroir of their Napa Valley vineyards, and the famed IX Estate (

Essence of IX Ingredients - 100% certified organic grape alcohol (beverage-grade), A proprietary blend of ethically sourced essential oils*
*Certified Organic, Wildcrafted, Biodynamic, or Pesticide-free

via Strange Invisible Perfumes

Read More in: Swanky Wine Fridays

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June 14, 2010

Stonecap Riesling 2007

VARIETAL: Riesling
REGION: Columbia Valley, Washington
PRICE: $7.99

I would venture to guess that some of you just saw the word "riesling" and are already mentally moving on... Don't go! This is not your granny's Blue Nun. The only thing you should fear from this wine is polishing it off yourself in one short sitting. In fact, why don't you just put your forefinger over the "R" word and imagine it says, "Stonecap White 2007." Are we ready to move on?

If you've been turned off by old world rieslings--which can be syrupy and redolent of kerosene and nectar--you must give a new world version the chance to wow you. This one does have a hint of nectar, but more of a whiff, like you've just come across a wild honeysuckle bush while playing capture the flag. One drop of honey on the tongue and the rest is all orange and grapefruit peel, almost ripe peach, juicy nectarine, and enough citrusy acidity for a clean crisp finish. Infinitely interesting and surprisingly well balanced, the Stonecap is also dirt cheap. I was not aware of the price point when I first tasted it and I would have guessed it fetched somewhere in the $14-$18 range.

Rieslings are by nature very food friendly. Pair this one with asian or the recommended seafood. Next time, I'll enjoy it with a little St. Andre smeared across some Jacob's cream crackers.

Find it here.

Read More in: White Wine | Wine Tasting Notes

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June 11, 2010

Swanky Table Wines are Good to the Last Drop

I don't know about you, but when I think of "table wine" I certainly do not think swanky. But the following two gems are just that.

If you've never checked it out, go to Wine Express and sign up for their Deal of the Day Newsletter. Every day you'll receive an offer for a discounted wine and 99 cent shipping. And periodically, they do a little housecleaning and offer some deeply discounted Last Drops:

colsolare.jpgCol Solare 2002 Red Mountain Estate, Columbia Valley
A "Dream Team" of winemakers come together to produce what has been called Washington State's best Cabernet-based wine. Marcus Notaro and Renzo Cotarella from Tenuta Antinori and Doug Gore of Ste, Michelle source grapes from a 30-acre estate vineyard in the Red Mountain appellation, planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. The 2002 scored 94 points from Robert Parker and is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Syrah. The wine is aged 26 months in a mix of French and American oak, 92% new. It shows depth and concentration with layers of dark chocolate, black pepper, black plum and vanilla. Supple tannins linger on a lengthy finish. Very Limited! $49 (originally $74.95)

branon.jpgChateau Branon 2001 Pessac-Leognan
The Origins of Garage Wine
What exactly is garage wine? The term refers to great wines made in very meager facilities and it's not the winemaking facility, but the commitment of the vintner that makes these wines so impressive. Jean-Luc Thunevin led the movement and by the 2000 vintage, there were at least 25 of these wines being made in Saint-Emilion. Now, they affect areas that were previously untouched, such as the Graves and the Médoc.

Purchased by the owners of Chateau Haut-Bergey, the Garcin family, they sought the help of Jean-Luc Thunevin to make their 2000 vintage a Garagiste style luxury cuvee. This estate, which was very famous in the 18th century, was abandoned and then partly left to the urbanization of the 20th century. The vineyard is located between Haut-Bailly and Malartic-Lagravière on gravelly soil and planted with 45% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. In 2001 Michel Rolland took over as winemaker and produced this extraordinarily rich, powerful wine. $81 (originally $159.95)

via Wine Express

Read More in: Swanky Wine Fridays | Wine Discounts

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June 9, 2010

Bodegas Volver Tempranillo La Mancha 2007

volver.jpgVARIETAL: Tempranillo
REGION: La Mancha, Spain
PRICE: $14

This wine is a lovely and luscious surprise in so many ways. I bought it out of spite really. I was picking up a few lamb racks for my mother's birthday dinner and realized that I since she ONLY drinks white, I needed only one bottle of red for my uncle and I to share. Since he drinks mostly California pinot noir and cab, and he insists that it is impossible to find a decent bottle of anything for less than $20, I just had to find something totally out of his comfort zone. He was taunting me and I was determined to prove him wrong. So I grabbed this tempranillo thinking it would be a good match for my lamb--and that's exactly how I would spin it for him--and I just wouldn't mention the price.

At first whiff, the Volver tempranillo is completely mesmerizing. Warm aromas of saddle leather and coffee go straight to your head where they mingle for a while with the intense fruit notes you get from macerated red berries and dried currants. It is ever-so-slightly floral, but a more dried, dusty floral--just a hint of dried violet, or maybe lavender. First sips quickly turn into an empty glass. Sharing is definitely a problem with this one. The rich, round fruit notes are layered with subtle spice, sweet tobacco, and supple tannins. This tempranillo has wow. I think I could have polished off the bottle before the lamb racks hit the grill.

This wine so completely blew me away. My uncle was even impressed and thought I spent $25 or $30 on it. Check your local Whole Foods or get it online here.

Find it. Get it. Drink it. Thank me later.

Read More in: Red Wine | Wine Tasting Notes

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May 31, 2010

Jarhead - Wines of Character

Before we all head out to the beach or the block party or the family picnic, let us remember why most of us are not at work today. Let us honor the men and women who valiantly serve and have served to protect us, our children and the United States of America.

I don't know about you, but I like to do most of my honoring and remembering with a fine glass of something in my hand. Now, thanks to the passion and perseverance of two fine marines, you can enjoy a fantastic California red and show your support at the same time.

With Jarhead Red, we aim to give back while honoring the men and women who defend our nation. Each bottle of Jarhead Red supports the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, which provides educational assistance to children of U.S. Marines, with special consideration given to families of fallen Marines.

While Jarhead Red is made by Marines, for Marines, it will appeal to anyone who enjoys a robust red wine crafted in an approachable style.

2008_jarhead_red.jpg2008 JARHEAD RED
The Rhône varietal components of Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault were harvested from the Firestone family's estate vineyards and aged in individual lots of French oak barrels, 25 percent of which featured new oak. These lots contributed depth and complexity to the final blend, while a larger lot of Merlot from other local vineyards brought a supple roundness to the texture. The 2008 opens with deep aromas of plum, coffee and vanilla. Rich, rounded flavors of black cherry, cassis and cedar unfold into a long, spicy finish. This wine is a perfect match for classic American fare, such as peppered steak, barbecued chicken and grilled sausage. True to its name, Jarhead Red boasts a robust character and a finish that doesn't quit. This is the 10th vintage of Jarhead Red since the inaugural vintage of 1999. $13

2009_jarhead_chard_label.jpg2009 JARHEAD CHARD
The 2009 Jarhead Chard comes from select vineyards in Santa Barbara County, where the long, moderate growing season is ideal for achieving optimal ripeness and balance in the Chardonnay grape. The wine was fermented in a combination of stainless steel and French oak to maintain natural fruit freshness while bringing a toasty roundness to the palate. The 2009 Chardonnay begins with aromas of tropical fruit with hints of vanilla and citrus. Flavors of pear, pineapple and butterscotch finish with clean, mineral accents. This finely balanced Chardonnay is an excellent match for grilled seafood, roast lemon chicken and creamy pastas. $13

06_jarhead_reserve_web.jpg2006 JARHEAD RESERVE
Only the finest lots of the vintage are selected for the limited-edition bottling of Jarhead Red Reserve. These lots are aged separately for a minimum of 16 months in premium French oak barrels. The 2006 vintage is a complex, full-bodied blend that opens with smoky aromas of black cherry, plum, mocha and juniper. The palate unfolds with deep, integrated layers of briary black fruit with hints of spicy vanilla. $24

The 2008 vintage is a powerful blend of Cabernet Franc (75%), Merlot (13%) and Syrah (12%) and will be released in September of 2010. Stay tuned for details.

Images and copy via Jarhead

Read More in: Chardonnay | Red Wine | Wine Recommendations

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May 27, 2010

Totally Chill - Ice Jacket Instant Chiller

I can't tell you how many times I've had to do the fast chill on a bottle of white and the chilling karma was just not in my favor... Soggy and drippy from the ice/water technique or worse, leaking and almost frozen, forgotten in the freezer. I've stopped buying pre-chilled wines altogether--they've often been sitting upright in the cooler for months and after struggling to remove the cemented cork, I discover that said bottle has been robbed of all its flavor. This little wet suit for wine seems to be a good solution:

Fast and fashionable wine chilling! It's a cold fact: this neoprene jacket not only chills wine in 5 minutes and keeps it cool for 3 hours, it does it in style with eye-catching colors and design! Place in freezer till non-toxic gel inside becomes icy cold, then wrap snugly around bottle with Velcro� closure. The black jacket is $14.95 and the blue is on sale for $12.95. Both ship free if you order 2 or more. (via Wine Enthusiast)

Add fun bottle of white or rose and it makes a great gift for your memorial day host/hostess. Keep one for yourself and take it to the beach or concerts in the park all summer.

Read More in: Wine Accessories

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May 26, 2010

CheapFun Finds for Memorial Day

The summer season is almost upon us and if you live anywhere that is even remotely temperate this time of year, my guess is you're gearing up for the season's first big barbeque. Whether you're planning a massive backyard bash or an intimate gathering, we have your vino covered.

For the seriously budget minded, we suggest a red and a white that are crowd pleasers and can be easily found for a mere $9.99:

Thumbnail image for boro hills sb.jpgBoro Hills Sauvignon Blanc
Meticulously selected fruits from our vineyards in Rapaura Road and Renwick, results in a wine with an abundant spectrum of tropical and herbal aromas. Intense flavours of passionfruit and gooseberry are balanced by an overlay of limes and lemons. A succulent wine with depth and texture and a lingering finish of lime. (from Highfield Estate)

Thumbnail image for colores malbec.jpgColores del Sol Malbec
Colores del Sol meaning "Colors of the Sun." is a Malbec that captured the exciting, alluring qualities of the Malbec grape in a wine which utilized modern, high-quality winemaking. The vineyards in Mendoza are among highest in the world - therefore, closest to the sun where the sun's light is most pure. That pure light reflects from grapes and vines like a starburst, revealing all the colors of the sun. The grapes are watered with pure melted snow channeled from the Andes, using a centuries-old irrigation system inherited from the native settlers, the Huarpes Indians. (from Colores del Sol)

If you want to impress your guests and still stay in the $12-$17 range, here are a few picks that truly wowed us:

2006Chardonnay.jpgSix Prong Chardonnay
Not your typical Northwest Chardonnay. Reminiscent of the Chablis style, and perfectly food-friendly. Lean, but zingy with a big sliver of chalky wet basalt slicing through bright gooseberry & kiwi flavors, finishing crisp & clean with nuances of white pepper and the slightest hint of vanilla oak. Very refreshing. (from Six Prong)

Thumbnail image for Ottimino_zinfinity.jpg Ottimino Zinfinity
Aromas of blackberry syrup, plum and black cherry are tinged with caramel and hints of vanilla and smoke. The entry on the palate is juicy, adding flavors of pomegranate and ripe raspberry. The tannins are smooth and round and the expansive mid-palate leads to a firm and persistent finish. The balance of this quintessential Zinfandel allows great versatility with food, and its deceptive heartiness will reward experiments with exotic pairings. (from Vintage Point Cellars)

BRO-08-No.6_SC_USA.gifBrothers in Arms, No. 6 Shiraz Cabernet
Deep maroon, crimson and magenta hues. A lifted spice and herb aroma displaying a rosemary fragrance mixed with plum and dark red fruits. Juicy berries up front greet explosive fruits coupled with talc and fine drying tannins which carry the fruit across the palate uninterrupted. Highly approachable now but will cellar for 6 to 8 years. 85% shiraz, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. (from Vintage Point Cellars)

Or if you want someone else to do the choosing, My Wines Direct is offering three great packs that offer a little something for everyone:

sunny_whites_265_042210.jpgSunny Whites
Serve up refreshment with these six sunny selections. From Australia, California and Italy, we've brought you the best whites for the summer season. Sit back, sip and'll save $9 when you choose all of these wines together. Elegant and refreshing, what's better on a warm summer day than a cool glass of white wine? Italian Pinot Grigio has long been a summer favorite. But the Aussie's won't be out done. They've vinted the best of the down under sunshine with the Richland Chardonnay. California is no stranger to sunny favorites - enjoy a classic Chardonnay or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

bbqBest_265_050410.jpgBBQ Bests
Cheers to the grillin' master! Everyone will toast the chef as they enjoy these rich and bold reds, ranging from an Argentine Cabernet and Malbec to a French Côtes du Rhône and a Pinot Noir from California. A premium addition to this pack - the award-winning Merlot from Hall vineyards, which normally retails for $50. Fire up the grill and open a few bottles, to make your BBQ the best of the season. From meat and chicken to salmon and veggies, you'll find the perfect pairing with one of these top red picks.

mouthwatering_mix.jpgMouthwatering Mix
It's the warm weather season for fun with family and friends. Get the party started with a tempting mix of 6 wines from California, Argentina and Spain. Pair with your favorite foods and savor the delicious flavor combinations. Serve the California Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay with sautéed fish, grilled chicken and summer salads. If you enjoy a meal around the grill, pour a few glasses of the Argentine Cabernet or the premium Hall Merlot. And for an international cheese plate or a decadent chocolate dessert, try the Spanish Crianza or California Pinot Noir.

Wine pack copy and images from My Wines Direct.

Read More in: Red Wine | White Wine | Wine Recommendations

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May 13, 2010

Josh Cellars Amber Knolls Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

VARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon
REGION: North Coast, California
PRICE: $15

I have a dear cousin named Josh. Growing up he was more like brother to me and though it seems a bit silly to associate a wine with a human personality, I could not help thinking of my Josh while enjoying this one. There must be something about the name. This seemingly unassuming and straightforward cab has something of a hidden personality, a surprising richness of character and interest that draws you in and makes you feel at home. But this cab is beyond smooth. It is quite the charmer. Bold cassis and sweet tobacco notes add layers of intrigue to the warmth and familiarity of ripe and dried berry fruit essences. The Josh Cellars is a lovely $20-$30 cabernet--except that it is not. This is truly a stunner for only $15... a thoroughly enjoyable drink-on-its-own gem. But if you must, please enjoy responsibly with a neatly seared filet mignon, perhaps finished with a pat of thyme butter.

Image from Joseph Car Wine

Read More in: Cabernet Sauvignon | Wine Tasting Notes

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