Monday, May 24, 2010

Amaze Yourself!

Sometimes you come across a wine that you have been looking for over a year or two then out of nowhere... BAM...the love of your life shows up on your front door. Sorry Megan, I still love you. Even Megan was really impressed with this gem of a wine. Little history lesson then we can start drinking. I wish that was the case in college. Oh yeah, that was the case, we went JMU!
Chinon is on the left bank of the Loire river and along the Vienne river, at the heart of the Loire Valley. Chinon is know for thier Red Wines, mainly Cabernet Franc, which makes up 99% of the regions wine production. What makes up the other 1% you may ask. Chenin Blanc makes up the other 1%. About 1500 cases make its way to the States and most of that goes to NYC and Cali High-End Restaurants with snobby owners and insane prices. Treat yourself and find this wine!

2008 Couly Dutheil "Les Chanteaux" Chinon Blanc ($18 Kroger) This Dry Style Chenin Blanc has a beautiful Pale Yellow color with clear edges. The nose punches you in the face with flavors of melons, white flowers, herbs, minerals. It's like you made a Aroma Smoothie with Honeydew, Basil, Grass, Roses, and a sack of dimes. Buy the wine and you will understand my madness. The palate is fruity, delicate and soft, and fresh and bright in the extreme. No wood, but this wine does see extended lees contact with batonnage to further its complexity and power. The lees (pronounced like the jeans) are the dead yeast cells, grape seeds, pulp, stems, skins, and tartrates that separate from the juice during wine making and aging. The great Champagnes of the world spend lots of time in the lees to add complexity to the wine without using oak. 97pts of Refined Herbal Dimes (Great Band Name)

Monday, April 19, 2010

83 Year Old Dessert in a Glass You Can Afford!

Alvear Solera 1927 Pedro Ximenez Sherry ($21)
"The impressive 1927 Pedro Ximenez Solera, from a Solera begun 83 years ago, boasts a dark amber color as well as an extraordinary nose of creme brulee, liquefied nuts, marmalade, and maple syrup. Huge and viscous, yet neither cloyingly sweet nor heavy, it is a profound effort priced unbelievably low. It is meant to be drunk alone at the end of a meal." 96 pts Robert Parker
I read this description a few months ago and thought it would be fun to try a wine that was started in 1927, or at least some of it is 83 years old. In all actuality about 1% of it is 80+ years old. I love Robert Parker but he is out there some of the time. Who wants to drink "liquefied nuts, marmalade, and maple syrup. But he is right about how great this wine is. Do you remember how sad you were as a kid when you opened your lunch box praying there was a twinkie but all your mom packed you was that stupid box of SunMaid Raisins. That is EXACTLY what this wine SMELLS and TASTES like with a hint of nuttiness and yes a syrup component on the finish. Probably because this is a dessert wine. Serve with a cheese plate after dinner or with a really good vanilla ice cream. I Love it!!!! Liquefied Awesome 95pts

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Some Wines Make you Say WOW!!!

Have you every gone out to eat and it seems like everything tastes bland and nothing is exciting anymore? Then you have a bite of the chef's mothers homemade 24 layer chocolate cake (this does exist at the Strip House Steakhouse in NY and Key West) and you actually start to cry... This is how I felt the other night when I had this fabulous Single Vineyard Chilean Cabernet Sauv from Santa Rita for under $20. I found out about this wine in the Wine Spectator Top 100 wines of 2009. I usually don't drink wines that I find in WS because I don't agree with their scoring system. It seem like the more adds you have in their magazine the higher the score of your wines. Trust YOUR Tongue!!! This is the best wine I have had in 6 months.

2006 Santa Rita "Medalla Real" Cabernet Sauvignon ($19 Kroger)

Pours a dark ruby red with purple highlights. Sounds like a punk rocker! I think I will call this my Punk Rocker Wine because when you smell this wine it hits you right in the face with Black Cherries, Plums, and Dark Chocolate. Then when it hits your tongue you get a nice bit of tannins then a rush of Black Fruits mixed with subtle spice and a huge cocoa finish. The finish on this wine lasts about 15-25 seconds which is HUGE for a sub-$20 bottle. Rockin 94pts

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Portugal makes Red Wine?

I thought Portugal only made Ports. Those sweet delicious after dinner drinks that I love so much! Who doesn't like something sweet after dinner, come on. A combination of five grape varieties go into port wine: Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cão, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz, and Touriga Francesa. Rarely are any other grapes used. These are also the same grapes you will see in most of the table wines. I have tried about 6 different Portugal red wines but have only found a few of them to tickle my fancy. If you like not so heavy red wines you will love this next wine. Usually for me the bigger the Red Wine the better, but it is nice to see a wine that has a lot of character without having to be huge.

Domini Douro Red 2005 ($14)

Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Roriz grapes were used in the making of this wine. Ruby red color that fades around the outside of the glass. This is not a bad thing but just lets you know it's going to be a lighter style wine. Fresh berries on the nose, Blackberry and Raspberry with a hint of smokey vanilla but not to much. A very nice but subtle blackberry and cherry notes on the palate with medium tannins but nothing over the top. Great with grilled meats or just by itself, just the way I like my wines. VERSATILE!!! Solid 89pts

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sauv Blanc with Jalapenos and Lemons

Have you ever picked up a bottle of wine and read the back of the bottle and the winemaker tells you all about how the wine tastes like a warm Sunday afternoon spent in a field of lilacs with your lover while eating rhubarb-cherry pie fresh from the oven. BOOGERS and HOGWASH!!! I hate those descriptions. This is why I should write the descriptions for wines that I try. Have fun with this wine because I know I did.

Bellingham Sauvignon Blanc 2008, South Africa ($12)
Close your eyes. "Imagine what a Jalapeno swimming in a pool of lemon and lime juices smells like." BAM you got the nose for this wine! That is exactly what this wine smells like with just a hint of a grassy herbaceousness but not as much as a New Zealand Sauv Blanc. "Now take the lemon/lime Jalapeno concoction and make a mojito out of it but substitute the mint for grass. Serve over ice and enjoy!" BAM this is what the wine taste like! The reason I am so excited is this is the first time I have tasted Jalapeno in a wine. If you don't like spicy don't worry, what you taste in the wine is the flavor of the Jalapeno without the heat. Perfect mix of Bright Citrus, Herbaceousness, Jalapeno, Balanced Acidity and just a hint of Stony Minerality on the finish. Try with Spicy Thai food to combat the heat. Also try if you are tired of New Zealand Sauv lanc. Solid 89pts

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chicken Stir-fry, South African Sauv Blanc & The Wii

I know some crazy combinations for the food and wines. The foodies and wine critics wold probably slap me on the wrist if they knew what we were doing. You have to jump out and try something new every once in awhile. Drink what you love We just got the new Wii Resort game so i made some chicken stir-fry with coconut rice and popped a bottle of South African Sauv Blanc. Yummy! And the stir-fry wasn't bad either.

2008 Boschendal Sauvignon Blanc ($13)
Megan got stone fruit on the nose. Stone fruit is a fruit that has a pit like peaches, plums, & apricots. I got fresh pineapple and grass. I got pineapple on the palate along with green apple, lime, and a mouth feel of honey and minerals with just a hint of grass. I say honey because you do pick up some sweetness in the wine but most of that comes from the warm climate and fresh fruit flavors of the wine. It's like eating honey then 30 seconds later you can still taste the honey. Megan got pineapple and floral notes on the palate with a citrus finish. Great alternative to New Zealand Sauv Blanc for $5 less. Delicious! 89pts

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cuban Food & Austrian Wine Perfect Match

Megan had her friend, Kirsten, in town Saturday night for the Ravens v Colts game (sorry babe). This was the Kirsten's first time to Richmond so we wanted to take her to one of our favorite restaurants, Kuba Kuba . We all split Empanadas (one beef & one spinach), Pork Shank, Grilled Salmon with Coconut Risotto Fritters. This wine I have had before in Chicago and loved it there so wanted to give it a shot with the Cuba fare.

2007 Loimer Gruner Veltliner "Lois"

I love the package for this wine. It screams SPRING! I'm ready for some warm weather. Gruner Veltliner (GROO-ner VELT-lie-ner) is an Austrian grape that is very similar to Sauv Blanc & Pinot Gris. Lois had a very zesty lemon, lime & spiciness on the nose. The lime really came through on the palate along with green apple and finished with great acidity and mineral notes. I love minerally white wines. I know that's not a word. I'm tired of oak in my whites. It coves up the fruit. Grapes are a fruit so therefore you should taste fruit in the wine first then the oak! Love this wine and can't wait til the summer to drink more in the hammock. 90pts

New Direction for VAWINO Blog

Wow it takes me a long time to post things. Don't worry I am still drinking plenty of wine. But I am going to change things up a little bit. Instead of boring everone with info that you probably don't want I'm going to just give you a brief rundown of the wines that I'm drinking. I'll throw in a few words of history and why I'm drinking certain wines. Then I'll finish with a score from 1-100pts just like the experts. Then you as the consumer can run out to try these wines and then post your feedback on the site. 90% of the wines you will be able to get at my Kroger or special order from any other Kroger. Let's get into the first wine.

2008 Campante Spanish White "Vina Reboreda" $11

I'm a wine geek. I'm sure you all know that. But I love trying new wines from different places. The past few weeks I have been trying wines made from grapes I have never heard of like this wines made from 40% Treixadura(Never heard of), 20% Godello (one of the oldest Spanish grapes), 20% Torrontes (staple in Argentina), 20% Palomino (never heard of).

First impression of this wine SUCKED. No nose. Watery. Lemon and Lime Water. Finished way to quick. But as the wine began to warm up in the glass I started to smell white flowers and peaches. The palate was still very light but I found out why, only 11% Alcohol. But notes of peaches and minerals came through. Americans as a rule have served their WHITES TOO COLD and their REDS TOO WARM. Put your reds in the fridge for 5 mins before serving and pull the whites out of the fridge for 5mins before serving. Serving temp for Reds: 60F Whites: 45F. Great wine for a cocktail party. Pinot Gris drinks will love this wine. 86pts

Tell me what you guys think??

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stinky Good Spanish Reds and Refreshing Whites

You can start to laugh if you like but I'm telling you that Spanish Wines are HOT!!! The Whites are refreshing but also complex with their citrus/grassy nose and their stony/minerality finish. While the Reds are fruit driven with layers of earthiness and soft tannins. I'll break down the Grape Varietals and Flavors you should find in Spanish Wines. 90% of the Spanish Wines you will see in stores will consist of these 4 grapes.

Albarino- A high-quality Spanish white grape, mainly planted in Galicia The high demand for these wines has driven prices up, which is why Albarino is one of the most expensive Spanish wines, though it is also one of the best. Look for Albarino from Rias Baixas. Price Range: $12-$25
You should expect impressive fruit notes of apples, pears, white flowers with a bright acidity and a long tart finish. Great with Scallops!

Verdejo- The Verdejo grape is predominantly used for making fruity young aromatic wines. Which makes Verdejo my favorite summertime wine this year. I compare Verdejo to Sauv. Blanc and Albarino to an Unoaked Chardonnay.
From Verdejo you should get Aromas of Limes, Lemons, Lemon Grass, Honey & Stones. Flavors of Lemons, Apples, Limeade, Citrus, Stony Minerality. AWESOME!!!

Garnacha: In Spain, Grenache is known as Garnacha, where it is the single-most planted grape in the country. Grenache produces smooth, balanced wines with ripe cherry and plum flavors. It pairs well with hearty risotto and pasta with meat sauces.
Intense Cherry and Spice is the main aspect of wines composed of Garnacha. I tell people if you like Pinot Noir you will love Garnacha because they are both on the lighter style of reds. Garnacha has a bit more spice than PN but it makes it more complex than PN.

Tempranillo: The Tempranillo grape is the dominant grape varietal in Spain's Rioja wines. It produces a medium to full-bodied red wine with lower acidity and full fruit flavor characteristics. Tempranillo wines have characteristic flavors of plum, cherry, and strawberry often mixed with an earthy minerality.

Jon's Stinky Reds of the Week
I should probably clarify what I mean when I say "Stinky!" This is not a term than means there is something wrong or gross about the wine. Certain wines, usually from Spain & France, have a distinct nose, or smell to them that is different from your typical California or South America wines. French wines sometimes have a "barnyard" smell to them. These are aromas of Straw, Dried Leaves, Dirt, or even Manure. These smells come from the way the wine is made and the soil the grapes were grown. Remember "earthy" is not always a bad descriptor for wines!

Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha 2007 ($11.99 Kroger) 90pts RP
This Garnacha is a special project of importer Eric Solomon, who discovered these ancient high altitude Grenache vineyards (70-100 years old), and brand named the wine Las Rocas.
Visual: Dark Ruby Red. Medium to Heavy Legs
Nose: Black Cherries, Mineral, Earthy, Spice
Palate: Cherries, Spices, Black Pepper, Black Raspberries, Earthy Stinky Oakyness?? (Tell me what you guys think)
This is one of the most balanced Spanish Reds I have had in a while. Bright Red Fruits but with a complex dirty eathyness for all under $15. Try a bottle today!

Bodega Luzon Jumilla 2007 ($8.99 Kroger) 90pts WS
"The 2007 Luzon is 65% Monastrell and 35% Syrah. Purple-colored, it exhibits a bouquet of spice box, violets, and blueberry. On the palate this smooth-textured wine offers generous savory fruit, good balance, and a pure finish." Wine Spectator
Wine Enthusiast gave this wine it's # Wine of 2008 Award and 90pts Rating. This is one of the best wines for the price that I have seen in a few years. This is what I got out of the wine
Visual: Ruby Red with Purple Hues. Medium-Long to Long Legs
Nose: Cherries, Spices, Earthy (Ground up leaves), Cooked Plums
Palate: Black Cherry, Blackberry, Tar (but pleasant), Spices Galore, Smooth Oaky Finish

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jon's BACK with some Spanish Flare

I'm Back!!! Finally. Megan and I just got settled into our new home. I started a new job with Kroger as a Wine Consultant. The wedding preperations have been kicked into high gear with only a few weeks left. I'm going to try to have a few post a week about new wines that I have been trying and if you have an comments please leave them good or bad. Spain has been my new baby so here is some info on Spain and some wines try.
Spain has a long history of producing fine wines, particularly the red wines of Rioja. Surprisingly, however, this famous name is just one small region among many, some of which produce equally good wines, although many produce huge quantities of uninteresting dross. Some of these regions are huge, and account for the fact that Spain has the largest area of land dedicated to viticulture of any country in the world. Only one-third of the wine produced in Spain is exported. Are they keeping all the best Vino for themselves?

I don’t think so. Most Old World (Spain, France, Italy & Germany) wine producing countries keep most of the wine produced for their own consumption. These countries consume about twice the amount of wine per capita than Americans. Most of these countries like to show off the best wines to the rest of the world. The difference between Spanish wines and the other countries mentioned is you can afford great Spanish wines. If I told you that there are 90+pt Spanish wines for around $15, would you believe me? YOU BETTER!!!

ATALAYA'07 ($14.69 Kroger)
“The 2007 Atalaya is a blend of Monastrell, Garnacha Tintorera, and other red grapes. Atalaya..."The wine was aged for eight months in French and American oak. This purple-colored wine has an expressive bouquet of violets, spice box, leather, game, blueberry, and black cherry. On the palate it comes off as borderline kinky and definitely sexy with lots of easy-going flavor, superb depth, complexity, and a 45-second finish. Although it can be enjoyed now, it will evolve for another 2-3 years." Robert Parker 91 points

The review above was done by Robert Parker, one of the leading wine reviewers in the world. I like RP because he tends to like the same varietals and wines styles that interest JO. Sometimes RP has a little bit of fun when he is describing his wines, “…borderline kinky…definitely sexy!” Nonetheless he knows his wines and doesn’t really care what other people care about his reviews.

Jose Pariente Verdejo 2007 ($20.99 Kroger)
"Intensely aromatic bouquet of grapefruit, lime and lemon balm. Firm and spicy on the palate, with a zesty mineral quality to the tangy citrus and green apple flavors. Finishes uncompromising and pure, with excellent clarity and citrus piquancy. This would be great with oysters."
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar 92pts

I had this beautiful wine the other night for my birthday. I had some Spicy Crispy Chicken from a great little Chinese restaurant we found near our house a few weeks back. I know what you are thinking, $20 for a White Wine!!! And if anybody knows me then they know that I rather have red over white any day of the week. It has ben so hot lately and I was having spicy food. Nothnig better than a nice refreshing bottle of Verdejo. Out of this Verdjeo I got a lot citrus on the nose and palate. Great minerality and stone quality came through on the finish. I didn’t quite get this grapefruit that Tanzer got but I think that’s b/c I’m use to the Sauv Blanc from New Zealand that really punch you in the face with grapefruit.

Verdjo is one of Spain's higher quality white grape varieties which languished in obscurity for several hundred years before being rediscovered 15 years ago. It typically produces a well structured and well balanced white wine as a result of its good acidity. Verdejo is both herbaceous and aromatic, generally known for its nutty flavors with hints of both honey and pear.
Try these wines and tell me what you think!
If you like Spanish wines leave a comment on the ones you like!
If you have been turned off by Spanish wines tell me why you dislike them!
What kind of wines do you want me to review?