Creative Juices Wine Blog

Wine Social Follow Up

We want to extend our thanks to all of you who attended our Lodi Wine 101 Social last night at Rulis’. We had a great time, and the wines were terrific! As an early reminder, we will be hosting the Grand Debut of the Wine & Beer Shop opening this Thursday evening at Rulis’ (318 N. Mesa, El Paso, TX) starting at 5pm. We will have live music by West Side Bohemians starting at 7pm. Please come out, and enjoy the music, as well as great food and wine!

Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

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Tasting Group Follow Up

Hello everyone! We hope you had a great weekend. As you know, we had the first meeting for our new tasting group yesterday evening. Our topic: Chardonnay’s.  We tasted everything blind (from right to left), and were especially intrigued when the wine in glass #2 was a red wine. As we said, this was the first meeting…we still need to work out the kinks. That being said, it was an interesting addition to our line up.

We tasted in random order, and had no idea which bottle was our own (save wine #2) which added to the excitement. We had guesses on which wine belonged to whom (especially wine #2), but in the end upon revealing the bottles, we were mostly just pleased that none of us brought a terrible wine.

Without further adieu, the write-up:

Wine #1 was the 2007 Shannon Ridge Chardonnay from Lake County, California. This wine had a toasty, vanilla, green apple, peachy, melon (cantaloupe), slightly mineral nose that oozed out of the glass effortlessly. It drank velvety smooth, and had a very nice creamy, cedary green apple, and buttery mouthfeel. This was definitely a well made wine, and would pair very well with shrimp, or oysters, or even a stick of butter. (If you like that kind of thing.)

This bottle weighed in 14.2% ABV, and was a great way to start the evening. Shannon Ridge carries a $15 price tag, and represents that price point very well. This is a worth-while bottle to pick up if you’re in the market for an oaked, but not over-oaked Chardonnay from Cali that won’t break the piggy bank.

Wine # 2 was the infamous ‘red wine’ that we spoke of earlier. In all fairness, the group member that brought this wine received an invitation to the group less than 24 hours prior during our Bubbly Event at Rulis’ International Kitchen. Furthermore, there is a good chance we didn’t mention what the topic was.

Now that the disclaimer is up, we will talk about the wine. Bottle #2 was the Chapillon Cuveé Harmonie 2006, which ended up being a Petit Verdot/Tannat blend from the Aragon region in Northern Spain. At first the nose was a little tight, but then it opened up some black cherry, leather, cherry cola, slate, flint, wet leaf aromas that really made us want to dive in and take that first sip. Once we did, there was more cherry, pine needles, some wet soil flavors, and a little bit of green apple, and grape candies (think Jolly Rancher’s). This was a cool wine, and we’re glad it squeaked its way into the Chardonnay tasting.  Advocate gave it 90 points, and it scored well amongst the group as well. You can pick it up for $12 all around Texas, and probably ‘in your nape of the woods, neck of the wape; How come you’re here?’ Sorry, there will probably be more Caddyshack quotes before this post is over.

Wine numero tres was the Felino Viña Cobos 2008 Chardonnay from Mendoza, Argentina. This is another Paul Hobbs creation, and you can see his fingerprints all over this wine. Advocate went 90 points on this wine, and may have sold it short. This monster weighed in at 14.8% ABV, and rocked our faces off. This is a thick, creamy Chard, that despite sitting on oak for 8 months, wasn’t offensively oaky. Mr. Hobbs knows what he is doing, and you need to just trust him. The Felino was fully of Vanilla, and citrus flavors, with a bit of spice, and even a sugar cookie aspect to it, which is just awesome! On the palate, it coats every bit of the mouth with a thick, buttery, whipping cream feel that tastes of baked bread, and vanilla, with more of that sugar cookie from before. For all of you vegans out there searching for a wine that works with your lifestyle, this is one to add to your list. This is an unfined, and unfiltered Vegan friendly Chardonnay. At $22, it comes with a perfectly respectable price tag, and drinks at a much higher level of quality. The Felino is just well made. What more can we say. Go out and find this wine. Seriously…the post will still be here when you get back…Go!

Wine #4 was the Acre Chardonnay from the Central Coast in California. This bottle retails for about $20, and has a light alcohol percentage of 13.5%. Acre has great straw-green color, and has a very fresh, clean nose. Kind of like a fruit salad. This was the one wine that we (Zak & Olena) scored the same, so we’ll include that we gave it 85 points. Realistically, it’s probably a few points higher, but either way, it’s a pretty good wine. No disrespect to this wine, but it did have a very tough act to follow in the Felino. That being said, it’s a well made wine that for $20 isn’t asking for too much, and delivers delicious fruit aromas and flavors. Despite being oaked, we could barely detect it on the first go around. Once we revisited this wine, it was slightly more prevalent, but well placed.

Our final Vino came from William Fevre. You can’t have a Chardonnay tasting without a white Burg. You just can’t. This wine was the William Fevre Champs Royaux Chablis 2005. From what we read about the bottle, it can lay down or be drunk from now until 2017. Based on its performance during our tasting, we think it could use a little more time. One interesting note that came out of this wine was a crisp lettuce flavor on the palate. Other than that, it was pretty straightforward, and needed to be accompanied by food, which after the tasting we ended up doing with the final 3 wines. The Chablis pulled it’s big-boy/girl pants up and did what it was meant to do. The Acre showed what a $20 Chard from Cali can do, and the Felino (as if it wasn’t already the star of the show) picked up even more steam. It dominated with Chef Rulis’ seafood concoction that had great heat to it, and was full of flavor.

So that’s it kids. 5 wines.  The New World showed well, granted we only had one Old World white representing in the tasting. The Red Blend was a bonus wine. If you have tasted any of these wines, or just feel like commenting, we would love to hear from you. Thanks for reading. Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Grão Vasco 2007-Dão, Portugal

Posted in Dão, Jaen, Portugal, Red Blend, Tinta-Roriz, Touriga-Nacional, Wine Reviews by CreativeJuicesWine on February 12, 2010

Last night we tasted a bottle of Grão Vasco Dão, which is a Portugese Red blend of Jaen, Tinta Roriz, and Touriga Nacional. We procured this gem for $7. In the glass, Grão Vasco has a few transitions in color, that range from a dark cherry color to a more vibrant ruby.

On the nose we got a lot more than we expected with highlights such as leather, wet soil, black pepper, strawberry, and a little cedar or tobacco box on the end.

On the palate, Grão Vasco is a dry, medium-bodied red that exhibits spicy, earthy, and mineral flavors up front and then transitions with a bit of plum on the mid-palate, and then finishes with sea-buckthorn (which Olena, or Wikipedia can tell you more about.)

In the end, this wine was pretty straightforward, and had a reasonably long finish that we enjoyed. Everything seemed to be in balance, and we were impressed with this bottle. It’s a great find at $7, and we ended up scoring it 87 points. Saúde!!!

If you’ve tried this, or other Portuguese wines, please share your experience with us.

Zak & Olena

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Tasting Results

As promised, we attended a tasting put on by Billy Crews with Jessie Griego of Fiasco Fine Wine out of Santa Fe, NM. This proved to be a very worthwhile event, as the wines we very good. We tasted 12 different wines from around the World, and each brought something interesting to the palate. Overall, the wines were quite good, although as with any tasting, there were a couple that may not have been the winemaker’s best effort.

That being said, let’s get into our tasting notes, shall we? We will list, and talk about the wines in the order that we tasted them, which Jessie Greigo did a great job organizing.

The first wine was the Nino Franco ‘Rustico’ Prosecco di Valdobbiandene, Italy (Non-Vintage). This was a great way to start off the night, and had a great nose, full of floral aspects with a bit of citrus. There is a nice transition into a calm minerality that gives way to a green apple, and a little fresh pear (that was actually mentioned in the tasting notes provided by the distributor). Overall, we enjoyed this wine quite a bit, and gave it 89+ points. It was quite pleasant to have a sparkling wine to start the night, since we realistically don’t taste nearly enough of it on a regular basis.

Wine #2 was Honig Sauvignon Blanc from California. This is a wine we have tasted before, and enjoyed it then as well. The nose was unmistakable, and exploded with grapefruit, and grassy notes that really shine when flavors of lime make an appearance. This is a wine with great crispness that we gave 88 points, and had it not been for the next wine, would have come home with us.

Our third wine was Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes, from Argentina. The nose on this wine stole the show, and was exactly what a textbook Torrontes should be. Susana Balbo is also known as the “Queen of Torrontes” according to our tasting sheet, and this is the reason why. Although it is considered an ‘entry-level’ wine, this drinks with much more authority. There’s not much left to say besides the fact that we scored it 93 points, and there is currently a bottle of it in our wine fridge. We should note that Wine Advocate awarded this wine 90 points, but sold it short in our opinion. Great wine!

In case you’re tired of reading, don’t worry, we only have 9 more wines to go!!

That being said, let’s move on to #4. This wine is yet another selection from Crios de Susana Balbo, and is her Chardonnay. 89 points from Wine Advocate. This wine has good color, which is a straw-canary yellow that gives away at least one detail about this wine that we soon found out about upon giving it a sniffy-sniff. Oak Monster! (Sorry Gary V.) We had to borrow some terminology on this one. This is a big oaky chard that one would expect from Cali, but it came as a bit of a surprise coming from Argentina. Let’s put it this way…there was nothing wrong with this wine, and we’re sure that this is the kind of wine that will appeal to a wide array of palates, but there’s a little too much tree bark on this one. We came up a couple points apart on this one, so we’ll average our scores to give it an 86.

The fifth wine broke the white wine run, and sent us to Italy. we had a Fontanafredda Barbera that received 88 points and a Best Value award from Spectator. This wine has a very pleasant mouthfeel that gives way to round, soft tannins. There is a lot of vanilla on this one, but it’s not offensive in any way. There is good dark fruit on the nose, but not quite as much on the palate. Overall, this is a pretty tasty wine, and we agree with the 88 points Spectator gave it.

Wine numero seis was Lang and Reed Cabernet Franc, from Cali. This one ranked pretty highly for us, and had a good distribution of pepper and currant flavors. The balance of acidity and soft (friendly) tannins left us thirsting for more. This wine, although tasted in the middle (normally a forgotten spot in the line-up) demanded a certain degree of respect, and wasn’t one to easily forget about. We went 89+ points on this Cab Franc, and appreciated the New World approach to this wine.

Number 7! Hey Mambo “Sultry Red” (or as a few of our fellow tasters referred to it “Slutty Red”) from California was another star from the night. This is a wine made by the “Other Guys” from Sebastiani (who are wine gurus). This blend of Syrah, Barbera, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Alicante Bouchet had a very smoky nose that right away lead us right into it’s meaty body and explosive flavor. During the tasting we said that this wine would go great with pizza. Later, after the tasting, we shared a bottle of Hey Mambo with Chef Rulis over a Pepperoni, Sausage, and Jalapeño pepper Pizza. ‘Twas delish. Furthermore, we drank it out of paper cups (because sometimes it’s worth the sacrifice) and it still scored 89 points. Very good wine.

8: Marietta Celars Zinfandel, Cali. Awesome! Very nice nose. We pulled clove, violets, peppers, and a bit of cedar from this big Zin which weighs in at 15.2% abv. Marietta Zin is full of blackberry flavor, and coats the entirety of your mouth. This, for the record, is the other bottle that made it back to our wine fridge. 91 points.

Number 9 was another selection form Marietta Cellars, the Petite Sirah. 2006 vintage made from 76% Petite Sirah, 22% Syrah, and 2% Viognier. There was a lot going on with this wine, and for the most part, that was a good thing. After a bit of initial confusion that left one of us tasting grape cough medicine, a re-visit cleared things up, and smoothed things over. It has a very candied finish, and tannins that will leave your mouth able to sand down the side of a barn. We gave this one 87 points, but will say that this was popular amongst the vast majority of tasters tonight.

La Posta Cocina Blend from Argentina was our next wine. The nose on this wine is absolutely fantastic, and we could smell it for hours. This is a blend of 60% Malbec, 20% Syrah, and 20% Bonarda. They all seem to work in perfect unison for this wine, but we were not surprised in the least. La Posta put out pretty amazing wines consistently, and always for affordable prices. We think this is an 89-91 point wine, and highly recommend that you go out and find either this bottle, or something with a similar blend. Tikal Patriota is a similar style wine from the same region, and more or less, grapes that would be worth picking up if you’re in the market.

The last two wines are from Susana Balbo. Remember her from earlier? Both are Malbecs, however the first is from her Crios line (which is more introductory). That being said, this was not by any means our favorite wine of the night. We’re sure that Susana Balbo is the nicest lady in the whole World, and it would be great to have half of the winemaking talent she possesses, but the Crios de Susana Balbo Malbec is just not good. We wanted to like it, especially since her white wines that we tasted were so well put together, but we didn’t. The nose is a little bit like wet leaves, and there is a distinct cow pie smell that rips through this wine. Fortunately, the flavor isn’t quite as pungent, however it doesn’t really make up for it, as a lot of the flavor is masked by the off-putting aromas. We would love to have tasted the same bottle that Wine Advocate dropped 90 points on, but we did not have that opportunity. We will pass on this one, and give it 78 points. The second malbec was definitely a refreshing bounce back from the first, but wasn’t anything special. Again, Wine Advocate gave up 91 points that we weren’t able to see. The oak really masks the fruit on this one, which leaves it a little bland overall. We’re going to go with 84 points, and a pass.

In closing, we had a great time tonight. This is what wine tastings are supposed to be like. Jessie Griego from Fiasco Fine Wines was very knowledgeable, and passionate about wine, which we always appreciate. We had a great conversation with her, and were impressed with the presentation. We look forward to her next visit, as well as the selections that make the trip with her.

All of the wines we tasted tonight retail for under $25, and with the exception of the last two are definite purchases at this low price point. We’re not sure which of these wines will be available at Billy Crews, but it is certainly worth looking into. We will absolutely be checking back on a few of these labels. Cheers!!!

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Luna Rossa Winery- Nini 2004

Posted in Mimbres Valley, New Mexico, Red Blend, Wine Reviews by CreativeJuicesWine on December 6, 2009

During our radio appearance Saturday morning, we had a caller that asked us about a wine from Luna Rossa Winery called “The Conquistador”, which is a Port style wine. We haven’t tried the Conquistador, but his question sparked the memory of having a bottle of ‘Nini” in our collection at home.

For those of you who don’t know about Luna Rossa, it is a family run vineyard and winery in Deming, NM. They produce all of their own grapes, and supply wineries throughout New Mexico and Texas with the excess fruit. For more information on Luna Rossa Winery, visit http://www.lunarossawinery.com.

In 2004 Luna Rossa made an Italian Style blend from five different grapes, then aged the juice for 24 months in oak, which resulted in Nini. The grapes used in this interesting blend were Dolcetto, Nebiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese, and Refosco. This wine went on to a Gold medal in an International competition.

Now, for our experience with the 2004 Nini. As we said before, the Conquistador question came as a reminder that we have been meaning to taste, and enjoy our bottle of Nini.

The color of this Italian blend falls somewhere in between cherry and garnet, and holds that color right out to the edge. It gives off red cherry, vanilla, strawberry, and vegetal aromas on the nose which we found get more pronounced as the wine opens.

Nini carries a tart acidity with almost bitter tannins, and sufficient alcohol. The in mouth flavors are pleasant and as with the nose, change as the wine opens. We were getting strawberry, vanilla, cherry, a touch of citrus, mild vegetal notes, and bit of cocoa towards the end. The finish isn’t terribly long, but lengthy enough to slowly enjoy this bottle.

We are impressed with this wine, and through technical evaluation award it with a very sound 89 points.

For El Pasoans, the closest place you can pick a bottle of this up is in Mesilla, but we highly recommend stopping in at the tasting room in Deming which is right off of I-10 east. Cheers!

It’s snowing in El Paso

Posted in Australia, Red Blend, Wine Reviews by CreativeJuicesWine on November 30, 2009

It’s snowing in El Paso today. This is fantastic. Now there is a great excuse to have a glass of Port at 11:30 am.

There is something about this fortified wine that makes cold, snowy days so much more enjoyable. Coming from New York, we spent three months out of the last year standing outside in below zero weather, cleaning over a foot of snow off of our cars every day. As fun as that was, we’re happy to call ourselves El Pasoans. This snow is reminiscent of nights we used to spend walking home from the wine bar we worked at in NY. As much as we miss it sometimes, it’s nice to know that every bit of this snow we get today will be gone by Wednesday.

All of the weather talk aside, grab yourself a bottle of a good sipping port. Buy a 10 year Tawny, or even a Ruby Port. Either way, sit back, relax, and enjoy the warming sensation this beautiful creature called Porto provides as it coats your mouth and throat.

Today, we will be enjoying a glass or two of Jonesy Rare Aged Port from Australia. It is imported by the Grateful Palate out of Oxnard, CA. This is a great sipping Port, and comes in at the amazing low price of $11. You cannot beat it. This bottle was recommended to us by a friend at the Greenery, where it is sold locally.

Saint-Esprit Cotes-Du-Rhone 2007 Delas

Posted in Cotes Du Rhone, France, Red Blend, Wine Reviews by CreativeJuicesWine on November 18, 2009

Are you kidding me?

In case you haven’t noticed yet, we like to find value wines. This particular bottle cost us $15. Our best guess is that this bottle was mislabeled during the pricing process, underselling itself by about $30. Not that we’re complaining.

Upon the initial sniff, we knew that we were in for an absolute treat. The nose is reminiscent of raspberry cheesecake, with notes of vanilla, and cocoa.

On the palate this Syrah based treasure (75% Syrah, 25% Grenache) playfully exhibits cherry, vanilla, chocolate and raspberry flavors. Delicious.

There is a crisp acidity that comes through on the finish, which lingers for an impressive 15 seconds.

We are delighted with this bottle, however we must inform you that we entered this tasting with high hopes. The reason for the high expectations, of course, is that it is a 2007 Cotes-Du-Rhone. We’ll definitely be revisiting wines from the Rhone Valley in upcoming weeks, and keeping you posted on our findings.

We award this wine 90 points. If this were Bastille day, we would shoot off fireworks. But, it’s not. Also, we’re not French. Cheers!