Creative Juices Wine Blog

Beer 101: Brown Ales & Stouts

Posted in Announcements, Beer, Classes, Texas by CreativeJuicesWine on February 22, 2010

Join us on Saturday to learn a little about these hearty beers. We’ll taste 6 to 7 beers including Pipeline Porter, Gordon, and Ten Fidy Imperial Stout. These beers are rich, yummy, high in alcohol and can put you on your butt if you’re not careful!
$20 gets you education, beer samples, and a snack to munch on.  As always, we’ll provide food suggestions if you want to order more food off the menu. Like what you’re tasting? Take a sixer home with you! Cheers!

Zak & Olena

Wine vs. Beer Tonight!!!

Posted in Announcements, Beer, Classes, Food & Wine Pairing, White Blend, wine by CreativeJuicesWine on February 17, 2010

Hey everyone! Happy Wine Wednesday! We wanted to remind you that tonight is Beer vs. Wine at DiVino Wine Bar @7pm. We are going to be having a taste off paired with tapas for $25. The face-off will feature Sokol Blosser Evolution vs. Stella Artois, and The Crusher Petite Sirah vs. Duvel. It’s Ameerican Wine vs. Belgian Beer, and you decide the winner!

This has never been done before, so by coming out, you’ll be making history! Call 915.351.1000 to reserve. Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Pinot Noir Tasting

What better way to start a week than with a Pinot Noir tasting? You nailed it…there is no better way to start a week!
Last night we went out to Billy Crews’ for his weekly Monday night tasting. They were tasting 12 different Pinots, which they had arranged by price. Maybe not the best tasting order, but it worked nevertheless.

These are the tasting notes from our Pinot Tasting at Billy Crews Monday evening. Sorry for the delay, but without further adieu, here we go. For your sake, we’ve kept our notes to a minimum. Cheers!

First up was Wild Rock Cupid’s Arrow Pinot Noir 2008 from Central Otago, New Zealand. This wine had solid acidity, and a nice distribution of cherry, mineral, vanilla, pepper, and currants. It was lacking on a finish, and left us high and dry overall. This was not the best representation from Central Otago in our opinion, and we gave it 84 points. At $16.45, this was a disappointment, and a pass.

Pinot #2 was Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir 2007 from Oregon. This wine was a bit over-oaked, and had a big vanilla nose, but then fizzled out, and was rather thin in the end. This was another 84 point wine. $$18.81 price tag, and a pass.

Pinot #3 was the 2007Acacia Pinot Noir from Carneros. This wine had a little bit more going on, and exhibited nice strawberry aromas and flavors in combination with a well-distributed balance of oak, and smokiness. At $19.99, this wasn’t a terrible wine. We gave it 87 points, but it didn’t overly impress us.

Pinot #4 was the 2005 Galante Almond Felt Pinot Noir From California. This was pretty acidic, and had a bit of fruit, though none of it really stood out. As the price stands, this wine is not worth it. Galante is a miss at $22.34. This wine was kind of meh, and we waived 83 points at it, and moved on.

Pinot #5 was the Willamette Valley Vineyards Founders Pinot Noir from 2007 (Oregon). This wine felt a little bit more put together, and represented Oregon Pinot fairly well. The one thing that stood out most about this wine was a peculiar pickled peppers aspect that we couldn’t quite get passed. If not peppers, it was definitely something pickled. That being said, we enjoyed this wine enough to score it 88 points. At $24.69, this fits a price point that a lot of people can be happy with. There may be better Oregon Pinot Noirs out there, but this one isn’t stinking up the joint, and is probably worth a quarter Benjamin.

Pinot #6 was from a familiar label, Roessler. This was the Roessler Laurelwood Pinot Noir 2007 out of Willamette Valley. Almost sweet on the attack, this Pinot leads into a smoked meat and red fruit collision on the palate. Very interesting stuff. We scored this wine 89 points, and would probably pick this up at $27. Oregon Pinots are just worth a little bit of extra jingle.

Pinot #7 was the 2007 Craggy Range Pinot Noir from Central Otago, New Zealand. This was a nice spicy, peppery pinot with plenty of fruit, and wood backing it up. This pinot has been on our to taste list for a while now, and we weren’t disappointed upon finally getting around to it. This is a pretty solid pinot, and we rated it 90 points. There are probably better $34 pinots out there, but the Craggy Range is worth giving a try if you’re in the market for a big Central Otago Pinot.

Pinot #8 was from Caymus in Santa Barbara, CA. It was the Caymus Belle Gloss 2007 Clark & Telephone Vineyard Pinot Noir, and really represented the brand well. This wine had a lot of fruit, and exploded with strawberry and cherry flavors that lasted for days. This wine is very tasty, and worth every penny at $39 per 750ml. We rated this pinot 92 points, and would love to revisit this wine in the future. We settled for a second taste, which we definitely didn’t spit.

Pinot #9 Was the 2007 Cakebread Pinot Noir. There’s not much to say about this wine. The Caymus was a tough act to follow, but come on! The Cakebread didn’t even make a showing on this one. This wine has a very confused, awkward palate, and a $50 price tag that makes it an easy pass. This wine, although not having anything going for it, caused the biggest separation in scoring of the evening. So much so that we will give you both scores from Olena (87 points) and Zak (81-83 points). No thanks.

Pinot #10 had the coolest name of the night: Hartford Court Fog Dance Pinot Noir 2006 from Russian River Valley. It had rugged tannins (which we didn’t see coming), a lot of pepper, and strawberry on the nose (which were also evident on the palate). We liked this wine, but didn’t love it. This was an 88 point wine, but at $50, is a pass. There are better bottles out there for $25-40.

Pinot #11 was the Ponzi RSV 2007 Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley. This has well integrated vanilla flavors, but then picks up a sour, pickled aspect–which was unexpected, but not unwelcomed. It was a kind of watery on the palate, and overall left us hanging. Once again, the big price tag ($53) hurts the value of the wine. We gave this pinot 86 points, and obviously, a pass. It’s just not worth that kind of dough.

Pinot #12 was La Crema 9 Barrel Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. We’ve had La Crema before, but not the 9 Barrel, so this was a bottle we were looking forward to at the beginning of the tasting. We were not impressed. It was over-oaked, and lacked in complexity. You won’t find us spending $59 on an 87 point bottle that should be wrapped in a $18 package. Cool label though.

So that’s it. 12 Pinot Noirs. This wasn’t the best showing of Pinot we’ve seen, but there were definitely some highlights. We wouldn’t mind seeing a couple of them again. Thank for reading. Cheers!!!

Thanks for reading. Cheers!!!
Zak & Olena

Wine vs. Beer @ DIVINO

Posted in Announcements, Classes by CreativeJuicesWine on February 12, 2010

Next Wednesday at DIVINO, come out and experience a Wine vs. Beer face off. We will pair 2 wines and 2 beers to 2 different dishes, and you will decide which one stacks up the best!

The event starts at 7pm next Wednesday (February 17th) at DIVINO and costs $25. We will see you there! Cheers!!!

For reservations, call 915.351.1000.

Tagged with: , , , , ,

Who Knew?

Posted in Australia, France, McLauren Vale, South Australia, White Bordeaux, Wine Reviews by CreativeJuicesWine on February 3, 2010

So yesterday was a day for experiments. Every once in a while, we need to try something new. In our case, it’s pretty much every day. No big deal. We went out on a mission to find 2 bottles for under $30. These are the bottles we came home with for $29.21.

First up was a bottle of Chateau Roques Mauriac Classic 2008 White Bordeaux from Vincent Levieux. White Bordeaux is under appreciated in our opinion, but we’re pretty big Sauv Blanc and Semillion fans. This bottle is a blend of the two, and at $13, it was worth picking up. There’s a lot going on with the nose, which was quite pleasant. It pops with a ton of grass and grapefruit that leads into lemony, mineral aromas. On the end, there’s a bit of saw dust and a slight touch of diesel. Great nose! The mouthfeel left us a little disappointed after that nose. It was a little salty, and there was a wet hay or fresh parsley aspect that went directly into lemons, grass and unripe cherry. Overall, the wine was correct, just not that impressive. We scored it 83 points due to its ultimate lack of complexity, and follow-through with all of its components.

With dinner, which was a pork loin served over garlic and herb infused rice, we had a bottle of 2002 School Block Shiraz from Scarpantoni in McLaren Vale, Australia. It’s a blend of 60% Shiraz, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Merlot, and weighs in at 15% ABV. This was an absolute bomb of Currants! Currants! Currants! In addition, there was plenty of plum, dark berry (black and blueberries) some dark chocolate, and pepper on the nose. As if the nose hadn’t sold us on this wine, it had plenty of body, and soul. Everything about it was pleasant, and correct. It finished incredibly well, and all in all was just a very good wine. Much to the chagrin of our White Bordeaux from earlier, this wine earned a whopping 93 points! This is a cellar sleeper, and probably has a few more years left in it with continued improvement. All this comes with a $14 price tag. Not bad.

Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Tagged with: , , , ,

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!!!

Tagged with: ,

Wine Tasting Tonight

Posted in Announcements by CreativeJuicesWine on February 1, 2010

Tonight we’re going to go do what we do best…drink. Ok, well we’ll be tasting several wines, and reporting back to you on how they all stack up.

Billy Crews, winner of something like 700 Wine Spectator Grand Awards (give or take) is hosting a wine tasting tonight. They will be pouring 12 wines, which we will diligently evaluate, and hopefully purchase a few bottles of.

This event is open to the public @ $10 per person, and we strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of this brilliant opportunity. We hope to see you there, but if we don’t, we will be posting a review on everything we taste later tonight. Cheers!!!

Zak & Olena

Tagged with: ,

Gascon Malbec 2008-Mendoza

Posted in Argentina, Malbec, Mendoza, Wine Reviews by CreativeJuicesWine on January 28, 2010

Value Wine Alert!

This 2008 Gascon Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina is full of value. At $12 a bottle, this is a great everyday wine that brings a tremendous amount of pleasure to the palate. This bottle is like biting into a handful of dark fruits–Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Plum and Black cherries. It finishes with a great cocoa flavor that lingers for a bit on the back end. It comes across a little bitter, and the tannins ‘bring da ruckus’ to steal a line from the Wu-Tang Clan.

We enjoyed this wine quite a bit, and highly recommend this to all of you. It’s a definite recession buster, and we dropped 91 points on it! Go get a bottle today and fire up the grill. This needs a big, juicy steak to compliment its monstrous presence. Cheers!!!

DeLoach Russian River Pinot Noir 2007

Posted in California, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, Wine Reviews by CreativeJuicesWine on October 26, 2009

This evening we enjoyed a bottle of DeLoach Russian River Valley Pinot Noir with our meals at Mesa Street Grill here in El Paso. This was most likely an effort to make up for last night’s debacle. In the end, it proved worth it.

The following is a description directly from the DeLoach website:
The cool, foggy Russian River Valley climate allows for slow ripening, enabling grapes to develop full flavor maturation over an extended time. The fruit for our 2007 blend was hand-harvested from select vineyards around the valley and crafted using traditional Burgundian techniques: fermentation in small, wooden, open-top vats; hand punch-downs; basket-pressing; and French oak barrel aging.
Ripe raspberries lift from the glass and mingle with tempting aromas of strawberry-rhubarb tart and cola.  Delicate notes of anise, cardamom and gingerbread spice lace the fruit to unfold a rich palate of black cherries supported by medium-fine-grained tannins. The finish lingers with attractive, subtle, toasty undertones, fine acid and excellent balance.  Pairs beautifully with barbecued leg of lamb or braised pork tenderloin.

We ordered the bottle, and our waiter Marc, decanted it for us. By this point, we had ordered our meals, and as per usual, there was a distance between them.
Olena’s Order: An unorthodox one that included Salmon, Chilean Sea Bass, Big Eyed Tuna, Shrimp and Scallops. She’s more adventurous in her pairings.
Zak’s Order: Rack of Lamb served over mashed potatoes with asparagus (An obviously more traditional order).
Although neither of the pairings were perfect, Zak’s was the safe choice that proved to be a friendlier match.
The only thing that really stood out about this wine was that it was spicier than most Pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley in California. This can’t be said of all domestic Pinots, but in this case, it was definitely a factor. By no means does this insinuate the wine that was substandard, or varietally inaccurate. This was an excellent pinot that we ranked a 91.
We highly recommend this bottle that we bought at a restaurant for $40. At retail, you should be able to find it for around $19. Go out, and try this wine. Cheers!

Zak & Olena