Goats do.. disappoint

What frustrates me, is when I find a wine, boast about it.. then get the next vintage year and it tastes horrible!  I was very excited to let all my fellow novices in on a little secret of a great wine, at a cheap price. Thank goodness I tried the wine before I wrote about it, because I was beyond disappointed.

About a year ago, while shopping at Trader Joes, I stumbled upon a bottle of wine that had interesting looking label (yes, I am one of those who will buy wines based on labels…good marketing works on me). And I had to let out a giggle when I read the name of this wine- a South African wine called Goats do Rome (obviously knocking the Cotes du Rhone from France, and yes the French were upset about this). I grabbed the wine and brought it home. I didn’t expect much from this, it was $8.99, with a funny label and had the name Goat in it… but to my surprise it tasted nice. I purchased the wine again later, it still made me giggle, but it still was an easy wine to drink and tasted lovely.

Not in the case of this 2008 Goats do Rome. It was still $8.99, but the label has changed (not as cute) and the taste leaves nothing to be desired. I couldn’t even finish my glass, it left a sour taste in my mouth. I thought maybe it was me, but my good friend, and fellow wine lover, Diana felt the same way. I know different vintage years can taste different, but this was a dramatic change that left me feeling sad and empty.

Luckily, Diana saved the evening by bringing another bottle of wine. Thank you Diana! Please take my recommendation, skip the 2008 Goats do Rome!! Put your $8.99 into another bottle of wine (or some Chinese take-out)…. please!

Now, the saving -the-night bottle Diana brought is something you must take notes on.. so I will wait while you grab a pen and paper…

I have had this wine a few times and really enjoy it. This wine has a decent price and tastes is beautiful. You will be able to detect a dark cherry and plum flavor – which flows so smooth, warms your tummy and puts a smile on your face. I had a couple glasses last night and it took me to a place of happiness (and no I was not drunk, I only had two glasses of it). It made me simply happy and reminded me how wonderful life can me… like being able to enjoy a fabulous bottle of wine with your loved ones (and even if you can’t stand the people you are with, this wine will help you enjoy them).

Punto Final  2008 Malbec – Argentina ($12.00 West Seattle Cellars – I have seen this at local markets such as Ballard and Greenwood Market – and even a few restaurants serve it by the glass).

Please, please, please novices, pick up this wine (along with another bottle of Stump Jump or their other wine, which I have not tried ,called Foot Bolt -2006 Shiraz) and enjoy life!

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Wine Shop vs. Grocery Store

Where do you buy your wine? Do you prefer a quint little shop which only supplies you with wine? Or are you the type that prefers to buy your wine with your milk and toilet paper? This is the great debate. Even greater than a presidential debate (and a lot more fun). Everyone has a preference. Neither one is right or wrong, but since this is my blog I am going to let you know my opinion on where to buy wines. 

So, there are those who prefer to buy wines at a chain grocery store – QFC, Safeway, Fred Meyer, etc.  – usually you can find big name wines, cheap prices and if you have a favorite big name wine you can usually find it every time you go. I can see how a grocery store would be appealing, it is really one stop shopping. My issue with a chain grocery store is their lack of diversity. They have contracts with big name brands and are required to sell their wine. Little wineries cannot compete with the big names and thus chain stores won’t stock their shelves with those wines. I guess I am just a supporter for the little guys.

Then you can move on to the speciality grocery stores, the Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Ballard Market, PCC, etc. Their wine choice is more diverse and they generally have more information on their wines. Prices are a bit higher, but they are more open to supporting the smaller vineyards. I do buy wines from these stores often, but not always my favorite.

With both – it is very difficult to find help – even if you ask. Many don’t have staff with wine knowledge. If they do, then I never seem to hit the stores at the right time. I don’t know how many times I have stood in front of the wine section, with a blank look, and no one offered to help. How is a person supposed to know which wine to buy? Do you really want to drop $15 on a bottle you have no idea if you like or not? That is where the specialty wine shops fit in (although, I have recieved help from the wine steward at Ballard Market many times).

Wine shops are daunting- I get that. And with good reason. Many wine shops are intimidating. There a few in Seattle I have walked out of, because they were rude. But, then there are some who listen to your likes, don’t walk away from you if you want a wine under $10, and will remember you and your favorite wines. If you have a local shop that you love to buy your wines at, please let me know!! I have a shop, where everyone knows your name. West Seattle Cellars – prices are competitive (they even have these bins where all the wines are under $10 – genius), their wine clubs are reasonable (12 wines a month for $100 – amazing prices and gives me wines I can tell you about), they offer wine classes (I am taking on in Feb.) and the staff are incredibly helpful. I know they are not the only wine shop that offers such service, but West Seattle Cellars the shop which increased my love of wine.

In the long run, it doesn’t matter where you buy your wine, as long as you follow your taste. Just remember to expand your horizon and check out that local wine shop or specialty store. Not only are you supporting your local economy but you may meet a new friend, find a new favorite wine or just learn something new.

Shop on novices….

http://westseattlecellars.com/Home.html

South America

My friend Lisa stood at a crossroads trying to decide between a Chilean or a Spanish wine one fine day in Scottsdale, AZ . She didn’t know which one would settle her craving – they both are Spanish-speaking countries and both known for making good, inexpensive wines; she decided to take a gamble, trust her instincts and went with the Chilean wine (and she had not read my Spanish wine blog yet). I haven’t heard her opinion on the choice, but it motivated me to buy a bottle of Chilean wine.

Chilean wines are foreign to me. Usually, when I decide to fill my South American wine craving, I tend to lean towards Argentina. Wines from the Mendoza , Argentina region are medium-bodied and smooth (oh so lovely). I am sure at some point in my life I have tasted a Chilean wine, but it obviously did not leave a lasting impression. But, at times I am biased and probably skipped that region in the wine shop to head towards my favorites. So thank you Lisa for inspiring me to explore my horizons.

* Here is a little known fact about Chilean wines – there are more than 20 different types of grapes but it is their Cabernet Sauvignon which is famous. The wine I chose was not a Cab, but to me, an unknown varietal.

Some of you have asked me to review/taste wines that are under $10.00, since most of my fellow novices prefer wines around that price range (and we are in a recession right?). So, I will make sure to write about affordable wines as well as some splurges (we should all splurge sometime, right?).

Tonight’s Tasting:

Terra Andina – 2008 Carmenere – Central Valley of Chili (Whole Foods $8.99)

I do have a cold, so I am not the best judge of  wine tonight. From what I have tasted, I am not a fan, cold or not. It has an overbearing berry taste which is harsh on the taste buds and stomach. Ian said it tasted like the end of a bottle of wine; the flavor of sediment. We let the wine sit, and there was still no improvement. This is a wine I would not recommend ( I think having a cold made it taste better).  Even if you needed a take a cheap bottle of wine to a party, I would say stick with a Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joes. Now, I am not blaming the Chileans, every country makes bad wines. So, my mission fellow novices, is to try a wine from Chili that will take you to a happy place!

Have a wine filled night my friends!

ps – Ian just opened a bottle, since he was not a fan of the Chili wine either. This is a staple in our cellar and would recommend this to anyone – we usually keep a couple bottles on hand.

Guenoc – 2007 Petite Sirah from California. Is around $8.00 – I have seen it at Trader Joes and West Seattle Cellars (don’t purchase through their winery, they charge $20.00 a bottle, ouch!). Smooth, nice and easy to drink!

2007 Guenoc Lake County Petite Sirah

Viva Espana

Go Spain!

I am very fond of Spain. Everything about this beautiful country intrigues me; the beautiful people, delectable food, amazing history, interesting taste in fashion, horrible driving and of course their delicious wine (and they make fabulous olive oil as well). Maybe I am partial to this European country because I was able to live in Barcelona for 4.5 months about 8 years ago. Honestly, most of my experience in Barcelona is a blur. I would like to say I am fluent in my Spanish language (which was my main reason for going) – but I became fluent in eating and drinking the Spanish way. Hey, at least I learned something from the Spaniards, right?

France, Italy, California and Washington are famous for their amazing wines. Until recently, Spanish wines were not overly popular here in the US. But, this New World wine should not be over shadowed by those power houses. Give Spain a chance, try a few bottles of Spanish wines. They can vary greatly, so be prepared. However, you can find some great Spanish wines at good prices.

**Side note – My bet is on Espana to take World Cup 2010 – we don’t want to see Italia win this year.

Tonight’s Tasting:

Pinuaga Nature – Tempranillo 2007 (West Seattle Cellars $15.00, I also saw it at Whole Foods) – A Castilla red wine.

At first taste, this wine had a bitter bite (beware Tempranillo’s are temperamental sometimes). I was a little nervous that I would have to write my first bad review for my fellow novices. After letting this wine sit for a few minutes, it ended up with a smooth taste (strange I know, but wines are like that). The flavor of this wine is tricky – at times I can taste a plum, cherry flavor but then my next sip I notice an earthy, nutty note. An interesting combination, but kept me wanting more. This is a medium bodied wine that will warm you during the winter months, but also a nice wine to pull out on a summer evening while sitting on your deck reminiscing the past (and all the trouble you caused) with your girlfriends (or guy friends) ! This would be a great wine to keep around the house for all seasons (if it stays that long, it is very easy to drink, after first taste)!

Wine on my friends….

wineries, wineries, wineries….

Just beginning our day at DeLille

I love wineries! Which makes sense because I love wine.  I love wineries because it gives you such an insight to their wines. Some wineries, like their wines, are over priced and pretentious. Some wineries take the time to get to know you, as you them, and let you absorb the wines at your own pace. Then there are those who get you in and out as fast as possible , cheap service and probably cheap tasting wine – like a fast food restaurant. Horrible food, but it fills you up quickly. I obviously prefer the second, but sadly have experienced the other types as well. 

I am not going to get into all the wineries I have been too. I am not here to bash wineries (or their wines) either. I would like to tell you about the wineries I explored yesterday and the wine (and one particular winery) I feel you should invest in!   

Yesterday was a marvelous day! We set out on an adventure of exploring local wineries. Our wine tasting group included, my husband, brother, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, mom and myself. And since going to the Eastern side of Washington was not a possibility, we decided to check out Woodinville. Now, Woodinville is notorious for two of the biggest wineries in Washington, Columbia and Chateau St Michelle ( honestly are far from my favorite) – but did you know there are 45 wineries/tasting rooms in Woodinville? I didn’t, but now I do. I mean, this is a wine lovers paradise. But, since we had little one in tow (yes friends, it is possible to wine taste with a baby,  some wineries more welcoming than others. Just be mindful – swish, swirl and spit!) we had to limit the number we visited. 

Stop #1 DeLille Cellars

Ok, I have had one of their most popular wines called D2. FABULOUS wine! My brother-in-law Michael introduced me to this little piece of Heaven and have been in love with ever since. Just one slight problem, the price. DeLille’s wines over priced (for us novices who don’t have unlimited funds). The taste of their wines impressed me, but  turned off by the price. Nothing under $35.00. If you are in the mood to splurge, I will tell you the two wines I found the most delightful. 

2006 Doyenne Signature Syrah – $34.00 – A very rich wine with a taste of berry and spice. Not my favorite Syrah, but seductive on the palate. 

2007 DeLille Cellars D2 – $35.00 – Like I said a little piece of Heaven. The taste is of plums, cherries, vanilla and little spice. It is a smooth wine and goes down very easily. One of my top 10 favorites.   

Stop#2 Tefft Cellars 

 

This winery just opened a tasting room in Woodinville. Their original winery is located in Outlook, WA – a suburb of Yakima. I have been to the Outlook winery twice and enjoy their nicely priced wine. Out of the three I visited yesterday, this winery by far had the best service, class, atmosphere, price and wine. All 6 of us walked into this well designed wine cellar with lush chairs, couches and friendly smiles, in awe. We sat back and enjoyed our tasting of 14 wines (I did not taste all 14, I apologize) – for about an hour and a half. We had the full attention of the owner and his knowledge and enthusiasm for his wines was inspiring. I enjoyed so many of Tefft’s wines (and bought) – but I will give you a couple of the wines I recommend the most. I HIGHLY recommend visiting this winery as well! 

Viognier: Light, crisp, sweet, and citrus fruit taste. Very enjoyable. Most people think you can only drink white wine in the summer, but not true. This wine would taste wonderful anytime of the year. A great price of only $16.00 

Villa Toscana: A classic Chianti – everyday table wine. Bold smell, yet a light pepper and cherry taste. $18.00 

2006 Merlot: All 6 of this agreed this was a tasty wine. Very spicy and earthy. $23.00 

2006 Cabernet Sauvignon: a smokey Cab – at first taste is dry, then ends with a sweet finish (weird I know, but once you taste it you will understand). Very powerful, but extremely yummy. Splurge on this! $28.00 

They also have three ports that were a hit with our group ( I did not taste). You are able to find Tefft wines in local grocery stores, as well as Trader Joes and Whole Foods. 

Stop #3 Facelli Winery 

 

I have to say I was a little disappointed with this winery. Facelli was the third winery to open in Woodinville. You can only purchase their wines from the winery. I would recommend one wine from Facelli: 

 2008 Lemberger – It has a light taste with a smooth finish – tastes of plums, cherries and raspberries. $17.99 

For those interested in learning more about Woodniville wineries, you should explore the Passport to Woodinville April 17th and 18th. Check out their website! http://www.woodinvillewinecountry.com/index.cfm 

If you attend this, let me know what your favorite wineries are! 

Happy wine touring!

Tasting Break

Sometimes, you just need to take a break. Tonight is that night. I am sorry to say, no new wines to taste tonight. Stay tuned for tomorrow though. We are heading out to Woodinville for some tastings. We are planning to hit three or four wineries. Wineries on our to-do list include:

DeLille Cellars

Facelli Winery

Covington Cellars

Efeste Wine Cellars

I can’t wait to try wines and share them with you!

It is a matter of opinion

Tonight was a date night, well sort of. Sort of in the fact that our 4 1/5 year-old was at grandma’s (thank you mom!) and baby was with us. Graciously, she slept the entire time we were at dinner.

I am not usually a fan of chain restaurants. I find the food lacking luster, appeal and taste. However, in the Puget Sound region, there is a local chain that I adore. Purple Cafe and Wine Bar…. Their food actually has uniqueness and flavor; and their wine menu is diverse yet supports local wineries.

Ian and I decided to try the newly opened Purple in Bellevue (I usually avoid Bellevue, I tend to be particular and love my local  Seattle vibe)  As the little one slept soundly, we enjoyed wine tastings (Flights are nice – you really feel like you are taking a trip through wine country). Ian and I debated about some wines; reiterating that wine is all a matter of opinion. Here are the wines we sampled – what I enjoyed the most (and will buy in the future) and what Ian enjoyed (which I probably won’t buy – sorry Ian).

Tonight’s Tastings: (FYI these were tastings, we did not drink whole bottles)

Saviah “The Jack” 2007 Columbia Valley

At first smell, I could smell a blend of earth and cherry. It tasted close to the way it smelled, however it lacked a little flavor. It is a somewhat dry wine. I feel this wine could have potential, if  tasted alone and not with other wines. I will try “The Jack” again, before I give my full opinion. I have a bottle of this in my collection, so I will keep you updated. The price is around $18.00

Amavi Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 Walla Walla , WA- 91 Wine Enthusiast

This is very rich Cab. It has an earthy taste with a hint of berry and chocolate. This Amavi Cab was not my favorite. However, this was Ian’s favorite of the evening and  he even ordered a glass of it  after our tasting. I found it too rich and dry – but that is what Ian loved about it. At this moment, Cabernet’s are not my favorite – but if you love a dry, rich and bold Cab, you would enjoy a glass of this. A bottle of this is around $28.00; a little pricey but if you are a Cabernet fan, you will be happy with this wine.

Corvidae “Lenore’ Syrah 2006 Columbia Valley

I have become particular to Syrah’s lately, but  this was not my favorite. Way to dry for a Syrah. The smell of berries, cherries and potpourri fools you. The taste is very dry and bland. Other Syrah’s catch my attention and pay check. I will not  purchase this again. Price is around $13.00 for a bottle.

Produttori del Barbaresco Nebbiolo Langhe  2006- Italy

Holy Smokes!!! This could be on my top 10 list of favorites! This wine is smooth and it goes down way to easy. It has a floral taste with a mix of cherry. This wine would be perfect any time of the day, any season with any meal. I highly recommend this wine. It is around $16.00 – a very nice price for a very smooth wine.

I will be in Woodinville, WA this weekend for some wine tastings, so keep posted for some new recommendations.

Happy Wine Weekend!

A Stump Jump….

My girlfriend Natalie and I have many similarities. We have a similar style in clothes, we have similar political views, we have similar jobs (both work in elementary schools in the same school district) and we even have similar tastes in wine. So when she raved about this Australian wine called Stump Jump, it intrigued me to try it.  As I was at the grocery store tonight, trying to figure out dinner, I stumbled upon Stump Jump (well, not really I always peruse the wine section of grocery stores, I have even perfected this skill with child in tow!). And as I am writing this, I am happily tasting the wine. I think Natalie and I have another thing is common…

Tonight’s Tasting:

The Stump Jump – Vintage 2008  Shiraz ($10.99 Whole Foods – however it was found at Costco for $8.00) – Wine Spectator 90 points.

McLaren Yale – Australia

When first smelling this wine, all sorts of berries jumped out at me. As I was tasting this wine I realized it is full  of cherry, plum and raspberry flavors. Not too sweet, surprisingly a little dry- and not overpowering at all.  The after- taste at first sip left an oily flavor on my tongue. After a few more sips, the oil flavor disappeared. You have to give wines a chance, don’t judge on first sip!

 This is a good, middle of the week, I need to escape the reality of my life, wine (while of course watching the Office or American Idol). You can’t beat the price either. Good find Natalie!!

* Note from my husband who is tasting Stump Jumpp as well – Stump Jump is a good starter red wine, for new red-wino’s. It is not overpowering to the palate.

Here is a little fact I found out for you on Wikipedia (hey, you may need to know this for Trivial Pursuit someday):

It is called Syrah in its country of origin, France,  as well as in the rest of  Europe, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and most of the United States. The name Shiraz became popular for this grape variety in Australia where it has long been established as the most grown dark-skinned variety.

Happy wineing everyone!

And a wine fan is born…

From a couple of nights ago...

As an adult, we tend look back on our childhood and appreciate, or not appreciate, what our parents taught us. There are many things  I appreciate about what my parents taught me as a child; one of them being exposed to the world of wine. I spent many school breaks on car trips through the wine countries of Napa/Sonoma California and Eastern Washington (and let me tell you, many wineries make wonderful grape juice for kids). I have fond memories of dinner parties where my dad let me go into his wine room and pick any wine from his wine rack. I would bring it upstairs excited  to sit and listen to my mom and dad talk about which winery it was from, who was with them on that trip and  then watch them contemplate drinking that wine or saving it (and if they wanted to save it, I went back down and grabbed another bottle).  In today’s society, that may not be acceptable parenting (however in other countries it is acceptable, we are sensitive in the US – in my humble opinion), but it was my reality and I am thankful for it. Thank you mom and dad for giving me the opportunity to learn from you about the world of wine….

Tonight, I did not taste a new wine. I do have a 6 week old baby, so I have to watch my consumption. However I do have a few things to add from past wines…

Last night’s Cotes Du Rhone  tasted delightful this evening. Some wines taste lovely a day or two after being opened. Some lose a little flavor but are drinkable. Others turn bitter, develop a vinegar taste and are horrible. It is hard to tell if your wine will last the next day; even the most expensive wine may not last a second day after being opened. My only advice is to invest in a good wine stopper. (Crate and Barrel has nice stoppers). I will try to let you know how wines taste the next day. The Cotes Du Rhone was a wine that still had a nice flavor the next day.

A couple nights ago, Ian and I opened a smooth Washington Syrah.

Milbrandt Vineyards 2007 Syrah – Columbia Valley ($14.99 Whole Foods)

The store recommended drinking this wine with Thanksgiving dinner.  Since Thanksgiving has obviously passed, I believe this would be a great wine for you gentleman to serve with the Valentines dinner I am sure you will be cooking for your wife/girlfriend/crush. It would taste lovely with a pasta or chicken dish. It has a berry, current flavor with a little spice. Not much punch  but is a smooth wine to start your date off. I would serve this Syrah with your dinner.  For an after dinner wine that will knock her “socks’ off, stay tuned for my recommendation (closer to Valentines day).

Happy tasting…..

Hello wine world!

As I was riding in the car with my husband tonight discussing my interest in wine (and how I could turn a career out of this interest), he brought up the idea of me blogging to start. Wow! Sometimes he comes up with the most brilliant ideas. I am always talking about wine, wondering how I could share my love of wine with the world… and just like that Ian comes up with idea of me blogging. Genius! However, I am not a writer… but I have thoughtful opinions about my journey with wines.

I am in no way a wine connoisseur. I love wine, plain and simple.I don’t have big words to describe why I enjoy (or don’t enjoy) wines.  I just love the way it tastes on my tongue, the history of how it brings people and cultures together infatuates me and I thrive on the challenge of finding that “perfect” bottle of wine (which I have found so far in my life a lot of “perfect” bottles of wine.. and not so perfect).  It doesn’t matter the cost… an $10 bottle of wine is in a way more exciting than an $80 bottle of wine. I believe you have struck gold if you find a fabulous bottle of wine for $10. 

Wine is all about personal taste. I was once asked if I thought it was funny that someone’s favorite bottle of wine was from Suttar Homes. No way! It is all a matter of personal taste… and I would never judge someone on their taste of wine. This blog is all about my opinion on what I taste.. and only how I feel about the wine. If you taste the same wine and feel differently about it, please let me know. I welcome everyone’s comments.

I am slowly learning about wines and yearn to learn more. I have been on many wine tours in Napa, Eastern Washington, Oregon and the Burgundy region of France (though, I don’t remember much about that trip) – but I am still very much a novice. I plan on taking classes and doing a little more research. I would like to share all my new found knowledge with you.  I will keep it short, simple and easy to understand (because that is how I work). Please enjoy this journey with me!

tonight’s wine:
Perrin and Fils – France (Costco $10)

2007 Cotes Du Rhone Villages : 50% Syrah 50% Grenache  – 91 points Wine Spectator

Nice everyday wine. Doesn’t have a lot of punch, but smooth and light taste. The smell has a berry scent, however when tasting not a lot of fruit flavor nor is it sweet. If you like a heavy Cab or Zinfandel you may not like this wine. For the price though, it is a nice bottle to take over to your in-laws house.