Divine Wine Sunday: Martin Codax Albariño

Aaaah Alabariño.  It is a wine that is relatively new to me – just came across it about 2.5 years ago while meandering the streets of Barcelona.  And I have to admit, it was a true “wino moment”.  While looking at the bottle, pretending to be studying its label with all my fake “Wine Know”, I was really wondering what the heck “Albarino” was… the name of the winery? The type of wine? The region it came from? Something else? I had no idea.  So I did what any good Wino would do… I bought it to see if I would like it.  And… like it, I did!

Divine Wine of the Week: Martin Codax Albariño, Rias Baixas, España

Martin Codax Alabariño

Price Range: $13.49 at Total Wine

Wino Assessment

For starters, the Martin Codax Alabariño has a fun label, so we all know that makes the wine tastier.  But as far as flavor, this lovely white wine is crisp and clean.  It has apple and peachy kind of flavors to it – making it really refreshing to drink as the weather gets warmer.

The Wine…

Alabariño is a white Spanish grape from the Rias Baixas region in northwestern Spain. Most Spanish wines are referred to by region (as it is in France), but wines from Rias Baixas are often referred to as an Alabariño.  (E.g. – “That alabariño is outstanding!” instead of “That Rias Baixas is outstanding!” ) It is the most commonly planted grape in the region and nearly all the wine made in this region uses this grape. (I suddenly feel like my “wino moment” noted above was based on sound confusion rather than just wino confusion!)

Alabariño wines are aromatic and flavorful.  The flavors range from “zingy citrus-peach to almond-honeysuckle” (The Wine Bible) but still have a creamy element to them, which often makes for a more interesting tasting! Here’s what Total Wine says of the Martin Codax Alabariño:

“Crisp, Citrus, Peach, Medium-bodied

Rias Baixas, Spain- Medium to light-bodied white wine that is rich with peach and citrus fruits while the aromas tend to the floral and slightly nutty end of the spectrum. The wine has bright acidity and an easy-drinking quality.”

I definitely agree with the “easy drinking quality” – this bottle drinks very easy! And I think you Winos will especially enjoy it on these fine, warm spring days.

The Bite…

So what does one eat with this fine bottle of Alabariño?  Well, The Wine Bible notes that it is “considered one of the best matches in the world for seafood”.  So I suppose that’s a good start!  More specifically, shrimp dishes are especially tasty with this wine.  Also, because it does have that citrusy-peach flavor, it goes well with spicy or creamy foods as well – creates a nice balance. Try Alabariño with some spicy pad thai or green curry.


So there it is… go enjoy some Martin Codax Alabariño, Winos! You won’t be disappointed!


[Sources for all Wine Know in this post: The Wine Bible, Food, Friends & Wine]

Divine Wine Sunday: Tobin James 2009 Ballistic Zinfandel

As previously noted, I fall easy for a bottle of wine with a good label… And the wines of Tobin James Winery do not disappoint.   All of their bottles are brightly colored with their signature sun logo.  When I visited their winery last November, they had little sun patches that they gave out with the tasting… and for some reason, that easy little marketing delighted me to no end.  (I’d be the worst test case for marketing… would find any silly thing kinda fun.)  But I digress.

While I’m drawn to wines of any winery that I’ve visited, this winery is full of tasty wines at a nice variety of price ranges.  Today’s post, however, is about their Zinfandel. Now, I have to admit, I have not often picked up Zinfandels.  I’m not totally sure why, but I think it is because I had only had very fruity Zins.  But my Paso Robles visit gave me a new (and improved!)  perspective on Zinfandels and I’ve been enjoying a fine variety since!

Divine Wine of the Week: Tobin James 2009 Ballistic Zinfandel, Paso Robles, California

Price Range: $13.99 at Costco, $18.00 from Tobin James Winery

Wino Assessment…

This wine had a big fruity flavor to start.  I’d describe it as a peppery cherry kind of flavor… but instead of finishing off with that heavy fruit, it finished almost soft and smooth.  It was like a little treat for the wine to finish off so smoothly after such boldness to start.  So, clearly, I really enjoyed it!

The Wine…

Tobin James’s website says that their Ballistic Zin has “Layers ‘n Layers of juicy Zin flavors.”  Not exactly a detailed description, but sometimes brevity is best.  And that about sums it up!  I picked up this bottle at Costco, and their description on the shelf read:

“The fruit aromatics are fresh, with raspberry taking the lead. Characteristic notes of pepper add to the complexity, the well judged use of oak allows the fruit to take center stage.”

Umm… can I just say that I’m pretty excited that I used the word “peppery” in my description.  And then found that Costco also described it this way?!   Note, that I probably did read the description when I picked up the bottle a few weeks back – so maybe that word was stuck in my sub-conscious, but either way, I feel like all my Wine Know studying is starting to pay off. (And yes, I realize my fruit descriptor wasn’t quite as spot on, but hey… cherry vs. raspberry… in a wine, is it really all that different!?!)

Anyway, the take-away here is that this Zinfandel is tasty and delicious… and very reasonably priced!

The Bite…

As some of you saw in my recent blog announcement, I picked up a couple of new wine books recently and have really been enjoying them!  So tonight, when spicy beef tacos were on the at-home dinner menu, I went to my trusty new book, Wine, Food, and Friends, to see what Karen MacNeil, the author, would pair with a spicy dish. One little tip in this book states that “dishes with bold, spicy, hot flavors are perfectly cut out for bold, spicy wines.  This is one reason why many Tex-Mex dishes work so well with zinfandels…”.  So basically, this sentence was why I pulled out the one Zin I had in my wine fridge to accompany my spicy beef tacos.  And indeed, the peppery but smooth Zin was delightful with the spicy beef and sriracha sauce.

So if you’re picking up a bottle of Zinfandel, it is likely to be a big, fruity wine… and therefore, should go well with your favorite tacos or burritos or other spicy delights. Hell, if you like sriracha like I do, you may just want to pour a little bit of that sauce in a dish and a glass of Zin and call it a night!

Happy Sunday, Winos!  May your week be peppery and fruity – seems like a nice balance for wine, and for life!

Divine Wine Sunday: GaVin Pinot Noir

Over the past several days, I have been gallivanting about Portland, Oregon with a few friends, including loyal W2WK reader, Ms. Snodgrass.  We excused ourselves from life at our respective homes under the guise of running in a race, but knowing it was an opportunity to hang out in Portland to enjoy the food, wine, and merriment the city has to offer…. not to mention hanging out with some lovely ladies!  So while I have the Northwestern spirit in my bones, I thought I’d blog about a lovely Oregonian vino that I had the opportunity to enjoy while in Portland!

Diving Wine of the Week: 2007 GaVin Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon

Price Range: $12.99

Wino Assessment…

This was a bold, earthy Pinot Noir. But the earthiness didn’t leave your mouth dry – the wine finished very lightly and with a little bit of a soft raspberry fruitiness.  I definitely could have had more than the one glass I did enjoy. (Don’t be too surprised that I stuck with just one glass.)

The Wine…

Oregon is certainly known for its Pinot Noirs. Nearly all Oregon wineries grow Pinot Noir, which originates in the Burgundy region of France.  In fact, Oregon happens to be the only other region in the world (outside of Burgundy) that specializes in Pinot Noir.  (Interesting, eh!?)  Another interesting Pinot Noir fun fact is that the grape is never blended with other grapes – in Burgundy, Oregon, and other regions, a bottle of Pinot Noir is always made with 100% Pinot Noir grape. It isn’t blended with other grapes because it isn’t just doesn’t blend well.  (That said, it is used with some sparkling wines… but, of course, they are not labeled “Pinot Noir”.)

Anyway, the GaVin Pinot was delightful.  Interestingly, however, I cannot find a website for this winery.  (Hmm… new business idea… find small wineries and build their websites and request payment in liquid form…. it could work!)  I did however, find this write-up on GaVin’s Pinot in a “Leschi Market” newsletter from Seattle:

“Aromas of raspberry and strawberry lead to flavors of red cherries, with hints of baking spices and supple tannins. This is a well crafted wine and considering the complexity and quality it is an incredible value in Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.”

I don’t know how trustworthy the Leschi Market wine news is, but sounds pretty accurate to me after enjoying my glass of GaVin!

One more tidbit… Willamettte Valley is often mispronounced.  I know because I have been corrected in the past.  It is “will-AM-ette”… not “will-am-ETTE” as I feel is one’s natural assumption.  Now you can sound cooler when scoping out Oregonian wines from this fine valley.

The Bite

So what does one eat with an Oregonian Pinot Noir?  Well, I personally think Pinots can be enjoyed with just about anything… but to narrow it down from “anything”, may I suggest grilled salmon?!   You’ve probably heard that silly rule that white wines should be enjoyed with seafood and red wines with meat.  Well, that’s a bunch of baloney.  And apparently, Oregon Pinots were among the first famous ‘stupid rule-breakers’.  And they did so with grilled salmon.  In fact, there’s a whole festival called the International Pinot Noir Celebration which brings Pinot Noir winemakers from around the world to celebrate the delights of Pinot with U.S. Northwestern cuisine.  The event apparently comes to its grand conclusion with a salmon dinner to accompany all the tasty Pinot consumption.

I think I’m adding “Attend International Pinot Noir Celebration” to my list of must-dos in life.  Especially convenient that it is in Oregon, because I thoroughly enjoyed my short visit to this very beautiful part of the U.S.!


[Source for all Wine Know in this post is from The Wine Bible.]


Divine Wine Sunday: Yalumba Viognier

If you’ve been following this blog, you may have noticed that I tend to be more of a red wine drinker… but every year, as the weather gets warmer, I find myself eyeing my white wine stash.  And if there’s a white wine that is almost always appealing to me, it is Viognier.  I remember the first time I sipped a little Viognier and thinking that it was a white wine that drank like a red.  I’m not sure how else to articulate that, other than Viognier seems more complex than your typical white.  (I say that realizing that I may be offending the other white wines of the world, which is certainly not my intent… and yes, I do like to personify wine and presume it has feelings.)

Divine Wine of the Week: Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2008, Yalumba Winery, Barossa Valley, South Australia

Price Range: $8.99 at World Market, $9.99 at Total Wine

Wino Assessment…

I think of Viogniers as very creamy and rich, but with floral aromas – particularly honeysuckle and melons.  The Yalumba Y Viognier fits this mold.  It isn’t as creamy as some Viogniers that I’ve had, but still has that richness  in flavor.  It definitely has that honeysuckle aroma which adds a lightness to the wine, making it really lovely to drink.

As a sidenote, I was just thinking about the difference between Viogniers and Chardonnays.  To me, Chardonnays have a much stronger oaky or woody flavor, that I don’t typically get from a Viognier.  (Just thought I’d share that side thought!)

The Wine…

Viognier grapes tend to be high in color, alcohol content, and with the scents of apricots, peaches, and blossoms.  They are also often used for blending with other grapes… in fact this winery has a Shiraz/Viognier blend that is also very enjoyable!  Yalumba’s description of their Viognier is as follows:

“Bright straw with green tinges, the 2008 Y Series Viognier has aromas that typify this exotic variety, namely jasmine, white peach and honeysuckle. These aromas are mirrored in the palate that displays richness and texture from wild fermentation and lees aging. With a clean, persistent finish, complemented by some exotic spices…”

Woot! Woot! I’m pretty excited that I had the same descriptor word in my Wino Assessment!! (“Honeysuckle”)  It is a rather strong aroma though – reminds me of the childhood backyard where several honeysuckle plants (or bushes?) grew and filled the air with the same smell as this wine…

The Bite…

So what does one eat with a glass (or bottle) of Viognier?  Well, there are many options.  In general, I’d say this wine is best with food… while I wouldn’t mind drinking it without food, food will definitely bring out the flavors of the wine. This article from the Northwest Palate recommends pairing Viognier with food that “suggests sweetness but are not really sweet”.  What does that mean? Well, they say it means: “Indian or Moroccan cuisines, [and] braised chicken or stuffed trout.”  Other tasty delights that are even tastier with Viognier may include shellfish, pastas, grains, oily nuts, or richer fish and white meats.  Personally, I like Viognier with salmon or any fish, spinach ravioli and other heavy pastas.

If you haven’t tried a Viognier before, I highly recommend this one to start! If you have, then I still recommend this one! If you have tried it, what did you think??

[Source for all Wine Know, unless otherwise stated, is from The Oxford Companion to Wine.]

Divine Wine Sunday: Chateau Petit-Freylon Bordeaux Blanc

It was a big weekend, folks… defined by a long-awaited trip to Costco.  And as some of W2WK followers know, Costco is my favorite place to pick up a few bottles of wine.  (By the way, I just learned that Costco is the largest retailer of wine in the United States!  There’s an extra fun fact for you in the mix of Divine Wine Sunday!)  On this trip, the Costco Wine Guy was setting up a display up at the front of the store (instead of in the back in the standard wine section), as if he was just waiting for me to walk through the large garage door entrances.  We started chatting and he had all kinds of information to share about the special selection of wines he was putting on display.  And one of those fine bottles was a white Bordeaux.

I’m also particularly excited to have found a bottle of Bordeaux to write about this week…  My friend, Ms. Snodgrass, gave me a gift this weekend in a wine bag that said, “WINEAUX” on it.  Ha! Awesome, right?  So for this post, this Wino and all you Winos will be referred to as Wineauxs…

Before we progress too far along this post, I would like to let you all know that Divine Wine Sundays are “under construction”.  This post doesn’t have all the sections of previous Divine Wine Sundays, and it has one new section.  See what you Wineauxs think…

Divine Wine of the Week: Chateau Petit-Freylon Bordeaux Blanc (2010)

Chateau Petit-Freylon Bordeaux Blanc 2010

Price Range: $8.99 at Costco (a steal!)

Wineaux Assessment…

I’ve enjoyed a few white Bordeauxs over the years and have typically enjoyed them… and this one was no different.  It is on the dry side for a fruity white wine, but with lots of crisp fruit flavors.  I definitely taste some apple – maybe even sour apple –  and perhaps even a a little citrus in flavor.  Something about it also reminds me of the lovely smell of orange tree blossoms – that sweet fragrant smell.  But again, all this flavor without the sweet factor- but not too dry either.

The Wine…

White Bordeauxs are made from a few different types of grapes, including Musccadelle, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, and Ugni Blanc.  The Chateau Petit-Freylon uses three of the four – all but the Ugni Blanc.  It is 50% Sauvignon Blanc which typically provides a crisp flavor.  It is also 25% Muscadelle which typically gives wines a light floral character, and 25% Semillon which is a dry grape.  The label describes this wine as:

A Sauvignon Blanc dominated blend from Bordeaux, has aromas of succulent pear and tropical fruit, a punchy, vibrant palate and a crisply-defined finish.

They say “crisply-defined finish” – I think that might be a bit of that sour apple flavor I tasted.  And one of these days, this Wineaux will think to put a word like “succulent” in front of a fruit when describing a wine.  ….some day.

The Bite…

If you’re a Wineaux, you probably have a bit of a Foodie in you as well.  So as W2WK has progressed, I have sensed a stronger need for a discussion about food with the wines.  Enter… The Bite.  In this section, I hope to find out what foods would typically pair well with the respective Divine Wine.

So what, you ask, would a Wineaux pair with a Bordeaux Blanc?  Well, given the “succulent pear” and “crisply-defined finish”, you probably want something more savory and/or creamy to balance it out.  Some good seafood options may include scallops or salmon or sushi (all that soy needs a little something crisp to wash it all down).  It would also go well with alfredo or pesto sauces or a creamy white soup. If you’re a cheese fan (let’s be frank… if you’re not a cheese fan, I’m not sure we can be Wineaux friends)… drink this one with creamier heavier semi-soft cheeses or of the blue cheese types.

Now that I’ve tasted the wine, I kinda wish I had enjoyed it with some fettuccine alfredo… all the sudden, that sounds pretty darn delish.


So Wineauxs (sorry- I couldn’t resist using that one more time after already using it a bit too much in one short post)… there’s both a tid bit on white Bordeaux AND a bit of a new look to Divine Wine Sunday.  Hope you all have a Divine week!!

Divine Wine Sunday: Niner Cabernet Sauvignon

Last weekend, while enjoying a lovely dinner out on the Scottsdale scene (and just before hitting up my favorite dive karaoke bar), I had the pleasure of tasting this week’s Divine Wine. As previously mentioned here on Wino to Wine Know, I visited several of Paso Robles’s wineries last fall and on the list of wineries to visit was Niner.  Several people had suggested Niner as a good stop but I wasn’t able to fit it in among all the others at which I “sipped” vino.  So last week, when my dinner date suggested we order that Niner Cab off the Wildfish wine menu, I gladly agreed!  And much like the many other Paso Robles red wines I’ve tried, I thoroughly enjoyed it…

Before getting too far along, I would like to take a moment to say HAPPY PISCEAN BIRTHDAY to my blogging guru and friend, Miss Dreamer!!  May we try this Divine Wine together some day soon…

Divine Wine of the Week: Niner Cabernet Sauvignon (2007), Niner Winery, Paso Robles, CA

Price Range: $28 from the Winery, $44 at Wildfish, $30-ish for a Niner Winery bottle (Twisted Spur) at Olive & Ivy Marketplace, (have not seen it available at wine shops….yet)

Wino Assessment…

So some of you astute Winos may be thinking, “Wait, what? You went to a seafood restaurant and ordered a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon to go with your fish??”  To  you astute folk, I say, “Yes! Yes, I did.” To the few to none of you who may have no opinion on this, I say, don’t believe all the hype out there that fish can only be paired with white wine.  It isn’t true.  And I don’t know why people believe that red cannot go with fish. But that’ll be a future blog post on Thoroughly Wine Know Thursday some week…

Ok, so back to my assessment of the wine.  From the first sip, I knew I loved this wine… so much so that I wanted to take small sips to ensure it lasted for a while.  (That said, I generally find that big sips allow you to experience the flavor of the vino a bit more.) I’d say it is a medium to full bodied red.  Note that I want to say full-bodied more than medium, but have learned that whenever I think a wine is “full” it seems to be described as a medium-bodied wine by the experts… so I’m learning despite this consistently off instinct on wine verbiage. Now, I was just struggling to find the words that I wanted to use to describe the flavor of this wine, so I just referred back to the Flavors and Aromas list of a previous post, “Let’s Talk About Taste“.  I feel like this wine was woody or earthy to start with perhaps a black cherry type flavor, but had a silky smooth finish.  Essentially… just my kind of wine!  (Fear not… I shall keep expanding my horizons so that I don’t only write up wines like Niner’s Cabs here on this bloggity blog.)

The Grape…

On my last Divine Wine Sunday post, I passed off this section with the note that I had already written about Cabernet Sauvignon grapes on previous posts.  While there are many, many different kinds of grapes out there, I feel  like I’ll run into this “repeat” info on grapes type problem repeatedly. So I’m working on some changes to the content of posts, but for now, will not be repeating info on grapes here on Divine Wine Sunday.  (Stay tuned for blog revisions soon to come!!)

The Wine…

The Niner Winery has a very thorough “fact sheet” on this fine Divine Wine that covers information about the vineyard, the vintage, the winemaking process, and more.  I’ve copied the winery’s tasting notes here:

“This vintage is again classic Cabernet Sauvignon. It has pleasant herbal notes in the nose, along with lavender, dark red and black fruits, some tar and a little smoke. Flavors include cassis and dark cherry, with a hint of herbaceousness. It has a plump mid palate of dried cranberry, nice depth, fine tannins, and a long lasting finish.”

As usual, the winery description of the wine, once I hear it, seems spot on.  “Herbal notes” and “black fruit” and “a little smoke”… I wouldn’t say my description was spot on, but I don’t think it was too far off! (Am I giving myself too much credit??)  Also, when they say, “long lasting finish”, all I can think is, “exactly!  THAT’s what I meant!”  PS: I am going to incorporate “herbasceousness” into my daily vocabulary.

The other fun fact info on the winery’s fact sheet for this wine lists a few suggested food pairings.  While fish isn’t on the list, Cheddar Bacon Burgers are.  And quite frankly, anything that goes with a cheddar bacon burger has got to be a good wine in my book.  (Other suggested food pairings include Italian Roast Beef and Filet Mignon with Gorgonzola Sauce.)

The Region…

Paso Robles is a warmer areas of the Central Coast of California.  It is “sun-baked” and has “oak-studded hills” (The Wine Bible).  Due to the Santa Lucia mountains, the Paso region is blocked from the Pacific’s ocean air influences.  While the nights are cool, the days are hot and dry, which apparently is what grapes like cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, and syrah thrive in.  And it seems that Niner’s Cab is made of grapes that did, indeed, thrive in this climate…

So there it is – the Divine Wine of the Week.  If you try and of Niner’s wines, I’d love to hear about it!

Divine Wine Sunday: Inconceivable Cab

Winos and Wine Knows alike… here it is… the most exciting Divine Wine yet to be presented here on Wino to Wine Know.  (Exciting in my book, anyway.)  A few weeks back, thanks to Action Dave, I learned about The Bottle of Wits – a wine made in honor of the 25th Anniversary of the  glorious movie, The Princess Bride.  And now, thanks to a loyal blog follower and blushing new Wino – we’ll call him “the Karate Kid” – I have had the pleasure of tasting The Bottle of Wits – Inconceivable Cab.  And without a doubt, regardless of what it tasted like, it HAD to be posted for name alone as the Divine Wine of the Week.  (Quick preview: lucky us – it ALSO tasted great!!)

Divine Wine of the Week: The Bottle of Wits, Inconceivable Cab, Cabernet Sauvignon,

The Bottle of Wits, Inconceivable Cab

Price Range: $28 from Alamo Drafthouse (and now available online!)

Note: The Alamo Drafthouse is actually a movie theater.  Their full title is the “Alamo Drafthouse Cinema”, and they celebrate a chosen movie each year via a special bottle/line of wine.  This year, in honor of the 25th anniversary of The Princess Bride, the Alamo Drafthouse bottled The Bottle of Wits. And we Princess Bride fans, who are also Winos, will forever be grateful.

Wino Assessment…

Disclaimer: Normally, I do not read about the wines that I’ve selected for Divine Wine Sunday until after I’ve written my own assessment.  Since I have been pretty darn excited about trying The Bottle of Wits (and because I had already blogged about it – though not as a “Divine Wine”), I felt it necessary to disclose that I did read the description of the bottle before writing my “Wino Assessment”.

That said, did I enjoy The Bottle of Wits Inconceivable Cab? YES!  And yes, you’re right.  I was slightly swayed by the idea of The Bottle of Wits… and then when I saw the packaging, I was swayed even more.  I thought, “there’s no way I won’t like this wine!”  I mean the box itself has lots of PB quotes all over it.  It indicates that the wine is “iocane free” … “most likely”.  How could a PB fan not love that?!

But ok – beyond the awesome packaging (both on the bottle and the box), the wine was very enjoyable!  For me, it was an ideal combination of that Cabernet dryness and a smooth fruit flavored finish.  The wine left your tongue a little chalky, but not so much that you needed a glass of water to accompany your glass of wine.

The Grape…

I have posted on Cabernet Sauvignon here on Wino to Wine Know before.  There is certainly more to say about this wine, but for the purpose of this post, I think it will serve it justice to reference the details of the grape from the previous Cab Sauvignon write-up.

The Wine…

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema included a nice description of their Inconceivable Cab.

“Inconceivable Cab” is a 2009 vintage California Cabernet, with a deep ruby hue. The nose is all black currant with subtle hints of oak. Medium bodied, full of plum and black cherry fruit, balanced by firm acidity and tannins. On the finish, lingering notes of cedar and vanilla dominate. It is complex & intriguing, with no trace of iocane powder.”

For sure, I am happy to know that there was no iocane powder in this wine, for I have not yet built up my tolerance like the Dread Pirate Roberts.  That said, the power of suggestion is strong with me, and I totally agree that there were plum and black cherry flavors.  That and the “lingering notes of cedar…” are certainly accurate descriptions now that I’ve heard it after tasting this delightful red.  (Some day, I’ll be able to construct such elegant sentences to accurately describe vino.)

The Region…

California Cabs are recognized and respected around the world and the state plants about as many of these grapes as the Bordeaux region does.  Apparently, those crazy Californians from Stag’s Leap Winery beat out the Wine Know Frenchies back in 1973 in a blind tasting (funny because I just commented on this wine last week in the Wine Talk Leap Day post per CA Wino’s comment!).  In the late 1980s, California’s vines were hit with phylloxera (vine disease) which forced many parts of the region to replant all together.  But by the late 1980s, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were replanted and in nearly twice the numbers they had been before the pesky vine disease. An interesting Cali Cab fun fact is that Cab grapes from Sonoma County have anise and black olive flavors, while Napa Valley Cab grapes tend to have black fruit flavors.


The Bottle of Wits, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

In conclusion, I gotta say that I’m so glad this Inconceivable Cab is not only something I can and have now conceived, but also a wine that I truly enjoyed!! For the delight of the wine AND the fantastic packaging, I highly recommend ordering it if you’re a Princess Bride fan… or maybe you’ll be as lucky as me and have someone like the Karate Kid be kind enough to pick up a few bottles while visiting the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas.

Divine Wine Sunday: Kung Fu Girl Riesling

Winos – let’s be honest.  A lot of times we pick a wine out at the wine shop not because of the vintage or our Wine Know regarding that region or varietal or anything of the sort.  We pick it because of the label.  And THAT is exactly why I picked up Kung Fu Girl Riesling.

After I got home and looked at the label a little more closely, I realized this wine is made by a winery with which I’m already familiar – Charles Smith Wines. I’ve tried their Boom Boom Shiraz (at La Grande Orange in Phoenix and elsewhere) and their Chateau Smith Cabernet Sauvignon (at Kazimierz in Scottsdale) – the latter being one of my favorite wines, but both I enjoyed immensely.  Ordinarily, I think of Rieslings as overly sweet and – not having a sweet tooth when it comes to wine – I do not usually seek it out.  However, earlier this week, I was talking with Sister Kai (my actual sister, not a nun) who commented on how she enjoys Rieslings… AND I read something about how Rieslings pair with many different types of food.  So I took it as two indicators of needing to study up a bit on Rieslings.  And when I came across one from a winery that I knew I liked, it just seemed that the stars had aligned.

Diving Wine of the Week: Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Charles Smith Wines, Columbia Valley, Washington

Kung Fu Girl Riesling, Charles Smith Wines, Columbia Valley, WA

Price Range: $9.99 at Sunflower Market and other grocery stores, $12.00 from Charles Smith Wines

Wino Assessment…

I approach Rieslings with a bit of an attitude to start – primarily because of that presumed sweetness factor that I previously mentioned.  But if I had to guess what Kung Fu Girl was on a blind taste test, I probably would have guessed a Pinot Grigio.  The wine had flavors of apples and peaches or apricots and was very light and delicious.  Cousin K enjoyed the bottle with me and she has a similar feeling regarding Rieslings.  But for the sake of the blog, she went with it, and we both were pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the wine was. Overall, it was light and easy to drink – it was sweet, but not sugary sweet – it was appley sweet… which was lovely.

The Grape…

Riesling grapes originate in Germany and have “been arguably the world’s most undervalued” grape. (The Oxford Companion to Wine) What makes the Riesling grape so impressive is its ability to not lose its unique style as a wine while allowing a winery to place its own characteristics on the end product.  The Riesling vine itself is extremely “cold-hardy” meaning it can withstand colder temperatures than most vines – convenient in its home (cold) region of Germany.  The difficult growing conditions in which Riesling grapes ripen results in the acid-sugar balance that is so uniquely Riesling-esque.  (The Wine Avenger)

The Wine…

According to The Wine Avenger, “no grape, white or red, goes better with more foods than Riesling.”  I was pretty surprised to read that as I would never have paired a Riesling with any food, quite frankly.  But The Wine Avenger also notes that Riesling is the most misunderstood wine.  The alcohol levels in Rieslings are below average, and the wines can range from dry to “opulently sweet”. (The Wine Avenger)  In fact, most Rieslings are around 8% alcohol content compared to about 13% for Chardonnays.  Depending on the wine-making process, most Rieslings are busting with flavor due to their “high acidity, high extract, and low alcohol levels”. (The Wine Bible)

As stated, I always associate these wines with über-sweetness, but Kung Fu Girl – while sweet in a fruity way – was not über-sweet.  (Do you like my use of a German word in the post about wine originating from the Germanic regions!?!).  I would indeed go and get another bottle of this wine to enjoy it on multiple occasions.

In general, Riesling typically has flavors of ripe peaches, apricots, and melons, and sometimes a mineral-like quality (The Wine Bible).  But what does Charles Smith have to say about Kung Fu Girl?

“A long cool awesome vintage. Heightened minerality. White stone fruit, you know, apricot, nectarine, peach also satsuma and lime leaves. This girl is kickass as ever! We love Riesling from Evergreen Vineyard in The Ancient Lakes area of the Columbia Valley AVA.”

90pts Wine Spectator

“Vivid, distinctive and immensely appealing for its juicy Winesap apple, apricot and citrus flavors, finishing with zing to balance the sweetness.”

Ummm… I’d just like to remind you Winos that I always write my assessment before looking up what the winery or world-wide-web says about a wine that I’m blogging about.  And can I just say that apples, apricots, and peaches were ALL in my description!?! (Having a proud moment here…)

The Region…

Riesling’s home is Germany and is very popular in Austria and Alsace (which is the French side of the Franco-German border).  But Kung Fu Girl comes from Columbia Valley in Washington State.  This state is known for its “bright fruit and relatively crisp acidity” in wines (The Oxford Companion to Wine).  White grapes are the most commonly planted grapes in the state, and Rieslings in particular do especially well.  The region in general prides itself on high value wines for less than high dollar (something most of us Winos appreciate).


I especially hope you all give this wine a try as it was surprisingly delicious in my humble Wino opinion (for Ms. Snodgrass, that abbreviation is IMHWO).  If you do, let me know what you think!


[Source for all Wine Know, unless otherwise stated, is The Oxford Companion to Wine.]


Divine Wine Sunday: Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages

Everyone needs a “go-to” wine… one that is enjoyable with or without a meal… one that you can bet you’ll find in most stores that sell wine… and one that isn’t going to wreck your budget.  This week’s Divine Wine is one that I’ve enjoyed a number of times for the reasons listed above.  Most recently, I sipped on it a few days ago to make sure it was fresh in my mind for today’s post.  So, for a go-to wine, may I suggest….

Divine Wine of the Week: Beaujolais Villages, Maison Louis Jadot Winery, Burgundy, France

Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages

Price Range: $8-12 in most stores (in Arizona), $8.47 at Total Wine, available in most grocery stores as well as Costco.

Wino Assessment…

I would describe this lovely bottle as a light-bodied red that is a little watery, but I don’t mean that in a bad way…  More in a way that just makes it easy to drink.  It is fruity – strawberries come to mind.  But it isn’t overly sweet.  It’s almost like having a cup of juice (the alcohol free kind) and this Wino has to be careful not to take too many sips too quickly.  I usually buy this one in multiples because it is nice to enjoy on Saturday afternoon or on Tuesday evening.

The Grape…

French wines are known by their regions whereas most other wines of the world (though not all) are known in name by their grape(s).  So a Beaujolais wine indicates it is from the vineyards in Beaujolais which is located in the southern region of Burgundy, France. Beaujolais wines are made from the gamay grape, which is a soft, fruity, purple grape.  The Wine Bible describe gamay as follows:

“Gamay’s flavors are virtually unmistakable: a rush of sweet black cherry and black raspberry, then a hint of peaches, violets, and roses, followed by a smidgen of peppery spiciness at the end.”

Coffee Talk Interlude: Note there is a red wine known in California and referred to as a gamay Beaujolais that is neither made from the gamay grape nor is it related to Beaujolais.  It is a pinot noir clone.  Discuss amongst yourselves….

The Wine…

“Beaujolais has been called the only white wine that happens to be red.”  (The Wine Bible)  Oh my gosh, this line describes this wine so perfectly to me!! Something about this noticeably red wine is so distinguishably white.  So to all you white wine Winos out there, give this red a try!  (And here I was feeling bad that I was being unfair to white wines given the quantity of reds I’ve blogged about vs whites on Divine Wine Sunday… I feel better now.)

The grape description above translates into the flavors one will taste in a Beaujolais wine, which is what makes it so enjoyable and easy to drink.  While the flavor of the grape plays a huge role in the outcome of htis wine, it is also obtains some of its character via the “carbonic maceration” process.  That means that whole grapes (in clusters) are put into a fermenting tank and the fermentation takes place inside each grape.  It then rests in the tanks for 5-9 months and then is bottled and sold.  This carbonic maceration process can be used for any grapes, but apparently is best with super fruity grapes, like gamay.

What does Maison Louis Jadot (the winemaker) say about this wine?

Strong red purple colour. Fresh red fruits on the nose with a hint of dark cherry. Slightly spicy with a touch of grey pepper, liquorice and a touch of rose flower. The whole wine is very well balanced with a nice acidity and the tannins presence on the finish invites food pairing such as with Terrines, Charcuteries, Grilled red meat, white fish, cheese or simply as the sole wine of a meal.

!ALERT!: New phrase added to Wino’s favorite phrases list (which doesn’t yet exist, but it will): “Sole wine of a meal.”

Ok, so I’m a bit thrown off by the “spicy” description (made both by the general description of gamay and Beaujolais from The Wine Bible as well as from the winemaker’s website).  I will have to try this wine again with new taste buds to see if I can find the “spiciness”.  But I clearly agree with the “sole wine of a meal” comment!

The Region…

As noted above, Beaujolais is in southern Burgundy stretching 35 miles long and 9 miles wide with 96 villages total.  There are three categories of Beaujolais: (1) Beaujolais, (2) Beaujolais-Villages, (3) Beaujolais Cru.  (The latter being the highest quality.)  So all wines from this area are identified as one of these three categories.  Wine categorized as Beaujolais-Villages comes from one of 39 villages in the middle of the Beaujolais region and is often a blend of grapes from a few of the said villages.  In contrast, plain ol’ Beaujolais is made from “less distinguished” vineyards in the southern part of the Beaujolais region, and Beaujolais Cru is made from the 10 most distinguished villages.  (I smell future blog post diving into this topic a bit more.)

Tidbit extra of Wine Know: Beaujolais Nouveau is different than the Beaujolais wines… (another future blog post)… but don’t get it confused, Winos!

So hopefully you Wine Know a little more about Beaujolais in general.  If you run out to buy a bottle of Louis Jadot’s Beaujolais Villages, let me know what you think!


[Source for all Wine Know in this post is, unless otherwise stated, from: The Wine Bible.]

Divine Wine Sunday: Norton Malbec Reserva

Yes, yes.  I know that the category of these posts are “Diving Wine Sunday” and that I keep ending up with “Divine Wine Monday“, but I’m going to keep aiming to get these posts out on Sunday….  until then, I hope you all find Mondays just as valuable to learn about Divine Wine!

I thought it was about time to post a Divine Wine that one can get just about anywhere. I’ve tried this one a number of times, but most recently after a long, busy day and – as weird as it sounds to say this about a bottle of wine – it really “hit the spot“!

Divine Wine of the Week: Norton Malbec Reserva 2008, Bodega Norton Winery, Mendoza, Argentina

Norton Reserva Malbec 2008

Price Range: $13.99 at Costco, $11-15 at most Grocery Stores

Wino Assessment…

I have found this wine consistently pleasant to drink.  I would say this is a medium-bodied red that may have flavors in the “Herbs and Spices” type category (as discussed in “Lets Talk About Wine, Part I“), but it has a nice finish – there is no “bite” or tartness.  Quite frankly, it goes down easy!  I prefer to let it “breathe” (or to decant it) for about 20 minutes before drinking (though this doesn’t always happen for this eager Wino).  When I don’t have time to run to a proper wine store, the Norton Malbec is a standard purchase for me at the grocery (or, of course, at Costco).

The Grape…

Malbec is a black grape and has become heavily associated with Argentinian wines.  It is also grown in France, where it is referred to as the “Cot” grape.  Cot is the dominant grape in the Cahors region in southwest France but has been planted less and less over the years.  Malbec grapes typically make up less than 10% of French blends, whereas Argentinian wines often use 100% Malbec (or majority Malbec) in many wines. Malbec-grown grapes tend to be more “ripe and lush” in comparison to French grown Malbec, which may explain the difference in popularity between wines made of the same grape but from different regions of the world. (The Oxford Companion to Wine)

The Wine…

Argentinian Malbecs “can make wines of surprising grip, depth, and velvety texture”. (The Wine Bible) [Wino Note:…I think that wine glossary is really in need… I’m not sure what “grip” really means when describing a wine.]  The Wine Bible highlights this wine in particular and says,

“Among all of Argentina’s moderate to low-priced wines, those of Bodega Norton stand out for being consistently satisfying.  Though simple and rustic, the malbec is full of flavor of juicy red berries and aromas that suggest smoked meats.”

I think “rustic” really does fit in this description.  I’m not sure I can yet articulate synonyms for “rustic” but if you try it, I think you’ll understand!

If you have ever dined at any Argentinian restaurant, you know that meats are a staple in the Argentinian diet.  In fact, Argentina has the highest beef consumption in the world at 103 pounds per person in a year.  Wowsers! (To compare, the U.S. ranks third highest with 69 pounds per person per year.) Anyway, with all that steak, one must have a sturdy wine to accompany it.  And which wine do you think Argentinians prefer?  Malbec! 

The Region…

Here’s an interesting fun fact… Argentina’s wine region is located in the west central part the country which maintains an elevation of up to 4,900 feet.  And guess what, Winos… that is unusual! This is some of the world’s highest altitude for grape growing.  (If you’re wondering whether or not Chile is a close second, it is not.  Chile’s wine region is on the coast and much lower in elevation. )  Argentina’s wine region is “semidesert-like” with nearly 320 of sun per year with little rainfall. What difference does this make? Well, the dry air helps the vines avoid diseases – a definite benefit.  However, with all that dryness, grape growers have to rely on irrigation to maintain the vines.  And, instead of steadily watering the vines, Argentina’s irrigation system has been used to flood the vines, which results in lots of grapes. This was more common in the 1970s, but since then the “watering” of the vines is not longer quite so excessive.


So now we all Wine Know a little more about Malbecs of Argentina.  Consider checking out this very reasonably priced red wine that is readily available all over the place.  …And let the rest of us Winos know what you think!


[All Wine Know – and beef consumption stats – are from The Wine Bible.]