Jacob’s Creek 2008 Reserve Barossa Shiraz- An Easy Everyday Sipper

Over the next week, I am going to be diving into the Jacob’s Creek brand of wines.  Jacob’s Creek began its long history in 1847 and was the first commercial vineyard planted in Australia’s Barossa Valley.  Over the years, they have grown into one of Australia’s largest producers and are known for offering approachable, value-driven wines.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Jacob’s Creek 2008 Reserve Barossa Shiraz is from the Barossa region of Australia.  It has 14.5% alcohol and retails for around $13.  For more information visit www.jacobscreek.us.

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

This Shiraz pours a blackish purple in the glass and has attractive aromas of spicy dark fruit and sweet oak.  The palate is smooth and fruity with tastes of plum, jammy blackberries, oak, and vanilla.  There is a hint of pepper on the medium finish.  Jacob’s Creek Shiraz is a pretty straight forward wine.  Not a lot of complexity but a nice value and an easy, everyday sipper.

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair this Shiraz with a grilled steak, bison burger, or roasted duck.

*This wine was sent to me as a media sample


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Professing My Love For Pinterest!

I just wanted to let you guys know that I am now on Pinterest.  It is such and awesome site and the perfect place to find amazing wines and recipes.  You can follow me at http://pinterest.com/wineandgoodfood/ and keep up with all of my latest wine reviews.  Hope everyone has a weekend full of wine and good food!



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Mini-Review- 2009 El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa Old Vine Garnacha

I have been on a roll with finding delicious, well-priced bottles of Garnacha lately and uncorking a bottle of El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa Old Vine Garnacha was no exception to my recent successes.  This Garnacha comes from the Navarra region of Spain and the producer is known for making great Spanish wines at affordable, everyday drinking prices. 

The wine pours a bright ruby in the glass.  Decanting for around an hour definitely lets the aromas and flavors open up.  The nose has scents of raspberry, strawberry, and dark chocolate. At first sip, you get full flavors of dark cherry, raspberry, and blackberry.  Lively acidity invigorates your mouth as tastes of dark chocolate and black pepper develop.  A really dynamic Garnacha for the price! Pair with carnitas tortas. (B+, 14% alcohol, $12)

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Smooth, Suave, and Sexy- Coto De Hayas 2009 Garnacha Centenaria

If you know me at all, you know one of my favorite varietals is Grenache/Garnacha.  And not the whimper versions…give me rich, dark fruit with a lot of personality and I will be a happy camper.  I don’t mind paying a few extra bucks for a good bottle but I am always excited when I find one that is well priced.  Last week, I was at Hi-Time Wine Cellars chatting with one of their staff members about good Garnacha and she pulled out a bottle that she thought offered a lot of value for the price.  She was right on…

About the Wine- From the Winery

2009 Garnacha Centenaria is 100% Grenache from the Catalunya region of Spain.  It has 14% alcohol and retails for around $14.  For more information visit the importer at www.antalava.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

This Garnacha is a deep garnet in the glass.  The nose is rich with intense aromas of blackberries, plum, and spices.  On the palate, it is bursting with personality.  Full bodied with round tannins, dark berries, and dark chocolate.  Give it an hour in the decanter and it really opens up.  The wine finishes with spicy black pepper and hints of dark chocolate.  Smooth, suave, and sexy…this is a Garnacha I will be drinking again!

My Wine Rating- A-

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair with chicken shawarma, braised lamb, or tamarind spiced ribs.

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Trader Joe’s Wine Review- Smoking Loon 2010 Syrah

It has been a while since I picked out a new bottle to try from Trader Joe’s but last week I decided to buy something new from Smoking Loon.  Smoking Loon has always seemed to produce nice, everyday wines for the price so I was intrigued when I noticed TJ’s had ushered in the 2010 Syrah.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Smoking Loon 2010 Syrah is from a variety of regions in California.  It has 13.9% alcohol and retails from $6.99-7.99 in Trader Joe’s (depending on the region).  For more information visit www.donandsons.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Smoking Loon Syrah pours a plum color in the glass.  The nose has aromas of strawberries, cocoa, and herbs.  The palate is simple with jammy blackberries and strawberries along with notes of milk chocolate.  The finish is a bit herby with lingering sage.  Overall, this is a nice wine for the price.  It’s not complex and definitely doesn’t have layers of flavor but, for around $7, I feel like you get more than you pay for.  Not as good as the 2008 0r 2009 but still a good value!

My Wine Rating- B-

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair with a pizza with mushrooms and bell peppers, lamb kebabs, or a burger with bacon and mushrooms

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Mini-Review- Williamson Wines 2006 Heritage Shiraz

I knew it was going to be a good night when dinner came out of the oven.  Braised short ribs with spinach and crème fraîche…I am drooling just thinking about it.  The wine of the evening was Williamson Wines 2006 Heritage Shiraz.  I had not heard of Williamson Wines before I received this bottle but it came from a friend who had a great tasting experience at their winery in Sonoma.

The wine pours a dark plum in the glass.  Rich aromas of blackberries, cherries, and vanilla are very inviting.  After decanting for around an hour, the wine has intense flavors of dark berries with silky tannins.  This Shiraz is voluptuous with a smooth finish of black pepper and lingering vanilla.  Very elegant for a Shiraz.  Pair with rack of lamb or short ribs.  (A-, 14.6% alcohol, $47)


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Wine and Good Food…A Match Made in Heaven

I love drinking a glass of wine all by itself but I truly believe wine goes better with food.  The right wine pairing will enhance the flavors of the food and elevate your dish.  Nothing excites me more than finding a new and extraordinary combination…my eyes light up and I want to tell everyone around me (total wine geek moment).  The question I get the most from people is how are they supposed to know what wines pair with which foods.  Here are a few tips I often give:

Use Common Sense:  Don’t match big flavors with delicate flavors.  A spicy, heavy red is going to overpower a delicate piece of seafood just as a soft white wine is going to be overpowered by a spice-rubbed New York Strip.

Educate Yourself:  There is so much information available online, in books, and in monthly wine publications.  Read up and use the advice to get a foundation as to the basics of wine and food pairings.

Practice Makes Perfect:  Sure you will have some pairings that aren’t so spectacular but you will also find some great and unexpected pairings too.  Have fun and trust your palate…you will know when the flavors unite and complement each other.

And a Couple of My Current Favorites:

Off-dry Riesling and sushi is definitely one pairing I can’t get enough of lately.  The mouth-watering acidity and fresh flavors of the Riesling complement the sushi without having a sweetness that overpowers the meal.

The second fantastic pairing I have been enjoying is black truffles and Burgundy….the older the Burgundy the better.  The earthiness of both the truffles and the wine are so good together.

I hope these suggestions give you a little help with your pairings.  Most of all remember that wine and food are meant to be enjoyed, not over thought and picked apart.  Have fun with it…cheers!

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Columbia Crest Horse Heaven Hills (H3) 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

 A few weeks ago, I was perusing the aisles of a local wine store and came across Columbia Crest’s H3 Cabernet from Washington.  Over the last few years, I have had the chance to try many wines from Washington.  I feel that, overall, the wines from the region deliver a lot of value for the price.  I really love wine from California (and buy them on a weekly basis), but when it comes to the state that offers the most value, I think Washington easily takes the title.  Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet is no exception.   

About the Wine- From the Winery

Columbia Crest H3 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 88% Cabernet, 7% Merlot, 3% Syrah, and 2% Malbec from the Columbia Valley region of Washington.  It has 14.5% alcohol and retails for $10.  For more information visit www.columbiacrest.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

This Cabernet pours a deep garnet in the glass.  Rich aromas of cherry, plum, and coffee make me want to dive in to take a sip.  The palate has round flavors of blackberry, plum, and black cherry surrounded by soft tannins.  Mineral and dark chocolate tastes linger in the finish.  Such a sophisticated Cabernet for the price…skip buying a bottle and grab a case!

My Wine Rating- B+ (A- for value)

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair with short ribs, herb-roasted rack of lamb, or dark chocolate

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Aging Gracefully- McClean Vineyards 2005 Syrah

I have been on a roll with wine from the Paso Robles region lately.  The bottle I uncorked last weekend from McClean Vineyards was no exception.  McClean Vineyards is a family run winery in Templeton.  The winemaker Michael, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, focuses on making Syrah and seems to be doing a pretty good job at it. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

McClean Vineyards 2005 Syrah is 100% Syrah from Paso Robles.  It has 14.5% alcohol and retails for $40.  For more information see www.mccleanvineyard.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

McClean Vineyards 2005 Syrah has rich aromas of blackberry, tobacco, raspberry and a hint of smoke  Plum, blackberries, and dark cherries are combined with tastes of tobacco and a bit of sweet oak making for a nicely complex palate.  This wine has aged gracefully and is definitely worthy of being uncorked.  A perfect companion for grilled meats!

My Wine Rating- B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- Grilled sirloin, rack of lamb, or pork chops

*This wine was sent to me as a media sample


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Mini-Review – Nipozzano Chianti Reserva 2008

There is not much that I find more enjoyable than a perfectly cooked Italian meal along with a stellar bottle of Italian wine.  A few weeks ago, I made homemade linguine and opened a bottle of Nipozzano Chianti Reserva 2008.

This Italian wine is an intense reddish-plum color in the glass.  Aromas of cherry, cocoa, and plum pleasantly mingle together.  The wine tastes of juicy plums, cherries, black pepper, and dark chocolate.  The rich flavors continue in the long, silky finish.  A great value for a classic Chianti.  Grab a bottle, cook something fun, and enjoy over the weekend!

(A-, $24, 13.5% alcohol)

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