Cabernet Day Wrap-Up!

While I didn’t have a full evening to celebrate #CabernetDay (I was stuck sitting in an accounting class!), I did uncork two bottles over the course of the night.  I went with two Cabernets at complete different price points and decided that BOTH wines are great VALUES.  Here are the tasting notes for each wine.

Jordan 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon

I definitely set myself up for a good night as Jordan has consistently been one of my favorite, moderately priced Cabernets.   The nose has a bouquet of cassis with a hint of oak.  The palate features sophisticated flavors of plum, blackberry, pepper, and a touch of vanilla.  The tannins are round and the finish is lengthy.  Jordan’s 2007 Cabernet is lighter and more elegant than a lot of other Cabernets from the region.  I honestly think that for $45, this is a hard wine to beat.  I have tasted it against California Cabs that cost twice as much and Jordan often upsets the higher priced competitors.  (A-, 13.5%)

Columbia Crest H3 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a great, everyday Cabernet from Washington state.  Aromas of toasted oak, cherries, and tobacco lead into an earthy palate with tastes of dark berries, caramel, and vanilla.  This straight-forward wine delivers in price ($12-14) and flavor.  Grab a bottle and enjoy any day of the week!  (B+, 14.5%)

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Mini-Review – Herencia Altés 2011 Garnacha Blanca

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my tasty experience with Herencia Altés 2011 Garnacha Negra.  I enjoyed the wine so much I decided to pick up a bottle of Herencia Altés 2011 Garnacha Blanca.  To my delight, this bottle delivered just as much value and flavor.

The nose has abundant aromas of tropical fruit and wildflowers and the palate is refreshing and bright.  Flavors of lychee, oranges, and sweet peaches tingle in your mouth.  The vibrant flavors fade slowly in the lengthy finish.  I definitely recommend giving this juicy, balanced wine a try!  Pair with crab cakes, seafood paella, or veggie tacos.  or  (B+, $12, 12.95%)

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Mini-Review- Rigal “The Original” Malbec 2010

Malbec from France?  Well, actually Malbec originates from France (not from Argentina as many think) and has traditionally been blended with other varietals.  Recently, it seems as though I have been seeing a few 100% Malbec wines from France on the shelves of local wine stores.  Over the weekend I uncorked a bottle of Rigal “The Original” Malbec 2010.  After the first sip, I realized that it was remarkably different from most of the Argentinean Malbec I have tried. 

The wine is much lighter and more elegant than the Malbec generally produced in Argentina.  An overall earthy palate with tastes of raspberries, strawberries, plums, and a hint of spice.  A straight-forward, easy sipping wine.  I would suggest chilling slightly before pouring and keeping an open mind because this is not the Malbec you were probably expecting!  (B-, $10, 13%)

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Get a Head Start on Labor Day Weekend Wine and Food Pairings!

Grilling is an essential part of Labor Day weekend and I want to make sure the wine pairings don’t cause any stress for next weekend’s festivities!  Here are a few relatively inexpensive wine pairing suggestions for some of the most popular grilled fare!

Hot Dogs

Don’t let such a simple food throw you off when you are at the wine store.  Grab a bottle of Rosé to pair with hot dogs, veggie dogs, and sausages.  It is a great combo and will elevate even the humblest of hot dogs!  Try a bottle of 2011 Vin Gris de Cigare from Bonny Doon and the flavors of strawberries, watermelon, and citrus will win you over! ($14)


What you top your burger with will definitely determine which wine matches best with your meal but I am going to give a general suggestion that should work well for most burgers…Zinfandel!  Try a bottle of Ottimino Zinfinity.  The smooth, spicy palate really brings out the flavors of a juicy burger and won’t hurt your wallet! ($14)

Grilled Chicken

Grenache is one of my favorite wines and pairing it with grilled chicken is a definitely home run.  If you can find a bottle of Herencia Altés 2011 Garnacha Negra, you won’t be sorry!  The juicy red berries and spice will pair well with your chicken whether it is simply grilled or lathered with BBQ sauce! ($9)

Grilled Fish

When grilling fish, you will find that a bright, tropical Sauvignon Blanc will enhance your meal.  Dashwood 2011 Sauvignon Blanc definitely delivers at a very fair price.  Crisp, refreshing tastes of tropical fruit, grapefruit, and lemon are sure to complement your seafood fare as well as a warm day!  ($12)

Of course there are many other foods you can grill along with plenty of outstanding wine pairings but I hope these basic suggestions help!  Most of all, relax, have fun with your friends and family, and enjoy the wine and good food!  Cheers!


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Simply Italian! 2010 Vallevò Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

I am a big fan of Italian wines that are casual and food friendly. Vallevò Montepulciano d’Abruzzo definitely fits this category.  It is an easy sipper harmonious with the most humble (and delicious) of Italian dishes.

About the Wine- From the Winery

2010 Vallevò Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is 100% Montepulciano from the Abruzzo region of central Italy.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for around $9.  For more information visit

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

This Montepulciano pours a deep plum color in the glass.  Aromas of plum, red berries, and spice fill the nose.  This medium-bodied wine has a smooth palate with tastes of cherries, plum, and licorice.  A simple Italian wine that is terrific for the price!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pair with eggplant parmigiana, pasta with red sauce, or grilled chicken.

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Mini-Review – Chateau De Nages 2010 Réserve Red Rhone Wine

While I was exploring the new Total Wine & More in Laguna Hills, I found myself in the Rhone section (this was probably not a coincidence 🙂 ).  I picked up a bottle of Chateau De Nages 2010 Réserve Red Rhone Wine for $8.99.  It is a Rhone blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Syrah from the Costiéres De Nîmes appellation of France.

It pours an intense violet color in the glass.  Aromas of dark berries and anise are supported with lush tastes of dark fruit, black pepper, and leather.  A juicy, indulgent wine with a spicy finish that lingers long after each sip.  A great value from one of my favorite regions! (B+, 14%)

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Thirsty Girl Taste With Erath Winery!

On Wednesday night, I participated in a live tasting on Twitter with Thirsty Girl.  We received a bottle of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir from Oregon’s Erath Winery for the tasting.  Erath Winery is located in the Dundee Hills of Oregon and they have been making wine for over 40 years.  They are known for their incredible Pinot Noir and I was super excited to have the chance to taste a couple of their wines.  Here are my tasting notes from this fun event:

Erath Winery 2011 Oregon Pinot Gris

Pale gold in the glass with fresh aromas of citrus and pear.  The palate is very refreshing.  There are vibrant flavors of lemon, lime, pineapple, and green apple.  A perfect summer sipper!  Pair with seafood or Asian dishes. (B+, 13%, $14)

Erath Winery 2010 Oregon Pinot Noir

Pours a brilliant ruby color with aromas of red berries and a hint of earthiness.  Flavors of tart berries and spice mingle in this light bodied Pinot Noir.  The approachability of this wine ensures you won’t have leftovers for the next day!  Pair with salmon or pizza topped with goat cheese and mushrooms.  (B, 13%, $19)

*Media Samples

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Total Wine & More Blogger Event!

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be one of the first people to explore the new Total Wine & More, which opens today in Laguna Hills off of El Toro Road.  I was among a group of excited wine and beer bloggers who had the chance to take a tour through the store and taste through some of their wine and beer.  I haven’t been to a Total Wine in a while (I think the last one I visited was in Atlanta), so I was pretty stoked to see what they had to offer.

We started with a tour through their vast selection of wines.  I was very impressed with the selection of interesting wines they had to offer for being such a large outfit.  They have wines from all over the world from both large and small producers (think France, Italy, Portugal, Greece, California, etc.).  Their prices are super competitive, which definitely makes the store even more enticing. 

One of Total Wine’s endless aisles of wine.

Throughout the wine section, you will find iPads with an application that helps with wine and food pairings.  I thought this was an innovative idea which will hopefully make wine pairings a little less intimidating.  We rounded out the tour of the wine section with a tasting of Cakebread Chardonnay and Cabernet.  They have a great tasting area in which they will be offering tastings of wine and beer for a nominal fee. 

Food and wine pairing help from Total Wine’s iPad stations.
Tasting Cakebread’s latest releases!

After the wine tour, we wandered through the incredibly organized beer selection.  I was so impressed with their offering of craft beers…I am pretty sure it surpasses every other store around.  We then gathered in Total Wine’s “classroom” (where they will be offering classes on wine, beer, and liquor topics) and tasted through 10 craft beers.  We had a great selection to taste, including IPAs, a sour Belgium ale, and even a bacon maple ale.  You can find beer from breweries such as Stone, The Bruery, and Kern River. 

Getting ready for our beer tasting in Total Wine’s classroom.

Overall, I was really impressed with Total Wine & More’s new location.  If you are in OC and want to shop a large selection of beer, wine, and liquor at great prices, you might just want to stop in.  Cheers!

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Mini-Review – Herencia Altés 2011 Garnacha Negra

Want a rich, delicious wine that will satisfy your palate and your wallet?  If so, you may want to read on!  Herencia Altés 2011 Garnacha Negra is 100% Garnacha from the Terra Alta region of Spain.  Although it is young, it is totally approachable and ready to be sipped. 

This dark garnet, mouth-staining wine has aromas of red cherries, cocoa, and minerals.  The palate is juicy and rich.  There are indulgent, sweet tastes of red berries, cherries, anise, and pepper with silky tannins.  A terrific value and a very tasty wine!  Pair with grilled meats or dark chocolate. (B+, $12, 14%)

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Trader Joe’s Wine Pick for August 2012- Alamos 2011 Malbec

This month’s Trader Joe’s wine pick is a Malbec from Alamos.  Alamos has consistently been producing good Malbec for very reasonable prices.  Their 2011 is no exception.  It is a rich, flavorful wine perfect for summer BBQs!

About the Wine- From the Winery

Alamos 2011 Malbec is from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for $8.99 at Trader Joe’s.  For more information visit

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Alamos Malbec pours a deep purple color with hues of garnet.  A medley of aromas that include cedar, plums, cherries, and vanilla fill the nose of the wine.  The palate is rich and juicy with tastes of black fruit, cedar, and pepper.  While this Malbec isn’t complex or elegant, if offers vibrant flavors that are sure to please a crowd.  A great find for under $10!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pairs well with burgers, barbecue ribs, or vegetarian chili.

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