Talk Nerdy To Me

Posted on by Chip McLaughlin in Theme Wines | Leave a comment
Substance wines

Wines of Substance

Being a founding member of a Seattle based wine group titled “Cork Dorks,” it should come as no surprise that I have fallen in love with a brand that talks nerdy to me.

Wines of Substance is a Washington winery stationed in the south sector of Walla Walla.  With branding based off of the periodic table and packaging that is geek sheik, this is surely a brand that all nerds, geeks and dweebs can get behind.

Beyond the alluring packaging and savvy branding concept, Substance makes some killer juice with a not-so-wallet-killing pricing structure, (whites range between $15 and $18 while reds range between $18 and $20).  With a dozen varietals to chose from, it would be easy for any wine lover to find something that they would surely enjoy.

Today’s pick is a two-for-one.  With the beginning of autumn, I would like to have one last hurrah for a summer favorite of mine: Sauvignon Blanc.  The Substance Sauvignon Blanc, (Sb) from years’ past have always been something that I have enjoyed, but I can honestly say that I was blown away with the 2010.  In the past, the Sb was very New Zealand-esque, but with the 2010, the crew from Substance clearly ripped a page from the book of Sancerre.  I love Sancerre style Sauvignon Blanc, so one can only imagine the excitement that came over me when I found something similar from my home state.  With stunning aromas of lemon zest, lemon grass and fresh cut grass, I couldn’t believe that this wasn’t Sancerre.  The flavors on the palate surely don’t disappoint either; fresh citrus, stone fruit, screaming acid and stoney minerality, the Substance Sb is definitely one of my favorite white wines from 2010.

Now, onto part two of our double feature.

Realizing that all good things must come to an end, I am embracing the autumn season with arms wide open.  When I think of early autumn wines, I think of red wines with great acidity that aren’t too heavy or over extracted.  Substance Counoise (Co), enter stage left.  I will admit that I love obscurity in most aspects of my life, and the same definitely stands true with wine.  Counoise is a grape that many may not be familiar with, so let’s have a quick little history lesson, (there may or may not be test at the end of this post, so be sure to pay close attention).

Counoise is a dark skinned grape grown primarily in the Rhône Valley region of France.  Although it is primarily used in blending to add notes of pepper and to bolster acidity, it can definitely make for a fun wine by itself.

The 2009 Co is a great example of what Counoise can do on its own.  Being harvested from the Forgotten Hills Vineyard within the Walla Walla AVA, one familiar with the site can expect some serious terroir funk.  Aromatically, this wine is expressive, inviting and bright.  Right away, you will smell bing cherry, peppercorn and wet cobblestone.  On the palate, the Co dances around beautifully with great acidity and flavors of cherry cola, iodine and white pepper.  This wine is definitely going to be different from much that you have had in the past, but it is well worth the exploration.

Fear not, there is no test.  However, I employ all of you to head to your nearest wine shop and ask about Wines of Substance.

Live long and prosper!

Great Wines for Halloween – Not so scary!

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Theme Wines | 7 Comments
Casillero del Diablo Wines

Casillero del Diablo Wines

[Editor's note: This Halloween post is an updated version of last year's Halloween post]

It may seem early to be talking about Halloween, but if I had to guess, a fair number of you are planning your costumes already. If you’re planning your costume this far in advance, why not bring the perfect accoutrement to your Halloween parties this year?

Whether you’ll be a guest or a host(ess),  you can make a great impression by bringing Halloween-styled wines. Here’s a fun selection of wines for you to choose from to make your Halloween spookarific, and some information for the serious wine-drinkers, too.

Oh, and since this blog focuses on bringing you value in your wine, we suggest you order now to avoid paying Halloween premium mark-ups on these wineries and labels that are just begging to make an appearance at your Halloween party and fit right into your Halloween decor.

Vampire Wines

Vampires are all the rage right now and this winery’s name was either prescient, or they’re just really into it. Located in Paso Robles, California, this winery is bottling wines under three spooktacular labels. They’re producing a variety of wines including:

  • Vampire Merlot, $10.95 per bottle
    Tasting notes: Aged with a combination of both French and American oak, our Merlot develops graceful fruit flavors in the cellar, complemented by subtle shadings of vanilla and toast from the oak. At the completion of the aging process, this Merlot was carefully blended with 8% Cabernet Sauvignon for added depth and structure, as well as 8% Zinfandel, which adds a spicy note on the palate. Approachable now, Vampire Merlot is perfectly balanced for additional bottle aging.
  • Vampire Cabernet Sauvignon, $10.95 per bottle
    Tasting notes: Judiciously blended with small amounts of Merlot for softness, and Syrah for added structure, our Cabernet displays ripe flavor character and a lovely aroma that will continue to develop with additional time in bottle. Ideal for grilled steaks and chops, or with rich red pasta dishes, our Cabernet Sauvignon is well-suited for the table, and is a wonderful complement to any fine meal.
  • Vampire Pinot Noir, $10.95 per bottle Vin d’Pays DOC
  • Vampire Pinot Grigio, $9.95 per bottle
    Tasting notes: Its fresh lime fruit aroma leads into an easy-drinking lively wine full of youthful, refreshing acidity. This wine is well suited to a wide range of food, especially pasta dishes with white sauces, seafood, salads and Asian cuisine (such as Thai style chicken with coriander and lime). It is also wonderful on its own. Sip the Blood of the Vine and Enjoy!
  • Vampire Chardonnay, $9.95 per bottle
    Tasting notes: Crisp and refreshing, our Chardonnay is an ideal accompaniment to grilled seafood or poultry, and also complements mildly flavored cheeses. The wine’s rich texture, the result of regular stirring of the lees, further provides a big mouthfeel to this classically structured white wine.
  • Dracula Zinfandel, $19.99 per bottle Paso Robles, California
    Tasting notes: This is an elegant wine — a tour de force. This Zinfandel is big, rich and expressive! This wine is full of deep plum flavors that lead to cracked pepper & spices, with a refined texture and concentration. On the palate it is powerful and yet elegant, finishing with polished tannins.
  • Dracula Syrah, $17.99 per bottle
    Tasting notes: Reminiscent of the Master’s true love, this Syrah originates from the Rhone region in France, not far from his homeland. This Syrah has black cherry and dark chocolate flavors that launch into an intense, dark, rich and flavorful wine. Its perfect balance of spices sets up a silky texture and balanced, jammy finish.

And of course, for you drinkers who want the full Vampire experience, you can try this one:

  • TrueBlood Napa Valley Syrah, $30 per bottle
    Tasting notes: The inky black and blue color of the 2004 Trueblood Napa Valley Syrah is an indication of its power. This wine will bruise your soul with its palate crushing cherry, plum smoke and spice. Rich toasty oak and silky smooth tannins soften the blow enough for you take another sip. 220 cases produced.

PoiZin from Armida Winery – The Wine to Die for

This line started with a clever Zinfandel (one would assume) and now they’ve got Reserve wines that come packaged in an intricately adorned coffin! Choose from:

  • PoiZin, $25 per bottle
    Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma CaliforniaWinemaker’s notes: A little less deadly than our etched version of Poizin (not quite as light as a feather, though not as stiff as a board, either), this wine is blended to be soft, supple, and ready to enjoy NOW. The grapes come from Dry Creek Valley, the only real place to grow Zinfandel that’s worth anything. Bright fruit flavors are carried on a bed of soft tannins. Oooh, spooky.
  • Antidote, $12 per bottle
    Pinot Gris from the Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California.Tasting notes from PoiZin: The perfect summer wine, our Antidote is very crisp and clean, with flavors of pear and blossoms. In the mouth, the bright acidity is accompanied with more pear flavors as well as citrus, and honeysuckle. The finish is refreshing, leaving hints of tropical fruits to linger on the palate.

For lefties and other sorts of spooky deviants:

Owen Roe Sinister Hand

Owen Roe Sinister Hand

  • Owen Roe Sinister Hand, $20-25 per bottle
    Every year, this wine is an exuberant, lush, lively, juicy blend of Rhone varietals. This year it’s 52% Grenache, 39% Syrah, 7% Mourvedre, and 2% Counoise, all from Elerding Vineyard in Washington. The nose is appealingly bright and fresh, and the flavors are classic Rhone, with great lively, uplifting notes of red fruit. Flavors are of bright, red and black fruits, with lots of white pepper, good acidity and tannins and nothing out of place. Very well made and balanced. There’s lots of “back of the mouth” feel in the finish. The label shows the severed hand of Owen Roe O’Neil- the Irish patriot whose severed hand appears on the coat of arms of winemaker David O’Reilly’s family.

Evil & Pure Evil from R Wines

Evil Cabernet Sauvignon

Evil Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Evil Cabernet Sauvignon, $9-$12 per bottle
    100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Riverland, Australia
    Tasting Notes: A rich, opaque red-black color with a scarlet rim. Lifted nose of rich, jammy black currant with a smoky vanillin note. Complex palate of pickled black olive, smoky bacon, light pepper, red currants and hints of dark chocolate. Elegant, medium soft tannins.
  • Pure Evil Chardonnay, $9-$12 per bottle
    100% Chardonnay from Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Riverland, Australia
    Vintage comments: A challenging vintage resulting in low yields of exceptional quality. Light winter rains (drought) and frost damage during the spring, followed by berry splitting (as a result of heavy rain over a two day period at a crucial stage of berry development) contributed to a yield almost half of that expected. In addition, the summer’s unusually high temperatures meant that the time between veraison and harvest was greatly reduced. These tough conditions resulted in the fruit’s concentrated flavors and beautifully structured wines. Tasting notes: Peach, melon, ripe tropical fruits and a hint of cashew. Creamy, luscious and lingering.

Casillero del Diablo by Concha y Toro (shop it)

Literally translates to Cellar of the Devil by Shell & Bull and comes from Chile

Line of Casillero del Diablo wines

Line of Casillero del Diablo wines

There’s an entertaining story of how these wines came to bear this label:
Casillero del Diablo offers wine lovers the very special opportunity to participate in the propagation of a century old legend known throughout the world. In the 19th century, the founder of Concha y Toro, Don Melchor, discovered that his vineyard workers were sampling his greatest wines. To discourage this action, Don Melchor spread the rumor that his deepest, darkest cellar was the Casillero del Diablo (Cellar of the Devil), so that no one would dare go in there. It worked, and a legend was born. Today, this mysterious and legendary cellar continues to hold the finest, estate grown wines of Casillero del Diablo.

  • Chardonnay, under $10 per bottle
    100% Chardonnay, Casablanca Valley, Chile
    Tasting notes: A medium bodied wine with a long, sweet finish. The wine has a lemon-yellow color. It is rich and appealing with heavy pineapple fruit, toasty oak and a creamy butter texture. It is an elegant, round and mouthfilling wine balanced by crisp acidity for a long and memorable finish. Excellent with seafood, poultry, medium-sauced pastas, as well as most cheeses. Serve slightly chilled.
  • Sauvignon Blanc, $10-12 per bottle
    100% Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, Chile
    Tasting notes: Gentle, round and mouthfilling with crisp acidity. Flaxen gold color. A fresh and crisp bouquet. On the palate, the wine is elegant, round and mouth filling balanced by crisp acidity. This Sauvignon Blanc is elegant, round and of great volume. A clean and bright wine of astounding quality, this wine is best when served chilled. Enjoy with ceviche, oysters, and sush or serve as an aperitif.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon, under $10 per bottle
    90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Carménère from Maipo Valley, Chile
    Tasting notes: Medium bodied with smooth and friendly tannins. Hints of plums and cherries and a generous touch of toasted American oak. The wine is endowed with a remarkable bouquet, complex overtones and a lingering finish. It is well structured, perfectly balanced and boasts a satisfying and lingering finish. Dark and deep red color. Appealing red cherries and black plums with a touch of toasty oak. This classic, well structured, perfectly balanced Cabernet Sauvignon goes well with the heartiest cuisine, including roasts, game, stews, spicy pasta dishes and robust cheeses.
  • Merlot, under $10 per bottle
    90% Merlot, 10% Carménère from Central Valley, Chile
    Tasting notes: Smooth with great structure. Fruity taste and full body. Chocolate and herb accents add palate interest. Casillero del Diablo Merlot is big in volume and smooth, while exhibiting great structure. Dark and deep red color. Luscious fruit flavors: cherries, currants, berries and plums. On the palate, hints of mocha and herbs, generously framed by toasty American oak. It has a mouthfilling texture and is soft, but well structured. The wine is excellent with a variety of cheeses, meats and pasta dishes.
  • Carménère, $12-$14 per bottle
    85% Carménère, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Syrah from Rapel Valley, Chile
    Tasting notes: Notes of dark plums and spice, generously framed by toasty American oak with a soft and well structured mouthfilling texture. Dark red crimson color. Notes of plums, black fruit, chocolate and spice on the nose. It is a well-balanced, round wine with firm tannins. Casillero del Diablo Carménère is excellent with fresh light dishes based in meats, vegetables and fresh herbs. Also a good accompaniment to ripe cheeses such as Gouda, Gruyere or a dry goat cheese.
  • Riserva Privada, $13-$15 per bottle
    65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Syrah from Pirque, Maipo, Rucahue, and Rapel Valleys, Chile
    Tasting notes: Notes of dark plums and spice, generously framed by toasty American oak with a soft and well structured mouthfilling texture. Aged in French oak barrels for 14 months, this wine strikes the perfect balance between fruit and wood, yet retains vibrant acidity and supple tannins. Reserva Privada is the perfect match for finer recipes including grilled and roasted meats as well as for rich pasta dishes.

Don’t forget to buy spooky Halloween Wine Goblets!

wine.com