Montecillo Rioja: Great Value. Great Vino (Not Virginian)

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Arianna's Wine Tasting Notes | Leave a comment

I’ve been writing about Rioja a lot these days. Maybe that’s what inspired the good folks at Bodegas Montecillo to send me two bottles from their winery in Rioja Alta, Spain. I received a 2007 Montecillo Crianza ($12) and a 2003 Reserva ($18). I’m glad I did; these were great wines, and the QPR can’t be beat.

PS – Different Montecillo

The 2007 Montecillo Crianza, made from 100% Tempranillo, is aged in French oak (which is a bit unusual; most Spanish wines are aged in American wood), for twelve months. The remainder of its aging takes place in bottle. The 2007 had a nose of blueberry, blackberry and plum. Medium-bodied, with a smooth mouthfeel and nice balance, and flavors of tobacco, dark chocolate, blackberry and a bit of forest floor. If, in your shopping travels, you happen to stumble upon this one, at $12/bottle, there should really be no hesitation in picking it up.

Older and Wiser

The 2003 Montecillo Reserva – a step up from the Crianza but also made from 100% Tempranillo – is aged for 18 months in untoasted French barriques (again, a twist on traditional Spanish Rioja winemaking). I picked up aromas of tobacco, cigar, clove, allspice and blackberry; and flavors fresh, wet loam, blackberry, some tertiary components like forest floor, and even a bit of oregano. Although I sensed more heat on this than the Crianza, the overall presentation was smoother and richer, with a long, lingering finish. If you’re willing to part with a few extra dollars, this one is definitely worth the money, as well.

 

In fact, this review has made me a bit thirsty. Good thing the Bodegas Montecillo Riojas are pretty easy to find

 

 

 

I’ve been writing about Rioja a lot these days. Maybe that’s what inspired the good folks at Bodegas Montecillo to send me two bottles from their winery in Rioja Alta, Spain. I received a 2007 Montecillo Crianza ($12) and a 2003 Reserva ($18). I’m glad I did; these were great wines, and the QPR can’t be beat.

PS – Different MontecilloThe 2007 Montecillo Crianza, made from 100% Tempranillo, is aged in French oak (which is a bit unusual; most Spanish wines are aged in American wood), for twelve months. The remainder of its aging takes place in bottle. The 2007 had a nose of blueberry, blackberry and plum. Medium-bodied, with a smooth mouthfeel and nice balance, and flavors of tobacco, dark chocolate, blackberry and a bit of forest floor. If, in your shopping travels, you happen to stumble upon this one, at $12/bottle, there should really be no hesitation in picking it up.

Older and WiserThe 2003 Montecillo Reserva – a step up from the Crianza but also made from 100% Tempranillo – is aged for 18 months in untoasted French barriques (again, a twist on traditional Spanish Rioja winemaking). I picked up aromas of tobacco, cigar, clove, allspice and blackberry; and flavors fresh, wet loam, blackberry, some tertiary components like forest floor, and even a bit of oregano. Although I sensed more heat on this than the Crianza, the overall presentation was smoother and richer, with a long, lingering finish. If you’re willing to part with a few extra dollars, this one is definitely worth the money, as well.

In fact, this review has made me a bit thirsty. Good thing the Bodegas Montecillo Riojas are pretty easy to find…

Gourmet Monthly Wine Club Review

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Arianna's Wine Tasting Notes | 1 Comment

WineClubReviews is not a name we chose by accident. It is our mission to personally sample and review each club, in order to bring you real reviews. This way we can provide you with the best information for making a personal, informed decision about the best wine club to meet your imbibing interests!

Wine Club Shipment Review

Gourmet Monthly Wine Club

Gourmet Monthly Wine Club

We received a Gourmet Monthly Wine Club Premier Series shipment, at a cost of around $29.95 (plus shipping and handling). Inside were both a white and a red; for the price, Jessyca and I both felt they were both worth every penny. You can also catch our Gourmet Monthly Wine Club Review (Premier Series) at WineClubReviews.net.

I wrote about the white wine in my recent post, Orvieto, Vinho Verde and Pinot Blanc – Oh Dear… The wine in the Gourmet Monthly Wine Club shipment was the Orvieto part of that piece. Specifically, 2008 Palazzone Umbria Dubini Bianco , which is an Orvieto from Orvieto DOC, located near Umbria and Lazio, in Italy.

Palazzone Dubini Bianco - definitely delicious

Palazzone Dubini Bianco – definitely delicious

When Jess first poured our glasses, the wine was right out of the refrigerator. Yes, refrigerator. At least for now, we’re still regular, everyday folk, and don’t have special cellars kept at specific wine-friendly temperatures. But the reason for special cellars kept at specific wine-friendly temperatures is that wine really does work better when it’s served the way it wants to be. Refrigerators are too cold. As a result, our first impression of the Palazzone Umbria Dubini Bianco was that it was rather bland; the taste had been chilled right out of it.

As the wine warmed a little, it really opened up. The bouquet unfolded with ripe peach and pineapple and a touch of hay. Flavors of apple and stone fruit and honey revealed themselves as if waking up from hibernation. Another interesting thing that happened was the sweetness that hit me over the head on my first sip was soon rounded out with more acid and a satisfying structure that took all but the tiniest hint of sweet away.

The red part of this program was a 2007 Emilio Moro Finca Resalso Ribera del Duero. From Australia. Ha!

Tinto Fino fine for the price

Tinto Fino, fine for the price

OK, obviously from Spain (That was just a little bit of wine humor. OK, sorry. I’ll just get back to my review now…).

In fact, the family-run winery of Bodegas Emilio Moro is located in the Rioja region of Spain, and – typical to the area – their Tinto Fino is a special clone of Tempranillo grapes (for more Tempranillo goodness, you might want to also check out my review of Campo Viejo Crianza).

Tempranillo is sometimes described as juicy raspberry, perfume-y, dry earthy…and…leather. This Tempranillo I found to have a nose of oak and mineral, a bit of heavy-handed alcohol and a lovely smell and taste of black cherry. It bowled me over with tannins at first, but the more it breathed, unsurprisingly, the better it got. I also thought that this wine would be well served by decanting. It will certainly stand up to cellaring for 3 – 5 years.

As reviewed by Wine & Spirits Magazine on 10/09: Rating: 88/100 – Made from young tempranillo vines (from five to 15 years old), this wine offers simple, refreshing red flavors on a large scale. Serve it with chorizo.

I didn’t love this wine, but I did love the Palazzone Umbria Dubini Bianco. And there is something I should add about the price: For awhile Jess and I thought this shipment was priced at $45.95, and at that cost we were both deeply unsatisfied. However, once we learned that the shipment was closer to $30, everything changed. In fact, these wines seemed perfectly priced at around $15 each. Despite not being a huge fan of the Emilio Moro Finca Resalso Ribera del Duero, I feel I still got my money’s worth.

Even better about the Gourmet Monthly Wine Club: Each shipment can be mixed and matched to include wine or beer, cheese, chocolate, premium cigars or fresh cut flowers. That, alone, is worth the price of admission.

I Don’t Read Playboy For The Articles

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Arianna's Wine Tasting Notes | Leave a comment
Two Great Things That Go Great Together

Two Great Things That Go Great Together

In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t read Playboy for the pictures, either. If I want to see well-lit T&A, I’m lucky enough to be able to step into my shower. You wouldn’t believe the money I don’t spend on internet porn.

I’m a big fan of Playboy for a reason that has nothing to do with literary merit or bouncy body parts. His name is Dan Dunn. He’s known as The Imbiber; he’s the spirits writer for Playboy and he just gave me a big ol’ box o’ booze to review.

Never stop believing in miracles, kids.

The only thing naked in this post will be my reviews. But don’t hold it against me. I promise I’m good and my wine rack is awesome (even in low light).

Campo Viejo Crianza Tempranillo 2006: From the world-renowned Rioja region of Spain comes an “old friend.” A blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha and Mazuelo, this deep, dark garnet wine has a golden rim in the glass and a nose of plum and cherry, ripe blackberry and vanilla. 12 months of barrel aging adds smooth vanilla on the palate and soft, ripe fruits like the cherry and blackberry you smell right out of the bottle. But this baby burns. It’s acidic; the initial velvet mouthfeel is replaced by a tinge of acid in the back of the throat. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed it the first night. It felt rich, smooth. It went down easy. I didn’t enjoy it as much the next night. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t as good as the first time. And in my opinion, it should always be better the second time around.

Castello Monaci Piluna Primitivo 2007: Italian Primitivo is the genetic twin of the grape we know as Zinfandel.

Primo Primitivo

Primo Primitivo

Generally best consumed in the first 3 – 5 years after bottling, the longer Primitivo/Zinfandel ages in the bottle, the more that lush, jammy fruit taste diminishes.

Apparently for the Castello Monaci Piluna, now is a great time to drink the 2007.

Dark purple in the glass, with a nose of cherry, blackberry and blueberry (Jess actually called it blueberry pie). On the palate it’s all ripe black fruit deliciousness. Balanced, velvety mouthfeel. Medium tannins, medium finish. There was a slight burning on the way down, but just the slightest bit.

Antonio Galloni reviewed it for Parker:

The 2007 Primitivo Piluna flows from the glass with waves of dark red fruit. This generous, ripe wine should continue to drink well for at least another year or two. It is another incredibly delicious value-priced red from Castello Monaci.


Producer Notes:

The wine has broad, ripe black fruit and spice aromas, with notes of pepper, toasty vanilla and Mediterranean scrub. On the palate, the wine has a robust, concentrated character, a firm structure, and small black fruit and licorice notes on the aftertaste.

At around 11 bucks a bottle, this is a great buy.

Good stuff

Good stuff

Trapiche Broquel Chardonnay 2007: In doing research for this piece, I noticed that the importer used the word “international” to describe this wine and its packaging no less than 1 billion times (give or take a few). So I’m going to wager that they’re describing this wine as “international” to reassure potential buyers that it’s as good as Australian and Californian Chardonnay; maybe they’re afraid the average bear won’t buy a Chardonnay from Argentina. Could that be true? Do we use Argentina for their Malbec and rudely walk away from the rest?

If that’s the case, than shame on us. This wine is delightful. Lovely, golden straw in the glass. A nose of honey and apricot and peach. Flavors of green apple, honeysuckle, grass, muscat and apricot. It’s crisp but has backbone. A bit of bite, but – under the right circumstances – a bite isn’t bad. At $15 a bottle, it’s a little more than I’d want to spend, but if you find it on sale, go for it.

Producer Notes:

Tasting Notes: It is an elegant wine with intense scents of red apples, honey, and cinnamon [Ed: Cinnamon?! WTF?!]. Well-rounded flavors offer good body and a mild, harmonious finish.

Food Match: White meats, scallops, hard cheeses, fish, chicken, BBQ [Ed: And

left-over pumpkin cheesecake right out of the fridge, when you’re too lazy to make yourself lunch after spending an entire week cooking for Thanksgiving].

Those are my favorites from the free stuff I got; I raise a glass and toast. Here’s to women and wine. Here’s to Dan Dunn, The Imbiber. And here’s to the magazine that circuitously brought all of them together in this piece. Cheers!

Vina Santurnia (Rioja, Spain): A lesson in vintages

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Jess' Wine Tasting Notes | 1 Comment
2005 Vina Santurnia

2005 Vina Santurnia

One of our favorite stores for buying wine is The Wine House on Cotner in West Los Angeles. We like it because the prices and selection are great, the staff is knowledgable, it's close to home (which in LA is a bigger deal than it ought to be), and we can always order more of whatever we fall in love with.

The first time that happened, we fell in love with the 2004 Vina Santurnia, a delicious wine from Rioja. At $10.99 a bottle, we didn't even hesitate to order a case. Mitch is a big Pinot Noir fan, I'm a big Cabernet Sauvignon fan, and this wine satisfied both of us. We both like that it's smooth and has a nice mouthfeel, a barely-berry flavor in a medium-bodied, dry red wine. We ordered a case of course, after we cleaned out the remaining five bottles they had in stock. Except we still haven't invested in proper wine storage and the last few bottles started to get a little… negative… before we finished the case.

Nonetheless, we happily drank the remainder and went back to The Wine House to purchase some more. Except now they were onto the 2005 vintage. I'd been doing research and learning that a 2004 Whatchyacallit isn't going to be the same as a 2005 Whatchyacallit unless we're talking about Champagne. So we sent up a test balloon and only bought a few bottles of the 2005. Good thing! We didn't love it as much as we loved the 2004.

Until today that is! I have this not-so-secret love affair with Garlic Triscuit (pronounced tris-kwee in our household). I also love Garlic Jack cheese. Well, in fact, I like nearly all foods with garlic in them, including raw garlic which grosses everyone out and is neither here nor there. Anyway, I had a lovely snack of Garlic Jack on Garlic Triscuit this afternoon, and opened a bottle of the 2005 Vina Santurnia to enjoy with it. And enjoy I did! The pairing of food and wine seems like an academic pursuit to me, until the magic happens like it did today.

On the label
Rioja – Type of wine named after the region of La Rioja in Spain
Denominacion de Origen Calificada – Spain's way of telling you this wine comes from a top-quality wine region
Vina Santurnia – The winery
Crianza – This means it spent one year in an oak barrel
Varietal – 100% Tempranillo