May 31, 2010

Jarhead - Wines of Character

Before we all head out to the beach or the block party or the family picnic, let us remember why most of us are not at work today. Let us honor the men and women who valiantly serve and have served to protect us, our children and the United States of America.

I don't know about you, but I like to do most of my honoring and remembering with a fine glass of something in my hand. Now, thanks to the passion and perseverance of two fine marines, you can enjoy a fantastic California red and show your support at the same time.

With Jarhead Red, we aim to give back while honoring the men and women who defend our nation. Each bottle of Jarhead Red supports the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, which provides educational assistance to children of U.S. Marines, with special consideration given to families of fallen Marines.

While Jarhead Red is made by Marines, for Marines, it will appeal to anyone who enjoys a robust red wine crafted in an approachable style.

2008_jarhead_red.jpg2008 JARHEAD RED
The Rhône varietal components of Mourvèdre, Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault were harvested from the Firestone family's estate vineyards and aged in individual lots of French oak barrels, 25 percent of which featured new oak. These lots contributed depth and complexity to the final blend, while a larger lot of Merlot from other local vineyards brought a supple roundness to the texture. The 2008 opens with deep aromas of plum, coffee and vanilla. Rich, rounded flavors of black cherry, cassis and cedar unfold into a long, spicy finish. This wine is a perfect match for classic American fare, such as peppered steak, barbecued chicken and grilled sausage. True to its name, Jarhead Red boasts a robust character and a finish that doesn't quit. This is the 10th vintage of Jarhead Red since the inaugural vintage of 1999. $13

2009_jarhead_chard_label.jpg2009 JARHEAD CHARD
The 2009 Jarhead Chard comes from select vineyards in Santa Barbara County, where the long, moderate growing season is ideal for achieving optimal ripeness and balance in the Chardonnay grape. The wine was fermented in a combination of stainless steel and French oak to maintain natural fruit freshness while bringing a toasty roundness to the palate. The 2009 Chardonnay begins with aromas of tropical fruit with hints of vanilla and citrus. Flavors of pear, pineapple and butterscotch finish with clean, mineral accents. This finely balanced Chardonnay is an excellent match for grilled seafood, roast lemon chicken and creamy pastas. $13

06_jarhead_reserve_web.jpg2006 JARHEAD RESERVE
Only the finest lots of the vintage are selected for the limited-edition bottling of Jarhead Red Reserve. These lots are aged separately for a minimum of 16 months in premium French oak barrels. The 2006 vintage is a complex, full-bodied blend that opens with smoky aromas of black cherry, plum, mocha and juniper. The palate unfolds with deep, integrated layers of briary black fruit with hints of spicy vanilla. $24

The 2008 vintage is a powerful blend of Cabernet Franc (75%), Merlot (13%) and Syrah (12%) and will be released in September of 2010. Stay tuned for details.

Images and copy via Jarhead

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

April 29, 2010

Octavin Home Wine Bar - Artisan Wine in a Box... Sort of

Monthaven Imagery1.jpg

Okay so it technically isn't a box, but rather an octagon... And of course the wine is housed in a stay-fresh collapsable bag, but you get the idea. I figured since I've been chatting up the boxed wine concept quite a bit lately I should probably prove to you that on occasion, I practice what I preach.

Things I love about the Octavin Wine Bar:

  • The footprint is smaller and takes up less space on my counter or in my fridge

  • The spout is easy to use and doesn't make a mess

  • Great value, you get a whole lot of wine for $20-$25 dollars

  • Most importantly, the wines are GREAT. You get real wines, well established artisan wines, not just left over juice from here and there all thrown in a bag.

Monthaven Chardonnay 2008
I was pretty terrified to try this one. Of all the boxed wines I've tried in the past, I have found the chardonnays the least forgiving, and overall the least appealing. This vibrant central coast chardonnay totally changed my mind. I was blown away by how well balanced, and flavorful it was. Great tropical aromatics and flavors add a little richness and roundness, but just a little. The pineapple quickly gives way to clean crisp golden apple. It is medium bodied and just generally crowd-pleasing and very easy to pair with food. Throw this in your cooler for all of your outdoor gatherings this summer.

Big House Red 2008
What can I say about the Big House that you don't already know? I hadn't tasted this wine in about 10 years, but it is EXACTLY as I remember it and I can tell you it tastes EXACTLY the same from a tap. This wine screams easy going and food friendly. Fruity and super smooth, it is the ultimate party red. Again, you'll want it around for that summer block party or BBQ.

The one thing you may (or may not) find fault with is the claim that these wines last for 4-6 weeks. Ahem, well I am here to tell you that 20 glasses of wine do not last 4-6 weeks in this household. They did last about 2 weeks--and they did remain as fresh as the day I popped the tap.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

July 20, 2009

Buehler Vineyards Russian River Chardonnay 2008

Varietal: Chardonnay
Region: Russian River Valley (Sonoma), California
Price: $15

It is no easy task finding good California chardonnay at this price point. And as I am willing to try just about anything, I often find myself looking, forlorn, into a glass of too flabby, too fruity, too fake-oaky swill. And consequently, you won't find too many chardonnay - particularly California chardonnay - reviews here. What keeps me going, what compels me to keep on looking, is that every now end then, I am ever-so-pleasantly surprised. Every now and then, I find one that I like AND that I can afford.

The Buehler Russian River chardonnay delivers on all counts. It is a lovely, golden, medium bodied beauty with up-front peach and orange blossom fruit. The fruit mellows into warm toastiness, which rolls into dreamy-creamy, and somewhere in there I get a little twist of lime peel. Full malolactic fermentation and sur lie aging provide the creamy richness. But thankfully there is enough acidity and a clean minerality that help provide balance and make the Buehler somewhat Burgundian.

An all around winner and certainly an elegant choice for the money... You can find it online here or at Buehler Vineyards.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

October 26, 2008

Newman's Own - A Legacy Worth Celebrating

NO_chard_BS_Hi.jpgI have been trying to decide how best to remember the gentleman and legend, Mr. Paul Newman. As it happens, I've had a few bottles of Newman's Own wine kicking around, just begging to be reviewed. So to honor the man, the philanthropist and the actor, I decided to throw a Newman's Own party. A little corny, I know, but what can I say?

I invited about twelve friends who were either Newman fans or just along for the free booze and grub. In lieu of background music, we fired up the DVD player and played a continuous loop of my four favorite Paul Newman films--The Sting, The Long Hot Summer, The Hustler and A New Kind of Love.

I tried to keep it simple and I wanted to use as many Newman's Own products as I could:

Chicken and shrimp skewers marinated in the Lemon Pepper Marinade
Beef skewers marinated in Steak Sauce
Potatoes, onions, peppers tossed in Balsamic Vinaigrette and roasted
Tossed salad with classic Italian dressing

Chips and Salsa for snacking
Bowls of Spelt and Honey Wheat pretzels
Lots of NO popcorn placed strategically near the TV

Newman's Own Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon
House cocktail - The Fast Eddie (vodka and NO Lemonade with perfect rounds of thinly sliced red chile peppers floating in it... a real kick in the pants!)

Assorted NO cookies and organic k-cup coffee for dessert

NO_cabsauv_BS_Hi.jpgTHE TASTING
Before the eating and official boozing began, I decided to hold a quick, mini wine tasting to get everyone's thoughts on the wines. I'm always a little skeptical of celebrity wines, but I did my due diligence and found that Newman's Own wines are produced by Three Thieves.

Newman's Own Chardonnay - Very lush and fragrant with scents of ripe tropical fruits... mainly pineapple. Lush and full on the palate as well. More tropical fruit woven with bright pear, golden apple and a thread of creamy vanilla oak lending flavor to its viscosity, all tempered by enough acidity to provide a crisp finish. Chardonnay haters thought it was too fruity and too creamy, but otherwise it was well received and a true indication of its worth--there was not a drop left at the end of the evening.

Newman's Own Cabernet Sauvingon - Bold and berry filled, this cab suprised all of us with its layered intensity. Rich and warm with scents of macerated berry, spice and sweet tobacco. Dried berries, plums and cassis round out the flavor profile and add a certain chewiness to the texture. This wine begs for a fire in the fireplace and bowl of stew in hand. Like Mr. Newman, this cab was adored by all.

Both the Cab and the Chard are quintessentially California wines. All sunshine and smiles. Infinitely like-able. You can find them at many large grocery chains as well as Cost Plus World Market in the $10 - $13 range.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

June 4, 2008

Cave de Lugny Macon Villages 2006

14385_bottle.jpgVARIETAL: Chardonnay
REGION: Burgundy, France
PRICE: $11

This was sort of a last-minute buy at Whole Foods. People coming for dinner. Flounder in parchment already in the oven and I had only a bottle of rose and a bottle of albarino chilled. Not a disaster if you're having friends over. But alas we were expecting a picky relative, so off to the market. I figured you can't really go wrong with a decent white burgundy--generally pleasing to even picky palates and a good match for the fish. Not wanting to spend a lot of $$, I chose the Cave de Lugny. I was pretty familiar with other Cave de Lugny wines so I gave it a shot. Lovely scents of golden apple, pear and citrus were enticing, but there was no pay-off. I found this wine a little thin and flat, almost watery. And though it did exhibit nice, clean, distinctly Burgundian minerality, there was not much else to balance it out. I even let it warm up a bit thinking it might be too cold. Nothing helped. But I am not (yet) convinced that the problem is the wine. Next time I'll buy one off the shelf and chill it myself. Perhaps it lingered in the store's refrigerated case a bit too long? I'll let you know. In the meantime, do try to buy whites that are un-chilled and chill them yourself. Or if the store has one, use the instant chiller.

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

May 22, 2008

Fire up the grill - Wines for Chicken

You can't have a picnic, or cookout or backyard BBQ without the beloved bird. You have infinite options when it comes to cooking chicken, but for laid-back gatherings go simple and crowd pleasing--fry it, or rub it with the spices of your choice and throw it on the grill.

cristalinocava.jpgOld fashioned picnic types will doubtless be serving mountains of potato salad and fried chicken. Crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside--if I didn't think it would kill me or make me fat, I would eat it every day. And my beverage of choice, in this ideal, fried-chicken-eating world, would be bubbly. That's right. Sparkling wine, champagne, in this case Cava, is the ideal match for anything fried. The bubbles clean your palate and are the perfect counterpoint to the crispy crust. The Cristalino Cava is one of my stand by wines for large gatherings. It is inexpensive but tastes like a quality champagne. Bright and crisp with hints of pear and golden apple, it is a toasty sparkler that is sure win you over.

Cristalino Cava Brut $9
Macabeo 50%, Parellada 35% and Xarello 15%
Straw color, smooth and fresh aromas; fine and fruity palate with a dry aftertaste. Clean, dry and crisp with citrus and apple flavors.

hopechard.jpgI know many of you will shun the fried chicken - it is an artery clogger - as well as the sparkling wine. So for you I have chosen a luscious chardonnay to complement a marinated or spice-rubbed grilled chicken. The folks at Hope Estate in Hunter Valley, Australia (yep, the same Hope that makes the shiraz I mentioned yesterday) make a wonderfully round, rich chard that is so reminiscent of a Mersault you'll have to look twice at the label. What differentiates it from its Burgundian big sister is the abundance of ripe, tropical fruit flavors, countered with crisp acidity, and the lack of minerality that is so present in white Burgundies.

Hope Estate Chardonnay 2006 $11
The key for our chardonnay is balance and complexity. Without using too much oak our barrel fermented style has an amazing length of peach, pineapple and melon characters but is balanced beautifully with stone citrus freshness. (from Hope Estate Winery)

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

March 12, 2008

Edna Valley Vineyard Paragon Chardonnay 2006

EVVChardlabel_med.jpgVARIETAL: Chardonnay
REGION: San Luis Obispo, California
PRICE: $14

Let me start by mentioning that I am usually wary of $12-$16 California chardonnay. I like to go cheaper or more expensive because in this range they are often too creamy, too fat, too manipulated with oak chips and god knows what else. Good grief! I like buttered popcorn and marshmallows, but I certainly do not want my chardonnay to exhibit hints of either one.
That said, I was quite pleasantly surprised by the Edna Valley Chardonnay. This is a superb pick if you enjoy subtle oak balanced out by vibrant fruit--peaches, pineapple, grapefruit--and a touch of minerality. It feels full in your mouth, without being knocked on the noggin with toasted oak. I enjoyed it with grilled salmon with basil cream, but I bet it would pair quite nicely with a roast chicken or shrimp and grits.

Check it out: Edna Valley Chardonnay 2006

Noël Wallace at Permalink social bookmarking

November 13, 2007

Day at a Spa Wine Gift Basket

The holidays are coming, so why not think of the special Chardonnay-lover in your life with a gift basket that says "you deserve to be pampered"? Just think - you get all the good karma of sending them to a spa at a fraction of the cost, and they might even share their wine with you if you play your cards right. How can you go wrong?


* Chardonnay
* Chardonnay foaming bath gel
* Gentle shower gel
* Soothing body lotion
* Relaxing Chardonnay bath salts
* Fragrant French milled soaps
* Chardonnay biscuits
* Key lime cookies

Day at Spa Gift Basket

Head Wino at Permalink social bookmarking

November 2, 2007

Sticks - 2004 Chardonnay White Wine

Year: 2004
ABV: 13.5%
We Paid: $14
stickschar.jpgThe color is a brilliant light straw with vibrant green hues. The bouquet possesses nectarine, peach and savory oak characters. The palate is clean and dry with tropical fruit flavors and a crisp zesty finish.

"Former Aussie rules footballer-turned-winemaker Rob (Sticks) Dolan, brought the wheel full circle when he (and others) bought, and renamed Sticks, the Yarra Ridge winery where he was once the winemaker. This is a great example of unpretentious Yarra Valley chardonnay style, fruit-driven with nectarine, honeydew and citrus, line and length its foundation."
-James Halliday

At Sticks 2004 Chardonnay - White Wine

Conor Hanover at Permalink social bookmarking

July 5, 2007

Sonoma-Cutrer 2005 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Sonoma-Cutrer 2005 Chardonnay>

When we read today's story on Liquor Snob about the whiskey aged in wine casks (Woodford Reserve), we got it in our heads it'd be cool to check out the wine they used. We've never had it and it's slightly higher than our typical price range (closer to $30 than $20), but we like Woodford Reserve enough we'd like to try both side by side.
It's somewhat fitting that as we launch the inaugural vintage of our Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, we were blessed with an abundant harvest full of intensely flavored fruit. Flavors of lemon, apple, pear, pineapple and cantaloupe-the full array of Sonoma's cornucopia of fruit, joins a nutty, spicy, lightly oak profile that stakes out a unique territory sure to please those who love Chardonnay.
Sonoma-Cutrer 2005 Sonoma Coast Chardonnay - White Wine
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June 29, 2007

Jewel 2004 Un-Oaked Chardonnay

We haven't really taken a stance on the whole "un-oaked Chardonnay" controversy we've heard about lately, but we enjoyed this guy quite a bit. We'll obviously have to do some more research to fully form our opinion.
The 2004 Chardonnay is produced in 100% Stainless Steel, both fermented and aged. This "un-oaked" approach produces a bright, fruit-forward style wine that is aromatic, clean and refreshing on the palate. The appealing aromas of citrus and tropical fruit lead to generous fruit flavors of green apple, melon and pineapple finishing with well-balanced acidity. This refreshing Chardonnay is at its very best with food.
Jewel 2005 Un-Oaked Chardonnay - White Wine
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June 4, 2007

2001 Toasted Head Chardonnay

toasted-head-chard.jpgWe've been getting into Toasted Head quite a bit lately, but until recently we hadn't tried their Chardonnay. We're glad we fixed that mistake - we were very much impressed with the quality of the wine and the nice fruity notes. We recommend it highly.

Taste Bright tangerine and pear fruit aromas are highlighted by clove and nutmeg. This medium-bodied wine has a crisp acidity and long finish, with pear and toasty butterscotch oak flavors, and creamy texture.

RH Phillips 2005 Toasted Head Chardonnay - White Wine

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May 7, 2007

Pure Evil Chardonnay Review

With all those cute and fuzzy new wine labels out there - y'know the ones we're talking about, the ones with kangaroos and penguins on them - it's kind of fun to encounter a new wine with a bit of an edge. We don't expect much of a tough guy act from our wines, and those cutey wines can be pretty tasty, but we want a label that will let us hold our heads high as we walk out of the wine shop.

Our favorite newly-discovered wine is Pure Evil. No, it's not some kind of demon-possessed label...that's the name.

ArrowContinue reading: "Pure Evil Chardonnay Review"

Head Wino at Permalink social bookmarking

November 6, 2006

Woot Wine 11/06/06: Sierra Club Chardonnay

Sierra Club ChardonnayCalling all eco nuts! If you can stop spiking trees long enough to log onto the Infernets, this week's Wine Woot is right down your alley. Introducing Sierra Club Chardonnay, a California Chard that usually retails for about $15 a bottle, but is available in four-bottle clusters from Woot for $40 plus $5 shipping. As always, this will only last as long as the wine does, or until the week is over.

Folks in the Woot blog seem divided on this stuff, but moreso over the politics than the quality of the actual wine. Our verdict? It seems cheap enough, and it's available for a lot of states (but not Masschusetts...grrr). If you agree with the Sierra Club and want to give them your dough, get there. If you think they're a bunch of tree hugging wack jobs who don't deserve your hard-earned money, save it and buy some acreage of your own to clear cut as you see fit. Doesn't bother us either way.

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