April 21, 2010
Live-a-Little Rather Revealing Rosé
REGION: Western Cape, South Africa
This is a first for me. I have long been a fan of shiraz (and syrah) and once those winter winds shift to spring breezes I seldom refuse a rose--unless of course it reads "white" something on the label--but was never inclined to marry those tastes. So in honor of Earth Day I thought I'd go totally mad and try a certified organic-no sulfites added-fair trade-shiraz-rose. Phew, I need a glass of something after that. This one happens to be a lovely pick from the value label from Stellar Winery, the largest producer of organic wines in South Africa.
Definitely dry (13% alcohol), the Rather Revealing Rose is also quite the fruit bomb. It is, after all, a new world shiraz and doesn't stray far from its roots. But rather than the fresh berry flavors you might get in a full blown red, this fruit is tighter... more like dried cherries and dried strawberries trying to reconstitute in kirsch. Very easy on the palate and sure to be a crowd pleaser throughout the summer with just about anything. I served it with grilled vegetable and goat cheese paninis made on rosemary foccacia and it was a great complement to the earthiness off the veggies and rosemary and the creaminess of the chevre. But it has enough oomph that next time I'm thinking ancho-rubbed, grilled something-or-other.
If you find yourself in the Really Resistant to Rose category, Stellar makes half a dozen different organic labels that include reds, whites, dessert and sparklers in every price range.
March 11, 2009
Wine Cube South Australia Shiraz 2007
Once again, the dashing Mr. CheapFunWines and I were enticed by the lure of novelty and a cheap price tag. Since our previous experience with the Wine Cube (the Sauvignon Blanc) was pretty positive, we decided to give a red a try. In deciding which red to try, it was mutually understood that often cheap shiraz is marginally more appealing than say, cheap cab or merlot (why, I don't know... I think we were trying to give purpose to something rather arbitrary). And there ends our agreement on the subject.
While Mr. CFW found the shiraz to be bold and spicy with generous fruit, I rather found it to be a bit lacking. I'll admit it smelled pretty good... the promise of ripe dried berries and spice, but the little flavor I got when I first tasted it, virtually disappeared on on my palate before I could identify any interesting characteristics. I kept trying, though... sip after sip, swirling, slurping and praying for something even remotely distinctive to report. I gave up when my first glass was empty.
I will concede that it wasn't unpleasant. It just wasn't particularly flavorful, which is something I find desirable, even in cheap wine. The price tag, $14.99 for the equivalent of 4 bottles, is certainly a great selling point and I think for a big bash, or for the novice wine drinker this is a good buy. Perhaps we should have tried a blend.
If you're interested, you can find it--and an assortment of other flavors-- at your local Target. I think I'll let Mr. CFW polish this one off while I dig into my order from My Wines Direct.
December 15, 2008
Langhorne Crossing Red 2005
VARIETAL(S): Shiraz 48%, Cabernet Sauvignon 37%, Petit Verdot 15%
REGION: Langhorne Creek, Australia
From the folks at Bleasdale Winery comes this interesting Aussie red blend. I loved the warm and spicy berry aromas and the smooth supple texture. Very warm and inviting. You get lots of ripe and bold fruit from the shiraz and a sturdy backbone from the cab. However, the more I sipped, the more I was underwhelmed. I would definitely try the new vintage--I'm a fan of many of the Bleasdale wines--but this one faded pretty quickly on the palate. Generally good, but lacking just a little something. Not sure if the 2006 has been released yet, but if you see it, it is probably a good bet. Overall I think a new vintage would be a food-friendly crowd-pleasing red.
May 21, 2008
Fire up the grill - Wines for Burgers
Everyone loves a big, fat, juicy burger. It doesn't matter if your burger of choice is turkey, veggie, portabello, or good old-fashioned USDA prime beef. There is just something comforting about sinking your teeth into mouthwatering goodness enveloped in soft bun. So what do you drink when you have to satisfy that yearning? Well you could go in so many different directions depending on your burger preference. Classic cheeseburger? Bacon cheeseburger? Mushrooms? BBQ? Don't worry there are a couple of good wines that will make any burger a dream burger.
If you're hankering for top sirloin, bison or just about any red-meat burger, go for a medium to full-bodied shiraz. I like the Hope Estate because it is big and intense with some fruit, but it is definitely more spicy than fruity and doesn't exhibit the fruit-bomb characteristics of most shiraz.
Hope Estate Hunter Valley Shiraz 2006 $12
Hunter Shiraz has unique characters, not the big, ripe jammy characters of many Australian wines but a more elegant, finer style. Our wine still has the usual plum and spicy pepper characters but a balanced elegance enhanced from time in French oak. A complex and satisfying Shiraz that you will love to drink. (from Hope Estate)
On the other hand, if you fancy a more heart-healthy and figure-friendly burger, a la turkey, veggie and the sort, you might check out a barbera. There are some excellent Italian barberas out there that would foot the bill, but I really like the Renwood from California for all of my burger moods - meaty and meatless.
Renwood Sierra Foothills Barbera 2005 $10-$12
The 2005 Barbera displays aromas of rhubarb, cherry, and strawberry. On the palate the wine is lighter, with a smooth core of fruit flavors. Crisp acidity is Barbara's signature trait which makes this wine so mouthwatering. A finish that lingers, with raspberry flavors with a hint of cinnamon, balances the wine. The lots were aged in both stainless steel tanks and in a blend of older American and French oak barrels for 10 months. This allows the pure fruit to shine through and have a hint of smokiness. (from Renwood Winery)
If these two don't spark your interest, check out this great shiraz blend: D'Arenberg Stump Jump
March 25, 2008
d'Arenberg Stump Jump Red 2006
VARIETAL: Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvedre
REGION: McClaren Vale, Australia
Leave it to the Aussies to come up with the crazy, catchy names. The Stump Jump may sound a little weird, but it comes from quite an esteemed winemaking family in Australia. d'Arenberg wines generally fall into our swanky category, but this red blend is the ultimate in value. I bet if you tasted this one blind, you'd probably give it a price tag in the $25-$30 range. And you might mistake it for a Rhone blend - which except for geography, it is. This 70% Grenache, 20% Shiraz and 10% Mourvedre blend is the perfect Rhone knockoff. Beautiful deep ruby coloring is the one thing that sets this wine apart from its Rhone counterpart (which often has more bricky coloring). Otherwise you get the same earthy intensity balanced out with rich, dried fruits on the nose followed by a mouthful of ripe blueberry, black cherry and mulberry laced with clove and cardamom and just a hint of freshly chopped herbs. It is an impressive wine for the price - not fussy, but definitely interesting and lushly layered. This is a wine that is a staple in our house. Drink it with pleasure . . . and if you like, serve it with a mustard-crusted pork loin over roasted carrots and lentils.
Check it out: d'Arenberg Stump Jump 2006
March 4, 2008
St. Hallet Faith Shiraz 2005
REGION: Barossa Valley, Australia
Well, I admit this wine is a bit pricier than my typical mid-week selections. But it is still winter and the St. Hallet's gives me faith that spring will return again. Crafted from premium Barossa Valley fruit and nothing but, this shiraz looks like smashed berry ink in the glass. Warm spicy cherry and berry scents are just the prelude. Rich and dense, the St. Hallet's really lingers on your palate with smooth juicy cherry, ripe black raspberry interspersed with shots of spice and subtle black pepper from a 12-18 month stint in American and French oak. Sometimes Aussie shiraz can be a bit too jammy, like the fruit is overripe. Not so with the St. Hallet's. I love this wine - and have for about 8 years - because it is incredibly balanced, always impressive for the money and never ceases to make me feel warm and fuzzy all over. This wine is the perfect complement to just about any red meat and most hard cheeses. Or slurp it up with nothing at all.
Check it out: St. Hallet Faith Shiraz 2005
December 13, 2007
Annie's Lane Copper Trail Shiraz
We Paid: $18
I realize this is close to our price limit, and it's not even Swanky Friday, but there's a storm moving into Boston and this wine is great. Deep purple undertones and spicy fruit tastes make this the perfect wine to get snowed in with. Roasted meats, hearty soups, even a big sandwich would be a perfect pairing for this robust shiraz. Here's my plan: leave work at noon, pick up another two bottles of Copper Trail Shiraz, head home and get snowed in with my wife. She makes the world's greatest soups. Period. I'm gonna don the union suit, get a fire going, grab a glass of Copper, a bowl of soup and an armful of the afore mentioned wife. All of which will keep me very warm and very happy throughout the snowy weekend.
Annie's Lane 2001 Copper Trail Shiraz - Syrah/Shiraz Red Wine
October 31, 2007
Delicato Shiraz 2004
We Paid: $17 (3 liter box . . . almost 4 bottles!)
Do we even need to mention that this Shiraz came in a box? What’s the big deal? We’ve covered the wine-box debate before and little has changed. The CFW crew is interested in how the wine tastes, not the packaging. Although four bottles in one box is a great value. The FlexTap pushbutton-style spout is very cool too . . . and a little sexy. This little nipple device is easy to work, even with one hand when you’re trying to get those last few drops.
Delicato puts the same wine in its boxes as its bottles, and their wines have earned accolades both in the U.S. and at international competitions. Notably, Delicato’s entry was named “Best Shiraz of California” awards at the 2001, 2002 and 2003 California State Fair Wine Competitions.
The 2004 Delicato Shiraz lives up to its heritage. A powerful scent of spicy cherries practically bursts from the wine as you pour it. The flavor is a bit more subtle, tasting of blackberry and cherry. Overall, the flavor is balanced and quite smooth. The finish lingers with a fruity spiciness. The start and finish of this wine are so wonderful that they overshadow its pleasant flavor.
It’s little surprise that Delicato’s Shiraz is the best selling brand of that variety in the United States. If they can keep up with demand while maintaining quality, they are likely to hold onto that distinction in the coming years.