Friday, April 03, 2009

Hess Dry Creek Artezin Zinfandel...mmmmm!

For quite some time now Wine Guy and I have enjoyed Hess's Artezin series '06 Dry Creek Zinfandel. I finally took some pictures of the bottle and remembered that I should write a blog post about it. I would say this is the third or fourth bottle of it that we've had over the past year. We're heading up to Hess tomorrow and might just have to buy another one! :)

We enjoyed a bottle of it last week with our dinner of "arugula pasta", a very yummy dish that we make at least once a week...I should share the recipe on here! It's one of those that is so ingrained in my memory that I am not even sure if I have a recipe written out anywhere... So anyways, back to the wine! It has a rich ruby color, full-bodied but not overpowering on the taste buds, and has a luscious taste of ripe berries mixed with a hint of smoke and cocoa. We usually pair it with hearty pasta dishes and it pairs wonderfully.

If you have the opportunity to buy a bottle of this, DO! It's very reasonably priced and you'll be impressed with the taste. It isn't actually 100% Zinfandel, but a blend of 88% Zin, 11% Petite Sirah, and 1 % Carignan. It costs $25 a bottle, and can be purchased straight from the Hess Collection website: Click here to buy.

Make sure if you decide to try this that you get the Dry Creek Zinfandel and not the Mendicino Zinfandel. We've had both and the Dry Creek is much better, though the Mendicino isn't bad. When you taste them side by side though, there's no comparison!

Here are some bottle pictures. Be sure to click on them for higher-res images.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Wine Day with Erik & Erin

Wine Guy and I love to take our out-of-town visitors to wineries when they're here in the Bay Area, so when Wine Guys' brother and sister-in-law came to visit we planned a full itinerary for them!

Below I'll talk about our experiences at four different wineries last weekend - one in Napa, three in Sonoma.

1) Hess Collection - I know you've heard us talk about this one before! We're members here and absolutely love it. We arrived at 10 a.m., right as they were opening, and were whisked into the barrel room with a taste of Pinot Grigio to hear more about the history of the winery. Following that, we watched a video on the wine-making process at Hess, then finished off with a private tasting in a room upstairs. Overall, it was a good experience, but we were left wishing our tour guide had given us a detailed tour of the art gallery. The art collection at Hess is very impressive, but it adds so much to the experience when a tour guide takes you through it and explains all of the pieces! If you ever go to Hess for a tour, ask for Heather - her tours are the BEST! She took us on a very detailed tour of the art gallery when we went to Hess with our friends Dana and Nick in December. We finished off our time at Hess (we were there for two and a half hours!) with a bit more tasting at the wine bar downstairs. We had a Library Cabernet Sauvignon vertical tasting, which was absolutely amazing. We tasted their '98, '01, '02, and '04 Cabs and they were superb (but a little out of our price range for purchasing...)

Our group at Hess Collection.

2) Imagery Estate - several people have RAVED to us about Imagery (in Sonoma), so we finally stopped by to check it out. Unfortunately it didn't quite live up to its reputation. The primary reason we didn't enjoy it was because of the woman pouring for us. She was constantly pushing the wine club to us (sorry, not interested in joining...) and she was an overall very negative woman. I was reading a book about wine dogs on display in the tasting room and she proceeded to tell me exactly what was wrong with every single dog in the book. None of us were huge fans of Imagery, though Wine Guy and I purchased a bottle of Zin. Imgery is owned by Benziger Family Winery.

Tasting at Imagery with the crazy lady who was pushing the wine club like her job depended on it!

3) Preston of Dry Creek - an old favorite! We had to stop by here to get our Guadagni jug filled up. For $32, they fill a huge jug with wine straight from the barrel. Wine Guy and I were drinking it all week and just finished it last night. The wines at Preston are high-quality and reasonably priced, and the people are extremely welcoming. Our group also enjoyed the cats lounging on the winery porch and even inside the tasting room!

Erik and Erin with the Preston sign at the winery entrance.

4) Seghesio - after going here with our friend Erin a few months ago, we knew we would have to visit again. This winery has some of the best Zins in Sonoma, and the staff is extremely welcoming and friendly. The looks are deceiving here - it appears to be a very commercial, non-personal winery, but the people behind the tasting bar completely debunk the myth. After tasting here we were spent and quite frankly, a little sick of wine. So...we took off to Zin Restaurant & Wine Bar for an excellent dinner and plenty of water!

Wine Gal tasting some Rockpile Zin at Seghesio.

Stay tuned for more wine updates in the next week or so! :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hess Su'skol Vineyard Chardonnay

Wine Guy and Wine Gal are not big fans of white wines. For some reason, we just love the taste of dry reds so much that we're usually let-down when we try a white. The one exception to this, however, is Chardonnay. We think it has something to do with the fact that most Chardonnays are aged in oak barrels, giving them the oakiness that we love so much in reds.

As you probably know from our previous posts, we're members of the wine club at the Hess Collection in Napa. It is by far one of the best wineries we've ever been to, and we are consistently impressed with both the quality of the wines and the quality of the people at Hess every single time we visit.

Tonight we enjoyed the Hess 2007 Su'skol Vineyard Chardonnay, which is a relatively new release for the winery. Even though there is a more expensive Chardonnay on the wine list at Hess, we prefer the Su'skol because, let's face it, we don't have very refined palates when it comes to Chardonnays! We talked to one of the employees at Hess about this, who actually admitted to us that she enjoys the "cheaper" Chardonnays that have a more buttery, oaky taste to them. We completely agreed. This Chard fits the bill. It's got just enough of each of the previously mentioned flavors, but not too much, so that it's just right!

At $25.00 a bottle, it's still not your budget wine, but definitely affordable to enjoy every now and then. We're heading back to Hess this weekend with Wine Guy's brother and sister-in-law, and we're planning to buy some more!

Check it out if you get a chance. I don't think it's available in grocery/liquor stores, but definitely available if you order it straight from Hess. Here's a link to the Su'skol Chardonnay specs on Hess's website.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Four Winery Day: 2/14/09

Today we visited four wineries in Napa & Sonoma for Valentine's Day. Below I'll recap each one and our favorite wines at each:

1) Hess Collection
We are wine club members here, so we had to go to pick up our latest wine club shipment. We also decided to stick around and do a little tasting! :) We are generally "dry red people", but ventured out of our comfort zones today and actually enjoyed the Sus'kol Vineyard Chardonnay enough that we bought it. It had a fruity nose and a full-bodied mouth feel with a hint of buttery, oakiness on the finish! Our other favorites today were the '05 Hess Collection Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon (sooooo smooth!) and the '06 Artezin Dry Creek Zinfandel.

2) Jacuzzi Family Winery
We're members here as well, and our main reason for visiting the winery today was to take part in the "Olive Odyssey" event that was going on. We also managed to fit in a few tastes while we were there, and while Wine Guy enjoyed the Valeriano the most, Wine Gal's personal fave was the Cab. We already have a bottle of the Valeriano at home, so we'll have to invest in a bottle of the Cab sometime in the near future...

3) Ravenswood Winery
We visited this one back in the fall of '07 and loved it, and it didn't disappoint this time either! It's so funny because we both LOVE Zins so much, and that is by far the best wine that Ravenswood makes, but both times we've been here we ended up buying their Sangiacomo Chardonnay. Wine Gal says it's the BEST Chardonnay she's ever had, and it is only available in the Ravenswood tasting room (you can't even find this one at specialty wine stores). The Pickberry was also fabulous...80% Merlot, 20% Cab.

4) Buena Vista Winery
This was the only one we visited today that we had never been to before. We were very impressed! We honestly did not taste one wine that we didn't enjoy here. If you are ever in Sonoma, this winery is a MUST. They had a few different Chardonnays to taste, and our favorite was the '06 Ramal Vineyard Chardonnay. Next up were tasted three different Pinot Noirs, and again, they were all excellent, but our favorite was the '06 Ramal Vineyard Swan Selection Pinot Noir. Just when we thought the wines couldn't get any better, we tasted the '06 Ramal Vineyard Syrah. WOW. We ended up buying two bottles of it because it was so good. Very smooth, a little smoky, a little spicey. We finished the tasting with their Merlot, which was excellent as well, but we just liked the Syrah a little bit better.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A few new wineries

I just realized that I forgot to post info on the "new" wineries (i.e., wineries we had never visited before) that we checked out when Erin was in town almost two weeks ago! Here goes...

1) Started our day at Jacuzzi, where Karl and I are members. Good stuff, as always. I just found out that because we are Jacuzzi members, we also get 20% off all the wine at Cline, who just happens to make an EXCELLENT Old Vines Zin...SCORE!

Wine Gal and Erin at Jacuzzi to start the day.

2) Next on our list was Kaz. I saw a little ad for this tiny winery in a magazine and figured we should check it out. Honestly, I could have done without it. It had all of the ingredients of a Wine Duo Fave - small, run by family, tasting room in a barn, etc. Unfortunately the wines just didn't do much for us, and they seemed to be overpriced for the quality. We paid our $5 tasting fee (and the lady was verrrrry skimpy on the pours) and got the heck out of there. Did I mention that the woman pouring for us was clearly on drugs? Well, she was.

Wine Guy and Erin inside the Kaz tasting room. Crazy lady is behind the bar.

3) We recovered nicely with winery #3, Foppiano. I read about this one in my wine book and thought it sounded like a place we would enjoy. Even though they had some sort of private event going on, they separated it from the tasting room so we actually had the whole place to ourselves. The woman pouring for us was nice and entertaining, and the Petite Sirah was fabulous, especially considering the price! I think it was just $20, but it was one of those I would have paid $40 for.

The whole crew at Foppiano.

4) We finished off the day at a place called Seghesio. This is one that has made my list of places we should visit multiple times, but we haven't ever actually gotten around to it until now. When we first walked in I thought I might've made a looked fairly commercial and it was much more crowded than any other wineries we had visited that day. Luckily once we got up to the tasting bar my fears were long forgotten. This place had the most amazing Zins! Most of you have probably figured out by now that the Wine Duo prefers a hearty red Zin to any other wine, and Seghesio's Zins will be a Wine Duo favorite for years to come. The funny thing is we didn't even end up buying a Zin; we got the "Venom" Sangiovese instead. It was the best wine of the entire day and we decided we'll save it for a special occasion. I will let you know when said occasion happens so that I can tell you more about the wine! :)

Our friend Erin enjoying some of the "fab-o" (as she would call them) wines at Seghesio.

That's all for now! Stay tuned in the next week and we'll try to post again!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Budget Wine - Barefoot Zinfandel

Being the careful consumers that we are (and let's admit it...battling the high cost of living in California!), the wine guy and I sometimes make runs to Trader Joe's to buy some "budget wines" so that we can save all of our $30-$60 bottles of the good stuff for special occasions. Our collection of the so-called "good stuff" is now around 37 bottles, but who's counting?

Anyways, a few months back I saw a Barefoot Zinfandel at Trader's Joe's for the low low price of $4.99. "What a steal!" I thought. The best part was that the bottle had a sticker on it that read, "Gold Medal. 2007 Pacific Rim International Wine Competition". Gold medal at a wine competition? Count me in! (Although I must admit I'm usually not a sucker for that kind of thing....but the stock of Barefoot Zin was pretty low and I thought "If everyone else is buying this stuff it must be pretty good.") So I bought the bottle and we enjoyed it a few nights later. Since then we've bought about 4 or 5 more bottles of Barefoot Zin and I'm pleased to say that we continue to enjoy it every time. If you're looking for a low-cost, medium-to-full bodied Zin with just the right blend of velvety texture and fruitiness (not nearly as much spice as some Zins I've had, just an FYI) this is the wine for you. Oh, and did I mention it scored 84 points in Wine Enthusiast? How many 84 point wines can you get for $4.99?

Here's a link to the Barefoot website, where you can learn more about their wines and where to purchase them. I've had some other Barefoot in the past that I wasn't nearly as impressed with, though the name is currently escaping me. I think it was probably the Cab. So...stick with the Zin! :)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Four new wineries to report on

On our two-year wedding anniversary, we headed up to Napa to explore a few new wineries. Below, I'll give a quick recap on each one:

1) Beringer
This is one of the "big" wineries...similar to Mondavi or Kendall-Jackson, etc. My aunt and uncle recommended this one to us so we thought we'd start the day with it. Usually the wineries aren't nearly as crowded in the morning, and this was one we could foresee becoming very crowded. The grounds were absolutely beautiful - the Rhine House (photo on the right) was definitely a sight to see (though we decided to skip out on the $30 per person tour of it), and the rest of the grounds were breathtaking as well. We did a tasting of four wines - one Chardonnay and three Merlots, and we ended up buying a 2005 Merlot that tasted excellent and was sold at a decent price (plus all Merlots were 20% off!) The people we encountered at Beringer were just could tell they are used to be crowds and engaging in an actual conversation (rather than just exchanging pleasantries) with customers isn't their forte. If you want to see one of the big, historic wineries in Napa, this one would be a nice place to visit.

2) Heitz Cellar
This was one that I read about in a book of Napa and Sonoma wineries, and it sounded like a good contrast to Beringer. Usually when we visit one big winery we try to go to a really small one next. This fit the "small" bill perfectly. It is a very small stone building with a tasting bar big enough for about six people. It was very cozy inside, with a warm fire burning in the fireplace, a little dog running around, and one man running the show behind the bar. It was surprisingly crowded for 11:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, but given the fact that this is one of the very few wineries in Napa that does not charge a tasting fee, I guess we shouldn't have been too surprised. Some of the tasting fees in Napa are OUTRAGEOUS - but that's a rant for another day. Back to Heitz... We tasted Chardonnay, Cabs, Zins, and a Port. We were very surprised that even the dry reds such as Cabs and Zins, which are usually fuller-bodied wines, were very light-bodied and fruity at Heitz. They were okay, but not necessarily what I like in a Cab or a Zin. The Ink Grade Vineyard Port, however, was delicious. It was smooth and didn't leave that tinge of alcohol taste in your mouth that some Ports do. It is made from a very interesting blend of grapes - Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, Sauzao, Tinta Cao, Tinta Bairrada, Tinta Madeira, Tinta Amarela and Bastardo. I had never heard of any of these prior to tasting at Heitz. We bought a bottle of that and a bottle of the Grignolino, which is an Italian table wine. If you are looking for a friendly tasting room with no fee, this is the place for you.

3) Rombauer Vineyards
DING! DING! DING! This was the WINNER of the day!!! The last time we were in Napa someone who works at Hess recommended Rombauer to us, but we weren't able to visit it that day. This time we made sure to stop by, and though it was difficult to find from the road (their sign is very small and the GPS was telling us it would be on the right, when actually it was on the left), it was by far our favorite winery of the day. It is hidden up in a forest and looks very small and plain from the outside. Inside the tasting room was packed, but the man pouring was very observant and made sure no one in the room was without a glass of wine. We tasted Chardonnay, Merlot, two Cabernet Sauvignons, and a Zinfandel Port here. While we are usually big dry red fans, we loved the Chardonnay so much that we ended up buying that instead of a red! The Zinfandel Port was amazing as well, but since we don't drink much Port and had just bought a bottle at Heitz, we didn't see the need for it. Every single wine at Rombauer was delicious, smooth, and a true delight to taste. We highly recommend visiting this winery if you are in Napa. Although the tasting room is plain and simple, the wines make it all worth a visit, as well as the gorgeous view from the winery's front porch (see photo above right). The wine duo gives Rombauer an "A+"!

4) Ballentine Vineyards
This was an "on a whim" stop for us. We had never heard of Ballentine, it wasn't mentioned in my winery book, and we just happened to pass it and see the sign on our way ot Rombauer. It stuck out in the wine duo's minds because our beloved Indiana University has a building called "Ballantine Hall" and there is also a Ballantine Street in Bloomington. Although the Ballentine's are spelled differently, we still wanted to stop at this one. We checked out their website on our iPhones and it said they are by appointment only. We called and the nice lady said, "Come on by!" so we stopped in. We weren't sure what to think of it when we first arrived...the tasting room was the most "no frills" that we had ever seen - it was basically a small room in the side of a pole barn, but once we started tasting the wines spoke for themselves. They were excellent. The lady pouring for us, Marion, was extremely friendly and funny, and we really enjoyed talking to her. Ballentine had several good Zins, but none was as nice as the Block 9 Reserve Zin. Although Zin is generally our favorite grape, we were most impressed with the Syrahs! We bought a bottle of the Betty's Vineyard Syrah, and wanted to buy a bottle of the Petit Verdot as well, but we had already surpassed our self-imposed "three bottle limit" for the day by two bottles, so we decided we'll buy that one next time. While Ballentine is very simple and no-frills, the wines are definitely worth tasting.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bouchaine 2005 Rockin' H Vineyard Pinot Noir

Last night we decided to dip into our "nicer" wine cabinet and enjoyed a 2005 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir from Bouchaine Vineyards. This is one of the wines in their Bacchus Collection, which according to the back of the wine bottle, "represents thoughtful selections from the array of wines produced by our family-owned winery each year. These are the wines we find interesting and intriguing. They are liited bottlings of 10 barrels or less." It was excellent!

We visited this winery a few months ago on our first trip to Napa, and we loved the winery's quaint charm and the very friendly people there. It is a very small winery far removed from a lot of the other, more commerical, wineries.

Back to the Pinot - we were having fish so we didn't want a wine that was too full-bodied. This proved to be the perfect pairing. The interesting thing about this Pinot is that it's not as light-bodied as most. Wine Guy and I liked that because we generally lean towards the medium-to-full bodied wines. It definitely fit the Bacchus description on the back of the bottle, as it was very interesting and intriguining...definitely unlike any Pinot I had ever tasted. I found myself swirling the glass and enjoying the aroma just as much as I enjoyed the taste.

Wine Guy said he tasted dark cherry and other dark red fruits when he drank this wine. He also noted that it was fuller-bodied than any other Pinot. This echoes the description of the wine on Bouchaine's website, which said, "Winemaker Mike Richmond used his Carneros sensibilities to sculpt dark berry, black cherry and leather character from a one-dimensional to a multi-faceted gem."

This wine can be purchased for $35.00 on Bouchaine's website. You'd better get it now, as only 300 cases were produced!


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wine Guy & Wine Gal Visit Napa

Today we made the 45 minute drive up to Napa to visit an old favorite as well as three new wineries. Here's a quick rundown on each one, and a few corresponding pictures:

1) Hess Collection
Every time we go to Hess we are reminded of exactly why we decided to join the wine club here. The wines are top rate, the people are friendly and inviting, and the tasting room is elegant yet relaxed. I don't think we have tasted any wines here that we didn't like! We'll definitely be taking some Hess wines home to share with our families over the holidays.

Hess's gorgeous ivy covered wall - fall colors!

2) Cakebread Cellars
We have heard rave reviews of Cakebread from some of Andrea's family members, so we had to try it out for ourselves. In order to taste here you have to make a prior appointment. We showed up on time and were quickly whisked away to a short tour followed by a tasting. The facility was gorgeous and the people were very nice. The wines were good, but we felt that they were a little over-priced for the quality. The Syrah was probably our favorite wine that we tasted here. Overall, Cakebread was a very good experience.

We loved the floor-to-ceiling windows inside Cakebread's facility.

3) V. Sattui
Again, we had heard great things about this place and it was certainly one we wanted to visit since the wines can only be purchased at the winery - V. Sattui does not distribute at all. We had to wait for a few minutes before we could make it up to the tasting bar, and once we were there the wines were very good. We ended up buying a Muscat dessert wine. On the day we went it was verrrry crowded - it was kind of funny because the other two wineries were very slow that day, so once we went to V. Sattui we figured out where everyone else went! ;) They have a great shop with picnic food and a huge picnic ground as well. It seemed like everyone else had the same idea as us for a picnic. We had some dill havarti cheese and gouda cheese, some salami, and a fresh loaf of french bread. Yum!

Inside V. Sattui Winery

4) Prager Winery & Port Works
This is our type of winery! Very small, hole-in-the-wall type of tasting room, and the entire operation is run by just four employees. It is family-owned and operated, and the specialty is a bit different than most wineries - Port. We actually ended up buying the Petit Syrah here because although we enjoy Port, we rarely drink it. The staff here was amazing, and the decor was quite interesting to say the least - dollar bills were stapled to every wall and ceiling, and all of them had been signed by visitors of the winery. The radio was blasting out some Led Zeppelin too, so as you can tell, this isn't your typical winery. Oh and I almost forgot the best part - they let you keep your tasting glass...but unlike many wineries where the "take home" glasses are small and/or cheap, these were very large, high-quality glasses that we will actually use! Prager gets an A+ from us. Visit this one if you're ever in Napa.

The dollar-covered walls at Prager.

Value Wine of the Week: Charles Shaw Valdiguie Nouveau

A lot of you are probably familiar with a wine called Beaujolais Nouveau, which makes an appearance in grocery stores and liquor stores worldwide every year right around this time... You might recognize it by its extremely colorful label:

If you want to see what the fuss is all about with Beaujolais Nouveau, just read this Wikipedia entry. It costs about $10 per bottle.

The point of this post is to tell you about a similar style wine that is cheaper and just as good: Charles Shaw Valdiguie Nouveau. I know Charles Shaw sometimes gets a bad rap because it's so cheap, but honestly Karl and I have been pleasantly surprised with the quality of this wine. Every bottle is just $1.99 (hence the nickname "Two Buck Chuck") and tastes every bit as good, if not better, than the $10-12 bottles most people buy at the grocery store to have with dinner. The Valdiguie Nouveau is only available at Trader Joe's, and it is a very light-bodied dry red wine that is very fruit-forward. Karl and I enjoyed it with some fish recently and it paired perfectly.

Check it out if you get a chance. Here's a picture of the label:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We're going to start wine blogging again!!!

Hello everyone! Sorry for the hiatus from wine blogging. The Wine Guy and I have gone through a lot of changes this past year, moving to California, starting new jobs, etc., and quite frankly all of that just didn't leave enough time for wine blogging.

We're probably going to follow a less formal format on here than we have in the past. Anytime we drink a new wine we'll try to make a quick post just to let you know what we think about it. Some posts might be more in-depth than others...we'll see. I can say right now that we have enjoyed QUITE A FEW excellent wines since moving to California! We've also visited a very large number of wineries. Here's a quick breakdown of the ones we've been to in Napa and Sonoma. Feel free to comment with questions about the wineries if you want our opinion on any of them:

-The Hess Collection (we are wine club members here)
-Bouchaine Vineyards
-Grgich Hills Cellars
-Robert Mondavi Winery
-Silver Oak Cellars
-Folie a Deux

Viansa Winery
Cline Cellars
Jacuzzi Family Winery
Schug Carneros Estate Winery
Bartholomew Park Winery
B.R. Cohn Winery
Moon Mountain Vineyard (we're wine club members here too)
Mayo Family Winery
Kunde Estate Winery
Korbel Champagne Cellars
Martinelli Winery
Rochioli Vineyards
Hop Kiln Winery
Armida Winery
Rosenblum Cellars
Simi Winery
Preston of Dry Creek
Quivira Vineyards
Dry Creek Vineyards
Lambert Bridge Winery

That's all....we'll try to add an entry tonight. :)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Welcome to our "Wine Duo" Blog!

Welcome to "The Wine Duo"! This blog is run by a young couple, Karl and Andrea (that's us on the right!), who enjoy tasting different wines whenever we can! We hope to provide realistic reviews on different wines for the casual wine drinker who is looking to diversify their palate.

We hope you enjoy our wine reviews, and please feel free to post comments if you have tasted any of the wines featured on this site, or if you have suggestions for new wines we could try!

**Check it out - we just got this cool new tool where Google will post relevant links to the stuff on our page! It's located at the top of the page. Check out the links when you get a chance! :)

The Wine Gal/Wine Guy's Five-Grape Tasting Scale
Every wine featured on our Blog will receive a rating of anywhere between one and five grapes. Basically it is like a five-star scale only to up the cheesy factor, we decided to call it the five grape scale!

O = Are you sure they didn't add liquid manure to this wine?
OO = Did they make this wine from raisins...
OOO = Eh...I could take it or leave it.
OOOO = Definitely a wine we would buy again!
OOOOO = The king (or queen) of wines! A Wine Gal/Wine Guy fave!

Mocavero Puteus - 2001 Reserve

I believe that this wine was purchased at Big Red Liquors in Bloomington, IN....although I don't remember if that is definitely where I bought it. I think it was about $11 for the bottle. This is an Italian wine that is 80% Negroamaro grapes and 20% Malavasia nera. I had never heard of these grapes or this wine name in my life, but thought it would be a fun wine to purchase and try.

The Wine Guy and I decided to drink this on a night when we ate Italian food, thus the full "Italian" theme. The label of the wine said that it is "better to decant it before drinking it", so about two hours before our meal we poured it into a decanter. I would definitely say the label was right! When the Wine Guy first smelled the wine he kind of made a face and said, "It smells weird." Well, by the time we enjoyed it with our spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic breadsticks it was just right, and has continued to get even better since the meal is over (or is that just the 13.5% alcohol talking?)

Anywho, the wine has a VERY spicy'll clean out your nostrils! The flavor, as the wine guy describes it, is "very fruity", with a lot of red jammy fruit flavors as well as spice (a hearty peppery spice). It went well with our spaghetti, although in the future I might serve it with a spicier meal - perhaps something that has a lot of pepper in it. I asked Wine Guy for his final input and he said thoughtfully, "I'd say it's medium to full bodied?" and I agree.

Date tasted: 8/12/2007
Winery name & location: Mocavero - Salice Salentino, Italy
Grape/blend: Puteus (80% Negroamaro and 20% Malavasia nera)
Vintage: 2001 Reserve
Color: dark ruby
Taste: medium to full bodied, red jammy fruits, loads of spice
Aroma: One of the least favorable attributes of this wine...very spicy, almost too much. Also has a bit of a smoky scent.
Thoughts/info from wine label: "Suitable for: game, roast meat, spicy dishes, salami. To be serve: 18-20 degrees Celsius - It's better to decant before drinking it. To be dept: 16 degrees Celsius."

Below is our rating for this wine:

Wine Gal's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOO
Wine Guy's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOO 1/2
Almost in perfect agreement...I think the Wine Gal just finds the wine to be a bit too spicy on both the nose and the taste. Give it a try if you plan to cook a hot-hot-hot meal! :)

Link to winery's website:

Monday, July 30, 2007

Preston of Dry Creek Zinfandel - 2004

This is a wine that we received as a wedding gift! "Preston" is a family name for the Wine Guy, so this was an extra special gift. We also received a Preston Sauvignon Blanc, which was excellent, but unfortunately we were still too lost in wedded bliss to write about it. Sorry! Anywho....the Zinfandel. First off, it's important to know that this is an organic winery. I don't know why that is important, but thought I'd throw it in there for good measure.

The Wine Guy and I both agree that this is lighter in its body than most Zins that we have experienced. We decided it's more "medium bodied" than "light bodied" though. Wine Guy describes it as having an "Airy Spice" and I know what he means by that. It has a spice that comes at the end, right as it's going down your throat, but it's not too spicy. Up front the taste is light and fruity - loads of cherry and strawberry flavors, followed by the aforementioned spice. The Wine Guy was crazy about this one! (He did cartwheels in the living room! No, just kidding...our living room isn't big enough for that). I must admit, however, that I wasn't quite as crazy about it as he was. Although it went well with our meal of spicy chicken, Au Gratin potatoes, and corn, it didn't have the velvety richness that I have come to love with so many Zins, such as Rosenblum's. It is great to pair with a simple meal, however, and we enjoyed it as we watched TV afterwards as well.

Date tasted: 7/30/2007
Winery name & location: Preston of Dry Creek, Healdsburg, California
Grape/blend: Zinfandel - Dry Creek Valley 2004 - Old Vines/Old Cloves
Vintage: 2004
Color: medium magenta
Taste: medium bodied, fruity at first, then spicy on the finish
Aroma: fruity and dry - cherry/strawberry
Thoughts/info from wine label: The wine label does not contain any supplemental information.

Below is our rating for this wine:

Wine Gal's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OO 1/2
Wine Guy's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOO 1/2
Well, it looks as though we don't quite agree on this one. Nevertheless, it's a nice wine and would probably pair with almost anything. Better luck agreeing next time!

Link to winery's website:

Thursday, July 26, 2007

So it's been a while...and the Wine Duo got married!

We realize it has been FOREVER since we updated this site....what can we say, we've fallen victims to married bliss! We were married on December 30, 2006, in Bloomington, Indiana. It was a wonderful wedding - fun was had by all. After that we jetted off to Saint Lucia for a wonderful honeymoon, and ever since we've been busy with our jobs, school, etc.

Anywho, we hope to begin updating the blog again. We have consumed so many good wines between last year and's a shame we didn't report on all of them. Oh well... Let us know if you have any recommendations for us!

Oliver Winery 2005 Shiraz

Okay, we both used to work at Oliver Winery...which can explain why we rate so many of these wines! If you are not from Indiana, so sorry, but this might be a wine you can never experience. If you are ever in Indiana, I highly recommend driving 50 minutes south of Indianapolis to experience Oliver for yourself.

Now, on to the wine description! Right now Oliver has a 2005 Shiraz, which retails for about $10.95 I believe, AND a 2004 Shiraz Reserve, which is a bit pricier at $18.95. Hands down, go for the plain old '05! This wine is a delight that can be consumed on its own very easily. Although you could pair some pasta, burgers, chicken, steak (anything really) with it, it's also fine on its own for a night in watching a movie or simply to sip as you write on your blog. ;)

The bottle describes this wine as, "Deep, dark color and loads of fruit, with a satisfying and lingering texture make this a versatile wine." The description is perfect - it truly is versatile, and while you will taste a rich fullness, you will also taste a great deal of fruit. I personally taste hints of raspberry and cherry. Wine guy describes the nose as "black cherry...definitely" and he tastes a lot of cherry as well. It is medium to full-bodied and has just a hint of a light spice.

This just in - this wine actually received a score of 92 out of 100 from Dine magazine, the highest rated wine of the magazine. Click here to read more.

Date tasted: 7/26/2007
Winery name & location: Oliver Winery, Bloomington, IN
Grape/blend: Shiraz
Vintage: 2005
Color: dark cherry red
Taste: medium to full-bodied, very fruity - raspberry and cherry, and just a light hint of spice
Aroma: very fruity - almost a full black cherry scent
Thoughts/info from wine label: See the quote from the wine label above. This wine has an alcohol content of 14.2%

This wine was consumed on its own - we did not pair it with any food. It was a nice treat to consume while we both worked on individual projects. Very smooth and easy to drink. We'll be purchasing more bottles of this wine for sure!

Below is our rating for this wine:

Wine Gal's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOOO
Wine Guy's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOO 1/2
Wine guy just told me that he needs to be more conservative on his voting, so he gives it 3 and a half grapes. I, on the other hand, like it so much I'm willing to give it four grapes. Go out and get some!!

Link to winery's website:

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Wine Duo is getting married!

Yes, it's true...on December 30, 2006, the Wine Duo will be officially hitched! We will post photos as soon as possible...and we promise once the wedding is over we will put more time and effort into this Blog! We know you must be ready for some new recommendations...

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Maniña Carmenere - 2004

**Unfortunately, no picture can be found of this wine at the time...we'll try to take one of our own and post it soon!**

Wow, did we stumble upon a winner or what? As you might or might not know, the Wine Gal & Wine Guy's wine of choice is Carmenere (I can't believe this is the first time we have reviewed this type of's our favorite....we also like Carmen Carmenere, Casa Silva Carmenere, and one other...can't think of the name right now). Well we saw one at Trader Joe's in Indianapolis and decided to give it a shot. It was the best $6 we ever spent on wine. The Maniña Carmenere is definitely our favorite type of Carmenere that we have come across yet. All of the Carmeneres we have tasted are from Chile, and from what we've read, we believe that is the only country that produces this wonderfully delicious wine.

We regret to inform you that we did not take tasting notes right away, and we drank this about 2 weeks ago so the exact flavors are not on the tip of our tongues, so to speak! However, we did find a similar review of this wine on the web, so some of the information below has been "borrowed" from that review. We apologize for the incomplete review. Next time we find this wine we'll update the post. But for now, here goes...

Date tasted: Sometime in early April 2006
Winery name & location: Maniña Vineyards, Maipo Valley, Chile
Grape/blend: Carmenere
Vintage: 2004
Taste: full-bodied, herbaceous, spice, hints of fruit, quite smooth.
Thoughts/info from wine label: The wine label reads, "This Carmenere is full bodied with generous fruit flavors and an intriguing spice, found only in Carmenere." While we didn't notice as much of the fruit flavors, the bottle is right on when it describes the "intriguing spice". It's a spice that will keep you coming back for more!

The alcohol content of this wine is 13.5%.

Bottom line: go out and buy this wine NOW. It will not disappoint.

Below is our rating for this wine:

Wine Gal's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOOOO
Wine Guy's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOOO 1/2
Five grapes and four and a half grapes, respectively...the closest we've come to "the perfect wine".

Link to winery's website: No website

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bogle Vineyards Petite Sirah - 2004

To quote the Wine Guy: "This wine is my birth into loving dry reds."

Mmmmm is all Wine Gal can say about this one. I was in the mood for something smooth & rich and this wine did not disappoint. Both the Wine Gal & Wine Guy are fairly inexperienced with the Petite Sirah grape, but I think it might be one of Wine Gal's new faves! :) Definitely recommend this one for just sipping on a lazy night, or it would also pair nicely with hearty foods such as steak, Italian, or other rich & flavorful dishes.

The wine was only about $7 or $8 at Trader Joe's...when the Wine Guy and I were in Indianapolis volunteering for the Final Four Tournament we decided to stop in and grab some different wines, and we're glad this is one that we chose! Read on to learn more about this full-bodied dry red.

Date tasted: 4/14/2006
Winery name & location: Bogle Vineyards, Clarksburg & Lodi, California
Grape/blend: Petite Sirah
Vintage: 2004
Color: deep purple, almost a rich magenta
Taste: full-bodied, jammy flavors, berry flavors, and hints of richness like dark chocolate. The richness lingers in your mouth on the finish.
Aroma: very rich & intense - dark chocolate, leathery, toasty
Thoughts/info from wine label: The wine label does not tell anything about this wine except its alcohol content (13.5%). The winery's website, however, lists this information about the wine: "Trademark inky and jammy tones fill the mouth with ripe fruit and berries. The voluptuous finish lingers with toasty oak and lush fruit. The firm tannins make this a wine that can develop for years to come, but you won’t want to wait that long to enjoy it!"

This wine was consumed on its own - we did not pair it with any food. It was definitely a tasty treat and a great way to wind down for the evening. Wine Guy was focused on a project while drinking this wine, so he apologizes for not having as much to say about it. Wine Gal, however, will be raving about this one for some time. It's definitely one of her (my) new favorites! :)

Below is our rating for this wine:

Wine Gal's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOOO
Wine Guy's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOOO
Four grapes from both of us!! Looks like a winner!!!

Link to winery's website:

Friday, March 31, 2006


Greetings fellow wine enthusiasts! Let me begin by welcoming all of you to our small piece of the Internet, "The Wine Duo." Feel free to read our reviews and leave your comments. If you have any suggestions for wines you appreciate, please feel free to let us know. We are constantly adding new reviews and as always, look forward to hearing your feedback.

Trimbach Pinot Gris - 2002 Reserve

For all of you white wine lovers, we are finally reviewing a white wine!!! Hooray! :) And the best part is, this is an excellent choice. If you are a fan of Pinot Grigio, you are going to love Trimbach's Pinot Gris (same grape, but some winemakers refer to it as "grigio" and others refer to it as "gris".)

This is a delightful dry white wine - a little pricier than soe might like to pay (around $20) but well worth it. If you don't like spending $20 on a bottle of wine, I say you should still get this and just save it for a special occasion! We bought our bottle at Big Reg Liquors in Bloomington, IN.

Here are our notes...

Date tasted: Sometime in January of '06
Winery name & location: Trimbach; Alsace - Ribeauville, France
Grape/blend: Pinot Gris
Vintage: 2002 Reserve
Color: bright, crisp, yellow
Taste: There is a lot going on here...smoky, citrus, and floral
Aroma: Floral and citrus
Thoughts/info from wine label: The Wine Guy and I noted that this was a "very tasty treat." It was unlike any other Pinot Grigio I've ever had. It went wonderfully with the food we paired it with (salmon, garlic potatoes, and asparagus), and it was great on its own as well. It is very refreshing, crisp, and has a hint of richness.

The wine label states that it is, "Fresh yet full-bodied, vibrant and refined...a rich, dry white wine." Additionally, it is 13% alcohol.

Interesting story about this particular winery - it has been family-run by the Trimbach's since 1626. Talk about history!!!

The Wine Gal actually liked this one a little better than the wine guy, but both had strong positive feelings about this are our ratings:

Wine Gal's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOOO 1/2 (Four and a half grapes! Oh my!)
Wine Guy's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOOO - (Four grapes!!)

Link to winery's website:

Michele Chiarlo Barbera D'Asti - 2003

Wow, what a surprise!! This is an Italian red wine that I had absolutely NO CLUE about when I bought it. I got it from a little eclectic grocery store in Bloomington, IN, called Sahara Mart. It was on sale, which made me a bit wary of it because I figured they just weren't selling much of it so it probably wasn't any good. BUT, I thought I'd give it a try and I am so glad I did! (The Wine Guy is very excited that I did too!!)

The wine was only about $6.99 and I plan on making another trip to the Sahara Mart for a few more bottles of this hidden gem.

Here are my tasting notes for this light-to-medium bodied dry red...

Date tasted: 3/31/2006
Winery name & location: Michele Chiarlo (pronounced Mik-KELLY Key-ARE-low), Calamandrana, Italy
Grape/blend: Barbera
Vintage: 2003
Color: bright cherry/crimson
Taste: medium-bodied, cherry flavors, strong tannins, medium acidity
Aroma: rich & ripe, fruity - cherry, raspberry scents
Thoughts/info from wine label: The taste is lighter than the smell. It really reminded the Wine Guy and I of a Pinot Noir. The label says that, "The Barbera grape is a native to Piedmont, and Barbera from Asti is generally considered to be Italy's best, yielding wines of superier fruit intensity and fragrance. Michele Chiarlo Barbera d' Asti is a supple, medium-bodied wine of velvety texture and depth a perfect choice for flavorful food."

We drank this wine first on its own, and then with a meal of herb & garlic marinated chicken, corn, smashed red potatoes, and salad. On its own the wine tastes lighter, and with food the flavors are brought the the forefront much more. Wine Guy thought that it was spicier with food.

According to the wine's website, it was aged in oak for 8 months and the alcohol content is 13.36%.

We were both highly impressed with this wine. Drumroll please........

Wine Gal's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOOO (FOUR GRAPES!!)
Wine Guy's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOOO - Four grapes...finally we agree on one! :)

Link to winery's website:

Monday, March 06, 2006

MacMurray Ranch Pinot Noir - 2004

This was a nice treat, but a little over-priced I'd say. The Wine Guy and I were nestled in one February evening and decided it would be fun to open this wine to enjoy wtih our goat cheese/tomato/basil dip and garlic bread. It was a bit smokier than I usually prefer for a Pinot Noir, but still had the light body of my fave Pinots.

This wine was purchased at Big Red Liquors in Bloomington, IN, and cost approximatley $17. Like I said before, I think it should probably be a little maybe in the $10-12 range. Don't know I'd spend $17 for it again, but that's just me.

Here are my tasting notes for this light bodied dry red...

Date tasted: 2/18/06
Winery name & location: MacMurray - Sonoma Coast (Russian River Valley)
Grape/blend: Pinot Noir
Vintage: 2004
Color: light crimson
Taste: light oak, spicy finish (Wine Guy tasted berries)
Aroma: light spice, bacon, oak
Thoughts/info from wine label: The Wine Guy and I noted that we liked this one a lot. He picked up berry flavors right away, and after the wine had been exposed to the oxygen for a while I began to get these flavors too. This one is 13.5% alcohol, and the bottle read, "This wine has distinctive cherry & strawberry flavors accentuated by sweet vanilla notes & spice."

I definitely tasted the spice, and overall I thought this was a very smooth, easily drinkable wine. It would probably pair well with any type of meat, pasta, or just with cheese and appetizers.

We were a little split when rating this one...

Wine Gal's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOO 1/2 (three and a half grapes)
Wine Guy's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OOOO (four grapes! Holy Canoli!)

Link to winery's website:

Firestone Vineyard Syrah - 2001

All I can really say about this wine is "ehhh...". I bought it from a liquor store called Bubbles in Castle Rock, Colorado. Okay, okay, I'm just going to admit to you that my primary motivation for buying this was because it comes from the Firestone Vineyard, which is the vineyard owned by Andrew Firestone, the former star of NBC's reality show, "The Bachelor". I figured if Andrew looked so cute, his family's winery must be able to produce some good wine. (Hopefully the Wine Guy doesn't get made about these comments...hehe) Too bad I was 100% wrong about that and basically wasted $11.99.

Here are my notes on this dry red wine...

Date tasted: 1/23/06
Winery name & location: Firestone - Santa Ynez Valley, CA
Grape/blend: Syrah (also sometimes referred to as "Shiraz")
Vintage: 2001
Color: deep magenta or a black cherry color
Taste: peppery with rich tannins
Aroma: smoky, peppery, rich, hints of caramel
Thoughts/info from wine label: This wine, despite aging for five years, tasted extremely tight and acidic when we first opened the bottle. We paired it with cheese tortellini with a spicy marinara sauce, salad, and garlic bread. The legs were very strong, but the flavor just wasn't there. It reminded me of an extremely cheap wine that was mass produced (i.e. Turning Leaf or something of that sort).

Wine Guy tasted a lot of pepper at first and then after the wine was exposed to some air, he began to taste vanilla. I agreed, but it still wasn't anything to write home about. It took all we had to gulp down just one glass of this...after that we sent it on a long journey down the drain.

Wine Gal/Wine Guy's Five Grape Tasting Scale: OO (two grapes!)

Moral of the story girls...don't buy it just because you had a thing for Andy Firestone.

Link to winery's website:

120 Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon - 2004

I bought this wine from Trader Joe's in Chicago last summer. I think it cost about $6.99 or something like that. Now, my experiences with Trader Joe's wines in the past have been so-so. Some are good, some are huge disappointments. Keep in mind, this blog is for the casual wine drinker, not someone who can throw down $50-100 per bottle of wine! Also keep in mind that sometimes the $5 bottle of wine is just as good as the $50 bottle.

*This is a dry red wine from Chile.

With all of that said, here are my notes on the 120 Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon from my personal wine log:

Date tasted: 1/16/06
Winery name & location: Santa Rita - Rapel Valley, Chile
Grape/blend: Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage: 2004
Color: burgundy/deep crimson
Taste: vanilla, caramel, cherry, cranberry
Aroma: vanilla, leather, oak, rich berries
Thoughts/info from wine label: It was much better than I expected, especially based on the boring/generic label! It had strong, tall legs. Despite its youth (most Cabs are good when aged 5-10 years and this one was just a year old), the wine still had a delightful flavor. It was lighter-bodied than I expected (which I have found true with other young cabs), and also had a fruitier taste than other Cabs I've tasted in the past. Part of this wine was aged in French & American oak for four months, while the rest was matured in stainless steel. It had definite earthy flavors!

Basically, I would totally suggest this wine to anyone looking for an inexpensive but full flavored Cab. I sucked this wine down so fast that Wine Guy did not get to taste any of it. I drank it all on its own with no food pairings whatsoever. It was truly a tasty treat.

Based on the Wine Gal/Wine Guy five-grape tasting scale, I give this wine FOUR GRAPES!

Winery's website: