2010 Cicchitti Malbec

Mendoza, Argentina; 13.5% ABV
$8 for 375ml at the Berkeley, CA, store on 9 Apr

2010_Cicchitti_MalbecThis wine and the other half-bottles of Argentinian reds from Cuesta del Viento are apparently only at a few stores, including Berkeley, Oakland, and Redwood City.  I was skeptical about Argentinian wines at this price in the GO, but curiosity got the better of me during the sale.

I think I can see why some people liked this well enough to buy it for the GO, but it’s not really to my taste.  The color is on the lighter side, both in color (more red than purple) and in saturation.  The flavors are purple cherry, redder plum, prune, and funky brown earth.  The texture is gentle and softly textured, and overall it’s a reasonably tasty and engaging wine.  Nonetheless, I find the flavors a little weird, in a sort of artificially flavored candy, or maybe slightly spoiled, sort of way.  Others may like it (I’d like to hear from you if you do, or if you don’t for that matter), and I’d normally give this Drinkable, but at this price, I have to go with Thumbs Down.  For $16 / 750ml, to my taste, one can do much better at the GO.

Still Wine Company Non Vintage Red Wine, Columbia Valley, WA $3.99

Silverdale, WA    13% alc.    (Purchased on 4/9/14)

IMG_1465Last night regular reader/contributor rgardner2 said about this wine: “Not to my liking and I will return (I’ve never returned to GO before!). I let it air 30 minutes before trying. Thin, jammy, vanilla bomb. Two sips was all I could stand. Then mouth started puckering. Vanilla so strong it was as if they had added vanilla extract. Never tasted anything like it.”

I never got any vanilla flavors (too bad because any flavor might have been a plus!) and I would hardly call this wine jammy (a term usually used to describe super-ripe reds), but like RG…I’ll be returning my mostly full bottle too.

My notes: Brilliant pale ruby…almost like a deeply colored rose’.  Somewhat foul aromas of burnt wood and rubber with a faint hint of cherry Kool Aid.  In the mouth it’s seriously thin, watery, tart and acidic with no discernible fruit or oak.  Best described as pale red lemony water…tasteless, without body or texture…a complete waste of time and money.  Yuk!  This is right up there with the worst wines I’ve ever had from GO.  I’d even go so far as to say that this wine is an embarassment to the state’s industry.  Think I don’t like it?

2009 Robert Oatley Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir, Australia $8.99

Silverdale, WA    13% alc.   (Purchased on 4/9/14)

IMG_1461I’ve generally been quite impressed with the quality of the various Robert Oatley wines I’ve tried, so thought this was likely a safe bet…especially at the sale price of $7.19.

Clear pale ruby with the slightest bit of orange tone around the rim.  Nose shows pure black cherry fruit, smoke and cinnamon spice with some earthiness.  In the mouth, it’s light in texture with little tannin and excellent acidity; the flavors show more dark cherry, mushroomy earthiness and spice.  Has an understated Burgundian feel to it in nose, flavors and finish…including a touch of dirty socks funkiness.

I like it, but in comparison to some other decent Pinots that have shown up at GO over the last few years, I feel that the price is a little steep.  So if you’re inclined to give it a try…buy it during the sale.

2007 Maorou

Plo du Maorou vineyard, Vin de Pays de Hauterive, France
36% Syrah, 34% Carignan, 30% Grenache; 14.5% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 9 Apr

2007_MaorouI thought this wine, in its tall, heavy bottle, made in France from grapes I like, seemed very promising.  At least on the first night open, the wine did not meet my hopes.

On first pour, its decent complex of red fruits was overwhelmed by strong acid.  Over the next 2hr 40min in a glass, the wine did darken and add some weight, to show flavors of red and purple cherries, red and black raspberries, and boysenberry.  For a while, around 90 minutes of air, it seemed to promise opening into something quite subtly complex, but it never delivered on that promise.  Instead, it stayed fairly simple and sharply acid, even with dinner of fatty pork sausages.

I’ve saved half of this bottle in a 375ml bottle with a stopper and very little air.  I’ll update this post or comment after I open the second half, but I wanted to get this out quickly.  Any other opinions?

Update next day:  The second half, with a little more air in the glass, is indeed quite good:  The wine’s closed nature has opened to show rich, complex, tangy, dark fruits of plum, cherry, blackberry, raspberry, with earth and a little lighter prune and tobacco.  The fruit is still sort of hard, and the wine is still sort of acid, but it’s very good and a very good wine with food.  Upgrade to Thumbs Up, especially at the sale price.

So, how do you get this effect at home?  Maybe four hours of air in a covered decanter?  More research is required.  :)

Barrymore 2011 Pinot Grigio

Delle Venezie IGT, Italy; imported by Wilson Daniels; 12% ABV
$4 at the Oakland, CA, store on 6 Apr

2011_Barrymore_PinotGrigioHad I known this was the project of Drew Barrymore, I might have skipped it.  However, its nice greenish color, from a region (northeast Italy) from which I like the Pinot Grigio, and the low price, compelled me to get it right away.  And, indeed, I like it!  I guess I need to give Ms. Barrymore more credit.  :)

This full-flavored wine is dominated by juicy acid of lime / green apple, but also shows Pinot Grigio’s pear and straw.  It’s pleasantly crisp with a little minerality, and very tasty overall.  Made from the same grape, it’s an interesting contrast with the still-available Helfrich 2008 Steinklotz Pinot Gris.  Just in time for warmer weather here in the San Francisco Bay area!

Bordeaux Standard 2006 Saint-Émilion

Saint-Émilion, Bordeaux, France
60% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon; 12.5% ABV
$7 at the Oakland, CA, store on 2 April.  Likely not there now.  More at the Richmond store on 5 April.

BordeauxStandard_2006_SaintEmilionI bought this bottle because I thought the Bordeaux Standard 2004 Haut-Médoc was pretty good.  This Saint-Émilion is also pretty good.

Although it’s not saying that much, the Saint-Émilion is heavier and richer than the Haut-Médoc, but it strikes me as less complex.  After about 1:40 of air in a decanter, this wine shows softly textured cherry and blackcurrant fruit with some slightly funky brown earth and a hint of green bell pepper.  I’m not that wild about it, but as with the HM, it’s real Bordeaux in a way that a lot of GO Bordeaux is not.  If you’re into that, this is reasonably priced, nicely aged wine.

2007 Vavasour Pinot Noir

Awatere Valley, Marlborough, New Zealand; 14% ABV
$7 at the Richmond, CA, store on 4 Apr

2007_Vavasour_PNAfter the 2008 Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc was so good, I jumped on this bottle, and the wine completely justified my impulse.

Not that I have a huge sample size, but this wine is the darkest and richest New Zealand Pinot Noir I have tasted.  It needed about 1.5 hours of air, but then showed flavors of very dark cherry / kirsch, plum, cola, Pinot funk, and dark aromatic spice / black earth.  It’s more fruity and not as dry-earthy, but it reminded me of some nice Burgundies I’ve tasted.  Although I usually prefer the light and airy style of Pinot Noir, I found this wine spectacularly delicious for the price.  I expect it will go very quickly during the sale, and maybe before.

2010 Okanogan Riesling

Washington state; 12.7% ABV
$7 at the Oakland, CA, store on 2 April

2010_Okanogan_RieslingThis was one of only two bottles in an open case of the 2009 Okanogan Gewürztraminer on the shelf at the Oakland store, so I don’t know how much of this is actually around.  Has anyone seen it?  Anyway, I liked the Riesling, too.  It went well with bockwurst from the GO fried up with onion, steamed cauliflower, and herb bread from a local bakery.

Also off-dry, this wine was nicely balanced between yellow and green fruit, and between sweet fruit and acid, bitterness, and minerality.  Its main flavors were yellow apple, white pear, and green apple, with a fairly clear and clean character.  After about an hour of air, its character softened and became a little more complex with the addition of yellow / green melon.  It’s pretty tasty wine for $7, although probably competitive with Ste. Chapelle 2011 Special Harvest Riesling (still in stores near me for $5) in terms of what you get for the money.

2009 Okanogan Gewürztraminer

Washington state; 12.8% ABV
$8 at the Oakland, CA, store on 2 April

2009_Okanogan_GewurzThe price seemed a bit expensive for GO standards, but the bottle had a nice label and, really, how often do we see a Gewürztraminer?  To my taste, it’s definitely New World not Old, but I’m pretty happy with it.

The inviting nose smells of white and yellow flowers and yellow peach / lighter apricot.  On the palate of this off-dry wine, there’s much more of the same plus some light spiciness and bitterness of orange peel, with a decent fruit – acid balance.  It paired well with the chicken (organic thighs from the GO!) I cooked with grapefruit marmalade, powdered ginger, white pepper, and some of the wine.  Although the “Elsewhere” price is not that much more than the GO price, maybe $12 or $13 IIRC, but this is nonetheless not bad for $8.  I may get another bottle or two if I find it during the sale.

I said it’s New World because of the ripeness level, higher than I recall you’d usually find in an Alsatian Gewurz.  However, the winery is just 5 miles south of the US – Canada border, although I guess that doesn’t tell me where the grapes were grown.

In the box full of Gewurz, there were also two bottles of 2010 Okanogan Riesling, which turned out to be $7 when I bought one of them.

Spring 2014 Wine Sale


Starting in one week, it’s the Spring sale — 20% off all wines Wednesday through Sunday — this time April 9th to 13th.  Comment on this post to let us know what you plan to stock up on, or let us know after you’ve gotten it home if there’s any left where you found it, or any other related thoughts.  Cheers and happy hunting!