Eco Terreno 2010 Three Vine Red

Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, CA
56% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Franc, 12% Petite Verdot; 13.8% ABV
$10 at the Oakland, CA, store on 11 Apr

EcoTerreno_2010_ThreeVineRedThis wine looked quite promising, made from three Bordeaux grapes including a good portion of Petite Verdot, in a region where they can make good wines, in an excellent year.  However, it turns out it’s made in a style I don’t like very much.

On opening, the wine immediately shows ripely sweet red fruit with strong vanilla / oak, overall with a rather candied character.  It darkens over a couple hours of air in a decanter to show flavors of red cherry, darker cherry / redder blackberry, and raspberry, still with the same sweet candy nature and reasonably balancing acid.  Although I don’t like this kind of wine, I think many people do.  Given that, this wine is pretty tasty and solidly made, so I’ll nonetheless go with Thumbs Up.

2012 Wines of Substance Cabernet Sauvignon

Columbia Valley, WA
13.8% alc.
$10 at Renton, WA (before the sale price)

20140411_072601_resized (2)Both the Merlot and Syrah version from this label have been previously reviewed. I liked both of those wines so I sprang for the extra bucks to try this one with some expectations coming along with it.

Dark garnet in color. Pretty closed nose with cherry, light spice, and an off smell I couldn’t place. Cherry and plum on the palate with cocoa and slight spice. Nice balance of fine tannins and acidity in the finish. The off note in the nose however kept creeping up and I don’t know if I was too focused on it, but it kept me from really enjoying this wine (although the bottle did get finished). I give it a drinkable, but my money is on the Merlot and Syrah at a better price point and there are better Cabernets out there.

2010 Ste. Chapelle Snake River Valley Late Harvest Riesling, Idaho $3.99

Silverdale, WA    12.5% alc.    375 ml.    (Purchased on 4/9/14)

IMG_1470Brilliant medium golden color.  Just like the 2008, the nose is delightful…sweet, honeyed, peaches, nectarines and apricots.  I could smell it for hours and not have even a sip (o.k., I’m exaggerating slightly).  In the mouth it’s thick, but not syrupy, smooth, quite sweet (but at about 16 percent residual sugar, not quite as sweet as the 2008) and equally as delicious.  The flavors match the fruits of the bouquet…mainly yellw/orange stone fruits.  The acidity balances the sugar.

Another wonderful sweet, delicious dessert Riesling from a producer who consistently knows how to do it well.  Peaches in lemon-touched syrup lingers in the finish.  Grab a bottle or three of this treat and pour it nice and cold over fresh grilled skinned peaches in the summer.  Add a plop of vanilla ice cream too!  Should note also that the alcohol on this one is slightly higher than the 2008 and the price is a buck more (which is still incredibly reasonable for what you’re getting).

Sawkar Family Vineyards Non-Vintage Red Blend

Syrah and Cabernet Franc from Sonoma Mountain, and Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California; 13.5% ABV
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 9 Apr

Sawkar_NV_RedBlendI picked this up as soon as I saw it since the 2003 Sawkar Reserve Merlot was so good.  This wine is reasonably good, but is very close to going over the hill, if not slightly past.

The wine is pretty tasty at first pour, but seems a little closed, promising more with air.  It steadily darkens over 2.5 hours in a decanter, showing nicely melded flavors of dark red cherry, redder blueberry and blackberry, and maybe some black pepper.  The body is only medium, and the acid has a tinge of vinegar.  I guess if you’re going to have it right away, you can say it’s Drinkable, but I think you can do better for $5 at the GO, with the Zelus Red, for example.

2012 Wines Of Substance WA State Syrah, $5.99

Silverdale, WA    14.8% alc.   (Purchased on 4/9/14)

IMG_1464Another economy-priced product from the well-reputed owners of Grammercy Cellars and Water’s Winery in Walla Walla.  Be sure to check out their trippy web site.  I can get myself dizzy just looking at it!

Brilliant, somewhat lighter cherry/ruby color.  Nose is a little closed and tight, showing mostly cherry and raspberry aromas with a bit of smoke.  In the mouth, it’s  pretty light and soft with minimal tannins…leaning more toward the Grenache side of the Rhone variety spectrum with lots of berryish fruit, but also black coffee, light oak and more tannins in the finish.  Shows no signs of being a nearly 15% alcohol wine; no heat.  While it’s a light version of Syrah, it’s head and shoulders above the 2010 vintage that held no interest for me.  This is a seriously young Syrah, so it could potentially evolve and become slightly more complex in time.  A most respectable everyday red especially at the sale price of under five bucks.

2010 Tarkettle Road Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon, CA $8.99

Silverdale, WA    13.5% alc.    (Purchased on 4/9/14)

IMG_1463Mostly clear deep purple/garnet.  When first poured, I wasn’t terribly fond of this Cab; had difficulty finding anythig varietal about it.  But after an hour or two, it really opened up and changed drastically…showing cedar, dark chocolate, black plum and perhaps a bit of eucalyptus in the beautiful nose.  In the mouth, the tannins are very soft and accessible, but do lend structure and the acidity is right on (what can I say?  I’m a product of the 60′s/70′s).  The flavors show more chocolate, cedar and dark fruit.  Oddly, the tannins seem to surface more in the finish, but still in balance.  For me, this is a winner…fruit forward with oak in the background where it should be.  May hold well for 2-3 years, but…why?  Tastes great now.  (My apologies for the poor photo. Light colored print was tough to capture.)

For another view, Expat (one of our “regulars”) was not fond of this Cab.  You can check out his comments here.  I’m thinking that more air time might have improved your experience, Expat.  But again, maybe not.  Another contributor, Gary Valan thought the Cab was “outstanding”.  But he referenced it being from Alexander Valley…a completely different region from Paso Robles (Central Coast).  So now I’m curious…are there actually two different AVA Cabs from Tarkettle Road in our GO’s?


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.  :)