Monthly Archives: May 2012

Grocery Store Wines – Los Vascos, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; Colchagua Valley Chile


Domaines Barons de Rothschild [Lafite]/Los Vascos, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; Colchagua Valley Chile′

For a while now I have thought about reviewing and categorizing what I would consider “Grocery Store” wines.  These would be wines that you happen to come across while doing your weekly shopping, advertised bargains [love those!], non-advertised sales [love those even more!], a bottle you may pick up on the way to a dinner party etc.  Your standard variety wine which you can pretty much get anywhere; some people swear by them others avoid them like the plague. Luckily as the general wine drinking public expands their horizons so have grocery stores when considering the selections and variety they stock including some very nice higher end options.  Of course location may define a Grocery Store wine but for the most part I will use this as a generalized term including everything from a two buck special to high-end wines which some people would never consider buying with their hard-earned $$. RULE: The wine must be available at a grocery store but with one caveat; I may go as far as including drug stores since their wine inventory is ever-increasing also.

The icing on the cake [or some may say fate] for my Grocery Store idea was pretty much sealed when about two weeks ago I was hired to be a Wine Steward for the grocer WINN-DIXIE [as covered in a recent blog post]. Grocery store wines some may ask? Welcome to my world 🙂

I have chosen the Chilean Los Vascos to be my first Grocery Store wine selection. Being completely honest I was first drawn to this wine in particular because of its SALE price. Secondly by the fact that it was from Chile and I love my South American wines. As I have started to research I am now also impressed by its pedigree:

Los Vascos one of Chile’s oldest wine estates is managed by Domaines Barons de Rothschild [Lafite], who began a comprehensive modernization and investment program in 1988. The 560 hectare vineyard is located in the Cañeten valley of the Colchagua province which offers a pre-phylloxera Bordeaux rootstock.

My notes: Color, a rich dark garnet. At opening and prior to officially decanting I detected a strong wood [oak] scent on the nose. Not overly strong but detectable up front with more dark fruit scents [plum, raisin] as it breathed. Interestingly enough as I describe the scent as “dark fruit” I also detected some strawberry on the nose so it may be more accurately described as a combination of both.  Also noticeable on the nose was a distinct earthy, terroir, barnyard aroma that faded and somehow turned to a guava/fig scent as the wine opened over 30 minutes. As we began to sip and let the wine sit in our mouth I was very impressed with its smoothness. No heat or burn from alcohol. That is something to be said for a young mass-produced wine.  On the palate I detected; the same fruits referenced on the nose with the addition of cherry and black pepper on the finish. The finish was solid but not overly lingering which balanced well with the overall smooth factor and drinkability of this wine.

Grocery store retail price on this wine is about $12.50. Reasonable indeed if it were not on sale. Between manufacturer coupon and grocery in-store sale [in this case Winn-Dixie go figure]  the price was somehow actually reduced to $4.85! As you can imagine the wine was a big hit but just as surprisingly I think the sale scared off some possible buyers because of its low price and the shoppers own perceived price:quality ratio.  Unfortunately the sale price went up to $6.89 the following week but it is still selling well.

At a $12.00 price range, even though it is reasonably priced, I am not sure I would go out of my way to buy this wine. I would think twice or consider other options, even after admitting that I rather enjoyed it. At $4.00-$7.00 the decision is easy; BUY IT! Sure hope that $4.85 offer comes around again. ¡Salud!

From the winemaker’s web-site:

Cabernet Sauvignon is the classic production of Los Vascos, and is the grape that made the estate famous. The vintages all share a mature and fruity quality, fresh aromas, and a supple and fleshy structure. This wine has a sparkling ruby-red colour and a pleasantly fruity nose with aromas of black cherries, raspberries and plums, all with a hint of spice. This is a silky, flavourful wine, with a supple tannin structure. A great classic

Vintage 2010

There was a very dry period during the winter months (463 mm of rain compared to 726 mm the previous year), but carefully planned, controlled irrigation ensured a normal growth cycle. Low temperatures in the spring during flowering resulted in some flower abortion, and thus slightly less generous bunches of grapes. Production was reduced by 15% compared to the annual average (8.5 tons/ha vs. 10 tons/ha) but this resulted in greater concentration and remarkably well-balanced grapes.

Bright ruby red colour. Remarkably expressive, fruity nose: aromas of blueberries, cherries, blackcurrants and raspberries blending perfectly with notes of pink pepper, paprika, curry and saffron. Velvety, full-bodied and seductive in the mouth with mild acidity and gentle tannins giving very pleasant mouthfeel.


The wine world is ever changing. SALUD!

The Oenophiliac

The first screwcap for sparkling wines has been released – and it claims to solve the problems of taint, loss of sparkle and ease of opening.


The closure, called ‘Viiva‘, is the result of five years of research and development between Guala Closures Australia, glass manufacturer O-I, and De Bortoli Wines.

At present Viiva is restricted to sparkling wines produced by the tank fermentation or charmat method and is not suitable for wines made by in the traditional method with secondary fermentation in bottle.

It is anticipated to find strongest support in the on-premise market, especially for wines by the glass, and for larger events such as banquets and conventions.

Feedback had identified major issues in these sectors as taint, loss of carbonation and ease of opening; according to the manufacturers the new closure solves all three.

The seal is released by a double twist…

View original post 103 more words

May 25th – National Wine Day

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see filename (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friday May 25th 2012 – National Wine Day

As if I needed another excuse to imbibe! I came across this interesting article referencing the occasion. It also provides some history along with information on how “days” like these are officially classified.

I hereby nominate everyday to be Wine Day! ¡Salud!

From article;

In 2011, America became the largest wine consuming nation by volume. More Americans are drinking wine, but our per capita consumption is still relatively low in comparison to other countries.

Dr. Loosen Bros. 2010 Riesling/ Dr. L Mosel

Dr. Loosen Bros. 2010 Riesling
Ripe grapes of Riesling.

Ripe grapes of Riesling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We discovered this medium sweet wine last year at one of our wine tasting classes. At the time I was not a fan of “sweet wines” but thanks to Dr. Loosen and others I have tasted over the last year I can now say that my taste for varied wines continues to develop. Riesling whether sweet or dry truly is the perfect match for spicy or spiced foods. It also pairs beautifully with bold cheeses.

This German Riesling in particular comes from Mosel; one of 13 German wine regions.  In terms of output it is Germany‘s third largest and known for its steep slopes facing the Mosel River.


Ürzig/Mosel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is just what the Doctor ordered!  [Couldn’t resist that line]  The name of course also stuck with me. How many Doctor wines have you come across? Of course now I’ve noticed a few, mostly from Germany.
We drank this wine over two nights which is something I never do. In fact 5 days between the opening and killing of this bottle. Luckily I am glad to report that the wine was delicious on both occasions albeit a little smoother as it aged. I believe this to be due to the sugar content and refrigerated coolness.
On the nose I noted a champagne like aroma that I would describe as yeasty minerality. Scents detected were; green fruits such as apple and it came across as crisp/dry and was straw in color. My palate discovered; honeysuckle, citrus, honey with even pineapple as it warmed in the glass. I would further describe it as having medium body and medium acidity.
At $11.99 retail and after a few purchases I would say this Riesling is a good reliable choice. There are many others in this price range and others I also like, such as; Charles Smith‘s KUNG FU Girl [gotta love the name!] and Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling’s. But I will leave those for another sweet day. SALUD!
Online info: Dr Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling
Dr. L Loosen Bros Riesling 2005

Dr. L Loosen Bros Riesling 2005 (Photo credit: Martin.Boyer)

Crisp, Peach, Citrus, Mineral, Light-bodied

Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany- Sourced exclusively from vineyards with steep slopes and slate soil, this wine embodies the elegant and racy style of classic Mosel Riesling. Displaying snappy peach and juicy citrus fruit highlighted by crisp mineral notes on the complex finish. Great value.

The Dr. Loosen estate has been in the same family for over 200 years. When Ernst Loosen (pronounced loh-zen) assumed ownership in 1988, he realized that with ungrafted vines averaging 60 years old in some of Germany’s best-rated vineyards, he had the raw materials to create stunningly intense, world-class wines.

To achieve this, Ernst dramatically reduced his crop size and stopped all chemical fertilization, preferring only moderate use of organic fertilizers. And, most importantly, he turned to gentler cellar practices that allow the wine to develop its full potential with a minimum of handling and technological meddling.

Careful what you wish for; I am officially now a Wine Steward.


De Margerie Brut Grand Cru, Champagne, FranceCelebrating with: Champagne De Magerie A Bouzy Grand Cru

As some of you may have noticed, I have been a bit out of the loop the last couple of weeks. The short version as to why is as follows:

Soon after my recent WSET [Wine and Spirits Education Trust] certification through Johnson and Wales University I was contacted by the grocer Winn Dixie to discuss an opening within their organization for a Wine Steward.  Approximately four meetings later including a final interview by a renowned Sommelier Master [yes, I was intimidated] the job was offered and  I accepted. HOORAY.

My responsibilities will include managing the Miramar FL wine department, dealing with vendors/distributors, assisting customers, working with other departments for food pairings, scheduling tastings etc. I am typing this posting on my first day off in eight days of what can only be described as a GRAND OPENING whirlwind!  Winn Dixie operates in 9 states and employs 63,000 people [I find that number staggering]. Within the last couple of years a new business model was designed and has begun to be put into place. The new stores are truly beautiful with expanded higher-end produce, deli, seafood, bakery, prepared foods, and most importantly a WINE department in addition to meat carving, pasta and pizza stations. The response has been incredible and I cannot tell you the amount of times our guests compare the store to Whole Food Market.  Here is a recent local newspaper story on our local Grand Openings:

Careful what you wish for; I am officially now a Wine Steward.  My hobby is now my career and it will be interesting to see how this moves forward.  This is an incredible opportunity for me to begin the second half of my career,  and even though I wished it would, I never in a million years would have thought this was attainable.  Thank you to the powers that be, my Whine and Cheers for Wine supporters/followers [my new employer LOVED the blog!] and most importantly my family and better half who didn’t blink twice when I decided it was time for a career change. I am one lucky wine lover.

So, since this is a wine blog;  I wanted to include a blurb on what we drank to celebrate.  Champagne De Magerie A Bouzy Grand Cru [$35-40.00] had come highly recommended and we were not disappointed. This Grand Cru Champagne is considered to be Brut but I must add that although dry, the texture proved that the acidity level on the tongue was perfect. It was a sensation to behold and one I hope to experience again soon. SALUD!

Dry,  Cherry, Berry, Toast, Medium-bodied

94 PT Beverage Dynamics – Champagne, France– “Simply gorgeous! A crisp, clean blend of 90% Pinot Noir and 10% Chardonnay from the famed Bouzy region. Pale gold in color, with a nose of red fruit, followed by a lively palate filled with pin-point bubbles that caress the palate into a long, refreshing finish.”

My Languedoc Day choice – 2009 Chateau de Landure Minervois


2009 Chateau de Landure Minervois

I’ve truly enjoyed using the excuse of Languedoc Day to learn about this region of southern France and its varietals. Historically the area which dates or even predates Roman times is amazing. For those with an interest please see my earlier post near the bottom for more information. I am also providing additional information about this winemaker below.

Luckily for my wallet Languedoc wines are reasonably priced with many falling in the $8-$24.00 range. My choice is from Total Wine & More and I picked it after studying the characteristics of each wine. Narrowing the choice down as I came across attributes that usually appeal to me; dark fruit, medium body etc.  I was originally drawn to a different 2010-11 vintage because of its RESERVE classification but decided on the Chateau de Landure because of its slightly older vintage. In my mind the extra time in the bottle would be beneficial not only to the personality of the wine but also to the imbiber, me of course.

As many from this region are this wine is a blend: 40% Syrah, 40% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre. As I decanted this wine I was surprised [pleasantly] to see its very dark rich color.  I would describe it as an intensive very dark purple nearing black. The color is truly something to see.  The aroma/bouquet was highly aromatic, very dark fruit forward with intense notes of raisin, currant and black pepper. As it opened I also noted; vanilla and violet. On the palate I detected many of the same with the continued strength of black pepper and stewed fruits; raisin/prune at its base.  Interestingly the medium tannin level seemed to strengthen on the finish.  Overall a very harmonious balance.

I did not expect the “New Worldliness” of this wine. I was expecting Old World style delicateness. This wine is bold and explosive. I truly enjoyed it and it was perfectly paired with our grilled rib-eye and roasted potato dinner. I would recommend this delicious French wine for those who prefer their wines dark, fruity and exciting.

I’ve saved the best for last, the price! An almost unbelievable $8.99. At this QPR [quality price ratio] I believe I will be going back for more.


chateau landure wine cave

Chateau Landure
Dating back to the Cathares, this wine estate in the very capable hands of Luc Rouvière and his family, has created a full bodied red wine that is superb in bag in box, or in bottle, as well as a newer Rosé that also exhibits a similar finesse.
This very pretty domaine, is a short drive from Bize Minervois on the road to Minerve and Saint Pons. The property dates back to        Cathar and no doubt pre Roman times. It was once part of the lands of Fontfroide Abbey.
It comprises 26 hectares, with Vins de Pays d’Oc and AOC.  The ground is clay and limestone and the vineyard grows the varieties of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan.

May 3rd Languedoc Day – My search is on!

Vinyard nr Perpignan, Languedoc region, France...

Vinyard nr Perpignan, Languedoc region, France 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ll be celebrating this weekend! Salud!

From YAHOO newswire;

Whole Foods Market & Forkly host a gift certificate giveaway in celebration of wines from Southern France’s Languedoc region
Denver, CO (PRWEB) April 30, 2012  During the month of May, Whole Foods Market and Forkly are joining wine aficionados across the US to celebrate Languedoc Day (May 3) and Chardonnay Day (May 24). The two companies are encouraging their customers and users to participate in the virtual celebrations with a giveaway of over fifteen Whole Foods gift certificates–and an even bigger gift to Forkly users ( and 21+ only) who post and rate Languedoc wine on May 3 and Chardonnay wine on May 24.

These virtual holidays aim to build awareness of the incredible range of wines from Languedoc region of Southern France with tastings, social media interaction (being tracked on twitter with hash tags #LanguedocDay and #ChardDay), and this year, through Forkly.

Whole Foods Market and both retail Languedoc wines and will make them easy to find on May 3—but even easier for Forkly users. Forkly, a free and popular iPhone app for global food and drink lovers, captures personal tastes—including wine tastes—and generates interaction around those tastes.

Bay Area sommelier Rick Bakas says: “The Languedoc (pronounced “long-dock”) produces many of the grape varieties you already know, including Syrah, Grenache, Viognier, and Mourvedre to name a few, as well as some you may not know like Piquepoul, Carignan, and Mauzac.”

He says of the celebration, “The appellations we’ll taste on May 3 blend these grapes into some of the most exciting wines coming out of France today. And many of the wines are very affordable with an average retail price of about $15.”

To participate, the public can: download the free Forkly app from the Apple store to learn about the Forkly and Whole Foods celebrations; register on the Languedoc Day eventbrite page (; and follow Whole Foods Market on Forkly to be entered for a gift certificate.

Here’s a description of the Languedoc region from

“The Languedoc, South of France, is France’s most dynamic wine region, where adventurous producers are redefining traditions and producing some of the country’s most exciting wines today. As the largest wine region in France, the Languedoc, South of France is blessed with some of the best terroir for winemaking in the country.  An auspicious blend of soil, wind, sun and the Mediterranean Sea produce naturally healthy vineyards and result in wines which wrap an enticing character in a voluptuously smooth mouthful. This is an area which has seen tremendous innovation, but which recognizes the gift of tradition and spirit of adventure. Languedoc produces a wealth of grape varieties, both indigenous and international, that flourish here along the Mediterranean coast.  The Languedoc includes over 20 AOCs and it is these wines which show Languedoc at its best. Join the adventure today and explore these wines!”

WSET Certification – Level I; It’s official!

Johnson & Wales University

Johnson & Wales University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



It’s official!

I am a certified Whine-O…The adventure continues. Bring on Level II! And more wine of course 🙂

                              HAVING SATISFIED THE EXAMINERS



College of Culinary Arts, Johnson and Wales University