3 Merlots & a Bertolli

Merlot: Columbia Crest, 14 Hands, Bogle

Merlot: Columbia Crest, 14 Hands, Bogle

I was gifted a bottle of Merlot in the $10 price range & asked if I wouldn’t mind reviewing it…of course not!

So this is for you, Dominick…Thank you!

I decided to compare it with 2 other Merlots in the same price range and see how they stood on their own and up to food.

#1) 2011 Columbia Crest Grand Estates, Columbia Valley, Washington.

Smell: dried cherries, green herbs, vanilla.

Taste: cedar, dark chocolate, vanilla with a hot, dry tannic finish that lasted awhile on the palate. This wine was made to go with food.

#2) 2012 14Hands Vineyards, Columbia Valley, Washington.

Smell: very faint cedar, vanilla, cranberries.

Taste: assorted dried red/black fruit & smoke with a round mouth feel and soft tannins and short finish. Very drinkable on its own.

#3) 2011 Bogle Vineyards, California.

Smell: dirt, dark chocolate, dried cherries.

Taste: cherry, eucalyptus, with some earthiness in the soft, short finish. I was ambivalent about this.

I paired the wines with Bertolli’s Chicken Marsala & Roasted Redskin Potatoes. I love Bertolli! It’s so convenient to cut open a bag, pour the ingredients in a pan and heat it on the stove top. You are done in 15 minutes. Very good “sporkable” food.

Bertolli: Chicken Marsala & Roasted Redskin Potatoes

The Columbia Crest went well with the dish. The wine actually made the Marsala sauce a little sweeter (what’s not to like about that). I think that was from the vanilla aspect I kept tasting from the wine.

The 14Hands really did nothing to the food. I was a bit disappointed.

Bogle was a good pairing because it give the food a more earthy, robust flavor.

Overall, I would take Columbia Crest &  Bogle to a pizza party and everyone would like them.

The 14Hands, I would just enjoy on its own. It’s definitely for relaxing. I would even consider this a good Summer red wine.

Cheers Y’all!

Lori – Your Twisted Sommelier


Wine Tasting at CVS Pharmacy

Little Bottles of Wine with Little Bags of Chips

Little Bottles of Wine with Little Bags of Chips

I could not believe when I walked into my neighborhood CVS pharmacy and saw a barrel filled with airplane size bottles of Gallo wine right by the checkout. I was immediately drawn to the barrel and started digging through it like a kid searching for a special piece of candy in their Halloween bag.

I found a sample of all the varietals (5 to be exact) and I thought they were so cute (sad I know) that little bags of some of my favorite chips would be perfect to pair with the wine. So I got my 5 little bottles of wine and 5 little bags of assorted chips and headed home…I really did not do any drinking at CVS…

The list of wine: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pink Moscato, and Moscato.

Pinot Grigio: Smell: lemon, lime, green apple Taste: green apple, pear, citrus finish

Chardonnay: Smell: pear, vanilla. I doubt this wine saw the inside of a barrel, but maybe some wood chips were thrown in the tank. Taste: creamy vanilla, apple pie and bread.

Merlot: Smell: tobacco, liquid smoke, dirt Taste: dusty black cherries, cedar, tobacco.

Pink Moscato: Smell: strawberry, cherry, honeysuckle Taste: strawberry, cherry pie, lime daiquiri.

Moscato: Smell: honey, lime, roses, honeysuckle Taste: Key lime pie, honey, orange.

The list of chips: Lay’s Potato Chips, Fritos, Cheetos (crunchy), Funyuns, Cool Ranch Doritos. I won’t go into the flavors of each chip because I’m sure a lot of you have consumed a bag or two before.

Now for the pairings in order:

Lay’s with Pinot Grigio: chips became tangy, but the oil from the chips was cleansed by the wine. Not bad.

Chardonnay: the wine added a butter aspect to the chip and tempered the saltiness. Really good.

Merlot: the wine gave the chips and smoky flavor. Really good

Pink Moscato: the wine made the chips a little sweet but it wasn’t that bad.

Moscato: the wine made the chips sweeter than the Pink Moscato did. It was ok.

Fritos with Pinot Grigio: the Fritos at first were tangy and then turned funky and earthy. Not good.

Chardonnay: the Fritos were more oil flavored than butter.It was ok.

Merlot: the wine tempered the oil and salt in the Fritos and gave them a smokey flavor. Good.

Pink Moscato: interesting sweet/salty with the Fritos and the acidic strawberry bite from the wine, cleansed the palate.

Moscato: the wine sweetened the Fritos. It was weird..

Cheetos with the Pinot Grigio: the wine made the Cheetos tangy and tempered the cheesyness.

Chardonnay: nothing changed. It was a good pairing.

Merlot: smokey cheese! YUM!

Pink Moscato: wine was refreshing and the Cheetos were not as salty.

Moscato: the sweetness of the wine covered up the Cheetos. Not good.

Funyuns with Pinot Grigio: the wine made the Funyuns taste like hushpuppies and tarter sauce. I swear!

Chardonnay: the added more butter and salt flavors to the Funyuns. It was good.

Merlot: Smokey onion rings! Awesome!

Pink Moscato: the Funyuns sort of tasted like caramelized onions because of the slightly sweet wine.

Moscato: just sweet and onions. Weird.

Cool Ranch Doritos with Pinot Grigio: the wine enhanced the tangy herbal aspect of the chips. Good.

Chardonnay: the chips became butter and spice. Interesting.

Merlot: the chips made the wine become harsh and lose it’s smokey fruit flavors. Not good.

Pink Moscato: there was a little sweetness but then a celery flavor emerged after eating the chips. Strange.

Moscato: the sweetness of the wine covered up the spices in the chip and left a weird sweet corn flavor.

The best overall pairing with the wines was the Lay’s Potato Chips but the most interesting was the Funyuns.

So there you have it Twisted Peeps! Now I need to brush my teeth and drink a gallon of water because of all the sodium I have ingested. Or maybe I should go back to CVS and get some blood pressure medicine…..

Cheers Y’all!

The Chardonnay Experiment

A couple of weeks ago I decided to do a class on Chardonnay to teach people that it has a very versatile flavor profile depending on how it is treated, and if you are a man, you don’t have to “turn in your man card” if you drink it.

So some of the “Twisted Peeps” and I gathered for class. This actually happened on 2 separate occasions and not every class had the same wines. But I’m condensing it to one so this post won’t be so long…

The 1st Chardonnay was a 2010 Domaine L. Chatelain from Chablis. The alc level is 13%. I do not believe it was aged in oak barrels. Chablis is a small area in the Northern part of Burgundy in France. It is a very light wine with citrus and mineral elements. I found it to be very delightful for Summer and a couple of people thought it would be a good all around wine to serve at a party with light cheeses and seafood. A few Peeps thought it was sort of steely, or almost metallic, and some thought it so boring it needed food.

The 2nd was a 2010 Four Vines, Santa Barbara County called Naked. It is done in stainless steel tanks. You can find it in most restaurants. It is fruit forward with pineapple, pear, and cantaloupe elements. The alc level is 13.9%, which gives it body to handle different foods. The class really liked it and some said it had a “bubbly” feel. Even though it was popular with a lot of folks, some said it sort of became harsh as it warmed up.

The 3rd was a gamble. I took a store employee’s suggestion when I told him I needed a buttery Chardonnay. So I tried a 2010 River Road from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma. The alc level is 13.7%.  At first I really liked it even though it was not as buttery as I wanted. Some people liked it immediately and said it was fruity and spicy. As it warmed up, I thought it was becoming forgettable because it was losing the butter aspect. When I looked it up, it said it was done 40% in barrel and 60% in stainless..that’s maybe why it was only faintly buttery to me.

The 4th was a 2008 Ukiah Cellars from Mendocino County. The alc level is 13.8%. It was done in stainless using the Sur Lies method. Which is where the juice is in contact with the grape particles and yeast for a period of time. It gives the wine a creaminess and brings out a more bread flavor. To me this wine had apple and melon elements. Only a few folks liked it, and one person actually had a mild allergic reaction to it. Her sinus’ started to bother her. She really liked the wine, but it didn’t like her.

The final wine was a 2010 Rodney Strong Chardonnay from Chalk Hill, which is a small American Viticulture Area in Sonoma. The alc level is 14.5%. It was a favorite with a lot of people. It is very toasty vanilla, apple, pear and butter with a high alcohol level that could handle a ribeye. It was also done “Sur Lie” and aged in oak barrels, which made this wine robust.

I hope after I did my “experiment”…I didn’t confuse you Twisted Peeps too much. I just know that there are a lot of choices when it comes to styles of Chardonnay and people who belong to the “ABC Club” (Anything But Chardonnay) are missing out on some good wine. Remember…”life’s a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death”.

Drink up y’all!