Gazela Rosé NV

February 14th, 2012 by The Male Panda

I picked up a bottle of this a few months back at World Market, forgot I had, and got another one recently. There’s not much to say about this wine other than that it tastes like slightly alcoholic, fizzy Kool-Aid. It’s somewhat cloying and effervescent and seems more like a wine cooler than actual wine. I guess I’d rate it about a 62 if forced to do so, but I would avoid at all costs.

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2007 Cartlidge & Brown Petite Sirah

September 8th, 2011 by The Male Panda

I picked this wine up last weekend at BevMo for 8 or 9 bucks. I’m generally a fan of petite sirah, so I was happy to grab this on sale. The winery is in Napa, but the bottle doesn’t indicate the origin of the grapes.

The blurb on the back of the bottle led me to believe this would be a fairly bold, jammy wine, but it’s surprisingly soft and delicate. There are notes of raspberry, orange blossom, and jasmine, accompanied by soft tannins and a short but pleasant finish. This wine strongly reminds me of some of the better petite sirahs I’ve had from wineries like David Bruce. 91 points.

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2008 Concannon Central Coast Petite Sirah

September 2nd, 2011 by The Male Panda

Another Trader Joe’s pick for $7, this was actually the second bottle I’ve had as I enjoyed the first one. I don’t have much else to say by way of context, so I’ll just get on with the review.

Despite clocking in at a fairly modest 13.5% ABV, there’s a noticeable bit of alcohol on the nose, but also hints of plum and rose hips. There’s a good balance of sweetness and acidity, plus additional notes of blackberry, raspberry, and jasmine. There are more tannins than I’d expect from a petite sirah, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and it lingers on the palette in a good way. Obviously at this price and age it’s not the most complex wine in the world, but it’s a great everyday drinking wine that works well with pasta dishes or grilled meats. 89 points.

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Maggio 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel

August 22nd, 2011 by The Male Panda

I picked this up today at World Market for $8 on sale. I’ve been into the Italian varietals lately, and this seemed like an interesting bottle. Old vine zins since to be all the rage lately, as I’ve seen many other bottles around lately.

As an old vine zin, I was fully expecting this to be a fruity and jammy wine, but the Maggio went well beyond my expectations. There are notes of black cherry, plum, and raspberry, along with pleasantly soft tannins, but the wine is dominated by its jammy thickness. It seems like it might open up and thin out a bit given a few more years in the bottle, but that sugar won’t go away. While there’s a lot to like here, the sweetness and viscosity keep me from giving it more than 87 points.

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Pierre Janny Bourgogne Chardonnay “Echavon” 2007

July 24th, 2011 by The Male Panda

This was the last case deal I got at Blanchard’s before moving out west. I think it was $77 for the case, which works out to about $6.50 a bottle. It’s a white Burgundy that, somewhat unusually for French wines, lists the varietal on the bottle (chardonnay, in this case).

I’d guess that the wine has spent some time in oak, but not a lot — it’s a fairly crisp wine, but with some richness and a medium yellow color that would indicate 6 months or so in the barrel. This is definitely not a California chardonnay; the flavors tend more toward kiwi and strawberry than the banana and vanilla you typically get from Napa. That said, it does have a touch of the buttery finish common to chardonnays and would never be confused for a sauvignon blanc. All in all, it’s a great chardonnay for those who don’t generally like the varietal, and rates a solid 89 points.

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2008 le Mas des Flauzières

March 7th, 2011 by The Male Panda

This was the other half of the case along with the Kumeu River I reviewed a while back. It’s a Côtes du Ventoux, which is part of the Rhône Valley, and is their La Réserve du Péreyras offering which is estate bottled at 12.5% ABV. I was slightly surprised to find that the wine comes with a screw top, but that’s increasingly common for wines that aren’t meant for long-term aging, even from more traditional wine producing regions.

This is a classic Côtes du Rhône style wine. I would have guessed it’s a blend of syrah and grenache, but according to the estate’s web site they grow syrah and cinsault. It’s fairly light bodied and fairly dry on the nose, while the palette is tart, fruity, and medium-dry. There are notes of strawberry, blackberry, and pomegranate, with a long finish that’s slightly herbal and grassy. I’ve had it with a few different meals and the best pairing was unsurprisingly steak, though other red meat dishes also work well. While this isn’t a classic wine to cellar for decades, it’s drinkable and complex at a young age, representing a modern take on a classic French style. 90 points.

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2009 Altovinum Evodia

March 7th, 2011 by The Male Panda

I’ve seen this wine around in a few stores, and I think I even bought a bottle a year or so ago. I got this one from Whole Foods for $8 or $9 a few weeks ago. It’s 100% grenache from Spain and comes in a bottle with a very modern, design-y label. One other thing to note is that the wine is a somewhat high 15% alcohol by volume.

The Evodia is rather full-bodied and jammy for a grenache, though the nose is light and floral like most other grenaches I’ve had. Perhaps owing to the high alcohol content, it’s fairly dry and astringent. There’s definitely some blackberry, cherry, and plum, with a little pepper and even a hint of vanilla on the finish. It’s not the most complex wine ever, and probably wouldn’t improve that much with age, but it’s a pleasant and approachable wine that’s great on its own or with strongly flavored foods like pizza or tapas. 86 points.

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Haut Marin Cuvee Marine 2009

February 16th, 2011 by The Male Panda

Blanchard’s was sampling this wine a while back, and I enjoyed it there so I picked up a bottle (I think it went for $9). While it doesn’t indicate varietals on the bottle, various online sources have pegged it as being 60% colombard, 20% ugni blanc, and 20% gros manseng.

While this wine initially comes off similar to a sauvignon blanc, the deeper flavors are a bit different. There’s more sweetness and richness, with a bit less acidity than your typical sauvignon blanc. Of course, the notes of melon, pear, and kiwi are what give rise to the comparison, and they’re there in force. The wine went well with the pork I tried it with, but would also work well with poultry or richer seafood dishes. It has a nice balance of crispness and richness, and of acidity and sweetness. 88 points.

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Vintjs Garnacha 2008

January 17th, 2011 by The Male Panda

I’m not quite sure how you’re supposed to pronounce Vintjs, but I was curious to try this wine since I haven’t seen much garnacha (grenache) at bargain prices ($6 from Trader Joes in this case). This wine is actually a blend of grenache, cabernet sauvigon, syrah, and merlot, but at 80% grenache I won’t begrudge the labeling.

Most Spanish reds I’ve had were primarily tempranillo, which probably says more about my exposure to Spanish wine than anything. This reminds me strongly of some Côtes du Rhônes I’ve had, which isn’t that surprising since many of those wines are primarily grenache as well. The Vintjs is light to medium bodied with notes of blackberry and plum, with a bit of pepper on the finish. It’s an approachable, easy-to-drink wine that still has character, and it should pair well with a wide variety of dishes from roast chicken to grilled lamb. 89 points.

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Fontezoppa 2009 Marche Bianco

January 12th, 2011 by The Male Panda

I picked this up at Whole Foods the other weekend on sale for 8 or 9 bucks. I don’t tend to drink a lot of white wine in the winter, but I like to have plenty around anyway since there are always meals that call for it. This is an Italian wine from the Tipica classification; the grape varietals aren’t listed on the bottle, but apparently it’s mostly maceratino.

While this is a very well balance and approachable wine, it’s not terribly memorable. It’s almost as if someone mixed together a bunch of different wines — a little pinot grigio, some sauvignon blanc, a dash of viognier, even a hint of riesling. This produces a wine well balanced in terms of sweetness and acidity, and there are some nice notes of melon and pear. On the other hand, nothing really leaps out you, so I can’t call it a great wine. It would make a great choice as a house white, but I can’t give it more than 84 points.

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