Jacques Bourguignon Chablis 2008

December 13th, 2010 by The Male Panda

This was a $7 or $8 wine from Trader Joe’s. I bought a bottle a few months ago, enjoyed it, and grabbed a few more the next time we were at the store. It’s a white Burgundy that doesn’t list any varietals but is most likely an un-oaked chardonnay with perhaps a small amount of some other grapes in the mix.

Compared to your typical California chardonnay, this wine is more crisp and fruity than rich and buttery. It’s fairly light in body with notes of kiwi, green apple, and melon. It’s got a pleasant balance of tartness and sweetness, and a versatile character that would go well with anything from light fish and seafood dishes to rich poultry like the braised chicken we had with it. A perfectly drinkable wine on its own, but a great choice to go with a wide variety of meals. 88 points.

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Sincerity Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

December 1st, 2010 by The Male Panda

This was actually the first case deal I got from Blanchard’s at $5.50 per bottle back in March. I wasn’t really sure what to expect at the time, but it seemed like a good value for a 7 year old Bordeaux-style blend. It’s 55% merlot and 45% cabernet sauvignon and made from organically grown grapes in the Colchagua Valley in Chile. It’s also a small production wine, with just 3300 cases made (and each bottle is numbered).

The first thing you notice about this wine is that it’s thick, dark, and jammy (and it throws a lot of sediment so you might want to filter and decant it). It’s well integrated and definitely around its peak age, a wine that should be consumed within the next two years or so. There are notes of blackberry, raspberry, chocolate, and a slight hint of honey, with a great balance of tannins, acidity, and fruit. It’s definitely a full-bodied wine best served with rich dishes such as roasts and stews or a strong-flavored steak like ribeye or porterhouse. I’m going to agree with Wine Enthusiast here and give it 90 points.

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Kumeu River Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2005

November 22nd, 2010 by The Male Panda

I picked up 6 bottles of this as part of a mixed case special at Blanchard’s for $77 for the case (there are also 6 bottles of a Côte du Ventoux that I’ll review soon). I’ve had a few case deals of theirs over the past year that have all been good, so I was pretty optimistic about this one.

I’ve had a pretty wide variety of Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs I’ve had in the past, but this is definitely the most full-bodied, fruit-forward of the bunch. My initial impression was of lots of lime, but there’s also notes of pear, melon, and strawberry. The bottle recommends pairing with seafood, but we had it with a stir-fry that matched quite well, as would many other spicy foods like Thai or Mexican. This is a very distinctive wine with plenty of body, flavor, and complexity. 90 points.

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Chateau des Cleons Muscadet Sèvre et Maine 2009

November 21st, 2010 by The Male Panda

This was another Trader Joe’s find for 6 or 7 bucks. I was mulling around the Riesling section looking for a crisp, dry wine, and an employee recommended this since all but one of their rieslings were on the sweet side. I wouldn’t generally think of the Loire valley for this style of wine, but given the price you might as well take a chance.

I have to give the employee credit as the wine is very much what I was looking for. It clocks in at a fairly low 12% ABV, making a great wine for hot summer days, and the clean, crisp flavor and light body go well with a variety of Asian or other spicy foods. It’s tart and acidic with notes of citrus and green apple, with just a hint sweetness reminiscent of honeydew. Not the most complex wine on the planet, but a pleasant example of a certain style for a good price. 87 points.

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La Loggia Barbera D’Alba 2009

November 12th, 2010 by The Male Panda

I wanted to grab a bottle of ballsy Italian red and noticed this on the shelf at Trader Joe’s for $7 (I think). I was a bit suspicious of the bottle’s claim that it goes well with seafood, but decided to forge ahead nonetheless.

We opened this bottle with a very basic pasta dish, and I was a bit worried at first – the cork was very moist, and the nose was a bit acidic. The first taste, however, revealed that my concerns were unfounded. The wine is young, bold, and jammy with a strong note of raspberry and a pleasingly long finish. It was great with pasta and would go well with red meat as well, and I can even see, with it’s strong flavor but relatively light body, how it could pair well with heartier seafood dishes. This is a nice, versatile wine that recalls some of the better sangioveses I’ve had and will definitely look for again. 88 points.

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Rio Seco Malbec 2009

November 7th, 2010 by The Male Panda

This was another inexpensive wine from Whole Foods, coming in at 5 or 6 bucks (I bought this a few weeks ago and don’t remember the exact price). There was also a Chardonnay by the same label that we drank a couple weeks ago, which I was not terribly impressed by. As such, I can’t say I was expecting much from this bottle, and half though I’d pour it down the drain.

Once I actually tasted it, however, I was pleasantly surprised. There’s not a lot of complexity, but it’s a good, well balanced, very drinkable table wine. All the basic qualities of a good wine are present in good proportions, there just isn’t the depth of flavor you’d get in a high-end bottle. It’s dry without being astringent, fruity without being sweet, and has a nice medium body with notes of black cherry and pepper. It would work well with a wide variety of red meat dishes or a richer poultry or pork dish. With the price of malbecs having shot up in the last few years, this one is still a solid value. 83 points.

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Harthill Farms Cabernet Sauvignon (NV)

November 6th, 2010 by The Male Panda

The last time I was at Whole Foods they had Harthill Farms Cabernet and Chardonnay for $4 each. While Trader Joe’s always has a number of wines for that price, it’s a bit unusual to find at Whole Foods, so naturally I had to try a bottle of the Cab. Just as I’m writing this I’ve noticed that there isn’t a vintage listed on the bottle, which I suppose isn’t all that surprising for $4 wine.

While the wine isn’t great by any means, it’s not bad either. It’s definitely a step up from Charles Shaw, and something I could see using as a house wine. A relatively fruit-forward, low-tannin cab, it has a light body with notes of strawberry, and a crispness that seems more like a Gamay than a cab. We had it with pizza, which worked well, as would many pasta dishes or burgers. It’s not something I’d pull out for a fine meal, but it works quite well as an everyday wine. Given the price, I’ll be generous and give it 80 points.

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