Wine With Milk Wine With Milk

GEWURZ, 2014 Gewürztraminer, Mendocino County, CA $10.99

IMG_1578Gewürz is short for Gewürztraminer which is long for WTF. Maybe this will help pronouncing it….

Gee (as in duh but with a g, “guh”) würz (as in ouch that “hurts” but with a ‘v’ aka “vurts”) tra (as in duh again but with a ‘tr’ aka “truh”) and miner (as in “meaner” like how much “meaner” is the German language?)

guh-vurtz-truh-meaner. I know, good luck.

THE FACTS: Gewürz in German actually means the word “spice.” “Traminer” is taken from a grape originally from the town of Tramin, in Italy of all places. So a grape aptly called “Spice Tramin” is, wouldn’t you know it, crazy spicy on the nose. And not hot sauce spicy….sweet spicy. One whiff of this and it’ll remind you of sweet baking spices or pie spices (think autumn).

Spice Tramin is known for its aromatics and besides the sweet spice stuff, you can come up with an array of other silly descriptors (see below) that can found on the nose. Its done up best and grows super freakin well in the Alsace region on the French border with Germany…a region that has traded sides like 15 times due to France and Germany not always playing nice together. The resultant wine tends to be oily in texture, sometimes sweet, super perfumey with fairly low acidities and sometimes jacked up alcohol.

THE LOWDOWN: This wine is ridiculously smell good stuff. If you’re a chick and you don’t have time to shower, you might be ok just dumping a bottle of this on top of you. Seriously. It smells like perfume. And also ginger. Like the ginger that comes with sushi. You could even say this thing smells like sushi. And there’s that whole pie spice thing that is definitely there too. The palate drinks with a tad sweetness and a bit of a spritz (not indicative of the grape, just how this wine was made) and a fruit component of apricot and peach. A pear-ishness rounds out the finish. Bang up wine for the price with lotsa fun flavors from start to finish.

THE SCORECARD: (out of ten)

Color : Gold-yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 9.5
  • Smells like : Perfume, pie spice, sushi, ginger, apricots

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Off-dry
  • Acidity : 3.5
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 12.8%
  • Body : Medium-Full
  • Finish : 8.5
  • Taste intensity: 9.0
  • Tastes like : Eating apricots and pears smushed into a to-go sushi container outside of perfume department in Penny’s
  • Good with : Thai, Chinese, sushi, fragrance

SCORE: 9.29

 

     

LEYDA CLASSIC Pinot Noir 2011, Leyda Valley, Chile, $13.99

IMG_1569Leyda I’m begging darlin please. Leyda, darlin won’t you ease my worried mi-EYYY-nd.

You know the song. First it was that sick dual guitar shred-up by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman. Then Clapton acousticized it in the early 90’s as a different but equally as sweet take. Same songs. Two versions. Kind of like this bottle.

THE FACTS: There are essentially three types of flavor profiles you can get from wine.

Primary: Flavors that come from the grape. Think fresh fruit descriptors like cherries, lemons, blackberries, etc.

Secondary: Flavors that come from fermentation or the barrel the wine was aged in. Think vanilla, cinnamon, butter, bread.

Tertiary: Flavors that come from wine being aged in the bottle. Think leather, dried fruit, tobacco.

As cheap wine drinkers, we pretty much get to only taste the “primary” or “secondary” flavors. Cheap wine is made to be drank asap and we subsequently scoop it off the shelves at a low price relatively soon after they’re made. We didn’t pay for it to be old nor do we expect to sit around, thumb in ass, waiting for it to “mature.” Its good now, so lets party.

BUT, there are exceptions. Take this bottle. This is Pinot Noir made from Pinot Noir grapes picked in 2011. It was aged in stainless steel and oak for under a year, released and meant to be drank for its high acid, fresh, bright red-fruit, “primary” flavors. But then passes five years, what a surprise (RIP Bowie). Its a different wine. For a wine that was meant to be drunk early and fresh, it gets old and tastes mighty different.

THE LOWDOWN: Which is why this bottle is a whole other animal. This wine smells like a rich old person. Hell it probably smells like Eric Clapton. Or Eric Clapton’s study with a 32,000 dollar brand new leather chair it. Old, smokey, leathery and tobacco-y. You can pick up hints of cherry, but its dried up cherry. The palate is equally as awesome. Soft dried up red fruit (the high acids have mellowed down) and tannin that is smooth and velvety (as opposed to a young and tannic red wine – harsh and sticky). This is the closest thing you can get to good, aging Burgundy without paying the ridiculous price.

THE SCORECARD: (out of ten)

Color : Red, with a little brown.

Smell :

  • Intensity : 9.5
  • Smells like : Dried cherry, leather, cigar ash

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 6.5
  • Tannin : 8
  • Alcohol : 14.0%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 7.0
  • Taste intensity: 9
  • Tastes like : Grandpa smoking a stogie in a leather chair
  • Good with : Duck, cigars, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs

SCORE: 9.80

 

 

 

     

MAYNE SANSAC Bordeaux Blanc 2014, Bordeaux, France, $9.99.

IMG_0727You gotta read the back of this label. “You are sure to appreciate this wine’s brilliant colour, fruity, floral bouquet and excellent balance on the palate. Mayne Sansac starts out fresh and crisp. It is very round and full bodied.”

How f’in French does that sound? Some squirrely University of Bordeaux intern totally saved his lazy ass some time by making effective use of Google Translate. I can hear his boss say to him in French now…”good job Pierre, those shithead Americans don’t read wine labels anyway.”

THE FACTS: They’re right, we don’t. But who cares? Why not pick the coolest looking bottle out? It’s capitalism and its what makes America awesome.

Take this bottle for instance. A while ago I trashed this similar bottle for having a cutesy label and for being French and for only calling themselves a Bordeaux because they sourced their grapes from ALL OVER Bordeaux. I said you’re best bet was to buy a bottle that specifically states the grapes came from a somewhat smaller location…say a particular Chateau or vineyard area in Bordeaux (true statement).

Well the adorable labeled wine ended up suckin ass and I prickishly told my girlfriend I ain’t drinking cheap Bordeaux ever again. So what’s she do? Goes and buys the same type of bottle for my birthday. Women right?

Wrong. This bottle had a much more French looking label (look at that ritsy piece of architecture on the front!) that she thought would appeal to me. And she was right. It was actually pretty damn good. UGH MEN.

In the end, this bottle did have one thing that set it apart from the other white Bordeaux (and could be found on the label!). 25% of it is Muscadelle. To officially call a white Bordeaux “Bordeaux Blanc” its gotta have either one or any of these three grapes: Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Muscadelle.

The Bordeax-ites(?) never really make a full on wine out of straight Muscadelle because its only good for one thing: its giant flowery smell. The rest of it is flabby and lacks structure. So they blend it in, especially with Sauvignon Blanc because Sauvignon Blanc has a reputation for smelling like cat piss. Think of Muscadelle as good perfume for that nasty smelling cat lady.

THE LOWDOWN: Flowers and lemon-citrus on the nose. Again, Semillon = flowers, lemon-citrus = the rest of the crew. The palate has a pronounced apricot (Muscadelle) and Lemon Starburst (Sauv Blanc) that is rather soft and smooth with a pretty hefty body (Semillon). Pretty good showcase of a complex, young white Bordeaux with that classic old school French minerally finish.

THE SCORECARD: (out of ten)

Color : Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8.5
  • Smells like : Flowers, Lemon Starburst.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 7.5
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Body : Medium-Full
  • Finish : 7.5
  • Taste intensity: 8
  • Tastes like : Springtime near a river with Lemon Starburst.
  • Good with : White turkey meat, lemon fish, Starburst

SCORE: 8.22

 

     

GLORIA FERRER Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine, Carneros, CA, $14.99.

IMG_0725Remember in your twenties when you’d get all rowdy for your birthday and do as many shots as years you’ve been on the planet then die for a brief second and wake up feeling fine?

Welp, those days are gone. You’re a 30 something mature adult now and such tomfoolery may extend your death seconds to infinity. As such its imperative you throw down accordingly. And that can mean one thing: go bubbly.

THE FACTS: Whether you know it or not, you can’t technically call Champagne Champagne unless its from Champagne. Well scratch that. You can call call it whatever the hell you want. Its the makers of the bubbly that just can’t call it that….on the label.

Now that thats decided, buying a legitimate Champagne is fairly ill advised. And thats based solely on cost. You wanna spring for a dynamite Champagne because you’re a rich butthole? Go right ahead. For us other chaps, we wanna be buyin rip off Champagne. That is, sparkling wine done in the same style as the Champenoisse.

And thats referred to as, wouldn’t you know it, Methode Champenoisse. If you see that on a bottle of sparkling that means a whole other fermentation went down in that very bottle. CO2 from that fermentation got trapped along with dead yeast cells (CO2 is a byproduct of yeast turning sugars into alcohol) and bam, you not only got wine with bubbles in it, but wine that actually tastes like bread or dough or toast. You’ll find the same flavors in a bottle of good Champogne-uh. Here’s to celebratory carb overload.

THE LOWDOWN: All good sparklings are made from grapes picked super super early, and as such they’re always gonna drink with a fair amount of tart acidity. This wines no exception. Definitely a sour apple note throughout the whole thing. But with that classic Champenoisse doughy flavor. Sourdough may in fact be a good description. The nose is beaming with lemon, apple and yeasty notes as well…think straight up bread. Its fizzy, clean and crisp with a some decent complexities.

THE SCORECARD: (out of ten)

Color : Light Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8
  • Smells like : Bread, sour apples, lemons.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 9.0
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 7
  • Taste intensity: 8
  • Tastes like : Sourdough and Sprite
  • Good with : Oysters, birthday cakes, party trays

SCORE: 8.13

     

TESSELAE Old Vine Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre, 2013, Cotes du Roussillon, FRANCE, $14.99

IMG_0724Sun and mountains and boobs and beaches and sailboats can all be found in the South of France. Now you can add affordable red wine to that list. Like this one from the Cotes de Roussillon.

THE FACTS: Cotes de Roussillon is not a be confused with a place that warrants a coat, especially that of a raincoat. Squished up against mountains from the north, east and west, and laid up overlooking the Meditteranean in the south, this sunbaked spread of French terroir does not see much in the form of precip. As such, hot hot hot grapes like Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan and Mourvedre are planted because they can withstand a good sunburn. In fact, to be officially classified by the almighty French Gov as the right wine from right the region, a Cotes du Roussillon AOC (aka this one) must be a blend of at least three of the aforementioned varieties with Carignan not to be more than 60% (its the ghetto grape.)

These wines tend to drink on the boozy side as well. With so much sun and no rain, sugars climb high during ripening which transitions into a fairly alcoholic wine. Sun, nudity and high alcohol wine? … Spring Break Cotes du Roussillon!

THE LOWDOWN: Remember those old school strawberry candy thingies? This wine kinda smells like that. With a separate note of wildflowers (could be the “is it March yet?” spring fever). The palate drinks with more candied red fruit and a bit of that same flowery finish. A tiny bit of alcohol burn, but the 40% Syrah seems to keep that in check (Grenache tends to be the bad boy with the high alcohols). And although lower in acidity there’s nothing jammy about this wine. It’s even keeled and medium bodied with a solid tannin that slaps you around a bit but never overpowers. Good food wine, solid value.

THE SCORECARD: (out of ten)

Color : Red

Smell :

  • Intensity : 9.0
  • Smells like : Old school strawberry candies, wildflowers, red currant

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 4.5
  • Tannin : 8.0
  • Alcohol : 14.5%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 7.5
  • Taste intensity: 8
  • Tastes like : First day of Spring after stealing strawberry candies from Grandma’s place.
  • Good with : Lamb, Feta, strawberry candy, Spring

SCORE: 9.18

     

CASTELLO MONACI – LIANTE, Salice Salentino, Italy. $11.99.

IMG_0721Steer clear amigos, this bottle tastes like ass. Or taint, that region between your….I won’t get into it.

But cork taint I will get into. It’s exactly what this poor bastard suffers from.

THE FACTS: There’s a nasty little chemical compound out there called TCA (trichloroanisole) that loves to hang out in anything that originally comes from a tree – oak barrels, pallets, cardboard, you name it. Unfortunately for winemakers, stuff made from trees abounds in the winery. Lesson: if your stuff made from trees in the winery isn’t squeaky clean, TCA will put the hit on.

So if you’re a winemaker, keep your shit clean. Simple, right? Sure, if you’re a small time producer. If you’re big time, like this Italian gangster, knowing that every single barrel is clean is quite a task. As such, some barrels just may be straight up nasty. Which would ruin somewhere around 300 bottles. And thats not even if you get the cork involved.

Real cork, the kind that comes off cork oak in Portugal (also from a tree), is likewise a giant attraction for TCA. And thats something spick-and-span small time makers of wine really cannot avoid. It’s estimated that about 2% of bottles that use this real cork will have TCA or cork taint. Which makes sense because this is the 96th wine I’ve tasted and talked about on this website and this is exactly the second one that has been corked.

THE LOWDOWN: You’ll know when a wine is corked because it’ll reek of must, mold or wet cardboard. Think of an underground, unfinished basement. That smell/taste takes over the wine and thats all you get out of it. Its harmless, so if basements and mold are your thing, grab a bowl of spaghetti and go to town. Me, I’d only consume this via peer pressured shots.

THE SCORECARD: (out of ten)

Color : Red

Smell :

  • Intensity : Who cares?
  • Smells like : Basement, mold, mildew, wet cardboard.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Who cares?
  • Acidity : Who cares?
  • Tannin : Who cares?
  • Alcohol :Who cares?
  • Body :Who cares?
  • Finish : Who cares?
  • Taste intensity: Who cares?
  • Tastes like : Drinking liquid mold.
  • Good with : Basements, slumming in wet cardboard.

SCORE: 0

     

RING BOLT Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Margaret River, Australia. $14.99

IMG_0720Grammys Schmammys. Except cheers to Alabama Shakes. Mainstream music actually got that one right.

Still, I’m Ring-Bolting to the room farthest from my TV and “freshening” this night up with some Pearl Jam and minty Margaret River Cabernet.

THE FACTS: Bordeaux, France is the birthplace of Cab. Cab loves it there and it will always be Cab’s home. But Cab likes to travel. Cab really likes California. Cab also really likes South America. But neither place is temperate and maritime like Cab’s true home in France. So Cab wants to keep discovering new places to live. Plus Cab’s tired of being overpriced and generally known as a French wuss-face.

One place Cab discovers is the Margaret River. The Margaret River is outside of Perth in Australia’s southwestern corner and it looks a lot like Cab’s old stomping grounds in Bordeaux. Here, Cab feels right at home with the moderated, but sometimes wet climate surrounded by oceans and rivers. Cab has always been popular, but here Cab takes it to the next level by showing off some of its “cool” minty flavors.

THE LOWDOWN: You smell this and the first thing you get is mint. But not fresh minty mint, its more like that hardcore medicated dandruff shampoo mint. And I mean that in the most endearing way possible. There’s also mad blackberries and red apple spice on the nose. Its intense and its got a lot going on. The palate isn’t typical heavy hardcore Cabernet, but more medium body with a little, but not much, sticky tannin. The finish harks back to its initial smell of Selsun Blue. I should know, I have dry scalp 🙁 .

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Red

Smell :

  • Intensity : 9.5
  • Smells like : Selsun Blue, red apples, sweet spice, blackberries

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 7
  • Tannin : 5
  • Alcohol : 14.1%
  • Body : Medium-Full
  • Finish : 9
  • Taste intensity: 9
  • Tastes like : Eating blackberries and cinnamon apples while medicating your head in the shower with Selsun Blue
  • Good with : Meat on the barbie, dandruff, noncommercial music

SCORE: 9.79

     

HIGH HOOK Pinot Blanc. 2011. Willamette Valley, Oregon. $11.99.

IMG_0712Every dumb girl you know drinks Pinot Grey (aka Grigio). Every rich ass wine snob you know drinks Pinot Red (aka Noir). But who rocks the Pinot White (aka Blanc)?

THE FACTS: Pinot Blanc is a clone of Pinot Grigio which is a clone of Pinot Noir. Which is a lot of inbreeding. And that leads to a pretty fucked up grape. The poor bastard.

In Burgundy, it could never hold up to Pinot Noir or Chardonnay. In Italy, why mess with Pinot Grigio? Even in its hometown, Alsace, France it’s cast as gypsy white trash against such “noble” varieties as Riesling and Pinot Grigio.

Well guess what? I see your Gypsyyyyyy [enter Stevie Nicks voice]. Its the New Age and it looks like Pinot Blanc-Trash has gone through enough generations of cloning and boning to rid itself of its past genetic issues. In Austria and Slovenia it even went so far as to change its name to Beli Pinot. And its really found its home in Oregon. This one proves it.

THE LOWDOWN: First thing that comes to mind on the nose is yellow apple. What kind of apple is the yellow apple kind? Golden Delicious? Ew. Definitely the weakest of all apple types. Anyway, it works here. Right alongside that is a lemon tart aroma that is quite distinct. Certainly complex up front. The palate is shining with some acidity but its an acidity that’s soft and tamed because its been aged for a little bit (2011 was 5 yrs ago). Think applesaucey-type tastes. Solid bone dry wine that finishes things up with some citrusy lemon.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8.5
  • Smells like : Golden Delicious apples, Lemon tart

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 7
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 8.5
  • Taste intensity: 8.5
  • Tastes like : Lemon infused applesauce
  • Good with : Chicken dinner, lemon tart, Fleetwood Mac, inbreeding

SCORE: 8.27

     

SANTA CAROLINA Carmenère. 2013. Cachapoal, Chile. $11.99

IMG_0704Where in the world is Carmenère Santa Carolina? Answer gumshoes: Chile.

Wouldn’t you just hate the kid that got a dumb f’in question like that wrong? Cheers to 90’s education.

THE FACTS: Carmenère is thee flagship red varietal of Chile. Just like Malbec to Argentina, this is another squirrelly Bordeaux varietal that said F off to France and found a new home on the South side of the Americas.

Well, kinda. Long story short, the disease phylloxera rapes and pillages the world’s vineyards. The world is then forced to replant on phylloxera-restistant rootstock from America (fuck yeah!). Vines are replanted and the world’s vineyards are saved, including the ever so prestigious French Bordeaux vineyards (fuck yea!).

But what about Carmenère? Well, before all this disease business nobody really liked Carmenère anyway in Bordeaux because it ripened too late. So post-phylloxera nobody really replants/cares about it 🙁 .

So what’s its resilient immigrant ass do? …..Disguise itself as the likable Merlot and hitch a ride across the Atlantic of course. There, people are like “Merlot is tearing shit up over here!” (but in Spanish). It’s not until 1994, a full century later mind you, Carmenère comes out and says “I’m not Merlot at all, I’m Carmenère! Suckers!”  Not only is it a great grape that turns into great wine, its also got jokes.

Jokes aside, Merlot is technically the more widely planted grape in Chile, but most wienetists (wine scientists) will tell you….Carmenère still messin’ with folks.

THE LOWDOWN: Black cherry and plum abound on the nose (sounds like Merlot right?), but with a distinct red pepper nuance. Down the palate we go and its got that classic medium-to-low Merlot type acidity with noticeable but chilled out tannin. Don’t be “fooled” though, there’s some big big fruit smack dab in the middle palate. Plus, you guessed it, a distinct red pepperiness especially on the finish.

 

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Dark red

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8
  • Smells like : red pepper, black cherry, plum

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 4
  • Tannin : 7.5
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Medium-Full
  • Finish : 8.5
  • Taste intensity: 8
  • Tastes like : That Asian plum sauce shit with a kick
  • Good with : Pork belly, high class Asian cuisine, Carmen Sandiego

SCORE: 8.75

     

LUZON VERDE. Monastrell. 2014. Jumilla, Spain. $9.99.

IMG_0694 Verde means green. Luzon is the largest and most northern island in the Philippines. Translation: Green Largest and Most Northern Island in the Philippines.

Wtf? This bottle is from Spain. It says so it on the back. Besides, you can’t even grow grapes in Luzon, Philippines.

THE FACTS: Here’s why. Vitis vinifera (nerd-speak for wine grapevines) need to sleep in the winter. They stay up for 6-7 months straight, tirelessly working to make sweet grape babies for us to pick in the fall. Once fall arrives, we steal these sweet grape babies and turn them into booze. Now because they are plants and not humans they end up being totally cool with this and pass out til next spring.

But to officially pass out for a whole season, they need the temps to be consistently under 50 degrees F-heit. And that can only happen in places with winter, mostly between the latitudes of 30 and 50 degrees. So in the jungle land that is the Philippines this would never be possible. They’d make an honest stand but wind up wounded and not even dead. Down. In. Jungleland.

(FYI: Upon further research, Luzon is the last name of the dude who started this winery. Oops.)

THE LOWDOWN: …OLD WORLD UP IN HERE. Thats rap for different aromas and tastes on this wine other than just fruit. Its got flowers, pepper and an essential oil, girl type smell going on with the nose…right next to some definite red fruit action. The palate is more red fruit (think raspberry, cranberry, etc) with a floral finish not much unlike the nose. No oak on this bitch, but thats cool, who needs it, when its throwin all this other complex shiz around. High acid, medium bodied damn fine value wine (more rap, sorry).

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Red

Smell :

  • Intensity : 9
  • Smells like : Essential oils, white pepper, cherries, raspberry

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 8.5
  • Tannin : 4
  • Alcohol : 14%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 9
  • Taste intensity: 8.5
  • Tastes like : Eating fresh cranberries while showering with a girl.
  • Good with : Pasta and spicy sausage, showers, Boss.

SCORE: 9.18

     
About Me

My name is Rick. Some of my friends call me Milk. I'm an average dude who knows some things, not all, about wine. Every other night I'm gonna put down one bottle of wine, $15 or less, and tell you if I think its awesome or not and why. Hopefully it'll help guide you through the infinite assemblage of wine at your local wine store. Cheap wine is good, damn good. Trust me.

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