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NIGHTHAWK – BOTA BOX. 2013. California. $21.99

IMG_0687IMG_0688I think I lead you all to believe in the last review that I wouldn’t rate another Cali wine for awhile. Buuuuut I’m poor, and there’s a blizzard outside. Which means I’m spending less and drinking more. Plus this isn’t Cabernet. In fact, I don’t even know what this is. Nobody does. They don’t tell you because in all likelihood they don’t want you to know. All it says is its California Red Wine. Which, again, means its prob not the greatest.

Now on to NightHawk, and the other reason I bought this box. Nighthawk is Jayson Werth. Or thats what my friends and I call him. He was, emphasis on was, one of the greatest baseball players to live because he played awesomely, looked awesomely, and acted awesomely our beloved 2008 Phillies. Then he left, acted liked a d-bag and currently sucks.

This wine is very much the same thing. Looks cool, goes deep, comes in the clutch when needed, is cheap, and delivers…for the moment. The end of the night you’ll probably feel like ass and wonder why the hell you ever did that. Your personal World Series blizzard run will be over before you realized it started.

THE FACTS: The color of this wine is bordering on black. And its insanely easy to drink because it basically tastes like juice (low tannin, low acid, some sweetness). All this means trouble. Trouble for your shits.

Thats right, if you’re a wine drinker like me, you know the resulting story in the toilet the next morning. Your poo will be green. Why? At the risk of being gross, a heavy dosage of red wine will make your intestines weak and lazy (like the rest of your body) and thus bile, yep the green digestive enzyme in your tummy, will pass through easier, collect with your dumps and ultimately lead to an interesting morning in the toilet.

THE LOWDOWN: All fruit on the nose, almost like a bag of berries, and no oak. The palate’s the same profile of taste. Its simple wine, no drying tannin, no real fresh acidity, and no finish. Just cheap juice-like wine. Which ain’t all that bad if thats what you’re into, especially at this price.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 6
  • Smells like : red raspberries, black raspberries, blueberries

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Off-dry
  • Acidity : 1.5
  • Tannin : 2.5
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 1.5
  • Taste intensity: 6
  • Tastes like : Adult juicy juice, but a little dryer.
  • Good with : Blizzards, Phillies porn, over-indulgence

SCORE: 4.98

     

AUSPICION. Cabernet Sauvignon. 2013. California. $10.99.

IMG_1463Hmmm, back to back California Cabernets with adorable labels. You guessed it, the hallmark purchase of a girlfriend who’s cold and needs fake warmth.

THE FACTS: She’s not alone though, you’re probably doing the same thing. Cali Cab has been, and will be, one likable wine. Just remember though, if it just says “California” on the label, you’re getting wine made from Cabernet grapes from all over California which lessens the chance that those grapes are fresh and so clean clean. The result: a lot of the wines tend to taste similar: big, jammy, low acid fruit bombs with even an occasional sweetness.

So what do I say? Be different and try other worldly reds. Or at least California Cabs from a single area in California, i.e. Sonoma, North Coast, Mendocino, Napa, etc. Of course, if you want ’em for under 15 bones, always check these reds first.

And here’s a quick bonus fact: This wine has a definite booze smell to it. Like the stench before a shot of Bacardi 151 when you were a 19 yr old crackhead. But you know what? The human nose cannot even smell alcohol. At all. We don’t have receptors for it. What we actually smell is acetaldehyde – a byproduct of alcohol. Fun facts!

THE LOWDOWN: Aromas of booze aka acetaldehyde, blackberry and licorice. You hit the palate and it kinda turns to red licorice with chalky tannins a tiny bit of that cheap Cali Cab sweetness. The finish is weak with a sharp robotussiness to boot.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 6
  • Smells like : 151, licorice, blackberries

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Off-dry
  • Acidity : 2
  • Tannin : 8
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Full
  • Finish : 3
  • Taste intensity: 5
  • Tastes like : Eating chalk and red licorice while robotripping.
  • Good with : Cold nights and discount red meat.

SCORE: 4.09

 

     

TOASTED HEAD. Cabernet Sauvignon. 2013. California. $12.99.

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Who wouldn’t want a toasted head after walking outside today? This label screams warmth, and let’s be honest the weather outside is quite un”bear”able. Lame puns aside, the label also glaringly puts forth the idea that a barrel was used in making the wine. Whoopty f’in do, a barrel should be used in making all red wine. Here’s why.

THE FACTS: Wine obviously has a long history, and without getting too much into it the need to store wine was always of utmost concern. Especially if you were hardcore winos like the Romans. They had a ass-ton of this stuff laying around and they needed a better/cheaper way to transport/store it than the cumbersome clay pots they were currently using.

They found their answer soon enough after taking over Gaul (present day France). Gaul had lots of trees and oak barrels made from these trees were cheap to make, bendable and waterproof. And it improved the taste of wine, part of the reason why we still use it today, especially with reds.

80% of wine is water and a lot of that evaporates through the oak during the aging process, essentially concentrating the “wine” portion of the wine. Oak also imparts tannin (see #3) which adds structure and complexity to wine. Finally, oak has flavor, and depending on which kind of oak is being used, a myriad of tasty flavors can abound.

THE LOWDOWN: Now that I’ve talked oak up, the problem with this wine is its all freakin’ oak. The damn thing smells like a wood shop. Which ain’t all that bad I guess because you can also equate that same smell to dill spice, vanilla, and cinnamon. But the palate is all oak too…low acid strawberry jam, with hardly any fruit flavor and a definite coconutrageous finish.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8
  • Smells like : A tree, dill, vanilla, cinnamon.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 2.5
  • Tannin : 5
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Full
  • Finish : 4
  • Taste intensity: 6
  • Tastes like : A dill-spiced, strawberry preserve filled coconut served up in a wood shop.
  • Good with : Burgers, dill pickles, choppin’ wood.

SCORE: 6.20

     

LICIA. Albariño. 2013. Rias Baixas, Spain. $14.99.

IMG_0514That is an Eagles 2014 season schedule coffee cup in the background. Did I dump this whole bottle in that cup and walk around the neighborhood teary-eyed and confused after yet another Eagles 2015 loss sometime this season? Probably. But enough about that. Lets focus our attention on the quality and prestige that is the $14 bottle of Albariño in the foreground. Because there’s nothing quality and prestigious about this year’s Birds, that is for sure.

THE FACTS:  Rias Baixas, a region in the great Northwest of Spain is two things: wet and hot. This may sound like your idea of an exciting time, but in the world of grape growing it is anything but. Generally speaking, humidity brings disease and rain discourages ripening. Soooo what makes this bottle so f’in grand?

Simply put, its the Albariño, the white grape behind a Rias Baixas. Its a tough son of a bitch with thick skins that can battle disease and tends to ripen much faster on the vineyard than your average varietal. All this eventually leads to a wine that is generally delicate and acidic, with many a sophisticated goofball sommelier describing it as “salient” because of its close proximity to the Atlantic ocean.

THE LOWDOWN: Bananas and cream right up front on the nose. Not crazy aromatic, but that could be because I chilled the crap outta the bottle before chugging it after an Eagles loss. Green herbs and a minerality are definitely on the palate, and I guess you could be so bold as to construe the mineral-i-ness as “oceanic” and “salty,” so what the hell, it tastes like ocean water too.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Light Yellow-Green

Smell :

  • Intensity : 6.5
  • Smells like : bananas and cream, herbs, white grapefruit

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 9
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 7
  • Taste intensity: 8
  • Tastes like : Grapefruit infused mineral water on the beach with a side of banana.
  • Good with : Beach sandos, oceans, oysters

SCORE: 8.75

 

     

CLAVA QUINTAY. Sauvignon Blanc Reserve. Valle de Casablance, Chile. $10.99.

FullSizeRender-2First off, sorry for the discolored hipster pic. My camera phone went color blind and I couldn’t fix it.

Seeing as this same brand’s Pinot Noir dominated the rankings a wee bit ago, I naturally decided t0 hit up their Sauv Blanc. The gf and I can’t get away from this stuff during the summer and if you’re over the crowded market of NZ Sauv Blancs, def check out the Casablanca Valley in Chile.

THE FACTS: This wine has mowed up grass all over the nose. Now how the hell can wine taste like grass you ask? Basically many a Sauv Blanc is picked slightly underripe (hence its fairly strong acidity) and when those underripe grapes go through fermentation they contain some of the same chemical make up of straight up grass. Dr. Strange gets strange and more into it, but see for yourself, buy this and take a big ole whiff…it smells like your lawn.

THE LOWDOWN: Grass and lime come at you hardcore on the nose, then its straight lime, citrus and passion fruit on the palate. Clean, crisp and acidic, this is another summer all-star. The body is medium with a finish that rocks out mainly because of the tart acidity.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Light Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 7
  • Smells like : Mowed grass, lime, passion fruit

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 9
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 13.0%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 8.5
  • Taste intensity: 8.5
  • Tastes like : Margi’s while lawn mowing, sans the nasty Tequila taste
  • Good with : Mexican food, fresh citrus fruit, lawn mowing

SCORE: 9.22

 

 

     

DOMAINE SAINT ROCH. Sauvignon Blanc. Torraine AC, France. $10.95.

IMG_0433

I’ve most certainly trashed French wine in the past. And I’ll do it again. Their shit sucks because all they really know how to do is make expensive really really really good wine. Tasty and affordable isn’t really their motus operandi.

I will go ahead and admit I may be a little too harsh. But isn’t it fun to bash on the French? They’re like the NY Mets of countries. But like the NY Mets, I’ll also have to admit you just gotta look a little harder to find the good that can come out of something so overhyped, trendy and douchy.

Take this French wine from Torraine for example. Cheap, check. Appetizing, check. Still looks pretentious, so uncheck, but whatever the Loire Valley and Torraine in particular is a good place to start if you’re looking for decent affordable French wine. This place is like the talent of the Mets young pitching staff amidst a whole franchise that’s doomed to mediocrity.

THE FACTS: Torraine. The name sounds kinda bad ass right? Like the tip top of a sharp, gnarly French Alp. Well thats not really the case. Its actually about as far as you can get from the French Alps on the total other side of France. More like the Pennsylvania of France.

But it can in fact churn out some decent wine for cheap, especially Sauv Blanc. Its close enough to the Atlantic where its still considered quite a maritime climate that extends the growing season and enables for some quality grape ripening. A lot of the Torraine wine country is composed of flinty, limestone and sandy soils along the banks of the Loire and Cher rivers that provide good drainage for the vine, while also hooking it up with some quality necessary nutrients.

Most importantly, for our price conscious asses, its not Bordeaux or Burgundy or the Rhone. Its an actual place in France that sells wine for much cheaper, and although prices can still be somewhat high, you can definitely score bottles like this in the under $15 range.

THE LOWDOWN: Green fruit is all over this bitch. Green melon, green apple and pear are a definite right up on the nose. The palate drinks crisp, light and a little citrusy with a wine that won’t knock you out with intense fruit like it’s somewhat cracked out brethren in New Zealand. This is quite an Old World wine thats built for food, with a pronounced but not overwhelming acidity.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Light Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 7
  • Smells like : Green melon, green apple, pear, mineral water

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 8.5
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 12.0%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 8
  • Taste intensity: 7.5
  • Tastes like : Flat g&t’s with a side of pears.
  • Good with : Fresh fish, rice and veggies, Baseball Tonight

SCORE: 8.07

 

     

CORBETT CANYON. Pinot Noir. Chile. $16.99.

IMG_0432The Philadelphia Phillies are the best team in baseball….after the All-Star break. Cole Hamel’s just pitched his first no hitter….after getting rocked the previous two starts.

The Philadelphia Phillies still blow. Nonetheless we should toast them and their supreme mediocrity with the cheapest boxed wine on the market.

THE FACTS: If you look closely at the back label, you’ll see this wine has no vintage year and is from Chile, but bottled in Ripon, CA, wherever the hell that is. This translates to a wine that’s made from grapes from different years and from all over one country (Chile, and not one specific area of Chile), then shipped in giant containers to the middle of bumblefuck California and “boxed” into wine. There is also no clue as to when all this happened. All are tell tale signs this wine will suck, just like your 2015 Philadelphia Phillies.

THE LOWDOWN: The nose smells like cranberry sauce, cherry, and sweet spice, which honestly was pretty exciting. Just like Hamel’s no hitter today, this is a mere deterrent to what is to become an overall craptapular product. The palate is light, syrupy, low acid, low tannin wine that is not far off from Robitussin.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Red

Smell :

  • Intensity : 6.5
  • Smells like : Cherry syrup, cranberry sauce, nutmeg

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Semi-dry
  • Acidity : 1.5
  • Tannin : 1
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 2
  • Taste intensity: 3
  • Tastes like : Watered down Robitussin
  • Good with : No hitters, Robo-wine-trippin’

SCORE: 3.24

     

CHIMNEY CREEK VINEYARD. Sauvignon Blanc. 2014. Marlborough, NZ. $12.99.

IMG_0431At least once today you were sweating your nads off. Thats a fact. It’s mid July and it’s hot everywhere. I can tell you to seek air conditioner refuge or I can tell you to jump in the water, but you may not have such luxuries. My suggestion: purchase a flask and purchase a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. Trust me, your summertime routine will be much more enjoyable.

THE FACTS: NZ Sauv Blancs are loaded with acidity. Anything as fresh and acidic as this will, all in one gulp, make your mouth water/make you feel thirsty, then instantaneously quench that thirst.

It’s same reason why we put lemons in water. It not only freshens things up, it makes you seem thirstier than you actually are while simultaneously putting your thirst to rest. A new world Sauvignon Blanc from NZ will do the same exact thing.

THE LOWDOWN: Limey and lemony starburst on the nose with a little bit of herbaceousness. The palate is sour and refreshing with an almost pale ale, bitter feel to it. Kinda like Rolling Rock…before it went all Budweiser. Damn good for summer and damn good with summer seafood doused in lemon.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Light yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 7.5
  • Smells like : Lemon starburst, starfruit, grass, lime

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 9.5
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 12.5%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 6
  • Taste intensity: 8
  • Tastes like : Lemon starbursts and Rolling Rock
  • Good with : Scallops, flounder, sweating, summer

SCORE: 8.77

 

     

MEZZACORONA. Pinot Noir. Dolomiti, Italy. $8.99.

IMG_0424I dunno ’bout you but it gets mighty tiresome paying for craft beer at the bar. 8 bucks for the IPA? Not gonna happen.

Crazy as it may sound, you may wanna start looking at that wine list.

THE FACTS: Not too long ago it was protocol for a bar to charge the price of a bottle for a glass of that same wine. Other words if the bottle at the liquor store was retailing for 12 bucks, it was the norm for a food/bar establishment to charge 12 bucks for the glass. Ridiculous right?

Not so much anymore. The shift is on. Wine consumption is through the roof in the US and that demand is driving those insane wine prices down at your local bar. You may still have to shell out for the glass, but its becoming more and more popular to just buy the whole damn bottle.

Take this bottle. Its a nine dollar bottle, but at the bar I got it for 18. It was a score. Thats basically $3.50 a glass. And the place was no dive either. Just saying, it may be worth your wallet to go wine instead.

THE LOWDOWN: Fairly straightforward pinot. The nose had kind of a cleaning product smell on it which was different. Smart wine people might call that “violets,” but I’d call it “Lysol.” Also some brown sugar and sour cherry in there. As it hits the mouth, more of the sour cherry comes through with that tart acidity and a bigger than usual tannin. Pretty good stuff that in my opinion would’ve bested any of the pricey beer on tap.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Red

Smell :

  • Intensity : 7
  • Smells like : sour cherries, brown sugar, Lysol

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 8
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 13.0%
  • Body : Light-Medium
  • Finish : 6
  • Taste intensity: 7
  • Tastes like : Eating underripe cherries after just cleaning your house.
  • Good with : Ruebens, mozzarella sticks, saving money at the bar

SCORE: 7.19

 

     

CORSE. Vermentino. Vin de France, Corsica, France. $12.99.

IMG_0429If the dude at the wine store says buy it, I buy it. What the hell, he liked it?

THE FACTS: There are two giant Mediterranean islands off the west coast of Italy, both within swimming distance of each other. The south one is Sardinia and thats Italian and the north one is Corsica and thats French. Both have a go to white grape: Vermentino, although the wine from Sardinia is recognized by the Italian gov’t as more or less the white wine of the region, called Vermentino di Gallura. The French are way too cool for that shit and don’t officially recognize it from their respective Meditteranean island, although it’s basically the same white wine, wine that’s probably really f’in awesome on the actually island of Corsica, but wine that is basically another standard Pinot Grigio rip-off if it’s built to be shipped to the US of A.

THE LOWDOWN: Standard. Just another white wine that doesn’t have much to offer up on either the nose or actual tastebuds. Kinda grapefruity and citrusy all around so the acidity is tight, but really just boring. Stick with your favorite 5.99 Pinot Grigio, or do what me and my girl did, drink it BYOB style for lunch with some gyros and act like your in the Mediterranean.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Color : Light yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 3
  • Smells like : grapefruit, dead flowers

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Off-dry
  • Acidity : 6
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 5
  • Taste intensity: 2.5
  • Tastes like : drinking grapefruit juice next to an old lady with terrible perfume
  • Good with : Gyros, Greek, listening to “Dead Flowers.”

SCORE: 3.60

 

 

 

 

     
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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