Wine With Milk Wine With Milk

FLAVIUM – PREMIUM. 2008. D.O. Bierzo, Spain. $11.99.

IMG_0387I’ve been searching far and wide for a Bierzo wine from Spain and it has alluded me quite well. Who knew it would be hiding in the suspect liquor store with a few too many neon Miller and Coors signs? Well the jig is up, it’s been discovered and for the rightful price of 12 dollars we shall see if it delivers on its supposed deep, concentrated complexity.

THE FACTS: Bierzo is the land of Mencía, an decidedly unknown grape that was at one time thought to be Cab Franc. Its a land that has some pretty old and gnarled up vines of this Cab Franc look-alike that because of past popular demand for standard red grapes…. Cab, Merlot, Syrah, etc… didn’t gain too much international attention until some rich young punks came in and sunk some money into the region. Now its making a real breakthrough in the international market because us non-Bierzonites today are much more inclined for getting down with some funk-tified varietal from abroad. A funk-tified varietal that has been said to offer up some pretty rich flavor.

THE LOWDOWN: Tar, pork roll, dried up black fruit, cocoa and flowers all on the nose. Tons of complexity up front. Its all inky looking and the whole time you’re almost thinking “Am I gonna have a tough time swallowing this?” The palates goes like the nose, pretty dry fruit because its 7 yrs old already, but still some powerful enough tannins where it could actually be kept to cellar longer. But why would you? If you find a Bierzo, drink it, it’s a wine  place you’ve never heard of before now. This guy’s got some other suggestions from there for you too.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Black-Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8.5
  • Smells like : dried blackberries, pork roll, cocoa powder, a black top, the flowers that grow in between a black top.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 6
  • Tannin : 9
  • Alcohol : 13%
  • Body : Full
  • Finish : 4
  • Taste intensity: 9
  • Tastes like : You’re 11 yrs old, the windows in the house are open and it’s Spring and your street has just been paved.  Mom’s not looking so you eat the cocoa powder she’s baking with and immediately know you’ve made a huge mistake and shove blackberry jelly down your throat.
  • Good with : Pork tenderloin, or pork roll at breakfast if you’re an alcoholic.

SCORE: 9.58

     

OYSTER BAY. Sauvignon Blanc. 2014. Marlborough, NZ. $11.99.

IMG_0385Isn’t it great when you have people over one night and they leave their alcohol? Especially when said alcohol is a Marlborough Sauv Blanc found in the fridge after a taxing next day at the workplace. This shizz might be the most refreshing wine on the planet and here’s why.

THE FACTS: Part of the reason why NZ is on the wine map is because Marlborough, a region in the north east corner of the South Island, has been churning out really accessible Sauv Blancs that are vinified and bottled under the most scrutinized “no oxygen” policy on the planet. As an industry they’ve worked wonders, essentially scratching each other’s back in cost sharing and marketing to promote the fact that they’re going to produce the freshest, youngest white wine on the planet. The winemaking process here is anally clean, modern, and temperature controlled to eventually make a wine that will never see a cork or a barrel and will most likely die a young, but exciting and worthy death. Kinda like all the good rock stars who die at 27. Or that Billy Joel song.

THE LOWDOWN: Very quality smell of tropical fruit right up front. Light bodied, zesty as all hell and fresh. More of that tropical/passion fruit thing when you drink it and the finish just doesn’t let up.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Yellow-Green

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8
  • Smells like : passion fruit, pineapples, grapefruit

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 9
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 13%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 9
  • Taste intensity: 7.5
  • Tastes like : a pina colada/margarita hybrid….but much lighter and non-sugary.
  • Good with : oysters, shrimp, tiki bars, listening to guitarists that should be alive right now

SCORE: 9.38

     

MARK WEST. Pinot Noir. 2013. California. $10.99.

IMG_0804Wine sucks sometimes because any one of us could sink 10,11,12 bones into something we’ve never tasted and can easily get 12 Cat Piss Lites for. Thats twice the amount of alcohol than a bottle wine, which is important, no matter who you talk to. But you go ahead and sink that 10 or so dollars into a wine because you’re going to a dinner party, or a byob, or wherever and chances are you’ll sink that 10 or so dollars into a wine with a label you see in every liquor store you go to. Like Cat Piss Lite, its everywhere, so you think “aight, it can’t be that bad,” and it never really is, its just not that good.

To me and my friend Andrew, this is that bottle. We brought it to a BYO dinner and when I asked him what he thought, he just goes “I dunno. Nothing?” Now Andrew isn’t the biggest wine connoisseur, but the man knows what he likes and if there were any special flavors or attributes, anything really about the wine, he’d definitely tell you. There just wasn’t.

THE FACTS: A lot of people think you have to be an expert to drink wine. Well, you don’t. A simple wine will always taste like an “I dunno” wine while a better wine will just be more interesting and tasty. There’ll be more flavors, some that might linger on the tastebuds that extra bit longer. It might have a fresher acidity or more tannin structure. It might just have a little something that you can’t exactly put your finger on. It’ll just taste more prolific and you’ll know it.

THE LOWDOWN: Andrew is right. This is hard to talk about because it actually doesn’t taste like much of anything. It was kinda bitter, kinda flat (no real acidity) and had no real body or finish. I guess since it’s gotta taste like something, so I’d say underripe red fruit.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Red

Smell :

  • Intensity : 2
  • Smells like : bell peppers, frozen strawberries

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 2.5
  • Tannin : 4
  • Alcohol : 13.8%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 2
  • Taste intensity: 3
  • Tastes like : taking one strawberry and one green pepper and putting in a blender with 25 ice cubes.
  • Good with : a chaser after shotgunning a Miller Lite.

SCORE: 2.13

 

     

THE WISHING TREE. Shiraz. 2011. Adelaide, Australia. $11.99.

IMG_0382What is it this week with trees on wine labels that want something other than their present situation? First it was the Dreaming Tree, now it’s the Wishing Tree. Whats next? The Pining Tree?

THE FACTS: If your gung-ho into wine and actually had a wishing tree, there’s a big chance you’d have it send you to Adelaide. It’s the wine capital of Down Under. Smack dab in the middle of the city you got the National Wine Centre, a giant wine research facility/school that’s one of the best in the world. Draw a 3-hour-drive circle around the city and anywhere in between you got yourself access to oodles of world class wine regions, each one different from the next. Shiraz is the mainstay in a lot of these places with each climate/geographic area having a different take on it. Because this wine is a shiraz from Adelaide, it means its a blend of shiraz from all these interesting and different grape growing areas and that probably means you have a decent shiraz at that. Case in point, if you see two shirazes with the same price in the store, one from “Adelaide” and one from just “Australia,” go with the “Adelaide” one….chances are the insides come from classier grape neighborhoods.

THE LOWDOWN: Pretty money nose of black fruit and cola. The taste brings you to some surprisingly soft, easy going tannin thats not overly drying like most Aussie shirazes. Good play with tannin, acid and body. Overall very balanced. No oak or sweet spice on this whatsoever. Peppery on the finish, but not black peppery, spicy peppery. Hot damn!

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Purple

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8.5
  • Smells like : black raspberries, blueberries, dr. pepper, pepper.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 7
  • Tannin : 6
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 8.5
  • Taste intensity: 7.5
  • Tastes like : taking one bite of Taco Bell then one bite of Rita’s Blue Raspberry water ice and swallowing it all at once.
  • Good with : spicy mexican, Taco Bell, pining over foreign wine destinations.

SCORE: 8.33

     

WILLAMETTE VALLEY VINEYARDS. Pinot Noir – Whole Cluster. Willamette Valley, OR. $14.99.

IMG_0381You’re probably thinking “Jesus, is pinot noir the only thing this dude drinks?” Not really. I’m actually quite over pinot noir because yes, I’ve had it for like two weeks. Friends, Moms, friends of Moms have been coming in droves to visit and all they bring is pinot, because 1.) the Sideways effect (drink pinot, don’t drink merlot) is still going strong and 2.) light, fruity red wine is the hot thing right now. This particular wine takes light and fruity to a whole new level and here’s why.

THE FACTS: “Whole Cluster” is a fancy way to say “carbonic maceration” which is a fancy way to describe some weird red winemaking. Normal red winemaking is when you mash grapes up, add yeast and turn the mashed up grapes into wine. Weird red winemaking, or carbonic maceration, is when you throw whole grape clusters in a tank, put CO2 inside, make the grapes explode, then ferment the juice after the grapes burst. Definitely not the most traditional way of doing things. The result is a soft, light, pretty un-tannic (no real taste of the skins, seeds, stems, etc) low acid wine with tons of fruit flavor. Pinot noir is a good candidate for this craziness because its pretty low in tannin to begin with and the process tends to enhance the killer red fruit that usually comes with it.

THE LOWDOWN: Pretty goofy nose that smells of bubblegum and sweet red fruit. Some herbalness in there too.  Very light bodied, super low in tannin for a red, and ridiculously fruity. Yet still dry. Bust this out for your obnoxious friend that drinks sweet moscato. It’s the poor man’s dry red.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Red

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8
  • Smells like : bubblegum, raspberries, curry

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 4
  • Tannin : 2
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Light
  • Finish : 4
  • Taste intensity: 8.5
  • Tastes like : putting a piece of Bubblicious regular and a piece Bubblicious cherry in your mouth at the same time….in an Indian restaurant.
  • Good with : Curry, chinese take out, little league games.

SCORE: 8.02

     

THE DREAMING TREE. Chardonnay. 2013. Central Coast, CA. $14.99.

IMG_0808Jill is a self proclaimed chardonnay girl. Although I don’t know if Dave Matthews is her kinda music, she keeps going back to this not because the famous singer is behind this wine, but because it’s good and Jill knows what she likes, especially when it comes to chardonnay.

THE FACTS: Wine is a total preference thing. You like what you like. Period. Along with myself, there are plenty of people out there, some who get paid quite handsomely (not myself) to rate wine and tell you why they think one is better than the other. These high falootin’ sommeliers will all tell you that one of the most important characteristics of a wine is balance. Now you’re probably all “don’t get uppity on my ass with these cushy wine terms” but good balance can simply be defined as when a wine touches on all aspects of its taste i.e. solid structure, fresh acidity, present but not in your face tannin and alcohol, finish and, of course, flavor. This here wine gets my personal approval because it does just that….it has a little bit of everything.

THE LOWDOWN: Pretty intense nose of citrus, vanilla and oak, not full blown oak (like the recent Vintner’s Reserve). Medium to full body with a soft feel to it and a taste a lot like the smell, but somewhat creamy. Again, not overbearing in any one thing…just good mesh of little bit of everything. Decent finish too.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Gold

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8
  • Smells like : vanilla beans, mineral water, lemons

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 6
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Medium-Full
  • Finish : 7.5
  • Tastes like : mineral water spiked with cream soda, all with a lemon twist
  • Good with : Helluva Dip and chips, cheese and crackers, white pizza

SCORE: 9.05

 

     

GNARLY HEAD. Pinot Noir. 2012. California. $8.99.

IMG_0380

You’d be lying to yourself if the first thing you thought of when you saw this bottle wasn’t “great oral sex.” This should be studied in business schools across the nation because it’s pure marketing brilliance. Pump out a couple million bottles of the same vintage, slap some sexual innuendo on the label, sell it for cheap and voila you got yourself a sound business model.

THE FACTS: You or your surfer friend or that dude you know from California may use the term “gnarly” for something that is “awesome,” “extreme” and even sometimes “disgusting.” In the wine world its actually used to describe a vine that is old, thick and twisted that crops out relatively smaller batches of more intensely flavored grapes.  “Head” to us winos not only means going down on someone, but also signifies the top of the trunk of the vine where fruit producing canes shoot out from. Hence the pure geniusness of the name Gnarly Head.

THE LOWDOWN: Weak smell…if you try hard enough maybe you can get a red fruit whiff. Super basic taste that comes off a little bitter and vegetable-like. You want some nice sharp, fresh acidity with pinot noirs and this one just seemed more jammed out. Pretty simple stuff. There’s gnarlier pinots out there.

THE SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Red

Smell :

  • Intensity : 2.5
  • Smells like : grocery store cherries, raspberries

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 4
  • Tannin : 3
  • Alcohol : 13%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 2
  • Tastes like : mixing peas on your dinner plate with the strawberries on the table that have been sitting out for a while.
  • Good with : everyday pork chops and peas, mediocre beejs

SCORE: 3.87

     

BRIDGEVIEW-BLUE MOON. Pinot Noir. 2009. Oregon. $14.99

IMG_0815Mariota isn’t a Philadelphia Eagle. Get over it. He’s gonna look dumb when he puts that ugly Titan’s jersey on and he’s gonna look even dumber when he tries to play under a coach that isn’t Chip Kelly. I’m done talking about it right….now.

After a very subpar experience drinking a very overrated pinot gris from Oregon during the draft, I refused to believe that 1.) the Eagles will suck this year and 2.) Oregon makes shitty wine. To rebound on both these notions I needed alcohol and I needed it to be wine from Oregon. I put my faith in this pinot noir sourced from grapes all over the state and it delivered.

THE FACTS: Oregon can grow some serious pinot noir. The Willamette Valley just south of Portland is known as the mecca for the stuff, but looking south the cooler parts of the Umpqua Valley and Rogue Valley both do their share of producing a rad crop as well. This is a notoriously rainy section of the world but rains that roll up during the summer don’t hit the valleys as much because they’re essentially caught by the coastal mountains, leaving the valleys on the other side dry…which the grapes like. Fogs still roll in from the Pacific in the morning and night which cools off the grapes from the sun-bake and it’s this process that helps retain that all important acidity for the Pinot Noir. Because the climate in Oregon is a lot like Burgundy in France means these wines usually come at a hefty price, especially if they’re sourced from the Willamette, but you can find some good deals if the bottle just says “Oregon”….exhibit A. pictured above.

SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Red

Smell :

  • Intensity : 8.5
  • Smells like : tart cherries, underripe strawberries, coffee

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 8.5
  • Tannin : 6.5
  • Alcohol : 13%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 9
  • Tastes like : a breakfast with coffee and fresh red fruits…strawberries, raspberries, etc.
  • Conclusion : Pretty intense nose with a lot of red fruit and some oak. A higher, rougher tannin than most Pinots with a bigger body than most Pinots. The kick ass acidity plus all that red fruit make for a bomb finish.
  • Good with : Beef stew, Sunday brunch, getting over sports soap operas

SCORE: 9.10

 

 

     

A TO Z. Pinot Gris. 2013. Oregon. $13.99

IMG_0820Goddamnit I wanted Marcus Mariota. Every Eagles fan did. If you bleed green like I do, you too would’ve been fired up if Chip somehow landed the poster boy for his offense. But he didn’t. Another high expectation, followed by another crushing disappointment. This is the life of a every Bird’s fan. Imagine me, 8:00 last night, amped beyond belief and ready to uncork a Pinot Gris from Oregon, a state known not only for a superior college football team (who have all graduated and now play in Philadelphia) but for it’s superior Pinots. A Pinot thats supposed to be full, long and bright like Marcus Mariota’s career in Philly. Then….fuck. 2nd pick of the draft, Marcus Mariota goes to the Titans. A to Z Pinot Gris tastes like sulphur and all around general piss. Night and offseason both ruined. Go Phils?

THE FACTS: Pinot Gris is the second most planted grape in Oregon behind it’s in-bred cousin Pinot Noir. You’ve probably had a Pinot Grigio before because it’s the single most consumed wine in America, so what’s the difference? Pinot Grigios are done in whats typically referred to as the “Italian style”…..always fermented and aged in stainless steel leading to a light, crisp and fairly simple wine. Pinot Gris from Oregon on the other hand are generally more full bodied and robust, sometimes benefiting and responding well to oak. They tend to be more complex and are oftentimes more round, fleshy and mouth filling …all leading to a wine that has a little more umph and interestingness than your typical Pinot Grigio. Winemag does another good run down of Oregon Pinot Gris here for some more info on a very under appreciated wine.

The problem with this wine is that it’s just too mass produced. When this happens batches of bottles can get faulty and this one definitely had its faults. Try another Pinot Gris from Oregon because it’s one of my personal favs and it’ll definitely be more fun than going with that same lame ass Pinot Grigio.

SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 2
  • Smells like :  pears, apples, a Florida lawn

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 7
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Medium
  • Finish : 2
  • Tastes like : eating a Florida apple on a Florida lawn. FYI: apples aren’t grown in Florida
  • Conclusion : Weak nose, that upon further investigation smelled a little sulphuric. Some hints of pear, but nothing to write home about. Hardly any finish and quite light for a wine that was supposed to be full and zesty. Had some solid acidity, but that just added sourness to a pretty beat wine.
  • Good with : Salad with old vegetables, an unexciting NFL draft.

SCORE: 2.86

 

     

VINTER’S RESERVE – KENDALL-JACKSON. Chardonnay. 2013. California. $13.99.

IMG_0809always-sunny-the-gang-broke-deeDee: Well, I am not white trash. I am a kind and a generous and a good-natured lady.
Dennis: Well, I—I do seem to remember you calling the guy a faggot.
Dee: Yeah, I absolutely called him a faggot, he ordered Chardonnay. What was I supposed to do?

As depicted in this episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, chardonnay isn’t quite the most masculine wine to drink here in the States. Which, truthfully, I can’t figure out. Bourbon’s a man’s man drink right? Well Cali chards like this are basically wine bourbon. They’re oaky, alcoholic, full bodied and taste a bizzilion times better than a drink that feels like fire and you have to walk around and sip. I’ll take something thats chuggable, smooth, buttery and better with food any day.

THE FACTS: Talk about a man’s man. The story of Jess Jackson basically goes like this: Grows up poor. Takes loans out and becomes a lawyer. Wants to show his kids how to work hard and farm so he buys 80 or so acres in California and plants chardonnay. He hires a Dead Head who makes it into a wine thats full bodied, heavily oaked, super creamy and a little sweet. Pretty much the opposite of what “good white wine” from Europe was supposed to taste like in the 80’s. But Nancy Reagan likes it and says its her favorite wine. They sell out. He could stop there, but doesn’t and takes more ridiculous loans out to buy an insane amount of California real estate to plant more grapes. His wife divorces him, it looks like its all going to shit, but the world soon finds out California is one of the best places on earth to grow grapes. Him, his hot new young wife and their golden retriever live happily ever after.

SCORECARD (out of ten)

Look : Yellow

Smell :

  • Intensity : 7
  • Smells like :  whiskey barrels, honey, mangos.

Taste :

  • Sweetness : Dry
  • Acidity : 4
  • Tannin : 0
  • Alcohol : 13.5%
  • Body : Full
  • Finish : 7.5
  • Tastes like : butterscotch bourbon without the alcohol mixed with pineapple juice and creamer.
  • Conclusion : If you’re looking for a chardonnay with a balanced attack of fruit and oak, this ain’t it. Heavily oaked, full bodied, and creamy which makes it tough to find the hidden trop fruit. Definitely a soft, rounded out mouthfeel. Buy this if you want to experience the true taste of a Californian chardonnay.
  • Good with : eggs benedict, mac n’ cheese, dive bars in Philadelphia

SCORE: 7.51

     
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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