Tasting Notes: Josh Cellars Family Reserve Cabernet

It may be 2018, but I am still working through Total Wine's Top 20 of 2017, slowly but surely. I know I've mentioned this before, but I am always intrigued to try Cabernets at a more value price. Cabernet is such a popular (the most popular?) wine varietal, so I like to have a tasty, but affordable, option available for guests, and now readers!

Josh Family Reserve Cabernet.jpg

The Facts

  • Producer: Josh Cellars by Joseph Carr
  • Region: North Coast, California
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $16.99

First, let me share with you what the bottle description says. I always love reading these because they're usually ridiculous marketing ploys, but I also like to see if I pick up on the same notes they identify.

Wine bursts with plum and blackberry flavors, layered with vanilla, roasted hazelnuts, and a long finish supported by tannin.

I absolutely got the blackberry notes in this wine. It smelled like really dark fruits, and perhaps, a little jammy. I am usually turned off by "jammy" wines because I think it's a sign that an inexpensive wine is trying to be "bold" with over-oaking, but there's nothing to balance it. This wine, however, was actually not that way. It was easy to drink, more medium-bodied than full-bodied with balanced tannin and a nice vanilla touch to it. Not a vanilla bomb! It went very well with our pot roast, but was also nice to drink on its own. I think this may be the relatively inexpensive Cab winner for the moment! If you're headed out to a dinner party and want a more affordable wine to bring, I think this Josh Family Reserve is a great option!


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Tasting Notes: 19 Crimes Red Blend

If you've never seen 19 Crimes, you may live under a rock. I'm just kidding, but really I have seen this wine everywhere. The frosted bottle and menacing label always intrigued me, plus I always thought it'd be nice to have a wine I liked that I could get almost anywhere, but for whatever reason I never bit the bullet. I'm not sure why, but I never did. Finally, my dad gave me a bottle to try. 

The Facts

  • Producer: 19 Crimes
  • Region: South Eastern Australia
  • Vintage: 2016
  • Variety: GSM blend (Grenache, Shiraz/Syrah, Mataro/Mourvedre) , with the majority being Shiraz.
  • Where I purchased: Widely available - Grocery store, Target, Costco, Total Wine, etc.
  • Price: $8.99 - $11.99

Eyes: This wine is DARK purple. It's got an opaque center to just a slightly lighter rim. Very characteristic color of a New World, young, Shiraz-heavy GSM blend. Expecting it to be a bold, flavorful wine.

Nose: Black fruit and vanilla. I also think it has sort of a medicinal smell that I can't say is pleasant. I'm not sure what that is coming from, but it reminds me of Robitussin or something. Needless to say, that was unexpected.

Mouth: Wine is full-bodied and a vanilla bomb. I know people will describe it's texture as "smooth", but to me it was lacking acidity and/or tannin. The texture just seems sort of one-note to me. The flavor that lingered after sipping was pleasant, probably because it was less vanilla-y. 

Thoughts: I can't lie... I was disappointed in this wine. I had a feeling before I even opened it (maybe because of the bottle design?) that it was going to be very vanilla-y, and that is exactly what I got. I wish I knew what their aging process or wine-making process was, but their website doesn't give much info. To me, there's something missing and it's tough to put your finger on what exactly that is. That being said, if you like full-bodied, oaky, smooth red wines, I think this is a good choice at an excellent price point with an availability that can't be beat. I know this wine is super popular, but for me, I prefer other bottles to this one for my every day. I will give them props for their marketing though -- crimes on each cork? Love it. 



Tasting Notes: Ancient Peaks Renegade

Whew -- it's been a busy couple of weeks. Can I get an amen?! I've been traveling a lot for work recently, but luckily my parents came into town this past weekend. It was great to see them, and naturally, our weekend was filled with delicious food and great wine. On Saturday night, we hit up one of our favorites, Good Food on Montford. If you're a Charlotte local and have never been there, you need to go. NOW. Their wine menu is different and unique, but the waiter recommended this bottle to accompany our small plates for the evening. So how did it fare?

The Facts

  • Producer: Ancient Peaks Winery
  • Region: Paso Robles, CA
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Variety: 93% Syrah, 4% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot
  • Where I purchased: Restaurant. I haven't found any big name stores that carry it yet, but it may be worth a look at your local wine shop. You can also order it online directly from the winery here.
  • Price: $24.00 on the winery's website
Ancient Peaks Renegade Blend
  • Eyes: The waiter mentioned we'd love the color, and he wasn't wrong. It was a deep purple color which you can kind of see in the picture above. This isn't surprising given the grape breakdown, but I knew this wine was going to be full-bodied and bold after seeing that color.
  • Nose: This wine smelled like a fruit bomb, but with a hint of oak. I picked up on some of the vanilla, but it was really the smell of dark and black fruit... think blackberry, black plum, etc. The aromas were delicious, and I couldn't wait to try it!
  • Mouth: This wine was tasty... those dark fruit aromas came through and there was spice as well, as promised by the waiter. What more could I ask for? Those are my two favorite things! It was very bold in flavor, but the notes of vanilla helped smooth it out. 
  • Thoughts: Overall, it's a great choice for those of you that like bold wine. Bold isn't always good, especially as we go into the hot summer, but when a full-bodied and spicy wine is needed, this is definitely a great choice. I also think it's a good value at $24 a bottle... that price range typically lends to bigger flavors than the lower priced wines but it isn't so expensive that you could only have it once in a blue moon. I'll be checking out our local wine shops to see if I can locate this puppy in Charlotte. I also think this that this blend shows I need to try more Syrah!


Tasting Notes: Phantom

In honor of Halloween, one of my favorite holidays to decorate for, I thought I'd share my tasting notes for one of my favorite wines that just so happens to have a spooky name and an eery label!

The Facts

  • Producer: Bogle Vineyards
  • Region: California
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Variety: Blend of Petit Sirah (46%), Zinfandel (40%), Cabernet Sauvignon (11%), and Mourvedre (3%)
  • Where I purchased: Originally a wine shop in the mountains of North Carolina, but most recently Total Wine and Trader Joe's.
  • Price: $16.99
  • Eyes: Very deep red color, like almost a dark maroon. I noticed that it almost looks opaque when pouring and while in the glass.
  • Nose: Red berries with a hint of spice. Not sure of the red berries, but something darker given the color would be my guess.
  • Mouth: Full-bodied, definitely a bold wine. Black fruit such as blackberries. Medium tannin and very smooth to drink. Spice could be black pepper, but a vanilla flavor plays up the smoothness. After some further research about the wines that go into the blend, popular or common flavors were plum, blackcurrants, and  pepper. While I'm still developing my ability to identify flavors from the get-go, I can see these as being characteristic of Phantom as well.
  • Thoughts: I think this is my favorite red blend. It is definitely bolder and deeper in flavor, but is at a relatively inexpensive option. I would definitely recommend Phantom for someone who enjoys cabs. Also, who doesn't love a cool label?!