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!

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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: The Path Pinot Noir

I typically shy away from wine with Asian food. I don't know what it is about the flavors, but I usually decide that beer is the way to go. However, there are times you are just really wanting a nice glass of wine with dinner, even if you're having an Asian dish! Because of this, I starting researching what people recommend with Asian flavors. Spicy dishes are you usally told to pair with off-dry Riesling. For dishes with umami flavors (soy, oyster sauce, ginger, etc), I read that fruity and low tannin reds work well. Their specific suggestions were California Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. Based on this, I decided to tackle the wine section at Whole Foods while picking up my other groceries and came across this lower-priced Pinot.

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The Facts

  • Producer: The Path
  • Region: California
  • Vintage: 2015
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: $12.99

Cherry, cherry, cherry! While I've had some California Pinot Noir with darker fruit notes, this one was tart cherry through and through with some cola notes. There was also a hint of earthiness , but nothing like what you'd get from Burgundy or Willamette. It had a good weight to it, as I sometimes find Pinot Noir to be too light bodied and thin for my taste. As to be expected, there was lower tannin and bright acidity. I had to agree with the article I read that the fruit-forward nature of this Pinot went well with our soy-ginger chicken. While there are Pinot Noirs I prefer more than this one (see this post), the convenience of having a tasty, easy-drinking option at the grocery store we visit almost daily is nice and the price is right.


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Tasting Notes: Trader Joe's Reserve Brut Sparkling

I'm back, everyone! It was nice to take a break, especially since it was my first "busy season" at my new job. There were some long nights in there, but I pulled through! To celebrate the return, I thought what better than to have a sparkling wine. Plus, in case you haven't noticed, they're my favorite.

While we were on the Whole30 (which if I'm being honest, I didn't finish), we did a bit of shopping at Trader Joe's. I've always been a little intimidated by their wine section because I just don't know where to start. I know there are some gems in there, but I'm more worried about the bad apples I may have to try (ex: their canned wine) to get to the gems. Anyway, the last time I was there, I decided to risk it and put this inexpensive bubbly into my basket.

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The Facts

  • Producer: Trader Joe's (I guess?)
  • Region: California's North Coast
  • Vintage: NV
  • Variety: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Trader Joe's
  • Price: $9.99

After looking at the bottle more, I had high hopes for this wine. It said "Methode Champenoise" on the label which means the wine goes through secondary fermentation in the bottle... same as Champagne. Plus, it is the same grapes as Champagne, so that combined with the "methode champenoise", I was hoping for that hidden gem I mentioned earlier! When I opened the bottle, I did not get any hint of breadiness (often described as yeasty, brioche, toast, etc.). This comes from the wine being on the lees, or dead yeast cells. It's my new favorite flavor and aroma in a sparkling wine, so I was a little disappointed. But for $9.99, my expectations were way too high, and I could move past it. The wine was definitely fresh and zingy. Lots of citrus and tart apple notes. It was almost a little too zingy... definitely no shortage of acid in there. I'd say at first, it made my eyes go wide, but then I got used to it and found it to be refreshing. I think it'd be great for mimosas or with fried foods because that acidity would be perfect to cleanse the palate. I think I'll try their rosé next time! 

Do you have any favorites at Trader Joes? Leave a comment, if so. I'd love to try them!


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Tasting Notes: Carson Ridge Cabernet

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that my heart has been very heavy for those affected by the fires in the Sonoma and Napa areas in California. The fires have been absolutely devastating and my heart breaks for everyone there. Kevin and I got engaged in Napa, so this region holds a very special place in our hearts. If you'd like to help those who have lost everything, please consider donating to Rebuild Wine Country, fiscally sponsored by Habitat for Humanity where 100% of the donations will go toward rebuilding homes, or the Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund. Please continue to keep them all in your thoughts and prayers as the fires are starting to be contained and the rebuilding process begins.

Every year, Total Wine releases their Top 20. As a disclaimer, I have no earthly idea how they decide what to base the Top 20 on. Is it sales? Is it reviews? Is it politicking by the distributors? Who knows, but I do like to give them a whirl because they are almost always affordable and good values. In this year's Top 20, I think the most expensive bottle is Champagne at about $35 a bottle. That's certianly more than my every day budget, but it's also not a bad price for Champagne!

Anyway, I picked out about five or six bottles to try for this first go around. Also, sidenote: I've given Olema Chardonnay a try before. Different vintage this year, of course, but you can read my review of the 2013 Olema here. First up was the Carson Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Facts

  • Producer: Carson Ridge
  • Region: Paso Robles, California
  • Vintage: 2016
  • Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $11.99
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My first thought was, "DANG. This is pretty good for $11.99 (or less if you've got a coupon)!" I'd say it's more medium body, likely thinner than people expect for a Cab and the dark ruby red color. Dark fruit and fruit pie come across on the palate, but there's a zing of acid. I've come to expect that jammy or stewed fruit flavor from low dollar Cabs, but this one is by no means a vanilla bomb which makes me happy. Not very tannic. Overall, I'd say there's a decent balance and complexity for the price. 

The wine went well with our hearty short ribs, mashed potatoes, and green beans dinner. I actually found I liked it less after dinner, which was unexpected. It's utlimately why I bumped it from three bunches to two. Overall, good value, but doesn't necessarily blow my socks off. I think I can find better, but if I don't, I'll come back and change the rating because... well, $11.99.


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Tasting Notes: Seghesio Old Vine Carignane

Wine and cheese. Is there a more famous, and perfect, pairing? I think not. When I saw that Weekly Tasting put together a box for wines to pair with cheese, I had to order it. My favorite duo! After a weekend back in Texas celebrating the marriage of one of my best friends, I knew a cheese plate was the perfect way to top of the weekend. I read over the information cards that accompany their boxes to find which one would pair well with a few cheeses, and this Carignane was the winner! 

The Facts

*This bottle came in my "Cheese & Wine: The Perfect Pair" pack, which is four wines for $69.99 including shipping. If you are interested in trying it for yourself, please contact Weekly Tasting to see if there are any packs still available for purchase. Also, I do know that Total Wine carries their Zinfandel, so it may be worth it to ask if they can order the Carignane for you.

Eyes: It's that beautiful magenta color that I love so dearly. Not quite purple, but also not a true red. Looks like it's going to be tasty! (Is that a thing? I think it's a thing for me. I guess I should admit that I judge books by their cover...)

Nose: Smells great! Definitely get a lot of ripe red fruit, especially raspberry. There's also a hint of spice and something earthy. Maybe the earthiness reminds me a bit of leather? Regardless, it smells like it will have some depth to it, but with the fruit being front and center.

Mouth: The ripe fruit on the nose comes through as a little more jammy on the palette, but not so jammy that it tastes overdone. There were mild tannins and a slight burn I usually want to call spice, but that's probably the alcohol. This wine has a good balance to it to keep it interesting. Nothing is worse than a jammy and flabby wine! 

Thoughts: I think this is my favorite wine from Weekly Tasting yet. There was a Quo Grenache they had that was also excellent, but the Carignane takes the cake. It also paired perfectly with the Robusto (best cheese EVER, you can find it at Whole Foods) and the Stilton blue we purchased. This pack was selected by Laura Maniec, and her information card suggested those types of cheeses. She was SO right! YUM! As I mentioned above, I haven't found this wine elsewhere yet, but I am definitely going to be on the lookout! Also, I plan to try out their Zinfandel which is available at Total Wine.

Story: Seghesio has been in Sonoma for over 120 years! The vineyard was started in 1895 when Edoardo Seghesio, an Italian immigrant, planted some Zinfandel vines. While many wineries went to ruin, Seghesio was one of the few vineyards to survive Prohibition. Seghesio was a family owned operation until it became part of the Crimson Wine Group in 2011. Ted Seghesio, 4th generation, is still the winemaker.

What is Carignane? Carignane, or more commonly spelled as Carignan and pronounced care-in-yen, is a grape usually used in blending and is mostly grown in Southern France. You can read Wine Folly's full write-up on Carignan here, but the grape is making a comeback and is typically a good value. If you like Merlot, Zinfandel, or Syrah/Grenache blends, definitely check out wines made from this grape!