Tasting Notes: Gnarly Head Zinfandel

The Facts

  • Producer: Gnarly Head
  • Region: Lodi, California
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Variety: Zinfandel
  • Where I purchased: Grocery Store
  • Price: $9.99

When doing some reading about food pairings, I kept coming across references to this wine as a great find for an every day wine that is widely available. People were raving about it! I knew I wanted a new wine to try with dinner, so I stopped into my local grocery store (Harris Teeter for those East Coast folks out there) and picked up a bottle!

  • Eyes: This wine was a very dark red and purple color. I've come to realize that the color of this wine is my favorite color... sounds silly, but it's beautiful. The wine was definitely more opaque than the wines I've been drinking as of late, so I assumed that it would have bolder and fuller flavors.
     
  • Nose: This wine smelled amazing to me! I already love the color and this wine's aroma is quickly becoming my favorite scent. It smelled like dark red fruit... dark red cherry and plum. I noted a hint of spice and pepper. I was very excited to give this wine a taste after the nose!
     
  • Mouth: This wine had a good weight to it, especially considering the price. I tend to find that less expensive wines are lighter in body even if it's a varietal that is typically full-bodied (for light vs. full body think about the weight of skim milk vs. whole milk). I definitely got notes of the dark berry and pepper again which as you probably know by now are my favorite. There was a nice smoothness or vanilla flavor to it as well, which is likely due to oak.
     
  • Thoughts: DEFINITELY a buy if you're looking for a fuller bodied, flavorful red at an affordable price point. I tend to love Cabs, but it can be difficult to find one with this much flavor at this price point (if you know of one, please pass along the name!) so this will definitely be a regular in our home. Plus, who can beat the convenience of finding it in our local grocery store?! I will definitely have to look to see if they carry it at other big box stores like Target or Walmart. If you're making the transition to reds from whites or are new to wine, this may not be your favorite because it is bolder in flavor, but for $9.99, I say give it a try anyway! You never know what flavors may end up loving. We were having some Korean Beef Sirloin, and I thought that the wine paired well with the Asian flavors and spice of the dish.

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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?! 

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Tasting Notes: Cardwell Hill Cellars Pinot Noir

The Facts

  • Producer: Cardwell Hill Cellars
  • Region: Willamette Valley, Washington State, USA
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $30
  • Eyes: Almost a raspberry red color. Darker than the majority of pinot noirs I have seen. Had a beautiful maroon color while pouring into my glass.
     
  • Nose: I had difficulty getting much of a nose on this one. I should probably invest in a pinot noir glass mentioned in my glassware post. Anyway, I smelled red berries first, something akin to strawberries, and then something I deemed "unidentfiable". My nose was familiar with the smell, but I couldn't pin point the word to associate with it. It was earthy, but not musty. Maybe iron? Or wet rocks? That is the closest I came to recognizing it.
     
  • Mouth: Full bodied for a pinot noir. Fruit forward with a hint of sourness.
     
  • Thoughts: I really enjoyed this wine, especially for a pinot noir as I typically shy away from the varietal. I'm glad this blog is forcing me to try new things and to broaden my wine horizons beyond big, bold cabs and red blends. Anyway, I enjoyed it, but not sure if I'd get it again as an everyday wine at its price point, but I will definitely be looking to try more Pinots from the Willamette Valley region.

I compared my notes to what Total Wine had out of curiosity and was surprised to find that I had hit some of the same things they had published, likely from the producer. Their notes were: Raspberry, cherry, cinnamon, green tomato & mineral notes on finish. Other descriptors were: elegant, raspberry, cherry, full-bodied.

Disclaimer: This is the first "tasting notes" I have done both on the blog and personally. I have never kept track of what I drink beyond maybe writing the name of the wine in my Notes on my iPhone and then never referencing it again. I have never had any formal training on how to taste beyond a Wine 101 class at my local Corkbuzz (post on this place to come later) and the tasting section was pretty generic, so needless to say, this will not be even close to perfect. But the trick to getting to perfect? Practice! So that is what I'm doing. 

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