Tasting Notes: Da Vinci Chianti

Happy "Favorite Friday"! July went by quickly, but I am super excited to see the arrival of August. What's happening in August you may ask? Kevin and I are headed to the wonderful country of Italy to celebrate our first anniversary! We've been looking forward to this trip since our honeymoon, so we're glad it's finally (almost) here! 

The summer is over, which means the majority of my traveling for work is behind me. It's a relief to be home for more than two or three days at a time and to actually get to spend quality time with my husband and pup. I travel to small towns typically, so the wine choices are usually what I can find at a Kroger or even Walmart. It's not the best situation, but I've tried to find a wine or two that I like that I can buy even in the smallest of towns. One is the Gnarly Head Zinfandel that I reviewed previously, but this Da Vinci Chianti is another solid choice. Both are affordable and very drinkable... important when you're away for work!

The Facts

  • Producer: Da Vinci Wines
  • Region: Chianti region in Tuscany, Italy
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Variety: 90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine*
  • Price: $11.29*

*Note: I was able to find this at Whole Foods and our local Harris Teeter for $12.99. That seems to be the typical price in stores other than Total Wine.

  • Eyes: This wine was a medium purpleish-red color. I've been drinking so much white wine recently, that it was nice to get back to wines that are my favorite color! The wine was also almost translucent and did not have an haziness.
     
  • Nose: The wine smelled of ripe raspberries and spice. According to my Wine Folly guide, clove is a popular aroma for Sangiovese grapes. I actually happened to have some dried cloves on hand from making bread-and-butter pickles, so I got up and smelled them. I was finally able to put it together that the "spice" smell I was picking up on was clove!

    As a side note, if you're looking to improve your aroma identification skills, start smelling things! I like to smell my spices when cooking, and I also am that crazy person who walks around the grocery store smelling everything. I've even started smelling the can of tennis balls when I open them to make sure I've got down the "freshly opened can of tennis ball" smell down from Somm (only sort of joking). It's the best way to learn!
     
  • Mouth: This wine is a bit jammy, but not overwhelmingly so. There are flavors of cherry and plum, and those fruits just taste very ripe. There is also a hint of pepper, which helps balance out the ripeness of the fruit. I think the wine has good body to it and also a decent amount of tannin. It's got a medium finish, so it doesn't linger too long. Overall, it's easy drinking, but has more complexity than some of the other inexpensive wines out there.
     
  • Thoughts: Well, it's a Favorite Friday post, so you know I'm a fan. Do I need it to be part of my stash all the time? I wouldn't say so, but I think it's best described as my "safe bet" when at a restaurant with a less than stellar wine list or in a town with very limited choices for wine. It's a good value at $12.99 in grocery stores, so I plan to keep this name in my back pocket for future business trips.

What are your favorite "safe bet" wines? 

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Tasting Notes: Coelho Atracao Pinot Noir

It's no longer 2015, but this is the fifth wine from my Total Wine 2015 Challenge. I figured I had until they put out another list.

The Facts

  • Producer: Coelho Winery
  • Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $21.99
  • Eyes: This wine is a very bright red or cherry red color. I could see through this wine, which supports the fact that this wine was medium bodied. Based on swirling the wine, it appeared to have lower viscosity, which likely means medium alcohol level. Here is a good, brief article that elaborates on that relationship.
     
  • Nose: This wine smelled like ripe red fruits to me. Fruits that came to mind were cranberry and strawberry. I did not see any hint of oak or spice aromas.
     
  • Mouth: When I tasted this wine, I did not get any tannin and high acidity, which is common for Pinot Noir. It was a more "feminine" Pinot Noir meaning it had more of the red fruit, jammy, and cherry cola flavors.
     
  • Thoughts: To be honest, I was very confused by this wine. To me, it was very jammy with little depth. However, when I looked this wine up on Total Wine's website, it was described as having notes of cedar, spice, and chocolate. Regardless of this disparity, this wine just really didn't do it for me and there are other wines I prefer at that price point (or even less). However, remember, tastes in wine are so subjective! If you love lighter, fruit forward red wines, then give it a go!

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Tasting Notes: Kitchen Sink Red Table Wine

This is the fourth wine from my Total Wine 2015 Challenge

The Facts

  • Producer: Kitchen Sink
  • Region: California
  • Vintage: No year specified
  • Variety: Red Table Wine - a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $9.99
  • Eyes: This wine is a "medium" red. It's dark, but not opaque like some of the more full-bodied wines I have had. Also, while swirling my glass, the wine seems more viscous. Both of these wines lead me to believe that the wine will be lighter bodied for a red blend.
     
  • Nose: This wine has a good nose... pretty fragrant for a red. The most prominent smell that came across was a dark berry, like raspberry or blackberry.
     
  • Mouth: My instinct from the "eyes" portion was correct. This wine is medium bodied and pretty smooth. It's what I like to call "drinkable"... easy to drink with good flavor. It is fruity with little spice and medium tannin. Based on my research, other flavors that have been identified are creme de cassis (liquor made from blackcurrants), plum, and pepper. I didn't taste any pepper notes, but that could just be my palate. 
     
  • Thoughts: I would say this pretty good for the $9.99 price point. As some of the other less expensive wines I've had, I definitely think this is a good intro for those trying out red wines due to the low tannins. I prefer more spice and "bite" to my red if I'm have a good meal, but I would say it's a nice choice for every day table wine. We ate this with sauteed chicken in a light tomato sauce, and I thought it paired quite nicely!

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Tasting Notes: Happy Camper Cabernet

The Facts

  • Producer: Happy Camper Vineyards
  • Region: California
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $8.99

This is the first wine from my Total Wine 2015 Challenge.

  • Eyes: Deep red color. Seems like a medium body wine based on the pour and look of wine the glass. Wine was less opaque than others I have had.
     
  • Nose: Fruit forward, red fruit. Definitely some cherry. Hint of spice, maybe pepper. 
     
  • Mouth: Fairly smooth for an inexpensive cab, but also some tannin which provides a "depth" that I find most inexpensive cabs lack. Medium body; lighter viscosity than other cabs.
     
  • Thoughts: Very surprised by this cab, especially considering it was less than $9 after my coupon. Another note about this wine is that it was a screwtop which is VERY convenient if you're out and about somewhere... say, camping! If your taste preferences lean toward full-bodied, bold cabs, then I would shy away. However, if you like something lighter and cheap for "every day" wines, or if you're new to cabs, then I would definitely add this one to your "to try" list!

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