Tasting Notes: Wild Oats Shiraz

The recovery process from a cold and bronchitis has been long, but I am back at it! I've had a good return to wine with this Australian Shiraz.

The Facts

  • Producer: Wild Oats by Oatley Family Wines
  • Region: Central Ranges of New South Wales (NSW), Australia
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Variety: Shiraz
  • Where I purchased: Harris Teeter. I hear it can be found at World Market, too.
  • Price: $13.99
  • Eyes: This wine was a very pretty color! It was a very deep red with some hint of purple. The wine was opaque, so paired with the fact that this is a Shiraz, I expect this wine to be full bodied and fruit forward.
     
  • Nose: This wine's aroma was very fruity, but not sweet smelling. I picked up on some blackberry and cassis (liqueur made from black currant berries). It also reminded me of chambord, the liqueur made from red and black raspberries. I also picked up on some spice notes, which is typical for the Syrah grape. The spices reminded me of what is referenced in the wine world as "baking spices", so think cinnamon, allspice, etc.  The aroma was very pleasant and definitely made me want to try it, which is always good!
     
  • Mouth: The wine had great flavor of ripe berries (blackberry, blueberry, raspberry) with notes of pepper. It had a great texture where it was smooth and easy to drink but had a little "bite" to it. I enjoy tannins, so this was a great addition. I didn't detect anything herbacious or earthy, which speaks to it being an Australian Shiraz as opposed to a Syrah from the Old World.
     
  • Thoughts: I really enjoyed this wine. It was a great bottle to open after being sick and will definitely be purchased again in our household! We had steak with some roasted vegetables and potatoes, and I thought it went wonderfully with that meal. It's fun to have something that can give depth and flavor without a huge price tag, so this was definitely a win! It's a screw top, which I am coming to love more and more for the convenience factor. I actually opened it, poured a glass, and let it sit for a few minutes by chance, and I think it really developed good flavor after opening up for a bit. However, if you don't like spicy wines, I would skip over this one.

    Wondering what the difference is between Syrah and Shiraz? There is none! It's the same grape variety that came from Europe and Australians simply call it Shiraz. If you'd like to learn more about New World Shiraz vs. Old World Syrah, check out this article by Wine Folly! 

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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: Backbone Cabernet Sauvignon

This wine was not part of the wine challenge, but we have somewhat of a stockpile of bottles, so I figured it was best to work on our inventory for a bit before buying more. I'll try to wrap up the 2015 challenge before the end of 2015 though. 

The Facts

  • Producer: Motto Wines
  • Region: California
  • Vintage: 2013
  • Variety: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Where I purchased: Wine dinner at a local French bistro. It appears that they are sold in our local grocery store, Harris Teeter, as well. They have a "Find Wine" feature on their website to help you locate their distributors. 
  • Price: $15.00 on their website, but we were able to get it for $7.99 from the distributor that was at the dinner. Average price appears to be around $11.
  • Eyes: It is a very pretty red color. It's more of a cherry red color vs a deeper purple-y red that I sometimes find with bolder reds. Definitely not "opaque" like some of the red blends I've had. It makes me anticipate more fruity flavors and a more medium-body for a cabernet. 
     
  • Nose: Definitely fruit forward. Some deep red fruit like raspberry, but I also smelled a hint of spice. Didn't pick up too much probably because I had been cooking spaghetti sauce before and the garlic smell was overwhelming.  For future reference, I should probably taste my wine prior to cooking.
     
  • Mouth: I think the spice I was smelling was wishful thinking (I love spice), and I tasted more of a vanilla flavor. The wine was very smooth to drink with little tannin, which I find to be common in less expensive cabs. It was fruit forward, with some raspberry and maybe some cherry in there.
     
  • Thoughts: Another great choice for every day drinking! I would say it's very "drinkable", meaning it was easy for me to pour more than one glass. For the price, I was very pleasantly surprised with the good flavor in the wine. As I wrote my tasting notes here, I pulled up the wine's fact sheet to see how my notes compared to what the winery said. The first thing I noticed is that this is not 100% cab, which is actually quite normal.

    Fun fact: In the USA, in order to list the wine as one varietal, it must contain at least 80% of that grape.

    Anyway, this wine is actually 80% cabernet sauvignon, 10% petit verdot, 10% petit syrah. I think these other varietals added to the complexity of the flavor well. Their fact sheet also mentioned flavors like plum and caramel. Regardless of these details, I am chalking this up to a success and adding this to my every day list.

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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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