Tasting Notes: Underwood Rosé Bubbles

Last summer, I tried Underwood's The Bubbles canned wine and loved it. So when I saw that Whole Foods was now carrying the rosé version, I was pumped! Sparkling rosé is my favorite thing to drink at the moment, so this was right up my alley, and with the first version being surprisingly tasty, I had high hopes for this can. 

Underwood Rose Bubbles.jpg

The Facts

  • Producer: Union Wine Co.
  • Region: Oregon
  • Vintage: Non-vintage
  • Variety: Unknown
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: $6.99/can

The company's notes read: Wild strawberry, fruit cocktail, and tart cherry. Carbonated wine. This says a lot and definitely set up my expectations for the wine. I expected it to have a sweetness to it, and I expected the bubbles to very fine. "Carbonated wine" means the carbonation was added similar to a soda, as opposed to most other sparkling wines being made through the traditional method or tank method where the bubbles integrate with the wine and become the wine. Both of those expectations were correct. I definitely got a sweet strawberry flavor and even a hint of bubblegum. The residual sugar was more apparent in the rosé version than the classic and it felt flabby, like there wasn't enough acid to balance the sweetness. After our Whole15, I have developed the habit of asking, "Is this worth it?" in relation to calories, sugar, alcohol, etc. In this case, I decided no. I did not find it pleasant to drink, and I could see the sugar giving me a headache later in the evening, so the can went unfinished. Overall, the wine fell very short of my high hopes. I'm not sure I'm totally on the canned wine train, but if I had to choose one, I'd go with the more classic "The Bubbles" version I reviewed previously.

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Tasting Notes: Juvé y Camps Brut Rosé

For as much as I love sparkling wine, there are surprisingly few reviews on sparkling wines. When I came across this sale at Whole Foods, I couldn't pass a bottle up! I first tried the Juvé y Camps brand at Corkbuzz a while back and thoroughly enjoyed it. But this was their rosé, which is even more up my alley! 

The Facts

  • Producer: Juvé y Camps
  • Region: Penedès, Spain (near Barcelona)
  • Vintage: Non-vintage
  • Variety: Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Whole Foods
  • Price: $14.99, on sale

Eyes: This wine is so pretty. Is that weird to say? It's such a lovely deep salmon, almost cherry red color. And I think the bottle is awesome. The label looks classy and fancy... like it's expensive, but it's not!

Nose: The Cava smelled of bright red fruit, like strawberry and cherry. There was a hint of biscuit or toast, which is typical of Cava because it's made in the same method as Champagne, but I would say that it was more fruit forward than toasty. 

Mouth: Tasty! This is a wine that "what you see is what you get", meaning that it tastes fruit forward and refreshing. The strawberry that's on the nose really comes through when you drink it, and I personally don't get a lot of the toast flavor when drinking it. It's very acidic, but has more depth in flavor than a non-rosé Cava. 

Thoughts: I think this is a crowd-pleaser and a good value. Is there great complexity here? No, but for $15, I think it's pretty awesome. I think it's a great bottle to take over to a friend's house or to a celebration if you're not looking to bust out an expensive Champagne. This will likely be my go-to now when I want to pop a bottle at home!

Story: I actually really like the story behind Juvé y Camps. It's a family owned winery near Barcelona that was founded in 1921. The history behind the winery actually started 200 years earlier with the founder's grandfather, Joan Juvé Mir, who was a grape grower. He faced many challenges, including phylloxera and the subsequent replanting of his vines. The first wines were made in the cellar under the family home, and the grandson, Joan Juvé Baqués, decided to start an official winery. Now, Juvé y Camps is regularly served at state banquets by Spain's royal family and is offered to guests of the national government, Senate, and Congress. 

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Tasting Notes: Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages

A couple of weekends ago, Kevin and I did a virtual class with Elizabeth from Wine for Normal People where she walked us through how to taste wines. I have done several different classes around tasting skills, and I always pick up something new from each class. Every person has their own way of describing things, and I enjoy learning tips and tricks from all! Elizabeth is so personable and has a (for lack of a better word) no-bullshit approach when it comes to wine. Hence, Wine for Normal People. Anyway, this Beaujolais wine was the red wine selection for the class. Kevin and I were both surprised by how much we liked it, so I thought I'd share!

As a little background for those unfamiliar with the region, here are some notes on Beaujolais. There is a classification system, specifically three (or four) levels:

  • Cru Beaujolais - The highest level, and only 10 of the 96 villages are able to label their wines as such. These typically are labeled as the Cru name and the 10 villages have their own personality. To get a summary of the different personalities, check out this post from Wine Folly.
  • Beaujolais-Villages - Tier below Cru. There are 38 villages that are in this bucket, and the wines are a bit lighter than Cru and more fruit forward.
  • Beaujolais - The lowest level and most general description. I think of this as the "Kleenex" issue... all Kleenex are tissues, but not all tissues are Kleenex. Similarly, all Crus can be Beaujolais, but not all Beaujolais can be Cru. Note that wines just labeled as "Beaujolais" can vary widely in quality.
  • Beaujolais Nouveau - These wines are released the 3rd week in November. I've seen some in stores that have crazy colorful bottles. Many feel that these wines have not fully developed before they're shipped because there isn't much time between harvest and bottling. You can therefore get sort of funky notes like banana and bubble gum. 

The Facts

  • Producer: Louis Jadot
  • Region: Beaujolais, France (south of Burgundy)
  • Vintage: 2015
  • Variety: 100% Gamay
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $9.97

Edit: I also found this at my local grocery chain for $15.99.

Jadot Beaujolais Villages
  • Eyes: Lighter and more of a cherry red in color, fairly transparent. This immediately gives me the impression it'll be a lighter bodied wine.
  • Nose: Very fruit forward! Smelled like ripe red berries. Some other students picked up on a more earthy smell, but the fruit is what was most apparent to me.
  • Mouth: This is one of those wines where what you smell is what you get. It is very fruity with cherry and strawberry shining through, but don't confuse fruity with sweet. It's not sweet. I also picked up on a hint of earthiness, which is common in French wine, but I didn't feel like I was eating dirt or anything. It's had a nice medium body with good acidity. Tannin was not apparent, which is characteristic of the grape. 
  • Thoughts: This red, and Gamay in general, is a great summer wine because it's light and fruit forward. It's also best when slightly chilled, so perfect for those warmer days! I think think the fruit flavors and slight earthiness would work great with pork dishes. For die-hard cab lovers, this is probably too light, but if you like Pinot Noir or other lighter grapes, give Beaujolais a shot!

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Fiesta Time: What to drink this Cinco de Mayo

Fiesta time, cha-cha-cha! Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo! In the United States, I feel like this holiday is an excuse to eat your weight in chips and guacamole and cheers with a margarita. Nothing wrong with that! Being from Texas, I love Tex-Mex food and I personally think I make the best margarita around, so I'm looking forward to celebrating. And just in time for the holiday, here are two drink options for you to feel festive!

Classic Fresh Margarita

I know this is a wine blog, but I can't help it. This margarita recipe is the BEST, so it is totally worth sharing! If you like margaritas with fresh ingredients, you'll love this recipe, and it's SO simple to make for one (or multiples!). Disclaimer: I found this recipe out on the internet somewhere several years ago and have been making it ever since. I apologize to whoever published it, I want to give you credit, but I honestly can't remember where it came from since Kevin and I have it memorized.

For one serving, you will need the following:

  • 2 oz tequila - We stock Hornitos Plata in our bar, but feel free to use your favorite!
  • 1.5 oz lime juice - Usually about 1-2 limes, depending on ripeness.
  • 1 oz orange juice - Do yourself a favor, and just buy it from your grocery store. Fresh squeezed is the best, but something like Tropicana works great, too!
  • Agave nectar to taste - I usually start with 1/2 tsp and work my way up from there.

The recipe is THAT SIMPLE, y'all. Pour all of the ingredients into a shaker, shake away, and then pour over ice. Yum!

Strawberry Sparkling Sangria

For those out there who may want to change things up from a classic margarita, this is a great alternative. Berries and peaches are coming into season, so now is a great time to celebrate spring and Cinco de Mayo all in one! It's sweeter than my margarita recipe, but super tasty with spring fruit flavors! 

Strawberry Sangria 1

For about 4 servings (give or take), you will need:

For the strawberry simple syrup:

  • 1/2 cup strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

For the sangria:

  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 ripe peach
  • 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup strawberry simple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1 bottle of sparkling brut rosé

1. Make the strawberry simple syrup.

For this simple syrup, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, gently stir until the sugar dissolves and then add in the strawberries. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the strawberries look like they've lost their color. Strain the simple syrup into another container and throw the strawberry bits away. Let the syrup cool fully (took about an hour in the fridge). 

Strawberry Sangria 2

2. Dice the peach and add the berries to the pitcher. Pour brandy and cooled simple syrup over the fruit. Stir well! Let this mixture marinate for a while, at least an hour.

Strawberry Sangria 3

3. I'd use a stemless wine glass or a double old-fashioned glass for this cocktail. I found that the sangria tasted best when I poured the sparkling wine directly into the glass as opposed to including it in the pitcher. Also, in my opinion, the perfect ratio of sangria mix to wine for a serving is 1/3 mix, 2/3 sparkling wine. Feel free to adjust to your taste, and be sure to put some of the fruit in the glass! 

Strawberry Sangria 4

I hope that you all enjoy yourselves (and be safe!) this Cinco de Mayo.

Tasting Notes: Cloud Break Pinot Noir

If you've ever been to Total Wine, you know they identify their best sellers and best values with little tags. I always like to give these a try because unless Total Wine is lying (which they very well may be, but I'd like to think they're honest), that means these bottles are crowd pleasers and it's probably what an average browser would likely lean toward when purchasing a bottle. This bottle of California Pinot happened to be one of those best values while I was at our local store. The description on the back of the bottle contains phrases like "concentrated fruit flavor", "rich texture", and "great length". Did it hold up?

The Facts

  • Producer: Cloud Break
  • Region: California
  • Vintage: 2014
  • Variety: 100% Pinot Noir
  • Where I purchased: Total Wine
  • Price: $8.99
Cloud Break Pinot Noir
  • Eyes: The color is cherry or ruby red and the wine is almost transparent.
  • Nose: HELLO FRUIT. This wine smelled like all of the red fruits... strawberries and cherry especially. I wouldn't say it reminded me of jam, but more like a very ripe fruit, as if you just took a bite of the perfect strawberry. 
  • Mouth: Very light in body, same fruit forward flavor that I got on the nose. It was fairly one note and was very tart as well.
  • Thoughts: I first tried it before we ate and I found it to be what I expected of an $8.99 Pinot Noir... sort of weak. In my experience, Pinot Noir is one of those grapes that you really can't find a good bottle at a value price. At least I have yet to find one... if you have a recommendation, I'm all ears! We paired the wine with this delicious pork tenderloin recipe, asparagus, and some mashed red potatoes, and I thought that its fruitiness and acid went well with the meal.

    My next thought is that I was surprised there wasn't more flavor and depth to the wine. I did some research on the 2014 vintage in California and here is a brief summary of what I learned:

    Obviously California is a huge state with widely varying climates, etc, but overall, 2014 was hot and dry. The drought was raging on, although there were "well-timed" rains. More sun makes grapes riper, which usually lends itself to bolder flavor. The hot sun plus coolness of the night that comes from being a coastal state was great for Pinot Noir, and many find that 2014 was a great vintage. I even found one source that deemed 2014, "the best Pinot Noir vintage in over a decade" and had descriptors like dark fruit, deep, juicy acidity, and ripe tannin. 

    All of this research set me up to hope for a bigger Pinot Noir with more depth of flavor. If that is what you're looking for, don't buy this bottle. If you like light and acidic Pinot Noirs, then I'd give this one a try! For $8.99, it's worth a shot.

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