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2008 La Capra Pinotage

January 27, 2011

The Frugal Vintner hasn’t had the opportunity to try a new bottle of wine in about a week or so. For tonight we chose a Pinotage, a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault. Pinotage is South Africa’s signature grape, and the 2008 La Capra Pinotage (presented by Fairview) is a great example of the varietal.

A medium ruby in color, the nose of the La Capra presents leather, blackberry, and pepper, with a faint hint of cedar. Medium bodied, the wine is perfectly balanced, with a smooth finish that retains all the fruit that the nose promised.

The cost of the bottle runs between $11 and $13.50. This is a very good bottle of wine for the price. It reminded both me and the Vintner’s Husband of some of the reds we enjoyed last fall in the Santa Ynez valley. If you can only drink one bottle of wine this week, make it this one!


2008 Cline Syrah

January 19, 2011
2008 Cline Syrah

2008 Cline Syrah

Sonoma’s Cline Cellars has a lot to offer – from Viognier to Pinot Gris to the several different Zinfandels they’re best known for, and, currently, two Syrahs – the 2008 Cline Syrah and the 2008 Cline Cool Climate Syrah. The “regular” Syrah is priced at $12 on the Cline Cellars website, whereas the $16 price of the Cool Climate Syrah puts it just beyond the Frugal Vintner’s self-imposed $15 price limit.

This Syrah pours the color of a dark, ripe plum, and the fruity nose is strongly reminiscent of black cherry, with overtones of mineral and beach grass. The wine drinks as fruity as the nose promises, with a soft finish that’s perhaps just a little bitter at the very tail end.

Overall, I think I prefer the Castillo de Molina Shiraz we enjoyed a couple weeks ago, but by just a small margin. The Vintner’s Husband, on the other hand, likes this one better. In any case, I’m very eager to try the Cline Cool Climate Syrah!

2009 Bodega Tamari Reserva Malbec

January 15, 2011

2009 Bodega Tamari Reserva Malbec

2009 Bodega Tamari Reserva Malbec

Let me preface this post with a little information: I love Malbec. It’s one of my absolute favorite varietals, and I dream about some day making a pilgrimage to Argentina to learn more about it. In the meantime, however, I have to rely on the information provided by Terlato Wines International, the good people who bring the Tamari wines to us here in the United States. They tell me that the Tamari Malbec is grown in a poor and stony soil with warm temperatures during the day and cool temperatures at night. I don’t know how or why, but this combination translates into a bottle that does a pretty good job demonstrating everything I love about Malbec.

The Tamari Reserva is a medium purple color with a fruity nose which is pleasantly reminiscent of a spicy hot cocoa – milk chocolate, vanilla, with cinnamon and clove. It hit my mouth big, juicy, fruity, and incredibly balanced. Not too much tannin, not too much alcohol, not too much oak. It has a lingering finish, still fruity and spicy.

This wine would pair well with a thin-crust vegetable pizza, or with sharper cheeses like Asiago or Romano. You can also drink it by itself on a cold winter night and let it help warm you up.

According to Snooth this bottle is generally priced at around $11 to $14. I think it would be a bargain at twice the price. Salud!

2008 Red Guitar Old Vines Tempranillo/Garnacha

January 11, 2011

2008 Red Guitar Old Vine Tempranillo/Garnacha

2008 Red Guitar Old Vine Tempranillo/Garnacha

The Red Guitar label, which bills itself as a “rich, smooth and stylish celebration of the Spanish lifestyle,” was recommended to the Frugal Vintner by a reader. I’ve opted to taste the 2008 Old Vines Tempranillo/Garnacha blend, which was readily available at my local grocery store (Meijer) and was even on sale for $9.49!

A medium garnet color, this blend certainly packs an olfactory punch. Strong raspberry, black cherry, and floral notes are backed by vanilla and leather. Medium bodied, the Red Guitar is a fruity quaff with a long, tasty finish. The tannins seem a little bit strong – I’d be interested to come back and taste this one again in a year or two to see how the balance changes as the tannins dissipate.

We drank the Tempranillo/Garnacha on its own; next time (and there will be a next time!) I’d like to try it with cheese enchiladas or a similar dish. If you’re looking to celebrate the Spanish lifestyle and you’re on a budget, this is one way to do it!

2008 Feudo Arancio Pinot Noir

January 9, 2011

2008 Feudo Arancio Pinot Noir

2008 Feudo Arancio Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir – thanks to the book and movie Sideways we all know by now that it’s “a hard grape to grow;” however, it seems to be doing quite well in Sicily, where Feudo Arancio has planted its vineyards on the south coast of the island. I would think the hot sun and intense light of Sicily would overwhelm the delicate Pinot vines, but the 2008 vintage, at least, serves to prove me wrong.

This wine pours a luscious, dark ruby color, with a jammy nose of black cherry with light floral notes. The Feudo Arancio is very straightforward and easy to drink; this isn’t a complex Pinot by any means. Very fruity and clean, with a long, soft, finish, this does well on its own but could also stand up to a hearty winter meal.

Snooth prices this bottle starting at $7.99, which I think is a fair price for a fair bottle of wine.

2007 Castillo de Molina Shiraz Reserva

January 6, 2011

There are 5,391 hectares of Syrah (Shiraz) grapes planted in Chile; if the 2007 Castillo de Molina Reserva Shiraz is any indicator of the quality of Chile’s Syrahs, we may see that number increasing in the years to come.

2007 Castillo de Molina Reserva Shiraz

We all know that Shiraz and Syrah are the same grape, but when I think “Shiraz” I think fruity and big and – let me be honest – Australian. When I drink a Syrah it seems deeper, darker, and more mysterious. This wine strikes me as a “Syrah,” but the label says “Shiraz.” I know – a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Whatever you want to call it, this one is a keeper.

The Castillo de Molina pours a medium ruby color. The nose is toasty and oaky, with layers of cinnamon and pepper over the faintest aroma of the ocean. It has a creamy, full mouthfeel, with the alcohol just a little forward, tasting juicy, lusty, and earthy.

Super Wine Warehouse prices this gem at $9.99, making it a great selection for the budget-minded oenophile. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!

2007 Querceto Chianti Classico

January 5, 2011

Querceto Chianti Classico

The 2007 Querceto Chianti Classico was another wine that we got from Dusty’s Cellar as part of their “6 for $60” promotion. Each month Dusty’s puts together several different “6 for $60” sets for their wine club members – there’s a Club White, Club Red, Club Mix, and more recently Club Chardonnay and Club Pinot Grigio. Creatures of habit, we tend to go for Club Red in the colder months and Club White in the warmer months.

Of course, our son the Junior Sommelier is an avid cork collector, so sometimes we just choose the six with the fewest screwtops.

The Querceto was a dark ruby color. The nose made my mouth water slightly, with hints of rose petal, smoke, cocoa, strawberry, and something I’ve never gotten from a red before – a kind of orangey citrus. The palette was fruity and light, but with a slightly bitter finish. The tannins left my mouth a little dry. Maybe it’s because I’m still a beginner as a wine blogger, but this one just didn’t leave me with much to say.

If this came my way again as part of a promotion, I certainly wouldn’t turn it down. But priced at $15.99, where Virtual Vineyards places it, I would probably pass.