Wine Review: 2014 Black Forest Decadent Red, Cupcake Vineyards

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All wine tastes better in New Mexico, that’s just a given.

In typical Cupcake fashion, this wine has a lot of oak and bears little resemblance to cake.

Dark Cherry, mocha, and oak. Lots of oak. Jammy finish.  If you like Cupcake Red Velvet, the Decadent Red is similar but just a little deeper and darker. I wouldn’t describe Red Velvet as jammy but Decadent Red certainly is.

13.5% alcohol. No headache. My only complaint is that the bottle is too small, disappearing at an alarming rate at the end of a stressful week.

My advice: buy two bottles, you’re gonna need them.

 

Wine Review: Dark Red Blend, Franzia

Franzia Dark Red Blend

Admittedly, I worried that this purchase would be a regrettable decision. I’ve read many questionable reviews but a couple weeks ago I was at Monique’s house and she gave me a glass of Franzia Sunset Blush. I raised an eyebrow but accepted the glass anyway and it actually wasn’t bad; much smoother and more pleasant than I expected.

This is a 5 liter box and it was on sale at Albertson’s for $13.99 so obviously the price is right.

My rating is a solid “not terrible”.  While Franzia wine may very well be made with the backwash of wrung-out rags used to clean another winery’s barrels, I’ve tried two of their blends now and both were better than I thought they might be. I’ve certainly had worse wine from more swanky winemakers and paid more for it too!

The Dark Red Blend gets pretty darn not terrible about half way through the second glass. Nice flavors of vanilla and oak garnished with cherry and pepper. 13.5% alcohol, no headache or sour stomach the next morning.

Is it anything to get your panties all in a bundle about? No, but it’ll getcha through until payday.

Wine Review: 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel, Zen Of The Zin

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This bottle was one of the goodies from our trip to Total Wine yesterday.

Now, to be fair, Xavier and I opened the Zen Of The Zin on the heels of the Carnivor Zinfandel, which leaves it staring up at a might high bar. That being said, it was still pretty good. I’d drink it again.

Smokey with undertones of chocolate, vanilla, and coffee. Vaguely reminiscent of expensive leather. Pleasant finish. Pairs well with multiple episodes of Supernatural.

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Additionally, it’s the way to Zinlightenment, so there’s that.

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13.5% alcohol, no red wine headache. Overall, a very pleasant Zinfandel!

Wine Review: 2015 California Zinfandel, Carnivor

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Carnivor makes some seriously good wine.

They only produce two varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel. I tried the Cab over the summer and it was stupendous so naturally, when the Zinfandel appeared on the shelf, I had to to bring it home.

This is a deep, dark, complex Zin that will make you fill your glass more than once. It’s also 14.5% alcohol so hallucinations are possible, likely even.

Chocolate, vanilla, oak, toasted almond (and grapes, don’t forget grapes) this wine is sooo good, I literally did not care that I was seeing double and probably slurring my words while attempting to maintain an intelligent conversation with our house guest.

Carnivor Zinfandel is $12.99 and worth every penny. My advice: buy two.

Unrelated side note: This afternoon Xavier and I took a field trip to Total Wine in Leesburg, VA. I’ve never been to a Total Wine before and now I see what all the fuss is about. Total Wine is the most dangerous store ever…ever.

With unprecedented restraint, we left with only four bottles and, as a special bonus, we found a super cool abandoned house on the way home!

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I REALLY wanted to get closer to this house but the fence with the big No Trespassing sign advised against it.

Wine Review: 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Loft

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Well friends, the time has come to explore some new boxes. Enter, 2013 Loft Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi, California. Loft is the most expensive boxed wine at my neighborhood shop, weighing in at $22.00 and 13.8% alcohol.

While the website is a little vague as to which Lodi vineyards the Loft grapes are coming from, the proof is in the pudding and the pudding is good.

This is a jammy Cabernet Sauvignon, lots of fruit and not much oak. Despite the fact that I capital “L” Love oak, I still thought this Cabernet was pretty good. The product of cool temperature wine-making, Loft has produced a nicely balanced Cab featuring black fruit, vanilla, and spice.

Make no mistake, there is no other single bottle of wine that could be bought for $5.50 that would rival this 4 bottle box of wine for $22. Environmental and pocket book friendly, this is why I love the boxes.

When you’re just trying to get through the week, it’s boxed wine to the rescue!

Wine Review: 2015 California Shiraz, Black Box

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I was starting to get sad, thinking that there were no more Black Box reds for me to blog about and then a miner wine miracle occurred when this California Shiraz appeared on the shelf at my neighborhood shop. An unforeseen challenge of writing a wine blog is never buying the same wine twice; sooner or later the remaining options start to dwindle.

I have never tried any of the Black Box whites or the Rose but I do believe I have now officially sampled every one of their reds and, as boxes go, Black Box does not disappoint. They deliver consistently flavorful and pleasantly tasty red wines that would be suitable for any occasion.

First impression of Black Box Shiraz: buttery. That’s usually a description reserved for Chardonnay but this Shiraz really is buttery. Vanilla, licorice, oak, and cherry round out the flavor set and many episodes of Supernatural make it disappear without a trace. (What blows away, or is hidden in the recycle bin, need not be explained)

Other info: 13.5% alcohol, no headache, dulls flashbacks from a day in the copy center. Drink well, buy often, enjoy the fall weather while it lasts.

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Wine Review: 2015 Decadence Cabernet Sauvignon, Menage A Trois

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If there’s one winemaker who can be relied upon to get something right, it’s Menage A Trois. Consistently excellent, every bottle, every varietal.

I picked up this bottle of 2015 Decadence Cabernet Sauvignon for Xavier because Menage A Trois is his favorite. That being said, I think I drank most of it. There are two kinds of wine drinkers in our house: the quick and the thirsty.

As always, Menage A Trois delivers an exceptionally luscious and smooth Cabernet that is blueberry and chocolate all night long except it won’t last that long – at least not if I’m around.  The wine is exactly the same color as the foil at the top of the bottle and the bottle made it through three episodes of Stranger Things.

No red wine headache and smooth like silk, this bottle was $13.99 and, for the price, it is certainly at the top of it’s class. Highly recommended!

Wine Review: 2014 Artisan Collection Petite Sirah, HandCraft

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What a pleasant surprise to find this Petite Sirah from HandCraft at my neighborhood wine shop! I just recently saw it on the shelf and was immediately curious about the new wine that was only $8.99.

Though I’ve never bought a straight Petite Sirah before, the flavor is immediately recognizable as a key ingredient from many of the Red Blends that I like. For once, we didn’t kill the whole bottle in one night and Xavier said he thought it was better the second day. I thought it was good the whole time though it did benefit from having a few minutes to air out.

Composed by winemaker, Cheryl Indelicato, this Petite Sirah has a dash of Zinfandel added for extra spice. It’s also 14.5% alcohol for a bit of extra kick.

Full of dark blackberry and plum, pleasantly flavorful and smooth, an excellent buy for under $10. My store had several other selections from HandCraft and I plan to try another one this week!

Wine Review: 2015 California Shiraz, Bota Box

House buying is serious business, this box of wine didn’t stand a chance.

The week before last was nerve wracking with my work cohort being on vacation, but it’s not quite the same as watching my future hang in the balance while trying to get approved for a mortgage.

It’s been awhile since I bought a house and, when I sold it, I thought I would never want that kind of burden again. Of course that was just silly talk because I hadn’t yet spent two and a half years living in a 4th floor apartment with an over abundance of neighbors and a conspicuous lack of elevators.

Forty-one steps up, forty-one steps down. Forty-one steps up, forty-one steps down. Forty-one steps up, forty-one steps down. Forty-one steps up, forty-one…. you get the point.

Murphy requires many trips to the great outdoors everyday and he loves bounding up and down the stairs.

 

As for myself, I can do it but I wouldn’t say I love it.  Incidentally, each glass of wine adds ten steps to the count. Two glasses in and I’m climbing a skyscraper. The time has come to live closer to the ground.

If you’ve ever bought a house then you know the application process requires a good bit of wine. All the hurry up and wait would drive anyone to drink.

This 2015 Shiraz from Bota Box is sassy and bold, especially for boxed wine which tends to be more on the mild side.  There’s nothing toned down about this Shiraz, it’s big and beautiful. Cherry and black pepper, orange peel and blackberry plus 13.5% alcohol to calm an anxious mind.

Yummy.

Effective.

 

Wine Review: Limited Release Double Down, Dark Horse

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It’s been one hell of a week. My counterpart at work is on vacation and it is only her presence that brings order to the madness. The minute she leaves, it’s like ordering a late night pizza and a sparkling water for the mogwai. The chaos that descends over everything as she walks out the door is not the result of anything I’m doing wrong, but rather the awakening of gremlins who have been hibernating since her last vacation.

I’m not even kidding. The random shit that goes awry when she’s not there is enough to rattle even the calmest of chains.

By Friday, I was torn between going to work or jumping off my balcony. I opted for work but only because I promised myself a bottle of Dark Horse Double Down as a reward for walking on hot coals all week.

Bring on the wine!

Double Down is a delicious Limited Release from Dark Horse; a red wine blend consisting of Petite Syrah, Zinfandel, Tannet, and Teroldego. I don’t even know what the last two are but it’s really beside the point. I mean, you don’t need to be familiar with all the components in the remote control to que up the next episode of Midnight, Texas.

Speaking of which…

Last night Xavier and I killed a bottle of Double Down, paired with Chipotle (the rich man’s Taco Bell) and caught up on the last three episodes of Midnight, Texas. I love Midnight, Texas because, while they try to pretend that the show takes place in Texas, it is obviously shot in New Mexico. I watch it because it reminds me of home and because Charlaine Harris’s supernatural novels are cool.

So, about the Double Down…

Bold and full bodied. Luscious and full of toasty oak. Mellows to a pleasantly smooth finish. All too easy to keep refilling the glass, would be very dangerous if it came in a box. 14.5% alcohol. Pace yourself.