Wine Review: 2015 Old Vine Zinfandel, Predator

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On yet another trip to the Frederick Wine Ho(use) to get something else (I think it was 19 Crimes), Xavier asked the sales woman if they carried Old Vine Zin from Oakridge Winery. We thought they might have it since they also carried Old Soul. They did not have, and had not even heard of, the Old Vine Zin but she showed us another Lodi grown Old Vine Zinfandel called Predator.

“It’s smoky and tastes like bacon“, she exclaimed with a level of enthusiasm that meant she wasn’t just making it up. ”

“You had me at ladybug”, I replied.

Clearly, I had to try the wine that tastes like bacon so it became the reason for our next trip to the Frederick Wine Ho.

Predator is a sub-brand of Rutherford Wine Company and they are well known for their sustainability practices that include using natural predators such as lady bugs, instead of harmful pesticides, to control grape eating insects in their vineyards.

 

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While privately hoping that the secret ingredient in this bacon brew was not ladybugs, I could hardly wait to get it home and give it a taste.

To say that Predator Old Vine Zinfandel is smoky and tastes like a bacon is an almost comical understatement. The flavors are quite pronounced and, because of that, it’s a love it or hate it concoction.

Xavier did not like it, at all, but I wasn’t dissuaded.

I really liked it!

Just imagine getting a package of super premium bacon from Keller’s Farm Stores and then loading it up on a George Foreman grill. The scent fills the house and even attracts the neighbors. Don’t overcook the bacon, it doesn’t need to be crisp like jerky, just crispy enough that it has a bit of crunch but retains that juicy/fatty quality that sends the taste buds straight into orgasmic euphoria.

Yep, then pour it in a bottle with a ladybug label and call it Zinfandel.

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Wine Review: 2015 Pinot Noir, Old Soul Vineyards – Lodi, CA

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Yesterday, after wrapping up a fun shopping trip for cactus and gardening supplies at Lowe’s, Xavier says, “Hey, we’re really close to the Frederick Wine Ho”, which is husband-speak for, “I want to go there and buy stuff”, so we did.

Now, the place is actually called Frederick Wine House, but it shows up on my bank statement as Frederick Wine Ho so that has become it’s new unofficial name.

Anyway, a while back we were there to fetch some Cabernet Sauvignon from the Devil’s Locker but, upon entering the store, wine magnets moved my feet in a bee-line to this enchanting bottle of Old Soul Pinot Noir.  I didn’t get it that day but I kept it in the memory banks for future reference.

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Serious question: Is that a tree or a grape vine?
Old Soul Vineyards is actually a sub-brand of a larger company known as Oak Ridge Winery. If you scroll down on this page https://shoporw.vintegrate.com/  you can see all of their brands.

Fun fact: A few weeks ago, Xavier and I took a little road trip out to Trader Joe’s in Reston, VA specifically for the purpose of perusing their wine selection. On that trip we found what turned out to be an excellent Lodi based Zinfandel from Old Vine Zin. A bit of research revealed that Old Vine Zin is also a sub-brand of Oak Ridge Winery.

Old Vine Zin (Old Zin Vine?) will be a post for another day but, sufficed to say, the bottle didn’t last long.

Back to the Old Soul Pinot Noir, which is positively excellent, and not just because of the groovy label…

If dark chocolate and an oak tree got drunk on espresso and had a baby, it would be this wine. Boasting a prominent oak flavor (not unlike Red Velvet from Cupcake) and slightly bitter, though very pleasant, tones of dark chocolate and espresso, this is the kind of wine that makes me want to put a straw in the bottle and refer to the whole thing as “one drink”.  As in, “What?? I only had ONE drink…”

For best results, enjoy by candlelight by the patio on a hot summer evening.

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This is not really part of the wine review but these are the new cacti mentioned at the beginning of this post.

Wine Review: RedVolution, Bota Box

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In preparation for the rest of my life, I’ve gone back to school. Starting with this summer semester, I’ve begun course work online from Central New Mexico Community College. This means that, in addition to working full time, I now come home and spend three to four hours doing homework every night. While it also explains why I haven’t been writing very many wine reviews lately, it does not mean that I haven’t been enjoying my fair share of wine and keeping notes in my special wine journal for future blog posts.

One of my recent favorites is RedVolution from Bota Box.

Upon realizing that the wine budget was rivaling my car payment, I knew I had to find a more sustainable alternative.

Enter stage left: the box.

When you buy a bottle of wine, a good percentage of the price is actually the bottle itself, the label and the cork. In other words, you’re paying for packaging, not wine.

Box wine, on the other hand, does not come in a bottle that looks sophisticated sitting on the coffee table for one night, but the difference is that it sits on the kitchen counter for at least a week. This 3 liter box is equivalent in volume to four 750ml (regular size) bottles of wine and costs about $20. Say what you will but there is no $5 bottle of wine that is going to rival the yumminess of RedVolution so, you know, math wins.

RedVolution is one of those ideal red blends. They don’t say what’s in it but it’s very smooth and exhibits a subtle smoky quality. The box says cherries and cocoa and I would agree with that claim. I’ve never gotten a headache from RedVolution and even though it’s packs a wallop at 13.5% alcohol, it doesn’t hit me very hard. The perfect end to a 14+ hour day of dealing with stressful idiots and then trying to teach myself to be smart is a delicious and calming glass of RedVolution.

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Wine Review: 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Casillero del Diablo

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Straight from the Devil’s locker.

The direct translation of Casillero is “pigeon hole” or “locker”.

From their website, I would guess that they are making reference to the Devil’s personal collection but let’s not get caught up on semantics.

It’s no secret that Xavier and I eat at  Cacique a lot. I mean a lot.

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I’ve had this Cabernet Sauvignon twice at Cacique and still liked it enough to get a bottle of my very own.

Caserillo del Diablo doesn’t mess around.  This is the best Cabernet Sauvignon I’ve had. It’s got just the right amount of everything: right amount of oak, right amount of fruit, right amount of smooth finish, and generally the right amount of awesome.

I often find Cab to be a little full bodied, too bold, too much upper cut to the upper palate, but Caserillo del Diablo is not like that at all.  It’s silky smooth and seriously dangerous. The bottle disappears very easily.

Other pertinent facts: NO red wine headache.

This is the first wine from Chile that I’ve had and I have to say that maybe Kricket is onto something.  Chile tastes good.  

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Wine Review: 2013 Syrah, Blackstone

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This is both the first wine from Blackstone and the first Syrah I have tried.

Blackstone wine is not particularly pricey but it is very good.  I think this bottle was about $9.00.

First impressions, I don’t know if all Syrah is this way but the one from Blackstone is a very soft red wine.  It opens with a little kick but mellows quickly with a long, smooth finish. Think dark fruit and smooth coffee.

Blackstone Syrah is an easy drinking wine that causes the bottom of the bottle to appear all too quickly.

You may have noticed that I review a lot of red blends of which Syrah is often a key ingredient.  In the blends it can be difficult to isolate the individual varietals but tasting the Syrah by itself I can now recognize it as the predominate flavor in many of the blends that I really like.

Incidentally, Syrah is made from the exact same grape as Shiraz.  I reviewed a Shiraz awhile back and, if my memory serves, Xavier said it was crass (the wine, not my review).  I see now that crass is an accurate description. Shiraz wears sunglasses indoors and swears in front of children. Syrah speaks in complete sentences and reads books that have more words than pictures.

I don’t know why Syrah isn’t more popular. In fact, Blackstone is the only option for Syrah at my neighborhood store, and maybe that says more about the store than the varietal, but I would love to see more options nonetheless.

If you know of any good ones, please leave your recommendations in the comments section below.

Wine Review: Red Blend, 7 Moons

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Seemingly out of nowhere, this wine just appeared in the feature sale bin at my neighborhood liquor store. It also showed up at the one gas station in our local area that is allowed to sell wine.

The label was cool so naturally we bought it.

This seems to be the only wine available from 7 Moons.

www.7moonswine.com

7 moon swine

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With regard to flavor, this is one of my all time favorites.  It’s so good, I want to pour it in a Big Gulp cup and take it with me to work.

It is entirely possible that 7 Moons may have sold their soul to the devil for this wine recipe. Smooth with luscious cherries, chocolate, vanilla and a nice amount of oak. If I had known that red wine could be this good I would’ve started drinking it years ago.

I don’t know how to score wine but if I did, I would give it a D for devilishly good.

This deliciousness comes at price though, and it’s more than $11.99.

The trade off is that, even after only one glass, I woke up with a truly horrific red wine headache… three times.

It tastes so good that I almost don’t care but if red wine gives you headaches, this is not your huckleberry.

Wine Review: 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon, 14 Hands Winery

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On a Sunday afternoon, Xavier and I went to lunch at a local restaurant called La Paz. It’s right up the street from our all time fave, Cacique, and we thought it would be fun to try a new place.

We thought wrong.

La Paz is why restaurants outside of New Mexico should not serve food they don’t understand.  Additionally, the service was terrible. It took an hour to get our food and the food we finally got was mediocre at best.

Speaking of mediocre, the wine list was also laughable. Featuring such fine selections as Sutter Home White Zinfandel and Bare Foot Pinot Noir, I seriously considered just ordering an iced tea but then I saw one choice that looked promising: 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon.

I had never tried it but I knew that 14 Hands wine usually cost more than $6 at the store so it was the creme de la creme so to speak.

This glass of wine was quite delightful and, were it not for it’s presence, we probably would have left when the waiter came to apologize for the 45 minute wait, explaining that the kitchen had sent our food to the wrong table, and promising that our lunch would be delivered eventually.

Despite the underwhelming nature of the restaurant, I really did enjoy the wine so I decided to get a bottle of my very own.

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I wish this story got better but, well, it kinda doesn’t.

There was something amiss about the bottle I bought. While it generally tasted alright, it smelled weird.

Perhaps I should rephrase. I thought it smelled weird.  Xavier said, “That’s what Cabernet Sauvignon smells like.”

He thought it smelled fine.

Oddly enough, I thought it tasted alright just as long as I didn’t sniff the top of the bottle. Overall though, I liked the wine I had in the restaurant better than the bottle I brought home.

The restaurant wine was dark and smooth, very full bodied and pleasantly woody with a good amount of oak.

Maybe I got a dud bottle. I’m sure it happens from time to time.