Affordable Australian Grenache and Shiraz


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I love affordable. It also helps when affordable is delicious, juicy and has a lasting, spice blend and jam finish. They did Grenache right!  If you are looking for McLaren 2012 Grenachesomething different, this is worth a try. We’re having it for dinner tonight with Lamb meatballs Moroccan style. $7.99


Presswork is a fine winery that allows you to savor really good wine for a fraction of the cost. Everyday drinking at its’ finest.  If you tried the Grenache, now it’s time to move on to the bigger and bolder Shiraz. Its a Shiraz in the true Aussie style; very fruit forward and big on nose and flavor palate. It has the savory richness of a Syrah but with the ripeness of the fruit coming through. Very enjoyable wine. We had it with Chipotle pepper marinated chicken and it really held its’ own with the heat of the pepper. $7.99



A Slurry of Wines


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Well, it has indeed been a while, ahem, since I last published a post. My very, very bad. No excuses, so no long stories. However, today in a sweat of activity I am writing about a  bunch of wines, because I always take a photo and some notes and we can now roll ’em.

Okay , Let’ start with the most expensive one. The 2010 Amarone della Valpolicella. It 2010-Amaronewas recommended to me by one of the staff at Trader Joe’s as being much in the style of Paso Robles, California wines; in other words, a robust, fruit forward wine. It does have these qualities, but it also has that Italian quality of the vines being quite ancient, with a more mature complexity without the heavy alcohol content. It has a lovely nose and of course the dark fruit flavors of dried raisins and black currants,  along with a good balance of herb and earth flavors, a strong tannin structure helps the wine sit up straight. This is wonderful with BBQ, meat stews, sausage and also hearty vegetarian dishes. $ 19.99

Marchigue-CarmenereThe 2012 Marchigüe Carménère Reserva from Chile was a nice surprise for a soft red from the Cochagua Valley. If you are unfamiliar with the Carménère grape this is a nice introduction to it. It is similar to Pinot Noir, in that it is lighter but with those good red ripe fruits, red berries and good balance of acidity. I though this one was a great deal at $7.99.

Next there is the family of Green Fin wines which Green-Fin-Merlotare made form organic grapes, always a plus in my book. My favorite is the Merlot, because it tastes delicious and has some complexity, along with good tannins that are not overpowering. The Red Table Wine is pretty Green-Fin-Red-Tablestraightforward, kind of like Le Juice de la Grape. Not at all complex. I would cook with this one, something like a Coq au Vin dish. Same goes for the Chardonnay (not pictured) from this brand. They each sell for a mere $3.99.

A good red blend is definitely something to savor and embrace and this 14 Hands 14-Hands-Red-BlendHot to Trot Red Blend fits the bill. It’s just delicious. Really flavorful, full bodied and rich with dark fruits. I really loved this one and have had it twice with much appreciation. It’s smooth yet rich and really well balanced. For $8.99 it is a fantastic deal.

Now for a lovely and affordable Sangiovese, by Grifone. This is a terrific wine, with the mouth watering flavors of ripe pomegranate, cherries and raspberries and violets,  alongside a respectable backbone of tannic structure. An unbelievable deal for $3.99.


2011 Purple Moon Shiraz

I have been a bit absent and remiss in publishing reviews. So in an attempt to correct that now, get ready for a whole bunch at once!!

Starting with the 2011 Purple Moon Shiraz. Honestly I was hesitant to try this because of the label. Obviously this is a personal taste kind of thing and usually I try to be objective. Fortunately, my paramour convinced me that since we are trying really bargain wines at the moment. I am so happy I listened to him. It is a delicious wine and we have it often in our rotation.

Fruit forward, jammy, brambley,  blackberries. Single note structure true to ShirazPurple Moon 2011 Shiraz, with well balanced tannins. Straight forward. Not complex, daily drinking. For a $3.99 wine it’s great.

Epicuro Nero D’Avola, Salice Salentino, Beneventano Aglianico and Primitivo


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Epicuro Nero D'AvolaNero D’Avola is a black grape hailing from Sicily known and very popular, for it’s juicy, jammy quality and natural sweetness. It is one of Italy’s most important indigenous varieties. It is named after Avola in the far south of Sicily, the wines made from it are compared to New World Shirazes, with sweet tannins and plum or peppery flavors. It’s used often in the making of Marsala.It likes hot and steamy climates to grow successfully.

The Epicuro Nero D’Avloa is the first Nero D’ that I’ve ever tasted and really liked the delicious,  juicy berry flavors and soft tannins. It was wonderful and we could not believe the affordable price. $4.99! We liked it so much we set off to try all the wines Trader Joe’s had by Epicuro.

Salice Salentino is a small town in the Apulia region of Italy. This wine is focused on the Negro Amaro grape, which is tending towards a rustic, strong presence in the mouth. We tried the Epicuro Salice Salentino and were amazed at the quality of this Epicuro Salice Salentinowine, again for the unbelievable price of $4.99. Jammy and complex with spice and floral notes, it has a long lasting finish, full mouth and is well balanced. We bought three more bottles of this one. It’s that good.

The third wine is called Epicuro Benventano Aglianico and it also has a flavorful taste, with lots of raspberry notes, a little spice and soft tannins. It is nicely balanced and has a good finish. Also, only $4.99. Beautiful purple color. Goes well with almost anything, even by itself.

Epicuro Beneventano AglianicoAnd last but not least the Epicuro Primitivo. This wine was closer to a Zinfandel type of wine and thoseEpicuro Primitivoexpected delicious dark cherry and black plum flavors come through here. The mouth is full and rich with a good tannin expression, finishes nicely.  Again a great buy at $4.99.

We recommend strongly that you be brave and try all four and then tell us your favorite. You might not have just one.

St. Somewhere 2010 Petit Verdot

St Somewhere 2010 Petit VerdotPetit Verdot hails from Bordeaux, where it is most often used in the region’s famous red blends to add dark violet color, stouter tannins and impart concentrated fruit flavor on the palate. However, because Petit Verdot tends to ripen later in the season it can be hit or miss, depending on the vintage, as to whether or not the fruit will actually make it to harvest and be a viable addition to a Bordeaux blend. With this in mind, New World growers have given Petit Verdot a second start in regions with consistent, extended growing conditions with solid results. By growing Petit Verdot in warmer climates the odds of maturing the grape on the vine increases significantly and has resulted in Petit Verdot being utilized not only in blends, but also as a front and center grape – being bottled as a single varietal.

Which is where we begin with this happy find. Grown in Paso Robles these grapes really got a lot of that radiant heat, bringing up the sugars. This was surprisingly dark violet, delicious, rich, and fruit forward. Wonderfully jammy and grapey, but it is not overly sweet or cloying. Just wonderful and powerful. Great backbone, well balanced tannins and a full mouth feel. An absolute steal at $9.99

TJ Reserve Wines ~ A 2011 Pinot Noir and a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon


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Both of these wines were just amazing, not even taking into account the price bargain. I urge you to try both and compare them to the pricier wines.

First, a little bit about Pinot Noir. It is a dry, red wine that typically exhibits fruit-forward character with strawberry, cherry, raspberry and blackberry fruit taking the cake for palate presence. Notable earth-driven layers are also quite common in a glass of Pinot, with herbal, mushroom, leather, and game-like qualities being fairly familiar. Warm spice notes also make their way into the Pinot Noir palate profile, often in the form of cinnamon, clove and smoky, tobacco nuances.

TJ Reserve 2009 Pinot Noir Lot #77We were delighted and surprised by the TJ Reserve Pinot Noir Lot #77. It is silky deliciousness. The ripe strawberry and juicy berries flavors are intoxicating along with spice notes and a whiff of leather. Lovely finish with structured but not overwhelming tannins. $9.99

Next Cabernet Sauvignon, often referred to as the “King of Red Wine Grapes,” originally from Bordeaux, with a substantial foothold in California’s wine races, has the privilege of being the world’s most sought after red wine. Cabernet Sauvignon grapes tend to favor warmer climates and are often an ideal wine for aging, with 5-10 years being optimal for the maturation process to peak. Because Cabs take a bit longer to reach maturation, allowing their flavors to mellow, they are ideal candidates for blending with other grapes, primarily Merlot. This blending softens the Cabernet, adding appealing fruit tones, without sacrificing its innate character.

Flavor Profile

Cabs range from medium-bodied to full-bodied and are characterized by their high tannin content which serves to provide structure and intrigue while supporting the rich fruit characteristics. The flavor profile includes plum, cherry, blackberry, blueberry, warm spice, vanilla, tobacco and sometimes leather aromas and or flavors.

We loved the TJ Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Lot #72 Dry Creek ValleyTJ Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 Dry Creek. Another winner, it has all the characteristics of a classic Cabernet Sauvignon without the painful price tag. Medium bodied, it was well structured and fruit forward with all of those incredible plum, dark cherry, spice and light tobacco aromas. Aged for 15 months in French Oak also adds to the delicious complexity. $9.99

St. Somewhere 2011 Malbec Mendoza, Argentina



Nice representation of the Malbec grape. Malbec is typically a medium to full-bodied, dry red wine with St Somewhere Argentina Malbec 2011plenty of acidity and higher tannin and alcohol levels. Dark, inky purple color profiles and ripe fruit flavors of plums, black cherry and blackberry can give this wine a decidedly jammy character. Smoke, earth, leather, wild game, tobacco and white/black pepper along with a slew of high profile spices can make for an interesting medley of aromas and flavors, adding to layers of complexity and unique food pairing profiles.
This Argentinian wine is rich, full-bodied with aromas of violets and faint leather. Quite lush on the palate and has a smooth finish. $10.99