Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tempted by the label of 2006 Temptation Zinfandel and hooked on the taste

This Halloween season has presented itself with a delightful and sometimes frightful challenge, finding the perfect Halloween wines. Let’s hope 2006 Temptation Zinfandel won’t be another fright night wine. In the store, the first thing that draws you to the wine is the label, with an Elizabethan area lady in a near embrace with a skeleton holding a bottle of wine.

The bright red crimson colors in the glass and the multitude of aromas with citrus and berry notes wafting out of the glass prepare my taste buds for whatever the wine can bring. Flavors of Bing cherries, plums and ginger hit the palate along with smooth tannins making this a very nice drinking wine.

Temptation Zinfandel is produced by Alexander Valley Vineyard in Sonoma County. Maggie and Henry Wetzel purchased the property in 1962 and in 1975 their eldest son, Hank, produced the first wine. The vineyard now grows fourteen varietals from the Russian River banks to the hillsides. Temptation is the third Zinfandel addition that also includes Sin Zin and Redemption Zin.

Wine info:
Appellation: Californian
Grape Varietal: 96% Zinfandel, 4% Sangiovese
Alcohol: 14.5%

Happy not to face another night of under developed, flabby wines; Temptation will definitely be on my list of wines to purchase and drink with joy again.

This wine can be found at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits for $9.99.

2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Evil 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon really lives up to its name

I’m sitting by the Koi pond watching a squirrel who, seems to be very disturbed by our cat while she is lazing on the grass. Maybe he’s heard what an evil cat she can be and this gets me thinking about my next wine, Evil 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon.

I had high hopes for this wine, with it’s red and black artsy label and a price tag of $8.99, the wine seems to be a perfect choice. Rich red hues in the glass and aromas exploding with cherries, oak and plum, I think this could truly be a great wine. As the wine washes over the palate my hopes are quickly dashed. The flavors have flat lined and there’s very little dimension. The wine does have a nice smooth finish but I’m still waiting for the beginning and the middle. The wine is a 2008 and it could maybe benefit from a bit more aging in the bottle.

Evil is produced by Grateful Palate Imports out of Australia and is just one of the dozens of labels housed under this line, touting the finest portfolio of wines in the world. The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in Langhorne Creek, Riverland, Barossa Valley. I’ve had some of the other labels and they are fine wines, I just wish Evil added a little more “good” to the flavors. The company’s slogan is “It’s just wrong” and I tend to be in agreement.

Not quite a wine experiment gone awry but the wine’s not as alive as I hoped. I’ll continue tinkering with looking for those wines that won’t leave me feeling ghastly.

2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Think I’m walking the plank with tonight’s Black Vines wine

Will Wine Hubby make me walk the plank tonight due to my Black Vines 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon wine pairing with dinner tonight? He may and I wouldn’t blame him. Let’s start with the dinner he made, Julia Child’s famous Boeuf Bourguignon, you know the one Julie Powell in Julie and Julia attempted cook. The Boeuf Bourguignon was cooked in the Dutch Oven my mother gave us this weekend. No telling how many fabulous meals were cooked in this vessel and this one was no exception. If only the wine could match up to the meal.

Black Vines is based on the legend of Maddy aka ‘Black Vine’ Smith a notorious swash-buckling, jewel stealing, wine lover who emptied some of the finest wine cellars throughout the world. I could find no info on this wine thief or this Vineyard and there may be a reason for the absence of information.

The wine is flat and one dimensional and no match for the dinner. Sip after sip I await the bounty of flavors to arrive but am left high and dry. Upon completion of the meal, the wine presents a little more flavor but is still like a one armed, two peg legged Pirate; disembodied. All this is leaving me feeling like I don’t have two legs to stand on with my wine decision. The flavor reminds me of a grape Jolly Rancher, not a good taste in a wine. Here’s hoping tomorrows wine adventure yields a higher wine booty value. I found this wine at Total Wine for $5.99 but even at that price, I will not be purchasing again.

Interesting Fact:
From the 15th -18th centuries ships carrying wine to regions of the world were often sacked by Pirates, allowing the Pirates to drink some of the finest wines available.

2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.
Image provided by K. Stargaard.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Looking for a wine that won’t fly off with your hard earned cash; Grab a bottle of 2008 Crow Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon.

Looking for a wine that won’t fly off with your hard earned cash; Grab a bottle of 2008 Crow Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon.

In following my Halloween themed wines, Crow Canyon sounds a little scary but I was pleasantly surprised to find it quite lovely. Strong black currants, ripe cherries and plums make for a great nose. These carry over to the flavors and combined smooth tannins, this medium bodied wine has a fine finish.

Who’s Crow Canyon? Well, that’s what I would like to know but as far as I can tell it’s just a label. I found some info stating there was no winery and no winemaker dinners but someone still had to make the wine. Many times wineries create labels to provide an inexpensive offer in the marketplace. I did find where the 2005 Cabernet one the Silver for the up to $14.99 category in the 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

Sadly I’m unable to find any additional info but for the price, the flavors of this wine will not leave you caw-cawing foul (couldn’t resist).

Interesting wine fact:
Bones are more dense in both men and women with moderate wine consumption. After menopause, osteoporosis becomes a very serious problem in women. Hip fractures are notorious. Dense bones are resistant to fractures. (I should have bones of steel - ks) - David Bruce, M.D.

I found this wine at Total Wine for $5.99.

2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.
You can contact Kellie at

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spooktacular Vampire wine

Ghosts, witches and scary tales abound this time of year but don’t let all the witches brew distract you from great inexpensive wines. Halloween screams for some scary and spooktacular wines, one of my all time favorites to drink on Halloween night is Vampire wine. Vampire like its counterpart, Dracula wine, was at one time made in Transylvania, but has now moved operations to Paso Robles, no pun intended but that just bites. Half the fun of drinking Vampire wine, a side from the great taste, was the name and location of where it was made. Let’s hope the change in venue does not bring ghastly tastes.

I’m first enticed by the aromas of not so forgotten blood red ripened fruits. The aromas call to me and one can not resist taking a small nibble; make that small sip of the garnet colored liquid swirling in the glass. First sip and you’re hit with a lip smacking, succulent taste with a finish leaving one wanting more. Just one thing to do, join the ranks of the other Vampires and finish the glass.

The winery’s head Vampire is entertainment attorney, Michael Machat, who began branding the Vampire label in 1985 as a Syrah varietal. In 1989 the first 500 bottles of Syrah were sold to Alice Cooper and MCA records in London. Sangiovese (Italian for blood of Jove) grapes were planted as well and more than 600 bottles were shipped to the Anne Rice Fan Club in New Orleans. Location of production moved several times from France to Italy then to Transylvania and finally its present home, Paso Robles, CA. The most recent move has made the wine available year round but I must confess, I save this wine for drinking around Halloween.

We paired this wine with steak and garlic knots and survived to see the sun another day.-

2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2006 Ashwood Grove Merlot

Today seemed to just slip away from me as I spent the day joining more blog sites, sending out interview questions to a wine maker and working at the job that actually pays me. Glad this day is over and now I’m looking forward to a nice glass of wine. Seems there are only 2 new to me bottles in the wine fridge both of which are from Australia, looks the choice is a 2006 Ashwood Grove Merlot.

The aromas consist of black currants and plums. Flavors of rich berries and smooth tannins provide for a well balanced and lingering finish. The wine is slightly on the sweet side but pairs will with our spicy Indian curry dinner.

Ashwood is owned by Alliance Brands and is located in Victoria, Australia where the grapes are primarily grown. Ashwood Grove strives for intense, rich flavors that are designed to enjoyed upon opening and pair well with food.

Interesting wine stats:
As of September 2009, Australian wine export volumes increased by 8% to 758 million
litres valued at A$2.4 billion. All figures are in Australian currency.
Growth was achieved in the value of Australian wine shipped to:
• China (up A$50 million to A$115 million),
• Germany (A$10 million to A$56 million),
• Hong Kong (A$9 million to A$44 million),
• the US (A$7 million to A$727 million),
• Japan (A$4 million to A$51 million), and
• Sweden (A$2 million to A$40 million).
- Australian Government – Austrailain Wine and Brandy Corporation.
I found this wine at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits for $6.00.

2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Camelot wines and wine season

The word Camelot brings to mind beauty and goodness and with the arrival of some much needed Fall air to Florida it makes me think of all goodness that comes from this time of year. The start of fire pit season, the midst of football season (go Bulls) and an all time favorite, wine season. Wine season falls between Labor Day and New Years Day; many winemakers use these months to determine a winery’s success for the year. During this crucial time for a winery’s success go out and support some of the smaller U.S. wineries.

Crafted from superior grapes in California, Camelot’s 2006 Merlot, seems like a good choice of wines to support. The nose is oaky and spicy with lots of plum and cherry flavors. The taste is slightly dry, medium bodied with a nice finish. The wine is blended using grapes from three regions with a combination of cool and warm climates. By doing so, the wine has ripe flavors and smooth tannins providing for a well balanced wine.

Appellation – California
Region – North Coast, Central Coast and Lodi
Fermentation – Stainless Steel
Barrel Aging – 3 months in French and American oak
Alcohol – 13.5%
TA. – 0.57g/100ml
pH – 3.63

Camelot winery was established in 1993 and since 1996 Camelot has been awarded over 425 medals in wine competitions. The winery believes in providing good tasting wines at an affordable price to enhance their customer’s lifestyles.
This wine season, be sure to do your part and enjoy those great tasting and inexpensive wines.

2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pack me up and send me to Hayes Ranch

I’m in a quandary and I don’t know what to do, seems like a perfect time to open a bottle of wine and mull over my options. I’m finally happy with the number of hours I’m working and am able to spend the extra time working on the Wine Chick gig, a co-worker wants me to take additional duties off their plate but I’m afraid it will just put the stress back on my plate. I’m not sure there’s a solution to this one that will make everyone happy.

I found this 2006 Hayes Ranch ‘In the Saddle’ Cabernet Sauvignon to be great tasting and affordable. The aromas are delicious, with notes of cherry, dark berry and oak. The wine is fruit forward with a lingering finish and very well balanced. I’m unable to find any info on the winery other than it’s a California wine with a western spirit. I’ll definitely buy this one again.

This wine can be found at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits for $7.99.

Interesting fact:
Did you know the discount chain Costco is the largest wine retailer in the U.S.? In 2008 alcohol sales topped $2.3 billion with 50% coming from wine. The average Costco store carries 180 alcohol SKUs, wine averages around 145 SKUs per store.

Copyright ©2009 by Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

So why was I avoiding Fisheye wines?

Wine hubby contributed to my side line again and presented me with 2 bottles of Fisheye wine found at Sweetbay for $4.99, how can I refuse. Tonight’s trial will be the Fisheye Cabernet. Fisheye has been one of those wines I see at the supermarket but always seem to pass over, no reason that I know of, just one of those wines.

The wine in the glass is light and almost transparent when held at an angle. The aroma is full of fruit with hints of blackberry, currants and a touch of pepper. Flavors are fruit forward, light with a slight lingering finish. It’s not something I would serve at a dinner party but for not bad for everyday drinking.

We’re doing a Thanksgiving “dry run” tonight using a chicken in place of the turkey that will be dressed in his finest herbs, butter and seasonings before being placed on the grill for all to enjoy. It’s still around 90 degrees so we’re doing this one in the oven versus the grill, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Interesting wine fact:
There are approximately 400 species of oak, though only about 20 are used in making oak barrels. Of the those, only 5% is suitable for making high grade wine barrels. The average age of a French oak tree harvested for use in wine barrels is 170 years.

P.S. Chicken wasn’t that great in the oven, next run will be on the grill.

Copyright ©2009 by Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2007 Levata Montepulciano d’Abruzzo more than a lot of words

Wine hubby is at a B.E.E.R.S. meeting so I ponder over my wine choices for the evening and hope I pick a winner. I chose a bottle of 2007 Levata Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The name isn’t all that intimidating once you break it down:
Levata – winemakers name
Montepulciano – type of grape
D’Abruzzo – region in east central Italy

The wine smells delicious with spicy notes, fruit and oak. The aromas carry over to the taste with dryness and light tannins. Typically the wine is consumed young after 2 years of aging the wine is labeled “Risvera” and must spend at least 6 of those months in oak barrels. Abruzzo is just east of Rome and the culture is centered more around hard workers and was designated as a DOC in 1968. The wines are at least 85% Montepulciano with some blending of Sangiovese. As I spend another evening relaxing at home, it feels great not dreading going to work tomorrow. Once again, life is good…..

Chickadees word of the day:
DOC – The abbreviation for the Appellation system of Italy (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) and Portugal (Denominacao de Origem Contralada). I think we should cover these in depth at a later date. Be on the lookout.

Copyright ©2009 by Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stonehaven and my field trip to SoHo

It was the end to a great week, having worked only half a day on Friday, lunch in SoHo, an hour walking around Hyde Park (even if most shops have packed up and left) then finding an unknown value wine, 2006 Stonehaven Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon, at the Publix Greenwise Market.

Stonehaven Vineyard is located in Australia's Limestone Coast. The winery uses computer technology providing the winemaker with total control over the winemaking process. I’m not sure how I feel about using computers to make wine, it makes it impersonal. I mean why bother even having a winemaker if all you have to do is key some information into a computer. The website speaks a little to the vineyards and the barrel hall but I couldn’t find any information from the vineyard regarding their wines.

The aroma is soft but fruity. The soft fruit flavors carry over with spice and peppers from the Shiraz. The wine was well balanced and definitely not bad for $7.99.

Here’s to hoping this week is as wonderful as last week!

Chickadee word of the day:
Barrel Hall - After crushing and fermentation wines requiring barrel maturation are pumped to a hall and decanted into oak barrels. The maturation in oak allows the wine to develop structure and further.

2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Is Oak Grove the new Blackstone?

With all the ups and downs I’ve experienced at work and my wine trials lately I decide it’s time to break out my latest “go to wine”, Oak Grove. I remember the first time I picked up at bottle was at Total Wine where I saw a little sign stating Oak Grove Merlot was preferred over Blackstone Merlot in blind tastings. As that was a few years ago, I’m unable to find where the tastings occurred, I did come across one webcast that said Blackstone Merlot was the worst in their tastings….ouch. I can tell you after that day, Oak Grove was a new found friend to me, especially the Cabernet Sauvignon which is what I’m enjoying tonight.

The flavors are well balanced with ripe fruits consisting of cherries, black berries, currants and mild tannins. It does taste a little grapy but still better than some of the other wines I’ve had lately.

I consider this wine my and wine hubby’s signature wine since this is the wine we put our save the date labels on and handed out to those who were in our local area. For those of you who don’t know, we got married at Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, OR, hence the VooDoo doll, doughnuts and micro-brew bottle caps.

I finally feel relaxed and know I’m in control for now. I’m going to take the time I need to rejoin the world of happy people and in a few weeks I’ll start adding hours to make workload but for now I’m enjoying the freedom of leaving early and taking time for myself, hubby and house.

Wine Info:
Appellation - California
Alcohol - 13.1%
pH - 3.55
T.A. - .59
R.S. - .3%

2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I need to be more like Rex Goliath

I wish I could say the past few days have been relaxing but with the uncertainty lurking around my former position I’ve been extremely stressed. I’m submitting my revised part time work hours and hoping my boss takes the hint that I can no longer spend any serious amount of time on that account as it not worth the money, the stress or the misery it’s causing me and wine hubby (only because he has to put up with me). Time to puff myself up and prepare for the fight that lies ahead. Seems only fitting to break out the Rex Goliath Pinot Noir. Legend has it Rex Goliath was a 47 pound chicken who traveled with a Texas circus at the turn of the 20th century. It’s said people came from miles just to see the largest rooster in the world. I’ve had Rex Goliath Cabernet and Merlot but the Pinot Noir is something new for me and unfortunately it presented itself like so many Pinot Noirs do, not much going on with flavors and a flat finish. The aroma was full of blackberries and oak but not much of that seemed to carry over to the tastes. The wine can be found at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and other retailers for around $8.99.Seems like so many of the wines I’ve tasted lately have been disappointing, maybe it’s my mood. I am hopeful there will be good news coming my way soon and I’ll be sure to share it with all of you. Interesting info: Did you know Coq au vin means "rooster with wine. 2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What I need to do right now is Relax

While at my local ABC Fine Wine & Spirits I spied a wine section I generally don’t spend a lot of time in; German wines but while in my experimental wine phase I pick up a bottle of Relax Cool Red.

Tonight that’s what I’m hoping it helps me to do, Relax. My week started with elated feelings of gaining control over my work situation only to find out my replacement gave one week notice and is refusing to stay any longer. This isn’t someone hired off the streets, this is someone who had been an employee for a few years, hmm, maybe it wasn’t me that was the problem could it be the account?

The wine is light enough in color to see through the glass; blackberries and a touch of sweetness make this a nice sipping wine. I think this would be great for hot summer days in the back yard. The wine is from the Rheinhessen region with the Nahe river on the west and the Rhine river on the east. I learned quite a bit from the Schmitt Sohne website like, German wine categories reflect degrees of ripeness in the grape when harvested. This is also reflected in the German wine laws.
Alcohol – 11.5-12%
T.A - 5-7

I have to keep telling myself I am still in control as I am no longer on that account or a full time permanent employee. I have the power to say no since this was their choice, not mine but I’m actually glad it happened. Stay tuned…….

Wine info for the day:
Although Germany is known for its sweet wines 2/3 of the wine production is dry to very dry.
2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

2008 Opi Malbec and nail polish remover.....

Fall has arrived in Florida, at least for the next day or two. Tonight is the first night since May where we can enjoy sitting on our deck overlooking our Koi pond while sipping a glass of wine. Even Wine Kitty is outside enjoying the dry and cooler temps. Tonight’s wine selection is 2008 Opi Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina.

It smells familiar but I can’t put my finger on it, later I realize, it’s nail polish remover or acetone. Thankfully it doesn’t taste like nail polish remover but it is medium to even light in body style. The flavor doesn’t linger very long either. I take in lots of berry, oak and spice flavors but as soon as it hits the palate all I’m left with is an alcohol taste.

I tried to find more info on the wine and the winery but I was unable to find a website. All I can tell you is what I get off the bottle. The grapes are handpicked from the vineyard in the Maipu region of Mendoza and the winemaker is Rudolfo Sadler. I did have some left in the bottle the next day and was curious to see if the nail polish scent disappeared. I’m happy to report it has dissipated but when I take another sip the flavors are still there but still not much of a finish.

Oh well, on to the next wine in our wine adventure.

Chickadee word of the day:
Acetone – a wine with a sharp but slightly sweet and somewhat fruity smell typically caused by ethyl acetate.

2009© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.