Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Desert Wine Guy - So You Want A Wine Cellar

   Today I am going to be taking a break from wine reviews and am going to delve into a subject that might initially come across as a subject of interest to only the very rich. Today I want to talk about the wine cellar. The mere mention of someone having a wine cellar brings up comments such as "must be nice" or "ahh, to be rich". While this can be true just a little bit of research will show that if the purpose for you to have a wine cellar is to simply preserve your wine than anyone can indeed have a cellar. But if the purpose of having a cellar is to display your wine in wonderful and incredible decorated surrounding than yes, it is still indeed mostly for the rich. I think that the question we need to ask ourselves is are you simply looking to preserve your wine or are you looking to display your wine in a beautiful setting. The purpose of this article isn't to say that one is better than the other because it all depends on what you believe the purpose of a wine cellar is. For the purpose of this article we will simply take the view that the whole purpose of a wine cellar is to preserve our wine. If you start off with the basics you can always add to your cellar as your finances allow.
   Now, with that being said I think it's important to understand another important item and that is wine is alive. When we think about it the only way to preserve your wine is to keep it alive, that is what we are preserving, anything else leads to the degradation and therefore ruination of the wine. The conditions of the cellar (or room) in which we place our wine determine how healthy our wine remains and for how long. While we all seem to act as if wine is the finished product it really is not. Think about this for a second. How many of you guys have wines that you know are not ready to drink? Well what does that mean? That means that you feel the wine is not the best it can be. What that also means is that the wine is continuing to evolve or change. The wine might change for the better or the worse but the hope of course is that wine will change for the better. At it's core wine is either developing, improving or declining. At it's base wine is the juice from grapes that have live single celled, living organisms called Yeast(s) added to it to impart flavors and to create Alcohol (Ethanol) and Sugars.
There are also bacteria's that are placed into the grape juice to alter the final outcome and into what will hopefully become what we call wine. These events are caused because the Yeast is alive and causing these things to occur. This process of turning Alcohol into sugar is known as "fermentation". Various problems can occur during the fermentation process because the Yeast is effected by many different things which I won't get into because they are not pertinent to this article. There is also the process of using Bacteria to produce something called "Malolactic Fermentation" which still uses live organisms (bacteria). The wine we drink is constantly doing something and doing it because it is indeed alive. Knowing that wine is alive we have to do our best to keep it alive and productive for as long as possible. That is where proper storage or a wine cellar come into play. So we now know a little bit about wine and that we need to keep the living organisms in the wine alive but just how do we do that? Well, here is one reason why people want a wine cellar. There are things that are under our (the wine buyers) control and that we should strive for in order to either maintain our wines or allow them to grow, develop or improve. The room that we choose for all this to happen while the wine is at out our house is a POTENTIAL wine cellar. I say potential because this room must meet certain conditions in order to fulfill the purpose of a properly functioning wine cellar.
   There are faults that can exist in the room we choose that must be fixed prior to placing wine in that room. It is best to choose a room that initially has as few of these faults as possible before determining it as your cellar. The less faults the room has the less money we have to spend to eliminate the remaining faults. Without going in depth here are the main faults that can ruin your wines and as such should be eliminated in our potential cellar. Avoidance of improper temperature, the elimination or keeping to a minimum the use of UV lights, The maintaining humidity levels around 60-70% and keeping vibration away from our cellared wines are all important.
   I think by now you can see that it would not be too difficult keep your wine away from the above listed faults. You can in reality see that almost any room in your house in my opinion, can be called a potential wine cellar. As long as you can maintain the temperature at the proper levels and avoid the pitfalls mentioned, you have a wine cellar in reality.
   One last item. Please don't confuse a fancy room for the only type of wine cellar that can exist. The topic of designing a wine cellar is another topic for another day and should not be confused with the topic of having a wine cellar. 
                                            The Desert Wine Guy 

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Desert Wine Guy - 2013 Canyon Oaks Chardonnay

   Hello everyone and welcome back to my wine blog. Today's wine that I am reviewing is a 2013 Chardonnay from Canyon Oaks which is a label produced by ASV Wines ( ASV Wines is one of the largest wineries and grape growing operations in California and is located in the Arroyo Seco AVA ( which is one of nine different AVA located in Monterey County, California. So, lets get started now and see what this wine has to offer.
   This wine started off as a wine that was simply for decoration in my Kitchen wine rack and was never really meant to be drank. You might ask me why I decided to drink it then. I was really in the mood for a white wine and this was the only white that I had in the house (crazy huh?). I also didn't feel like going to the store so I was left with no other choice but to drink the white wine that was in the house. Well, now that I have told that sad story and gotten it out of the way let me move on and throw a few potential issues into the mix of this review. For one, this is a  2013 Chardonnay that cost $6 being reviewed in September of 2017. While I am at it, let me add in one more potential issue. This wine has never been stored in anywhere near what would be considered
preferred cellaring conditions. The one possibly saving grace as far as the wines storage conditions is that the room the wine was stored in did maintain it's temp at 70 degrees and while this is considered fairly warm to maintain a wine, at least it was at least consistent which is an important factor in preserving a wine. I would say that this really super inexpensive wine has had a tough battle to fight and whether it succeeded in maintaining the battle or not remains to be seen. One other thing I will tell you before I move on is that this wine was received from the Wine of the Month Club ( which I have always been very happy with. If you've read my review of the club ( you will know that I can say nothing but good things about them and no, I do not get anything from them to say that. Okay, let's get started on this review now.
   Let's begin here by discussing the varietal known as Chardonnay for a little bit. Chardonnay is the most common and well known variety of white grape in wine production today. The varietal is known as the King of white grape varietals and there are over 34 different clones of the grape. Once again we owe the country of France and it's Burgundy region a big thank you for another great grape varietal. The flavor profile for this particular varietal is really all over the page so to speak. The wine can go from fruity to smoky on the Palette and essentially there are many different styles of the varietal with different textures, fruit levels and acidity. One of the biggest issues that drinkers of Chardonnay have encountered is the tendency of winemakers to over Oak the wine causing an overly Buttery mouth feel. How do we really know then what the varietal should taste like and how can we judge the varietal itself? That is a good question and one that I unfortunately don't have an answer for you, that is something you will have to have to get together with your Palette on and determine for yourself.

   Okay, it's time, lets get into the heart of this review.  Let me begin by talking about the bottle itself. Look guys what I am about to say next is wrong, I know it is wrong but it is one of the factors that help me to initially pick a wine. A wines label will just tell me if it is a simple wine or not. Yes, yes, yes, I know that is silly and as I said, wrong so you will have to forgive me, I expect more (including a fancier label) from a good wine. You see, part of what attracts me to a wine is the label. Basically what I am saying is the Vineyard or winemaker needs to convince me first visually that the wine you made and want me to drink and that you put in the bottle is meant to be taken seriously. If the label is plain or silly and it should come out as a serious wine then the Marketing Director needs to be replaced and fast. In this case I simply did not care for the label on this wine at all and it made me think of a very non-serious, cheap (not necessarily inexpensive) wine that I wouldn't even have wasted $6 on if I were to see it in the store. Well anyway now that I have told you one of my wine pet peeves, let me go ahead now and talk about how the wine showed in my glass. 
   I tried to take a picture of the wine in my glass but it just didn't do the wine any justice. Sparkling in the Sun and Golden in appearance simply can't describe what I saw in my glass, it was almost as if a dye were added to the wine, it was truly that nice. Wow, sounds like a good start for our little $6 wine. I was really impressed visually but how does the wine look outside of the direct Sun.? A beautifully maintained Golden liquid is what I saw in my glass even when the wine left the direct sunlight and almost could convince you that you are about to drink an Old School type Chardonnay. I have had many wines that are four times this wines price whose appearance couldn't hold a candle to the appearance of this wine. I am indeed impressed.
   Onto the Bouquet of this wine now. Caramel and Asian Pear clearly shine thru here. A sweet Peachy aroma drifts out to my nose. A Baked Apple note comes to my nose as well. The wine smells as if it will potentially have a buttery feel in my mouth, I will give you a spoiler up front and let you know that it doesn't. With all of these fruity type notes I have to tell you that I am a little afraid to taste this wine. Being honest as always, I am expecting this wine to be a big time fruit bomb of sorts so to speak, I hope I am wrong. Well it's time, time to get to what this wine really does in my mouth so lets get to it.
An ASV Vineyard

   So, what was my first thought when taking my first sip of this wine? Certainly this is an extremely fruit forward wine. As I stated previously, you all know now that a Chardonnay can exhibit so many different characteristics. This is a wine whose Bouquet seems to be right in line with the Palette. I liked the Asian pear on my Palette and the way it was expressed although it was very sweet.  Let's talk about the "buttery" aspect that the varietal may sometimes display for a minute. I did not sense any "buttery" note but I did however sense that there was a small amount of an oily type texture on my Palette, nothing overdone here guys but it was present and actually made for a rather smooth wine that had possibly a hair of acidity on the finish. As I mentioned earlier, this wine has a lot of fruit and I would go as far as to say that it is an extremely fruit forward Chardonnay and unfortunately it is indeed the fruit bomb that I feared it would be. There is a note of baked apple present here in the wine but unfortunately that simply only added to the overly fruity and sweet, sugary notes. The slight acidity note on the finish that I mentioned earlier tries to fool you into believing that the wine might have at least some sort of complexity to it but it isn't and is simply overrun by the sweet fruity and sugary notes. The bottom line here is that the wine is an overly sweet, fruit bomb and one that I could not appreciate. 
   If on one hand, you are not a real wine lover and you are just looking for a sweet, cold "Jug Wine" to mix with juices or 7 Up then you might have come across your new drink so this wine might have a positive side for it but you are going to have to wait until it is pool time again. If on the other hand you are looking for a real Chardonnay, stay away from this wine.
   Wrapping things up here. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I give this wine a sad 82 (not recommended, offensive notes or lacking and redeeming qualities.) points.Sorry folks but this was way too fruit forward and way too sweet for my liking, it had no redeeming qualities to it.
                                                                                                                               The Desert Wine Guy

Monday, May 28, 2018

The Desert Wine Guy - 2014 Franciscan Estate, Magnificat

   Well folks I am back again to tell you about a very special wine that also just so happens to temporally stretch my promise of reviewing wines for the middle class as I don't consider $56 for a bottle of wine to be something that the Middle Class wine drinker will go for on a regular basis. Now, there might very well be some of my readers out there who might argue the point that this wine is NOT for the Middle Class but I beg to differ. Whatever your opinion is on the matter you will need to put those opinions aside as right now I need to tell you about a blockbuster of a wine. Today's wine being reviewed is the 2014 Franciscan Magnificat from Franciscan Estate ( in Oakville, California. I purchased today's review wine for $56 directly from the Winery itself which I don't normally do because they are either much higher in price then the local stores and the shipping charges are out of this world. In this instance the Franciscan Estate winery had the great deal of $1 shipping and so I could not resist. By the way as a side note, after checking my local Smiths / Kroger grocery store I found that they had this wine for $59. Today's wine that I will be reviewing and discussing is a Red blend consisting of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 5% Malbec, 2% Petit Verdot & 1% Cabernet Franc and comes it at a slightly higher than average Alcohol percentage of 14.5%. This wine sat for 20 months in 70% new French Oak.
   Because I am very visual as all wine reviewers I think should be, I always try to make it a point to pay attention to and bring attention to a wines label when I believe it is worth making mention of. The label of this particular wine I believe is worth mentioning and I thought was classic Franciscan. True, it could be considered rather simplistic however I believe that the fonts used as well as the placement of the words themselves scream simplistic class and Superior quality. I don't know what it is about a well thought out and designed wine bottle but for me it seems to convey the perception of there being an outstanding wine inside of the bottle. This "perception" of course does not always turn out to be the case in reality but it is indeed a wonderful start and a wonderful unspoken promise.
   Let's move now past the bottle and onto what is in the bottle, the wine itself. Let me now discuss the Bouquet for this promising wine. Starting right off the bat are luscious notes of Cedar/Cherry wood as well as awesome dark fruit notes that came flowing straight out of the bottle and into my glass, then to my nose. Wow is about all I can say at this moment as I need a few seconds to sit back and simply enjoy the wonderful Bouquet. Okay, I'm back now so let's continue with what I got from this wines Bouquet. More than a hint of dark Cocoa also fluttered from inside the glass and drifted up to my nose giving me visions of a Summer day while Mrs. Desert Wine Girl does some cake baking in the Kitchen. Speaking of Baking, waves of Dark Baking Spice and Caramel are escaping the glass to my nose as well, I am totally impressed to say the least by this wines initial presentation. Lastly here I am not only sensing these notes but enjoying them almost as if I were drinking the wine itself. A truly serious and luscious note of Molasses is also presenting itself. In all I am sensing terrific complexity on the nose and an absolutely screaming promise of terrifically superior complexity that I am really hoping translates right on over to the Palette. The French Oak is evident on the nose as well and together I will let you know that I could (almost) sit here all day and just keep the glass to my nose enjoying what this wine is confidently showing off. Right now there are visions in my head of an old fashioned Napa Valley interpretation of the Cabernet Sauvignon varietal with all it's deep and dark notes topped off with some serious Cassis and Tannins to punctuate the fact that this wine continues to keep me hanging on for a blowout wine.
   Moving onto the Palette now let's see what else I can discover and what I can tell you about when it comes to this wine. I absolutely must begin with the Oak note that was present on the nose and is indeed translating itself to the Palette as well. If there were any doubts initially that this wine spent 20 months in 70% new French Oak the first sip of this wine will clear that up as it is without a doubt very evident but in no way offensive or over done, you are simply going to love it. On top of this is the smooth notes of both Smoke and Leather that only deepens this wines Palette presentation and helps move it quickly towards being a potentially very complex and powerful wine. Moving on now I want to point out the note of a delicious, Black Plum that meshes incredibly well with the other Palette note. This Black Plum comes barreling it's way through to your Palette and is smooth and without flaw and not astringent, Black Currant is nicely presented in abundance as well here and more than helps in creating a semi "chewy" Red that simply screams to be tasted as well as Cellared for a few years for those of you who are not into such a robust red as this one is. By the way, I will discuss Cellaring later on in the conclusion of this review. Putting the wine in my mouth instantly made it water and I discovered that the wine is not shy on the Palette at all and I could not help but to want more of it, now. Folks this wine is impressing me to the max. Juicy, semi dark, semi fruit forward, deep Cocoa with spice. Speaking of spice, there is a Black Pepper spice that combines wonderfully with the chewiness of the wine and creates an absolute succulence to this wine that is nothing short of amazing. How about there being a note of  boysenberry that stands out with the other notes and hold it's own very well against the other notes.
We are dealing here with a wine that is strictly about business and that does not understand the meaning of the word "play". This wine knows it was created to impress at an important Dinner or function and not at some average party where there might might not be serious red wine drinkers. Okay, if you folks are thinking that I am done telling you the enormous pleasure that I experienced in drinking this wine you would be wrong. Here is a wine that as I said includes a Leather note that I believe is working hard at being one of the dominating masterminds behind the chewiness and succulence that I have been talking so wonderfully about. That smoky note only helps to develop this wine into an astonishing example of what a Napa Valley red should be. Well, I am tired of typing guys but as they saw, the show must go on (and there is so much more to say). There is a note of Menthol that assists in bringing the Palette alive even further. There is a deep and dark Cherry that is unlike any cherry you have probably ever tasted, not overly sugary or sweet and it presents itself in such a way that you will be amazed. No excessive sugar or sweetness as dark cherry can put forth at times. Throughout the wine there is no expression of bitterness at all but there is more then polished expression of that Black Pepper spice which I mentioned earlier and that never leaves us, it elevates the wine on the Palette to a place that I believe also helps in bringing out the incredible Tannins that this wine shows off and is part of the wines way of screaming to be tasted, right now. I love a Red that presents itself with serious Tannins, Let's talk about these Tannins for a minute shall we?  If I were to describe the Tannins in this wine I would do it this way. Not shy, not timid or mellow, but bold, straight forward and unabashedly in your face. In my opinion this amount of Tannins assist greatly in helping to build a wines structure and doing so tells me the seriousness of a wine so lets discuss structure for a minute. There are plenty of wines that have character and SOME structure and those wines certainly are appreciated, enjoyed and respected by the industry, they are also happen to rate very well with me. To me, while you certainly can develop a Red wine that has structure without a moderate amount of these Tannins, there is always in my humble opinion something missing when you have a red wine that doesn't have them in decent amounts. For me I feel the need to usually avoid the terms "outstanding", "spectacular", "landmark" or even "ground breaking" when it comes to these types of wine. For me this wine demands all of these words, expressions and more.
   I am going to wrap this review up now because I believe that I have expressed to you enough that this wine is indeed ......."top shelf" so to speak. I truly haven't been so impressed with a red wine since I reviewed the 2011 Peju Cabernet Sauvignon ( and I rated that wine at 97 points. What an absolutely incredible wine that was. With all this being said let's get to the conclusion of this review. First I want to follow up on a promise that I made in the beginning of this review concerning Cellaring of a wine.
   Ever since my first trip to Napa I have been hooked on deep, earthy reds that exhibit a good amount of Tannins / Cassis, I absolutely love them. Yes, there must be more to a wine as these notes alone do not make a great wine (but they sure do help). I also noticed that they are only in pretty serious wines, wines that are meant to compete and be Cellared if you would like. Now, lots of people shy away from a wine that exhibits this type of boldness and fail to realize that it is one of the signs that a wine can be successfully aged. This wine is without a doubt at that level and I believe can be aged nicely for at least ten more years. Now there are people who like me who will insist on enjoying that type of wine right now and will buy at least one to Cellar and that I believe is smart thinking.
One last thing and something that is truly bothering me. I have read reviews of this wine that said that this wine is "fruit forward" and "shy". Folks, let me tell you this straight out in case you haven't already figured it out. There is no shyness to this wine as for the "fruit Forwardness" comments, yes, there is a bit of "fruit forwardness" and the wine makes no bones about it. I have tasted, and at times liked "fruit forward" wines and this folks is not what I would consider to be one of those wines. Perhaps these reviewers were tasting another year or another wine or perhaps their Taste Buds were off that particular day, I am not sure. What I will definitely tell you is that on The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I am giving this wine a remarkable 96 points. Winemaker Janet-Meyers is obviously at the top of her game.
   P.S - As I stated earlier in the beginning of the review I usually don't make it a habit of purchasing anything winery direct as they are always much higher priced than a local store. Having said that I want to point out that my local Trader Joe's here in Las Vegas is selling this wine for $39, a huge savings from the $56 that I spent at the wineries website.
                                                                                                                The Desert Wine Guy

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Desert Wine Guy - 2017 Governors Bay, Sauvignon Blanc

   Oh how I love the Summer, especially while looking over the Vineyards and enjoying the pool with the family. Today I am sitting out back by the pool checking out my garden and Vineyards that are participating in "The Great Tempranillo Experiment". So here I am basically just relaxing and watching the kids in the pool when I remembered that I had just bought a bottle of the 2017 Governors Bay, Sauvignon Blanc. Well, I thought, what better time then right now to taste this wine and do a review on it? So, here we go, let's see what this wine is all about.
    Let's start off by discussing the Bouquet of this White from New Zealand. Lovely Gooseberry and Lemon citrus escape the glass with a promise of perhaps acidity on the Palette. A sense of Honey Dew Melon is exposed as well. You can almost sense the bit of Carbonation that is also apparent in the wines appearance in the glass.
   Speaking of the wines presentation in the glass it was rather simple with the color of light straw yet had almost a watery appearance. Topping it off was confirmation of the already aforementioned slight carbonation.
  Let's move on to discussing how this wine comes across on the Palette. Straight off I will (and need to) say that this wine is loaded with Gooseberry as well as lemon at all stages of the wine. Right off as well I need to tell you that this wine is also over the top with these two notes and makes for an over the top and very astringent wine throughout the tasting. Holding the wine on the Tongue brings out an initial note of ever so slight Carbonation and Melon but it does not last long as those darn notes of Gooseberry & Lemon that swarm swarm all over the Palette and rather quickly and wipe it out and make it almost appear as if it really isn't there at all. Making matters even worse are the notes of Grapefruit and Lemongrass. I ask you guys this question. Are you seeing a pattern in this wine yet. Sour notes are abundant folks. Let me break this down a little bit more for you. Tart, astringent, dry, Acidic. Are you getting the point yet? You talk about a wine that has a long lingering finish guys, this wine has those qualities for sure although I'm not really sure that is a good thing when it comes to this wine. Is there any sweetish note that one can enjoy? Well, for a few seconds there is and for those few second you might begin to think that this wine is going to present notes with at least some type of sugar or fruit forwardness to it. The problem is that the other notes attack it and subdue them while they don't completely overtake the sweeter (and what would be nice) note of Melon it seriously does throw it to the background and almost entirely but not quite, covers it up. Guys I sorry to be so crude but this wine has me burping up acidic Lemony notes in the back of my throat.
   In closing guys I must tell you that I have read other peoples opinions / reviews of this wine and almost everyone loves it. Like I said when I first started this blog, wine is subjective. If you like a white wine that displays these characteristics in the varietal known as Sauvignon Blanc than go for it as this is your wine and you undoubtedly will enjoy it. On the other hand now......if you like the varietal with a lot less of the notes listed here than look elsewhere as this is not your wine, there are much better ones out there for you (and me). Folks, let me tell you a little something. I can deal with (and have) a white that is slightly overbearing on the lemony and / or Grapefruit side but this wine goes overboard and I reject it whole heatedly. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I will deviate from my usual point rating scale and just recommend that you simply don't but the wine! 

                                                                                                                  The Desert Wine Guy

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Desert Wine Guy - 2013 Angels Landing Napa, Sauvignon Blanc

   Today I am back for a review of a Sauvignon Blanc that initially appears at least to be from the Napa Valley. Doing some research on this wine cast some doubt on that however and caused me to re-discovered the fact that appearances are at times different than reality and that I believe is indeed the case with this wine. Before we get into the actual wine please allow me to first address the issue that I am bringing up, the issues of what I call "false labeling"and which could actually (and will) be the subject of another article. First off, there is no such place as Angels Landing Vineyards or Angels Landing Cellars located in the Napa Valley. Angels Landing is in reality probably a wine broker and is a label represented by the Mendocino Wine Company which is owned and operated by the Thornhill family of Ukiah, Utah which also represents many different labels of wine. The wine in this bottle says that it is "Vinted and bottled" by Great Domains & Estates which is a Beverage Alcoholic Consultant and is located in Windsor California. Here is a definition that I found while researching the word "vinted" on line. "If the bottle indicates Vinted and Bottled it means the winery on the label may have had little to do with the making of this wine." So,in reality "vinted" means nothing. Now, whether this is false advertising, a play on words or just simply the customers assumptions, you will have to be the judge of that for yourself. What I can tell you however is what I call it and I call it deceptive marketing for sure. From the research that I have done on this wine I cannot tell you where exactly the grapes for this wine are from. The bottle itself however does says the following on it's back label in big letters "2013 Napa County Sauvignon Blanc". Once again, what that means I have no idea since Napa County includes area such as Stockton, Berkeley and Ukiah, the customers assumption is Napa County means the Napa Valley and this is not true in this case. O.K there Desert Wine Guy, that's all great but how is the wine? Well, in order to find out you'll have to read the next few chapters so let's get to it.

   Let's proceed with this review by telling you that I bought this wine at a national big box Wine, Beer & Liquor store for around $15.  Starting off  let's talk about the Bouquet of our wine. Upon first experiencing the Bouquet I picked up the moderately floral notes of Lemon Grass, Green Melon and Pear. The notes that presented themselves to my nose were while not what I would consider to be anywhere near overpowering yet were definitely well received and pronounced. In my opinion the moderate but certainly none the less noticeable Bouquet actually goes super nicely with the rest of the wonderful yet not overdone characteristics of this wine and so once again, let's get to it.
   If you look at the characteristics of the varietal known as Sauvignon Blanc you will notice such descriptive words as "a nice crisp pucker.", "refreshing" or " bright". In reality the flavor of the varietal is largely dependent upon the area or climate of the world in which the vines / grapes are grown. If the climate is on the warmer side you may experience notes of peach, passion fruit and kiwi-like flavors. If on the other hand the vines are grown in cooler climates you may expect notes such as grassy herbal notes and a wine with a zesty or semi acidic finish. The reason that I tell you all this is because although this wine says "produce of U.S.A" it shows itself as a cooler climate style usually appreciated outside this country. This interpretation of Sauvignon Blanc has a zest or slight but noticeable finish of acidity as well, nothing to strong at all but yes, it is there and I loved it. On the other hand the wine also does indeed have some nice tropical fruits on the Palette such as Melon and Pear yet it also does indeed have a rather nice Lemon Grass note on the Palette as well. Our wine also exhibits herbal notes that are really noticeable and that I think went well with the Lemon Grass and the bit of acidity that the wine presented to the Palette.  In actuality there was a rather dryish note to the wine as well yet there was also elements or notes of the wine that showed a climate where there was indeed some heat involved with the area that the grapes were grown. Melon was not overdone on the sweet or sugary side and it was able to shine through and make it's presence known yet it was kind of like a guest appearance, you know it was there and it definitely made it's mark on the flavor and will always remembered yet it didn't play enough of a part (sweetness) where it was the main character. But wait, there's more (what a line huh?) The wine also exhibited a Green Pepper note that wasn't shy and again and was again not overdone yet kind of came unexpectedly as well.  If  you think it's time to move to the conclusion of this review you would be wrong. I didn't mention the notes of stone and minerality that are boldly pushed to the front of the Palette. Along with the Grassiness note that I mention previously there is also that unmistakable note of stone. While it is unknown exactly where in America the grapes of this particular wine are grown, I would certainly say that if they are indeed grown in the Napa Valley they either had a fairly cooler year or they indeed managed to create a wine that is not typical of their climate, a rather nice accomplishment I would say. To me however, this wine leans heavily to the side of a wine made from grapes grown in a much cooler climate that the Napa Valley, again I could be wrong but either way it is not a heat influenced wine typical of a Napa Sauvignon Blanc in my book. To me this wine could pass for a Sauvignon Blanc grown in areas such as Chile or the Loire Valley rather then wine from the Napa Valley or South Africa.
   The wine is not in any way what I would consider a fruit forward wine, in fact it's the complete opposite of that, it is anything but sweet and fruity. Again, this is not to say that there isn't a side of fruit or at least a hint of sugar which is presented with the Pear and Melon it's simply that these notes do not in any way dominate and fruit forward or sugary will not be your first descriptions of this wine. I would certainly describe this wine as crisp, dry, and yes, refreshing all with a nice touch of soft tropical fruit in the background.

   Before I go I would like the chance to point out something. It should be obvious now that different areas of the world produce or interpret this varietal in different ways. To say that a wine from a hotter area of the U.S such as the Napa Valley of Washington State is in better generally than an example of the varietal from a place where the temperature is cooler such as Chile or the Loire Valley would be wrong. Whenever I see reviews of this varietal I never see the allowance for geographic characteristics, I simply see a number for a rating and I believe that is wrong. You can like one style over the other but remember that both are a true representation of the same varietal and should be judged on that fact. O.K so here we go. If you like the varietal on the cleaner and crisper side that I highly recommend this wine. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I give this wine 92 (Excellent Highly recommended, holds to varietal standard) points, a well presented and crafted wine in my book.

                                                                                                                  The Desert Wine Guy

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Desert Wine Guy - 2013 Oak Grove Family Reserve Vognier

   Today is a lazy Sunday in late September and I absolutely simply refuse to leave the house. The only problem with this is that I want a White wine and the only ones that I have in the house are ones that I have already done reviews on. Well.....I guess that's not entirely accurate, I do have one White that I haven't reviewed yet, it's an Oak Grove "Family Reserve" Viognier (pronounced Vee-Own-Yay) that has been sitting in my wine jail downstairs in the Living Room. I have had a couple of wines from this Vineyard in the past but have truthfully not been impressed. Well as I said, I'm simply not leaving the house today so I guess Oak Grove it is. Here is an admission folks, I don't believe I have ever had the varietal of Viognier before so this is a first for me, perhaps for you as well. If you are like me in that aspect don't worry because we are all about to receive a little education on the varietal. Let's go ahead then and talk a little about the varietal known as Viognier shall we? Together we will discover if this interpretation of the reviewed wine does indeed live up to it's varietal standards.
   For starters, the Vognier is a White grape that is from Southern France. The varietal is very versatile and has the ability to go from a wine that exhibits notes of tangerine, mango and honeysuckle to one that exhibits creamier aromas of vanilla with spices of nutmeg and clove. The wine can be developed in Oak or Stainless Steel, of course this would also impart different notes onto the wine. The varietal also has the ability to impart a sense of creaminess to it. Viognier is usually on the drier side and typically imparts a note of an oily mid palette. Medium acidity is also a characteristic of this varietal. A note of minerality or stone is usually also present in the varietal as well. So, now that we both know a little bit about the grape, let's dig a little bit into this specific wine and see how well it holds to its varietal standard.
   Let's begin with the Bouquet of our review wine. A light note of Peach is detected upon initially putting my nose to the glass. This isn't an overpowering Peach that might scare you into thinking this this might be a sweet or fruit forward wine, it is at a level where it simply says "I'm here, enjoy me" and nothing more. Moving on I picked up the note of Honey which was also once again at an appropriate and not overdone level.Both notes are consistent with the above characteristics we learned about this varietal. Continuing with the Bouquet I sensed a nice melon which once again was at a level of softness that still did not scare me into thinking I was about to drink a fruit bomb of a wine. Here we have an inexpensive ($8.99) wine that exhibits what this wine is supposed to exhibit and not at the expense of one note having dominance over the other. I should note here as well that none of the aromatic notes here are at what I would consider to be levels that I would think would be something that would overly attract me to one note over the other, a well balanced Bouquet. As for my initial judgement or evaluation of the wine, I am happy so far a happy camper.
   Let's now continue on and discuss how the wine presented itself in my glass. This also the time where we visually check out and even possibly make another judgement of the wine you are about to drink. Before I get into that let me say that there have been many White wines and reds that I have evaluated that are not all that impressive when it comes to their presentation in the glass or for that matter on the nose that I thought ended up being really done well. So, with that being said here we go. In my glass the wine displayed itself as light golden in color with edges of slightly darker golden edges. The edges looked nice in the Sun when I brought the glass onto my Patio. My overall presentation of the presentation in my glass was not something that I would consider anything spectacular (although it was nice) but also nothing that would turn me off or give me a negative impression about the wine either.
   Let's move along now to how the wine tasted or came across my Palette. From the beginning I will say that it appears that I am reviewing a wine that is fairly, astringent on the mid Palette and most certainly on the finish. The minerality or astringency are both on the mid to back-end but together they are both super nice and I did not find them when combined to be of offensive in any way, in fact I rather enjoyed them. There was a fairly decent note of Nectarine that was attempting to take front and center stage here and was more dominate than the other notes. A note of melon and an almost Lemon Rind presented themselves and again neither were overpowering and actually presented themselves rather well against the Nectarine, minerality and the melon. The wine was more than happy to put these wonderful notes on display for you, the drinker without having you choose a favorite note.. How about Peach you might rightfully ask. Yeah, it's here as well guys. This is something that you really have to sit back and search for however as it on the finish and soft. It almost comes across your Palette as "there is something else here" type of note and when you taste the wine you taste all the notes that I mentioned but you almost sense that there is something that you are missing. At first you aren't sure what it is but if you take a sip of the wine and sit back with it in your mouth it seems to become clear and it finally hits you that you are sensing this Peach on the finish but at a level where it almost goes by unnoticed, but not quite. Finishing up here I did sense the influence of an Oakey note to my Palette while enjoying this wine.
   Was there that Nectarine type note present that this varietal should present, yes, there was and combined with the minerality / acidity it presented itself in the category of near excellence! There was an Oakey finish to this wine that I thought was awesome and well placed. Now, please don't get me wrong, I don't want you to think that there was no fruit forwardness at all on the Palette here guys, there was some rather nice fruit, have no worries about that. I guess the question should be, is this wine a sugary / fruit forward wine? absolutely not, by no means. This is a wine that certainly does edge more toward the Minerality / acidic side especially on the finish but also exhibits a semi brightness to it.

   Alright then guys, what's up with this wine? Tell us Desert Wine Guy, what do you say? Well folks, I say that you buy this wine, buy a few bottles of this wine while you are at it actually. I enjoyed this wine....a lot. This is a brand name that I have seen carried at tons of stores here in Las Vegas valley and I can tell you that since it has been a while since I have reviewed anything from this label however in the future, I will be EXCLUDING it from my "stay away from Vineyards" list in the future. So......Desert Wine Guy, what rating do you give it? Well guys, that is a good question and thank you for asking it. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I am giving this wine 90 points. 

                                                                                                                   The Desert Wine Guy    

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Desert Wine Guy - Cellar 433 "The Sun"


  Today's wine review comes from grapes that are grown in the state of Arizona. The state has been coming on in the last few years in the wine area and produces some really good wines. To start off with, the one thing I have noticed about grapes grown in Arizona is that they tend to have a fairly good amount of a Black Pepper note to them. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing (I love it actually) it can become sort of old after a while. It would be nice sometimes to review an Arizona wine that doesn't have that particular note. With that being said, however, today's wine is a actually a white wine. Today's wine is named "The Sun" and is a white wine from Bitter Creek Winery / Cellar 433 ( to be exact. Cellar 433 is located in Jerome Arizona and owned by John McLaughlin. Cellar 433 grows their grapes in Wilcox Arizona. Cellar 433 is also the largest Vineyard in Arizona with over 150 Acres of yielding vines and a production of 8,000 cases of wine a year. From a resident of Las Vegas's perspective you must ask yourself, is the trip from Las Vegas to Jerome a short trip? The straight answer is no, it is not. The trip from Las Vegas to Jerome Arizona is actually around 5.5 to 6 hours but I personally happen to find it enjoyable. Give me some awesome (80's) tunes and a large supercharge (at least 5 shots) however and I am a happy camper. There is actually a lot of the trip as you get into Arizona where there are actually trees and grass and that is certainly a nice change from the Las Vegas desert and it's Cactus, trees that grow nothing and plants that don't grow flowers and therefore lack any color. With that being said, I would like to now move on to the city of Jerome and this particular wine.
   The city of Jerome is part of what is called the Verde Valley Wine Trail ( which is Arizona's version of the Napa Valley and actually runs through the cities of Sedona, Cottonwood as well as Jerome and the the small town of Page Springs which is just 10 minutes outside of Sedona and is a must visit. All of the three are withing a 20-30 minutes from one another and in my humble opinion, definitely worth the trip. The trip can technically be done in a day with a designated driver and that includes stopping for a short time in each town to enjoy the shopping (ladies). If you include in the wonderful hiking then you must stay the night at least. For the purpose of this article however we will focus on Cellar 433 but I am (slowly) working on an article of the whole Arizona wine industry which I will releasing in the near future.
Cellar 433

Marsanne Grape Varietal

Symphony Grape Varietal

    Today's wine is a blend of three different varietals which are Chenin Blanc, Symphony and Marsanne. Here is a little about the two lesser known grapes, the Symphony and the Marsanne varietals. Let's begin with the varietal known as Symphony which is actually a crossing of Muscat of Alexandria and the Grenache Gris varietals and was created by the late professor of Viticulture Dr. Harold Olmo at UC Davis in 1948. The grape itself however was not commercially released until 1982.  This varietal was designed to thrive in hot growing climates (Can you say Las Vegas) and is typically used for blending.
   The varietal known as Marsanne is named after the town of Marsanne which is located in the Northern Rhone Valley. The wine is usually made into a very dry wine and usually has very little depth of perfume and flavor and therefore is used as a blending grape with it's cousin, Roussanne. This varietal does NOT like a hot climate and if grown there will struggle to develop enough acidity to prevent it's weight from muting it's flavor. When grown properly however the wine can produce a slightly earthy minerality with subtle notes of Honeysuckle and melon.
   Now on to the heart of the review wine. "The Sun" has a slightly high amount of Alcohol at 14.32% but fear not because that Alcohol is not tasted in the wine at all so there are no concerns as far as the Palette goes. The wine is also using a Cork closure which is unusual for a white wine today. This is a non-vintage wine as well. The label on the bottle shows a women worshiping the Sun. By the way that also seems to be a common element to wines of Arizona, they all seem to be prone to the celebration of Pagan type elements such as in this case, Sun worship, why this is I do not know. The bouquet on this wine was really wonderful and super bright, perfect for a Spring or Summer days that are coming. A super great Lemon and kiwi open up this bouquet. A really great Honeydew melon note as well as a light Cantaloupe note follow making this wine display an awesome bouquet and one that I truly enjoyed. In my glass the wine seemed to have an awesome sparkle in the Sunlight it had a nice golden hue to it as well. This sparkling in the glass went perfect with the name of the wine and both seemed to be made for and compliment one another.
   I couldn't wait to taste the wine itself. Tasting the wine was mostly a continuation of the Bouquet, and that means the wine was really nice. The wine was definitely a slightly lemony dominated wine but there was a background note of sweetness to it. Hints of the melon were noticeable as well and seemed to cut the Lemon and prevent from being harsh. A grapefruit note was certainly present as well and indeed stood out. There was a slight dryness here as well probably due to the Lemon / grapefruit but not to the point where it took away the fruitiness of the wine (although close) and certainly nothing to complain about. With the lemon / grapefruit note, the melon and that slight sweetness and fruit forwardness I think this is a perfect wine for the season upcoming. There was a bright finish on the front on the Palette that continued through to the end. While certainly not a complex wine it does serve the purpose rather nicely.
   In this wine we are talking about a wine that was made specifically for the Spring and Summer time. This is a perfect pool or picnic white and one that I wish I had gotten another bottle of when I had the chance. When the heat gets turned up head to the pool and break open a bottle of this wine and you will very happy.
  On The Desert Wine Guy Rating Scale I give this wine an 89 points.

UPDATE - Today, September 12, 2016 I have re-tasted this wine. Here is the latest comments / thoughts on this wine. I believe that my original notes for this wine still stand and the wine is as described. The original review of this wine was August 1st.

                                                                                                                The Desert Wine Guy