Sunday, November 8, 2020

2018 Stags Leap, Napa Valley - Chardonnay


   Have you ever gotten tired of seeing a particular wine on the store shelf but you just don't feel like spending the money being asked for it? That has been the case with this wine and while the price of the wine is also somewhat out of the normal price range in as far as living up to the "wine for the average person " motto I started the Desert Wine Guy channel(s) off with, today I decided that once and for all I am finally going to remedy this situation by going ahead and buying the wine in order to review it. I figure every once and a while, we can all splurge although if you were to ask Mrs Desert Wine Girl, I seem to splurge a little more often than I should :)  Before I start off, I have to tell you that I am really looking forward to tasting this wine. So, what is this wine I am talking about? Let's move to the next paragraph and find out.
   Today's wine being reviewed is the 2018 Stags Leap, Napa Valley - Chardonnay ( I ended up paying $24.99 for the wine ($32 winery) and it is cork sealed thankfully. The grapes for this wine come from the Carneros AVA with a smaller percentage coming from the Oak Knoll AVA. The alcohol percentage is 13.5% and the wine sat in and was aged in 25% stainless steel, 25% new oak and 50% neutral oak barrels for 8 months. The wine is a slight blend consisting not only of 97% Chardonnay but 1.5% Viognier, 1.5% Sauvignon Blanc as well and there were 39,000 cases made. The winemaker for this wine is Christophe Paubert.
   Before I continue talking about the wine itself, I have to talk about the label on the bottle of course. Guys, this is the typical Stags Leap label that they are so recognized by. I have to say that the Stags Leap label is.....their label. To me, it is something that I always identified the winery with. I guess you could say that their marketing department is effective huh? As far as whether I like the label or not, I do as I think it portrays a classiness while still portraying a sophisticated sort of simplicity.
Stags Leap Winemaker - Christophe Paubert

    As far as the nose of this wine goes, the first thing I picked up when I brought the glass close to my nose is some tropical melon. This melon isn't overdone thankfully, is presented rather nicely and, without being overpoweringly fruity. Next up here is a floral intensity of White Peach which to me was fairly forward and a big hope to my mind of a really good Chardonnay. As far as oak goes, I am getting a nice bit of that note here but it is not overdone and it is welcoming and thankfully does not bring me to the point where I am being scared off by the possibility that the wine is oak dominated. Overall, this wine does not smell at least as if it is going to be led or dominated by any of the dreaded butteriness or oily taste that a lot of winemakers love to bring about in their Chardonnays possibly at times to cover some faults in the wine making process. I am also getting a cream note here on the nose as well and just by continuing to smell the bouquet, my mind continues to to have me wondering what this wine is finally going to taste like. Next up here, I am also picking up a pear note which is leading me to think that the wine could possibly expose a little bit of a sweetness when I finally do get to the Palate. The tropicalness of the pear here on the nose really perks up the palate believe it or not as I actually feel as if I am almost tasting the wine as I smell it. I hope though that this aspect of the wine will be controlled if it does indeed exist on the palate. As I continue here, the wine also throws out notes of toast and more then ever, I have to tell you, right here, right now, this bouquet is just wonderful. My last hope before concluding this section is that hopefully most if not all of the notes I mentioned here will transfer over onto the palate because if they do, the wine I think has the potential to be amazing.
Stags Leap Tasting Counter

   As I begin this part of the review I need to start off by telling you that the initial note presented here on the Palate is indeed of oak. Now, opening up the Palate section of a Chardonnay review by talking about an expression of oak could rightfully scare some people (including me) away normally but please allow me to put your mind at ease as this oak note is is not overpowering but it is instead presented just perfectly to go along with every single note the wine stands ready to expose here. The oak also seems to actually help in elevating the wines overall mouth feel. I think that what really keeps the oak in check and does a wonderful job of it is the overall cleanness of the wine, the palate brilliance of it. Following this oak up is just a bit of Maloactic Fermentation that is noticeable in the form of a slight note of butteriness that also is is not even close to be overpowering but also is just enough to be tasted. Folks, let me tell you something. I am not a big lover of oak or butteriness in my white wines so if I say that these levels were not strong, trust me, they weren't strong. Now at this point, you might think that I am describing a Chardonnay that is pretty much in keeping with the average presentation of the varietal but you would be wrong. The more I taste this wine the more I have to sit back and smile, this wine is indeed different. I usually only do that sit back and smile thing when I know that I have hit on an awesome wine, a wine that I think really stands out from the rest of the pack. As I continue on now, I want to tell you about a note that is simply jumping right out at me as is also pretty in your face. I am talking about  a super wonderful note of a perfectly presented bit of Lemon Meringue. This note is simply tremendous as it mixes with the other notes in the wine that I already mentioned and that I will talk about right now. At the same time the wine presents that Lemon Meringue note it also presents a bit of a tartness of sorts that just incredibly seems to work for the wine like it's nobody's business. This tartness is just another note that knows it's place well and is not overpowering nor does it even try to be. Let's move onto acidity folks, what good is a Chardonnay if it doesn't present decent acidity? Well folks, thankfully there is acidity.

The hoped for acidity is simply amazing and that is not an understatement either, it  is just another of the notes which is involved in creating this wine and elevating it early on in the review, into the mid 90 + point arena as far as my rating is concerned. Now how about some minerality? The wine has an amazing Mid-Palate of minerality which also made me sit back in silence for a few seconds as I wrapped my head around everything I am tasting. The acidity and minerality can best be described as nothing less then stunningly brilliant & clean in relation to the palate. Also present at mid-palate is a slight bit of a cream note which I got on the Bouquet and transfers over here onto the Palate and just as it did on the nose, it  works so well here as well. This cream is simply another note that is super effective in tweaking the palate and it also seems to love having attention paid to it as it is not shy. At first the cream note actually had me wondering what I was tasting for a minute but once I identified it that smile I seemed to constantly have on my face while tasting the wine, continued on. This wine is not done guys as it also exposes that ripe pear I got on the nose and as expected, does add a bit of sweetness to the wine as well. If it sounds like I am getting bored or use to this wine being so awesome, please allow me to tell you that I am appreciating everything this wine is offering up both on the nose and on the palate. Getting back to that ripe pear for a second now, in reference to my comment that it brings on a bit of sweetness. I did say a bit right? This sweetness that I'm talking about can't change the direction of the wine nor does it even attempt to but it certainly does help to add another dimension or layer to the wine by at first offering up a bit of a momentary tug away from the acidity and crispness for just a brief second before it seems to make up it's mind to mostly blend right in. Before I move on here, I feel that I need to set your mind at ease, this is not a sweet wine and what little sweetness it does present is maintained at a perfect level allowing the acidity, minerality and cleanness to lead.
The sweetness exposes just a bit of an underlying hint of richness to this wine but it is as I said, it is underlying and as such is there in order to bring another needed slight deviation from what you are originally tasting. Slight deviation or not, it is still instrumental in making this wine what it is. Another note that this wine seems to be all about is vibrancy, and it joins forces with the acidity, mineality and overall palate cleanness I discussed earlier to attack the palate and I do mean attack. Here, once again is another note that is an integral part of the wine and really helps in making it what it is. That tropical melon I picked up on the nose also presents itself here at mid-palate but as with the sweetness note, it is held in check very well by the rest of the wine. I have one last note here and that is of that toast I got on the nose. This toast note latches onto the bit of oak as well as the acidity & vibrancy of the wine and it is very effective in helping to make this a rather complex wine. Guys, I do believe I have said enough about this wine and so I will move to my conclusion paragraph.
   As I close this review out now, here is something else I want to let you know about that I think you might find interesting. Normally I will take a white wine out of the fridge and allow it to warm just a bit but in this case, there was no warming allowed. The wine was held for two days in the refrigerator and that is how I enjoyed it, cold. Throughout the tasting, I also kept the bottle chilled in an ice bucket the whole time I was reviewing it and the wine simply rocked! I should also tell you that the winery claims that the wine did not undergo Malactic Fermentation. Well, to that I say.....okay. You go ahead and taste the wine yourself and please let me know if you don't pick up a light buttery Note.
If you can tell me where it came from aside from Malactic Fermentation please let me know. Guys, happily I can tell you that this is very close to being an old world Chardonnay, there is nice fruit present but it is not overbearing. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I am giving this Chardonnay what I believe is the highest rating of any Chardonnay that I have ever reviewed which is 96 points as I completely loved it. I am going to put this out right here and right now. This wine is going to go down as a classic vintage, if it hasn't already and I believe the wine is only going to increase in price as time goes on. I have plans to purchase at least two bottles of this wine to place in the wine cellar and allow it to age. Mark my words wine fans, we are dealing with a classic, old world Chardinnay. So folks, I have certainly said enough. If you want an incredible and balanced Chardonnay this isn't loaded down with oak, search no more as this is it.
                                                                                                                                   The Desert Wine Guy


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The Desert Wine Guy - 2016 Piera Martellozzo - Sauvignon Blanc


   Hello everyone and welcome back to my wine blog. Right now, as I write this article it is Summertime here in Las Vegas and the temperature is 101 degrees "in the shade", yeah, I know. What better time is there then now to review a Sauvignon Blanc, the 2016 Piera Martellozzo to be specific ( I bought this wine the other day while shopping at my local Trader Joe's and it comes in at 13% alcohol and carries the very inexpensive price tag of $6.99. The wine as well as the grapes for it are from Friuli Grave, Italy.
   As I begin to talk about this wine, the first note up on the Palette is a nice lemongrass that brings with it a light but decent bit of fresh, clean and crisp acidity that really creates a very lively Palate. The lemongrass note is kissed by an ultra soft, ultra freshness Note of grapefruit on the finish and it too is refreshing. Following this lemongrass and grapefruit up are Notes of both kiwi and jasmine and they work nicely together here and assist with that super lively Palate but also at the same time interject perhaps a hint of a softer edge to the overall finish. The softer edge does little to really tone down the Palate but it prevents any harshness if there was any, being exposed. Following these Notes up is a herbaceousness that you would normally expect from the Italian expression of this varietal.
My Favorite White Wine, Sauvignon Blanc
Next up is a bit of semi-ripe Honeydew Melon that brings a decent bit of fruity tropicalness and a bit of sweetness as well just to change things up a bit. This Honeydew Melon is not in any way overly sweet or overly tropical and I think this is possibly because of the Notes of drying acidity,  crispness & cleanness on the Palate which overall tends to dominate and steer the direction of the wine. There are some other tropical fruits to mention here such as apricot which jumps into the mix and also brings with it a slight dryness. Without any doubt though, each note is tasted and most definitely, enjoyed. Please don't get me wrong now as this Sauvignon Blanc is not what I would consider to be an over the top, tropically fruited wine. While some tropicalness is definitely present, these Notes do not dominate the wine as it is mostly geared towards being that fresh, clean, crisp & nicely acidic wine I talked about as I opened this paragraph. As I continue on here, real quick, I have to let you know that there is a certain sense of elegance to the wine as it sits in my mouth. In combination with all of this is a very light Butteryness the I got here and while it is noticed here on the palate you almost have to stop and think about what you are tasting in order to identify it. I guess you could say that this bit of butteryness is more sensed on the Palate overall but I enjoyed it. Once you do pick up that buteriness you will always be looking for it because it is good and it doesn't disappoint. For those of you (me) who tend to shy away from that butteryness when presented in a Chardonnay, please don't worry as the wine is not in any way an oily, butteryness mess nor is even close and if it were I would have ended this review a long time ago.  Let me go ahead and throw in the fact that there is some nice passion fruit thrown in here for good measure and you will have an almost complete picture of what this wine is offering up. I did say, almost, right? Let's go on ahead and finish this wine out by telling you that a Note of Stone proudly displays itself  front and center and is as Rod Sterling of Twilight Zone fame said, "submitted for your approval", it certainly has mine.
Fettuccine Alfredo and Sauvignon Blanc

   As I move to the final paragraph of this review, I want you to know that all of the fruit Notes this wine offers up are fresh and lively and while they offer up a sense of unripeness at times it's okay because they also allow this wine be what it was created to be which is a Sauvignon Blanc on the drier side with some tropicalness thrown in for good measure. As far as the Bouquet goes, I know that I didn't spend any time on that portion of the review but have you ever walked past a country fruit stand on the side of the road and actually smelled the fruit and knew it was fresh? I know huh! That is what I want to add in reference to the wines Bouquet. This is truly a wine that demands the whole mouth to participate in the tasting. Yes, all wine should be gently circulated around the Palette but this particular wine actually insists upon it. If I sit back and place a bit in my mouth and simply and gently roll it around, my Palette explodes with all the notes mentioned above. Here is truly where that slight butteryness I mentioned earlier comes into importance and helps tremendously to allow the wine to display what it is capable of and that is a lot. One last thing that I want to say here and that is, when I first tasted this wine I tasted it pretty cold having been in the fridge for a few days. As the wine started warming, the crispness dropped in accordance so be careful and maintain the wines proper tasting temperature. As an added bit of information I'll tell you that this wine won a Bronze medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards. How did the wine do in my book?  On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I am very happy to give this wine a very respectable 90 points.

                                                                                                                                   The Desert Wine Guy


Saturday, October 3, 2020

The Desert Wine Guy - 2012 Mindiarte Tempranillo Reserva

    Good Morning everyone and welcome back to my wine blog. Today I will be reviewing my favorite red wine varietal which is Tempranillo. In some past reviews and articles I have talked a lot about the varietal and why it is my favorite so I won't rehash all of that again but if you are interested, here ( is a great article that I wrote on the varietal and here ( is a video I did on the planting of my Tempranillo vines in my Vineyard back when I lived on Las Vegas. I hope you enjoy these links and as always, learned a little something. Let's go ahead now and get some basic information out of the way pertaining to today's wine.
   Today I am reviewing the 2012 Mindiarte Tempranillo Reserva. I bought this wine at Trader Joe's quite a while ago and paid $5.99 for it. I am actually not really sure just how long I've had it but it just so happened to be the first red that I pulled out of one of my wine racks and that was the decisive factor in reviewing it today. This wine comes in at 13.5% Alcohol and is made using grapes from vines that range between 25-80 years old. The wine being a "Reserva" is aged in wood for 12 months and continues aging in the bottle for another 24 months. This wine is 100% Tempranillo and the bottle is thankfully, cork sealed. All of this sounds great but of course, doesn't always guarantee a good wine. So, how does this wine rate? Let's find out together right now. 

   Let's get into this review now by talking just a little about the label. I don't know exactly what it is about the front label that made me want to talk about it but I found it ...."cool". All the label basically shows is the Tempranillo leaf imprinted largely and the wineries name, vintage and the fact that it is a "Reserva". I guess I just simply found it rather inviting looking. The back label was a lot busier and I have included a photo of it here for your appreciation as well. This label includes some Tasting Notes as well as info on the varietal and the aging process among other items. All in all I thought there was a lot of effort and thought put into the labels themselves.
Let me go ahead and open this bottle and discuss what the wine looks like in my glass. A wonderful, deep, inviting, serious red wine is what I see sitting in my glass right now. Coming in as I said at an alcohol percentage of 13.5% there are lots of skinny legs that are slowly running down the sides of my glass. The slow dripping of the legs actually gave the illusion of the wine appearing to have a bit of viscosity to it which of course it doesn't.
   On the nose the wine exploded with the perceived sense of a darkness and depth, it exposed notes of oak, leather and smoke. Let me also go ahead and include in as well a nice Note of Hibiscus and you have this Bouquet down. Overall the wine showed off a rather nice Nose and one that will wet your Palette just prior to tasting it.
    On the Palette now is a note of White Pepper that immediately makes your Taste Buds stand up and take notice. This White Pepper coated my Tongue lightly and I feel, opened the Palate up to everything else the wine was about to offer up. A peppery note in a red, especially in a Tempranillo to me is awesome and in the Tempranillo varietal is required. This White Pepper also works so well with the acidity that I will discuss right now. Acidity wise, the wine is not over the top but you are guaranteed to taste and enjoy it as it presents itself well. The way the acidity seems to latch onto that White Pepper really hit the Mark and while the White Pepper did make a half hearted attempt at taking control of the wine, you don't need to worry as it was only partially successful. As on the nose so it is on the Palette so let's talk about the smoke Note I get here.
There are wines on the market that overdue the smoky note as the winemaker will use it in order to attempt to add a sense of depth to their wines or cover up a fault(s), not here. There is no fakery here and the smoke note is on the lower end of the tasting scale which is just where I think it needs to be. That note of Leather I got on the Nose nicely swirls around the mouth and just seems to blend in along with the Notes of White Pepper, smoke and acidity that I spoke about. This wine is pretty full bodied and the addition of the Leather certainly makes this wine what I would call "expressive". On top of all this, my Palette is simply being engulfed with a semi darkness as well and this is what I expect from any red wine that I enjoy. Now, I say semi-darkness because there is a component of cherry that injects a bit of a lighter fruit Note onto the Palette as well as a nice juiciness. Now, this cherry Note is more than sufficient to power the wine forward yet without taking anything away from its semi-darkness and depth so please don't be concerned. If you like your Temeranillo with Tannins (as I do) than your set here. Tannins are throughout this wine from start to finish. These are not subtle Tannins but but they are not overwhelming either. To me, these Tannins are what is called "grippy" and while not screaming "taste me" they certainly are saying it pretty loudly. If you weren't already tasting enough let's talk about a fairly serious note of Cedar that simply adds to what the wine is already providing which is overall pretty nice. The Cedar insists on helping the wine support that semi-darkness on the Palette and also in adding some depth to the wine. When you first taste the wine you begin to actually realize that the Cedar note is while not dominating the Palette, certainly one of the Notes instrumental in leading it. Before I go to our closing paragraph I want to add a note of dried cherries that as you can imagine adds a bit of an intensity and a bit of sharpness to the Palate presentation of the wine. 
   In closing, I have to tell you that this 100% Tempranillo wine is a great find, especially for $5.99. While many winemakers throw a little of this and a little of that into the varietal, Mindiarte made this wine pure Tempranillo. I certainly can understand why a winemaker would feel a need to use this grape to blend with other varietals as it can be a very "in your face" at times but the Tempranillo grape varietal is so very clearly able to stand firmly on it's own as well. Once again Trader Joe's wine section has come through and offered awesome wines from tiny vineyards that are superior to many well known vineyards and for very reasonable prices as well. Yeah, I could have gone to the big warehouse liquor stores and they are great but what do you do when the Wife is food shopping and you see that special bottle for $5.99 knowing that the last one you picked at this store for around that price was great? I'll tell what you do, you buy it, especially if it's a Tempranillo. Well following my own advice, here I am, reviewing a wine from Trader Joe's and NOT the big alcohol warehouse stores. Having just tasted and reviewed this particular wine I remain super happy with my labeling of the Tempranillo varietal as my favorite red wine. To me pepper and/or acidity can work so well together and do wonders in a wine that might be otherwise be overly fruit forward (not this wine), it can at times even save it.
Now, don't get me wrong, this wine comes nowhere near being fruit forward, I was just putting out some reasoning as to why you might want these particular notes in your red aside from enjoying them as I and a lot of other people do. Having said all of this, it is time for my rating of this wine. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I give this wine 90 points which means this is a wine that stands out above the average wine. A wine that while not exceptional, has indeed made its mark on my Palette and my memory.

                                                                                                                                   The Desert Wine Guy

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Desert Wine Guy - 2017 Tuatea Sauvignon Blanc

   Today was a busy day in the Vineyard as I had some Pruning to do on the first year Tempranillo vines as well as a lot of general cleanup. After that it was time for a trip to Sam's Club to purchase some Cotton Candy Grapes (yum) and now it is time for a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc which will (hopefully) be enjoyed while sitting out back by the the Pool. So, what wine am I reviewing today? Well guys, today the wine that I am reviewing is the 2017 Tuatea Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand but first, I have a confession to make folks. I have found ny last few wines from the Marlborough region of New Zealand to be rather disappointing. I hope this wine can break that pattern and meet the expectations I have for what is supposed to be the best region in the world for Sauvignon Blanc. So here we go, let's get into this review and see what's up.
   Let's begin with th fact that this wine cost me a mere $5.99 at my local Trader Joe's and the alcohol percentage comes in at 12.6%. The wine is straight 100% Sauvignon Blanc and is not blended with any other varietal. Now I know that you may be asking yourself (or me), what can he be expecting for that price? Let me tell you something, keeping it real here as always with you guys, I am honestly sort of up in the air as far as what to expect from this inexpensive wine but, in the past I have received a lot from certain wines bought at this price point and hopefully this wine will be one of those wines, we will see.

   In my glass this wine presented itself an ever so slight golden in Color with lots of thin legs running down the sides of my glass. As I said, the alcohol is at a fairly low 12.6% and those legs represent that rather well.
   As for the Bouquet I am picking up notes of Honey Dew, nothing overpowering on one hand but yet not exactly shy on the other. Let's just say that this note was rather pleasing. A Note of Guava which was similar in strength to the Honey Dew appears and it is very welcoming. Last but not least is a Note of ripe Nectarine that helps add to the overall tropicalness of the Bouquet. Overall the wine exposes a rather simple yet tropically appealing Bouquet and one that is lively and is truly begging to be enjoyed at the Pool.
   Onto the Palette we go now and here is where the wine expresses it's further attributes nicely. Upon first sipping the wine you will notice an initial note of Lemon Zest that jumps right out at you and while not screaming, it is here and definitely speaking loudly. Subduing this Lemony Zest note just a bit is that note of Honey Dew that was on the nose. Both notes here are about at the same level of presentation and are welcomed by a strong bit of zippy Acidity that begins at mid-palette and simply doesn't end. If you guys are lovers of Lemongrass, you are in luck because as expected, that Note is really present here probably due to where the grapes are grown. The Lemongrass is very effective in the overall Palate presentation of the wine and helps in keeping the wine so lively and spirited. Up front and fruity as well as slightly vibrant, this lemongrass certainly does let you now it is there and it is actually instrumental in steering the direction of the wine. All you lovers of an in your face Sauvignon Blanc, you are in luck because this is not a wine that I would is in any way soft.

This is also an expression of the varietal that knows what crushed stone is and it is more than happy to offer it up freely here on the Palate. As I get further into tasting this wine I have to tell you that brightness & Palate clarity are Notes that this wine also offers up. So far, this $6 wine is really impressing the heck out of me people, I just hope it continues. There is one weird thing that I noticed that the wine exhibits and that is on my Tongue there was a slight fizz that I don't think came from Carbonation as there was none visible but it was almost that type of tingle that I picked up. The good thing was that this feeling actually helped in keeping the Palate lively and continuing on without any down time. Now, I know that I mentioned that the Bouquet of this wine was tropical however the wine itself is a bit restrained in that aspect so if you are expecting a really tropical Sauvignon Blanc you might be a little disappointed. To me, the Sauvignon Blanc varietal is so versatile that it can be good in so many different expressions including this one, it is not locked into being super dry or super tropical. Another thing this wine also brings to the table is a bit of sweetness and this bit of sweetness is just right as it is not overdone and does not take anything away from the rest of the wine. Folks, in case you haven't picked up on it yet, this is a very concentrated white wine, perhaps a hair bit too much actually as I found myself having very slight issues with the acidity on the Finish. Aside from that, this wine is a super tight structured wine for sure and in describing it overall I would certainly have to describe it as a Sauvignon Blanc that exposes a massive greenness to it. If you have ever heard the term "green" used to describe a white wine but never actually experienced it, then you absolutely must try this wine because it is the epitome of the phrase. I actually couldn't think of a term to describe this wine any better.
   Let's go ahead and break all this down as I close this review out. If you love the Marlborough interpretation of this varietal than you found Heaven. This wine (finally) is why the Marlborough region of New Zealand has it's reputation. Vibrancy, acidity, some tropicalness, bright, lively and spirited, this wine has it all and at a superb price as well. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale, I give this wine 93 points.

                                                                                                                                   The Desert Wine Guy


Monday, September 7, 2020

The Desert Wine Guy - 2016 Josh Cellars, North Coast Reserve - Cabernet Sauvignon.

   Have you ever had the thought that if you see a wine too often and on the shelves of everywhere you go, that it must automatically be junk? What if Walmart even carries it, would that now cause you to think twice about buying it? If you do think this way and you answered yes to both (me) or either of these questions, don't feel bad guys because rightly or wrongly, I think the same way. As a matter of fact, that was the attitude that cropped up as I was looking on the stores wine shelves today. I saw the usual Tan label, Josh Cellars - Cabernet Sauvignon and thought, nah, I see that everywhere. Luckily, it just so happened that right next to that wine was this wine, the 2016 Josh Cellars, North Coast Reserve - Cabernet Sauvignon. Before I go on with the review I want to ask you guys one other question. What does the word "reserve" really mean when it is applied to a wine? The answer is.....nothing, absolutely nothing. I guess I shouldn't say "absolutely nothing" because it does actually mean something, it means the winery can charge more for that particular wine as the average consumer will believe the wine just has to be something special. What I am getting at is that the word has no legal meaning when it comes to a wine and can be applied to any wine, for any reason and without any justification. Guys, you know I'm The Desert Wine Guy and as such, I am above falling for the "reserve" thing. I am above that......right? In reality, I would like to think that I am but yet my curiosity got the best of me, it still led me to question if this wine behind this label would be different than the wine behind the other label. Is the wine really different though, let's find out.
   So, as I said. today's review is on the 2016 Josh Cellars, North Coast Reserve - Cabernet Sauvignon. I bought this wine from my local Supermarket for $17.99 as compared to $12.99 for the tan label Cabernet. The wine comes in at  14% on the alcohol scale and the grapes for this wine are from Napa, Sonoma, Lake County, Mendocino, and Red Hills.
   I will continue now and talk about the label on this wine. If this weren't the normal step in my reviews, I certainly would have made an exception for this particular wine. Just amazing, that is what my first thought was in relation to the label when I saw the bottle on the shelf. Eye catching is another thought I had and that I also believe fits this label as stunning Fonts and their colors exist in combination with one another. Look at that Gold and it's relation to the rest of the label guys, wow! If this wine isn't screaming elegance, I don't know what other wine is. On the shelf my eyes were just locked onto this bottle and I had to have it, and of course, because it was a reserve :)
   Let's move onto the Bouquet of the wine and see how it holds up to the labels silent promise of elegance. As I bring the wine to my Nose I have to say that I am certainly getting at least some immediate confirmation in reference to the labels  promise. Right away the wine is presenting a Cinnamon Note that is not exactly soft as it is certainly leading the way in the wines expression of perceived classiness. Helping this Note is a sense of what seems like a warm Cocoa Note which also seems to mix expertly with a bit of an alcohol Note. Together these three notes are simply all telling, teasingly delicious and together they present an awesome, incredible sense of perceived plushness as well. Slight oak mingles itself in here but is far from being dominate or even trying to dominate this wines Bouquet. Adding to this is a Cigar Box Note which is thankfully slightly more prominent than the oak and adds a bit more power to the wines Nose presentation. When everything is put together this wines Bouquet is very expressive and tells it like it is without being shy or pulling any punches.
    Let us go ahead and actually look at the wine now. On the Pour, I will tell you right now that the wine is very dark. Holding a white piece of paper below the wine the wine was just barely visible. There was an ever so slight clarity to the very edges but the wine was amazingly close to being completely dark red in totality. Massive and long Legs were ever-present on the sides of my glass and they ran quickly down the sides.
   Whew boy, I am excited to taste this wine folks. Looking at all that has been presented so far, what a shame it would be if the wine fell flat on its Palate presentation. Let me go ahead and get to that right now. When the wine hit my Palate and I swallowed it, I felt a slight alcohol burn that  lingered onto the Finish and slightly beyond. This actually isn't a negative as it not only went well with the Cocoa on the Bouquet but here on the Palate as well. After a short bit, this Note disappeared and left a lot of other Notes that this wine has to offer up and it certainly does have a lot to offer up. As I continue on here, Cinnamon & Cocoa Notes transferred on over from the Bouquet to the Palate nicely and they were rather upfront as well. The plushness, that the label seemed to promise is really evident here and is very forward as well. I don't want you thinking however that these Notes block the other Notes that the wine has to offer up because it certainly does not so don't worry. These Cinnamon & Cocoa Notes are present from the Opening all the way to the Finish (which is long). What really jumps in and helps these Notes be even more effective is that ability to create that awesome plushness, it's incredible. Massive ripe black fruit is so very in your face in this wine as well. There are spicy accents that seem to come in and out rather quickly all the while keeping the Palate in a constant state of juiciness & liveliness. Fresh and ripe Black Cherry just explodes onto the Palate combined with a roasted nut Note as well. These Notes are so super forward and also mesh so very well with a bold, Black-Current Note. The Black-Currant doesn't come close to presenting itself as Tannin's sometimes can. In this case, the Note adds a sense of depth & a bit of Tannins as well to the wine which is really nice. Speaking of Tannin's, they are present but are really fine-grained in this wine and are not Tongue coating. Let's talk about a juicy Blackberry now. I find this note coming in just after Mid-Palate and it is ripe. Here is where I begin to find fault with the wine. This ripeness the wine loves so much is where an issue crops up concerning the wine for me and leads me to telling you that this is unfortunately a rather fruit-forward wine with a good bit of jamminess to it.
 Let me talk for a second about the jamminess for a minute. Some of the Notes in the wine such as the Cinnamon do their best to try to lessen the impact of the jamminess and make it a bit more palatable but in the end, it is in a fight where it is in way over its head because jamminess & fruit forwardness is really over the top. As I move away from this big fault, the other Notes seem to know their place in the wine and they come in at just the right point on the palate. Let's go ahead and talk about a Mid-Palate Note of Clove because there certainly is one. This Clove Note is like I said at Mid-Palate but it is like a transporting vehicle of sorts as all the rest of the Notes seem to ride on it which in the end is almost but not quite a sort of saving grace for this jammy, fruit forward wine. Topping all this off are light Mid-Palate Notes of Toast & Tobacco. Both of these Notes shine through very nicely and are also a prominent part of why this wine excels to the point in which it does. There is an intensity to the wine as it harnesses all of its flavors in order to present to you everything it can.
    Alright folks, so we are at the conclusion paragraph of this review. I have to begin here by coming back to my warning that this wine is big time fruit-forward & jammy? Normally, this would immediately kill a red wine for me but in this particular case, I sort of don't mind it. The wine has a lot to offer in the way of a decent level of complexity and that certainly helps. The wine brings a richness along with it but certainly has more than enough to elevate it beyond the usual fruit forward & jammy red which is so very common today. Folks, the wine is juicy, semi-complex and lush, all at the same time. It is hard for me to rate this wine as I am normally very hard on these types of wine as I find most of these types of wine really have noting going for them but in this case, this is not your normal wine. The wine manages to pull it out though but overall this is one of those wine where I am going to give it two ratings. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale, I am giving this wine 90 points BUT I can certainly see the newer generation of Cabernet Sauvignon lovers giving it 93 points so take your pick as Old School says 90, New School says 93

                                                                                                                 The Desert Wine Guy

Saturday, August 29, 2020

The Desert Wine Guy - 2017 Matua - Pinot Noir Rose.

   Today I moved wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of soil as I prepared my new pond in the Backyard. Between that and the digging in the Florida Humidity, I am ready for a nice glass (or two) of the 2017 Matua - Pinot Noir Rose. Yes readers, you did read that correctly, I, The Desert Wine Guy, am reviewing a Rose. Ahhhh.....Desert Wine Guy, what's up with you buddy, judging by your review history, you never touch a Rose? I am sure that is what you are thinking right now and honestly, so am I because it's true. I have to assure you that the purchase of this wine was indeed, accidental. Ya see, the other day, I went to the store to buy the Matua, Sauvignon Blanc and thought that I was actually picking that wine from the shelf, but I made a mistake and picked up this one instead. I had actually done a review ( of the Matua, Sauvignon Blanc in the past, loved it and was going to give it a re-look but I guess that is not to be, at least not right now. When I finally was able to sit down today to do my review is when I first noticed that I actually did not buy the wine that I thought I had purchased.
Pinot Noir Grapes On The Vine
Well, it's too late now to run back to the store so a review of a Rose it is. I have to admit, I have my reservations on this wine because as I have already eluded to, I am not really a Rose drinker. If I want a wine with a bit of sweetness and tropical fruit I always go to a good New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc (thank you Matua), a Riesling or even perhaps, if I am really desperate, a good old fashioned, Wine Cooler (oh no). While I thoroughly enjoyed the Matua Sauv Blanc, I hope in the end I can say the same for this wine. With all this in mind, here goes my review.
   The price for this wine was $14 but there was a deal of buy one, get one free so in actuality, I spent $7.00 for it. The bottle is screw cap sealed unfortunately as was the Sauvignon Blanc varietal I believe. The wine comes in at 13% alcohol and according to the Tech Sheet ( this wine is all Pinot Noir and the grapes for the wine all come from the Marlborough region of New Zealand.
   Let's check out the label on this wine. I have to admit that I liked the label better when its bottle held some wonderful Sauv Blanc :) The label itself though is nice and I think the blue goes nicely along with the white words. The Fonts chosen are very nice and when combined together just scream, Summertime. One really cool thing about the label is that it has a Snowflake symbol on it and when it turns blue, the wine is chilled to the perfect temperature, and yes, it works.
Matua Warehouse
   Now to the Bouquet. I am getting an ultralight Strawberry Note here but nothing really to speak of or that is truly worth talking about. I am picking up the tiniest bit of a Nectar Note which is on the end of the Nose but really nothing that has any bragging rights. Overall I have to say that as far as the wines Bouquet goes, there is really nothing that impresses me.
   Let's look at the wine now as this should be interesting. The main body of the wine has almost an orangish/reddish tint to it and the Lip (edges) of the wine is a darker Orange. These colors seem to overall have a watery type dilution to them as well. Looking at the wine now as it sits in the glass on a table, I see a peachy/orange colored liquid.
   Now, onto the Palate of the wine. The wine is dry folks, like, really dry. There is very little if any sweetness to it. That is what I feel I need to say right upfront. The first Note up is a fairly serious Nectarine Note which is followed by a Note of Peach but these two fruits seem to be missing any tropicalness or really any sweetness to them. To me, it is almost as if these fruits were picked unripe and remained that way. The wine does however have a nice crispness or acidity to it which helps to create a mouth watering Note to it so that is good. Following this up, there is a Cranberry Note and it comes in just before Mid-Palate.
Bill Spence - Co-Founder Matua Winery
This Cranberry Note is nice but does actually add to the dryness that the wine exhibits in abundance. Following all this up is a bit of a Grapefruit Note which lies just before the Finish and is decent and well placed. I am getting a good bit of pepper to this wine as well and that I really am enjoying.  Deep within the wine is a Strawberry Note that transfers over from the Nose of the wine and is presented fairly decently.
   Guys, I'm sorry but I really can't go on writing about this wine as I really do think I have said enough and told you all that there is to know about it. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I am giving this wine 83 points which means that the wine is simple, mediocre. While the wine is drinkable it certainly does exhibit some unfavorable characteristics to it. If you love an ultra (and I mean ultra) dry Rose than perhaps you have found your next pool wine or leisure wine but do be aware that guests might be put off as that dryness is a good bit over the top. The wine is missing tropicalness and any sweetness which should be coming from ripe fruit and to me, this is a killer. I can deal with dry but missing the two Notes I just listed really does the wine in for me, I definitely would not buy the wine again. As a last Note here I have one last note of caution in reference to this being a pool wine, I think $14 is a way too high to pay for this wine. Even if you can get the deal I got for $7.00 a bottle I would still say, stay away.

                                                                                                                                The Desert Wine Guy

Friday, August 21, 2020

Let's Talk About Wine Folly


   As someone who writes about and reviews wine, there are times when I myself need to do some research online as believe it or not, I do not know everything when it comes to wine. There is one particular website that seems to have become my "go to" wine site in order to find a lot of information from including some amazingly wonderful graphics & charts.
Madeline Puckett
Today I want to talk a bit about that website as I do believe that if you want to educate yourself on the topic of wine, they are worth taking the time to learn about. The site I am talking about is named Wine folly ( Anyone who uses the internet to do some learning about wine has come across this site as they are pretty popular and for good reason. Let's go ahead now and dig a little deeper into this website.
   Wine Folly was started in October of 2011 to very simply, educate people on wine. The company was founded by three friends, Madeline Puckett, Justin Hammack & Chad Wasser. In case your are wondering, Madeline is the CEO of the company and the one responsible for all those great graphics & maps that really teach and elevate the site from just an ordinary wine site into a powerhouse of wine learning, she is also a certified sommelier. Chad is the guy behind the scenes as he is the cameraman.  As for Justin, he is the web developer & Director of Marketing (among other things) for Wine Folly. Wine Folly is located in Woodinville, Washington and is estimated at having around 70 employees while making around $41.5 million dollars a year. Recently, Wine Folly has ventured into a new project named Global Wine Database ( which is basically a PR company and also a way for wineries to promote themselves better.

   Why am I writing an article on Wine Folly? For the past year or so, I have been meaning to write this articular actually and I finally scratched myself out to do it as it is well deserved and they are certainly due my appreciation for having occasionally "borrowed" some of their graphics for my articles. Time after time, I find myself going to their website to gain information on a geographic location or on a lesser known grape varietal that might be in a wine blend that I am reviewing. Lately I have discovered that Wine Folly even has a YouTube channel ( where Madeline will occasionally taste wines and discuss various wine topics in general. I love her bubbly personality and how she really enjoys what she does and I think you will as well. I think when you watch her videos you will leave with a new appreciation of wine, definitely a lot more wine knowledge then you had prior to visiting her channel and perhaps a little happier as well. Madeline also has a knack for explaining things in a simple and down to Earth way. If she uses a word that she feels someone might not understand, she immediately explains what it means and why it is important.
   While doing some research for this article, I have noticed that it seems as if people love to attack Mrs. Puckett rather than Wine Folly itself, almost like they have something personal against her.
Wine Folly - The Master Guide
These comments range from attacking Madeline herself all the way to the information she puts out. Madeline has been in the wine business for a good amount of time and doesn't seem to play into wine snobbery and I think this deeply offends those who do as they believe that the wine world should remain a mystery where as Madeline (and yours truly) clearly does not. These criticisms make me wonder how many people have bad things to say about me. Keep in mind that wine is pretty subjective folks, A writer for Wine Folly, or any other wine project might like one particular wine but you might not and that is fine and normal. What I suggest is that you find a wine site such as this wine blog and or Wine Folly where their wine tastes are more suited to your liking, this way you will feel comfortable with their future wine recommendations. As I finish this little review off, I highly recommend that you check out the Wine Folly site and subscribe to their YouTube channel.
                                                                                                                                   The Desert Wine Guy