Monday, September 17, 2018

The Desert Wine Guy - 2016 Baus Family Vineyard, Sauvignon Blanc - Private Reserve


   Oh how deceptive and effective advertising can be. What's that you say there Desert Wine Guy? Well I have just recently competed writing an article (https://desertwineguy.blogspot.com/2017/10/the-desert-wine-guy-wine-label.html) where I discuss the wine label in general and just how we have to be careful what we assume or are led to believe. I guess I should have read my own article because I myself just got fooled. I was out today at a big box Liquor store today and I was actually thinking about that particular article as I searched through the many different labels of Sauvignon Blanc. I wanted a wine from a real identified Vineyard to write an article about. Now, please don't get me wrong as there is nothing wrong with winemakers buying grapes from specific Vineyards and making wine. I have reviewed countless wines that were made that particular way. My problem comes when I try to get some information about the wine to put in my reviews and can find nothing. That isn't cool for me and it isn't cool for you, the reader either. Yeah I can tell you about what I am tasting but there is so much more that I can't tell you. Okay, anyway. There is no Baus Family Vineyards. The name is owned by Great Domains & Estates LLC. which is located in Windsor, California. According to Buzzfile (http://www.buzzfile.com/business/Beverage-Alcoholic-Consultant-716-568-8096) Great Domains & Estates LLC is "engaged in importing activities at this facility". Well anyway, I was indeed fooled but I still do have a wine to review so let's get to it.
  Today's wine is the 2016 Baus Family Sauvignon Blanc - Private Reserve. The wine cost me about $15 and came in at 13% Alcohol. Let me go ahead and pour the wine into my glass and see what I can find out about this wine. The wine sits almost crystal clear in my glass and there is nothing else to say about it. As I have said before though, that doesn't really mean anything as I have had many wines that were unimpressive in the glass and yet turned out to be very good. While the visual presentation of wine is considered very important to some, to me it is not that high up there in importance. Moving to the nose now I found the wine had a rather nice tropical fruit Bouquet to it. Honeydew defenitly took the lead here by a slim margin followed closely by the rather nice note of Lemon Grass type spiciness. On the back end is a note of White Peach that is in it's rightful place judged by the lack of prominence on the nose. What I found here is that eventually all of the notes of this wine all come together once the wine sat open in the glass for a short time. I have actually come across a lot of wines that whose initial Bouquet is dominated by this note or that note but settle down rather quickly and nicely to where you would be hard pressed to find one particular note that dominates. This wine also has a unique note on the nose of almost like a baked goods or Buttery type note that you must search to find but if you persist and take the time to break down what you are sensing inhaling you will indeed be rewarded with it. Overall however this wine exposes the drinker to enjoy a wine who exhibits slight fruit notes on the nose.
   Now, onto how the wine came across my Palette. This wine presented a dominant Lemongrass note right out of the gate. I don't know about you but to me this is how the varietal should express itself, anyone can make a wine that mimics a Wine Cooler. Now, I know that is harsh but it is how I feel. Moving from the Lemongrass there is a a moderate amount of fruit on the Palette that the wine has to offer. The note of White Peach that was present on the nose translates rather nicely onto the Palette as well. The wine does not come across as sweet at all and I think due to the Lemongrass which is okay with me because I do not want a sweet wine. Following up here I will tell you that the wine is loaded with Green notes, notes that pull this wine in the direction of dryish dominance which again, is just right by me in the varietal. A Green Pepper note appears to be tagging along for the ride here as well here. This is rather a grassy / green sort of wine and tastes almost to an extent like a fruit that isn't ready to eat.  Lets get to the sweetness factor and if there is indeed any. Yes, the wine has a small bit of sweetness that you will taste and hopefully as I did, appreciate. Does it envelope the senses, dominate the Palette or distract from the other notes? The answer is a resounding no, it most definitely does not. Let's remember here that this is a Sauvignon Blanc and not that previously aforementioned Wine Cooler. The Sugar that I tasted is slightly more than enough to ensure that the wine is not harsh or lacking of any tropical fruit at all. Speaking of tropical notes, let's talk about that Honeydew shall we? As on the nose, the Palette will experience some Honeydew melon that is mostly where the sugar note will come from. Let me go back to that White Peach for a minute. Lower in acid and taste sweet whether firm or soft the White peach has a bit of tang to balance the sugar. Add this to the Lemongrass I mentioned and you have a match made in Heaven right here. As you can see, there is a decent enough amount of sugar or sweetness in this wine without it being a fruit forward wine or "sugar bomb". O.K, we getting close to the end of this review. Before we go however I want to get a little something clear. 
   You might ask if I like the more fruit forward side of this varietal. My answer to you would be, I do because that note of Lemongrass as well as other notes are present to cut the sugar on the palette and to help avoid the wine from becoming close to Sugar or sweetness dominated wine. Let me be a little clearer though for those of you in question. I have said this before and I will say this again. If I want a Wine Cooler or a Moscato, I will pick up a bottle. This is a Sauvingnon Blanc and clearly identifies itself as such.
   Wrapping up this review now I will tell you that this is a Sauvignon Blanc that you would expect to find from a wine grown in a climate that is not subjected to great heat. The wine was sort of a mix between a Brazilian or Chilean Sauvignon Blanc a New Zealand-influenced Sauvignon Blanc with it's tropical notes and the Mondavi-influenced Fumé Blanc and a more rounded wine with with melon notes. Where exactly the grapes for this wine are grown is unknown as I can find nothing (including photos) on the Vineyards or anything else for that matter while I searched the Internet. Whomever put this wine together did a nice job however as I have given it 89 points on The Desert Wine Guy rating scale.

                                                                                                                The Desert Wine Guy

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Monday, August 27, 2018

The Desert Wine Guy 2016 Poco a Poco! Tempranillo


   Hello everyone and welcome once again to my wine blog. Before I get into our review wine I would like to say that I hope you enjoy all the articles that I write as much as I enjoy writing them. It takes a lot of work to stay on top of Family, working a full time job as well as all the wine and Social Media outlets that I have chosen to participate in but it truly is worth it, as I really do enjoy sharing my thoughts and knowledge about the wine world with you guys.
  Today's wine that I am reviewing is the 2016 Tempranillo from Poco a Poco!. This wine is 100% Tempranillo, sells for around $10 and is from the Castilla y León region of Spain, (the Bodegas Luis Alegre Winery) but does happily does not carry the price tag of a wine from that region or that winery. I received this wine from Wine Insiders (https://wineinsiders.com/) through a great deal of getting 15 bottles of wine for $65 with free shipping. 
   Let's first start off discussing the label which I think is rather interesting. Written like a Dictionary definition the label explains that the name of the wine which is Poco a Poco and means Bit By Bit/Little By Little. Very unique and I just thought it was worth commenting on. With that being said let me move now to the Bouquet.
   On the nose there are all kinds of things going on here, this is an intense wine. The dark berry fruit is screaming here folks. Blackberry is the first note that I picked up on the nose. Following up the Blackberry is a note of very dark Cocoa and not some simply some light, cheap or sweet artificial note of deep Cocoa. No Sir, I am talking about not just any Cocoa but a quality baking Cocoa that reminds me of a Chocolate factory, very nice and enjoyable. Combining the two notes together provides for a depth in this wine that is truly super remarkable. A really nice note of Prune follows these two up yet remains softer than the previous two notes which is good as it manages to compliment both. The wine has absolutely incredible energy on the nose. If you have ever heard of a "promise" that a wine makes, this wine is making me that "promise" I just hope it can keep it and I am dying to find out so let's get to the Palette so, with that said lets get to it. The wine has impressed me on the nose so far and I am anticipating (or hopeing) that the Palette will do nothing less.
   The first thing you will notice is that a note of Prune comes through on the Palette and immediately is enveloped by the same incredible and amazing Cocoa that I picked up on the nose. How does that sound? As is normal for a Spanish Tempranillo, the Black Pepper spice comes out to show itself off......incredibly. This is the note that sold me on the varietal and elevated it to be my favorite just over the Cabernet Sauvignon varietal. An awesomely deep and dark Black Cherry is combined with that level of Cocoa and actually darkens, or intesifies it's flavor to the point of the Cherry losing any potential tartness that it may have thought to carry with it. At this point I am tasting a wine that is elevating itself above some average wine to a wine that far exceeds it's price tag. My goodness folks, that Black pepper is why Spain is the king of this particular varietal. If you are looking for some Tannins to go along with all of this and add some potential aging characteristics, you are in luck because they are indeed present and contribute greatly to add to and compliment the finish of the wine. The Tannins are not harsh nor do they take away from the other notes as in some wines.
Fans of some Acidity in a Red will be happy and expect it because it comes with the Black Pepper which really shines on the mid palette. The Tempranillo varietal isn't known for overwhelming acidity and this wine continues with that pattern. The typical note of  leather that you get from a great Cab or in this case Tempranillo is present as well and yes, I am loving it and I know you will as well. There is a rather nice level of tobacco that is in here as well and if you stop for a minute and think about what I am presenting in this review as far as the notes so far I hope you can imagine the awesomeness of the wine. As I stated earlier, all the notes present here mesh together as if they knew each other since the Flowering stage on the vine. All the notes are at equal appreciation levels other than the Cocoa which stands out slightly more and none clash or take away from one another, who would have ever thought that were possible in a wine? Another great aspect about this wine is that you wont have to worry about waiting to enjoy it since it is enjoyable from the beginning and does not require any time to allow it to "open up" or "breath" although it is indeed possible that would improve this wine even further. I kind of also like and am partial to the slight but noticeable Cocoa dominance.
   Let's go ahead and wrap up this review as I have a wine magazine to relax with and of course finish the rest of this wine as well. So, what are my final thoughts on the wine. I think by now you probably already know that I loved this wine. The wine held up to all my expectations of a great Spanish Tempranillo. The one drawback that I ran into is that I have not however found a place to buy this wine including the place (Wine Insiders) I just bought it from. They seem to not carry it anymore and I think that is in keeping with their business model of dealing with small Vineyards. I really hope you have better luck and if you do please let me know where you found it available because I want more. Well, it's time folks. Time for my rating of this wine. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale I give this wine 93 (Excellent Highly recommended, holds to varietal standards) points. I really enjoyed this wine folks and I hope if you do find it that you enjoy it as much as I did.
                                                                                                                   The Desert Wine Guy

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Monday, August 6, 2018

The Desert Wine Guy - 2016 Spencer Family Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Reserve


  I would like to start this review with a question. Here is the question. How many of you guys ever feel that you have to like a wine? I mean after all how would you look if you said that a wine from a prestigious winery or vineyard does not taste good? After all, how would you feel if you didn't like a wine that the wine industry "experts" said was fantastic and "at the top of it's class"? Don't all wines from Peju or Stags Leap taste great? I want to just paint a picture for you for a minute. You walk into a party where "fine" wines are being tasted and here comes a wine from a prestigious winery and immediately everyone begins to talk about how they have heard such great things about this particular wine. You hear things like "oh, the 2015 vintage" or "I have heard so much about the wine maker". The pressure is now on for you to nit simply like the wine but love it. Pretty soon you are convinced that you REALLY do love this wine. Well folks if you are like that you might not like this article and this entire wine blog, you might also wonder why I most of the time review small label wines. All of this brings me to the wine I am reviewing today. The  2016 Spencer Family Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Reserve that I received from "Wine Insiders" (https://wineinsiders.com/). Here is a wine that in actuality is made from the region of who knows where, with grapes grown from the region of who knows where. Yes, they will try and fool you by placing on the bottle "Vinted & Bottled" by but that really says nothing about where the grapes were grown or for that matter what winery actually made the wine. What I did find in relation to "Spencer Family Vineyards" is that they are supposedly located in San Martin, CA with an address that comes back to Arroyo Seco Vineyards. So with that knowledge in place, let's get into the review.
   Today I want to begin at the label. No, this is not one of those wines that promises you the world from looking at the label. To me however, the label came across as simple yet perfect for the varietal. The wine was able to be seen nicely because there was a lot of uncovered glass in order to allow it to be seen while the label itself communicated a nice reasonably priced white wine.
   On the nose the wine was on display from a short distance away and I was able to pick up a Peach / Nectarine notes that were indeed calling my name. Nothing overpowering mind you but nice enough for me too sit up and take notice.
   Looking at the wine in my glass displayed nothing special. The wine was pretty clear with a tinge of slight Gold along the edges. While not necessarily a bad thing as I have had many wines of the same varietal with the same display that turned out to be very nice indeed.
   On the Palette now I will tell you here in the beginning that I liked this wine. The first thing that I noted was that there was a slight acidity on the finish that I really enjoyed. Nothing crazy here and nothing that threw me back in the chair or made me take special note of it other than the fact that it was present in just just enough strength to actually make me gently sit back and take note of it. Peach and nectarine were upfront as well on the Bouquet. These notes were "cut" by a note of grass that was present in a fairly decent amount and was very effective at tweaking notes that could otherwise be over done. The wine displayed a good amount of crispness to it as well as a moderate but not overpowering amount of sugar that is to be expected from this varietal depending on the weather the grapes are grown in. By the way I want to comment a little more on that note of grass. A lot of times that particular note can be really overdone but not here. In here the note compliments all the other notes and yet allows the wine to express all it's note nicely. There was also the ever so slightest note (or feel) of Lemon that was only sensed on the sides of the Tongue and was not harsh. Notes of melon such as Honeydew combine with the grass note, the acidity and to a small extent (but clearly enough) the Nectarine to power but not over power this wine forward across the Palette. If you would like more to the wine, I am happy to inform you that there is a light yet (again) perfectly balanced note of Grapefruit that is just prominent enough to remind you what Grapefruit tastes like and make you want one. This note is detected just enough to be effective and causes no overpowering sour note to be exhibited. This is more along the lines of a New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc although there is a good amount of typical hot weather climate notes spread throughout the wine. Well guys, time to wrap thing up here. It's time to give my final thought on this wine. So with that being said, let me get too it.
   There is actually a sense of refinement here that I was surprised to find for a wine selling for $15 and boasting an Alcohol percentage of 13%. After drinking a few glasses of this wine I am starting to begin to think of some serious Sushi and I think when you taste this wine you might begin thinking that as well. I wish I could tell you more about the pedigree of this wine but I cannot. I have put in a request to Wine Insiders for more information and if I hear back before I publish this article I will add whatever relevant information that I get on to you. That is about it readers. Oh, I guess there is one more item to add. On The Desert Wine Guy rating scale, I give this nice wine 92 (Excellent Highly recommended, holds to varietal standards) points. A very well done wine.

                                                                                                                  The Desert Wine Guy

UPDATE - It has been a couple of months since my request for more information on this wine has been submitted to Wine Insiders and I have not received any response to that inquiry.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Desert Wine Guy - 2011 I.G Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve



   Well everyone there comes a time when I review a wine that simply fails miserably in its ability to present itself as an even "so so" wine. As you have probably already guessed by now, today is that time. Today I will be giving you my review of the 2011 I.G Winery Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve. While the wine is made at I.G Winery in Cedar City, Utah (http://igwinery.com/)  the grapes themselves are from the Sonoma Valley AVA. Before we enter into this review though I feel that I need to say that I really enjoy the winery itself and Doug the owner, really does make some rather nice wines (https://desertwineguy.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-desert-wine-guy-ig-winery-instant.html). I certainly do recommend that if you are near Cedar City you stop in and emjoy a tasting. Okay, so let's get to it.
  To begin with I gave this wine the opportunity to Decant for slightly more than two (2) hours prior to tasting it. When poured into my glass I must say that this wine initially impressed me by showing itself off with a rather nice Crimson Red on display. A really super nice darkness filled my glass and I could really not wait to taste it. On the nose this wine was simply fantastic and impressive. I remember expressing that very opinion while at the winery itself. A very serious Chocolate is first on the nose and reminds you of a Hershey's bar to an extent. This is followed closely behind by almost as wonderfully a very serious Molasses note that is truly nice as well and led me to believe that the wine would present itself on my Palette probably at least slightly in fruit forward and sweet to an extent, which I don't mind in the least bit as long as these notes are not overdone. I am now really enjoying the opening of this wine a lot. Simply by experiencing the Bouquet, I am and you will be hoping for a wine that will reveal an absolutely wonderful expression of this varietal. Now, I don't know about you but I can't wait to taste this wine so, with anticipation let's move to that part of this review.
   Onto the Palette now. There are pretty serious opening notes of a rather bright, harsh and offensive Cranberry as well as bright, harsh and offensive Cherry, both of which unfortunately displays themselves as the overwhelmingly dominate notes. A nice Chocolate note translates from the Palette fairly decently however unfortunately at an ineffective level and does very little in the way if softening or alter the other two previously listed harsh notes. Both the bright, harsh and offensive Cranberry and bright, harsh and offensive Cherry notes seem to lack any ability to soften to the levels needed to not be very offensive nor do they attempt to convince you that you are indeed drinking the Cabernet Sauvignon varietal. Remember this wine was Decanted for slightly over two hours. Aside from the Cocoa there are some other nice although rather slight, light to medium notes of ever so slightly refined Tannins and, Cassis and Green Pepper that indeed are nice at times however but really are overall no benefit to the wine. Now, why do I say at times?  Well, this is weird but the wine has a rather uncanny and annoying ability (or fault) to sort of fad in and fade out of what little structure it attempted hard to convince you that it had. It's a weird thing but if you are consistent at tasting the wine meaning every not much more than every minute or so, the wine seemed to hold up fairly decently. Don't get me wrong here guys, these notes of the Tannins, Cassis, Cocoa and Green Pepper are present enough to actually taste and also bring along with them a decent Molasses to the Palette but that Palette fading in and out as well as those rather bright, offensive harsh notes combine for an overall nothing short of terrible wine. A rather weird and serious problem this fading in and out is if you ask me and one that I am rather unaccustomed to as I have never experienced it. I found it rather strange. When leaving the glass for extended periods and coming back to it what happens is that the first taste on your Palette is of Cocoa but very quickly switches to that brightness, harshness yes, offensive notes once again. As the wine was opened longer, that fading in and out ceased completely and you were simply left with a terrible wine that finally became without a question, undrinkable in my book.
   O.K, so in wrapping this review up rather quickly now I am indeed sorry that I cannot recommend this wine at all, for any reason. It is not often that I can not find a use for a wine but in this case this is an exception that I am afraid I am going to have to make. On The Desert Wine Guy Rating Scale I am going to put this at a 78  points ( 78-82  - Did not like, Offensive notes, Lacking any redemptive qualities whatsoever, Not recommended.)  What a shame considering the really nice initial appearance in the glass and Bouquet. Sorry folks but I have to heavily recommend that you stay away from this wine.

                                                                                                                  The Desert Wine Guy


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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

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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 (http://www.asvwines.com/). ASV Wines is one of the largest wineries and grape growing operations in California and is located in the Arroyo Seco AVA (http://www.arroyosecowinegrowers.com/#home) 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 (http://www.wineofthemonthclub.com/) which I have always been very happy with. If you've read my review of the club (https://desertwineguy.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-desert-wine-guy-review-of-wine-of.html?m=0) 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


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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 (https://www.franciscan.com/) 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 (https://desertwineguy.blogspot.com/2014/05/2011-peju-cabernet-sauvignon.html) 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

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