Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Desert Wine Guy - 2015 Charleston Peak Pinot Grigio

   What do you think of when I say 105 degree average heat daily, Cactus, Sagebrush & Tumbleweeds? If you are thinking of death by heat stroke, Lizards running through Ghost Towns than guys, I totally understand (if I didn't already live in the Desert) where you are coming and  would agree. What would you say if I told you that in the 105 degree heat among those Sagebrush, Tumbleweeds, Cactus and Lizards there is also wine as well as wine grapes?  The area that I am talking about is the small town of Pahrump Nevada which is located around 45 minutes to a hour North of Las Vegas. I have done reviews of the winery's in Pahrump in the past with these reviews presenting mixed results as far as the quality of wine they make. Today I am back for another review of one of the wines made in Pahrump, this time at the Pahrump Valley Winery ( in particular. Today's wine up for review is the 2015 Charleston Peak Pinot Grigio and comes in at 12.5% Alcohol. To begin with I'll be the first to admit that I do not know much about this particular varietal so let's do a little discovering and learning.
   The varietal is known as Pinot Grigio in America and also when it is on the sharper and more acidic or dry side or Pinot (Pine Cone) Gris (Gray) which is usually reserved for the Pinot Grigio wines that are more on the fruitier and less acidic side side such as French submissions. Pinot Grigio is the second most popular white wine in America. By the way, although there are some people who tend to think that this varietal originated in the country of Italy, the reality is that the varietal actually originated in France. The varietal when referred to as Pinot Grigio is also know for having a characteristic of a type of "oily" note on the Palette and a note that I tasted in this wine as well. This note is from what is known as Malolactic Fermentation (MLF) and produces Malic Acid and is in all actuality produced by winemakers adding a special bacteria known as Oenococcusoeni that eats sharp acid and "poops (yeah I know) out smooth acids. Basically Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same varietal only they go through a different process and taste different. The grapes for this varietal are red (blue-gray hue) but the grapes can also sometimes have a Brownish Pink to Black or even White appearance, the actual color of the wine however is White due to the makers of the wine not using the grape skins in the wine making process. The varietal also is believed to be a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape as Pinot Grigio has an almost identical DNA to Pinoit Noir which is where the theory of it being a mutation derives from. The grape is normally grown best in cooler climates which makes the successful growing of these grapes in the Desert of Southern Nevada a true challenge to say the least. The flavors of the varietal range from the ripe tropical fruit of melon and Mango to Botrytis (a necrotrophic fungus ) influenced notes. So, now that we have described for you a little about the wines characteristics, how does this wine grown in the Desert hold up to these standards? O.K so now that we know a little (lot) about the varietal, let's go ahead and move on to this particular interpretation of the varietal.
   I first want to start with this wines appearance in my glass which in this case is on the very light Golden side. Beginning here, I have to say that the wine actually looks brilliant as the Las Vegas sun reflected off of it in my glass. Continuing now onto the Palette of this wine. Initially upon tasting this wine it came across as being on the slightly sweeter side and I thought that here is another wine grown in a hot climate that is obviously influenced heavily by that heat. Very quickly the sweeter notes disappeared and brought out notes of melon and spice which I found surprising for some reason. A wonderfully balanced acidity also showed itself that was not over powering was also presented to my Palette and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed it. Pear and Honey Dew were presented as well and also with the identical ripeness and in proportion to one another as well. The hint of acidity by the way was detected only on the finish and was not harsh at all in on mouth.  the sweetness that i tasted was not overpowering in any way so do not let that scare you off from this wine. this particular note was more of a fresh fruit note 
  Folks, let me go ahead and wrap this wine up for you. As you can probably tell by reading the characteristics of the varietal in my opening paragraphs, this wine I believe truly lived up to the standards of it's varietal. This wine in actuality fell in the range of Pinot Gris and lived up to the varietal standard rather nicely. Guys, I really enjoyed this wine and am very comfortable in giving it 90 points on The desert Wine Guy rating scale.

                             The Desert Wine Guy

The Desert Wine Guy - 2013 Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon - The Name Might Roar But The Wine Does Not

  So today you are in for a very short review. A short review simply because there is nothing to really say about the 2013 Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon at least nothing that the Vineyard or Winery wants to hear that is. Here is another wine that I purchased at Costco. I actually purchased this while I was buying the awesome 2012 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. This is also one of the 69 different wine labels that Ernest & Julio Gallo own. At 14% Alcohol this Cabernet is nothing at all to speak of. While the wine has an aggressive, very serious looking label making us think of the era of Knights riding around on Horses and the name "Carnivor" this wine is in reality anything but aggressive. This wine has about three different notes that I picked up and they are dark Black Berry, Bing Cherry and Sweet Plum. While that may sometimes get a wine by in this day and age if done correctly, it didn't this time. On the pour this wine started off nicely with an extremely inky appearance, an appearance that this is some deep Red with Tannins and Oak. An appearance that this red stands above the average Cabernet Sauvignon but you would be disappointed. One other impressive item (and the last) was that while my wine glass had a small amount of wine (about the size that a Winery would pour for a tasting) there was no way to see thru to the bottom of the glass. The wine appeared to be an almost Black ink as it sat there waiting to be drunk. I also noticed as I took a small drop onto my finger that was dripping from the bottle that the wine was as really as Red as Blood.
Yeah I know that's creepy but it's true. I was hoping for a very serious and aggressive wine here.  Look at the picture below to see what what the wine looked like when I poured the remainder of it down the sink.
This wine is also a wine that is like ink in as far as it stained my teeth and everything else it touched. It was almost like there actually was ink in the wine. In total I ended up giving this wine about a three hours in the bottle to open up and it remained consistently the same, there were no changes.  Here is a very seriously looking, moderately overbearing Black Berry dominate wine. There are notes of Bing Cherry and Alcohol on the finish that I don't care for because the Bing Cherry brings a sense of overdone sweetness along with it. The Alcohol at the end I of course found pretty unpleasant and a further put off. There is the ever so slightest hint of Black Pepper but not enough to make any difference here. Fairly fruity along the dark fruit side of things this wine is like thousands of other fruit forward, sugary sweet Cabernet's on the market and this one as is the others was not worth my time or yours.
   On  The Desert Wine Guy Rating Scale I give this wine 83 (Not Worth Mentioning, Not Recommended) points.

The Desert Wine Guy


Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Desert Wine Guy - 2015 Mercer - Horse Heaven Hills, Malbec

2015 Mercer "Horse Heaven Hills",  Malbec

   Hello guys and welcome back to The Desert Wine Guys wine blog. A wine blog where you will read only the truth on wine reviews, the wine industry in general as well as perhaps a restaurant review every now and then. What makes me different you ask? The first thing that makes me different is that I am not paid in any way for my reviews whether it be on individual wines, the wine industry itself or even that occasional restaurant review. Yes, as in the case here I will at times receive a free bottle of wine to review or perhaps a comped (free)Dinner for my Wife and I but I do immediately disclose that fact when it does occur (as any reviewer should) and I can promise you that free or not, my opinions of whatever product or service that I am reviewing are really that, my true opinions. There is a reason I am starting off this review and reminding you guys of these things and that reason will very quickly become clear. Okay, now that this has been re-established let me move to my newest wine review, I hope you enjoy it.
Punch Down

   To begin with, I would like to start off this review by thanking Mrs. Brenda Mercer of Mercer Wine Estates ( which is located in Prosser, Washington for sending me this bottle of their 2015 Mercer Horse Heaven Hills, Malbec for review. Let me continue now by talking a little bit about the 18 acre parcel of land known as Spice Cabinet Vineyard which is the Vineyard where the grapes for this this wine are grown.   Spice Cabinet Vineyard is located in the Horse Heaven Hill in Prosser, Washington which is in the Yakima Valley part of Washington State and sits right along side the Columbia River. The elevation of the Vineyards sits at 450 - 500 feet above sea level and has around 32% of the vineyard dedicated to the varietal known as Malbec. The Vineyard itself also grows 8 other varietals of wine. The Vineyard receives around 6 - 9 inches of rain a year, mostly in the Winter months. In 2016 the Vineyard was rated as the Washington Winery of the Year by Wine Press Northwest magazine. Let's now move on and discuss the grape varietal for this wine which is known as Malbec.
Malbec Grapes Growing

   Malbec is a thin skinned, Black grape varietal that in the past ten years has come on strong in the American wine market. It is actually one of the most popular red wines on the American wine market today. The wine owes it's popularity to the average wine drinker in this country as it originally was unfortunately neither praised by nor was it promoted or talked about by the so called "professional" wine reviewer in the past. In America, there are currently around 3,500 Acres of the varietal planted mostly in the states of California, Washington & Oregon. Here also is another wine that the country of France can take credit for as Malbec is one of only six primary grapes allowed to be used for blending in the country's famous red Bordeaux blend.  While the varietal itself is fairly easy to grow, it's roots are extremely susceptibility to disease and other issues such as rot, Frost and Downey mildew. France seemed to have some serious difficulties growing the varietal for a while and after having those many difficulties in France, the grape was then introduced to and grown in Argentina, (Mendoza) where the weather was different and when planted there, the grape sort of found a new home because it just simply took off. What are the characteristics of Malbec? Well, to begin with the varietal is known for it's high Alcohol percentage and in it's usual presentation is typically a medium to full-bodied, dry red wine. The varietal is known as well for it's high Tannins and Acidity. Among it's other characteristics, the wine is also known for it's dark, inky almost purple color profiles as well as ripe fruit flavors of plums, Black Cherry, and Blackberry, it also has a jammy character. If all this wasn't enough how about these descriptive words often used to describe the varietal. Smoke, earth, leather, wild game, tobacco and white/black pepper. The varietal is heavily influenced by Terrior and as an example if the grapes are grown in Argentina the notes for it are usually plummy and fruit-forward as compared to France where the grapes produce a wine that will tend to have have more structure, firmer tannin's, and will also be inky dark in the glass. How does this wine perform in Washington States Horse Heaven Hills? We, I guess you will have to read on now won't you?
Rob Mercer - Spice Cabinet Vineyards

   Retailing at around $22 a bottle this wine weighs in at a hefty 14.8% Alcohol. As I said in the varietal description, this Varietal does tend to have a higher than average Alcohol percentage so the 14.8% is considered to be about average for this particular varietal. The wine presented itself in my glass as a really nice dark red and certainly at least appears visually as if it is full of tremendous promise. With rather narrow legs in my glass (also known as the Gibbs-Marangoni Effect) and lots of droplets on the glass, this wine was right on par with and indicative of a higher Alcohol wine, which this of course most certainly is. This wine is a blend of sorts and is comprised of  78% Malbec and 22% Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet part I think plays a big part of the success of this wine. The Winery notes said something rather interesting and I want to share that with you. The winery notes stated that there were twice daily "Punch Downs" performed while this wine was being produced. In the interest of doing my own learning I discovered through some research that this term "Punch Downs is " the process of breaking up the thick layer of skins, stems and seeds that forms at the surface of fermenting red wine and submerging it during fermentation to extract color, Tannins, flavor and aromas from the grape solids" (thank you Wine Spectator Magazine). This "Punch Down" effect is fascinatingly experienced I believe in every aspect of the wine especially the Palette. I truly experienced some rather powerful and bold notes on my Tongue. The wine was aged it in both old and new Oak for around 18 months as well. O.k let's move now into the presentation of this wine when brought to my nose.
Spice Cabinet Vineyard
   On the nose this wine truly delivered delightful and luscious notes of Menthol, Vanilla, Plum and well as some Blackberry to begin with. Each of these notes is placed on display superbly and are not shy of letting you know that they are there and very "in your face". I love a wine like that. A wine also where none of the particular notes really attempt to dominate or overshadow the other but each allowed seemed to cooperate toward one ultimate goal. Incredible they placed themselves on display as a team rather nicely for your appreciation. Let me also mention and not forget (if that were even possible) about the lovely note of Cocoa that was clearly content remaining on the very back end of the Bouquet. Although on the back end, the Cocoa note was displayed as was the other notes and that is in just the right amount. The Bouquet seemed to promote and promise the drinker a wine that was crafted with complete competence, skill and almost screamed out, here I am for you to enjoy me!

Wine Legs

   On now, onto the experience of the wine on my Palette. Let's see here, where do I begin? The first time I put this wine to my Palette I noticed a sense of smoothness but not a sense of blandness, no sir. Smooth yet fairly powerful and full bodied, that is what immediately enveloped my senses. Fruity notes of Cranberry and dark Plum jumped right out to me but like the Bouquet, none wanted to take dominance or precedence over the other and both were also content to almost scream that there were more notes that are coming along with them so don't leave just yet. Blackberry, deep, luscious and dark Blackberry jumped right out and yet seemed to be almost visually holding hands with the Cranberry and dark Plum. There was a note of almost Menthol that was mixed in with the other notes that really seemed to want to "take off" so to speak and truly did if truth be told. These notes along with a more than slight note of Black Pepper had me welcoming the finish. This is not the strength of a Black Pepper note that you would experience from a good "Reserve" Spanish Tempranillo but then again this is NOT a "Reserve" Spanish Tempranillo either. The Black pepper that this wine showcased did however have that Tempranillo sort of spice which as I already said, complemented the Cranberry and Plum notes here in this Malbec.
For those of you who like both a slightly rich but certainly deep Malbec as well as the Tempranillo varietal will understand I where the power of this wine and where I am coming from. For those of you who have never had the opportunity to experience that medium bodied Malbec Palette feel or the "reserve Tempranillo you are indeed missing out although I must admit that the Tempranillo varietal itself indeed is not for everyone. In my humble opinion, if that medium to full bodied Malbec is not what you are after perhaps I can introduce you to a nice Merlot (oooh). The dark Plum as well as the other notes mentioned really added to the darkness or seriousness of this wine, I was impressed. When tasting these particular notes I think we can thank the Winemaker for that twice daily "Punch Down" because that is where I believe these powerful notes came from. Let's talk about Black Tea Tannins for a minute.  How about more there Desert Wine Guy you say. Okay guys, how about there being perfect Black tea Tannins that come across the Palette that are just that ......perfect, yeah I said it. These particular Tannins that you might taste in a great cup of Black Tea are not Acidic but are presented to come across the Palette to elevate the flavor of the tea (in this case wine) and are sure to even enable this wine to carry on for some more years and yes, I do recommend putting a few bottles away. Before I move on I also want to tell you about how that Cocoa on the nose translates to the Palette. Where the Cocoa was on the end of the nose it now displays itself on mid-Palette. Nothing overwhelming here however it was almost as if it knew it's rightful place or part to play in this wine and was satisfied with it. By now I would hope that this wine is sounding more than just interesting to you so you should know that there is also another side to it, let's now move on and find out what that other side is and if it strengthens or weakens this so far great wine.
   I know what you are thinking dear readers. You are thinking that the other shoe is about to drop and the wine that I built up is about to fizzle out by being overshadowed by some bad or unwanted notes or faults. Folks while I don't blame you for feeling that way but you couldn't be further from the truth. On one hand this wine is displaying the body and criteria of a medium in depth Malbec but now we are about to experience another side of this wine. Here is that other side. There certainly is also fruity component or side to this wine. Now, hold on everyone, don't be worried as this fruity component is not even close to being overblown so there are no worries here folks. Even after this I sense that there is a question I know that you are dying to ask as well as the answer to that question. Hey Desert Wine Guy, is this just another fruit forward (fruit bomb) red wine? No, this is not a wine that I would consider in my opinion to be "fruit bomb". Now, do you have to enjoy some slight fruit forwardness in your wine? Yes you do, but you must like the other notes even more as the slight fruit forwardness is not a major component. The dark Plum alone here guys is out of this world and is truly a smooth as well as flavorful component to this wine, this wine would not be the same without it. Let me say a little something more about that note of Black Pepper before if I may before I go. This Pepper is also what makes this great wine what it is. Here is again another note that if removed would degrade this wine to the level of just average. I could actually say this for all the notes in this wine, if one were missing or fought against the other for dominance, or were tasted less on the Palette the wine would have probably been altered in a negative way.
Malbec - Color and Grape

   Well folks it's time, time to wrap this review up. On The Desert Wine Guy Rating Scale I am proud to give this wine 93 points. I absolutely loved this wine folks and I want more. I would highly recommend this wine to you guys and tell you that this wine could last another 10 years if properly Cellared and perhaps slightly longer. Great job to everyone involved. 
                                                        The Desert Wine Guy

Mercer Wine Team                                                      

Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Desert Wine Guy - The Wine Label - A Sometimes Misleading Marketing Tool Designed To Induce A Purchase

   What information can you get from a wine label? Well, you can actually get a lot of useful information from a wine label if you pay attention and understand what it is you are reading. It is very easy for the consumer at times to be fooled into assuming or believing that what they are reading actually means something other then what it is. In a lot of cases the consumers assumptions might be very well incorrect. So, with that being said ,here we go wine lovers with another educational article that I myself found very interesting while doing the research, I think that you will find the stuff interesting as well as useful yourselves. By the way I am also not immune from reading or seeing what I want to see or read as I was recently fooled by a particular wine.
   When a Vineyard or wine producer designs a label for its bottle it has certain laws or regulations to adhere to because all wine labels must be approved by the Alcohol Tobacco and Trade Bureau. Let's use as our example the wine entitled "Angels Landing Napa". This is wine I have done a review on but have not yet posted. This is also the wine that brought this whole issue to mind and prompted me to write an article on this subject. I'll give you a little sneak peak into the article here by telling you that there is no "Angels Landing Napa" nor is there an Angels Landing Vineyard or Winery in Napa (end of preview:). So, what do you call this when you see advertising like this on a bottle of wine? I call it deceptive advertising. This wording gives the consumer a false belief that the Napa Valley had something to do with this wine when in actuality it might not have had anything to do with the wine at all. In keeping it real with you guys, yes when I bought this wine I assumed that I was buying a wine from the Napa Valley and now I feel taken. So with that being said, here is a rather short article on what the marketing deception of the wine label. Lets go ahead and break down some useless or vague terms that we might see on the wine bottle.
1) VINTED - The word actually means and stands for nothing. There is no legal definition that states how this word should be used or for that matter, what it means..

2) OLD VINE -  This term also means absolutely nothing. The term only infers that the vines are old but who is defining what "old" means especially if the words "Old Vine" on a bottle mean that I can charge another few dollars to what is really an ordinary wine then great for me as the seller.

3) RESERVE - The term only infers that the production of this wine has received special attention. Add another few dollars to the consumers cost of the wine and more profit in the producers pocket.

4) BOTTLED - This means that the company listed on the label didn’t make the wine, it just bottled it. As an example "bottled by ABC & Sons, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa California" this might lead you to believe that the wine was grown in the Napa Valley but that would not be the case it just means that ABC & Sons put the wine in the bottle.

5) CELLARED BY -  Again put the name of a company on a wine bottle that is simply located in the Napa Valley and you have the consumer assuming pr believing with their Wallet that the wine is from grapes grown in Napa. All this means is what it says, the wine was kept in a Cellar in the Napa Valley. You will also see this term used concerning a company that doesn't own a Winery.

6) OAK AGED - Here is our last example of misleading words or phrases that we might see on a wine bottle. The first thing is, there are many different types of Oak that wine can be aged in and some are better then others. This phrase doesn't tell you the type of Oak nor if the Oak is new or old. The age of the oak determines how much impact it has on the wine that is soaking (or aging) in it.

6) LIMITED PRODUCTION - This simply means that someone made the wine in limited amounts. This says nothing else about the wine but may fool the consumer into thinking that the wine is something special. More profit for the producer for what may be sub-par wine.

   Well, now that I have gotten that out of my system I feel better. As I said when I started this little article, there is a lot on the wine label that is very useful to us the consumer but that is the subject for another day and another article. For now I will just leave you with this. When you are out buying wine be aware that the wine label as well as being informative is also used as a marketing tool and a very effective one at that. I hope you have all learned a little something about a small but important part of the wine industry, I know that I have.

                                                                                                                The Desert Wine Guy

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Wine Critic Fact Or Fiction, Should You Listen Or Not?

    How much importance does (or should) the latest, greatest or hottest wine reviewer have in influencing which wines you choose to purchase and drink? Throughout this article I ask you to keep an open mind and be honest with yourself. If "the great" Robert Parker loves a particular wine does that dictate that you will go out and buy that wine simply based on his recommendation? Will you also than automatically tell all your friends that you love that wine simply based on the fact that the "great" Robert Parker loves it and that you are a nobody when it comes to his greatness in the wine industry? Are you what I call a wine groupie? How many times have we all read a wine review and the so called professional or "Sommelier" uses words to describe the wine that no one in the world has ever tasted or can begin to understand. Here are some examples of what I mean. Have you ever read a wine review and the writer describes the wine like "this wine has a note of Graphite" or how about "this wine has the wonderful taste of Acetone". Now, I have to ask you folks. Have you ever tasted "Graphite" What normal person has ever tasted Acetone? By the way Graphite is a form of carbon that occurs as a mineral in some rocks and Acetone is typically used for cleaning purposes in the laboratory. What does exactly does "earthy" taste like or for that matter who has ever tasted the earth? Have you yourself ever tasted any part of the earth? Do you guys have any friends that have tasted the "earth" and if so, exactly what does the "earth" actually have a taste? How about "Pencil Lead" or "Old Saddle Leather"? Is there anyone who is reading this article who has ever ever actually tasted any of these things and if so I would really like to know, why? Why then do we listen to or even care what these so called wine experts who use these descriptive phrases or words think or believe? Do we simply believe that because they write for a prestigious wine magazine or website that they have ever actually tasted these things themselves? How much of our wine liking is actually taken from or because of what these so called wine experts say they like? Are we as layman even allowed to like a wine simply because we, well, it? Is it even permissible for us to have an opinion of a wine at all or are we locked into believing simply because the so called experts like a particular wine that we therefore must like it or else we don't know what good wine tastes like and our thoughts should be dismissed as "uneducated" or "ignorant"? There are a lot of questions that I think need to be looked at and answered if we are going to determine with sound judgement whether to follow anyone at all and if we do, exactly who we should follow in picking out our wines or who should have that much power over what wine we choose for ourselves. Well then you ask, Desert Wine Guy what good are you? These are all great questions, read on and hopefully you'll find some common sense answers to them.
   Let's begin here with why I wrote this article. I first thought about doing this article when I did my review ( of the 2012 Columbia Crest, Grand Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. I had heard so much about the 2012 Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon that was rated by a so called wine expert in a hugely popular wine magazine at 92 points that I wanted to review the NON H3 first. Every magazine that I would read I would see awesome scores for the H3 and so I figured that I had to see what the NON H3 was all about first. When I saw the particular wine (NON H3) at the store it was around $10 so I figured this was as good a time as any to pick up a bottle. Being what some would label a non- professional I figured why not, I was going to first step out and tell my feelings about the little Brother of the H3 which is the 2012 Columbia Crest, Grand Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. This "little Brother" had a rating of 88 and 90 points in two prestigious wine magazines. After reading my review of the wine you will see that I gave it more than 88 or 90 points because I really liked it. After this review I did perform a review of the H3. I knew after I tasted the wine that I was going to be going against the professionals by stating in my review that the wine was simply so so and that I was not impressed at all. I stepped out because I myself have no reason or motivation to not tell the truth and would never put myself in a position to have to lie to you or anyone anyway. I have too much respect for myself and my fans who might look to me for their next wine. So step out I did and my review was how I felt the wine stood up for it's varietal (in this case Cabernet Sauvignon) which was that it didn't stand up very well at all. Because I also read wine reviews I went into the review thinking that my review would be a slam dunk, easy review and that I would be simply confirming what the so called experts said, I headed to my Loft and began my review. Well, as I said, I have done the review on this wine and I ended up being surprised and very disappointed when I discovered that in my opinion the wine rated a mere 85 points on The Desert Wine Guy point rating scale.  Later after my review I did some further research on the H3 from the so called "regular people" and I discovered that those reviews are rather mixed indeed with a lot saying that the wine was just really average and was overly sweet.
Wine Critic Robert Parker
   So is there anyone that you can follow? I say yes, there is. Hold on now Desert Wine Guy, you say that I am talking out of both sides of my mouth. Do we follow and believe wine reviewers or not? Well let me first explain what I mean with all this and then you can decide for yourself whether to trust or not trust someone who reviews wine. Let's use me as an example here. If I loved a wine as much as I did say for instance the 2011 Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon ( and I justify in detail exactly why I love it, for instance I talk about superb Tannins or the luscious mouth feel or even the way the wine looks in the glass and how the Bouquet impressed and these things are important to you in a wine then you might get a sense of wanting to at least possibly read on further in my review. After my review you might determine that the characteristics of the wine are the same characteristics that you look for in a wine so you might try it simply because I liked it. Now, you go ahead and buy and love the wine, now you could say that you might reasonably follow me at least on that particular varietal. You might say that this is what I do now with the so called professionals. While you are right to an extent, please allow me to go on. You might say that since we agree on what the characteristics that the particular varietal should have O.K self "I am going to look a little further into the wines that this Desert Wine Guy likes in this varietal a little further, lets see what other Cabernet Sauvignons he likes." You might be safe in that thinking because of previous experience you have had where my preferences for that particular varietal match yours. The next time I review a Cabernet Sauvignon you might have a little more faith in yourself possibly liking that wine and be more comfortable that you are going to feel the same way about the wine that I reviewed, whether I liked it or not. You might then with a reasonable amount of certainty either buy or on the other hand not buy a particular wine based on my review. This by the way is one of the reasons that I write as I am not a writer by trade if you haven't been able to tell :) Not meaning to get off track here but I feel the following bit of information is important. I think this is also a good lesson about life here. Do you in general, like something, someone or hold a belief or idea simply because you like the person who told you something or they are popular? There are professionals in other areas such as Dave Matthews, Nicki Minaj or Drew Barrymore to name just a few who have thrown their names on a bottle of wine and because consumers like that particular person in their original field, they automatically assume they will love the wine simply because their favorite actor or actresses put their name is on it. It doesn't matter if that particular person has never even stepped foot in a Vineyard in their life. I would hope that we all think for ourselves and support what we think (most of the time) by having sound reasons why we like a certain product or think a certain way. O.K I'm off my soapbox now. With all this talk about a so called "professional wine reviewer", what is a professional wine taster anyway?
   A professional wine reviewer is someone who gets paid to taste wine. That "gets paid" could come in many forms and could also mean accepting free samples to review (perhaps I am a professional wine reviewer after all). A professional wine reviewer might also be what some might call a Sommelier. A Sommelier is someone who has studied everything there is to know about wine. They have taken tests and have supposedly earned the title. These are so called "experts" in the field of wine who specialize in all aspects of wine service as well as wine pairing. The Sommelier is equal to the Chef De Cuisine when it comes to food. There is also a certification process that must be taken and the basic education for the title can cost anywhere between $800-$4000. There are also different levels of the degree of Sommelier that are available. That sounds simple, right? While these people might be extremely technically more "qualified"to rate wine than I am, we all still find ourselves with the same problem we began with, that problem is that being a Sommelier does not mean that they people have the same taste in wine that you do. There are famous Sommeliers who have been fooled in the past such as the famous Robert Parker ( with whom I have disagreed with many times when it comes to wine.You can also check out this article ( which is entitled "The Legendary Study That Embarrassed Wine Experts Across The Globe" and you will begin to rethink following many of the so called "experts". Here is one last one. This ( is an article I came across where the so called wine experts were fooled (again) BADLY simply in one case by switching bottles.
   Whether you consider me a "professional" wine reviewer or not is up to you and it really doesn't matter whether you do or not but think about this for a minute. What REALLY is (or makes) a "professional" wine reviewer? Honestly folks, your guess is as good as mine. As a wine drinker how does a class on wine tell you me what I like? Let's see now, oh yeah, a wine class, is that where I learn what Acetone, Earth and Saddle Leather taste like? In my opinion, I think a lot of the so called professional wine tasting is by done by people who are already prominent in the wine industry and happened to get lucky enough to get hired (or planted) by the wine industry. I'll just come out and say it guys. The entire wine industry is a business and money talks and (you know what) walks. There I said it. Let me give you a quick example and I want you to think about this for a minute. If BV ( wines pays a prominent wine magazine tons of money to advertise in , do you for a moment think that that magazine would do a review saying that a particular wine is terrible? I think not.
    Here is one last question. Can someone have a regular job like me and yet be a professional wine reviewer or does a professional have to strictly do wine reviews or be in the wine industry? I guess that is actually up to you the individual reader to determine for yourselves. Can someone who works for an actual winery, vineyard or wine selling company really ever be subjective when it comes to reviewing a wine that their company made or is paid to promote? My answer would be, not if he or she wants their job for very long. let me put this into perspective. Let's say that I work for ABC Vineyards and I am writing a review on the Cabernet Sauvignon that my company grew, would I tell you not to buy my wine because it was really bad? Yeah, I think not either.
   So there you have it folks, my opinion on the wine reviewer. What I have been trying to say throughout this article is align yourself with someone who has the same likes and dislikes in wines (or other things) as you do. As a wonderful President once said "trust but verify". Don't follow the crowd (on anything) unless you are an investor of futures in wine. At that point you must go on pedigree, you don't have a choice after all it is called "futures" for a reason. With all this being said I can tell you that I will continue my independent reviewing of wine and the wine industry from an unbiased point of view. As I have said many times I have a full time job that I have worked at for the past 25 years and I do not get paid in any way other than a free sample which I am upfront about) to review a wine. If I should get a free sample to review I will continue, as I have done in the past to inform you, my readers of that. One last thing before I go. I don't follow anyone when it comes to me picking out a wine. I truthfully never really put that much effort into what other wine reviewers think or why they think what they do. What attracts me to a wine......well I think I'll leave that for a future article.

                                                                                                           The Desert Wine Guy

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Desert WIne Guy - Cellar 433 - "Tenacity" Red Blend

   Today we are going to be taking a trip back to the state of Arizona for this review. Arizona you say? Yeah, Arizona. For those of you who have been following me I know that you have read a few reviews that I have done on wines from Arizona so you know how I feel about their extreme temperatures and soil and what I believe these items add to their wines. So, today we will be taking another trip to the state of Arizona and I will be reviewing a non-vintage red blend that the winery, Cellar 433 ( has dubbed "Tenacity". While it has been about 1 year since my last trip to the state of Arizona, when I was there I did pick up a few bottles of their wine. I have been from Sedona to Jerome and everywhere the "Valley Verde Wine Trail" goes. While I do not specifically remember tasting this particular wine when I was in Jerome Arizona I do remember that all of Arizona's Red wines seem to have a really nice Black Pepper note that I absolutely love (think Spanish Tempranillo). Let's go ahead and get started and see what this wine is all about now.
   Lets begin with the Bouquet of this Arizona Red. Holding the wine glass to my nose I was embraced with a wonderfully enjoyable, rich note of Chocolate.....I love it. Having just smelled that one note so far I quickly got the sense of a smooth and not overly aggressive wine. On the heels of the Chocolate is a (completely distinct) note of Baked Cocoa. These two notes as displayed in this wine are very capable of distinguishing themselves from one another superbly and you will note that separation hopefully as I did, with enjoyment appreciation, I sure know that I did. There was also a clear note of a dark and almost past its time "Bing" Cherry that only added to the fact that I absolutely loved the Bouquet of this wine. Yes, the Bouquet was clearly a rather simple one however those few notes that it did have were impressive and more than enough to make me happy.
John McLoughlin
   Moving on now to the pour of the wine. This is where the only disappointment to this wine came from. On the poor the wine was not that impressive and probably one of the lightest reds that I have ever poured, I started to have some concern now as to just how the rest of the wine would be. The wine was slightly darker in the glass but I could still see the bottom of my glass pretty clearly. If you didn't know any better you would be thinking that this wine would end up as "nothing special". Before I go on I'll lay it right out for you, don't be fooled folks!
   On the Palette the wine did indeed have the Black Pepper "bite" (again think Tempranillo) that I love, mentioned above and have begun to expect from Arizona reds. A cherry taste that you can only get from (Bing) Cherries you would buy at the Supermarket is front and center combined with a Black Cherry which gave the wine a slightly darker note to it that is perfect. This wine is not what I would call a "dark" wine in appearance or on the Palette but on the other hand, it certainly is not a light or mellow wine either. This wine in general tips along the lines of a slightly more racier red. This wine also carries with it a sense of incredible smoothness that you would think it wouldn't have due to the moderate Black Pepper note. There aren't any Tannins and no certainly no astringency or acidity to come across
harsh on your Tongue yet your Palette will be busy with the deep"Bing" Cherry, Chocolate and Baked Cocoa that you will pick up in the wine. Although a wine that can be considered slightly "fruit forward due to the Bing & Black Cherry, this is not what I would consider anywhere near even close to an over the top "fruit forward" wine. That does not mean that there is not that sense you will pick up of the wine attempting to lean that way however. My overall sense of the feel of the wine in my mouth was that it is successful in coating it with smoothness and I think that you will notice this. I personally think that the fruit forwardness along with the  "Bing Cherry", Chocolate, Cocoa and the "bite" of Black Pepper puts this wine over the top in my book in reference to a wine that can please a lover of both an ever so slight Red that is bordering on "fruit forwardness" and one that enjoys a moderately fruit forward wine. Do you also have to be a lover of a Red that has a moderately peppery "bite' to it? Yes, I think you do. If all of this sounds as if it is a fairly "simple" wine in reality folks, that's because it really is. This is a simple yet not boring, flavorful Red that I really enjoyed and I think you will as well. This wine sits at an Alcohol percentage of 14.37%, a little high.
   Before I close I feel the need to say something about this wine and (I guess) the entire Arizona wine industry in general. Let me begin here and I don't want anyone to take this as a criticism of the wines that the state of Arizona makes in general. The bottle of this wine didn't say the varietal makeup of the wine and you could find no information concerning it anywhere on the internet. I had to contact Mrs.Brighid McLoughlin of Cellar 433 who was kind enough to E-Mail me back (right away actually) and let me know that the wine is a blend of Tempranillo, Pinotage, Petite Syrah and Syrah. Mrs. McLoughlin also informed me that this wine was a club exclusive and not available to the consumer market. It was explained to me that John (McLoghlin) who is the Winemaker never kept detailed tech notes on these types of wines as they were "more of a playground for his imagination." Well John all I can say is, keep playing Sir. Here is another example of why I feel the wine industry in Arizona needs to step up it's game in marketing. For some unknown reason the winery's in Arizona appear to me to have terrible marketing. Doing some research I have discovered very little coverage of the wines and very little updating of the individual sites themselves. You will find sites concerning the wine industry but they appear to have not been tended to in a while, hopefully this will change. If anyone is interested I am available :) Now, lets go ahead and close this review.
   While I understand that this is a blend of reds and that there is no "varietal standards" for this wine ,I give this wine 90 points - (Excellent Highly recommended, holds to varietal standards) on The Desert Wine Guy rating scale. I thoroughly enjoyed the wine and I thought it held very well to the level of quality that I am use to from Arizona reds. 
                                                                                                              The Desert Wine Guy

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Desert Wine Guy - 2012 Hangtime Chardonnay

      Hello everyone and welcome back for another great wine review. Today I will be discussing the 2012 Hangtime Chardonnay. This wine was cellared as well as bottled and owned by the famous Michael Mondavi. So let's begin by telling you that this is certainly what is referred to as a "new world" version of the Chardonnay varietal. This terminology is due to it's lack of dominate crispness and acidity and its fruit forward notes of tropical fruits. Certainly there a hint, perhaps actually a bit more than a hint of a crispness or acidity which appears on the back end of this wine but for the most part and fairly dominantly there is an overwhelming mouth and Palette of fruit forwardness present. This fruit forwardness  of course isn't a problem for those of you who desire that new world freshness in their Chardonnay. A buttery note in the wine was placed nicely and compliments the moderately sweeter notes. Neither note was over the top and the notes finished nicely and evenly across the Palette. As a side note, I actually drank this wine room temperature as I do all my wines and I think that really brought this wines notes out rather nicely. I think if this wine was chilled it would cut the fruit on the front Palette slightly as coldness has a way of doing. This could either be something that is perceived as nice at times and at other times not so nice, it all depends on what you expect from your Chardonnay. This can wine came be drank when at room temperature and at the same time I can envision this wine being drank slightly chilled while sitting on a nice cushioned chair outside while wearing your favorite ski jacket and watching the stars. WOW, what an imagination huh:). Back to the acidity or crispness for a little bit. This wine can please both the old as well as the new world Chardonnay drinkers if the crispness or acidity was integrated better.  Since the sweeter fruit notes of forwardness are stronger perhaps the acidity would have been better up front to fit that bill. There is also the slight note of Grapefruit that is almost hidden. A super nice Pear is also up front as well. There is no flatness on the Palette or a time where the fruit notes falls off and leave dead space on the Palette either. This white finishes strong and in my book has the perfect name (Hangtime) given to it. These were Chardonnay grapes given more "hangtime" to develop a higher Brix or sugar level in the grapes. Before moving on let me say that when I use the term "fruit forward"  I do not mean simply a sugar note. What I mean is that due to the true notes being fruit, there is sugar that naturally comes along with that fruit. Some would say that the fruit forwardness or sugar note might be a bad thing but in a wine that is fruit forward like this is simply natural and to be expected. This is a moderately soft and pleasant wine that can really scream either Summer or Winter in my book. Here s wine that has the ability to go along with your mind set at the time. Adding to these notes is a slight bit of a Limestone type edge that contributes to the slight acidity and crispness. Summing this wine up now I feel that I have to split the ratings that I give it on The Desert Wine Guy Rating Scale. Let's begin with the first part of the two part split.
   The first split is for the new world Chardonnay lovers. Looking at the notes that I feel this wine presents you have to already know that the wine is a must buy for you. To explain a little further I'll repeat the following. Kiwi, Mango, buttery. These are just to name a few.  The word "Hangtime" should also mean something to you due to the extra time for the Brix level to rise. On a scale of 1-10 in reference to the fruit forwardness level I would place this wine at 6 3/4. On The Desert Wine Guy Rating Scale I would place this wine at 92 points for the new world Chardonnay lover. Now, onto the lovers of "Old World" Chardonnay.
   For you lovers of the old world Chardonnay here is the second part. This wine will not fare nearly as well for you. You guys also can read the notes that I detected in this wine and realize that this wine is not for you. They are not notes that you guys would find appropriate in this varietal. For you folks I place this wine at an 85 (Drinkable, ordinary, non-distinctive, does not hold to varietal standards) on The Desert Wine Guy Rating Scale.
   Having said all this you now have my feelings on this wine. This is a double edged sword and one that is targeted towards a specific audience. For that audience it fits the bill perfectly. For the non targeted audience, you can do much better.
   Now, how did I feel about this wine? Well......this is a wine that I cannot take too seriously. To me a Chardonnay should always a dry and crisp varietal of wine. In reference to this I will now tell you something about yours truly, I love the "Old School" or original in almost anything. To me, being a child of the mid 80s the music of "New Wave" is real music. I guess you could say that I am a traditionalist. While that doesn't mean that I can't find a use for the "new world" wines I try my best to stay away from that in this varietal of wine. I would put this wine at the 85 points rating in my book.

                                                                                                                   The Desert Wine Guy