Posts Tagged ‘good value red wines’

Gaitano D’Auino – Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (red) – 2009

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

I need a wine for the worlds greatest commute – our ferry ride from San Francisco to Sausalito . . . the weather is forecast as cold, wet with wind.  A typical foggy, foggy day on the San Francisco Bay.  No cat feet for San Francisco fog, the local name for one canyon says it all, Hurricane Gulch!

We’re on a hunt, an expedition for just the right thing.  We need  a nice chewy red that will go down easy.  Something that will fight off the foggy, foggy dew!

Eureka!  Just the thing!

A Montepulciano and one from Abruzzo (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo)!  I’m walking thru the wine section and see one of my favorites grapes and from it’s best region.  I’ve never had a bad Montepulciano!  This one I save for a brisk commute on the Sausalito Ferry.  We open and pour around the group – as expected there are smiles throughout!

We don’t even make to Alcatraz passage before it’s gone!  We pour our second round!  It’s just as good as we remember!

Feel free to buy and enjoy!

Cheers!

Gaitano D'Aquino - Montepulciano D'Abruzzo (red)

Round Hill Merlot (red) 2008

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Its a picnic! We’re off to Marin Headlands for a picnic! We’ll watch sailboats flying thru the Golden Gate, the freighters and tankers steaming with cargoes from exotic climes and fishing boats with all those people who have the bumper stickers saying, “I’d rather be fishing”. For the kids we’re bringing kites and a bird guide.

We’ll be up at the picnic tables at Battery Wallace. The view is fantastic but the wind is strong (kids love the kites!) and soaring birds (hawks, seagulls, vultures, etc.) hang in the air currents there – a beautiful sight at a beautiful site!

We know the weather will be chilly so we need a red wine. I decide we should try the 2008 Merlot by Round Hill.

I’m a little suspicious of the Round Hill since they have a prominent logo for “Committed to Sustainability” – many times an indication of bad wine by putting a politically correct label (like “educational” toy).

However, I’m very pleasantly surprised that the contents of the bottle is very drinkable.  Soft, ready to drink at opening, a good aftertaste (what wine people call ‘finish’).  Not a peppery as a Zinfandel but a little warmth.

All in all a good time was had by all (including the seagulls).

Round Hill Merlot (red) 2008

Sutter Home Riesling (white, sweet) 2009

Monday, September 12th, 2011

What a day!  It’s September, the warmest time in San Francisco.

It’s 4:00 o’clock and I’ve got to bring a wine on the ferry for our commute home.  Ive decided on a 2009 Sutter Home Riesling.  I’ve got to decide on the wine by 4:00 because I need to put it in an insulated envelope with some soft blue ice.  I get the envelopes from a shipping company . . . we’re used to seeing the logo when we have chilled white wine.

I bring out the wine.  There are a large number of summer tourists from somewhere in Northern Europe.   They’re all tall, very fit and very blonde.  My wife describes the hard bodied young ladies as “aggressively dressed”.  We decide the term fits.

Slightly Sweet,  with medium flavor (not soft).  Has slight sour aftertaste (finish) which can be nice on a hot day to kill your thirst.

Cheers.

Sutter Home Reisling

Cavit Pinot Grigio (white) – 2009

Friday, September 9th, 2011

We’re going up the Sacramento River to the town of Brentwood.  It’s early morning and we’re driving against the commute.  We’re driving in my convertible with the top down and wearing broad brimmed hats.  We’ve left early since the weather report says the temperature will be over 100 degrees and the sun is very bright.

In the trunk we have a cooler with a bottle of Cavit Pinot Grigio 2009 just waiting for lunch!

Brentwood is famous for the u-pick fruit orchards which my wife LOVES!  In addition, another couple I’ve known for years bought a house up there and we’re going up to visit them after we pick some fruit.  The drive is very scenic and we’re enjoying the day.

We stop and pick some peaches, apricots and nectarines.   The apricots are PERFECT.  The ones on the south side of the trees (the sunny side) have got a little pink blush and are ripe to perfection!  YUM!  We eat too many as we pick.  They must be handled carefully since they are SO ripe!

The nectarines are next.  The trees don’t have as much fruit but they are sweet and can be split open and eaten like a little in halves . . . like a donut (only healthier).

Peaches are last . . . finding them is HARD!  They’ve been picked over but the ones remaining are super ripe . . . eat now and they’re great.

We arrive at my buddies’ and they’re out on the boat dock fixing the railing.  The day is hot and we pitch in and get that part done.  My wife goes to the kitchen, cuts up some fruit and brings some glasses and a cork screw.

Cavit Pinot Grigio – on a hot day this refreshes and cools us.

We fire up the grill and cook some meat and corn.  They have a salad all ready.  We relax away the afternoon.

We are doing GREAT!

Note:  Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same wine (Italian and French).  Mildly tart – think grapefruit that will relax and stimulate conversation.

Serve chilled right after opening.

Cheers!  Willy

Cavit Pinot Grigio

Black Oak Shiraz / Syrah (red) – 2006

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

It’s the end of summer and Labor Day is upon us here is San Francisco.  The weather matches Mark Twain’s description . . . “The Coldest Winter I ever had was a Summer in San Francisco!”.

My sister is flying in from Sun Valley, Idaho and is meeting  with some of her buddies while I finish the work day.  She flies in and comes to my office.

My sister is very elegant.  She  has the perfect posture and carriage from her training as a dancer.  Her perfectly quaffed  blond hair is always paired with the most stylish of wide brimmed hats.  She lives and works in Sun Valley where fashion is important and the sun can be brutal . . . and she stands out for being chic and a vision of perfection, including her signature hats!

We park her bags under my desk and off she goes to her meetings.    She’s really good at mixing work and friendship . . . her friends are also the people she does business with.  It makes her life so much fun to mix the two up – friends and co-workers!

When 5 o’clock rolls around she’s back and we head off for the ferry.  My sister is FREEZING!  She digs out a Sun Valley summer jacket from her bag and she’s STILL cold.  I know just the cure . . . the nice red wine for the commute home.

I’ve packed a regular ferry wine, Black Oak Shiraz / Syrah (red) – 2006.  NOTE:  Shiraz and Syrah are different names for the same grape.

We’ve already decided that rather than deal with the Golden Gate Bridge at rush hour we’ll just take the ferry to Sausalito and my wife has agreed to pick us up in Sausalito.

We get on the boat and the ferry crew flirts with my sister outrageously . . . she obviously enjoys the attention.  We go up to the top deck and meet my regular commute party gang.  We open the bottle and share.  It’s a nice soft wine and it is shared out among the gang.  My sister becomes the center of attention and charms everyone!

Before we know it we’re in Sausalito and everyone is sad to have the ride come to an end.

A very successful commute party indeed!

Black Oak Shiraz / Syrah (red) 2006

Alandra Red – Blend, non-vintage – Pot Luck wine!

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

Party, party , party!  We’re off to a pot luck party!  One of my wife’s buddies is THE pot luck party animal!  She does one a month and they’re FUN!  The secrets to having a good experience are

  • Have a ‘spark plug’ person who loves to be social (our buddy)
  • Bring something you like and present it well

Our assignments at this back yard barbeque are a fruit salad (my wife) and a bottle of wine (me).

We know that these will sit outside so must be temperature safe.

We picked up a 2 gallon glass punch bowl that’s perfectly cylindrical at a garage sale.  My wife slices a fruit without a core (kiwi, orange, etc.) and stacks them around the edge as she fills the bowl with regular fruit salad.  This presents very well.

My assignment is the wine.   I decide on Alandra Red, one of the under priced Portuguese red wines.  Perfect for the back yard event.

A nice soft red, ready to drink but improves after breathing for 10 minutes. One serves the wine at room temperature.  Can keep a while (year or 2) but no improvement with age.

We arrive at party and get a big hug from my wife’s buddy, the music is going and we dance, dance, dance!  The wine loosens every one up and the fruit salad is SO refreshing when we get heated up!

Great fun was had by all!

Alandra Red

How to pick a bottle of value wine!

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

There are times I walk into a store and need a bottle for something – a party, a work function, or maybe just for myself.  When traveling it can particularly difficult to find a good wine, many times I don’t speak the language enough to even read the label!

Most markets and stores have 100’s (say 300) wines.  Often the clerks’ only skills are limited to using a box cutter and a bar code reader.

QUESTION:  How can  you be reasonably sure that a wine is decent?

ANSWER:

You can pick a good wine in under 3 minutes . . . even if everything is in a language you don’t speak!

Look for 3 things:

1.) Price!  Why beat around the bush, this is IMPORTANT!  Scan the selves, look for the cheapest wine and add a couple of bucks to set the range. If you want to go higher end so you don’t look cheap, double the number!

CONGRATULATIONS, you eliminated 90% of store’s selection!  That leaves~ 30 wines of 300 to choose from.

2.) Next – heavy or light? – Heavy alcohol is 12%+ and light is 11% or less.  If it’s cold or a young crowd go heavy, if it’s warm or older crowd go light.  We’re now down to say 20 bottles (some will fall in the middle).

3.) “It Factor” – Now we’re down to the last choice.  Look at the BACK of bottle.  Is there an essay on the wine (maybe a picture of wine maker?)  GREAT! The people making are proud of their product!  Usually any of these is good.

Put them all in the cart, eyeball them and pick the one that strikes your fancy!

Open & Enjoy!

========>>> SHORTCUT! Look at people’s shopping carts, if you see several people with the same wine – that’s likely a good wine!

Benefactor Cellars – Cabernet Sauvignon (red) – 2010

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

PARTY TIME!  We’re commuting on the ferry boat from San Francisco to Sausalito, THE PARTY BOAT! We have a 30 minute ride from start to finish. As we always do we have a nice wine that can go from corked to empty and is good. The Benefactor Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon certainly meets this requirement.  We’re enjoying the ride when suddenly we slow down . . . there’s a HUGE container ship in our way.  We do a little loop-de-loop and proceed.  This is now summer and with all the tourists the boat is behind schedule and I know the captain and crew want to make up time and this is NOT helping.

We start to enter Richardson Bay, the ‘slow down’ buoy, and then we do another loop-de-loop.  Is it a race?  We ask the ever helpful crew who say there’s a problem at the dock.  Another ferry has broken the lines and can’t get away from the dock.  We circle around and around.  Eventually we make to the dock.  Even then we have to wait while the crew jury rigs a set of lines allow the passengers to disembark and board.

We should have brought 2 more bottles!

For under $5 a bottle we have a wine that is ready to drink right after you pop the cork and is fun.

Benefactor Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (red)