Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Moving Forward with Forward by Herzog Chenin Blanc

There I was on a Friday morning. Driving to work, singing (rather brilliantly, if I do say so myself) along to my tunes when…..BAM. A lethal piece of construction equipment (I live in Ohio, aka The Land of Orange Barrels) comes sailing toward my little car. It had been lying on the road, halfway in the lane, halfway on the berm, when the vehicle in front of me hit it in just the right way to send it flying towards me.

Forward Chenin Blanc labelThankfully, at the last minute, this thing took a dive under my car and instead of smashing my windshield, proceeded to rip apart an entire tire and wheel well. (I didn’t even know a wheel well was a thing.) I was able to make it to the side of the construction nightmare road safely. I was also able to cross “hear the sound of a tire exploding while you are riding in the car” off my bucket list.

But then I got a little righteously indignant. Who the heck was in charge of cleaning up after themselves on that road? I wouldn't call myself a stellar housekeeper or anything, but this was NOT your run-of-the-mill household clutter. It’s one thing to step on a wayward Lego when you are barefoot. Or to set off the dog’s squeaky toy on your way to a midnight potty run. Or to leave the laundry basket on the stairs and just cherry pick your way through the clothes until the basket’s empty. (ahem) But c’mon. This was a huge thing-y with very large, nasty, metal hooks on its ends. Not your everyday piece of debris. A tarp or a garbage bag I can understand. But this was an epic failure to clean up that cost me an entire day at work, many, many dollars and my faith in my husband’s ability to realize that he should answer the phone at work when I call 6 times in a row (conference call, smonference call….I needed a ride).

How very ironic then, that I am reviewing a wine called “Forward”. Because I definitely wasn't going "forward" without a big old tow truck that day.

Forward by Herzog Chenin Blanc (2014, 13.5%) can be summed up in one word: lovely. The wine is translucent pale gold with a nose of apricot, nectarine and peach. The flavors are full and crisp: flowers, white peach and a touch of minerals. The way it felt in the mouth was wonderful – as if you’re drinking a silky ribbon. If you want a white wine that is slightly sweet, but not at the expense of some lively flavor, you’ll love this Chenin Blanc. I got it as a sample from the California Wine Club.

So with the help of some vino, I have moved forward (get it?) and put the whole exploding tire thing behind me. I must move on, because construction season in Ohio is almost over.

Just in time “for lake effect snow” season.


 The wine was sent to me for sample purposes. The work and the opinions are all my own, as was the repair bill for my car. 

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: I Am The 20%: Pareto Estate's Eighty 20 Red Blend and Chardonnay

"The Pareto Principle, also called the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. This is true in the world of wine, where 80% of wine is consumed by 20% of the people. With Pareto’s Estate, we raise our glasses to those of us that take up the slack of others. 
Cheers to the 20%!"

OK let's just think about the above statement for a second or two. I didn't even know that The Pareto Principle was a thing. I thought it was know....the way the cleaning and laundry chores are divided in my house. I seriously was unaware that it was also known as the law of the vital few and/or the principle of factor sparsity (look it up, I did). So now my household management actually has a scientific-type principle to describe it. "Sucky" was doing just fine for me, but this just sounds so much more official.

And then there is the Pareto Principle as it applies to wine. 80% of wine is consumed by 20% of the people. This is when I started to really get on board with this whole idea of an 80/20 split. I guess it just depends on what you are applying it to. Housework: nope. Dog baths: nope. Wine drinking: YUP.

So I am going to proudly and unabashedly now count myself in the minority of the 20% when it comes to wine. I AM THE 20%. This makes me happy.

Eighty 20 Chardonnay, Pareto's EstatePareto's Estate, the website of which the above quote comes from, gets me. They cheer on the 20% and they even made a line of wines to celebrate us Pareto Principle drinkers. I have recently been introduced to this line, so let's talk about my first two tastings from it. 

Pareto's Eighty 20 Chardonnay (2013, 13.5%, Monterey, CA) comes from the Monterey Appellation of California. It's on the coast in the middle of the state and is an estate grown wine. Which means that they grow (and crush) the grapes and make the wine all by themselves. It's a pretty golden yellow color that has aromas of pear, nutmeg and cinnamon. It tastes of vanilla, pear and yellow apple and finishes off with some wet oak and citrus rind.  It's got a round, full mouth feel to it, which just completes the whole 100% Chardonnay pedigree. This is a really, really good Chardonnay at a really, really good price (I got it on special for under $10!!) If you like your white wine oakey and mellow and full and rich, you'll love this one. 

Eighty 20 Red Blend, Pareto's EstatePareto's Red Blend (2013, 14.5%, Monterey, CA) is a blend of 30% Petite Sirah, 25% Syrah, 19% Petit Verdot, 13% Cinsault, 11% Merlot, 2% Riesling.  (Yes, that says Riesling. I was as surprised as you are.) Same thing for the whole estate grown thing as the Chardonnay. This blend is dark purple in color and has a nose of pepper and black plum. It tastes of plum and mocha with a touch of black pepper. A little airing makes the tannins smooth and zesty - just a hint of a bite of them at the end of it all. Again, another wonderful bargain: under $10 for a solid, tasty red blend. Buy this if you like your reds a little less fruit forward and a bit more toward the spice (not spicy) side of things. 

Pareto's also makes a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Riesling and a Pinot Noir. I will be trying them soon, but I had to pace myself. Because Pareto Principle or not, if I had tried 100% of their wines at once, I'd never finish the review.

Now that I know I am a member of the Winey 20%, I'd like you all to join me there. We have a high standard to keep up here, Winey Friends, but we cannot let the other 80% of the world down. Sip on!


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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Cheers to autumn with Cocobon Red Blend

It's can feel it in the air. The leaves are turning colors, there's a coolness in the air, the colder nights, the dewy mornings. Yup, fall has arrived.

Cocobon red blend wine bottleI've never made any bones about the fact that I'm a weather driven wine sipper. And the thought of fall turns my taste buds to all things red (because orange and brown are not really colors I want to see in my wine glass). It just feels right to be sipping a warm, hearty red when I have a cozy sweatshirt on and my feet are once again ensconced in my warm fuzzy socks. (Yeah, I don't go for the glamor when I get chilly. Said socks are warn and cozy but very fuzzy and rather....old and ratty.)

Ratty socks or not, I found a great welcome to fall wine recently. It's a California red blend from Cocoon Vineyards (2013, 13.5%, CA). It was being sampled in the wine department of a local grocery store and I liked it so much I put a bottle right into my basket, then and there. (Did I mention how much more fun it is to grocery shop if you hit the wine samples first?)

Cocobon's website says that this is "an inspired blend of mélange of Bordeaux-style varietals." Said melange includes Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Petite Sirah. The Zinfandel really comes through here, as the wine starts off with a nose of chocolate and cherry.

I tasted flavors of violet, cherry and mocha. The tannins were nicely behaved in a very smooth finish - they gave me just a slight little pucker flavor to end on a fun little bite.

The words I'd use to describe it: luscious and velvety. And with all that fruit forward flavor and little kick at the end, I've got to call this another red blend winner. I found it for under $10 and have seen it sold online for as low as $7. Dare I tell you to stock up on this one? I dare. Stock away.

I would so totally pair this wine with a fire pit, the comfy sweatshirt and those ratty socks. Throw in a doggie on my lap and some friends and family in the surrounding chairs and you've got what I'd call a perfect autumn evening!

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Teeing off with Weir Chardonnay

Sawmill Creek, Ontario, Canadian wine, Mike Weir
Winey Family pic from one of our
favorite Ontario golf courses,
Sawmill Creek, 2009
I've written before about the wonderful vacations that The Winey Family has taken over the years up to the beach in Canada. Winey Tasting Notes: Two Canadian Unoaked Chardonnays, Eh? And in addition to the water sports we get to partake of up there, there is another sport that goes hand in hand with our Canada trips: golf.

Sawmill Creek, Ontario, Canadian wine, Mike Weir
Winey Family pic from one of our
favorite Ontario golf courses,
Sawmill Creek, 2009
We're lucky that very close to our beach cottage are a number of really nice golf courses. And although I have been on a bit of a break from the sport (spinal surgery will do that to you), and The Winey Daughter would rather play soccer, The Winey Hubby and Son hit the links every chance they get. (This doesn't just apply to our Canada vacation. Those two never, ever, ever pass up the chance to golf. As I write this, it's a lovely sunny autumn Thursday and I'll give you one guess where The Winey Hubby is. Hint: it's not at his desk at work.)

Sawmill Creek, Ontario, Canadian wine, Mike Weir
Winey Family pic from one of our
favorite Ontario golf courses,
Sawmill Creek, 2009
There is a reason I'm talking about golf and Canada here. It's Mike Weir. He is Canadian golfer, Masters champion and more to the point: he has a winery in Ontario. So of course on our most recent visit to the beach, I decided it was time to hit the ball off of the tee, so to speak, and try some of Mike Weir Winery's Unoaked Chardonnay (2014, 12.5%, Niagara Peninsula). This cost $14.95 Canadian, making it a wonderful bargain (about $10 American at the time I bought it).

The first thing I noticed about this Chardonnay was that it was a really pretty, bright clear gold color. It looked so nice with the beach setting. Anyway, the nose on this wine is pure pear. As for the taste, that pear was the first flavor  that came through. It was followed by some golden apple, some toasty vanilla, nutmeg and a tinge of cinnamon. It finished very juicy and tasty. Pure Chardonnay grapes, no wood barrels to interfere.

Mike Weir Winery Unoaked ChardonnayI can best describe this wine as round and full. It falls somewhere between summer and fall - fruity and juicy but with those warm brown spices that give you a hint of the autumn weather to come. It's a great transition wine, if you feel the need to ease yourself away from light whites to more hearty whites as the weather grows cooler.

OK, I'll say it: this wine is hole-in-one! A birdie! Or if you're me, and holes-in-one and birdies are not normally used in conjunction with your golf game (ahem), it's a really good wine. (I may not have been the world's best golfer, but I always had a keen appreciation for the cute outfits and the drink cart.)

Fore! (For some reason, I say that a lot when I golf.)


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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: New Favorite Alert - Eos Estate Zinfandel

So after a busy summer, The Winey Nest is empty once again. The Winey Daughter is safely ensconced in her second year at college. The Winey Son has some new digs in Texas. It's just me, The Winey Hubby and The Winey Dog (more on the dog in the future :)

Eos Estate Zinfandel wine labelI was talking with a friend the other day. She is one year away from her own Empty Nest. And she mentioned that she was pretty unsure about the whole thing. I told her, "It's much worse dreading and anticipating the empty nest than the actual reality of the empty nest." And it's true. The Empty Nest does not stink. Sure, we miss the kids and their friends. And I especially miss our family time. But we have our four-way texting sessions and phone calls and the odd Face Time session. And I just MAY be stalking a few Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. Hey, every new picture is proof of life, right?

There are a few advantages even. I can finish all the laundry in two loads: Darks. Whites. OK, I'm not including towels and bed linens here, but they're so easy I don't count them. Nor do I need to do them as often, because it takes so much longer to get a full load with only two people in the house. We can park our cars in the garage again. Both cars, one garage. Not that I have ever backed out of the garage and into The Winey Hubby's car parked in the driveway, twice, but this is nice, especially when it rains. We can eat in front of the television if we want to. (Breaking a cardinal rule of family dinnertime.)  This means we've been able to see more of the Cleveland Indians' games. Although at times, this is definitely not an advantage. But that is nothing new. The DVR is ours again. All ours.

And so in honor of looking for the sunny side of the nest, I have found a new favorite wine, courtesy of The California Wine Club. (Full disclosure: I get two bottles of their wine every month to review for my work with Moms Who Need Wine. And I normally don't mix my reviews between there and here, but then I realized that when I find an amazing wine from the CWC, I should share it on The Winey Mom, too.) So this post is a bit of a re-write of one of my reviews from there, but I loved the wine so much I just had to.

This wine I speak of is Eos Estate Zinfandel (2012, 14.5%, CA) from Eos Estate Winery in Paso Robles, CA. Eos is very dark red with a nose of chocolate covered cherries. One of my favorite scents of all time.  Every time I sip a Zinfandel like this, the whole varietal moves up higher and higher in my winey esteem.  You'll taste  cherry, dark mocha and a line of sweet chocolate when you sip it. There’s also that Zinfandel spice thing going on – dark green spices and herbs that give it a little extra zing.

Eos Zinfandel is full of everything you want in a Zin – fruit forwards and toasty and ending up with zingy tannins. It's pretty balanced too, for a 14.5% ABV. There's just a hint of warmth at the end of a sip. 


I received this wine for review purposes. The opinions are all my own. The idea for this post was originally written by me and published under my name on Moms Who Need Wine. So I'm kind of just copying myself here because I really liked this wine so much and wanted my Winey Friends to hear about it.

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Two Canadian Unoaked Chardonnays, Eh?

Our view looking south.
OK I couldn't resist the "eh" in the title of this review. And it's meant with absolutely no disrespect at all to our neighbors up north. The Winey Family loves Canada. We have spent many, many happy times up there and this year was no exception.

The Winey Hubby and his family have been going to a small beach in Ontario for a LONG time. Before the Winey Hubby was born, actually. It's that kind of a family institution for them, and this year, we did the math and figured out that the family has owned this little patch of heaven for 95 years. We're gearing up for a big bash for the centennial in 2020, by the way.

Winey Daughter and Dog with our
houses in the background. 
The beach town is called Ipperwash. I don't know why. It just is. And when anyone around here says "the beach" we know just what they are talking about. (This is sort of like when I say "the shore"and everyone knows I am referring to my beloved Jersey shore.) It's located on sands of Lake Huron. Our little compound consists of three buildings that between them, can house 6 families. Or as we like to say, "the cousins," because over the years, as children marry and families grow, we have just started calling each other cousins. One of said cousins can actually figure out all the first, seconds, thirds and removeds.....but my mind can't handle that.
Our view looking north. 

The fact that the beach is in Canada has opened up a whole new world of wines for me over the years, and I decided that it was high time I started to write about some of them. So here we go.

It was so nice and hot up at the beach this year that I decided to sip on some lovely white wines. I love unoaked Chardonnays, and I picked two of them to try first. Boy, were they different.

20 Bees Unoaked Chardonnay (2014, Ontario, 12%) had a cute label. No judging, it was the beach after all. And a very good price, which was $9.95 Canadian, which at the time, translated to about $6.95 American. I would like to add here that such conversion only works on currency. I had a birthday while we were at the beach, and trying to convert my age to Canadian only got me laughed at. Back to the wine: 20 Bees comes from the Diamond Estate Winery over in Niagara-on-the-Lake, one of our all time favorite places to visit, by the way. This wine is best served very, very cold, because 1) It was hot and 2) the flavors really came out the more it chilled. The nose is of faint pear and yellow apples. The flavors were pear, and some very mellow, gold apple. It ended slightly tart green apples and nutmeg. These bees felt round and full in the mouth, too. This was a great unoaked Chardonnay! The grapes really shone on this one, no wood barrels needed here. And yes, you still got that little bite of warm nutmeg spice at the end of it. Well done, bees, well done.

Moving on, also from the Diamond Estates Winery, I tried the $13.95 (Canadian) EastDell Unoaked Chardonnay (2013, Niagara Peninsula, 12.5%). The nose on this wine was ripe pears and some vanilla pudding. The flavors were pear, red apple, nutmeg and it finished off with some sour apple. Would I compare it to 20 Bees? Nope. Because while 20 Bees felt round and full in mouth, EastDell just felt thick and flabby. No sharpness to the taste all....and it was too "cloying" for my taste buds to enjoy.

So while these were two unoaked Chards, they were very very different in taste. The grapes for 20 Bees were from all over Ontario, while the EastDell grapes were from Niagara. The tasting notes for the wines said that the 20 Bees were fermented in stainless steel for 12 days...but the EastDell spent 8 months fermenting. So I can assume that the vineyard location and the length of fermentation both made a big difference to my taste buds here. While one was lively and tasty, the other was just thick and flabby.

I really don't mind when I get a wine I don't least once I get past the whole bummed out thing...because with each wine I don't like, I learn so much more about the ones I do.

If you get the chance, and you are in Ontario, go with the 20 Bees. If you can't visit, learn from my experience that not all unoaked Chardonnays will be to your taste. If you're in a restaurant, ask for a little taste first. If you are in a wine store, check with The Winey Mom first to see if I've tried it (shameless little plug) and if not, talk to the folks who work there. It'll help you choose a zesty unoaked Chard instead of a dud.


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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Winey Tasting Notes: Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc

I seem to be on a Sauvignon Blanc kick these days. It may be the direct result of summer finally arriving here in Cleveland. And the temperature is finally in the 80's instead of the humidity level and/or chance of rain being in the 80's. It seems that these conditions have me reaching for a bottle of cool and crisp white wine time and again. I'm okay with that, by the way.

Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc
From the bottle label, to give you an idea of where that
39th parallel hits.
In my previous review, I talked about Scratchpad Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, which was a very tart, dry Sauvignon Blanc. This review is also about a Sauvignon Blanc, but this one is from California.

It's called Line 39. The "line" refers to the 39th parallel line that runs through California wine country. So now you've had your geography lesson for the day. Carry on.

Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc (2013, 13.9%, Lake County, California) is very pale gold in color. It starts out with a nose of melon and starfruit. It's not the strongest bouquet out there, so don't spend too much time trying to figure it out.
Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc
The taste of the wine is full of key limes, cantaloupe, tangerine and just a tiny hint of honey. It finished with a slightly sour, citrusy flavor. The wine is perfectly layered: the tart, citrus and fruit flavors below with that honeysuckle floating lightly above them.

Very fruit forward, but it has that little hint of sweetness that Scratchpad didn't. That's not to say this is a bad just goes to show you how different two wines of the same varietal can be. While the Scratchpad stayed citrusy and sour, Line 39 hits on the citrus but adds in that little extra layer of flowers. It's not so sweet that it isn't refreshing though, which is a good thing when your taste buds are screaming at you to give them a bit of summer while it's still around.

If you like a white wine that's full of crisp tartness but tinged with some sweet, you'll like Line 39.


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