Wine Of The Week


“When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore” – Dean Martin

Santa Margherita Chianti Classico 2006My new Italian love. Sophistication starts immediately with a gorgeous bottle that looks older than it is, like you might have to blow a bit of dust off the label. Deep reds and gold hues give  overt impressions of good taste and class. Inside, the contents are just as elegant. Medium bodied wine with a smoky, structured backbone. It was absolutely delicious with the papparadelle from La Vista that I picked up for dinner that night.  It suited the hearty mushroom ragout and goat cheese perfectly. I beheld rich aromas and flavors of coffee and tart plums with a chocolate, caramel and toffee aftertaste. It was a stunning combination. Well balanced and smooth, it was extremely easy to drink. I found this new favorite for about $23 and it gave me more than enough reasons to seek it out again. I highly recommend this gorgeous wine. It obviously works with Italian food but would be just as lovely for a cozy evening curled up on the couch with your own amore (ok so I’m not Italian…). 

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2 Brothers & A Blackout

I think this might well be one of those wines destined to always be surrounded by a story. Reading on the bottle about how these two brothers came together to create a tribute to their mother and raise money to fight the Big Tattoo Reddisease that took her life is one of the reasons I bought this wine in the first place. Well, that and the fact that this looked like a wine that didn’t play around and after the day I’d had, I didn’t need any wimpy wine. Big Tattoo Red from Chile is a 50/50 blend of cabernet sauvignon and syrah, promising a glass filled with some substance.

So I buy the wine. I go home and decide that I’m actually so tense from the day that I need a hot bath (a very rare occasion indeed for me to actually sit still long enough to just sit in a bathtub). I pop the cork (actually I twist the cap but that doesn’t sound as dramatic), pour a glass while the water is running and immediately a delicious aroma fills the air. Now I’m getting excited. Should I get some candles to make it even more relaxing? No, I don’t feel like finding any, I thought. I step into the bath that I accidentally made so hot it felt like it was almost boiling… oops. I finally settle in and take a sip of my wine. Wow. Just what I needed! Ripe berry flavors fill my mouth and I’ve decided I like this wine. A lot.  

Hold that thought… PITCH BLACK. That’s right. My power goes out. I should have lit the damn candles! First I go into panic mode as I am, as previously stated, in the bathtub. I can’t see a thing and my first concern is how to scramble out of the slippery tub (I am now completely aware of the danger of bath oils) without spilling my precious wine and soaking my Blackberry. I tried to think of where all of those decorative candles I had stashed randomly around the house were and set out on my wild goose chase. I might as well have had my eyes closed. Now where are my matches?? Finally I find some supplies and decide that the universe must be trying to tell me something. I’m going to finish my bath and try to relax without any distractions (including light… so overrated) and figure this mess out later. So I lit a few candles and settled back into my steaming hot bath with my lovely glass of wine… oh yeah, I also happened to pick up the bottle whilst on my hunt for candles. I mean, who knew how long I would be in there?

Honestly, I’m glad it happened. It forced me to sit back and actually take a deep breath and fully accomplish what I had set out to do… unwind. It allowed me to clear my mind from the day’s stresses and discover a beautiful wine created for a beautiful reason. It was rich and flavorful and I thought it tasted just like fresh blackberries. A bit tart in the beginning, it opened up and relaxed, softening as it had time to breathe; not unlike myself that night. I would suggest this wine to anyone who is looking for a bold red wine with a lot of personality and style. It was complex and well structured and a great value at only $10. Big Tattoo Red gets a BIG recommendation from me. Bottoms up! 

This Wine Was Flirting With Me… (And I Really Liked It)

Upon first sip, this wine and I were in love… or maybe it was lust. We hadn’t really gotten to know each other yet. It was sexy and sophisticated but still flirty and fun. This is not a wine that takes itself too seriously. It is incredibly smooth and went down (almost too) easily. It made me want to put on my highest pair of black and red Christian Louboutins and go do something especially fabulous, preferably something resembling a hot date. Alas, I was just sitting alone in my boudoir (it’s a French wine so I can say that) thinking of how I would write about this seductive little number. I just kept thinking about how this wine had really grabbed my attention. My lack of reviews lately has definitely not been for my lack of research but just my lack of excitement about anything I’ve recently tried. Nothing has really made me perk up and pay attention. The mystery in this bottle will keep you interested all the way through to the end. It evolves and grows with each sip. I kept putting my nose to the glass to breathe in the sultry aroma. While it did have the standard black cherry notes, there was something floral there that I don’t know exactly how to describe except to tell you what I saw when I closed my eyes. I kept picturing dark exotic orchids and plum colored roses swirling together. It had more body and sass than any pinot noir I’ve had in a long time. It was a definite surprise, especially for the price. I found this at Kroger for around $11. That’s a steal! Please take my advice on this one and put Hob Nob Pinot Noir on your shopping list. This is one way to bring a little romance and spice into an otherwise ordinary evening at home. Who couldn’t use that?

Gorgeous Aussie Shiraz

I will definitely buy this wine again. For $11.99 (at Fountainview Liquors in Houston), this wine is an excellent value. It was smooth and easy going but definitely meant business. The deep and dark liquid definitely provided some purple lips but they were worth every sip. Those nearest and dearest to me affectionately refer to this as “Mandee Mouth”. This big-bodied beauty from South Australia’s McLaren Vale was heavily laden with flavors of smoky cedar and blue and black fruit which then led to a rich chocolate finish. We drank this wine after dinner with a warm dark chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. It was an ideal match. One bite followed by one sip. It was absolutely delicious. This wine tastes much more expensive than it is. It was awarded 91 points by Robert Parker and deserves it. It’s sophisticated but still has fun. The quirky art on the label is an example of this. The 2006 vintage will be released with six different labels, starting with the Ms. Strong Arms, which was on the bottle I selected. Strong Arms is produced by R Wines. You can find out more about this and other Aussie wines at the Grateful Palate Imports website. I highly recommend trying this one… I think you’ll be glad you did.

I’ll Have Mine On The Rocks

Wine on the rocks? What did you say? That’s right people. Wine on the rocks. I had my first Tincho during my recent trip to Fredericksburg. We visited one of the coolest stores/wine bars I’ve ever been to called House.Wine. You walk into an amazing furniture store and in the back is an awesome wine bar and lounge. Imagine lots of cozy and chic leather pieces with a plasma big screen playing old Humphrey Bogart movies on the back wall. I could have stayed there all day. We walk in and meet Jennifer who coincidentally used to live right here in Houston (and even more coincidentally right across the street from my current house). She gave us the grand tour and told us all about the store and said that we must try a Tincho. It was their most popular cocktail and all the rage in Argentina. A voice pipes up from a couple sitting at the bar assuring us that it is delicious. The best part, she says, is that you can take your drinks to go in Fredericksburg and walk down the street with them. While that was indeed fantastic, the best part of the Tincho was the drink itself.

What exactly is a Tincho? This deliciously refreshing cocktail is shockingly simple. Introduced by an Argentine wine maker, this little number is apparently the most popular happy hour cocktail in Buenos Aires. The wine is called New Age White (there is also a New Age Rosé) which is a slightly effervescent blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia. The back of the label has a picture on it so when the bottle is turned around you see a painting of a woman. This chilled wine is poured over ice and finished off with a squeeze of fresh lemon. The alcohol content in this wine is only 9% so it doesn’t sneak up on you quite as quickly as some other wines might. The bartender told us they had tried to make this with other wines but it was never the same. This was the only wine it seemed to work with. This was seriously one of the most refreshing drinks I have ever had the pleasure to imbibe. This would be a great cocktail to serve guests at a summer party. It sure helps beat the heat… especially Houston heat which I believe is in a class all its own. I have checked online and Spec’s appears to carry New Age White so if you’re looking for a bottle I would check there first. I highly recommend trying this one at home! Salud!

Silly Name… Serious Wine

Screw Kappa Napa

I used to see this wine on the shelves at the grocery store and crack up laughing. I thought the name of it, Screw Kappa Napa, was so funny that it couldn’t possibly be anything actually drinkable. It wasn’t until one day when I was playing around on the Sebastiani website that I realized that this silly sounding wine was actually one of theirs… Sebastiani has a division called Three Loose Screws and under that label they have several wines, one being the Screw Kappa Napa. Once I realized that this wine did in fact come from a reputable place my curiosity got the best of me and I bought my first bottle of SKN Cabernet Sauvignon. Lo and behold the wine was great! It’s somewhat similar to its cousin (see previous post) the Sebastiani Cabernet but a little less aggressive. The regular Sebastiani Cab is one I go to when I’m looking for something serious… a big, bold wine that doesn’t mess around. The SKN has just as much to offer but is a little bit more mellow. It offers the same smoky tobacco aromas and is dark ruby in color. It tastes of blackberries and black pepper. This would be a great wine to enjoy with a steak dinner but also gets the job done as an after work cocktail! So don’t let the funny name throw you… this wine means business.

Sweet Sweet Summertime

Masi Masianco Pinot Grigio

So maybe this wine isn’t so sweet but it sure does remind me of Summer. Thanks to Kaleb at Cork Café for introducing me to this lovely little Italian treat. While I have lately come to enjoy the lighter whites, I took to this one even more than usual. I think it’s because it was not what I expected. I believe the little twist comes from the blend of the pinot grigio grapes with verduzzo grapes (25% worth). So while you are still getting the classic white fruits of the pinot grigio you also get the pleasant surprise of almond and pineapple flavors along with a little bit of creaminess brought in by the verduzzo. The bright acidity is balanced out by just a hint of brown sugar sweetness that lingers on the tongue. I felt like this wine had more structure than most pinot grigios I have tried. If you are looking for a refreshing Summer staple this wine definitely fits the bill. It would be a great accompaniment with many foods as well. I believe you should be able to find a bottle for around $15 in stores. Salute! 

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