Posts Tagged ‘5 Cent Sale’

Bringing the Wine. Calling the Bluff.

July 25, 2011

At the end of a recent post, I found this comment…

“Dave Thevegetarian Says:
July 23, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Reply   edit

If I would have known my meal would be featured on Stay Rad, I would have picked more handsome looking menu.  I demand you come back soon for another night of vegetarian goodness.  Don’t blow this by not bringing more wine.

Thanks,

Dave Thevegetarian

PS – Seriously.  Bring more wine.  I’m running low.”

Later that day, Dave texted a picture of grilled halloumi to me, via my wife (I don’t own a cell phone), with the message, “Come on over… and bring the wine.”

Never having been one to back down from a challenge, I yanked two random (yet related) bottles of wine from the rack, grabbed Kara by the hand, jumped in the car, and shouted, “It’s on!”

Kara began to shake her head.  “Again?!?!”

Once we arrived at the House of Thevegetarian, I reached into my fanny pack to see which wines I had picked…

A Cabernet Sauvignon/Syrah and a Syrah. Who'd a thunk it?

Since there was no halloumi left, we jumped right into the wine.

First up…

Montgras 2009 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon - Syrah

Here’s the thing about the Montgras 2009 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon – Syrah

I first started following this Chilean blend a few months back when I saw that Jay Miller of the Wine Advocate gave this wine a 90.  When I saw that it was $9.99 at BevMo, I picked up a bottle and really liked it.  The next week, BevMo started their 5 Cent Sale.  I was stoked to see that it was on the list of 5 cent wines, until I saw that they jacked up the price of it to 17 dollars!  Since I liked the wine, I still decided to pick it up with a savings of $1.50 per bottle (when you buy two).  What’s crazy is that now that the 5 Cent Sale is over, BevMo lists the regular price of the wine at 17 dollars, but sells it for $11.38 with your BevMo Club Card.  Meanwhile, Wine Library lists the regular price as $12.98, but sells it for $9.99.  If I lived in New Jersey, or if I had a free shipping coupon, I’d hit up the Wine Library for this one.

Aside from the weird pricing thing with the Montgras, there is also a question about the blend.  I could have sworn that when we checked the back of the label, it said it was 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Syrah.  Jay Miller refers to it as a 50/50 blend, as do all of the websites that quote Jay Miller’s rating.  The Montgras website says it’s 60% Cab and 40% Syrah, so I should go with that, but remind me to have Dave check his recycling bin.  As Tom Cruise once said to Jack Nicholson, “I want the truth!”

Now remember… I’ve had this wine before, but have never scored it.

Here’s the breakdown…

Color: Reddish purple.

Nose: Chalk (I love chalk!).  Plum.  Raspberry.  Tobacco.  I really loved the bouquet.

Taste: There is an instant BIG plum attack, followed by tobacco and green bell pepper.  The one drawback was the tannins.  They were HARSH!  I love mine big and round.  Not harsh.  I made a note that it would probably be best served after some decanting or cellaring for a year or two.

Score: I was surprised by the Montgras.  Maybe it’s bottle variation.  Maybe I’ve become a harsher critic.  I just remember liking this wine a whole lot more a few months back.  The first time around, I would have said this wine lived up to the hype… But this time, I was kind of disappointed.  Don’t get me wrong.  The wine has a beautiful nose, and the balance of fruit and vegetal flavors is interesting.  The problem is those harsh tannins.  I just can’t get over it.  At 86 points I cannot justify paying 12 bucks for it.

Up next…

Kendall-Jackson 2006 Syrah. Crappy tasting room. Crappy cork. Coincidence?

Dude!

You know how I feel about the Kendall-Jackson tasting room by the Healdsburg Plaza.

You don’t!

Oh man…

Okay…

In short, it sucks.

If you want the full story, click here.

When I pulled out the 2006 Kendall-Jackson Syrah, Dave was all, “I thought you hated Kendall-Jackson.”

“Their tasting room is for the birds, but… I already had this Syrah.  We may as well try it.”

Here’s what I thought…

Color: Reddish purple.  Much like the Montgras.

Nose: Chalk (mmmmmmmm).  Plum.  Tomato.  Nice!

Taste: A very nice combination of dark fruit, chocolate, and bell pepper.  The tannins are very soft and round.  Good finish.

Score: Believe me, I really wanted to hate this wine.  I really did.  There was just one problem.  The wine was good.  You cannot deny how delicious this thing is.  I’m giving the wine an 87.  The Kendall-Jackson website says current vintage of the wine is $16, but I’m pretty sure I got it for around $12 at Safeway.  If you are in a pinch, and looking for a nice Syrah, you may want to give the Kendall-Jackson a shot.

The Thevegetarians had opened up some nice wines as well.  I really liked their wines, but I promised not to score them.

I can respect their wishes, but…

They did give us a tomato from their garden before we left…

Tomato del Vegetarian

Look… I said I wouldn’t score the wine, but I didn’t make any promises about tomatoes.

Lucky for me, I just found a ripe tomato in my back yard this morning…

A Rad Tomato

So I decided to do a little head-to-head tomato challenge today…

Who will win? Who gets cut?

Tomato del Vegetarian:

Looks: A light brick-red color.  This tomato was the bigger of the two.  It was about the size of a racquet ball.  There was a low flesh/seed ratio with lots of juice-filled seed-pocket space.

Bite: The membrane was a little bit chewy, but not unforgivably so.

Flavor: Sweet, but with a green sensibility.

Score: This tomato was very nice. Considering his inability to build a succesful fantasy baseball team, I was surprised that Dave was able to produce such a good tomato.  This tomato would taste great sliced up on a turkey sandwich.  I give it two wedges and a stem.

Not bad.

A Rad Tomato:

Looks: A much darker red.  Let’s call it ruby.  My tomato was about the size of a large ping-pong ball.  With a much higher flesh/seed ratio, this tomato had much smaller seed pockets and a meatier flesh.

Bite: There was a nice snap to the membrane, and the flesh was the perfect blend of meaty and juicy.

Flavor: Sweet and dark tomato flavor.  Much sweeter than the first one.  It had almost a salsa-esque flavor to it.

Score: With these two tomatoes, it’s all about preference.  I think the sweetness and texture allows this tomato to stand on its own.  I’d love to have this one quartered with a plate of charcuterie.  I give it three solid wedges.

The winner!

It looks like when it comes to tomatoes, the Rad ones always come out on top…

The cream always rises...

And just so you know I didn’t pre-plan my victory, I took this picture in the off-chance that Dave’s tomato would have won…

In Dave's dreams...

Stay Rad,

Jeff

Advertisements

When the wife’s away, I drink her wine. Go Giants!

July 15, 2011

So…

Tonight, my wife went out to dinner with a few of her sorority friends from San Jose State.  I was invited, but it just seems more like a “girls night” type of thing.  I decided to skip it.

Tomorrow, she’s going to Napa with some other friends.  Again… it’s a girl thing, so I’m out.  Don’t trip, though.  Come Sunday, Kara and I will be heading up to Healdsburg for a few days in celebration of our first wedding anniversary.  Believe me… I will have my wine time.  I will have my food time.  I will have my Kara time.

There are three things I must do when Kara is away.

1)  I must eat greasy food.

2)  I must watch tv that she rather would not.

3)  I must open up her wine and have a taste.

So, earlier I made myself a greasy plate of red, white, and blue potato hash (She took the camera with her, so you’ll have to trust that it looked delicious).  Right now, I’m watching the Giants beating the Padres 2 to 0.  And here’s the wine…

Redtree 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. When the wife takes the camera, I steal pictures from the interweb.

Kara decided to pick up the Redtree 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon at the BevMo 5 Cent Sale.  Cecchetti Wine Company, the producer of this California red wine, gives a suggested retail price of $8 a bottle.  BevMo is selling it for $10 during the 5 Cent Sale.  My guess is that you would normally be able to get the wine for 6 or 7 bucks (Let’s all check BevMo.com after the sale is over).

Wilfred Wong (the resident wine taster for BevMo) gave the 08 vintage of this wine 88 points.  The Wine Enthusiast gives the current vintage an 85, calling it “A great wine to buy by the case for a house red.”  The wine maker pitches this screw-top cab as being both fruit-forward and food-friendly (They are also, apparently, fans of alliteration).

On the real, though… We both know you’re reading this to know how I feel about it…

Color:  Rose bush red.  It is light in color.  I can see my fingers through the wine.

Nose:  Chalk dust (I do love chalk!), orange peel, cocoa, and a little bit of tomato.  Not bad at all.

Taste:  There is some fruit at the beginning, but not what you’d expect.  It tastes a little like a cranberry, orange, and lime zest cocktail.  There is some nice acidity that would go nice with pasta, pizza, and pistachios (I can do it too, Redtree).  The only drawback with this wine is that it is extremely thin.  There is not much of a backbone at all.  I would drink it now if I were to buy it again…  I mean… If Kara buys it again.

Score:  83.  Pitched as a value red table wine, I can’t see the value in spending any more that $6 a bottle for it.  I’ve paid less for better (L’Authentique anyone?).  Again… It’s not bad.  It just ain’t that great either.

Well, look what happened…

I start writing, and the Giants extend their lead to 4 – 1.  I should do this more often.

Did I mention that the wife will be away tomorrow?

Stay Rad,

Jeff

The House of Thevegetarian: A Bordeaux Vertical w/ Enough Food to Make a Man Grow Horizontally.

July 10, 2011

Remember when I asked you to pick which wine I should drink?

Fine then!  Go here to refresh your memory.

One of the wines I featured was this guy…

Chateau Ballan-Larquette 2006 Bordeaux

At the end of the post, this guy (the winemaker for Chateau Ballan-Larquette) asked me to let him know what I thought about it.

Well…

The other day at BevMo, I was checking out the wines for the 5 Cent Sale (again… a total scam), and I found that they had the 2007 and 2009 vintages of the exact same wine I already had.  I decided right then that I had to purchase those other vintages and do a vertical tasting.

The problem is, 3 bottles of wine is just too much for one man to drink alone (1 bottle is too much).  So I needed to make an event out of it.

That’s where the Thevegetarians come in.

Dave Thevegetarian has been my best friend ever since we were in third grade.  Third grade, man!  If you want to figure out how long we’ve been friends, take the age that you are supposed to be when you’re in third grade (I’m too lazy to ask my Kara.  She teaches third grade.) and subtract that from 33.  That’s about how many years we’ve known each other, or something.

Dave and his wife, Kara Thevegetarian, both happen to be vegetarians, coincidentally.  They love throwing dinner parties.  I would invite the Thevegetarians over for dinner at my house more often, but I doubt they would eat my Blue Cheese Burgers.  They had us over for dinner last Friday.

“You bring the wine,” Dave told me, “and I’ll make some dope food for you, home boy.”  In spite of Dave Thevegetarian’s odd choice of words, I pulled my three bottles from the old wine fridge along with a little bubbly, grabbed Kara by the hand, and headed over to the House of Thevegetarian.

“It’s on!” I shouted.

“Oh brother!” Kara responded.

We arrived at 6:30 pm to a table loaded with vegetarian hors d’oeuvres and a cork screw.  I opened up the three bottles of Chateau Ballan-Larquette and arranged them thusly…

Chateau Ballan-Larquette 2006, 2007, 2009, and vegetarian goodness.

While waiting for the wine to breathe a little, Kara Thevegetarian poured us each a glass of this…

Clos La Chance 2009 Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc. Why it was kept in the vegetable crisper is beyond me.

I’ve always been a fan of Clos La Chance.  So much so, that KaraIsRad and I were married there.

See! I told you!

The Clos La Chance 2009 Central Coast Sauvignon Blanc is a grassy lemon/lime machine.  The perfect aperitif on a hot summer day.  I’m not giving you a score for this one, ’cause I didn’t take any notes on it.  Let me just say that I recommend it.

On to the vertical tasting…

The Cateau Ballan-Larquette is a “value” Bordeaux.  The list price for this one is $19.99.  At BevMo, you will pay that much for it during the 5 Cent Sale, but when it’s not on “sale” you should be able to get it for about 15 bucks.  This wine is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc.  It spends 12 to 18 months in steel and cement tanks.

Up first…

2006

Color:  Ruby red with a little rust.

Nose:  Chalk (I love chalk), Cola, Green Bell Pepper.

Taste:  This wine is GREEN!  Bell peppers for days!  There is also a spicy black pepper component.  Good acidity.  There is a little bit of bacon fat in this one which really brings the whole thing together.

Score:  A solid 88.  Solid!

How about some food?

Roasted Asparagus Soup by Dave Thevegetarian.

Up next…

2007

Color: Same ruby color as the first.  Maybe a little darker.

Nose:  Bright Cherry.  A little wood shop action too (Strange, since to my knowledge this wine is not oaked).

Taste:  Very green with some SHARP tannins.  Sour Cherry.  Acid.  A little rubbery bike tire thing.

Score:  I originally gave this one an 87, but after the tasting was completed I gave it a retaste.  It just doesn’t hold up to the other two wines.  I now give it an 86-.

Note:  I bought this wine two weeks ago at the 5 Cent Sale.  All of the vintages at Bev Mo were 2009, but I found this one tucked in the bin.  At Bev Mo, they display their wines upright at room temperature.  There is a strong possibility that this bottle was sitting around the store for two years before I bought it.  Not being stored properly, this bottle may not represent the 2007 vintage properly.  Two questions:  A) Have any of you tried the 2007 Ch. Ballan-Larquette and have notes to share?  B) Would any of you ever buy an odd-vintaged wine that was not stored properly?

What?  You want more food?  Okay…

Stuffed Zucchini Crumble. It tasted WAY better than it looks.

Alright.  More wine…

2009

Color:  Same as the rest.

Nose:  Blueberry.  Cocoa.  Chalk (I love chalk).  I’m looking at my notes from Friday.  It says “DOPE!”

Taste:  Bell Pepper.  There is this sweet lacquered wood taste to it.  See that table in the picture above.  Imagine taking a bite out of that, but in a good way.  There is also a cranberry and white pepper component.

Score:  The 09 was my favorite.  It edged out the 06 because it was a little more complex.  Give it an 89+.

For fun, I also had the other folks rank the wines before I revealed my scores.  Here’s what they said…

KaraIsRad: She liked the 07 the best.  It was followed closely by the 09 which barely edged out the 06.

Kara Thevegetarian: She also thought the 07 was the best, but she liked the 06 better than the 09.

Dave Thevegetarian:  He was very much in my camp, scoring the 09 as the top wine (followed by the 06 and 07).

The takeaway for me was that this is a wine that can be consumed young.  If you are going to hold it for a while (I had mine for 3 years), make sure that you store it properly.  Put it in a cool place if you do not have a wine fridge, and keep them on their sides.  Decanting for 15 minutes to a half and hour is a good idea.  The 07 did start tasting off after a few hours, but again… I think it was doomed from the start.  I am looking forward to tasting more wines from Ch. Ballan-Larquette.

What?  MORE FOOD?!?!?

Baked ziti of smoked mozzarella. Like a circus, this dish was "in tents"!

After the business of the night was done with, we had a really fun time hanging out.  We even had a dance off.

Here is what my camera saw…

Sparkling white wine paired with sparkling bon fire.

Emile's California Champagne by Guglielmo.

Croatian Fig Brandy. Yikes!

Good times, but now I’m hungry…

Dave called my bluff and brought me some fruit. What a sweetheart.

Stay Rad,

Jeff

This wine makes me want food… Now!

June 12, 2011

Setting the mood: I have this tempranillo decanting in two huge wine glasses. The candle is for show. It will not be lit.

There are a few advantages to having summers off.  One such advantage is having a ridiculous amount of time to kill.

The other day, I spent almost two hours at the Gilroy BevMo just looking at wine.  Scoping the labels.  Reading the blurbs.  Scouting for deals.

A “deal” is NOT the same as a “sale”.

They are having their 5 cent sale right now.  It’s a scam that will be discussed on another day.

By deal, I’m talking about value.  A Rad wine at an equally Rad (if not Radder) price.  With so much time on my hands, I found that the best deals (on paper) were in the Spain, Chile, and Argentina sections.  I came across hella wines that were highly rated by the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (Not Wilfred Wong!  Again… will discuss on another day) that were in the 10 to 20 dollar range.

From that BevMo adventure, I ended up buying 3 bottles of wine.  Of the bottles, the one that I am the most excited to taste is this bad boy…

The Mas Que Vinos 2007 Ercavio Tempranillo Roble cost me $10.99 and was given a 90+ rating by Robert Parker.  Now, Gary Vaynerchuk would tell me to trust my own palate, but I must say that my palate usually agrees with that of Robert Parker.  For 11 bucks, why not try it?

Now, it’s time to taste…

Mas Que Vinos Ercavio Tempranillo Roble 2007

Those smudges on the label are not supposed to be there. I'm that messy.

Color:  This wine is a DARK ruby.  There is a not quite rusty rose color along the outer edge of the glass.

Nose:  One sniff of this tempranillo filled my mouth with cocoa powder.  You know how you’ll be opening a packet of instant cocoa and a cloud of powder wafts up to your nose?  THAT kind of cocoa powder.  The chalkiness of the nose also reminds me of opening the box for a new bicycle tube.  There is a green component to this wine as well.  Slightly minty.  A little like fresh lettuce from the garden.  There is a deep note of plum.

Taste:  I don’t want this to throw you off.  My first thought in drinking this wine was of a grapefruit.  Imagine that tart citrus component of a grapefruit.  Now take away the mouth-puckering sour aspect.  I guess I’d call it essence of grapefruit.

Now, take that grapefruit and dip it in chocolate.  Delicious!

There is a lingering acidity.  A little lime.  There are some nice soft tannins that tell me this is as good as this wine is going to get.

This wine is a solid, confident, beast…

This wine makes me want food… Now!  I want tacos.  I want burgers.  Bruschetta.  Cheese.  It is extremely versatile.

After my initial taste, I jumped up to raid the fridge.  My initial thought was to grab some cheese.  Since I was thinking about tacos, I grabbed some hard cotija cheese from Mexico (Literally!  I flew down to Mexico just now to get this cheese).

While I was cutting the cheese (Childish joke.  Though not intended… appreciated!)  My mouth began to water with this flavor of caramel and chocolate (Rollos anyone?), so I grabbed some strawberries.

The saltiness of the cotija paired very well with the acidity of the wine.  The strawberries did a great job of stepping up those chocolate notes.

This wine is a solid, food friendly, mo fo.

Considering that this is my first official review for this blog, I had a tough time scoring this wine.  I must tell you that I loved it.  You must also know that I doubt it has the structure to last another two years in the cellar.  All I’m thinking right now, however, is that I want to go buy a whole case right now.  I want to drink this wine with as many different food pairings as I can.  It is THAT good.  But… I’ve had better.  But… It’s only 11 bucks.

I’ve got to tell you, I could not have asked for a better wine to score first for you.  This is THE threshold for me.  I’m giving it 90 points, and I’m telling you that you MUST try this.

Rubbery, synthetic cork. Chocolaty, authentic wine.

Stay Rad,

Jeff


%d bloggers like this: