Ghost Pines Zinfandel 2008

Purchased from Total Wine & More, $13.49
The 2009 vintage can be found at BevMo, $19.99

Aaron: Two words: strawberry jam.  The smell, the flavor, everything – almost overwhelmingly – was a beautiful red berry jam.  This was highly evident on the nose and complemented by a slight hint of woody undertones.  The taste was very similar, featuring a bold, robust flavor that left a long, lingering finish.  I honestly could not taste any black fruits but was rather fond of what I equate to a taffy-like consistency on the palate.  Don’t take this the wrong way – this unique finish was very interesting.  I love theway it lingered on and left a thick, flavorful sensation on the tongue.  Overall I enjoyed the bottle. 93 Points

Teri: Right out of the bottle this wine is a beautiful dark ruby color. Everything we have tried from Ghost Pines has been excellent and this bottle is the best so far. This zin is full bodied but not heavy or overwhelming. It contains LOTS of strawberry flavors on both the front and back end in a semi-sweet jam taste that sits well in the mouth. I also got a little hint of oak towards the finish. If you are a fan of Pinot Noir don’t be scared by the zin label…you will love this bottle. 93 points

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Buena Vista Pinot Noir 2008

Purchased on special at Trader Joe’s, $9.99
Also available at:
Total Wine and More, $15.99
BevMo, $22.99

Aaron: I was shocked to discover this was pinot.  Had this not been a blind tasting I would have assumed somebody switched the label.  This wine was so brilliantly dark and featured a velvety medium body, both of which I normally do not associate with pinots.  The smell and taste were very similar to me, both featured some wood and nut flavors and I enjoyed the soft vanilla marbled throughout.  I was initially impressed and throughout the entire tasting my opinion did not change. 90 points

Teri: This has been a favorite bottle of mine for a while. I spied it at Trader Joe’s around valentines days for this amazing price and had to get one….wish I would have gotten more! Coming from the Carneros region of napa, this is a great area for pinot noir grapes. Buena Visa has made a great pinot containing heavy a fruit forward flavor that I would classify as strawberry and cherry and a light spice on the finish.  The wine is medium bodied with nice medium tannins that would pair well with lighter meals.  90 points

Clos Du Bois Shiraz 2007

Brought over by friends.
Available at BevMo, $8.99 and select supermarkets  

Aaron: I’ve always found Clos Du Bois to be a good middle of the road wine.  I would definitely recommend this for new wine drinkers or to be taken to a party.  This Shiraz was more medium-bodied than I prefer but there was not too much spice – only enough to stand up to a good meal.  The flavor was not overly fruity but generally pleasant and relaxed. 86 points

Teri: This wine has a very bold nose and a full taste to match. The shiraz grape is known for its strong red fruit flavors and pepper tones and this bottle fit those descriptors perfectly. This flavor profile is not my personal favorite but I appreciate its complexity. Easily drinkable and a good choice for new or old wine drinkers. 83 points

Finca Flichman Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Total Wine & More, $5.99

Aaron: When writing tasting notes on this cab I found myself contradicting my historic preferences.  Similarly, I describe the nose as masculine but with a hint of floral.  The smell was bold and almost overpowering; I imagined berries being ground on stone because there was a fruity smell mixed with a rocky undertone.  After overcoming my fascination with this imagery I tasted the mild, smooth flavor.  I felt a slight bite on the tip of my tongue at the first sip but interestingly not on the swallow.  Beyond the mellowness this was not overly complex and had an almost earthy sense but I found it pleasant.  Also, I did not taste berries (which I generally prefer) but I honestly didn’t mind. 89 points

Teri: I classify this wine as “warm.” This is not quite a technical term but the best I could come up with. This strange descriptor means that when drinking it I found it to provided a very nice full and round taste that provided a very nice warmth. It has smooth full tannins with a mixture of floral and fruit flavors. I could drink this wine over and over for a long period of time. 87 points

Charles Krug Cabernet Savignon 2007

Total Wine & More, $19.99

Teri: The wine is a beautiful dark purple color in the glass giving the drinker a foreshadowing of the intense flavors to come. The nose was wonderful, bold and filled with a strong sent of blackberry. On first drink the intense tannins hit your mouth and linger till all of the flavors have surpassed. The taste started with a slight musky and earthy flavor that merged afterwards into dark cherry and rhubarb. 85 points

Aaron: I found the nose of this cab to be strong and bold, mirroring its deep purple color.  I can best describe it as rounded and holistically encircling the nostrils.  I also sensed hints of cocoa and berries among a slightly earthy “aftersmell”.  As is usually the case with me, a great nose means a mediocre flavor.  The taste was notably chalky, due to the strong tannins.  this overshadowed the light berry taste.  The fruit flavor was not overripe, but not under ripe either (most people would consider that to be “ripe”, but I can’t willingly classify the flavor as ripe berries, it was just “berries” without any uniqueness).  In addition to the drying aftertaste, I had a mild sense of lingering smoke and oak, but only a hint. 86 points

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Wine Help for the Everyday Person

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