Grgich Hills Zinfandel 2007

Can find this bottle at most expansive wine retailers, priced around $30.

Aaron:  I admit tht I’m biased because I love Napa Zins, so this full bodied, fruit forward wine is right up my alley.  I should note, when we were in Napa, we tried a Zin at the Grgich Hills tasting room and were not impressed.  It must have been a different vintage because this bottle was awesome!  I sensed full, jammy notes of dark fruit on the nose which bled into the bold flavor.  Comprised of red and black berries, notably strawberry, this wine is very palatable.  The hint of cocoa on the taste buds is a nice predecessor to the brief tang on the aftertaste.  Overall, the finish is smooth with a slight burning sensation.  This is a perfect complement for the wine and in no way detracts from the flavor. 94 points

Teri: This is a very nice bottle if you don’t mind splurging a little on the price. It has a nice smell of jammy red raspberries and a fill fruit forward taste containing more dark berries and hints of coco. The wine is full bodied with strong tannins and add is great to enjoy by itself or with a meal. Give as a gift or bring to a dinner party to impress anyone who is a Napa Valley wine lover. 90 points

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Zamarro Malbec-Bonarda 2009

Purchased from Albertson’s, $3.99

Aaron:  I bought this on a whim to see if we were to the point where we could tell the difference between a $4 and $15 bottle.  I didn’t tell Teri how much it cost so her tasting could be completely blind – her rating should tell you something.  Personally, I smelled unripened berries that gave a spicy zing to the nostrels.  That said, when I tasted the flavors, there was no pepper as I savored the wine; it was not until the swallow that a peppery spice came through.  I could expect some of this because of the varietal, but I also credit some of that to the quality.  One thing I was happy to find was a consistent fruit flavor.  I did not sense any earthy or woody tones, strictly fruit.  While this evidenced its limited complexity, I enjoyed the nice medium body.  Overall, I was pretty impressed with this.  I generally love malbecs and am excited to explore more Argentinian and Chilean wines.  Especially for the price, this is a winner. 87 points

Teri: Argentina has started to produce some great wines, especially malbec’s. This one was a 50/50 blend with a varietal I hadn’t tried before, bonarda. True to a malbec this wine carries dark fruits and oak in the nose and full bodied flavors of strawberry, blackberry, oak, and faint musk. The end lingers with a slight tart taste. For the price this wine is a great choice for a low budget. 88 points

Jack London (Kenwood) Syrah 2007

Introduced to this bottle by a good friends. Price range $16-24 available from most wine retailers.

Aaron:  I was very surprised with this wine!  I haven’t had many syrahs lately because I have lost interest in the peppery and spicy flavors that typically characterizes these vintages.  I was surprised that this bottle had little to no pepper whatsoever.  The nose is generally where I first sense these flavors and this smell was mild without much going on.  I did taste a slight fruitiness but that dissapated quickly.  The finish was mild and flexible without too much bite, but it also lacked flavor.  I would label this as a syrah for non-syrah drinkers. 80 points

Teri: This is the first Syrah I have tried that I absolutely love! The nose is a little mellow but the flavor is outstanding. It it easily drinkable with a strong but smooth finish with hints of dark cherry and oak. We were drinking this with an appetizer that contained serrano and jalipano peppers with cream cheese and the flavors paired perfectly. Great for spicy foods. 90 points

Parkers Estate Cabernet Savignon 2010

Aaron: I enjoyed this wine; if I could use one word to describe it, I would say it was comfortable.  Generally I felt it was mild and moderate with a pleasant finish.  I definitely noticed some medium tannins which added to the flavor at the end.  Additionally, throughout the sips I noticed light red fruits and raspberries.  This would be great to bring to a party when you don’t know who will be attending or what is being cooked. 85 points

Teri: This was a nice cab but it left me wanting a little more. It was very smooth at first sip with medium tannins that build up on the palate. The overall flavor contained a good amount of savory dark fruits.   80 points

Chateau Bellevue Bordeaux 2008

This bottle was introduced to us by a good friend who is Dutch and a trained European Chef, Price Unknown.

Aaron:  While my tastes have become accustomed to the fruity, savory flavors of California wines I was excited to try this bordeaux.  It paired nicely with the lamb that we were eating at the time however I probably wouldn’t drink this as a standalone wine.  The nose was very broad with earthy tones, so I was slightly mislead because the flavor was thin and lacked body.  Also notable, I did not get a lot of grape flavors, though I definitely noticed berries.  Interestingly, the flavor did not resemble ripe berries, which gave a slight tartness to the second or third sip.  Overall, this probably could use another year or two of aging to develop some more complexity, however if you want to impress a wine snob, show up with a nice bordeaux, works every time!  80 points

Teri: I always remember Bordeaux as rich and earthy and this one fits the bill. The flavor has nice layers to it giving your taste buds flavors of red fruits first followed by musky and earthy nodes. With no hint of sweetness, this bottle would accompany a variety of savory meals adding to the complexity of the food. I normally lean towards fruitier flavors of California wines but this bottle was a great change. 75 points

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Wine Help for the Everyday Person

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