Innocent Bystander Pinot Noir 2010

Total Wine & More, $13.99

Aaron:  Overall, this wine was pretty middle-of-the-road for me.  The nose had a strong, earthy overtone with a bit of cedar bark.  The flavor boasted heavy notes of strawberry flavor – even more than I would expect from a pinot – and this was the primary taste.  I did also note a distinct tingling sensation on the tongue which I credit to the bottle’s youth. 87 points

Teri: The earthy and musky nose on this pinot made me doubt my choice but thankfully it turned out to be very misleading. The flavor of this pinot noir was the classic bright strawberry with some oak that lingered on the taste buds. I categorize this as an easily drinkable wine that is nice to share among those with diverse tastes or who are newer wine drinkers. It also reigns from the Yarra Valley in Australia, a beautiful region (just above Melbourne) that is growing in popularity among the wine community. 88 points

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Osborne Tawny Port

Total Wine and More: $14.99

Teri: This is a great middle of the road port that is easy on your budget for the 750ml size. The flavors of molasses and raisin are smooth and rich with a nice finish without a bite (surprising for the 19.5% alcohol content). The overall port has a mellow sweetness but is not sugary or overly viscus. This would be a great bottle to take to a dinner party or share with friends with dessert, nice cheeses, or appetizers. 90 points

Aaron: I’m not a huge port fan but I would drink this again.  The flavor is much more raisin than jam but there was also much less “unnecessary” sweetness.  What I mean is that while nearly all ports require some sweet flavors, this did not go overboard.  That said, there was also a nearly overpowering brandy flavor at the onset.  This dissipated after an entire glass but the drinker should be warned.  Overall, the lack of syrupy flavor was a big plus for me and earned more points than most ports would. 89 point

Domaine De Saint-Antoine Syrah 2009

Total wine and more: $9.99

Aaron: I was very impressed with this wine.  I made a Cajun shrimp dish for dinner and was seeking something to stand up to it – this wine did so without wrecking the taste buds!  The nose started off earthy and nutty but adapted into fruity flavors.  Overall it was bold, rich and full which admittedly earned some bonus points.  Unlike most of my wine adventures (when I either enjoy the nose or enjoy the taste), I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor of this Syrah.  I seek out the bolder wines but normally am disappointed when the stronger tannins lead to unnecessary peppery aftertastes.  This wine on the other hand featured strong berries in a slightly jammy setting.  The spice was limited and the uncharacteristically medium-bodied flavor was not as rich as the nose, but still enjoyable.  Of note, after a few sips I detected a nutty flavor at the beginning of the taste which was a pleasant predecessor to the fruits. 92 points

Teri: Sometimes the syrah varietal can be to bold or spicy to my taste, but this bottle had a warm balance. A bright fruit and earthy nose (fairly common for french wines) was nicely balanced by a medium bodied very long lasting raspberry flavor. The end trails with just a hint of spice. My only complaint was that the tannins were too full and rough for my preference leaving me with the urge to pucker my cheeks. Overall the wine was enjoyable but not my personal favorite. 84 points

Trader Joe’s Coastal Merlot 2010

Trader Joe’s: $3.99

Aaron:  Teri hits the nail on the head with this one: standard but nothing too spectacular.  I smelled earthy notes of spice mixed with fruit on the nose and felt that the “mediumness” of the body characterized the entire wine (yes I made up the word mediumness … expect to see it frequently throughout my posts from now on).  The flavor included sweet, ripe fruits that played on the fringe of jammy but what really highlighted the quality of this wine was the tingling sensation that I normally taste when drinking carbonated water.  79 points

Teri: Trader Joe’s made a standard merlot but nothing too spectacular. The smell is faint with hints of dark cherry and spice. The flavors of the wine carry red but slightly tart fruits with medium tannins and a spice taste that lingers on the tongue. 78 points

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Wine Help for the Everyday Person