Valley of the Moon Pinot Noir 2009

Introduced to this bottle by good friends. Can be found at most wine retailers. Price range $13-19

Aaron:  This is one of my new favorite pinot noirs … and I’m not a pinot guy.  The nose was very light and gentle however as soon as I took a sip I experienced a nice, medium bodied, relatively complex wine with mild tannins.  I enjoyed the red fruits and a unique flavor that I felt mirrored a pear or green apple.  The finish was slightly acidic but it complemented the flavor due to the mild sweetness. 85 points

Teri: Beautiful pinot noir from the carneros valley. Medium bodied with smooth tannins. The flavor is light then bursts with strawberry, raspberry and a light vanilla and oak finish. This wine pairs well with pork and sweet or savory dishes. 92 points

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

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