Autumn Flight Barbera 2010

Bottle purchased from J&J Cellars in Paso Robles, $10 bottle or $60 case

Teri: This bottle is produced by J&J Cellars in Paso Robles and features barbera varietal, a grape commonly used for blending especially in Chianti. This was the first time I had tried a barbera and the taste was quite distinct. This wine carries a distinct cranberry flavor with a nice even rich taste and a hint of spice. The flavor would pair well with red pastas, spicy dishes, and savory meals.  Being an inexpensive varietal, we ended up purchasing a case to have as a nice daily wine and to share with friends. Everyone we have shared this bottle with has liked and enjoyed it. 87 points

Aaron: When we first tasted this, we were pretty impressed at the drinkability for the price.  We recently tried two bottles from a case we had bought and noticed that there were some dissimilarities.  The first bottle had a strong sense of cranberry throughout.  Overall, that was the prominent flavor and made the wine tangy. When we opened the second bottle a few days later, there was no cranberry flavor, but luscious red fruits that permeated a sweet, savory flavor.  There was certainly more complexity in this second bottle and it was thoroughly enjoyable.  The key to this wine is its flexibility; I could easily pair this with most meat and chicken dishes and not make anyone mad – that’s important when serving large parties.  So my verdict: this is perfect for dinner parties, especially if you have a large crowd and need a reasonably priced, satisfying bottle that will keep everyone happy. 88 points

B&E Vineyard Reserve Merlot 2008

Bottle purchased from B&E Tasting room in Paso Robles, CA,  $30

Teri: B&E Vineyard is a wonderful and friendly small family owned winery in the Paso Robles area. Driving out to the location is scenic and takes you through the rows of vine to the top of a hill where their tasting room is a small wooden saloon style building. This bottle wasn’t on the tasting list but due to some circumstantial luck we happened to be there at the same time as a family friend and this bottle was opened. I was hooked from the first sip. The flavor was full and it contained a nice soft finish with smooth tannins. If you are ever in the Paso Robles area stop by this tasting room and get pampered by the friendly hospitality and great tasting wines. 88 points

Aaron: I greatly enjoyed this merlot.  It was fuller than I expected and had thick fruit flavors with a gentle finish.  I admit that I might have been swept off my feet a little by the tasting room coordinator who definitely sold this vintage up, but it was worth it.  86 points

B&E Vineyard Contact Info

J & J Cellars Zinfandel 2008

Purchased from the J&J Cellars tasting room in Paso Robles, around $15 dollars.

Teri: J&J Cellars was a beautiful winery to drive out to in Paso Robles. The tasting room is in the middle of the vines with nothing but beautiful views of grapevines on either side. We enjoyed our time at this winery with the friendly company of the staff and the family dog lounging around outside. The Zinfandel was one of our favorites out of all we tasted while we were there. To the nose it contained hints of spice, raspberry, and dark fruits. The flavor was full bodied and left you with the taste of sweet red ripe fruits and some chocolate. 75 points

Aaron: I loved the complexity of this wine.  The fruit came through effectively, followed by a hint of chocolate.  For me, it’s all about the finish and I definitely liked this one.  It was very gentle for a Zin and at $15 a bottle, it’s hard to beat.  80 points

Cupcake Chardonnay

Purchased from Total Wine & More, $7.47 (you can also find for similar prices at Costco, Target, and many other grocery/liquor stores)

Aaron: I thoroughly enjoyed this white.  This was the third of three chardonnays we tried in a single night and it definitely stood out as the most impressive to me.  There was a buttery smooth consistency as the wine melted into my mouth and I felt that it was surprisingly full-bodied.  I did not get as many fruit flavors as I expected but the warmth of gentle butterscotch was perfect for an after-dinner glass.  I was also surprised to sense a hint of a bite on the finish; not to say it was harsh, but I was pleasantly reminded that I was still drinking alcohol.  85 points

Teri: If you are looking for a white wine that will win over novice and semi-experienced wine drinkers for any group occasion, this one is it. Despite its feminine looking and sounding label the wine inside can be an easy favorite of both men and women alike. It it definitely leans more towards the “buttery” side of a Chardonnay with strong warm flavors of butterscotch and vanilla and finishes with a lingering crisp finish and a slight taste of citrus. The aroma is also very pleasant. I could smell a lot of the vanilla and butterscotch even before the taste. This is sure to be a crowd favorite before, during, or after dinner. Pair it with rich flavors to complement its “buttery” nature or enjoy it on its own. 89 points