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Offer of 4/8/2011 -- Kaleidoscope White Wine Blend Six Pack

This offer's pack:

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GsCharM wrote:

I hosted a little "wine tasting" event today. Our party consisted of 2 pretty strictly red wine drinkers and 2 who tend to choose white wines.
All enjoyed this, agreeing that it was crisp, light, and not-too-sweet; just what my red-only friends said they like to have on hand when hosting a party.
My other friend & I declared that we would be happy to drink Kaleidoscope at their party, and proceeded to finish the bottle waiting to be invited, determined that we could taste maybe some pear in there and wishing we had another bottle... or that we hadn't shared.

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gadgetlady wrote:

What a nice surprise! I was appointed a lab rat this week, just in time to receive my shipment on my birthday yesterday.

I'd had a late lunch, so all I had in the evening was a piece of birthday cake while the bottle of Kaleidoscope was chilling.

First impressions:

Beautifully designed bottle. Then... TABLE WINE? *Vintage* table wine?

With more than 40 years of wine-drinking experience (should add this to my resume), I've learned to avoid anything called table wine unless it cannot be avoided. In this case, I had to do my duty as a Wine.Woot labrat and drink the stuff.

I saw on the label that source of the blend was limited to Monterey-area vineyards.

This is good news, as in my experience, European table wines are blended from plonk that is moved around various European Union counties in tanker trucks, each winemaker adding his share directly into the tank.

In the mid-1980s, a scandal arose when diethylene glycol (antifreeze) was found in European table wine. As I was living in Europe when this news broke, I've become justifiably suspicious of the table wine designation.

You shouldn't be suspicious of this white table wine, at least not on account of its designation.

[Edited to acknowledge that "table wine" is defined differently in the United States than in Europe. Still, I prefer wines that identify component grapes on the label.]

Forgive the aside... I had time to think about the history of European table wine while I was waiting for my bottle of Kaleidoscope to chill.

After a couple of hours in the fridge (I'm in Illinois, so the bottle was cool when it arrived), I opened the bottle... plastic cork rather than screwtop, probably because the bottle was filled in 2007.

First pour:

Not much bouquet on the initial sniff, a little fruit, but very subtle. Mind you, my palate could have been influenced by the birthday cake, although I did cleanse my palate with a wine cracker from Trader Joe's before I took my first sip.

As it says on the label, this wine is a balance of acid and fruit. Most wines are a balance of acid and fruit, however, so I had no expectations.

First sip:

My initial reaction was mixed: I've tasted worse (I buy cheap wine), but overall, Kaleidoscope is no worse than any of the "house wines" poured at the bar in midpriced restaurants.

Please forgive me for not being able to provide more poetic tasting notes. First on the palate is acid, perhaps a little oak, slight sweetness. The finish compares to that of an oaky chardonnay (not my favorite wine).

So given that I hadn't had a real meal, I proceeded to munch Trader Joe's slightly sweet wine crackers between sips. As the evening wore on (Ken Burns's Civil War series, this week's new episodes of CSI and Bones), the drinking got easier.

Sometime during CSI, I was tempted to pop in an ice cube. A few moments later, I began to wonder how this would do as the basis for a kir. My curiosity also grew about the price at which Kaleidoscope would be offered.

I also knew someone would pose the question of whether this is a good summertime deck-sipping choice. That's a qualified yes. Chill it very well, and pair it with something spicier or more flavorful than wine crackers, and you won't get complaints.

At $7.50 per bottle (including shipping at the 6 bottle quantity), Kaleidoscope is well priced. I'm sure there are wide swaths of America where this could be the best white wine available for less than $8.00 per bottle.

I probably won't be buying this time, however. At the moment, I am finding better value in New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc at my local Sam's Club and Costco. Kaleidoscope is a bit too heavy for my palate, especially compared to my favorite Sauvignon Blancs and Chenin Blancs.

As this is my first labrat review, I welcome comments and questions.

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trevmoose wrote:

A Labrat's Report

When I first received notification that I was to Labrat today's offering, I was a bit confused. As a long time buyer, never-time poster, I asked myself what could I possibly offer to the wise wine.woot community.

I quickly booked large conference room for 5pm. Headed down to the cafeteria and picked up some of the plastic wine glasses we use for Friday drinking. I then casually walked around the office, picking people I liked (and who I knew enjoyed wine) and casually mentioned, "We'll be pouring some wine in Wichita (the name of the conference room), please come join."

Of course people were quick to ask, "What's the occasion?" At first I tried to explain the whole labrat thing, but since most were unfamiliar with wine.woot, I simply moved on to, "We have free wine!"

I had everyone collect their tasting notes on a whiteboard:
You can see pictures of the whiteboard notes here:

The choice quote was, "This is what I would serve my mom when she visits from Michigan."

We all agreed that this was an excellent summer wine. And given the recent summer-like weather here in the Bay Area, it was welcome. In our discussions, "this is porch wine" It had enough sweetness that it could be used in place of a dessert riesling. I'd also love to use it as a base for a white sangria.

We unfortunately didn't have anything to pair with it. We discussed what it might pair well with, but can't really share what actually worked. We speculated that sweet strawberries, a creamy brie, and melon would be excellent pairings.

I'll try to answer questions to the best of my ability. Thanks to David, for the opportunity!

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duncanwoot wrote:

Unfortunately I am out of town during my first lab rat opportunity. I appologize for the slow review posting. My wife assumed rat duties with the help of friends. Their unedited report appears below.

Wine woot review for Kaleidoscope White Table Wine

We had six red wine drinkers tasting this white table wine from the MontereyCounty. We were open-minded. To start off, the bottle is beautiful and would make a very interesting gift. Once poured, the color is very clear and refreshing. The aroma is also very fresh and fruity, with flavors of pear and apple. The aroma comes across as crisp, but the taste is much smoother.It issoft and buttery,almost creamy,but still plentyof fruit. It definitely has a sweetness, but it is not too sweet. It would be veryversatile with lighter food. We all agreed that we enjoyed the wine overall, and we even called it a red-lover's white. It is very easy to drink. We thought it might be good over ice and perfect for spring or summer.

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thormrk wrote:

First let me thank Wine David for the opportunity to be a lab rat. I am a 99.9% red wine drinker so I was a little intimidated when I opened the box and saw a white. Didn't need to chill as it has been abnormally cold in California the last few days. Not a wine tech type guy so I had my wife join me to taste. Opened the bottle poured a glass and took a sip. Sweet is the first thing that came to our minds - not overly sweet but crisp, rich with honeyed taste. I said fruity my wife was more specific with peach, pear and apple fruitiness. She did say it smelled like spring flowers which are blooming everywhere now just ask my nose and eyes. All in all I was impressed. Would be a great drinker chilled on a hot day. Didn't pair with food but I would imagine it would be good with a light cheese and pork dishes. Thanks again for the opportunity!!

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Offer of 4/12/2011 -- Mathis Grenache 2007 - 3 Pack

This offer's pack:

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labROUS wrote:LabROUS review: an attempt at objective description of wine. My goal is to give you an idea of the aromas, flavors and structure of the wine(s) reviewed. Because wine preferences are personal, I try to stay away from “quality” assessments. It is, of course, impossible to completely ignore my pet likes and dislikes, but I will try to let you know when I’m expressing opinion - for example, many of you are aware that I am not fond of heavy oak or high alcohol.

- Mathis 2007 Grenache

This wine has typical color for Grenache – medium red, more to the orange direction than to the purple The initial aromas include cocoa, dried cherries, tobacco and a hint of leather. Swirling brings out cherry and blackberry-like fruit with notes of black pepper, licorice, brown spice (cinnamon and nutmeg), root beer and a floral component. After several hours the fruit seemed more plum-like, and there was a component to the finish that reminded me of peppermint.
The entry is full but not sweet, the middle dry, slightly chewy yet supple, and the finish lingers with blackberry and some tannin. The acid balance is spot-on, neither tart nor flabby, and the wine has consistent texture from entry through finish. The ample tannins are rich and moderately soft, adding structure and some astringency on the finish. This is not a monster that demands aging, but certainly has the stuff to last and develop for several more years. The finish is fairly long, and should get even longer and smoother with more age.
This is a pretty serious wine, much more of a dinner companion than an easy quaffer. It is not as intensely fruity as many California Grenache, which is to say it leans more towards the Southern Rhône than towards raspberry Koolaid as a role model. There is no obvious oak, no questionable aromas, no cheap perfume or gaudy costume jewelry. It is balanced enough for current drinking but promises to develop nicely for those who have the patience to lay it down for a few years.

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GsCharM wrote:

First, I am a Lucky LABRAT! (Thanks David!)
We opened the bottle after dinner, and sliced some cheeses and salami, prepared a fruit bowl then poured a couple of glasses.
This Grenache is mellow but fruity. Agreeable and uncomplicated.
I loved it, while my husband thought it was simply "good". I probably should have served it to him with a steak. That would have been great.

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duncanwoot wrote:Lab rat for the Mathis 2007 Sonoma Valley Grenache

I am entering this review before reading any of the other comments. My wife (K) and I (D) tasted the Mathis Grenache last night. In general, K is open to Grenache and Grenache-based wines. They are not my (D’s) favorite.

7:30pm-open bottle
K: Does not like the nose. Taste – flat, simple, acidic, not fruity.
D: Color-medium red and clear. Nose-green, sour apple. Taste-leather and a slight, slight black cherry on front with black pepper and heat (alcohol) on the back end. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not a light berry-driven Grenache.

We decanted some of the wine and left the remainder in the bottle

8:30pm-bottle wine before and during dinner
K: little better, not great
D: Leather, mild pepper, no alcohol heat, some fruit and sweetness on the back end (this is a good thing).

Paired with pablano peppers stuffed with chorizo and shrimp rice (it was preplanned and not selected for the wine)
K: good with spicy food
D: spicy food killed the fruit flavor in the wine. I was not a fan.

9:00pm-decanted wine
K: best so far, okay wine
D: fruit forward with some pepper on back end. Still an earthy wine but this was the best taste of the night. An okay pairing with dark chocolate.

Overall this was a monotone, earthy wine out of the bottle that opened up to a better balanced wine. If this wine had been purchased at a restaurant, I would be happy for the experience but would not get it again. K and I will be passing on this Woot.

My initial thought when tasting this wine was that it reminded me of an unfavorable Rioja wine, which is the Spanish regional style that introduced me to Tempranillo grapes that I love. Grenache is the most commonly blended grape with Tempranillo to produce Rioja wines.

Thank you Woot for the opportunity to rat.

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hdavis4000 wrote:Lab rat for the Mathis 2007 Sonoma Valley Grenache

I received my bottle on Thursday and enjoyed it over the weekend with my sister.

Opened it up about 5:30 while getting dinner prepared. Upon the first sniff, I didn't care for the aroma. I got mostly alcohol and a hint of really ripe cherries.

First taste was very acidic and tart. Decided that this needed to be open and breathe for a while.

Ran a second taste through the vinturi and it was getting better. I was getting more black cherries coming through and not just the alcohol.

After allowing it to breathe for over an hour, maybe two and running it through the vinturi, I was enjoying it much more. It was more balanced and had deep black cherries and plums coming through.

Overall, if you like big fruit forward jammy wines, this may not be for you. But I really enjoyed it and will be in for some more!

Thanks again WineWoot and WineDavid for this opportunity of lab ratting!

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gadgetlady wrote:

In a word, YUM!

Opened on Saturday afternoon... first sniff promised wonderfulness.

The first sip (immediately after uncorking) was very alcoholic... in a wonderful way, vapors permeating all the way through the nasal cavities. (Not to be gross... don't know how else to describe it.)

Can I say this is a BIG wine? I think so, but more professional tasters are free to correct me.

I offered a sip to my husband, who was eating leftover Mongolian beef. He said he didn't like it. (More for me.)

The alcohol went straight to my head (I'm a lightweight), so I was off for a 2-hour nap while the flavors developed.

Fresh goat cheese and crackers made a nice accompaniment to my second round tasting. Lots of wonderfulness as promised, with less alcoholic edge this time. Round and round the mouth, jammy and smooth with just the right amount of fruit.

Let me just say I drank down more than half the bottle by myself. A bit of a headache yesterday morning, but I recovered well enough to enjoy another glass with pasta, garlic bread, and asparagus last night. Smoother than the previous night, still very yummy.

I'm saving the last bit to try with chocolate this evening.

Can you tell I'm in love with this Grenache? In for at least one.

Many thanks to WineDavid for tagging me as a lab rat! I think I'm getting the hang of this. Sorry I'm a bit tardy with my report from the Midwest.

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cheron98 wrote:

Great! First you get my attention with an untimely Labrat report. Then I start looking through the thread, and rpm says this looks interesting, and he doesn't mean the "interesting" you say in the tasting room when you don't like the wine. Then SonomaBouliste says it's the real deal. How's a guy who usually tends to like Grenache supposed to sustain a SIWBM?

Always keep a bottle of Champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you've got a bottle of Champagne in the fridge. - Hester Browne
Filmmaker/winemaker Francis Ford Coppola says his two professions are almost the same and that each depends on source material and takes a lot of time to perfect.
The big difference: "Today's winemakers still worry about quality."

Ddeuddeg's Cheesecake Cookbook


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dmyers314 wrote:

I received a bottle of the Voignier as a lab rat. My first time chosen as a lab rat and I certainly don't object to receiving an unexpected bottle of wine.

Overall, I'm a red wine drinker, so keep that in mind for my review.

1. Opened the bottle. Aroma is floral. Wine is a light golden color.
2. Dinner tonight was pasta with spicy sausage. I was concerned whether or not a white wine would hold up to the dish.
3. First taste. A bit sweeter than I expected. Spicy peppery finish. Not bad.
4. Sips with the meal: The peppery finish went enhances the the sausage. The wine works with this dish.
5. Over time, the sweetness faded - or at least I stopped noticing it.

Still have about half a bottle left. I'll provide updates with how it holds up overnight in the refrigerator.

Update: Still good the next evening. Noticed a bit more fruit flavor as well. Not as good the third evening.

dmyers314 wrote:Initial taste was sweet. Not particularly fruity. Thin doesn't seem like an accurate description though I'm honestly not sure what "full in the mouth" means nor do I really know how to measure acidity as far as taste is concerned. Sorry that I can't fully answer your questions.

For me, the dominate theme was that it echoed very nicely the spiciness of the pasta dish.

There are most likely more appropriate food pairings and had I known I was receiving a nice white wine I might have aimed for some kind of seafood-based meal.

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vjmc3 wrote:

I also received a bottle as a tester - the Pinot Noir. Although I'm mostly a white-wine drinker, and not an expert on wine by any means, I figured I'd give it a try.

The wine was very smooth, and would compliment any beef or pork dish. Not too much sweetness, and it finished well. Some reds have a bitterness or peppery flavor that makes me squint.

Definitely a wine I would have again! Thanks Woot for sending me the freebie!

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Asokker wrote:

Lagrein Labrat here. Thanks for the bottle, Woot!

First, my disclaimers... I'm not a wine connoisseur by any means. My preference leans towards white. I've had Lagrein only one time in the past, and I remember it being a bit heavy/tannic/acidic for my tastes. I have a head cold and can't taste much of anything. And finally, instead of enjoying this wine paired with nice slice of pork or beef, it was paired with a little "screw you IRS" as I struggled with my taxes and cursed at my computer.

Alas, the verdict. My wife and I popped the cork, aerated for about 45 minutes, and had a few glasses. For a Lagrein, I liked it, but my wife was more on the fence. She said "it's ok, but it is a little heavy and almost sour" (I know, very technical). For me, it had a very rich berry taste and color and was fairly astringent/tannic. Nonetheless, I think that is what you would expect from a good 100% Lagrein. I would probably never serve this wine straight up without pairing it with something to balance things out.

I would have liked to try the Viognier or maybe the Pinot.

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jako99 wrote:

Lab Rat here for the Merlot.

Initial taste was a little peppery with some good spice..

I decanted it for 15 minutes. Color of garnet with a pleasant smell reminiscent of garden flowers. When I re-sampled it had a full flavor and covered the taste buds on the entire tongue. The pepper flavor had diminished but was still present. Nice berry flavor but can't identify the berry...maybe grape

Enjoyed with some herbed goat cheese and a Spanish Iberico.

Flavor and aroma continued to open up as the wine aired.

It was good enough to try the bundle.


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brwmaster wrote:

Greetings Wooters. I was chosen as one of the lucky labrats for this Woot. I received a bottle of the 2007 merlot yesterday afternoon and was happy to sample it last night.

I should start by saying that merlot is generally not one of my favorite wines to drink - mainly because they come across as a little boring to my taste.

I poured a glass without decanting or aerating and tasted immediately.

The color of this merlot is a deep plum, a little darker than I expected. The wine's aroma was surprising to me in that it had some intense, ripe fruit aromas. Very nice.

The wine was a little bland, but not bad. To me it smelled better than it tasted, but still good - if that makes sense. The major flavors I was able to pick out were a hint of strawberry and chocolate with a slight tannin finish. My wife noticed some oakiness. I sampled the wine with a few friends and everyone enjoyed it. Some other comments were 'crisp' and 'mellow'.

For what it's worth, I would definitely buy this wine in the future. I believe it is offered for $17 a bottle at the winery, so this woot seems to be a fairly good deal and I am in for one. Honestly, I think the coolness factor of having a Lagrein in my wine fridge alone will make this purchase a good deal for me!

Bottom line - this is a pretty good merlot and, if you love merlot, I would be surprised if it disappoints you.

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kbwoof15 wrote:

I received the Voignier, having been selected as a lab rat. I actually had to leave work early and rush home to stop the FedEx guy from walking away with my wine. It was well worth it.

Although I'm not really a fan of white wines this one I absolutely loved. One of the few whites I've encountered (so far) that didn't leave a sweaty gym sock taste in my mouth. I would trade most reds for it any time.

The smell out of the bottle is intriguing. Slightly spicy - like cinnamon spicy - and floral at the same time. The initial taste is gently bold, if that makes any sense. It doesn't overwhelm you but the sweet-ish and tangy flavor (more tangy than sweet, like a sour patch kid) is definitely there.

There aren't many wines that catch my attention or even garner a second glance for me - but I would buy a case of this stuff in an instant.

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Offer of 4/22/2011 -- NOCO North Coast Chardonnay - 6 Pack

This offer's pack:

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bang21 wrote:

Portal 2 Labrat

I woke up in unfamiliar surroundings. How long had I been asleep? I noticed a box at my door. I opened it. A bottle of wine? Had I ordered it before going to bed? Did it arrive through some kind of dimensional shift? Does Aperture Science make wine? A voice said please chill the bottle for a few hours and go back to sleep. Not knowing what else to do, I followed the instructions.

Upon waking, the whole place seemed like it was falling apart. A voice spoke again saying all this was because of me--is that you GLaDOS? Then it said testing would begin.

Test 1--In viewing the label, I noticed this was a 2009 California Chardonnay (North Coast--hence the name NoCo). The back of the label clearly stated this was "grown wine" not "bulk wine" and that it was fermented with wild yeasts in 100% stainless steel tanks. NO OAK. That will be interesting, as my past experience with un-oaked Chards has been mixed.

Test 2--Opening the bottle was a simple task. Just a slight twist at the top and it was ready to pour. So far, these tests are easy--is the real challenge yet to come?

Test 3--In the glass, the wine had a very clear, pale straw appearance. Not nearly as golden as most Chardonnays I'm used to.

Test 4--OK, now things are getting more challenging. The nose is pretty vibrant. I'm noticing mostly floral components with some peaches. I like the nose and excitement starts to build for tasting it.

Test 5--Immediately, I'm surprised with a pretty bitter beginning. There is very little acid to speak of. The floral components come through again along with red apples (sweet, not tart). The mouth feel is very light. The finish is medium-length, but is probably the best part about this. No alcohol coming through and hints of blueberry at the end. Is that blueberry pie? It must be--the cake is a lie.

Test 6--Yet to be completed. Under Vacu Vin for the night, I'll try again tomorrow with some fish.

Update Test 6--Tasted with some semi-spicy salmon tonight. Went well, but didn't really change my overall perspective. I don't think I've ever spent this much energy thinking about a $10 bottle of wine.

My overall impression is that this is interesting and definitely worth trying. While I don't like much oak in my reds, I do like it in Chardonnay--so steel Chards don't usually do it for me. I'm glad I was able to have a bottle and it would make a great summer wine. However, it fails the buy test for me, but did I pass (I'm still alive)?

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sheephavewool wrote:

Hi all! Long time lurker, first time lab rat and poster. Before I get started, a giant thanks to all the wine.woot members who have helped to make my wine buying experiences more educational!

I'm far from a sophisticated taster, but here's my best shot at the NOCO Chardonnay. I lean toward the reds, and wines that are relatively fruit forward. As I write this, I'm enjoying some Ty's Red from its last Woot, and it's outstanding. I tasted this Chardonnay with my girlfriend, who typically enjoys fruity wines with minimal tannins.

I picked up the wine from FedEx, tossed it in the fridge for a couple hours, and opened it not long before dinner.

The Bottle
Me: It looks a lot like wine should go in it. When do we get another Albino Rhino label?
Her (Graphic Designer): Overall, the bottle gets an A-. It has a lovely contrast of bold colors and contour line art. Still, it seems a bit generic for a modern wine label/bottle.

Light straw color, looks thin.

Me: Apricot
Her: Fruity.
Pretty much what both of us would expect here.

Whoa! Not what we were expecting from the aroma.
Me: Sweet, butter, apple middle palate, with a short, grassy finish.
Her: Sweet, buttery, apple

With Food
At this point, dinner arrived (Go go gadget delivery Italian!) Pasta with cream sauce, ham, and mushrooms for her, fettucine alfredo with chicken for me. We also had a bit of sourdough bread with butter and some Parmesan cheese.

With the parm, both of us felt the salty cheese really balanced the sweetness of the wine. She also thought the bread and butter really accentuated the flavors that were present in the wine, and really brought everything out. I thought it tasted like butter.

Me: The fettuccine Alfredo really balanced the sweetness/butter out. I can really taste the grassy notes more.
Her: The ham *really* seems to be making this taste sweeter.

I tried some of her dish with the wine, and felt the same way. Both of us felt the wine became a little cloying with food, and we both enjoyed it more without dinner. We also both thought that my fettuccine and chicken went MUCH better with the wine, as it didn't seem to make the sweetness/butter quite so prevalent.

Overall, we both thought this wine would be good for sipping on the patio occasionally. It seems to stand alone better than being paired with a meal. A decent change of pace, especially on a hot summer day, but not an everyday drinker. I'm not a buttery Chard fan, but if you are, probably a good get.

Thanks, WD! Everyone, please let me know if you've got any additional questions, as I'd be happy to answer them.

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devzero wrote:

Lab Rat Report: 2009Noco Chardonnay

Long time buyer, first time Rat.

After work, and a two and a half hour wait at the doctor's office, I can't wait to get this baby open. Screw the top off (I have no problem with screw-tops), so she's easy to open and after pouring I notice she has nice legs, and an "interesting" nose. There she is at room temp (68 degrees), off-dry, similar to muscato. Smells like a heavily oaken chard, with hints of crabapple blossom. I sense dried apricot, as well. Bit of acidity and smokiness on the finish. I'm a sauvignon blanc type of guy, so this is different, interesting. I'm beginning to think that she has a nice personality.

After 15 min open, more oak-like than sweet, or is it just because it has a really (and I mean REALLY) buttery mouth-feel to it? Can't believe this is a stainless steel chard. Still better than an oaked chard (I don't like oak). Still a bit of acidity on finish (I like my acid).

Cooled to about 50 to 55 degrees. My wife (non-white wine drinker) notices that it smells like it will have an acidic bite, but the taste is almost pure butter. This wine is growing on me a little.

It was kid's baseball night, so dinner was scattered, which gave me an opportunity to test various combinations. Goes well with re-heated cheese pizza. Not good with re-heated sausage pizza. Great with nachos w/ processed nacho cheese. Not good with processed-frozen pasta entrees. It does not pair well with extra-sharp cheddar cheese. Good with sausage pizza rolls (folks, we usually feed our kids better than this). This wine is somewhat strange to have on its own, without a supporting cast. Need a sharper food to cut the butter. Have I mentioned the word "butter?"

Warmed in the glass back to room temp, turns muscat again, and loses nuances, but that's what white wine usually does. I'd also think it'd be ok in a temp cellar for a year or two. If someone were to build one for me and send me more wine, I can confirm my gut feeling. Feel free to PM me to volunteer.

Would be good for summer lunchtime picnic. maybe some gouda, or swiss, or brie and green apple. Maybe a cold roast beef sandwich with a horseradish sauce. Maybe as a syrup for a fruit-salad-with-kick and with a drizzle of basalmic?

As for the wine.woot writeup
Pear, kinda. No lemon zest I found. Custard, Yep. Whatever's on the table-- Yep.

This is a decent wine, and I'd think it would be perfect for the wine in Alton Brown's roasted tomato sauce (can I get a few extra bottles, for free?). As a final note, I'd love to rat a red, so my wife can get more involved ;>

EDIT/UPDATE: As part of my Good Friday fast, I only partook of a small glass of wine for lunch. I like it better very cold and open for 12 hours.

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Offer of 4/29/2011 -- Alex Sotelo Napa Valley Red - 3 Pack

1 2006 Syrah
1 2007 Alma Red Table Wine
1 2006 Zinfandel

This offer's pack:
homerclees (Alma)
cheekykarin (Zinfandel)
nosnevets (Syrah)

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homerclees wrote:

Lab rat report:

The 2007 Alma is full bodied without over doing it and while I may be influenced by subinsignia’s review of the 2005, I do agree it has some hints of blueberry and is very well rounded. I would compare this to the Ty Caton red blends that I have liked so much over the years. I would rate this a 4 out of 5 bottles and am definitely in for 1 because I’m curious about the Zin and Syrah.

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cheekykarin wrote:

This lab rat thing is better than winning the lottery. Man, I love you guys.
Alex Sotelo 2006 Zinfandel - it's been open for about 15 minutes, the cork smelled good enough to chew on and the wine has crazy gorgeous legs. This Zin has a lot of berry up front and is not heavily tannic. At the moment, the cinnamon is the mid-note.
Throwing steaks on the grill and will report back after tasting with food.

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nosnevets wrote:


Received the Alex Sotelo 2006 Leveroni Vineyard Syrah today. It is in the traditional soft shoulder bottle with a very nice label, foil capsule embossed with an eagle head image on top, a real cork closure not those chipped and formed jobs. Back label has gov warning, produced and bottled by Sotelo Wines, “Enjoy and share a glass of wine” and that is about it.

Opened and poured a taste: the wine is a very dark red not purple, legs are nonexistent, Nose is very light but there is cinnamon and black pepper over the base of fruity wine aroma. The flavor is wonderful, starts with a tangy cherry flavor that evolves into a ripe cherry flavor then more cherry but mixed with plum. The tannin is subtle and provides a solid backbone to the wine. There is a bit of spice and a little alcohol heat. I’ll let it breath a little now. Another note on the appearance: there is a very very slight haze. My guess is shipping jostle caused this.

45 minutes: The flavor profile is the same with a little more tannin at the start and in the middle. This wine is very well balanced, not a fruit bomb or a tannic monster, I can taste the cedar/cigar box the writeup alluded to but it doesn’t jump out and bite you. Now for some food, it won’t pair well with the fish we’re having for dinner so I will have it with salami, a semi soft goat cheese, and a slice of pear.

Pear: Doesn’t work, the sweetness of the pear makes the wine seem tart.

Salami: works well, the salt and fat is just what the wine needs.

Cheese: I was looking forward to this as the goat cheese came from near Rhone, alas somebody used it for an office get together. Used aged but not hard domestic Gouda no real conflict but it would not be my first choice in paring. The parmesian reggiano was worse as the flavors conflicted. Brie was similar to the Gouda passable but not great.
I wish I didn’t eat the lamb last night as this wine would have been a perfect match to my coriander cumin rubbed rack. Duck would be another good choice.

This is a medium bodied wine that is fine on its own and will go with the traditional
pairings of grilled meats, charcuterie or stronger flavored poultry.
Aging: this is drinking now and will probably hold for another 5 years. Let it settle a few days before opening

If the deal was for three of these I would buy two. I will wait to see what the other ratters say about the other wines.

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Offer of 5/3/2011 -- Davis Family Vineyards White - 4 Pack

1 2007 Cote Rose
1 2008 Sonoma Coast Riesling
2 2008 Cuvee Luke

This offer's pack:
homerclees (Cote Rose)
cheekykarin (Cote Rose)
nosnevets (Cote Rose)

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nosnevets wrote:


May the WOOT gods be blessed!! Not only did I get to report on the wonderful Alex Sotelo Syrah but it was a doubled with Tuesdays offering, the 2007 Davis Family Vineyards Cote Rose’ Russian River Valley. As you can gather from some of my recent posts I loved the pinot Noir from the last Davis offering and my expectations were quite high when I received this.
Received the bottle Friday and popped in the fridge (35 deg F) Pulled the bottle Monday evening And let it stand 15-20 minutes Typical Bordeaux bottle with a deep racking dimple in the bottom, clear glass. Foil capsule and real cork. Cork was printed and waxed - winery name, phone and website. Top was embossed but the kitten absconded with it before I could see what it was. No wine info on the back label just motto, vinted and bottled by, and Gov. warning. Wine is dark salmon color not pink but salmon.
Opened and poured the wine is cold. The wine is tart at the start with a woodsy tannic middle and a very subtle fruit finish. This is a food wine not a young girl by the pool wine. Bone dry and not enough fruit to fool anyone there might be sugar left. It reminds me of a good Bandol rose’. As the wine warms the woodsy earthy middle takes over the initial tartness and makes the wine much more pleasant, this is not an oaky flavor but more like dry leaves or forest flavor. I can’t identify the fruit as it is not prominent but it is there. This is a red wine drinkers rose’, very complex and moderately tannic. It was fine cold but much better a little warmer and even the last room temperature sip was fine as the wine did not fall apart at the warmer temperature. I had the wine with a grilled soy glazed albacore steak, Jasmine rice and asparagus. While the grass didn’t go I have yet to find a wine that pairs well with it. Everything went just fine but I think a little more acid or sweetness in the dish would be better.
My S.O. who doesn’t drink white wine liked it as well. I think they made this wine just for me as it is exactly what I want in a rose. If you are looking for a pink Zin type this is not it. If you are looking for a crisp dry rose’ that will pair well with a wide variety of foods buy it.

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homerclees wrote:Lab Rat Report

I opened the Cote Rose after a round of golf on Sunday where my winter white skin got pretty rose. It offered a nice crisp finish to a painful day of digging wayward shots out of sand traps and small creeks. I don’t drink a lot of Rose but have enjoyed it on warm summer days or even with some turkey at Thanksgiving. This bottle was very tasty with a nice aroma and a hint of cherry and some spice. I drank it cold but it continued to please as it warmed. It’s modestly complicated and very easy to drink. It was the perfect wine to sip on the patio as I watched the sun set wondering how much I could get for my golf clubs on craigslist.

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cheekykarin wrote:How does one follow nosenevets? This is NOT your typical rose. It is nicely dry and much better only slightly chilled rather than cold from the fridge. The color is lovely, and I'll repeat that it is not sweet - though the bouquet is close to freshly cut strawberries.
We paired this with broiled steelhead trout, smashed new potatoes, and sautéed mizuna. The greens were too bitter for the wine, but it was delicious with the fish and with the sea salted potatoes. It was also excellent with fresh berry pie for dessert, a nice balance to the raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
For lunch I'm going to try a glass with sesame noodles and thin sliced pork. I think it will balance the sesame oil well.
Nosenevets, my hat is off to you. Great reviews.

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Offer of 5/6/2011 -- J & J Cellars 2008 Mixed Red - 4 Pack

1 J & J 2008 Barbera
1 J & J 2008 Merlot
1 J & J 2008 Tempranillo
1 J & J 2008 Reserve Petite Sirah

This offer's pack:
kkv123 (Petite Sirah)
krissyMS (Tempranillo)

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kkv123 wrote:

I was one of the lucky lab rats for this offer, and received the 2008 J & J Cellars Petite Sirah Reserve. Fellow wooter herselk agreed to lend a hand an supply his tasting notes as well.

To provide guidance for a variety of tasting circumstances, we tasted the wine undecanted with an hour of bottle breathing, as well as decanted with an additional pass through the Venturi. The wine was served at room temperature (70 degrees) rather than a slightly chillier cellar temperature.

UNDECANTED (with 60 minutes bottle breathing):

KKV: brilliant garnet color, initial earthy nose with some spice (nutmeg?). With swirling, earthiness blows off to reveal darker fruit, but with additional complexity - the image that popped into my mind was boysenberry jam on wheat toast.

First sips revealed a brighter flavor than I anticipated, supported by appropriate tannins. Murkiness on the mid-palate with leaves and twigs on the finish.

This is definitely better suited to food rather than a solo sipper. Hershelk graciously brought some Idiazabal (a Spanish sheep cheese) and wheat crackers that paired beautifully.

Hershelk: The color was a very pretty dark plum color (truthfully I'm not exactly sure what the color of Garnet is). The nose started out earthy, but then lightened up to something more jammy with a hint of spice. After rooting around kkv's spice rack the closest seemed to be unground nutmeg. The taste to me felt very tannic with a berry jam flavor and a bit of bulgar wheat that I always get from Cabernet Franc. This combination I thought was summed up very well by kkv's jam on wheat toast description. I thought the mid palate seemed kind of creamy with a tang that reminded me of sheep cheese (i.e. Manchego, etc.) we then discovered it went very well with sheep cheese.


KKV: unmistakeable coffee notes with a dark bing cherry nose; more round through the mid-palate with a slightly bitter finish.

Attempted food pairing with 72% bittersweet chocolate, but a tartness in the wine made it unsuccessful.

Hershelk:The nose was like a coffee mocha with dates. The taste was like tart cherries on the back of my mouth mixed with some coffee grounds. Sorry, not a huge petit sirah fan and this is the sensation that generally turns me off. Wine did not go well with chocolate.


KKV: black licorice emerges on the nose, with diminishing coffee notes; texture is a bit softer through the mid-palate; murkiness present but more muted; fruit and spice components have mellowed but slight bitterness remains on the finish.

Wine paired nicely with burgers.

Hershelk: Wine mellowed a lot and was more pleasant. Less coffee on the nose, but now more licorice with still some chocolate and cherry. There was a little more fruit and less tartness on the tongue. Went will with burgers.


KKV: Honesty compels me to admit that I'm not a devoted fan of Petite Sirah (despite Loweel's best efforts). With a palate that is geared towards subtlety, I lack the sensibility to appreciate the big, bold 'rough-and tumble' personality that I find with this varietal. That being said, I greatly appreciated the opportunity to try the J&J Cellars Petite Sirah, finding brightness that I did not anticipate and pleasure in the everchanging aroma of this wine.

Hershelk: This was definitely a wine to go with food and the sheep cheese worked particularly well though the burgers went well too. This really needs to decant a while before drinking, at least for my palate, but then it became enjoyable. Probably not a wine I would just want to sit and sip on its own.

Our Conclusion: This was a big wine.

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krissyMS wrote:

J & J 2008 Tempranillo

Sorry for the delayed report, went out of town starting thursday evening (picked up the wine at the Fedex on our way) and headed to where we had no internet connection. First time labrat here, and it had to be Mother's day weekend when we were not home.. but for all those interested, here is the report on the 2008 Tempranillo

I had left my notes at home so bear with me - just going off of memory.

We tasted the wine about 10 minutes after uncorking. It was fresh and clean, and tasted kind of light. The biggest note that came through to me was that of oak, and more subtle flavors of berries came through. It was not overly sweet, was more tart, and finished very clean.
After about an hour, the flavors developed so much more. I could taste now the licorice, and other undertones I can only describe as earthy, or leathery. Although my husband noted the tannins when he first sipped, I can now after an hour notice them. The finish was bigger now after breathing for an hour, and left a light twinge on the tonsils.

Had very little to try and pair with it - some aged cheddar which went much better than the goat cheese - It seemed that with the goat cheese you lost the majority of the flavor of the wine. Went OK with our late (now about 11 pm) hot dog dinner. Maybe it is the lack of the right food pairing, but I would just drink this wine.

It was late at this point, and all I wanted was my bed. Recorked the bottle, and had it the next afternoon. It tasted pretty much the same that I can remember from the night before.

Overall I really liked this juice. I would have bought the deal if I didn't get back so late last night. It will need some time in the bottle as it is very young wine, but seems very promising to me, and more so my husband (he does not usually like reds, and he really liked this one).

Hope this helps, and sorry it is so late! Thank you for the opportunity of being a lab rat! It was an unexpected surprise

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Offer of 5/13/2011 -- California Karma 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon & 2009 Chardonnay Case

6 California Karma 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
6 California Karma 2009 Chardonnay

This offer's pack:

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semirose wrote:

So I had a minor freak out yesterday when I got the e-mail saying I'd been chosen, and then another one when I realized my new shift (started Monday) meant I wouldn't be home when Mr. FedEx Kiwi (ahh I'll miss his accent while I'm on days) came knocking with yet another box for me. Luckily the option to hold at a location popped up this morning and I got a call a few hours later saying it was there. And then another minor freak out occurred when I realized everyone I would taste the wine with was either busy or out of town tonight and I'm out of town the rest of the weekend so a Saturday lunch tasting was also out, this amplified when I realized there was not one but two bottles. But still, a glass of each was had and thoughts were thought.

Califronia Karma 2009 Chardonnay; chilled 30 min in fridge.
Sip 1 - holy fruit, pear mostly, very smooth, not as much acid as I'd like
Sip 2; straight after tasting leeks I was making for dinner for doneness - ooo there's the acid I was looking for, still very peary, getting some of that oak.
Sip 3+ - Not much different, still light, crisp, and pleasant.

California Karma 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Sip 1; straight after pouring - bit woodsy
Sip 2; 30 min later, with a spoonful of peanut butter because I was hungry - Loads of alcohol, getting something not fruit I don't know how to describe since it's not wood, leather, or spice. Bit of a tart fruit in there.
Sip 3; 1 hr in glass - Happened to be reading the rat reports already posted as I sipped this and someone mentioned sour cherries and my mind was like bam, yes, that's what you're tasting, mmm sour cherries please come in season. Tannins are light and pleasant. Nice finish to go with my puttering around the kitchen.
Sip >4; while eating dinner of sauteed leeks and feta on a slice of crusty yummy bread - Oh that's lovely, fruit really comes out, very smooth, let's have another
Sip the last; with a piece of dark chocolate - Hi tannins, I was wondering where you went, did you miss me? Still cherry.

Chard - nice light mouthfeel, very fruity with a nice bit of oak to balance, no butter. I'd say the acidity falls below Kaleidoscope and above Gazzi Chard (the two whites I've had most recently, I definitely prefer more crispness). Nice summer evening on the porch wine (which I definitely took the last few sips out for even though we went from almost 90 to under 60 in a day so it's not feeling as summer anymore)

CS - First few sips weren't to my liking, mostly alcohol and some wood tones, but after a little bit in the glass it was nice and once I had some food with it it definitely grew on me. The creamy cheese with the leeks really brought out the fruit, mostly cherry and blueberry, and mellowed an already fairly low key wine. It was a decent glass, nothing spectacular but it's a pleasant weekday dinner wine.

PS: That golden ticket definitely went into the folder I have labeled "keep forever"

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jeroly wrote:

Lab Rat Report

My first Lab Rat Fedex package ever arrived about three hours ago, and I must say I was fairly disappointed at the start. What was that lightly colored stuff in one of the bottles...wait, if memory serves me correctly, it must be white wine! I have never ordered one of those from Woot in the 196 or so bottles I've purchased over the last 4+ years, so why they want me to be ratting on the winemakers is a bit of a mystery...the process must really be more random than I thought.

The second bit of info I was bummed about was the fact that there is no cork in the bottles. Now I know that everybody says that the new twist-off technology is better than corks, and even more expensive so it's not about the winery trying to save a buck, but my issue with the twist-offs is what happens after you open the bottle. You see, I often don't get through an entire bottle at a time (or I'll go through more than one but less than two, or I'll finish the previous nights, start another, and... well you get the idea), and it's been my experience that my re-corking methodology, which is putting it under a semi-vacuum using the V-Gauge sealer, often doesn't work well with the twist-offs as the neck of the bottle is just that slight amount wider so that it ruins the ability to get a good seal.

Well, I figured that since it's a 2009 I'd better open it up ASAP as it would probably benefit from significant breathing. I poured a little into my favorite wine glass (crystal, to make myself feel like an English squire), gave it a swirl (strangely in the first pour there weren't 'legs' as such although it did cling to the sides of the glass like a high-tide mark, but without the legs effect - this phenomenon went away in the second pour), and gave it a sniff. Not a huge amount of aroma...I know I should say there were hints of blueberry, tobacco, and dirt, but I've never been able to pick up that kind of stuff in a sniff - I guess I never hunted truffles in a previous life). Then the taste - nice!

Well, nice in the 'that's a nice wine to have with a hamburger' or 'that's a nice wine to have with some cheese' or 'that's a nice wine to drink at a beach party' sense. It's seems to be a bit on the sweeter side while still readily identifiable as a cab sauv, perhaps a little 'fruity' while being low in tannins. I was surprised to find myself thinking that it was drinkable immediately (that was funny to think about a few minutes ago while I was reading the comments about wines that weren't given enough time - no such problems here!)

I decanted the bottle (my hunch was right - I couldn't vacuum-seal the bottle with V-Gauge) and let it sit some more. Second taste seemed pretty much the same. I left it in the decanter; I'll finish my half of the bottle as well as see if it fits in the 'nice with an eggplant parmigiana hero' category in about half an hour. When that's done, I'll check back in here with the follow-up as well as the feedback from my SO, and later tonight I'll get very very brave and try the chardonnay - it's been about 25 years since I bought a bottle of that, as when I do drink white wine I tend to go for Pinot Grigio (when my SO opens a bottle and I'm too lazy or cheap to start another bottle of red) or Sancerre (on rare occasions, usually when I have fish in a french restuarant).

jeroly wrote:

Lab Rat Report #2

Well we polished off the Cabernet Sauvignon last night with a couple of italian heroes (chicken and eggplant parmigiana, not Buffon and Totti). My SO agreed with me pretty much down the line - more than just 'drinkable,' it's really quite enjoyable. Like me, she didn't pick up much aroma but liked what smell she did find, and liked the taste quite a bit. We concurred in our assessment that it doesn't have a huge amount of varietal character but is smooth and pleasant.

In the past we've adopted a 'house wine' that we would keep in larger quantities than our other stashes and drink more often than the rest; the idea was that it would be on the cheaper side, and we'd maybe have it 50-60% of the time. For example, we used to buy Wolftrap in bulk when we could find it for $6 a bottle. We agreed that at $8 1/2 or so a bottle we'd be happy to hail the Karma Cab regularly. Buying a half-case of it for $100 (you see, when I told the SO I'd probably never finish six bottles of Chardonnay in the rest of my life, she corrected me, saying I'd probably not have six _glasses_) is another issue entirely, and I'd say it's not worth $17 a bottle.

We couldn't bring ourselves to try the Chardonnay last night, but I promise to have a bit with lunch tomorrow - I'll have a salade nicoise and that should give the cuilinary space for a little white.

P.S. Looking over the other rodent reports, I see some discussion about the wine opening up significantly after an hour or so. I didn't really detect much of that, but it certainly didn't get worse! Maybe there was an even smoother feel to it after a bit, but I didn't really detect a huge difference given how smooth it seemed right out of the bottle.

jeroly wrote:

Lab Rat Report #3

We cracked open the Chardonnay this afternoon with our tuna lunch, and I must say it was a pleasant surprise. The SO, who isn't a fan of sweet whites either, suggested we pop it in the freezer for a few minutes before opening to get it even cooler than fridge temperature. Well, it all worked out nicely - it was definitely on the dry end of the Chardonnays ledger, not exactly crisp but not overpoweringly sweet either. It was an enjoyable drink and I could see having it again with fish or perhaps served very cold at a hot summer picnic.

I didn't detect any buttery taste (saw that talked about in prior comments; didn't know about it in wine but have observed it in homebrewed beer that was fermented at too high a temperature - in homebrew it's due to excessive levels of diacetyl. In homebrew it can sometimes be remedied by letting it age for a good amount of time before opening, but I don't know if the same will work for a buttery white wine), and would say that it's not a bad choice for a red wine drinker that needs to bring some white to a party that they may be forced to share in, which is about my highest possible praise for a white!

Well, it's time to scurry off to the nest - cheers, everybody!

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Ashpoo wrote:

We enjoyed both bottles this evening. Our group consisted of myself and fiance, Luke, and another couple, Jenna and Joe. Jenna and Joe like wine but I think we drink a little bit more than they do. We don't drink whites very often and if we do it's usually pinot grigio. I usually don't care for chardonnay but was excited to rat nonetheless. Luke and I love pinot noir, especially Oregon pinots. I also love zinfandel but that's usually a little too much for Luke.


Initially out of the bottle we all detected pear and apple scents on the nose. Joe's first impression was "I smell alcohol". At first taste we thought it was fruitier than most other chards. It was also very crisp. It almost reminded us of a semi-dry riesling. Almost. With fruits (pear, grapes, apricots) Jenna and Joe thought it was harsh. I thought they definitely took the sweet away but was still drinkable. Green olives really brought the fruit flavor out in the wine. I think it was at that point that Luke and I were thinking it was quite riesling-esque. It also went well with brie. The brie was buttery and the wine fruity. Overall Luke and I really liked this wine. I might be in for one because it was unlike most chardonnays we've had.

And the Cabernet:

Out of the bottle we detected deep plum on the nose. Joe again immediately thought, "Holy alcohol!" I thought the first taste was pleasant with mild tannins, Jenna woodsy, Luke and Joe tart cherry. They actually said that before I mentioned that others detected cherry as well. It softened up a bit through the vinturi and the guys thought it was very smooth with smoked gouda. I really liked it with milk chocolate; it seemed to bring out a taste of strawberries in the wine. Dinner consisted of spaghetti, meatballs, and garlic cheese bread. It paired well with the meat and sauce but the guys said they thought it went best with the cheese bread. Overall I thought this was a good cabernet and is good to drink now with potential to be even better in the next couple years.

I'm going to think about getting in on this one overnight. I just bought a bunch recently and can really stand just one more purchase. I kind of want to hold out in hopes of a pinot or zin offering but these were really good wines for the price.

Thanks again woot!

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divadrabnud wrote:

1:27 p.m. PST - Vino just arrived gents (and ladies), one of each. Unscrewed the red and poured a glass. Fruity nose - let's give it 20 minutes to a half-hour to breath (or age for that matter considering the youth here.)

Chard went onto ice. We'll chill that one up for about the same amount of time.

The "Golden Ticket" from WineDavid39 is a nice touch - I feel special.

divadrabnud wrote:

2:24 p.m. PST - Cab has had just about an hour to breathe in the glass. Let me start by saying that although I fully expected the Chardonnay to be quite drinkable, I had my doubts about a 2009 Cab (read: grape juice fruit bomb) and expected to be gargling with this one.

Boy, what a surprise. Clearly the lower alcohol (13.9%) helps here, but the first thing you notice is the absence of over powering fruit and the presence of tannins. Nice acid level (but do I already feel a slight headache coming on?) Bring it to me! Much better than anticipated, especially coming from one who would never, repeat NEVER, purchase a screw-top Cab, never mind one under two years-old. :sumo: Note that 7,034 cases were produced (coming soon to your local house wine!)

I disagree with the review here somewhat as I wouldn't call it rich or full or having juicy fruit:

A rich, full wine with youthful, juicy fruit; easy tannin on the palate and cedar undertones; smooth, fleshy mouth feel with a balanced finish. Pairing suggestions: Grilled meat or pasta dishes,

But I do agree that the tannins are nice, very drinkable right now, and definitely has cedar undertones / finish. I am presently pairing this with marinated artichoke hearts and wheat crackers.

A mixed case that I would never have pulled the trigger on, was actually worth taking time out from my day to enjoy and labrat.



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