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Estrella 2009 Chardonnay

Date: Wed, Jan 11, 2012 Wine Tasting

Started out with mixed emotions about this 2009 Estrella Chardonnay. In fact, I thought I would give it 3 Corkscrews up until the point that I sat down at the computer and changed my mind settling on the 4 Corkscrews I ended up awarding. Now behind my reasoning. I was shopping in the local wine section and seeing the same old wines I see there every time I visit the store. Same prices as well with most of the stuff I've been buying around the $11-12/bottle range. Much to my surprise the Estrella was on a lower shelf and displayed a price of $4.99. Yes you read that right, $4.99! Now if you're like me the first thing that pops in your head is that this must be some crappy wine? Why else would it be priced so ridiculously low? Fortunately for the good folks at the vineyard, I'm one who will take a chance on a cheap wine in hopes that I can find an undiscovered jewel. I don't know that I can put this one in the jewel category but it is worth every cent I paid for it and then some. On the nose this wine displays lots of fruit and, how's the best way to put this, "thickness". Now I know you're saying "How can you smell thickness?" Well, you just can! Maybe bold or strong might be better words but I'm staying with "thickness". Darkish yellow in color my first taste revealed strong apple flavor and honeydew melon. A little bit of oak but not overpowering. The "thickness" I noticed on the nose was evident on the palate as well. If you don't like a bold, really tasteful Chardonnay, stay away from this one because it packs a lot of flavor in each sip. I wasn't really crazy about the finish as it had a little burn to it. If not for the $4.99 price I would have given this 3 Corkscrews but the most excellent price was what put me over the edge to 4 Corkscrews. I highly recommend this one if you can find it anywhere from $4.99 - $6.50/bottle. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine.

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2010 IRONY Pinot Noir

Date: Tue, Dec 27, 2011 Wine Tasting

I picked this one up at our local Wegmans having never heard anything about it. It was an act of faith as its retail price was $12.99/bottle and just about every Pinot Noir I've ever had at that low of a price point sucked! Every once in awhile you find a jewel in a lower priced wine and this is just such a jewel. My only hope is that it stays undiscovered for awhile as I'm sure once the word gets out on this wine the price is likely to shoot up. I opened it and allowed it to breathe for about 30 minutes. Not that 30 minutes is some magical number it just so happened that soon after I opened it #1 summoned me to attend to one of my many honey-dos on the old honey-do list and it was 30 minutes before my chore was complete. I poured that first glass and took a good look under the lights to see how "rich" it appeared. Not a deep ruby red like you see in Cabernet's, and some Pinot Noirs, but a medium bodied red. I've noticed that cheaper Pinots seem to be light red in color and easy to see through. Not scientific at all this peering through the glass but something I've found to be a good indicator. On the nose I picked up a little clove, cherry and maybe just a touch of vanilla. I took my first drink and slowly swirled. On the palate I noted that this was just bursting with all kinds of fruit. Cherry, strawberry, raspberry and even a little plum came to mind. A very smooth finish to say the least. I didn't taste any tannins at all. #1 was right behind me in tasting this one and also proclaimed how much she liked it. After I told her the price she liked it even more and promptly dispatched me to buy more the next day before the price went up. Haven't given a 5 Corkscrew rating in some time but this one made it easy. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine, especially this one!

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Orange County, Virginia Wine, Wings & Wheels

Date: Mon, Oct 10, 2011 Wine Tasting

Just a quick post regarding the Orange County, Virginia Wine-Wings-Wheels two-day event that will be held on October 22 & 23. Beautiful country and well worth the trip if you're looking for something to do that weekend. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Enjoy Life, Drink Wine!

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Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut from Spain

Date: Sun, Oct 9, 2011 Wine Tasting

I don't usually do a lot of reviews on champagne, or sparkling wine as it's known from countries other than France, but we had the Jaume Serra Cristalino at a recent milestone birthday party, yours truly, and I just had to jot a few lines about it. We ended up buying a case of this for the party and only had one bottle left by the end of the night. We had purchased equal amounts of red and white wine and this sparkling one was the favorite of all who attended. Light yellow color this wine is very lively when first poured. Make sure you use an appropriate stem to allow it to fully open up and to get the best flavor this wine has to offer. On the nose I picked up a slight amount of yeast with green apple and tangerine. On the palate more fruit, the green apple made another appearance, along with a slight hint of lime and possibly passion fruit. Not as dry as other sparkling wine's I've had, that's a good thing in this case, and a finish that is nice but doesn't linger. We had this with a variety of heavy finger foods and by itself as the night wore own. An informal canvas of this wine had it rated at 4 Corkscrews which I easily concur with. It retails for about $7.00 a bottle so definitely won't break the bank. Pick this one up for your next party or whenever you just want to enjoy a nice glass of cham, I mean, sparkling wine! Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Enjoy Life, Drink Wine and a little Champagne every once in awhile.

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New Winery Open in Little Washington, Virginia

Date: Sat, Oct 1, 2011 Wine Tasting

Just found out that a new winery has opened in our area. The Little Washington Winery in Little Washington, Virginia sounds like it will be a nice one and I plan to do a review just as soon as I can get out there. I've eaten at The Inn at Little Washington and it is truly an experience everyone should have before they die. We got a tour of the kitchen after dinner at it was just an incredible set up. It is definitely destination dining. Have a great weekend. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

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2010 Cielo Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie

Date: Thu, Sep 29, 2011 Wine Tasting

Tonight's review is of a 2010 Cielo Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie from Italy. We picked this one up for $8.00/bottle at The Grapevine in Warrenton, Virginia. I was looking for a wine that would stand up on its own as well as one that we could have with fish, chicken or something similar. Can't say I uncorked this one as it has the screw top that we're seeing on more and more wines. Very light gold in color on the nose this one showed hints of apricot and grass. Once I poured and allowed it to warm up just a little I tasted more of the apricot and other citrus, maybe lime, with a little hint of spice. Nice and crisp wine, a little dry but not too much, and a nice, easy finish. I ended up drinking this with a baked potato with just a touch of butter and a smattering of sharp cheddar cheese and it went together wonderfully. I originally gave this one 3 Corkscrews but after further consideration bumped it up to 4 Corkscrews due to its' great price and excellent flavor/acidity combination. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

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Virginia Wine Lover Party Tips

Date: Wed, Sep 28, 2011 Wine Tasting

As a print and e-newsletter subscriber to Virginia Wine Lover Magazine I get a monthly edition mailed to the house as well as a newsletter that hits my inbox on occasion. This latest edition had a link to hosting a Virginia Wine Tasting Party along with a variety of forms that can be used in planning and hosting the party. A great idea that could be used with Virginia wines as well as any other regions you might want to include. #1 and I attended a wine tasting party several years ago and it was a blast. Come to think of it we really need to have another one at our house soon. Check it out and let me know if you have a party. I'd be glad to pass on what you and your guests discover. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

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October is Virginia Wine Month

Date: Tue, Sep 27, 2011 Wine Tasting

Now that I'm active again I wanted to mention that October is Virginia Wine Month. It's an annual promotion that highlights the many vineyards in our state as well as restaurants and retail stores that sell and promote those wines. There are almost 200 wineries and 22 wine trails in the Commonwealth of Virginia to explore. I plan on visiting several of those wineries and posting about them in the coming weeks. We've actually got some really good wines being made in Virginia and hopefully I can bring some of those to your attention. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Try Virginia Wines!

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Cellarer.com Top 200 Wine Blogs

Date: Mon, Sep 26, 2011 Wine Tasting

Just a short post but I came across a site that ranks wine blogs based on a variety of criteria such as valuation, Google PageRank and monthly traffic. 365corks came in at #175 which was surprising based on the neglect I've given to the site over the last year. That's all changed as I plan on devoting as much time as I did when I first started and hope to break into the Top 50 next year. If you'd like to take a look for yourself check out Cellarer.com . Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

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24 Rivers Chardonnay

Date: Sat, Sep 24, 2011 Wine Tasting

We had this wine, a 2010 24 Rivers Chardonnay from South Africa, to serve at our party last night. This wine came out before the Barco and it's a good thing. I might have given up drinking wine altogether if I'd started with the Barco. An affordable wine, picked this one up for about $8.00, it was worth the price and a good find. On the nose a little oak and peach was exhibited. Once on the palate more of the toasty oak was noted and more of the peach with a little vanilla thrown in. Smooth finish made for an enjoyable glass of wine. I gave it 3 corkscrews for overall drinkability. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine.

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2010 Barco Viejo Chardonnay

Date: Sat, Sep 24, 2011 Wine Tasting

Had a get together at the house last night and this was one of the wines we had bought to try out. The 2010 Barco Viejo Chardonnay from Chile can be picked up for around $6 - 7 per bottle. Way too sweet and not a wine I will ever have in the house again. I had two glasses of it, I was hoping the second would be better than the first, wrong, and had a pseudo hangover that called back to memory a time when I had three glasses of Yellowtail and felt like a zombie the following day. There's just nothing I can say about this wine other than to steer clear of it. I gave it 1 corkscrew which, if you know my rating system, means head for the nearest sink with this and make sure it doesn't come in contact with a wine glass. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine (just not this one)!

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Site Design Change

Date: Fri, Sep 23, 2011 Wine Tasting

After much deliberation I came to the conclusion that 365corks.com needed a new look. Well, this is the look I decided on. I think it's much easier to read, the photographs "pop" off the page much better, and I've got more room to write and add other items of interest. Let me know what you think.

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Qupe' and The Ashby Inn - Third, Fourth & Fifth Courses

Date: Wed, Sep 21, 2011 Wine Tasting

As promised my review of the Qupe' Wine Dinner at The Ashby Inn, Paris, Virginia, continues. The third course of the night was a bite sized pasta filled with macadamia nut butter in a butternut squash broth with ginger and marigold. A very rich dish and the macadamia nut butter was an unusual, but tasty, filling. Not a real big portion but more a tapas style of portion. This course was accompanied by two releases of the "Bien Nacido Hillside Estate" Roussanne, the 2003 and the 2008.

Qupe' Roussanne 2003
The 2003 Roussanne, compared side-by-side to the 2008, did not have the same vibrant nose nor was its color as deep as the 2008. I picked up hints of citrus on the nose but wasn't able to pick up much of anything else. Smelled very thin if you can image that. On the palate I noted hints of citrus and maybe a little honeysuckle. Not a bad wine by any means just much more subtle than the 08. As I like more of an "In Your Face" type of white wine, this one received 3 corkscrews due to its subtleness. Don't know if you can still find this but the 2007 goes for $40 per bottle if that gives you an idea of how pricey it is.

Qupe' Roussanne 2008

The 2008 Roussanne was my favorite of the two. Bright yellow in color, the bouquet was big and bold with scents of mango, peach and other tropical fruit aromas. On the palate this wine did not disappoint. Loads of flavor, lushness and a finish that was borderline perfect! I liked the way this wine kind of clings to the palate. This would have received 5 corkscrews but only received four due to an average bottle price of around $30. Highly recommend for any special occasion or when you just want to splurge on a nice bottle of wine.

The fourth course was a sliced duck breast in cherry jus with assorted grains and oregano. Now I love a rare piece of meat and it is so easy to overcook a duck breast that I understand the need to serve it on the rare side. However, I'm afraid this course of duck breast was too rare. Still very tasty but when my plate came out the blood from the duck breast had run all over the plate and made for a less than desirable presentation. I would have thought that the chef or server would have taken the time to clean up the plate before presenting it, but unfortunately it wasn't so. This was the only course of the five that I didn't love the presentation. This course was served with the 2008 Qupe' "Sawyer-Linquist Vineyard" Grenache.

Qupe' Grenache 2008

The 2008 Sawyer-Linquist Grenache was brought to the table and served with the aforementioned duck breast. Now in full disclosure I have to admit that I hardly ever, and I mean ever, drink Grenache. I much prefer a Pinot Noir or something more full bodied than most Grenache. That being said I'll continue with my review. Once the Grenache was poured I noted that it was a light ruby red and not as full bodied looking as I like in a red wine. On the nose I picked up blackberry and raspberry tones with a little spice, maybe pepper? As I swirled the first mouthful I tasted more of a strawberry tone mixed with just a slight touch of oak. The finish was slightly tannin. I gave this one 3 corkscrews as it just didn't have the full bodied flavor that I like, to be totally honest. If you like a red that is a little less full bodied, this might be the wine for you. As it retails for about $35/bottle I probably won't be drinking it anytime in the near future.

The fifth, and final, course was a slow cooked lamb shank with melted eggplant, a cardamom yogurt with black olive puree.First off another disclosure. I hate black olives and any hint of black olives! There, I said it. The lamb shank, on its own, was nicely prepared and melted in the mouth. Melted eggplant I didn't really get and didn't think it added very much to the dish. Anything that came in contact with the black olives I automatically took a pass on. Did I mention that I really don't like black olives? This course was presented well, I can say that. The final two glasses of Qupe' were the "Bien Nacida Hillside Estate" Syrah vintages 2001 and 2006.

Qupe' Bien Nacida Hillside Estate Syrah 2001

The 2001 Syrah arrived at our table and exhibited a dark, ruby red color. After swirling I picked up hints of raspberry and chocolate on the nose. On the palate very little to note other than a little bitterness and a little more tannin than I prefer. Hate to say it but it seemed a little plain and pedestrian to me. I gave it 2 corkscrews because it wasn't terrible it just wasn't memorable. Saw this one on sale on one of the internet wine sites for $26/bottle. Overpriced.

Qupe' Bien Nacida Hillside Estate Syrah 2006

The 2006 Syrah was a little better than the 01. This one had a nice, fruit forward nose with a little hint of allspice. On the palate a somewhat one dimensional wine with mostly blueberry and a hint of oak noted. Not much to say about the finish. This one gets 2 corkscrews as well. This one retails from $30-40/bottle. Overpriced!

The evening was topped off with some "mignardises" which are basically some tiny one-bites masquerading as desserts. One was a little macaroon type of chocolate deal that wasn't too bad while the other was a coffee infused marshmallow type of thing that didn't do a whole lot for me. None the less it was a nice evening in a quaint setting with some great friends who just happen to also be our neighbors. Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

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Qupe' and The Ashby Inn - First and Second Courses

Date: Sun, Sep 18, 2011 Wine Tasting

After a long lay off from the old wine site here, I'm coming back with a vengeance. Last night #1 and I had the opportunity to attend a wine dinner at The Ashby Inn in beautiful Paris,Virginia. Now we've never stayed at this lovely little B & B but friends of ours have and just rave about it, and the setting and grounds are exquisite. This wine dinner featured the wines of the Qupe' vineyard located in California's Central Coast. To be honest with you I wasn't familiar with this vineyard and their wines but I'm glad I've discovered them. They are definitely not in the under $10 category but more of a special occasion wine with the majority of them in the $17 - $55 range and topping out at $100 for one of their Syrah's. If you're ever in the Washington, D.C. area it is well worth the trip west, about 40 miles or so, to have a meal in this quaint inn and experience the peacefulness of the surrounding countryside. Now more about the dinner and the wines that accompanied each course:

Bien Nacido Cu
vee Viognier-Chardonnay

This 2009 vintage Viognier-Chardonnay mix was served with a variety of different finger food items that included a unique prosciutto wrapped pretzel stick with a spicy type mustard inside. Very different and tasty. This wine had a very nice nose with lots of floral and fruit picked up. Reminded me of a fruit orchard at harvest time. No oak picked up on the nose at all although I'm told this is aged in old oak barrels. A 50/50 mix of chardonnay and viognier the acidity was nicely balanced on the palate. This wine could easily be enjoyed by itself but was a great accompaniment to the first course. I gave this wine four corkscrews due to its excellent nose and burst of flavor on the tongue. This retails for around $20 so not a wine I would probably drink on a daily basis or even weekly basis.


The 2010 version of the Qupe Marsanne was served with a delightful dish that consisted of chilled shrimp very lightly poached, that had sorrel and saffron onion petals along with crispy heads. What are crispy heads you ask? They are actually the head of the shrimp fried to a crispiness that turns them into something akin to a potato chip. Now I've eaten and prepared a lot of shrimp over the years but the heads always ended up in the garbage can. I hesitated momentarily as I decided whether this was meant to be eaten or just a garnishment. Having learned that it was meant to be eaten, I dug in. To my surprise it was actually quite tasty. So much so that I ate the second one on my plate and the two on my neighbor's plate as she passed on trying them. A nice dish all the way around. The Marsanne exhibited notes of citrus, hazelnut, butter and a little peach on the nose. On the palate I picked up more of the peach that I had picked up on the nose as well as a little more nuttiness. A good pairing with the shrimp dish although not my favorite of the night. Not that it was bad just not quite as tasty as the Viognier-Chardonnay that we'd had with the first course. This also retails in the $20 per bottle range so another one that I wouldn't drink on a regular basis. I really need to open a wine shop so I can start buying at wholesale!
Stay tuned for the rest of my review of this five course wine dinner in the coming days.
Sit Long, Talk Much, Laugh Often, Drink Wine!

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