Tag Archive for 'Inexpensive Red Wine'

Fetzer Valley Oaks Cabernet Sauvignon

Fetzer Cabernet SauvignonFetzer Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
2006, Valley Oaks, Mendocino CA, $8.99 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

This is my new favorite wine under $10.00.  It has a depth to it that really sets it apart from other wines reviewed so far.  In fact, I liked the Fetzer Cabernet Sauvignon so much that I also tried the Fetzer Merlot and Fetzer Pinot Noir.  While both were tasty, neither held the combination of deep, earthy taste combined with a nice bite of acidity and the pucker of tannins that the Cabernet Sauvignon offers.  (But, both the Merlot and the Pinot are still definitely worth a try!)

The Fetzer Cabernet Sauvignon has an unusual, rolling flavor to it that really distinguishes itself from comparably priced beverages (and I’m sure more expensive ones, too).  I tried to put a finger on it, but I’m not sure how to describe it.  It’s medium to high on both tannin and acidity levels (which I actually prefer) but there is also a deep, earthy, rich, vanilla-oakiness that creates dimension and adds contrast and balance to the sharp bite of acid and the drying effect of the tannins.    In short, it’s really, really good!

Bottom line?  Snatch this one up.  It’s delicious.

wine’s website:  http://www.fetzer.com

Delicato Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon
2005 Manteca, CA $5.50 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

The Delicato Cabernet Sauvignon is a medium-bodied wine imbued with blackcurrant flavor.

For the price, I found this vino to be a pretty good deal.

While it doesn’t have the rolling layers that many other Cabernet Sauvignon offer, I found the Delicato Cab to be pleasant and a little less demanding, too. The flavors were smooth enough to offer the versatility of a wine to be sipped alone or with dinner.

That said, I’ve had other similarly priced Cabernet Sauvignon (think: Little Penguin or Barefoot) that I enjoyed better.

Bottom line: For the price alone, the Delicato Cabernet Sauvignon is worth a try. However, given similarly priced options that I find to be more complex and interesting, I don’t have a compelling reason to buy this again.

wine’s website: www.delicato.com

Little Penguin Shiraz

Little Penguin Shirazthe Little Penguin Shiraz
2006 SE Australia $5.00 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)


The Little Penguin Shiraz packs a lot of flavor into such an inexpensive bottle. And, while its namesake might be the smallest species of penguin in the world (Little Penguins only weigh about 2.2 pounds!) this wine has a presence that’s anything but lightweight.

The color is velvety red and the taste reflects this opulence. Flavors of blackberry and oak—mixed with just a bit of spiciness—simply roll through your mouth (okay wine snobs, your palate) and leave you wanting more.

What’s not to like about this Shiraz? According to its website, it even helps support a penguin protection, rescue and rehabilitation group called The Penguin Foundation. Awww. Now, that just makes me feel even better about drinking this stuff. Am I a sucker for marketing or what?

Bottom line: Excellent wine for the price. And, it’s really fun to sip on while you research obscure facts about Little Penguins…. Did you know that they’re also called “Fairy Penguins” or that they often mate for life? Or that there are environmental groups that knit sweaters for them? Seriously. Or that their feathers are actually not black but blue? … Okay, I’ll stop.

wine’s website: www.thelittlepenguin.com

Bolla Valpolicella

Bolla ValpolicellaBolla Valpolicella

2005 Veneto Region Italy, $6.99 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

Near the fair city of Verona, grows a grape called Corvina. And like many other grapes in this region, it doesn’t even get credit for its wine on the label. Sigh.

In particular, the Corvina makes a red wine called Valpolicella, and while there are a number of variations on Valpolicella–such as Valpolicella Ripasso or Amarone di Valpolicella–I bought a bottle of plain old Valpolicella.

The color of this wine is a bright, cheerful red and the smell and taste pretty much echo that theme. The taste was bright, fruity and crisp and I actually could distinguish cherry–and a little raisin—flavor. The Bolla Valpolicella struck me as higher in acidity and with less of a body than a Cabernet or Shiraz. I’d probably call it a medium body, high acid/dry wine. It went really well with my pasta and red sauce and I enjoyed it with some cheddar as well.

The overall texture and flavor is not as round or smooth as other red wines due to the sharp, crispness of it. I think this is a great wine to eat with your classic spaghetti and red sauce or pizza. If you want something just to sip on its own, I might go for something a little mellower and round.

Bottom line: Good pasta-with-red-sauce-dinner kind of drink.

Wine’s website: www.bolla.com

Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon

Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Cabernet SauvignonWoodbridge by Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon

2006 California. $12.00 for 1.5 Liters (Red Wine)

I feel I must disclose that I haven’t found very many Cabernet Sauvignons that I didn’t like.

I know; I spread myself too thin.

Emotional issues aside, I have to say that one of the things I like most about Cabernet Sauvignon is that its got a wonderful tannin presence that really grips your tongue and makes you notice it. You can’t just casually sip most Cabernet Sauvignons and gaze vaguely at the bottle, wondering what exactly it is you’re drinking. No. A good Cabernet Sauvignon makes you pause after the first sip and give it a little consideration.

Now, I need to be honest: I tried this Cabernet a few weeks ago with no food at all and found that I had to give it too much consideration as the flavors and tannins were a bit overpowering. At that time, I made a note that this might be the case because I did not have any food to go along with it.

Not one to be deterred, I tried the Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon again, but this time, with some cold cuts and cheese.

Before taking a sip, I gave it a good sniff to see if I could distinguish any particular aromas. I was hoping I could impose an impressive soliloquy on its nose of smelt rubber and hints of durian or something. Alas, all I could really distinguish was a dark, fruity aroma wafting from the glass, along with a slight burn of alcohol.

I took a sip. The taste was thick in tannins and deep. Maybe just a little peppery and with a zing of mild to medium acidity. I also noticed a general flavor of black currants.

Overall, this time, I thought the Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon was pleasantly layered and complex and went very well with my tasty snacks. It had a presence to it that one generally encounters in a bit pricier wines, I think. And, it didn’t have that vegetable smell and flavor that I’ve unfortunately encountered in other similarly priced Cabs.

It was dark and bold and … firm.

Bottom line? The Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely a great wine to go along with meats and cheeses, but I wouldn’t recommend it for sipping without any accompaniments. The rich flavors and tannins need something to cling to and might otherwise overpower your tongue if it’s all by it’s lonesome self.

So, give it some company!

wine’s website: www.woodbridgewines.com

Papio Cabernet Sauvignon

Papio Cabernet SauvignonPapio Cabernet Sauvignon

California. $10.83 for 1.5 Liters
(Red Wine)

If you want some inexpensive wine for a party and don’t want to make your friends run gagging into the streets, this is a good find. In fact, I think a party is where this wine belongs as I would probably describe it as a sociable drink.

The Papio Cabernet Sauvignon is kind of like a polite guest: pleasant and enjoyable and without any extreme, attention-seeking qualities. It’s rounder, sweeter and gentler than most Cabernet Sauvignon and actually, much more like a Merlot. It has a nice mellow cherry flavor, but nothing too demanding. No striking tannins or acidity here.

See what I mean? Good party drink.

wine’s website: www.papiowines.com

Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon

Yellow Tail Cabernet Sauvignon[yellow tail] Cabernet Sauvignon

Southeast Australia. $7.00 for 750 ml (Red Wine)

I really like the Yellow Tail Cab.

It has a thick, round, blackcurrant flavor that is also (at least to me) slightly smoky … in a good way. I thought the tannin flavor and feel was well balanced; the wine has a smooth, deep flavor but with enough zing and grip in it to keep things interesting.

And, best of all, this wine is versatile. It’s very pleasant to sip all on its own, or to be paired with your favorite tapas.

Bottom line? This is a tasty and friendly Cabernet at a great price.

wine’s website: www.yellowtailwine.com

3 Blind Moose Cabernet Sauvignon

3 Blind Moose Cabernet Sauvignon

California (Woodbridge) $8.89 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

Some people call me cheap, but I prefer, frugal and unpretentious. So, for me, almost 9 bucks for a 750 ml bottle of wine was on the steeper end of things. Shut up and don’t laugh at me. I’m being serious.

My personal scruples being set aside, I thought the price of 3 Blind Moose Cabernet Sauvignon still reasonable enough to be included on this website. And, its got a cool name.

So how was it?

Well, I thought it smelled very strong of alcohol with an almost peppery scent. That said, the smell was pleasant and strong.

The taste was tannin-laden with what I can only describe as a sour black currant flavor. Now, I know I keep using black currant in my descriptions for (mostly) Cabernets, but the truth is, it really does taste like black currants. To me, much more so than other berry or fruit flavors. In 3 Blind Moose’s case however, it tasted like sour black currants; as in, slightly sour or bitter or unripe.

The website’s tasting notes describe the wine as having “flavors of dark berry, plum, chocolate, clove and spice”.

I don’t think I caught many of these unless, by dark berries, they mean black currants. In that case, yes, I scored a point. And maybe I sensed some plum and spice (I did detect a peppery smell at first).

Unfortunately, I really didn’t catch a hint of chocolate or clove.

Oh well.

The tasting notes also described the wine as being “medium-bodied, soft palate”. Now, I know what a soft palate is and, on a personal level, I’m familiar with my own. But I’m not sure what is meant when a wine is said to be “soft palate”. The notes don’t say that the wine will flow gently on my soft palate. No. Instead, the notes say the wine itself is soft palate.

This perplexes me.

Do they really mean that the wine itself is a mouth with a soft, fleshy area located near the oropharynx? I’m thinking probably not.

Do they mean that the wine rolls softly on my soft palate? I hope it does. I don’t want something hard on my soft palate, that would just be confusing.

Do they mean that the wine is gentle and smooth in one’s mouth and general-palate-area? I’m thinking probably. But in that case, they should say the wine is soft on one’s palate. Not that the wine is soft palate….

Still, I’m left scratching my head, poking my palate and wondering about the meaning of it all. More on this later, but for now, I’ll say that soft palates aside, 3 Blind Moose Cab did have a nice full flavor that I enjoyed. But for the price, next time, I’ll probably save almost 2 bucks and opt for a more inexpensive wine that I like better.

wine’s website: www.3blindmoose.com

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