Tag Archive for 'inexpensive wine'

Alice White Red Lexia

Alice White Red LexiaAlice White Red Lexia
SE Australia, 2008, $6.00 for 750ml, 10% Alc.
Blush/Rose Wine (Muscat)

I’m on a roll with Muscat wine!  I discovered this particular treat while taking a little beach vacation on the Alabama Gulf Coast, and I have to say, it is the perfect quaff for a windy, sunny afternoon. 

I had originally thought that “Lexia” was a variety of Vitis vinifera, much like Zinfandel or Chardonnay, but upon researching further, discovered that Lexia (which comes in both white and red varietals) is actually make from the Muscat (see AWS’ review on Beringer Moscato for more info on this tasty grape).

Much like White Zinfandel or White Shiraz varietals, Alice White’s Red Lexia is crisp, pleasantly sweet (although not as much so as the white muscat varietals I’ve tasted) and just tart enough to keep things interesting.  Although I don’t know enough about this wine to speak with authority, I am guessing from the bright, transparent red hue and lack of tannins that the Red Lexia is made much like a White Zin or White Shiraz as well — that is to say, that the juice from the red skins is separated in the early stages of vatting, leaving a pleasant rose color but retaining the crisp, freshness of the juice without the heavier tannins and flavor that the skin itself bring. 

 Bottom line:  If you’re in the mood for a chilled, summery wine of medium sweetness, I’d definitely give Alice White’s Red Lexia a try.

wine’s website:  http://www.alicewhite.com/wines/redlexia.asp

Liberty Creek Cabernet Sauvignon

Liberty Creek Cabernet SauvignonLiberty Creek Cabernet Sauvignon
(no vintage) California $8.00 for 1.5 L
(Red Wine)

I’ve tried to think of something great to say about Liberty Creek’s Cabernet Sauvignon.But, I just can’t.

It’s not horrible; it’s just not that good.For a Cabernet, this wine is missing some umph.

It’s higher in acidity than a lot of Cabernet and rather thin-bodied.It tastes like the wine has been watered down a bit, and the tannins left a lot to be desired as well.In fact, I had trouble locating them.

The overall flavor of this Cabernet was a bit one-dimensional and I was left feeling like someone forgot to put half of the wine’s flavor into the bottle.Does that make sense?

Bottom line, Liberty Creek Cabernet Sauvignon is not a repulsive wine and for the price, some might want to at least give it a try. But, if you are desiring a layered and full-flavored experience, don’t take a dip in Liberty Creek.

Website: Update: At the time this review was written, no website could be found.  A reader has since informed me that one now exists.  It is LibertyCreekWine.com

Marcus James Merlot

Marcus James MerlotMarcus James Merlot

2005 Mendoza Argentina. $4.25 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

Normally, I prefer Cabernet Sauvignon to Merlot. I just like that extra bite that Cabernet offers. But in this case, I preferred the Marcus James 2005 Merlot to my earlier tasting of the Marcus James Cabernet Sauvignon 2006.

How so? Well, as my previous review mentions, the Cabernet version had an underlying acetic acid flavor that rendered the experience unpleasant. Not the case with this Merlot. It was smooth, a tiny bit tangy (in a good way) and full of round, plumy flavors. I was quite surprised to discover how much I liked it.

Bottom line? The 2005 Marcus James Merlot is a bargain. For the price, I challenge you to find a better tasting Merlot. Actually, I hope you do. And if so, I hope you tell me about it. After all, anti-wine-snobs need to stick together….

wine’s website: couldn’t find

Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz

Lindemans Bin 50 ShirazLindemans Bin 50 Shiraz
2005 SE Australia $7.35 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

Lindemans enjoys an excellent reputation for quality, affordable wines and the Bin 50 Shiraz is another illustration of why.

Intrigued a bit by this company, I checked out Lindemans’ website and read that Dr. Henry Lindeman decided to start a vineyard back in the 1800’s as a means to provide quality, everyday wines for everyday folks. Hmm. Sounds like he might have been an antiwinesnob….

Whatever the case, the Bin 50 Shiraz demonstrates a quality (of the wine) to quantity (in the cost) ratio that would be nice to be found more often.

This wine is full bodied and higher on the acidity than many Shiraz. And, it has a nice “dusty” amount of tannins; just enough to give it some substance, but otherwise, it lets the higher acid flavors of berries-mixed with a bit of woodiness–do the talking. The result is a deep, rich, luscious liquid that I very much appreciate. It is a yummy sipper all on its own or as an accompaniment to a meal.

Bottom line? The 2005 Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz is a very good bargain. Thanks Dr. Henry for thinking of us antiwinesnobs way back when!

wine’s website: www.lindemans.com

Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir

Pepperwood Grove Pinot NoirPepperwood Grove Pinot Noir

2006,Valle Central, Chile. $7.65 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

Here’s a curious situation: I was all ready to do some research on the Valle Central region of Chile for your (and my own) edification, and I should probably still do this….

But I thought I should check out Pepperwood’s website first. So I googled the brand and perused their history.

Apparently, the company that produces Pepperwood Grove started off with an Italian immigrant named Samuele who moved to California and began a winery at the start of the 20th century. The business passed down the family line and today, the “3 Loose Screws Wine Company” produces varietal wines under an assorted number of brands such as Smoking Loon, Pepperwood Grove and Screw Kappa Napa.

How cozy, right? Well, I’m sure it is, but what confuses me is that my wine says, “Valle Central, Chile.” On the website, the “Three Loose Screws Wine Company” avers their Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir ( with “notes of rose water and cherry preserves”) as having been grown in the [very specific?] appellation of “California”.

Is it just me, or does there seem to be another continent involved on my bottle of wine?

I researched the Pepperwood Pinot (“PP”) some more and found other reviews of the PP hailing from Italy, Australia and (of course) California. Huh.

In any case, whether the wine is from Australia, Chile, Italy, California or the tundra of Siberia, what I’m here to do is tell you of the taste. And I don’t take my duty lightly. So I put away the globe, uncorked the Pinot, poured a glass and gave it a sniff. The smell was actually not to my liking. It smelled a bit sour or tart.Moving on, I took a sip. The flavor was much more pleasant than the smell and had a bit more body than I expected. There was an undercurrent of sweetness to the wine that I’m not sure if I cared for or not, but there was also a pleasant bite of acidity and a deeper taste that left me interested. And while the Pepperwood Pinot tasting notes cited a gamut of cherry, rose water, plum, clove, strawberry and “earthy tones” flavors, I don’t think I caught all of that. Honestly, I don’t think this wine was that complex.

Bottom line? The 2006 Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir from Valle Central, Chile isn’t bad if you’re not expecting anything in particular. I’m not a big Pinot fan, but I get the feeling that if I were, I might be rather disappointed. However, if you’re just interested in trying different wines and are curious, I say give it a try. It’s certainly not one of my favorites, but, for the price, it’s worth the experience I think.

Besides, it’s kind of a sci-fi, Doctor-Who moment to be drinking a wine labeled from Chile, only to find no trace of such a thing on its own website…. Do you think there is a conspiracy involved?

wine’s website: www.donsebastianiandsons.com

JackaRoo Big Red (Cabernet, Merlot and Shiraz blend)

Jackaroo Big RedJackaRoo Big Red
2003, SE Australia, $7.35 for 750 ml
(49% Cab, 44% Shiraz, 7% Merlot)
(Red Wine)

According to my Google search, “Jackaroo” is an Australian term for an apprentice on a cattle station or ranch…. Well, that makes me want to say something cutesy involving Australian slang and barbecue, but I shall refrain from doing so. You’re welcome.

In short, “Big Red” is a good description for this JackaRoo wine. While it doesn’t have a lot of depth, it is full of easygoing, juicy, round flavors, and it also has a good dose of tannins that save the wine from simply tasting like a fat, fermented grape.

The tasting notes cite flavors of blackberry, spicy aromas and a hint of vanilla oak. The Big Red did have a plump, berryness that I can see described as blackberry, and I did get the vanilla oak flavor (more oak than vanilla), but honestly, I would never describe the aroma of this wine as “spicy.” It just isn’t.

While I would have said that this wine was okay (not great, but okay), unfortunately, my Big Red had an undercurrent of unpleasant spoiled, nutty flavors that tasted as though it had not been properly sealed. In other words, it tasted oxidized. I don’t know if this is a problem with all JackaRoo Big Reds, or just a flaw in the bottling that I happened upon.

Bottom line? While the JackaRoo has potential, the flavors I found were ruined by the funky, old taste of oxidization. For the price, I have found other wines that have a bit more depth and taste much fresher. Sorry, apprentice. I think you’re fired.

wine’s website: couldn’t find

Calina Reserva Merlot

Calina Reserva MerlotCalina Reserva Merlot

2006 Valle Del Maule, Chile. $8.00 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

Oh, my goodness. This Merlot is sip-licious.

And, thank heavens–I was beginning to get worried as I’ve had to post some rather negative reviews lately, but this wine has restored my faith in inexpensive grape juice.

The Calina Reserva Merlot is a luscious, dark red-purple nectar with a round, full-bodied balance of juicy blackberryness, firm tannins and a perfect bite of acidity.


This one’s great to sip on its own or with dinner. And, the bottle is pretty.

I liked this wine so much that I decided to take a little field trip to its website. In addition to providing some helpful information on all of their wines, the site also has a fun, interactive diagram that illustrates the wine making process. If you’re new to wine, you might want to check it out. The site is simple and friendly.

Bottom line? Loved it. Even if you’re one of those folks who typically eschew Merlot, I would recommend you give the Calina Reserva a try and see what you think. Who knows? You might be converted.

wine’s website: www.calina.com

Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon

Barefoot Cabernet SauvignonBarefoot Cabernet Sauvignon

(no vintage) California. $5.50 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

This wine has won a lot of awards and I can understand why.

For the price alone, there are obvious reasons to appreciate its existence. But when you taste the rich, smooth round flavor with just enough kick in it from tannins and acidity (have you checked out my article on this subject?), you’ll be a little surprised that so much flavor was condensed into a bottle for such little cost.

I thought the fruit flavors where pleasant but I had trouble singling out any particular fruit on my own. Thanks to the bottle’s tasting notes, however, I can tell you that it has been described as “jammy” with “wild berry” and “currant” flavors with hints of oak and clove. Hmm. “Jammy” is usually used as an insult in wine to describe a lack of structure….

In any case, I did get the fruity berry and currant flavors, but in regards to it being jammy, I thought there was enough acidity mixed with it to keep the flavors from falling flat.

I also caught a little of the oak flavor, which makes sense since it was most likely aged in an oak barrel.

But cloves? Not so much for me, anyway.

Bottom line? I’ll be getting this one again.

wine’s website: www.barefootwine.com

Yellow Tail Shiraz

Yellow Tail Shiraz wine[yellow tail] Shiraz

2006. Southeast Australia. $7.00 for 750 ml
(Red Wine)

Here’s something that you might have wondered for a while: Syrah (originally from France) and Shiraz (from Australia) are the same grape. Shiraz is also the most widely grown variety in Australia (smart folks, those Aussies are!).

Lots of other places like California and Washington make Syrah/Shiraz, too, and depending on whether or not the wine will have a more Aussie-angle or a more Franco-flair will decide the spelling of the grape. Kind of fun, right?

The Australian style has often been described as “plump”, “dense” or “juicy” while the Franco version seems to be defined as more restrained and peppery. While I would agree that the Australian Shiraz is plump, dense, juicy and then some, I’ve really no idea if the French style Syrah description is accurate as I’ve never had much opportunity to really sample these. While I’ve no doubt the Syrah are delicious, I have to say, I’ve grown quite fond of the Australian style!

The Yellow Tail Shiraz seems to be very popular red wine, so I thought I would give it an audition on my taste buds. Maybe it was the expectation after hearing so much about the Yellow Tail Shiraz, but, while I did think it was a good wine, I like the Yellow Tail Cabernet better.
I think this is why: The smell isn’t super strong but a sip of it is. I think it’s more of a high tannin and alcohol flavor than anything else. Those flavors overpowered the cherry and blackcurrant, slightly sweet flavor behind it and left me feeling a bit confused. It seemed a bit tongue-drying to a point where I felt like I couldn’t taste anything else.

Now, this description sounds very negative, so I’d like to have a little disclaimer here. I still think this is a good wine and it’s also a great price. Others really really seem to like it, so it’s certainly worth a try to see what you think. Also, like all wine, what one eats (or doesn’t eat) while drinking it changes the whole experience. Because of that tanniny, alcoholy flavor, I might have had a very different experience if I’d had a rich meal with my wine to help balance things out. In fact, I think I’ll have to try it again, only this time, with some sharp cheddar cheese or a bit of steak.

Bottom line? It’s certainly worth a try but I would recommend having it with foods.

wine’s website: www.yellowtailwine.com

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