Monthly Archives: September 2007

Valley of the Moon Zinfandel 2004

Valley of the Moon ZinfandelPrice: $15
Maker: Valley of the Moon Winery, Glen Ellen, California
Varietal: Zinfandel
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 15%
Our Rating: 9 out of 10

Valley of the Moon Zinfandel 2004 was a find on a recent trip to a Chicago suburb, where we stumbled across a WineStyles outlet. We’re glad we stopped, because this Zin has a lot going for it. The nose is nice but not overwhelming – berry aromas mixed with oak and vanilla. The wine really explodes on the palate, though. Lush, jammy raspberries and strawberries give this Zin its fruit-forward character, while soft tannins and a bit of oak provide a lengthy finish.

According to the Valley of the Moon website, the winery has been in operation since 1863. At one point in the winery’s history, it was owned by Senator George Hurst, father of William Randolph Hearst. This is a wine that the publishing magnate himself might have been happy to serve his celebrity guests at San Simeon.

Hardy’s Shiraz 2006

Hardy's Shiraz 2006Price: $15
Maker: Hardy’s
Varietal: Shiraz
Packaging: 3 liter box, push-button spigot
Alcohol: 13.5%
Our Rating: 8 out of 10

Hardy’s Shiraz 2006 is an adequate if unspectacular boxed wine. It has a nice aroma of spice and licorice. The flavor is rounded and fruity, but not all that complex. The fruit has an unusual prune character along with some cherries; there’s oak and faint pepper in the finish. This wine isn’t offensive, but it kind of fails to excite.

This is part of Hardy’s Stamp of Australia series:

Hardys Stamp of Australia offers one of Australia’s most popular, easy to drink range of wines. Stamp of Australia continues the tradition of fine winemaking that Hardys have become recognised for throughout the world, by offering great wine at an affordable price. The Stamp range is identified by the original Australian postage stamp, dating back to 1937, which is featured on all Stamp of Australia wines.

Would we serve this Shiraz with a fine dinner? Probably not. Would we use it for party fare, or glass-of-red-wine-a-day drinking? Sure.

Manyana Tempranillo 2005

Manyana TempranilloPrice: $7
Maker: Bodegas San Valero Soc. Coop, CariƱena, Spain
Varietal: Tempranillo
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 12.5%
Our Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Manyana Tempranillo 2005 is a surprisingly light shade of red in the glass, and has a mild fruit nose with berries and licorice. The wine is light-bodied, starting with cherries and strawberries leading into a moderately dry finish. This wine wasn’t particularly to my taste – light, dry reds just aren’t in my sweet spot (no pun intended, of course).

Manyana Tempranillo is imported by the ubiquitous Prestige Wine Group – they also offer a Crianza and a Shiraz from this winery.

Bocce Zinfandel 2004

Bocce ZinfandelPrice: $9
Maker: Bocce Cellars, Graton, California
Varietal: Zinfandel
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, artificial cork
Alcohol: 13.9%
Our Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Bocce Zinfandel 2004 features a colorful, old fashioned label that is reminscent of the winery’s history and the Cesar Mondavi’s love of playing bocce. The wine has a pleasant nose with lots of blackberry, licorice, and spice. Its flavor is fruit-forward with cherries and blueberries, and a somewhat tannic finish. With time, the flavor deepened and the finish became longer and more pleasant. This Zin doesn’t excel in any single area – it’s not big, it’s not complex, and the finish is comparatively short – but the overall effect is very, very nice. Bocce Zinfandel is likable and a fine pairing with Marinara-based dishes.

We like the philosphy espoused by a member of the founding family, Rosa Mondavi: “Simply, Rosa believed that when offered wine, a friend or relative was being polite by consuming one glass. Two or three glasses, however, meant the wine was very good and you had truly done your job as a winemaker.” For more information about Bocce Winery and its products, as well as a full set of instructions on how to play the game of bocce, visit the winery’s website.

Alice White Lexia 2006

Alice White LexiaPrice: $2
Maker: Alice White, Woodbridge, California
Varietal: Lexia
Packaging: 175 ml bottle, screw cap
Alcohol: 10%
Our Rating: 8 out of 10

We picked up Alice White Lexia 2006 in one of the increasingly popular 175ml bottles that one finds in four packs or even in dump bins in supermarkets. It’s a convenient package for solo wine drinkers who find it difficult to finish a whole bottle before it starts to decline, and handy for situations where people can’t agree on the same wine. This Lexia (another name for Muscat of Alexandria) comes from South Eastern Australia and has aromas of peach and pineapple, with floral overtones. The fruitiness continues in the flavor, with sweet pineapple, melon, and apricot notes. There’s a hint of acidity in the finish, but a bit more would have added some welcome crispness. We paired Alice White Lexia with spicy Hunan chicken, and the combination worked nicely. If your taste runs to a sweet wine with tropical fruit flavors, you could do a lot worse.

Bloggers have mixed opinions on Alice White Lexia. Robert and Marjorie thought it like “a viognier with self-esteem problems” and found it “inoffensive but unfulfilling.” The Vinicode bought it by mistake, but loved the nose and found it a “sweet surprise.” Lyndon at Words Less Spoken expected a dry wine, but found its sweet nature refreshing for hot weather drinking. Chloe, meanwhile, compared Alice White Lexia to “a mixture of Chanel no 5 and pears” and wasn’t keen on the wine’s minimal alcohol content. The Alice White reviews page lists some favorable press reaction to their Lexia.

Montevina Sierra Foothills Zinfandel 2003

Montevina Sierra Foothills ZinfandelPrice: $7
Maker: Montevina Winery, Plymouth, Amador County, California
Varietal: Zinfandel
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 14.2%
Our Rating: 8.5 out of 10

The winery presents Montevina Sierra Foothills Zinfandel 2003 as a fun, informal wine, describing it as a “perfect complement to everyday celebrations like balanced checkbooks, successfully parked cars, and Wednesday evenings.” (Don’t forget to complete the parking job and exit the car before starting the celebration!) This Zin has a beautiful ruby red color, and a nose with raspberries and licorice. The flavor is nicely structured, with pleasant red berry notes and a long-lasting finish with chewy tannins. A bit more complexity would make this Zin even more attractive, but the structure and fruitiness make for a very pleasant experience.

You might enjoy visiting the Montevina website – it’s a bit heavy on animation and short on content, but worth a look.

This isn’t the most spectacular Zin we’ve tasted, but for under $10 we’d rate it a nice bargain.