Nine Points Meritage is a sleeper. Not only is it hard to find out any information about Nine Points Winery, but the wine itself is quite bland at first sip. Fortunately, I kept it open for a while, and after a very long breathing period the wine came into its own. This Meritage has a dark ruby color and a ripe cherry nose with faint woody and floral notes. On the palate, it's jammy and complex, with a long, slightly peppery, finish.
It turns out that Nine Points is an offshoot of the well-regarded Stags Leap winery. Reviews around the Web have been quite good. The Cork Scrooge comments, "This wine could easily be mistaken for being $25 to $30 or more per bottle." WineKnow called it a "pleasant, easy drinking, red Bordeaux-style meritage, with dark likeable fruity flavors soft tannins and a velvety finish."
If you can find Nine Points Meritage 2006, pick up a bottle. It's an amazing value. And, if it doesn't delight at first, give it some more air.
We've known that red wine confers health benefits for years, but here's a new one: researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, led by Charis Eng, MD, Ph.D., Chair of the Genomic Medicine Institute, have found that red wine boosts the effects of a common drug used to treat breast cancer. The drug is rapamycin, and the compound in the wine is, of course, resveratrol. The latter compound seems to be the active ingredient in red wine that drives most of its health benefits.
Maker: Chateau Diana, Healdsburg, California
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 750 ml bottle
Our Rating: 8.9 out of 10
A name like Seriously Good Wine Chalk Hill Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 sets seriously high expectations, even though it's an inexpensive wine. Seriously, though, this Cab does a reasonable job of living up to those expectations. The berry aroma was unremarkable, but the wine was more interesting on the palate. It started with bright cherry and chocolate notes and finished with robust but well-balanced tannins. The wine was accessible but not overly simple.
We're all used to food pairing with wine, but how about paintings and wine? I ran across an interesting article, Paintings and Wine......Why Not!? The post focused on the opening of a new art & wine shop in Kirkland, WA, Palettes and Pairings. In this shop, the patrons can create the art themselves while enjoying wine and appetizers. Clever idea, particularly if you need a glass or two to release your artistic side!
First, we ran across this factoid: about 630 grapes go into making a typical 750ml bottle. The statistic comes from Terry Armentor of Heck Estates, owner of Valley of the Moon winery, Kenwood Vineyard, Lake Sonoma Winery and Korbel as reported here.
Another calculation from Eno Wines estimates that the number of grapes used to make a bottle is in the 440-660 range.
149 Grapes in Your Glass
If we stick with the 630 number, it means each glass of wine takes 126 grapes to make, assuming you pour five glasses from a bottle. That's about a 5-ounce pour. A more generous 6-ounce pour translates into 149 grapes.
New sales data shows tht Malbec is officially the hottest wine export from Argentina:
Malbec stood for 40.1% of the volume of bottled wine exports during 2010 (this percentage was 34% in 2009). Except in The Netherlands (Chardonnay) and Paraguay (blend red wines), Malbec was the leader variety in the main 25 destinations, with high share percentages on the total, which in most cases is higher than 30%. For instance, in United States, 60% of the volume was for Malbec, while this figure amounted to 48% in Switzerland, 47% in Mexico and 37% in Peru. [From Malbec keeps on breaking records by Gabriela Marizia.]
From our perspective here at Box Wines, that trend makes a lot of sense. Malbecs are easy-drinking and usually (though not always) inexpensive. More importantly, it seems that even sub-$10 Malbecs are often quite drinkable. With the US economy still in recovery mode in 2010, good but inexpensive wines are a logical choice.
And, lovers of boxed wine can enjoy Malbec, too. We found Vaca Morada Malbec in a 3 liter box - .at around $4 per bottle, it's a great value. This trend was evident last year, too, as reported in Malbec Crushing Other Grapes.
Tom Wark's Fermentation blog recently suggested that the wine industry increase its appeal by doing national advertising with a pitchman like well-regarded actor George Clooney. The key elements of Wark's proposed strategy are,
1. Every sector of the wine industry would need to pitch in (wineries, retailers, importers, wholesalers)
2. No region and no variety and no country should be highlighted
3. The TV creative must translate seamlessly into a print and on-line campaign.
The first two parts of that would seem to be potential blockers - getting everyone in the diverse wine industry to sign on would be a real challenge.
This provocative post got me thinking, though - would it be possible to launch a similar, smaller scale campaign to boost acceptance of box wines?
One has to hope that a wine called The Ball Buster 2008 from Tait Wines would somehow live up to that name. Fortunately, this wine does. Its color is impressively dark, an inky purple that is almost black. It has an intense ripe berry and tobacco aroma, but even that doesn't prepare you for the huge blueberry, plum, cocoa, and pepper blast to the palate. The fruit predominates. The finish is a little oaky with soft tannins. This wine reminds me of a big California Zinfandel - lots of complex fruit and relatively high alcohol content.
The Ball Buster is a blend of 77% Shiraz, 12% Merlot, and 11% Cabernet Sauvignon. Around the Web, wine bloggers liked this wine. The Weekly Wine Journal described it as, "almost like a liqueur with a very ripe blackberry flavor." Thursday Happy Hour said The Ball Buster "went with everything from my prime rib, to pasta, roast chicken, and grilled sausage—a fantastic bottle to share over dinner." The oddly named Drinking my way through Trader Joe's Wine and Beyond... said, "I'm going to rave about this wine, because it is a total contradiction and I love contradictions."
If you like big, bold, fruity reds, The Ball Buster 2008 from Tait Wines is a great choice and a superb value.
Maker: San Marcos Winery, Almendralejo, Extremadura, Spain
Packaging: 3-liter box
Our Rating: 8.3 out of 10
Slowly but surely, more interesting boxed wines are appearing on store shelves. A good example is Campobarro Tempranillo (non-vintage) from Spain. This is the first Spanish Tempranillo I've seen in a box. Like many inexpensive Tempranillos, this is a fine, if undistinguished, table wine. It has a fruity nose, with red berries and medium tannins on the palate. It's not overly complex and the finish isn't memorable, but for the equivalent of less than six bucks a bottle it's very drinkable.
The wine is labeled as "Vino de la Tierra Extremadura," indicating that it is from the Extremadura region of western Spain. The winery seems to be Bodega San Marcos, and the importer San Antonio-based Makin Wines International. The San Marcos website doesn't reveal too much about the winery, sadly, and I haven't seen any other boxed products from them.
Don't expect to wow your oenophile friends with this one, but if you are looking for a chance of pace from the more common-seen boxes of California Cabs and Australian Shirazes, Campobarro Tempranillo may be just the ticket.
Chocolate, of course, tends to be sweet. To pair with a red wine takes some creativity, and sticking with dark chocolate will help. Dark chocolate is much less sweet than milk chocolate, and might pair well with a red toward the fruitier end of the spectrum. A fruity red Zinfandel would work nicely, or, if you can find one, a Cabernet Sauvignon that leads with berry flavors and isn't too dry.
A dark chocolate and red wine pairing has something beyond flavor going for it: both are considered heart-healthy food items.
If you absolutely must go with milk chocolate, a dessert wine like a Sherry or Ruby Port would work best. You might try a Merlot from the sweeter end of the spectrum, though I'd expect the creamy sweetness of the chocolate to clash with even fruity Merlots and Syrahs.
Of course, if you are giving a gift, you can always combine wine and chocolate even if you don't plan to consume them side by side.