Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009

Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009Price: $10
Winery: Grayson Cellars, St. Helena, California
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 13.9%
Our Rating: 9.1 out of 10

It’s not often that one gets a really nice Cab for a mere ten bucks, but Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (Lot 10) is one such wine. This Cab is a dark ruby color with licorice and cherry aromas. The flavor is rich and balanced, starting with ripe cherries and vanilla notes, and finishing with black pepper, robust tannins, and a little oak. The impression is of a more costly wine. Continue reading “Grayson Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon 2009”

Oops! $1 Million in Fancy Shiraz Lost

What’s one advantage of inexpensive wines? Well, if a forklift driver drops a load, you won’t be out a million bucks. That’s exactly what happened in Australia. 462 cases of 2010 Mollydooker Velvet Glove shiraz — worth about $200 for each and every bottle — were smashed while being loaded onto a ship in Adelaide. The bottles fell about 20 feet, which was enough to ensure total destruction.

The lost wine was about a third of the year’s production for that winery. (More.) It’s hard to imagine one forklift load of wine being worth $1 million, but those $200 bottles add up quickly. And, one assumes, it must have been a big forklift to lift 462 cases at once. Or perhaps not big enough.

A History of Zinfandel


Zinfandels are perhaps my favorite reds – particularly the big, bold, not overly sweet Zins that combine rich complexity with plenty of fruit. I enjoy Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Chianti, Bordeaux, and many other red wines, but somehow Zins are special. I was delighted to run across a wonderful chronicle of Zinfandel history at the Times & Transcript. I was surprised to learn that its American origins trace to New England before being transported to California in the 1850s. Although its origins seem to trace to Italy’s Primotivo grapes, it is considered an American varietal. Continue reading “A History of Zinfandel”


ChocovinePrice: $10
Origin: Holland
Importer: Clever Imports, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, screw cap
Alcohol: 14%

ChocoVine‘s label promises, “the taste of dutch chocolate and fine red wine.” It looks like a frappucino, or perhaps an Irish cream liqueur in a darker shade. The combination doesn’t sound very promising – I was expecting an evil mixture of Yahoo and Two Buck Chuck. In fact, ChocoVine is more like a liqueur, both in taste and texture. It’s sweet and creamy, with a mild chocolate flavor and a noticeable alcohol bite. The “finish” is a rather cloying coating on the tongue from the cream. Continue reading “ChocoVine”

Fall Creek Meritus 2006

Fall Creek MeritusPrice: $39
Maker: Fall Creek Vineyards, Tow, Texas
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot blend
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 15.9%
Our Rating: 9.3 out of 10

I pulled a bottle of Fall Creek Meritus 2006 off my shelf without knowing anything about it, other than the fact that it was prominently labeled as a Texas wine. That’s not necessarily the most promising introduction. When I uncorked it and tasted this blend, though, I was surprised in a big way. The wine was very dark garnet in color, and its aroma was mostly spicy with some tobacco and clove notes. The taste is what blew me away. This blend is BIG, with lots of black cherry and blackberry leading into an oaky finish with robust tannins. This wine really expands in the tasting, with a long finish.

Fall Creek describes their Meritus in this way: Continue reading “Fall Creek Meritus 2006”

Red Wine & Allergies

We’re used to hearing about red wine as the ultimate health food (see Wine and Dementia and Drink Red Wine, Live Longer, for example), but it turns out that there’s one area where its effects may be less than beneficial. Recent news articles suggest avoiding wine, and in particular red wine, if you suffer from allergies. Why? It turns out that red wine stimulates histamines and amplifies allergic reactions. Dr. Charles Owen, medical director of the Heart Hospital of Austin Emergency Department, is quoted in an article on by Kate Weidaw titled Wine could make allergies worse. Owen notes, Continue reading “Red Wine & Allergies”

Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Bogle Cabernet SauvignonPrice: $11
Maker: Bogle Vineyards, Graton, California
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 13.5%
Our Rating: 8.8 out of 10

I’ve had good luck with Bogle’s inexpensive wines, and Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 is no exception. It leads with ripe cherries, mixed with tobacco, chocolate, and spice. The finish has rich tannins, and the overall structure is very pleasing. For a wine in the $10 range, this Cab is actually amazing. Continue reading “Bogle Cabernet Sauvignon 2008”

Peregrine Hill Merlot 2006

Price: $11
Maker: Peregrine Hill, Fort Stockton, Texas
Varietal: Merlot
Packaging: 750 ml bottle, natural cork
Alcohol: 12%
Our Rating: 8.9 out of 10

A Texas Merlot? Peregrine Hill Merlot 2006 is just that, and does the Lone Star state proud. Despite having an unusually low alcohol content for a Merlot, this wine is long on flavor. It has a big raspberry and blackberry start, and segues into an oaky, peppery finish with tannins that are just enough to add to the complexity.

This is apparently a product of Ste. Genevieve Wines of Fort Stockton, Texas’s largest winery. From that page,

Their wines universally receive a great reception. The winery’s most decorated wine is the Sauvignon Blanc, a light, dry, white wine. The Ste. Genevieve Chardonnay continues to be one of their most popular.

Tompkins finds their wines fit all occasions. He explains, “The Ste. Genevieve label provides wines which range from casual table wines to those that can accompany fine meals, all at a good value.”

I can agree with the value part. This may not be a wine as big as Texas (few Merlots are), but it’s a good ambassador for the state.

Nine Points Meritage 2006

Nine Points MeritagePrice: $10
Maker: Chateau Diana, Healdsburg, California
Varietal: Meritage
Packaging: 750 ml bottle
Alcohol: 14%
Our Rating: 9.1 out of 10

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.