More Than Merlot - A guide to wine in the real world


August 1, 2013

Jaume Serra Cristalino Brut Cava

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Confession – I was in the copy room today when I overheard one of my coworkers talking about me to someone in another department. She was saying all good things, bless her, touting on the fact that I had my own wine website. “Really? She has her own WINE website?” said the other, quite impressed. Needless to say I was immediately guilt stricken. No one should be impressed with my site the way it has been treated lately. And by treated I mean ignored. So I immediately went out and picked up a new bottle to share with you! Derek has been working so hard lately with school and work and parenting and husbanding lately and I wanted to pick up a nice bottle of bubble to acknowledge him, so the timing actually worked out quite nicely.

The wine I selected is Jaume Serra Cristalino, a non-vintage Burt cava from Spain. I am not always a sucker for endorsements but this bottle had a sticker claiming that it was a Wine & Spirits Magazine Value Brand of the Year award winner, and seeing as I love all things Spain I thought it was worth a shot.

I love this cava, it’s dry and very crisp. Very soft with a lovely hint of citrus. Nothing remarkable about its flavor profile, but that’s kind of the genious in it – this wine could pair with practically anything! Fantastic with the grilled zucchini and Greek chicken and feta burgers we had for dinner, and also fantastic with the rich cannoli and peanut butter explosion cupcakes we had for dessert! Did I mention I’m on an eating plan? Doing great during the day but when I get home apparently I’m not doing all that well. Add on top if that the fact that Derek just got home after a week away and I feel I need to overcompensate, oh goodness… But anyway, eating plan or not I think this is a great wine and at only $7.99 a bottle it is a home run and a definite buy-again. Just don’t tell Derek that his “acknowledgement” wine was only 8 bucks, ok? He deserves Grand Dame 8 days a week, but for some reason that doesn’t work with my current wine budget.

If you see a bottle of Jaume Serra Cristalino, pick it up and let me know what you think! And to my coworkers, thank you for your praise and inspiration. Hasta la proxima, salud!!





March 28, 2013

DeLoche Zinfandel

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While picking up a few things at Derby Street over my lunch break yesterday, I noticed a sign on the door of Ralph’s Derby Street Wine & Liquor that said, “Moving Sale, 20% matched or mixed cases!”  Naturally I had to stop in for a moment…  I greeted the gentleman working there and told him I’d love to pick up a case of mixed wines in the $12 per bottle range and that I had about 5 minutes left on my break.  Challenge accepted!  He grabbed a cart and we started rolling all over the store, it was the most fun wine buying experience of my life!  I came home with 12 different bottles and I am SO excited to share the results of my purchase with you as we make our way through them…


The grand haul - 12 bottles for only $127!


For dinner I had cooked a delicious Balsamic Roast Beef in the slow cooker and whipped up some mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus for sides, so we wanted something bold and tangy that could hold up to the flavors of the meal.  We decided to start with a Zinfandel.  

DeLoche 2011 Zinfandel

The bottle we opened was a 2011 DeLoche Zinfandel from Boisset Family Estates in California.  Oh my word – this was a good Zin!  Bright red cherry and a nice apricot on the finish.  The tasting notes on the Boisset website also identified raisin and vanilla, I was glad to have read the notes during our tasting so that I could find these notes myself as I never think to taste for raisin but it was absolutely there once I dug a little deeper.  The DeLoche definitely had the tang we were looking for and paired very well with the Balsamic flavor of the beef.  I really enjoyed it and am excited about the other DeLoche wines I picked up in my mixed case (a Pinot and a Chard).  At $12.99 this wine was a great buy, factor in the 20% discount and it was a steal!  Swing by Ralph’s if you’re in the area and pick some up for yourself, it will be worth the trip!  1 down, 11 to go…




March 20, 2013

Chateau Ste Michelle Chardonnay

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Happy Wednesday, everyone! It feels like this week is really flying by, but I suppose that’s what happens when you’re out of the office Thursday through Monday… I have a new favorite wine that I’ve been wanting to tell you about for some time, 2011 Chateau Ste Michelle from Columbia Valley, WA.

  I first discovered this bottle at Whole Foods on sale for $9.99. I picked one up and loved it immediately. A Chardonnay for sure but with just a hint of oak, perfect for the “I drink everything but Chardonnay” wine drinker who is afraid of overly toasty tones. I found Chateau Ste Michelle light and refreshing while being just heavy enough for winter white wine drinking. Nice green apple notes with a hint of citrus highlighted by that mild oak I mentioned. Have I told you that I just haven’t been into Sauv Blanc’s and Pinot Grigio’s lately? Nothing overly citrusy is appealing to me for some reason so I’ve been relying rather heavily on Chard for my white wine fix. This is my favorite of the new Chards I’ve tried by far. Best part – I found it at the liquor store down the street for only $7.99! I highly recommend trying this wine, and as always let me know if you discover any other exciting new wines that I should check out! Until next time, cheers!

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Interesting Whites

March 19, 2013

Haut Marin Gros Manseng

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Greetings, ‘yall!  Sorry, just got back from a week in the south…  I have an exciting wine to tell you about, Haut Marin Gros Manseng from the Côtes de Gascogne region in the south west of France (just below Bordeaux).  Part of what makes this wine so exciting is the fact that I found it and confirmed its existence!  My father found this wine at a little botique market, The Golden Goose, near his office downtown.  He raved about it and told me he was trying to buy it by the case but that his “wine guy” kept coming up short.  He told me the name of the wine, Haut Mansin, and I had never heard of it.  Then he told me the varietal, Gros Manseng, and I had never heard of that, either!  I was beginning to think Dad was confused or just making things up, but then we walked into a little store in Hilton Head on our way to my sister’s house and low and behold there was a case of Haut Marin Gros Manseng on display right at the front of the store!  We started chatting with the owner (who was from Andover of all places, small world!) and he said that the people in the development near the store (Moss Creek, a super exclusive golf and tennis community) LOVED it and bought it by the case all the time.  He also explained that the distributor in Charleston, SC, was having trouble importing it and it was causing shortages all over the country, which explains why my Dad’s guy in Boston couldn’t track it down.  But on to the important stuff… 

What, you may ask, is Gros Manseng?  Well, it is a white varietal very similar to Sauvignon Blanc in my opinion.  Light and citrusy with a hint of sweet peach, lovely for a warm South Carolina afternoon on the porch swing.  Also a great vacation wine because it is a screw top, in case you forgot your wine pull.  Had I tasted this wine blindly I would have picked it for a Sauv Blanc for sure.  It is my first and only exposure to the varietal but I would absolutely try it again.  Haut Marin produced a great Gros Manseng for sure and I would recommend the bottle, if, that is, you can track it down!  Please forgive the image above, I did not snap one with my own camera and when I tried to find a Gros Manseng label I came up short, so the label is from another Haut Marin white.  At least you can see the style of the label so you know what to look for… 



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Interesting Reds,Interesting Whites,Wine Reviews

September 14, 2012

The Beachhouse

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There is a great new wine on the market called “The Beachhouse.”  I tried their white blend a couple of months ago and recently tried their red blend as well.  Both are really simple, easy drinking wines and have become regulars during the week in our household.  I have purchased them anywhere from $7.99-$9.99 depending on the location. 


The white blend is 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Semillon, a classic Bordeaux-style white blend.  The Sauv Blanc gives a crisp, clean taste while the mild sweetness of the Semillon balances out the cirtus.  The wine is produces from vineyards in the Cape Costal Region of South Africa.   


Also from South Africa, the red blend hails from the Western Cape and is a dynamic blend of Shiraz (65%), Mourvedre (20%) and Viognier (15%).  Yes, Viognier, crazy right?    I don’t know about you, but when I hear Viognier I always think of white wine.  So I was intrigued and tried it for myself.  Fruity, smooth and a little bit of spice.  It was lovely!  I must admit, the white is my favorite, but I’d buy the red again for sipping after a meal or with a nice cheese plate on a crisp fall evening.


So there you have it, what I’ve been doing the past couple of months!  I also managed to track down a case of Kaiken for only $120, what a deal!  Buying by the case has been our MO as of late.  Much easier to buy a months’ supply at a time than running to the package store twice a week.  Buying wine by the case, having groceries delivered, getting huge boxes of diapers from Amazon every other week.  Will I ever set foot in an actual store on a regular basis again?  We’ll see… 


Now that we’re approaching the fall I think it’s time to try some fun new Cabs, so be on the lookout over the next few weeks for more reviews.  Have a great weekend!


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Interesting Reds,Wine Reviews

July 31, 2012

Segura Viudas Rose

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I have another fun rose to tell you about to wrap up the month of July, Segura Viudas Brut Rose sparkling wine from Spain. 



I have blogged about Segura Viudas  in the past but I have never tried the pink bubbly version.  This sparkler is a brut, meaning it is low on the sugar scale (0-12 grams of sugar per liter to be exact).  The wine is dry for sure, but crisp and refreshing.  There is a nice subtle fruit on the palate as is typical with rose wines.  The bottle was only $7.99 so we’re not talking blow-your-socks-off here, but this would be great for a champagne-style punch, or add a little Chambord and you’ll have yourself a lovely little aperitif!  And it just looks so pretty, doesn’t it?  Maybe I’m just biased because I adore those champagne flutes, an engagement gift from my bestie/woman of honor…  Those flutes make drinking tap water exciting and sexy!  But I digress…  So overall I would recommend this wine as long as you have the right expectation.  Celebrating an anniversary or big promotion?  No.  Mixing up a pretty cocktail for a girlie baby shower?  Perfect!  I hope you enjoyed the roses we reviewed this month and I apologize I couldn’t get all four reviews up.  If you’re looking for more suggestions I would be more than happy to send you further info.  Now we need to pick a theme for August…   Hasta pronto!!

Interesting Reds

July 11, 2012

Chateau Montaud Cotes de Provence

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Next up this month we have the delightful Chateau Montaud Cotes de Provence. This 2011 rose cost $10 and comes in a beautiful bottle typical of rose from the region.


The wine is made from Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. The nose is lightly floral with soft berry notes the palate is smooth with bright strawberry and cherry flavors. This is a dry rose and despite its fruit flavors it is not at all sweet. But that is ok because sweetness is not what a real rose is all about, right? I enjoyed this wine very much and would highly recommend it. Looks like we’re two for two on rose month, huzzah! Check it out and let me know what you think. Until next week, salute!

Interesting Reds

July 4, 2012

Chateau de Castelneau Rose

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It’s summer, everyone! I know, I know, summer officially been a few weeks ago, but July is the time when it really feels like summer, you know? June can be touchy, some cooler days and such, but July is all sunshine and happiness! Nothing says summer to me like a cool, crisp rose wine. Sitting at a cafe on the beach in Nice, sipping a cool, pink wine, nibbling on marinated olives and toasted almonds, the sun shining down and filling you with joy. THAT is my happy place, right there… Let me begin by saying that I mean rose, NOT white Zinfandel. Real rose wine gets its color from brief exposure to the skins of the red grapes from which the white grape juice is pressed and then fermented. White Zin is dyed and sweetened and just an abomination. But enough about that, let’s get right into our wine of the week, a delightful 2010 Bordeaux rose by Chateau de Castelneau.


This rose is made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape. The nose is slightly floral with bright strawberry. The palate is light and crisp with a medium finish and a hint of sweetness. The bottle was only $9, an absolute steal in my opinion! I recommend this wine for sure. Try it for yourself, and happy summer!


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June 19, 2012

Robert Mondavi Chardonnay

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Last week I sampled a 2009 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay. The bottle was $13.98, a tad more than the average MTM bottle but still under the $15 price point… Let me tell you, with Chardonnay a few extra bucks can go a long way!


Delicious peach aromas open up to a creamy texture with a buttery, toasted caramel palate.  The wine maker described it as “creme brule,” isn’t that fun!  Very smooth with just a hint of oak.  Not enough for me to call the wine “oaky,” but enough to let you know you are drinking a Chardonnay.  I highly recommend this wine, even at the slightly higher price point.  I also owe you a review on our last Chardonnay for the month, I promise I will get it up soon!  Until then, happy Friday!

Chardonnay,Wine Reviews

June 13, 2012

A by Acacia Chardonnay

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Ok, I know I said I was going to review all Napa Chardonnays this month, but I didn’t realize until I got home that A by Acacia is actually from Sonoma…  A by Acacia is made by Acacia (naturally) which is a Napa wine, I didn’t realize that A by Acacia was grown elsewhere.  But close enough for government work, right?  I purchased A by Acacia 2010 Chardonnay on sale for $8.98.


I was really please with this wine!  There was a bit of toastiness on the nose but the palate was bright and fruity.  If I were blind tasting I probably would have guessed Viognier or a blend before I guessed a 100% Chardonnay wine.  The wine had a medium finish and was very smooth.  It paired perfectly with our roasted chicken and vegetables.  Hurrah!  I was getting nervous after the last bottle.  I mean, it was a good wine, but like I said, not my particular taste.  I am glad that is not the case with all of the selections…  I’m exited to see what is in store for us next week!



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