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

Archive for March, 2011

Cabernet Sauvignon,Wine Reviews

March 29, 2011

337 Cabernet Sauvignon – 2008 just released

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Hello all!  So I know I’ve blogged about 181 Merlot before, but apparently I’ve never blogged about it’s dear cousin 337 Cabernet Sauvignon!  Well, they just released their 2008 vintage and let me tell you – YUM.  The vines they use for 337 are clones of Bordeaux vines and they have taken remarkably well to the terroir of Lodi, California.  Dark berry flavors with balanced acidity and tannins, this is a great Cab.  We paired it with grilled veggies and an aged cheddar with cranberry pepper jelly and felt it held up superbly to the strong flavors.  But it is absolutely smooth enough to drink without a food pairing as well!  We grabbed this bottle as part of a 2 for $20 deal (another Monique suggestion, I love that woman).  Highly recommended!


(photo credit 337 Wine)

Interesting Reds,Wine Reviews

March 25, 2011

Black Slate

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Wow, it’s Friday already?  Thank GOODNESS.  Not that I am happy that my husband’s birthday week is drawing to a close, for his sake, but that DOES mean my birthday month is that much closer so I guess it’s a win-win (because clearly he’s super excited about my birthday month too, right?  Why does he get a week and I get a month?  He can only put up with my singing to him for a week I guess…  I can put up with my singing MUCH longer!).  But back to the D man’s big day.  We had a great night out with friends over the weekend so when his actual birthday rolled around I decided to cook my husband’s favorite meal at home.  Burgers.  But these were no ordinary burgers – they were organic beef, smoked English cheddar, crispy bacon, caramelized onion and mustard-garlic spread on big crusty boule roll burgers.  Accordingly, no ordinary wine would do.  So I consulted the team at my favorite Whole Foods at Legacy Place and came up with the most amazing pairing – Black Slate.

Black Slate is a 2007 red blend from Porrera, a village in the Priorat region in Catalonia.  The wine is composed of 60% Garnacha (Grenache) and 40% Carignon – we ALL know how I feel about blends…  At the wine master’s suggestion I allowed it to decant in a flat bottom decanter for over an hour before drinking. The result was an incredibly balanced wine with super soft  tannins, full of rich cherry and spice.  It was ridiculously smooth.  Unlike most bottles, we drank this one very, very slowly, sipping long after the burgers were finished.  We didn’t want it to end!  Whole Foods priced this at $24.99 but I was able to grab it for $19.99.  I did a little research and it looks like the average price is right around $22.  So this is not an every day wine, but a great splurge bottle for a special occasion, housewarming, fancy dinner party and so on!  With the big March Babies Birthday Pub Crawl coming up tomorrow I don’t see a lot of wine in my weekend, but I’ll be back soon with some new bottles and maybe some new sangria recipes to get you in the mood for spring!!

Random Thoughts

March 21, 2011

30 Rock


Today I want to wish my darling husband a very happy 30th birthday.  I have a BIG dinner planned for this evening with lots of fun new wines so I will give you the scoop throughout Birthday Week.  For now, all I have to say, is 30 never looked so good  :)


Random Thoughts

March 17, 2011

Irish Wine

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What does a girl on Saint Patrick’s Day do to cope with no longer having an Irish last name?  Why, she wakes up early and prepares a breakfast of soda bread, green eggs and Guinness, of course!  Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!!


(photo credit via)

Interesting Reds,Out on the Town,Wine Reviews

March 15, 2011


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Last night we met up with some friends in town for supper.  The reservation wasn’t until 7:30 so we had some time to kill beforehand.  We headed over to Stella, an adorable bar/restaurant in the South End.  All decked out in chic Italian white, this is a great place to hang out and people watch.  We selected a bottle of J. Lohr Gamay.  Kind of random, I know, but you know how I feel about lesser-known varietals.  I couldn’t recall having a 100% Gamay wine before and I was very intrigued by the soft tannin and jammy flavor.  Tons of blackberry and raspberry.  There were strong alcohol notes on the finish (I know, all wines are alcohol, but some have more alcohol essence than others, it’s a real thing in the wine world, I swear!) and overall I really enjoyed the wine.



Well, you know what’s funny?  When I looked up the wine on the J. Lohr website, I discovered that it is actually NOT a Gamay but a Valdiguié!  I hadn’t even heard of the varietal so I didn’t think anything of the fact that it was printed on the label of the wine.  I guess I figured it was something to do with the vineyard.  But anyway, I looked it up and apparently the wine makers thought it was Gamay until U.C. Davis testers determined that it was actually Valdiguié, an even lesser-known varietal with roots in southwest France.  I guess the folks at Stella didn’t get the update, oh well!  Doesn’t change the fact that we really enjoyed the wine.  We also enjoyed the price, only $28 for the bottle!  And, of course, we  enjoyed the fried artichoke hearts in a caper-laden sauce that we nibbled on while we were waiting.  Yum.


Interesting Whites,Pinot Grigio,Wine Reviews

March 14, 2011

Grillin’ & Gris

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Happy Monday, all!  We tried a lovely new wine over the weekend that I am excited to share with you.  It was suggested by Monique, our darling wine-lady at a local store near our house.  Monique has not reccommended a bad wine yet, in fact, she is the one who led us to both Liberty School Cab and Axis Zin, so you know this one is going to be good…  We felt like doing a little grilling and wanted something that would pair well with shrimp and veggie kabobs.



The wine Monique suggested was Joseph Cattin Pinto Gris from the Alsace region of France.  It was REALLY good.  I found the wine to be on the sweeter side of dry, loads of vanilla and apricot notes.  The winemaker points out strong spice and smoke notes but I didn’t really pick up on a lot of smoke until the finish.  The smoke was mild enough and complimented the sweeter palate so I didn’t mind it at all (normally not a huge fan of smoke).  Fantastic compliment to the grilled meal.  At 2 for $25 I would totally buy this wine again.  By the way, can you please take a look at this beautiful tray of veggies?  Doesn’t that look SO GOOD.  Now imagine it with a fresh blue cheese & herb dipping sauce.  Right?




So glad to be grilling again, next Monday is the first day of spring – as well as the Hub’s birthday!  Hurrah for fun times and fine wines!

Sparkling,Wine Reviews

March 11, 2011

Segura Viudas Cava

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Rain, rain, go away…  What a dreary end to the week!  I thought I’d cheer things up a bit by telling you about one of my favorite old stand-by bubblies, Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, a cava from Spain.  Brut refers to the sweetness of the wine.  If something is labeled Brut it is going to be on the dry side (I have included an index below to help you understand where that falls on the sugar scale).  Why we refer to a wine with less sugar as dry I do not know.  Perhaps because it sounds better than calling it bitter?  Or sugarless?  Ha, imagine if they came out with a wine and called it sugarless.  Weight Watchers would have a FIELD DAY with that one.  But moving on…  Segura Viudas is a great go-to when you want a basic bubbly.  Under $10 a bottle, nice and crisp, great for Mimosas or other “champagne” cocktails.  I personally like to add a dash of Chambord to mine as it is on the dry side and the Chambord sweetens it up while giving it a great splash of color.  In addition to being affordable, Segura Viudas is very easy to find.  Even if you don’t want to drink it right now, pick up a bottle to store in the back of your fridge for when you’re in the mood for something sparkly!  Because come on, when it is NOT an occasion for something sparkly?


Rating Sugar content

(grams per litre)


Brut Nature (no added sugar)



Extra Brut 0–6
Brut 0–12
Extra Dry, Extra Sec, Extra seco 12–17
Dry, Sec, Seco 17–32
Demi-Sec, Semi-seco 32–50
Doux, Sweet, Dulce 50+



(Photo credit: Real Simple, Sweetness chart: Wikipedia)



Interesting Whites,Wine Reviews

March 9, 2011

Folie à Deux Winery

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I saw the most adorable picture of a friend’s baby on facebook the other day.  She is 7 months old and gnawing on a bottle of white wine – she clearly gets this from her father because her mother is lovely, not some crazed bottle-chewing fiend…  :)  Then I noticed that the bottle she was gnawing on was one of my favorite go-to wines, Ménage à Trois White from the Folie à Deux Winery in Napa.  Ménage à Trois is a blend and we ALL know how I feel about blends (read-LOVE).  This mix is a Chardonnay with Muscat and Chenin Blanc.  It has a mild sweetness that makes it super easy to drink by itself (honey, pear, yum) but enough acidity and citrus to hold its own against mild-moderate cheeses as well.  This would be great with a nice flaky fish or a margherita pizza too, softer dishes.

Folie à Deux Winery also produces a great red, aptly called, Ménage à Trois Red (PS – Ménage à Trois coming from the French “mix of three,” because they all have 3 grapes in the blend!).  The red is a blend of Zin (my current favorite varietal), Merlot and Cab.  This one has a little more bite to it, a little more spicy and in-your-face.  Holds up great against more powerful dishes, pretty much any foods you would normally pair with a single varietal wine of any of the three grapes.  These wines are relatively easy to find and will normally run you around $9-$11 a bottle.  So check it out and let me know what you think!  And happy 7 month-a-versary to the little lady who inspired this post, you’re truly a girl after my own heart!

(photo credit: Folie à Deux)

Random Thoughts

March 8, 2011

Vine Talk with Stanley Tucci

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Who doesn’t love Stanley Tucci?  Really, who?  I am so excited to share with you that Stanley Tucci will be hosting a new television show called “Vine Talk” debuting in April on PBS.  Check out the site here for more information and to view a trailer.  I’m in SUCH need of a good wine show these days, plus my DVR will be thankful for the break from “PTI” and “What Not to Wear…”  YEAH!

(photo credit

Cabernet Sauvignon,Pinot Noir,Wine Reviews

March 7, 2011

Thank you, Uncle Sam

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Wow, what a week.  I think the Jinx Fairy read my post from last Monday and decided that I had experienced far too much happiness in 2 days and accordingly made the subsequent 5 just miserable.  Only work wise, mind you, but a bad week at work always carries over into your personal life no matter how hard to try to separate the two.  So how does one cheer oneself up from the ensuing funk?  Well, with the help of a deposit from the US Treasury (owning a home and getting married are expensive, but at least we get a nice little tax return) I cheered myself up buy buying a TON of wine.  Two full cases plus a bunch of individual bottles (including a bottle of this ChocoVine that has been popping up all over the place, have you seen it?  I will review soon and give you the deets…).  After much deliberating we decided upon Liberty School Cab and Angeline Pinot Noir.  You may recall Angeline from my last post, we had a bottle of the reserve at L’Espalier and it was fabulous.  After finding the reserve for $15.99 I found the traditional for $9.99!  A little less rich but still mild tannins and nice fruit, a great wine for under $10.  And we got a great deal on the case at an cool $100 even.  Liberty School Cab is my new obsession.  We have seen it everywhere from $15.99-$10.99 a bottle but in my opinion it tastes like a $20 bottle.  Amazing blackberry and chocolate aromas, balanced tannins, smooth finish, this is one of the better Cabs I’ve tasted in a while.

We found it for $10.99 a bottle and grabbed a case for just $120.  California is really stepping up to the plate with these two, after many years of favoring imports I am starting to really come around to these bright, fresh styles.  I’ll still NEVER like the Lakers though, let’s not get crazy…  So if you can track down these wines I highly recommend them!

PS – It’s almost sangria season.  That.  Just.  Happened…

(Photo credits:, Martin Ray Winery)