Tag Archives: wine reviews

What I Did While I Was Away Last Week (with a couple reviews thrown in)

Sorry for the absence.
I know you missed me.
I missed you too!

I was on a much needed vacation. Away from Chicago. Away from work. Away from everything except family and a few friends. 
It was fun. I guess there’s not a ton to report other than that. There were some wines consumed. Some beer. Some Sake. Good times all around.

Tonight I want to talk about a couple wines. A bit of a roundup so to speak. We have a Garnacha, Malbec, and Malbec blend.

So without further ado…



Quadrum – Binny’s Exclusive 2012 Garnacha (Garnacha/Tempranillo blend) – 14% alc – about $10

This first one is a Binny’s Exclusive. Pours Deep red/purple. Full of crisp and bright fruit flavors. Cherry, raspberry, blueberry, a little plum. Moderately drying. Very tasty. Very worth it. End of the Sip and finish taste decidedly of pie crust. Yum.




Michel Rolland – Clos De Los Siete 2009 Malbec – Mendoza, Argentina – 14.5% alc – about $17 – blend of 57% Malbec, 15% Merlot – 15% Cab Sauv – 10% Syrah – 3% Petit Verdot

Looks deep red fading to pink on the edges. Aroma of red and dark fruits (cherries and blueberries mostly with a hint of strawberry). Also detecting oak with small hint of vanilla. Heat is noticeable. 

Taste is of oak and cherries. Thought it needed more time to open up, but this follows through even to the second day. Very dry in an extremely oaky way. Medium body. Pronounced heat. Finish is all heat and oak with some berries. 

Honestly it’s not as bad as this is sounding but it’s certainly not memorable and definitely not worth my $17 again. I’m sorry to say..

(Pay no attention to the Grenadine in the background….)



Bodegas Y Vinedos – Urban Uco Malbec 2012 – 14.2% alc – Argentina – about $10

Had this awhile ago. Bought it again to take home to my parents’ house to share with them over dinner. Worth it both times.

Bright fruit. Moderately drying. Not incredibly complex but definitely an easy drinker with nice flavor that pleased everyone at the table. 


Next time we are going back to Argentina. And then probably one more time after that… Hmm, maybe we’ll do a double review on those two. Yeah, that’ll be the plan for now.

Soon after, we’ll take a trip to Ohio. It’s gonna be fun, I swear.


Shotgunning some Yes/No’s to pass the time..

Today I’m gonna do some shotgunned mini-review-style Yes’s and No’s as I work my way through tomorrow’s full-write-up review..

The idea here is to go over some recent wine purchases and say a few words for each and give it a rating.
Yup. Reviews. Shotgun style!


Dreaming Tree – 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – 13.7% alc – Napa Valley, California – about $13:
Light, easy drinking, lots of berries with a hint of vanilla. Does a body good and doesn’t break the bank. 

Barista – 2012 Pinotage – 13.5% – South Africa – about $14:
Bacon! A little espresso and dark chocolate. Spend a little more time with it and you’ll find ripe dark cherries hidden under those smoked meats. If you want something interesting and want to go against the grain with an oft-maligned varietal, try this Pinotage.

Santa Ema – 2010 Merlot Reserve – 13.5% – Maipo Valley, Chile – about $13:
I gotta tell you I was avoiding Merlot for awhile. This guy brought me back to the camp with it’s fun vanilla spices and soft, silky texture. Seriously worth a look.

Bodegas – Luis Canas Crianza 2009 – 14% – Rioja, Spain – about $17:
This made me want to try more spanish wines. Damn. Tempranillo is a special grape when you get it in some wood for awhile. Not the most complex thing out there but what do you want for under $20? Oh, right. A good wine. Yeah, this one’s good. 

Oro De Castilla – 2011 Hermanos del villar Verdejo – 12.5% – Rueda, Spain – about $15:
Okay, it smells amazing. And then tastes mostly like cat pee. Letdown for sure.


Well there we have it. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s full write up!

Yes or No?

No 100 point system. No 1-5s or 1-10s either for that matter…

No A through F Letter grade system.

No muss. No fuss. (Okay I can’t really promise that..)

Just YES or NO.


Okay let me explain. I like wine (well I like a lot of things actually but wine could be counted among them. The journey getting here is actually kind of interesting so I’ll get to that in a bit). I like learning about wine, drinking wine, reading others thoughts on wine, etc. What I’m kind of not so into is the arbitrary scores given to wine to try to tell people what to drink. Are they helpful? Sure, they can be. And a lot of my favorite reviewers use some form of the above. But I just want to simplify things a bit here. Because really all anyone wants to know is, “If I see this wine on the shelf is it worth me buying today?” That’s what I want to answer.

Now, there’s a lot that goes into that question. A lot of factors that get us there but ultimately I want to deal in absolutes. So before we go any further I’d like to throw out a couple of disclaimers first and then delve a bit into what goes into deciding whether a wine is a YES or a NO. Then I might tell you a little more about myself and how I came to start this Blog. Here goes..




Disclaimer #1: Just ’cause I like/dislike something doesn’t mean you will like/dislike that same thing. But if you tend to like things in the same way that I do (based on what you read from my descriptions) then I hope I can help you make a decision you’re going to be happy with. That’s definitely the biggest thing that needs taken into account when reading any kind of review. 

Disclaimer #2: I’m not an expert. I’m just a guy that likes wine and likes to talk about and catalog my experiences. I’m also obsessive. And love to learn and take in new things.

Disclaimer #3: A YES doesn’t mean it’s the best wine ever. It just means I’d recommend giving it a try and picking up a bottle if you see it. And the other side of the coin is that a NO doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the worst wine in the world. It just means I don’t think it’s quite worth the cost of admission or maybe it’s just not memorable enough to want to go get more at some point.

Disclaimer #4: I reserve the right to add more disclaimers to this Blog as it develops. 


What Constitutes a YES?

– It’s a good value for the money. Drinks at or above it’s price point.

– It tastes good. I like it.

– I think you should try it.

– Some combination of the above.

– You know, I really thought I’d have more for the YES column.. I think that the above is all we should need to know going into a store so I guess we’ll leave it at that for now. Again, I reserve the right to add more to this section as we go.


So what Constitutes a NO then?

– Not worth the money it costs to take it home.

– Doesn’t taste good/Isn’t what I look for in a wine.

– It’s good but not memorable enough to come back to time and time again or to recommend someone to pick up. (I have a feeling most NO’s will fit into something like this.)

– Some combination of the above. (Once again reserving the right to make changes as we go..)




So now that we’ve got the mission statement portion down, I’ll get to a little bit about myself. (Feel free to skip this if you’re not interested and just start reading the reviews if there are any yet.)


I’m relatively young in the grand scheme of things. 26. So it’s not like I’ve been drinking for 20 years (although I didn’t have my first drink at 21 either, if you know what I mean). I’m a millenial, but don’t necessarily fit into the tidy Millenial box that wine-makers and wine-writers try to put us into. Not like I’m a high roller or anything. I live rather modestly, but I don’t necessarily have an “only wines and drinks under $20 credo” either. I’m from Pittsburgh originally but now reside in Chicago. I like cats. And dogs. Camping. Music. Traveling (I don’t do enough of it though). Not a beach fan so long walks on the beach are out.

And wine seriously wasn’t really on my radar from the beginning either. Honestly, it all started with Beer. And the affection for beer hasn’t wavered in the least, but after 5 years of obsession, there’s not a ton to learn; there’s just a lot to keep up on between limited releases and new breweries and everything that goes on. Not that I know everything about beer, but I know enough that I can walk into any store and I know what I’m probably going to like or not like with minimal research. 

So I moved on to Bourbon, Rye, and Scotch. Whisk(e)y. Still like it. Still drink it. I learned it. I’m familiar. Similar to beer in that I know what I like and know what to look for. 

I’ve been told many times to start a blog. To write down what I think when it comes to beer and whisk(e)y. For whatever reason it just never appealed to me. I have 4 Facebook Photo albums full of the assorted beers I’ve tried and an album dedicated to whisk(e)y. There’s short blurbs about what’s good or not good about each (usually). It just doesn’t evoke a feeling of inspiration or whatever when it comes to sitting down and typing out what I think. (type-y type-y type-y.) 

But wine. For whatever reason, it excites me a little to write about it. So here we are. And I think I’m at the point that I can pick out flavors and nuances. I’ll try to keep the Terroir talk and super-wine-o jargon to a minimum, cause I really don’t like coming off as a douchepickle (and also Terroir is still complicated for me to grasp). But, as it is, when describing what you taste or smell it tends to come out in a way that says “I’m better than you cause I can pick this stuff out.” Well I’ll be the first to tell you and certainly not the last that I’m not better than you. So keep that little tidbit in your back pocket as we carry on here. 

Another thing of note. This isn’t my first rodeo. I know a little so I’m not at the beginning of my journey here. You just get to hitch a ride part way down the road so to speak.

So thanks for reading if you made it this far and I hope you stick around. On to the Reviews!!