Wednesday, August 02, 2006


It’s been forever, ok, just since February since I posted on the blog. Can’t believe it. Been a busy year in a lot of ways. The little software company I work for was acquired and things started to go to hell in a handbasket in February. Isn’t it interesting how my posts sort of stopped happening about then…  I’d love to say we all made bunch of money as part of the acquisition. Not so, unfortunately. More power to the folks that are able to arrange that.

Meanwhile I’ve enjoyed a bunch of really great wines in the interim. I may jot a few notes as time allows, but note are sketchy for some of them. Ah well, my loss.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Some juicy reds... a Vino 100 Tasting

Just a few more quick notes today… A couple weeks ago I posted about Vino 100 out at Lakeway for WBW 18, but never got around to following up on some of the wines I tasted there at an evening tasting of Zins and Petite Sirah.

Tasting a collection of similar wines like this is a lot of fun. You really get some interesting distinctions between the wines, and comparing them is the best part of it. All of these were good wines. I mean, it’s a “class” after all and Nat – the wine guy there – has gone out of his way to find some interesting things. My glass “ratings” below, therefore, are largely an indication of which of them I found to be the most appealing to me on that evening. In fact, they were all appealing in some way. For example, I liked “The Monster” as well, but just not as much as the others. I did have some favorites though. Read on…

Marr Cellars “Cuvee Patrick” Petite Sirah 2001
 Light ruby red with an aroma of cigar box and a taste of candied fruit – plums/prunes – and spice. Their web site says retails for $13, but Nat had indicated it was around $20.
August Briggs Petite Sirah 2002
 A very dark red wine that was much softer and juicier than the first. Round blackberry fruit. Around $45 according to Nat. I like this wine, but behind the tasting of the previous wine, this one seemed perhaps just a little flacid.
Amici “Panek Vineyard” Zinfandel 2002
 This wine showed as lighter in color than the previous and yet had deep blackberry and boysenberry flavors. More structure and tannins than either of the first two. Web site says $30 retail. Nat told us $54. I’m beginning to think Nat’s charging too much. :-)
Segesio Family Vineyard Zinfandel 2003
 Notes of cherry, violets and rose water. Soft and not too structured. Just a very slight rubbery scent on the nose as well. Around $36.
Norman Vineyards “The Monster” Zinfandel 2003
 Some tart cherries, violets and spice with more structure than the previously tasted wine, but still, a light Pinot Noir. Around $50.

The price of the tasting was $35.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

"Gather" for wine...

The wine tagged postings over at could have some interesting potential.'s only been around for a month. Have to watch it and see how it develops, but I'm not sure I see a significant advantage over existing ways to build similar content.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Posting again...

My posts have been few and far between lately. Lots of factors I suppose. Not the least of which is just a certain introspection as to whether I continue to enjoy taking the time to jot notes and thoughts. Yes, though, I do actually like doing this and reconfirmed that again in a discussion with a friend today at lunch. Trouble is, it can be hard finding time at the end of an otherwise busy day. I won’t get into it here… ask me some time though what I do for a living.  


WBW 19 announced

I see that Wine Blogging Wednesday number 19 has been announced. “When in Rhone”. Hosted by WineExpression. Looks to be a good one. The last WBW was interesting, but I much prefer the ones where we pick (and taste) a wine. Stay tuned for March 8th and something tasty.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

WBW 18 - wine shops that "feel the love"

Vino 100 Lakeway

Hard to believe another month has gone by already. This month's WBW theme (#18) is a bit different. It's about your wine shop rather than about a particular wine. There are actually quite a few interesting places to shop for wine in the Austin area. But in the sprirt of getting the point across quickly with this post, my recent favorite and one that best suits the theme is the Vino 100 store in the Lakeway area.

A fair number of Austinites aren't going to manage to trek out to Lakeway. But what I've come to like about this place is not only its unique selections, but the way in which it's presented. Their claim to fame is the 100 wines for under $25, and they display each with a little card about the wine that includes their "wine barometer". There's always a tasting of something at the bar there and best of all they've got interesting weekly events going on.

Best of all, of course, is just personal attention. Their "wine guy" is Nat Davis and he does the classes there. The guy can literally talk for hours about wine. He recently moved to this area from NYC and is a graduate of the American Sommelier Association’s Sommelier certification program. The thing I like about him is he doesn't tell you what to like. He instructs and highlights but doesn't attempt to bias you toward the things he likes.

Last night was another class there in Zins and Petite Syrah. No time to post about the tasting now, but will get to that in due course.

Meanwhile, since we're talking wine shops, I have to give runner-up honors to the Austin Wine Merchant. These folks are always helpful and they have the best Saturday tasting going. Always something interesting from noon to 3 on Saturdays.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Trentadue Old Patch Red 2003 Sonoma County Red wine

2003 Trentadue

Tonight I wanted a red wine to go along with a steak - a filet, hand-rubbed with some stuff I got from the Perini Ranch Steakhouse. The Trentadue “Old Patch Red” turned out to be more than a match.

Wish my photography was as much a match. The colors are a little off. Sorry. But then, the unnatural lighting in this room at this time of the evening isn’t perfect.

This wine is a blend of mostly Zinfandel (68%) along with Carignane, Sangiovese and Petite Sirah. The color is an opaque deep ruby red. It has a jammy dark berry taste and a long finish. It has some tongue dragging, mouth gripping tannins that paired up really well with the steak. After opening up a bit, there was a definite note of cherry.

$20, Vino 100, Lakeway
 turned out to be an excellent choice along with beef. I’m liking it a lot! Nicely structured, rich dark berry tasted with a long finish. Drinkable now, but could stand to age a couple years.

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Wine Blog pointers...

I ran across this article on wine blogs written last October, so probably considered old news – especially by internet time standards - but still, an interesting read.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A Burgundy Tasting

I had the pleasure of going to a tasting/class of Burgundy wines the other night at Vino 100. Naturally I took a few notes to capture here. I was surprised though that there were so few people (about 10) at this, but I'm not sure whether they advertise these events other than on their web site. The place isn't big though, so I guess that's about what they can handle. This is the first of what I hope will be many visits for their tastings.

The great thing about this kind of tasting is you get to try several wines (in this case 6) that you wouldn't otherwise be all that likely to try, simply based on price. Or, at least I wouldn’t ordinarily shell out the kind of dough that some of these wines go for. Actually, it turned out that we tasted 7 wines because Nat, the Vino 100 guy that was leading us, brought out another wine at the end. Can’t believe I didn’t make a note of what it was though, other than “Meursault ‘02”.

While my notes are somewhat sparse, here's the list and notes on what I liked, in tasting order. (By the way, prices were revealed after the tasting.) I’ve included links below to the web site along with these. It’s an excellent web site with a wealth of interesting information.

Domaine Coste-Caumartin Bourgogne Blanc 2002
 This wine had a definite nose of honey, vanilla, apples and pears. Lightly oaked. An approachable wine and at $18 this was one of the better buys of the night.
Michel Colin-Deleger & Fils Chassagne-Montrachet 2001
 This is a crisply mineral wine that had a slightly yeasty nose. Liked it, but clearly I enjoyed the first one a bit better. Around $55.
Domain J.M. Boillot Puligny-Montrachet Primier Cru Les Combettes 2001
 This was an awesome wine – dwarfing the first two in my opinion. A pleasing nose of pears and oak with round and complex tastes and mouth feel that lingered long on the tongue. At $75 a little out of the “everyday” range. Save this one for a special occasion.
Hubert Lamy Chassagne-Montrachet Rouge 2003
 Notes of cherry, violets and rose water. Soft and not too structured. Just a very slight rubbery scent on the nose as well. Around $36.
Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay 2002
 Some tart cherries, violets and spice with more structure than the previously tasted wine, but still, a light Pinot Noir. Around $50.
Olivier Laflaive Pommard 1999
 By comparison to the previous wine, much fuller, structured and heartier wine. Cherry sucker fruit taste along with cocoa and wonderful long finish. Around $58.

The price of the tasting was $40. Considering the price of wines, not a bad deal. A nice evening out and interesting people to chat with.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I found a very good web site for local (Austin) area restaurants called For being entirely Austin and central Texas oriented, it's pretty nicely done. I gotta believe that if they went to this much trouble that they would expand its reach but who knows. Anyway, looked interesting.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

On a mission... WBW 17 - 1998 NZ Mission Estate Cab Merlot

1998 Mission Cab Merlot

This month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday came from the Corkdork, and he asks us to come up with a Kiwi Red. Perfect. I’ve got a couple of those. Too bad today is Saturday rather than Wednesday. I’m behind the curve. Ah well, I’ve been busy. Lenn, WBW was a great idea, but Wednesday is a ‘school’ night! :-) (Actually, it was the night that Texas was playing in the Rose Bowl and all attention in Austin was on football!)

If I’d had to look around a bit for a red from NZ in the Austin area, what I’d been able to come up with would have been pretty limited. Sigh. Don’t even think of going to your average grocery. I pulled in to Grapevine market today – and oh what an awesome weather day it was here in Austin today. Top down weather - and I mean the car! Oh, sorry, back to Grapevine and the point. Funny, they were in the midst of an inventory and their stock was as depleted as I’ve ever seen it. They had a few Sauv Blancs from NZ, but otherwise nothing.

I had intended on heading down to Central Market anyway for the stuff I can’t usually get elsewhere and I looked around there a bit too. Mind you, I had this Mission Estate already sitting out but I was out and about anyway and figured why not look at what the offerings were. Better, but not much. They did have, however, one Hawkes Bay Cab/Merlot blend. I didn’t buy it.  

So the Mission Estate Cab Merlot I had set aside was going to be it. Click the image to follow the link to the winery site. I really liked this wine. You don’t see the Cab/Merlot blend done much in this neck of the woods, but it seems to be a popular choice in NZ, and Australia for that matter.

Ah, ok, the wine. It’s 77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot and was on French oak for 22 months. The opaque purplish red wine had a sharp note of cedar on the nose. Tannins were firm but balanced along with a fruity, dark berry taste with a full body and long finish.

In some ways, the wine in this case is almost secondary for me. What? Yes, beyond the wine, drinking this wine evoke memories of a place I really enjoyed visiting. Napier, in the Hawkes Bay area, is just a pleasant little town. It sits on the east coast of the north island of New Zealand and I found it to be a wonderfully livable place to be. I was there for only a short time, but I’d go back. And I’d stay longer and just hang out. There aren’t really a lot of tourist attractions – unless you like wine and small town life –but this is the sort of place I could get used to. I stayed at the Seaview Lodge, which is essentially a home stay B&B. The host was very helpful. In fact, he pointed me to Mission Estate winery. If you get there too, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Bonus pic: click the wine bottle shot above to link over to Mission Estate. Click here for a shot I took January 2005. Compare the two and you’ll get some perspective. Oh, and as you can see, it was raining the day I was there. 

I don’t remember what I paid. Bought at the winery and it was just one of the favorites I tasted that day.
 typifies the sort of thing I like so well I can’t do anyting other than give it 3 glasses. I’d buy or have one of these every day.

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wine? no coffee! a Short please

No surprise, I drink a lot more coffee than I drink wine. So I couldn’t help link over to the Slate article on the ‘elusive short cappuccino’. There was actually a story on NPR early in December on this same subject, so Slate’s a little late to the game, but personally I was jazzed about finding out I could get a smaller cup and started ordering ‘shorts’ the same day I heard the radio story. I’m sure I’m not the only one. If I’m buying a morning coffee – which I avoid unless I’m running late and can’t make my own – I gotta get something larger. But after lunch or dinner, the short suits me fine.

'waiterrant' on ordering wine

I ran across this list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to ordering wine in a restaurant earlier this week on waiterrant. It was linked off reddit’s ‘hot’ page, so obviously I wasn’t the only one that thought it was interesting reading. And it means people are truly interested in the subject. Lot’s of people are intimidated by ordering wine in restaurants. ‘Course, it doesn’t hurt to have a catchy title like “How To Order Wine Without Looking Like an Asshole” to grab some attention too. If you’re the sort that would come by this ‘blog, you’re not likely to find a whole lot of insights in the post, but waiterrant is usually kind of fun reading regardless. I especially like #26 in his list.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

2000 Argyle Brut - Ringin' in the new year

2000 Argyle BrutThe busy holiday season has made it kind of tough to keep up a regular 'blog routine. Which is a shame, of course, because this blog is about wines I try and here we've been in one of the busiest times of the year when it comes to imbibing. No doubt there have been a few interesting wines along the way and in between during the past couple weeks, so I thought I would start the new year off with a reasonably appropriate (timely) wine.

I personally chose the 2000 Argyle Brut sparkling wine to ring in the new year. I don't generally go out of my way for sparkling wines - or for that matter, New Years Eve parties. But the Christmas & New Years holiday time is one of the few occasions when I make a point to look for something sparkling. This time, I wanted to find something from Oregon, and this one didn't disappoint. Why Oregon? Hmm, good question. I can't really lay a finger on it, but on top of just having a soft spot for Oregon, I thought maybe I could find an interesting sparkling wine from the US at this time of year.

As it turned out, among the many sparkling wines at the Austin Wine Merchant late last week, this was the only Oregon sparkling wine they had. (Apparently they had one other, but they were out of it at the point I got there.) At $17.50, there wasn't a whole lot of downside to giving it a try.

This wine is 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir. I found a very pleasant taste of apple tartness along with the bubbly and a hint of yeasty bread dough. Much fuller body and longer finish than the 'party champagne' I'd had earlier in the evening. It got thumbs up from the 3 others that tried it as well.

About $17, Austin Wine Merchant, Austin ($20 at the Whole Foods up the street)
some excellent bubbly. Would definitely get it again.

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Just a poll - red or white?

I ran across this cool polling gizmo done by dPolls. I think they do it better than most. I couldn't help but drop one into a post to just see how well it works. Anyway, what's your favorite? Come to think of it, I could imagine using this sort of thing often.

Create polls and vote for free.

Thursday, December 29, 2005


Enjoying the holidays? Hope so. I'm way up north on the frozen tundra - ok, not exactly the frozen tundra, but a lot colder than home in sunny Austin. No interesting wines to write about today, but thought I'd just ramble on for a bit.

I get some interesting comments to my posts on occasion. Thanks, I like comments. I originally set up the blog to allow anonymous comments. Though somewhere along the way I started to get just plain old spam - perhaps even automated in response to blogger pings. Who knows. Anyway, so a while back I set up the blog so that any comments posted are moderated - that means I see them before they're posted. Seems appropriate to jot a few notes about how that works for me 'cause I've come to some conclusions and will add a side-bar link to this at some point.

Ok, so any comments about a particular wine that I've posted - why you love it, why you hate it or whatever - great, those kind of comments in all likelihood will just get passed along and posted. Though I'd prefer that such posts are not anonymous - or reasonably so. I mean, some email addr would be nice. But, no big deal if they're missing.

I invite you to email me directly, though, if your comments are really better directed to me personally. Just scroll to the bottom of the page and click 'about'. You'll find contact info there. I don't care what you want to chat about, but just note that trolling - comments or email - is not likely to get much, if any, response. If you don't know what I mean by that, then the following wikipedia posting might help:

Happy holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2005

2003 Qupe' Syrah

2003 Qupe Syrah

This Syrah from California has been one of my recent favorites. Actually, it's not just Syrah, it's 84% Syrah, 6% Grenache, 4% Counoise, 3% Mourvedre and a bit of Mondeuse, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tempranillo. Now that's a mouthful - literally.

If you like big fruity wines, this one will suit you. A bit of spice and a floral aroma but otherwise a pretty soft and easy drinker. Their web site claims Food & Wine named it a Best Syrah Under $20 in a recent issue.

About $17, Grapevine Market, Austin
full bodied, soft ripe fruit. Too bad Grapevine was out of it the last time I was by.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Those Lakeway shops..

I had a chance to tool out to Lakeway this past weekend – which is just a short drive – and check out both Vino100 and the Wine Trader. Both opened earlier this fall. Turns out the Vino 100 place is a franchise opportunity. There are a couple here in the Austin area and the chain appears to be growing pretty rapidly. The number of wines (100 under $25 and then a few over $25) is somewhat limited relative to the likes of Grapevine Market, but I do like the concept and the layout is great. Each of the wines in the store has this little ‘wine barometer’ that includes a Flavor and Body scale. Plus it includes a little ‘talker’ about the wine. They also have a tasting bar. Even better, they skipped the typically big names and offered some new and interesting choices.

The Wine Trader was laid out more traditionally and seemed to have a larger overall selection. They had a great bar atmosphere as well – with little plates of food and even had the ball game going on the wide screen TV. Unfortunately there was no one else there even though it was late in the afternoon on a Saturday.

In both cases, definitely worth a repeat visit though.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

What's up with Lakeway? | Vino100

I just posted about the ‘Wine Trader’ place out at Lakeway and then I happen upon yet another place out in Lakeway called Vino100. I’d have to say there’s definitely an up-tick in the interest in wine in this area.

Lake Travis Wine Trader

I was just doing some browsing online and discovered a new place that’s fairly close to home here. Called the Lake Travis Wine Trader. Looks like that have some great events and classes, not to mention a reasonably decent web site. Will have to drive over there this weekend and check it out.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wine Blogging Wednesday #16 - eye catching

2000 Il Cuore

This month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday was an easy one in the sense that it really didn’t matter what the wine was like or where it hailed from, what you were really after was just a wine label that caught your eye.

I could have searched high and low but what I actually did was pull in to the nearby HEB grocery (Four Points) and just walk the aisles while keeping a distance such that I couldn’t actually read what was on the label. I just looked for something attractive.

Initially, I thought, I won’t even bother to go to the store, I’ll just pull something from the rack. I have a bottle of “Big Ass Cabernet” that has a label that I think is really eye catching. In fact, I posted back in April about it. Check it out, it’s a pretty good label.

A runner up to the Big Ass Cab label for eye catching and brightly colored women are those done by the folks at Perfect 10.

Instead though, as I walked thru the aisle, the one that really caught my eye the most was the IL CUORE Rosso Classico from California. (To the right.) The folks at IL CUORE Wines use a cubist painting by Dan Rizzie as their label. The art and colors were something that suited me. Bright colors, but with some warm earth tones in there too.

Meanwhile, the wine turned out to be pretty interesting too. A blend of 35% Carignane, 28% Zinfandel, 20% Grenache, 12% Sangiovese and 5% Charbono. The mix was a medium to light bodied wine bursting with cherry fruit flavors.

$10.99 HEB grocery
 medium to light bodied wine bursting with cherry fruit flavors. I’d get a 2nd.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Macari 2003 Cabernet Franc

2003 Cabernet Franc

I don’t run across much Long Island wine in this neck of the woods. These days though, and based on Macari’s web site, I guess I wouldn’t need to. I could just order it online from their web site. But first, of course, I would have had to know it existed. In this case, it was Beau at Basic Juice that introduced me to this wine. In fact, he mailed me a bottle! How’s that for an endorsement.

I’ve been meaning to try it for the last month and this past weekend I finally did. Actually, I enjoyed it over the last two nights.

This wine is an unfiltered wine, but it was a very attractive translucent red. It had an earthy and spiced aroma along with its note of oak. Taste and mouth feel were light bodied and lightly fruity. To my taste, the wine really demanded some food along with it – and some fatty food went perfectly. In fact, I grilled some steak along with this and the pairing worked really well.

I used the VacuVin on what remained and had the rest tonight. The wine had evolved a bit more in the mean time. In fact, the aromas had mellowed a bit and the berry taste was more prevalent so it was great just sipping on its own.

About $24.
 light bodied, med-long finish, earthy and oak aroma. Liked it.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

WBW 16 is this week

Was caught up in other activities and missed #15, but hope to catch Wine Blogging Wednesday #16 this week.

Moillard 2005 Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau

2005 Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau

To answer Amy’s recent comment/question, yes, in fact I have had something nice to drink lately. This posting is one good example.

At this time of year, Beaujolais Nouveau arrives in stacks in local stores. I love the little clock at this web site about this type of wine. It’s also just a good read. As of this writing, we’re T-minus 18 days since arrival. I picked up several of these and one other at Grapevine Market the weekend before Thanksgiving and have been enjoying them since. This one’s my favorite.

To start, this wine has an awesome ruby red color. If nothing else, it’s just nice to look at. But, of course, you want to drink it. My first reaction was simply “juicy fruit”. And in some ways I do mean like the gum by the same name. Not sticky sweet, of course, but this is definitely light and fruity.

I’ve had one other Beaujolais Nouveau in the last week too, but this one is so far my favorite.

About $11–12. Grapevine Market.
 light and juicy fruit. Great holiday quaffing.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Images restored

My trusty server for images is back online and serving up my little snapshots here. Slowly but surely the chaos of my recent move is getting closer to being back to just the normal amount of chaos. Kind of a pain though. I had to fiddle with the cable modem and its odd configuration. Ordinarily, you just get a cable modem from the provider and it does its one simple thing and is done. In this case, at the end of the day, the installer only had a modem/router combo that turned out to mess up my former configuration. Anyway, if you’re at all interested in the details of combining an Ambit cable modem & wireless router with a Microsoft wireless router, feel free to jot me a note. (It turned out to actually be very easy.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Argh! what happened to the images?

I'm finally getting over my nasty cold and I took the opportunity to move a server - the server with my images on it. Well, suffice it to say, I now have networking issues. I won't bore you with the details, but let's just say that my cable modem at this location isn't handling port forwarding the way I need it to. Grrr... Maybe time to try plan B.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

New Blog

I see several recent comment postings by Bob at The Texas TasteMaster. Looks like an interesting new wine blog. One of these days - maybe over the Thankgsiving holiday - I'll look around to see what other new wine blogs have popped up.

Wish I'd been able to post more recently, but I've been under the weather for the last couple weeks. Picked up whatever's been 'going around'. Hope to be back soon...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hook & Ladder "The Tillerman" 2003

2003 The Tillerman

I thought it appropriate that in contrast to what I found to be a distasteful aroma and taste of leather in the recently profiled Louis Bernard wine, I would happen on this wine from Hook & Ladder that also has some leather in the nose but in this case it was quite appealing.

This wine came from the ‘Interesting Reds’ section at Grapevine and is a blend of Cabernet Sauv, Cab Franc and Sangiovese. It had a very attractive reddish purple color to it. The bit of leather in the aroma was more akin to a new leather bag rather than the ‘old leather shoe’ I’d concluded about the other wine. Also in contrast to that other wine, this one was a big mouth full of juicy red fruit tastes. 

About $14. Grapevine Market.
 ripe, juicy red fruits and a hint of new leather. Definite repeat buy.

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Blasphemy In A Bottle

Can’t quite figure why someone thinks this will be a better selling wine than a more conventionally named one, but thought it interesting enough to jot a note about.

Blasphemy In A Bottle - November 7, 2005

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Louis Bernard 2003 Cotes-du-Rhone-Villages

2003 Red Rhone

This wine has distinction of being the one I've disliked the most in recent memory. Lately it seems like many if not most of the wines I’ve posted about I give a 2–glass rating. This one really didn’t make the grade for me though and I dumped it.

The other distinction it has is the lamest shelf-talker. This wine was essentially only described as “pretty”. It was a useless posting and yet despite that, the buyer at this particular HEB grocery decided it was somehow worthy of highlighting. At $9, I thought I’d give it a try to see what was “pretty” about this wine.

With that kind of write-up, I was expecting at least the color to be attractive. But it was kind of a dull purple. The bottle was not corked. At least it didn’t seem to have that damp & musty smell, but it just had a flat taste to it. At best it had what I would characterize as the aroma and taste or an old box or old leather. Some leather on the nose is often a good thing, but in this case, it just didn’t work for me.

About $9. HEB grocery.
old leather.

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