Tag Archives: merlot

2010 Francis Ford Coppola Diamond Collection Merlot

Photo taken from Coppola’s website.

The first time I came across a Francis Ford Coppola wine was after our wedding. Good friends of ours had visited the winery earlier in 2010 and brought us a 2008 Director’s Cut Zinfandel. We had that wine in 2011 and I liked it quite a bit.

Ever since moving to the US, I see Coppola wines all over the place. I have to say, I like their labels and I have decided to go on a mission to try more of the wines. I have a Petit Syrah waiting at home when I get back, and when I arrived at our friends’ house in San Antonio, I saw this bottle of Merlot on the shelves. Naturally, we opened it.

Let me give some background on the wine: The Diamond Collection is a series of 12 different wines, all sourced from California. The Merlot was first made in 1997 and the grapes come from Napa, Sonoma and Monterey. It is a blend of 80% Merlot, 19% Petit Syrah and 1% Syrah grapes and has 13.5% ABV. The wine was aged for 12 months in French oak.

The wine poured in a dark, rich red. The nose was fruity, red berries, kinda what you expect. On the palate, it was a bit on the sweeter side (just a tad), but had a great fruit aroma of raspberry. Add some vanilla to that and the fact that was very smooth, and it was a pretty enjoyable wine. I could see myself drink that on a lot of occasions. A rather simple, yet pleasant wine…

You can find the wine description of the winery here.

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2010 Babble Mendocino County Red

2010 Babble Mendocino County Red Blend

2010 Babble Mendocino County Red Blend

Let me say this right away after those frustrating last couple wine reviews: I was quite happy with this one, so my bad luck streak is broken!

A while back, my fellow blogger Talk-A-Vino posted a short review about this wine I had seen a couple of times at Trader Joe’s but never bought it. I guess the label was a bit wacky for me…thanks to Talk-A-Vino, I decided to give it a try. Here is what he had to say about the wine’s 2008 bottle:

2008 Babble Mendocino County Red Wine (13.7% ABV, $6.99) – blend of 36% Petite Syrah, 26% Syrah, 17% Merlot, 10% Carignane, 10% Grenache and 1% Malbec. Deep purple color, hint of blackberries on the nose, touch of oak, some cherries and a bit of spice box on the palate, very gentle tannins, good acidity. Paired very well with TJ’s Pulled Beef Brisket in smoky BBQ sauce. The text on the label is priceless and somewhat nicely mocking all the “over-sophisticated” wine reviews. Drinkability: 7+.

Obviously, we did not have the same vintage to try, but I was quite satisfied with the 2010. The wine still costs $6.99 at Trader Joe’s. According to Trader Joe’s website it is a blend of “Petit Sirah, Syrah, Merlot, Carignane, and Grenache, with just a touch of Malbec” which confirms what Talk-A-Vino had assembled in information. According to TJ, it is aged for 24 months in French and American oak barrels.

The wine we poured was of medium dark ruby red color. In the nose I got red fruits, some marzipan (almond), and a slightly salty smell. It was light bodied and silky, with cherry and chocolate notes, low tannins and a nice pepper note paired with good acidity. I thought it was very drinkable and fun. The pizza I had with it brought out more pepper and vegetal notes in the wine.

As the price suggests, this is not a special occasion wine but I think it is a decent, uncomplicated everyday wine that also should go well with a host of different foods. And, as Talk-A-Vino says, the label is priceless.

Thanks for pointing this one out, Anatoli!

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Trader Joe’s Reserve 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley and 2010 Merlot Paso Robles

The duo

We spent last night over at friends, making burritos and catching up. After we were done with our by now obligatory Vinho Verde Espiral, we moved on to two other Trader Joe’s wines that I had not yet tasted. I was quite excited because I hear/read that the Trader Joe’s Reserves are pretty good (I am sure you have heard that before as well: “Giving you a $20 wine for $10”, and stuff like that – btw who comes up with that stuff? It totally sounds like a marketing gimmick by TJ’s itself!!). Well, here is what I thought:

First up was the 2010 Trader Joe’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Dry Creek Valley. Now, I am usually not an overly big fan of cab savs. On paper, they have everything that gets me going in a red wine: red berries and red fruit, healthy tannins. Yet, they seldom impress me. I find a lot of them unbalanced and somehow unappealing. In my experience, the grape is much better in blended wines than as a single varietal wine. I have had some great ones thanks to an American friend of ours who went on a mission to make me try good cab savs while we were still in Germany. She succeeded in that I do not shy away completely when they are offered to me. This one had the typical dark red color, and the cork was nicely reddened (I have not had a red wine in a bit, as I noticed when I smiled looking at the cork…just something about those stains). In the nose, I got a lot of vanilla notes. On the palate, not so much: more cherries and dark berries. I was greeted by strong, unwelcome oaky flavors, with some strawberries thrown in. This was soon followed by what I can only describe as “greenness”, tasting like the grapes were not ripe or the grape skins and stems standing way too long in the juice after pressing. It is a bit like biting into a fresh branch. It was surprisingly sweet, and had a short finish. I did not care for it very much. I cross checked with Nina, who loves cab sav, and her facial reaction confirmed my impression. This is not for me.

Second up was the 2010 Trader Joe’s Reserve Merlot Paso Robles. A lot of people shun merlot (namely those that watched the movie Sideways…), but I have not been turned off by the grape. Again, I think it is often better when blended, but the single varietal wines usually are not letting me down. I am not having many bottles of it in my cellar, though. It poured well and looked dark red, yet a bit lighter than the cab sav. The nose was subtle, almost subdued. It tasted of strawberry and some vanilla, with later apple notes coming in (weird, but not unpleasant!). Slightly green tasting, with a mild smokiness. The finish was medium long. I thought this was much better than the cab sav, a good pour at the end of the evening. Not wild crazy about it, but a decent wine.

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