Category Archives: Between $15 and $19.99 | Reviewed

Bodegas Valdemar | A Legacy of Innovation in La Rioja

Bodegas Valdemar | A Legacy of Innovation in La Rioja

Bodegas Valdemar

My incredibly loyal readers know just how fond I am of Spanish wines. They often seriously over-deliver for the price and have an endearing ability to combine the best aspects of old-world wines (balanced, food-friendly and terroir-driven) with those of new world wines (more fruit-forward).

As a Sommelier friend was recently explaining to me, if he is looking to introduce a new world wine drinker to the old-world wine scene, he always starts in Spain. And if he were introducing them to the wines of Bodegas Valdemar, he would have both modern and old-world options to choose from within the same portfolio!

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Famiglia Bianchi Malbec Review | World’s Best Red Wine?

Famiglia Bianchi Malbec Review | World’s Best Red Wine?

Famiglia Bianchi Malbec

Last year the annual wine competition known as the “Vinalies Internationales’ took place in Paris. The event is organized by the French Winemakers Association with the intent to identify the best wines in the world. Over 3,500 wines were presented from 41 countries to be evaluated blindly by 150 members of the international judging panel. Amongst the contestants: the Famiglia Bianchi Malbec 2012 from Casa Bianchi Winery in Mendoza, Argentina.

The results were shocking: Not only was it the first wine from Argentina to receive the top honors from the prestigious panel, but the Famiglia Bianchi Malbec 2012 was awarded the Grand Trophy of “World’s Best Red Wine”.

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Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 | Trader Joe’s Wine

Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 | Trader Joe’s Wine Review

Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011

There are so many wines available well under $10 in the Trader Joe’s Wine Section that when you come across a $17 bottle of wine, it actually seems relatively expensive! Typically you might be happy to find a respectable bottle of wine for $17 in a wine shop, as prices of the more desirable selections quickly head north from there.

The Trader Joe’s wine specialist was quick to not only recommend the Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 but also to reassure me that it wasn’t expensive at all – but rather a steal for what you’re getting beneath the cork – one of Italy’s top red wines at a fraction of the usual cost. Music to my ears! So let’s pop the cork on the Conte di Bregonzo Amarone della Valpolicella 2011 and see just how good this Amarone is!

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Northstar Merlot Review | A Merlot for Cab Lovers?

2010 Northstar Merlot Review | Northstar Winery

Northstar Merlot

Two of my best friends are decamping the Washington D.C. area and are relocating to Seattle sometime this year. While I’m not exactly thrilled that they are moving to the other side of the country, it will give me a great excuse to visit beautiful Washington State from time to time and perhaps even explore it’s burgeoning wine country – where Northstar Merlot is produced.

Already big wine-lovers, their impending move has them drinking almost exclusively Washington State wines these days. It has been great fun to pop the cork on several different examples and most of them have been great if not excellent. One of their favorite go-to bottles has been the Northstar Merlot, which they regularly find for under $30.

But then they told me that the highly-acclaimed 2010 Northstar Merlot was being sold in the Costco Wine Section for under $20! So naturally I jumped at the opportunity to grab a case before it sold out – as the best deals always seem to do.

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A Taste of Stinson Vineyards | Rose & Meritage Review

A Taste of Stinson Vineyards | Rose & Meritage Review

Stinson Vineyards

The Historic Piedmont House originally built in 1796. Photo credit: StinsonVineyards.com

Stinson Vineyards is a small, family-run winery located in Crozet, Va. The father/daughter winemaking team of Scott and Rachel Stinson sought to produce fine wines in Virginia with a winemaking philosophy that is strongly influenced by those of the French, and especially the controversial ‘garagiste’ winemakers of France.

Rather appropriate then is the fun fact that the winery at Stinson Vineyards is actually built into an old 3 car garage on the 12 acre property. That may be all they have in common with the garagiste winemakers however as Stinson Vineyards focuses on “…European-style wines that emphasize subtlety and complexity rather than power and super-ripeness…” The latter attributes essentially being the goals of the French garagiste winemakers who defy mainstream, more traditional French winemaking practices.

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Costco Champagne | Kirkland Signature Brut Review

Costco Champagne | Kirkland Signature Brut Review

Costco Champagne

If this is you’re very first visit to The Fermented Fruit then welcome and thanks for visiting! I hope you come back and visit often. If you’re one of my totally incredible regular readers though, then you probably know just how much I love sparkling wine, especially Champagne!

Despite my profound love of Champagne, I can’t bring myself to regularly spend upwards of $40 on a bottle of bubbly; hence why I drink wines like the La Marca Prosecco, Lunetta Prosecco and Roederer Estate Brut more often. But sometimes you just want to drink real Champagne so today we’re tasting an affordable option that blends both my love of Costco and Champagne: The Kirkland Signature Brut, otherwise known as Costco Champagne!

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Roederer Estate Brut Review | Cristal’s American Relative

Roederer Estate Brut Review | Cristal’s American Relative

Roederer Estate Brut

In 1982, Jean-Claude Rouzaud selected a 580 acre vineyard site in California’s Anderson Valley with the intent to expand and further build upon his long family tradition of producing world-class sparkling wine.

The descendant of the founder of Champagne Louis Roederer, Jean-Claude Rouzaud was running the highly successful family company when he decided to bring his vision of Champagne to the United States in the form of Roederer Estate. Six years after locating this ideal, sizable site near the Mendocino Coast, the Roederer Estate Brut was born!

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Meerlust Rubicon Review | Meerlust Estate Winery

Meerlust Rubicon 2007 | Meerlust Estate Winery

Meerlust Estate Rubicon

Since 1756 and under the stewardship of eight generations of the Myburgh family the Meerlust Estate has been producing world-class wine in Stellenbosch, South Africa – namely the Meerlust Rubicon. It’s predominantly clay soils engender vines that are cooled by evening ocean air in the summertime, allowing for optimal growing conditions and slowly ripening fruit.

The idea to craft ‘Rubicon” on the estate, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc, was inspired by Nico Myburgh’s time in Bordeaux. He identified that the terroir of the Eerste River Valley in South Africa was similar to that of Bordeaux’s Gironde River, being composed of clay and granite soils cooled by sea breezes.

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Terrazas Reserva Malbec Review | Terrazas Winery

Terrazas Reserva Malbec 2009 | Terrazas de los Andes

Terrazas Malbec

The Terrazas Reserva Malbec hails from the province of Luján de Cuyo, located in Mendoza, Argentina, far away from Malbec’s origins in the south of France. Not far off, however, is some serious French influence. It turns out that in the 1950s the French Champagne producer Maison Moët & Chandon commissioned their wine analyst, Renaud Poirier, with the task of exploring the possibility of South American wine production. Renaud’s conclusion: That Luján de Cuyo was the best location in South America for fine wine production.

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Bodega Monteviejo Lindaflor ‘Petite Fleur’ 2009 Red Blend Mendoza

Lindaflor Petite Fleur Review

While I really enjoy single-varietal wines, like a 100% Cabernet or a 100% Malbec, I find that they sometimes lack something or that they can be one-dimensional. The Cabernet might be too tannic and need to some age to soften and the Malbec might lack the underlying structure to withstand cellaring. They don’t benefit from the harmonization that blending can bring to a wine. But today’s specimen has been fashioned by none other than Laura Catena: the Bodega Monteviejo Lindaflor ‘Petite Fleur’ 2009 Red Blend from Mendoza, Argentina.

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