Archive for April, 2010


Relax Riesling 2008

Over the years, it has become obvious that I have quite a Teutonic streak. I usually have one German obsession going at any given time. Werner Herzog, Popol Vuh, Kraftwerk, etc. I’ve been reading a little about German wines and my mother-in-law was in town and wanted a Riesling. Coincidence? I will find any reason to drink.

I’m not going to drink a lot of Rieslings, but this was a fun, fruity wine that went well with the warming days. This particular bottle was from the Schmitt Sohne label, who produces a lot of wines from the fatherland (uh, Germany). I wasn’t particularly fond of the packaging and branding attempt at all, but I forgive Europe all the time for more serious transgressions, so what the Hell.

Relax Riesling is fruity like a fresh peach and a tart apple. it did have a good acidity to cut through the sweetness, which sort of calms after a few sips. It smells of fruit peelings, which I really liked, and it coats the glass with an almost oil-like viscosity. It reminded my of a dry Muscadine.

If your looking for a wine for an outdoor party or cookout, grab a Riesling. Germany is really coming into its own, according to many experts (of which I am not). I am sure you will have fun with it, though.

3 out of 5 strikes.

(post by Tre)


2008 Root One Sauvingnon Blanc

Root 1 Sauvignon Blanc has been one of our favorites for a while now, and it’s embarrassing to think about how much money we’ve spent on it.

 The white wine is pretty sour and citrusy, typical of Sauv. Blancs.  More fruit taste breaks through than in other types of the same varietal.  It has a strong bite, and if that’s not something you enjoy then this wine isn’t for you.

 Many whites tend to be bland.  Even though the Sauv. Blanc varietal is more like grapefruit juice than grape juice, Root 1 in particular is strong.  It goes extremely well with spicy food, especially Asian or Mexican food.  The spice and sour flavors even each other out.

 It’s refreshing in a weird way, like a glass of sour lemonade during the middle of summer. 

 Interestingly, this wine is one of the only ones available in the US that’s made with actual root stock, hence why it’s called Root 1.  But we’ll get into this more later, with our second post about Root One.

4 out of 5 strikes


Ruggero di Tasso’s Nero d’Avola 2007

Trader Joe’s has a way of making you buy things you normally would not. Chocolate covered candied ginger, shortbread cookies, and pre-seasoned fish to name a few, but ultimately the wines get me. I’m all for the more challenging $20 bottle, but I’m also not made of cash, so a solid bargain wine is welcome at our house anytime.

Ruggero di Tasso’s Nero d’Avola had the rock bottom price of $4.99 and, for a solid table wine, tasted better than the price suggested. Disclaimer – if I had bought a $5 bottle of wine where I’m originally from, I would have been planning on drinking it in the parking lot…cause life was bad.

This Sicilian was round and sweet with a deep nose. I could actually smell the fruit, like most big production labels (think animal or body part bottles), but I could also smell black cherries and little oak. Light tannins made for a slippery finish, but it wasn’t soft enough to roll over the garlic I was cooking with.

This is a pretty darn good table, or rather, jelly jar wine for the summer. It doesn’t even need a wine glass proper, just pour it in to a small glass after you pour some into your sauce. It has a blackberry flavor that I really liked. Took the bruschetta with white cheddar & parsley I was snacking on to a wonderful place. Increasingly looking forward to my garden.

3 out of 5 strikes

(Post written by Tre)


Trentatre Rosso 2008

When it comes to reds, I usually want dirty, oaky ones. I like a little compost flavor. Deep, dark, full and rich. I really like the South American stuff of the past few years. The Australian’s seem to be a little too sweet for me on the whole, but I’m game. I’m beginning to revisit American and Italian wines. This is all easy, considering my love of drinking.
Trentatre is a three-part blend that has spent six months in oak barrels. The name literally means thirty-three in Italian. It is 33.3 cabernet, 33.3 merlot, 33.4 montepulciano grapes all grown in the Apulia Region in Southern Italy. It has a bruised flavor upon opening that gives way to a really nice oaky-ness once it’s had some air.
Trentatre Rosso was recently featured on the San Francisco Weekly’s “Cheap Wines That Don’t Suck” blog. They speculated that it tastes older than it is because the vintner uses older barrels, which is a practice that is not necessarily popular today.
It was full and fruity but with a moderate finish. Plums and cherries make for good company. I loved its oak tinge, and it was just tannic enough to be perfect with a ripe tomato, a handful of basil from the garden, some fresh mozzarella and bread. All drenched in olive oil.
A good summer food wine. Bring it on!
4 out of 5 strikes.

(Wine sampled by/post written by Tre)


Parados Cab Sauv ‘08

The Parados Cab Sauv is not super dry, like most Cabs we favor.  It’s shockingly smooth, really lacking the bitter bite of a Cab.  But dryness is a big part of why people purchase cabs.  And it happens to please our palates as well.

The cab’s not sweet, though, falling somewhere else on the spectrum away from the opposite of dry.

It’s typical of a South American wine, which we tend to purchase frequently (look for many posts on the topic in the future).  It’s flavorful but not fruity.  It’s smooth yet bold.  And there’s no dry aftertaste or bite.

The flavor itself is subtle.  It doesn’t have that cheap, watery taste, but it doesn’t have much kick, either.  At least as far as flavor is concerned; this one sneaks up on you and will knock you flat.  We had about 2.5 glasses each and felt the effects quickly and heavily. But hey, red season is drawing to a close, so what better way to go out?

We both agreed that months ago when we dove headfirst into Wino-ism that we enjoyed this particular wine more, but we’re not quite as impressed these days.  We hope it’s because we’ve found several better ones since then, and not due to declining quality of the wine.

But considering we’ve gone through dozens and dozens of new brands since then, we feel like our tastes are just changing.  And we’d still recommend Parados Cab Sauv, and (as of now) we’d unconditionally recommend South American reds, which we’ll be posting much more about in the near future.

3 out of 5 strikes

(This post written by Janey and Greg)



(This Wine the Lightning post comes from Tre Berney and is about a South African  Sauvignon Blanc, not a Flaming Lips album of a remarkably similar name.  He also came up with our new rating scale!)

Picking up a bottle of white from South Africa sounded interesting enough. The packaging grabbed me with its exotic look. I have the same basic interest in trying wines from tumultuous climates as I do in visiting them, returning afterward to my temperate home base.

I didn’t know anything about South Africa’s lengthy winemaking history, dating back to the mid-1600s. It was once said to have produced one of the best wines on the globe. Recently, the Wine Of Origin system was set up in 1973 in order to insure that the grapes come from the proper designated farms, concentrated mainly in the Cape Town area. It now serves as the guardian for over 60 different appellations centered mainly in the cities of Paarl, Stellenbosch and Worcester.

This Zafrika sauvignon blanc was on the dry side, sort of crispy, with hints of tangerine and lime. The bottle mentioned a green pepper flavor, but I didn’t get that. Nonetheless, it was complex enough without being overly so. I prefer a simple white. The fruity sweetness oddly came in the form of a tangy finish that lingered longer than you would think for such a dry sauv. blanc.

It had an almost champagne color in the glass, very clear. I drank it along side grilled Ahi tuna steaks marinated in soy & lemon juice with a small potato and salad.

I recommend.

I give it 3 strikes of lightning out of 5.

(Post by Tre Berney, Wine the Lightning‘s Northern Virginia correspondent.)

April 2010
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