Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Great Gift Idea - Tastingroom.com review

A while back I received a free sample from Tastingroom.com. (They currently have a buy 3 for the price of 2 special going on right now!  Guaranteed to ship by Christmas if you order by the 20th.)  What sets TastingRoom.com apart from all the other online wine stores is they sell sample packs of the wine in 50ml or 100ml bottles so you get the "try before you buy" experience like you would in a real tasting room without the costs of traveling to wine country.  Depending on the pack that you order you get 4 to 6 small bottles of wine per pack and then you can buy the wines you like.  All the wines of this particular sample pack range in price from $15-20 per standard 750ml bottle.  The price of the 50ml sample packs range from $20-50 with the majority being $20-33.  The 100ml samples range widely from $4-18 dollars for a single small bottle.  The wineries range from ones I've never heard of to heavy hitters like LaetitiaSilver Oak, and Duckhorn.

I received the "A Taste Adventure: Food Friendly Wines" sample pack ($30).  This consists of six 50ml bottles of wine.  Three whites and three reds, the line up was: 2011 Lake Chalice Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand; 2008 Chardonnay by Urraca from Mendoza, Argentina; 2009 Lucas & Lewellen Chenin Blanc from Santa Barbara County; 2010 Il Cuore "The Heart" Barbera from Mendocino County; 2009 Stickybeak Syrah from California; 2009 Penley Estate "Condor" Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Down Under.  

A bit of a warning for anytime you have having wine shipped to you.  First and foremost, if you can have it shipped to your work do that!  Someone 21+ will have to sign for it so they can't just leave it on your door step.  UPS is a pain in the butt to try and track what time something will be delivered.  If you are receiving from UPS and you cannot get deliveries at work and don't want to feel trapped at home all day waiting for a delivery, then you need to set up an account online with UPS (or possibly call them up) and then you can have the package delivered to the store and you can simply pick it up during normal business hours.

Now for the reviews:

2009 Lucas & Lewellen Chenin Blanc from Santa Barbara, CA is a tasty pale greenish-yellow wine with scents of green apple, pear, and tropical notes.  The wine is crisp and refreshing making it a very good summer white wine.  Pair it with raw oysters, tilapia, or other subtle fish dishes.

2011 Lake Chalice Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand is lacking the usual strong green/vegetative flavors that I have come to expect from an NZ Sauv.  This wine features tropical notes and hints of grapefruit and herbs on the nose. On the palate there are more tropical notes as well as lemon, lime, and slight herb notes as well.  Not the overpowering asparagus and such that we have come to expect from NZ.  The wine is has racing acidity and saying it is crisp is an understatement.  It is a little bizarre to have that much acidity without many green flavors, but as I'm not a fan of vegetative flavors (unless it pares with whatever I'm eating e.g. herbs in a Cab F. with an herb-encrusted roast) I liked it.

2008 Urraca Chardonnay from Agrelo, Mendoza, Argentina:  I very rarely review Chardonnays, this is no exception.

2009 Stickybeak Syrah is made with grapes from three counties in California: Monterrey (57%), Napa (25%), and Sonoma (18%).  Monterrey and Sonoma are known for making great Syrahs and Napa is known for great Bordeaux varietals so I figured it would be pretty good and true to form which it is.  The wine has a lovely dark ruby color and the bouquet has heavy oak, cedar, and dark cigar notes with aromas of black fruits.  On the palate there is black plum, black pepper, vanilla, blackberry, concord grape, and a slight savory herbal element.  There is a lovely little coffee nuance on the finish.  The tannins are nice and round, but the acidity is a little high so it would be better with food than without.

2010 Il Cuore Barbera from Mendocino County, CA is very oaky and smokey with notes of concord grapes, sour cherry, and savory hints.  The acidity is bright as one should expect from a Barbera.

2009 Penley Estates "Condor" is a blend of 52% Shiraz and 48% Cab hailing from the Coonawarra region of Australia.  This is my favorite red of the group.  It was dark purple with a dark ruby rim.  The wine exploded  from the glass with jam, white peppercorns, and a little smokiness.  On my palate the jam and white pepper continued and were joined by fresh dark berries with herbal notes.  The tannins were soft and sultry with a little gravely astringency.  The wine is ready now and it will continue being wonderful for a few years to come.

So in conclusion this is a great way to try wines that you won't normally come across and if you aren't blessed with living near wine country then this is a much less expensive way to taste great wines than traveling to wine country.  Of course, traveling and experiencing is far more enjoyable for most people, but this is a great substitute.  This is also a great gift idea if you have a picky wine drinker (like me) on your Secret Santa list..

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