Tag Archives: wine blog

New Age

Cost: Average price $9.99

Where buy now: Available readily – $9

Grapes: 90% Torrontes, 10% Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Argentina

Vintage: {tip N/V or Non Vintage Wines are wines that don’t meet the quality standards of the winery. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad wine (usually the worst of it just gets distilled into pure alcohol), just that it doesn’t have the characteristics normally associated with the winery.}N/V{/tip}

New Age

Only good can come from a visit when you ask the store manager, “When does your wine sale end?” and the response is, “Oh, this isn’t our Spring Wine Sale, this is normal”. What?!? Sometimes you forget about the places in your own backyard. Such was the case with Sorella Wines & Spirits http://www.sorellawines.com/Sorella . I stopped in last Friday due to a Tweet that mentioned a good looking line up for tasting and a couple specials. I walked out with four bottles and a little more understanding about the place.

Chris, the general manager, is a swell dude who told me Sorella (Italian for sister) is the name, as his mom and two aunts are the owners. These are the same folks who owned Liquor Depot [RIP], but this place is a bit more diverse than the old keg & case stop before the Twins game.

At any given time, Chris claims they have 400+ bottles on sale. He also cryptically said there is no set date for their Spring Wine Sale (just to keep us on our seats? Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see). Prior to talking with Chris, I scoped out the prices and their wines were right on. So “right”, that I thought this _was_ the wine sale! If you live or work in or around the downtown Mpls area, this is a great go-to. Right off 35W, there’s free parking behind the store, located underneath yet another mildly successful condo development.

If you’re following me at all on Twitter of Facebook(and if you’re not, you’re sorely missing out on other great wines on special plus you get to know more about me and my drink-capades!), you’d know that I’m all about the Tincho right now, especially since we’ve been catapulted into this warmer than usual weather.


What is a Tincho? http://www.valentinbianchi.com/Valentinbianchi http://www.valentinbianchi.com Warning: when you go to this website, some kind of cross between Latin jazz [Argentinian?] and easy-listening music will play if your sound is on. But I digress.

In the early nineteen hundreds, an Italian man immigrated to Argentina. His name was Valentin Eduardo Bianchi (sounds dreamy already, doesn’t he?), and he created the Bodegas Valentin Bianchi winery. Flash forward decades later: his grandson enters the world, and was nicknamed “Tincho” which means “young Valentin”. Valentin Jr., poured the New Age wine over ice, added a little lime and voila – the drink is now called a “Tincho”. Tincho is hyped as Argentina’s number one drink of choice, and I can definitely see why. It is sparkly, citrusy and thirst-quenchingly delicious, much like a margarita but without all that icky sweetness. New Age has a pale golden-greenish tint to it. It’s lightly acidic, fruity and ever so slightly effervescent.

I tried New Age for the first time when I was out for Sushi. Our waitress forgot to bring ice and lime over and I couldn’t wait to take a sip. Um, yeah, no- not so great on it’s own (I’m not crazy about sweet wines). That said, if you like Vinho Verde or Riesling, you may like this on it’s own. Or, do as I and millions of Argentinans do and pour this baby over ice with lime (extra lime for me, please) and the bubbles, lime and ice are all doing the Tango in your mouth.

What’s great is this wine is only between 9-10% alcohol, much lower than other wines, so you can have one of these little Tinchos any time, throughout the day (shhh, co-workers may actually be reading this). You can find New Age at several stores; I’m highlighting it at Sorella’s because it’s going for about $8.

Stop in, check out their “non-sale, sale” and wait to see what more goodies go on sale during their actual Spring Wine Sale! PS – you won’t find a clusterf*ck of carts in aisles at this store!

Franco Serra Barbera d’Alba

Cost: Average price $11

Where buy now: Surdyk’s- $9.99

Grapes: Barbera

Region: Barbera d’Alba, Italy

Vintage: 2010

Franco Serra Barbera d’Alba

While seeking one of my favorites recently, Ruvei Barbera d’Alba, I come to find out Surdyk’s doesn’t carry it any more. Why, oh why? I was turned on to this wine years ago when a friend gave it to me, and it has been my go-to splurge (typically around $20/bottle) ever since.

So, I asked, “What Barbera would you suggest that’s comparable yet under $15?” I was directed to this: Franco Serra Barbera [bar-bear-ah].

Later that afternoon, we went out with an old college friend. It was two of the worst hours of my life. And I mean it. A visit to my “ladyparts” doctor would feel like a Disney ride compared to this. I was miserable. This friend (whom shall remain nameless) not only showed up over an hour late, he appeared stoned, drunk and everything in between. I spent two hours listening to his loud, lewd, and drunken drivel, while not letting anyone else speak. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Now, I know you’re thinking, “What’s this? The Savvy Lush can’t stand her old pal’s inebriation?” No, friends, I follow the sentiment of the late, great imbiber extraordinaire, Hunter S. Thompson, who once said: “There is nothing worse than a sloppy drunk.”

I came home and I needed to find my happy place and FAST! I grabbed the Barbera, and tapped the juice so fast you’d have thought I was Houdini. I poured a big ol’ glass. I needed to erase my last two hours, so more ambiance was required. I ran to the stereo to add the sonic bliss of Andrea Boccelli. I sat down, dog at my feet, and began to sink into the sofa. With each gorgeous note the tenor sang and with each sip of delicious wine I swallowed, I could feel my soul being restored.

This Barbera smelled of dark red fruit and wafts of soothing Italian breezes (go with me, now). The taste was velvety smooth, with hints of strawberry, mild spice and chocolate. The tannins are mild and there is little acidity in this medium-bodied red. This is a food friendly wine, as any Italian wine should be, but what I love about Barbera is you can drink it alone. As you can see in the picture, I enjoyed the wine alongside a Capicolla & Asiago Trader Joe’s sampler pack and some yummy dark chocolate from Kowalski’s (wine + meat & cheese = $6!). It was all working, and I finally found my happy place.

This is a tasty little number. I’m still sad that the Ruvei was no longer in stock at Surdyk’s as that one will still remain a favorite. However, the Franco Serra will more than suffice, and for a few bucks less, may become my new go-to Barbera.

Arizona Stronghold – Cabernet Sauvignon “Dala”

Cost: Average price $25

Where buy now: Vinifera – $24.99

Grapes: Arizona Stronghold: Cabernet Sauvignon “Dala”

Region: Cochise County, Arizona

Vintage: 2009

Arizona Stronghold Cabernet Sauvignon

I recently saw the documentary, “Blood Into Wine”, www.bloodintowine.com/Blood Into Wine the story of wine makers pioneering the terroir of northern Arizona (most notably, Maynard Keenan, front man for bands such as Tool and A Perfect Circle). A real triumph of man vs. nature, these guys attempt to coax the finicky climate into producing consistent, quality vino. Intrigued, I decided I needed this wine.

The winery, named Caduceus, lists but one, yes, ONE Minnesota shop on their website who carries their wine. Where did this city gal venture to sample this precious nectar? Vinifera, located on the Plymouth/Wayzata border, about 15 minutes from downtown Minneapolis. Sexy Wayzata, home of Brandon and Brenda Walsh!

As I walk in to this cute shop, I am greeted by a sweet golden retriever just milling about. I soon met the owner, Christian, and we chatted about “Blood into Wine”. He explained that all Caduceus wine has been taken off the retail shelves and is only available from the tasting room in Arizona. Boo-urns! Thankfully, he did have four bottles from the Arizona Stronghold winery (a joint venture between Mr. Tool & Eric Glomski). The Cabernet Sauvignon & Chardonnay are solely produced from Arizona-born grapes, and they also make two blends (a red and a white) from Napa Valley grapes. Well, the curiosity of the AZ grape is what brought me there, so I went for the Cab. At $24.99, this was steep for my wallet, but I had to roll the dice. Was this wine worth the price AND the drive?

Later that evening, I inspect the bottle. I cannot believe I’m going to crack a $25 bottle of wine on a Monday night. Who am I? I work for a non-profit for rice lakes! I gingerly open it and pour a glass, letting it breathe for about 10 minutes while I prepared a quick spinach salad with red onion, gorgonzola dolce cheese, tomatoes and vinaigrette. I sat down and stuck my nose in the glass for good whiff of this Arizona swill. I smelled cherry, mild spice and chocolate [dare I say even a little earth? This could the documentary’s influence]. The taste was all Cab – fuller bodied, dark red fruit with undertones of chocolate and spice. It paired quite well with the gorgonzola. I like this creamy gorgonzola dolce [sweet gorgonzola] found at Lund’s, Byerly’s, Kowalski’s, etc. (the fancy-pants joints).

After the salad, I just had to grab some dark chocolate to complete the evening. I recently bought some 65% cacao dark chocolate (on sale at Kowalski’s), so into my face it went. I let the chocolate melt a little before dropping in for another whiff. Oh, yeah – now the chocolate scent was pronounced. I continued to let the square shrink on my tongue as melty chocolate ribbons oozed down my throat. “Now it’s time!” I thought. I took a sip of the Stronghold and sat back, my eyes rolling. “Wow!” I thought, “I may do this every Monday”. My only criticism of the wine is that I wished it had a longer finish. So delicious, I wanted the flavor to hang out a little more in my mouth. What’s the rush, man? Chill. Stay a while.

Was my jaunt out to Wayzata/Plymouth worth it? Hells yes! I wished I hadn’t gone over my lunch hour because I would have perused the shelves. Christian remarked that 80% of their wines are Californian, but they do carry wines from all over the world. I’ll keep these guys in my back pocket as I saw they carry wines I haven’t seen outside Sonoma! If you live in the Western suburbs, add this stop to your weekend or nightly errands.

March is here and that means inconsistent and often times, crappy winter weather. Here’s my suggestion for a decadent evening: Stop over to Vinifera www.viniferawinesandales.com/Vinifera and pick up a bottle of the Arizona Stronghold Cabernet, rent “Blood into Wine” and pick up some good dark chocolate. Nestle into the couch with your goodies and relax. It’ll be like Mr. Roger’s “Picture Picture” for adults.