A Week of Ralph’s Wines

Welcome back to Wine Wednesday!  And what a week it’s been.  To tell the truth, we ended going through 10 bottles this week, but two were repeats.  The rest, as promised, are written up below. Please bear in mind that all prices quoted include a Ralph’s card discount and a 6 bottle minimum purchase discount.  Together, these are substantial, and of course, prices vary.

Cheers!

Tuesday evening:  Gascon Malbec 2013, Mendoza Argentina.

Gascon Malbec - Mendoza - 2013 (13.8%)
Gascon Malbec – Mendoza – 2013 (13.8%)
And then there were 6.
And then there were 6.

OK, it’s a bit of a cheat, since we’ve literally drunk hundreds of bottles of Malbec from Mendoza.  We’ve even had several from Gascon.  However, we’ve never had the 2013, so this wine is new to us.  The color is a dark purple, as one would expect.  On first smell, what hit us was blackberries.  Blackberry jam to be precise.  In the second whiff, we detected hints of chocolate.  Others have apparently smelled licorice in it, but neither of us did.  The tannins become apparent on first taste.  They are round and pleasant.  With time, a slight spiciness makes itself felt as well. This is definitely our kind of wine.  It would stand up beautifully to any steak.  The 2011 vintage got 87 points from Wine Spectator.  Not bad for $8.99 at Ralph’s.

Wednesday Evening:  Ravenswood Zinfandel, Sonoma County, 2012.

Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel - 2012 - Sonoma County (14.5%)
Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel – 2012 – Sonoma County (14.5%)
One more down.
One more down.

This is a perennial favorite of ours.  Ravenswood puts out two cheap Zinfandels, one from Lodi, and one from Sonoma, and Ralph’s carries both.  And we enjoy both.  But the Sonoma is DEFINITELY worth the extra two bucks, especially if you’re about to eat skirt steak and truffled mushrooms (yes truffled mushrooms).   This is a wine that will pair beautifully.

For a second night in a row, blackberries were the first thing we smelled.  Cherries and vanilla soon followed, with a slight trace of cinnamon hiding itself until the taste.  At $9.99 this is a strong contender for best bang for the buck.

Wednesday Evening, bottle 2:  Newman’s Own Cabernet Sauvignon 2013.

We picked this up intentionally as a second bottle (the one you drink when you’re already buzzed and don’t care as much about the quality 😉 ).  It’s by no means a complex wine, but it’s a Cab, so it has some flavor.  And at $6.99, it’s a perfect second bottle.

Thursday evening:  Educated Guess Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley.

Educated Guess Cabermet Sauvignon -  2013 - Napa Valley  (14.5)
Educated Guess Cabermet Sauvignon – 2013 – Napa Valley (14.5)
And... down to  4.
And… down to 4.

We bought this wine for the name because we thought it was appropriate.  And since we already had dinner this evening, we figured it was a good time to try a wine unknown to us.  The color is a dull purple.  The first aromas are of ripe tannins and alcohol (14.5%, woo hoo!).  As the wine breathes, the tannins become rounder and a variety of red fruits, especially cherries, become prominent.  This is a rich, hearty wine, just our kind of thing, and we will definitely be picking it up again.  At $13.99, it’s a steal!

Friday Evening:  Cell Block Shackled Red 2013, Sonoma County.

Cell Block  Shackled Red - 2013 - Sonoma County (15.7%)
Cell Block Shackled Red – 2013 – Sonoma County (15.7%)
Another one bites the dust.
Another one bites the dust.

This complex blend is another perennial favorite of ours.  At 15.7%, it packs quite a punch.  The blend is primarily Zinfandel, with some Temranillo and Petit Syrah thrown in for complexity.  And complexity it has a plenty.  Dark fruits, dark chocolate and ripe tannins meld beautifully with the palpable, powerful alcohol content.  We keep buying it because it pairs well with grilled meats, of which we eat a great deal… and because it costs us $12.99 per bottle.

Saturday Evening:  Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon, 2013.

Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon - 2013 - California (13.8%)
Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon – 2013 – California (13.8%)
And then there were 2.
Only 2 to go.

OK, we’re starting to suspect California wines are simply blackberry heavy.  Again, they’re the first thing we smelled and the first thing we tasted. Later, some caramel became apparent, along with some lovely oak.  It will pair nicely with the lamb we are having this evening, and at $8.99, we’ll definitely be getting it again.

Sunday Evening:  Insurrection Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon, South Eastern Australia.

Insurrection Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon - 2013 - South Eastern Australia (15.5%)
Insurrection Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon – 2013 – South Eastern Australia (15.5%)
Brazin Old Vine Zinfadel - 2013 - Lodi (14.5%)
Last man standing.  And not for long.

This is a really fun wine we’ve had a few times before, and it’s a nice change from the California wines we consume most of the time.  No blackberries here :D.  Lots of red fruits, though, and a good, strong, spicy punch.  Like most of the reds we enjoy, it goes great with just about any meat or other flavorful food.  And it’s $9.99 so it’s quickly making its way to our perennial favorties list.

Monday Evening:  Brazin Old Vine Zinfandel, 2012 Lodi.

Brazin Old Vine Zinfadel - 2013 - Lodi (14.5%)
Brazin Old Vine Zinfadel – 2013 – Lodi (14.5%)
And then there were none.
And then there were none.

Another tasty, full flavored Zin from Lodi.  And more blackberries!  Plus round, ripe tannins, and a trace of coffee. And only $11.99.  A fitting end to the week.

Conclusion

Expensive wines are sometimes worth the price… if you have the money to spend.  But you can still drink very well on a budget.

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