Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lost Coast Indica India Pale Ale


Brewer's Notes: "The India Pale Ale style was developed in the 19th century by British brewers for the troops and colonists living in India.  The ale was brewed extra strong and highly hopped to protect it on its long sea voyage.  True to the style, our Indica has a higher than average alcohol content (6.5% by volume) balanced by radical bittering from select hops.  The result is an ale worthy of its historical name while capturing its own distinctiveness."
Overall Impression
I was lucky enough to get this beer half off during a sale, so I had to try it! I was a bit surprised by the strong bitter taste of the hops which led to an initial dislike.  However, I'm sure those who enjoy a hoppy beer would enjoy this one.  It isn't bad, it just isn't my preference.  I'll still drink it ;) It gets a little less harsh after a few sips and definitely becomes more enjoyable.  I also appreciate creative labels!  I have also tried their Tangerine Wheat Beer which is delicious!

Alcohol by Volume: 6.5%

Color: Orangey golden honey color, slightly cloudy with no visible carbonation and a thin white head.

Light & crisp.

Bittery hops that linger with a semi-dryness. Nice carbonation that flows well over the tongue.  Gets smoother as you drink it.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Grifone Primitivo

Winemaker's Description: "Zinfandel in America... Primitivo in Italy... Mali Plavac in Croatia.. For more than a millenium, the mystery grape of international viticulture travelled all over the world.  Grifone is 100% Primitivo from old Zinfandel vines of Puglia region, a result of a long study made in conjunction with local growers, trying to rediscover the original concentration of fruit, spices and flavours of this historical grape.  Our Primitivo is soft and deep with flavorful vanilla notes and a long finish."

Overall Impression
This is very delicious, and surprisingly so! I bought this for $4 from Trader Joe's, and I'm so glad I did! It was slightly unusual than a typical cheap wine with its spicy and herby notes yet very smooth and delicious.  It goes down easily and isn't too heavy; it has just the right balance of dark fruit and spice.  I would definitely buy and drink again! I want to sip this for hours. I first tried Primitivo at Santa Barbara Winery and fell in love! This is a great varietal.

Lovely deep burgundy with red tinges.

ABV: 13%

Very aromatic with ripe raspberry, plum, blackberry, and a slight earthiness that is very attractive and inviting.  Hints of vanilla.

Very smooth with a light spiciness and lovely notes of dark berry complemented by subtle vanilla. A deep silkiness that lingers and just makes you smile. Finally, a smooth, deep, and complex red for a great price!

Blue Moon Agave Nectar Ale

Brewer's Notes: "Inspired by our brewmaster's travels through Mexico, our Agave Nectar Ale is crafted with agave nectar and white wheat for a subtle sweetness and a smooth, crisp finish.  It's like a little shade in a bottle."
Overall Impression
Very good! I've been putting Agave into my tea a lot lately and I can definitely taste it in this. This is not too sweet but nicely balanced, providing a lovely and refreshing beer that any person would like.  I even taste a bit of banana that is very tasty! I would highly recommend this beer, and I would definitely buy it again.  Delicious.

Alcohol by Volume: 5.6%

Color: light golden and slightly coppery with an orange tint.  Very light carbonation, thin white head.

Light & crisp.

Slightly sweet and very light, smooth and refreshing with hints of banana.  

Blue Moon Rounder Belgian Style Pale Ale

Brewer's Notes: "In the 1940s, Belgian-Style Pale Ales grew in popularity and were ordered by the round due to their balanced taste.  Our brewmaster's expression of this sessionable ale is crafted with hibiscus and orange peel for a hint of spiciness and touch of wheat for a smoother, rounder taste."
Overall Impression
This came in the Blue Moon variety 12-pack I bought.  I was really excited to try a new variety, and was looking forward to the hibiscus they mentioned in the description.  However, I wouldn't go into drinking this beer with that expectation; the only floral notes I picked up on were in the aroma.  This wasn't bad, but it was a little too hoppy for my taste.  It is well balanced though, not too much of an aftertaste and smooth on the tongue.  It gets easier and more pleasant after a few sips though, so I will definitely enjoy finishing it off!
Alcohol by Volume: 5.6%
Color: Dark and coppery, no visible carbonation unless agitated.  Thick, off-white head that sticks to 3 fingers.
Floral and crisp with a hint of wheat.
Hoppy with notes of citrus; lingers for awhile in the first couple sips.  Easy to drink, pleasant. Doesn't taste too different from the usual ale, though (in my opinion).

Santa Maria Inn Wine Cellar, Santa Maria

On the basement level of the historic Santa Maria Inn you will find their wine cellar.  Even though we went on a Friday night, this place was absolutely dead (which worked out well for us because we got great service!).  We had the privilege of sitting in their cute 'cellar room' with pretty murals on the wall.  Luckily for us they were offering a variety of cheese and crackers to go with their tasting!  If you actually stay at the Inn they offer you a free tasting which consists of 4 wines of your choosing.

They also offer a variety of board games to play while you sip on your wine, which was a fun addition especially if you haven't played board games in awhile (like me).

Justin Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon (2011), $25: "Beautifully balanced, with attractive aromas of black fruit and spice, this smooth, ready to drink Cabernet is made with the same care as the highest quality, traditionally-made Bordeaux wines."
  • Color - very dark burgundy.
  • Aroma - semi sweet, black cherry, bold.
  • Taste -dry and lingering deep finish.
  • Aroma - Nothing special but it was a smooth, easy drink (especially for a Cab. Sauv).

Tolosa Winery Pinot Noir (2009), $30: "Looking at its deep hue you think it will be big and brawny in the mouth, but just the opposite is true. The aromas are effusively fruity with blueberry dominant. Unusual for us is the lack of any herbal tones except a hint of dry hay. The mouth is full and soft while still being lively and dynamic enough to be a good companion at the table."
  • Color - very dark.
  • Aroma - very bold dark fruit.
  • Taste - semi dry and earth forward with a subtle spiciness.
  • Overall - Too dry and earthy for my taste; I like a little fruit in my Pinot.

Riverbench Vineyard Pinot Noir Estate (2009): "The Mesa fruit has always had a dramatic difference to it- bright red berries on the palate, with lush textures and a rolling, lingering finish.  You can taste the land in this wine, earthy and mysterious, and it’ll only make you wish you had more."
  • Color - very deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - bright and fruity with raspberry and strawberry hints.
  • Taste - slightly tart finish, fruit forward, with subtle pomegranate
  • Overall - Very flavorful with a lingering tartness.  Very tasty and fruity.

Foley Pinot Noir, Barrel Select (2010), $60: "Our 2010 Barrel Select Pinot Noir is undeniably California in style – ripe, juicy, expressive and exotic. The core aromatics are cocoa powder, espresso, sweet oak and milk chocolate."
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - semi sweet with a hint of blackberry.
  • Taste - lively on the tongue, fruit forward, with plum and raspberry notes.
  • Overall - Best on the list!  Fruit forward with a somewhat tart yet smooth finish.  I'd order again!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Blue Moon Blackberry Tart Ale

Brewer's Notes: "Crafted with the help of our fans, this limited release fills your summer days (& glass) with the taste of rich blackberries, a smooth malty sweetness, and a hint of refreshing tartness."

Overall Impression
This is very tasty and unique! It isn't too overpoweringly sweet or fruity but is a nice variation away from usual beer.  I nearly jumped up and down in the middle of the store when I noticed this new, limited release!  I bought a variety 12-pack for $12, and it was well worth it.  Although I enjoyed this beer, I don't think I could drink more than one or two at a time because of the sweet flavor. 

Alcohol by Volume: 5.8%

Color: Darker with a bronzy / coppery tinge with some amber.  Mostly clear with light carbonation and a thin off-white head.

Crisp and slightly malty.

Fruity blackberry with a slight tartness and smooth yet lingering tart and citrus finish.  Flirty light carbonation flits around the tongue in waves.

Costa De Oro Tasting Room, Santa Maria

We were staying at the Santa Maria Inn and this tasting room happened to be right off the freeway on our exit. We decided to check it out before checking into our hotel, and we are glad we did! The pourer was incredibly friendly and generous and seemed to know a lot of the customers who were already there.  A couple of them were pourers at other tasting rooms and we got a lot of great tips on where to go and what to try.

On Friday nights they also hold an event with live music and wine by the glass or bottle.  While we were still deciding on which wine to try, the pourer let us have a few tastes on the house and the winemaker even came over to give his recommendations! All in all it was a very fun experience and I'd recommend visiting if you get the chance. 

The wines here were great, and it was $10 for a tasting of $6 wines.

Pinot Noir (2010), $29: "Wild raspberry, potpourri with a rich palate of berry and herb flavors.  Gold Medal ~ Central Coast Wine Competition."
  • Color - deep burgundy with a tinge of brown.
  • Aroma - very aromatic with notes of bright raspberry.
  • Taste - herby, earthy and fruit forward; explosive flavors.
  • Overall - This has a very unique flavor and is very tasty.  It was bold yet well-balanced; a great pinot!
Estate Pinot Noir (2011), $35: "Dark berry and floral notes with a cola, earth and rich finish. Gold Medal ~ Central Coast Wine Competition."
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - bright and fruity with some floral notes.
  • Taste - earthy, smooth, medium bodied, with a balanced fruitiness.
  • Overall - This was my favorite on the list! A great and well-balanced Pinot worth trying.
Reserve Pinot Noir (2010)
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - sweet and bold fruit with raspberry and strawberry.
  • Taste - herby and earthy on the front with a smooth finish.  Medium bodied.
  • Overall - I preferred the other Pinots because it was a little too earthy for my taste, but it was still very good.
Mourvedre (2011), $35: "Black cherry, leather and earth with a firm finish of berries and spice."
  • Color - bright garnets, very pretty reds.
  • Aroma - fruity and aromatic.
  • Taste - medium bodied, earthy with cherry notes (opens up beautifully with chocolate!)
  • Overall - Very tasty with some great flavors; definitely have some chocolate with this one.

Pinot Noir Dijon Selection (2009)
  • Color - bright garnet.
  • Aroma - lovely fruit aromatics, especially raspberry and strawberry.
  • Taste - crisp front with a fruity finish.
  • Overall - This was very pleasant and smooth, but on the lighter side for a Pinot.
GSM (2011), $35: "Raspberry, red licorice and lavender with a long, lingering finish.  50% Grenache, 30% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre."
  • Color - bright garnets.
  • Aroma - floral and raspberry.
  • Taste - semi fruity and full bodied.
  • Overall - A little less smooth than the others but not detrimentally.
Cabernet Sauvignon (2011), $35: "Plum, berry, anise and leather with a smooth but firm finish."
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - very lovely fruity aromatics.
  • Taste - leather, black cherry, plum; complex.
  • Overall - This was much heavier than any of their other wines but well-balanced.  It was very pleasant to drink!