California · currant · Merlot · oak · plum · under $10

2011 Oak Leaf Merlot

This is a cheap dry wine.  My husband bought it from Wal-Mart of all places and he paid $2.97 for it!  It seems a bit odd to me that a wine from a vineyard that’s won 40 awards since 2008 would be on sale at Wal-Mart for less than $3.  These are the awards that this particular wine has won:


“SILVER” 2011 Florida State Fair International Wine Competition 

“SILVER” 2010 California State Fair 

“BEST BUY” 2009 Beverage Testing Institute
Let’s just say you definitely get your monies worth.  It’s not a bad wine by any means but I wouldn’t pay more than $6 at full price.  I really love the packaging of wines (I know that’s silly) but it’s often what draws me to the wine.  While I didn’t pick this one out I do like the changing seasons as depicted by the oak tree on the bottle.  

Their website says to pair this wine (with it’s hints of plum and black current) with steamed mussels and fresh tomato sauce over linguine.  We ended up pairing this wine with pizza.  I know SUPER classy but it tasted good:)  At least we got the “fresh tomato sauce” in there!  I may buy this wine again solely based on the price but I’ll admit I’ve had better boxed wine.  Moving on to the next one (after we finish off this bottle of course!)

Give it a try if you want to but don’t expect to be blown away by the taste. 

bad wine · berry · Cabernet Sauvignon · plum · red wine · under $10

2005 Papio Cabernet Sauvignon

Boasting luscious plum and ripe berry flavors this wine does not hold up to its label.  It’s almost as if this after taste happens at the beginning; BEFORE I even taste the wine.  My sense of smell picks up the rancid bite and I make a face even before I try the wine.  It’s terrible at the beginning and then mellows off.  I can’t pick up on any of the flavors becuase of acidity of the wine.  I wouldn’t go as far to say the wine had gone bad but with a 2005 date it could be on it’s last legs.  This wine was brought to a dinner party and the person who brought it forgot to take of the DISCOUNT sticker on the wine (it cost $5).  After researching more recent years 2008 and 2009 it appears they are all priced around $5.  I had to to cut the wine with some Ginger Ale.  The sweetness from the Ginger Ale made the wine tolerable enough to drink (hate wasting it).  I do think the rest of the bottle will need to down the drain. Maybe I’ll pick up a “newer” bottle of Papio some time in the future but I’m going to need awhile to get over this experience.

bittersweet · chocolate · dark cherry · red wine · Spain · Tempranillo · under $10

Lucky Duck Tempranillo Spain

So I’m checking out the bottle to see where it says what type of wine it is; you know Cabernet, Merlot, Shiraz etc.  I looked the bottle over thoroughly and found that I needed to actually Google Tempranillo.  Turns out it is a type of Spanish grape that ripens earlier than others.  The label Tempranillo wine actually refers to the type of Spanish grape used.  It is sometimes mixed with other red wines but with Lucky Duck it is purely Tempranillo. I always like trying new things!

The wine itself is very dark in color.  Digging the dark cherry flavors along with the bite of the bittersweet dark chocolate.  Leaves a bit of a spice after taste and even 5-10 minutes after swallowing a sip I can still taste the flavors on my pallet.  I tried the wine with olives as suggested on the back of the bottle and the combination was so delicious!  I don’t care too much for olives by themselves as they are usually too salty but the bittersweet in the wine complimented the saltiness of the olives perfectly.  Moved on from olives to pasta with vegetable garden sauce and the combination with the wine was satisfactory.  You really need to try it with some salty foods like cheese or olives to get the full affect.  I’d serve this at a dinner party with appetizers.  It’s a bit to bitter for me to enjoy on its own in large quantities (half a glass tops when drinking it solo).  Great wine for the price (~$5).

blackberry · Cabernet Sauvignon · cherry · currant · red wine · under $10

2008 Snap Dragon

A flavorful California red (2008).  Winery notes: 

“Cherry, blackberry and spice with a hint of currant and smooth tannins.”

I never taste a wine for the first time and try to pair it with food.  Unless I’m out at a restaurant or at a wine tasting I try and have a solo glass after the evening meal so I can focus just on the flavors.  My first impression of this wine was YUM!  No rancid after taste (great job with the tannin)!  It left heart burn at home (a problem I usually have with red wines) which made this wine a very smooth choice.  I easily picked up on the blackberry notes and found the aroma to be delicious!  Subsequently my husband and I enjoyed two more glasses a piece!  This would go well with a nice steak and we’ll be sure to have this as a regular choice off our wine rack.  Priced under $10/bottle it’s really an easy purchase to make.

Absolutely love the background story the vineyard created for this wine. Directly off the bottle…. 
“Legend has it… long ago, a farmer befriended a dragon using the creature to guard his crops from raiding poachers.  Flying overhead, the dragon would snap its jaws causing thieves to flee empty handed.  Upon the dragon’s demise, the farmer planted a vine over its majestic body, which in time grew into a vineyard.  Each harvest, the spirit of the dragon lives on inspiring the creation of these delicious wines!”