Wine Wednesday – 2011 Napa Cellars Merlot

Hello, hello!

It’s time for another edition of Wine Wednesday!


I’ve really been wanting some Merlots lately. I can’t explain it.

Normally, I’m all about the big grape (Zinfandel or Syrah) or a blend but lately…….

So, when I saw this one – I was TOTALLY drawn in by the label, the fact that it was on sale happened to be a bonus! – I decided it was time to give it a taste. 🙂


I know nothing about Napa Cellars. In fact, I’d never heard of it before.

But, there are quite a few wineries in Napa that I don’t know of, so that shouldn’t come as a shock.

But, I’ve never even seen that label before. EVER. And, I’ve been in a lot of wine shops and looked at a lot of different wine labels.



 Some of my favorite things about a Merlot are the fruit flavors and the soft tannins.

There’s something to be said about enjoying a glass of wine that almost seems to WANT to be savored. 🙂


On the nose, I got warm spice, vanilla, and fruit. Not too much berry – more of a deeper, denser fruit.

The tasting notes indicate that it was plum but I didn’t pick that up specifically. I’ll tell you what though, if it had been raspberry, I coulda told you in a heartbeat.  I am not friends with the raspberry.


When I tasted it, I knew I had selected well.

Luscious berry fruit, a hint of mocha, soft and silky, lightly spicy undertones.

You can pair this Merlot with many things (fish and spicy foods, not so much) or just enjoy it on its own.

Seriously, this wine wants to be savored. And shared.

We paired it with grilled chicken, veggies, corn, bread, and brie.


Would have shared it with you had you been our guest. 🙂

Talk to me: Have you ever been sucked in by a wine label and been pleasantly surprised? Disappointed? If you could, would you grill all the dinner all the time? (Um, my answer to that is YES!!!)

– jennifer

Wine Wednesday – Sterling Vintner’s Collection 2011 Meritage

Hello, hello!

Guess what day it is? Whoop, Whoop!

wine wednesday


I had to stop in my local Farm Fresh grocery store to pick up a few “middle of the grocery shopping trips” essentials and you know I had to browse the wine selection for a good deal. I can’t help myself.

And, I was rewarded nicely for my “efforts” with this little gem!


Basically, a $20 bottle of wine for HALF OFF! #hooklineandsinker

Plus, I’m a HUGE fan of a Bordeaux-style blend and this one was calling my name:

46% Cabernet Sauvignon, 42% Merlot, 6% Malbec, 4% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc.

That makes 100%, right? 😉

As you can see, it comes from Sterling Vineyards and is part of their Sterling Vintner’s Collection.


Now, as you can see, the bottle just says “Central Coast” so it’s hard to tell where exactly the grapes come from. They have several vineyards as you can see here.

While it’s nice to know where the grapes come from so you can get an idea of the potential flavor profile, when you’re buying a blend, especially of 5 different grapes, the combination of them is going to make their own distinct profile just showcasing certain nuances from each grape. And, when you’re looking at a high-production winery such as Sterling Vineyards, all of their vineyards are well established and known to produce excellent grapes. So, vineyard location kinda just becomes interesting trivia for when you’re a contestant on Jeopardy.


Yes, I know – I REALLY need to find a better location to snap my “glass next to the bottle” picture. I just love our bar so much!

As you can see, it pours beautifully and is a lovely, deep cherry/garnet color.


On the nose, I definitely got aromas of cherries and other fruit. I could also smell a little bit of toasty spice. YUM!

This wine did not disappoint! Juicy fruit flavors and a little bit of  spice all rolled into one! It packed a pretty potent punch but, just the same, it wasn’t so fruity that I felt like I needed to chew it. I’ve tasted wines like that and, while they can be quite enjoyable, I prefer to drink my wine and chew my food. 🙂

This wine would pair quite nicely with a variety of foods – we had burgers cuz we’re classy – such as barbecue, stews, meat-rich pasta dishes, etc. You could even do this with chicken (bbq or other strong seasonings) and meatier fish, like salmon or tuna. I’d stay away from a tomato-based pasta dish (except for lasagna which is cheese heavy) because the acidity of the tomatoes would probably make the wine taste a little off.

That being said, it definitely isn’t a food dependent wine and is definitely worth enjoying a glass WHILE you’re cooking.

cook with wine


Talk to me: Do you have a favorite grape? How do you feel about wine blends?

These opinions are completely and totally my own. Sterling Vineyards did not ask me to review any of their wine. I literally just grabbed the bottle because it was on sale and I like blends.

– jennifer

Wine Wednesday – 2011 Bonterra Merlot

Hello, hello!

It’s Wednesday and you know what that means!!

wine gif


I decided to try something different for this week’s wine review – an organic wine!

Okay, okay, fine. It was on sale.


But really, I was interested anyway.

I mean, I wanted to see if I could discern a difference in taste – much like I can taste the difference in the beef I used to buy at the grocery store and the local farm raised beef I now buy at the farmer’s market.

In general, in my opinion, foods that are produced locally (whether that means it’s a cucumber grown in your back yard, your neighbor’s yard, or by the farmer down the road) taste better than some foods that you can pick up in your grocery store/supermarket.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not discounting grocery store produce. I LOVE the produce I get at Harris Teeter! Next year, though, I’m growing my own.

My mom used to have a garden when my sister and I were little and I remember her sending us out to pick the sugar snaps.

Pretty sure we ate more than ended up in our baskets!

But, I digress…..

I grabbed this lovely bottle of merlot from Bonterra Organic Vineyards.



Bonterra’s grapes are considered organic because they use organic growing techniques like composting and cover crops (other plants planted between the rows of grape vines that help keep the soil loose and prevent run-off).

According to their Web site, they rely on the assistance of farm animals to help “mow” the grass and keep the insects at a minimum.

I have visions of Gonzo’s chickens hanging out and picnicking in the vineyards.



I uncorked that baby and poured myself a glass.


I really need to find a better place to take my wine pictures. #justsayin

I gave it a swirl and a good sniff and was pleased with what my nose was telling me.

I smelled yummy fruit and some vanilla-y spiciness.

Sometimes I have trouble discerning the specific fruits but I definitely smelled some cherry and maybe some berries. I’m usually pretty spot on with vanilla and oakiness.

Whatever it was, it smelled delicious!



The color was dark and fruity but not inky like a heavier zinfandel or cabernet sauvignon might be.

Sometimes, it can be quite mesmerizing to swirl, sniff, and drink with your eyes. 🙂  Just don’t forget to breathe regular every now and then otherwise your carpet might end up drinking the wine.


As for flavor, this Merlot was pretty doggone tasty.

Merlots tend to be fruity and soft. Sometimes, this can give them a bad reputation – some people say they all taste the same, I say those people are clearly missing taste buds.

This Merlot tasted of soft, elegant fruit (kinda made me want to tip my pinky up a little, in a non-snobbish but fancy sort of way) and silkiness  with some spicy undertones. Like, the spice didn’t make the back of my throat tickle and the tannins didn’t make my mouth want to dry out but I could sense them both there.

Did that EVEN make sense?

What I’m trying to say is – it was YUM!

Now, as for the organic difference? Well, I didn’t really notice much of a difference. But, that’s probably because I wasn’t directly comparing it to a non-organically produced Merlot.

(although, honestly, how are all these other vineyards growing their grapes if they’re not composting, etc?)

What I did notice is that I enjoyed it and I would happily drink it again.

Except we drank it all already.

Road trip!

Talk to me: Have you ever had organically grown wine? Did you notice a taste difference? Do you have a garden? What do you grow?

– jennifer