Tinto Lena Red 2011

Photo from Bodegas Vinos de León

Interior of Bodegas Vinos de León; photo from their website

Winery – Bodegas Vinos de León
Appellation – Castilla y León
Color – purple
Aroma – chocolate, berries
Finish – perfect balance of acidity and tannins with a bit of mineral taste

I really enjoyed drinking this Spanish wine with a ragu bolognese I made for dinner. It stands up well to a red meat sauce but is also good with a nibble of cheddar. I like the salty (minerally!) aftertaste and the slight tannic and acidic finish. At $10 per liter, it’s a very good everyday table wine.


Condesa de Sarabella

Wine Name: Condesa de Sarabella

Condesa de Sarabella

Condesa de Sarabella

Origin: Spain (Calatayud)

Grapes: not listed on label

Cost: $5.00 (Trader Joe’s)

My thoughts: This wine was a deep claret color. The aroma was fruity but not strong. The taste was very subtle fruit, with a short finish. I think this wine was a bit boring but it works as a light red wine to drink on a summer’s day. I wonder if it’d be good chilled?

Il Gattopardo

Il Gattopardo Nero D'Avola

Il Gattopardo lo scuro

Wine Name: Il Gattopardo (Lo scuro)

Origin: Italy (Sicily)

Grapes: Nero D’Avola

Cost: $7.00

My thoughts: The aroma of this wine was very strong – I first noticed its aroma when I walked by the glass Todd had poured for me. It had slight oak undertones, with stronger scent of chocolate and flowers. The taste was good, with a bit of tannin, and a spicy finish. It’s a bit dry, and went really well with my dinner, which was artichoke cheese ravioli from Pastaworks with garlic and olive oil.

I liked the name of this wine, Il Gattopardo, which reminds me of Luchino Visconti’s 1963 movie of the same name. It’s a wonderful period piece that shows the decline of the aristocracy and the uprise of the bourgeoisie. Gattopardo means leopard in Italian.

Charles Shaw 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

Charles Shaw 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

Charles Shaw 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon

Wine Name: Charles Shaw 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon (fondly known as “three buck chuck” except in California, where’s it’s still “two buck chuck”).


Grapes: Cabernet

Cost: $2.99

My thoughts
: Nice smell, a bit grassy and fruity. The tannins were mild, and the finish lingered. I was really surprised this was three buck chuck. I really liked it, and would buy it again. The problem with Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw label is lack of consistency. I’ve had to return a couple of bottles of Charles Shaw because it tasted “off.”

Vendage California 2006 merlot

Vendage California 2006 Merlot

Vendage California 2006 Merlot

I’m having lots of fun tasting and thinking about new wines. I’m an amateur wine reviewer so my descriptions are what I taste or smell or perceive, and may not include “professional” jargon and descriptions. The librarian in me looks at the wine’s label as though it were the cover page of a book being cataloged- what it says is what I write as the wine name.

Wine name: Vendage California 2006 Merlot

Origin: Woodbridge and Madera, California

Cost: $5-6

Grapes: merlot

My thoughts: Nice burgundy color. I would describe the aroma as cooked figs and cooked cherries – nice. I liked the taste; to me there was almost a carbonated feel in my mouth. The finish was medium. I would definitely buy this again.

Wonderful pasta recipe

I recently purchased Brian St. Pierre’s book The Wine Lover Cooks Italian: Pairing Great Recipes with the Perfect Glass of Wine. I read an interesting recipe in which the pasta is cooked in red wine instead of water, and decided to test it out. The recipe calls for cooking penne in wine, which ended up being about two bottles!! The result was a lovely, deep maroon pasta with a rich, almost overwhelming wine flavor. I melted Asiago cheese in it – very decadent. I would serve this as a first course for company but a whole bowl of it was almost too rich. There was surprisingly little wine sauce left over – maybe 1/2 a cup. I used it as a sauce on chicken the next day.

Inpspiration: The Wine Lover Cooks Italian and a large bottle (750 ml) of Vendage Merlot.