Hot to Trot for Red Wine and Fall!

Red wine… how I have missed thee…

I have by no means been abstaining from wine, but I have certainly not been keeping on top of the wine blog!  In part due to working 2 to 3 jobs these past few weeks, but more so just not  in the writing mood.  Taking the month off from blogging has actually been quite refreshing as I feel I have had time to really enjoy the wine I’ve had the pleasure to consume.  No time tables.  No agendas.  No need to jot down my critical notes.  The time away was much appreciated to regroup before plunging back into the hectic worlds of mom/wife/blogger/school psych student/ whatever else fits into my schedule.  Truthfully, I wouldn’t have it any other way!

But along with the busyness that September ushers in, there also arrives what I feel to be one of God’s most beautiful creations: Autumn. The crisp air, the changing leaves, the cooler weather. Football!!  Yes, I am that person who cries, “Pumpkin EVERYTHING!”  Though I do draw the line at wine.  I do have limits.  But with fall comes the revival of red wine, perhaps the greatest comfort beverage out there.  I felt to kickoff my  most beloved of all seasons, it would be best to celebrate with my most beloved of all red wines: Cabernet Sauvignon. But as fate would have it, it would be 95* outside, and a reminder from my husband that it is still not yet officially autumn.  I think it was just his way to bust out his preferred red blend, but that is neither here nor there.  So, to celebrate the changing of the seasonal guard from Summer to Autumn, I present to you the 2011 Hot to Trot red blend by 14 Hands.

This is only my second review of a wine by 14 Hands, the first (and only) being the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon some time ago.  My first experience with 14 Hands was  with their 2009 Hot to Trot red blend, and I found it to be quite the exceptional value at under $12. However, then the 2010 came along, and that was a whole different experience, and not for the better.  So I promised to hold out for the 2011 to see what may be in store.  Being such a young wine, I was skeptical, but as it is meant for more immediate consumption, I tried to remain open.  I uncorked the wine as I was preparing dinner, and I let it sit for nearly an hour before I took even the first whiff.  Even still, I found the nose to be heavy with smoke up front.  Undertones of leather and deep black cherries began to emerge as I swirled the wine in my glass, helping to soften what I felt to be overbearing smoky earth.  The palate was as expected: smoked stone fruits, quite reminiscent of an old vine Syrah, actually.  Acidic at first, the wine does smooth out, allowing the notes of old leather to come through; cherries and spice round out the finish.  I did not detect tight tannins, as I would expect with such a young wine, but the acidity could be a bit powerful.  I did keep this wine around for a second night, and was pleasantly surprised with how well the wine mellowed out.  The smokiness had smoothed out as well, but overall the palate had lost some of its flavor.  In the

Not a 201 pic - I forgot to take my own. Label hasn't changed

Not a 201 pic – I forgot to take my own. Label hasn’t changed

end, the 2011 Hot to Trot Red Blend was about as I expected it to be.

2011 Hot to Trot (Red) by 14 Hands:  ★★★☆☆ (decent/good wine)

This wine is widely available at grocery stores, wine stores, the larger warehouses, and of course, online (http://www.14hands.com/wines/hot-to-trot-red-blend) in the $10 to $12 range.  The Hot to Trot reds generally tend to be predominately Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon (not necessarily in this order) with perhaps a few other varietals mixed in.  While this 2011 is not my personal favorite for everyday wine consumption, my husband greatly enjoyed it.  So remember, For every palate there is a wine…

I have a Cabernet Sauvignon review coming up shortly, so check back soon!

Have you tried this wine before? Please share you thoughts in the comments below!

Lil’ Bit of Red, Lil’ Bit of White by Chateau St. Michelle

Welcome to mid-August, my fellow wine enthusiasts!! I don’t know what this time of year means to the rest of the country, but here in Spokane, we are winding down summer.  Schools will be starting back up over these coming weeks, the days have already begun to shorten, and the winds are back to signal the coming of the autumn season. It has been a long, hot summer for sure, and  I, personally, am ready to welcome boots and scarves with open arms.  However, I still have one last summer birthday bash to put together, and a bottle of Rosé or two to polish off before the temperatures begin to drop.  But to celebrate the remaining hot days and the increasingly cool nights, I bring you a Merlot and a Sauvignon Blanc by a Washington State icon: Chateau St. Michelle.

Here in Spokane, mid-August is still promising to bring us sweltering hot days, upwards in the 90′s.  Rosé or crisp white wines offer one of the most refreshing escapes for late summer.  I came upon the 2011 Sauvignon Blanc by Chateau St. Michelle, and so now here we are!  On the nose this typically dry white wine opens with a bouquet of crisp pear and sweet honeysuckle flower.  A sip awakens the palate with tart grapefruit, though quickly softened with notes of honeysuckle and citrus blossom.  A light viscosity on the tongue does help to round out the overall experience of this wine.  A value at $11, this Sauvignon Blanc delivered about as I expected it would, and could make for a nice everyday summer white.

Chateau St. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc

Chateau St. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc

Chateau St. Michelle 2011 Sauvignon Blanc:  ★★★☆☆  (good wine)

Winemaker’s Notes: The cooler vintage led to a more herbal style of Sauvignon Blanc with aromas of grass, fresh herbs and grapefruit with a clean, fresh finish. The mostly stainless steel fermentation makes this a crisp wine that would pair well with dishes with cream sauce.

It has been too long since my last review of a Merlot. Now that our nights are cooling off and red wines will be coming back into the picture, my husband and I decided to give the Indian Wells Merlot by Chateau St. Michelle a try.  To best enjoy this wine, we stayed in for the night – cooler than outside – and I whipped up a simple spaghetti dish with a red meat sauce.  On the nose, this 2010 Indian Wells Merlot opens with smoky blueberries and earthy aromas.  Enticing for sure (“smoky” in a Merlot?), but will the palate be as enjoyable?  Earth, ripe berries are on the forefront; herbs and powerful tannins finish out this full-bodied wine.  Not a bad Merlot; It held up well with the meaty red pasta.  The addition of 14% Syrah I do believe added well to the overall feel of the wine. 86% Merlot, 14% Syrah.

Chateau St. Michelle Indian Wells 2010 Merlot: ★★★☆☆ (good wine)

CSM Indian Wells Merlot

CSM Indian Wells Merlot


Winemakers Notes: The Indian Wells Merlot offers ripe berry fruit aromas and jammy flavors typical of Wahluke Slope reds. This is a full bodied style of warm climate Merlot with a round, supple finish. We added Wahluke Slope syrah to enhance the mouthfeel and rich fruit character. I call this my pasta wine!

The Sauvignon Blanc retails for around $11. Not a bad price for this wine, as it would make a nice “any day” wine.  The Merlot, though nicely paired with the pasta, I did find to be a bit pricey at $20.  Both wines are widely available at most any grocery store, or by visiting Chateau St. Michelle‘s website.  But remember, For every palate there is a wine, and for every wine there is a palate…

For my next review, I am searching for your feedback! Is there a wine under $20-$25 that you have been wanting to know about? Perhaps a particular varietal or winery that you would like me to review before you buy?  Please let me know!

Have you tried this wine before? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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