Terra Andina Scandalous Prelude to Fall

Tonight we got a thorough downpour of rain and the most stunning lightning storm. This teaser to fall made me crave a rich, thick, hearty red wine. This is no weather for a flimsy pinot noir. I need some meat, man! 

I grabbed a bottle of 2011 Terra Andina Scandalous Carmenere, and with the first pour of the thick, nearly black nectar, I knew it was a great choice!


Carmenere grapes originated in Bordeaux, France, but are all but nonexistent there now, finding a solid home in Chile. They are Chile’s signature wine grape but can also be found in vineyards in Washington, California and parts of Italy. 

Wikipedia tells me that carmenere, a member of the cabernet family, will produce a rich, ruby red red wine with soft tannins — flavors like a cabernet sauvignon but gentler. The Terra Andina version embodies this description. The wine is so wonderfully savory like a cabernet sauvignon, but softer on the palate. For better or for worse, this is a wine you could savor all night until you woefully hit the bottom of the bottle.

The aroma of the Terra Andina is mossy with pungent green beans. The green bean aroma melts away when you sip, mellowing into an almost dried-herb flavor. Hints of cedar and vanilla round out the nuances discovered with each sip. 

Like the lightning and rain, this wine is a welcomed prelude to autumn. My bottle came in a sample package, but it can be found in wine shops around the U.S. for around $11 and under. 


Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

We just celebrated Father’s Day in true American fashion: a reprieve from IPW13Iphone 210yard work and honey-do’s, and a big barbecue dinner. A hearty tri-tip on the barbecue called for a bold red in my glass, so I tried the Dark Horse Cabernet Sauvignon I found at Trader Joe’s for $7.99.

Dark Horse hails from California and “challenges the belief that premium-tasting wines must be premium priced.” You’ll find a slough of great reviews of this wine online, and consider this one more glowing review. This is a hearty cab that could easily land on the top shelf of any wine shop, but you’ll actually find it lower on the bargain shelves.

The wine is thick, the color of muddled bing cherries. The aroma is earthy with notes of vanilla spice. The flavor, however, is the most wonderfully rich mix of blackberries, vanilla, chocolate and espresso. The thick tannins give it structure without the pucker factor.

If you want to serve a solidly impressive cabernet without breaking the bank, this is a steal at $7.99.


Acronym for millennials… and the rest of us

I stumbled upon Acronym GR8 Red Wine on sale, $9.99, at Smith’s (Kroger, to you non-Nevadans) this week. I couldn’t resist picking up a bottle, and paired it with spaghetti carbonara and sauteed zucchini. 


The 2011 California red blend, primarily pinot noir and syrah, is thick and viscous with a deep cherry color. The tobacco, vanilla, bold black cherry flavor is delicious on its own, but takes on a sweet tinge when swigged after a big bite of bacon-laden carbonara. 

The wine was develolped by Winery Exchange with “millennials” in mind… whatever that means, Actually, it seems to mean that it was designed to appeal to users of LOL, WTF, and BRB, and I have to say that I really like this wine despite not being part of its target market. Perhaps I’ll take that as affirmation that I am most certainly not a millennial.

The irony of illustrating this post with an Instagram pic is not lost on me, however. 

Chameleon Semillon

This year’s post-Thanksgiving festivities involved leftover pumpkin pie and a father-son-grandpa-uncle pheasant hunt. Planned killing of (yummy) birds gives Black Friday a whole new meaning, huh? While I stalked one-day-only markdowns, my husband stalked brilliantly feathered birds. And tonight we reaped the rewards from his hunt. (I’m still trying to convince him we’ll reap the rewards of my hunt when my credit-card bill arrives. Wish me luck!)

He skinned the birds and stuffed them with green onion and oranges, rubbed them with “kick’n chicken” seasoning and wrapped them in bacon. He basted the pheasants throughout the hour-and-a-half cooking time with teriyaki sauce and garnished the finished product with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

I decided to pair his wild game with a wild deal… 2011 Bungan Head Semillon-Chardonnay (Australia), $5.99 from Wine Insiders. Have you noticed a trend in this blog? More and more of my wines are coming from either WineInsiders.com or BarclaysWine.com, two discount wine websites that I discovered through Groupon. I’ve been having a lot of fun trying wines I don’t ordinarily see in my local grocery store. (and for unbelievable prices!)

I’m not very familiar with semillon wines, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this bottle or how it would pair with the pheasant. The color coming out of the bottle was sunshine yellow, a clear yet deep shade of gold. I don’t know if this is due to the semillon or chardonnay, or perhaps the blend of both.

The aroma is almost like poached pears, lightly fruity with a wonderful hint of vanilla and nutmeg. Likewise, the flavor is not overly tart or citrusy, just a calm, mellow stone fruit toned with vanilla. It has a hint of earthy spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and perhaps cardamom.

This is definitely a white wine I could sip on with or without food, but tonight it’s all about the pheasant dinner! And this is where I have to mention the chameleon nature of this wine. It goes well with everything! The buttery French bread brought out hints of yeast and butter in the wine. The chipotle-ranch dressing on my salad brought out the spice notes. The seasoning on the bird and the tinge of bacon brought out the heavier, earthier flavors in the wine. And when dinner was over and I poured my second glass, it was still perfectly mellow and soft with just the slightest kick of lemon all on its own.

This is the white wine to pour for those who think they don’t like whites. It is so easygoing without being buttery, oaky or heavy. It’s good with a main dish and would be outstanding with a bowl of vanilla ice cream or chocolate-chip cookies. It would be good with a plate of fruit and crackers or a grilled fillet of fish (a mild white fish like mahi-mahi).

I will be adding Bungan Head Semillon-Chardonnay to my permanent wine rack to use when I just don’t quite know what else would be better.