All wine reviews, Great wines under $10, Jumilla, Monastrell, Red blends, Red wine, Spain, Syrah/Shiraz

Finca Luzon 2009

Producer: Finca Luzon
Grape: 70% Monastrell, 30% Syrah
Region: Jumilla, Spain

I don’t honestly know why it took me so long to review wines of Finca Luzon. I was impressed with their wines from the first time I tasted them (and every vintage since).

There is another reason why I have a special feeling about this wine. During my stay in Spain (2007), our visit started in Jumilla, and we spent the very first 2 nights at the beautiful hotel Finca Luzon. We later learned it was built from the old winery, Bodega Luzon.

Bodegas Luzon was founded by the Gil family in 1916, located about 60 miles from the Medirerranean at 2,100ft elevation. Today, it is an estate of 216 acres of vineyards with some very challenging conditions that happens to be perfect for Monastrell wines.

It makes it one of the best conditions for growing Monastrell  (Mourvèdre) in the world.Sand, with combination of chalk with large chalky gravels and stones, is the tough soil there, with almost no nutrition. Wine has to struggle with very little rainfall, windy climate high in the hills and huge drops of temperature between days and nights.

The winery works with Monastrell that is about 55 years old and for this particular wine, they blend it with Syrah that came from Aragona vineyard at 2.296 ft above the sea level.Finca Luzon also produces an organic wine called Luzon Verde which showcase 100% Monastrell. Altos de Luzon (which is a blend of Monastrell, Cabernet and Tempranillo), Castillo de Luzon (Monastrell, Tempranillo, Merlot and Cabernet).

This is a winemaker of Finca Luzon, whose name, embarrassingly enough, I can’t remember. (I couldn’t even find it anywhere on-line, I tried).He also showed us a historic ruin, a beautiful property, the Finca Luzon were reconstructing to later move their business into.

Seemed like a huge job, surely took a lot of effort, time and money. I wonder if they are finished by now.

Later at night we had a wine tasting with him and very late superb dinner – that started about 11 pm. Hard to imagine, especially when we had to leave from the lobby the next day at 7 am and got to our hotel at about 2:30 am.
I know, tough life, right?

Tasting notes:
This is a deep purple red with rich aromas of fresh fruit, such as black cherries, red plums with a tiny bit of herbs. On the palate, this wine is super smooth, very fruity (which doesn’t mean sweet), velvety tannins.

As it opens up even more, you can taste rich tones of dark berries with notes of dark chocolate and spices. This wine is big enough to stand to your steak, it’s lovely on its own and for its price, it is a steal!

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak– Aged in oak

Retail price: $ 8.99

Ideal food pairing:
Summer barbeque, Not so Greeg Musaka, Bison burgers with Cabernet Onions and Wisconsin CheddarPistachio crusted rack of lamb, Shish kebab with eggplant hash and Tzaziki sauce, Lamb burgers with Relish Mayo,

Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon, Great wines under $10, Red blends, Red wine, Syrah/Shiraz

Penfold’s Koonunga Hill Shiraz / Cabernet 2007


Chief Winemaker: Peter Gago
Grape: 75% Shiraz, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon
Region: Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale

Penfolds was founded in 1844 by Dr. Christopher Rawson Penfold, who emigrated to South Australia from England. He planted vine cuttings from the south of France and opened his medical practice. He always believed in medicinal value of the wine.

The demand for his wines soon outpaced his medical practice and Dr. Penfold focused on creating some finest wines in the world. Penfolds and the Australian wine industry changed dramatically in 1950, when Max Schubert arrived. He is the person behind mastering the famous Penfolds Grange and Bin wines. During his time Penfolds was established as Australia’s premier winery.

For years now they produce some of the best collectible wines that could last several decades – like Grange (about $250.00 a bottle), Bin 707, Bin 389 and more. One of my customers once said that “There is nothing special about expensive bottle of wine. If I spent $100 per bottle, it better taste good! What is real fun is to find is that one bottle of wine that cost $10 but taste like $30.”

The super-value Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet could be one of those wines. It is an extremely well crafted bottle of wine, retails about under $10.00 a bottle. This vintage received 88 points review from Wine Advocate and it has been consistent in high quality over the years.

2007 Shiraz Cabernet blend was aged in seasoned oak for 8 months.

Do not hesitate to try any of the Penfolds wines. You will be in for a treat.

Tasting notes:
Purple colored, it doesn’t seem to have a lot of body. You can smell a lot of ripe red fruit, plum and blueberry, with a light hint of spice. On the palate you taste baked red plum with intense ripe cherry and other red fruit flavors. Long finish with a dust of dark bitter chocolate. Incredible value!

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: under $ 10.00

Ideal food pairing:
spicy dishes, pork roast, barbecue, ribs, hamburgers and more

California, Red wine, Syrah/Shiraz

Buena Vista Syrah 2006


Winemaker: Jeff Stewart
Grapes: 100% Syrah
Region: Carneros, California

See other wines from this producer:
Buena Vista Pinot Noir

Founded in 1857, Buena Vista Carneros is California’s oldest premium winery. One of California’s firsts is now one of California’s finest wineries. Set along the south-facing hillside overlooking San Pablo Bay, Buena Vista’s beautiful property is one of the most significant in Carneros.

Daily winds and fogs coming from the bay cool the vines and prolong the growing season. Nearly 500 acres in the region of Carneros, Buena Vista Carneros’ Ramal Vineyard boasts a remarkable number and range of sites with more than 100 separate vineyard blocks based on topography, geology and microclimates.

Jeff Stewart, Buena Vista’s winemaker came from award winning winery La Crema, with over 15 years of achievement in cool–climate viticulture, gaining his experience in different wineries. His personal attention to detailed work in the vineyard and during the whole wine-making process allows the wine to express unique Carneros terroir.

Buena Vista Carneros Syrah was sourced from their estate vineyards and unlike some very fruity Australian Shirazes, this wine expresses the cool climate of foggy Carneros. The grapes were picked at night and double sorted in the winery. Each lot was cold soaked for 5 days to maximize color and flavor extraction, then fermented in small open-top tanks.

After an average of 17 days on the skins, the wine was pressed gently and aged for 14 months in new French oak. This careful procedure with attention to every detail let the wine maximize its beautiful ruby color and rich flavor.

Tasting notes:
Aroma of dark fruit and spices. On the palate this wine is rich in fruit expression but surprisingly dry, which makes it easily matchable with food. Hints of dark fruit, cocoa and spices with just the right amount of oak to create a complex and balanced wine. The flavors are getting more pronounced the longer the wine is open. Long, very satisfying finish.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: under $ 20.00

Ideal food pairing:
Grilled meats and barbecue, venison, aged cheeses, steak