2017 Manteca Grocery Outlet Spring Wine Sale!

It’s easy being Cheesy!

I feel pretty comfortable saying I love cheese more than anyone. Anyone. I have a cheese drawer in my fridge. A drawer full of cheese. The fridge is often empty, but that drawer never is.

We get so many specialty cheeses in every week at bargain prices, it’s really a great time to be alive. I’ll tell you a little secret: we actually have regular customers that work at other grocery stores in town that come here just for the cheese. Shhhhhhh, don’t tell anyone.

Well, it’s no secret that wine pairs nicely with cheese so during the Marathon Wine Tasting on the Front Porch this week we had plenty of cheese. We set out to try as many wines as we could to get reviews for the 20% OFF Wine Sale this week (April 10 – 15, 2017), it’s tough job, but somebody has got to do it!

BTW, these Finlandia Spreadable cheeses are amazing! The vanilla bean flavor could pass as frosting, and is great with fresh strawberries. I think the sweet lemon is my favorite though.

So, let’s jump right in…

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Honeywell & Todd Chard ~ Pull Cab Sauv ~ Lithos Merlot ~ Botte Malbec

Bonus reviews:

~ Fabio Viviani Chard ~ Wind Storm Zin ~

scroll to the end for the rest of these ‘bonus’ wines

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2015 Honeywell & Todd Chardonnay, Lodi      $3.99

Elsewhere price: $12.99

Connie liked the aroma of apricot and commented that she tasted a touch of honey, Larry agreed but also tasted pear. Arvin thought it tasted like apricot right off the tree. Scott didn’t find it too sweet, which many whites are too sweet for him, he liked it. Zineb, AKA: the Rockin’ Morrocan (Scott’s D.I.L. to be), also really liked this Lodi Chardonnay. Neighbor Steve thought it was more like a Pinot Grigio than a Chardonnay. It paired really nicely with the spicy Mediterranean Jack cheese, which Terry called ‘earthy’.

Tasting notes Vivino.com: Sweet honey on the nose, light mouthfeel. Dry, underlying oak, good everyday chardonnay

$3.49 at Manteca Grocery Outlet ~ $5.89 elsewhere

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2013 Fabio Viviani Chardonnay, California     $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

Gold Medal Exceptional ~ Tasting.com

We opened this Chardonnay as a bonus tasting, Scott and Zineb are choosing wedding wines. Here’s their notes: Sweet without  Fruitty (lol) Fruity without being overly sugary. They choose this for the wedding J

Tasting notes and reviews: “We were surprised to find ‘Top Chef’ alum Fabio Viviani’s California wine here (at Grocery Outlet). We were even more pleasantly surprised to taste apple and pear, kissed with caramel.” ~Mary Orlin East Bay Times (published in Modesto Bee 4/5/17)

90 Points from Tastings.com: Golden yellow color. Bright, fruity, oaky aromas of toasty praline and apple tart with a satiny, vibrant, fruity medium body and a seamless, interesting, medium-long pineapple cake, crème brulee, and smoked nuts finish with fine tannins and light oak. A round and welcoming chardonnay with pleasing oakiness.

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2015 Wind Storm Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi     $5.99

Elsewhere price: $15.99

Also a bonus tasting, Zineb tasted grapefruit with dark chocolate finish. I’m not sure about grapefruit, this Old Vine Zin was more like spicy raspberry and a little vanilla. Definitely better after allowing it to breath a while.

3.9/4 stars from Vivino.com: Very fruit forward, nice strong spice finish. Long finish with the spice, fruit stays until the spice kicks in. I could drink alone but it is better when paired with food. Very good wine.

Really love nose on this one after it’s had some time to breathe, but the flavor profile is great too.

Bold. Thick. Chocolate and blackberry flavors. A very nice warm wine.

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2010 Pull Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles     $5.99

Elsewhere price: $17.99

Larry thought it was more like a pinot on the nose. Zineb thought it was nice. Arvin tasted blackberry. I found this medium bodied Cab very smooth, juicy at first, then just smoooooth. I could not identify the aroma, but I love it! It pairs nicely with caramelized onion meatballs 🙂

$4.99 at Manteca Grocery Outlet ~ $6.59 elsewhere

88 points from Winemag.com: Blackberry liqueur, violet, cola and slight dustiness form the nose of this well-priced wine ($18 on WineMag) The flavors are a bit thinner than expected, most reminiscent of ripe pomegranate.

Broken Earth Winery, Paso Robles: This fine Cabernet has ripe blackcurrant fruit and consists of ever emerging layers of complexity. The wine’s texture is of important note, as is the presence of balancing fine, ripe tannins. New French oak completes the wine’s structure, offering the perfect physical support for the lingering fruit flavors.

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2014 Lithos Merlot Reserve, Napa     $11.99

Elsewhere price $29.99

Kerri commented on the great aroma of berries right off the bat, she called it full bodied and smooth. Steve thought he tasted licorice? Arvin found this Napa merlot dry and peppery. Yeah, Steve said, pepper not licorice. Arvin said, it tastes like more… (as he poured a second taste). I thought the tannins showed in the end with a nice dryness. Definitely a wine to take as a hostess gift or for a Holiday dinner. Pairs nice with grilled garlic butter chicken and excellent with dark chocolate.

There is absolutely no information about this wine or even the vineyard online.  The label says: Vinted & Bottled by Lithos Vineyards, Oakville, CA.  This is the second Lithos wine we have reviewed on the Front Porch, the cab label also mentioned that it is family owned and “from the heart of Napa Valley”.

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2013 Botte Malbec, California     $4.99

Elsewhere price $14.99

I noticed the relaxing nose on this Malbec right away. I wish I could identify it like a wine snob, but for me, it’s a feeling that I get when I smell a wine I like. Arvin said fruity and sweet, Terry said spicy and nice. Arvin added that this what he’d call an after dinner wine. A wine that you’d kick back and sip and watch T.V. Terry agreed and said it goes down real smooth. Intense and deep, with ripe mulberry fruit flavors. Long and satisfying.

From the label: This Malbec is smooth and elegant with flavors of mocha, spice and vanilla.

Also no on-line tasting notes or reviews. The label says Vinted and Bottled by JL Giguiere, Zamora, CA. Which is the same winery/family that makes Matchbook wines.

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Bonus Wines ~ wines I tasted alone or that we have tasted in the past.

2015 Raviva Chardonnay $3.99 / $16.99 elsewhere

Starts out light, but has a smooth buttery finish. We reviewed the 2012 year here

2015 Raviva Cabernet Sauvignon $5.99 / $18.99 elsewhere

Lots of fruit and I’m pretty sure I’m tasting oak in this one

2015 Projection Chardonnay $4.99 / $12.99 elsewhere

4.1/5 Stars from Vivino.com: Med oak nice around chard I enjoyed this wine very much. Love the clean, crisp taste. No butter! It did have more fruitful flavor as it warmed. Previously reviewed on the Front Porch

2015 Projection Cabernet Sauvignon $5.99 / $14.99 elsewhere

92 pts – Brian Whitaker, GM/Somm (source)

“Wild black cherries, sweet red plums, licorice, hint of lavender, mild oak, vanilla, and spice.  Recommended Pairing: Iron-Skillet Steak with Thyme Butter”

2015 Pra Vinera Reserve Chardonnay $5.99 / $21.99 elsewhere!

Creamy wood, ripe pear and toasted nut flavors combine in this rich chardonnay that fills the mouth with rich, satisfying flavor and a lingering finish. Previously reviewed from the Front Porch

2015 Pra Vinera Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $6.99 / $21.99 elsewhere!

3.7/5 stars from Vivino.com: Light on the tannins, nice finish. A delightful surprise at the G.O. 2015 is sweet and very easy to enjoy. Light for a cab, but my preference. Delicious- smooth with a slight bite to finish. Dark cherry undertones. 2012 reviewed from the Front Porch.

2014 Perseverance Cabernet Sauvignon $6.99 / $11.99 elsewhere

Winery Notes: Rich and full with black cherry flavors followed by hints of exotic spices and plums. Nicely balanced with backbone. The finish is full and satisfying allowing it work well with red meats, red-sauced pasta dishes and chicken sausages with sautéed onions and green peppers.

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Why don’t you just hire a guy?

That’s it! I’ve given up on the stairs. I have been considering the unthinkable….. hiring a guy to do the work! GASP

Clearly I don’t want to do it myself. I have removed the old carpeting from only half of the steps plus the landing. The landing is refinished but only one new step is in place. I say ‘in place’ because it could actually use a few more nails. I’m pretty sure it’s safe but the dog doesn’t trust it. (this dog) She hops over it on her way up and down the stairs. Do dogs have a sixth sense about danger? (I’ll have to google that later)

I love the finish on that one slightly-wobbly-possibly-dangerous step.

landing 2  landing 3  landing 4  landing 5

Landing Pics – re-finished subfloor

Can I actually trust a stranger to duplicate it eleven times? I think I’m gonna have to if I ever want completed stairs. At the rate I’m going now, it’ll take 22 more years just to replace the rest of the steps. Not to mention the risers and the railing.

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these are not my stairs… yet

I really wanted to spend my weekends this Fall baking all the recipes I see on Facebook, not working on the stairs. You know, if I would just set my mind to getting it done, it would only take one weekend.

The problem with hiring someone to work in my house?

  1. I don’t trust anyone to do it exactly the way I want it.
  2. Thinking about it gets me all fired up to do the work myself.
  3. It’s more expensive than doing the work myself.
  4. He might will do better work than me – I can’t have that
  5. I’d want him to fix all my work around the house.
  6. Hiring a guy is shameful
  7. It’s like admitting defeat

It’s settled then, I might have to quit my day job to finish those stairs. Don’t worry, I’ll still keep my second job, you know the one where I try ALL the wines that come into the store so I can tell you about them. Yeah, that one. It’s a tough job, but somebody has got to do it.

This week is our 20% OFF WINE SALE!

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Only 7 days Nov 4-10 2015

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Here’s this week’s wine picks

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Michel-Schlumberger Chardonnay ~ Blackjack Allusion Red

Chateau Grand Billard Bordeaux

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2013 Michel-Schlumberger Chardonnay $4.99

($3.99 after 20% discount this week)

Elsewhere price $16.99

89.3 points from Cellartracker.com

The Front Porch Wine tasters were all without their spouses tonight, spouseless tasting. Larry started us off with this California Chardonnay with a mmmmmmm. Arvin said it was very good, and would make a good Thanksgiving wine. Scott agreed, he thought he’d get some to bring to the in-laws this month. Ethan and I both liked how it paired with a spicy chipotle cheddar cheese. This one is selling by the case, plus it’s super fun to say the name.

On-line review from Cellartracker.com: Pale gold. Typical restrained aromas and flavors of the Dry Creek growing area — i.e., obviously Chardonnay but not overly fruity, tropical or tart. There is enough substance to offset the 14.7% alcohol but could use a little more acid. Finishes with just a hint of chalk and bitterness, which I like. At the $14 I paid for it, a real steal

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2007 Blackjack Ranch Allusion Red Blend $3.99

($3.19 after 20% off discount this week)

Elsewhere price $24.99

89.5 Points from CellarTracker.com

Arvin liked this Santa Barbara County red blend right away. He said it had a current aroma and he tasted black licorice. And, with the power of suggestion, I tasted it too! I would call this a nice drinking wine, tastes nice by itself, very smooth. Larry liked the aroma and thought that Terry would really like it. Steve called this one his Fav.

On-line reviews from CellarTracker.com:

WOW this one was a pleasant surprise. We really like this one

Almost no nose. Restrained black cherry on the palate. The strength of this wine is on the mid-palate. Good mouth feel with friendly tannins. Medium bodied with a light but lingering finish. No Cali fruit bomb here. Very very easy drinking

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2011 Chateau Grand Billard Bordeaux $6.99

($5.59 after 20% off discount this week)

Elsewhere price $21.99

91 Points from the Los Angeles International Wine Competition

88.3 Points from CellarTracker.com

Ethan couldn’t wait to get to this French Bordeaux, he found that he liked it (no surprise), he added that it was full bodied. Arvin agreed, and compared it to Marilyn Monroe – nice body. He said it was dry and it had an aroma of a Cuban Cigar. I liked the aroma, it was not overbearing. Larry agreed, calling it mild. Steve liked it better after it got some air. Becky liked how it paired with chocolate and she said it was kind of buttery, but not like a Chardonnay is buttery.

On-line reviews from CellarTracker.com:

Recoding my note from memory. Getting a little more complex than the last bottle a few years back. Medium bodied, tannins slowly integrating. Nothing mind blowing but great value for the price and will continue to get better

Dark red colour. Spicy nose, a little wood, and closed berries. Certainly very young and very closed still. Medium bodied, tight tannins, but seems to have some nice layers of fruit underneath. Needs a bit of time. Will revisit in a few years