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.

Do you prefer ZING! or Dirty?

Zing=White     Dirty=Red     (I’m not sure what you thought, lol. Read on, to be enlightened)

My #3 favorite thing is Front Porch Wine Tasting. #3??? You may ask. Drinking wine for free on the Front Porch with friends every week comes in at #3? How can that be?

Well, the tiny dictator that lives in my head is obsessive about list making and he says it’s #3. If you have a tiny dictator in your head, then you know he must be listened to. If you try to ignore him, he won’t let you sleep at night.

#2 on the list is text messages from Larry. His typos and auto corrections are at a level hilariousness that cannot be described by the written word without outing me as easily entertained. It has endless entertainment value for me. My current #1 favorite thing (it’s an ever-evolving list) is when a small child – like 2 or 3 years old – puts something – like a quarter – in the tiny pocket of his tiny jeans with his tiny hands.

Is there anything cuter? No. No, there is not.

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Back to that tiny dictator. Not only is he obsessive about making lists, he also is very enthusiastic about encouraging me to take on seemingly ridiculous projects/tasks/endeavors. He says things like, “Of course you should cover an entire wall in the guest room with random leftover wood from the pile in the garage. That would be AMAZING!”

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Then, before that was even finished he was all, “Your kitchen cabinets would look great painted white. I bet you could sand, prime and paint them all in one weekend.” Did I mention that the tiny dictator has no concept of time? He also enjoys shopping at second-hand stores, e-bay and Craigslist for objects that can be spray painted, refurbished or hoarded. And, it was his idea to write a wine blog, It’ll be fun he said. Thanks! tiny dictator, you were right. You are always right 🙂 Read to the end of this blog for a link to Enter to Win FREE Wine!

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 Secret Wine ~ Wine with ZING! ~ Spectacular Wine ~ Dirty Wine (good dirty)

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 a wine pic 6 2009 Lake Girl Sauvignon Blanc $3.99 

North Coast/Sonoma County     Elsewhere price $12.99

Light in color with a fresh, clean taste. Terry liked the lightness of the fruity aroma and Larry noticed the pear in his first sip. Connie said she really liked this one, it was a delightful surprise. Joe thought it had a sweet beginning but that the finish was lacking something. Becky said it was clean & crisp and Arvin tasted crispy Asian pears.

I really couldn’t find much in my internet search for this wine. Weird. The all-knowing internet dropped the ball on this one. The winery must be fairly new or small. Their website is under construction, but they do have a Facebook page. And that is all. Bummer this wine is such a secret cause it’s really good!

The label reads: ‘Listening to the lapping of the waves against the shore and seeing the moon reflected on the water, I’m transported to the moment of my first kiss. I know I’m home when I’m at the lake. Forever Lake Girl.’

*****

a wine pic 5 2012 Mosiac Chardonnay $7.99

Alexander Valley Sonoma County     Elsewhere price $14.99

Larry immediately liked the bold fragrance and Terry said it’s got a real Zing to it! Like, ZING! Steve wasn’t sure if he liked it at first, but after the second sip he decided that he really did like it. He said he tasted something sharp in it…. Terry said, Yeah! That’s the ZING! Arvin tasted apple, Granny smith to be exact. Becky thought it tasted like candy. You know, that bag you get with the twizzlers & nerds and it smells so good when you open it. Joe was like, “No, she’s wrong. It smells like…CELERY. Lol, just kidding. More like vanilla water and it would be good with a caramel apple”. Connie said she’ll take a dozen bottles of this one.

Scored 4 out of 5 stars from Vivino , here’s their review: Brilliant gold color with the subtlest of green highlights, this wine has the pretty aromas of caramelized apple, citrus and asian pear. Bright and crisp on the palate with flavors of Granny Smith apple, soft citrus zest, and a whisp of vanilla. A well rounded mouthfeel is reined in by overtones of mineral spice giving the wine great balance and structure.

The label reads: ‘Mosaic Winery is small, family-owned artisan winery in the acclaimed Alexander Valley in Sonoma County. The passion behind the label is the Wilson family and their diverse estate vineyards.’

Winemaker Notes: Vibrant flavors of passion fruit, honey and Key lime lead the way to melon, citrus, and honeysuckle notes in the mouth. This delightfully crisp Chardonnay finishes with tropical fruit, pears and hints of vanilla bean.
Enjoy with an hors d’oeuvre of softened goat cheese topped with fig compote and crackers, or a dinner featuring honey-glazed ham or home-style mac and cheese.

*****

a wine pic 7 2009 Pampano Malbec $3.99

Mendoza, Argentina     Elsewhere price $10.99

Nice dark color, dry with tastes of blackberry. Joe said that this is a spectacular wine! It was oakey with a full bodied aroma and slightly dry. Its dryness attaches to your mouth – which is good because it lasts longer. He said that he and Becky are real fans of 2009 wines, something about the weather that year maybe.

86 points from Wine Enthusiest Magazine  Expert review: Fruity and friendly on the nose, with composure and solid aromas. Feels both plump and dry, with toasty black-fruit flavors accented by peppery spice that turns slightly bitter on the finish. Good and dark overall, with limited follow-through on the finish. ~ Michael Schachner

The label reads: ‘Our wine regions are not determined by their latitude or distance from the coast, but by elevation. At high altitudes, where the air is thin and the water pure comes Pampano Malbec. “Pampano” means a healthy vine root – which is what we seek above all else to give us a balanced crop and fresh, ripe, fruity flavors. Malbec is the emblematic grape of Argentina and this example from the Uco Valley of Mendoza is crammed with bright fruit flavors and makes a perfect partner to our national dish – steak on the grill.’

*****

a wine pic 8 2007 Orsianna Cabernet Sauvignon $8.99

Mendocino County     Elsewhere price $20

Smooth and softly dry, I tasted dark cherries. Steve says this wine improves as it is allowed to sit. Arvin commented that it is peppery and meets expectations. Joe said it tastes rich and full bodied, dirty – the way we all like dirty (WHAT? maybe we don’t all like dirty. and even if we did, we certainly won’t all admit it. Oh, wait. Dirty, like earthy? Oh) – and sometimes a wine does not live up to its fragrance, but this one does!

Expert review from The Wine Spies : The 2007 Orsinna Cabernet Sauvignon is a bright, juicy and delicious Mendocino Cabernet, through and through. If you are used to Cabernet from Napa or Sonoma, then you’ll find this wine to be somewhat brighter, but just as expressive. There are differences, to be sure, and this is one thing that makes this wine so appealing. With balanced, juicy fruit and earthen characteristics, a big nose and a fruity tart finish that ends with a distinct black pepper note. With bright acidity, this is a perfect wine to pair with rich foods, cleansing the palate between bites. Drinking well now, this wine will continue to progress for the next few years. Decant for best results, and enjoy the unique terroir of Mendocino County with this tasty Cabernet.

I would just like to add, I wouldn’t be able to write this blog without all the help from my friends who like to frequent the Front Porch, Thank you! (and that tiny dictator, of course). Visit us on Facebook, to Enter to Win FREE Wine from this blog. Don’t forget to share this blog with your friends!

Enjoy friends, neighbors and good wine.

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The chairs on the Front Porch have been full the last two weeks. We tried six different wines total, and I’d like to thank all the ‘volunteer’ tasters that have generously sacrificed their Wednesday evenings to help me take wine notes on the Front Porch. Your efforts are appreciated. 🙂

All the wines reviewed here can be found at Manteca Grocery Outlet while supplies last! 1391 E Yosemite Ave, Manteca, Ca. 95336. Open 8 am – 9 pm Monday through Friday (209) 239-4295.

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Cambridge & Sunset

My neighborhood is full of people that take daily walks with their kids & dogs or ride their bikes along the bike trails, you know healthy people. I love to gather friends on the porch to drink some wine and watch them go by. The people who make Cambridge & Sunset California wine agree… the labels read: ‘After 25 years in the wine industry we have learned that we all want our wine to taste great, be affordable, and available for all those wonderful nights when we can gather and reflect on the good deeds we have done while enjoying some R&R in our neighborhood.’ Cambridge & Sunset 2010 Chardonnay $5.99 and 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon $3.99 were both a big hit on the Front Porch.

The Chardonnay was light and crisp and had a very light coloring which indicates a quality chardonnay. Caroline tasted a hint of apple, maybe even pear. Becky thought it was very dry (in a good way) and we all noticed a bit of fizziness on the first sip. The Cab had a solid dark coloring. Terry said it was yummy with a burst of fruity flavor.  Becky commented that it stays on the tongue afterward with a nice finish. Caroline tasted black cherry and thought it would go well with red pasta or dark chocolate. (did somebody say chocolate tasting? YES, we will taste chocolate in the very near future…) And good ol’ Steve said it tasted chocolaty-plum and would go well with a hoagie. SMH Steve, hoagies go with everything.

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2009 Patianna Estates Mendocino Chardonnay  ~made with organic grapes~

Very clear color, I like that in a chardonnay. Clean and mild, tasting of tropical fruits. Not oaky (which I also like). Larry said it was mild and Arvin and Terry agreed. Very drinkable, and Organic!

Patianna
Mendocino
2009 CHARDONNAY

DOUBLE GOLD

San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition 2012
89 POINTS

Wine Enthusiast, September 1, 2011

Source

Expert review: Tremendously pretty with honeysuckle and apricot highlights and memorable texture as well as a bright, crisp finish, this Chardonnay makes for a very good food wine, its cool-climate grapes grown organically along the banks of the Russian River. Source

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2009 Robert Hall Central Coast Red Wine $8.99

This is a blend of hand-harvested Grenache, Syrah, Cinsaut and Counoise grapes. I love a wine made with a blend of grapes (even if I cannot pronounce them) and this wine did not disappoint! Arvin said it really captures your senses (what a great addition of adjectives Arvin, Thank you!). Steve said it started good, but got even better after it was allowed to breath. And Larry (who only really likes white wines) said it was hearty – not bad at all and he didn’t need to pour it out. Lol. A big hit on the Porch!

The label reads: ‘A rich, mouth filling red blend, the aroma is reminiscent of fresh cherries with hints of black pepper and spice. This is what wine is meant to be – flavorful, approachable and honest.’

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2010 Epilogue Chardonnay North Coast $3.99

The label was very fancy, don’t forget to run your fingers across it lightly! I really enjoyed this Chardonnay, very light and crisp. I tasted the citrus and definitely pear. It was too light for Caroline; she would make sangria with it. It had hints of oak and Caroline and Larry agreed that it would be great by the pool on a warm day. Steve says he tasted apple pie and vanilla, but he’s a cheater so I’m sure he read the label first. Shame on you Steve.

Wine Enthusiast Magazine scores this wine at 86 points . Expert review: Simple and straightforward, this Chardonnay has notes of vanilla, caramel and oak. A bite of sweet baked apple is most pronounced on the finish.

The label reads: ‘Offering up delicate notes of citrus, ripe Anjou pear and warm baked apples, this wine finishes beautifully with hints of vanilla and measured oak.’ Check out the winery page here: Envolve

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2011 Zinsanity Lodi Zinfandel $5.99

Who doesn’t enjoy a good local Zin? They are sought out in the wine department on a daily basis. In the past, I have made a gift out this particular Zinfandel, Zinsanity. It’s a solid wine choice, but the name really brings it home! Caroline thought it was spicy, and it was too much for Terry (maybe she’d like it better in the fall, it was a pretty warm evening). Steve and I both enjoyed it (as we have in the past) and it’s always a good seller when we can get it. It pairs well with pizza, grilled red meats, but specifically a spicy tri-tip would be Zinsane!

Maybe someday some of the neighborhood passerbys will stop and join us on the Front Porch to taste some wines, until then we will toast them from afar from behind the white picket fence that contains the Infamous Front Porch.