Sunday, November 14, 2010

Who Doesn’t Love A Cupcake

I first heard about Cupcake Vineyard wines when a friend of mine brought one over as a hostess’ gift. The variety escapes me at the moment but my husband and I both liked it. Then, it kind of went off our radar for a bit. Once I started blogging about bargain wines, it went on my lists to try again and then blog about.

First, a little background on Cupcake Vineyards. According to their web site, the winery itself is located in Monterey County, CA. The grapes for their Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot come from California’s Central Coast. The grapes for their Sauvignon Blanc come from the Marlborough Valley of New Zealand. The wines are fermented in stainless steel and then aged in American oak barrels.

Now, whenever I see an advertisement for Cupcake Chardonnay, it always has this little blurb attributed to James Laube of Wine Spectator who gave it 88 points, “You’ll be hard pressed to find a better $13 Chardonnay than this Central Coast bottling.” Well, I have NEVER seen it selling for $13. I think the most I have ever seen it priced is around $10. I bought it on sale at our local ABC Wine Country for $5.99. Our local Total Wine & More sells it for $7.97 all the time. Either of those prices is fine with me!

OK, enough about the price. Let’s talk about the Chardonnay itself, which was a 2009 vintage. When I first poured it, I instantly detected the aroma of apples with a hint of tropical fruit. Both of these carried over to the taste. I also tasted a hint of lemon. It had a bit of spice and a touch of oak with a smooth finish. The bottle recommended serving it chilled with crab cakes, seared Ahi tuna or French Bread and Cheese. I drank it alone but made careful note of these suggestions and I plan on trying the pairing with tuna soon. You really can’t beat the price of the wine and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was.

Encouraged by how much I liked the Chardonnay, I moved on to my favorite variety, Sauvignon Blanc, also a 2009 vintage. I had bought it at Total Wine for $7.97. As I mentioned above, the grapes for this variety come from Marlborough Valley, New Zealand. The bottle said that due to the cool weather, the grapes mature slowly which gives them a “complexity and a vibrant zing reminiscent of a lemon chiffon cupcake.” Hmmm, now who could resist THAT? As I poured the wine, I immediately detected the hints of citrus, mainly lemon and lime. When I took the first sip, I noted how bright and crisp it was. It seemed perfect for a warm Florida fall evening although I have to say, I didn’t find it reminiscent of a lemon chiffon cupcake. The citrus hints carried over to the flavor with lime jumping out at me more than lemon. I was even more pleased with this variety though the fact that it is my favorite may have had something to do with that. It immediately went onto my keepers list. The bottles suggested serving it with oysters on the half shell or with a creamy lobster risotto. So, for the sake of further research, I plan on pairing it with BOTH in the future!

The last variety I tried was the Cabernet Sauvignon, my favorite red variety. I purchased this one at Total Wine as well. All their Cupcake wines were priced at $7.97. This wine was 2007 vintage. Aromas of berries and currants were the first things I noticed but I also detected floral hint after a few seconds. As for taste, the tannins were a bit strong and it was a bit too acidic. My husband noted the same thing since he tends to be sensitive to that. The berries and currants came through in the flavor along with a musty hint…tobacco, maybe? Overall, I have to say it’s unlikely I’ll buy this one again.

I will definitely be buying the white varietals again. I may give the reds one more chance and try the Merlot. After all, who can resist a cupcake?

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