Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Online Wine Shop Review: Wine Chateau - winechateau.com

I was contacted by the folks at winechateau.com about reviewing a free sampling of their wines. According to their website, Wine Chateau has three brick and mortar stores in New Jersey plus their on-line wine shop.  I found their website to be well designed, and I was able to easily navigate their selection of wines and spirits...with Scotch getting it's own category on the home page...bonus points for that!!!
I had never heard of Wine Chateau before, and I do quite a bit of my wine shopping and research online, so before receiving my wines from them I wanted to check out their overall offerings. My first impression was definitely the mammoth selection of wine available. In perusing their Red Wine section, I found a 750ml bottle of 2013 Santa Ema Select Terroir Merlot for $119.64 next to a 4L bottle of Carlo Rossi Sangria for $74.76. 


Overall the website had the types of filters you'd expect for efficient wine shopping: Category, Brand, Price, Grapes, Region, Sub-Region. My only criticism of my test drive of the website was that too many bottles had only a generic Wine Chateau bottle, instead of a picture of the actual bottle.  When I shop online, seeing the actual label helps me identify both old familiar favorites as well as new and exciting finds.  

After some general browsing I decided to drill down into the Spanish Wines - choosing Spain, then Rioja, then Rioja Alavesa (the Basque sub-region within Rioja).  Within Rioja there were about 180 wines, including familiar and widely marketed brands like Muga, Marques de Caceres, and Faustino,  great value wines like El Coto Crianza, plus some interesting names that were new to me.  Drilling down further into Rioja Alavesa there were an impressive 14 choices, again including familiar names like Marques de Riscal, plus an even more impressive choice of three different Artadi wines. Artadi is one of my personal favs from Rioja Alavesa, and typically are not easy to find even in Spain.

I would compare the variety available at Wine Chateau with the mega Liquor Stores like Total Wine or BevMo where you can find every type of Barefoot wine made, with the added  (and crucial) bonus of a much greater selection of higher end wines, plus unique wines...did I mention Artadi wines from Rioja Alavesa? If you like to shop online or don't have easy access to one of those mega stores, check out this site...I have no doubt you will find an old favorite or two, and maybe some new and interesting things to try.

Now for the wine sample the generous folks at Wine Chateau shipped to me.  My first impression was quite positive, as I recognized two of the three offerings:
  • 2011 Chateau de Jau Cotes de Roussillon Villages from Roussillon, Southern France ($13.97). This was not a wine I recognized, but admittedly I am not very familiar with wines  from Southern France.

2013 Decoy Pinot Noir
You can see by the color that Pinot is a lighter style. I am typically a fan of the bigger, more concentrated Pinots, but I must say this one was really fantastic.  Lots of cherry and a nice tart cranberry aromas, with a bit of toasted wood. Great acidity like you'd expect from Pinot Noir, with a long, lingering delicious finish.  I am a big fan of second labels where wineries that typically offer more expensive wines use the same winemaking skill but towards making a more value priced offering.  I have often admitted to being a bit of a Pinot snob and not easy impressed, but this wine...ESPECIALLY at under $20 is excellent!

2011 Terrazas de los Andes Malbec Reserva
Malbecs, especially from South America are my go to wines for many purposes... just to sip and enjoy, pairing with all kinds of food, even spicier Korean dishes, and a red that I often use to entice those that tell me they don't like red wine into understanding that they just don't like red wine "yet"!  This wine was one I figured would be a hit as I first unpacked the box from Wine Chateau.  I was very surprised that the wine was very closed off, almost no aromas present.  The flavor was not unpleasant, but lacked that fruit forward kick I expect from Malbec.  I left the bottle open a few hours and tried again, but no change.  My suspicion is that this bottle was impacted by cork taint.  Not significant enough to show those wet cardboard characteristics, but enough to rob the wine of it's aromas and flavors.  When I experience this in tasting a wine I do consult other reviews just to check and see if others have experienced the same characteristics, or if it may be just a bad bottle. My friends at Wine Spectator spoke highly of the wine, noting "Intense dark currant and spiced cherry flavors", none of which I experienced.  Hey this happens sometimes in the world of wine - so if you do get a chance to try this wine, I very much believe the bottle will be fine and you will enjoy it a lot!

2011 Chateau de Jau Cotes de Roussillon Villages
I save the most unknown wine (to me) for last - a blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre from the Cotes de Roussillon region in Southern France near the border with Spain.  Beautiful deep dark color with aromas of black cherry and smoke. More of a new world style that a typical French wine (if there is such a thing anymore).  A nice amount of tannins, but very drinkable now, a great food wine for your next dinner party. For under $15, this is really a stellar wine and one that I will look for in the future.

This sampling of wine was a great example of one of the great quests as a wine drinker - excellent value. A rare as a Bigfoot sighting tasty Pinot for under $20 and an incredible French wine for under $15... all I can say to you winos is check out Wine Chateau.

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