Gabe's View

Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley, Tons More than Zinfandel Part II

Posted by Gabe on October 5, 2015

P-SBThis story covers some wines that didn’t quite fit in my Dry Creek Valley piece for The Daily Meal. So if you haven’t read that yet, head over and check it out first so you can get the full picture about these wines in particular and Dry Creek Valley as a whole.

Amista Vineyards:

Sparkling Grenache ($40)

This wine is composed entirely of hand harvested Grenache using the classic method. The lovely salmon hue shimmers in the glass. Wild Strawberry aromas dominate the nose alongside bits of crème fraiche and vanilla bean. The palate is soft, lush and loaded with red fruit flavors. Cherry and continued bits of cream mark the long finish. This perfectly dry sparkling wine is a great match for a wide array of foods.

Sparkling Syrah ($36)

This wine is composed entirely of hand-picked Syrah using the classic method. The bright red color here shines brilliantly in your glass the moment you pour it. Bold red cherry aromas light up the nose. The palate which has a bit of weight is loaded with brighter fruit flavors than the other two selections. Bits of spice, toast and just a hint of sour cherry are all apparent on the solid finish. The slightly larger frame of this wine makes it even more adaptable with food than the others.

Comstock Winery:

2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($24)

This wine is composed entirely of Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc. It was aged in mostly stainless steel; a small amount was aged in neutral French oak. Lemon, lime and grapefruit aromas form a song trio of citrus characteristics on the buoyant and appealing nose of this Sauvignon Blanc. The even keeled palate is layered with a combination of citrus, tropical fruits, hints of grass, yellow melon, and spices to spare. Sour yellow fruits and continued bits of spice mark the solid finish. This is a textbook example of classic Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

Frick Winery

2012 Grenache Blanc ($26)

This Estate bottled wine is produced from fruit sourced at Owl Hill Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. Apricot and lychee fruit aromas explode from the nose here. The palate is gentle and dry with layered fruit and spices characteristics. Sour yellow fruits appear on the finish which is long, silky and mellifluous.


2014 Dry Rosé of Zinfandel ($23)

This offering, composed of Zinfandel marks only the second vintage of Rosé for Martorana. The gorgeous light salmon hue shimmers in the glass. Red cherry aromas explode from the nose. The juicy palate is stuffed with watermelon and other red fruit flavors. Raspberry and crème fraiche flavors round out the crisp finish.

Pedroncelli Winery ($14)

2014 Dry Rosé of Zinfandel ($12)

The fruit for this wine comes from Dry Creek Valley. It was bottled without oak treatment. Red fruits such as strawberry and raspberry emerge from the nose. The lovely and perfectly dry palate is studded with wild strawberry and touch of red plum. Bits of cream and continued red fruits mark the persistent finish.

2014 Sauvignon Blanc ($14)

All of the fruit comes from their East Side Vineyards property. Year after year this is an outstanding value in Sauvignon Blanc. The 2014 vintgage is no exception. This wine leads with citrus aromas on the nose. A hint of grass and tropical fruit presents as well. The palate is stuffed with more of the same. Lemon, lime and grapefruit characteristics fill the palate is which is fruity, flavorful and even-keeled. White pepper, a touch of cream and sour yellow melon flavors mark the above average finish. For $14 or less this is a really solid example of Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

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Château La Lauzette 2010 La Lauzette Declercq

Posted by Gabe on September 9, 2015

la luzete btlChâteau La Lauzette is one of a growing number of wineries in the Cru Bourgeois du Médoc that is owned or run by women. This in a region who the average wine lover tends to believe the Château’s are passed down from Father to son from one generation to the next. This particular winery is run by Liz Roskam and her husband Franz. She’s originally from Illinois and relocated to Bordeaux in 2002. They took over the vineyard in 2005.

Château La Lauzette 2010 La Lauzette Declercq, Haut- Médoc, Cru Bourgeois ($30)
This Bordeaux blend combines Cabernet Sauvignon (70%), Merlot (28%), and Cabernet Franc (2%). Aging took place over 12 months in French oak; 33% of the barrels utilized were new. 3,500 cases of this offering were produced. Bits of toast and black raspberry aromas are present on the welcoming nose. The palate is stuffed with a bevy of fruit flavors including cherry, black currant, and dried black fruits. In addition savory herbs such as sage and thyme are also in play. Bits of red fruit, black tea, earth, minerals and chicory are all present on the above average finish. Approachable tannins and firm acid help provide fine structure upon which all of that fruit is built. This is a restrained, elegant and lovely wine that is counterbalanced by plenty of eager fruit flavors. In short it should satisfy wine lovers with a variety of different palates. While this offering was great sipped alone it really stood out with food. I paired it with a burger topped with Smoked Gouda, caramelized onions and a side of rosemary roasted potatoes, which was a fantastic match.

Posted in Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Red Bordeaux | Leave a Comment »

Anaba Wines, a Noteworthy Sonoma County Destination

Posted by Gabe on August 22, 2015

turbine_white_12_FtOn a recent trip to northern California I spent a leisurely afternoon at Anaba Wines, and boy am I glad I did. Anaba sits at the edge of Sonoma County. In fact, if you spend time driving between Napa and Sonoma, you probably pass it regularly. My suggestion is to make some time to stop in and pay the friendly folks there a visit.

Anaba Wines has a lovely, intimate tasting room at the corner of Bonneau Road and 116 in Sonoma. Once there you can choose to either taste inside or out on the attached deck. If weather permits, I recommend the deck since sitting outside always adds some additional panache to tasting wine in my opinion. As lovely as their current space is, they have plans to expand it with a larger one in the next few years.

While Anaba owns some vineyard land and farm grapes, their focus is on sourcing fruit from other growers under long-term contracts. Their portfolio features a variety of single vineyard offerings, cuvee style wines, a handful of blends, and a couple of dessert wines. I had the opportunity to taste through a large swatch of their portfolio alongside their owner John Sweazey. Here’s a look… Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.

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Villa de Varda Impresses with a Wide Range of Grappas

Posted by Gabe on July 20, 2015

Villa_de_Varda_Grappa_Amarone_Stravecchia-FRONTA couple of weeks back at dinner with Michele Dolzan I had the opportunity to taste through some of the different Grappa’s his family produces as well as learn all about their history. Michele is part of the fourth generation and along with his brother’s carries on the family tradition as well as bringing it forward to current times by instituting higher standards, and using modern technology to their advantage.

Villa de Varda produces a wide range of different Grappas. Within their portfolio are single varietal Grappas, blended Grappas and selections aged using different methodologies and vessels. In short all of these things lend themselves to Valla de Varda having a wide ranging assortment of Grappas that offer a variety of flavors and drinking experiences.

They have developed the “de Varda” method which has subsequently been adopted by some other producers. It has three basic steps to it. The first involves the raw materials… Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.

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Australia’s First Families of Wine Deliver a Powerful Message

Posted by Gabe on July 15, 2015

IMG_20150715_001052A few weeks back I attended an Australian wine event in Manhattan. This particular tasting was an interesting one indeed. Some of the country’s leading family-owned and multi-generational producers selected wines from their libraries to showcase to American trade and media. The main portion of the tasting was a sit-down seminar led by Mark Davidson, Australia’s worldwide wine educator. Alongside him, family members from each winery whose offerings were being poured that day were on hand to speak about their wine and Australia in general.

There are a couple of general misconceptions floating around about Australian wine. One is that the country’s producers make big, blustery wines that are long on upfront fruit and flash and short on finish and substance. The other is that that Australian wines don’t age. The problem is neither point is really valid; certainly not as wholesale statements. Every wine-producing country has great, good, and bad producers. Certainly, Australia still has some who make boatloads of overripe shiraz. However, there are many more making proportionate shiraz as well as a very wide range of other offerings. It’s time to realize that there are as many diverse styles coming out of Australia as any other wine-making country. Not to mention much, much more than just shiraz, no matter how tasty it can be. Head Over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.

Posted in Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Marsanne, Muscat, Riesling, Sémillon, Syrah/Shiraz | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Well-Priced, Tasty Wines From Washington State’s Maryhill Winery

Posted by Gabe on July 14, 2015

11525-1_Red_Wine_12Founded in 1999, Maryhill Winery produces more than 80,000 cases of wine annually. To produce those wines, they source fruit from eight different growing regions and work closely with a dozen growers. That allows them to have a portfolio of offerings that are diverse both in style, intent, and price point. Craig and Vicki Leuthold founded and still own this family business. Their wines are available throughout the country. Maryhill Winery itself is located on the Columbia River in Goldendale and has become a go-to destination, drawing more than 75,000 visitors per year. I just sat down and tasted through a handful of their wines and found a lot to like.

Maryhill Winery 2012 Winemaker’s Red ($15)

This offering is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, and cabernet franc. Fruit was sourced across numerous Washington state regions. Aging took place in tank, using oak staves over a period of 11 months. Booming cherry aromas burst from the nose of this red; a bit of leather provides a lovely aromatic counterpoint. The extremely appealing palate is loaded with a plethora of sweet but proportionate red and…Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest. 

Posted in Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Marsanne, Roussanne, Syrah/Shiraz | Leave a Comment »

Emilio Moro and the Versatility of Tinto Fino

Posted by Gabe on July 13, 2015

MalleolusTinto fino is a specific clone of tempranillo. In fact, it’s thought by many to be the purest expression. Last week, I tasted with Emilio Moro winemaker Jose Moro and learned firsthand about this grape’s purity of expression as well as the wide swath of flavors and characters it can exhibit, which vary based on a number of factors.  Everything they do at Emilio Moro is aimed at producing the best possible expression of their vineyard sites. Emilio Moro has plantings that are relatively new, and others that are close to 100 years in age. Their goal is to showcase what tinto fino can achieve in their vineyards in Ribera del Duero.

Each wine in their portfolio is a carefully considered expression that is site-specific in its intent. As a winery, Emilio Moro employs a combination of tradition and innovation. At their heart, they are traditionalists, and their winemaking methodologies are time-tested and pure. However, they have the foresight to use modern technology and technical innovations to provide the information and support they need so that they can employ those traditional techniques in the optimal… Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest. 

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Lost Canyon 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay / 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Posted by Gabe on July 9, 2015

Lost Canyon Winery is a project of Dry Creek Valley’s Fritz Underground Winery. They have long had Russian River Valley offerings in their portfolio in addition to wines from their Dry Creek Valley home. The Lost Canyon Project is specifically aimed at highlighting single vineyards. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are two grapes that can often be interesting as vineyard designates. Here’s a look at two current releases.

Lost Canyon 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($35)

All of the fruit for this offering was sourced at the Ruxton Vineyard; the vines have 35 years of age on them. It’s entirely Chardonnay and after native yeast fermentation it was aged for 10 months in French oak (90% new). Just fewer than 700 cases were produced. Stone fruit aromas such as yellow peach and apricot dominate the nose here; bits of spice join in as well. The juicy palate is studded with orchard fruits such as Anjou Pear and Golden Delicious Apple. Minerals and lemon ice characteristics light up the long, crisp finish. This is a delicious and refreshing example of Chardonnay.

Lost Canyon 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($45)

This single vineyard effort was produced from fruit grown at the Morelli Lane Vineyard. Fermentation took place in open top tanks using native yeast. Punch downs occurred 2-3 times a day over 10 days. Barrel aging was accomplished over 10 months in 40% new oak. 300 cases were produced. Spice characteristics lead the nose here along with cherry, raspberry and strawberry aromas. Black cherry and bits of raspberry are present on the palate along with continued spice and a dollop of earthiness. Pomegranate and cranberry emerge on the finish along with cinnamon and clove. Firm mouthwatering acid keeps everything in check here.

Both of these wines are loaded with good varietal typicity as well as being somewhat classic examples of Russian River Chardonnay and Pinot respectively. The Lost Canyon offerings are reasonably priced for relatively small production wines from single vineyards. They are well worth your time and money.

Posted in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Bokisch Vineyards, a Burgeoning Jewel in Lodi California

Posted by Gabe on July 2, 2015

BokischTempranilloLodi2012Having spent a lot of time in many of California’s wine-growing regions, it was about time that I made it to Lodi. A couple of weeks back I did exactly that as a guest of the Winegrowers of Lodi. Over a period of four days, the group I was with extensively toured vineyards sites and wineries. Along the way, we tasted something like a boatload of wine — maybe a little more. The trip was designed to open our eyes to Lodi as a premium wine-growing region, and it did just that for me. While I was aware that some fine wine was coming from the area, I had no real idea about the wide array of grapes being grown or how many boutique producers there are doing their own thing. In short, there are a lot of exciting things going on in Lodi, California, and I’ll get to many of them in time. For now, though, I’m focusing on one producer.

Bokisch Vineyards was founded after Markus and Liz Bokisch lived for a year in Spain, where Markus spent his summers during childhood. Refreshing this connection to his heritage made an impression on both Markus and Liz. After moving back to the United States, they settled in Lodi and bought land to start their winery. With their obvious love for Spanish wines and culture, their next decision made complete sense: They would focus entirely on Spanish varietals. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest:

Posted in Albariño, Graciano, Grenache Blanc, Lodi, Tempranillo, Verdejo, Verdelho | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Puccioni Vineyards, Dry Creek Valley’s Ultimate Mom & Pop Shop

Posted by Gabe on June 23, 2015

puccionibottleThere are an overwhelming number of wine producers out there. That leads to countless bottles on shelves all over the world. Some of those labels have a neat little story on them about the winery, the grapes, or something else. Too often, those stories are marketing spin, created to make a wine more appealing. It doesn’t mean anything is particularly wrong with that wine, but if the wine I’m drinking has a story attached, I want it to be real, not from the land of make-believe. Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley is fortunate to have quite a few real stories. It’s an area dotted with family wineries, some fairly new, others generations old. One of my favorite stories and wineries for a variety of reasons is Puccioni Vineyards.

The Puccioni Wine story starts way back when Glenn Proctor’s great-grandfather Angelo Puccioni plantedzinfandel more than 100 years ago. In fact, zinfandel has been grown on the site without interruption since 1904. The original iteration of Puccioni as a winery was in 1919. That version lasted through 1935, even surviving Prohibition with a government license. Selling grapes to home winemakers during that period helped as well. This is a practice they continued for many years after Prohibition ended. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.

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