Gabe's View

Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

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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Big Reds and Whiskey for Dad

Posted by Gabe on June 19, 2015

KaikenMai10Father’s Day is around the corner, so it’s time to get Dad a gift. I suppose you could get him a tie, but it’ll probably end up at the back of his closet with so many other unnecessary artifacts. Instead, give him something delicious to drink. Here are 11 well-made wines and whiskeys that will quench his thirst and leave him smiling. Who knows — if you’re lucky, he may share.

Harney Lane 2012 Old Vine Zinfandel ($35)

All of the fruit for this truly old vine zinfandel was sourced at a single vineyard site. Lizzy James Vineyard was planted in Lodi, California, back in 1904. It was aged in French oak for 21 months. Black raspberry and plum aromas lead the charge on the deep, dark, and heady nose. Blueberry and blackberry flavors fill the…Head over to The Daily Meal to read The Rest.

Posted in Bourbon, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Red Blends, Rye, Whiskey, Zinfandel | Leave a Comment »

Steelhead Vineyards – 2013 Sauvignon Blanc / 2013 Pinot Noir

Posted by Gabe on June 18, 2015

Steelhead_Pinot.PR_Steelhead Vineyards is owned by Katy and Dan Leese who also founded the V2 Wine Group which owns a number of properties. Steelhead Vineyards itself is committed to charity. A percentage of all their sales are donated to Trout Unlimited. This group does outreach with Northern California Wineries to help them move towards improved water practices. This includes restoration of Salmon and Steelhead habitats on their properties and more. More information can be found on their website. Hugh Chapelle, from Quivira Vineyards, is the consulting winemaker. Here’s a look at two of their current releases.

Steelhead 2013 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc ($13)

The fruit for this wine (100% Sauvignon Blanc) came from Lake County (80%), and Dry Creek Valley (20%). It was fermented in stainless steel at cold temperatures with a small amount sitting on the lees.  Just fewer than 6,000 cases were produced. Pineapple, yellow melon, mango, and lemon zest aromas are all present on the inviting nose. Apricot, white peach and a bit of spice show up on the agreeable palate which is easy going with more than sufficient depth. Minerals, hints of grass, white pepper and a hint of papaya all show up on the finish. This clean, crisp and fresh tasting Sauvignon Blanc is delicious all by itself and will pair well with creamy cheeses, light foods and the like.

Steelhead 2013 Sonoma County Pinot Noir ($15)

The fruit for this wine, all Pinot, was sourced in Sonoma County. Fermentation took place in open tanks with punch downs as well as some closed tanks with pump overs.  Aging took place in a combination of tank and barrel over 10 months. Just fewer than 12,000 cases were produced. Bing cherry, wild strawberry and hints of spice appear on the welcoming nose. A core of red fruits tinged lightly with black fruit characteristics are joined by lots of spice and mineral elements on the layered palate. Cinnamon, cloves, sweet cocoa, red cherry and bits of cranberry are all present on the above average finish. Firm acid lends structure and adds to the mouth-watering nature of this wine. Balanced Pinot Noir with good varietal typicity is hard to come by in this price range. That makes this wine a bit of a steal at $15.

These are very solid everyday wines. They’re both express their varietal quite well and provide a very impressive amount of delicious drinking pleasure for their price points. If you’re looking for a house white or red to purchase by the case, you’ll do well with these offerings from Steelhead. And you’ll also help make a difference. Sounds like a good deal for all involved.

Posted in Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Wine | Leave a Comment »

 
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