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Archive for May, 2010

Bota Box – 2009 Pinot Grgio

Posted by Gabe on May 31, 2010

Over the last few years the image of non-traditionally packaged wine has started to shift. It’s no longer a given that wine coming in something other than a 750 ml bottle is of lesser quality. One delivery method that’s made a big turn is the box. What was once the bastion of cheap bulk wine has in some cases come to represent solid value and environmental friendliness. Today I’ll look at a selection from Bota Box that falls into that category.

Bota Box 2009 Pinot Grigio comes in a 3 liter package. This box is the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine. The package is 100% recyclable. In addition to that aspect the lower weight and smaller size has a smaller carbon footprint that the same wine in glass would. Its compact size fits easily in a refrigerator or cooler.  This selection was produced from Pinot Grigio sourced from throughout California. Alcohol content is a modest  13%. The suggested retail price for this 3 liter package is $18.99.

Orchard fruit aromas fill the nose of this Pinot Grigio. Apple and pear dominate along with wisps of vanilla. Throughout the palate grapefruit plays a starring role along with continued orchard fruit. Spice notes kick in around mid-palate and continue to the finish which is clean and crisp. A hint of sweetness creeps in at the close and provides a lovely final note.

I served this wine at a BBQ over the weekend and thought it was flavorful and a good value. But I was quite curious to see what others had to say. A couple of common threads emerged amongst those who tasted. In general folks were surprised with the quality level for a boxed wine. They were further stunned when I revealed the price point. In general most of those I polled also used the words, fresh, refreshing and zesty or some combination of those. What I really found is that this wine had broad appeal across a large group. And let’s face it if you’re going to pull out 3 liters of a single wine, broad appeal is what you’re shooting for. The unofficial beginning of summer is here, with it BBQs and grilling galore. This Bota Box Pinot Grigio is a wine to consider for value and wide satisfaction.

Posted in Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Wine | 1 Comment »

A Look At Some Long Island Rosé

Posted by Gabe on May 28, 2010

With Memorial Day weekend here, Rosé drinking season has officially begun in earnest. At the very least I know that’s true at my house. For me dry Rosé is one of the simple joys of warm weather. I took some time this week to try some Rosés from New York; Long Island to be more specific. Over the last few years there has been more and more acclaim for Long Island wines. The history of winemaking there dates to 1973. At that time there were 17 acres under vine, today there are 3,000. Total case production for Long Island is 500,000. Here are my thoughts about the Long Island Rosé’s I looked at this time out.

First up is a selection from Macari Vineyards. They were established in 1995 and produce 14,000 cases of wine annually. The 2008 Macari Rosé is a blend of Cabernet Franc (45%), Merlot (30%), Cabernet Sauvignon (14%), Pinot Noir (7%), and Malbec (4%). The suggested retail price for this wine is $15. The nose of this Rosé is marked by strong, fresh watermelon aromas. These red melon characteristics continue through the palate where they’re joined by other berry fruits such as cherry. A hint of spice kicks in and carries forward through the finish where it’s joined by savory notes in a crisp, dry and refreshing close.

The second wine is from Raphael which was established in 1996. They have 55 acres under vine and produce 5,000 cases per year. The Raphael 2008 Rosé of Merlot was fermented in stainless steel. The suggested retail price for this offering is $16.99. Bright, fresh red berry fruits are prominent on the nose of this selection. Red raspberry leads the palate where it joins forces with subtler wisps of citrus, particularly tangerine peel. There is an impression of sweetness on the back palate that provides a nice tingle leading into the finish. This Rosé is a light, crisp and ultimately very refreshing wine. I found that this offering in particular worked best for me ice cold.

The final wine today is from Castello di Borghese. They were founded in 1973 so they are amongst the oldest wineries on Long Island. They have 84 acres under vine and produce between 7,000 and 8,000 cases each year. The 2008 Borghese Fleurette was made from from Merlot. It has a suggested retail price of $14.99. The lovely light pink hue of this wine really makes a strong impression of classic Rosé in the glass. Aromas of strawberry underscored by a touch of crème fraiche are abundant in the nose. A ton of wild strawberry flavors are prominent throughout the palate of this wine. White pepper and light nutmeg notes kick in around mid-palate and lead to a nice finish. This selection has some intriguing and subtle layers of complexity.

This trio of Rosés from Long Island will make for some delicious summer drinking. Whether by themselves on your deck or with light seasonal foods, each of these wines is a refreshing choice. I enjoyed all three wines but Fleurette from Borghese really hit my personal Rosé sweet spot.

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Tasting Shirvington Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz

Posted by Gabe on May 25, 2010

I recently had the chance to taste wine, over dinner, with the Shirvingtons. The namesakes of this Australian Winery were in the United States for the first time in many years showing off their wines. Lucky for me they brought quite a treasure trove of goodies to share.

Lynne and Paul Shirvington started down the wine road in 1995. Their aim was for a simpler existence as farmers, and thus they decided that growing grapes would provide the life they were looking for and the challenges they craved. Between 1996 and 2001 they purchases 3 parcels of land. Their vineyard manager Peter Bolte has been with them since 1997 and their winemaker Kim Jackson since 2004. Starting with the 2001 vintage they have made wines that have garnered significant attention and acclaim. I was quite curious to sample their wines as I had not previously done so. It’s generally instructive to do so with the folks responsible and the Shirvingtons were no exception. In addition to founders Peter and Lynne their son Mark was in attendance as well. Their pride in their wines was clear as was their hospitality and charm.

In total we tasted five vintages of Shiraz and four of Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit was sourced from their own vineyards. So the first step in consistency is controlling their source. Of course there is plenty of vintage variation between them. Tasting the wines side by side was an eye opener into their winemaking style and their track record as a producer. So while there was plenty to differentiate the wines I was struck by the positive attributes they have in common. There is a trio of things that most impressed me about the Shirvington wines as a whole.

The first is the balance and restraint both the Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz showed across each of the vintages. While these are by no means small wines, their heft is quite reasonable. The flavors are mouth-filling, even a bit relentless in their attack at times, but never over the top. Despite alcohol levels well over 15% on almost every offering, not a single one belied any discernable heat. Considering all the disproportionate wine from the world over, that is certainly no small feat.

The second thing that made me really take notice in these wines is their persistence and duration of palate. From the first whiff of the expressive nose through what is an above average finish on each of them, they’re profiles are notably lengthy

Age ability is another other quality about the Shirvington wines that stands out above most others. These wine have the legs to last quite awhile. The oldest wines we tasted were from their second vintage, 2002 and the youngest from 2008. The oldest wines were amazing; particularly in how much fresh fruit they still showed. It would have been very difficult to pick up that the Shiraz was an 8 year old wine. It speaks really well to the small lot, terroir driven approach they employ to make their wines. The older Cabernet was also very good, but showed more of the hallmark signs of an offering with some age on it. It’s hard to say precisely how long these wines will go but at 8 years old now they surely have a couple years more left to go, at the very least. The younger wines which benefited from additional aeration over the course of the evening have the same overall structure and characteristics to indicate that they will have a similar shelf life; perhaps even more as the vines gain age and they learn more and more about them over time.

It’s important to note, as I referenced above, that while there are many qualitative similarities between these wines, the vintage rules they day. The Shirvingtons are keen about making wines that speak very specifically about their place of origin in McLaren Vale. And even that very specific spot has different things to say each year. Weather is of course a huge factor and there have been some vintages affected to different degrees by drought. The Shirvingtons are extremely committed to overall quality; in fact if the fruit isn’t up to their standard they simply won’t make the particular wine that year.

The proof is in the bottle. For me the bottom line is the wine, and it’s clear when it comes to that they’re making all the right decisions. These are world class examples of Australian Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon respectively. Current vintages have a suggested retail price of $66.99 (Shiraz) and $59.99 (Cabernet Sauvignon). Whether you pick some up to knock your friends out today or you want to lay down some wine for the next decade, the Shirvington offerings are selections you should strongly consider.

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Events, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine, Winemaker Dinner | Leave a Comment »

Sektkellerei Szigeti – Grüner Veltliner Brut NV

Posted by Gabe on May 23, 2010

Something about Sunday says Sparkling wine. And so I chilled a few that were sitting on my desk and popped them open. After tasting them it turns out that one of them was of particular interest to me and hopefully it will be to you as well. The wine in question is a sparkling Grüner Veltliner. I’ve been sampling different examples of Grüner every chance I get so the opportunity to sample a sparkling one was welcome. It also turned out to be the best of the batch of wines I went through today.

The Sektellerei Szigeti Grüner Veltliner NV Brut was produced using fruit sourced at a vineyard surrounding Lake Neusiedl; it sits approximately 328 feet above sea level.  This Sparkling Wine is 100% Grüner Veltliner. The Sziget was made using traditional methods. Fermentation occurred in stainless steel. This was followed by 9-15 months of aging on yeast.  This selection has a suggested retail price of $25.

A hint of lemon zest, followed by wisps of almond are the primary aromas in the attractive and somewhat subtle nose of this wine. The citrus theme continues through the palate where it’s rounded out by a lovely creaminess. White pepper emerges and leads to the finish which features brioche and yeast notes. The length is above average and the flavors really linger in a crisp and refreshing manner. There’s a nice final bite that serves to pull you back to your glass for another sip.

Whether you’re looking to drink more Grüner Veltliner or additional Sparkling wine this selection from Szigeti will fit the bill. It appoints itself nicely on both counts. For a suggested retail right around $25 it offers plenty of quality and more than sufficient complexity.

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Posted in Grüner Veltliner, Sparkling Wine, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Tasting The Wines of Albino Armani

Posted by Gabe on May 18, 2010

Recently I had the chance to taste some wines from Albino Armani. This Italian producer based in the Adige Valley has a rich history that dates back to 1607. Impressively the same family has owned the property all that time. Over the years they have acquired property in the Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige and Friuli Venezia Giulia; however the Adige Valley of Verona is at the center of their operations.

In the 80’s winemaker Albino Armani discovered some Foja Tonda (also known as Casetta) vines on the property. This grape varietal was nearly extinct. Over time they have been replanting it. At present there are 12 hectares of it, still a pretty tiny amount. As of 2002 it was readmitted for cultivation. Over the last several years they have been making wine with it and as of the 2007 vintage Foja Tonda is recognized as D.O.C. Teradeiforti. This is quite a journey for the grape itself and a sign of the family’s perseverance and passion. In addition to tasting three vintages of Foja Tonda I was also able to sample their current release Pinot Grigio. My impressions were as follows.

Albino Armani 2009 Pinot Grigio – The fruit for this wine was sourced from vines aged between 15 and 40 years old. This offering is 100% varietal. 10% of the frit went the through the passito method typically employed when making Amarone. Aging was accomplished in stainless steel. 7,000 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $19.99. Hazelnut and kiwi notes appear on the nose of this Pinot Grigio. Melon and spice characteristics are present through the balanced palate, leading to a clean, crisp finish with fine acidity. Lovely on its own this wine will shine brighter when paired with soft cheeses, roasted chicken or light foods in general.

Albino Armani 2005 Foja Tonda – Casetta – I.G.T – Rosso Vallagarina – All of the fruit for this wine was sourced at estate vineyards in Vallagarina. This offering is 100% Foja Tonda (Casetta). After fermentation the wine was aged in oak for 12 months. 2,400 cases were produced and the suggested retail price is $19.99. Mulled berry and hints of candied cherry mark the nose of this 2005 wine. There is a solid core of upfront fruit through the palate; these flavors continue to the finish which shows off cinnamon, cardamom and a host of mineral notes. Good acidity keeps things in check.

Albino Armani 2006 Foja Tonda – Casetta – I.G.T – Rosso Vallagarina – Fruit was sourced at estate vineyards in the Southern Adige Valley. This wine is 100% varietal. Aging was accomplished over 12 months in 45,000 liter Slovenian oak followed by 6 months in bottle prior to release. 2,400 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $19.99. The extroverted nose of this 2006 wine is loaded with bright fruit. While the flavors on the palate are a bit brighter than the other two vintages, the fruit is ultimately both darker and drier than the aromas would indicate. Black pepper leads the way on a spice laden finish. Good acidity keeps this wine in balance.

Albino Armani 2007 Foja Tonda – Casetta – DOC Terradeiforti – The fruit for this wine was sourced at estate vineyards within Terradeiforti. As with the others this vintage is 100% varietal. Barrel aging was accomplished over 12 months in Slovenian oak; 6 months of bottle aging followed. 2,400 cases were produced and the suggested retail price is $19.99. Dried berry fruit notes are accompanied by hints of thyme on the nose of this 2007 wine. Black cherry, pomegranate and cranberry notes are all apparent throughout the palate of this wine. These lead to spice notes on the finish along with hints of earth and continued soft, sour fruit notes. Good acidity keeps this wine in check.

There are a host of connective tissues that tie these vintages of Foja Tonda together. That said, there is plenty of vintage variation which made tasting them together a fascinating exercise. I hadn’t had Foja Tonda previous to sitting down for this tasting. It will be a natural partner for food, particularly Italian cuisine of course. Anything with a red sauce on it will work well. Over the time we had the wines open to taste they evolved nicely and drank quite well by themselves too.  For me the story of this grape which the Armani family has made their personal reclamation project is fascinating. I’m constantly on a quest to find something new and interesting. In this case here’s something old that has been made new again. It’s most definitely quite interesting and well worth your time to explore. The relatively modest price point will also save damage to your wallet. So if you’re thinking of cracking open another bottle of Chianti or perhaps Dolcetto tonight, try something different. Foja Tonda will hit some of the notes each of those other two wines often do but in its own distinct way, as well as bringing other characteristics to the party as well.

Posted in Casetta/Foja Tonda, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Uncategorized, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Tasting the Phifer Pavitt 2006 Date Night Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted by Gabe on May 14, 2010

My time in Napa is always precious. This most recent trip, a few weeks back, it was particularly so. While I was spending nine days in wine country tasting, only one was in Napa Valley. Spending one day in Napa feels like an eye blink to me, so I planned the day as well and carefully as I could. A couple of friends were going to be with me for the whole day so whatever I planned they’d be in on, something for me to be mindful of as I planned. When I was presented with the opportunity to meet Suzanne Phifer Pavitt, taste her wine and have dinner with her, I took  the chance. Even though the day was already pretty full, and I was unfamiliar with her or her wine it seemed like exactly the sort of great opportunity with fortuitous timing that pops up on the best trips to Napa Valley. Without question I’m glad I did.

My friends and I met Suzanne at her property on the Silverado Trail. We got to see the Phifer Pavitt tasting room which is currently being completed. After seeing the property and getting a little bit of her history we made our way to dinner so we could learn more and taste her wine. Suzanne and her husband Shane spent a lot of date nights meeting up at various locations throughout California. At first their relationship was long distance and they would pick a place to meet and have a date night each week. Eventually once they were together it led them to buying property in Napa. Those date nights then started taking place on their property, where they dreamed of what it would become.

When the time came to name their wine they realized that Date Night was the natural choice for them. Sure it sounds catchy but for them the name embodies the essence of how they got around to making a wine to begin with. It’s rare (at least for me) to meet a person and feel as if you already knew them. Suzanne has that quality about her. She’s incredibly engaging and charming. Being from Georgia she’s imbued with down home hospitality; quite frankly it pours out of her.

Between stopping at her property and sitting in the restaurant we were all talking for close to a couple of hours and we hadn’t actually tasted her wine yet. At that point I was hoping I would like her wine because I already liked her. I’d have been genuinely disappointed if it turned out I didn’t care for her wine. The good news is that her wine is pretty terrific. Suzanne and her husband make a single offering, Cabernet Sauvignon. They’re currently on their second vintage which is 2006. The fruit is from the Pope Valley section of Napa. In addition to Cabernet winemaker Ted Osborne blended in 2% Petit Verdot. They made 275 cases of this wine and it has a suggested retail price of $75.

Over the course of a leisurely and delicious meal at Solbar we went through two bottles of Date Night and it left a lasting impression. The Phifer Pavitt 2006 Date Night Cabernet Sauvignon is classic example of Cabernet from the valley to my taste buds. Make no mistake it’s a big and bold wine, but it’s structured, well-balanced, and remarkably even, throughout a very persistent palate. The flavors are remarkably mouth-filling and completely take over, but do not overwhelm your senses. The finish is lengthy and the flavors linger for a good long while. The tannins are finely knit and give this Cabernet the structure to age gracefully over the next 6 or so years. And while it will certainly improve in the bottle, this Cabernet is ready to go now. This wine is simultaneously bold, refined and elegant. Date Night Cabernet Sauvignon harkens back a few years in my opinion, to when the goal was to make delicious, drinkable wine that had legs, not specifically to chase scores.

Before too long the Phifer Pavitt tasting room will be open. I highly recommend that you stop by. Tasting the wine and meeting the people behind it is likely to be an occasion you won’t forget. I generally only speak for myself but in this case I can safely say my friends and I all had a wonderful time getting to know Suzanne and her excellent Date Night Cabernet Sauvignon. I eagerly anticipate tasting the next vintage.

Photos by David Vermeire

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Wine, Winery Visit | Leave a Comment »

Adegas D’Altamira – 2008 Albarino Brandal

Posted by Gabe on May 13, 2010

Warm weather is here and with it the desire for many to drink a higher percentage of white and Rosé wines. While the usual suspects like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are still out there in force, wine drinkers have a lot more options these days. It seems like so many wine growing countries have white varietals that are emerging in the US. Argentina has Torrontes, Austria has Grüner Veltliner and the Basque have Txakoli. While Albarino from Spain has been on our shelves for years it’s never gotten the mainstream acclaim it deserves. With our wine drinking as a nation growing up a little each year it may see its day yet. Today I’m going to look at an Albarino from Adegas D’Altamira.

The Adegas D’Altamira 2008 Albarino Brandal is 100% varietal. Grapes for this selection were chosen from small blocks in the northwest of Spain. All the fruit was handpicked hand sorted and destemmed.  This offering did not undergo malolactic fermentation. 12,000 cases of this Albarino were produced and the suggested retail price is $17.99.

Mango, apricot and vanilla aromas permeate the full nose of this 2008 Albarino. Both white and yellow peach notes are prominent throughout the palate. These are joined by a nice wallop of spice notes. Overall the mouth feel is fuller and juicier than the average Albarino. Hints of lemon zest emerge on the finish along with some savory spice characteristics. The finish is crisp, dry and refreshing. Good acidity keep things balanced and makes this a natural partner for food. That said it’s pretty tasty on its own and will also work that way.

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Posted in Albariño, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Visiting Smith-Madrone Winery on Spring Mountain

Posted by Gabe on May 10, 2010

I’ve travelled to Napa Valley often over the last two decades, and still the list of wineries I have yet to visit, that I want to visit, seems bottomless. Okay well perhaps not bottomless, but there sure are quite a few places I have yet to make it to. Every trip out in addition to recommendations and spots I stumble on I do my best to cross a few off the master list in my mind, of producers I need to visit. One that has been rumbling around in my mind for some time is Smith-Madrone. They’re a Spring Mountain producer that has been around since 1971

While I had tasted their wine a few times over the years my knowledge of Smith-Madrone was largely by reputation. So when I arrived at their property with a couple of friends I was a sponge ready to soak in whatever I could about them. Visiting on Spring Mountain is always particularly exciting to me. It’s off the beaten path and lots of folks don’t make it up there, so it seems a little like a secret wine mission. Once there we were greeted by Stu Smith, half of the Smith brother’s team at the helm of the winery.

Stu took us on a tour of their vineyards and taught us a lot about their property as well as things in Napa I wasn’t aware of. One example was the political struggle in the valley faced by mountain vineyards when compared to the folks on the valley floor. It was pretty fascinating to hear especially from a guy like Stu who is incredibly passionate, well spoken and unfiltered in the best way possible.

The Smith-Madrone portfolio includes Chardonnay, Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon. At one time they also made Pinot Noir. Touring their vineyards it was instructive to note the diversity in their topography, spacing, and training. Some of their blocks are being replanted so it was informative to see the plantings that dated back to the early days of the winery versus the current plantings as well as those in between.

After a fun, informative and sometimes rollicking ride through the vineyard with Stu as our guide we made our way back to the winery itself. It was at this point that we met his brother Charles. While they both seem pretty involved in every aspect of the operation Charles leans towards the winemaking side and Stu towards the vineyard management side.

Tasting through the wines was as much of a revelation as the vineyard tour. Between current vintages, prior vintages and barrel samples we were fortunate enough to taste a few examples of each of their three releases. I didn’t make formal note so I can’t go into great detail about each wine. However as a whole they were impressive. The Chardonnays were really clean and full of fruit. The older of the two (2007 I believe) we tasted from bottle was a bit leaner and had more mineral notes than its younger brother. The Rieslings also featured pure expressions of fruit. There was an impression of sweetness, though they were in fact quite beautifully dry. The Cabernets were simply a knockout. Of the ones we sampled the 2004 was probably my favorite. I have found that when they’re well made, wines that emanate from mountain fruit often show off a pure and intense expression of flavor that is unique. This was the case with the Smith-Madrone Cabernets. They are fruit driven and intense without being fruity and over the top. They are powerful and at the same time elegant and refined. I enjoyed all three varietals quite a bit as they are well made, correct expressions of the grape in question. However the Cabernets for me (at least on the day I tasted them) were just a notch above the Riesling and Chardonnay. Though I’d happily drink any of them.

Before the end of our visit we enjoyed a casual picnic lunch overlooking their vineyards at a table right outside their barrel room. The lively banter we all enjoyed about the world of wine in general was a lot of fun. It also gave me a window into Charles and Stu’s thoughts about some wines outside of their own. Most important to me tough was to have their wine alongside some food. As delicious as they were on their own, having them with a picnic lunch enhanced the experience, which is as it should be with wine in my opinion. Much sooner than I wanted to we had to say goodbye to Charles and Stu so we could make it to another appointment on time. While this was my first visit to Smith-Madrone, it certainly won’t be my last. Their open and gregarious nature, desire to share their vineyards and wines are refreshing and reason enough to visit. Of course the wines themselves makes a pretty strong argument as well. When you mix well made wine, with lovely people you have a sure fire winner in my book. Smith-Madrone is a winery I wish I’d visited sooner and one that it’s well worth your time to make an appointment to visit. When your trip to wine country is over it’s sure to be one of the spots you spend a lot of time talking about.

Photos by David Vermeire

Posted in Wine, Winery Visit | Leave a Comment »

Visiting Jordan Winery In Alexander Valley

Posted by Gabe on May 6, 2010

Last week I had the opportunity to tour Jordan Vineyards & Winery, as well as taste their wines. While I had been there once in the past, it had been a number of years, so I was eager to see what if anything had changed in the ensuing years.

Jordan Winery is a classic Sonoma County Estate, both because of their facility and the wines they produce. In a world where many producers have an ever increasing roster of wines, Jordan has remained hyper-focused on two things; Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. If you’re going to train the laser so closely on two varietals, it’s a very good idea to get those wines right.

I had the fortune of being an overnight guest on the Jordan property. That allowed me to really take things in and spend quite a number of hours just thinking about them and their wines. In my time there I had the opportunity to taste through several vintages each of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. I didn’t make formal notes, but my general impressions are included here.

At one time the Chardonnay was taken from their home estate in Alexander Valley. That’s no longer the case as they now source fruit under long term contracts from growers in the Russian River Valley. In tasting through the 2005, 2007 & 2008 vintages of Chardonnay the overall quality of the wine was obvious. There was a clear consistency in style, yet obvious vintage variation that allowed each wine to speak on its own. Most impressive to me was the 2005. Not that it was significantly better than the other two. In fact it would be tough to distinguish between the three as far as general quality goes. What knocked me out was how fresh, vital and full of fruit the 2005 still was. At 5 years old it showed no sign of letting up and I’d be surprised if it doesn’t drink well for several more years. Certainly the younger wines were even fresher and showed off a bit more bold fruit, with the 2005 featuring more mineral characteristics. Looking forward they all seem headed down the same delicious and long lived path.

The story with the Cabernet Sauvignon was similar. The older vintage of that wine I had the chance to taste was the 2000. It also displayed much more vibrant fruit than I would have expected at this point. I was particularly impressed with the holding power of this wine when taking into account all the 2000 Cabernet Sauvignons from both Sonoma and Napa Valley that are unimpressive. That wine goes a long way towards supporting the axiom that great winemakers shine in tough vintages. Rob Davis who has been at Jordan since the beginning has done an impressive job of helming these wines over the years without getting complacent. The Cabernet Sauvignon program has also had some changes over the last few years. At one time all the fruit was from their Estate. They now source some fruit from other growers. Mendocino is one of the notable locations they go to for outside fruit. Their goal is to make the best wine possible and if that includes some fruit sourcing that’s the direction they take. The more current releases of Cabernet Sauvignon I tasted again showed consistency of quality as well overall style. Despite being located in Alexander Valley Jordan is very much making wines that take old world styling into account. Balance and longevity are both big parts of the program.

The inside and outside of the Jordan Winery facility are beautiful and each has a charm that makes it seem it’s been there much longer than the 30+ years it has been. Touring the property is a revelation. It’s hard to properly describe how mammoth it is in size and scope. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than that is the shear beauty on display. Many wineries are almost all vineyard. This isn’t a surprise when you take into account the cost of acreage. Jordan has its vineyards of course, but they’re surrounded by acres and acres of unspoiled land.

Often times when I reach for a bottle of wine I go for the new and unknown. That can be fun and exciting. If you want a sure bet though Jordan Winery is a great go to choice. They continue to bring an excellent product to market almost four decades into their existence. Many producers with similarly big reputations have gotten apathetic and rested on their laurels. To the contrary it’s clear to me that Jordan keeps reaching for the brass ring. They respect their own past, but they constantly strive to tweak their present, on a constant drive for perfection. So if you’re reaching for Alexander Valley Cabernet or Chardonnay these folks are worth the time and the money. If you’re going to taste wine in Alexander Valley, it’s worth making an appointment. Their staff is filled with friendly people loaded with information about their winery. The photos below will give you a hint about the beauty that awaits you if you visit.

Photos by David Vermeire

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Wine, Winery Visit | 1 Comment »

Parducci – 2008 Sustainable White / 2006 Sustainable Red

Posted by Gabe on May 4, 2010

Parducci Wine Cellars has been making dependable and affordable wines for quite a few years now. This Mendocino producer is both sustainably farmed and carbon neutral. For me the first varietal that comes to mind with Parducci is Petite Sirah, but they have a range of selections. Today I’ll look at two current release blends.

The 2008 Sustainable White is a blend of Chenin Blanc (41.5%), Sauvignon Blanc (38%), Viognier (12%), Muscat Canelli (7.5%) and Friulano (1%). 9,000 cases of this offering were produced and the suggested retail price is $10.99.

Fresh fruit aromas fill the nose of this 2008 blend; Lychee fruit is prominent with vanilla bean underscoring it. Hints of tangerine and mango come through in the palate along with gentle wisps of cantaloupe. The finish is spicy and lovely with sufficient length. This wine is balanced by good acidity and is perfectly suited to pair with food.

The 2006 Sustainable Red is a blend of Zinfandel (39%), Syrah (26%), Cabernet Sauvignon (23%) and Carignane (12%).This offering was aged over 26 months in a combination of oak barrels and neutral redwood tanks. 9,000 cases of this wine were produced and the suggested retail price is $10.99.

The nose of Sustainable Red is filled with red raspberry notes. Vanilla and thyme player a smaller but still decent sized role. The palate shows off a medley of dry fruit flavors. Cranberry, sour black cherry, strawberry and blackberry are all part of things. Hints of rhubarb emerge on the finish along with black pepper. This wine is even keeled with good acidity. As with the white blend this is tailor made for food. What’s particularly impressive is that none of the varietals shine above the rest. They’re seamlessly joined together to form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Both of these wines from Parducci are really nice values. They’re each meant to pair with food though the white in particular also drinks well on its own. For just about $10 these are interesting selections, made with care and a conscience that you won’t mind opening on a Tuesday night with a slice of pizza or Chinese takeout.

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Posted in Blends, Wine | 1 Comment »


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