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Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

Archive for July, 2010

V. Sattui Winery – 2007 Vittorio’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted by Gabe on July 28, 2010

When you visit any wine region there are certain stops that become classics for one reason or another. In Napa Valley, V. Sattui Winery is one of those places that people return to again and again. In addition to some tasty wines they welcome large groups and have a diverse deli section available to pick up cheeses and other snack foods. They offer picnicking on their grounds and a wide variety of wine tasting options. In short V. Sattui is an incredibly warm and welcoming place to visit. V. Sattui’s history goes back 125 years. It has been in place at its current St. Helena location since 1975. To this day it’s a family owned and run winery. Today I’ll look at one of their single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons.

The V. Sattui Winery 2007 Vittorio’s Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon was produced using Napa Valley fruit exclusively sourced at the namesake vineyard. In addition to Caberet a small dollop of Merlot (less than 3%) is part of this wine. Fermentation occurred in stainless steel. The wine was all barrel aged in French oak; half of the barrels were new and the other half were previously used. 931 cases of this selection were produced and the price for this wine is $35.

Leather, dark berry and plum aromas fill the nose of this 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Fleshy dark fruit and sweet red berry notes intermingle through the palate which is intense, layered. Full flavored and very well proportioned. Earth, pencil lead, baker’s chocolate, chicory and mineral characteristics all emerge on the finish which is rather lengthy. Solid acidity and finely ground but yielding tannins are part of the solid backbone of this offering.

This Cabernet is a little tight out of the bottle, but about 45 minutes of air in the decanter really allows this wine to blossom and express its many charms. This selection is really quite tasty now but it’ll improve in the bottle over the next few years and drink well for the next 6-8 at minimum. A classic example of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and a solid value to boot

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Boutari – 2009 Santorini

Posted by Gabe on July 26, 2010

I recently had the opportunity to attend a tasting of Greek Wines in several different settings. Essentially it was an all day event that taught many of the attendees a lot about the wines emanating from Greece. In addition to being able to experience a broad selection of wines, I experienced a number of indigenous varietals for the first time and was generally impressed by the overall quality level. One thing stood out for me above everything else though. The wines from Santorini, which is an Island in Greece, were the ones that really struck the biggest chord with me. Today I’ll look at a Santorini wine from Boutari.

The Boutari 2009 Santorini was produced from the Assyrtiko grape. This offering is 100% varietal. The vines on Santorini are considered to be amongst the very oldest in the world. This varietal is found in some other spots but is really known for being grown on Santorini. This wine sells for around $18.

Citrus aromas emerge in the nose of this wine along with a touch of white pepper. Lemon Zest and orange blossom are prominent throughout the full flavored palate along with apple and orchard fruit in general. Mineral notes and increasing spice characteristics mark the finish of this wine. This offering has crisp acidity and a mouthwatering quality that beckons you back to the glass for more.

This offering is a perfect choice to drink when you’re sitting on your deck on a beautiful summer day enjoying the terrific weather. That said it pairs very well with lighter foods. I found it to be particularly compelling when tasted alongside marinated, grilled chicken. The overall intensity of flavors on the palate along with the distinct layers of complexity present is what most impressed me. If you’re stuck in a white wine rut drinking the same old varietals over and over again, here’s a selection that will help break you out of that vicious cycle.

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Masi Agricola – 2009 Masianco / 2006 Campofiorin

Posted by Gabe on July 19, 2010

Today I’ll look at a couple of wines from Italian producer Masi Agricola. If the name sounds familiar that’s no surprise as they’ve been around quite awhile. It’s likely you’ll recognize their labels too. With some wineries or brands their ubiquity on shelves isn’t necessarily a good sign. Not so with Masi Agricola, they have been a quality producer of Venetian Wines for several hundred years. Like many people I first became aware of them as a producer of Amarone. I’ll be looking at one of those in the next few weeks. Today the focus is on two other wines in their portfolio.

First up is the Masi 2009 Masianco. Fruit for this offering was sourced in at the Stra Del Milione at Castions di Strada in Friuli. This wine is primarily Pinot Grigio (25%), with Verduzzo (25%) also blended in. Each varietal is picked, fermented and aged separately. It’s blended together prior to bottling. The suggested retail price for this wins is $18.

Lemon ice with an undercurrent of vanilla both emerge in the fresh, vibrant nose of this 2009 wine. The lemon theme continues through the palate where it’s accompanied by other citrus elements as well as tropical fruit such as pineapple and a gentle wisp of mango. Minerals and spice emerge on the finish which is impressively lengthy, layered and marked by crisp and savory fruit. Those flavors come together to form a thirst quenching and mouth watering wine. This selection is quite lovely on it’s own, but truly shines when paired with lighter bodied foods.

The next wine is the Masi 2006 Campofiorin. The fruit for this offering comes from vineyards in the hills of Verona. This selection is a blend of Corvina (70%), Rondinella (25%), and Molinara (5%). 25% of the grapes are dried for 6 weeks and then fermented with the fresh grapes that have already undergone their own fermentation. This wine sees 18 months in oak. 2006 represents the 36th vintage of this particular bottling. The suggested retail price for this wine is $20.

The nose of this 2006 red blend shows off dried red fruits, violet and lavender aromas. The dried fruit characteristics continue on the palate where they become plush and velvety. Cherry plays a lead role and some darker notes creep in as well along with a range of spices such as pepper, vanilla and hints of clove. Earth and dark, dusty baker’s chocolate flavors all emerge in the finish. Fine acidity keeps this wine perfectly balanced. This offering really works best when paired with food. Hard cheeses, pasta with red sauce and a charcuterie plate would each work perfectly.

Both of these wines from Masi Agricola represent excellent values in their categories. In each case they over deliver quality and complexity at a price many wine lovers can afford on a regular basis. Their long history and wide availability means you should have no trouble finding these wines.

Posted in Blends, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Valentin Bianchi – 2009 Elsa Torrontés / Trapiche – 2009 Torrontés

Posted by Gabe on July 16, 2010

In addition to Rosé, warm weather has me longing for white wines more and more often. One of the white varietals I reach for a lot in the summer in Torrontés. In case you’re unfamiliar it’s the signature white grape of Argentina. Over the last handful of years it’s starting to make serious inroads on US shelves, both in stores and in consumer’s homes. Its appealing nature, when well made, assures it won’t spend to long on your wine rack once you do get it home. I tasted quite a few examples of this grape over the last week; here are two that I found particularly appealing.

First is the 2009 Elsa Torrontés from Valentin Bianchi. Grapes for this selection were sourced from the Dona Elsa Estate vineyards which sit about 760 meters above sea level. This selection is 100% Torrontés. Fermentation occurred over 10 days in temperature controlled stainless steel. 2,000 cases of this offering were imported and the suggested retail price is $8.99.

Hazelnut, orange and Golden Delicious apple aromas waft invitingly from the powerful nose of this 2009 Torrontés. Throughout the palate, citrus and tropical fruit flavors spar with each other for dominance. Ultimately they work together to form a tasty core of flavors. Towards the finish the fruit flavors take on a savory bite which leads to a solid quantity of spice as well. Firm acidity keeps things in balance here.

The second selection that stood out was the Trapiche 2009 Torrontés. This offering is also 100% Torrontés. Fermentation took place over 21 days at controlled temperatures in stainless steel. Fining and filtering followed prior to bottling. The suggested retail price for this wine is approximately $7.99.

Aromas of lychee fruit, hibiscus and apple are all part of the lovely and fresh nose of this wine. Lychee which plays a major role here continues through the palate where it’s joined by copious amounts of citrus and an underlying layer of tropical fruit flavors. Hints of honey as well as almond emerge on the finish along with white pepper and wisps of vanilla. This is a crisp, dry, mouthwatering wine.

Both of these wines are fine examples of Torrontés. Each of them is well priced for everyday drinking. Pair them with light summer fair, spicy food or drink them on their own. They’re fresh, lively and provide a lot of drinking pleasure for a very modest price.

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La Scolca – 2009 Rosa Chiara Rosato

Posted by Gabe on July 15, 2010

Hot and sometimes scorching weather as well as high humidity on the east coast the last few weeks has had me reaching for Rosé’s to sample more often than usual. La Scolca in Piedmont sits on a 62 acre estate. Their winemaking tradition dates back over 90 years when they started making Gavi. That region was granted DOC status in 1974, followed by DOCG in 1998. Today I’ll look at their current release of Rosé.

The La Scolca 2009 Rosa Chiara Rosato was produced from fruit sourced in the Piedmont region of Italy. In addition to local standby Cortese (95%), a small amount of Pinot Noir (5%) was blended in. This wine was fermented in stainless steel and had minimal skin contact to extract sufficient color. The suggested retail price for this wine is $16.

A bright, effusive nose is lead by read cherry in droves and followed by wisps of jalapeno. Strawberry, continued cherry, spice and a dollop of crème fraiche are all present throughout the palate of this dry Rosé along with vibrant Red Delicious Apple notes. The savory leaning trio of sour cherry, pomegranate and cranberry mark the finish. This wine is both crisp and refreshing and it shows off solid acidity.

This 2009 wine is a fine example of the types and styles of Rosé typical to Piedmont. This is a good choice to either sip by itself on a hot summer day or pair with lighter foods. In either case you’ll find it to be fresh, delicious and quite inviting. If you’re planning an outdoor event this summer, here is an offering you’ll want to consider chilling down to satisfy the masses.

Posted in Cortese, Rosé, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Emblem – 2006 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon / 2006 Oso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted by Gabe on July 6, 2010

If you spend any time at all tasting wine in Napa Valley some things become pretty apparent quickly. One of those things is the prevalence of Cabernet Sauvignon. You’d be hard pressed to spend a day in Napa and not taste a solid handful of different cabs; if not a ton of them. The dominance of Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa is such that when I run across the occasional producer who doesn’t make one it almost makes my head turn askew. Not that I’m complaining; I love excellent Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley is home to some of the best examples in the world. Today I’ll take a look at two from Emblem. This Napa Valley producer is a project of father and son team Michael and Rob Mondavi.

The Emblem 2006 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from grapes sourced at a single vineyard. This Rutherford vineyard sits east of the Napa River. This offering is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Grapes were hand harvested. Extended maceration occurred over an average of 21 to 28 days. Barrel aging was accomplished over 22 months in French oak; 66% of the barrels were new. 6 months of bottle aging occurred prior to release. The suggested retail price for this wine is $50.

A host of berry aromas, violets and thyme are prominent in the alluring nose of this 2006 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate, which is slightly austere, shows off dark berry notes which are underscored by hints of espresso and black pepper. Earth, pencil lead, and dark bittersweet chocolate notes are part of the above average finish. Firm but yielding tannins and solid acidity mark the fine structure.

The second offering is the Emblem 2006 Oso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit for this selection was soured entirely from the family vineyard of same name. This selection is 100% varietal. Hand harvesting, de-stemming, gentle punch down and cap submersion were followed by 21 to 28 days of maceration. Barrel aging took place over 22 months in French oak; 45% of the barrels were new. 6 months of bottle aging followed prior to release. This Cabernet has a suggested retail price of $50.

Eucalyptus and dried berry aromas lead the nose of the Oso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. There is an excellent core of dried fruits throughout the palate. Red raspberry, cherry and cranberry are particular standouts with subtler strawberry and blackberry notes kicking in as well. Minerals, mocha, espresso, chicory and earth are all part of the lengthy finish of this wine. Soft, finely knit tannins and terrific acidity are part of the impressive package here.

Both of these wines from Emblem are excellent expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon. What impresses me most about each of them is the remarkable balance and even keeled nature they show while maintaining length and intensity of flavor. These are Napa wines to be sure but they have old world intent and proportion. They’re both delicious now and each has the structure to age well, over the next decade.

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Jaboulet – 2009 Côtes du Rhône’ Parallèle 45′ Rosé

Posted by Gabe on July 2, 2010

With the summer in full gear and 4th of July upon us, we’re right in the middle of Rosé season. These days there are excellent versions coming from most of the world’s major wine producing regions. That aside for a moment, there is something to be said for how seriously Rosé is treated in France. Their love affair with Rosé goes back generations. Thankfully we’re starting to catch up in the US. Today I’ll look at current release from Paul Jaboulet.

The Jaboulet 2009 Côtes du Rhône’ Parallèle 45′ Rosé is made from grapes sourced in vineyards located on the 45h latitude; thus the name. The vines have 25 years of age on them. This offering is a blend of Grenache (50%), Cinsault (40%), and Syrah (10%). This Rosé was produced using the Saignée method. The wine was then aged for a brief period in temperature controlled tanks prior to bottling. This selection has a suggested retail price of $12.

This wine has a gorgeous pale pink hue. Wild strawberry and red Bing cherry aromas are on display in the nose. Red fruits are the star of the show throughout the palate. Cherry, raspberry and strawberry are all present. Hints of passion fruit play a smaller role here, along with spice reference points. The finish brings out savory fruit along with mineral and additional spice notes; nutmeg and white peppercorn to name a few. This wine is crisp and clean with solid acidity.

There is a great deal to like about this 2009 Rosé. First and foremost it’s very refreshing and delicious. For $12 (less if you shop wisely) there is excellent value to be had here. A great wine to keep chilled in your refrigerator all summer long. It’ll pair perfectly with traditional picnic foods.

Posted in Rosé, Wine | Leave a Comment »


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