Posted by Gabe on March 28, 2011
The Luigi Bosca 2008 Pinot Noir Reserva was produced from fruit sourced at the El Paraiso Vineyard in the Mendoza region of Argentina. The vines have 45 years of age on them and sit more than 2,500 feet above sea level. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Barrel aging followed over an eight month period in once used French oak. This offering is 100% Pinot Noir and it has a suggested retail price of $20.99.
Wild strawberries, rose petals and mushroom aromas are on display in the nose of this 2008 South American Pinot Noir. Loads of cherry flavors show themselves on the palate along with raspberry and copious spice notes. The palate is deeply layered with gentle, complex flavors that emerge in wave after wave. Cranberry, rhubarb, pepper spice and little bits of earth are present in the finish which has good persistence. Fine acidity keeps this wine nicely balanced.
Pinot Noir from South America has been coming on strong over the last few years. This Argentine example from Luigi Bosca is a lovely showcase of how far they’ve come with this great varietal. If you shop around you’ll find this wine for less than $20 and it’s a really nice value. It’s loaded with varietal character, complexity and just sheer drinkability. If you love Pinot Noir, South American examples should be on your radar, this release from Luigi Bosca is a good place to
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Posted by Gabe on March 27, 2011
I don’t need an excuse to drink Sparkling Wine, but warm weather certainly gets me to think about it more often. And when I’m thinking about a specific type or style of wine that means I’m much more likely to reach for it as well. Casual warm weather gatherings call for something fun. And fun is definitely one of the words I associate with Prosecco. Today I’ll look at a Prosecco from the Veneto that is perfectly primed for warm weather drinking.
The Villa Sandi Prosecco “Il Fresco” Spumante DOC Brut Treviso was produced using fruit sourced in Italy’s Veneto region. This offering is 100% Prosecco. After pressing and racking the wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Secondary fermentation with select yeasts occurs at approximately 15 degrees Celsius. Once fermentation is stopped and the wine has had time to settle it’s bottled. This offering has a suggested retail price of $12.99.
Citrus and melon aromas fill the nose of this Prosecco along with bits of orchard fruit and a touch of vanilla bean. The palate shows some hints of flaky biscuit and brioche along with apple notes and a touch of yeast. This finish has good length with crisp acidity. A touch of cream closes things out.
This is a nice Prosecco for the price point. It’s a delicious wine to drink on its own or to pair with light foods. It’s a perfect choice for a warm weather brunch. This wine is refreshing and for its reasonable price point most can afford to drink it regularly. I suggest doing precisely that.
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Posted by Gabe on March 26, 2011
You always remember your first time. For me the first time I visited Mendocino County I had the pleasure of not only visiting Paul Dolan’s vineyards but spending some time with Paul as well. His reputation as a leader in Organic and Biodynamic practices precedes him and well it should. He’s done as much to champion these movements in California as anyone. The results speak for themselves with his wines. Today I’ll be looking at the current release of Sauvignon Blanc.
The Paul Dolan Vineyards 2009 Sauvignon Blanc was produced exclusively using certified organically grown grapes. All of the fruit for this wine was sourced in Mendocino County. Both fermentation and aging of this wine took place in stainless steel. Just over 4,000 cases of this Sauvignon Blanc were bottled in the 2009 vintage. It has a suggested retail price of $17.99.
Aromas of lemon zest and grapefruit lead the nose. Hints of vanilla bean and green grass chip in to lesser but still significant degrees. All of those characteristics reverberate on the palate which is particularly loaded with both citrus and tropical fruit flavors. A hint of orange water emerges at the back of the palate and leads to the finish which shows off nice spice characteristics; white pepper and vanilla bean in particular. This wine is clean and crisp with bright, refreshing acidity playing a vital role.
Taken as a whole the Paul Dolan Vineyards wines express a purity of fruit that’s likely to knock your socks off with freshness and vitality, particularly if you haven’t had them yet. This Sauvignon Blanc, for my money, is the best one coming out of Mendocino County. It expresses its sense of place beautifully, tastes as it should like Sauvignon Blanc, and it’s a very good value. With 4,000 cases in the marketplace you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it. I suggest you get some and experience the promise of Organic Mendocino fruit for yourself.
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Posted by Gabe on March 25, 2011
As I continue to take an occasional look at Malbec this spring it’s time to shift away from Argentina for a moment. There’s no question that Malbec really thrives there and many fine examples exist. However you can usually find a little bit of Malbec wherever Cabernet Sauvignon and the other Bordeaux varietals are grown. The trouble is outside of Argentina not many folks are bottling it as a single varietal. It’s too bad because the ones crafted with care often make for interesting wines. Today I’ll look at a current release of California Malbec from Alexander Valley’s deLorimer Winery.
The deLorimer Winery 2006 Malbec was produced from fruit sourced in Alexander Valley. The vineyard site sits more than 300 feet above sea level and it was planted in 1985. This offering is 100% Malbec. Fruit was handpicked and barrel aging took place in French oak over a period of 30 months. 400 cases of this Malbec were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $24.
The unmistakable deep, dark hue of Malbec is immediately striking. Black mission fig aromas lead the nose of this wine and are joined by little bits of vanilla bean and toasty oak. Rich, ripe, dark berry fruit is present in copious quantities throughout the palate. Black pepper and nutmeg play key roles as well. Rhubarb, cranberry and earth all emerge on the finish which shows significant length. This Malbec has firm tannins and excellent acidity.
This wine is pretty nice on its own, but it’s really primed to pair with food. Roasted meats will work particularly well. This is a really well balanced wine that will age gracefully over the next 6-8 years. That said it’s delicious now and there’s no particular reason to wait on this one. It may not be from Argentina, but it is a very fine example of Malbec.
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Posted by Gabe on March 24, 2011
Cabernet Sauvignon is a variety that flourishes in a huge number of appellations throughout the world. It’s also made in an even wider range of styles and with varying intent. The prices can range from dirt cheap to astronomical. Today I’ll look at a budget priced version from Mendocino County Pioneers Parducci Wine Cellars.
The Parducci Wine Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon was produced using fruit sourced at family farms throughout Mendocino County. Parducci has long championed sustainable farming and green power. They were the first producer in the US to become carbon neutral. This wine was aged for 26 months; 20% in new American oak and the balance in a combination of Redwood and stainless steel tanks. 5,000 cases of this vintage were bottled and it has a suggested retail price of $10.99.
Aromas of plum, raspberry, violet and hints of toast light up the nose of this 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Flavors of dried cherries are complemented by a spice core through the palate of this wine. Earth, cranberry, nutmeg and white pepper are each apparent on the finish. This wine has soft, supple tannins and fine acidity.
This Cabernet Sauvignon is a good value. It’s not the most complex Cab out there, but for under $11 it’s not expected to be. This is an appealing wine that shows good fruit, will marry with red sauces, cheeses, sandwiches, you name it. And most importantly it tastes like what it should, Cabernet Sauvignon. If you shop around this wine is often available for under $10. For that price this is a solid bet as a case buy. Keep it around as a house wine and drink it over the next 2-3 years.
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Posted by Gabe on March 23, 2011
Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the two varieties I personally associate with the Santa Cruz Mountains more than any other. A host of other varietals flourish there, but the two stars of Burgundy seem to benefit the most from the unique terroir up there. Today I’ll look at a current release Chardonnay from Cinnabar Winery.
The Cinnabar Winery 2007 Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay was produced using fruit sourced at two vineyard sites. The two sites sit 1,400 and 2,000 feet above sea level respectively. These vineyards were selected because they’re distinct from each other in a variety of ways. This offering is 100% Chardonnay. The fruit was all fermented in barrel. 80% of it underwent malolactic fermentation. Barrel aging occurred in French oak; 20% of the barrels were new. 300 cases of this wine were produced in the 2007 vintage. It has a suggested retail price of $29
The golden yellow hue of this Chardonnay is immediately striking and impossible to miss. An intoxicating mix of tropical and orchard fruit aromas fill the nose of this Chardonnay. Lots of apple, pear and a bit of papaya show on the palate along with baker’s spices. Apple pie crust and hints of crème brulee lead the finish which has good length and persistence. Spice notes in droves and gentle wisps of mineral, are the lasting impression from this wine which linger after the final sip has disappeared from your lips.
This is a fine example of Chardonnay. It has a purity of fruit that exemplifies the lovely wines emerging from many producers in Santa Cruz. I should also note that the use of oak on this selection was definitely judicious. It makes its presence known, but only enough to enhance all the glorious fruit. If you’re a fan of balanced California Chardonnay that showcases the fruit above all else, this wine should be on your short list.
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Posted by Gabe on March 22, 2011
When it comes to Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley is one of a small handful of places within California that it truly thrives. More regions than should, grow it and a few others also allow it to properly prosper. Davis Bynum Winery has been making Pinot from Russian River Valley fruit for close to 40 years. A couple of years ago they became part of the Rodney Strong family of properties. Considering how consistent they’ve been, the Davis Bynum tradition is in capable and trustworthy hands. Today I’ll look at their most recent release of Pinot Noir.
The Davis Bynum 2009 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was produced from several select vineyards throughout the valley. This offering is 100% Pinot Noir. After fermentation barrel aging followed for 15 months in all French oak. 5,000 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $35.
Black cherry, leather and sandalwood aromas fill the appealing nose of this 2009 Pinot Noir. Cherry, mushrooms, spice and hints of barnyard lead the palate. The story of this wine is elegance laced with precise intensity. Black Cherry fruit is in command here with flashes of red cherry and hints of wild strawberry popping in from time to time. Earth, rhubarb, sour black cherry, pomegranate and a touch of toasty oak are all part of the lengthy finish that also shows off an impressive core of spices that reverberate persistently after the last sip is swallowed.
On the one hand this wine has been of consistent quality over the last few vintages. On the other, the 2009 is an even more impressive expression of excellent Russian River Pinot Noir than the last couple. The bottom line though is that in a world where Pinot prices are sometimes out of control, this selection is a terrific value.
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Posted by Gabe on March 21, 2011
Hugel et Fils is a name that should be very familiar to US wine lovers. Their offerings have been on our shelves for many years. At a time when there were less Alsatian wines on ours shelves then there are today they were a friendly face that provided consistent quality. Even today, when our options have increased dramatically, they’re still providing solid wines vintage after vintage at competitive prices. Today I’ll look at a trio of their current releases.
The Hugel et Fils 2007 Pinot Gris was produced using fruit sourced in Estate vineyards in Alsace. This offering is 100% Pinot Gris. Fermentation took place in a temperature controlled environment. This offering has a suggested retail price of $14.99. Aromas of dried white flowers fill the nose of this Pinot Gris along with hints of tangerine and orchard fruits. Golden Delicious apples are prominent on the palate and accompanied by lemon ice. Nutmeg, tart green apple, white pepper and a hint of cream are all part of the finish which shows off good length. This wine has an elegance that belies its price-point and that’s particularly evidenced by the balance and proportion it shows off. The juicy fruit flavors that fill your mouth when you taste this are balanced by solid acid and a crisp finish.
The Hugel et Fils 2009 Riesling Classic was produced from fruit sourced at Estate vineyards and parcels of land under long term contracts. All of the fruit is from vines surrounding the village of Riquewihr in Alsace. This selection is 100% Riesling. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled vats. This wine has a suggested retail price of $24.99. Apple and grapefruit aromas emerge from the nose of this Riesling. The palate shows off Asian pear, peach and continued citrus notes. Granny Smith apple emerges on the finish along with minerals and a solid spice component. Overall this wine is lean and slightly austere. It’s a lovely wine that most importantly shows off good varietal character. Personally I would most often serve this a welcome wine when guests arrive.
The Hugel et Fils 2008 Gewürztraminer was made from fruit sourced at Estate vineyards in Alsace. The fruit is hand picked and transported to the winery in small vats. This selection is 100% Gewürztraminer. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled barrels. Filtering occured just prior to bottling. This wine has a suggested retail price of $24. Lychee Fruit, apricot and hazelnut aromas each emerge prominently from the engaging nose of this 2008 Gewürztraminer. White cling peach, apricot, and nectarine are part of an explosion of stone fruits that dominate the palate of this offering. All of those rich, beguiling fruit flavors give the impression of sweetness, but this is a perfectly dry wine. Hints of tropical fruit and spices kick in as well. They lead to the finish which shows off fleshy white plum, citrus and continued wallops of spice. This wine has a long, lingering finish whose flavors persist on your tongue well after the last sip is gone. This is a really terrific example of Gewürztraminer. It’ll pair well with a wide array of foods, but is incredibly engaging and delicious all by itself.
This trio of wines represents a look at three distinct varietals that flourish in Alsace. Their flavor profiles vary greatly as do the situations they will each perform best in. While each of them represents a well made wine and a solid value the Gewürztraminer is my favorite from this trio. It’s the one I couldn’t stop drinking. Hugel et Fils continues to turn out classically styled wines from Alsace at reasonable prices. They’re also widely available across the country. These are all reasons to look to them as one of your go to producers for Alsatian wines.
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Posted by Gabe on March 20, 2011
One of the great things about Malbec is that you can often get a reasonable example of it for a pretty decent price. Like everything else though there are also Malbecs at higher than entry level price points. In fact these days a good wine shop stocks Malbecs at almost any conceivable price. Today I’m going to look at a single vineyard effort that falls into the super premium category.
The Trapiche 2007 Icons Malbec Vina Adolfo Ahumada is a single vineyard effort. All of the fruit for this wine was sourced at the La Patria vineyard. These vines sit close to 1,100 meters above sea level in the Mendoza region of Argentina. This offering is 100% Malbec. This wine was aged over 18 months in French oak. It has a suggested retail price of $55.
Boysenberry, black raspberry and spice box aromas fill the nose of this 2007 single vineyard Malbec. Blackberry and cherry flavors dominate the palate which is loaded with lots of fresh, ripe, rich, appealing dark berry fruit. An undercurrent of spice is present as well and leads to the finish. Pencil lead, espresso, earth, black pepper, nutmeg, clove, and pomegranate are all part of the finish along with lots of crushed cherry. The final notes linger persistently for an impressive overall finish. This wine has terrific structure and features firm tannins and solid acidity.
If you’re going to drink this Malbec over the next couple of years, it’s wise to decant it. It’s tight out the bottle right now and an hour or so really allows it to open up and express itself. However you could just as easily lay this down for 4-6 years and drink it in the 4-6 after that. Time will treat this wine well. This is an impressive Malbec worth every penny of its suggested retail price. A good wine to taste if you want to see the heights Malbec can achieve.
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Posted by Gabe on March 19, 2011
Truth be told I’ve had a rocky relationship with Chardonnay over the years. Some would say it’s love / hate. In theory I love Chardonnay. Certainly the grape itself is one of the stone cold classics; the most revered of varieties in many circles. And when Chardonnay is made in a style true to its roots and its natural essence I’m on board. Sometimes though the grape is bastardized with absurd amounts of oak, to the point that the wine in question becomes a testament to wood, not grapes; thankfully that trend seems to have lessened over the last few years. Today I’ll look at a Chardonnay firm Burgundy, a place that more often than not has treated Chardonnay with the kid gloves it deserves to achieve greatness.
The Maison Vincent 2009 J.J. Bourgogne Blanc was produced from fruit sourced in southern Burgundy. This offering is 100% Chardonnay. This wine was vinified in a combination of stainless steel (67%) and French oak (33%). This selection has a suggested retail price of $18.
Fresh orchard fruit aromas and hints of biscuit emerge from this nose of this 2009 Chardonnay. Both apple and pear continue on the palate and they’re accompanied by bits of Meyer lemon and white pepper. Minerals lead the finish along with tart apple, a touch of vanilla bean and a mélange of citrus flavors. This wine is crisp and refreshing with zingy acidity.
This is a really nice example of Chardonnay and it’s also a good value for its price-point. The use of oak on this wine was judicious and it adds to the overall complexity and layers of flavors. The firm acidity helps lend this wine to being a natural partner for lighter foods.
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