Posted by Gabe on July 27, 2011
The Francis Ford Coppola 2009 Chardonnay was produced using fruit sourced in Mendocino and Monterey. This offering is 100% Chardonnay. This selection didn’t undergo malolactic fermentation and also didn’t receive any oak treatment. The Coppola Chardonnay is a widely available wine that’s finished in screw cap and has a suggested retail price of $11.
Golden delicious apple aromas are joined by nutmeg and clove on the bold, bright nose of this wine. Continued apple notes are prominent through the palate along with Bartlett and Asian pear flavors. Tropical fruits such as mango and papaya are present as well. Vanilla bean, white pepper and apple pie spices all emerge on the finish which has good length. This is a balanced, fruity bargain of a California Chardonnay. For right around $10 this represents a really nice value. It has plenty of varietal character and will pair well with a wide array of foods.
The Francis Ford Coppola 2009 Claret Cabernet Sauvignon was produced using fruit sourced in Napa, Sonoma and El Dorado. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (81%), Petit Verdot (9%), Malbec (5%), Merlot (3%), and Cabernet Franc (2%) are blended in as well. This wine was aged in French oak for 15 months. It’s available nationwide, finished with natural cork and has a suggested retail price of $20.
Cherry and blueberry aromas are joined by hints of toast and vanilla on the nose of this 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. Blackberries, plum and black raspberries are all part of the palate along with a nice blast of spices and earth. Black tea, oodles of dark sweet chocolate and hints of sour black cherries all emerge on the finish. This Cabernet has soft tannins and good acidity. It’s a Cabernet that is aimed at early consumption; drink it over the next 2-4 years to take advantage of its fresh youthful flavors.
Both of these wines from the Coppola Winery are available nationwide at reasonable prices. They’re meant to be enjoyed as daily drinkers that one can afford regularly. They achieve their goal, and represent their individual varietals well in their respective categories.
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Posted by Gabe on July 25, 2011
The Trapiche 2008 Oak Cask Malbec was produced using fruit from the Mendoza region of Argentina. Some of the fruit is from estate vineyards and some from other Mendoza vineyards. This wine is 100% Malbec. Fruit was hand picked and fermented in temperature controlled vats. Each lot of wine was separately aged in a combination of French and American oak over a period of twelve months. Prior to bottling the lots are blended and undergo a light filtration. This wine sells for right around $10.
Aromas of toasty oak, vanilla bean and black cherry explode from the nose. Dark berries dominate the plate; blackberries, raspberries and black cherries all play a role. Ribbons of red fruit pass through as well and provide a nice counterpoint in flavor. Vanilla, minerals, graphite and fresh roasted espresso flavors are all part of the finish which has good length for the price point.
This Malbec from Trapiche is a terrific value in its category. It offers a bit more complexity, length and elegance than many other examples in the under $12 category. It has plenty of up front fruit but it also has balance which many examples of Malbec in this price range lack. You can certainly drink this wine on its own, but it’s particularly well suited to pair with grilled meats. Sliders, kabobs or chops would be perfect. Mushroom based dished and hard, flavorful cheeses are safe bets as well. In any case if you drink Malbec, the Oak Cask from Trapiche is one to look out for in the under $12 category.
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Posted by Gabe on July 21, 2011
There are a handful of regions in California that are particularly well suited for Zinfandel. Each of them stands apart by imparting unique character in the wines grown there. Sonoma County is particularly lucky because it has two areas that can grow exceptional Zin. Dry Creek Valley is one and the other is Russian River Valley. Pinot Noir comes to mind first for most people when it comes to Russian River Valley, but the Zinfandel is often equally compelling. Today I’ll look at one from Napa Valley’s V. Sattui that they sourced in the Russian River Valley.
The V. Sattui 2008 Gilsson Vineyard Zinfandel was produced using Russian River Valley Fruit. This is a single vineyard effort with all of the fruit coming from the namesake Gilsson vineyard. These vines were planted in the 60’s. This particular piece of property sits on the edge of Russian River Valley, right near where the Chalk Hill appellation starts. That gives it some influence from both areas. This limited production wine sells for $36.
An absolutely intoxicating nose is led by strong cherry aromas that have a hint of liqueur to them. Raspberry and cherry flavors, both red and black, are prominent throughout the palate. Sweet dark chocolate, black pepper, chicory and earth elements are all part of a long, lusty, lingering finish. The chocolate notes in particular echo on and on memorably. Well integrated tannins show necessary firmness along with terrific acidity for good overall structure.
This wine has the balance, restraint and complexity to age for a decade or more. At its core this wine is an absolutely textbook example of top notch Russian River Valley Zinfandel. The bottom line is that this Gilsson Vineyard Zinfandel from V. Sattui is a lovely wine. If you’re a Zinfandel fan, this is a fine offering, well worth your time and money.
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Posted by Gabe on July 18, 2011
The El Coto de Rioja 2010 Rioja Rosado was produced using fruit sourced at estate vineyards. El Coto which was founded in 1975 has 500 hectares under vine. This offering is a 50/50 blend of Garancha and Tempranillo. This wine sits on the skin for 48 hours followed by cold fermentation. This offering has a suggested retail price of $10.
Aromas of strawberry, cherry and watermelon burst from the nose of this 2010 Rosé. The palate is exceptionally juicy and vibrant; it’s loaded with fresh red fruits. Strawberry, cherry, raspberry and watermelon are all present. Rhubarb and sweet black cherry flavors emerge on the finish as well as white pepper. This wine is incredibly refreshing and will pair well with an incredibly wide array of foods. It’s also delicious on its own.
When it comes to Rosés for summer 2011, this example from El Coto in Rioja is going to be hard to beat for the money. If you look around you can easily find this wine for less than $10. For that price it offers lots of value. The fresh fruit flavors are sure to be crowd pleasing and the refreshing nature of this wine, which is supported by racy acidity, makes it a great bet for outdoor entertaining. Just yesterday I attended a party where I was asked to bring the wine. I brought a full case of this very Rosé and everyone was quite happy. One partygoer told me that she normally only drank Pinot Grigio but that this wine has convinced her to try other things. It only takes one terrific Rosé to convert the non-believers. Try the El Coto it may do the same for you.
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Posted by Gabe on July 16, 2011
The names Paul Dolan and Mendocino County go hand in hand. His work there with a number of producers over the years is legendary. Today he helms Paul Dolan Vineyards and is a partner in Parducci Wine Cellars. I’ll take a look today at a couple of releases from his Eponymous winery.
First up is the Paul Dolan Vineyards 2009 Zinfandel. It was produced using mostly fruit sourced at the Parducci Home Vineyard. This is a benchland vineyard. In addition to Zinfandel (99%), this wine also contains a splash of Syrah (1%). All of the fruit is 100% organic, certified by California Certified Organic Farmers. Once fermentation was completed this wine was aged in a combination of barrels and redwood tanks; 10% of the barrels were new. 2,727 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $25.
The aromas that emanate from the nose of this 2009 Zinfandel bring to mind a large bowl of fresh, fleshy dark berries and plums. Hints of bramble and earth underscore all that fresh fruit for a nice counterpoint. Sweet even keeled dark fruit flavors emerge on the palate along with plum pudding spices and a few herbaceous characteristics. Rhubarb, black pepper, vanilla bean and just a bit of jam fruit flavor are all part of the finish which has nice length.
This Zinfandel from Paul Dolan Vineyards is typical of Mendocino in that the region tends towards more classically styles Zins. By and large these wines tend to be more balanced and proportionate than Zinfandel from some other regions. This wine is just loaded with terrific Zinfandel characteristics.
The Paul Dolan Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was produced from fruit sourced at the Parducci Home Vineyard and Paul Dolan’s Dark Horse Ranch. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (97.5%), this wine contains a bit of Petit Verdot (2.5%). This wine is also made from certified organic grapes. Once fermentation was complete it was aged for 15 months in American oak; 50% of the barrels were new. 2,800 cases of this Cabernet were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $25.
Ripe berry fruit and hints of eucalyptus emerge from the nose of this 2009 Mendocino Cabernet Sauvignon. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and fleshy plum are all part of this wines palate. Toast, espresso and earth emerge on the finish along with black pepper, vanilla bean and a little tinge of kirsch. This Cabernet has firm tannins that yield with some air and solid acid structure. This is a solid Cabernet for the price. It’s not meant for long term aging but it’ll drink well over the next 6-8 years; but why wait its delicious now.
These wines are emblematic of the Paul Dolan wines at large. The releases bearing his name are jammed with pure fruit flavors, balanced so they can pair well with food and quite fairly priced in their respective categories. I honestly believe you cannot go wrong buying any wine Paul Dolan is associated with.
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Posted by Gabe on July 14, 2011
Santi has a long history in the Veneto that dates back to 1843. The Santi 2010 Soave Classico DOC “Vigneti di Monteforte” was produced using estate fruit as well as some purchased under long term contracts with neighbors throughout the region. This offering is a blend of Garganega (90%) and Trebbiano di Soave (10%). Fermentation and aging took place in stainless steel over a period of 7 months. Prior to bottling this wine undergoes a light filtration. This Soave has a suggested retail price of $16.99.
Aromas of nectarine and fleur de orange fill the enticing and lively nose of this 2010 Soave and a hint of ginger pops in as well. From the first sip this wine is juicy, refreshing and appealing with a fruity, layered mid-palate. Fleshy white melon and stone fruits in droves are the stars of the show here. Hints of herbs play an underlying role and add layers of complexity along with copious spice characteristics. Hazelnut flavors along with vanilla bean lead the finish which displays fine persistence. This well balanced wine has crisp acidity and terrific balance.
This is a wine that should please a wide array of white wine lovers. It’s thirst quenching and fruit forward so it’ll appeal to the masses and it also features more than sufficient complexity to keep the more vociferous wine lovers happy on a hot summer day. Drink this one on its own or pair it with light, warm weather foods, in either case an excellent Soave for the money
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Posted by Gabe on July 12, 2011
Some folks hold certain opinions as truths. When it comes to wine many folks feel that if you want high-end California Cabernet you have to go to Napa Valley. Now I agree there is a ton of excellent Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley. However there’s nearly as much of it on the other side of the mountain in Sonoma. Alexander Valley in particular is a wonderful source for tremendously exciting Cabernet. Today I’ll look at one of the single vineyard efforts from Rodney Strong.
The Rodney Strong 2007 Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon is a single vineyard effort produced using Alexander Valley Fruit. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Barrel aging was accomplished over 25 months in all French oak; 42% of the barrels were new. This limited production wine has a suggested retail price of $75.
Strong blackberry aromas burst forth from the nose of this 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. Toast and vanilla bean are present as well. A sweet compote of dark berry fruit flavors is present throughout the layered, full-bodied palate of this wine. These are supported by plum flavors and loads of spice elements such as nutmeg, clove, cardamom and hints of cinnamon. Coffee, dark chocolate and oodles of intense dark berry fruit flavors are present on the finish which has terrific length, persistence and intensity.
This Cabernet is big, bold and brawny to be sure; but give it some air and the finesse emerges with greater clarity. Of course if you’re patient, lay this down for a decade and you’ll be justly rewarded. Regardless, this a truly awesome example of Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and proof positive (if you needed it) that Sonoma County can deliver examples of this grape that are just as compelling as its neighbor. This wine is further evidence that Rodney Strong pushes the envelope of quality and value at every price point.
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Posted by Gabe on July 6, 2011
The Frescobaldi 2008 Tenuta Di Castiglioni was produced using fruit sourced at estate vineyards in the Montesportoli section of Tuscany. This estate which sits on 321 acres is between 656 and 820 feet above sea level and the vines have an average of 12 years of age on them. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (50%), Merlot (30%), Cabernet Franc (10%), and Sangiovese (10%). Fermentation took place over 10 days followed by oak aging over twelve months in barriques. The wine is then aged in bottle for two additional months prior to release. This offering has a suggested retail price of $22.99.
Aromas of dry bramble and earth are joined by violets, plums, and cherries in the inviting nose of this 2008 Tuscan blend from Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi. Dried fruit characteristics are in strong evidence throughout the palate; cherries, raspberries and blackberries are of particular note and they’re accompanied by bits of dried herbs. Dark crushed cherry flavors emerge on the finish along with toasty oak, cinnamon and baker’s spices in general. This wine has firm, gripping tannins and terrific acidity. I recommend about an hour in the decanter to really let this wine open up and express its charms.
This wine is a nice example of what can be done when utilizing both indigenous and international varieties in Tuscany. For just over $20 it’s a really nice value to boot and it’s widely available as well. Tenuta Di Castiglioni will pair well with roasted meats, hard cheeses, dark chocolate and of course a dish of pasta in red sauce. Drink this wine over the next 5 years.
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Posted by Gabe on July 1, 2011
Fourth of July weekend is one of the times each year when it’s definitely important to have wine on hand that will please a large crowd. Whether you’re grilling at home, celebrating with friends and family, or dining out, there are sure to be a wide array of taste buds in most gatherings. Quenching those taste buds at a reasonable cost is what I look to do on these occasions. The folks at Big House have been making widely available wines with crowd appeal that won’t bust your budget for years. Today I’ll look at one of their Zins to see if it fits the bill for this holiday weekend.
The Big House 2009 Cardinal Zin Beastly Old Vines Zinfandel was produced using fruit sourced from a number of appellations throughout California. In addition to Zinfandel (80%), this wine also contains Mourvedre (10%), Carignane (8%), and Petite Sirah (2%). 35,000 cases of this offering were produced. It’s available in traditional 750 ml bottles as well as 3 Liter boxes or casks as they call them. The respective suggested retail prices are $9.99 and $22.
Red raspberry and cherry aromas burst forcefully from the nose of this 2009 Zinfandel. Loads of sweet red fruit flavors appear throughout the palate; they’re interspersed with hints of dark fruit such as blackberry and black cherry. Candied fruit flavors emerge on the finish along with black and white pepper spice, pie crust and rhubarb.
This is a very appealing wine that will delight its core audience, large groups of people having a BBQ or party. It’s an easy drinking Zinfandel that will pair very well with just about anything that comes off of your grill. In the 3 Liter format it works out to just over $5 a bottle. That’s hard to beat especially when you take into account that housed in this Eco-Friendly format this offering will drink well for about a month after it was first opened.
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