Posted by Gabe on May 22, 2012
The Dutcher Crossing Winery 2009 Bernier-Sibary Zinfandel is a classic Dry Creek Valley Field Blend. In addition to Zinfandel this single vineyard effort contains Petite Sirah, Carignane, and Mourvedre. The grapes are picked at the same time and co-fermented. Barrel aging was accomplished over 14 months in French oak; 30% of them were new. This wine has a suggested retail price of $39.
Dutcher Crossing Winery is located at8533 Dry Creek Roadin Healdsburg. They’re open every day from 11 AM until 5 PM. They close on a handful of major holidays. Please check their website for those specifics, or call them at 866-431-2711.Toursand private tastings are also available by prior appointment.
Aromas of black raspberry and plum fill the heady nose of this 2009 Zinfandel. The palate is rich, layered, powerful and simply loaded with an overflowing abundance of intense dark fruit flavors. A host of spices such as black pepper and nutmeg are present as well. The finish shows off a bit of bacon fat as well as sour black cherry characteristics in droves followed by an intense wallop of dark chocolate sauce. This wine is big and powerful to be sure but it retains balance and grace, never going out of proportion. It’s a classic example of Bernier-Sibary Zinfandel from Dutcher Crossing Winery. This release has established itself as one of the very best single vineyard Zins inDryCreekValleyyear after year. In a valley famous for it’s Zinfandel, that’s no small feat. Kudos to Deb Mathy and her team for the quality wines they keep putting out.
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Posted by Gabe on May 18, 2012
The Windmill 2010 Old Vine Zinfandel was produced from fruit sourced in Lodi California. Windmill is a sub-label of the Michael David family of wines. In addition to Zinfandel some Petite Sirah was blended into this offering. Barrel aging was accomplished over 12 months in American oak. This is a nationally available Zinfandel that has a suggested retail price of $12.
Raspberry, strawberry and black cherry jam aromas come together to form an enticing nose. A bit of vanilla bean and hint of crème fraiche are present as well. The palate of this Zinfandel is loaded with zippy red fruit flavors. Cherry, raspberry, plum and strawberry are all accounted for. White pepper, cardamom and anise are the most prominent of a host of spices that accompany the fresh, bright and vibrant fruit flavors. Rhubarb and cranberry flavors emerge on the finish which has more than reasonable length for its category.
It’s nice to see a widely available Zinfandel in this price category that is balanced and proportionate. Often times Zinfandel that is priced for everyday consumption is either out of balance, overly sweet in impression, or both. The 2010 Windmill Zin is not. What this Zinfandel represents however is a wine you may want to consider a case purchase of to keep around as a house wine. I imagine you’ll be as you’ll be just as happy drinking it alongside a burger off of your grill as you would with a dish of pasta. Drink it over the next two years to get the most of the fresh and eager fruit flavors it possesses.
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Posted by Gabe on May 16, 2012
Cupcake Vineyards makes an interesting array of wines from fruit sourced the world over. They look to key appellations for what each area grows best and then partner with winemakers in specific areas to produce wines to the specifications of their chief winemaker Adam Richardson. From Argentina they get Malbec and from New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc to name a couple. Now they also have Riesling from Germany. I’ll take a look at that release today.
The Cupcake Vineyards 2011 Riesling was produced from fruit sourced in Germany’s Mosel Valley. All of the fruit for this selection was picked by hand. It was then hand sorted and de-stemmed prior to a gentle crushing and fermentation in a cool temperature controlled environment using select yeast. Just over 13,000 cases of this widely available release were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $13.99.
Aromas of lemon ice and Lychee fruit fill the fresh and welcoming nose of this 2011 Riesling. White peach and continued citrus characteristics are in strong evidence throughout the palate which has hints of crème Brule and apricot as well. Minerals, white pepper and sour orange notes all emerge on the well proportioned finish. This wine is light and refreshing with racy acidity. It’s quite delicious all by itself but works very well with a broad array of foods. I paired it with Jerk Chicken and a side of Caribbean Rice, a match that worked tremendously. This is a fine example of Riesling that is well priced for everyday consumption. It fits well in the Cupcake Vineyards portfolio of budget priced, well made, accessible wines that are widely available.
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Posted by Gabe on May 7, 2012
Folie à Deux is probably best known by consumers for their popular Ménage à Trois line of wines. Both the red and white blends in those wines have been offering consumers’ value driven offerings for many years. There are also some varietal wines in the Ménage à Trois tier which are produced from fruit sourced in a range of places throughout California. I recently tasted some new wines that Folie à Deux has released. These offerings focus on specific areas within Sonoma County. I’ll take a look at the four new releases today.
The Folie à Deux 2010 Chardonnay was produced from fruit sourced in the Russian River Valley. This offering is 100% Chardonnay. Fruit was fermented almost exclusively in French oak barrels. Barrel aging occurred over five months in a combination of French and American oak; 22% of the barrels were new. 16,500 cases of this Chardonnay were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $18. Pineapple aromas dominate the nose of this 2010 Chardonnay along with hints of vanilla bean. The palate shows off an explosion of pure fruit with Granny Smith and Yellow Delicious apple characteristics stealing the show. Lemon zest and Anjou pear flavors are present as well. Pie crust, baker’s spices and white pepper all emerge on the finish which has good length. This is an appealing Chardonnay that shows off good varietal character. It’ll work well all by itself or paired with lighter foods.
The Folie à Deux 2010 Merlot was produced from fruit sourced in several Sonoma County appellations. Most of the fruit however came from Alexander Valley. This wine is a blend of Merlot (92%), Syrah (7%), and Petite Sirah (1%). Barrel aging occurred over nine months in a combination of French and American oak; 36% of the barrels were new, 13,000 cases of this Merlot were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $18. Aromas of leather, black cherry and vanilla fill the nose of this Merlot. Raspberry flavors emerge on the palate along with continued cherry characteristics (red and black). Tobacco, kirsch liqueur, minerals and white pepper all show themselves on the finish which has good length. This Merlot has firm structure and is true to its varietal. Those are both excellent qualities in a well priced wine that will be easy to find nationally.
The Folie à Deux 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was produced exclusively from fruit sourced in Alexander Valley. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Barrel aging was accomplished over 18 months in a combination of French and American oak; 17% of the barrels were new. 19,600 cases of this Cabernet Sauvignon were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $24. Aromas of smoke, leather, cherry and bits of green herb fill the appealing nose of this 2009 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Black plum, raspberry, blackberry and cherry flavors fill the palate of this wine which is towards the upper end of medium bodied. Bits of graphite, sour cherry, black pepper and cardamom spice emerge on the finish which has very good length for its category. This Cabernet features firm acidity and soft, yielding tannins; it also shows off the virtues of good Alexander Valley Cabernet while simultaneously being primed for consumption early in its life when it’s appealing fruit flavors are at their best.
The Folie à Deux 2009 Zinfandel was produced from fruit sourced in Dry Creek Valley. This selection is a blend of Zinfandel (90%) and Petite Sirah (10%). Barrel aging was accomplished over roughly 12 months in a combination of French and American oak. 10,300 cases of this Zinfandel were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $18. The jam laden nose of this Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel shows off plum and raspberry aromas. Cherry and blackberry lead a brambly palate which is interspersed with bits of maraschino cherry. The generous dollop of Petite Sirah in this blend really helps the bottom end with deep, dark flavors such as black plum and boysenberry. Black raspberry, pepper spice and nutmeg emerge on the finish which has more than sufficient length. This wine has just enough of a jam component to make it a juicy and very forward, appealing Zin right out of the gate, It also has medium tannins and firm acidity making it a killer food wine perfectly suited to pair with anything off of your grill.
This quartet of wines from Folie à Deux does a fine job of showing off a few of the appellations within the broader scope of Sonoma County. Their friendly price points and wide availability also add to their appeal as go to wines when you’re out shopping for some selections that have crowd appeal for a summer BBQ or other get together.
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Posted by Gabe on May 1, 2012
The Campo Viejo 2004 Gran Reserva was produced from a blend of Tempranillo (85%), Graciano (10%), and Mazuelo (5%).Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel. Maceration on the skins lasted about 20 days. Barrel aging took place over 24 months in a combination of French (80%) and American (20%) oak. After being bottled this wine was aged for an additional 3 years prior to release. This Gran Reserva from Rioja is widely available and most often found for right around $20.
Cherry blossoms, tobacco leaf and a subtle hint of vanilla bean lead a gorgeous and heavily perfumed nose. Strawberry and cherry characteristics are the stars of an impeccably layered, complex and exquisite palate that is just stacked with red fruit flavors. Black pepper and cardamom are the most prominent spices present. Raspberry, pomegranate and cranberry fruit along with hints of leather and white pepper emerge on the finish which has terrific length. This wine is firmly structured and has excellent acidity.
One of the great things about Gran Reservas from Rioja is that the winery is automatically patient for you. This wine from Campo Viejo could certainly be held for a number of years, but when you consider how marvelously it’s drinking right now; there simply isn’t any good reason to wait. This is an outstanding wine that represents a very nice value. There are plenty of good values coming out of Rioja and Spain as a whole, that said this Gran Reserva stand outs as a particularly good deal at around $20.
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