Gabe's View

Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

Archive for July, 2012

Sandeman – 2000 Vau Vintage Port

Posted by Gabe on July 31, 2012

A couple of years ago I visited Sandeman Cellars and had the opportunity to taste many of their wines with George Sandeman himself. This was a terrific experience that shed light on them as a producer and allowed me to learn a great deal about their wines. So when the opportunity to attend a virtual tasting with George came up, I leapt at the chance. Last week in cooperation with Snooth that tasting took place. While each of the four wines I sampled was terrific in its own right, it was the 2000 Vau Vintage that really knocked me out. So here’s a look at that wine and what makes it special.

The Sandeman 2000 Vau Vintage is made in the same manner as a traditional Vintage Port. The varietals utilized are Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Touriga Franca. The Vau Vintage is made in a style intended to enjoy in its youth. This wine most often sells for around $35. Aromas of Cherry, plums, and spice fill the nose of this Port. Black and red cherry flavors dominate the palate with bits of chocolate present as well. Plum pudding and fruitcake spices are in strong evidence throughout and add depth to the impressive and layered nature of this wine. Kirsch liqueur and bits of espresso emerge on the long and lusty finish of this wine. Whether you drink this wine alongside decadent dishes or make it dessert all by itself you’re sure to be impressed by this wonderful expression of Port.

The 2000 Vau Vintage is a remarkably good value. It’s drinking phenomenally right now and while it is intended for youthful drinking it does have the structure to improve and drink well for quite awhile. The 2000 Vau Vintage from Sandeman Cellars will evolve and be an enjoyable wine to drink for the next 10 to 15 years. That said it’s hard to resist now, particularly when it’s paired with rich chocolaty dishes. So let the declared vintages rest comfortably in your cellar while you enjoy Sandeman’s Vau Vintage.

Posted in Port, Wine | 1 Comment »

Franciscan Estate – 2010 Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay

Posted by Gabe on July 26, 2012

Franciscan Estate is a Napa Winery that has been a mainstay in the valley for close to 40 years. Their wines are available all over the country and many of the labels peak out from the shelves like familiar friends that want to come out and play. Today I’ll take a look at their relatively small production Chardonnay, Cuvée Sauvage, a wine that hasn’t been around quite as long as some of their other releases.

The Franciscan Estate 2010 Cuvée Sauvage Chardonnay was produced entirely from fruit sourced in the Carneros appellation of Napa Valley. This wine is 100% Chardonnay. The wine was fermented entirely in barrel utilizing only native yeats. All of the barrels were French oak; 86% of them were new. Aging took place over a period of 14 months. Just over 1,400 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $40.

Aromas of Anjou pear, vanilla bean and cardamom fill the appealing and welcoming nose of this 2010 Chardonnay. Lemon zest, orchard fruit in droves and bits of crème fraiche are all present on the palate which is layered and intense while retaining grace and precision. A bevy of spices including white pepper and clove are in evidence throughout the lengthy finish along with lemon ice and continued pear and apple flavors. This is an elegant and impressive expression of Chardonnay that is well worth the bottle price. There’s a lot of Chardonnay from Napa Valley out there, this is an example that is both reasonably easy to find and well worth sampling because it stands apart from the pack a bit.

Posted in Chardonnay, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Rodney Strong Vineyards – 2010 Chalk Hill Chardonnay / 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Posted by Gabe on July 19, 2012

Rodney Strong Vineyards is a Sonoma County producer with an impressive and consumer friendly portfolio. If you’re a wine lover there’s a very good chance they have something you’ll like that also fits into your budget. Today I’ll take a look at two of their wines that I have tasted over numerous vintages which are consistently well made year after year.

The Rodney Strong Vineyards 2010 Chalk Hill Chardonnay was produced entirely from fruit sourced in the Chalk Hill appellation of Sonoma County. This offering is 100% Chardonnay. 92% of the wine was fermented in French oak and underwent malolactic fermentation. That portion was also aged in new and seasoned barrels for 9 months; the balance was fermented and aged in stainless steel. This widely available wine has a suggested retail price of $20. Aromas of vanilla, lemon zest and subtle toast emerge from the nose of this Chardonnay. Bartlett pear and yellow delicious apple flavors are dominant through the palate along with a wallop of zesty lemon curd which is one of the hallmarks of this wine year after year. Minerals, white pepper and baker’s spice are part of the finish along with hints of creaminess. Firm structure marked by solid acidity makes this a Chardonnay well heeled to pair with a variety of food styles. The Chalk Hill release from Rodney Strong is in that beautiful middle ground of Chardonnays that showcase pure fruit that are enhanced by judicious use of oak which is clearly present but never detracts. Drink it up, they make more every year.

The Rodney Strong Vineyards 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was produced from fruit sourced at a number of vineyards. The River East vineyard in Healdsburg which was planted by Rod Strong in 1968 is a chief contributor. This wine is 100% varietal. Barrel aging occurred over 11 months in entirely French oak. This wine is readily available nationally and has a suggested retail price of $20. Strawberry, leather, and cinnamon aromas are well represented on the nose of this Russian River Pinot Noir. Black Cherry flavors leads the palate and they’re joined by red plum, as well as continued bits of strawberry. Black tea, pepper and a treasure trove of spices as well as hints of red apple emerge on the finish which has very good length. Racy acidity and nice overall structure help make this a versatile food wine. If you’re looking for a dependable Russian River Pinot Noir for around $20, this wine has got to be on your list.

It’s probably clear by now that I’m a big fan of the Rodney Strong Vineyards wines. As much as I do like the wines though, I’m an even bigger fan of what this winery represents. They’re a widely available brand that provides fair value at numerous price tiers. Consumers should have the confidence to buy wine with the Rodney Strong name on it knowing that they are getting a well made wine that represents a real place, Sonoma County. Not everyone has the wide selection available that we do in some parts of the country, the time to research them when we do or in some cases the resources to blindly take a chance on a bottle. With Rodney Strong Vineyards you’re placing a safe bet that you will win.

Posted in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Black Stallion Estate Winery – 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay

Posted by Gabe on July 13, 2012

The Silverado Trail in Napa Valley has been flourishing for years now. However it’s not nearly as populated as Highway 29, and on a busy day it’s still a safe bet for easier travelling. But it’s no longer the secret it may once have been. Savvy wine lovers know that there are excellent wineries of every size and scope throughout Napa Valley, Silverado Trail is a microcosm of that with both small family owned wineries and larger producers dotting its landscape. Black Stallion Winery sits towards the very southern end of the trail. Today I’ll take a look at their current release of Chardonnay.

The Black Stallion Estate Winery 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay was produced from fruit sourced in several Napa sub-appellations including Carneros, Green Island and Rutherford. This wine is 100% Chardonnay. All of the fruit was hand harvested and gently crushed into stainless steel tanks where fermentation began by adding select yeasts. After the yeast was introduced the juice was moved to French oak. 85% of the wine underwent Malolactic Fermentation. The total time in oak was 7 months. 9,000 cases of this Chardonnay were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $19.99.

Fresh orchard fruit aromas are joined by lemon curd on the welcoming nose of this 2010 Chardonnay. Pineapple and mango are a couple of the tropical fruits that light up the gorgeous palate of this wine along with orchard fruits such as apple and pear. A burst of baker’s spice is present as well. Minerals, continued fruit and a final tingly conglomeration of spices are all present on the finish which has good length.

Black Stallion’s 2010 Napa Valley Chardonnay is a very solid value for its category. This is a well made wine showing off good varietal character. With 9,000 cases produced it should be easy enough to locate. If your taste in Chardonnay runs towards the style that showcases fruit which has been gently enhanced by oak this might just be the wine for you.

Posted in Chardonnay, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Drink Pink: A Quartet of Tasty Rosé’s Perfectly Suited for Summer !!

Posted by Gabe on July 3, 2012

Rosé is one of the things in the wine world that I most enjoy about summer. Theoretically they taste just as good in cooler months. However to my lips, when the temperature rises, well made Rosé is even more delicious and tempting. Part of their appeal is their versatility with food. Their refreshing nature and the fact that they feature some of the characteristics of both red and white wines all lend to what makes them cherished by many wine lovers. Today I’ll look at a quartet of current Rosés from California producers.

First up is the Pedroncelli 2011 Dry Rosé of Zinfandel. This Rosé is produced from fruit sourced in the winery’s home appellation of Dry Creek Valley. It’s a 100% varietal wine. Pedroncelli has been making Rosé since the 1950’s. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This wine saw no oak treatment. Just fewer than 1,000 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $11. Aromas of strawberry and raspberry emerge from the welcoming nose of this Rosé. Cherry flavors dominate the palate along with hints of white pepper. Vanilla, and continuing juicy red fruit flavors continue on the crisp and refreshing finish. This a lovely dry Rosé of Zinfandel with some perceived sweetness from all the engaging fruit flavors. This is an excellent choice for a picnic.

Next up is Clayhouse Wines 2011 Adobe Pink. This wine was produced from fruit sourced at the winery’s Red Cedar Vineyard located at the outskirts of Paso Robles. It’s a blend of Mourvedre (38%), Grenache Noir (37%), and Syrah (25%). Harvesting, crushing and processing of the grapes was handled as white varietals would be. Following fermentation in stainless steel, 25% of the wine spent 2 months in neutral oak. 600 cases of this selection were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $14. Bright red fruit aromas and hints of citrus are apparent on the nose of this wine. Strawberry, cherry and bits of vanilla bean are apparent through the palate. This wine is incredibly fruity and juicy with just a touch of sweetness to round things out. Raspberry and continued cherry flavors close things out with bits of spice weaving in and out. This Rosé works particularly well ice cold.

Today’s third wine is the Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Stepping Stone Corallina Syrah Rosé. The fruit for this wine was sourced in the Oak Knoll appellation within Napa Valley. This offering was produced entirely from Syrah. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel followed by 5 months of aging in neutral French oak. 455 cases of the Corallina were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $20. The Corallina Rosé from Cornerstone opens with a highly engaging and deeply perfumed nose. Red and black cherries are joined by a crush of spices including vanilla bean. The palate is loaded with continued red fruit characteristics including strawberries, cherries, hints of green herbs and a crush of spices led by nutmeg and white pepper. This wine is crisp, dry and refreshing. The finish shows off wisps of sour red fruits and a touch of crème fraiche. This is an very nice example of Rosé from Napa Valley and it will be an excellent partner to a wide array of summer foods.

Today’s final wine is the V. Sattui Winery 2011 North Coast Rosato. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignane. Fermentation took place with select yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel. This Rosé is available directly from the winery for $21.75. The first thing you’ll notice about the V. Sattui Rosé is that it has a slightly darker hue than the average. Made up of classic varietals the nose of this wine leaps from the glass with rich, red fruit aromas. Strawberry, red plum and a hint of red apple are apparent on the palate along with a bit of quince. Bright cherry, red raspberry, black and white pepper are all part of the finish which shows off the impression of sweetness due to all the engaging fruit flavors. This wine has a bit more heft than the other Rosé’s above and thus will stand up to some more substantial foods. Anything off of the grill will work perfectly.

This quartet of Rosé’s should keep your taste buds lit up all summer long. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing glass of wine to enjoy on your deck or something to pair with the foods of summer, I urge you to enjoy some Rosé this summer.

Posted in Carignane, Grenache, Mourvedre, Rosé, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine, Zinfandel | 1 Comment »


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