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Wine: Reviews, Thoughts & Culture

Archive for March, 2013

Glen Garioch – Founder’s Reserve / 12 Year old Single Malt Scotch

Posted by Gabe on March 26, 2013

The Glen Garioch Distillery was founded in 1797, making it one of the oldest in Scotland. It sits the furthest east of any in the Highlands region. Their single malt whiskies are all non chill filtered. They’re aged in a combination of American Bourbon and Spanish Sherry casks. Here’s a look at two of their core offerings.

The Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve is a recently launched Whisky. They’ve used their vast experience here to create a new offering that showcases the house style. This Scotch has a suggested retail price of $45.00. Orchard fruit aromas such as apple and subtle bits of pear are joined by vanilla and a touch of burnt sugar on the nose of the Founder’s Reserve. The palate here is fresh and appealing with continued orchard fruit characteristics joined by hints of Citrus and a nice dollop of spices. The fresh elements continue on the palate with a hint of grassiness, zesty citrus and some tingly white and black pepper elements. In its price range this is a welcome offering that provides quality and distinction.

The Glen Garioch 12 Year old Single Malt Scotch is at the heart of their range. This offering was first aged in American Bourbon casks followed by time spent in Spanish Sherry casks to aid in softening it. This 12 year old Single Malt has a suggested retail price of $65. The nose of this 12 Year Old Scotch is quite fresh and inviting with thoughts of a meadow coming to mind. Bits of white lilac are present as well as wisps of Asian pear. The palate has excellent depth and complexity of flavor. Caramel, honey and toasted macadamia nut flavors are all present along with pear and a gentle kiss of apricot. The finish is long and persistent with an avalanche of spices present. This is a terrific 12 Year Old Single Malt. In its price category it’s a very solid value.

I was quite pleased with both of these offerings from Glen Garioch. The Founder’s Reserve is more in line with what I think of for everyday sipping while the 12 Year old is one I want to sit and contemplate over a long evening. In either case if you’re a Single Malt Scotch drinker, these are worth your time and money.

Posted in Single Malt Scotch, Whiskey | Leave a Comment »

Ravenswood Winery – 2008 Pickberry Red

Posted by Gabe on March 23, 2013

ravenswood_logoRavenswood Winery under the direction of Joel Peterson became known for Zinfandel. Whether it’s cuvee style offerings from different appellations or single vineyard wines, to this day Ravenswood has a Zinfandel for just about every budget and palate. And in addition to Zinfandel they make some other wines of note too. Most of these are small production offerings that are found in better wine shops and some restaurant wine lists. One of these is Pickberry Red; I’ll look at the current release today.

The Ravenswood 2008 Pickberry Red is a single vineyard effort. All of the fruit was sourced at the namesake vineyard which is located on Sonoma Mountain. This offering is a blend of Merlot (59%), Cabernet Sauvignon (39%), Malbec (1%) and Petit Verdot (1%). This wine was aged over 22 months in entirely French oak; 22% of the barrels utilized were new. 600 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $50.

Dark fruits such as black cherry and plum fill the nose of Pickberry Red. The palate is also loaded with deep, inky fruit flavors which are simultaneously intense, layered and proportionate. Black cherry characteristics lead the way along with black raspberry and blueberry playing roles as well. Minerals and spice offer a nice counterpoint. Earth, violets and black pepper are all part of the finish which has terrific persistence. This wine has chewy tannins that soften with some air and firm acidity at its backbone. While the 2008 Pickberry Red is delicious today it’s built for the long haul. If you have the patience to lay this down for 8-12 years you’ll be justly rewarded. This is a new world wine that brings to mind old world flavors and style. Pair it with a delicious meal for best results.

Posted in Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Masút Vineyard & Winery 2011 Estate Pinot Noir / Block 1 / Block 7 / Block 11 / Block 13

Posted by Gabe on March 21, 2013

eA couple of years ago I had the opportunity to taste the inaugural release of Pinot Noir from Mendocino’s Masút Vineyard and Winery. They were founded by third generation vintners Ben and Jacob Fetzer. Pinot Noir is one of the varietals that can shine in Mendocino County when treated properly. The Fetzer brothers do just that and I was impressed with the inaugural release as well as the follow-up. Now a couple of years later, they’ve added some block specific Pinot’s to their lineup. Here’s a look at those current releases.

First up is the Masút Vineyard & Winery 2011 Estate Pinot Noir. Sorting and destemming of the fruit was done by hand into stainless steel fermenters. Both native and select yeasts were utilized for fermentation which took place over 15 days. Oak aging was accomplished over 11 months in French oak; 35% of the barrels were new. This wine was bottled unfined and unfiltered. Just more than 1,000 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $40. The nose of this wine brings to mind a bowl of fresh, juicy cherries. The palate here is dominated by red fruit characteristics, cherry and strawberry mostly, with bits of black fruit poking through. Minerals, spice, and bits of earth are all part of the finish which has excellent length and persistence. This is a well rounded, tremendously delicious Pinot Noir that lines up nicely with the previous two vintages. Just three vintages in the Masút Estate Pinot Noir is becoming a reference point for top shelf Mendocino County Pinot Noir.

This year they also released some block specific selections. I tasted them side by side and here are some thoughts on them:

Masút Vineyard & Winery 2011 Pinot Noir “Block 1.” Produced exclusively from fruit sourced in Block 1 of their Estate Pinot vineyard this wine was aged over 11 months in entirely new French oak. 115 cases were produced and it sells for $55. The nose is fresh with red fruits starring. Sweet, wild strawberries and red cherries carry the palate along with bits of spice. Rhubarb, black pepper and clove emerge on the finish along with a hint of minerals and continued spice.

Masút Vineyard & Winery 2011 Pinot Noir “Block 7.” Produced exclusively from fruit sourced in Block 7 of their Estate Pinot vineyard this wine was aged over 11 months in entirely new French oak. 115 cases were produced and it sells for $55. A bit of green herb emerges from the nose along with wisps of red apple. Gingerbread spices and red fruits interspersed with hints of black are present through the palate. A light earthiness and tons of mineral characteristics are in evidence on the finish. Amongst a distinct lineup of four Block selections, this one stands apart from the rest as perhaps the most impressive and unique.

Masút Vineyard & Winery 2011 Pinot Noir “Block 11.” Produced exclusively from fruit sourced in Block 11 of their Estate Pinot vineyard this wine was aged over 11 months in entirely new French oak. 115 cases were produced and it sells for $55. Hints of violet and red fruits give way to an avalanche of spices on the nose of this Pinot. Rhubarb, cherries (red and black) as well as strawberries are all in strong evidence throughout the palate of Block 11. The finish shows warming red fruits and spices galore. Gala Apple, cinnamon and a bit of cardamom are of note. This is a fresh and lovely Pinot Noir. It was the tightest of the whole bunch upon opening and more so than the rest was helped by an hour in the decanter.

Masút Vineyard & Winery 2011 Pinot Noir “Block 13.” Produced exclusively from fruit sourced in Block 13 of their Estate Pinot vineyard this wine was aged over 11 months in entirely new French oak. 115 cases were produced and it sells for $55. Mushroom, Bay Leaf and bits of earth mark the nose of the Block 13. Dark cherry and black pepper are dominant through the palate. Hints of Kirsch Liqueur emerge on the finish along with continued black pepper and other spices. Zippy acidity marks the structure of this wine.

If you’re a fan of well made, site specific Pinot Noir these offerings from Masút Vineyard should be on your short list of wines to acquire and taste. They’re each tasty, well made and interesting on their own. But if you want to have a really fascinating afternoon or evening, line them up and taste them side by side. You’ll be in for an eye opening and delicious time. As a Pinot Noir lover I’m excited about what these folks have already accomplished and look forward to what future vintages will bring.

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Dry Creek Vineyard – 2010 Heritage Zinfandel

Posted by Gabe on March 11, 2013

California’s Dry Creek Valley is the home office of Zinfandel. Certainly there are fine examples made elsewhere, but Dry Creek Valley has a stunning away of great ones emanating from its confines. Dry Creek Vineyard, the namesake winery of the appellation makes several consistently terrific Zins themselves. Today I’ll look at the current release of their Heritage Zinfandel.

The Dry Creek Vineyard 2010 Heritage Zinfandel was produced from fruit sourced in Sonoma County. This vintage blends together Zinfandel (88%) and Petite Sirah (12%). Fermentation took place over 18 days in stainless steel followed by 14 months of barrel aging in a combination of French, American and Hungarian oak; 15% of the barrels utilized were new. Just more than 13,000 cases of this Zinfandel were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $19.

The nose of this 2010 Zinfandel is inundated with brambly dark berry aromas and a supporting undercurrent of crème fraiche. Black cherry flavors lead the palate along with bits of blueberry, blackberry and lots of spice character. Minerals, sour fruit, black pepper and dusty chocolate notes all emerge on the finish which has good length. This is a classically styled Zinfandel that has some jam components but it leads with excellent structure.

What I love most about this wine is its consistent quality. Vintages vary to be sure but year after year this is a well proportioned, even keeled Zinfandel. For those who prefer their Zins balanced and food friendly this is absolutely one of the go to choices in the under $20 price tier. It’s delicious today, particularly after 45 minutes of aeration, but this Zin will drink well for the next 5 years at minimum.

Posted in Wine, Zinfandel | Leave a Comment »

California Meritage and Franciscan’s Magnificat Turn Twenty Five

Posted by Gabe on March 5, 2013

Last week Franciscan Estate threw what amounted to a birthday party, for Magnificat their flagship wine, in Manhattan at Calliope Restaurant. I was glad to be in attendance at this event which showcased the Franciscan Bordeaux blend. Bordeaux blends have been made all over the world for many years, including in Napa. However, it has now been 25 years since the term Meritage was introduced and along with it Franciscan’s first vintage of Magnificat. As such it was a noteworthy milestone to mark, and an excellent reason to take a look at Magnificat alongside some of its peers. Franciscan Winemaker Jay Turnipseed was on hand to speak about his wines as well as to offer some insight in a general sense about all of the Bordeaux inspired wines.

Those peers helped make the event particularly interesting. They were part of a blind tasting of six wines composed of Bordeaux varietals from around the world; Magnificat was of course amongst their number. Tasting them blind was a fine exercise in testing each of our abilities to nail regional characteristics and styles. The sense I got was that most of us gathered had about 2/3 of the regions picked out correctly. All of the blends tasted were from the 2009 vintage. The regions in play were New Zealend, Bordeaux (Left and Right Banks), Walla Walla Washington, South Africa and of course Napa Valley. I was pretty happy getting 4 out of 6 regions correct. The Magnificat stood out to me immediately probably for a few reasons, not the least of which being I’ve been drinking it consistently since the 90’s.

After the blind tasting we sat down to dinner where we were poured several Franciscan wines. This included the current vintage of Magnificat again, side by side with the 2003. The older vintage was actually darker in color that the 2009. Often at about 10 years old the color starts to morph a bit, but this wine was vibrant in color and flavors. While it certainly has a number of years of enjoyable drinking to come, The 2003 Magnificat is in a really lovely place right now. Secondary characteristics have started to kick in and the fruit flavors are ever so slightly tamed. Earth and espresso bean were prominent on the finish.

The current release is the Franciscan Estate 2009 Magnificat. This vintage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignn (64%), Merlot (26%), Petit Verdot (5%), Cabernet Franc (3%), and Malbec (2%).It was fermented and macerated over a 22 day period. Barrel aging followed over 20 months in French oak; 70% of the barrels were new. Just over 6,000 cases of this wine were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $50. Booming, black fruit aromas emerge from the nose of this wine. The flavors are ripe and eager. Blackberry, raspberry and cherry flavors are all in evidence. There’s dark chocolate and chicory on the lengthy finish along with black pepper and a hint of nutmeg and vanilla bean. The 2009 Magnificat does an excellent job of threading the needle. It’s powerful and elegant at the same time. The flavors are big but never over the top and the tannins firm but not overpowering. In short this is an excellent vintage of Magnificat a wine that is one of the standard bearers of Meritage. It’s delicious today but there’s no need to rush, it will certainly drink well for the next 15 years if stored properly.

Tasting the current vintage of Magnificat alongside counterpart wines from around the world, another vintage of Magnificat and several other Franciscan wines throughout the night really helped showcase its beauty. Happy Birthday Magnificat!

Posted in Blends, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Wine | Leave a Comment »

 
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