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Faust – 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Posted by Gabe on October 29, 2014

FaustAgustin Huneeus the man behind Faust is also the force behind Napa Valley’s Quintessa and Veramonte, one of the leading producers in Chile, to name a couple from his portfolio. Much like with Qunitessa the focus at Faust is on a single wine, in this case Cabernet Sauvignon. Here’s a look at the current vintage.

Faust 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon – Suggested Retail Price $50. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (78%), Merlot (17%), Petit Verdot (3%), Malbec (1%) and Cabernet Franc (1%). The fruit for this Cabernet came from seven distinct Napa Valley appellations. Some was from Estate fruit and some from grower relationships.  Barrel aging was accomplished over 19 months in entirely French oak; 30% of the barrels utilized were new.

Violet and blackberry aromas light up the nose of this three year old Cabernet Sauvignon. The palate is peppered with a ton of dark berry fruit flavors. Black Raspberry and blackberry are dominant. Bits of cocoa and dark cherry are in play as well. Espresso and kirsch liqueur emerge on the finish which has above average length. Tannins here are firm but yield with some air. If you’re going to drink it now decant it for about 90 minutes. Alternately hold it for a couple of years and drink it in the 4 or 5 years after that.

There is a ton of Cabernet coming out of Napa Valley of course. Much of it is priced well north of this example. For around $50, a bit less if you shop around, this is a fine example of Napa Cabernet. It shows off good varietal typicity, has excellent structure, good length and most importantly it’s a pleasure to drink

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon | Leave a Comment »

Chile’s Concha y Toro Makes Food & Budget-Friendly Wines

Posted by Gabe on July 3, 2014

My Latest Story for:

Concha y Toro is the largest winery in Chile. The depth and variety of their portfolio spans many styles, price-points, and varietals. They employ several winemakers; each focuses on a different tier of wines. I recently had lunch with Marcelo Papa at Haven’t Kitchen. He’s the Concha y Toro winemaker responsible, among others, for the Marqués de Casa Concha line. These offerings are single vineyard, site-specific wines. Over lunch we tasted a number of the selections in this range, each paired with a food that showcased a different global influence. The goal was to highlight the ability of their wines to pair with cuisine of various styles from all over the world. If wine pairing is performance, this was a tour de force showing. The foods prepared by Concha y Toro executive chef Ruth Van Waerebeek worked fabulously with Marcelo’s wines. Prior to sitting down to lunch we tasted a few newly launched wines outside the Marques line. Here are the six wines from this afternoon that really struck a chord with me. Read the rest over at The Daily Meal

Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chardonnay, Pedro Jimenez, Sauvignon Blanc | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Ironstone Vineyards – A Wine for Every Taste Bud

Posted by Gabe on July 2, 2014

My Latest Story for Bullz-eye.com:

The Kautz family has been farming grapes in California for more than 65 years. With more than 5,000 acres under vine, they’re one of the largest growers in the state. In addition to selling fruit, for more than 25 of those years they have also been making their own wine. Ironstone Vineyards is located in the Sierra Foothills. They farm their property sustainably as shepherds of the land they inhabit. Their portfolio features a wide range of wines, many available nationally, as well as a few limited releases found in their tasting room. Here’s a look at four of my favorites among their current offerings.

Ironstone Vineyards 2012 Ironstone Reserve Chardonnay – The fruit for this wine came from Sierra Foothills vineyards that have been in the family for four generations. This offering is 100 percent Chardonnay. The fruit was hand-selected and gently pressed. Barrel aging occurred entirely in French oak; bottle aging followed prior to release. About 1,000 cases of this wine were produced, and it has a suggested retail price of  of $19.99. Bright apple, white fig and gentle crème brulee aromas are all part of the nose of this Chardonnay. The palate is studded with Asian pear and… read the rest over at Bullz-eye.com

Posted in Blends, Chardonnay, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel | Leave a Comment »

Cherry Tart by Cherry Pie – 2012 Pinot Noir / Roasted Mushroom & Farro Salad Recipe

Posted by Gabe on June 30, 2014

There may not be a harder grape to find bargains with than Pinot Noir. This notoriously fickle varietal doesn’t grow well everywhere and some people plant it in the wrong spot. Others mismanage the winemaking aspect. But when Pinot is right it can be ethereal. So I’m always interested in tasting as much Pinot as possible. I am particularly curious about examples that are appropriate for everyday consumption. So when an example from cult winemaker Jayson Woodbridge landed on my desk I was really curious to check it out. The fun packaging and name added to the intrigue for me.

Cherry Tart by Cherry Pie 2012 Pinot Noir was produced using fruit sourced in three different California wine growing regions. Sonoma Coast  (49%), Monterey County (43%) and Santa Barbara County (8%) are the three regions represented. Fruit from only one vineyard in each area was used, making this what the winery calls a “multi-single vineyard blend.” Each lot of wine was fermented separately. Barrel aging took place in entirely French oak; 20% of the barrels used were new. This 100% Pinot Noir wine has a suggested retail price of $25. Red fruits rule the day on the nose of this Pinot. Wild Strawberry, cherry and bits of cranberry are all present along with wisps of spice. The palate is eager and willing with droves of super-appealing red fruit flavors such as cherry, plum and subtle hint of red raspberry. Vanilla bean characteristics are present as well. Bits of black tea, cranberry, cardamom, and toast are all present on the finish which has good length.

This is a fruity, eager to please example of Pinot Noir loaded with fresh flavors and genuine varietal character. It’s full bodied for a Pinot but never strays out of proportion. It’s perfectly suited for BBQ’s and picnics all summer long as it will pair well with a particularly wide array of foods. I paired with one of my favorite grain salads and the match was heavenly. The recipe follows, so pick up a bottle of Cherry Tart and try the recipe below. I think you’ll find that it’s a killer pairing. At $25, less if you shop around, this is a solid value in well made, Pinot Noir. Drink it in its engaging youth.

Roasted Mushroom & Farro Salad*

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups Dry Farro
1 lb Mushrooms (1/2 lb each Portobello and button works well)
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/3 Cup Pecorino Romano (grated with the coarse side of a box grater)
1 Cup of Shelled Walnut Pieces or Pecans
1 Tbsp Parsley Flakes
Black Pepper
Salt
9 Tbsp Olive Oil +
½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Directions:
Combine the lemon juice, 9 tablespoons of olive oil, parsley and red pepper flakes in a bowl or mixing cup; whisk vigorously and set aside.
Cook the Farro until done (approximately 20 minutes) in 3 cups of salted water. I tend to use vegetable bullion instead of salt to add an extra layer of flavor. When the Farro is cooked, drain and allow it to cool.
Mushrooms should be cleaned and chopped into roughly 1 inch pieces. Then toss them with a bit of salt, olive oil and black pepper. Put them on a cookie sheet and roast them in the oven (350 degrees) for about 25 minutes or until they are getting golden and slightly crispy. Allow them to cool.
Place the walnut pieces on a cookie sheet in the oven and lightly toast them. Allow them to cool.
Shred the Pecorino Romano on the largest side of a box grater. Doing it this way as opposed to grating on the small side adds to the consistency of the overall dish.
When everything has cooled mix the mushrooms, farro, cheese, and nuts together in a bowl. Pour the dressing over the rest of the ingredients and toss everything together until well coated. Taste and adjust salt, red pepper flakes, and pepper as desired.
Serve cool or at room temperature. It also holds well in the refrigerator for a week.

*This is my interpretation of a recipe from Food 52

Posted in Pinot Noir, Recipe | Leave a Comment »

Imagery Estate Winery – 2013 Viognier / 2013 Albariño

Posted by Gabe on June 9, 2014

Imagery Estate Winery is located in the town of Glen Ellen in Sonoma County. This family owned producer is best known for a couple of things. One is their focus on producing wines from lesser known grapes. Sometimes from varietals that don’t get much attention from US Winemakers. Albariño which is the single most popular white grape in Spain for instance does not have much representation in US acreage. Another thing they’re known for is the gorgeous labels that adorn their bottles. Each release of a wine features art commissioned by Imagery from contemporary artists. They’re a small winery and their releases are largely available at their tasting room of through their website. Here’s a look at two that are certainly worth the extra effort to obtain.

Imagery Estate Winery 2013 Viognier – The fruit for this wine was sourced in Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley. This offering is 100% varietal. It was whole berry pressed and only the free run juice was utilized. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. 802 cases of this wine were produced and it sells for $29. White peach and toasted almond aromas are prominent on the gorgeous nose of this Viognier. The palate is loaded with appealing stone fruits such as apricot and peach; bits of tropical fruits duck in and out as well. Lychee and bits of honey emerge on the finish which has length, depth and precision to spare. Zippy acidity makes this a wonderful food wine, perfect with a host of lighter fare.

Imagery Estate Winery 2013 Albariño – The fruit for this wine was sourced in Sonoma Valley. It’s 100% Albariño. After whole berry pressing the juice was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. 313 cases of this selection were produced and it sells for $29. Honeydew and Cantaloupe melon aromas dominate the nose along with hints of grapefruit zest. The lush palate is studded with pineapple, Anjou pear, yellow peach, and a bit of white peppercorn. Lemon curd emerges on the finish which is clean, crisp and refreshing. If you want to pour summer into a glass, a bottle of this Albariño will do the trick.

Both of these wines are perfect for summer sipping and pairing with lighter foods. They’re delicious, well-crafted offerings that will quench your thirst as well as offer lots of depth and complexity. Sure you could pop open another bottle of Chardonnay, but it’ll be there when these wines are gone. So grab something different and delight your sense this summer!

Posted in Albariño, Viognier, Wine | Leave a Comment »

A Tiny Peek at Australia’s Wine Diversity

Posted by Gabe on May 29, 2014

Australia is a huge wine producing country whose depth is apparent in both the assortment of varietals they can grow well as well as the styles they’re made in. For years our shores were inundated with mostly lower end Australian wines, often in the form of overripe Shiraz. As a result, the bounty from Australia is significantly broader than a lot of wine lovers realize. All across the Unites States a larger and larger swath of terrific Australian wines are filling our shelves. It’s a great time to try some interesting Australian wines; here are six recent releases that I recommend. To read all about them, head over to The Daily Meal.

Posted in Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Syrah/Shiraz, Viognier, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Vino Dei Fratelli offers a Broad Array of Tasty Italian Values

Posted by Gabe on May 15, 2014

Lately, I’ve tasted quite a bit of Italian wine. The wines I’ve tasted recently represent a real cross section of what’s available from Italy — they’re all over the spectrum in terms of price points, grapes used and style. And at the end of the day that’s really a microcosm of what Italy produces, which is great variety. The Vino Dei Fratelli line features wines made all over Italy, and made by several families that vary by area. Basically each family specializes in making wines from varietals that are indigenous to their area. By sourcing from a host of family producers throughout Italy, Fratelli is able to offer genuine regional wines at reasonable price-points under one umbrella. Here’s a look at a handful of their newest releases that I feel represent very good values. Read the rest over at Bullz-eye.com

Posted in Chianti, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Sangiovese, Wine | Leave a Comment »

Dinner with Piedmont Winemaker Gianpaolo Manzone

Posted by Gabe on May 14, 2014

Gianpaolo Manzone represents the sixth generation of his family involved in the wine business in one aspect or another. His family has two plots of land that add up to 24 acres under vine. In addition to being the winemaker, Gianpaolo is also the vineyard manager for this property which sits is in two different town’s right in the midst of the Piedmont Region. I recently had dinner with Gianpaolo at Ristorante Morini in New York. The evening was fascinating for a multitude of reasons, but two in particular stood out for me. He was remarkably passionate about what he does; that love and intensity for his vocation comes rushing out of him in loud and descriptive bursts. Here’s a man who not only loves tending his vines and crafting wine, he loves sharing it with people and explaining what he does. The other captivating item was how differently he treats each wine he makes. An example would be the grape Nebbiolo. He uses it to make both a varietal wine and several Barolos. However, he has different production and barrel regimens for each. By treating each one differently he’s allowing the grapes in question to shine more prominently than they might otherwise. Over the course of the night we tasted nine wines including a couple of slightly older Barolos which helped form a mini-vertical. Read the rest of the story over at The Daily Meal

Posted in Barbera, Barolo, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Wine, Winemaker Dinner | Leave a Comment »

Fifty Shades of Grey – 2011 Red Satin

Posted by Gabe on May 1, 2014

I’ve had a long-standing penchant for Petite Sirah. It’s a grape that fascinates me and I can’t recall every turning down an opportunity to taste one in any setting. Whether I’m in a tasting room, a wine event, or at someone’s home when I hear the words Petite Sirah, I say “yes.” So when the opportunity presented itself to sample a wine composed mostly of Petite Sirah named after a famous series of books, I had to say yes. Here’s what I thought of it.

Fifty Shades of Grey 2011 Red Satin – This wine blends together primarily Petite Sirah and Syrah. It was aged in a combination of new and previously used French oak barrels. The author of the Fifty Shades of Grey books had a hand in creating this wine as well as an accompanying white blend. Red Satin has a suggested retail price of $17.99. Violet, blueberry and white pepper aromas are all part of the dense and somewhat brooding nose of this wine. The palate is loaded with appealing, dark fruit flavors. Black plum, cherry and raspberry are joined by oodles of plum pudding spice characteristics. Hints of brown sugar, dusty baker’s chocolate and continued spices are all part of the above average finish. This is a softer, somewhat gentler Petite Sirah dominant wine. It shows off medium tannins, that yield easily with air, and firm acidity.

The Syrah in this wine helps soften things up. It also helps make this a wine that can be enjoyed on it’s own as well as paired with somewhat lighter foods than the average Petite Sirah dominant wine. In any case it’s a tasty offering, produced from an underappreciated grape. Considering the tie in with the popular books of the same name, it might be a great bottle to pop open for a date.

Posted in Petite Sirah, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine | Leave a Comment »

The Thermostat Says It’s time to Drink Pink

Posted by Gabe on April 30, 2014

Warm weather means the time to drink rosé has arrived, and not a moment too soon for me. There are a number of general things that appeal to me about good, dry rosé. First, since you’re serving them chilled, they tend to be refreshing. Rosé is also often delicious all by itself, but the good ones also tend to be quite food friendly. I just tasted through more than two dozen examples of rosé; these are my favorites from that group.

Real Compañía 2012 Rosado — This Spanish rosé is a blend of garnacha (60 percent) and tempranillo (40 percent). All of the fruit was sourced in the La Mancha area located in Central Spain. Eight hours of skin contact occurred before the juice was bled off. Temperature-controlled fermentation followed. This wine has a suggested retail price of $9.99. Strawberry aromas are abundant on the nose and supported by wisps of fresh cream. The palate is filled with juicy red fruit flavors such as watermelon and cherry. The…  Head on over to The Daily Meal to read the whole story…

Posted in Rosé, The Daily Meal, Wine | 1 Comment »

 
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