Posted by Gabe on September 27, 2013
In general people love Red Blends. Well when they’re tasty of course. There are all sorts of styles out there but the ones I’m specifically talking about today are the kind that are well priced, made for a wide audience and generally available. These have a found a big following with different kinds of wine lovers. To the novice Red wine drinker they can be easy to drink and appealing. To the seasoned wine drinker they offer something tasty and easy on the budget that will satisfy a lot of different taste buds. Murphy-Goode has a new blend called Homefront Red. For every bottle of this wine sold Murphy-Goode will doncate 50 cents to Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit that provides emergency and financial assiustance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. With that in mind here’s a look at the wine.
The Murphy-Goode 2011 Homefront Red was produced from fruit sourced throughout California. This offering blends together Syrah, Merlot, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel. This wine was aged in a combination of French and American oak. It was recently released and is available nationally. 50,000 Cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $15. Blackberry and raspberry aromas light up the nose of this wine along with a little hint of anise. The palate is loaded with berry fruit flavors such as black raspberry and spices galore. Red Cherry is present as well and leads to the finish which has wisps of sweet chocolate and black pepper. Homefront Red will pair well with a pretty wide array of foods. It will be particularly good with casual grilled foods.
Good cause, good wine, good price, a win all around. Pick up a bottle or two for your next BBQ or casual get together with friends. Homefront Red is sure to please a broad array of palates. And by doing so you’ll also be helping a good cause.
Posted in Blends, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine, Zinfandel | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on January 21, 2013
Frog’s Leap has been around since 1981 and their focus has remained resolute to this day. They grow their grapes organically utilizing dry farmed vineyards. Their wine making techniques are classic and old school in intent and execution. Neither their vineyards nor their wines are over manipulated. They are also stewards of the land they inhabit and strive to be community members that make a difference. Towards that end they have been a solar powered facility since 2005. The folks at Frog’s Leap take their work, their wine and their place in the neighborhood quite seriously, but they do so while having fun, giving a wink and a smile so to speak.
A couple of days ago I made a visit to Frog’s Leap in Napa Valley. Though I’ve enjoyed a number of their wines over the years it was my first time visiting. Along with a couple of friends I made my way into their reception area and we were quickly seated even though we arrived quite a bit earlier than our scheduled appointment. They have an open porch with tables to host tastings, from that vantage point we could look at some of their vines as well as one group of visitors playing a game on the lawn while they enjoyed a taste of wine.
It was a beautiful day and Frog’s Leap is an excellent atmosphere in which to taste wine. After being seated we had someone dedicated to pouring us wine and telling us anything we might want to know about the facility and the wines. Their standard flight features 4 selections and the tastings are priced at $20. In addition to the four we were lucky enough to sample a few other releases. On weekdays they also offer tours by prior appointment. What follows are my thoughts on a few of my favorite selections I tasted on my visit.
Frog’s Leap 2011 Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc: This 100% varietal wine is what got things off the ground for Frog’s Leap more than 30 years ago. All of the fruit for this offering comes from Rutherford. It was fermented and aged in stainless steel. This wine has a suggested retail price of $20. Citrus and mineral aromas pop out of this wine’s nose. The palate is gently layered with tropical and citrus fruit characteristics. Zippy acidity, spices and minerals galore are at play here as well and they continue through the finish which is clean, crisp and refreshing. My overriding desire after taking a sip was simply to take another. This is a lovely Sauvignon Blanc whose flavors are not forceful or over the top but rather persistent in their complexity and depth.
Frog’s Leap 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon: In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, small amounts of Merlot and Cabernet Franc are blended into this wine. It was aged for 21 months in French oak and it has a suggested retail price of $42. The small dollop of Cabernet Franc in this blend really helps the nose pop. As a result cherry and leather aromas are in striking abundance. The palate here is smooth and approachable with deep berry flavors; Blackberry and plum are of particular note along with continued cherry. Earth and a bit of mocha emerge on the finish which has impressive length for the price. This wine will drink well for a number of years but it’s incredibly engaging and exuberant right now, there’s simply no reason to wait on this one.
Frog’s Leap 2010 Zinfandel: This wine is made in classic Field Blend style. This wine is composed of Zinfandel (77.5%), Petite Sirah (22%) and Carignane (0.5%). All 3 varietals were picked, fermented and aged together. Barrel aging took place over 12 months in French oak. This wine has a suggested retail price of $27. This Zinfandel really emerged after it was sitting in the glass for 15 or 20 minutes. Cherry aromas came out in droves along with a dollop of vanilla bean. Both red and black berry flavors dominate the palate along with a nice complement of spices such as clove, cinnamon and pepper. The finish is lengthy with sour cherry, bits of chocolate sauce and a final bit of biting spice. This is a proportionate Zinfandel made in a classic style. It’s spicy, fun, delicious and easy drinking without being over the top or simplistic. It’s a wine that will pair as beautifully with a pizza as it will a burger or soft polenta topped with sautéed mushrooms. Whatever you pair it with, you’re likely to love this terrifically well made Zinfandel.
Frog’s Leap 2010 Petite Sirah: This selection is 100% varietal and all of the fruit came from Rutherford. Aging took place over 11 months in French oak. The Frog’s Leap Petite Sirah has a suggested retail price of $37. In the glass this wine is as black as night. The aromas that emerge are dark and brooding to match. The first sip reveals Blackberries, blueberries and plum pudding spices. The finish has good length with hints of earth and a bit of chicory. This Petite Sirah is young and a bit tight right now with firm tannins. Time in the bottle will soften this wine and really help show off its charms. I’m fond of aging well made, balanced Petite Sirah that has good structure and acid. The Frog’s Leap Petite hits all those marks and I can’t wait to see where this wine is in about a decade. Of course you could decant it for a few hours and speed up the process. In any case this is a promising example of one of my favorite varietals.
It took me way too long to make it to Frog’s Leap for the first time, suffice it to say my second visit won’t take nearly as long. This is a great winery to visit in the heart of Napa Valley. The wines are terrific and well made. Each of them was balanced and proportionate with reasonable alcohol content, bucking current trends. The Zinfandel in particular stood out for being under 14%, something worth noting in an environment where some folks are making Zins that tip the scales over 16%. The wines are also clean and fresh with pure fruit flavors bursting through. Additionally the atmosphere is welcoming and charming with lovely understated décor that is soothing to the eye. The folks working at Frog’s Leap are incredibly friendly, accommodating and quite knowledgeable about the wines and Frog’s Leap in general. Next time you’re in Napa Valley, I strongly urge you to make a beeline to Frog’s Leap.
Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc, Wine, Zinfandel | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on November 10, 2012
If there’s a better Petite Sirah for under $20 than the one Pedroncelli releases vintage after vintage I have yet to taste it. And as much as I love Petite Sirah I sample every example can get my hands on. At some point it would stand to reason that someone would challenge them in this category. But with fruit that’s under their control, a very long track record of making affordable wines in Sonoma County and the fact that Dry Creek Valley is the epicenter of the best Petite Sirah in the world, the Pedroncelli family has an advantage. With all of that in mind I sat down to taste their latest release of Petite to see how it compares to my somewhat lofty expectations.
The Pedroncelli 2009 Family Vineyards Petite Sirah was made from fruit sourced at two vineyards within Dry Creek Valley that have family connections for the winery. Roughly half came from their own estate vineyard and the balance was sourced at a vineyard owned by John and Jim Pedroncelli’s niece. Barrel aging occurred over 17 months in a combination of French and American oak. This wine has a suggested retail price of $16.
Violets and black plum aromas fill the nose of this 2009 Petite Sirah along with hints of vanilla and cardamom. From the first sip through the very last a core of dried black and purple fruits are revealed with red fruit characteristics making a cameo appearance here or there. Blackberry, plum and blueberry are the stars here. The firm tannins cling to the back of your throat pleasurably. This finish shows off earth, continued dark fruits and hints of minerals. This wine will absolutely flourish paired with hearty and full flavored foods such as roasted meats and stews or mushroom heavy dishes. However It’s a delicious and glorious wine all by itself.
I’m thrilled to report that the 2009 vintage of Petite Sirah from Pedroncelli is in keeping with previous vintages when it comes to quality, value and eminent drinkability. This is quite simply the best Petite Sirah on the market for under $20. It’s delicious today but has the tannins and structure to age gracefully for a decade. 10 years from now you’d have a softer wine that is silky smooth and even earthier. However it’s so damn good now and they literally keep making more so my advice is to knock it back.
Posted in Dry Creek Valley, Petite Sirah, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on January 3, 2012
Their Old Vine Zin remains the best known selection from Gnarly Head. But every now and again they expand their portfolio. The latest addition is Authentic Red and eventually it may well become the most popular of the Gnarly Head wines. Each of their selections is crafted with crowd appeal in mind. These are wines that are widely available throughout the country and well priced. Today I’ll see how Authentic Red stacks up.
The Gnarly Head 2010 Authentic Red was produced using fruit sourced in Lodi California. This offering is a blend of Zinfandel (50%), Merlot (20%), Cabernet Sauvignon (17%), Petite Sirah (10%) and Syrah (3%). The fruit was hand picked and de-stemmed prior to being pressed. Fermentation took place over a nine day period. 25,000 cases of this wine were produced in 2010 and it has a suggested retail price of $11.99.
This blend leads with a big jam-laden nose that’s studded with dark and brooding fruit aromas as well as bits of eucalyptus and vanilla. Cherry and blackberry flavors are prominent throughout the palate as well as plenty of baker’s spices and black pepper. Sour Cherry and wisps of dark chocolate emerge on the finish which has good length for its category. Fine acidity keeps things in check.
What I like most about this wine is its balance. While it features bold, upfront fruits it maintains it’s heartiness through the palate and a more than reasonable finish. This wine is fruity and fun and just dying to be paired with food. It’ll work best when matched with something substantial and bold. The deep, rich stews of winter and slow cooked BBQ dishes immediately come to mind. There are a lot of options in the category of Red California Blends around $10. Authentic Red is one of the better ones out there. Some of the others can be over the top and sickly sweet. While this is a bold wine, it’s never goes too far and it’s a selection you won’t have trouble finishing a bottle of. It continues the Gnarly Head tradition of fun wines that are solid values which are also easy to find. If you’re looking for an everyday or house red to purchase by the case, Authentic Red is a solid choice.
Posted in Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petite Sirah, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine, Zinfandel | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on November 1, 2011
If you haven’t had any wines from Michael David Winery before there’s still a good chance you’ve seen one on a shelf somewhere in your neighborhood. Their wines are widely available offerings that appeal to a lot of folks. Today I’ll look at the current release of Petite Sirah which is labeled under their Earthquake tier of wines.
The Michael David Winery 2009 Earthquake Petite Sirah was produced using fruit from the Lodi region. In addition to Petite Sirah this wine contains a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon. After fermentation this wine spent 19 months in French oak. This wine, which is available nationally, has a suggested retail price of $26.
The moment you pour this wine the beautiful deep purple hue is immediately apparent. More than other wines, Petite Sirah can have the color of Welch’s grape juice, as this one does. Plum violet and leather aromas fill the nose of this Petite Sirah. Deep dark plum, blackberry, and black raspberry fruit characteristics are prominent throughout the deeply layered palate of this wine along with plum pudding spices. All of those fruit flavors and spices carry through the finish along with bits of chocolate and earth. This is a structured Petite that features tightly wound, firm tannins. If you’re going to drink this wine now I recommend decanting it for about 90 minutes and pairing it with bold, full flavored foods. If you’re patient you could also lay this wine down for 3-5 years to soften it up a bit.
The Michael David Wines are unabashedly big, bold efforts aimed at folks who want lots of up front fruit. However their wines also consistently feature depth of palate and an above average finish in their respective categories. These are qualities not often found in the wines they’re competing with shelf space for. For that reason if you like bold, brash wines the Michael David offerings should be on your shopping list.
Posted in Petite Sirah, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on August 9, 2011
Michael David Winery has been turning out appealing, budget friendly wines for a number of years. Their 7 Deadly Zins is the first one that hit my radar. In subsequent years I’ve tasted many of their offerings and there has been a consistency of overall style and value to be found with their wines. Today I’ll look at a current release white and red in their portfolio.
The Michael David Winery 2010 Sauvignon Blanc was produced from fruit sourced in Lake County. In addition to Sauvignon Blanc, small amounts of Semillon and Muscat Canelli were blended in. This wine saw no time in oak. Just over 1,000 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $14.
Aromas of grapefruit, lemon zest and vanilla bean are prominent on the nose of this 2010 Lake County Sauvignon Blanc. Melon, tropical fruit and a continuing parade of citrus notes emerge on the palate; lemon ice and hints of tangerine are of particular note. White peach, apricot, pepper and a touch of nutmeg are part of the finish which has reasonable length. This wine is light crisp and very refreshing. Increasingly Lake County has become a haven for very tasty Sauvignon Blanc at extremely reasonable price points. This example from Michael David Winery certainly falls into that category.
The Michael David Winery 2009 Petite Petit was produced from fruit sourced in the Lodi Appelation. This offering blends Petite Sirah (85%) with Petit Verdot (15%). After fermentation, Petite Petit was barrel aged for 18 months in French oak. This wine has a suggested retail price of $18.
Violets, toast, dark berries and vanilla punctuate the nose which features intense aromas of brooding dark fruits. Plums, blueberries, blackberries and a host of plum pudding and fruitcake spices fill the palate whish is dense, layered and fairly intense. Dark chocolate and hints of earth mark the velvety finish of this wine. Petite Petit has firm tannins that yield with some air. This is a big, bold wine that will work best paired with similar styled foods. At 85% Petite Sirah this wine could legally be labeled as such; however the Petit Verdot plays a pivotal role here at 15% adding such depth and dimension that the Petite Petit name is wholly appropriate and actually quite perfect.
Both of these wines from Michael David Winery offer lots of pleasurable drinking for their price-points. As is their overall house style these wines offer lots of friendly upfront fruit that will appeal to large groups with varying palates. Unlike a lot of wines in these categories the Michael David wines also offer depth and length of palate that belie their price points. If you like bold California wines, the Michael David Portfolio is one you should explore.
Posted in Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on May 16, 2011
The 2008 V. Sattui North Coast Petite Sirah was produced using fruit sourced in Lake County (65%), Napa Valley (30%) and Dry Creek Valley (5%). In addition to Petite Sirah (95%), this wine has some Zinfandel (5%) blended in. This wine is available directly from the winery for $30.
The first noteworthy thing about this wine is its color. Like most great Petite Sirah it leads with a deep, dark, purple hue. It’s fair to say it’s as dark as night. From there comes the nose which is deep and brooding, loaded with aromas of plum and blueberry. This Wine has a big, burly palate which features intensely layered black fruit flavors which intermingle with copious spice characteristics. Blackberry, plum, and blueberry are the dominant fruits; plum pudding spices are prominent as well. Earth and dark chocolate notes are present on the finish which has good length and oodles of complexity. This wine features solid acidity and firm, gripping tannins.
Petite Sirah is a grape whose offerings I look to taste as often as possible. Sometimes I run across a surprising example of the varietal that exceeds expectations. This 2008 release from V. Sattui is such a release. The intense layers of complexity and good length along with its overall balance make this a wine that provides more quality than its price point suggests. If you like classically styled Petite Sirah, this is an offering you’ll want to sample. This wine is delicious now, but some additional bottle age will help it round out a bit. If you have patience lay this down for about 5 years and you’ll be dutifully rewarded with an even more resolved wine. If you’re drinking it now I recommend decanting it for about 2 hours.
Posted in Petite Sirah, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on February 2, 2011
Mendocino’s Parducci Wine Cellars has a long and storied history with Petite Sirah, dating back to the 1940’s. In addition to a couple of separate bottlings of Petite Sirah, they use this great varietal in blends. Today I’ll look at the current release of their True Grit Petite Sirah.
The Parducci 2007 True Grit Petite Sirah was produced using fruit sourced exclusively in Mendocino. In addition to Petite Sirah (88%), this wine has Syrah (12%) blended in as well. Barrel aging was accomplished over 24 months. 4,800 cases of this vintage were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $29.99.
This 2007 Petite Sirah is gorgeous from the moment you pour it. A deep, dark purple hue fills the glass with brilliant color. Plums, violets and blackberry aromas leap from the glass and provide a heady nose. Baked blueberry cobbler characteristics lead the palate which is full-bodied, deeply flavored and simply loaded with dark, brooding and intense flavors. These bruising purple fruits lead to pencil lead, espresso, sour black fruits, earth and black pepper on the lengthy and lusty finish. This wine is big and beefy with firm tannins and excellent acidity.
I have tasted this wine over numerous vintages and find the Parducci True Grit to be one of the best and most consistent Petite Sirahs in its price range. This wine is delicious now, particularly if you enjoy the vigorous enthusiasm of young Petite Sirah. However, if you have the patience to lay this wine down for a decade you’ll be rewarded with a subtler, earthier bottle. Whenever you decide to drink this wine, if you like Petite Sirah, you’re in for a real treat.
Posted in Petite Sirah, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on January 5, 2010
Over the last year or two I’ve had more and more wines from Mendocino County in California. And I have to say that I’m finding quite a few that I enjoy. So when the opportunity presents itself to taste one I haven’t had before I jump at the chance. Such was the case with this blend from Paul Dolan Vineyards. This Mendocino producer farms organically and biodynamically. Those two things also up the appeal for me.
The 2006 Paul Dolan Vineyards Deep Red is made from 100% Estate fruit and entirely sourced at their Dark Horse Farms Vineyard. This offering is a blend of Syrah (56%), Petite Sirah (31%), and Grenache (12%). 770 cases of this vintage were produced and the suggested retail price is $45.
The color of this wine is immediately striking. Its hue is as black as night in the glass. Taking the first whiff dark fruit aromas such as plum and blueberry emerge and are immediately underscored by red fruit notes. The palate is layered with intense and intermingling fruit flavors. Both bright and dark flavors are prominent as the Syrah and Petite Sirah that dominate this blend tussle for control of your taste buds; black cherry, blackberry and raspberry are of particular note. Black pepper notes kick in mid-palate and lead to the finish which shows dark chocolate dipped raspberry, earth, minerals and espresso bean notes. That finish has very nice length. This wine is well balanced and has excellent acidity.
Despite alcohol clocking in at well over 15% this wine doesn’t drink hot in the least. I’m a sucker for Petite Sirah in general and the 31% in this offering makes it intense and brooding presence known. If you’re going to drink this wine over the next year or so I’d recommend decanting for at least an hour. If on the other hand you have patience, which I rarely do with Petite Sirah, feel free to cellar this for the next 5-8 years and watch it develop as the earthy characteristics take greater hold. This is a terrific wine.
Please take a moment to vote for my blog.
Posted in Grenache, Petite Sirah, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine | 2 Comments »
Posted by Gabe on June 14, 2009
As I mentioned yesterday I’ve had several of the Micahel David wines over the years. There are a handful of them that I keep in my cellar regularly. All that said there are a few that I’ve never had. The wine I’m looking at today, Petite Petit is one of them. I’m a huge fan of Petite Sirah which makes it surprising to me that I hadn’t gotten to this one before now. But that’s been corrected.
The 2007 Michael David Petite Petit is produced from Lodi fruit. This wine is a blend of Petite Sirah (85%) and Petit Verdot (15%). This offering was aged in French oak for 15 months. The suggested retail price for this selection is $18.
Violets, plum, blueberry and nutmeg are all part of this wine’s nose. The palate is rich, jammy, velvety and loaded with decadent and inviting berry fruit flavors. Blackberry is the standout characteristic. It’s not quite blackberry pie though. There are some vanilla elements and fresh pastry notes that put me in the mind of blackberry and currant scones. Dusty cocoa, white pepper and continued nutmeg are all part of a nice finish. Sufficient acidity keeps things in check.
As I mentioned I’m a sucker for good Petite Sirah. and while Petit Verdot is most often used in Bordeaux style blends I think it really adds a lot to this selection. The lush and velvety mid-palate is most likely a result of the healthy percentage of Petit Verdot in the blend. There are a handful of solid Petite Sirah’s in the budget category that have been consistent year after year. Concannon and Bogle are two that come to mind. This release from Michael David is a bit more than those, but for the extra money you get an additional wallop of flavor. I’ll be very curious to see if this wine is as consistent from vintage to vintage as the other Michael David wines. As it stands this wine is a nice value and a good example of both Petite Sirah and what adding Petit Verdot in can bring to the party.
Please take a moment to vote for my blog.
Posted in Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Wine | 1 Comment »