Posted by Gabe on July 9, 2015
Lost Canyon Winery is a project of Dry Creek Valley’s Fritz Underground Winery. They have long had Russian River Valley offerings in their portfolio in addition to wines from their Dry Creek Valley home. The Lost Canyon Project is specifically aimed at highlighting single vineyards. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are two grapes that can often be interesting as vineyard designates. Here’s a look at two current releases.
Lost Canyon 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay ($35)
All of the fruit for this offering was sourced at the Ruxton Vineyard; the vines have 35 years of age on them. It’s entirely Chardonnay and after native yeast fermentation it was aged for 10 months in French oak (90% new). Just fewer than 700 cases were produced. Stone fruit aromas such as yellow peach and apricot dominate the nose here; bits of spice join in as well. The juicy palate is studded with orchard fruits such as Anjou Pear and Golden Delicious Apple. Minerals and lemon ice characteristics light up the long, crisp finish. This is a delicious and refreshing example of Chardonnay.
Lost Canyon 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($45)
This single vineyard effort was produced from fruit grown at the Morelli Lane Vineyard. Fermentation took place in open top tanks using native yeast. Punch downs occurred 2-3 times a day over 10 days. Barrel aging was accomplished over 10 months in 40% new oak. 300 cases were produced. Spice characteristics lead the nose here along with cherry, raspberry and strawberry aromas. Black cherry and bits of raspberry are present on the palate along with continued spice and a dollop of earthiness. Pomegranate and cranberry emerge on the finish along with cinnamon and clove. Firm mouthwatering acid keeps everything in check here.
Both of these wines are loaded with good varietal typicity as well as being somewhat classic examples of Russian River Chardonnay and Pinot respectively. The Lost Canyon offerings are reasonably priced for relatively small production wines from single vineyards. They are well worth your time and money.
Posted in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir | Tagged: Single Vineyard | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on June 18, 2015
Steelhead Vineyards is owned by Katy and Dan Leese who also founded the V2 Wine Group which owns a number of properties. Steelhead Vineyards itself is committed to charity. A percentage of all their sales are donated to Trout Unlimited. This group does outreach with Northern California Wineries to help them move towards improved water practices. This includes restoration of Salmon and Steelhead habitats on their properties and more. More information can be found on their website. Hugh Chapelle, from Quivira Vineyards, is the consulting winemaker. Here’s a look at two of their current releases.
Steelhead 2013 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc ($13)
The fruit for this wine (100% Sauvignon Blanc) came from Lake County (80%), and Dry Creek Valley (20%). It was fermented in stainless steel at cold temperatures with a small amount sitting on the lees. Just fewer than 6,000 cases were produced. Pineapple, yellow melon, mango, and lemon zest aromas are all present on the inviting nose. Apricot, white peach and a bit of spice show up on the agreeable palate which is easy going with more than sufficient depth. Minerals, hints of grass, white pepper and a hint of papaya all show up on the finish. This clean, crisp and fresh tasting Sauvignon Blanc is delicious all by itself and will pair well with creamy cheeses, light foods and the like.
Steelhead 2013 Sonoma County Pinot Noir ($15)
The fruit for this wine, all Pinot, was sourced in Sonoma County. Fermentation took place in open tanks with punch downs as well as some closed tanks with pump overs. Aging took place in a combination of tank and barrel over 10 months. Just fewer than 12,000 cases were produced. Bing cherry, wild strawberry and hints of spice appear on the welcoming nose. A core of red fruits tinged lightly with black fruit characteristics are joined by lots of spice and mineral elements on the layered palate. Cinnamon, cloves, sweet cocoa, red cherry and bits of cranberry are all present on the above average finish. Firm acid lends structure and adds to the mouth-watering nature of this wine. Balanced Pinot Noir with good varietal typicity is hard to come by in this price range. That makes this wine a bit of a steal at $15.
These are very solid everyday wines. They’re both express their varietal quite well and provide a very impressive amount of delicious drinking pleasure for their price points. If you’re looking for a house white or red to purchase by the case, you’ll do well with these offerings from Steelhead. And you’ll also help make a difference. Sounds like a good deal for all involved.
Posted in Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on May 7, 2015
With Mother’s Day just days away, many of us are scrambling for the right gift. If your mom is like most, she likes a glass of wine every now and then. I just tasted through a lot of different offerings and found a diverse group that, depending on your mom’s tastes, will each hit the right spot. Whether she likes aromatic whites, reds (gentle or bold), or delicious bubbles, here are some great options. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest
Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Champagne, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir | Tagged: Cabernet Sauvignon | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on May 4, 2015
In 2016, the Robert Mondavi Winery will celebrate its 50thanniversary. Having just spent a couple of days in Napa Valley as their guest, I’ve been thinking a lot about the impact that the man and his namesake winery have had on U.S. wine history. Back in 1966, when Robert made the bold move of leaving the family business (Charles Krug Winery), he had audacious ideas. He believed that Napa Valley was capable of producing world-class wines on par with those from any region of the world. In particular, his standard was French wine. Back then, Napa Valley had only a small number of wineries. In fact, the Robert Mondavi Winery was the first large winery built there since prohibition. Today, Napa is home to more than 800 different wine brands of all shapes and sizes. Most of this wouldn’t have been possible without the vision, dedication, and relentless passion of one man: Robert Mondavi. Striving to make the best wine possible..Head Over to The Daily Meal to read the rest
Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on April 24, 2015
Vintners from a broad array of Willamette Valley wineries showcased their wines at New York’s City Winery recently. It has been 50 years since the first pinot noir vines were planted there, so the gathering had a festive quality. There’s an extraordinary amount of good pinot noir in Oregon — it’s what the state’s wine producers are known for. However, as the tasting clearly exhibited, it isn’t the only thing they do well. Over several hours, I sampled pinot noir in a host of styles as well as chardonnay, pinot gris, and more. It’s been a few years since I’ve made it out to the Willamette Valley, so I was glad to have this opportunity to taste through a cross section of the area’s offerings right here in New York. The bottom line is that Oregon, and the Willamette Valley in particular, has a lot of delicious wine coming out of it. Thoughts on a handful of my favorites follow. Head over to The Daily Meal to read all about them.
Posted in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on January 22, 2015
Over in Sonoma County in the town of Sebastopol sits The Barlow. It’s a series of former warehouses that has found new life as an open-air mall of sorts. More than a mall, though, it’s a destination for shopping, eating, drinking ,and plain-old hanging out. There are many reasons to go there, but my favorite is the MacPhail Family Wines Tasting Lounge.
The focus at MacPhail is largely on pinot noir. They source fruit from distinct vineyards and use it to produce a wide range of wines. Most of them are single vineyard offerings, a few are region specific. There are several tasting options available at MacPhail, some of them require reservations; most of them do not. In my opinion, it’s always a good idea to make an appointment anywhere you go for best results. The atmosphere fostered by general manager and long-time Sonoma Wine Guy Jim Morris at MacPhail is welcoming, laid-back, and informative. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Posted in Pinot Noir, Sonoma County, Winery Visit | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on December 17, 2014
Sauvignon blanc is what New Zealand is best known for, though pinot noir is has fast become a close second. Numerous brands in all price tiers have made their mark around the world, particularly in the U.S., and both grapes thrive there, in different regions, and there are a host of excellent examples from the value category all the way on up to the luxury tier. I recently sat down to discuss this over dinner in New York City with the brand ambassador of Mud House, Jack Glover, and tasted through some current releases. The three below made a particularly strong impression. Head over to The Daily Meal to read The rest.
Posted in New Zealand, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on December 11, 2014
It’s a lot of fun to discover a musician or band at the very beginning of their career, before they’re a household name. If you do that, when they achieve success it’s likely you’ll feel a stronger connection than in the case when you stumble across an already well known artist because you heard all their hits. In essence, that’s how I feel about the wines of Viña Koyle. I’ve had the pleasure of drinking them since their first vintage. That has given me the opportunity to watch them grow. The vines have aged and already good wines have gotten better one vintage after another. Winemaker Cristóbal Undurraga is constantly tinkering and refining his winemaking approach, adding varietals to blends, using new techniques, and launching new wines. I’ve had the opportunity to taste his wines with him on numerous occasions and each encounter has been a treat. In part that’s because the wines are really, really good, yet still improving all the time. However, it’s also because the raw passion Cristóbal has for winemaking is palpable the moment you encounter him. Whether he’s speaking about sustainable and biodynamic farming practices, aging wine…. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chile, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, The Daily Meal, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on November 20, 2014
Wine in containers other than traditional glass bottles has, in some cases, come a long way. It used to be a bit of a joke, but more and more there are wines of various higher levels of quality coming in alternative closures. One fairly new entry into the marketplace is Andegavia. They use the “cask” concept. At the end of the day it’s a bag in a box. The Andegavia releases come in a box that has a nicer shape and is overall better looking than lower priced competitors. As with most within the wide, box category, it containers 3 liters which is the equivalent of 4 standard bottles. The suggested retail price is $70 or $17.50 per bottle. Once you open it the wine is supposed to stay fresh for 30 days. I didn’t test this one over 30 days but I have done experiments with similar style packaging and the wine held up, virtually unchanged, until about the 28th day. The Andegavia is made from Russian River Valley fruit, one of the great areas for growing Pinot Noir. This vintage is now sold out, but the 2013 will be along any minute. They’re available at select retailers and you can place orders through their website. Several options are available when purchasing direct such as bulk discounts as well as a subscription service.
The packaging recommended decanting this wine and I gave that a shot. In fact what I did was pour some in a decanter and let it sit for about 45 minutes and then I poured myself a glass from there as well as from the cask. The decanting made a real difference in this offering. It was good right out of the cask but a bit tight. The fully expressive, decanted wine offered wild strawberry and red cherry aromas that are underscored by wisps of thyme and sage. The backbone of the palate is loaded with red and black cherry flavors as well as cinnamon and cardamom spice. Sour black cherry and rhubarb flavors emerge on the finish along with dollops of mineral and black tea.
Quality Pinot Noir under $20 a bottle is a tricky proposition at best. This example belies that. Money saved on glass and shipping costs help. An added benefit is that the packaging is completely recyclable. I poured this for people at a party and it was a huge hit with a large crowd. Whether you’re entertaining many people or simply just want to have a glass of wine with your dinner each night this Pinot Noir is an affordable option and a delicious wine. I look forward to trying other selections in their portfolio to see how they stack up to this Pinot. My first impression is a very positive one.
Posted in Alternative Packaging, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley | Tagged: Russian River Valley | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on November 19, 2014
Wine shelves all over the country are jammed with countless selections and choices are so varied it can be dizzying. With that in mind, I’m here to help you work your way through the haze of bottles. I tasted through more than three dozen wines across all price ranges and stylistic tiers, and here are my 11 favorites from the bunch.
Hugel et Fils 2012 Gentil ($15)
This vintage of “Gentil” blends together pinot gris (23 percent), pinot blanc (21 percent), riesling (20 percent), sylvaner (20 percent), gewurztraminer (14 percent), and muscat (2 percent). Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled vats. It was gently fined and filtered prior to bottling. Lychee fruit aromas dominate the inviting nose of this French blend. “Gentil” has a palate stuffed with white and yellow melon, peach, and apricot flavors. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Posted in Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Grenache, Pinot Noir, Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah/Shiraz, Tempranillo, The Daily Meal, Wine, Zinfandel | Leave a Comment »