What do you think of when New Zealand Wine is mentioned? I bet your answer is sauvignon blanc, which is no surprise as it makes up a very large percentage of their crop. So try to imagine New Zealand’s wine identity without sauvignon blanc. It’s hard to do right? Well I recently had dinner with Bill Spence, a man who can imagine just that. It was Bill and his brother Ross who first planted sauvignon blanc commercially in New Zealand back in 1969. A few years later in 1974 they released the first ever commercial vintage of sauvignon blanc in New Zealand. Here’s a look at two wines from Matua that are available in the United States right now and represent excellent values. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest…
Archive for the ‘Pinot Noir’ Category
Posted by Gabe on April 1, 2014
Posted by Gabe on March 31, 2014
Oregon has become a go to destination for those seeking genuine expressions of Pinot Noir. Producers of all shapes and sizes are based there making similarly wide ranging wines. Elizabeth Chambers Cellar is a boutique winery focused on Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley. They make several small lot single vineyard wines. They have also just released their first wine into national distribution, a Willamette Valley Cuvée. Even with this somewhat larger production wine they are still a very small winery at only 3,500 total cases. Here’s a look at the inaugural release of their newly launched wine.
The Elizabeth Chambers Cellar 2011 Winemaker’s Cuvée Pinot Noir was produced from fruit sourced at two vineyard sites. Most of the grapes came from the Freedom Hill Vineyard, the balance from the Lazy River Vineyard. Barrel aging took place over 10 months, largely in previously used oak. This wine has a suggested retail price of $32. Wild strawberry, leather and bits of black plum are prominent on the cheerful nose of this 2011 Pinot Noir. Firm black fruit flavors dominate the palate; these are dotted with interspersed bits of red fruit. Plum, cherry and raspberry are the most prominent of these characteristics and they’re accompanied by wisps of nutmeg. Black tea, minerals, cinnamon and a bit of red clay are all part of the long, lush finish. Firm acid and soft, sweet tannins provide nice structure.
This is a delicious and well priced Pinot Noir. It’s ready to drink now, particularly when decanted for about an hour, but will age well over the next 4-6 years. Proportionate, accessible, food friendly Pinot Noir loaded with varietal character is rarely ever inexpensive. This example from Elizabeth Chambers Cellar is a really good value. While it may not represent an everyday drinking price for everyone, it’s a wine most can at least reach to from time to time. If you enjoy well made Pinot Noir, here’s a new entry to try. This release hits my Pinot Noir sweet spot and makes tasting the rest of their portfolio something I need to do.
Posted by Gabe on March 18, 2014
The folks over at Rodney Strong Vineyards offer a wide portfolio of Sonoma County wines. Their offerings range from wines made with fruit sourced throughout the county, all the way to single vineyard efforts tightly focused on specific parcels of land. One of the things which remain consistent throughout is their ability to offer value at each price point they sell wine. This has stayed true through the many years I’ve been drinking their wine. Here’s a look at two current releases that offer a little window into some of the terrific things they’re doing.
The Rodney Strong Vineyards 2012 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was made entirely from fruit sourced in the namesake appellation. Harvesting from different sites took place over a couple of weeks as each achieved maturity. Barrel aging was accomplished over 10 months in entirely French oak. This wine has a suggested retail price of $25. Wild strawberry, red violets and Madagascar Vanilla bean aromas light up the nose of this 2012 Pinot Noir. The flavors remind me of a bowl of fresh red fruits; continued strawberry is joined by red cherry and bits of rhubarb on a friendly and even keeled palate. Spices such as cinnamon and clove emerge on the finish along with final flourishes of fruit such as pomegranate, strawberry and raspberry. Black tea and mineral characteristics are present as well. This wine is a standard bearer in under $30 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. One vintage after another you can count on it to showcase varietal character and locale, with style.
The Rodney Strong Vineyards 2010 Rockaway Cabernet Sauvignon is a single vineyard effort. Rockaway Vineyards sits at an elevation of 750 feet. It was planted in 1994 and features the five predominant Bordeaux varietals. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (88%), this wine has some Malbec (7%), and Petit Verdot (5%) blended in. Barrel aging took place over 20 months in entirely French Oak; 57% of the barrels utilized were new. This Cabernet has a suggested retail price of $75. This Cabernet has a deeply brooding nose that’s just brimming with dense and heady dark fruit aromas. The palate is stacked with layer after layer of fruit; blackberry, plum and black raspberry are all in evidence. Plum pudding spices and chocolate sauce characteristics are present as well. The Rockaway Cabernet has a long, lush finish that shows off black cherry, raspberry, espresso and mineral notes. Firm, chewy tannins yield with some air. This wine is delicious now, particularly after an hour or so in the decanter, however it’ll evolve nicely over the next 5 years and drink well for several after that. This is a fine expression of Alexander Valley Cabernet.
It’s no secret that I really like what they do at Rodney Strong Vineyards. The reasons are many and most of those relate very specifically to what comes pouring out of the bottles. But it also involves the fact that they do the things they do at a relatively large scale. Every time I twist off a cap or pull the cork from a bottle of wine with their name on it, I’m certain I’m going to get a delicious, fairly priced wine. Hats off to the Rodney Strong team for reinforcing that confidence with each and every successive bottle. Not to mention for making sure that even folks in the furthest reaches of the country can easily find wine from a dependable, reasonably priced producer who makes a quality product that speaks to its region of origin. So take my advice, drink their wines, your taste buds will thank you.
Posted by Gabe on February 15, 2014
For most people Sauvignon Blanc is the primary grape that comes to mind when New Zealand is mentioned. And with good reason, they produce quite a bit of it. Not to mention that they also offer a lot of stunning examples, seemingly at every imaginable price point. Pinot Noir however has been coming on strong for awhile now, and who knows, perhaps someday we’ll think of New Zealand for Pinot first. Here’s an example I just tasted that really made me sit up and take notice.
The Loveblock 2011 Pinot Noir was produced entirely from one vineyard. Someone’s Darling is a 20 acre block located above the mountains of Central Otago in New Zealand. Five clones of Pinot Noir are planted there. The vineyard is sustainably farmed and accredited as such in New Zealand (SWNZ). The grapes were machine harvested and de-stemmed. They had a 5 day cold pre-soak prior to being inoculated with yeast and undergoing fermentation. This wine most often sells for right around $30. Mushroom, leather, red cherry and bits of earth are all present on the expressive nose of this 2011 Pinot Noir. Wild Strawberry characteristics are joined by red and black cherry, along with rhubarb as well as cinnamon and black pepper on a somewhat weighty palate that is studded with appealing flavors. The finish is lingering and impressive in length with mineral notes, earth and hints of sour cherry. If you love good Pinot Noir that speaks of its origins, this wine is for you. It’s impeccably balanced and has firm, racy acidity. Loveblock 2011 Pinot Noir is delicious all by itself. However it’ll pair well with lots of food choices. Anything with mushrooms, pork dishes, and Pasta Bolognese are just a couple of options.
So while Valentine’s Day may have passed I assume we all still have time for love. If so Loveblock 2011 Pinot Noir is a good choice to keep you warm and cozy for the (hopefully) fading days of winter. Pinot Noir is a varietal I’m personally very finicky about. There are unfortunately too many examples that don’t acquit themselves very well. Sometimes they taste like almost anything but Pinot in fact. Thankfully this isn’t the case here. This is a beautiful expression of Pinot Noir that couldn’t possibly be mistaken for anything else. The fruit is a touch darker in spots than typical perhaps, but Loveblock is a delicious, well made example of Pinot Noir. It should also be mentioned that it’s being sold at a fair price when the quality and depth of this offering is taken into account. Good Pinot Noir is rarely (if ever) cheap. Here’s one that, while not cheap, is worth every penny. If you’re drinking it now, decant it for an hour or so. Otherwise it’ll hold for the next 4-5 years.
Posted by Gabe on December 30, 2013
I’m a firm believer that most of us should be drinking sparkling wine more often. It can be versatile with food, often delicious on its own and quite frankly just plain fun. That said the one day we all seem to agree on when it comes to Sparkling Wine consumption is New Years Eve. With that in mind here are three that I tried recently and really enjoyed. One of them falls into the traditional category of classic Champagne. The other two are new world entries, one traditional in style and intent, and the other leaps and bounds in a different direction. Most importantly each of them is unique and delicious.
Paringa – 2012 Sparkling Shiraz. This wine is composed entirely of Shiraz. The fruit was sourced from 14 year old vines. This sparkler saw a short window of time in French oak. 10,000 cases of this Sparkling Shiraz were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $17.99. Black raspberry aromas lead a huge nose that is fruity and floral. If the nose of a wine could be compared to an invitation, this one is welcoming you to a party that is fun and boisterous. The palate is studded with vibrant black fruit flavors; blackberry and raspberry are most prominent. Molasses, anise, black cherry and a mélange of spices are all present in the above average finish. The bottom line here is that the Paringa Sparkling Shiraz is a fun and delicious wine. Pair it with dessert, a burger or drink it by itself, each alternative will work.
Mumm Napa – Brut Prestige was made from a combination of Pinot Noir (51%), Chardonnay (46%), Pinot Meunier (2%), and Pinot Gris (1%). The first three grapes are the classic triumvirate most often associated with Sparkling Wine; The Pinot Gris is something out of the standard realm that they have added. Fermentation took place primarily in stainless steel. 18 months of aging on yeast followed. This widely available Brut style wine has a suggested retail price of $22. Bits of citrus and white stone fruits fill the nose this wine. This entry level selection in the Mumm portfolio and it’s a classic Brut. The palate is dry and loaded with fruit and spice. Yeast and biscuit characteristics emerge on the finish which has nice length. While the friendly price makes it an obvious choice for holiday celebrations this wine will go very well with food whether it’s paired with a first course during dinner or alongside brunch, you’ll be pleased with the results.
Perrier-Jouet – Grand Brut (NV). This Champagne was composed from a blend of Pinot Noir (40%), Pinot Meunier (40%), and Chardonnay (20%). After fermentation and racking, more than 300 wines are tasted to assemble this blend. In addition to the current vintage reserve wines from previous vintages amounting to between 10% and 20% are also blended in. The wine is then aged in their estate cellars. This Champagne has a suggested retail price of $50. Aromas of apple, ginger and lemon are all part of the gently expressive nose. Orchard fruit flavors are dominant on the palate along with a core of accompanying spices. Bits of brioche and biscuit are present on the lengthy finish along with lemon zest and white pepper spice. This is a classic example of Brut that shines year after year. It will be a fine accompaniment to lighter foods and also a terrific choice to pop open to celebrate the arrival of 2014.
Drinking more sparkling wine, Champagne or otherwise, is a fine resolution for the new year. Get off on the right foot and finish off 2013 with one or more from this trio, you can’t really go wrong here.
Davis Bynum – 2011 River West Chardonnay / 2011 Jane’s Vineyard Pinot Noir / 2011 Jane’s Vineyard, Garfield Block Pinot Noir
Posted by Gabe on December 20, 2013
Davis Bynum was the first Winery to truly recognize how special and viable Russian River Valley is for Pinot Noir. Their faith in the area was evidenced when they made the regions first single vineyard Pinot Noir with the 1973 vintage. Today the winery is safely entrenched under the Rodney Strong umbrella. They continue to make wines that are true to their origins. Here are three site specific examples.
The Davis Bynum 2011 River West Chardonnay was produced from fruit sourced exclusively at the namesake vineyard. Blocks of fruit from this vineyard were harvested separately and each batch was pressed and fermented separately. Barrel aging took place over 10 months in entirely French oak. This wine has a suggested retail price of $30. Gravenstein apple and baker’s spice aromas are in full force on the nose of this Chardonnay. The palate is fruit and spice driven with apples, pear, pineapple, cinnamon and clove all in evidence. Hint of lemon curd lead the finish along with minerals and a copious amount of spice. This Chardonnay is rich and round with crispy acidity. It’s delicious sipped alone but will flourish with lighter fare.
The Davis Bynum 2011 Jane’s Vineyard Pinot Noir was produced using fruit sourced in the namesake vineyard. It is composed entirely of Pinot Noir and features a blend of 7 clones. After fermentation it spent 10 months, exclusively in French oak. It has a suggested retail price of $40. Wild strawberry aromas fill the nose of this classic Russian River Pinot. Black cherry leads a substantial palate which is loaded with concentrated (for Pinot) flavors. Cloves, cinnamon, rhubarb and flint are all part of the focused and lengthy finish. This is a delicious Pinot that benefits greatly from about an hour in the decanter. It has firm acidity and medium tannins. It would be a tremendous match with honey glazed ham.
The Davis Bynum 2011 Jane’s Vineyard, Garfield Block Pinot Noir was produced from fruit sourced in the single named block. It’s planted exclusively to clone 667. After temperature controlled fermentation it was aged in entirely new French oak for 10 months. This Pinot has a suggested retail price of $60. This Pinot has a heady and intoxicating nose featuring a bevy of fresh red berry aromas. Strawberry, red cherry and interspersing bits of raspberry are part of the fierce palate which is remarkable in its cohesiveness and depth. Black tea, leather, and continued cherry characteristics are all part of the lengthy finish which is particularly distinguished by a refined richness. Garfield Block is a stunning example of Pinot that shows a driven singularity which you’d be hard pressed not to be knocked out by. If you’re looking for specific, vineyard driven Pinot Noir, grab this one!
I’ve had the chance to taste with winemaker Greg Morthole on several occasions. It’s clear to me that with the Davis Bynum wines he works hard to honor Davis’s legacy while moving the ball forward a bit. Quite frankly it’s a smashing success. These are delicious wines that speak of their place quite loudly. By producing excellent single vineyard and block wines they are re-cementing the foundation Davis Bynum first established. This is a beautiful trio of wines, which is also perfectly suited for the Holiday table. Taken as a piece, they’re a fascinating, focused, and delectable look at Russian River Valley. Grab them now, thank me later.
Trione Vineyards & Winery – 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay / 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
Posted by Gabe on October 30, 2013
The folks at Trione Vineyards & Winery farm property in three distinct appellations within Sonoma County, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley & the Sonoma Coast. In total they have more than 650 acres. They use a small percentage of the resulting grapes to make the Trione Wines and sell the balance to others. Here’s a look at two of their current releases.
The Trione Vineyards & Winery 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay was produced using fruit sourced at their River Road Ranch vineyard. This is a 115 acre parcel in the middle of the Russian River Valley. The fruit was whole bunch pressed. Fermentation and aging occurred in French oak. 45% of the barrels utilized were new and the balance were composed of once and twice used oak. 862 cases of this Chardonnay were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $30. Baker’s spices and orchard fruit aromas dominate the lovely nose of this Chardonnay. Pineapple and yellow delicious apple flavors are prominently featured through the rich and layered palate which has loads of depth in the form of pure, unadulterated fruit flavors. Granny Smith apple, cloves, cinnamon, minerals a hint of crème fraiche are all part of the finish which is memorably lengthy. This wine is crisp, refreshing and lovely. It’s a fine, fine example of well made Russian River Valley Chardonnay at a fair price.
The Trione Vineyards & Winery 2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir was produced using fruit sourced from four blocks. These are all at their River Road Ranch Vineyard. The clones planted there are 115, 667 & 777. Open top tanks and manual punch downs were utilized. 20% of the fruit was whole cluster. Barrel aging took place over 15 months in French oak; 45% of the barrels used were new. 1,385 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $35. This Pinot has a heady and intoxicating nose which is spice laden and remarkably inviting. Cherries, cinnamon and bits of bay leaf are all in evidence on the palate. There is a gentle depth here and plenty of complexity. Sour black cherry, black tea, minerals and fine bits of earth are all present on the finish which has exceptionally good length and persistence. It will pair well with a broad array of foods.
Trione continues to turn out well made wines that show a genuine sense of both varietal and place. In the case of both of these wines we’re talking about Russian River Valley. Each of these represents that appellation favorably. The Chardonnay is lovely and quite delicious. The Pinot on the other hand is an absolutely outstanding value in Russian River Pinot. It simply outshines and outclasses many in that price range. You’re getting a ton of bang for the buck with this one so if you’re a fan of good Russian River Pinot, here’s one you’ll want to get your hands on.
Posted by Gabe on October 10, 2013
Recently I had the opportunity to taste through the wines of Moss Wood. They’re an Australian producer with a history dating to 1969. Their current winemaker Keith Mugford has been making the wines since 1979. Since 1984 Keith and his wife Clare have run the entire operation at Moss Wood. In their time at the helm they have made thoughtful advances such as being up to 75% in screw cap as far back as 2003. They’re located in Wilyabrup which is a sub-section of the Margret River region.
We started the evening by tasting a trio wines from four varietal verticals. Semillon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon dating as far back as 1990 were the varietals and each was represented by an example from each of the last 3 decades.
Moss Wood 1993 Semillon – This 20 year old Semillon has an obviously darker hue than the others which is natural for a white of this age. Bits of citrus appear on the nose along with a touch of toffee. Plenty of secondary characteristics emerge on the palate to go along with apple and a boatload of baker’s spice. This wine is still vibrant and alive. It’s a lovely and truly gorgeous example of aged Semillon.
Moss Wood 2003 Semillon – A gentle hint of Petrol emerges on the nose of this decade old Semillon. The palate is filled with a bevy of citrus notes. The finish here is long and fleshy with minerals, spice and pineapple characteristics all in abundance. This wine is delicious and giving but it will continue to evolve positively with more time.
Moss Wood 2013 Semillon – This is the current vintage and it has a suggested retail price of $42. Meyer lemon and lime notes light up the nose of this Semillon. Additional fruits such as white fig are part of the gently layered palate. The finish has good persistence and things end with bits of crispy acidity. Compared to the older vintages this wine is a bit reticent now. Time will open it up and allow it to more fully express its charms.
Moss Wood 1991 Chardonnay – This 22 year old Chardonnay showcases a cavalcade of pure and expressive fruits. There is depth and complexity here to spare. Apple and pear flavors are joined by bits of hazelnut and toast. A bit of butter crème emerges on the finish which has excellent length and persistence. This is a gorgeous wine that exemplifies how fantastic Chardonnay can be when it’s treated appropriately all the way from vineyard to bottle.
Moss Wood 2003 Chardonnay – This Chardonnay has the darkest hue of the trio. The nose shows a bit of candied apple. The finish is fairly long with zippy acidity, minerals and a wisp of crème fraiche. Not quite as fresh or vibrant as either the 1991 or the 2011 but no less interesting.
Moss Wood 2011 Chardonnay – The current vintage, it has a suggested retail price of $63. Lemon custard and orchard fruits mark the deep and layered palate of this wine. Spices galore are present from the first whiff of the nose through the last, lingering note on the finish. This wine is loaded with gorgeous layers of fruit. It’s delicious now but will be even lovelier with time in the bottle. This release will likely get to a similar spot down the road that the 1991 is at today.
Moss Wood 1994 Pinot Noir – Plum aromas emerge from the still vibrant nose of this Pinot Noir along with mushroom and lot’s of secondary characteristics. Sour cherry notes dominate the palate and lead to a lengthy spice filled finish that also shows off black tea and hints of earth. This is a balanced and exquisite example of well aged Pinot Noir.
Moss Wood 2001 Pinot Noir – Red fruit, leather and a hint of smoked meat fills the expressive nose of this 12 year old Pinot Noir. Lots of cherry and strawberry star on te palate here along with hints of earth and mushroom. Minerals and sour red fruits emerge on the finish which has good persistence. Medium tannins that show a pleasing amount of grip and firm acidity speak to the wonderful structure this wine has. It’s delicious now, but certainly has quite a few years of aging ahead of it.
Moss Wood 2010 Pinot Noir – This is the current release, it has a suggested retail price of $62. Red and black cherry character dominates the nose of this Pinot. Red fruits interspersed with black, are key components throughout the palate, along with a well rounded complement of spices. All of these elements continue through the finish which has nice length. This Pinot is still young and a bit tight right now. It needs some time and a few years in bottle will serve it well. That said a few hours in the decanter are highly recommended if drinking it in the next couple of years.
Moss Wood 1990 Cabernet Sauvignon – The fruit on this 23 year old Cabernet has receded and the secondary characteristics have really taken hold. Earth, minerals, espresso and a potpourri of spices are the dominant players here. Chocolate and leather emerge on the finish with some lingering remnants of cherry. If you like your Cabernet Sauvignon aged (and I do), this happens to be an excellent example. It’s beautifully perfumed, loaded with minerals and spice, easy drinking and layered. This is the kind of wine I could hide in the corner with, allowing it to keep me content all night long.
Moss Wood 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon – This wine is all about cherry characteristics. A combination of red and black cherry flavors dominates the nose and palate. Spice elements join in and continue through the finish where cherry flavors continue to ring out loud and clear. Bits of rhubarb and chicory are present as well. The tannins still have some bite and the acidity keeps things beautifully balanced. This is a fine Cabernet Sauvignon.
Moss Wood 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – The current release, it has a suggested retail price of $105. Red and black raspberries emerge on the welcoming nose of this Cabernet Sauvignon. Blackberry, cherry and spice are all prominent through the layered palate which shows lots of depth. Blueberry, spices and espresso notes dot the finish which has good length. The tannins here are firm but give with some air. This is a young but approachable Cabernet Sauvignon that will improve greatly with several more years of age. It’s a promising wine that will only become better.
After the vertical tasting we moved on to sample a handful of their other releases alongside our dinner at CraftBar. Three of them were blends and they were lovely wines well suited to our meal. But for me the knockout amongst this quartet was the final wine which was paired with dessert.
Moss Wood Ribbonvale Botrytis 2011 Semillon – This wine was slowly fermented and then racked to barrel. It was bottled in January of this year. It’s available in both 375ml ($38), and 750ml ($70) bottles. Mission fig aromas are part of the nose on this lovely dessert wine. The palate is sweet but not overly so with a variety of fruit and spice flavors coming to the forefront. Fruitcake spices emerge on the honeyed finish which has great length and nice acidity. This wine works equally well paired with other sweets or a cheese course.
Tasting these wines in such a setting allowed us to see their aging potential as well as take a look at what the level of consistency is. While there was certainly vintage variation and some stylistic differences as they have made some adjustments in treatment over the years, each varietal had connective tissues within their subset that allowed us to see how they related to each other. The key here is that these wines were all made in a style that allowed their origin in the Margaret River to be showcased along with the vagaries of what each vintage brings. These are not manipulated products but vineyard driven wines that are allowed to shine. Each varietal is shepherded into bottle in a manner that makes long term aging not only possible but interesting and exciting. The Moss Wood wines taken as a whole were quite impressive. They’re fine examples of their place, their respective grapes and their particular vintages. If it’s been awhile since you’ve had top shelf Australian wine, the offerings from Moss Wood are a perfect spot to leap back in.
Domaines Paul Mas – 2011 Estate Pinot Noir / 2011 Estate Malbec / Chateau Paul Mas 2011 Clos de Savignac
Posted by Gabe on September 12, 2013
European wine can be intimidating to wine drinkers for a variety of reasons. Those with an interest in wine but who aren’t total geeks about it don’t necessarily know the nuances of labeling and what might be in a particular bottle due to it generally listing region as opposed to varietal content. Stylistically many old world wines are often subtler than their new world counterparts and it can take time for palates to come around to the layered charms of those often elegant offerings. In contrast to all of that Domaines Paul Mas from the Languedoc region of France has some releases that are labeled in such a way that even the budding wine lover can easily discern contents. Additionally they are making wines that bridge the gap in style between the old and new worlds. Here’s a look at three of their current releases.
The Paul Mas 2011 Estate Pinot Noir is a single vineyard effort. All of the fruit for this wine came from their St. Hilaire Vineyard located in the Languedoc Region. This offering is 100% Pinot Noir. After maceration the fruit was fermented in a temperature controlled environment for approximately 9 days. Aging took place over 6 months in stainless steel, followed by 2 months in bottle prior to release. This wine has a suggested retail price of $14. Aromas of Strawberry and red cherry fill the nose of this Pinot Noir along with secondary characteristics such as mushroom. Those red fruit characteristics carry through the palate which is towards the more substantial side for Pinot Noir. Minerals, spice and earth are all in strong evidence on the finish which has good length. Medium tannins and zippy acidity lend to a nice backbone and structure here. This is a Pinot from the old world that shows off new world flavors while still being proportionate.
The Paul Mas 2011 Estate Malbec is a single vineyard wine. All of the fruit for this selection was sourced at the Gardemiel Vineyard. This is a 100% varietal offering. This wine is available throughout the country and has a suggested retail price of $14. This Malbec has a really lifted nose with super expressive aromatics. Floral characteristics and deep, dark plum are both part of the equation. The palate is fruit driven but elegant and quite proportionate. Dark fruit flavors abound and are joined by a copious amount of spice. The finish is generous and velvety in nature with continued lush fruits and bits of earth as well. Firm acidity keeps things in check here. Soft tannins help this go down easy. This is a very expressive example of Malbec loaded with layers of fruit. This wine will pair well with roasted meats and hard cheeses to name a few good partners.
The Chateau Paul Mas 2011 Clos de Savignac was produced from fruit sourced at a single vineyard within Languedoc. This offering blends together Mourvèdre (50%), Syrah (30%), and Grenache (20%). This selection has a suggested retail price of $27. Aromas of violets and white pepper lead the nose of this blend. Blackberry and blueberry play key roles on the palate with black raspberry present as well. Black cherry and rhubarb characteristics emerge on the finish along with leather, espresso and baker’s chocolate. Firm, chewy tannins and acidity are present here. This blend of three classic varieties has substantial depth of palate and generous length and overall complexity for its price point. In its youth this wine will pair best with substantial foods.
This is a distinct trio of wines from a couple of different tiers in the Domaines Paul Mas line that shares some similarities. Each of the wines is balanced and proportionate. These are grapes that have thrived in France for years but the style here tilts towards the new world while not quite tipping all the way over. They’re eminently drinkable, food friendly and well priced for the quality they represent. Both the Pinot Noir and the Malbec are delicious now and will drink well for the next several years. The Clos de Savignac is a touch on the young side right now. Decanting it for an hour or so is recommended for immediate consumption. However patience will be rewarded. Lay it down for 5 or so years and it will be even more expressive and lovely. These wines are well worth seeking out. In particular if you’re drinking a lot of new world wines and are looking for a bridge back to the old world, these will get you there rather deliciously.
Posted by Gabe on August 16, 2013
Certain things in the wine world hit my sweet spot. That could certainly be particular grapes or styles of wine. But one thing that hits my sweet spot almost every time is a solid value. I’m a firm believer that at any price point a wine can be a value for the quality and style it represents in its category. However in this case I’m talking about everyday values. This is a huge category of wine; numerous categories lumped together at times actually, aimed at people’s everyday drinking budget. Wine lovers are always on the hunt for something that tastes good, offers some depth and doesn’t cost a ton. Trouble is that the vast category of everyday value contains lots of unpleasant or at the very least anonymous wines. We’ve all had them, you take a sip, then another and all you can do is confirm, “yup that’s wine.” What that represents to me is sadness, because there are lots of delicious wines available that are well made and offer excellent value. Here’s a look at a terrific one in the most difficult category of all in my opinion, value priced Pinot Noir.
The Brancott Estate 2011 Marlborough Pinot Noir was produced from fruit sourced in the namesake region. This wine is entirely Pinot Noir. The vines used represent a handful of different Pinot Noir clones allowing for a broader flavor profile. After harvesting the fruit was destemmed and cold soaked for four days prior to fermentation utilizing an array of yeast strains. This Pinot was aged over four months in a combination of stainless steel and oak. This wine is widely available around the country and has a suggested retail price of $12.99. However it often sells for closer to $10, so shop around.
Wild strawberry and mushroom aromas abound on the nose of this Pinot Noir. Subtler hints of black cherry are present as well. The palate is gentle and layered with a host of both red and black cherry flavors. An undercurrent of spices plays off of these and offers a nice counterpoint. Rhubarb, bits of earth, black tea and minerals are all in evidence on the finish which has terrific length for the price point. This wine will pair well a broad array of foods as is typical for well made Pinot Noir. However it also drinks quite beautifully all by itself.
The Brancott 2011 Pinot Noir is an exceptional value. It’s hard to find reasonably good Pinot for under $20 let alone for closer to $10. Here’s on that’s just studded with loads of varietal character. There won’t be any question you’re drinking Pinot Noir here, something that can be a problem in the value category. This wine is excellent now and it’s certainly aimed at early consumption, however don’t hesitate to buy a case and drink it over the next 3 years as it will stand up for awhile. However I doubt a case will last you that long; this is a very appealing wine that you’ll be tempted to share with friends and bring to parties.