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 »
Posted by Gabe on November 4, 2014
San Luis Obispo is almost exactly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s close to the ocean and near another Central Coast region, Paso Robles. I recently sat down and tasted through a diverse package of wines that hail from there, and in addition to the excellent quality, what really stood out was the diversity. Not only are they making some terrific wines in San Luis Obispo, they’re also utilizing varietals that you don’t see very much of in California that fit in perfectly alongside excellent bottles of California’s usual suspects. To read the rest, head over to The Daily Meal.
Posted in Albariño, Chardonnay, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Noir, San Luis Obispo, Syrah/Shiraz | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on November 2, 2014
For more than 30 years the Trione Family has been growing and selling grapes in Sonoma County from their own property, as well as vineyards they manage. Almost a decade ago they launched Trione Vineyards & Winery to bottle their own wines. Scot Covington, their founding winemaker, brought winemaking experience in Sonoma County and elsewhere to the table as well as winery building and design knowledge. Over the last few years, I’ve been impressed with the quality and value their releases represent. They make Estate wines that represent two distinct appellations within Sonoma County: Russian River Valley and Alexander Valley. Here’s a look at the most recent releases from their 115-acre property located in the heart of the Russian River Valley. All three wines are 100 percent varietal. Head over to Bullz-Eye.com to read the rest.
Posted in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on October 16, 2014
When you take all the different grapes and styles into account, the diversity coming out of Italy can make your head spin with delight. Despite the variety, Barolo and Barbera remain among the most recognizable. Attilio Ghisolfi features both of those, and more, in their portfolio. The original nine acres of land that Attilio Ghisolfi farms for their wines have been in the family since 1895. However, it wasn’t until 1988 when they added another 21 acres that they began to make wine under their own label. I sat down recently over lunch at Arno in Manhattan and tasted through both their current offerings and a handful of older Library releases. Here’s a look at a few of my favorites. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Posted in Barbera, Barolo, Pinot Noir, The Daily Meal | Leave a Comment »
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*
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
9 Tbsp Olive Oil +
½ tsp Red Pepper Flakes
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 »
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 »