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 18, 2014
Portugal’s Quinta Do Vallado has a history that dates back to the 18th century. It’s now in its sixth and seventh generations of stewardship by the Ferreira Family. Their portfolio focuses on dry wines, but as they sit in the Douro, naturally they also make several ports. I recently tasted through much of their current portfolio, as well as some older vintages. I was struck by the quality, drinkability and age-worthiness of their wines as a whole. In addition, I also found that it would be easy to select all the wines for my Thanksgiving table from their offerings. So with Thanksgiving just about a month away, here’s a look at four wines that offer perfect holiday sipping from the moment your guests arrive through the final bite of dessert. Head over to Bullz-Eye.com to read the rest.
Posted in Bullz-Eye.com, Port, Rosé, Tawny, Wine | Leave a Comment »
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 »
Posted by Gabe on August 6, 2013
With summer weather in full swing for weeks now, I’ve been going through more Rosé than ever. That’s partly because my thirst for them increases year after year; in addition to that we see more and more Rosé’s on our shelves from all corners of the globe as time marches on. Here’s a look at two I just tried and really enjoyed.
The Luigi Bosca Finca La Linda 2012 Rosé was produced from fruit sourced in the Mendoza region of Argentina. This offering is 100% Malbec. Fruit for this Rosé was hand picked, sorted and destemmed. Fermentation took place in a temperature controlled stainless steel tanks at cool temperatures. This widely available wine has a suggested retail price of $13. This Rosé has a darker, more vibrant hue than the average. Aromas of wild strawberry jam leap from the nose of this wine. Bright raspberry, cherry and bits of orange characteristics light up the palate with a ton of scrumptious flavors. Vanilla bean, sweet cherry and white pepper notes are all in evidence on the finish which has good length and shows off firm, crispy acidity. This wine will go well with a variety of foods; I found it to be particularly excellent with spicy chicken tacos.
The Castello Monaci Kreos 2012 Rosato was produced from fruit sourced in Italy’s Puglia region. This Rosé is a blend of Negroamaro (90%) and Malvasia Nera di Lecce (10%). The wine was produced using the saignée method. 3,750 cases were produced ans it has a suggested retail price of $16. The color of this wine brings fresh strawberries to mind. Bright cherry aromas spill from the nose of this Rosé with conviction. A bevy of red fruit flavors such as watermelon, raspberry, cherry and strawberry explode on the palate. This is a refreshing and engaging Rosé loaded with curb appeal. Zingy spices and acidity dot the finish. There’s a touch more heft here than the average Rosé which will allow it to marry with slightly bolder foods.
There’s a bit more prime Rosé drinking weather left this summer. Here are two terrific, delicious, and distinct wines that you should consider. Hopefully you’ve already enjoyed a bevy of different Rosé’s this season, if for some reason you haven’t here are a couple of excellent places to start.
Posted in Malbec, Negroamaro, Rosé, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on July 12, 2013
Hecht & Bannier was founded in 2002 by Gregory Hecht and Francois Bannier. They set themselves up in the style of traditional French Negociants with a goal of creating reference point releases in each region they produce wines from. The latest additions to their portfolio are a couple of wines from Provence. Here’s a look at them.
The Hecht & Bannier Côtes de Provence 2012 Rosé was produced from a blend of Grenache (45%), Cinsault (40%) and Syrah (15%). The grapes utilized were sourced at a variety of vineyards, some in the foothills of Montagne Sainte-Victorie and others high altitude vineyards of Haute-Provence. The fruit was picked overnight during cooler hours to assure the preservation of freshness. This wine has a suggested retail price of $18. The light salmon hue of this offering is both beautiful and immediately striking. Engaging floral characteristics emerge from the nose. The palate is fruity, spice, dry, lithe and absolutely lovely. Cherry, strawberry, bits of orange zest and white pepper are all in play from the first sip through the above average finish. This wine goes down easily and it also has the depth and complexity to keep things interesting. It’s really a super appealing wine that you’re going to want to buy a few bottles of as they disappear quick once they’re open.
The Hecht & Bannier 2009 Bandol was produced from a blend of Mourvèdre (80%), Grenache (10%) and Cinsault (10%). After harvesting and fermentation the wine spent 20 months aging in large oak foudre; an additional six months in cement vats followed prior to bottling. This red blend has a suggested retail price of $38. Blackberry, toast and vanilla bean aromas fill the nose of this 2009 red blend. The palate is big and burly, loaded with brawny red and black fruit flavors like blueberry and rhubarb. Spices such as nutmeg and black pepper are present as well as an undercurrent of minerals. Espresso notes and bits of baker’s chocolate emerge on the finish which has excellent length. Leathery tannins and firm acidity are part of this wine’s solid structure. This will pair well with full flavored foods. For best results decent this offering for about 90 minutes so it can express all of its charms.
These wines from Hecht & Bannier represent both solid values which provide plenty of drinking pleasure. Equally as important they’re also fine and genuine representatives of Provence.
Posted in Blends, Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvedre, Rosé, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on May 21, 2013
There are certain wines that hit my desk one vintage after another. It’s generally interesting and instructive to taste a new vintage of a wine to find out about if it’s as good, better or not as good as a previous example. We all have things we love a little more than most and for me excellent dry Rosé is near the top of my list. For several years now Cornerstone Cellars has been making a beautiful Rosé under their Stepping Stone imprint. It’s become one of my favorite new world Rosé’s and a wine I can’t wait to sample each year.
The Stepping Stone by Cornerstone 2012 Corallina Rosé was produced using Napa Valley fruit sourced in the Oak Knoll District. This wine is 100% Syrah. After fermentation this wine spent 5 months in previously used French oak Barrels. Just more than 400 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $20. The gorgeous light pink hue of this wine stands out immediately as you pour it. The nose on this Rosé is like a bowl of fresh, red fruits; wild strawberry and cherry aromas are of particular note. Red fruit flavors star through the palate. Corallina is perfectly dry with engaging, fruity flavors. Savory spices emerge on the finish which has excellent length. In short this wine is lovely, refreshing and delicious. Pair it with light foods or drink it on its own.
The 2012 vintage of this wine is more of the same in the best way possible. It’s another tremendous example of top shelf new world Rosé. It’s totally dry and loaded with engaging fruit and spice flavors. Most importantly perhaps it seductively keeps drawing you back to the glass for additional sips. Before long the entire bottle is gone. If you love dry Rosé, as I do, you owe it to yourself to get your hands on this wine.
Posted in Rosé, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on April 22, 2013
Common perception holds that Rosé’s don’t age well. Sometimes common beliefs are totally wrong and in other cases they become foregone conclusions for a good reason. In the case of Rosé’s longevity the truth is not 100% either of those things. Reality is that very few Rosés are built to age well. Some will hang around and be quite tasty for a couple of years but most go south after that. I’m the sort of person who is perfectly content drinking good, dry Rosé in the middle of winter, so I’m a fan. When the opportunity popped up to taste several vintages of Rosé from Chêne Bleu out of both standard bottle and magnum for some vintages over a meal, how could I resist?
Chêne Bleu is a project that began 20 years back. The husband and wife team of Nicole & Xavier Rolet began restoration of a property in the Southern Rhone that had been lying dormant for many, many years. Their work included restitution of the vineyards which are now farmed sustainably as well as the estate house itself. It was a massive undertaking and took years from start to fruition of their first vintage. They make several other wines such as Viognier, two Red Rhone blends and a White Rhone Blend, but Rosé represents the lion’s share of their production.
The current release is the Chêne Bleu 2012 Rosé. This vintage it was produced from a blend of Grenache (60%), Syrah (35%), and Cinsault (5%). Prior to 2011, they weren’t using Cinsault in this wine yet. The Grenache and Syrah vines utilized have 40 and 30 years of age on them respectively. This wine which was produced using entirely natural methods and finished in screw-cap has a suggested retail price of $28. It’s also available in large format bottles. The Chêne Bleu Rosé has a lovely pale, pink hue, just the sort of color that comes to mind when I daydream about deliciously dry Rosé. This wine has a big nose loaded with gentle red fruit aromas; strawberry and bits of Bing cherry are both in evidence. The palate is gentle and layered with boatloads of flavor. Ref berry flavors dominate with citrus and hints of stone fruit taking part as well. There is crisp acidity and tons of spice such as white pepper and cardamom on a finish that is long and persistent. This wine is absolutely delicious all by itself; however it’s also well suited to pair with a fairly wide array of foods.
A couple things are of particular note having had the chance to taste vintages as far back as the 2007. One is the overriding fact that these wines age well for at least a 5 year period. Another is that the ones poured out of Magnum had some similarities. I found them both to show off a bit more spice and a couple of extra hints of sour fruit on the finish. Unlike the 750 ml bottles, the magnums were finished in cork. Regardless both we quite tasty, but the subtle differences are worth mentioning and looking for if you have a chance to drink them out of different formats
Across the board the Chêne Bleu wines are well made, proportionate offerings that are built to accompany food. Any of them would be welcome on my table at anytime, however I have a special place in my heart for Rosé and now I have a new one to drink regularly. If you love good dry Rosé you should make a special effort to obtain the Chêne Bleu. If for some crazy reason you don’t already love Rosé this could be the wine to turn you. They say every true wine lover eventually falls head over heels for Rose; so why wait, get some Chêne Bleu now.
Posted in Cinsault, Grenache, Rosé, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on October 30, 2012
Some of the Diversity I tasted in Chile
Cabernet Sauvignon was king when I first started drinking Chilean wines some 20 years ago. And not just Cabernet in general, but specifically bargain priced Cabernet. Most wine drinking folks I know rifled through bottles of $6 or so Cabernet Sauvignon looking for gems; we found quite a few. And for many people that’s the lingering impression of Chilean Wine. The trouble is it’s no longer a valid image. Sure you can still find a bargain and some of them are Cabernet Sauvignon, but there is so much more Chilean wine on U.S. shelves deserving your attention and your dollars that it would be a real shame to limit yourself. I knew this before I went to Chile last week. So one of my goals in visiting was to verify it and see what they had going on that might be less obvious from 5,000 miles away. So I’ve compiled a handful of strong impressions of Chilean Wines gleamed from the trenches.
- Argentina gets the attention but Chile makes some ass kicking Malbec: It’s Argentina’s signature grape so they should be at the forefront. In some ways they are, the general public thinks about Argentina first for Malbec. Some of them are terrific, but unfortunately way too many examples are made in an overtly fruit forward style with a lackluster body and no finish to speak of. I was a little surprised with the number of Malbecs I got to taste in Chile. While I knew it was there, its presence is larger than I would have guessed. More importantly the ones I tasted where almost all uniformly well made. By and large they were elegant, balanced and well proportioned. Often times they were made from old vine fruit. I hope we start seeing Chilean Malbec on our shelves in reasonable numbers soon.
- Tiers baby: I’ve often written about wineries like Rodney Strong in Sonoma County whose tiered approach to their portfolio is consumer friendly. This is true in a very large percentage of Chilean Wineries. They often have 3 or 4 tiers of wine. Often the entry-level wines retail for around $10 on our shelves and they have a top-level that might reach into the $30’s and $40’s, as well as occasionally higher. In between are wines in the teens and $20’s. What’s remarkable is that there is more often than not quality, value, and diversity to be had at each tier. In Chile wineries that produce what we view as very large quantities of wine often do so at a high level. One of the main reasons for this is simple: estate fruit. By owning the vineyards outright or having fruit under long-term contract they have a say in precisely how the vineyards are maintained. This can (and often does) lead to high quality in the bottle at each price point. The intent of a producer’s $8 Sauvignon Blanc and their $20 one are often quite different as are their appeals and projected end user. But what’s important is getting value regardless of price; in Chile that is often the case.
- There are some delicious small production wines being made: Sure there are lots and lots of excellent Sauvignon Blancs coming from Chile and some tasty Pinot Noirs now too, but that’s not all. I had the opportunity to taste a delicious and marvelously dry Gewürztraminer made by Nimbus (part of the Santa Carolina Family of wines), as well as a lovely sparkling wine from Cono Sur to name a couple. Viognier is making some ripples in Chile too and hopefully before long we’ll see a greater number of them available in the US as well. I’ve mentioned a few whites but the same can be said for reds. More than one example of varietal Petit Verdot I had was lovely as were a couple of tastes of Carignan. In some cases these wines aren’t on our shelves in the US yet, but they’re important to mention for the coming diversity and quality they represent.
- Blends will set Chile apart: Almost every winemaking culture has some blends. In places like Bordeaux they’re everything. In a lot of other places, well quite frankly they’re doing their best to mimic Bordeaux. Certainly Chile works to make great wine and learning lessons from places like Bordeaux or Napa to name two examples is part of the equation. But I also got the very strong sense that Chile is happy to be writing their own rule book when it comes to blends. Sure some of them contain the usual suspects of Bordeaux varietals. However grapes like Carménère that have been marginalized or fallen by the wayside in Bordeaux often steal the show in Chile. Additionally with red blends Syrah often makes a mark too as well as some others. Some of the most impressive wines from Chile I’ve tasted over the last 5 years have been blends. This remained constant on my trip last week where I tasted lots of delicious blends. It’s important to note that with blends like with varietal wines there are values at many price levels.
- Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon can still be a great value: While there are no longer boatloads of awesome deals on $6 Cabernet Sauvignon there are still many deals to be had. Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile when it’s grown in the right spot and treated properly in the winery can blow away a lot of countries on QPR. What I found on this trip is that the Cabernets in the $15-$25 range were particularly noteworthy in terms of value. These are balanced wines that are often perfect for everyday enjoyment as well as drinking over the next few years. At a higher cost there are some truly age-worthy wines. One example was the Casa Real Cabernet Sauvignon from Santa Rita. We tasted both the current release (2009) and a 15 year old bottle (1997). Jameson Fink, a fellow writer who was on the same trip wrote about this particular experience and it’s well worth a read.
- Diversity is King of Chile now: Everywhere we went there was something unique to taste. In some cases it was a Sparkling Rosé made from an almost lost grape. Sometimes it was a Moscato that stunned us all by how lovely and dry it was. On one occasion it was an Old Vine Sauvignon Gris. These are just a couple of examples. Chilean winemakers are experimenting in the vineyards with new farming techniques as well as plantings of new varietals or the reclamation of abandoned old vineyards. In the Winery they’re also experimenting with how they utilize oak, what they blend together and frankly just about every decision they make. What that means to us is we’re going to get to taste a wide swath of different wines from Chile.
In short I was pretty knocked out by what they have going on in Chile. I’ve really enjoyed drinking the wines from there for a long time now. But in 2012 instead of thinking of them for one thing, I think of Chile for an ever widening variety of different varietals, blends and more. Grab some Chilean wines and taste the quality, value and diversity I was lucky enough to witness firsthand.
Posted in Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chardonnay, Chile, Gewürztraminer, Malbec, Moscato, Rosé, Sparkling Wine, Wine | 1 Comment »
Posted by Gabe on July 3, 2012
Rosé is one of the things in the wine world that I most enjoy about summer. Theoretically they taste just as good in cooler months. However to my lips, when the temperature rises, well made Rosé is even more delicious and tempting. Part of their appeal is their versatility with food. Their refreshing nature and the fact that they feature some of the characteristics of both red and white wines all lend to what makes them cherished by many wine lovers. Today I’ll look at a quartet of current Rosés from California producers.
First up is the Pedroncelli 2011 Dry Rosé of Zinfandel. This Rosé is produced from fruit sourced in the winery’s home appellation of Dry Creek Valley. It’s a 100% varietal wine. Pedroncelli has been making Rosé since the 1950’s. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This wine saw no oak treatment. Just fewer than 1,000 cases were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $11. Aromas of strawberry and raspberry emerge from the welcoming nose of this Rosé. Cherry flavors dominate the palate along with hints of white pepper. Vanilla, and continuing juicy red fruit flavors continue on the crisp and refreshing finish. This a lovely dry Rosé of Zinfandel with some perceived sweetness from all the engaging fruit flavors. This is an excellent choice for a picnic.
Next up is Clayhouse Wines 2011 Adobe Pink. This wine was produced from fruit sourced at the winery’s Red Cedar Vineyard located at the outskirts of Paso Robles. It’s a blend of Mourvedre (38%), Grenache Noir (37%), and Syrah (25%). Harvesting, crushing and processing of the grapes was handled as white varietals would be. Following fermentation in stainless steel, 25% of the wine spent 2 months in neutral oak. 600 cases of this selection were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $14. Bright red fruit aromas and hints of citrus are apparent on the nose of this wine. Strawberry, cherry and bits of vanilla bean are apparent through the palate. This wine is incredibly fruity and juicy with just a touch of sweetness to round things out. Raspberry and continued cherry flavors close things out with bits of spice weaving in and out. This Rosé works particularly well ice cold.
Today’s third wine is the Cornerstone Cellars 2011 Stepping Stone Corallina Syrah Rosé. The fruit for this wine was sourced in the Oak Knoll appellation within Napa Valley. This offering was produced entirely from Syrah. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel followed by 5 months of aging in neutral French oak. 455 cases of the Corallina were produced and it has a suggested retail price of $20. The Corallina Rosé from Cornerstone opens with a highly engaging and deeply perfumed nose. Red and black cherries are joined by a crush of spices including vanilla bean. The palate is loaded with continued red fruit characteristics including strawberries, cherries, hints of green herbs and a crush of spices led by nutmeg and white pepper. This wine is crisp, dry and refreshing. The finish shows off wisps of sour red fruits and a touch of crème fraiche. This is an very nice example of Rosé from Napa Valley and it will be an excellent partner to a wide array of summer foods.
Today’s final wine is the V. Sattui Winery 2011 North Coast Rosato. This wine is a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignane. Fermentation took place with select yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel. This Rosé is available directly from the winery for $21.75. The first thing you’ll notice about the V. Sattui Rosé is that it has a slightly darker hue than the average. Made up of classic varietals the nose of this wine leaps from the glass with rich, red fruit aromas. Strawberry, red plum and a hint of red apple are apparent on the palate along with a bit of quince. Bright cherry, red raspberry, black and white pepper are all part of the finish which shows off the impression of sweetness due to all the engaging fruit flavors. This wine has a bit more heft than the other Rosé’s above and thus will stand up to some more substantial foods. Anything off of the grill will work perfectly.
This quartet of Rosé’s should keep your taste buds lit up all summer long. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing glass of wine to enjoy on your deck or something to pair with the foods of summer, I urge you to enjoy some Rosé this summer.
Posted in Carignane, Grenache, Mourvedre, Rosé, Syrah/Shiraz, Wine, Zinfandel | 1 Comment »
Posted by Gabe on December 5, 2011
I love Rosé. There’s something about this style of wine, when it’s well done that appeals to me on a deep level. Of course I consume more of it in warm weather months than in fall and winter. However I do find time and desire to drink it in the colder months, particularly if it’s a little bit bigger and bolder a style of Rosé. Today I’ll look at an example from Argentina that fits perfectly into the profile of the sort of Rosé I enjoy while I’m waiting for the weather to warm back up.
The Michael Torino 2011 Malbec Rosé was produced from fruit sourced in the Cafayate Valley of Argentina. All of the vineyards utilized sit between 3,000 and 5,000 feet above sea level. This selection is 100% Malbec. After a short period of skin contact this wine is fermented and vinified utilizing the same practices employed for their white wines. A short period of aging, roughly five months, takes place prior to release. This wine is widely available for right around $12.
Aromas of red cherry and flowers are prominent on the nose of this Rosé. Tons of wild strawberry, cherry and bits of pepper are apparent through the full flavored and fruit forward palate. The bright fruit flavors continue through the finish along with a hint of vanilla bean. This wine is very refreshing with good acidity. This Malbec Rosé is made to be paired with food. It has a bit of extra heft allowing it to stand up to a wider array of cuisines than the average Rosé. If you’re drinking this in the cooler months, I’d recommend only putting a slight chill on it.
Posted in Malbec, Rosé, Wine | Leave a Comment »