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 11, 2014
Benziger Family Winery located in the heart of Sonoma County has been at the forefront of sustainable farming for years. They’re certified as such; they also employ Biodynamic practices. They make a wide range of wines in varying quantities and styles. One common denominator is their quest to allow the grapes to shine. Here’s a look at three current releases.
Benziger Family Winery 2012 North Coast Sauvignon Blanc – Suggested Retail Price $15. The fruit for this wine came from several vineyards within the North Coast appellation. It was aged completely in stainless steel drums on its lees. Big lemon zest aromas light up the nose of this Sauvignon Blanc. Tropical fruit underlies tons of citrus, green apple and a hint of grass on the substantially flavorful palate along with wisps of sage and thyme. The clean, crisp and refreshing finish is studded with racy acidity, spices such as cardamom and a gentle hint of salinity. Benziger’s North Coast Sauvignon Blanc is a killer value for the money. This is a wine loaded with varietal typicity which will complement light foods or work well as an aperitif. Increasingly the North Coast appellation is a great source for appealing Sauvignon Blanc. This example is certainly proof of that.
Benziger Family Winery 2012 Sonoma County Merlot – Suggested Retail Price $19. The fruit for this wine was sourced from several areas within Sonoma County. After cold soaking, various fermentation lengths and temperatures, barrel aging took place over 16 months in a combination of French and American oak. Red cherry blossoms and Mexican Vanilla Bean aromas are both heavily in evidence on the agreeable nose of this Merlot. A ton of round, juicy, red fruit flavors fill the palate here. Bits of kirsch are present as well. The finish is velvety with black cherry, dark chocolate and earth in droves. The problem with a lot of Merlot under $20 is that it’s hard to peg as Merlot. Too much if it simply tastes like generic red wine. That’s far from an issue here. This is very much a Merlot, one that Cabernet lovers will appreciate too. It’s going to be hard to beat at this price point.
Benziger Family Winery 2012 Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon – Suggested Retail Price $20. The Cabernet was sourced from both mountain and benchland vineyards throughout Sonoma County. After fermentation it was aged in barrel for 16 months. A bevy of spices, earth and toast aromas present on the nose of this Cabernet. Blackberry and cherry flavors dominate the full bodied palate. Espresso, black tea, and earth are all present on the finish which has solid length. Medium tannins and firm acid provide a nice backbone. For $20 this Cabernet Sauvignon is perfectly suited, and fairly priced for everyday consumption.
This trio of wines from Benziger Family Winery is well priced. More importantly though these wines reflect both a sense of place respective to their appellations and lots of typical varietal character. Whether in this price range or if you’re looking for premium offerings, wines with the Benziger name provide genuine character and relative value. Trust them with your wine dollars.
Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc | 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 September 17, 2014
If you’re a regular wine drinker and, like most of us, operating on some sort of budget, Rodney Strong Vineyards is a name you should know. They are one of Sonoma County’s most important wineries, if you ask me; perhaps that seems like a bold statement, but the evidence backs it up. Year after year they provide consistent quality and often over-deliver on value for the price in question for a specific bottle of wine. Add the fact that they do this in numerous price tiers from the $10 range all the way up to wines in the $75 range. And as importantly as any of that, they dependably turn out wines that are emblematic of their home in Sonoma County. Here’s a look at a number of their current releases from several tiers in their portfolio. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Posted in Alexander Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Red Blends, Russian River Valley, Sauvignon Blanc, The Daily Meal, Wine, Zinfandel | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on August 25, 2014
Hall Napa Valley currently produces about 120,000 cases of wine per year. They have been making wine in Napa since they opened their winery in 2005. Just this spring, the Halls launched a new facility in St. Helena. This new winery and tasting room was built on a site that has a 150-year history in Napa Valley wine making. The Halls still maintain their original, intimate location in Rutherford and continue to make some wines there, but the new facility allows them to host a variety of events as well as have more people visit and taste wine on a daily basis. On a recent trip to Napa Valley I stopped at Hall St. Helena, toured their new facility and grounds, and of course tasted through their current portfolio. Here are some wines from their Napa Valley collection that I enjoyed. These selections are widely available all over the country. Head over to Bullz-Eye.com to read the rest.
Posted in Bullz-Eye.com, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on July 3, 2014
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Concha y Toro is the largest winery in Chile. The depth and variety of their portfolio spans many styles, price-points, and varietals. They employ several winemakers; each focuses on a different tier of wines. I recently had lunch with Marcelo Papa at Haven’t Kitchen. He’s the Concha y Toro winemaker responsible, among others, for the Marqués de Casa Concha line. These offerings are single vineyard, site-specific wines. Over lunch we tasted a number of the selections in this range, each paired with a food that showcased a different global influence. The goal was to highlight the ability of their wines to pair with cuisine of various styles from all over the world. If wine pairing is performance, this was a tour de force showing. The foods prepared by Concha y Toro executive chef Ruth Van Waerebeek worked fabulously with Marcelo’s wines. Prior to sitting down to lunch we tasted a few newly launched wines outside the Marques line. Here are the six wines from this afternoon that really struck a chord with me. Read the rest over at The Daily Meal
Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chardonnay, Pedro Jimenez, Sauvignon Blanc | Tagged: The Daily Meal | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Gabe on July 1, 2014
Concha y Toro is the largest winery in Chile. The depth and variety of their portfolio spans many styles, price-points, and varietals. They employ several winemakers; each focuses on a different tier of wines. I recently had lunch with Marcelo Papa at Haven’t Kitchen. He’s the Concha y Toro winemaker responsible, among others, for the Marqués de Casa Concha line. These offerings are single vineyard, site-specific wines. Over lunch we tasted a number of the selections in this range, each paired with a food that showcased a different global influence. The goal was to highlight the ability of their wines to pair with cuisine of various styles from all over the world. If wine pairing is performance, this was a tour de force showing. The foods prepared by Concha y Toro executive chef Ruth Van Waerebeek worked fabulously with Marcelo’s wines. Prior to sitting down to lunch we tasted a few newly launched wines outside the Marques line. Here are the six wines from this afternoon that really struck a chord with me. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
Posted in Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Chile, Sauvignon Blanc, The Daily Meal, Wine | 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 »
Posted by Gabe on April 1, 2014
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…
Posted in New Zealand, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc | 1 Comment »
Posted by Gabe on November 21, 2013
As strong as Pinot Noir from New Zealand has come on the last decade or so, Sauvignon Blanc remains its signature grape. Brancott Estate is one of the largest producers of Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Their portfolio contains several tier designations which feature among other grapes, Sauvignon Blanc at each level of course. In addition to those wines they’ve decided to create a Sauvignon Blanc that in a sense stands atop everything else; in short an Icon wine. This new offering is called Chosen Rows.
Last week in New York City, they hosted a launch dinner for the wine and I had the opportunity to taste it with their chief winemaker Patrick Materman. We sampled Chosen Rows alongside seven other well regarded Sauvignon Blancs from key regions of the world. After that tasting we sampled other offerings in the Brancott portfolio along with our dinner. I kept a glass of the Chosen Rows in front of me all night and repeatedly went back to it alongside my meal. Tasting it in a flight is one experience, pairing it with food another. Here’s a look at Chosen Rows.
The Brancott Estate 2010 Chosen Rows Sauvignon Blanc is a limited release wine. This offering was produced from fruit which was hand harvested. All of it came from select rows of vines that are part of the area Brancott first planted to Sauvignon Blanc almost 40 years ago. This selection is limited to a grand total 3,500 bottles which are hand numbered. It has a suggested retail price of $65. Gooseberry and grapefruit aromas are dominant on the nose of this Sauvignon Blanc. The palate is gentle and layered with oodles of depth and complexity which present themselves to your taste buds in one tender wave after another. The unctuous fruit flavors are joined by a pleasing touch of savory green herb. This wine has tremendous persistence and an excellent finish which goes on for an impressively noticeable time. Continued citrus fruits, bits of grass and white pepper spice are all in play as things come to a close. On its own this Sauvignon Blanc is delicious and mouthwatering. When it’s paired with the right foods it’s downright ethereal.
The Sauvignon Blancs we sampled from other producers were all interesting in their own right and many of them were wines that have quite a following; Merry Edwards from Sonoma County and New Zealand’s own Cloudy Bay being just two examples. The wines on the table had suggested retail prices that ranged from $50 to $150. So Chosen Rows was showcased alongside very good company. Chosen Rows was quite easily my favorite among the group of eight high end Sauvignon Blancs. During dinner we tasted some other SB’s as well as a Pinot Noir. I enjoyed each to varying degrees; however Chosen Rows remained the star of the night. To sum up it’s amongst the very best handful of Sauvignon Blancs I’ve tasted it 2013. Its production is limited so it’s a wine you’re going to need to make an effort to find. If you love Sauvignon Blanc though you owe it to yourself to taste Brancott Estate Chosen Rows, it’s a special wine.
Posted in Sauvignon Blanc, Wine | Leave a Comment »