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 February 23, 2014
A few weeks back I was at the Australia Today Trade Show in New York City. While there, I had the opportunity to sample a wide array of wines coming out of Australia. Most of them were current releases, in a few cases there were some older vintages being showcased during a sit down seminar. Most obvious when tasting a wide swath of Aussie releases is the diversity and breadth of the offerings. This is true both in terms of grape varietals and style of finished wines. If overripe Shiraz is your only image of Australian wine, you’re in for a stunning and pleasant surprise. There are wines of all shapes and sizes being made in Australia. Here’s a look at a couple of selections from the event that really stood out.
Running With Bulls 2012 Tempranillo - This wine from the Barossa Valley and it sells for around $17. Aromas of violets and plum leap from the effusive nose of this wine. Cherry characteristics lead a grab bag of warming red fruits and spices on the plate of the Running With Bulls Tempranillo. The finish is above average in length and persistent. Red fruits continue along with bits of earth and leather. This is a well balanced wine that will excel with hard cheeses and pretty much anything that comes off of your grill. It’s a solid example of Tempranillo that shows how adaptable this varietal can be to a region like the Barossa Valley which is so different from its more native Rioja.
St Hallett Old Block 2010 Shiraz - This Barossa Valley Shiraz sells for around $80. This Shiraz shows off a deep, dark hue that is stunning in the glass. Violets and spice lead a welcoming nose. The palate is succulent and juicy. It’s layered with black plum, black raspberry, and cassis. Minerals and earth lead a dense, structured finish that has great length and depth. Black fruits continue their prominence along with pepper and bits of dusty cocoa. This is a classic example of Shiraz; it’s loaded with bold, fruity flavor. Pair it with equally bold, full flavored foods.
Peter Lehmann 1999 Stonewell Shiraz - This Shiraz is a library selection and as such isn’t widely available anymore. However it is more than worth mentioning because it showcases the ability of Australian wines in general and Shiraz in particular to age well under the right conditions. Those conditions of course include the right vintages as well as stylistic choices made when picking grapes and producing the wine. A bit of chocolate sauce leads the nose here along with Kirsch Liqueur. The palate is studded with a seemingly endless array of cherry characteristics, both red and black. At 15 years old there are still loads of fruit here and it shows itself off in a rich, powerful way. It’s muscular and shows off earth that goes alongside the fruit, but it’s also controlled in intensity. All of these elements continue through the persistent finish. It would be a brilliant match for pasta with Wild Boar Ragu, or Pot Roast to name a couple of options.
Shadow Chaser 2012 Grenache - This Grenache is from McLaren Vale and it sells for around $15. The fruit came from two vineyards with over 40 years of age on each. After fermentation it was aged entirely in stainless steel tanks prior to bottling. Raspberry, and strawberry aromas fill the nose of this wine. These red fruits continue through the palate where they’re joined by bits of red cherry and a copious amount of spices. Cinnamon, clove and black pepper are all in evidence. Rhubarb, sour cherries and glycerin notes all emerge in the finish which has above average length for the price category. Grenache can make some of the food friendliest wines in the world. This example certainly fits that bill. It’ll pair with a wide array foods and it’s a terrific value as well.
These wines represent a tiny window into some of the great things being done in Australia today. The breadth and variety is very impressive. There are offerings at every conceivable price point coming out of Australia that represent solid or better values. If you haven’t had any Australian wines in awhile, now is a good time to dive back in, we’re seeing greater diversity on US shelves than ever before.
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Posted by Gabe on May 1, 2012
The Campo Viejo 2004 Gran Reserva was produced from a blend of Tempranillo (85%), Graciano (10%), and Mazuelo (5%).Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel. Maceration on the skins lasted about 20 days. Barrel aging took place over 24 months in a combination of French (80%) and American (20%) oak. After being bottled this wine was aged for an additional 3 years prior to release. This Gran Reserva from Rioja is widely available and most often found for right around $20.
Cherry blossoms, tobacco leaf and a subtle hint of vanilla bean lead a gorgeous and heavily perfumed nose. Strawberry and cherry characteristics are the stars of an impeccably layered, complex and exquisite palate that is just stacked with red fruit flavors. Black pepper and cardamom are the most prominent spices present. Raspberry, pomegranate and cranberry fruit along with hints of leather and white pepper emerge on the finish which has terrific length. This wine is firmly structured and has excellent acidity.
One of the great things about Gran Reservas from Rioja is that the winery is automatically patient for you. This wine from Campo Viejo could certainly be held for a number of years, but when you consider how marvelously it’s drinking right now; there simply isn’t any good reason to wait. This is an outstanding wine that represents a very nice value. There are plenty of good values coming out of Rioja and Spain as a whole, that said this Gran Reserva stand outs as a particularly good deal at around $20.
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Posted by Gabe on February 6, 2012
The Campo Viejo 2010 Tempranillo was produced from fruit sourced in several distinct areas within Rioja. This wine is 100% Tempranillo. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Barrel aging occurred over four months in American oak. It was also bottle aged prior to release. This wine is widely available and has a suggested retail price of $9.99.
Cherry, coriander and vanilla aromas fill the nose of this 2010 Tempranillo. Raspberry, black cherry and red plum flavors are all in evidence throughout the palate. They’re accompanied by copious spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper. Earth, hints of dusty cocoa, rhubarb and a touch of kirsch liqueur emerge on the finish which has good length. Firm acidity frames the entire wine and helps make it a standout partner for a wide array of foods. Whether you’re enjoying something as simple as cheese plate or as involved as a slow cooked roast this Tempranillo will serve as an excellent accompaniment.
Spanish wines have held a spot on US shelves for a very long time now. The wines of Rioja specifically have been here longer than those of other regions. As time has passed we have also seen more and more Spanish offerings that are in the premium and super premium categories. That’s been a real boon for those of us who love Spanish wine. Just as importantly we continue to see terrific value wines that most people can reasonably afford on a regular basis. You can count this Tempranillo from Campo Viejo amongst their number. If you’re looking for a Rioja as a house wine this offering is a solid bet.
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Posted by Gabe on December 8, 2011
Bodegas Muriel was founded close to 30 years ago in the Rioja region of Spain. While many Rioja producers blend small quantities of other local varietals into their red wines, Bodegas Muriel is one of those that use Tempranillo exclusively. Today I’ll look at two of their current releases.
The Bodegas Muriel 2005 Crianza was produced from fruit sourced in the Rioja region of Spain. This selection is 100% Tempranillo. The vines in question have a median age of 30 years on them. Fermentation took place over 20 days in temperature controlled stainless steel. Barrel aging took place over 12 months in American oak. 1,700 cases of this offering were imported to the US and it has a suggested retail price of $16.99.
Wild Strawberry and rose petal aromas are both prominent on the nose of this 2005 Crianza from Bodegas Muriel. This wine has full, weighty palate that features tons of tremendous fruit characteristics, cherry in particular. Pepper spice and bits of anise are present as well. Black tea and raspberry flavors emerge on the finish which has good length. This wine is really round and smooth with supple, yielding tannins and fine acidity. Bodegas Muriel is a fine example of Crianza that is well priced and suited for regular consumption.
The Bodegas Muriel 20005 Reserva was produced using fruit sourced at two vineyards in Rioja; Alta and Rioja Alavesa. The Vines have an average age of 40 years on them. This wine is 100% Tempranillo. Fermentation took place over a 25 day period in temperature controlled stainless steel. Barrel aging occurred over 24 months in a combination of French and American oak. 600 cases of this wine were imported and it has a suggested retail price of $19.99.
Cherry, wild strawberry and plum aromas are all present on the heady nose of this 2005 Reserva. The palate is fresh and lively with red fruit flavors taking center stage. Cassis and fruitcake spices lead the finish which has hints of black fruits interspersing with the continuing red fruits. Earth and chicory are present as well. This wine has firm tannins, terrific acidity and above average length. This is a charming Reserva, particularly in the under $20 price-point.
Both of these wines from Bodegas Muriel are fine examples of Rioja. They’re well priced for their quality level and will drink nicely for a number of years. As with many well made Rioja’s these wines will shine when paired with food.
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Posted by Gabe on October 9, 2011
Rioja is the most recognizable name in Spanish wine. Over the last decade many other Spanish regions have made inroads on US shelves, many of them producing distinguished wines. However for many, me included, it’s the wines of Rioja we first think of when Spain comes to mind. The wins of Rioja hit our shores with some age already on them and they’re generally terrific values; what’s not to like. Today I’ll look at the current release of a Gran Reserva from Montecillo, one of the first Spanish producers to hit my radar when I started pursuing wines from Spain about 15 years ago.
The Montecillo 2003 Gran Reserva was produced from fruit sourced in the Rioja Alta region of Spain. This offering is 100% Tempranillo. After picking the fruit was transported to the winery in small crates. Fermentation took place in a temperature controlled environment. After Malolactic fermentation the wine was racked and transferred to barrel. Oak aging occurred over a period of 24 months in untoasted French barrels. Several years of bottle aging followed prior to release. This offering has a suggested retail price of $25.
Dark berry fruit, herbs, toast and rose petal aromas all waft with conviction from the nose of this 2003 Gran Reserva. Both red and black cherries appear in droves forming the core of this Rioja’s palate. Copious quantities of spices such as black pepper and nutmeg appear as well. Espresso and earth notes are joined by bits of licorice and kirsch liqueur on the finish which has terrific length and persistence. Firm tannins and acidity provide structure and balance. This wine is quite tasty by itself but really shines when paired with food, roasted meats in particular.
This wine from Montecillo is a classic example of a Gran Reserva. It represents a tremendous value due to the excellent complexity and length of palate it demonstrates. This wine is absolutely delicious now but there’s no rush to drink it; this wine will age effortlessly in your cellar for the next decade or so.
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Posted by Gabe on July 18, 2011
The El Coto de Rioja 2010 Rioja Rosado was produced using fruit sourced at estate vineyards. El Coto which was founded in 1975 has 500 hectares under vine. This offering is a 50/50 blend of Garancha and Tempranillo. This wine sits on the skin for 48 hours followed by cold fermentation. This offering has a suggested retail price of $10.
Aromas of strawberry, cherry and watermelon burst from the nose of this 2010 Rosé. The palate is exceptionally juicy and vibrant; it’s loaded with fresh red fruits. Strawberry, cherry, raspberry and watermelon are all present. Rhubarb and sweet black cherry flavors emerge on the finish as well as white pepper. This wine is incredibly refreshing and will pair well with an incredibly wide array of foods. It’s also delicious on its own.
When it comes to Rosés for summer 2011, this example from El Coto in Rioja is going to be hard to beat for the money. If you look around you can easily find this wine for less than $10. For that price it offers lots of value. The fresh fruit flavors are sure to be crowd pleasing and the refreshing nature of this wine, which is supported by racy acidity, makes it a great bet for outdoor entertaining. Just yesterday I attended a party where I was asked to bring the wine. I brought a full case of this very Rosé and everyone was quite happy. One partygoer told me that she normally only drank Pinot Grigio but that this wine has convinced her to try other things. It only takes one terrific Rosé to convert the non-believers. Try the El Coto it may do the same for you.
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Posted by Gabe on November 29, 2010
Spain has quite a number of producers with lengthy histories as family wineries. One of those is the Osbornes. Rocio Osborne is a member of the 6th generation of that family in the wine business and he produces wines under the Tempra Tantrum label. The wines under this label are blends that use Tempranillo at their heart. Today I’ll look at a new release that blends it with Shiraz.
The Tempra Tantrum 2009 Tempranillo/Shiraz was produced using fruit from the Osborne Family Estate in Malpica de Tajo. This is located approximately an hour from Madrid. This offering blends 60% Tempranillo and 40% Shiraz. Fermentation took place at cool temperatures followed by micro-oxygenation and minimal bottle aging. This offering has a suggested retail price of $11.99.
Aromas of dried red fruit and black pepper fill the nose of this 2009 Spanish blend. Cherry, blackberry and huckleberry flavors are all on display throughout the palate which is vibrant and full of flavor. Hints of smoked meat emerge on the finish along sour red fruits that have a bit of a savory edge. This wine is soft and lush with sufficient acidity.
This blend from Tempra Tantrum is made to be enjoyed in its youth. It’s a well priced wine that is suitable for large gatherings or casual evenings at home. It has the flavor profile to stand up to heartier foods, but is also proportionate enough to pair with medium flavored ones as well. For less than $12 this is an interesting blend which provides good value.
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Posted by Gabe on October 20, 2010
When I first started drinking Spanish wine, most of what I explored was from Rioja. Many of them, Tempranillo based wines. As time has gone on of course I’ve looked to numerous other Spanish wine regions; not to mention a host of other grape varieties. Rioja however retains a special significance for me. Today I’ll look at a new release from Palacios Remondo that blends three classic varieties.
The Palacios Remondo 2007 La Montesa was produced using fruit sourced at estate vineyards which sit at an altitude of 1,800 feet. The vines have an average age of 22 years. This offering is a blend of Garnacha (60%), Tempranillo, (35%), and Mazuelo (5%). All of the fruit for this wine was handpicked and clusters were hand selected twice. After fermentation barrel aging occurred over 12 months in a combination of new and used French (85%) and American (15%) oak. This wine has a suggested retail price of $19.99.
Blackberry, plum and vanilla characteristics are present in the nose and accompany bold and enticing crushed cherry aromas which appear in spades. Throughout the palate berry fruit and spice flavors are underscored by flourishes of orange syrup and wisps of apricot, Rhubarb, white pepper and dusty, dark baker’s chocolate notes emerge with conviction in the above average finish. Lush tannins and firm acidity provide excellent structure.
I sampled this wine on its own and then later on with food. It worked quite well in both cases. However, these grapes, made in this style really excel at a different level with food. It’s as if the pairing allows the flavors to fire on all cylinders. However you drink this wine, you’ll enjoy it if you like well balanced Spanish wines that show off varietal character and sense of place. This is a very solid value.
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Posted by Gabe on March 2, 2010
I attended the New York Wine Expo this Weekend. Most of the major wine regions of the world were represented; some regions really came out in force. One of these was Spain which had quite an array of producers present. I found a couple that I really liked. One that stood out was Villavid Winery.
The New York Wine Expo featured breakout sessions each day. These presentations took place in a classroom like setting and allowed a producer to spend a nice chunk of time explaining their wines and having them tasted in a quieter atmosphere than the main tasting floor. This method allows for more give and take between those tasting and the winery.
I decided to go to the session for Villavid Winery. Spain was on my mind and they’re a producer I was completely unfamiliar with previously. It turned out that my lack of familiarity is no surprise; Villavid Winery is not yet distributed in the US. This trip to the NY Wine Expo was set up in large part to introduce them to the US Market and find someone to bring the wines in. While they’re new to us, Villavid has a long history. They were founded in 1952 and have been producing wine ever since. They’re located in the La Mancha region of Spain and produce a range of wines. My reflections on what we tasted are as follows:
Blanco Villavid (D.O. Manchelua) – This white wine is a 50/50 blend of Macabeo and Verdejo. This fruit was sourced from vines over 10 years old. This selection was bottled without any oak treatment. Gooseberry, grapefruit and very light vanilla characteristics mark the expressive nose of this wine. There are reference points which bring Sauvignon Blanc to mind. The palate features a host of tropical fruit themes; these are underscored by wisps of grass. This wine is crisp and refreshing. The finish beckons you back to the glass for more. Good acidity and balance are in evidence. This wine will work well as a stand alone aperitif. It will also pair well with lighter foods such as soft cheeses. Goat cheese tarts would be a perfect match.
Rosado Villavid (D.O. Manchuela) – This Rosé was produced using 100% Bobal. This is a varietal indigenous to Spain. This Rosé has a medium hue. It’s a bit darker than the average old world Rosé but lighter than many new world examples. Candied cherry in the nose is underpinned by light hints of tangerine. The palate is a bowl of fresh berry fruit; cherry takes the lead. White pepper complements the berry and leads to the finish. A hint of orange emerges and lingers nicely along with continuing spice, berry and some welcome savory notes to close things out. This wine has good balance and will work well with many lighter foods and some medium bodied ones as well.
Tinto Tempranillo Joven Villavid (D.O. Manchuela) – This wine was produced using 100% Cencibel which is the local name for Tempranillo. It was produced using fruit from vines over 35 years old. This selection spent 12 months in French oak. A deep, dark, purple hue makes this a striking selection from the first pour. Cherry notes tell the main story of this wine from the first whiff to the last sip. Along the way the palate is fruity, fresh and bright with sweet plums, blueberries and wild strawberry joining the cherry. The finish is medium in length and this wine has good acidity and nice balance. This offering is tasty on its own but will shine when paired with grilled meats.
Reserva Villavid (D.O. Manchuela) – This wine was produced using 100% Bobal. The fruit was selected from vines with over 30 years of age. Aging was accomplished over 12 months in two year old American oak barrels. Cedar and mulled berry notes mark the subtle but emerging nose of this wine. Dark berry fruit is persistent throughout the palate. The finish features a nice complement of sour berry and savory fruit notes. This offering is persistent and hangs on for a nice length of time.
As I stated above these wines have yet to become available in the US marketplace. I hope that changes soon. The offerings I tasted will range in price from about $10 to $20. The Blanco and Rosé will likely be closer to $10 and the Tempranillo and Reserva closer to $20. Each of them represents good or excellent values. They are distinct and individual but also uniform in things like balance and overall style. Look for them on a shelf near you, soon.
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Posted in Blends, Bobal, Tempranillo | 1 Comment »