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 by Gabe on December 17, 2014
Posted by Gabe on December 15, 2014
If you’re not sure what to get someone as a gift this year, consider a good bottle of wine or spirits —‚ always in season. Anyone who drinks alcohol will certainly appreciate a well-chosen bottle to enjoy, be it alone or with friends (my hope is that it’s with you). Throughout the year, I’ve tasted a number of the best bottles in both the wine and spirit categories and compiled a list of my 24 favorites — any of which would make excellent gifts for a variety of budgets. A few of the bottles are particularly great values, while others are luxury beverages that will really impress the lucky person who receives them; no matter the price, every selection in this guide is delicious and well made. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
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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 by Gabe on November 23, 2014
Mionetto IL Prosecco D.O.C. Prosecco. This offering is made entirely of Glera. All of the fruit is sourced in the Veneto. After pressing the must was separated from the skins. Secondary fermentation took place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks using the Charmat method. This wine is finished with a crown cap rather than a cork. The cap is a traditional closure for Prosecco in the Veneto. The suggested retail price is $14. Mionetto, which was founded in 1887, make 5 distinct Prosecco’s and works with many small farmers in the area.
This is an impeccably fresh Prosecco from the word go. Apple, spice and white flower aromas emanate from the lively nose. Bartlett pear, Gala apple, hints of stone fruit and a host of spices fill the palate which is has lots of flavor. Lemon curd, brioche and white pepper are all in evidence on the finish which lingers persistently.
I love the look of the bottle including the crown cap. It lends an air of ease and casual fun to this wine. But the visuals would be unimportant if the contents of the bottle weren’t so delicious. It’s really tasty by itself as an aperitif or welcome wine but it would also be an excellent choice for brunch. While it’s loaded with appealing flavors there is also an inherent lightness to the body that makes it easy to keep drinking. Chill a couple, the first one will be gone before you know it.
Posted by Gabe on November 22, 2014
Olivier Leflaive started his winery 30 years ago with the help of a few family members. His extended family has been in Puligny Montarecht for almost 300 years. Franck Grux their winemaker has been leading the charge since 1988. Franck has helped them build relationships with growers and their stock in trade has been producing wines from numerous small villages in the area. Additionally they have acquired numerous parcels in the area totaling 15 hectares.
The Olivier Leflaive 2012 Bourgogne Blanc Les Sétilles is composed entirely of Chardonnay. The fruit comes from two distinct villages, each representing almost exactly half of the wine. Within those two villages fruit was sourced from a number of more specific sites. 60% of the wine was aged in oak, 10% of that was new. The remaining 40% was aged in stainless steel. This offering has a suggested retail price of $25.
This wine exudes a freshness that is readily apparent from the first whiff. Asian pear aromas waft from the nose along with hints of Anjou pear and Lodi apple. Granny Smith apple leads the substantial palate which shows off a solid core of minerals and spice. Wisps of apricot and a little hint of white peach are present as well. The long and lingering finish features limestone, continued apple characteristics and subtle but consistent spices. As soon as you down a sip, your’re going to want to go back for another.
This well priced Burgundy really over delivers in it’s price category. The freshness and pure Chardonnay character are what stand out most to me. Add in the elegant mouth feel and substantial finish, and you have a real winner that should satisfy most any Burgundy lover. This would be an excellent wine to gift to a California Chardonnay lover for a change of pace.
Posted by Gabe on November 21, 2014
Thanksgiving is less than a week away! That means we all need some wine to serve our guests or ourselves, preferably both. Spending top dollar to get good wines is fairly simple. Finding value driven offerings that get the job done is a bit more challenging. Here are some delicious selections that will work well for your Thanksgiving meal. With one exception they all clock in under $25. Even at lower price points it’s nice to have one splurge wine to consider.
Espirit du Rhone 2013 Cotes du Rhone AOC ($11.99)
This wine blends together Grenache (60%), Syrah 30%), Carignan (5%), and Cinsault (5%). 1,000 cases of this wine have been imported to the US. Hints of anise and rhubarb aromas present on the nose here. The palate is studded with purple fruits, dry currants and Montmorency cherry. Bits of finely ground espresso join nutmeg and cinnamon on the finish. Medium tannins soften with a little bit of air. This acid rich, food friendly wine will pair with everything on your Thanksgiving table.
Decopas 2013 Malbec ($12)
All of the fruit for this wine comes from the Mendoza region of Argentina. It’s comprised entirely of estate bottled Malbec. This deeply colored hue of this wine is striking in the glass. Plum, violet, and a little hint of vanilla bean wafts from the appealing nose. The palate is loaded with sumptuous and juicy black fruit flavors such as blackberry and raspberry. Bay leaf characteristics, sour black cherry and a hint of dark chocolate mark the lip smacking finish. Decopas Malbec will pair well hard cheeses, meat based stuffing, ham and the bird itself. Decant this one for an hour and it’ll really pop.
Esporão Verdelho ($12.99)
The fruit for this wine was sourced from vines with an average age of 10 years on them. It’s composed entirely of Verdelho. It was fermented in a temperature controlled environment, stabilized, filtered and bottled without any oak influence. Hints of lemon and lots of fleshy yellow melon jump from the nose here. The palate has loads of green apple flavors, more citrus and lemon characteristics, as well as a dollop of white pepper. Grapefruit and lemon zest light up the crisp and refreshing finish. Hand your guests a glass of this when they walk through the door on Thanksgiving, they may drink it all day and never switch to red.
Georges Dubeouf Chateau les Capitans Julienas 2011 ($18.99)
All of the fruit for this wine was picked by hand. It’s composed entirely of Gamay. It was fermented in a temperature controlled environment using native yeast. Red cherry and cranberry fill the nose along with hints of toast. A cornucopia of dried red fruits and savory spices fill the flavorful, medium bodied palate. The finish lingers with continued red fruits, black tea, minerals and warming spices. This wine is tasty on it’s own but really shines with food.
Esporão Reserva Red ($24.99)
This offering blends together Aragonês, Trincaeira, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante Bouschet. Each grape was harvested and vinified separately. Barrel aging occurred over 12 months in American (70%), and French (30%) oak; 12 months of bottle aging followed prior to release. This red blend has a beautiful deep, dark purple color. Red and black fruits mix with copious spices on the welcoming and heady nose. There’s an inherent earthiness that leads the palate. Red and black fruits join in along with lots of spices. Cherry, strawberry, and black pepper are all joined by bits of roasted coffee bean on the above average finish. This wine has medium tannins and terrific acidity. Esporão Reserva Red is just begging to be paired with food. It’ll excel with just about anything you throw at it, making it a natural for the day of the bird.
Flora Springs 2012 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($40)
All of the fruit for this wine came from Napa Valley. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon (95%), small amounts of Malbec (3%), and Petit Verdot (2%) were also blended in. It was aged over 22 months in a combination of French (71%), and American oak (29%). Black Currant, cherry and Mexican Vanilla bean aromas are omnipresent on the nose. Black cherry with a splash of a liqueur dominates the palate which is plush and lush in its easy drinking, smooth nature. Crushed velvet, continued black and red cherry, earth, espresso and chicory are all present on the finish along with a hint of bitter chocolate. This is a fine example of Napa Valley Cabernet that drinks impeccably right out of the bottle. It does down easy and also has good depth and complexity.
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 by Gabe on November 20, 2014
A couple of weeks back I sat down with Santiago Ferrer, the founder and winemaker for Achaval–Ferrer. We tasted through his current single-vineyard malbecs as well as older vintages of Finca Altamira, his signature malbec. Separate from that, I also recently sampled a couple of his more widely available wines. Santiago is doing some terrific things with malbec specifically and also other varieties as well. Here’s a look at some of my favorites from the Achaval–Ferrer portfolio. Head over to The Daily Meal to read the rest.
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 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.