Archive for the ‘Tasting Notes (Short Review)’ Category
Since I promised a post a week, I thought sharing what I’m drinking each week would be a good way to show you what I enjoy in between the bigger posts I’m working on. I’ll try to go into a bit more detail on any wines I particularly enjoyed but also just brush over my week in general.
Dark Horse Red Blend
I started off the week by testing out a sample that I had received. I could see this wine being a good choice for anyone who wants a flavorful red wine that also feels like a good everyday drinking wine. While I like to spoil myself with my wine selections sometimes, I also don’t always want to open the most expensive bottles so it’s nice to keep some more affordable choices on hand. The wine had a deep berry flavor without being overpowering. However, I would only recommend it to someone who is a fan of big reds.
Part of the reason I also chose this wine was because I thought the name was fun. I spent a good part of the week having Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog stuck in my head and found the name Dark Horse to be very tempting. One of the minor characters in the musical is named Bad Horse and so drinking a wine with a similar name seemed like a fun choice. In fact, after writing about this wine and finding the above links, I have the songs stuck in my head again and will probably spend the rest of the day listening to the musical on repeat.
Cost: Unknown but other Dark Horse wines have gone for $8-10
2010 Imagery Sangiovese
I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for Imagery wine. A good friend works there so I make frequent trips to the winery and am always shown a great time. So when I had a couple of friends over to watch the How I Met Your Mother season finale and they requested a light red – I knew opening the Imagery 2010 Sangiovese would be a good choice. True to form, the wine was light but flavorful. I think it could have used a little more time in the bottle, which, admittedly, I had been told. Next year I will remember to hold onto it a little bit longer.
While we are on Imagery, there is something else that I love about their wine (which all of my friends have heard me gush about too many times). As someone who dabbles in art, I have a huge appreciation for the Imagery labels. Imagery allows artists to submit artwork for consideration for their label. The only rule is that the Parthenon has to appear somewhere in the piece. This allows for the unique combination of each wine having a uniquely beautiful and artistic label, but with the fun touch of trying to find the hidden Parthenon. Every time I open a bottle, I spend a few minutes appreciating the artwork and looking for the Parthenon. It’s a fun touch.
2009 Enkidu Humbaba
By the time Friday rolled around, I was looking forward to a more low key evening. I had heard it was Sauvignon Blanc day so I made sure to stick one in the fridge before going shopping with a friend for a couple of hours. However, when I got home to try it, I didn’t love it. I decided after a long week, I deserved to open something I knew I would like… and the Humbaba had been staring at me from the wine rack for long enough.
The Enkidu Humbaba had been purchased a few months earlier at the 8th Street Winery tasting event. It was the first place we stopped and the first wine I tried. Although my group scolded me for tasting out of order, I had a feeling about this wine and I was right. After trying the other Enkidu wines, I was still smitten with the Humbaba and knew I had to have a bottle. While I would have normally loved to hold onto it for a special occasion, I also realized that sometimes just letting yourself enjoy something you love is occasion enough.
The wine itself is a very light Syrah (Syrah (55%), Petite Sirah (42%), and Marsanne/Roussanne/Grenache Blanc (3%)) blend. I wanted something that would provide a good contrast to the Sauvignon Blanc from earlier without being too bold. The Humbaba ended up being a perfect compromise. The wine is very gentle on the tip of the tongue with the flavors changing throughout the mouth making it a very complex wine to taste. I had half of the bottle leftover on Saturday and it held up very nicely the second day as well. I definitely want to track down a couple more bottles to see how the flavor develops over time.
I’m still getting used to what this new role means for me in terms of everyday drinking and so I’ve still yet to figure out a polite way to store my tasting notes when out to dinner or out with friends. I’m a little sad that I didn’t do that last week when I was out to dinner as I had the privilege to try my very first Châteauneuf-du-Pape. I did stop and think enough about getting a picture for posterity but didn’t capture any more details than that.
I’m looking forward to sharing this week’s wine adventures with you! My mom will be in town and I always love sharing new wines with her. My mom is a classic Chardonnay drinker and a fan of wines of the $2 variety so I really enjoy showing her new things. My favorite line from her last visit: “I love drinking your wine because I don’t get hangovers.” Are there any suggestions for my mother-daughter weekend?
I recently took a trip to South Africa, and as wine lovers are apt to do, I filled my suitcase with wine sleeves so that I could bring a taste of Africa back with me. Of course, as wine lovers are also apt to do, there was more wine purchased than wine sleeves brought and I had to wrap a few bottles in towels…
It’s fitting with today commencing the Weekend Celebration of American Rhones, in San Francisco, to celebrate this amazing, unique release of Cigare Blanc, the flagship Rhone white blend from Bonny Doon Vineyards.
It’s creator, Randall Grahm, tonight at a very special ceremony will be awarded the first ever Rhone Rangers lifetime achievement award. As I wrote in For The Love of Rhône: Randall Grahm Lifetime Achievement Award; A Rhône Weekend in SF the American Rhone winemakers and consumers owe Randall this, and much more.
The Re-Emergence of The Original Rhone Ranger, Pioneer’s Vision
In his spot-on keynote speech at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, (video or transcript ) Randall gently chided the wine industry, for being a victim of its own success, almost ‘selling out’ and lamenting the world of unique wines, that had some risk to making them.
‘Modern winemakers live in an era of tragic self-consciousness about the economic consequences of their winemaking decisions, utterly aware of the peril of somehow falling outside of the stylistic parameters of accepted wine styles.’
On a macro level this is sadly true. Wines, especially whites, are made risk free, manipulated, and churned out by the container load for mass market. “Flash Detente’ – seriously? I’ll go return to my beer brewing roots before I ever cross this line. Every article I read on it gives me hives – where does this end?
But there is a burgeoning new movement, a tiny but growing population of bold winemakers who return to the risk taking Randall laments, making wines of unique varieties, vinification, climates and more. (Teaser, also watch for notice for a special tasting of a gang of 13 of these upstarts in Healdsburg in May.)
These vintners of passion often selling their crafts for a modest price, keeping the approachable. Sommeliers are loving this re-birth. Some old school journalists have no clue what to do with it – why not keep just writing about Cabernet & Zinfandel. Other visionaries like Jon Bonné of the Chronicle embrace and support the change, and even has a book coming out. (You can pre-order now, I did.)
Leading By Example and Creativity – Winemaking With Risk (Equals Reward.)
Randall leads the path again (one that I follow, inspired, with my own Rhone project.) His special 2010 Cigare Blanc Reserve and 2008 Cigare Volante are aged ‘en bonbonne’ - glass carboys, protected from light and air, and stirred….magnetically. As only Randall could do.
Why? Randall was inspired by wines of Dan Wheeler tasted from carboy, and astonished by how fresh the wines were, 20 years later, followed by a similar experience with Emidio Pepe.
At the Wine Bloggers Conference, Randall held a special semi private tasting of some of his wines, including the 2010 Cigare Blanc reserve & 2008 Cigare Volant Reserve ‘en bonbonne’. The gift was lost on some, but it was a special experience to taste these the normal and en bonbonne’ side by side. There was a clear, textural and flavor difference.
It inspired me to taste them both again later several times, where I could focus without Rex Pickett of Sideways making drinking from dump bucket jokes to impress a nearby female. Not a problem as I am a DOON Club member, and regularly order, and have, including a re-order of this wine.
Review: Bonny Doon Vineyard 2010 Cigare Blanc Reserve en bonbonne
A certified biodynamic blend of 56% Grenache Blanc and 44% Rousanne. (You had me at Grenache Blanc.) As Randall’s own tasting notes concur, it continues to improve in bottle, and was changed, even more favorably from last fall.
The 2010 vintage was allowed to go through secondary malo-lactic (a personal preference for me, as I think many white wines, with sufficient acidity, should do to enhance mouth feel and complexity.)
- To The Eye: Slightly cloudy, but clearer than previous tastings. Its turbidity makes me love it even more. It’s about time the consumer world understood a tad of turbidity in whites might make it better. I will follow with less trepidation.
- On The Nose: wondrous nose of yellow pear, stone fruits, hints of white grapefruit and hazelnut.
- On The Palate: Amazing. Lush, but in a restrained way. Textural and ‘grown up’ but with a vibrant acid backbone that lingers beneath in balance. The front palate starts off bright and fresh, the mid palate shows the wondrous texture, mouth feel ripe pear, yellow peach, citrus. The finish is of ripe Meyer lemon, lingering pleasant acidity.
I have yet to figure out how Bonny Doon makes these so wonderful in flavor and low in alcohol, as Roussanne and Grenache Blanc both require proper ripening, ever for my acid addicted palate. Bravo.
A wine that while wonderful solo, would be heavenly with rich seafood, creamy pasta, or roasted chicken.
- Recommendation: This is one to buy a case and drink 1-2 bottles a year. Buy online while you can.
94 points. Yes its pricier than every day wine. Life is short, live a little.
Winemakers Notes & Geeky Stuff
I have written in various places about the inspiration to age wine in demijohns/carboys/bonbonnes. Some of it has come from my fascination with oxidation/reduction chemistry, an aspect of wine art/science not well understood and its importance greatly unappreciated. Years ago, as a young pup I tasted wine from carboy with Dan Wheeler of Nicasio Cellars in his do-it-yourself-handdug cave in Soquel, and was astonished at how youthful were the wines, twenty plus years later, almost as if they had been placed in suspended animation. At about the same time, I also happened to taste the wines from Emidio Pepe in Abruzzo, who also aged his product in demijohns, likewise evincing extraordinary youthfulness and vitality.
We did some small encouraging experiments years ago, then more or less forgot about them until relatively recently, at which point we began the carboy ageing project with red Cigare. It wasn’t until ’09 that it dooned on me that perhaps there were even more interesting things to discover with the white. The ’10 Cigare Blanc Réserve, our second vintage of this wine, is absolutely amazing, an advance over the ’09. To refresh everyone’s memory, this wine is more or less the same blend as our standard issue Cigare Blanc, apart from the fact that we’ve allowed it to undergo malolactic fermentation, and at that point, we gave it a light SO2 addition, racked it to glass demijohn (bonbonne), where it reposed for a year and a half, getting anaerobically stirred more or less fortnightly.
The wine derives entirely from the Beeswax Vineyard, located at the mouth of the Arroyo Seco, and is farmed biodynamically and produced according to biodynamic specifications (very easy on the extraneous additions).
I’ve had the pleasure of tasting this wine over the last year, and what is most remarkable about it is that every time I taste it, it gets younger and younger! The wine was not filtered, and therefore is partly cloudy, though lately, it is curiously, getting brighter and brighter. The wine has a rich, unctuous texture, despite its modest (12ish%) alcohol, as well as possesses the most satisfying savoriness. In the nose, there is a wonderful suggestion of hazelnuts (hmm, white Burgundy, anyone?), as well as a beautiful fragrance of wintergreen and a wine-like pear. A great gastronomy wine, one that will perfectly suit rich, cream-based dishes.
- Blend: 56% roussanne, 44% grenache blanc (Certified Biodynamic®)
- Vineyard: Beeswax (Certified Biodynamic®)
- Appellation: Arroyo Seco
- Serving Temp: 50-55ºF
- Alcohol by Volume: 12.4%
- TA: 6.2 g/L
- pH: 3.62
- Optimal drinkability: Drink now-2020
- Production: 497 cases
This was was a
steal at Oliver’s Market
in Santa Rosa for $11. At 11.5% alc, and a fan of Grüner Veltliner, I couldn’t resist and bought blind without even looking
Sadly, domestic, good Gruner is hard to find, so indulge yourself with a foreign investment.
Tasting Notes: 2011 Höpler Grüner Veltliner
To The Eye: Pale straw color, with slight hint of effervescence.
On The Nose: Green apple, lime peel, hint of wet stone.
In the Mouth: Green apple, citrus, nice minerality, bright but well rounded fruit, despite the acidity.
Recommendation: A great summer sipper. Recommended. Great QPR. 89 points.
Expand beyond NZ Sauv Blanc will you?!
Please take out of the fridge 15 minutes before drinking.
Overchilling will obliterate the subtleties of most whites, expect the bad ones of course, then over chilling is encouraged!
My first Syrah
from Vice Versa, and sadly maybe the last for awhile, as they have stopped producing this Russian River Syrah.
The wine is a perfect Napa meets Sonoma crossover – its cool climate RRV Syrah, matched with a Napa Cab maker of finesse, which is Vice Versa’s ‘core’ program. Long corks, heavy elegant Burgundy glass, it’s certainly Napa grade packaging and marketing.
When I popped the cork and poured it into the glass, I suspected I would
like this unfined, unfiltered beast that appeared to be be dark, brooding, and promising.
Buy our Wines
Tasting Notes: 2007 Vice Versa Syrah Ulises Valdez Vineyard, Russian River Valley
- To The Eye: Impenetrable to light, inky black purple.
- On The Nose: Layered nose of smoked meat, blackberry, leather, mocha, and a subtle note of earth.
- In The Mouth: A beefier Syrah, with the body to support the balanced 15% alc, as well as acidity. Modest oak has had time to integrate into the wine, and provide sweeter tannins, that combine with dark black fruits, pepper to make a Syrah with backbone, but isn’t a fruit bomb.
Bigger red wine drinkers, not looking for “Shiraz” will love this. But don’t wait, must call the winery to purchase, and its the last of its kind. Contact the winery and see if you can get some of the <50 cases left.
Best served with grilled lean meats like fillet, lamb, or perhaps game. 91 Points. Media Sample
Last week I waxed poetically (well at least passionately) about Rosé and some of the myths in Rhône Rosé Panel: Quivira, Moun
ts, and Skinner Vineyards
ts, and Skinner Vineyards.
Domestic Rosé continues to grow in production, mostly from small producers, as the US population of more savvy
drinkers buy domestic offers that have gotten substantially better, and newer wine drinkers discover this is not their Parent’s sugary Sutter Home White Zin.
In the spirit of my popular December sparklers panel , I will do a panel tasting of Rosé wines and publish a series of articles of what I think are the best finds.
I will break the reviews into categories, Domestic vs Imports, State, region, or even varietal categories. Pinot vs Rhone vs Bordeaux etc. if there are sufficient wines to merit comparison. There will also be an overall top picks across all categories.
If you are interested in sending a sample please email SimpleHedonisms@Gmail.com – feel free to ask any questions about the panel, reader stats (8-10k unique readers a month), etc.
Samples from all regions are welcome, including importers. Duplicate samples are always appreciated, in the event of tainted bottles, but in today’s world of high expense & reduced cork TCA, screwtops, not required. If you wish to include some other new/recent release, since already shipping, feel free.
All wines tasted,
whether published or not, will be added to my lengthy and well followed Cellartracker notes.
Samples should be received by May 5th. If you are on the cusp of a release, email me – perhaps I can delay a category slightly. Wines that are available tasting room or DTC only are fine, and will be noted with purchase links.
Cheers and until then, drink pink!
Tick Tock – the Countdown to Two Amazing Rhone tasting events continues. This next weekend , March 24-25 is the Rhone Rangers “Weekend Celebration of
American Rhones.” Over 100 domestic Producers from California, Washington, Oregon, and even Virginia assemble in Ft Mason, San Francisco for two days of seminars, winemakers dinner, auctions, and tastings.
Just one month later, April 26-28th Rhone lovers head to Paso Robles for Hospice du Rhone, “the World’s Largest International Celebration of Rhone Variety Wines.” This event is a stunning immersion of seminars, lunches, dinners, & tastings.
Each week Simple Hedonisms is celebrating with at least one Rhône wine review.
Rosé Wines – Man Up – Drink Pink. This Isn’t Your 1990′s White Zin, It’s a French Classic Wine
My friend Lisa Ortman of Ortman Family Cellars used to say “Man up, Drink Pink.” The myths surrounding Rosé wines are still a bit perplexing to me. Lets smash a few of them, shall we.
1. Most quality Rosé wines are dry aka not sweet.
No, not that corporate mass produced sugary garbage at the bottom of the supermarket shelf, the real stuff from your local artisan winery or imported from France.
2. Rosé is for women.
For the record men – Rosé is made from RED WINE GRAPES. The only reason its pink is because it doesn’t spend much time on the skins during fermentation, which is the ONLY reason that red wine is even red! This concept is as assanine as the thought that “real wine drinkers don’t drink white.” (Which I’d contend its the opposite if anything.)
3. Rosé is a summer wine only.
This myth is perpetrated both by consumers and by wineries, who are deathly afraid of being caught with any Rosé left by October. It’s true, a good Rosé is a great summer sipper and aperitif. But its hardly limited to that. I was amazed at my trip to France and the Rhone this January – most restaurants had more Rosé by the glass than whites, and swarthy French men bundled up in wool had no issue ordering a bottle of Pink. The higher acidity in Rosé pairs it nicely with food, and its one of my top recommendations for the winter Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays as well.
4. Rosé can’t age.
Generally the spirit of Rosé is a wine meant to be drunk young, fresh, and consumed in the first year or so of release. But many Rosé wines can actually age quite well, particularly if they are a ‘true’ Rosé – that is to say grapes picked early in the season to be higher in acidity, lower in alcohol. The acidity preserves the wine, and softens with age. Indeed a few Rosé wines I have bought and specifically but aside awhile to let the brightness subdue a bit. The freshness will tamper down a bit, and the wine will change. Generally one wouldn’t hang on to a Rosé more than a few years, but for every rule, there is an exception, especially with wine geeks.
Rhône Rosé Panel: Quivira, Mounts, and Skinner Vineyards
I recently compared three Rhône Rosé wines in an impromptu panel. I am debating putting out a “call for Rosé” as I did in December for sparkling, for a more thorough review – stay tuned. If interested, email me.
Rhône wines in my opinion, especially Syrah and Grenache, make exceptional Rosé wines. These three do not disappoint.
(1) Mounts 2010 “Pink” Syrah Rosé
I frequently wax poetic about the Mounts, and I hope to write an in depth article soon.
Watching their evolution over the last 4 years has been a rewarding experience as this four generation Grower family continues to innovate and has become a Dry Creek Valley Rhone producer to follow.
This 2010 is a wonderful Rosé of Syrah. Kudos to Dave Mounts for picking, making a true rose’, not a Syrah juice bleed off.
Bright salmon pink color. Essence of strawberry, watermelon, tomato vine, on the nose. Crisp, bright in the mouth, cherry, jolly rancher, watermelon, in mouth.
Lingering mouth watering finish. Drinkable all year round, and a few years bottle time thanks to the nice acidity. At 13% alcohol, can drink a few of these.
Sadly the Mounts are down to about a dozen cases, and there is no 2011 Rosé. I only hope they make it again for 2012. Pretty please? At least hold 6 more 2010 bottles for me.
(2) Skinner Vineyards 2010 Grenache Rosé
A winery in the Sierra Foothills I have my eyeballs on. This Rosé is mostly Grenache with a touch of Mourvedre.
Color – clear, salmon-strawberry color. On the nose -cherry, red fruit, hint of watermelon,
tomato vine, red hard candy
Palate – Enjoyable, food friendly, excellent acidity. Cherry, hard candy vibrant front palate , pleasant mid palate, and a lingering finish with notes of spice & hazelnut.
Would pair well with many foods and cheeses.
(3) 2011 Quivira Rosé
Quivira is another of my favorite Dry Creek Rhone producers and new winemaker Hugh Chappelle continues to do great things as Quivira lets him be the creative artisan he wishes to be.
Quivira’s newly released low production rose’ – never lasts long. New in screw top this year.
Like last year, heavily Mourvedre based, unlike Grenache based Rosé of years prior.
Light, bright, pink in color. Nose of watermelon jolly rancher and strawberry. Wonderful in the mouth, watermelon, white peach, red fruits. Mouth watering acidity that lingers on finish.
13% alc. Fresh. Bright. Fun.
The weekly review of Rhone wines as we count down to the the March 24-25 Rhone Rangers “Weekend Celebration of American Rhones” and the
April 26-28th20th anniversary of Hospice du Rhone, “the World’s Largest International Celebration of Rhone Variety Wines” in Paso Robles, continues.
David Girard Vineyards – El Dorado
This week I am sharing a gem wine, and winery in El Dorado, a region that is an emerging powerhouse of Rhone wines in Northern California: David Girard Vineyards.
I met owner David Girard, and winemaker Mari Wells Coyle just over a year ago when I visited. Mari was nice enough on a day off to come spend some quality time and geek out with me. I was won over by her wines and her warm personality.
Vineyard manager Ron Mansfield, whom I have also had the fortune to meet this year, is a quiet genius in Rhone vineyard management and wine growing. I am delighted to source grapes from him in 2011 for my own project. (See A new Mother Lode: vintners rediscover Sierra foothills by Jon Bonne’.)
you road trip there, or seek them out at the Rhone Rangers March 25th Grand Tasting at Ft Mason. Tell them William sent you.
Wine Review: 2009 Mourvèdre, El Dorado, Estate Vineyard
Mourvèdre is one of my favorite red wines. It can be hard to find as a single varietal, and even harder to find well made. Some Northern California vintners want to treat it like Cabernet and over oak it. This red Rhone grape has much to express if left alone from the clutches of New World Cabernet makers.
Mourvèdre is often known for its meatiness, slightly gamey profile, with notes of smoked meat & bacon. This Mourvedre is a bit of a departure from that, and a bit unlike most Mourvèdre I have had before. It also stood out in the 2011 Rhone Rangers ‘Mourvèdre On The Move’ seminar. It’s lighter, feminine, and more seductive than most you will come across – reminiscent of Pinot Noir in many ways.
To The Eye: A clear medium red, you can actually see through.
On The Nose: A floral nose of violets leap out of the glass, along with hints of spice, red berry, and tea.
In The Mouth: A wonderful combination of red fruits: Strawberry, pomegranate, cherry notes, with a hint of black tea. The wine dances across the palate and delivers completely front, mid and finish. The acidity is mouth watering, the finish lingering and pleasant. It’s silky and seductive in the mouth.
This wine may surprise you slightly if looking for “classic” Mourvèdre (whatever that might mean to you), although some of those undertones exist. All I know is I want more for my cellar.
Recommendation: Highly recommend. Consume now or cellar for 3-4 years. 92 Points.
Buy online $34
Albariño – a Spanish white wine popular with wine aficionados who look for leaner white wines, higher in acidity.
The Rías Baixas region of Spain (which I have not visited yet unfortunately) is renowned for the Albariño grown here, so I was delighted when asked if I wanted to receive a sampler pack. (More reviews to come.)
Albariño is one of my Spanish white loves, and growing to be one of my preferred varietals. It reminds me somewhat of Grenache Blanc, in that its high in acidity, and responds to vinification techniques, and can gain some complexity if something besides stainless is done with it: neutral oak, concrete etc. (lees aging anyone?)
US production is slowly increasing, but is still hard to find, and generally I have been more pleased with the the Albariño imported from Spain. Which by the way you won’t find on most Safeway shelves, but your local wine shop should carry a bottle.
Review: 2010 Gallegas Albariño Rías Baixas Miudino
To The Eye: Medium yellow
One The Nose: A pleasant nose of grapefruit & white peach.
In The Mouth: Bright and lively lime, wet stone, some stone fruit, good mouth feel, and a touch of minerality combined with lingering finish. 12% alcohol.
Recommendation: A very enjoyable white thats great as an aperitif, but would sing when paired with shellfish, especially oysters. A solid white, under $20. If you see any, grab a bottle. 89 Points.
Where To Buy:
Miudiño – available to order online at http://www.zagatwine.com/
Also fun – sign up for information on the new Albariño Explorers Club website:
Time to bring it back home and share thoughts on some of the many great sparkling wines made in California.
There were also some unusual finds here that were very
bottledpoetry.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/sparkling-wine.jpg?w=450″ alt=”" width=”189″ height=”199″ />fun to taste. Below are the best of my many nights of tasting: some wines purchased, some media samples. All enjoyed.
Sparkling Wine – Under $35
2009 Windsor Vineyards Blanc de Noir $25 *Top Pick*
A pretty sparkling from Windsor Vineyards. Light pink, salmon color. Nose of strawberry, hint of cherry. Good red fruit, creamy in mouth, with an easy finish. Easy quaffing.A great aperitif. A great sparkling for the price. Their Brut is also very enjoyable, bright acid, green apple.
Iron Horse Wedding Cuvee 2007 $32 *Top Pick*
An incredible Blanc de Noir, made from 88% Pinot Noir, 12% Chardonnay. Essence of strawberries, creamy rich mouthfeel. Iron Horse consistently makes some of the best sparkling wines in Russian River Valley, and this carries the torch well.
Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Non Vintage $20
My house bubbles. Widely available, often a discount, regularly an award winner. A consistent winner that delivers: green apple, bread yeast, citrus. Yum.
J. Keverson ‘Bubbles for Boobies’ Brut, Non Vintage $20
Whats not to like about sparkling wine that is for boobies. Dark yellow straw color, pear, lemon. Crisp in mouth. Begs for some oysters.
50% of the proceeds from the sale of Bubbles for Boobies Brut is donated to fight breast cancer. 60% Chardonnay from Mendocino, 40% Pinot Noir form Carneros. Drink some bubbles, help a worthy cause.
Sparkling Wine – The Unusual
While most domestic sparkling is made from Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, we do find the occasional deviation. These require an open mind, and can be fun.
Amista Vineyards Syrah Rose’ (Non Vintage)
I had this the very first year it was released, and just recently tasted the new vintage, which is now lower in alcohol and color. (A plus.) It’s a fun wine, made from Syrah rose’, not that dark purple sweet sparkling shiraz the Aussies make. The new vintage has a nice red fruit, cherry and strawberry.
Harvest Moon Sparkling Gewürztraminer Dry Sparkling $38 *Top Pick*
Randy is a master of working with wines of great acidity, and he takes the difficult task of making a Gewurtz in a sparkling in stride. This is a unique bottle of bubbles is fun. A floral nose as expected, tiny bubbles, citrus and stone fruit. This wine always sells out, grab a bottle if you can.
Harvest Moon Sparkling Zinfandel $38
Another odd duck and even more interesting and complex. Because the zin is from the cool climate Russian River, it pulls off the acidity, and the fruit, picked early as one does for sparkling has interesting notes of spice. A dark red color, reminiscent of sparkling Syrah. Fragrant nose of black cherry & raspberry. Black cherry and black fruit in the mouth with some spice. Good acidity, recommended to pair with food or an aperitif. Get adventurous and try it.
Sparkling Wine Over $35
Thomas George Estates Pinot Noir Amber Block Starr Ridge Estate 2009 $50
My first time tasting sparkling from Thomas George, and given how great their Pinot Noir (and other wines) are, I wasn’t surprised this bar was equally high.
Light salmon pink color, fresh strawberry and bread yeast on nose, strawberry and citrus in mouth, Excellent creamy mouthfeel, lingering finish.
Inman Family Wine – Endless Crush 2009 $50 *Top Pick*
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone this made the list, given it was my wine of the month a few weeks ago. See Winery of The Month, Wine of the Week: Inman Family Wines 2009 Brut Rose Nature “Endless Crush”
Just the slightest tinge of pink. Nose of strawberry, citrus and a hint of bread yeast. Bright in the mouth, great acidity combined with rich texture and mouthfeel, lingering finish and some minerality, this is a unique work of art.
Gloria Ferrer -Carneros Cuvee’ 1999 $50 *Top Pick*
The bottle you love to look at, but can’t stack many of in a cellar. A work of art, the bottle and whats in it. I have the 1999 in my cellar, current release is 2000. (Yes almost 12 years old folks.) Don’t worry the 2000 is great too, Jon Bonne recommended it last month. Elegant. Citrus, pear, creamy. If I could afford it every day, or week I would. Well worth the splurge.
On this (tired) note – we are off to France for a tour of Burgundy and the Rhone Valley. Many changes are afoot for 2012, and taking a quick research jaunt.
Have a Very Happy & Safe New Years, and thanks for reading!