Archive for the ‘Wine of the Week’ 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?
It seems I am forever playing catchup on giving wineries the recognition they deserve on Simple Hedonisms. Certainly I do a lot more mentions in the social media realm of Twitter and Facebook, to my active following, but they are long overdue for a review.
About Jordan Winery: Showcasing Sonoma At It’s Finest
Jordan is an extraordinary winery in many ways, and a rare breed in many as well.
Focus: Jordan only makes two wines, something incredibly rare for a winery of any size. An elegant Chardonnay, and a ‘less masculine’ Cabernet Sauvignon.
Tradition: Founded in 1972 by Tom Jordan, now run by son John Jordan, the winery has a well earned reputation for its elegance,
world class wines, and customer service. Its also one of the rapidly disappearing ‘medium size wineries. Not a boutique winery making 5000 cases, and not a giant making 1 Million cases a year, but the difficult ~90,000 case range that has a unique set of challenges competing on either side.
Wineries in this size category continue to sell and merge, or in some cases over the years, dramatically downsize and spin off. Jordan continues to adapt, innovate, and do well.
Innovation: Jordan is a winery to watch for their innovative marketing, writing, and award winning video blog. John Jordan has done a noteworthy job hiring and enabling Lisa Mattson, Executive Director of Communications.
Lisa blazes a trail for the rest of the industry to follow. (Why wineries don’t recognize marketing staff on their ‘people page’ still eludes me.)
Do read and follow: http://blog.jordanwinery.com/
Hospitality: I have witnessed the Jordan experience both as a consumer and wine industry/trade, and its always warm, impeccable, and high class, but lacking ‘other valley’ pretention – aka Sonoma at its finest. I am fortunate enough to receive media invitations several times a year to Jordan events, and even in a world where these eventually can become a bit tedious, am grateful for the invitation, and look forward to the experience. Jordan’s kitchen, and Todd Knoll Executive Chef are amazing – you are in for a treat if ever here for a meal.
In Defense of Chardonnay
It’s a bit ironic that as a person noted for his love of Rhone and off the beaten path varietals, that I have championed chardonnay. Why? I actually respect and like almost all wine varieties, and think we have sometimes lost our way, or forgotten how diverse wine can, or should be. Few varietals express such a wide range of diversity as chardonnay – you need only be open mind, look around a bit, and taste more - its worth the adventure.
Yet, I had to drag people, including industry professionals, to my chardonnay tasting this summer (at which Jordan poured.) At the tasting, by design, I featured non traditional California chardonnay – that classic bigger oak & buttery chardonnay made popular by Kendall Jackson, Rombeur and others. Without a doubt , this style appeals to the masses and dominates chardonnay sales. However, it represents only one possible style of many that chardonnay is capable of, and not only produced in Burgundy and Chablis, France, but by many small vintners here in California.
For more on Chardonnay, and how people CAN change their opinions see:
To The Eye: Clear pale to medium yellow.
On the Nose: Green apple, Meyer lemon, honeysuckle, pineapple
In The Mouth: – A delight. Great acidity, clean crisp mouthfeel with good weight mid palate. This chardonnay delivers as a stand alone, or paired with white meats and fish, salads, and cheeses.
Recommendation: Highly Recommend. Not your standard California ‘cougar juice’ (a term used to refer to Rombauer like oaky, buttery chardonnay) and also not as bright as an unoaked chardonnay – thus a more versatile wine overall. Buy and consume, (especially during Holiday season, pairs great with turkey.) Or cellar a few bottles as well, a well made chardonnay, with good acidity will age well.
92 Points, Outstanding.
Where to Buy: Jordan has distribution throught the country in wine shops and restaurants. You may also buy it online at http://store.jordanwinery.com/ . $29 retail. Media Sample.
Vinification Notes: Chardonnay is a extremely diverse wine grape with huge variation in results based on winemaking tools. Learn to identify what’s been done and what you like, to better appreciate this varietal.
Cold fermentation occurred in French oak barrels (with one quarter in stainless steel). After three months of sur-lie aging and batonnage, the wine underwent only 36% malolactic fermentation to retain its bright acidity. With a portion resting in stainless steel, the remaining 72% of the wine was aged in 100% French oak (56% new) for 5.5 months
Wine Geek Info:
- APPELLATION: Russian River Valley
- BLEND: 100% Chardonnay
- PH: 3.35
- ALCOHOL LEVEL: 13.8%
- BOTTLING DATES: July 19 – August 5, 2010
- RELEASE DATE: May 1, 2011
2009 Jordan Chardonnay Video Tasting Notes
Great video! Look for the notes on ”holding back on the oak” “more minerality” – which contribute to the success of the wine, in my opinion.
Chardonnay regains respect – now to maintain it (SF Chronicle – Jon Bonne’)
If you listened in to last weeks KRSO Drive at 5 Wine Wednesday Show, which I guest host, this week we interviewed Foppiano Vineyards, and I teased they were also my planned wine of the week…..Tada – a few days later than planned, here it is.
115 Harvests Under Their Belt
Foppiano is one of those comeback stories I love to see. The story of Foppiano Vineyards is a family epic full of tradition, perseverance and contributions to the history of Sonoma County and the wine industry. Founded in 1896 by Giovanni Foppiano, Foppiano Vineyards is one of Sonoma County’s oldest continually-operated, family-owned wineries.
California and Sonoma has a fair number of seasoned wineries, and sadly some don’t innovate along with times, and sometimes fade into the twilight. It has been exciting to watch Foppiano these last 18 months innovate and inject new blood and outside talent (new winemaker Natalie West and Marketing/Media Guru Taylor Eason, to name two) as well as retain and leverage their deep Russian River Valley heritage. (A note to Foppiano – put these people on your website – its a positive – their story is now your story.)
Foppiano is on the move, their wines are one to taste and to watch. Their Pinot Noir was a RRV judges favorite in the elimination round of my Pinot Smackdown tasting, and is a great value. Their new Lot 96 Petite Sirah jug program is brilliant, and an amazing value, and this Rosé is a find….well while its left.
Wine Review: Foppiano Vineyards 2010 Estate Rosé
This rosé is a unique combination of Petite Sirah and Pinot Noir, the two flagship red varieties of Foppiano. I was curious how the combination would turn out, and very pleased with the results.
On The Nose: Expressive nose of cherry, spice, strawberry.
In the Mouth: The combination of Pinot Noir and Petite Sirah is suprising and brilliant. The Pinot Noir provides nice fruit, acidity, and a subtle touch, the Petite Sirah some color, structure, and complexity. Its a winning combination with a mouthful of red fruit, cherry, and citrus. Pleasant in the front palate, nice weight in the mid palate, and good acidity makes for a mouth watering finish.
Recommendation: Get over your thing about Rosé – real wine drinkers seek Rosé far and wide; and its enjoyable all year long, not just for summer. Except this one may not be, as only 20 cases (of the 180 made) are left in the tasting room. Buy some, now. Highly Recommended – 91 points.
Where to Buy: Online or in the Tasting Room. A buy at $15. Media Sample.
Video Tasting Notes: Check out Taylor Eason and Natalie West in this Informative Video on the Rosé
Visit Foppiano and ‘The Eastside Bunch’
Foppiano is one of 12 wineries in a fun group called the “Eastside Bunch” October 29th is the “Eastside Bunch Bounty of Harvest.”
Cruise through all the Eastside Bunch wineries on and off Old Redwood Highway south of Healdsburg to celebrate this year’s grape harvest in the beautiful Russian River Valley. Taste wines from all 12 member wineries and nosh appetizers to raise funds for the Redwood Empire Food Bank. PLUS, a new addition to the Eastside Bunch event line-up: Check off every winery in your Eastside Bunch Passport and gain a chance to win a mixed case of wine from all the participating wineries. $20 in advance, $25 at the door, $10 for designated driver tickets - Check in at any Eastside Bunch Member winery.
I am overdue to write about Quivira. In the same vein as my review of Tablas Creek a few months ago, I am negligent in not reviewing Quivira. Certainly they are a winery I always recommend to Rhone lovers, as well as visitors to Dry Creek Valley. (I should note they also make Zinfandel and Sauvignon Blanc.) There is lots to like about this winery and their wines.
I joined Quivira’s wine club on my first visit some years ago, and they have always taken excellent care of me, first as a consumer, and then as I migrated into wine writing and geeking. They are also a staunch advocate of the Rhone Rangers and GM, Director of Marketing Nancy Bailey has been very supportive in our new North Coast Rhone Rangers chapter about to emerge.
My once large stable of personal wine clubs has dwindled, thanks in part to the expense of the new farm, (grenache) vineyard, and the new wine label, and departure from my non wine job. Add to the fact my cellar is out of control with >1000 bottles, and the fact that as an , recognized member of Media after two years, samples and industry discounts are normal. (And always greatly appreciated, writing is a labor of love.) Quivira has remained in my ‘Queue’ , both due to their quality of wines & dedication to Rhone varieties, as well as the personal attention they give their members. (Thanks Stephanie!)
Quivira also has an excellent wine club, with a feature I love. The first 30 days of a new release to wine club, Queue members benefit from the ”30 for 30″ re-order opportunity:
Taste your wine club shipment, re-order within 30 days, and get 30% off – that’s on par with Industry pricing. They also have excellent future pricing every year for Wine Road Barrel tasting, which I take advantage of to buy a case of Mourvedre.
The hospitality and marketing team seems to be better than ever, and winemaker Hugh Chappelle, who came over from Pinot producer Lynmar, seems to have found an excellent home, of mutual respect and appreciation, allowing him to express the creativity that exists in all talented artisans, winemakers included. Hugh is a great addition to the Quivira family.
In addition to having a strong Rhone program, Quivira is a committed member of the certified Biodynamic community, with gorgeous gardens, chickens, cows and more. The property and tasting room is worth a visit, and their Farm to Table dinners are not to be missed. After spending several days earlier this year at the Paul Dolan biodynamic writers camp, I have a new appreciation for the commitment to the process and our planet.
Quivira Vineyards 2009 Grenache, Dry Creek Valley
Its appropriate that I picked a Grenache this week, albeit it more by chance, as I actually reviewed the wine last week. Recently, I wrote that Sept 23rd is Grenache Day. Quivira is one of the wineries attending my tasting, and will be pouring the 2009 Grenache.
On The Nose: Cranberry, red berries, grenache red hard candy (love that!), spice
In the Mouth: Classic Grenache profile in the mouth; expressive but balanced red fruit, good structure but not as tannic (yay!) as several previous vintages, thanks to a more forgiving season. Supple tannins, nice acidity. Would pair well with many foods, ranging from Grilled fare and burgers, to leaner cuts of meat and lamb. A wine with both body and elegance.
Learn to train your palate you don’t need to have your taste buds crushed by excessive oak and tannins to be ‘good.’ This vintage is an excellent training ground for the wine lover looking to broaden past Cabernet, and perhaps not yet in love with Pinot Noir. (You will be one day though. )
Recommendation. Buy and drink now, or cellar for a few years. 92 points. Retail $26 online. Media Sample – although I purchased several bottles via my Queue Club shipments.
Wine Geek Info:
- APPELLATION Dry Creek Valley (Wine Creek Ranch Vineyard)
- VARIETAL MIX 92% Grenache, 6% Mourvedre, 2% Syrah
- FERMENTATION Open top fermentors, native yeast
- AGING A mixture of small French and eastern European oak as well as traditional 600-gallon foudre casks, 10% new
- ALCOHOL 14.8%
- PRODUCTION 961 cases
A fair share of my Wine of the Week selections are chosen from microwineries, harder to find producers, geek or Rhone varieties, or wines over $20. That’s often what I drink, but certainly not all. It most especially does not represent, as I often remind my wine geek, fellow wine writers, and wine maker friends, what the mass population of North American wine drinkers consume.
I will often write about these as I remain dedicated to helping the typical wine lover and consumer, expand their horizons. Wine knowledge is a journey of ever broadening discovery, no matter what your experience level, and I would pass on some of my ‘wasted’ years and eye opening experiences, and save readers only drinking big red overoaked wines for your first ten years, which sadly over the last 20 years the consumer has been lead to think is ‘good’.
However, even in the world of mass market consumption, there ARE good wines you can find widely available, under $20, and just grab off the shelf.
The Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc is one of those. A price any budget can afford, a wine most wine consumers can enjoy (get over that ‘I don’t drink white wines’ stance – its killing your growth,) yet enough there for the experience wine consumer to enjoy, even if as a uber wine geek you’d ‘prefer’ a $30 ‘white’ 6 month skin contact Trousseau Gris.
About Dry Creek Vineyards
Dry Creek Vineyards is becoming one of those rare breed and size winery. Still family owned and operated since founded 39 years ago, as the winery that put Sauvignon Blanc on the map in north Sonoma County, they exist in a difficult space. At 100k+ cases they aren’t the sometimes more fashionable boutique winery, yet they are a fraction of the size of the BIG boys who make millions of cases a year. Only a handful of wineries exist in this size, and less and less each year. A visit to their tasting room and meeting the team, feels the same as the 20k case winery down the road. Perhaps more another time, but do take a few minutes to read about one of Dry Creek Valley’s pioneers, that brings a piece of the Loire Valley, by clicking here and their love affair with sauvignon blanc here.
I visited with Bill Smart, Director of Communications, several months ago and tasted through a series of wines. I should point out, Dry Creek Vineyards makes a number of small lot wines, including other sauvignon blancs, but by design for this tasting we wanted to focus on what consumers could find widely available. Do drop by the tasting room to try these – I will be.
About Fumé Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc is sometimes referred to as Fume’ Blanc. Purportedly this started when Robert Mondavi in 1968, changed their Sauvignon Blanc from an off dry to dry version. To not confuse their customers, they came up with the name “Fumé Blanc”, from Pouilly-Fumé, a popular dry-style Loire Valley wines made from Sauvignon Blanc. Rather than trade marking the name, Mondavi offered to allow anyone to use the Fumé Blanc name to market dry-style Sauvignon Blanc.
Fumé is French for “smoke,” but has nothing to do with smoky flavor in the wine. It refers to morning fog in the Loire Valley. Any’ smokey’ smells or flavors are from aging in newer oak barrels, not from any aroma or flavor character that is in Sauvignon Blac. Although some wineries choose oak barrel fermentation and/or oak aging, the use of Fumé Blanc on a label does not mean the wine was barrel-fermented or ever contact any oak, although it’s a common misperception that it does. (Another spin is that sauvignon blanc didn’t sell, so Robert changed the name.)
Dry Creek Vineyards Fume Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc), Sonoma County
Welcome to the 39th vintage of this flagship wine of Dry Creek Vineyards. This sauvignon blanc is entirely stainless fermented, with no oak contact.
On the Nose: Fragant nose of white peach, honeysuckle, grapefruit
In The Mouth: Citrus. Lime & grapefruit as well as some herbaceous characters found in the popular New Zealand sauvignon blancs, but with some minerality as well as great acidity that give it a bit more nuance. The finish is dry and mouth watering. Would pair well with shellfish, salads, or make a great aperitif.
Recommendation: An excellent value at $12. This wine has justly received many awards over the years, including recent Best Buy from Wine Enthusiast and in 2008 was the prestigious Sonoma County Harvest Fair (which I am pleased to be added as a judge this year) Sweepstakes winner.
89 Points – Excellent, Recommended Buy. Buy locally or online, or check your local store. Media Sample (but I will be restocking for summer and Thanksgiving.)
Side Note: I should add their <$10 Chenin Blanc, is also a great value at $8-10, and varietal I wish we saw more of in Sonoma. I have the 2009 also in my glass, current release is 2010, or it could have also ended up as a Wine of the Week.
Wine Geek Info:
- Grapes 100% Sauvignon Blanc
- Appellation: Sonoma County
- Harvest: October 4, 2010
- Fermentation: Stainless steel fermented at an average of 52˚F for about 30 days
- Barrel Aging: None
- Alcohol: 13.5%
- Total Acidity: 0.64g/200mL
- pH: 3.36
- Residual Sugar: Dry
- Aging Potential: 3 – 5 years
- Case Production: ~30,000 cases
I am pleased to be one of the first to review the new Bonny Doon Vineyards 2010 Clos de Gilroy Grenache. The 2009 was one of my first “Wine of the Week’ in 2010 and it is again now. Regular readers know I am a huge fan of both Bonny Doon and Grenache – but that doesn’t make it a shoe in. If anything, since Grenache is one of my top varietals, I am quite hard when judging it. It’s a beautiful variety that often gets mistreated. (It’s not Cabernet, don’t make it like it is.)
About 2010 Clos de Gilroy
Per the iconic Randall Grahm:
‘The Wine Formerly Known as Clos de Gilroy ‘ or (TWFKaCdG) pays homage to the quaint, rustic town of Gilroy, the spiritual locus of all matters alliaceous. The fruit for our Grenache does not, despite its name, derive from Gilroy (clos,but no Cigare), but instead primarily from our former estate vineyard in Soledad and the Alta Loma vineyard in Greenfield, along with a sprinkling of other vineyards along the Central Coast. The wine exhibits all the hallmarks of exceptional cool climate Grenache.
This is encouraging to someone in the middle of planting the first 500 of 1200 grenache vines in Russian River Valley, also a cooler climate.
At one point, wine maven and head of Direct to Consumer Sales, Meg Houston Maker, had scared me that there might not be a 2010, as Randall is uncompromising in what he puts his name, on. I was ecstatic to learn they did (only 2400 cases) and as I taste it side by side with a 2009 from my cellar, I am happy to report its wonderful.
Coming Up Soon – Day of the Doon IX, Sunday Sept 18th
Quick tangent – I am delighted to attend my first Day of the Doon, their annual wine club celebration will take place hosted at the new estate vineyard in San Juan Bautista. Randall Grahm will host a brief tour of their new plantings followed by a farm-to-table wine dinner celebrating the abundance of harvest. This event always sells out. Hope to meet some of you other Dewnstahs there!
Wine Review: 2010 Clos de Gilroy
One the Nose: Intense aromatics. Dark red fruits – lots of raspberry, and some cherry. Spice.
In The Mouth: Light bodied, supple, balanced. Raspberry, cherry, touch of cranberry. Presence of soft tannin on finish will allow this wine to pair with a wider variety of foods, as well as I suspect, bottle age nicely.
Recommendation: For $16-18 this wine is a must buy. 90 points. Great QPR (Quality Price Ratio.) Media Sample (although I will be buying more at Wine Club discount, I bought several cases of the 2009.)
This is my go to wine for ‘comfort wine’, crowd pleasers, and a wide food pairing range. Randall recommends it with grilled meat or veggies, roasted poultry, or anything al fresco with olive oil.
Where to Buy: Online at Bonny Doon, $18. At a few retail locations. K&L San Francisco currently has ~20 in stock
Wine Geek Info:
- Varietal Blend: 75% grenache, 13% cinsault, 12% syrah
- Appellation: Monterey County Alcohol by Volume: 13.1%
- TA: 4.8 g/L
- pH: 3.69
- Production: 2,384 cases
Jon Bonné As Syrah falters, make way for Grenache
I have been writing about wineries everywhere but Sonoma county recently it seems, so its time to come back home.
Carol Shelton is lauded as one of the early female winemakers in the industry, not so unusual these days fortunately, but much less common when she graduated UC Davis in 1978. She is featured in a book (which I recommend) “Women of the Vine. ”
Once Carol had completed her education in 1978, she worked for Robert Mondavi Winery, Saltrams Wines in the Barossa Valley of Australia, and Buena Vista Winery, where she was mentored by the great Andre Tchelistcheff. This was followed by Windsor Vineyards in Sonoma County, where the wines she made have garnered more medals in major competitions than wines made by any other winemaker in America, leading Carol to the title of “Most Awarded Winemaker in America” for 12 of the past 15 years. In 2000, Carol, and husband Mitch McKenzie launched Carol Shelton wines.
More Than Just Zinfandel
Carol is mostly widely recognized for her Zinfandel production, but over the years has made a variety of wines, including the rarely seen Trousseau gris (sourced from my neighbor Peter Fanucchi), a Rhone white called Coquille blanc, sourced from Paso Robles, that I am fond of, and other varietals, including this great Carignane rosé, sourced from Mendocino County.
I am a fan of carignane, as I wrote earlier this year, it is a misunderstood Rhone variety. I am enough of a fan, I am considering making a barrel myself this year, and sourcing some from Mendocino, where dry farmed, head trained carignane c
an be found for reasonable prices. ( Mendocino growers insist on calling it “kerrignan” or similar mispronunciations.)
Review: Carol Shelton 2010 Rendezvous Rosé (Mendocino Carignane)
On the Nose: Red fruit, ripe strawberry, watermelon
In the Mouth: Bright red fruit , light cherry, strawberry , good mouth feel and mouth watering finish, good acidity. A worthy summer sipper. Drink alone or pair with a wide variety of summer fare.
Recommendations: Excellent. Buy, drink, enjoy. $15.
Carol Shelton is part of the new Santa Rosa Wine Trail. Visit a member winery, grab a card there and get no tasting fees at 10 Santa Rosa wineries, which include other 'Wine of the Week' members Sheldon Wines, Inspiration Vineyards, and other personal favorites (Krutz, MJ Lords, D'Argenzio, Old World Winery, Siduri, neighbor Robert Rue, as well as Vinoteca, where we held our meetup last Monday for their soft opening.
The card also offers a chance to win a monthly drawing, and free corkage on first bottle of your purchase at Willi's Wine Bar – enjoy!
Have a Happy 4th, and grab a bottle of this great Rosé! cheers!
It struck me recently I have been quite negligent in my wine reviews. Somehow I had missed ever publishing a review of Tablas Creek. How could this be? I consider myself a vocal fan, what in marketing and social media terms we refer to as a 'brand ambassador.' The term, which I use regularly in wine marketing presentations, refers to a customer/consumer (generally) that is passionate about a company and its product's and essentially is a walking billboard, compensated in no way.
If I am asked for an opinion on where to taste in Paso Robles – my answer is Tablas Creek. Name a leading US Rhone producer? Tablas Creek. US producer who makes refined, elegant non new world palate Rhones? Tablas Creek. One of my favorite xxxx varietals? Tablas Creek. I frequently gush about them on Facebook, Twitter, give them high scores on Cellartracker (although I often enjoy their wines so much, I don't take the time to pick them apart and don't always record notes.)
I am not alone, many industry writers agree. On a recent trip to Paso Robles for Hospice du Rhone, I had the good fortune to ride down with Lisa Shara Hall, esteemed Senior Editor Wine Business Monthly and author of Wines of the Pacific Northwest. We were on a tight schedule for HdR and only had time for one stop, to let Lisa experience what I thought was demonstrative of a Paso leader. This is not an easy woman to impress, as you might expect, and she was, as she complimented General Manager Jason Haas, and thanked me later.
I am no Patrick Comiskey (writer, Wines & Spirits, Rhone lover, and working on a book on the history of US Rhones) but I have been around enough to recognize the incredible impact they have had on the proliferation of Rhone plantings in the US. You can read some of the history here.
The history of Tablas Creek and their contributions deserve far more coverage than I am going to put into a wine review, and perhaps I will re-tell their story in a separate piece. They tend to be fairly humble about it themselves, although their website is a wealth of information about Rhone varieties, and one of the best single online sources of information. Jason also publishes a blog on the website. He doesn't promote it heavily nor does it receive the full recognition it deserves – its one of the best written winery blogs in existent in my discoveries, especially if you are a Rhone lover. Jason has also played a significant role (told here) in the growth and evolution of the Rhone Rangers, and its been my pleasure to work with him this year as an active supporting member.
Tablas has played a strong leadership role in the US Rhone movement. Their assistance in helping propagate Rhone grapevines to other growers, instead of keeping to themselves. contributed greatly to the role of Paso Robles as the stronghold of Rhone wines in this country. For this reason, I select Tablas Creek, as the first of my 'Winery of the Month.'
This wine has an interesting origin and a new path for Tablas, that I wholly applaud both in conc
ept and especially in the results. Jason outline the full story in a blog post. While it sounds like a good problem to have, Tablas Creek has run out of wine several years in a row. Growth of sales, combined with drought years double hit them, with a variance as high as 7k cases less production. DTC wine sales have grown to 10k cases a year. As a result, for several years in a row, distributors received less wine than requested. This is not a good problem to have, frustration like this can result in loss of a distributor.
Prior to Patelin, Tablas Creek had never sourced fruit from the outside, it was always estate. Yet Rhone growers in Paso Robles had excess, the last few years, and many of them had planted Tablas clones. Tablas decided to combine these two phenomenon and create a relief valve. By purchasing fruit from top, sustainable local growers, for this single label, they are able to buffer demand in lean harvest years, and have a home for excess fruit in bumper harvests. Its also a few dollars less than their other white blend, Côtes de Tablas Blanc.
The two new wines are named Patelin de Tablas and Patelin de Tablas Blanc. Patelin is French slang roughly translated as “country neighborhood”. Growers were chosen for the care they take in their vineyards, and for the track records of the wines that these vineyards have produced. All are in the neighborhood. The growers are named explicitly on the labels; each wine will list the vineyards that contributed fruit, with the percentage of the wine that each accounted for.
Wine Review – Tablas Creek 2010 Patelin de Tablas Blanc
As someone now making Rhone whites, bottling soon, and trying to figure out my blend, I have huge new appreciation for the complexity, and less available direct experience in Rhone wines making in Northern California that I can refer to. I am working with the same four varietals for my small personal project, and could only hope to achieve a wine of this quality.
While the Côtes de Tablas Blanc. is more Viognier based, with Grenache Blanc as the smallest component, the Patelin Blanc leads with Grenache Blanc (50%), then 33% Viognier, 10% Roussanne, and 7% Marsanne. Whole cluster pressed, and fermented in stainless steel, only native yeasts were used. Bottled in February 2011.
- Viognier from the biodynamically-farmed Chequera Vineyard in the cool Templeton Gap
- Tablas-clone Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc from the Edward Sellers Vineyard in the Templeton Gap
- Tablas-clone Grenache Blanc from the Dawson's Creek Vineyard in the limestone-rich El Pomar region of Templeton
- Tablas-clone Grenache Blanc from Catherine's Vineyard in El Pomar
- Grenache Blanc from the Tablas Creek estate vineyard.
Color: Vibrant, clear, pale yellow straw.
On the Nose: Stone fruit, citrus, hint of floral.
In the Mouth: Be sure to drink this at proper temperature (aka not overchilled) to experience its nuances. For a wine that is $20 retail, it has a lot of complexity. Light, pleasant and fresh, on the front palate, it picks up weight and density in the mid palate, coating the tonque, and finishing with great mouthfeel and lingering acidity, and some minerality. A pleasing combination of lemon, peach, more stone fruit and citrus. Pairs well with a variety of foods due to the mouthfeel and acidity, fish, chicken, paella,
Recommendations: Buy, drink, before gone. Priced like a house wine, drinks like Friday night bottle. $20 retail. (or join Vinsiders Wine Club, $16.) Buy it online. Look for these National distributors. You Bay area people can find it at K&L Wine as well. (11 left, hurry!) 93 Points, Highly Recommend.
This week's Wine of the Week (WoW) is one that makes you go hmmm. I admire Parducci for their focus on sustainability for which they have received accolades. I also admire, especially with this review, how they can make some of the quality wines they do, at the price they do.
Leary of 'Value' Pinot Noir
I dabble lightly in US wines under $20, especially those under $15, without a very trusted recommendation or personal tasting. Too many purchased bottles have gone down the drain, and I might has well have spent more money to begin with. Life is simply to short to drink mediocre wine.
Of the varietals I am most cautious in value wines, Pinot Noir tops the list. If you know much about Pinot, it's more expensive for a reason; its difficult to grow, does best with low yields, and doesn't generally do well with large lot production techniques. These qualities often don't translate into high potential for good quality value wine.
Pinot Noir is also (or should be) a more subtle, nuanced variety, and the more you become acquainted with her the harder it is to drink poorly made expressions, which often have little characteristic of the seductive wine she should be.
A Wine Without Shortcuts
The Winemaker notes sent with the sample, (signed by Bob Swain) as well as on the website are indicative of none of the shortcuts I'd expect for a wine of this caliber and price.
First, its 100% Pinot Noir, with nothing blended in for color, flaw coverage, etc.
Second, 69% of the grapes were sourced from Mendocino County, a region that takes pride in what it grows, and its Pinot Noir.
Third, it was fermented in single lots, and aged in 15% French new oak, the remainder neutral oak.
I have to also give Parducci credit for the use of simple, but effective marketing tools, like this video where 30 year veteran winemaker discusses his approach, and his love of Pinot Noir. The results show.
Wine Review: Parducci 2009 Pinot Noir – California Wood Pellets Guide : www.biomasspelletmill.com/affiliates.php
When I first opened this wine, it was enjoyable, but I wondered if on the simpler side. A short period of time in the glass, some twirls, and she reveals herself.
Color: Garnet, Medium Red, Clear. The color Pinot Noir more often should be, a pleasant surprise in a wine world afraid consumers equate dark color with quality. (false)
On the Nose: Aromatic: Cherry, Strawberry, and hints of pie spice, cola, come out as I swirl my Burgundy glass.
In the Mouth: Red berry, Cranberry. More quaffable, elegant, than substantially higher priced Pinot's. Hats off – this is a Pinot Lovers Pinot Noir, not some bulk wine infused with Syrah. Kudos on the 13.5% alcohol, in a world full of 15+% fruit bombs. Also kudos on restrained use of oak; new oak barrels are not supposed to Manifest Destiny.
The finish is lingering, with nice acidity that makes the mouth water, and make you want more. Did I mention this was $12?
Recommendations: Highly recommended buy. Pinot lovers now have no reason to not enjoy quality Pinot as their everyday wine. 90+ Points.
Where to Buy: Luckily for consumers, this is distributed nationally, for as long as 26k cases last. You may also buy it online for $12 a bottle, or $144 a case. (media sample)
Food Pairings: A well made Pinot is a very versatile wine for food pairings at this one fits the bill. Grilled chicken or salmon. Leaner cuts of red meat like pork, a filet. Pizza or Pasta with red sauce.
Wine Geek Info:
- VARIETAL: 100% PINOT NOIR
- ALCOHOL: 13.5% BY VOLUME
- COOPERAGE: AGED 6 MONTHS
- 15% NEW FRENCH OAK
- 85% SEASONED OAK & REDWOOD TANK
- TA: 0.605G / 100ML
- PH: 3.68
- BOTTLED: OCTOBER 2010
- CASES: 26,900
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It’s the time again, wineries are releasing their new 2010 Rosé. It’s been great to see dry (non sweet) rosé wines come back into vogue and many producers I have spoke with have increased production this year. (My apologies to readers for lack of posts and reviews. The double edged sword of gaining in visibility is being pulled in many directions, as well as a very demanding regular job.)
“Real wine drinkers don’t drink Rosé.” When I hear that (or the same comment on white) I quietly gnash my teeth, weep for the ignorance, and hope that one day someone or something will enlighten them. Don’t choke on that Cabernet.
Rosé is made from red grapes. If you go to a wine tasting, pouring white, pink, and reds, you will notice they are poured in THAT order.
Most Rosé today is not your sweet, white zin ‘blush’ wine, its juice pressed off of Red wine grapes after some skin contact, and fermented dry, just like your normal red or white wine. Its meant to be drunk only lightly chilled, and enjoyed as an apertif or with a variety of foods, especially summer grilled fare.
Rhone red wines make wonderful Rosé, generally much better than Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet, Merlot etc. (Although you can find them.) Recently I tried the new Syrah Rosé from Mounts Family Winery and the Rhone blend Rosé from Quivira, both Dry Creek Valley producers, both under $20, and both I don’t expect to last long. I will endeavor to review these as well, but consider this a strong recommendation.
Grenache can make an exceptionally wonderful Rosé, so I was pleased to see the new Bonny Doon Vin Gris was 71% grenache. What is more intriguing is the percentage of Rhone whites blended in, in this case 16% Roussanne, and 11% Grenache Blanc. (also 2% Mourvedre.) Something I will have to remember for my own home Rosé science projects.
I could barely keep this gem in the glass as I was reviewing it, it’s so highly drinkable. I thought it a perfect ‘Wine of the Week.’ I have also been asked why I don’t review more wines under $20, so Ta Da – here is a winner!
To the Eye: Gorgeous, light salmon color
On The Nose: Red fruit, rose petals, and strawberry on the nose
In The Mouth: Apple, red fruit, modest citrus touch of stone fruit. Mouthwatering, balanced acidity is heavenly when combined with the mouth feel from lees (yeast sediment) stirring. This is a practice often done in white wines to add texture and mouthfeel, and works very well here. I suspect the Roussanne also adds some richness.) Good minerality (think wet stone) contributed from whites. Glad its only 12.8& alcohol, as it goes down easy.
Food Pairing: Ridiculously quaffable solo. I am sure it pairs with all kinds of foods, but right now I am embracing it with only my taste buds. I’d go for grilled fish, chicken, veggies, if any is left.
Recommendation: Buy. Now. Usually for Rosé the rule of thumb is to consume that year, but some do age, and indeed Randall Grahm recommends “Delicious today but will develop added richness and aroma with an additional 6-12 months of bottle age.”
As I wrote recently in the article ‘‘Shipping Included’ – the Future of Direct to Consumer? An interview with Bonny Doon Vineyard’ Bonny Doon is taking an aggressive approach to shipping costs. Earlier this year, shipping was included for $99. For the month of April its included in a case. Mix and match, they have many great wines under $20. And join the wine club to save another 15%. It feels like robbery. (I just received a mixed case.)
Wine Geek Info:
- Varietal Blend: 71% grenache, 16% roussanne, 11% grenache blanc, and 2% mourvèdre
- Appellation: Central Coast, California
- Alcohol by Volume: 12.8%
- TA: 0.45 g/100 ml
- pH: 3.5
- Production: 3,298 cases
Enjoy – and thanks for reading Simple Hedonisms Wine Blog – if you like what you read, spread the word and share the article – cheers!