Archive for the ‘Wine Reviews’ Category
By Nikki Lincoln
As some of you may know, this week started off with a big event in San Francisco known as Bay to Breakers. I enthusiastically participated and after all was said and done, I was looking forward to taking a little break from drinking so no wine was cracked open for a couple of days. However, that didn’t last long and by Tuesday I was back on the wine grind.
Tuesday I’d finally felt recovered from Bay to Breakers and decided to go to Happy Hour with a couple of work friends. My only requirement was that the place have wine so I was happy when RN74 was thrown out as an option.
My coworker and I were in a particularly silly mood and after spending the whole walk laughing and joking around, I decided it would be nice to cool down with a crisp white. Ideally, when I want something cool and refreshing, Sauvignon Blanc is my go to so I was happy to see one on the menu, and extra excited that it was from the Loire Valley after having read about it earlier in the day. The wine was very light and refreshing with mild flavor and acid.
For my second glass, I decided to go for a Grenache from Southern Rhone. My friends all decided to follow suit and it was fun to see that they all trusted my judgement. This wine was big and fun with an earthiness to it. We enjoyed it so much that we decided to get a second glass. If drinking this wine at home though, I think it would do a little better having some time to breath in a decanter or passed through an aerator.
After the three glasses of wine, we were all in fine spirits and despite one friend having tickets to the Giants game (now close to being over), we decided to try one more wine. I thought it would be fun to try something I wasn’t familiar with at all and went with the Louis Antoine Pais from Chile. The bartender then proceeded to explain the wine to me and warn that I shouldn’t be shocked by the hint of bubbles since this wine was a little “gassy.” Needless to say, my coworker erupted in a fit of giggles over this. I really enjoyed the wine and I love a bit of effervescence in a wine, especially when it unexpectedly comes from a red. Next time I come back to RN74, this is going to be the first wine I order so I can get a better idea of the taste.
All in all, it was a very fun happy hour both in company and location. I love when a bar has a great selection of wine by the glass since it let’s me try more wines that I might not normally have access to. It’s also fun to share my interest with my friends, as well as a bunch of laughs. I did feel bad about my friend missing the Giants game though so I promised next time we’ll go somewhere that he can at least watch it.
SAUVIGNON BLANC, JEAN-CLAUDE ROUX QUINCY, LOIRE VALLEY, FRANCE 2011 $12/glass
GRENACHE, PIAUGIER GIGONDAS, SOUTHERN RHONE, FRANCE 2010 $16/glass
PAIS, LOUIS ANTOINE LUYT QUENEHUAO, MAULE VALLEY, CHILE 2011 $12/glass
Macallan Finest Cut Event
A couple of months ago some friends and I went to a Macallan tasting event. I’m sure you’ve heard of these – they put you in a big pretty room, give you a free cocktail and then some samples while an MC shows you a video and explains why the scotch is superior to others. Basically, they’re a really fun time to try a new spirit with your pals. So a couple of weeks ago when I got an email about another Macallan tasting event, I was caught off guard. Hadn’t I JUST gone to one of these? However, upon opening it, I was pleased to find out that this was a smaller scale event at a local whiskey restaurant, Nihon. I enthusiastically signed up and invited a friend who went with me to the big event.
This event baffled me in the best way possible. Having been to plenty of events where the idea is to sell you on something, it was oddly refreshing to show up in a room, be handed two tasting coupons, and be told to sit anywhere and enjoy the free (very fancy) sushi. The only announcement that was made was to let everyone know that it was actually a charity event for the World Children’s Initiative and that they were making a donation on behalf of all of the attendees. Well played, Macallan, well played. In addition to having great scotch (and an ice ball machine), you also have a place in my heart for just being really, really good people.
2010 Coppola Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon
After the Macallan event, we decided to go back to my apartment for some wine and GeoGuessr (the most addicting game on the Internet, I’m sorry). I was feeling a big red so I decided to open up the 2010 Coppola Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon. This actually ended up being surprisingly light for a Cab. I picked out some blackberry tones and felt that it was the kind of red that would be very enjoyable to drink in the summer. That particular note in red wine is nice in that blackberries aren’t known for having an overwhelming flavor and likewise, this was a gentler red. I could imagine being able to enjoy it even on a warm day.
We decided to end the night with one more wine. This time I decided to open a wine I had received as a sample. The 2011 Mirassou Cabernet Sauvignon was much more robust than the previous Cab. The flavor was fruity and had more black currant tones than blackberry. The slight jamminess of the wine was a noticeable contrast compared to the Coppola Cabernet.
2011 Coppola Director’s Cut Chardonnay
The next day brought us to Chardonnay Day and the arrival of Momma Lincoln. Lucky for me, this was a fortuitous coincidence as my mother loves Chardonnay. I decided to pop a bottle of 2011 Coppola Director’s Cut Chardonnay in fridge as I waited for her much delayed flight to arrive. She was very happy to arrive at my apartment and be immediately treated to a glass of her favorite kind of wine.
The wine was very light with an almost floral nose that I presume to be the presence of the cloves that the tasting notes suggest. I hadn’t had a Chardonnay in a while and had forgotten how different the acidity is than a Sauvignon Blanc or the other whites I’d had recently. It was interesting to think about those differences more and figuring out my preferences. More importantly though – Mom liked it.
2011 Pueblo Del Sol Sauvignon Blanc
For the rest of Mom’s visit, I wasn’t actively keeping track of the drinks we had because I just wanted to enjoy spending time with her. However, Saturday night, after spending the day rearranging my apartment and setting up some much needed wine racks, she picked out a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc she wanted to try. As it was a sample that I was given, I told her I should probably take notes on it… and I’m so glad I did.
This wine was exactly what I look for in a Sauvignon Blanc. It was very dry and acidic with a crisp apple flavor. I really enjoyed this wine and I am definitely going to find where I can buy a few bottles because this would be perfect for a picnic on one of those rare warm SF days or with some oysters.
Last week was a pretty busy drinking week for me so now that Momma Lincoln has left, I’ve decided to take a few days off from the vino. My big drinking this week will be at a couple more specific tastings so no wines of the week next week, but I’ll try to post something regardless.
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’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
I am back! Finally catching up after Eighteen days in Europe – Denmark, Portugal, and the balance in France – with glorious tastings in Chablis and the Northern Rhone, where Syrah is the red grape of choice (and AOC law.)
For those of you still snickering over Syrah, cracking pneumonia jokes etc – move on. Syrah’s Darwinist down phase is over - Moscato or some other ‘varietal great white hope’ is next.
In truth, this ‘market correction’ was needed. Way too much bad syrah was being made, as well as planted in wrong places everywhere.
People and places that had no business being in Syrah are gone. Good riddance. The strong have survived. Incredible syrahs, especially from cool climate are in
high demand, and increasing in price, from small, talented, cult producers.
Pining For The Northern Rhone
I spent a week in the Northern Rhone, with 12 deep, technical tastings, my glass graced with some of the Rockstars of the Northern Rhone: Gangloff, Faury, Allemand, to name a few.
My first week back, as a sanity check, I popped open a bottle from Randall Grahm, the US veteran Rhone Ranger. How would his modest priced Rhone – Syrah offering fare?
(PS – Randall – they love you over there.)
At 13.5% alcohol, Mostly/all Neutral oak (thats my guess), solid acid/pH numbers, and most importantly, great flavor profile, Bonny Doon delivers the CA syrah goods at an every day price point.
- To The Eye: inky deep purple, reminiscent of Cornas, no light shall pass!
- On The Nose: Smoked meat, black olive tapenade, modest black fruits.
- In The Mouth: Well balanced. Dark black fruit, bacon notes, savory notes, good texture and soft tannins.
This is a rock solid syrah. BDV “Doon’ Members get this at a meager $21. Thats Syrah you can enjoy on a weeknight and feel great about.
This wine is officially sold out and the tasting room is selling the new 2010, but there is some online to buy
and its in some retail channels still. Grab some now! (I just re-ordered.)
Notes from Randall:
I don’t usually wholesale plagiarize a wine makers notes – but no one says it like Randall. How can you not love this man’s words?!
“La syrah,” the French say—syrah is deeply and elementally feminine—is perfumed elegance. Enchanting and capitvating rather than overpowering, it disarms by its strangeness. Like Borge’s Zahir, syrah makes an indelible impression. One will wander the world till the end of one’s days, its sublime, haunting fragrance gradually displacing all thoughts and memories, including the knowledge of one’s own name.
Oh those Europeans and European-styled wines! Initially very closed when you first meet them. Air (and time) lures them out of their protective cocoon.
Our ’09 Syrah “Le Pousseur” is named for an alchemist and trickster, but is withal an incredibly accessible wine, great by the glass but also a felicitous partner to all manner of roasted meats, poultry, game, wild mushrooms, and well aged cheeses.
Wine Geek Info:
- Varietal Blend: 100% syrah
- Appellation: Central Coast
- Vineyards: 56% Alamo Creek, 32% Bien Nacido, 12% Chequera
- Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
- TA: 0.58 g/L
- pH: 3.73
- Serving Temp: 55-60ºF
- Cellaring: 5+ years from release (May 2012)
- Production: 1200 cases
It’s that time of year – sparking wine & champagne flows (more) freely.
My love affair with Champagne
(true Champagne, sparkling wine from the region) is growing, much to the detriment of my wallet.
This sparkler is now one of my favorite Champagnes, an exciting blend of texture & acidity, with the broad(er) flavor profile of a Rosé.
I confess sparkling Rosé is my favorite – as much as my palate is acid driven, Blanc de Blanc is sometimes a bit too much for me, and I lean toward the red fruit of Rosé.
Tasting Notes: Paul Bara Champagne Grand Cru Brut Grand Rosé
To The Eye: The color immediately draws the eyes: a bright salmon orange. An incredible stream of tiny bubbles, make it gorgeous to behold.
On The Nose: expressive: blood orange, cream, seashells, strawberry.
In The Mouth: The palate is a delight. The front palate is bright strawberry, citrus/orange, the mid palate has great minerality and texture, the finish is red fruits, red apple, and pleasant lingering mouthwatering acidity.
This sparkling wine is stunning in every way. Worth a splurge for the holidays for sure. Or hell, I could drink
this every Friday.
A blend of 80% Pinot Noir & 20% Chardonnay. Imported by Kermit Lynch.
Available in their Berkeley store. Not too pricey for a Grand Cru at $60
I loved the 2009, which Jon Bonne’ picked as a top 100 wine of 2010, but if memory serves (sorry not digging into the cellar, although some 2009 is still for sale on BDV website) I like the 2010 even more.
This year’s blend is less a cornucopia as the 2009, made from 68% Carignane, 32% Syrah. Fermented with native yeast, in individual lots.
Carignane can be a difficult grape to vinify, tannic and harsh if over extracted and not worked with properly. Or wonderfully complex, meaty, and layered, as this example shows.
The QR code on label is a great resource – shows you local places to buy and price.
- To The Eye: A dark, menacing inky purple that if you gaze at too long may mesmerize you.
- On The Nose: Complex, layered. Meatiness, dark fruit, plums, black cherry, spice. There is a lot going on to enjoy.
- In The Mouth: As one might expect, the carnival of an aroma profile carries over to the palate: Blackberry, dark
fruit, hints of red fruits, its both bright and fresh from lively acidity, and slightly brooding, at the same time.
- Recommendation: A must buy for under $20. Received
a media sample, but as a Bonny Doon wine club member I’ll be receiving more.
Wine Geek Info:
- Varietal Composition: 68% Carignane, 32% Syrah
- Appellation: 68% Contra Costa, 25% San Luis Obispo, 7% Santa Maria
- Vineyards: 68% Gonsalves, 25% Alamo Creek, 7% Bien Nacido
- Alcohol by Volume: 13.7%
- TA: 5.8 g/L
- pH: 3.64
- Production: 1,989 cases
Valdiguié is a red wine grape grown primarily in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. In California it had been known as Napa Gamay and until 1980 Napa Gamay was believed to be the Gamay grape of Beaujolais.
After DNA anal
ysis the name ‘Napa Gamay’ has been banned from U.S. wine labels since January 1999. (Confusingly both the Pinot Noir clone Gamay Beaujolais and ‘Napa Gamay’ could be labelled ‘Gamay Beaujolais’, a name banned on labels from April 2007.) Guess the TTB is useful after all!
This wonderful bottle of Valdiguié is sourced from a what may be the oldest Valdiguie vineyard planted in the Knight’s Valley AVA. Fortunately it hasn’t been ripped out and re-planted to Cabernet Sauvignon which would be much more profitable. The vineyard is 60+ years old and produces a low yield 2 tons per acre. The vines are head pruned and dry farmed.
Vinification: Harvested October 28th & 29th
2011. 100% carbonic maceration
with 100% whole cluster fermentation and 100% ML secondary fermentation. Aged in neutral oak for four months, sterile filtered and bottled.
Review: 2011 Paul Mathew Valdiguié Turner Vineyard
- On The Nose: pleasant notes of strawberry, fresh raspberry, hint of cotton candy
- In The Mouth: An easy drinking, not complex, fun wine, if you like softer lighter reds. Likely not appreciated by some red blooded males who aren’t wine geeks or fans of Gamay (Beaujolais.)
Not structured like a Brouilly, but at this price point ($20) a fun summer wine. I’d be curious to see what this wine was like unfiltered. (Given 2011 challenges, not surprised it was though.)
- Recommendation. 89 Points. Buy a few bottles to drink this summer. Can serve lightly (lightly!) chilled even, Enjoy with grilled veggies, chicken. Or drinks quite nicely on its own, on the patio or watching live music in the Park.
Buy online for $20. Only Two hundred cases produced. Media Sample.
Dutton-Goldfield continues to climb
as a personal local favorite – not just for Pinot Noir, their specialty, but other interesting small lot wines as well. Tonight we taste anoth
er small lot, well made Pinot from Dutton-Goldfield.
Despite its youthful age, its showing wonderfully already, although I think a few more bottles to lay down for a few years are in order.
I always wonder why we don’t see more wine grown in Marin County (perhaps save the price of land) and this wine serves to ponder it again.
Tasting Notes: 2010 Dutton-Goldfield Pinot Noir Azaya Ranch, Marin County
- To The Eye:A slightly darker ruby red, although clearly still Pinot by its color.
- On The Nose: Strawberries leap out of the glass, with undertones of spice and bramble.
- In The Mouth: Bright cranberry, cherry notes with lively acidity dance on the tongue. If you are looking for a Pinot fruit bomb, move on.
(Or buy a bottle, drink it and evolve your palate.) There is plenty of fruit, but it’s vibrant and fresh not big and jammy, with a lingering finish.
I enjoyed it more after being open for 15-30 minutes. Decanting not required, but allows it to show even better.
Recommendation: 91 points. Buy. Drink and enjoy now. Or buy 3-6 bottles and try them over time. The acidity will preserve the fresh vibrant fruit for years.
Unlike those hot jammy fruit bombs in your
$58 at the winery. Media Sample
Wine Geek Info:
- ph: 3.60
- TA: .62
- Alcohol: 13.8%
- Cases Made: 190
- Barrel Program: 11 Months in French oak, 50% new
It’s been a fun month of Rosé tasting, as part of my Rosé Panel/Series (see: A Call For Rosé – May Panel Rev
iew (Drink Pink!)
iew (Drink Pink!)) I am about half way through 60 or so samples, which means I need to crank up the pace! Rather than sit down and do 10-20 at once, and risk palate fatigue, and insufficient attention, I have been tasting in small batches. You can see results, so far, on my Cellartracker event. By early June, I will release a series of summary articles and standouts, take a quick break, and then dive into a special Sauvignon Blanc themed series I will announce shortly.
My apologies for less writing this month – it’s a perfect storm of many things; end of the quarter for my new day job, lots of travel, the winery project, the vineyard and more. June promised a bit more normalcy.
Now, onto the business at hand.
Santa Barbara County and Rhone Wines
Santa Barbara county is a Rhone destination, I am long overdue to tour. (I make a quick in/out trip each year tSanta Ynez to pick up Grenache Blanc grapes.) While Paso Robles is considered the motherlode of Central Coast, and indeed California Rhones, Santa Barbara county is not far behind, and with its cooler climate and nights, typically produces wines well balanced wines of lower alcohol.
I am hoping sometime this summer or fall, to make an 2-3 media tour and visit wineries, whom many I have tried, but never visited. Curtis is one of these, especially after tasting this Rosé, one of the standouts in my panel so far.
2011 Curtis Heritage Rosé – Santa Barbara
Curtis Winery and winemaker Chuck Carlson, have been dedicated to Rhone wines since its inception. In fact they state:
..we put down roots as one of California’s first wineries dedicated exclusively to Rhône-style wines. Since then, nothing has changed. We still live for Rhônes.
The 2011 blend has changed cheap viagra from the 2010 to be Mourvedre, not Grenache based. (54% Mourvedre, 25% Syrah, 21% Grenache.)
To The Eye: The color is a light pale pink.
Nose:A Fresh fruit bowl of wild strawberry. rose hips, and watermelon
In The Mouth: The wine is a delight; bright, lively, with very quaff-able flavors of strawberry, watermelon Jolly Ranger, citrus and raspberry, The acidity is bright and pleasing, and the alcohol, while not high at 14.3, is a reminder that numbers are numbers, and a wine, including Rosé can taste balanced in a wide range of empirical values. The finish is long, lingering, and mouth watering….making you want another sip.
Recommendation: A must buy, if you like Rosé. 92 points.
At $18 online, stock up for the summer while some is left. Media Sample. Call 805.686.8999 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out if distributed near you, or have them ship 6 bottles, it won’t last long.
by Katherine Parker
I attended PINK OUT! SF this week, an event eagerly anticipated and long-awaited by me. PINK OUT! is an annual wine tasting and food-pairing celebration focused entire
ly on Rosé wines. It’s hosted by Chef Robert Lam at the San Francisco waterfront location of his Butterfly Restaurant. PINK OUT! SF, in its 8th year, is organized by the Rosé Avengers and Producers (RAP).
Rosé came onto my radar when I moved to Sonoma in 2009 and started classes in the wine studies program at Santa Rosa JC. Instructors like Bob Frazer, Ray Johnson and others opened my palate to a broad spectrum of wine varietals and winemaking styles I had never considered drinking. Rosé was one of those.
Living on the border of Carneros, Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Coast, I was soon smitten. My piece “Romance with Rosé,” became one of Simple Hedonisms’ most popular. When I found out there would be a tasting of 30+ Rosé wines in one place, I was excited. The wines, the Butterfly waterfront venue and food, and the sassy spirit of PINK OUT! SF lived up to my expectations and more.
Rosé is so versatile. Think of the many ways you can use and enjoy it: As a low(er) alcohol wine for a business or vacation lunch (Envolve or Korbin Kameron); as a mouth-cleansing refresher with spicy Asian or BBQ food (Lasseter Family); as an appetite-stimulant with a plate of fabulous cheeses (Dunstan or Kokomo); as a celebration wine, when you want a Pink Champagne with (Gloria Ferrer) or without the bubbles (Chateau D’Esclans) as an aperitif for a festive occasion. Also, a very good Rosé can be had for a great price. Of 40 or so wines, most are priced under $25 with several good value Rosés at $14-18. These were just a few faces of Rosé at PINK OUT! SF.
I found Rosés of all origins, varietals and colors at PINK OUT! SF: France, Spain and Australia; Sonoma and Napa; Yolo and Lake county grapes are represented. There are Rosés made from Grenache, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Syrah, Sangiovese, Vermentino, Zinfandel … to name a few. And at least one (MidSummer Cellars) co-fermented with Viognier (Like!).
Straw. Pale Gold. Silver. Platinum. Peach. Salmon. Pink-Pink.Foamy Pink. Licorice Red Candy. Clear Ruby. Hot-Pink! Deep-Pink. Take your pick of pink.
As a whole I found the wines well made. I had a few favorites, which are influenced by my personal preferences (running to dry, low-alcohol Rosé, particularly of Pinot Noir, a varietal I favor).
Kokomo Grenache Rosé 2011. Grapes from Pauline’s Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma CA. This wine is elegant in every dimension: Crystal clear pale platinum in color, dry berry bramble nose, round and mouth-filling on the palette. Drinks well by itself and would pair excellently with an aged Spanish Manchego cheese, shellfish or naturally seasoned grilled pork. It was the perfect accompaniment to Chef Lam’s spicy paella. 13% Alcohol, $22.
Dunstan Rosé, 2011. Signature salmon color,
light fragrant nose, dry and cleansing on the palette. Balanced and satisfying. From Sonoma’s famed Durrell Vineyard Pinot Noir grapes.
VML 2011, Rosé of Pinot Noir. Winemaker Virginia (Ginny) Lambrix (Truett-Hurst and VML labels) made this lovely Rosé of Pinot, which retails for $19.
Many other wines here were also worthy of mention:
Chateau D’Esclans, Whispering Angel Rosé 2011, and Rosé 2011 from Cotes de Provence, France. Whispering Angel seems to create a category all it’s own. Made from a blend of 7 varietals – predominantly Grenache and Rolle – it is silvery pink in color, soft and round, and so light it seems to evaporate pleasantly in the mouth. Almost like champagne without the bubbles. 14% alcohol, $19. I liked the Rosé 2011 for its direct and structured approach – Grenache and Rolle with 20% oak. 14% alcohol, $35.
Gloria Ferrer was memorable for sparklers. They I tasted a couple of interesting and well-priced Spanish pink wines, Segura Viudas NV Brut Rosé ($8) and Freixenet NV Rosado Brut ($13). These were great paired with the oyster appetizers.
DEFINE Wines 2011 Syrah/Grenache Rosé. A new entrant with a finely-tuned, bold and fruity 13.5% alcohol Rosé. $38.
Carneros Wine Co., 2011 Fleur de California Rosé of Pinot Noir. Made from grapes from Carneros and Suisun Valley, this is a straightforward refreshing Rosé. Perfect for lunch at 12.5% alcohol and $14 retail.
Chef Lam put together a menu of spicy paella, grilled-cheese burgers and salad that paired so well with the Rosé tasting it was a hard act to follow. Then it was followed by platters of cheeses with cornbread triangles that made me realize how much the cheese and the Rosé wanted to be together. The waterfront location is ideal with its floor to ceiling windows and open kitchen. I will be back soon to discover the menu and waterfront vistas.
At the same time my interest in Rosé developed, Rosé winemaking styles have been rapidly evolving from a “what shall we do with the leftovers?” into an art and craft of Rosé. This event expresses the accessibility, diversity and enthusiasm of today’s Rosé. It’s on my calendar for next year on the second Tuesday of May. That should give me enough time to shop for something pink and sassy to wear in 2013.