Archive for the ‘Wine Reviews’ Category
By Nikki Lincoln
Here is the second part of my post on November wines. Part one can be found here.
Cline 2012 Ancient Vines Zinfandel
This wine was a sample sent over a few months ago. I had wanted to hold onto it for a little while but I had been craving a good Zinfandel and decided to open the Cline Ancient Vines sample. I’m glad I opened it when I did as it was light for a Zin and had nice pepper and smokiness to it. It was also very acidic which I particularly enjoyed. I definitely thought this was a great value for all of the complexity in the wine. I would love to pick up a few more bottles of this to have around when I don’t feel like opening something too pricey but still want a good quality wine.
I am a huge football fan, but after giving up beer several months ago, finding an alternative beverage for tailgates and other beer heavy events has been a bit of a challenge. Obviously wine has been a big go-to for me, but a lot of wines that I have I would rather save for an occasion when I can really sit and taste it and appreciate it. I decided to grab the Vinum White Elephant Table Wine because I had gotten it rather cheap from a wine club. The wine ended up really surprising me. It was an extremely well balanced blend of 59% Chenin Blanc, 26% Roussanne, and 15% Viognier. It was light and refreshing and perfect for a warm, outdoor setting such as a tailgate. I normally don’t take notes on the things I drink in a party/tailgate setting but I knew I had to tell you all about this one.
Price: $20 (but can be found for closer to $10)
Sheldon 2007 Deviant Velocity
I won the Deviant Velocity at an open house for Sheldon Wines, Krutz Family Vineyards, and Two Shepherds. I had been feeling under the weather and wasn’t up for doing any wine tasting which had made me pretty sad. I decided to throw a few dollars in to buy some raffle tickets to win a case of wine. I actually ended up winning and was able to take home a box of the wines that I hadn’t been able to try, including Sheldon’s Deviant Velocity 100% Petite Sirah. The wine was full of plum and blackberry flavors with some pepper as well. It was another wine that felt perfect for fall. When I went through my pictures, I also found it funny that my devious cat snuck into the background to give me one of her judgmental glares.
I always lose track of the different wine days. I really need to find a wine calendar or something because I always end up finding out about them at the last minute and I get really sad if I don’t have that particular variety. When I got an email from the TAPAS society that the next day was Tempranillo Day, I was really happy that I had a bottle of the Imagery High Valley Tempranillo. The wine had high acidity and a taste of tart blackberries and spice. I loved how light and complex it was for a Tempranillo. I saw a few older reviews from last year that said it needed more time. I think the extra year really helped this wine develop properly because it was tasting great when I had it last month. On another note, I ended up finding a few more bottles of Tempranillo after the fact…
Price: Unavailable directly
by Nikki Lincoln
I had a very crazy November and although I didn’t have time to write, I definitely made sure to taste lots of amazing wines. I hadn’t realized just how many of the wines I had last month were truly spectacular until I had to back up all of my pictures on the eve of getting a new cell phone. I had to make sure all of my tasting notes were saved somewhere in case they didn’t transfer to the new phone and in the process I realized that I better get writing so I can share all of these things with you!
Once I got everything down, I realized it would be better for me to split this post into two so you can look forward to the second half next week!
Kivelstadt 2011 Father’s Watch Red Blend
I tried my first Kivelstadt wine a few months ago at Hotel Biron. It was an amazing Rose of Mouvedre and I was excited to see that the winery made several other Rhone varietals. I was able to get some samples and was very excited to start trying them. The first of the bunch was the Father’s Watch Red Blend, a blend of Syrah, Carignan, Mouvedre, and Grenache. The wine had lovely pomegranate, earth, and leather flavors. It had a great balance of all of the varietals (which are some of my favorites on their own as well). The wine was quite light for a predominantly Syrah blend and was very enjoyable both on its own and with food. The Kivelstadt wines continue to impress me and I’m excited to crack into more of the samples.
Alamos 2012 Torrontes
The Alamos Torrontes is another wine I received as a sample. I had been very impressed with the Malbec when I had tried it a few months ago and was looking forward to trying more of their Argentinian style wines. When I decided to have a creamy soup for dinner one night, I knew I wanted to grab a bright, acidic wine to help cut the heaviness of the dish. The pear and green apple of this wine really had the crisp flavor that I was looking for and it paired wonderfully with what would have otherwise been a very heavy dinner.
Fenestra 2012 Alvarelhão
I came across Fenestra at the TAPAS Tempranillo tasting and was happy to see that their wines included many Portuguese varietals in addition to Tempranillo. I had never heard of Alvarelhão and fell in love with it as soon as I tasted it. I bought a few bottles and after looking up their wines for this post, am really happy that I did. It seems as though they do not always sell the wine. If you happen across it, I would strongly suggest buying some.
The wine has a beautiful ruby color with tastes of blueberry, raspberry, plum, and cherry. The flavor intensifies with each taste, and truly is an amazing wine. I would really like to get out to Livermore and track down a few more bottles of this interesting varietal.
William Hill 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
I’m a sucker for traditions, no matter how small they might be. The rule is, if you’ve done it twice, it’s a tradition. One of my most persistent traditions is watching V for Vendetta every November 5th. Sometimes the date sneaks up on me and I have to push the movie back a day or two but luckily there are usually plenty of Facebook reminders to make sure I don’t miss it all together.
I decided to pair this bold movie with an equally robust wine and went with a sample of the William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine had a bright red fruit flavor with dark cherry and blackberry as well. I also picked up a lot of the oak flavor from the barrel which added a nice spice touch. The wine felt very appropriate for fall and was perfect for my movie watching.
By Nikki Lincoln
After a few weeks of traveling and then starting my new job, I feel like I'm finally getting settled into everything and ready to get back to my regularly scheduled blog posts. I'm pulling together several event write ups and things but in the meantime, I'm still working my way through the home collection as well and thought the best way for me to jump back into my regular writing was to resume my “What I Drank Last Week” series.
Last week was the perfect week to get back to a more mellow routine – after a very fun Outside Lands that resulted in me losing my wallet, I was very eager to stay in and open up a few bottles at home.
2011 Beringer White Merlot
One of the major things I wanted to do after my career change was to re-establish a gym schedule. As some of you may know, I've been a member of a climbing gym for over four years now but I fall in and out of actually being a regular attendee. With a lot of friends getting passes to my gym and climbing gear, I knew a good way to get back into my own workout routine would be to plan to climb with a friend once a week. After a great climb, my friend invited me to her place for dinner and told me to pick out a bottle of wine. She was making a turkey meatloaf with sweet potatoes and a side of bacon brussel sprouts so I knew that the meal had a lot of flexibility in terms of pairing. I decided though, with the white meat base of the dish and the fact that we'd just had an amazing work out, a white wine seemed like it would be a refreshing touch to our meal. However, I found out the only thing she had chilled was a White Merlot from Beringer. My ears perked up at this – as a big Rosé fan, I was interested in trying one with a Merlot base.
The wine itself was very fruity on the nose with a raspberry candy element to it and the notes carried through to the palate. The wine was a very fun wine to enjoy and would have worked really well with a spicier dinner. I also thought this wine would be a good one to bring to a party. At a low price point and with a tasty but not overly complicated flavor, the wine would be suitable to a variety of guests and very buy cheap propecia fun to bring to a backyard BBQ.
The next night, I was trying to find something to do, but didn't want to drink a lot or spend any money since I was still pretty upset about losing my wallet. I figured the best remedy for this would be to see what was on the day's schedule of inexpensive events on one of my favorite San Francisco living websites, Funcheap SF. I noticed that there was an event at the SF Design Center which had music, wine, and the opportunity to look at the different contemporary designs. On top of all of that, it was a short walk from my apartment and seemed like a great way for me to spend my evening.
But this is about wine after all so I would be amiss to not mention tasting the Valeria Vino Blanco from Petronius. The wine is an equal blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Chardonnay, Riesling. I found the blend to be extremely balanced with the differences in the four varieties coming together to make an excellent wine where no one wine was overpowering the flavor. I love seeing blends when I'm out tasting because it really is the wine maker's time to shine and it makes me happy when they absolute nail it and produce a great wine, especially at such an affordable price point.
By Saturday, I was finally ready to hit the town (gently) again and was excited when I was invited to head to Smuggler's Cove for some fancy rum drinks. However, after a misunderstanding with the bouncer over the line into the bar, I decided to take my business elsewhere and opted to have a mellow night practicing my tasting notes at Hotel Biron, an excellent wine bar in Hayes Valley that shows a wide variety of interesting wines. Earlier that day, I had attended my first WSET course and after a day of learning about proper tasting notes and descriptors, I thought it would be fun to cozy up with a book, try a few unique wines and brush up on my tasting notes.
With my new found knowledge, I thought it would be interesting to revisit a wine that has continued to pique my interest and see if I could find better terms to describe what I was tasting. This, of course, would be the Forlorn Hope Trousseau Gris. With its cloudy, medium orange color, the wine is sure to catch your eye by its unique appearance alone. The wine had beautiful, dry, acidity and seemed almost savory to me. I love this wine as a stand alone as the flavor is so unique, it's fun to revisit the glass and pick out new notes without any food tainting the palate.
I also decided to get a glass of the Kivel Stadt “Twice Removed” Mouvedre Rosé which was a lovely salmon color with a strawberry nose. The wine had a bright acidity with some citrus notes as well as green apple and strawberry on the palate as well. I love Rosé and I'm always happy to find a good, dry one and the “Twice Removed” really delivered on this front. Looking on their website, it seems as though this winemaker has a lot of interesting Rhone varieties and I am definitely going to try to taste more of their offerings.
Forlorn Hope, King Andrews Vineyard, Suisun Valley, Trousseau Gris $13/glass
Kivel Stadt, “Twice Removed.” Loevitt Vineyard, Mourvedre Rosé $12/glass
I also ordered a couple of cheese plates and while I didn't have the sense to take notes on those, both were delicious. In fact, one was a creamy blue goat cheese that I absolutely adored. Having soft cheeses, blue cheeses, and goat cheeses among the cheese types that I purchase most often, it was really amazing to see all three elements incorporated in one. I will definitely have to keep my eyes peeled to find in it stores because it would make an excellent addition to any cheese plate.
All in all, the decision to cut my losses and take my business to Hotel Biron was a good one. Spending my Saturday night taking it easy and doing the things that I love – reading and enjoying wine while making small talk with the bartender and other patrons – was a great mellow change and something I hope to do much more often.
Sadly, my week ended with my car getting broken into. It seems my luck with my possessions has not been great so I think I'm going to continue slowing down and just enjoying wine at home. The collection at Lincoln manor will give me plenty to write about and I definitely plan on using it to study up for my WSET exam in a few weeks. All of that should give me more than enough fodder to continue bringing you new posts. In short, aside from the universe not wanting me to have nice things, everything is going really well and I'm excited to keep writing!
Several weeks ago, on behalf of the North Coast chapter of the Rhone Rangers, Quivira Winery and I hosted a rosé tasting featuring 12 rosés from North Coast producers. The event was a smash success with attendees with dozens of positive comments and feedback.
As part of the audience participation, attendees received a handout with details on each wine, and when they were done with their tasting submitted a ballot for their top two wines of the day. All wines were well represented and received multiple votes, by the winner, by a fair margin, was the Campovida Grenache rosé. To celebrate their success, and a classic summer sipper, its featured as wine of the week.
Campovida is a family owned and operated certified organic farm and working vineyard. This unique place offers deep connections with nature, wine tasting, a professional culinary kitchen, a 10-room retreat center. It's a place where you can relax,enjoy and create your custom gatherings.
Several years ago Campovida embraced Rhone varieties, and under the watch of new winemaker Sebastian Donoso, formerly at Saracina, some amazing wine are being released. A winery and winemaker to watch.
Campovida also recently opened a new tasting room in Oakland, which I am eager to go visit. (Campovida Announces New Winemaker and Tasting Room)
- Oakland Tasting Room: Address: 95 Linden St, Oakland, CA 94607 Phone:(707) 400-6300
- Campovida Tasting Room: 13601 Old River Road, Hopland CA Phone: 707.400.6300
Wine of The Week: Campovida Grenache Rosé
To The Eye: The Campovida rosé is an immediate eye catcher. A brilliant, beautiful light orange hue of pink grapefruit skin
On the Palate: Wonderful bright but round fruit and citrus on the front palate. Mid palate, mouth watering flavors of citrus. The finish is long, lingering with notes of spice and mouthwatering acidity and minerality.
I tasted both at room temperature, and proper chilled cellar temp, this wine exhibits no flaws or astringency, only great balance, the sign of a well made rosé. Rosé is actually one of the most difficult wines there is to vinify, with narrow margin for error, bravo to Sebastian for job well done.
A wine that will pair well with a wide array of summer dishes, from oysters to summer salads, and cialis order online grilled white meats and fishes.
- Appellation: Mendocino County
- Year planted: 2006
- Elevation: 960 feet
- Soil: Clay loam
- Yield: 4 tons/acre
Wine Making Notes
- Harvest date: October 20, 2012
- Brix: 22.0
- Fermentation: Crushed and cold soaked for 24 hours. Pressed and barrel
- fermented in neutral French oak. No malolactic fermentation.
- Aging: Aged in neutral French oak for four months with lees contact and stirred three times.
- pH: 3.15
- TA: 6.0 g/L
- Alcohol: 13.5%
- Cases produced: 134
- Release date: April 2013
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 zithromax overnight 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 kamagra plus 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 phizer viagra 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 how to find reputable canadian cialis 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 buy cialis without prescription 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