Posts Tagged ‘Wine Review’
Tick Tock – the Countdown to Two Amazing Rhone tasting events continues. This next weekend , March 24-25 is the Rhone Rangers “Weekend Celebration of
American Rhones.” Over 100 domestic Producers from California, Washington, Oregon, and even Virginia assemble in Ft Mason, San Francisco for two days of seminars, winemakers dinner, auctions, and tastings.
Just one month later, April 26-28th Rhone lovers head to Paso Robles for Hospice du Rhone, “the World’s Largest International Celebration of Rhone Variety Wines.” This event is a stunning immersion of seminars, lunches, dinners, & tastings.
Each week Simple Hedonisms is celebrating with at least one Rhône wine review.
Rosé Wines – Man Up – Drink Pink. This Isn’t Your 1990’s White Zin, It’s a French Classic Wine
My friend Lisa Ortman of Ortman Family Cellars used to say “Man up, Drink Pink.” The myths surrounding Rosé wines are still a bit perplexing to me. Lets smash a few of them, shall we.
1. Most quality Rosé wines are dry aka not sweet.
No, not that corporate mass produced sugary garbage at the bottom of the supermarket shelf, the real stuff from your local artisan winery or imported from France.
2. Rosé is for women.
For the record men – Rosé is made from RED WINE GRAPES. The only reason its pink is because it doesn’t spend much time on the skins during fermentation, which is the ONLY reason that red wine is even red! This concept is as assanine as the thought that “real wine drinkers don’t drink white.” (Which I’d contend its the opposite if anything.)
3. Rosé is a summer wine only.
This myth is perpetrated both by consumers and by wineries, who are deathly afraid of being caught with any Rosé left by October. It’s true, a good Rosé is a great summer sipper and aperitif. But its hardly limited to that. I was amazed at my trip to France and the Rhone this January – most restaurants had more Rosé by the glass than whites, and swarthy French men bundled up in wool had no issue ordering a bottle of Pink. The higher acidity in Rosé pairs it nicely with food, and its one of my top recommendations for the winter Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays as well.
4. Rosé can’t age.
Generally the spirit of Rosé is a wine meant to be drunk young, fresh, and consumed in the first year or so of release. But many Rosé wines can actually age quite well, particularly if they are a ‘true’ Rosé – that is to say grapes picked early in the season to be higher in acidity, lower in alcohol. The acidity preserves the wine, and softens with age. Indeed a few Rosé wines I have bought and specifically but aside awhile to let the brightness subdue a bit. The freshness will tamper down a bit, and the wine will change. Generally one wouldn’t hang on to a Rosé more than a few years, but for every rule, there is an exception, especially with wine geeks.
Rhône Rosé Panel: Quivira, Mounts, and Skinner Vineyards
I recently compared three Rhône Rosé wines in an impromptu panel. I am debating putting out a “call for Rosé” as I did in December for sparkling, for a more thorough review – stay tuned. If interested, email me.
Rhône wines in my opinion, especially Syrah and Grenache, make exceptional Rosé wines. These three do not disappoint.
(1) Mounts 2010 “Pink” Syrah Rosé
I frequently wax poetic about the Mounts, and I hope to write an in depth article soon.
Watching their evolution over the last 4 years has been a rewarding experience as this four generation Grower family continues to innovate and has become a Dry Creek Valley Rhone producer to follow.
This 2010 is a wonderful Rosé of Syrah. Kudos to Dave Mounts for picking, making a true rose’, not a Syrah juice bleed off.
Bright salmon pink color. Essence of strawberry, watermelon, tomato vine, on the nose. Crisp, bright in the mouth, cherry, jolly rancher, watermelon, in mouth.
Lingering mouth watering finish. Drinkable all year round, and a few years bottle time thanks to the nice acidity. At 13% viagra for less in the usa alcohol, can drink a few of these.
Sadly the Mounts are down to about a dozen cases, and there is no 2011 Rosé. I only hope they make it again for 2012. Pretty please? At least hold 6 more 2010 bottles for me.
(2) Skinner Vineyards 2010 Grenache Rosé
A winery in the Sierra Foothills I have my eyeballs on. This Rosé is mostly Grenache with a touch of Mourvedre.
Color – clear, salmon-strawberry color. On the nose -cherry, red fruit, hint of watermelon,
tomato vine, red hard candy
Palate – Enjoyable, food friendly, excellent acidity. Cherry, hard candy vibrant front palate , pleasant mid palate, and a lingering finish with notes of spice & hazelnut.
Would pair well with many foods and cheeses.
(3) 2011 Quivira Rosé
Quivira is another of my favorite Dry Creek Rhone producers and new winemaker Hugh Chappelle continues to do great things as Quivira lets him be the creative artisan he wishes to be.
Quivira’s newly released low production rose’ – never lasts long. New in screw top this year.
Like last year, heavily Mourvedre based, unlike Grenache based Rosé of years prior.
Light, bright, pink in color. Nose of watermelon jolly rancher and strawberry. Wonderful in the mouth, watermelon, white peach, red fruits. Mouth watering acidity that lingers on finish.
13% alc. Fresh. Bright. Fun.
Sometimes I am order generic viagra not sure what to expect when I see an unusual blend, like this one of Syrah (46%), Malbec (31%), and Petit Verdot (23%.)
On paper it could work: a Northern Rhone varietal blended with two Bordeaux. Or would it….
I am happy to
say they do – wonderfully.
Wine Review: Ancient Peaks Winery Renegade – Margarita Vineyard, Paso Robles
To The Eye: Dark purple.
On The Nose: Dark
red fruit and berry
In the Mouth: Soft, dark black fruit, cocoa, dried red fruit. soft tannins. A nice winter red, comfort wine. Save for the fire, a stew, lamb shanks or short ribs. Pairs nicely with food thanks to good acidity.
Recommendation: Buy and enjoy. If you can, I can’t find it online, it may be sold out. Nice bottle for $21. 89 points. Media Sample
Wine Geek Info:
- Syrah (46%)
- Malbec (31%)
- Petit Verdot (23%)
- October 3 (Syrah)
- October 7 (Malbec)
- October 28 (Petit Verdot)
- 18 months in French and American oak barrels
- Alcohol: 14.5%
- TA: .69
- pH: 3.70
Cases Produced – 1,014
Prosecco has been making a comeback in the US, particularly in the East Coast. The sweet, poorly made stuff you would scoff now more commonly is an excellent value sparkling. I still find generally Cava, from Spain, to lead slightly, but have been en
joying many Prosecco’s these days, and some decent quality ones are widely available, and fun to grab as an aperitif.
Review: Non Vintage Valdo Prosecco – Brut (2011 review)
This Prosecco now seems to have good distribution, and is worth looking for.
To The Eye: Pale yellow, excellent tiny bubbles
On The Nose: Pear, green melon, bread yeast.
In the Mouth: Mostly
dry, creamy mouthfeel. Green apple and a hint of spice Nice finish.
Recommendation: Buy, Consume. A good apertif wine easily quaffed. 89 points.
Look later this week for the full Sparkling holiday guide, cheers!
Syrah: one of my favorite red varietals. Syrah has been through some rough times the last few years; overhyped, over production, and economic hard times collided for this poor varietal, before it ever took off in the US, other than the over ripe Kangaroo stuff.
For the consumer, that has meant some excellent value Syrah’s are available. This phenonomenon won’t last for buy discount viagra long. As syrah goes through
a supply and demand cycle, and as growers and vintners shrink or end syrah programs, in the next few years I predict you will see a shortage, and price increases. Enjoy lower prices and stock up while you can.
Syrah, as I have shared many times, is almost like two varietals, cool climate and warm. It does well in each, but produces two very different wines. My personal favorite is the more elegant, higher acidity, food driven cool climate. Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley reign as the land of Pinot Noir, but some exceptional Syrah comes from these regions.
Special Reader Offer:
Last week when I reviewed the Von Holt 2009 Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley Von Holt offered readers, no strings attached, or kickbacks extended, to offer readers to have shipping included with their order of any of their 4 wines. Use code
at checkout. They have now extended this to this Friday, Dec 9th.
This also includes their amazing 2009 Suacci Vineyard Pinot Noir which Chronicle wine writer Jon Bonne’ just picked as one of the top 100 wines of the year – and having tasted it, I agree.
Review: Von Holt 2008 Hoppe-Kelly Vineyard Syrah
A blend of two clones 877 and Alban. The vines are terraced into a very steep hillside, allowing for excellent drainage and struggle in the very shallow, rocky soils.
To The Eye: Inky dark purple. Almost impenetrable to light.
On The Nose: Nose of violets, blueberry, and a hint of olive
In The Mouth: Black fruit, blueberry, and spice, Not as austere as some cool climate Syrahs can be, apparently the elevation allows it to ripen a bit more. This is a Sunday night by the fire wine, or over a roast dinner. It has some layers without being overly complex, and can be simply just enjoyed. Tannins are soft and well integrated. 2008 can be young for Syrah, this wine is ready to drink and enjoy now.
Recommendation: Approachable and affordable – this may be my new house Syrah. For $20 you can enjoy it and not break the bank. It will please a variety of wine lovers old and new, and pair well with a broad spectrum of foods. Buy and drink now. It will cellar for a few years as well.
Purchase: Online $20 (media sample)
Wine Geek Notes:
- Harvest Date September 27, 2008
- 50% whole cluster
- TA 5.8
- pH 3.9
- Bottling Date August 24, 2010
- Alcohol 14.2%
- 75 cases made
This Albariño from Bonny Doon is not too be confused with their 2009 Ca’ del Solo Albariño, which was one of my favorite Albariño’s at the TAPAS event in San Francisco earlier this year.
This price viagra wine derives from two vineyards in the Central Coast: Ca’ del Solo in Soledad, and Jesperson Ranch in San Luis Obispo.
Wine Review – Bonny Doon Vineyards 2010 Albariño
On The Nose: Green Apple, Asian Pear, Lemon Peel
In The Mouth: IMPORTANT – do not drink overchilled. This wine’s nuances are completely lost if overchilled (which I did by accident.) It has a rich texture, mouthfeel and slight oiliness one wouldn’t expect when combined with this acidity and lower (12.5%) alcohol. Must bug Randall or his other winemaker for vinification techniques.
It dances in the mouth with green apple and citrus and makes you smile, and reach for more. The finish is lingering, and compelling. This wine drinks wonderfully by itself, and the bottle is emptying fast as I consume it. (Instead of spitting.)
Food Pairing: Bonny Doon recommends pair it with “…pairs beautifully with briny foods like oysters, shellfish, seafood salad, fish crudo (or ceviche), or shrimp scampi with garlic and lemon. It’s a natural with fresh goat cheese, green olives, tomato salads (especially dressed with a drizzle of lemon-infused oil), tempura, and other Asian fare.” Randall and his team are foodies, so I never doubt them, however tonight’s fare when I am done reviewing is home made turkey soup.
Recommendation: 90 Points. Buy and Enjoy. At $18 this Albariño is an excellent buy, that will both drink wonderfully solo or with food, and can age easily for a few years. Available online for $18, $15 for club, and right now club members get free shipping on orders $99 or higher.
Kathleen is a ten year veteran Pinot maker, and truly one of Russian River Valley finest
vintners of elegant Pinot Noir.
(Jon Bonne’ – you really need to put Inman on your radar – this is your kind of winemaker.)
Review: 2008 Inman Family Pinot Noir Thorn Ridge Ranch
To The Eye: Ruby red, clear
On The Nose: Black cherry and spice
In The Mouth: Blackberry, cherry with a velvety mouth feel that makes you go ‘ahhhh’ and reach for more. The Pinot delivers great red and black fruit, without sacrificing acidity, achieving what so many California pinot producers seem unable to in balance. Soft, long, elegant finish.
Recommendation: 93 points. Buy. If you don’t like this Pinot….you have no idea what Pinot Noir is supposed to be. Take the oak chip out of your mouth, tear up your Robert Parker
photo, and start to train your palate. It’s not inexpensive at $56, but this isn’t Velveeta, its Cowgirl Creamery (or better.) Small lot, high quality Pinot Noir simply costs more.
It’s always a pleasure to discover hidden small gems of producers in the wine industry, and even more so to share them with readers. Thanks to the advent of custom crush, virtual and urban wineries, there are many, small passionate artisans springing up. Sonoma County has become a buy female viagra online without prescription wealth of these, but you must keep your ear and eye to the ground.
Thanks to networking and social media, I was to meet Peter Alig, who works now with Von Holt. When he asked if I’d like sample to review, I agreed, always eager to try a new, small producer.
About Von Holt Wines
This is a micro-winery: a 600-case producer of single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Syrah from the Sonoma Coast and Russian River. Founder, San Francisco native Chris Von Holt, is a retired U.S. Secret Service agent. After traveling the world on the protective detail of the Vice President, and sampling local food and wine along the way, he decided to found his own wine brand upon his retirement. His story is quite fascinating, read more here. http://www.vonholtwines.com/The-Von-Holts.
You can watch a short video of Chris’ below. He had me at ‘low alcohol, good minerality & acidity.’
The stories of partner/wife Pamela Miller, the administrative master of Von Holt Wines, and John Fones, Winemaker, are also interesting, classic Sonoma wine siren stories, and ones I can relate to all too well.
A Focus on Cool Climate
They had me at the get go with their focus cool climate Pinot Noir and Syrah. Pinot Noir of course naturally prefers cooler climate, and I am most fond of wines from cooler vineyards in Sonoma Coast, Anderson Valley, Willamette Valley. Russian River can fit this profile as well, depending on the microclimate and the wine grower.
The 2010 and 2011 vintages have certainly helped this aspect. Working with vineyards in cooler climates takes some guts, patience, and stamina, I have deep respect for those growers and vintners that focus here.
Syrah does well in both cool and warm climates, and produces great wines in both, but very distinctive. My personal preference, especially for Syrah unblended with other Rhone varietals, is for the higher acidity, leaner wines that cool climates produce.
This review will be focus the Pinot Noir, look for Syrah in a Tasting Note also this week. Sneak Preview: The 2008 Hoppe-Kelley Syrah from RRV is amazing, and a steal at $20. I have tasted both Syrah’s and Pinots and am very impressed, and plan to put some in my cellar.
Special Reader Incentive – Free Shipping, One Week Only
Von Holt has been nice enough, no strings attached, or kickbacks extended, to offer readers to have shipping included with their order of any of their 4 wines. Use code
at checkout. Expires one week from today, December 5th.
Wine Review – Von Holt 2009 Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley
A blend of Pinot Noir from two vineyards, Suacci and Ketcham.
To The Eye: Ruby, brick red
On The Nose: Red fruit leaps out of the glass. Cranberry, cherry, and a hint of earth, and green, like tomato vine.
In The Mouth: Bright and lively. The cranberry carries over, and is joined by pomegranate. Excellent acidity that begs for some food, combined with pleasant mouth feel mid palate, and a lingering mouth watering finish. A wonderful Pinot Noir, and proof the Russian River Valley can produce elegant Pinot Noir that isn’t an over ripe fruit bomb, and compete with the likes of Anderson Valley, Willamette, and Sonoma Coast.
Recommendation: 92 points. Highly Recommend. Buy. If you can, purchase one to enjoy now, and 1-2 more to give an extra year to see how it develops in the bottle. With the acidity this wine should age nicely. $32 online. Media Sample (although I intend to re-order.)
Wine Geek Info:
- Harvest DateSeptember 9, 2009; Bottling Date: August 24, 2010
- TA 6.3
- PH 3.6
- Clones are Pommard, 828, 115 and 777
- 11 months in French Oak Barrels (25% new)
- Fermentation: Native primary and maloactic fermentation
- Alcohol %13.7
- 225 cases made
Last Friday was International Grenache Day – not as prevalent as Cabernet Day – but people celebrated all over the world, abd hundreds of thousands of people were reached via Twitter during this celebration.
I held a walk around tasting for 9 wineries and 80 people hosting vintners Quivira, Ridge, Mounts, Sheldon, Wind Gap Wines, Baiocchi Wine, R2 Wine Co, and last minute entry Stage Left Cellars. More on this in an article later this week.
To compliment this tasting, the Ortman Family was nice enough to send rose’ samples to share, which I splashed in peoples glasses as a
palate cleanser and kickoff wine, for save one exception, we had reds all being poured.
The 02 Series
I am a fan of the o2 Series and its concept, and loved the Ortman Cuvee Eddy, 02 Series, San Luis Obispo County Rhone blend when I reviewed it last December. What is o2?
Wines that are fresh, affordable, delicious, coming from a small family owned winery with 40 harvests under its belt.
Review: Ortman 02 Series Grenache Rosé – Paso RoblesTo the Eye: Dark Salmon, Watermelon Flesh colored
On the Nose: Peach and Strawberry fill the nose.
In the Mouth: Bright, vibrant, refreshing. Watermelon, citrus. Juicy mid palate, lingering acidity on the finish. This wine is easily downed solo, but would pair with with oysters, salads, grilled chicken or fish, BBQ with tomato sauce, pizza. 14.5% alcohol.
Recommendation: As Lisa Ortman says:
A word from the ladies of Ortman Family Wines: Man up and drink pink!
90 points – A recommended, high quality, value priced rose’. $16 online, and it appears they currently have great shipping specials – 1-5 bottles shipped to CA is $12, and shipping for 6+ bottles is only a penny. (Welcome to California ABC laws.)
There was only 90 cases made of this great summer sipper – grab a few. And lets get another thing straight – Rosé is not just for summer – that’s about as true as bubbles are only for holidays. You can enjoy rosé any time of year, and its an especially great food pairing, value priced wine for the holidays – stock up and drink pink!
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:
- Alcohol: 13.5%
- Total Acidity: 0.64g/200mL
- pH: 3.36
- Residual Sugar: Dry
- Aging Potential: 3 – 5 years
- Case Production: ~30,000 cases
Last month I did a full review of the Charity Case 2008 Rose'. As I dive into the 2009 Sauvignon Blanc I am again impressed by their noble cause, but also by the quality of this wine. A detail I forgot to mention last time, the wine maker is Jayson Woodbridge of Layer Cake.
To The Eye: Dark Yellow, clear, vibrant
On The Nose: A Delightful nose. I was afraid the dark color and barrel fermentation might be
lie new oak on this but I suspect the oak was neutral, or a few years old. I am generally not a fan of SB where the oak flavor can be detected. Tropical fruit, gooseberry, apricot.
In The Mouth: Equally delightful. This wine is lush, creamy texture and mouthfeel. While I would not call it a French Sancerre style, its definitely not your standard New Zealand grassy, herbal SB. Melon, ripe stone fruit. Nice finish with balanced acidity and fruit that linger.
Recommendation: An excellent value for $14 – not to mention a great cause!
Friday is #SauvBlanc Day
This Friday June 24th is #SauvBlanc day on Twitter, where people will enjoy and Tweet about #sauvblanc – grab a bottle of this to enjoy AND help a good cause. Cheers!