Posts Tagged ‘Wine Reviews’

What I Drank Last Month (Nov 2013) Part 1

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.

Price: $26


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.

Price: $13



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.

Price: $19.50

William Hill 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

20131105_210948I’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.

Price: $40

What I Drank Last Week (May 12-18)

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

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.

Cost: $39

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.Enkido Humbaba

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.

Cost: $28

Everything Else

Chateauneuf-de-PapeI'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?


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New Feature on Simple Hedonisms – "Short Review" Tasting Notes

Simple Hedonisms has evolved over its (not quite) two year history. I first said I would never do wine reviews, and then changed my position when I saw my personal notes would receive hundreds of views. But I stuck to my concept that I would not post 3 sentence reviews as some sites do – wine is as much an experience, as a beverage.

It takes much longer to write than most people realize and appreciate. By the time I craft the story, verbiage, quickly proof it, add photos and web hyperlinks, its usually 2-4 hours. (Which is why I get annoyed when a winery, especially lesser known,  then

can't take the time to share it in a Facebook post, Twitter update, or newsletter. Help me help you…)

I put

a decent amount of reviews in Cellartracker still, wine samples are backpiling and pouring in at an increasing rate and need attention.  I'd also like to share my favorite finds with the much larger reader audience,not just Cellartracker. Additionally my reviews now fed to Healdsburg Patch, (as well as Sonoma and Petaluma), the Hello Vino iPhone app (highly recommend), a new website called Consmr, on occasion (when they get to it these days) Palate Press, and am considering cross posting on Natalie Maclean, so there is a wide outlet for these reviews.

The first of these is being published moments after this goes out, love your reader feedback. These are after all, for you the readers. Cheers!


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New on Simple Hedonisms – CellarTracker Mini Reviews, and 2x Week Full reviews

I spend a lot of time each week tasting and evaluating wine that I purchase, as well as the occasional sample provided by a Winery. Most wines are from CA, OR and WA, with some imports, the latter usually acquired via K&L Wines in San Francisco (Their 3 month will call program is my Achilles Heel, I have cases to pick up this week.) Wine Info

Given the regular time investment, I thought, why not spend a bit more time to capture the notes, and add that as blog content. Wine Reviews was not the original design of Simple Hedonisms, and it won’t become the primary content, but I have received a lot of positive feedback on the occasional ones I have done, so plan to ramp it up a bit. Also, I am pleased to announce that Palate Press, the Online Wine Magazine, will be publishing my reviews.

Feel free to post comments, questions. Contact me for shipping (or local pickup info) if you wish to submit a wine for review.

I also do a fair amount of ‘mini’ reviews on, usually via the iPhone app,  and have added a new tab for that. Right now is a manual export, so not updated in real time. Until I can figure out some kind of RSS or other real time linkage, I will update this tab once a week.  Until then, a real time list is available by clicking here.

I hope you enjoy the reviews, and find them useful. Cheers!

Wine Review – 2007 Bodega Elvira Calle “Ca’ de Calle” Gran Reserva Mendoza

Happy 2010 (twenty-ten) from Simple Hedonisms!

This wine rated a 90 points from Wine Spectator, and is from the Mendoza region of Argentina. (I toured there a year ago.)

  • Interesting blend of malbec, bonarda (yum), syrah, cab, merlot.
  • Beautiful brick red color.
  • Lush nose of berry. Plum, red fruit in mouth with clean finish.
  • 14% alcohol.
  • A great wine for only 12.99 on

Only 500 cases made, and a few in stock – pounce!

Wine Review – 2008 Folk Machine Pinot Noir, Central Coast

I was fortunate enough to meet Kenny and Lynn this summer during my sabbatical, when I volunteered one morning to help them pick Cabernet grapes, early on a Sunday morning. (And another day Kenny let me spend the day helping with pressing.)

Courtesy of Muddy Roots

Kenny is a wine entrepreneur making wines under 3 labels, Hobo, Folk Machine, and Banyan. He sources fruit and manages vineyards from Rockpile, to Mendicino, down through Santa Cruz, and during harvest is a mad man. His wife Lynn does all the marketing and sales, in addition to their family of two girls. (Lynn just gave birth this week, congrats!)

You can taste Kenny’s wines in their tasting room in downtown Healdsburg,  Downtown Wine open 7 days a week.  You are in excellent hands with Aaron, tell him that William sent ya.

There was a great write-up on Kenny recently in Muddy Roots Magazine, rather than recant it all, check it out.

Color: light – medium ruby

Aroma:  strawberry, red fruit

In the Mouth: light bodied, cherry, berry. Young, but easy to drink.
It’s hard to find knock your socks off Pinot Noir under $20, this is a very good pinot for the price.
Wine Geek Details

The 2008 is 95% a blend of 3 Monterey County vineyards and 5% fruit from the Vecino Vineyard in Potter Valley. About 80% of the final wine is Pommard Clone. The remaining 20% is 777, 115, and 667. The wine was aged in primarily neutral oak to leave the fruit and freshness of the wine intact. This Pinot Noir is intented to be balanced and drinkable. It is not heavily extracted, largely structured, big oaked, alcoholic, or sweet.

Wine Review – 2007 Mayo Chardonnay “unwooded” (aka unoaked)

I visited Mayo for the first time a few weeks ago, during the Heart of Sonoma Valley Open House, as reviewed earlier this month.

When I learned they had a unoaked chard, I bought a bottle, blind as it wasn’t available for tasting. I have written several recent articles on unoaked chardonnay and discussed the nature and flavor profile of this style of chardonnay. I am planning a review soon, of a side by side comparison of many, so if you produce one, or know of one, let me know soon.

The marketeer in me doesn’t jazz on the term ‘unwooded’ but the description on the back label captures perfectly the essence of this style. “Ever wonder what chardonnay really tastes like underneath all that oak? We’ve made this wine for ourselves for a few years, loving the fruit forward, mineral…qualities if offers. We thought it was time to let it loose on the public.”

And I am glad they did, although its no longer on their website, so wondering if they are sold out.

This is another great expression of pure chardonnay fruit.  It doesn’t specify it did not undergo malolactic fermentation, but my guess is it didn’t.

The 2007 vintage is from the Sonoma Coast, Risk Vineyards. 454 cases made. 13.9% alcohol.

Color: Pale to medium yellow, good clarity

Aroma:  Scents of wet stone, grapefruit, and a hint of peach

In the Mouth: Bursting with citrus when it first hits the palette, pleasant taste of kiwi and peach on the mid palette,and a pleasant finish that lingers citrus and a hint of minerality.

I will repeat my mantra on drinking quality white wines: DO NOT OVERCHILL. If its been in the fridge, take it out for 15 minutes. If the glass is cold to touch, warm it in your hands. Cold masks all the aroma and flavor profiles the winemaker worked so hard to achieve.


Wine Review – Branham 2007 Russian River Valley Chardonnay (no oak or ML)

Is your mantra about white wine  ‘ABC’. (Anything but chardonnay.) Do you enjoy sauvignon blanc, or other white wines with crisp acidity, and bright fruit? If so hunt out the slowly growing category of chardonnays that are made without oak aging or malolactic (ML) fermentation.

There is nothing wrong with a chardonnay that is well made, and seen some oak and ML, but many have been turned off by the overly oaky, buttery chardonnays that have been being cranked out for years – we love to take a good thing to excess in the U.S. Its also a personal palette preference.

I discovered sauvignon blanc years ago, before the New Zealand craze caught on, and as a result of palette fatigue (kinda like wine ADHD) was hunting something else, and was pleased to discover this slowly emerging category of chardonnay in the US. (This is nothing new to Aussies.) I was inspired enough this was one of the two varietals I crushed this year, to also experiment with this style.

The Sonoma County Fair for the first time, amidst some controversy, had a category this year for unoaked Chardonnay, which I hope they repeat.  Like any wine, not all of these unoaked, no ML chardonnays are stellar, and a few poorly made entries seem to have portrayed the category negatively.

I generally try and/or buy any in Sonoma County I find, and have tasted quite a few. Sometime early next year, I am planning to taste through a number in comparison, so if you have suggestions, send them on.downtown wine

One that I discovered this year, and enjoy regularly is from Gary Branham, a local boutique wine maker. Gary shares a tasting room with Kenny and Lynn of Hobo Wines, (I am a big fan of Kenny’s wines.)  Both of their wines are poured and available for purchase in downtown Healdsburg, at Downtown Wine. More often than not, you will be attended to by Aaron – a very knowledgeable wine aficionado. Talk less than I do, and you may learn a few things. Downtown Wine is also part of the Wine Road, and will be taking part in the Winter Wineland next month.

Color: Pale yellow, light straw, good clarity

Aroma:  A wonderful nose – full of  green apple, citrus

In the Mouth: Left on the lees (wine sediment) for 4 months gives this chardonnay nice mouth feel.


A bounty of fruit in the mouth; pineapple, green apple, grapefruit. Needless to say, a mouth watering finish, that lingers nicely.

Only 325 cases made, get some before its gone, but save a case for me!

Around $22, You can find this wine at the Downtown Tasting room, or Vine Tastings in Windsor, by the glass or bottle. (Unfortunately like most restaurants its served over chilled, masking its nuances. Cup your hands around the glass for a minute.)

Wine Geek Info

  • Harvest: September 30, 2007
  • Average Chemistry at Harvest: 25 Brix 3.20 pH .68 TA
  • Whole Cluster Pressed
  • Fermented in Stainless Steel for 25 days @ 55 degrees F
  • No Malolactic fermentation ~ Left sur lie for 4 months
  • Bottling: January 2007
  • Chemistry at bottling: 14% alcohol 3.20 pH .68 TA
  • Varietal percentage; 100% Chardonnay
  • Vineyards: Foppoli Family Vineyard
  • Production: 325 Cases

Wine Review – Novy 2008 Viognier, Russian River Valley

The Viogner Varietal

Yes, I am drinking a Rhone white varietal – if you read regularly this shouldn’t be a surprise, I regularly refer to the Rhone white wines as ‘the white wine varietal for red drinkers.’ Viognier holds a special place in my heart, as it was one of the first white wines, that weaned me off of exclusively drinking reds, some years ago.

Viognier came into vogue as a single white varietal in the last decade in the U.S. Its been planted as a blending grape, both for white and red wines, for generations. It is now widely planted all over the world, extending from Australia (where it’s commonly blended with syrah/shiraz), Chile and Argentina. It’s widely planted around the U.S. in CA, OR, and WA.

Viognier is especially known for its aromatics; it is a very floral varietal. Typical drunk young, winemakers can use a variety of techniques in production, ranging from stainless to neutral oak (new oak isn’t recommended,)) longer lees (grape residue) contact, and with or without Malolactic (ML) fermentation. Each of these can impart a difference in mouthfeel, body, structure.

Novy Family Winery

I have written before about Novy, in my review of SiduriNovy wines are made at Siduri, and is the label used for all their non Pinot Noir wines.

Their 2008 Viognier is a small production, only 63 cases made.

Color: light-medium straw color, clear

Aroma:  fragrant as befits the varietal.  Pear, Notes of citrus, pineapple.

In the Mouth:  Aged in Stainless only, with excellent balance, and a mouth watering acidity at finish.

Pear, pineapple, green apple, with a lingering taste of peach at finish.

I tasted this wine both chilled, and then at room temperature, and it shows its flavor and aroma characteristics much better a bit warmer….As I have written repeatedly, this is a critical factor in enjoying a well made, full bodied white wine.

This is a solid expression of Viognier, and one I recommend, at a reasonable $20 retail. Its sold at at the winery, but still available at several distributors; locals can also try Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa, where I have seen Siduri and Novy before.


Debuting on Simple Hedonisms – Wine Reviews

Yes, Simple Hedonisms is now doing wine reviews. I will write more later next week  about some changes for the blog these next months, but I have decided to write about the wines I taste.

Do I consider myself an expert? Hardly, I cringe when a novice asks if I am a connoisseur. After taking a number of  formal and informal classes over the years, including a 2 day sensory evaluation at UC Davis, I think my palette  range is frankly, about average. However my many years of tasting wine in many domestic and international regions, my  never tiring quest to explore wineries and try new wines, I think I have a breadth of insight to share. I also constantly challenging my palette to try new things, discover, and evolve.

Frankly, the wine blog also needs more content. I have a brevity problem – I generally only want to write things of depth, but the reality as an executive launching a start-up, I don’t have enough time at present to write the in depth articles and stories I desire.  I will not stoop to Tweeting regularly about a 3 sentence blog post, no matter what ‘experts’ say about how often you should post, but I am cognizant I need to get more writing done, and do to that I need to do some content that’s easier to create. Of course it must be of interest to you, the reader.

I buy a LOT of wine, the majority being from Sonoma County, but I dabble all regions and countries, usually through my ‘pusher’ K & L Wine, online. Since much of 250+ bottle collection comes from small wineries, I will also endeavor to occasionally review things that can be purchased via retail. Since my goal is to help you, the local or remote wine consumer, I will focus often on those small wineries.

I will accept samples to review, especially for themes of vertical tastings, like the unoaked Chardonnay round-up I’d like to do soon. I tend to stay away from negative writing, so if I don’t like the wine, or think its poorly made, likely I just won’t write about it. I will also take care to note wines that are well made, but perhaps not my own personal palate preference.

I will also amuse myself, and present the findings of, the occasional blind tasting.  Your feedback and constructive criticism is always welcomed.


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