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“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
travel article written by guest contributor; Pascale
Bernasse, president of French Wine Explorers and, a great source for
planning authentic wine and culinary experiences in France. You can also follow
them via twitter @FrWineExplorers
region famously well known for its fine wine, it also offers so much more. The
summer travel season is nearly upon us, so we'd like to give you our top ten reasons
to plan a tour to Bordeaux
and find out why this region is so much more than just grapes to glass.
1. Try the wine: Bordeaux produces many types of wine, from
dry whites to dessert whites, reds, rosés, and even effervescent wines (crémant).
Some of the most prestigious estates of the world are located in Bordeaux. The region does
not only produce grand crus or expensive wines; in fact, those wines account
for only 2% of the overall production of the region! So there are many
opportunities to discover a few new favorites to add to your cellar.
the city of Bordeaux:The city of less than
300,000 people is easy to navigate and is one of our favorite cities in France. The
historic center boasts 18th century architecture and rivals Paris
for the most historical monuments in France. A Unesco World Heritage
Site with over 340 historic monuments, a city center that is modern and clean,
and plenty of great restaurants and shopping make Bordeaux attractive for all.
3. Visit St. Emilion: The picturesque village of St. Emilion
is located on the Right Bank of the Garonne.
Merlot is king on the Right Bank with the
appellation of Saint Emilion and its satellites, Pomerol and Lalande-de-Pomerol.
Saint Emilion has some of Bordeaux’s
oldest vineyards, producing well-structured wines with great character from a
judicious blending of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes. And
you can discover the lovely medieval village
of Saint Emilion, a
UNESCO World Heritage Site, its monuments, many shops and galleries (including
some of the region’s best wine shops).
4. Sip and Spa: Indulge in a vino-therapy spa set
to renew and relax. Vino-therapy is a beauty therapy process where the residue
of wine making (the pips and pulp) is rubbed into the skin. The pulp is said to
have excellent exfoliating qualities and help reduce the problems associated
5. Try the whites: If you say Bordeaux to most folks right away they think
of red wines, aging in barrels sitting in great Chateaus. But don’t forget
about Sauvignon Blanc, it is the primary grape variety for the dry white wines
Sauvignon Blanc is also sensitive to noble rot, so it marries well with
Semillon in the great sweet wines of Sauternes. It produces wines which are
crisp, clean and medium-bodied.
6. Go to school: There is no better way to discover
the culinary delights of Bordeaux
than a hands-on cooking class. Different options are available, from a 2 hour
class at the Pressoir d'Argent with a Michelin starred chef, to a full week of
discovering the markets, vendors and creations that are unique to the area,
such as canneles, a sweet brioche style pastry, or the entrecote a la
bordelaise, grilled steak topped with a reduction of red wine sauce.
7. A different perspective: Imagine cycling amongst
picturesque routes dotted with vines, stopping along the way to take a break
from biking and unwind while savoring your new wine discoveries. The area is
relatively easy to ride which is practical for the weekend rider and tours
lasting 2 hours to a week are available.
8. Go to market: Something for every taste; try the
Capucins, where restaurateurs and caterers shop with the locals in the heart of
6a-1p). And in Libourne near St. Emilion; holds a great open-air market of
fresh produce on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sunday. This market (and the indoor
market featuring specialty goods) has all the charm of the outdoor farmers'
markets found in Provence.
9. Life’s a beach: The Dune of Pyla, the largest
sand dune in Europe, is located about 40 miles from Bordeaux, in the Arcachon area. Climb the top
of the dune and revel in the amazing views of the area. The Dune of Pyla is
also famous for paragliding and the multicolored sails floating in the sky are
worth the detour.
10. Eat like the natives: Bordeaux
has many wonderful Michelin starred restaurants, such as Cordeillan Bages in
Pauillac, Hostellerie de Plaisance in St. Emilion, Le Chapon Fin in Bordeaux, and low country favorites such as La Tupina in Bordeaux and Le St.
Julien in St. Julien. Beef, lamb, duck, foie gras and seafood are local
specialties and are perfect with the wines of the region.
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Well the plain truth is
this, at the moment I don't have a drop of vino flowing through my system.
But that will change very shortly as it's nearly time to jump
into the #winestudio to taste a gem from Croatia. Now that said a word about
this wine of the week, wow! No really that was my first impression, a wine with serious substance.
Soon as you pop the cork it's ready to come out and meet you, shake your hand,
wearing a beret, poodle by its side, blowing dust off the bottle, saying
"Welcome to Burgundy". All of that without the long plane fight or the need to
have your passport stamped.
Can uncorking a wine really say all of that? Perhaps not, but I'd really like
to think it's so in some odd esoteric fashion or manner. Meanwhile back at the
review, this wine really is quite tasty. I was all about-it, soon as I got a splash
of it in my mouth, this wine has a core of terrific energy.
Beautiful aromas easily escaping from the glass, revealing a very pretty nose, with notes of freshly farmed earth, red rose
petals and ripe red Washington
state cherries. On the palate ripe cherry, plum and a rich earthy quality, nice
weight, structure; plays a compelling note from the first slurp to the last
This great wine comes to you from the amazing Chassagne-Montrachet
region in Burgundy.
It is a village in the Cote de Beaune sub-region of Burgundy which has its own communal appellation, which was established in 1937.
In my opinion, a remarkable amount of wine for the price, a fine example of
plush red Burgundy
I'm scoring 90 points and highly recommending that you give it a swirl for
If you'd like to know a little more background about the driving-force behind Domaine Jean-Noël Gagnard (Chassagne-Montrachet) label than meet Jean-Noël’s daughter, Caroline Lestimé who has taken over day-to-day running of the domaine since 1989, you can read her full story at here via the Burgundy Report. They did a great in-depth review of Caroline, the winery and the many other wines it produces. You now also follow her on twitter, @LebonVinBlanc.
If you are thinking that
you'd like to score this wine for yourself, feel free to reach out to the folks
at the Protocol
Wine Studio. or even any other tasty selections from Domaine Jean-Noel Gagnard. They would be
glad to assist you in finding out how to get a few bottles for your own cellar.
So until next time folks remember to sip long and prosper cheer!
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"What's in a name, that which we call a rose? By any other name would smell as sweet" ~ Shakespeare
It will be a bummer to
have left the Burgundy region, five weeks
hardly seems long enough to even begin to scratch the surface but it has been a
fun trip via Wine Studio.
But of course stay
tuned as Wine Studio jumps into a five-week jaunt through the wines and vineyards of
wine scene, with the many nearly unpronounceable names. It's a very good thing
that I won't have any funny failed attempts at pronunciation, thankfully and,
may I even say mercifully I only have to type the names of these interesting
But before we jump
into the next segment of Wine-Studio, I wanted to take a moment to highlight
some of the great wines we've have experienced on this great journey through
what was touted as "fringe" Burgundy.
The wine you see in the picture above is from Marsannay
and if you click the link I've provided you can get a fantastic 180 glimpse of
this amazing region.
The Marsannay Rose
from Bruno Clair, which you see above, is a serious wine. But it does not take
itself too serious when it comes to fun summer-time sipping. This wine shows
plenty of intensity and generosity on the palate, it will wow you great depth
and balance. Baskets of mouth-watering, ripe summer strawberries, rich with minerality, earthiness, await the thirsty vino-sapien
with each sip, slurp and maybe even the eventual gulp.
Clair is best known
for his tantalizing red-wines among Burg-hounds, but the truth be known, even
his whites and the featured Marsannay rose are equally deserving the attention
of even the garden variety vino-sapien.
So put down those common
everyday mass produced screw-capped domestic rosé wines and step-up to wine with real
soul and substance; while at the same time knowing it won't break the bank
If you're interested
in acquiring this wine for yourself and I highly recommend that you do, than
please contact the team at Protocol
Wine Studio and they'll be glad to assist you. Until the next time, please
remember sip long and prosper cheers!
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Wine cheers the sad,
revives the old, inspires the young, and makes weariness forget his toil.
I was both inspired and revived a bit after a long day in the salt-mines after uncorking this great Italian beauty the other night. And you'll be as well if you follow my lead. This wine is both generous and, amazing approachable right out of the chute. No real fuss or muss needed, but I'd recommend decanting for an hour to unlock this wines full potential.
It's a gorgeous blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot; a wine which easily and I'll say effortlessly pair with many types of cuisine. This wine comes locked, cocked and ready to rock, a wine with real soul, substance and great texture. The tannins are well integrated, like the drummer from your favorite band, it rocks!
Gobs of freshly picked red cherries, dark plums and, rich earth which sails gracefully across across your palate, leaving you with a long finish. This wines sell for a SRP of $28 and can still be found in good supply if you know where to look and, my score on this wine is 91 points. Fortunately for those interested I do, so if you want to score a few bottles, please let me know.
Full Disclosure: This wine was NOT a sample, it was purchased with my own cold hard cash via the sweat of my brow. I receive zero incentives if you happen to purchase this wine, I only bring this wine to your attention in the interest of drinking better and, in the hope of broadening your own vinous horizons. So until next time remember to sip long and prosper cheers!
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“Any change, even a change for the better, is always
accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts” – Arnold Bennett
As many of you may know already the reins
of #WineChat are changing hands. I was approached by Marie
Payton [Life of Vines] via email, a
couple of weeks ago and asked if I was perhaps interested in the opportunity to
fill-her-shoes. I wanted to take some time to think it over but, I'll be honest
I was quite interested in the opportunity and so here we are.
But before I say
anything else, I wanted to say to Marie and her co-host Mr. Dave Reynolds you
created something amazing in developing #WineChat making it a force for good in
the wine community and, for that I say thank-you!
Seeing the need
to have some assistance with the effort, I reached out to Protocol Wine Studio's dynamic duo, Eric Guy and Tina Morey. This is a team many of you know
already, from our Monday evening #WineStudio events, the free online
curriculum-based wine education & tasting program and, that will not
as a way of introducing the new #WineChat team, this Wednesday 03/27/2013] it
will be an introductory evening, getting to know the new team and, to learn
more about continuing the conversation. Many folks ask me, hey Bill what is in
it for you or they may wonder about my motivations moving forward?
for me, my answer is simple; my mission is to provide vino-sapiens every where
with current, objective, easily digested content and hopefully even
entertainment about the wonderful world of wine and to provide a place for
continued discovery and exploration.
if any of you have questions and/or concerns about big changes possibly coming
to #WineChat I can say feel rest assured there are no change big format changes
in the wind. Will we endeavor to improve upon what has been built thus far and
hopefully continue to build upon the great relationships that have been built
over the last couple of years.
if you're interested in what lies ahead for #WineChat, stay tuned and please
join us this Wednesday evening as Tina, Eric and I along with all of you
discuss its future. Until next time folks slurp long and prosper cheers!
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“One cannot think well,
love well, and sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf
I would've never
guessed that a bottle of Chablis would be my wine of the week, but yet there it
is, just mocking me, taunting me and not caring one little bit if I thought it
was worthy or not to be the wine of the week.
But yet this it's this very tasty Chablis, which I'm recommending this week. But I do so with a bit of caution; if you're already a
Chablis-convert you possibly could be sadly disappointed in this wine. And why you
ask; because it's produced in a style, one that many would call a modern or
non-traditional. Simply put, this wine is made to appeal to a larger
audience, leaving behind much of its enamel-obliterating, mostly bone-drypersonality behind and,
instead focusing on far more well-rounded appealing qualities.
What are those
qualities? Immediate approachability, a rich-round mouth feel, a vein of
acidity [just not the entire mine] blended nicely with a drop of honey-oil and
fascinating minerality [but not the whole sea-shell collection]. I sampled this wine luke-warm, but with a bit on chill
[very slight] put upon the bottle, its flavors and aromas perked up nicely,
making for a delightful pairing with the fish-tacos from my favorite hole-in-the-wall
place here in San Diego.
So if you'd like to get your hands of a bottle of this fantastic Chablis, here's the place you can getit, enjoy. I scored this wine 90 points, it's not a classic, but it's classically easy to get along with and instantly enjoyable. Until next time folks, sip long and prosper cheers!
Full Disclosure: This is one of the wines featured on the weekly [brand-new] twitter chat-room called #WineStudio. I sampled this wine at the studio and drew my impressions on this wines quality and character from the bottle provided by the folks at Protocol Wine Studio.
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“The world is full of magic things, patiently
waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ― W.B. Yeats
In today's long awaited review is a really well-known [for the wine-geeks who maybe reading this] winery in the Red
Mountain AVA of Washington State, known as Col Solare [translated Shining Hill]. I've hadthe good fortune of visiting them
twice in the last couple of years. Each visit was different and unique. The
first visit here was in 2010 and my second visit came late in 2011.
The reason I've held back on this review; is because my initial
impressions of their wines, really didn't "wow" me like I thought it would or that it possibly could. However, I didn't let that stop me from [recently] acquiring a good
number of their 2006 and 2007 vintages. And when I say recent; I mean it wasn't
until just this year I popped the cork on both vintages once more. This fact is what
brings me to this short mostly pictorial article today and, the why is answered
by a simple yet profound, wow.
For those of you who may not be familiar with this winery, from
a quick look at their website; you’ll find the "Col-Solare" project is a partnership between two influential wine producers. One is from Tuscany,
Marchesi Antinori [one of my favorite Italian producers] and the other Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michelle [known for producing many tasty value wines].
This partnership came to
fruition in the Red Mountain AVA, which one of the Columbia Valley’s
most celebrated and, jaw-dropping sub-appellations. This AVA; has the right combination
of heat, nutrient-poor soils, low rainfall and cool night temperature swings, which make for the perfect storm of flavor and finesse.
That coupled with boat-loads of concentrated fruit, stunning aromatics, and full tannins,
making for some tasty wines with long aging potential. It would seem from my experience, laying these wines down for a few years before approaching them would be a wise move. If you not sampled their wines before may I suggest that you start with the now stunning 2006 vintage.
As you can see from the image above, Blue Sky, White Earth, Red Mountain. So to say, this is an ideal spot for growing vitis vinifera [aka, the wine bearing grape] would be a huge understatement.
I can attest to hot arid conditions during the day, because the day I was there during the bloggers conference, we got to experience life like a grape with the hot-sun beating down on our faces. But because of the diurnal shift in the night time hours it gives wine grapes bold flavors and good acid.
This is the view from the bottom of the steps; from there you can see clear out to the Horse Heaven Hills in the distance [btw, just on the other side of those hills you'll find Oregon]. Hills, which look set ablaze with a golden orange color at sunrise and, like an old-mans face, a morning fog like shaving cream rest atop the hills just waiting for the razor of hot sun to burn them off [See Below].
You have to wake-up pretty early in the morning to get this view, and be prepared to snap quickly [the picture above was take from Terra Blanca].
The last time I was there, they had some of their 2011 fermenting away in the tank, a very cool year, even on Red Mountain.
I was part of one the tours/taste they offer. Tours, which can be booked via their website, thinking to myself this had to be one thee most immaculate wineries I've ever been to, nothing was out of place. It almost smelled too clean, if there is such a thing.
As you can see the letters are quite large and can be seen easily from afar and, found atop of the massive staircase which takes you up to the very comfy tasting salon.
Now about the wine in my glass, as I mentioned above I did sample both the 2006 and the 2007 at various stages, even sampled the 2007 out of the barrel and at time I thought "hmmm, these wines are very good, but" they just didn't have that wow-factor. But as time went by, in bottle these wines matured and really came into their own; so much so that reading about the current scores of 90+ points, I could not agree more.
In fact I'm echoing their impressions with my own 93 point score on both vintages. These wines are highly recommended to any vino-sapien considering adding Washington State juice to their cellar. Both vintages had real depth of flavor, layered complexity and spoke "terroir" quite eloquently.After the deftly polished tannins, the well
integrated judicious use of oak, and the long seamless finish, you find a
wine with real "soul" and substance.
A wine well worth the price of admission; which is $75 per 750ml bottle; but the savvy shopper can find these sames bottles for less if you know where to look. Right now is a good opportunity to grab a vertical of their wines with the 06, 07 and the 08 all being available for purchase.
Both vintages are a blend, with Cabernet Sauvignon leading the way. The 2006 was the first vintage produced at the [new facility]winery in Benton City. And with the 2008 vintage having now been released, receiving high praise, what you may have not noticed, that with each vintage the percentage of estate fruit grows toward the goal of becoming 100% estate fruit and, also 100% Red Mountain fruit. If you look at the AVA on the bottle, right now it states Columbia Valley.
Okay, so you may...be thinking, "uh okay Mr. Cuvee your thinking is that $75 bones is worth the price of admission, but I don't have that kind of coin". Alright I hear you, I hear you so here's a bright idea, how about "Shining Hill" which is their second label, it sells for a SRP of $40 and while I've never sampled SH, it does appear well received with an average score on Cellar Tracker of 90 points.
Some may wonder: "okay, uh..you seem to really be high on Red Mountain in general, what it's in it for you?" That is a fair question, but there's is nothing "in-it" for me personally;other than the pure satisfaction of being a guide-post of sorts. One that points the way to some of the best juice in the world and Red Mountain is certainly one of those places you need to discover for yourself. Moreover, I'm convinced that once you do, there will be no turning back.And until next folks, remember as always, "Sip long and prosper cheers!"
Full Disclosure: On my last visit, the tour and subsequent tasting fees were waived. All wines reviewed were purchased at my own expense.
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“Life is the only game in which the object of the game is to learn the rules.” – Ashleigh Brilliant
Rules, rules, rules they're everywhere and, just about anywhere one may look and, if you're ever in doubt about what the rule is, then there's the "rule of thumb"
But what about the "rules" for going wine-tasting? What are they? Should there be any? I think there should be and so do many other seasoned vino-sapiens. So whether it's a wine festival, a portfolio tasting, or just the average garden-variety wine tasting, it's important to understand a few rules before the next tasting.
Seeing I have just come back from a wine-festival of sorts the other day, I thought it would be a good idea to help the average vino-sapien understand the rules-of-engagement sort-a-speak and, more importantly the view-point from the other side of the tasting table.
This somewhat humorist list of rules, which will have many of you laughing and, following out your chair. This list is being republished here, courtesy of my friends at the Hedges Family Estate and you can find the original posting here via their trade dispatch.
Rules at a Wine Festival:
- Don’t tether your wine glass to your neck.
- Don’t pinch your fingers and say, “Just a little.”
Dump it if you don’t want to finish it, but I’m going to pour as much as
I damn well please.
- Don’t violently lift your glass mid-pour and say, “That’s enough.” Same deal as above.
- Don’t say, “Give me the biggest thing you have.” This isn’t NASCAR.
- Let “smooth” take the day off from your vocabulary… the whole day
- Don’t shove. [I mean… really]
- Don’t say you hate Merlot. We all saw Sideways. Guess
what: Miles didn’t want to drink Merlot because it reminded him of his
ex-wife. That bottle he drank in the end—his most precious bottle—had a
ton of Merlot in it.
- Don’t tell every winemaker about the winery that was down the street while you lived in Lodi.
- Don’t ask how the wine scored… ever.
- Do wear a “Wine’er, Dine’er, 69’er T-shirt
- If you are going to wear one of the those little food
trays that has a cutout for your glass, you better be damn sure you are
cool enough to wear it. Note: no one is that cool.
- Over-buff late thirties guy: Don’t try to impress your date by contradicting me. You’re going to fail. Yeah, try me!
- Don’t lick your glass… pig!
- Don’t talk about your sulfite allergy. There is a good chance you have no idea what you’re talking about.
- Don’t dump into the water pitcher. And always look before you drink out of it.
- Practice spitting at home; it will come in handy.
- Don’t talk about the legs after you swirl the glass. Here’s a tip: the legs don’t matter.
- Don’t take your heels off and puke in the lobby. [purple cookies are gross]
- Don’t ask what the most expensive wine on the table is.
- Keep the rim of your glass food free. [Ewww]
- If you proclaim that you don’t like white or rose, we will make fun of you when you walk away.
- NO Perfume! And go light on the lipstick, honey!
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Some people drink from the
fountain of knowledge, others just gargle. ~Robert Anthony
And I'm the kind of wine-guy who likes to
gargle with Sauvignon Blanc before heading off to a tasting, and no I didn't
swallow. But now that you have that amazing image in your brain [you're
welcome] it's time to get down and dirty with one of my favorite grapes,
And yes each one of these wines is high-alcohol; like the one pictured above sporting a whopping 15%[oh-my]or very near 15%; so save me the
crocodile tears and the fits of anguish over the whole, wines are
"getting-to-hot" nonsense. Because each of the following wines I'll be reviewing
today, have a balanced approach [although not necessarily tasty], even with the
Okay, so I received these wines last year as samples [and so did a whole lot of
other blobbers] and I'm just now getting around to reviewing them. Each wine
has three things in common; all three had Joel Gott as their winemaker, all
three are Grenache and all three are from the same vintage, 2010.
Now that said, in today's review spotlight will be, Shatter, Alakai and The
Show. As I said, Grenache is one of my favorite grapes and I know you're not
supposed to have favorites, but I do so get over it. Now speaking of favorites,
only one of the three wines in today's spotlight actually tripped my trigger,
the other two "meh" they were okay.
1. 2010 Garnacha
Show": Typically I'm all over wines like this, their flavor,
complexity and down-right feel-good wine drinking is their hallmark. But not so
this time, in order to SAVE on costs, the wine was fermented in concrete tanks,
while only 20% is aged in oak.
I thought the wine showed a lot of
potential, being from a 40year old vineyard site, but it lacked that umph.
My score on this wine is 84 points, this is one "Show" I'd forget
about seeing. Price
Range: $13 - $20 most
Alakai California Red Wine: Again another wine with big potential, a rocking
Rhone-Zone blend featuring; 77% Grenache, 17% Syrah, 4% Mo-ved, and a drop of
Petite Sirah. This time around, barrel aging was employed, but the grapes
grabbed for this mission; could not bring home the cat. I was sadly
disappointed in this wines performance.
I found the wine underwhelming and
disjointed. Not sure if it would be worth the wait, but a bit more time bottle
could allow flavors to integrate a bit more. It’s not bad, but not stellar enough
to make me reach for my wallet either and my score 84 points. Price: $18
3. 2010 Shatter Grenache,
France: This folks is how you do it, and do it right. If you want drink a wine,
one which boxes well above its weight class, than this is your ticket to
Pay-Per-View wine-stopping excitement.
This wine is a result of first-time collaboration with Mr. Dave Phinney [of
Prisoner fame] and Joel Gott, but it would appear Mr. Phinney's now iconic
style took the lead. This is a brilliant wine; produced from a steep hillside
vineyard, planted 60 years [black, fractured schist] ago near a small town in Roussillon, in a place called Mauray. So duh, no guessing
why this wine is number one, priced higher than the others and two, why it beat
the snot out those other two poseurs above.
The wine had me from the word go, soon as I popped the cork on this bad-boy, I
knew it was game on. In the glass; this wine is sporting a deep, nearly opaque
ruby color, while inviting red-berry aromas easily escape from the glass,
inviting the first slurp. From the first pour the last drop, this wine is
nothing but Grenache goodness at its best. The soft French oak is nicely woven
into the wines vivid dark and red fruit core; you barely even realize it's
there. The finish is long, lasting and it drives deep. In a word this wine is
Well worth the price of admission at the
SRP of $31, but you're in luck if you live in San Diego. Because this 93 point wine
is just coming back into stock at one of my favorite retailers Vintage Wines and I just confirmed
they do sell this wine for $27 [btw, they can ship if you live out-of-state].
Do want to read the story behind the
Shatter Collaboration? If so click here.
Full Disclosure: The wines above as I've
stated were sent to me as samples for the review process. And two, I do not
work for Vintage Wines in any capacity, but they probably wish I did, ha. Until
next time folks remember to sip long and prosper cheers
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“If you only drink the same wines that everyone else is drinking, than you can only think what everyone else is thinking.” ~ A wise Vino-Sapien
Well good afternoon every and welcome to March, here in San Diego it looks like we are having some summer like weather, just ahead of the coming Spring. Sadly my friends on the East coast are still in full blown winter mode and for that I'm truly sorry. But it looks like a good opportunity for them to indulge in one of my favorite Winter wines, Port. So I say lean into, because before you know you'll be looking Spring right in the face.
In today's review is a fantastic wine, one that is so easy on the wine-budget, you may become giddy with delight, perhaps even a few hand-springs, okay-okay perhaps that's a bit too ambitious. But you will soon get my point after you uncork what I can only describe as one most "complete" bottles of wine for $12 you will find any where, and here's where you can get some for yourself.
This wine has everything, the average vino-sapien is looking for via earthy, mineral-driven nuances [you literally taste the vineyard dust], light engaging aromatics, food friendly, a gentle verve of dark and red fruits pulsing though its soul. Even the garden variety wine-twirler will get this wines easy going and easy to get along with personality; a wine that's easy as a Sunday morning. This is the style of wine that makes pairing choices so easy and wonderfully fun. I can't imagine too many things that would not pair well with this wonderfully well-made wine from a stellar vintage. And a unique blend with Syrah leading the way at 70% with the balance 30% Grenache.
If you've never taken a visit to the Rhone-Zone, as I like to call it. Then this folks is your ticket to ride, a wine that will come out, shake your hand and you'll become fast friends. It will leave you wondering why you had not met sooner. My score on this wine is 90 points, the kind of wine to purchase by the case load. Easy, fun and flavorful, so very worth the tiny price of admission. Until next time folks, sip long and prosper cheers!
Disclosure: I secured the wine featured in today's review with my own cold-hard cash from my employer; Bird Rock Fine Wine.
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We are what we repeatedly
do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle
I had a chance to sample this wine, just a few weeks ago, while at work. I know poor me, the first time I sampled a wine from this producer, it was just last year, during the Wine Bloggers Conference in Oregon, someone had generously uncorked several high-value labels from the Napa Valley. It was however the 2002 "Elivette" which really caught my eye, a wine that I thought was epic.
This is the kind of wine, you give as a gift to impress friends, or to celebrate special events in your own life, a wine to share with others. It's not a wine, at least for me that would be part of my "everyday drinker" category of wines. After all, I'm no Warren Buffet, with a disposable income, the size of the garden variety third world country. No disrespect, but if you can afford to drink this kind of juice on a regular basis, hey more power to you. I'd do the same if I could.
Now that said; this wine is predominantly a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, with Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Merlot. And in a word it's a master-piece. You really can't wine much better than this, and their 2007 effort is rock solid great. This wine is one spectacular ride to tasty-town; one where you'll be quite sad once the last drop has fell from the bottle.
Even though this bottle I had sampled [then spit] had been opened the day before, never decanted, [but I'd recommend decanting] jostled here and there, from one wine-shop to another, and it still over-delivered. Nothing but silk, lush but not ripe, structured but not rigid, this wine is like a painting, it takes time for it to evolve in the glass. It could still easily go another 10 years, if you wanted to lay a few down. This wine had unbelievable depth and elegance, like so few wines do. So yes, in this case this wine is well worth the price of admission.
The wine sells for a Benjamin or more, just about any place you go. Honestly there's not much of the 2007 vintage, but I'd grab as many as your bank account will allow. I scored this wine 96 points, one of the highest scores I've ever given a wine.
I've only been by the winery a couple times, I've been to a couple of their neighbors Vineyard 7 & 8 and Fantesca, so I think on my next trip to Spring Mountain, I'll have to make sure I drop by and say hello.
On your next trip to the Napa Valley you should make a point to discover the wonderful Mountain appellations like Spring Mountain, and their neighboring Diamond Mountain and of course what would a mountain-top experience be like without making an appointment with a few producers on Howell Mountain. Give these AVA's a swirl the next time you find yourself in the area, it will be hard to go back to the wineries who dwell in the valley.
Again these are days, where you wish you didn't have to spit. Until next time folks, sip long and prosper cheers!
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"Wine makes every
meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day life more
civilized." --- André Simon
So uh-yeah, you've been waiting for part two for
sometime, I know, I know. But like your favorite new TV drama or sit-com, you
have to wait, for what seems like an eternity for the next installment. So I hope the heightened anticipation, will be worth the price of admission. But if
you happen to be new to this whole shebang, then you're in for a treat today. I
have  seven new, fresh and yes I'll say it fabulous Pinot Noir's sure to
rock your wine-world.
4. Sequana SLH 2010 PN: This wine sells for right around $32 retail,
but some places have for just under $30. So be smart and shop around.
This beauty comes from the fine folks at the Hess Collection, who've decided to
dip their collective fingers into the Pinot-Pie as it were and boy I'm glad
The nose grabs you right away, with a barn-yard,
wet earth funk. But as time goes by, each swirl unveils new, more inviting
aromas. Baking spices, dark just-ripe fruit grabs your mid-palate, while sweet
tobacco wraps around your tongue, laced with firm acidity to hold back the near
berry-bramble collision. I was lucky enough to have scored a few [untested]
bottles of this wine last year while visiting Hess, and I'm so glad my hunch
paid off. My score 91 points.
5. Lucienne Estate SLH Single Vineyard 2010 PN: This wine is only available to be purchased in a
6-pack, but the silver lining is that each bottle retails for right about $35
each. I was told that very little of these 6 packs remained. So after seeing
this, you better skedaddle over to the Hahn Estate site to score your own
six-pack. This wine was barrel aged for 14 months in a combination of 35%
new French oak barrels, which means unlike some wines I tasted, you get far
more expression from the vineyard and far less barrel impression.A silky,
rich mouth-watering new world PN in its purest form. The finish just sails on
and on. My score 91 points.
6. 2010 Testarossa "Fogstone
Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir: This bottle is on the pricier side of the
equation. At least it's in my book, selling in limit quantities for a hefty $56
each. Not an every-day-drinker for the average vino-sapien, but definitely a
great bottle of wine to hold unto for a special occasion.This wine is a suave, thinking man's wine,
which carries the ample fruit on a sea of well integrated tannins, with banners
of fresh cola, earth, herbal notes and ripe strawberries. I scored this wine 93
Gatos Cuvee 2010: I've been impressed with
this producer over-all for a long time, but I've always thought their prices
have swung toward the higher end of the scale. For me, as an nearly every-day
wine drinker, those prices are an unsustainable blow to my wine budget. Part of
the reason why I was glad to see they came
out with a second value label.
A wine they have dubbed the Los Gatos Cuvee,
produced from the Monterey AVA. Produced under a screw-cap indicating, it's
made in a drink now and drink often style. It's still has some heft, easy
drinking flavors and $23 SRP. I score this wine 88 Points.
8. Paraiso 2009 SLH Ranch Blend PN: Once more, this producer
continues to amaze with the caliber of their wines, especially the Pinot Noir
category. This is their entry level PN, it sells for less than $20 and I
scored it 90 points. Baked cherry pie, white pepper, sweet tobacco,
cola, nice length, well balanced. This wine is an easy every day drinker for
the vino-sapiens who would like to dial up the quality, without emptying their
bank accounts. Best Buy.
9. Bernardus 2010 SLH Rosella's Vineyard: A dark garnet color in the
glass, a funky barnyard thingy on the nose, nice round yet enticing red fruited
berries, cola, herbal, leaving you with a long, yet sumptuous finish. A wine produced
from the famed “Pisoni Clone” and Dijon clone 777. This
wine is listed as a single vineyard designate and carries a price commensurate
with that designation, SRP $65. My score 93 points, sings par excellence.
10. Bernardus 2010 SLH Gary's Vineyard: Okay folks, this is the
last wine in the top-ten list, but certainly not least, by any stretch of the
imagination. A huge wine, full of swagger and braggadocio, but you would never
know it; by the way it carries itself. It's like they say it's not bragging if
you can back it up and this wine certainly brings it. This was one of the very
first wines I tasted that day, but my-oh-my it was nearly best of show.
The nose grabs you right away, by the throat, and whispers in a Batman
like voice, I'm Pinot Noir bitch, deal with it! Notes of vanilla, florals,
toast, subtle spices, while dark plumand raspberry jam dominate the
conversation. The palate
is exceptionally full and complex, from the beginning to the last amazing drop.
Having to spit really sucks sometimes, if you know what I mean. I scored this
wine 95 points. It's a blockbuster, with a price to match SRP $65, ouch.
Perhaps you wondering about all the other wines,
which I tasted and didn't make the top-ten list, feel free to shoot me an email
and I will then send you a list of those who were left in the also-ran category. Until
next folks, remember to sip long and prosper cheers!
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"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded
gold, it would be a merrier world."
~ J.R.R. Tolkien
A sentiment I share and one which finds me in hearty agreement, but alas the world we live in today seems to be a bit more caught up in not only in the pursuit of gold, but also vain notoriety [aka, reality TV].
Now that said, the tale I'm about to tell is simply about "cheer", indeed something we can all 'clink' our glasses together and rejoice. About what you may ask, well finding some superbly well made Pinot Noir, that you should be running out to purchase this very moment [what are you waiting for?].
As some you may know, I've been teasing this out over the last few days; that I would be coming to you with my top-ten SLH Pinot Noir report. So here it's, I just yesterday attended the Santa Lucia Highlands tasting, in Costa Mesa. There was something like fourteen different producers, not that I was keeping score. So I thought I may have a tough time coming up with a top-ten list, luckily that was not the case at all.
When the average vino-sapien thinks of high-end Pinot Noir; the Santa Lucia Highlands is not the first thing that comes to mind right away. But I'm here to tell you that it should, because there are some extraordinary wines being produced in this area, just south and east of Monterey, Big Sur is directly to the east and the vineyard sites look down into the Salinas Valley. You'll find many of the SLH wineries have a tasting room presence in the city of Monterey.
As I had tweeted out earlier, some of you may find my top ten report to have a few surprises in the line-up; as I don't always go-in for only touting the usual suspects, nor do I want to only be apart of the hallelujah-PN-chorus. So with no further ado, here's the first part of my top picks from yesterday's tasting.
1. 2009 Pessagno Central Avenue Vineyard PN, Monterey: The color was very unique, in direct comparison to the many others seen that day. A light colored burnt crumbled brick/strawberry. The nose was captivating, amazing florals, spice, strawberry/cherry. The first slurp, nice weight, structure and vivid acid carrying the fruit. At first slurp cola, near burnt-toast crusted with a strawberry jam. This wine sells for a mere SRP of $17.99, I scored it 92 Points. A best buy.
2. 2009 Pessagno SLH Pinot Noir: Another stunner, recently written-up by WE, I could not believe what my mouth was experiencing. How could I've never heard of these folks before? Not sure, but I'm so glad I had a chance to get acquainted with their wines. We all know about yeasty-beasties and their role in the wine-making process. They use what has been described as a "Burgundian" yeast culture, known for producing bold flavors and aromas, right along side natural yeast fermentation. Again the same color as above, a "sur lees" style that brings an invitation to flavor town. WOW, my score 92 points, the SRP is $28, what?
3. 2009 Four Boys Vineyard PN: This is their flagship bottle and my-god it taste like it, the fellas at WE oozed all over it with 94 points, I really could disagree too much. This wine was the best of show, yesterday, a screaming fast-ball of flavor and finesse knocked cleanly out of the park. This folks is SLH at its best. A PN rumored to be planted to the famous "La Tache" clone, as well as Dijon clones. The barrel-regimen is described as 75% new French Oak, over 11 months.
In the glass a burnt orange/strawberry color, nice barnyard funk in the nose, earthy, candied strawberry/plum and pie crust, nice acid carries the basket of summer fruit, lots of depth and polish. The SRP $55, and my score is 93 points.
I was hoping I would finish the entire list today, but I unfortunately will have break this into a part-one and a part-two. That said look for part two tomorrow, as I have seven more fantastic SLH Pinot Noir wines you won't want to miss. Until next time, sip long and prosper cheers!
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It has been said that; "The only difference
between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible.” ~Mark Twain
Well I couldn't agree more with that statement. But one of the funny things I observe, if that if you go to any tasting event, you'll definitely find white wines tend to be the wine, which is left over at the end of the day. Check it out for yourself, the next time you throw a party for a bunch of cork-dorks [a technical term] I believe you'll see that the white-wines will often sadly be the last to go, compared to their red wine counterparts.
I'm sure everyone is familiar with the phrase "Variety is the Spice of Life"which is one of my favorite quotes, and one I subscribe to myself.Isnot life much better when it is filled with a "variety" of the things we like? Of course it is. It is inevitable that somewinesin your life will become boring and your palate will crave new tastes, new experiences, so it's nice to have otherwines that you still enjoy to fall back on.
Now there's is nothing wrong with giving the garden-variety Chardonnay a swirl now and then. But it's of course a wine which isvery plentiful, one you can find on just about any grocery store shelf. But when you've got to the point, that many seasoned vino-sapiens ultimately get to, the last thing you want is Chardonnay. Especially when the world is brimming over with a virtual cornucopia of other white wines, all sporting many different styles, flavors and aromas.
Wine with Depth: So you think the Miami heat has depth on the bench? Uh-no not compared to this champion with roots in the Northern Rhone Valley of France. It's with the idea of "depth" that I bring to your attention a white wine with somedepth, complexity, intermixed with bold flavors and floral characteristics, sure to please even the most discriminating palates, yes maybe even you lurkers out there.
I present to you Viognier [pronounced vee-oh-nyah]. A white wine which has it roots in France's Northern Rhone Valley. In fact, according to one so-called wine expertRemington Normanwho has identified two distinct strains of Viognier an "Old World" strain, most common in Condrieu, and a "New World" strain, which is found in the Languedoc and other areas.
Although made from the same grape, the two strains produce distinctly different wines and Viognier from Condrieu tends to be on the expensive side of the equation. So with that said, you will mostly find the NW strain here in the states, although if youstretched yourself and did some research you could find yourself some of the Old World style Viognier, a feat which to many is not unlike obtaining the holy-grail.
Personality Disorder: Uh-huh, so you thought only people were the only ones with personality disorders? Sadly it too can be said that even your favorite wine can have the same dysfunction. There are a couple styles of New World Viognier to be found and the style you chose depends on whether it has been aged in Oak or Stainless Steel.
If the wine has been aged in Oak, it will give a creamy nuances along with its floral expressions you can also look forward to an in heady bouquet of nectarine, lemon peel and lychee complemented by floral notes of lime blossom and honeysuckle.
Butif you prefer the more traditional stainless steel approach or made in neutral oak barrels, look for more clean flavors, higher acid, tending toward a more restrained styleand but at the same time more elegant, meaning the wine will be more pronounced on the nose and a feature a bit less weight on the palate.
Aroma Therapy: Everyone needs a little “aroma-therapy” now and it’s also happens to be in true in Côte-Rôtie [known by many as the roasted slope] because it’s here that the very aromatic Viognier [up to 20% allowed] lends a hand at perfuming the blends of Syrah from this very well known French wine Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) in the northern Rhône wine region.
The beautiful red wines of the Côte-Rôtie typically exhibit an almost paradoxical combination of meat aromas [including bacon] and floral aromas or as I've heard it liked to as, “the flowers on my breakfast-in-bed tray.”
Pairing Champion:Viognier is a food pairing champion and can stand up nicely to rich creamy dishes and butter based sauces. It is especially good as an appetizer pairing wine, which pairs ever-so-nicely with lightly toasted French baguette, cut in small bite size slices covered with a base blend of goat cheese, topped withfig paste, orange rind, it's just fantastic. Viognier also pairs nicely with soft and semisoft cheeses: Fresh chèvre [goat cheese], gruyère, aged Gouda, and double and triple creams, give it a swirl, you won't be disappointed.
Other dishes: Foods that I've found pair best with Viognier quite nicely include but are certainly not limited to, Chicken Cutlets based in an anise, tarragon butter sauce, Roasted Salmon covered in a creamy yogurtherb sauce and will also go nicely with any number seafood dishes, shellfish Scallops, lobster, crab, and shrimp.
Shopping Tips: I've gathered a few other selections as well, some great choices that I've run across myself recently, that I'm sure will please a broad range of palates.
K Vintners Viognier 2009 (Columbia Valley; $20). Edgy spices and minerals under honeyed white peach, orange blossom, and apricot. Itasted this one at the 2010 Walla, WallaWine Bloggers conference this past summer and it's just fantastic. 90 Points
Miner Simpson Vineyard Viognier2009 [Napa Valley, CA $20] Nice minerality and citrusy yet lush, with white peach and apricot nectar. I've tasted and purchasedthis wine on many occasions and is for sure one of my go-to labels. Year after year, it's a well made wine. 90 Points
Cold Heaven Viognier 2009 [Sta. Rita Hills, CA $24] Wet-river stone, a bit restrained, with stone-fruit blossoms, juicy citrus, and white peach notes. I've had this wine a few times and for folks who likethe "dry"approach this would be a great choice, look for the blue label. 89 Points
Les Jamelles Viognier 2007 [Languedoc-Roussillon, Vin de Pays d'Oc France $10] I uncorked this bottle just a couple of nights ago, it delivered nicely for the meager price. In the glass you have lovely pale gold color core and watery rim.Nose: A rich, very aromatic wine, with lots of characteristic fruity scents, and typical varietal aromas, such as apricots and fresh white peaches a small bit of white pepper. This wine represents a great value. 87 Points
Fess Parker Viognier 2008 [Santa Barbara, CA $20] Fess Parker Viognier's like many othersdisplays great fruit focus, offering peach, apricot and pear notes that are ripe and well-structured, with a supple texture. I've had this wine also on many occasions; folks this wine is a tasty New World style Viognier. 90 Points
ServingTips: I recommend sipping and slurping these wines chilled, but not too cold, otherwise you'll lock in many of the wonderful perfume like aromas wanting to escape from the swirl of the glass. I'm thinking about 58 to 60 degrees would be perfect. In my opinion; serving this wine too warm will dull the experience considerably.
From the wonderful folks atWine Dine TVI present to you the Viognier as the word of the day. Until next time, sip long and prosper cheers!
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