“So, are you opening anything special for Thanksgiving?”

chin-chinLast night, a Facebook friend and fellow wine blogger asked me, “So, are you opening anything special for Thanksgiving?” Here is what I wrote in response:

Life is quite strange sometimes. The short answer is, Yes and No. The long answer is as follows.

My ex-husband recently married a Jehovah’s Witness, which means they do not celebrate birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc.

He has become somewhat estranged from his mother, who is, of course, my former mother-in-law. She is 80 years old.

Through our two children, I learned that she was feeling bereft due to the lack of celebrations, and on the occasion of my son’s 13th birthday in September, I felt compassion for her, called her, and invited her to meet us for dinner to celebrate. She did, and it was definitely the right thing to do.

So I again invited her to join us for Thanksgiving. We are going to a restaurant for our mid-afternoon supper (her request), and going to her house for dessert, wine, and Scrabble afterwards (again her request).

Her favorite wine is white Zinfandel. So that is what we will be drinking tomorrow. Is it special? Yes and no!

I hope you slept in. I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving and drink whatever you want with the people you call “family and friends.” Today I’m grateful for the relationships that have transcended circumstances and remain intact and meaningful anyway.

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Three Fine Tempranillos

ThreeTempranillosNov2014Thanksgiving is a busy time for wine geeks, with Tempranillo Day on the second Thursday in the month (today!), Beaujolais Nouveau Day on the third Thursday, and, of course, Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday. Here’s what I enjoyed for Tempranillo Day this year.

1. 2012 Valdubón Cosecha, Ribera del Duero. 13% ABV. $15.

Earlier this year, I reviewed the 2007 Valdubon Reserva, so I was excited to try this one. Unlike “Reserva,” though, “Cosecha” doesn’t mean much when it comes to aging time in barrels–in fact, it simply means that 85% or more of the grapes that went into that particular bottle must be from the year stated. (Reserva red wines must be aged for at least three years, with at least one year in oak.)

Dark garnet. Bright, cedar, cigar box, slightly medicinal nose with a surprisingly round, fruity, gentle (almost soft, but in a nice way), powerful taste. Mouth-watering, then a mildly tannic finish. I was surprised to learn that it spent zero time in oak.

OTHER REVIEWS:

“Bright fruit flavors of black cherry and boysenberry, with vanilla accents, are supported by light, firm tannins and citrusy acidity in this round red.”
Wine Spectator, November 2014

88 POINTS
“Dark violet, blueberry and earthy black plummy fruit greets the nose along with streaks of licorice and medicinal spice. Tight, focused and just a bit tart on entry, this open nicely on the palate featuring soft, almost plush fruit underpinned with firm, slight rustic tannins. There’s some nice fruit here, blueberry and plum toned, but the emerging savory nuance adds attractive complexity. It’s a pretty well behaved wine showing a hint of sophistication yet retaining the rugged character of Ribera.”
Snooth, March 2014

WEB: www.HeredadCollection.com

2. 2011 Vaza Rioja Crianza, Laguardia in Rioja Alavesa. 14% ABV. $19.

I’ve tasted two other incarnations of Vaza Rioja, both in Spain last April when I visited Barcelona and the Priorat region courtesy of Freixenet. One experience of it, the 2010 Crianza, was in connection with a cooking class in Barcelona. The other experience, the 2011 Cosecha, was during our first dinner of the trip.

Deep violet garnet. Dusky fruit and oak, vanilla. Blackberry, licorice, spice and everything nice; a complex acidity that is mouth-watering first and then dry on the finish. Aged in French and American oak for 12 or more months, as is required in order to be a Crianza.

ANOTHER REVIEW: “The Vaza Crianza is fresh and fruit forward with attractive dark red fruit notes. While modestly concentrated, it is very pleasant drinking, with dry firm tannins on the finish.”
International Wine Review, July 2014

WEB: www.HeredadCollection.com

3. Mia Red, NV, Spain. 14% ABV. $12.

This summer, I attended winemaker Gloria Collell’s launch of her Mia brand in Ft. Lauderdale, and I tried a number of sparkling and still wines that evening that were all marvelous and approachable. And this one is another Tempranillo that wasn’t aged in oak! However, in this case, unlike the Cosecha (#1), I wasn’t surprised–it has a softness and purity that is appealing.

Dark violet. Clean cherry aroma. Full of fruit and brilliance. Mouth-filling, beautifully soft wine with the most pleasant and rich cherry taste ever. With 14 g/l residual sugar, this would be characterized as off-dry, although it doesn’t come across as “sweet” at all.

Winemaker Gloria Collell writes:

“Mia red highlights all the qualities of Spain’s classic grape variety–Tempranillo. As I wanted the pureness of the grape to shine through, the wine isn’t barrelled in oak.

“The colour of the wine is a deep ruby red with a slightly violet blue touch, which is typical of a young Tempranillo. And if you put a glass of our red to your nose, you can smell a real earthiness, plus hints of plums, violets and even orange.

“When you come to taste it, I think you’ll find the wine rich and fruity, with hints of plum and red berries. It’s a little spicy as well and has a taste that lingers in the mouth.

“I think my Mia red is perfect to drink with white meat, beef and lamb, as well as pasta and vegetables. You can also enjoy drinking it slightly chilled if you prefer.”

WEB: www.MiaWines.com

Of these three Tempranillos that I enjoyed last night and tonight, it was difficult to select a favorite, as all of them had tremendous appeal and differences. And if you can’t find any of these three wines, I would also recommend any vintage of Marques de Riscal, because every vintage has been delicious and a little different, and the wine is easy to find anywhere, even in higher-end grocery stores. Samples sent for review.

 

Posted in Spain, Tempranillo, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Lodi Native™ Project—Great Idea, Great Wine

Some of the best ideas happen when kindred spirits gather together to enjoy wine.

Lodi-Native-2012-bottlesLodi Native™ is one of them. The project was born two and a half years ago when Randy Caparoso, sommelier and blogger for the Lodi Winegrape Commission (LoCA), brought together several Lodi winemakers for a tasting of their wines with a visiting sommelier. A discussion ensued about how Lodi might best increase awareness of its magnificent old Zinfandel vines.

People in Lodi have been growing wine grapes since 1850, but for all this time Lodi grapes have made their way primarily into large California-appellation wines. Today Lodi grows 40% of California’s Zinfandel, and in the last 20 years, an artisan winemaking movement has mushroomed. The great old Lodi vineyards are being rediscovered and renewed, and are brilliantly displaying the quality of what they can produce. Many of them date back into the 1870s, and many of them are still on their own roots (vs. grafted) and thriving today.

The Lodi Native™ plan started with the notion of showcasing single old-vine vineyards. Remove the winemaker and the style from the practices; highlight the terroir and the site specificity. The idea was to allow the terroir-driven fruit to speak for itself, with different voices depending on its vineyard of origin, similar to other great wine regions of the world.

The winemakers met regularly during the next six months and discussed the protocol of what they would and wouldn’t do. Ultimately, six winegrowers living and working in Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA stuck together and agreed on minimalist winemaking with the following rules:

  • Old vine Zinfandel only (at least 50 years old)
  • Native yeast fermentation, no malolactic
  • No additives (no acid, water, enzymes)
  • No new barrels; aged in neutral oak barrels only
  • Unfiltered
  • Minimal S02

Via an online tasting, we enjoyed six impressive Zinfandels, progressing from westernmost to easternmost in the AVA.


LodiTodd-Maley1. 2012 Maley Brothers, Wegat Vineyard.

It started out green and brambly but opened into a very smooth, pleasant wine that was almost as good as the Trulux (below), but softer.

Todd Maley (pictured, right) said the vineyard was planted in 1958 on St. George root stock, and is sustainably farmed to produce “nice sweet, ripe fruit.” Chad Joseph, winemaker, said it yields three tons/acre. The winery grows 320 acres in Lodi, mainly Zin. Chad was aiming to bring out a textural, tactile mouthfeel, among elegant features of the vineyards that are expressed via native fermentations. They harvested at a lower brix for higher acidity and more delicacy, rather than the in-your-face fruit-jam-bombs that Zinfandels can be.

Wegat is on the west side of Lodi, where there is more clay in the soil; it isn’t as sandy as the eastern side. It has alluvial deposits from the Mokelumne River. Todd likes the “herbal notes on the wine and the bright cherry flavor. A little carbonic maceration, uninoculated wine, but in a portion of the wine we put whole clusters in there, so you’ll pick up a little bit of herbal, minty taste. Destemmed, no crushing, we try to keep as much whole berry as possible, 14 days, bin fermentation.” Then it was pressed and put into barrels, racked one time, with sulfate added for aging. The wine spent nine months in the oak. Both barrels were neutral—in fact they were more than six years old); one was French, another a European barrel. Decisions on oak aging times were left to each individual winemaker. Todd “really wanted to leave the oak out of the equation and just have it be a vessel.”

WEB: http://www.lodinative.com/maley-vineyards/
The Wegat Vineyard is a 21-acre planting of head trained vines, field budded on St. George rootstock by the Maley family in 1958. It is a quintessential “west side” Lodi vineyard: planted in fine sandy loam, yielding less than 3 tons/acre, from a unique clonal selection characterized by consistently loose clusters—all contributing to the round, lush, boysenberry/blueberry qualities long associated with Wegat.


Lodi Layne Montgomery2. 2012 m2, Soucie Vineyard

New home construction, blueberry sauce.

Layne Montgomery (left), winemaker/owner, told us that Kevin Soucie is the grower at this vineyard that was planted in 1916 by his grandfather. Original 6-acre block. Self-rooted, head trained, sandy loam, westmost vineyard in the project. A lot of earth, loam. Has been making wine from this vineyard for 12 years. Consistent, yet different. 22 brix, he wanted the acidity; 750 pounds, no acid addition. Another 1,500-1,700 pounds at 24-25 brix, blended together. No malolactic, no new oak. Amazing how long it took to take off on fermentation on its own: more than two weeks before they pressed. Zins shine at 27-28 brix, but it’s a lot harder to make a balanced wine. He’s liking the more subtle style from the project. “Zin is kind of a blank canvas; it’s so broad; you can do a lot with it. Zin is America’s grape; there’s no Old World to compare it to.” He makes another wine from this vineyard called Velvet Elvis.

WEB: http://www.lodinative.com/m2-wines/
m2′s Lodi Native Zinfandel is sourced from the oldest block of Soucie Vineyard; planted in 1916 and farmed by fifth generation Lodi native Kevin Soucie. The vines are own-rooted and head trained, and the soil—an extremely fine silt with the consistency of talcum powder—is a variation of the series found in Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA’s far western edge, identified as Devries sandy loam. The site is also the closest to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta’s cooling breezes in Lodi, resulting in distinctively lush, pungently earthy, terroir driven styles of Zinfandel.
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Lodi Michael-McCay-smelling-2012-Zinfandel-300x2403. 2012 McCay Cellars, Trulux Vineyard

Complex, with many aspects of what you would expect from a Bordeaux. Beautiful fruit. Tannins, yet mouth-watering. Good finish. Licorice, pipe tobacco. Very well balanced. Raw organic cherry pie, a pure expression of the fruit and soaringly beautiful flavors. A little amber in the color. I loved this wine. To me, this was the most complex and sophisticated of the six.

Mike McCay (pictured, above right): Vines taller than 6 feet, head trained, beautiful ladder effect, produce a cluster of grapes that’s very elongated, deep dark style of fruit, blackberry, black cherry, a little bit of tobacco, black pepper, very unusual style of Zin. Really loves the native style; stumbled onto it years ago by accident in 1994. Last to bottle (in November) and he can see this as evolving. Blown away at how it keeps changing, showing more layers, new nuances—fascinating. About 85% of his production every year is native, so this wasn’t all that new to him; it wasn’t out of the box for him.

WEB: http://www.lodinative.com/mccay-cellars/
TruLux is a west side Lodi—Mokelumne River AVA vineyard, originally planted in the 1940s on St. George rootstock. It is distinguished by unusually tall head trained vines (topping 6 feet) and a clonal selection producing atypically loose, elongated clusters. This, and loamy sand, yields dark, meaty fruit qualities with a perceptible earthy, loamy complexity. McCay Cellars currently produces seven different single-vineyard Zinfandels; plus a delicate, refined Grenache (which McCay believes could be Lodi’s “Pinot Noir”); a meaty, scrubby yet plush Carignan (from a vineyard originally planted in 1909); a dry, zingy, contemporary style white wine blend; and the freshest dry rosé this side of Provence.
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Lodi Marians-zin-harvest-1024x8184. 2012 St. Amant, Marian’s Vineyard

Mouth-drying tannins, yet soft. Interesting! Blackberry, white pepper.

Stuart Spencer’s wine. Family has been making wine since 1980; he took over in 2006 when his Dad died. This is an 8.3-acre block, own-rooted Zin planted in 1901. Underground drip irrigation put in 20 years ago, rejuvenated the vineyards. Own-rooted, sandy soils; nematodes can be a challenge, but so far so good. 4 tons/acre on 111-year-old vines, so that just shows you they still have a ways to go. Picked at 24.5 brix.

WEB: http://www.lodinative.com/st-amant/
Marian’s Vineyard is a revered 8.3-acre own-rooted Mokelumne River AVA growth, located south of the town of Lodi. It was originally planted in 1901 by a branch of the Mettler family on present-day Mohr-Fry Ranch; and today it is farmed by father-and-son Jerry and Bruce Fry. It is named for Marian Mohr Fry Zimmerman, the Fry family matriarch who passed away in 2007 at the age of 94. Marian’s deep sandy loam is extremely well drained (in many years, yielding less than 2 tons/acre); but in 2012 the vineyard produced over 30 tons of bold, concentrated fruit–a testament to how well it is farmed today, in accordance with Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing. The entirety of Marian’s goes to St. Amant Winery, founded by the late Tim Spencer (a Lodi icon).
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Lodi Ryan-Sherman-300x2405. 2012 Fields Family, Century Block Vineyard

Green, brambly, a little funky. Tannins.

Ryan Sherman (right): 3 acres, own-rooted, planted in 1905. Tokay, Garnache vines scattered throughout. Short squatty vines, and bigger more robust vines, and took a couple of years working with the farmer to rein it in. Fun vineyard. 9-10 tons from the patch. 85-95% of the wines he produces are along the lines of this native project anyway; also, he uses neutral barrels normally anyway, native fermentation, etc.; all unfiltered except for the whites and the rosé. Bottled Nov. 27.

WEB: http://www.lodinative.com/fields-family-wines/
The Century Block Vineyard is a 3-acre patch of own-rooted Zinfandel (typical of old vines in Lodi) planted in 1905; standing defiantly in a sea of more recently planted trellised vineyards, on the east side of Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA. The 2012 is the first vineyard designate on record for this growth, and shows what maximum attention in the field and minimal intervention in the cellar can do.
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LodiNativeNoma-Vineyard-Zinfandel_320-3306. 2012 Macchia, Noma Vineyard

More clear than the others, with violet. Cherry. Grape Bubble Yum! This one dances with fleeting whiffs and tastes of delightful things. Brown sugar. But NOT big in your face jam at all. This wine was the most fun of the six. Opening up into new home construction but less so than the other one.

Tim Holdener: Background as a brewer, and has lots of experience with different yeasts being the only thing to change in the brewing, and having the beer turn out completely different. What does own-rooted mean? Most vines in California were grafted onto root stock to protect them from phyloxera and nematodes and other root pests. Centuries ago this wasn’t done, they would just stick a vine in the ground. It’s grown on its own roots. You get a different character coming through on own-rooted vs. grafted on. You do take a chance, but some of the benefits, sandy loamy soil helps the Noma vines survive as long as they have. Special places. Noma is on the east side, close to the river, so it’s in deep, sandy loam soil. It is encroached by a lot of buildings on all four sides, though. It’s dry farmed; one ton/acre, it’s intense and concentrated, but the farmer isn’t making a lot of money on it. This vineyard produces beautiful, higher-acid fruit. 25 brix.

WEB: http://www.lodinative.com/macchia/
Noma Ranch, farmed by second generation Lodi grower Leland Noma, is a 15-acre vineyard of small, stunted, own-rooted, head trained vines dating back to the early 1900s, located on the east side of Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA. It is 100% dry farmed; typically yielding close to 1 ton per acre. These tiny clusters of high skin to juice ratio grapes produces a unique Zinfandel: of all of Lodi’s heritage plantings, Noma is consistently among the most concentrated and highest in natural acidity.
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LodiNativeSixSUMMARY

Each winemaker made about 50 cases (a couple of barrels) of these wines. The smallest “patch” was 3 acres, and the largest single vineyard was 30 acres. The wines cost $35/bottle, or they are available in a six-bottle set, packaged in a commemorative wooden case. This six-bottle case is available for purchase from the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center; call 209-365-0621 or fill out an order form and fax back to 209-367-0737.

They did it again in 2013, and I’m looking forward to trying this again next year; the 2013 Zins are in the barrels. All the winemakers were more comfortable with it the second year, and in fact all of them extended the method into some of their other blocks and varietals. They enjoyed it. It’s a work in progress. Every time they have a meeting, they talk about other things. Zinfandel was easy to start with, because they’re all growing it. I thought of Grenache while writing this article, and so did one of the winemakers. We’ll see.

WEB:
http://www.lodiwine.com and http://www.lodinative.com/. If you want to watch the online tasting video, visit http://cca.yourbrandlive.com/c/lodinative.

Samples sent for review.

Posted in California, Tastings, Zinfandel | 1 Comment

Food pairings: Freixenet’s Cava and other wine

Recently I spent several days exploring Spain’s Cataluña winemaking region. I learned about the region’s famous Freixenet Cava as well as many other beautiful wines being produced there. (This post is Part IV about the visit; other posts’ links are at the end of this article.)

Cava is a sparkling wine, made primarily of Spanish grapes but in the Champagne method, i.e. aged in bulk in a barrel or tank first, with a secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle. The bottle must be heavy and thick, and the cork must be thick and tightly placed, to withstand the pressure within the bottle. Cava is the most famous of the Freixenet products, but the company makes many other lovely wines and also exports their own wines and other vineyards’ wines to other countries.

Our first night’s dinner was in the town of Vilafranca del Penedès (near Barcelona), at Hotel Casa Torner i Güell, where we stayed for part of the trip.

Casa Torner i Güell is a micro-hotel in Penedès, a wine-making district in the Cataluña region. Reportedly once an old stately home, today the hotel is quite modern, with European touches of chrome, glass, dramatic lighting, and crisp color schemes in the 17 bedrooms that share a bar, restaurant, and garden courtyard. The property is quiet and peaceful.

At the start of our dinner, we enjoyed Cava Elyssia; a happily empty bottle is pictured to the right. This was a fruity and aromatic Brut (dry) rosé of Pinot Noir, from a local vineyard formerly owned by Moet & Chandon.

Our first course was a delicious bisque with a crispy shrimp.

Next came a course of monkfish with a cucumber salsa, olive oil, and orange (pictured above), and the Cordon Negro came out. “Cordon Negro” simply means “black cord” and is a reference to “black tie” elegance. Easily found in the U.S., this Cava is clean and crisp, with aromas of apple and pear.

We were served a course of mashed potatoes with an out-of-this-world mushroom sauce and a thinly rolled, crispy wafer that was only slightly more substantial than filo dough. To my surprise, next we were served another starch: a rich risotto with diced Spanish ham and chives. Maybe our hosts thought we needed to absorb the Cava we’d been enjoying! After that, we were served another fish course on a bed of caramelized onions and roasted red peppers, and crispy onions on top. All of these savory courses were complemented well by the Cava.

The beauty of sparkling wines is that they stand up to any food whatsoever, but do not overpower it. The bubbles and acidity will cut through butter and oils, and the bubbles also cleanse the palate so that the food tastes are, if anything, amplified and not overpowered. That is why sparkling wine is so often associated with chocolate and other desserts—it just works!

Just when I was ready for a change of pace wine-wise, out came the meat course: rare beef with roasted red pepper pesto, paired with Vaza Cosecha Rioja 2011, another wine from the Freixenet family. The wine was a stunning Rioja.

For dessert, we were served a very moist chocolate cake flanked by raspberry sorbet, vanilla-bean Mascarpone, and a caramel crisp. Both the Cavas and the Rioja were delicious with this dessert.

DIVINIC and the FREIXENET LOVE STORY

Divinic, located in the same town, specializes in wine and tapas. The restaurant was designed by architect Oriol Llahona.

One of the highlights of the evening was the 2004 and 2005 Brut Nature (left), not only because it tastes wonderful, but also because we learned the romantic history of Freixenet. It is a story of love and feminine grit.

The label is old-fashioned, and the wine is indeed intended to honor the family’s roots and the first Freixenet Cava released 100 years ago.

The story begins in the 1700s, when the Ferrer family established La Freixenada, a winegrowing estate in the Penedès. In the mid-1800s, the Sala family settled nearby in the Penedès, and Mr. Sala converted his father-in-law’s barrel-making business into a wine distribution company, eventually exporting wines all over the world under the name Casa Sala.

In the early 1900s, the youngest son of the Ferrer family, Pedro, married the only daughter of the Sala family, Dolores, uniting the two respected wine lineages. Seeing a unique opportunity in sparkling wines, which were not common in Spain at that time, Pedro and Dolores released their first Cava in 1914 with the Freixenet label.

Tragically, in the 1930s Pedro was killed in the Spanish Civil War, leaving his wife and children alone. Dolores decided to continue to run the business, and even decided to build it dramatically in the face of misfortune. Against the odds of the difficult war time, she succeeded in launching Carta Nevada in 1941. The unique frosted golden bottle went on to become one of Freixenet’s most popular Cavas.

In the 1950s, their youngest son, José Ferrer, took the reins of the family business with the goal of realizing his parents’ dreams of introducing Freixenet to the world. In the 1970s, following the Casa Sala tradition, the family shipped the first bottles of Freixenet to the United States. In 1974, José introduced Freixenet Cordon Negro, a new Cava bottled in a radically distinctive dark frosted bottle, which would become known as the “Black Bottle Bubbly” and is Freixenet’s best-known Cava to this day. In the 1980s, Freixenet became the world leader in sparkling wine produced in the traditional champenoise method.

Today, a century since Freixenet released its first Cava in 1914, the company remains 100% family owned, with the fourth generation now in the business. Gloria Ferrer, José’s wife, is now the family “star,” with fine wines bearing her name from Sonoma, California. José Ferrer, in his eighties, is the President of Honor of the Freixenet Group and the Founder of Gloria Ferrer Caves & Vineyards in Sonoma’s Carneros district.

But I would like to mention one more food course and wine from that evening: the steaks we were given to grill as desired, with roasted red peppers, garlic and olive oil; and the delightful 2011 Ribera del Duoro Tempranillo served alongside. AWESOME.

WEB:www.casatorneriguell.com, www.freixenetusa.com, www.gloriaferrer.com

Media/trade trip courtesy of the Freixenet company.

Posted in Cava, Food, Restaurants, Spain, Tempranillo, Travel | 1 Comment

EXCELLENT: Two Ribera del Duero wines

I’ve enjoyed nearly every Spanish wine I’ve tried, and these two Tempranillos were just lovely.

Wine has been made in the Ribera del Duero area for more than 2,000 years. Today, wines must be at least 75% Tempranillo in order to be released with the Ribero del Duero D.O. (Denominaciónde Origen, or geographic origin). The only grapes allowed for blending are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Garnacha, and Malbec. No white wines can be released with the D.O. designation, but Tempranillo produces a dry Rosado and that is allowed.

The area, 90 by 20 miles, is in north central Spain and is home to 250 winemakers, approximately half of whom export to the U.S. The area has a rather harsh climate, described as “nine months of cold and three months of hell” with very little rain. Irrigation is allowed, but it’s very expensive. Thus, the roots need to reach down into the soil, and a richer wine is the result.

Alconte2009 Bodegas y Vinedos Montecastro Alconte Crianza, 14.5% ABV, $24 SRP.

My first impression: licorice, gentle tannins. Something intense and special, even cheerful. It opened into a little white pepper with spice and blackberries.

Alconte is a new vineyard, with some older vines. The winegrower doesn’t use trellises, adhering to the bush vine approach. This particular wine was aged for 14 months in French and American oak. (Crianza has to be aged at least 12 months and no more than 23 months.)

NIGHT TWO: Cola, white pepper, red licorice. Very interesting.

BACK LABEL: This wine has been aged for 14 months in barrels made of French and American oak. Total production from the 2009 vintage has been 13,345 bottles. Imported by Classical Wines, Seattle, WA.

WEB: www.Montecastro.es

Valdubon2007Label2007 Bodegas Valdubón Valdubon Reserva, 13% ABV, $27 SRP.

First impression: Elegant, with raspberry. It opened into cherry and delicious, soft fruit and spice. This was aged nearly two years in 80/20 American and French barrels. It didn’t taste like American oak, though—it had the more tightly woven taste of French oak, but it wasn’t over the top.

Valdubón was established in 1997 and 100 acres are planted in Tempranillo.

NIGHT TWO: Subtle cedar on the nose.

FRONT LABEL: This noble red wine is produced entirely with Tinda del País—or Tempranillo—the predominant red grape of Spain. Densely flavored and brick hued, this wine is a true Reserva, patiently aged for almost two years in French and American oak with an extra year slumber in the bottle. The grapes used for this prodigious wine came from carefully manicured vineyards by the Riaza River, producing a wine of balanced acidity and concentrated fruit flavors. This wine complements roasted red meat, game, sausages, or even lamb kabobs.

WEB: www.FreixenetUSATrade.com, www.HeredadCollection.com

Samples sent for review.

Posted in Spain, Tempranillo | Leave a comment

Hey, Kids!

This is cool. If you want to see posts that have been pinned from your page or blog, enter http://www.pinterest.com/source/ and then type the name of your blog or page. So check out http://www.pinterest.com/source/thefrugalwinesnob.com/!

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Summer sippers: Easy-to-find white blends

Earlier this week, I published a blog post about some outstanding white wines from Lodi. While they’re extraordinary, they aren’t easy to find, and most people will need to order them directly from the winemakers.

This post will cover some whites that are at the opposite end of the scarcity spectrum: they are available in the supermarket. However, these wines are still off the usual beaten path, as they are white blends. Here they are, in no particular order.

ApothicWhite20122012 APOTHIC White Winemaker’s Blend, California, $9, 12% ABV

NOSE: Floral, vanilla.

TASTE: First impression of some sweetness. Opens to melon. Pleasantly smooth and round. No edginess at all. If you’re looking for a break from “crisp acidity” and oak, this is your ticket. It’s soft, easy to drink, and can be enjoyed by itself.

LABEL: Inspired by the “Apotheca,” a mysterious place where wine was blended and stored in 13th century Europe, Apothic White offers a truly unique wine experience. Apothic White is a luscious blend of smooth Chardonnay, vibrant Pinot Grigio and aromatic Riesling, which create layers of tropical fruit complemented by hints of honey and vanilla.

WEB: www.Apothic.com

Conundrum20112011 CONUNDRUM White, California, $14, 13.5% ABV

NOSE: A hint of Sauvignon Blanc, minerals.

TASTE: Minerals, a touch of Sauvignon Blanc, some sweetness, lots of fruit mid-palate, lychee, light tannins, light acidity, apple pie spice. Slightly velvety mouthfeel. This one can be enjoyed by itself, or I would pair it with an Asian dish with coconut, peanut, ginger, and garlic as ingredients. The exact blend is a secret, but each year their blend includes, in varying proportions, Chardonnay for its weight and complexity, Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon for acidity, Viognier for unctuousness, and Muscat Canelli for floral qualities. Some lots are aged in stainless, some in seasoned French oak barrels, some in new French barrels.

LABEL: Conundrum White—a great wine for a fun night out or a lazy afternoon by the pool—it’s made for food and friends! This wine is pure California at heart with a blend of grapes that makes the taste so special and unique—always the completely enjoyable Conundrum. Served chilled, it is a perfect wine, any time. Jon Bolta, Winemaker. Vinted and bottled in Rutherford. Wagner Family of Wines.

WEB: www.ConundrumWines.com

14HandsHotToTrotWhiteBlend2011 14 HANDS Hot to Trot White Blend, Washington State, $9, %ABV

NOSE: Pears, apples and citrus, with light floral notes.

TASTE: Pear, melon, lemon. This paired surprisingly well with a slightly spicy chicken enchilada with verde sauce—the food really brought out the fruit. A hint of cinnamon, and a little more acidity than the first two. It’s a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Sémillon.

LABEL:
This spirited white wine reveals vibrant aromas of white stone fruits and citrus, and mouthwatering flavors of fresh apple, pear and melon. The flavors race smoothly across your palate creating a juicy, refreshing finish. 14 Hands celebrates the spirit of the wild horses that once roamed the Columbia River Valley. Fourteen hands in height, these tough little horses were revered around the world for their strength. The terrain that once gave them endurance and spirit now feeds our vines. Our 14 Hands wines share the soul and intensity of this unbridled freedom. Artist Cynthia Sampson.

WEB: www.14hands.com

LittleBlackDress20112011 LITTLE BLACK DRESS Divalicious White, California, $8, 12%ABV

A little flabby mid-palate but a surprisingly long, acidic finish. A hint of mushrooms and earth among the fruit. It’s a blend of 65% Pinot Grigio, 18% Muscat, 8% Chardonnay, 4% Sauvignon Blanc, 3% White Riesling, and 2% Viognier.

LABEL: It’s not an indulgence if you’ve earned the pleasure. That’s what makes you divalicious. So feel free to immerse yourself in divalicious white and experience the crisp intensity, ripe attitude, racy edge and surprising playfulness afforded all great divas, including you. Great taste is your best accessory! Vinted and bottled by LBD Vineyards Hopland, Mendocino County.

WEB: http://www.excelsiorwines.com/winery/little-black-dress/

MenageATroisWhiteBLend2012 FOLIE À DEUX, MENAGE À TROIS California White Wine, $9, 13.5% ABV

NOSE: Citrus and florals.

TASTE: Bananas, melon, citrus; off-dry, mouth-watering, acidity on the finish. It’s 44% Chardonnay, 34% Muscat Alexandria, and 22% Chenin Blanc. Refreshing and quite good.

LABEL: Our White blend brings together refreshing citrus and sweet tropical fruit flavors with crisp acidity. A delightful blend based on three varietals—Chardonnay, Moscato, and Chenin Blanc.

WEB: www.MenageATroisWines.com

Posted in California, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Moscato/Muscat, Muscat Alexandria, Muscat Canelli, Pinot Grigio (Pinot Gris), Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier | 1 Comment