Wine of the Week: 2013 Campovida Viognier Campo Dos Robles

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine of the Week is the 2013 Campovida Viognier Campo di Robles.

The Winery

Campovida is a family owned and operated certified organic farm and working vineyard located in Hopland, California in Mendocino County.  It’s a unique place that offers deep connections with nature, wine tasting, a professional culinary kitchen, a 10-room retreat center. It’s a place where you can relax, enjoy and create your custom gatherings. The property is located on a site that was formerly the Fetzer Valley Oaks Food & Wine Center , a 51-acre property originally opened and founded by the Fetzer family.

The husband and wife team of Gary Breen and Anna Beuselinck are owners of Campovida. The couple purchased the property intending to make it their dream home. But it’s evolved into Campovida.

My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting Campovida last year.  We were very impressed by the couple’s vision, the property, and the wines.

The winemaker is Sebastian Donoso. Sebastian, who was born in Chile, moved to the United States with his family when he was 14. He attended architectural school in Miami, Florida, but quickly realized that’s not what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.  He moved to California and graduated from Fresno State University with a degree in enology and began his career as a winemaker at Sarcina.  He’s been the winemaker since 2012.

The winery produces a total of about 2,000 cases of wine annually.

Campovide has two tasting rooms, one in Hopland, and one in Oakland, CA.

The Wine

This Viognier comes from Campovida’s estate, “Campo dos Robles” (field of two oaks) vineyard.  It is a CCOF Certified vineyard located in the town of Hopland along the banks of the upper Russian River. The site’s river-bed gravelly loam soil provides an ideal site for growing world-class Rhone white wines.

The wine was aged in neutral French oak for five months with lees contact and stirred once a month to increase mouthfeel.  No malolactic fermentation.

14.2% alcohol; Retail – $36; 135 cases produced

photo (30)

My tasting notes follow:

Pale golden-yellow color with appealing white peach, apricot, honey, and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, fresh, and persistent with focused peach, melon, apricot, and honey flavors. Lingering finish. 

Rating: A-: This is lovely wine that shows a wonderful harmony.

Pair with: Pair with curried dishes, shellfish, or dishes with a fruity sauce such as pineapple salsa,  or mango chutney. Try with  Viognier Steamed Clams.

Sample provided for review

Ratings Key:
(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Taste of Place – Lodi Native Tasting

Lodi, the self-proclaimed “Zinfandel Capital of the World”, is a region on the rise. It’s been perceived as a region primarily known for producing “fruit bomb” style Zinfandel, and being a source of grapes used in producing value wines.

But Lodi is much more than that.  It’s the home of thousands of acres of old vine Zinfandel vineyards that date back as far as the late 1800s.  These old vines produce smaller yields which results in wines of greater structure, concentration, and complexity.

Last night, I participated in an online tasting showcasing the unique characteristics and personalities of some of Lodi’s old vine vineyards.  The project is known as Lodi Native™. 

Lodi Native™ is a collaborative project by six winegrowers of like mind, living and working in the Lodi American Viticultural Area – particularly Lodi’s historic Mokelumne River sub-AVA.  Their mission:  to turn the spotlight on the region’s heritage plantings – many of them dating back to the late 1800s – through sensible viticulture and minimalist winemaking practices, beginning with native yeast fermentation and use of no new oak.  The focus is on Zinfandel, but on the taste of vineyards rather than varietal character or brand.

Here’s how it worked…

Six vineyards were featured.  Each of the six winemakers for these vineyards was responsible for his own wine produced from those vineyards, but also collaborated with the others to establish a winemaking protocol all would follow.  Each agreed to apply their “best efforts” while being willing to forego personal or brand style in order to achieve the project’s mission.

The mission of the project is

  • To demonstrate to more sophisticated consumers, media,  (print and blogosphere) and gatekeepers (such as specialty retailers and sommeliers/restaurateurs) that distinguished, distinctly identifiable vineyards exist in Lodi, similar to other great wine regions of the world.
  • To encourage preservation and appreciation of old vine plantings – well as of Lodi’s long tradition of grower/custodians – by focusing more attention on vineyard sites, vis-à-vis real and tangible sensory expressions in each bottling.
  • To build professional camaraderie, a culture of information sharing, and new challenges for Lodi’s Zinfandel specialists.
Lodi Native Winemakers

Lodi Native Winemakers (clockwise from left): Layne Montgomery, Stuart Spencer, Ryan Sherman, Michael McCay, Tim Holdener, Chad Joseph. Photo courtesy of Lodi Native

The mutually agreed upon wine-making protocols included the following:

  • 100% Zinfandel from a single contiguous vineyard
  • Preference for established “old vine” plantings (i.e. pre-1962)
  • Native yeast fermentations for primary and malolactic fermentation
  • No use of oak chips, dust or similar amendments.
  • No acidification or de-acidification.
  • No new oak or use of innerstaves in aging process.
  • No tannin additions.
  • No use of Mega-Purple or other concentrate products.
  • No filtering or fining.
  • No must concentration, Flash Détente or similar extraction measures
  • Proposed cuvées are to be submitted by each producer for sensory evaluation and subsequent approval of entire group.

The project created a unique opportunity to truly let the personalities of these special old vine vineyards to shine through.  The use of the protocols essentially meant there would be no manipulation of the wine’s color, flavor, tannin or alcohol levels. And the lack of new oak effectively took away most of the winemaker’s spice rack. One of the winemakers described the process as “winemaking without a net”.

Key decisions in the winemaking process were mostly around when to pick the grapes and how long to age before bottling.

The result was six wines produced from fruit which are elemental manifestations of the vineyard from which they were sourced.

The project showcased three vineyards from west side  of the  Mokelumne River  – Weget, Soucie, and Trulux, and three vineyards from the east side - Marian’s Vineyard, Century Block, and Noma Ranch (Anyone else tempted to throw their hands up and holla “Eastside” or “Westside” right about now…or is it just me?;-)

Here’s what the six bottles of wine look like.   It interesting to note that “Lodi Native” and the name of vineyard are more prominent than the winery.  So, even the design of the labels align with the project’s mission of featuring the vineyard over the winery.

A limited number of six-bottle sets packaged in attractive commemorative wooden boxes are available from the Lodi Wine & Visitor Center for $180.

photo (29)

We tasted the wines in the order reflected in my tasting notes that follow:

  • 2012 Lodi Native Zinfandel Wegat Vineyard -Dark ruby color with lifted fresh and dried cherry, boysenberry jam aromas accented with a bit of underbrush. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh and focused with a pleasing grip of fine-grained tannins. It full of black cherry, boysenberry jam flavors accented with red currant and a bit of maple (not though) that come through on the back palate. Long finish. 14.9% alcohol. – (91pts)

Wegat Vineyard-Cmprssd

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.  The 2012 Lodi Native Wegat Vineyard Zinfandel was produced and bottled by Maley Brothers Vineyards for grower Todd Maley; by winemaker Chad Joseph.

  • 2012 Lodi Native Zinfandel Soucie Vineyard - Ruby color with promising mixed berry (blackberry, raspberry and a touch of cranberry) pungent earth, and low-key sweet spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied with medium-low acidity, and a bit of a grip from dusty tannins. It shows mixed berry, plum and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. 14.5% alcohol – (88pts)

Soucie Vineyard-CmprssdFruit was sourced from the oldest block of Soucie Vineyard; planted in 1916 on the west side of the Mokelumne River AVA, and farmed by fifth generation Lodi native Kevin Soucie. The 2012 Lodi Native Soucie Vineyard Zinfandel was produced and bottled by m2 Wines by winemaker/owner Layne Montgomery.

  • 2012 Lodi Native Zinfandel Trulux Vineyard Medium ruby color with pleasing blackberry, plum, bramble and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied with medium+ acidity, dusty tannins and ample ripe blackberry, plum, and spice flavors with a hint of black currant on the back palate. Medium-long finish. 14.5% alcohol. – 89pts

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TruLux is a west side Lodi – Mokelumne River AVA vineyard, originally planted in the 1940s on St. George rootstock. Winemaker; Michael McCay (McCay Cellars) Grower, Keith Watts

  • 2012 Lodi Native Zinfandel Marian’s Vineyard - Ruby color with moderately aromatic clay, mixed black and red fruit, soft spice and subdued earthy aromas. On the palate, it’s light medium-bodied with medium acidity, and a pleasing smooth texture accented with fine tannins with bright blackberry, strawberry, and cacao with a hint of spice flavors. 14.7% alcohol – (87pts)

Marians Vineyard, Mohr-Fry Ranches-Cmprssd

Marian’s Vineyard is a revered 8.3-acre own-rooted east-side 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. Today it is farmed by father-and-son Jerry and Bruce Fry  The 2012 Lodi Native Marian’s Vineyard Zinfandel was produced and bottled by St. Amant Winery; by winemaker/owner Stuart Spencer

  • 2012 Lodi Native Zinfandel The Century Block Vineyard - Ruby color with black cherry, plum, boysenberry and a bit of bramble aromas. On the palate, it’s light medium-bodied, with medium acidity, soft tannins and a silky texture, and soft tannins. It shows cherry, blackberry, plum and spice flavors with some red currant and a hint of maple coming though on the back palate. Long finish. 13.9% alcohol – (89pts)

Harvest in Century Block Vineyard-Cmprssd

The Century Block Vineyard is a 3-acre patch of own-rooted Zinfandel (typical of old vines in Lodi) planted in 1905 on the east side of Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA.  The 2012 Lodi Native The Century Block Vineyard Zinfandel is produced and bottled by Fields Family Vineyards & Winery by winemaker/co-owner Ryan Sherman.

  • 2012 Lodi Native Zinfandel Noma Ranch - Darkest colored of the six. Nearly opaque violet ruby color with exuberant, fresh mixed dark berry, and soft spice aromas. On the palate it approaches full-bodied, with prominent acidity, and ripe boysenberry, cherry, red currant, subdued spice flavors underscored with a touch of minerality. Long finish. 15.0% alcohol – (90pts)

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Noma Ranch, farmed by Leland Noma is a 15-acre vineyard with vines dating back to the early 1900s, located on the east side of Lodi’s Mokelumne River AVA.  The 2012 Lodi Native Noma Ranch Zinfandel was produced and bottled by Macchia Wines; by owner/winemaker Tim Holdener

And what about that east side vs. west side thing?

The wines from the east side generally had a lighter feel and the tannins showed a bit more than the wines from the west.  The thing I noticed about the west side wine is that they had more of earthy aromas and seemed plumper.

Conclusions

Mission accomplished! These are six beautiful, yet markedly different wines that do truly reflect a sense of the special places from they grew up.  If I had to describe the wines as a group in one word (Okay…maybe three) it would be clean, elegant, and delightful!

One can not taste these wines without gaining an appreciation for both old vine Zinfandel and the single vineyard from which they came!

I’m already looking forward to the Lodi Native 2013 project!

 

Related posts you might enjoy:

__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Best Wines For Easter/Passover Feast #SundaySupper

For this week’s #SundaySupper we celebrate the traditional spring feasts of Easter and Passover.  And what’s a feast without some good wine?

Wine has always figured prominently in many religions, including Communion in the Christian faith, and the Passover Seder.

easter-eggs-wine-ornaments-table-13607647

The two main dishes served for Easter are ham and lamb.  Both pair quite well with a wide variety of wines—Red, White and even Rosé.  Ham’s tried and true partner for white wine are Riesling and Gewürztraminer.  Both wines offer fresh, flavorful taste profiles with enough sweet fruit to balance the salt in the ham and enough acidity to support endless variety of glazes that top the ham.  If you prefer a red wine with your ham, go with Zinfandel especially if your ham features a spicy sweet glaze.

Lamb’s tried and true wine partner is Pinot Noir. The fresh, earthy, herbal, spicy character of Pinot Noir will enable you to play with a variety of marinades, crusts, and sauces.  Pinot Noir also has the added benefit of working with roast poultry or even beef should you fancy those in addition to, or instead of the traditional ham and lamb main dishes.  Other reds like Syrah, Rhône blends, Merlot, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon also work well.

So then how to choose which?  I’d recommend Pinot Noir for rack of lamb, or leg of lamb served pink with fresh herbs or spring vegetables.  For roast lamb, or lamb shank served more well done served with garlic and/or rosemary and a sauce, choose Cabernet Sauvignon or a Bordeaux blend.  For slow roasted lamb or barbecued lamb go with a Syrah.

Of course, there’s more to a feast than ham and lamb.  Likewise, there are other wines to consider for your feast.  I highly recommend having a bottle of bubbly on hand.  And also consider a Rosé, either sparkling or still. Both are very versatile at the table and will go will with everything from your first course through your main dish.

Here are my recommended wines for your Easter/Passover feasts!

Wines for Easter

Know what I love about sparkling wine? It’s the only type of wine that’s socially acceptable to drink with any meal! Besides, it pair well with almost anything, and adds a celebratory feel, a “je nais se quoi”  to your gathering. So have a bottle of bubbly on hand.  I recommend Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs – a sparkling wine made mostly from Pinot Noir with a cherry, citrus, and vanilla character. It’ll be great with your appetizers and salad.

For white wine, I recommend an off-dry (slightly sweet) Riesling.  One of my favorites is the 2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle-Dr. Loosen Riesling Columbia Valley Eroica.  It’s off-dry  with vibrant acidity and a beautiful white peach, grapefruit and mineral character.

Rosé is an oft overlooked option at the table for Easter. It has mild red wine flavors with the cool refreshing personality of a white wine.  Look for the 2013 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare.  It has a crisp, refreshing  wild strawberry, citrus character.  It will pair well with a wide range of appetizers, salads, and side.  And even the ham!

For red wines, I recommend a Pinot Noir, and a red Rhône blend.   I like  2011 Mt. Beautiful North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2011 from New Zealand where they’re makings some fantastic Pinot.  It has harmonious black cherry, cranberry, baking spice and vanilla character.  I also recommend the  2012 Tablas Creek Vineyard Patelin de Tablas. It’s a blend of mostly Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre that has juicy raspberry, cherry, spice, slightly herbal character underscored by an appealing minerality. 

Wines for desserts

For desserts, I recommend  Moscato d’Asti for fruit based and creamy desserts or Madeira for richer desserts such as cheesecake, tiramisu or chocolate based desserts.

Look for Vietti Cascinetta Moscato d’Asti, it’s billowing peach, and rose petal aromas are followed on the palate delicately sweet, lightly sparkling with fruit-driven peach, and apricot flavors.

Madeira is a fortified wine made on an island off the coast of Portugal.  It has wonderful toffee-caramel like character that is the result of heated aging. And its acidity keeps it from being overly cloying on the palate.  Look for Broadbent 10 Year Old Malmsey.  It has a rich full-bodied molasses, toffee character with hint of orange character.

Wines for Passover

Kosher wines have come a long way from overly sweet Manischewitz.  There are quality bottles produced all over the world including Israel, Italy and Napa.  And today’s Kosher wines can compete with the best wines from around the world.  Here are some quality bottles that won’t break the bank.

On the sparkling wine front, look for newly released Freixenet ‘Excelencia’ Kosher Brut Cava with a crisp, refreshing pear, and apple character to pair with your breakfast/brunch (bubbly is the only wine that’s socially acceptable in the morning ;-), appetizers, salads, and egg-based dishes.

2013 The Tribe Chardonnay - from Napa Valley based Covenant Wines, one of the top producers of Kosher wine.  This is a crisp, fresh Chardonnay with hints of apple, pear quince, and a bit of spice. It’s also a great option for pairing with appetizers, especially those with melted cheese, or chicken.

2010 Gamla Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Golan Heights, Israel – Here’s a medium-bodied red wine that has a  fruity, smooth, blackberry, cassis, and vanilla character. Pair with braised lamb.

Whether you’re celebrating Easter, Passover, or just looking for menu inspiration, the #SundaySupper team of weekly contributors has a stellar line up of recipes waiting for you! Check it out….

Breakfast/Brunch

Appetizers:

Savory and Sweet Breads:

Sides and Salads:

Main Dishes:

Desserts:

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

#DrinkPink Rosé of the Week; 2012 Prieuré de Montézargues Tavel Rosé

It’s April and for me that means, it’s the unofficial opening of Rosé season (truth be told it’s Rosé season for me pretty much year-round)!  With that in mind, I’m cranking up my annual series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  It’s my quest for the best Pink Porch Pounders $20 or less!  This week’s Rosé is the 2012 Prieuré de Montézargues Tavel Rosé.

The Winery

Prieuré de Montézargues, located near the village of Tavel in the eponymous  AOC, has a rich history dating back to ancient Roman times.  It is sheltered by a forest of oaks, Scots pine and hundred year-old strawberry trees, while also being protected from the strong, cold and northwesterly wind  that blows through Southern France, known as the Mistral, by the Montagne Noire (“Black Mountain”).  Grapes in the 33 hectare vineyard are planted on sandy slopes that run down to Pujaut Pond. Eight grape varieties flourish in the Provencal sunshine: Grenache Noir, and Grenache Blanc, Cinsault, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Clairette and Bourboulenc  It is owned by the renowned Châteauneuf-du-Pape estate Château La Nerthel.

The Tavel AOC is across the Rhône River from Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC, and is unique in its specialization of dry Rosé wine.  It’s been my experience that the Rosés from Travel tend to be a bit more robust than its many of its other French cousins.

The Wine

First, I want to dispel a myth about Rosé.  I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve heard that a Rosé must be consumed within a year of vintage.  That’s simply not true for a quality Rosé such as this.  Granted they’re not intended to lay down for years.  On the other hand, you’ll find it will still represent itself well within a year or two of the vintage date.

This one is a blend of 55% Grenache Noir and Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 13% Clairette, and 2% Other (Syrah, Mourvedre, Carignan, Bourboulenc).

2012 Prieuré de Montézargues Tavel Rosé

2012 Prieuré de Montézargues Tavel Rosé

My tasting notes follow:

Light red color with fruity cherry, strawberry, and a hint of Herbes de Provence aromas. On the palate it’s pleasingly medium-bodied, with solid acidity.  It shows ample red fruits on entry, but is drier on the back palate with cherry, and peach flavors underscored by an appealing minerality.  Medium finish.13.5% alcohol.   Imported by Pasternak Wines. 5,800 cases produced;  Retail – $18

Rating:  B+:  I have to admit I prefer my Rosé a bit drier, but this is a great example of a more robust fruit forward style of Rosé and it’s just damned tasty!

Pair with: Since this wine is a bit more robust, consider pairing with Salad Nicoise, Chicken Teriyaki, grilled poultry, pulled pork sandwiches, or moderately spicy curry dishes.

Sample purchased for review 

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week: 2009 Justin Vineyards & Winery Justification

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2009 Justin Vineyards & Winery Justification.

The Winery

Justin Winery is a family owned and operated winery making estate grown and produced wines. The property was founded in 1981 by Justin Baldwin when he planted the 160 acre property to the major Bordeaux varietals and created their Estate vineyard.

It was probably the first true “destination” winery in Paso.  Besides the winery there is the JUST Inn B&B, and Restaurant on site.

The winery is located in the Paso Robles appellation of California’s Central Coast. The region’s first grapes were planted in 1779 by Franciscan missionaries and today are home to the third highest concentration of wineries in the United States

The Wine

I picked up this wine during a trip to Paso Robles a couple of years ago.  Blend of 67% Cab Franc, and 23% Merlot. Aged for 16 months in 100% French Oak Barrels (45% New French oak). 14.9% alcohol.

2009 Justin Vineyards & Winery Justification

2009 Justin Vineyards & Winery Justification

My tasting notes follow:

Garnet color with dark cherry, mixed berry, and a hint of spiced cassis aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fruit forward and supple with well-integrated tannins, and dark cherry, blueberry, tobacco and vanilla flavors. Medium-long finish.  To find this wine, click here.

Rating: A-: Love this wine.  Wish I had more!

Pair with: Moussaka, Vegetarian Lasagna, or Veal Chops with Portobello Mushrooms.

Sample purchased for review

Related posts you might enjoy:

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

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#WineWednesday Review: 2011 Bodegas Borsao Tres Picos Garnacha

Today’s #WineWednesday review is the 2011 Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Campo de Borja Tres Picos.  This is a wine that has a  (well -deserved) reputation for offering a lot of bang for the buck.  The last vintage I tried was 2010, when it was one of the wines tasted in our wine-tasting club’s Wines of Spain Smackdown. That wine placed second among the eight wines we blind-tasted.  So when I saw this at my local Costco for $13, I thought it was a great opportunity to check in on the 2011 vintage.

Bodegas Borsao specializes in Grenache.  Aside from this wine they produce a couple of other bottlings of 100% Grenache, and a blend that is mostly (70%) Grenache.

The wine is made from 100% Garnacha (Grenache) sourced 35 to 60-year-old vines from the Campo de Borja (a.k.a “The Empire of Garnacha”) region located in Northern Spain. The wine was fermented in stainless steel.  After fermentation, half the wine was aged 5 months in small French oak barrels (40% new) and the other half in stainless steel tank.

#WineWednesdayReview; 2011 Bodegas Borsao Garnacha Tres PicoMy tasting notes follow:

 Ruby color with red fruit, leather and baking spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and supple with medium acidity and strawberry, cherry, a bit of plum and spice flavors. Medium+ finish. 

Rating:  B+:  When I look for value, I look to Spain first, and this wine over-delivers at $13! Click here to find this wine.

Pair with: Paella Mixta, pulled pork sandwich, or grilled meats.  And for my vegetarian friends - lentil or bean-based dishes.

Sample purchased for review 

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

#DrinkPink Rosé of the Week; 2012 Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel

It’s April and for me that means, it’s the unofficial opening of Rosé season (truth be told it’s Rosé season for me pretty much year-round)!  With that in mind, I’m cranking up my annual series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  It’s my quest for the best Pink Porch Pounders $20 or less!  This week’s Rosé is the 2012 Château d’Esclans Côtes de Provence Rosé Whispering Angel.

The Winery

Chateau d’Esclans is found nestled in the heart of Cote de Provence, the spiritual home of Rosé.   about half an hour north of St Tropez. They are both a negociant and winery.  As such they identify vineyards, grapes and wine from their estate, Chateau d’Esclans, as well as local growers to make a what are renown to be the best range Rosé in the world.

Winemaker Sacha Lichine (son of Alexis Lichine) is at the helm of this spectacular property in Provence.

The Wine

First, I want to dispel a myth about Rosé.  I can’t tell you how many time, I’ve heard that a Rosé must be consumed within a year of vintage.  That’s simply not true for a quality Rosé such as this.  Granted they’re not intended to lay down for years.  On the other hand, you’ll find it will still represent itself well within a year or two of the vintage date.

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The Whispering Angel chapel from early 19th century, with its two cherubs who have inspired the creation of Whispering Angel. Image courtesy of Chateau d’Esclans

This is Chateau d’Esclans “entry-level” Rosé.  It’s a blend of Grenache, Rolle (Vermentino), Syrah, Cinsault, Tibouren.  Tibouren is a black-skinned grape that is said to add distinctive floral and berry aromatics, along with a bit of earthiness to the blend.

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My tasting notes follow:

Pale salmon color with promising wild strawberry, raspberry, melon and wet stone aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, fresh,  dry, moderately complex, and wonderfully textured with red berry, melon, and mineral flavors. Lingering finish. $17 (Costco)

Rating:  B+: It’s been a couple of years since I’ve enjoyed this wine.  But a couple of sips brought me right back to the consistent goodness that this is.  This is a perennial favorite that continues to deliver! Will buy more!

Pair with: Traditional Provençal fare including charcuterie, pâté, salade niçoise, and the aïoli platter. It’s an incredibly flexible partner at the table, complementing everything from international cuisine—curries, tagines, or chiles rellenos—to a vast array of seafoods, poultry, salads, and cheeses.

Sample purchased for review 

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
__________________________________________________________________

Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Guest Post: 2014 Rhone Rangers Tasting: Spotlight On Syrah

The Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting is a huge event, with far too many wines for me to get through.  While I chose to focus on Grenache, I thought it would be great to also get a sense of Syrah.  I love Syrah – especially “cool-climate” style. So today, I’m thrilled to bring you some bonus coverage of the event by featuring Cyrus Limón (a.k.a. Mr. Syrah) from sólosyrah

Syrah, especially “cool-climate” Syrah, is Cyrus’ thing, and I trust his palate.  

Take it away Cy…

_________________________________________________________________________

By Cyrus Limón

The 2014 Rhone Rangers Bay Area Tasting: Spotlight on Syrah

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Umm, yes, I’d like to taste some wine with this view.

The annual Bay Area Rhone Rangers tasting is a great way for me to get a sense of the state of Syrah in California. Although it’s usually missing some of my favorite Syrah producers like Peay, Arnot-Roberts, and Failla it still has a growing cadre of cool-climate Syrah aficionados that make it a great place to check in on Syrah. This year’s tasting was my favorite so far. The location at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond was beautiful and the wineries were spread out well to allow for a lot of elbow room and a lot of face-to-face contact with winemakers. The crowd wasn’t too big (great for those of us there, but maybe not for the wineries) and although there were a few noticeably inebriated people there seemed to be less general drunkenness than in previous years.

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The beautiful Craneway Pavilion in the Richmond Marina

It’s nice to have a plan when going into big events like this and for me the plan was to taste a lot of Syrah. I checked in with the handful of producers that are doing Syrah in the style I appreciate but was also keen to find some new producers doing a cooler-climate style.

Here’s a list and brief description of wines that I tasted at this year’s Rhone Rangers that most represent the lower alcohol, cooler climate style that I love some much. The wines below are organized by the order in which I tasted them.

Kieran Robinson Wines

I’ve written about this wine before but Kieran Robinson’s 2010 Bennett Valley Vivio Syrah is a great example of elegant Syrah. The wine has mid-palate lift and some great olive and red fruit aromas. The 2009 was a bigger wine from the same vineyard with more of a meaty chocolate profile. The ’11 just got bottled and will come in at about 13.3% ABV and the 2012 at 14.3% ABV. Kieran says that this type of vintage variation is common in Bennett Valley; you pick it when it’s ripe.

Terre Rouge

Terre Rouge in an old Syrah house that wasn’t on my radar until last year’s Rhone Rangers event. Bill Easton makes spectacular Syrahs from special spots in the Sierra Foothills and Lodi. His lower end wines tend to see less oak and are made for easier drinking with an emphasis on fruit and lower tannins. His higher end Syrahs are more tannic and see a lot more new oak and are meant to age.

The 2010 Les Cotes de l’Quest was actually my favorite from the tasting because of that judicious use of oak and had a bright and pure fruit profile.

The 2008 DTR Ranch is their estate wine and sees a little more new oak. The oak was mostly in check and the Syrah flavors came through nicely.

The 2008 Sentinel Oak was a much “bigger” wine with more tannins on the finish and more new oak. It’s still got great acidity though and I’m sure this is the kind of Syrah that could age for a long time (and already has) but for me I just would have liked to see the oak dialed back a tad.

The 2008 Ascent is that vintage’s example of their flagship wine. This wine spends 24 months in new oak. It had more of a blue fruit profile. I think this is a good wine for this style but again I think the new oak could be dialed back.

Although there’s no question in my mind that these are well-made Syrahs, my question is why not let the pure fruit aromas come through more on the higher end wines keeping the new oak in check?

Two Shepherds

I love checking in on William’s wines and this was one of the few wineries where I tasted through all the wines. The whites were tasting beautifully and William’s curent release of reds seemed even more cohesive at this juncture then the last time I tasted them.

William does have a yet-to-be-released 2012 Saralee’s Vineyard Syrah that he let me taste off to the side. I really like this Syrah (especially after the Terre Rouge wines) because it only sees neutral oak so it’s a great example of how a completely unadulterated Syrah picked at low alcohol levels can bring forth the true character of the varietal. This wine is young and had just been opened so it was full of mouth-filling acidity but also really delicious fresh fruit character. It’s an elegant Syrah that sets itself apart because of its core of acidity. I can’t wait to taste it in about 6 months to see how it continues to evolve in bottle.

Fields Family Wines

Going from William’s Syrah with it’s bracing acidity to Ryan Sherman’s easy-drinking Lodi Syrah was a study in contrast. I won’t go on too much about them here because I’ve only recently done a blog post on them but I do want to say again I am struck by how Ryan achieves fresh fruit character in his wines in Lodi. Yes they are riper styles of Syrah but these are not big vanilla and blue fruit Syrahs. His judicious use of oak, well-timed picking decisions and the cooler site along the Mokelumne River Valley allow the wines to maintain a true Syrah character.

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The affable Ryan Sherman of Fields Family Winery

Donelan Wines

I hadn’t checked in with Donelan since Tyler Thomas had moved on (link) and it was nice to meet new winemaker Joe Nielsen. Most of the Donelan wines aren’t exactly cool-climate but I was struck by their judicious use of new oak and a nice core of acidity that carried through all the Syrahs.

The 2011 Cuvee Christine is Donelan’s blend from different vineyards and is meant to illustrate the potential for Syrah in Sonoma County. It’s a nice fresh style of Syrah. Not too complex and intensely food friendly.

The 2011 Walker Hill, which I’d had before, was also well done with nice fresh fruit elements and surprising acidity.

The 2011 Richards (which was being poured at small samples off to the side) also showed enjoyable Syrah savory aromas and freshness even after spending 30 months in barrel.

Clos Saron

It was a pleasure to spend some time with Gideon Beinstock at Clos Saron. He’s the type of person I think I could sit and talk to for hours and someday I hope to get a chance to do just that at his winery in the Sierra Foothills. If you want to learn a lot more about the Clos Saron project then you’ve got to check out this excellent podcast with Levi Dalton.

All of Gideon’s Syrahs were great but I did get a common thread in the aroma profile that was both perplexing and alluring. The closest I can come to describing it is that it was almost like the aroma of a root beer candy, maybe mixed with a tootsie roll. I asked Gideon if he got any common thread of aroma through all the Syrah and although he didn’t say yes he did say that it was possible.  Gideon mentioned that it could be the native yeast from the winery and then he laughed and told me that possibly it was just his own stinky feet. (Gideon makes the wine in an old world style and still foot stomps the grapes.)  Regardless of how that interesting aroma got in there it’s clear it’s become part of the “terrior” of the Syrah.

The 2011 Stone Soup Syrah and 2009 Heart of Stone both had great cool-climate profile with savory aromas and a nice acidic core. The 2005 Heat of Stone was a bit more extracted and a riper style which Gideon attributed to an over exuberance on his part at this time of his winemaking career to extract big fruit and flavor from the grapes. He now works the grapes less (less punchdowns, less maceration) to make his wines more elegant and less “new world” in profile.

MacLaren Wine Company

I also checked in with Steve Law to get a chance to taste one of my favorite Syrahs, the 2010 Judge Family Bennett Valley Syrah. I think Steve did a great job with this wine and I’m always impressed with it’s freshness and aromas of salted plum and olive. It’s always a treat to taste.

Qupé Winery

Now these were the wines of the tasting for me.

As I mentioned before, this year’s event was less overwhelming than the previous years and I was thrilled to see that there was some space at the Qupe table for me to actually talk with Bob Lindquist and fawn over his Syrahs. I’d recently had a corked Qupe and one that was hopelessly infected with Brettanomyces so I was thrilled to get a chance to wash away those bad experiences with what I was hoping was some great Syrah.

I started off with the 2011 Bien Nacido Vineyard and boy was it tasting good. Elegant, floral, peppery and bright with a well-structured mid palate this was a delicious example of a classic site for Syrah.

The next wine was an iteration of Qupe’s famed Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard. The 2011 Sawyer Lindquist “Sonnies” is an homage to Bob Lindquist’s mother and is a selection of the best blocks from the vineyard and the best barrels from those blocks. This wine was tasting spectacular. It had that perfect combination of cool-climate characteristics mixed with rich and delicious mid-palate and an elegant finish.

The 2011 X Block Bien Nacido was also floral and elegant and tasting very much in balance at this moment.

It was a happy moment for me to taste these wines and get to talk with Bob Lindquist to extoll the virtues of cool climate Syrah. At one point Steve Law came over from MacLaren and the three of us geeked out on French Syrah and how food-friendly it is.

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Two generations of cool-climate Syrah lovers meet for the first time: Steve Law and Bob Lindquist

Lagier Meredith Vineyard

I love to check in with Stephen and Carole’s deliciously graceful Napa Syrah. This is a full wine but it’s light on it’s feet at the same time. The 2011 Syrah, Mount Veeder had a classic cool-climate Syrah black olive disposition with a full mid-palate. Again, this is a Syrah that shows that judicious use of oak and smart picking decisions can create an elegant Syrah in an area known for bigger wines.

Skylark Wine Company

I finished the day checking in with a relatively newer winery because I noticed that they had a Rodger’s Creek Syrah which is a cool-climate site near the Petaluma Gap and Carneros. The 2009 Rodgers Creek was a beautiful Syrah, peppery and bright with beautiful elegance. Another winery to get to know more and a style that I hope they stick with.

All in all, I’d say that there are more wineries attempting to make Syrah in a more floral, peppery, savory style; less blocky and big and overly brawny. Few wineries have gone all in on that style and some of my favorite Syrahs from the cooler vintages of 2010 and 2011 have climbed up in ripeness and alcohol level for 2012 and 2013 when the vintages were warmer so it’s hard to say if there’s really a stylistic shift or not. I’m heartened by many of my talks with winemakers who agree with me that Syrah doesn’t need to be jammy and oaky but then they admit that in order to please the general consumer they generally offer Syrahs that are bigger and riper to round out their portfolios. And maybe this is indeed the future of Syrah, that we just have to get comfortable with the fact that it comes in different styles and that consumers appreciate both styles.

As long as the cooler-climate styles stick around then I’m comfortable with that.

Here’s to Cool Climate Syrah – Rhône On Cyrus!

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About Cyrus Limón: Is a wine enthusiast devoted to extolling the virtues of cool-climate Syrah. He’s relatively new to the “wine thang” as I refer to it, but he’s dived headlong into it the last few years.  He started where virtually all wine enthusiasts start, with fruity wines. But his wine journey has lead him to perfect a palate for cool-climate Syrah. You can follow Cyrus on twitter @solosyrah

 

2014 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting- The Best of Grenache

Last weekend I attended the 17th Annual Rhone Rangers San Francisco Bay Area
Weekend Celebration of American Rhones at The Craneway Pavilion, Ford Point, Richmond CA.  Rhone Rangers is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the Rhone varietal wines produced in the U.S.

2014 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting

The Rhone Ranger’s new digs for 2014 – Craneway Pavillion

The two-day event featured a Winemaker Dinner on Saturday at The General’s Residence, Fort Mason, San Francisco.  The evening began with a walk-around tasting reception featuring 16 wineries, followed by a four-course meal catered by the Girl & the Fig, and concluded with a live auction of wines and wine-country travel experiences with proceeds used to fund the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund. After dinner, Robert Haas, partner and founder, Tablas Creek Vineyard was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the American Rhone movement.

Sunday featured a  two course Seminar Series and the Grand Tasting. I attended both.

It was my first time attending the Seminar Series, which I found both informative and entertaining.  For great recap of the seminars check out  Elaine Chukan Brown’s Hawk Wakawaka Wine Review’s -  Drinking Small Production Rhone Wines: Rhone Rangers 2014, and Tasting Grenache with the Rhone Rangers.

And did I mention there was wine at the seminars?

2014 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting - The Best of Grenache

Wines poured for “Grenache; The World’s Most Widely Planted Rhone Grape Variety” seminar

The Grand Tasting is the LARGEST Rhone tasting held in the US – 90 wineries (For a list of participating wineries-click here), and around 400 wines to try.

This year, the Grand Tasting moved from San Francisco to Point Richmond in the East Bay. I was thrilled with the new location.  Parking was plentiful and easily accessible for drivers.  But  what I really appreciated the new location is that was BART-able by taking the train to the El Cerrito del Norte BART station, the taking the free shuttle provided by Rhone Rangers to the venue.  Glorious views the Bay too!

2014 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting -The Best of Grenache

The calm before the Rhone Rangers storm!

Grenache Deep-Dive

If there ever there is a time the vinous cliché “So many wines, so little time” is true, it’s at a huge event like this!

Last year I focused on Rosé.  This year, I decided to do a deep dive on Grenache Noir ( as opposed to Grenache Blanc, which also seems to be gaining in popularity or Grenache Gris – a rare pinkish gray mutation of Grenache Noir)

Perhaps you …believe California wines can walk en pointe, evincing both power and delicacy.  At its best, Grenache here can do both with grace and charm. More than that: It can be a grape to reconcile those two often warring sets of taste. It rewards all who seek. It is a Rorschach test for flavor. - Jon Bonné

Why?  Well mostly because I dig Grenache.  It’s vinified in a variety of styles.  It can be almost a Pinot Noir-ish wine or a big fat juicy wine.  And in its lighter iterations, it’s a chillable red that is a versatile wine at the table – particularly in the Spring and Summer.

On to the wines I sniffed, sipped and  (mostly) spit!

Of the 33 Grenache I tasted, favorites I rated at least 90 points were:

  • 2011 Qupé Grenache Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard - Central Coast, Edna Valley - Brilliant dark ruby color with appealing cherry, strawberry and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s elegant and well structured with cherry, strawberry, and spice flavors. Long finish. 87% grenache and 13% Syrah $35
  • 2011 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Grenache The Barrel Climber - Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast;  Perfumed cherry, pomegranate, spice and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, concentrated, a with a supple texture with soft well-integrated tannins and cherry, pomegranate, and spice flavors. Long finish. 91% Grenache from Greywacke Vineyard, and 9% Syrah from Las Madras Vineyard. $40
  • 2010 Law Estate Wines Beguiling - Paso Robles; Ruby-violet color with raspberry, strawberry, spice and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, its between light and medium-bodied, and balanced with surprising acidity and raspberry, strawberry, spice and mineral flavors. Lengthy finish. 94% Grenache, 6% Syrah $65
  • 2010 Le Cuvier Winery Grenache, Single Vineyard (Barrel Sample)Paso Robles; Ruby red color with aromatic strawberry, red currant, and dark cherry aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied with wonderful acidity, and strawberry, red currant,  and brown spice flavors.  Long finish. – $50
  • 2011 Carica Grenache Eaglepoint Ranch - Mendocino County; Light red color with appealing cherry, red currant, and spice aromas. On the palate, it approaches medium bodied, and is well-balanced and persistent with cherry, cranberry, and spice flavor. Lingering finish. $30
  • 2011 McCay Cellars Grenache - Lodi; Ruby color with aromatic appealing spiced cherry, cranberry, and a bit of pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with medium acidity, and an appealing grip from soft tannins. It show cherry, cranberry, and spice flavors. Medium long finish. $32

Taster’s Choice

After tasting through the available Grenache, it was time for what I call “Taster’s Choice”.

Yup..it’s just what it sounds like.  I’m off “the clock”, and on to whatever I strikes my fancy. After all, this is gathering of the best Rhone wines America has to offerand I wasn’t about to leave without tasting some other wines too!  I didn’t have as much time as I’d like (time does truly fly when you’re having fun), but I was tasted another to 25 or so wines after my Grenache deep dive.  Favorites  from my post-Grenache walk about that I rated at least 90 points were:

  • 2011 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Blanc Reserve En Bonbonne - Central Coast, Arroyo Seco
    Slightly cloudy pale gold color with intriguing peach, apple, and lanolin aromas. On the palate, it’s fresh with ample weight and peach, tart apple, spice and mineral flavors. Lingering satisfying finish. Blend of co-fermented 62% Grenache Blanc, 38% Roussanne. $50
  • 2013 Campovida Viognier Estate Grown - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County - Pale golden-yellow color with appealing white peach, apricot, and honey aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, fresh, and persistent with focused peach, melon, apricot, and honey flavors. Lingering finish $36
  • 2011 Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas Blanc - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles - Light yellow color with penetrating honeysuckle, mineral, spiced hazelnut, pear aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, well structured and focused with a great mouth feel.  It shows pear, green apple, spice and mineral flavors. Long finish. Blend of 64% Roussanne, 26% Grenache Blanc, and 10% Picpoul Blanc. $40
  • 2012 Two Shepherds Pastoral Blanc Saralee’s Vineyard - Sonoma County, Russian River Valley - Pale yellow gold color with restrained peach, melon, and honeysuckle aromas. On the palate, it approaches medium-bodied, is well structured and fresh with an alluring creamy texture. It shows peach, apricot, spice and a hint of tropical flavors and a lingering finish.  Blend of 50% Roussanne, 35% Marsanne, 10% Viognier and 5% Grenache Blanc. $28

Rhone Rangers TCV

  • 2011 Ridge Carignane Triangle - USA, California, Sonoma County
    Dark ruby color with aromatic blackberry, black cherry raspberry, spice and a hint of roast meat aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and well structed with wonderful acidity. It shows focused mixed berry, black cherry, and spiced vanilla flavors. Lingering finish. $26
  • 2011 Kukkula Noir - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Dark ruby color with appealing black cherry, strawberry, black currant and white pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied, and fresh with dusty tannins. It shows black cherry, plum, black currant, with a bit of bittersweet chocolate flavors and a lingering finish. Blend of 86% Syrah 14% Counoise $45
  • 2011 L’Aventure Estate Cuvée - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Nearly opaque purple color with exuberant, layered cassis, spice, sandalwood, and spiced aromas. On the palate, it’s rich and concentrated with lush mixed dark berry, and spice flavors, sweet tannins and a subtle mineral undertone. Long finish. Blend of 48% Syrah, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Petit Verdot. $85
2014 Rhone Rangers - Best of Grenache

Chloe Asseo – Sales, Marketing and Communications Director for L’Aventure Winery

  • 2010 Big Basin Vineyards Grizzly - Santa Cruz Mountains
    Carmine color with expansive mixed berry, licorice, dried herb and pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and vibrant with dusty tannins and dark cherry, raspberry, plum, and spice flavors. Blend of 56% Grenache, 31% Syrah & 13% Mourvedre. $48
Rhone Rangers Big Basin

Bradley Brown – Big Basin Owner and Winemaker (far right) and the Big Basin Rhone Ranger team

Miscellaneous Musings

  • I was a bit surprised at the prices of some of the Grenache.  In fact, the average price for the wines I tasted was $33.50.  I wonder if demand for Grenache is on the rise, and how well  those $35-$45 and up bottles are selling?
  • Coincidence that my three favorite Grenache were not 100% Grenache, but had some Syrah in the blend?  I think not.
  • At last year’s Grand Tasting one was able to purchase wines on the spot.  It’s convenient to have that option, and I took advantage of it and purchased a couple of bottles I liked.  We were unable to do that this year.  I’m sure it’s a licensing issue. That’s an opportunity for improvement for an otherwise awesome event.
  • The event seemed less crowded than last year. While that certainly made for (mostly) shorter lines and higher quality interaction with winery folk, if true, that would be a shame because this is such a great event.
  • Note to self – Plan to go to the Winemaker Dinner next year!

Rhone Rangers Glass

All in all, what a great event!  And if you’re in L.A or Washington D.C., the Rhone Rangers will be riding into your town later this year!  

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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

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Wine of the Week: 2012 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2012 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc.

The Winery

Merry Edwards, one of California’s first female winemakers, began her career at Mount Eden Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974.  In 1997, she co-founded  Merry Edwards Winery, a business venture allowing her to produce from select Pinot Noir grapes in Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast, including, for the first time, her own vineyards: Meredith Estate, Coopersmith, Georganne, Sanchietti and Flax.

Last year, her 40th year as a winemaker, Merry is inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame.

The Wine

My wife and I have visited the winery a few times.  While Merry Edwards is  known mostly for her single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, we always pick up a bottle or two of her Sauvignon Blanc.  It’s a Sauvignon Blanc of unique character.

Here’s what Merry Edwards Winery says about it..The rich core of this flavorful wine is fruit sourced from vines 25-35 years old. That 54% is complemented by 20% Sauvignon Musqué, which adds floral aromatics and depth not present in other types of Sauvignon Blanc. The remainder is the classic Shenandoah selection…prevalent throughout California.

The wine is fermented in barrel, and undergoes bâttonage, or stirring of lees, which gives the wine it’s weight and texture.   

Wine of the Week: 2012 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc

2012 Merry Edwards Sauvignon Blanc

My tasting notes follow:

Pale green tinged straw color with peach, grapefruit, guava and a hint of wet stone aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied, well structured, and fresh with great texture. It exhibits peach, grapefruit, guava and a hint of honey flavors. Long finish. 13.7% alcohol – $30

Rating: A- :

Pair with: This is a Sauvignon Blanc with some “weight”.  I like to match it with something with similar weight or a special meal.  I enjoyed this bottle with Grilled Paiche.  Delightful!  Here’s a couple of suggestions from Merry Edwards that sound fantastic;  Crabmeat Mango Salad, and Honey Lime Baked Wild Salmon with Mango & Black Bean Salsa.

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 98-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 94-97/Outstanding
(A-) – 90-93/Excellent
(B+) – 86-89/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
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Martin Redmond is a Financial Executive by day, and a certified wine geek with latent foodie tendencies the rest of the time. In addition to the wine lifestyle and food he enjoys family, fitness and traveling. He likes to get thoughts of wine off his mind by sharing experiences on his ENOFYLZ Wine blog, which features wine reviews, wine country travel, and wine and food pairings.

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers!

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.