#WineWednesday Review-Geyser Peak Uncensored

Geyser Peak Winery was founded in 1880 as California’s 29th bonded winery by German immigrant Augustus Quitzow, one of Sonoma County’s pioneer winemakers.

Geyser Peak is located in Alexander Valley in Northern Sonoma County.  Although, they announced last month they will be moving to the former Alderbrook property in Healdsburg. The new Geyser Peak location will be near the intersection of Westside Road and Highway 101 – one of the busiest wine corridors in northern Sonoma County and within walking distance of bustling downtown Healdsburg.

Accolade Wine, which acquired Geyser Peak in 2012 is in the midst of revitalizing the brand, and making major investments in everything from winemaking and production to promotional and sales initiatives and more. The brand has debuted refreshed packaging graphics with a new logo and a number of new wines that showcase the winery’s exceptional vineyard resources.

They feature a diverse lineup of wines including California, Appellation, Winery and Reserve series of wines.

The Wines

The Uncensored wines are part of the Winery series, which feature unconventional blends of grape varieties – one white wine, and one red wine. 

However, even a winery steeped in tradition likes to push the limits of expression every now and again. With Geyser Peak’s new Uncensored Wines, winemaker Ondine
Chatten has done just that, exploring untraditional blends in the crafting of two easy-drinking, versatile wines,
each with distinctive personality.

The suggested retail price for both wines is $14, but you may be able to find them for $12 at Costco.  They present very good value for everyday wines!

Reviewed: Geyser Peak Uncensored

2012 Geyser Peak Uncensored White Blend
Proprietary blend of Viognier, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc
$14, 13% abv.
6,200 cases made

Pale green tinged golden color with appealing honeysuckle, pear, apple and a bit of citrus and sweet spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, medium-love acidity, and off-dry with mouth-filling pear, apple, guava, and spice flavors. Medium-finish.

RatingB+:  This wine is a charmer that eminently quaffable, but would also pair well with fresh fruit, salads, or fish tacos topped with fresh guacamole!

2011 Geyser Peak Uncensored Red Blend
Proprietary blend of Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Tannat, Alicante Bouschet, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
$16 ($12 at Costco), 13.5% abv.
26,000 cases made

Nearly opaque violet color with mocha, plum and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied low acidity and soft tannins with pronounced and very likable plum, blackberry, vanilla, and spice flavors. Medium-finish.

Rating: B+:  Interesting “kitchen sink” blend that offers very good value in an everyday type red wine.  It’s especially good for casual imbibing, but would also work with burgers, a plate of spaghetti or pizza.

Media sample(s) – Many thanks to Folsom & Associates for providing the wine.

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

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 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard

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 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard.

Winery

Phillips Hill Winery is a small boutique (~1,000 cases/yr) winery focused on producing Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer from cool climate vineyards located in Anderson Valley. Phillips Hill Winery is located on Greenwood Ridge above Anderson Valley, in the Mendocino Ridge appellation.  I was introduced to Phillips Hill when the winery was recommended to me while I was tasting at Toulouse Vineyards earlier this year.

Phillips Hill

Toby Hill, a native California is the Owner/Winemaker of Phillips Hill. He was formally trained in the Arts.  With a BFA from California College of the Arts, Toby attributes his artistic talent to the Phillips side of the family.  His intense study and mastery of composition in the abstract has been translated into the delicate balance of making wine. From immersion as a practicing artist in New York, followed by later experience as an Architectural Color and Plaster business owner in San Francisco. In 1997 he purchased some land in the Mendocino Ridge Appellation overlooking the Anderson Valley. He built a house and adjacent art studio and kicked back for a time.

He got his start in winemaking after a local winemaker decided not to begin a brand and offered him four barrels of an unfinished 2002 vintage from Oppenlander Vineyard in Comptche in Mendocino County. Ultimately that led him to his new passion and personal re-invention in wine country.

What started as an opportunity to express his work on a wine label became a new artistic obsession for an expression not only on the bottle, but in the bottle as well – a transformation from the art of the visual to that of the sensory.

Phillips Hill wines strive for “old meets new world” style with elegance, finesse, and lower alcohol levels.  The day I visited, only reds were available for tasting. They were sold out of their Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer.  I was very impressed by the wines I tried.

All the Phillips Hill Wine bottles labels features the artwork of Owner/Winemaker Toby Hill.

The Wine

The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Toulouse Vineyard. The wine was aged 11 months in French oak (33% new, 33% 1 year, 33% seasoned).  The wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered.

2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard

2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard

My tasting notes follow:

Ruby color with aromatic dark cherry, red plum, brown sugar, spice, damp earth aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied silky smooth and well-balanced with cherry, wild raspberry, and spice flavors. Long finish; 14.2% alcohol, 275 cases produced, $40 SRP

Rating: A-: This is an outstanding wine that is a great expression of the grape.  I wish I’d purchased more, and I can guaran-damn-tee you next time I’m in Anderson Valley I will!

Pair with: Lobster bisque, paella, or coq-au-vin come to mind!

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

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 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wines of Chile Smackdown – 8 Chilean Reds Blind Tasted!

The theme for the most recent gathering of the Pacific Point Wine Club (“PPWTC” was “Wines of Chile”.  The PPWTC is entering its third year, and going strong.  Initially we met every couple of months, but based on popular demand, we now meet every 6 weeks or so. It’s been so gratifying to see folks grow in their knowledge of wine while having fun, and making new friends.  We’ve even had  a few “field trips” , the most recent being a Bocce ball night.

So far this year we’ve focus on a geographic rather than varietal theme.  We’ve also changed how the wines for our blind-tasting were acquired.  Rather than folks bringing bottles, I’ve purchased all the bottles for the tasting. This advantage of doing it this way is that there is more consistent quality in the wines tasted, and there are no duplicates.

Wines of Chile Smackdown - 8 Chilean Reds Blind-Tasted

Chilean Wine Overview

Chile may seem like a relative newcomer to wine making, but they’ve been making wine for over 450 years!  Spanish conquistadors and missionaries brought European Vitis vinifera vines to Chile in the mid-16th century.  The vines were brought to Chile to produce wine for Catholic mass rituals.  The Spaniards found Chile to be ideal for planting grapes.  The climate allowed a perfect growing season and ripening of the fruit.  And just as important, there was no phylloxera (n the late 19th century (click here for more detailed history) Here’s more 411 on Chilean wine.

  • In 1830, Frenchman Claude Gay convinced the Chilean government to establish a state agricultural station to be called Quinta Normal Agriculture. Grape vines from Italy and France were imported to Chile.  By 1850 there were 40,000 vines, and 70 varieties of grapes.  And with the arrival of Bordeaux varieties, Chile enters the modern era of winemaking.
  • Chile has been hugely influenced by French winemaking especially Bordeaux. Prior to the outbreak of phylloxera in France, wealthy Chileans imported winemakers and vines from Bordeaux.
  • World War II marked the beginning of a decline in the Chilean wine industry  which lasted until the 1980s.
  • Chile has invested heavily said the 1980s and modernize its wine industry.  Chile has attracted many foreign collaborators and investors including Robert Mondavi of California (Caliterra), The Rothschilds of Bordeaux’s Château Lafite (Los Vacos) and Miguel Torres of Spain (Torres). These estates have either set up operations in Chile, or have formed partnerships with the best Chilean houses.
  • Chile has been the benchmark of South American quality wine although Argentina has been in the spotlight recently because of the popularity of Malbec
  • Chilean wines tend to be mostly focused on varietal wines rather than blends
  • Cabernet Sauvignon is the flagship, plus Chile produces Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc that offer great value.
  • Chile’s unique combination of geography and climate make it ideal for grape growing, including lots of organic and biodynamic vineyards.
  • Chile is the only large-scale producer of wine that has never had an outbreak of phylloxera- the deadly root louse that wiped out vineyards in Europe (most notably France).
  • In 1994 Carmenere, which was thought to be Merlot, was discovered in Chile. Carmenere, an ancient Bordeaux grape variety was thought to be extinct at the time.
  • In 2010 Chile was the first South American country to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. This will undoubtedly have a positive influence on the wine industry in Chile.
Map of Chilean Wine Regions

Map of Chilean Wine Regions

The five major controlled viticultural areas of Chile, know as Denomination of Origin (“D.O.”) are:

  • Aconcagua Valley- Northerly region primarily suited to red wine production.
  • Casablanca Valley- Casablanca is a relatively cool and largely coastal region producing classy Chardonnay and world-class Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Noir is also being experimented with in this region.
  • Maipó Valley- Part of the Central Valley, Maipó, just south of Santiago, is one of Chile’s best-known and longest established quality wine regions. Some of the biggest names of the Chilean industry such as the giant Concha y Toro and Santa Rita are here. Cabernet Sauvignon is the mainstay of the region and quality is high.
  • Rapel Valley – Part of the Central Valley, Rapel is the largest of the five wine areas. It features a range of climatic conditions and soil types and grape varieties.  You will see the name Colchagua valley on Rapel bottlings, a small high-quality sub-region towards the coast.  Well known producers from this region include Carmen, Mont Gras and Cono Sur.
  • Curicó and Maule Valleys - Part of the Central Valley, the Maule Valley is separated in the northern Curicó region, and the southerly Maule. Big names here include Miguel Torres (one of the first movers and investors to see the potential in Chilean wine), and San Pedro.

The Wine Tasting

Prior to the main tasting we always have a bite to eat, and catch up.  Since it was a Wines of Chile theme I picked up some other wines to try including a Riesling, Sauvignon Blancs, and a Rosé, which I tasted prior to grabbing a bite to eat, joining the fun. My tasting notes from those wines follow:

  • 2011 Meli Riesling - Chile, Maule Valley - Very pale straw yellow-green color with faint petrol, citrus, and stone fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and dry with crisp acidity. It shows lemon, lime, and stone fruit flavors. Medium finish. Nice value at $13 (86 pts.)
  • 2011 Carmen Sauvignon Blanc Gran Reserva - Chile, San Antonio Valley, Leyda Valley - Light yellow color with citrus, gooseberry and a slight grassy aroma. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and fresh with citrus and gooseberry flavors. Medium-long finish. (87 pts.) Sample provided for review
  • 2011 Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc La Gloria - Chile, Casablanca Valley - Very pale straw yellow-green color with grapefruit,and hints herbs and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, between dry and off-dry and is fresh and lively. It shows grapefruit, green apple, and a kiss spice flavors. Medium finish. Nice value at $10. (87 pts.)
  • 2011 Apaltagua Carménère - Chile, Central Valley - Pale pink color with aromatic red fruit, spice and orange blossom aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied, with crisp acidity and raspberry, red cherry, and spice flavors. Medium + finish. Nice value at $12 (87 pts.)

For the main event, we blind tasted eight red wines.  Six of the wines were purchased from K&L Wine Merchantswhich has a good selection of Chilean wines.  The two other wines were samples provided by Wines of Chile.  The wines ranges in price from $9.99 to $18.99. Wines from all five major controlled viticultural areas were tasted.

There were 16 tasters.  Wines are scored on a scale of 1-5 for aroma, body, taste, and finish.  Thus, the minimum score is 4 points and the maximum is 20 points.

Wines of Chile Smackdown Hidden

The eight wines blind-tasted (listed in the order tasted) and my Cellar Tracker tasting notes follow:

  • 2010 Calcu Cabernet Franc - Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
    Garnet color with red fruit and green pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied with medium-acidity with ripe cherry, red currant, plum and vanilla flavors. (87 pts.) Sample provided for review.
  • 2010 Laura Hartwig Carménère Reserva - Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
    Violet color with candied mixed black and red fruit, spice and green pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with dusty tannins and medium+ acidity with blackberry, cassis, plum and vanilla flavors. Medium-long finish (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Errazuriz Carménère Single Vineyard - Chile, Aconcagua Valley
    Inky violet color with cherry, cassis, eucalyptus, and cedarwood aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and smooth with medium acidity and sweet tannins. It shows concentrated cassis, cherry, bittersweet chocolate flavors . Medium-long finish. (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Montes Cabernet Sauvignon Classic Series - Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
    Dark garnet color with restrained cassis, green pepper, and a bit of earthy aromas. On the palate its’ medium-bodied with cassis, vanilla and a bit of mocha flavors Medium finish. A blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon with 15% Merlot (85 pts.)
  • 2010 La Playa Claret Block Selection Reserve - Chile, Rapel Valley, Colchagua Valley
    Violet color with brambly, mixed black and red fruit, and spice aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied with medium-acid and slightly tannic. It shows black cherry, raspberry, and cassis flavors. Blend of 41% Petit Verdot, 37% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Carmenere aged for 12 months in French and American oak. (86 pts.)
  • 2010 Viña von Siebenthal Parcela #7 - Chile, Aconcagua Valley, Panquehue
    Violet color with earthy, plum and black cherry aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and smooth with well-integrated tannins and medium+ acidity. It shows plum, cherry, cassis, and vanilla flavors. Medium long finish. The blend consists roughly of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Petit Verdot and 15% Cabernet Franc. (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Marqués de Casa Concha - Chile, Maipo Valley, Puente Alto
    Violet color with eucalyptus, red berry, green pepper and cedarwood aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, balanced with medium acidity and dusty tannins. It shows cherry, raspberry, cassis, and vanilla flavors. Medium long finish. (90 pts.)

 

The envelope please…

The winner was the 2009 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Marqués de Casa Concha!

Wines of Chile

The order of finish for the runners-up were as follows:

Wines of Chile Reveal

  1.  2009 Errazuriz Carménère Single Vineyard 
  2. 2010 Viña von Siebenthal Parcela #7 
  3. 2009 Vina Falernia Fundacion Carménère Syrah Reserva
  4. 2010 Laura Hartwig Carménère Reserva 
  5. 2011 Montes Cabernet Sauvignon Classic Series
  6. 2010 La Playa Claret Block Selection Reserve
  7. 2010 Calcu Cabernet Franc

f there’s one thing I’ve learned about blind tastings is there is always a surprise or two. The  surprise for me in this tasting was that the three most expensive wines finished in 1-2-3.  That was a first for the PPWTC. I had two other take-aways. The first was no surprise, the Chilean wines, across the board offer very good value.  The second was the distinct green pepper aromas of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.

Conclusion

Our Wines of Chile night was a great success with great food, fun, fellowship and of course wine!

I’ve not had much Chilean Wine, but based on this tasting, I’m going to look for it more often. The wines offer very good value.  And there were at least three wines that would be repeat purchases for me.  If you haven’t yet discovered the wines of Chile, I encourage you to give them a try!  If you have discovered the wines of Chile…leave me a comment and let me know our favorite(s)!

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 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

2013 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting- The Best of Rhone Rosés

I attended, as media guest, the 16th annual “Celebration of American Rhone Wines” in San Francisco, at Fort Mason Center last weekend.  Rhone Rangers is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the Rhone varietal wines produced in the U.S.

The two-day event featured a Winemaker Dinner on Friday catered by The Girl and The Fig. The dinner also featured the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Randall Grahm, the “Original Rhone Deranger”,and founder of Bonny Doon Vineyard.  On Saturday was the Grand Tasting and Seminars.  The Grand Tasting was a  great opportunity to taste about 500 of the best American Rhone wines from close to 100 Rhone Rangers member wineries (For a list of participating wineries-click here).

RR Fort Mason Shot

If there ever was a time the vinous cliché “So many wines, so little time” is true, it’s at a huge event like this. After my experience at last years Rhone Rangers SF Tasting, I wanted to narrow my focus a bit.  I decided to limit my tasting to Rosé!

I adore Rosé, and those made from Rhone grape varieties are my favorite! Besides it would give me a chance to get an early start on the first Rosé from the fabulous 2012 vintage.  When I looked at the mostly excellent event program, there were 30 wineries listed under “Rosé”.

Well the early start turned out to be a mixed bag. That’s because a few wineries who’d intended to have their Rosé ready, decided they weren’t ready for primetime.  Likewise,  a couple of my perennial favorite Rosé producers Bonny Doon, and Quivira, Rosé was not yet bottled ( one producer shared with me that they’d bottled their wine two days before the event, and another pour his Rosé from a sample bottle). I think the unofficial start of Rosé season is April.  Nonetheless I tasted some great wines and if the quality of the wines I tasted is any indication, 2012 should be a great season for Rosé!

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

2012-04-24-RoseWines

The many shades of Rosé…Photo Credit: goo.gl/iKJXT

My recommendations and complete tasting notes follow (in alphabetic order within each category):

Highly Recommend (90+ pts)

Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting: Best of the Rhone Rosés

Sebastian Donoso; Winemaker for Campovida

  • 2012 Campovida Grenache Trails End - California, North Coast, Mendocino County - Coral color with lifted red fruit, citrus, spice and rose petal aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, dry and fresh with cherry, raspberry, melon, citrus and spice flavors. Long finish (91 pts.) – $34
  • 2012 Curtis Heritage Rosé - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County - Light pink color with pretty cherry, sweet citrus, and hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and dry with medium acidity. It shows slightly tart raspberry, citrus, mineral and spice flavors. Medium plus finish. Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Cinsault (90 pts.) – $23
  • 2012 Lagier Meredith Syrah Rosé - California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
    Medium pink color with intriguing, aromatic red berry, violet, and spice aromas. On the palate, it between dry and off-dry, and medium-bodied with great acidity. It shows black cherry, black raspberry, and cantaloupe flavors. Long finish. Blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Mondeuse. (92 pts.) – $20
  • 2012 L’Aventure Estate Rosé - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Salmon color with aromatic raspberry, citrus, melon, and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, dry, and fresh with a great mouth feel. It shows raspberry, tangerine, melon flavors underscored with an appealing mineral undertone. Long finish. (92 pts.) – $25
margerum rose

Doug Margerum of Margerum Wine Company

  • 2012 Margerum Grenache Riviera - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County - Salmon pink color with appealing aromatic red berry, melon, and stone fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, fresh, and elegant with raspberry, strawberry, melon and spice flavors. Long finish. (91 pts.) – $18
  • 2012 Tablas Creek Dianthus - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Cranberry red color with tight red fruit, and dried rose aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and dry with wonderful acidity, and cherry, red plum, and spiced watermelon, and mineral flavors. Medium-long finish. Blend of 60% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache, 15% Counoise (90 pts.) – $27
  • 2012 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles - Pink color with enticing strawberry, stone-fruit,and spice aromas. On the palate, it medium-bodied, fresh and smooth with a great mouthfeel. It’s dry on entry, but closer to off-dry on the back palate with strawberry, watermelon, spice and mineral flavors. Medium + finish. Blend of 75% Grenache, 20% Mourvedre, 5% Counoise (90 pts.) – $20

Recommended (86-89pts)

  • 2012 Acquiesce Grenache Rosé - California, Central Valley, Lodi
    Light red color with ripe cherry, floral and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and off-dry with medium acidity. It shows ripe cherry, strawberry, and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. (88 pts.) - $18
  • 2012 Anaba Sonoma Valley - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley - Medium pink color with dark red fruit, spice and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s light-medium-bodied with Medium plus acidity. It shows tart cherry, red currant and spice flavors. Medium finish. Blend of 56% Grenache and 44% Syrah (87 pts.) - $22
  • 2011 Bella Grace - California, Sierra Foothills, Amador County
    Pink color with aromatic cherry, strawberry and a bit of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, off-dry and smooth with medium-acidity. It shows cherry, strawberry, spice and vanilla flavors. Medium-long finish. 60% Grenache, 40% Mourvedre (89 pts.) - $22
  • 2012 Broken Earth Diablo Rosado - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Medium pink color with aromatic cherry, raspberry, and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s between between dry and off-dry for me with medium acidity, and delightfully intense strawberry, cherry, and spice flavors. Medium finish. Blend of 80% Syrah and 20% that was co-fermented (89 pts.) - $18
  • 2011 Cline Cellars Mourvedre Rosé - California, San Francisco Bay, Contra Costa County - Deep pink color with cherry, and strawberry aromas. On the palate, it is medium-bodied, and dry with medium(-) acidity. It shows easy cherry, and strawberry flavors. Short medium finish. Nice value (86 pts.) - $12
  • 2012 David Girard Vineyards El Dorado - California, Sierra Foothills, El Dorado - Light pink color with spiced cherry and raspberry aromas. On the palate it’s light-bodied with medium(-) acidity. It shows strawberry, raspberry, mineral and a kiss of citrus flavors. Medium finish (86 pts.) – $22
  • 2012 Hagafen Rosé of Syrah Don Ernesto - California, Napa Valley
    Strawberry red color with earthy dark red fruits, and a hint of stone fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and dry with medium(-) acidity. It shows dark cherry and red current flavors. Medium finish (87 pts.) – $18
  • 2012 Halter Ranch Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedere Halter Ranch Vineyard – West Side - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles - Deep pink color with melon, red fruit and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and dry with wonderful acidity. It shows cherry, melon, mineral and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Picpoul (89 pts.) – $18
  • 2012 Holly’s Hill Grenache Rosé - California, Sierra Foothills, El Dorado County - Pink color with cherry, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and dry with medium acidity. It shows cherry, pomegranate, and spice flavors. Medium finish. (87 pts.) – $18
  • 2012 Meyer Family Syrah - California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands
    Pinkish red color with faint cherry, and raspberry fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s dry, medium-bodied with medium(-) acidity. It shows raspberry, tart cherry, and orange rind flavors. Medium+ finish (86 pts.) – $18
  • 2010 Paradise View Rosé Soleil - California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast - Pink color with strawberry, cherry, and melon aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied, dry, and fresh with cherry, cantalouple, and watermelon flavors. Medium finish. (88 pts.) – $24
  • 2012 Peterson Vin Gris Donna Bella Bradford Mountain Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley - Vibrant light red color with raspberry, cherry, and a kiss of melon aromas . On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied with raspberry, cherry, melon and spice flavors. Blend of Grenache, Syrah and Carignane (88 pts.) – $16
  • 2012 Peterson Rosé Bradford Mountain Vineyard - California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley - Salmon pink color with wild strawberry, cherry and a hint of citrus aromas. On the palate it’s light-medium bodied with strawberry, cherry, mineral flavors. Medium finish. Blend of Grenache, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. (88 pts.) – $21
  • 2012 Qupé Grenache Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Edna Valley - Light salmon pink color with strawberry, watermelon, mineral and a hint of stone fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s dry, fresh and medium-bodied with tart strawberry, cherry, watermelon and spice flavors. Medium+ finish. (88 pts.) – $22
  • 2012 Tercero Mourvedre Rosé - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County - Slightly cloudy darkish pink color with slightly earthy, dark fruit, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh and dry with an ample mouth feel. It shows vibrant black cherry, plum and spice flavors (unlabeled sample from bottle) Looking forward to the finished version! (89 pts.) - $18
  • 2012 Unti Vineyards Rosé - USA, California, Sonoma County, Dry Creek Valley
    Pretty salmon pink color with raspberry, citrus peel and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied, dry,fresh, and slightly tart with raspberry, watermelon, spice, and a kiss of citrus flavors. Long finish (89 pts.) – $22
  • 2010 Venteux Vineyards Mourvedre - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles - Light crimson color with earthy dark red fruit and anise aromas. On the palate, it between light and medium-bodied, dry with good acidity, and ripe strawberry, dark cherry, and spice flavors. Medium + finish. (88 pts.) – $28
  • 2012 Viña Robles Roseum Huerhuero - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles - Coral color with cherry, pomegranate, and a touch of brown sugar aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-full bodied with medium plus acidity, and a smooth mouth feel. It shows cherry, pomegrante and a kiss of spice aromas. Medium long finish. 100% Syrah (89 pts.) – $13
  • 2012 Zaca Mesa Z Gris - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
    Light pink color with raspberry, tangerine, watermelon, and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied, dry and fresh with raspberry, melon, tangerine, and a bit of mineral flavors. Medium finish. (87 pts.) – $16

Other

  • 2012 Clos Saron Tickled Pink - California, Sierra Foothills
    Salmon pink color with faint red fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and dry and tart with medium (-) acidity. It shows tart cherry. Short finish. Blend of 50% Syrah/50% Tempranillo (85 pts.) - $25
  • 2012 Pomar Junction Vineyard Syrah Rosé - California, Central Coast, Paso Robles - Pink color with cherry and mineral aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied with medium acidity cherry, pomegrante, and spice flavors. Medium finish (85 pts.)$18

Taster’s Choice

After tasting through the 28 Rosés from the wineries listed event program guide, it was time for “Taster’s Choice”…Yup..it’s just what it should 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 offer, and I wasn’t about to leave without tasting some white and red wines too!  I didn’t have as much time as I’d like, but the following wines stood out for me…

  • 2011 Two Shepherds Grenache Blanc Saarloos Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley - Pale golden color with aromatic stone-fruit, mineral, and spiced honey aromas. On the palate, it’s approaching medium-bodied, crisp and dry with white peach, pear, mineral and a bit of citrus flavors. Medium-long finish. (91 pts.) – $24
Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting: Best of the Rhone Rosés

2009 Tercero Watch Hill Grenache

  • 2010 Lagier Meredith Syrah - California, Napa Valley, Mt. Veeder
    Deep garnet color with lifted mixed black and blue fruits, pepper, and dried herb aromas. On the palate, it’s ample, fresh, well-balanced and elegant with blackberry, blueberry, and spice flavors. Long finish.(92 pts.) – $48
  • 2010 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles - Carmine color with black raspberry, plum, smoked meat, and pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s ample with an intense supple mouthfeel. It shows black raspberry, plum, and a kiss of bittersweet chocolate flavors. Long finish. Blend of 45% Mourvedre, 30% Grenache, 21% Syrah, 4% Counoise (92 pts.) – $55
  • 2009 Tercero Grenache Watch Hill Vineyard - California, Central Coast, Santa Barbara County - Garnet color with beautifully aromatic mixed berry, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium/full-bodied, fresh, focused with fruity, but not jammy, cherry, raspberry, strawberry, and spice flavors. Long finish. (91 pts.)

You can’t come to an event like this and not have some food (albeit in my case, after, a few hours of wine tasting).  I had a little snacky-snack from The Girl and The Fig which was downright delicious, and left me envious of those who had a chance to partake of the dinner they served on Friday.

Note to self: Must go to The Girl and The Fig next time I’m in Sonoma!

The pièce de résistance on my Rhone Rangers experience was a couple of scoops of ice cream served up Three Twins Ice Cream.  One was Dad’s Cardamom, the other was Sea Salted Caramel…Daaaaaum it was all that! 

My takeaways from the event?

  • The state of the American Rhone Rosé is strong – more great choices than ever!
  • The prices seem to be creeping up on Rosé.  Though I prefer not to spend more than $20 for a Rose, I have from time to time for something I felt was special. But Rosé mostly falls into the “weeknight” category for me all year round. The median price for the Rosé I tasted was a tad over $20.
  • It was great to be able to purchase wines on the spot from some producers. In fact I ended up buying a couple of bottles of the Margerum Rosé.
  • The event seemed less crowded than last year, a good thing in my book, but if attendance was down, that’s a shame…

All in all, what a great event!  It’s circled in red on my calendar for next year!

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TGIF Bubbly – Bouvet Signature Brut

My wife and I make it a point to drink sparkling wine on a weekly basis.  It’s typically Friday night…thus “T.G.I.F. Bubbly”  It’s a celebration of sort, to the end of the workweek.  She get’s to drink, and enjoy the bubbly, while I get to drink, enjoy and blog about it!  This week’s sparkling wine is the NV Bouvet Signature Brut

The Winery

Bouvet-Ladubay history dates back to 1851, when it was founded by Etienne Bouvet.  It is the second oldest sparkling wine–producing house in Saumur.  By 1890, it had become France’s largest producer of méthode traditionnelle wines. It remains one of France’s greatest producers of méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine using the Loire Valley’s indigenous Chenin Blanc blended with small amounts of Chardonnay.

For Bouvet-Ladubay, wine is a living art that must be practiced with wisdom, uniting tradition, experience and the most finely tuned technology in the creation of refined, handcrafted wines of impeccable quality and consistency.

After the untimely deaths of three of the Bouvet heirs in the early 1900s left Bouvet-Ladubay without a guiding hand, the increasingly troubled firm was purchased by Justin Monmousseau and merged with his own still wine–producing firm in 1933. It is currently run by the fourth generation of the Monmousseau family.  In July 2006, Bouvet was acquired by Dr. Vijay Mallya of the world’s largest group of alcoholic beverages, the UB Group, based in India.

The Wine

Bouvet-Ladubay sources its fruit from more than 100 plots in the Loire Valley.  It has  long-standing relationships with many winegrowers. The limestone subsoil of the Loire Valley is ideal for the cultivation of Chenin Blanc.  The mild climate coupled with excellent drainage of the clay creates the natural acidity needed to produce a balanced sparkling white wine. The grapes are pressed in the vineyards and the juice is delivered directly to their cellars. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel, then the finest wines from each lot are blended and the cuvée is bottled for the second fermentation.  The wine is aged for two years.  It is imported by Kobrand Wine & Spirits.

Bouvet Sparkling wine

My tasting notes follow:

Pale golden-yellow color with big bubbles and low-key yeast and green apple aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and straight forward with moderately creamy mousse and melon, green apple mineral flavors. Short finish – 85pts

Rating: B -  This is a good bottle of bubble, and a nice alternative to Champagne.  This bottle was gift.  It retails for $16 ($12 ClubBev) at BevMo. But I can think of a few bottles of bubbly I enjoy more for less…

Pair with: This one is an excellent aperitif.  Pair with fried snacks like seasoned popcorn, potato chips, or french fries. Also pair with golden king crab, shrimp and lobster dipped in drawn butter!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 12.5% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • Where it’s from: > FranceLoire Valley
  • Grape varieties: 80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Chardonnay
  • Production method: Traditional Method
  • Dosage: Brut
  • Retail: $12
  • Cases produced: Unknown
  • Drink: Now – 2014
  • >>Find this wine<<

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 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

 

Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail-Day 2

Last week I posted about our first day of wine tasting in Anderson Valley (“A.V”).  We stayed overnight at the Anderson Valley Inn, nice clean choice for budget minded travelers to Anderson Valley (heads up…no TV…but there is WiFi).  It’s centrally in Anderson Valley minutes away from Hendy Wood State Park with its majestic redwood trees.  It’s also across the street from Scharffenberger Cellars, and a stones throw away from  Libby’s Mexican Restaurant, the best Mexican restaurant I’ve  never been to (Everyone raves about it, but both times we’ve been to Anderson Valley, it’s been closed for the Winter. Note to self – next trip to A.V.go in Spring, Summer or Fall!

When we were on the road just in front of the A.V. Inn, we saw a “Rivers Bend” sign.  We were curious and decided to check it out. “Rivers Bend” turned out to be a retreat center. Along the way, I spied this gorgeous view of fog hovering above the valley floor…It’s a great example of the tremendous beauty of the Anderson Valley!

Side road fogAfter our little adventure, we decided to make the 10 minute drive to Booneville to get some breakfast at the Booneville General Store, a wonderful, if a bit pricey,  place for breakfast, lunch or picking up some picnic goodies…
boonville general store

About the time we’d finished breakfast, the wineries were opening. Time to get down to pleasure!

Our first stop of the day was Navarro Vineyards, a family-owned winery that has been growing grapes, making wine and producing non-alcoholic grape juices in the Anderson Valley since 1974.  Navarro has a diverse lineup of wonderful wines that are reasonably priced.

Navarro is where we were introduced to Boontling, a jargon ostensibly spoken only in Boonville. While we were tasting we were offered small samples of some great local cheeses from Pennyroyal Farm including:

  • Laychee (Boontling for milk) – a blend of goat’s and sheep’s milk
  • Boont Corners – an aged raw goat milk cheese
  • Bollie’s Mollies (Mollies is the Boontling word for female breasts) -  a dense, surface ripened lactic curd cheese with a light blue mold

All the cheeses were yummy, paired wonderfully with the wine we tried, and are available for sell in Navarro’s well stocked deli case!

navarro tasting room

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale yellow with grapefruit and melon aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh, and dry with grapefruit, and stonefruit flavors. 12.4% (87 pts.)
  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Gris - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale straw yellow color with stonefruit, and hint of honey aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied fresh, and lively with apricot, and citrus flavor. Medium finish. 13.7% abv (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Gewürztraminer - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale yellow color with aromatic lychee, citrus, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light/medium-bodied and dry with citrus, and spice flavors. Medium finish. 13.5% abv (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County - Pale yellow-green color with stone-fruit and tropical fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied and off-dry with peach, apricot, and mineral flavors. Blend of 42% Riesling, 33% Gewürztraminer, and 25% Pinot Gris. My favorite wine to enjoy with my Spicy Seafood Gumbo!12.4% (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Noir “Méthode à l’Ancienne” - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light ruby color with cherry, raspberry, earth and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium/full-bodied, balanced, and smooth with cherry, raspberry, mushroom, and baking spice flavors. Long finish. 14.1%(91 pts.)
  • 2010 Navarro Vineyards Pinot Noir- USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light ruby color with cherry, raspberry, plum and spice aromas. On palate, it’s light/medium-bodied, and balanced with tart cherry, raspberry, and spice flavors. 13.7%  Great value at $20! (89 pts.)
  • 2011 Navarro Vineyards Riesling Cluster Select Late Harvest - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light golden color with apricot, pear, honey and baking spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, sweet, and clean with apricot, pear, honey and cinnamon flavors. Long finish Great dessert wine!10.1 % (91 pts.)

Our next stop was Toulouse Vineyards, a “boutique” winery founded by Vern and Maxine Boltz. Vern is a retired Captain from the Oakland Fire Department.  The Boltz purchased a bucolic 160-acre site approximately one mile from the town of Philo.

In 1997 Vern cleared the land, prepared the site, planted 17 acres of Pinot Noir grapes, and named the vineyard Toulouse. By 2002, they were making wine.

They subsequently purchased an additional 160 acres adjoining the rolling hills of their property which now encompasses 320 acres. They recently opened a beautiful (relatively) new tasting room on the property.

We ended up going to Toulouse based on the recommendations of several local folks, who are usually a great resource for recommendations about wineries to visit in my experience.

toulouse wines

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Gris - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Very pale straw yellow color with citrus, apricot, and white peach aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh and balanced with apricot peach and citrus flavors. Medium-long finish (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Riesling Estate - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale yellow-green color with citrus, tropical fruit, stone fruit and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with stone fruit, spice, citrus and a hint of pineapple flavors. Medium-long finish (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Gewürztraminer - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale straw yellow-green color with honeysuckle, pear, citrus and spice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied and dry with stone fruits, citrus, pineapple and spice flavors. Long finish (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé of Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale pink color with strawberry and cantaloupe aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied with good acidity and strawberry flavors. Short/medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with cherry, baking spice and a hint of cacao aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with cherry, and spice flavors. Medium finish. (88 pts.)
  • 2008 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with cherry, cedarwood, and smoke aromas. On the palate, it’s medium/full-bodied with cherry, spice and earth flavors. Medium long finish (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with blueberry, cherry, spice and a hint of licorice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, smooth and well-balanced with cherry, blueberry, and cinnamon flavors. Medium/long finish. (90 pts.)
  • 2008 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir Lautrec - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with blueberry, cherry, smoke, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with blueberry cherry, and spice flavors. Medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2009 Toulouse Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Deep ruby color with cherry, caramel spice and blueberry aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and fruity with cherry, blueberry and spice flavors. Long finish (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Toulouse Vineyards Petite Sirah - USA, California, North Coast, Redwood Valley - Opaque magenta color with blackberry and tobacco aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied and well-balanced with blackberry, and blueberry flavors. Medium/long finish (88 pts.)

Next up was Phillips Hill (recommended by the Tasting Room attendant at Toulouse), a small (~1,000 cases/yr) winery specializing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay

  • Phillips Hill

Toby Hill is the Owner/Winemaker of Phillips Hill. He’s a formally trained artist who started the winery after a local winemaker decided not to begin a brand and offered him four barrels of an unfinished 2002 vintage from Oppenlander Vineyard in Comptche,

What started as an opportunity to express his work on a wine label became a new artistic obsession for an expression not only on the bottle, but in the bottle as well – a transformation from the art of the visual to that of the sensory.

They are definitely striving for more Old World style wines with elegance, finesse, and lower alcohol levels.  Only reds were available for tasting the day we visited, as they were sold out of their Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer.  Each bottle label features his artwork.

Phillips Hill Wine Bottles

Phillips Hill Wine Bottles featuring the artwork of Owner/Winemaker Toby Hill

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Boontling - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino
    Ruby color with earthy cherry, and blueberry aromas. On the palate, it’s light-medium bodied with blueberry, cherry, and spice flavors. Medium finish.13.8% (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Wiley Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light ruby color with cherry, earth and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and elegant with cherry, pomegranate, and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. 13.8% alcohol (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Toulouse Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light ruby color with fresh, mixed berry, cranberry and sandalwood aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, smooth, and balanced with cherry, blueberry, and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. 14.2% alcohol (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Phillips Hill Pinot Noir Oppenlander Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County - Light ruby color with cherry, cranberry and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and elegant with fresh cherry, and blueberry flavors. Medium-long finish. Young. 13.9% (91 pts.)

Our next stop was Goldeneye Winery.  Goldeneye was established after Duckhorn Wine Company (Yes – the same company that produces of one of Cali’s most iconic Merlots) purchased the former Obester Winery in 1997.  They proceeded to plant 57 acres of Pinot Noir (the Confluence Vineyard),and have since added additional Anderson Valley vineyards such that they now own 220 acres of estate vineyards. They source  fruit from both estate and non-estate vineyards.

goldeneye sign

What sets Goldeneye aside from most wineries is the sheer beauty of the place, and the sit down tasting “experience” they offer. The tasting room had been remodeled since our last visit a few years ago.  They have one of the most beautiful vineyard views I’ve ever seen (the pic below doesn’t do it justice). I think of it as their back yard.  Can you just imagine sitting out there enjoying a picnic or just relaxing with a glass of their wines?  Heaven!

goldeneye patio view

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Gris Anderson Valley Split Rail Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Very pale golden green color with apple, and melon aromas. On the palate , it’s medium-bodied, and smooth with vibrant acidity and apple and peach/melon flavors. Medium finish 14.1% alcohol (88 pts.)
  • 2010 Migration (Duckhorn Vineyards) Chardonnay Dierberg Vineyard - USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley - Medium gold color with apple, pineapple, and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-full bodied, smooth, and creamy with very good acidity, and apple, and pineapple flavors. Long finish. Aged in 100% French Oak for 10 months. (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir Gowan Creek Vineyard – Lower Bench - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with earthy black cherry, raspberry, and lanolin aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied, creamy and well-balanced with black cherry, raspberry, and blueberry flavors. Long finish. 14.5% alcohol. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir The Narrows Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with fresh earthy, strawberry, and blueberry aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, smooth, and well-balanced with cherry, raspberry, and savory flavors. Medium-long finish. 14.5% alcohol. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak barrels (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir Gowan Creek Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Dark ruby color with wild cherry, plum and Asian spice aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied, lush with plum, cherry, and spice flavors. Long finish. 14.5% alcohol . Aged 16 months in French oak. (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Duckhorn Vineyards Pinot Noir Migration Bien Nacido - USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Maria Valley - Garnet color with black cherry,strawberry, and a hint of cassis aromas. On the palate, it medium-bodied, young but smooth with black cherry, strawberry, and spice flavors. Medium finish. Aged 10 months in 100% French oak. (89 pts.)
  • 2009 Goldeneye (Duckhorn Vineyards) Pinot Noir Anderson Valley - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Dark ruby color with cherry, plum and baking spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and smooth with a dark cherry, blueberry, and spice flavors. Smooth well-integrated tannins. Medium+ finish. 14.5% alcohol.  Aged 16 months in french oak (91 pts.)

Our last stop of the day was Zina Hyde Cunnignham Winery, located a few doors away from the Boonville General Store.

There was a great selection of wines, but after tasting nearly 30 wines already, and with a long drive in front of us we opted to only try three.

Zina Hyde Cunningham has a long history in Mendocino County.  It started in Mendocino County in 1865 when Zina Hyde Cunningham brought his vision of producing the very best wines from his winery and vineyards.  Today, Zina Hyde Cunningham is owned by Steve Ledson of Ledson Winery and Vineyards in Sonoma zina hyde cunningham tasting room sign

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Zina Hyde Cunningham - USA, California, North Coast - Strawberry red color with strawberry, peach and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, between dry and off-dry and fresh with strawberry, peach and spice flavors. Medium finish (87 pts.)
  • 2008 Zina Hyde Cunningham Carignane - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County - Dark garnet color with black cherry, cocoa, and tobacco smoke aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied with cherry, and ripe strawberry flavors. Long finish. (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Zina Hyde Cunningham Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby red color with brown sugar, cranberry, and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and balanced, and silky smooth with raspberry, cranberry, vanilla and baking spice flavors. Medium/long finish. (90 pts.)

Whew! After a full day of the 4 S’s (Sniffing, Swirling, Sipping and Sipping) we had our fill of Anderson Valley.

My winery of the day…Goldeneye! But all the wineries we visited offered very good to excellent wines, and we walked away with wines from all the wineries we visited.

Anderson Valley is a great wine tasting destination that deserves your attention.  I highly recommend.  Until we meet again in the not too distant future!

Have you visited Anderson Valley?  What wineries would you recommend for our next visit?

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Wine Tasting Along the Anderson Valley Wine Trail – Day 1

My wife and I took and overnight to trip to Anderson Valley last month.  It’s been several years since we’d been, but our last trip there was a real pleasure and we’ve been looking forward to returning.  

“The Anderson Valley is located in the rolling hills of the coastal region of Mendocino County…Known for our world class Pinot Noir and Alsace Varietals, we offer a great wine tasting destination.” 

There are more wineries now, but Anderson Valley, which is located in Mendocino County, is still one of the most beautiful areas to go wine tasting.  Outdoor beauty abounds with rolling hills, flourishing forests, and stunningly beautiful coastline nearby.  Anderson Valley is overlooked as a wine travel destination, and that’s a shame in my book.

There are 24 wineries in the Anderson Valley, including 2 sparkling wine houses. You’ll pass through three appellations as your travel through the valley.  Traveling west on Hwy 128 you will enter the “Yorkville Highlands”.  As you cross into Mendocino County, continuing north you enter the “Anderson Valley” appellation. The “Mendocino Ridge” appellation is on the ridge tops along both sides of highway 128 further north.

Our first stop was in Yorkville Highlands at Yorkville CellarsThe only known winery where all 8 of the Bordeaux varietals are estate grown and then offered as separate varietal wines. Yorkville recently celebrated 26 years of certified organic farming. 

Yorkville Cellars

Their white wines come from their Randall Hill Vineyard behind the tasting room. The reds from the Rennie Vineyard in front (pictured below)

Yorkville cellar view

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Yorkville Cellars Sauvignon Blanc Randle Hill Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Very pale straw color with grapefruit, citrus and apple aromas. On the palate, it light-medium bodied, fresh and smooth with grapefruit, citrus and green apple flavors. Medium-finish. Barrel fermented and aged 13.5% abv (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Yorkville Cellars Sémillon Randle Hill Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Pale golden yellow color with honeyed citrus and stone fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s dry, and fresh with citrus, pear and sweet yeast flavors. 13.5% Organic grapes (87 pts.)
  • 2010 Yorkville Cellars Eleanor of Acquitane Randle Hill Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Pale straw yellow color with honeyed grapefruit and citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and smooth with grapefruit, lime and mineral flavors. Medium-long finish. Blend of 60% Semillon and 40% Sauvignon Blanc. 100% barrel fermented in small French oak barrels. Organic grapes. 13.5% abv (90 pts.)
  • 2009 Yorkville Cellars Malbec Rennie Vineyard Yorkville Highlands - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Garnet color with dark cherry, cassis and pomegranate aromas. On the palate, its medium bodied and balanced with cherry, raspberry, and a bit of blueberry flavors. Medium finish. Organic grapes. 13.0% abv(88 pts.)
  • 2009 Yorkville Cellars Petit Verdot Rennie Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Carmine color with earthy red fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and slightly tannic with cherry, plum and spice flavors. Medium finish. Organic grapes. 13.5% abv (88 pts.)
  • 2009 Yorkville Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Rennie Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Deep garnet color with cherry, herb and a hint of chocolate aromas. On the palate, it’s a lighter style Cab that’s well-balanced cherry, chocolate and a bit of spice flavors. Medium finish. 13.5% Organic grapes(89 pts.)
  • 2009 Yorkville Cellars Richard the Lion-Heart Rennie Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Deep garnet color with raspberry, tobacco, cherry, and cedarwood aromas. On the palate, it’s balanced with good acidity and cherry, barrel spice flavors. Long finish. 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 10% Carmenere, 5% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot. 13.5% Organic grapes (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Yorkville Cellars Malbec Sweet Malbec Rennie Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Yorkville Highlands - Unique wine. Fire engine red color with fruity cherry, strawberry and plum aromas. On the palate, surprisingly not overly sweet – more off-dry, and a bit frizzante with fresh ripe strawberry and cherry flavors. Very nice chilled. 10.5% Paired very nicely with an almond cookie (88 pts.)

Yorkville was a great first stop.  I really enjoyed their wines, and the variety they offer.  Plus the wines offer very good value.  They had the most surprising wine of the day – the Sweet Malbec.  It left me delightfully surprised because it wasn’t cloying sweet like so many dessert wines.  We picked up a bottle of their newly released Sparkling Malbec.  Look for my review soon!  They also provided us with a helpful “Highway 128 Tasting Room Suggestions” summary. Not only did it recap the what wines to look for, and tasting room hours, most importantly it noted the Mile Marker for the wineries.   That’s important to know in Anderson Valley, otherwise it’s easy to blow by a winery!

Our next stop was Breggo Cellars.  I was introduced to Breggo in a round about way.  We were doing some tasting in Napa a couple of years ago at Cliff Lede Vineyards.  While we were tasting through their wines (fabulous Cabs!), we were offered a taste of Breggo Cellars Syrah – It was fantastic!

It turned out the Cliff Lede owns Breggo Cellars. After much success with Bordeaux varietals at his eponymous winery, he became interested in Pinot Noir and Alsatian varieties.  He established Breggo Cellars to pursue his interest.

Breggo

The Breggo tasting room is beautifully rustic, though a bit on the small side given how fabulous the wines are.  We were there on a relatively slow day and the tasting room was full. I bet things get cozy during high season!  I bet that when the tasting spill outside onto their beautiful patio (pictured below)

breggo view

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Riesling Anderson Valley - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Medium golden-yellow color with aromatic, peach, pear, mineral and honey aromas. On the palate, it medium-bodied with vibrant acidity, and dryish with peach, citrus, and mineral flavors. Long finish. 12.8% abv. (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Gewürztraminer Ferrington Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light pale yellow color with intensely aromatic exotic aromas of lychee, stone fruits, lemon peel, and spices. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with stone-fruit, citrus, and spice flavors. Surprisingly vibrant acidity. Long finish. 13.2% abv. (91 pts.)
  • 2011 Breggo Cellars Pinot Gris - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley  Pale lemon-green color with peach, mineral and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and smooth with great acidity. It shows flavors of peach, apricot, and citrus with a medium-long finish. 14.2% Interesting fermentation process. According to Breggo…”A blend of lots fermented in a 200 gallon concrete egg, 900 gallon French oval, small neutral French oak barrels and stainless steel tank. No malolactic fermentation was permitted.“ (89 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Chardonnay Savoy Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley  Light lemon-gold color with creamy lemon, pear, and buttered honey aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, with a great mouthfeel, and balance. It shows pear, citrus, and honey flavors. Medium-long finish. 14.2 % abv.   According to Breggo…”Aged 18 months sur lie in 60 gallon French oak barrels – 53% new (91 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Pinot Noir - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley
    Ruby color with earth, cherry, and pomegranate aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, supple, and well-balanced with cherry, plum, spice and a hint of brown sugar flavors. Long finish. 14.1 % Aged thirteen months in 60 gallon French oak barrels – 48% new (90 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Pinot Noir Donnelly Creek - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Ruby color with cherry, and lavender aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and plush with black cherry, cranberry, and plum flavors. Long finish. 14.3 % (92 pts.)
  • 2010 Breggo Cellars Pinot Noir Ferrington Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Medium garnet color with aromatic cherry, dried herb, and a hint of mint aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and silky smooth with round cherry, plum, and baking spice flavors. Long finish.  (93 pts.)
  • 2009 Breggo Cellars Syrah Alder Springs - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Garnet color with complex earthy, fig, cherry liqueur, and anise aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with well-integrated tannins and blueberry, plum, cacao, and spice flavors. Long finish. (91 pts.)
  • 2009 Breggo Cellars Zinfandel Dupratt Vineyard - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Dark garnet color with exotic blackberry, dark chocolate, and spice aromas. On the palate, it medium-full-bodied with surprisingly good acidity. It shows flavors of blackberry, raspberry, plum, and spice flavors. Long finish. 15.8% abv, but drinks more like 14-14.5% (90 pts.)

Breggo should be at the top of your list when you plan a trip to Anderson Valley in my book!

Our final stop of the day was Roederer Estate, one of two sparkling wine houses in Anderson Valley (the other being Scharffenberger – also owned by Roederer).  We love sparkling wine, so we always leap at the opportunity to do some tasting of bubbly!

Roederer Estate It was our first time at Roederer.  It is an absolutely beautiful estate with an equally beautiful tasting room!  It’s a must stop if you enjoy bubbly!

gigi roederer

My tasting notes follow:

  • N.V. Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light golden straw color with plentiful, persistent stream of tiny bubbles, and sweet yeast, fresh cut green apples aromas. On the palate, medium-bodied with soft texture, zippy acidity, between dry and off-dry with sweet green apples, a bit of pear, hazelnut and vanilla flavors and a shortish finish. 60% Chardonnay/40% Pinot Noir (89 pts.)
  • 2003 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale straw yellow color with bread crust, baked apple, and hazelnut aromas. On the palate, it shows a delicate mousse with baked apple , hazelnut, and hints of burnt sugar and mineral flavors. Long finish. 12.1% alcohol.  Blend of  52% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir, 4% aged reserve wine (vintage ’99)” (92 pts.)
  • 2002 Roederer Estate L’Ermitage Brut - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Pale straw yellow color with buttered toast, apple, hazelnut, and a bit of citrus aromas. On the palate, it has a delicate creamy mousse with baked apple, hazelnut, citrus, and mineral flavors. Medium+ finish. Tasted from 1.5L bottle (91 pts.)
  • N.V. Roederer Estate Brut Rosé Anderson Valley - USA, California, North Coast, Anderson Valley - Light salmon color with brioche, red fruit aromas. On the palate it’s medium bodied with a creamy mousse, and strawberry, raspberry, and apple flavors. Medium finish. (89 pts.)

As is often the case when one goes tasting at sparkling wine houses, there are also still wines to be tasted.  And that’s the case at Roederer.

All in all we had a magnificent first day of wine tasting (and eating) in the Anderson Valley! My winery of the day?Breggo Cellars!

The last time we visited  a few years ago was also during Winter.  After this time we told ourselves we have to go back in the Spring or Summer when the weather is warmer!

Look for my Day 2 recap of our Anderson Valley wine tasting adventure next week!

 

Grenache Smackdown…10 Wines; 1 Winner!

I didn’t realize it at the time, but we reached a minor milestone for the Pacific Pointe Wine Tasting Club (“PPWTC“) with meeting last week for Grenache Night.  It was our 10th meeting!

We blind tasted a group of 10 Grenaches.  We actually had 15 bottles of wine, but for the first time, we had more than one duplicate bottle.  There were 5 bottles of Sarah’s Vineyard Grenache.  From what I could gather – widely available at BevMo;-) Of the ten wines we tasted ,seven were from Spain.  The majority of Spanish Garnacha (Grenache) were from the Calatayud region in Aragón, where many believe the grape originated.  The balance were from California, all from the Central Coast.   There was a large group of 25 tasters who scored all the wines.

What I especially appreciate about our wine-tasting club is the diversity of experience.  There is a handful of what I would consider “serious” wine lovers, but the majority of the club members, core and otherwise, are more “casual” wine drinkers who like wine and I suspect drink it occasionally rather than daily.  But they want to learn more, and have a good time doing it! And that friends, is the beauty of our wine-tasting club!

The 10 wines we tasted were:

NV Don Quixote Almansa capitulo 8 (Spain-La Mancha)

NV Altovinum Calatayud Evodia (Spain-Calatayud)

2007 Bodegas San Alejandro Garnacha Catalayud Las Rocas Viñas Viejas (Spain-Calatayud)

2008 Artazuri Garnacha Navarra (Spain-Navarra )

2008 JC Cellars Ventana Grenache (California – Central Coast)

2008 Query Grenache (California – Central Coast)

2009 Bitch (Spain-Calatayud)

2009 Castillo de Monseran Garnacha Cariñena (Spain-Cariñena)

2009 Sarah’s Vineyard Grenache (California-Central Coast)

2009 Trader Joe’s Catalayud Old Vine Reserve Garnacha (Spain-Calatayud)

We  kicked off the evening with a Grenache Blanc, the white counterpart to the Grenache Noir (a.k.a. Garnacha/Grenache), the wine of the night.  Sparkling wines and whites are a great way to prepare the palate for tasting reds.

2009 Tablas Creek Grenache Blanc

Before we embarked upon the wine tasting we usually have a bite to eat -pot luck style.  We ask that folks bring dishes that will pair well with the wine being tasted, and provide them with a list of suggestions. We had some very nice dishes that paired well with Grenache including various BBQ (see pics below) and Grilled Pork, Beef Chow Fun, Chicken Pineapple Meatballs, and  Lentil Salad.

After that we got down to the business of tasting the wines.  And (drumroll please)…..and the winner, with an average score of 90pts was:

2008 JC Cellars Grenache Ventana

I find it interesting that, that’s the same score given to the JC Cellars Grenache Ventana by the iconic Robert Parker!  The JC Cellars Grenache retails for $35. For the first time in our short history, the most expensive wine was the winner!  There were two value wines that were hot of the heels of the winner with an average score of 89pts that I must mention.  In second place was the NV Altovinum Calatayud Evodia available at Whole Foods for about $8, and in third place was the 2009 Trader Joe’s Catalayud Old Vine Reserve Garnacha available for $10 at TJ’s. Either would be an inexpensive way to give Grenache a try!

ENOFYLZ 1st Anniversary…A Glance Back And A Look Forward!

It’s hard for me to believe, but a year ago today, I posted my first “ENOFYLZ” blog!  When I first started decided to do this after returning from a family reunion last year, I had two hopes.  The first is that several family members would get the blog off to a good start, subscription wise. The second is that I’d blog maybe once a week or so.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned during this year, it’s that you never know.  Blogs I thought might get a lot of hits didn’t and vice-versa.  As for those two initial hopes?  Only one family member is a subscriber, and this is my 88th blog post.  As I said…you never know….

It’s been an up and down year.  The blog got off to a very slow start.  Then in February of this year, in relative terms, the blog took off with triple the number hits in February as it had in any other month up to then.  In fact, the blog has almost as many hits in February as it did the first 6 months!  It’s mostly been a steady (albeit slow) increase since then.

View of the SF Bay from Fort Mason

Highlights

  • Most popular single day post: Q&A with Richard Jennings, The Man Who Tasted 5000 Wines Last Year
  • The weekly “T.G.I.F…Champagne and the like” series has seen steady hits (and in the process has turned me into a total bubbles slut;-)
  • And here’s a cool factoid (well at least IMHO), if you Google “Sunday Italian Gravy Wine Pairing”, my blog entitled Sunday Italian Gravy – Wine Pairing Smackdown is #1 on the search results! Woot woot!
  • I’m positively delighted and grateful to receive some recognition from my fellow wine bloggers – Richard Jennings of RJonWine.com, My Wine Tasting Hero, in this post, and Christopher Walker of 4488: A Ridge Blog from Ridge Vineyards (one of my favorite wineries) blog in this post. Thank you Gentlemen!  Both blogs are finalists for the 2010 Wine Blog Awards (and you’ll find links to their blogs in my blogroll).  I highly recommend both!

Opportunities for Improvement

  • I’ve received few comments on my posts, outside of my fellow wine bloggers, so I haven’t had as much the dialogue with readers (especially subscribers) as I’d like.
  • My blogs are seldom shared via FB, or Twitter.

What’s next?

  • I’m planning to give the blog a facelift in the next couple of months.
  • I’m planning to add a “No Reservations Wine Tasting” series profiling remarkable wineries.
  • I’m planning to change my “linking” strategy – less links to resource materials (which I’ve found are seldom clicked), and more links to other great wine blogs that have germane content.
  • I’m planning to use more photos and videos where appropriate. After all, “a picture is worth a thousand words”!

I’ve learned so much while doing research for topics about which I’ve blogged. I hope you’ve learned a thing, or two also!  I’m still learning about wine, and wine blogging, and it’s been a blast!  I write this blog because I’m passionate about all things wine.  I’m hoping that comes through in my blogs, and as long as I continue to do this blog, I’ll continually strive to improve it.  Finally, I hope you’ll feel free to leave comments/feedback.

I want to give a special “Thank You” to two people, my wife who has unwavering supported me in this endeavor despite the fact that I sometimes get carried away, and Diane Gallo – my first subscriber (other than my wife;-)!

In Vino Veritas!

My Wine Tasting Hero…

March 2006 tasting panel convened to determine...

Image via Wikipedia

While getting a bit of exercise this morning, I was catching up on some of the wine blogs I enjoy reading when I came across this post by Richard Jennings of “RJ on Wine.com”, wherein he summarizes his tasting notes of 128 from 30 producers at the annual Rhone Rangers tasting in San Francisco a couple of weekends ago. “RJ” is the most prolific wine taster I’ve come across!  The man is a wine tasting machine!  And what’s more amazing to me, is that he does this while maintaining his “day job” being an HR executive!

I first came across RJ via Cellar Tracker, where according to his blog he holds “the record for most tasting notes (currently over 21,000 and counting)”!   Likewise, I use Cellar Tracker to track and review wines.  He first came to my attention because as I would post my tasting notes, I would see his name pop up more than a few times because he’d reviewed the same wine.  At the time, I was less confident in my ability to taste and write reviews of wine.  Yet, I noticed that his scores and mine were comparable most of the time.  That gave me some confidence in my ability to taste and review wines.  That was well over a year ago. Since then I’ve made a few attempts to quickly summarize my tasting notes when tasting wines at various wine events.  It’s very challenging work. And I do mean work!  It requires much more discipline and organization than the uninitiated might think.

Nowadays, I find myself a bit conflicted between putting in the work necessary to capture meaningful tasting notes on more than a handful or so of wines, and simply enjoying an event.  For the time being, I suppose I’ve settled on a compromise, which is to blog about the most memorable wines.  The compromise comes in part because my wife and I attend wine events together, and it would be virtually impossible to both enjoy our time together at the event and put in work. But part of the compromise is also because I simply haven’t acquired all the skills necessary to taste, summarize and recount, as I said, more than 5-10 wines at this point.  It’s a work in process, and I’ll get better at it.  But I’ll never be an RJ!  And that’s OK.

There is a link to “RJ on Wine.com” on my blogroll.  Check it out sometime.

In Vino Veritas!