The Best of North Coast Rhone Wines

I attended the North Coast (California) Chapter of the  Rhone Rangers (“NCRR”) tasting last month.  The tasting was held in Oakland, at Campovida’s Taste of Place Oakland.

With the Rhone Rangers riding into the Bay Area next week, April 5-6 for the 17th Annual Rhone Rangers San Francisco Bay Area Weekend Celebration of American RhonesI thought I’d share some of my favorites from the NCRR tasting.

The NCRR, a regional chapter of the Rhone Rangers, is dedicated to the education and promotion of Rhone varietals and Rhone blends to local trade, media, and consumers, and of the wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Lake & Mendocino counties as a top California region in the production of outstanding Rhone varietal grapes and wines. In other words…sure Paso’s got the big rep for Rhone, but we get our Rhone on here in Nor Cal too! 

NorthCoast2

Source: www.rhonerangers.org (click to enlarge)

The NCRR puts on smaller, more focused events which provide the opportunity for more engagement with the wineries (more often than not it’s the owner/winemaker behind the tables pouring).  Most of the NCRR member wineries are are small, family run operations, making very small lot of wine.

I loved the smaller scale and more intimate feel of this event, which was also well organized.  And the price was definitely right at $20 ( I attended as a media guest).  And what’s a wine event without some food?  There was also delicious paella from Nora – Paella and Spanish Catering available for sale!

NCRR Paella

There were 12 wineries pouring at the event.  Half the wineries were from East Bay and are part of the East Bay Vintners Alliance, a guest sponsor of the event.  All attendees received a clipboard with up-to-date, detailed information about the wines being poured, which was quite helpful.  I tasted 45 wines.

My favorite wines (rated 90 points, or higher) from the tasting were:

  •  2006 Arrowood Syrah Saralee’s Vineyard
The Best of North Coast Rhone Rangers

Arrowood Wines

  • 2011 Carica Wines Grenache, Eaglepoint Ranch
  • 2012 Campovida Roussanne Bonofiglio Vineyards
  • 2012 Campovida Campo di Blanca Riserva
  • 2009 Cornerstone Cellars Syrah Stepping Stone
  • 2011 Cornerstone Cellars Syrah Stepping Stone
  • 2011 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Grenache The Barrel Climber
  • 2010 JC Cellars Syrah Rockpile Vineyard
  • 2009 Stage Left Cellars Petite Sirah
  • 2010 Stage Left Cellars The ExPat
  • 2011 Stark Viognier Damiano Vineyard

Christian and Jen Stark

  • 2012 Two Shepherds Grenache Blanc Saarloos Vineyard
  • 2012 Two Shepherds Pastoral Blanc Saralee’s Vineyard
  • 2011 Two Shepherds Pastoral Rouge
  • 2011 Two Shepherds Syrah | Mourvedre
  • 2010 Urban Legend Grenache
photo 1 (11)

Two Shepherds “All-Stars” line-up

Part of what I really enjoy about events like this is that I get to try new to me producers.  Such was the case with Arrowood Vineyards and Winery, Eric Kent Cellars, and Stark Wine Co.  I also discovered that Urban Legend, a winery that I know for their fine Italian grape varietal wines like Barbera, and Teroldego has expanded their repertoire to include Rhone grape varieties. A very pleasant surprise indeed!

Urban Legend Owner/ Winemaker – Steve Shaffer

All attendees were asked to vote for their favorite wines of the day.  My favorite red was the 2011 Two Shepherds Pastoral Rouge. My favorite white was the 2012 Campovida Campo di Blanca – a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier.

Be sure to check out the Rhone Rangers 17th Annual Rhone Rangers celebration next weekend.  It’s a great chance to tasted over 400 wines (Glad I had a wee bit of a head start at the NCRR tasting!) from more than 100 wineries, including Viognier, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, White Blends, Rosés, Syrah, Grenache, Red Blends and some Petite Sirah too!  The Grand Tasting will be at a new location, the world-class Craneway Pavillion, Fort Point Richmond.

Hope to see you at the big Rhone Rangers event next week!

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.

Italian Reds Smackdown – 9 Italian Red Wines Blind Tasted

I can hardly believe it, but our community wine tasting club – The Pacific Pointe Wine Tasting Club (“PPWTC”) is entering its fifth year, and going stronger than ever. Our most recent gathering had an Italian theme.  Since we’ve previously tasted Chianti, and Barbera those were not options.  But with over 500 different Italian grape varieties, including at least 10 major grape varieties, there were still plenty of options. We settled any Italian Reds, and folks were encouraged think beyond Sangiovese!

Our tastings alway start with a “Happy Hour” where we get a chance to catch up with each other, and grab a bite to eat (we do a themed potluck).  Since we had an Italian theme, there was plenty of Italian food (click to enlarge)

Here’s how our blind-tasting went down:

  • Italian red priced between $15-$25
  • Maximum of 9 bottles tasted
  • There were 19 tasters, with a diverse range of experience with wine
  • Tasters are required to score all wines
  • Both average and median scores are calculated.  The winner determined by highest median score.  Average score used as tie breaker.

photo 1 (10)

We had a nice selection of wines that showcased some of the diversity of Italian wines. Geographically speaking, Tuscany was the most well represented, but there were also wines representing Veneto, Piedmont, Sicily, and Campania.  From a grape variety standpoint, Sangiovese was the most well represented, but we also had wines made from Aglianico, Corvino, Corvino blends, Nero d’Avola, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah.

The wines tasted were:

  • 2010 Poderi Foglia Aglianico Gallucio Concarosso (Aglianico) – $20
  • 2010 Montechiara Amarone della Valpolicella (Corvino Blend) – $25
  • 2011 Luisi Barbera d’Asti (Barbera) – ($17)
  • 2007 Rubbia al Colle Toscana IGT (61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 9% Syrah) – ($13)
  • 2012 Rocche di Cusa Cabernet Sauvignon (Cab + Nero D’Avola) – ($15)
  • 2009 Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva (Sangiovese) – ($19)
  • 2009 Castello Banfi Chianti Classico (Sangiovese) – $17)
  • 2010 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT (Corvino Blend) – ($21)
  • 2011 Straccali Chianti Classico (Sangiovese) – ($21)

The wines were scored based on 4 criteria (aroma, body, taste, and finish) - each on a scale of 1-5 (1-low; 5-high). Therefore minimum score = 4 point and maximum = 20 points

Italian Wine night score Sheet

Image courtesy of Jojo Ong

The Winner:

Italian wine night winner

Photo courtesy of Jojo Ong

With a median score of 13.5pts

The runners-up were and scores in descending order were:

  • 2012 Rocche di Cusa Cabernet Sauvignon (12.5 pts)
  • 2011 Straccali Chianti Classico (12.3 pts)
  • 2010 Montechiara Amarone della Valpolicella  (12.0 pts)
  • 2011 Luisi Barbera d’Asti (11 pts)
  • 2010 Poderi Foglia Aglianico Gallucio Concarosso (10 pts)
  • 2010 Allegrini Palazzo della Torre Veronese IGT (10 pts)
  • 2009 Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva (10 pts)
  • 2009 Castello Banfi Chianti Classico (9.8 pts)

Blind tastings are always fun, and there’s almost always a surprise of some sort.  More often than not, it’s a $10 wine beating our a $25 wine.  Not only did the lowest priced wine, but it was made from a blend of mostly (91%) Bordeaux grape varieties – definitely non-traditional Italian grapes.

Likewise for the second place wine, which was the second lowest price and made primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon.

I think the obvious answer is that our tasters prefer the “New World”, rather than “Old World” style wines.  Speaking from personal experience the more rustically styled Italian wine can take some getting used to.

Regardless of which style one prefers, I think everyone found a wine or two they really enjoyed, and got a chance to try something new (it was my first Amarone, and Aglianico) while expanding their wine knowledge.  And isn’t that what a wine tasting club experience is all about?

#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; 2010 Woodenhead Zinfandel Leras Ranches Bertoli

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 2010 Woodenhead Zinfandel Leras Ranches Bertoli.

The Winery

Woodenhead Vintners is owned by Nikolai Stez, and Zina Bower.  Nikolai grew up in the Russian River Valley, and was drawn to wine at an early age and began some home winemaking while still in college. His formal winemaking education consisted of attending the Horticulture and Viticulture program at Santa Rosa Junior College and attending a few classes at UC Davis. He began to seriously make garage wines in 1986 while being mentored at Williams Selyem.

He was assistant winemaker at Williams-Selyem before launching Woodenhead.  His domestic partner, Zina Bower, is equally passionate about wine, and is involved as well, handling the marketing and business side of Woodenhead. She also has a day job as business manager at Diamond Creek Vineyards in Napa Valley.

The name, “Woodenhead,” was a name given to Nicolai by an old girlfriend who thought that he was very stubborn 

In addition to Zinfandel, Woodenhead produces amazing Pinot Nori, a French Colombard, and a unique French Colombard based sparkling wine. They aspire Burgundian style wines with California fruit. They produce approximately 4,000 case of wine annually.

I’ve visited Woodenhead a couple of times.  I’ve always really enjoyed the wines and inevitably end up purchasing some bottles.  The tasting room is located on River Road in Santa Rosa and is perched on a small hill that overlooks the Russian River Valley.  I have fond memories on sitting on the patio, sipping their wonderful wines and taking in the glorious view.

The Wine

The fruit for this wine was sourced from  the  Leras Ranch.  The vineyard, originally owned by the Bertoli Family, was planted sometime between the late 30’s and early 40’s, making it approximately 70 years old (I’d say that qualifies as “old vine”!)  Nick Leras is the current owner and both farms and manages the vineyard.

The vineyard is head-trained and completely dry-farmed and the soil is primarily dark clay loam.

The wine is aged in French oak, and is bottled unfiltered and unfined.

photo (50)

My tasting notes follow:

Deep violet color with lifted intoxicating aromas of balsamic vinegar, oriental spice, and mixed dark fruits. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and balanced with a supple mouth feel. It shows blackberry, black cherry, plum and spice flavors. Medium-long finish. SRP; $30; 15.2% alcohol; 172 cases produced

Rating: A-; A truly lovely Zin….that I heartily recommend!

Pair with: Pulled pork, lamb chops, or chicken mole!

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; 2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial

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 2001 La Rioja Alta Rioja Viña Ardanza Reserva Especial.

The Winery

La Rioja Alta is one of the most renowned producers of traditional Rioja wine. Their history dates back to 1890 when it was founded as the Sociedad Vinicola De La Rioja Alta by five viticultural family’s from both Basque and Rioja regions of Spain.  No long thereafter the name was changed to La Rioja Alta.

The company owns two wineries with the original building located in Haro.  The second, modern winemaking facility was built in 1996 at Labastida just 1.5km to the north-east.   The estate covers 360 hectares of vines with parcels in much of the best parts of the Rioja Alta subregion of Rioja.  The estate is planted primarily to Tempranillo, along with small amounts of Graciano and Mazuelo, along with 63 hectares of Garnacha (Grenache) vines in the Rioja Baja subregion.

The winery has its own cooperage producing barrels from oak imported from America and dried for two years.

The Wine

The Viña Ardanza Reserva has been elaborated by La Rioja Alta since 1942! it is named after one of the founding families. It is only produced in the best years, and  the 2001 vintage was rated “Excellent” by Rioja Control Board.  La Rioja Alta thought so highly of this wine that it called it Reserva Especial, only the third time one of its wines has earned that designation, along with 1964 and 1973.

The wine is made up of 80% Tempranillo from thirty year old vines from their vineyard in Fuenmayor, and 20% Garnacha coming from very old, goblet-pruned vines 600 meters above sea level in Rioja Baja. The Tempranillo spends 36 months in American oak. The Garnacha spends ‘only’ 30 months in oak to preserve its freshness.  The  components are blended and bottled. The wine receives a further four years  of  bottle aging. Aging wines this long in American is virtually unheard of!

You can find this wine here.  The wine was produced in 2002, or 2003 the current release is the 2004.  I’m definitely going to check that out.  I’m also going to seek out some other wines from the monster 2001 vintage!

Wine of the Week; 2001 Vina Ardanza

My tasting notes follow:

Dark brick garnet color with intriguing earthy, leather, smoke, dried red fruit, fresh meat, vanilla, cedar wood and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s light-medium bodied,  wonderfully complex, balanced and fresh with a silky texture, smooth well-integrated tannins and tart-ish cherry, vanilla, spice oak, and leather flavors. Long finish, clean finish.  13.5% alcohol.

Rating: A-; Great value in a mature Rioja at $30, and a superb example of traditional Rioja wine.  If you’re looking to drink aged wines that won’t break the bank look to Rioja!

Pair with: An excellent wine to accompany charcoal-grilled meat, roasts, small game, medium-aged cheeses, Iberian cured sausages, etc.

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 2014 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

Wine of the Week: 2009 Ridge Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

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 Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Estate.

The Winery

Ridge Vineyards  is a California winery with two estates, Monte Bello in Cupertino, and Lytton Springs in Healdsburg.  They are best known for producing single-vineyard premium Bordeaux style Cabernet Sauvignon Blend (“Monte Bello”), Zinfandels, and Chardonnay.  Ridge was established by three engineers from nearby Stanford Research Institute (SRI).  They produced its first commercial wine in 1962 after purchasing the winery in 1960.

Great wines have always been determined by their site – by nature, not by man – Paul Draper

It wasn’t too long after that, that Ridge gained an international  rep when the  Ridge Monte Bello, under the direction of winemaker Paul Draper , took fifth place in the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976 against nine other French and California wines.  Here’s what’s really cool though, the 1976 Monte Bello unanimously took first place in The Judgment of Paris 30th Anniversary when it was tasted against the same wines thirty years later!

Ridge has four estate vineyards, Monte Bello (first commercial release was in 1962), Geyserville (first release 1966), Lytton Springs (first release 1972), and their newest property East Bench.

The Wine

Many think of the Ridge Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon as a baby “Monte Bello”, Ridge’s flagship Bordeaux blend.  The grapes are sourced from the same estate vineyard. But it’s produced to be more accessible and develop it’s complexity sooner (the common rule of thumb is wait 10 years before Monte Bello hits its stride).

It’s a blend of 77% Cabernet Sauvignon and 23% Merlot.  It was fermented on native yeasts and aged for nineteen months in primarily used air-dried American oak barrels (only 15% new).   Drink now; but it will continue to develop for at least another 10 years.

Alcohol;13.8% Suggested retail price; $40 >Find this wine<

photo 1 (3)

My tasting notes follow:

Carmine color with earthy dark red fruit, tobacco, toasty oak and vanilla aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with deep, rich, pure cassis, black cherry, and mineral flavors . It’s well-balanced, and refined with soft fine-grained tannins, a long finish and a nice vein of acidity. 

Rating: A-  – How good is this wine?  I attended a Ridge Blogger tasting where many very experienced tasters thought this wine was a Monte Bello – a wine that sells for 4x the price!

Pair with: A grilled Rib-eye or filet mignon come to mind, but I’d also consider pairing this elegant wine with grilled, braised or roasted, lamb, venison, pork, chicken, or even duck.

Sample purchased for review

Related post 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

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 Domaine de la Mordorée Rosé La Dame Rousse

Yes, it’s still that time of year… Yes, it’s Rosé season (which is year-round in my book; granted most folks don’t see it that way)!. With that in mind, I’ve embarked upon a series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  This week’s Rosé is the 2012 Domaine de la Modorée La Dame Rousse Tavel Rosé.

The Winery

Domaine de la Mordorée is a relatively new winery in Chateauneuf-de-Pape.  It was founded in 1986 by brothers Fabrice and Christophe Delorme with a total of 5 hectares of vines.  By 1989, the industrious brothers had expanded the holdings of Domaine de la Mordoree to 60 hectares located in 8 different regions in the Southern Rhone valley.  The Domaine is ideally located at the crossroads of Provence and Languedoc. And they have a reputation for producing some great wine from their vineyard across the Rhone Valley including Châteauneuf du Pape, Lirac, andTavel.  The winery takes its name from a wild game bird, known as a woodcock, hence the logo on the wine bottle’s label.

Christophe Delorme’s objective as a winemaker is to be unintrusive and maintain total respect for his terroir and the fruit it produces. His dream is to achieve a perfect balance between concentration, terroir and flavors. Delorme seems to be moving in the direction of biodynamic farming. He represents the best of an enlightened approach to winemaking that has one foot in the traditions of the past and one in the future.
- Robert Parker, The World’s Greatest Wine Estates

Domaine de la Mordoree practices sustainable, organic farming of their vineyards in all their locations including Chateauneuf du Pape, Lirac, Tavel and Cotes du Rhone. They are working on earning the rights to be certified agriculture biologique. They have old vines. On their property in the rocky terroir of La Crau, their plantings are over 100 years of age.  The wines are aged in a combination of enamel coated, temperature, stainless steel tanks and small oak barrels.

 The Wine

Sad, but true, this was only my second rosé from France this summer (the other was from Provence)!  Candidly, with the popularity of dry rosé on the rise, I’m finding Cali producers have upped their game.  On top of that,  2012 was a great vintage, and I think that’s manifest in the across the board quality of California rosés  I’ve enjoyed this Summer!

Having said that, one the whole, no one does rosé better than the French.  The two most renowned areas for rosé production in France are Provence and Tavel.

This wine is from Tavel, an appellation in the southern Rhone Valley that specializes in dry rosé wines.  Tavel is a little pocket in the Côtes du Rhône about 20 minutes northeast of the city of Avignon.  Tavel has a reputation for producing rosé that is fruity and fun, As opposed to Provence (in particular Bandol) which has a reputation for producing more serious rosé.

The vineyards that produced this wine average 40 years in age.  The grapes are hand-harvested.  It is a blend of 60% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Cinsault, 10% Mourvèdre, 5% Bourboulenc, 5% Clairette. 14.5% abv.  SRP is $25

2012 Domaine de la Mordorée Rosé La Dame Rousse

2012 Domaine de la Mordorée Rosé La Dame Rousse

My tasting note follows:

Strawberry red color with a wonderful orange hue with fresh wild strawberry, cherry citrus, and a hint of fresh herbs aromas. On the palate, it medium-full bodied and sophisticated with a creamy mouth feel, lively acidity, and intense strawberry, cherry spice and blood orange flavors. Long spicy finish. 

Rating:  A-This wine manages to walk the line between serious and “fun” just fine!

Pair with: This is an ideal picnic wine.  It’s a great partner for food, and has the body to go with a variety of foods.  Pair with grilled meat, deli sandwiches, light pasta dishes, pizza.  For a real treat pair with Consommé of mussels and prawns in Tavel Sauce.

>>Find this wine<<

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 right

Wine of the Week: 2012 Bedrock Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc Kick Ranch

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 Bedrock Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc Kick Ranch.

The Winery

Bedrock Wine Co. is an “itsy-bitsy winery making wine in a converted chicken coop”. Though recently Morgan Twain-Peterson, the winemaker/owner of Bedrock Wine Co. announced some big changes including building a new winery, and hiring of close friend, Chris Cottrell to work with him.  Sounds like Bedrock will be moving from the “itsy-bitsy” level to a higher level production-wise.  The wines are already major,  quality-wise!

There are two things that make Bedrock Wine Co. special in my view – the first is Morgan (you can check out his full bio here), but suffice it to say he’s been making wine since he was “knee-high to a bug” including working harvests in McLaren Vale, Australia and worked as a visiting winemaker at Chateau Lynch-Bages in Bordeaux before returning to California to focus on revitalizing California’s heirloom vineyards. He was recently named one of the Top 100 Most Influential U.S. Winemakers.

The second is his vineyard sources. I did a post last year entitled Bedrock Wine Co: Where Old Vine Love And Transcendent Wine Making Come Together, wherein I focused on the sources of Bedrock’s grapes.

In terms of the wine making process itself at Bedrock, it’s surprisingly Ole Skool (or as Morgan might put it “Cro-magnum”).  Grapes are pitch-forked into a small Zambelli destemmer, the punch-downs are manual, after fermentation the wines are basket pressed in an Italian press that is manually operated.   It’s a very manual and time-consuming process, but I can vouch for the results.  Peterson is making some unique distinctly Californian wines that are spectacular!

The Wine

The fruit for this wine is sourced from Kick Ranch Vineyard. The wine is fermented entirely in barrel, with approximately 5% new Acacia wood, which gives the wine some floral aromatics, and let’s the fruit shine through.

According to Bedrock…The wine fermented with native yeasts into January and then was sulfured to prevent malolactic.  The hope is to create richness from the increased oxidation of the barrel but also to preserve freshness from the reductiveness of the lees and the total lack of malolactic.

OK…I’m no winemaker, so I’ll take Morgan’s word for it…

Well, here’s what I do know…this is a distinctly California wine that’s very memorable!

BWC Sauv Blanc

My tasting notes follow:

Pale straw yellow-green color with very expansive pear, white flower, nuanced ocean breeze, citrus peel, and honey aromas. On the palate, its dryish, medium-bodied, with lively acidity, and a great mouth feel.  It exhibits lush peach, guava, citrus and subtle honey flavors with a clean medium-long finish. SRP – $22

Rating: A-: 

Pair with: Seafood Salad, or Creole Baked Goat Cheese!

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.

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.

Wine of the Week: 2010 Carlisle Sonoma Valley “Monte Rosso” Zinfandel

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 2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard.

Winery

Carlisle Winery & Vineyards is a small Sonoma County based winery  based in Santa Rosa. According their website they specialize in the..

…production of old-vine, vineyard designated Zinfandels and red Rhone varieties (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Petite Sirah).

Mike Officer is the Owner/Winemaker.  He caught the wine “bug” early – at age 19 – when he tasted a late-harvest Riesling (It seems like we all start with sweet wines doesn’t it?) After graduating from college, he worked in software development for five years, but realized that was not his passion.  He knew the answer would involve wine, but he wasn’t sure in what capacity.

He decided to try winemaking,  starting with making 5 gallons of Zinfandel in his kitchen.  Some years later, he  and his wife Kendall found themselves making 300 cases of “garage” wine.  They decided to jump in with both feet and established Carlisle Winery & Vineyards in 1998.  They’ve focused on old-vine Zinfandel, and red Rhône blends, until the 2010 vintage, when they made their first white wines.

In addition to their own estate vineyard, they source grapes from Sonoma County, primarily the Russian River, and Dry Creek AVAs.  Officer always been a fan of old-vine vineyards.   In fact, of the 16 vineyard sources listed on their website, half ( Gold Mine RanchMartinelli Road VineyardMontafi RanchPagani Ranch VineyardPapera Ranch, Rossi Ranch Vineyard, Saitone Ranch, and Two Acres) are considered historic vineyards by the Historic Vineyard Society .

Carlisle wines are available via a mailing list.  The mailing list is currently closed, but if you would like to be added to the waiting list, click here.

The Wine

Fruit for this wine is from the legendary Monte Rosso Vineyard located in the Mayacamas Mountains. Monte Rosso has a reputation for producing wines of high acidity across all varieties (The vineyard is also planted to Cabernet Sauvignon) and producers. Wines are incredibly long lived.

The Monte Rosso Vineyard has a special place in my heart.  While a Zinfandel was my epiphany wine, it was Rosenblum Monte Rosso Zinfandel that blew my mind many moons ago. This one is better than that!

The wine is aged in 20% new French oak and bottle unfiltered, but given a light egg white fining to polish the mountain tannins.

2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard

2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Monte Rosso Vineyard

My tasting notes follow:

Nearly opaque purple color with black fruit, bittersweet chocolate, earth, and slight roast meat aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, but the mouthwatering acidity keeps it deftly balanced. It shows blackberry blueberry, black raspberry, mineral and a hint of bittersweet chocolate and a long finish 96% Zinfandel; 4% Grand Noir 15.8% alcohol; 410 cases produced

Rating: A-This is an outstanding Zinfandel! While it was a bit hot on the nose on day 1, that wasn’t the case on day 2.  Additionally, I made sure it was served at the appropriate temperature on day 2, and the heat wasn’t there. Perhaps a not so gentle reminder to serve reds at the appropriate temperature, especially as the weather warms up!

Pair with: A full-bodied wine such as this would pair well with robust dishes such as roast lamb, meat stews, hearty pastas, or barbequed dishes.  And this Zinfandel is more food friendly than most because of its lively acidity!

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.