Wine of the Week: 2010 Carlisle Mourvedre Bedrock 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 2010 Carlisle Mourvedre Bedrock Vineyard.

The 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.

The Wine

From Carlisle…From vines planted in 1888, exceptional fruit and simple winemaking have combined to create this age-worthy old-vine Mourvedre.  Aged in French oak, 21% new. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 133 cases produced.  SRP – $40

2010 Carlisle Mourvedre Bedrock Vineyard

2010 Carlisle Mourvedre Bedrock Vineyard

My tasting notes follow:

Dark nearly opaque ruby color with complex roast meat, dark fruits, violet, spice and oak aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied with wonderful depth and concentration, along with very good acidity, velvety texture and dusty tannins.   It shows flavors of blueberry, blackberry, plum, espresso, cacao and sweetened orange rind. Long finish. 14.8% alcohol 

Rating: A- : Fantastic example of what a 100% Mourvedre can be.  It’s a shame it’s not produced more as a 100% varietal bottling (It’s hard to grow, and does best with low yields…so it’s about $$$).  This is a very age-worthy wine I’d love to try again in another 10 years.  Wish I had more!

Pair with: Beef Short Ribs, or Vegan Portobello Stroganoff, or Portobello Mushroom Lasagna.

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.

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.

Saké 101 and SakéOne Tastings

Last month I had the pleasure of participating in a virtual tasting (a group of tasters, tasting the same beverages, interact with a host and one another) hosted by SakéOne.

SakéOne is an importer of Japan’s finest saké as well as America’s premium saké company. For more than a decade, SakéOne has been crafting junmai ginjo (premium) quality saké at its state-of- the-art kura (brewery) in Forest Grove, the heart of the Willamette Valley: Oregon’s craft beer-brewing and wine-making mecca.  SakéOne is focused on producing and importing saké that suits the American palate.

It was my second such tasting with SakéOne.  I did one last year that I never got around to blogging about, but that experience exponentially expanded by limited knowledge (and experience) with saké, and forever changed by perceptions about it.

Now it’s time to share!

My casual observation is that saké consumption is on the rise.   I’ve seen more varieties on wine merchant’s shelves, articles about saké bars, cocktails, and pairing saké with food.  And stats from Impact Databank, a leading source  of intelligence and data the adult beverage industry bear out my observation.  They report that saké consumption is steadily rising, reaching 2.55 million cases in 2011.

Here’s a quick 411 on saké

  • Saké is not rice wine.
  • Saké is brewed like beer, but drinks more like fine wine
  • Saké is made with four ingredients: rice, koji (the natural mold that converts rice starches into sugars), specially selected yeasts and water.
  • Rice is to saké what grapes are to wine.  Just as fine wine starts with better grapes, premium saké begins with the better rice.
  • Saké is classified by styles (a grade, category,  or class). The style is largely determined by how much the rice is milled. In general, the more the rice used in brewing is milled before being used, the higher the grade of sake. For example, in the chart below, Ginjo, or Junmai Gingo is made with rice that has been milled (“polished”, as the industry puts it) to remove at least the outer 40% of the original size of the grains. This means that each grain of rice is only 60% or less of its original size.
Image courtesy of http://www.thelondonfoodie.co.uk/

Image courtesy of http://www.thelondonfoodie.co.uk/

  • The Not So Good Stuff - About 75% of saké is the futsu-shu, ordinary saké style.  It’s made from ordinary table rice, has various additives, and is commonly served heated (to mask the poor quality).
  • The Good Stuff - The top 25% of saké is considered premium. There are three primary styles of premium saké, Junmai (JOON-mai)Ginjo (GEEN-joe), and Daiginjo (die-GEEN-joe).
  • Alcohol levels – Most sake is diluted with water after brewing to lower the alcohol content from 18-20% down to 14-16%, but undiluted (“Genshu”) is not.  Therefore It’s at least 18%.
  • How to ServeSaké is best served chilled in a stemmed wine glass for ultimate appreciation of aroma and taste—not in tiny square (masu), round (ochoko) cups or shot glasses. While serving saké in such vessels is customary, it is not the best for showcasing premium saké.
  • Handling - All saké should be stored in the refrigerator at all times, both before and after opening the bottle.  It will keep for a least a month, usually longer.
  •  Lifestyle Choices - Premium saké is free from additives and preservatives and is gluten-free and sulfite free. And virtually all is kosher.  There are also organic,and vegan options.

“Appreciating sake is like appreciating wine: look at the color, there is an initial bouquet, you can swirl it in your glass…But you also have to appreciate it as something new: leave your preconceptions behind.” - Sylvain Huet

My first foray into the world of premium saké was an eye-opener!  I was pleasantly surprised how many similarities saké shares with my beloved vino. The tasting process is essentially the same, and premium saké is meant to be served chilled in a wine  glass.  Among other things, I also discovered:

  • Sake is made in the US, not only Japan
  • Lots of diversity of styles of saké  from dry to sweet, and from light to full-bodied.  There’s even sparkling saké!
  • There are plenty of non-Japanese food pairing options
  • The sake, with which I was most familiar, the heated sake served up in Japanese restaurant is of poor quality

It was a fantastic introduction that spurred me on to purchase more saké after the tasting, and begin exploring on my own!

My tasting notes, along with some fun food pairing recommendations follow:

SakeOne May 13 Tasting

  • Murai Family Tokubetsu Honjozo - Japan, Tōhoku, Aomori
    Style: Special Honjozo, polished to 60%.  Clear color with wildflower, anise seed and slightly earthy aromas. On the palate it’s between light/medium-bodied, and smooth with a sense of umami and fruity pear and apple flavors. Medium finish.  15.5% alcohol. SRP – $25Recommended
  • Yoshinogawa Winter Warrior - Japan, Chūbu, Niigata
    Style: Junmai Ginjo. polished to 60%.  Clear with layered fresh tropical fruit, and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied, fresh and fruity with pear, melon and tropical fruit flavors that seem to intensify along the way. Long finish. 14% alcohol. SRP – $27; Highly recommended
  • SakéMoto Junmai - Japan, Kansai, Hyōgo; 
    Style: Junmai, polished to 70%. Clear with upfront complex aromas of apple, spice, melon, and a hint of smokiness. On the palate it’s light-bodied and fresh with fresh apple, pear, melon, and anise flavors. Medium long finish. Pair sashimi, prosciutto and melon or fish tacos. 14.7% alcohol. SRP – $11; Highly recommended
  • SakéOne G Fifty Junmai Ginjo Genshu - USA, Oregon
    Style: Junmai Ginjo Genshu, polished to 50%, a Diaginjo grade. Clear color with green tinge and initially low-key aromas, followed by stronger aromas of pear, melon, pineapple,and spice aromas in the mouth. On the palate, it’s full-bodied off-dry, with low-medium acidity and a great mouth feel that’s smooth and ample with pear, melon, and spice flavors underscored by a bit of minerality. Medium-long finish. Pair with grilled meats, rich fish dishes, creamy pasta, or hard cheeses. 18% alcohol SRP – $25; Highly Recommended

The most recent tasting was done in conjunction with “White Day“, which is Japan’s answer to Valentine’s day here.  SakéOne provided  300ml bottles of Momokawa Diamond, and Pearl sakés (both junmai ginjo grade), along with SakéMoto.  Additionally, I’d purchased their G Joy sake because I’d previously enjoyed the G Fifty so much I wanted to try the G Joy, another full-bodied Junmai Ginjo Genshu style sake.

The video from this online tasting, graphics dealing with saké terminology and the brewing process, as well as the participant’s posts can be found here:

SakeOne Feb 14 Tasting

  • SakéOne Momokawa Diamond Medium Dry Junmai Ginjo - USA, Oregon; Style: Junmai Ginjo, polished to 60%Clear color with apple, honeysuckle, and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied with apple, mineral, and a bit of spice on the back palate. Medium finish. Pair with chilled kimchi or Italian pasta dishes14.8 % alcohol; SRP – $13Recommended
  • SakéOne Momokawa Pearl Junmai Ginjo Nigori Genshu - USA, Oregon  Style: Junmai Ginjo Nigori Genshu, polished to 60%.  The color of skim milk with a lovely melange of creamy tropical fruit, (coconut, pineapple banana) sweet rice, and bit of earthy aromas. On the palate, medium-bodied with a mildly sweet, off-dry tropical fruit, and sweet rice flavors. Medium-long finish. Delicious with 75% cacao dark chocolate! Also consider pairing with spicy food like Thai or curries. 18% alcohol; SRP – $13Recommended  
  • SakéOne G Joy Junmai Ginjo Genshu - USA, Oregon; Style: Junmai Ginjo Genshu, polished to 60%. Practically clear color with apple, melon, lychee aromas. On the palate, it’s rich, and full-bodied with apple, pear, yellow plum and a bit of spice flavors. Medium-long finish. Pair with BBQ tri-tip, pepperoni pizza, or shrimp ceviche tostadas. 18% alcohol, SRP – $20;  Highly recommended

It was another fun, very informative and enjoyable tasting. It was great to revisit the SakéMoto offering, and the Momokawa Nigori was the first sake of that style that I’ve really liked.  And I’ll definitely be buying the G Joy again!

There you have it…

School’s out…you’ve (hopefully) read my tasting notes…you’ve got some ideas for pairing saké with non-Japanese food….Now get out there and try some saké!  Head to your local store, wine shop or maybe purchase some online.

Think you don’t like saké?  Think again. There is such a tremendous diversity of styles, that I bet you can find one you like.

Kanpai!

All sakés were provided as samples for review, except SakéOne G Joy, which I purchased for review.  Many thanks to SakéOne and Charles Communications Associates 

Related posts you may find interesting:

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

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

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

Wine of the Week; 2009 Gérard Bertrand Saint-Chinian Syrah/Mourvèdre

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 Gérard Bertrand Saint-Chinian Syrah/Mourvèdre, and it’s a fantastic value!

I picked up this wine at my local Costco for $11.59.  I’d love to tell you I didn’t expect much…But that simply wouldn’t be true.  In my experience Costco does a fine job of stocking wines that over deliver for the price.  It also helped that I’ve had good experience with a few other wines from importer Gérard Betrand, a leading winemaker, producer and grower in the South of France.

He owns seven vineyards in the Languedoc-Roussillion region.  Betrand operates from the Château l’Hospitalet, a renowed 38 room hotel room/wine estate.  He produces a variety of wines for different markets.

This wine is sourced from fruit in the Saint-Chinian region of the Languedoc.  I50-50 blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre

photo (17)

My tasting notes follow:

Opaque black red color with appealing black fruit, tobacco, spice, licorice, and a whiff of eucalyptus aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with a supple texture and dusty but well integrated tannins. It shows blackberry, black cherry, currant, spiced vanilla and a hint of bittersweet chocolate flavors. Lingering finish. 

Rating: A-  This wine is was $12 at Costco.  That’s killer Quality/Price Ratio folks!  Simply put….this one is a repeat purchase for me!

Pair with: This is a meat and potatoes wine – enjoy with Hearty stews, Flank Steak with Garlic Wine Sauce, or  Lamb Ragout with Olives and Peppers.

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.

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A Taste of Smith Madrone

Smith Madrone Vineyards and Winery, a family run, estate-bottled winery located in St. Helena, California was founded in 1971 by brothers Stuart and Charles Smith who are the Managing Partner/Vineyard Manager, and Winemaker respectively.  The name of the winery is a tribute to the Smith brothers and the predominant tree on the ranch. The Madrone is an evergreen with a red-brown trunk and branches.

(L) Stu, and (R) Charlie Smith. Image courtesy of  Smith Madrone

(L) Stu, and (R) Charlie Smith. Image courtesy of Smith Madrone

When the Smith brothers purchased the  200 acre ranch in 1971, it included a vineyard that had been planted over a century before.  But the forest had reclaimed much of the land. The brothers had to call in loggers to clear patches of land that would become vineyards.  There remain numerous historical sights on the ranch, as well as the huge array of natural beauty and wildlife.

Image courtesy of Meg Smith/Smith Madrone

Image courtesy of Meg Smith/Smith Madrone

All their wines are produced exclusively from their 34 acres of hillside vineyards planted by the Smith brothers.  The vineyard is planted to 6.25 acres of Riesling, 10.25 acres of Chardonnay and 13 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, with the Merlot, and Cabernet Franc available for blending.

The vineyard sits high atop Spring Mountain, west of St. Helena in the northern Napa Valley. The vineyards sit at elevations between 1,300 and 2,000 feet, on steep slopes which range up to 35%.

Image courtesy of Meg Simth/Smith Madrone

Image courtesy of Meg Smith/Smith Madrone

My wife and I had a chance to visit the winery last month.  It’s a working winery, so there’s not much there in terms of a tasting room.  But what you will find are great wines, honestly produced by the Smiths, whose philosophy is to get the most out of each vintage and get it in the glass.  And I don’t know about you, but I’m all about the wine, so I’d go wine tasting in a chicken coop if there were great wines to be had (No, wait…I’ve done that! ;-)

Smith Madrone offer four wines, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and a special Cook’s Flat Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. I had a chance to taste the 2012 Riesling, 2011 Chardonnay, and 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon.

The wines are available for purchase at the winery or on their website.  They produce about 4,000 cases/yr. The winery is open for tasting by appointment Monday-Saturday, 10 – 4:30.

photo (61)

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2011 Smith Madrone Chardonnay - Pale yellow color with enticing apple, stone fruit, lemon, chalk and a hint of spice aromas. The wine shows an enticing viscosity in the glass that portends the ample mouth-feel of the wine. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, harmonious, and zesty with peach, apricot, honey, brown spice and mineral flavors. Long mouth-watering finish. Barrel-fermented and aged 8 months in 100% new French oak. 14.2% alcohol. 463 cases produced. SRP – $35 (92 pts.)
  • 2009 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon - Dark ruby color with promising black cherry, cassis, blackberry, cedarwood, and a hint of cacao aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and vibrant harmonious with penetrating black cherry, cassis, mixed black and blueberry flavors, and sweet, well-integrated tannins. Long finish. Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon 84%, Merlot 8% & Cabernet franc 8%. 13.9% alcohol. Aged 22 months in new American white oak barrels. This is a wine that’s drinking well now, but will continue to favorably evolve over the next 10-15 years.  And it’s the best values you’ll find in Cab at $45! (91 pts.)
  • 2012 Smith Madrone Riesling - Very pale slightly green tinged straw color with appealing stone fruit, apple lime, wet stone, and a hint of lychee aromas. On the palate it approaches medium-bodied and is dry, clean, focused, and well-structured with tart apple, peach, lime, and mineral flavors. Long persistent finish. 12.5% alcohol. 798 cases produced. Made from 40-year-old vines. SRP – $27.  My favorite American Riesling.  It’s drinking well now, but Riesling can be aged for decades, and you can keep yourself from drinking it, you’ll be rewarded! (91 pts.)

All the wines were simply outstanding.  Highly recommended.  And I heartily recommend a visit too.  The property is amazing (with breathtaking views on clear days), the Smiths are gracious, and knowledgeable hosts.  A good time will be had!

Wines provided as a samples for review.  Many thanks to Smith Madrone Vineyards and Winery and Julie Ann Kodmur

Other 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.

Wine of the Week: 2008 Ridge Lytton Springs

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 2008 Ridge Lytton Springs.

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 four engineers from nearby Stanford Research Institute (SRI).  They produced its first commercial wine in 1962 after purchasing the winery in 1959, and producing at half-barrel of wine.

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 , Geyserville, Lytton Springs, and their newest property East Bench.

The Wine

Lytton Springs (along with the Ridge Geyserville have been benchmarks for California Zinfandel focused blends for decades.  Fruit for this wine is sourced from the Lytton Estate, which is located on the bench and hills separating Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys, just north of Healdsburg in Sonoma County.  The vineyard is composed of Lytton East planted to 100-plus-year-old Zinfandel, Grenache, Petite Sirah, Carignane (42 acres), and Lytton West planted to Zinfandel, and small amounts of Carignane, planted 1953 (33 acres); Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Mataro (Mourvèdre), planted 1989 to 1998 (54 acres).

In 1972, Ridge made its first Lytton Springs from vines planted on the eastern half of the vineyard at the turn of the century, and purchased both the eastern and western portions of the vineyard in the early 1990s…

It’s a blend of 74% Zinfandel, 21% Petite Sirah, and 5% Carignane. Thirty-four vineyard parcels were fermented separately on native yeast. Thereafter the wine was aged 15 months in 100% air-dried american oak barrels (20% new; 55% one, two and three years old; 25% four and five years old)

Alcohol;14.4% Suggested retail price; $47 – But you can find this wine for much less online.

photo (18)

My tasting notes follow:

Aromatic black and red fruits, cedarwood, spice and a hint of caramel aromas. Medium-bodied, elegant, and fresh with a supple texture and well integrated dusty tannins. Flavor-wise it’s a  haunting melange of black cherry, blackberry fig, and spice. Long finish. It’s relatively young.  It will easily age well for another 10 years!

Rating: A-  If you’re looking for a sophisticated, elegant Zinfandel based blend; look no further.  Lytton Springs is a perennial favorite!

Pair with: BBQ Chicken, Pulled pork, or if you’re more adventurous Indian food, smoked Ahi Tuna,  Duck Fat-Fried Fingerling Potatoes with blue-cheese fondue, or Roasted Vegetables with Sherry Dressing

Sample purchased for review

Related posts you might enjoy:

Ratings Key:

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

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

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

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

Book Review – Buy The Right Wine Every Time by Tom Stevenson

I’m a wine geek. Most of my friends are not.  In fact, the vast majority of folks who enjoy drinking wine don’t want to put much thought into it beyond – what’s the occasion, and how much am I willing to spend for it?  Wouldn’t it be nice if such folks had a handy-dandy reference guide on the best wines to buy for the money?  That’s the intended purpose of the newly published “Buy The Right Wine Every Time-The No-Fuss No Vintage Wine Guide.

BuyTheRightWineEveryTime Cover

The book, written by Tom Stevenson, is premised on providing easy to follow guidance from a wine expert to non-experts who want to get the most satisfaction for their money, without being burdened by  pretentious wine speak.  In other words, it offers guidance to “Main Street” wine consumers on which wine to buy when they’re confronted by the Wall of Wine (“WOW”) at their local store.  Buy The Right Wine focuses on the most widely available wines, without regard to vintage, including many of the least expensive brands habitually avoided by the main stream wine writers.

This book is for you if you drink wine, but don’t think wine

Stevenson has been writing about wine for more than 30 years, and is considered the world’s leading authority on Champagne. He has written 23 books, including Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia, which is the standard reference for Masters of wine and Master Sommelier exam worldwide.  He’s the winner of numerous literary awards including the Wine Literary Award, America’s only lifetime achievement award for wine writers.  HIs works have published internationally by more than 50 publishers and translated into over 25 languages.

Overview

Buy The Right Wine is divided into three main sections The first is a relatively short list of “Wines by Style” (red, white, fortified, sparkling, and rosé), which are quality rated (Recommended, Highly Recommended, and To Die for) and categorized by price categories (“$Under $10″; “$$; $10-$15″; and “$$$; over $25″).  The second, and main section is “A-Z of Wines”, an alphabetical listing of wines by producer, without regard to vintage.  Each wine listed in this section has a brief explanation of what the wine is, what it tastes like, recommendations for similar wines.  The last section of Buy The Right wine contains what Stevenson considers to be the  ”The 20 Most Useful Wine Tips.

 Review

Buy the Right wine is does a commendable job of fulfilling its promise.  The book is well-organized, concise and informative.  The recommendations are well thought out and offers folks who enjoy wine, but not the pretension that can go with it, a great way to hedge the bet a bottle of wine can be.   The book itself is made of quality materials, and is just the right size to be a carry-alone companion while one is out and about shopping for wine.

I especially liked the recap of the wines recommended in the “A-Z” section of the book. Along with a easy to understand descriptions of what the wine is,  and what it tastes like, Stevenson suggests similar wines of greater quality.  This is a great way for the novice to gain confidence and expand their knowledge about what wines they like, or dislike. And for the more adventurous wine consumer there are also recommendation to “try something completely different”.  I found the tasting notes to be accurate representations of what the recommended wines taste like.  And perhaps most importantly, since Buy the Right Wine is filled with the most widely available and less expensive brands, the recommended wines should be relatively easy to find.  I took the book for a spin at my local BevMo (5 cent sale anyone?) and was able to find many of the wines noted in the book.

Finally, I found the last section of the book, the 20 most useful wine tips, to be quite informative for both wine novices and enthusiasts (I especially like the “how to bring a wine up to room temperature”, and preserving the freshness of opened wine tips).

In terms of opportunities for improvement, this book just begs for a mobile app or e-book, Its selections and helpful wine recommendations would be even better in a more portable and clickable form.  Also, while Stevenson does a mostly admirable job avoiding “wine speak”, terms like mineralityresidual sugarmalolactic fermentation, or lees aging (wouldn’t it be great if there was an e-book, or app that enabled the user to link directly to the meaning of such words?) are sprinkled throughout book.  Stevenson explains every specialist has its own vocabulary. True enough, but some readers not recognize this i a way to expand their wine knowledge, and may be put off by such terms.

I heartily recommend the book to every day wine consumers and wine newbies!

Buy the Right Wine Every Time, The No-Fuss No-Vintage Wine Guide
Author: Tom Stevenson
Book Price: $14.95 retail
Publisher: Sterling Epicure, New York
Copyright 2014

Buy the book here

Review copy provided by the publisher.

__________________________________________________________________

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; 2011 Quimay Pinot Noir

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.  This week’s wine is the 2011 Quimay Pinot Noir.

I recently dropped into my local BevMo on a whim, and found this bottle of wine on sale for $17.95. Since retail is $29.95, and it was rated 95 points by Wilfred Wong (conflict of interest duly noted as Mr. Wong is BevMo’s Cellar Master), I decided to make the bet.

It looks like Quimay (which means “blessed water” in the Patagonian native Mapuche language) wines are available exclusively at BevMo.  Alejandro Sejanovich, is the owner/winemaker/oenologist of Quimay.  Mr. Sejanovich is also the Vineyard Director for Bodega Catena Zapata.

The fruit for this wine is sourced from Neuquén region of Patagonia,  which is located in the southernmost part of Argentina. Patagonia is a desert region with a cool, dry climate, and viticulture is only possible near the rivers where meltwater from the Andes is abundant.  It’s more well-known for dinosaurs, back-packing, and archaeological digs.

Despite being one of the world’s least obvious places for growing wine grapes, Patagonia has proven itself well suited to producing red wine from Pinot Noir and Malbec grapes.

In addition to this wine, Quimay also produces a Chardonnay, and Malbec.

Quimay PN

My tasting notes follow:

Garnet color with mushroom, and red fruit aromas. On the palate, it shows a smooth texture, medium acidity, and pomegranate, and spice flavors. Medium finish – 86pts  

Rating: B-: This is an interesting wine that offers good value, especially for Pinot Noir at $18 (though currently it’s included in BevMo’s 5 cent sale – so you get can get 2 bottles for $30…)

Pair with: Warm duck salad, grilled, or planked salmon, rare tuna steak, sautéed mushrooms or cheddar cheese.

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.

La Paulée Burgundy Week Tasting

Since I got into, as I call it, “the wine thing” about 10 years ago, I’ve sought out and tasted wines from the world’s major (and a few not so major) wine regions – France, Italy, Spain, California, Oregon, Washington, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Portugal, Greece, and even Croatia. All to varying degrees of course. But by way of wine, I’ve virtually traveled pretty much everywhere I’ve wanted to go in the wine world.

Except for the heart of Burgundy.

My only experience with Burgundy (Bourgogne in French) was a dinner with my wife at RN74 in San Francisco for my birthday last summer.

And you know how it is when you consider purchasing a bottle of wine in a restaurant.  You figure you’ll get (maybe) a good bottle of wine for what you could have purchased a much better bottle of wine at retail.  So we ordered by the glass.  The wines were good

And that was the extent of my Burgundy experience – my wife and I shared glasses of one white and one red Burgundy.

When I saw that my favorite wine store K&L Wine Merchants was doing a tasting In conjunction with La Paulée Burgundy Week in San Francisco (click here to learn more and review participating restaurants) from March 2-15,  I seized the opportunity. 

Hey?! Wait a minute isn’t that about two weeks? I guess that’s just how Burgundy rolls!

La Paulée de San Francisco 2014 will continue the tradition of serving guests the world’s greatest wines with cuisine from the world’s finest chefs.

The tasting featured fourteen (7 each) white and red Burgundies, including some Grand Crus.

The cost? - $20…which is less than those two glasses of wine at RN74 cost us…

photo (58)

 Here’s a quick sip on Burgundy:

  • Fairly small region in central eastern France that make some of the world’s most sought after and expensive wines
  • The two main grapes in Burgundy are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
  • Made up of six regions (from north to south) - Chablis, the Côte d’Or (considered the heart of Burgundy and comprised of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune) , the Côte Chalonnaise, the Mâconnaise, and Beaujolais to the south.
  • The system of land ownership is complex – Burgundy has thousands of tiny vineyards, and the classification of the quality of land in Burgundy is the most elaborate on earth
  • Wines are classified into four levels (starting with the most basic and moving up) Burgundy Red and White; Village Wine, Premier Cru (“1er”), and Grand Cru.

Of the wines tasted – for the whites, there were 2 Burgundy whites, 3 Village and 1 each of Premier Cru and Grand Cru. For the reds, there was one Burgundy red, 3 Village, 2 Premier Cru, and 1 Grand Cru.

My tasting notes follow:

photo (56)

  • 2011 Domaine Matrot Chardonnay Bourgogne Blanc - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne Blanc
    Pale lemon yellow color with pear, citrus and a hint of white flower aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with a wonderful mouth feel and apple, pear and citrus flavors. Medium+ finish. 100% Chardonnay. From vineyards averaging 30 years of age located next to the vaunted village of Mersault. Fantastic price quality ratio. Retail-$18! (89 pts.)
  • 2012 Paul Pernot et ses Fils Bourgogne Blanc - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne Blanc
    Aromas of apple, guava, citrus and a kiss of melon. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with vibrant acidity, and a great mouth feel. It shows apple, lime, melon, mineral and a bit of spiced lemon flavors. Long finish. Declassified Puligny Montrachet from younger vines. Definitely over-delivers for the price.  Retail- $22. (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Domaine Marius Delarche Pernand-Vergelesses - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses
    Restrained pear, tropical and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and fresh with pear, mineral and a bit of spice flavors. Medium-long finish. Retail-$32 (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Maison Jacques Bavard Auxey-Duresses Les Clous - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Auxey-Duresses
    Appealing pear, citrus, almond, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied, elegant, focused, and persistent with pear, apple, citrus and mineral flavors. Long finish. Terrific wine from just over the hill from Meursault! Retail-$32 (91 pts.)
  • 2011 Domaine Marius Delarche Corton-Charlemagne - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru
    Generous, beautiful peach, lemon cream, spice, white flower and mineral aromas. On the palate it’s medium/full bodied, and well-structured with a silky texture, vibrant acidity, and peach, fuji apple, mineral and spice flavors. Long finish Retail -$90 (93 pts.)

photo (59)

  • 2011 Château de la Charrière Bourgogne - France, Burgundy, Bourgogne
    Subtle red fruit, earth, and hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, with good acidity, supple tannins, and bright cherry, strawberry, and mineral flavors. Very good value especially for Burgundy! Retail-$16 (87 pts.)
  • 2011 Château de la Charrière Beaune Cuvée Vieilles Vignes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Beaune
    Appealing cherry, raspberry, and faint floral aromas. On the palate, it’s lean, fresh, with good structure and cherry, raspberry, and mineral flavors. Long finish. Great price quality ratio! Retail-$20! (89 pts.)
  • 2011 Château de la Charrière Santenay 1er Cru Clos Rousseau - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Santenay 1er Cru
    Black cherry, raspberry, and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with fine grained tannins and cherry, raspberry and mineral flavors. Medium-long finish. Retail-$25 (88 pts.)
  • 2011 Domaine Marius Delarche Pernand-Vergelesses - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Pernand-Vergelesses
    Red fruit, spice and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied with lively acidity and cherry, raspberry, spice and mineral flavors. Medium finish. Retail-$25 (87 pts.)
  • 2011 Faiveley Monthélie Les Champs-Fulliot - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Monthélie
    Aromatic cherry, earth, and mineral flavors. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and well-structured with a silky texture, dusty tannins, and cherry, and mineral flavors. Long finish. Retail-$39 (90 pts.)
  • 2011 Domaine Marius Delarche Corton-Renardes - France, Burgundy, Côte de Beaune, Corton Grand Cru
    Exuberant red fruit aromas. On the palate it’s between medium and full-bodied, harmonious, and persistent with a silky texture. It shows beautiful red fruit, spice, and mineral flavors. Long finish. Retail-$70 (92 pts.)

The tasting was a wonderful introduction to Côte d’Or (really Côte de Beaune since only one wine was from Côte de Nuits).  My takeaways were as follows:

  • I was pleasantly surprised to know that there are some very good options available for less than $25.
  • I very much enjoyed the white Burgundies. In fact, more than I enjoy most California Chardonnay I’ve tried.  Will buy more!
  • On the other hand, only the last two red Burgundies, which were $65-$70 would make me think about giving up the California and Oregon Pinot Noir I enjoy.  In general, I found them to be a bit too lean for my palate (granted they may be better with food than on their own as tasted).
  • It can be a challenge to make an informed buying decision due to the complexities of Burgundy associated with the fragmentation of vineyards, and the tremendous diversity of styles and quality from vintage to vintage (which is why I love tastings such as this one).

Bottom line?  I’d buy the whites in a heart beat! The reds? – I have my doubts about the Burgundy value proposition.  While I’m sure I could find some red Burgundy that I enjoy as much, if not more than those of  California, Oregon, or even perhaps New Zealand, I’m afraid I’d have to spend way more to do so. 

Related post 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.

T.G.I.F. Champagne And The Like…NV Mionetto Cartizze Prosecco

I drink more than my fair share of sparkling wine.  By my count, last year I enjoyed 50-60 bottles of sparkling wine.  Which type of sparkling wine I chose is driven by my mood, the food, and my budget.  I tend to like Cava, and Prosecco for my “weeknight” sparklers, while enjoying more expensive sparkling wines, and Champagne for special occasions, or on the weekends.

What I enjoy about Prosecco is that it tends to be a bit fruitier, less demanding (no significant contemplation needed), and lower in alcohol than Champagne and other sparkling wines.  That’s because its secondary fermentation takes place in a stainless steel pressurized tank, rather than individual bottles. Nor is Prosecco aged, which is what gives sparklers that undergo secondary fermentation in individual bottles their complexity (click here for a great explanation of how sparklers are produced).

For many years Prosecco was used to describe both the grape, and the region where the grape are grown.  In mid 2009, Italian wine regulations were revised to clearly state that Prosecco was no longer to be classified as a grape, but a region that was clearly delimited.  There are two such regions classified as a DOCG, the highest status for Italian wines.  Additionally, there are at least eight regions classified as DOC, the next to highest status for Italian Wines.  Nowadays, the grape is known as Glera.

This wine is produced from grapes grown in the Cartizze DOCG, a sub-zone of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene.  The hill of Cartizze is 107 hectares, which is divided amongst 140 small growers. Renowned throughout the region for the quality of its fruit, it one of the world’s most expensive bits of vineyard real estate. And it produces relatively minuscule amounts of fruit.  Of the approximately 150 million bottles of Prosecco produced annually, only about 1.4 million bottles originate from Cartizze.  It can certainly be considered to be the grand cru of Prosecco.

The producer, Mionetto is the importer of the best-selling brand of Prosecco in the US.  They have been making Prosecco since 1887!

NV Mionetto Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze Dry (Photo courtesy of Mionetto)

NV Mionetto Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze Dry

Region: ItalyVenetoProsecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze

Variety –  Glera

Residual Sugar – 2.5%

11% a.b.v. Retails for about $25

Production method: Methodo Italiano (Bulk Charmat)

My tasting notes follow:

Very light straw color with pretty floral, stone fruit, and cracker aromas. On the palate, fresh, fruity ,and approaching medium bodied with moderately creamy mousse, and extra dry-ish with honey, clementine, and a touch of stone fruit flavors. Medium finish.

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This was very nice as an aperitif, and just as nice with food.  I enjoyed with spicy Cioppino. Pair with shellfish, or this sparkler has enough sweetness to pair with a light dessert like cream puffs, or fruit tart.

If you want to try upscale Prosecco, this one is a good place to start. This one was a gift from a friend in the wine business (Thanks John!).  I’m glad I tried it, but at $25 or so a bottle I can’t recommend – 89pts   (Click here to find this wine) 

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