Wine of the Week; 2001 Joseph Phelps Insignia

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.  Or for this week, an outstanding wine – the 2001 Joseph Phelps Insignia.

The Winery

In the late 1960’s, Joseph Phelps was running one of the largest construction companies in the U.S., Hensel Phelps Construction Company, when he won the bid to build Souverain Winery (now Rutherford Hill) located a few miles outside of St. Helena. Enamored with the beautiful Napa Valley and contemplating a career change, in 1973 Joe bought the 600-acre Connolly cattle ranch in Spring Valley, and began planting vineyards and construction of a winery. The first harvest in 1973 yielded Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Johannisburg Riesling bottlings, all custom crushed at nearby wineries. The Joseph Phelps winery was completed in 1974 in time for harvest, crushing grapes for the first Insignia and the first Syrah bottlings.  Click here for more history.

Today, Joseph Phelps sources their fruit 100% from their estate vineyards.  Estate vineyards include the Spring Valley Home Ranch outside of St. Helena, Banca Dorada in Rutherford, Backus Vineyard in Oakville, Las Rocas and Barboza vineyards in Stags Leap, Yountville Vineyard in Oak Knoll, Suscol Vineyard in South Napa and beginning with the 2011 growing season, Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard in Carneros.

The Wine

Insignia, the flagship wine of Joseph Phelps was first produced in 1974.  Four decades later it is recognized as one of the world’s great wines. Thirty-one of thirty-seven vintages have been rated 90 or more points by various wine publications, including three perfect 100 point scores for the 1991, 1997 and 2002 vintages from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate in Mr. Parker’s Historical Tasting of Insignia report.

Insignia is the first proprietary Bordeaux-style blend produced in California.

The 2001 vintage is a blend of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec primarily from estate-owned vineyards in Stags Leap and Rutherford, with additional fruit coming from independent growers. The grapes were harvested at an average 24.8° Brix, fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged 22 months in 100% new French oak barrels. 13.9% alcohol

We opened this wine for this year’s Open That Bottle Night was last Saturday.  Open That Bottle Night, created by former Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, and is the one night a year that we are all encouraged to get out that bottle of wine that is so special that no occasion seems special enough to actually open it.

My wife and I hosted 3 other couples, each of whom brought along their own special bottle of wine.  I pulled out this bottle (which was a gift from my very generous boss) simply because it was an older vintage than the bottle I’d been considering for weeks.

We sat down to a wonderful dinner of Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs.  The other reds we enjoyed were a mature Bordeaux – a 1986 Chateau Meyney, and the 2008 Silver Oak Napa Valley.

I decanted this bottle about 2 hours before dinner, and the Meyney was decanted for about 3 hours.

It wasn’t even close.  This bottle “kicked ass and took names”!  It was the unanimous favorite!

JP Insignia

My tasting notes follow:

Nearly opaque garnet color with exuberant black cherry, blackberry, black currant, cedarwood, espresso aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, surprisingly fresh and well-balanced with silky sweet tannins. It shows ample mouth-filling fruit with waves of blackberry, cassis, espresso and a bit of mineral flavors. Long finish.

Rating: A:  A simply stunning bottle of wine that should reward further cellaring. In fact, my wife and I were still talking about its aromas, flavor, complexity and mouth feel 3 days later!

Pair with: It was fantastic with the Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs!

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
Other posts you might enjoy

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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.

DIY Super Tuscan

I recently received an interesting wine sample from Castello di Amorosa.  The sample included their flagship Super Tuscan – La Castellana, along with three 2012 barrel samples, and a pipette.

photo 1 (1)

I featured the prior 2008 vintage of La Castellan as my Wine of the Week last year, so I’m pretty stoked about trying the 2009!  In the meanwhile, my wife and I eagerly welcomed the chance to create our Super Tuscan blend from the three barrel sample provided by Castello di Amorosa!

If you’re not familiar with a Super-Tuscan, simply put, it’s a blend of Sangiovese and Bordeaux grape varieties (primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot).  There are generally two kinds – those that are dominated by Sangiovese, or those dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (for story behind how the term “Super Tuscan” was created as told by Sebastiano Rosa  of Sassicaia fame, click here).

The term “Super Tuscan” describes any Tuscan red wine that does not adhere to traditional blending laws for the region

The three 2012 barrel samples, all sourced from the Napa Valley, were Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, Carneros Merlot, and Diamond Mountain.

photo 2

The first thing I did was taste the wines individually before we started our “blending trials” at “Castello di Redmond”, so I could get a sense of what each wine would add to the blend.  Here are my quick notes on each:

  • 2012 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon – Muted red fruit and vanilla aromas; fruity dark cherry, red currant, and a bit of vanilla flavors. along with some . A bit tannic, fine length and the most pronounced flavor profile especially on the front and mid palate. I got a sense of some Rutherford dust too!
  • 2012 Carneros Merlot – Fresh with black and blue fruit aromas.  Less fruity and surprisingly more tannic than the Cab with a slightly bitter taste on the back palate; plumper than the Sangiovese
  • 2012 Diamond Mountain Sangiovese – Most aromatic of the three with red fruit, leather and earth aromas; Medium+ acidity; candied cherry flavor. My favorite of the three wines on a standalone basis.

photo 3

After tasting through the wines individually, we got busy blending!

The first thing I have to say is that controlling the exact amount of wine released from the pipette can be tricky!  Once I got that down, we created four blends:

  1. 70% Sangiovese/20% Cab/10% MerlotCherry, vanilla, earth aromas that echoed on the palate; medium+ acidity, dusty tannins and fine length. 
  2. 80% Cab/10%Sangiovese/10% MerlotCassis, cherry, earth aromas that echoed on the palate; medium acidity, fine length; less vanilla aroma/flavor than #1
  3. One-third each Cab, Merlot and Sangiovese – Earth, cherry, and vanilla aromas, that echo on the palate; slightly hot on the nose, shortest finish and mid-palate lacking.
  4. 50% Sangiovese/25% each Cab and Merlot - Fruitier, and more tannic than both #1 and #2, cassis, cherry, oak aromas; medium+ acidity, cherry, cassis flavors, shorter finish than #1 and #2

The results

Blend #1 edged out blend #2 for top honors. Initially, my wife favored #2, but eventually came around to saying #1 was her favorite.  Wine number #4 was third and #3 was our least favorite.

My takeaways

Blending is can be big fun (um…once you get control of the pipette;-), but I came away from the experience with a new-found appreciation for the discipline and rigor involved with blending. Like some many other aspects of winemaking, It’s part science, part art.

The benefits of blending we readily apparent to me.  The sample wines blended together tasted better than they did individually.  The blended wines also seemed more balanced.  At least that was the case with blends #1, and #2 for me.  Not so much for #3 and #4.  While still enjoyable, I didn’t find those blends as enjoyable as the Sangiovese or Cab individually.

And finally, from the “actions speak louder than words” perspective, after our blending trials we had some leftovers of all three wines.  The first to disappear was the Sangiovese!

Wine provided as a sample for review.  Many thanks to Castello di Amorosa

Related post you might enjoy:

Wine of the Week; 2008 Castello di Amorosa La Castellana

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; 2007 Caymus 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 2007 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Winery

Caymus Vineyards, a family owned winery, is one of Napa Valley’s many iconic Cabernet Sauvignon producers.  The winery is owned by the Wagner family who have been Napa-based in the Rutherford appellations since 1906 following the San Francisco earthquake.  They started planting vineyards that same year.  For many years they grew they own grapes for use in bulk wines.  In 1941 the family purchased 70 acres of prime vineyard in Rutherford, but it took another 20 years before they started seriously planting high-quality grapevines on land that had been a fruit ranch. They continued farming vineyards until the winery was eventually launched.

In 1971 Charles F. (Charlie) Wagner and his wife Lorna Belle Glos Wagner asked their son Charles J. (Chuck) Wagner, who had just graduated from high school, if he would be interested in joining them in starting up a winery. If Chuck declined the offer, Charlie and Lorna were planning to sell out of their ranch in Napa Valley and move to Australia. Chuck accepted his parents’ offer to launch the winery, Caymus Vineyards.

The Wagner’s produced their first vintage in 1972 producing 240 cases of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Caymus Vineyards took its name from the original Mexican land grant known as Rancho Caymus, awarded to George Young in 1836.  The grant encompassed land that eventually became the town of Rutherford.

Caymus produces two Cabernet Sauvignon, their top of the line Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, and their Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  Both bottlings have been very consistent over the years garnering 90+ scores from Wine Spectator, with this bottling being scored less than 90 points only twice in the last twenty years.  And the Caymus Special Selection is the only wine in history to be named “Wine of the Year”.  In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon, Caymus also produces a Napa Valley Zinfandel, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Unlike many iconic Napa Valley Cabs which must be purchased on faith because they’re not available for tasting, Caymus offers a sit-down tasting hosted by their “wine educator” featuring four Caymus Vineyards wines, including the current release of Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.   The tastings run $30.

Over the years, the family has expanded its holdings to include Mer Soleil, Belle Glos, Meiomi, and Conundrum.

The Wine

Grapes for this wine are sourced from multiple AVAs throughout Napa Valley and represent Napa’s geographically small but diverse terroir. It includes both mountain fruit, and fruit from the  valley floor.

2007 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon

My tasting notes follow:

Inky violet color with black currant, tobacco, blackberry, mint, cedarwood and a bit of violet aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-full bodied, focused and deftly balanced with blackcurrant, blackberry, and a hint of bittersweet chocolate flavors wrapped in sweet fine grained tannins. Long finish. – 92pts

Rating: Highly recommended.  This wine is, relatively speaking, for an iconic Napa Valley Cab producer a good value at $60.  You could easily spend more and not get the consistent quality Caymus delivers.

Pair with:  This is a rich supple wine that many will enjoy one its own. Of course, carnivores will enjoy this wine with beef, ostrich, venison, lamb or wild fowl.  Also consider with grilled dished, hearty stews, or braised ribs. It would also pair well with meaty fish like tuna or swordfish, especially grilled.

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 15%
  • Closure: Cork
  • AVA: > CaliforniaNapa Valley
  • Grape Varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cooperage: 16 months in French oak
  • Retail: $70
  • Cases produced: Unknown
  • Drink: Now-2017
  • >>Find this wine<<

Wine from the Redmond Cellar. Tasted 1/28/13

 Related posts you might enjoy:

 

 

 

Wine of the Week: 2008 Robert Keenan Winery 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 2008 Robert Keenan Winery Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Winery

Robert Keenan Winery is located in the Spring Mountain District AVA (it’s one of 16 sub-appellations of the Napa Valley AVA).  The Spring Mountain District sits on the steep terraces of the Mayacamas Mountains - well off the beaten path of Highway 29.   and high above  the Napa Valley floor at an elevation of 1,700 feet.

The site for the winery has a long history in the Napa Valley.  Robert Conradi started the first winery on site in the late 1800s, but went out of business during prohibition.  Robert Keenan, who ran his own insurance agency for 20 years before purchasing his “retirement property” –  180 acres of land in 1974.  He had an engineer redesign the original winery structure, and brought in a contractor to begin construction.

Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon were the initial grapes planted.  Their first harvest was 1977.

They recently completed a solar power system on the property to supply all of the winery’s power. As a result all their estate wines carry the “Solar Powered and Sustainably Farmed” phrase on the label.

Rightfully so, Keenan winery is proud of their track record with Robert Parker, Jr. As stated on their website…

See and taste for yourself why in the last eight vintages, 42 wines have been rated between 90 and 97 points by Robert Parker Jr.

Today, aside from the aforementioned Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay, Keenan produces Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Zinfandel and Syrah. Annual production is nearly 14,000 cases.

I’ve not had the pleasure of visiting Keenan, but after tasting this wine, it’s at the top of my list for my next visit to Napa (click here for a virtual tour of the winery)!

The Wine

The wine is mostly composed of mountain fruit from the Keenan estate, with the balance of the fruit sourced from Pope Valley.  According to Keenan…”The
Estate grown Cabernet imparts amazing concentration and remarkable structure, while the portion of Cabernet harvested from Pope Valley adds complex aromas and a balanced mid-palate.”

Robert Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley

2008 Robert Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley

My tasting notes follow:

Opaque violet color and aromatically complex with dried herb, dark fruit, graphite, and chocolate aromas. On the palate it’s intense, medium-full-bodied, and supple with dusty tannins and blueberry, cassis, dried herb, vanilla and chocolate flavors. I Vinturied, but this wine would definitely benefit from some aeration. Medium-long finish – 92pts

Rating: Highly Recommended – This is wine is a fantastic value 40 bucks!  I’ve enjoyed it  more than many Napa Valley Cabs selling for 2x or 3x the price (Opus One comes to mind it’s 5x the price of this wine)!

Pair with: Juicy red meat like steaks and chops. Of course a T-bone, or Rib-eye steak are classics, but also consider lamb chops, Korean Sizzling Beef, Shepherd’s Pie, or a  Cheddar Cheese Bacon burger!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 14.3% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • AVA: > California>> Napa Valley
  • Varietal(s): 100% Cabernet Sauvignon; 76% Estate, Spring Mtn. Dist.; 24% Pope Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Cooperage: Barrel aged in French and American Oak; 33% new.
  • Retail: $49
  • Cases produced: 2,240
  • Drink: now – 2023
  • >>Find this wine<<

This above wine was from my cellar – a gift from my very generous boss!

 

Seafood Gumbo and Wine Pairings for Soul Warming #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme is all about soul warming foods.  You know, those soups, chili, stews, and other soul warming treat we seek when the weather turns cold.

When I first saw the theme, my first thought was of “Soul Food”. I’d  bet that “Soul food” is one of those phrases that if you ask 10 people what it means, you’d get 10 different answers!  Soul Warming foods and Soul food are one in the same to me, and when I think of Soul food, the first dish that comes to mind is Gumbo!  We have a tradition in our family of making Gumbo each New Year’s day, but it’s  a soul-satisfying meal whenever there’s a chill in the air.

Since I’m a Wino with latent foodie tendencies, I decided let my foodie nature rise up, and do a dish, and wine pairings this week!

Here’s my Seafood Gumbo (we …OK make that “I”, call it “Yumbo” – lame right?..but I like it!)

Seafood Gumbo

Seafood Gumbo

For me, there are two things you’ve got to get right to make a gumbo – the “roux” (I prefer mine to be dark brownish), and you must have stock that is chock full of flavors.  Sure you could take a short-cut, and go with store-bought (I’ve done that for a  ” quick and dirty” version of this dish, but the flavors are not as complex and intense for me. If you get those couple of things “right”, it’s clear sailing thereafter!

Seafood Gumbo and Wine Pairings for Soul Warming #SundaySupper
Author: 
Recipe type: Stew
Cuisine: Cajun
Serves: 10-12
 
Adapted from Emeril’s Classic Seafood Gumbo recipe
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1½ cups finely chopped onions
  • ¾ cup finely chopped green bell peppers
  • ¾ cup finely chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • One 12-ounce bottle amber beer
  • 6 cups Shrimp and Crab Stock
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 small Dungeness crabs
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon Emeril’s Original Essence
  • 2 cups shucked oysters with their liquor
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup chopped tender green onion tops
Instructions
  1. Follow directions for cleaning and prepping crab to be cooked (click here, except remove crab legs and claws. Follow directions for Shrimp and Crab stock, except add crab shell and crab butter (roe) along with shrimp.
  2. Place an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, and add the oil. Allow the oil to heat for about 5 minutes, then add the flour to the pot. Stir the oil and flour together with a wooden spoon to form a roux. Continue to stir the roux for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the color of milk chocolate. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery to the roux and stir to blend. Stir the vegetables for 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the beer and Shrimp and Crab Stock to the pot. Season the gumbo with the thyme, bay leaves, crabs legs, Worcestershire, salt, and cayenne. Bring the gumbo to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer the gumbo for 1 hour, skimming the foam and any oil that rises to the surface.
  3. Season both the shrimp with 1½ teaspoons Essence. Stir the shrimp into the gumbo and cook for 2 minutes. Add the oysters to the pot and cook, stirring often, for an additional 5 minutes. Taste the gumbo and season if necessary.
  4. Garnish with the parsley and green onions and serve in shallow bowls over white rice.
Notes
Recommended Wine Pairings – I paired this with the Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker, a blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris. It would also pair well with Viognier, a dry Rosé, or White Zinfandel. If you elect to go with a less spicy version try a Pinot Noir!

 

Take a look at the culinary cornucopia the #SundaySupper team has put together for this week’s gathering around the #SundaySupper table! My recommended wine pairings (click on the name of the wine to find out where to purchase) are italicized.

Main Entrees: 

Pair these main dishes with Pinot Noir.  Look for the 2010 Davis Bynum Pinot Noir. It’s a silky smooth Russian River Valley Pinot Noir with a core of raspberry  and spice aromas and flavors, with caramel edge. Why it works: Pinot goes with just about everything.  It’s a white wine, in red wine clothing, which makes it incredibly flexible with dishes and methods of prep.  Pinot is sublime with poultry, and complements foods that are slow roasted, or braised.

I recommend a Chardonnay for these dishes.  Look for the 2009 MacMurray Ranch Chardonnay Sonoma Coast. It’s a medium-full bodied Chardonnay that’s undergone malolactic fermentation, that’s moderately oaked.  The oak aging brings vanilla and caramel notes to the party to go along with its ripe apple, tropical fruit and lemon cream character.  Why it works: The texture, and weight of wine complement the dish, and it has enough acidity to “cut” the dish a bit and prepare the palate for the next mouthwatering bite.

Pair this dish with a Tempranillo from Rioja Spain.  I really like the 2007 Viña Eguia Reserva. It’s shows great balance between oak and fruit with a cherry, dried herb, spice, leather and vanilla character.  Why it works: Tempranillo is an underrated food pairing partner.  It’s tends to be a light-medium bodied earthy red wine. It’s between a Pinot Noir and Cab.  It’s fruity with moderate tannins, and acidity making it a good fit for somewhat spicy fare like Spanish, Mexican and similarly spiced fare.  

Pair this classic Italian dish with Sangiovese.  Try the 2010 La Mozza I Perazzi Morellino di Scansano. It’s a blend of 85% Sangiovese, 5% Syrah, 5% Alicante, plus a couple of other indigenous Italian grape varieties from Tuscany  It shows juicy red and black berries, with some licorice and spice notes supported by soft dusty tannins.  Why it works: The food of a place and the wine of a place is always a good place to start when pairing wine and food.  On top of that, its high acidity, together with its medium-bodied character enable it to stand up to more substantial dishes.  Sangiovese is a wine that loves dished prepared with fresh herbs, rich thick soups, mushrooms and tomato based dishes

Pair this dish with an Edelzwicker, a blend of the “noble” Alsatian varietals of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris.  Look for the 2011 Navarro Vineyards Edelzwicker. It’s an aromatic white wine with a stone fruit, spice, and hint of citrus character. Why it works:  The spicy character of the wine, along with some sweetness (spicy likes sweet) and acidity make a great match!

Chili/Stews:

Pair these hearty dishes with Cabernet Sauvignon.  One of my favorites is the 2010 Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon “H3″  It’s from Washington State, and is a bold wine that delivers delightful floral, dark fruit, cocoa aromas followed by plum, black cherry, vanilla and cocoa flavors. Why it works: Cab works well with red meats, dishes with earthy, herbal elements.  This youthful wine has plenty of fruit which make it a nice complement to longer cooked meats and stews.

Try these dishes these with a Cru Beaujolais (not to be confused with Beaujolais Nouveau hitting the store shelfs soon), a wine from France made from the Gamay grape. Look for the 2010 Georges Debœuf Moulin-à-Vent with a wild red fruits, and white pepper character that a juicy easy drinker.  Why it works: Like Pinot Noir, the Gamay grape is naturally high in acidity, and is light-medium bodied with low tannins. It pair well with dishes with veggies,earthy flavors. Great picnic wine too! Er..but I digress;-)

Syrah is a good match for these hearty flavorful dishes.  I like the 2009 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Shiraz from Australia. It’s has a fruity core of black cherries, plums, baking spices, and vanilla that balanced by some oak.  Why it works: Syrah is an ample full-bodied wine that likes thicker, fuller dishes like slow braises, stews (especially tomato-based), and one-dish meals.

Pair these dishes with the Sangiovese noted above:
Pair these dishes with the Pinot Noir noted above:
Pair this dishes with the Tempranillo from Rioja noted above:

Soups:

Pair these soul-warming soups with a Sauvignon Blanc from the Pouilly-Fumé region of the Loire Valley in France. Look for the 2011 Patient Cottat “Le Grand Caillou” Sauvignon Blanc.  It has a lovely tropical fruit, citrus, spice and mineral character with a tangy acidity.  Why it works: Sauvignon Blanc with its “green” (gooseberries, lime, green olive, papaya character and a mineral component attributable to the terroir of the Loire Valley make this a good match for vegetarian soups, spicy (hot) fare, dishes with acidic ingredients.  It’s a very versatile food pairing partner in that it work nicely as a complement or a contrast.

Pair these satisfying soups with Pinot Gris.  I recommend the 2011 King Estate Pinot Gris Signature Collection from Oregon. It has juicy lemon-lime, stone-fruit, green apple, pineapple and spice character.  Why it works: Pinot Gris likes ethic foods, especially coconut-milk based curries. 

Pair the rest of the soups with the aforementioned wines as noted in parentheses:

Desserts/Beverages:

Pair this Hot Fudge Pudding Cake (That Skinny Chick Can Bake) with the Terra d’Oro Zinfandel “Port”, a dessert wine made for chocolate! I like the what the Wine Enthusiast says about it…”The first duty of a Port-style wine is to be dazzlingly rich and sweet yet balanced in acidity, and this bottling is all that. Waves of blackberry jam, cassis and dark chocolate are brightened with zesty acidity

  • White Hot Chocolate with Orange – GirliChef

Join on us on Twitter throughout the day during #SundaySupper.  And join us at 7pm EST, for our live weekly #SundaySupper chat.   All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

And be sure to check out the #SundaySupper Pinterest board. We’d love to feature your Sunday Supper Soul Warming Recipes and share them with all of our followers.

Value Alert! – Outstanding Spanish Wine For $11!

From time to time I come across a wine with a surprisingly good quality/price ratio (‘QPR”).  The 2007 Bodegas Castaño Yecla Solanera Viñas Viejas , a Spanish wine from the Yecla D.O., is such a wine.  I purchased this bottle from my favorite wine store, K&L Wine Merchants.

Not familiar with the Yecla region of Spain?  Join the club, neither was I! What I do know about Spain is that it consistently offers great value in its wines.  Whenever I look for great QPR wine, I alway start with Spanish wine!  And whenever, I find one as good as this one, and consider what it cost, I inevitably ask myself why I’m not drinking more Spanish wine! It’s a country whose wines I intend to explore more…

Yecla is a small DO ( Denominación de Origen) near the town of Yecla in the northernmost corner of the region of Murcia, not far from Spain’s east coast.  The vast majority  of vineyards are planted to Monastrell (Mourvèdre, Mataro),  Other permitted red varieties are  Garnacha TintaGarnacha TintoreraTempranilloMerlotCabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  Permitted white varieties include AirenMersegueraMacabeoMalvasia and Chardonnay.  The inclusion of grapes like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay tells me the region produces wines that are well-suited to the American palate.

The region is made up of a single district, but the local wine community divides the area into two – Yecla Campo Arriba, and  Yecla Campo Abajo.  Yecla Campo Arriba  is considered superior because  of its old vines.  Yecla was granted DO status in 1975.

Bodegas Castaño is a family run private winery that has had a winemaking presence in the region for generations.  They own about 400 hectares (approximately 10% of the DO) in four prime locations.

This wine has an excellent track record.  Previous vintages  (2001-2006) were all scored 90+ point and considered best values by the Wine Advocate and the International Wine Cellar.

2007 Bodegas Castaño Yecla Solanera Viñas Viejas

2007 Bodegas Castaño Yecla Solanera Viñas Viejas – Great QPR!

Here’s what the producer says about the wine…

“This special limited production wine is an example  of the high quality potential of the emerging Yecla region in Southern Spain.  Solanera is produced from the oldest vines of the indigenous Monastrell, along with low-yielding Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tintorera which is aged in oak for 10 months..This wine is a custom blend for Eric Solomon and is bottled unfiltered and unfined.”

My tasting notes follow:

Opaque violet color with sweet tobacco, cedarwood, sweet dark fruits, and hint of violet aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with supple tannins, and surprisingly fresh acidity with dark cherry, blackberry, blueberry, and a bit of cassis flavors. Long finish. 

 

Here’s the wine geek stuff:

Where it’s from: SpainMurciaYecla

The grapes: 65%  Monastrell (a.k.a. Mourvedre), 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Garnacha Tintorera (a.k.a. Alicante Bouschet),

Aging: Ten months in 10 months in oak; French (70%) and American oak (30%)

Age of vineyards: 40+ year old vineyards from Campo Arriba

Cost: $11

Alcohol: 14.5%

Closure: Cork

Recommendation: This is going to be a repeat purchase for me!  I highly recommend! To find this wine click here

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#Cabernet Day – In Words and in Deeds

Yesterday was #CabernetDay – a worldwide celebration of the Cabernet grape ( you do know there’s another Cabernet beyond his royal highness Cabernet Sauvignon, right?- there’s also Cabernet Franc) .  It’s a chance to get together with friends and kick it with some Cab! Since there’s hashtag you can also kick it with your friends on social media.

“A bottle of wine begs to be shared: I have never met a miserly wine lover” – Clifton Paul Fadiman

My wife and I decided to celebrate the third annual #CabernetDay by inviting some of our wine loving friends from our community wine-tasting club over.  The Evite simply stated ”We’ll open up a couple of great bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Redmond Cellar and chop it up!”

#CabernetDay – Friend, Food, and Fun!

In other words, no blind-tasting, no tasting notes – just a communion with Cab, conversation, and cuisine (okay…it wasn’t really “cuisine” it was more like carry-out, cheese and crackers but I couldn’t resist a lame attempt at an alliteration – I give myself a “C” ;-))

Of course when wine lovers get together there are plenty of words.  Certainly, there was talk of aromas, flavors, body, finishes, etc. But mostly we talked about other stuff  - like how to get rid of ants (Terro is literally “killer” ant control by the way), our kids, fun times like vacation and scaring the hell out of 5 year-olds on Halloween. And on this night, we also “chopped it up” on some “third rail” topics like politics, race, and discrimination. Interesting and intellectual indeed.

But beyond all the words, there is what we do, or as the saying goes – “Action speaks louder than words”.  So when I get together with my wine loving friends and we’ve got a bunch-o-bottles of wine from which to choose, I pay attention to which wine disappears first.  And that tells me more than the all words uttered about the wine.  In that regard, there was a clear winner last night – a wine that disappeared stunningly swiftly – Damn quick, fast and in a hurry!  More on that later.  I hereby offer my words in the form of tasting notes on the five wines we enjoyed last night.

Bottle #1

2010 Wild Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 Wild Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 Wild Horse Cabernet Sauvignon

Garnet color with baked black cherry, raspberry, and dried herb aromas. On the palate it medium-bodied with tart black cherry and vanilla flavors and dusty tannins. Medium finish – 86pts.

Varietal(s) – 99% Cabernet Sauvignon/1% Syrah; Appellation – 91% Paso Robles/9%; Cooperage – French, Hungarian and American oak-25% new; Alcohol – 13.9%; SRP-$20. Production – 30,700 cases; Media sample

Bottle #2

2010 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Dark garnet color with aromatic cassis, licorice, plum, and boxwood aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-full bodied with black raspberry, black currant, cocoa flavors. Slightly tannic. Young. Medium-long finish – 88 pts

Varietal(s) - 85% Cabernet Sauvignon/11% Merlot/3% Syrah, and 1% Malbec. Appellation – Napa Valley; Cooperage – Aged 20 months in small oak barrels (25% new) Alcohol – 13.5%; SRP – $28; Production: 117,000 cases; Media sample 

Bottle #3

2005 Ferrari-Carano Tresor Reserve

2005 Ferrari-Carano Trésor Reserve

2005 Ferrari-Carano Trésor (Reserve)

Deep garnet color with lifted dark fruit, anise, and earthy aromas. On the palate it medium-full bodied and smooth with well-integrated tannins, cassis, black cherry, and vanilla flavors. Long finish. - 91pts

Varietal(s) – 69% Cabernet Sauvignon/10% Malbec/8% Cabernet French/7% Merlot/6% Petit Verdot: Appellation – Sonoma County; Cooperage – Aged 20 months in French oak (45% new, 55% older ); Alcohol – 14.2%; SRP – $58; Production: Unknown

Bottle #4

2007 Piña Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Piña Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2007 Piña Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Cahoots

Deep garnet color with aromatic dark fruits, licorice, mint, and oak aromas. On the palate it’s full-bodied with well-integrated “Rutherford Dust”tannins, good acidity and ripe cherry, blueberry, and cocoa flavors. Long finish. 15.2% alcohol.

Varietal(s) - 100% Cabernet Sauvignon; Appellation – Napa Valley; Cooperage: Aged 18 months in French oak (50% new); Alcohol – 15.2%; SRP – $45; Production: 260 cases

Bottle #5

2008 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Estate

2008 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Estate

2008 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Estate

Carmine color with beguiling cassis, anise, and violet aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, balanced, and fresh blueberry, cherry, vanilla flavors with well-integrated tannins. Medium-long finish. 

Varietal(s) – 75% Cabernet Sauvignon/20% Merlot/3% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc; Appellation – Santa Cruz Mountains; Cooperage - 100% air-dried american oak barrels; (40% new, 50% one year old, and 10% two years old). 20 months in barrel; Alcohol – 13.5%; SRP – $38; Production: unknown

There were 9 tasters, 5 of which I would consider “hard-core” wine lovers.  We enjoyed all the wines.  But as I stated earlier there was one wine that disappeared more quickly than all the rest….

2008 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Estate

It was the clear winner in that regard.  Next fastest was the 2007 Piña, followed by the 2005 F-C Trésor, the 2010 Wild Horse, and the 2010 Franciscan Estate. For the value, the majority of the tasters preferred the Wild Horse.

It was a great evening great evening with friends, wine and food!  Let’s do it again next month for the #PinotSmackdown!

Other stuff you might like:

What A #CabernetDay!! Library Tasting of Monte Bello and SCM Estate at Ridge Vineyards

 

2006 Seghesio Omaggio-Wine Of The Week

My Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for August 12th-August 18th  is the 2006 Seghesio Omaggio

The Winery

Seghesio Family Vineyards is a Sonoma County winery located in Healdsburg.   It was founded in 1895 by Italian immigrants Edoardo and Angela Seghesio.   They purchased  a 4 acre vineyard and built a winery in 1902.   Today, Seghesio owns a collection of estate vineyards composed 160 acres located in Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley.   The winery is run by the 3rd and 4th generation Seghesio family members.  It was sold to Napa-based Crimson Wine Group last year.  CEO Peter Seghesio, and his cousin, winemaker Ted Seghesio , stayed on after the acquisition.  They produce approximately 100,000 cases annually.  They are best known for their Zinfandel, but they also produce Pinot Noir, and various Italian varietals including, Sangiovese, Arneis, Barbera, and Pinot Grigio.

I was introduced to Seghesio several years ago, when my wife and I were to Healdsburg a few times a year.   We purchased this wine in 2009.  Frankly, I’m surprised we were able to hold on to it for 3 years!

I must say that Seghesio puts on some great events. My wife and I attended the 2010 Chef’s Harvest event.  It was a great event where learned the about the versatility of Zinfandel with a variety of world cuisines.  And last year when we attended Passport to Dry Creek Valley, it was one of our favorite stop. If you’re in Healdsburg, you must drop in!

The Wine

“Omaggio,” is Italian for homage.  The wine is a tribute to the founders.  This “Super-Tuscan” blend was initially released in 1995 for Seghesio’s centennial harvest.  It’s been produced annually since, with the exception of the 2000 vintage.

This a flagship wine produced from their best blocks of estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese grapes grown on their Home Ranch Vineyard in Alexander Valley.  The grapes were hand-harvested, and each lot went through the “saignée” (pronounced “sonyay”) process, whereby some grape juice is bled off prior to fermentation.  The level of tannins and color is intensified in the remaining juice.  The wine is aged 18 months in French oak barrels, a third fo which are new.

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My tasting notes follow:

Dark garnet color with dark fruit, anise, vanilla, cedarwood, and a hint of dark chocolate aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, well-balanced with very good acidity and black cherry, black currant, vanilla, and clove flavors. Medium-long finish. When I tasted at the winery a couple of years ago, it was a little hot, but it’s drinking very nicely now! - 90pts

Recommendation: This was an outstanding wine.  It’s definitely ready to drink now. Pair with Shepherd’s Pie, Veal Parmesan, Osso Buco, or a steak!

Details: 

Alcohol: 15%

Closure: Cork

AVA:  CaliforniaSonoma CountySonoma Valley

Varietal(s): Cabernet Sauvignon (~60%) and Sangiovese (~40%).

Production: 500 cases

Suggested Retail: $60 USD

Wine Words Demystified: Cépage

You know the deal; the more some folks learn about a topic, the more shortcuts/slang/acronyms/initials/technical jargon can be tossed around.  I’m here to help you understand those sometimes mysterious words and phrases, thus - Wine Words Demystified!

This week’s word is Cépage…

According to Karen MacNeil‘s The Wine Bible:

Cépage means grape variety. The so-called cépages nobles – are those that consistently make fine wine, such as cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir or chardonnay

Perhaps you’re wondering what the noble grapes are.  According to Wikipedia…

The white noble grapes were Sauvignon BlancRiesling, and Chardonnay. The red noble grapes were Pinot NoirCabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.

Hmmm…now my inquiring mind is wondering…what is the most planted wine grape in the world (which by the way is  a very different question that “what is the most widely planted grape in the world?”…

Cabernet Sauvignon

…the most widely planted grape in the world is the Thompson seedless grape.

Take the quiz below.  I’ll reveal the answer in the comments section.

Cheers!

Wine Of The Week: Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Merlot

My Wine of the Week (“WoW”) for July 21-July 27 is the 2009 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Merlot.

The Winery

The Robert Mondavi Winery was established in 1966 by Robert Mondavi, one of the most influential and esteemed winemakers in California history (Click here for his story).  It was the first major winery built in Napa Valley, and for decades was California’s most famous winery.  It was acquired by Constellation Brands in 2004.

It’s a beautiful property with classic California mission-style architecture, with the expansive archway and bell tower.  I must confess, I haven’t been in a long time.  I recall visiting one of my first trips to Napa.  Nowadays, I tend to visit the smaller wineries.  But after tasting this wine, and their Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve (see post below), I’m going to have to drop by next time I go to Napa!

The Wine

The grapes for this wine are sourced from vineyards throughout Napa Valley including a couple of Napa’s iconic vineyards, To Kalon, and Wappo Hill ( 73% Stags Leap District (including 38% Wappo Hill Vineyard); 15% To Kalon Vineyard; 12% Napa Carneros)

What struck me most about this wine is  how well-balanced it is.  That’s the exception rather than the rule at its price point of $23!

2009 Robert Mondavi Winery Merlot

My tasting notes follow:

Deep garnet color with cassis, cedarwood, and hints of tobacco aromas. On the palate it’s light-medium bodied,well-balanced with fine-grained tannins, cassis, black cherry, blueberry flavors. Medium finish – 88pts

Recommendation: Highly recommended. It’s a nice value at $23!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 14.9% alcohol.

Closure: Cork.

AVA:  >CaliforniaNapa Valley

Varietal(s): 93% Merlot; 3% Cabernet Franc; 2% Cabernet Sauvignon; 2% Malbec

Cooperage: Aged in French Oak for 14 months

Retail: $23

Cases produced: Unknown

Media Sample

Many thanks to Folsom & Associates for providing the wine.