Wine of the Week;2008 Iron Horse Brut

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 Iron Horse Vineyards Classic Vintage Brut.

The Winery

Iron Horse Vineyards is a small, independent, estate, family owned wineries located in cool, foggy Green Valley in western Sonoma County. The founding partners, Audrey and Barry Sterling first saw it in the pouring rain in February 1976. Driving down Ross Station Road, they were sure they were lost until they crested the knoll and the view opened up to 300 acres of gentle rolling hills and a wall of trees behind that looked like Camelot to them. Incurable romantics, and having extraordinary vision, they bought the property in just two weeks.

Iron Horse is truly a family affair. Audrey and Barry’s daughter Joy Sterling is the CEO and lives at the foot of the vineyard.  The Sterlings’ son Laurence, his wife Terry and their children moved to Iron Horse in 1990 and built their home on the far southwest corner of the property. Laurence is Director of Operations. Audrey and Barry are retired, but still reside at the heart of the estate in the original Victorian built in 1876

Iron Horse is best known for their sparkling wines, but they also produce elegant estate-bottled Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Green Valley in the coolest, foggiest part of the Russian River Valley, just 13 miles from the Pacific as the crow flies. There are approximately 160 acres in vine, planted exclusively to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – with gentle, rolling hills, and a spectacular view from the winery clear across Sonoma County to Mount St. Helena.  The land was once under water many millions of years ago, and the soils is full of marine sediment and fossil. In this regard the area is similar to Chablis and Champagne in France. And the soils are perfectly suited to growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which dominate the AVA.

The Iron Horse name came from a train that cut across the property in the 1890s. The logo, the rampant horse on a weather vane, came from a 19th century weather vane found while clearing away the rubble to build the winery.

Whenever, we’re in Sonoma County Iron Horse is on our short list of “must visit” wineries. It’s a beautiful property, with what is essentially an outdoor tasting room.   We love to grab of glass of bubbly, or one of their still wines, and sit on one of the benches that overlook the property, and simply savor the view.   Drop by on a Sunday if you can, the Oyster Girls will be serving up Tomales Bay oysters shucked to order raw or barbecued.

The Wine

Fruit for the base wine was hand-harvested.  It’s a blend of 72% Pinot Noir and 28% that was aged, sur lie for over almost four years.  The dosage includes 2007 Rued Clone Chardonnay and 2010 Thomas Road Pinot Noir.

Retail – $38; Alcohol – 13.5%; Production – 2,300 cases; Disgorged – April 2013

Wine of the Week; 2008 Iron Horse Vineyard Classic  Vintage Brut

My tasting notes follow:

Very pale straw color with very active pin prick sized bubbles, and brioche, citrus zest, and a bit of hazelnut aromas. On the palate it sports a delicate mousse, explosive freshness, and tart apple, citrus, and ginger flavors, with an appealing minerality I’ve come to associate with Green Valley fruit. Lengthy satisfying finish.  >>Find this wine<<

Rating: A-:  An outstanding bottle of sparkling wine that world class!

Pair with: Raw oysters with mignonette or course!  But this is a the quintessential sparkling wine for food. Why not try with  Buttermilk fried chicken and biscuits, or a savory Mushroom and Gruyere Cheesecake!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail

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

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

Wine of the Week: 2011 Thierry & Pascale Matrot Bourgogne Blanc

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine of the Week is the 2011 Thierry & Pascale Matrot Bourgogne Blanc.

The Winery

Domaine Matrot is one of the oldest estate-bottlers in Burgundy. It has been distributed in the U.S. for more than 30 years.  The Domaine is owned by Thierry Matrot and his wife, Pascale.  Thierry and Pascale’s daughters represent the sixth generation of this wine-growing family.

They farm about 75% of its 45 acres in some of the best vineyard sites in the heart of Burgundy, in the Cote d’Or, just outside of  Meursault, a large village in the Cote de Beaune.  The average age of the vines farmed is about 30 years.

They produce a wide range of other Chardonnay including many premier cru bottlings, along with Aligote and a hand-full of Pinot Noir.

The Wine

I was introduced to this wine at a  La Paulée tasting at my favorite wine store, K&L Wine Merchants, last month (For more on that tasting click here).  Up to that point, my experience with Burgundy was fairly limited.  I felt as if something was missing from my oenophile resume.  After all, Burgundy is one of the most historic and respected  wine regions in the world!  And let’s not forget, it can be crazy expense (which why my experience was limited).  However, more reasonably priced gems may be found in Burgundy.  It just takes a bit of effort, and you’ll be rewarded handsomely.

This fabulous buy is a rare find from the super-premium world of Burgundy

This wine is 100% Chardonnay,  sourced from vineyards averaging 30 years of age.  It was fermented on native yeast for 8 to 10 weeks in oak barrels, 15 to 20 % of which are new. It was aged for 11 months and undergoes complete malolactic fermentation.

Interestingly, Matrot uses this wine to break in new oak casks for his more expensive and prestigious Meursault.

Retail – $18; Alcohol – 12.5; Drink now to 2016.

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My tasting notes follow:

Pale lemon yellow color with pear, citrus and a hint of white flower aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, focused, and fresh with a rich, wonderful mouth feel and apple, pear and citrus flavors and an appealing minerality. Medium+ finish. >>Find this wine<<

Rating: B+: On the verge of Excellent, this wine offered the best value in the tasting, especially considering the bottles I enjoyed marginally more were $65-$70!.  I just had to pick up some more!

Pair with:  Enjoy as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to charcuterie, chicken and grilled fish.

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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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…

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 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:

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  • 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.)

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  • 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:

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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.

TGIF Bubbly; J Cuvée 20 Brut

My wife and I usually make it a point to drink sparkling wine on a weekly basis.  It’s typically Friday night…thus “T.G.I.F. Bubbly”  It’s a celebration of sort, to the end of the work week. And hey we love bubbly…so why wait for a special occasion? This week’s selection is the J Vineyards and Winery J Cuvée 20 Brut.

The Winery

J Vineyards and Winery is an independently owned winery located in Healdsburg, California.  It was founded in 1986 by Founder and President, Judy Jordan.

The winery focuses primarily on sparkling wines (Brut and Brut Rosé) , as well as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris produced from estate grapes mostly farmed within the Russian River Valley appellation in Sonoma County.

J Vineyards and Winery is a state-of-the-art facility that
houses, in essence, two wineries under one roof—
J sparkling wine and J varietal wines.

It’s been a number of years since I’ve visited, and the last time I did, we opted for a flight of sparkling wine.  I’m going to have to check out their still wines, which I’ve heard nothing but good thing about. The winery itself is a great place to visit.  It’s got a cool vibe, and some fun options for tasting.

In addition to aforementioned wines, J also produces Viognier, Pinot Meunier, and Pinotage still wines, along with two dessert wines.

The Wine

The J Cuvée 20 Brut is J Vineyard and Winery’s signature wine.  The cuvée was created to celebrate J’s 20th anniversary.

The grapes for this cuvée (blend) were hand harvested into small quarter-ton bins and whole cluster pressed in J’s special Coquard press.  Juice from each lot is fermented separately, and the lots remain separate until blending.

After secondary fermentation in the bottle, the wine is aged an average of two years in the cellar.

Cuvee20Product220x680

J Cuvée 20 Brut NV. Image courtesy of J Vineyards and Winery

At it’s $28 price point, it competes with some entry-level Champagne, and it stands up to the competition quite well. Thank you!

My tasting notes follow:

Pale golden-yellow color with an explosive mousse and yeasty, lemon, honeysuckle aromas. On the palate, it’s between light and medium-bodied with a soft mousse, and apple, lemon, and a bit of pear and ginger flavors with a mineral undertone. Medium-long, clean finish.

Rating:  A- 

Pair with:  Sparkling wines are excellent foods wines (not just a sipper for celebrations).  Pair this with triple creme cheeses, oysters, and shellfish dishes, Chicken Pot Pie, Fish and Chips or Ham and Manchego Cheese Sandwich with Tomato Jam.

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 12.5% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • Where it’s from: > Sonoma County>Russian River Valley
  • Grape varieties: 54% Chardonnay, 44% Pinot Noir, 2% Pinot Meunier
  • Production method: Methode Champenoise
  • Dosage: Brut
  • Retail: $28
  • Drink: Now

Sample purchased for review

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

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

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

Wine Pairing Recommendations For Global Street Food #SundaySupper

This week’s #SundaySupper theme is all about Global Street Food. You know – that ready-to-eat food served up at mobile street carts, food trucks, movable market stalls, and food parks.

One of the things I love about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is its diversity.  It’s a (mostly) delightful, if sometimes quirky mash-up of ethnicities, cultures, politics, religions, you name it.  The gastronomic scene reflects that diversity.  Name a cuisine and you can find it in the Bay Area.  And of course

And of course, there are a multitude of opportunities to sample street food in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Off The Grid, SOMA Street Food Park, among many others.

One of my favorites is Sanguchon, a Peruvian Food Truck that serves a killer pulled pork sandwich. I usually get it with yucca fries.

Many local wineries have gotten in on the act, none more so that Rock Wall Wine Company, which regularly hosts “Food Truck Frenzy” with 6-8 gourmet food trucks, a DJ, and plenty of their award-winning wines.

Yes…wine goes with damn near anything.

Especially street foods from around the world.

Global Street Food #SundaySupper

Rock Wall Wine Food Truck Frenzy – Image courtesy of Rock Wall Wine Company

Global street food deserves a global wine selection.  My wine pairing recommendations include wines from Argentina, France, Germany, Italy, and California

My wine pairing recommendations  and this weeks slate of scrumptious #SundaySupper street eats follow (click on the name of the wine to find):

Pair these dishes with sparkling wine.  One of my favorites is Scharffenberger Brut Excellence.  It’s a great value that’s a blend of 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay with a full-bodied golden apple, ginger and honey character.  And remember sparkling wines are one of the most friendly wines there is!

Pair these dishes with a Pinot Blanc, a white grape variety that is a mutation of Pinot Noir. The first time I had it with food prepared with typical Indian food spices I was skeptical, but Pinot Blanc and such dishes rock! Look for the 2011 Paul Black Pinot Blanc d’Alsace from France.  It opens up with appealing apple, lemon and ginger aromas that follow on the palate with a lively mouthfeel, a kiss of tropical fruit and mineral undertone.

Pair these dishes with a wine made from the Torrontés grape variety, Argentina’s only indigenous grape.  Look for the 2011 Bodegas Colomé “Estate” Torrontés Valle Calchaquí Salta.

One of the tried, tested and mostly found true tenets of wine and food pairing is that “Riesling goes with anything”.  Arguably Riesling is the most versatile white wine at the table. That’s certainly the case this week.  Pair this diverse range of dishes with an off-dry Riesling.  I like the 2011 Von Hovel Oberemmeier Hutte Riesling Kabinett (is that a mouthful or what?).  It has a stone fruit, tropical fruit, sweet lime, and spice character and racy acidity.

Pair these dishes with a dry Rosé, a very versatile partner at the table.  Look for the 2012 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare. This an atypical Rosé in that it’s a blend of  both red and white Rhône grape varieties.  A typical Rosé is composed of solely red grape varieties.  It has an appealing strawberry, white peach, melon, spice and mineral character.

Pair these dishes with Chianti, the classic Italian red wine. Look for the 2011 Coltibuono Cetamura Chianti.  It’s a blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo with a beautiful black cherry, spice, and licorice character with a kiss of rusticity.

Pair these dishes with Malbec, or more specifically, a blend of Malbec and Tannat, a little known grape variety, that today is best known as the national red grape variety of Uruguay.  Look for the 2011 Domingo Molina Hermanos Malbec-Tannat from Argentina. It’s a dark and delicious full-bodied wine with a blackberry, plum, and chocolate character with soft texture and a mineral undertone.

Pair these sweet treats with Banyuls, a lighter style fortified wine made in France.  It’s a Port-style wine made from Grenache, and is a great match for chocolate.  Look for the 2009 Les Clos de Paulilles Banyuls Rimage.  It has rich, dense blackberry, plum, caramel, and vanilla aromas and flavors. 

Pair sweet treats with Moscato d’ Asti. I like the 2012 Vietti Cascinetta Moscato d’Asti.  It has a lovely rose, and peach character with a soft effervescence.

Pair these sweet treats with the 2011 von Hovel Riesling noted above:

Let’s hit the pavement this Sunday in search of the best street food from around the globe!  Join us for a #SundaySupper event featuring Global Street Food that we’ve made in our own kitchens, in honor of our favorites and/or those we would love to try! We’ll also be holding our live #SundaySupper twitter chat at 7pm (ET) on Sunday evening.  We’d love to have you join us as we discuss the best and the worst of Global Street Food!

Wente Vineyards Homegrown Concert Series – Good music, good wine and good friends!

One of my favorite summer time activities is listening to live music at a winery. There’s just something special about the collective experience that makes listening to live music, on beateous winery grounds, with  loved ones, food, and a few glasses of wine, more that the sum of its parts . The challenge can be, that these days, the price of admission to such experiences is more expensive than ever.  Enter…the Wente Vineyards Homegrown Concert series!

As part of Wente Vineyards’ ongoing support of new independent music, Karl Wente, Fifth Generation Winemaker at Wente Vineyards, presents an annual  showcase of local Bay Area musical talent called The Front Porch presents Homegrown.  Wente, who was recently named to the Wine Enthusiast Top 40 Winemakers Under 40, is also a talented musician. He and the Wente family have long been avid proponent of the pairing of music,food and wine.

You’re probably familiar with the Concerts at Wente Vineyards, featuring big time names like Martina McBrideHuey Lewis and the News, and Chicago. I’ve attended a few and it’s always been a great experience.  There’s no doubt about the value in my mind, but the tickets are pricey (in the $100 range at the low end).

On the other hand, tickets for the Homegrown series, which I recently had the opportunity to attend (as a media guest), are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Here’s the deal – You bring your own blankets and chairs, and enjoy your own picnic dinner or a purchase snack and meals there, all the while enjoying live music in a beautiful setting in the heart of Livermore Valley!

The show I attended featured Wolf Hamlin & The Front Porch Drifters (click here for videos), plus the Tumbleweed Wanderers (click here for videos). The concert was scheduled from 6:00 PM (5:00 PM doors) to 9:00 PM

The event is held at the Wente Vineyards Estate Winery on the beautiful grounds adjacent to the Tasting Room…

Wente Vineyards Homegrown Concert Series - Good music, good wine and good friends!

It was an absolutely beautiful day…warm, sunny and in the 80′s with a bit of a cool breeze… Perfect!

Wente Vineyards Homegrown Concert Series - Good music, good wine and good friends!

Bocce ball anyone?

Wente Vineyards Homegrown Concert Series - Good music, good wine and good friends!

We arrived about 5,  so we pretty much had our choice of a prime location…

Wente Vineyards Homegrown Concert Series - Good music, good wine and good friends!

It filled in nicely by time the show got started…

Wente Vineyards Homegrown Concert Series - Good music, good wine and good friends!

Bring your own food, or if you don’t, there’s plenty of good eats available!

Wente Vineyards Homegrown Concert Series - Good music, good wine and good friends!

Wolf Hamlin & The Front Porch Drifters – Including (front far left – Karl Wente)

The first act was Wolf Hamlin & The Front Porch Drifters, putting down their signature modern American Outlaw music!

Wente Vineyards Homegrown Concert Series - Good music, good wine and good friends!

And there of course is plenty of my favorite adult beverage to be had!

Wente10

After intermission, it was time for Tumbleweed Wanderers to do their thing!…

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Oh by the way…this wine…the 2011 Nth Degree Chardonnay was my wine of the night. It’s a limited production, full-bodied, but beautifully balanced wine that’s gets an “A” in my book!

Wente9

As dusk fell the Tumbleweed Wanderers were putting in down big time..

Wente12

…and by the time the show as coming to a close, they brought the crowd to their feet!

We had a great time!  It was truly a memorable evening.  The weather was perfect, with fantastic live music, in a gorgeous setting, with  loved ones, wonderful food, and award-winning wine. Yup! A great time was had by all.  I heartily recommend The Front Porch presents Homegrown series.  Wanna check it out? Great! There are two more shows coming up…

  • Saturday, August 3rd; 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. – featuring The Wheeland Brothers and Wolf Hamlin and The Front Porch Drifters.  Tickets $15 in advance; $20 at the door.
  • Saturday, August 31st; 2:00 – 9:00 p.m. – featuring the Front Porch Festival, a mini Outside Lands’ style music festival featuring nationally acclaimed artists from around the country.  You can sample foods from various vendors in shaded picnic areas and enjoy bands performing on two stages . Tickets-$20 in advance; $30 at the door.
  • Check here for show guidelines.

Hope to see you there!

Wine of the Week: 2012 Donkey and Goat Lily’s Cuvée Sparkling Chardonnay

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2012 Donkey and Goat Lily’s Cuvée Sparkling Chardonnay.

Winery

Donkey and Goat Winery is a family owned and operated urban winery located in Berkeley, California.  The winery is owned by Jared and Tracey Brandt.  Theirs is a story we’ve heard before, but with a “natural” twist.  They left tech careers to pursue their dreams of making wine. They got started making wines in the Rhône Valley, and returned to California to apply what they learned in France.

The “natural” twist is their focus –  no make that obsession, with making wines as naturally as possible.  While “natural” wine-making has become more and more en vogue  these days, the Brandts have been doing it since day one.  You can read their complete manifesto here, but suffice it to say they take minimal intervention to the next level.  This includes using native yeasts, fermenting their wines in used oak barrels or concrete (most wineries use plastic bins), using no machines for crushing the grapes, and not filtering or fining of their wines.

They also make it a point to mention their wines are made “for the table not the cocktail glass”  That means having their fruit picked sooner than most, with the decision on when to pick driven by flavor and structure rather than brix.  As a result their wine are lower in alcohol (also trending these days it seems – but my sense is that’s another thing the Brandts were doing long before the pendulum started to swing toward lower alcohol wines)

Donkey and Goat produces wines from white, and red Rhône varieties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grown in the Anderson Valley, Mendocino Ridge and the unappreciated El Dorado appellation in the Sierra Foothills.

Donkey and Goat owners Jared and Tracey Brandt were named one of 5 Winemakers To Watch by Jon Bonné of the SF Chronicle in 2011.  They produce about 3,000 cases of wine annually.

The Wine

This is a fascinating wine. No scratch that…this is a luscious and fascinating wine! The 2012 vintage is the second that Donkey and Goat has produced a Petillant Naturel (a.k.a. Pet’Nat) A Pet’Nat is an absolutely natural sparkling wine that is a  product of the grapes harvested and no more. Unlike most sparkling wines, Pet’Nats have no added yeast or sugar (click here for details on the complete process)

The wine is made from organic Chardonnay grapes that are whole cluster pressed to a stainless steel tank and allowed to ferment naturally until ~2 brix then bottled under crown cap, later disgorged and then again under crown cap.

The wine is evolved beautifully from when I tasted it in the tasting room a couple of months ago.

Donkey & Goat Sparkling Chard

2012 Donkey and Goat Lily’s Cuvée Sparkling Chardonnay – Before opening…

Since the wine is unfiltered and unfined, lees remain in the bottle.  After I opened the bottle, the lees we incorporated into the wine. Once the lees are incoporated the wine it looked cloudy….but that added a bit of body and flavor. It’s doesn’t take away anything from the wine.  Rather, it makes it better in my book!

Wine of the Week: 2012 Donkey and Goat Lily's Cuvee Sparkling Chardonnay

After opening – Cloudy goodness!

 My tasting notes follow:

Golden copper color with apple, citrus, honey, and a bit of funk aromas. On the palate, it’s fresh with a very creamy mousse, a ton of pin prick bubbles, and an intense, but pleasant off-dry fruitiness. It shows spiced mixed orchard fruit (sweet green apples, apricots, and nectarine) flavors with a kiss of minerality that adds a nice dimension to the mix.  11.7% alcohol. $28 SRP. Blend: 98% Chardonnay, 2% Roussanne.

Rating: A- : Will buy more!

Pair with:  Fantastic as aperitif, but it will also pair well with spicy fare. Thai, indo-Paki,  and Sushi come to mind!

>>Find this wine<<

Wine purchased for review

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

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

This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

How I Lost My Chablis Virginity!

Late last year (I’m invoking the tried and true cliché; ‘better late than never”;-) I had the pleasure of attending a lunch hosted by the Pure Chablis, at one of San Francisco’s best restaurants, Boulevard.  The Pure Chablis folks were touring the U.S. evangelizing the virtues of Chablis (pronounced Sha-blee).

Pure Chablis Lunch at Boulevard - San Francisco

Pure Chablis Lunch at Boulevard – San Francisco

My own experience with Chablis?

None!

Of course, being a wine enthusiast, I knew of Chablis, but can one really know a wine without experiencing it?  I think not!

The two things I did know about Chablis were…

First, as Rosemary George,MW, author of “The Wines of Chablis and the Grand Auxerrois” puts it…

Chablis is Chardonnay, but not every Chardonnay is Chablis

And secondly, I knew that this stuff, or  wines labeled as “White Burgundy” found on your local grocery stores shelves is not Chablis…Hell it may not even be Chardonnay!

Carlo Rossi Chablis

Carlo Rossi Chablis…notice it’s “100% grape” wine? Red flags anyone?

Therein lies part of challenge for the Chablisians – the majority of American consumers either don’t know that Chablis is made from the Chardonnay grape (American’s most popular grape variety), and/or they associate it with cheap generic jug wines such as Carlo Rossi and Franzia.  It’s a shame that certain winemakers are allowed to genericize wines of place like Champagne and Chablis.

Since that wasn’t the situation for me, I asked myself why I’d never tried Chablis.  My “self” concluded there were a couple of reasons I’d never tried Chablis…

  1. I’m not a huge fan of Chardonnay. In fact, I’m border line ABC (‘Anything But Chardonnay”) type of guy . I tend to go with the three “Rs” – Rhône, Rosé or Riesling when i want a chilled wine. And that’s because I don’t care for the ubiquitous buttery, rich style – mostly because I don’t think its food friendly.
  2. Being from Burgundy, I thought it was too expensive.

As far as the first reason goes, I made the mistake many others have made – allowing the prevalent New World style of Chardonnay define Chardonnay for me.  As far, as the second reason goes, I was just flat-out wrong.  The wines are reasonably priced. In fact many offer great quality-price ratio (“QPR)”)

Here’s the 411 on Chablis…

  • Wine has been made in Chablis for centuries.  The founding of the village of Chablis dates back to Roman times, as do Chablis’ wines.
  • t’s the northernmost subregion of Burgundy.  
  • Chardonnay is the only grape variety permitted in Chablis
  • Granted AOC (appellation) status in 1938
  • What gives the region its unique “terroir” is a combination of its climate (harsh, cold and wet), and its clay soil referred to as Kimmeridge clay, that is composed of limestone, clay and fossilized oyster shells.
A unique territory and terroir - Image courtesy of Pure Chablis

A unique territory and terroir – Image courtesy of Pure Chablis

  • Chablis has four appellations (in ascending order of quality, power and depth)
    1. Petit Chablis - Represents an entry-level Chablis.  Intended to be consumed young. Vineyards are located on flat ground.
    2. Chablis - The grapes for this level are grown on north and east-facing hills.  These wines tend to show a bit more minerality, due to the high limestone content in the soil of the region.
    3. Chablis Premier Cru - The grapes for this level are grown on south and west-facing hills.  As the name suggests, this level of quality takes it up a notch and produces wine with better aging potential.
    4. Chablis Grand Cru - This is the upper echelon of Chablis, with only about 230 acres situated on one hill, on the north bank of the Serein River.  There are only seven vineyards from which to source the Grand Cru Chablis grapes. This level has the greatest potential for aging.

The tasting was led by the charming and voluble Jean-Francois Bordet, winemaker at Domaine Séguinot-Bordet, and President of the  Chablis Wine Board.  We tasted through 5 wines. The wines were superbly paired with food by prepared by Boulevard’s chef, Nancy Oaks. 

Chablis Lunch Upshot

My tasting notes follow:

  • 2010 Domaine Séguinot-Bordet Chablis Vieilles Vignes
    Light yellow-green color with creamy apple, pear and mineral aromas. On the palate, the wine is between light and medium bodied, and fresh and wonderfully balanced with apple, pear and a bit of citrus flavors and lengthy finish. Average age of vines = 65 years (91 pts.)  SRP: $20 (Very good value!)
  • 2010 La Chablisienne Chablis 1er Cru Côte de Léchet
    Pale yellow straw color with lovely citrus cream, apple and a bit of spice aromas. On the palate, its medium-bodied, fresh and well-balanced with apple, gun flint, and a kiss of tropical fruit flavors and a lingering finish. Average age of vines = 25 years. Aged 12 months on fine lees in tanks and small barrels (92 pts.)  SRP: $21-$22 (Amazing value!)
  • 2009 Domaine William Fèvre Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume Vignoble de Vaulorent 
    Medium straw yellow color with oyster shell, lemon and apple aromas. On the palate, it medium-bodied, and ample, yet nicely balanced by vibrant acidity. It shows tart apple, lemon flavors, and an engaging minerality. Lengthy finish. Grape hand harvested. Aged 10-13 months in French oak for approximately 50% of harvest, remainder in small S/S vats (91 pts.SRP: $65
  • 2008 Domaine Christian Moreau Père et Fils Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 
    Straw yellow color with aromatic white flower, pear, and citrus aromas. On the palate, it medium-full bodied, and ample with fresh minerality and pear, saline and mineral flavors. Medium long finish. Average age of vines = 53 years. Harvested by hand. 50 of aging in stainless steel vats; 50% in barrels (90% in 1,2, and 3 y.o. barrels, 10% in new and 1 y.o. barrels) for 8 months (92 pts.SRP: $65-$70
  • 2008 Joseph Drouhin / Drouhin-Vaudon Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos
    Pale straw yellow color with intriguing apple, white flower, and a hint of spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied, and elegant with a wonderful creamy mouth feel and green apple, pear, citrus and mineral flavors. Long finish. Average age of vines = 37 years. Hand harvested. Aged in French oak barrels weathered for 3 years (0% new wood) for 12 months (93 pts.SRP: $70-$75

In addition to the aforementioned five wines, I recently tried another Chablis, that I think is worth seeking out, especially if you’re looking to try a great example of Chablis for under $20!

  • 2011 Domaine Séguinot-Bordet Chablis 
    Pale straw yellow color with apple, stone-fruit, and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh and well-balanced with apple, nectarine, and flinty flavors. Medium+ finish. (89 pts.SRP: $18 – Very good value! (Sample purchased for review)

It was a fabulous lunch (and as it turned out, I was the only person who’d never had Chablis!).  The food, the wines, and the pairing were all outstanding.  And I learned much about what make Chablis special.

My takeaways were:

  • Chablis are dry wines renowned for their great aromas, flavors acidity, and minerality (and not just minerality in flavor, also minerality in texture)
  • Chablis’ are great wines by any standard with a singular outstanding quality, and a compelling story behind them.
  • Chablis is a versatile wine that pairs well with a wide range of foods, from humble to the sublime
  • Thanks to Chablis, I’m not an “ABC” guy after all!

I’ll be drinking more Chablis, and if you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend you give it a try!

Other posts you might enjoy:

Chablis – Ignore This Region at Your Palate’s Peril (Simple Hedonisms)

 

 

Wine of the Week – Bedrock Wine Co Heritage Compagni Portis

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 2011 Bedrock Wine Co. Heritage Compagni Portis

 The Winery

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

There are two things that make Bedrock Wine Co. special in my view – the first is Morgan (you can check out his full bio here), but suffice it to say he’s been making wine since he was “knee-high to a bug” including working harvests in McLaren Vale, Australia and worked as a visiting winemaker at Chateau Lynch-Bages in Bordeaux before returning to California to focus on revitalizing California’s heirloom vineyards. The second is his vineyard sources. I did a post last year entitled Bedrock Wine Co: Where Old Vine Love And Transcendent Wine Making Come Together, wherein I focused on the sources of Bedrock’s grapes.

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

The Wine

The grapes for this wine were sourced from Compagni-Portis vineyard, one of the many vineyards from which Bedrock Wine Co. sources grapes that are listed in the registry of the Historical Vineyard Society.  It is one of the few remaining mixed-white vineyards.

Here’s what the Bedrock Wine Co. says about the wine…

As I have written in the past I am just smitten with this vineyard.  The eclectic field blend of Gewurtzraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay, Roter Vetliner, and others was planted in 1954…The dry-farmed vines yielded a scant 1 ton to the acre in 2011.  The wine was whole-cluster pressed and native yeast fermented in a combination of stainless steel and older French barrels.  As one would expect from a cooler year this is a more delicate version of Compagni; it is beguilingly fragrant and expressive…

Not familiar with Roter Vetliner?  Neither was I.  It’s an ancient grape native to Austria of unknown parentage. Today, there is little acreage planted to this grape in Austria.  I imagine there is even less here in California. From what I glean from a bit of research it’s similar to a pungent version of Sauvignon Blanc that ages well.  It’s part of the Vetliner family, the most well-known is Grüner Veltliner.  But there are also  Brauner Veltliner and Frühroter Veltliner grape varieties

BWC Compagni Portis

My tasting note follows:

Pale yellow color with aromatic, lychee, tangerine, spice, and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with a great mouth feel followed by white peach, tangerine, and spice flavors. Med/long finish.  - 92pts

Rating: Highly Recommended.  This is a great example of Bedrock achieving it’s objective to channel the fruit of ancient vines into powerful, elegant, and distinctly Californian wines

Pair with: The evening I enjoyed this wine, I paired it with Tandoori Chicken, Dal (yellow lentil) Curry, and Boti (Lamb) Kabab.  I’d pair with other spicy Asian cuisine, Seafood Gumbo, or Roasted Roots and Fruits.  It’s also just fine on its own!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 13.8%
  • Closure: Cork
  • AVA: > CaliforniaSonoma CountySonoma Valley
  • Grape Varieties: Gewurtzraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay, Roter Veltliner, and several others.
  • Cooperage: Aged in SS and neutral oak for 5 months
  • Retail: $25
  • Cases produced: 130
  • Drink: now – 2015

Related posts you might enjoy:

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff!  Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2013 ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. All rights reserved.

 

Wine of the Week; 2005 Domaine Carneros Le Rêve

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.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2005 Domaine Carneros Le Rêve

The Winery

Domaine Carneros was founded in 1987 by Champagne Taittinger of France in partnership with Kobrand Corporation. It is located in the heart of Carneros in Napa Valley, along with Gloria Ferrer. The Carneros terroir is ideally suited to producing Chardonnay,and Pinot Noir, typically the backbone of both Champagne, and California Sparkling wine.  That’s because Carneros offers cool nights, foggy mornings, and sunny, breezy days offering fruit of extraordinary elegance, complexity, and intensity.

Domaine Carneros is a beautiful Chateau that was built in 1988. The building was inspired by historic Chateau de la Marquetterie in Champagne France, which is the estate home of the Taittinger family.

 

The Wine

Domaine Carneros sources 95% of their fruit from organic estate vineyards, and all of their wines are labeled with the Carneros appellation.  Eileen Crane is CEO/Founding Winemaker.

This wine is a Blanc de Blancs,  which means the wine is produced from all white grapes. Le Rêve, which translates to “the dream” in French, is considered to be the tête du cuvee  (flagship wine) of the winery.  The wine is aged 6 years in Domaine Carneros’ cellars, carved into the hillside beneath the winery, before release.

2005 Domaine Carneros Le Reve

2005 Domaine Carneros Le Reve

My tasting notes follow

Light straw color with persistent bead of tiny bubbles, with brioche baked pear, tropical fruit, and a touch of mineral aromas. On the palate it shows a soft creamy mousse, and is elegant, balanced, and complex with stone fruit, apple, tropical fruit, and mineral flavors. Long finish – 93pts.

Rating: Highly recommended!

Pair with: It makes a great apéritif, but is also fantastic with fresh oysters and other shellfish, crab cakes,  and ceviche.  Try with an aged Gouda or other hard cheeses. And it makes a delicious counterpoint with triple cream cheeses.

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Alcohol: 12% alcohol.

Closure: Cork

AVA: > CaliforniaNapa / SonomaCarneros

Varietal(s): 99%% Chardonnay, 1% Pinot Blanc

Cooperage: Aged on lees in the bottle for five and one-half years

Retail: $95

Cases produced: 4,450

Purchased for review

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