Wine of the Week; 2011 Bodegas Basilio Izquierdo B de Basilio Blanco

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 Bodegas Basilio Izquierdo B de Basilio Blanco.

The Winery

My wife and I had the pleasure of meeting Basilio Izquierdo and tasting through some of his wines at his micro-winery in Laguardia (La Rioja) Spain.   Bodegas Basilio Bodegas  is one of several personal projects of Basilio, who is originally from La Mancha.  He was the Technical Director (head winemaker) of CVNE for over thirty years.  Since 2006 he has been producing his own wines.

Spaniards talking about making wine use the verb elaborar, to elaborate, not fabricar, to produce or manufacture.  To elaborate something, Spain’s winemakers say, implies consciousness, time, and the labor of creation and nurturance.

Bodegas Basilio Izquierdo elaborates two white wines, a rose wine and two red wines(about 10,000 bottles annually).

In a nutshell, Bodegas Basilio Izquierdo is focused on

  • Making vin de garde - wines that age well
  • Wines that are balanced
  • Elaborating wines using traditional methods from the 60s, and 70s.

Easier said than done, I’d say, but after tasting though a few samples of his yet to be released red wines and this wine, I’d say he’s hitting the nail on the head!

The Wine

This is a unique wine for  the Rioja region of Spain, which is well renown for its red wines.  Much less so for its white wines. And of its white wine grapes, the predominant grape variety (upwards of 90%) is Viura (a.k.a Macabeo).  So, a white wine that is predominately Garnacha Blanca (Grenache Blanc) is rare.

Garnacha Blanca is a minor grape in Rioja.  There are approximately 26 hectares (out of a total of 67,000 total hectares)  of Garnacha Blanca planted in the Rioja D.O.

Not only are wines made with Garnacha Blanca relatively rare in Rioja, but how Basilio Izquierdo “elaborates” this wine is unique.

Whole clusters of grapes for this wine were loaded into the basket of the Bodegas Basilio Izquierdo wine-press…

la foto

Whole cluster grapes being prepared for pressing

Then very gently pressed (only 40 litters of grape juice from a 100 kilos of whole clusters) in its19th century grape press.

la foto (2)

The pressed juice from the Garnacha Blanca and from the Viura are fermented, separately in 600 litre French oak barrels.

Then the wine is manually stirred (a technique referred to as “battonage‘) on its lees for 9 months in order to enhance it’s fruit flavors, and minimize the effects of fermentation in oak barrels.

The wine is blend of 67% Garnacha Blanca and 33% Viura.

photo (40)

My tasting notes follow:

Lovely stone fruit, citrus, and a touch of white flower aromas.  On the palate, it medium-bodied, surprisingly viscous, well-balanced, and persistent with focused  stone-fruit, citrus , and mineral flavors.  Long finish. 

Rating: A-: This is an excellent wine that will age well for at least another 10 years!

Pair with: Grilled seafood, grilled shrimp,  and spicy Asian preparations of chicken and fish

>>Find this wine<<

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

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

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Wine of the Week; 2010 Stage Left Cellars Go Getter

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 Stage Left Cellars Go Getter

The Winery

Stage Left Cellars is an urban winery located in Oakland, California not too far from Jack London Square. By urban winery I mean their winemaking facilities are located in an urban setting, rather than in a rural setting near the vineyard.

The winery is owned and operated by Melinda Doty and her husband, Rich Williams who is the winemaker.   Melinda and Rich both had corporate gigs before they decided to exit “Stage Left” and pursue their dream of opening a winery.  Like so many winemakers, they were making wine in their garage before taking the plunge into commercial winemaking.  Their first commercial effort was the 2004 “Day Job” a blend of Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Mourvèdre.

Stage Left is focused primarily on Rhone varietals and Rhone blends.  They source their grapes from throughout California and Oregon. Case production is about 1,200/year

Stage Left is open the first Saturday of each month, and by appointment.  The tasting fee is $5.  Stage Left was voted the “Best San Fransisco” area winery for 2011 on the ABC 7 “A” List.  I highly recommend visiting.  You’ll enjoy the wine and they’re great hosts!

The Wine

The fruit for this wine was sourced from vineyards throughout California. The Viognier is from Alder Springs (Mendocino), the Roussanne is from Catie’s Corner (Russian River Valley), and the Grenache Blanc hails from the Russell Family (Paso Robles). The grapes were fermented separately, and were even allowed to sit on skins for a short period of time,  That add a bit of tannins to the structure, which not only should enhance ageability.

sl go getter 2

My tasting notes follow:

Aromatic honeysuckle, tropical, pineapple citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied with a great mouthfeel, and crisp acidity accompanied by white peach, honey, and citrus flavors. Long finish.

Rating: A-

This wine was great at the table thanks to its crisp acidity. We enjoyed it with a variety of tapas from Rumbo al Sur, including Shrimp and Scallop Enchiladas, Mussels Moqueca, and even Chile Rellenos, for Mothers Day.

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 14.1% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork.
  • AVA: > California
  • Varietal(s): 57% Viognier, 29% Grenache Blanc, 14% Roussanne
  • Retail: $34 (It was on sale the day I purchased for $26)
  • Cases produced: 290
  • Ageability: Drink now, or hold for 3-5 years

Other Related Posts:

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.

Wine of the Week; 2011 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare

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 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare

The Winery

Bonny Doon Vineyard, located in Santa Cruz, CA was established in 1983 by the inimitable Randall Grahm, a man of many interests, not the least of which is “thinking of fiendishly cunning stratagems for producing wines which express a sense of place and which actually make the world a more interesting burg“. He’s an interesting man. In fact, as I write this, based on what I know of him from his bio, and blogs about Bonny Doon, and social media, the first thing that popped into my head is that he could be the real life “Most Interesting Man in the World” (This from his Twitter profile – “Founder, Winemaker, Terroirist/Vinachrist and Prez-for Life @BonnyDoonVineyd, Defender of the Misunderstood and Underappreciated Doon-trodden Cépages of the Earth” - peep the bio here).  The wines Bonny Doon produces are a reflection of Grahm – they’re thoughtful, eclectic, often unique, and interesting wines. )  Sure, the packaging is clever with inventive names, and beautiful art work.  But don’t let the slick marketing fool you (Hell, I enjoy looking at the website because it’s just plain fun to read the marketing spiel) into thinking the wines don’t live up to the hype. The wines are seriously good.

My first visit to Bonny Doon was a couple of years ago. I’m a Rose fiend,and I’d heard good things about Bonny Doon’s. On top of that I’d read good reviews of the co-located restaurant (at the time – the Cellar Door – since April this year re-branded as Le Cigare Volant, same as their signature Syrah)  We had a fantastic meal there, and while we went for the 2010 vintage of this wine, we actually preferred their other Rosé the 2009 A Supposedly Clever…Rosé – a puncheon fermented in 100% new wood.  Um…last time saw a Rose produced that was never!  It turned out to be a happy (and quite tasty) accident.

We returned about couple of months ago to eat at the restaurant and do some tasting.  I’m glad we diid…I was saddened to learn according to the restaurant would cease operations on December 31!  The restaurant has straight up novel and delicious fare. (see pics below)…I definitely recommend.  Try to get there before year-end!

We had a wonderful meal, and a great tasting (picked up this wine and few others) even had a chance to see Grahm (he was there our last visit too…the man puts in work).

The Wine

Yes…it’s the middle of December, and I’m drinking the quintessential summer wine – Rose.  Having flashbacks to the long warms days of summer? Nah, (OK..maybe just a little) I just know that Rosé is one of the most food friendly wines one can drink. So I buy a couple of cases of the stuff every year and drink it all year-round (in fact, a Rose was the best wine I with my Thanksgiving meal this year)

This Rose is a bit different from most because it’s not made exclusively from red wine grape varieties.  Bonny Doon adds two white grape varieties - Roussanne and Grenache Blanc – to what would otherwise be typical Southern Rhone red varieties. According to Bonny Doon..

 …we find the addition of mineral-rich white wine adds incremental gravitas without creating ponderousness–a mortally dangerous element in a perfect apéritif wine.

They also employed the practice of bâtonnage–an Old World technique of the stirring or re-suspension of lees after fermentation–to add creaminess to the texture of the wine.

Boony Doon  Vin Gris de Cigare

2011 Boony Doon Vineyards Vin Gris de Cigare

My tasting notes follow:

Pretty salmon pink color with citrus, red fruit, and mineral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied and fruity with good balance and acidity followed by cherry, strawberry, and citrus flavors. Medium-long finish. 

Rating: Highly Recommended…This one goes on my buy every year list when I stock up on Rosé!

Pair with: I paired with Crockpot ChickenSpaghetti because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go with a red or white wine. I had a feeling this wine would be a wonderful match and…SCORE!  This is a food friendly wine that will pair well with a variety of cuisines (It will be a great wine for upcoming Holiday meals) including charcuterie, many popular Mexican, Indo-Paki, Thai, Vietnamese dishes, along with a variety of salads, poultry and seafood. 

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 14.3% alcohol.
  • Closure: Screwcap
  • AVA: > California>Central Coast
  • Grape Varieties: 73% Grenache, 10% Mourvédre, 8% Grenache Blanc, 5% Roussanne, 4% Cinsault
  • Cooperage:
  • Retail: $16
  • Cases produced: 5,400
  • Drink: now – 2014
  • >>Find this wine<<

This above wine was purchased for review

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Wine Of The Week – 2008 Edward Sellers Vineyards and Wines Estate Blanc

My wine of the week for April 14-April 20 is the 2008 Edward Sellers Vineyards and Wines Estate Blanc.

The Winery

Edward Sellers is an eponymous artisan winery producing small lots of  Rhone varietal wines, from their 30-acre vineyard in Paso Robles. Ed, who is an entrepreneur, sailor, and pilot, and his wife “discovered” Paso Robles in 2003, and instantly fell in love with the place.

I was introduced to Edward Sellers in 2010 when I attended the annual California Wine Festival in Santa Barbara.  Ed was pouring his wines at the Friday night “Sunset Rare And Reserve Wine Tasting”. I distinctly remember his wines standing head and shoulders above the rest that evening.  We made it a point to drop in his tasting room, which at the time was in downtown Paso, on our way back to the Bay Area.  That’s when I purchased a couple of bottles of this wine (and a few others).   Last year, after attending the same wine festival, again we made it a point to drop in at his new tasting room off  West Highway 46.

I most recently saw Ed again when he was pouring his wines the Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting in San Francisco (click here for my recap of the event).  I was only tasting red Rhone blends that day, so I missed the opportunity to taste 2009 version of this wine, Le Passage Estate.

Paso Robles has made a name for itself, especially for Rhône varietals.   According to edwardsellers.com:

It is Paso Robles’s climate, soils and vineyard diversity that makes Paso Robles ideally suited for growing the Rhône varieties of Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Counoise, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc.

It’s no wonder the annual Hospice du Rhone is held in Paso Robles annually.

The Wine

This wine is classic white Rhône blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Marsanne.  What stand out for me about this wine is its outstanding balance.

2008 Edward Sellers Estate Blanc

My tasting notes follow:

Pale yellow color with pungent stone fruit aromas. On the palate, it’s full-bodied, and well-balanced with white peach, melon, and spice flavors. Medium long finish. Blend of Grenache Blanc(56%), Roussanne(28%), and Marsanne (16%). 14.1% Alcohol. 146 cases produced.

Pairing with food

White Rhône blends such as this wine are pretty versatile food wines.  They make fine sippers in the summertime, and but a wine such as this is hearty enough to be a great match with picnic fair, spicy Indian, and North African dishes.  Hmmm…I just recalled the Lobster Pot Pie, I had a Michael Mina a couple of years ago.  This would have been fabulous with it!

I really enjoyed this wine. I’m sorry I waited damn near 2 years to drink it though. Fortunately I’ve got another bottle.  It’ll be lucky to see summer;-)

Drink Pink…Top 10 Rosés!

They say the first step is to admit you cannot control your compulsion…here it is then…I am a Rosé fiend!  Not only are Rosés my hands down favorite during the warmer months of the year, I enjoy Rosé pretty much all year-round because it’s such a versatile food friendly wine.  For example last week, on the hottest day of Summer 2011, so far, I made Chipotle-Rubbed Flank Steak w/Gorgonzola Sauce.  I wanted a chilled wine because it was hot, but also a wine that would stand up to the meatiness of the steak, the spiciness of the spice rub, and the brininess of the Gorgonzola cheese sauce.  A Rosé from Spain was just the ticket and paired wonderfully with the dish.

I’ve been on a serious “Rosé Run” between the beginning of May and now; having tasted at least 25 Rosés from California, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.  With that brief, but salient background, here are my Top 10 Rosés of 2011…at least so far…I’m sure I’ll be trying more throughout the summer!

First, the method to my madness:

  • The wines are ranked in inverse order.
  • If I scored wines the same, price is the tiebreaker, with the lower priced wine being ranked higher.
  • For more detailed information including the region from which the wine comes, grape varietal(s), more detailed tasting notes/comments,  and a Wine-Searcher.com link to find the wine, click on linked name of the wine.

Here we go…

10.  2010 Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Rubentis -  Spain.  Pink with silver hue color of watermelon flesh.  Strawberry,  and wet stone aromas. On the palate, bone dry, light-bodied, and fizzy with mouth-watering acidity, with strawberry, mineral, and citrus flavors. Medium finish. (88 pts) – $21

9. Frick Winery Cinsault Rosé  -  California.  Dark pink with a reddish hue. Strawberry, and tart cherry aromas.  On the palate, between dry and off-dry, medium bodied, with a trace of tannins, and strawberry, cherry, spice, and a touch of pomegranate flavors.  Medium finish (88 pts) - $19

8.  2010 Quivira Rosé North Coast -  California.  Faded pink color. Strawberry and spice aromas.  On the palate, closer to off-dry than dry, and approaching medium bodied with strawberry, melon and spice flavors aroma.  Short finish.  (88 pts) – $17

7.  2010 Château d’Esclans Cotes de Provence Whispering Angel - France. Very light salmon pink with a copper hue.  Offers melon, and mineral aromas.  On the palate light bodied, and dry with not quite ripe melon, citrus, and little bit of earthy flavor.  Medium finish.   (89 pts) - $17

6.  2010 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare -  California. Salmon color with raspberry, and mineral aromas.  On the palate light bodied, balanced with strawberry, melon, apricot flavors.  Medium finish. (89 pts) – $15

5. 2010 Dashe Cellars Vin Gris  - California.  Deep strawberry red color.  Strawberry, dried cherry, and spice aromas.  On the palate, balanced with lush mouth feel with lively strawberry, cherry, spice and mineral flavors.  Medium-long finish.  (89 pts) - $14

4.  2010 Bodegas Muga Rioja Rosado -  Spain.  Light pink color with pale orange hue.  Strawberry, apricot and melon aromas.  On the palate, dry with medium acidity, moderately complex.  Tangy with strawberry, orange/tangerine, and mineral flavors.  Medium finish. (89 pts) -  $13

3.  2009 Bonny Doon Vineyards A Supposedly Clever Winemaking Protocol I’ll…Ca’ del Solo - California.  Bright strawberry red color with pale orange hue with strawberry, and melon aromas. On the palate,  medium bodied with a hint of tannins, good acidity, and juicy strawberry, melon, and just a bit of kiwi flavors.  Barrel-fermented. Brought to mind a chilled light bodied red wine.  Medium finish.  (90 pts) - $16

2.  2010 François Chidaine Touraine Val de Loire - France. Lovely light salmon pink color with wild strawberry, floral, and faint dusty aromas.  On the palate, complex and tart with lively acidity, and strawberry, tart berry, and orange flavors.  Medium long finish.  (90 pts) – $13

1.  2010 Bedrock Wine Co. Mourvèdre Ode to Lulu Rosé - California.  Gorgeous eye of the partridge color with fragrant raspberry, white peach, wet stone, and floral aromas.  On the palate, approaching medium bodied, dry with wonderful acidity, and mouth feel, with spicy white peach, citrus and mineral flavors.  Medium-long finish (91 pts) - $20

Although, my Top 10 is dominated by Cali Rosés, that’s because I prefer to taste before I buy, and my proximity to Northern California’s wine regions affords me the opportunity to do that.  Of course, I’m also up for trying wine recommended by other “Winos” I trust, and that’s how I was introduced to a few of the wines.

Not only is the my list dominated by Cali wines, I noted that all but one of the wines is made from various Rhone varietals (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, or  Cinsault among a few others), and that’s not happenstance.  I think Rhone varietals add a layer of spiciness to the wines that I really enjoy.

Do you have a favorite Rosé?  If so, leave me a comment! I’m always looking to try something new, and the Summer is young!!