Wine of the Week; 2009 Tablas Creek Roussanne

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine of the Week is the 2009 Tablas Creek Roussanne.

The Winery

Tablas Creek Vineyard (“TCV”) is probably the best-known of all Paso Robles wineries specializing in Rhone style wines.  It is a partnership between Robert Haas, and the Perrin Family of Chateau de Beaucastel in the Chateauneuf du Pape region in FranceWhat I find interesting about TCV is that they specifically chose to establish themselves in Paso Robles because of the similarities of the soil conditions and climate of Paso Robles to Chateauneuf du Pape.  They went as far as to import vines from Chateauneuf du Pape.  The vines were propagated and grafted in their on-site nursery and used to plant their 120 acre organic vineyard.  Check the full story here.

The Wine

So you’ve never heard of Roussanne?  Most casual wine drinkers have not.  It’s a white Rhône grape variety that gets its name from its from the French word “roux”, which means russet, and is a fitting description of its reddish-gold skins at harvest time.

It’s a tough grape to grow.  It’s prone to uneven ripening, irregular yields, has little resistance to powdery mildew and rot, and is easily damaged by wind and drought. By selecting and propagating only the least problematic clones, vintners preserved Roussanne for two primary reasons: unique aroma and bracing acidity.

It’s most often blended with the other primary white Rhône grape variety Marsanne.  In fact, it’s more so used as a blending grape than a varietal bottling such as this wine.

Typical aromas and flavors suggest honey, floral, herbal tea, and stone fruit.

Here’s what Tablas Creek says about production of this wine..The Roussanne grapes were whole cluster pressed, and fermented using native yeasts half in stainless steel and half in small French oak barrels. The wine was left on its lees for 6 months, and allowed to complete malolactic fermentation. After fermentation the wines were blended, and bottled in August 2010.

Tablas Creek has done a varietal bottling of Roussanne since 2002.

09_Roussanne

My tasting notes follow:

Rich yellow golden color with pear, honeysuckle, mineral, and a bit of lanolin aromas. On the palate it’s very smooth, and harmonious with pear, nectarine, mineral and a spice undertone with lingering finish

Rating: A-: Wonderful wine! We picked up a couple of bottles on our most recent trip to Paso Robles. This one was so good it didn’t make it home! 

Pair with: We enjoyed pairing this with seafood pasta with a cream sauce.  It will also pair well with other rich seafood such as lobster, crab, sea bass or salmon. I also bet it would pair well with my seafood gumbo!

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!

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 Donkey and Goat Roussanne Stonecrusher

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 Donkey and Goat Roussanne Stonecrusher.

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 undiscovered El Dorado appellation in the Sierra Foothills”.  In addition to the aforementioned still wines, they are also tinkering with a zero-dosage sparkling wine called “Ginger”

I came to know about Donkey and Goat when one of my fellow wino buddies mentioned how much he really enjoyed their Rosé.  I’m definitely a Rosé fiend, but by the time we got over to the winery for their Fall Open house last year, it was long gone.  As good fortune would have it, we were dining at Eleve, a Vietnamese restaurant in Walnut Creek, and they were serving the 2011 Grenache Rosé Isabel’s Cuvée by the glass.  Wow! One of the best Rosé’s I’ve ever had!  Rest assured we won’t miss out on the 2012 vintage!  I subsequently found out they produced an orange wine late last year (late to the party again damnit!) Fortunately, I was able to pick up a bottle a few weeks ago.

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 an orange wine, which is essentially a wine made from white wine grape varieties (in this case Roussanne) that spends some time fermenting on grape skins (i.e. it’s produced like a red wine. It’s the skins that give the wine its color).

This white (orange) wine will surprise as it spent 16 days on the skins in a 4 ton open top wood vat before we pressed off to complete fermentation in neutral oak barrels. Orange wines, as they are called, are fascinating for many reasons but most exciting for us is the incredible versatility at the table.

The fruit for this wine is from the Elen Ridge vineyard in El Dorado County at 2400 feet elevation.  It was aged 10 months in neutral French oak.

Since this was the first time I’d had an orange wine, I wondered what was the appropriate serving temperature. I assumed, it shouldn’t be served at classic white, or Rosé wine temperature of 43-46 F because of the presence of tannins.  I went with the typical serving temperature for a light red – around 50-55 F and took the wine out of the refrigerator for about 25 minutes.  That seemed to be a good temperature.

Donkey & Goat Stonecrusher

My tasting notes follow:

Lovely golden orange color with spiced orange peel and hints of floral and lanolin aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, dry, and nicely balanced with a wonderful vein of acidity, present but subtle tannins, and ample apple, nectarine, and sweet spice flavors. Long finish. – 90pts

Rating: Highly recommended. I’ve been eager to try an orange wine, and this was my first one. Score!

Pair with:  This is a very food friendly wine in my book.  I enjoyed it with an avocado stuffed with Muhammara (a spicy roasted almond, and red pepper dip that originated in Syria) one night, and spicy vegetable biryani the next.  It was an especially great pairing with the Muhammara stuffed avocado. The wine’s acidity was a nice counter-point to the richness of the avocado. And the fruit was a nice counterpoint to the spice in the Muhammara. Other parings to consider are paella, fideua, Indo-Paki cuisine, and roasted winter vegetables. You can bet your bottom dollar I’ll have a bottle for Thanksgiving next year!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Wine purchased for review

Related post 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; 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

Related post you might enjoy:

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;-)

2008 JC Cellars Marsanne Stagecoach Vineyard: Wine of the Week

My wine of the week for March 31-April 6 is the 2008 JC Cellars Marsanne Stagecoach Vineyard.

The Winery

JC Cellars is an urban winery in Oakland, CA.  Jeff Cohn is the winemaker and president.   The winery, primarily focused on Rhône varietals and Zinfandel, was founded in 1996.  I think it’s fair to say Jeff likes to “tinker”.  He’s releasing a Pinot Noir in the summer, and sells a Viognier that is a collaboration with a French winery –  Domaine François Villard of Condrieu.  They produce about 5000 cases annually.

The Wine
Marsanne is one of classic white Rhône varietals.  It is believed to have originated in the town of the same name in the northern Rhône Valley.  It is a “workhorse” grape that more often than not is blended with other grapes (Rousanne, and Grenache Blanc) to produce a blend.  It produces wines with distinct mineral and melon flavors, and low to moderate acidity.  This wine is 100% Marsanne sourced from a single vineyard, the Stagecoach Vineyard, located in Napa.

2008 JC Cellars Marsanne Stagecoach Vineyard

2008 JC Cellars Marsanne Stagecoach Vineyard

My tasting notes follow:

Pale gold color with slightly pungent, melon, honeysuckle, mineral aromas. On the palate viscous,buttery, medium-full bodied, and fruit forward with tropical fruit, melon, honey, mineral and spice flavors. Great alternative to Chard! Medium-long finish. 15.2% Alcohol.

Pairing with food

I very much enjoyed this with seafood lasagna with crab, lobster, and shrimp in a creamy white sauce.  The richness of the wine was a nice compliment to the richness of the lasagna.  It would be a good match for crab, lobster, and shrimp on a stand-alone basis too!  I can tell you it’s great with cracked crab!