Wine of the Week; 2010 Cantele Salice Salentino Riserva

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 2010 Cantele Salice Salentino Riserva.

The Winery

Cantele is a family run winery founded by Giovanni (“Gianni”) Battista Cantele, and his two sons Augusto and Domenico in 1979.  The winery is located between the villages of Fra Guagnano and Salice Salentino.

Today, the Cantele family owns 50 hectares planted to vine and the family’s current winemaker Gianni (one of Augusto’s sons) and agronomist Cataldo Ferrari manage another 150 hectares owned by other growers. Augusto’s other son Paolo is the winery’s brand manager and Domenico’s son Umberto is head of sales. Domenico’s daughter Luisa also works in the estate’s corporate offices together with Gianni’s wife Gabriella. The business remains to this day a true “family affair.”

Cantele produces about 2 million bottles/year, including indigenous Pugliese grapes such as Primitive and Negroamaro, along with international grape varieties like Chardonnay, Merlot and Syrah.

The Wine

Cantele produces wine in Salice Salentino DOC of Puglia, which is located in “the heel” of the boot in peninsular Italy.  Puglia has had a reputation for producing mostly low-quality bulk wines (a.k.a. “plonk”).  In the 21st century though, a growing number of winemakers are more focused on quality rather than quantity.  For example, Puglia is the second largest producer (after Sicily) of organic wines.  And there have been substantial investments by the iconic Italian producer Antinori.

The flagship red grape of the Salice Salentino DOC is Negroamaro , which translated to English means dark (negro), and bitter (amaro).

This wine is made from 100% Negroamaro fermented in stainless steel and aged in 1-2 year old barrique for 6 months.

13% alcohol Retail – $9.99

Wine of the Week; 2010 Cantele Salice Salentino

My tasting notes follow:

Ruby color with inviting black and red fruits, bramble, and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, vibrant, and deliciously spicy with plum, dried cherry, black raspberry flavors, dusty tannins and a supple texture. Medium+ finish. >>Find this wine<<

Rating: A-; Fabulous QPR on this wine!  And if you’re looking to try a different grape variety – give Negroamaro a try!

Pair with: Carne alla pizzaiola, meat lovers pizza, roast veal and beef, game, lamb, and ripe aged cheeses.

Sample purchased for review

Related post you might enjoy:

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

Family Winemakers Recap – Best of the Newbies!

I attended the Family Winemakers of California (“FWC”) Grand Tasting at the San Mateo County Event Center on August 17th.  The FWC is the trade advocate for California’s “small family” wineries (although behemoth wineries like Kendall Jackson and Gallo are also considered family wineries most are in fact smaller family run wineries ). And a huge tasting like this brings in trade, media, and wine lovers from across the country.

Family Winemakers Tasting - The Best of the Newbies

After twenty-three years in San Francisco, I wondered what was behind the change in venue.   According to the FWC the change in venue was driven by “a reflection of our vintners’ desire to reach the broader wine market on the Peninsula and in Silicon Valley”.

Family Winemakers Tasting; The Best Of The Newbies

With 160 wineries pouring over 450 wines, it’s the single largest tasting of California wines in the world!

It’s my favorite big event because it’s a chance to taste so many different types and styles of wines from throughout California, from so many producers, large and small, old and new.  If you’ve ever wanted to taste wines back to back, this event is a great opportunity to do so.

Artistry and passion are the hallmark of FWC wineries at these tastings…

If ever there was a time the vinous cliché “So many wines, so little time” is true, it’s at a huge event like this.  With so many wineries pouring, I needed a plan to maximize my time at the tasting.

My initial thought was to check out the 32 wineries that were pouring at the event for the first time.  But when I checked out the Tasting Program, that yielded about 130 different wines…

Clearly, that wasn’t going to work.  Not if I intended to drive home!

So I narrowed my focus and decided to taste Chardonnay, and Cabernet (both Sauvignon and Franc) from the first-timers.

Family Winemakers Tasting; The Best of the Newbies

Nate and Lauren Belden of Belden Barns

I tasted around 50 wines from the first-timers.  My favorites (which I rated 90+ points – wines that I considered distinctive and memorable) were:

Whites and Rose

  • 2012 Belden Barns Grüner Veltliner
  • 2013 Belden Barns Sauvignon Blanc
  • 2012 Cuvee Wine Cellars Rosé of Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
  • 2013 Pence Ranch Chardonnay
  • 2012 Pellegrini Family Vineyard Chardonnay
  • 2013 Xurus Sauvignon Blanc

Reds

  • 2012 Belden Barns Serendipity Block Pinot Noir
  • 2011 Chaix Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Chaix Vineyard
  • 2010 Encanto Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2010 Madrigal Red Wine Sonnet 63
  • 2009 Madrigal Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2007 Martin Ranch Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Thérèse Vineyards
  • 2011 Vineyard 511 Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2008 Xurus Cabernet Sauvignon Sonatina Vineyard
  • 2009 Xurus Cabernet Sauvignon Sonatina Vineyard

After tasting through the first-timers,  it was time for “Taster’s Choice…Um..basically, I’m “off the clock” and taste whatever strikes my fancy.  I tasted another 40 wines.  My favorites from were:

Whites and Rose

  • 2011 Robert Young Estate Winery Chardonnay
  • 2011 Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas Blanc
  • 2012 Tablas Creek Grenache Blanc
IMG_0134

The “wine-up” at Tablas Creek. You can’t go wrong!

Reds

  • 2007 Corté Riva Cabernet Franc
  • 2007 Corté Riva Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2011 Frank Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2009 Hawk and Horse Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2009 Hawk and Horse Vineyards Block Three Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2009 Hawk and Horse Vineyards Latigo
  • 2010 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2010 Smith Madrone Cabernet Sauvignon Cook’s Flat Reserve
  • 2011 Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas
  • 2012 Tablas Creek Mourvedre
  • 2009 Taplin Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Terra 9
  • 2012 Siduri Pinot Noir Clos Pepe Vineyard

It was a fabulous tasting.  It’s always such a thrill to discover new to me wineries, and of course revisit some always favorites.

On balance, I was pleased with the change in venue.  Parking is easier, it’s closer to home for me, and the crowd (though attendance seemed down compared to prior years) seemed more well-behaved.  I hope the event continues at the San Mateo location.

If you haven’t had a chance to attend a FWC tasting, I highly recommend checking it out! Your next opportunity is schedule for March 15, 2015 at Fairplex in Pomona.

2014 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting- The Best of Grenache

Last weekend I attended the 17th Annual Rhone Rangers San Francisco Bay Area
Weekend Celebration of American Rhones at The Craneway Pavilion, Ford Point, Richmond CA.  Rhone Rangers is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting the Rhone varietal wines produced in the U.S.

2014 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting

The Rhone Ranger’s new digs for 2014 – Craneway Pavillion

The two-day event featured a Winemaker Dinner on Saturday at The General’s Residence, Fort Mason, San Francisco.  The evening began with a walk-around tasting reception featuring 16 wineries, followed by a four-course meal catered by the Girl & the Fig, and concluded with a live auction of wines and wine-country travel experiences with proceeds used to fund the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund. After dinner, Robert Haas, partner and founder, Tablas Creek Vineyard was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the American Rhone movement.

Sunday featured a  two course Seminar Series and the Grand Tasting. I attended both.

It was my first time attending the Seminar Series, which I found both informative and entertaining.  For great recap of the seminars check out  Elaine Chukan Brown’s Hawk Wakawaka Wine Review’s -  Drinking Small Production Rhone Wines: Rhone Rangers 2014, and Tasting Grenache with the Rhone Rangers.

And did I mention there was wine at the seminars?

2014 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting - The Best of Grenache

Wines poured for “Grenache; The World’s Most Widely Planted Rhone Grape Variety” seminar

The Grand Tasting is the LARGEST Rhone tasting held in the US – 90 wineries (For a list of participating wineries-click here), and around 400 wines to try.

This year, the Grand Tasting moved from San Francisco to Point Richmond in the East Bay. I was thrilled with the new location.  Parking was plentiful and easily accessible for drivers.  But  what I really appreciated the new location is that was BART-able by taking the train to the El Cerrito del Norte BART station, the taking the free shuttle provided by Rhone Rangers to the venue.  Glorious views the Bay too!

2014 Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting -The Best of Grenache

The calm before the Rhone Rangers storm!

Grenache Deep-Dive

If there ever there is a time the vinous cliché “So many wines, so little time” is true, it’s at a huge event like this!

Last year I focused on Rosé.  This year, I decided to do a deep dive on Grenache Noir ( as opposed to Grenache Blanc, which also seems to be gaining in popularity or Grenache Gris – a rare pinkish gray mutation of Grenache Noir)

Perhaps you …believe California wines can walk en pointe, evincing both power and delicacy.  At its best, Grenache here can do both with grace and charm. More than that: It can be a grape to reconcile those two often warring sets of taste. It rewards all who seek. It is a Rorschach test for flavor. - Jon Bonné

Why?  Well mostly because I dig Grenache.  It’s vinified in a variety of styles.  It can be almost a Pinot Noir-ish wine or a big fat juicy wine.  And in its lighter iterations, it’s a chillable red that is a versatile wine at the table – particularly in the Spring and Summer.

On to the wines I sniffed, sipped and  (mostly) spit!

Of the 33 Grenache I tasted, favorites I rated at least 90 points were:

  • 2011 Qupé Grenache Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard - Central Coast, Edna Valley - Brilliant dark ruby color with appealing cherry, strawberry and floral aromas. On the palate, it’s elegant and well structured with cherry, strawberry, and spice flavors. Long finish. 87% grenache and 13% Syrah $35
  • 2011 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Grenache The Barrel Climber - Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast;  Perfumed cherry, pomegranate, spice and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, concentrated, a with a supple texture with soft well-integrated tannins and cherry, pomegranate, and spice flavors. Long finish. 91% Grenache from Greywacke Vineyard, and 9% Syrah from Las Madras Vineyard. $40
  • 2010 Law Estate Wines Beguiling - Paso Robles; Ruby-violet color with raspberry, strawberry, spice and a hint of floral aromas. On the palate, its between light and medium-bodied, and balanced with surprising acidity and raspberry, strawberry, spice and mineral flavors. Lengthy finish. 94% Grenache, 6% Syrah $65
  • 2010 Le Cuvier Winery Grenache, Single Vineyard (Barrel Sample)Paso Robles; Ruby red color with aromatic strawberry, red currant, and dark cherry aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied with wonderful acidity, and strawberry, red currant,  and brown spice flavors.  Long finish. – $50
  • 2011 Carica Grenache Eaglepoint Ranch - Mendocino County; Light red color with appealing cherry, red currant, and spice aromas. On the palate, it approaches medium bodied, and is well-balanced and persistent with cherry, cranberry, and spice flavor. Lingering finish. $30
  • 2011 McCay Cellars Grenache - Lodi; Ruby color with aromatic appealing spiced cherry, cranberry, and a bit of pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with medium acidity, and an appealing grip from soft tannins. It show cherry, cranberry, and spice flavors. Medium long finish. $32

Taster’s Choice

After tasting through the available Grenache, it was time for what I call “Taster’s Choice”.

Yup..it’s just what it sounds like.  I’m off “the clock”, and on to whatever I strikes my fancy. After all, this is gathering of the best Rhone wines America has to offerand I wasn’t about to leave without tasting some other wines too!  I didn’t have as much time as I’d like (time does truly fly when you’re having fun), but I was tasted another to 25 or so wines after my Grenache deep dive.  Favorites  from my post-Grenache walk about that I rated at least 90 points were:

  • 2011 Bonny Doon Vineyard Le Cigare Blanc Reserve En Bonbonne - Central Coast, Arroyo Seco
    Slightly cloudy pale gold color with intriguing peach, apple, and lanolin aromas. On the palate, it’s fresh with ample weight and peach, tart apple, spice and mineral flavors. Lingering satisfying finish. Blend of co-fermented 62% Grenache Blanc, 38% Roussanne. $50
  • 2013 Campovida Viognier Estate Grown - USA, California, North Coast, Mendocino County - Pale golden-yellow color with appealing white peach, apricot, and honey aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, fresh, and persistent with focused peach, melon, apricot, and honey flavors. Lingering finish $36
  • 2011 Tablas Creek Esprit de Tablas Blanc - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles - Light yellow color with penetrating honeysuckle, mineral, spiced hazelnut, pear aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, well structured and focused with a great mouth feel.  It shows pear, green apple, spice and mineral flavors. Long finish. Blend of 64% Roussanne, 26% Grenache Blanc, and 10% Picpoul Blanc. $40
  • 2012 Two Shepherds Pastoral Blanc Saralee’s Vineyard - Sonoma County, Russian River Valley - Pale yellow gold color with restrained peach, melon, and honeysuckle aromas. On the palate, it approaches medium-bodied, is well structured and fresh with an alluring creamy texture. It shows peach, apricot, spice and a hint of tropical flavors and a lingering finish.  Blend of 50% Roussanne, 35% Marsanne, 10% Viognier and 5% Grenache Blanc. $28

Rhone Rangers TCV

  • 2011 Ridge Carignane Triangle - USA, California, Sonoma County
    Dark ruby color with aromatic blackberry, black cherry raspberry, spice and a hint of roast meat aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and well structed with wonderful acidity. It shows focused mixed berry, black cherry, and spiced vanilla flavors. Lingering finish. $26
  • 2011 Kukkula Noir - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Dark ruby color with appealing black cherry, strawberry, black currant and white pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s medium bodied, and fresh with dusty tannins. It shows black cherry, plum, black currant, with a bit of bittersweet chocolate flavors and a lingering finish. Blend of 86% Syrah 14% Counoise $45
  • 2011 L’Aventure Estate Cuvée - USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles
    Nearly opaque purple color with exuberant, layered cassis, spice, sandalwood, and spiced aromas. On the palate, it’s rich and concentrated with lush mixed dark berry, and spice flavors, sweet tannins and a subtle mineral undertone. Long finish. Blend of 48% Syrah, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Petit Verdot. $85
2014 Rhone Rangers - Best of Grenache

Chloe Asseo – Sales, Marketing and Communications Director for L’Aventure Winery

  • 2010 Big Basin Vineyards Grizzly - Santa Cruz Mountains
    Carmine color with expansive mixed berry, licorice, dried herb and pepper aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and vibrant with dusty tannins and dark cherry, raspberry, plum, and spice flavors. Blend of 56% Grenache, 31% Syrah & 13% Mourvedre. $48
Rhone Rangers Big Basin

Bradley Brown – Big Basin Owner and Winemaker (far right) and the Big Basin Rhone Ranger team

Miscellaneous Musings

  • I was a bit surprised at the prices of some of the Grenache.  In fact, the average price for the wines I tasted was $33.50.  I wonder if demand for Grenache is on the rise, and how well  those $35-$45 and up bottles are selling?
  • Coincidence that my three favorite Grenache were not 100% Grenache, but had some Syrah in the blend?  I think not.
  • At last year’s Grand Tasting one was able to purchase wines on the spot.  It’s convenient to have that option, and I took advantage of it and purchased a couple of bottles I liked.  We were unable to do that this year.  I’m sure it’s a licensing issue. That’s an opportunity for improvement for an otherwise awesome event.
  • The event seemed less crowded than last year. While that certainly made for (mostly) shorter lines and higher quality interaction with winery folk, if true, that would be a shame because this is such a great event.
  • Note to self – Plan to go to the Winemaker Dinner next year!

Rhone Rangers Glass

All in all, what a great event!  And if you’re in L.A or Washington D.C., the Rhone Rangers will be riding into your town later this year!  

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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.

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Wine of the Week: 2010 Breggo Cellars Gewürztraminer Ferrington Vineyard

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2010 Breggo Cellars Gewürztraminer Ferrington Vineyard.

The Winery

Breggo Cellars is located in the City of Booneville in Anderson Valley AVA, which is north (about 70 miles) of Napa Valley in Mendocino County.  It is owned by Cliff Lede (pronounced “LAY-dee”) of the Cliff Lede Vineyards and Poetry Inn in Napa Valley, where Lede has been very successful producing Bordeaux varietal wines.

As the saying goes “Great wine starts in the vineyard”.  And a great vineyard, start with having the grape varietal best suited for the location of the vineyard.  Breggo is focused on varietals that do well in cool climate Anderson Valley – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and Syrah.

The Wine

Gewürztraminer (pronounced as “guh-Verts-trah-Meen-er”) literally means “spicy grape” due to its gobs of exotic, spicy (clove and allspice) fruit flavors including lychee, citrus and peach.  It can be made in dry or sweet styles.  It’s typically best drank within 3-5 year of vintage.   The grape thrives in cooler climate locations, so the Anderson Valley is a great place to grow the grape.

The fruit for this wine is sourced from the Ferrington Vineyard, owned by Kurt and Heather Schoeneman, who purchased the vineyard in 1997.

This wine underwent whole cluster pressing to tank and settled for 24 hours. Two-thirds was fermented in neutral French oak barrels, while one-third was tank fermented in stainless steel. No malolactic fermentation was permitted.

photo (49)

My tasting notes follow:

Light pale yellow color with intensely aromatic exotic aromas of lychee, stone fruits, lemon peel, and spices. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with apricot, white peach, citrus, and spice flavors. Surprisingly vibrant acidity. Long finish. 13.1% abv.| SRP – $25

Rating: A-; A wonderfully refreshing, dry, yet exotic Gewürztraminer that I’d purchase again!

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.

No Reservations Wine Tasting: Joseph Phelps Freestone

From time to time, I have a wine tasting experience that stands above the rest, and is everything I’m looking for – great wine and commendable service in a relaxed environment. It’s those such experiences that are the focus of this “No Reservations” series.  Why “No Reservations”? Because I can honesty say I have “No Reservations”  about recommending the winery anyone who is looking for a great wine tasting experience.This installation of No Reservations features Joseph Phelps Freestone

JPFreestone Front View

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This article was previously featured on the American Winery Guide and is republished, by the author Martin Redmond

My wife and I do more than our fair share of wine tasting. More often than not, especially when visiting wine country, we plan to visit at least a few wineries. However, we it find equally satisfying when we visit one or two wineries, as part of a larger experience. Whenever we seek such an experience, we head west to the beautiful Sonoma Coast. Aside from some great Sonoma wineries, its beautifully rugged coastline, beaches, hiking trails and proximity to redwood forests offer a multitude of opportunities for Pacific Ocean sightseeing, strolls on the beach, picnicking, and hiking among other things. Whenever we venture out to West Sonoma County, one of our favorite wineries is Joseph Phelps Vineyard (“JPF”) in Freestone.

Read more…

The wines available for tasting include both Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast selections. My detailed tasting notes on the wines we tasted follow:

The Napa Valley selections included:

2012 Sauvignon Blanc – Floral and citrus aromatic with lively acidity, a creamy texture and citrus, melon and a hint of pineapple flavor Aged 7 months in French Oak. – 89pts

2010 Cabernet Sauvignon – Still young, but with aromatic tobacco, black and blue fruit, and spiced vanilla, flavors. Slightly tannic with a long finish. – 91pts

photo (27) (1)

2011 Eisrébe - a delightful Eiswein-style dessert wine made from a grape you don’t see much outside of Germany and Austria, Scheurebe. The grapes were picked at 23 brix and flash-frozen (we don’t get freezing weather in Napa Valley often). It shows expansive honey, citrus aromas, and was sweet without being cloying thanks to its very good acidity. – 91pts

The Sonoma Coast selections included:

2011 Fogdog Chardonnay – Entry level wine with apple, pear, vanilla, mineral and a kiss of spice aromatics and flavor with firm acidity. – 90pts

2011 Freestone Chardonnay – Apple, pear, floral, and spice aromatics. It’s fresh, with a creamy texture, and apple, pear, citrus, and melon flavors and a long finish. – 90pts

2010 Pinot Noir – Entry level wine with cherry, cola, and earth with a kiss of spice aroma. It’s shows bright acidity and cherry, and spice flavors and a lengthy finish. – 88pts

photo (26) (1)

2010 Pinot Noir, Quarter Moon – Single vineyard wine estate wine with billowing cherry, cranberry, and Asian spice aromas. Silky smooth with cherry, raspberry, spice and vanilla flavors. Long finish. My WOTD. – 92pts

We had a great experience at Joseph Phelps Freestone – Highly Recommended!

Wine of the Week: 2012 Franciscan Estate Equilibrium

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 Franciscan Estate Equilibrium.

The Winery

Franciscan Estate is an awarding winery located in the Oakville AVA of the Napa Valley. The winery was established in 1972 when,what was to become their estate vineyard, was planted by Justin Meyer , the founder of Silver Oak and Raymond Duncan. The winery was established in 1973.

Over the years, Franciscan Estate winemakers have been pioneers on the winemaking.   A couple of notable achievements include:

  • Recognizing that the world’s finest wines are blends, in 1985 Franciscan introduced Magnificat. Under vintner Agustin Huneeus, this proprietary blend of Bordeaux varietals championed the popular Meritage class of wines
  • Two years later, Franciscan made another dramatic impact on the world of wine when winemaker Greg Upton created Cuvée Sauvage, the first Napa Valley Chardonnay fermented with wild yeast.

We’re after the rare combination of rich, vibrant flavors and a supple, silky texture.  That is the Franciscan Estate signature – Janet Myers, Director of Winemaking

The Franciscan Estate sources their fruit from the aforementioned 240-acre estate vineyard planted in 1972, and throughout Napa Valley.  The Oakville estate is the source of their Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties.

They produce two tiers of wine, “Prestige”,  and “Napa Valley”.  The Director of Winemaking is Janet Myers.

The Wine

The name Equilibrium means “to come together in a state of harmonious balance.”  In the case of this wine, it’s unique blend of 72% Sauvignon Blanc, 17% Chardonnay, and 11% Muscat coming together to create a wine that is more than the sum of its parts. The wine was fermented in 83% stainless steel, and 17% in barrel.

The fruit for this wine was sourced from the cooler Southern end of the Napa Valley.

fe equilibrium

My tasting notes follow:

Very pale straw yellow color with aromatic guava, apple, pear, orange blossom and a bit of honeysuckle aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and refreshing with medium-acidity. It’s between dry and off-dry with a wonderful mouthfeel and stone-fruit, grapefruit, pear, and melon flavors and a medium-long finish. 12.5% alcohol| SRP – $23 |1,503 cases produced.

Rating: A-: I really enjoyed this wine.  Great summer sipper that works as an aperitif and with food!

Pair with: This is a food friendly wine.  We enjoyed with sushi, and sashimi (with which it paired surprisingly well) one night, and steamed mussels the next.  Try it with spicy Asian cuisines.

Sample provided for review by Folsom & Associates

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.

Drink Pink….Rosé of the Week: 2012 Broc Cellars White Zinfandel Arrowhead Mtn

It’s that time of year… Yes, it’s Rosé season!. With that in mind, I’ve embarked upon a   series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  This week’s Rosé is the 2012 Broc Cellars White Zinfandel Arrowhead Mtn.

Broc Cellars is an urban winery located in Berkeley, California.  The proprietor is Chris Brockway, who grew up on Omaha and attended the University of Nebraska where he majored in Philosophy.  After college, he worked in restaurants back home before moving to Seattle, Washington. That’s where he began to take an interest in wine. He decided to move to California to pursue a career in winemaking.  He took classes at UC Davis,  but transitioned to  Cal State Fresno where he  studied both winemaking and viticulture and earned his second degree in oenology in 2002.  Brockway was named the SF Chronicle’s Winemaker to Watch in 2012.

We are a ‘low wattage’ winery in the sense that we have very little modern equipment. Grapes are pitchforked whole-cluster into the fermenters, fermentation is allowed to happen spontaneously, all wines are basket pressed, with little/no sulphur used in our wines until bottling. True asphalt winemaking, in an urban winery.

Broc Cellars is a small operation (~2,000 cases/yr) located in a small “hole in the wall” facility west Berkeley.  Brockway is focused on using minimal-intervention techniques for his wines.  The wines are low-alcohol, high acid, low/integrated oak fermented on native yeasts.

I had the pleasure of visiting the winery a few months ago, and came away impressed by the wines.  I picked up this bottle of wine, and a few others including another Rosé previously featured in this series, the 2012 Santa Ynez Valley Rosé.

2012 Broc Cellars Zinfandel White Zinfandel Arrowhead Mtn

2012 Broc Cellars Zinfandel White Zinfandel Arrowhead Mtn

My tasting notes follow:

Pink grapefruit color with fresh cherry and nectarine skin aromas. On the palate, upon entry it’s between dry and off-dry, but on the back palate, it finishes dry. It shows medium-acid with slightly spiced strawberry, white peach, and a bit of nectarine flavors and a lengthy satisfying finish. $20 SRP| 12% alcohol

 

Rating:  A-: I never though I’d be saying this…but I love this Rosé of Zinfandel! It’s excellent and highly recommended!

Food pairing recommendation: Grilled Marinated Chicken Kebabs

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

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

Wine of the Week; 2010 Carlisle Russian River Valley “Martinelli Road Vineyard” Zinfandel

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  For this week, my Wine Of The Week is the 2010 Carlisle Zinfandel Martinelli Road Vineyard

Winery

Carlisle Winery & Vineyards is a small Sonoma County based winery  based in Santa Rosa. According their website they specialize in the..

…production of old-vine, vineyard designated Zinfandels and red Rhone varieties (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, and Petite Sirah).

Mike Officer is the Owner/Winemaker.  He caught the wine “bug” early – at age 19 – when he tasted a late-harvest Riesling (It seems like we all start with sweet wines doesn’t it?) After graduating from college, he worked in software development for five years, but realized that was not his passion.  He knew the answer would involve wine, but he wasn’t sure in what capacity.

He decided to try winemaking,  starting with making 5 gallons of Zinfandel in his kitchen.  Some years later, he  and his wife Kendall found themselves making 300 cases of “garage” wine.  They decided to jump in with both feet and established Carlisle Winery & Vineyards in 1998.  They’ve focused on old-vine Zinfandel, and red Rhône blends, until the 2010 vintage, when they made their first white wines.

In addition to their own estate vineyard, they source grapes from Sonoma County, primarily the Russian River, and Dry Creek AVAs.  Officer always been a fan of old-vine vineyards.   In fact, of the 16 vineyard sources listed on their website, half ( Gold Mine RanchMartinelli Road VineyardMontafi RanchPagani Ranch VineyardPapera Ranch, Rossi Ranch Vineyard, Saitone Ranch, and Two Acres) are considered historic vineyards by the Historic Vineyard Society .

Carlisle wines are available via a mailing list.  The mailing list is currently closed, but if you would like to be added to the waiting list, click here.

The Wine

Fruit for this wine is from the Martinelli Road Vineyard, located on Martinelli Road between Forestville and Guerneville in the Russian River Valley.  It was first planted in the early 1870′s by the Banfield Family.  Most of the vines succumbed to Phylloxera within their first decade of life. The Banfields sold the property to the Butlers in the 1880′s and any dead or diseased vines were replaced. In 1903, Giuseppe Martinelli purchased the ranch,and it’s been in the family until it was recently sold to the McWilliams Family of Arista Winery. Unlike many old-vine vineyards, the Martinelli Road Vineyard is nearly 100% Zinfandel. Out of the five acres of old vines,  the only other known vines are two Mourvèdre vines, two Blauer Portugeiser vines, and one unidentified white.

A favorite at ZAP’s Grand Tasting in January 2012, even among those preferring lighter, more elegant wines.

The grapes were picked at 25.2 Brix. After a five-day cold-soak, indigenous fermentation began. Pressed after 16 days on the skins to all French oak, 22% new. It was bottled unfined and unfiltered.

Carlisle Martinelli Road Zin

My tasting notes follow:

 Violet color with slightly earthy cherry, raspberry, mineral, and baking spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh, and shows vibrant youthful raspberry, cherry, and spice flavors. Medium/long finish.

Rating: Highly recommended. I was surprised to see it was 16.3% alcohol.  It’s doesn’t drink like a heavyweight owing to it’s surprising acidity. It’s young, and while it’s drinking well now, it will be get better with additional aging. Now if I can just keep my hands off of it for a few years!

Pair with:  Certainly you could go the traditional burger and BBQ route, but wine is up for a challenge.  Pair with Seared Ahi Tuna, Brazilian Feijoada, Roast lamb, or hearty Pasta with Artichoke, Pancetta, and Mushrooms.  And this would be fantastic with a dish I sampled at Zinfest last week -  Moroccan Carmoula seafood with couscous Tanzanian coconut fish!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Wine purchased for review

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Petite Sirah Paradise…Dark and Delicious 2013!

One of my favorite Bay Area food and wine events, the 7th annual Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah is coming to Alameda later this month!  Dark & Delicious (“D&D”) is the preeminent annual Petite Sirah event in the world.  It’s put on each year by  P.S. I Love You, an association of Petite Sirah growers, producers and winemakers.

Dark and Delicious 2013

Image courtesy of psIloveyou.org.

In a nutshell, it’s 50 + wineries pouring Petite Sirah (“P.S.”), collaborating with 35 food purveyors for a food and wine extravaganza.

For the uninitiated, here’s a quick 411 on P.S.

  • Created by François Durif, it is the love child of a noble grape, Syrah, and an obscure peasant grape Peloursin in 1880
  • 90% of the world’s P.S. vineyards are in California
  • Produces big, masculine, typically ink-colored wines that tend to be tannic with moderate to high-acidity
  • Sometimes (increasingly it seems) referred to as Durif

What makes this event special for me is…

  • It’s a”one-stop” tasting of P.S. from producers throughout Cali.  It’s a great chance to experience the diversity of P.S. both geographically, and stylistically.
  • It’s a great opportunity to get to know P.S. as a food partner beyond the typical steak and BBQ because you get a chance to try all manner of gustatory delights from savory to sweet and everything in between.
  • It’s offers great value! For the price of a couple of Napa Valley wine tasting, you can eat and drink (responsibly of course;-) to your heart’s content.
  • It has the most evocatively appropriate name of all the wine events I attend…it put’s a smile on my face whenever I think “Dark & Delicious”!

To illustrate my second point above…a couple of my favorite unexpectedly delightful food and wine pairings from last year’s event were  Bhel Puri, an “Indian Street Food” of puffed rice, garbanzo flour noodles, wheat crisps, Russet potatoes, Jazz apples, Sweet onion, Zante currants, mint cilantro chutney, tamarind chutney, and blackberry chutney. The other was my favorite chocolate and P.S. pairing of the night (there were many) – Bacon Salted Caramel (made with Zoe’s Meats applewood smoked bacon, organic sugar and an English dark cane syrup dipped in 72% E. Guittard chocolate and finished with applewood smoked salt) from Nosh This.  Mmmm….my mouth is starting to water as I recollect the pairings (Click here for my recap of last year’s event Dark & Delicious)!

I’ve been the last couple of years and it’s gotten better each time. And I expect this year will be the best yet!  Go check it out!  Your palate and belly will thank you!

P.S. I Love You Dark and Delicious Tasting
February 22nd, 2012
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
The Rock Wall Wine Company
2301 Monarch Street
Alameda, CA 94501 (map)

Tickets are $63 per person (free parking), and the event has sold out in the past.  For more details and tickets click here.  

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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

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