Wine of the Week: 2011 Faust 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.  My Wine Of The Week is the 2011 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The Winery

Faust Winery is the creation of Augustin Huneeus and it continues to satisfy his long-held desire to produce a wine that embodies the most seductive characteristics of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Born in Santiago, Chile, Agustin is one of the few vintners who has dedicated his entire professional life to wine.  With a career spanning 50 years, he has produced wine in more than 15 countries.  Perhaps best known today for creating Quintessa, the stunning biodynamic vineyard and winery estate he and his wife Valeria own in Rutherford, Napa Valley, Agustin is recognized as a driving force in how fine wine is produced, recognized, sold and marketed in the United States.  The philosophy that great vineyards make great wine is his guiding principle.

The Faust vineyard is located in Coombsville, Napa Valley’s newest appellation located in the eastern foothills south of Atlas Peak.  It consists of 110 acres of mature Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot vines, with small plantings of Petit Verdot, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc.  The vineyard is farmed in ten distinct blocks, all of which have a unique character.  Yields on the property are especially low as extra care is put into practices such as winter pruning, green harvest and selective picking.

Faust also seeks small lots from family growers in other unique Napa Valley growing districts including Yountville, Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder, St. Helena and Rutherford.

In addition to this wine, Faust also produces two other wines which are 100% Cabernet Sauvignon – “The Pact” (sourced from Napa Valley’s newest appellation – Coombsville), and “The Lure” (sourced from the renowned Stagecoach Vineyard).

Faust is certified under the Napa Green Certified Land Program.

The Wine

The wine is a blend of all five of the six Bordeaux grape varieties featuring 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Franc.  The grapes are sourced from throughout the Napa Valley including estate vineyards in Coombsville, and Rutherford and Yountville, Mount Veeder, Atlas Peak, and St. Helena.

All grapes were hand-picked, double-sorted and crushed, then cold-soaked and fermented in both French oak and stainless steel tanks.  After an extended maceration, Faust was aged for 19 months in French oak.

78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec, 1% Cabernet Franc; 14.2% Alcohol

Faust
My tasting notes follow:
Dark ruby color with enticing dark cherry, dark chocolate, dried herb and spice aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied,  and concentrated, with harmonious fruit, acidity, and tannins and a supple texture.  It shows delicious dark cherry, cassis, spice flavors with a subtle minerality.  Long finish.  Drink now, but will age for 5-7 years  >>Find this wine<<
Rating: A: A delicious and harmonious Bordeaux blend!

Pair with: Lamb chops, Korean Sizzling Beef,  Slow cooked Beef Brisket or Meatloaf

Wine provided as a sample for review.  Many thanks to Fineman PR

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
__________________________________________________________________

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.

T.G.I.F. Champagne And The Like…NV Mionetto Cartizze Prosecco

I drink more than my fair share of sparkling wine.  By my count, last year I enjoyed 50-60 bottles of sparkling wine.  Which type of sparkling wine I chose is driven by my mood, the food, and my budget.  I tend to like Cava, and Prosecco for my “weeknight” sparklers, while enjoying more expensive sparkling wines, and Champagne for special occasions, or on the weekends.

What I enjoy about Prosecco is that it tends to be a bit fruitier, less demanding (no significant contemplation needed), and lower in alcohol than Champagne and other sparkling wines.  That’s because its secondary fermentation takes place in a stainless steel pressurized tank, rather than individual bottles. Nor is Prosecco aged, which is what gives sparklers that undergo secondary fermentation in individual bottles their complexity (click here for a great explanation of how sparklers are produced).

For many years Prosecco was used to describe both the grape, and the region where the grape are grown.  In mid 2009, Italian wine regulations were revised to clearly state that Prosecco was no longer to be classified as a grape, but a region that was clearly delimited.  There are two such regions classified as a DOCG, the highest status for Italian wines.  Additionally, there are at least eight regions classified as DOC, the next to highest status for Italian Wines.  Nowadays, the grape is known as Glera.

This wine is produced from grapes grown in the Cartizze DOCG, a sub-zone of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene.  The hill of Cartizze is 107 hectares, which is divided amongst 140 small growers. Renowned throughout the region for the quality of its fruit, it one of the world’s most expensive bits of vineyard real estate. And it produces relatively minuscule amounts of fruit.  Of the approximately 150 million bottles of Prosecco produced annually, only about 1.4 million bottles originate from Cartizze.  It can certainly be considered to be the grand cru of Prosecco.

The producer, Mionetto is the importer of the best-selling brand of Prosecco in the US.  They have been making Prosecco since 1887!

NV Mionetto Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze Dry (Photo courtesy of Mionetto)

NV Mionetto Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze Dry

Region: ItalyVenetoProsecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze

Variety –  Glera

Residual Sugar – 2.5%

11% a.b.v. Retails for about $25

Production method: Methodo Italiano (Bulk Charmat)

My tasting notes follow:

Very light straw color with pretty floral, stone fruit, and cracker aromas. On the palate, fresh, fruity ,and approaching medium bodied with moderately creamy mousse, and extra dry-ish with honey, clementine, and a touch of stone fruit flavors. Medium finish.

Pair with: The beauty of sparkling wines is their versatility with food, because of their palate cleansing quality (think scrubbing bubbles;-). This was very nice as an aperitif, and just as nice with food.  I enjoyed with spicy Cioppino. Pair with shellfish, or this sparkler has enough sweetness to pair with a light dessert like cream puffs, or fruit tart.

If you want to try upscale Prosecco, this one is a good place to start. This one was a gift from a friend in the wine business (Thanks John!).  I’m glad I tried it, but at $25 or so a bottle I can’t recommend – 89pts   (Click here to find this wine) 

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Ten Commandments of Wine

My wife and I are in Spain! One of the highlights of our trip is our stay in quaint town of Haro, in the heart of La Rioja – Spanish Wine Country. While staying  at Los Augustinos Hotel in Haro, we saw this sign… photo (39) As near as I can figure it out, this is how I believe the above translates into English… The 10 Commandments of Wine

  1. You will love wine above all other things.
  2. Swear to drink it in the summer and the winter.
  3. Sanctify wineries
  4. Honor thy red and thy white.
  5. Don’t have a snack with less than 3 liters.
  6. May it never be your destiny to mix water and wine.
  7. Never steal a bottle or wine bag that is empty or broken.
  8. Never mutter or lie without being drunk.
  9. Whenever you desire someone else’s bottle, let it be 16 liters and full
  10. Observe the The Three C’s, drink with calm, quality (cualidad in Spanish), and without change.

There’s some good stuff here for sure, though the list is clearly dated (it refers to a wine bag, a massive quantities of wine in #5, and #9). But the list got me thinking about my own 10 commandments of wine.  Here they are…

  1. Honor they red, white, dry pink, sparkling and dessert wines
  2. Thou shall keep an open mind about wine and continually expand thy palate. Try something new every now and then. Wonderful wines come in a variety of styles, and from all over the world.
  3. Thou shall serve wine at the appropriate temperature to maximize enjoyment.  I suggest using the “20/20” rule as a rule of thumb: take white wine out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving, and put red wine in the fridge 20 minutes before serving.
  4. Thou shall not believe there is a direct correlation between price and quality, or between the quality of the wine and it’s closure (i.e. a wine closed with a screw-cap don’t automatically equal horrible wine)
  5. Thou shall be thy own best critic – Trust your taste buds, and your won’t go wrong…#drinkwutchyalike
  6. Thou shall not mix water and wine (especially frozen water!) – In other words thou shalt not rinse they wine glass with water, then drink more wine!
  7. If thou are at a crowded winery, thou shall not hog the tasting bar.  Get thou glass of wine, then step back…Do unto others..
  8. Thou shall realize the only wine and food pairing rule is that there are no rules. There is no ONE wine to go perfectly with a dish.  Many may work well.
  9. Thou shall realize that a wine’s “legs’ are not a sign of quality
  10. Thou shall share great bottles of wine with friends who appreciate it!

What are your 10 commandments of wine? Leave a comment and let me know! In vino veritas!

TGIF Bubbly; NV Terre di San Venanzio Fortunato Prosecco

My wife and I 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 workweek.  She get’s to drink and enjoy the bubbly, while I get to drink, enjoy and blog about it!  This week’s sparkling wine is the NV Terre di San Venanzio Fortunato Prosecco

The Winery

Terre di San Venanzio Fortunato is a family owned winery located near the most prestigious ‘cru’ of Cartizze in Valdobbiadene. The winery is named after San Venanzio Fortunato,  a Latin poet born in Valdobbiadene in the sixth century, who was elected Bishop at Poitiers in France.

They produce limited quantities of Prosecco Superiore DOCG sparkling wines including Brut, Extra Dry, Millesimato, and their top of the line Superiore di Cartizze.  They also produce two non Prosecco Superiore DOCG sparkling wines – a Rose, and Prosecco Treviso.

The Wine

For many years Prosecco was used to describe both the grape, and the region where the grape are grown.  In mid 2009, Italian wine regulations were revised to clearly state that Prosecco was no longer to be classified as a grape, but a region that was clearly delimited.  There are two such regions classified as a DOCG, the highest status for Italian wines. This one is from one of those regions known as Conegliano Valdobbiadene.

Most Prosecco is made in the extra-dry (a.k.a. extra-brut) style, meaning they have higher levels of residual sugar resulting in a touch of sweetness, but this wine is made in the “Brut” style more familiar to most American palates.  The producer does several secondary fermentations per year to ensure freshness.

This wine is a direct buy at K&L Wine Merchants.

NV Terre di San Venanzio Fortunato Prosecco

NV Terre di San Venanzio Fortunato Prosecco

My tasting notes follow:

Very pale straw yellow color with lots of pin prick bubbles. Shows aromas of green apples, stone fruits, and white flowers. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, dry with a creamy mousse and apple, white peach flavors with a mineral undertone. Medium finish. Great QPR @$12

Rating:  B+ : I think I just found a new “house” Prosecco!

Pair with: We paired with a variety of sushi rolls, and it was a very good pairing! Since this is a Brut, rather than extra-dry style, I think it’s a more versatile food pairing partner.  Pair with appetizers/snack like popcorn, chips or ceviche, or light main course with fish, seafood, crustaceans, tamales, fish tacos or pasta primavera!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

Here’s an interesting aside – The producer recommends drinking this from a “Reidel goblet” rather than the typical flute!  Great idea!  I often drink bubbly from a regular wine glass…

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.

 

TGIF Bubbly – Bouvet Signature Brut

My wife and I 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 workweek.  She get’s to drink, and enjoy the bubbly, while I get to drink, enjoy and blog about it!  This week’s sparkling wine is the NV Bouvet Signature Brut

The Winery

Bouvet-Ladubay history dates back to 1851, when it was founded by Etienne Bouvet.  It is the second oldest sparkling wine–producing house in Saumur.  By 1890, it had become France’s largest producer of méthode traditionnelle wines. It remains one of France’s greatest producers of méthode traditionnelle sparkling wine using the Loire Valley’s indigenous Chenin Blanc blended with small amounts of Chardonnay.

For Bouvet-Ladubay, wine is a living art that must be practiced with wisdom, uniting tradition, experience and the most finely tuned technology in the creation of refined, handcrafted wines of impeccable quality and consistency.

After the untimely deaths of three of the Bouvet heirs in the early 1900s left Bouvet-Ladubay without a guiding hand, the increasingly troubled firm was purchased by Justin Monmousseau and merged with his own still wine–producing firm in 1933. It is currently run by the fourth generation of the Monmousseau family.  In July 2006, Bouvet was acquired by Dr. Vijay Mallya of the world’s largest group of alcoholic beverages, the UB Group, based in India.

The Wine

Bouvet-Ladubay sources its fruit from more than 100 plots in the Loire Valley.  It has  long-standing relationships with many winegrowers. The limestone subsoil of the Loire Valley is ideal for the cultivation of Chenin Blanc.  The mild climate coupled with excellent drainage of the clay creates the natural acidity needed to produce a balanced sparkling white wine. The grapes are pressed in the vineyards and the juice is delivered directly to their cellars. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel, then the finest wines from each lot are blended and the cuvée is bottled for the second fermentation.  The wine is aged for two years.  It is imported by Kobrand Wine & Spirits.

Bouvet Sparkling wine

My tasting notes follow:

Pale golden-yellow color with big bubbles and low-key yeast and green apple aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, and straight forward with moderately creamy mousse and melon, green apple mineral flavors. Short finish – 85pts

Rating: B -  This is a good bottle of bubble, and a nice alternative to Champagne.  This bottle was gift.  It retails for $16 ($12 ClubBev) at BevMo. But I can think of a few bottles of bubbly I enjoy more for less…

Pair with: This one is an excellent aperitif.  Pair with fried snacks like seasoned popcorn, potato chips, or french fries. Also pair with golden king crab, shrimp and lobster dipped in drawn butter!

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 12.5% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • Where it’s from: > FranceLoire Valley
  • Grape varieties: 80% Chenin Blanc, 20% Chardonnay
  • Production method: Traditional Method
  • Dosage: Brut
  • Retail: $12
  • Cases produced: Unknown
  • Drink: Now – 2014
  • >>Find this wine<<

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.

 

Recap of Dark & Delicious 2013 – The Petite Sirah Event Of The Year!

I attended the 7th annual Dark & Delicious (“D&D”) last Friday, February 22nd.  D&D is an excellent opportunity to take a walk on the “dark side” for  Petite Sirah (“P.S” – a.k.a. “Pet”.) and food lovers.  The event is put on by an advocacy group of P.S. winegrowers, and producers known as P.S. I Love You.

Seventh Annual Dark & Delicious Recap - Artezin Vendor Shot

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, bold, typically ink-colored age-worthy wines with black and blue fruit flavors that tend to be tannic with moderate to high-acidity
  • Sometimes referred to as Durif
P.S. I Love You - glasses at the ready

P.S. I Love You – glasses at the ready – Image courtesy of Jojo Ong

This year’s event featured about 50 wineries.  I’d estimate there were 125-150 wines available for tasting.  So there was beaucoup wine, including some older vintages like this wine from Teldeschi…

Seventh Annual Dark & Delicious Recap - 2002 Teldeschi

The reason D&D is one of my favorite wine and food events goes beyond my love of the Petite Sirah varietal.  Petite Sirah is an underrated, food friendly wine that is capable of pairing with so much more that the typical BBQ and roast meats with which it is  so often recommended. D&D is a great opportunity to try P.S with a variety of ethnic foods…

Seventh Annual Dark & Delicious Recap - Paella

and pork…Since the event is sponsored by the National Pork Board…there is plenty of pork ( a good thing in my book) in all of its glorious forms.

And there was chocolate…plenty of chocolate…

Dark and Delicious Healdsburg Toffee Company

Delectable chocolate treats from The Healdsburg Toffee Company

The wine and food pairing of the night for me was the 2011 Miro Petite Sirah paired with Blue Heron Catering‘s Braised Pork Belly Meatball.  I would love to have shown you a photo but every time I went back for more all I could think about were those meatballs, which are among the best I’ve ever had!

On the wine front, whenever I come to an event such as this with so many wines to try, I prioritize my tasting such that I try wines from wineries that are new to me first, saving some of my tried and true favorites for later. Even so, it’s impossible for me to taste all the wines available.  I ended up trying about 50 wines.  My favorite wines, rated as “outstanding” (90+ points), were:

  • 2010 Aaron Jackson Wines Petite Sirah
  • 2009 Aver Family Vineyards Petite Sirah Blessings
  • 2009 Carica Petite Sirah Kick Ranch
  • 2009 David Fulton Petite Sirah
  • 2006 Delectus Petite Sirah
  • 2008 Field Stone Petite Sirah Staten Family Reserve
  • 2007 Gustafson Family Vineyards Petite Sirah
  • 2007 Ridge Petite Sirah Dynamite Hill York Creek Vineyards
  • 2010 Ridge Petite Sirah Lytton Estate
  • 2009 Robert Biale Petite Sirah Thomann Station
  • 2010 Robert Biale Like Father Like Son
  • 2010 Robert Biale Petite Sirah Basic Black Rutherford
  • 2010 Robert Biale Petite Sirah Dessert Wine (fabulous with fudge!)
  • 2009 Rock Wall Wine Co. Petite Sirah Carver Sutro Palisades
  • 2010 Rock Wall Wine Co. Petite Sirah C.C. Ranch
  • 2006 Stage Left Cellars Petite Sirah Russell Family Vineyards
  • 2010 Tres Sabores Petite Sirah
  • 2010 Trueheart Vineyard Petite Sirah
  • 2009 Viszlay Vineyards Petite Sirah

This event will continue to be circled in red on my annual wine event calendar because it’s a fantastic food and wine experience.

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 – 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.

 

Open That Bottle The Day After!

Open That Bottle Night was held last this past weekend – Saturday, February 23rd (it’s the last Saturday in February annually).  Ever since I found out about “Open That Bottle Night” (“OTBN”) several years ago, I’ve looked forward to participating every year.  However, I wasn’t able to participate this year due to a previous family commitment.

Not familiar with OTBN?  It was created by Dorothy J. Gaiter, with her husband John Brecher, who wrote the wine column Tastings for The Wall Street Journal from 1998 to 2009in the year 2000. It has been celebrated every year since.  According to the OTBN website (check it out for OTBN storiesparty ideas )…

Every year since 2000, on a special Saturday night in February, friends, couples and groups around the world get together to enjoy particular bottles of wine, champagne and spirits. The bottle that you enjoy, traditionally, is one that you have been saving for some special event that, so far, has never quite happened. Open That Bottle Night (OTBN) is the event you have been waiting for…the time when you are entitled to uncork that cherished bottle and enjoy the contents. It doesn’t matter if the wine is expensive or low cost, white or red, or even if it is still good. What matters are the memories

Candidly, I’m not very good at saving a bottle for a special event and somehow not quite getting around to it. I get around to it!  If anything, I have the opposite challenge…keeping my hands off of wines that would benefit from some additional bottle aging.  Nonetheless, it’s been my annual excuse to participate in this great event, whether to commit another case of vinous infanticide or just open great “weekend” bottle of wine that is ready!

Thanks to one of our vinous partners-in-crime, Manny, we had the opportunity to celebrate OTBN, at least in spirit, the next day (this past Sunday).  It came in the form of his invitation for a ‘Wine Masters Library Tasting”.

This is a rare and exclusive gathering for our small list of wine masters to bring a library wine to share with fellow enthusiasts over the course of a lazy afternoon!

While I don’t count myself to be a wine “master”, there is no doubting that myself and the other participants are avid wine enthusiasts.  One is even a sommelier!

We couldn’t have picked a better day to “Open That Bottle” for our Master’s Library Tasting. It was a beautiful day – sunny and in the 60s.  Though we were tasting inside, this view beckoned us with each sip and nibble…It was a beautiful day!

OTBN Oakland Estuary View

It was an intimate gathering. There were eight of us who tasted all the wines.

In addition to tasting wine, Manny was doing his thing in the kitchen so we had plenty of fab food too! As the saying goes…Manny really “put his foot in it“.

The wines and my tasting notes are listed below, in the order tasted.

We decided to taste the Merlot first, in part because we suspected it may have been past its prime.  It was. But it wasn’t bad either.  One of the tasters suggested it “needed food”.  I think she was right!

OTBN Wine 1 Forest Glen Merlot

  • 2003 Forest Glen Merlot - USA, California, Sonoma County, Sonoma Coast
    Brickish garnet color with low-key tobacco, oak, and cherry aromas. On the palate, it’s light-bodied, easy with dried dark cherry, and slightly savory flavors. Short finish.  (84 pts.)

The next bottle of wine was the most interesting to me. First of all,  Zinfandel isn’t the top of mind when it comes to wines that age well. So when I saw a 1994 Zin, I had my doubts. The wine was also from a producer who is apparently either no longer in business or making Zinfandel (I couldn’t find it in CellarTracker – definitely an exception).

I was also surprised to see it was only 13.5% alcohol, especially being from Amador County where high temps can drive up sugar/alcohol levels.  It was a surprisingly good bottle of wine.  Score!

OTBN Wine 2 Sutter Ridge Zinfandel

  • 1994 Sutter Ridge ZinfandelUSA, California, Amador County
    Opaque dullish tawny color earthy, spiced kirsch aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, and smooth with gobs of vibrant spiced cherry liqueur flavors. Medium finish.   (88 pts.)

After a bit of discussion about which wine to taste next we decided to go with a Napa Valley Cabernet Franc from Ehlers Estate.

Ehlers Estate was established in 1886 by Bernard Ehlers. Today, the winery is part of the Leducq Foundation, a non-profit entity started by Jean and Sylviane Leducq.  All the profits from the winery go the foundation, which is devoted to supporting cardiovascular research around the world.

You don’t find Cabernet Franc as a stand along bottling often, but this one from Ehlers is a was straight up steller!

OTBN Wine 2 Ehlers Cabernet Franc

  • 2008 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc St. Helena - USA, California, Napa Valley, St. Helena
    Garnet color with cherry, oak, cigar box, and violet and dried herb  aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, fresh and lively, and smooth textured with sweet tannins and black cherry, blueberry, plum, vanilla, mineral and spice flavors. Long finish  (91 pts.)

The next wine was from Portugal.  It is produced by the Symington Family.  In addition to the Altano label under which this wine is sold, they also sell Port (most notably Warre’s, Cockburn’s, and Graham’s) , Madiera, and other still wines. The wine is a blend of  70% Touriga Francesa, 30% Touriga Nacional.

Touriga Franca has been described by Jancis Robinson as playing “Cabernet Franc to Touriga Nacional’s Cabernet Sauvignon

This was my first still red wine from Portugal…What a great introduction.  Pleased to meet you indeed!

OTBN Wine 4 Symington Altano Douro Reserva

  • 2003 Symington Douro Altano Reserva - Portugal, Douro
    Dark garnet with a brickish hue and earthy, oak, black cherry, and violet aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with black cherry, spice, and mineral flavors. Medium-long finish. Drinking well! (90 pts.)

What we though was going to be the grand finale was the wine from the iconic Ridge Vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Ridge Vineyards  is a California winery with two estates, Monte Bello in Cupertino, and Lytton Springs in Healdsburg.  They are best known for producing single-vineyard premium Bordeaux style Cabernet Sauvignon Blend (“Monte Bello”), Zinfandel, and Chardonnay.  Ridge was established by three engineers from nearby Stanford Research Institute.  They produced its first commercial wine in 1962 after purchasing the winery in 1960.

It wasn’t too long after that Ridge gained an international  rep when the  Ridge Monte Bello, under the direction of winemaker Paul Draper , took fifth place in the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976 against nine other French and California wines.  Here’s what’s really cool though, the 1976 Monte Bello unanimously took first place in The Judgment of Paris 30th Anniversary when it was tasted against the same wines thirty years later!

This particular wine might be considered “Monte Bello Junior.”  The grapes for the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon are sourced from the same famed Monte Bello vineyard that produces the flagship Ridge “Monte Bello”.  However, after years of experience, Ridge has learned that certain parcels produce a more approachable wine that develops its full complexity earlier.  Those grapes go into the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (formerly the Santa Cruz Mountains prior to the 2008 vintage).

Thus, from one vineyard, we make two wines – distinct in style, but sharing the vineyard’s individuality.

It’s hands down one of the best values in Cabernet Sauvignon you’ll find!

OTBN Wine 5 Ridge Estate Cab

  • 2008 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Estate - USA, California, San Francisco Bay, Santa Cruz Mountains
    Carmine color with beguiling cassis, tobacco, black cherry, and violet aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, balanced, and fresh blueberry, black cherry, and bittersweet chocolate flavors with well-integrated tannins. Medium-long finish.75% Cabernet Sauvignon/20% Merlot/3% Petit Verdot/2% Cabernet Franc 13.5% Alcohol (91 pts.)

The next wine turned out to be the grand finale because after we polished it off the Ridge Estate Cab…well we were having such a good ole time talking about life, love, and wine that, it just didn’t feel like it was time to go.  At that point, our friend Lamont offered to go home and pick up a magnum of a “nice Bordeaux”…Sure why not?!  Twenty minutes later we were pouring this beautiful wine in the decanter!

Château Malescot St. Exupéry has a long history in the Margaux appellation of the Bordeaux region of France.  Records indicate wine was produced here as far back as 1608.  But the winery as it is known today came about in 1955, when purchased by father and son team Paul and Roger Zuger.  The vineyards are planted to 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot,10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Petit Verdot.

The wine produced here was classified as one of fourteen Troisièmes Crus (Third Growths) in the historic Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855.

OTBN Wine 6 Chateau Malescot

  • 2005 Château Malescot St. Exupéry - France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux
    Inky color with complex earthy, smoke, cassis, black cherry, spice and a hint of licorice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied refined, and focused with cassis, black cherry, spice and sweet oak flavors. Long finish. From 1.5L bottle (93 pts.)

It looks like we saved the best for last! The consensus wine of the day was Château Malescot St. Exupéry.

It was a great afternoon/evening of friends, food and of course wine.  And in the true spirit of “Open That Bottle Night”, we made some great memories!

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.

T.G.I.F. Bubbly – Bisol Desiderio Jeio Cuvée Rosé

My wife and I 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 workweek.  She get’s to drink, and enjoy the bubbly, while I get to drink, enjoy and blog about it!  This week’s sparkling wine is the Bisol Desiderio Jeio Cuvée Rosé

The Winery

Bisol Desiderio Jeio Cuvée Rosé is produced under the Desiderio Jeio label by the Bisol Family. The Bisol family also produces prosecco under the Bisol label.

The Bisol family had deep roots in the heart of the Prosecco and Cartizze production zone (considered to be the “Grand Cru of Prosecco).  In the 1920s Desidiero (affectionately referred to as “Jeio” by his wife) Bisol, son of Eliseo Bisol established a winery on land the family had occupied since the 16th century. His sons now run the company, which specializes in prosecco, the light sparkling wine made from the Glera grape.

“Champagne is the king of the bubble,” Mr. Bisol says. “But prosecco maybe can be considered the small prince.”

Bisol produces prosecco in many styles and price ranges, as well as a sparkling brut rosé from pinot nero (known elsewhere as pinot noir), still whites and reds from local varietals, and grappa, the Italian brandy made from pomace.

The Wine

I found this unique sparkling wine at the Wine Mine. It’s unique sparkling wine in that it’s made from Pinot Nero (Noir) and Merlot – a grape not typically associated with Italian wines.

A short maceration on the skins of Merlot and Pinot Noir with the juice gives this sparkling wine an intense pink color.

My tasting notes follow

Delicate pink color with tiny dispersed bubbles with low-key raspberry  and rose aromas. On the palate it’s fresh, lively and dry with a creamy mousse followed by strawberry, raspberry, and mineral flavors. Short clean finish.  - 86pts

Rating: Recommended! I’d buy this one again, and it’s definitely worth trying and represents very good value – especially for a sparkling Rosé, which tend to be priced higher than their non-Rose siblings.

Pair with: Seafood dishes and delicate foods

The Wine Geek Stuff:

  • Alcohol: 12.% alcohol.
  • Closure: Cork
  • Where it’s from: > Italy> Veneto
  • Grape varieties: 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Merlot
  • Production method: Charmat 
  • Dosage: Brut
  • Retail: $12.99
  • Cases produced: Unknown
  • Drink: Now – 2014
  • >>Find this wine<<

Wine purchased for review

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; 2009 Zotovich Cellars Estate Syrah

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 Zotovich Cellars Estate Syrah.

Winery

Zotovich Cellars is a small (they produce about 1,700 cases of wine annually) family operated winery producing 100% Santa Rita Hills Estate Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay & Viognier.   The partners in the winery are the owner Steve Zotovich, and his nephew Ryan Zotovich who is the Winemaker.

Wine of the Week; 2009 Zotovich Cellars Estate Syrah

Steve & Ryan Zotovich (Vineyard Owner/Partner & Winemaker/Partner) – Image courtesy of Zotovich Cellars

I was introduced to Zotovich Cellars when we visited the Lompoc Wine Ghetto in April last year.  We had the good fortune of Pete Zotovich pouring for us.  The day we visited they were pouring this wine along with their Chardonnay, Rosé, Pinot Noir, and Reserve Pinot Noir. It was a close call, between this wine and their Reserve Pinot Noir, but I picked up this bottle of wine.

The Wine

One hundred percent of the grapes crushed into Zotovich wine are grown on their 35-acre Zotovich estate vineyard located off Route 246, between Melville and Foley.  The Santa Rita Hills AVA  is exposed to fog and coastal breezes from the nearby Pacific Ocean. The hills run east to west, which allows cool ocean breezes from the Pacific to enter the hills and create a cool micro-climate. As such, this is considered to be a “cool-climate” Syrah. Cool climate Syrah smells, and tasted different that its warm weather counter-parts.  They typically have higher levels of acidity and freshness.

While the wine was fermenting, it was punched down three times daily. Following primary fermentation, free run juice was extracted, barreled down and then the skins were gently pressed to extract the remaining wine.  Thereafter, the wine underwent malolactic fermentation before being bottled.

2009 Zotovich Family Estate Syrah

2009 Zotovich Family Estate Syrah

My tasting note follows:

Violet color with roasted dark fruit, pepper, and hints of fig and espresso aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-full-bodied, and nicely balanced with great acidity, supple tannins, and baked plum, pepper, and black currant flavors. Medium -Long finish. – 91 pts

Rating: Highly recommended. This wine is a great example of a “cool climate” Syrah.

Pair with:  This is a very food friendly wine in my book. Pair with lamb, sausages, chili con carne, venison, and hearty stews!

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.