Wine of the Week; 2012 Concha y Toro 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.  This week’s wine is the 2012 Concha y Toro Cabernet Sauvignon Casillero del Diablo Legendary Collection.

The Winery

Casillero del Diablo is one of the many brands of Concha Y Toro, the largest producer of wines from Latin America and is one of the global leaders in wine production. Legend has it that Don Melchor de Santiago Concha y Toro, who founded Concha Y Toro in 1883, created the wine legend of  ”Casillero del Diablo” (which translates to the “Devil’s cellar”) when he spread rumors that the devil lived in the cellar to keep strangers away from his private reserve.

Casillero del Diablo is one of the most popular brands in its native Chile, and the most renown Chilean wine brand in the world. It is sold in 135 countries and they sell around three million cases a year.

Since 2010 has partnered with English Football Club Manchester United. This wine is

The Wine

Fruit for this wine was sourced from the one of Chile’s most promising regions, the Colchagua Valley in central Chile.  The area is known for producing some of Chile’s finest wine, primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere , and Syrah.

This wine is blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Carmenere. It was aged for 14 months in a combination of medium-toasted French and American oak barrels.

14.5% alcohol; Retail – $18

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My tasting notes follow:

Dark garnet color with plum, violet, blackberry, eucalyptus, oak. and dried herb aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied with a supple texture and cassis, blackberry, and a bit of dark chocolate flavors. Medium-long finish.

Rating: B+; I really enjoyed this wine!  While this is a one-time commemorative bottling, this is a Cab I recommend seeking out, especially if you like a bit of “greeness” in your Cab.   It offers very good value!  >>Find this wine<<

Pair with: Grilled meats, stews and hard cheeses

Sample provided for review. Many thanks to Creative Palate Communications!

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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

Wine of the Week; 2012 Sandlands Chenin Blanc

Every Thursday I feature a wine I particularly enjoy, whether it’s something new and different, is a great value, or from a producer worth checking out.  This week’s wine the 2012 Sandlands Chenin Blanc is all of the above.

From The Winery

Sandlands is the personal project of Tegan and Olivia Passalacqua. The line-up encompasses the forgotten classic California varieties, primarily grown in decomposed granite (sand), from regions and vineyards that have been farmed for many generations but have remained the outliers of California viticulture. 

Primarily head-trained, dry-farmed and own rooted, the vineyards we work with harken back to California’s roots of exploration, wonder, and hard work.

“…Sandlands, which debuted to the sort of demand about which Napa viscounts only dream. For that, he focused on wines that offer other prisms into California: Carignane from Contra Costa County, Grenache from Placer County and his personal cause celebre, Chenin Blanc”. – Jon Bonne

Passalacqua’s “day job” is winemaker and viticulturist  for Turley Wine Cellars. He, along with Morgan Twain-Peterson of Bedrock Wine Co., were just honored as Winemakers of the Year by San Francisco Chronicle Wine Editor, Jon Bonné.  He was also featured prominently in Bonné’sThe New California Wine – A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste. 

Sandlands wines are available via a mailing list

The Wine

Planted in 1979 and grown at 1500 feet in a mixture of iron rich volcanic, quartz and decomposed granite soils, this vineyard is head-trained, dry-farmed and own rooted. The wine is barrel fermented with native yeasts in 3-5 year old Burgundy barrels and aged on its lees for 15 months with no stirring or racking prior to being bottled unfined and unfiltered.

12.8% alcohol; Retail – $24.00

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My tasting notes follow:
Pale yellow color. Initially opens with wet wool aromas that give way to white peach, apple, Meyer lemon and a bit of wet stone aromas. On the palate its medium-bodied, and dry with wonderful acidity and texture with green apple, white peach, baked apricot, citrus, and a hint of spice flavors. Lingering satisfying finish with a bit of minerality. 12.8% alcohol. Wonderful at the table!
Rating: A-This is a wonderful wine that’s food friendly.  
Pair with: Grilled or pan-fried Paiche, Lemony Quinoa Salad with Pine Nuts, or Sweet and Sour Chicken or Shrimp!

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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.  

Wine of the Week; 2012 Castello di Amorosa Pinot Bianco

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 2012 Castello di Amorosa Pinot Bianco

The Winery

Castello di Amorosa is Napa Valley’s own slice of Tuscany.  It’s a winery with its own authentic Tuscan castle (Approximately 121,000 sq. ft., including 107 rooms on 8 levels above and below ground), and one of Napa’s premier “destination” wineries.  While I’m not a huge fan of destination wineries because the wines often take a back seat to whatever the attraction is (they don’t call Napa Valley “adult Disneyland for nothing;-), Castello di Amorosa is an exception.  In addition to a great experience touring an authentic Tuscan castle (complete with a torture chamber), you’ll find plenty of  ”better” and “best” wines rather than simply ” good” wine.

The story is how the castle came to be is fascinating (click here for history of the project). When Dario Sattui who also owns and operates the V. Sattui Winery, conceived the idea his thought was…

 I would specialize in making small lots of primarily Italian-style wines, showcase them in an authentic, medieval castle setting and sell them directly to the public, not in stores or restaurants.

Castello di Amorosa offers a wide array of wines.  In addition to the wines one would expect to find at a Napa Valley winery, (Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel) they also offer three Gewüztraminers (dry, slightly sweet, and late harvest), various Red, Rosé, and White Italian varietals, Muscato Canelli port, and a slightly sweet, sparkling Rosé!

Castello di Amorosa produces about 8,000 cases a year.  The wines are only available at the winery, through its wine club, or online (www.castellodiamorosa.com).

The Wine

Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc) is a member of the Pinot family that includes Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Meunier.  It is a crisp, dry white wine originally from France’s Burgundy region. Today, it has found an important place in Alsace, Northeastern Italy as well as California.

Wine of the Week; 2012 Castello Pinot Bianco
My tasting notes follow:
Pale yellow green color with melon, subtle pineapple, apricot, and citrus aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied, dry and clean with vibrant acidity, and melon, pineapple, lemon, orange rind, apricot and bit of spice baking spice flavors Lingering finish. 13.9% alcohol

Rating: A-; This is a wonderful wine that’s food friendly.  

Pair with: Seafood gumboCreole Grilled Shrimp RollsThai-Style Chicken Legs , or your favorite hors d’oeuvres.

Wines provided as a samples for review.  Many thanks to Castello di Amorosa and Julie Ann Kodmur
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 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

My 2015 #Wine Resolutions

Like so many folks do this time of year, I take time to reflect on the year that was, as well as make a few resolutions.  Given my love of wine, it should come as no surprise that I make wine resolutions.

I opted to not put together a “Top 10″ list of wines, but I had quite a few memorable wines, and wine experiences.

At the end of 2013, drinking more Champagne was at the top of my wine resolution list. Little did I know that 2014 would be the “Year of Champagne” for me.  I went on my first media trip; to Champagne in September. I tasted a boat load of exceptional Champagne (including a few vintages of Louis Roederer Cristal, ‘99 Bruno Paillard Champagne Nec Plus Ultra, and various Champagne Jacquesson single vineyard wines), many paired with phenomenal Champagne pairing dinners.  It was the experience of a lifetime (see below for my recaps)

Ironically though, the most memorable wines of 2014 were two from Champagne Krug I tasted at a private tasting held at K&L Wine Merchants in Redwood City – the Krug Champagne Brut Rosé (the best Rosé Champagne I’ve had) and the Krug Champagne Brut Grande Cuvée (easily the best multi-vintage wine I’ve ever had).

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Admittedly, most of the Champagne was prohibitively expensive. But, I find a special satisfaction in finding wines that offer great value for less than $20.

Why yes...I will have some Krug Champagne!

Why yes…I will have some Krug Champagne!

The most memorable under $20 wine I enjoyed was from Greece, the 2012 Vrinioti Assyrtiko Iama - a fantastic blend of 60% Malagouzia and 40% Assyrtiko with with remarkable stone fruit, bergamot, honey, spice, wet stone and citrus blossom aromas and with vibrant acidity and peach, apricot, a bit of fresh melon, spice, honey flavors.

And what about my 2015 wine resolutions?

My first resolution won’t cost me anything.  And that’s to drink more of the wines I’ve been laying down for years. That includes a dessert wine I purchased 8 years ago when I first got into wine.  All I really knew about the wine at the time was that it Robert Parker gave it 96 points and it was $20.  Yup..that was my sole criteria for buying the wine.  I’ve learned much since then.

My next resolution is to drink more Italian wine. I almost always consume wine with food and I think Italian wine are, across the board, the most food friendly wines.  Yet, I only drank a grand total of 4 bottles of Italian wine in 2014.  But with only 2 bottles of Barolo on hand, this one is going to cost me.  Fortunately,  there are plenty of very good Italian wines on the market for under $20.  I’m going to make a conscious effort to try more Italian whites.

And last but not least, I want to saber a bottle of sparkling wine in 2015!  Although my better half is convinced it will cause myself and or others bodily harm…hell it looks like fun! I just need to time it right so she’s had a couple, or three glasses wine…THEN try it;-)

What are your 2015 wine resolutions?

Wishing you a 2015 filled with joyfulness, good health, love, prosperity and positivity!

Follow my reviews on Vivino 

Other posts you may enjoy

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

Follow me on Twitter @martindredmond for all things wine, and since I’m a wino, with latent foodie tendencies, you’ll also find food and wine pairings, and food related stuff! Become a fan and join ENOFYLZ Wine Blog on Facebook. Cheers! This article is original to ENOFYLZ Wine Blog.com. Copyright 2015 ENOFYLZ Wine BlogAll rights reserved.

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
_________________________________________________________________

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.

Wine of the Week; 2013 Copain P2

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 2013 Copain P2

The Winery

Copain Winery was founded by winemaker Wells Guthrie in 1999.  According to the Copain website…

Wells Guthrie discovered early on that his taste in wine gravitated toward Europe in general and France’s Rhône Valley in particular. So much so, he picked up and moved with his new bride to the region to learn from the best. For two years, Wells apprenticed for esteemed winemaker and living legend Michel Chapoutier in France’s Rhone Valley. During that time, Wells was deeply inspired by the traditions and practices of French winemaking, not to mention the European attitude that wine is an essential part of life.

Guthrie started the winery with an old friend, and named it Copain, which means ‘friend” in French.

Copain is focused on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir,and Syrah. They offer three lines of wines, the entry-level “Tous Ensembles”, mid-level “Les Voisins”, and their top of the line “Single Vineyard” Wines.  In addition to this interesting blend they also produce an interesting and delicious estate Trousseau Gris.

The Wine

This is an interesting blend of 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Pinot Gris.  The fruit was sourced from the Hein, and Klindt vineyard located in the Anderson Valley. The grapes are co-fermented and aged for five months in neutral French Oak barrels.

You get more Pinot Gris on the nose and more Pinot Noir on the palate.

12.7% alcohol; Retail – $25

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My tasting notes follow:
Light ruby color with strawberry, a bit of cherry and hints of floral and spiced orange rind aromas. On the palate, it’s light bodied, fresh and balanced with strawberry, spice flavors complemented by a tangy minerality and touch of tannins round out this well structured wine.  Satisfying finish. It’s very good on its own, but really shines with food!  Serve slightly chilled (~55 degrees).

Rating: A-;  An interesting blend that works so well! Positioned as a chillable summer red (which it is), but this also make a great Fall wine too!

Pair with: Thanksgiving dinner!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

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

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.

Champagne Chronicles – Day 5; The Aube

This is the last of my five-part series about my visit to Champagne last month. Check out the previous four posts about my phenomenal week!

  • Day 1 - Guided tour of Reims Cathedral and Champagne dinner
  • Day 2 - C.I.V.C., Roger Coulon, and Veuve Clicquot
  • Day 3 - Louis Roederer, Rene Geoffroy, and Jacquesson
  • Day 4 - Bereche & Fils, Billecart-Salmon, and Bruno Paillard

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Last month, I had the privilege of traveling to the Champagne region in France as a guest of the U.S. Champagne Bureau for the 2014 Champagne Harvest Media Trip. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about what makes the Champagne region special via visits to 10 producers including large houses, growers and cooperatives. Our visit included exquisite meals too – all paired with Champagne!

My only regret in life is that I didn’t drink enough Champagne” John Maynard Keynes

Our itinerary for Day 5 was as follows:

Champagne Chronicles - Day 5; The Aube

This photo of the Ource River was taken in the picturesque village of Essoyes – where Renoir spent his summers.

The Aube

Our last full day in Champagne featured a trip to the Côte des Bar  in the Aube department of the Champagne region. The Côte des Bar is one of five regions of Champagne (with the three most well know being, Montagne de ReimsCôte des Blancs, and Vallée de la Marne).

Champagne Chronicles - Day 5; The Aube

Image courtesy of the New York Times

It’s about a two-hour drive south of main Champagne towns of Reims, Epernay, and Aÿ.

I like the way the New York Times put it..Côte des Bar is closer to Chablis than to Épernay, and its limestone and clay soils are more like those of Chablis than the chalky soils to the north. Yet, despite the geological resemblance to Chablis, which makes the most distinctive chardonnay wines in the world, the vast majority of the grapes in the Côte des Bar are pinot noir.  

The Côte des Bar has an often uncomfortable attachment to Champagne that has existed since the Middle Ages. Though its main city, Troyes, was once Champagne’s provincial capital, counterparts in the Marne Valley have generally regarded the area with disdain – enough so, that they rioted in 1911 as part of an effort to block Aube grapes from Champagne. Ultimately the Aube was ushered in, but even today, its 17,000 acres of vineyards receive none of Champagne’s top classifications. Even so, many of the big houses in the north like Moët & Chandon, and Veuve Clicquot source grapes from the region. In fact 50% of the Pinot Noir in Champagne is grown in Côte des Bar

Yet today, the spotlight is unexpectedly shining on the Aube, and its primary growing area, the Côte des Bar. Now, the region is coming to be known for its independent vignerons, whose distinctive, highly sought wines have caught the attention of Champagne lovers the world over. – The New York Times

If you’ve got the time, a visit to the Aube is well worth the drive! The country side is breathtakingly beautiful, and the many of the villages have an almost medieval feel with cobblestone streets.  And put a visit to Troyes on you list –  I know I will!

Champagne Drappier

Drappier is located in the tiny village of Urville (pop. 151).  Upon our arrival at Drappier, we were greeted by Michel Drappier, who is in charge of this family owned and run business these days.  He led us on a tour of the Drappier cellars and the tasting.

Since we’d arrived a bit late we were running behind schedule.  We actually wanted to skip the cellar tour (by the 5th day we’d seen plenty of Champagne cellars). But Michel convinced us it would be worth our time.

It most certainly was!

The history of the house dates back to 1808. But the history of the cellars and vineyards dates back to the 12th century when Saint Bernard had an annex built to Clairvaux Abbey in Urville in 1152! . Part of those cellars still exist and are in use today.

During the tour we learned that Drappier has the distinction of inventing the world’s largest sized Champagne bottle, the Melchizedek, which holds the equivalent of 40 regular size bottles. They also bottle in 11 different sizes from quarter bottle to the aforementioned Melchizedek. Michel indicated that Drappier is the only Champagne house to carry out secondary fermentation in all bottle sizes.

Drappier is the closest thing to a grand marque in the Aube.  They are most certainly doing some very interesting and unique things in the cellar:

  • The amount of sulphur used in the wines is one of the lowest of any Champagne. And they also produce a cuvee - Drappier Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage Sans Ajout de Soufre with no sulfur.
  • They have been producing a Brut Nature, which are become more and more popular these days for over 20 years
  • Their liqueurs d’expédition used in their dosage are aged in oak casks, then in demijohns for more than 10 years. In fact, some of their liqueurs d’expédition are 30-40 years old!

After the tour, we were joined for the tasting by Michel’s charming father André, who at 80 is still active in the business.

We tasted the following wines:

  • Drappier Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage
  • Drappier Champagne Brut Carte d’Or
  • Drappier Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage Sans Ajout de Soufre
  • Drappier Champagne Brut Nature Zero Dosage
  • Drappier Champagne Quattuor – Blanc de Quatre Blancs (An interesting, and damned delicious cuvee featuring Chardonnay, and three forgotten Champagne grape varieties: Arbane (25%), Petit Meslier (25%) and Blanc Vrai (25%)
  • Drappier Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs
  • 2008 Drappier Champagne Millésimé Exception
  • 2006 Drappier Champagne Grande Sendrée

Wow, the wines were a revelation!  Drappier certainly had the most interesting lineup of wines for tasting during our trip, but more importantly, I found the wines were characterized by a distinctive combination of purity of fruit and balance.

It’s a challenge to pick a favorite, but I was very impressed with the Brut Nature Zero Dosage, and their prestige cuvee, the 2006 Grande Sendrée.  Both are wines I highly recommend! The Brut Nature is 100% Pinot Noir and is light-bodied, dry, polished and crisp with apple, peach, lemon, and citrus character.  The 2006 Grande Sendrée is a blend of 60% Pinot Noir, and 40% Chardonnay sourced from a parcel of land covered by cinders after the fire which ravaged Urville in 1838. It spend 6.5 years on lees. It’s shows perfumed aromas of hazelnut, apple, brioche,and chalk. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied and impeccably balanced with baked apple, peach, and citrus flavors.  Dosed at 5g/L with a long finish.

See below for gallery of Champagne Drappier visit

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Champagne Devaux

The House of Veuve A.Devaux, a co-op was founded in 1846. Created by brothers Jules and Auguste Devaux the brand was immediately successful and contributed to the worldwide reputation of Champagne wines. After them Madame Veuve Augusta Devaux a feisty “Champenoise”, took over the company and ran it with energy and talent. At the end of the 19th century three-fourths of the production was exported. For a century the House of Devaux was located in Epernay and remained the property of the founding family for 5 generations. The last of these and without an heir. Jean-Pol Auguste Devaux decided in 1987 to entrust the prestigious brand to the Union Auboise and its president Laurent Gillet. (Source)

We tasted the following wines:

  • Veuve A. Devaux Champagne Blanc de Noirs
  • Veuve A. Devaux Champagne Brut Grande Réserve
  • Veuve A. Devaux Champagne Cuvée Rosée

My favorite was the Blanc de Noirs.  Surprisingly, it was one of the few Blanc de Noir tasting during my week in Champagne.  Blanc de Noir is a Champagne made completely with black grapes, such as Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This one is was made from 100% Pinot Noir and included about 20% reserve wine. It has a delightful soft, elegant, fresh brioche red fruit, roasted apple, dried herb character with some earthy notes.

After our tasting we adjourned to the Devaux what I’ll call the “Guest House” for a fabulous lunch paired with some of the more exclusive Devaux Champagne including a couple from Magnums!

See below for gallery of Champagne Veuve Devaux visit

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Espace Renoir

The attractive Renoir Space was opened in summer 2011. It’s not a museum, as there are no paintings, furniture or artifacts associated with Renoir, but it’s well set out as a series of spaces where you learn more about Renoir the man, and his life. It’s interactive, using films and photographs as well as recordings.

Champagne 9-2014

After we had a chance to see the exhibit in the Espace Renoir, we were treated to a on-site education tasting of Rosé des Riceys with Champagne DeFrance.

Champagne Defrance

I’d never heard of Rose des Riceys prior to the tasting (although unknowingly we had a Veuve Devaux Rosé des Riceys) That’s because very few producers make Rosé des Riceys wines, and in limited quantities, so they are very rarely seen outside France. They are just even rarer than those of Champagne’s other still wine appellation, Coteaux Champenois.

These still Rosé  wines comes from a tiny terroir named Les Riceys made up with three close-knit villages named Riceys-Haut, Riceys Haute-Rive et Riceys-Bas that is only a few kilometers from Burgundy.

The idea is to flirt with making a red wine, without actually making a red wine” - Pascal Morel

The wines are renowned for their ability to age, inimitable aromatics and lightly tannic charcter.

Among our group, opinions about the wines were sharply divided. I found the wines to be very enjoyable, but most it seemed did not.  My favorite was the 2006. It has an alluring strawberry, raspberry, and a bit of sous bois character with wonderful minerality and a slightly tannic grip I quite enjoyed.  I couldn’t but wonder if the wine wouldn’t have been even better with food though…

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Since we had a two-hour drive back to Reims, I had a lot of time to reflect on my week in Champagne.

I found myself experiencing the ambivalence that one may feel at the end of such a awe-inspiring singular experience. There were the joys of experiencing a deep dive into glorious wine that Champagne is, getting to know the immensely talented, charming, and passionate Champenoise, making new friends, and the splendid Champagne pairing meals.

But I also felt a bit of sorrow because it was ending. I wondered if I’ll ever be able to return, and share the experience with my wife.

I hope so! And I wish the same for my family, friends and the readers of this blog.

A visit to Champagne should be on your bucket list.…Santé!

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.

Wine of the Week; 2010 Stage Left Cellars – The Emcee

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 Stage Left Cellars – The Emcee.

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.  The wines are available by signing up for The List.

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 Francisco” 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 wine comes from the Vogelzang Vineyard in the Happy Canyon AVA, in the extreme eastern part of the Santa Ynez Valley.
It is called The Emcee because it was the 1st time Stage Left made a stand alone Mourvedre (so it finally took the stage on its own). They typically use Mourvedre as a blending wine in other bottlings such as The Breadwinner, The Day Job, The Globetrotter, The ExPat, etc…
Don’t let the alcohol % fool you. There’s enough acidity here to keep this wine from being flabby or jammy….

100% Mourvedre – 14.9% Alcohol; Retail – $26

photo (59)

My tasting notes follow:

Nearly opaque black red color with very appealing mixed black and red fruit, eucalyptus, leather, spice and lavender aromas. On the palate,  it’s medium bodied and well-balanced with very good acidity, a velvety mouthfeel and blackberry, red plum, red currant, and a bit of spice flavors that is underscored with an appealing minerality and earthiness.  Long satisfying finish. Drink now, but can age

Rating: A:  Every time I have a bottle of Stage Left Cellars, I ask myself why I don’t have more of their wines. This is an outstanding example of a refined, nicely balanced Mourvedre.   Wish I had more!

Pair with: We enjoyed this with a weeknight burger, but as fall approaches this wine would pair well with grilled and roasted meats, stews, root vegetables, mushrooms and dark fowl such as duck.  Step away from the Cab and into Mourvedre!

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.

Wine of the Week: 2012 Zudugarai “Amats” Getariako Txakolina

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 Zudugarai “Amats” Getariako Txakolina.

The Winery

Bodegas Zudugarai  is a winery located in the Basque region in northern Spain, less than 20 miles from the French border.  It was founded in 1989, the same year the Denominación de Origen (DO)  of Getariako Txakolina was founded.  Getariako Txakoli is the oldest, largest, and most important of the three DOs that produced Txakoli.  The others are Arabako Txakolina and Bizkaiko Txakolina.

The Errasti family has been growing grapes and making wine from the region’s vineyards for over 40 years, working with the local varieties of Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Beltza. The vineyards and winery are near the coast line among rolling hills at about 90 meters above sea level.  The sunniest and windiest slopes are the ones planted to vines so that the grapes can get ripe and also remain dry and avoid fungal and rot issues. All work in the vineyards is done by hand including harvest.

The winery produces Txakoli, (pronounced chock-oh-lee) or Txakolina (as far as I can tell the terms are used interchangeably).   Txakoli is a delicious, dry, very fresh, slightly petillant (fizzy), low alcohol wine that is consumed like water in Basque Country.

The Wine

This wine is made with 100% Hondarrabi Zuri, the native grape that dominates plantings in the Basque region. Most of the Txakoli produced is consumed by the local Basque people.

After hand-harvesting the grapes are fermented naturally in stainless steel tanks, then bottled young to retain its natural effervescence.

Amats is both the brand name of the Txakoli as well as one of Zudugarai’s vineyards.

I was introduced to Txacoli by Joe Manekin, the Spanish wine buyer at K&L Wine Merchants a few years ago.  I purchase a few bottles every year because it such a great summer sipper!

I also had the pleasure of spending a few days in San Sebastian last year, and you better believe I had at least one glass of Txakoli daily with a wide variety of pintxos.

10.5% alcohol. Retail – $13 

Amats Txakolina

My tasting notes follow:

Very pale green color with green apple, lime rind and a bit of mineral aromas.  On the palate, it’s light-bodied, dry and slightly fizzy with easy tart green apple, and lime rind flavors underscored by an appealing minerality. A serving note: The tiny, fleeting bubbles disappear quickly if you let your Txakoli sit out too long – which is why small, frequent pours is how this wine should be served. 

Rating: B+: This hard to pronounce, but easy drinking wine is a fabulous summer sipper – dry,fresh, fizzy, and low in alcohol.  It could be a challenge to find, but it’s definitely worth seeking out! 

Pair with: A classic pairing in Spain is marinated white anchovies (boquerones), we had it with a dish called Kokotxas (the cheeks of hake). What a great pairing!  Enjoy with raw oysters, grilled seafood, hard cheeses, or deep fried bites!

Sample purchased for review

Ratings Key:

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

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.