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

IMG_0163
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

_______________________________________________________

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…

2014-09-155

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.

 

Rosé of the Week; 2013 Waterkloof Circumstance Cape Coral

Summer is officially here!  Rosé season is in full bloom, although truth be told, it’s Rosé season for me pretty much year-round for me!  With that in mind, I’m cranking up my annual series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  It’s my quest for the best Pink Porch Pounders! This week’s rosé is the 2013 Waterkloof Circumstance Cape Coral.

The Winery

Waterkloof Wines is a winery based in the Helderberg wine-producing area, a sub-region in the Western Cape of South Africa, just south of Stellenbosch.  Paul Boutinot, an Englishmen of French descent is the “Custodian”.  He learned the wine trade from the ground up, and launched his own successful wine import business in 1980.  It evolved into one of the UK’s biggest and most important wine distribution companies, which he subsequently sold in 2013.  In 1993 he commenced a search for a vineyard site that had the potential to produce truly fine with a defining sense of place.   It took ten years to narrow the search down to a small area on the south-facing slopes of the Schapenberg, overlooking False Bay in the Cape. As soon as he was led up a steep ravine opening out into a hidden amphitheatre of potential, all his experience and intuition told him: THIS IS IT! Waterkloof was born.  He took over the property just before the 2004 harvest.  The first vintage bottled under the Waterkloof name was from the 2005 harvest.

In 2009 a state-of-the-art gravitational cellar, tasting room and The Restaurant at Waterkloof were constructed

Waterkloof’s wines are shaped by an amphitheatre of select, high-altitude vineyards, famed as one of the finest cool climate vineyard sites in South Africa.

The Wine

The wine is made from 100% Mourvedre.  The  grapes were hand harvested and whole cluster pressed.  No further maceration of the juice with the skins was allowed.

Following in the footsteps of the great rosés of Bandol, the Waterkloof’s Circumstance Cape Coral rosé is made entirely from Mourvedre sourced from some incredible old vines in Stellenbosch

The juice was fermented on native yeast at temperatures of 16 to 18 degrees Celsius, which took 5 months to complete. The wine was then left on the primary lees for another 2 months to add further complexity before bottling. 13.5% alcohol.  Retail – $16.99

Rosé of the Week; 2013 Waterkloof Mourvedre Circumstance Cape Coral

My tasting notes follow:

Pale salmon color with damp earth, peach and spice aromas. On the palate it’s medium-bodied, and fresh with a great mouth feel, and strawberry, peach and spice flavors. Lingering finish

Rating: A-:  This is a very good rosé! It can be a challenge to find a 100% Mourvedre-based rosé for under $20 and this one offers a very good quality to price ratio!

Pair with: What I like about Mourvedre dominant rosés is that they, unlike many light-bodied rosé, can be paired with more substantial fare.  Consider Pulled Pork sandwiches, or Barbecue Chicken Sloppy Joes!

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
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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.

Wine of the Week; 2009 Ridge Zinfandel Carmichael Ranch

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 Ridge Zinfandel Carmichael Ranch.

The Winery

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”), Zinfandels, and Chardonnay.  Ridge was established by three engineers from nearby Stanford Research Institute (SRI).  They produced its first commercial wine in 1962 after purchasing the winery in 1960.

Great wines have always been determined by their site – by nature, not by man – Paul Draper

It wasn’t too long after that, 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!

And speaking of anniversaries - 2014 marks our 50th year of producing fine, site-specific zinfandels sourced primarily from pre-Prohibition old vine vineyards.

Ridge has four estate vineyards, Monte Bello (first commercial release was in 1962), Geyserville (first release 1966), Lytton Springs (first release 1972), and their newest property East Bench.

The Wine

Carmichael Ranch is located on the western side of the Alexander Valley, south of Geyserville.  Originally a part of the Rancho Sotoyomi land grant, these hundred acres were purchased in the mid-1800s by Archibald Carmichael. Ridge began farming the western half in 2000. Ridge first pro

It’s a blend of 96% Zinfandel, 4% Petite Sirah. Here’s how Ridge, a leader in wine industry when it come to labeling describes the winemaking process…

All Estate grown grapes, hand harvested. Destemmed and
crushed. Fermented on the native yeasts, followed by full
malolactic on the naturally occurring bacteria. Minimum
effective sulfur (35 ppm at crush, 120 ppm over the course
of aging). Pad filtered at bottling. In keeping with our
philosophy of minimal intervention, this is the sum of our
actions

It was aged 13 months in 100% air-dried american oak: (15 % new, 85% two to four years old).  Retail – $28; Alcohol – 14.2%

Ridge Carmichael 09

My tasting notes follow:

Crimson color with appealing ripe mixed black and red fruits, spice, bramble and a hint of leather aromas. On the palate, it’s medium-bodied with soft well-integrated sweet tannins, , very good acidity and plum, blackberry, black cherry, and spice finish and a lingering satisfying finish. 

Rating: A-: This relative newcomer to is a delicious addition to Ridge’s formidable lineup of Zinfandels! And it’s drinking very well now!

(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 Blog. All rights reserved.

Rosé of the Week: 2013 François Chidaine Touraine Rosé

Summer is officially here!  Rosé season is in full bloom, although truth be told, it’s Rosé season for me pretty much year-round for me!  With that in mind, I’m cranking up my annual series of weekly “Drink Pink!“ Rosé tastings.  It’s my quest for the best Pink Porch Pounders! This week’s rosé is the 2013 François Chidaine Touraine Rosé.

The Winery

François Chidaine is one of the Loire Valley’s great success stories.  After finishing viticultural school in the mid-1980s, François, born in Montlouis,  went to work alongside his father, Yves.  At that point, the family had only four hectares of rented vineyard land in the appellation of Montlouis, in the Touraine.  When Yves retired in 1989, he passed the torch to François. Since then François and his wife Manuéla have dramatically expanded their holdings and set up La Cave Insolite, a tasting room and wine shop.

François was certified in both organic and biodynamic farming in 2003.  Their vineyards are managed biodynamically,  with ultra low yields and ‘hands off’ winemaking approach.

The majority of the Domain’s vineyards, which now encompass 37 hectares, are situated in Montlouis, with more in neighboring Vouvray, and additional land in the Touraine appellation.  The majority of their vineyards are 40- to 80-years-old.

I have a bit of a personal connection with François Chidaine because the first Chenin Blanc I ever tried was their 2005 François Chidaine Montlouis-sur-Loire Les Tuffeaux.  That was some time ago, and the memory still makes me smile!

The Wine

Grapes for this wine were sourced from several parcels from within the Touraine. They were hand harvested and gently pressed, then vinified on wild yeasts in stainless steel. It’s a blend of 50% Pinot Noir, 50% Grolleau.

12.5% alcohol.  Retail – $12.99

Rose of the Week; 2013 François Chidaine Touraine Rosé

My tasting notes follow:

Pretty vivid pink red color with lovely floral, gooseberry, and wild strawberry aromas. On the palate it’s medium bodied, fresh and mineral driven with very good depth, especially for the price. It shows tart strawberry, raspberry flavors and a lingering finish.

Rating: A-:  This is a delightful, food friendly and pocket-friendly rosé!

Pair with: Goat cheese, light salads,  or a tomato tart.

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 Blog. All rights reserved.

 

Wine Words Demystified; Carbonic Maceration

You know the deal; the more some folks learn about a topic, the more shortcuts/slang/acronyms/initials/technical jargon can be tossed around.  I’m here to help you understand those sometimes mysterious words and phrases, thus - Wine Words Demystified!  This week’s term is Carbonic Maceration...
According to Wikipedia…
Carbonic maceration is a winemaking technique, often associated with the French wine region of Beaujolais, in which whole grapes are fermented in a carbon dioxide rich environment prior to crushing.
In other words, it’s a technique for making light, fresh, fruity wines.
Wine Words Demystified-Carbonic Maceration
I became interested in the term, which I knew next to nothing about, after I read the following backgrounder on the 2013 Bedrock Wine Co. Grenache Gris Gibson Ranch

 I have long wanted to make a light, summer, red—a  California version of Beaujolais or Pinot D’Aunis or Frappato, but perhaps kissed with just a trace more sunshine.  Something fresh, juicy, spicy, and delicious.  This fits that description.  It was fermented with 50% whole-cluster with no foot-trodding to maximize carbonic fermentation with the rest destemmed… 

How it’s different

In most red grape traditional winemaking styles, grapes are crushed and fermented for ten to twenty days, then pressed and aged for six months to two years in wood before bottling.
In carbonic maceration, grapes are placed as whole clusters (or as in the case of the Bedrock half were whole cluster and the other half were destemmed) into temperature controlled steel or concrete fermentation tanks, which are then sealed and pumped full of carbon dioxide.  The bottom one-third of the grape clusters are crushed by the sheer weight of the grape mass, and these undergo traditional fermentation by way of the natural yeasts that exist on the skins of the grapes which convert the grape sugars into alcohol.  The overlying two-thirds of the grape clusters are converted into alcohol by way of carbonic maceration.  The carbon dioxide in the containers creates an anaerobic environment which then allows the carbon dioxide to permeate the intact grape skins. The entire process takes place inside each single, intact berry at an intracellular level.  The entire process is shorter than conventional fermentation (it usually takes four to five days), and The resulting wine is fruity with very low tannins.
Pure carbonic maceration is rare.  Most carbonic fermentation is actually semi or partial carbonic maceration because it involves a combination of carbonic and conventional fermentation. There are other variations on the theme as well. For example, as mentioned for the wine above, half the grapes processed  were whole clusters and half were destemmed.
And that wine mentioned above?  Mission accomplished – it’s a chillable red wine that’s fresh, juicy, spicy, and delicious!
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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.