Great for summer sipping: Cayuga White wine – Atlantic City Wine | Examiner.com http://ht.ly/4tLeI
Award wining New Jersey red wine: Four JGs Chambourcin Riserva – Atlantic City Wine | Examiner.com http://ht.ly/4teiP
Four JGs Winery, home grown in Colts Neck – Atlantic City Wine | Examiner.com http://ht.ly/4teir
Four JGs Winery and Branches Catering present a walk-around wine tasting – Atlantic City Wine | Examiner.com http://ht.ly/4tehW
Since George Yount planted the first Napa Valley vineyards in 1838, this small valley has grown to be considered one of the premier winegrowing regions in the world.
Though just 30 miles long and a few miles wide, Napa Valley and its famous sub-appellations: Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley, Diamond Mountain, Howell Mountain, Los Carneros, Mt. Veeder, Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena, Spring Mountain, Stags Leap, Yountville, Wild Horse Valley, Oak Knoll, and Calistoga has a rich wine-making history.
Napa Valley is home to diverse microclimates and soils uniquely suited to the cultivation of a variety of fine wine varietals. Vitis vinifera (wine grapes) that make good wine in other parts of the world outstanding wine in Napa Valley, and in specific locations within the Napa Valley, these very same grapes make exceptional wine.
Once within these superb locations, the discussion becomes not how good the wines are, but about the characteristics of the wines. Some locations favor certain grape varieties, and where a single grape will show distinctive aromas, flavors, color, texture, acidity and “personality”.
Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa is the best known, but this region also produces fine Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Cabernet Franc.
You can’t talk about Napa without mentioning Robert Mondavi, a prime force behind wine education and winemaking in the Valley. He is credited with introducing Fumé Blanc, spearheading the Opus One venture and creating very good inexpensive generic table wines such as the Woodbridge label. Today, several generations later, Mondavi family members continue to carry on the family’s rich winemaking heritage. In addition to the wines Robert Mondavi founded, Michael Mondavi Family Estate is home to Oberon and several wine companies including M by Michael Mondavi, Isabel Mondavi I’M Wines, Medusa, Spellbound, Emblem and Hangtime labels.
I’M Chardonnay, Napa Valley ($17) is made at the Folio Winemakers’ Studio in Carneros, Napa Valley and bottled in a Bordeaux-shape bottle. Inspired by Michael Mondavi’s wife, Isabel Mondavi, this Chardonnay is designed to deliver a refined, well-balanced style. Not your typical Chardonnay, this light gold wine oozes elegance with just a slight hint of oak. The wine has ripe orchard fruit flavors and mineral characteristics, lending warmth and lushness. Delicious!
A third generation Mondavi, Rob Mondavi, Jr., learned wine making from his father Michael and grandfather Robert. As a child, he chased winemaker Tony Coltrin around Robert Mondavi Winery. Today, Rob and Tony their present-day partnership has created the wines of Oberon.
Oberon Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2008 ($22) is a deep-colored blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 3% Syrah, 1% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petite Verdot. There is a concentration of flavors: lush black fruits, dark berry and cassis with notes of vanilla and toffee from spending eighteen months in French Oak barrels. The wine’s rich cherry, dark berry and cassis flavors and provide a beautifully rounded mouth feel that pairs beautifully with steak, lamb and duck dishes, and flavorful cheeses.
Oberon Cabernet’s “Big Brother” Oberon Hillside Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2007, is another delicious blend (99% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Merlot) from Rutherford, Oakville, Atlas Peak and Pope Valley appellations, but be prepared to spend a bit more for this opulent and delicious wine as it commands a $79 price tag.
Also in Napa Valley is Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, considered one of Napa Valley’s first-growths. The historic Stag Leap District estate vineyards are renowned for producing the most highly regarded and sought after Cabernet Sauvignons worldwide. Founded by the Warren Winiarski family in 1972, this winery brought international recognition to California winemaking and Napa Valley when the 1973 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon won the “Judgment of Paris.” in 1976.
Karia 2008 , Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Napa Valley ($28) is a graceful seamless integration of fresh-fruit aromas and flavors, crisp acidity and subtle oak spice. Bright, juicy apple and pear, minerality and citrus notes run rampant. A light touch of oak and malolactic fermentation accent the fruit without overwhelming it. Aromas of mineral, apple, pear and spice lead to complex, layered flavors of spiced golden apple, Meyer lemon and candied ginger, with just a hint of hazelnut and caramel. This medium-bodied wine sports balanced ripe fruit, understated spice, mouth-filling texture and refreshing acidity. Karia pairs perfectly with a wide range of dishes: crab and corn chowder, roast chicken or salmon.
The wine that made Napa famous, S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 ($100) remains true to Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars house style of complex and balanced wines capable of long-term cellaring. In 1976, Stag’s Leap Vineyard (S.L.V.) Cabernet Sauvignon, 1973 burst upon the scene and stunned the world when it bested top-flight Bordeaux and California Cabernet-based wines in the “Judgment of Paris” blind tasting.
It’s easy to see why the 2007 S.L.V. Cabernet Sauvignon was rated 91 Points by Wine Advocate (December 2010), it has dark blackberry/black plum aromas and flavors, as well as notes of cassis, bramble, Chinese five-spice, caramel and vanilla. There is an elegant mineral quality on the nose and lingering finish. The tannins are like raw silk: slightly nubby, yet still smooth. Serve S.L.V. with filet mignon or, for non-carnivores, an earthy wild-mushroom risotto.
Also at the now-famous Paris Tasting was Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, 1973. It too, beat the best of France by coming in first. Shortly after that win, in 1977, wine maker Miljenko “Mike” Grgich and Austin Hills of the Hills Bros. coffee family founded Grgich Hills Estate in the heart of Napa Valley. Today, Grgich Hills is biodynamic using holistic farming practices and organic preparations without artificial fertilizers, pesticides, or fungicides. One example of their fine wine is Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay 2008 Estate Grown, Napa Valley ($37). This elegant Chardonnay is alive with delicious acidity, aromas of ripe peach, mango and tropical flowers, plus a note of minerality. This aromatic Chardonnay did not undergo malolactic fermentation and it showcases fresh seafood, roasted chicken, grilled pork, or creamy cheeses very well.
The next winery of note is Conn Creek. Founded in 1973, Conn Creek quickly established itself as one of Napa Valley’s premier Cabernet houses with the release of its 1974 Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. Named for the winery’s location next to Conn Creek near the Rutherford Crossroad, Conn Creek has earned top scores by crafting a portfolio of limited production Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons — including Anthology, blended from the best appellation grapes of each vintage.
A good value is the Conn Creek Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2007 ($20). This 100% based Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of fruit from nine of the 15 Napa Valley sub-AVAs. It offers a complex mélange of aromas and flavors beginning with rich, dark fruit and subtle hints of chocolate and toasted oak. Dark, luscious cherry and plum flavors come alive on the palate and meld with notes of spice, chocolate and licorice leading to a rich finish. Pair it with hearty beef dishes or ripe cheeses.
A relative “newcomer”, Hall Wines Napa Valley is a premiere winery with estate vineyards that encompass more than five hundred acres of classic Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Owned by former U.S. Ambassador Kathryn Hall and her husband Craig, Hall employs organic small-vine viticulture, precision winemaking, native yeast fermentation and micro-block blending. Although they make elegant Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s worth taking a look at some of their other wines such as Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot.
The richly layered and textured Hall Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 2009 ($18) was rated 91 Points by Wine & Spirits Magazine, (June 2010). It’s a fresh and focused Sauvignon Blanc balanced with ripe fruit and bright acidity. The backbone of this fruit-forward blend delivers vibrant citrus flavors of pink grapefruit, Meyer lemon, minerality, tropical aromatics and opulence—all complemented by a lush cascade of guava and lychee on the palate carrying through to a crisp finish.
Hall Napa Valley Merlot, 2006 ($25) is a rich, intensely concentrated wine from two premier estate vineyards. Rated 93 Points by Wine News, (November 2009), this wine has great structure, backbone and elegant mid-palate. There’s an alluring nose of bing cherry, violets, cocoa and baking spice that seamlessly leads to generous red fruit and a velvety texture. The expressive flavors of dark cherry, toasted oak and blackberry jam will continue to evolve for the next 5-7 years.
With more than 400 wineries, mostly small family-owned operations, and numerous more brands. You’re sure to find something delicious that suits your fancy.
The latest Wine I Like It blind wine tasting was an eye-opener for many of the tasters. None of them were prepared to discover these wines each had an average price point of $12 and were wines most of them knew, had previously tried, or had once considered as a favorite wine. The ten wines hailed from eight different wine regions.
This tasting group seriously set about tasting and providing feedback. Most tried guessing the varietals and a few tried guessing both the varietal and region. One taster correctly identified each varietal and region of all ten wines and named the producer on three. Two correctly identified seven of the ten wines and the remaining tasters each averaged five correct indentifications.
The fifth wine tasted was correctly determined by all to be Chardonnay, with one taster correctly identifying the region. Another interesting note about the tasting: wines number one and two were only one point apart, and wines three, four, and five were each separated by two points. This was the highest rated and closest point grouping to date.
So what were the top five wines from this selection?
Well, number one was the last wine tasted: [yellow tail] Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, a multi-regional blend from Coonawarra, Wrattonbully & Padthaway, Australia. Full-bodied, structured, complex, and elegant, it had aromas of ripe, black cherries, blackberries, mint, oak, and velvety smooth tannins.
Overall our tasters commented on the “smoothness and lack of harsh tannins”. Some comments included: “very smooth cab”; “a drinkable red, touch of sweetness at end”; “good flavor, smooth, yet has nice body to it”; “very yum”; “great nose, nice color, nice finish, tastes great!” and “Love it!”
Our tasters were surprised to see that this was [yellow tail] Reserve Cabernet and that it retailed for around $13 not the $18+ they had guessed.
Number two was [yellow tail] Reserve Chardonnay. This wine was correctly identified by everyone and one person correctly identified it as [yellow tail] Chardonnay from Australia. Gasps of “Yellow Tail? You’re kidding!” were heard at the reveal. Tasting it blind, they had been able to concentrate on the full-bodied wine’s melon, peach, tropical fruit rather than brand name. All of the tasters commented on the fresh palate and powerful fruit.
Some of the written comments were: “a little sweet, but good”; “dry, smooth, great dinner wine”; “a hint of oak/butter in the finish”; “It’s oaky—Chardonnay. Not sure where it’s from”; “powerful, tropical fruit”; “oaky”: “ It’s my favorite white so far.”; “ Loving these wines”; “tend not to like Chardonnay, but would drink this again”; “hint of citrus oak flavor comes through” and “nice bouquet and great flavor”.
The tasters said they would pay up to $16.80 for it. The actual price point is around $12. Both top wine’s alcohol level hovered around 13.5%.
Number three was Ramon Bilbao Crianza Tempranillo from Spain. This medium-bodied wine was a bright, deep, cherry-red with intense aromas of ripe black berries, savory hints of balsam and licorice. It was fresh, well-structured and textured with smoky cedar, spice box, leather, violets, and blackberry nuances.
All of the tasters commented on the intriguing earth, smoky aromas and the lenghty, peppery finish. A few noted a bitter edge to the cherry flavors. Overall, the wine was well received and comments included: “Nice nose, deep color, very nice”; “smooth, mellow, love it!”; “ Great flavor and body, dry finish, like this a lot”; “definitely yummy. Strong finish”; “My favorite so far”; “ love the flavor”; “smooth cherries”, and “not sure of what this is, but would drink again.” All wanted to know where this wine could be purchased and the average estimate for this $12 wine was $16.50
The first wine of the evening [yellow tail] Bubbles ranked at number four. The first thing the group noticed was the stopper or “zork”—a reusable sparkling wine stopper that the user presses down firmly to seal, and then pulls the side clasps down until a click is heard—they were intrigued. Made using the Charmat process (Tank Fermentation), Bubbles was delightfully fresh and fruity. Flavors of tropical fruits and a medium sweetness led to a delightful, crisp finish.
Some of the group thought it was a $14 Cava. The sparkling wine lovers thought this was “a delicious, fun sparkler”. One stated it was “too fruity for my taste”, but most agreed that it was a “good, general occasion bubbly”. Other comments included: “good flavor, but a twiggy after taste”; “sparkling wines are my favorite.”; “Refreshing lemon-lime, yummy and light”; “nice amount of bubbles”; “love the apricot and peach flavors’; and the final comment “It’s sparkling, it’s white, what’s not to like?” They especially liked the $9 price tag.
Rounding out the top five was Hob Nob Merlot, a red from France made in a “New World” style. The group picked up on the black-currant, plum, and blackberry aromas and flavors. Most of the group commented that it was “Full-bodied with a nice soft, dry finish”. One commented “This is interesting. I like the smooth, deep flavors would pay $15.” Written comments included: “nice tannic finish and the best so far”; and “tastes like rasins, but I think it’s merlot— nice chocolate undertones.” Most agreed they would buy it again and they would pay around $15.50 for it. They were delighted to discover it was an $11 wine.
This tasting offered several surprises, instead of tasting something new and different, they were reintroduced to some old favorites and great values.
The next wine I Like It tasting will be held at Branches Catering on January 25, 2011.
Most of these wines can be found at local retailers, including: Gerards Wine & Spirits in Point Pleasant, Wine King of Wall, Spirit of 76 in Manasquan and Monmouth Bottle Shop in Oakhurst.
Fall has arrived! There’s a nip in the air, and that means it’s time to shift our focus toward the fall, cooler days, cooler nights and red wine.
My light and bright summer whites are making room for my richer and more full-bodied wines—both white and red. It’s time to head down to the wine cellar to begin the transition to medium-bodied wines, ones that work well with autumn’s erratic temperatures and seasonal foods. This month we share ten easy drinking favorites that pair beautifully with fall menus. All were selected because we love them, not according to price so you will find an organic Argentine Malbec that retails $10 or less to a $50+ (gasp!) Chardonnay.
My first selection is reltively inexpensive, Cantele’s Salice Salentino Riserva—an easy drinking red blend of Negroamaro (85%) and Malvasia Nera (15%) from Puglia, Italy. Ripe fruit and a firm sense of structure come together beautifully in this expressive, mid-weight red. This wine possesses textbook aromas sweet, perfumed herbs and black cherries. The flavors are dense wild cherries, sweet herbs, licorice and new saddle leather. The wine seems to gain depth with air, melding vibrant tones of spice and fruity richness with vibrant acidity and a long, finessed finish. This generous, inviting wine offers incredible quality for the money, not to mention plain deliciousness. A good tailgating wine, it’s perfect to drink with almost anything from pizza to stew to steak!
Next on our list is Poggio del Sasso from Cantina di Montalcino, a small 250-member cooperative in Tuscany. Poggio del Sasso is a new-age style Sangiovese—young and lush with rich cherry and berry-like fruit. Clear and ruby red in color, this well-structured wine shows cherries and plums, followed by spicy vanilla and clove aromas. It’s lively and fresh with soft, rounded tannins. The fine intensity and long finish make it a perfect pairing for so many dishes—chicken, red meat, lamb, pork, pastas, stews or well-aged cheeses.
What’s fall without harvest soups and stews? What’s a stew without a Burgundy?
Domaine Jacques Prieur Chambertin Grand Cru 2007. This is a medium red and is, as are all red Burgundies, made from 100% Pinot Noir. Complex aromas of raspberry, red licorice, earth and smoked meat presage a stewed-fruit palate that’s rich and creamy. Pungent earth tones and a wonderfully enveloping texture enhances the suave, ripe tannins. It’s perfect for all things Burgundian: Bourguignon, duck with raspberries, salmon Dijon, beef stroganoff, or anything in a creamy mushroom sauce.
El Coto de Rioja Crianza from Spain is a perfect addition to fall. This Crianza is the classic Rioja marriage of wine and wood. Made from 100% Tempranillo from Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja, this sleek red is created in a modern-style, with intense red fruit that combines the fresh, crushed strawberry and red cherry flavors typical of Tempranillo with expressive hints of vanilla and oak. It’s spicy, with gentle tannins and bright acidity, offering a rich, ripe finish. This style of wine just calls out for hearty beef—covered with black pepper, grilled or braised. Paired with “game birds”, paella, Parmigiano Reggiano or asiago chese it’s spectacular, but it’s also an easy drinking wine to to pair with a “the works” pizza and football on the side.
Cuma Malbec, a certified organic wine produced by Michel Torino Estate in Cafayate Valley, Argentina was hidden in the southern hemisphere section of the cellar. Cuma means “pure and clear” in Aymará, the language of a tribe who once inhabited the region. This lively red-violet wine exhibits opulent aromas of bright cherry and plum jam, with raisin, vanilla and rosemary notes. There is plenty of ripe fruit, date-raisin flavors, and soft, sweet tannins. There’s a trace of nuts and spice on the long finish. This is the red wine lover’s wine to pair with chicken—barbecued, baked, broiled, roasted, or sauced like Chicken Cacciatore. A perfect party or get-together red, it also pairs well with pork, sausages, hard and semi-hard cheeses, calzone, burgers, cheesesteaks, cold cuts, and lasagna. Pastas with meat, vegetable, tomato, pesto or marinara sauces love this wine. This should become a staple in your wine collection as it is in mine.
Pumphouse Shiraz 2007 hails from Backsberg Estate in Paarl, South Africa. This Malbec (12%) and Shiraz (88%) blend is a bold, full-bodied Shiraz. It’s distinctive with roasted mesquite flavorings, and lots of mouth-watering black cherry, raspberry, blackberry, and black currant fruit blending with anise, vanilla, and a graphite notes. The long, smoky finish lets an espresso hint linger, allowing the wine to pair very well with dark chocolate. For more substantial pairings, steak, lamb, venison, or chili make for a nice meal. For snacking, cheesy dishes, Parmesan, asiago, Gorgonzola or blue cheese with prosciutto are magically delicious with this wine.
Bell Winery Estate’s Big Guy, Red Wine, California, 2007 is a blend of California appellations using Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec) blended with Syrah (a Rhône varietal). Big Guy displays lively fruit aromas and flavors. Enjoyable while young, the tannin structures will allow the wine to develop gracefully for several years. It’s delicious easy to drink and can hold its own with bleu cheese and filet mignon.
One Napa Valley favorite to pair with nearly everything is Summers Charbono Napa 2007. There is a real juiciness in this dark purple, almost black wine. The rich, ripe berry and plum flavors are combined with a pleasant minerally earthiness. This wine is big with high acid and soft and fleshy tannins. This is what makes the wine so drinkable and so easy to pair with food. When in doubt, pull out a Summers Charbono, it serves well alongside fattier proteins like “wild game”. For vegetarians the earthy flavors found in fennel, spinach, and mushrooms make for a pleasant pairing. Lovers of Italian comfort food, this wine pairs marvelously with hearty lasagna.
Even though it’s the start of the red wine season, we still need to keep a few whites with “old world” richness to pair with our cooler weather menus.
Hugel Pinot Gris 2006 is a rich, yet bone-dry wine that is savory and creamy on the palate and has generous acidity to balance its fullness. The aromas are fresh floral and spice with a bit of earth. There are apple-pie and lemon curd notes, sidling up to aromas of pear, jasmine, lime blossoms and smoky hints of moss, fern, and mushrooms. Full-bodied, balanced, and nicely structured, its a vivid, fruit-driven wine with delicious acidity. The lively, juicy fruit flavors offer a hint of sweetness. Ripe pears orbit around citrus and peach notes that make for solid pairing potential with seafood, poultry, veal, or mushroom risotto. The wine’s cinnamon and cardamom notes will bring out the savory side of autumn pumpkins and apples.
Nothing says fall like a good white burgundy. Even the “anything-but-chardonnay” types will find Olivier Leflaive Meursault Premier Cru Charmes 2006 something special. Yes it’s pricey, but for a special meal, Meursault is a delight. It is a rich, round, elegant and powerful wine, with a ripe nose of white flowers, peach, pear and apricot. There is a hint of brioche that serves as a refined introduction to the clean, crisp and naturally pure sweet flavors that this generous medium-bodied wine offers. The excellent vibrancy and a silky texture displays plenty of citrus-like acidity and finesse. This is a perfect accompaniment to calf’s sweetbread (yes, liver), lobster or cream dishes, and can be served with all kind of cheeses, fish, poultry and any white meat with cream. This is a charming, enjoyable wine that’s definitely worth the price.
Our final wine is a sparkling or “frizzante” wine from Piedmonte, Italy— Marenco’s Pineto Brachetto d’Acqui. Made from 100% Brachetto, is a medium-bodied, reddish-pink wine offering a trace of sweetness making it perfect for toasts, desserts or as an aperitif. Brachetto has wonderful aromas of black raspberry and black cherry with notes of tar, clove, rose, and violets. It is a cheerful treat; mild, soft and delicate on the palate. Combine the moderate alcohol (5.5%) along with the fresh, fruity, floral aromas and you have a wine that is perfect with fresh fruit, sweets, fruit cakes, or chocolate as an after-dinner treat.
Do yourself a favor give some of these a try.
The latest Wine I Like it Blind Wine Tasting was held August 31 at Branches in West Long Branch. This month the wine tasting consisted of nine wines, which were sampled and rated by the 29 panel members.
Seven of the nine wines were from Spain, primarily tempranillo from the Ribera del Duero (although there was one Cabernet Sauvignon) and one white wine from Rueda. The remaining two wines to make up the set were a Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from California.
The wines were presented “blind”—no information was provided about the wine prior to tasting, nor could the tasters see the bottles before the tasting. The guests were told to rate the wines on a scale of “0” – “5” with “5” being “I liked it a lot” and “0” being I didn’t like it at all. Only the top five results are published. Full tasting results and information is provided to the to participating vendors, suppliers and distributors who request it.
Distributors / Vendors / Winemakers are asked to supply 2-3 bottles of each wine(s) that they would like to promote and/or sample with the public. If the wines are currently available locally, information regarding the basic price points and local retailers is conveyed to the tasters. If the wines are new to the market/area, providing suggested retail price aids the taster panel members when they ask for the products at their favorite retail establishment.
Guests were encouraged to guess the region and appellation of the wines and to mark down how much they would be willing to pay for the wine in a wine shop, rather than guess the retail price of the wine.
To help them remember the wines and tell their friends about the wines they liked, each taster had a two-piece rating sheet. The top sheet was returned with their scores and what they would be willing to pay for each wine. The bottom sheet listed the wines they tasted in the order of tasting, and since it is a carbonless transfer, they also retain their scores and comments. Additionally, each panel member was given (at the end of the evening) information regarding the wines, varietals and region to take with them.
If you would be interested in participating in the wineilikeit.com wine tasting panel program, it would be greatly appreciated. for more details on the particulars, check out the website or please contact: Art Foss at firstname.lastname@example.org or Barbara Hay at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The top five wines were:
1. Tinto Roa Reserva 2005
2. 24th Annual Belmar Seafood Festival Chardonnay from Domenico Winery
3. Tinto Roa Crianza 2007
4. Tinto Roa Roble 2008
5. Tinto Roa Musai de Tinto Roa 2006
The number one performer was the sixth wine that was tasted: Tinto Roa Reserva 2005, a tempranillo. Comments were very generous: “very bold fruit-forward wine, yet balanced”; “nice oak”; “it makes your mouth explode!”; “very full, big and spicy”; and “nicely balanced, great nose, smooth finish, jammy fruit-forward and big. Great for pasta” The prices people were willing to pay for this ranged from a low of $7 to a high of $25+ with the average coming to $15.
The number two-rated wine was the second wine tasted, it had been referred to as number eight. This was the 24th Annual Belmar Seafood Festival Chardonnay from Domenico Winery in California. Comments included: “excellent length, hints of flowers, and nice buttery finish”; “dry and oaky rounded flavors”; and “would be nice with food” The average price the tasters said were willing to pay for this wine was $10. One taster did say she would pay $4 while another remarked they would pay as much as $15
Finishing in third place was the fifth wine tasted: Tinto Roa Crianza 2007, another tempranillo. Overall the tasters seemed to agree that it had “good flavors, smooth mouth feel, and not too tannic”. One taster noted that it seemed “smoky, like pinot noir”. Many commented that it had a nice amount of oak and a “great finish” Another taster wrote “big and oaky, nice body with a good dry finish, nicely dry with a bit of spice—soft and smooth, good depth. In a word, yummy!” This wine was given a low price point of $7 and a high price point of $20 with the average dollar amount coming to around $13
Following the Crianza in fourth place, was the the fourth wine sampled, the wine was referred to as number 3 during the tasting: Tinto Roa Roble 2008. This wine had less aging than the previous two tempranillo offerings, and the tasting notes reflected the lighter body. Comments included: “reasonably dry”; “opens up to a nice fullness and depth”; “earthy, smooth, and dry”; “easily pairs with a lot of food”; “smooth, fresh flavors, light-medium-body, fills the mouth with berry”. The amounts the tasters said they would pay ranged from a low of $6 to a high of $20 with the average price point around $12.
The last wine of the top five was the number seven wine: Tinto Roa Musai de Tinto Roa 2006. It was apparent the tasters either “Loved it” or were indifferent toward it as it received more “5” point ratings than any other , but it also received more “1” and “2” point ratings than the other wines in the top five. The tasters comments included: “good structure, very impressive wine”; “nice, deep color and bold complex flavor—love it!” “The best of all with a big spicy finish”;, “wow! where”s the pasta?” “nice body and substance, sticks to my tongue” This tempranillo also garnered the highest amount that the tasters were willing to pay $27+, but the tasters who were not enamoured of it seemed to prefer an $8 price tag, bringing this wine’s average price the panel was willing to pay to $15.
If you noticed, most of the wines on this list all contain a grape you may or may not have heard about before: Tempranillo. It is often referred to as Spain’s “noble grape”. Tempranillo grapes thrive in a short growing season and this early ripening tendency is the source of the name Tempranillo, which translates to “little early one”. Tempranillo also has many different regional identities worldwide, including aragon, cencibel, extremadura, valdepeñas and many derivatives of each.
Tempranillo wines can be consumed young, but the most expensive ones are aged for several years in oak barrels. It is frequently used as the base variety in blends, mostly with grenache, (aka garnacha in Spain), carignan (aka mazuelo in Spain’s Rioja region), syrah, and, more recently, cabernet sauvignon. Tempranillo aromas and flavors often combine elements of berryish fruit, plums, herbaceousness, vanilla, tobacco, an earthy-leathery character, and good minerality.
As our wine panel discovered these wines provide value for the money and are definitely worth a taste.
Micheal Hoffmann of Polaner Selections and The Wine Concierge of Allenhurst hosted a spectacular wine tasting in a gorgeous private home in West Long Branch.
The tasting of the selections began promptly at 7pm with a sparkly little number from Italy: Sorelle Bronca Prosecco. It’s interesting to note that this prosecco is made primarily of the prosecco grape with a smattering of the indigenous varieties Perera, Verdiso, and Bianchetta and all of the the grapes are certified organic. The wine is classified as a Prosecco Colli Conegliano DOCG, the region having recently achieved DOCG status as of April 2010. This wine deliciously captures all of the original aromatics and fruit flavors of the grapes, and features sweet pear, nectarine and white blossoms in perfect condition.
The Bronca family team works hard in the vineyard and in the cellar to produce this purest and outstanding Prosecco Extra Dry, and they have succeeded. It is a truly stunning example of Italy’s favorite sparkler—perfect as an aperitif, with delicate dishes and fish, and for celebrating any special occasion.
This was immediately followed by a very full racy mouthful: Domaine du Haut Bourg Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu 2009. Located in the heart of the Muscadet appellation, fourteen kilometers southeast of Nantes in the Loire Valley, the Domaine du Haut Bourg was built by four generations of winegrowers. The “Côtes de Grandlieu” AOC is formed by nineteen townships that surround the Lac de Grandlieu. Made from from sustainably farmed 45-year-old Melon de Bourgogne vines, this is classic Muscadet—bracing, salty, racy, and vibrant with delicious mature fruit flavors.
The third wine hailed from the slopes of Mount Etna in North-eastern Sicily. This white was simply called Calabretta Carricante. This is considered to be a rare white wine made from old vine Carricante, interplanted with Minella Bianca for acidity. The winemaker, Massimiliano Calabretta, is also a part-time college professor at the University of Genova, and he makes only about 2,000 bottles of this a year. This intriguing white is redolent with melony fruit and hints of straw and almonds. This medium-bodied white has a beautiful texture, lovely acidity and a lingering memory on the palate. It is a perfect wine to pair with nearly any sort of warm-weather foods or to serve as an aperitif. It was truly a unique wine.
The Calabretta Carricante was followed by a wine from one of Italy’s top “superstar” winemakers—Elisabetta Foradori’s Myrto I.G.T. Vigneti delle Dolomiti Bianco. Myrto is made from a blend of sixty percent Sauvignon Blanc and forty percent of a little-known grape, Incrocio Manzoni. It is a classy, medium-bodied and zesty dry white wine that perfectly captures the bounce and classic soil expression of the best white wines of the Trentino-Alto Adige. Myrto comes from the biodynamically farmed Foradori vineyards that lie in the side valley of Campo Rotaliano. Needless to say, Myrto is a beautifully made delicate expression of elegance that offers up outstanding value.
The next wine was a Vouvray. Chenin Blanc has been identified with Vouvray for at least 11 centuries, and many of its great vineyards were known by the 14th century for producing some of the world’s most compelling white wines. By those standards, the 80-year-old Huët estate is relatively young. Yet, Domaine Huët Vouvray Le Mont 2009 , the fifth offering of this tasting has been the standard-bearer for great, ageworthy Chenin Blanc since its founding in 1928. Domaine Huët’s founder, Victor Huët, purchased the first of his great vineyards on Vouvray’s “Première Côte”in 1928. In 1957, the estate purchased the prime Première Côte vineyards: Le Mont. Le Mont Vouvray shows a fascinating level of transparency, purity, and knife-edged balance. Presently, this young wine is full of intense minerality. With age, this wine will develop great length and finesse. This is an epic vintage, it was exciting to taste this latest offering from one of the earliest adopters of biodynamic practices in the Loire Valley.
From the Loire, the tastebuds travelled to Livermore, California’s Kalin Cellars. Kalin Cellars Chardonnay Cuvée W Livermore Valley 1994. Yes, 1994. One taste, and even the most anti-Chardonny drinker will discover a unique California wine experience. Located in Marin County, the goal of winemaker Terry Leighton is to “produce wines of enduring value with traditional European style and character.” Terry is also professor emeritus of microbiology at UC Berkeley and understands the science of winemaking. The grapes were sourced from the Wente Estate Vineyard located near Livermore. Kalin Cellars makes this an artisanal wine of substantial depth, complexity and style. The aromas are reminiscent of lime blossoms and freshly toasted bread. The flavors are rich, powerful, but counterbalanced by an extraordinary, racy mineral acid fruit structure. This singular 100% Charonnay is a wine to match with food.
After these six Beautiful whites it was time to think about sampling the magnificent reds that were featured this evening. What better way to ease the transition than with a glass of Bedrock Wine Co.’s Bedrock Rosé? Bedrock is an itsy-bitsy winery making wine in a converted chicken coop and their 2009 ‘Ode to Lulu’ Rose Sonoma Valley is a fabulous rosé. For all the point counters, last year’s vintage of “Lulu” received the highest score for rosé ever given. It received 90 points from both the Wine Spectator and Steven Tanzer. This rosé is made from Mourvedre and the vines are 120 year-old vines. The Mourvedre has bright aromatics of red currents, cherry, and hints of white pepper, bordered with the added complexity of the funky mustiness of the Mourvedre grape. The palate is clean and vibrant with dusty minerality leading to a lengthy finish. This wine paired beautifully with the offerings of cured meats, cheese, great bread, fresh tomatoes, and basil.
The first red of the evening was Evodia 2008 from Altovinum. Altovinum is a new project—a joint partnership between Eric Solomon, Jean Marc Lafage and Yolanda Diaz. The wine is 100% old vine Garnacha from the D.O. Calatayud’s village of Atea. This wine is fresh with pure strawberry and raspberry deepened by notes of licorice, black tea and pungent herbs on the nose. Supple in texture, this young garnacha is velvety, offering sweet red fruit flavors, hints of spicy pepper and a nice smokieness that only adds to the complexity. The wine is incredibly smooth with nicely persistent, red berry-dominated finish. It was extremely easy to drink paired beautifully with the cheeses and meats that were offered.
The second red was from Mendoza Argentina: La Posta Bonarda. Bonarda is a grape that has taken off in Argentina, and this 100% example is one of unusually high quality. This winery has been growing grapes in Mendoza since 1887, and the present Bonarda vineyard was planted in 1963. This Bonarda sports bright aromas of fresh red & black raspberries and subtle smoky oak notes. The flavors are of freshly-crushed raspberries, white pepper, dark chocolate, a touch sandalwood and mint. Though quite rich and hedonistic, the seamless structure of this wine makes it a candidate for drinking inow or over the next few years. It will pair well with just about any food with which you would drink a fruit-driven red or a Zinfandel.
The first Pinot Nor to be sampled came from Sonoma, 2008 Mary Elke Pinot Noir. The 2008 Mary Elke Pinot Noir is 100% Donnelly Creek vineyard fruit that reflects the cool climate and soils of the Anderson Valley. Elke Vineyards practices organic farming as much as possible, yet they describe their vineyard practices more accurately as “sustainable,” allowing them to use very limited chemical inputs to the vineyard and do canopy management practices that help to reduce spray applications. The Pinot exudes rich, ripe, red fruit flavors combined with a slight spice element and a slight mid-palate tannin to produce a “bigger” style Pinot Noir. This is an an elegant wine characterized by ripedark chrry fruit, a spicy backbone, and velvety texture which will continue to develop with bottle aging. Elke is a limited production Pinot Noir with 1,200 cases.
L’Angevin Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2007 is a Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley. This Pinot has a traditional and refined feminine character of fresh black cherry, bergamot, mint, and tea leaves. There is an intense layered bouquet of strawberry, raspberry, orange blossom with notes of vanilla and spice. On the palate, there is a beautiful acidity, silky tannins and red fruit flavors that makes for a well balanced medium-bodied wine with a moderate finish and smooth texture. Simply put, the wine is delicately smooth and is full of beautiful cherry fruit from start to finish. This Pinot paired with the pasta, rice, cheese and meat platters offered.
The next red was the latest signature blend from winemaker extraordinaire Karen Culler, Culler Wines La Palette 2005. When Karen Culler started producing her own wines in 1997, she wanted to make wines that she liked to drink—just in case they weren’t a hit with the public. This Cabernet is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Petit Verdot, all from Alexander Ranch fruit. The wine is big, dense, and jammy, with gobs of black currants violet, and spice flavors of licorice and bay leaf. The nose is aromatic with roasted herbs, black currants, leather, minerals and toasty oak. The fruit-driven flavors and ripely tannic structure define this medium-bodied red, culminating in an elegant finish. Delicious!
The cab was followed by a 100% California Zinfandel: Outpost Zinfandel Howell Mountain 2006. Outpost creates world-class 100 percent varietals from their hand-cultivated, organically farmed 42-acre estate vineyard, and this Zin shows why Howell Mountain Zinfandel attracts such a devoted following. The old vines add aromatics and acid backbone while the younger vines provide mid-palate weight and rich elegance. There is a fragrant floral nose, hints of rich ripe black raspberry, black currant, and a spice-scented bouquet. Full-bodied, with espresso, mocha and chocolate, a good texture, a layered mouthfeel, and a long finish, it went very well with the chocolate dessert and oatmeal cookies.
The flagship Barbera from the Trinchero estate: Barbera d’Asti “Vigna del Noce”, was to be the last wine tasted for the evening. The vines for this Barbera were planted in the hills of Asti in 1929. This vintage was the 1999. Trinchero makes one of the longest-lived and most profound examples of Barbera to be found in all of Italy, and this wine lived up to the reputation with impressive complexity and the depth. Aromas of ripe dark cherry, figs, truffle, mushroom, prune, leather, stony minerality, and hints of smoke wafted up from the glass. The palate was earthy, juicy, with layers of cherry, truffle and fig with more smokey, earthy tones intermingled with spice accents that seem to expand in mid-palate. The long finish is dark, earthy, with dry tannins and minerals. This wine is the perfect wine to end an enjoyable evening.
All of these wines can be found at the Wine Concierge in Allenhurst and at Gerard’s Liquors in Point Pleasant.
Earth Day is a day that was designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin as an environmental teach-i in 1970. Senator Nelson chose the date in order to maximize participation on college campuses. He determined the week of April 19-25 was the best bet; it did not fall during exams or spring breaks, did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather. More students were likely to be in class, and there would be less competition with other mid-week events-so he chose Wednesday, April 22.
According to Senator Nelson, the moniker “Earth Day” was “an obvious and logical name” suggested by “a number of people” in the fall of 1969, including, a New York advertising executive,” Julian Koenig who was on Nelson’s organizing committee in 1969. April 22 also happened to be Koenig’s birthday, and as “Earth Day” rhymed with “birthday,” the idea came to him easily. When Nelson was asked whether he had purposely chosen Lenin’s 100th birthday, Nelson explained that with only 365 days a year and 3.7 billion people in the world, every day was the birthday of ten million living people. Additionally, a person many consider the world’s first environmentalist, Saint Francis of Assisi, was born on April 22.
To honor earth day, today we discuss the differences between and organic, sustainable, and biodynamic practices as they pertain to wine and hopefully, help to reduce some of the confusion concerning these terms.
About Organic Vineyards
These vineyards are managed without the use of systemic fungicides (fungus control), insecticides (bug control), herbicides (weed control) or synthetic fertilizers. Vineyard sprays are still used, but the products are different. Metal salts (. sulfur and copper) tend to be used for fungus control. Biological agents can be used for insect control; such as. bacteria, parasitic wasps, or pheromone/food traps. Weeds tend to be controlled via mechanical methods, such as plowing, hoeing, mulching or mowing. Vines can be fertilized via compost mulches, green manures or animal manures.
About Biodynamic Vineyards
Biodynamic viticulture stems from the ideas and suggestions of Rudolf Steiner, whose Agriculture course in 1924 spun off much of the organic movement. It utilizes a holistic approach to farming and views the vineyard as an interrelated unit placing emphasis on the balance between the soil, vines and animals in a close self-nourishing system. This philosophy places high importance on composts and manures without the use of chemical fertilizers. It does use a number of fermented herbal and mineral preparations for compost additives and sprays. The practice also utilizes the astronomical calendar for sowing and planting. Biodynamic wines may be organic or preservative-free. Many famous wineries and vineyards profess to use these techniques.
About Sustainable Vineyards
Sustainable vineyards are a combination of organic and biodynamic vineyards. Thes vineyards strive to maintain the long-term health of the land instead of depleting it for short-term gain.
About Organic Wine
I’m often asked for organic wine or wine that contains “no sulfites”. Unfortunately for consumers, much of the information available on organic wine is contradictory, especially when conversation turns to the topic of sulfites in organic winemaking.
The official definition differs depending on country of origin but basically it is wine that has been made from “organic grapes” and contains less than 100-120 mg/L of total sulphur dioxide. Sulfur is produced both naturally during fermentation and added to enhance microbiological/oxidative stability. Some “natural” products, such as milk, egg whites or bentonite clays, can also be used to help clarification, filtration and stability.
The USDA’s definition sounds deceivingly simple: “an organic wine is made from organically grown grapes to which no sulfur dioxide has been added.” However, since Greco-Roman times, sulfur dioxide has been used as an additive in the winemaking process for its anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties. While sulfites are naturally present at low levels during the winemaking process—as a by-product of the fermenting yeasts present on all grape skins—the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) guidelines state that even a wine made with 99.99% organic ingredients cannot be labeled “organic” unless no sulfur dioxide has been added to it.
As sulfites are naturally occurring, a “no sulfite” or “sulfite-free” wine simply cannot exist. For this reason, even a wine made organically is only a low-sulfite wine and not sulfite-free.
Organic wine may or may not be made from organic grapes. Organic wines are made without any external addition of sulfur (although some is always present due to fermentation and/or vineyard), anti-oxidants or anti-microbial agents.
A percentage of the population experiences sensitivity to sulfites, particularly asthmatics and people with severe allergies. For those with allergies or sensitivity, having access to a low-sulfite wine means that they can still enjoy the pleasures of wine without concerning themselves with the physical drawbacks. A wine made without the preservative of added sulfites, is chemically a more fragile substance, unstable in nature and more subject to spoilage.
Sensitive to Sulfites?
The question of living a healthy lifestyle is now more of a concern for us than ever. Often people believe they are allergic to wine. Most (not all) of these people are either sensitive to sulfur or histamine. Buying organic wine will not solve that issue because sulfur and histamine are still likely to be present. Histamine is a byproduct of malolactic fermentation and sulfur can still be added (under 100 mg/L).
Some ways to avert reactions are:
- Buy more expensive wine. Expensive wine has more attention paid to it in the production, fewer short cuts are made, therefore less sulfur needs to be added.
- Avoid sparkling wine and sweet white wines. More sulphur is needed to make these products.
- If you are sensitive to histamine:. Avoid wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation (i.e., most red wines and many chardonnays).
- Avoid fortified wines. Fortified wines contain brandy spirit, which in turn contains methanol—a major cause of hangovers.
- Drink less in a sitting. It doesn’t matter what you’re drinking, if you binge drink it will always make you sick.
As you can see, the lines between organic, sustainable, preservative-free and biodynamic wines are overlapping and if you try some of the ones currently available to you, you’ll discover organics have come a long way since they were first introduce in the 1980s.Cheers.