Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Alfaro Family "A" Estate Pinot Noir

Alfaro Family "A" Estate Pinot Noir 2011
Corralitos, Santa Cruz, California

Review: My dear husband brought me this wine back from a trip through central California. We're both big Pinot fans, and this wine was a huge hit. The "A" Pinot Noir has beautiful fruit flavors of strawberries and sweet red cherries, with nuances of vanilla and baking spice. Absolutely delicious.

The Pinot Noir grapes for this wine were sources from three vineyards within the Santa Cruz Mountain AVA, just north of Monterey Bay. They were then gently pressed and fermented with care. The wine then spent one year in French oak to soften and gain additional character. The "A" was bottled directly from the barrel, without being  fined or filtered. The result of this series of delicate treatments is divine -- a smooth, round, well balanced wine.

Food Pairing: Oh, anything. We paired this wine with... more of this wine.

Bottom Line:  I adore the flavors and textures of this wine. And the fact that the husband so thoughtfully brought it to me. A+!


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2011
  • PLACE: Santa Cruz Mountain AVA (American Viticultural Area)
  • GRAPE: Pinot Noir
  • AGEING: 12 months in French oak barrels (30% new)
  • PRODUCTION: 474 cases produced
  • BOOZE: 13.6%
  • CELLAR: Drink now or age for up to 5 years
  • alfarowine.com/

Where did I get it? 'Twas a gift! 
What's the damage? High Priced (says the interwebs)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Santa Barbara Verdicchio

Santa Barbara Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2012
Barbara, Marche, Italy

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi! Try to say it without an Italian accent. I dare you. This wine is easy to find in the store because of the shape of the bottle -- it has a delightful mermaid shape! Well, to be fair, it's really fishy shaped: Castelli di Jesi... Castle of Jesus... Jesus... ΙΧΘΥΣ... Ichthys... Fish!

Review: This is one of my favorite light white wines. It has a nose of lemon zest, expanded on the palate to include white flowers and a hint of brine. This Verdicchio has a beautiful light body, zesty acidity, and a medium fruity finish. 

Some of my classmates from Smith might remember this wine -- it made a delicious appearance in "Creativity for Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs". I'm sure the booze definitely improved our grade!

Food Pairing: Perfect with... fish! 

Bottom Line: Light and easy. Great flavors. Good value. I dig it.


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2012
  • PLACE: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata)
  • GRAPE: Verdicchio
  • BOOZE: 12.5% 
  • CELLAR: Drink now
  • www.vinisantabarbara.it

Where did I get it? Cheesetique Del Ray
What's the damage? Mid Priced 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Brew Thursday: Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat

Lost Coast Brewery Tangerine Wheat
Eureka, California

Review: Oh, how I LOVE fruity beers -- and this one is my new favorite, taking over the number 1 spot from Abita's Strawberry Wheat.  It has a huge tangerine hit on the nose when pouring, and nice fruit and wheatie-ness on the palate. It's perfectly refreshing with just a little bit of bitterness on the finish.

This is the only beer I've had from Lost Coast up in Northern California, but I'll definitely be on the look out for their other offerings. The Tangerine Wheat made an appearance for the season at my local watering hole, FireFlies. It was the perfect paring for a burger and a warm summer evening.

Bottom Line: Balanced and tasty. I dig it! If you're looking for a light summer brew, I strongly recommend it.

Beer Geekery:
  • BREWER: Lost Coast Brewery
  • STYLE: Fruit Beer
  • PLACE: Eureka, California
  • BOOZE: 5.0%
  • www.lostcoast.com
Where did I get it?  Fire Flies Del Ray
What's the damage?  Mid Priced

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Feudi Di San Gregorio Rubrato Aglianico

Feudi Di San Gregorio Rubrato Aglianico 2010
Avellino, Campania, Italy

Review: This is the second Aglianico I've reviewed. The first was from transplanted Italian vines cultivated in Paso Robles, California. This gem is the real deal, hailing from the heart of Irpinia in Campania. The wines are generally pretty similar, although this Aglianico is a bit lighter in body.

The wine has light aromas but deeply intense flavors of blackberries, bramble, and licorice. One of the things I love most about an Aglianico is the high acidity. It makes for a nicely refreshing, mouth watering wine. The acidity is balanced with smooth soft tannins and round fruit -- a great combination.

Food Pairing: Salty meats and cheeses. 

Bottom Line: I just adore the fruit on this wine. So tasty!


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2010
  • PLACE: Irpinia Aglianico DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata)
  • GRAPE: Aglianico
  • BOOZE: 13% 
  • CELLAR: Drink now, hold for a few years
  • www.feudi.it

Where did I get it? I have no idea! That's twice in two weeks. Must keep better records...
What's the damage? Mid Priced (I think)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Cupcake Sauvignon Blanc

Cupcake Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Marlborough, New Zealand

Cupcakes! Everyone loves cupcakes -- well, they used to. While it has nothing to do with doomed boutique cupcake shops throughout DC, this ubiquitous New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is pretty decent. Coming in at $9.99, it's fair representation of the New World style of Sauvignon Blanc.

Review: This Cupcake has a pale lemon-green hue with distinct aromas of gooseberry, lemons, and herbs. On the palate, the wine has high acid and a light/medium body, and further shows citrus and herb flavors, with a decidedly grassy finish. There's also a teeny hint of creaminess coming from a "sur lie" ageing (time spent on dead yeast cells after fermentation is complete). With a name like Cupcake I was expecting some residual sugar, but this wine comes across as pretty much dry. 

Food Pairing: Seafood -- maybe some nice garlicky mussels. 

Bottom Line:  If you're in the market for a light, inexpensive, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc -- here you go! It's certainly no Cloudy Bay, but it ain't half bad.


Wine Geekery:

Where did I get it?  Shoppers

What's the damage?   Low Price

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Cigliano Annata Chianti Classico

Cigliano Annata Chianti Classico 2009
Tuscany, Italy

Tonight is the season 6 premier of HBO's True Blood. Blood. Bloody. Sanguine. Sangiovese time!!

Review:  For the longest time I didn't think I liked Chianti -- but that's because what I was drinking came for the giant jug of table wine they give you at the Macaroni Grill. Mom, you know exactly what I'm talking about... My young taste buds weren't wrong. According to Tom Stevenson, "most Chianti is still garbage, albeit in a cleaner, more sanitized form than it used to be." While there is quite a bit of over astringent, high acid Chianti out there (it was hugely popular in the late 20th century and crazy over-planted making lots of less than stellar wines), this one would be sure to please even the pickiest of vampires (and possibly Tom Stevenson) looking for a good quality, mid-priced, everyday-drinking wine.

This Chianti is from the sub-region Classico, which demands the lowest yields (less fruit on the vine = more flavorful wine!) of all of Chianti. Chianti is nearly always a blend, with the rules for Classico requiring a minumum of 75% Sangiovese (producers could make 100% Sangiovese wines in this region after 1995 when the rules were changed). This wine comes in at 90% Sangiovese, and 5% each Caniolo and Colorino, two native Tuscan black grapes. The wine spends one year in large French oak casks, giving it time to soften.

This wine has lovely, mellow aromas of fresh plums and lavender. On the palate the fruit is joined by flavors of cedar and cinnamon. The wine has the high acid you would expect from a Chianti, with slightly textured tannins, a medium body, and a medium finish. Yummy.

Food Pairing: Meat! 

Bottom Line: Great flavors and balance. I dig it. I may even have to send a bottle to my mother...


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2009
  • PLACE: Chianti Classico DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) 
  • GRAPE: 90% Sangiovese, 5% Canailo, 5% Colorino
  • AGEING: 12 months in botti (big 500 liter French oak casks)
  • BOOZE: 13.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now or hold for a few more years
  • www.villadelcigliano.it

Where did I get it? I don't remember -- it's been in my wine rack for at least a year...
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Malvasia di Casorzo Dolce

Cantina Sociale di Casorzo Malvasia di Casorzo Dolce 2012
Piedmont, Italy

Review: Sweet! Red! Bubbles! No, don't run away -- it's delicious! Seriously. This wine is worlds different than the last sweet red I blogged. Sweet, but not too sweet, with balanced acidity. Nice round red fruit -- cherries and strawberries -- with aromas of roses and a lingering fruity finish. This wine is not fully sparkling, but is frizzante, with some fizziness.

This wine is from Asti in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy. It's made from the red grape Malvasia Nera, part of the the large family of Malvasia grapes (the source of one type of the much loved Madeira). While most of the Malvasia family is white, this is indeed a red grape!

Pairing: Dark chocolate mousse with berries! Or with a cheese plate!

Bottom Line: Fun and bubbly! I dig it. And at about $12, a great value buy.


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2012
  • PLACE: Malvasia di Casorzo d'Asti DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata)
  • GRAPE: Malvasia Nera
  • BOOZE: 5.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now
  • www.casorzodoc.it/

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lionel Osmin Pied de Perdrix

Lionel Osmin Pied de Perdrix 2010
Cahors, France

Pied de Perdrix -- translated as Partridge Foot -- is a long lost "cousin" of Malbec. According to producer, Lionel Osmin, this grape was rediscovered in the southwest of France and cultivated in the Comte Tolosan region.

While originally a French grape, Malbec has taken off as the most well known wine from Argentina. "So, how are French and Argentinian Malbec different?" you may ask. Generally speaking, the fruit flavors are the same. However, Argentinian Malbec will see more new oak treatment and have silky smooth tannins. French Malbec on the other had, is vinified with less oak and allows for more of the local terroir to shine through, making for a more earthy, rustic wine.

Review: This dark, inky colored Malbec has nice flavors of blackberries and plums, along with a light licorice note. There are also hints of smoke, spice, and earth. The wine is completely dry, with a medium body and a short finish.

Pairing: Portobello mushroom parmesan.

Bottom Line: The lightness of this wine makes it ideal for a summer red. Easy to drink, easy to enjoy.


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2010
  • PLACE: Vin de Pays du Comte Tolosan
  • GRAPE: Pied De Perdrix (Malbec)
  • BOOZE: 13.0%
  • CELLAR: Drink now or hold for a few years
  • www.osmin.fr

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Monday, June 10, 2013

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Bogle Chardonnay

Bogle Vineyards Chardonnay 2011
Clarksburg, California

I've passed by this wine in the grocery store many a time but had never tried it until tonight. Bogle Vineyards is a (large) family run operation hailing from Clarksburg, California. They produce a wide range of wines, sourcing grapes from throughout the state -- a large number of these vineyards are farmed with sustainable practices. 

Review: This wine is quite heavily oaked -- half of the wine is fermented in oak, half in stainless steel, followed by 9 months of ageing in sweet American oak. On the nose I don't get much other than the toasty wood and butter, but on the palate some more fruit comes out. There's a nice flavor of lemons and pears, followed by a lingering woody finish. In addition to the oak treatment, the wine is allowed to go through malolactic fermentation (or ML), where harsh malic acid is converted into soft, buttery lactic acid. Plus, during the fermentation process, the wine is allowed to rest on the lees (spent yeast cells). Together, this soft acidity and lees ageing gives the wine a nice round body and texture

Food Pairing: cheesy spinach frittata with a side of leafy greens.

Bottom Line:  I will confess that this is not my style of Chardonnay. I tend to prefer more fruit and less oak. At times I felt like I could almost chew the wood. Be that as it may, this is a style of Chard that LOTS of people do enjoy. Overall, this is a good price ($9.59) for a heavily oaked, well balanced Chard. Not my first choice Chard, but I wouldn't kick it out of bed for eating crackers...


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2011
  • PLACE: California
  • GRAPE: Chardonnay
  • AGEING: 9 months American Oak
  • BOOZE: 13.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now
  • www.boglewinery.com

Where did I get it?  Shoppers

What's the damage?   Low Price

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Henri Bourgeois "Petit Bourgeois" Rosé de Pinot Noir

Henri Bourgeois "Petit Bourgeois" Rosé de Pinot Noir 2012
Loire Valley, France

For me, summertime screams for rosé. Bright and restorative -- a great relief from the heat and humidity. This rosé is from made from Pinot Noir grapes grown on chalky-clay soils of the Loire Valley.

Review: The wine has lovely light red cherries and roses on the nose, followed by red berries and dill on the palate. It's dry with nice acidity, perfect for summer sipping.

Pairing: Grilled lemon chicken and friends!

Bottom Line: This wine is simple and smooth, refreshing with nice fruit. Nothing too complex. I dig it.


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2012
  • PLACE: Vin de Pays du Val de Loire
  • GRAPES: Pinot Noir
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now
  • www.henribourgeois.com

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Brew Thursday: Brugse Zot

De Halve Maan Brugse Zot
Bruges, Belgium

Review: Zot! Zot! It's not for Peter the Anteater, but also what the Felmish call "fools from Bruges". In this playful spirit the brewers from De Halve Maan (The Half Moon) have brought us an amazingly smooth brew just in time for summer.

This blonde ale is light with TONS of bubbles and bright flavors of citrus and spice. It's brewed with  four kinds of malts and two types of aromatic hops giving the beer a great depth of flavor. It's a touch sweet on the palate lending a perfect balance.

Bottom Line: This is exactly the style of beer I enjoy. Not too heavy, but still flavorful and full bodied. I pity the Zot who doesn't drink this beer...

Beer Geekery:
  • BREWER: Huisbrouwerij De Halve Maan
  • STYLE: Blonde Belgian Ale
  • PLACE: Bruges, Belgium
  • BOOZE: 6.0%
  • www.halvemaan.be
Where did I get it?  Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage?  Mid Priced, per 750 ml bottle

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Ch. du Jaunay Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie

Château du Jaunay Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2011
Nantais, Loire Valley, France

France's Loire valley produces a wide variety of wines. This one hails from a region of the Nantais (in the faaaaaar West Loire), named for the Sèvre and Maine rivers. It's made from 100% Muscadet, also known as Melon de Bourgogne -- but has no relation to white Burgundy. However, Muscadet wines made in the "Sur Lie" can resemble good white Burgundy in texture: by resting and ageing the wine on the lees (spent yeast cells) the wine takes on a smooth, round body and a lovely depth of flavor. Additionally, by not filtering the wine before bottling, it retains more carbonic gas from fermentation giving the wine a certain liveliness and freshness (so says Mr. Stevenson, and I must agree).

Review: I love this wine. Dry, full bodied and creamy. Beautiful notes of grapefruits and pears. Mouthwatering acidity and minerality. Perfect balance by itself or with food.

Pairing: This would be great with seafood or something else relatively light. I had it with pasta and fresh summer squashes.

Bottom Line: Just perfect. And at about $12 a bottle, I think I'm going to go fetch me some more. I dig it.


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2011
  • PLACE: Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie AOC  (Appellation d'origine contrôlée)
  • GRAPES: 100% Melon de Bourgogne/Muscadet
  • AGEING: Sur Lie
  • BOOZE: 11.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now
  • www.bougrier.fr

Where did I get it? Total Wine
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Monday, June 3, 2013

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz

Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz 2010
South Australia
I'm not the biggest Australian Shiraz fan out there -- I tend to prefer the slightly less jammy, more refined Syrah of France's Rhone Valley -- but I thought I would give this modestly priced Shiraz the old college try. Penfolds is a giant in the Australian wine market, producing a huge range of wines, from the iconic Grange (which fetches prices comparable to premier cru Bordeaux) all the way down to this little wine for under $10.

Review: This Shiraz is pretty tasty. On the nose I got some nice red berries and fresh plums, with just a hint of leather. On the palate the flavors extend to include black pepper and some baking spice. Like a lot of wines in this price category going for a broad appeal, it seems to be a touch off-dry. It also has a surprisingly light body and good acidity, making it quite quaffable, again hitting on the winemaker looking to appeal to a wider audience. My only complaint would be the tannins -- my teeth are now wearing a fur coat. I'm sure when paired with food, though, the tannins would be fine. 

The grapes for this wine are sourced from many vineyard sites within the large expanse of South Australia, and likely simply lower (but still good) quality fruit that didn't make the cut for the more high end Penfolds wines.

Food Pairing: Meat. A casual barbecued chicken, slathered in sauce.

Bottom Line:  Light and easy to drink with nice fruit. I dig it. 



Wine Geekery:

  • VINTAGE: 2010
  • PLACE: South Austrailia
  • GRAPE: Shriaz/Syrah
  • AGEING: American Oak
  • BOOZE: 13.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now or hold for a few years
  • www.penfolds.com

Where did I get it?  Trader Joe's

What's the damage?   Low Price

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Virginia Fizz Sparkling Wine

Thibaut-Janisson Virginia Fizz Sparkling Wine
Afton, Virginia

Virginia wine. Some of it's just meh, some of it's swill, and some of it is really quite excellent. This bubbly hailing from outside of Charlottesville, Virginia is quite nice. It is made by transplanted French Champagne producer Claude Thibaut in the traditional method -- where the second fermentation, the one that gives the bubbly its bubbles, is done in the bottle. This sparkler definitely lives up to its name -- it's super FIZZy!

Review: Boldly effervescent with notes of golden apples, peaches, and biscuits, this wine comes on strong with high acidity. The bubbles seriously attack the palate, making for a refreshing and fun drink. Once you get past the bubbles it has a medium-long finish of nice juicy fruits. The Fizz is quite dry, with only 1.5 percent residual sugar. The dryness of the wine makes it a perfect base for cocktails. Think about adding some muddled berries and simple syrup...

Food Pairing: Cheese! I would serve this as a before dinner treat with some stinky, gooey cheese and bread.

Bottom Line: This wine fun and pretty solid for Virginia wine. It's possibly not for everyone because of the intensity of the bubbles but I like it for a friendly gathering on a hot day. 


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non Vintage
  • PLACE: Virginia
  • GRAPES: 100% Chardonnay
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now 
  • www.tjwinery.com

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? High Priced