Tuesday, July 29, 2014

McPhearson Cellars Tre Colore

McPhearson Cellars Tre Colore 2010

I was in Texas weekend before last, visiting the parentals. This jogged my memory -- I had a bottled of Texas wine in my collection. I've been holding on to this for a while and there seemed to be no better time to open in.

I know, Texas is not what comes to mind when you think fine wine. However, we have a viticulturist from Denison, Texas to thank for modern winemaking. Mr. T. V. Munson is responsible for the technique of grafting European vines onto American rootstock in order to combat the plague of phylloxera (a totally gross little root louse that decimated European vineyards in the 19th century -- and is still a problem today). In essence, he saved wine as we know it. So, thanks Mr. Munson! Texas is currently America’s number 5 grape and wine producer. Who knew?

This wine is from McPhearson Cellars, located in Lubbock, Texas. It is not indicated where the grapes were grown, but they are likely sourced at least partially from the High Plains, outside of Lubbock.

 Review: This has a lightly aromatic nose of red raspberries, cherries, and soft white pepper. On the palate it's a tiny touch off dry and brightly acidic. The wine has a light texture with little tannin, tons of tart cranberries, and a touch of honeysuckle. 

The Tre Colore is a Rhone style blend of Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Viognier. It is fermented and aged in stainless steel -- no oak contact to detract from the lively primary fruit.

Food Pairing: Lightly chilled on my front porch with some cheese, charcuterie, and company. 

Bottom Line: I was delightfully surprised by this wine. Bright and zippy. Interesting flavors. I dig it. 


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2010
  • PLACE: Texas
  • GRAPES: 62% Mourvèdre, 27% Carignan, 11% Viognier
  • BOOZE: 13.9% 
  • CELLAR: Drink Now (this has aged enough)
  • www.mcphersoncellars.com
Where did I get it? I honestly can't remember. Terrible, right?
What's the damage? Based on the producer's website, Mid Priced

Friday, July 25, 2014

Cellier des Dauphins Les Dauphins Côtes Du Rhône Rose

Cellier des Dauphins Les Dauphins Côtes Du Rhône Rosé 2013
Rhone Valley, France

I was initially drawn to this rosé because of the label. I love the whimsy and bright colors. It looks like something out of a carnival. The wine didn't let me down: it, too, is bright and fun.

The Les Dauphins is bottled by the Cellier des Dauphins cooperative located in the southern Rhone Valley. The rose is a classic blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault. Cinsault, you may not know, is a grape of southern France and is frequently used in rosé to lends youthful aromatic and perfumed notes.

Review: A soft salmon pink color, the Les Dauphins shows aromas of ripe strawberries and raspberries, honeysuckle and tangerine. The wine is dry with bright acidity wakes up your palate, and is paired with a soft body. The ripe red fruit is joined by a light minerality and more citrus on the finish. Yum.

Pairing: Grilled chicken and summer squash!

Bottom Line: Fresh and fruity. Great price (under $15!). This is my new favorite rosé for the season.


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2013
  • PLACE: Côtes du Rhône AOC (Appellation d'origine contrôlée)
  • GRAPES: 10% Cinsault, 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now or hold for a few years
  • www.cellier-des-dauphins.com/

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

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Leese-Fitch Pinot Noir

Leese-Fitch Pinot Noir 2012

The weather has cooled just a bit, making me want to pop open a bottle of red! Huzzah!

"The Other Guys" is a low key wine venture from the historic California wine-making Sebastiani family. For most of their wines there's quite a bit of vintage variation -- where each year the fruit is coming from slightly different sources and where the wines are made up of different blends. For example, the 2009 Pinot was 99% Pinot with a splash of Merlot; the 2008 was Pinot with a bit of Grenache and Ruby Cabernet. The 2012 is also an interesting mix: 80% Pinot Noir, 10% Barbera, 8% Grenache, 2% Muscat.
Review: This wine is all about the fruit. Fresh black plums, cherries, red currants, black raspberries. Fruit. The wine as a freshness about it that I can definitely get on board with. It also has a bit of earthiness and spice (anise and clove) that give it a nice dimension. While it's not something that I look for in my reds, the Leese-Fitch has a bit of sweetness (4g/L Residual Sugar) -- it may not be for me, but I definitely recognize that the sugar make the wine more quaffable and approachable for the masses.

Food Pairing: Burgers!

Bottom Line: Not my favorite Pinot in all the land, but a solid little table wine. 


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2012
  • PLACE: California
  • GRAPES: 80% Pinot Noir, 10% Barbera, 8% Grenache, 2% Muscat
  • BOOZE: 13.5% 
  • CELLAR: Drink Now
  • http://www.togwines.com/
Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Monday, July 14, 2014

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Schmitt Söhne Riesling

Schmitt Söhne Riesling 2012
Rheinhessen, Germany

In light of yesterday's German World Cup victory I struck out to find a German Riesling under $10 for Modest Monday. The Schmitt Söhne Riesling was the winner -- a full LITER at Target for $8.99. Is it a winner? Sort of...

Review: This pale gold Riesling shows aromas of lemons and white blossoms. On the palate it is medium sweet and pretty full bodied with more flavors of lemon and white pears. Personally, I found the acidity a little lacking. The wine needs a bit more for crispness to combat the level of residual sugar and waxy texture.

Food Pairing: I'm not sure I want to pair this with food. Instead, I want to make it into a nice sangria -- toss in some oranges, peaches, club soda and a hit of triple sec and you're in business.

Bottom Line: Excellent price, especially for the volume. If I were hosting a BBQ and wanted a fun sangria (and didn't want to waste really yummy wine) this would be perfect. 

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2012
  • PLACE: Rheinhessen QbA (Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete)
  • GRAPE: Riesling
  • BOOZE: 9.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now
  • www.littlegerman.com/

Where did I get it? Target
What's the damage? Low Price

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Château Mukhrani Tavkveri Rosé

Château Mukhrani Tavkveri Rosé 2012
Mtsheta, Republic of Georgia

Earlier this year I took the most fantastical trip to the Republic of Georgia. This region may not come to mind immediately when you think of wine, but according to Jancis, Georgia is "...one of the world's great and historic centres of both wild and cultivated vines." In fact, ancient methods of wine production -- fermentation in clay pots (called Qvevri) buried in the ground -- is still used throughout the region. Stay tuned for some historic wines in the coming months...

In the late 1800's Prince Ivane Mukhranbatoni was inspired by a trip to France. Upon his return he set about making wine in Georgia in the western style (stainless steel and oak) with native Georgian grapes on his family's lands. The wines were well received in the by the European market and sold in Paris, Vienna, and Warsaw. Mukhranbatoni was also a suppliers of wine to the Russian Imperial Court.

Production was halted in the early 1900's during the unrest of the fall of the Russian Empire and subsequent revolution -- and Soviet Occupation of Georgia. In 2002, a group of Georgian businessmen set about reviving the old Mukhrani castle and winery and the first modern vintage was produced in 2007.

Restoration of the castle and grounds

Review: The Tavkveri rosé is just gorgeous. It's a vivid pink color with a fragrant nose of fresh berries, red currants, and purple flowers. On the palate it is dry, brightly acidic and light bodied. Flavors of ripe red fruit -- raspberries, cherries, and currants -- is quite pronounced. Delicious.

The grape Tavkveri is dark skinned red grape native to Georgia. It is known for its florality, red berry flavors and pepper.

Food Pairing: Grilled pork kebabs!

Bottom Line: Lovely. Just lovely.


Wine Geekery:

Where did I get it? Chateau Mukhrani Tasting Room
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ch. de Péna Penya Rosé

Ch. de Péna Penya Rosé 2012
Roussillon, France

I had this wine a few weeks back at a local cafe and wine bar in Arlington called Twisted Vines. This rosé was on happy hour special by the glass -- and proceeded to make me very happy.

Review: The Penya rosé displays a pale salmon pink color and delicious aromas of fresh watermelon and cranberries. On the palate the wine presents as dry, medium body, and moderate acidity. The fruit on the nose comes through, accompanied by tart cherries, lavender, and a hint of lemons. 

This wine is made in the tiny village of Cases de Pene is situated in only 30 miles north of the Spanish border, in what is known as "French Catalonia". It is fermented in stainless steel after a maceration period of 6-8 hours on the skins.

Food Pairing: This is versatile rosé, great for porch sipping or pairing -- salad, cheese plate, grilled chicken, pizza... you name it.  

Bottom Line: The wine is well structured and refreshing. I dig it. 


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2012
  • PLACE: Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes
  • GRAPES: 60% Grenache, 40% Syrah
  • BOOZE: 13%
  • CELLAR: Drink Now
  • www.chateaudepena.com/

Where did I get it? Twisted Vines
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Monday, July 7, 2014

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: La Bastarda Bianco di Toscana IGT

La Bastarda Bianco di Toscana IGT 2013
Tuscany, Italy

What a handsome man in a dress! Who wouldn't want to try this wine? And coming in at $9.99, this wine is a summer staple.

La Bastarda comes to you from Tuscany. It's predominantly Trebbiano, the most widely planted white grape in Italy. The balance of the wine is Chardonnay. Nerd Note: Trebbiano is known as Ugni Blanc in France where it is used in Cognac and Armagnac production.

Review:  La Bastarda is an easy and happy wine. It shows lovely aromas of candied lemons and tart green apples. The wine is dry and medium bodied with soft acidity. The fruit stands out -- more apples, pears, and lemons. 

Food Pairing: A quick sauteed lemon sole. 

Bottom Line: Nothing complex, just a good Monday night wine.


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2013
  • PLACE: Toscana IGT (Indicazione Geographica Tipica)
  • GRAPES: 70% Trebbiano, 30% Chardonnay
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now or hold for a few more years
  • www.pietroso.it

Where did I get it? Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage? Low Price

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Piper Sonoma Brut

Piper Sonoma Brut
Sonoma, California

Happy Birthday 'Murica! Here are some bubbles, American grown of course, just for you! Piper Sonoma is a traditional method sparkling wine house in -- you guessed it -- Sonoma California.

Traditional Champagne grapes -- Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier -- are hand harvested and whole cluster pressed. To preserve the house style of this non-vintage bubbly, 20-25 percent of reserve wines are added the blend. After the second fermentation the wine rests in the bottle for 18 months on the lees (spent yeast) to bring a depth of flavor and toasty character to the wine.

Review: The Piper Sonoma Brut has a lovely soft gold color with small persistent bubbles. The wine shows aromas of ripe pears, golden apples and jasmine. On the palate, the wine is dry (bordering on off dry) with a soft creamy texture. Flavors of apples, white flowers, lemon zest, wet stone, and a touch of brioche linger for a moment on the palate for a lengthy finish.

I was surprised by the depth of flavor of this wine -- it has ripe tree fruits, citrus, minerals, and toast. My only wish is that the acidity were a touch higher. As it is, the wine has a softness, but I would like it to be more bright and zippy. All in all, coming in around $15, I don't have much to complain about. 

Food Pairing: Great for as an aperitif, sparkling cocktails and mimosas. Pair with fishes and light fare. 

Bottom Line: Nice and easy at a nice and easy price.  


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non Vintage
  • PLACE: Sonoma, California
  • GRAPE: 60% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir, 25% Pinot Meunier
  • BOOZE: 13.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now
  • www.pipersonoma.com
Where did I get it? Wegman's
What's the damage? Mid Priced

Thursday, July 3, 2014

New Brew Thursday: Liefmans Cuvee Brut

Liefmans Cuvee Brut

Oudenaarde, Belgium

The DC summer is in full swing -- hot, humid, gross. Few things are as refreshing on a muggy day as sour beers. Liefmans Cuvee Brut is one of the best. The brewery credits the microflora (native yeasts) of the town of Oudenaarde in East Flanders with the unique flavors of their beers.

Liefmans beers are a product of  fractional blending where older, intensely flavored beers are blended with young, bright beer. The blend is then allowed to ferment a second time, and then age. In the case of the Cuvee Brut, tart black cherries are added to the mix, and the whole shebang is then aged for 18 months. The final product is well integrated and just plain yummy.

Review: The beer pours beautifully into a glass, with a nice foamy head. When you pour it, the cherry aromas just fill the room. On the palate, the beer is bright and tart with a nice round body and zippy acidity. Tons of bitter cherries and cranberries are joined by a soft sweetness, and notes of molasses and baking spice. The finish is long and lingering.

Bottom Line: I could drink this beer every single day. It's bright and rich all at the same time. This ranks in my top 5 sours of all time. I dig it.


Beer Geekery:
  • BREWER: Liefmans
  • STYLE: Fruit Sour
  • PLACE: Oudenaarde, Belgium
  • BOOZE: 6%
  • www.liefmans.be/
Where did I get it?  Crystal City Wine Shop
What's the damage?  Mid Priced