Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mt. Hood Winery Syrah 2008

Mt. Hood Winery Syrah 2008

Columbia Valley, Oregon

A few years back the Spouse and I did a trip through the Columbia River Gorge between Oregon and Washington. We picked up this gorgeous Syrah at Mt. Hood Winery.

I can't say enough good things about this winery. Not only were the wines fantastic, but the hospitality was warm and welcoming.

Review: This Syrah is a deep garnet color, showing some evidence of its age. The wine has rich aromas of dried black currants, sweet spices, and smoke. On the palate, the wine is dry with fresh acidity and soft, resolved, well-integrated tannin creating a round lush mouthfeel. The dried dark fruit and savory smoke from the nose are joined by a hint of toasty oak, black pepper, and dried herbs. The finish is long and lingering. 

Food Pairing: Perfect with Sheppard's Pie! 

Bottom Line:  This Syrah has developed beautifully, with rich savory notes enhancing the fruit character. Just lovely. I wish I had bought more than one bottle!

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2008
  • PLACE: Columbia Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area)
  • GRAPE: Syrah 
  • BOOZE: 12.5%
  • CELLAR: Drink now through 2016

Where did I get it?  Mt. Hood Winery's Tasting Room
What's the damage?   Premium

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Barkan Vineyards Classic Pinot Noir

Barkan Vineyards Classic Pinot Noir 2013
Negev, Israel

Another episode in the Kosher Wine Chronicles! This time, Pinot Noir.

The grapes for the Barkan Classic Pinot come from the southern, dessert region if Negev, Israel. Grapes have been planted in Negev since ancient times. So what happens when ancient history and modern wine-making combine? Let's find out!

Review: This Pinot has a deep ruby color and a nose of stewed red plums, rose petals, and sweet green herbs. The palate is dry (but with a tiny hint of sweetness), with moderate acid and soft tannins. The plum notes from the nose are pumped up and joined by sweet oak notes of vanilla and clove. The finish is medium in length. 

Food Pairing:  Roasted eggplant and walnuts!

Bottom Line:  I find this wine a little flat -- the fruit too ripe, the acidity too low. That being said, it's pretty tasty. Not perfect, but I'm sure it would be a crowd pleaser.



Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2013
  • PLACE: Negev, Israel
  • GRAPES: Pinot Noir
  • BOOZE: 13%
  • CELLAR: Drink now through 2016

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

Monday, September 21, 2015

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Quinta de Paços "Casa de Paços" Vinho Verde Rosé

Quinta de Paços "Casa de Paços" Vinho Verde Rosé 2014

Minho, Portugal

Rosé season is nearly over. Sad day. But that means some retailers are putting their stock of rosés on sale. Happy day! I picked this beauty up at Astor Wines and Spirits for $7.50 -- including tax!

The Casa de Paços Vinho Verde is made from three native red Portugese grapes: Vinhão (also known as Sousão) is a highly acidic, thick skin grape that imparts a rich color; Borraçal (also known as Caiño Tinto) is a delicate, perfumed, tart grape; and Espadeiro, a red grape primarily grown in the Minho region and across the border in Spain. Remember Vinho Verde mean green wine -- as in young wine -- and has no bearing on the wine's color!

Review: This Vinho Verde rose has a rich ruby-pink hue and aromas ripe red berries and sage. It's dry with bright acidity, a light body, and flavors of candied cherry and cranberry, and a hint of green herbs. The finish short and easy.

Food Pairing: I had this on the patio as an aperitif!

Bottom Line: A tasty little end of summer treat!

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2014
  • PLACE: Vinho Verde DOC (Denominação de Origem Controlada)
  • GRAPES: Vinhão, Borraçal, Espadeiro
  • BOOZE: 11%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

Where did I get it? Astor Wines and Spirits
What's the damage? Low Price

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Joseph Mellot La Graveliere Sancerre

Joseph Mellot La Graveliere Sancerre 2012
Loire Valley, France

Another Kosher wine! This time, we go to the Loire for a bright Sancerre. I'm particularly excited for Joseph Mellot because this wine is simply Kosher -- not Mevushal. This means that it hasn't been boiled (and that observant Jews would not be able to drink it if I served it). Luckily it's just me (a non-observant Jew) and the Catholic spouse for dinner.

A bit about the winemakers... The Mellot family has been making wine in Sancerre since the early 1500's. Like Domaine Hippolyte, the estate is well entrenched in sustainable practices and terrior driven wines. The La Graveliere is made from grapes grown primarily on clay and limestone. The grapes as fully destemmed (which I like in my Sauv Blanc to reduce phenolic bitterness) and fermented in stainless steel.

Review: This wine is a pale lemon color with aromas of jasmine, green pears, and lemon flesh. The palate is bone dry with bright acidity and a soft mouth feel. It has flavors of lemon custard, green melon, passion fruit, steely minerals, and sweet green herb. The slate and citrus linger for a generous finish. 
Food Pairing: That herbaceous tone goes beautifully with braised chicken and fennel!  

Bottom Line: Perfect layering of flavors and bright acid. It comes just barely premium priced ($31) and worth every penny. Delicious


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2012
  • PLACE: Sancerre AOC  (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée)
  • GRAPE: Sauvignon Blanc
  • BOOZE: 12.5% 
  • CELLAR: Drink through 2020

Where did I get it? Wegman's
What's the damage? High Price

Monday, September 14, 2015

Modest Monday - Wines Under $10: Herzog Wine Cellars Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc

Herzog Wine Cellars Baron Herzog Chenin Blanc 2014
Clarksburg, California

It is time for Modest Monday: Kosher edition!

Yesterday was the start of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, and I've been popping some Kosher bottles!

Tonight I bring you a little tasty white wine from California. The Baron Herzog line, named for an family ancestor, Philip, who made wine in Slovakia for the member of the Austro-Hungarian court back in the day, is an entry level offering by the winery.

The grapes are sourced from Clarksburg in the northern stretch of California's Central Valley. Cooling fog and breezes from the San Francisco Bay help to keep Clarksburg more temperate than other parts of the valley.

Review: This Chenin shows white flowers and sweet candied peaches on the nose.  It is a bit off dry on the palate, with more sweet stone fruit, orange blossom, and a touch of spicy ginger. The wine has a relatively low level of acidity, giving it a waxy, mouthcoating texture. The finish is medium in length, reminding me of canned peaches in syrup. 

Food Pairing: Serve with lighter fare during your first course, or as an aperitif.

Bottom Line: I wish the Baron had a bit more acidity to liven up the feel of the wine, but the flavors are solid and fruity. Not my first pick for a Chenin (I'm a sucker for Loire Chenin), but likely a crowd pleaser at $9.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2014
  • PLACE: Clarksburg AVA (American Viticultural Area)
  • GRAPE: Chenin Blanc
  • BOOZE: 12%
  • CELLAR: Drink now

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

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Golan Heights Winery Yarden Merlot

Golan Heights Winery Yarden Merlot 2008
Galilee, Israel

Shana Tova to all! As promised, here is the first of several review of Kosher wines. For a refresher, you can see this post on what makes a wine Kosher.

Golan Heights Winery makes a fantastic array of terrior driven wines, with the Yarden line as their flagship. The Yarden Merlot is made in the Galilee appellation of Northern Israel. This cool region is widely considered the highest quality wine region within the country.

Review: The Yarden Merlot is a gorgeous garnet color, showing its age around the meniscus. It is intensely aromatic with notes of dried black currant, bittersweet cocoa powder, and roasted hazelnuts. On the palate it is dry, with talc-like, resolved tannin, and spirity alcohol (15%!). Most of the fruit has fallen from the wine, marking the wine's maturity with notes of forest floor, cedar, and sweet pipe tobacco. Toasty oak and nutty flavors of charred wood, vanilla, and coffee are also present. The wine has persistent finish. 

Food Pairing:  Perfect with a rich brisket. 

Bottom Line:  This is a fantastic wine, albeit at the end of its drinking window. It has layers upon layer of flavor, and a soft rounded texture. I highly recommend!


Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2008
  • PLACE: Galilee, Israel
  • GRAPES: Merlot
  • BOOZE: 15%
  • AGEING: 14 months French Oak
  • CELLAR: Drink now -- at the end of the drinking window

Where did I get it? Wegman's
What's the damage? High Priced

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Jolie-Pitt & Perrin Côte de Provence Rosé Miraval

Jolie-Pitt & Perrin Côte de Provence Rosé Miraval 2014
Provence, France

It may be after Labor Day, but it's never too late to drink a tasty rosé! I've had the Brangelina rosé in my cellar for a few months and finally got around to trying it. To be honest, I bought this simply because it was the Brangelina wine. I figured that given the partnership with Famille Perrin -- brilliant winemakers of all things Rhone -- it would at the very least be well made, if not pretty yummy. It certainly didn't disappoint!

Review: The Miraval is a pale salmon color, with a softly aromatic nose of dried raspberries and orange blossom. On the palate, it is dry with a round body, and bright acid. Flavors of mandarin, ripe juicy raspberries, violets, and wild herb are complemented by a mineral undertone. The finish is medium in length.

Food Pairing: Great with sweet seared scallops and fresh greens. 

Bottom Line: Absolutely lovely. This wine is well balanced, showing bright acidity, a round mouthfeel, and complexity of fruit, mineral, herbal, and floral notes. A winner in my book, and worth the $24 price tag.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2014
  • PLACE: Côtes de Provence AOP (Appellation d'Origine Protégée)
  • GRAPES: Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle
  • BOOZE: 13%
  • CELLAR: Drink Now through 2015
Where did I get it? Total Wine
What's the damage? High Priced

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Non-Reviewing Post: Kosher Wine!

Non-Reviewing Post: Kosher Wine!

Dear Readers,

With Rosh Hashana just around the corner, I noticed that I've been neglecting the category of Kosher wines in my reviews. I have told you about a few (a so-so Malbec and a fantastic sparkling), but there is a whole world of Kosher wine out there. I've collected seven that I'll be telling you about in coming weeks.

Wines to come!

So, what makes a wine Kosher? The requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • After the harvest all grapes and wine making materials must be handled only by observant male Orthodox Jews. 
  • All products used in the winemaking must be Kosher. This means that no non-Kosher animal fining agents, like gelatin or milk byproducts, may be used. Egg whites are okay!
  • Production must take place on equipment used only for Kosher wine making and be under the supervision of a Rabbi. 
Taking it one step further, a wine may also be classified as Mevushal -- literally translated as "boiled wine". This flash pasteurization allows for the wine to be handed by non-Jews (or nonobservant Jews like me) and still remain Kosher after opening. Generally speaking, boiling your wine is not going to help it taste great or age well. Lucky for us, pasteurization technology has greatly improved and become more gentle. 

Kosher wine can be made out of any grape, at any sweetness level. There's no requirement for it be that super sweet "kiddush" (sacramental) wine that may come to mind. The world of Kosher wine includes some pretty solid table wines. I can't wait to explore! While I keep you in suspense, I will leave you with my mini review of Manischewitz Concord wine!


Manischewitz Concord Grape
Canandaigua, New York

Review: This wine is quite simple. It is sweet and grapey, with a solid foxy note. It lacks acidity that would give the wine some brightness, so it's pretty flat.

Food Pairing: communion wafer? 

Bottom Line: Sweet. And flat. 

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non-Vintage
  • PLACE: Canandaigua, New York
  • GRAPE: Concord Grape
  • BOOZE: 11% 
Where did I get it? Harris Teeter
What's the damage? Low Price

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon

Cousiño Macul Antiguas Reservas Cabernet Sauvignon 2011
Maipo Valley, Chile

So, I missed International Cabernet Day, but better late than never. If you haven't explored the delicious world of Chilean Cabernet (and even if you have), the Antiguas Reservas was a great place to start!

Review: This ruby colored Cabernet has bright aromas of red cherries and plum, black currant and bramble, and a lovely note of wet earth and smoke. The palate is dry, with moderate acidity and ripe, fine grained tannin. Ripe black fruits are joined by more savory flavors of earth, dried thyme, and fennel. The toast, bittersweet cocoa, and clove of the barrel compliment the fruit and earth. The finish is medium in length. 

Food Pairing: The herbal and smoky notes in this Cab make it a good pair for grilled steak and veggies.

Bottom Line: I enjoyed the complexity of this wine (fruit, spice, earth, toast), and its supple texture. Very approachable and smooth.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: 2011
  • PLACE: Maipo Valley, Chile
  • GRAPE: Cabernet Sauvignon
  • AGEING: French Oak barrels
  • BOOZE: 14% 
  • CELLAR: Drink now through 2019

Where did I get it? MacArthur Beverages
What's the damage? Mid Priced