Posts tagged ‘cabernet franc’

Northwest Totem Cellars – “Ice & Nice”

 

 

When bad things happen to good wine.

 

This is based on samples provided by the winery.

 

 

totem cellars propertybb

 

 nwtc_logo

 “Enjoy our glass closure

Cut foil & give it a thumbs up”

 

 

 

Northwest Totem Cellars –  A name that pays respect to a life and people that once depended on, respected and revered their environment and the living world.  We and our children are committed ambassadors to this living world.  Our commitment to compassion runs broadly across many constituents; people, planet and, never to be overlooked, all other non-human living beings who share our world.  Our reverence for life securely encompasses the animals of our planet.  We share a view that they are their own communities, like that of our native ancestors, like us today.  They are their own nations.  The totem is our connection to life; old and new, human and non-human.

 

Tucked away on a private property, we are a small, family-owned winery producing hand-crafted wines in the heart of Woodinville Wine Country.  We share our love of wine and community with some of the best wineries in WashingtonState.  We’re proud to be a part of a growing wine region that is the most rapidly-increasing wine tasting area in the world!

 

The words “personal” and “warm” will define your experience at Northwest Totem Cellars.  As you walk through the front door, you realize this tasting experience will be one of your most memorable.  Pouring our wines from the “kitchen” private tasting room, Mike Sharadin, our winemaker, barrel washer, one-man show et al, will enlighten you on Washington wines, our own voyage as a small producer and will share with you the passion that has fueled our love of the grape.

 

Thank you for your interest in Northwest Totem Cellars.  We hope to meet you soon in the kitchen!

 

 

Much more information as well as links to purchase wine is available on their website.

 

 

 

My Information

Northwest Totem Cellars is a new winery for me.  I met the owner/winemaker, Mike Sharadin, on Twitter a couple years ago.  Even though he is a Philadelphia Flyers and Dallas Cowboys fan, which usually makes a person the “low man on the totem pole” to someone from Pittsburgh, we “tweeted” quite a bit.

 

As a fan of the wines coming out of the Pacific Northwest and Washington in particular, I became more intrigued and interested in learning more about Northwest Totem Cellars.  When Mike offered to send me a few samples to try, I jumped at the opportunity.

 

Mike sent me a few samples but a severe frigid spell and a weekend stop in the Dakotas or Northern Minnesota caused the wine to freeze.  When I received the bottles, a couple days later, they were still VERY cold and sweating.  On one bottle, the glass stopper had pushed through the capsule and was leaking.  Mike graciously offered to replace the “wine sickles” with good bottles once the weather cooperated.

 

This lead to the decision to do an “Ice and Nice” tasting.  I would open a pristine bottle from the second shipment and the frozen counterpart from the first shipment.  This would allow a review of the good bottle and a comparison to the changes that occur to wine when it freezes.

 

 

The lineup, first the “Nice”:

NW Totem2

 

 

And the “Ice”:

NW Totem3

 

 

I like the fact the winery uses glass stoppers on their bottles.  To me, this is a fantastic alternative to cork and much classier than the “twist off” options.  I won’t even bring up the synthetic cork options which I despise.

Bottle and glass

 

 

2008 Northwest Totem Cellars Cabernet Franc (SRP $35)

 

ColumbiaValley

14.2% ABV

 

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby red color, lighter at the edge.  The very nice and open nose has cassis, Asian spices, minerals, black cherries, dried herbs, leather, tobacco, vanilla, and a touch of cedar.  This has medium body, fairly solid tannins, and very good acidity.  The palate has nice spicy fruit and vanilla with dried herbs providing considerable depth.  The finish is fairly long with the fruit, minerals, and dried herbs lingering nicely before a touch of dark chocolate closes the show.  This is a very nice, young, Cabernet Franc that will reward some time in the cellar.  This won’t be confused with a wine from California, which sets it in a very nice class.  This could turn into something special in a couple of years.  (93 pts)

 

Frozen Bottle:  The nose was very muted and shy with berries, dried herbs, and smoke.  The palate lacks any richness or depth and is hollow and very soft.  The finish is very short with very little fruit, mainly just toasty oak and dried herbs.  The wine has no obvious flaws but the fruit is virtually non-existent.

Cab Franc

 

 

 

2009 Northwest Totem Cellars Low Man (SRP $35)

 

Columbia Valley

74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 19% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot

14% ABV

 

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a nice deep ruby red color.  The enticing nose has blackberries, cherries, warm baking spices, leather, white pepper, minerals, violets, vanilla, dried herbs, and just a touch of cedar.  This has medium body, fairly solid, ripe tannins, and good acidity.  This wine is delicious on the palate.  Nice berries and cherries start the show but are quickly joined with sweet vanilla, spices, and a touch of dried herbs.  The finish is long and nuanced with layers of fruit and savory notes finally giving way to a nice closing note of dried herbs and cherry.  For a very young Bordeaux blend it is stunning, with perfect balance.  I’m sure this will be better with some cellar time, but it will be hard to resist.  (95 pts)

 

Frozen bottle:  The very shy nose has black cherry, dried dill, toasty oak, and dry straw.  The palate has a quick hit of cherry but it is quickly overwhelmed by dried herbs and toasty oak.  This has very soft acidity and the tannins are also very soft and don’t stick around to add any body or structure.  The fruit disappears quickly on the finish leaving toasty oak and dried herbs.

Low Man

 

 

 

2008 Northwest Totem Cellars Merlot (SRP $35)

 

(Note:  I didn’t have a good sample of this wine for comparison, so only the unrated frozen sample is detailed)

 

The wine is a shade darker than ruby red.  The nose has cherries, cedar, tobacco, and a touch of smoke.  Again, very soft with little to no acidity or tannins to give any support.  On the palate, a brief hit of sweet cherry is quickly over taken by oak.  The short finish features a mouth full of spicy oak with nothing holding the wine together.

Merlot

 

 

Day 2:

The next day, the good bottles were even better, more integrated and expressive than on the first day.  The previously frozen bottles were nothing more than red oak juice with a hint of fruit on the nose.

 

 

 

Ice and Nice Conclusion:

It’s scary that there were no perceivable flaws with the bottles that had frozen during shipping.  These bottles “looked” pristine, I only knew they had frozen because they were very cold and sweating when I picked them up.  One bottle in the shipment had frozen enough that the glass stopper had pushed through the capsule and was leaking.

 

It’s generally pretty easy to note cooked/stewed fruit on a bottle of wine that was submitted to extreme heat, but extreme cold is much harder to notice.

 

A less than above board retailer could have put these bottles on their shelf and the winery could have potentially lost future business because of these damaged bottles of wine.

 

 

 

 

***** Shameless Self Promotion *****

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of me getting “coal” from Santa for being named the “Nicest Person in Social Media” in 2012.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOvQTeGR3-c

 

 

 

Breaking news from Klout:

Klout

 

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Oct 29, 2012 to Nov 1, 2012

 

 

This post will be shorter than usual since I spent two days this week sampling some wines for my previously posted blog on some Robert Mondavi Private Selection wines.  If these every day wines interest you, please check out that post.

 

 

 

2009 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec – $16.14

 

My comments

I knew I’d be facing potentially severe weather this week since I had a business trip to Virginia and everyone knew the Frankenstorm was headed this way.  I decided I wanted to bring a couple of fuller bodied red wines to keep me company in the hotel room in the evening.  I grabbed three bottles of this wine when the local store had a sale of the WS Top 100 wines, this was #58 on the 2011 list.  With a suggested retail price of $24, and a community average price of over $20, I felt I got a good deal.  The only way to know if you got a good deal though, is to drink the wine.  Tonight I’ll find out how good of a deal this was.

 

Winery history

It is part of our family’s folklore that our forefather Nicola Catena, who sailed from Italy to Argentina in 1898, celebrated leaving the famine in Europe for this plentiful new land by eating a piece of virtually raw steak for breakfast each morning. Best described as a tireless optimist, he firmly believed that he had found the promised land in Mendoza, where he planted his first Malbec vineyard in 1902. Malbec had been a blending grape in Bordeaux. But Nicola suspected it would find its hidden splendour in the Argentine Andes. Domingo, his son, inherited that dream and took the family winery to the next level, becoming one of the largest vineyard holders in Mendoza.

 

By the 1960s, however, Familia Catena was struggling. The Argentine economy was in shambles and inflation rates were soaring. One year, Domingo realized that it would cost him more to harvest than to leave the fruit on the vines. He asked his twenty-two year old son Nicolás, a recent PhD graduate in economics, what to do about such a dilemma. Nicolás advised him not to harvest. Domingo could not follow his son’s advice with a clear conscience and picked anyway. Nicolás still remembers the sadness he felt for his father that year.

Much more information available at:  http://www.catenawines.com/eng/family.html

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly dark purple color.  The nose is dark and brooding with earthy blackberries, dark chocolate, vanilla, raspberries, eucalyptus, minerals, spice box, and lavender.  This is medium to full bodied with fairly solid tannins and very nice acidity.  The palate is much brighter than the nose indicated with the fruit leaning more towards the cherry to raspberry side of the fruit spectrum.  There are nice spices and some dried herbs as well and earthy elements and dark chocolate.  The finish has decent length and shows a touch of excess oak.  This would be perfect with a hearty week night dinner on a cold evening or just sipping in front of a fire place.  (89 pts)

 

 

 

2008 Treasure Hunter Wines Cabernet Franc Catch 22 Alexander Valley – $17.81

 

My comments

As I’ve mentioned here every time I open a bottle, generally the Treasure Hunter line of wines represent outstanding value.  My local wine store has to be one of the bigger sellers of the Treasure Hunter wines in the country.  It seems like they get just about everything they release.  Treasure Hunter isn’t really a winery, more of a wine business.  They buy excess grapes/juice/wine and sell it as is or blend different lots to create their wines.  These are generally very good to outstanding wines that sell for prices well below their level or quality.

 

I love the Cabernet Franc grape.  At its best it has nice dark berry fruit with some cherry and dried herbs.  If the grapes are over cropped and picked before fully ripe, the dried herbs become the much less pleasing green herbal elements.

 

Winery history

Treasure Hunter is a label under the 3 Finger Wine Company family of wines.

 

Each Treasure Hunter wine goes through a pain-staking process of examination from our panel of nine called The De-Vine Nine. Made up of top sommeliers, winemakers and restaurateurs, they are the best of the best and they pour through hundreds of wines before they are deemed worthy.

Each wine is a small one-time offering and represents an extraordinary opportunity to drink seminal wines of great importance.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep maroon color.  The very interesting and inviting nose has blackberries, dried herbs, licorice, black cherry, baking spices, cigar tobacco, dark chocolate, cedar, and some violets.  This has medium body with fairly solid tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the wine shows a fair amount of upfront berries and black cherry with dried herbs and spices, slowly a nice hit of dark chocolate creeps in on the backend.  The finish has decent length and leans more toward the dried herbs and dark chocolate with the fruit playing more of a supporting role in the background.  This is a fantastic, young wine for under $20.  I’m going to try and hold off opening another for a few months, but it will be tough.  (92 pts)

 

 

Mailing Lists

 

Turley Wine Cellars

I received a very friendly allocation of the new 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon being released by the winery.  The price, $40, seemed to be very consumer friendly.  The grapes are all from Turley’s Estate Vineyard in St. Helena.  I will be buying a few bottles but won’t be taking my entire over generous allocation.  If you are not on the list but would like to check out the wine, this may be a good time to sign up.

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

Oct 1, 2012 to Oct 4, 2012

 

 

 

2005 Lyrique Syrah Watch Hill Vineyard Santa Barbara County – $17.25

 

My comments

This was a find via Garagiste a few years ago.  Unfortunately the couple bottles I had disappeared fairly fast.  It looks like the winery is no longer around, since I can’t find any bottles from them on Cellar Tracker later than 2007.  Based on this wine, the winery seemed to have a bright future.  Luckily, I was able to find a few more bottles a year ago via Wine Bid.

 

Winery history

Adding to my presumption that the winery is no longer in business, their website no longer exists.

 

Here’s a bit of Jon Rimmerman’s spiel from his Garagiste Offering:

The winery’s motto pretty much says it all: “Lyrique is a family owned company dedicated to fine wine, great music, and good friends”. Lyrique is the result of a vision to make the finest Syrah in the United States – to take what the climate provides (impact with high sugar and extract ratios) and to allow the wine to express itself without over-doing any one element (in a similar way to 2004/2005 Mount Langi Blue Label). They only make one wine at Lyrique (this one) and the fruit is from a superb little source in the Watch Hill vineyard. The result of this first release was so successful they’ve gone to the trouble of commissioning Susan Dysinger to produce a one-off print for the label (entitled “Speckled Red”) to make it extra-special.

 

The 2005 Lyrique is full of electricity, excitement, and eurhythmic structure (not Annie Lenox, the actual word) and it intrigues from the first sniff. Believe me, I was skeptical about this as my snobby anti-California reputation was at stake but I just couldn’t help being seduced by its cashmere charms. The above referenced spice-toned aromatics grab the taster with a pure, bright red varietal nature that is not the norm in Syrah from this area. While certainly extracted and large-scaled, it is also refined, promising and discreet as only the best wines are. Charles Atlas meets Twiggy? In the best sense of course.

 

From the Winery: “Lyrique has a wonderful, velvety mouthfeel. It has the blackberry and cassis fruitiness characteristic of Syrah, with a hint of dark chocolate, espresso and a long white pepper finish. This is a smooth, concentrated wine that has the chops to balance out the oak and alcohol” – I couldn’t have said it better.

 

My Tasting Note

This is a deep, dark maroon color.  The wine has an intense nose with crushed berries, smoked meat, dark chocolate, dying charcoal embers, pepper, melted licorice, with some scorched earth and a floral in the background.  This is fairly full bodied with ripe, integrated tannins and nice acidity.  This is big, ripe, and rich on the palate with the spicy, smoked meat and juicy berries melding into a delicious and satisfying mouthful of pleasure.  The wine has a fairly long finish leaning heavily on the berries and dark chocolate.  This is delicious stuff.  Absolutely no rough edges.  This won’t improve with additional cellar time, but should hold for another year or two.  (93 pts)

 

 

 

2007 Calistoga Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon – $14.99

 

My comments

I don’t remember buying this bottle, but it some how found its way into my wine cellar.  We’re enjoying one of the last few nice days before our weather takes a turn for the worse. We’ll be firing up the grill and having juicy cheeseburgers for dinner, sounds like a perfect time to give this one a shot.

 

Winery history

In July 1996, Roger Louer and several of his best friends bought 11 acres of vineyards in NapaValley, near Calistoga, along with the Blossom Creek Cottage. Originally, there was no plan to create a winery. But after a few years of selling grapes to some of Napa’s top wineries, they decided to take the plunge into the winemaking world.

 

Roger writes: “Friends from around the Country would come visit my wife and me, stay in the Blossom Creek cottage, and begin to become emotionally invested in what we were doing. So I thought, why not invite our friends to become part of the winemaking process, and make them partial owners?

 

Sharing that process with our friends has been the key to our success. With partners all over the country, we have ambassadors in many major US markets. They help gain recognition for the brand by introducing it to their favorite retailers, restaurants, and distributors in their own backyards. This grass roots approach has been crucial to our growth, since national marketing on this level is often too exhausting or expensive for young wineries.”

 

In 1995, the Blossom Creek Cottage was featured in the Hollywood romantic comedy “Nine Months” with Hugh Grant and Julianne Moore. The Blossom Creek Cottage has become the soul of Calistoga Cellars, where the partners gather several times a year to share ideas, wine, and meals while overlooking their vineyard.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a shade or two darker than ruby in color.  This has cassis, tobacco, dried herbs, leather, plum, and a bit of cherry on the very nice nose.  The wine has medium body with ripe, integrated tannins and nice acidity.  On the palate the wine has nice cassis and dried herbs with a touch of spicy oak adding depth.  Decent length on the finish with again shows the cassis and spicy oak.  A pretty nice week night cab with grilled burgers, but not one to pull out with a great steak.  Drink over the next year or two.  (88 pts)

 

 

 

2009 Loring Wine Company Pinot Noir Santa Rita Hills – $24.00

 

My comments

In my opinion, the Loring appellation wines are some of the best bargains out there when it comes to quality California Pinot Noir.  The Loring appellation wines are, at least to me, dialed down a notch compared to their single vineyard siblings.  This and the lower prices, under $25 make them a nice way to kick up a week night dinner several notches without breaking the bank.

 

Winery history

My philosophy on making wine is that the fruit is EVERYTHING. What happens in the vineyard determines the quality of the wine – I can’t make it better – I can only screw it up! That’s why I’m extremely picky when choosing vineyards to buy grapes from. Not only am I looking for the right soil, micro-climate, and clones, I’m also looking for a grower with the same passion and dedication to producing great wine that I have. In other words, a total Pinot Freak! My part in the vineyard equation is to throw heaping piles of money at the vineyard owners (so that they can limit yields and still make a profit) and then stay out of the way! Since most, if not all of the growers keep some fruit to make their own wine, I tell them to farm my acre(s) the same way they do theirs – since they’ll obviously be doing whatever is necessary to get the best possible fruit. One of the most important decisions made in the vineyard is when to pick. Some people go by the numbers (brix, pH, TA, etc) and some go by taste. Once again, I trust the decision to the vineyard people. The day they pick the fruit for their wine is the day I’m there with a truck to pick mine. Given this approach, the wine that I produce is as much a reflection of the vineyard owner as it is of my winemaking skills. I figure that I’m extending the concept of terroir a bit to include the vineyard owner/manager… but it seems to make sense to me. The added benefit is that I’ll be producing a wide variety of Pinots. It’d be boring if everything I made tasted the same.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby color, but not so saturated that it is opaque.  The very sexy and open nose has raspberries, black cherries, cola, baking spices, vanilla, smoke, wild flowers, and a bit of white pepper, earthiness, and an herbal note.  This has a medium body and very nice acidity.  On the palate the wine shows juicy, spicy berries, and just a hint of an herbal element that adds to the taste in a positive way.  On the fairly long finish the juicy berries pick up a touch of white pepper.  This is an very good wine and a great value for under $25.  (91 pts)

 

 

 

2002 Graeser Cabernet Franc Estate Grown Diamond Mountain – $27.00

 

My comments

This winery used to be one of our favorite stops when we made it to wine country.  The winery was a small complex just off of Petrified Forest Road just west of Calistoga.  Unfortunately, the winery went through some financial troubles a few years back and went out of business.  To me, they made some of the best Cabernet Franc in the valley.

 

Winery history

Like I stated above, the winery went out of business a couple of years ago.  Now that some of the dust and fallout has settled, I’ve heard from the owner that he’s going to attempt to get back into the business, at least in a small way.  I paid for a case of his 2007 Cabernet Franc in 2009 and have not received it yet, so he doesn’t have my support.  I should add that supposedly, he pulled a case of the wine from his personal stash and it should ship to me in a little over a week.  If I do in fact receive the wine, my harsh judgment of the winery may soften, but I will not be placing any case orders.

 

My Tasting Note

The wine is a deep ruby color.  The wine has cassis, dried herbs, violets, minerals, tobacco, licorice, and a touch of cedar on the very elegant nose.  This is medium body with a nice tannic backbone and very good acidity.  On the palate the wine has berries with a real nice overlay of dried herbs and just a touch of spicy oak.  Fairly long finish with the berries and dried herbs lingering nicely.  This still tastes like a youngster so I’m in no hurry to open my remaining bottles.  (92 pts)

 

 

 

Mailing Lists

 

 

Rudius

I’ve been on the Rudius mailing list since the beginning.  Rudius is Jeff and Brittany Ames.  Jeff’s name may not ring a bell, but here’s a bit of his bio:

In 2001 Jeff became Thomas Brown’s assistant winemaker at brands including Schrader, Maybach, Outpost, and Tor.  Two years later, Jeff was named the head winemaker at Tor, a position he still commands.   Rudius is the culmination of Jeff’s goal of owning his own wine brand.

 

I have purchased a fair amount of Jeff’s wines and every one that I have opened has been outstanding.  I have had several of his cabernets and wines made by the Rhone varietals.  I highly recommend the Rudius mailing list.  More information about Jeff and Brittany, Rudius, and most importantly a link to join the mailing list is available on their site.  Visit http://www.rudiuswines.com/

 

 

Loring Wine Company

I’ve been on the Loring mailing list for several years.  This is one of the lists that I always buy from without hesitation.  The best part of the Loring list is that they offer a few of their wines each release in 375ml, “half bottles”.  These are perfect for us, allowing my wife to have a “tasty Pinot” when I am traveling.  These are also perfect for us to have just one glass each in the evening when the urge hits us.

 

 

Herman Story

I’m not on the Herman Story mailing list, but a friend who is on the list shares some of his allocation with me.  These are big, ripe, bold wines and every once in a while that’s what I get in the mood for.  These wines aren’t for Francophiles.  If my friend wasn’t on the list, I’d join.  If you like that style of wine as much as I do, I highly recommend checking them out, perhaps you can get something from the just released offerings.  Visit http://hermanstorywines.com/ for more information.

 

 

Wines bought or received this week

(3) 2011 Loring Pinot Noir Rosella’s Vineyard for $48 a bottle from the winery

(6) 2011 Loring Pinot Noir Garys’ Vineyard(375ml) for $25 a bottle from the winery

(3) 2011 Loring Pinot Noir Keefer Ranch Vineyard(375ml) for $25 a bottle from the winery

 

 

 

Remember to support your local wine store!

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

 

 

Cheers!

 

August 6, 2012 to August 9, 2012

 

2007 Cosentino Winery Cabernet Franc – $9.49

I used to be a big fan of Cosentino Winery but they fell on hard financial times a couple years ago and the winery and name changed hands.  I haven’t had a chance to try their newer releases so I can’t state an opinion of how the new Cosentino is doing.  I hope they are either back on track or at least headed in the right direction.  This was purchased on a blow out sale from my local wine store while the winery/distributor were sorting out their problems.

The wine was decanted for about an hour.  This is a deep ruby color, much lighter at the rim.  On the very nice nose there are blackberries, dried herbs, cedar, licorice, dark chocolate, and some cherry.  The wine has medium body with soft, ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  Nice fruit and dried herbs on the palate with some spicy oak in the background.  Decent length on the finish where the fruit fades fairly quickly but the dried herbs and spicy oak linger for a bit.  This is a nice Cabernet Franc that was an absolute steal at under $10, making it a perfect week night wine.  Not one to age too long, but no big hurry.  (88 pts)

 

 

2006 Carlisle Zinfandel Sonoma County – $16.00

Has there ever been a better $16.00 Zinfandel produced by a major California winery?  Wines like this, at this price point, are the main reason no one drops off of the Carlisle mailing list.  I’ve had this wine several times over the last few years and it has never disappointed.  I’d recommend getting on the mailing list but it is full.  I’m sure the waiting list is even longer since Mike Officer, the owner/winemaker, isn’t going to be increasing his production enough to supply everyone.  Like I stated earlier, very few people drop off of the mailing list allowing new people to join the fun.

This is a deep, dark, opaque ruby to purple color.  Enticing nose with brambly berries, vanilla, black pepper, scorched earth, dark chocolate, melted licorice, a faint floral note, and some eucalyptus.  Fairly full bodied with nice, integrated, ripe tannins and good acidity.  Big, ripe, and mouth filling flavors coat the palate.  The spicy, peppery berries lead the way with vanilla and a bit of oak; some dark chocolate comes in on the back end providing additional depth.  The wine has very nice length on the finish with the peppery berries, chocolate, and some earthy elements lingering.  This is an incredible value at $16, without a doubt one of the best under $20 zinfandels out there.  (93 pts)

 

 

2010 Bedrock Wine Co. Sauvignon Blanc Kick Ranch – $22.00

I’m going to open a bottle of Bedrock wine to celebrate the arrival of their latest e-mail offering.  I haven’t had one of these in almost a year.  I really liked my previous bottles, rating it 91 pts.  It’s looking like a good day for dinner on the deck, which would be perfect with this wine.  I’ll have to see how this pairs with some seared scallops, but I have high expectations.

A light golden straw color.  Apples, lemon zest, peach, fresh cut grass, flinty minerality, grapefruit, and some baking spices on the fresh and clean nose.  Light to medium body with tart, mouthwatering acidity.  Big citrus and herbal elements on the palate.  White fruit and a bit of peach give way to a load of citrus with the herbal notes and minerals coming in on the back end.  Long, lingering finish with the citrus and herbal notes.  An outstanding California Sauvignon Blanc.  (92 pts)

This paired very nicely with a dinner of large seared scallops, with raw, fresh carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, celery, and cherry tomatoes with a spicy, Creole dipping sauce.

 

 

2008 Frimaio Chianti Classico – $18.99

After several weeks of dry weather with above normal temperatures, today is cold and wet.  Light rain and an afternoon temperature of only 62 makes me think of pasta for dinner.  We made a large batch of baked ziti in the Spring and froze some for quick and easy dinners.  Today feels like a baked ziti and garlic bread type of day.  Off to Cellar Tracker to find a nice Italian wine to pair with the ziti.  I chose this wine since I haven’t had one in several months and we had liked it the last time we had a bottle.

Deep ruby to maroon color.  There are cherries, wet earth, raspberries, licorice, dried herbs, blackberries, and a slight floral note on the very fragrant nose.  The wine has medium body with ripe tannins and very nice acidity.  This is bigger and darker than most Chianti Classicos with nice, big fruit, spice, and earth on the palate.  Decent finish with the fruit and tart acidity balancing very nicely, just wish it was a bit longer.  Overall, not your usual lighter bodied sangiovese, but still with the acidity to pair up with a nice meat sauce.  (89 pts)

I bought his during a close out sale at the local wine store, and feel like it was a good bargain for south of $20.  This won’t be mistaken for a high end Chianti Classico, but is perfectly acceptable for a Thursday night dinner.

 

Here’s what dinner looked like, it tasted fantastic.  We generally make a very large batch  of the baked ziti and cut it into 4″ x 4″ cubes once it cools down.  We wrap each chunk individually and freeze them for quick weeknight dinners.  The garlic bread sticks are a store bought, frozen brand we like.  I doctor them up by adding a bit of real butter, garlic powder, and fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

 

 

Quick Question

Do you have a preferred publication or website to help find information on a new wine or a wine you see mentioned on a website?  Parker’s Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Tanzer’s IWC, RhoneReport, Pinot Report, etc.  I know we all value our own opinion the most, but I’m talking about a wine you’ve never tasted.  How do you decide to pull the trigger on an offer from a flash sale site, or large store’s e-mail offer?

Personally, my order would be in this sequence Steve Tanzer/Josh Raynolds, Jeb Dunnuck’s Rhone Report, Tim Fish from Wine Spectator, Greg Walter’s Pinot Report, a few Cellar Tracker users whose palates I trust, Robert Parker, then the rest.

 

Rants from Manfred Krankl of SQN

In his latest offer Manfred Krankl, offered up “5 Rants”, any opinions?  Agree or disagree with Manfred on these?  Some of these were fairly long winded and hard to distill down to a sentence or two.

1 – “Yes we are growing fruit in a very hot area, but we have such huge diurnal temperature swings that it balances out and that way we also preserve acidity.”  Do your think hot days and cool nights help make a good wine?  Manfred doesn’t think it does.

2 – ‘Old vines always make better wine than young vines.”  We all know “old vines” or “vieilles vignes” are meaningless, non-regulated terms but do you think wines made from wine from a “lazy-assed” grower and old vines are inherently going to be better than wines made from young vines grown by a “smart, caring, and industrious” grower?

3 – “Our soil is 600 million years old.”  This rant seems to run in a circle but seems to be pointed at a grower in Australia.  A closing comment related to finding a whale bone in the vineyard seems to point to a specific vineyard in Paso Robles.

4 – “Our vineyard is so great because we have such wonderfully well drained soils.”  Manfred feels that “well drained soil” is absolutely meaningless in California since most of the time they get ZERO rain from mid April through September and quite often through October or November.

5 – “Terroir”  This rant is very long winded and hard to paraphrase.  Manfred feels terroir is a term sometimes used to gloss over wine flaws or to highlight a wine without “a fingerprint of its maker.”

To me, most of these “rants” seem to point to a winemaker who makes wine from warm but not hot areas with young vines, in new, valley floor vineyards with the wine maker’s fingerprints all over the finished product, who doesn’t like other wineries getting scores that equal or surpass the ones they receive, and to justify high prices.

 

Bedrock Wine Co. Allocation

This is an outstanding winery and a real challenge.  I joined the mailing list go get Morgan’s big red wines but I’m finding myself being sucked in by his whites.  This is not a put down of the Zinfandel, Syrah, and “Heritage” reds but rather me giving them the credit they deserve with the class of their whites.  I’d love to grab my entire allocation, but I’m going to have to leave some on the table for anyone not offered something they want or for new people to join the list.

 

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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at www.cellartracker.com.  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.

 

Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.

 

All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.

 

Cheers!

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