South Coast Winery is more than a winery; it’s a wine tasting destination. Boasting 76 luxury villas, and award winning restaurant, luxury spa, 14,000 square feet of conference and meeting space, and 38 acres of surrounding vineyards, South Coast Winery is now on my must see destinations on my next visit to Southern California. The winery has been named the Golden Bear Winery of the Year recipient for 2008 and 2009.
South Coast Winery is more than a pretty destination; they produce a diverse selection of wines as well. With 72 wines, from various vintages, on their web site there is a wine for anyone. You can enjoy bubbles, hearty reds and dry or sweet whites. The 50,000 annual case production wines are crafted by winemakers Jon McPherson and Javier Flores. With a long list of awards, I was pretty excited to try these samples sent by their PR company. The press kit was impressive but the only thing it lacked was first class tickets to Temecula, CA with an all inclusive stay at their luxury spa and villa. I’m certain it was misplaced, I’ll keep my eye out for it.
The G is Grenache Blanc (44%), the V is Viognier (36%) and the R is Roussanne (20%). The Rhone blend boasts a beautiful thick angelic gold color in the glass. On the sniff I get an overwhelming aroma of melons and coconut. The wine was aged in French oak barrels adding to the flavor complexities. In the mouth there is a gentle flavor or melons, soft apple fruit, and citrus. This is a really dynamic wine that finishes with the invitation for another sip. I couldn’t find a price point on the web site but a web search reveals a $20 price point. I’m very intrigued by this wine and would love to try another bottle (the first one was emptied way to quickly). 3+/5
Cellar Tracker score of 89 points with 1 review
2006 South Coast Winery Meritage
Meritage in an invented word that combines ‘merit’ and ‘heritage’ (it’s pronounced like heritage). The Meritage Association hopes to create a class of American wines that is synonymous with Bordeaux. The 2006 SC Winery Meritage is a blend of 48% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot, 18% Cab Sauv, and 14% Cab Franc. In the glass the added Petit Verdot gives the wine a deep rich plum color. On the nose is a bright raspberry fruit with hints of evergreen tree, minerality, and roses. On the sip, the 06 Meritage is slightly disjointed presenting a tart under ripe fruit and flavors of herbs and earth. A moderate chalkiness presents itself on the finish along with the bright acidity. At $20 retail I would give this wine a try before committing to a large quantity. 3/5
Cellar Tracker score of 87 points with 1 review
Sparkling red wines are a rarity. Pop the cork on this wine at a party and you’re sure to have a conversation starter. 100% estate grown Syrah from South Coast Winery’s Estate Vineyard results in an off dry sparkler that boasts a thick head of bubbles and vivacious aromas of raspberry and flowers. In the mouth the wine is mostly dry with a great mid palate of fruit flavor. A slight tart acidity is balanced with a hint of sweetness on the finish. At $22 this is a fantastic purchase for any special occasion. Create a magical morning mixer by adding a little cranberry juice. Enjoy life and drink happy! 3+/5
30 Dec 2010
Folie à Deux, French for shared fantasies; I can think of a few shared fantasies I’d like to have, but they may be a little more than PG-13 for this blog. Folie à Deux is an Oakville California winery focused on creating wines that deliver a memorable shared experience. Many know Folie à Deux from their racier little sister label, Ménage à Trois (lower cost red and white blends). The Folie à Deux label offers varietal focused wines at a good price point.
- The Stuff: 100% Chardonnay from Napa Valley vineyards in Oak Knoll, Oakville, and Atlas Peak. 6 months on 65% new French and American oak. ½ the juice was fermented in stainless steel and ½ in small oak barrels. 14.2% ABV; 25,000 cases made.
- The Swirl: In the glass the wine presents a muted golden color.
- The Sniff: The Chardonnay features typical chardonnay characteristics of apple juice and buttered toast. Not a lot dynamic aromas here, but still very nice.
- The Sip: I really enjoyed the flavor profile on this wine. More is happening on the palate than on the nose. A soft apple flavor gives way to a gentle coconut and almond. There are also interwoven characteristics of citrus fruit. The finish provides a slightly disjointed burnt flavor and the acidity seems relatively mild.
- The Score: At $18 retail (typically $15 in stores), a lot of people will enjoy this wine. The flavor characteristics are typical of what chardonnay lovers enjoy. For me, I was mostly pleased with the structure but didn’t care for the finish of the wine. 3/5
Cellar Tracker score of 87 points with 2 reviews
- The Stuff: 86% Napa Valley Merlot and 14% Cabernet Sauvignon; 7 months of barrel aging in a combination of American and French oak; 14.5% ABV, 7,750 cases made
- The Swirl: A thin plum color defines the center of the wine but the edges are slightly watery.
- The Sniff: Pleasantly surprised by the pop of aroma on this Merlot. Very easily distinguishable as a smooth cherry and cocoa merlot. A nice hint of spice rounds out the nose.
- The Sip: The Folie a Duex Merlot has a soft initial attach but then opens up to a touch of sweet cherry on the mid palate. Good layers of flavor that evolve from cocoa to coffee and then a hint of spice on the finish. This is an easy drinking flavorful wine. The high alcohol slightly burns on the finish. At just $18 retail this is a great buy! 3+/5
Cellar Tracker score of 85 points with 2 reviews
- The Stuff: 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Syrah from Napa Valley vineyards. After fermentation the wine spent an additional 14 days on the skins (extended maceration) before being aged for 15 months in a combination of French and American oak; 14% ABV, 20,500 cases produced.
- The Swirl: In the glass the wine has an inky core with a cloudy plum color around the edges.
- The Sniff: Very muted nose with hints of dried plums and a very mellow cigar box aroma.
- The Sip: I expected more from this wine and maybe I am being too harsh on it but the aroma and flavor profile doesn’t seem overly complex. The wine offers a good initial flavor of plums but to me that’s all the wine has. The tannins are very well integrated making this a drink now, drink often wine.
- The Score: At $24 retail, I’m not too hot on this wine. Give it a go at the tasting room or sample a glass before committing to several bottles. For the money there are more interesting options for affordable Cabernet Sauvignon. 3/5
08 Dec 2010
A conundrum is a riddle in which a fanciful question is answered by a pun. Conundrum Winery offers a riddle of fanciful wine varietals to create a mysterious blend of delicious wine. For 20 years the Wagner family has been making Conundrum winery divulging only the use of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscat Canelli. The addition of Semillon and Viognier in small quantities adds to the mystery that is Conundrum wine.
The wine grapes are grown, harvested and produced independently to focus on the quality that comes naturally from the vineyard. Some of the wine undergoes oak, some does not. Five quality wines come together during blending to create Conundrum. Conundrum is owned by the Wagner family (Caymus Vineyards), but is a separate brand. Charlie Wagner and Jon Bolta share winemaking responsibilities and in 2007 production expanded into a state-of-the art winery in Monterey County close to the sources of the most grape varietals that make up the wine.
The Nectar View
2009 Conundrum White Wine
The Conundrum wine is a proprietary blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Canelli, Semillon, and Viognier. The wine has a moderate gold tone in the glass leaning more toward a golden wheat color. Immediately the floral and tropical aromas jump out of the glass causing me to think Viognier and Muscat Canelli. At first sniff, the thoughts of sweet syrup cross my mind but a subtle interwoven aroma of lemon and guava save the day. In the mouth the wine is slightly flabby but very full of flavor. The sweetness indicated on the nose is not overwhelming in the mouth. A hint of honey quickly gives way to smooth guava and butter. I would venture to guess that the predominate wines in this blend are Chardonnay (oaked), Muscat Canelli, and Semillon (also oaked). The white flowers definitely come from the Viognier. The wine lacks in a strong acidity which may lend itself more to a sipping wine than a food wine but the layers of flavor are very intriguing. Pair this with summer, bikinis, and some fresh shrimp fettuccini pasta or even a fresh cheese plate. The wine can be purchased for $17-$20. 3+/5
Check out these other food pairing suggestions
20 Oct 2010
Can a fermented beverage make a difference in the fight against something so life shattering as breast cancer? A key to battling the disease starts with awareness and campaigns like the ONEHOPE Wine campaign (and others like Cleavage Creek) bring awareness to top of mind. Early detection is a breast cancer victim’s greatest chance for survival. Whether it’s the millions spent by the NFL on pink cleats, gloves, and hats or the humorous FeelYourBoobies.com or SaveTheTatas.com, each has its place in helping to remind women of the dangers of breast cancer.
In 2010, nearly 210,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. One in eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime. Breast cancer shortens the lives of mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends more than any other disease aside from lung cancer. Here is the bright side. Because of awareness and education efforts, there are 2.5 MILLION breast cancer survivors in the U.S. What can you do to help? For starters, you can be a part of the awareness efforts by sharing the information in this post (or others similar to it). Education leads to awareness and awareness helps with early detection and successful treatment.
ONEHOPE Wine has teamed with Rob Mondavi Jr. to create a hand crafted wine that helps the cause. If you’re going to drink Chardonnay, why not drink the 2009 ONEHOPE Wine Chardonnay where 50% of the profits of every bottle sold goes to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation. ONEHOPE is striving to raise $100,000 in the month of October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month). How can you help? Buy it, drink it, share it!
Enter to Win a $50 Gift Card from ONEHOPE WINE
Help spread the word about ONEHOPE wine by sharing this post on your Facebook page or through the Twitter machines. Once you’ve done that, leave a comment of hope, support or your survival story and you’ll be registered to win. One winner will be selected on Wednesday, October 27. The most important part is to share this information, there is power in the collective voice, but if you don’t comment, you won’t be entered.
How is the wine? Check the video and the notes below for my review…
2009 ONEHOPE Wine Chardonnay
- The Stuff: The wine is sourced from various vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, and California’s Central Coast and includes small amounts of Muscat and Chenin Blanc. While specifics aren’t mentioned on the web site the Chardonnay spends some noticeable time on oak and feels like it went through 100% malolactic fermentation.
- The Swirl: A soft golden hue with visual reminders of wheat fields in the Palouse.
- The Sniff: The wine is immediately identifiable as an oaked Chardonnay with hints of toasted almonds, apples and melon. The aromas are soft but not quiet. There is a hint of fabric softener freshness as well.
- The Sip: Initially the wine comes across as a flabby apple butter glob in the mouth but immediately gives way to a more soft and full flavor of honey, apples, and a squeeze of lemon. The wine was definitely cared for and crafted to not be a big buttery mess, but doesn’t quite drive it all the way home with the finish.
- The Score: At $18-$20, the flavor of the wine is deserving of the principle. It is worthy of supporting and certainly will not disappoint from a flavor perspective. Those that are looking for a crisp “naked” Chardonnay will be disappointed, but the wine is solid and has full flavor and depth. 3+/5
*Wine was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review. Gift card is provided by ONEHOPE Wine. Winner must be 21 and over to claim the prize.
30 Sep 2010
Are you looking for a wine that will kiss you on the lips, smack you on the ass, and leave you feeling completely satisfied? Mollydooker just might do it. In my 11 months of wine blogging and five years of wine consumption, I have yet to experience anything so over the top and hedonistic as the Mollydooker wines. In fact, it’s not even until now that I understand the use of the word hedonistic when describing wine. Even at their lower end price points $25, the wines are full of big and rich fruit with an emphasis on flavor. It’ll feel like a flavor orgy in your mouth. Be careful, however, the bold wines come with bold alcohol levels of 15.5% and higher! Too much of this booze and you’ll get a smack on the ass from falling on it!
Mollydooker has put together a winning combination of wine, marketing, and consistency since coming on to the scene in 2006. Their web site is fun, quirky and educational, the labels are catchy and carry a personal connection, and the wine has garnered praises including five 99 point scores from Wine Advocate, Top Value Wine (under $20; 2006), and the Carnival of Love has been selected as a Top 10 Wine in the World (2 years running).
Owners and Winemakers Sarah and Sparky Marquis spent 12 years making critically acclaimed wine for others companies before starting Mollydooker in 2005. Based in Australia’s premier regions of McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek and Pathway, Sarah and Sparky claim that it is their Marquis Vineyard Watering Programme and Marquis Fruit Weight focus that sets their wine apart. Two pretty cool, although heavily marketing focused, videos are on their web site at www.mollydookerwines.com.
The watering program manages the growth of the vines and canopy to create a healthy and vigorous crop. At specific times the plants are deprived of water to drive the energy into the grape clusters. A repeating cycle of starvation and watering leads to the high fruit weight the Marquis’ are aiming for. Marquis Fruit Weight is a non-scientific measurement of WOW. It is an attempt to quantify the percentage of your palate that’s covered by the smooth fruit flavor.
I was pretty skeptical and intrigued by the Fruit Weight concept, so I thought I’d put the three sample wines to the test in a blind tasting format. I had the wife bag and tag the wines after removing the colorful foil identifiers. I knew I was drinking Mollydooker, I knew they were 2009 Shiraz, but I had no clue as to which wine was The Boxer ($25), Blue Eyed Boy ($50), or Carnival of Love ($90). Watch the video for the surprising results.
*So far, this may sound like a sales pitch for Mollydooker, instead of a review. I’m just providing the back story (and theirs is an impressive one). I did review a 2008 vintage of Blue Eyed Boy and didn’t give it so glowing of a review.
- The Stuff: 100% Shiraz from vineyards in McLaren Vale, Langhorne and Pathway. The wine spent 12 months in 57% new 43% year old American oak; 3.6% residual sugar, 16%ABV, screw cap enclosure (as are all Mollydooker wines) – 70% Marquis Fruit Weight
- The Swirl: Thick and inky in the glass with a heavy purple. Wine leaves a film on the glass edge when swirling.
- The Sniff: A Shiraz masquerading as a big Malbec with blueberry and vanilla on the nose. There are subtle hints of sweet residual sugar and cedar too.
- The Sip: Good flavor but not overwhelming. Starts off feeling a little syrupy and then gives way to dark black and blue berry fruit. A stronger pepper finish than I expected and a good amount of acidity to clear away the sweet fruit.
- The Score: At $25 this is a great wine that easily outperforms Aussie Shiraz in the $15-$20 range. The flavor is more intense but not over the top. Great price point. 3+/5
- The Stuff: 100% Shiraz from the Mollydooker vineyard and Langhorne Creek; aged 12 months in 71% new and 29% used American oak; 3.6% residual sugar, 16%ABV, screw cap enclosure – 80% Marquis Fruit Weight
- The Swirl: Great light refraction around the edges. The wine looks like a pristine calm glassy purple lake. Thick and very weighty
- The Sniff: A very well layered aroma profile that includes perfectly balanced amounts of fruit, licorice, powdered sugar, and deep blackberries. Love the subtle cracked pepper on the finish
- The Sip: A massive wash of soft plum, bright blackberry, and warm milk chocolate. The luscious and round mouth feel is accompanied by a good amount of firm tannin on the finish. This is a young wine that drinks very well now, but is crying out for sausage, cheese, and beef dishes.
- The Score: For those wine drinkers that are accustom to laying down $50 for a good bottle, this is a fantastic wine. There is more here than just a giant fruit bomb. The layers of flavor will ease the pain of parting with the cash. This is a special wine whose taste and aromas are burned into my memory. 4/5
- The Stuff: 100% Shiraz from the Gateway vineyard in McLaren Vale; 97% new and 3% used American oak for 12 months. 3.8% RS; 16%ABV, screw cap enclosure – 90% Fruit Weight
- The Swirl: As with all the MD Shiraz this wine is pure purple passion. Very thick and pure like liquid glass. The Enchanted love is one of the darker wines I can recall seeing.
- The Sniff: Beautiful scents of violets, sweet sugar, bright blueberries, rich plums and spice. I think about 10 minutes went by before I quit smelling this wine. An enjoyable experience even before the sip.
- The Sip: A wonderful evolution of flavor happens on this wine. Tasting the wine gives you an understanding of what “fruit weight” is. The flavor seems to wrap every square inch of your mouth. Not a single taste bud is left out of this experience. Great presentations of fruit, spice, and even some dried tomato and coffee components.
- The Score: The Carnival of Love is a sensory experience not to be missed. This is truly a wine event, if ever I’ve had one. A huge step above in balance over the previous vintage and crafted with subtle intricacies that keep you wanting another sip. Keep in mind this is not a subtle experience of strolling through a park enjoying the serene waterfalls and flowers, this is a high octane double loop roller coaster at 70MPH! At $90, a challenge for most but if you want to really impress a wine lover (especially one who enjoys Aussie Shiraz), you’ll score big points here! 4+/5