22 Oct 2010
Viva la Chile! On Thursday, October 14 I was watching two broadcasts from Chile. Both broadcasts were marvels of modern technology (although one was of slightly greater importance). Live from Copiapo, I watched with the world as the last of 33 mine workers was resurrected from the depths of a mine that left them trapped for 69 days. At the same time I virtually tasted wine with eight wine makers via live satellite feed from Santiago hosted by Master Sommelier, Fred Dexheimer, for 50+ wine writers and bloggers located across the country. I was able to experience both of these events without leaving the comfort of my office chair and pink fuzzy slippers (I don’t really have pink fuzzy slippers, but if I did no one ever would know).
The Chilean mine worker rescue was a triumph of the human spirit, the fight for survival, and brought hope and joy to an entire nation. The Chilean wine tasting was just a yummy surprise. In a very rushed hour we swirl, sniff, sip, spit (mostly) through eight unique red blends from four of Chile’s wine growing regions. To briefly sum up the night; Chile is making some damn fine wine! There wasn’t a single one of these wines that was disappointing, and more than a few were quite surprising. While the wines were provided as a sample for a winesofchile.org tasting, I will definitely be keeping my eyes out for these labels.
From a broad stroke perspective, these red blends all seemed to offer a great deal of complexity with vibrant aromas of violet, eucalyptus, wild flowers and tobacco. In the mouth each wine seemed to be quite velvety with an earthy minerality in the finish. Each of these components seemed to offer a sense of place, or terroir for Chilean wine. I was impressed with the winemakers approach to unique blending of Syrah and Carmenere or Pinot Noir and Syrah. Rather than bore you with detailed notes on each wine, I’ll share a little about each, highlighting my favorites.
If you feel like reading some other thoughts on the event, check out my friends here:
- 1WineDude – http://www.1winedude.com/index.php/2010/10/21/badges-of-honor-and-wine-in-chile-wines-of-chile-red-blends-tasting/
- WinePeeps – http://winepeeps.com/2010/10/19/wines-of-chile-exploring-chilean-red-blends/
2007 Emiliana Coyam
The blend of 38% Syrah, 21% Cabernet, 21% Carmenere, 17% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot and 1% Mourvedre exploded with massive aromas of fruit, flowers and spice. I loved the fragrant eucalyptus and violets juxtaposed with the spilled spice rack. The wine is also full of flavor in the mouth with a powerful, yet soft dark fruit and evergreen tree. The oak treatment is very well integrated and the 15% ABV does not come across as strikingly hot. The finish on the wine is thick without being chewy or tart. This Bordeaux style wine is top notch wine for just $29 suggested retail. 4+/5
Emiliana is 100% organic and biodynamic.
*As an example of diversity of tastes, my wife didn’t care for this one so much. Joe and Kori, referenced above, gave it lower marks than I as well.
2007 Casas Del Bosque Family Reserve
The unique use of Pinot Noir as a blending grape (13%), along with the primary use of Syrah (61%) and Merlot (26%) was intriguing. The blend saw an extended time on skins with a total of 33 days of maceration and fermentation before resting for 22 months in new French oak barrels. The result is an intensely dark and black glass color. The amazing complex aromas offer something different with each sniff. In the beginning I picked up lavender, and sour fruit, but as time elapsed there were additional fragrances of campfire, cocoa, and exotic spices. In the mouth this wine is strong and sexy, refined and powerful, confident and playful. There are blasts of blueberry and vanilla that compliment the bitter baking chocolate and minerality very nicely. While built to cellar and age, this wine will taste remarkably better in 10 years, but is no slouch for the less patient too. At $50 it was the most expensive wine of the night, easily worth the expense. 4/5
2008 Montes Limited Selection
While not the best wine of the night, it certainly did surprise as the best bang for your buck. At only $15 the simple blend of 70/30 Cab/Carmenere was full of coco, minerality and herbs on the nose with a very full mouth feel of dark fruit and leather. This wine plays well with its bigger brothers in quality and price. 3+/5
One of the more enjoyable moments of the night was when winemaker Aurelio Montes Del Campo was explaining the feng shui layout of the winery, saying, “Happy people make happy wine.” This wine certainly made me happy, so maybe he’s on to something.
2008 Hacienda Aruacano
31% Syrah, 29% Cab Franc, 23% Cab Sauv, 17% Carmenere; 14.2%ABV – With elegant ruby colors in the glass the wine has great aroma of evergreen, clove, dark berry fruits and a subtle hint of exotic spice. Starts very thick in the mouth and then evolves into lots of layers of flowers, blackberry, and meat. The wine has a bright finish that is thrown off by a slightly disjointed minerality. At $23, a bargain. 4/5
2006 De Martino Las Cruces
A single vineyard field blend of 66% Malbec and 34% Carmenere; 14.7%ABV. The color starts dark in the center and shines with pink and purple hues toward the edge of the glass. My notes say, “love, love, love the nose. Like a field of wild flowers and rocky soil.” The wine has nice flavors raspberry and flowers. Hints of licorice and earth come through but the wine finishes long and strong with many layers of flavor. At $45, I score it 4/5
2006 Estampa Gold
57% Carmenere, 23% Cab Sauv, 12% Cab Franc and 8% Petit Verdot; 14.7% ABV – In the glass, nice deep plum color with candied edges. Soft blueberry aroma on the nose with hints of tobacco and spice. In the mouth the wine has a slight sweet candied berry and a full thick palate. At $22 3+/5
1WineDude gave a “B” and WinePeeps rated it their favorite of the night
2005 Valdivieso Eclat
The oldest wine of the night and the most unique blend of 56% Carignan, 24% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah was light with translucent ruby colors in the glass. A tight nose that has a grip on the wild flower and mineral aromas. Flavors of light fruit combined with a rich earthy mid-palate give way to a slight cocoa finish and good crisp acidity. $27, 3+/5
2006 Lien Maquis
42% Syrah, 30% Carmenere, 12% Cab Franc, 9% Petit Verdot, and 7% Malbec; 14.5%ABV – Dark and thick plum in the glass with fragrance of spice, mint, and bright red fruit. A lush mouth feel with nicely integrated oak and a thick back end. At just $19 a well made wine 3+/5
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.
I enjoy exploring new regions of the country’s great grape growth. Every state in the union makes wine. With California, Washington, New York, and Oregon securing the top four spots, several states are making a play for the coveted number five. Wine writers like Russ Kane and Jim Wilkerson often talk up the big state of Texas. Great Virginia evangelists like Dezel Quillen and Frank Morgan waive the “Virginia is for Wine Lovers” banner. But, there is a glove shaped state making a play for the #5 spot. With the fine folks at Michigan by the Bottle and Mike Fifer on board, the home of the Lions, Tigers and Bear haters is getting good press for pressing out some quality juice.
Shannon and Courtney Casey run MichiganbytheBottle.com and seem to be on a single minded mission to get Michigan wine on the palates and minds of every wine loving tweeter in the twitterverse. The fifth installment of Tweet and Taste Michigan featured the wines of Silver Leaf Vineyard and Winery. Silver Leaf is a family establishment making nearly 2000 cases of small production hand crafted wines. Located north of Traverse City on the North West portion of the state (near the pinky), the winery is part of the Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association. The produce 8 wines with the price points ranging from $11 – $16. VALUE ALERT!
For this month’s tasting, it was a pleasure exploring the region and getting to know their Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Lemberger (Purple Foot).
2009 Silver Leaf Pinot Gris
- The Stuff: Labeled non-vintage and as American, this Pinot Gris is made from grapes in various vineyard sources in Michigan and is 98% Pinot Grigio and 2% Chardonnay. The wine sees “some” time in oak but undergoes no malo-lactic fermentation; 12.2%ABV – LOVE the zip tie type foil access!
- The Swirl: Pale yellow apple in the glass with hints of effervescence, seems moderately ‘thick’
- The Sniff: Nice soft aromas of spice, and lemon-lime erupt from the glass. A nicely presented nose really builds the anticipation for the first sip.
- The Sip: Very well balanced flavor with subtle presentations of peach, and citrus without being tart. A medium acidity provides a finish that makes this a good sipping wine or perfect for pairing with shell fish and spicy fair.
- The Score: While the wine wasn’t overly complex it was a solid effort and a super affordable price point. Retailing for $14, this could be a go to bottle for people who like crisp whites. 3/5
2009 Silver Leaf Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling from Leelanau area; 12.9%ABV; 1% residual sugar that on the web site is curiously listed as “added back” – not much else listed on the web site
- The Swirl: Very light straw color with hints of green apple
- The Sniff: Mostly tropical flowers on the nose, tight and restrained
- The Sip: A slight touch of sweetness on the palate that quickly gives way to soft flavors of peach and apricot. A wet stone minerality rocks the finish along with a pretty strong acidity. The finish is quick but pleasing.
- The Score: At only $14, this is another bargain that showcases the quality price ratio that is so strong in Michigan; 3/5
Silver Leaf Purple Foot
- The Stuff: 100% Lemberger from Southern Michigan vineyard sources; 10 months on French and American oak; 13.5%ABV
- The Swirl: Extremely light and translucent in the glass. Reminiscent of a Pinot Noir with ruby tones.
- The Sniff: On the nose this wine is a smoky blackberry aroma with hints of earth
- The Sip: A good “starter red” with a thin flavor profile. The taste turns tart with cranberry and puckered tannin on the finish. To me the wine feels a little disjointed and not what I’ve come to expect from a Lemberger.
- The Score: At $16, the Purple Foot is a good price but wasn’t something I would particularly purchase. 3-/5
*Wine was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review
13 Oct 2010
Yellow Tail makes a reserve wine? This was my thought and the question I heard several times over when I told people I was reviewing Yellow Tail wine. According to the print material, “The fruit used is taken from Australia’s premium cool climate regions to maintain elegance, finesse and length of flavor. Great wine begins with the best grapes for [ yellow tail ] Reserve. You can taste the difference.” This is what I wanted to determine, could you taste the difference?
Over the last 30 years the Casella family has taken Yellow Tail from small production to over 11 million cases, making them one of the largest wine exporters in the world. In 2001 the little yellow wallaby was introduced to the US in an agreement with W.J. Deutsch. Americans fell in love to the sip of 8.5 million cases making Yellow Tail one of the most recognized wine brands in the US.
At prices between $12-$15 the five Yellow Tail Reserve wines (Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Merlot, Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon) are about twice the price of the non-reserve line. I’ll admit I had my share of Yellow Tail magnum bottles of Shiraz from Costco. The fruity and slightly disjointed wine used to work as a standby from time to time (especially in my early wine exploration days). Now, however, I’ve discovered that a step up in price is well worth the drinking experience. I’m pretty curious to see what twice the price gets the consumer.
The reserve packaging is a picture of great branding. The use of a black label and silver foil wallaby convey quality while maintaining a tie to the core brand elements. The bottles seem to be slightly weightier as well. After receiving the wine, my step-son walked in the room and said, “oooh, these must be expensive.” He’s a pretty astute and observant 13 year old and has a keen eye for design and marketing. After noting the name, he said, “Oh, they’re only Yellow Tail.” Interesting…
2008 Yellow Tail Reserve Merlot – The 100% Merlot is from six regions in Australia, mostly King and Alpine Valley. The various fruit spent between 6-12 months in a range of new and used American and French oak barrels. With a soft burgundy rust color in the glass, the wine was fairly translucent. The nose on the wine was fairly woody like water logged wine soaked piece of cedar. Some underpinnings of sour red fruit graced the nose to. In the mouth the wine is soft and slightly unassuming with presentations of sour cherry on the mid palate. Hints of vanilla poke through the light tannin finish. At $12-$15 this is a drinkable wine but in comparison to the Velvet Devil on the Under $10 Team, I’ll pass on this one 3-/5.
2008 Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz – The 100% Shiraz is from the Langhorne, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Barossa and Wrattonbully areas in South Eastern Australia. The fruit spent varying amounts of time (6-12 months) in new and used American and French oak. In the glass the wine is similar in tone to the Merlot but with a darker center. Slightly less translucent but could be the same wine to the untrained eye. A traditional aroma profile for what I’ve experienced in Yellow Tail Shiraz offering off scents of dark fruit and pepper. In the mouth the wine is fairly large and squishy with well balanced play of blackberry, blueberry and pepper spice. The oak components are more subtle and offer more layered flavor to the profile. While still on the simple side, the bold and rich flavor will appeal to a large audience. Having had my fair share of non-reserve Shiraz, at $12-$15 this is definitely a step up in flavor and quality. 3/5
2008 Yellow Tail Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – A multi-regional blend of 100% Cabernet from various sources in South Eastern Australia. As in the other two reserves, this fruit in this wine spent 6-12 months in new and used French and American oak. The Cabernet is thick in the glass with hints of ruby and rust color around the edge of the glass. The aroma profile suggests a well thought out combination of dark fruit, oak and hints of mint. I really enjoyed the nose of this wine. In the mouth the wine is big on fruit and big on oak. The superstar in this wine is the presentation of mint. The finish is average with moderate tannin. In comparison to other $12-15 price point Cabernet Sauvignon, this certainly can stand with them. The subtle differences in like/dislike could be a matter of preference and not quality. 3/5
*NOTE – In the video the graphic rating is mistakenly listed as a 3+/5
In summary, the reserve line of Yellow Tail provided a decent step up in quality and flavor from the regular line. These wines could be a natural next step in people’s evolution of expanding their palate without breaking the bank. The brand familiarity certainly helps in moving people up. Each of the wines, in retrospect, seemed to offer a similar mouth feel and flavor component with the subtle difference being the finish. On each bottle there is a two word description of the wine, i.e. “Dark and Spicy” “Bold and Thick,” my brief description of the reserve line is, “Better not Stunning.” If you see these wines at or around $10, give them a try for a comparison to what you know of the non-reserve line.
*Wines were provided as an industry sample with the intention to review
06 Oct 2010
Two months ago I celebrated my centennial video with a visit to Napa, California’s V. Sattui winery (the visit was virtual through a wine review). Today, we make a return virtual visit to preview three more of their wines. V. Sattui is in the midst of celebrating 125 years. Established in San Francisco in 1885 by Vittorio Sattui and then re-established in St. Helena in 1975 by Vittorio’s great grandson Dario, V. Sattui is one of the few remaining established family businesses in the wine world.
Truly a unique Napa destination winery, V. Sattui is 100% self distributed through their tasting room, and through the old fashion phone and interwebs. The majestic grounds and picnic areas add to the enjoyment of visiting. If you want to see some amazing pictures, check out the V. Sattui wedding blog!
For today’s tasting, V. Sattui sent three different cheeses from their Italian Marketplace-Deli. With pasta, Panini, charcuterie, deserts, breads, salads and 205 different cheeses from around the world you may get more than a little distracted from the wine. The cheese didn’t quite make it to wine tasting but I can vouch that it was yummy.
2008 V. Sattui Sauvignon Blanc (Vittorio’s Vineyard)
- The Stuff: 99.8% Sauvignon Blanc and .2% Semillon (not sure why?). This wine was fermented in stainless steel but a portion (18%) of the wine spent time in neutral French oak. 773 cases were made; 14.5% ABV
- The Swirl: The wine is much lighter in color than I would expect for a Sauvignon Blanc.
- The Sniff: An amazing amount of aroma jumps out of the glass. The wine starts as a tropical blast with subtle hints of almonds and lemon zest.
- The Sip: The soft subtle initial attack wraps around your tongue and then gives way to gentle melon flavors, pineapple, and moderately tart lemons. The traditional flavors are very well integrated and offer fantastic layers of enjoyment. The wine keeps evolving in the mouth and with each sip!
- The Score: At $22 this is a bargain. The layers of quality flavor won’t disappoint. Easily a 4/5
- The Stuff: The Alexander Valley fruit is 93.8% Cab Franc, 3.9% Cab Sauv and 1.4% Merlot (sadly I misspoke in the video). Fermented in stainless steel and aged in 50% new French oak. 14.8%ABV, 637 cases
- The Swirl: Colors of grapey purple, dark and medium bodied.
- The Sniff: The initial impression reminds me of taking a plum and rubbing in the dirt for a while. There are also aromas of green pepper.
- The Sip: A soft attack of plums and blackberries that transform into black tea or coffee on the mid-palate. The medium bodied wine offers a slight zip of pepper and a smooth finish.
- The Score: At $30 this is a 3+/5
- The Stuff: 100% Zinfandel from Howell Mountain AVA. Aged 16 months in 50% new oak, 14.5%ABV
- The Swirl: Slightly tanned colors with a medium thin rust color that is about 60% opaque
- The Sniff: Definitely not your big berry Zinfandel. The wine offers a soft aroma of cedar and hints of pepper and earth. If you’re looking for a strawberry jam pie, this isn’t it.
- The Sip: The V. Sattui Zin comes off a little thin on the fruit and then offers licorice and mocha flavors. This isn’t a poorly made wine, just different from what I’ve come to expect from a California Zin. At $40, give it a try before you buy, 3/5
*wine was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review