04 May 2010
Guest blog post #3 from author @thevinofile
I’ve never truly understood when people talk about transitioning to their white wine porch sippers as the warm weather approaches in late spring. It’s not that I don’t like white wine, and certainly it gets hot early here in Southern California, it is just that I’ve never really had a porch. You see in L.A. where real estate averages over $300 a square foot a small porch can cost a guy $20,000 – so most of your “20-something” years are spent in a rental. In the natural So Cal rental progression one starts with a dirty balcony that overlooks a busy street, and then upgrades to a duplex in which your shared porch is completely overrun by the neighbor lady’s cactus collection. Both the lady and the cactuses are probably covered by rent-control so it is inevitable that you will be gone long before the succulents. The setting has the potential to kill the relaxation, thus I have in the past tended to skip the summer sippers.
This year is going to be different. This will be the first summer where I have my very own porch, and I do not intend to let it go to waste. I have realized that when calculated into my mortgage this porch costs me about $6.23 a day, so I need to find some wines that won’t break my budget. I went around town looking for a variety of wines at slightly different price points but all under $15 and put them each to the test:
Mezzacorona Chardonnay 2008 Vigneti delle Domlomiti – This wine from the Venice region in Italy offers green apple and yeasty bread on the nose. Across the palette there is some fresh citrus and tart apple. It finishes a little short with some subtle acid. The wine is refreshing, if not special, but retailing for between $5 and $10 it fits the bill. On my rating scale this wine gets a 2.5 out of 5.
Cono Sur Bicycle Viognier 2009 – Cono Sur is a large producer out of the Colchagua Valley in Chile. They offer wines at all different levels with the Bicycle brand representing their entry level wines. Cono Sur is known for offering good quality at a value-driven price. The 2009 Viognier is an orange tinged golden yellow in the glass. It offers a pretty nose of peaches and a touch of honeysuckle, with the palette offering lots of citrus, a touch of peach and mineral finish that shows some heat. The acid in this wine is a bit strange as the wine comes across a touch flabby when being drunk, but acidic afterwards (that kind of down the middle of the tongue acidity). The wine is a bit thin, a bit one-dimensional, and yet does offer some flavors that many will find tasty. There are many better examples of viognier available, but certainly on a hot day if this wine is chilled I think people will be refreshed. The wine retails for between $9 and $12, and also receives a score of 2.5 out of 5.
Cascina Castlet Moscato D’Asti 2009 – This wine borders on a dessert wine as it has a high amount of residual sugar, but at my house it disappeared very quickly with a little bit of cheese on a hot afternoon. A pale straw yellow with a bit of sparkle and foam (the term frizzante comes across as pretentious to me, sorry) the wine is only 5.5% alcohol by volume. The nose gives off some apple, citrus, and bread and ultimately reminds me of a lemon or lime Home-Run pie that at $0.25 a pop were still a HUGE treat to me when I was a kid. The mouth gives off a rather sweet and forward bit of pineapple, citrus, and a touch of melon. The sweetness is refreshingly offset by the bubbles and generous dose of acidity. The low alcohol content makes it utterly drinkable, and the website translated from Italian suggests that ‘even kids like it.’ This wine retails for around $13 and receives a score of 3 out of 5.
The porch trials are now over and I would drink any one of these three wines. The clear winner in terms of being interesting, different, delicious, and refreshing is the Cascina Castlet. There will be some who are averse to the sweet factor, and I understand this as I generally do not drink sweet wines either. But I encourage you to give it a chance, and hey if you don’t like it there are apparently some Italian kids who will finish it up for you!! Enjoy!
About the Author
The Vino File is written by Scott Wadlow in Pasadena, CA. Scott is an admittedly novice wine enthusiast who writes about what he is trying, learning, thinking, or laughing at in the world of wine. During the day Scott is a software consultant, a job that helps facilitate and occasionally perpetuate his interest in wine. Please visit The Vino File, comment, and interact with Scott and other readers.
14 Apr 2010
Viognier and Semillon may not be grapes you are very familiar with, but I can assure you that with summer coming, consider these worthwhile reasons to stray from your Sauv Blanc and Rose. A Southwest oasis in the desert of central Washington, Desert Wind Winery was born out of a need for more fruit variety at Duck Pond Cellars (Dundee Oregon). In the early 90’s Duck Pond began planting the 480 acres located on the Wahluke Slope, East of Yakima and West of Tri-Cities. In 2001winemaker Greg Fries presented the first release of Desert Wind Winery. Seeing the phenomenal grown of the corridor between Prosser and Yakima, WA, Desert Wind set out to open a premium tasting room, event facility, restaurant, and retreat center. Considered the highlight of his career, Greg and team opened the Desert Wind Winery in 2007. You have to check out their web site, the space looks amazing! I wonder if Greg and Amber are going to invite me out (wink)?
I previously reviewed the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc and it walked away with my March value wine of the month. At just $15 the wine was alive with tropical fruits and a balanced flavor.
For those that skip the videos and just read the text, you’ll want to check out the final minute as I actually pull the guitar off the wall and play it (yes @clivity, I do play the guitar).
- The Stuff: 94% Semillon, 3% Chardonnay and 3% Sauvignon Blanc; aged six months in neutral oak. 100% barrel fermented; 14.5%ABV; 568 cases
- The Swirl: Bright golden wheat color, with honey tones, seemingly thick viscosity
- The Sniff: Light undertones of lemon, vanilla and pear. Subtle but pleasing
- The Sip: Great mouth-feel, velvet and soft with mild fruit flavors of pear or apple and hints of lemon shavings. Reminiscent of light lemon shortcake.
- The Score: At $15 this is a mellow wine that provides simple flavor profile. Would definitely recommend with creamy shellfish pasta or smoked salmon. I score this a 3 out of 5
- The Stuff: 100% Viognier, 91.5% stainless fermentation 8.5% new French oak fermentation for 60 days; 14.5%ABV; 414 cases made
- The Swirl: Light, nearly clear with hint of lemon lime soda coloring
- The Sniff: I think Don Ho came up singing Tiny Bubbles bringing aromas of lychee, peaches and other tropical fruits. Reminded me of some mixed drinks I got in Florida last year.
- The Sip: The tropical fruit was mild on the front palate with good zing of lemon zest and minerality on the mid palate. Amazingly strong acid finish was perfect for palate cleansing. The finish was beautiful and balanced
- The Score: At just $15 this is another winner from the desert heat of Desert Wind. I score this a 4 out of 5. A strong recommend for summertime pleasure or served with spicy foods.
Cellar Tracker scores (none for 2009, 1 at 84 points for 2008)
*These wines were provided as industry samples with the intention to review
18 Nov 2009
Recently my wife and I spent 3 days in Woodinville, WA. We’re trying to make our way to all the appellations and wine meccas of WA and were excited to visit the area.
Woodinville is home to two of Washington’s largest (Chateau St. Michelle and Columbia Winery) These two building dominate the landscape, however, the shining stars can be found in the small strip malls and the industrial warehouse district. We purchased more wine on this trip than on our previous 4 trips and the winery that captured our imagination and taste was Alexandria Nicole.
I love the business of wine and pairing the experience with the flavor. When I say that ANC (@ancwine - twitter) was our favorite, it’s because the combination of the wine flavor, the employee’s personality, the building decor and the obvious passion that came across from everyone we met.
Hidden within the maze of white industrial space is the gem of Woodinville! When entering the tasting room you are greeted with simple, warm decor, and a beautiful slab granite tasting area. Beyond the main area is a fantastically decorated meeting space, wine club member area for tasting and events. The hosts were extremely informative and the love of their work came through. We tasted all they had to offer and purchased a little of each.
The other evening we were asked to bring a good wine to dinner. I really wanted to drink the Crawford Viognier and even though the pairing with Jambalaya didn’t seem quite right, I thought the Viognier would hold up well to the spice in the dish. Although I was slightly off with my pairing, I thoroughly enjoyed the wine (the dish was much more tomato based and not nearly as spicy – a Cabernet Sauvignon or even a Pinot Noir would have stood up better).
2008 Crawford Estate Alexandria Nicole Viognier - Columbia Valley $20
- Swirl: Very light in color, pale and clear – can tell just from the swirl that this is going to be crisp and refreshing
- Sniff: Wow, extremely potent with citrus, peach and melon, minimal floral scent (reminiscent of Hawaii)
- Sip: Tasted more of an apple crisp, like having an apple cobbler of some sort including the vanilla ice cream, extremely crisp. could drink the whole bottle by the fire on a cool September evening. Mild alcohol aftertaste but not enough to deter from the flavor. Only flaw is the flavor trails off quickly.
- The Score: At $20 I can easily score this a 4 (at the $15 range would make this easily a 5)
This wine scored 91 from Wine Spectator and definitely deserves that rating. I’m looking forward to our next trip and the next bottle in the rack.
2007 Alexandria Nicole Gravity Merlot
- The Swirl: Dark plum in the center with a light ruby at glass edge. No visible sign of legs
- The Sniff: Spicy leather and cherries jubilee with some chocolate shavings on top.
- The Sip: Good tannins but presented a mild hot alcohol on the back end. Not a typical smooth Merlot, had a big bold taste.
- The Score: At $24, I score this a 3+. It’s a well made wine but seemed a little off balance to score as a 4 or higher.
Other scores were found on Cork’d as a 91 and on Cellar Tracker as a 86.
Enjoy life with friends and DRINK.HAPPY!