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Archive for the ‘Wine Tastings’ Category

Part of our gift package after my team one first prize at the Défi de Bacchus 2009 wine tasting competition in Lyon, France. Figured it was time to crack open the bottle. So cheers to the ONE-FOUR!

Château Mont-Redon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2005
Tasting Notes: Ruby red in the glass. Predominantly grenache and syrah, with some mourvedre, Abeille-Fabre vineyard, 14.5% vol. Bright, fresh berries on the nose, accompanied by a subtle spice. Overall a fairly tight nose, lacking some expression. Fruit-forward flavors of black cherry and brambleberry, immediately followed by dark chocolate. This wine is full-bodied with balanced tannins and a juicy acidity. The finish is slightly bitter but would be balanced out nicely with a hearty meal.
Rating: 14/20 (87/100)
Price: US$44 @ Gift from Défi de Bacchus 2009 and the Sup’ de Coteaux wine club

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Thanks to a very generous invitation from The Andersons Sawmill Wine Shop, I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s Vanguard Wines “Grand Portfolio Tasting”, near Downtown Columbus, Ohio. Vanguard Wines is one of the largest (if not the largest) wine importers to Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. And they have a great selection to boot! This year the event featured over 50 winemakers from Argentina, France, Italy, Spain and the US. Since this is a trade only tasting, most of the producers are represented by the actual owner/winemaker, making for a much more authentic experience and vinous journey. I had a blast and managed to taste and spit my way though 33 whites and 45 reds. Below is my breakdown.

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My Favorite Whites

Alphonse Mellot, “Generation Dis Neuf”, Sancerre 2011 – $70
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Valourent”, Chablis 1er Cru 2010 – $43
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Valmur”, Chablis Grand Cru 2010 – $70
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Les Clos”, Chablis Grand Cru 2010 – $75
Larmandier-Bernier, “Longitude Blanc de Blancs”, 1er Cru Champagne – $53
Larmandier-Bernier, “Vieille Vigne Cramant”, Grand Cru Champagne 2006 – $90
Az. Ag. Campogrande, Cinqueterre 2011 – $55
Tenute Rio Maggio, Telusiano 2012 – $20
Eola Hills, “Vin d’Epice Late Harvest Gewurztraminer”, Oregon 2006 – $27
Ramey Wine Cellars, “Hyde Vineyard” Chardonnay, Carneros 2009 – $65
Ramey Wine Cellars, “Ritchie Vineyard” Chardonnay, Russian River 2009 – $65
Talley Vineyards, “Oliver’s Vineyard” Chardonnay, Edna Valley 2011 – $40

My Favorite Reds

Caldwell Vineyard, “Rocket Science” Red Blend, Napa Valley 2010 – $48
Caldwell Vineyard, “Silver C” Red Blend, Napa Valley 2010 – $105
Antano, Montefalco Rosso Riserva 2009 – $40
Fattoria di Felsina, Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 – $33
Fattoria di Felsina, “Fontalloro” Sangiovese, Toscana 2008 – $60
Allamand Viñas & Vinos, “H”, Mendoza 2010 – $37
Talley Vineyards, “Rincon Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Edna Valley 2011 – $60
Au Bon Climat, “Isabelle” Pinot Noir, California 2010 – $55

The Rest of the Whites

Kamen Wines “Estate Sauvignon Blanc”, Sonoma Mountain 2012
Dom de la Pertuisane, “The Guardian” Grenache Gris, Cotes Catalanes 2012
Alphonse Mellot, “La Mousierre”, Sancerre 2011
Alphonse Mellot, Pouilly-Fume 2011
Alphonse Mellot, “Les Penitents” Chardonnay, Cotes de la Charite 2010
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Montee de Tonnerre”, Chablis 1er Cru 2010
Jean-Marc Brocard, “Vau de Vey”, Chablis 1er Cru 2010
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rosé”, Pays d’Hérault 2012
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Blanc”, Pays d’Hérault 2012
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Blanc”, Pays d’Hérault 2012
Domaine de Pajot, “Quatre Cepages”, VdP de Cotes de Gascogne 2012
Larmandier-Bernier, “Rosé de Saignee Extra Brut”, 1er Cru Champagne
Marco Cecchini d’Orsaria, “d’Orsaria” Pinot Grigio, 2012
Marco Cecchini d’Orsaria, “Tové”, Tocai Friulano 2009
Allamand Viñas & Vinos, “Cuvee de St. Jeannet”, Valle de Uco 2012
Eola Hills, Pinot Gris, Oregon 2011
Eola Hills, Chardonnay, Oregon 2011
Charles & Charles, Rosé, Columbia Valley 2012
Gotham Project, “Truth or Consequences” Keg Riesling, 2012
Ramey Wine Cellars, Chardonnay, Russian River 2010
Talley Vineyards, “Estate Chardonnay”, Arroyo Grande 2011

The Rest of the Reds

Cliff Lede Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Stags Leap District 2010
Crocker & Starr, “Stone Place” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2010
Kamen Wines, “Estate Cabernet Sauvignon”, Sonoma Mountain 2010
Lang & Reed, Cabernet Franc, North Coast 2010
Lang & Reed, “Two Fourteen” Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley 2010
Lail Vineyards, “Blueprint” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2011
Lail Vineyards, “J. Daniel Cuvee” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2010
Dom de la Pertuisane, “Le Nain Violet” Grenache Noir, Cote Catalanes 2011
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Moulin de Gassac Guilhem Rouge”, Pays d’Hérault 2012
Mas de Daumas Gassac, “Rouge”, Pays d’Hérault 2011
Marco Cecchini d’Orsaria, “Refosco”, 2008
Antano, Montefalco Rosso 2010
Cascina Ca’Rossa, “Langhe” Nebbiolo, 2010
Cascina Ca’Rossa, “Auginaggio” Roero, 2010
Cascina Ca’Rossa, “Mompissano” Roero, 2009
Elio Altare, Dolcetto d’Alba 2012
Elio Altare, Barbera d’Alba 2012
Elio Altare, “L’Insieme”, 2010
Elio Altare, Barolo 2009
Elio Altare, “Cerretta”, Barolo 2007
Mauro Veglio, Dolcetto d’Alba 2012
Mauro Veglio, Barbera d’Alba 2012
Mauro Veglio, “Vigneto Arborina”, Barolo 2009
Mauro Veglio, “Castelletto”, Barolo 2009
Mauro Veglio, “Vigneto Gattera”, Barolo 2009
Fattoria di Felsina, Chianti Classico 2010
Fattoria di Felsina, “Rancia”, Chianti Classico Riserva 2009
La Rioja Alta, “Viña Alberdi”, Rioja 2006
La Rioja Alta, “Viña Ardanza”, Rioja 2004
La Rioja Alta, “Gran Reserva 904”, Rioja 2001
Allamand Viñas & Vinos, Malbec, Valle de Uco 2012
Allamand Viñas & Vinos, Cabernet Sauvignon, Valle de Uco 2012
Charles & Charles, Red Blend, Columbia Valley 2011
Gotham Project, “El Rede” Keg Malbec, 2012
Talley Vineyards, “Estate Pinot Noir”, Arroyo Grande 2011
Au Bon Climat, Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara 2011
Au Bon Climat, “La Bauge au-Dessus” Pinot Noir, Santa Mari 2009

Thanks again to Silvia, Chuck, Bob and the rest of the team at The Andersons Sawmill Wine Shop!

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Every month or so I return to The Andersons – one of the best wine selections in Central Ohio – to replenish my dad and I’s wine fix. Normally, I’m greeted by Chuck, a very pleasant and very knowledgeable wine associate. This time around I ran into Silvia, the Sommelier in charge. She was equally friendly and knowledgeable and helped me make a great selection. We struck up a very interesting conversation about her family vineyard in Romania and her vinous journey through Florida, Virginia and all the way up to Central Ohio! Born and raised in Romania, Silvia naturally wanted to share with me some of her country’s vinous love. She picked out a red and a white. I’ll be presenting the white today, which is a wine made from the Feteasca Regala grape, grown and vinified in the Târnave region.

Producing predominantly white wines, Târnave is a controlled appellation of origin within Transylvania, and is the most important and oldest wine region in the area. Târnave is home to Romania’s coolest vineyards and, similar to the Mosel region in Germany, the vineyards rest on remarkably steep slopes. The wines tend to share the high acidity, commonly found in Mosel valley wines. The Feteasca Regala varietal is exclusively Romanian, created in the 1930s from a cross between the Grasa and Feteasca Alba grapes. Feteasca Regala is one of Romania’s most widely planted grape varietals. So without further ado…

Jidvei “Feteasca Regala” Târnave 2011
Tasting Notes: 100% Feteasca Regala, aged a few months in oak barrels and stainless steel vessels, 12% vol. Light, golden straw yellow in the glass. Bright and fresh notes of peaches, lemons, picante and a lure of fresh meadows. There’s an overall sweet-citrusy, Summer-like appeal. The nose drew me in. This wine is bone dry with a pronounced tartness, displaying sour apple Jolly Rancher flavors, followed by lemons and peaches. A silky smooth texture accompanies the tartness. The palate is also mildly herbaceous, with notes of fresh green grass. A bit linear, despite all my notes, but this makes for a very refreshing Sunny-day wine. I can see myself lounging on the porch under the sun with a nice book or some good company.
Rating: 14/20 (87/100)
Price: under US$10 @ The Andersons Sawmill Wine Shop

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The Vintage: “A vintage summarised as a vintage that ripened without interruptions and producing moderate yields. Low to moderate winter rain with good follow-up rains in November enabled adequate moisture to support the potential crop load and allow it to slowly develop over summer. The summer was cool and dry followed by a very dry, warm autumn, which was unusual. This allowed many varieties to ripen early and without interruptions. The fruit has great floral aromatics with good intensity and perfectly balanced with excellent concentration, flavour development and length as well as lovely ripe, gritty tannins. Nearly every variety we have harvested exceeded classified expectations due to the exceptional autumn conditions.”

The Winemaking: “Very concentrated ripe bunches of Shiraz and Viognier were gently crushed by the “Demoisy” open mouthed, rubber toothed crusher, then co-fermented together in traditional, headed down open fermenters where the traditional foot-treading in wader- clad feet takes place. After about 2 weeks the must (the still fermenting juice) was then gently basket pressed by our 19th Century “Coq” and “Bromley & Tregoning” presses, and then transferred into American and French oak barriques for maturation.”

d’Arenberg “The Laughing Magpie” McLaren Vale 2005
Tasting Notes: 94% Shiraz, 6% Viognier, aged 12 months in American and French oak. 0.7 g/L sugars, 6.8 g/L acidity, 15% vol. Blood red in the glass. On the nose there are strong black fruits, pretty floral notes, balanced oakiness, and sweet vanilla-cinnamon spices. Dark chocolate dominates on the palate, accompanied by ripe cassis and blackberries, a juicy and balanced acidity and smooth tannins. This is a big but also well-integrated wine.
Rating: 16/20 (91/100)
Price: US$19.99 @ Winelibrary.com

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While on vacation with the family at beautiful Torch Lake, Michigan, my dad, brother and I decided to spend an afternoon wine tasting in Suttons Bay. We stopped by Black Star Farms Winery, one of their three locations.



As many Northern American wineries over market, Black Star Farms is located on the 45th parallel, just as Bordeaux. Of course, in reality this is irrelevant, because last time I checked, there’s a “small” pond between Bordeaux and Michigan. This 45th parallel reference is nothing more than marketing. What is not marketing is my assessment that this appellation and, in particular, this wine stand alone and side-by-side any top-quality Bordeaux, Alsace, Burgundy, Washington or Oregon wine. Props to the Michigan Visitors’ Center for recommending this winery after I expressed my interest in tasting the best wine in Michigan. I dare say that I think they just may have been right!

So two firsts here, and then I’ll just dive into the juice!

…One, this was my first ever tasting of Michigan wines. Originating from the State Down South, I am not embarrassed to say that Michigan BLEW AWAY Ohio on quality and expression. In fact, I have yet to taste an Ohio wine that I’d recommend.

…Two, I had never tasted, nor had I even heard of a double appellation wine. I didn’t even know this combination was legally permissible within the AVA system. Well apparently it is! And it works!

MY TOP PICKS:

Leelanau Peninsula Sparkling, Leelanau Peninsula ’08 – $17.50
Notes: fresh bread aromas, great local expression of the “méthode champanoise”
Isidor’s Choice Pinot Noir, Leelanau Peninsula ’11 – $22.50
Notes: Burgundian, mineral, dark chocolate
Arcturos Merlot, Michigan ’10 – $25.00
Notes: beautiful floral notes
Vintners Select, Michigan ’10 – $25.00
Notes: 60/38/2 Cab Franc/Merlot/Syrah, big fruits, jam
Spirit of Apple Brandy - $24.50
Notes: sweet caramel nose, expressive whisky-like flavors, nostalgia of Calvados

3 WHITES WORTH TRYING:

Arcturos Pinot Noir Rosé, Old Mission Peninsula ’12 (fruity) – $13.50
Arcturos Pinot Gris, Old Mission Peninsula ’11 (dry Alsatian style) – $15.00
Arcturos Dry Riesling, Old Mission Peninsula ’11 – $15.00

1 WHITE TO PASS ON:

Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay, Old Mission Peninsula ’11 – $15.50
Notes: too cosmetic on the nose

2 PREMIUM REDS REALLY WORTH TRYING:

Arcturos Pinot Noir, Grand Traverse Co./Leelanau Peninsula ’11 – $22.50
Notes: super light, color and palate
Arcturos Cabernet Franc, Old Mission/Leelanau Peninsula ’11 – $25.00
Notes: big acidity, great floral notes

1 RED TO PASS ON:

Leorie Vineyard Merlot Cab Franc, Old Mission Peninsula ’10 – $42.00
Notes: 60/40 blend, too green and way over priced for the quality

1 SPIRIT “MAYBE” WORTH TRYING:

Spirit of the Vineyard White Grappa (strong!) – $25.00

In closing, how’z ‘bout some humor? While preparing this post I noticed that the tasting room’s wine list and tasting guide included a Wine Libs game, à la Mad Libs. I thought this was a fun and creative little touch and so I thought I’d do a quick Facebook experiment and share the results, unedited! I filled in the blanks, indiscriminately, in order of my Wall’s responses. Here’s what my friends had to say…

“Your Guide to becoming the world’s greatest wine critic”

This Syrah from Black Star Farms reflects Lee Lutes’ lifelong pursuit of the downward dog. The full-bodied, balanced wine captures a true sense of integrity and metacognition; the vineyard’s well-draining chewing gum stood up to the happy spring of 2011 and the hilltops slope captured the broken leg that followed, resulting in an ideal magnificent balance. Thanks to a week of extended nut shots, this wine’s soft tannins and groovy, full texture is a perfect unicycle for the lush flavors of lychee tulips, and a Chaise lounge of herbs and cloves. Such a quality wine will improve for over a decade, but this bottle’s bright myrrh and intense quadruple-cheese pizza make it absolutely delicious right now.

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I just returned home from a 2-month political campaign project in San Bernardino, Southern California, A.K.A. “San Berdoo”. I was pleseantly surprised to find two bottles waiting for me, sent for review from Colchester Ridge Estate Winery (CREW) out of Ontario, Canada. Let’s see how they hold up! This will be my first tasting ever of a Lake Erie North Shore VQA.

Test subject one is a Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer blend. Test subject number two is a limited production, “Grand Crew”-labeled blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Lake Erie North Shore VQA 101: “Lake Erie North Shore appellation encompasses the vineyards in the southwestern extremity of Ontario. This favourable southerly location combined with the warming effect of the shallow waters of Lake Erie allow this appellation to enjoy a long growing season and promotes ripe fruit with a perfect balance between natural sweetness and acidity. Lake Erie North Shore has a long growing season and the highest number of heat units of all of Ontario’s viticultural areas. The light-textured, well-drained soils around the lakeshore contain mostly sandy loam and gravel deposits punctuated by small, irregular stony ridges, which overlay shale limestone bedrock. (The region) benefits from the quick summer warming of the shallow waters of Lake Erie as well as from an abundance of sunshine during the growing season. Early harvests are the norm, with picking usually beginning at the end of August and late-harvest often reach their peak by late October.” –VQA Ontario

“Posh Cuvée” Lake Erie North Shore 2011
Tasting Notes: 12.1% vol. Chardonnay-Riesling-Gewurztraminer blend. Light, straw-yellow in the glass. Slightly cosmetic on the nose, with notes of tropical fruit and apple. In the mouth, the attack offers a nice acidity, balanced by a silky-smooth texture. This is a full-bodied, semi-sweet white, displaying tangy flavors, similar to the nose – green apples and indistinguishable tropical fruits. The finish is a bit sour. An overall decent wine, lacking in complexity and expression and a bit too linear, but still quite tasty.
Rating: 12/20 (82/100)
Price: $13 CAD @ colchesterridge.com

“Grand Crew Reserve” Lake Erie North Shore 2008
Tasting Notes: 14.5% vol. Cabernet sauvignon-Merlot blend. Barrel-aged 4 years. Small lot production, 105 cases. Deep, dark red in the glass. A rich and powerful nose with notes of dark fruits, berries-a-plenty, vanilla spice and pretty floral aromas. The 14.5% alcohol definitely comes out, but without any unpleasantries. Quite to the contrary, the complexity and beautiful aromas make this wine very welcoming on the nose. A bit too sour on the attack but the sweet tannins help to balance out the mid-palate. There are flavors of dark chocolate and blackberries. This wine is a bit disjointed, performing much better on the nose than on the palate. The alcohol is a bit over-powering as a stand-alone wine BUT let’s be clear, this wine was made with rich and hearty meals in mind. This is a quality wine and gets my recommendation, although the $50 price tag seems a bit much.
Rating: 14/20 (87/100)
Priace: $50 CAD @ colchesterridge.com

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J.F. Carrille “Chateau de Fussignac” Bordeaux Superieur 2003
Tasting Notes: Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend, 12% vol. Dark, ruby red hue, turning a bit brick red-ish near the edges. Still quite fresh on the nose with beautiful notes of black fruits, brambleberry and sweet vanilla and cinnamon spice. Velvety, smooth on the attack but then immediately transitioning into a very dark chocolaty texture and flavor on the mid-palate with the tannins at the forefront. Balanced pretty well by a juicy acidity and flavors of blackberries, black cherries and vanilla. This is definitely a food wine, no surprise there. This will pair perfectly, as planned, with Bordeaux’s hearty cuisine of confit de canard and fois gras.
Rating: 15/20 (89/100)
Price: ~US$20 @ Lionsbridge-Ebay

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