Other producers to check out that make a fine Syrah would be Purple Star and Arbor Crest, both from Washington State. Purple Star is a Columbia Valley winery, and for this 2008 Syrah ($14, 13.9%) the grapes were from both the Whaluke Slope AVA and the Yakima Valley AVA. This wine had a smooth finish and aromas of blackberries and spicy vanilla. Arbor Crest makes an excellent Syrah as well, with the 2009 vintage ($24, 13.8%) being quite exceptional. This wine is made from Columbia Valley grapes sourced from 3 vineyards. It is full bodied with aromas of spicy blackberry and oak, and has a nice spicy finish as well. The 2010 vintage is also an excellent choice.
Now that spring has sprung, might as well enjoy it with a nice glass of syrah:)
Well the 2012 crush season is now over, and at the winery where I work, Arbor Crest Cellars, we crushed close to 300 tons of grapes and we are still making wine, so I’ve been a little busy. But I’ve still managed to try some great wines during that time, and I figured its about time to get back to work on the blog! A couple of wines I tried were from The Loire Valley of France. Now this is a famous wine producing region known for a variety of wines. Most notable are wines made from Sauvginon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, and Muscadet. The Loire Valley is also the second largest sparkling wine producing region, second to
Champagne of course. There are several important sub-regions within the Loire, which include Pays Nantais, Anjou-Saumur, Touraine, and the Central Vineyards. The wines I tried were a Vouvray from Touraine and a Cabernet Franc from Anjou-Saumur. Now Vouvray is an AOC located within the Touraine region, and all of these wines are made from the Chenin Blanc grape, with a few exceptions being made from Arbois. The Vouvrey I tried was made from Chenin Blanc. Typical Vouvrays can range from Dry all the way to sweet, and most I have tried have all been more toward the-off dry level of sweetness. The bottle I uncorked was a 2010 Sauvion Vouvrey. It had a pale light green color, with a refreshing nose of honey. The wine had great acidity which gave it a nice crisp refreshing taste of honey and apricot. With just a touch of sweetness, this was a very enjoyable glass of wine. This would be perfect as an aperitif or even to pair with something sweet. My sister Chloe, who is in the middle of a virtual world wine tour, also tried a vouvray as well.
The Cabernet Franc that I tried was a 2009 from Saumur Champigny, produced by Alliance Loire. The Saumur Champigny AOC is southeast of Saumur, and some people here believe that the best red wines are produced from the village of Champigny. Now I’m not sure it was the best Loire red that I have ever tried, but it definitely was a very good wine. In color it was dark red, with a little bit of brown on the rim. The nose had aromas of light red fruit, earthiness and a hint of vanilla. There was a very good structure to wine and the first sip yielded a flavor of light cherry with a touch of earthiness. It was a very good glass of wine, one that I think would be excellent paired with grilled meats, or by itself. There are many other great wines from the Loire Valley, and these are just a couple. But at price points of $9 for the Vouvray and $12 for the Saumur Champigny, these two were bargains. So if you have the urge to try some wine from the Loire Valley, I would recommend them both.
So I admit, the label on this wine sold me. However it was a good bottle of wine, and besides isn’t label art supposed to sell wine?
Razor’s Edge is from the McLaren Vale region in South Australia. This region is located 20 miles south of Adelaide, and the first vines were planted there in 1838. Together with an excellent range of soil types and an annual rainfall of about 22 inches, it has become one of the most important wine producing regions in Australia. The producers of McLaren Vale have gained a good reputation for big, full-bodied red wines. This 2008 Shiraz was a pretty decent glass of wine. It had a nice purple color to it, with hints of spice on the nose, and a nice smooth finish of spicy blackberry. Just a little hot at 14.5% alcohol, however it still was pretty well balanced, and was a great glass of wine to relax and enjoy the evening with.
I also tried the Razor’s Edge Shiraz - Grenache blend. This 2008 is a blend of 75% Shiraz and 25% Grenache. This wine was definitely not as full-bodied as the 2008 Shiraz, but still had a nice smoothness to it, along with a spicy finish. Overall I would say you can’t go wrong with both of these wines, and also for $10.49 each, the price is right for some great, easy drinking wine.
So it’s been quite a while since my last post as the month of June has been quite a busy one. However, it has not kept me from discovering some great wine. The summer finally arrived a few days ago, and that means it’s time to find some wine to pair with it. I recently found an excellent Pinot Grigio produced by Mezzacorona. This wine was
very refreshing and flavorful, and I gotta say will definitely be an excellent wine for warm weather. Mezzacorona is located in Northern Italy at the base of the Dolomite mountains, and is the largest estate producer of Pinot Grigio in Italy. Along with their Pinot Grigio, the wine list includes varietals such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Moscato and Teroldego among others. Their website also has some amazing photos of their vineyards and of the Dolomites that make me think that a trip to Mezzacorona is definitely in order! This 2010 Pinot Grigio had a light pale straw color with a nose of fresh citrus. The first sip led to a very refreshing taste of honey and citrus, with a slight hint of sweetness, along with a very smooth finish. I thought that this was an excellent glass of wine, and it paired quite nicely with the salmon I had with it. Along with pairing with great food, I think that this would be a perfect glass to relax with on a hot summer day. So if you are in search of a fantastic Pinot Grigio, I would definitely suggest Mezzacorona.
A winery that I have always enjoyed is Cono Sur, and I gotta say I haven’t met a wine of their’s that I didn’t like. The same can be said for
the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon / Carmenere. This wine is a 60% Cab Sauv and 40% Carmenere, from the Colchagua Valley, which is located within the Rapel Valley. This was a fantastic glass of wine. This wine had a nice dark purple color with a ruby red rim, and on the nose ripe black fruit along with a hint of earthiness. Smooth tannins and the right touch of oak went along nicely with a flavor of blackberry & plum, and made for an excellent finish. This is definitely a wine that is hard to put down, and I found it the perfect wine for enjoying a Spring day. Another great thing about this wine is the fruit was grown organically, and the winery prides itself on sustainable viticulture practices. Cono Sur is committed to being an environmentally conscious winery, and believes that great wine can be made while taking care of the environment at the same time. I was quite impressed with this wine, and am already planning on finding more. So if you are looking for a great wine to relax with, look no further than this Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere blend.
The Central Valley of Chile is a large growing region that consists of four main sub-regions - the Curico Valley, Maipo Valley, Rapel Valley, and Maule Valley. There are many different varietals grown in these regions, just a few being Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Pinot Noir. I recently tried a Carmenere from the Rapel Valley, a 2009 produced by Santa Carolina. This winery is one of a group of about a dozen wineries that produce close to 90 % of the Chilean wine exported to the United States. Santa Carolina has been making since 1875, and the original warehouse built for the winery was declared a national monument in 1973. The 2009 Reserva Carmenere I tried was an excellent wine, it had a deep purple color, along with aromas of ripe black fruit along with a little earthiness. It had smooth tannins on the finish along with hints of black berry. It was a nice glass of wine, and it paired well with the grilled steak I had along with it. I always enjoy a good glass of Carmenere, and this was definitely among the best I have tried.
Chilean Winery Cono Sur is starting a summer campaign encouraging consumers to drink chilled Pinot Noir. Although it’s not a wine that you would normally drink chilled, it might not be a bad idea. There’s nothing liked chilled wine in the summer…
Australia is known for its Shiraz (Syrah), and some of the best Shiraz comes from The Barossa Valley, which is located in South Australia about 40 miles Northeast of the city of Adelaide. Vines were first planted her in 1847, and by the 1880s the area had a reputation as one of the most well known wine producing regions in Australia. The vines are planted mainly on flat lands, but at elevations of 800 to 1,800 feet in some spots. And although it is a hot and dry climate, the vines are cooled by the ocean breezes. A lot of the Shiraz produced here is world famous, with many of the grapes grown on vines that have been around since the mid 1800s. Other grapes grown here are whites such as Riesling, chardonnay, and Semillon, as well as reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, and Mourvedre. I was lucky enough to try out a Barrosa Valley Shiraz this weekend, a 2009 Two Hands Bella’s Garden Shiraz. This was a fantastic wine, and possibly the best Shiraz I have ever tried. It presented itself in a deep, dark purple, and had a nose of ripe blackberry with hints of spice. It had great silky smooth finish, with mellow tannins and a delicious taste of spicy black fruit. The alcohol at 14.8% sounds high, but is hardly noticeable as the wine is extremely well balanced. This vintage was ranked no. 35 of the top 100 wines of 2011 by Wine Spectator, and also received a rating of 94. It was a great glass of wine, and I would highly recommend it!
Other news out of Australia deals with Tasmania. The island has been ranked just behind China as the best place in the world to invest in the wine industry. Reasons for the ranking were the island’s cool climate, abundance of water, and lack of pests among others. Tasmania has a history of wine growing that dates back to the early 1800s, but has really not not seen much growth until relatively recently. The cool climate makes it ideal for grapes such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, which are currently the most popular varieties grown. Other grapes include Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer. Some officials claim that Tasmania has great potential, even going as far to saying it could become the Champagne of the southern hemisphere. It shall be interesting to see what happens.
And finally, if you are looking for a wine to enjoy the warm weather with, this Rhone Valley rose might be the perfect drink for quenching you thirst.
The other day I read a recent article about the potential of Peru to become the next big wine producing region. Adolf Hurtado, the chief winemaker at the well established Chilean winery Cono Sur, believes that Peru has all the potential to become the next big thing in wine. He points out that many regions in Peru are very similar to northern Chile, which is very dry and has climatic features such as high elevations and close proximity to the ocean, which are ideal for growing vines. Historically, Peru is one of the oldest wine growing countries in South America, as vines were planted by the Spaniards in the mid 1500s. Currently there are over 24,000 acres of vines in Peru, and most are close to the Pacific coast. Some of the best vineyards are south of Lima, close to the town of Ica. Unfortunately, most wine produced in Peru does not have the best reputation. One of the most well known producers in Peru is Tacama. Two blends produced there, the Tacama Seleccion Especial (Tannat and Petit Verdot), and Tacama Gran Tinto (Malbec, Tannat, & syrah) are recommended. There is a lot of good quality wine coming out of South America, especially from Argentina and Chile. It will be interesting to see if Peru can attract more interest in its wine producing regions, and perhaps become a major player in the wine world.
Also speaking of South America, Chilean wine producer Vina Undurraga won best white wine from the New World at ExpoVinis, which is a well known international wine fair. The winning wine is a 2011 Sauvignon Blanc known as T.H. from La Obarca Valley. The wine is said to be very fresh and aromatic, and most interestingly, is said to have a faint scent of gun powder. I might have to give this one a try…
And finally, the other day I sipped on one of my favorite wines from Argentina, a Torrontes produced by Zolo. This is a very refreshing wine, and has a nice floral nose to it that reminds me of fresh flowers. It has a very smooth finish with hints of honey, and is great for a hot day. Definitely a must have for the coming months…
The month of April has been quite a busy one for me, unfortunately I’ve been mostly busy with things keeping me
away from blogging. However, on a more positive note I think that Spring may have finally sprung, and the best way to celebrate the arrival of spring is by drinking some good wines. There is nothing like relaxing on the porch with a nice refreshing glass of wine, especially in the warm weather. About a week ago with temperatures pushing 80 degrees, I thought a Riesling would be nice, so I tried a 2009 by Latah Creek. Latah Creek is a winery located in Spokane WA, and just recently celebrated 30 years in the business. They have quite a lineup of wines, which includes a Huckleberry Riesling, and they are also known for producing some great Merlot. This Riesling was clear in color with a hint of pale green to it. On the nose I got aromas of honey and apricots, and it had nice acidity on the finish, with hints of tropical fruit along with just a touch of sweetness. It really was the perfect glass of wine for a hot day. Also, at $8 retail it was a fantastic deal for the price.
Another wine I recently tried was a 2009 Viura from Rioja, Spain. Viura, also known as Macabeo, is one of the most widely planted white wine grapes in Rioja. Aside from on its own, you can find Viura blended with Garnacha Blanca and Malvasia in White Riojas. This particular bottle called Vetiver was 100% Viura and produced by Bodegas Ontanon. This wine was a clear pale yellow in color, and had hints of tropical fruit and toasty oak on the nose. It was smooth on the palate with mellow acids and a creamy finish. This was aged in oak for 6 months, and the oak definitely stood out, but overall it was a refreshing wine, and also would be good on a hot day.
I also tried a red wine just recently that seemed to be good for the arrival of Spring. This was a 2009 Col Di Sasso, produced by Banfi.
Col Di Sasso which is Italian for “Stony Hill”, is from the Tuscany region of Italy and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese. This was a very pleasant wine, and it had a bright ruby red color, with a nice earthy leathery nose with light fruit. It had a nice smooth finish with good acids and tannins with a hint of ripe red cherry. This was a perfect companion witthe grilled tri-tip steak that I had with it.
So if you haven’t yet, make sure you break out some of your favorite wines and celebrate the arrival of Spring!