Tempranillo from Ribera Del Duero

The Ribera Del Duero region of Spain is well known for producing excellent reds.  This DO is located in Northern Spain along the Duero River, and is home to many well known wineries, including one of Spain’s most famous, Vega Sicilia.  The wines from this region typically are full-bodied and flavorful, and also deep in color.  I recently tried two wines from Ribera Del Duero which I thought were quite exceptional.  The first I tried was a Crianza from Bodegas Pascual.  This 100% Tempranillo from their Buro Selection had a deep dark ruby red color to it with hints of tar and spicy black cherry. It was a full bodied wine with excellent structure and had a nice smooth,  spicy finish.  The Wine Advocate gave this wine a score of 92, and at a retail price of $26, this was a great deal for a very well made wine.

The second wine I tried was a 2001 Gran Reserva from Bodegas Balbas.  I was very impressed with this wine, which was composed of 90%

2009 Bodegas Pascual Buro and 2001 Bodegas Balbas Gran Reserva

2009 Bodegas Pascual Buro and 2001 Bodegas Balbas Gran Reserva

Tempranillo and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.   I first decanted this wine for a little while, which allowed for the wine to open up and present itself.  It had a deep dark red color with a bit of sediment in the glass, and it had a nose of ripe cherry and toasty oak.  An elegant structure of tannins and acids led to more cherry flavors and hints of chocolate and spice.  It had a nice smooth finish, and was a very well-balanced wine. It paired very nicely with grilled rib eye steak, and easily could be paired with a variety of meal options. Wine and Spirits gave this wine a score of 96, which I completely agree with.  At a retail price of $85, it is worth every penny.  I look forward to trying more wines from both Bodegas Pascal and Bodegas Balbas, and would definitely recommend both of these wines.

Cheers!

Seth

Arneis from Lange DOC

Arneis is a white wine grape that is grown in the Piedmont region of Northwestern Italy, most notably in Lange DOC and Roero DOC.  It is  primarily grown in the Roero DOC, which is the region that it originated from.  It tends to be difficult  to grow, and Arneis literally means “little rascal”, due to the grape’s erratic ripening .  Despite the difficulty in growing the grape, Arneis can produce very good wines with excellent aromatics and flavors.

2012 Castello Di Neive Arneis

2012 Castello Di Neive Arneis

The Arneis I tried was a 2012 produced by Castello Di Neive, which is a family run estate winery consisting of 150 acres located in the town of Neive, which is within the Lange DOC.   From the Montebertotto vineyard, the vines were planted in 1977 and sit in a calcareous marl soil.  The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks for 3 months, then bottle aged for another 3 months.  This wine had a straw color, with a crisp nose of fresh apples and pears.  It had good acidity on the palate along with a hint of honey, and a nice clean finish with a touch of almond.  I found it to be a very refreshing and enjoyable wine.  I could see this being paired with a variety of dishes, and even enjoyed on its own.  This was definitely a wine worth purchasing, and if you are not familiar with Arneis, I would recommend giving it a try it for sure.

Cheers,

Seth

Carmenere from the Cachapoal Valley

The other day I was in the mood for some Chilean Carmenere, and at my favorite local wine shop I came across a bottle of Carmenere from the Puemo area of the Cachapoal Valley.  This growing region is located within the Rapel sub-region of the Central Valley, and is known for red grapes, mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Carmenere. The Carmenere I tried was a 2009 from Santa Ema. I really thought this was a great bottle of wine. It had that distinct earthiness that is typical of many Chilean wines, and a nice finish of spicy raspberry.  For $12 this was a steal of a deal.

Santa Ema 2009 Carmenere

Santa Ema 2009 Carmenere

Another Chilean wine I thought was quite nice was a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva from Santa Rita.  This Cabernet was sourced from the Maipo Valley, which is the oldest growing region in Chile.  A sub-region of the Central Valley, the most widely planted red grape here is Cabernet Sauvignon.  The Maipo Valley benefits from ocean breezes and higher elevations, which provides cool growing conditions in many areas of the region. This wine also had a nice earthiness to it, with hints of spice and black cherry.  It was a well balanced full-bodied wine, and also was a great deal at $15.

There is a lot of good wine coming out of Chile these days,  and if you are a fan of Chilean wines, I definitely would recommend both of these.

Cheers!

Seth

Guenoc Wines

Another Lake County, California wine producer I’ve tried out is Langtry Estate & Vineyards.  This estate winery has a large estate (over 23,000 acres) that spans from Lake County to the Napa Valley. The winery at Langtry has been producing wine since 1981, and has a wide selection of wines. Langtry has two different labels that they produce; Langtry and Guenoc.  Most of the Guenoc wines are made with estate grown Guenoc Valley grapes.  Recently, I tried their 2009 Guenoc Petit Sirah.  This was a full-bodied wine with a deep purple color.  With aromas of toasty oak and ripe black fruit, it had a nice smooth finish with a hint of spicy blackberry.  Overall I thought this was a nice wine and for $15 it was definitely a great deal.

Guenoc 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Guenoc 2011 Sauvignon Blanc

Guenoc 2009 Petit Sirah

Guenoc 2009 Petit Sirah

I also tried  the Guenoc  2011 Sauvignon Blanc.  At $12, this was nicely balanced and had a nose of citrus and tropical fruit, and a finish that reminded me of fresh grapefruit.  It was quite a refreshing glass of wine, and paired nicely with seared sea scallops.  Both of these wines are very good and definitely worth checking out.  I’ve been impressed with wines from Lake County, CA thus far, and I’m looking forward to trying more.

Cheers,

Seth

Writer’s Block Petite Sirah

Recently Petite Sirah has been one of my favorite wines. Wines made from Petit Sirah typically are full bodied and peppery with deep color. One of the latest I’ve tried is Writer’s Block. This wine is produced by Steele Wines based in Kelseyville, CA. The winery is located in Lake County CA, which is in Northern California and is north of Napa Valley. Lake County is part of the North Coast AVA, but within Lake County are three smaller AVA’s; Clear Lake, Guenoc Valley, and Benmore Valley. A large portion of Lake County is taken up by Clear Lake, the largest natural lake in California. The most planted grape varietals in Lake County are Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel. But also others such as Petite Sirah are also planted. Steele wines has five different labels that includes a nice lineup of wines, ranging from well known varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot, to varietals like Aligote, Counoise, and Roussane.

Writer's Block 2009 Petite Sirah

Writer’s Block 2009 Petite Sirah


The Writer’s Block Petite Sirah I tried was a 2009, and I found it to be quite good. Presenting itself in a deep purple color, it had a nose of spicy ripe black fruit along with a hint of toasty oak. The wine was full-bodied with a good balance of acid and tannins, which was followed by a short but smooth finish with hints of spicy plum and raspberry. I really enjoyed this wine, and has been one of the better Petite Sirahs I’ve recently tried. I can see this being paired with a variety of foods, including grilled meats or a spicy pasta dish. So if you are looking for a big full-bodied red, I would say Writer’s Block Petite Sirah may just be what you’re looking for.

Cheers,

Seth

All About Syrah

Sequel Syrah, Yann Chave Crozes Hermitage, & Two Hands Shiraz

Sequel Syrah, Yann Chave Crozes Hermitage, & Two Hands Shiraz

I’m always in the mood for a glass of Syrah, and lately I’ve had the opportunity to try some good ones.  A while back at a family get-together we compared 3 different Syrahs: one each from Australia, Washington State, and France.  It was a chance to compare wines from three completely different terriors, as well as  comparing the old world versus the new world style of winemaking.  First up was a Shiraz from the Borossa Valley of Australia, a 2008 Two Hands Bella’s Garden Shiraz ($70, 14.8% ABV).  This one I have reviewed before, and it is very well made wine.  Full bodied with a nice flavor of blackberries and spice, it was a nice one to start with.  The second wine was A 2007 Sequal Syrah from the Long Shadows series of wineries ($30, 14.7%), out of the Columbia Valley of Washington State.  This was a full bodied wine as well, with a nice deep purple color.  Along with a good structure, it had aomas of blackberry and spicey oak.  It seemed to take a little while to open up, but it was a very good glass of wine.  The final wine was a 2010 Yann Chave Crozes Hermitage ($21, 13.5%), from the Rhone Valley of France. A Peter Weygandt selection ,this wine had a deep ruby red color to it with aromas of cherry and spice, and along with that the first sip yielded a nice earthiness, along with a smooth finish.  This wine also took a little while to open up, but when it did it certainly was good. This wine certainly seemed to be the most food friendly, and paired quite nicely with the rib steaks we were having. All three wines were well made, and it was hard to pick which one I liked best. The Australian and Washington State wines both were both of the new world winemaking style, full bodied with juicy fruit and spicy oak. The Crozes Hermitage comparatively was the old world; medium bodied with a earthy tones and and a smooth finish, and a little more food friendly. I would have to recommend them all, it just depends if you favor the old world or new world style of wine making.
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
Purple Star 2008 Syrah

Purple Star 2008 Syrah

Slope AVA and the Yakima Valley AVA. This wine had a smooth finish and aromas of blackberries and spicy vanilla.
Arbor Crest 2009 Syrah

Arbor Crest 2009 Syrah

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:)

Tempranillo from Costers Del Segre

Raimat 2007 Tempranillo

Raimat 2007 Tempranillo

I recently tried a great Tempranillo from Spain. Most of the time people think of Rioja or Ribera del Duero when thinking of good Spanish wine, but this wine came from a region known as Costers del Segre. Costers Del Segre was established as a DO (Denomination of Origin) in 1986, and is located in Northeastern Spain west of Barcelona. The region has a continental climate with long dry summers, which is ideal for growing grapes. This tempranillo was a 2007 produced by Raimat. Owned by Cordoniu, a large sparking wine firm located in Penedes, the wine estate was originally created by Manuel Raventos, who transformed 3,200 acres of stony land with an old castle into a successful vineyard. The castle was renovated and is currently the home of the Raventos family. Raimat also takes care of the land, and focuses on sustainable viticulture practices. The wine presented itself in a bright ruby red color, with spicy black fruit and a hint of smokiness on the nose. The wine had a good structure of acids and tannins with a spicy finish of blackberries and currents along with some more of that smokiness. It was a great glass of wine, and I think it would be great with a spicy dish, or grilled red meat. Aside from this Tempranillo, Raimat has a large range of wines to choose from, and I would definitely recommend checking them out.

Cheers!

Seth

The Loire Valley

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

2010 Sauvion Vouvray

2010 Sauvion Vouvray

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

2009 Saumur Champigny

2009 Saumur Champigny

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.

Cheers!

Seth

The Razor’s Edge

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 2008 Shiraz

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.

Cheers!

Seth

Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio

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

Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio

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.

Cheers!

Seth

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