Monthly Archives: January 2012

Arbor Crest Sauvignon Blanc

I always enjoy a nice, crisp Sauvignon Blanc.  Normally a great wine for sitting outside in the summer heat, but also not a bad choice on a cold winter night.  The other day I noticed a Sauvignon Blanc made by Arbor Crest was on sale for $10 retail, so I decided to give it a whirl.  This 2010 was made with grapes from the Bacchus Vineyard in the Columbia Valley of Washington State.  The wine presented itself in a clear pale yellow color, with a nose of fresh citrus.  The first sip yielded a crisp flavor of pink grapefruit, and left off with a nice pleasant finish.  It’s a great wine to relax and enjoy the evening with.  Also, if you happen to be in the Spokane, WA area, Arbor Crest is a superb place to spend the day tasting some great wines.  The winery is on a bluff overlooking the SpokaneValley, and is a nice spot to relax and soak in the view, as well as some wine:)  I would definitely recommend it. 

Other fun stuff…

New Zealand is famous for it’s Sauvignon Blanc,  but recently kicked off the first “Summer of Riesling“.  Sounds like a good time to be in New Zealand!

The Super Bowl seems mostly like a beer occasion, but here are some great suggestions for pairing wine with all that game day food.

That’s all for now…




Duck Pond Merlot and More

I’m glad it’s finally Friday:)  I hope the evening is treating everyone good so far…

 I tried a Merlot made by Duck Pond Cellars the other day, and it was a fantastic bottle of wine.  Duck Pond Cellars is located in Dundee, Oregon, but the winery sources  grapes from both Oregon and Washington.  The grapes used to make this 2009 Merlot came from the Desert Wind Vineyard in the Wahluke Slope AVA.  This Merlot has a nice dark ruby red color to it, and on the nose an aroma of black cherry with hints of toasty oak and smoke.  It is structured nicely on the palate with a good balance of acids and tannins, and finishes nicely with a flavor of black cherry and a perfect compliment of oak.  The alcohol at 14.5% sounds high, but balances out nicely in the wine.  At $8 this is a Merlot you won’t be disappointed with.

Another Washington State Merlot I thought was quite good is Hogue Genesis.  I tried the 2006 recently, and it was a very impressive wine.  This wine had a clear cherry red color to it, and also had a nice fragrance of black cherry on the nose.  The first sip on the palate had a nice balance of tannins and acids, with the right amount of toasty oak, and leaves you with a nice elegant finish.  At $14, this was a great buy.  Covey Run also makes a nice Columbia Valley Merlot.  This winery is consistently churning out good value wines, and their 2007 Merlot I tried is no exception.  This had a clear ruby red color with a pleasant nose of raspberry and other light red fruits.  On the palate light tannin and acids with a nice smooth fruity finish.  This is a great value at $6 retail.     

 Other exciting stuff….

The SF Gate has an excellent list of 2010 German Reislings to recommend.

Shelly Boettcher of the Calgary Herald recommends some red wines for when it’s cold at night.

That’s all for now, have a great night!



Washington State Chardonnay and Other Notes

  I always enjoy a good Chardonnay, and there are some really good ones being produced here in Washington State. 

 One I tried this weekend is made by Snoqualmie Vineyards, and was a great buy at $6 retail.  The 2009 I tried has a pale straw color to it, with a hint of oak and aromas of fresh fruit on the nose.  On the palate I got a nice refreshing flavor of  ripe melon along with a bit of tropical fruit.  Along with a good balance of acids and tannins it leaves you with a nice  smooth finish.  A cool note to pass along about Snoqualmie is their sustainable viticultural practices, and they also have their own line of certified organic wines.

Another good Chardonnay I would recommend is made by Arbor Crest Cellars  in Spokane, WA.  A good bargain at $10 retail, their 2009 has a pale gold color with hints of fresh crisp apples on the nose, and a nice crisp finish of apricot and mellow oak.  Last but not least, Waterbrook has a nice Chardonnay as well. This 2008 I tried has a nice light straw color to it, with a hint of citrus on the nose, and a finish of fresh ripe apples with just the right touch of oak.  For a retail price of $7.50, it was a good deal. 

 Other news in the wine world…

Two of the biggest wine corporations in the world, Gallo and Constellation, have just settled a class action lawsuit dealing with fake Pinot Noir.

Here is an interesting article written by Jon Bonne of the SF Gate, about what he thinks are 5 things about wine to look out for in 2012.   The one I find most intriguing is about issues facing the European wine industry.

And from the world of food,  here’s a cool article from Food & Wine featuring the best grilled cheese sandwiches in the U.S.

 Have a great Sunday!


Thursday Night News

Hope everyone is having a great Thursday, I’m pretty much buried in snow at the moment, but I found a few interesting news notes to pass along…

The topic of wine closures has always been controversial.  Many people believe that natural cork is the best form of closure.  Others will say that synthetic cork and screw caps are the way to go, claiming that too many bottles with natural cork become tainted with TCA, or become “corked.” A lot of money has been invested in synthetic closures and screw caps in recent years. It is difficult to say which option is really the best; there have been many studies done to prove or disprove that one enclosure is better or worse than the other.  Just as long as they don’t get rid of corks altogether, natural or synthetic.  There is something about the pop of the cork that makes a bottle of wine that much more enjoyable…anyways, here is an interesting article about a new synthetic wine closure, with a short video as well.

 The Spanish wine region of Rueda is known for white wines made from the Verdejo grape.  Located  northwest of Madrid, the climactic conditions in Rueda  are very favorable for growing Verdejo and other grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc and Palomino.  The wines produced in this region are fresh and crisp with good aromatic qualities.  An article today predicts the wines of Rueda may rival the white wines of New Zealand.    

 Here is an interesting bit which points out that of the top 100 wineries in Germany, 20 of them produce wines that are organic or biodynamic.

Have a great night!

Dona Paula Wines

One of my favorite wine regions is Argentina, and especially the excellent Malbec wines that are produced there.  Argentina is the fifth largest wine producing nation in the world, and Malbec is the king of grapes grown there.  There are a lot of great Malbec wines being produced in Argentina, especially in the region of Mendoza. Mendoza is the most famous wine producing region in Argentina, and over 75% of the country’s wine is produced there. 

 One particular producer from Mendoza that consistently puts out great wine is Dona Paula.  The winery has over 500 acres of vineyards, all of which are over 3,500 feet in altitude. The altitude combined with soils comprised of clay, stone and sand, contribute to the deep complex colors and high acidity found in the red wines produced here.  One cool fact about this winery is it practices sustainable agriculture, and is working hard to incorporate organic methods of agriculture to become as environmentally friendly as possible.

I recently tried a Dona Paula Malbec, the 2010 Los Cardos.  This had a nice medium purple color to it, and on the nose ripe black fruit with some earthy spiciness.  On the palate this wine has a nice structure of balanced tannins and acids, with hints of blackberry and dark chocolate.  

Another great wine produced by Dona Paula is a Shiraz-Malbec blend.  The 2008 vintage is composed of 60%Shiraz and 40% Malbec.  For the visual aspect, it is a clear purple in color, and on the nose it has spicy notes of dark red fruit. One the palate, the spicy dark fruit is very perceivable, with mild tannins, and a smooth spicy blackberry and plum finish.  Both of these wines would be great with beef, or even alone they make an excellent glass of wine.  Another great quality of these wines is the price.  At $8 for the Los Cardos Malbec and $14 for the Shiraz Malbec, it makes the experience that much better.



Friday Wine Reviews and News

 It’s Friday the 13th, hopefully you are all having a a great evening so far…

Tamarack Cellars is a winery based in Walla Walla, WA that has a great red blend known as Firehouse Red.  They threw just about everything in the pot when making this wine (39% cab sauv, 23% syrah, 12% merlot, 11% cab franc, 6% malbec, 5% sangiovese, 2% zinfandel, 1% petit verdot, and 1% carmenere) and the finished product is nothing short of excellent.  The grapes for this 2009 vintage were sourced out of the Columbia Valley.  This glass of wine had a nice deep reddish purple color to it, and on the nose I got black fruit with hints of spice and oak.  On the palate the wine has nice tannins, with spicy black cherry, blackberry and and nice smooth finish.  This is a very well structured wine, and the alcohol at a touch under 14% at 13.92%, balances it out nicely.  There are no overpowering aspects of the wine, and it makes for a very enjoyable glass.  I would say this would go nicely with a grilled steak or a rib roast.  Definitely one of the best Washington State red blends I have had, and a great deal for the $14 I paid for it.  

 If you have already tried the Firehouse Red, another red blend out of the Columbia Valley you might like is the Desert Wind Ruah.  I purchased this 2008 for $12, and it is a nice Bordeaux blend of 40% cab sauv, 15% cab franc, and 45% merlot.  It has a nose of black cherry with a hint of vanilla, and on the palate blackberry with a note of coffee, and comes with soft tannins and acids and leaves you off with an excellent  finish.  The alcohol is a bit higher at 14.5%, but it also balances out nicely in the wine.  

 Not in the mood for red? Tamarack Cellars also has a great chardonnay.  I tried the 2008 vintage, and it was quite pleasant.  It has a nose of ripe red apples with a hint of oak, and the palate has good acids with flavors of crisp apples and a nice creamy finish.  At $14 it’s a great buy.

 Other news in the wine world:

 There has been a lot of talk over the last couple of days about the news of a wine researcher being accused of fraud.  This University of Connecticut professor had published studies about the health benefits of wine consumption. 

China has become a large wine market, and according to a source has just overtaken the U.K. as the no. 5 wine consuming nation in the world.  On a similar note, the U.S. has moved into the top spot ahead of France and Italy as the world’s top wine market.

Chile produces some great wines, and now is aiming to become one of the best when it comes to sustainable viticulture. 

That does it for now, have a great night!



Tuesday Evening News

I hope the week has been good to everyone so far, tomorrow is Wednesday, so the work week is almost to the halfway point!

 Normally when I think about Chenin Blanc, the first thing that comes to mind is the Loire region of France.  But South Africa produces quite a bit of Chenin Blanc themselves.  Also known down there as Steen, this white wine grape can make some great flavorful wines.  An interesting article in the South African wine news talks about the work being done on this grape and also gives a list of producers that will be featured in their news this month.  I tried a Chenin Blanc from South Africa a while back, and I was impressed.  This 2009 produced by Essay, was clean and crisp with flavors of melon and tropical fruits.  And at a price of $8, it was quite a deal. 

 I also recently ran across an interesting press release which concerned sales of sparkling wine in the United States.  According to report, Americans are drinking more sparkling wine then ever, and aside from domestic sparkling wine, Cava and Prosecco (sparkling wines of Spain and Italy) are quickly gaining in popularity.  

At  the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition two award winners were wines produced in Washington State.  Barnard Griffin’s 2011 Rose of Sangiovese and a 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon from Milbrant Vineyards came away with victories.  Congrats!

All for now…



Sunday Evening Notes

I’ts hard to believe the weekend is already just about over; who was in charge of making weekends only 2 days long?  Anyways,  I tried out a cabernet sauvignon this weekend from California that was pretty decent.   There is a lot of great cabernet sauvignon that comes out of California, most famously from Napa and Sonoma. This particular cab made by BV Coastal Estates, sources there grapes from the Napa Valley, most notably from Rutherford AVA and Carneros AVA.  This particular vintage was a 2009, and was overall a good easy drinking wine.  It had a nice ruby red color to it, with ripe jammy black fruit on the nose.  The same black fruit was on the palate with pleasant tannins and acids.  It was easy to sense the oak, but it wasn’t too overpowering and actually balanced out the wine pretty nicely.  The 13.5% alcohol was just right for this wine.  I paired this with some pasta, and it turned out to be a pretty good fit.      

The winery itself was started by Georges de Latour back in 1900,  and has a pretty cool story to it as well.

 In other exciting news…

 This link is actually from a couple of weeks ago, but I found it interesting. I found it in the Organic Wine Journal, and it features a wine bar in New York City that is all about organic and biodynamic wines.  Sounds like a pretty cool place if you ask me!

This interesting bit is about the wine industry in Pennsylvania of all places.

Hope everyone has a great  start to the week!


The weekend is here!

Welcome to the weekend!  I’m sure glad it’s here and I hope that you all are having a great Saturday thus far.  I tasted a viognier last night, so I thought I’d start off the day with a few notes on viognier…

 Viognier is a white wine grape that when vinified just right can produce excellent wines with great aromatics.  Some of the best viognier in the world comes from the Northern Rhone region inFrance, especially the appellations of Condrieu and Chateau Grillet.  In the Rhone appellation of Cote Rotie,  some syrah vineyards are interplanted with small amounts of viognier, which produces some amazing wines.  In the United States most viognier acreage can be found in California,  and Washington State currently has close to 400 acres of viognier planted.

Last night I tried a Washington State Viognier, a 2008 made by Zefina.  Zefina is an estate winery in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA, which as an AVA has a good reputation for excellent fruit and a lot of good wines are produced there.  This viognier definitely had some nice aromatics, as I could get scents of ripe apple and pear on the nose, as well as on the palate. Unfortunately it seemed that the wine was just a little overpowering with oak.  I like a little oak in my white wines, and even a touch on viognier is ok, but this seemed to have just a little too much, enough to overwhelm the fruity aromas that the wine was trying to display.  The alcohol on this vintage came in at 14.3%, which is quite high in my opinion, and there was no problem detecting it  as the finish was a bit too hot, and was also a contributing factor in inhibiting some of the aromas that were present in the wine.  There are definitely many people out there that like a lot of oak and high alcohol in their wine.  But for me I just think that a little less oak can go a long way.  However I’ll be sure to try Zefina again in the future to see how the next vintage fairs to my taste, sometimes it’s all about the year!

In other recent developments…

The English are not well known for their wine making, but recently English sparking wine (yes, that’s grown and made in England) seems to be quite the poplar drink in the UK at the moment.

There are quite a few biodynamic and organic vineyards around the world.  Here is a video of biodynamic viticulture in action in Spain.

That’s all for now, have a great weekend!



Wine Review: Tapena 2010 Tempranillo

While searching for a wine to celebrate New Year’s Eve with, I was thinking about bubbles, but was more in the mood for something red, so I decided on Tapena’s 2010 Tempranillo from Spain.  Tempranillo just happens to be one of my favorite grapes, and in my opinion produces some of the best red wines.  At $9, this particular tempranillo was definitely a bargain.  Hailing from the Tierra de Castilla region, this tempranillo is clear with a reddish-purple color to it.  On the nose I get a fragrance of ripe red fruit and a little earthiness.  The first sip on the palate yields an earthy complexion of spicy red fruit with balanced tannins, and ends with a nice smooth finish.  The alcohol comes in at 13.5%, which is perfect for a wine like this. I paired this with grilled skirt steak, which worked out nicely.  Or if you’re just looking to enjoy a glass of wine, you won’t be disappointed.

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