Monthly Archives: February 2012

Beringer Founders’ Estate Merlot

Beringer is a California winery located in the Napa Valley and has been around since 1876.  This winery has been producing great wines over the years, and they have wide range of wines in their inventory that will fit just about every type of consumer, from beginning wine drinkers to the high end wine enthusiasts.  Tom Stevenson, author of Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia, gave them a nice write up in the encyclopedia and especially liked their Merlot, in particular the Founders’ Estate Merlot.  He considered the 2000 vintage to be quite good, and said that if all vintages were to be just as good, this wine could be considered to be one of the best California Merlots.  I have found Mr. Stevenson to be a great source when looking for the right wines, so I thought I would take his advice and give this one a try.  I was very impressed with this merlot, and definitely is one of the best California Merlots that I have recently tasted.  I tried out the 2009 version, and the wine had a nice medium purple color to it, with hints of vanilla and blackberry on the nose.  The first sip has nice smooth tannins, with spicy ripe blackberry and vanilla, and a silky smooth finish.  I found that the wine had a nice touch of oak that wasn’t overpowering, and the alcohol at 13.9% was just right.  This wine is typically under $10 retail, which is a pretty good deal.  Compared to the BV Merlot I tried recently, this wine seemed a little more full bodied and flavorful, and had a nice lingering finish to it.  So if you are in the mood for a good California Merlot, don’t hesitate to give Beringer Founders’ Estate a try.




Bordeaux Superieur and More

The Bordeaux region in France produces some of the best wines in the world, as well as some of the most expensive in the world.  However, there are a lot of good quality wines from Bordeaux that don’t require breaking the bank.  The other day I tried a 2009 Chateau Haut-La Pereyre, which is labeled as Bordeaux Superieur AOC.  The vast majority of the wine labeled as Bordeaux Superieur is produced in the Entre-Deux-Mers district in Bordeaux. Wines labeled as Bordeaux Superieur are considered a generic Bordeaux classification; however the wines are still very good in quality and value.  Although this is nothing like a Grand Cru, I still found it to be a nice easy drinking wine,  and it was easy on the pocket book at just over $12.  The blend is 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, and presents itself in a light purple color.  The nose lends a pleasant aroma of light cherry with hints of vanilla and mineral.  On the palate a nice light red fruit flavor with mild acids and tannins and a touch of earthiness, and leaves you with a nice smooth finish.  Another Bordeaux Superieur I tried a while back was Chateau Chabiran.  The 2006 I tasted had a garnet red color, with red berry aromas.  This was a lot more tannic then the Chateau Haut-La Pereyre, and it had some nice earthy tones to it as well.  Overall this was a good wine, and at a good price of only $13.  

Speaking of Bordeaux, Chateau Margaux is working on becoming organic, and is also considering alternative closures for its wine.

And speaking of organic, it seems the US and the EU seem to have a difference of opinion when it comes to the definition of organic wine.

All for now, TGIF!!



La Quercia Montepulciano D’Abruzzo

This past weekend I discovered a great little gem of a wine shop, The Wine Company of Moscow.  Where I live in Pullman, WA, there is a lack of wine shops, but just 8 miles away in neighboring Moscow, ID is where I found this place.  They have a wonderful selection of wines, and the prices are hard to beat.  There also happens to be a cheese counter there, which combined with great wine is always a bonus.  At this very place is where I picked up a bottle of La Quercia Estates Montepulciano D’ Abbruzzo.  Grown in the Abruzzi region of Italy, the Montepulciano grape makes some fantastic wines that are full bodied and flavorful, and are comprised of at least 85% Montepulciano, with Sangiovese making up the rest. The bottle I tried was the 2010 vintage, and it was a very nice wine.  This wine had a medium purple color to it, with light red fruit and hints of leather and mineral on the nose.  The first sip greats you with a flavor of light cherry along with a fine balance of tannins and acids, and leaves you off with that nice leathery mineral taste on the finish.  I paired this with pasta, and it was a perfect combination.  This wine would also be a great glass to relax with, or enjoyed in the company of good friends.



Washington Syrah and Other Links

I hope this Saturday has been good so far.  I found  a few interesting links and other news to pass along…

The wine market in Asia presents opportunity for growth, especially in China.  Here’s an interesting article about Moet-Hennessy’s latest business venture there.  The French Champagne producer has invested in vineyards  in southwestern China, and the wines produced there will be sold in the Chinese domestic market.  This has been a bit of a trend in recent years, as major wine brands have seen the booming Chinese economy as an excellent investment opportunity.  I would have to agree, since China is a huge market, and getting your foot in the door there could potentially equal a nice lucrative return.  

Here is a great article written by Graham Howe of the South African Wine Journal, about his recent trip to Argentina.  This is a country I plan on getting to someday soon…

And here is a nice article about pruning and other maintenance in an organic vineyard, with some good pictures to go along with it.

And now on to my latest round of wine reviews…   

 If you are in the mood for syrah, but don’t feel like spending a whole lot of cash, there are some Washington State producers that make a pretty decent wine for a decent price.  The other day I decided to try out a 2007 Syrah made by Snoqualmie.  I have tried several of there wines, but never the syrah.  I was impressed for what I got for $7.  This wine had a nice tannic structure to it, with a pleasant nose of cherry with a hint of black licorice.  It had a finish of spicy black cherry and a hint of blackberry with just the right amount of oak. The wine also had a bit of an earthiness to it that I liked.  Another good syrah is the Columbia Crest 2 Vines Shiraz.  For $6 this 2005 had a nice ruby red color to it with ripe blackberry and plum on the nose, and had a very jammy, fruity finish, almost reminiscent of an Australian Shiraz.  Also, Covey Run puts out a Syrah that is a good value.  This was also a 2005, and had hints of dark fruits and spice on the nose, with mild tannins & acids, and a decent fruity finish.  Out of the three I think I liked the Covey Run the least, this bottle tasted like it may have been past its prime, but overall not a bad buy at $6.

Enjoy the weekend!



A Couple of Central Coast Chardonnays

The Central Coast AVA encompasses a large area in California, that basically streches from San Francisco Bay to Santa Barbara County.  There are many smaller AVAs located within the Central Coast, one of them being Monterey County AVA .  Located in the northern part of the Central Coast, most of the vineyards are located in the Salinas Valley, and Chardonnay is the most planted grape, at around 36,000 acres.  Estancia is an estate winery located in Monterey County in Acampo, CA.  They have a nice selection of wines, and I recently tried their 2009 Chardonnay.  Overall the wine had some nice characteristics; it was light gold in color with hints of toasty oak and ripe apple on the nose, and had a nice smooth, crisp flavor of apples on the finish with a nice balance of tannins and acids.  However, I do think there was just a little too much oak in the wine,  which at times seemed just a bit overpowering.   Another Central Coast Chardonnay I tried was Firefly Ridge, which is a private label wine for Safeway stores and is located in Livermore, CA, within the Livemore Valley AVA.  This 2009 was actually a pretty decent wine.  It also had a nice nose of fresh apples with more of a lighter straw color, and on the finish more of that fresh apple with a touch of citrus.  Again however, it also seemed to have a little too much oak.  I’m not huge fan of really oaky chardonnays, and I think just touch of oak can do the trick most of the time.  But if you don’t mind a heavy dose of toasty oak in your chardonnay, then either one of these wines would be a fine choice.

In other developments…

It appears the “Sideways Effect” has been reversed in California.

Asian thirst for French wine and spirits has helped France to a record year.

And here’s an interesting new glassware design, looks like it has the potential to be a bit challenging to drink from after a few glasses…

Have a great rest of the week!



Hedges CMS Red and More

I tried an interesting blend last night, the Hedges CMS  red blend.  The majority of red blends I’ve tried are typically made with Bordeaux varietals, however for this one Hedges threw in some Syrah, 16% to be exact.  The grapes used in this wine were from the Columbia Valley, and overall I thought the wine was pretty good.  This 2009 has a very dark purple color to it, and I sensed hints of spice and ripe plum on the nose.  On the palate it was pretty easy going, with smooth tannins and acids, and a left off with a decent finish.  I can definitely detect the syrah in the wine, and it does give it a unique taste, which is a nice change from the norm.  For $9 it’s not a bad buy.   

 While sipping on my glass of Hedges CMS, I read an interesting article  about how heavy wine packaging (particularly glass bottles) is a big contributor to the carbon footprint of the wine industry.  This is especially true for long distance shipping.  The article mentioned several alternative packaging types, such more light weight glass bottles, plastic bottles, Tetra Pak, and most interestingly, kegs.  Kegs would be most beneficial to wine bars and tasting rooms, as they can keep wine fresh for extended periods of time.  I know a few people who have tried “draft” wine, and have told me that there really is not much of a difference if any. 

One form of packaging that was not mentioned in the article but brought up in a comment is aluminum cans.  The individual who commented about aluminum packaging happened to be the brand manager for Elkan wines, a Chilean winery.  Elkan is a producer that strictly uses cans as packaging for their wines. It is a cheaper alternative to glass, and is also the most recycled material in the world.  I just so happened to have had the opportunity to try their product a little while back, and I must say for wine out of a can it was quite good.  I tried the 2008 Carmenere, and it was a nice smooth drinking wine with a fruity finish.  I’m not sure about the aging potential of the aluminum can, but it seems like an ideal alternative to glass.  I guess as long as any type of alternative packaging doesn’t harm the quality of the wine then I’m all for it, especially if it is beneficial to the environment.

Other exciting wine news…

 Israel is battling the assumption that any wine made there is nothing but sweet and kosher. I tried some Israeli wine a couple of years ago and was impressed.

Here is an odd story where a store in the UK was caught selling fake wine.

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



Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon

I hope the week has been good thus far, it is now the halfway point!

Chile is a country that has been producing some magnificent wines in recent years.  One very distinctive quality that I really enjoy about these wines is the earthy and mineral characteristics that come particularly with the reds, which makes them very enjoyable.  I recently tried a Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2010 made by Santa Rita.  It is called 120 Cabernet Sauvignon, in honor of 120 legendary patriots who fought for the independence of Chile, and also used the wine cellars of Santa Rita as a place of refuge.   This wine is produced from the Central Valley, which is one of the most important growing regions in Chile.  The wine has a deep purple color to it, and on the nose earthy tones with spicy black fruit.  The first sip has smooth tannins with blackberry and a nice earthy finish.  It was a great deal at only $7, and I would definitely recommend it.  It would be great with red meat, or even enjoyed in good company by itself. 

Another great Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon is made by Los Vascos, which is owned by Domaines Barons De Rothschild out of France.  With vineyards located in the Colchagua Valley, this winery is always putting out great reliable wines.  This 2006 I tried does not have quite the same earthiness to it as the Santa Rita, but is still a great wine and leaves you with a nice finish of black cherry and plum, with balanced tannins and acids.

All for now, stay tuned…



Friday Night Notes

Happy Friday to everyone, I hope it has been a good one so far..

 One of my recent wine tastings led me to a Merlot made by BV Coastal Estates.  I had tried their Cabernet Sauvignon a while back, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to try out their Merlot.  This 2009 had a medium purple color to it, with hints of spicy black currant on the nose.  On the palate mellow tannins and acids with ripe dark fruit and a hint of toasty oak.  Nothing too overpowering about this wine, and it was not as oaky as I would have expected from a California Merlot.  This was a nice easy drinking wine.  Now compared to the Duck Pond Merlot I tried earlier, there were some differences. The BV Merlot was a very mellow wine, whereas the Duck Pond had much more structure in the way of tannin & acids, and a more pronounced but not overpowering oak.  I personally like wines with more structure, so I would choose the Duck Pond over the BV.  However, if you are not in the mood for a big tannic wine, than the more mellow BV would be more your style.  These two wines are of course from different regions; the BV from California and Duck Pond from Washington, so right away you get totally different terroir, and of course different wine making styles from each vintner.  And in the end, it really all depends on what style/region that you prefer.  Either way, both wines are great for the price, and you won’t be disappointed.

 A couple other bits to pass along…

The SF Gate has a great list of Napa Valley Zinfandel to recommend.

A cinema company has just come up with something inconceivable, Princess Bride wine.




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