Bastille Day, French Wine and Whole Foods Market

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Happy Bastille Day!

 

July 14th the annual La Fête Nationale celebration in France or Bastille Day as it is mostly known in English-speaking countries is upon us once again and we have another holiday to drink wine to. To quote myself from Bastille Day 2012:   let’s drink some French wine!

 

Garrigues Ventoux @whinecheerswine2014Today’s choice, the Ventoux Soleil des Garrigues 2012, comes to us via Whole Foods Market Summer Top 10 program.  On-line information from Wiki tells us:

Ventoux AOC (formerly Côtes du Ventoux AOC) is a wine-growing AOC in the southeastern region of the Rhône wine region of France, where the wines are produced in 51 communes of the Vaucluse département along the lower slopes of the Ventoux mountain and at the foot of the Vaucluse Mountains. Archeological discoveries of wine making equipment have dated that wine has been produced in the area at least since around 30 AD.

This Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault  blend is what I would describe and recommend as a perfect Summer red: light bodied and fruity. Also great for fans of Pinot Noirs and even Beaujolais.

Whole Foods describes it as; aromatic with black fruit, spices and sweet cherry. Minerality and sweet anise show in this easy-to-sip Red blend. Soft tannins gently round out the finish.

BASTILLE DAYThis well-balanced blend of fruit, spice and pepper is a great way to not only celebrate Bastille Day and the warm days ahead but dare I say also a match for upcoming turkey holiday meals.

The year is flying by and hopefully the Ventoux Soleil des Garrigues, priced at $9.99 will not be “gobbled” up by November. Sorry I couldn’t resist :)

¡SALUD!

 

Organic Wine – Heller Estate Organic Vineyards: Chenin Blanc

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Heller Estate Chenin Blanc

Heller Estate Chenin Blanc

 

The Heller Estate Organic Vineyards are located in the Cachagua (Hidden Springs) region of Carmel Valley, Monterey California.

Officially certified 100% organic by the state of California I appreciate the fact that they offer a copy of the actual certificate on their web-site.  I had never seen one before.

For certification the winemakers and property have to follow methods such as; no use of pesticides. Interestingly no herbicides are employed, and the desired results are accomplished by using the organic matter left following the crushing and pressing of grapes, which is then spread in the middle of the vineyard rows in order to build the matter content of the vineyard soil. Weeds are controlled by the use of cover crops providing a habitat for insects and spiders which are beneficial.  These grapes are also dry-farmed, little to no irrigation is used.

I originally became a fan of Chenin Blanc when I discovered one of France’s earliest official A.O.C. [Appellation d'origine controlee] Vouvray: a white wine region of France’s Loire Valley Touraine district where Chenin Blanc is known as Pineau de la Loire. I later also came to enjoy the Chenin Blanc of South Africa where I was surprised to learn it is the most widely planted varietal and also known as Steen.

This all brings us to California where according to on-line sources:

-During the 1980’s California had more acreage of Chenin Blanc planted than France.

-For most of its history in California the grape was considered a “workhorse variety” that could be used anonymously in bulk and jug blends, ideally partnered with Colombard and Chardonnay.

Luckily for us this changed in the early 2000’s when plantings declined and quality increased.  Heller’s original plantings were done in 1968 with production starting in 1976. The organic certification was granted in 1996 after three vintages of clean farming. The vineyard encompasses 120 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir at an altitude of 1,200-1,500 feet.

As one would come to expect the wines from France are old-world in style, leaning towards soft and delicate.  South Africa and California come across as new-world, filled with boldness and intensity.

My tasting notes included:

On the nose; floral [honeysuckle] with melon [green melon and cantaloupe], pineapple, stone fruit with aromas getting stronger in minutes most likely caused by the warming room temperature.  Medium bodied. On the palate; honeysuckle, melon, tropical fruits such as lychee and soursop with some of the 13.7 % alcohol detectable along with mouth-watering acidity.

Winemaker notes:

Aroma; Honeydew melon, guava and mineral notes with lime and nectarine highlights.  Also look for nice touches of floral components (honeysuckle/narcissus). Palate; Immediate, luscious mouth feel that envelopes followed by perfectly balanced acid components. Flavors of green apple, quince and citrus abound. Lingering mid-palate that extends nicely into a flavor packed finish with just the right touch of bright acidity.

I was very pleased with this wine which is priced in the $18-$25.00 range.   So much so that I would happily serve it again and recommend it to our customers.  We paired ours with ginger grilled swordfish, roasted potatoes and spinach. I especially like the fact that it comes from organic grapes. A fact that automatically garners some wine buyers yet seems to turn others off.  A sort of generalized stigma is applied by some to “organic” wines.  A fact I do not understand and a fact that should not be applied in this case.

¡SALUD!  To fighting the good fight.

Chateau Le Cacheflo 2010 – Tobin James

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Tobin James 2010 Chateau Le Cacheflo

 

A recent wine discovery, this red blend out of Paso Robles has been a big hit with all of whom I have shared it with. At the store it is a hand sell due to it not being well-known. At home it’s an easy pour,  I am surrounded by wine lovers.  Our mantra should be POUR. Which is actually not a bad idea for t-shirts….

Sunday Supper a few weeks back found the Chateau Le Cacheflo winning the popularity contest among four or five other wines brought by the afore-mentioned vino lovers. Other good red blends were in attendance but the Cacheflo was the best balanced with intricate flavor layers worth pondering.

I was originally introduced to the wines of Tobin James by the Sommelier at Morton’s Steak House – North Miami Beach via their Cabernet Sauvignon.  It left a mark.  Months later when I realized Tobin James was approved for sale at Whole Foods Market I could not have been happier.Tobin James 2009 Cabernet

The blend is reported to be; Syrah, Barbera and Sangiovese. What is referred to by the winemaker as Mediterranean varietals.  Prior to researching I listed Syrah/Shiraz, Sangiovese and possibly Malbec on the nose. Now I see that the Barbera is what most likely gives this wine its body and richness.

I believe I have now had the Cacheflo at least three times in as many weeks. Glad to report; it was worthy every time. The name itself is a play on CASH FLOW. Originally started as a way of making wine under his own label from available left-over grapes and a way to get the cash to flow.  Their Zinfandel started this way too. With excess grapes a grower needed to move.  Tobin James worked his magic into an award-winning wine and launched Tobin James Cellars.

My notes:

Resilient legs [14.8% ALC]. On the nose; fruit forward [casis, blackberry], jammy, spices [nutmeg, vanilla], tobacco box, cedar and even tar [in a good way].

On the palate; a WOW at first sip, red and dark fruit [black cherry] well-balanced, robust, mouth-watering medium acidity.  A cherry finish with fruit softening and delicate wood appearing.

To learn more about Tobin James check out PasoWine.com where you can find out about his humble wine beginnings, becoming the founding wine maker at Peachy Canyon and recently being awarded the 2010 PASO ROBLES WINE INDUSTRY PERSON OF THE YEAR.

At a retail price of $15.99 or less this easy drinker is a great example of what an everyday to some, weekend wine to others, should be.  This is a welcome addition to Whole Foods Market North Miami and my home cellar. Yes, still the guest room after all these years.

¡SALUD!

 

Notes from the Winemaker: 

Paso Robles is one of the most unique growing areas in the world. So many varietals excel here that the focus has been on the production of great red wines.

In keeping with this great tradition, the wine community has discovered that the Mediterranean varietals flourish and develop distinct and unequivocal character in Paso Robles. This wonderful blend of Mediterranean varietals includes; Syrah, Sangiovese and Barbera.

Year after year Tobin James has produced this Highly acclaimed “Cache-flo” for you to enjoy with just about anything!

 

 

 

Wine Discovery of the Week – DiamAndes 2012 Perlita Malbec-Syrah

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Perlita by @WhineAndCheersForWine

Perlita 2012

One of the perks of my job as a Wine Buyer is that I am regularly offered new products to taste and carry at our store. Of course these visits by our distributors can go either way. But every once in a while a wine leaves its mark. That is exactly what happened as I discovered this pearl.

Among four or five wines tasted including high-end Pinot Noirs and a unoaked Chardonnay, the Perlita  [little pearl in spanish] 2012 Malbec-Syrah blend from Argentina was for me the instant hit.

 

From Wines of Argentina:

It’s in 1999 that Michel Rolland along with 6 other Bordeaux winemakers founded the Clos de los Siete : an innovative and unique concept : More than 850 hectares divided in 7 plots, each one with its own winery. The vineyard is located in Mendoza, in the heart of the Uco valley, one of the best quality vineyard areas in Argentina. In 2005, the Bonnie family, owners of the renowned Grand Cru Classé Château Malartic-Lagravière, and its neighboring Pessac-Léognan Château Gazin Rocquencourt became part of this Argentinean adventure. Through the purchase, along with their partners, of a single estate of 130 hectares within the Clos de Los Siete, Bodega DiamAndes was born.

The 2012 Perlita is 80% Malbec 20% Syrah harvested April 3rd-15th and aged [100%] 10 months in french oak. Having never experienced such a blend I was very impressed with how each varietal improved upon each other. The Malbec spice balanced out the Syrah richness of fruit.

My notes;

Deep dark rich burgundy purple in color. At 14.5% ALC I was surprised to not see much legs on the glass at first but somehow they seemed to develop and linger in mere minutes. Dark fruit and tobacco on the nose. On the palate; good and noticeable acidity, fruit forward [blackberry] yet balanced with spice [vanilla]. Medium plus body with medium tannins.

As you can probably imagine this wine is now sitting proudly on our shelves at Whole Foods Market North Miami.  I am pretty sure I would have brought this wine in anyway but the deciding factor was its price. Usually available under $20 it is presently on-sale for $13.99. I will excitedly be introducing this wine to our customers who tend to lean towards fruit forward but well-balanced wines. Having bought  a couple of bottles for our cellar just last week: it may already be time to replenish.  ¡SALUD!  To discovering the pearls in life!

 

 

Technical info from Bodega Diamandes:

130 hectares
Terroir: Clay and sand with a a large quantity of pebbles. In the Uco Valley, in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, at an altitude of 1100 m.
Planting density: 5 500 plants per ha
Vine care: Vertical trellising, green harvest, handed leaf thinning
Harvest: Handed picking with small crates, cooling in cold room, handed double sorting. No crushing
Vinification: Entirely gravity-operated process. Gentle extractions with fractional pumping over; slow, fermentation kinetics at low temperatures.
64 small temperature-controlled stainless steel vats (isolated with a double jacket). Unique in South America !
Consultant Oenologist: Michel Rolland

Whole Foods Market Point of Origin – Italy / Verrazzano Rosso

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Amidst the excitement of our latest wine program at Whole Foods Market; Point of Origin / Italy, I was able to sit down and spend some time with this 2012 Tuscan red.

Verrazzano Toscana Rosso

Copyright 2014 Whine and Cheers for Wine

Wines from Italy Whole Foods Market – Verrazano Rosso

Reading about the Verrazzano Castle and vineyards on their web-site I was surprised to find that official documents of the XIVth century describe the vineyards and the olive groves of Verrazzano. Giovanni da Verrazzano, celebrated navigator and discoverer of the bay of New York and the majority of the east coast of America, was born here in 1485. The famous bridge in New York was named after him in 1964. Proud to say I have had the honor of experiencing the Verrazzano Bridge first hand.

 

 

Notes from Whole Foods Market:

This compelling Red from the Chianti Classico region revives the old tradition of including white grapes (Trebbiano and Malvasia) in the blend, softening the vibrant juice of the red grapes. Complex aromas of youthful fresh fruits and violets. Tuscan herbs, black currant and pomegranate flavors move to a smooth finish. 

This wine using mostly Sangiovese with lesser quantities of Canaiolo, Trebbiano, Malvasia and Merlot was produced in Greve, Chianti. The soil is mostly limestone and the harvesting is done by hand. The ten month aging process was done in large Slavonian oak barrels followed by 3 months in bottle. For additional information on Slavonian oak check out Dr. Vinny of Wine Spectator by clicking here.

My notes:

On the nose; red fruit, floral [violet] and some vanilla with light resinous wood [oak, vanilla]. On the palate I found that this light/medium bodied wine had a very nice fruity balance and paired wonderfully with a tomato sauce based dish we were having.  As the wine opened and breathed it was interesting to note the fading of the fruit to the background with a peppery spiciness evolving to the forefront. Both aspects were welcomed.

I enjoyed the fact that this wine had character as it developed.  I have found myself recommending it to customers ever since. More importantly we’re experiencing customers returning for repeat purchases. Regularly priced at about $16.00 and sometimes available as low as $12.00 this new wine for Whole Foods Market North Miami is being discovered quickly.  To new wine discoveries!  ¡SALUD!

 

Winemaker notes:

Eclectic and dynamic red wine, ruby-red colour with purplish reflexes, very harmonic taste, round, of good intensity with fragrant notes of flowers and red fruits. Attractive, pleasant wine, well suited to contemporary “fusion” cuisine.
Alcohol: 13,50% vol

All a~ Twitter About Wine

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Famille Perrin Chateauneuf du Pape 2009

Famille Perrin Chateauneuf du Pape 2009

As of late I have found myself posting photographs of wines I have enjoyed via social media. This has allowed me to share with others the wines I am discovering when time is not available for an extensive Whine and Cheers post. Many of these wines I hope to write about some day but that day has not yet come.

Chateau Vignot Saint Emilion 2007

Chateau Vignot Saint Emilion 2007

TwitterFacebook or Instagram are great ways for me to also keep a visual public record of my imbibing.  In fact this site was partly started because of a year-long wine diary my better half and I began about four years ago. Social media is my new wine diary. Yes it can be a crutch [not writing] but it is also a wonderful way to share information and start conversations. So with this said, I present my photo journey of wines enjoyed but not written about [yet!] over the last couple of months. Wines that made me all atwitter. So much so that they were recorded for posterity.  ¡SALUD!

Mistela Moscatel Turrin Valencia Spain

Mistela Moscatel Turrin Valencia Spain

Domaine Des Velanges 2012

Domaine Des Velanges 2012

H&G Priorat

H&G Priorat

Pascual Toso Alta 2011 Malbec

Pascual Toso Alta 2011 Malbec

Siesta Tahuan 2010 Malbec

Siesta Tahuan 2010 Malbec

Quintessa Napa Red Wine

Quintessa Napa Red Wine

Y3 Napa Chardonnay 2011

Y3 Napa Chardonnay 2011

Bernier Chardonnay

Bernier Chardonnay

Chateau Castel des Maures Cotes de Provence Rose' 2010

Chateau Castel des Maures Cotes de Provence Rose’ 2010

Verse and Chorus Napa Red Wine 2012

Verse and Chorus Napa Red Wine 2012

Flowers 2011 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Flowers 2011 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir

Giesta Dao 2010 - Portugal

Giesta Dao 2010 – Portugal

Pesquera Tinto 2006 Ribera del Duero

Pesquera Tinto 2006 Ribera del Duero

Thomas Barton Reserve Saint-Emilion 2009

Thomas Barton Reserve Saint-Emilion 2009

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais 2013

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais 2013

Honig Napa 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – My First Wine of 2014

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2014 is here! Could last year really have been only a few days ago?  A retail whirlwind for me and many others out there I am sure. Yet I am excited that a fresh new year of wine is before us.

In 2011 we Ended the year with a BANG.  2013 began with Chappallet Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.  2014 found me still holding on to last years resolution; I will not hoard nice wines! and succeeding by popping the cork on a wine recently received as a gift: the 2011 HONIG Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.

Harvested September 27 thru October 25, 2011 and aged 18 months in American oak barrels [1/3 new], this Cab is made up of 95.4% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4.6% Petit Verdot. Gotta love the decimals.

Their attention to detail caught my attention. Michael Honig was involved in the writing of the Code of Sustainable Practices for the Wine Institute and helped develop the first sustainable certification for California wineries. HONIG works with many vineyard practices including; solar power, sniffer dogs, bats and birds. For additional information checkout their Practices page by clicking here.

Fruit for this wine is from Rutherford and Napa Valley vineyards. Both sustainably farmed. As listed on the HONIG web-site; Each vineyard block was harvested and made into an individual lot representing that block. The wines were pressed off the skins from 10 to 20 days after crushing. Blending generally takes place between January and April of the year following harvestI like the fact that each block was harvested and made into individual lots.

HONIG Vintage Notes:

2011 began with a wet winter and spring (30% above normal rainfall) that continued with unprecedented rainfall into mid-June. The stage was set for a long, cooler-than-average growing season, a harvest beset with autumn storms, and the latest start to harvest in anyone’s memory. Mid-October rain continued to push the vintage even later, but growers were rewarded with an Indian summer that provided much needed ripening time.

My Notes:

On the nose: “WOW followed by a sigh”. Yes I actually wrote that down. Fruit, spice and wood all very balanced. Vanilla, sassafras, licorice, red fruit with an earthiness as it opened at 30 minutes. On the palate I noted this wine to be on the light side of medium bodied with same levels of tannins. Delicate, with fruit in the background. Fruitier as it opened at 40 minutes with oak fading into the background.

HONIG Tasting Notes:

This Cabernet is medium-bodied, with aromas and flavors of red cherry, and plum, alongside anise, black tea, vanilla, white pepper and dried herbs. The finish has the perfect balance of bright fruit, elegantly proportioned tannins, and a hint of cocoa powder.

The Wine Spectator ratings for the 2011 vintage do not seem to be available yet but the last few vintages show quite the pedigree: the 2007 production came in at 92 points, 2008  rated 91 points, 2009 at 92 and the 2010 a glowing 93 points.  All wonderful scores for a well-balanced Napa Cabernet Sauvignon which retails at about $40.00. A wine not too heavy or tannic that I can now recommend to customers throughout the new year.  ¡SALUD!

From Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate:

The dark ruby-colored 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa possesses a friendly overall style, medium body, a slight herbal character, and attractive fruit. Drink it over the next 5-7 years.