SALDO – The Prisoner Wine Company

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whineandcheersforwine.com

This wine has been a house favorite for quite a few years. I do not remember exactly how I came to discover it but most likely the introduction was made by a certain Zinfandel loving pair we call neighbors and great friends. Gotta love it when friends and wine come together.

Originally from Dave Phinney the winemaker/founder for The Prisoner / Orin Swift wines. SALDO is now produced by The Prisoner Wine Company since the sale of the company in 2009. From TPWC:

When we took ownership of The Prisoner and Saldo in 2009 from Orin Swift, we knew assembling the right team would be essential. With more than a decade of winemaking experience at Ravenswood crafting Zinfandel, Jen Beloz was the ideal person to take the lead. In order to remain true to the wine’s original style and vision, Jen worked alongside Dave Phinney, founder of The Prisoner, for the first two vintages.

Interestingly many wine lovers and fans of these wines think that Orin Swift is a real person. In fact the name was created by Dave Phinney himself. Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift his mother’s maiden name.

saldoBefore SALDO the wine gets you hooked, the bottle label or lack thereof grabs your attention. I love the minimalism of the old-fashioned, retro for most, hand embossed label. Customers enjoy not only looking at it but touching and reliving their memories of making their own labels.

From TPWC: The word “saldo” has various meanings throughout the romance languages of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. In Spanish, it mainly refers to “balance on hand,” and sometimes it can also be interpreted “from here and there.”

Most recently vino and friendship crossed paths again and I got to enjoy the 2011 vintage SALDO at a local Miami Beach restaurant with an out-of-town friend. Once I saw it on the wine menu, and well priced at that, the decision was made. This rich, velvety, medium bodied, fruit forward blend of 83% Zinfandel, 11% Petite Sirah, 6% Syrah paired beautifully with dishes such as; Ropa Vieja [Cuban shredded beef], Oxtail, Beef Tenderloin, grilled brussels sprouts, cheese grits, macaroni and cheese and even tostones [fried plantains]. Heck, it drank deliciously by itself.

whineandcheersforwine.com

Winemaker Notes:

The 2011 Saldo has an intense ruby color and bold aromas of dark berry fruit, blueberry pie, cardamom and baking spice. The entry is rich and full, and leads into a broad mid palate with concentration and density, backed by lively acidity. The texture is soft and velvety, with polished tannins. The finish is long with persistent notes of chocolate, roasted coffee bean and vanilla spice.

I like the consistency SALDO has shown along the way since first produced in 2007. I recommend it regularly at our store and it has become a customer favorite.  This wine is perfect for not only the Zin lovers and grill-masters out there but also for fans of big bold medium bodied, full flavored red blends. ¡SALUD!

B.R. Cohn Winery visits Whole Foods Market

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B.R. Cohn Winery

 

I recently had the pleasure of working side by side with Dan Cohn: CEO of B.R. Cohn Winery based out of Sonoma Valley California.  Dan spent a few hours sharing the wines of B.R. Cohn with the Whole Foods Market North Miami Specialty team and all guests lucky or smart enough to stop in and visit. Our department became quite the happening spot [admittedly more than usual] thanks to his great outgoing personality. Entertaining groups or one on one Dan made sure you found “your new favorite wine” and he had the product to back it up.

 

B.R. Cohn Winery, one of only three still family owned Sonoma wineries, was founded in 1984 by Bruce Cohn [father of Dan] after having bought the land ten years earlier and during that time selling the grapes to other wineries. Per their web-site:

After selling wine grapes for many years to August Sebastiani and Gundlach Bundschu and seeing the numerous awards the wines with fruit sourced from the Olive Hill Estate were receiving, Bruce took the advice of good friend and mentor Charlie Wagner from Caymus Winery and began producing his own wines from the Olive Hill Estate in 1984. Charlie bestowed the greatest honor upon the winery, permitting the use of Caymus’ trademarked “Special Selection” on the best lots from B.R. Cohn Olive Hill Estate.

As if that were not enough Bruce Cohn has managed the Rock group The Dobbie Brothers since 1970 and is still enjoying life in the music business;

Always looking for ways to give back to his community, Bruce brought his two life passions together in 1987 by inaugurating the B.R. Cohn Charity Fall Music Festival. Every year, wine lovers and music fans alike flock to the Olive Hill Estate to revel in the beautiful wine country while enjoying top music acts. The proceeds from the concert benefit many local children and veteran charities as well larger national charity organizations.

I must admit that prior to our in-store event I had not had the pleasure of tasting these wines. Luckily for me and many who partook what better way to get introduced.  We featured five wines and each one charmed.

B.R. Cohn Sangiacomo Chardonnay

  • Best of Class & Double Gold ~ Sonoma County Harvest Fair (2013)
  • 93 Points ~ WineReviewOnline.com (2013)

This Chardonnay is made from grapes grown at the Sangiacomo Vineyard in the Carneros Region of the southern Sonoma Valley. This wine is rich and concentrated with aromas of tropical fruit, pear, apricot, and lemon meringue surrounded by a bouquet of toasty oak, vanilla, caramel, and hazelnut.

B.R. Cohn 2012 Silver Label Cabernet Sauvignon 

  • 94 Points, Gold 2014 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition
  • 90 Points – Beverage Dynamics

A blend of select hillside vineyards in Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake Counties and our own Olive Hill Estate Vineyard. Individual vineyard lots are fermented and aged separately. Complex and full, rich aromas of plum, cassis and black cherry are accompanied by a bouquet of the finest French oak, cedar, cola, anise, vanilla, and nutmeg. On the palate,  a big rich Cabernet with luscious flavors of dried berry and cherry, ample tannin, and a long finish.

B.R. Cohn Gold Label Cabernet Sauvignon

  • 4 Stars – Restaurant Wine “The Gold Label bottling is intensely flavored, full bodies, and lightly tannic, with firm acidity, and pronounced eucalyptus mint character (with overtones of black cherry, cassis, red licorice, spicy oak, and cooked meat). Very long finish. Can be aged further. Aged in French oak barrels.

A unique blend of only our best lots from Napa and Sonoma, coupled with select vineyard blocks from the B.R. Cohn Olive Hill Estate Vineyard. Full-bodied rich Cabernet Sauvignon with aromas and flavors of currant, plum, black cherry wrapped in oaky spice and cedar. This is a big, luscious Cabernet, balanced with firm tannin, ample acidity, and a long warm finish.

B.R. Cohn Olive Hill Estate 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

  • 98 Points, Best of California, Best of Class, Double Gold 2014 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition

Single vineyard. This wine has pronounced aromas and flavors of plum, black currant, and cherry. Luscious berry and cherry flavors fill the palate, and silky tannins follow through to a warm, lasting finish. As always, this exceptional vintage was fermented in small lots to
ensure the character of each part of the Olive Hill Estate Vineyard. 

B.R. Cohn 2010 Sonoma Valley Zinfandel

  • 90 Points, Silver – California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition
  • Gold  – Orange County Wine Society Commercial Wine Competition
  • Best of Class San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition

Produced from grapes selected from the finest quality vineyards in the Sonoma Valley. This combination yields a blend of berry and cherry aromas mingled with the bouquet of creamy vanilla custard and a hint of peppercorn and clove. The Zinfandel is full-bodied and
warm with a long smooth berry flavored finish.

As I mentioned to Dan that night I was truly impressed with all five wines we tasted. Across the board I would recommend each one of them to our customers.  My favorites? If I had to narrow it down the Silver Label Cabernet produced with grapes from three vineyards and the single vineyard Olive Hill Estate Cabernet Sauvignon were my highlights and somehow ended up in my shopping basket!

We had a great response to this event. Dan Cohn, who by the way has a Rock’n signature for bottle signings, kept us all entertained with his wine stories. More importantly customers continue to come back for more of his wine.  ¡SALUD! 

 

 

Taking THE SHOW Pinot Noir on the road – from Chile to California

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THE SHOW 2012THE SHOW 2012 California Pinot Noir

Fun fact: I discovered this wine at a local Whole Foods Market a couple of years prior to being employed by them.  I still remember the moment because I was excited to find a Chilean version of a varietal I enjoyed. Now as a Wine Buyer for Whole Foods I get to turn customers on to this reasonably priced wine on a regular basis.

As per my earlier post [see below], this wine caught my attention because it was from Chile. Fast forward a few years: the production of The Show Pinot Noir has moved to California. I have to admit I was a bit concerned at first and maybe even shied away from it for a while fearing a disappointment.  Soon afterwards at one of our many in-store wine tasting events the opportunity arose and we put on THE SHOW.  Both the vendor, who had the same reservations, and I were pleasantly surprised to find this Pinot Noir still as bold and delicious as we remembered. More importantly customers kept coming back for more.

Now it’s time for the true test. A private wine tasting for one at home. Was THE SHOW from California really as good as its Chilean counterpart?  Cork popped and wine served I swirled, sniffed, sipped and took notes prior to rereading my original review. Here we go:

Light bodied as expected from most Pinot Noirs. Earthiness up front on the nose with fruit in the background [plum].  On the palate I detected dark fruit with wood, leather on the mid-palate and red fruit and spice at the finish.

I recall the Chilean version being richer and heavier bodied. Similarities? Bold and flavorful? Yes. But we have to keep in mind that not only are we comparing a wine made in two different countries but also two different vintages. That said I am sure the winemakers have their recipe down for keeping this wine as consistent as possible from year to year.

At under $20 and usually even under $15 THE SHOW Pinot Noir from California is perfect for those who enjoy this fruity varietal with some power. Light bodied? Yes. Light in flavor? Not even close. ¡SALUD!

 

 

2012 Winemaker notes:

The Show Pinot Noir has aromas of ripe plum, dark cherry and raspberry followed by flavors of earthy truffle, blackberry, cranberry, white pepper and spice. The wine has smooth tannins, a velvety texture and a long, lingering finish.

Grapes for The Show Pinot Noir are sourced from prime vineyards in California’s prestigious sonoma Coast and mendocino AVAs. sonoma Coast contains more than 500,000 acres primarily along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, and extends from san Pablo Bay to the border of mendocino County. Pinot Noir from these regions balance elegance and a sense of place with rich and complex fruit. These wine-growing areas bring dark fruit character and smooth tannins to The show Pinot noir. aged in French oak barrels, this 100% Pinot Noir is a rich and powerful, mouth-watering wine.

 

THE SHOW and tell… 2010 Pinot Noir from Leyda Valley Chile

After recently reading about how promising the Pinot Noir’s from Chile were this lover of South American wines and Pinot Noirs particularly from the Pacific Northwest had his new assignment.

As per previous blogs I’ve always had a problem finding reasonably priced full-bodied Pinot Noirs. Seems my first mistake was starting with $40.00+ wines from Oregon. They were fantastic! What I would call a WOW. For some reason the lower end Pinot Noirs from same regions although likeable lack that WOW factor and for those thinking I may be influenced by the price I should add that I did not know the prices at the time of tasting. I’ve tried the same varietal at $20 or less from France, California, Australia/New Zealand and again; likeable but no WOW’s. My search for an affordable under $20 [heck under $15 even better] full-bodied, flavorful Pinot Noir is  ongoing.

This brings us to THE SHOW Pinot Noir from Chile. After reading the before mentioned articles I happened to come across this wine at our local Whole Food Market. I think it may have picked me but in actuality it was the only Chilean Pinot Noir they stocked. Fate steps in, even better it was on sale for about $10.99. The retail price seems to be closer to $16.00.

At decanting I must admit I was impressed.  My exact first thought was “red berry-licious” which doesn’t actually come to mind very often. As I poured the color varied from red to deep garnet. My next thought was ” I am loving the nose on this!”  I detected; fig, guava, plum, strawberry and cherry with an earthiness that turned to leather as it opened. I decanted for an hour but could have easily started drinking right then and there.  I also noted that this wine tastes just like it smells which doesn’t actually happen all that often to me.

This is a wine I will be coming back to, it made a good impression on me. It may not be a WOW such as my beloved LACHINI, COEHLO Paciencia etc. but it definitely added a bit of a WOW factor to our Wednesday night supper at home with friends.  I wonder how it tastes on Thursdays? :)  SALUD!

Winemaker Notes:

The cool winds (from the Humboldt Current) keep the fruit yields naturally to a minimum, giving us wines that have a lot of depth and rich concentration.  That depth is balanced by the refreshing acidity, silky tannins, and good minerality.  The aromatics are of pie spice, wild cherries, red fruit

Revisiting Trivento’s Amado Sur Red Blend

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Recently I had the urge and opportunity to revisit an Argentinian blend that originally caught my eye two years ago. This wine regularly makes the Wine Spectator Smart Buy list and has rated between 88 – 91 points for each vintage over the last 7 years. Pretty good for a wine that averages $15.00 a bottle.  Even more so when one comes across coupons and sales! My 2012 came in at $11.99 and I’ll be the first to admit I’d probably pay twice that much.

Prior to reviewing my 2010 post I was happy to find many similarities as I popped the cork and experienced this Malbec, Bonarda, Syrah blend.  My 2012 notes:

On the nose; dark fruit [blackberry], leather, wood [oak] in the background. Fruit moving forward as it opened. Earthiness gathering strength at about the 30 minute mark.

On the palate; black pepper, cocoa and dark fruits that intensified as the wine opened. Soft velvety tannins noted at the 30-40 minute mark.

Below you’ll find my 2010 review of the Amado Sur where I asked the question: Can a wine make you feel warm and cozy?  I am glad to report that two years later the velvety 2012 vintage felt like home. Searching for a great value? This may be the one.  ¡SALUD!

Warm and Cozy with Trivento’s

 2010 Amado Sur from Argentina

The luck of the red blends was with us again recently when I finally sat down to experience this delicious wine.  As I’ve asked before; can a wine make you feel warm and cozy? My answer is YES and for me the Amado Sur falls into this category.

I was drawn to this wine in our store because of its varietal blend; 80% Malbec, 10% Bonarda and 10% Syrah. Being a fan of all three led me to believe that I was going to enjoy their coming together and boy did I ever. I seem to not be the only one because it is flying off our shelves. I can take credit for a few bottles myself plus the happy returning customers that I have recommended Amado Sur to, but not the one to two cases we are going through weekly. So much so that we just ordered 10 cases for an end-cap display.  With the added benefit of a sale price and coupons we may just be ordering even more soon.

Trivento information from Banfi Importers: When in the mid-1990s Concha y Toro, Chile’s leading wine producer, announced its successful purchase a collection of vineyards (now accounting for 3,185 acres) in the Mendoza region of neighboring Argentina, there was little doubt on either side of the Andes that change was in the air. Wind is the agent of change, so it was only fitting that the new venture was named “ Trivento” (Three Winds), a whimsical reference to three winds that sweep through Mendoza and are such a distinguishing feature of the region’s climate and environment.

Upon decanting the first thing I noticed was its rich aroma which included; dark fruit, caramel and an undertone of wood.  As it breathed I also noted; black pepper, blackberry, black olive and oak on the nose.  Once poured its bright garnet color, more so along the edges of the glass, brought attention to the lovely slow-moving legs. Both of these I believe a cause of the wines alcohol level.  Additionally noted on the palate were; chocolate, a sweetening of the wine as it opened and what I listed as violet but in actuality may have been anise or licorice.

Winemaker notes: A deep red wine with dark blue tones and aromas of dark fruit combining with notes of black pepper, anise, cinnamon and chocolate. Lush flavors of plums and berries give way to velvety tannins and a persistent and pleasant finish.

We paired the Amado Sur with an aged cheddar cheese to start followed by pepperoni pizza. It worked very well with both, making the cheddar explode with flavor and the pizza even more spicy. I am looking forward to enjoying this wine again and again and even more so sharing it with family, friends and customers. ¡SALUD!

Price range: $12-17.00

Wine Spectator Review:

A floral red, with juicy blackberry, raspberry and plum notes supported by medium tannins, as the grippy finish unfolds with hints of mulled spice and licorice. Smart Buy. 90 Points.

Nathan Wesley – Wine Spectator – October, 2012

My 12 Days of Beer Camp

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BEERCAMP@WCW2014

As I prepare to enjoy my last Beer Camp brew it seems it is not all about wine in my work life. Beer is also a large part of my job as a Specialty Beverage Buyer for Whole Foods Market.  Admittedly beer is something I enjoy learning about. But truth be told I enjoy drinking it too!  Discovering new brews and old world styles that have been around for centuries is not only a job benefit but a fun hobby.

Thanks to beer-maker Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and their Beer Camp Across America variety pack the craft-beer bandwagon is getting even more attention than it usually does. And the traffic in our store shows it.

From Sierra Nevada: 

Sierra Nevada partnered with a dozen exceptional craft breweries to create 12 different beers for one mixed 12-pack—including 10 bottles and two cans—a first in the craft beer world.

Beer Camp Across America is a tribute to the art, and sometimes absurd ambition, of American craft beer. This unprecedented variety pack is a celebration of our collective spirit: 12 different collaboration beers brewed alongside 12 exceptional brewers, together showcasing the sense of pride and passion shared by craft brewers nationwide. Beyond the pack, we’re embarking on a seven-city traveling beer festival. Join the tour and help make this the largest craft beer celebration in history!

AMERICANOWNEDBREWED@WCW2014

This is how my idea for The 12 Days of Beer Camp came to be. With excitement building prior to its arrival [daily requests], the actual arrival, the set up of our American Owned American Brewed display and our quickly selling out of Beer Camp: yes I too along with team members and customers got caught up in the moment.

Twelve brews in twelve days. Well, give or take a day.  With the evidence posted @WhineCheersWine on Twitter and Instagram. Not too much of a challenge considering the heat of our Miami summer and the anticipation of trying 12 different beers. Correction: 12 different collaborations. Including some from my favorite craft beer brewers and others to discover:

Cigar City Brewing, Ballast Point, Oskar Blues, New Glarus, Firestone, Ninkasi, 3 Floyds, Bell’s, Allagash, Russian River, Asheville Brewers Alliance and Victory.

Here we go……

DOUBLELATTE@WCW2014Ninkasi Brewing Company, Eugene, OR | Double Latte Coffee Milk Stout  Inspired by the perennial café favorite, Double Latte combines two of the greatest things in life: good coffee and great beer. Oregon’s Ninkasi Brewing knows their way around a good cup of joe. Featuring cold-press coffee from the legendary Stumptown Coffee Roasters and a dose of milk sugar, this coffee milk stout is a rich and roasty treat.  

My notes: dark rich brown color, coffee on the nose. Palate: dark roast coffee, malt/hop finish, cocoa developing as it warms, burnt sugar/caramel. BU60/ALC 7.6%

 

YONDER

Cigar City Brewing, LLC, Tampa, FL | Yonder Bock Tropical Maibock Yonder Bock is a summery twist on the robust blonde bock. Its silky, semi-sweet malt body is bolstered by a blend of new and experimental hops that impart bright, fruity hop aromas of guava, mango and passion fruit.

My notes:  golden amber/red color. Sour citrus and guava on the nose.  Mid-level hoppiness. Reminds me of a Belgian style beer with added hops. Sweetness comes in to play as it warms. BU 45/ALC 7.7%.

 

ALTBIER@WCW2014Victory Brewing Company, Downingtown, PA | Alt Route Altbier  Alt Route is our take on the old school German Altbier style featuring an ale-lager hybrid yeast, which is top fermenting and fruity like an ale, but matured at cool temperatures for a clean, lager-like flavor. This deep amber beer has a slight emphasis on the richly layered, slightly sweet malt body with enough citrusy hop flavor and aroma to produce a balanced, dry finish.

My notes:  honey brown in color, as German ALTBIER is, with aromas of cooked sugar and/or caramel. First impression: a lighter hoppier scotch ale. Malty sweet finish. Medium level hoppiness. BU 50/ALC 6.6%

 

TATER@WCW2014

Asheville Brewers Alliance, Asheville, NC | Tater Ridge Scottish Ale Tater Ridge pays homage to our area’s Scottish Highland history, and its craft brew pioneers. With a hint of down home Southern flair, this Scottish ale is rich and malty, using special floor-malted six-row barley from Asheville’s Riverbend Malting, and has a smooth kick from the use of sweet potatoes, a tasty Southern staple.

My notes: Caramelized amber in color. Caramel and light hop on the nose. Hoppy finish. A perfect example of what I consider a Scottish Ale to be. No sweet potato detected though. BU 35/ ALC 7%.

THEREBACK@WCW2014

New Glarus Brewing Company, New Glarus, WI | There and Back English-Style Bitter There and Back is a classic, sessionable, English-style Bitter—easy-drinking but full of flavor. It features nutty, toasted Golden Promise and English Crystal malts balanced by a solid dose of zesty hops, with a fruity dry finish from the use of an authentic English yeast.

My notes: honey/amber color. Hop and malt on the finish. A slight sweetness at the front with malt bitterness at the back-end. Spice licorice/anise detected. BU 40/ALC 5.6%

CANFUSION@WCW2014

 

Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, CO/Brevard, NC | CANfusion Rye Bock  CANfusion is a dry-hop rye bock with a complex malt body that launches a peppery blast from the rye, balanced by a fruity hop aroma. As the style suggests, it was dry-hopped for an added aroma punch from the unique citrusy and spice-like Australian Ella hop varietal.

My notes: amber honey in color [between honey and maple syrup]. Definite hoppiness on the nose. Well balanced, dry. Fruit: orange spice and grapefruit detected. Rye and malt in the finish. BU 45/ALC 7.2%

ELECTRIC RAY @WCW2014Ballast Point Brewing Company, San Diego, CA | Electric Ray India Pale Lager Electric Ray is an IPL—Imperial Pale Lager—combining intense citrusy and floral American hop aroma with the clean, crisp, classic malt body of a robust blonde lager. It is both traditionally dry-hopped AND torpedoed with whole-cone American hops for an intense grapefruit and rose-like nose.

My notes: sour, citrus hop on the nose. Golden amber in color. Hop sweetness on palate, malt finish. A slow drinker. BU 70/ALC 8.5%.

MAILARD@WCW2014Bell’s Brewery, Inc., Kalamazoo, MI | Maillard’s Odyssey Imperial Dark Ale Maillard’s Odyssey is a robust dark ale layered with complex malt flavors of toffee, caramel, chocolate, coffee, and dark fruit. This malt-focused concept spawned a daunting grain bill featuring 10 different grains including pale malt, Munich, chocolate malt, oats, dark wheat and roasted barley for a rich, semi-sweet and intense experience.

My notes: intense dark chocolate brown/black in color. Dry seeming at first with slight sweetness at mid-palate. Coffee on the nose and palate with sweetness developing as it warms. Malt finish. BU 40/ALC 8.5%.

TORPEDO@WCW2014Firestone Walker Brewing Co., Paso Robles, CA | Torpedo Pilsner Torpedo Pilsner ditches the traditional German “noble” hops and heads south of the equator for inspiration. With a traditional golden malt body, this “kiwi” pils features intense fruity and floral New Zealand-grown Motueka and Southern Cross hops, making this an alternate and delicious take on the classic pilsner.

My notes: light lemon yellow in color. Light, fruity, floral and dry. An oat/wheat aftertaste, possibly from hops. BU 45/ALC 5.2%

CHICOKING@WCW20143 Floyds Brewing Co., Munster, IN | Chico King Pale Ale Chico King is a regal yet raucous take on the pale ale that both our breweries adore. It features a complex malt body from the use of an undermodified malt, which leads to a complex and nutty malt flavor, and a bright fruit-forward blend of Mosaic, El Dorado and Calypso hop varietals. Chico King is a beer fit for royalty.

My notes: amber color. Sweet hop nose. Well balanced. Perfect example of the pale ale style. Aromatic as it warms. BU 45/ALC 6.5%

MYRONSWALK@WCW2014Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, ME | Myron’s Walk Belgian-Style Pale Ale Myron’s Walk is a Belgian-style pale ale combining the best of our two breweries. It features intense citrusy flavor and a complex aroma from the use of fruity and resinous whole-cone Citra and Mosaic hops offset by the complex spicy character of Allagash’s house Belgian yeast strain.

My notes: citrus and pine on the nose with a hop sour sweetness. A true hoppy belgian style. Intense. Sour citrus on the palate. Malt finish. BU 38/ALC 5.3%

IVAN@wcw2014Russian River Brewing Company, Santa Rosa, CA | Yvan the Great Belgian-Style Blonde This genre-bending beer has the bright, resinous hop profile of an American IPA blended with the dry and complex yeast character of a Belgian farmhouse ale. Yvan the Great is a perfect combination of the two brewing styles—hoppy, dry, spicy, and impressive.

My notes: cloudy golden yellow in color. Yeasty nose. With notes of citrus; grapefruit, lemon and pineapple on the palate.  BU 50/ALC 6.3%.

 

Oh……BEER CAMP you and the friends made along the way will be missed. Thanks goes to Sierra Nevada and all the brewers who reached out, commented on my posts and even used my photos on their websites.  Oh Beer Camp where did the time go?  Twelve days just wasn’t enough. ¡SALUD!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Ventoux Soleil des Garrigues

Ventoux Soleil des Garrigues

Today’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 @WCW2014

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.