Author Archives: Whine And Cheers For Wine

About Whine And Cheers For Wine

40-ish, OK late late 40's pushing 50. Married, but technically in Vermont and heart only. Cuban-American Miami born. Only took me 28 years of talking about it to take a wine class, get certified and find my new career as a Wine Steward.

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

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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.

Tablao Red Wine Navarra 2012

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Whine And Cheers For Wine:

I have been wanting to write about this wine for a while now. It is one of the best selling vinos on our Whole Foods Market Top 10 Fall program. OENOPHILOGICAL beat me to the punch and I am glad he did. I do not think I could have done a better job.
This wine not only helped me discover the Navarra region of Spain but also the bargain of the season. Deliciously fruit forward and with quite the growing fan base at our Whole Foods Market North Miami store.
So without further ado, I introduce you to Navarra’s Tablao and OENOPHILOGICAL. Salud!

Originally posted on oenophilogical:

Get ready to put on your dancing shoes!!

from spain-holiday.com

Why?  Because the name on this wine, Tablao, is a word used to denote a flamenco show, a flamenco venue, or the dance floor on which flamenco is performed.  I can hear those heels rat-a-tat-tatting now!

Quite an interesting choice of names for a wine label, don’t you think?  It certainly promises a lot!  Think of all the things that flamenco conjures in the imagination.  Flamenco is exciting, dynamic, vibrant, passionate, and sensual!  It exudes a feeling of controlled chaos – the musicians, singers and dancers playing on the edge of rhythmic and emotional anarchy.  Whew!  That’s a lot to live up to.  Does the wine do the name justice?  Well …

Winemaker:  Tablao (by Bodega Pagos de Aráiz)
Wine:  Red Wine
Varietal: Red Blend
Vintage: 2012
Appellation:  Navarra DDO, Spain
Price:  $9.99 at Whole Foods

Notes:  This Tablao red…

View original 361 more words

$5.00 Wine – Trader Joe’s

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The Miami area of Pinecrest recently added a Trader Joe’s to the discount grocery mix.  As a long time fan of Aldi markets [in Europe and USA] I was excited about this addition. Aldi and Trader Joe’s share a relation. Owned by 2 brothers the company was split into Aldi North and Aldi South in the 1960s. The Aldi store is more bargain style and Trader Joe’s goes more for the trendy audience.  Both specialize in private label items.

Unfortunately our Miami/Pinecrest store got off to a rough start due to its shortage of parking spaces for patrons. Many cars were towed during the first few weeks and quite honestly I do not know how the city permitted construction of this site with so little parking. That said, this small store [drug store size] was nicely decorated inside with aisles roomy enough to get around.  Since this is a “wine” review I will not bore you with the specifics of my comparison shopping.  But, a somewhat obvious disclaimer here is the fact that I work for Whole Foods Market. Many compare the two but the truth is they are very different.  I’d also like to add that I was an Aldi fan long before I ever dreamed of joining the WFM team.

Wine! I was very impressed with the size of their vino area, about eight times bigger than the wine areas of the Aldi’s I have frequented. The majority of the wines being exclusive or private labels for Trader Joe’s. All inexpensively priced.  Surprisingly the well-known wines they carry are priced the same or even higher than at Whole Foods and other local merchants.

The majority of my time in the store was of course spent in this area reviewing all they had to offer.  Should I buy an under $20 Chateauneuf du Pape or even a Barolo under $15.00?  In the spirit of this shopping excursion I decided to budget myself at a whopping $5.  Per bottle of course and somehow limited myself to only two.

First up is Puglia’s 2012 GRIFONE Primitivo labelled “From old vine Zinfandel”.  As regular readers probably know I am a big fan of Zinfandel a.k.a. Primitivo which would explain my grabbing this $4.99 bottle without thinking twice.

Later that night with company over and cork  popped, everyone truly enjoyed this wine.  Only one flaw; among Zinfandel fans no one could name the varietal including myself if I had not been the purchaser.  Is it an easy drinker? Heck yeah. Would I serve it again? Ditto! But this fruit forward, medium bodied, low tannin wine was very un-Zinfandel like. Spice? Earthiness? Peppery? All nowhere to be found.  I’ve read that the 2010 was a tad more rustic so my notes could be due to the 2012 vintage. Below are some other opinions I found:

From Cheap Wine Finder

The color is cherry red with black highlights. The nose is dark berries with a little chocolate powder and spearmint chewing gum, This is a soft, smooth, medium bodied wine with a slight rough edge on the mid palate. It tastes of black cherry, a little tart cranberry and a touch of cola. The mid plate offers are a dusty slap form the tannins and a final dash of sweet strawberry.  The acidity is balanced and the finish is a little watery and fades a bit too soon.

From the Savy Lush

The taste of this Primitivo is fairly mild with notes of cherry and jammy spice. The nose isn’t anything special, and finish is rather fleeting but really, who cares?!? Easy drinking, smooth and pleasing, this is classic “Skank”. But, if you’re truly worried, make sure you have some dark chocolate on hand-never a bad idea.

So my final verdict would be: very drinkable, an easy drinker, great for large crowds [parties], excellent way to spend $5.00, just do not call it Zinfandel/Primitivo.

Next up we have a Sangiovese, one of Italy’s most planted grape varietals, from Tuscany. D’Aquino Gaetano Sangiovese di Toscana 2012.  D’Aquino, in this case is also the wine importers name.

The Sangiovese flavor profile usually includes; cherry, plum, cinnamon, vanilla and some herbaceousness.  Unfortunately I noted very few of these qualities.

My Notes: Light in color and body. Red fruit on nose, more so on palate but not much else. Fruity with a cherry finish.  Not much development as it opened, status-quo as time passed.

Winemaker notes:  This is a fruity, red wine made from the best-known grape varieties. It is brilliantly red with good intensity and has lively, fresh, and full-bodied taste. It is ideal for everyday drinking with most foods and in particular pasta dishes.

The D’Aquino was in no way poor but at the same time it did not have any personality. Not a wine you would look forward to having again but a vino that may actually fall into the $5 wine category. OUCH: Now that the developing wine snob in me let that slip out I must admit to having had wines much more expensive with the same issue. Drinkable? Sure. Would I buy it again? I have to admit I would most likely not.

I have plenty of friends that swear by the TJ private label product line.  As I was mentally planning my reviews a fellow blogger also posted about Trader Joe wines. Luckily wines that he had recently discovered and enjoyed. Check out Talk-A-Vino’s; Trader Joe’s Wines – Again Exceeding Expectations.

All said and done not bad for my investment of $4.99 times two. Would I try more TJ wines? Definitely.  Their reduced pricing structure is hard to refuse. Luckily for me this new store is not nearby.  Luckily for my bank account if it were I could do some damage $5 at a time.  ¡SALUD!

Celebrating Holidays or Better Yet Every Day!

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As this years Pumpkin displays turn to harvest motifs with cider, our in-store Halloween candy has changed over to chocolate turkeys and candy canes.

Celebrations are in the air and I have come to realize that the end of the year will soon be upon us.  Of course celebrating with libations shouldn’t only occur once or twice a year. I like to think I celebrate it all whether they be small accomplishments or BIG holidays.

For example just last week Whine and Cheers for Wine passed the 20,000+ visitor mark. This week the well-known California winemaker Michael Martini was nice enough to contact me after being directed to my review of his Louis M. Martini Napa Cabernet.  Yes it’s been a good few weeks and all good reasons to celebrate.

As I went back and reviewed last years holiday post, HARK! The Holidays Approacheth!! I came to realize how much has changed. 2012: I was a Wine Steward spreading my time between a grocery store wine department and their liquor store. 2013: I became a Wine Buyer or better yet a Specialty Beverage Buyer for Whole Foods Market. Regularly teaching classes and planning wine events. I’ve had opportunities to meet wine makers face to face and the good fortune to have my writings shared by wine companies and news agencies on their social media sites.  Yes it’s been a good couple of years; all good reasons to celebrate.

This year I’ve decided to let “the people” pick our top 10 wines for 2013 and the holiday season.  These are the wines that have garnered the most visits and searches at Whine and Cheers. We already know how I feel about these wines. Now you’ll know the wines the public is researching, buying and hopefully celebrating with.

Here you go in no particular order. The Whine and Cheers For Wine Top 10 of 2013 picked by the general wine public. I’ve averaged the top vote getters for the month, quarter and year. Giving a chance to recent reviews that have not had time to garner as many visits as a review posted 9 months ago.   Drum-roll please!!!

Dr Loosen Riesling Just what the Doctor ordered!

Kirkland Signature Bordeaux:  I guess there is something to be said about Costco wine…..

19 Crimes: GUILTY! Great marketing and tasty wine.

Dreaming Tree Crush: The Luck of the Blends. Steve Reeder and Dave Matthews ROCK!

Joel Gott Zinfandel: The 2011 vs. 2009 battle

Chateau Lafitte Marcellin: 2009 Cotes de Bordeaux. 2009 great vintage for Bordeaux.

Winking Owl Vineyards Shiraz: something to be said about Aldi and Trader Joe wines?

Pinot Noir Smackdown: Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir

Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Perfect holiday gift wine per the NBC Today Show

Louis M. Martini: 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Go Mike! Martini that is.

A baker’s dozen or runners-up would add these to the list:

Innovacion Torrontes Pinot Grigio Blend: by Argentina’s Santa Julia

HANDS Cabernet Sauvignon: Robertson Valley South Africa

Gran Valle de Niebla Reserve Pinot Noir: Chile

I am glad to see many countries represented on our list; Chile, Argentina, South Africa, USA, France, Australia and Germany!

Speaking of countries, these stats always amaze me, below are the TOP 12 traveling over to this here site for wine information, minus my own USA:

Canada FlagCanada
United Kingdom FlagUnited Kingdom
Germany FlagGermany
Australia FlagAustralia
France FlagFrance
Spain FlagSpain
Philippines FlagPhilippines
Russian Federation FlagRussian Federation
India FlagIndia
Mexico FlagMexico
Denmark FlagDenmark
Netherlands FlagNetherlands

So with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day and New Years Eve around the corner, I wish and hope, that we not only are able to celebrate these obvious big events in our lives but also appreciate and recognize the day-to-day happenings. Events also meant to be shared and noted. All good reasons to celebrate!

¡SALUD! and Happy Holidays

International Tempranillo Day – Tablao Wine

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2012 Tablao – Red Wine

This Whole Foods Holiday Top 10 wine grabbed my attention this week. Perfectly timed for celebrating International Tempranillo Day which falls on November 14th this year.  

The first fact that caught my eye was the “Denominacion de Origen” of Navarra Spain. A region I quite honestly never heard of before, but quickly learned is located near the France border of northern Spain.

English: Map of Spain with Navarre highlighted...

From the Wines of Navarra web-site:

Navarra is the name of both the autonomous region in northern Spain, and the very specifically limited wine zone of Navarra—today one of Spain’s most exciting quality wine regions.

The Navarra wine region lies between Rioja and the French border to the northeast. The foothills of the Pyrenees descend towards Navarra from the north and the Ebro River runs up from the south into Rioja to the west. Navarra’s capital, Pamplona, lies just north of the wine region. With its special location between Rioja and Bordeaux, it draws expertise and inspiration from both of these regions while retaining its own individual wine style.

English: Navarra Denominacion de Origen label,...

English: Navarra Denominacion de Origen label, as found on the reverse of suitably qualified bottles. Shot with Nikon D70s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adding to the interest factor our in-store wine notes informed me that; Vines grown in the Navarra region of Spain are trained along trellises rather than in bushes, maximizing their exposure to the sun and resulting in grapes of intense flavor. A sight to behold I am sure and one I’d like to see in person someday.

Mature Tempranillo grape cluster with characte...

Produced and bottled by Bodegas Pagos de Araiz this 2012 red wine blend is made up of 81% Tempranillo, 9% Garnacha, 8% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. In my case the luck of the blends has struck again. Deliciously fruity and well-balanced this red fruit forward wine falls into my category of “easy drinker”.  A great every day accompaniment to meals with meats, pasta, pizza, Spanish foods etc.

Tasting and pairing notes;

Juicy with ripe red raspberries. Complex hints of licorice and cherry round out the sublime, lingering finish. pairs well with: Seaside Cheddar, glazed ham, smoked brisket, veggie lasagna, enchiladas.

I was not planning on writing a Tempranillo Day post but the stars must have aligned and fate stepped in to bring this wine to me with such good timing.  And I’ve saved the best for last. The Tablao is presently priced at $7.99. Yes, a perfectly priced every day wine. I am now looking forward to stretching out this International Tempranillo Day through the weekend.  ¡SALUD!

From Wine Enthusiasts “Five Things You Didn’t Know About Tempranillo”:

1. It’s very, very old. Tempranillo is indigenous to Spain and dates back to before the time of Christ. It’s been grown on the Iberian Peninsula since the Phoenicians settled it in 1100 B.C.

2. It’s an early bird. Tempranillo is derived from the word temprano, which in Spanish means “early.” Among red varieties in Spain, it’s considered an early ripener.

3. It has many monikers. Tempranillo goes by more than a dozen different names around the world, depending on where it’s cultivated. It’s called Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Tinta de Toro in Toro, Ull de Llebre in Catalonia, Cencibel in La Mancha and Tinto Roriz in Portugal.

4. It’s cloned. There are about 500 clones of Tempranillo in Spain alone; Tinto Fino and Tinta de Toro are the best-known.

5. It has a white mutant. Although rare, albino Tempranillo does exist in Rioja. It’s an approved wine grape; it yields a citrusy, rather simple wine akin to Viognier in weight, flavor and overall style.

Napa Valley – Mount Veeder Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

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Mount Veeder WineryI have my new customer base at Whole Foods Market North Miami to thank for introducing me to the Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon.  Customer after customer, probably better described as fans of this wine have repeatedly let me know how well priced [$30-32.00 range] this wine is at our store. I’ve had shoppers buy it by the case [with an extra 10% discount]  tell me they can’t get it better priced on-line or via wine clubs. Good for them and good for us!

Mount Veeder Winery in Napa Valley, was the first to grow all five red Bordeaux varietals planted on the same property. In fact this Cabernet is actually made up of; 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec.

Winery info:

Mount Veeder Winery is a dramatic estate with three vineyards carved high in the hillsides of the Mayacamas Mountains, overlooking southern Napa Valley. The property totals 121 acres, mostly forest and brush, out of which only 47 are planted to vine.

Vines ranging from 1,000–1,600 feet in elevation cling to rugged, steep slopes that offer cool conditions that lead to slow ripening, which extends the growing season. Mount Veeder is usually the last to harvest in Napa Valley. The result is fruit with highly concentrated flavors – big, bold and brambly – a Cab lover’s feast.

My notes:

Dark ruby-red in color I noted the fact the nose was so well-balanced immediately as I decanted. Within minutes wood [oak] started to overtake the dark fruit. The aroma of leather arrived soon afterwards with the return of rich fruit as mere minutes passed.

With bold tannins and medium body this wine needs to breathe/open.  A richness developed at the 20-30 minute mark with eucalyptus and an earthiness on the nose and palate.  At one and a half hours cocoa, cigar box  and a fruit finish was established. By the 2 hour mark the herbaceous notes on the nose expanded along with vanilla on the palate.  At 3 hours my notes just read; incredible smoothness.

Obviously I enjoyed this wine and I can see why many of my customers do also. Would I decant this wine for 3 hours? Probably not. But I have to admit the “smooth” epiphany at one and a half hours was well worth the wait!  Not only will I need patience when pouring this wine again, yes I have another bottle in the cellar, but I will also need the gift of patience to wait and not open it tonight!  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker Jane Myers notes:

Appearance: Deep ruby
Aromas: Ripe black currant, dark cherry, and lilac interlace with black pepper, bay leaves, coffee, and toasted oak to create a rich, dense nose.
Flavors: Powerful, rich, and textured notes of dark cherry, ripe plum, caramel, and vanilla weave an intense, voluminous mouthfeel accented by hints of anise and mocha. The back palate is rounded out by a lengthy yet smooth finish of vibrant sweet oak, tobacco leaves, and black olives.

Time in Oak: 20 months

Type of Oak: 70% new oak, predominantly French with some American oak.

Total Acidity: 6.1 g/l

Alcohol: 14%

Additional winery info:

Mount Veeder Winery was one born from the hard work and dedication of Michael and Arlene Bernstein.  The Bernsteins first discovered the rugged property in the early 1960s and later bought it as a rustic retreat.  In the ensuing years they transformed it into an enviable vineyard, almost by accident. After farming the property’s prune orchard for the first few years, a farmhand who lived on the property presented the Bernsteins with a bundle of cast-off grapevine cuttings.  Michael stuck the unrooted cuttings into the ground and never gave them a drop of water.  Miraculously, of the 60 cuttings planted, 58 lived.  Michael turned his full attention to the vines and built his land into a thriving vineyard, ultimately making history as the first vintner in Napa Valley to plant one property to all five of the classic Bordeaux varieties.

Isosceles 2009 – Justin Vineyards and Winery

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Copyright@WhineAndCheersForWine<br />ISOSCELES 2009 by Justin

A few years back I was introduced to JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon by friends and neighbors. It is a dry and powerful wine that sells very well for us in the store. Usually priced in the $20.00 range it is one I recommend often to customers looking for this type of Cab.

With a price range of $60-$75.00 Justin’s the ISOSCELES was often on my radar or I should say on my wish list.  Not an everyday drinker for me but a special occasion wine who’s cork was recently popped.

Justin Vineyards and Winery is located in Paso Robles appellation of California’s Central Coast.  Per their website the “appellation encompasses more than 600,000 acres and is the largest stand alone AVA in California.”  Impressive news to me a big fan of wines from this region.  “The region’s first grapes were planted in 1779 by Franciscan missionaries and today are home to the third highest concentration of wineries in the United States.” When owner Justin Baldwin began with 160 acres in 1981 only 10 wineries existed in the area.  Fast forward to 2013 and being recently named one of the best 75 wineries to visit by FOOD & WINE.

The winemakers refer to ISOSCELES as a “left bank” Bordeaux style wine.  The 2009 vintage, now mostly sold out, was an unfiltered blend of; 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot.

Vintage Notes 
The 2009 growing season began early due to a very warm spring. An early April frost affected parts of Paso Robles, but we were relatively unaffected. Consistently warm summer weather segued into a moderate early fall with some rain, but the vines shrugged off the water retaining great fruit concentration and flavor. Balanced weather through the fall allowed us to pick by flavor profiles without any concerns about excessive temperatures and as a result, our red wines from this vintage show incredible density and power of varietal expression. The style of the 2009 vintage is flashy and intense.

Maturation was over a period of 24 months in 225L French oak barrels (Bertrange, Allier, Center of France); 64% new barrels.  The bottling period was Dec. 12-21, 2011 with a release date of May 1, 2012.

My first observations were as follows: no alcohol on the nose, but plenty of earthiness, dark  fruit sweetness [noted as ripeness] and oak. Along with glass tinting slow legs which surprised me because of the noted lack of alcohol on the nose.  Alcohol reportedly at 15.5% by volume.

On the palate a dark fruit forward blast on the first sip which softened in minutes. Medium body with mid-level yet mouth covering tannins. At the one hour mark I noted better defined new wood on the nose, clove/licorice and fig.  Pepper, vanilla/spices and dark fruit [raisin/prune] on the palate.

I can see why Wine Spectator rated the 2009 ISOSCELES 93 points.  This is what I would refer to as one Easy Drinker!  Next on my Justin wish list? The 2010 ISOSCELES for comparison and Justin’s JUSTIFICATION, just because.  ¡SALUD!  

93 Points Wine Spectator: “Offers a tight, generous mix of raspberry, wild berry and pomegranate. This is pure and focused, gaining depth and velocity, ending with a long, persistent finish.” Drink now through 2022.”  9,000 cases made.

Winemaker tasting notes:

Appearance: Dark ruby in the glass with a violet rim.
Aroma: An alluring, rich mix of ripe black currants and berries faceted with vanilla, cinnamon and cocoa highlights.
Palate: Full bodied, complex black fruit of lush currants, and cherry layered with licorice and vanilla spice with chocolate, roasted coffee, and tobacco. The finish is extremely long and complex, showing firm plush tannins that bring everything together making it easy to drink it now, but implying a great future.

Below is a chart and/or link to a chart that shows Justin wines by production.  I was impressed to find this on their website.

http://www.justinwine.com/images/wines_pieChart_large.gif

Napa Valley – 2009 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon

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Napa Valley – 2009 Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon

I first discovered the wines of Louis M. Martini on the job as a Wine Steward. I didn’t taste them but was often told by customers of their merits. We carried the Sonoma and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, both sold well.  In my mind a side by side tasting and review for Whine and Cheers would be in my near future.  So much so that when I had the opportunity to buy the more expensive Napa Cab at a crazy sale price I jumped at the opportunity. Well, I may have jumped but basically I assigned the task to my parents who lived near this wine source across town.  Luckily for me they did as they were told. This is how I came across a few bottles of both Napa and Sonoma Cabs. How lucky am I?  I put them in my cellar [for those counting; yes still the guest room] about a year and a half ago.

Interestingly when I was hired earlier this year as a Specialty Beverage Buyer for Whole Foods Market I came to find out that not only would we be featuring the Louis Martini Cab’s at our Grand Opening but that……drum-roll ….. Michael Martini the third generation winemaker and grandson of Louis M. Martini would be in attendance signing bottles.

Bio:

Growing up in his father’s and grandfather’s vineyards, Michael Martini got a hands-on education in the art of crafting world-class wines. His formal study of viticulture began in the world-renowned wine-making program at the University of California, Davis. After graduation, Mike worked alongside his father, Louis P. Martini, before taking the reins as winemaker of Louis M. Martini Winery in 1977. Mike shares his grandfather’s passion for the Napa Valley region and is a past president of the Napa Valley Vintners Association, an organization that his grandfather Louis M. Martini helped establish in 1943.

Quite the character Michael [Mike] Martini was a hit at the North Miami store.  Our customers lined up to meet this tall gregarious and quite humorous gent as he entertained all with wine war stories. Thinking back I love that he was bluntly honest about his wines, present and past vintages whether good or bad. He did not hold back.

During this main event and other tastings that followed I was able to compare both wines side by side. Not enough to write about them extensively but definitely enough to know which one I preferred.  So this week finally after cellaring 1-2 years and realizing the 2009 vintage is practically no longer available I popped the cork on the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon.

My tasting notes:

On the nose; dried dark fruit [blackberry, figs, prune, black currant], wood [oak], cigar box [cedar], tobacco, spicy [black pepper, vanilla]. With the addition of black cherry on the palate.  Aromas of cedar and grape really coming out at the 2 hour mark.

2013 marks the 80th Anniversary of the Louis M. Martini Winery which was established in 1933. In 1936 the winery became one of the first to use temperature-controlled fermentation. In 1943 Louis helps set up the Napa Valley Vintner Association. 1951; Louis P. Martini, 2nd generation winemaker is among first winegrowers to use wind machines to battle frost in the vineyards. 1968; Louis M. Martini Winery is among the first to bottle Merlot as a varietal wine in California.  In 1977 Michael Martini takes the helm. In 2002 the Gallo family, close friends of the Martini family for three generations, purchased the winery and vineyards.

I didn’t officially ever get to my vertical tasting, not yet anyway. But I must admit that the Louis M. Martini 2009 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon bowls me over every time. It is intense, beautifully balanced and has a silky finish.  I am now longing to try their Monte Rosso or better yet take Mikes’ advice which he whispered to me as he was leaving: “Wait until you try the Alexander Valley!”

¡SALUD!

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

“A nice Cabernet, on par with the winery’s equally fine 2008. Shows plenty of class, with rich blackberry, currant and cedar flavors. Earns points for sheer elegance. Ready to drink now.  Editors’ Choice

90 Points Wine Enthusiast

The Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from vineyards up and down the Napa Valley. This wine exhibits a deep burgundy color with intense aromas of cassis, sweet herbs and hints of pipe tobacco. Intriguing flavors of ripe black cherries, deep, briary red fruits, and old world complexities linger throughout the finish. This is a well structured and balanced wine that is medium-to-full-bodied and is ready to enjoy now or can be aged up to 5 years.

Winemaker’s Notes

The Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from vineyards up and down the Napa Valley. This wine exhibits a deep burgundy color with intense aromas of cassis, sweet herbs and hints of pipe tobacco. Intriguing flavors of ripe black cherries, deep, briary red fruits, and old world complexities linger throughout the finish. This is a well structured and balanced wine that is medium-to-full-bodied and is ready to enjoy now or can be aged up to 5 years.