Monthly Archives: March 2012

HANDS Cabernet Sauvignon – Robertson, South Africa

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HANDS Cabernet Sauvignon – Robertson, South Africa

This recent discovery could easily become a staple at our house due not only to its rich taste but also its incredible price point. HANDS can usually be found for a little less than $10.00. I’ve been lucky enough to find it priced as low as $8.99 at one of my favorite shops in Asheville NC; The Asheville Wine Market.  I have also found it in the $10-11.00 range at local wine stores in Florida.

Originally introduced to this lovely wine by a neighbor and friend I have gone out of my way to buy it when I come across it.  It is reliable and a great everyday wine. Even better it can be shared with others without any concern over its affordability. Having said that I will have to share this with my wine snobbier friends [ OK friend non-plural 🙂 ] and see if I can actually get them to accept the fact once and for all that there are good $10.00 wines out there to be had.

I was not able to find much information about this particular wine on-line. That said, it does come from the wine region of Robertson; a South African up and coming wine region once known for its thoroughbred horses and now credited with producing good quality well priced wines. Should you go shopping for this one in particular do not be confused with all the different “HANDS” out there; 2 Hands, 14 hands, Purple Hands etc….

Lets give HANDS a much deserved hand, SALUD!

My notes: sweet dark fruit (raspberry, blackberry, plum, cherry)  tobacco, cedar, leather, coffee, pepper, minerality, earthy, GREAT with dark chocolate!

Notes on-line: Intense, Currant, Full-bodied

South Africa produced in the Robertson Valley by Excelsior, this Cabernet offers bold, intense black currant and plum flavors framed with toasty oak. It finishes smoothly. Enjoy it with red meats and hearty dishes.

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

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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

Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…./ Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais

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Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…./ Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais

Food pairing can always be exciting, traumatizing or best a learning experience. I chalked this one up to an exciting learning experience. Thank the powers that be for the internet and well-informed wine rep’s or salespeople.

My research prior to our recent 2012 St. Patrick’s Day supper led me to three varietals for our corned beef, cabbage and potatoes au gratin casserole: Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais.  Our choices were:

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence, Les Halos de Jupiter (Cambie) Côtes-du-Rhône 2009 [Grenache], Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009 [Beaujolais].

All three wines were easily attained through local retailers and were either a “featured wine” or an “employee recommendation”.  More importantly all  were less than $15.00 each.  Unplanned was the fact that all 3 turned out to be French wines.

Our original plan was to pick one varietal and go with it. But once in the store and intrigued by how each would taste with our main entrée it was decided we would pick one of each and have our very own First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! I’m not sure our recently visited family members in Ireland would approve but they seemed to be pretty understanding when it came to drinking any type of beverage.

Luckily for me and our party of 7 none of the wines was a bust. We had 2 standouts and one probably described as not robust enough to meld with all the different meal flavors involved.  Not being a big  “Rose” fan I was pleasantly surprised to see how well this dry Rose in particular paired with our meal. This easily could have been the winner of the evening with 6 out of 7 of the group favoring it but then came the mostly Grenache blend. This turned out to be the true hit of the night; robust, peppery with very nice fruit aromas on the nose such as strawberry. It was close but the 2009 Les Halos de Jupiter gets our Shamrock Trophy for 2012.

I am looking forward to the next challenge, SALUD!

Wine notes:

LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009;

90 points Wine Spectator: “[$23 list] Sleek but concentrated, with delicious dark cherry confiture, Linzer torte and blackberry notes backed by a graphite- and black tea-filled finish. Sneakily long. Drink now through 2012. 2,000 cases made. (6/15/11)”

88-90 points Robert Parker: “An outrageous wine sourced from Visan, Cairanne and Rasteau is the 2009 Cotes du Rhone. Dominated by Grenache, it comes across like a mini-Chateauneuf du Pape. Its dark ruby/purple color is followed by boisterous kirsch, sandy, loamy soil, tobacco leaf, pepper and spice notes. Generously endowed, round, silky textured and explosively fruity, it is an enormously satisfying wine to drink over the next 3-4 years. (Oct 2010)”.

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence   

Crisp, Berry, Strawberry, Cherry, Light-bodied

France- Lively and fragrant, this beautiful Rose from Provence shows alluring aromas of ripe berries and dark flowers. The flavors of ripe strawberry and wild cherry are presented in a sophisticated manner that preserves the character of the fruit, but in a dry, straightforward style.

Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009   

90 Wine Advocate:

Wine Advocate – Beaujolais, France – “On the nose aromas of strawberry and cherry preserve, Infectiously juicy and bright, it finishes invigoratingly and mouth watering with tart berry and salt, yet an undertone of meatiness also persists that is apt to become more prominent as the wine evolves.”

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This is a great post, very well written. My favorite thus far is the Casal Garcia Vinho Verde {Green Wine}. Available at Total Wine and even grocery stores for $6-9.00. Salud! And HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

Señorita Vino

Poor St. Patrick. A lifetime of saintly deeds, and all he gets in return is an annual drinking holiday. This Saturday, millions will don plastic leprechaun hats while bobbing in a virtual sea of green beer, all in the name of Ireland’s patron saint. Which brings us to the topic of green wine.  In the spirit of St. Patty’s Day, Señorita Vino proudly presents her official primer on ‘green’ wine.

1. Vinho Verde

You guessed right, chicos y chicas. ‘Vinho Verde’ is Portuguese for ‘green wine.’ But this Portuguese wine is not green in color. ‘Green’ in this case is referring to youthfulness (see number 2 below), so the correct translation would be ‘young wine.’ Vinho Verde wines can be white, red or rosé. The key is to drink this wine soon after you buy it, because it’s not meant to be aged. A white Vinho Verde tends to…

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Asheville North Carolina’s own – BILTMORE Century Red Wine

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Front facade of Biltmore Estate, Asheville, No...

Asheville North Carolina’s own: BILTMORE Century Red Wine

We discovered this wine about 8 years ago while visiting the beautiful Biltmore Estate in Asheville North Carolina and their vineyard. More importantly their tasting room! Although wines were plentiful, for some reason this one in particular stuck out.  As we returned with other visiting guests to our Tryon NC home over the years we were repeatedly drawn to this one blend as we ordered cases to take home or had friends buy bottles for us as they visited. For years this particular blend was only available at the Estate itself. A few years ago on-line ordering was expanded to include our other home state of Florida which made ordering easy but the shipping costs not pretty. Originally priced in the $16.00 range shipping would put it in the mid-low $20’s range. Not exactly a deal for what we considered a very good every day wine.

Flash forward, while visiting our home in North Carolina, I walk into a Fresh Market and what do I see but BILTMORE Century Red Wine for $9.99!!! My next automatic step was to call friends down south to see how many bottles I should drive back upon my return.  Let’s just say a dent in the inventory was made. At $16.00 this wine is good at $9.99 this wine is GREAT.

A few years ago as my hankering for wine knowledge expanded I decided to research this wine to see why I was attracted to it. As it turns out this blend includes Sangiovese [one of my favorites varietals] and Merlot a varietal I am appreciating more so every day.  Although I have seen this wine priced in the $9-11.00 range at local grocery stores it is still $15.99 on the website with possible discounts for quantity purchases. If you can find it, give it a try! SALUD!

My notes: A Sangiovese/Merlot blend,  light to medium in body, dark in color, robust [I think of it as a controlled fruit bomb],  pepper, tobacco on the nose with the taste and acidity of strawberry and dark plum as it opens. I recommend decanting for about 30 min.

Discovering Sauternes: Château Doisy-Védrines 2008

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Doisy Vedrines 

Doisy-Védrines 2008

We discovered this particular dessert wine through one of our Total Wines and More classes last year. Not being fans of sweet or in our minds “dessert” wines we were quickly impressed by this one in particular and  its subtlety.  A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon with hints of honeysuckle, lychee and pear on the nose. The same on the tongue, as well as an undertone of honey as it warms. It is truly elegant and builds on your palate nicely.

The average price for a 375ml bottle runs just under $30.00. For us not an everyday dessert wine [Is there such a thing? I am sure there is for some..] but a great treat for special occasions and to share with wine loving  friends.  Salud!

Winemaker’s Notes

Owner and winemaker Olivier Castéja says that the direction the wind is blowing at harvest is a good indication of the quality of the vintage; if you can hear the train it signifies that the wind is blowing from the west and conditions are likely to be dry, if you can hear the motorway to the east, then bad weather could be on its way. Fortunately in 2008, the only sound to be heard during the harvest was the train clattering along the railway track to the west, and the weather was warm, fine and dry throughout.

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A blog after my own heart…

Dave McIntyre's WineLine

Mention Argentina and wine, and the first word to any oenophile’s mind will be “malbec.” Argentina’s success with its signature red grape over the past decade has been astounding and could be a case study for marketing classes. Argentina’s wine exports to the United States have surpassed Chile’s, and Cahors, the French appellation that relies on the grape, has defied French convention by putting its name on labels and branding its wine as “the French malbec.”

Well, surprise – Argentina has much more to offer than just malbec. Think fresh, elegant cabernet sauvignon; plummy, earthy syrah; and juicy bonarda. Most exciting may be Argentina’s pinot noir, including some delicious examples that prove once and for all that pinot does not have to be expensive to be good. (For this column, I’ll stick to red wines, though I’m partial to the aromatic whites made from the torrontes grape.)

These…

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