Monthly Archives: October 2012

My life in Zin continues with Four Vines 2009 Old Vine Cuvée

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Four Vines 2009 Old Vine Cuvée

Interesting how I cannot get Zin-ful thoughts out of my head. As I have stated before, most recently in My Zinful Weekend post: Zin to the left of me, Zin to the right…Zin everywhere I turn.

This is yet another wine that I have discovered via my Wine Stewardship with Winn-Dixie.  The price range is $$8.00-$12.00 at your local wine source including grocery stores with sales and coupons bringing down the price to as low as $6-7.00!  Let’s just cut to the chase: at the lower price range I would classify this as a BUY! Even at a $10.00+ price point still a very good buy.  I would compare it to other mass-produced [nothing wrong with that] Zinfandel’s in the $15-$20.00 range. Plus you just have to give them extra points for calling their product “Cuvée”.

Purple Wine CompanyFour Vines originally started by Christian Tietje in 1994 was sold to the Purple Wine Company in 2010. As per Wine Spectator;  a little-known Sonoma firm led by one of the founders of the successful Blackstone brand which was sold off to Constellation Brands in 2001. Purple Wine Company was also in the news earlier this year for selling off their popular Mark West Pinot Noir to again Constellation for a reported $160,000,000.00. Still owned by Purple Wine Company are; Avalon, Bex, Four Vines and Cryptic.

From Wine Spectator who has rated this wine 86 points: Purple Wine focuses on varietal-specific brands such as Mark West Pinot Noir [now sold off], Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon and Rock Rabbit Sauvignon Blanc. Wines are produced in various facilities around the state, including the firm’s warehouse plant in Graton. Its sister business is Sonoma Wine Company, a custom crush and private label house. 

Having  not read the back label or done any research on this wine prior to tasting, I was surprised at how close our descriptions came. From my notes:

Light to medium tannins. Fruit, spice [all-spice/cloves], eucalyptus and wood [oak] on the nose. On the palate; peppery, spicy, fruit forward [berry/plum] but not jammy, fruity finish more woody as it opened.

The Four Vines OVC  turned out to be a tasty wine we paired with leftover pot-roast. I do not believe anyone would guess I only paid $7-$8 for this wine. And quite honestly I would do it again. Even better I now have a low price good quality old vine Zinfandel to recommend to my customers and friends. ¡SALUD!

K&L Wine Merchants:

Four Vines’ “Old Vine Cuvée” is a multi-appellation Zinfandel blend assembled from fruit leftover from their other Zin productions. In this bottling, Four Vines aims to produce a consistenty generous, fruity and easy-drinking Zin, styled for immediate drinking pleasure. With layers of juicy blackberry and black plum aromas with hints of licorice and smokey spice in the nose, it’s hard not to resist! The palate is rich and velvety, with toasty oak and baking spice accenting the finish. This is fun, no-holds-barred Zinfandel and priced to party.

Pete’s Wine Shop:

Four Vines has such a great wealth of Zinfandel that they have the ability to put together a fantastic multi-appellation Zinfandel Blend. On the nose the wine has layers of berry fruit and anise aromas with hints of spice. On the palate, blackberry and spicy plum fruit with a rich mouth feel trailing to a velvety toasted oak finish. The fruit comes from Sonoma, Paso Robles, Amador, Lodi and Mendocino Counties.Related articles

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Kirkland Signature 2010 Bordeaux Superieur – Costco Wine

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COSTCO Bordeaux Superieur 

Yes it is true; COSTCO wine! No they actually do not make the wine themselves but  have developed relationships with winemakers around the globe. Examples include; France, Italy, Argentina and our own California region. With vast research group information in-hand defining what their customer base enjoys in specific varietals or blends COSTCO negotiates and teams with winemakers to produce a “private label” product for their warehouse type stores.  They are not alone. Sams Club Trader Joe’s and Total Wine & More admittedly also take part in similar practices as does my very own Winn-Dixie grocery store chain.  If done well it is a great way to control pricing and distribution along with providing your product an exclusivity factor because these wines would only be available at your stores.

I hate to admit that I regularly spend one of my two days off checking out the competition nearby; Fresh Market, Whole Foods, Costco and Total Wines & More. Not only am I looking for price comparisons but also products I do not sell and new discoveries to imbibe and share with friends. This is how I discovered the Kirkland Signature 2010 Bordeaux Superieur Gran Vin de Bordeaux. At $6.99, my first foray into Costco wines. I am happy to report that except for COSTCO who’s pricing structure boggles the mind sometimes, Winn-Dixie wines are very competitively priced and usually sale priced lower than the other establishments mentioned.

Label notes:

70% Merlot 30% Cabernet Sauvignon

Chateau Gardera is a fine producer of Bordeaux Superieur wine, an outstanding source for this Kirkland Signature wine.  Bordeaux Superieur an appellation that covers the same area as Bordeaux AOC is known for smaller yields. The property is situated on slopes to the south of St Emilion overlooking the Garonne River. A carefully selected blend was aged 12 months in Allier french oak barrels creating a luscious well balanced and easy drinking wine that exudes finesse   The high quality fruit has aromas of ripe cherries  black currant berries and subtle toasted notes which flow to a generous palate and silky tannin’s. Drink now through 2016.

My notes:

Garnet in color, the following aromas on the nose were detected upon decanting; red ripe fruit, tobacco, oak and a richness to it as it opened. Smooth medium tannins were noted along with the fact that it was drinkable straight out of the bottle as it was opened. Decanting not required but still suggested.  A lingering sour grape finish was noted at first but as time passed and the wine breathed this became better defined as a dry finish.  The nose started to fade at about 30 minutes yet its sweetness became stronger on the palate along with the detection of cocoa.

At the price of $6.99 this is a very drinkable wine. Worthy of a price point twice as high. That said, it was not very exciting. A good any day wine? Sure. An affordable wine? YES. A wine you’d jot down on your shopping list and buy every time you got the chance? No, not for me. But considering the fact that Wine Spectator recently rated the 2009 vintage of this wine at 87 points there may be many out there that would disagree.

Doing further research on the Kirkland Signature Series I was impressed to find quite the variety of wines available.  I am intrigued by their Meritage and even more so a Costco Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Looks like I know what I will be doing on one of my upcoming days off…. ¡SALUD!

My St Francis Winery Trio – Sonoma County

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My St Francis Trinity…

Somehow over the last couple of weeks I took a trip to California’s Sonoma County without ever leaving my house. No packing or long airport lines just a corkscrew, three bottles of wine [not simultaneously] and my wine glass.  Of course I wouldn’t really mind the stress of a cross-country trip to sit among the vines but luckily these wines helped me to better understand Sonoma County and its many appellations including; Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and others.

I have had my eye on these wines for a few months hoping for and taking advantage of sales as they came to fruition. All three of these wines were purchased at Winn-Dixie where I am employed as their Wine Steward. Retail prices range from about $13.00 to $25.00 and are also available at other fine establishments including, yes, even grocery stores with fine wine selections.

St Francis Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma 2008

We retail this wine at $22.99 but I just saw it on-line for $24.99. Luckily for me a recent sale brought it down to $17.99. Wish I would have bought more!
This rich dark garnet colored, I actually noted “tar like”, wine showed syrupy looking legs as it was decanted and poured in a glass. Strong vinous aromas to start, with dark fruit, oak, tobacco and what I placed as violet leading the pack.  Very rich in texture this medium to full body wine coats your mouth with long lingering tannins.
Winemaker notes:
The grapes in this classic varietal come from five of the top Sonoma County appellations: Sonoma Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley and one of the most recently established appellations Rockpile. Hand-picked at harvest,  the fully ripened clusters are crushed into temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and fermented from eight to fifteen days. After fermentation, the wine is pressed and then aged in different lots for twenty to twenty – three months in new American and French oak barrels. Once the desired lots are selected and blended, the wine is bottled and held another four to eight months so that it’s fully developed by time of release.

This Cabernet Sauvignon has rich varietal character and body. The wine’s firm structure, generous tannins, and depth of color complement classic aromas and flavors of ripe black currant, spicy tobacco, dark chocolate, cassis and spicy oak.

Awards:

SILVER MEDAL, 2011 SONOMA COUNTY HARVEST FAIR WINE COMP. Built and focused, the black-fruited ’08 St Francis Cabernet exhibits plenty of richness from start to finish; soft tannins in the aftertaste.

Wine Enthusiast review:

Good price for a nicely complex Cabernet for drinking now. Dry and smooth in tannins, it shows ripe blackberry, cherry, licorice and herb flavors, with a kiss of oak. -Wine Enthusiast, 87 Points

St Francis 2010 Chardonnay

This wine retails in the $14-16.00 range but I have seen it recently as low as $12.00.

Medium golden in color this fruity oaked Chardonnay brought stone fruits such as apricots and peaches to my senses along with pears, citrus and a minerality on the nose and palate. Not overly rich,  I would recommend this selection for those who like some oak in their Chardonnay’s but not an overwhelming buttery amount.

It was left-over and appetizers for dinner night at our house and this Chardonnay paired deliciously with this ragtag line up; rotisserie chicken salad with walnuts, smoked crab dip, Cajun smoked salmon dip, triple crème brie and even Gorgonzola. Bet you thought I was kidding….

Winemaker notes:

Our Sonoma County Chardonnay derives its flavor from a unique blend of some of Sonoma County’s finest vineyards. hand-picked at the peak of ripeness, this 100% Chardonnay is whole cluster pressed to enhance fruit character then barrel and malolactic fermented to heighten flavor and enrich the mouthfeel.  Aromas of fresh melon combine with hints of hazelnut and citrus. This  medium-bodied Sonoma County Chardonnay displays fresh flavors of butterscotch and pineapple, followed by crisp acidity and a rich, lingering finish.

Awards:

Sonoma County Harvest Fair – Best of Class

2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition – Silver Medal

St 2008 Francis Old Vine Zinfandel

This Zinfandel produced from 55 to 100-year-old vines is priced in the $20.00-$22.00 range with sale prices sometimes bringing it down into the $18 range. I am an Old Vine Zinfandel fan as evidenced recently by my Zin-ful Weekend post so this wine always intrigued me.

Tawny garnet in color I noted this wine was almost brown. It’s ageability of 3-5 years may explain this occurence.  Not super fruity at decanting; wood, spices such as cinammon, nutmeg and clove were detected along with raisins and casis as the wine breathed.  On the palate a spicy dark peppery taste was noted with the wine opening to a caramel, butterscotch delicate burnt smoke taste.  With the ALC level listed at 15.5% I would recommend decanting this Old Vine Zin for at least 30-40 minutes because it truly does soften nicely with the passing of time.

Wine making notes;

The grapes in our Sonoma County Old Vines Zinfandel come from vineyards in Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley and Dry Creek Valley. These vines range in age from 55 to 100 years old, producing low yields of fruit with highly concentrated, intense flavors. All grapes are hand-harvested, gently de-stemmed and crushed before cold-soaking for three days to extract optimal color and flavor. The fruit is then inoculated with many different yeast strains to build complexity, then fermented in separate lots using a combination of pumpovers and delestage to soften tannins. Secondary malolactic fermentation occurs in 50% American and 50% French oak barrels – 25% of which are new.

In closing:

For those who may have thought this post to be about Saint Francis who on July 16, 1228,  was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX and is known as the patron saint of animals and the enviroment I hope you were not too disappointed.  I’d like to think Saint Francis is watching over not only my hounds but me and mine too.

¡SALUD!

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Having seen multiple articles published as of late about this [to most] little known varietal I have decided to repost this entry. The Carmenere continues to be a favorite here although that may be obvious to those who search the varietal on this site. A quick review noted at least 5 discussed this year. The Carmenere also continues to be a good seller in the South Florida market mostly due to the “in the know” South American population. As I like to say;
Here’s to spreading the gospel. SALUD!

Whine And Cheers For Wine

Battle of the Carmenere’s, Don Manuel 2009 vs. Anakena 2010

As you may have read in previous blogs, Carmenere was one of my favorite discoveries last year. I have since been spreading the gospel of this signature Chilean, albeit originally Bordeaux, varietal ever since.

Luckily for my friends, okay only the friends that actually listen to the ravings of this wine lover, they have discovered and become enamored by this grape too.

This leads us to last weeks Sunday supper. On the menu was homemade tomato basil soup. Researching what wine to serve I repeatedly came across Merlot as one of the options. This reminded me of the fact that Carmenere, thought to be extinct for years, was discovered in Chile during the 1990’s inadvertently being grown as Merlot. Dilemma solved! If experts thought Chile’s Carmenere was Merlot I sure could exchange them at our wine novice dinner. So the

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My Zin-ful Weekend – Old Vine Zinfandel that is..

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My weekend of Zin….

I must confess. It wasn’t planned and I had no control over it. Well, almost no control,  I guess I could have said no but since it was mostly my idea and I was hosting; I must enter my plea as; guilty.

My weekend was Zin-ful, full of Zin everywhere I turned. Zin Zin Zin. It was innocent enough when it started Friday after work over pizza. Ending Sunday night surrounded by friends over artesian cheeses [thank you Winn Dixie Cheese Steward!] and my lamb chili in what now has become known as BYO-Zin night.

As most of these unplanned social get togethers go the fourth or so wine is always a little difficult to recall but I did my best at keeping notes on as many of the wines as possible.

Starting the weekend off was the Project Paso 2009 Paso Robles Old Vine Zinfandel a new discovery for me and one I enjoyed so much I have shared it with friends and customers ever since. This wine is produced by Don Sebastiani and Sons who are known for producing accessibly priced quality wines:

The search for the class grapes led our grandfather to Sam Balakian in Paso Robles 30 years ago. Since then, we have been quietly blending Paso Robles juice to add depth, spice and complexity to our California appellation wines. What started out as a small project has now come to fruition. To pay homage to all the work our families have done over the past three decades, we felt it only proper to keep the name “Project Paso.”

Winemaker NotesThere is a vast complexity of flavors and aromas in this wine, driven by the unique Paso Robles soils and the blend of three Zinfandel vineyards. The nose opens up with dried fruit and concentrated blueberry aromas, with white pepper, warm Indian spices, and a touch of gaminess rounding out the background. This wine is similarly complex on the palate, with chocolate-covered cherry flavors balanced by old vine spice and a hint of sweet cigar. Earthy, medium-bodied, with a touch of minerality, this varietally correct Zinfandel gets its depth from Paso’s red soils.

My notes for Project Paso 2009 Paso Robles Old Vine Zinfandel:

Lingering full legs on the glass, dark fruit forward even jammy on the nose with prune, raisin and black cherry. Medium body with medium to light tannins. Very berry on the palate with a dark drier finish softening nicely as it opens.  Comments from guests; Classic Zin, vanilla taste, sugared plum scent, tasted dried fruits and a bit of chocolate, very earthy, lovely red color,  not too strong, not too weak..just right.

I usually see the Project Paso priced in the $14.99 range but recently as low as $11.99. Even lower on-line where it is attainable in the $10.00 range. At the lower price points [$10-$12] this is a BUY selection for me.

ST. Amant Mohr Fry Ranch 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi Appellation.

Next up: A discovery at one of our Total Wine & More classes last year that I was somehow able to cellar this long.  We were blown away by this powerful and intense Zinfandel at that time and I can see why.  In comparison to the other Zinfandels we sampled it is the NEW WORLD style of wine winner; very flavorful as all the others were but bolder. This one made the others seem as light as a Pinot Noir. Priced at $19.99 here is information provided by Total Wine & More:

Lodi, CA- In the heart of the Lodi Appellation. A classic Old Vine Zin – big, ripe, and chewy with rich raspberry and spicy blackberry flavors finishing with soft supple tannins. From the Mohr-Fry Ranch vineyard with 66+ year old vines. Certified green sustainable winegrowing vineyard.

My notes for the ST. Amant Mohr Fry Ranch 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel:

Dark and rich in color. Raisin, plum and prune on the nose with some wood [oak, cedar?].  Also, tobacco, violet/licorice and sweet fruit smell noted. In addition; blackberry and cocoa were detected on the palate.

This wine would be a worthy repeat offender for when I am again feeling Zin-ful and a good example of how different same varietal wines can be. This is a strong, bold, powerful, chewy wine.  In a good way of course 🙂

Predator 2011 Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi Appellation

I was first introduced to this consistently good wine, also from Lodi, a couple of years ago by close friends.  In fact, friends in attendance at the BYO-Zinfandel social mentioned earlier.  Same friends who had me buy them three cases recently when I came across Predator at our local Fresh Market store.  As per the manager; I made his day! as I loaded my shopping cart with 36+ bottles.

Produced by Rutherford Wine Company the 2011 vintage was recently awarded the Silver Medals in the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition and I love the fact that they use lady bugs as a natural method of removing insects harmful to the vines.

Winemaker notes:

Predator Zinfandel is sourced from 50+year old vines that produce rich and intensely flavored fruit. The resulting wine is big and bold with hallmark “old vine” velvety texture, spice and vibrant varietal flavors.  The lady bug is a natural predator that feeds on insects harmful to plants.  “Natural predation” is just one of the many sustainable vineyard practices that eliminates the need for synthetic pesticides.

My notes:

Medium garnet in color, Pinot Noir like in body. No legs to speak of at first, surprising because of the +14% alcohol level, but developing somehow soon afterwards.  Sugar cured ham on the nose! I am not crazy or alone. Others report it to be bacon. Also noted was a spicy orange peel that may also have to do with the ham, leather, cocoa, casis, and a moist aroma I would describe as wet earth or possibly mushrooms. Light tannins with an acidic finish that was balanced out nicely by food and time as wine was decanted.

Quite the night was had by all and quite the Zin-filled weekend for me. Officially five Old Vine Zinfandels were recorded [I still have the bottles!] and I have written about three here. The other two were;

Adventurous Macchia 2009 Amador County Zinfandel Linsteadt Vineyard available at Total Wine and the 2009 Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel

Although quite varied all were representative of the Zinfandel varietal and are very worthy of a repeat performance at the next POP UP BYO-Zin party but with better note taking practices required!!  That said I am already wondering what the next BYO varietal theme should be…..

¡SALUD!

From Wine-Searcher:

Zinfandel (or ‘Zin’as it is affectionately known in its American homelands) is a dark-skinned red wine grape variety widely cultivated in California. It arrived in the Americas from Europe in the early years of the 19th century, and was an immediate success in its Napa and Sonoma strongholds. It wasn’t until DNA research was carried out in California in the 1990s that the variety was confirmed (as had long been suspected) to be Italy’s Primitivo under a different name, or Crljenak Kastelanski, originally from Croatia’s Adriatic coast.