Monthly Archives: March 2013

Provenance Vineyards – Napa Valley 2008 Merlot

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Provenance Vineyards – Napa Valley 2008 Merlot

I first discovered this winemaker a couple of years ago thanks to a dear friend and big Napa fan. In fact I presently have a 2007 and 2009 Cab Franc along with their 2006 Merlot in my cellar. For those keeping count; the wine cellar is still the guest room 🙂

Having tried them all I can say I find these wines to be worthy of repeat purchases. The 2008 Merlot referenced here came to me at a great price via WTSO.com  – Wines til Sold Out .  Usually priced at about $35.00 per bottle the WTSO deal came in at $17.00 each by buying 4 bottles with free shipping.

Wine Spectator rates the overall 2008 Napa Merlot vintage at 89 points – Cool year with uneven ripening; a mixed bag. The Provenance 2008 Napa Merlot came in at 88 points – Sleek and elegant, with red currant and tomato leaf notes to the appealing cherry and cedar flavors. Drink now through 2015. 7,400 cases made. I would almost agree – rating this wine in the 88-90 point range.

In researching Provenance I discovered that winemaker Tom Rinaldi had made wines at wineries such as; Rutherford Hill, Freemark Abbey and helped start one of my favorites Duckhorn Vineyards in 1978.  He is presently the Wine Director for Provenance with Chris Cooney as Winemaker.  Hewitt Vineyard is a sister winery.  I  also had not realized that the grapes used by Provenance are actually from different vineyards within Napa: Recognized as one of the world’s great wine regions, Napa Valley is only 30 miles long and a few miles wide at its broadest point. Within this slender area, a few sub-appellations have demonstrated that they can produce superior Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. By selecting top vineyards in these sub-appellations  Provenance Vineyards showcases the unique personalities of Napa Valley’s best growing regions.

My notes

First off I noticed the aroma of new wood [oak] on the nose. A recent addition to my olfactory palette thanks to my increasing interest in Scotch and Whiskey. Dark sweet fruit forwardness was also noted along with the fact that this wine came across as very well-balanced [fruit:wood].  On the palate I was pleasantly surprised to note that this wine tasted exactly as it smelled with the addition of pepper, cedar/cigar box and later mint or sage to its lingering finish. We paired this wine with yeasty rolls and an incredible homemade, if I do say so myself, Cuban red bean soup. I did not notice much development in the wine from decanting to polishing off in a two-hour period but this Merlot was a great match for the strongly flavored hearty vegetarian soup.

As noted earlier I do find Provenance wines worthy of repeat performances. I have yet to be disappointed by them and now that I realize I have different vintages in the cellar I cannot wait to do comparisons! Again, the things I have to do in the name of research.

¡SALUD!

Red Wine by Provenance Vineyards from Napa Valley, California.  The 2008 vintage gave our Napa Valley Merlot great structure and deep, concentrated fruit character. The wine’s aromas and flavors express rich, velvety layers of black cherry, ripe plum, dark chocolate, clove, sage and tangerine zest. Notes of vanilla and cedar come from aging in more than 40 percent new oak barrels. The firm tannin structure beautifully supports the highly extracted flavors, making it an outstanding food wine, especially with grilled or roasted beef, lamb, pork or game, or with wild mushrooms. As a foodie as well as a winemaker, Chris recommends this Merlot with Moroccan lamb tagine and couscous with fragrant spices and preserved lemons.

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St. Patrick’s Day Wine

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Grenache Rosé wine.

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching I find myself feeling more PINK than GREEN. My manhood intact, sparkling and non-sparkling Rosés are calling to me big time.  March 17th falls this year on a Sunday, and I love my #SundaySupper,  so we have begun to plan our annual get together for friends and family. What could we do to stir things up: Corned Beef Empanadas?

As I review our options I recalled last years post; Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…. and our very First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! A lot of things have changed since then, my new career for one, but interestingly the Rosé wine came close to taking last years 2012 prize.  One year later Pink is on my mind once again…..

Below is last years Corned Beef wine pairing including the winner which won by just one vote.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day &  Sláinte!

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 locally, either as 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.”

For the Love of Zin: Joel Gott – 2009 Zinfandel

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Joel Gott – 2009 Zinfandel

Life without Zin finally caught up to me. That, and the great sale price of $9.99 from $18.99.  I find I am not alone since I just ordered another case for our store this week.  It is interesting how sale prices draw attention to wines one might not know. Once discovered our customers keep coming back for more whether on sale or not for the most part, but of course more so with a deal to be had.

As a lover of Zinfandel, per my many posts on this varietal,  I  had my eye on this one in particular for a while.  Once the sale was announced I had no excuse.  Even better I enjoyed it and have recommended it to our customers ever since. Therefore our diminishing inventory 🙂

The 2009 vintage, released September 2011,  is 100% Zinfandel from various areas in California: Napa Valley, Amador, Lodi, Dry Creek, Mendocino and Russian River.  Barrel aging was done in 30% new American oak and comes in with an approximate alcohol level of  14.5%.

My notes:

Dark fruit on the nose such as; plum, prune and raisin. In addition I  sensed green pepper, grass and cedar/oak. On the palate the addition of cherry [red fruit]  may explain why I was surprised to note a strong sweetness I usually do not note on this varietal, but this faded nicely to the background as the wine breathed and expanded. An hour into the drinking experience I also noted an earthiness of dirt/soil and Kirsch [again cherry].

We truly enjoyed adding this wine to our repertoire and am already looking forward to trying it again. Conveniently the 2011 vintage has now arrived at our store and SIDE by SIDE taste test immediately started screaming in my head!  Ahh..the things I must do for The Love of Zin.  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker tasting notes:

The 2009 Joel Gott Zinfandel has aromas of sweet cherries, plums, blackberries and vanilla spice. The wine is juicy and full of red fruit, with a soft mid-palate and a bright, lingering raspberry finish. Drier in style than most Zinfandels.

2009 Wine growing notes:

Throughout California, 2009 was an exceptional harvest—touted by many as the best vintage of the decade. Moderate temperatures across the state allowed the fruit to ripen slowly, creating good quality fruit with great flavor and depth. Dry farmed, old-head-trained vines in Lodi and Amador produced dark, intense, structured fruit, while fruit from the Napa Valley harvest added power and complexity. The cooler climates of Dry Creek, Mendocino and Russian River produced fruit with classic, peppery Zinfandel aromatics, good acidity and great fruit flavors. Bringing together fruit from these varied regions helped to create a balanced Zinfandel.

Winemaker information:

While running Palisades Market in Calistoga in the early 1990s, Joel Gott noticed a growing need for quality, value wines. Having worked at Kenwood Winery in Sonoma County, and with a family history in the business, Joel felt sure he could fill this void in the marketplace.

In 1996, Joel purchased a few tons of Zinfandel from family friend and grape grower Tom Dillian. With the help of then-girlfriend—and winemaker at Joseph Phelps—Sarah, Joel produced his first vintage of Dillian Ranch Amador County Zinfandel. The wine received praise from Robert Parker and Wine Spectator, which was all the encouragement Joel needed to produce additional varietals.

Creating quality, balanced important wines continued to be important, and in 2005 the 815 California Cabernet Sauvignon won a Food & Wine American Wine Award. Two years later the California Zinfandel would do the same. Joel Gott Wines continues to grow and receive accolades for delivering a great product at a value price point.