Category Archives: Holiday wine

Robert Parker 97 pt Rated – Louis M Martini Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

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IMG_3252Closing in on 4 years later I finally took Michael Martini’s whispered advice and sampled “the Alexander Valley”. Yes, albeit a different vintage, but yet once again a wine renowned for its quality. With many recent 90pt plus ratings, Louis M Martini wines, from Sonoma to Napa Valley, have been flying off the shelves at our Whole Foods Market. For my 2013 background story click here.  I wonder what  Michael Martini The Wine Whisperer would have to say about his 2014 vintages….

My notes:

Dark ruby-red in color. Luscious and rich fruit on the nose upon decanting with notes of; spice, resinous woods, smoky cedar, leather and a earthy/dusty quality. On the palate; deliciously red and dark fruit forward with strawberry, black currant and blackberry noted.

I have to agree with Robert Parker’s comment: “This is a beauty”.  If this Alexander Valley beauty is available to you, it is well worth the just under $30 price tag. As per The Wine Advocate review will it age well for 20 years? Probably so. But why wait. Don’t think twice. It will not disappoint.   ¡SALUD!

Winemaker notes:

The 2014 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon has received high critical praise for its decadent black cherry, black current and blackberry aromas and flavors that weave together with earthy notes of truffle, tobacco and smoky cedar. This expansive wine is dense, rich and well-structured, held together beautifully by assertive tannins that lead into a long, full finish. Its depth and structure give the wine potential to easily age a decade or more.

The Wine Advocate/Robert Parker 97pts.“The bigger, richer 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley is 98% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petite Sirah aged 16 months in 50% new French and American casks. This is a bigger wine and close to 2% higher in alcohol at 15.5%. There are 11,000 cases of this big, full-bodied, boisterous Cabernet Sauvignon that has a dense ruby/purple color, notes of underbrush, forest floor, tobacco leaf and oodles of blackcurrants and black cherries, with a touch of woodsmoke. The full-bodied wine hits the palate with a cascade of glycerin, fruit and purity. This is a beauty – dense, rich, and structured, but capable of lasting 20 or more years.”

 

Wine Spectator Top 100 – #6 Machete from Orin Swift

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img_1953The Wine Spectator Top 100 list is a BIG deal every year. Making the Top 10 and being named #6 on that list, well it doesn’t get much better for everyone from the wine makers to the consumer.

As the names and scores are released daily I immediately get questions from customers about their availability. Of course I usually beat them to the punch as I await every daily press release in the hopes that I not only know the wine but have it on my shelf at our Whole Foods Market North Miami. Wine geek much? I guess so..

fullsizerender-2As a big fan of Dave Phinney and his Orin Swift winemaking skills I knew of Machete; a Petite Sirah, Syrah, Grenache blend, but had not had the honor of trying it due to availability or distribution issues. Well that all changed when earlier this year Dave Phinney announced the sale of Orin Swift Cellars to E. & J. Gallo Wines. Since then I am happy to announce that most if not all of the Orin Swift wines have become available to me [thanks to great distributor relationships] and are flying off the shelf just by word of mouth and reputation. Well, until now of course.

With only 15,500 cases produced, a 94 point score, a TOP 100 and TOP 10 list placement by Wine Spectator the 2014 vintage may not be around for long . Fingers crossed that it is, but I am also excited by the fact that Dave Phinney will be staying on as head of Orin Swift Cellars while benefiting from the power and potential behind a partnership with E. & J. Gallo Wines¦SALUD!

My tasting notes: In all honesty this was a group tasting. Fate had me buying a bottle of Machete, to probably drink/taste alone, on the same night wine loving neighbors in need of brawny men to move a wine cellar fridge called. The stars and planets aligned. Wine cave installed, this wine was a glorious hit with all who imbibed and even garnered me a sale of multiple bottles! Our thoughts; opaque purple-black in color, big & robust on the nose with dark berries, currants, licorice, cloves and white pepper, full-bodied, drinkable now not in need of decanting, great Autumn wine, although big and bold on the nose much softer on the palate, smooth tannins, noticeable acidity.

Wine maker notes:
A nearly opaque color sets in the glass with a hard, red complexion that is almost black. Aromas of ripe blueberries and candied plum mingle with toasted oak and charred vanilla. The entry is soft and inviting which paves the way for a lush mid-palate replete with layers of ripe boysenberry and cassis. The finish showcases ripe tannins and pronounced fruit which frames the two for nearly a minute. **Bottled with 12 Different Labels, you may not receive the one pictured**
Wine Spectator notes:

Generous and expressive, big and brawny, this offers a mouthful of tannins but also brims with flavors and aromas, including Earl Grey tea, dark chocolate, dried violet and toasted gingerbread. Rich notes of plum and black cherry are balanced by forest floor and earth accents, which linger on the long finish. Petite Sirah, Syrah and Grenache. Drink now through 2030.

Machete 2014

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Arrowood Vineyards Knights Valley 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

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Arrowood Vineyards Knights Valley 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon

 

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Arrowood Vineyards sits in a beautiful valley of Sonoma County along the two-lane Sonoma Highway. Such a quiet and wonderful  location that I had to take advantage of their cozy front porch and reflect on how lucky I was to be touring wine country. Wine-tasting through Sonoma County, from its mountains and valleys to the breathtaking coastline.

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Driving through Sonoma County.

 

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Arrowood Vineyards front porch with a new friend.

From Arrowood’s organic certified single vineyard varietals to sustainably farmed and certified gems throughout Sonoma, including this Knights Valley Cab, all left a mark not only on my palate but also my trip.

 

 

9 1 points -antonio galloni February 2016 “… superb. Raspberry jam, spice, scorched earth, rose petal, cloves and new leather are some of the signatures. Knights Valley is often noted for Graves-like sense of gravel-infused minerality, naturally allied to a California expression of fruit. That is exactly what readers will find.”

 

 

 

 

 

From Arrowood Vineyards;

Knights Valley Vineyards

Tucked into the foothills of Mount Saint Helena on the remote eastern edge of Sonoma County, Knights Valley experiences a moderated climate, offering a longer and later growing season that develops dark fruit aromatics.

 

 

My notes:

The first thing I noticed was how beautifully balanced this big Cab was on the nose. Earthiness, fruit and spice all coexisting with no one factor overwhelming the other. At the same time; gentle and subtle yet profound.

On the palate the the earthy spiciness [cedar, tobacco box, coffee, eucalyptus] were in the background with rich dark fruit at the front. With medium tannins the finish was spicy and herbal [eucalyptus/anise]. Balanced on the palate as well I would suggest decanting this gorgeously rich Cabernet.

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View from Arrowood Vineyards Porch towards Sonoma Hwy.

 

When I come up with a sentence that includes “gentle and subtle yet profound” you have to know I enjoyed this wine. I can say it left a mark. 

Would I recommend this wine? You bet. Would I buy this wine myself? Oh yeah.

 

In the $40.00 range, it is not an every day wine for most of my customers but it should definitely be on the radar for their holidays and special occasions. For those with a bigger wine budget the Arrowood Knights Valley Cabernet is incredibly well priced and could easily be compared to other wines at twice the cost. Now excuse me as I start planning my next wine trip back to Sonoma or at the very least reliving my memories over a glass of wine. ¡SALUD!

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Arrowood Vineyards tasting room lobby.

 

 

Winemaker notes:

Our 2013 Knights Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is bold with black forest fruit and spiced plum, offering undertones of roasted coffee and crushed rock. Caramel and anise come through on the palate accompanied by broad tannins and a rich and persistent finish.

 

New Varietal Discovery: Bobal – Academia de los Nocturnos

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Academia de los NocturnosSpring is in the air and with it the luck of new wine discoveries. Some of which I hope to be writing about in the near future. First up is my latest Spanish find the grape varietal Bobal: thanks to Pago De Tharsys Academia de los Nocturnos, From the DO Utiel-Requena area of Valencia.

Interesting internet tidbits:

  • Utiel Requena is a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) for wines located in the province of Valencia. It takes its name from the two neighboring towns of Utiel and Requena. It is renowned for the predominant use of the Bobal grape variety. Grape growing and wine production in the area dates from at least the 7th century BC.
  • Bobal is the third most planted variety in Spain coming behind Airén  and Tempranillo.
  • Founded in 1591 Academia de los Nocturnos was a meeting place for some of Valencia’s greatest literary and artistic figures.

Third most planted grape in Spain? Have I been living under a wine glass? Always so much to learn, discover and of course share. Not knowing any of this history I fell for the fruity embodiment of what could be a big hit for my customer base at Whole Foods.

 

My tasting notes:

Light bodied, good acidity, light to no discernible tannins, red fruits noted, nice flavor richness at the back-end of palate, not fruit forward yet somewhat complex as in no one flavor jumps out, herbal/floral/spices [violet, cedar] appear on the palate after breathing 30 minutes.

I would describe this wine to be comparable to old world affordable Pinot Noir, Ventoux, and Beaujolais. An easy drinker and excellent choice for everyday drinking, as a party wine when trying to satisfy a crowd, a light Summer red (specially in Miami!), and holiday meals like Thanksgiving when you have many different styles of foods you are pairing with.  We happened to pair it with a Whole Foods Cowboy Burger, potato salad, fresh sliced tomatoes and a cucumber dill salad. This Bobal paired well with them all.

I am happy to report that three weeks after stacking the Academia de los Nocturnes in our North Miami wine department it has been discovered. Could be the cool minimal label, the newness factor, or did I mention the price? A whopping $8.99! Not even on sale, regularly priced. Yes, many factors to consider but I think the repeat customer business is all the proof we will need. To new discoveries!  ¡SALUD!

 

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words 

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Carolyn Wente visits

 

What a year! As 2014 blended into 2015 and now 2016, the wine retail dust is settling. Tastings, winemaker visits, holiday programs, classes, marketing events and more encompass my blur of a year as a Wine Buyer for Whole Foods Market. Luckily for me, lots of wine and little whine.

In no particular order some highlights of my wine filled year in photos. ¡SALUD!
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
    PIATTELLI MALBEC 201319 CRIMES WINE

Whole Foods Market NMIA

Whole Foods Market NMIA

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Aging Beautifully: Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur 2009

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Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur 2009

Recently while preparing for a four-month long home remodeling project and possible out-of-state move [don’t ask] I found myself organizing and reviewing my wine collection.  In doing so I discovered a couple of bottles of 2009 Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur.  A wine I discovered via WTSO [see story below] and have excitedly sold on and off depending on availability as the North Miami Wine Buyer for Whole Foods Market.

As one thing leads to another, as they usually do at least for me, I looked up my original review on Whine and Cheers for Wine where I found multiple references.  Not only did this wine make this sites Top 10 for 2013 and 2014 but I realized my review was dated February 2012! Hard to believe three and a half years had passed.  After rereading my rantings I’ve decided to take my own advice:  it will be interesting to see how the flavors develop over time. Or if they do. Assignment of  the day! A 2015 re-tasting of the Chateau de Macard.

50% Cabernet Franc, 39% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon

My 2015 notes;

On the nose; rich red fruit, alcohol [soon dissipated], oak, spice [vanilla], dark fruit [plum] and a mossy earthiness as it opened [5-10 minutes].

On the palate; medium body, red and dark fruit at forefront, great acidity, good tannin level and a nice mouth-feel. Over the next hour red cherry fruit and a red plum finish was noted along with spiciness [black pepper] as the wine softened but with tannin’s holding on. An hour and a half to two hours in, the wine continued to soften beautifully with floral notes, caramel, mocha and violet detected.

The 2009 Chateau de Macard continues to blossom.  In my notes I found the words beautiful and lovely used. Two descriptors not usually found in my vocabulary. I am so glad I had the perseverance or more likely the forgetfulness to save this wine for a future tasting. Lucky me! And Lucky you if you come by this wine. I have one bottle of the 2009 vintage left and a bottle of the 2012 for future scientific imbibing.  Can’t wait to see what develops. ¡SALUD!

 

 

Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur 2009

Impressed by what I keep hearing about the 2009 Bordeaux vintage and the reputation of the winemaker,  renowned Alain Aubert of Saint-Emilion estate Chateau Haut-Gravet, I purchased this through WTSO, Wines til Sold Out.  At a price of $9.99 a bottle I thought it was a great deal and value.  The way it works is that with a minimum order [4 in this example] you get free shipping, the regular or original retail price listed was $18.00.

This particular wine received a 90 pt rating from Wine Spectator along with its Smart Buy designation.  It  was also featured on the Today Show during a segment; Tips For Choosing the Perfect Holiday Wine.

Deep dark burgundy and purple in color this blend includes; Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. Upon decanting I detected dark fruit notes, a distant oak aroma and what I would describe as terroir or minerality.  Tasting after decanting 1+ hours this wine added; tobacco and  black cherry to the palate.  Showing a good acidic balance this medium bodied Bordeaux value did not taste like a $10.00 bottle of wine. I am glad I have 3 additional bottles in my cellar [the guest room :)] because it will be interesting to see how the flavors develop over time. Or if they do.  This is where willpower comes in handy…..

Salud!

Tips For Choosing The Perfect Holiday Wines As Featured on NBC’s Today Show Aired Fri Dec 09 2011
Wine To Bring To The Party [A Gift For The Host] Chateau de Macard 2009 Bordeaux Superieur AOC   $20 “One of the great wines of the year” “Shows your good taste” Sommelier Joe Bastianich
By Wine Spectator CHATEAU DE MACARD Bordeaux Superieur 2009 Score: 90 Country: France Region: Bordeaux Issue: Dec 31, 2010 Designation: Smart Buys Ripe and dense, but fresh, with silky-textured plum, blackberry and blueberry fruit carried by sweet spice and  tobacco notes. The fleshy finish shows nice drive. Should open up more with brief cellaring. Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

GUILTY! Yet Again – 19 Crimes

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This wine has legs, and I am not describing the usual wine reference. Yes, while it longingly coats your wine glass thanks to the alcohol level of about 14%, the longevity of 19 CRIMES on Whine and Cheers for Wine is admirable.  Hard to believe that I discovered this wine over two years ago as reported in GUILTY-19Crimes. In that time my original review has repeatedly made the daily Top visited list on Whine and Cheers. It is included below following this post.

Not having had it for a while and watching it continuously fly off our store shelves I decided it was time to revisit the most recent vintage of 19 CRIMES.  So excited was I that I forgot to notice the listed crime on the cork. Yes as many as you may know, each of the individual 19 crimes are listed on the cork. Turns out it was: #9 ASSAULT WITH INTENT TO ROB. Check out this short entertaining video and see how these “crimes” actually came to be:

The first thing I noticed on this new 2014 vintage was that it was lighter in body than I recalled. I would say on the light side of medium bodied. On the nose leather hit me first followed by red fruit [strawberry, raspberry] and an earthiness [think wet soil] as it opened. On the palate I detected a floral quality [violet] and red fruit [cherry] with cocoa and vanilla as it opened.

One thing didn’t change, three-quarters of the bottle disappeared before I knew what happened! 19 CRIMES continues to be an easy-drinker, a wine that can be paired well with many dishes. In fact maybe even more so now with its lighter body style. I will continue to recommend this wine to customers looking for a fruit forward blend, also those customers new to wine wanting to find their footing. Easy drinker? Check. Nicely balanced? Check. Good value? At under $13.00 you better believe it.  ¡SALUD!

photograph of imprisoned O'Reilly, 1866I recently had the pleasure of attending my first regional wine meeting for Whole Foods Market. We were introduced to hundreds of wines and given the opportunity to taste them all.  As you can imagine it was a bit difficult to differentiate the wines after the first 100 🙂  even though we were spitting and not swallowing. Luckily I took notes that I could actually read and this wine made the list.

Meet John Boyle O’Reilly [pictured at left] from the 19 CRIMES wine bottle label.  John along with others are featured via real mug shots on each bottle with the real crimes listed on each box/case of wine.

19 CRIMES WINE

The corks used in each bottle list the 19 CRIMES which could make things interesting for the cork collectors out there. I got #11 Counterfeiting The Copper Coin on my bottle. Crime #12 pictured here; BIGAMY.

From the 19 CRIMES website:

NINETEEN CRIMES turned criminals into colonists. Upon conviction British rogues guilty of those crimes were sentenced to Australia rather than death.  This punishment by “transportation” began in 1788 and many of the lawless died at sea.  The rough-hewn prisoners that reached Australia lived in servitude under the lash. Pioneers in a frontier penal colony, they forged a new country and new lives, brick by brick. This Shiraz Durif blend celebrates the rules they broke and the culture they built.

19 CRIMES wine

Soon after our regional meeting I brought in 10 cases to display in our Whole Foods Market North Miami wine department. Sales have been brisk and continue to increase as word spreads. The packaging is a big draw; frosted bottle, mug shots, historical facts. Also the sale price of $12.99 is a good price point for those willing to experiment on a new wine while maybe discovering  a new favorite.

Last night I decided to buy a bottle to make sure my somewhat blurred memory of this wine was correct.  Whew, luckily for me it was!  My notes:

Nose; rich red and dark fruit, plum, spice, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate, tobacco, molasses.

Palate; vanilla, butterscotch/molasses, pepper, violet, licorice, red fruit finish.

Not included above is my better half’s descriptor of; cherry Popsicle stick. With my dumbfounded gaze he added; “you know, not the Popsicle itself but when you chew the stick afterwards”.  Adding; “if new tennis ball can can be used by others as a descriptor then I can use cherry Popsicle stick!”  There you have it, maybe a first, right here on Whine and Cheers for Wine. Come to think of it; red fruit, cherry, wood…he may be on to something!

This wine is an easy drinker and SMOOTH. Very well-balanced for a wine with 13-14% alcohol. It disappears before your very eyes. So yes, I will continue to recommend this nicely priced, well packaged southeastern Australian blend of Shiraz and Petite Sirah aka Durif.  Heck, I’ll continue to buy it myself!  ¡SALUD!