Category Archives: Napa Valley

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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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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Meeting Girard Winery’s Marco DiGiulio

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In-store tasting WFMNMIA

 

They had me at “Girard”.  Recently I was asked by a wine distributor if I’d have an interest in hosting a Meet the Winemaker event for our store, Whole Foods Market North Miami.  Said winemaker would be in town for other events and was interested in doing a tasting/bottle signing event. Since we’d done well with other similar events the offer was put on the table. It was true, we’d had great success in the recent past with winemakers in our store.  Our customers and team members truly enjoyed the one on one interaction and learning experience of these “Rock Star” wine moments.

 

Bottle Signing

 

So far so good, but the question was being put to me during the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve trifecta of shopping and retail event madness.  My head was spinning. I recall I mustered the strength to ask “can you tell me who it is?” and the distributor replied Marco Digiulio of Girard Winery. I am sure the distributor went on with a short history of the winery and their wines. All I heard was “Girard“……

 

 

Artistry poured WhineCheersWine

Girard just happens to be the producer of one of my favorite wines: Artistry. A consistently excellent fruit rich yet earthy Napa red blend that I consider to be one of my special occasion go-to wines.  In fact when I was hired by Whole Foods as a Specialty Beverage Buyer and asked to list my top wines for the department you can bet Girard was on there. At the time I was able to bring in their Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and Artistry. Presently, we also stock their Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. On my in-store wish list is the Petite Sirah, presently out of stock and the Old Vine Zinfandel which knocked my socks off.

 

Girard Tasting 2015

 

Whole Foods NMIA CalendarMeeting Marco, yes we are now on a first name basis although some refer to him as Girard’s “Chief Wine Overlord”, was a wonderful opportunity for me to taste and compare earlier, current and new vintages. It was also my first time trying the white wines of Girard. Wines I can now recommend to our customers as I tell them what style of wine-making went into these productions. Stories I picked up from Girard’s Chief Wine Overlord himself.  ¡SALUD!

Top 10 Wines – 2014

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TOP 10 Wines Picked by You

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As 2014 comes to a speedy end it is time to let the Whine and Cheers readers decide what the TOP wines of the year were for them. With close to 40,000 hits it’s interesting to see which wines are being researched the most.

Even more compelling to me is where these searches are coming from. Listed below at the end of this post you’ll find the TOP 15 countries [out of 96!] where searches were initiated leading them to Whine and Cheers for Wine.  For those wonderingRepublic of Tanzania came in at number 16!

As the drum-roll begins I have to admit that one post in particular wins the gold star for most hits all year-long. No matter the day, the week or the month, wine drinkers are intrigued and their attention peaked. The honor belongs to Australia’s 19 CRIMES Red Blend. Wonderfully marketed, its fan base continues to grow.

BEERCAMP@WCW2014For this TOP 10 wine list it will be exactly that, wines not themes. But it is intriguing to note that Beer with;  My 12 Days of Beer Camp, along with Winemaker Visits  B.R. Cohn Visits Whole Foods and Wine Clubs;  Hit or Miss the Wall Street Journal Wine Club would have made the TOP 10 otherwise.   So here we go….

 The Whine and Cheers For Wine Top 10 of 2014 picked by the general wine researching public!

 

Guilty! 19 Crimes

The Luck of the Blends – The Dreaming Tree Crush by Steve Reeder & Dave Matthews

HANDS Cabernet Sauvignon – Robertson, South Africa 

THE SHOW Pinot Noir on the road – from Chile to California

Joel Gott Zinfandel – 2011 vs. 2009

APOTHIC RED – 2010 Winemakers Blend

Wine Discovery of the Week – DiamAndes 2012 Perlita Malbec-Syrah

SALDO –The Prisoner Wine Company

Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur 2009

Tablao Red Wine Navarra 2012

with 2 others close behind:

Honig Napa 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon – My First Wine of 2014

Revisiting Trivento’s Amado Sur Red Blend

 

Just as with the different countries visiting our site I am glad to see a nice variety of wines and varietals represented on this TOP list: Argentina, Napa, California, Spain, Bordeaux, Chile, South Africa and Australia.

No real common denominator other than the fact they were all found here by you along with others from around the globe.  Our world being brought together one wine at a time….. ¡SALUD! 

THE SHOW 2012  Diamandes Perlita @WCW2014EWM_SaldoZinfChateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur 2009

 

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Tablao

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SALDO – The Prisoner Wine Company

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whineandcheersforwine.com

This wine has been a house favorite for quite a few years. I do not remember exactly how I came to discover it but most likely the introduction was made by a certain Zinfandel loving pair we call neighbors and great friends. Gotta love it when friends and wine come together.

Originally from Dave Phinney the winemaker/founder for The Prisoner / Orin Swift wines. SALDO is now produced by The Prisoner Wine Company since the sale of the company in 2009. From TPWC:

When we took ownership of The Prisoner and Saldo in 2009 from Orin Swift, we knew assembling the right team would be essential. With more than a decade of winemaking experience at Ravenswood crafting Zinfandel, Jen Beloz was the ideal person to take the lead. In order to remain true to the wine’s original style and vision, Jen worked alongside Dave Phinney, founder of The Prisoner, for the first two vintages.

Interestingly many wine lovers and fans of these wines think that Orin Swift is a real person. In fact the name was created by Dave Phinney himself. Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift his mother’s maiden name.

saldoBefore SALDO the wine gets you hooked, the bottle label or lack thereof grabs your attention. I love the minimalism of the old-fashioned, retro for most, hand embossed label. Customers enjoy not only looking at it but touching and reliving their memories of making their own labels.

From TPWC: The word “saldo” has various meanings throughout the romance languages of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. In Spanish, it mainly refers to “balance on hand,” and sometimes it can also be interpreted “from here and there.”

Most recently vino and friendship crossed paths again and I got to enjoy the 2011 vintage SALDO at a local Miami Beach restaurant with an out-of-town friend. Once I saw it on the wine menu, and well priced at that, the decision was made. This rich, velvety, medium bodied, fruit forward blend of 83% Zinfandel, 11% Petite Sirah, 6% Syrah paired beautifully with dishes such as; Ropa Vieja [Cuban shredded beef], Oxtail, Beef Tenderloin, grilled brussels sprouts, cheese grits, macaroni and cheese and even tostones [fried plantains]. Heck, it drank deliciously by itself.

whineandcheersforwine.com

Winemaker Notes:

The 2011 Saldo has an intense ruby color and bold aromas of dark berry fruit, blueberry pie, cardamom and baking spice. The entry is rich and full, and leads into a broad mid palate with concentration and density, backed by lively acidity. The texture is soft and velvety, with polished tannins. The finish is long with persistent notes of chocolate, roasted coffee bean and vanilla spice.

I like the consistency SALDO has shown along the way since first produced in 2007. I recommend it regularly at our store and it has become a customer favorite.  This wine is perfect for not only the Zin lovers and grill-masters out there but also for fans of big bold medium bodied, full flavored red blends. ¡SALUD!

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.