Category Archives: Malbec World Day

Brazil’s Romero Britto & Argentina’s Bodega Norton come together over Wine

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Norton

Bodegas Norton Limited Edition Barrel Select 2015

Famed Miami Beach, via Brazil, artist Romero Britto has partnered with Argentina’s Bodega Norton for their 2015 Barrel Select wine.

Britto now brings his stylized Pop-Art to wine with his beautifully layered “Limited Edition” label showing optimism and love via the celebration of two wine glasses and so much more.

 

This 100% Malbec out of Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina are from vines 15-30 years old.

 

WINERY OVERVIEW
Founded in 1895, Bodega Norton is one of the strongest Argentine brands in the US. Bodega Norton combines a modern, state-of-the-art facility with rich heritage and old world charm. The average vine age of its five vineyards is between 30-80 years old, driving richness and depth across the entire portfolio. Bodega Norton produces exceptional wines at appealing price points and has enormous potential to grow consumer mind share and popularity in the United States.

My notes:

Deep, dark burgundy red hue in the glass. Legs for days, 13.4% ALC. Boysenberry and cooked fruits on the nose. Medium bodied. Rich but not a fruit bomb. Should decant a bit or age about 2 years to soften. Medium level tannins with a dry finish including lilac and violet notes. Overall fruit and spice well-balanced. Serve with food.

This bold wine handcrafted by the highly regarded David Bonomi [see below] is a good opportunity for wine drinkers to maybe expand beyond their usual wine choices and find a well made wine at an affordable price. Usually found for less that $15.00 and closer to $12.00, this is a perfect choice for an everyday wine that does not break the bank yet impresses.  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker notes: 

Deeply red with violet hues. Aromas of ripe red fruits,
cassis and pepper. Sweet on the palate, friendly
tannins with spicy flavors.

David Bonomi – Chief Winemaker

Part of a new generation of young, innovative winemakers causing a stir in the industry, David first discovered his passion for wine working in his father´s vineyard. Born in Mendoza, Argentina, to a family of Italian immigrants with winemaking heritage, David explains: “The relationship with wine, in our family, was always our livelihood.” As his enthusiasm for the wine world grew he decided to study a degree in Winemaking at Don Bosco University and Juan Agustín Maza University. Since then, David´s wines at Bodega Norton have been awarded more than 95 points, recognized by critics as among the best in the world. And in 2017, Decanter magazine included David in its list of the Top 10 Best Winemakers in South America.

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Caymus Sails From Argentina to Napa via Red Schooner Voyage 4

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CSchooner BTLrazy talk: Caymus Malbec? Napa? Argentina? Wagner Family? Followed by, how could they use the Caymus name? Trademark fraud! All these confused thoughts popped into my head simultaneously as I reviewed a restaurant’s wine list over lunch with the parental units to celebrate a birthday.  There it was, Caymus Malbec. I didn’t order the wine that day, and very soon regretted it.

As days passed and the shocking thoughts calmed I remembered meeting with a winemaker from Argentina who happened to mention that a BIG name in Napa Valley was buying most of their grapes. He didn’t know what they were doing with it and asked if I’d heard anything.  I of course had not. Fast forward and we have the; Red Schooner by Caymus Vineyards, yes that Wagner Family Wines.

From Red Schooner Winery;

For more than 40 years we have been making dark, rich red wine from Napa Valley. We are also, perhaps not surprisingly, avid consumers of diverse wines from around the globe. We still love to learn about California with its array of soils and extreme maritime-influenced climate, but we have also found that venturing far afield helps us see what is close by in unexpected ways. And for us this perspective inspired us to experiment in a way we wouldn’t have imagined even 10 or 15 years ago.The Red Schooner label and name evoke the challenge – along with the thrill – of voyage and discovery. Since our experiment falls outside the normal rules and we think our “chill-and-ship” may even be a first in the world of fine wine making, we were unable to use standard labeling practices. You won’t find a vintage date, varietal or grape origin on our label. Instead Red Schooner is a “Red Wine of the World” and it will be known by the voyage from which it was produced.

 

ScoonerCorkHaving connected all the Caymus dots, I looked for the opportunity to return to the same restaurant. Before me appeared the opportunity: out-of-town visiting relatives with a request for restaurant eating.  Having recently had such a good experience my better-half unbeknownst suggested the same! restaurant. Now you know why they’re referred to as my better-half.  Dinner night arrives, menu’s are scanned, and I suggest a bottle of red wine for the table. Instead of the expected “sure why not” I hear “NO!!!! we want cocktails instead”.  I scan the table to no avail for any possible takers that would share this possibly magical event with me and then I order Bourbon instead…..

Days later still focused on trying this boutique-wine, I found myself at a wine super-store chain to no avail thanks to little assistance from the newly hired very friendly clerk. About to give up I finally ordered a bottle of Red Schooner online, but wait for it, from the same said super-store chain that claimed to not have it yet I picked it up two hours later at the same location! Deep breaths. At least now I had my wine safely in-hand patiently waiting for a night to pour, sniff and taste.

My tasting notes

Dark and ink-like, the color coats the glass and has legs for days with an alcohol level of 14.75.  A great nose with wood [cedar, oak vanilla], caramel, butterscotch, chocolate licorice and berry [strawberry, raspberry].  On the palate, full-bodied with red fruit, chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, fig, dried dates/prunes, Crème de cassis and to me the tropical fruit sapodilla.  Jammy as it opened I imagine the Caymus Red Schooner Voyage 4 would pair perfectly with fatty foods, rich sauces and grilled meats.

Happy to say I have now experienced the Red Schooner Voyage 4 which of course now makes me want to taste the previous voyages to compare. Is it worthy? I say yes. For fans of the big, bold and fruit forward Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon this is a perfect wine. Does it scream Malbec? Not particularly. Does it taste like a Caymus? Oh yeah……  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker’s Notes

This Malbec is made from grapes grown in the Andes Mountains, shipped chilled to Napa Valley and produced with the same techniques as our Caymus Cabernet. Falling outside standard labeling rules, it does not include a vintage date but is known by the voyage from which it was produced (Voyage 4 is the 2013 vintage). Offering scents of ripe plums and cherries, this wine is powerful and supple, with flavors of French oak and soft tannins.

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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Wine Spectator Top 100 – #44 Piattelli Vineyards 2013 Malbec

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PIATTELLI MALBEC 2013Piattelli Vineyards 2013 Malbec Premium Reserve

I discovered this big luscious Argentinian Malbec when I brought it into our store about six months ago.  It was an instant hit, not only with me, but with all the customers I pointed in its direction.  Developing a big following locally it has now been discovered nationally thanks to Wine Spectator and their annual Top 100 list.  So much so that I’m ordering extra to keep in stock as long as possible. WS Top 100 wines tend to disappear quickly when chosen and once the vintage is gone……

 

Wine Spectator notes: 

“Redolent of blueberry and dark currant, this fresh, pure style is matched with plenty of minerally components. The complex finish offers white pepper and bittersweet chocolate details. Drink now through 2019.”

Winemaker notes:

“A striking, slightly smoky wine with a deep burgundy hue, Premium Reserve Malbec’s fruity bouquet delights the senses and warms the palate with notes of blackberries, blueberries and lavender, lingers with a gentle tannin pull, and finishes with subtle flavors of toasted hazelnuts.”

This 100% Malbec originates from the rocky soils of the Luján de Cuyo region elevation of 3,200 feet in Argentina. Coming in at 14% alcohol this wine is aged for 8 months in oak barrels. The Piattelli family immigrated from Tuscany Italy in the 1940’s. Bringing with them their passion for wine.

My notes:piattelli-malbec-2013

Fruit forward richness on the nose; currant, blackberry and some red fruit too, strawberry. Also oak in the background and a spicy earthiness as it opened up. On the palate I mostly noticed red fruits and cola at the start with a quick change to a drier spicy woody, not oak per sé, but possibly tobacco and cocoa as it opened. Hard to pin down. A fact that may have more to do with pairing a sweeter tomato based pasta sauce with this vino.

Will I continue to recommend this under $20 wine to my fans of big, bold, new world wines? Yes! Will I continue to buy this wine for myself? Yes! Will I pair it with pasta sauce again? Heck no! Lesson learned.  ¡SALUD!

 

Wine Spectator Top 100 – #45 tikal Patriota 2012 Malbec Bonarda Blend

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TIKALtikal Patriota 2012 Malbec Bonarda

Once again I was excited to discover a recent 2014 WINE SPECTATOR Top 100 selection among our shelves at Whole Foods Market North Miami. This Ernesto Catena (the eldest son of Nicolás Catena of Catena Zapata) wine had been selling briskly ever since I brought it in a few months ago but now that the word is out I am constantly refilling our shelves. Here’s hoping it continues to be available and does not sell out quickly as vinos tend to do once praised with this kind of attention. Luckily for us earlier vintages have also been rated in the 90+ range and deservedly so.

Ernesto Catena Vineyards info: Tikal is owned by Ernesto Catena and is named after his son. Ernesto spent his childhood in the vineyards of Mendoza among wine-growers and local pundits. Since then, he has experienced a kaleidoscope of cultures, living in New York, Buenos Aires, Berkeley, Cambridge (MA), Milan and London. But his heart remains in his homeland of Argentina (where he now lives), with its natural beauty of mountains, streams and vineyards, its wines, and its people who hold a special passion for living.

Luis Reginato is the winemaker at Tikal behind the 2012 vintage. He has been with TIKAL and the Catena family since 2002 overseeing various wine lines.  In the 10 plus years he has developed a reputation of having a Midas-touch producing wines consistently rated in the 90+ range.  Usually coming in under $25.00, I like the fact that these wines are not exaggeratedly priced. The Tikal Patriota can currently be found for $18-$23.00.

I have long been a fan of the Malbec and Bonarda varietals and am excited to see such blends increasing in the marketplace. Some even including Syrah. This one in particular comes in at 60% Malbec and 40% Bonarda from Vista Flores and La Vendimia Mendoza. Aged 12 months in 70% French and 30% American oak.

My notes included red fruit [strawberry, raspberry] on the nose along with vanilla spiciness. On the palate the fruit flavors turned darker [plum, blackberry], chocolate, with the oak spiciness and earthiness at mid-palate and beyond. For me I think this wine needed to age a bit in the bottle or decant for longer. Although I started to imbibe as soon as the cork was popped, I did not note a varied difference at the 1 hour mark. Unfortunately I was not able to give the wine more time to develop which I feel it would have. Did I enjoy it? Wholeheartedly yes.  Will I continue to recommend this wine and praise its accolades? Yes again. But, the next time I serve this wine you can bet it will be decanted for over an hour or if patience allows I’ll be drinking it 1-2 years from now when I believe it will be at its true peak. ¡SALUD!

 

Winemaker’s Notes

Deep reddish purple with aromas of bright berry/cherry fruit. Like swallowing a whole bowl of mixed ripe berries at once. Big body yet very balanced, with luscious layers of raspberry, cherry, and cocoa flavors. Just a hint of baking spice at the end brings it all together. Pairs well with grilled meats such as beef and pork, smoked ham, and even pizza with meat toppings. Incredibly fun to drink!

WS Tasting Note

Tikal Patriota 2012 is a blend of 60% Bonarda and 40% Malbec hand harvested with no fining and no filtering and aged 70% in French oak (40% new) and 30% in 2nd use American oak. This Argentine red offers intense layered flavors of raspberry, cherry, cocoa, with a hint of spice, full body and excellent balance with a long finish. “A rich red, packed with concentrated flavors of blackberry, dark plum and mocha, featuring plenty of dark chocolate notes. Offers a ripe texture, with creamy accents and hints of savory herb on the long finish.” -Wine Spectator (91 Points)

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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Revisiting Trivento’s Amado Sur Red Blend

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Recently I had the urge and opportunity to revisit an Argentinian blend that originally caught my eye two years ago. This wine regularly makes the Wine Spectator Smart Buy list and has rated between 88 – 91 points for each vintage over the last 7 years. Pretty good for a wine that averages $15.00 a bottle.  Even more so when one comes across coupons and sales! My 2012 came in at $11.99 and I’ll be the first to admit I’d probably pay twice that much.

Prior to reviewing my 2010 post I was happy to find many similarities as I popped the cork and experienced this Malbec, Bonarda, Syrah blend.  My 2012 notes:

On the nose; dark fruit [blackberry], leather, wood [oak] in the background. Fruit moving forward as it opened. Earthiness gathering strength at about the 30 minute mark.

On the palate; black pepper, cocoa and dark fruits that intensified as the wine opened. Soft velvety tannins noted at the 30-40 minute mark.

Below you’ll find my 2010 review of the Amado Sur where I asked the question: Can a wine make you feel warm and cozy?  I am glad to report that two years later the velvety 2012 vintage felt like home. Searching for a great value? This may be the one.  ¡SALUD!

Warm and Cozy with Trivento’s

 2010 Amado Sur from Argentina

The luck of the red blends was with us again recently when I finally sat down to experience this delicious wine.  As I’ve asked before; can a wine make you feel warm and cozy? My answer is YES and for me the Amado Sur falls into this category.

I was drawn to this wine in our store because of its varietal blend; 80% Malbec, 10% Bonarda and 10% Syrah. Being a fan of all three led me to believe that I was going to enjoy their coming together and boy did I ever. I seem to not be the only one because it is flying off our shelves. I can take credit for a few bottles myself plus the happy returning customers that I have recommended Amado Sur to, but not the one to two cases we are going through weekly. So much so that we just ordered 10 cases for an end-cap display.  With the added benefit of a sale price and coupons we may just be ordering even more soon.

Trivento information from Banfi Importers: When in the mid-1990s Concha y Toro, Chile’s leading wine producer, announced its successful purchase a collection of vineyards (now accounting for 3,185 acres) in the Mendoza region of neighboring Argentina, there was little doubt on either side of the Andes that change was in the air. Wind is the agent of change, so it was only fitting that the new venture was named “ Trivento” (Three Winds), a whimsical reference to three winds that sweep through Mendoza and are such a distinguishing feature of the region’s climate and environment.

Upon decanting the first thing I noticed was its rich aroma which included; dark fruit, caramel and an undertone of wood.  As it breathed I also noted; black pepper, blackberry, black olive and oak on the nose.  Once poured its bright garnet color, more so along the edges of the glass, brought attention to the lovely slow-moving legs. Both of these I believe a cause of the wines alcohol level.  Additionally noted on the palate were; chocolate, a sweetening of the wine as it opened and what I listed as violet but in actuality may have been anise or licorice.

Winemaker notes: A deep red wine with dark blue tones and aromas of dark fruit combining with notes of black pepper, anise, cinnamon and chocolate. Lush flavors of plums and berries give way to velvety tannins and a persistent and pleasant finish.

We paired the Amado Sur with an aged cheddar cheese to start followed by pepperoni pizza. It worked very well with both, making the cheddar explode with flavor and the pizza even more spicy. I am looking forward to enjoying this wine again and again and even more so sharing it with family, friends and customers. ¡SALUD!

Price range: $12-17.00

Wine Spectator Review:

A floral red, with juicy blackberry, raspberry and plum notes supported by medium tannins, as the grippy finish unfolds with hints of mulled spice and licorice. Smart Buy. 90 Points.

Nathan Wesley – Wine Spectator – October, 2012