Category Archives: Merlot

Lunch with Orin Swift a.k.a. David Phinney

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INVITE

My lunch with Orin Swift a.k.a. David Phinney, yes THAT!! Orin Swift. The master wine-maker originally behind such incredible new-world wines such as: The Prisoner, SALDO, Locations, Blindfold, Machete, Thorn, Abstract and many more.

The setting, Cafe Boulud at the Bazilian Court in Palm Beach, just steps from Worth Avenue. Not a bad way to spend my afternoon off if I do say so myself.

 

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The meet and greet afforded us a couple of hours of quality time with David, we’re on first name basis now, where he spoke about growing up and his introduction to the world of wine, his many wine projects and even his family and favorite truck. Happy to report Mr. Phinney is very down to earth and has a fun sense of humor.

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David Phinney entertains Whole Foods & Whine and Cheers For Wine

 

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Palermo

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Abstract

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The group of about twenty five wine loving fans not only got the chance for one on one conversations  with the Master himself  but also enjoyed Cafe Boulud food pairings with a multitude of Orin Swift wines.   Included was 8 Years in the Dessert.  A mostly Zinfandel eight-pack gift set being sampled in public only for the third time ever. Usually available to wine club members which by the way has a six month waiting list. Patience is a virtue some say. David Phinney would know. The name of this set is based on his non-compete clause after selling off The Prisoner Wine Co.

Wines sampled, all pictured here; Blank Stare, Mannequin, Abstract, Machete, 8 Years in the Dessert, Mercury Head, Papillon and Palermo.

 

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Eight Days in the Dessert Gift Box

Again, what a way to spend an afternoon. How lucky am I? Having enjoyed and written about some of these very wines I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to meet the man, the legend, the master behind these incredible game changers in the wine industry.  Can’t wait to share his stories and mine with all our customers.

¡SALUD!

 

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Papillon

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Mercury Head

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Blank Stare

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Mannequin

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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.

Whole Foods Market Point of Origin – Italy / Verrazzano Rosso

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Amidst the excitement of our latest wine program at Whole Foods Market; Point of Origin / Italy, I was able to sit down and spend some time with this 2012 Tuscan red.

Verrazzano Toscana Rosso

VERAZANO @WCW2014Reading about the Verrazzano Castle and vineyards on their web-site I was surprised to find that official documents of the XIVth century describe the vineyards and the olive groves of Verrazzano. Giovanni da Verrazzano, celebrated navigator and discoverer of the bay of New York and the majority of the east coast of America, was born here in 1485. The famous bridge in New York was named after him in 1964. Proud to say I have had the honor of experiencing the Verrazzano Bridge first hand.

 

 

Notes from Whole Foods Market:

This compelling Red from the Chianti Classico region revives the old tradition of including white grapes (Trebbiano and Malvasia) in the blend, softening the vibrant juice of the red grapes. Complex aromas of youthful fresh fruits and violets. Tuscan herbs, black currant and pomegranate flavors move to a smooth finish. 

This wine using mostly Sangiovese with lesser quantities of Canaiolo, Trebbiano, Malvasia and Merlot was produced in Greve, Chianti. The soil is mostly limestone and the harvesting is done by hand. The ten month aging process was done in large Slavonian oak barrels followed by 3 months in bottle. For additional information on Slavonian oak check out Dr. Vinny of Wine Spectator by clicking here.

My notes:

On the nose; red fruit, floral [violet] and some vanilla with light resinous wood [oak, vanilla]. On the palate I found that this light/medium bodied wine had a very nice fruity balance and paired wonderfully with a tomato sauce based dish we were having.  As the wine opened and breathed it was interesting to note the fading of the fruit to the background with a peppery spiciness evolving to the forefront. Both aspects were welcomed.

I enjoyed the fact that this wine had character as it developed.  I have found myself recommending it to customers ever since. More importantly we’re experiencing customers returning for repeat purchases. Regularly priced at about $16.00 and sometimes available as low as $12.00 this new wine for Whole Foods Market North Miami is being discovered quickly.  To new wine discoveries!  ¡SALUD!

 

Winemaker notes:

Eclectic and dynamic red wine, ruby-red colour with purplish reflexes, very harmonic taste, round, of good intensity with fragrant notes of flowers and red fruits. Attractive, pleasant wine, well suited to contemporary “fusion” cuisine.
Alcohol: 13,50% vol

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

Isosceles 2009 – Justin Vineyards and Winery

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Copyright@WhineAndCheersForWine<br />ISOSCELES 2009 by Justin

A few years back I was introduced to JUSTIN Cabernet Sauvignon by friends and neighbors. It is a dry and powerful wine that sells very well for us in the store. Usually priced in the $20.00 range it is one I recommend often to customers looking for this type of Cab.

With a price range of $60-$75.00 Justin’s the ISOSCELES was often on my radar or I should say on my wish list.  Not an everyday drinker for me but a special occasion wine who’s cork was recently popped.

Justin Vineyards and Winery is located in Paso Robles appellation of California’s Central Coast.  Per their website the “appellation encompasses more than 600,000 acres and is the largest stand alone AVA in California.”  Impressive news to me a big fan of wines from this region.  “The region’s first grapes were planted in 1779 by Franciscan missionaries and today are home to the third highest concentration of wineries in the United States.” When owner Justin Baldwin began with 160 acres in 1981 only 10 wineries existed in the area.  Fast forward to 2013 and being recently named one of the best 75 wineries to visit by FOOD & WINE.

The winemakers refer to ISOSCELES as a “left bank” Bordeaux style wine.  The 2009 vintage, now mostly sold out, was an unfiltered blend of; 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot.

Vintage Notes 
The 2009 growing season began early due to a very warm spring. An early April frost affected parts of Paso Robles, but we were relatively unaffected. Consistently warm summer weather segued into a moderate early fall with some rain, but the vines shrugged off the water retaining great fruit concentration and flavor. Balanced weather through the fall allowed us to pick by flavor profiles without any concerns about excessive temperatures and as a result, our red wines from this vintage show incredible density and power of varietal expression. The style of the 2009 vintage is flashy and intense.

Maturation was over a period of 24 months in 225L French oak barrels (Bertrange, Allier, Center of France); 64% new barrels.  The bottling period was Dec. 12-21, 2011 with a release date of May 1, 2012.

My first observations were as follows: no alcohol on the nose, but plenty of earthiness, dark  fruit sweetness [noted as ripeness] and oak. Along with glass tinting slow legs which surprised me because of the noted lack of alcohol on the nose.  Alcohol reportedly at 15.5% by volume.

On the palate a dark fruit forward blast on the first sip which softened in minutes. Medium body with mid-level yet mouth covering tannins. At the one hour mark I noted better defined new wood on the nose, clove/licorice and fig.  Pepper, vanilla/spices and dark fruit [raisin/prune] on the palate.

I can see why Wine Spectator rated the 2009 ISOSCELES 93 points.  This is what I would refer to as one Easy Drinker!  Next on my Justin wish list? The 2010 ISOSCELES for comparison and Justin’s JUSTIFICATION, just because.  ¡SALUD!  

93 Points Wine Spectator: “Offers a tight, generous mix of raspberry, wild berry and pomegranate. This is pure and focused, gaining depth and velocity, ending with a long, persistent finish.” Drink now through 2022.”  9,000 cases made.

Winemaker tasting notes:

Appearance: Dark ruby in the glass with a violet rim.
Aroma: An alluring, rich mix of ripe black currants and berries faceted with vanilla, cinnamon and cocoa highlights.
Palate: Full bodied, complex black fruit of lush currants, and cherry layered with licorice and vanilla spice with chocolate, roasted coffee, and tobacco. The finish is extremely long and complex, showing firm plush tannins that bring everything together making it easy to drink it now, but implying a great future.

Below is a chart and/or link to a chart that shows Justin wines by production.  I was impressed to find this on their website.

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Château Lafitte Marcellin 2009 Côtes de Bordeaux

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Appellation: Côtes de Bordeaux
Varieties: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot.

This wine came via WTSO.com – Wines til Sold Out.  At a cost of $12.00 per bottle including shipping I could not resist this Côtes de Bordeaux or its highly regarded 2009 vintage.  The Château Lafitte Marcellin is also the third 2009 Bordeaux I write about in the last year or so.  First came the Wine Spectator 90 pt. rated 2009  Chateau de Macard Bordeaux Superieur followed by the 87 pt. rated 2010 Kirkland Signature [yes Costco!] 2010 Bordeaux Superieur.

One would think I am on a search for the perfect budget Bordeaux.  In fact I have probably been swayed by raves for the 2009/2010 vintages and am really just looking for good wine.   I’ve lucked out with my three choices thus far.  But at the same time I have not felt the urgent need to return to them either.  I am quickly realizing  my search will just have to continue. Hard work I know.

In the case of the light bodied Château Lafitte Marcellin my opinion is that it is still too young to show its true colors. Upon opening I immediately detected very tight aromas on the nose with slight fruit detectable at first.  This started to change almost immediately from just sweetness to more of a dark fruit scent. But still not powerful or forward at all.  I noted the lack of wood [this wine not aged in wood] and also a mustiness that appeared after about 10 minutes of decanting.

On the palate I noted very dry/tight unripened fruit.  At 40 minutes after decanting; dry fruit became more obvious on the nose with the addition of anise. As we passed the 60-90 minute mark the fruit scents continued to open along with a pepperiness that was not evident before.  But it did not develop much more even after 2 hours. Of course I could have been more patient but at that point there was just no more wine to let breathe 🙂

My verdict: An additional 2-5 years may tell a different story and luckily once again I have a couple more bottles in my cellar to let sit a spell. This is where I remind myself that patience is still a virtue…   ¡SALUD!

Winemaker information:

This 70% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot blend is made in
stainless steel tanks with a pre-fermentation maceration lasting
5 days, followed by fermentation for 10 days, under controlled
temperatures. The wine is then aged in vats before being bottled
on the estate.

The 35-acre vineyard of Chateau Lafitte Marcellin is nestled in the heart of rolling hillsides along the Garonne River, in the commune of Soulignac (20 miles SE of Bordeaux), with some plots located right on the slopes. This particular topography allows for maximum sunshine on dry soils with a welcome wind blowing from the banks of the Garonne. Such a micro terroir and its specific alchemy give this Cote de Bordeaux its unique attributes: a deep nose of dark berries, welcome smoothness, vibrant fruit, and firm end-of-mouth tannins.

Not far from the property, in 1946, the “Soulignac treasure” was discovered by a family ancestor. This treasure, discovered on the locality of Marcellin, consisted of a large earthenware pot containing about 65 pounds of bronze and silver coins from the Roman era, bearing the effigy of Roman rulers… They are now to be found in the Bordeaux Musee d’Aquitaine. Local legend has it that the finder cried out: “With such a treasure, we are richer than Laffite!”

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.