Category Archives: Whole Foods Market

Napa Valley – Mount Veeder Winery 2010 vs. 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

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Mount Veeder Winery

I am finding it quite interesting to revisit previous posts on Whine and Cheers. Comparing  vintages from the same producers adds to the excitement.

A recent promotional Amazon/Whole Foods Market wine program did the job of reminding me about Mount Veeder Winery and their 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. My original post is provided below.

Fast forward to 2018 as I find one lonely bottle of the 2014 in a display of the 2015 vintage. Cue the spotlight and celebratory music in the background. Yes, I realize I am a wine geek. But I am a wine geek that just found a highly regarded 92 point rated wine that I may never see again!

And that’s how this review came to be. Well actually will come to be,  because I haven’t tried the wine as of yet. Wait for it; I will be partaking and writing my post LIVE or as live as it can be by the time you are reading this. I usually, have my wine, collect my  notes. do some research and write as the spirit moves me.  Well, not today! Is that a cork I hear popping?  Or is it the sound of my Coravin slurping…

Winemaker Notes

Deep ruby in color with intense dark fruit aromas of black currant, followed by wet earth, mushroom, and caramelized sugar. Hints of dried herb and the classic California bay that is a signature of Mt. Veeder round out the nose. Earthy flavors that evoke the mountain follow, along with dark chocolate, black olive, and sweet bay leaf. The palate is long and rich with classic cassis flavors that linger. The soaring structure and acidity ensure its age-ability for years to come. 

Blend: 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc, 2% Syrah, and 1% Malbec.

My Notes, happening now:

Herbaceous with red and dark fruit on the nose, including; white pepper, bay leaf, forest floor,  mushrooms and some alcohol that soon dissipates.  For me it was fruitier on the finish than at the front palate.  Although a bit tight at the start, decanting or aging will make this a smooth beauty in the days to come.

On-line acclaim:

92 Pt James SucklingAromas of plums and terracotta follow through to a medium to full body, soft and velvety tannins and a juicy finish. Delicious already. Drink now or hold.

So glad I got to rediscover this old favorite. Happy to also see that a new vintage is available so I have some catching up to do. Did someone say 2015? 2016? I need to start making some room in the wine cellar. ¡SALUD!

The previous post…….

I have my new customer base at Whole Foods Market North Miami to thank for introducing me to the Mount Veeder Winery Cabernet Sauvignon.  Customer after customer, probably better described as fans of this wine have repeatedly let me know how well priced [$30-32.00 range] this wine is at our store. I’ve had shoppers buy it by the case [with an extra 10% discount]  tell me they can’t get it better priced on-line or via wine clubs. Good for them and good for us!

Mount Veeder Winery in Napa Valley, was the first to grow all five red Bordeaux varietals planted on the same property. In fact this Cabernet is actually made up of; 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec.

Winery info:

Mount Veeder Winery is a dramatic estate with three vineyards carved high in the hillsides of the Mayacamas Mountains, overlooking southern Napa Valley. The property totals 121 acres, mostly forest and brush, out of which only 47 are planted to vine.

Vines ranging from 1,000–1,600 feet in elevation cling to rugged, steep slopes that offer cool conditions that lead to slow ripening, which extends the growing season. Mount Veeder is usually the last to harvest in Napa Valley. The result is fruit with highly concentrated flavors – big, bold and brambly – a Cab lover’s feast.

My notes:

Dark ruby-red in color I noted the fact the nose was so well-balanced immediately as I decanted. Within minutes wood [oak] started to overtake the dark fruit. The aroma of leather arrived soon afterwards with the return of rich fruit as mere minutes passed.

With bold tannins and medium body this wine needs to breathe/open.  A richness developed at the 20-30 minute mark with eucalyptus and an earthiness on the nose and palate.  At one and a half hours cocoa, cigar box  and a fruit finish was established. By the 2 hour mark the herbaceous notes on the nose expanded along with vanilla on the palate.  At 3 hours my notes just read; incredible smoothness.

Obviously I enjoyed this wine and I can see why many of my customers do also. Would I decant this wine for 3 hours? Probably not. But I have to admit the “smooth” epiphany at one and a half hours was well worth the wait!  Not only will I need patience when pouring this wine again, yes I have another bottle in the cellar, but I will also need the gift of patience to wait and not open it tonight!  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker Jane Myers notes:

Appearance: Deep ruby
Aromas: Ripe black currant, dark cherry, and lilac interlace with black pepper, bay leaves, coffee, and toasted oak to create a rich, dense nose.
Flavors: Powerful, rich, and textured notes of dark cherry, ripe plum, caramel, and vanilla weave an intense, voluminous mouthfeel accented by hints of anise and mocha. The back palate is rounded out by a lengthy yet smooth finish of vibrant sweet oak, tobacco leaves, and black olives.

Time in Oak: 20 months

Type of Oak: 70% new oak, predominantly French with some American oak.

Total Acidity: 6.1 g/l

Alcohol: 14%

Additional winery info:

Mount Veeder Winery was one born from the hard work and dedication of Michael and Arlene Bernstein.  The Bernsteins first discovered the rugged property in the early 1960s and later bought it as a rustic retreat.  In the ensuing years they transformed it into an enviable vineyard, almost by accident. After farming the property’s prune orchard for the first few years, a farmhand who lived on the property presented the Bernsteins with a bundle of cast-off grapevine cuttings.  Michael stuck the unrooted cuttings into the ground and never gave them a drop of water.  Miraculously, of the 60 cuttings planted, 58 lived.  Michael turned his full attention to the vines and built his land into a thriving vineyard, ultimately making history as the first vintner in Napa Valley to plant one property to all five of the classic Bordeaux varieties.

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I’ve been taken Prisoner yet again! The Prisoner Wine Co.

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The excitement was in the air recently with the new 2017 vintage release by The Prisoner Wine Company. Weeks before,  the previous vintage had sold out and I had prepared my team for the barrage of daily questions as to why it wasn’t available or when new product would arrive.

The past couple of Prisoner releases I had noticed that the wines improved with age versus being good upon release. Those days are behind us now and I am happy to report that not only do we have stocked shelves but the 2017 is drinking beautifully now.

A lot has changed in the wine world since I wrote about The Prisoner a few years ago. See original post below.  The one constant or I should say “constants” are; excellent quality and the popularity of the brand continues to draw excited customers.

My notes:

On the nose detected syrah and zinfandel notes along with a light oak woodiness. On the palate, although fruit forward at the front palate,  I was very surprised at its restraint compared to what I expected.  I found the finish earthy and with a bit of alcohol detected. While decanted it started to open up nicely and quickly. As mentioned above; surprised that the wine was drinking so well now.

While thinking about writing this review I decided to take a peak in the wine cellar. Okay, one of my wine cellars. I was very excited to find  2007 (!) and 2013 vintages awaiting my trial!

I think I may enjoy this “being taken Prisoner” part of my job…. ¡SALUD!

 

Orin Swift 2008 The Prisoner Napa Valley Red Wine

After many years of hearing about this wine and its fabulousness I finally had the chance to partake thanks to having received the 2008 vintage, a 92 pointer per Wine Spectator,  as a birthday gift this past year.   I now know what all the hoopla is about and can see why The Prisoner has and continues to develop a following selling out year after year. To think I was able to cellar mine for 6 months before finally letting myself be imprisoned. Unbeknownst to me the 2008 has been sold out for a while now, along with the 2009. For the most part only the 2010 is now available, running approximately $28-38.00.

This Orin Swift Proprietary Blend contains mostly Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon with smaller amounts of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Charbono and Grenache also, coming across as very well-integrated.

Opaque and ruby garnet in color I detected; leather, black pepper, cedar, raw green pepper and dark ripe fruits in the nose. Peppery on the tongue I detected flavors of; blackberry, vanilla, spice, cherry, the acidity of plum. Fig, raisin & prune as it opened and even more so in the long finish.

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Picture It! 1924

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1924

Gnarly Head’s 1924 Double Black Red Wine Blend is an ode to the days of Prohibition. As per the label: “wine’s darkest hour when it was deemed illegal”. Luckily for us, the year 1924 was also when this winery set down their wine roots.

I recently discovered this Limited Edition Gnarly Head production in our wine department at Whole Foods. My beverage buyer had decided to bring it in and create a small display. After sampling this wine, we may want to go bigger.

Having enjoyed Gnarly Head wines, mostly Zinfandel, this Lodi California blend caught my eye. The frosted bottle didn’t hurt either. The fact that it is presently priced under $10 pretty much decided it for me right then and there. Tonight’s wine was chosen.

Slightly chilled to room temperature, remember I live in the tropics, this wine poured a dark rich garnet purple color. The nose boomed with power and excitement of dark fruit such as; blackberry, fig, blueberry, raisin with a bit of cocoa thrown in. The palate was pretty much the same with a bit more chocolate and the addition of caramel.

This velvety fruit forward bold field blend managed to satisfy all my wine needs. This says a lot of a wine at this price point. Luckily I am not alone. Wine Enthusiast rated a recent vintage 90 points and classified it under their BEST BUY distinction. VIVINO app customers also rate it highly. This easy drinker is a secret no more.

I am predicting that with in-store wine tastings our small display will need refilling on a regular basis. A great example of QPR [quality to price ratio] if I ever did see one. Here’s to spreading the wine gospel!

¡SALUD!

 

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.

Mexican Wine! Pavo Real 2012 Red Blend

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IMG_3288Yes it’s true: Mexican wine has finally made it to Whole Foods Market North Miami.

Many of our guests are surprised to hear “our new Mexican wine” once they enter our Specialty department. Some already in the know, are beyond excited to get their hands on a bottle or bottles as the case may be.  I am happy to report that we have sold multiple cases since its arrival only three weeks ago.  A testament to the customers who buy one bottle for its newness factor and return happy to buy more.

During my time in the wine biz [spoiler alert career anniversary quickly approaching]  I probably averaged about two or three requests a year from customers about wines from Mexico. Most of them having discovered them while on vacation there and raving about them upon returning home.

Although wine making is not new to Mexico, history tells us wine was introduced to the area by Spanish missionaries, it was not exported due to limited production levels. As the popularity of wine growing increased in the Valle de Guadalupe so did its production and exporting beyond the west coast became possible. The more I learn about this area and its now 100+ wineries the higher the Baja Peninsula gets on my to-do list!

As regular readers may already know I love discovering new wine trivia, varietals etc. Well the Pavo Real falls into this category in a big way!  Wine from Mexico, check. Wine made by a famous sommelier, who knew? Turns out that for those of us who are fans of the movie SOMM [if you haven’t seen it add it to your queue STAT], from their web-site: A prestigious blender: The wines are blended by prestigious and internationally recognized sommelier, Ian Cauble. Ian Cauble has been a Master Sommelier since 2012 and gained worldwide recognition when featured in the critically acclaimed documentary Somm, which documented Ian’s journey to pass the infamously difficult Master Sommelier exam.  And lastly for me, a new varietal to add to my list!

The blend listed on the Pavo Real includes; 50% Grenache; 20% Cabernet Sauvignon; 20% Ruby Cabernet; 10% Barbera.  Ruby Cabernet? I had never heard of such a varietal. Turns out, thank you Wikipedia;

Ruby Cabernet is a red Olmo grape variety that is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Carignan, it can produce wines with good colour and a pleasant cherry flavour, but is mostly blended into bulk wines.  And for those wondering what an Olmo grape variety is;  Olmo grapes are wine and table grape varieties produced by University of California, Davis viticulturist Dr. Harold Olmo. Over the course of his nearly 50-year career, Dr. Olmo bred a wide variety of both grapes by means of both crossing varieties from the same species or creating hybrid grapes from cultivars of different Vitis species.

My notes:

On the nose, earthy aromas bringing mushrooms and fallen leaves to mind with red fruits in the background including strawberries and raspberries. Light bodied seeming when poured.  On the palate; medium/light body but flavorful, nicely balanced fruit, not overly fruity, restrained with peppery spices on the finish.

The Pavo Real, which translates into Peacock by the way, seemed to evaporate before my very eyes, well actually once poured into my wine glass is more like it.  This is an easy-drinker which I think would please crowds when entertaining [someone say Cinco de Mayo?] and also when having a quiet romantic evening for one such as I did. The price point of under $15 makes it a no-brainer with some deals out there showing Pavo Real available in the $10-$13 range plus shipping.  I hear they have a white wine out there too. I can dream can’t I?

VIVA MEXICO! and ¡SALUD!

 

BLENDER’S NOTES
“Pavo Real Red Wine exhibits intense and fruit forward aromas of dried strawberry, black cherry liqueur, black currants, crushed pomegranates, violets, wet leaves, wild herbs, black pepper, cacao nibs, wet leather and dried clay. The palate is full, layered, rich and spicy with flavors of preserved raspberries, strawberries, bitter chocolate, dried herbs and baking spices.”

A DELICIOUS PAIRING:  This intense and flavorful wine demands a rich meal. Beef fajitas with grilled onions and spicy chorizo dishes will stand up to Pavo Real Red Wine. Pair with sweet sopapillas for a decadent Pavo Real experience.

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.”

 

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.