Tag Archives: Cabernet Day

Life is a Cabernet! – Hesperian Wines Napa Valley

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InstagramTwo college friends on the phone being silly and excited about a new wine: “Life is a Cabernet old chum, life is a Cabernet“.  So began the story behind this review. A play on song lyrics from days before our time. But we won’t go there.

Celebration was in the air. Friends overdue for a wine-tasting and the news that Whine and Cheers for Wine had cracked the TOP 100 WINE BLOGS by Feedspot:  Best 100 Wine Blogs, Websites And Newsletters To Follow in 2019. Wine Transparent_1000x1000px

The stage set; wine glasses, note pads, decanters, Coravin, glass identifiers etc. We were even ready for possible pairings; cheeses, charcuterie, nuts, and chocolates along with water crackers for palate cleansing. I say “possible” pairings because as I told the parties involved: “this is all about the wine”.  We may pair, we may not. Eventually we did, but not before spending a long time getting to know the wines individually and comparatively. Hesperian pairing

 

 

Note Taking

Hesperian Wines come with quite the pedigree thanks to winemaker Philippe Langner and his hands-on experiences from Bordeaux to South Africa and now California with a Rothschild influence here or there.

From Hesperian Wines:

California’s  persistent  call  is  an  inspiration  for  the  name  for  his  domaine.  Hesperian,  or  “One  of  The  West,”  is  a  name  that  invokes  the  mythical  garden  of  Hesperides,  a  blissful  twilight  orchard  in  the  west  where  Hercules  once  tricked  Atlas  into  helping  him  complete  his  eleventh  labor.Today  Philippe  has  chosen  to  make  his  home  and  his  life’s  work  in  one  place:  a  steep,  rocky,  14-acre  vineyard  named  “Kitoko”,  the  Congolese  Lingala  word  for  “beautiful.”  This  is  the  place  he  has  chosen  to  fulfill  his  vision,  combining  his  exacting  knowledge  of  viticulture  and  his  constant  quest  for  precision—indeed  perfection—in  winemaking. 

Hesperian layout

As some of my Whine and Cheers followers may know, I prefer to know as little as possible about a wine prior to a private tasting. In a way I enjoy the discovery aspect of the relationship we are about to build.  With the history or backstory hopefully  sealing the deal.  Leaving me wanting more and looking forward to a second date.

Hearing myself as I write about my passion and the romance behind it I have come to realize that there are wines you date and wines you marry. I have now learned:  Hesperian Wines are the marrying kind.

Two wines. Both from Hesperian and wine-maker Philippe Lagner, both 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, and both from the 2015 vintage. Available through their web-site and via Club Membership.  How do the wines differ? The Hesperian Napa Valley ($100) was created by combining wines (50/50)  from Coombsville and Kitoko Vineyard on Atlas Peak. The Hesperian Kitoko Vineyard ($150) is sourced entirely from the fourteen acre Kitoko Vineyard. Only 300 cases of each were produced.

-Hesperian Napa Valley notes;

Bold nose with new wood [oak] at forefront and a dark fruit background. In addition on the palate our descriptors included; spices (black pepper),  leather (even more so on the second pour),  forest floor mossiness.  This smooth,  balanced, structured, elegant wine was all old-world style and the farthest from a fruit bomb a California wine could be.

Vintner notes: 2015 Hesperian Cabernet Sauvignon ~ Napa Valley

With a toasty, Pauillac-like profile, this has plummy and sweet fruit, with aromas that are the essence of ripe Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, a distinctive leathery-fruity smell of its own. The Wine Advocate noted its notes of “licorice, tar, black soil and sautéed herbs over a core of cassis, plum preserves and espresso with a hint of bouquet garni.” Rated 93 points James Suckling

 

-Our Hesperian Kitoko Vineyard notes:

A softer/demure nose when compared to the Napa Valley above. New wood (oak) at the forefront with red fruit compote in background. In addition on the palate; chocolate, lilac, a peaty earthiness, concentrated dry fruit (fig), anise. This single vineyard wine came across as smoother, more delicate yet wilder. It was incredible to see it develop and  come to life in a 20 minute time-span.

Vintner notes: 2015 Hesperian Cabernet Sauvignon Kitoko Vineyard ~ Napa Valley

This wine has it all. Made from 10 tons of fruit from 14 acres, low yields caused by “shatter from hell,” according to Philippe -this flaunts notes of tiramisu, black cherry liqueur, spicy oak, and money ink. The Wine Advocate loved its “cassis, crushed blackberries, cigar box and Marmite toast nose with hints of Chinese five spice and dried mint.” Gorgeous red and black fruit aromas interplay effortlessly. Rated 94 points THE WINE ADVOCATE. Rated 93 points James Suckling.

 

As you can probably tell by my accolades thus far, these wines were both big hits. Each had its own character and yet some similarities and both can easily age for ten plus years for the collectors out there. The 100% Kitoko Vineyard wine seemed more focused and wilder while the Hesperian Napa Valley came across as bold, rounder with more nuances. Probably due to the blend of the two vineyards; Kitoko and Coombsville. We found both to be inspiring in their own way and considered ourselves lucky to not have to choose between them. Each of these old-world style wines took you on a journey that you did not want to end.

As per Hesperian Wines web-site: Philippe  lives  and  works  at  Kitoko  Vineyard  on  Atlas  Peak,  and  continues  to  consult  on  viticulture  and  winemaking  matters  for  select  Napa  Valley  wineriesI find myself now looking forward to trying other vintages, previous and future, from Hesperian Wines and other wines produced by Philippe Langner.

How refreshing it is to have this kind of wine coming out of  Napa Valley.  How lucky are we to have someone of this caliber focused on celebrating the worthiness of individual varietals the way they were meant to be experienced. In this case, Life IS a Cabernet!

¡SALUD! 

Additional notes from Hesperian Wines:

Vintage 2017 Outlook

March 31st, 2019

The 2017s were blended in February and put back to barrel. It takes a while for the various lots that went intothe three blends to really integrate well. The wines are coming along nicely. Get ready for very big wines with the ‘17s. This was the vintage of the fire, and I’m very happy and relieved to report that there is no smoke taint in the wines. (I’ve had others smell and taste Hesperian’s ‘17s, and they tell me the same. Relief!)

The 2018s are fantastic, perhaps the best wines I’ve made so far. We are almost done with the first racking; some wines were starting to reduce a bit and they needed some air. Alas, we have to be patient. We won’t see these wines coming available until 2021.

 

Disclosure: media sample; all thoughts & opinions included in this post/ review are my own.

 

 

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.

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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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.

 

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.

Revisiting – Los Vascos, Cabernet Sauvignon; Colchagua Valley Chile

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LOS VASCOS 2011I originally wrote about this wine and the 2010 vintage about three years ago in my Grocery Store Wine series. I had discovered it in my role as a Wine Steward for a national grocery store chain and its Rothschild pedigree along with QPR [quality:price ratio] drew me in. When I became a Wine Buyer for Whole Foods MarketI was happy to see Los Vascos was an option for our set. At the end of this post I am including my original notes for the 2010 as we delve into the 2011 vintage.

As per the winemaker;

2011 vintage: The viticultural year was once again characterized by very dry climatic conditions, but not as severe as 2010. Advanced techniques ensured very efficient irrigation of the vineyard, and the vines were able to fully express themselves. Due to a cold spring, yields were lower than usual, comparable with 2010 levels. This resulted in smaller bunches and smaller grapes, which in turn translated into excellent concentration and remarkable quality.

It is interesting to me that the 2010 vintage is considered to be “comparable” to some degree to the 2011. For me the wines were very different. Maybe the varying use of irrigation was a factor and or even my changing palate.

The Los Vascos 5,436 acre estate is 25 miles from the sea in a closed valley at the center of Chile.  Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon is grown with small percentages of other varietals all estate bottled also included; Chardonnay, Carmenere, Syrah, Malbec. It is the largest vineyard in the Colchagua Valley and between 250,000-300,000 cases are produced of the Cabernet annually. That may explain the value factor of this wine: 3.5 million bottles. Luckily for us the quality is also there.

My notes: 

On the lighter side of medium bodied. Nose of rich dark fruit and peppery spice; cedar, tobacco box. On the palate; fruit at the forefront with spice at the mid-palate and a finish of black cherry. Lighter than your typical California Cab, more old world than new, low tannins making it an easy drinker poured right at the bottle with decanting possible but not required.

I recall the 2010 vintage as being a bit heartier but just as smooth.  I can see why this wine continues to fly off our shelves on a weekly basis. The under $10.00 price tag draws you in but the quality and easy drink-ability keep you coming back. I am looking forward to future vintages.  ¡SALUD!

Winemaker’s Notes

Bright ruby red color. Remarkably expressive with a fruity nose: aromas of blueberries, cherries, blackcurrants and raspberries blending perfectly with notes of pink pepper, paprika, curry and saffron. Velvety, full-bodied and seductive in the mouth with mild acidity and gentle tannins giving very pleasant mouthfeel.

Domaines Barons de Rothschild [Lafite]/Los Vascos, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon; Colchagua Valley Chile′LOS VASCOS 2010

For a while now I have thought about reviewing and categorizing what I would consider “Grocery Store” wines.  These would be wines that you happen to come across while doing your weekly shopping, advertised bargains [love those!], non-advertised sales [love those even more!], a bottle you may pick up on the way to a dinner party etc.  Your standard variety wine which you can pretty much get anywhere; some people swear by them others avoid them like the plague. Luckily as the general wine drinking public expands their horizons so have grocery stores when considering the selections and variety they stock including some very nice higher end options.  Of course location may define a Grocery Store wine but for the most part I will use this as a generalized term including everything from a two buck special to high-end wines which some people would never consider buying with their hard-earned $$. RULE: The wine must be available at a grocery store but with one caveat; I may go as far as including drug stores since their wine inventory is ever-increasing also.

The icing on the cake [or some may say fate] for my Grocery Store idea was pretty much sealed when about two weeks ago I was hired to be a Wine Steward for the grocer WINN-DIXIE [as covered in a recent blog post]. Grocery store wines some may ask? Welcome to my world 🙂

I have chosen the Chilean Los Vascos to be my first Grocery Store wine selection. Being completely honest I was first drawn to this wine in particular because of its SALE price. Secondly by the fact that it was from Chile and I love my South American wines. As I have started to research I am now also impressed by its pedigree:

Los Vascos one of Chile’s oldest wine estates is managed by Domaines Barons de Rothschild [Lafite], who began a comprehensive modernization and investment program in 1988. The 560 hectare vineyard is located in the Cañeten valley of the Colchagua province which offers a pre-phylloxera Bordeaux rootstock.

My notes: Color, a rich dark garnet. At opening and prior to officially decanting I detected a strong wood [oak] scent on the nose. Not overly strong but detectable up front with more dark fruit scents [plum, raisin] as it breathed. Interestingly enough as I describe the scent as “dark fruit” I also detected some strawberry on the nose so it may be more accurately described as a combination of both.  Also noticeable on the nose was a distinct earthy, terroir, barnyard aroma that faded and somehow turned to a guava/fig scent as the wine opened over 30 minutes. As we began to sip and let the wine sit in our mouth I was very impressed with its smoothness. No heat or burn from alcohol. That is something to be said for a young mass-produced wine.  On the palate I detected; the same fruits referenced on the nose with the addition of cherry and black pepper on the finish. The finish was solid but not overly lingering which balanced well with the overall smooth factor and drinkability of this wine.

Grocery store retail price on this wine is about $12.50. Reasonable indeed if it were not on sale. Between manufacturer coupon and grocery in-store sale [in this case Winn-Dixie go figure]  the price was somehow actually reduced to $4.85! As you can imagine the wine was a big hit but just as surprisingly I think the sale scared off some possible buyers because of its low price and the shoppers own perceived price:quality ratio.  Unfortunately the sale price went up to $6.89 the following week but it is still selling well.

At a $12.00 price range, even though it is reasonably priced, I am not sure I would go out of my way to buy this wine. I would think twice or consider other options, even after admitting that I rather enjoyed it. At $4.00-$7.00 the decision is easy; BUY IT! Sure hope that $4.85 offer comes around again. ¡Salud!

From the winemaker’s web-site:

Cabernet Sauvignon is the classic production of Los Vascos, and is the grape that made the estate famous. The vintages all share a mature and fruity quality, fresh aromas, and a supple and fleshy structure. This wine has a sparkling ruby-red colour and a pleasantly fruity nose with aromas of black cherries, raspberries and plums, all with a hint of spice. This is a silky, flavourful wine, with a supple tannin structure. A great classic

Vintage 2010

There was a very dry period during the winter months (463 mm of rain compared to 726 mm the previous year), but carefully planned, controlled irrigation ensured a normal growth cycle. Low temperatures in the spring during flowering resulted in some flower abortion, and thus slightly less generous bunches of grapes. Production was reduced by 15% compared to the annual average (8.5 tons/ha vs. 10 tons/ha) but this resulted in greater concentration and remarkably well-balanced grapes.

Bright ruby red colour. Remarkably expressive, fruity nose: aromas of blueberries, cherries, blackcurrants and raspberries blending perfectly with notes of pink pepper, paprika, curry and saffron. Velvety, full-bodied and seductive in the mouth with mild acidity and gentle tannins giving very pleasant mouthfeel.

Napa Valley – Mount Veeder Winery 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

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Mount Veeder WineryI 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.

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.

http://www.justinwine.com/images/wines_pieChart_large.gif

Cabernet Day August 30th 2012 – Celebrating everything Cabernet

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Cabernet Day August 30th 2012 – Celebrating everything Cabernet….

In preparation for the 3rd Annual Cabernet Day I decided to review all my earlier Whine and Cheers For Wine posts.  Surprisingly many included Cabernet as a topic; Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Blends etc. and include wines from California, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Australia France and more.

In commemoration and celebration of this special day I have decided to repost my reviews via Twitter throughout the day of August 30th referencing #CabernetDay.  Please join me in revisiting these posts and by sharing your own.  I too will be checking posts on Twitter by searching #CabernetDay throughout the day.  I am looking forward to learning more about the varietal and even more so seeing what everyone will be drinking in celebration.

To join the crowds and or register to follow #CabernetDay events; check out; http://cabernet.eventbrite.com/

For those of you not on Twitter or for those of you just looking for some Cabernet information; I have listed below all the references available on  Whine and Cheers for Wine. If you prefer to do the search yourself just type in Cabernet Day in the Search portion of our site. Please visit, share your thoughts and see what other posts get your attention.  ¡SALUD!

1-Stags Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon  https://whineandcheersforwine.com/2012/01/01/ended-2011-with-a-bang-2007-stags-leap-artemis-cabernet-sauvignon/

Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi 2010

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Ad poster for Cycles Gladiator; Lithograph

Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon Lodi 2010

I have wanted to try this wine ever since I began my job as a Wine Steward a few months ago. Yes, the label is attractive but what got my attention was that it is part of the well-regarded Hahn Family Wines collection. Also included in this group are; Acacia, Huntington, Lucienne plus Smith & Hook.

Now I have to admit that I am not a fan of the somewhat historical story on the back label of this bottle of wine. To me it comes across as pure marketing strategy and one that really tells you nothing about the wine. That said, I guess it could appeal to others and I’ll let the readers decide.

Back label;

Cycles Gladiator symbolizes a celebration of the freedom and happiness that pervaded Europe in the late 19th century—an era known as the Belle Epoque. This era marked many notable inventions and improvements to daily life, not the least of which was the modern bicycle or Le Bicycle Velocipede.
Started in Paris in 1891 by Alexandre Darracq (an eccentric, who would later become famous for manufacturing automobiles), Gladiator was one of the dozens of bicycle companies that saturated the market when the cycling craze boomed. The Golden Age of cycling reached its pinnacle in 1895—and that same year printer G. Massias unveiled one of the great Parisian advertising posters. Only four of these original posters exist today.
The famed artwork that once showcased the stylish Cycles Gladiator now graces the bottles of our classic wines from California’s renowned Lodi appellation. The mythological image of the nymph riding her winged bicycle captures the grace and uninhibited beauty of our hillside vineyards.

Luckily I did not hold the flowery story against the wine. It did not disappoint.  From its dark red purple color upon decanting to the aromas of dark fruit, raisin, casis and slight oak on the nose.  It’s earthiness expanded on the palate with low to medium tannins smoothing as the wine opened. This is one easy drinking medium bodied wine that I could see being an easy choice for an everyday wine. It’s smoothness for a Cab was very noticeable and may have something to do with the fact that it is blended with 13% Petite Sirah.  Also, when I noted “raisin” I also wrote down “sugar’d” not proper spelling I realize but as I review my notes I could see where this wine would appeal to those who prefer their wines a tad sweeter than dry. I say tad because this is not a sweet red wine similar to those being marketed now.  I would describe it as a very good red well priced for the masses. And sometimes there is nothing wrong with that 🙂  ¡SALUD!

Pricing; I found quite the range when researching. I paid $9.00 at a grocery store for my bottle but I also saw it as low as $8.00 and as high as $14.99 in other establishments and on the web.  I think I would cap my future investment for this wine at the $10.00 range.

Vineyard information:

Along the Sacramento River Delta sits the rich farmlands of the Lodi appellation and the new home to Cycles Gladiator Winery. A grape-growing region since the 1850’s, Lodi is now home to more than 80,000 acres of premium varietals and more than 50 wineries, and is quickly becoming recognized as one of California’s most exciting wine appellations.
Noted for its classic Mediterranean climate and its deep, fertile sandy loam soils, it is the perfect environment for the production of world class wines. The high daytime temperatures are moderated by cooling Delta breezes which flow through the area in the evenings, creating ideal growing conditions.
This emerging appellation is home to the vineyards that produce many Cycles Gladiator wines including Cabernet, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, and the fruit is sustainably grown under the “Lodi Rules” certification .
The new Cycles Gladiator Winery and Visitor Center is located in one of the oldest continuously operating wineries in Lodi, a nod to the colorful history of both the region and the Cycles Gladiator story.