Tag Archives: Chilean wine.

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.

A Cuban and a Bottle of Carménère on Prince Edward Island

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A few months ago I was asked by a fellow wine lover and blogger to do a guest post on his web site: The Winegetter. In need of a personal challenge I said YES. Okay, maybe not with the excitement of capital letters, but yes just the same. With my mission now complete, I must admit that I was not only happy with the outcome but also surprised with its reception; the kind words and now having it picked up by the Canadian outlet: Joy For Organizing for their Leisure section. 

Below you will find my original post as it appeared with additional photos that were not included before. As you will see it truly is a beautiful place.¡SALUD! 

Map of Prince Edward Island

Map of Prince Edward Island (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When The Winegetter first approached me with the theme of Somewhere Beyond the Sea I have to admit I was a bit lost at sea.  What on earth could I write about? I have always appreciated wine, but most of my travels abroad were prior to my true love of wine. Ireland; beer and whiskey. England; beer and cider. Hawaii; pineapple sparkling wine but lets not go there. Amsterdam? Let’s really not go there!

English: Nova Scotia Cape Breton Island Cabot ...

English: Nova Scotia Cape Breton Island Cabot Trail 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Which lead me to a trip taken a few years ago as I was careening towards the proverbial fork in the road. Wine was still a hobby at this point in my life. No blog or wine job in sight. These would come later. Perfect timing for a much-needed first time visit to Nova Scotia and Canada’s Prince Edward Island. I realize some may say a sea was not technically crossed but having experienced the Gulf of St. Lawrence and ferry rides across the Northumberland Strait I would beg to differ. At least for this story.
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An adventure with dear friends. Driving and hiking the Cabot Trail of Nova Scotia prior to ferrying over to Prince Edward Island and the incredible accommodations of the Johnson Shore Inn. Owned by friends of ours who many can attest are beyond wonderful hosts.  This bed and breakfast sits on a red rocky cliff overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence who’s coastline kept us in awe for the entirety of our stay.


Wonderful memories come to mind including fabulous home cooked meals, PEI mussels, roasted pig, a visit to a dance hall where yes we danced into the cold night, a fresh steamed [salt water from the beach a few steps away] lobster dinner party for 18 where guests were asked to show off a talent which included poetry, song, and even tap dancing. Not aware of this tradition of entertaining others at dinner my impromptu talent became speaking Spanish. Luckily the other guests were very welcoming and pretended to be in awe of this talent as I babbled on. A few of my new friends had recently been to Cuba [Beyond the Sea!] so this became quite the topic as I was asked about my people, politics and family lineage.  A visit to our hostesses  Prince Edward Distillery to sample their award-winning potato vodka and many a day sitting along the red cliffs pondering, taking in all the natural beauty surrounding this very special place also made for incredible memories.
 
The wine portion of this story came near the end of our trip. After days of being pampered we decided to cook dinner for our hostesses. We spent most of the day researching and shopping for ingredients that included a stop at the state-run liquor store where the cashier had now started to recognize us after more than a few visits.  Not accustomed to such government operated stores I was first taken aback by their small selection of U.S. wines but at the same time impressed by their also small but varied choice of South American wines. Chile and Argentina were very well represented and Chile became my choice for our farewell dinner.
Those who frequent my web-site may know that I enjoy spreading the gospel of this signature Chilean, albeit originally Bordeaux varietal. In fact in reviewing my earlier posts I even referenced the PEI adventure in my: Our Wednesday night choiceSanta Rita Reserva 2008 Carménère review from last year.  And as fate would have it a wonderfully written recent guest post by The Armchair Sommelier:Drinking Carménère With the Devil.
 
Carménère, thought to be extinct for years, was discovered in Chile during the 1990′s inadvertently being grown as Merlot.  This lush somewhat exotic grape has earthy and leather aromas with a sweet dark fruit taste of plum, blackberry, and cherry.  I would describe it as deliciously rustic.
 



On this occasion our last meal turned out to be a delicious Rib-eye Pot Roast laden with fresh spices and root vegetables that cooked slowly for about 5+ hours. In my mind at least, it was to be perfectly paired with my chosen Carménère. If only I could remember which one in particular I painstakingly decided on that day.  But as it turned out I would come to learn years later forgetfulness was to be shared that evening.  As our meal progressed to the main course I poured the Carménère along with a little history of the grape and it was an instant hit. Those in our party of six that I had previously introduced this varietal to were excited to be sharing our secret.  For the newbies it was love at first sip.  As I recall dinner went off without a hitch.  All courses were better than expected and I would to this day forever be trying to match the perfect pot roast recipe from when we were on Prince Edward Island.  Yes, still trying.
 
Fast forward a few years to our Canadian hosts coming south to Florida for the winter. A reunion dinner planned!  My assignment; wine. What better choice but to relive our last supper, so memorable to me, by bringing a bottle of Carménère.  A joyous reunion. As dinner was served, I poured the wine and pointed out the varietal I had chosen.  Yes the same one we had devoured and shared before on our last night on PEI!  To my surprise I was met with blank stares, a lack of recollection and the comment; “Oh, we’ve never had that varietal”.  What?? Could I have possibly made up the entire experience or more likely romanticized the event that defined our last night together?  We laughed as I reminded them of our first time at the last supper and then we just moved on to the dinner at hand and wonderful new conversations. Our soon to be memories being created.
 
I find it interesting that as I bonded with the wine with friends for my memory of the event, others bonded with the dinner with friends or just the quality time of friends together. The one common denominator: friendship. This realization has made me think about how I may attach too much weight to factors that surround us all instead of what truly is important.
 
So yes, I’d like to take this opportunity to admit: My name is Whine and Cheers and I appreciate wine. But, I love  friendships!  

HARK – The Holidays Approacheth!!

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Happy Holidays

With that statement from a friendly customer a few days ago I knew it was here. As it quickly approaches the holiday season is once again sneaking up on us. From dead of summer to Halloween POW! it’s time for; Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Three Kings Day and New Years Eve just to name a few.

Recently I was asked to act as Interim Store Director for our Winn Dixie liquor store; thus begins my first holiday season in retail. Fortunately sales of wine and spirits are through the roof with daily sales increases in the high double and even triple digits compared to last year. Thank you wine buyers!

With the holidays upon us and family parties to help plan and take part in I have given a lot of thought to what wines to bring, gift, recommend and most importantly partake of. Luckily 2012 has exposed me to many good wines,  most of them affordable and easily accessible.  So upon much review I hereby offer what I hope will be a list of good value very drinkable wines that I have discovered throughout the year. Wines  meant to be shared with family and friends.  My official:   2012  Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. For additional information on each just click on the links provided below.

Old Vine Zinfandel– After many tastings this year of this varietal, and I might add not really a stinker in the bunch, I ended up with an almost tie between Project Paso and Four Vines. The winner, FourVines which I have now had about three times in the last month. For the value it cannot be beat. Usually priced in the $12.00 range it can be found on sale now for $7-10.00.

Pinot Noir– Again it came down to two: Chile’s The Show and California’s Concannon. The winner is the Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir. Price range: $8-12.00.

Red Blend I lucked out with blends this year and the two that automatically come to mind would be; Argentina’s Amado Sur [$11-13.00] by Trivento and the Dream Tree Crush by rocker Dave Matthews and Steve Reeder [$15-18.00].  If you are looking for a bolder taste I’d choose the Malbec, Bonarda, Syrah blended Amado Sur. For smooth and light I’d suggest the Dream Tree Crush.

Côtes-du-Rhône-   LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009.  A mostly Grenache Rhone that yes even goes excellently with corned beef. Price range; under $15.00.

White Bordeaux/Sauvignon Blanc- Chateau Montet at $8.99 vs. Chateau Tour de Bonnet Blanc $14.99. Both very good wines and values. That said if I were having a holiday party serving a large group; my “go to” wine would be the Chateau Montet. Everyone will be pleased.

Champagne/Sparkling Wine  One choice automatically jumps to the forefront: Champagne De Magerie A Bouzy Grand Cru [$35-40.00].  At this price, for me at least, it is not an everyday wine but a great special occasion choice.  Domaine Ste. Michelle [$15.00] has been our house sparkler for years but since I am writing about 2012 discoveries Piper Sonoma Sparkling Brut at $12.99 gets my vote.

Riesling- Chateau Ste. Michelle out of Washington State can do no wrong by me with their many worthy wines. Their Riesling and Sweet Harvest Riesling [$10.00] are affordable, dependable good wines. An easy choice. A new discovery for me this year was the Dr Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling. At $11.99 also delicious and dependable.

Merlot Gordon Brothers Family Vineyards from Washington State’s Columbia Valley is my clear winner. Their 2007 vintage was so memorable that 8 months later I am still thinking about it.  Priced in the $18-22.00 range it is worthy of the investment.

Malbec- For me all roads lead to Argentina’s LAMADRID. From their baseline Malbec [$10.00] to the RESERVE [$18.00] to their GRAN RESERVE [$28-35.00], which I recently finally tried after sitting on the bottle for 2 years, all are worthy.  Beautiful wines of which I wholeheartedly approve for vintages; 2008, 2009, 2010.

Chardonnay Over the summer I discovered a delicious Chardonnay; Hess Select from California’s Monterey region [$8-15.00]. More recently we have enjoyed Sonoma County’s Sebastiani [$8-12.00]. Both are rich and very well-balanced. For a non-California style Chardonnay [i.e. little or no wood] I suggest Fat Bastard  [$7-12.00] out of France.  Sourced from all over the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Those accustomed to oaky California Chardonnay’s may think they are drinking a completely different varietal. It is smooth yet  dry.

Cabernet Sauvignon- This category for me turned out to be the most varied in pricing. We lucked out; great Cab’s ranging from $10.00 to over $50.00. In the lower priced range Cycles Gladiator was a great find. One that our store now easily goes through a case a week.  In the mid-$20.00 range Sonoma’s  Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve was a wonderful treat, also one I’d like to revisit.  And at the higher end of the spectrum the delicious and exciting Stag’s Leap Artemis comes to mind; complex, full-bodied and powerful.

Sauternes- To complete our holiday meal or any special occasion I always think of Sauternes,  although you can also enjoy this sweet french wine at the start of your evening as an apéritif.  Our 2012 discovery was the 2008 Chateau Doisy-Védrines. Not inexpensive at $30.00 for a 375ml [half] bottle, but it is always worthy of a special occasion shared with worthy family and friends.

Here we are at the end of our first ever 2012  Whine and Cheers for Wine Holiday List. As 2012 starts to wind down I’d like to take this opportunity to be thankful. Very thankful to all my supporters and followers, some that I have had the honor of communicating with and getting to know throughout the year.  All your visits and comments have meant the world to me. Thanks to all of you,  2012 will always be my year of  Whine and Cheers for Wine! 

Thank you!

Happy Holidays

and  ¡SALUD!

 

Pinot Noir Smackdown September 6 2012 – Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir

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Click for 2011 ResultsYes it’s true! It is time for the 3rd annual Pinot Noir Smackdown. Not only can you follow the days events via social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc. you can share your favorite Pinot Noir and vote for the state or country they come from.  The big winner last year was New Zealand.  2010’s winner was Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

For more information, instructions and rules check out: http://www.winetonite.com/2012/07/30/3rd-annual-pinot-noir-smackdown-september-6-2012/ and to register go to:  http://pinotsmackdown2012.eventbrite.com/ Be sure to tag your entries with #PinotNoirSmackdown.  Per the events organizer;

#PinotSmackdown is an all-day global celebration of the world’s most expressive wine grape combined with a knock-down, drag-out cage fight between YOUR FAVORITE Pinot-producing regions!

Wine lovers have had quite the week with #CabernetDay now being followed by #PinotNoirSmackdown. I usually do not need much of a push to enjoy Pinot Noir.  As I wrote about earlier this year I continue to search for an affordable bold Pinot Noir that grabs my attention the way more expensive ones have in the past.  I am a  fan of BIG Pinot Noir’s from Oregon and the ones I have been drawn too are usually in the $40.00+ range. Examples would be Coehlo’s 2006 and Lachini’s 2007.  Unfortunately nothing I have come across in the $20.00 or below range has come close. But I do enjoy the challenge 🙂

Interestingly enough I have not reviewed my favorite Pinot’s on this site. That will have to change soon since I do still have a bottle of Lachini in the cellar waiting for that special occasion. For those interested in my earlier Pinot Noir reviews check out the links below with both just happening to be from Chile;

Gran Valle de Niebla Reserve: https://whineandcheersforwine.com/2012/04/11/chiles-gran-valle-de-niebla-reserve-pinot-noir-2011/

The Show Pinot Noir: https://whineandcheersforwine.com/2012/03/22/the-show-and-tell-2010-pinot-noir-from-leyda-valley-chile/

Today I am writing about a winemaker that I had never heard of before being employed as a Wine Steward.  As it turns out Concannon has quite the pedigree and interesting history dating back to the late 1800’s.

From their website:

Concannon Vineyard has a proud history of “Firsts.” Always an industry leader, Concannon is the first successful winery to be founded by an Irish immigrant. When James Concannon planted white Bordeaux cuttings in the late 1800s, we became one of the first wineries to make Bordeaux-style wines in California. In 1950, we hired the first professional, female winemaker, Katherine Vajda. In 1961, we introduced America’s First Petite Sirah, sparking a love affair with the variety. Our inaugural vintage was so well-received that we have produced it ever since, and it has become our highly regarded flagship wine. Shortly thereafter, Concannon’s role in the California Cabernet Sauvignon industry became truly historic! From the 1970’s onward, the famous “Concannon Clones 7, 8 & 11” provided the backbone of the huge expansion in Cabernet plantings in California’s premium wine regions as well as in many of Napa’s most prestigious vineyards. California Cabernet, the wine that primarily placed California on the world wine map, was built upon our Concannon Clone vines.

A SILVER MEDAL San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition winner for 2012 the Concannon 2010 Selected Vineyards Pinot Noir is their mid-range tiered wine among others more expensive and Glen Ellen on the lower cost range. Concannon is owned by The Wine Group; the  third-largest wine company by volume behind Constellation Brands and the E&J Gallo Winery.  Their products include among many; Fish Eye, Mogen David, Big House, Flip Flop, Corbett Canyon, Paul Masson, Cupcake Vineyards, Almaden, Inglenook…

Vineyard Notes:

Our Selected Vineyards wines are well-loved varieties from select Central Coast vineyards and represent remarkable value. California’s Central Coast offers unmatched blending diversity from its multitude of microclimates. Cool region grapes contribute distinctive fresh fruit nuances and warm region grapes add depth of flavor and complexity. These highly acclaimed wines take no shortcuts and are easily worth twice their modest price.

Winemaker Notes:

The 2010 Pinot Noir, Selected Vineyards is rich in both color and fragrance.  With aromas of raspberry and ripe strawberry, this medium-bodied wine is very food-friendly. Balanced by warm spice accents of cloves and cinnamon, the bright red fruit flavors finish round and smooth.

My Notes: This being a relatively young wine and usually a light varietal I decided not to aerate as I poured directly into the wine glasses. This was a mistake on my part. The aromas were locked in at first and not flattering to the nose. Surprisingly within 10 minutes this started to change and once I decided to use an attachable aerator on the bottle this became a different wine.  Lesson learned.

Once open I would describe this wine as fruit [red] forward on the nose with raspberry, cherry, and strawberry. An earthiness and spice were also noted but not specifically definable to me beyond that.  I would disagree with the wine maker notes above describing this as a medium body wine; this wine is very light bodied.  Wood on the nose and palate added to the fruity finish [cherry] as it opened beyond 30 minutes. And I must add that this wine had beautiful lingering legs on the wine glasses that we were able to appreciate prior to the wine quickly  disappearing 🙂

In my research I learned that the alcohol content is recorded at 13.5% [+/-] and that 24,000 cases were produced.  I would describe this wine as very drinkable every day wine.  The retail price is listed as $10.00 by the manufacturer, I was able to attain it at a price of $7.99 on sale at Winn-Dixie but have seen it priced as high as $12.99.  I would say that at the $10.00 range this is a very good wine, an easy choice, a perfect example of what I refer to as Grocery Store Wine.

We paired this with roasted garlic chicken and a 4-cheese Merlot risotto I concocted. The pairing was a success and worked incredibly well with the garlic.  Would I buy this wine again? Sure. Would I recommend it to a customer looking for a lite and delicate Pinot Noir in this price range? Yes. Does it compare to Pinot’s in the $40 and higher range? No, but I would not really expect it to.  That search will have to continue for another day but for now I can say we had a lovely weekday meal with a reasonably priced wine that was thoroughly enjoyed and disappeared quickly.  ¡SALUD!

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/

Olympics Opening Ceremony 2012 – Weekend of Wine

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The best things in life are usually unplanned. Having spent my Friday assisting customers with their wine and beer needs for the weekend I felt the urge to do the same. A few e-mails and texts later, it turned out we would be hosting a POP-UP beer, wine, fine cheese and pizza party that same night celebrating the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Spontaneity being the key, a fun time was had by all that partook; imbibing what turned out to be some very nice wines while debriefing each other on the week past and enjoying London’s beautiful Olympic show.

The celebrating did not end on Friday. More get-togethers with great friends continued through Saturday and Sunday all including wine.  While thinking about how lucky we were to all be together, how lucky I am to have friends that enjoy wine as much as I do and realizing we had tried eight different wines in 3 days, I decided to record our imbibing in some form for future reference.  Albeit, reviewing/recording wines experienced in a social setting is not exactly easy.  So, below you will find a somewhat chronological [got fuzzy after a while 🙂 ] drinking diary of our Olympics opening weekend.  Some of the tasting notes are mine and some will be winemaker notes etc.

Fortune was on our side because all were good. We had six red’s, two white’s and I would drink/purchase each of these wines again with no issue. In fact I think I will… ¡SALUD!

Casa Silva Reserva Carmenere 2009

A bold and strong flavored Carmenere. After tasting the Mont Gras [below] I believe this one could use more time in the cellar to mellow. That said, the bottle was emptied quickly by the crowd.

Winemaker’s notes:

Authentic Chilean style. Dark almost purple core with deep sooty red at the fringes. A blend of concentrated blackberry and plum softened by some red fruit character. Distinctive dried herbal and white pepper spice character. A superb balance of full fruit, good acidity, sweet French oak, and full tannins on the long lingering finish. Cutting edge grape coming into its own,  a première producer.

Critical acclaim:

“Purple/black; complex nose of balsamic, herbs, spice box, blueberry; easy-going, no hard edges.”

90 Points The Wine Advocate / Pricing; $12.00-18.00

LaMadrid Reserva Bonarda 2009

I have enjoyed a multitude of different wines from this great winemaker from vintages; 2008,2009, 2010. Never disappointed!

90 points (’10), Wine Advocate:
“nose of underbrush, mineral, plum, mulberry, and violets. Concentrated on the palate with good depth, balance, and length, this flavorful effort deftly combines elegance and power, quite an achievement at this price point.”

Price range; $14.00-$18.00

MontGras Reserva Carmenere 2011

Noted: Surprisingly smoother than the Casa Silva [above] and at a 2011 vintage. I was impressed.

Introduced from France in the 1800s, Carmenère has developed a unique  personality in the “terroir” of Chile, which is today the only  significant source of this uncommon varietal grape. The MontGras vineyards,  in the Colchagua Valley, are in the heart of the Chilean wine country.  The climate is typically Mediterranean, favouring the production of rich  concentrated red wines.

Color: Deep violet red Bouquet: Powerful aromas of spices, wild herbs and  vanilla. Taste:Well-rounded, with subtle fruit flavors and soft tannins  leading to a velvety finish.

Price; $13.00

 Folie à Deux Chardonnay 2010

Noted; a nice golden color. On the nose; yeast/minerality, tropical fruit [pineapple], tree fruit [apple] and melon. Also a slight honey aroma. Its rich flavor supplied nice acidity and a slight buttery taste on the palate with slight oak. As the wine warmed vanilla was also noted.  This is a good chardonnay for those who like some wood and butteriness in their selection.

Composition:100% Chardonnay Oak:Combination of French & American oak barrels (22% new) for five months

Fermented and aged in French oak barrels to preserve the wine’s rich, vibrant fruit character, this quintessential Russian River Chardonnay is a joyful dance of sun, sea and soil. Seductive, complex aromas of honey, green apple, tropical fruits, vanilla and baking bread introduce juicy apple, pineapple and tropical fruit flavors with light butter notes from partial malolactic fermentation and crisp balancing acidity.

Price: $16-18.00

Beringer Chenin Blanc 2010

A tasty treat we served between dinner and dessert. Most expected this to be a sweet wine and were pleasantly surprised that it was somewhat dry instead. I am very impressed with the quality and price point of this wine.

Winemaking Notes Gentle handling and careful attention is given to the Chenin Blanc grapes from the vine to the glass. To retain the delicate varietal flavors, Beringer’s winemakers chill the juices immediately following crush and continue to closely monitor the temperature throughout fermentation.  Just before dryness, they cool the juices even further to halt fermentation and retain a smooth, lush mouthfeel and lingering finish.

Tasting Notes The California Collection Chenin Blanc is a well-balanced wine with aromas and flavors of crisp citrus, melon, and spicy ginger.  It’s meant to be enjoyed with a variety of foods, from Asian and Mexican foods to a casual backyard barbecue with friends.

Price: $5-7.00

Pascual Toso Malbec Mendoza Reserve Barrancas Vineyards 2009

 A well-oaked wine with pencil-shaving aromas yielding to coconut and subtle black fruit notes. The palate is dense, structured and full of cherry, cassis and clove flavors. 

Winemaker notes; This Alta Reserva has a complete harmony of color with a deep, bright red combining with violets hints. Characterized by fruity aromas, blackberry and spices, the mouth has sweet tannins with the presence of spices from oak. All these notes give persistent elegance and complexity to this wine.

Wine Spectator

Quite ripe and flashy, displaying lots of spice, licorice and mocha notes up front, backed by fleshy plum sauce, boysenberry preserve and currant paste notes. Stays nicely layered and focused through the finish. An excellent effort for the vintage. Drink now through 2012. 150 cases imported.

Score: 91. —James Molesworth, December 15, 2010.Price: $18.00

Frei Brothers ReserveFrei Brothers Reserve Dry Creek Merlot 2010

I was glad to see this wine served on a Saturday night dinner outing. We sell it at the store and I have looked forward to trying it. It did not disappoint.  Everything a Merlot should be with the help of a few other varietals to soften the edges [see varietal content below].

The 2010 Dry Creek Valley Merlot captures the rich, ripe flavors of the Dry Creek Valley terroir. Aromas and flavors of red licorice, Satsuma plums, red fruit jam and blackberry meld with hints of toasted oak, milk chocolate and medium-roasted coffee. This medium-bodied wine delivers excellent structure and an elegant finish.

Winemaking Notes

For our 2010 Dry Creek Valley Merlot, we co-crushed the Merlot grapes with Petite Sirah to achieve dark fruit flavors and enhance the overall tannic structure in the wine. The grapes were destemmed, but not crushed, before being cold soaked to extract vivid color and intense flavors. We fermented this wine at warm temperatures, reaching 90°F for a few hours, to create a darker, riper fruit profile. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged on fine lees to soften the mouthfeel. This Merlot was aged for seven months in a combination of French and American oak barrels to impart notes of chocolate and vanilla in the finished wine.

Price: $16.00-$22.00

Technical Notes

Appellation: Dry Creek Valley
Varietal Content: 88% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petite Sirah

Alexander Valley Vineyards 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Description;

Alexander Valley Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon  was one of the first wines we produced in 1975 and three and a half decades  later it is still our flagship wine. From the beginning our Cabernet stood apart  from other California cabs because it was an elegant old world style wine.The climate in the southern end of the valley defines our Estate Cabernet  Sauvignon. Warm days during the growing season allow the grapes to ripen evenly  and develop flavor. The fog rolls in before sunrise each morning, lowering the  temperature; which cools the grapes and maintains the acidity. Our estate  vineyards are home to all five Bordeaux grapes, planted on the terraces, bench  lands and hillsides of our valley where the soil is predominately a gravelly  clay loam. Water from irrigation and precipitation drains away quickly, which  allows the vines to be stressed, leading to smaller grapes and lower yields with  more concentrated flavors. Each lot is picked, crushed and fermented separately  to maximize complexity. We barrel age for 14 months, then blend to create a  complex Cabernet Sauvignon that is enjoyable as soon as you pull the cork.2009: 90 points & Editors Choice Wine Enthusiast Price: $22.00

Appellation Alexander Valley
Grape Varietal 92% Cabernet Sauvignon – 4% Cabernet Franc – 2% Merlot – 1%  Malbec -1% Petit Verdot
Barrel Regimen Aged for 14 months in French and American oak, 25% new
Release Date May 2011

Chile’s Gran Valle de Niebla Reserve Pinot Noir 2011

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This wine from Chile’s Rapel Valley came to us via the Wall Street Journal Wine Club. Pricing on-line through WSJ and other sources averages about $13-14.00 per bottle with discounts for larger quantities. This wine in particular was awarded the bronze at the International Wine and Spirits Competition 2011.

I continue to be a big Chilean wine fan. Bordered by the Andes, the Atacama desert , the Pacific Ocean and the Antarctic; Chile is considered to have great conditions for growing grapes.

Gran Valle’s winemaker is four time Chilean Winemaker of the year; Adolfo Hurtado. An impressive pedigree indeed in addition to his environmentally progressive methods in the vineyard. The wine bottle notes state that “he even uses a flock of geese to help protect vines from pests”!

Upon decanting I noted ripe fruit on the nose with a more specific red fruits as it opened. I also recognized a minerality that made me wonder for the first time what soil the vines were grown in; volcanic, rocky?

About 40 minutes after decanting its light texture gave flavors of plum, cherry and strawberry on the palate along with a hint of earthiness and bitterness.  I believe the slight bitterness may be due to the wines youthfulness; 2011 vintage. A little maturity should balance this out nicely.

Also noted were nice slow-moving legs on the glass and a delicious long finish on this beautifully colored, garnet with a hint of purple/violet Pinot Noir.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens with the second bottle I have in my wine cellar [yes, still the guest room] long down the road when I have a 2nd taste. Well, I say long down the road but that could actually be next week 🙂  I hereby promise to put the second bottle in my SAVE pile in the hopes I will be able to hold out. So far so good with others; I actually do have some bottles I have now been holding for a year. A year seems to be my record though….

Final note: Would I drink this wine again; YES. Would I serve it to friends and guests; YES. Would I buy some more; YES. Would I go out my way to buy this wine……this is where I arrive at the proverbial fork in the road. I would consider it a very good everyday wine should I have it available.  But, there are so many other good to great wines even at this price point, that the adventurer in me would want to keep discovering.  SALUD!

Battle of the Carmenere’s, Don Manuel 2009 vs. Anakena 2010

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Carménère grapes. Cropped from Image:Blue grap...

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Battle of the Carmenere’s, Don Manuel 2009 vs. Anakena 2010

As you may have read in previous blogs, Carmenere was one of my favorite discoveries last year. I have since been spreading the gospel of this signature Chilean, albeit originally Bordeaux, varietal ever since.

Luckily for my friends, okay only the friends that actually listen to the ravings of this wine lover, they have discovered and become enamored by this grape too.

This leads us to last weeks Sunday supper. On the menu was homemade tomato basil soup. Researching what wine to serve I repeatedly came across Merlot as one of the options. This reminded me of the fact that Carmenere, thought to be extinct for years, was discovered in Chile during the 1990’s inadvertently being grown as Merlot. Dilemma solved! If experts thought Chile’s Carmenere was Merlot I sure could exchange them at our wine novice dinner. So the BATTLE OF THE CARMENERE’s came to be. The 2009 Don Manuel was received from the Wall Street Journal Wine Club priced at about $16.00 and the 2010 Anakena was purchased through our local Total Wines & More for only $7.99 after having read two favorable articles from two different sources coincidentally about the same wine.

Winemakers comments:

2010 Anakena: This single vineyard Carmenere is busting with black fruit, black pepper and tobacco. Intense flavours and velvety tannins make this an exceptional wine. Delicious with lamb and white meats, filled pasta and cheeses.

2009 Don Manuel: Few do this juicy red justice like top estate Viña La Rosa, where star Gonzalo Carcamo is chief winemaker. His rich, single-vineyard selection pays tribute to long-time local hero, winery founder Don Manuel. Part civil engineer, part winemaker, Don Manuel helped build roads, bridges and other infrastructure in Chile. He started Viña La Rosa in the early 1800s, and today it’s one of the country’s oldest, greatest estates.

I have to admit that I found having two samples of the same grape varietal side by side to be very educational. It made me realize that in our wine classes we are usually tasting different varietals from the same region and not comparing apples with apples or better said grapes with grapes. It was very interesting to note how similar yet different each one was. They basically both had the same base per se but the delicate features of the wine was different for each.

Don Manuel; strong, deep dark fruit tastes, enjoyably rich with strong tight flavors even after decanting for over an hour. Anakema; was softer and more gentle on the palette. We noted different levels of the following on both: raw peppers, grass, earthy, coffee, medium to soft tannins, and leather.

Both of these wines were a hit. The general consensus developed was that the DON MANUEL was more of a lets sit a spell and sip wine where the ANAKENA would go down smoothly and quickly, what I would call a Guzzler. This distinction between the two may have something to do with the difference in vintages.  All said and done, our verdict since there should be one, is that in today’s economy $7.99 sounds a lot better than $16.00!
¡SALUD!

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