Tag Archives: Grenache

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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St Patrick’s Day Pairings

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As March 17th 2015 approaches I am excited once again about the pairing challenge for cabbage, corned beef and the usual Saint Patrick’s day fare with wine. As you can see below Cóte du Rhône and Rose’ paired beautifully at our First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting a few years back.  There is something to be said about good note taking because the years since are a blur. What did we drink?

This year, although beer will of course also be served, I already have wine on my mind. I’m also thinking of a dinner twist; serving corned beef stuffed cabbage. Hopefully this will become a reality and not just a pending future idea like my corned beef empanadas. But you never know, if the luck of the Irish be with me and leftovers are plentiful I foresee both in my near future. Ah, I can dream…

Whole Foods Market NMIAWith the main dish checked off my list I can now concentrate on the important stuff, wine! As it slowly comes together my wine list, go figure, will start with cider. I have a delicious French, organic hard apple cider  that I think will be a welcome addition to the mix, specially in Miami’s already 85+ degree weather.  Next up a Rose’ Vihno Verde by Orlana from our Whole Foods Portugal Point of Origin  program running now. This light and fruity wine with notes of strawberries and raspberries will be the perfect transition from the drier cider.  Finally instead of a Grenache driven Cóte du Rhóne I am going to go with a 100% old vine Garnacha from the Calatayud region within Aragón, Spain. Evodia comes to mind. The low tannins yet spicy and fruity mix will add excitement to the celebration.

St. Patrick’s Day meal and drinks are planned.  What’s missing?  I should probably start inviting guests! Part of me wishes it were being held today with all the talk of wonderful foods and beverages. But at least we have something to look forward to. I better get shopping!  ¡SALUD!

Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…./ Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais

Food pairing can always be exciting, traumatizing or best a learning experience. I chalked this one up to an exciting learning experience. Thank the powers that be for the internet and well-informed wine rep’s or salespeople.

My research prior to our recent 2012 St. Patrick’s Day supper led me to three varietals for our corned beef, cabbage and potatoes au gratin casserole: Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais.  Our choices were:

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence, Les Halos de Jupiter (Cambie) Côtes-du-Rhône 2009 [Grenache], Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009 [Beaujolais].

All three wines were easily attained through local retailers and were either a “featured wine” or an “employee recommendation”.  More importantly all  were less than $15.00 each.  Unplanned was the fact that all 3 turned out to be French wines.

Our original plan was to pick one varietal and go with it. But once in the store and intrigued by how each would taste with our main entrée it was decided we would pick one of each and have our very own First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! I’m not sure our recently visited family members in Ireland would approve but they seemed to be pretty understanding when it came to drinking any type of beverage.

Luckily for me and our party of 7 none of the wines was a bust. We had 2 standouts and one probably described as not robust enough to meld with all the different meal flavors involved.  Not being a big  “Rose” fan I was pleasantly surprised to see how well this dry Rose in particular paired with our meal. This easily could have been the winner of the evening with 6 out of 7 of the group favoring it but then came the mostly Grenache blend. This turned out to be the true hit of the night; robust, peppery with very nice fruit aromas on the nose such as strawberry. It was close but the 2009 Les Halos de Jupiter gets our Shamrock Trophy for 2012.

I am looking forward to the next challenge, SALUD!

Wine notes:

LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009;

90 points Wine Spectator: “[$23 list] Sleek but concentrated, with delicious dark cherry confiture, Linzer torte and blackberry notes backed by a graphite- and black tea-filled finish. Sneakily long. Drink now through 2012. 2,000 cases made. (6/15/11)”

88-90 points Robert Parker: “An outrageous wine sourced from Visan, Cairanne and Rasteau is the 2009 Cotes du Rhone. Dominated by Grenache, it comes across like a mini-Chateauneuf du Pape. Its dark ruby/purple color is followed by boisterous kirsch, sandy, loamy soil, tobacco leaf, pepper and spice notes. Generously endowed, round, silky textured and explosively fruity, it is an enormously satisfying wine to drink over the next 3-4 years. (Oct 2010)”.

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence   

Crisp, Berry, Strawberry, Cherry, Light-bodied

France- Lively and fragrant, this beautiful Rose from Provence shows alluring aromas of ripe berries and dark flowers. The flavors of ripe strawberry and wild cherry are presented in a sophisticated manner that preserves the character of the fruit, but in a dry, straightforward style.

Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009   

90 Wine Advocate:

Wine Advocate – Beaujolais, France – “On the nose aromas of strawberry and cherry preserve, Infectiously juicy and bright, it finishes invigoratingly and mouth watering with tart berry and salt, yet an undertone of meatiness also persists that is apt to become more prominent as the wine evolves.”

Bastille Day, French Wine and Whole Foods Market

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Happy Bastille Day!

 

July 14th the annual La Fête Nationale celebration in France or Bastille Day as it is mostly known in English-speaking countries is upon us once again and we have another holiday to drink wine to. To quote myself from Bastille Day 2012:   let’s drink some French wine!

 

Ventoux Soleil des Garrigues

Ventoux Soleil des Garrigues

Today’s choice, the Ventoux Soleil des Garrigues 2012, comes to us via Whole Foods Market Summer Top 10 program.  On-line information from Wiki tells us:

Ventoux AOC (formerly Côtes du Ventoux AOC) is a wine-growing AOC in the southeastern region of the Rhône wine region of France, where the wines are produced in 51 communes of the Vaucluse département along the lower slopes of the Ventoux mountain and at the foot of the Vaucluse Mountains. Archeological discoveries of wine making equipment have dated that wine has been produced in the area at least since around 30 AD.

This Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault  blend is what I would describe and recommend as a perfect Summer red: light bodied and fruity. Also great for fans of Pinot Noirs and even Beaujolais.

Whole Foods describes it as; aromatic with black fruit, spices and sweet cherry. Minerality and sweet anise show in this easy-to-sip Red blend. Soft tannins gently round out the finish.

BASTILLE DAYThis well-balanced blend of fruit, spice and pepper is a great way to not only celebrate Bastille Day and the warm days ahead but dare I say also a match for upcoming turkey holiday meals.

The year is flying by and hopefully the Ventoux Soleil des Garrigues, priced at $9.99 will not be “gobbled” up by November. Sorry I couldn’t resist 🙂

¡SALUD!

 

International Tempranillo Day – Tablao Wine

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2012 Tablao – Red Wine

This Whole Foods Holiday Top 10 wine grabbed my attention this week. Perfectly timed for celebrating International Tempranillo Day which falls on November 14th this year.  

The first fact that caught my eye was the “Denominacion de Origen” of Navarra Spain. A region I quite honestly never heard of before, but quickly learned is located near the France border of northern Spain.

English: Map of Spain with Navarre highlighted...

From the Wines of Navarra web-site:

Navarra is the name of both the autonomous region in northern Spain, and the very specifically limited wine zone of Navarra—today one of Spain’s most exciting quality wine regions.

The Navarra wine region lies between Rioja and the French border to the northeast. The foothills of the Pyrenees descend towards Navarra from the north and the Ebro River runs up from the south into Rioja to the west. Navarra’s capital, Pamplona, lies just north of the wine region. With its special location between Rioja and Bordeaux, it draws expertise and inspiration from both of these regions while retaining its own individual wine style.

English: Navarra Denominacion de Origen label,...

English: Navarra Denominacion de Origen label, as found on the reverse of suitably qualified bottles. Shot with Nikon D70s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adding to the interest factor our in-store wine notes informed me that; Vines grown in the Navarra region of Spain are trained along trellises rather than in bushes, maximizing their exposure to the sun and resulting in grapes of intense flavor. A sight to behold I am sure and one I’d like to see in person someday.

Mature Tempranillo grape cluster with characte...

Produced and bottled by Bodegas Pagos de Araiz this 2012 red wine blend is made up of 81% Tempranillo, 9% Garnacha, 8% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Sauvignon. In my case the luck of the blends has struck again. Deliciously fruity and well-balanced this red fruit forward wine falls into my category of “easy drinker”.  A great every day accompaniment to meals with meats, pasta, pizza, Spanish foods etc.

Tasting and pairing notes;

Juicy with ripe red raspberries. Complex hints of licorice and cherry round out the sublime, lingering finish. pairs well with: Seaside Cheddar, glazed ham, smoked brisket, veggie lasagna, enchiladas.

I was not planning on writing a Tempranillo Day post but the stars must have aligned and fate stepped in to bring this wine to me with such good timing.  And I’ve saved the best for last. The Tablao is presently priced at $7.99. Yes, a perfectly priced every day wine. I am now looking forward to stretching out this International Tempranillo Day through the weekend.  ¡SALUD!

From Wine Enthusiasts “Five Things You Didn’t Know About Tempranillo”:

1. It’s very, very old. Tempranillo is indigenous to Spain and dates back to before the time of Christ. It’s been grown on the Iberian Peninsula since the Phoenicians settled it in 1100 B.C.

2. It’s an early bird. Tempranillo is derived from the word temprano, which in Spanish means “early.” Among red varieties in Spain, it’s considered an early ripener.

3. It has many monikers. Tempranillo goes by more than a dozen different names around the world, depending on where it’s cultivated. It’s called Tinto Fino in Ribera del Duero, Tinta de Toro in Toro, Ull de Llebre in Catalonia, Cencibel in La Mancha and Tinto Roriz in Portugal.

4. It’s cloned. There are about 500 clones of Tempranillo in Spain alone; Tinto Fino and Tinta de Toro are the best-known.

5. It has a white mutant. Although rare, albino Tempranillo does exist in Rioja. It’s an approved wine grape; it yields a citrusy, rather simple wine akin to Viognier in weight, flavor and overall style.

Life Through Rosé Colored Glasses – Vinho Verde Rosé? Rioja Rosé?

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Looking at the world through Rosé colored glasses helped ease the stress of a joint Fathers Day and Birthday dinner party for seven this last Sunday.  The pressure was on.  What to cook was on my mind all week up to the last-minute.

My much appreciated epiphany arrived by way of sampling stations at Whole Foods Market North Miami.  Our cold Sunday supper summer menu was quite the hit. So much so that I really got to enjoy it myself. Even after realizing I had not cooked any of the items myself as I had originally planned.  Their may be something to be said about catering or buying prepared foods for dinner parties 🙂

Our menu started with cheeses from: buffalo milk, a goat blue, goat and cow’s milk combined soft cheese from Vermont Creamery and a Gouda from Holland with cumin seeds. Although all cheeses were a hit the Vermont Creamery Cremont blew everyone away. I recently sampled the Cremont to customers in our Whole Foods Specialty department and we sold out in what felt like minutes!

Our feast continued with: Bison roast beef , key lime and cilantro shrimp, loaded potato salad and a kale salad with almonds, dried apples and cran-raisins. Luckily room was left for dessert. Chocolate layer cake with butter cream strawberry icing. The one item actually cooked in our house. Baked by my better half who has become quite the dessert maker!

Thinking summer and a cold surf and turf supper lead me to rosé wines I had eyed with interest.  A Rosé green wine? Vinho Verde by Casal Garcia and a Rosé Rioja [?] by El Coto. Two varieties of Rosé I had never come across before.

Casal Garcia comes from winemakers Quinta de Aveleda.  A family tradition: making wine since 1671. In my research I found that Portugal has exported its wine since the 14th century and is Europe’s fourth-largest wine-producing region.  A statistic that quite honestly surprised me.

I could swear the screw top popped like a cork as I was opening it! Beautiful intense rose color reminding me of watermelon candy pink on this 85 point Wine Spectator rated wine.  Dry with a rich fruit mid palate. Lingering finish. A very passable summer sipper at a great price of under $10.00 U.S.

3,000 cases made.

Spains Rioja region does not usually cry out ¡Rosé! to me but this could just be ignorance on my part.  Made from equal parts Tempranillo and Garnacha [Grenache] this wine comes to us from the area of Rioja Alavesa and its lime and clay soils. As per the  El Coto winemaker it is made with short cold maceration in contact with the skins to extract the colour, and fermentation. From grapes grown on their 500 hectare vineyard.

I found the Coto Rioja rosé to be herbal,  earthy and spicy on the nose with notes of raspberry and strawberry.  Dry on the nose.
Again a beautiful bright and rich rosé color. Caramelly on the palate making me think if wine spent any time in wood, with also sour tart berries a bit green not in a bad way,  and a lingering finish.  Minerality and fruit enhanced as it opened or warmed in the glass. Price $12.99 at Whole Foods Market.
So there we have it. Both wines were very well received. The Vinho Verde a bit lighter and the Rioja with more body and fruit flavor. Both refreshing and perfectly priced for the summer.  I think both these rosé wines gained fans over our Fathers Day Birthday weekend.  ¡SALUD!

St. Patrick’s Day Wine

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Grenache Rosé wine.

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching I find myself feeling more PINK than GREEN. My manhood intact, sparkling and non-sparkling Rosés are calling to me big time.  March 17th falls this year on a Sunday, and I love my #SundaySupper,  so we have begun to plan our annual get together for friends and family. What could we do to stir things up: Corned Beef Empanadas?

As I review our options I recalled last years post; Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…. and our very First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! A lot of things have changed since then, my new career for one, but interestingly the Rosé wine came close to taking last years 2012 prize.  One year later Pink is on my mind once again…..

Below is last years Corned Beef wine pairing including the winner which won by just one vote.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day &  Sláinte!

Corned Beef wine or better yet what to serve with…./ Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais

Food pairing can always be exciting, traumatizing or best a learning experience. I chalked this one up to an exciting learning experience. Thank the powers that be for the internet and well-informed wine rep’s or salespeople.

My research prior to our recent 2012 St. Patrick’s Day supper led me to three varietals for our corned beef, cabbage and potatoes au gratin casserole: Grenache, Rose, Beaujolais.  Our choices were:

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence, Les Halos de Jupiter (Cambie) Côtes-du-Rhône 2009 [Grenache], Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009 [Beaujolais].

All three wines were easily attained locally, either as a “featured wine” or an “employee recommendation”.  More importantly all  were less than $15.00 each.  Unplanned was the fact that all 3 turned out to be French wines.

Our original plan was to pick one varietal and go with it. But once in the store and intrigued by how each would taste with our main entrée it was decided we would pick one of each and have our very own First Annual St. Patrick’s Day wine tasting! I’m not sure our recently visited family members in Ireland would approve but they seemed to be pretty understanding when it came to drinking any type of beverage.

Luckily for me and our party of 7 none of the wines was a bust. We had 2 standouts and one probably described as not robust enough to meld with all the different meal flavors involved.  Not being a big  “Rose” fan I was pleasantly surprised to see how well this dry Rose in particular paired with our meal. This easily could have been the winner of the evening with 6 out of 7 of the group favoring it but then came the mostly Grenache blend. This turned out to be the true hit of the night; robust, peppery with very nice fruit aromas on the nose such as strawberry. It was close but the 2009 Les Halos de Jupiter gets our Shamrock Trophy for 2012.

I am looking forward to the next challenge, SALUD!

Wine notes:

LES HALOS DE JUPITER 2009;

90 points Wine Spectator: “[$23 list] Sleek but concentrated, with delicious dark cherry confiture, Linzer torte and blackberry notes backed by a graphite- and black tea-filled finish. Sneakily long. Drink now through 2012. 2,000 cases made. (6/15/11)”

88-90 points Robert Parker: “An outrageous wine sourced from Visan, Cairanne and Rasteau is the 2009 Cotes du Rhone. Dominated by Grenache, it comes across like a mini-Chateauneuf du Pape. Its dark ruby/purple color is followed by boisterous kirsch, sandy, loamy soil, tobacco leaf, pepper and spice notes. Generously endowed, round, silky textured and explosively fruity, it is an enormously satisfying wine to drink over the next 3-4 years. (Oct 2010)”.

Domaine Fontanyl Rose de Provence   

Crisp, Berry, Strawberry, Cherry, Light-bodied

France- Lively and fragrant, this beautiful Rose from Provence shows alluring aromas of ripe berries and dark flowers. The flavors of ripe strawberry and wild cherry are presented in a sophisticated manner that preserves the character of the fruit, but in a dry, straightforward style.

Debeaune Morgon Belles Grives, 2009   

90 Wine Advocate:

Wine Advocate – Beaujolais, France – “On the nose aromas of strawberry and cherry preserve, Infectiously juicy and bright, it finishes invigoratingly and mouth watering with tart berry and salt, yet an undertone of meatiness also persists that is apt to become more prominent as the wine evolves.”

Domaine Chante Cigale: 2004 Chateauneuf-Du-Pape

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labelAlfio Moriconi Selection Domaine Chante Cigale:  2004 Chateauneuf-Du-Pape

Following through on one of my two official new year resolutions for 2013, I am doing my best not to hoard good wines for future imbibing but enjoying them in the present.

After enjoying and writing about California’s Chappallet Cabernet Sauvignon in my last post we cross the ocean to France and their Chateauneuf-Du-Pape appellation.  I must admit that this wine has probably been sitting in our cellar for over a year and although aging befits this type of wine it most definitely falls into my STOP HOARDING category. A lovely gift from dear wine loving friends and neighbors, it was an easy decision when considering my ENJOY NOW choices.

Interesting notes about this wine that I discovered:

-The Domaine Chante Cigale has been in family ownership since the 19th century.

-“Chante” means singing, and “cigale” is cicada.

-The domaine owns 40 hectares of planting area for red grapes and  5 hectares for green [or white] grapes.

-Chateauneuf-Du-Pape means New Castle of the Pope, dating back to the 14th century and referring to Pope Clement V.

-This appellation allows an unusual long list of grape varietals, thirteen with as many as 18 listed in the AOC documentation.

-Up until the 1920’s wines from Chateauneuf-Du-Pape were blended with others from the general area of Avignon.  Between 1929 and 1936 Chateauneuf-Du-Pape became one of France’s first official appellations for wine.

An Alfio Moriconi Selection?

Some of you may have noted this designation on the label and or description. At first I couldn’t find much information or reference to Mr. Moriconi at Chante Cigale but as it turns out Alfio Moriconi  is the Vice President of European Wine Sales & Imports at Total Wine.  His selections are at times noted on the label itself not only because of the large quantities of wine they buy from producers but also to  draw attention to the implied quality of his choices.  To some degree I see it as a way of private labeling their products and making them available as such only through Total Wine. Pretty good marketing idea when you have that kind of buying power if you ask me.

My notes:

This blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, 10% Mourvedre, 10% Cinsault was a rich dark burgundy color with some brown when decanted.  I was concerned at first because the upper part of the cork practically crumbled at opening due to its dryness, but luckily the lower half stayed together and was a beautiful moist sight to see as it was pulled from the bottle.  On the nose I noted this Chateauneuf-Du-Pape was; delicate dark fruit forward and listed examples of fig and guava which may have to do with my tropical background. Spicy and fruity combined. On the palate I detected a tawny dark fruit taste, a bold wine with leather, pepper and herbs coming through and little wood.

At 40 minutes I noted this wine had become much smoother with fruit becoming somewhat more delicate and distinguishable. At the 60 minute mark the fruit had come forward even more so with spiciness appreciated on the lingering finish.  My last observation on this wine came at the 90 minute mark when I noted: OPEN! And yes in capitals with an exclamation mark 🙂  I can see this medium bodied wine easily being decanted for an hour before being served to better appreciate its various flavors and smooth tannins.

We thoroughly enjoyed this wine and now I find myself thinking of a reason to invite our neighbors over again. Not that we need one really since we love sharing new wine discoveries every chance we get. CHEERS to wine loving friends everywhere and ¡SALUD!

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