Tag Archives: Wines of Chile

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!

 

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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!

Our Wednesday night choice; Santa Rita Reserva Carménère 2008

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Santa Rita Reserva Carmenere (2006)

Our Wednesday night choice; Santa Rita Reserva Carménère 2008

We discovered Carménère about a year ago in a South American wine class and it has become one of our favorite and go-to wines. The Reserve always being somewhat better than the non.  In fact while in Nova Scotia and Canada [PEI] this last spring this varietal was our saving grace and actually made us look good in the eyes of our gracious hosts who had never imbibed such a delicacy. At this point I should tell you that this grape from Chile usually has a strong and robust taste almost comparable to a Cabernet Sauvignon but slightly mellower. It also mellows and opens nicely when decanted. Just 20 minutes will make a difference.

I refer to this as our Wednesday night choice because of its price point. As priced at about $8-9.00 it is the perfect non-guilty pleasure and can easily impress guests in a pinch. We had ours with spaghetti and garlic bread. I could also see this working well with grilled meats and other hearty dishes.

At opening the nose was of; leather, earth/dirt, sweet dark fruits [blackberry, plum, cherry]. My better half detected aromas of; grass, chocolate and malt. As the wine mellowed I tasted an after taste of almonds.

We had never tried the Santa Rita Reserva Carménère and I was attracted to it because of its price.  Having been impressed we will definitely be coming back to this one and it may even make my 2012 best value wine list.  This will be entry #1 in my 2012 wine diary; not a bad way to start the year. Good wine AND a great value.