2011 Reserve Le Cigare Blanc

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the winery.

When I want something interesting and unique to taste from my basement, it’s easy to turn to a wine from Bonny Doon. Randall Graham’s wines are nothing if not unique.  The 2011 Reserve Le Cigare Blanc is no exception. It’s a blend of Grenache Blanc and Roussane, heavier on the Grenache Blanc. The wine has a screw cap, retails for $28, and clocks in at 12.5% alcohol by volume.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Don’t get it too cold or you will mute the nose and palate and miss out on how interesting it is.

2.) I could not get my nose out of my glass when I poured this wine and Matt got to taste more than his fair share.

3.) Even with the Roussanne, which usually adds heft and sometimes a bit of an oily quality to a wine, the Cigare Blanc has surprising acid on the palate.

4.) I suppose you could pair this with something, but really I just enjoyed sipping this as it warmed.
On the nose I got honey, honeysuckle, herbs, and caramel apple. In the mouth I found kiwi, green apple, and pear. The fruit on the palate trended towards being quite tart with lots of acid.

*Disclaimer: I received these wines as sample to participate in a live Twitter tasting.

A few weeks ago, four rieslings from the Finger Lakes arrived so I could do a live tasting. Fun! I’m particularly excited to try more wines from this region since the 2015 Wine Blogger Conference will be held. I’ve signed up for my hotel room and need to get on booking my actual conference attendance! Back to the wines. We’ll start with one of my favorites of the bunch, though frankly, it was quite hard to choose. The 2013 Heron Hill Winery Dry Riesling sported a screw cap and 12% alcohol by volume. (Which is apparently really important to my blog according to a recently released study on wine blogs…)

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) One thing all four wines in this tasting had in common was great acidity.

2.) The wine stood up very well on its own, but would also work really well with food with a bit of spice and heft – I kept imagining chorizo with this.

3.) Our weather was still quite warm in DC in late September at this tasting and I found the wine quite refreshing for the heat.

4.) I’m hoping all the wines at the upcoming wine blogger conference will be as tasty as this one!

On the nose I found orange flowers, honey and green apple. In the mouth I got lime, stones, stone fruit, and peach. Overall the wine had acidity to carry it through and balance out some sweeter fruit flavors.

 

 

 

Dreaming of Seafood

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR firm for the brand.

I ate a lot of seafood this summer. Between Portugal and Maine my late July and early August were all about seafood. So I had seafood on the brain when I plucked the 2012 The Clambake Chardonnay from my sample roulette. Perhaps it was the lobster on the label that drew me to the bottle. I don’t know what it retails for, as I can’t find anywhere to buy it online…but I’m guessing maybe $14 or so?

Four takeaways from this wine:

 

1.) I often tend to reach for a slightly oaky Chardonnay to go with my shellfish and lobstah. This wine showed none of that, but was a great foil for the rich lobster meat and butter.

2.) Since I think it retails at a fairly reasonable price, this would actually be a great clambake wine for a crowd.

3.) Here in the DC area, we actually tend to do crabfests around this time of year and it would work really well for that as well.

4.) Fresh and fruity, this is a fun summer wine.

On the nose I got melon, lime, apple, and lemon. Overall it displayed a bright fruit nose. On the palate I found apple, yellow apple, lemon rind, and tropical notes. The wine had good acidity and bit into butter quite well.

 

 

Spring into Spring

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks associated with Rueda.

Even though our weather has continued to be fairly terrible, I’m pretending it’s spring and being drawn heavily to the white wines. I went digging in the basement and came back out with the 2012 Yllera Verdejo.  I’m a Verdejo fan as an alternate white wine. I generally find it refreshing and tasty. The Yllera retails for around $14 and has a real cork closure. The bottle got recycled before I could write down the alcohol content.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) I was almost expecting this wine to be on the sweeter side based on the nose.

2.) Pass me a glass to enjoy in the sun on the porch please.

3.) I’d serve this with grilled trout.

4.) The Yllera would be an easy summer crowd pleaser at the price point of $14.

On the nose I got lemon grass, tangerine, melon, flowers, and an overall sweet aroma. In the mouth I found oranges, lime, and melon.  The wine was surprisingly tart to me based on the sweet nose. Overall I found it quite citrusy and refreshing.

 

 

 

A Vinho Verde day

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR firm for the Vinho Verde trade group.

I’m feeling fall. However, the weather is not agreeing with me and on an 85 + degree day, I find myself lingering in the white wine sections of my wine racks.  So tonight I plucked a 2011 Aphros Daphne Vinho Verde from the shelves. It has a real cork closure, clocks in at 12% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $24.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) I found this to be pricey.

2.) Maybe I had an off bottle, but I barely got anything on the nose and didn’t find the palate to be expressive either.

3.) The wine had lots of acidity…but that didn’t make up for it being fairly uninteresting.

4.) I usually like Vinho Verde.

On the nose I got slight citrus peel and a hint of something tropical. In the mouth I found a little citrus and some spice. Overall the wine was pretty one dimensional and oddly heavy on the palate. This one was not for me.

 

Part I of a Summer Pair

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample for review.

Many times I head down to my basement and stare at the wines.  Then I reach my hand into a rack and play what I like to call “wine roulette.” Sometimes you wine, sometimes you lose. Tonight, I won the lottery twice with this wine and it’s partner. My winner for the evening is the 2010 Domaine du Tariquet Classic which has a screw cap, clocks in at 11% alcohol by volume, and retails for about $10-$11. The wine is a 70/30 blend of Ugni Blanc and Colombard.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Generally, Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano) and Colombard aren’t the most, shall we say, distinctive wines on their own.

2.) Apparently, if you grow them well and blend them together, you actually get a light, fresh wine with great acidity.

3.) I shared this with our neighbors over some deep friend shrimp and they loved it.

4.) $10 is cheap and cheerful for an easy-drinking summer sipper.

On the nose I got floral notes, lemon, spice, and lime zest. The wine smells fresh and I can almost taste the acid.  In the mouth I found lime, tart apple, lots of citrus, and tropical notes on the finish.  Overall, the wine is bright and crisp with good acidity and paired well with an end of the summer BBQ.

 

 

Rock This Way

Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Cornerstone Winery.

While our weather has turned unseasonably cool in DC for August, I’m still digging white wines. The summer screams white wine and bubbles to me and we’ve been drinking plenty of both lately. I played roulette in the basement and hit upon the 2012 Stepping Stone White Rocks from Cornerstone Cellars to taste.  The wine has a screw cap closure, clocks in at 14.1% alcohol by volume, and retails for $18 a bottle.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Drink with heat. Which we generally have plenty of in the DC area.

2.) I love the Stepping Stone line from Cornerstone for the price points and the experimentation.

3.) My favorite is the Cabernet Franc.

4.) If I weren’t sipping the White Rocks on my front porch, I’d pair it with my cheese course or a light grilled white fish.

2012 Stepping Stone White Rocks from Cornerstone

On the nose I found floral and lime notes, other citrus, wet stones, orange blossoms, and white pepper.  In the mouth I got citrus, lemon, lime, more citrus, and lots of citrus.  Overall I’d call the wine zippy, bright, fruity and fun.  (Somewhere I have misplaced my camera card and the photos of this bottle with it…)

 

 

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