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…)

 

 

Chill in NZ?

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

Yes, please.  Brancott Estate out of New Zealand is currently running a contest to enter to win a trip for two to New Zealand. Head on over to Facebook to enter for your chance to win.  The contest runs through August 31.  I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand, ever since I did my very first term paper on New Zealand culture in my 7th grade language arts class. Attempting to promote the contest and, of course, the wine, a bottle of the 2012 Brancott Sauvignon Blanc arrived on my porch recently. The wine retails for about $9-$10 depending on your market, sports a screw cap closure, and Mr. Wannabe Wino recycled the bottle before I could record the alcohol content.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) A bottle of the Brancott Sauvignon Blanc usually makes it into my 12 under $12 cases at the Total Wine.

2.) I often serve the Brancott (though not this vintage) at parties and our guests guzzle it.

3.) This particular vintage wasn’t my favorite of the ones I’ve had from Brancott, it had too much green pepper and even jalapeño on the nose.

4.) The pepper followed through to the palate for me and I just couldn’t get past it.

On the nose I found lime, grass, lots of green pepper, melon, tropical notes, and jalapeño. On the palate I got more peppers, lime, lemon, pink grapefruit, and slight tropical notes. While the palate showed tons of citrus, the pepper just threw me for a loop and I couldn’t get into this wine.

 

 

Impressions from the 2013 Wine Blogger Conference

Back from my 5th Wine Blogger Conference, held this year in Pentiction, BC, I find myself again inclined to ruminate on what I learned, saw, drank, ate, etc., while spending 4 days in a new-to-me wine region.  Simply because I am tired of repeating myself, please see, in particular, #s 4, 8, and 10 from last’s year’s retrospective on the conference.  Those items still stand for me as takeaways from this conference. And every other WBC I’ve attended.  Despite some of those complaints (and positives), I will be back to attend the 7th annual WBC in Santa Barbara next July.

1.) I no longer look like my picture. After 6 years, this is the first time not a soul made that comment to me. So either I’ve changed quite a bit (possible since I have brown curly hair now…) and I need to update my photo or I’m simply not as present on social media as I used to be. My best guess is a combination of the two. I vow to be better about both things, updating the photo and being more active on Twitter.

View from Summerhill Winery

2.) We could not have asked for a more picturesque place to hold the conference. The Okanagan Valley is simply stunning. Not to mention, the weather cooperated beautifully and the days were sunny, breezy and delightful. I stayed in two locations while in the area, Kelowna and Pentiction. While I can’t choose a favorite, each had its strengths. I’d highly recommend the Manteo Resort in Kelowna for families. I stayed in  a “villa” on the property (basically a townhouse) that had a full living area, separate full kitchen, laundry facilities, 2.5 baths, and 2 bedrooms. The resort offered water sports, pools, playgrounds, a fantastic restaurant, and proximity to many vineyards. At Penticton Lake Resort, I’d think singles or couples would find it more appealing. While still offering water sports, a pool, and proximity to vineyards, it had multiple restaurants, bars, a club, a casino, and more typical hotel style rooms. Both beautiful properties, I’d happily return to either.

3.) That said, a major bummer of the conference turned out to be the inability to bring wine home and being unable to get the wines in the States. You pretty much have to go to BC to taste and drink BC wines. I took home the legal number of bottles (without having to pay extra duty, that’s 2) so I’m pleased to have two (plus 2 others I paid duty on) of my favorites to taste with Mr. Wannabe Wino, I’m disappointed to not be able to get anything else I tasted.

Bee-keeping at Tantalus Vineyards

4.) If you make it to the area, check out Tantalus Vineyards. Hands down my favorite stop of the trip, both for the food, the wine, and the experience. I have a nifty video of the bee keeping demonstration we were treated to ready to post when I figure out how to do so. Two of the wines I brought home, I purchased at Tantalus, including an interesting sparkling brut riesling.

5.) The smaller nature of this year’s conference truly appealed to me. It reminded me more of the first 2 years of the conference. I had time to talk to people. We had many events together. It was more intimate. I made new friends this year. I fully understand the conference is a business, however, at the end of the day, it needs to remain appealing and useful to those who attend. When attendance is almost double what it was this year, that gets lost.

6.) Wines of Uruguay! Wines of Uruguay! Wines of Uruguay! Get them any way you can. Even if you have to mud wrestle an Uruguayan for them since they drink most of the wine they produce. Especially the Albariño from Bouza. Stunning wine.

7.) The conference was over-scheduled. Again, I understand that this is a money-making venture. I also understand that I am in no way obligated to attend every event. However, having scheduled events running until 11 pm every night is just too much. Some people actually want to go to bed earlier than that and may miss out on something they’d really like to attend simply by virtue of the fact that they don’t want to be exhausted for the next day of the conference. This particularly struck me on Friday, when we went on our excursion and then were bused immediately to an event over an hour from the hotel with no option to return to the hotel without attending, then had to await buses to take us back. I was wet (more on this later), exhausted, and wanted to leave, but didn’t end up being able to get on a bus home until 10:30 and didn’t arrive back to the hotel until almost midnight. The event the next morning started at 7:15. That’s not enough sleep.

8.) Since I’m recommending wines, here’s one from another region that caught my attention: the 2010 Kacaba Reserve Cabernet Franc.  If you ever get to the Niagra wine region, you should most definitely look Kacaba up. Worth it alone for the Cabernet Franc.

Brodo Kitchen’s chef makes us eggs in the park

9.) A small list of places to eat for sure if you make it to either Kelowna or Penticton: Waterfront Wines (holy cow can that man make a gourmet waffle and poach an egg), Smack Dab (the focus on local beers, with at least 15 on tap, totally won me over), Brodo Kitchen (in Penticton, no website, but they had fresh strawberry juice that rocked my socks), The Cupcake Lady Cafe (don’t be fooled by the name, the breakfast crepes were drool-worthy), The White Apron (fresh made ham and cheese croissants, think pain au chocolat but with ham and cheese), and Hooded Merganser (duck breast poutine, need I say more?).

10.) Go visit Craig Camp at Cornerstone Cellars. I know I’ve said it before, but he’s sincerely one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever had the pleasure of associating with, and his wines are damn good.

I spy with my little eye

*Disclaimer: I took this wine home from a luncheon thrown by the PR firm for the winery.

A perfect wine for the summer. I recently attended a lunch for the wine brand Heritance, with owner/creator/winemaker Bernard Portet.  At the end of the lunch a lone unopened bottle of 2011 Heritance Sauvignon Blanc begged for a home so that it wouldn’t have to be checked in baggage on the flight Bernard needed to hop right back to CA. Of course, I obliged and carted it home with me.  The Heritance Sauvignon Blanc retails for $24, has a screw cap closure, and clocks in at 13.5% alcohol by volume.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Bernard Portet might be the most charming man I’ve met in quite some time. I truly enjoyed the experience of lunch with him, and our very small group of 5 total folks.

2.) I am particularly taken with this Sauvignon Blanc. It is blended with 12% Roussanne which lends an interesting heft to the palate while not overpowering the fruit apparent in the Sauvignon Blanc.

3.) At lunch I had the wine paired with a mesclan greens, applewood smoked bacon, poached egg with a citrus vinagrette dressing salad. Amazing salad and a solid pairing with the Sauvignon Blanc. At home, we had it with Quiche Lorraine, which confirmed my initial reaction that it pairs quite well with eggs.

4.) I was jonesing for some grilled scallops while I drank this wine.

On the nose I got lemongrass, citrus, tropical notes, peach, passion fruit and a hint of the acidity to come. In the mouth I found melon, lemon, grass, tropical notes, lemongrass, and grapefruit.  The Roussanne definitely became apparent on the palate and while the wine certainly had nice acidity, the Roussane lent some weight to the wine and gave it some interesting character.

2011 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Bonny Doon Winery.

With the weather finally turning to spring here (perhaps?) my thoughts have turned to white wines and (even more) bubbly. Keeping that in mind when I dove into the cellar for something to drink the other night, I popped up with the 2011 Bonny Doon Le Cigare Blanc. I previously reviewed the 2010 vintage here. The current vintage is a bit more Grenache Blanc heavy, at 62% with the remainder being Roussanne. Last vintage was only 55% Grenache Blanc. The wine has a screw cap closure, clocks in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $28.

Four takeaways from this mine:

1.) While the Roussanne still made its presence known with the mouthfeel and the viscosity, it felt less dominant to me in this vintage.

2.) I imagined myself eating crab with this wine, which we often indulge in during the spring and summer months.

3.) Or simply sipping it on one of those delightful spring nights where it is still cool enough to rock on the front porch.

4.) Overall, I’ve been mightily impressed with the quality of the wine coming out of Bonny Doon.

On the nose I got yellow apple, melon, pear, lemon, orange zest, flowers, mineral notes, and slight honey.  In the mouth I found green apple, lemon, pear, and grapefruit.  The wine had a lovely mouthfeel with a slight viscosity and a long finish.

 

 

What’s better than wine for breakfast?

Cute bit of marketing from Wines of Brasil.

*Disclaimer: Snooth provided transportation and boarding so I could attend this event.

Not much, really. Except perhaps Brazilian wine for breakfast which was a new wine experience for me. Not the wine for breakfast part, the Brazilian part. I suppose I vaguely knew that wine is made in Brazil, similar to how I know wine is made in Kansas, but I’ve never seen any in the market. It appears that Brazil’s largest market is in Russia, with the US coming in 3rd, but a very distant third.  Overall, Merlot is the dominant red grape with about 60% of the red wine produced being Merlot.

I’m always excited to explore a new to me wine region, and Brazil is no exception. The folks from Wines of Brasil brought a wide range of styles for us to try, from sparkling to dessert wine. Following are my notes, exactly as I typed them into my iPad, with only my spelling cleaned up.

The line up.

2010 Cave Geisse Nature sparkling- made in the Champagne Method, bright pear, acid, bread, slight cream, green apple, lots of acid, tart, definitely will wake up your taste buds, which was an excellent start to my day since I didn’t sleep well in the hotel the night before.

NV Casa Valduga 130: peppery, smokey,  yellow apple, Asian pear, seems like a little residual sugar, pear, apple, acidity, tight tart bubbles

2011 Salton Virtude Chardonnay: butter oak, coconut, pear, apple, light on the palate, slight butter, pear, apple.

2012 Lidio Carraro Dadivas Chardonnay: melon, tropical, pear, light, spice, herbs, very light, apple, pear. The winery uses no wood of any kind.

2009 Villagio Grando Chardonnay: herbs, dank, wet, stone, cement, green, earth, cedar, very herbal, pear, not a lot of fruit.

2007 Salton Desejo Merlot: bright red plum, raspberry, spice, herbs, chocolate, earth, dirt, very restrained, good fruit, earth, plum, the fruit is not the star of the flavors/aromas. No one would ever call them jammy.

2009 Pizzato Reserva Merlot: light, very reserved nose, earth, dirt, olives, herbal notes, salt, very earth drive, hardly any fruit.

2009 Miolo Merlot Terroir: more fruit than the previous wine, some raspberry, plum, wood, black cherry, tons of acidity, plum, earth, dirt, salt, dark fruit, more familiar as a Merlot, floral.

2009 Pizzato Fausto Verve: funky, black fruit, dark, plum, cherry blackberry, barnyard, herbs, dark, tannic, needs time.

2006 Lidio Carraro Grande Vindima Quorum: strawberry, floral, spice, herbs, cherry, spice, herbs, anise, woody, tannins, lovely nose,

2009 Perini Quatro: vanilla cream chocolate wood, oak lots of it, green under that, but the oak influence is really predominate, smooth, round, fruity, vanilla, cream, would easily appeal to the general North American palate. New world.

2007 Casa Valduga Villa Lobos: funk, earth, mint, eucalyptus, wood, spice herb, some black fruit, very dark, very tannic, needs age.

2008 Miolo Lote 43: chocolate dust, vanilla cream, lovely and floral, cherries, cream, cherry, raspberry, red fruit on the palate, nice mouthfeel, might be my favorite, really restrained austere fruit, mineral, a saltiness, the pieces are all there.

Pretty color on the Moscato.

NV Aurora Carnaval Moscato Rose: very sweet nose, definitely muscat, honey, sweet melon, overripe peach, less sweet in mouth, slightly frizzante, still a ton of peach of melon, could drink a tiny tiny glass, even though nice acidity. My mom would like this.

The standouts from this tasting for me were the NV Casa Valduga 130, the 2007 Salton Desejo Merlot, and the 2008 Miolo Lote 43. Overall I think the 2009 Perini Quatro would likely be the most successful wine in the typical US market.  I’d be very interested to check out more of the sparkling wines from Brazil as I thought they had quite a bit of potential.

Sometimes Size Matters

When we are talking about wine, that is. Large format bottles are fun to open when you have a big group over for tasting and they impact the way that wine ages in a bottle. I particularly enjoy large format bottles for sparkling wines, though I buy them with all sorts of wine inside. I think I currently have about a dozen Magnum format bottles in the basement, mostly of Petite Sirah (which often has great aging potential) and of sparkling wine. We busted one open when an old friend came to town recently.  After perusing the options, we settled on the 2000 Roederer Estates L’Ermitage Brut.  I purchased this wine directly from the winery a few years ago and it’s been resting alongside its siblings in our basement every since. I think it retails for around $100 for the bottle, but I can’t recall what I paid for it.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) Having a Magnum of sparkling wine makes you feel like you actually got enough glasses as you can never have too much sparkling wine.

2.) I’ve had this wine in a regular sized bottle before. You can read my notes from that and compare here.

3.) Nearly 3 years later and the large format bottle (not sure which or if both of those factors contributed) gave this bottle a heft on the palate that I didn’t find before along with a creaminess.

4.) I need to drink more bubbles.

On the nose I got toast, bread, lemon, pear, and apple. In the mouth I found apple, toast, pear, yeast, and bread. Overall the wine had a heft and creaminess on the palate I really enjoyed, especially on the finish.

 

 

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