More New Grapes!

*Disclaimer: I received this as a sample from Pasternak Imports.

This wine combines a couple of my favorite things: bubbles and interesting grapes! I’m still on the hunt for more grapes to try in hopes of some day making the Double-Century Club. Which, I should really submit my application since I finished up my Century Club ages ago now…I just never got around to it!  We popped on the Lady of Spain Brut Cava the other night. Why? Because it was a weekday and bubbles make weekdays better! The Lady of Spain clocked in at 12% alcohol by volume, retails for around $12, and had a traditional cork closure.  It’s composed of 45% Macabo, 40% Xarel-lo, and 15% Parellada. The first and last are new grapes for me!

On the nose I got lemon, yeast, wax, apples, and a little toast. The palate on this was almost pure green apples. My notes say “very apply,” (I like to make up words) “green apples,” and “more apples.” I found the wine to be crisp, fresh, and lively, and for $10-$12 for a weekday sipper, it’s sure to spice up your Tuesday night!



Memories of Portugal

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

Last year around this time, I had the fortune of going to Portugal with Enoforum Wines to taste through their portfolio and learn about Portuguese winemaking and culture. I had a wonderful time and gained a great appreciation for all things Portuguese. Especially the wine. We drank a lot of wine. Particularly Vinho Verde. Now, whenever I have a Vinho Verde I think back to the trip and all the wonderful memories I have.  With that in mind I opened the 2009 Grinalda Vinho Verde. It hails (obviously) from Portugal, clocked in at 11.5% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure.

On the nose I got lemon, melon, citrus, pineapple, tropical notes, and flowers. I thought it smelled fresh and lively, the impression I got from Vinho Verdes while in Portugal. In the palate, tropical flavors dominated the profile, with pineapple, green apple, citrus, and lime. I found it to be crisp, sprightly, and zesty. A lovely example of Vinho Verde.


WBW #71 Rhones Not from the Rhone

Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Hahn Family Wines.

Rejoice! Wine Blogging Wednesday is back! I missed it so. Though, admittedly, I totally missed the first reincarnation last month…having average about 4 hours of sleep a night and dealing with a fussy newborn, wine was not much happening! But I’m in for this month’s edition hosted by my friend Tim of Wine Cast. He’s chosen Rhones Not from the Rhone as this month’s theme. I must say, I am very partial to the Rhone varietals. Viognier, Grenache, Mourvedre, ets., are some of my very favorite wines. Oh, and Syrah! Who can forget a good Syrah. And some of the ones I love the most hail from outside the Rhone. A cool climate Syrah from CA is a lovely pleasure!

For this WBW, I chose a wine that represents 3 Rhone grapes. I know Tim asked us to look beyond the normal Grenache and Syrah, but with little spare time, this is my best effort these days.  I think I get a disposition given I have an 11 week old.  My wine is the 2009 Hahn GSM. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre. It’s composed of 60% Grenache, 37% Syrah, and 3% Mourvedre. Yum. It had a Diam closure and clocked in at 14% alcohol by volume. I’m not sure what it retails for as it was a pretty limited release from Hahn Family Wines and I believe it is sold out. You should definitely keep an eye for the next vintage of this from Hahn. They were trying a few different wines this year, including a Grenache Blanc!

On the nose I got strawberry, spice, cedar, baking spices, cinnamon, pepper, cherry, and bacon fat. I could really smell the influence of the Syrah on the nose of the wine, though the Grenache clearly also contributed. I think the Mourvedre showed up more on the palate.  In the mouth I found strawberry, red cherry, spice, blackberry, black cherry, and earth. I found the wine to have nice acidity and structure with good tannins on the finish. Overall the fruit showed as juicy and fresh. I enjoyed this wine very much.
Many thanks to Tim for hosting and I think I got my entry done in time! As always, a tip of the hat to Lenndevours, over at the New York Cork Report, our founding father.

$18 for a Great Chardonnay

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Rodney Strong

Chardonnay can be a wonderful wine.  Sadly, I often find ones that just aren’t to my taste. Thankfully, that is not at all the case with the 2008 Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay, which displays all the fruit that makes a lovely Chardonnay and none of the heavy-handedness with oak that turns me off. I prefer a light touch of oak that lends a bit of roundness to the flavors of the wine and complements, and Rodney Strong really gets that right with this wine. The 2008 Chardonnay clocks in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, has a real cork closure, and can be purchased online for around $18.

On the nose I got pear, pineapple, apple, stone, mineral, and lemon. I found the nose to be very aromatic.  In the mouth I found yellow apple, lemon, pear, lime, and a citrusy finish. You could definitely taste the influence of the oak on the palate, lending structure to the wine, but it complemented the acidity making for a nicely rounded wine with great fruit flavors.

Under $50 Napa Cab

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Cornerstone Cellars

And one that you should really check out. Few and far between (in my humble opinion) do you find a Napa Cab in the under $50 price range that actually display all the hallmarks of a good, solid Cab without the heavy hand of oak.  The 2008 Cornerstone Stone Stepping Stone Cabernet Sauvignon Napa really delivers for the price point. It retails for $35, clocks in at 14.9% alcohol by volume, and has a real cork closure.

On the nose I got ripe blackberry, black cherry, black plum, spice, red berry notes, earth, and floral notes. I enjoyed the nose on this Cab and kept commenting on the fresh ripe fruits it displayed. In the mouth I got similar fruits as I did on the nose, but with more cherry and spice characteristics in addition to some pepper notes. I thought the wine had firm tannins and seemed a bit young, but with lots of potential.

Southern Sparkler

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample.

I’ve previously written about this same wine, during the holiday season of 2009. I enjoyed it then, and am always willing to give it another shot. The Biltmore Estates Blanc de Blancs Brut is a non-vintage wine, though this particular release has a lower alcohol content than the one I tasted previously. As you will see, my notes for this bottle track very closely to the previous bottle I tasted, which is certainly the typical hallmark of a NV wine. The wine had a traditional Champagne closure, clocked in at 12.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $25. Oh yes, the wine hails from North Carolina!

On the nose I got lemon, yeast, wax, citrus, pineapple, and tropical notes. In the mouth I found lemon, pineapple, tropical notes, white peach, and yeast, however, the character of the mouth predominately displayed citrus over other flavors. The wine had great acidity and perfect little bubbles. Again, I’m impressed with this sparkler from the South.

More Party Wine

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Gallo Family Wines

As you might be able to tell, I’m a tad behind on reviewing wines. If you follow the wine blogosphere, you will see that most other wine bloggers reviewed this wine in August or there about.  So I’m tardy to the party, but that’s ok, I’m bringing a wine that will make another great party bottle. Often, I have folks ask me to recommend a “sweet” red wine. Well…ok. Red wine, in general, is not really sweet, unless you’re talking some of those dessert wines with raspberry or chocolate essences infused. Red wine has varying levels of dryness. This wine, the 2008 Apothic Red, is sweet in the sense that it is less dry than other red wines, and would likely be great for the “I don’t like red wine crowd.” Which generally, and with its price, makes is perfect for a party where you have a mix of folks and are going to be serving lots of bottles. The Apothic Red will fit the people looking for a “sweeter” red and there are lots of other options for folks who have a taste for drier reds. The Apothic Red clocked in at 13.1% alcohol by volume, has a MSRP of $14, but is available for around $9, had a real cork closure, and is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, and Merlot.

So here’s where the “sweet” showed up to me right away. On the nose. A snoutful of chocolate syrup, jammy berries, blackberry syrup, blueberry pie, and vanilla. My notes say “really very sweet nose” and “overwhelming chocolate syrup.” Not so much my thing, but like I said, for the “sweet” red wine folks, this is what you are looking for.  In the mouth I got blueberry, blackberry, a chocolate syrup aftertaste, jammy black fruit, and an overall sense of pie.  Basically, if you took slices of blackberry and blueberry pie, blended them together with chocolate syrup, and put it in a glass, this is what the Apothic Red smells and tastes like.