Chardonnay From New York!

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from Macari Vineyards.

It’s not terribly often I get a chance to taste wines from New York.  Though I frequently read about them over at Lenn’s place.  So when the Macari family contacted me to see if I would like to sample one of their wines, I jumped at the opportunity.  Shortly thereafter, the 2007 Macari Reserve Barrel Fermented Chardonnay arrived on my doorstep.  The wine hails from the North Fork of Long Island, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and retails for $22.99.

On the nose I found pear, apple, honeyed apriot, butterscotch, cream, peach, and tropical notes.  I really enjoyed the nose on the wine.  In the mouth I got flavors of apple, pear, white peach, lemon, and some spice.  I thought the wine had just the right amount of crispness and acidity and I found the oak influence added nice structure.

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WBW #55: North vs. South

*Disclaimer: I received the wine from Chile from the PR folks for Wines of Chile.

That’s right folks, it’s time again for the monthly wine blog world phenomenon Wine Blogging Wednesday.  This month, our host is Remy of Wine Case and he tasked us with a battle of the ages: North vs. South.  Remy left us to our own devices in interpreting what this meant….would it be a wine from NY vs. a wine from Va or a wine from Canada vs.  a wine from CA?  Who knows, anything goes!

The folks from Wines of Chile recently sent me some white wines from Chile.  I’d been hearing great things of the Viogniers coming out of Chile, so I thought I’d use one of those in my epic battle.  We all know I love Viognier, so I always have some kicking around my basement, so this WBW proved an easy task for me.  In the end, I decided to pit the 2008 Viu Manent Secreto Viognier vs. the 2007 Twisted Oak Viognier.  I’m going to tell you about each wine and then try to outline how they differed.

2008 Viu Manent Secreto Viognier

This wine hails from the Colchagua Valley, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, had a screw cap closure, and appears to retail for somewhere around $10.  On the nose I found peach, honey, spice, apricot, biscuits, and something oddly toasty.  In the mouth I got flavors of peach, pineapple, and tropical notes.  I found the wine to be crisp and light with nice acidity.

2007 Twisted Oak Viognier

The Twisted Oak comes to us from Calaveras County, CA, clocks in at 14.2%, has a real cork closure, and cost me $17.60 in a club shipment.  On the nose I found butterscotch, candied apricots, peach, caramel, yellow apple, and flowers.  The nose struck me as very perfumey, like walking in a flower garden.  In the mouth I got flavors of spice, apricot, peach, and orange notes.  I found the finish to be incredibly long and the wine showed as viscous in the mouth.

So the outcome? Two votes for the Twisted Oak in the battle of North vs. South.  The Twisted Oak showed as fulled bodied and viscous versus the Secreto which seemed lean and crisp.  I found the Secreto to display more tropical aromas and flavors while the Twisted Oak showed stone fruits and apricot, plus the lovely floral aromas.  I know the Twisted Oak saw time in oak, but I’m not sure about the Secreto, though it had some toast notes on the nose.  So perhaps it saw some neutral oak?  The styles of the two wines couldn’t have differed more with the Twisted Oak being creamy and mouth filling while the Secreto came through as acidic and crisp.

I would drink either of these wines again, but the more complex Twisted Oak Viognier interested me more and we drank through that bottle completely first as we both kept going back for more.  An interesting experiment. I wish I had a Virginia Viognier in my basement that I could have thrown into the mix.  I do look forward to trying the rest of the Chilean Viognier I have around, as I did really enjoy the Secreto as well!

Many thanks to Remy for the interesting topic! I look forward to reading everyone’s interpretations of the theme.  As always, a virtual tip of the hat to our founder Lenn.

WBW #54-Wines of Piedmont

WBW crept up on me again this month. It has a nasty of doing that these days…especially in short months like February.  Our host this month is David of McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail.  David set us to what seemed like an easy task at the time, drinking any wine, white, red, or otherwise from Piedmont.  However, after checking out my local wine shop and finding only a $50+ bottle of Barolo, I had to make a rush order from Jill at Domaine547, who again humored my refusal to use her website and quickly helped me choose a half case of wine (the most economical way to ship to me that I’ve found…plus, I can always use another half case of wine…right?  RIGHT?).

I always like the opportunity to taste reds from Italy as I tend to find them to be great values, so I’m happy that Domaine547 had a red from Piedmont to offer me!  I chose the 2006 Luciano Sandrone Dolcetto D’Alba.  It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and cost me $22.99 from Domaine547.

On the nose I found chocolate covered cherries, currants, berries, anise, spice, white pepper, cherry, and plums.  The nose kept evolving as the wine aired, it definitely needed some time to open up.  In the mouth I got juicy cherries, earth, some bitter notes, raspberry, cedar, dark fruit, and chocolate.  Overall, I found the wine to be incredibly juicy.  The fruit showed as fresh and bright.  The wine had nice tannic structure and acidity.  We ate this with roast beef and it stood up well to the meat, but I also really enjoyed sipping it after dinner.  The wine is young and would definitely benefit from some vigorous decanting or some more time in the bottle.

Many thanks to David for hosting and for pointing me to Italy once again.  I really should drink more Italian wines!  And as always, a tip of the virtual hat to Lenn, the founder of WBW.  See you next month!

WBW #52: Value Chilean Reds

wbw-newThat’s right folks, it’s that time of the month again, Wine Blogging Wednesday!  This month, our host is Tim of Cheap Wine Ratings.  Very clearly, he would be choosing a theme near and dear to the purpose of his blog, to find good wines at value prices.  He set us to the task of finding a value red from Chile.  Now, I don’t think I’ve ever had a red wine from Chile before.  I’ve had plenty of whites, and actually, one of my favorite value Sauvignon Blancs is from Chile, the Veramonte.  But, reds, no.  So I didn’t even know what to look for.  Luckily, a fellow wino shot me an email and said I should keep my eye out for a Carmenére, as it’s a classic Chilean red grape.

And so I did.  And well, it turned out my store only had Carménere, so I didn’t have much of a choice anyway! I picked a bottle of the Casa Silva 2006 Reserva Carmenére from the Colchagua Valley in Chile.  Tim asked us to pick a wine for $20 or less, even better if we could find one closer to $10.  You can read all the details here.  Well, being the sometimes frugal person that I can be, I headed over to Total Wine with a coupon, and while the wine I chose retails for $13.99, I got it for $11.99.  Such a deal 😉  The wine had a real cork closure and clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I found chocolate. It actually took me a while to find anything else but chocolate on the nose…which is fine by me, I love chocolate!  I also found pepper, spice, blackberry, boysenberry, plums, cranberry, orange rind, and white pepper.  There’s also something sweet on the nose, almost a candy of sorts, but I can’t place it…reminds me a bit of the smell of funnel cake.  In the mouth I got flavors of white pepper, cranberry, orange juice, blackberry, tea, and plums.  The wine is definitely tongue-drying…lots of tannins. What intrigued me most was the orange citrus running through the wine.

I must admit, I don’t know much of anything about Carmenére.  Of course, I’m happy to check off another grape on my way to the Wine Century Club…this makes number 78 by the way!  But curiosity killed this cat, so off I went in search of info about Carmenére.  I went to trusty Able Grape, an excellent seach engine that returns only info relevant to wine, and returned a plethora of websites.  I headed off to the Wine Pros to discover what they knew about the grape.  Turns out, Carmenére was mistaken in Chile for Merlot for quite some time.  People seem to think it may be a clone fo Cabernet Sauvignon though.  Most Carmenére is planted in Chile, though it appears that some can be found in California and France as well.

Many thanks to Tim for hosting this month. At $11.99 I definitely got a value red from Chile, and found a wine that would be cheap and cheerful for everyday drinking.  As always, a proverbial tip of the hat to Lenn, WBW’s founder.

Wine with a Cause III & Twitter Taste Live

I’ve been meaning to tell you about this operation for a couple of months now, but wanted to wait until I had the chance to taste the wines first. My friend Judd of Michel Schlumberger has started his own label, called Humanitas, with the mission “Drink Charitably!”  I happened to be attending a tasting at the Wine Blogger Conference where Judd covertly let us taste a few of his current wines.  He should thank me for not posting the picture I took of him sporting a “nose ring” here and am instead posting the only other picture I can find of him at the moment!

Judd shows Brittany the grapes.

Judd shows Brittany the grapes.

Judd started Humanitas in 2002, and all the profits from the wine go to support local iniatives (though all around the world) dealing with hunger, affordable housing, and illiteracy. You can even choose to have the profits from your purchase to go any of a long list of specialized initiatives.

Humanitas is also participating in an upcoming Twitter Taste Live event on Nov. 21! For all you West Coast Folks, the time has moved up to 8 pm EST, so you should be able to participate too!  This go-around our hosts are Lenn of Lenndevours and Bin Ends Wine. We will be tasting through 3 of Humanitas’ current offerings, the 2006 Sauvignon Blanc-Monterey, the 2007 Chardonnay “Oak Free”-Monterey, and the 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon-Paso Robles. The wines are available as a set for just $45 here. We will also be tasting the 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, available here. So pick up your wine and join us live on Twitter at 8 pm EST.  Make sure to follow me on Twitter!  More event details available here.

2006 Humanitas Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir: Cherries, spice, vanilla, leather, bright red fruit, coke, raspberries. Tannic, great acidity and structure.

2005 Humanitas Napa Cabernet Sauvignon: Dark fruit, bramble, earthy, spice, licorice, big Cabernet flavors and aromas. Huge structure and lots of tannins.

2006 Humanitas Signum Meritage: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon/40% Merlot. 165 cases, not yet released. OMG, I’m in love with a wine! Peppers, dark plums, blackberries, spicy, backing spice, really nice fruit, smooth, gorgeous. Judd had leftovers the next day and it was tasting marvelously (I should know, I snagged the rest of the bottle from the table of leftovers after the anti-conference by the pool!).

So over the last few days, I’ve presented quite an array of wines and causes to you. I hope you’ll consider supporting one or more as you do your holiday wine shopping.  As Judd would say, Drink Charitably!

WBW #51 Baked Goods

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

Our host for this month’s edition of WBW is Joe of 1WineDude. He’s set us to the task of picking out a baked wine to drink and report on today. By baked wine, he meant a wine that was purposefully oxidized, like a Maidera or a Tokay. Lucky for me, he expanded his definition and allowed us to pick any fortified wine as well.  Meaning, I had an excuse to use one of the Ports that has been collecting dust in my basement!  You can read all the details of this 51st edition of WBW here.

Wbw 51 1

I drank this with Loweeel on election night, and by that point in the evening, definitely did not remember to whip out the camera, so all I have for you are pictures of the bottle.  I chose the 2002 St. Barthélemy Cellars Petite Sirah Port from Clarksburg. I received this wine as a sample from Bottlenotes about a year ago, it came in a 375mL size bottle, had a real cork closure, clocked in at 18.5% alcohol by volume, and can be purchased from Bottlenotes for $20. St. Barthélemy Cellars is a small family operated winery in Napa, and from what I can gather, they only appear to produce small lot Port-style wines, each from a single grape variety. The Petite Sirah Port was a batch of 250 cases.

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On the nose of the Port, I found burnt blueberries.  I do not mean this in a bad way at all, but it smelled quite a bit like a blueberry pie that you left in the oven for just a few too many minutes. Other aromas came through as chocolate, wild berries, brown sugar, caramel, toast, and vanilla. Trust me, the wine smelled fabulous….like many of my favorite desserts all wrapped into one.  In the mouth I found flavors of blueberry, raspberry, dark black fruit, spice, mocha, vanilla, caramelized pie topping, baking spice, and blackberries.
Overall, I would love to pour this Port over a bowl of homemade french vanilla ice cream. And actually, in and of itself, you wouldn’t need much more for dessert than a glass of this, as it was a dessert all by itself….it even tasted and smelled like lots of good desserts rolled into one thick, yummy drink.

Many thanks to Joe for hosting this month’s edition of WBW.  And thanks for finally kicking me hard enough to actually open up one of the Ports that’s hanging around in my basement….though maybe that’s another WBW right there…Any Port in the Storm!  As always, kudos to Lenn of Lenndevours, our founding father!

WBW #50 Which Wine Which Wilderness


That’s right folks, WBW crept up on us again this month. Our host for this golden birthday of WBW is a man who recently celebrated his own golden birthday, Russ, the Winehiker! In keeping with his interests and passions, Russ has set the theme for this WBW at Which wine, which wilderness? By this he meant he would like us to choose a wine we would like to drink after hiking a trail. He wants us to name the wine and the trail, and you get bonus points for choosing a local wine to the trail you select. You can get all the details here.

So here’s the thing. On the scale of athletic to unathletic, I fall squarely in the “unathletic” camp. I force myself to exercise because it’s good for me and with the amount of wine I consume I’d probably be the size of adult elephant in no time flat if I didn’t. Sure, I’ve been on hikes. I hiked halfway up Mt. Moosilauke in NH before the altitude made it too hard for me to breathe and I got an asthma attack….but in reality I’m more of a “wine stroller” than a hiker.

Another notch against me is that within the Metro DC area, trails are simply not abundant. You’d have to drive a bit to get to anything remotely strenuous.

After considerable thought, I’ve decided that my trail is the Mt. Vernon Trail. We walk this one quite frequently as it’s beautiful and very close to our house. The Mt. Vernon Trail goes all the way from Mt. Vernon to Roosevelt Island, all along the banks of the Potomac River. It’s about 18 miles long, fully paved, and is open to both walkers/runners and bicycles. Matt and I like to walk back and forth along about a 4 mile stretch of this trail, through a pretty marsh land and up into Old Town Alexandria.

If I were to have a glass of wine at the end of this, I’d stop along the way at one of the many picnic spots along the scenic Potomac (you can see lots of the monuments from the trail) and pop the cork on a bottle of the 2006 Thomas Fogarty Gewurztraminer in honor of Russ himself and the wine hike he took me on a few weeks ago that ended with a tasting at Thomas Fogarty in the Santa Cruz Mountains!

The above picture is a Banana Slug I took a picture of while hiking with Russ. These creatures fascinated me and I’m sure it annoyed Russ to no end that I kept stopping to examine them and take loads of photos!

The Thomas Fogarty 2006 Gewurztraminer hails from Monterey County. It cost me $17 at the winery, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, and had a real cork closure. On the nose I found orange blossom, honey, ginger, lime, spice, tropical fruit, lychee, flowers, and something almost nutty. The nose on this wine kept going and going, so aromatic. You could smell your glass across the room. In the mouth I got flavors of citrus, oranges, tropical fruit, spice, and ginger.

Overall, the wine seemed light and sprightly. It had a great mineral quality, and the acidity really made it a refreshing wine. I would drink this at the end of a long hike/walk on the Mt. Vernon Trail because it it would be the perfect pick me up and would be a wonderful wine to drink while surrounded by great views of Washington, DC.

Many thanks to Russ for hosting us in this edition of WBW and as always, a tip of the hat to Lenn of Lenndevours, our founder who has kept WBW going for 50 iterations.