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.


Back East

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

We’re heading towards the end of chilly weather and I’m in that in between stage of hankering for reds and yearning for light summer whites. However, I’m still sticking with the reds for the time-being.  Tonight we headed to New York via the wine, grabbing the 2005 Macari Estate Merlot from the basement. The wine has a real cork closure, clocks in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and the current vintage retails for $21.

Four takeaways from this wine:

1.) I’ve really enjoyed the last several wines I’ve had from New York State.

2.) I think the Wine Blogger Conference should consider Long Island as a future conference site.

3.) This wine had one of those noses where I just kept my nose buried in my glass.

4.) Macari has consistently impressed me since I first tasted their wines.

On the nose I got pepper, strawberry, black plum, earth, eucalyptus, forest floor, herbs, cherry, and Christmas tree. In the mouth I found raspberry, black fruit, pepper, and spice. Good tannins and juicy fruit, combined with a fabulous nose made for an all around lovely wine.

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.


Merlot Rocks

Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from L’Ecole.

In preparation for the Wine Blogger Conference 2010 being held in Walla Walla, WA (which I will not be attending this year, sob!) several Washington State wineries sent out samples to bloggers for a “tour of Washington wine.” I hadn’t previously had much wine from WA, so I jumped at the chance to try some more examples. The first winery to ship samples was L’Ecole and I’ve written about a few of their wines already. Tonight we chose the 2007 L’Ecole No. 41 Estate Merlot. The Estate Merlot hails from the Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla, clocked in at 14.5% alcohol by volume, had a real cork closure, and retails for about $37.

Anyone who is still wallowing in the “Merlot is insipid” phase need only give the L’Ecole a chance. On the nose i got pepper, spice, bright black berry, black plums, earth, and cinnamon. In the mouth blackberry, plum, spice, earth, and cinnamon…just like the nose. I found it to be juicy with nice acidity and really well done overall. My notes say: this isn’t your gramma’s Merlot unless you have a really cool gramma.

Man in the Moon

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

As much as I keep willing it to be spring (and my daffodils, irises, and lilies think it’s spring as they started popping up a few weeks ago only to be covered by 3+ feet of snow), I need to face facts. That damn groundhog was more than right this year and winter has settled in to wreak havoc on my plans to wear sandals in March. Though I suppose that saves me money on pedicures. More money for wine! Usually by the time we get back from work in the evenings, it’s so cold in our house that a nice cool white wine would chill me to the bone.  As a result, I’m still digging into the big reds, hoping they’ll warm me up faster than the heating system or fire could. Tonight we picked the 2006 Luna Napa Merlot from the racks. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, and I think it retails for around $27.

On the nose I found chocolate, plum, red berries, spice, earth, clove, cigarette, blackberry, and cocoa.  The clove and cocoa notes kept drawing me back in and made the nose interesting for me. In the mouth blackberries, plums, cherries, chocolate, spice, earth, red fruit notes, a little pepper, and clove stood out. I found the wine to be a bit tannic overall, so I think I’d serve this with a steak or a roast if I were to have it again.

A Tour of the States

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

I drink a lot of California wine. It’s just a simple fact. I really cut my wine teeth on California wine and as such, I tend to drink more of it than anything else.  However, this past week you wouldn’t be able to tell….we had ORegon on Sunday, North Carolina on Monday, and today we have New York. I do love trying wines from lots of different places, so hitting a streak with a variety of wines is always a fun time. Today we tried the NV Macari Sette, a 50/50 blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc from Long Island. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 13.5% alcohol by volume, and retails for $16.99.

On the nose I found strawberries, earth, herbs, plum, spice, leather, raspberry, and just a slightly green characteristic that I actually really love about Cab Francs (it’s a pleasant green thing, I promise!). In the mouth I got red berries, strawberries, plum, earth, dirt, raspberries, cranberries, black cherry, and herbs. The wine had great acidity and at $16.99 seemed to be a great bargain. I also really enjoyed the Macari Rosé I had earlier this year, they seem to be making some wines at a good price point with real character.

My Aunt Really Likes Merlot

And that’s why there’s no such thing as a perfect Thanksgiving wine, nor should there be. My dad and I bought all the wine for Thanksgiving dinner and we bought what people would like.  My Aunt hosted Thanksgiving and she loves Merlot so we had two bottles. The first that we opened that evening was the 2005 Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot. It had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume, and it cost $25 at the Madison Wine Exchange, though I see it online for as low as $19.

On the nose I found the wine to be fruity. I got plums, black cherries, spice, and blackberries. In the mouth I found black cherry, spice, pepper, blackberries, and plums. Overall I thought it seemed fairly light for a Merlot, but it had a nice body, and enough tannin on the finish to hold it together.

Merlot I’ve Missed You

I’ve been focusing on white wines and Rosés this summer and neglecting red wines. Tends to happen to me as the weather creeps up in temperature!  Now, I’m not sure how I should disclose about this wine…it’s not really a sample since it came in the conference bag of a conference I paid to attend…hear that all you naysayers? I PAID money out of my own pocket to attend the Wine Blogger Conference, including flight, hotel room, rental car, and conference fee. Excuse the divergence in topic there. Anyway, in my conference bag was this 375mL bottle of 2005 Pedroncelli Bench Vineyards Merlot.  A full 750mL bottle retails for $14, it had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 14.2% alcohol by volume.

On the nose I got blackberry, black cherry, plum, spice, herbs, and chocolate.  In the mouth, dark fruit dominated with blackberry, black plum, black cherry, anise, pepper, and spices.  Overall, I’d describe this as plush and soft, and easy to drink.

Lots of Artisans

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

Recently, Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines contacted me about sampling some of his wines.  Artisan Family is currently producing 3 labels, Sly Dog Cellars, Seven Artisans, and Red Cote. Jeff and his wife own a small vineyard in Napa and 40 acres in Suisun Valley.  Jeff is a recovering attorney (there seem to be a lot of those in the wine industry…so maybe it will work out for me someday too!) who does the wine-making for the company.  He also maintains a blog that you should check out…it’s interesting to me to a read no punches held look at how he does business.  With that said, I chose to first try the 2006 Seven Artisans Meritage.  The wine had a real cork closure, clocked in at 14.1% alcohol by volume, and retails for $17.99.  The Meritage is a blend of mostly Merlot (technically this could be called a Merlot, it has 89.5% Merlot), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Verdot. The fruit comes from Suisun Valley.

On the nose I found chocolate covered cherries, raisins, black currants, plums, raisinets, vanilla, and a bit of oak.  The chocolate candy definitely jumped out of the glass at me, and the Merlot definitely was the star here.  In the mouth, I found the fruit to be much redder and more tart than I expected based on the nose.  I got red raspberries, Luden’s cherry cough drops (anyone remember those? My mom used to give them to me when I had a sore throat and they tasted just like cherry candy!), cherries, an earthy quality, spice, and a hint of chocolate on the back palate.  I almost thought I got a bit of a meaty note as well.  Overall, this wine is structured with good acidity, and nice tannins.  It’s not a fruity soft in your face Merlot, so if that’s what you’re looking for, look elsewhere.  Pair this with a spiced pork loin in my opinion!

Going, Going, Gone!

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

I imagine this wine will pretty much sell out in the blink of an eye.  As well it should, it’s a fantastic little summer Rosé.  The 2008 Macari Rosé is a blend of 45% Cabernet Franc, 30% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Pinot Noir, and 4% Malbec.  It hails from the North Fork of Long Island where I had no idea Malbec was being grown!  The wine retails for $14.99, had a real cork closure, and clocked in at 12.8% alcohol by volume.  With those stats, and what I enjoyed in this bottle, I’d suggest scooping some up for the hot days ahead!

On the nose I found strawberries, raspberries, spice, white pepper, slight cream, white flowers, and cranberry.  I forgot to mention how I loved the color of this wine in the glass, it poured out as an extremely pale salmon pink color that looked great!  In the mouth I got cranberry, strawberry, raspberry, spice, slight lemon, white pepper, and lime.  Overall, the cranberry really dominated in the mouth, making this a crisp, tart Rosé, with just a hint of a citrus edge that I love in a good Rosé.  Yum!