Month: August 2019
A 2016 Crocker & Starr Sauvignon Blanc last night. A light and crispy Sauvignon Blanc with citrus, melon, mango and kiwifruit notes. A beautiful stone finish resonated. First, appetizers of Irish cheddar, olives, Kalamata olives, spicy Mozzarella cheese and crackers. Dinner was chicken, potatoes, roasted garden peppers and brussel sprouts. #wine #whitewine #sauvignonblanc #crockerandstarr #crockerandstarrwines https://californiawinesandwineries.com
2015 Nickel & Nickel Stiling Vineyard Chardonnay. On the eye, a light golden straw/hay coloring with medium body. On the nose, floral notes and minerality. On the palate, pear, green apple, citrus and honeydew dance in the mouth. Acidity is managed well with a hint of vanilla and a touch of oak on the finish. This is a refined and perhaps elegant Chardonnay. Stiling Vineyard, located in the Russian River Valley was planted in 1988. The vineyard is famous for the Goldridge sandy loam soils.
From Saralee’s Vineyard in the Russian River, this wine is an equal blend of two mouthwatering grapes- Marsanne and Roussanne. On the eye, the wine is a medium-heavy viscosity and golden straw in color. The wine exudes flora and honeysuckle notes on the nose. In the mouth you get a wonderful mix of the two varietals. With the Roussanne, pear and roasted chestnuts are the predominant flavors. With the Marsanne, it gives depth and rich textures on the palate with a touch of honeydew melon. Additionally Marsanne helps in the viscosity of an almost oily quality with the silkiness of the Marsanne. See a previous article on Jazz Cellars in Murphys, California at: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/06/07/jazz-cellars/ . Paired with Maguro and Sake sashimi, this made an exquisite lunch.
Phillippe Melka does it again in Napa with an eloquent Cabernet Sauvignon at Alejandro Bulgheroni Estate. One of the standouts tasting was his 2014 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark crimson on the eye, aromas of dark cherries, mocha embrace the nose. On the palate, soft sweet pipe tobacco and round tannins dance in your mouth. This wine appeals primarily to collectors and wine aficionados as it goes for $400/bottle or in a 3-pack for $1200. This not your Wednesday night spaghetti wine!
When dinner is art! #nofilter. A wonderful meal at Sushi Haku in Napa this evening. A great recommendation Rudy Zuidema–thanks. Food was so enjoyable, had the Frank Family 2017 Carneros Chardonnay back at the hotel. Maguro, Sake and Hamachi sashimi was delicious. #whitewine #sauvignonblanc #sashimi #sakesashimi #maguro #sashimi https://californiawinesandwineries.com/
Saddleback Cellars, where Nils Venge is the winemaker and owner. Here tasting a 2017 Pinot Blanc and this years harvest on the vine. See previous story on Pinot Blanc at https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2019/06/09/a-tale-of-two-grapes-pinot-blanc-from-france-and-california/ . One of my personal best white wines. #saddlebackcellars #pinotblanc #napavalleywines #whitewine #chardonnayaltermative #winetime🍷
Steven Kent Mirassou as a 6th generation family winemaker had to set new goals. He set as his pinnacle development to produce the best “Bordeaux style” wine California could produce. A lofty and perhaps extreme goal for one man in Livermore Valley. After many years as a successful winemaker at Steven Kent Winery, he decided to make 3 to 5 barrels a year of the absolute premier “Bordeaux style” wine. We just opened his 2008 vintage, which is the second of the Lineage release. This release entailed only five barrels. The blend which changes year to year based on flavor profiles, consisted of Cabernet Sauvignon 81%, Cabernet Franc 9%, Merlot 2%, Petit Verdot 5% and Malbec 3%. While blending is an “artistic” endeavor, Steven also is analytical in his pursuit of the perfect Bordeaux blend.
Here is Steven’s write up on why these varietals and clones were chosen. It is like an artist mixing paint colors for right shading and expression of a painting.
“Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 30: Dark cherry and cassis flavors, fine-grained tannins and acidity. Less opulent but more age worthy than Clone 4.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 191: Cassis, coffee, and mocha flavors, angular, tannic structure and lengthy, persistent finish.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Clone 4: Powerhouse rich, viscous flavors of dark fruit and chocolate with broad tannins.
Cabernet Franc: Not as “big” as CS but with more finesse and an aromatic palate of sandalwood and chocolate. Acidity is the watchword of this variety. Its acid-based red fruit flavors marry well with the darker more tannic Cabernet Sauvignon to enliven and length Lineage’s finish.
Petit Verdot: Contributes tannin, color, and grapey aromas and flavors of violet and black fruit. This variety helps to build density in the mid-palate of the wine.
Malbec: Adds fruit and tannin; quite different from Cabernet in its sauvage mix of dried berry and raspberry fruit notes. It signature aromatic note is obvious when the wine is young. As Lineage ages, the Malbec takes on a dried-fruit edge and nice acidity.
Merlot: Noble variety of Bordeaux’s Right Bank; as counterpoint to CS’s austere structure, Merlot is fleshy and opulent; ripe red/dark cherry flavor, a touch of herbal complexity which adds to Lineage’s rich mid-palate.”
The key take way on blending is that it is extremely selective and requires rigorous decision making of not only varietals, but the correct Clones of the varietals to get the flavor profile. Add another step of both winemaking and personal craftsmanship and abracadabra you have a gorgeous and refined Bordeaux blend called Lineage. I am sure Steven wished it was that simple, but this is the shortened version.
Two of many other detailed undertakings are his hand selection of French oak barrels (Taransaud, Le Grand and Francois Freres) and his constant monitoring of the development of the wine in the barrel. The 2008 Lineage was aged 28 months in barrel and released approximately 36 months after harvest.
The flavor profile and experience of this wine is truly remarkable. First on the eye you see a medium to medium dark red tint and medium viscosity wine. Very different than some of the bold Cabernet Sauvignon’s coming out of Napa Valley. Your first impression is perhaps this may be a “bit wimpy”. But hold on until you get your first whiff which reveals “black fruits, exotic woods and spice aromatics”. On the palate, you get all the above characteristics that Steven purposed in his selection of varietals and clones to produce a crescendo of semi-sweet mocha, dark cherry, dark roasted coffee, sweet tobacco, violets, black fruit, etc. You are a bit mesmerized in trying to dissect each essential trait in this wine drinking experience. But it is a wine to simple enjoy and savor the existential engagement and relationship of such a rare and eloquent treat.
Isn’t that a mouthful? Now California Wines & Wineries about once a month goes “rouge” and writes about a wine outside of California (yes there are some!). Today’s wine is especially interesting but I want to clear up some misconceptions. First Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo and Montepulicano are two entire different wines. Montepulicano d’ Abruzzo is a totally unique and wonderful wine from the Abruzzo region in east-central Italy and not to be confused with the Montepulicano which is mainly Sangiovese grapes from Tuscany. Colline Teramane became a DOCG region (denomianazione di Origine Contraollata Garantita) in 2003. Essential by being a DOCG vs DOC, they must follow strictly guidelines in producing their wine. Only four provinces can produce this wine. The wine must be 90% Montepulicano with only 10% being Sangiovese grapes. This wine is deeply colored inky red/purple with pepper spices notes. Often it is called “rustic”. In general it is “aromatic, tannic and with low acidity”. Key flavors of earthiness, blackberries and prevalent. Often it is also beholds sweeter tannins and is appropriately paired with hot & spicy peppers and pork dishes. Its ability to age in the cellar is up to 20 years and the price point can range from $8 to $200+. A delightful treat which is often overlooked and confused with the lighter Montepulicano from Tuscany. As the winemaker Antonio Lamona states “I want to make wines that are pleasing to the body and the spirit”. For the typical California wine drinker you will pleased if you get a nice bottle of Montepulicano d’ Abruzzo.
This is a wine from their highest quality barrels, comes a handcrafted single barrel wine. This is a limited release of some of their most prized wines. This was from barrel #2 and is bottle #266. This Italian varietal is fruit forward with texture and solid tannins to be a real winner. The grape is a dark skin, it comes out originally soft and with age develops character. Recently discovered to be a relative of the peppery Syrah thru DNA testing. On the eye it is intensely inky dark and almost black looking down into the glass. On the nose & palate, it can be a bit bitter, but paired with a solid piece of beef, it is remarkable. It is complex, spicy and chocolate flavors abound. This is not a stand-alone wine, but one to be consumed with hard cheeses, red meat and cured meat. 97% of the world production comes from Northern Italy from the Trentino-Alto Adige DOC. In California most of the Teroldego comes from Lodi, Sierra Foothills, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbera.
An awesome pairing last night of paella and McKahn Family Cellars Grenache. While McKahn Family Cellars is located in Livermore Valley, they source this fruit from Shenandoah Valley, Amador County. This wine on the eye was semi-translucent, clear and a beautiful hue of purple/red. On the nose, cherry, herbs and spices which intermingled with the paella. On the palate, red fruits abound like raspberry, cherry and strawberry. BTW, McKahn’s 2016 Grenache won Double Gold & 96 points at the 2018 Orange County Wine Competition! Also Grenache is known as a versatile grape for food pairing possessing a slight sweetness. The paella was prepared in a tradition Spanish recipe by our longtime friends, Floyd and Kathilee Garcia. Linguica, shrimp, chicken, rice, garlic, lemon, peas, tomatoes, peppers, olives, etc., and a host of spices. It tasted even better than it looked! Accompanied by fresh fruits, cheeses and pre-dinner appetizers. Thanks again for a special treat.