Month: November 2019
Allégorie Wines is a sister winery to Val du Vino in Murphys, California. Here winemaker Jonathon Phillips crafts some small batches of wine with “creative genius”. One of my personal favorites is the Spanish varietal Tempranillo. The name comes from the Spanish word temprano, which means “early” as it ripens earlier than other grapes in Spain. If you have visited any town in Spain, Tempranillo is available ubiquitously as Starbucks coffee shops here in the USA. On the eyes this wine is a brilliant purple color with medium to medium-heavy viscosity. On the nose, it starts out fresh and with black berry fruit. On the palate, you get the earthiness (dust), tobacco and a slight aged leather in the mouth. The finish picks up on the oak and the tannins are held in check with the cherry and slight vanilla. Since this area is on the southern border of the 1849 Gold Rush, it is an appropriate wine to watch the SF 49’ers tonight.
Another “rouge” evening featuring a non-California wine. 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 stricter guidelines in producing their wine. Only four provinces can produce this wine. The wine must be 90% Montepulicano with only 10% being Sangiovese grapes.
Last night it was paired with a twenty-four hour slow simmered spaghetti sauce (recipe from my sister), whole wheat spaghetti, garlic French bread, a vegetable medley of fresh asparagus, mushrooms and purple onion, coupled with a mixed garden salad.
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”. It is aged in oak for twenty four months. 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.
As of today we have 38 wines being poured at the Inaugural Cabernet Franc Wine Competition. The event will be held annually on International Cabernet Franc Day, December 4th.
This first event was limited to California wineries producing Cabernet Franc. Next year it will be open the all 50 states! The following year, it will have an international component added.
Currently we have 16 AVA’s or sub-AVA’s participating in the competition. Since this is a blind competition, I will not mention the wineries by name, but here are the areas represented.
Are you ready for some Cabernet Franc? Check out this article by International Cab Franc Day originator, Lori Budd https://cabfrancday.wordpress.com/2019/11/23/lets-be-franc-this-grape-deserves-r-e-s-p-e-c-t/ . See more information on this event at: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2019/10/09/california-wines-and-wineries-announces-cabernet-franc-wine-competition-on-international-cabernet-franc-day-december-4th/.
2010 Crocker & Starr Cabernet Franc. Pulled after almost 8 years in the cellar. On the eyes a light purple (my photo shows too dark) and medium body. Light floral on the nose, but where this wine is outstanding is in the palate. Dark fruits, plum, spices showing licorice and pepper. A long lasting finish showing exquisite winemaking by Pam Starr. Still fruit forward and typical Cab Franc tannins. See more at https://californiawinesandwineries.com #cabernetfranc #cabfrancday🍷 #cabfranc #cabfrancdayfounders #cabfrancday
A double treat for lunch today, a 2017 Crocker & Starr Sauvignon Blanc and Japanese sushi and spicy tuna roll. First the wine, which is light straw in color, and medium viscosity in the glass. That said the aromas and palate taste is “other worldly” with phenomenal citrus and liveliness to awaken any seafood be it sushi, sashimi, ceviche, cooked fish, etc. The flavors of mellow citrus, melon, mango, kiwi, guava and key lime together present an explosive mouthfeel and a finish that lasts and lasts and lasts for a prolonged and elongated finish.
Paired with both Maguro (tuna) sushi and a spicy Maguro roll with wasabi & ginger for a fabulous lunch.
See previous article on Crocker & Starr for all their wines: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2016/02/01/crocker-starr-2/
This evening was a 2015 Zuidema Grenache (his 2nd release) and it continues to delivery a refreshing and fulfilling experience. You can read more on the background of this project at https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2017/12/13/zuidema-wines-old-world-techniques-in-a-new-napa-vineyard/ . His Clone 515 Grenache from Chateauneuf du Pape heritage continues to produce a delightful wine. Minerality and a rustic flare still persists in the wine, but the 2015 is aromatic with black cherry and as Rudy states “notes of cocoa and fig newton”. Add to this plum and soft tannins it surrounds the spicy edge of this wine. Rudy describes it as “the aromas are made up of white pepper, bright rhubarb, strawberry and blood orange peel. The bright acidity in the mid palate bursts with mixed berries, holiday spice and layers of anise and tarragon”. Even the finish gives a hint of the Old World with it being rustic and not perfectly polished in a positive manner. On the eyes the color being ruby to brick red with a medium body with a distinct brilliant clarity. On the palate cherries and holiday spices with cranberry fruit, having an old oak flavoring, yet showing the minerality of dry farming.
Tonight this was paired with slow cooked chicken and medium/hot salsa with corn and black beans served over cauliflower rice with a side salad. The wine cooled down “the heat” and provided a nice fruit balance to the spicy salsa. A worthy wine for the cellar and thinking it may go very well with a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey.
Gemstone Vineyards has a remarkable pedigree of having only two winemakers. The two are Philippe Melka (originally) and today, Thomas Rivers Brown, two of Napa Valley’s well known and talented “Rockstar Winemakers”. The 2010 Gemstone Vineyards Estate Cabernet Sauvignon was made under the watchful eye of Philippe. On only sixteen acres, Gemstone has produced some amazing wines. For reference, Vivino listed it in the top 3% of wines in the world. Gemstone’s current release goes for $159 and is highly allocated with ratings in the range from 92 to 94 points. This bottle has been in the cellar for 6+ years. On the eyes a deep almost reddish/ black coloring. On the nose cherry and plum. On the palate cocoa, spices and leather. Smooth as silk tannins yet with structure, to make a wonderful long lasting finish.
Paired tonight with a medium rare prime rib, Bok Choy and roasted Brussel Sprouts at The CopperGrille at The Golf Club of Copper Valley. This Gemstone is no diamond in the rough as it is polished and gorgeous.
Sometimes you grab a bottle that is due up in the cellar with little expectation. Tonight this 2014 Black Sheep Cinsaut from Calaveras County blew our socks off! On the eyes a bright crimson hue and medium viscosity. On the nose blackberries and plum dominant. On the palate, raspberries, cranberries, black pepper and spices galore. A long and earthy finish with strong acid. Paired with a crockpot chuck roast tonight this wine enhanced the meat. Black Sheep’s tagline is “Different from the rest…” and I will add differently delicious! #cinsaut #calaveraswines #https://californiawinesandwineries.com
Still the best label on any wine bottle and one of the top ten Cabernet Franc’s coming out of Napa Valley. The label is so simple with no wording but speaks volumes regarding their wine. He a tightrope walker balancing on a rope (hard to see in the picture) with the balancing pole. Here is a definition and use of a balancing pole: “An increased moment of inertia helps withstand external sources of torque, such as sudden gusts of wind. The heavy weights allow the tightrope walker to exert torque by simply rotating the pole slightly, which moves his/her center of mass the other way, helping re-center him- or herself directly over the tightrope”. So now think of the tightrope walker as the winemaker striving to balance a vintage of wine with fruit and acidity, sweetness and dryness, smooth finish and quality tannins, etc. One powerful “little figure” with no wording, provides the insight and vision of the Young Family in their quest in making excellent wine. Jim, Jacky and Scott have a keen insight on how to produce excellent wines year after year.
The 2013 Young Inglewood Estate Cabernet Franc has a deep and dark brick red color with medium viscosity on the eyes. On the nose you get blueberry, cherry, cranberry and a hint of plum coupled with a hint of lavender. Also on the nose, you can get a waffle of licorice, sage and tobacco. On the palate, medium acidity and sweetness but tannins that stir up the senses to be awaken but not be overpowered. The finish is like the tightrope walker, making to the other side with confidence and completing the task assigned successfully. No wonder why their Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and blends, they have made my list of the yearly Best Wines!
Paired last night with a seared BBQed ribeye steak served medium rare provided a wonderful and mouthwatering food and wine pairing.
See previously written articles on Young Inglewood wines.
A wonderful food and wine pairing dinner last night at Copper Grille at The Golf Club at Copper Valley. A grilled whole Bronzini or alternately Branzino (Mediterranean Sea Bass) with ginger lime, coconut risotto and baby Bok Choy. Chef Janet Weissbeck prepared this delicate and mild white fish to perfection to bring out its sweet mild flavors.
This was paired by Susan Tipton’s 2018 Acquiesce Ingénue. Don’t let the name fool you as it’s definition states “an innocent or unsophisticated young woman, especially in a play or film”. This is a unique white blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette Blanche, Bourboulenc and Picpoul Blanc. The gestalt of this wine, when you combine the Grenache Blanc (pleasant minerality with hints of green apple and apricot), Bourboulenc (a rare varietal in the United States with as Susan states “…beeswax on the nose, citrus flavors of orange and key lime…..with a honeyed finish”), Picpoul (with pineapple, lemon custard and floral nose) and Clairette Blanche (again an uncommon varietal in California (with a medium-heavy viscosity, mild grapefruit and a floral bouquet) you have an exquisite and one of kind experience. Each of the varietals received an award winning Gold or Double Gold in various competitions. The Ingénue won Best of Class & Double Gold at the 2019 International Women’s Wine Competition plus Best of Class in the 2019 Sunset International Wine Competition. A great uncommon find and worthy of honor in any cellar!