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2019 Gossamer Cellars Tannat

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Background on the Tannat Grape Varietal

Tannat is a thick-skinned grape (blue to black in color) which produces deep, colored, big, bold and tannic wines. Interestingly, Tannat has some of the highest levels of polyphenols (antioxidants) of all red wines save for Sagrantino. This is a little known fact for wine drinkers.  It is now known as the national grape in Uruguay. Only 2% of the world production is in the United States. Tannat’s natural home is found near the Pyrenees in southwest France in the Basque region. The Lodi and Sierra Foothill regions are producing some of the best Tannat wines due to similar weather and soil conditions. The state of Virginia is also a key area for Tannat. In the past, Tannat needed years of bottle time to “soften up” but with the advances in viticulture and techniques in winemaking, Tannat is easier to consume earlier. Key flavors of classical Tannat are dark red and black fruits, chocolate, coffee and smoke along with acidity and strong tannins.  The key trait of Tannat is its very high tannin levels. Thus historically, it has long been known as a blending wine. In California 285,975 acres are planted in red wine grapes with only 589 acres being Tannat, or .2% of the total.

Gossamer Cellars Background

Gossamer Cellars in Murphys, California is unique in so many wonderful ways. Gossamer’s owners, Gary and Sue Grant are unique in their wine making endeavors. Gary has always wanted to make every wine in the De Long Grape Varietal Table. This unique approach is wide rather than deep, which provides the wine consumer with just about everything to taste and imagine. Just a quick listing of some of the wines he has produced are Torrontes, Nebbiolo, Teroldego, Negroamaro, Alicante, Treixadura, Pinotage, Tannat and the list goes on. Gary subscribes to the saying proudly displayed on the chalkboard in his quaint tasting room “Adventure may hurt you, but monotony will kill you”- Anonymous. I personally appreciate and applaud Gary’s quest in educating and bringing wines to the consumer which would normally be obscure or never appreciated.

The Wine – 2019 Gossamer Cellars Tannat

Gary’s Tannat has the notable features of very dark red and maroon coloring with a medium viscosity in the glass. On the nose, you are met with a rustic sense of the wine that includes dust, plum and black cherry. Not a very aromatic wine, but this is just the beginning. Once on the palate, you are greeted with the black cherry, ripe blackberries, oak, cedar, leather and black tea. The finish is long and satisfying with an appreciated “old world” sense of being. This is not a sipping wine with the astringent tannins, but one meant for foods that are high in fat to knock down the tannins like sausage, duck and fatty beef. 111 cases were produced using a combination of new and used French oak barrels. The grapes come from Silvaspoon Vineyards in Galt, Alta Mesa. Recently a advid wine drinker from Uruguay visited them and stated “his Tannat was on par with several of the best Tannant’s from Uruguay.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Last evening a penne pasta and Bolognese sauce (with lots of garlic) was just the right amount of strong flavors for the 2019 Tannat. Accompanied by a Caesar salad, making a delightful winter meal.

Previously the food pairing with Tannat has to be “spot on” to be enjoyed with the enormity of this wine varietal. Even for those die hard red wine lovers, this typically is not a standalone sipping wine but one to be enjoyed with food.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://www.restless-frog.com/

4th Annual International Cabernet Franc Wine Competition. Registration now open!

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2023 registration can be found at

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2023-international-cab-franc-celebration/

Who is this event for? For the 4th Annual Cabernet Franc Celebration, we have opened it up to both domestic and international producers of Cabernet Franc. Last year we had 12 states and four countries participating in the event representing some 70+ wines. Also it is for both those producing a Cabernet Franc varietal wine and for blends being 50% or higher with Cabernet Franc.

Why hold this event? It is to show the uniqueness and versatility of Cabernet Franc. To celebrate the wine as so much more than a blending grape. As Steven Kent Mirassou stated “Cabernet Franc, in its purest form, is all about sex. From the silkiness of its texture, to the exoticism of its aromas; from the raciness of its acidity to its emotion-prodding “it-ness”, Cabernet Franc is terrifyingly and wonderfully naughty”. Cabernet Franc has adapted and transformed its personality from Chile, France, Canada, the east coast of the US, the Michigan peninsula, the Midwest and the west coast of the US.

How will the competition be judged? The event will be a blind tasting using the “Danish System”, sometimes called the group method. Unique to this event, two separate judging stations will be set up. The first will comprise of Professional Judges and the second being the People’s Choice Judges (serious consumers). Each set of Judges will award medals and award Best of Class and Best of Show based on price categories of wines (5).

Who are the judges? Tom Bender has agreed once again to head up the Professional Judging Panel(s). Tom has headed up the California Sierra Foothill Competition for over 35 years, served on California State Fair Judges, is a well-known writer for various wine magazines and teaches at a local college. Other judges include Mike Dunne retired food editor, wine columnist for the Sacramento Bee, distinguished judge at San Francisco Chronicle and other events, Fran Cunniffe a DipWSET and certified Sommelier, Tana Cole winemaker from Sonoma Valley & Lodi, Jim Denham proprietor of The Wine Steward, former winemaker and educator, and WSET I, II and III individuals. People Choice’s Judges are astute individuals with years of experience and collectors including well known wine writer Elizabeth Smith, PhD. All judges are prepared with extensive documentation and profiles on Cabernet Franc’s characteristics from various geographic areas.

Benefits for wineries participating? National exposure from California Wines and Wineries website which will run a full feature article on those receiving Best of Class and Best of Show (domestic and international). The story will also be sent to 70+ blogs for reposting and all social media for a reach of over 400,000. Additionally it will be submitted to two magazines with a reach of an additional 500,000 readership. The Best of Show winners will also be featured on the Cabernet Franc Day site, a Facebook blog and a podcast featured by Exploring the Wine Glass. Klearcut Media (Texas) has been invited to be on site to video graph the event for public relations for Copper Valley GC and Town Center.

Where is the event being held? It is being held at the recently remodeled Copper Valley Clubhouse in Copperopolis, California (Sierra foothills) March 29th, 2023 in the Grandview Room.

Questions? Email mkellywine@gmail.com

Villa Vallecito Vineyards Visit – A Lot of “V’s” But All A+ Wines

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Background

(pic of Ghee Hagedorn and Rhonda Wood)

On recent visit to Murphys, located in Calaveras County with Livermore winemakers Rhonda Wood and Larry Dino, Wood Family Vineyards and Cuda Ridge Wines respectively, and their spouses we visited Villa Vallecito. Located on Main Street in Murphys, met with owner Ghee Hagedorn as we enjoyed a deep dive discussion on winemaking, the wine industry trends, and the future of winemaking and of course tasted some of her excellent wines!

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Villa Vallecito Vineyards has a small tasting room, but don’t let that stop you. Her wines across the board are award winning wines. Her awards from various wine competitions are too numerous to list. I became aware of their wines when she entered their Cabernet Franc in the 3rd Annual Cabernet Franc Wine Competition for the first time in April 2022. They won Best of Class ($31 to $50) and won overall Best of Show competing against all categories from the Professional Wine Judges (wines included over $100).

(photo of Villa Vallecito Vineyards by Gil Muno )

They started their winery adventure in 2001 with purchasing land in Vallecito. After years of selling the grapes, they decided to make their own wine! The have another award winning winemaker Nathan Vader making their wines (Vina Moda). The balance of the entire operation is essentially family chasing the energetic and engaging Ghee about the winery and tasting room. Her husband Alan, described as Co-CEO and Quality Control Manager continual tasting the wines. Their son Gil Munoz, Wine Club Manager and Photographer with his striking pictures adorning the tasting room round out this small management team producing some of the best wines in Calaveras County.

The Visit and Tasting at Villa Vallecito

While we only wanted to taste a few on their daily selection, Ghee is not one you can say no to. I wish she would be appointed as Secretary of State and straighten out some of our world issues, but I digress. So we started out with a 2017 Viognier and what a surprising elegant and mouth filling Viognier.

We continued through the tasting with 2017 Grenache (Double Gold Medal at Sunset International), 2018 Paysaso a blend of Syrah/Grenache (Gold Medal Winner at SF Chronicle), 2017 Barbera Reserve (Gold Medal Winner SF Chronicle), 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon (Best of Class SF Chronicle) and 2018 Syrah (Double Gold Medal winner at SF Chronicle). The awards listed were abbreviated as each had won other awards! Obvious each wine was delicious and Ghee’s heart felt story behind each was inspiring and left us in awe. Other wines “forced upon us” (admittedly we were happy to accept) included:

Her story on El Rey (The King being a blend and so named for her father’s influence and character), 2016 & 2019 Sagrantino, 2019 El Rey (a 50/50 blend of Syrah and Cabernet Franc), 2017 Syrah, 2019 Cabernet Franc and some reserve wines left us all in wonderment on how each wine was at such a high standard of excellence and quality. Every one of us left carrying lots of wine back home! Personally the 2017 Grenache with shimmering color, texture and spice  and her award winning 2019 Cabernet Franc are now resting comfortably in the cellar awaiting the right occasion and food to be paired.

Ghee’s stories on each wine, be it her honoring the family, naming a few after characterizes in the Yellowstone series or simply tasting excellent wine would be on the top five wineries/tasting rooms to visit next time you are in Murphys

Sláinte,


Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.villavallecitovineyards.com/

Merlot Convergence Last Evening- 2017 Duckhorn Three Palms and 2019 Acre Wines

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Last evening pulled two Merlot’s to do a compare and contrast and ultimately to enjoy!

This 2017 came through like a champion. As you probably know, Duckhorn Vineyards has historically made exceptional wines, specifically Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlots (Three Palms). This had those great qualities. On the eyes, deep dark crimson coloring and medium heavy viscosity in the glass. On the nose, the aromas of dark fruit, especially blackberries, with a sweet vanilla wafted into the senses. On the mouth licorice, leather and black tea filled the palate. All producing a medium and extremely smooth silky finish. This 2017 Duckhorn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon finished aligned with my expectations of structure and tannins providing a more typical Duckhorn vintage with a strong finish. Aged 16 months in 100% French oak (50% new, 50% used). It is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, .5% Cabernet Franc and .5% Petit Verdot. The current release is the 2019 and goes for $115/bottle.

The 2019 Acre Merlot, Napa Valley, is one strong Merlot. The color in the glass is your first clue this is a different Merlot. The color is dark purple and intriguing with a medium heavy viscosity on the eyes. On the nose, chocolate covered berries, strawberries and vanilla waft into the senses. On the palate, this is not your warm and cuddling drink that is relaxing and comforting to sip. You are awoken with the first sip to an explosive mouthful of Bing cherries, plums, rough and tough tannins with subtle earthy tones of bramble and minerality. No soft and warm Merlot here. The finish has a textual feel and a complex layered structure continues to enhance the wine consumer. The words chewy and masculine come to mind in describing this beautiful wine. While having so much brawny characteristics, it still presents on the finish as elegant and charming. This is a Merlot to absolutely enjoy today but suspect laying it down for a few years will only increase its potential. Aged in 40% new French oak barrels for 16 months. The wine uses 100% Merlot grapes and comes from Stags Leap AVA.  Current release price is $42

In the end both wines were excellent and hit the mark to enjoy this under rated and misaligned varietal.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.duckhorn.com/

https://acrewines.com

Prospect 772 Wine Company in the Sierra Foothills – A Hidden Gem

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Background

Most people when coming up to Calaveras County wine country assume all the wineries/tasting rooms are located on Main Street Murphys. Many are located “off the main drag” and there you will find some unique and diverse wineries. Prospect 772 is not just one of them, but an enchanted winery in the vineyard.

Ron Pieretti, by way of Sheraton Palace and Rosenblum Cellars and Wendy Sanda are the founders of Prospect 772. They found the 25 acres in 2001 and never looked back. The name comes from working the land, or prospecting and their address 772 Appaloosa Road. They are listed as Angels Camp but are located off Highway 4 halfway between Copperopolis and Angels Camp. Their facility beyond acres of vineyards has the amenities for weddings, group events, camping, private dinners, picnics and few small overnight accommodations.

The focus of the winery are small batch fermentations selecting the best grapes available on site and around the state. The artisan wines are spectacularly delicious!

The Visit to Prospect 772

Ventured up to Prospect 772 with two winemakers from Livermore for taste and visit the weekend before Thanksgiving. The winemakers were Rhonda Wood from Wood Family Vineyards and Larry Dino from Cuda Ridge Wines. Their spouses and my spouse also attend. Ron hosted us for a complete review of his current offering. Starting out with his whites, Stepping Stones and Grenache Noir Sparkling.

While the conversations revolved around winemaking, vineyard management and all things related to the wine business/industry, we continued to move into the beautiful red wines.

First up was the 2020 “Brat” (as Ron and team have unique names for each), 87% Grenache and 13% Syrah blend. His description is as follows “a beautiful crimson color, with Bing cherry and blackberry notes, this vintage is a more restrained Brat. Elegant and refined like a more traditional French style Chateauneuf du Pape. Raspberry and tart cherry flavors are followed by soft tannins and subtle hints of smoke and leather”. While visiting Prospect 772 for the last six years, I had never enjoyed this wine as much as this day. Refreshing, clean and crisp, I left carring several bottles! Only 70 cases produced and goes for $39/bottle.

One of the other favorites tasted was the 2020 “Brawler”. This wine was a blend of 93% Syrah and 7% Viognier. It possessed a beautiful garnet coloring, with a bouquet mix of aromas due to co-fermentation with the Viognier. Ron speaks of “rip plums and blackberries followed by red raspberry, cured meats, black pepper and all spice”. Again hitting a cord with me, again added to my cardboard case of goodies to enjoy later. Only 50 cases produced and it goes for $42/bottle.

During the visit at Prospect 772 we also enjoyed a couple of other wines produced. All were very good and spot on for the varietal(s) with always the Midas touch of quality and uniqueness by Ron. The conversations could have gone on for days as all three winemakers were knowledgeable and engaging sharing ideas and thoughts.

Thanks Ron for a wonderful afternoon hosting us.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

http://www.prospect772.com/

2020 Wood Family Vineyards – “The Captain” A Red Wine Blend

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Background On The Winery & Rhonda Wood

Rhonda Wood, winemaker extraordinaire in Livermore Valley produces almost twenty different wines. One of her favorites is “The Captain”, a “Bordeaux style blend” with a reason. Rhonda started her career as one of the first woman pilots for US Airways. For more details see a previous article: https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2016/02/10/wood-family-vineyards-2/

So the name “The Captain” is for her previous career before making award winning wines.

Thought it would interesting to draw a few comparisons between the winemaker and key traits of captaining a commercial plane:

Attention to details: The Captain knowing all aspects of flight planning, aircraft operation, documenting aircraft performance & maintenance, operational compliance, adhering to government standards & regulations, manage emergencies, coordination with mechanics, ground crew and air traffic control. Rhonda Wood: knowing the vineyards for pruning, shoot thinning, cluster thinning, water strategy & compliance, cover crop management, details to county, AVA and government regulations.

Awareness: The Captain understanding optimal aircraft performance and ability for various aircraft being flown. Rhonda Wood: Knowing when and what to do in the vineyard(s) from Brix checks, ordering supplies for the winery (yeast, So2, etc.), scheduling harvest with vineyard manager, soil nutrition, timing on picking, pressing, sending juice panels to ETS, punch down timing & frequency, selecting yeasts and additives (if necessary), tank temperatures. All of these functions for each and every varietal and winery blend.

Documentation: The Captain recording all aspects of aircraft operations, fuel, temperature, oil pressure, hydraulics, weather, turbulence, aircraft avoidance and airspace incidents, noting functions outside of prescribed government regulations, flight plans, etc. Rhonda Wood: pre-ordering bottles, labels and corks for upcoming harvest and bottling, testing during fermentation, compliance and documentation for ABC laws, tasting room notes, pairing & technical sheets, shipment compliancy, etc.

The above only scratch the surface of the broad characteristics of being a Captain and Winemaker. In addition, self-confidence, humility, clear communication skills, desire to learn and most importantly, the ability to remain calm under pressure.

The Wine -2020 Wood Family Vineyards, The Captain

It is a blend of 50% Merlot, 35% Malbec, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. This is one of her favorite wines, not just because of the taste, but representing her previous profession. This is a mellower “Bordeaux style blend” with Merlot & Malbec representing such a large portion of the blend. Alluding back to the Captain analogy, perhaps appropriate for emergencies?  The wine is a nice medium to dark purple with red hues. Lots of floral characteristics and red fruit with raspberries, cherries and strawberry aromas. On the palate a soft landing (again appreciated by airline passengers) with rounded tannins with the fruits intermingling in the mouth. Still having structural integrity (again appreciated by airline passengers), with a medium length finish.  This vintage 210 cases were produced and aged 20 months in French Oak barrels. It comes in at 14.5% alcohol and pricing will be $44/bottle and it was just released last weekend. Her previous 2019 “The Captain” (2019) received a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and many more for previous vintages.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Last night paired with a Beef Teriyaki with snow peas. Ingredients included sliced flank steak Teriyaki sauce, fresh snow peas, veal stock, Mirin, Asian red chili pepper, cornstarch, stir fried in oil, sliced cremini mushrooms and ginger. Served over brown & Quinoa mixture rice. While not really known to be a “match made in heaven with a Bordeaux style wine” and Teriyaki dishes,  the mellower blend with a large percentage of Merlot and Malbec, served its purpose with both a quick takeoff and soft landing last evening!

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://woodfamilyvineyards.com/

* special note of thanks to Susan Tipton, owner/winemaker at Acquiesce Winery on the responsibilities of a winemaker.

2017 Lions Peak Petit Verdot

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Quick Background

Petit Verdot may be the next varietal making a big splash! Generally it has been a blending grape for highly sought out Bordeaux wines. Recently more wineries are producing Petit Verdot varietals. A quick background on this “little green one” (translation) as it got its name from being a late ripening warm climate variety. Petit Verdot is one of the five grapes going into the modern Bordeaux blend. Because of its strong presence, generally less than 5% of Petit Verdot is added as it produces a dark color, tannin and floral aromas. More and more 100% varietal Petit Verdot is finding its way into wineries and wine shops.

The Winery – Lions Peak

Lions Peak was founded in 1992 by Jennifer Arant. Up until this year the property of 128 acres and with 40 acres planted was their estate vineyard. The winery has primarily concentrated on Bordeaux and Rhone varietals of grapes. Other wines produced include various red and white blends, Rose’s, sparkling wine and dessert wines.

The vineyards were recently sold and she will source her grapes from a variety of vineyards around California. She has previously used grapes from other vineyards in Paso Robles, Santa Barbara and Monterey AVA’s. She is currently looking to Santa Rita Hills to provide additional Chardonnay & Pinot Noir grapes for some new vintages.

The Wine – 2017 Lions Peak Petit Verdot

Having never tried wine from Lions Peak previously, I was curious and anxious to sip the wine. At first upon the eyes, it was dark and had a mysterious allure in the color, with radiant purple and magenta hues. On the nose, aromas of black fruits blackberry, black cherry and plum were prominent. Secondary aromas of dried herbal and floral notes of violet and sage sprang forth. On the palate, previous aromas burst through coupled with cedar, anise, sage and violet abounded. Dense and mouth filling is best to describe this wines “thickness and bold fruit”. The finish is where a pleasant surprise caught me off guard. Rather than the high tannins with angular definition, this was rounded and smooth with an underlying structure. Little smoke and rustic characteristics were found! It presented itself as a being a thoroughbred stallion with smoothness and silkiness. Medium acidity only enhanced the smoothness for an enjoyable finish and allowed a slight vanilla and hazelnut to surface.

The wine was aged in 100% French oak and received 94 Points & Double Gold Award at Orange County Fair. Also the wine won a Gold Medal at the San Francisco Wine Competition.  A very fine and delightful Petit Verdot.  Their website shows it selling for $75/bottle and only 64 cases were produced.

The Food and Wine Pairing

Paired with an olive oil rubbed pork roast that was moist and delicious. It was initially roasted at high temperatures and then cooked at a lower temperature to seal in the flavors, keeping it moist. Seasoned with garlic salt, smoked Applewood salt, coarse black pepper and whole garlic cloves inserted into the meat.  

The pork slices were drizzled with Steward & Jasper Orchards Cherry Pepper Sauce. The red cherry provided a counter point to the garlic and embraced the wine. Served with a cheese tortellini pasta and broccoli. A fresh garden salad also accompanied the meal. Definitely a winning combination this evening.

Looking forward to trying some of Lions Peak additional Bordeaux varietals in the near future.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://lionspeakwine.com/

www.stewardandjasper.com

2021 Acquiesce Winery Picpoul Blanc, Mahi-mahi and a Birthday Party!

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The Winery

A lot has been written on Acquiesce Winery & Susan Tipton who turned the landscape of Lodi’s red wine region on its head with lesser known “white wines only”!  For further background information see a previous published story at:

https://californiawinesandwineries.com/2018/09/09/acquiesce-winery-vineyards-an-unique-offering/

Susan was also named Best Woman Winemaker for 2022 at the International Women’s Wine Competition.

The Wine

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Tonight’s wine is one which has made my yearly Best Wines Tasted for years 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 for previous vintages. However, this was the 2021 Acquiesce Picpoul Blanc, which up until now I had not tasted with food.  As usual this was a beautiful white wine, produced by winemaker/owner Susan Tipton. Visually this varietal is faint in color and almost translucent with a pale yellow hue. Picpoul means to “sting the lips” yet this wine was much more embracing and had a disguised light sweetness on the finish. The finish produced a full mouthful of wonderment. This wine was made to pair with oysters in Europe.

On the nose pineapple was the predominate scent coupled with minerality. Lemon and a silky mouth filling sensation on the palate. This wine looks like a “light weight wine” but packs a delicate punch of enjoyment.  For my taste, it is an excellent wine and it received a score of 98 points and has won the following awards:

*Double Gold – 98 pts – 2022 International Women’s Wine Competition

*Gold – 96 Pts – 2022 California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition

*Gold – 90 pts – Orange County Wine Competition

All those awards for this distinctive and coveted wine which sells for $30/bottle and is a real bargain!  Again, Susan can count on this wine to be in the Best Wines Tasted for 2022!

The Food and Wine Pairing

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Paired last Friday at our Wine & Dine Group held at Verona18 at Copper Valley Clubhouse. Ordered a special for the evening, grilled Mahi-mahi topped with a pineapple chutney. Served with leek risotto and vegetable medley. The fish was prepared spot on and the wine paired excellent with the pineapple chutney. We also had two winemakers join us Rhonda Wood and Larry Dino with their spouses.

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

It was a special night as it was also Peter Singh’s birthday! Picture above is Peter with his wife Ansuiya who brought homemade cream puffs drizzled with chocolate for dessert. With nineteen in attendance and every couple bringing a bottle or more, it was an enjoyable night with wines from Livermore Valley, Paso Robles, Calaveras County, Lodi, Spain, Napa Valley and San Benito County!

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://www.acquiescevineyards.com/

https://www.coppervalleygolf.com/homepage/current-operations

https://www.coppervalleygolf.com/

2020 Wood Family Vineyards “El Loco Rojo” Blend

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Background

A utility player in sports is one who can play various positions competently. So it is with the 2020 Wood Family El Loco Rojo blend. Had tasted previous vintages before, all being good but never did a deep dive on it before. This was a pleasant and enjoyable surprise!

The wine is called El Loco Rojo, initially after a relative of the Wood Family. The legend is about a red-headed man, who was the life of the party, yet somehow managed to be “cool”. Rhonda Wood describes him as someone who will “bring a smile to your face, regardless of your mood” and “his love is boundless and his attitude is contagious”. Now who would not like a wine that could evoke such an affect?

The Wine, 2020 El Loco Rojo Wood Family Vineyards

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

To be clear this is not an off-handed whimsical wine, it is a serious “Bordeaux style blend”. It is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec and 2% Petit Verdot. Blends can cut two ways: a superb combinations of wonderful grapes or unfortunately many blends can leave you flat with an amalgamation of mediocrity. Not this wine!  You can dissect and pick out the essential components while tasting the wine. First on the eyes, a luminous royal purple in the glass and medium heavy viscosity. On the nose, blackberries are the predominate aroma. On the palate, one immediate picks up on dancing spices coming from the five ingredients.  On the finish, is where this wine excels with the varieties coming together like a live symphony with a combination of rounded tannins as well as some angular ones! The texture of the mellower Merlot and Malbec give a slight hint of sweetness but countered by the bolder Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This provides a never ending structure to be enjoyed and savored with a minuscule residual oak. The alcohol level is 14.2% and only 251 cases were produced. It will be released the end of November and goes for $44/bottle.

The Food and Wine Pairing

(Photo ©Michael Kelly)

Not having had this wine with food before, I chose to pair it with a pepperoni pizza last night. It played perfectly with the exciting TCU verses Texas college football game.  The wine being excellent with pizza, my thoughts quickly turned to what other foods this could be paired with it going forward. With the majority of the wine being Cabernet Sauvignon it opens up to a wide range of red meats, especially grilled steaks, rack of lamb and strong cheeses. In fact I was going to add Roquefort cheese on the pizza but really wanted to deconstruct the wine.  With the other varieties of grapes in the mix, so many options exist, thus the idea of this wine being the quintessential utility player.

Sláinte,

Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

https://woodfamilyvineyards.com/

2018 La Quercia Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – Hard to Beat!

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This wine was especially interesting, and I want to clear up a common misconception. Montepulciano and Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo are two entirely different wines. Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo is a wonderful wine from the Abruzzo region in east-central Italy and not to be confused with the Montepulciano which is mainly Sangiovese grapes from Tuscany, in the north central and western area of Italy. Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo comes from this area overlooking the Adriatic Sea have ample sunlight, fog and ocean breezes to produce some highly developed and well-structured wines.

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 cherry, blackberries are prevalent. On a palate, some delicious flavors of cherry, blackberries and ripe plums. On the finish a lovely soft tobacco, oak and vanilla rounded out the wine with a hint of earthiness. Often it possesses sweeter tannins and is appropriately paired with hot & spicy peppers, beef 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 Montepulciano 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 be pleased if you get a nice bottle of Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo. This Riserva is aged two years in oak barrels creating spice and aromas with dark fruits and briarwood flavors.  Always a favorite wine! Price per bottle was $24/bottle. This was recommended as being better than the DOCG and it was wonderful.

Sláinte,


Michael

https://californiawinesandwineries.com

I purchased this wine at The Wine Steward http://thewinesteward.com/