Three Winemakers to Watch and Their Perfect Summer Wines!

3 Jul

Three stunningly delicious white wines from three winemakers you need to have on your radar.

Thomas Houseman from Anne Amie, Elizabeth Clark from Airlie Winery, and Birk & Karl from Iconic Wine. 

Anne Amie Vineyards 2014 Cuvée A Amrita, Carlton, OR. $15 per bottle, 13.2% ABV.
Winemaker Thomas Houseman’s tribute to vinho verde, this is an under-the-radar Willamette Valley delight! A six-wine blend with (grapes listed from most-to-least) Pinot Blanc, Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer) from four vineyards in the Willamette AVA, this wine shows delightful aromatics of wildflowers, lavender, and honeysuckle along with a pale gold hue. In the mouth, it awakens the palate with an unusual approach of fresh berries, pear, pineapple, starfruit, apricot and quince. Far more fun than my usually desired Bordeaux blends and unequalled in essence, ‘Amrita’ means ambrosia- as in the nectar of the gods. I think they got this name right. Have a friend that loves white wine? This is the perfect gift bottle. Have a look at the classic, 19th century designs on some of these bottles. The kicker is, I thought all the wines I tasted from Anne Amie Vineyards were both excellent and impressive, but the Cuvée A was a delightful, inexpensive, no brainer that I immediately wanted to buy a whole case. BAM!

THouseman

AnnAmie

Seven White Blend 2014, Airlie Winery, Monmouth, OR. $15 per bottle, 11.9% ABV.
My palate told me I was tasting a high end blend from a classic chateau, so imagine my surprise when I found it was an blend from Oregon! Tasting winemaker Elizabeth Clark’s refined and delightful Seven White Blend changed my mind that Oregon’s best export is Pinot. I couldn’t’ believe that she makes this wine every year with similar results, and Clark explained to me that keeping a blend consistent from year to year is challenging. She contended that while there will be subtle variances in fruit profile each year, it is the fruit-to-acid ratio that is the key and always stays the same- providing the same wine profile wine with faint differences. It absolutely works, but don’t take my word for it: with such a fun and lovely wine at a low price per bottle, you won’t have enough to compare to next season unless you purchase by the case. A white wine lover’s go-to, you should find some before its gone. This lady is madly talented and her work is delicious- I truly enjoyed her other wines too, but the blend just knocked me for a loop.

Clark

Airlie0

Heroine Sonoma Coast Chardonnay 2012, Iconic Wine, $29/bottle, 13.5% ABV.  Birk O’Halloran and Karl Antle are the winemakers who form the tiny company Iconic Wine. These guys flew in under my radar and it was a NYC somm who turned me on to their wines. When I saw the list of who is serving their wines, (think Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Oceana, Blue Hill, Tribeca Grill just for a few!) I bought a couple of bottles. After tasting,  I wished I had purchased more! I served a bottle of Heroine Chardonnay to a group of ladies who adored it, and against six other wines that night, it was the clear winner. Focused citrus fruit melds delightfully with acid for an ideal mouthfeel, the finish shows salinity, and chalky limestone with just a hint of oak. A solid sense of terroir and personality from a wine that is so balanced and easy to drink it’s almost criminal…or Heroic! David White of Terroirist Wine blog did a great profile on Birk and you can find it here.

Their label is not only young at heart, but it’s refreshing. I’m a fan of classic, old world styles and labels, but I found this label unapologetic and entirely fun, much like their cork design, scribed with the image of a lightning bolt corkscrew.

Iconic

Heroine

I have yet to meet Birk & Karl in person, so I snagged this pic from their website (apologies to the unnamed photog), which I think shows their sense of humor and exuberance even at snooty wine events.

table+1

Who are the independent winemakers you’re following? Share with me, on JvB UnCorked! 

à votre santé!

Finca La Mata Ribera Del Duero 2012

25 Jun

Isaac Fernandez Selection’s Finca La Mata Ribera Del Duero 2012. $17-19 per bottle, 14%ABV.

Opaque violet in the center with ruby edging, the nose shows bright red fruit and green pepper. In the mouth, strawberry, cherry, and red plum flavors are followed by strong acidity and tannins. The medium-long finish shares gravel, sandy clay, oak, and notes of forest floor.

Finca la Mata

Made from old vine Tinta del Pais grapes and matured eight months in oak barrels, this wine sits squarely between the bright fruit of a great pinot and the depth and complexity of a cabernet. It’s fascinating, easy to drink, and pairs well with red meat, strong cheese, or just as easily with powerful flavors like spicy black bean tostadas.

This is a bottle that has been sitting in my cellar waiting for a perfect opportunity, that finally arrived. In this under $20 price range, it offers excellent value for 60+ year old vines full of flavor and depth, as well as great conversation. I honestly can’t wait to see how it tastes in three and five more years, and hope I can manage to keep some bottles that long!

à votre santé!

Lismore Sauvignon Blanc

20 Jun

Lismore Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Greyton, South Africa. ABV 13.4%; $24-29/bottle.

Color of medium straw with good clarity, and a nose of grapefruit, gooseberry, passion fruit, and fresh cut grass. In the mouth, clean citrus fruit meshes with ideal acidity, followed by gentle savory notes of toasted oak, and limestone. Winemaker Samantha O’Keefe has created a wine that tastes like a California dream from some of South Africa’s finest terroir.

Lismore

If you like a handcrafted wine that is only available in limited quantities yet at a reasonable price, this is for you. 4,200 bottles were produced of this wine. Insure you do not serve too cold; expression is simple at lower temps but expands and demonstrates the complex, savory delights when this wine is over 55 degrees. Lismore sauvignon blanc pairs beautifully with salad, fish, white meats and delicate to medium-bodied cheeses.

In the under-$30/bottle range,  Lismore sauvignon blanc compares favorably but at a lower cost to similar wines from California, New Zealand, and Europe. So far, this is one of the best wines I’ve tasted from this continent. If you haven’t found a wine you like from South Africa, I suggest you give this one a try! 

What wine has surprised you with brilliance, depth or astounding value?

à votre santé!

My Summer Wines are SPARKLING!

13 Jun

Have a glimpse into the joys of warm weather and the delights you can find in your wine glass!

There are so many lovely and affordable sparkling wines. Crémant, Cava, and Prosecco are some of the easiest words you can say this summer to keep joy in your glass without damaging your wallet.

Crémant: Love vintage champagne but don’t have the thick wallet? Never fear, Crémant is here! One of my favorites is Tissot’s Crémant du Jura. Delightfully expressive, unique, and easily found for $25/bottle. Grab it and enjoy, life is short! Drinks comparably to champagnes that cost 3-4 times the price. Just for the heck of it, I had a quick look at 67Wine‘s website. Ten crémants all under $30/bottle including the Jura region, just not the one below.

Cremant

Having spent a great deal of time tasting prosecco and vinho verde last year, I promised myself to spend more time tasting cava this year. And while I still love those wines, I found  both great taste and great value in the sparkling wines from Spain.

The best bargain I found this year was snapping up a mixed case of cava from Garagiste.

Pere Mata Cava

 

Each of the various types of cava found in the mixed case I sourced from Garagiste offered a slightly different pleasure. Last week, my neighbors and I enjoyed the Cupada Rosé  (below, far right) very much, along with some other still wines from the garden of earthy delights. The fact that a rosé cava could hold its own against classic Bordeaux blanc, high end Napa sauvignon blanc, and a killer Burgundian aligoté speaks volumes, does it not? 

 

Summer whites

 

 

Champagne. Need I say more? But not all champagnes are truly worth your time or hard-earned coin. Laurent-Perrier Brut is one I love, a non-vintage bottle I consider affordable in the low $40’s per bottle and better than many vintage (and more expensive) champagnes, but simply delightful on the palate.

 

perrier

 

Why not share this one, a glimpse into the high end of heavenly delights? One of the finest champagnes I’ve enjoyed in recent years was undoubtedly Taittinger’s 2005 Comtes de Champagne Rosé. Retailing at $300/bottle, it’s a rare and exotic enchantment that impressed me by tasting it blindly, and I was thankful I had a glass before I saw the price tag. But if your budget allows it, why not?

Unknown

So tasty, but the down side is that now even the sight of the box makes my mouth water.

Tattinger

 

Sparkling Reds! If you missed last year’s missive on Lambrusco or my discovery of sparkling shiraz in the summer heat then you missed out, but it’s never too late. Click the links on the names and read about my experiences with each of these wines.

 

So, do tell… what’s sparkling in YOUR glass this summer?

à votre santé!

 

Château Larteau 2006

24 May

Château Larteau 2006, Bordeaux Superior, France. 13%ABV, $13/bottle from Garagiste.

Dark ruby in color with a nose of black currants, eucalyptus and rose bush. On the palate, cassis blends gently with mature tannins. Secondary notes of coffee, road tar, and gravel pair with a medium long finish. Consistent notes over three days; it took significant willpower to allow the wine this much time to sit without completion.

As much as I often think that I don’t care much about Merlot, this wine reminds me that Merlot is often and sadly maligned -Relax, Miles!  This is an excellent example of a delightful Merlot! At nine years old, it has a good balance of flavors, mouthfeel, depth and structure, making this wine an excellent value in the under $20/bottle marketplace. Larteau

à votre santé!

Cimicky & Sons Invisible Man Shiraz 2010

19 May

K Cimicky & Sons Invisible Man Shiraz 2010, Barossa Valley Australia. 14.5%ABV; $25 online, $19/bottle from Garagiste.

Color is deep purple center with garnet edging. The nose exhibits ripe black plum, vegetation, and a hint of menthol. In the mouth, solid cassis with thick black fruit, and dense minerals on the back palate: limestone mixed with clay loam. The back palate shows cocoa powder, coffee bean, and spice box. 

I bought this from Garagiste in February when I was jonesing for big, bold fruit and boy does it deliver! This is a killer wine to pair with red meats in summer evenings, or to enjoy by itself. As with the sleek lines of a vintage European race car, it is easy to discern the extreme care and diligence that went in to making this wine, a labor of love that we now get to delight in. Even better, for a wine under $20/bottle that compares well to bottles of Syrah/Shiraz in the $35-40 range. Yum. Color me impressed. Remember this name- Cimicky, from Barossa Valley, Australia. This winery is one to watch!

Invisible Man Shiraz

à votre santé!

Dubois Grand Réserve Chardonnay 2013

14 May

Joséph Dubois Grande Réserve Chardonnay Bourgogne 2013. $12/bottle, 12.5% ABV.

Medium straw in color; a delicately floral nose shows hints of bosc pear and white peach. In the mouth, gentle citrus and more savory, fleshy pear are well matched with bright, lasting acidity. As the wine warms, the focus of the finish shifts from the tongue and mid-palate to top and rear palate, adding notes of citrus, limestone, and toast to the finish. 

This bottle shows off some small level of pedigree, lauding both terroir and winemaking while appealing to most white wine drinkers in being a value-driven introduction to white burgundy, and a decent choice for those who strive for the low-cost bottles. This wine is pleasant to drink alone and purrs when paired well with food. In warm weather, it’s important to remember to remove from fridge 20 minutes before serving to allow the wine to warm and show some flavor expansion. When served too cold it is subtle and gentle while enjoyable, yet lacking the depth and finesse that shows with proper serving temperature.

Dubois Chardonnay

à votre santé!

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