Archive | October, 2014

Flor De Campo Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County

26 Oct

Flor De Campo Chardonnay 2010, Sanford Winery, Lompoc, Santa Barbara County, CA. Purchased at Wine & Spirit Company Austin Street NYC $28. Found online for $12-20/bottle. ABV 13.8%.

I found this bottle today when scouring the racks at a small local store. They have higher prices than larger stores, but the owner prides himself on providing quality wines. Since I’d managed to visit the winery this summer before and during #WBC14, the Wine Blogger’s Conference, I was immediately intrigued, and picked up the bottle.

The color shows pale sunshine with subtle green tinge. The nose offers wildflowers, iris, passion fruit, and apricot. In the mouth, this chardonnay shows a  delightful fruit blend, both tropical and citrus, yet creamy and nicely balanced with zesty acidity. New oak, gravel and schist show on the finish. A delight to drink by itself, it also paired wonderfully with both chicken and fish as a delicate, subtle foil. Utilizing screwcap closure, Flor de Campo was as perfect on day three after opening as on day one of tasting, and I enjoyed it both at cold temperatures which features the fruit and acidity, as well as closer to room temperature which enhanced the aromatics and creaminess of the wine.

FlordeCampo

A value at the internet prices I saw, I was happy to know I could find a local (albeit expensive) provider for immediate supply if needed/desired.

Having tasted the 2013 harvest at the vineyard while they were bottling, I was very happy to try the 2010 and confirm that the vintages have great consistency. Another positive mark for Sanford, where the passion they have for the product really shows.

Below are a few additional pictures from my trip to Sanford  this summer, documented on my post about Sanford Wine here : http://bit.ly/JvBSanford. I truly enjoyed discussing the vineyard and winemaking process with winemaker/GM Steve Fennel and hie entire team, which might be evident by the array of photos I took while there.

 

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Grapes for this wine are near the entry to the vineyard.  

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Chardonnay grapes on the vine. 

 

Chardonnay Grape Vine

Lovely vines, great fruit!

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Ready for crush?

Stainless

The next step in the process, then on to…

Barrels

 …storage in OAK!

Cold Filtration

Cold filtration, final step before bottling. 

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Auggie (left) a winemaker on the team at Sanford for over twenty years. The author on the right.

 

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 Part of the automated bottling of the 2013 Flor De Campo at Sanford Winery. 

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 The label goes on, and into the box they go, ready for distribution!

 

 

à votre santé!

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Castillo de Molina

15 Oct

San Pedro Reserva Castillo de Molina Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, Central Valley, Chile. $11 at Mayfair Wine & Liquor. %14 ABV.

Color in the glass is deep garnet with rose edging. The nose shows cassis, young black plum, forest floor, young oak and a hint of menthol. In the mouth, a mix of fully ripe black cherry, blackberry and black plum, dried flowers, clay and some barnyard funk on the finish. A full-bodied wine with a very South American attitude. Pairs best with strong flavors, retains balance on the second and third day after opening. A solid value at this price point, best demonstrated with gamey meats, spicy fare or savory cheeses.

Castillo De Molina

à votre santé!

Boneshaker Zin: Trick and Treat!

8 Oct

Boneshaker Zinfandel 2012; Hahn Family Winery, Lodi California. Retail $19.99; street price approx $16/bottle. 15% ABV. 

The first days of fall. It’s the time of year when I finally start drinking red wines again after finishing out the ‘indian’ summer stock I have left. Early fall requires you to transition back to cooler weather and look for solutions (activities, clothing, and yes, even wine) that can handle both hot and cold, chilly fall breezes while you break a sweat under the hazy afternoon sun.

Syrah and red zinfandels are ideal choices right now, but the one wine that has topped them for me is my trick and your treat: Boneshaker Zinfandel from Lodi, CA.

Deep purple color with violet edging, the nose is a jammy boysenberry. On the tongue: black plum, blackberry, and cassis bursts through the palate leaving residual heat in its wake (15%ABV). Slowly you revel in cacao and spice box on the finish, as the tannins unexpectedly slide into home plate leaving your mouth aching for another sip. 

This is the perfect fall wine to drink from late afternoon watching the sun turn clouds into pinkish orange cotton candy, and to pair up later in the evening with fall chili or those spicy BBQ ribs you’ve been jonesing for.

What could be better for All Hallow’s Eve? Nothing but Boneshaker.

The label, a retro industrial negative design of wrought iron, early bikes and split chain links, provokes the essence of early leather-clad riders on motorcycles, and the barn where you made out in the hayloft as a precocious teenager. Turn the light off, and watch it emit an eerie green glow in the dark. Just enough trouble, and too much fun.

Lodi, you keep me guessing with surprise after great surprise. Well done, and Happy Halloween!

Boneshaker

à votre santé!

‘Drinking Local’ at Total Wine: A Big ‘ol Wine Store in Atlanta

8 Oct

On a recent trip to Atlanta I had the fortune to mix business with pleasure. The pleasure was seeing friends from high school at a get-together that was essentially BYOB. For me, that meant wine shopping. I had to hunt locally in Atlanta, but I’m no longer a local. I  haven’t lived there since the 1980’s, and had no clue where to go. So I opened my phone, tapped, found, & then shopped in the closest wine store that popped up on Google Maps: a store called Total Wine (Atlanta), near Perimeter Mall.

It’s a huge store by NYC standards. For the rest of the country, it’s about the size of a small CostCo, Kmart, or Home Depot. They have a LOT of wine here. There’s copious beer, too, though the sign says “Total Wine” it doesn’t say “Totally Wine”.

I wandered the aisles briefly. Towards the front of the store was a cooler than caught my eye, with lots of tasty delights to tempt the oenophile. First growths, some big name firsts and seconds, the range in the first minute was from $50-$1500/bottle. Color me initially impressed, and I saw a magnum of Far Niente that might be a great party favor.

While I was peering at options, I got the challenge. “Can I help you with something, Sir?” from my six. It was all I could do to say “I’m a sucker for a first growth, load me up and charge it”  but I managed to keep my NY attitude in check, smile, and ask for a suggestion for a white burgundy and a dry riesling, a little test for both the seller and the store. Show me your hand, buddy. Let’s see what you have.

The kid (ok, the employee…I’m showing my age. HEY! YOU KIDS GET OFF MY LAWN!)   was passable, he could walk the walk, and knew enough to be dangerous AND help my New York attitude. Ten minutes later I accepted his third suggestion, after two chablis I passed up. Domaine Patrick Javillier’s  “Les Tillets” Meursault  2012, @$50, 12.5%ABV with delightful subtlety, restraint, snobbery and balance. Oh yes, this will suit my needs, and my friends will reap the benefits!

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I then chose  his second riesling suggestion, Dr.Heidemanns-Bergweiler 2013 Bernkasteler Badstube Riesling Kabinett. @$17, 8.5% ABV (That’s a mouthful, let me tell you!) Semi-dry with apricot and orange peel, it’s a delightful if dense wine and the perfect opener for a party or closer for the “I don’t really drink” crowd.

Heidemanns

I strolled through the aisles of chardonnay and spotted a weakness of mine- DuMOL Chardonnay Need I say more? It shot into my arms. My friends are luckier than they think, this is a wine I can’t even find locally in NYC! Walking through the aisle of pinot, I was sad to see none of the wines I’d fallen in love with over the recent year. No Santa Barbara Pinot? No New Zealand Central Otago Aromatic whites OR pinot noirs? Sad clown face. What I did see was a ton of major producers whose names I knew well. If it was a big winery with wines scoring 85-95 points they had it. If they didn’t sell 10,000 cases it wasn’t in this store.

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Before I left another seller closer to my age saw the bottles tucked in my arms and said “I like your taste in wine”, then offered me a taste of something they had on sale: Courtney Benham Napa Valley Cab 2012. I think it listed for $20, but was on sale for $10. Tasting the dark fruit and wood, it’s a good red party wine I immediately knew would be gone through quickly. I picked up a bottle and headed to the party, where the BYOB became “drink JvB’s” from the serious wine folks. The red wine drinkers, as expected, finished the Benham in record time, while the chardonnay drinkers were able to argue whether they like the old world Les Tillets meursault or the new world (with classic old world approach) DuMOL. Yes, I spoiled them with really good & great wines, and told everyone where I got them- here, at the local wine store.

 

Benham

 

So I had a pretty good experience at Total Wine, and feel that anyone could find something they’d really enjoy in the store.  I was sad that I wasn’t seeing any of the highest quality, small-volume producers that I was specifically seeking from Napa, Alto Adige, Tuscany, Bordeaux, Northern Cali, The Finger Lakes, Washington State, and New Zealand. These are wines that you find when you’re visiting an area, they can blow your mind with their small production, huge quality, made-with-love-for-the-wines-sake bottles. This is what you learn when you drink locally in wine country. And this is why you become a fanatic, a regular wine club member, a champion of the small producer.

But, (and it’s a BIG but)  Atlanta is NOT wine country. So how do you drink “local” in the ATL? “Local wine” in Atlanta means something totally different: not bad, just Different!  I DID find a ton of options, so many of the high-volume wines you see listed in Wine Spectator, it was awesome on that level. I saw more names I recognized from print & region studies than I did from personal tasting experience. And what is in stock is delivered at a fair price, so it’s win-win… or maybe wine-win.

Did I mention that I kept the kabinett, to enjoy privately? Oops. Maybe I didn’t share everything. Hey, they can find it on the shelf  at Total Wine, where “drink local” means something totally different, but might be equally as satisfying.

 

à votre santé!

#MWWC12 

Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #12
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Leitz Rieslings: Mineral Heaven for All!

4 Oct

While I was planning for my neighborhood wine tasting this summer, Eric Asimov’s Wine School pointed to a Riesling I’d been interested in but had yet to pick up and try. The wine proved to be highly popular at my event, and I’ve enjoyed it several times since then. I’ve over due to share it with you!

Johannes Leitz “Dragonstone” Riesling. Rheingau, Germany. $16 street price, 8%ABV.

Yellow-green in color. Fresh wildflowers, honey, and stone fruit on the nose. Green apple, with a hint of citrus on the palate, is followed by a bevy of mineral deposits- including saline, pumice, slate, and limestone. Off-dry, (a touch of sweetness) this is THE perfect entry riesling If you who are just learning about wine or need to get away from French and Italian grapes and appreciate what Germany does perfectly.

 

Johannes Leitz “Eins-Zwei-Dry” Riesling, Rheingau, Germany. $16 street price, 12%ABV. 

The big brother to Dragonstone is drier, bigger, and badder (in a great way)! Eins-Zwei-Dry is a delightfully dry (trocken) riesling for those who want to fall in love with riesling, or if you want to compare some of the great rieslings done elsewhere in the world. Simply stunning balance. This delightful wine is great by itself or accompanying food- it leaves the palate clean, refreshed, and begging for more. 

Serving note: before drinking, I chill these wines -but make sure to either let the bottle warm prior to serving or pour into a glass and allow to warm before drinking. The flavors of these wines are tasty when cold but not fully developed until they are only slightly chilled. As the wine warms, you will sense the creaminess, as well as a greater sense of saline, greater floral and  melon notes- and the ideal balance of the wine becomes obvious.

It’s worth considering that Dragonstone wine is 8% alcohol while Eins-Zwei-Dry is 12% alcohol by volume. If you are concerned with alcohol intake, the difference might be one that helps you out. Both wines are delicious and a great value, easily drinking like they are 1.5-2x their street price. Great wine, killer value.

Here’s a bottle shot when I was comparison tasting, having a sample of the Eins-Zwei-Dry first, then pulling the Dragonstone out of the fridge to compare again. The bottle on the right is at proper temperature to enjoy fully. I had to pour an ounce of Dragonstone in the glass and wait to get the best from both bottles.

 

Leitz Pair

 

Bottom line: if you like riesling, you owe it to yourself to try one or both of these wines and see how they compare to your current favorite. Also, check out the vineyard’s website, which is a delight in itself- perhaps the perfect foil to any traditional winery website, this is an ocular  blast that will tease your eye, mind, and finger as you click on different items, navigating to learn more (and you will!) about Leitz.

à votre santé!

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