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D.V. Catena Tinto Historico Red Blend 2014

8 Aug

D.V. Catena Tinto Historico Red Blend 2014; Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina. 13.7% ABV, Street $16-18/bottle.

 

Color is a thick garnet with ruby edging. The nose offers ripe, bold, black and red fruit with hints of clay and oak. On the palate: black plum and black cherry across the front palate; red ripe raspberry and clove across the side palate; while the bottom of the tongue experiences a heavy dose of blackberries, with notes of forest floor, peppercorn, charcoal, and cacao. Intriguing and exciting, this 92% malbec blend features 8% petite verdot that adds richness to an already lush palate. Big, bold and beautiful, perfect for grilled meats, dark or savory flavors, such as cheeses, salumi, even grilled vegetables. I’m on a summer diet and paired this blend beautifully with pesto, believe it or not! But sipping this tasty wine made me want to put a porterhouse on my grill and invite my neighbors over!

 

I have had good experiences with Bodega Catena Zapata in the past and this wine continues that history, showing as a well-made, balanced wine that is gorgeous on the nose and mouth, dense and complex as a foil for food, providing a rich overall experience. Lush and luxurious-tasting, for an Argentinian wine you can source for under $20, you’d be crazy not to add this to your cellar so pick up a few bottles for your next grill adventure!

 

à votre santé!

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Victor Schoenfeld and Yarden Wines

29 Jun

World-Class Wines, from the Middle East. That may not be the first region that comes to mind, but a few great winemakers are changing that. Victor Schoenfeld, a California native who has been the Yarden head winemaker since 1992,  is credited with being THE single greatest influencer in developing world class wines in Israel, most specifically in the Golan Heights. He’s also a very nice guy, and loves to talk wine. I could have chatted with him for hours and talked terroir and winemaking…but we had wine to taste!

 

Victor Schoenfeld, head winemaker of Yarden Golan Heights Winery

 

And these are some really good wines. World-class, kosher, made-in-Israel, non-mevushal, kick-butt wines.

Don’t believe me? Please, be your own judge and let your mouth tell you. Taste the wines, it’s that easy. I did, and I will tell you, they are worthy wines. I tasted seven wines, and each was impressive in its own way.  Here are my top three that will blow your mind; each of these was so good, I didn’t want to do anything but drink what was in my glass:

 

Yarden Blanc de Blanc 2009, Sparkling Brut Chardonnay, MSRP $30

Light gold in color, with a delicate nose. Beautiful, mature white fruit with gentle effervescence. A delicate sparkling with nice complexity, this wine shows delightful minerality with a hint of toast and no sweetness on the palate. A low-dosage sparkling brut, your mouth will think it is champagne. It was a perfect foil for a raw crudo appetizer.

 

 

Yarden Gewurtztraminer 2016, MSRP $21

Medium straw with a green tinge. Citrus & banana peel on the very floral nose. On the palate, an exotic blend of kiwi, passion fruit, and lychee is matched by a perfect acidity; secondary notes are floral and spice box.  I found this paired so gorgeously with asparagus risotto. I just kept going back and back to it and didn’t want the pairing to end.

 

Yarden Bar’on Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, MSRP $96

Deep, dark, maroon with garnet edging. The nose offers black plum, cassis, aged leather and cigar box. On the palate, mature red fruit along the tongue, with cassis along the sides. A lengthy finish features gravel, granite, and sandy clay. The price on this is worth every penny, comparing well to New and Old world wines in the same price range. This wine was as complex as the lamb I enjoyed with it: flavorful, sensual, evocative, exotic.

 

 

With a few tastes, it’s obvious that Victor Schoenfeld is doing something right, not just great wine (yes!), not just organic (oh, yes, that too!), and not just a few grapes with tremendous terroir. Yarden’s library of wines is varied and includes syrah, malbec, merlot, rosé,  muscat, sauvignon blanc, in addition to these listen just off the top of my head- surely something for every wine drinker.

If you haven’t tried Yarden wines, it’s time for you to taste how the Middle East compares to what you’ve been drinking. You will find yourself impressed, and might be tasting more and more of them. With a full stable of tasty delights, you are bound to find a wine that compares well, and maybe even blows away one of your current favorites.

 

à votre santé!

Wine for December’s Warmth

22 Dec

This December has been unseasonably warm. This has left my palate unsure what to do. I keep pulling out radically different bottles from my cellar and tasting queue.

Domaine Du Bouscat 2012 Caduce by Jean Pierre Dubernard. 13.5% ABV, $10/bottle from Garagiste, online from $12/bottle.

Dark ruby in color, nose of dark fruit, funk, forest floor and barnyard. In the mouth,  cassis and black plum are dominant fruit with strong tannins. Notes of young oak, spice box, sour blackberry, clay and wet stone on the medium long finish. My brother-in-law (the doctor, not the historian) loved it served with a shoulder roast- I have to agree, it paired perfectly and was a terrific value at this price.

 

bouscat modus

Modus Operandi 2012 Petite Verdot, Rocca-Collinetta Vineyard, Napa Valley. Two barrels produced; 14.5% ABV. Direct from Winery; MSRP $75/bottle.

Unusual as a single vineyard as opposed to a blending wine for bordeaux reds. Deep purple in color with a nose of blueberry, iris, violet and pepper. Big, bold, a classic single vineyard approach and distinct petite verdot that immediately stands alone. An Anti-Syrah, perhaps? Tasting notes shifted with time; fruit became quite muted on Day Two with considerable air for a more mature, austere approach. Better impact on Day One.
(I happen to know Jason Moore has a couple of cases left of this beautiful wine, as well as his Vicarious Red , stunning Cabernet Sauvignon, and his beautiful sauv blanc and rosé. (Huge discounts for his club members, the Modus Operandi winemaker undoubtedly creates some of my favorite wines to cellar and enjoy. )

 

Minutolo Fiano Polvanera 2014 White, Gioia Del Colle, Italy; 12%ABV. From Xavier Wines, $19/bottle.

Medium straw in color, a beautifully aromatic nose with pineapple, tangerine, wildflowers and a hint of sulphuric funk. In the mouth, shockingly tasty- I did not want to put down the glass, to write a tasting note let alone eat. Bright fruit notes of banana, followed by almond, bergamot, & chamomile. Ignore the slight note of funky sulphur, this is a brilliant wine that I’d pay $30 for. I have been a fan of  very few Italian whites but this is a titan in my book; I wish I’d purchased a case when the bottles were at hand. Kept beautifully in the fridge for over a week as I rationed this off to myself, one half an ounce at a time.

palvanera

I have to thank James at Xavier Wines for turning me on to this delicious Puglian minutolo. One of the things I love about wine is you may feel like you know what you like to drink, and your friends can introduce you to a delicious bottle that makes you want to learn everything there is to know about  a wine region.

Do you have a similar story to share?

À votre santé!

Kaiken Terroir Series 2011

2 Mar

Kaiken Terroir Series 2011, Mendoza, Argentina. 14.5% ABV, List price $17/bottle, street price as low as $12/bottle.

The color is dark purple with violet edging, while the nose features black fruit and floral notes with a hint of leather. In the mouth, this silky blend of 80% Malbec, 12% Bonarda and 8% Petit Verdot shows medium black plum, cassis and blackberry with matching acidity, and then powerful tannins- this is a meat lovers wine if there ever has been one. There is oak, followed by wet slate, limestone, and black pepper on the smooth and satisfying finish.

IMG_1102

The petit verdot leads in the mouth with gentle strength in the fruit and helps the finish with her tannin, while the bonarda provides suppleness to the mid-palate. Both add depth and density to the mix. By itself, the malbec would be enough for most red wine drinkers, but this blend demonstrates savvy winemaking and a product that will pair better, more easily, and more often.

The Kaiken paired beautifully with lamb meatballs. Did you know that March 9 is National Meatball Day? Now you have a great wine to pair with your meatballs! Need a meatball recipe? Try these! The blend also fares well with strong cheeses and can stand alone but truly shines when tasted in conjunction with a protein.

This wine opens up beautifully, showing best results from decanting/aeration when served at room temperature. At this price, Kaiken Terroir Feries offers great value to the consumer with a flavor profile that screams pricey grilled meats and game for upscale dinners but one that is still capable of chilling with a family meatball fest or burgers for the backyard. While some wine drinkers won’t recognize the grape Bonarda, (aka Douce Noir, a small and gently sweet black grape originally from the Savoie region of France) it doesn’t matter- what’s important is the winemaker knows the value the late-ripening grape offers, and is using it to your benefit in creating a wine with great flexibility and depth that competes with wines at a higher price point, which ultimately doubles your pleasure.

à votre santé!

Wine Upgrades from Underground Cellar

19 Mar

The modern marketplace is full of places where you can buy wine, and pitfalls that accompany them. When something interesting and trustworthy comes along, I want to share it with you!

I ordered from a wine website recently called Underground Cellar. They are not a wine club, but sell specific wines with a unique angle: any and every bottle you buy at one price from a producer enables you to get an upgrade to a significantly more expensive bottle. There’s a little bit of gamble to it, and a little bit of fun. I was intrigued by their site, and like everyone, I like a good bargain. So I took a chance!

I went online, signed up and reviewed the options. I saw an offer for a 90+ point $20 red& white blend with a possible $50 upgrade.  It sounded too good to be true, but the optimist in me won over the New Yorker, so  I signed up and purchased six bottles, selecting ground shipping. Within a week, the wines arrived at my door. I opened the box and found four bottles of Tess Winery’s Red & White Blend and two bottles of Napa Valley 2001 Peju Province, Estate Bottles Cab Sauvignon.

From a price perspective, I did a quick search and saw that one of my local wine merchants sells the Tess for $19.99 (cool) and I saw the Peju online for $66/bottle. Score one for value.  Now, would I like them?

The Tess Proprietary Red Blend 2011 was a new one for me: a red and white grape mix. This  blend actually features Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. I was curious and a tiny bit worried for just a moment, until I poured and tasted. Bright vivid red in the glass, with a nose of fresh cut flowers, berries and herbs. On the palate, a burst of raspberry, strawberry, and a hint of melon. This could be an ideal summer red, with far more body than a rosé wine yet with the whimsy of a great pinot or sauv blanc. After tasting the wine, I tried it with fish (great pairing) chicken (great pairing) red meat (good pairing) and veggies (great pairing) and was surprised that I haven’t seen this kind of wine before. Well, I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more from the winemaker Sarah Fowler and proprietors Ariana and Lisa Peju. With good depth for a younger wine, lots of notes with more than a dash of whimsy, you’ll drink this with friends and enjoy it time after time. Tess Winery joins the ranks of small California winemakers (organic certified, to note) to keep an eye on!

Tess

I waited until I had a red meat pairing on the menu at home to open the Peju Province 2001 Estate Cabernet. The color is a deep maroon with fading edges, while the nose showed cassis, dried rose petals, leather, earth, and oak. The age on this is apparent, and the first taste was an inspiration of classic Bordeaux. This teenager is mature, established, and a force to be reckoned with. Decanting half the bottle and letting it breathe for 30 minutes was a smart move. Another taste confirmed the first but time had allowed a huge amount of growth that might have required hours in the glass:  excellent depth, complexity, showing relaxed floral notes, older fruit (cassis, red currants, cranberry) and mellowed tannins. Very nice winemaking, a pleasure to taste, and a huge bargain at $20 for the bottle. I furiously made cellar notes for the remaining bottles and plan to open them with friends at a beach party this summer.

Peju

I was happy to have met Tess and Peju wines for the first time, and tried the Underground Cellar. It was an exciting gamble, and one that paid off nicely. With a little research, you can get both stunning bargains, high quality, and good service. You know I’ll be going back for more.

As a parting note, I haven’t even mentioned Underground Cellar’s Influence Points, Referral Program, or free wine storage- until now. More reasons to check them out, just in case you needed them.

à votre santé!

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