Monday, September 24, 2018

Vincent Vineyards Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc (2012) Wine Review

In my most recent outing to CA wine country, this time the Santa Ynez Valley – Los Olivos District, I enjoyed a vertical tasting at Vincent Vineyards.  It had been several years since I tasted in this area and Vincent Vineyards opened in the interim.  A vertical tasting is a tasting of several wines - in this case 5 - that are all the same varietal by the same producer. The only thing that differs among them is the vintage (year). In the case of this tasting, all were different vintages of their Sauvignon Blanc.  Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite varietals so I chose this vertical tasting from their tasting menu options.
What I enjoyed on the lovely 75° day, was that you could experience your tasting in their spacious tasting room with plenty of natural light or enjoy your tasting on their expansive patio. We opted for the patio tasting. We chose a table on the patio and shortly after being seated were greeted by the owner, Tony Vincent. As we started to visit, his passion for his vineyard, winery, and wines made our experience most memorable. He showed us the barrel room where they also host private events.  One wall of the room had a gigantic mural of him with the Rat Pack.  I found Tony (Anthony Vincent Zehenni) most intriguing.  Mostly that at 83 and after being successful in many different ventures, he was so passionate and determined about this, his latest.

 I had previously noticed the background music in the tasting room and patio and the music (reminiscent of the Rat Pack era) was perfect for relaxation and/or conversation. The mural, though not so subtle, is classic and classy – as is this tasting room and event space.
After our tour, we made our way back to the patio where they set a placemat in front of us, placing each of the 5 tastings on the corresponding vintage printed on the placemat.  Along with the vintage on the placemat were descriptors to assist you in your tasting.
The vintages we were tasting were 2010-2014. After tasting, I chose 2 different bottles to bring home, the 2012 Vincent Vineyards Family Reserve and the 2014 Olive Branch. 

The 2012 was my favorite the day of the tasting and continues to be. I find myself wondering how aging has affected this wine. Sauvignon Blanc is genuinely consumed younger; and this one would be about 6 years old. It was a light golden color in the glass, and on the nose it possessed tropical fruit notes with hints of stone fruit. On the palate, a pleasant minerality and nice body - perhaps the result of aging on lees and time. The finish was crisp and well balanced.
The 2014 Olive Branch is a much “lighter” representation of the varietal. The color struck me as being sort of a pale celery color. The nose, beyond subtle minerality, was almost non-existent. The wine didn’t offer anything more on the palate and was lacking in fruit and body, almost seeming “watered down”.  I think this was attractive to me when we were tasting at the winery as it was almost a palate cleanser.  Unfortunately, once home it was disappointing and would get lost in most any food pairing. 
I look forward to visiting Vincent Vineyards again. I loved the ambiance and look forward to trying more of their wines.   We enjoyed the 2012 Family Reserve on an appetizer night with Crab Rangoon. Try it  also with Lobster Risotto.  Click the links below to print or save the recipes.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Hatch Green Chile Wine Review

It’s almost Hatch season… almost.  Perhaps it’s the anxiety of knowing I have just enough Hatch green chiles in my freezer for one more batch of enchiladas that caused the moment of weakness – the impulse to buy a “novelty” wine, this week’s Wine Wednesday feature, the non-vintage Hatch Green Chile Wine.
Though familiar with Hatch chiles, it wasn’t until moving to the Southwest and experiencing them fresh by the burlap sackful, that I fell in love.  Each season I buy what I think will be enough to freeze and hold me till the next season only to find that it’s never enough. The flavor of these chiles is so distinct - sort of like Vidalia onions.  Though the same onion is grown elsewhere, they only taste like Vidalias if grown in Vidalia, GA.  In this case, there is nothing like the peppers grown in New Mexico's Hatch Valley.
I refer to this wine as a novelty wine because it’s geared more toward the appreciator of Hatch chiles than the wine connoisseur. I’m not sure what this says about me, but I couldn’t resist.
First off, note that this wine isn’t made from chiles.  It is a grape wine with chiles added. Grape wines are often described as having notes/aromas of other fruits, vegetables, berries and spices etc., but those notes are the result of the varietal, soil, climate, wine making process and how it’s aged. Therefore, it tends to be a more nuanced experience. In the case of this wine, it’s one note, and it’s blatant.
I’ve not been able to find the varietals used in this wine, though I'm confident Riesling is a significant part of the blend.  The winemaker's (St. Clair Winery) fact sheet  just states that it is a “proprietary blend”.  The chiles are cold soaked in white wine and as a result the wine is infused with the flavor of fresh Hatch green chiles.
I found this to be about the palest wine I’ve ever seen – barely a hint of color in the glass. I was thrilled as I took in the unabashed, unmistakable scent of fresh Hatch green chiles. This is a semi-sweet wine with a round mouth feel and a clean peppery finish.  The pepper on the palate was not as bold as the scent on the nose, but it’s prominent and expected.
For an infused wine, I feel this is very well done.  For my personal taste, though I understand the approach, I wish it was just a little less sweet.
Pair with Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas (why not layer flavors?), or Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  Click the links below to print or save the recipes. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Gérard Bertrand Cotè des Roses (2016) Wine Review

Attention Costco shoppers! Recently my husband and I decided to get a Costco membership.  The decision actually had nothing to do with wine, but this week it relates. The Costco experience - though I’m sure savings abound with each supersized item - isn’t really my cup of tea. As a result, my husband tends to make the Costco run on his day off.  It normally consists of a great deal on bottled water and whatever other irresistible deals he might come across.  Thankfully, he’s quite disciplined. 

This last week, he checked out the wine department. He found that they carry my “house white” (If you’ve been following this blog, you know what that is) at a great price so he bought several bottles.  I had given him suggestions for wines to purchase, but they weren’t based on him shopping at Costco.  Anyway, I’d suggested he surprise me with a new rosé, and so he did.  It was there that he found this week's Wine Wednesday feature, the 2016 Gérard Bertrand Cotè des Roses.
The winemaker’s website suggests that this is a bottle of wine you would give in the same way as a bunch of roses. If we’re talking about a plastic wrapped bouquet of supermarket roses, perhaps I agree. I’m not dogging supermarket roses, I’ve been gifted them, and appreciate them.  What I am referring to, is the price point.  At about $13 a bottle (around $17 elsewhere), it may be an even better choice.

First off, one has to mention the bottle – the presentation is stunning. Tip the bottle upside down and notice the base is in the shape of a rose.  The pale pink glass cork-stopper is beautiful and reseals fabulously. It’s a bottle that makes you consider repurposing.

The wine, a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah is the color of farm-raised salmon. On the nose, stone fruit, papaya, floral notes and a hint of ripe ruby red grapefruit. Though the prevalent fruit on the palate isn’t sweet enough for this wine to be considered off-dry, it has inclinations.   The finish, though a bit lackluster, still makes for a great summer sipper.  When you don’t want anything too assertive to distract from your afternoon read on the patio, which is how I enjoyed my first glass, this is the one.

Later we enjoyed it with a dinner of Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos.  I decided to forego the tempura batter and simply grill the fish by brushing it with olive oil and lightly seasoning with sea salt and pepper. It was a pairing well worth repeating. Try also with a Boiled Shrimp Cocktail. Click the links below to print or save the recipe pairing suggestions.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

H&M Hofer Bio Grüner Veltliner (2015) Wine Review

Is that a bottle opener on the end of your cork screw? Why would you need that? Some of your friends are beer drinkers – gasp! Perhaps that's why, or perhaps you need a bottle opener to open your wine. 

Seeing the closure on this week’s Wine Wednesday feature, the 2015 H&M Hofer Bio Grüner Veltliner, caused me to add it to my cart.  It’s the first time I’ve seen a wine that you needed a bottle opener to open. I found this at Whole Foods (It’s made with organic grapes) and I couldn’t resist.

To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes. It’s like the first time I saw a bottle of wine with a screw cap, could it be any good?

Well, yes it can be.  I loved it. It’s one of the best Grüner Veltliners I have ever had.  Notes of pear, honey, and orange blossom on the nose presented slightly sweet with big fruit and white pepper on the palate.  It was lively on the tongue, evidence of stainless steel fermentation, and it delighted with a long finish.  It was a perfectly balanced wine, which makes it extremely versatile.

So, do you have to finish it all in one setting? No, not unless you want to. Though you can’t put the bottle cap back on, one of my wine stoppers seals it nicely.  I wrote this blog post last night while sipping on a glass, and have plans to enjoy it with Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia for dinner tonight.  Next time, I’ll plan ahead, and serve it with Wiener Schnitzel Hamburg Style, Lyonnaise Potatoes and Lettuce Salad with Hot Bacon Vinaigrette, and relive some fond food memories of days spent in Austria. Click the links below to print or save the recipe pairing suggestions.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Ernie Els Big Easy Red (2014) Wine Review

On Saturday night, our neighborhood wine club held its monthly gathering where each couple brings a bottle of wine and an appetizer.  This month’s theme was South African wines. I went to AJ’s Fine Foods, the best hope for something other than the limited mass production options at the local big box stores. (This is where I’m tempted to go off on a rant about the lack of wine shops in areas, especially here in AZ, where wine can be purchased in grocery stores and then big box stores, eliminating boutique wine shops with interesting finds, but I digress.) 
I was fortunate to find a bottle of Protea Chenin Blanc which I’ve reviewed in the past, and also this week’s Wine Wednesday feature, the 2014 Ernie Els Big Easy Red.  I chose to take the Chenin Blanc to the event because I was familiar with it, but also because it paired well with the Cucumber Salmon Canapés I brought as an appetizer. 
I decided to open the Big Easy Red on Sunday and as I suspected, it paired perfectly with the Grilled Lamb Chops I had planned for dinner.
Big Easy as the label states, is “big in stature, gentle in character”.  A blend of 61% Shiraz, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Mourvedre, 5% Grenache, 4% Viognier, and 4% Cinsaut. On the nose, notes of black raspberry, ripe cherry, and baking spice. On the palate, slightly herbal, with ample fruit and noteworthy pepper on the finish. This dry wine features moderate to slightly assertive tannins.
As I mentioned, we enjoyed this with Grilled Lamb Chops, try also with Braised Beef Tips and Mushrooms. Click the links below to print or save the recipe pairing suggestions.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

2016 Granbazán Albarino Etiqueta Verde Wine Review

It’s white wine season! Well it is in Phoenix anyway.  Though the temperatures this time of year are the very reason I moved to the Valley of the Sun, this year has been exceptional with highs hovering around 80° F every day for the last week, and forecast for the coming week as well.   So, you aren’t reading this to get a weather report? Sorry, I can’t help myself.
This week’s Wine Wednesday feature the 2016 Granbazán Albarino Etiqueta Verde is the perfect wine for warm sunny days.  From the Rias Baixas region of Spain, this Albarino (pronounced Al-boh- REEN- Yoh) is a great representation of the indigenous varietal. Etiqueta Verde translates as “green label”, denoting the entry-level offering from Granbazán.
On the nose, honeydew, kiwi, and grassy notes. It’s wonderfully zippy and refreshing on the tongue with herbal and citrus notes on the palate. The finish is crisp and citrusy, with a bit of salinity lingering.  The Rias Baixas is a coastal sub-region of the Galicia region in Northwestern Spain, and the cool, damp sea air contributes to this delicious wine. If you like Vermentino; try this Albarino. We enjoyed this with Lobster Risotto (used it in the recipe too). Try also with Steamed Mussels. Click the links below to print or save the recipe pairing suggestions.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache (2014) Wine Review

When you find a wine that you like, do you tend to try other offerings by the same brand?  Well, I do, and in the case of Yalumba, the winery behind this week’s Wine Wednesday feature, the 2014 Old Bush Vine Grenache, I’m finding them to be a trusted name for quality wine at an affordable price. I’ve reviewed 3 other wines by Yalumba (reviews are archived under varietal categories on this blog) and each wine is distinctly different.

I’ll go one step further, when you find a brand that you like, do you ever plan to visit the winery?  Well, I do that too. Yalumba is a family-owned winery spanning 5 generations and over 167 years. They are one of four wineries around the world with their own cooperage -  making their own barrels. When I visit Australia, I want to make the Barossa region and a visit to Yalumba part of my trip.
The grapes for this wine are sourced from low-yielding vines planted between 1898 and 1973.This old bush vine Grenache is extremely versatile for food pairing, and in my opinion, a great choice if you’re having a party - a red wine that could please the masses. If you like Beaujolais, try this wine.

In the glass, it’s a lovely ruby color. The nose features raspberry, cassis and violet notes.  On the palate, raspberry and cherry with prominent spice and pepper on the finish. It’s a wonderful medium-bodied wine and the subtle use of French oak keeps this dry wine very food friendly. We enjoyed it with Bistro Burgers (put some in the burgers too).  Try also with Maple Chipotle Glazed Cedar Plank Salmon.  Click the links below to print or save the recipe pairing suggestions.