Monday, May 31, 2021

Primitivo Di Manduria - Part Four

Manduria is a town in the region of Apulia - Puglia - the heel of Italy's "boot."  The warm climate brings the best out of the Primitivo grape, known in the province of Taranto as Primitivo di Manduria.  In the U.S., particularly California, the grape grows under the name of Zinfandel.  In Manduria, they like to think of the Puglia Primitivos as a pyramid, with the Primitivo di Manduria DOC at the top.

Antica Masseria Jorche Primitivo di Manduria Riserva 2016

The Antica Masseria Jorche - ancient, fortified farm, dating back to the 17th century - came into the hands of Antonio and Mariella Gianfreda in 1990.  They restored - in some places, rebuilt - the abandoned structures and created a winery, restaurant, hotel and apartments.  Emanuela Gianfreda is the winemaker, and she and her sister Dalila spoke during the virtual tasting event staged by international wine guide Gambero Rosso.  They are the fifth generation of the winemaking family.

Jorche's 2016 Riserva Primitivo Di Manduria is made from Salento vines which average about 40 years old.  The aging process took 12 months, in barriques and capasuni - amphoras popular in Puglia.  The wine's alcohol level is a lofty 16% abv and the retail price is around $30.

This dark wine has a fruity nose of blackberry and plum, but there are some more savory notes as well.  Black pepper, cigar box and black olive also come through.  On the palate, licorice and plums are in the forefront of one of the fruitier flavor profiles I have tasted in Apulian Primitivos.  The 16% alcohol is not as overpowering as I imagined it would be.  The tannins are fairly forceful and the acidity is refreshing.  This wine drinks really well and will pair nicely with a marbled rib eye steak.

Cantolio Primitivo di Manduria Tema Riserva

The Cantolio collective was founded in the early 1960s and now includes more than 700 growers.  Company President Francesco Della Grottaglie is quite proud of his corner of Salento, and winemaker Salvatore Dell'Aquila loves the grapes with which he gets to work.

In the coastal area, the vines grow in sand and rock outcroppings, benefiting from their proximity to the Ionian Sea.  Inland, the soil is either red - loaded with potassium and iron - or black with humus and clay.

Tema Riserva is a Primitivo Di Manduria DOP wine which the winery says represents the marriage of the mother land and the father sea.  It was aged in both steel tanks and French oak barrels.  Alcohol is up there at 15% abv, common for the wine's of Manduria.  The retail price is about $30.

This wine has a medium-dark tint and a complex nose.  Earthiness is the overriding feel from the aroma package.  There is plum, blackberry and raspberry in there, all colored by savory minerals, tobacco, tar, leather and sweet oak spice.  The palate shows black cherry, cassis, licorice and a beautiful oak effect.  The tannins are firm without getting in the way, and pairing the wine with a meaty pasta dish springs to mind first.  The finish is of medium length and reminds me of sweet fruit, odd perhaps, for a wine that brought the savory so early.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Blood Of The Vines - Express Delivery

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week, we take the express train, with three stops along the way for a quick drink.

The 1994 Hong Kong crime/dramedy/romance Chungking Express has so many genres attached to it, you can probably find it under just about any heading on the Criterion Channel.  "People who watched Chungking Express also liked In the Mood for Love, In the Mood for Laughs, In the Mood for Crime," etc.  It was written and directed by Wong Kar-wai during a break in editing another movie.  Dude has a serious work ethic.  

Wong grew up in 1960s Hong Kong, when the 17-story Chungking Mansions building was still fairly new.  The "Express" part of the title takes a bow towards the Midnight Express food stand in Central Hong Kong.

Two stories make up the movie, both about a cop who is broken up over a breakup with a woman.  The dual tales share one element, a snack bar.  A can of pineapple provides a love connection, while a dishtowel plays the role of a sympathetic ear.  It sure sounds like fun.  However, it could be, as Toomgis might say in the AM/PM commercials, "too much good stuff."

You could try trekking over to L.A.'s Chinatown and amble around Chung King Road in search of a wine pairing for Chungking Express.  However, I hear that weird little wine shop is no longer open there, so you are more likely to stumble into an art gallery.  Hong Kong isn't exactly well-suited to wineries, but the people there sure love their Bordeaux, and the richer it is, the better they like it.  Pair this film with a Chateau Margaux, if you happen to have a handful of Benjamins that aren’t doing anything.

1972's Horror Express was directed by Spanish low-budget master Eugenio Martin.  It's a blend of sci-fi and horror with a red-eyed monster that roams the Trans-Siberian Express, looking for more victims.  The train is sort of like the Orient Express, except it's not so tough to figure out who dunnit.  The film stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, an early signal that the ride will not be a smooth one.

After blowing the wine wad on Chungking Express, you'll want to find a bargain, and fast.  Look to Spain's low-budget master, Borsao, for an awesome Garnacha that costs less than ten bucks.  I discovered it several years ago, when it only cost five dollars.  I said back then that it would be a bargain at twice the price, and lo and behold, it is.

The Silk Express is a 1933 effort, one of 73 movies directed by Ray Enright.  A train load of silk has to make it from Seattle to New York to bust up a gangster's death grip on the market.  Among those on the train: a silk importer, a detective, an insurance man, a lawyer, a hobo, a paralyzed professor and his daughter.  With a cast like that, we could work up alternative lyrics to the Gilligan's Island theme song.  When folks start turning up dead, the prof starts blinking his eyes.  Wouldn’t you know it - the one guy with all the clues can't communicate.  That's just dumb luck.

Ménage á Trois makes a wine called Silk, so here we go.  It's another bargain-bin wine, too, at less than $15.  The blend looks a little weird - Pinot Noir, Malbec and Petite Sirah - but they promise it's soft and seductive.  And a bit on the sweet side, too, I'll bet.

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Thursday, May 27, 2021

Best California Counties For Wine?

Let's go to the second-best county in California for wine country!  Stanislaus County, here we come!

What?  Never heard of the place?  Well it's right up there with Napa County (#1) and Sonoma County (#3) according to a recently released compilation.  San Joaquin and Yolo counties round out the top five.  Lodi is in San Joaquin County, so I can understand a fairly high ranking in that case.  However, Yolo County, just west of Sacramento, has only a handful of wineries.  Stanislaus County's claim to wine fame is Modesto, which you may recognize as home to corporate wineries like Gallo and Bronco.  Modesto should be thought of as lettuce country, not wine country.

The counties were weighted based on different metrics, and having a large city within the borders actually punished them.  The compilers say that's why you don’t see San Diego County until #16 and Santa Barbara County until #18.  

Now, when you are traveling around the huge expanse of Santa Barbara County, most of it is so rural you may not even realize there is a big city nearby.  The wines produced there rival anything Napa and Sonoma have to offer.  And, in my humble opinion, they are even better than the wines of Stanislaus County.  Plus, the countryside is gorgeous.  #18?  C'mon.

When I was writing news for the radio, I was inundated daily with "top ten" lists generated by a personal finance website.  No matter that personal finance has little to do with the Top Ten Beaches In America, the lists were intended solely to attract clicks on the site.  This California Wine County list seems to work the same way.  It was published by Lawn Starter, a website which aims to help people get their grass cut.  The connection to wine country is just as feeble as those of the personal finance website.

In case you are interested, here are LawnStarter's Top Ten Wine Counties in California:

1. Napa County

2. Stanislaus County

3. Sonoma County

4. San Joaquin County

5. Yolo County

6. Solano County

7. San Luis Obispo County

8. Alameda County

9. Sacramento County

10. Marin County

Happy travels this summer.  Wherever your love of wine takes you, I hope you enjoy it to the fullest.  Even if it's Stanislaus County.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

New Help For Women Seeking Careers In Wine, Spirits

Women who are trying to break into the wine and spirits industry now have some new help - a collaborative scholarship opportunity from Dream Big Darling and the Millinger Group.  Rona Millinger says five "FLOurish Scholarships" will be awarded, with each recipient gaining full-ride access to FLOurish, a new professional development program that includes personalized coaching and personality assessments by Millinger herself.

Dream Big Darling is a nonprofit dedicated to fostering the success of women in the wine and spirits industry through mentorship, education, life enhancement and professional retreats.  Founder Amanda Wittstrom-Higgins says she is excited to "provide FLOurish to the next generation of leaders in our industry."  She adds that the value of each scholarship is $3,000.  

Prospective FLOurish scholarship applicants may now apply online at at no cost.  The deadline for application is June 11, 2021.

Millinger developed the FLOurish program in honor of her professional mentor, Florence Pramberger, a former human resources leader and cancer victim.  "I want to continue to give what she can no longer," says Millinger.  "Mentorship, coaching, development and guidance to women who are looking to grow, contribute, progress, and advance in work and life."

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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Primitivo Di Manduria - Part Three

Manduria is a town in the region of Apulia - Puglia - the heel of Italy's "boot."  The warm climate brings the best out of the Primitivo grape, known in the province of Taranto as Primitivo di Manduria.  In the U.S., particularly California, the grape grows under the name of Zinfandel.  In Manduria, they like to think of the Puglia Primitivos as a pyramid, with the Primitivo di Manduria DOC at the top.

Cantine Lizzano Primitivo di Manduria Manonera 2017

The Lizzano winery was formed in 1959, when Luigi Ruggieri brought a group of a hundred or so local winemakers together as a collective.  They are now more than 400 strong.  The winery boasts that their red earth is "kissed by the sun and caressed by winds that taste of the sea."

During a recent virtual tasting event, Luca Circelli spoke for the cooperative.  He pointed out that the wine's name, Manonera - black hand - signifies that the grapes are harvested through manual labor, not machinery.  He says the Primitivo di Manduria DOP wine is a little bit jammy, a little bit spicy.  Aging took place over six months in new French oak barrels and another six in the somewhat larger tonnaux.  Alcohol comes in at 15.5% abv and the wine retails for about $48.  The bottle, by the way, is very heavy.  More on that later.

This wine is medium dark in its ruby color and has a nose featuring black cherry, raspberry, vanilla and some baking spices.  The palate is bursting with fruit flavor - jammy cherry, currant, blackberry - and a hint of anise.  The tannins are firm but not too firm and the wine's acidity offers a refreshing feel in the mouth.  The lengthy finish brings a little savory play into the mix, with a note of coffee and licorice.

Claudio Quarta Vignaiolo Primitivo di Manduria Oro di Eméra

Owner Alessandra Quarta spoke at the recent online tasting session of how her dad, Claudio, left his career in biotech to be a winemaker.  They now work in the vineyards and the cellar as a team at their wineries in Puglia and Campania.  She says the winery is run in as sustainable a manner as possible, less than a mile from the beautiful Ionian Coast.  The land was once covered in water and it now shows the result of that sea influence in the soil.  

She also said that they are not yet distributed in the U.S., and she would appreciate it if customers would ask for her wine where they shop.  The topic of the sometimes extremely heavy bottles from Manduria was broached, but she didn't have a very conclusive answer.

The Primitivo di Manduria Oro di Eméra 2017 comes from the Eméra Estate in the Primitivo lands of Marina di Lizzano, in the province of Taranto.  The name was derived from Hemera, the Greek goddess of the day, because of the way the sun hits the calcium-rich soil.  Other wines come from Moros Winery in the Negroamaro lands of Guagnano and Sanpaolo Winery in the Irpinia del Vino.  The wine was aged at least a year in small oak barrels.  Alcohol is listed as 15% abv and the retail price is around $25.

This wine is dark, and carries a deep purple color in the glass.  The nose has plum and blackberry fruit, but they are hiding behind a more savory curtain of aromas: pepper, violets, leather and a box of cigars. The palate shows youthful black fruit and a double handful of tannins.  Give the wine some time to relax after opening.  

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Monday, May 24, 2021

Primitivo Di Manduria - Part Two

Manduria is a town in the region of Apulia - Puglia - the heel of Italy's "boot."  The warm climate brings the best out of the Primitivo grape, known in the province of Taranto as Primitivo di Manduria.  In the U.S., particularly California, the grape grows under the name of Zinfandel.  In Manduria, they like to think of the Puglia Primitivos as a pyramid, with the Primitivo di Manduria DOC at the top.

PaoloLeo Primitivo di Manduria Passo del Cardinale 2018

Paolo Leo's family is five generations deep into winemaking, with a sixth being groomed to step into their father's shoes.  Young winemaker Nicola Leo believes that he brings out the best of what the vineyards offer each vintage.  His comments are dotted with phrases like, "respect for nature" and "passion for noble work."

Primitivo vines, when properly pruned, will grow a secondary bunch of grapes which are taken in a "second harvest" nearly a month after the first collection.  These grapes from both harvests were fermented in steel tanks, then the wine was aged, three months in oak barriques and six months in steel.   Alcohol sits at 14% abv and the wine usually sells for $20 or less.

It is a medium dark wine with a savory nose, showing violets, licorice, forest floor and a touch of cardamom.  The palate is spicy, with black pepper and herbs joining the black berry profile.  The tannins are quite firm and the acidity is fresh.  It is a youthful wine which will pair nicely with a pork roast.

Agricola Pliniana Primitivo di Manduria Juvenis

Agricola Pliniana is a collective of grape growers, farmers who provide the Primitivo di Manduria grapes that went into Juvenis.  A winery rep said on a recent virtual tasting that it is the oak treatment sets them apart.  The alcohol content is 14% abv and the retail price is around $11, a very nice value.

This wine is medium-dark with a ruby hue.  The nose is subtle, but shows off blackberry and raspberry aromas along with notes of black olive, cigars and spices.  The palate is nice and fruity with a minty essence to go with the oak effect.  Acidity is fresh, even youthful, and the tannins are medium firm.  I liked it with my rib eye steak, but it also sat well with crackers and cheddar/pimento cheese.  

Friday, May 21, 2021

Blood Of The Vines - Charles Band Plays On

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week, we celebrate producer/director Charles Band.

Charles Band started making movies in the 1970s and has created a number of films through the decades, many of them in the horror/comedy vein.  He followed in his father's footsteps as a film producer and director.  The arts seem to play a big role in his family: his brother is a composer, a son is a rock singer, even grandpa was an artist.  This week's selections are a trio of Band's early works.

Last Foxtrot in Burbank was Band's directorial debut in 1973.  The movie pokes fun at Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris, a movie which seemingly was created to have fun poked at it.  The ads of the day promised that Foxtrot would have you possessed with laughter by sex devils, which doesn't sound all that bad.  Personally, I would prefer to be possessed by either laughter or sex devils, but that's because I am not a good multitasker.  Band went under an alias for this X-rated film.  Carlo Bokino didn't stick.  However, he used several other AKAs throughout his career - something I have also done a few times and was usually glad I did.

For a wine pairing with Last Foxtrot in Burbank, dance over to Foxtrot Vineyards in British Columbia.  They specialize in Okanagen Valley Pinot Noir but they also make a Chardonnay, if your sex devils prefer a white wine.

1977's Crash! starred Jose Ferrer and Sue Lyon as a husband and wife who try to kill each other.  Helping the matter along is an objet d'occult which causes a car to crash over and over again.  At some point, you have to wonder if taking the bus ever came to mind.  The movie was reportedly called The Transfusion before getting the shorter name.  Perhaps Crash! left a little more to the imagination while offering the opportunity to use the all-important exclamation point.

There is a Spanish Tempranillo/Shiraz/Grenache blend called, appropriately enough, CRASH.  It has no urgent punctuation, but the name in all caps looks like shouting.  The cartoonish label art looks as if it might have been lifted directly from the Batman TV show.

1976's Mansion of the Doomed was produced by Band and directed by Michael Pataki, who also starred in Last Foxtrot.  There are a host of aliases for this film - The Terror of Dr. Chaney, Massacre Mansion, Eyes, Eyes of Dr. Chaney and House of BloodRichard Basehart played a mad doctor who harvested eyes for his blind daughter.  He wasn't a stickler for paperwork, so there were no organ donor documents.  In fact, the organ donors never knew that's what they were until their eyeballs were plucked from their skulls.  Some of the title changes may have resulted from a scrape in the U.K. when lawmakers tried to clamp down on gratuitous gore in videos.  Gratuitous?  "You’ll never pin that rap on me, bobby!"

Is vodka eyeballing really a thing?  Supposedly, people pour vodka into their eye sockets in hopes of getting a quick buzz.  Only, it doesn't work and will likely ruin your eyes, making them of no use at all to Dr. Chaney.  File under "Tide Pod Idiots."

Eagle Eye Wine is a Napa Valley outfit which produces expensive, small-lot Cabs and Petit Verdot.  To get a little more on topic, let's look into Spain's Evil Eye wine.  It is a blend of Garnacha and Tempranillo grapes which promise to give you a quality mal de ojo.  Dave Phinney's Locations line also has an E series - E is for España.  In this case, E could be for eyeball.

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Thursday, May 20, 2021

Primitivo di Manduria - Part One

Manduria is a town in the region of Apulia - or, Puglia - the heel of Italy's "boot."  The warm climate brings the best out of the Primitivo grape, known in the province of Taranto as Primitivo di Manduria.  In the U.S., particularly California, the grape grows under the name of Zinfandel.  In Manduria, they like to think of the Puglia Primitivos as a pyramid, with the Primitivo di Manduria DOC at the top.

Terracalò Primitivo di Manduria 816  2019

The Terracalò 816 wine was made from Primitivo di Manduria grapes which were left drying on the vine for a short time before being harvested.  Once vinified, the wine was aged in a combination of French oak barriques and stainless steel tanks.  The wine then aged further in the bottle for five months.  

Owner Alberto Calò spoke on a recent Zoom visit for wine writers, and he called 816 rustic and powerful.  I doubt that I can improve on that description, but I will try.  I didn't catch any explanation for why the bottle seemed to weigh 816 pounds.  It was still heavy when empty.  Alcohol chimes in at 15.5% abv and it retails for about $30.

This wine is medium-dark in the glass and initially smells like eucalyptus.  There is also some black currant and black pepper in the mix, but the smoky/minty aspect of the nose is inescapable.  The palate is dark and delicious - blackberry and licorice flavors join with elements which are more earthy than spicy.  There is a sweetness that comes through as well - there's a lot going on here.  The tannins are firm enough for a meat sauce dish and the finish is lengthy.  

Masseria Cicella Primitivo di Manduria Pepe Nero

A masseria, on Italy's Apulian peninsula, is a fortified farmhouse.  The style dates back to the 16th century, when there was a need for an estate to have a fortress to protect its inhabitants.  Nowadays, a masseria is more likely to be luxury accommodations… or a winery.

Cicella Owners Michele and Cosimo Schifone are continuing a family tradition in the vineyards.  Michela spoke to the viewers on the virtual tour.  

The 2018 Pepe Nero was named for the "Pepe" district in the area.  The wine sees some stainless steel aging, plus some time in the bottle - no oak aging was reported.  It is classified as a Primitivo di Manduria DOP wine.  Alcohol sits at a lofty 16% abv and it sells in the $20 range.

This is a dark wine, in color, aroma and taste.  The nose is extremely savory, with tar paving the way for anise, blackberry and currant.  The freshness is amazing, with a lively acidity and firm tannins.  Pair it with game if you've got it, Bolognese if you don't.  It's actually so good you may not even think to have food with it. 

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Friuli's Eastern Hills Make A Beautiful White Wine


The La Roncaia website waxes extremely poetic about Italy's Friuli Colli Orientali DOC zone.  The hills and green terraces, the verdant woods, the glittering sea on the far horizon - I'm sold.  An Italian vacation it is.

The Fantinel family has been making wine in this beautiful region - the eastern hills - for three generations, and they are not showing any signs of slowing down.  As in the rest of the general area of northeastern Italy, the soil's minerality is the key to making a great white wine.

La Roncaia's 2018 Eclisse is a blend of Sauvignon and Picolit grapes grown in the rolling hills between Tarcento and Attimis.  Picolit is usually vinified as a sweet dessert wine, and it enjoyed much popularity in the 18th century among royalties across Europe.  This wine is a Bianco IGT Venezia Giulia bottling.  The grape varieties were vinified separately in a mixture of steel tanks and French oak barrels.  Alcohol hits a reasonable 13.5% abv and it retails for around $20.

The gold-tinted wine has some frizzante - fine, tiny bubbles clinging to the glass.  The nose offers lemon, lime, apricot and a very earthy salinity.  The palate is as mineral-driven as they come - lots of wet stone and citrus at play here, along with a nice bit of acidity.  The savory aspect of this wine simply knocks me out.  Pair with shellfish, or just with crackers and a sharp cheddar.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Collio Wines Bring The Minerals

The Italian wine region known as Collio is located in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region of Italy's northeast corner, between the Giulian Alps and the Adriatic Sea.  It offers its winemakers a mild microclimate and soil - called ponca - which is a remnant of a time when the ocean covered the land, consisting of marl and sandstone, with marine fossils abundant.  The land gives Collio wines their striking minerality.

Toros Pinot Bianco Collio 2019

Franco Toros is known for his wines which accentuate the minerality of Friuli, and especially Collio.  The 100% Pinot Bianco grapes were grown in the hillside vineyards and fermented in steel tanks, where the wine also aged.  Alcohol rings in at 14% abv and the wine sells for around $19.

The Toros Pinot Bianco Collia 2019 has a nice golden color in the glass. I get a muted nose with apricot aromas foremost and citrus minerals chasing. The palate shows stone fruit and minerals galore. Acidity is nice and fresh, even zippy.  The finish is medium long and carries the minerals back for a revisit. 

Borgo Conventi Pinot Grigio Collio 2019

The winery Borgo Conventi says its name comes from the legend concerning the commune of Farra d'Isonzo.  So the story goes, Count Strassoldo - il Rizzardo to the locals - donated a piece of land to Dominican friars who then built the first monastery in the area.

The Conventi Pinot Grigio Collio 2019 was fermented and aged in steel tanks, enhancing the minerality and freshness.  The alcohol number is 13.5% abv and the wine sells for around $20.

The yellow-tinted wine smells floral and tropical, with white flowers, apricot and mango coming through on the nose.  There is also a bit of citrus minerality, like a sidewalk after a rain.  The palate shows the stone fruit and tropical aspect, with a hefty slice of acidity to go along with it.  So fresh and racy is it that one can feel free to pair this Pinot Grigio with seafood rather than restrict it to salads. 

Ronco Blanchis Collio Friulano 2019

Ronco Blanchis is in the process of converting to organic farming, which they say will be complete sometime in 2021.  The operation is headed up by Giancarlo Palla and his sons Lorenzo and Alberto.  Winemaker Gianni Menotti was named Italian winemaker of the year in 2006.  

The winery refers to vintners as "poets of the land," a land which once belonged to the Greeks, then the Romans, Austria and Spain, a land influenced by its proximity to mountains and sea.

This wine was made of Tocai Friulano grapes, vinified and aged in steel.  Alcohol tips 14% abv and it retails for around $15.

This clear yellow wine pours up very slightly frizzante, with a small collection of tiny bubbles clinging to the glass.  On the nose there is a sweet apricot aroma mixed with a delicate blend of herbs and minerals.  Those minerals drive the palate, which is exquisitely citrus.  The acidity comes on strong, then softens through the sip into a gentle tingle.  It is an elegant white wine, offering a perfect balance of herbal notes, earthiness and freshness.

Vina Borut Blazič Malvasia Collio 2019

Blazič is actually located in Slovenia, right on the border with Italy.  Some of the Blazič vineyards are in Slovenia, some are in Italy's Collio region.

Their 100% Malvasia wine was aged for seven months in concrete and another couple of months in the bottle.  Alcohol is 14% abv

This wine has a yellow-green tint and a nose that is a bit closed, or maybe subtle is a better word.  Very light citrus notes give way to a mix of cantaloupe and honeydew.  The palate is anything but subtle.  Big toasted almond flavor elbows past Meyer lemon and tangerine to lead the way.  The acidity is fantastic - just enough but not too much.  The finish wraps up the sip with a beautiful salinity.  The more of Collio I taste, the more I love that region.

Conti Formentini Raiante Ribolla Gialla Collio 2019

The winery's U.S. importer indicates that the Formentini family has owned the castle on the tallest hill in Friuli since the 16th century.  The wine that was made there was reported, even way back then, as being "exquisite."  The name Raiante comes from the local word for "a ray of sunshine."

A little more than a third of the Ribolla Gialla grapes that make up the wine are set aside for a month to dry, then added to the fermenting wine.  The process is said to give more body to Raiante.  Alcohol is restrained at 13% abv and it can probably be found for less than $20.

This wine colors up a medium-pale yellow with green highlights.  The nose is earthy and mineral-driven, with mango, guava, apricot and citrus aromas.  The palate offers salinity and stone fruit, along with a decent acidity that refreshes.  The citrus flavor that plays through the strongest is lime.  This is a really great wine for crab cakes or shrimp dishes. 

Polje Fantazija Bianco Collio DOC  2019

The Polje winery was named after the geological depressions, or sinkholes, formed in limestone which has been eroded over time.  It is this limestone element of the soil which lends the incredible minerality to the wine.

Fantazija was made from Ribolla Gialla, Chardonnay and Sauvignon grapes, fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol hits 13.5% abv and the retail price is around $20.

The nose on this wine from Italy's Collio region is explosive enough to make an impression before the glass has been raised.  Floral, then herbal, then honeydew melon, then limes, then - of all things - smoke!  It's a showstopper.  The palate offers a mineral-driven flintiness, with citrus, melon and a fine acidity.  Pair it with oysters, shrimp, or a calamari and scungilli salad. 

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Monday, May 17, 2021

A Taste Of Paso Robles

Sixmilebridge Winery is located in West Paso Robles, along Peachy Canyon Road.  Their small-lot Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varieties come from organically farmed grapes sourced solely from their two organic, high-elevation estate vineyards, Maidie and Grace, in Paso's Adelaida District AVA.

I was invited to take part in a virtual experience to mark the one-year anniversary of their tasting room.  Proprietors Jim and Barbara Moroney, winemaker Anthony Yount and his wife, vineyard manager Hillary Yount were on hand for the Zoom event.  Publicist Stacey Jacob said the tasting room "opened very quietly" during the pandemic.  No small feat, in a time when established businesses were having trouble just staying open.

Anthony says the two vintages of their Estate Cuvée sampled in the event are "similar in blend, but not in flavor."  He feels the cuvée is the purest expression of what the vineyard has to offer in each vintage.  He credits the elevation and the limestone soil for both making contributions to what can be a rustic feel in the wine.  It is that rusticity which draws me over and over again to Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon.  

Jim commented that a lot of the limestone on the property is tinted a pink, or peachy, color due to the influence of iron deposits.  Jim also revealed that the winery will be going away from calling their blends cuvées, in favor of more "fanciful" names.  He also spoke with pride of the experimentation that his wine team enjoys, for instance that they have planted Semillon and Zinfandel grapes in addition to the other Bordeaux varietals.  

Jim also gave a tip of the hat to all the journalists who were on the Zoom call, revealing that he had been the publisher of the Dallas Morning News for 17 years and was in television news before that.  By the way, he identified the object on the cuvée labels as the hat of a priest from Sixmilebridge, Ireland in the 19th century.

Sixmilebridge Estate Cuvée 2017

The 2017 Sixmilebridge Estate Cuvée was made from 53% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, 17% Merlot, 12% Malbec, 12% Petit Verdot and 6% Cabernet Franc.  Anthony said that he was shocked by how good the Malbec is in the estate.  Hillary agreed, saying the Malbec is consistently the best fruit they have.  An extremely high heat spike over Labor Day weekend in 2017 apparently softened the tannins somewhat.  The wine aged for 26 months in 82% new French oak barriques.  Alcohol tips 14.2% abv and the retail price is $85.

The '17 vintage has a deep purple color and a deep, rich nose that shows sweet plum, blackberry and cassis notes.  The minerals show up strong as well, providing a savory backdrop for the magnificent fruit.  On the palate, the dark fruit flavors are in control as the minerals chase them.  The oak treatment comes across perfectly, with a wonderful sweetness imparted along with some touches of leather and tobacco.  Acidity is bright and the tannins, while they may have softened, are still quite aggressive upon opening.  Let it sit for an hour or so and they tend to settle down.  

Sixmilebridge Estate Cuvée 2018

The 2018 vintage was made from 48% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, 33% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec and 4% Cabernet Franc.  As in the previous vintage, the wine aged for 26 months in French oak, but only two-thirds of the wood was new.  Alcohol is a bit higher, at 14.6% abv, and the retail price is $85.

The 2018 Cuvée is dark in color, possibly a tad lighter than '17, and the nose offers a more savory expression of the black fruit.  The leather and tobacco notes stride a little stronger in the '18.  Minerality is a big feature in the aroma package.  The palate is dark and rich, with that classic Paso limestone chalkiness making an appearance.  The acidity is refreshing, and the tannins are a bit softer than the '17, while still offering plenty of pairing potential.

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Friday, May 14, 2021

Blood Of The Vines - Monster Kids

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week, our three movies are about monsters and kids.  How are we to tell them apart?

For fans of movies, nothing stirs them quite like a movie about movie fans.  Ask anyone in the seats at the New Beverly Cinema, which is slated to reopen on June 1st.  My wife is so excited about being at the grand reopening.  I asked her what film they'd be showing and she replied, "What’s it matter?  The New Bev's back!"  I would imagine a lot of the regulars feel the same way.

Fade To Black is a 1980 psych-thriller which centers on a young movie buff who kicks it up a notch.  He tires of being the downtrodden movie geek and starts taking his revenge on those who offend him, one by one, dressed as different characters from classic movies.  

I can understand the scare from Dracula, the Mummy or a James Cagney gangster, but Hopalong Cassidy as a horror vehicle seems like a reach.  One may as well dress for Halloween as Roy Rogers.  Or Trigger.

Colorado's Left Hand Brewing has a stout named Fade To Black, which they say lends itself to a "feeling of self loathing, burnt opportunities and smoked relationships."  Mmmm.  Six-pack or case?  

1987's The Monster Squad pits a group of kids against the monsters.  The Mummy, Wolfman, Frankenstein's monster and Gill-man step right out of the old Universal pictures into the real world.  The young 'uns try to rid the earth of the movie monsters come-to-life by throwing them through a wormhole.  Does it work?  I'll only say that we are still here today, aren't we?  Thanks, kids.

I ran across a recipe for a cocktail called Monster Squad - one part Jagermeister and three parts Monster energy drink.  Both ends of that recipe are a little sick-making for me, so I'll let you deal with it on your own.  As a barista once told me when I ordered an espresso and Jolt cola, "you have any problems with that, dial 9-1-1."

Children of the Damned came out of Great Britain in 1964 as a sequel to 1960's Village of the Damned.  The one-sheet warns us to "beware the eyes that paralyze," and that's damned good advice.  These kids turn out to be the monsters they seem to be, capable of murder and thought to be a threat to humanity.  Now, if the military could do something about my neighbor's little monsters, that would be a damned fine ending.

Faust Wines of Napa Valley used to produce a wine called The Damned, but that is no longer the case, ruining a damned easy wine pairing.  But wait - Damned Mountain is a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which the importer claims is restrained.  When was the last time you had a restrained Sauv Blanc from New Zealand?  I won't call them damned liars even though it would be thematically perfect.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A Trio Of Italian Sauvignon Blancs

A recent online wine tasting experience introduced participants to Italian Sauvignon Blanc.  Probably more noted from France, California or New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine grape which can produce a wide variation of styles, even within northern Italy's wine regions.

Tiare Collio DOC Sauvignon 2019

For his Tiare winery, Roberto Snidarcig creates white wines under the Collio labeling and reds from the Isonzo DOC.  Collio's marl is better fitted for whites than the gravelly soil of Isonzo.  

This 2019 Tiare is 100% Sauvignon from the Dolegna del Collio area.  Fermentation took place in stainless steel vats and a fifth of the wine saw malolactic fermentation.  Alcohol sits at 13.5% abv and the retail price comes in around $23.

This Sauvignon is tinted a very light gold, almost clear.  The nose gives aromas more common to New World Sauvignon Blancs - grass, herbs, salinity.  The grassiness is not, however, on par with, say, a New Zealand SB.  It's a little more restrained than that.  On the palate, citrus minerality is the rule, with an extremely fresh acidity.  The lemon-lime flavor comes back on the lengthy finish.  Fish is a great pairing for this wine, something along the lines of a tuna salad or nicoise would be ideal.

Bosco del Merlo Sauvignon Blanc Turranio

Bosco del Merlo's winery name was inspired by the oak forests - boscos - that once covered the area and were referenced on topographical maps.  Turriano refers to Ruffino Turranio of Concordia Sagittaria.  He was a monk and a historian just a few centuries after the birth of Christ.  The Bosco del Merlo estate winery was founded in 1977 by brothers Carlo, Lucia and Roberto Paladin.

The estate vineyards are right on the border between Veneto and Friuli, and this wine is Friuli DOC.  The grapes for Turranio were harvested separately - different Sauvignon Blanc clones of different ages.  The grapes of the first harvest were tasked with freshness and minerality.  The grapes of the second harvest were for structure and body.  The fruit was vinified separately, then aged five months in steel, in contact with the spent yeast cells.  Alcohol clocks in at 13% abv and the wine sells for around $20.

This pale yellow wine has a fragrant nose with some grassy, herbal notes, although not as grassy as the Tiare.  There is a nice floral element and some tropical fruit, too.  The palate shows a great Sauvignon Blanc flavor profile - citrus, minerals, herbs - and an acidity which is pleasant enough without getting too crazy.  I sometimes find Sauvignon to be a little much on the palate for my taste, but that is not the case with the Turriano.  It is a very nice sip and wonderful match for rice or pasta dishes, especially those with an herbal flair to them.

Cantina Kurtatsch Alto Adige Sauvignon Kofl

Kurtatsch Kellerei-Cantina is a wine cooperative which has been around since 1900.  Some 190 families contribute the leg and back work, while winemaker Othmar Doná transforms their fruit into wine.

This wine comes from the Alpine region of Alto Adige, where the German language is just as common to hear as Italian.  The winery says the vineyard lies in the shadow of the great mountains to the west, so the sun sets early there and makes for a white wine heaven.  The sandy, gravelly soil sports a lot of dolomite and quartz, which benefits the minerality.  Kofl was vinified in steel tanks, then aged for a year, on the lees, in big oaken barrels.  

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Monday, May 10, 2021

Angels & Cowboys Wine

Share a Splash Wine Company was founded in 2006 as Cannonball.  Yoav Gilat's idea was to make great wines and sell them for less than $20.  Today, Cannonball is joined by ELEVEN, Angels and Cowboys, Astrolabe Wines and High Dive Napa Valley as a full portfolio for the Healdsburg-based outfit.

Head winemaker Ondine Chattan is a female veteran in a business which has been dominated by males. Her time in the California wine industry has seen her getting purple hands at Cline, Ridge Vineyards and for 18 years at Geyser Peak prior to joining Share A Splash.  She is a California native who takes a hands-on approach to winemaking, educated at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Fresno State.  She is proud of her spring releases, and she says they show the bright fruit flavors for which her home state is famous.

Angels & Cowboys Brut Rosé NV

This all-California sparkler is made in the traditional method of secondary fermentation, using traditional Champagne grapes - 73% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 2% Pinot Meunier.  The fruit comes not, of course, from Burgundy but from Mendocino and Sonoma counties.  The non-vintage bubbly is in it first release, with 2,500 cases made, at 12% abv and a retail price of $24.

This wine shows a light tint in the glass and offers a nose of apples, cherries and fresh bread.  The palate comes on with a racy acidity, fine bubbles and an earthy take on raspberry and citrus.  The wine's finish is lengthy and quite enjoyable.

Angels & Cowboys Sonoma County Rosé

This Grenache-based rosé was made in a traditional style called "œil de perdrix," meaning partridge's eye in French, a reference to the pale pink color of the dying bird's eye.  It is more commonly called Vin Gris - grey wine - and is made with very little skin contact for a more delicate style and hue.  Alcohol tips 12.5% abv and the retail sticker reads $16.

This wine is tinted a very pale pink in the glass, as one might expect from a rosé of Provence, not Sonoma.  The nose presents a beautiful basket of ripe cherries and strawberries, with a smokey hint just above the glass.  The acidity is nice and fresh, but not exactly razor-sharp.  On the palate, the red fruit dominates, and gets a little help from a lightly tart citrus effect.  The medium finish is pretty and fruity.

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Friday, May 7, 2021

Blood Of The Vines - Milestones

Pairing‌‌‌ ‌‌‌wine‌‌‌ ‌‌‌with‌‌‌ ‌‌‌movies!‌‌‌  ‌‌‌See‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌hear‌‌‌ ‌‌‌the‌‌‌ ‌‌‌fascinating‌‌‌ ‌‌‌commentary‌‌‌ ‌‌‌for‌‌‌ ‌‌‌these‌‌‌ ‌‌‌‌‌movies‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌and‌‌‌ ‌‌‌many‌‌‌ ‌‌‌more‌,‌‌ ‌‌‌at‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Trailers‌‌‌ ‌‌‌From‌‌‌ ‌‌‌Hell.‌‌‌  This week, we have a trio of films directed by Lewis Milestone, with pairings to match.

Lewis Milestone was a Russian-American director who barely escaped a career in engineering.  That's what his parents wanted him to do.  Actually they would have preferred anything to the movie biz, but flunking out of slide rule school led to Milestone's "coming to America" moment.  At long last - Hollywood!  Well, after a stopover in Hoboken, anyway.

Milestone's Rain came along in 1932, when he was hot off his job with The Front Page and just a couple of years following his Oscar win.  Rain was universally panned for its slow pace and even Milestone himself didn't care for it.  He found out the hard way that just because the movies could now talk, that alone wasn't enough.

California's Mojave Rain Winery promises an oasis in the desert, but their three wines come from the North Coast and Paso Robles.  That California bear on the label doesn't look like a desert denizen, either, but the wines are all priced right around $25.  Plus, rain is always welcome in the desert.

After a half dozen silent movies, 1930's All Quiet on the Western Front was Milestone's first real directing effort of the sound era - if you don’t count New York Nights, which stunk so bad he requested anonymity from it.  That was okay.  All Quiet garnered Milestone an Oscar for best director.

A movie about a German kid who thinks the war was a big game - until he gets a close-up look at it - deserves a German wine.  Rather than the obvious - a Riesling - let's get one that really sounds German - Spätburgunder.  Gesundheit.  If you like Pinot Noir, you'll love Spätburgunder, because that's the German word for the Pinot Noir grape.  Plus, it's fun to try and say it with a bit of the wine still in your mouth.

Often referred to as a "Hollywood disaster," 1962's Mutiny on the Bounty has Milestone listed as director even though star Marlon Brando staged a mutiny of his own and hijacked the picture.  It's a remake of the 1935 classic and the last feature film which would bear Milestone's name as director.

What's a mutiny without a sword?  And what Italian name means sword?  Brando.  There, a link between the movie and the wine was fashioned without too much stretching.  Brando Wine is mostly Italian Cabernet Franc, aged in stainless steel, so it's got to be worth a sip or two if you can find it.

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Thursday, May 6, 2021

Two Wines From Italy's Collio DOC

Collio is in a chip of land in Italy's far northeastern corner, in the region Friuli Venezia Giulia, an area dominated by white wines.  The soil is largely the result of an ancient ocean, teeming with marine sediment, sandstone and limestone, always of prime importance for white wines.  The grape varieties of Collio include Malvasia, Ribolla Gialla, Friulano and the sweet Picolit grape.  That most of the wines are grown in hillside vineyards, it is natural that the region takes its name from the Italian word for hills.

Tenuta Stella was founded by Sergio Stevanato, who still runs the operation with his two sons.  The Tenuta Stella winemaker is Erika Barbieri.

The Tenuta Stella Collio Friulano 2019 was made entirely in stainless steel tanks, from Tocai Friulano grapes.  The wine was aged in steel on the lees, the spent yeast cells, which impart weight and complexity.  Alcohol sits at 14%abv and the wine is found at an average price of $15.

This lovely golden wine smells of candied apricots, with lemon curd and flowers in the background.  There is an earthy aroma that envelops all the other fragrances.  Beautiful.  The apricots come forward first on the palate, with lemon zest and a racy acidity that screams for seafood, maybe oysters on the half shell.  There is a wonderful salinity and a nutty flavor that comes in on the finish. 

The Edi Keber Collio 2018 also hails from the Collio DOC, close to the Slovenian border.  Edi's son, Kristian, is now following in his father's wine-stained footsteps.  This is the only wine he produces.

Keber says the wine is a blend of Friulano grapes, for body and structure, Malvasia Istriana for aromatics and Ribolla Gialla for acidity.  Keber's grapes grow in that poor Collio soil - ponco - which stresses the vines and brings out their best.  The wine is vinified and aged in cement.  Keber feels opting for cement instead of steel gives the wine more soul.  Alcohol tips 13% abv and it sells for $26 on average.

This yellow-gold wine has a complex nose which starts with a floral note and continues with lemon, apricot and a touch of lanolin.  On the palate, salinity is the calling card and Meyer lemon joins in with an almond aspect.  The mouthfeel is quite creamy and acidity is somewhat reserved.  This will pair nicely with any sort of salad or white meat, including fish. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Future Of Italian Rosé?

The Antinori family is widely known in Italy as a great source for wine, since they've been producing it for more than six centuries.  They are reportedly the 10th oldest family-owned company in the world.  If they decide to make a wine, it’s difficult to carve out a reason not to try it.

They are hitting rosé season right in stride, with the Tormaresca Calafuria Rosato Salento IGT 2020.  Tormaresca was founded in 1998 by Marchesi Antinori, and it was named after the old seaside towers in Puglia.  Calafuria refers to the bays of the Puglia region.  This pink wine is made from Negroamaro grapes which were grown at the Masseria Maime estate in Salento, Puglia.  The alcohol is an easy-drinking 12% abv and the retail price is $15.

Tormaresca’s brand manager, Vito Palumbo, says he is seeing "a shift away from traditional Italian grapes to those which are lesser known."  He feels that Negroamaro is poised to be the next big thing in the current emergence of Italian rosé wines.  

The wine is beautiful enough, but the label is an eye-catcher as well, designed by illustrator Valeria Petrone.  The image is said to be that of a woman dreaming of Puglia.

This pink wine’s nose is laden with ripe, red fruit - cherries, strawberries - and a touch of citrus - lemon, lime, orange and grapefruit.  There is also an herbal note, a sort of greenness than leans into minerality.  The palate brings the red fruit first, followed by the citrus.  The acidity is great, and the mouthfeel is quite full - it drinks like a red wine.  If Negroamaro is the future of rosé, bring it on.

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Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Soave - An Amazing Italian White Wine

Virtual wine tasting events are no stranger to me, especially in the era of COVID-19.  Get the box, open the box, log on and taste from home.  No social distancing to strain the process, no mask needed.  I was pleased to be invited to take part in a Zoom gathering recently along with two dozen other wine writers.  

Most of the wines in the virtual events have achieved the Tre Bicchieri - three glasses - status of Gambero Rosso International, the wine guide’s highest accolade.  The interactive event was hosted by Lorenzo Ruggeri, the wine guide's international editor, with comments along the two-hour journey from each winery’s representative.  Ruggeri spoke at sunset in Rome, which was mid-morning in Los Angeles.

I Campi Soave Classico Campo Vulcano 2018

This wine shows off its volcanic origins in its name, its aromas and its flavor.  Flavio Prà says his winery's name - I Campi - means "the fields," and is a nod toward how important the land is to winemaking.  He says his job is to "put the right wines in the right soil."  His first vintage of Soave Classico was 2006, and it is still one of his more popular wines.

This Soave was made from 85% Garganega grapes and 15% Trebbiano di Soave, grown in the hills of Monteforte d'Alpone.  Alcohol is a restrained 12.5% abv and it generally sells for around $18.

The wine has a yellow-gold glow in the glass and a mineral-laden nose, with zesty lemon, lime and orange aromas in addition to the smell of wet rocks, a nutty element and a faint florality.  The palate follows suit, with salinity being the watchword.  The finish is lengthy and dominated by a nutty apricot feel.  Pair it with shellfish, other seafood or a mushroom risotto.

Leonildo Pieropan Soave Classico Calvarino

Leonildo Pieropan founded the winery which bears his name in the late 1800s, although the land is watched over by a medieval fortress.  It is now run by his great-grandsons, Andrea (grower) and Dario (winemaker).  Calvarino is a hillside vineyard from which the grapes came - 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave.  It was the first single-vineyard Soave Classico to be produced.

This wine was fermented and aged in cement, not steel tanks.  Andrea says the cement allows for more purity in the fruit.  The leader of an online discussion about this wine said it is like "a person speaking in a low voice, with a lot of stories to tell."  Alcohol sits at 12.5% abv and the average price is $29.

This Soave Classico has quite a yellow-gold color in the glass.  The nose has aromas of apricot, Meyer lemon and minerals, but with an overriding earthiness to it.  The palate delivers great minerality, apricot and lemon zest in the full mouthfeel.  Acidity zings and leaves its calling card on the lengthy finish.

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Monday, May 3, 2021

Cannonball Wine Makes A Splash

Share a Splash Wine Company was founded in 2006 as Cannonball.  Yoav Gilat's idea was to make great wines and sell them for less than $20.  Today, Cannonball is joined by ELEVEN, Angels and Cowboys, Astrolabe Wines and High Dive Napa Valley as a full portfolio for the Healdsburg-based outfit.

Head winemaker Ondine Chattan is a female veteran in a business which has been dominated by males. Her time in the California wine industry has seen her getting purple hands at Cline, Ridge Vineyards and for 18 years at Geyser Peak prior to joining Share A Splash.  She is a California native who takes a hands-on approach to winemaking, educated at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Fresno State.  She is proud of her spring releases, and she says they show the bright fruit flavors for which her home state is famous.

While the Angels & Cowboys offerings were pretty good, I thought, the Cannonball bottlings troubled me.  First of all, they are billing the concept of the "cannonball" as a bold move when it is actually simple belligerence.  Anyone who has ever been in the vicinity of a pool when some asshole yelled "Cannonball!" and dropped their body into the water like a big sack of potatoes, knows that the move is that of an attention-hungry child who lacks the sense that God reportedly gave a goose.  "Heh heh, I got everybody wet," said Beavis to Butthead.

Further, the Cannonball wines relied very heavily upon oak.  In the Chardonnay that sat well with me, although I tired of the experience quickly.  In the Cabernet, I did not find the quality redeeming.

The Cannonball California Chardonnay 2019 was 70% fermented in French oak, with the remainder vinified in steel tanks.  The wine - blended from several sources - saw nine months in oak, altogether.  Alcohol clocks in at 12.5% abv and the retail price is $16.

This wine is made from grapes sourced in Monterey and Mendocino counties as well as Sonoma.  The nose shows apricot and lemon pie, with a healthy dollop of oak spice.  The oak comes through on the palate as well, in the form of some of the nicest "butter" I have tasted in a Chardonnay.  Meyer lemon, pear and cantaloupe flavors also turn up.  The acidity is quite nice and fresh, and the mouthfeel is full and rich.  

The Cannonball California Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is a juicy, red which the winery says drinks like a Cab that sells for more than $15.  That may be true, but it is a rather low bar to tout.  It is the wine which started the company 15 vintages ago.  Alcohol checks in reasonably at 13.5% abv.

This wine has a dark ruby tint in the glass and a nose of ripe fruit and oak spice.  The palate confirms the oakiness of the wine - a bit too much for my taste.  The tannins are a bit too forceful, too.  The mouthfeel seems weak and watery, while the fruit flavors have an almost candied taste.  I have had $15 wines before which were outstanding.  This one, unfortunately, does not fall into that category.