Monday, January 30, 2023

You Can Call Me Albariño

The 2021 vintage of the Pazo de Lusco Albariño is labeled as "Crianza Sobre Lias," which I'm told means the wine was aged on its lees, the yeast cells that are spent in the winemaking process. This often imparts a creamier or richer texture to a wine, particularly a white wine.

This wine was made from 100% Albariño grapes - of course - grown in the Rias Baixas region in northwestern Spain - of course. Rias Baixas is the place Albariño calls home. Alcohol sits at a moderate 13% abv and the bottle sells for around $20.

Pazo de Lusco sits in the glass as a lovely, light yellow liquid. The nose shows off the aromas for which the grape is famous - green apples, flowers and minerals. The minerals take center stage on the palate, which is rich and savory. It is the minerals which stand out the most here, making this a great wine for pairing with food. I had mine with a Mexican shrimp dish, but it will fit well with other spicy cuisines, too, like Thai or Cajun.

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Friday, January 27, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Lurking With Lorre

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 dig into a few movies featuring Peter Lorre - with wine pairings for each.

Peter Lorre was an amazing actor, we don't need to beat that horse to death. However, beyond his emotive skills was that voice - that incredible voice. His take as Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon is a superb example of the unconvincing convincer. When he tells Sam Spade to "kindly clasp your hands behind your neck" it’s no surprise that the table is turned faster than a Lazy Susan. There was a comic - I can't remember who - who did a quick impression of Lorre as a sportscaster, running down how one team killed, murdered… annihilated the other. In that voice. That incredible voice.

The Face Behind the Mask came to us in 1941 - prime time for film noir. Lorre stars as Johnny Szabo, a Hungarian immigrant who quickly learns the ropes in the US of A. Disfigured in a fire, he finds the only means of earning a living that's available to him is safecracking. If safecracking is in your toolbox to start with, it's possible that you aren't that nice a person anyway. However, if Lorre is in the role, you can expect that something is amiss somewhere. And something is.

There is a New England IPA called The Safecracker - who knows why. Oregon's Pheasant Run Winery used to have a Safecracker Syrah, but it seems that has been bumped in favor of their Bank Robber Red. That'll do in a pinch. We know whodunnit, we just won't say how.

From 1935, Mad Love started out as The Hands of Orlac, but what was no doubt a team of marketers somehow got Mad Love out of those words. You know how sometimes on your way home from work, they're doing a perp walk with a knife-throwing murderer down the street? Yeah? Well, that's what happens to Lorre in this film. He ends up in possession of the late murderer's hands and uses them in a transplant. "Just happen to have a couple in the laboratory." "But doctor, will I ever be able to throw a knife again?" "Yes, but your piano playing days are down the toilet, I'm afraid."

There are plenty of T-shirts for sale with funny bits like, "Just another wine drinker with a knife-throwing problem." The level of hilarity probably depends on whether you are the thrower or the throwee. In Texas, there is even a sub-culture of axe throwers, of which the less we know, the better. 

In the movie's frenzied climax, Lorre mistakes a real woman for a wax dummy, which makes one wonder how he managed to pull off a hand transplant. It's a good thing she didn't employ him to do a breast augmentation.

VineOh! - the name just rings of oeno-sincerity, doesn't it? - has a Mad Love Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and a Mad Love sweet white blend. One of those has to be good for viewing this film.

The Beast With 5 Fingers gave 1946 a dose of Hollywood horror. It's the old "severed hand" trope brought back to life in grand fashion by Warner Brothers. The poster beckons, "Your flesh will creep at the hand that crawls!" However much they paid ad men back then, the one who wrote that log line earned his day's pay. Depending on your gullibility, it can be either the subject of those campfire tales about what happened in "the next town over" or an early glimpse of Cousin Itt. 

A dead piano player's hand comes back from the grave and tickles the ivories a little more, in between strangulations, of course. Lorre's character tries to end the five-fingered fiend by flinging it into the fire. Spoiler: He lives just long enough to regret it

In Washington's Columbia Valley there is a red blend known as Sinister Hand. I'm not one to point fingers, but soft, juicy, and vanilla doesn't sound all that sinister to me, but maybe I would feel differently with a hand crawling up my leg. 

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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

A Bordeaux Bargain From Between The Seas

Four generations of the Goulpier family have stood at the helm of Château Rousset Caillau since the clan gave up baking for winemaking in 1929. The estate is in the region called "Entre-Deux-Mers," which translates to "between two seas." The land on which they are located is actually an island between two estuaries, the Garonne and the Dordogne which flow through Bordeaux. 

The grapes that make up the 2020 Château Rousset Caillau Bordeaux Supérieur Rouge are 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. They were vinified in stainless steel and aged 60% in oak and 40% in those steel tanks. Alcohol tips in at 14% abv and the wine sells for about $15. I got mine on sale for a couple of bucks less.

This Bordeaux bargain pours up as a medium-dark, rich purple. The nose is rather muted, although bright cherry and cassis notes do pop through. There is also some caramel and a faint hint of funk - nothing unpleasant, just a bit off-center. The tannic grip is really firm and the fruit is tempered with a savory streak - and that ever-so-slight bit of funk. Altogether, probably not a wine I would seek out again, but it didn't sip too badly and worked great in a Sunday soup I made. 

Monday, January 23, 2023

Riesling - Whatever The Reason

Healdsburg winery Ten Acre made a limited production of their 2016 Ten Acre Riesling. The grapes were grown in the Sonoma Coast AVA - a good region for Riesling - where the afternoon breeze gives the fruit the cool climate it craves. The wine's alcohol content clocks in at a low, low 10% abv and the retail sticker reads $30 for the small bottle.

This pale yellow wine offers a nose which is highlighted by lanolin, Meyer lemon, apricot, salinity and a beautiful floral note. The palate is off-dry - 3% residual sugar - and tastes of citrus and apricot, quite muted. The is a healthy dollop of minerals in play and a finish that brings back that soapy salinity. It is not a dessert wine, despite the 375ml bottle, but more of an aperitif. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Brain Drain

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 pair wines with brain movies. That's brain, not brainy.

The 1958 sci-fi The Brain Eaters was produced by Ed Nelson, who also stars, and an uncredited Roger Corman. Director Bruno VeSota was a longtime Corman accomplice, having played more than a dozen roles in his films. The movie poster declares that the brain eaters are "crawling, slimy things, terror-bent on destroying the world." I know, it sounds a lot like House Republicans trying to elect a speaker. 

American International Pictures distributed the film, in all its glorious black-and-white. AIP is much like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for low budget celluloid. Special effects in a '50s drive-in sci-fi? You bet! The flying saucer has dimensions of 50 feet by 50 feet, which sounds more like a flying bowl to me. I suppose the brain eaters figured out a way to circumvent topheaviness. 

Hall Wines produces a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon which bears the name Harebrained. It is the winery's way of blowing a raspberry to those who once said pursuing world class wine in the Napa Valley was a harebrained idea. Drink it before the brain eaters get to it. 

Brain Dead is a 1990 horror movie masquerading as a psychological thriller. It was produced by TFH guru Julie Corman and stars Bill Pullman and Bill Paxton, two actors who are at the top of every guy's list of who should play them in the biopic.

There are plenty of labcoats in this picture. And plenty of cerebellums to play with. Everybody is a neuroscientist, it seems. Hey, it's not brain surgery. But wait - it is. Or is it? They keep you guessing until the credits roll. Just remember - it's not paranoia if they really are out to get your brain.

Sine Qua Non chief wine surgeon Manfred Krankl figured out a way to turn wine into money better than most others who have learned the trick. His 17th Nail In My Cranium is listed online at well over $1,000. There are those who feel that anyone paying that much for a bottle of wine should have their heads examined.

We trip back to 1962 for The Brain that Wouldn't Die, a sci-fi that was actually made three years earlier than its release date. No doubt the producers wanted to wait until just the right moment to hit the big screens. When "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" was climbing the hit parade, it must have seemed like - why not now?

Ah yes, that title. You may remember the film as The Head That Wouldn’t Die or The Brain That Couldn't Die. Maybe it's the film that refused to be remembered. American International rears its fuzzy head again as the distributor of the flick, on a double-bill that wouldn't - or couldn't - die. 

Here we have a mad doctor - who are we kidding? He's a mad scientist, and he has discovered a way to keep a head alive after the body has shuffled off this mortal coil. It's a discovery he lives to regret. The finale has a monster carrying a damsel through a flaming laboratory. Where have I seen that before? There are no pitchforks in the shot this time around.

Dave Corey has been called a mad scientist of wine, due to the bold choices he makes in his blends. A hearty "mwa-ha-ha-ha" has been heard coming from the cellar as he pours beaker into beaker, never knowing what he's going to get until he gets it. You can find his CORE Wines at the Santa Maria tasting room or at Hancock College, where he leads the institution's wine program. 

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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Budget Cabernet Sauvignon

If you shop for wine and have a budget to which you must adhere, your eye is no doubt attracted by bargain wines at unbelievably low prices.  The problem with bargain wines, of course, is that they often are no bargain at all. Cheap wine with little or no redeeming value is just cheap wine. That's why it's nice to know a good bargain when you see one.

Meridian Cabernet Sauvignon can be had at grocery stores, and for very little money - especially considering that it's California's premier grape, one that usually commands a premier price. On the label, where I expect to find the appellation listed, the words "rich and velvety" appear - so, no Napa, no Paso, no Sonoma. The winery lists its location as Livermore, one of the more unheralded of California's wine regions. There also is no vintage listed.

This Cabernet Sauvignon does not adhere to the practice of billboarding your high-class wine region front and center. In fact, the tech sheet for this wine gets no more specific about where the grapes were grown than "select vineyards in sun drenched California," which is at least a bit more helpful than "rich and velvety," although not much. The winery does have a good reputation, however, for presenting good quality wines at low prices - surprisingly low. 

This Cab is unusual - by California standards, anyway - because part of it was vinified in stainless steel tanks instead of oak vats. The majority was fermented in oak and aged there for a mere six months instead of the customary year or two or three for Cabernets in the Golden State. Both factors allow the fruit to speak without the hand of oak covering its mouth. Two more things set the Meridian Cab apart from its top-shelf brethren - alcohol registers only 13% abv and the retail price sits at right around five bucks a bottle.

This wine shows a medium-dark ruby red color and a nose that is as pretty as they come. Cassis, strawberry, black cherry and clove make up the majority of the fragrances. Notable for their absence are darker, moodier notes like leather, forest floor or tobacco - this is a "happy Cab." The fruit comes first on the palate, too, with bright cherry and currant in the lead. The freshness of this Cab is amazing, and it delivers on the label's promise of "rich and velvety."

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Monday, January 16, 2023

Hold On To Your Hat For This Chardonnay

Cline Family Cellars is a family-owned wine producer in California's Sonoma County. They are located on a beautiful ranch and are celebrating the company’s 40th anniversary. 

Fred Cline writes that his Carneros Chardonnay - Hat Strap - was named for the habit of cinching one's hat strap while walking the vineyard as the winds from San Pablo Bay blow across the vines. It's that wind that helps keep the climate cool for the grapes to increase their hang time, which increases their flavor. It also has cost more than a few people their hats.

The grapes - from Los Carneros - were fermented in a mixture of steel tanks and oak barrels, with 10 months aging, which took place mostly in French oak. A little more than a third of the wine was aged in first-use wood, a third in neutral barrels and the rest was aged in stainless steel tanks. Extended contact with the spent yeast cells resulted in 100% malolactic fermentation, using a bacteria designed to inhibit buttery notes. Alcohol sits at 14.5% abv and the wine retails for $30.

The 2021 Hat Strap Chardonnay from Cline colors up very pale in the glass and offers a nice nose of lemon, apricot and white pepper. The palate frames the fruit with savory herbs like sage. The acidity is lively enough to pair with salads, pasta with cream or lemon sauce and mushroom risotto. The finish is long and savory with a strong streak of salinity in it. This one of the better Chardonnays I have had in a while.  

Friday, January 13, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Serial Killers

Pairing‌ ‌wine‌ ‌with‌ ‌movies!‌  ‌See‌ ‌the‌ ‌trailers‌ ‌and‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌fascinating‌ ‌commentary‌ ‌for‌ ‌these‌ ‌movies‌ ‌and‌ ‌many‌ ‌more‌ ‌at‌ ‌Trailers‌ ‌From‌ ‌Hell.‌ This week, the wine is the color of blood as we serve up some pairings for three films concerning serial killers.

In Cold Blood is a movie from 1967, based on Truman Capote's book about the brutal real-life murders of a Kansas family by a pair of criminals in 1959. Their killing spree was a short one - they slit and shot the four family members in the middle of the night, after failing to find a safe full of cash they had hoped to crack. Robert Blake plays one of the killers while John Forsythe plays a state investigator.

When the two felons get out of prison and decide to resume a life of crime, they head to southwestern Kansas as the logical place to get their careers back on track. That's a six-hour drive from the Leavenworth Big House. It goes to show that law enforcement's best friend is the stupidity of criminals. 

In tribute to the unfortunate Clutter family, a Kansas wine will be the pairing here. Even though Holy-Field Winery is in a suburb of Kansas City and the Clutters were butchered six hours west, way across the state, the juice is great. Try their midwestern grapes, Chambourcin or Cynthiana. Both are red wines which have won awards for their excellence, like In Cold Blood did.

If you speak Italian, you may know 1975's Deep Red as Profondo Rosso. The only Italian I speak is "più vino, per favore, "and I can say that only because I just googled "more wine please" in Italian. 

Deep Red - Imma stay in my English language lane - stars David Hemmings as a musician who investigates a string of murders. Don't ask me why a musician is doing a cop's job. I just hope the cop isn't playing a sax on a street corner somewhere.

It's one of those things that strike me about Italian film. Weird happenings don't draw anyone's attention. Arguments about unrelated events seem to pop up out of nowhere - and disappear just as quickly. Anytime a car is moving, it's like a chase scene. And even if it's called a giallo film, it's still just a slasher flick to me.

It may be just a slasher flick to me, but it was a regular War and Peace to someone - the original script reportedly ran more than 500 pages. I'll pause here for the audible gasp from every studio reader in Los Angeles. Never fear - writer/director Dario Argento cut it down to a mere 321 pages. Despite the heft of that screenplay, the movie clocks in at just over two hours running time. 

The wine pairing for this giallo film is one from Iruai Winery called Giallo - although it is from the Shasta-Cascade mountains of California's Siskiyou County, not Italy. They do, however, pay homage to the "rugged, savage red wines of the Italian Alps." It’s a blend of Teroldego, Nebbiolo, and Refosco grapes, and it has the film genre right there on the label, so you don't forget what you're watching.

Out of 1971 comes 10 Rillington Place, a British crime drama with Richard Attenborough as real-life serial killer John Christie. The title of the film is the address of the house where many of his victims were slain. John Hurt got rave reviews for his portrayal of Timothy Evans, who was tried and found guilty of two murders that were committed by Christie. Both Evans and Christie eventually swung from a noose, although Evans was posthumously pardoned - a little late to do him any good. 

It's difficult for me to think of a British serial killer. In my mind, he would sound like a James Bond villain - all posh and proper as he describes how he plans to end you. Or like the great Bill Hicks comedy bit about "hooligans" knocking over a dustbin in Shaftesbury. But, I suppose the bad seeds turn up everywhere, even in Notting Hill. 

For this movie about crime in London, let's go down to Surrey for Denbies Redlands, a crimson blend of Dornfelder, Rondo and Pinot Noir grapes grown in the Denbies estate vineyard. I don't know whose idea it was to plant a German grape variety like Dornfelder in quaint little Surrey, but if they are good with it, so am I. Prost. 

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Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Bring Some Albariño - And Just The Good Stuff

This Spanish wine from Bodega La Caña is brought forward from Galacia by Jorge Ordoñez Selections. He claims to be the first person to export Albariño wines from Rias Baixas in 1991 and he has no time for what he calls "simplistic, mass-produced, commercial" Albariño. Ordoñez writes that La Caña wines "demonstrate the complexity, intensity, and longevity Albariño can achieve when sourced from old vineyards and using serious winemaking practices."

Caña in Spanish means "cane," and there are plenty of canes growing on the Salnés Valley estate, where the hillsides meet the river. However, it can also translate as "hangover," so don't drink too much of this wine or you might experience that headache.

The 2021 La Caña Rias Baixas Albariño is made from 100% Albariño grapes grown on the estate. Thirty-five percent of the wine was vinified in well-used oak vats while 65% was done in stainless steel tanks. It was aged for eight months on the spent yeast cells. Alcohol reaches 13% abv and this Albariño can typically be had for less than $20.

This pale yellow wine smells strongly of flowers and citrus - it is a beautiful nose, really gorgeous. The palate is somewhat soft and has mineral notes along with Meyer lemon and tangerine. Acidity comes in at medium strength, just enough to tingle the tongue. The sip is wonderful, with great flavors and an easy drinking mouthfeel.

Monday, January 9, 2023

Bubbles Are Always Okay. Especially This One

Bubbly wine is never a downer. Even if you are a beginner at discerning the fine points of the drink, you know enough to know that bubbles are special. There is Champagne from France, sekt from Germany, Cava from Spain and good ol' sparkling wine from the US of A. In Italy, Prosecco provides the effervescence. 

Prosecco is too often written off as a simple, fun wine - a way to be festive without blowing a paycheck on big-name Champagne. Many big-name Proseccos unfortunately feed that fire, giving a fizz and nothing more. Le Vigne di Alice is one producer that does Prosecco right.

I bought a couple of bottles of A Fondo Valdobbiadene Prosecco a couple of years ago for a family event, solely on the strength of the name - it's my wife's family name. Here we are finally getting around to popping the cork on the final bottle. 

Valdobbiadene is a town just below the Alpine-Dolomite areas of Veneto in northern Italy. The cool climate there is perfect for growing the Glera grape, the main fruit of Prosecco. 

Fondo, in Italian, refers to the bottom, and in the case of this wine, it specifically references the lees, or spent yeast cells, in the bottom of the fermenter. Contact with the lees is important to give a fuller mouthfeel to the wine and more complexity. A fondo, as a phrase, translates as "deeply," according to Google. This could be the winemaker's way of saying that his wine is worth more than simply raising a toast or tossing back some frizzante. The A Fondo Prosecco hits only 11% abv in alcohol and costs about $20, if memory serves. 

Here we have a Prosecco that is more frizzante than bubbly. It is also cloudy in its yellow tint. The time spent on the lees added depth and complexity that is hard to find in a Prosecco. The nose is downright funky, with a yeastiness that would turn bread green with envy. There are huge mineral notes as well and the green apple smell is almost completely overwhelmed. This wine is not sweet, as is the custom with Prosecco. It is bone dry, in fact, with no residual sugar. The palate has a gripping acidity and a savory salinity that combine to form a Prosecco that is more like a pensive study than a party favor. 

Friday, January 6, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - Retro Robotics

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 pair wines with cinematic robots of the past.

The Colossus of New York is a 1958 sci-fi which employs the old "transplanting a brain into another body" trope. Skipping the expected "I went in for a brain scan and they didn't find anything" joke, let's focus on where the brain comes from and where it goes. 

A brilliant young man is killed, which we would normally see as "end of movie." Ah, but this brilliant young man has a father who is a scientist, of the "mad" variety it would appear. He happens to have access to a cyborg - both man and machine. The term dresses it up a little - it's pretty much a monster - a lot more menacing than the cute little robot delivery cart that makes its way down La Brea and Beverly every day. I often wonder what it's bringing to someone, and who that someone is, and will they know when the robot gets there? Also, how many deliveries can the little guy make before he needs a battery charge? Yes, I have a lot of time on my hands. And I think someone else's brain may have been put into my head.

The colossus, to no one's surprise, turns a wee bit mean and starts killing people. This isn't what Doctor Dad had in mind when he saved his son's brain. A nasty bit of business at the UN building gives the colossus a sort of "Son of Sam" street cred among those New Yorkers who aren't too jaded to look up when a monster runs amok. 

Matt Brain is the winemaking genius behind Alpha Omega Wines in the Napa Valley. On the website, his single vineyard stuff simply says "click to inquire" about the price of a bottle. You know what they say about "if you have to ask," so try the Spring Mountain red for $165. Hope your wine-serving robot doesn't spill it.

From 1957, The Invisible Boy features Robby the Robot in his second big-screen appearance. He debuted in Forbidden Planet, which was set in the 23rd century. In this script, he plays the same character, who turns up back in 1957 through the magic of time travel. To say he plays the same character is charitable. He's a robot. That's pretty much his reach.

By the way, this Invisible Boy is definitely not the 2014 Italian film of the same name. That's a fantasy about a boy with superpowers, and this is a fantasy about a boy who becomes invisible. I guess here in the 21st century, being invisible simply isn't a big enough grab.

Robot wine is more than a song by Spice - and if you can send me the lyrics to that ditty, I'll be grateful. Whatever language she is singing in, I don't know it. Robot wine is more than a self-propelled machine that harvests grapes, or a device that makes wine, or brings it to you. When Alexa grows wheels and can bring me a glass of wine, that's when I’ll stop complaining that all she ever does is tell me that the Amazon shipment has arrived.

Oh, by the way, the king of exotica music, Les Baxter, did the soundtrack. It's one of a hundred or so films that he scored.

Alexa may be the most ubiquitous robot-like device in the world, but if you ask her to find a winery, will she find one that bears her name? I asked her, and she came up with Alexana Winery of Oregon's Willamette Valley. Okay, close. The Dundee Hills locale gives up Pinot Noir and Chardonnay starting at 50 bucks. "Alexa, when will that arrive?" "Considering the lack of a holiday tip for your Amazon driver, Reply Hazy, Try Again."

Kronos is a 1957 sci-fi that has become a cult favorite for its ecological stance. The title character is a big robot sent from an alien world which has used up its own natural resources. Its job - suck the earth dry of its resources and bring it all home to daddy. I'm sure that there were plenty of people on that planet denying that it could ever happen. "What, ya think we're gonna run out of energy someday? Like it'll just stop coming out of the ground someday? Like… oh crap. It's gone. The lefties were right."

George O’Hanlon plays one of the scientists in Kronos, and he would later be the voice of George Jetson on TV. His cartoon household would be kept in shape by another robot, Rosie, who was much nicer than Kronos, and much more servile.

Rare Robot Red Blend comes from Napa Valley, via Empathy wines, co-founded by master wine tout Gary Vaynerchuck. Its Bordeaux-style composition brings $60 a bottle, so suck it up before it's all gone.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2023

A Fine Zinfandel From Dry Creek Valley

Cline Family Cellars is a family-owned wine producer in California's Sonoma County. They are located on a beautiful ranch and are celebrating the company's 40th anniversary. 

Cline Eight Spur Zinfandel Dry Creek Valley 2020

Fred Cline writes that the 2020 Cline Eight Spur Zinfandel was named for the farming method described as "spur pruned to eight canes." The 100-year-old vines from which these grapes were harvested grow at the north end of Dry Creek Valley, the hottest part and the part most suited for Zinfandel.  This wine has an alcohol level of 14.5% abv and it sells in a range from $25 to $33.

The nose is brilliant - ripe red cherries, raspberries, herbs and spices that remind one of baking. The palate is bold and rich with those red fruits and tempered perfectly by the oak treatment. Acidity is fresh and the tannins are serviceable enough for a roast tenderloin without getting too much in the way of the sip. It is a fine example of wine made from California's heritage grape.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Vermentino Is My Favorite - Today

San Felice is an Italian winemaking company which is located in the Chianti Classico area of Tuscany. Their history includes the fact that they were on the leading edge of the development of the Super Tuscan style, decades ago.

We are sampling today, however, a Vermentino. This is probably my favorite grape from Italy - my favorite white grape, anyway. That's the beauty of wine's variety - there are so many grapes, so many styles, so many pairings, that it is almost impossible for an adventurous taster to be limited to just one favorite.

The 2021 San Felice Toscana is made from mostly Tuscan Vermentino grapes, grown on the Perolla estate in Maremma, with a splash of Sauvignon Blanc thrown in for some extra aromatics. Personally, I prefer Vermentino from Sicily or Sardinia - despite what science tells us, I know I can smell and taste the ocean in those.

This Vermentino has alcohol at 13% abv and sells online for less than $18. I got my bottle at a sale during the holidays at Eataly for considerably less, so it was a steal.

The wine's nose comes across a bit muted, with a little grapefruit, a little lemon and a whole lot of that mineral aroma that comes up off the sidewalk after a rain. There is a beautiful salinity available as it begins to open up in the glass. The palate shows a bit of the Sauvignon Blanc with a pink grapefruit note, while the savory minerals carry it along. Acidity is fresh and inviting, offering plenty of pairing possibilities from pork to poisson.