Showing posts with label Cabernet Sauvignon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cabernet Sauvignon. Show all posts

Monday, April 15, 2024

Israeli Wine For Passover

If you are planning on picking up some wines for Passover, you probably already know about Golan Heights Winery, one of Israel's premier producers. Besides their outstanding Yarden label, they also offer the Galil Mountain Winery brand. 

The  2019 Galil Mountain Winery Alon is a Galilee wine, made from 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Syrah and 8% Petit Verdot grapes. Alon, by the way, means wild oaks. That type of tree is found in abundance around the vineyards. Alon is aged for one year in French oak barrels, carries alcohol at 14.5% abv and a price tag of $27.

This wine has an indigo color in the glass. The nose is full of dark fruit, with blackberry, plum and black currant coming into play. Notes of cigars, leather, white pepper and funky earth make me think the Syrah plays a much larger part than its percentage indicates. The palate has all the black fruit and some ripe, red cherries in addition. The acidity has some zip to it and the tannins are firm enough for brisket. The finish isn't terribly long, but it holds the fruit flavors for a delicious few minutes. 


Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Israeli Wines For Passover

If you are planning on picking up some wines for Passover, you probably already know about Golan Heights Winery, one of Israel's premier producers. 

The 2020 Yarden Cabernet Sauvignon is a varietal wine made from grapes grown in the cool, high altitude, rocky soil of the Golan Heights in Galilee. Head winemaker Victor Schoenfeld feels that this wine is a great addition to your Passover meal.

The wine was aged in French oak for 18 months. It carries alcohol at 14.5% abv and retails for $50. I was reminded of the Cabs from Paso Robles, with their rambunctious nature and chalky mouthfeel. 

This kosher wine, the 38th vintage of the label, is a dark wine, with an aroma profile that seems to match. The nose has a tarry sense to it, with notes of cedar, cigars and clove buoyed along by the blackberry and cassis fruit smells. The palate is dark, too, with blue and black fruit, clove and pepper and oak notes providing complexity. The acidity is fresh and the tannic grip is firm. It will pair well with meat dishes and provide a pleasant experience as a sipper, if you wish. 


The 2022 Yarden Chardonnay also hails from the hills of Galilee. The wine aged for seven months in oak and underwent partial malolactic fermentation to give it a complex presentation. Alcohol is a tad lofty for a white wine at 14% abv. The retail price is $28. 

This wine has a remarkable fruit profile on the nose, with lemon aromas being predominant. The is a slight herbal note along with a very reasonable amount of oak spice. The barrel aging, which was only seven months, comes on most noticeably on the palate, but the wood is used to great effect. 


The Yarden sparkler was made from 73% Chardonnay and 27% Pinot Noir grapes, fermented in the bottle in the traditional method. Alcohol is a comfortable 12% abv and it retails for $52.

The 2017 vintage of the Yarden Galilee Brut Rosé has a golden, light copper hue in the glass. Bubbles are plentiful on the pour, but don't look away. They dissipate quickly. The nose brings mineral aromas along with stone fruit and just a hint of toast. The palate shows a yeasty side with lemon and apricot fruit. The acidity is refreshing. As with most sparkling wines, it will pair with everything. 


Monday, February 19, 2024

Oakless Chianti

If all you know of Italy's Chianti region is that straw-wrapped wine bottle with the candle drippings down the side from your college dorm, you need to know more.  First of all, they dispensed with the straw baskets years ago.  Second, the area has undergone a complete transformation since those days.  It is now home to some of Tuscany's best wines.

Ruffino was founded in 1877, when cousins Ilario and Leopoldo Ruffino set up a small winery in the town of Pontassieve, near Florence.  Wine had been a thing there for ages, but the two Tuscan natives felt certain that much of the area's greatness had yet to be revealed, what with Tuscany's mineral-laden soils, the cooling influence of the Mediterranean Sea and the dry summers that wine grapes just love. 

Ruffino lays claim to being one of the first major wineries with vineyard estates in Italy's three most famous wine-producing regions – Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

The 2020 Chianti Superiore is made from 70% Sangiovese grapes and a 30% blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.  Those grapes really get a chance to shine, since aging takes place in concrete and stainless steel tanks for six months, then another two months in the bottle.  Superiore serves as a sort of midpoint between the Chianti DOCG and the more complex Chianti Classico.  Alcohol ticks 13.5% abv and it generally sells for around $12.

Aromas of black cherry and dark raspberry come forth on the nose, nice and bright due to the oakless aging process. Acidity is refreshing and the tannins are firm. This is a good wine to pair with a spaghetti dinner, with or without meatballs. 


Friday, February 9, 2024

Blood Of The Vines - Soul Music

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 put on the headphones/earbuds and let the music wash over us. Are we high? If not, we have some wine pairings to go along with the musical movies.

This is one of those weeks where music and movies merge, a happy affair, for me at least, even when the sound and the pictures are not of the highest quality. The beach party movies come to mind, as do Elvis flicks. Somewhere, there is probably a home movie of the legendary 30-minute version of "Louie Louie" recorded at a Hell’s Angels party. That would fall into this category as well. But on we go to the films that reach loftier heights.

The 1986 film, Crossroads, was inspired by the legend of blues pioneer Robert Johnson. The legend says he went down to the crossroads and sold his soul to the devil to get his guitar prowess. If that's how it's done, what did Carlos Santana have to give up? Eric Clapton? Stevie Ray Vaughn? Well, that last one doesn't need answering. We know what he gave up. 

For authenticity, guitar god Ry Cooder provided a lot of music for the movie, but he was passed over to play the guitarist in the film's climactic guitar battle. Ry was reportedly a little bit pissed that Steve Vai ended up shredding the hot licks. If anyone else wants to carp about the choice, Vai could easily say, "Hold my beer" while showing you a thing or two. 

Napa Valley's Crossroads Wines are made by Samantha Rudd and utilize grapes with a pedigree, from places like Oakville and Mt. Veeder. You may have to shop around to find them, and you will spend $80 or more for a Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. Their Sauvignon Blanc runs quite a bit less. 

Honeydripper was written and directed by John Sayles for a 2007 release. The plot deals with the owner of a blues club in rural Alabama and his effort to save the place by hiring a hot, young guitar man, played by Gary Clark, Jr. Keb’ Mo also appears and R&B great Ruth Brown would have had a starring role, had she lived long enough. She was replaced by Mable John.

The movie ran hot and cold for critics, with one scribe taking issue with caricatures like a "blind guitar picker, redneck sheriff, revival meetings, cotton-picking, fights in juke joints and the like." Having grown up in the American South, I can attest that blind guitar pickers, redneck sheriffs, revival meetings, cotton-picking and fights in juke joints are not so much caricatures as they are the actual stuff of everyday life. 

The story is great, and the music mixes old classics like "Good Rockin" Tonight," "Move It On Over" and "Why Don’t You Do Right" with stuff penned in more modern times. Having Gary Clark, Jr and Keb’ Mo on hand certainly doesn't hurt the soundtrack's street cred.

I ran across a recipe for a cocktail called Honeydripper, but there's no booze in it. What are they thinking? Since we are safely clear of Dry January, try Batch Mead, located in Temecula. It's honey wine. Their Smokin Hickory Barrel Aged Mead doesn't sound like it would get you into a fight in an Alabama roadhouse in 1950. Well, actually, it does. Try it anyway. 

Charlie Parker's brief life was directed for the big screen by Clint Eastwood. The biopic Bird showed the saxophonist's connection with his wife, Chan, and trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Red Rodney. Red and Bird were drug buddies of a sort, and the heroin no doubt contributed to Parker's fatal heart attack at the age of 34. As for Rodney, he lived to be 66, although he was plagued by heroin addiction, stroke and lung cancer for many of those years.

Despite the fantastic performance by Forest Whitaker as Parker, the movie stands as one of Eastwood's least successful films. It has a solid following these days, particularly among jazz fans. The soundtrack features re-recorded tracks with Parker's sax work extracted from original takes and cleaned up through the magic of modern audio technology. 

How can we not give at least a cursory glance to Jazz Cellars? They are in the Sierra Foothills village of Murphys, California, the town that needs to either drop the S or add an apostrophe. Their Grenache Rosé is a $24 bottle of Calaveras County grapes, jazzed up to a beautiful pinkish hue. 


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Monday, February 5, 2024

Too Big, Too Bold, Too Brawny: Bogle's Not-So-Essential Red

The Bogle family has farmed the California delta region for six generations, 50 years now in the effort of growing wine grapes. Like a lot of farming families in the area, they started out selling their fruit to others, then got wise and started turning their grapes into wine themselves. 

The 2020 Essential Red is a California red blend of four grapes: 53% Petite Sirah, 23% Syrah, 16% Teroldego and 8% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was aged for a full year in American oak barrels. Alcohol is right where one would expect it to be, 14.5%. Essential Red sells for $10 or less. The Bogle website suggests making a mulled wine of it. I am not a fan of such, but it does seem to be a good use for this bottle, as bold and brawny as it is. 

This wine is quite dark and quite aromatic. The nose would be fruit-forward if the oak spices weren't so strident. The big display shows dark fruit - plum, blackberry and black currant - carried along by a huge whiff of clove, cedar, tobacco, cardamom and several other occupants of the spice rack, I'm sure. The palate is similarly blessed, or handicapped, depending on your own view of oak treatment. The oak in this wine is heavy-handed and best suited for blunt-force trauma. That is disappointing, since I have long been a fan of Bogle's wines. I’ll stick with their other offerings in the future. 


Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Wine Country: Virginia - Jump Mountain Vineyard

The Now And Zin Wine Country series started in 2011, with Virginia wine. In the dozen years since then I have sampled wines from 46 states. The last four - Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming - have proven to be tough nuts to crack, for a variety of reasons. There are fewer opportunities in those states and shipping restrictions, to name two. I'll press on to find wines from those states, but when I get a chance to revisit a previous stop, I'll jump at the chance. Especially when it is Virginia. 

The Old Dominion State has 291 wineries, by Wine America's count. That's good enough for 6th place in the winery count. As far as wine production goes, Virginia lags a little farther behind, in eighth place. 

Jump Mountain Vineyard is in the unincorporated community of Rockbridge Baths, in the southwestern part of the Shenandoah Valley. They admit that the mountain they call Jump is really a sandstone knob, but it protects the estate which has soil and a microclimate that makes vinifera grapes want to grow. 

The 2019 Jump Mountain Vineyard Borderland Red Blend is from the Shenandoah Valley. The grapes are 50% Tannat, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc. They also grow Syrah, Grüner Veltliner and a handful of grapes with an Italian pedigree. Alcohol hits 13.5% abv and the retail price is $26. 

This wine is medium-dark in the glass. The nose provides plenty upon which to ruminate. There is red plum and raspberry abetted by a raft of spices: clove, nutmeg, allspice and anise among them. On the palate there is mainly raspberry and blueberry with enough oak spice to make things interesting but not enough to take over the show. Big tannins make the sip a bit raspy, but this wine is made for pairing with beef. 

The 2021 Jump Mountain Livia Italian Style Red Blend is made with an interesting array of Shenandoah Valley grapes. The blend is 60% Refosco, 20% Cabernet Franc, 15% Lagrein and 5% Sagrantino. Owners Mary Hughes and David Vermillion say the wine was named for Roman empress Livia Drusilla Augusta, who made public her love of the Refosco grape. Alcohol is a low 13% abv and the retail price is $26. 

This wine is a medium-dark garnet in color. Its nose suggests savory aspects of the red fruit which is present. There is a smokiness that hangs over the plum, cherry and raspberry aromas, with some oak spice thrown in for good measure. On the palate are big red fruit notes, but little of the oak influence detected on the sniff. It is a rustic wine, with tannins that lie waiting for a bolognese sauce or a plate of sausage and peppers.


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Friday, November 24, 2023

Blood Of The Vines - The Kids Aren't Alright

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 examine a few films featuring young folks who are operating outside the realm of accepted behavior. We have wines to pair with each. 

1981 was a good year for slasher movies. Stuff like Halloween II, Student Bodies and My Bloody Valentine still bring a nostalgic tear to my eye when I think of them. Which, to be honest, is not all that often. And it may have been my allergies, so never mind. 

Dead Kids is really an alias for Strange Behavior, the first New Zealand horror film. A small town's teens are being brutally slain while an undercover mind control experiment has some of them under the power of a control freak. The film was released to mixed reviews but it has acquired a bit of a cult following in the decades since.

The movie delivers what the title promises, and more. A medical procedure performed on a sensitive facial area is better than a stick in the eye in a horror film. Especially when it is a needle in the eye. That's almost as good as Marathon Man dental work. 

For Dead Kids, or Strange Behavior, or whatever you'd like to call it, let's have a bizarre wine. Not one made from snake venom, garlic, avocados or pumpkins. God no, not the pumpkin wine! I'm not drinking any @#$%& pumpkin wine!

Strange Family Vineyards is in the Sta. Rita Hills portion of Santa Barbara County. Besides having a, (ahem), strange name, they make some scary good Pinot Noir. 

In the 1967 British thriller, Our Mother's House, Mom dies and her brood of kids keep it a secret to avoid being parceled off to foster homes. They bury the dear old matriarch in the backyard and cash her monthly checks to keep what's left of the family afloat.

Does it sound far-fetched? Well, it happened in real life just recently when a San Diego woman decided to keep getting her dead mom's Social Security checks. Not to be a spoiler, but she is now celebrating Mother's Day in a federal penitentiary. 

The kids in Our Mother's House also have a deadbeat dad to contend with, but I'll tell you right now, that absentee father is in way over his head with these kids. If you want a nice, happy ending to this movie, sorry. That ship sailed early in the film. The children eventually do the only right thing left to them. Cheers!

Big House Wines gets its name from the nearby Soledad Correctional Facility. They are more attuned to bootlegging crimes, but you also might end up there if you bury mom in the backyard and keep cashing her checks. 

Children of the Damned is the 1964 followup to The Village of the Damned, which only stands to reason. The six young'uns in this one are definitely not alright. They all have highly advanced mental abilities, which separates them from all the other kids on Earth, as well as half of the adults. 

The "stare that will paralyze the will of the world," as the first movie's one-sheet called it, makes the kids do evil things. But are they really evil? The cavalry arrives just in time to spare the world from that stare.

How evil were the looks that kill? Evil enough to murder, evil enough to trick the authorities, evil enough to fill your fridge with White Zinfandel. Let's not go overboard on the evil thing, though. Evil Wine hails from Australia and is a $10 Cabernet Sauvignon. That certainly sounds evil, but the merchants claim it is actually a bargain.


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Wednesday, October 18, 2023

A Great Wine For A Great Cause

Just when I think I could swear off Cabernet Sauvignon forever, along comes a wine that makes me scrap that fateful decision. 

It's not that I don't like Cab, it's just that I want to try all the grapes. Whenever I have a Cab, I feel that I am missing out on discovering some grape that is new to me. Plus, so many people are shortsighted where grapes are concerned. Cabernet Sauvignon gets enough attention, in my humble opinion.

But, here comes the tantalizing siren. A sustainably farmed, single vineyard Cab from the place that was built on that grape: the Napa Valley. The 2021 J. Lohr Carol's Vineyard Cabernet is from the St. Helena appellation, within the famed valley. It was aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, a little more than half of which were new. Carol's Vineyard was named for Jerry Lohr's late wife, who fell victim to breast cancer more than a decade ago. Today, in her memory, each bottle of the namesake Cab which is sold makes a donation to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation. 

The vineyard contains gravelly, sandy loam soils which provide a great basis for the grapes. The wine carries alcohol at 14.5% abv and a retail price of $60. Red winemaker Brenden Wood says if you can hang onto it for a dozen or more years, you'll be well rewarded for your restraint.

This extremely dark wine is indigo in color. The nose features black fruit aromas, like blackberry, fig and plum. There are a ton of spices at work here, too, but in a very subtle way. Cinnamon, allspice, thyme and sage notes appear. The palate has some very firm tannins at work, while the black fruit shows itself again. The dark flavors align with the smells on the nose. This wine is a perfect mate for a juicy rib eye steak, or a nice pork chop hot off the grill. 


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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Bordeaux Grapes Via Israel

People who are looking for kosher wines should look into the lines offered by the Royal Wine Corporation. They import wines to the U.S. from all over the world and produce wines at their winery in Southern California. They have been in business for 175 years, dating back eight generations to their beginnings in Europe. Their wines are top quality, as I have found through tasting a number of their bottlings through the years.

Royal's Director of PR and Manager of Wine Education Gabriel Geller says that this year "brings an abundance of exciting releases to complement every course" of holiday meals.

Bin Nun is a new boutique Israeli winery. Winemakers Itzhak Lotan, Eddy Gandler and Danny Yaniv, under consulting winemaker Irit Boxer, work with grapes grown in well-drained clay loam soils above a limestone subsoil. Are you thinking of Bordeaux? So are they.

There is a quote from Benjamin Franklin on their website, in which he said that wine is proof that "God loves us, and loves to see us happy!" I like that thought.

The Bin Nun wines include Reserve ($39.99), Cuvée ($49.99), and Songs of Solomon ($79.99). Speaking of songs, they also have a strong connection with the world of jazz, with labels like Grappelli, Marsalis, Blue Note and Chanson. I was given a sample of the 2021 Bin Nun Judean Hills Reserve to try, which was made from 55% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, 37% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and 3% Petit Verdot. Aging took place in French oak barrels for 12 months. This $40 bottle carries alcohol at 14% abv, it is non-mevushal and kosher for Passover.

This wine definitely feels like BDX. It is dark, it smells of the earth and it tastes like the best of the world. Aromas of black fruit are joined on the nose by tar, tobacco, vanilla, clove and cedar. The palate is also dark, boasting blackberry, blackcurrant and coffee notes. The tannins are firm and the acidity is fresh. Try it with any steak from your grill. Or just sip it. Either way, you'll be happy. 


Wednesday, September 27, 2023

A Mondavi Wine We Can Drink Every Day

Mondavi - to a wine lover, the name connotes California. Headquartered in the Napa Valley, Robert Mondavi Winery stands as a beacon of what big time wine can be.  Mondavi wines usually command a high price, as high as nearly $300, but this 2021 Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon gives us a taste of Mondavi for less than ten bucks.

The California appellation on the label shows that there were more than one region from which the grapes came. The estate property in Napa Valley is famous for the quality fruit it produces, but they do source grapes from other well-respected growers along the California coast.

It is a dark purple wine, with a nose featuring ripe blackberries and cassis, vanilla, tar, cigar and clove. The palate is quite nice, with cherry, blueberry and raspberry flavors draped with a bit of oak spice and offering a silky set of tannins. I paired it with a rib eye and used it in my skillet mushrooms. The wife gave me a big thumbs up, so I know it worked. 


Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Organic And Naked Cabernet Sauvignon From Argentina

Mack and Schühle are Miami-based importers who find great wine and pass it along at a fair price. They produce wine in Italy and Spain and distribute other wines globally.

They also distribute Art of Earth, a global vintner which makes wine from organic vineyards the world over. Their line includes bottling from Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Argentina. They claim their wines are "true to their origins and winemaking traditions without the use of pesticides or herbicides."

The organic grapes for the 2021 Art of Earth Cabernet Sauvignon were raised and harvested in the central-east valley of Mendoza, Argentina. Winemaker David Gargantini vinified the wine in steel, and there was no oak aging. Alcohol sits at just 13% abv and the retail price is low, too, at only $12. 

The wine's color is medium dark. The nose is bright and fruity, full of ripe red raspberry, cassis and red vines. On the palate that fruit really shines, with no coloring from oak treatment. The tannins are quite firm and the acidity provides a fresh blast. A pairing with steak is okay, but this wine might be better suited to salmon, marinara or an earthy bean dish. 


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Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Bordeaux Grapes From Israel's Coolest Climate

Galilee is a highly respected wine region in Israel. Golan Heights Winery says it's the best area, and they also push their sub-region as tops. Well, it is the northernmost in the nation, and it is the coolest region. That is where the grapes for the 2022 Mount Hermon Red wine were grown. 

Golan Heights Winery's rocky volcanic soil, cool climate and high altitude estate yielded the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec grapes that went into the 2022 Hermon Mount Hermon Red Galilee. It is kosher for Passover, has alcohol at 14% abv and sells online for less than $20.

This wine is medium dark in the glass. It has a nose which puts ripe fruit up front, with cherry, raspberry and red currant dominating. Some spice rack is present, but oaky notes are not overwhelming here. Earthiness comes on in a co-starring role, however. Red fruit is the leader on the palate, too. There is a bit more oak influence in the flavor profile, but not to a great degree. Earth and mineral notes support the fresh, fruity aspect of the wine. Tannins are medium firm and the wine is very tasty and drinkable.


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Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Red Blend From The Holy Land

Wine from Israel isn’t just for Jewish holy days, but here is a kosher wine from the holy land.  Carmel Winery was founded in 1882 by Baron Edmond de Rothschild, who was the owner of Château Lafite in Bordeaux.   Carmel is now under the Royal Wine Company umbrella.  The winery covers a lot of land in Israel - more than 3,000 acres of vineyards in some of the country's prime growing regions: Carmel Mountains, Upper Galilee and Judean Hills.

The 2019 Carmel Private Collection Winemakers Blend is a 50/50 blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot made by Carmel's Chief Winemaker Yiftach Peretz. The wine aged for only eight months in French and American oak barrels, but it feels like a little more. The Winemakers Blend clicks 14% abv in alcohol and retails in the $15 range.

This wine is dark and offers up a nose of black cherry, cassis, licorice and a chalky, dusty note of earth. On the palate, the tannins bite a bit but the flavor is there. Dark red fruit leads the way with oak spice playing a minor role. There is a tingly acidity and the spicy finish is medium long. It is a serviceable wine, if not one to ruminate on very long.  


Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Wine From France Via Texas

Scout and Cellar sells the 2020 Mixtrack Rosé wine, and it is labeled as being from France. A company rep says Scout and Cellar makes their own wine, except when they don't. They find that it is cheaper to bring the wine from overseas than it is to ship the grapes. So, the Mixtrack Rosé is grown in Provence, imported by a San Francisco concern and bottled in Texas - the company's home base. This wine has really gotten around before you unscrew the cap.

The wine is a blend of 60% Cinsault, 30% Grenache and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. I have to assume that it was made in stainless steel tanks. The alcohol content is 12.8% abv and the retail sticker reads $27.

The back label spins a story of how disco was born in French nightclubs and adopted by audiences in the US. It's not a terribly great back story, if you ask me, and a connection to disco doesn't exactly make my socks roll up and down. Also, the term mixtrack should be mixtape, I believe. But now that they have all the labels printed… what the hell. Let's open it.

This wine colors up as a pretty pink in the glass. Aromas of strawberries - stems and all - are joined by melon and citrus notes. The palate shows a delicate representation of those fruits, with a healthy slap of acidity and minerality. The mouthfeel seems a little fuller than I would expect from Provence, but the weight plays well. The finish is bright and medium long. 


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Wednesday, June 21, 2023

A Roaring Good Paso Cab

Proprietors Georges and Daniel Daou, of DAOU Vineyards in Paso Robles, credit their mountain home with being able to "turn mere raindrops and roots into extraordinary wines—and into lasting relationships."

They say their terroir is a very rare soil, calcareous clay, the same type found in Saint-Émilion and the right bank of Bordeaux.  The limestone subsoil, they say, is perfect for growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux varieties.  They boast that it was exactly the soil they were looking for more than a decade ago when they searched around the world for their dream vineyard.

Now known as DAOU Mountain, the land rises to an elevation of 2,200 feet in the hills of the Adelaida District, on the west side of the Paso Robles AVA.  Georges wants to make it clear that he and his brother did not buy a winery - they bought dirt and brought in the passion to unlock its potential.  

That potential is realized in wines like their 2020 vintage of Soul of a Lion. This BDX-style bottling is made of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot. Alcohol is somewhat lofty, at 15.2 abv and the price is up there, too - $150.

This is a very dark wine, in appearance and aroma. The nose explodes with blackberry, blueberry, cassis, clove, tobacco and earth. The palate is mind-blowingly smooth. Blueberry leaps out first, followed by that wonderful chalky note found in Paso Cabs, then anise and other spices. The wine stops short of rustic and stays fully in the elegant region. Tannins are firm yet supple and the acidity is fresh. This is the 10th anniversary of Soul of a Lion, and some years will no doubt work their magic on it. I would love to taste this when the 20th anniversary rolls around. 


Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Mixing Wine And Fashion

The Donnafugata winery was founded in 1983 by Giacomo Rallo, but there were three generations of winemaking experience before him. A fifth is now helping to create quality wines from five estates of Sicily.

The winery is thrilled by their partnership with the fashion boutique Dolce & Gabbana. Donnafugata has no problem expanding their reach from wine into fashion, just as they have done with art and music.

The 2019 Donnafugata Dolce & Gabbana Tancredi was made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Nero d’Avola and Tannat grapes. The wine came from the Terre Siciliane IGT. Aging took place over 12 months in oak and three years in the bottle. Alcohol hits 14.2% abv and it retails for $48.

The wine is very dark. The nose is quite expressive, with bright blackberry and blueberry aromas drifting in and out of oak spice and wonderful notes of licorice, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. On the palate, dark fruit bursts forth, with notes of tobacco, spice and earth playing supporting roles. 


Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Terroir Reflected In Pure Paso Red Blend

As the name suggests, the 2020 Pure Paso Proprietary Red Blend from J. Lohr is made from all Paso Robles grapes. Anji Perry, J. Lohr's expert viticulturist and vineyard research director, cites the blend as 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 28% Petite Sirah, 5% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec and 1% Merlot.

Perry explains the mixture: "Savory varietal notes of Cabernet Sauvignon are layered with the dark fruit character of Petite Sirah. The bouquet of cocoa powder, caramel, and anise works in harmony with the black cherry fruit signature of this wine. Bright and focused on the palate, with a firm and appetizing finish."

The Cab came primarily from the Shotwell Vineyard in the slightly cooler El Pomar District. The Petite Sirah is from the warmer Estrella and San Miguel Districts. Aging took 18 months in American and French oak barrels. Alcohol is up there at 14.8% abv and the wine retails for $27.

This wine is very dark. It has a nose which connotes darkness as well. Aromas of black cherry lead the way with coffee notes - mocha and espresso - tagging along. The chalkiness which I find to be a hallmark of Paso Cabernet is there, although more subdued than it typically is. On the palate, that chalky atmosphere stops hiding. It is draped over black fruit with a meaty sensibility and a smoky backbeat. 


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Monday, April 24, 2023

Man Drinks Wine - For Dogs

The 2021 Bardog California Cabernet Sauvignon is dedicated to Man's Best Friend, otherwise known as the canine companions often found in bars and tasting rooms. Plenty of "bone-vivant" is promised on the label, and the winery puts their money where their four-footed friends are, donating to animal rescues across North America in a partnership with the Petfinder Foundation.

The Bardog wine was aged in new French oak barrels. Alcohol tips in at 13.5% abv and it retails for $12.50.

There is a medium-dark tint in the glass, while the nose displays red fruit - plums, raspberries - and a healthy dose of oak spice - clove, cinnamon, mocha - along with an herbal note of eucalyptus. The palate is fruit-forward enough to keep the oak at bay and there is a rustic chalkiness to the wine, which I find appealing.


Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Kosher Cab From Galilee

Israel's Carmel Winery has their Appellation series, wines produced from grapes grown in the Judean Hills, Galilee and Shomron. The label of the 2020 Carmel Appellation Cabernet Sauvignon from Galilee shows the likeness of an Israeli gazelle, endangered and indigenous to the Galilee.  Alcohol touches 14% abv while the price tag reads $25. The wine was aged a year in oak barrels.

The dark ruby kosher wine from Galilee has a nose which is rustic and earthy. Plum and other dark red fruit aromas abound, while spices show themselves well. The palate shows plenty of minerals and earth notes without crossing over into chalkiness. The finish is medium long. 


Wednesday, March 8, 2023

A Twist On The Super Tuscan Recipe

San Felice is an Italian wine estate situated a half hour from Siena, in the heart of the Chianti Classico region. Their flagship wine, Vigorello, has grown and matured along with the winery. It started off in 1968, as a 100% Sangiovese wine. It was the first wine from Tuscany to incorporate international wine grapes, making Vigorello the first Super Tuscan wine. 

Today, Vigorello is crafted from 35% Pugnitello grapes, 30% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot. Pugnitello is a grape native to Tuscany. Once thought to be Montepulciano, but DNA research showed that it is its own grape. Pugnitello languished almost forgotten for years before being resurrected by studies at the University of Florence. 

The grapes sprouted early in the 2018 vintage for San Felice. A warm March and April were followed by a rainy May and the usual mix of heat and showers for the summer. September brought about sunny days and cool nights, which helped the grapes along to their proper maturity.

The fruit was vinified and aged for 24 months in French oak barriques, then aged another eight months in the bottle. Alcohol tips 14% abv while the wine retails for around $60.

Vigorello is a dark wine, allowing almost no light to pass through it. The nose holds a savory shield over the fruit aromas of plum, blackberry and raspberry. The palate is a complete joy - full of dark fruit which is colored by a rustic earthiness. The wine isn’t afraid to flex its muscles. The tannins are firm, but fine. That, plus the refreshing acidity, makes for a wine which is literally made for the dinner table.


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