Showing posts with label Central Valley. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Central Valley. Show all posts

Monday, May 29, 2023

Scouting Around For A Good Rosé

Every now and then, the wine world reveals a surprise to us. The bottle of rosé I opened boasted nothing more than a "California" appellation on the front label. That is usually a red flag indicating that the grapes were grown in subpar regions. On the back label, though, was a note that it was bottled in Santa Maria, CA. That happens to be one of my favorite growing regions in the state. I let my hopes get up. 

Scout Wild Rosé was founded by former lawyer Sarah Shadonix out of North Texas. Scout Wild Wines is located in Santa Maria. The wine tastes so good that I just knew there were Santa Maria grapes in there - I just knew it.

A bit of research revealed that the grapes were - as the label touts - sustainably grown, vegan friendly and gluten free. They were harvested from a place called L&P Ranch - which I could not locate - and Joe Soghomonion Farms, of Fresno. 

It was a downer to find that this wine was made from Central Valley grapes, only because I like to think I can make deductions about wines like the big sommeliers do. At least I pinpointed one of the grapes - the wine is 48% Grenache. The 48% portion of Merlot escaped me completely and the 4% splash of Valdiguié - which they call Napa Gamay - never entered my mind. Alcohol rests at 13.9% abv and it sells for $19.

This wine is a pretty light pink in the glass and has a nose which shows ripe red strawberries and cherries. A slight savory note floats in and out on the sniff. The palate is delicious - full of bright fruit - and has a bit of heft to it, along with a good slap of minerality.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Wine Aged In Bourbon Barrels - Exitus

Bourbon is hot right now.  Meininger's reports that bourbon sales have tripled in the past two decades, and most of that growth has been in the premium and super-premium areas, the "can’t afford it" shelf.  Robert Joseph writes in the article about what he calls the bourbonization of wine, red wines aged in whiskey barrels that started hitting the store shelves about four years back.  It started as a boutique move, but now all the big producers are selling a wine that's been aged in whiskey barrels.

Bourbonized wine is usually high in alcohol - 15% or so - and marked by the rich caramel notes found in bourbon.  But some wine know-it-alls say, if you want bourbon, why don’t you just drink bourbon?  It could be that a new market segment is getting attention here, people who really like the effect of bourbon but can't, or don't want to, tolerate an 80-proof beverage.

I don't know why a wine company would name their product after the inevitable end of a terminal disease, but here we are: Exitus.  The say their bourbon-barrel aged juice is an "answer to the monotony of boring, forgettable wines," crafted for the "adventurous drinker."  They're right.

Exitus is made from a blend of Zinfandel, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah and Merlot grapes which are vinified in stainless steel, then aged three months in bourbon barrels. It's really a wonderful idea, because there are those among us who believe three months of oak aging is plenty.  This wine hits high in alcohol, at 15.9% abv, and hails from Parlier, in California's Fresno County.  Fresno is in the heart of the Central Valley and is more known for raisins than wine grapes.

This red blend smells not too heavily of the Kentucky Bourbon barrels that are billed as the difference-maker.  The aroma is there, but ripe, deep red fruit claims center stage.  The aromatic notes of leather, vanilla, caramel and chocolate are noticeable, but they play supporting roles.  On the palate, there's a hint of bourbon, but it's not overplayed at all.  The wine is big - let’s not undersell it, it's huge - but it's a fun drink if you're into that trip.

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Monday, October 17, 2011


Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc

A lunchtime stop at Wood Ranch in Los Angeles seemed like a good time to try a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.  This Wood Ranch location is either in The Grove or the Farmer's Market.  It's hard to tell, as it lies between the two shopping meccas at 3rd and Fairfax.  It might be neither, but it's certainly not both.  At any rate, the parking validation policy is no help - the restaurant doesn't kick in for the parking cost at either place, so I guess I'll stop complaining and enjoy the wine.

The Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc is produced in the Rapel Valley of Chile's Central Valley region.  The Lapostolle winery is owned by the Marnier Lapostolle family, the fine folks who bring you Grand Marnier liqueur.  In addition to their spirits, they have been producing wine in the Loire Valley for a number of years.  The family bought into this Chilean winery in 1994.  The vines of the estate are apparently quite old, having been brought from France in pre-phylloxera days.  The Sauvignon Blanc cost $8 by the glass.  Plus parking.  Grrr.

A pale green tint emanates from the glass and the nose gives a gentle grassiness with minerals and wet rocks - rather like rainfall on the pavement of an expensive parking lot - joining peach and citrus aromas.  The acidity is refreshing, but the wine feels full in my mouth - almost creamy, in fact.  Soft lemon and lime flavors take on am essence of custard, or key lime pie.

It's a great match for the fantastic clam chowder at Wood Ranch.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

181 Merlot 2007

The 181 Merlot clone has thrived in the red clay soil of Bordeaux's Pomerol region.  Now we find that the red clay soil of the Clay Station Vineyard in Lodi is producing some excellent Merlot from that clone.  Rich in minerals that have drained from the Sierras, Lodi's soil is said to be near-perfect for growing this transplant.

On a Saturday afternoon visit to The Den on L.A.'s Sunset Boulevard, I tried a glass to see what all the fuss was about.  It's about a luscious nose, an explosive palate and an earthy quality that would have Merlot-hater Miles Raymond taking a second sip. 

Big black cherry flavors abound, along with some nice smokey vanilla and cedarbox notes and a hint or two of cassis.  The backbone is great and the finish lingers long.  It's got a lot going for it, especially considering the price tag is barely over $10 a bottle in some places.

Winemaker:  181 Wine Cellars
Variety:  Merlot
Appellation:  California > Central Valley > Lodi
Vineyard:  Clay Station
Vintage:  2007
Price:  $8/glass
Acquisition disclaimer:  Purchased by the author, by the glass