Showing posts with label Contra Costa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Contra Costa. Show all posts

Monday, June 19, 2017

Field Blend Carignane

A recent Brandlive virtual tasting featured the wines of Napa-based Onward Wines. They are what the PR department calls, "single-vineyard, site-driven wines crafted by one of the most exciting winemakers out there." They’re talking about Faith Armstrong-Foster, whose "mantra" is, "I could never make a wine I couldn’t afford to enjoy myself." She grew up in British Columbia, a good little Canadian girl who went to school every day in a tiny boat called - wait for it - the Onward.

Armstrong says her wines are site-driven, and she owes part of her success to the growers with whom she has partnered - Hawkeye Ranch, Cerise Vineyard, Capp Inn Ranch, Casa Roja Vineyard, Ledgewood Vineyard, Knox Vineyard and Babcock Vineyard. A smaller part of her success could probably be attributed to that little boat. Onward Wines was created in 2009 and she has another line, called Farmstrong.

Charles Communication, the PR folks who staged the virtual tasting, tweeted "Faith fell in love with #wine while shoveling a fermenter - that's #truelove for you."

Casa Roja Carignane from Contra Costa 2014

The grapes for the Casa Roja Carignane come from Contra Costa County, a field blend vineyard planted in the late 1800s and overseen today by Dan Gonsalves. It's mostly Carignane, but there's a smattering of Mourvèdre and Malvasia Nero grapes mixed in. The wine sells for $30.

This extremely dark wine is dark on the nose and on the palate as well. Aromas of black fruit and oaky spice meet flavors of the same style, with earthy mineral notes underneath. It is undeniably a fruity wine, despite the heft and brawn that it brings. Tannins are tall and toothy, so get that grill fired up and throw a ribeye on it.

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Message In A Bottle

Randall Grahm says the 2014 Old Telegram "is arguably the most interesting Old Telegram" he has made in years. He says he used a "very clever trick" he borrowed from the winemakers of Veneto - indoor air-drying the 100% Mourvèdre grapes for about four days, before foot-stomping them.

Grahm says even that length of time "results in a certain degree of concentration of flavor, sugar, and most significantly, a transformation of the stems of the clusters from green to brown, with the disappearance of green, stemmy flavors."

Old Telegram sells for $45 and 277 cases were produced. Alcohol is 13.9% abv. The grapes - Grahm likes to call the Mourvedre fruit Mataro -  hail from Contra Costa County's Del Barba Vineyard, 56 acres of vines at an average age of 73 years.

The extremely dark wine smells of black pepper, burnt cherries, licorice, meat and smoke. It's a beautiful nose. Savory squared. Flavors of dark fruit power over the earth and coffee and mint.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

One Wine Worth 1000 Stories

There seems to be one story in particular that stands behind 1000 Stories Wines.  It’s the story of America's heritage, what the company’s website calls "a heritage woven with one thousand stories, unique traditions, and a pioneering spirit."  The buffalo is the iconic imagery here, and Zinfandel is what’s in the bottle. Talk about heritage. Talk about pioneers.

The small batch Zinfandels are aged partially in charred bourbon barrels, which seems to be the new way of making the old way new. As far as heritage goes, pioneering winemaker Bob Blue says when he started out in the business he found it expedient and more cost-effective to buy old bourbon barrels instead of new oak containers.  Some of the barrels used to age this wine formerly housed bourbon for more than a dozen years.

The grapes in Batch 11, the 2014 blend I was given to sample, come from Mendocino, Dry Creek Valley, Lodi, Contra Costa and Colusa counties. It’s mainly Zinfandel, with some Mendocino Petite Sirah rounding it out. The wine stands at 15.5% abv and sells for under 20 bucks.

The 1000 Stories Zinfandel is very dark looking and smelling. And tasting, too. Plum and blackberry flavors get a savory working over from the bourbon barrels, but not as much as I had feared. Or hoped. I don't know which way to lean on this kind of oak influence. On the one hand, too much oak is bad. On the other, too much bourbon oak might be just enough. The savory streak plays through on the palate with a hint of that bourbon-laced oak pushing it along. There’s vanilla, pepper and leathery cherry as well.

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