Showing posts with label Marsanne. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Marsanne. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Great White Wine From Santa Barbara County

California wine négociant Cameron Hughes owns no vineyards and has no official winery.  He sniffs out good wine which has already been produced by established makers, then buys it on the down low with an agreement not to reveal the source.  He then sells the wine online through his wine club - he calls it a wineocracy - bringing top-shelf wines to lower-shelf wallets.  Hughes says he keeps prices low by removing the middlemen, the distributor and retailer through which store-bought wines must pass.

Lot 676 White Blend Santa Barbara County 2016

This beautiful white wine consists of 49% Roussanne grapes, 27% Viognier and 24% Marsanne.  The fruit was harvested "from one of California’s iconic producers of Rhône varietals … in cool climate vineyards bathed in cold coastal breezes from the Pacific Coast, whole cluster pressed, and barrel aged ... before blending."

Hughes says, "there might not be any wine producing region in California that delivers better value per dollar than Santa Barbara."  Alcohol sits at 14.3% abv and the wine sells for $14.  Roussanne is my favorite white grape, and if you can find one at twice that price, please let me know.

The wine's nose is very expressive and full of apricot, almonds, anise and Meyer lemon.  The mouthfeel is weighty and the acidity is medium-vibrant.  Flavors like stone fruit and citrus leads the way, while the Roussanne's notes of nuts and salinity are balanced by the floral aspect of the Viognier.  This is a versatile white wine for pairing with food.  It will be a hit on your holiday table.


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Friday, January 31, 2020

White Wines For Winter: Côtes du Rhône Blanc

White wines are not just for summers and salads.  There are rich, full-bodied whites which are bold and warming.  They also pair beautifully with winter dishes - root vegetables, stews and herbs like fennel go particularly well with a nice, well balanced Chardonnay, for example.  I find that whites aged in oak serve me better in the winter than unoaked wines.  In fact, oak makes a white wine feels like Christmas to me.  I prefer an easy touch on the wood, however. 

Famille Perrin Côtes du Rhône Réserve 2018

The Perrin family heads up a French winemaking company which includes the noted Château de Beaucastel of the Rhône Valley.  The grapes for this wine were picked from vines growing between the Ouvèze and Aigues rivers.  Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier fruit was vinified in stainless steel - no oak at all - to an alcohol level of 13% abv and it retails for about $12.

This white Rhône blend shows the Viognier best, all floral and citrusy.  The tart apple notes of the Grenache Blanc play off of the savory aspect of the Roussanne and Marsanne.  The palate is mineral-laden, with citrus, peach and pear appearing.  Nice acidity, too.  These are some great grapes, and they do not disappoint. 


Friday, December 30, 2016

French Vermentino - Rolle In The Rhône

This interesting white blend is from France’s Rhône Valley. Its composition is nearly equal parts Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Vermentino, and very small amounts of Marsanne and Clairette. Vermentino - called Rolle in the Rhône neck of the vineyards - is a grape better known as a denizen of Italy, but it works largely the same when it’s grown in the Costiere de Nimes AOC. The 2014 Chateau Mourgues du Gres Les Galets Dorés costs $8 by the glass and an astounding $29 by the bottle at L.A.'s Belle Vie. In a restaurant, that counts as a huge deal.

The wine takes its name from the stones - galet roulés - that were plentifully dropped of by glaciers eons ago. François and Anne Collard run the business and make the wine in a place that belonged to the Convent of the Ursulines before the French Revolution. François tells us that Mourgues means nuns, while grès means pebbles.

It looks pale gold in the glass. The nose is bright, with citrus, salinity and the smell of wet rocks. On the palate, big minerals. Stones. Zest. It brings everything you like in these two grapes.

At Belle Vie, I paired my glass of this beautiful wine with grilled octopus, one big tentacle curling around the plate. It was perfect.

It was so perfect that I decided to try one of the reds from the wine list afterward. The 2013 Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon from Côtes De Bourg AOC, Chateau Falfas, listed at $47 per bottle.

The grapes are vinified in stainless steel after bio-dynamic farming. Smoke comes through loud and clear, with various shades of dark fruit and big minerals. There's no oak in the way, so you get all the pure fruit that went into the bottle.


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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Eclectic Wine From Oregon's Applegate Valley

The unusual name of this Oregon label is a literary nod to James Fenimore Cooper's "The Last of the Mohicans," which does not refer to 2:00 a.m. in your favorite beach bar. That’s the last of the Mojitos, and it came along much later.

Cooper's hunter hero, Natty Bumppo, is also known as Hawkeye.  Further, he is also known as La Longue Carabine, or "the long rifle." He is from civilization, but prefers the wilds. He holds Indians as his closest companions, but has no Indian blood. He is eclectic, drawing from different cultures that which suits him best.

This wine also pulls disparate influences together in a fine blend. A whiff of Sicily disguises that southern Rhône feeling with the grape varieties showing the lawlessness of the frontier. The wild-eyed mix has roughly equal parts Vermentino, Viognier and Marsanne, with a swish of Roussanne thrown in.

from Michael Mann's "The Last of the Mohicans"
Troon general manager Craig Camp calls the cofermented wine "exotic," and says the grapes find "their distinctive highlights in the expansive aromatics and rich texture." And it’s all from Applegate Valley, Troon Vineyard and Oregon. It has only 12.5% abv and sells for $34 at their tasting rooms.

The 2014 Troon Blue Label Longue Carabine, Applegate Valley is an appealing, golden straw colored wine that offers a great white wine nose of honeyed apricot, Meyer lemon and stones in a stream. The minerality of southern Oregon comes through strongly on the palate, and the acidity is positively bracing. There is a hint of the seashore in this wine, unusual since it grew near the mountains, not the coast. The finish is crisp and juicy. The grapes perfectly display the civilization of their heritage against the wildness of their home.


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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer Wine: Bonny Doon Vin Gris De Cigare

Summer is generally considered rosé time, although I have noted - many times before - that it will serve us well any time of year. I always say the best day of the year for a nice, dry, pink wine is the day after Thanksgiving. It's a perfect pairing with those leftover turkey sandwiches after hitting the Black Friday sales or watching a few of the dozen or so college football games with a salami and a cheese ball.

The Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare is a perennial favorite, always delightful and elegant, always a Randall Grahm-sized slice of Rhônicity that's pretty in pink.

The '14 Vin Gris de Cigare is made from eight different Rhône grape varieties of the Central Coast - 35% Grenache, 18% Mourvèdre, 16% Grenache Blanc, 12.5% Roussanne, 8% Carignane, 8% Cinsaut, 1.5% Marsanne - whew - and 1% Counoise. This rosé has a 13% abv number and sells for $18. The iconic label art by Chuck House recalls the red and white relatives of this pink Cigare.

This wine is a very pale pink, like the inside of a sea shell. There is a fair amount of salinity to go along with that shoreline appearance, too. A nose of strawberries and cherries has just a slight green quality to it, while the acidity-fresh palate shows red fruit in a salty, earthy setting. A perfect match for anything from the sea - it's elegant, it's complex, it's refreshing and I'm doon with it.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wine Country Illinois: Lynfred Winery

The Now And Zin Wine Country series is an attempt to taste 50 wines from 50 states.  Wine is produced in each of the United States, and my mission has led me to try wine from 34 states so far.  The series has been to Illinois before, and now we are kicking off the new year with a return visit to the Land o’ Lincoln for some more Illinois wine.

Lynfred Winery is in Roselle, Illinois, in the northeastern corner of the state, a little west of Chicago and a little south of Wisconsin.  Winemaker Andrés Basso works with grapes not only from Illinois, but also fruit from California, Washington and Michigan.

Lynfred’s late founder, former restaurateur Fred Koehler, started making wine at home with his wife Lynn.  The winery calls his interest in wine “a hobby that got out of hand.”  The winery was made official in the 1970s and the awards started rolling in soon after.  No less than Robert Mondavi told Koehler he should get out of Illinois and move to California.  Koehler decided to stay with his roots.

Lynfred Winery Vin De City White,  $10

Billed as American White Table Wine, Vin De City White is a non-vintage wine made from five grape varieties - 32% Viognier, 28% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Grigio, 9% Marsanne and 8% Roussanne.  The wine is made in Illinois, but it is made from grapes grown in California and Washington.  It is aged in stainless steel for six to eight months and has a 12.5% abv number that keeps the alcohol under control.  Bottled under a natural cork, the label sports a beautiful portrait of the Chicago skyline.

The wine has a light, straw color and a very aromatic nose, both floral and fruity.  Aromas of ripe peaches and apricots mix with honeysuckle.  The flavor profile brings great fruit - apricots, apples, white nectarines - laced with an earthy undercurrent.  A vibrant acidity makes it a refreshing and food-friendly wine.

Lynfred Winery American Sangiovese Reserve 2009  $30

This 100% Sangiovese wine also utilizes grapes not grown in Illinois - they are a product of Jones Vineyard in Washington.  This wine has seen a lot of oak, 30 months worth of American and French oak.  Bottled under natural cork, the alcohol content is 13.9% abv.  It is labeled as “for sale in Illinois only,” which may be due to a state restriction on the use of out-of-state grapes.

Lynfred’s Sangiovese is very dark in color and quite aromatic.  Minty notes of clove, cinnamon and black cherry decorate the nose, while the palate shows every bit of those 30 months of oak.  A large overlay of cedar accompanies the cherry and red berry  flavor.  The acidity is great and the tannins are firm, which led me to pair some food with it.  My holiday snack of seaside cheddar from Whole Foods, Gorgonzola crackers from Trader Joe's and  beef summer sausage from Hickory Farms married with this wine quite well.


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Monday, January 14, 2013

Another Wine Surprise From Trader Joe's Bargain Rack


I keep tasting Trader Joe’s wines that are made in Santa Maria, and I keep finding them to be excellent wines for the price point.  Comique Révolution 2010 is another that exceeded my expectations.

Produced by Santa Maria’s Central Coast Wine Warehouse - an outfit now known as Central Coast Wine Services which produces other wines available at Trader Joe’s - I gave it a try based solely on the attraction of the name “Santa Maria.”  It’s one of my favorite wine locales in California’s Central Coast.  I don’t know that the grapes are sourced there, but it does bear the mark of the Central Coast AVA.

There is very little of value on the label - just some prose and tasting notes.  The wine carries an alcohol content of 14.2% and sells at Trader Joe’s for five dollars.

The label has no information on the grape varieties used, but the Trader Joe website tells me this is a southern Rhône blend of Roussanne, Viognier, Grenache Blanc and Marsanne - grapes I don’t expect in a wine that sells at this price.  the website also mentions in a roundabout way that the Central Coast Wine Warehouse is a collective of grape growers turned winemakers.  Steve, Nicholas and Marshall Miller are the owners, while Chris Brown is the director of winemaking.

The wine’s color is a pale yellow, and the bouquet is quite inviting.  Aromas of white flowers, peaches and tropical fruit are pleasant, if not terribly forceful.  On the palate, the wine shows medium weight and bright, fresh acidity.  There are flavors of stone fruit, but the taste is centered around a vibrant minerality.  Earthy, nutty tones are at the forefront, while spices and citrus peel dart in and out during the sip.  I guess the spice is a result of oak treatment, although I could not find any technical sheet to confirm that.

As I have said before about wines of this type, it’s not knocking anybody off their feet.  But spending half a sawbuck for wine that delivers what this one does is what I call a good deal.


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Friday, September 21, 2012

California Wines Road Trip Tasting Event


Wine country is not a long drive from Los Angeles.  In Southern California, though, drives have a way of becoming long even when they aren't supposed to be.

Wine Institute staged a wine tasting event on September 6, 2012, that left the driving to the wineries.  The California Wine Road Trip tasting event brought the wines to Los Angeles.  Actually, to the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.  The Verandah Room - with its part outside, part inside design - is a great place for a wine tasting event, even on a hot and muggy afternoon.

Different California wine regions were laid out at their own tables, so one could get a glimpse of a whole region while standing still.  Here are some highlights from my own tasting notes.

Lake County
Rosa D'Oro Vineyards Aglianico 2010 - A big, earthy, funky nose shows strong minerality.  Great flavors of red fruit, candy finish and firm but smooth tannins.

Six Sigma Ranch Tempranillo 2008 - Tastes cherry delicious, with great acidity.  Nice touch with the oak spice.

Livermore Valley

Fenestra Winery Pinot Gris 2010 - Earthy peach aromas, with minerals shading the fruit on the palate.  Good acidity.  Really nice touch of oak.

Mitchell Katz Winery Sangiovese 2010 - Smokey, rosy cherries all over the place.  Great acidity.

Steven Kent Winery Lineage 2009 - A blend of Bordeaux grapes from the east end of Livermore Valley.  Big fruit, very smooth, tart finish lasts forever.  Steven Kent Mirassou said he had been on the road for several days, and the wine was just beginning to show like he wanted it to.  It was showing very well.

Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay 2010 - Pears, melons and apples.  Oak just right. Great acid.  100 year-old vines.  Wente claims to have done the first bottled Chardonnay in California.

Lodi

McCay Cellars Rosé 2011 - Carignane is the heart of this rosé.  It's not done in the saignée method, where the juice is bled off in the making of a red wine.  This is intended to be rosé all the way.  The Carignane is picked from an old field blend vineyard where the grapes were conveniently laid in rows, more or less.  Some Grenache, which imparts a bright cherry flavor, comes from a different vineyard.  Michael McCay talked about micro climates and how the ocean cools an area 60 miles inland with breezes through the delta.
One of my favorite wines of the event.

Peltier Station Winery hy.brid Vermentino 2011 - Notes of the earth rather than the ocean, as is found in the Italian version of the grape. Nice acid, minerals.

Monterey

Bernardus Winery Fairview Pinot Noir 2009 - From Fairview Vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Subtle tannins.

Paso Robles

Austin Hope Wines Grenache 2010 - Brilliant fruit and acidity.

Justin Vineyards Icosoles 2009 - Extremely fruity nose, big dark fruit flavors and great tannins. Steak, please.

Villa Creek Cellars Rosé -  Grenache, Counoise, Mourvedre and Roussanne combine for a smooth and refreshing wine. The acidity comes on the finish.

Tablas Creek Vineyard Cotes de Tablas Blanc 2010 - Fantastic minerals and salinity from a four-grape blend: Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne.

San Luis Obispo County

Tangent Winery Albarino 2011 - Great floral nose.

Zocker Winery Gruner Veltliner 2011 - Floral meets mineral on the nose, more minerals on the palate.  Acidity really zips.

Saucelito Canyon Vineyard and Winery Cotes de Blanc 2011 - Roussanne, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc blend shows big minerals.

Santa Barbara County

Brewer-Clifton Chardonnay 2010 - Great, smokey oak bouquet, fruit forward and brilliant acidity. What more do you want?

Buttonwood Farm Winery Cabernet Franc 2009 - Beautiful red fruit and great acidity.

Foxen Winery Syrah 2010 - Great Rhone funk shows on the nose.  Dark fruit, nice grip and a fabulous finish.

Margerum Wines M5 2009 - Doug Margerum adds Counoise and Cinsault to the standard GSM mix and gets an herbal wave over red fruit on the nose, with a tart edge to the flavors and extremely nice acidity.  Huge tannins: beware the brawn!

Temecula

South Coast Winery GVR - Grenache Blanc, Viognier and Roussanne combine in a tasty mash up of flowers and nuts.  It's mostly stainless steel, with just a small portion of the Viognier fermented in oak.  Really refreshing.

Palumbo Family Vineyards Merlot 2009 - A 100% varietal wine this 2009 effort shows smokey roses on the nose, with earth and cherry cola flavors.  The tannins and acidity are fantastic.


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Monday, September 26, 2011

TREANA WHITE 2008


Treana White

The Hope family has a 30-year track record growing grapes and making wine in Paso Robles, California, in the big Central Coast region.  They go a little farther north, though, for the grapes which make up theirTreana White.

The Rhone varieties which make up Treana White - 55% Marsanne and 45% Viognier - come from Monterey County.  The Mer Soleil Vineyard is in the northern end of the Santa Lucia Highlands, close to Monterey Bay and the cool growing conditions which provide a great place for them to reach their peak.

Since it's a winery in a warmer, more southern area reaching northward for grapes, it's fitting that the blend pairs grapes that figure prominently in the northern Rhone Valley - Viognier - and the southern Rhone - Marsanne.

The grapes are whole-cluster pressed and fermented in French oak, except for a small portion that is fermented in a stainless steel tank.  The alcohol level is 14.5%.

Proprietor Charles L. Hope and winemaker Austin Hope are identified on the label by name and signature.  They can be proud to have their names displayed there.

The color is beautifully golden, with hints of copper showing at times.  After admiring the hue for some time, I put my nose in the glass and was struck by the incredibly aromatic nose of the wine.  The tropical fruit aroma tries to fight its way past the honey-laden dried apricot.  The honey aspect is almost mead-like in its intensity. 

The wine looks quite viscous in the glass, clinging to the side on the swirl while slowly receding after.  It feels viscous in my mouth, too.  An oily texture gives way to a shimmering acidity.  The flavors are complex, with first that dried apricot, then dried pineapple, then a slightly savory flavor fades into an acidity which intensifies on the finish.

I’ve had this wine a few times at tasting events - and was duly impressed.  Having an entire glass really underscores how much is missed by simply having a small taste.  The wine provides a new sensation with each sip.

It’s a big wine - big aromas, big flavors and big use of oak.  If you like a noticeable effect of wood in your wine, this won’t disappoint.  My palate tends to extremes.  When I want less oak, I want unoaked.  When I want oak, I want a tree.  This wine doesn’t fall too far from the tree.


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Saturday, November 20, 2010

BRIDLEWOOD CENTRAL COAST RESERVE VIOGNIER 2008


Bridlewood Viognier

Although Italian food calls for Italian wine, Denise and I knew we'd be waiting a few minutes for Guido, so I decided to break tradition and go with a good old Central Coast white as a pre-meal refresher.

Sprazzo - on Westwood Boulevard in Los Angeles - has a good, but not great, wine list.  It does have its high points, though.  One of those highlights is the Bridlewood Viognier.

Winemaker David Hopkins blended several different lots of grapes from Central Coast vineyards for this lush wine.  Destemmed grapes - 90% Viognier, 4% Chardonnay, 4% Marsanne and 2% Roussanne - are fermented and aged in stainless steel, so it's fresh, clean and crisp.  The alcohol content is 14.2% abv.

This Viognier is very pale, with a greenish tint.  Matching that hue are aromas of limes and a slight grassiness on the nose.  There's quite a floral element, too.

The mouthfeel is full and creamy - it just feels delicious - and there's a wonderful acidity, which seems downplayed at first but comes on stronger at the finish.  Soft flavors of grapefruit and a citrus zestiness give the wine a very refreshing character.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Napa Rose - In The Lounge


A recent visit to Napa Rose at the Disneyland/California Adventure complex was quite enjoyable, despite the fact that we came without a reservation and had to sit in the lounge area. It turned out to be perfect, as we really weren't all that hungry anyway. In the lounge you can order any of the salads or appetizers from the menu. Perfect, since that's what we wanted. The wines, as expected, were outstanding. I tried a pair.

Domaine Tempier Blanc, Bandol, France 2007 This is a very nice wine! The white wines of Bandol take such a backseat to the reds, they are practically in the trunk. Only about 5% of the grapes in Bandol are white wine grapes. Pale golden in the glass, the nose has tons of minerals along with citrus and grassy aromas. It feels full in the mouth with a great acidity. Some pear and citrus come across on the palate, but it it dominated by the minerality. Enjoy a nice, long finish. It's an interesting blend of 58% Clairette, 19% Ugni Blanc, 19% Bourboulenc, 4% Marsanne. Excellent with seared scallops.

Dry Creek Chenin Blanc 2007 From an area where they really know how to make a great white wine, this namesake winery in Dry Creek Valley does a great job with Chenin Blanc. Aromas of honeysuckle and tropical fruit capture the nose. The pale wine is crisp and refreshing, with flavors of tart apple and melon. The acidity is great, perfect for food, and the finish is pleasing.

My wife and I enjoy the appetizers-in-the-lounge experience so much, that's where we've been found on our last few visits to Napa Rose. If you are really hungry, though, you should opt for the dining area where you can order entrees.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Madam Preston Grape Wine


The Bottle: An unusual shape gives this clear specialty bottle a distinctive look. And a distinctive wine it is - as I will cover in a moment. Preston is an organic family farm in the Dry Creek Valley appellation of Sonoma County. Grapes are just one crop they produce. The wine they make from it, I must admit, does not strike me as "right up my alley," based on my sampling in their tasting room. This wine, however, made an impression on me. It's a white Rhone blend, I believe of Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier. The abv is 14.2%. It seems to be a non-vintage.

The Nose: There's a very fragrant nose, with flowers and a sweet honey component. I pick up traces of wet rocks, too.

The Taste: The fruit is quite subdued, very French tasting in the mouth. There's a good bit of minerality and a sort of nutty flavor that lurks in the finish. A bit of oak gives the wine a lot of character. The structure is quite nice, with a good backbone that will make this wine a friend to food. I will try it with pasta. I would guess mushrooms would go well. I had it with Hook's 12-year cheddar and it was sublime.