Showing posts with label Twitter tasting event. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Twitter tasting event. Show all posts

Monday, June 13, 2016

Chardonnay Wine In Chablis: Petit Chablis

How many times have I heard someone ask, "What kind of grape is Chablis?" It has happened more often than a wine nerd might think. It's almost as common as confusing "sparkling wine" with "Champagne," and right along the same lines, although nobody has ever asked me what kind of grape Champagne is. As long as it tickles the nose, what do they care?

Chablis, of course, is a region in France’s Burgundy wine region. Chablis wine is made with the Chardonnay grape. In America we call that "white wine." Or, at least, some of us do.

The biggest hurdle most introductory wine drinkers have to clear is understanding all the nuances, like the fact that French wine is labeled by region, not grape. Chablis is Chardonnay, you just sound a lot more continental when ordering it that way.

A recent Twitter gathering of Chablis lovers took place, with some wine writers invited to join in the fun with samples provided. I was there. The four samples were all consistently good examples of what Chardonnay, er, Chablis can offer. I don't know if you can really go wrong by simply ordering "Chablis," with no other information given. If you have had trouble in that area, I'd love to know about it. My thoughts on the wines follow comments from some of the other participants.

One Twitter Taster branded Chablis as, "Wonderful elegant white wines from France," which the Chablis people must be happy with. Another posted that "most people in the "ABC Club" usually find their way out by way of #Chablis," referring to the blinkered "Anything But Chardonnay" crowd. What’s good about it and why? "Nowhere else produces Chardonnay like Chablis: vines grow on prehistoric sea, w/ saline geology."

The cool climate in this northern neck of the Bourgogne woods also has a lot to with it. The Chardonnay comes out leaner, steelier, flintier than a big, ripe California Chardonnay.  As one Tweeter put it, "#Chablis is the essence of terroir."

Chablis, owing to its fresh acidity and flinty flavor profile, is a great wine to have with brunch. Have it with breakfast if you want, I’m not going to judge. It pairs great with eggs and croissants, in addition to the usual shellfish and sushi. Try it with guacamole and chips. Your football Sunday will never be the same.

Petit Chablis, Domaine Vincent Dampt, 2015

Petit Chablis is an appellation within the Chablis region. An incredibly golden hue is a delight to look at, but quit looking and pour. The nose is great, full of minerals and citrus and an earthy sense that underlies it all. The palate is full of apples and lemons. An earthy streak rides from the front to the finish, the acidity is very refreshing and the mouthfeel is full and round. This is a great Caesar salad wine, or with pasta primavera. On Twitter, comments like this one summed up the wine: "loved it, drank it, did not spit it out. Light and minerally, brisk and ethereal!"

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Holiday Wines At Whole Foods Market: Sophora Sparkling Cuvée

Whole Foods Market used social media recently to help celebrate wines from New Zealand, the chain’s fall spotlight in the wine department.  In a pair of virtual tasting events held on Twitter, tasters were invited to chime in with their impressions on the wines using the hashtag #WFMwine.  Here is what some of the participants thought about the Sophora Sparkling Cuvée:

@nzwineusa expressed a thought that resonated with many: “always a fan of going back for more bubbles.”  In fact, @MattMcGinnis tweeted, “Yeasty and full of ripe pear. We had to pour a second glass. Yum.”  For @WineHarlots, a favorite pairing came to mind:  “I love fish & chips with sparkling wine.”  The tasters taking part at @WFMFlorida thought “the Sophora Sparkling Wine is stealing the show tonight,” while @cloulew advised us all to “Stock up for the holidays. The bottle is beautiful.”

@wowaustin claimed, “The Sophora was def a fave here, even w/o sabering.”  This came in response to @DeniseClarkeTX’s boast of sabering the bottle open using a kitchen utensil.  Sabering, by the way, is a wine-related party trick which you can check out here.  You may want a handful of disclaimers to go along with the video - “Don’t try this at home,” “sabered by a professional using an actual sword” or “your mileage may vary.”

I shared my Sophora with friends Guido and Tina, who had invited us over for dinner.  They seemed to enjoy the festive bubbly, although they did not gush forth with tasting notes for me.  Not being wine-obsessed, like me, they had somewhat reserved reactions.  Tina liked the flavor, Guido liked the sweetness level.  I liked the fact that it gave a great start to a lovely evening of food, drink and conversation.

Sophora’s golden tint and big bubbles are certainly festive enough, and the fruity nose of pear, citrus and bread was a hit with all.  That big, yeasty, bready sensation continues to dazzle on the palate.  The creamy mouthfeel makes it seem very rich.  It's a blend of Chardonnay (52%) and Pinot Noir (48%) so its resemblance to Champagne is a fairly close one.  Since the holidays are just about to come barreling down the tracks at us, you may want to keep this one in mind for seasonal entertaining.  At $15, you can start a few parties of your own without too big a bite from your wallet.

Whole Foods’ wine department - they call them the Wine Guys - recommends pairings this sparkler with Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue cheese, French toast, bacon-wrapped figs, hazelnut shortbread, eggs Benedict and Baked Cranberry-Walnut French Toast.  It makes a heck of a mimosa, too.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Finger Lakes Riesling: Heron Hill Winery

Few wine regions know how to get a Twitter conversation going like New York's Finger Lakes AVA.  The Finger Lakes Wine Alliance recently celebrated the launch of the 2013 vintage of Finger Lakes Rieslings through a social media gathering.  The group claims as their own the title of, "North America's premier cool-climate wine growing region."  It's probable that only other North American wine growing regions would offer an argument.  Even so, it would just be sour grapes.

The Finger Lakes region is south of Lake Ontario, in central New York.  The glacier-sculpted lakes, great microclimates and talented winemakers make a wide variety of vitis vinifera wines, but the FLX is best known for its Rieslings.

On Twitter, it was a Riesling love fest.  @GrapeBelt tweeted, "Time to spread the Good News: #FLXRiesling is a major player, here to stay!"  @ilove2drinkwine not only likes the wine, but the lower alcohol content of Rieslings: "One great thing about #FLXRiesling? Had about 8 glasses by the time I was done last night -- #NoHangoverForMe."  You can view the entire Twitter conversation as it happened here.

Heron Hill Winery 2013 Classic Dry Riesling

Noted wine expert Janis Robinson wrote recently that "Riesling can transmit terroir more sensitively than any white wine grape I know, making it truly the counterpart of the Pinot Noir that is so often grown alongside it."  However, she fears its powerful nature and schizophrenic sugar content are keeping bottles dusty in your local wine emporium.  She does note that Riesling has become "the signature grape variety of the Finger Lakes." 

Heron Hill Winery overlooks lovely Keuka Lake, as it has for over 35 years.  Their 17,000-case production makes them a fairly large player in the Finger Lakes wine scene.  The winery facility is built into the side of the hill, so gravity feeds the juice through the winemaking process instead of pumping.  

Winemaker Bernard Cannac was born and raised in Languedoc, so it is fitting that he is up to his elbows in grapes.  He oversees the production of the estate wines from Keuka Lake as well the Ingle family's other estate, on the west side of Canandaigua Lake.  Wouldn't you love to be able to say, "My other estate?"  Sustainable farming and harvesting by hand are all in a day's work for Cannac and crew.

The '13 Heron Hill Classic Dry Riesling is made from four different lots of grapes - 13% Keuka Lake estate, 68% Seneca Lake, 16% Cayuga Lake, 3% Skaneateles Lake.  I asked for help from a local on the pronunciation of that last lake, and I was told it's "Skinny-Atlas."  I'm glad I asked for help.
The lots are fermented separately, then blended together.  Alcohol is 12% abv and residual sugar is a low 0.23%.

The Heron Hill looks pretty - tinted golden yellow - and smells even prettier.  Peaches and lemon aromas are bolstered by minerals and an herbal note.  The flavor side of the ledger sheet tallies plenty of green apple, citrus and a slight hint of apricot.  There's a citrus/savory finish which lasts for days.  The folks at Heron Hill say to pair it with something that has bite to it, like spicy Thai food, Asiago cheese or horseradish.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Whole Foods Shows Off New Zealand Wines: Wairau River

Whole Foods Market is celebrating wines from New Zealand this fall, and they are taking to social media to alert the wine-loving public.  There is a virtual tasting event set - one occurred in mid-September - for Thursday October 9, 2014 from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. CT.

To participate in a virtual tasting event, get the wines at a Whole Foods Market near you, take them home, log onto Twitter and stay ready with the hashtag: #WFMwine.  Using the hashtag in your tweets will channel your comments into the stream with everyone else's.  We always have so much fun that way!  To follow along, set up a search for #WFMwine and save it.  It's very easy to keep in the flow that way.

One of the wines featured in the September event was the Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc 2013.

Wairau River Family Estate Wines is one of the largest independent wine producers in Marlborough, on New Zealand's South Island.  It has been a family operation since Phil and Chris Rose got the kegs rolling in 1978.  The Rose family has enough members to start a small town, and Sauvignon Blanc is their flagship wine.  They also produce Pinot Gris, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The grapes for this Sauvignon Blanc grew on some of the oldest vines on the Wairau River estate, planted in 1983.  The alcohol is a very moderate 13% abv and it retails at Whole Foods for  $17.  The winemaker notes that it does not have to be consumed immediately - it will cellar well for two to three years.

This is real New World Sauvignon Blanc, with a grassy, grapefruity overlay on the nose that allows aromas of pineapple and lemon-lime to come forward.  In a word, sensational.  The sip does not disappoint, as the palate shows extremely bright acidity and a fresh-as-a-daisy mouthfeel.  Clean and crisp all the way to the finish, flavors of green apples and grapefruits get a tropical twist.  As it happens so often with this variety, a bit of springtime escapes when you unscrew the cap.

Whole Foods advises pairing this with seafood enchiladas - which sounds really good - and fennel salad.  On the label, the winery suggests that it is "best savored with high-jinks and convivial company."  Any type of seafood will swim up the Wairau River for this Sauvignon Blanc.

On Twitter, @WholeFoods kicked things off with an invitation to "follow our wine experts @WFMWine... They'll be sharing all sorts of knowledge!"  @WFMWine - the chain’s wine guys - had a little fun with the notion that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc smells… well, different. "You guys like this wine? not 2 much cat pee, sometimes overwhelms the nose.this one doesn't at all.u guys smell much pee?"

Once the tasting got started, @craigabarrett opened the discussion of the Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc with, "Effervescent nose. Strong green apple jolly rancher notes. Medium + body," and we were off to the races.  Many Whole Foods stores across the country were participating by pouring for shoppers. @WFM_Louisiana noted, "Broad St. guests are describing the Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc as "tart" and "heart warming."  @kuqofywukuqo answered a Tweeted question: "What do you think of the Wairau River? We love it!"  @MomsToolbox tweeted, "Wow! Love the grapefruit & green apple in this zesty Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc!"

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Finger Lakes Rieslings To Be Celebrated

The group in charge of marketing New York’s Finger Lakes wine region - the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance - will host a virtual tasting event on Twitter this month.  The event - not that they need an excuse, they’ll talk about wine at the drop of a corkscrew - is the launch of the 2013 vintage of Finger Lakes Rieslings. The #FLXRiesling Hour is coming up on Saturday September 27, 2014, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. ET.

Wine writers are receiving samples and will hop online to tweet up the '13 Rieslings with Finger Lakes winemakers and fans. You can also check in through the Ustream video channel. All of September, by the way, is dedicated to the Finger Lakes Riesling Launch.

To take part, just get a Finger Lakes Riesling or two and jump in with your tasting notes. Even if you don't have a bottle handy, it's a fun way to connect with other Riesling fans. During the event, use the hashtag #FLXWineVT or direct comments to the FLWA at @FLXWine.

The FLWA bills the Finger Lakes as North America's premier cool-climate winegrowing region.  Located in the east-central part of New York, south of Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes AVA is recognized - by most who offer their opinion - as the best source for Rieslings in America.  The slate soil and microclimates near the three main Finger Lakes make for the good growing of Riesling grapes.
Finger Lakes winemakers say that young Finger Lakes Rieslings show lots of fruit, while more complex notes appear over time.  They also noted that wines from cooler vintages age better than those of warm vintages.
Minerals and citrus are the hallmark notes of Finger Lakes Riesling wines, which can range from very dry to very sweet.  How do you know which are which?  Sometimes, the label will explain the sweetness level in the wine’s name.  There is some help for the consumer, though, when that doesn’t happen.
The International Riesling Foundation has created a "Riesling Taste Profile," which appears on the label of all Finger Lakes Rieslings.  It’s a drawing of a meter, showing the sweetness level of the wine.  It is a concept which might well be adopted by makers of Syrah wines, since that grape shows quite differently from cool and warm climate designations.  It’s a great way to help consumers know what to expect in the bottle.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Behind-The-Scenes Grape Gets Spotlight

If you have more than a casual relationship with wines made from the Cinsault grape, you may already be a grape geek.  On the other purple-stained hand, you may enjoy Cinsault all the time without even knowing it.  It is a grape often blended with other, more famous grapes.  Cinsault will never win a wine Oscar for best grape, but it'll clean up in the taste editor category.  It's a role player in many rosé wines of Provence, it's in the mix of beaucoup Languedoc-Roussillon blends and it even stands alone in Lodi, California.

You can shake hands with some of the best Cinsault in California this week through social media.  The Wines of Lodi will host another in a series of virtual tasting events, held on video stream as well as Twitter.  The topic will be the stunningly complex, ancient-vine Cinsault wines from the famous Bechthold Vineyard.  The hour-long BrandLive event will occur Wednesday September 24th, at 5pm p.m. PT, 8 p.m. ET.

Bechthold Vineyard was planted in 1886 by Joseph Spenker and the 25-acre plot is not only the oldest producing vineyard in Lodi, but also one of the world's oldest Cinsault plantings.  Bechthold is the vineyard where the Cinsault grapes are grown for the following wines, which will be the subjects of the tasting.  I am told they will be tasted in this order during the event:

1. 2013 Michael David Winery Ancient Vine Cinsault ($25)

2. 2013 Turley Wine Cellars Cinsault ($17)

3. 2012 Estate Crush Cinsault ($26)

4. 2011 Onesta Cinsault ($29)

The hosts of the #LodiLive event will be Camron King, the Executive Director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Kevin Phillips, the VP of Operations for Phillips Farms and Michael David Winery, and Adam Mettler, General Manager and head Winemaker at Michael David Winery.

When the time arrives, go online - like you won't already be there - and sign into your Twitter account.  Pull up the livestream a little before show time and get ready to pour, swirl and sip.

Once you click on the link, you’ll see a box on the right hand side that says "Questions from the Audience."  Fill in your name and location and type your Comment or Question - the hosts will be able to view what you say immediately.  The Twitter on/off button is below the comment field.  You are encouraged to Tweet your comments.  You just need to log into your Twitter account on a separate tab or window. If you do not want a comment or question to show up on your Twitter feed, click the button to “off” or just hit submit and comment vs. tweet.

To insure that everyone's comments are in a specific stream, use the hash tag #LodiLive and Twitter handle @Lodi_Wine during the tasting.

Virtual tasting events are a lot of fun to do, and the BrandLive events with the folks from Lodi always get some very active participation.  You'll learn a lot about Lodi, a lot about Bechthold Vineyard and a lot about Cinsault.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Whole Foods Market: Wines Of New Zealand

Whole Foods Market is celebrating wines from New Zealand this fall, and they are taking to social media to alert the wine-loving public.  There are two virtual tasting events set - one on Thursday September 18 and the other on Thursday October 9, 2014.  Both tasting events are scheduled to run from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. CT.

To participate in a virtual tasting event, get the wines at a Whole Foods Market near you, take them home, log onto Twitter and stay ready with the hashtag: #WFMwine.  Using the hashtag in your tweets will channel your comments into the stream with everyone else's.  We always have so much fun that way!  To follow along, set up a search for #WFMwine and save it.  It's very easy to keep in the flow that way.

You can also win a trip to New Zealand in the Whole Foods wine department.  Look here for details on the contest. You have until the end of September to enter for that prize.

Here are the wines which are set to be the topic of both Twitter tastings:

Thursday September 18, 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. CT:

Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc
Oyster Bay Chardonnay
Villa Maria The Red Blend

Thursday October 9, 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. CT:        
Sophora Sparkling Cuvée
Kim Crawford Pinot Gris
Grove Mill Pinot Noir

Get your wines, get set and get ready to tweet about what's in your glass.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Charles Krug Wine Napa Valley Merlot

A May virtual tasting event under the BrandLive banner featured Charles Krug Wine proprietor Peter Mondavi, Jr. tasting and tweeting about his family’s stake in the Napa Valley.  Charles Krug is the oldest winery in California and Peter Mondavi, Sr. is perhaps the oldest vintner.  He is within swirling, sipping and spitting distance of the century mark.

2011 was the 150th vintage for the Charles Krug label, and three of the wines on the tasting list for the Twitter event were from that vintage, their Napa Valley Merlot, Family Reserve "Generations" blend and Family Reserve "Howell Mountain" Cabernet Sauvignon.  See the video of the tasting here.

Wine lovers in the twitterverse came alive for the event.  During the virtual tasting, @WineJulia commented on the wine’s drinkability, messaging that "the lower alcohol keeps these elegant, while the complexity & tannins bring them to life!"  @WineFashionista tweeted, "Interesting that of these four wines Merlot is Charles Krug's best seller!"  @WineHarlots mentioned of the Merlot, "Miles has left the building."

The Mondavi blurb writer calls the 2011 Charles Krug Napa Valley Merlot their “Cab lover’s Merlot,” and with good reason.  It is as big and bold as many a Cabernet Sauvignon hailing from America’s best-selling wine region, despite a cool growing season in 2011 that made harvest a few weeks later than usual.  The yield was down and the sugar content of the grapes was lower than they like, but the winemaking team members were thrilled to capture so much flavor despite the obstacles.

The Napa Valley grapes which make up this red blend are 84% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petite Sirah, 3% Malbec and a 1% splash of Petit Verdot.  The wine spent 18 months aging in French and American oak barrels.  Alcohol clocks in at a pretty reasonable 14% abv - thank you, cool vintage - and retails for $25.

The wine has a very dark color, opaque ruby red in the glass.  The nose displays robust aromas of black cherry and blueberry with a nice plume of smoke laying over the fruit.  On the palate, the moniker “Cab Lover’s Merlot” really hits home.  Rich, bold fruit flavors burst forth impressively.  Savory undertones join the show, awash in dark berries and vanilla.  A very slight herbal sensation peeks through, a light bell pepper note - the only aspect of the taste that points to a cool vintage.

Pairing with red meat is a no-brainer - the tannins are fine and the acidity is juicy.  A cheese plate would be welcome, too.  Include some Camembert, Gouda and Gruyere.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Virtual Wine Tasting: Finger Lakes Whites

The Finger Lakes Wine Region recently hosted another in a series of live virtual tasting events, with a video feed and participation via Twitter.  These events are becoming so popular that if you try to take part in every one that comes along, you’ll have a pretty full dance card.

The virtual tasting is a great way to gain exposure to a new wine or winery, and it’s a great way to mingle with folks who are as inquisitive about wine as you are.  Like many wine regions, the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance uses the social aspect of virtual tastings to their great advantage.

In May 2014, the FLWA staged a virtual event featuring a large variety of wines, not just one or two.  Participants sipped at home and joined in during a four-hour marathon. (Most virtual tasting events only run an hour or so.)  I was supplied with several white wines to sample, and today I’ll focus on the Villa Bellangelo 1866 Reserve Riesling 2012.

On Twitter, @travel4foodfun carried the sentiment of all by tweeting, “We are now doing our virtual tasting from our friends @villabellangelo and It's a definite Wow!”  @jeffal66 commented on the wine: “Nice mix of melon, fall fruit on the Bellangelo. Pear for sure. Minerality.”   The winery of the moment, @villabellangelo, offered a glimpse behind the bottle.  They wrote, “Geek out on the Gibson Vineyard  - the source for our 1866 Reserve Riesling.” and “Check out our background history on the 1866 Reserve series at:"

This release marks the debut vintage of a Riesling that shows why New York’s Finger Lakes Riesling is known for that grape.  The fruit came from a single vineyard - Gibson Vineyard, just north of the winery on the west side of Seneca Lake.  The date in the wine’s name - 1866 - is a tip of the winegrowing hat to Dr. Byron Spence, an early grape grower in the region

With residual sugar at just 1.9%, this Finger Lakes Riesling clocks in on the dry side of medium dry.  Finger Lakes Rieslings all bear the Riesling Taste Profile scale designed by the International Riesling Foundation.
It’s easy on the alcohol - 11%.abv - and only 99 cases were produced.  My bottle was number 87 of 1188.

The 1866 Reserve Riesling gets a special touch in the winery, aging half in stainless steel tanks and half in oak barrels sur lie - in contact with the spent yeast cells - for eight months.

The light straw tint is pretty, and the nose is even more so.  Floral notes, pear and  nectarine aromas are not shy about getting out of the glass.  The mouthfeel is full and creamy and the acidity is on the gently side, making it a great wine to sip.  Flavors of pears and white peaches provide plenty to ponder while doing so.  This wine would be nice with spicy food, like a Thai dish or even Mexican food with a bit of heat to it.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Virtual Wine Tasting: Charles Krug

A May virtual tasting event under the BrandLive banner featured Charles Krug Wine proprietor Peter Mondavi, Jr. tasting and tweeting about his family’s stake in the Napa Valley.  The Charles Krug winery and vineyards have been around since 1861.  The Mondavi family bought it in the 1940s and have run it since.  Within a decade they cemented the Mondavi name as a Napa Valley synonym.  Charles Krug is the oldest winery in California and Peter Mondavi, Sr. is perhaps the state's oldest vintner.  He is within swirling, sipping and spitting distance of the century mark.

2011 was the 150th vintage for the Charles Krug label, and three of the wines on the tasting list for the event are from that vintage, their Napa Valley Merlot, Family Reserve "Generations" blend and Family Reserve "Howell Mountain" Cabernet Sauvignon.  See the video of the tasting here.

Twitter came alive for the event.  I heard that the Twitterverse was trending with the hashtag #CharlesKrugLive, at least for a bit. During the virtual tasting, @WineJulia commented on the wine’s drinkability, messaging that "the lower alcohol keeps these elegant, while the complexity & tannins bring them to life!"  @WineFashionista tweeted, "Interesting that of these four wines Merlot is Charles Krug's best seller!"  While on topic, @WineHarlots mentioned of the Merlot, "Miles has left the building."  @JamestheWineGuy found the Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon to show "rose petal, violet, bay leaf, blackberry; profound nose"  while @martindredmond discovered that wine to be "killer with grilled lamb!"

Today we cover the Charles Krug 2013 Limited Release Estate Sauvignon Blanc.

This is the third vintage of the wine, which is crafted by winemaker Stacy Clark entirely from Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  The fruit is grown on a 45-acre plot of estate vineyard which was planted in 2005.  On the Charles Krug website, the '13 vintage was proclaimed to have been nearly perfect, much like 2012.  The quality of the fruit certainly shows in the wine.

This wine is fermented in stainless steel and aged in contact with the spent yeast cells - sur lie, it's called - for seven months.  This imparts a rich, creamy texture to the wine while maintaining the snappy acidity that defines good Sauvignon Blanc.  The wine sports a moderate 13.6% abv alcohol level and retails for $35.

The light, straw color is just a notch above pale in the glass.  The wine's nose is grassy and full of peaches and tropical fruit - it really grabs me.  On the palate, peach flavors come on a bit stronger than those aromas did, and the citrus takes a prominent role, too.  Acidity is quite fresh and food-friendly, while the finish leaves a lemon-lime-grapefruit taste behind.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Virtual Wine Tasting: Casey Flat Ranch

The spring releases from California winery Casey Flat Ranch - located in the mountains of California’s Capay Valley in Yolo County - were featured in a virtual tasting event recently.  PR firm Charles Communications staged the Twitter tasting, which you can search on Twitter at this hashtag: #CFRBrandLive.  The event was also on a live video stream - archived here.  Casey Flat Ranch Managing Partner Alison Garrett and winemaker Laura Barrett hosted, while those who joined in sipped and commented on four CFR wines:  the 2013 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2013 Syrah Rosé, the 2012 Viognier and the 2011 CFR Estate Red Blend.

The vineyards of this historic longhorn cattle ranch are nestled 2,000 feet high in the Vaca mountains, overlooking the Capay Valley in Yolo County.  The AVA - with Napa County bordering on the west - was formed in 2002.  I am told that the high elevation produces terroir-driven  wines, “serious, elegant wines, packed with fresh fruit and stunning minerality.”   The wines will be covered individually on Now And Zin in the coming weeks.

The Capay Valley was settled in the 1850s, and vines were planted in the next decade.  The grapes at Casey Flat Ranch were planted much more recently, in 2002 and 2008.  Soil conditions at 2,000 feet on the ranch range from rocky to sandy, with a sandstone base.  Temperatures are similar to northern St. Helena, with a swing of 40 degrees between daytime and night - suitable for Bordeaux and Rhône varieties.

Casey Flat Ranch utilizes sustainable vineyard practices and is home to a variety of wildlife, including 200 Texas Longhorn cattle.

Twitter users who participated in the tasting event did their homework before logging on.  @wineandgoodfood found that “Viognier, Syrah, Cabernet, Cab Franc, and Tempranillo are among the grapes that dominate the Capay Valley AVA.”   @WineJulia commented that  “Casey Flat Ranch is totally off the grid! Solar powered - very cool”  @MsPullThatCork let us know that  “Sustainable farming practices a high priority at CFR. They're solar powered! “  After the event, @winethropology summed it up for us all: “Terrific line-up tonight - Informed consumers should definitely keep eyes peeled for this emerging wine”

Those in the Twitter-verse really enjoyed the Sauvignon Blanc.  From @WINEormous: “really love the nose on the 2013 Casey Flat Ranch Sauvignon Blanc. Tons of peaches. Great price point - $18”  @martindredmond said,: “Loving the Casey Flat Ranch Sauvignon Blanc. Made with Musque clone. Aromatic, Crisp, refreshing!”  @Luscious_Lushes agreed.  “I love the Musque clone. It gives it such a roundness and floral quality that i love,” adding later,  “Ok madly in love with this SB. It has all of the juicy acidity but none of the bite. crisp granny smith apples. REFRESHING.”  @WineJulia tweeted,: “What a gorgeous tropical nose on the SavBlanc. Pineapple, limes, grapefruit!”  And @winethropology was similarly blown away.  “Seriously, this Sauv Blanc is insanely captivating. Wow.”

Those tweeting their thoughts on the 2012 Casey Flat Ranch Viognier commented quite favorably.  @WineUpdate: “Nice to have a Viognier w/out too heavy a texture. Well-balanced and elegant.”  @cliffordbrown3: “Viognier - peaches, ripe apples, baking spices, white flowers, orange zest, minerals and melon.”  @wineandgoodfood: “Love that the Viognier is aged in both neutral oak and stainless it a nice texture!”  @WineJulia: “Casey Flat Ranch wines are mainly bone dry. Love this peachy, orange blossomy Viognier.”  @vinogger: “Love the texture & acidity on the Viognier and that its stainless & neutral oak well done”  @winethropology: “Viognier $20 Breaking my belief that NorCal viognier is a fool's errand. This has got guts and grace.”  @MsPullThatCork: “Viognier is delicately floral with stone fruit flavors. Yum!

On Twitter, the 2013 Casey Flat Ranch Rosé garnered some pink love.  @WINEormous: “Gorgeous pale rose color. Bone dry.”  @WineUpdate: “deeply stylish: Sweet cherry, cranberry, mineral, spice. Savory and giving.”   @Luscious_Lushes: “full of blood orange and rosehips. Juicy wild strawberry, hisbiscus zing. loving the spicy notes. Perfect for Thai.”  @cliffordbrown3: “strawberries, spice, cherries, minerals and orange blossoms.”  @MsPullThatCork: “made from 100% Syrah, no skin contact! All stainless. ‘Ballet slipper pink’ in color. Delicate berry flavors, juicy acidity. “  @BigNoseWino: “super strawberry spicy nose w/ nice acidity that slaps the back of your throat on the finish.”  @WineJulia: “made in a classic style & harvested for making rose'. No skin contact w/ gorgeous color!”

Tweeters who were tasting at home chimed in with lots of favorable notes on the Casey Flat Ranch Estate Red Blend.  @cliffordbrown3: “blackberries, dried herbs, cassis, minerals, cedar, tobacco and dried violets. I need a piece of juicy meat, hot off the grill to go with the CFR Estate Red.”  @Luscious_Lushes: “Red Wine blend, kitchen sink - deep, dark, brooding. Coffee -- 75% new French oak. Black cherry, blackberry notes - anise. ohh yes, Earl grey tea in there.”  @WineUpdate: “Spice cake, plum, blackberry-balsamic, peppercorn, black tea. Balanced oak. Excellent!”  @BigNoseWino: “big herbal, berry bomb nose w/ a savory mid palate & lightly acidic, tannin finish.”  @WineJulia: “$35 is an outstanding price for this red blend. It's lush and beautiful!”

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Lodi Native Zinfandel - A Six-Pack Of Terroir

Lodi is hard at work, carving out their piece of the California appellation pie.  The area is rooted in family-owned vineyards, with generations upon generations of farmers working the dirt there.  They are getting out the message in every way possible that Lodi is a wine region of note.

The grape variety for which Lodi has become known is Zinfandel, and a new collective of Zinfandel producers - Lodi Native - has been formed.  The six winemakers have banded together to bottle some single-vineyard Zins under their collaborative banner.

Their mission is to accent Lodi’s heritage plantings – many of them dating back to the late 1800s – through sensible viticulture and minimalist winemaking practices.  Native yeast fermentation and the lack of new oak in the aging process help put the focus on Zinfandel’s terroir - on the taste of vineyards rather than varietal character or brand.

The group’s mission statement makes it clear they intend to get the public up to speed on Lodi wine:  “To demonstrate ... that distinguished, distinctly identifiable vineyards exist in Lodi, similar to other great wine regions of the world.  To encourage preservation and appreciation of old vine plantings – well as of Lodi’s long tradition of grower/custodians – by focusing more attention on vineyard sites, vis-à-vis real and tangible sensory expressions in each bottling.  To build professional camaraderie, a culture of information sharing, and new challenges for Lodi’s Zinfandel specialists.

Lodi Native wines are available for purchase in six-bottle cases only, each consisting of all six different single-vineyard bottlings.

Lodi Native recently held a virtual tasting event on Twitter, which you can research at the hashtag #LodiLive or watch in recorded fashion.  Following are the wines discussed and the growers and winemakers who took part.  I’ll be adding my comments on the specifics wines over the coming weeks.

Maley Brothers 2012 Wegat Vineyard Zinfandel - Winemaker, Chad Joseph (Maley Brothers) - Grower, Todd Maley

A product of the Mokelumne River region of Lodi, this wine carries a big alcohol stick, hitting 14.9% abv.  Wegat Vineyard is a 21-acre planting of head-trained vines, field budded on St. George rootstock in 1958, with fine sandy loam typical of west-side Lodi.

It’s an inky wine, with  blueberry and wild berry on the nose.  Aromas of big fruit and minerals with a hint of anise are almost overpowering.  On the palate, explosive dark fruit and fresh acidity provide a great mouthfeel, while firm tannins add structure.  A slightly herbal angle plays through the enormous fruit for even more complexity, and lingers on the finish.

m2 Wines 2012 Soucie Vineyard Zinfandel - Winemaker, Layne Montgomery (m2 Wines) - Grower, Kevin Soucie
Terroir is the name of the game at m2 Wines.  They promise to create every thing that has terroir, from  “Lodi Zinfandel to classic Napa Cabernet to exciting Rhône wines from the Sierra Foothills, m2 wines are created to fully express the character of the vineyard and the fruit of the vine as wine that is true to itself.”  You can’t ask for more than that.

This Mokelumne River wine shows its terroir from an arm's length away.  Tinted medium dark red, the wine gives off wild aromas of spice and herb in large quantities.  Nutmeg, mint and eucalyptus fragrances wash over the blackberry, raspberry and blueberry fruit.  The palate brings these elements forward even more, and the spices actually ride herd over the fruit.  Black cherry and raspberry flavors take the lead, but are pushed along under the whip of minty spices, sage, cinnamon, cola and tea.  There is a darkness here, too, but not an empty darkness.  It’s a darkness of plenty.  It’s the darkness of a forest of tall trees.  Of the wines I am privileged to taste each year, one always hits me as a Christmas wine.  This is the wine I want over the holidays.

Please do give this wine ample time to breathe.  It opens up amazingly.

McCay Cellars 2012 Trulux Vineyard Zinfandel - Winemaker, Michael McCay (McCay Cellars) - Grower, Keith Watts

St. Amant Winery 2012 Marian’s Vineyard Zinfandel - Winemaker, Stuart Spencer (St. Amant Winery) - Growers, Jerry & Bruce Fry (Mohr-Fry Ranches)
Ticking 14.5% abv, this is a relative lightweight in Lodi Zin Land.  St. Amant's Marian's vineyard entry is tinted ruby red and smells of violets and spices.  Perfume comes to mind.  On the palate, blackberry flavors get a minty treatment and the spice keeps its hand in play.  It would pair well with pork chops, but I had it with a piece of chocolate and it rocked.

Fields Family Winery 2012 Century Block Vineyard Zinfandel - Winemaker, Ryan Sherman (Fields Family Wines)
notes coming

Macchia 2012 Noma Ranch Zinfandel - Winemaker, Tim Holdener (Macchia Wines) -
Grower, Leland Noma
notes coming

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