Showing posts with label white. Show all posts
Showing posts with label white. Show all posts

Friday, December 23, 2016

Drink Pink: LBD Rosé Blends Red, White Grapes

This is an unusual rosé blend, in that it is made up largely of white wine grapes. The mix is 54% Gewürztraminer, 23% Muscat, 14% Chardonnay, 5% Zinfandel and 4% other white varieties. For every time I have had a beginning wine lover ask me, "So, rosé is just red and white wine mixed together, right?" I wish I had a sip of this one, which really is one of those imagined pinkies.

The Little Black Dress folks like to say, "Confidence turns heads and sophistication is the rule," when talking about their wines. They are confident, and with good reason. Even without a fancy, single-vineyard label - actually, with only "California" to describe the wine’s origin - they manage to put a really distinctive wine in the bottle. They did it with the Chardonnay, and damned if they didn't do it with the rosé as well. Winemaker Margaret Leonardi makes good juice for this Mendocino winery.

The LBD Rosé shows only a faint salmon-pink hue in the glass. The nose is defined by the Gewürztraminer, all flowery and springlike. There's a cherry/strawberry note from the Zinfandel and a bit of apricot from the Muscat, so it's really a complex rosé bouquet. On the palate the Zin hardly shows up at all, giving way to the fancy, floral white grapes with whom it is no doubt unaccustomed to working. It's off-dry, maybe even medium, but it is no White Zin - if that has you worried. The Gewürztraminer carries the flavor profile, too.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Drinking With The Publicist

Some wine writers speak about publicists the same way they speak of a bottle of wine with cork taint.  Necessary evil, goes with the territory.  Not me, though.  As a wine writer, I have found publicists to be invaluable sources of information in my endeavor.  Sure, they all want to pitch something.  But it's always wine.  How bad is that?

I recently met with a publicist with whom I have communicated for several years, although never face-to-face.  Sam Dependahl, left, of Jarvis Communications, has been in my inbox more than my family has.  We even coexisted in the same city - Culver City - in my radio days.  He has provided me with a lot of fodder for this digital realm, and his invitation to lunch for a long overdue meeting was welcome.

Lunching with a publicist is great - small talk lasts about two minutes, and the rest of the time is all about wine.  That's how I like it, and I think that's how Sam likes it, too.  Oh, did I mention he walked into Cooks County with a box of wine under his arm?  That's another nice thing about lunching with publicists.  Sam brought a box, but we settled on tasting two wines that seemed perfect for the blazing hot Los Angeles afternoon, a rosé and a Moscato.

Cascinetta Vietti Moscato d'Asti 2011

Cascinetta Vietti is from Langa, in Italy's Piemonte region.  The 100% Moscato d'Asti grapes are harvested from estate vineyards in Castiglione Tinella, and the wine is fermented in stainless steel - where it stays until bottling.  The alcohol level is stopped at a super-low 5.5% by reducing the temperature.  Yeast is added for a secondary fermentation to take place in the bottle.

A very aromatic bouquet of flowers and fruit makes this frizzante wine a delight to sniff.  On the palate it's sweet and lush with fine bubbles hanging around awhile.  The acidity is nothing short of sparkling - it begs to be paired with food, but makes a great sipper on a hot day.  The wine was perfect with the awesome fries Cooks County serves.

Crossbarn Sonoma County Pinot Noir Rosé 2012

Crossbarn Winery, in Sonoma County, bears the name of legendary wine man Paul Hobbs, although the winemaker is Molly Bohlman.  Crossbarn is Hobbs' line of everyday wines: Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.  It is an appellation-specific line, while his higher line is vineyard-specific.  By the way, the winery's name comes from a structure on his family's New York farm, the "cross barn."

The rosé is made from Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.  It is fermented 80% in steel tanks, 20% in neutral oak.
It's an extremely light pink wine with a slightly funky aroma, which I love in a rosé.  Beautiful strawberry and raspberry fruit also adorn the bouquet, with more of the same coming on the palate.  It's perfectly dry, with great acidity and freshness, and notes of grapefruit and cantaloupe appear on the finish.  It was a great match with both the BLT and the grilled salmon sandwich.

It was interesting to me that when Sam and I talked about these two wines we didn't talk very much about aromas or flavors.  We focused on the acidity, the freshness they both bring to the table.  That's what I look for in a white wine or a rosé - a refreshing acidity that makes good wine pair so well with a variety of foods.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Tasting Notes: Cascinetta Vietti Moscato d'Asti 2007

The Bottle: There's a lot of Italian on the label, but even with my limited multi-lingual abilities there's enough English to give me a pretty good idea what's going on. Moscato d'Asti wines come from Italy's Piedmont region, in the northwest near the town of Asti. They are low alcohol wines by law - 5.5% abv. I bought this little gem for $16 in a Glendale wine store my wife and I like to frequent, although far too infrequently. Rosso Wine Shop, 3459 1/2 N. Verdugo Road, has a great selection of Italian wines. Jeff Zimmitti has Spanish, French and Californian in there, too, but we always seem to linger in the Italian aisle. Jeff puts on a nice tasting, too, every weekend. Oh yeah, the wine was Cascinetta Vietti 2007.

The Nose: The aromas were a little hard for me to get, as the wine was cold. It seemed to be rather floral and peachy.

The Taste: The taste certainly didn't hide, though. It was sweet and fizzy - not a full-fledged sparkling wine, but with enough bubbles to make it worthy of a special occasion, or a special person. The feel is quite full in the mouth, and the fizziness seems to give it a bit of an edge. Honeyed apples and pears were in the forefront, and a rather nutty note made itself known in the pleasant finish. It was a lush delight, and a wonderful change-of-pace wine if you go in for such a thing. And why shouldn't you?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Il Poggiale Trebbiano 2007

The Bottle: The front label proudly proclaims this Tuscany White Wine to be a product of Italy, with an abv of 12.5%. It's imported by Casa Torelli of Santa Monica.

The Nose: There's a lot of minerality in the aromas, producing a fairly pungent nose to go with the pale golden color. A faint fruitiness or even a floral aspect is present, but definitely in a supporting role to the aroma of wet rocks. Nice!

The Taste:
This wine feels very good in the mouth. It's got a some heft and a good, clean taste that carries a bit of smoky nuttiness along with the minerals and fruit. It's great with Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ruffino Orvieto Classico 2006

The Bottle: This Tuscan winery sources grapes from the Umbrian city of Orvieto. A $10 wine, it's composed of 50% Procanico, 30% Grechetto, 10% Verdello and 10% Canaiolo Bianco.

The Nose: A pale yellow-green tint barely colors the wine. The nose is floral and fruity, with pear and apple most noticeable.

The Taste: In the mouth, this Orvieto is delicious and well-structured, a very drinkable wine. A clean minerality is present. The finish is great. It's a really nice sipping wine, but it's even better with food. It paired nicely with my sea scallops from the grill, and the lettuce, tomato and shaved parmesan salad. The place where this wine really earns its keep is with cheese. Had it with a bleu, Parmesan and baby Swiss, and it brought out the best in each of the cheeses.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tasting Notes: Livernano L'Anima Bianco

I just wanted to put a quick note in this space about a really nice wine I had last night. Livernano L'Anima Bianco is a wonderful Tuscan white wine. I had it in the bar at Morton's, Beverly Hills. It was a featured wine on their bar menu in the by-the-glass section. This wine is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewurztraminer. I'm a sucker for an interesting blend, and this really grabbed me.

The nose was very floral, as was agreed upon by everyone in our party. I picked up what I interpreted as a petrol aroma, for which I was roundly criticized. Perhaps it was a grassiness that came through from the S. Blanc which I interpreted incorrectly. Crisp and clean on the palate, there was a zestiness I really loved. The acidity was perfect for food - crabmeat salad, maybe - and it finished well, too.

I conducted a cursory web search and didn't find it for sale, but I'll keep looking. In the meantime, it's worth a trip to Arnie Morton's bar to have a glass.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tasting Notes: Chamisal Vineyards Stainless Chardonnay 2008

The Bottle: A slim Burgundy bottle belies the wine inside. No big, fat, overblown Chardonnay bottle here. This lean, unoaked wine gets a container that's lean, too. Chamisal Vineyards - formerly Domaine Alfred - is in California's Central Coast appellation, near San Luis Obispo and Edna Valley, home to some very fine white wines. The abv on the label states 14.1%. I'm ready for the pure taste of Chardonnay.

The Nose
: Pure fruit, no oak at all. This is a really beautiful smelling wine. Apples seem to dominate for me, but there's a tropical or citrus angle at play, too. The aromas are quite vibrant, giving me the impression the taste will be amazingly fruity.

The Taste
: Apples, then peaches, then a zippy, zesty flavor on the finish give my taste buds an E-ticket ride. The acidity is quite nice; not overwhelming, but definitely able to handle some swordfish or cod. The finish is rather lengthy, and the clean, crisp minerals linger after the fruit has finally faded.

Tasting Event: A Taste of Tuscany

I really should have written about this event already. It's two weeks after the fact, and I want to go to it again. My friend Nicolas Soufflet - pictured at right - staged this little taster in Hollywood, and did a fine job with it. When he does another one - and I know he will - you should attend.

A Taste of Tuscany was held at Victors Square Restaurant, on Bronson north of Franklin in Hollywood. It was a
very nice setup, with the restaurant pretty much devoted to our crowd. Three tables were arranged like a square with a side missing. This gave Nicolas a stage of sorts from which to work. A stand-up map of Tuscany loomed large, so we could all have a visual reference of where the wines were produced. Much of the space was filled with cases of the wines we were to taste. Nicolas stood in front of the map and explained in detail the specifics of the wines we were tasting. His knowledge and personality provided at least as much enjoyment as the wines. And that's saying a lot.

Big props should go to
Bill Gotti, the owner of Victors Square. He not only provided the space for the event, he also provided a few stories for our pleasure, as well as a menu of some mighty delicious pasta dishes.

On to the wines! Here's what I tasted:

Vernaccia di San Gimignano - Tuscan white, 100% Vernaccia. A pale golden color, very light nose. Dry and refreshing with minerals, citrus, good acidity. Hint of wet rocks, strong minerality.

Trebbiano Toscano Bianco
- Another white, from the Barco Reale region of Tuscany. Trebbiano is the white counterpart to Sangiovese. 85% Trebbiano, 15% Malvasia. Pale color and pungent nose, very clean taste with a good finish. Smokey flavor, very smooth. Great with Parmesan cheese.

Morellino di Scansano
- 100% Sangiovese. Medium purple, dark fruit nose, great flavor of blackberry, plum, black cherry. A nice finish, very clean with a kiss of oak.

Morello Toscano Rosso
- 75% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. Darker ruby color, oakier nose. Aromas of black cherry. Medium mouthfeel, dark fruit, currant, some vanilla. Good acidity; needs a steak! A bit lightweight for me, but a nice taste saves the day.

Chianti Riserva
- 100% Sangiovese. Quite dark ruby color. Oak very predominant on nose. Medium mouthfeel. A little oaky, showing a bit of spice, plums, some raspberry. Again a lightweight feel.

Rosso di Montalcino - 100% Sangiovese. Deep red with a nose full of roses and oak. Tannic & fruity - plums. Very good for food, with great acidity. This wine is very easy to drink.

Vin Santo del Chianti
- 70% Trebbiano, 30% Malvasia. Very good dessert wine, salmon in color with some tawny looking shades. Could be the light. A sweet nose and a sweet, nutty palate. VERY good with biscotti. My wife is a big fan of barley candy, and she said this wine had very strong notes of that treat from her childhood.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tasting Room Notes: Vendome Wine & Spirits

Southern California drinkers know Vendome as a great place to find what you are looking for. If you're not looking for anything in particular, you can browse until you find something that strikes your fancy. Their many locations make for a convenient stop, but I do not believe that all Vendome locations schedule wine tastings.

Vendome of Studio City, 11555 Ventura Boulevard, does have regular tastings, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The tasting I'll write about here was on Saturday, July 25th, 2009. For $15 I tasted 6 wines of the Loire Valley.

Let me apologize for the lack of an image to accompany the piece. I ran a bit short on time (always a negative in the tasting experience) and forgot to get a picture before leaving. I'll try to grab a shot the next time I'm in there. It's doubly unfortunate that I have no image, because their tasting bar is actually a small shack-like structure in the west end of the store. Unique and interesting, the bar seats a half-dozen or so with a couple of tables nearby.

Yves Breussin Vouvray 2006 - Only one grape is used for making wine in the Vouvray appellation. That's the Pineau de la Loire, which we call Chenin Blanc. This wine is a pale yellow in the glass, with a strong and somewhat funky scent. Minerals and a nutty quality are present on the nose and palate. Good acidity, and it finishes well.

Domaine de Chatenoy Menetou-Salon 2007 - The vineyards of Menetou-Salon are sloping, mineral-laden fields which border those of Sancerre. This wine is a Sauvignon Blanc with another funky nose. Nice aromas of citrus and wet rocks dominate. The taste is quite smooth, a little lacking in acidity but a pleasure to drink nonetheless.

Jean Tatin Quincy 2006 - Funky noses were the order of the day. This wine had the strongest yet, the kind referred to as "cat pee." It's a Sauvignon Blanc with a ton of minerals on the nose and palate. Well balanced with a good finish.

Joseph Mellot Sancerre 2007 - This Sauvignon Blanc had the strongest nose of the day. It also had the most character. The minerals were right up front, the balance was great and the finish terrific.

Domaine Taille aux Loups Montlouis 2007 - A dry Chenin Blanc, this wine was full of minerals and an unusual quality I couldn't put my finger on. Maybe I was beginning to feel the pressure of my time limitations. Anyway, it was my favorite wine of the day.

Nicolas Reverdy Sancerre 2007 - A red wine from an appellation known for its whites, this Pinot Noir is very full of flavor. Medium-red in color, it features very strong strawberry notes with some clove and cinnamon.

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.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tasting Room Notes: Curtis Winery

A visit by my family recently took us to the beautiful Foxen Canyon Wine Trail.  If you haven't treated yourself to the beauty of those hills, you really should.  Just up the road from Los Olivos, the views along Foxen Canyon Road are sometimes breathtaking and the wines that are produced in the wineries along that road are sometimes spectacular.  Here's what they were pouring at Curtis Winery on our visit.

The tastings were being poured in the big barrel room in the rear of the shop.  Large, cool and dark, the barrel room is a great place to taste.  Five huge kegs and several of a more moderate size gave a real "winery" feel to the tasting that you just don't get in the retail shop that occupies the front of the store.

The Viognier 2006 had a very floral nose with honeysuckle predominant.  The taste offered clean and crisp flavors of lime and pineapple.  It was a really nice wine that begged for seafood or just a sunny porch.  They were giving a nice deal on this wine during the first weekend in May, a free bottle with the purchase of two.  It was $22.

For pink lovers, the Heritage Rose 2007 was bright and fresh, but it gave a little too much grapefruit for my taste, and the nose was highlighted by lemongrass.  I didn't care for it too much, but you may like those qualities more than I do.  

We crossed over to the dark side with the Crossroad Grenache 2005.  It was quite earthy and dark, right in my wheelhouse.  The Grenache was joined by Syrah and Cinsault and the combination produced a very complex flavor range.  There was a blackberry profile adorned with a smokiness and a nutty angle.  It was quite interesting.

The Heritage Cuvee 2005 was also dark and musky but with a spiciness to the fruit-forward taste.  A gorgeous nose made me delay enjoying that taste while I sniffed...and sniffed.  This Rhone-style blend contained Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache and Cinsault.  It was my favorite of the day.

Another fine effort came with the Ambassador's Vineyard Syrah 2005, which had a most intriguing nose which combined fresh, flowery notes with a darker side.  I detected black cherries with a long and enjoyable finish.

Lastly was the Rock Hollow Vineyard Syrah 2005, with a big fruit taste up front with nice tannins and chocolate at the end.  This was also a pleasure to smell as well as taste.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tasting Notes: Rideau Vineyard Riesling 2007

The Bottle: The slender bottle would suggest either Mosel or Alsace, but it's clear glass. If they're breaking the rules, it must be California. Rideau is in the Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang is the official address, although it seems to be closer to Los Olivos. This Riesling is labeled as La Presa Vineyard and cost $22 at the tasting room. The ABV is 12.1%.

The Nose: I get a nose full of flowers from this wine, a wonderful aromatic scent that I would say is honeysuckle, but might well be some other fresh and fragrant flower scent.

The Taste: It's a fairly sweet wine, as you might guess by the ABV. The flavors are honey and apricots, to my palate. Not a lot of acidity, so I didn't even try to pair it with food. I simply enjoyed it, sipping it on the deck after the wife and I came home from a hard days' labor through a half hour drive up Laurel Canyon Boulevard. It may be a sipper, but it's a good sipper. Good sippers are underrated, in my book. The price tag was a bit high for this type of wine. You could pick up a very nice Riesling easily for under $15 most anywhere. But it did serve to remind me of a very nice trip to the Santa Ynez Valley, and a very nice stop at a fun little tasting room.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Raymond Burr Sonoma County Chardonnay 2006

The Bottle: A classic Chardonnay bottle - meaning "just a little too wide for my wine rack" - bears a label with a painting of the head of Bacchus and Raymond Burr's signature. Burr was part owner of the vineyards and winery before his death. Now his partner, Robert Benevides, carries on the business. Winemaker Phyllis Zouzounis came on board in 2006. It's 100% Chardonnay and was aged 11 months in American oak. Only 515 cases were produced. The abv is listed as 14.4% and it cost $28 at the tasting room. The appellation is Dry Creek Valley, and the winery and tasting room are in Geyserville. Mr. Benevides was kind enough to sit with my wife and I on our visit there, out in the front area, with a cool breeze, a glass of wine and a beautiful view to go along with his wonderful company. We are indebted to him for that enjoyable time.

The Nose: Golden in the glass, the wine smells like apples and minerals. It promises a very clean and crisp tasting white.

The Taste: There is a strong mineral presence amid the apple cider flavor. This is not an oak-bomb at all, but there is a hint of wood the flavor. It's crisp, not buttery, and there is a small trace of spiciness. The wine would be a great match with a cold shrimp salad or just a loaf and some cheddar. It goes great with some nice conversation on a warm afternoon, too.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tangent Paragon Vineyard Riesling 2007

The Bottle: For me, no trip to Edna Valley is complete without a stop at what may well be my favorite winery anywhere. Tangent's "alternative whites" are a big attraction to me. This one is no exception. This wine cost $20 at the winery, a price I was happy to pay. But I'll get to that later. The abv is 14.1%. The back label offers a bit of exposition about the grape; the best-known varietal from Germany and the most prestigious from the Alsace region of France. They promise that the Edna Valley version will offer vibrant minerality and flavors of melon and peach. The wine is unoaked and did not go through malo-lactic fermentation.

The Nose:
The minerals come through quite strongly in the aroma, like rain-wet gravel. Minerality is what Edna Valley wines are all about, and nowhere more than at Tangent. I get some white peach notes and a restrained citrus aspect, too.

The Taste: The acidity grabs me right away. This is a great food wine. Dry and succulent at the same time, here are the peach and melon flavors they advertised. The finish is quite lengthy and there's a very enjoyable aftertaste. I tried this with with a tofu ceviche, California roll, spinach and ricotta calzone and some brie and hummus - a real multinational dinner - and it was an unqualified winner with all.