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

Monday, June 10, 2024

A Bottled Bellini

Not too many years ago I attended a wine festival in Beverly Hills. That day? It was a hot day that day in Beverly Hills. I trudged several blocks under the scorching summer sun and finally reached the venue. What do you think was the first thing I saw upon entering the cool, air conditioned building? A Bellini stand. Respite for the weary wine writer! I wiped the sweat from my brow, unfortunately, on my wine tasting note paper. No matter. "Would you like a Bellini, sir?" Well, yes. Yes I would. Thank you.

A Bellini is one of nature's wonders, a pause that refreshes. Health and fun, blended together. Fruit and booze. Bring it on.

Importers Mack & Schühle do a fine job with the wines they select, so how could they miss with a Bellini? Their Artigiano Peach Bellini is as refreshing and peachy as you would like. They also bring Strawberry and Mango Bellinis to the heat stricken masses. Alcohol is mercifully light, only 6% abv, and it costs less than $15 for the 750ml bottle. 

A Bellini should have peach puree and Prosecco, if it is made by the book. The Artigiano Peach Bellini was identified merely as white wine and fruit puree. The only specific I could glean from an online search was that the beverage was made in Spain. The grape, I'm guessing, is Airén, and I guess that only because it is the most widely planted grape variety in Spain.

This Bellini is fizzy enough to make a spew when you open the screw cap, so don't go overboard with their advice, "Shake it to wake it."  It is playful on the palate and tasty on the tongue. And if you serve it cold, it could make you think twice about reaching for that IPA.

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Monday, May 20, 2024

Vermentino From The Heart Of Santa Barbara County

Rancho de Vega was established in 1853 in Santa Barbara County's Santa Ynez Valley. The estate now has a vineyard and a winery, and the Vega folks have hired Steve Clifton to head up their winemaking program. The wines he made under the Palmina brand are being absorbed under the Vega Vineyard and Farm banner.

The estate is on the property that used to be known as Mosby Winery, and Vega Vineyard is operating out of the little tasting room on the grounds. They are also serving lunch every day, dinner and brunch on the weekends. 

I have enjoyed Clifton's wines for years, and probably not often enough. I recently ran across the Palmina Vermentino 2021 at one of my local wine stores. It was made with grapes grown in the Los Olivos District in the Santa Ynez AVA of Santa Barbara County. Alcohol sits at 13.5% abv and it cost $17 at the cheese shop in Larchmont Village.

This wine has a light yellow-gold tint. The nose is a bit muted, but showy enough to offer some nice lemon, apricot and salinity notes. The salinity comes across clearly on the palate, and so does the lemon. Most noteworthy is the very fresh acidity. The ocean influence is strong here, and you should pair this wine with crustaceans. The citrus minerality hangs around for quite awhile after the sip.  

Monday, July 31, 2023

Summer Sipper From Rioja - White Wine

Summertime - especially this one - calls for wines that like to be served with a chill. The winemakers of Rioja want you to know that they craft many wines that go very well with hot weather - whites and rosés for sure, but even a few red crianzas like to be iced down before braving a barbecue. 

El Coto Blanco Rioja 2022

El Coto de Rioja was founded in 1970. With more than 1800 acres of vineyards all over Rioja, they are the largest winery in the DO. A new winery facility was built in 2014, which specializes in white wines. 

The 2022 El Coto Blanco features 93% Viura, 4% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Verdejo grapes from their Rioja Alta vineyard, Finca Carbonera. It is the highest elevation vineyard they own. The wine has an alcohol level of 12% abv and retails for about $12. 

While I expected a really sharp and racy nose from this yellow tinted wine, what I found was much softer. A floral note shares space with a lovely citrus component which smells more like tangerine than lemon. There is also a hint of honeydew melon. On the palate, the mineral-driven flavors lean more heavily into citrus while the acidity is zesty at best, not razor sharp. It is a very drinkable wine, one that probably fits in better as a sipper or an aperitif than a partner for seafood. 

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Wednesday, February 15, 2023

A Fantastic White Wine From Sardinia

The Sella & Mosca estate - I Piani - holds some 1,200 acres of vines, reportedly the second largest contiguous vineyard in all of Italy. The scenery is beautiful but the climate is hot and dry on the island of Sardinia, where the Torbato grapes for the 2018 Sella & Mosca Terre Bianche grow, in the Alghero Torbato DOC.

The Torbato grape is not indigenous to Italy. It traveled from Spain to France before being brought to Sardinia by the rulers of the day. It is a white grape - known in France's Côtes du Roussillon as Tourbat - and is known for its smoky notes.

This wine was vinified by Giovanni Pinna in stainless steel tanks. Alcohol hits only 12.5% and it sells for a ridiculously low price of about $15. I got mine on sale at Eataly for a few dollars less.

This white wine has the color of light onion skin - a nice hue for a white which has been in the bottle for some five years. The nose is immediately familiar to me, even though I have never tasted this grape before. It smells like the white wines of the Midwest and northeastern U.S. There is a strong fruit aroma - apricot and Meyer lemon - and an even stronger mineral aspect. A little bit of melon brings what little sweetness I pick up. The palate shows a basket full of savory notes - lanolin, minerals, citric tartness, pepper, spice and sage. Acidity is fine - not too tingly but not too flat. The finish is lengthy and focused on the fruit. I am impressed. 

This wine paired magnificently, by the way, with the turmeric and lemon bowtie pasta I bought at Eataly. I mixed it with cabbage and onions in butter. So simple, so good. 

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Monday, August 1, 2022

Vermentino Wine - Herbs, Minerals, Salinity

The Frescobaldi history stretches back to the Middle Ages, but winemaking in the region was already old hat by then. If you have been doing something for more than 700 years, you must be doing it right. 

Today, the Tuscan landscape is studded with properties which reside under the Frescobaldi umbrella. The Ammiraglia Estate is in southern Tuscany, Maremma, near the ocean. The warm climate is cooled by the breezes coming in from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The 2018 vintage featured a lot of precipitation, even snow early on. All that water helped out a lot when the hot summer season arrived and rainfall dried up.

The Massovivo 2018 wine is all Vermentino grapes, aged for four months in the stainless steel tanks where it was vinified, on the lees, and another month in the bottle. Alcohol rests at 12.5% abv and the retail price is $24.

This Italian white has a most interesting presence in the glass. The pale yellow liquid has a nose which is quite herbaceous, showing notes of sage, anise and oregano. The palate brings forth some citrus fruit - Meyer lemon - and a boatload of minerals and salinity. There is quite a racy acidity, too. Like a good Vermentino should, the wine leaves a sense of the seashore on the finish. 

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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Wine Country Texas - Bending Branch

Bending Branch Winery is as close as it gets to being a beloved Texas institution - and Texans don't toss about their institutions lightly. The winery is so loaded down with awards and accolades that work should be underway for a new trophy room. Perennial favorites in newspaper and online reader polls, Bending Branch makes their wine in the aptly-named town of Comfort.

The outfit is headed up by winemaker Robert W. Young, MD, MPH. That last set of letters means he has a masters in public health. He says that Bending Branch introduced Texas to the Picpoul (PEEK-pool) grape in 2009, and made their first estate Picpoul two years later.

The Bending Branch Winery Picpoul Blanc is their signature white wine - their flagship red is Tannat - and the 2021 Picpoul carries with it the quality that is ever elusive for white wines - complexity.

This Picpoul was fermented in stainless steel and aged in those tanks for seven months, so there is no influence of oak to be found. The Picpoul grape has a naturally high acidity, making it a versatile wine for food pairing. This one was made from grapes taken from the Texas High Plains AVA. Alcohol hits a reasonable 13.1% abv and the wine retails for $26.

The wine has a nice golden hue and a nose which sports apricots, Meyer lemons, wet-sidewalk minerality, salinity and a touch of lanolin. The palate is just as wonderful, with stone fruit, minerals, spices and herbs. The acidity is as great as advertised. This wine should pair well with seafood, salads or sandwiches - I had mine with a salami and cheese creation on rosemary sourdough and it was fabulous.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Another Fine Italian White Wine - Gavi

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 middleman, the distributor and retailer through which store-bought wines must pass.

Lot 752 is a Gavi wine from northern Italy's Piemonte region.  The area centers around the commune of Gavi, in the province of Alessandria, quite near the border with Liguria.  Hughes says "Chablis and Pinot Grigio drinkers will love" this wine, made from the Cortese grape, vinified to 12% abv and selling for $15.  He says the wine has been made the same way for nearly two and a half centuries.

This pale wine has an explosive nose which jumps up from the glass.  Aromas of minerals are here - lemon, orange peel, apricot, wet sidewalk, along with a floral aspect.  There is a pale, yellowish tint to it in the glass.  The palate shows citrus and salinity, with a mighty fine streak of acidity racing through it.  Pair it with shrimp, crab or any kind of seafood, really.  Delightful.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Austria's Gift To Wine - Grüner Veltliner

Grüner Veltliner (grew-ner velt-LEE-ner) is the most prized grape of Austria.  White wines made from the grape are widely acclaimed for their quality.  Austria is its primary home, although a handful of other eastern European nations grow the grape, too. 

The grapes for Domäne Wachau Grüner Veltliner Federspiel came from the steeply terraced vineyards of the Wachau Valley.  The wine is called Terrassen, which means grapes from small terraced vineyards on either side of the Danube River are blended together.  Federspiel is the middle tier of qualitative classification in the Wachau region, higher than Steinfeder but not as high as Smaragd.

Domäne Wachau's Winery Director Roman Horvath and winemaker Heinz Frischengruber created a food-friendly wine from the stony earth, one that offers fabulous acidity as well as a distinct minerality.  Alcohol hits only 12.5% abv and it sells for about $15, a steal.

This wine's nose features a strong floral element, quickly joined by a peach note which is not quite ripe.  The expected minerals come next, with white pepper, lime and an herbal play following.  The palate shows minerals in high definition with a tart fruit flavor in tow, possibly quince or apricot, either one a bit on the green side.  I have tasted $15 wines that were better, but also ones which were much worse.  A bit more ripeness would benefit this one, but then it might be trying to taste like California instead of Austria.  It's just fine as is for pairing with summer salads.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Bonny Doon's Flagship White Wine

Bonny Doon Vineyards' Le Cigare Blanc is the white counterpart to the always awesome Le Cigare Volant red blend, named for the alien spacecraft which was "banned by decree of the village council of Châteauneuf-du-Pape." The flying cigars may not be allowed to land in France, but they land at my place a lot. They are welcome visitors from another appellation far, far away. Well, just a bit north of me, anyway.

Bonny Doon's 2019 Le Cigare Blanc is crafted from California Central Coast grapes - 46% Grenache Blanc, 34% Vermentino and 20% Clairette Blanche.  The fruit came mostly from Arroyo Seco’s Beeswax Vineyard, with a smidge from Creston Ridge Vineyard in Paso Robles.  Randall Grahm says the Vermentino really shines through in this beverage, which he describes as "Delicious, refreshing gulp of wine, perfect with seafood and more delicate fish."

Grahm feels lucky to be able to blend in Clairette Blanche in the cuvée for the first time.  He says it helps contribute additional length to the wine.  Alcohol tips 13.5% abv and it sells for $20.  By the way, the label art is from an 1855 edition of "Bordeaux Chateau," with the spaceship courtesy of Jules Verne, circa 1870.

Le Cigare Blanc's nose carries a whole bunch of tropical fruit with a touch of savory coming from the Beeswax Vineyard grapes, no doubt.  The acidity here is a ripping affair, so seafood is a must.  Lemons burst forth on the palate, with traces of pineapple, grapefruit and mango also showing.  The finish is long and and lanky and leaves the memory of Meyer lemon behind.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

White Wines Spotlighted At Los Angeles Event

Any lover of white wines would appreciate a tasting event geared specifically to their taste.  Those get-togethers are few and far between, unfortunately.

Recently, Los Angeles wine educator Ian Blackburn turned his WineLA spotlight at the Peninsula Hotel on the fairer side of the wine world.  Blanc de Blancs focused on whites, rosés and sparklers in a walk-around tasting which was beefed up by seminars on more specific topics.  Attendees were asked to wear white, but the photo shows some Angelenos can't go out in anything other than black.

Here are some of the standouts, with their suggested retail price and a brief tasting note included:

Maison Les Alexandrins Crozes-Hermitage Blanc 2017 - $29 - Marsanne/Roussanne blend shows a savory note. 

Famille Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2017 - $15 - Great minerals in this mix of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier..

Tablas Creek Esprit Blanc Paso Robles 2016 - $48 - Savory, great salinity, aged in huge oak vats.  Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Picpoul Blanc.

Tablas Creek Cotes de Tablas Blanc Paso Robles 2017 - $34 - Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Roussanne.  Fabulous.

Chateau de Beaucastel Cotes du Rhone Coudoulet Blanc 2014 - Marsanne, Viognier and Clairette grapes grown on a part of the estate that’s literally across the street from Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Domaine de l’Olivier Muscadet, Sevre et Maine 2016 - $16 - Big minerals from the Melon de Bourgogne grapes.  Ready for oysters.

Seigneurie de Posanges Chardonnay, Meursault Les Cras 1er Cru 2013 - $115 - Great touch of new oak.  I'm told the winemakers of Meursault never received their barrels back after shipping, as other regions did.  Therefore, they always used new oak.  They had no previously-used barrels.

Weingut Friedrich Becker, Estate Pinot Blanc, Pfalz Germany 2017 - $21 - Estate borders Alsace, and they have the minerals to prove it.

Weingut Okonomierat Rebholz, Riesling, Ganz Horn, Pfalz Germany 2014 - $79 - Much petrol.

Bernardus Sauvignon Blanc Arroyo Seco 2017 - $30 - Musqué clone from the Griva Vineyard, grapes that were planted at the request of Bernardus.  There's a splash of Semillon.  Aromatics aplenty, slight grassiness.

Bernardus Chardonnay, Sierra Mar Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands, 2016 - $50 - Only 400 cases produced.  Twelve months oak, doesn't show it.

Bernardus Saignée de Pinot Noir Rosé, Santa Lucia Highlands 2017 - $25 - The juice was bled from their six Pinots.  Great fruit, gentle acidity, perfect for the porch.

Mail Road Wines Chardonnay, Mt. Carmel Vineyard, Sta. Rita Hills 2013-2015 - $100-$125 - Aged in a three-way combo of new and used oak and steel, and the wood hardly shows.

BOLD Wine Co. Albariño, Arroyo Seco 2018 - $25 - From Seabold Cellars.  The minerals dominate.  Their 2017 Dry Riesling from the same AVA shows a bit of petrol.

Law Estate Wines Soph 2015-2017 - $80 - Roussanne is one of my favorite grapes, and all three of these vintages are heavy with it, Marsanne and Clairette Blanche added, all from the Law Family Vineyard in Paso Robles.  Great stuff here.

Long Meadow Ranch Pinot Gris, Anderson Valley 2017 -$35 - Dry and steely, and quite Burgundian.

Stony Hill Vineyard Chardonnay Spring Mountain District, Napa Valley 2016 - $54 - Lots of minerals, six months neutral French oak, on the lees with no stirring.

Domaines Schlumberger Pinot Gris 2017 - $19 - Salinity now!  So nice to get something other than flowers from a grape that can show beautifully, which it does here.  From Alsace.

Domaines Schlumberger Riesling Saering 2015 - $29 - Beautiful petrol note.

Famille Hugel Riesling Grosse Laüe 2011 - $76 - Petrol

Monday, August 7, 2017

Spain's White Refresher

Spanish white wines are special, especially during summer. Their refreshing acidity, buoyant fruit and steely minerality just beg to be taken outside with you for a picnic or just to the porch.

Maetierra says they are the only winery in Rioja that makes only white wines. Located in Calahorra, they use grapes from all over the country. It’s hot over much of Spain, but there are cool-climate regions near the Atlantic Ocean, and those places are where the grapes are grown for the Atlantis line.

The bodega started as a college experiment in 2001, just yesterday as far as Spanish wine history goes. Under Raul Acha's guidance the wines just keep on coming.

These Albariño grapes come from Rias Biaxas, on Spain’s northwestern edge, just north of Portugal and splashed by the Atlantic. The wine’s alcohol content comes in at 12.5% abv and the price seems to run about 12 bucks.

The Maetierra Atlantic Albariño is a pretty, pale golden wine. I love the nose. It shows a serious savory side, with a soapy salinity. There's great fruit in there, too, a gentle note of limes and tangerines. The palate brings plenty of minerals to the forefront with a racy acidity that really refreshes. Pair it with crab, oysters or peel-and-eat shrimp for a delight.

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 15, 2015

Unexpected Napa: Artesa Albariño

The Napa Valley Vintners Association teamed up with The Daily Sip and the Sip’s editor-in-chief Karen MacNeil for a virtual wine tasting event which featured a sextet of “Unexpected Napa Wines.” What, exactly, are unexpected Napa wines? @TheDailySip tweeted the answer during the event. “We looked for classic estates making unexpected wines,” they chirped. “The #Napa Valley is a hotbed of American innovation,” they continued. “Traditions thrive and evolve while winemakers explore the new.”

The six wines tasted ranged from a mildly unexpected unoaked Chardonnay to quite unexpected California Albarino, Chenin Blanc and Petit Verdot to Fumé Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon - which I would say are far from unexpected in Napa Valley.

The #SipWithKaren wines:

Alpha Omega 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay
Artesa 2014 Albarino.
Cornerstone Cellars 2013 Chenin Blanc
Robert Mondavi Winery 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Mondavi Winery 2013 Fume Blanc
St. Supery 2010 Dollarhide Petit Verdot

I was invited to join this little party and was provided samples of the wines for that purpose. I am covering them separately here.

Artesa 2014 Albariño

This unexpected wine is made from 100% Carneros Albariño grapes from the Artesa estate vineyard. Alcohol hits a moderate 13.9% abv in this refresher, fermented and aged in stainless steel (85%)
and new french oak barrels (15%) for five months.

The Artesa website talks terroir. "With its cool climate, Carneros is the perfect region for planting Spain’s most famous white grape – Albariño. This variety loves cool weather and ripens late without reaching high alcohol levels. For this reason we planted the now 20-year old vines in one of the coolest spots on our estate vineyard." Winemaker Ana Diogo-Draper utilized whole cluster pressing, which adds an herbal dimension that I love to find, particularly in a white wine.

@TheDailySip noted that "While only 19 acres of #albariño are planted in #Napa, @Artesa’s vineyard is 20 years old."  @sonadora is "Always surprised to see an Albarino from CA, especially from Napa!" @dvinewinetime commented that it is a "glass full of spun gold. Sweet banana & pineapple notes on the nose." Agreed. @KMacWine found "a distinctiveness to the fruit that makes Artesa #albariño distinctively #Napa, not #RiasBaixas. It’s ripe and long," she tweeted. @beerrabble liked the "perfume on the nose to start, slate on the mid palate-little tangy. nice on a warm night."

More tasting notes came from @SLHousman: "This Napa Artesa Albariño refreshing w/flavors of white peaches, lemons w/hints of bananas in the finish." @Hawk_Wakawaka loves "finding the unusual whites that do well in Napa. Albarino there was one of 1st new world spots for the variety." @DrinkWhatULike was whipped into a frenzy: "Whoa, holy peach/honeysuckle aromatics. Vibrant. Expressive. Lovely citrus acidity. Digging this." @Shona425 loved it, too. "Clean and crisp, not tart. A great option for a summer white."

This wine has more tropical fruit than Carmen Miranda's hat. Pineapples and bananas are sticking out in front, citrus and peaches on the sides and flowers all around. And those are just the smells. Take a swig of this chilled Albariño and let your fruit flag fly. But there is a nice hatband of minerality and a gentle lemon-lime note joined by a brimful of acidity. You'll want something like this anytime you find yourself under a Panama hat.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lodi Summer White Wine: Uvaggio Moscato Secco

Virtual wine tasting events are becoming more and more popular, in which Twitter users take to the Twitterverse for an hour or so to taste a selection of wines and comment on them.  A large contingent of Lodites took to their favorite social media platform recently to swirl, sip and spill the beans about the amazing white wines of the Lodi AVA.  The comments put forth by the participants can be found under the hashtag #LodiLive, while full details of the event and the video stream is found here.  The wines were provided to me for review.

Lodi makes about 24% of the wine produced in California.  Various Tweeters commented that a grand total of seventy-five wine grapes are grown in Lodi, and 20-30 of them are white varieties.  The region is the leading producer of Chardonnay,Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc in the Golden State.  Rhone and Spanish varieties are popular favorites of winegrowers in Lodi.  The real purpose of this virtual tasting event was to illustrate that Lodi is more than red wine country. and their mission was accomplished.

The 2012 Uvaggio Moscato Secco is quite a bargain.  It's surprisingly dry, tastes and smells great and only rings up at about $15 on the cash register.  Jim Moore, the proprietor/winemaker of Uvaggio, specializes in Italian varieties.  He owes a debt to the old-world styles, but he is not limited by them.  "We are not attempting to duplicate what Italy has to offer," he says.  "Rather, we are creating our own interpretation, to bridge the best of both worlds."  Uvaggio is a Napa-based outfit, but they utilize only Lodi-grown grapes.

The winery points out that the Moscato Giallo grape variety "is relatively obscure even in Italy and is so uncommon in the U.S. that our government does not yet recognize it as a varietal.  We produce both a dry and a sweet version of Moscato.  The dry version, Secco, is a surprising take on what people might think of as a dessert wine.  However, it will stand up to most meals one might prepare using chicken or pork.  The sweet version, Dolce, is not sticky sweet like some Muscat-based wines, but elicits just the right hint of ripe fruit and honey."

The Secco is made from 100% Moscato Giallo from the Lodi appellation, specifically the Bella Vigna Vineyard.  Grapes were harvested in mid-October, but still at moderate sugar levels.  No malolactic fermentation here, so the acidity is untempered while the alcohol hits only 12.9%.

The Twitter users were vocal about this wine.  @norcalwine tweeted, "Uvaggio Moscato Secco's nose is spicy with notes of mineral, baked ham and an assortment of wildflowers," while @norcalwine messaged "I LOVE the nose. This is not your little sister's Moscato. It's savory AND floral."  @Luscious_Lushes liked the “Intensely aromatic, floral aromas. Secco but not SWEET."  @cellarmistress commented, "That nose speaks to me. Moscato has such a beautiful orange flower nose."  @dvinewinetime liked the "Light fruit of peach, white plums and cantalope! Unique & beautiful,"
while @FrugalWineSnob went for the "Honeysuckle, ginger. Yet another surprise: very dry!"

This dry Moscato does have a very floral nose with beautiful layers of honey, cantaloupe, tropical fruit and a touch of spice.  The aromas are sweet - dessert wine sweet - but the sip spins that notion around 180 degrees.  It's dry and savory, but a trace of sweetness does come in on the finish.  There is a very Riesling-y petrol note on the mid-palate, as well.  Fascinating?  Yes.  Great acidity?  Got it.  Flavor all over the place?  Check.  With Secco chilled, summer doesn't seem so hot anymore.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer White Wines: Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha Blanca, Lodi

Another virtual wine tasting event took hold of Twitter for an hour recently, and a large contingent of Lodites took to their favorite social media platform to swirl, sip and spill the beans about the amazing white wines of the Lodi AVA.  The comments put forth by the participants can be found under the hashtag #LodiLive, while full details of the event and the Twitter stream is found here.

I met Markus and Liz Bokisch once when they poured their wines in Los Angeles. They are wonderful, nice people who share a passion for wine - in particular the grapes of the Iberian Peninsula.  Markus spent childhood summers with relatives in Spain, hence the love of Spanish grapes.

The 2013 Bokisch Vineyards Garnacha Blanca Vista Luna Vineyard is primarily Grenache Blanc - in its Spanish depiction, Garnacha Blanca - with a 10% splash of Albariño.  Fermentation and aging was done all in steel.  The Vista Luna Vineyard is in the Borden Ranch appellation of Lodi, carries a 13.2% alcohol content and it retails for $18.

During the virtual event on Twitter, @cellarmistress commented, “This is a gorgeous wine, voluptuous mouthfeel, yum!"  @Luscious_Lushes tweeted, “Mouthfeel is rich & unctuous. I like it cold but even a bit warm its just a lovely wine.”  I always like to taste whites without a chill.  @pullthatcork posted, “Nice to see the lower ABV (13.2) What you want in a summer sipping wine."

@WineJulia thought, “It's amazing how clear the Grenache Blanc is! What a tropical beauty. Delicious” while @ChasingJen went for some food pairings: “imagine with apricots/blue cheese/honey on walnut crackers.”  @WINEormous liked it “with a smoked cheddar. It's so food friendly!”  @myvinespot offered some thoughtful tasting notes: “Stone & tree fruit, delightfully textured, fine acid structure. Very food-friendly."

This gorgeous white wine sits very pale in the glass while aromas of peaches, nectarines and lime peel waft upward.  The minerals are an olfactory treat, too.  The flavors are peachy and citrusy enough, and a strong current of minerals is in play on the palate as it is on the nose.  The acidity is razor sharp and refreshing.  It's an amazingly food-friendly wine, as the Twitter users were quick to point out.  This is a white wine that can be paired with a number of meat dishes, even red meat.  It can also refresh on a warm day, but its strong suit is accompanying food.

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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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Monday, May 19, 2014

Bonny Doon Vineyard Albariño Central Coast 2013

Spring is taking its dear, sweet time about settling in this year.  Earlier this month I was still noticing baseball umpires wearing heavy jackets and gloves in Chicago.  Of course, in Chicago that might be considered routine.  The coldest baseball game I ever attended was in Chicago on Memorial Day weekend.  My eternal gratitude goes out to the nice folks who sat next to me.  They brought an extra blanket.  And to the hot chocolate machine.  It was way too cold for a beer.

Here in Los Angeles, spring comes and goes all year long.  Summer has already started trying to crowd its way in.  The tourists in rented convertibles are starting to look like they aren’t freezing with the top down.  Whether your spring is swinging, or you need some help really feeling it, an Albrariño just might do the trick.

Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon Vineyard has a recently released Albariño that is perfect for spring, and several other seasons, too.

Yes, the iconic “Rhône Ranger” also works his magic with the Iberian grape variety.  To hear him describe his minimal intervention winemaking, though, you get the impression there’s no magic involved.  You  may even think he simply throws some grapes in a tub, sits doon, waits a while and puts on a screw cap.  That’s not true, though.  Mr. Grahm has a machine which puts on the screw caps.

The Bonny Doon website offers a brief intro to Albariño:  “Until 1989 Albariño was one of the rarest wine varieties in the world, rarely glimpsed outside the Iberian Peninsula. Since that time, this light yet vibrant white grape has become a darling of wine geeks worldwide with its preternatural ability to pair with all types of seafood, cheese and salty dishes.”

The grapes for the 2013 Bonny Doon Albariño are Central Coast fruit, all Albariño.  73% of the grapes were grown in Kristy Vineyard in the Salinas Valley while the other 27% are from Edna Valley’s Jespersen Ranch.  Grahm notes that both sites are windy and cool during the summer.

The wine’s alcohol content of 13.2% makes it a perfect choice for spring and summer refreshment.  To paraphrase the brewer’s old ad copy, it’s a great wine for "when you’re having more than one."  Production was 1,592 cases and the wine retails for $18.

Pale straw in color with just a hint of green tint, the wine looks slightly frizzante in the glass.  A ring of small bubbles cling to the rim.  One sniff brings springtime into full focus.  A floral note of hibiscus mingles with peaches, pears and citrus mineral notes.  The palate shows some very nice mineral-laden salinity riding herd over the peach and lemon peel flavors.  There’s boat load of acidity, so the wine is completely refreshing.  It's also a great food wine.  Look for some Thai food or shellfish to make it really sing.

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