Tag-Archive for ◊ Cabernet Sauvignon ◊

09 Apr 2011 Tasting panel (Genophiles) enjoys tasting Lionheart wines

The Genophiles, a wine tasting group at Genentech, did a blind tasting of the following Lionheart Wines:
2007 Angel’s Share
2008 Angel’s Fare

2006 Syrah, Santa Barbara
2007 Syrah, Dry Creek Valley
2008 Syrah, Santa Barbara (available but not formally released)
2006 Roaring Red
2007 Roaring Red
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

The Genophiles are a group known for being brutally honest and fairly harsh critics.  I encouraged the group to be completely honest as I wanted to get their input on how the wines are aging and overall quality.  The ranking system is 0 to 3 puffs with 0.25 granularity (the scoring system is hard to explain.  The simplied version is this: 0 = the worst, 1 = I would drink this (might even pay for it), 2 = 90+ points and 3 = I would stab someone else to get the last of the bottle.).  There are also +/- involved.  

There were about 16 people tasting the wine so the results tended to be on a good bell curve distribution.  The group generally does not taste white wines as they have a bias against white wine…not worth the time was the feeling I got.  The group was pleasantly surprised by the white wines (they grudingly agreed the wines were good :) ).  Any wines that score a 2 will be in the running to be included in their end of the year blind tasting competition. 

My guess going into the tasting was that the blends would do well — white and red.  I was hoping to get the whites to score in the 2 range as it would be a big validation for the classic blend of Marsanne and Roussanne (with a hint of viognier for aromatics).  My guess was pretty good about what they liked.  I also noted that they tend to like the more aromatic and powerful wines.

The final tally was:
1.5+ =-> 2006 Syrah, Santa Barbara
1.75 =-> 2007 Angel’s Share (92 pts WE)
1.75 =-> 2008 Angel’s Fare (preferred overthe 2007 slightly)
1.75+ =-> 2007 Syrah, Dry Creek Valley
1.75+ =-> 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (90 pts WE)
2- –> 2008 Syrah, Santa Barbara
2- =-> 2007 Roaring Red, California
2- =-> 2006 Roaring Red, California
2 =-> 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Normally, only 1 wine out of 8 hits the 2 range. So, I feel pretty good about how the wines are showing and aging.  The tasting does indicate that if you have 2006 Syrah, I would suggest that you break it out and enjoy it with some slow braised meat tonight ( especially lamb!)

29 Oct 2009 Barrel tasting the remaining 2008 vintage wines

I did barrel tasting from the remaining 2008 wines in barrel with some wine club members on Tuesday.  The wines tasted were: 2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast; 2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese, Santa Barbara; 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Coombsville Vineyard, Napa Valley; 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Rafael Vineyard, Napa Valley.  All of the wines are tasting very good! :)

I was quite happy at how all of the wines showed.  Here are some tasting notes:
The 2008 White Hawk Vineyard, Sangiovese was tremendous!  It has great concentration with aromas and flavors of blue fruit (blueberry, boysenberry) and cherry.  The wine is not as classic as the 2007 Sangiovese is but I think a bit of blending with Sangiovese from the Stophlman vineyard will bring in a the lovely sour cherry flavor one looks for in Sangiovese.  Also, a bit of Cabernet Sauvignon will give it a long and lovely finish.

The 2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, which has had its primary blend done already is very similar to the 2007 Pinot Noir with the exception of more smoke, earth and hints of spice.  The acidity on the wine might need a slight tweek just before bottling but seems very good during my quick taste.  If you liked the 2007 Pinot Noir, I think you will enjoy the 2008 version very much.  I will be doing the final blend of the 2008 Pinot Noir to have it bottled in time for Christmas but not Thanksgiving. 

The two Cabernet Sauvignons are amazing!  The wine is concentrated, rich and complex.  The fruit flavors of the Coombsville vineyard is quite striking — lots of cassis with some nice middle-palate fruit and a long finish.  The Rafael Vineyard fruit tastes of dense raspberry jam.  It is not typical for Cabernet Sauvignon to have a raspberry flavor but the combination of the two wines will be very good.  I will be looking to blend in some petite verdot to add complexity with a spicey and tannic element and some Cabernet Franc for aromatics.  The resulting blend will be powerful wine with some nice aging potential.

22 Oct 2009 Georgian Wines…7000 years and going strong!

Archeologists have found evidence of wine production carbon-dated to around 5000 BC in the country of Georgia.  The word, wine, comes from the Georgian word “gvino” which the Greeks and Romans shortened to vino which the French then changed it to vin.  Georgia has over 500 unique grape varietals.  38 grape varietals are officially allowed for commercial viticulture.  The approved varietals include: Saperavi, Rkatsiteli, Tsolikouri, Tsitska, Chinuri, Goruli, Mtsvane, Kakhuri Mtsvane, Odzhaleshi, Orbeluri Odzhaleshi, Aladasturi, Obchuri Dzvelshavi, Aligote, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Usakhelouri, Alexandriuli, Mudzhuretuli, Otskhanuri Sapere, Krakhuna, Chkhaveri, Tetra, and Khikhvi.

Georgia geography is basically a valley located between two mountain ranges and the Black Sea.  Most of the valley is planted with grape vines.  It is the same latitude as parts of France, Italy, Spain and Northern California.  So, it has the potential to produce great grapes and should start to be taken seriously in the West.  Georgia has five viticultural zones: Kakheti, Kartli, Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi, and the humid subtropical zone.

Georgia has become known for its sparkling wine.  The sparkling wine has been nearly completely consumed by Russia and former Soviet Union states  until the armed conflict between Russia and Georgia.  Russia has started to boycott Geogian products, so Georgian wine producers have started to export their still and sparkling wines beyond Russia. 

The wine distributor that I work for has started to carry the Bagrationi 1882 sparkling wines from Georgia.  If you have an opportunity to try these sparkling wines, I suggest that you do.  The wines are made from varietals only available in Georgia resulting in a unique flavor profile somewhere between Champagne and Cava.  The methode champenoise produced sparkling wines are produced from the Chinebuli, Mtsvane and Tsitska varietals.  Chinebuli is a rare varietal from the Kartli region of Georgia.  The charmat method sparkling wines are non-vintage with some variable % of  Chinebuli, Mtsvane and Tsitska varietals depending on the specific lot.

30 Jul 2009 Bottling 2007 Roaring Red

A quick update from Lionheart Wines….

I bottled the 2007 Roaring Red, Proprietary blend, yesterday into shiners (bottles without labels for capsules).  The chemistry for the wine is: S02 – 32 ppm, pH – 3.58, TA – 5.3 grams/liter, ABV – 14.65% and VA of 0.60 grams/liter.  We ended up with 26 cases plus 9 loose bottles.  It is a small amount of wine but the challenge will now be to sell it given the challenging environment. 

I need to get the label text figured out and submitted for TTB approval.  After the labels are approved and printed, I will get the shiners labelled.  The wine will not be released until the fall so the wine has time to integrate and get over bottle shock.  I learned from the 2006 Roaring Red that it need about 6 to 8 months for the wine to fully integrate, but you could tell how the wine was going to evolved after 4 months or so.

The final blend works out to be:
55% 2007 Dry Creek Valley, Syrah
23% 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon
6% 2007 Mourvedre, Lodi
5% 2007 Napa Valley, Petite Verdot
9% 2007 Napa Valley, Malbec
2% 2007 Napa Valley, Merlot

So, this blend is very nearly a Bordeaux Blend just missing some Cabernet Franc to complete the big 5 varietals.  I guess you could say that this is a Bordeaux blend interpreted via the Northern Rhone (as the Syrah was co-fermented with Viognier).  The wine is a big, bold wine and truly lives up to the name — Roaring Red!

02 Jul 2009 Boeger Real Deal Red Lot#1, El Dorado

Appearance:
Deep ruby w/purple hue core transitioning to ruby rim

Nose:
Clean, medium intensity aromas of cherry (red and black), cedar, forest floor, mocha and vanilla

Palate:
Medium soft tannins; medium acidity; medium- body; medium+ intensity flavors of cherry (red and black), mocha, milk chocolate, vanilla and oak/cedar; The flavors are nicely layered / complex with enough oak to make it enjoyable but not overwhelming.

Quality:
Good quality wine well suited for summer BBQ and easy drinking events.  The wine is a very enjoyable easy quaffer.

Note:
The wine is a blend of 55% Syrah, 20% Mourvedre, 20% Grenache, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  The alcohol is 14.1%

19 May 2009 Spring Blending Update

Spring blending is underway at Lionheart Wines!  I have been working on blending the following wines:

2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2007 Roaring Red, California
2008 Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
2008 white Rhone blend (we can not use ‘The Angel’s Share’ anymore due to a trademark issue…if you have a suggestion for what to call the wine, please let me know)

The blending has gone very well.  I really enjoy working on blending the wines as you get to “fine tune” the work started way back at harvest of the grapes.   I have a wine style in mind which I try to reach in the final blend but do not artificially impose my will on what the wines are showing as their best qualities.  I want to make the best possible wine given the base blending components.

The 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is looking to be a different style than then 2006; the 2007 has more ripe cherry / plum fruit which the blending will need to tone down.  I am going to be doing blend tests with Petite Verdot (to add spicyness and warm baking spices), Cabernet Franc (to add some floral aromas and more velvety tannins) and a bit of Malbec (make the wine more interesting, more layered in aromas and flavors).  The exact blend has not been worked out yet; the primary blend should be done by the first week in June.  The primary blend will then be put back in barrel to let it integrate before any final adjustments and bottling later this year.

The 2007 Roaring Red has been a bit of challenge this year.  I had to do a fining trial to get the tannin profile in line with the target wine.  The fining trial was done by taking equal volume samples of the current blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley and Kiona, Washington) and Dry Creek Syrah and adding 1 egg white worth to one sample, 2 egg white worth to another sample, etc and then left in a refrigerate to cold stablize it for a week.  The results from the fining trial indicated that about 1.25 egg whites per barrel seemed to get the proper tannin softness and structure for the wine.   After the actual fining is completed, the last part of the primary blend will be done.  The blending wines to be tested are Eaglepoint Grenache (for spiceyness and addition of light red fruits (currants, strawberry, etc) ), Contra Costa Mourvedre (for aromas and flavor complexity) and Petite Verdot ( for spiceyness and warm baking spices).

The 2008 Pinot Noir primary blending was very easy — equal parts of the Bohemian Vineyard and Gap’s Crown vineyard.  The blend was really nice and very similar to the 2007 Pinot Noir.   The blend will be topped with some of the Bohemian 777 clone from the second pick to add a bit more concentration to the wine as it integrates.   I am very happy with the base wines from these two vineyards!

The 2008 Saralee’s Vineyard, White Rhone Blend (formerly ‘The Angel’s Share’) blending was a several hour and over 15 blends tested for the primary blend to be determined.  The blend components all look very good by themselves but when properly combined you get a really lovely wine.   The final blend should be very similar to the 2007 White Rhone blend.   The 2008 primary blend is going to be 48% Roussanne / 50% Marsanne / 2% Viognier.    It was very cool to  be able to tell how the wine was going to evolve given this would be the third vintage — remember what the wines were like when initially blended versus the current state of each vintage.   I really enjoy working with the white Rhone varietals as the flavors and aromas are very complex and beguiling.  The white Rhone wine maybe bottled near the end of June depending on how the primary blend stablizes in tank.

11 Feb 2009 2007 Enamore, Allegrini + ReNacer

This wine is priced at $40 USD.  The wine is blend of Malbec (60%), Cabernet Franc (23%), Cabernet Sauvignon (10%), Syrah (4%) and Bonarda (3%).  The grapes were dried and processed in the Amarone style — dried on trays before being crushed and fermented.  The grapes were cold soaked for 10 days at 8 degree celsius and then fermented using native yeast for 90 days in stainless steel tanks at temperatures between 27 and 29 degrees C.  The wine was aged in new French Oak barriques for 12 months.

Appearance: opaque ruby core -> water white rim

Nose: medium intensity with flavors of berry compote, blood plum

Palate: medium+ concentration; medium alcohol; long finish; flavors = berry compote, black berry, plum, slight savory element.  The palate is very dense, balanced from start to finish. 

Quality: This is a very good wine and well worth seeking out.  The wine will hold for many years and develop more complexity in the bottle.

11 Feb 2009 2005 Cavas de Crianza, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza
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The wine is priced at 30 Argentinian Pesos or $10 USD.

Appearance: deep ruby core -> ruby rim

Nose: Medium+ Intensity, clean ; aromas: black currant, very slight herbaceousness, red fruits, dark fruits, baking spices

Palate: high acidity; medium+ soft and round tannins; medium alcohol; medium+ concentration; long length; flavors: red cherry, cedar, oak, fruit tiannins, currant (red & black); slight dip in the mid-palate but overall complex and layered.

Quality: Good due to concentration, flavor and aroma intensity, overall balance.

Note: After 30 minutes, dried black currant became much more noticable, so the wine is probably getting near it’s peak (within a year or two).

05 Feb 2009 Vintage 2008 Barrel Sampling results

I have been tasting through my 2008 barrels to see how the vintage is coming along.  So far, the vintage looks to have promise — the final wines could be very impressive but it will take some careful work with them to make it happen.   At the moment, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Sangiovese are looking very good.

2008 Combsville Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Appearance: opaque red/purple core -> purple rim
Nose: medium+ intensity; coffee/espresso, cedar, black currant, boysenberry, herbs
Palate: Acidity = high; tannins = high, grippy; Flavors = black currant, boysenberry, cedar; Intensity = pronouned; alcohol = medium+, length = medium+
This wine is going to be the backbone of our Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon — it is off to a great start and I can not wait to see how it evolves in barrel.

2008 Rafael Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Appearance: opaque- ruby/slight purple hue core -> purple rim
Nose: pronounced intensity; red fruit (cherry, pomegranite, strawberry, slight sour cherry), black currant, fresh raspberry
Palate: intensity = pronounced; acidity = high; tannins = medium, fine-grained; flavor = black pepper, red cherry, strawberry, red curants, slight espresso; length = long
This wine will be the “fruit” component to the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon blend.  It tastes lovely now with a lot of complexity already.

2008 White hawk vineyard, Syrah, Santa Barbara
Appearance: opaque purple/ruby core -> purple rim
Nose: intensity = medium-; violets, plum, rhubbarb, slight cedar
Palate: intensity = medium+; tannins = medium; length = medium+; flavors: espresso, strawberry, pomegranite, cedar (on finish), slight black pepper on finish; alcohol = medium+

2008 Thompson Vineyard, Syrah, Santa Barbara
Appearance: opaque ruby/purple core -> purple rim
Nose: intensity = pronounced; oak, coffee/espresso, red fruit (cherry, currant), slight floral, black fruit (olive and cherry), green olive
Palate: acidity = medium+; tannins = medium+ grippy; length = long; alcohol = medium+; flavors = olive tempanda, black pepper, oak, rhubbarb (red savory), star anise; finish = slightly bitter

2008 Bohemian Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley/Sonoma Coast
Appearance: medium ruby with slight purple hue core -> pink rim
Nose: intensity = medium+; toasted oak, red cherry, fresh strawberry, violets, slight espresso, smoke
Palate: Acidity = high; tannins = medium-, soft; length = medium+; concentration = medium-; flavors = cherry, strawberry, watermelon, smome, white pepper on finish (slight bitterness with a bit of angular acidity).
This wine is quite different from prior vintage: prior vintage= long even growing season, this vintage = short growing season with heavy frost damage early in the vintage.

2008 Gap’s Crown Vineyard, Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Appearance: deep ruby/purple core -> pink rim
Nose: intensity = medium+; sulphur, black fruits (cola, cherry, currant), anise, warm spices
Palate: acidity = high; tannins = medium, slightly grippy; length = medium+; flavors = dark cherry, cola, earth, slight pomegranite, dried strawberry
This wine was sulphured two days before I tasted the wine, so nothing to worry about here.

2008 Saralee’s Vineyard, Marsanne, Russian River Valley
Appearance: light gold core -> water white rim
Nose: intensity = pronounced; mineral, white floral, tea, honeysuckle, pear blossom, pear, asian pear, fresh cut grass
Palate: Acidity = high; length = medium+; flavors = mineral, honeysuckle, bosc pear, white pepper on finish; concentration = medium-
This wine is off to great start.  The concentration/body weight is a bit light right now but the stirring program has just been started.  The palate weight will improve as the lees are stirred (once every two weeks).

2008 Saralee’s Vineyard, Roussanne, Russian River Valley
Appearance: light gold core -> water-white rim
Nose: intensity = medium+; mineral, white floral (apple blossom), perfume, green fruit (pear), warm spice
Palate: acidity = medium+; intensity = medium+; length = medium+; concentration = medium+; flavors: mineral, white floral, pear, fuji apple, cardamon
This wine is turning out very nicely.  The wine did not go through malolactic fermentation to help retain the natural acidity.  The combination of the Marsanne and the Roussanne should make for another lovely white Rhone blend, The Angel’s Share!

30 Jan 2009 Wine Valleys of Chile
Overview of Chile's wine valleys

Overview of Chile

Chile is long narrow country next to the Pacific Oceans.  The proximity to the cool Pacific Ocean allows creates some great growing conditions in the valleys closest to the ocean — cool breezes at night to cool down the vineyards while the ocean acts as a thermal reservoir to keep the top temperatures in a good range.  The wide diurinal temperature swings is great for varietals that require a good amount of acidity.

Here are the valleys from the north to the south of Chile:

Limari Valley — vineyards: Francisco de Aguirre, Casa Tamaya, Tabli, Soler
The valley itself is mostly known for white grapes varieties distilled to make Pisco.  New technologies are being used to be able to grow grapes in the semi-arid conditions.

Aconcagua Valley — vineyards: Errazuriz, Sena, von Siebenthal
The region is known for its pioneering of Syrah.

Casablanca Valley — vineyards: Casas del Bosque, Catrala, Indomita, Matetic, Veramonte, Vina Mar, William Cole, Carmen, Casablanca, Casa Lapostolle, Morande Kingston, Quintay, Santa Rita, Ventisquero y Vinedos Organicos Emiliana

Casablanca Valley is Santiago’s gateway to the sea — located between Coastal Mountain Range and the Pacific Range.  The earliest vineyards were planted 20 years ago and was selected to grow white varietals due to the cool climate.  Currently, the area is known for Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Wine route information: Ruta de Casablanca, Phone: (56-32) 274-3933, www.casablancavalley.cl

San Antonio Valley — Vineyards: Garces Silva, Leyda, Matetic
San Antionio Valley is a very small growing area which is close to the sea (maritime climate).  The cool climate is excellent for Syrah which is helping to improve Chile’s repuation for Syrah.

Maipo Valley — Vineyards: Almaviva, Aquitania, Baron P. de Rothschild, Canepa, Carmen, Concha y Toro, Cousino Macul, Chocalan, de Martino, Domus, La rosa Odfjell, Santa ema, Santa Rita, Tarapaca, Undurraga, Ventisquero.

Maipo Valley is located between the Andes and the Coastal Mountains.  The Valley is considered to have three unofficial regions: Alto Maipo (closest to the Andes), Central Maipo (valley floor) and Pacific Maipo (closest to the ocean).  The valley has a Mediterranean climate with some climate adjustment based on the nearby geography (ocean or the mountains).  The Alto Maipo produce ulta-premium wines while the other regions produce softer, fruiter wines.

Wine route information: Ruta del Vino Maipo Alto, Phone: (56-2) 3350732, www.maipoalto.com

Cachapoal Valley — Wine Route: Altair, Anakena, Casas del Toqui, Chateau Los Boldos, Gracia, Lagar de Bezana, La Rosa, Morande, Porta, Saint Gobain,Torreon de Paredes.

Carmenere is ideally suited for this valley.

Wine route information: Ruta de Cachapoal, Phone: (56-72) 584360, www.cachapoalwineroute.cl

Colchagua Valley — Wine Route: Bisquertt, Casa Lapostolle, Caliterra, Casa Silva, Cono Sur, Vinedos Organicos Emiliana, Estampa, Hacienda Araucano, Laura Hartwig, Las Ninas, Los Vascos, Luis Felipe Edwards, Montes, MontGras, Santa Cruz, Santa Helena, Santa Rita, Siegel, Viu Manent.

The valley is known to produce Chile’s finest red wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Syrah, Malbec.  The valley is closer to the ocean so the cooling breezes at night help to maintain acidity in the red grapes despite the warm daytime temperatures.  The net results is a long, slow ripening period.

Wine route: Ruta del Vino de Colchagua, Phone: (56-72) 823199, www.colchaguavalley.cl

Curico Valley — wine route: Altacima, Aresti, Astaburuaga, Correa Albano, Chilcas, echeverria, Ines Escobar, La Fortuna, Las Pitras, Los Robles, Miguel Torres, Mario Edwards, Miguel Torres, Millaman, Molina, Pirazzoli, San Pedro, San Rafael, Santa Hortensia, Valdivieso.

The Curico Valley is the second largest producer of wine in Chile with strong representation by Chile’s top producers.  Miguel Torres brought modern winemaking techniques to Chile in the 1970’s.  The region grows 17 red varieties and 15 white varieties.

Wine route — Ruta Del Vino Curico, Phone: (56-75) 328972, www.rutadelvinocurico.cl

Maule Valley — Wine route: Balduzzi, Botalcura, Calina, Casa Donoso, Casas Patronales, Corral Victoria, Cremaschi Furlotti, J. Bouchon, Los Acantos, Hugo Casanova, Terranoble, Valle Frio, Via Wine Group.
The Maule Valley is largest producing valley featuring 43% of the countries total planted acreage.  The valley has diverse geography so there is no one style of wine the valley is known for.

Wine route: Ruta del Vino Valle del Maule, Phone: (56-71) 246460, www.valledelmaule.cl

Itata valley — Vineyards: Calina, Casas Patronales, Hugo Casanova, Via Wine Group, Casas Giner
The Spanish black grape Pais still predominates in the area.  The valley has some of the earliest vineyards in Chile.

Bio Bio Valley — Vineyards: Canata, Gracia, Guilisasti
The region is known for rain and colder weather.  The climate helps Chardonnay, Gewurtztraminer and Riesling to express near old world levels of acidity.