Tag-Archive for ◊ Chardonnay ◊

26 Nov 2010 Anderson Valley — Alsace of America?

I love Alsacian wines!  The wines of Alsace have bright, lovely acidity, wonderful aromas and fantastic in your mouth.  The wines happen to be primarily white which may be a turn off for some people.  But, I say give them a chance especially on Thanksgiving.  The region is known for Muscat Blanc, Rielsing, Pinot Blanc, Gewurtraminer and some Pinot Noir.  These varietals all work very well with traditional Thanksgiving foods.  The wines are generally dry but you can find some with a bit of residual sugar for people with a sweet tooth.

Last weekend, I was wine tasting in Anderson Valley in Mendocino County.  Anderson Valley is an appellation well worth learning about if you are not familiar.  The valley is known for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Gewurtraminer.   Excellent sparkling wine is also being made in the valley by Roederer Estate and Scharfenberger (once owned by Dr. John Scharfenberger of the chocolate fame — he has since sold it to Roederer Estate).  The valley is in a cooler climate zone relative to most California grape growing locations which the warmish days and cooler nights gives you excellent temperature spreads which encourage phenolic ripeness while maintaining great acidity in the grapes.  As I was tasting, it struck me in how similar many of the wines were in style, aromas and flavors as Alsacian wines. 

On the wine tasting trip, I went to the following locations:
Roederer Estate – I started the day of wine tasting in a very refined way — drinking sparkling wine at Roederer Estate!  I can not recommend stopping here highly enough.  The people and wines are both tremendous.  One of the great things is to try the same wine aged in a 750 ml vs. the same wine aged in a magnum.  The wine aged in a magnum is smoother, better autolysis flavors (toast, yeast, etc).  The price difference is only $5 more for the magnum (generally) but well worth the price difference.  Of the wines I tried, I really enjoyed the Brut NV, Rose Brut NV and the 2000 L’ermitage (in the magnum).

Husch Vineyards – Husch Vineyards is one of the oldest active wineries in Anderson Valley.  They produce a wide range of wines: Muscat Canelli, Riesling, Gewurtraminer, Carigne, Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir.  They make a dry and a sweet Gewurtraminer — both of which are quite good.  The white wines were better than the reds.  The tasting room is a converted small shack into a cute and eclectic which fits in well in Mendicino County.

Navarro Vineyards — Navarro Vineyards is a must stop by when in Anderson Valley.  The tasting room is very well appointed with many bars and has very nice people working in it.  They were pouring 18 wines when I was there — mostly all white varietals (Riesling, Muscat Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Gewurtraminer).  Navorro does produce some nice lower price point simple Pinot Noirs from Anderson Valley.  The Muscat Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewurtraminer and Edelzwicker (blend of Riesling, Muscat Blanc, Gewurtraminer and Pinot Gris — a traditional blend in Alsace) were all very good.  We were also able to taste the 2008 Pinot Noirs and Syrahs that were bottled under a second label — Fireside — due to the smoke issues from all the fires in the Anderson Valley.  The Fireside wines were actually pretty good especially at the price of $12 / bottle; these wines would be great at any BBQ.

Standish Cellars – The tasting room is located in an old apple drying building.  The building is very cool and worth the time to check out.  The wines are quite nice but a bit on the pricey side.  The 2007 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir was very good and worth tasting.  You will not be disappointed.

Toulouse Vineyards – They are in the process of building a tasting room on the vineyard site.  The temporary tasting room was in the winery itself that had a wonderful homey and authentic feel to it!  When I get to building a winery / tasting room, I want it have this type of feel.  The wines were quite good especially their Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir!  The people are wonderful and this is well worth your time to taste their wines!  They also have great cheese crackers to cleanse your palate (impossible to just have one). 

Scharfenberger Cellars – Even though Roerderer Estate owns Scharfenberger now, they are maintaining the Scharfenberger house style quite faithfully.   The house style is made to suite the American palate (noticable residual sugar) vs. an older world palate (drier).

Jim Ball Vineyards — specializes in Pinot Noir and does a fantastic job.  If you are in the area, please go in and taste, you will be very glad that you did!  The vineyards were planted in 2000 with the first vintage being in 2004.  The Pinot Noirs are very good especially the owners blend.  The 2007 vintage is very good (as you might expect).

Londer Vineyards – they have a very nice tasting room in Booneville (eastern Anderson Valley) and have a wide range of excellent wines!  The white and red wines were equally good which is rare thing at a winery.  2008 Corby Vineyard Chardonnay is very good (the Robert Young clone is very distintive and enjoyable).  The three Pinot Noirs (2007 Anderson Valley, 2007 Ferrington Vineyards – Anderson Valley, and the 2007 Parabol Vineyard – Anderson Valley) that I tried were all very good and distinctive — you must try all of them.

If you are not familiar with the wines of Anderson Valley, it is well worth your time to learn more!

11 Feb 2010 Terroirs & Signatures De Bourgogne 2010 – San Francisco

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going to the Terroirs & Signatures De Bourgogne 2010 wine tasting in San Francisco.  Unfortunately, I only had an hour and half to taste so I had to go into speed tasting mode.  Given I was speed tasting, I was just rating the wine up to 5 stars where 5 is the best but not taking any significant notes.   I only got to 12 out of the 21 producers.  Overall, the wines were very good with only a few of the wines showing “earthy / barnyard” characteristics.  The wines seem to be much cleaner than in the past from the region — excellent fruit characteristics, bright acidity and well balanced (in general).   It seems that the international wine style is starting to creep in Burgundy or is it more modern production techniques cleaning up some cellar issues (not sure but it seems like an improvement to me).  For more information on Burgundy — http://www.Burgundy-wines.fr

The tasting will also be available in Los Angeles  on February 12th to trade only.

Exhibitors Choice Table
4 stars — Maison Jaffelin, 2007 Rully (white)
3.75 stars — Collin Bourisset, 2007 Pouilly-Fuisse
3.25 stars — Domaine ROUX Pere & Fils, 2007 Rully, Clos des Mollepierres [Note: the oak seemed a bit much to me]

Champy
3.25 stars — 2007 Saint-Romain (good minerality and acidity)
3 stars — 2008 Bourgogne (white) (spicy)
3 stars — 2007 Corton-Charlemange (too much oak for my taste)
2.75 stars — 2007 Volnay
3.5 stars — 2007 Vosne-Romanee (light & delicate)
3.25 stars — 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin (heavy and earthy)
3 stars — 2007 Corton (dark fruit and earth)

Chanson Pere & Fils
3 stars — 2008 Vire-Clesse
3.25 stars — 2007 Puligny-Montrachet
3.25 stars — 2007 Beaune 1st Cru, le Clos des Mouches
3 stars — 2007 Pernand-Vergelesse 1st Cru, en Caradeux(white) (flavors seem a bit under developed)
2.75 stars — 2007 Bourgogne Pinot Noir (spicy by thin)
2.8 stars — 2007 Pernand-Vergelesse 1st Cru, Vergelesses (red) (seemed overcropped but has potential in later harvests)

Collin Bourisset
2.25 stars — 2007 Bourgogne Pinot Noir
3 stars — 2008 Macon Villages
3 stars — 2008 Vire-Clesse

Maison Joseph DROUHIN
3.25 stars — 2008 Chablis, Vaudon
3.5 to 3.75 stars — 2007 Puligny-Montrachet
3 stars — 2007 Chorey-les-Beaune (an easy drinking wine)
3.25 stars — 2007 Cote de Beaune
3 stars — 2007 Gevrey-Chambertin

Domaine FOURREY & Fils
2.75 stars — 2008 Chablis 1st Cru, Mont de Milieu (had a musty note to it — would have score much higher otherwise)
3.25 stars — 2008 Chablis 1st Cru, Vaillons

Domaine Pierre GLANTENAY
3 stars — 2007 Volnay
3.5 stars — 2007 Volnay 1st Cru, Santenots
2.25 stars — 2006 Pommard (earthy and some brett)

Maison JAFFELIN — A producer to watch!
3 stars — 2007 Puligny-Montrachet
2.25 stars — 2007 Meursault (too much acidity — flavors are overwhelmed)
3.25 stars — 2007 Rully (white)
3 stars — 2007 Pouilly-Fuisse (good mineral and green apple)
2.5 stars — 2008 Macon Peronne (strong honeyed fruits)
3 stars — 2007 Chassagne-Montrachet
2.25 stars — 2007 Rully (red) (light concentration and quite earthy)
3.5 stars — 2007 Givry 1st Cru, les Grandes Vignes
2.75 stars — 2007 Beaune 1st Cru, Les Cent Vignes
3 stars — 2007 Pommard
3.25 stars — 2007 Nuits-Saint-George

Olivier LAROCHETTE
2.25 stars — 2008 Macon Villages (funky taste)
2.5 stars — 2007 Bourgogne Chardonnay, Vieilles Vignes
3 stars — Bourgogne Pinot Noir, Vieilles Vignes (very soft wine but seemed a tad out of balance)

Chateau de Messey/Domaine BELLEVILLE
3 stars — 2007 Mercury (white) (floral, strong mineral and good concentration)
3.25 stars — 2007 Rully 1st Cru, la Fosse (ripe fruit – apple and mineral)
3.75 stars — 2007 Puligny-Montrachet, les Boudrieres
3.5 stars — 2006 Meursault 1st Cru, la Piece sous le Bois
3 stars — 2007 Aloxe-Corton

Domaine des MALANDES — Outstanding producer
2.5 stars — 2008 Petit Chablis
3.5 stars — 2008 Chablis, Vieilles Vignes, Tour du Roy (50% oak)
3.25 stars — 2008 Chablis 1st Cru, Cote de Lechet
3 stars — 2008 Chablis 1st Cru, Vau De Vey
3.5 stars — 2007 Chablis Grand Cru, Vaudesir
4 stars — 2007 Chablis Grand Cru, les Clos

Domaine PARENT
2.75 stars — 2007 Bourgogne Pinot Noir (good acidity, should improve in the bottle)
3 stars — 2007 Pommard
3.5 stars — 2007 Pommard 1st Cru, les Epenots
3.75 stars — 2007 Corton Grand Cru, Les Renardes (needs many years of bottle age)
3.25 stars — 2007 Corton Grand Cru (red) (violets)
2.75 stars — 2007 Corton Grand Cru (white)

Chateau de VILLARS Fontaine
2.75 stars — 2002 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, les Jiromees (white)
3 stars — 2003 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, le Rouard (white)
2.75 stars — 1997 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, les enevrieres
2 stars — 1993 Bourgogne Hautes-Cotes de Nuits, les Genevries

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.

02 Jul 2009 2007 Alysian, Chardonnay, Cresta Ridge Vineyard, Russian River Valley

Appearance:
Medium- lemon green core transitioning to water white rim

Nose:
Medium+ intensity aromas of mineral, apple blossom, green apple, asian pear, ripe pear and slight diacetyl

Palate:
pronounced intensity flavors of apple blossom, green apple, asian pear, green apple, bosc pear, oak and hint of diacetyl (layered, complex and evolving); medium alcohol; long length, medium+ concentration; medium+ acidity.

Quality:
Excellent quality due to the aromas / flavor intensity, concentration, long length, complexity, excellent typicity.  Gary Ferrell has done a tremendous job on his initial release from his new winery, Alysian.  The wine is complex, balanced and will hold up well for many years.

Alysian wines are very good now but will be excellent with a few years in the bottle.  The oak is very well done and a nice balance to the aromas/flavors intensity and profile.

21 May 2009 2006 Leeuwin Estate, Prelude Vineyards, Chardonnay, Margaret River
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Appearance: bright, medium, lemon-green core -> water white rim

Nose: clean, medium intensity aromas of citrus (lime), mineral, star fruit and hint of vanilla

Palate: medium+ acidity; medium intensity flavors that match the aromas; medium length but has slight bitterness on the finish (phenolic).  The flavors are complex and layered.

Quality: This is a very good example of chardonnay from the Margaret River region of Australia.  The acidity and lime notes are strongly associated with this region.  If you enjoy lime and chardonnay, you really should try this chardonnay.

23 Feb 2009 2007 Seawind Chardonnay, Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, Santa Lucia Highlands

Appearance: Bright, clear medium- gold/yellow core to  water-white rim.

Nose: clean, medium+ intensity with flavors of chalky mineral, honeycomb, cantaloupe

Palate: medium+ intensity; medium- acidity, medium+ alcohol, medium+ concentration, medium+ length; flavors of honey, mineral, cantaloupe, oak and a dried white grape finish.  The wine has a noticable palate weight similar to a viognier but it could use some more acid to backup the ripe fruit flavors and heavy palate weight.  The finish is not as crisp as I would prefer.

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.