Thursday, March 15, 2012

You Can Find Good, Restrained Chardonnay from the West Coast

Happy (almost) St. Patrick's Day!  Though I usually post a picture of the labels I'm talking about so you can find them in the store, I found this picture online earlier and felt it was apropos, not to mention much more fun!

Perhaps it's because they picked Evening Land, one of my favorite Oregon producers, number 2, but I felt compelled to share this article from the New York Times:

Oregon Chardonnay Speaks Up

For half the price of the Evening Land the New York Times tasted, Evening Land makes a Mad Hatter Chardonnay that is fantastic  I'm not a big Chardonnay fan and I love this wine.

I can also vouch for the Lemelson and the King Estate the Times wrote about.  Both good choices and $15 for a bottle of the King Estate is a crazy, good value.  Try paying that little for a California Chardonnay that is half as good!

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend and don't forget that green food coloring does o.k. in a good glass of white wine.....

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff or interesting article,


Alli M.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Little Side Tasting

Happy Friday! I am currently out in Anaheim, CA at the annual Expo West Natural and Organic trade show. Earlier tonight I had the opportunity to attend a wine tasting of several organic and biodynamic as well as vegan producers. It's a tough job, but someone has to taste all these wines and since I'm out here already, I figured it was worth the "sacrifice" to taste what is out there.

There were wines from all over the place, though it seems as though Mendocino in California has a large concentration of organic and even vegan producers.

As it turned out, my favortes from the evening were from all over the place and better yet, every one should be $20 or less at shelf:

Symphony Dornfelder, Germany - This is the second really good red wine I've had from this part of the world in the past several weeks. Maybe Austrian and German reds are coming into their own? Either way, this wine was light, full of cherry notes with sme nice minerality and acid.

Perlage Altana Rosata del Veneto Frizzante, Italy - Sparkling rose out of Northern Italy made from Cabernet Sauvignn. Delightful and fun, but with some darker berry and currant notes and a ice, long finish. It's rare to find a rose made from Cabernet Sauvignon, let alone a sparkling wine because these grapes are often preserved for more "serious" wine. This wine was seriously good enough for me. If I find it at shelf, I'll be picking one up.

Girasole Hybrid Red, Mendocino, CA - 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Syrah and 10% Merlot. Interesting blend and the most balanced red I drank tonight. Though Cabernet Sauvignon is the primary grapes, I got a mouthful of cherry, strawberry and even some floral notes. This is a lot more mellow than most CA Cabernet Sauvignon, but it has enough structure to hold up to weightier meals.

Frey Petite Sirah, Mendocino, CA - I wish more producers made Petite Sirah because when it's good, it is so good. This particular Petite Sirah has notes of violet, berry and a hint of earthiness. It's lovely and versatile and I can't wait to share the bottle I now have with sme friends.

Casa Barranca Syrah, Ojai, CA - bright red berries give way to gamey, earthy secondary notes. Reminded me of something I'd taste from the Rhone. My type of Syrah. Yum.

I know that many think that wine, by nature, is Organic, but it's much more complex. Producing a good wine without using any pesticides or unnatural filtering techniques takes a great deal of talent and finesse. I tasted over 40 wines tonight and there were many that I would gladly purchase. In fact, it was hard to cut my list of favorites down to 5.

I hope all of you get the chance to try at least one of these wines. I'll be seeking them out again.

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff,


Alli M

Monday, March 5, 2012

Rhone: The Only Region Where I'd go North in the Winter

Rhone ranger.  Rhoneophile.  These are a few of the terms I've used to describe my love of Rhone wines.  So you can imagine how excited I was for the Essex County Wine Society Northern Rhone Red Wine tasting.  The Northern Rhone is one of my favorite regions because they make hearty syrah with a range of secondary notes from the gamey to the herbaceous to the floral.  One of the reasons they get such a range is that winemakers in the Northern Rhone will blend Syrah with up to 10% Vigonier, a floral and crisp white grape from the region.  Additionally, Northern Rhone Syrah tends to be very acidic, often due to Viognier, which makes it a great food companion.

Unfortunately the Northern Rhone can also be a very "un-ocratic" region as wines can cost well over $100 per bottle.  However, as with all regions, there are values to be found.

Luckily, there was one value wine in my 3 favorite wines of the evening.
-2009 Domaine Durand, Cornas, Empreintes Syrah:  Delightful nose and palate of bright cherry with some herbal notes; Very dry, but fruit forward (compared with French, not Californian wines) - $35
-2009 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Cote Rotie, Syrah (w/Viognier):  Gamey with hints of cherry and pepper; Classic Cote Rotie and one of my favorite flavor profiles - $135  

I know that $35 is hardly a value wine for most people, but in the context of Northern Rhone red wine, any good wine under $40 can be considered a value.  Moreover, you can find great Viognier from the Northern Rhone for well under $40.  Like most white varietals, it's food friendly and pairs well with many different cuisines.

Northern Rhone wines tend to be very dry and acidic and are definitely not for everyone.  Though if you're looking for a big, red wine to go with a hearty meal, you can't go wrong with a Northern Rhone red.  It's the only way I go North in the winter!

Until the next sniff, sip or quaff.

Alli M.