A few thoughts this year, first, I seem to have been excited about the right things. The ability to try different style of the same grape within seconds of each other is one of the key opportunities of the wine festival. For example, I was able to taste the Simi Sauvignon Blanc, a nice example of Californian style SB, and across the aisle was Thorny Rose, which had a very nice counter example of New Zealand styled SB. The grassiness was even more pronounced when directly compared with the more acidic California counterpart.
If you are looking for a really nice selection of Rieslings from different regions and sweetness, Schmitt Sohne and Estates (booth 107) had a very nice selection of 5 different wines.
The still Pedro (booth 2) was a really nice wine and helps to show another side to what is usually made into sherry. McNab (booth 28) was as solid as always and highly recommended for a stop. Valeta had a Vijiriega that was a nice native Spanish grape that I had never tried before. It had a distinct mineral flavor that helps to showcase something unique to the region.
The sparkling wines were worth their own pass, but were mostly in the lower numbered booths. Vinum (booth 7) had a very nice showing with both their sparkling and a nice rhone based white wine. Across the aisle, Terry Theise selections had two examples of grower Champagne that helped to show the difference between a wine with Chardonnay and a Pinot Noir as the lead varietal.
Cutting Edge (especially booth 32) showcased a rather wide selection of wines. The 2011 wines from the pacific northwest were all tasting extremely well. The Four Grace Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris were both examples of this well made wine from that year. Learning more about the overall growing season from 2011, makes me interested in what other wines I can find from that year to try.
Michael David (booth 38) also had a very strong showing of their selection. Petite Petite, Rage, and Incognito were all very good. Ferrari Carrano (booth 42) had a very nice “patio pounder” with BellaLuce. It was also a part of a large number of stainless steel fermented wines. Oak seemed to be less of a consideration from most places that focused on having the grape do most of the work. Trinchero (booth 76) also provided a nice range of red wines.
To end the tasting, I would recommend Wineworth Importers (at booth 6) to try through a really nice selection of ports. The ten year old, which can be found in half bottles for around $20 in Kentucky, had a great almond flavor. When you get to the vintage 1996 port, the nuttiness and sweetness become apparent. I also learned that they avoid loosing large amounts of the vintage by combining barrels and reducing the amount of exposure to the air. This means that one barrel was sacrificed every few years to top off the others. It was a new piece of information for me.
I tried to get to as many different places as possible, what did I miss? Was there another star of the show? Let me know in the comments,
I’m happy to see what everyone else enjoyed.
Stop the presses! Brad and Angelina are releasing their very own vino. No doubt they can as they own a 1,000-acre estate in Southwestern France. Plus they’re rich and famous.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt will release a 2012 vintage pink rosé, Miraval, sometime in mid-March – the grapes harvested from their vineyards in France. The wine, named after Pitt and Jolie’s Chateau, is a result of a partnership with French winegrower Marc Perrin.
Plans are already underway to release white wines this summer. Will you try the power couple’s new wines?
If you like tea and wine, this just may be your drink. I saw this in the March issue of InStyle Magazine – wine-flavored tea. Vintage TeaWorks makes a variety of loose teas in celebration of several wine flavors, including:
Each canister makes about 30 to 35 cups and price range is $15.99-$18.99. www.vintageteaworks.com.
FREE Friday Aisle Tastings at The Party Source
This Friday, February 22, The Party Source in Bellevue continues their Friday Wine in the Aisles Tastings. This week they will be pouring several Zinfandels and Zinfandel-based blends.
The Friday series takes place from 4-8 p.m. The tastings are free and no reservations are required. Here is a list of the next four tastings and the wines that will be featured:
February 22 – Zinfandels
March 1 – Chilean wines
March 8 - International wines & wines from Kentucky’s Lover’s Leap Winery
March 15 - South African wines
For details about these and other Wine Tastings happening at the Party Source, visit their website.
We recently had family in town – my husband’s brother and his family. Neil is a wine aficionado like me, and was thoughtful enough to bring some of his favorite wine to share.
Ghost Pines 2010 Merlot ($15-$17) is big and bold with dense flavors of black cherry, ripe mixed berries and hints of chocolate and toffee. This is a fat and juicy wine, not too tannic.
It’s smoother than most Merlots that I’ve tried – and I don’t drink Merlot very often – with a fairly long finish. It had a little bit of a sour aftertaste for me, but not enough to ruin the experience.
This winemaker’s blend features grapes from the winegrowing areas of Sonoma and Napa Counties, aged in French and American Oak.
If I were to buy a Merlot to keep in my wine reserve, this one would be at the top of my list. Thanks, Neil, for introducing me to to this wine.
This is the first post in a series on grapes that are either a type that has been tried in a blended wine, but are difficult to obtain as a standalone example or lesser known varietals in general. Since most people have an idea of Chardonnay, Cab Sauv, Pinot Noir (thanks Sideways), and Riesling, I thought it might be interesting to profile a few of the other wines you might be able to find as an opportunity to expand your palate if you get a chance.
Pinot Meunier is the other red grape used in the production of Champagne. In fact, it accounts for roughly 40% of the total plantings of vines in that region. The two “noble” grapes of Chardonnay (found alone in Blanc de Blanc) and Pinot Noir (found alone in Blanc de Noir – usually. This can also have Meunier as Cresta has explained) have long overshadowed the humble Meunier. If you have tried all three type of Champagne and not found the same sharpness or acidity in either of the sole varietal versions, what you are noticing is the Meunier. American and Australian bubbly producers also grow Meunier to help produce an offering closer to the traditional Champagne.
The flavor when produced alone produces a jammy wines with moderate acidity and low tannin. It makes a very nice drink now wine that usually doesn’t need a large amount of time to open up. There are very few producers who make a still version of Meunier and even fewer who make a sparkling version. Chandon, Eyrie, Wilakenzi, and Bouchaine are a few of the wineries who produce a still version. Chandon is usually available in Kentucky and Ohio. The rest might need to be a special order from you local wine store or a direct order from the winery. The only sparkling version of Meunier I have had was at the 2012 Cincinnati Wine Festival. It was imported by Terry Theise can called Aubry Brut, sadly that is the extent of my notes on that selection.
Personally, I enjoy the sharpness of the Meunier on its own. It provides a balance lending towards acidity with enough tannic structure to make a nice wine that is easily paired with lighter foods. If you get the chance to try one of these, take it. Especially if you like Champagne or want to taste one part alone from the others to try and see if you can tell the make up the next time you try some bubbly.
Thanks to Alphonse at DEPS Fine Winne, Kevin at Party Source, David at Water Tower Fine Wines, and JP at Party Town for their help with this article. Please support your local wine shops and any of these four folks will be more than happy to help you find some unusal wines if you stop in and see them.
Castillo de Monjardin La Cantera 2009, another selection from our wine club, is a delicious rich, fruity wine.
Garnacha (knowns as Grenache in France) is the most widely planted grape in Spain. Because it is not a very acidic or tannic variety, Garnacha is typically blended with other grapes, such as Tempranillo and Syrah.
This wine is 100% Garnacha.
Bright ruby in color and very aromatic. It is very easy to drink. Fruity, yet earthy, filled with the taste of raspberries and currants and a little bit of spice. Aged in an oak barrel for six months, this wine has a nice structure. I definitely recommend it.
I believe you can purchase for somewhere between $10 and $12.
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