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Video Wine Review

Talking about Montemaggiore 2005 Syrah

A trip through Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma affords one plenty of opportunities to stop in to various tasting rooms and sample the wines they have to offer. However, it’s only when you travel off the beaten path that you’ll come across Montemaggiore. Nestled high on the mountainside, Montemaggiore isn’t “open to the public” per se. Rather, you need to call Lise or Vince Ciolino, owners of the vineyard since 2001, and make an appointment to take a tour of their beautiful property and taste their great wines. Our second stop on our Daytime tour through Dry Creek Valley brought us up the winding mountain road to their tasting room, and I’m excited to take you there on a virtual tour and tasting.

There are a few different wines available from Montemaggiore, from their Paolo’s Vineyard Syrah I discuss in the below video, to a Cabernet Syrah Blend named Nobile and even a Syrah Rose.  Additionally, the Ciolinos offer olive oil from the olive trees on the property. So, lets enjoy a virtual wine tasting together, and find out what I thought of wine from this vineyard that’s off the beaten path.

Talking about Montemaggiore 2005 Syrah from Matthew Scott Horbund on Vimeo.

Syrah is not a very frequently grown grape in Dry Creek Valley, with approximately 306 acres of syrah vines planted. This is a stark contrast to the 2,316 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, 2,251 acres of Zinfandel, and 1,500 acres of Merlot reported planted in Dry Creek Valley in 2006. However, I believe the Ciolinos have found a grape that they are able to successfully grow and turn into a delicious wine. As I mentioned in the video, it’s not very jammy like many California Syrah’s can be. Mind you, it’s not that jammy is wrong or bad, but I prefer my Syrah to be a bit more subtle fruit wise, and the spice and oak influence a bit more prominent when I drink a Syrah, and I think Montemaggiore has captured that in their wines. The Paolo’s Vineyard 2005 Syrah was rated a 92 by the International Wine review, and costs approximtely $35. It’s aged in a mixture of 84% French and 16% American oak, of which 38% is new.

Paolo Feeding Sheep at Montemaggiore

Paolo Feeding Sheep at Montemaggiore

Lise, pronounced Leezah, like the tower of Pisa, and her husband Vince care very much not only about the quality of their wines, but the impact growing them has on the land. They firmly believe in organic and biodynamic farming, and don’t use chemical products, but rather employ natural fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Their sustainable farming practice includes drip irrigation and natural compost, as well as several sheep that tend the grass and naturally fertilize the land. Vince will happily discuss the care they exercise in working the land they also live on during a visit. You’ll be able to hear from Vince and his farming practices at Montemaggiore during the Daytime segment.

As you can imagine, there’s a lot more to Montemaggiore than we’ve discussed here. The television segment of our visit to Montemaggiore airs on Daytime Tuesday November 17th. If Daytime isn’t on in your area, we’ll have the clip available online at shortly. I’ll update this post, perhaps put the link in the comments, and you can see Lise, Vince, and our fabulous trip to our second Dry Creek Valley winery. If you missed our first stop at Michel-Schlumberger, you will want to take a few minutes to see how wonderful that visit was!

Do you know the way to Michel-Schlumberger

While the American Viticultural Area, or AVA, of Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma is synonymous with Zinfandel, there’s a lot of great wine coming from this area that you shouldn’t miss. To raise your awareness of what wines you can enjoy from Dry Creek Valley, I took a trip to three wineries in September, filming television segments for the nationally syndicated morning show Daytime. Our first stop was Michel-Schlumberger, where we had not only the opportunity to meet with President and General Manager Judd Wallenbrock, Wine maker Michael Brunson, and Director of Retail & Direct to Consumer Operations Jim Morris, we got to tour the vineyard, meet all of the staff, and enjoy a night of music at the winery.

The short video here is just one part of the experience we had at Michel-Schlumberger. It will take you on the first of two virtual tastes and tours of this 30 year old winery. The second part is the television segment airing on Daytime Monday, November 16th, 2009. If Daytime isn’t available in your viewing area, I’ll have a comment below with a link to the segment online shortly.

Michel-Schlumberger Deux Terres Cabernet Sauvignon from Matthew Scott Horbund on Vimeo.

*Disclaimer* The wine discussed in this post and in the video were provided to me at no cost by Michel-Schlumberger.

I know that I started this post by saying Dry Creek Valley and Zinfandel were synonymous, but in 2006, Cabernet Sauvignon accounted for 2,316 acres of vines planted, topping 2nd place Zinfandel which had 2,251 acres under vine. Michel-Schlumberger produces various Bordeaux varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, as well as Pinot Blanc, Syrah and Chardonnay. The wine tasted in the video, the Deux Terres 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, is their top non-reserve offering and was an enjoyable wine. It didn’t need much time to open, perhaps 20 or 30 minutes.

Right out of the bottle the nose was dark fruits, black cherry and blackberry, with a mocha and spice component that was very inviting. The palate was dark cherry fruit with medium to firm tannins, giving that dry, almost astringent feeling on the inside of my mouth, similar to black tea. I enjoyed the finish of pepper and spice, and while it wasn’t extremely long, it was quite nice. Robin loved the wine to just sip on, though she didn’t feel it complimented her pasta and red sauce. I thought it was nice enough with my eggplant parmesan hero, but really feel it needs a rich beef, veal or lamb dish to compliment the flavors and structure.

The vineyard is farmed organically, as I mentioned in the video, with an eye towards sustainability and the environment.  Not only does the team at Michel-Schlumberger care about the land they farm to bring you delicious wines, they care about Dry Creek itself. Together with other wineries in the area, they’re working to restore Wine Creek and keep the Steelhead Trout population strong and preserve an integral part of the ecology. A visit to Michel-Schlumberger will allow you the opportunity to walk the vineyards that were established in 1979 by Jean-Jacques Michel. Jacques Schlumberger joined the team as a minority partner in 1991, and took over the estate as majority partner in 1993. When Michael Brunson joined the team as assistant wine maker in 1993, Fred Payne was the head wine maker. The Deux Terres we talked about tonight was one of Fred Payne’s wines, as Michael Brunson took over the wine making role in 2006.

You can follow the winery on twitter at @m_schlumberger and Jim is on twitter too as @sonomawineguy. Jim, and others at the winery write about all things Michel-Schlumberger on Benchland Blog. Other writeups about the Deux Terres 2004 can be found at Drink Dry Creek, and other visits to the winery on Breathe, Luscious Lushes, and  Wannabe Wino.

Hopefully you’ll visit Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma and Michel-Schlumberger soon.  When you do, call the winery before your visit, and be sure to allow enough time to not only tour the grounds but taste their wines. Oh, and tell them mmWine sent you!

Be sure to tune in to Daytime and see our tour of the vineyards and winery, as well as the tasting with Show co-host Lindsay MacDonald.

Lets taste James David Cellars 2005 Central Coast Syrah

James David 2005 Central Coast Syrah

James David 2005 Central Coast Syrah

I absolutely love the tremendous amount of variety and diversity there is in the wine world. I love how the same grape, grown in the same area, perhaps even at neighboring vineyards, can taste so different.  The influence of the methods the winemaker uses to ferment and age the wine as well as the care and growing conditions the vineyard manager employs can change your perception of a varietal magically. I haven’t reviewed many Syrahs on the blog, and the ones I did review previously really didn’t trip my trigger, so to speak. It was, therefore, with a tad of reluctance that I accepted a sample of James David Cellars 2005 Syrah from proprietor David Cole, whom I networked with on twitter. I am happy to say that my excited video review is indeed an indication that James David Cellars put out some nice new world Syrah.

Though their family has been in the California farming and wine industry for some time, David and Kathleen Cole have only been at the helm of James David Cellars for a few years. However, their goal to create a wine that is easy to share with friends and family, good during a meal, or a good conversation, seems to be one they’ve already achieved with the Central Coast Syrah. A blend of grapes sourced from two vineyards, one in Monterey, the other in Paso Robles, only 350 cases of this easy drinking red wine were produced. Grapes from both Paso Robles and Monetery are said to exhibit true characteristics of the varietals. Grapevines there tend to bud a week or two earlier than other regions, and are harvested a week or two later than other regions due to the cool growing season. This means the grapes are on the vine longer, and develop an intense flavor.  Wines from these areas tend to have the peppery characteristics you find in Syrah from France (or Shiraz from Australia), and I enjoyed that very much on this wine.

Video-Let’s discuss James David 2005 Central Coast Syrah from Matthew Scott Horbund on Vimeo.

I chatted briefly with David about this wine, and he said that his favorite food pairings for the James David Cellars Central Coast Syrah would be pizza, or red sauce dishes like lasagna or spaghetti. Thea, a follow wine blogger and friend, agrees with David that this is a nice pizza wine. I’m not sure if $21 is in everyone’s budget for a pizza wine, and I think this wine is a tad more versitle than that. The pork roast that Robin made in the crock pot went very well with it, as would a nice salmon dish. The wine is light enough that it would pair favorably with the fish, and even chicken. Yes, I’m debunking the myth that chicken and fish only go with white wines!  I’m not sure how this Syrah will pair with a steak or lamb. David Cole mentioned that of the two samples he sent, this and the Eagle Point Ranch Syrah, the Central Coast  wine was more “French style” with a lighter nose and body than it’s big Californian brother. I’ve decided to review them separately, so check back soon for that Eaglepoint Ranch review.

In summary, for $21, I am happy to recommend you try the James David Cellars Central Coast Syrah. It’s well structured and versitle enough to pair with a decent range of foods. It also is easy drinking, and will do fine on it’s own, helping David and Kathleen achieve their goal of creating a wine that compliments conversation, as well as drive it. I believe this wine appeals to the “Old World” Syrah lovers, while still having some of the characteristics the “New World” Syrah lovers look for.  However, don’t just take my word for it. Find yourself a bottle of this wine, pour yourself a glass, and leave some comments below about your experience!

-Disclaimer- This wine was provided as a free sample from James David Cellars for me to review on the blog.

Is Dr Loosen Erdener Treppchen Spatlese Riesling your Thanksgiving white wine?

Dr Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese 2007

Dr Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese 2007

With October just finished, and people already planning their 2010 Oktoberfest parties, I thought it would be a great time to review a German Riesling. If you haven’t had a Riesling before, or only have had Rieslings from California or Washington, I recommend you find and enjoy a German one soon. There are many great Riesling producers in the Mosel region of Germany, or Mosel-Saar-Ruwer as it was previously named. I’ve reviewed this wine’s cousin before, another Riesling from the same producer, but this one is a bit more elegant and refined. I’m talking about Dr Loosen 2007 Riesling Spatlese from the Erdener Treppchen vineyard in Mosel, Germany.

Video review of Dr Loosen Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese from Matthew Scott Horbund on Vimeo.

The wines produced by Dr Loosen come from various vineyards, which impart their characteristics on the wine. The Dr Loosen Dr L Riesling is actually made from grapes purchased from other growers in the region. However, the wine we’re discussing today is produced from all estate grapes,  grown in the Erdener Treppchen vineyards, the little staircase of Erden vineyards, as the name translates. The E.T. vineyard is comprised of iron rich red slate soil, which creates rich, complex wines and imparts the mineral qualities I describe in the video. This wine is described on the Dr Loosen website as more muscular and rugged, where as wines from their blue slate vineyards of Wehlener Sonnenuhr are described as more graceful, like a ballerina.

Muscular and rugged or not, this wine was delicious. The nose has that petrol scent that is often associated with quality German Rieslings. However, underneath that scent is super ripe apricot and honey suckle, waiting to be savored.  From your first sip, this lush wine has a medium weight to it, and an elegant mouth feel. It’s bursting with flavors of dried apricot, peaches and honey, balanced with nice acidity. It’s certainly a bit young, and will develop in the bottle, if you have the patience to let it age. The Wine Spectator gave this wine 91 points, and said

Bright and tangy, like a brass band. The lime and peach notes gather force thanks to a vibrant, well-integrated acidity. There’s also a touch of vanilla cream and mineral. Drink now through 2032. 250 cases imported. –BS

I could see this wine ending up on many Thanksgiving tables. As I mentioned in the video, friends wanted something to go with their Cajun Deep Fried turkey they plan to make this Holiday season. We’re fairly sure they’ll go with this selection, which they purchased from Zsazsa and Company, a virtual wine store serving Florida since 2008.  It will not only go well with their turkey choice, but I see it going well with any ham you put on the holiday table, as well as pairing nicely with the cheese platter you put out before the meal.  This wine is versatile, and can be on your table throughout the whole meal, playing nicely with fresh fruit for dessert.

I know that a lot of people haven’t had Rieslings, and would love to hear what you think once you pick up a bottle. If you’ve been following me on twitter, you may have seen my tweets regarding the Wines of Germany virtual wine tasting events throughout October. If you took part in that, or have had some German Riesling on your own, why not let everyone know what you think of them by leaving a comment below.

Rudera Chenin Blanc – Delicious doesn’t do it justice

Ready to taste Rudera Chenin Blanc 2007

Ready to taste Rudera Chenin Blanc 2007

The sign of a good bottle of wine is when it’s finished, you are sad that it’s  gone, and lament that you did not sip slower to make it last longer. Tonight’s wine, a Chenin Blanc, was exactly that bottle. I found myself rationing my sips, and secretly wanting to pour a tad less for Robin, so I had more for myself. Though I’ve had quite a few different wines made from Chenin Blanc grapes, I haven’t reviewed one on the blog. So, we were both in for a treat when I opened a bottle of Rudera 2007 Chenin Blanc this evening.

Often associated with light to medium bodied wines from the Loire valley, France, Chenin Blanc can produce great options from sparklers to dessert type wines. The Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC, wine producing regions in France) of Vouvray produces wines that are off-dry with honeyed and floral notes, while the AOC of Anjou produces dry wines with flavors of apple and quince.  Outside of France, South Africa seems to be the area Chenin Blanc is most widely planted. This wine combined the characteristics seen in both the Vouvray and Anjou wines, with flavors of honey and floral meshing wonderfully with apple and spice.

Rudera Chenin Blanc 2007 – A white wine not to be missed from Matthew Scott Horbund on Vimeo.

Rudera Chenin Blanc

Rudera Chenin Blanc

Rated 90 point by Wine Spectator, this wine definitely lives up to it’s accolades.  A nose of dried apricots and reminiscent of a delicious Sauternes, this wine beckons you to sip like a siren calling a sailor to the rocks. It’s positively irresistible and enchanting. The palate is quite different than the nose, however, with honeyed fruit making a quick transition to a spice laden granny smith apple finish that goes on for days. I really don’t think my video discussion of the wine did it justice, as this wine evolved tremendously from first to last sip. The flavors of the wine changed and intensified as it sat in the glass, and I most noticed it on the finish. The mid-palate of spice began to consume the granny smith apple, and ultimately, all you would taste at the end of each sip was warm baking spice.

Tonight for dinner we had Chicken Wraps, which took pieces of roasted chicken, tossed them in a wrap with lettuce, tomato and onion, and topped with Russian Dressing. The wine paired absolutely wonderfully with this simple dinner, though it would have stood up nicely to fish, perhaps grilled trout or flounder. I also was able to envision this wine on our Thanksgiving table, going well with not only a Turkey, but also a nice baked ham. I may have to try this pairing out soon, you know, just to make sure it works.

If you’ve had this Chenin Blanc, let me know what you think.  In Florida, you can purchase the Rudera Chenin Blanc 2007 from Zsazsa and Company, Inc.  If you haven’t had the Rudera, but perhaps another Chenin Blanc, let me know what you like, or dislike, about the wines made from this grape

Red Wine From Navarra Spain – Marco Real – Garnacha

Video Wine Review of Marco Real Garnacha

Video Wine Review of Marco Real Garnacha

I’ve had a hard time writing this wine review for several reasons. My opinion of this wine disagrees with both Wine Spectator and Wine Advocate reviews. Now, I don’t mean to suggest that WA and WS are the end-all-be-all of wine information, but it causes me to pause and reflect on the wine. I often hesitate to recommend a wine that isn’t varietally correct, because I know some wine geek out there will blast me for it. However, Robin’s opinion of this wine was identical to mine, so without further ado, lets talk about Marco Real Garnacha from Navarra, Spain.

Garnacha, which is called Grenache when it comes from areas outside of Spain, such as France or the US, is a very widely planted red wine grape. It usually produces wine that has dark berry fruit flavors, and a great backbone of pepper and spice that make it a very enjoyable red wine, in my opinion. It’s a red wine I love on it’s own, or paired with steak, lamb, or cheeses, and have served at dinner parties frequently.  When I was offered the chance to try the Marco Real 2005 Garnacha from Navarra, Spain, I jumped at the opportunity. To find out what I thought of this wine, watch the short video review, then continue on to see my summary of the wine.

Red Wine From Navarra Spain – Marco Real – Garnacha from Matthew Scott Horbund on Vimeo.

As you can see, the issue I had writing this review is is not if this is a good wine. For the price, which is a suggested retail of about $11, it’s an easy drinking, nice red wine. However, if you’re looking for varietally correct, where the dark berries give way to pepper notes on the palate, this is not the wine for you. This is more of a jammy, berry focused wine that is very easy to drink, a nice evening back-porch sipper. I think it would be great with food, and had it with ravioli with a red marinara sauce, and it went very nicely. As a matter of fact, I purchased quite a bit of this wine from Zsazsa and Company, and plan on having it with friends over pizza soon. 

Closeup of Marco Real Garnacha Label

Closeup of Marco Real Garnacha Label

Wine Spectator gave this wine an 86, and Wine Advocate gave it an 88. Both reviewers noted the spice, typical of Garnacha, which I felt was lacking.  Now, you’re asking, “Matt, what does that mean?” It means if you’re looking for a perfect bottle of Garnacha, this isn’t it. I’ll work on finding one for you! However, if you’re looking for an easy drinking red, one to sip alone or with food, then for $11, you can’t go wrong with this wine.  I plan on opening a bottle of this wine over the next few days, and re-tasting it. I also plan on reviewing a slightly more expensive California Grenache, and seeing how the two compare.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below and let me know if you’ve had Garnacha, or Grenache, lately. If so, what did you like, or not like about it? Have you had the Marco Real, and if so what was your opinion.  I’ll update this post when I re-try the wine with other foods, so check back often.

Same grapes but different wines – WBW 62

Murphy Goode The Fume

Murphy Goode The Fume

Lucien Crochet Sancerre

Lucien Crochet Sancerre

Writers of all types experience “writers block” now and again. Wine bloggers are no different, despite the fact that there are thousands of different wines to discuss, no less the myriad of related topics to write about. However, we have the added inspiration of Wine Blogging Wednesday, the brainchild of Lenn Thompson from Lenn Devours – The New York Cork Report. Each month, wine bloggers converge on one topic, writing about the month’s wine related theme. Lenn has managed to enlist the help of wine bloggers around the world for topic ideas, which has allowed WBW to enter it’s 62nd month with today’s installment. This month Dale Cruse from Drinks Are On Me challenges us to try a grape by any other name.

Grapes often have different names depending on region in which they grow. Additionally, the grape could have the same name, but it’s labled based on where the wine is produced. I decided to talk about Sauvignon Blanc, and the stark contrast between wines made from the grape in California versus Sancerre, an AOC in the Loire Valley, France. It was not hard for me to select the wines for today’s post. I happened to have on hand a bottle of Lucien Crochet Sancerre 2007 sitting next to a bottle of Murphe-Goode The Fume 2008 in my wine cellar.

While it would have been a fun adventure to find some Italian Primitivo and talk about it in relation to Zinfandel, I was very excited to talk about the way Sauvignon Blanc makes different styles of wine from France to California. Watch the short video below, then read on about Sancerre and Sauvignon Blanc.

Sancerre is Sauvignon Blanc, or is it? Wine Blogging Wednesday #62 from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

Now there are Sauvignon Blanc wines that come from all over the world, with great ones coming from New Zealand and Chile, as well as these from California and France. Sancerre, in the eastern part of the Loire Valley, France, is an AOC, Appellation d’origine contrôlée, produces very distinct wines. The terroir, characteristics of the earth the grapes are grown on, greatly influences the wine made there. I highly recommend you experiment with the different styles out there, to find out which you prefer. As you saw from the video, the same grape can produce a very different experience.

I think both of these wines have their merits.  Your palate may prefer the lighter, easier drinking Sauvignon Blanc from Murphy-Goode, as my Fiancee Robin did. She preferred it to the Sancerre, liking it’s “easy sipping at a low price” quality. I, on the other hand, enjoyed the chalky, herbaceous flavors of the Lucien Crochet, especially when I thought about it with food. I think that may be the point to make, that the California expression of this grape is an easy drinking back yard sipper, fine on its own. The French Sancerre, however, is a wine that really shows best with food to help marry it’s unique flavors with the foods. I would certainly reach for a California or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for sipping and catching up with friends before a Sancerre. However, if I was serving a nice seafood dinner, the Sancerre could be my preference for the evening.

Don’t take my word for it, buy a Sancerre and a California Sauvignon Blanc, and try them together. Then, leave a comment below and let me know which you prefer, and why!

Not another ordinary white wine – Sobon Estate Viognier 2008

One of the things that excites me about wine is the variety that is available. While many people don’t know there are white wines other than Chardonnay available, I love it when the opportunity to enjoy Riesling from Dr Loosen, Aligote from Steele Wines or a nice Viognier arises. Viognier is a very versatile wine, great to sip on, or pair with a wide range of foods. When you get a Viognier that not only tastes good, but  is reasonably priced, that makes it pair well with ANYTHING. I’d like to introduce you to that Viognier, it comes from Sobon Estate, and I really enjoyed tasting and reviewing this wine.

Sobon Estate makes a number of different wines, from Syrah and Roussane to Sangiovese and Zinfandel. There is a rich history behind Sobon Estate, which started in 1977 with Leon and Shirley Sobon founding Shenandoah Vineyards, then forming Sobon Estate in 1989 as their 30th Anniversary gift to each other. The Sobon family is very much a part of the wine making process, from Wine Maker Paul Sobon to Business Systems Manager Robert Sobon, the family take great pride in the wine they make. They also care very much for the environment, and believe in sustainable farming and minimizing the impact of their business on our world. I speak a little about that in the video review below. Check out the video, then read the rest of my notes below it.

Video review of a great white wine – Sobon Estate Viognier 2008 - from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

The Sobon Estate 2008 Viognier had a great bouquet, showing honeysuckle and white flowers. There was some citrus and even peach notes woven into the bouquet, and it was quite inviting. On the palate, there was definitely some great fruit up front of peaches, with nice honey suckle flavors. It reminded me of being a kid during summer, pulling honey suckle flowers off the vines and tasting the sweet nectar. However, there was this beautiful, balanced spice component that really gave an interesting twist to the finish, making it a fun, complex wine.

This wine was perfect with the three different cheeses, Cheddar, Brie, and Port Salut, we tried while the chicken was cooking. And when the chicken was ready, we had JUST enough wine left to taste them together. The grilled flavors of the chicken, which was seasoned simply with salt, pepper and rosemary, meshed perfectly with the wine.  This Viognier is rather food friendly, and I could see pairing it with white fish sauted in white wine or roasted pork, shrimp on the BBQ, and of course, grilled chicken. For $16, the Sobon Estate Viognier won’t break the bank, and is a great wine to have when friends come over. If you try this, or really any Viognier, why not let me know what you think of it by leaving a comment below!

I would like to disclose that this wine was provided to me by the winery to taste and review, though I have purchased and reviewed their wines in the past.