In addition to introducing you to new grapes to try in 2010, I’d like to help make wine more fun and approachable. A great opportunity to do that was the wine event I went to in Miami, where the wineries of Bordeaux were showcasing delicious wines that were great for every day. I hope the below write up helps take some of your fear of France away.
It was a dark and stormy night. No, really, it was probably the worst storm in 2009, but nothing would keep me from making the trip from West Palm Beach to Miami. The almost two hour drive during a torrential downpour was worth it, as I was on my way to one of the most hottest parties of the year. Part of the “Life Goes Better with Bordeaux” campaign, an effort to educate people on the quality and value associated with wines from Bordeaux, France, this event was going to be spectacular.
Though I didn’t make many resolutions this year, one of my goals is to finish my journey into the Wine Century Club, as each member has drank 100 different wine varietals. I started logging the wines I drank, cataloging each different grape the wines were made from, back in October 2008. Sadly, I stopped recording names and just focused on reviewing, writing, and discussing them. I have 50 written down so far, so there’s only another 50 to go. While I won’t blog about each grape I try, I may mention them, such as the Greek wine made from the Assyrtiko grape I had at the Epcot Food & Wine festival. I hope you come with me on the journey, and discover new and fun wines with me.
I wasn’t fortunate enough to join my fellow wine writers for the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference, where many had the opportunity to walk the Quivira Vineyards. I was, however, fortunate enough to visit Quivira and two other wineries as part of a Visit Dry Creek series of wine segments for Daytime, a nationally syndicated morning show. We had a great time visiting first Michel-Schlumberger, and then Montemaggiore, and knew that our time at Quivia would be equally as enjoyable.
Upon arriving at Quivira Vineyards & Winery, you are greeted by a beautiful landscape, and a very serene waterfall. This sets the stage for your visit, where you’ll learn about their biodynamic farming practices, take a self guided tour through their organic garden, and of course sample their wines made from their biodynamically grown grapes. Check out the short video of my discussing Quivira and their 2007 Grenache, then continue down to more information about my visit.
Though they have many wines to sample, from Sauvignon Blanc to Zinfandel, Syrah, and Mourvedre, Quivira is one of only a handful of wineries in Dry Creek making Grenache, which is why I wanted to discuss it with you. Grenache, or Garnacha as it’s called in Spain, typically has flavors of berries with a nice spicy component that lingers on the finish. As I mentioned in the video, I noticed a nice dark but still red berry bouquet and palate, and the spice on the finish was beautiful. We had some of the wine left over the next day, and it’s palate smoothed a bit, the tannins that dried my mouth during the video tasting weren’t as firm, and it was drinking wonderfully. The 2007 Grenache was aged 15 months in 90% neutral oak, 10% new oak, and boasts a hefty 14.9% ABV (Alcohol by volume).
In the video I mentioned the typical fatty meat pairings for this wine, as the Grenache would pair well with lamb, veal, and beef. I also wouldn’t hesitate to put this with a nice smoked or bbq rib or pork, or game birds. It’s a fairly versatile wine that doesn’t need a lot of fanfare to drink. While I believe it would benefit from some time decanting, it was quite fine right out of the bottle with no air.
Peter Kight at the sorter
When we visited Quivira, proprietor Pete Kight was sorting through the grapes, working hard to ensure that the quality of grapes going into his wine was up to standards. We didn’t have the opportunity to chat with Pete, but did have a chance to sit with winemaker Steven Cantor as well as farm manager Andrew Beedy. From Andrew, we learned about the organic garden and farming practices, the various livestock on the property, and his thoughts on Biodynamic farming. Biodynamic farming is a step above organic farming in terms of caring for the land, farming sustainably, and not using chemical pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. However, Andrew makes it sound easy, saying “Basically, I give plants water. That’s what I do. The plants do all the hard work, we just make sure their environment is as healthy as it can be.”
Winemaker Steven Cantor was more than happy to discuss not only the wines he makes, but many other thoughts on winemaking, biodynamic farming, and life. Dubbed the “Philosopher Winemaker”, it was very interesting to hear his passion for the grape, and the wines he makes. He wasn’t able to single out any one Quivira wine that he’d call his Baby, despite my proding, loving each one of them for an individual characteristic.
There’s so much to see and do at Quivira, my video and post don’t scratch the surface. From their olive oils and preserves from their garden, to the farm to table dinners they do once a quarter, there’s always something new and enjoyable available at Quivira. Be sure to check out the Daytime segment which airs on Wednesday November 18th. If you can’t find Daytime in your viewing area, the segment will be online shortly at tweetmetv.com.
*Disclaimer – the wine tasted in this segment was provided by Quivira during the visit.
*Credit – the photo of Wine Creek in the video was ‘borrowed’ from Frank Morgan at drinkwhatyoulike.com .. hope the link back to your Quivia post makes up for that!
Come back tomorrow, when we journey over the hill to Napa, and start our visit of three St. Helena wineries. Are you ready?
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.
*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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Do you enjoy wine? When was the last time you had a Petit Verdot? How about Petit Sirah? If the answer is anything other than “Last week”, watch this video wine review of Lange Twins Family Winery & Vineyards 2007 Generations Petit Verdot Petit Sirah blend. You’ll be surprised at how delicious and drinkable this $20 wine is! There’s no doubt that this purple teeth stainer will be a wine you look to have again, and again.
The Lange family has been farming in California for 5 generations, starting with Johann and Maria Lange’s 1870 immigration from Germany, where they settled down in Lodi. The Langes started their farming history beginning with melons, the crop of choice back then. They moved into farming grapes in 1916, then in 2006 twin brothers Randall and Bradford Lange, Winery General Manager and Viticulture General Manager respectively, founded the Lange Twins winery, and incorporated the winery in their business of grape growing. There are multiple generations of Lange family members working at the Lange Twins Family Winery & Vineyards today, making it a true family business.
Joe Lange provided a bottle of their Generations Petit Verdot Petit Sirah 2007 to me before the summer started as a sample for review. I am grateful to Joe, and Lange Twins Family Winery & Vineyard for the opportunity to taste this wine, and discuss it with you. Please take two minutes to watch the video review below, then read the rest of my tasting notes and comments.
As you can see from the above quick video wine review (you did watch it, right? Seriously, 2 minutes!), this wine falls into the “Drinkable” and almost “Gulpable” category. It’s only $20 from the Lange Twins website, and by my measure, that makes it a very affordable, bordering on every day wine price wise. Of course, price is not the only measure of selecting wines, so taste has to be there, and in my opinion, Lange Twins Petit Verdot Petit Sirah has it.
I find this wine very approachable. That means, it’s easy to drink, and doesn’t require too much care & feeding, or work, to enjoy it. A good friend of mine on twitter mentioned she is not a fan of wines that require a lot of “me” time, and prefers the ability to just open a wine and enjoy it. While I decanted the wine for an hour, I believe this wine would do well as a “Pop and Pour”, where you can just open it and drink.
Decanting red wines has two purposes. First, for older wines or perhaps wines that are not filtered, it helps separate the sediment that occurs normally in bottles of wine by allowing them to settle to the bottom of the decanter. Second, it allows younger wines time to “breathe”, allowing oxygen to interact with the wine. This can allow the wine to open up, the bouquet and the flavors can show well, and you can enjoy the wine. Some wines may not need any decanting, others may need one, two or even four hours to open up.
As you saw in the video, there was nice fruit on this wine, with just a little hint of baking spice mixed in. I could discern beautiful blueberry flavors mixed in with darker fruit flavors as soon as the wine hit my tongue. It definitely opened up and became even more enjoyable with each minute we drank the wine. Also as mentioned in the video, we paired the wine with steak. It was a great pairing, the delicious grilled steak dancing gracefully with the luscious wine. Sadly, the wine was finished before the steak was gone, which was a testament to how easy drinking the wine was.
This wine definitely plays well with others, pairing it with beef dishes or other gamey dishes (hmm, venison stew or Cornish game hens perhaps) works wonderfully. It also plays well by itself, making it a great sipping wine. Open a bottle of this Lange Twins wine, take your better half, or your best buds, to the back yard or the porch, and watch a great night with a nice wine unfold!
If you’ve read any of my wine blog posts, you’ll know that Camenere was one of the first red wines I had ever had. Therefore, it’s always a pleasure to try a Camenere from a producer I haven’t had in the past. During the Wines of Chile blogger event, we had the pleasure of trying 8 wines from Chile while video conferenced in with the wine makers to get their insights on their wines, Chile, and wine in general. I have reviewed several of those wines already, and have a few more coming. You’ll find my thoughts and tasting notes on the Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere in the video review below. Please be kind when watching it, I was in a hotel room after a full day of Oracle training, and pretty wiped out.
Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere 2007 hails from the Aconcagua Valley of Chile, right around San Felipe, north of Santiago. The Aconcagua river flows through the valley, which provides “melt water” for much needed irrigation in the area. While wine grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere have grown in the valley since the mid 19th Century, there has been renewed interest in the area since the 1990s. Experiements have proven that Aconcagua valley vineyards located closer to the Pacific can provide great grapes, and great wines. Personally, I’m on the look out for some of these wines, especially Syrah which is pointed out in the Wines of Chile brochure that was sent to the bloggers for reference.
Now, it’s no secret that I think wines from Chile offer great value, bringing to us nice, or even fantastic wines, at a great price. I’ve probably written about more Chilean wine on this blog than any other country. At $26 retail, the Errazuriz Single Vineyard Carmenere is not an everyday budget wine for many people. However, I think it’s definitely a wine to give a try, if for no other reason than to see what Carmenere is about, and have a nice frame of reference for other producers.
As the video notes, the first night this wine was definitely a lot more fruit driven and didn’t have some of the characteristics I love about Carmenere. I felt it was lacking the earthy flavors with a black pepper and spice driven backbone that screams STEAK! I found it very “new worldy”. However, I actually REALLY liked it the first night, finding the wine fun and enjoyable. The second night I think it was “done”, with too much oxygen breaking down the wine, as notes of cherry cough syrup were dominant, which were not what I found the first night. I would like very much to get another bottle and see how it opens over time, because I believe I didn’t really experience the full potential of this wine in the situation I had to taste it.
Check out the video, and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!
As you may have read in earlier posts like the Los Vascos Reserva review, I was given the pleasure to participate a blogger event put on by the PR folks from the Wines of Chile back in May. Several bloggers participated in a video conference between eight wine makers in Chile and the PR folks, moderated by Michael Green, Wine & Spirits consultant for Gourmet magazine. In this fourth installment of my Wines of Chile video conference writeup, we talk about a great red wine made with the Carmenere grape.
While originally from the Medoc region of Bordeaux, the grape is rarely found there any longer. Instead, most Carmenere comes from Chile, and it’s their 3rd most planted red grape, behind Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I love carmenere, a typically earthy and peppery red wine that when done right, is great alone or with food. I pair Carmenere with a nice grilled steak, but it’ll go well with a variety of roasted and grilled meats.
I’ve mentioned the value wines I see coming from Chile many times, and believe the Santa Carolina Reserva de Familia 2007 Carmenere is worth every bit of its $15 SRP. Made with 100% carmenere, the wine, considered in their “Gran Reserva” range, is aged at least 10 months in oak barrels, mostly new. Additionally, the wines age in the bottle at least 4 months, which the wine maker believes helps “ensure the evolution of the complex aromas and flavours”. Adding some punch to this $15 wine is the 91 point rating it received from Wine Enthusiast Magazine in the May 2009 issue. The one thing I was not able to verify is that while they are “Carbon Neutral” with their delivery, I can not confirm if Santa Carolina makes organic wines or not. Unlike the Cono Sur wines, it did not list Organically Farmed on the bottle.
Now, I’ve had Santa Carolina wines before, and my first impression was they were overly oaked and not to my palate. You’ll see in the video that while I may have thought this when I originally tasted the wine, the second tasting the next night completely changed my opinion. Watch the video, and let me know what you think. Not just of the video, but of Carmenere, wines from Chile, or Santa Carolina Wines.