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Alternative Summer White Wines

Alternative White Wines For Summer

Alternative White Wines For Summer

Have you fallen into a summer wine rut?  Are you drinking the same summer white wine all the time? Maybe you have found a wine you love so much, you can’t consider drinking anything else! Or, you may not have found any other wines that tickle your tastebuds.  This weekend I visited Eric Roby and Tara Cardoso at the WPEC CBS12 studios to talk about some alternative white wines under $20 for you to consider this summer.

You can view the short segment first, then continue on for some more information on each of the wines we discussed.

Matt Horbund’s CBS12 Summer White Wine segment on YouTube

One wine to think about this summer is Grooner 2009 Gruner Veltliner. Often called just Gruner, this wine is crisp and dry, with great acidity to pair with foods. It’s not sweet or fruity, and you’ll notice a lot of green flavors, from green apple to green grass to even green onion. For just $11, this wine is perfect for summer days. The tart green apple and other green flavors will be tamed a little with food, so be sure to try it on it’s own as well as with food. It works well with chicken, fish, and assorted cheeses.


Grooner 2009 Gruner Veltliner

Grooner 2009 Gruner Veltliner

Another great grape for summer is Gewurztraminer. It’s so often overlooked, yet it’s so delicious. Pronounced Geh-vurs-trah-mean-er, you’ll find delightful floral and lychee fruit flavors up front on this wine. However, there’s a perfect balance of baking spice that keeps the Hugel & Fils 2008 Gewurztraminer from going over the edge. I love it with only a slight chill, as opposed to ice cold. White wines should normally be served in the 50-55 degree range, though I prefer this one more towards “room temperature” or about 60 degrees. I feel the flavors open up as it warms up. Again, think chicken, fish, cheese, and pork when you think of food pairings with Gewurztraminer wines. I feel for $16, the Hugel Gewurztraminer is a great value. I think Gewurz will satisfy the palate of people who prefer sweeter or fruiter wines, while still being enjoyed by those who love dry, crisp wines.

Hugel2008 Gewurztraminer

Hugel2008 Gewurztraminer

Finally, there is the Fairvalley 2010 Chenin Blanc, from South Africa. You’ll find this wine straddling the flavor profile of two previous wines, with great acidity similar to the gruner, with lighter floral and fruit notes similar to the gewurztraminer. Fairvalley has a very neat story, where in the late 1990s they formed a co-op of sorts, with proceeds from their work goings towards housing and community development. I’ve enjoyed other chenin blanc from South Africa before, as well from France. In France, you’ll find chenin blanc coming from Vouvray, and I’ve discussed one of these Loire Valley Wines previously on CBS12 when looking at white wines from France.

Fairvalley 2010 Chenin Blanc

Fairvalley 2010 Chenin Blanc

There are plenty of options for delicious white wines this summer. Don’t get stuck in a wine rut, try one of these three recommendations, and then let me know your thoughts!


Backsberg Wines Kosher For Passover or Anytime

Happy Passover

Happy Passover

For years my Jewish friends have been conditioned to drink the “foxy” concord grape wine pumped out by the Manischewitz company during the holidays. During a recent CBS12 WPEC TV segment, while bringing some well made wine for Passover Seder to your attention, anchor Ben Becker asks “Why no love for Manischewitz”? Drink it if you like, but I’m here to offer freedom from the slavery to  high octane grape juice with two more Kosher for Passover wine selections.

I recently received samples from Backsberg Estate Cellars , which was founded by  family of Jewish refugees from Lithuania in 1916. Backsberg is located in Paarl, a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Today, the Back family owns 110 hectares of vineyards located at the slopes of the Simsonsberg Mountains. These vineyards are dedicated to the production of their traditional line, as well as the kosher wine line. Both of the wines below are 100% Kosher Mevushal (pasteurized) and are made under the certifications of the Cape Town Beth Din and OU (Orthodox Union) of the United States.

Backsberg has become the first wine producer in South Africa and one of only three in the world to gain Carbon Neutral status using carbon sequestration. Carbon sequestration is a process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it in a reservoir. The Back family is committed to preserving the environment through tree planting, conversion to bio fuel, and other initiatives including lighter weight bottles. They are not only stewards of the land, doing their part to ensure the next generation can enjoy the land, they are also humanitarians. In the wake of recent natural disasters they are participating in a program called ShelterBox, which provides emergency supplies and tents to people in need. A good family making good wine.

Backsberg 2010 Chardonnay Kosher for Passover

Backsberg 2010 Chardonnay

The first selection is the Backsberg Kosher Chardonnay 2010. This wine definitely benefited from some aeration and time to open. As soon as it was uncorked, the nose was buttered popcorn. However, after just a few minutes of swirling and aerating, nice tropical notes developed on the nose. The palate was crisp, with great fruit. Pears on the attack, and a mid palate that was a little buttery and a finish that was a bit spicy and toasty.  It has a short finish, but some residual spice lingers. Interestingly, there is no oak on this wine, so the spice and toasty notes are a characteristic of the grape and where they were grown, rather than the barrel process.  Again, with time to open, more tropical notes came through on the palate, and for $14 I would recommend the Backsberg Kosher Chardonnay 2010 for any time, regardless of religious persuasion.

Backsberg 2008 Merlot is a great wine for Passover or anytime

Backsberg 2008 Merlot

For a red wine option the Backsberg Kosher Merlot 2008 is right on the money. Again, for just $14, this wine is perfect for anyone, anytime, kosher or not. The bouquet was rather tight, showing a little dark fruit. The palate showed restrained black fruit up front, with a nice mid-palate transition to a finish of woody smoke and some pepper spice. The wine has nice integrated tannin, not overly dry, this will rock with your brisket, lamb shank, or any other roasted meat meal.

Backsberg has a large line of wines, and I’d love to hear if you’ve had any of them. Kosher or not, Backsberg should find it’s way into your glass.

Three Great Wines For your Valentines

Valentines Day Wine Selection

Valentines Day Wine Selection

Many guys will admit they’re not the best when it comes to figuring out what women want. Perhaps it’s because women are complex beings, requiring careful time and study, and men aren’t that patient. Or perhaps it’s because men are selfish, hedonistic animals who really only care about their own needs. To help my brethren out this Valentines Day, I’m going to offer three wine suggestions that will make it seem like they understand what their ladies want, all without investing too much time, or too much money. My theme for this year’s Valentines Day wine choices is “Think Pink”, great Rose wines, one a sexy sparkler, that wont break your bank!

Now, I must admit, I had a little help to select these wines. Robin, my better half, made no bones about loving the color pink. My first clue was “Can I paint the house pink”, followed by an onslaught of pink clothes and accessories showing up on her side of the room.  However, the real giveaway was our being at a Champagne event, and her gushing “Ohh, I love pink champagne.” Ding ding, clue number one just dropped, go pick it up boys. Now, Robin didn’t actually help me make the selections, but for some reason, I knew she’d love them. We started off with a Sparkling wine from South Africa, Graham Beck’s Brut Sparking Rose – NV, from Robertson SA. Retailing at only $14, this wine delivers nice quality at a great price.

Graham Beck Brut Rose NV valentines day wine 2

Graham Beck Brut Rose NV

This light and crisp bubbly had a very nice, pale pink hue in the glass. It’s made from 58% Chardonnay and 42% Pinot Noir grapes, in the Cap Classique method, where the wine undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle.  This is of course the same method used to make Champagne, the  méthode Champenoise, and is the term used in South Africa since 1992 to denote the traditional time-honoured method of making the sparkler.  Right out of the bottle, there were strawberry fruit flavors up front, with a finish of minerals that is refreshing in a Brut (dry) sparkler. There were tons of bubbles, and it was definitely the perfect way to start off our evening. Giving this bubbly a few minutes to open up is a nice idea, because the minerals and almost tart finish blows off, and you’re enjoying nice round red fruit that is well balanced and fun.  You can serve the Graham Beck Brute Rose NV bubbly with seafood, or even rare beef or lamb, and of course the traditional strawberries will be a smash hit!

Saint Andre de Figuiere 2008 Rose Magali Cuvee Valentines day wine

Saint Andre de Figuiere 2008 Rose Magali Cuvee

If bubbles aren’t your thing, lets hop from South Africa to Provence, France and enjoy a glass of Saint Andre de Figuiere 2008 Rose Magali Cuvee. That’s certainly a mouthful, especially if your French is as bad as mine! However, it’s worth butchering the name, or saying Saint ANdre Rose if you must, to enjoy this crisp Valentines Day wine. Half of the rose wine made in France comes from Provence, and at $16 this blend of Cinsault, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache is sure to delight. It’s salmon-pink color gives way to a bouquet of sweet, ripe raspberries. It has a soft palate, very light and crisp with fresh fruit of citrus and red berries, and some beautiful minerality on the finish. Dry and well balanced, this rose will go well with a host of foods, from chicken to fish, or just sipping with a nice cheese plate.

Big Fire Rose valentines day wine 3

Big Fire Rose Wine

Bubbles didn’t blow her away, and dry French wine not her thing, well then lets pop over to the United States, and try a Rose from Oregon! R Stuart & Co’s Big Fire line has a number of nice wines at good prices, and their $12 Big Fire Rose is no exception. A darker shade of pink than the previous two wines, the Big Fire Rose has some cherry scents on the nose, but it wasn’t a very fragrant bouquet. However, the palate was definitely bursting with fruit, strawberry up front, with a medium body that bursts with flavor. There’s definitely some red cherry and other bright fruit on the wine, and the fruit flavors last an incredibly long time.  The Big Fire Rose is a blend of Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Pinot Gris, each grape bringing it’s unique and interesting characteristic to the blend. Definitely a fruit forward wine, you could enjoy this with a lighter dish, whether it’s a salad, or some simple grilled chicken.

Let me know what wine you have on this Valentines Day, and how you enjoy it. If it’s one of the three discussed here, let me know how you like it. And Ladies, don’t be shy! If you want to be sure you enjoy the wine you drink on Valentines Day, select one of these and just tell him to open and pour like a good man should!  Cheers!

You can watch my appearance on CBS12 WPEC talking about these great wines with Daybreak News Anchor Kara Kostanich!

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

WBW 56 – Kosher Wine review

Chardonnay Wine Review – Kosher Wines for Wine Blogging Wednesday from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

It’s time for another Wine Blogging Wednesday installment. This month’s topic comes from The Cork Dork, and he’s picked Kosher Wines, to coincide with month’s celebration of the Jewish holiday of Passover. For those of you who aren’t Jewish, please don’t turn away as these wines are not just Kosher, they’re pretty darned good. And with all of them coming in under $15, they’re pretty decent value wines, or good Quality to Price ratio (QPR) wines. And while Kosher wine may evoke thoughts of sickeningly sweet grape juice for some, I assure you none of these wines are of that caliber. The video, which had poor sound so please turn your speakers up, will have my tasting notes on the four wines. I tasted these wines prior to really doing in depth research on any of them. I was hoping to provide more information on each wine in the text part of the wine blog post itself. However, some information is lacking or non-existent, so please forgive me.  If I find reliable sources for information, I’ll amend the post.

Alfasi Chardonnay 2007

Alfasi Chardonnay 2007

I am not going to try and educate people on what it means to be Kosher. I will simply say it’s the dietary law that some people of Jewish faith observe. It includes “rules” about dairy and meat products not mixing at a meal, the proper slaughter of animals, and animals that should not be consumed. People of the Jewish religion can observe various levels of “keeping Kosher”, from a complete Kosher diet inside as well as outside the home, to keeping a Kosher home but not eating Kosher outside the home, to not observing at all. There is usually Rabbinical supervision over the processing of foods that are Kosher, including a blessing over the food. That’s about as deep as I care to delve into the subject, and I hope you understand.

The first kosher wine reviewed in the video was the 2007 Alfasi Chardonnay, from Maule Valley, Chile. I’ve been enjoying various Chilean wines recently, and was excited to find a Kosher wine from Chile. Unfortunately, similar to another blog’s review of an Alfasi wine, I find very little information about the wine or the producing winery online. It’s bottled by Carta Vieja, but they do not list Alfasi as one of the wines they offer on their website. This wine is Mevushal, which according to the importer of wine, means it’s fit for even the most Orthodox wine lover. The Alfasi Chardonnay had a very fruit forward palate, with “Tree Fruits” such as pear and apple, though there was certainly some tropical fruits, pineapple perhaps, present. There was a good bit of acid on the back end, and I believe that’s where the citrus flavor I found came from. While certainly a Chardonnay, it reminded me, very much so, of a Sauvignon Blanc with the citrus and acid on the palate.  It’s a nice wine, definitely worth a shot at $11 retail. Another good value wine from Chile!

Ben Ami Chardonnay 2006

Ben Ami Chardonnay 2006

The second kosher wine for the Wine Blogging Wednesday review that I tasted was Ben ami Chardonnay, 2006, from Galil, Israel. The wine was made from 100% Chardonnay grapes and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Another disappointment when it came to searching for producer information. Nothing shows up about the winery. While I was able to find various stores selling the wine, and less than the $13 I paid in a local store, with shipping, it’ll net out to about the same price.  You may notice that in the video, I was quite underwhelmed by this wine.  The bouquet was uninviting, almost unpleasant and really didn’t start the tasting off on the right foot. This wine had plenty of tropical fruit on the palate, something I don’t normally look for in a Chardonnay. It had a heavy mouth feel, with that buttery quality to it. However, to me, it’s a pretty boring wine. The finish left me wanting something more, and I was disappointed.  That being said, when we talk about Kosher wines, and the fact that this is under $14, I would be able to bring it somewhere without feeling like I brought white grape juice. It’s definitely an attempt at a serious, structured wine, just not one that is to my palate. However, it’s inexpensive enough to give a try and make your own opinions of.

Baron Herzog Chardonnay 2007

Baron Herzog Chardonnay 2007

This brings us to our third Kosher chardonnay of the evening, The Baron Herzog 2006 Chardonnay.  Thankfully, there is a website for Baron Herzog Wine Cellars, with information about their 2006 Chardonnay.  I had thought there was perhaps some Viognier blended into the wine to give it the floral component I noted in the video. However, there is no mention of blending of grapes on the website.  That leads me to believe it’s 100% Chardonnay, though I am not positive. The producer website says the wine could age well for two to four years, and given the fact that this retails for $13, I may put a bottle in the cellar to open in 2011 and re-review. This wine was certainly my favorite of the Kosher chardonnay wines, as the bouquet was quite inviting and aromatic, with a very interesting and enjoyable palate.  The Herzog Wine Cellar website has some very interesting information on it, about the history of the winery, their sustainable wine growing efforts, and even a nice, detailed education on what Kosher wine is. A nice wine with fruit and floral notes, definitely a wine I’d serve during a summer backyard party, Kosher or not. Of course, my tasting notes are in the video, but I’ll say that if you’re looking for a fruit forward, almost floral summer white, give the Baron Herzog Chardonnay a try. I think you’ll find that it’s an interesting wine that offers pretty good quality for the price.

While that wraps up the three Kosher wines I tasted for the Wine Blogging Wednesday installment, it does not complete our world tour. While the mission of finding a well made, enjoyable Kosher wine was successful, certainly in the Alfasi and Baron Herzog wines, how did they stack up to a non-kosher wine?  Trying to stay within the price range, I selected a South African Chardonnay, the Graham Beck 2007.

Graham Beck Chardonnay 2007

Graham Beck Chardonnay 2007

Hailing from Robertson, Cape, South Africa, this Chardonnay has a lot to offer. Definitely my preference of the tasting, it certainly was a high QPR wine. With it’s darker color, approaching a light golden hue, the nose on this chard is typical butter and vanilla. While a portion, about 30% of the wine, is fermented in various stages of French Oak, the balance is in stainless steel with malolactic fermentation not encouraged.  This allows some of the butter and vanilla from the oak to show, without making it over oaky or masking the fruit, and offering crisp flavors in conjunction to the buttery nose, and palate.  There’s also a nice finish with some acid on it, that balances it all very well, and is a nice finish to a nice wine.  This wine is going to be splendid on its own, or great with a nice chicken dish, summer salad selection, and even fish of various types. I wouldn’t hesitate to break out a case of this at my next summer bash, and just might!

The Graham Beck Wines website is also chock full of interesting information. Like many wineries, they’re taking a responsible stance towards conservation and preservation of nature and the lands they use.  They talk about their biodiversity drive, and what they’re doing to try and help the environment while still making quality wines. While this is very noteworthy, as is the various technological methods Graham Beck uses to ensure the quality of their wines is up to their high standards, I saw nothing about being a “green” or “organic” operation.

Thank you for visiting, and please let me know what you think of the video, and the blog post itself. I really threw all of this together within the last hour of my day, and apologize for the audio not being so hot, and the lack of techincal data on the wines. Let me know how I can improve my posts in the future, to make your wine experiences better!

Mulderbosch Cabernet Rose 2006

Typically when I think of Rose, I think of White Zinfandel. I think of the cheap, sweet wine I used to try to convince the girls to swill when I was younger. I also think of several great friends who prefer sweeter, fruiter wines, and aren’t interested in most of the other types of wine available. I also remember Robin’s comment of “I used to drink White Zin before I knew what wine was.”