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Video Wine Review

Lets drink some Chilean organic wine – Pinot Noir from Cono Sur

Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

Pinot Noir from Chile? You’ve got to be kidding, right? Everyone knows Pinot Noir comes from … well, a lot of places. Which is why it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise that Chile is putting Pinot on the table. While not it’s primary red wine, ranking 5th in hectars planted behind Cabernet Sauvignon (41k hectars), Merlot (13k hectars), Carmenere (7k hectars), and Syrah (3.5k hectars), I assure you that Chile is managing to put out some very enjoyable Pinot Noir, and at very reasonable prices.

I’ve already made the point that Chilean wines are offering great value. They are certainly producing good wines that, at their price point, rival wines from most every other country. I was fortunate enough to participate in an event with other wine bloggers, which allowed us to sit in on a video conference between the New York PR folks from Wines of Chile, and 8 Chilean wine makers in Chile.  Michael Green, Wine & Spirits consultant for Gourmet magazine moderated the panel, asking questions on behalf of the bloggers, so we could learn a bit about the wine makers, and their wines. There was definitely some skepticism on behalf of the bloggers when it came time to try the Pinot Noir.

As you can see from my video, while I found it enjoyable, I mention another Chilean Pinot that I haven’t had the time to write up yet. I find the Morande Reserva offers just a bit more organic, earthy flavors and smoke, allowing the terrior show through. However, there are Pinots of all shapes and sizes, and a Pinot with nice round fruit is not unappreciated.

After the tasting, I corked/capped up the wines, and let them sit out at about 70 degrees until the next evening. Then, one by one I tasted each wine, comparing the 2nd day to the first. In some cases, the wines evolved in a beautiful way. In others, they held the same, or perhaps were better the first time. My video recaps my tasting notes from the first night, when I tweeted them with the #winesofchile hashtag. It also recaps the tasting notes I made from the 2nd night.

Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir 2008

Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir 2008

A few things I’d like to note about Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir before I recap some of the discussion had amongst the bloggers about this wine. First of all, Cono Sur, like Emiliana’s Natura Sauvignon Blanc, has a commitment to the environment. Their wine is certified organic by BCS Oeko Garantie GMBH Germany. They achieved Carbon Neutral status in terms of their delivery, their sustainable farming practices offsetting carbon emissions due to delivering their product.  More and more companies in agricultural arenas are doing this, and it’s likely going to be achieved by more and more wineries as concern for our environment increases.

The Cono Sur Vision Pinot Noir hails from the Colchagua Valley in Chile.  It’s a cooler part of the valley, which offers ideal Pinot Noir growing conditions.  These grapes come from “68 Old Vines” section of the vineyard.  The name hails from the fact the vine were planted in 1968, and thus being over 40 years old gives them the Old Vines designation. The wine is aged 10 months in barrels, 1 month in stainless steel tanks. It has 13.7% ABV (Alcohol by Volume).

There were some detractors, who found the wine flat and a bit pedestrian. However, many of us found it to be quite enjoyable. Some of the bloggers thought that this was a very nice wine. Katie from Gonzogastronomy felt it was a “pleasure to drink a Pinot that wasn’t loaded with overripe fruit.” Robert Dwyer of Wellesley Wine Press said “the Cono Sur Pinot Noir was more varietally correct than almost any US made in the same price range.”  And Jeff from Good Grape said that “the Cono Sur Pinot is nice, too. $15 bucks, CA Pinot cant touch that at price point.”

After viewing this video, let me know what you think.  Are you going to give a Pinot Noir from Chile a shot?  Or are you going to stick with a French or US Pinot Noir? And if you aren’t going to venture out to Chile, why not? Take a moment to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear what you think of Chilean Pinot Noir, the Wines of Chile in general, or anything else you’d like to offer.

Natura Sauvignon Blanc from Chile – an organically grown wine

Natura Sauvignon Blanc from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

There’s no doubt that I’ve been drinking a lot of wine from Chile lately. Well, on Wednesday May 20th, I was given the opportunity to not only drink some more, but virtually drink with with a gaggle of wine bloggers, and the wine makers themselves. The PR folks at Wines of Chile put together a great event where the winemakers met in Chile, and via video conference, were asked questions by Michael Green, Wine & Spirits consultant for Gourmet magazine. During the event, the bloggers were tasting along with the winemakers and Michael, tweeting about it using the #winesofchile hashtag, and enjoying a good time with wine.

Natura Sauvignon Blanc

Natura Sauvignon Blanc

The first wine of the evening was the Natura Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from Emiliana. This wine is from the Casablanca Valley of Chile, where it’s proximity to the ocean gives it great growing conditions to produce a very nice white wine.  Winemaker Antonio Bravo, who’s been with Emiliana since 2006, gave the bloggers a bit of background on the wines, and the wine making process. Of note was that this wine is made with Organically grown grapes, and that Emiliana has a commitment to being environmentally responsible and organic.  The wine label does indeed say it’s certified organic by IMO Switzerland, which I misspoke about during the video. Although Emiliana has a great website, I cant seem to find information on the NATURA line, which is under the Organico label from what I’ve been told. (Update 6/12, You can get information on the Natura line of organic wines online!)

The bouquet on this white wine is a mixture of orange and orange blossoms, showing citrus and subtle floral together. The citrus fruit was round and full, with some nice back end acidity.  There was definitely more acidity the first night I tasted this wine, but the second night still had nice balance. This Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t have the minerality and herbaceous notes that French and some New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs do, but that’s not a bad thing. Quite honestly, for an $11 wine, I would more than certainly give this wine a shot. I’d love to pair this white wine with some grilled chicken, a salad, or grilled fish.

Let me know what you think after you check out the video, and leave a comment below. I’m always interested in hearing your thoughts!

Wine Blogging Wednesday 57 California Dreaming

Robert Mondavi's Harvest of Joy biography

Robert Mondavi's Harvest of Joy biography

As most of the wine loving world knows, Robert Mondavi passed away one year ago May 16th. In an effort to recognize and pay homage to this progressive and influential force in the wine world, Jeff LeFavere from goodgrape.com has chosen a topic for this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday that invokes Mondavi’s passion for California wines. Jeff’s mission was simple, “revisit a California wine that they have enjoyed, or have a particular fond memory of, and tell a story.” Everyone that knows me knows I love to tell stories, and this topic allows me to do so. I’ll post the video wine review at the end of the post, so please take the time to read the story, and of course, view the video.

Before I get into the wine, and my story, I want to take the time to reprint some of Jeff’s original post and comment on that. I thought his post was quite well written, and captured some of my own thoughts and feelings.  Jeff writes that “Mondavi was such an inspiration physically, spiritually and philosophically to so many – both in the industry and to consumers, while acting as the forefather of the modern California wine movement” and later goes on to say “Mondavi was a people person, fostering a spirit of goodwill amongst friends new and old while promoting a life well lived that included wine and food as complementary companions on the table and in life.”  Quite frankly, that is what I love about wine, that it allows us to bring together friends, new and old, and enjoy time with each other, harmonizing the food and the people at once.

Robin & I creating memories in San Francisco

Robin & I creating memories in San Francisco

In March of this year, Robin and I took a long weekend and flew out to San Francisco, CA. Robin had never been to San Francisco, and since I was there for training the following week, we decided to tack on a few days and have some fun with it. Coincidentally, it was the 2009 “Wine Road Barrel Tasting” event, so we figured after a day in The Bay, we’d spend two days in Sonoma tasting wines and enjoying life. We have some friends from Twitter who live in the area, so we all planned on meeting Saturday morning for the adventure. Robin and I had a lovely romantic day in San Francisco on Friday, and Saturday morning started our wine journey.

Our first stop was the meet Thea (@winebratsf on twitter) and Robbin (@robbin_g) in San Francisco. After picking them up, we drove out to Dry Creek, stopping at Truett Hurst for our first of many tastings. There we hooked up with a bevy of people including Valerie (@winedog), Shana (@Sharayray), John (@DrncPno), Amy (@WineWonkette), Patrick (@Oenophilus), as well as Jim (@sonomawineguy) and probably more I’m forgetting about! We began tasting wines that were just put into the barrels (hence, “Barrel Tasting”), as well as wines that each vineyard had already bottled as current offerings.

Click for the view from atop Michel-Schlumberge vineyard

Click for the view from atop Michel-Schlumberge vineyard

The first day of tasting we ended up going
to 5 or more wineries including Michel-Schlumberger where we met up with MS President & General Manager  Judd Wallenbrock (@Humanitas and @M_Schlumberger),  where we had a lovely walk through the vineyards and some spectacular private tastings.  We capped off Saturday by going to a nice wine bar and doing a Pinot Noir Twitter Taste Live event, complete with live streaming video.

Sunday brought us more wine, and more friends.  We met up with  Liza (@Brixchick_Liza) and continued to tour much of Healdsburg ‘s wineries, tasting rooms, and coops. Robin and I purchased a case of wine from here, and a case of wine from there, selecting what we thought were the stand outs of the visits. The day wore on, and we began to wear out. Robin and I were freezing, as a cold and rainy Sonoma Day is not the same as a hot and humid Florida Day. Just as we were about to recommend we head on back to the hotel and call it a day, Thea mentioned that we were to meet Patrick, his wife Genevieve, and their family at Chateau Felice for one last, special tasting.  Patrick and Genevieve originally started Chateau Felice, and have since turned it over to their family. The couple have moved on to a new adventure, Iridesse Wines, and they’re going to do great things there.

View of Chateau Felice from Tasting Room

Click for a view of Chateau Felice from Tasting Room

Driving up to Chateau Felice, on Chalk Hill Road, took about 20 minutes from our last winery. However, as soon as we approached the gates to the Chateau, we were all glad we made the trip. A beautiful gate opened up to a sprawling estate with fantastic landscaping and property. We made our way around the water to a barn, which was the tasting room. There we were able to sample some of the future offerings from the barrels, as well as some finished product.

We met Barry & Phyllis Rodgers, vintners and proprietors of Chateau Felice. A lovely couple with outgoing personalities, they welcomed us to their home and their passion. We listened as they told us about the wine, the estate, and the future. Barry poured us wonderful barrel samples, and tempted us with futures.  Unfortunately, Robin and I had met our quota on wine purchases, and avoided those temptations.  We were not, however, as diligent with the current releases.

A gorgeous Sitting Area outside Cheateu Felice wine tasting room

A gorgeous Sitting Area outside Cheateu Felice wine tasting room

We next met Barry and Phyllis’ daughter Samantha Rodgers-Daniel, director of Sales & Marketing. She was pouring the current releases, and gave us a fabulous tour of all of the wines Chateau Felice had available for sale. We had the opportunity to taste 6 different wines, each more lovely than the last.  And here is where we go back to what Robert Mondavi and Jeff’s theme is all about. The people and the event made this wine moment memorable.

It was more than just Robin &  I in a wonderful place for the first time, enjoying each other and our passion for wine.  It was more than just friends enjoying a nice time.  It was the harmony made between the people, the location, and the wine that created “a time and a place” worth savoring.  We took our time, enjoying each others company. We took our time, enjoying each sip of wine. We took in the beautiful scenery, despite the cold and the rain. We savored our experience.  And Robin and I bought a mixed case of Chateau Felice wines to relive that experience again, and again.

Chateau Felice 2007 Black Label Zinfandel wine

Chateau Felice 2007 Black Label Zinfandel wine

The wine we selected to relive these fond memories was the Chateau Felice Black Label Zinfandel 2007. We selected this wine tonight because not only was it one of our favorite Zinfandel’s from the weekend’s tastings, but because we knew it would go nicely with our dinner of homemade lazagna.  I’ll let the video speak for itself in terms of what the wine has to offer, and leave this wine blog post with it’s mission in tact. I selected a wine that invoked fond memories. And now, I have the blog post, and video, to relive them again, and again.

Wine Blogging Wednesday 57 – California Dreaming from Matthew Scott on Vimeo.

I will, as the video said I would, discuss how the wine paired with the meal. I’m going to be making a conscious effort to discuss food and wine pairings in each of my wine reviews and wine blog posts, as many of my friends have asked for this information.  Between the live tastings, twitter taste live events, and my own tastings, I’ve been able to taste a variety of wine with an array of foods, and I want to discuss and share this knowledge.

As the flavors from the lasagna, the sauce, cheeses and pasta, coated the palate the wine transformed.  The Chateau Felice Zinfandel morphed from the bright fruit discussed in the video to this dark and deep wine. There was certainly a coffee and cocoa component on the finish that was very enjoyable.  Much of the zip and pepper was smoothed out, and the mouth feel was much more elegant with food. It was a great pairing, and I’m sure you’d enjoy it as well.

AS always, thank you to Lenn Thompson for helping the wine blogging community stay strong and focused, at least once per month! We appreciate the effort you took, and take, to keep Wine Blogging Wednesday going.

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!

Chillin with Chile – Caliterra Reserva Sauvignon Blanc

Caliterra Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Caliterra Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2008

There is no doubt that I feel wines from Chile offer tremendous value. While many of you probably cut your “Red Wine Teeth” on Merlot or Zinfandel as first red wines, I was purchasing Chilean Carmenere two or three times a week when I first started drinking red wine. I always felt that for the money, you got a great wine with complex flavors while being very approachable.  That’s why I am very excited that I’ve got a shipment of 12 different wines from Chile to drink and discuss with you.  The first wine I had was Caliterra‘s Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2008, and I’m excited to talk about it!

Sobon Estate ReZerve Zinfandel 2006

Sobon Estate ReZerve Zin 2006

Sobon Estate ReZerve Zin 2006

Hopefully you read my blog often, or subscribe to it via RSS.  If that is the case, you probably saw that I’ve had a hankering for Zinfandel wines lately.  You’ll also know that while not bad wines, neither of the wines in that first review really knocked my socks off.  Therefore, it’s time to talk about the next Zin, and see how my socks end up after it’s reviewed.

Que Syrah – Taft Street 2006

Taft Street Syrah

Taft Street Syrah

Since I wasn’t crazy about either of the Syrah wines I had for Wine Blogging Wednesday #55, I decided to open a third. I was hopeful to end the night on a positive note, so I opened up a Dry Creek Valley wine, since I would soon be there. The Taft Street Syrah 2006,  about $20 retail, got the call and I chose to save the Longboard for my return from California. The question is, did I pick the right wine to end the night?

Wine Blogging Wednesday 55 – Syrah Showdown

Bridgeman Syrah 2005

Bridgeman Syrah 2005

Let me start off today’s Wine Blogging Wednesday post by saying no winemaker sets out to make a bad wine.  These men and women put their hearts and souls into each glass of their wine that gets poured. They create something they truly love and believe in, and put it out for the entire world to enjoy. Therefore, I have no right, ever, to say a wine is bad, or sucks, or undrinkable. I may utter those words, or worse, type them, but I have no right to. The “most” I am entitled to say is that I don’t enjoy the wine, whether it’s not my style or perhaps I prefer a similar wine for a better price.  So, whenever ou catch me saying “Wow, this is horrible”, translate that into “I really don’t enjoy this wine, it wasn’t for me.”