Thursday, December 29, 2016

Wine Review: Matchbook Dunnigan Hills 2015 Old Head Chardonnay


Matchbook Wine Company has appeared on this blog many times. November of 2015 was dedicated entirely to their wines, and then they returned for a few more reviews in July of 2016 and September of 2016. If you'd like to read more about them then check out my article A Brief History of Matchbook Wine Company

One of those previous wines I've reviewed by them was their 2012 Old Head Chardonnay and today I'm revisiting their Old Head with the latest vintage. The 2015 vintage is 100% estate bottled Chardonnay and made from six different clones of the varietal. Clone 809, 25% of the blend, was fermented in stainless steel while the other clones, 75% of the blend, saw 100% aging in French, hybrid American and Hungarian oak barrels on the lees. It has an ABV of 13.9% and 48,000 cases were produced.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Jeroboams & Balthazars, Part 3: Wine Bottles of Colossal Proportions

This is the conclusion of a series on the stories behind the names of wine bottle sizes, and we're now left with the biggest of the big. These are the bottles that may require some assistance to physically pick up.

DAVID AND GOLIATH
IMAGE CREDIT: huffingtonpost.com
In Part 1: Wine Bottles of Typical Proportions, everything from the 187.5 milliliter piccolo to the 3 liter double-magum was covered. This included several hypotheses on how the 750 milliliter became the standard bottle today. I also, in the end, gave an explanation on why this was a 3-part series instead of being one, flowing, easily accessible source. Part 1 is a completely different animal and a much lighter read than the following two.

Part 2: Wine Bottles of Biblical Proportions started off with the Christian necessity of wine for worship, leading to better quality wine everywhere it spread. Because of this everything above 3 liters with the exception of one are named after legendary and powerful characters from Abrahamic mythology. Then it was the turn of anything from the 4.5 liter Jeroboam / Rehoboam to the 15 liter Nebuchadnezzar.

If you read Part 1 then you know the backstory on how the idea to do this was planted into my brain. And you know from both parts and some of my other writings that I'm on the Richard Dawkins level of religious belief. So why would I actually spend months with the Bible to write this series? The answer is because I love history and even (or especially) the mythologies that people still cling to today are an important part of our history both culturally and as a species as a whole.

But what good to anybody does it serve to get this in-depth? You could argue that most of the content of Part 2 and Part 3 are just ancient stories organized in a bottle size format and none of this really has to do with wine at all. And you can get plenty of simple lists of the bottle size names in books and on the internet, right?

My answer to that is this: I'm a true believer in understanding things. I just didn't learn how to make French toast, I learned that it was invented by the French living in poverty to rehydrate stale bread. I just didn't accept Christmas lights as a tradition, I learned why it's a tradition and that they're meant to mimic the moonlight reflecting off of icicles. Telling somebody that gravity exists does absolutely nothing. But tell somebody why gravity exists and now you're really providing something useful. By the same token, if you tell somebody that an 18 liter bottle is a Melchior then you've just given out information that only creates more questions. Is that piece of data enough for you? That an 18 liter bottle is a Melchior? Because that isn't enough for me. And speaking of Melchior, that's where we're starting right now...

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wine Review: Alta Mora Etna Rosso 2014


Cusumano isn't just Tony Soprano's doctor and neighbor. They're a Sicilian family winery now in their third generation with impressive vineyard spots for both their classic style wines and new age, trailblazing wines. Their entry level Nero d'Avolla is good quality and pretty popular among the average wine consumer in the US, but their other wines likes their Insolia are also nice.

Alta Mora is their new project. It's not a new label or brand as an extension of their winery, it's an entirely new winery itself. The focus of this winery is their vineyards on the slopes of the active volcano Mount Etna, so the name "Alta Mora" represents the high altitude and the dark volcanic soil.

The Etna Rosso is 100% Norello Mascalese. This is an indigenous grape to Sicily, mostly grown around Mount Etna, that is almost like a cross between a light and earthy Pinot Noir and the high acid, high tannin, tarry Nebbiolo. It may be outshined by Nero d'Avola on the market, but it will not be outshined in the glass.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Wine Reviews: Best of Fall 2016!

Tomorrow is the last day of fall! Since October was International Merlot Month and November was Market Vineyards Month, there was a lot of Merlot and Market Vineyards reviews on the blog. Here's the best of the wines that I reviewed for the season!

#5. Market Vineyards Dividend Syrah 2013

Market Vineyards Dividend Syrah 2013Region: Columbia Valley, Washington State
Review Release: November 13th, 2016


On the nose there's an overlaying minerality above aromas of lavender, raisins, chocolate (Raisinettes, anyone?) and pepper, with a slight note of anise. It smells very ripe and sticky. In the mouth it's rich and lush with soft tannin and just a little perk of acidity. That minerality on the nose is also on the palate with flavors of pomegranate, strawberry jam and baked earth. The most impressive feature of this wine is the finish! It's ridiculously long and lip smacking with pomegranate and baked earth.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $39
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#4. Benziger Sonoma County Merlot 2013

Benziger Sonoma County Merlot 2013Region: Sonoma County, California
Review Release: October 30th, 2016

The nose just hits me right in the heart. If you love Merlot as much as I do then you'll see just what I mean. There's aromas of cinnamon, big juicy and ripe blueberry and blackberry, a hint of mint (hehe, that rhymes), and there's a fiery spiciness following it all up. I started this month with a Merlot that screams #MerlotMe on the nose and I'm finishing with one as well.

On the palate it echoes the flavor descriptors of the nose, it's medium to full bodied, has low acidity, medium and balanced tannin, and a mouthfeel that's as smooth as Luther Vandross. It finishes with blackberries, an uprise in tartness, and oak.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $16
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#3. Market Vineyards Red Mountain Alpha Merlot 2010

Market Vineyards Red Mountain Alpha Merlot 2010Region: Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, Washington State
Review Release: November 24th, 2016


The nose has juicy cherries, mocha, fresh bbq rosemary, vanilla and cinnamon. The way it all comes together makes me want to slam my Riedel onto the desk and shatter it. But a Riedel broke in the sink the other day and it was gutwrenching so I cannot, no -- WILL NOT, go through that pain again. Do you think you know grief and suffering? Because you do not, my friend.

On the midpalate it's medium bodied and smooth as velvet with soft tannin and very low acidity. Big, concentrated flavors of cherries and blackberries with cedar, cool moist sand and dark chocolate. The finish turns grainy in mouthfeel as the tannins kick up their game, and flavors of blackberries and dark chocolate last incredibly long.


QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $63
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#2. Scott Family Estate Chardonnay 2014

Scott Family Estate Chardonnay 2014
Region: Arroyo Seco / Monterey, California
Review Release: November 1st, 2016 (Wine Pick of the Month)


The nose is outstanding with aromas of vanilla, carnations, pear, banana, ginger and dry stone. It's full bodied in the mouth and, again, creamy and buttery but with a lively acidity that keeps it all from going overboard. There's flavors of almonds, lemon, pear and ginger. Then it finishes dry with oak and banana.

It really is sensational all around and every Chardonnay lover should give it a try.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $20
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#1. Market Vineyards Red Mountain Acquisition Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Region: Red Mountain, Columbia Valley, Washington State
Review Release: November 27th, 2016


The color is a ruby garnet. Black licorice sucker-punches you right in the nose! There's also aromas of black current, cherry cola, vanilla and toffee. It just reels you right in!

Unlike MV's Arbitrage Cabernet, which needs some bottle aging, the Acquisition Cabernet is good to go right now. There's a refined, feminine elegance dancing around on the smooth mouthfeel, while still being full bodied with a burly and masculine richness. An assortment of cherries are on the palate, along with plums, driftwood and caraway. It finishes with a little visit from the tannin, but not overwhelming, and a higher acidity than you would expect; both aspects making it an excellent and versatile food wine.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $52
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Wine Review: Markham Napa Valley Merlot 2014

Markham Napa Valley Merlot 2014

Back in 1852, Jean Laurent left Bordeaux for California in search of gold. He struck out on that, but in 1874 he ended up founding one of the very first Napa Valley wineries. He'd became one of the largest producers of California wine of the 1880's. Skip ahead to 1978. Bruce Markham bought several vineyards in Napa, along with the Laurent winery. Laurent's winery was yet again a big success as Markham Vineyards, and it became one of the most advanced winemaking facilities in the country after renovations following the 1988 sale to Mercian Corporation. The heart of the modern day winery is Laurent's old stone cellar.

Markham has been making Merlot since 1980, the same year I was born, so they have my lifetime's experience with the varietal. Their 2014 Merlot comes from various places around Napa Valley including Oak Knoll, Yountville and Calistoga. The blend is 86% Merlot, 12% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Petite Syrah. Eleven days were spent with skin contact while it fermented in 100% stainless steel. Then it saw fifteen months aging in new oak. It has a 14.2% ABV.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Wine Review: Hanna Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Hanna Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Dr. Elias Hanna was raised around the farm life, and in 1985 he bought 12 acres of vineyard land in Russian River Valley to bring him back to his farming roots, founding Hanna Winery & Vineyards. Today their Home Ranch Vineyard has 25 acres of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Russian River Valley, and their Slusser Ranch Vineyard (also in RRV) is 50 acres of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Red Ranch Vineyard is 88 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot in Alexander Valley. In the New Moon AVA of Sonoma they've got their Bismark Mountain Vineyard, planted with 67 acres of Zinfandel and, like Red Ranch Vineyard, Bordeaux varieties.

I've got right here a bottle of their 2015 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc. 100% SB fermented in stainless steel with a comination of commercial yeasts and wild ones, and then aged in stainless steel on the lees. For a few vintages there I was getting a lot of floride on the palate of California Sauvignon Blanc but that seems to be fading, so I'm hoping this one continues with that trend.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Memories of Garnacha Day 2016 (September 16th)


On the 16th of September I was lucky enough to be a part of a Snooth.com online tasting for #GarnachaDay. It was hosted by Master Sommelier Laura Maniec with Master of Wine Christy Canterbury as a guest, both on video while the rest of us were on chat that was connected to our Twitters.

When this happened I had a lot going on and wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it that night, and luckily I was. But not as organized and prepared as I would have liked to be. I didn't take notes (dumb), didn't spit (dumb), and had to be up incredibly early the next day.

Regardless, it was a fun time had by all and I was honored to be invited. Here I'll be giving just a quick rundown of what I thought of the wines.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Jeroboams & Balthazars, Part 2: Wine Bottles of Biblical Proportions

Throughout the history of wine there have been countless variations of vessels to carry and store it. As we've already seen, there are many different names that have been used to describe specific glass wine bottles (apart from simply calling them by how much volume they carry). The title of this three part series, Jeroboams & Balthazars, are just two of them. The point of this series is to not only show the names of these bottles that are still in production, but also to tell the stories of for whom specific bottles were named after and why that name was chosen.

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream
NEBUCHADNEZZAR
IMAGE CREDIT: bibleencyclopedia.com
In Part 1: Wine Bottles of Typical Proportions everything below 3 liters was covered. And everything below 3 liters are easily summarized as a translation (piccolo means "small", magnum means "great") or just an old unit of measurement (like the chopine). In other words: light reading. When you go above that 3 liter bottle, things change.

Wine is an essential part of Christian worship. And so you have Christians, particularly the Catholics, pretty much making all of the advancements in viticulture and winemaking for the vast majority of the last 2,000 years. Wherever Christianity spread, the wine got better. If they didn't make wine before, then vineyards started popping up. Of course, the monotheist institution caused other advancements to be set back hundreds to thousands of years but c'mon... wine is a necessity of life.

The people that named these impressively large bottles had larger-than-life characters from their religious faiths in mind. Who better to be the namesake of an enormous and heavy bottle of wine than a great king of Israel? Or a giant that tried to kill one of them? They may be characters from an ancient mythology that's still believed by many today, but there is no denying that these characters are legendary and have had influence in the course of world history. And, whether you're a theist or an atheist like myself, you have to admit that they're great stories.

And so we transition away from a double-magnum being twice the size of a magnum, and thus double-great, into something completely different. Now we delve into the world of the Christian Old Testament, AKA the Jewish Tanakh.

But before we begin, this blog comment was made by mgraves in Part 1: "What you should emphasize is how infrequently the the odd sizes are used. Most especially the very large bottles. It has been said that there have been more very large bottles of old Bordeaux sold than were ever known to be produced. Large bottles have played an important role in famous wine frauds." Thanks, mgraves! I was unaware of that fact!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Wine Review: Cecchi Chianti Classico 2014

Cecci Chianti Classico 2014

The Cecchi family got into the winemaking business in 1893 with Luigi Cecchi, and the first bottles of Cecchi labeled wines were produced in the early 1900's. However, the land that their winery and estate vineyards are on has been making wine for over a thousand years. Today it's run by Andrea and Cesare Cecchi, and they pride themselves on their practice of sustainability.

My favorite thing about Cecchi actually isn't their wines, although they're good too. Cecchi has among the coolest social media accounts for wineries.They're constantly posting stuff on their Facebook and Instagram and it's almost always awesome. From vintage photos, gorgeous vineyards, behind the scenes looks at tastings and harvests, delicious food, interesting articles, and etc. They're also HIGHLY interactive and helpful with their followers. Cecchi is on top of the social media game.

Today I'm reviewing their 2014 Chianti Classico. It's 90% Sangiovese and I'm assuming the other 10% is Canaiolo and/or Cabernet Sauvignon. It saw 12 months in oak, two months bottle aging, and has an ABV of 13%.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bad Luck Brian on wine

Says Moscato is "too sweet". Loves Asti.

This happens way more often than you thinkit should.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Jeroboams & Balthazars, Part 1: Wine Bottles of Typical Proportions

On a daily basis, the wine bottle sizes that you'll most likely encounter are the 750 milliliter and the 1.5 liter. They're known as the standard and the magnum, respectfully, and they fill the shelves of wine shops and aisles of liquor stores everywhere. You'll also see "splits" and smaller bottles in four packs regularly, with sparkling wine as the more common purchase in those formats. But did you know there's a 6 liter bottle? A 30 liter bottle?

Banfi Centine - standard bottle vs Jeroboam
STANDARD VS JEROBOAM
These smaller or larger bottles also have names that have been applied to them besides just a description of their volume or content. Their namesake, once you get over 3 liters, strictly comes from the kings and characters of ancient mythology. More specifically: the Tanakh of Judaism (the Old Testament of the Christian Bible). And one of those fellas, the biggest one of them all, is from Greek mythology. Hint: he likes gold.

Some of these characters after which these bottle sizes were named were real people implemented into the stories and some of them were completely fabricated or legendary figures embellished through religious text. But also some of these bottle names in the lesser sizes come from something else entirely, like the pleasantly small "piccolo".

A friend of mine, namely my personal history expert and special guest editor Graham Richardson, had come across, IIRC, the "Methuselah" six liter bottle. He messaged me asking if all of the bottle sizes for wine had Biblical names. After we began investigating the topic he stated "I think I smell an article." He was actually smelling nachos but an article was a good idea.

In the two and a half years I've been doing this, you should know that I don't do things simply and easily. So rather than just spit out the names of the bottle sizes with a blurb that says "Biblical King" or whatever, let's get into the stories of their namesakes.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December Wine Pick: Mont Gravet Cotes de Gascogne 2015

This WINE PICK of the month was written for the Luke's of Cape Cod website.

Mont Gravet Cotes de Gascogne 2015

Mont refers to the hills of France's Gascony region on which the vineyards rest on their slopes, and Gravet refers to its gravelly soil. The Gascony region is famous for its brandies, most notably Armagnac, but they do make drinkable wine there. This wine is 100% Colombard, one of the more popular permitted grapes used for making brandy.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Wine Review: Market Vineyards Red Mountain Acquisition Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

November is Market Vineyards Month on TheWineStalker.net!

Market Vineyards Red Mountain Acquisition Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

The entire month of November is dedicated to Market Vineyards! To learn more about this wonderful Washington State winery, please read my article A Brief History of Market Vineyards.

So this is it! The last review of Market Vineyards and I'm sad about it. So many awesome wines from this boutique winery. I suggest that all of you readers buy their wines if you come across them. And to Market Vineyards: Thank you for the opportunity to experience your wines and write about them. It's been a pleasure. Please stay in contact. :)

But we're not done yet! Just one more! This is the 2011 Acquisition Cabernet Sauvignon. 100% Cab all from Hightower Vineyard in Red Mountain. Just 96 cases were produced and the ABV is 14.8%.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wine Review: Market Vineyards Red Mountain Alpha Merlot 2010

November is Market Vineyards Month on TheWineStalker.net!

Market Vineyards Alpha Merlot 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! On the day that this review is released I'll be thankful for the usual boring things like family and blah blah blah. The next day I will be thankful for Pepto Bismol because I plan on stuffing my friggin face with so much unhealthy crap on Thanksgiving that it'll make Michelle Obama cry. Sorry, Michelle. Gardening season is over. It's fat time.

The entire month of November is dedicated to Market Vineyards! To learn more about this wonderful Washington State winery, please read my article A Brief History of Market Vineyards.

Thanks to October being International Merlot Month and the two Merlot's reviewed here in Market Vineyards Month, Merlot is now the top "labelled" variety on this website. So it's been tagged here in more reviews (varietals and blends), articles, memes, whatever than any other varietal. I'm assuming it's been actually reviewed the most too but I'm too lazy to do the research. Check out everything I've labeled with Merlot by clicking here.

Market Vineyards prides itself with its connection to its home in Red Mountain, however all of the wines I've reviewed by them so far have only qualified for the Columbia Valley AVA. But that changes today. Their Alpha Merlot wears the Red Mountain AVA on its label. It's 100% Merlot from Red Mountain Vineyards, only 96 cases were produced, and the final ABV is 47.9%.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Wine Review: Market Vineyards Arbitrage Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

November is Market Vineyards Month on TheWineStalker.net!

Market Vineyards Arbitrage Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

The entire month of November is dedicated to Market Vineyards! To learn more about this wonderful Washington State winery, please read my article A Brief History of Market Vineyards.

Today I'm reviewing their 2012 Arbitrage Cabernet Sauvignon. It's 100% Cab from Columbia Valley; 50% Shaw Vineyard, 33% Discovery, 17% Weinbau Vineyard. The Arbitrage has a 14.8% ABV, and it's pretty high production for this winery with 438 cases being made. It's one of two Cabernet's that I'm reviewing by MV, with their higher tiered Acquisition Cab coming up on Sunday.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Wine Review & Product Review: Market Vineyards Benchmark Merlot 2012 & Vinum Meum Wine Stoppers

November is Market Vineyards Month on TheWineStalker.net!

Market Vineyards Benchmark Merlot 2012

The entire month of November is dedicated to Market Vineyards! To learn more about this wonderful Washington State winery, please read my article A Brief History of Market Vineyards.

We're down to the Final Four in Market Vineyards Month! What we have left is two Merlot's and two Cab's. Tonight I'm reviewing their 2012 Benchmark Merlot out of Columbia Valley. It's 100% Merlot from Gamache Vineyard.

So not only am I reviewing a wine today but a product as well. I have before me a box sent to me from Vinum Meum that contains some wine stoppers. Whatever "technology" is used is patented so they better be tight, right? I'm gonna do my best to make wine spill everywhere! Nah, just kidding. I'm gonna see if they work.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Wine Review: Market Vineyards Basis Points Red Blend 2012

November is Market Vineyards Month on TheWineStalker.net!

Market Vineyards Basis Points Red Blend 2012

The entire month of November is dedicated to Market Vineyards! To learn more about this wonderful Washington State winery, please read my article A Brief History of Market Vineyards.

Basis Points Red Blend is the big brother of Market Vineyards' Derivative Red Blend. I felt that the Derivative was a tiny bit overpriced but you wouldn't be all that offended spending $20 on it, and I gave it a 3 out of 5 in price vs quality for Satisfying. The performance of the Market Vineyards wines I've reviewed since then tells me that big brother red blend is going to be much better than little brother red blend.

The 2012 Basis Points Red Blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon (40% Shaw Vineyards Blk 9, 20% Shaw Vineyards Blk 8), 20% Merlot from Hightower Vineyards, and 20% Cabernet Franc from Scooteney Flats Vineyard. 122 cases were produced and it has an ABV of 14.9%.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Wine Review: Market Vineyards Merval Malbec 2012

November is Market Vineyards Month on TheWineStalker.net!

Market Vineyards Merval Malbec 2012

The entire month of November is dedicated to Market Vineyards! To learn more about this wonderful Washington State winery, please read my article A Brief History of Market Vineyards.

MALBEC! MALBEC EVERYWHERE! When you think of Malbec, of course you think of Argentina. The grape actually originates from France, more specifically from Cahors where it makes the Black Wine of Cahors. Dude, I once watched a video where this guy takes Malbec from Cahors, uses it to fill a jug half way, and fills the rest with water. The pigment didn't change. It remained dark and didn't look even a bit watered down. Insanity. Malbec from Cahors tastes amazing as well. Malbec is also one of the acceptable varieties for Bordeaux, although one of the least popular used for the blends.

Anyways, Malbec found its biggest love and commercial success with Argentina. Everything comes together for the variety there. The soil, the temperature and, most importantly, the altitude. But the biggest thing we've learned from Argentina is how to treat the variety right. So now you're seeing it taken seriously in the United States and used in California (especially Napa, it seems) and Washington for damn good fine wine. It's not just a jug wine, box wine or cheap blender in the USA anymore.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Wine Review: Market Vineyards Dividend Syrah 2013

November is Market Vineyards Month on TheWineStalker.net!

Market Vineyards Dividend Syrah 2013

The entire month of November is dedicated to Market Vineyards! To learn more about this wonderful Washington State winery, please read my article A Brief History of Market Vineyards.

Oh, Washington State Syrah. You are one of the hidden gems of the wine world. At least in my opinion. I already boldly told you last month that I feel Washington State makes the best Merlot in the world, and I'll tell you right now that I feel their Syrah is among the best as well. I can hear you screaming at your monitor saying "That's bullshit, Joey! What about Côte-Rôtie? Hermitage? Saint-Joseph? You're an idiot!"

Even though my taste in wine levitates to the old world, I'm really not that big on the Syrah's of northern Rhone in general. My enjoyment is especially resistant with the addition of Viognier. It's just... not something I would willingly drink for pleasure. And yes, I am an idiot. I won't argue with you on that one.

This is Market Vineyards' Syrah from 2013, which they call Dividend, and I've heard some great things about it. It's 100% Syrah, all from Gamache Vineyards in Columbia Valley. 23 cases were produced. THAT'S ONLY 276 BOTTLES! And it has an ABV of 15.5%.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Wine Review: Market Vineyards Derivative Red Blend 2013

November is Market Vineyards Month on TheWineStalker.net!

Market Vineyards 2013 Derivative Red Blend

The entire month of November is dedicated to Market Vineyards! To learn more about this wonderful Washington State winery, please read my article A Brief History of Market Vineyards.

Although they source grapes from several other places within Columbia Valley, their focus is on the Red Mountain AVA. Red Mountain is red wine country; Market Vineyards is a red wine winery. And so we dive into eight reviews of red wines by Market Vineyards. They do actually make one white wine and I got that out of the way in my last review: Market Vineyards Liquidity 2014 White Blend. Now let's get our share of polyphenols, shall we?

The blend for the 2013 Derivative is 40% Cabernet Sauvignon from Gamache Vineyards, 40% Cabernet Franc (30% from Gamache Vineyards, 10% from Red Mountain Vineyards), and 20% Merlot from Gamache Vineyards. Only 242 cases were made and the final ABV is 14.4%.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Trying to reach the things that I can't see.

Am I Wrong - Nico & Vinz

That's just how I feel.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Wine Review: Market Vineyards Liquidity 2014 White Blend

November is Market Vineyards Month on TheWineStalker.net!

Market Vineyards Liquidity 2014 White Blend

The entire month of November is dedicated to Market Vineyards! To learn more about this wonderful Washington State winery, please read my article A Brief History of Market Vineyards.

Because previously promised publications had priority, I have been patiently anticipating November for the opportunity to pillage the precious provisions Market Vineyards provided months ago. And they too awaited, happy to send me any information or research request that I had. From the time between when they first contacted me until now, I've found that these guys have the right idea when it comes to reaching out to the online wine community. I wouldn't be surprised if you start to see Market Vineyards all over your newsfeeds and timelines.

I just had an entire month dedicated to Merlot and Market Vineyards is overwhelmingly red, thus I had to take a break from reds to do a little white. So you'll notice that my Wine Pick of the Month is Scott Family Estate Chardonnay and my first MV review is also a white.

Liquidity is actually the ONLY white wine produced by Market Vineyards. After this it's all red until December! So if you're strictly a white drinker then soak this one in.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Brief History of Market Vineyards

Market Vineyards

What were you doing in 2008? It's hard to believe it's already been eight years, right? I was 28 years old and on my fourth year of employment with Luke's of Cape Cod, but I finally found my love for wine in February of that year. Better late than never, so they say. From there I proceeded to obsessively educate myself on the beverage.

Market Vineyards, Bob Bertsch and Matt Reisenweber
BOB BERTSCH AND
MATT REISENWEBER
Meanwhile in 2008, on the other side of the world, three guys were dining on the rooftop of the Beijing Hotel doing the normal boring social interaction stuff (ew, gross) until they were served a bad bottle of wine (ew, grosser). This brought up the discussion of how nice it would be to take this problem into their own hands and make great wine themselves. This idea in the brains of these three men is a bit different than most of us who jokingly say this, because they actually followed through with it and made it happen.

Matt Reisenweber, Daniel Schulte, and Steve Anderson went home to the states, brought Bob Bertsch in on it, and got the ball rolling with four owners. Schulte and Anderson were from Kansas City but this new winery would be planting its rootstock in Washington, the home state of Riesenweber and Bertsch.

Their new adventure needed a name and, because of their mutual backgrounds in the financial market, they decided on Market Vineyards. Their new adventure also needed a winemaker. They searched around Washington looking for the winemaker that would best bring their vision into realization, and the man for the job was clearly Charlie Hoppes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November Wine Pick: Scott Family Estate Chardonnay 2014

This WINE PICK of the month was written for the Luke's of Cape Cod website.


Scott Family Estate Chardonnay 2014

Scott Family Estate is produced by Rutherford Wine Company. These guys are a family run winery that go back three generations and are extremely dedicated to sustainable farming. The portfolio of wines that they've made for themselves give focus to the strengths of different California appellations, and Scott is their offering from Arroyo Seco / Monterey.

I'm really not sure how I haven't made their Chardonnay my Wine Pick before. It's been among my top suggested Chardonnays for the past three vintages or so, and it's my own personal favorite Chardonnay... other than that $50 Grgich.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Wine Review: Benziger Sonoma County Merlot 2013

October is International Merlot Month thanks to MerlotMe.com!

Benziger Sonoma County Merlot 2013

This is the final review of International Merlot Month and I'm gonna start it off with a spoiler: this is a review for one of my most favorite wines ever. The combination of being both affordable and phenomenal make Benziger Merlot possibly my top suggested wine as wine manager of the Dennisport Lukes of Cape Cod. So now that you know how this ends, let's get to the other stuff.

Benziger is certified sustainable and uses biodynamic farming in their vineyards. Basically, biodynamic creates its own fully functioning ecosystem within the vineyard. They bring in specific flowers that attract the good bugs that fight off the bad bugs, thus eliminating the use of pesticides. They make their own fertilizer, use grazing animals to trim the soil cover crops, and etc. There's some really weird stuff that comes with biodynamic farming too, such as burying manure inside a cow horn, and having root days, fruit days, leaf days, and flower days dictate how, when, or if you're going to do certain things.

I'll never forget what Chris Benziger told me when I met him: "It sounds crazy. I still think it's crazy. But all I care about is that it works and it does." He would know. The winery took an enormous gamble in the 1990's when they shut down operations for the better part of a decade to convert their vineyards over to biodynamic, and since then their wines have been far better than they've ever been.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

That face you make...

That face you make when somebody will only buy a specific vintage of Smoking Loon.

... when somebody will only buy a specific vintage of Smoking Loon.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Wine Review: Santa Rita 120 Merlot 2015

October is International Merlot Month thanks to MerlotMe.com!

Santa Rita 120 Merlot 2015

Hey there, everybody! This review will be quick and easy (something I'm sure you like reading but I don't enjoy writing). Due to unexpected events I had to rush this post faster than the CW Barry Allen can fuck up a timeline so I'm just going to get right into it!
 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wine Review: Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2013

October is International Merlot Month thanks to MerlotMe.com!

Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot 2013

BOOM. The big daddy of the month is here for International Merlot Month. It was the first to be delivered too and I squealed like a six year old girl opening a package of Shopkins when it arrived. Now the day has come to finally consume the heavenly nectar within.

Should I even do a thing about the winery? I mean, it's flipperin' Duckhorn. But I suppose I should, right? Ugh. Alright. I'll delay the drinking. Duckhorn was founded in 1976 by Dan and Margaret Duckhorn and now they're well respected and legendary and I just want to drink this wine goddamnit, okay?

The 2013 Napa Valley Merlot is composed of 88% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. 100% of it was aged for 15 months in French oak, 25% and 75% neutral. The ABV is 14.5% and blah blah blah.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"In every sip taken in the present, we drink in the past"

Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible

"For eight thousand years, vines clutching the earth have thrust themselves upward towards the sun and given us juicy berries, and ultimately wine. In every sip taken in the present, we drink in the past - the moment in time when those berries were picked; a moment gone but  recaptured - and so vivid that our bond with nature is welded deep." - Karen MacNeil, The Wine Bible

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wine Review: Peju Napa Valley Merlot 2013

October is International Merlot Month thanks to MerlotMe.com!

Peju Napa Valley Merlot 2013

Peju. Just over-hearing the name being spoken perks your ears up and causes some eavesdropping to hear more. Family owned and operated since 1983, Peju is an outstanding Napa Valley winery with a cult following and a fantastic name.

Both organic and sustainable farming are used to make this wine. Just a little sidetrack: With the recent development that we've passed an irreversible carbon milestone in our atmosphere, please begin to give sustainable farming more weight than organic. Organic's health benefits have been proven nonexistent. It also doesn't take emissions into account while sustainable does. Sustainable feeds more people. And instead of using diesel tractors to uproot weeds, it can use Roundup which is entirely safe because of the nature of its active ingredient. I'm going to get more into this in the beginning of the new year. It's a complicated subject so please, until then, look into it yourself.

Peju's 2013 Merlot is from their Rutherford Estate Vineyard (organic) and their Persephone Vineyard (sustainable). It's composed of 99% Merlot and 1% Malbec. It saw 18 months in oak, 60% of it French and 40% of it American, and has a final ABV of 14.5%.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wine Review: Bridge Lane White Merlot 2015

October is International Merlot Month thanks to MerlotMe.com!


"And now for something completely different." - Monty Python

The Bridge Lane label is produced by my friends from Long Island, New York: Lieb Cellars. If you'd like to learn more about them please read my article A Brief History of Lieb Cellars. They're great people with a great story and they make awesome wine.

Last year I had the pleasure of drinking this wine and was surprised at, not only how different it was than expected, but by how much I loved it. So, when October on the blog became dedicated to Merlot in honor of International Merlot Month (thanks to MerlotMe.com), I immediately thought of installing it as an addition to the line-up. A whole month dedicated to one varietal? That's a lot of Merlot. I had to place something a little different into the mix, and this was the obvious solution.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wine Review: Northstar Columbia Valley Merlot 2012

October is International Merlot Month thanks to MerlotMe.com!

NorthStar Columbia Valley Merlot 2012

I don't care what anybody says about Bordeaux or Napa or Chile; Washington State does the best Merlot in the world. You can quote me on that. And so for International Merlot Month we stay in the northwestern United States but head up to Washington's Columbia Valley with Northstar.

Northstar falls under the Ste. Michelle umbrella, and it was created for the sole purpose of making world class Merlot. They do make other varietals such as Cabernet and even Malbec, but their attention is focused on their flagship Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Merlots, as well as Merlot based blends.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Wine Review: Cliff Creek Cellars Merlot 2012

October is International Merlot Month thanks to MerlotMe.com!

Cliff Creek Cellars Merlot 2012

This right here is the Merlot that I'm most exited about tasting this entire International Merlot Month. Why? Take a look at where it's from. After two California Merlots in a row we head up to the northwestern United States in Southern Oregon.

"OREGON?" you may be saying, "Isn't that Pinot Noir country???" Well, yes. It kind of is. They make Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay so goddamn well that those tend to be the only wines you see from them and you would think that's all that they do. By Oregon state law if a wine wants to be labeled as a varietal it has to be 90% of that varietal (most of America is 75%) but if it's Cabernet Sauvignon then it has to be 100%. See? Proof right there that they make quality Cabernet Sauvignon.

I love Merlot and I love Oregon. I took a cross-country trip with my father and my grandfather when I was ten years old, I saw almost every contiguous state, and the one that captured my heart and that I remember the most was Oregon. The beach and the mist in the morning? Pffft. Foggedaboudit. The people and the culture and the food? Just as awesome. I felt right at home and  believed that I might live there some day.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Wine Review: Cannonball Sonoma County Merlot 2014

October is International Merlot Month thanks to MerlotMe.com!

Cannonball Sonoma County Merlot 2014

Cannonball is one of those brands that I see all over the place but I'm not too familiar with because I've just never stopped to give it any attention. Now's a good a time as any to get acquainted, right?

Cannonball was started in 2006 with the intention of becoming king of the under $20 Cabernet. With the success of that Cab they've expanded their portfolio. Their winemaker is Dennis Hill, formerly of Blackstone.

The 2014 Merlot is 91% Merlot with Petite Sirah and Syrah as the remaining 9%. The fruit mainly comes from their Adam and Eve vineyard located in the Northern Russian River Valley, and then some other spots in Sonoma Valley. It was cold soaked before fermentation, saw no oak, and has an ABV of 13.8%.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Wine Review: Liberty School Central Coast Merlot 2014


Wine Review: Liberty School Central Coast Merlot 2014

This month, as it stands right now, I'll be reviewing a total of TWELVE Merlots for International Merlot Month. That's three reviews of Merlot a week! And because I'm writing a very long, heavy, research intensive and special three-part series for December leading into Christmas, I'm gonna try to get right to the point this month.

Last year when Liberty School's Merlot was brought around for a taste by the sales rep I was quite surprised. It was of perfect quality for a Merlot at its price point and ridiculously textbook in varietal correctness, so that's why I'm making it the first Merlot review this month after my monthly wine pick. It's a prime example of what quality California Merlot is all about.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Summer: When it's finally over.


When you don't have to stock the rosé section every five seconds... IT'S FINALLY OVER. #RetailProblems

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October Wine Pick: Truro Vineyards Merlot 2014

This WINE PICK of the month was written for the Luke's of Cape Cod website.

Truro Vineyards Merlot 2014

October is International Merlot Month and #MerlotMe blows up on social media. As a lover and devout supporter of "the little blackbird" how could I not select one for my wine pick? I'm even going local by making it a Merlot from Cape Cod!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Wine Review: Tinto Rey 2014 Super Tinto Red Blend


Matchbook Wine Company is a winery that I consider a friend of the blog. I've reviewed many of their wines and even dedicated a whole month to them in November of 2015. If you'd like to read more about them then check out my article A Brief History of Matchbook Wine Company.

Tinto Rey is their new brand that focuses on Spanish varietals and Spanish style wines. If you know about Matchbook or read that article than you know that they're based out of Dunnigan Hills, California, and obsessed with Spanish wine anyways so this is nothing strange from them. I already reviewed the 2015 Verdejo and this is their 2014 Super Tinto Red Blend. I freakin' love the label. Dueling Spaniards stabbing each other after hanging a dude is the best time ever.

The Super Tinto is 52% Tinta de Toro Tempranillo, 21% Tannat, 17% Petit Verdot and 10% Graciano. It was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel and saw aging in French and American barrels for 16 months. Only the best juice that came out was used for the Super Tinto; enough to make 750 cases. It has a 13.9% ABV.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Wine & Wine Product Review: Tinto Rey 2015 Verdejo & The Wine Hook

Tinto Rey 2015 Verdejo

Matchbook Wine Company is a winery that I consider a friend of the blog. I've reviewed many of their wines and even dedicated a whole month to them in November of 2015. If you'd like to read more about them then check out my article A Brief History of Matchbook Wine Company.

Tinto Rey is their new brand that focuses on Spanish varietals and Spanish style wines. If you know about Matchbook or read that article than you know that they're based out of Dunnigan Hills, California, and obsessed with Spanish wine anyways so this is nothing strange from them.  This is a review of their 2015 Verdejo and I'm also reviewing their 2014 Super Tinto Red Blend separately. I freakin' love the label. Dueling Spaniards stabbing each other after hanging a dude is the best time ever.

While I'm reviewing this wine I'm using The Wine Hook to hold my glass. We'll see how that goes. It's a clip that you attach to your chair so you can use an actual wine glass at, for example, the beach. It goes on beach chairs and patio chairs and all sorts of different kinds of chairs but apparently not on my desk chair. So I've got it clipped to my desk.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Wine Reviews: The Best of Summer 2016!

It's the first day of fall and the first time I'll be wrapping up a season with a "Best Of"! A family member presented me with the idea and I love it. Thanks, Ryan!

So here are top five wines that I reviewed this summer, from June 20th to September 21st. Enjoy!

#5. Amity Vineyards Willamette Valley 2015 White Pinot Noir

Amity Vineyards Willamette Valley 2015 White Pinot NoirRegion: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Review Release: July 1st, 2016 (Wine Pick of the Month)


The color of the 2015 White Pinot Noir is a light copper yellow. The nose and palate are bright and lively with fresh lemon juice, cantaloupe, tart red berries, cooked pineapple and white flowers. It's full bodied with an absurdly high level of acidity that leaves your mouth salivating on the finish, begging for food.

The word amity means friendship. This wine is too cool to keep to yourself, so explore it with friends. Pair with fried fish, stuffed quahogs, or nachos.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $25
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#4. Lieb Cellars Reserve 2011 Blanc de Blancs

Lieb Cellars Reserve 2011 Blanc de BlancsRegion: North Fork, Long Island, New York
Review Release: July 10th, 2016

When I really love a wine you'll often see me talk about character. That's because I feel like character is a big part of what makes a delicious wine so good. Character separates a wine from its competition. It makes that wine live forever in your memories. It makes you seek a certain wine out; not settle for one from the same grape or region.

This sparkling Pinot Blanc from Long Island has a character all of its own. I would drop $30 on this bottle in a heartbeat and I think you should too. If only to experience its character just once.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $30
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#3. Bessa Valley Winery 2006 Enira Reserva

Bessa Valley Winery 2006 EniraRegion: Thracian Valley, Bulgaria
Review Release: August 25, 2016

The most aggressive characteristics of this wine, in aroma and flavor, at this point in its life is raisinated fruits, licorice and menthol. There's also juicy tomato, the inside of an acoustic guitar, and fine black table pepper. It has sweet tannins and a creamy full body, but it's so silky smooth that it can feel light as a feather. I kept taking sips just to feel it. On the finish there's menthol, it gains a tart cherry flavor and the tannins turn up the heat drastically.

Sweet on the nose, elegant on the palate, strong on the finish. Seriously, yo. This is some goddamn impressive vino. Hands down the best I've had from Bulgaria yet.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $40
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#2. Garage Winery A.R. Hammond Rheingau Trocken Riesling 2013

Hammond Rheingau Riesling 2013Region: Rheingau, Germany
Review Release: September 18th, 2016

That petrol. That petrol on that nose. Doesn't that make you wanna smack yo momma? That's exactly what it does for me. I freakin' love it. There's also a slatey minerality and fruit aromas of apricots and white peaches.

In the mouth it's light and zesty and super dry. Super dry at 11.5% ABV? Yes. And here's the most important thing... it still tastes like a Riesling. Listen, I love Rieslings from dry to sweet. An enormous pet peeve of mine is when an incredibly dry Riesling is too stoney with barely any fruit so it doesn't taste like a Riesling. That happens a lot when you get up to 13% ABV and it greatly upsets me. But this baby is dry as a bone and it's still obviously a Riesling. The aromas of apricots and white peach carry over to the palate with petrol as an undertone, and it finishes with tart apples.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $15
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#1. Lieb Cellars Reserve 2014 Merlot

Region: North Fork, Long Island, New York
Review Release: July 17th, 2016

The flavors are black. Black cherry, blackberry, black olive and black tea. It finishes with tongue and teeth void of saliva from the tannin, the corners of your mouth gushing with saliva from the acidity, and flavors of black cherry and black tea.

Remember "my dad could beat up your dad" from when you were a kid? My $24 Merlot will beat up your $24 Merlot. You have got to be kidding me with that price. This is one of the best deals in Merlot that I have come across yet. Lieb Cellars just curbstomped your dad with this wine.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $24
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

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