Thursday, June 29, 2017

Wine Review: Lieb Cellars Reserve Petit Verdot 2014


Lieb Cellars is back yet again on the blog for Round 3! To read all the reviews I've done on this Long Island winery, as well as their great story, check out A Brief History of Lieb Cellars - On the North Fork of Long Island, New York!

This go around I'll be tackling two Bridge Lane label items, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and 2016 Rosé, and two Lieb Cellar label items, 2015 Reserve Pinot Blanc and 2014 Reserve Petit Verdot.

Do you even Petit Verdot, bro? I can't believe I just said that but I just had to. Petit Verdot is the new Petite Sirah: everybody loves it and they just don't know that they do. So when Lieb and I decided that it was time to rekindle passions of lust, I had to give their PV a try. It's not just the magical blender anymore. It's rising as a varietal to be reckoned with. This one was hand harvested, aged in Hungarian oak for 10 months, and has an ABV of 13.2%.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Wine Review: Lieb Cellars Reserve Pinot Blanc 2015


Lieb Cellars is back yet again on the blog for Round 3! To read all the reviews I've done on this Long Island winery, as well as their great story, check out A Brief History of Lieb Cellars - On the North Fork of Long Island, New York!

This go around I'll be tackling two Bridge Lane label items, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and 2016 Rosé, and two Lieb Cellar label items, 2015 Reserve Pinot Blanc and 2014 Reserve Petit Verdot.

Lieb Cellars' Pinot Blanc comes from vines planted in 1982 (ten years before the winery was founded) and they're also the oldest vines on the North Fork. Not only that, but Lieb has the most plantings of Pinot Blanc in the entire United States. When the vines were planted they were believed to be Chardonnay but, when informed by its future winemaker (Russell Hearn) that it was Pinot Blanc instead, the land went up for sale literally the next day. The buyer was Marc Lieb. He made that Pinot Blanc his flagship and built a success around it. I don't know how he did it, honestly. Every time I try to sell somebody a Pinot Blanc I get a sour look and have to explain that it's not Pinot Grigio.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wine Review: Bridge Lane Rosé 2016

Bridge Lane Rosé 2016

Lieb Cellars is back yet again on the blog for Round 3! To read all the reviews I've done on this Long Island winery, as well as their great story, check out A Brief History of Lieb Cellars - On the North Fork of Long Island, New York!

This go around I'll be tackling two Bridge Lane label items, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and 2016 Rosé, and two Lieb Cellar label items, 2015 Reserve Pinot Blanc and 2014 Reserve Petit Verdot.

Bridge Lane is Lieb's entry level label, with the place of origin listed as New York State rather then Long Island. Their 2016 Rosé is Cabernet Franc based. You know I love me some Cab Franc so I'm looking forward to this! It has an 11.9% ABV and 0% residual sugar.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wine Reviews: Best of Spring 2017

Today is the last day of spring and tomorrow brings summer! So here are the top five wines that I reviewed between March 20th and June 20th!

May being 90+ Cellars Month resulted in a 90+ Cellars domination on this list, and the only red on the list is from Texas!

#5. THP Montepulciano 2014 by Llano Estacado

Region: High Plains, Texas
Review Release: April 23rd, 2017

The color of the wine is a dark garnet. There's aromas of dried cherries, jammy plums, sweet tobacco, dried pottery clay and orange peel. It's medium bodied with sweet tannin and perky acidity. The palate shows flavors of blackberries, black cherries, tobacco and dried herbs. The tannin stiffens up a bit on the finish, and there's the leftover taste of blackberries and tobacco.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $20
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


Region: Marlborough, New Zealand
Review Release: May 14th, 2017

The color of the wine is pale yellow with a silvery shine. On the nose there's Tic-Tac shell, grapefruit, green pepper, lemon peel and celery. It's firmly structured within its medium body, yet still crispy with a sharp acidity. On the palate there's flavors of lime, grapefruit and pear. With the finish you're left with the saliva in your mouth stripped away as if it were a highly tannic red, and there's flavors of lime and pear.


QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $12
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)



Region: Prosecco, Veneto, Italy
Review Release: May 1st, 2017 (Wine Pick of the Month)

A dry stone minerality overlays the juicy peaches and ginger of the wine's nose. In the mouth it's light and crisp, yet soft and fluffy when swished into a foam. There's intense green apple all over the palate, with a tiny squeeze of lemon and lime. It's just so refreshing and delicious that's it's ridiculous. You simply must try it.


QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $12
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)



Region: Sancerre, Loire Valley, France
Review Release: May 28th, 2017

The wine is a light lager yellow. The limestone in its marl soil shows through on the nose with chalky minerality. There's aromas of white flowers, lemon, and the juice collection from a fruit salad. In the mouth it's light bodied with high acidity, and has both a smooth body and a crispy bite. The palate shows flavors of lemon, grapefruit and cracked stone. It finishes super dry with grapefruit and cracked stone.

Goat cheese brie cheese on Saltine crackers would put me in heaven right now. This is an awesome, awesome Sancerre for $21. It beats the crap out of the more popular ones at that price range, and I'm giving it a perfect score.

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $21
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)



Region: Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley, California
Review Release: May 21st, 2017

The wine has a golden color. On the nose there's a touch of smokiness with aromas of apple, pineapple, butter, caramel and walnut. It's full bodied with a buttery mouthfeel but still has a sharp, piercing acidity. There's flavors of pineapple, vanilla, banana and ginger. It finishes with some heat, spicy ginger, and pineapple.

Dude. DUUUUUDE. This is stellar! 90+ Cellars knocked it out of the goddamn park with the purchase of this lot. If you bought it under the source label it would run you $22, which is a great deal in itself, but under the 90+ label it's $18. I indeed fell in love with this Chardonnay.


QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $18
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Book Review: Wine & War by Don and Petie Kladstrup

"To be a Frenchman means to fight for your country and its wine." - André Terrail
Wine & WarThe problem with an addictive quick read is that you're done with it that much faster because you couldn't put the damn thing down. Then you're sad when you've finished in just a few days. That's exactly what Wine & War will do to you. And because I really want you to read this quick read (248 pages), I'm making this review a quick read as well. I'll tell you some cool things to perk your interest and then dip out! Get the damn book!

Authors Don and Petie Kladstrup talked to survivors of the World War II Nazi occupation of France and put their stories together in this book. They all went through different experiences and hardships, but the one thing all of these people have in common was wine.

The Hugel's of Alsace, the Drouin's of Burgundy, the Taittinger's of Champagne, and many many more.

Despite the Germans believing that the French had the strongest army in the world, the leaders of France and its military were so scarred from the loss of young men that they experienced in the First World War that they decided on a deal to be occupied rather than go through that horror again. When the Germans rolled in, however, the wine people went to work.

They hid their most prized wines immediately, knowing that the Germans would take them and, more importantly, not appreciate them. They built walls in their cellars, closing in the wines behind them, and had their children collect spiders so they'd spin webs to make the wall look older. Dust from old carpets were collected to put on cheap bottles to make them appear rare.
"Generals rarely have the power to build, they more often have the power to destroy." - Pierre Taittinger to General Dietrich von Choltitz
The first thing that Nazi leader Hermann Goering did in Paris, right at the very beginning of occupation, was drive to a famous restaurant to drink a famous vintage, only to be told they were sold out. After checking their cellar, he found that they were telling the truth. Only they weren't telling the truth, and the vintage was hiding behind a wall only feet away.

Once the occupation was better organized, a system was put into place for winemakers to sell their wine to the Germans. The chapter on the Weinfuhrers, who negotiated with the winemakers, is probably my favorite.

And that's not all. Not by a long shot. Vineyards and houses were taken over by the Germans for their own uses. The famous Haut-Brion in Bordeaux was turned into a rifle range. One vineyard owner spread rat droppings all over her house so the Germans wouldn't take it; and it worked. Other families hid their Jewish friends. With copper being taken by the Nazi's, a young man turned his barn into a chemistry lab to try and create copper sulfate to apply to vineyards.

Their lives were rough, although easier in some places. Goering said that the French could live off of 1,200 calories a day. That's half the calories that you need to survive. For the elderly it was only 850 calories. France was literally starving. And those calories included the wine that had always been so important to the French.
"What helped a lot was the wine. As the food grew scarcer, we drank more and more of it. Occasionally on Saturday evenings, we would buy ten or twelve bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Hermitage, Mercurey, Moulin-à-Vent, Julienas, Chambertin, Bonnes Mares or Musigny and have an evening of drinking and singing." - Verian Fry
One of the greatest stories here is about a Prisoner of War concentration camp for French officers that blackmailed their Nazi captors into allowing them to have a wine dinner. The wine dinner turned into a two week celebration of the wines of France, leading up to everybody getting just a few ounces of wine at the main event dinner. That story in itself is worth picking this book up.

I could go on and on about all the great moments in the book but I'm going to stop right there before I even get to the liberation.

The Kladstrup's did an amazing job in telling these people's stories, and organizing them in a way to form one overall successive one. It's simply an amazing read. If you're any fan of wine, or if you're any fan of history, you absolutely must read Wine & War.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Wine Review: Bridge Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Bridge Lane Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Lieb Cellars is back yet again on the blog for Round 3! To read all the reviews I've done on this Long Island winery, as well as their great story, check out A Brief History of Lieb Cellars - On the North Fork of Long Island, New York!

This go around I'll be tackling two Bridge Lane label items, 2015 Sauvignon Blanc and 2016 Rosé; and two Lieb Cellar label items, 2015 Reserve Pinot Blanc and 2014 Reserve Petit Verdot.

Bridge Lane is Lieb's entry level label, with the place of origin listed as New York State rather then Long Island. With the 2016 vintage they've dropped their White Blend in favor of producing this here Sauvignon Blanc. Long Island seems to find its most success with Bordeaux varietals so it absolutely makes sense that this would happen. Their new Sauvignon Blanc sees no oak, is fermented until there is zero residual sugar, and it has an ABV of 12%.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Wine Review: Dane Cellars Justi Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012


This is the final of three wines I'll be reviewing for Dane Cellars. I started with their 2014 Justi Creek Vineyard Grenache, then moved on to their 2013 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel, and am now concluding with their 2012 Justi Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

I had the pleasure of having a phone conversation with Bart Hansen, the owner, founder and winemaker of Dane Cellars the same day that the Grenache review was published. It took awhile for us to make that call happen (a month or two) since a friggin' child decided to be born out of my wife and has completely taken over the house. If that's not enough, we have a kindergartner too. So, needless to say, the only thing that has been successfully scheduled the past few months are feedings and nap-times.

Bart Hansen, Dane Cellars
BART HANSEN
But Bart understood. He's been there before. And he's a really down-to-Earth guy that gets excited to talk about wine, even if it's not his own. I really like the guy and wanted to keep talking but there was an incident in the house and I had to run off and be daddy again.

Bart started as a vineyard worker and became a winemaker at Kenwood in 1986. He jumped over to Benziger in 1998, just when the winery had completed its conversion over to being fully biodynamic. There he was the lead winemaker for the Zins, and he learned a great deal about biodynamic and sustainable viticulture.

Yeah, Bart's been the daddy before. He even left Benziger Winery just to be a stay-at-home dad to his son Dane, whom Dane Cellars is named after. When he decided that he wanted to get back in the wine game, he also decided that he didn't want to do any of that vineyard work anymore. He just wanted to make the wine. So he called up his Sonoma vineyard connections and began buying grapes from his buddies, founding Dane Cellars in 2007.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Wine Review: Dane Cellars Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel 2013

Dane Cellars Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel 2013

This is the second of three wines I'll be reviewing for Dane Cellars. I started with their 2014 Justi Creek Vineyard Grenache, now I'm on their 2013 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel, and I'll be concluding with their 2012 Justi Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Founder and winemaker Bart Hansen contacted me himself to try his wines and write about them. Bart started off in the industry during harvest; trucking grapes from the vineyard down a hill, five tons at a time. In 1986 he started winemaking for Kenwood, and then hopped over to Benzinger in 1998. He founded Dane Cellars in 2007, named after his son.

Zin is a passion for Bart, and he was the lead winemaker for Benziger's Zinfandel during his time there. Before that, back in his Kenwood days when even White Zinfandel was being made from Old Vine Zinfandel, the red Zin's that were being made weren't those over-extracted, over-alcoholic candied-fruit bombs that we're seeing now. With this Zin, Bart wants to get back to the Zinfandel roots he remembers from '88-'89.  Los Chamizal Vineyard, where this particular wine is from, was planted 40 years ago and is grown by Peter Haywood.

Okay, Zinfandel. Here we are. Meeting again. Will we ever get along? I'm guessing the answer is no. There are Zins that I love but probably about 98% of the ones I've tasted I ask myself "eeew, why would I want a whole glass of that?"

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wine Review: Dane Cellars Justi Creek Vineyard Grenache 2014

Dane Cellars Sonoma Valley Grenache 2014

This is the first of three wines I'll be reviewing for Dane Cellars. I'm starting with their 2014 Justi Creek Vineyard Grenache, then their 2013 Los Chamizal Vineyard Zinfandel, and concluding with their 2012 Justi Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.

Founder and winemaker Bart Hansen contacted me himself to try his wines and write about them. It's cool. No pressure. Just the guy who actually makes this wine took the time to ask me if I would review it. Bart started off in the industry during harvest; trucking grapes from the vineyard down a hill, five tons at a time. In 1986 he started winemaking for Kenwood, and then hopped over to Benzinger in 1998. He founded Dane Cellars in 2007, named after his son.

One of the cashiers at the Dennisport Luke's of Cape Cod (my place of employment, where I am the Wine Manager) is completely obsessed with reptiles and amphibians. He has countless lizards, a few salamanders, and a snake. We call him the Lizard King. Anyways, I texted him a picture of this label with the caption "lizard wine". He responded by asking "Is it made from real lizards?", to which I replied "Of course." But sadly it is not made from real lizards. It's made from real Grenache, fermented in small open tanks, and has an ABV of 15%.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June Wine Pick: High Hook WIllamette Valley Pinot Blanc 2015

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


High Hook WIllamette Valley Pinot Blanc 2015


High Hook is a term used for the person who catches the biggest fish or the most fish. Oregon’s High Hook Wines was founded in 2008 by wine lovers wanting to make some money to support their fishing habit and raise money for various environmental and charitable donations. Their winemaking philosophy is focused around capturing the true character of the fruit with the subtle minerality and earth qualities of the soil.

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