Thursday, November 21, 2019

Wine Review: Bogle Phantom Chardonnay 2017


Bogle Vineyards gave me two bottles from their Phantom line to share with friends, family, or followers on social media. So I said "forget the friends and family, I'm reviewing them!" First it's the 2017 Chardonnay and then on Sunday it's the 2015 Red Blend!

Though the Bogle family has been farming in the Clarksburg region for six generations, their involvement in the wine business spans back 50 years. In addition to passing down a strong work ethic and dedication to quality, the success of Bogle over the years is rooted in the day-to-day involvement of the Bogle family. - Read more about the history of Bogle

2016 was the first vintage for the Phantom Chardonnay, but the red blend was created in 1999 around Patty Bogle’s dining room table as the family blended some of their finest vineyard offerings. The name "Phantom" seemed fitting as "Bogle" is the Scottish word for "ghost".

The 2017 Phantom Chardonnay is 100% Chardonnay from Clarksburg, California. It was aged sur lee for 10 months in 100% French Oak with lees stirring twice a month, and it has a 14.5% ABV.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Wine Quickie: The Federalist North Coast "Honest" Red Blend 2017


This is the second of five wines by The Federalist that I'm writing quickies about this month. The "Honest" Red Blend is from the North Coast appellation of California and it's 46.4% Merlot, 24% Zinfandel, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 7.6% Malbec. It saw 15% in 35% new oak. Hey, and I'm liking it! It's dark purple in color with black cherries, blueberries, licorice, and hot cinnamon. Medium bodied with soft dusty tannin and an acidity that brightens the fruit on the finish into strawberries and raspberries. I'm being honest here (see what I did there?), this is a great deal for a $20 red blend!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Wine Review: Terlato Pinot Grigio 2018


From a retail store in Chicago in 1938, the Terlato family has built a storied place in the wine world through a unique vision of quality. They bring the same passion to Terlato Vineyards, where the winemaking philosophy is based upon a commitment to world-class viticulture and brilliant winemakers, and a belief in the beauty and power of great wine. When Tony and his sons, Bill and John, became winery owners and vintners in 1996, they started with one goal in mind: excellence. The concept was to produce quality wines that were as important as those the Terlato family imported and marketed during the last half century.

These guys have produced one of my favorite Pinot Grigios for years now, so there's no surprise on how this review ends. It's always good.

Along with the samples for this review I received two tall-ass tulip shaped Riedel glasses branded on the base with the Terlato logo. I can't express how much I appreciate this. Years ago I bought a nice little set of standard red wine Riedel glasses and, well, crap happens. You clank the rim on the sink faucet or the dog jumps down from the couch and whacks his tail on your glass knocking it over. Long story short, I was down to my last Riedel glass. These ones are obviously their design for Pinot Grigio but whatever; they're gorgeous. So thank you, Terlato. It won't give you extra points in this review because you won't need it, but I still have to praise the product because it deserves it.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Wine Quickie: The Federalist Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon 2016


I've got five bottles of Federalist for quickies this second half of the month! FIVE! One Cabernet, one Red Blend, and three Zinfandels. The Lodi Cabernet is 93% Cabernet, 5% Zinfandel (oh no), and the remaining 2% is Petite Sirah, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. It's garnet in color with a medium body, sweet tannins, and a bright acidity. There's aromas and flavors of black cherries, plums, cedar, cinnamon, and it has this syrupy molasses thing going on that I'm really not a fan of. This is not the Cabernet I'm looking for.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Winding Things Down

After almost six years of relentless blogging, it's time to wind things down. I've spent a lot of time writing articles and reviews, redesigning, scheduling and planning, and have toiled away who knows how many entire nights focused solely on this website.

And, simply, I want to take my nights back. Movies and tv shows with my lady, playing video games in the dark, reading comics and science books, and most importantly: taking care of actual responsibilities. You can't fold laundry or clean the house while you're reviewing wine or writing an article or programming almost every single night.

After December or January I will not be rushing to meet a deadline that I set myself, there will be no more meticulous planning of each month for consistent published content, no more YouTube videos (I hate shooting those and I'm stopping those now), no more long-reads (unless I randomly get inspired), no more spending like 20 minutes a post scheduling on Hootsuite, no more doing all sorts of ridiculous things to keep it all rolling.

I will still be accepting samples for wines to review, but not nearly as many as I have, and they'll be more like the “quickies” I've been writing lately (which people really seem to enjoy more than my full reviews). And Wine Pick of the Month? Sure! Let's keep that up!

I will still be very much active on the social media accounts posting memes, talking about wine and news, and (as I said) still doing quick wine reviews, so TheWineStalker will still be around. But I will not be making the actual website a priority in my life anymore. I cannot continue to treat it like another job.

I thank you for following me through these six years that have allowed me to learn so much and taste so many great wines, and I hope you continue to pop in and see what's going on even if it won't be as often.

Cheers, guys!


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Wine Review: Castello di Albola Chianti Classico Riserva 2014


The Castello di Albola Estate is situated in Radda at the heart of the Chianti Classico DOCG appellation, where the legacy of grape cultivation dates back to the time of the Etruscans. The Acciaiuoli family commissioned the estate to plant its lofty vineyard in Chianti Classico in the 15th century as a symbol of their high status. Over the centuries, many noble Tuscan families have owned the property, and the estate has earned various accolades for its wines. In 1979, the Zonin family acquired Castello di Albola promising to uphold the estate’s excellence for future generations. The wines produced in Castello di Albola have earned the iconic “Gallo Nero” symbol from the Chianti Classico Wine Consortium, which guarantees the highest standards in winemaking.

The 2014 Chianti Classico Riserva is 95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo. The grapes are hand harvested, and the must is placed in horizontal vinification tanks for three weeks until malolactic fermentation is complete. It spends 15 months in oak. 10% is aged in Allier oak barriques, and 90% is aged in traditional Slavonian oak barrels. Then it spends another year in stainless steel tanks before seeing three months of bottle aging. It has a 13.5% ABV.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Wine Quickie: Alois Lageder Terra Alpina Pinot Bianco 2018


Last week I really liked the Terra Alpina Pinot Grigio and it turns out that their Pinot Bianco is another winner! It's yellow in color with pears, cantaloupe, lemon, graham cracker, and white flowers. On the midpalate it's weighty with a little tiny bit of oiliness to its mouthfeel and a tart acidity. Yum! This right here is a damn good Pinot Bianco for $16.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Wine Review: Two Hands Sexy Beast Cabernet Sauvignon 2018


The idea for Two Hands was born in September 1999 when founders Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz sat at a friend’s engagement party and decided it was time to make their own wine and market it on the world stage. The original aim was, and still is, to make the best possible Shiraz-based wines from prized growing regions throughout Australia.  With so much Australian wine being sold around the globe under multi-region labels in a formulaic style, the intention was to break the mould and showcase the diversity of Australian Shiraz by highlighting regional and vineyard characteristics by allowing the fruit to be the primary feature of the wines.

I've got three reviews for Two Hands this week and it all started with Angels' Share Shiraz 2018, then I reviewed Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2018, and now I'm finishing with Sexy Beast Cabernet Sauvignon 2018.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Saké Quickie: Tozai Living Jewel Junmai


This was the last bottle of this saké on the shelf of a liquor store I was shopping in a few months ago, and I had to get it because it was bottled in November of 2017. Normally you want your saké to be younger than that because they're better fresh, but I had to know how it was holding up. $10 out of my bank account later and I was bringing it home. So now it's November of 2019. This saké has been sitting around for two years and who knows how long it was on that shelf. But you know what? It's not bad. The fruits of melon and pears are present but pulled back for more of a rice flavor to take over but I'm not complaining. And the savory finish is still going strong. Also, it's pairing pretty damn good with these crackers and spreadable cranberry rolled cheese. I'm happy with the purchase, and that's all that you can ask for.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Wine Review: Two Hands Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2018


The idea for Two Hands was born in September 1999 when founders Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz sat at a friend’s engagement party and decided it was time to make their own wine and market it on the world stage. The original aim was, and still is, to make the best possible Shiraz-based wines from prized growing regions throughout Australia.  With so much Australian wine being sold around the globe under multi-region labels in a formulaic style, the intention was to break the mould and showcase the diversity of Australian Shiraz by highlighting regional and vineyard characteristics by allowing the fruit to be the primary feature of the wines.

I've got three reviews for Two Hands this week and it all started with Angels' Share Shiraz 2018, now I'm reviewing Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2018, and then I'll be finishing with Sexy Beast Cabernet Sauvignon 2018.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Wine Quickie: Alois Lageder Terra Alpina Pinot Grigio 2018

Terra Alpina Pinot Grigio 2018

Well, this was a pleasant surprise! I was expecting a bottle of lemon water but I ended up really enjoying this Pinot Grigio, and the bride liked it even more than I did. It's straw yellow in color with white flowers, green apples, pears, and ginger. Medium bodied with a silky mouthfeel for a Pinot Grigio and a nicely balanced acidity. I'm adding this one to my favorite Pinot Grigios under $20 (it'll cost you $16) and that list is not very long!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Wine Review: Two Hands Angels' Share Shiraz 2018

Two Hands Angels' Share Shiraz 2018

The idea for Two Hands was born in September 1999 when founders Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz sat at a friend’s engagement party and decided it was time to make their own wine and market it on the world stage. The original aim was, and still is, to make the best possible Shiraz-based wines from prized growing regions throughout Australia.  With so much Australian wine being sold around the globe under multi-region labels in a formulaic style, the intention was to break the mould and showcase the diversity of Australian Shiraz by highlighting regional and vineyard characteristics by allowing the fruit to be the primary feature of the wines.

I've got three reviews for Two Hands this week and it all starts here with Angels' Share Shiraz 2018, then I'll be reviewing Gnarly Dudes Shiraz 2018, and finishing with Sexy Beast Cabernet Sauvignon 2018.

Friday, November 1, 2019

November Wine Pick: Yalumba "The Y Series" Viognier 2018


November is looking like another busy month! For full reviews I've got three wines by Two Hands out of Australia, a Chianti Classico, and two wines by Bogle's Phantom line. Scheduled for quickies are two white wines by Italy's Terra Alpina and five reds by California's Federalist. Oh, and I've got a raspberry mead for Thanksgiving! RASPBERRY MEAD! Pretty cool!

With a lot going on last month, including the passing of a friend and a stretch where I was not feeling well at all, I was unable to write an article or pull off Wine Bloggers Off-Topic for October but I'm going to try my damndest to get that out this month.

Yalumba is a winery in South Australia that is constantly winning awards for a wide variety of its wines, and my Wine Pick of the Month is the next vintage of their Viognier coming off of an impressive Wine Spectator Top 100 performance. What is Viognier? Well, it's a white varietal believed to have originated in Greece (although it's not there anymore) and barely hung on to survival in Rhone Valley, France, for most of its existence. Recently it's found a surge of success in Australia and California, and I swear it's absolutely the best wine with lobster.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Happy 100th birthday, Nino Franco Prosecco!


Tonight we're celebrating Nino Franco's 100th birthday and tomorrow we'll also be celebrating not just Halloween but my wife's 100th birthday! Alright... she's not quite 100 yet but that's what I tell my kids because it's HILARIOUS.

Nino Franco has been one of my favorite Proseccos for, oh jeez, about a decade or so and I've been so happy to have a great relationship with them on the blog for awhile now. But being asked to celebrate their birthday by sharing a birthday cake with other fans all across the globe? That is super awesome.

This cake was made by We Take the Cake and the ginger frosting goes amazingly well with the Prosecco. Like, perfectly well.

Nino Franco Rustico is 100% Glera from Valdibbiadenne with an 11% ABV. It's a bright straw yellow with notes of pears, apple crisp, and lemon peel. It's perfectly balanced in its acidity and sugar, and just one of the best deals in Prosecco that you can get for $20. These guys consistently produce a go-to of mine, and I'm very happy to say...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NINO FRANCO!!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Wine Review: Le Maciarine Montecucco Rosso 2015


So just a few days ago I admitted that I had to use a backup bottle from my own collection for my review because the bottle that I had scheduled to review was corked. Well, that corked bottle was Maciarine Montecucco Sangiovese 2015. And that says nothing about that wine because corked bottles just happen. It comes with the territory.

But what does say something is the haste that they showed, after I informed them of the faulty bottle, to replace it. In no time at all I saw their Le Maciarine Montecucco Rosso 2015 at my doorstep and I was quite surprised to see it arrive so quickly. These guys are invested in their brand and their online reputation. That's a pretty valuable asset to guys like myself... if the product is good.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Wine Review: Castello di Bossi Chianti Classico 2015


Well, it's time to use one of my backup bottles because the wine that was penciled in to be reviewed today was corked. Nothing but liquid moldy basement. So this bottle of Castello di Bossi CC 2015 was a gift from a sales rep and I've just been keeping it in my wine fridge for a day like this one! Thanks, Gary!

With a history dating back to the 9th century AD, the Castello di Bossi estate has evolved with the times. A dynamic team leads the estate and never shies from technological innovation, while remaining true to the terroir of Chianti. It is this balance that has been a key part of Marco Bacci’s vision as he has brought Castello di Bossi to the highest ranks of international wine. As the mastermind of Castello di Bossi, he oversees all operations, from beginning to end, with careful attention to detail. In the last 10 years, Marco has added two properties to his holdings: Renieri in Montalcino and Terre di Talamo in the Morellino di Scansano appellation.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Wine Review: Parmoleto Montecucco Sangiovese 2015

Parmoleto Montecucco Sangiovese 2015

Parmoleto was founded in Montecucco, Italy, in 1990. Their Montecucco Sangiovese is 100% Sangiovese from vineyards 200 meters above sea level with southwest exposure and a prevalence of clay in the soil. It spent 12 months in barriques and has an ABV of 14%.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Wine Quickie: Rutherford Hill Merlot 2015


Holy crap, now THIS is a Merlot for #MerlotMe October! It's one of those wines that I could just smell all night and be completely satisfied. There's black cherries, blackberries, mocha, anise, and cinnamon. On the palate it's full bodied with a wonderfully lush mouthfeel, soft tannin, and perfectly balanced acidity. It gets a bit boozy on the finish but the juicy black cherries and strong mocha are just as big and vocal. What an excellent Napa Merlot this is, and I think I'm in love tonight!

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Wine Review: Bodegas LAN Viña Lanciano Rioja Reserva 2012

Bodegas LAN Viña Lanciano Rioja Reserva 2012

Even though October is #MerlotMe month, and I have plenty of Merlot being featured as quickies, Spain dominates the full reviews on the website this month. I started with Cune Rioja Crianza 2016, then René Barbier's Com Tu 2016 and now I'm on Vińa Real Crianza 2016, and now I'm finishing up with Vińa Lanciano Rioja Reserva 2102.

Viña Lanciano is the architect of the original philosophy of our winery. Its name reflects the essence of a unique enclave and the river that embraces it in this magical place, with vestiges of ancient history, such as the remains of the Mantible bridge of Roman origin that stars in its label. Viña Lanciano condenses the philosophy and know-how of LAN since its inception.

That inception of LAN began in 1978 and the name stands for Logroño (part of La Rioja), Alava, and Navarra. The 2012 Viña Lanciano Rioja Reserva is 85% Tempranillo and 15% Mazuela.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Wine Quickie: Rutherford Hill Rosé of Merlot 2018


Oh yes, we have a rosé for #MerlotMe October! Out of Napa Valley, Rutherford Hill was founded in 1972 and was a pioneer in the development of Merlot in California. Their Rosé of Merlot is light and crisp while featuring strong white flowers and being loaded with peaches, citrus, and honey. It may be a bit overpriced but it's a damn good rosé! My wife liked it even more than I did and that earns it extra points.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Wine Review: CVNE Viña Real Rioja Crianza 2016


Even though October is #MerlotMe month, and I have plenty of Merlot being featured as quickies, Spain dominates the full reviews on the website this month. I started with Cune Rioja Crianza 2016, then René Barbier's Com Tu 2016, now I'm on Vińa Real Crianza 2016, and I'll finish up with Vińa Lanciano Rioja Reserva 2102.

The Viña Real brand was established in 1920 by CVNE (pronounced coo-nay) and also calls itself Cune, which was a label typo that stuck. Viña Real is out of the Rioja Alavesa region of Rioja, as opposed to CVNE's main label out of Rioja Alta. The name of the parent winery is actually an acronym that stands for Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España. It was founded in 1879 in Haro, Rioja and has been a leader in progressive winemaking and modernization since its inception.

The 2016 Crianza is 90% Tempranillo with the remaining 10% containing Garnacha and Mazeulo, all from the Rioja Alavesa region of Rioja. After being destemmed, the grapes are placed into stainless steel tanks to ferment as is for ten to twelve days. Once made into wine it's allowed malolactic fermentation in French oak barrels, then aged in American oak barrels for thirteen to fourteen months while being racked every five to six months. The wine has a final ABV of 13.5%.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Wine Quickie: Chelsea Goldschmidt Salmon's Leap Merlot 2017


I'm not gonna lie, I got a bit excited when I opened this package for #MerlotMe October! I've heard quite a bit about Chelsea Goldschmidt's Merlot and their Cabernet but I've never had the opportunity to try them. The 2017 Salmon's Leap Merlot is medium bodied with a lush and velvety mouthfeel and soft tannin. It's more about the red fruits than the black fruits that I was expecting, with big bold cherries, raspberries, mocha, and cinnamon. Then there's the lipsmacking and long lasting finish that has a little bit of a firey pepperiness to it. For $25 this Merlot is solid.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Wine Review: Com Tu 2016 by René Barbier



Even though October is #MerlotMe month, and I have plenty of Merlot being featured as quickies, Spain dominates the full reviews on the website this month. I started with Cune Rioja Crianza 2016, now I'm on to René Barbier's Com Tu 2016, then it'll be Vińa Real Crianza 2016, and Vińa Lanciano Rioja Reserva 2102.

Why Com tú? It is a mixture between the Barbier philosophy and mine. It is a homage to all people, it does not matter the color of their skin, their gender, whatever face or body they have, whether they have a disability or not, whether they are rich or they live hand to mouth, whether they have studies or not. The name of the wine has to remind you that we all are the same within. We all share basic needs, those make us human, those make us equal. In summary, I am like you (Com tú), you are like me.

- Anderson Barbier Meyer

Even though this is a new project for René Barbier, the Com Tu estate in Monstant, Spain, was founded in 1979 and the vines that produce this wine are 35 to 50 years old on red clay and limestone soil. It's 100% Garnatxa (AKA Garnacha and Grenache) and spent 18 months in a foudre, which is a large wooden cask. It's not often around these parts that you see a $55 bottle from this grape unless it's from Rhone Valley, so I'm very interested in seeing what's up!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Wine Quickie: Seven Hills Merlot 2016

Seven Hills Merlot 2016

Straight out of Walla Walla, this Merlot by Seven Hills is a shining example of why you need to get back on board with the varietal right now during #MerlotMe October and beyond. It's juicy and lush with beautifully concentrated fruit and soft tannin, making it both laid back with no worries yet elegantly sophisticated. It's basically Steely Dan in wine form. For descriptors there's a heavy dose of vanilla with blackberries, plums, graphite, and a little bit of licorice. It's friggin' awesome, guys. I truly believe that Washington State is producing the best Merlot in the world right now, and Seven Hills has been among my favorites for years. You have got to try it for yourself.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Wine Review: Cune Rioja Crianza 2016


Even though October is #MerlotMe month, and I have plenty of Merlot being featured as quickies, Spain dominates the full reviews on the website this month. Starting with Cune Rioja Crianza 2016, then René Barbier's Com Tu 2016, Vińa Real Crianza 2016, and Vińa Lanciano Rioja Reserva 2102.

This winery goes by both CVNE and Cune, Cune being a label typo that stuck. The name is pronounced coo-nay and it's actually an acronym that stands for Compañia Vinicola del Norte de España. It was founded in 1879 in Haro, Rioja and has been a leader in progressive winemaking and modernization since its inception.

The 2016 Rioja Crianza is 85% Tempranillo and 15% Garnacha. My tech sheet is entirely in Spanish and I failed Spanish every single year in school and I have no idea what the hell is going on right now. But the tipo de bitella is bordelesa! That's cool, right? RIGHT? Somebody please tell me that's all right!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Wine Quickie: Bonterra Merlot 2017


Looking to spend $12-$13 on a Merlot? This is where I would be taking you first, because Bonterra year in and year out makes a Merlot that is everything that you want out of the varietal. It's medium bodied and wonderfully lush in mouthfeel. And it's loaded with blackberries, blueberries, plums, cinnamon, vanilla, and cedar. It truly is a prime example of varietal correctness for Merlot and one of the best in its price range.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Wine Review: Kalfu Kuda Pinot Noir 2017


Kalfu means "blue" in the language of the Mapuche, the indigenous inhabitants of Chile, and for the Mapuche, Kalfu is synonymous with the magnificent Pacific Ocean that borders Chile's western coastline. A coastline blessed with an exceptional cool climate, constant refreshing breezes and early morning fogs that enforce a slow, steady ripening period for grapes, helping to create balanced, elegant wines. Kalfu is produced in Chile by Ventisquero, a winery dedicated to creating outstanding wines in a sustainable fashion.

I'm reviewing two wines by Kalfu this week. I already reviewed the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc on Thursday and now it's time for the 2017 Pinot Noir. For some reason Chilean Pinot Noir isn't really something you see much of around here, unless it's the lesser quality stuff. But this one isn't a $7.99 magnum or a 2 for $12 deal; it'll will run you $19 in a standard bottle.

This is 100% Pinot Noir from the granitic clay soil of the Las Terrazas Vineyard in Leyda Valley, Chile. The grapes were harvested early in the morning of March 20th to 23rd, were further selected and destemmed, underwent cold fermentation for 7-10 days, and saw fermentation in stainless steel tanks at 12°C and 15°C. Then 100% of the wine spent 12 months in French oak (10% new, 20% in second use, and 70% in third or fourth use). It has a 14% ABV.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Wine Quickie: Casillero del Diablo Reserva Merlot 2018


October is #MerlotMe month and today I've got the first of a bunch of Merlot quickies! Casillero del Diablo by Concha y Toro is always just solid and reliable for the price, and that's what you should expect out of this Merlot. It's medium bodied with a lush mouthfeel, moderate acidity, and soft tannin. There's nose and palate descriptors of plums, blackberries, a little bit of cherry, and toasty oak. It beats the hell out of some other $10 Merlots that I know, which shall remain nameless!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Wine Review: Kalfu Kuda Sauvignon Blanc 2018


Kalfu means "blue" in the language of the Mapuche, the indigenous inhabitants of Chile, and for the Mapuche, Kalfu is synonymous with the magnificent Pacific Ocean that borders Chile's western coastline. A coastline blessed with an exceptional cool climate, constant refreshing breezes and early morning fogs that enforce a slow, steady ripening period for grapes, helping to create balanced, elegant wines. Kalfu is produced in Chile by Ventisquero, a winery dedicated to creating outstanding wines in a sustainable fashion.

I'm reviewing two wines by Kalfu this week. Today it's the 2018 Sauvignon Blanc and then on Sunday it's the 2017 Pinot Noir. I feel like it's been awhile since I've reviewed a wine from Chile. Lots of French and Italian stuff lately, and a bunch of Spanish stuff coming up. You know what I don't do a lot of reviews for? South Africa and Australia. I need to see if that can be remedied.

Anyways, this is 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the granitic clay soil of the Las Terrazas Vineyard in Leyda Valley, Chile. The grapes were harvested early in the morning on March 19th, were further selected and destemmed, underwent cold fermentation for 12-14 hours, and saw fermentation in stainless steel tanks at 12°C and 15°C. Then it saw three months on the lees with plenty of gentle battonage. It has an ABV of 12.5%

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Larkmead Vineyards to plant viticultural research block in Napa Valley

Historic Family-Owned Estate Prepares for Future of Napa Valley Viticulture and Climate Change

Image result for larkmeadPRESS RELEASE - Napa, Calif. -  Larkmead Vineyards, celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2020, announced today the planting of a Research Block in preparation for the next 125 years of Napa Valley viticulture. The Research Block will be located at the Larkmead estate in Calistoga and will host several different grape varieties, clones, and rootstocks for trial purposes as Napa Valley’s climate changes.

Founded in 1895, Larkmead has a long history of research and clonal trials. Dr. Harold Olmo of UC Davis, one of the most influential viticulturists of the 20th century, established a clonal station at the Larkmead estate in the 1940s, where he developed the widely-planted Cabernet Sauvignon clone FPS 02. Commonly known as the “Oakville selection,” this clone was fundamental in establishing Cabernet Sauvignon as California’s signature grape variety. However, with the reality of onset climate change, Larkmead is preparing for the future of viticulture by dedicating three acres of their 110-acre estate to plant grape varieties that could be better suited to increasing average temperatures.

“As stewards of this incredible estate, it is our responsibility to protect the land and preserve its ability to produce quality wines for future generations,” said proprietor Cam Baker. “Today we continue to grow some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley, but we are also preparing for tomorrow by establishing a Research Block on the estate.” The Research Block is being spearheaded by lauded winemaker Dan Petroski and viticulturist Kelly Maher, and will be supervised by vineyard manager Nabor Camarena. The three-acre plot will be planted to multiple heritage varieties including Chenin Blanc, Petite Sirah and Zinfandel, alongside new world, Mediterranean varieties such as Aglianico, Tempranillo, and Touriga Nacional.

Image result for larkmeadWinemaker Dan Petroski commented, “Climate change is very real and already affects vintners around the world. The fact is, Cabernet Sauvignon may no longer be well-suited to Napa Valley’s climate in twenty to thirty years. As one of the world’s top wine regions, we need to research and plan for inevitable warmer temperatures. Napa Valley will continue to lead the way in research and sustainability and we are carrying on the legacy of experimentation and trial here at Larkmead.”

With its long and rich history, Larkmead has played a fundamental role in the transformation of Napa Valley into one of the preeminent wine regions in the world. First established in 1895, Larkmead Vineyards has been in the hands of the same family since 1948. Current proprietors Cam Baker and Kate Solari Baker have worked in recent years to fine-tune Larkmead’s viticultural and cellar techniques to most accurately express the vineyard’s voice. Winemaker Dan Petroski captures the nuance and complexity of the 110-acre site by vinifying small lots according to clonal selection and soil type. Petroski was named the San Francisco Chronicle’s Winemaker of the Year in 2017.

Image result for larkmeadThe Research Block is Larkmead’s next step in the estate’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and biodiversity. “In order to determine the best path forward for the future and for our unique climate and terroir, we need to continue to experiment,” said Viticulturist Kelly Maher. We’re planning on testing different varieties, rootstocks, cover crops, and more. The goal is to have more biodiversity and climate resilient vineyards while continuing to produce better and better wines.”

Beyond the Research Block, Larkmead will continue to lead the conversation surrounding climate change and its effects on the global wine industry through a series of events at the estate. Hosted by winemaker Dan Petroski, these “Salons at Larkmead” are discussion-based forums for fellow winemakers, industry leaders, and journalists shaping the narrative on climate change and wine.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

October Wine Pick: Benziger Merlot 2016


October is #MerlotMe month so expect a lot of Merlot all over the internet for the next 31 days. I'll be dropping Merlot quickies here and there but for full rated reviews I've got a two wines from Chile, three from Spain, and two from Monteccuco, Italy.

Wine Bloggers Off-Topic #4 will be coming out two weeks from today and the topic is your most favorite building in the world, so if you want to participate then contact me. What's my monthly article going to be about? Merlot, of course! If I had to pick one varietal to drink for the rest of my life it would be Merlot, and I can't wait to write all about it.

And because it's #MerlotMe month, my wine pick for October is my go-to suggestion every year for people looking for a Merlot in the most common price range for consumers: Benziger Merlot.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Wine Quickie: Clos Saint Sebastien Collioure Empreintes 2017


I was unable to get to this bottle during the Garnacha Day chat on Twitter with #WiningHourChat, but I'm finally getting to it now! Collioure is an AOC within the Banyuls region of southern France, and for red wines they focus on GSM blends (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre). This one is medium bodied with  a lush mouthfeel, balanced acidity, and soft tannin. It's very nice with notes of strawberries,  raspberries, dark chocolate, graphite, and a lovely savory finish. I'm glad that this was the odd-man out that night, because I am really enjoying it all on its own.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Wine Review: Giusti Rosalia Prosecco Extra Dry


If you see this bottle and instantly don't get Better Than Ezra's Rosealia stuck in your head, are you even old enough to drink? *checks the year it was released* GODAMNIT! 1995! That song came out 24 years ago? Almost a quarter of a century? Holy crap, I'm old.

This is 100% estate grown Glera over stony, alluvial soil on the bed of the Piave river in Nervesa della Battaglia. The yield is limited to 18 tons per hectare, bunches are stored for one night at a low temperature, and then pressed. Then it's fermented in stainless steel over 25 days before it's moved to the autoclaves for secondary fermentation. After that, it remains in contact with the lees for 6 weeks. When all is said and done, the final ABV is 11%.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Saké Quickie: Yokmi "The Afterlife" Junmai Ginjo


Yomi is Japanese for "World of Darkness", which is an afterlife in Japanese mythology. So Yomi "The Afterlife" is all about death and rebirth, and I'm totally down with that.. and the label art. Also, Junmai Ginjo in a can is another thing that I'm totally down for. You're getting peak freshness here, but please still pour it into a glass. This is probably the lightest bodied Junmai Ginjo that I've ever had, but it's packed full aromas and flavors of melon, wild red berries, and whipped cream. Still, there's not much unique character. It's worth the price of $6, but spending the extra $4 on a bottled Junmai Ginjo is the smart move.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Wine Review: Masottina Prosecco Treviso Brut


Do you know how popular Prosecco is right now? It's insanely popular. You can even get kegged Prosecco. PROSECCO IN A KEG. They're even having problems keeping up with demand. I swear I saw an article recently saying that the region was putting a halt on any new vineyards being planted for awhile so they can try and maintain some sort of quality instead of getting completely out of control, but I can't find that article now.

Prosecco apparently is also a very difficult word for the unsavvy consumer. It's been called everything from Proseccio to Proshacco to Prozacci, which are all understandable. I once had a guy come in asking for prosciutto. I had to break the news to him that we don't sell deli meats (OMG I wish we did) and he had to explain to me that it was a sparkling wine. Another gentleman came in asking for Progresso, which is a brand of canned soups, but by then I had adapted and realized that he was talking about Prosecco. I'm not making fun of these nice people, but it certainly is funny what they come up with when it comes to Prosecco in particular.

Today I'm reviewing a Brut Prosecco from the Prosecco di Treviso DOC made by Masottina. It's made of 100% Glera from clay soil, and it has an 11% ABV. I'm also eating a chocolate chip cookie with it. Don't give me no "it'll mess up your palate" crap! I was on the Keto diet for like six months and on loose-Keto for the last three. I can have a friggin chocolate chip cookie with some Prosecco if I want. LET'S DRINK SOME BUBBLY!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Wine Quickie: Château Minuty "M" Côtes de Provence Rosé 2018


This is a limited edition bottle designed by English artist and designer Ruby Taylor! I once was told that Minuty is the top selling Rosé in France, but it was also a sales rep who told me that so he could have been blowing smoke. It's a good one, though, and I would divert people away from those other top selling popular Rosé's to Minuty any day.  Made from 50% Grenache, 40% Cinsault and 10% Syrah. It's light but juicy and very floral with a nice minerality, grapefruit, raspberry, and strawberries. Minuty is fun and refreshing and absolutely crushable.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Best of Summer 2019!

It's the first day of Autumn so here are the Top 5 wines that I reviewed and rated this summer! Funnily, the top spot actually goes to the review that came out just two days into the season!

#5. Hazelfern Cellars Pinot Noir 2017

Region: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Review Release: June 30th, 2019


The color of the wine is ruby red with some pretty good clarity to it. And the nose is sooooo goooood with raspberries, cherries, mocha, toffee, wet dirt, and copper. Uuuuuungh. I don't even care about drinking this, I just wanna smell it all night. On the palate it's light bodied but has a rich mouthfeel with a bright acidity and grainy tannin. There's flavors of raspberries, strawberries, vanilla, cola, wet wood, and even some apple. It finishes with strawberries and cola, and with a silky smooth mouthfeel but with some heat to spice it up.

Wow. This is everything I expect out of an almost-$50 Pinot and then some. It's both elegant and rustic, while being both fruity and earthy, and both light bodied and rich in mouthfeel. This is a very well done Pinot and quite the enjoyable experience.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $48
Rating: 4.5/5 = Recommended / Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


#4. VINI Pinot Grigio 2017

Region: Thracian Valley, Bulgaria
Review Release: August 18th, 2019


The wine has a 12% ABV and it's a light straw yellow in color. It still smells like those little prepackaged cups of sliced peaches in peach juice, with almonds and vanilla, but I'm detecting the addition of some pineapple and hay this time around. It's light to medium bodied with a rich mouthfeel and a nice acidity that's, yet again, rather mellow for a Pinot Grigio. The peaches come back on the flavor, but there's also melon, a tiny squeeze of grapefruit, and a little bit of spearmint.

Pour me this Pinot Grigio any day of the week, man, because it is excellent. For $10 you're getting a Pinot Grigio with character and life, and one that is well above the vast majority of its competition in the same price range. Kris? Ecco Domani? Put them down right now and pick this up.

READ THE FULL REVIEW WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

QUALITY VS PRICE RATING
Price: $10
Rating: 5/5 = Highly Recommended (what does that mean?)


Region: Sonoma Valley, California
Review Release: July 4th, 2019

The color of the wine is ruby red with violet highlights. Speaking of violet, you get plenty of violet on the nose! But there's also strawberry sauce, orange rind, dark chocolate, beach sand, and of course that high ethanol presence that you expect out of Grenache. On the palate it's on the lighter side of medium bodied with a fluent mouthfeel, grainy but soft tannin, and an acidity that hides behind the effects of that high ethanol. There's flavors of cold brewed coffee, black cherries, strawberry sauce, graphite, and a little dirt. It finishes super silky smooth with just a little bit of grainy tannin standing up in protest.

Oh my goodness. Bart has truly made something special here. Valeria is elegant and smooth but it still has grit and heartiness.

READ THE FULL REVIEW / WATCH THE YOUTUBE VIDEO

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



Region: Thracian Valley, Bulgaria
Review Release: August 25th, 2019


The color of the wine is brick red but holy Moses just forget about color for right now! Chocolate liqueur. Raspberry liqueur. Cinnamon sugar. Cherries, mint, and graphite. God fucking damnit this wine has a sexy nose. On the midpalate it's medium to full bodied with a velvety and lush mouthfeel, with smooth tannin, tamed acidity, and just the right amount of umami. There's flavors of cherries, blackberries, chocolate, cinnamon, and sinful lust.

For the regular price of $26 I'd give this wine a 4.5/5 in price vs quality. It's outstanding. But you can get it right now for $18 (at the publication of this review) and that totally brings it up to a 5/5 and a no brainer. This is absolutely killer for the cost. Buy it up: https://bulgarianwine.com/wines/enira-2009-by-bessa-valley-winery/

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


#1. Ashkar Shafaya 2014

Region: Galilee, Israel
Review Release: June 23rd, 2019


Now let's get to this friggin' kickass wine because OH MY GOOOOODNEEEEESSSS THE JUICINESS!

The color of the wine is a ruby red. It's so black peppery on the nose that it almost makes you want to sneeze! There's also aromas of cassis, plum, cigarette tobacco, and licorice. Oh lordy lordy this nose is STELLAR! I think I'm in love! On the palate it's full bodied with bright acidity, a fine dusty tannin, and a rich mouthfeel. The cassis and plum from the nose return on the palate super-juicy and explosive, and they're joined by blackberry, chocolate, and graphite. Then it finishes with big juicy plum, caramel, and graphite, and a little grip from the tannin. Oh man.

This wine is big, juicy, expressive, alive, and gorgeous! I simply can't rave enough about Shafaya!

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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