Wow! I cannot belive how long it has been since my last post… I thought I was doing better than this! In any case, I do have some new wines that we have tasted recently and will be doing my best to stay more current.
I recently had a customer ask about ordering a case of the Vincent Delaporte Sancerre, which I have enjoyed immensely in the past but recently had not thought about trying again. Since we were somewhat lacking in Sancerre’s in the store I decided to go ahead and bring in a case to sell as well. Boy, am I ever glad that I did! I am excited to have this new white to offer and will also be looking to see if we can fit into the restaurant wine list as well.
The nose of this vintage is ripe melon fruit, with hints of apricot and mango intermixed with floral aromas. The palate is clean, wet stone and flint minerality with nuances of citrus and gooseberry. The mouthful is rounder than I remember but balanced with the acidity offers a pleasing finish that lingers moderately.
When I thought about what I might like to have this wine with, the first though that jumped out at me was sushi, which is notoriously difficult to pair wine with. I think that the acidity will cleanse the palate, similar to what the pickled ginger does, and that the richness of the fruit and minerality will nicely balance with the fresh fish. If you are not a sushi fan, this obviously will pair very well with other seafood dishes and lighter meat dishes. And honestly, it drinks pretty darn well by itself too!
I recently had the opportunity to join the Sarasota Liquor Locker as a sales consultant. One of the things that brought me to this position was the challenge of taking an already successful wine component of the business and growing it even further. As part of doing this, we are looking at a lot of wines that we can get really great deals on and then passing them on to our customers.
One such opportunity came recently when we were able to purchase 2011 Chalone Monterey Cabernet Sauvignon and 2012 Chardonnay at some really great prices by buying in bulk. Having not tasted either of these wines in a while, I brought a bottle of each home (I did pay for them, no samples here!).
Chalone Winery offer up a Vineyard estate collection in addition to the Monterey offerings. The grapes for the Monterey label are sourced from distinct vineyards in the 75-mile long Salinas valley, which runs from Monterey Bay southward. With mountains flanking the valley and acting as a natural wind tunnel, cool Pacific breezes flow throughout the valley which causes the vines to delay ripening of the grapes which leads to a longer growing season and hang time that intensifies the fruit flavors. Chalone is also the oldest bonded winery in Monterey and the only vineyard in the Chalone AVA.
The chardonnay was surprisingly good for the price. The nose showed lots of nice ripe fruit including apricot and honeydew melon. On the palate, hints of green apple were surrounded by soft caramel and toast nuances which lead into the lighly smoked oak finish that lingered for a good bit. While still not a chardonnay fan, this would be a fantastic one to serve at a party.
The cabernet nose was a bit more fruit forward than I expected with black cherry and plum fruit. The wine was definitely a lighter styled cabernet, with little to no tannin apparent and a shorter finish that was a bit unbalanced and showed a touch of alcohol heat on the end. Again, a good party wine that would work well with lighter foods.
We are offering these wines at $9.99 a bottle or 2 (mix and match okay) for $15 which is a pretty darn good deal.
That’s actually Illana in the title but the font doesn’t display correctly in the titles. This is another wine that I received as a sample from the distributor that I interviewed with. We drank it with some friends recently along with the Backhouse wines previously reviewed and another Malbec which will be posted shortly.
This was an interesting blend of Tempranillo, Merlot and Bobal varietals from the Ribera del Jucar region in central Spain. Tempranillo and merlot are common varietals which need little explanation but Bobal was a new one to me. The name of the grape is derived from the Latin bovale. Grown predominantly in the Utiel-Requena DO (roughly 90% of all vines) as well as abundant in Valencia, Cuenca and Albacete. In other regions of Spain it is only grown in very small quantities, if at all. The wines made from the grape tend to be lower in alcohol with higher acidity and more fruit-forward in style. Combined with the merlot the fruit profile would typically be pretty over the top but the rustic nature of tempranillo balances nicely.
We noted plum and black fruits on the nose and palate. The palate hinted at some spice, and did not have as much of the earthiness that one would expect. Overall it was well balanced, though somewhat acidic on the finish. The finish was short to medium-lived with subtle tannins on the edge.
While this was an interesting wine in its own right, it really did not offer anything substantial to differentiate itself. While palatable on its own, the wine did much better when paired with some light finger foods.
A couple of weeks ago I had made some spicy etoufee and was thinking that a nice riesling, with its bright sweetness, would be a perfect compliment to the dish. In my haste to grab a bottle and get home though I did not realize that the one I happened to pick up was in fact a dry riesling. Oops!
Well, in any event it was still quite tasty. Crisp acidity hits you right off, with notes of citrus lime and mandarin orange. A full-bodied finish follows but seems to fall off rather quickly. This has 12.8% AbV, some still a slight bit of residual sweetness should be present but I did not notice it at all.
I would recommend this to someone looking for a riesling but not wanting the typical sweetness. It would work well with chicken, fish or a summer salad.
Since it has been such a long time since my last post, I thought I would share two reviews to get back in the swing of things! I actually have several reviews and will be getting these posted in the next couple of days and now that I am working in the industry again plan on being more diligent about keeping this blog updated.
I recently had an opportunity to interview with a distributor to serve as their sales person in the Sarasota-Bradenton market. For a couple of reasons that did not pan out, but they did provide me with some samples from their portfolio to taste. These are part of that sample back.
Backhouse is part of the Cecchetti Wine Company portfolio and represents good quality, inexpensive wines meant for everyday enjoyment. The winemaker is Bob Broman, who has more than 27 years of winemaking experience. You can read more about Cecchetti Wine Company and Backhouse on their website.
The 2012 Chardonnay was medium-bodied, with crisp, clean lines of tropical fruit. With a suggested retail price of $7.99 we were not expecting to like this as much as we did. We also tasted this blind with a couple of our friends, and while everyone recognized immediately that it was chardonnay they all did think that it was a more expensive bottle.
The 2012 Merlot was earthy, with hints of blackberry and currant and finished with mildly sweet tannin which gave this wine a nice finish. Again, at the suggested retail of $7.99 we were blown away by the quality of this wine and would certainly not hesitate to recommend it.
Both wines, and indeed the entire Backhouse line (which includes Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon) are lower alcohol wines (12.5% AbV) that are meant to be consumed early and either with lighter dishes or on their own.
*** Disclaimer — these were sample wines provided for us to taste ***
When you think of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines you are most likely to think about a red wine, because that is what the region is best known for. Most, myself included, seldom if ever would think “I’d like a white Châteauneuf today.” However, there are some out there and having recently found one I was intrigued to try it. One most also remember that even the great red wines can have some white varietals blended in under the classification laws.
The principal white grapes grown include Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc. Lesser white varietals include Roussanne, Picpoul and Picardan. And just like the red wines, most, if not all, Châteauneuf-du-Pape Blancs are blends of at least a couple and often 3 or 4 of these varietals. It is often difficult to locate exact ratios, and that is the case with this one. From the limited information I was able to find it would appear that the 2008 vintage is a blend of the 3 principal white varietals along with some Roussanne.
Some information found on the Chateau Lynch-Bages site indicates that this particular Domaine is one of the oldest in the region. It located on one of the noble “plateaus” in the region and consists of 27 hectares of vineyard with only 3 hectares devoted to white varietals.
The nose was rich and layered, with suggestions of apricot and figs. As it opened up, the nose developed softer nuances and hinted of honey. The initial mouthfeel of this was somewhat rich and oily, somewhat suggestive of a German Riesling without the sweetness. As it opened, subtle white pepper spice mingled with floral aromatics and peach. The finish seemed to last forever, with bright toast and vanilla notes.
Like the red wines from Châteuneuf-du-Pape, these are not inexpensive wines. This one listed for $45 a bottle, but I found it on a clearance sale for half-price. Even at that, this is not for everyday consumption. And while 2008 seems like it is old for a white wine, like many other French whites these seem to hold up fairly well with some age. Most of the reviews for this vintage suggest a drinking range of between 2010 and 2015-2018. Personally, I think that it is drinking well now and do not see that it will improve much at all. If you happen across it, or are sitting on some in your cellar I would suggest not waiting to enjoy it.