3/20/2017

Quick Sip: Mer Soleil 2014 Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay

Hello Friends,

Today’s Quick Sip is Mer Soleil 2014 Reserve Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands, an appellation in Monterey, California, well-regarded for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Planted on hillside vineyards near the Monterey Bay, Mer Soleil, meaning sea and sun, reflects the setting where the grapes are grown. The Mer Soleil site was established in 1988 and is blessed with abundant sunshine and cooling maritime influences. Chardonnay, as many of you know, is made in several styles and can show a wide range of character. This example is no doubt on the riper side, heightened by oak aging, yet benefits from a firm underpinning of acidity that keeps everything fresh. For readers who find themselves in the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) club, this selection may compel you to cancel your membership and enjoy Chardonnay again. This Chardonnay retails for $40 but can be found at Cork Exclusive for $27.99. Even better, free shipping is offered on any purchase of three or more bottles of wines or spirits. For further information and where you can find this wine, please see my tasting notes below.

Mer Soleil 2014 Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay

Mer Soleil 2014 Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay (SRP $40): Produced by the Wagner Family, makers of the popular Caymus Cabernet Saugvignon, this light golden, straw colored Chardonnay is ripe, full-bodied, and expressive. Flavors of spiced pear, grilled pineapple and citrus blossom, interweave with quince, butter cream and honeysuckle notes. Bright acidity balances the mouth-filling richness, lifting the fruit and adding freshness through the pleasing, honeyed finish. A nice sipper on its own, this is also a fine bottle of wine to enjoy with smoked salmon, fettuccine alfredo, and rich seafood, veggie or poultry dishes in rich, butter or cream sauces. Region: Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey, California. Other info: ABV 14.7%, partial ML, fermented and matured in new and used French oak barrels for 12-15 months, natural cork enclosure, recommended serving temperature 55°.

Click here to find this wine. It has a suggested retail price of $40 and is available for as low as $27.99 on CorkExclusive with FREE SHIPPING on any 3 or more bottles of wine or spirits!

This review is sponsored by: 

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Get the Mer Soleil 2014 Reserve Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay for just $27.99 with FREE SHIPPING on any 3 or more bottles of wine or spirits!"

Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned -- more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: This wine was provided for review. Thoughts are my own.

Live, Love, Laugh, Tweet, Sip, Enjoy!

3/01/2017

A Delicious Flight of Cabernet Franc: Leah Jorgensen Cellars, Dracaena Wines, and Ehlers Estate

Hello Friends,

Just about every day, as wine o'clock approaches, you can find me uncorking or unscrewing a new wine adventure. Being a wine enthusiast, a wine writer, and someone who appreciates the liquid expression of place, a person’s vision, and Mother Nature’s influence, I find wine to be one of the most intriguing beverages out there. It is an area of interest where you never run out of great people to meet and new things to taste and learn.

The wines selected for this post are rock-solid, small-production Cabernet Francs from the west coast. Cabernet Franc, along with Sauvignon Blanc, are the genetic parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. I know this seems unlikely on the surface, but they really did manage to produce the beloved variety many hail as the undisputed King of Reds. On the west coast, however, Cabernet Franc is generally made in a somewhat riper, more generous style with an intensity and structure that can sometimes bear a resemblance to Cabernet Sauvignon. As a result, you can easily get a feel for the relationship between these wines, and even be tricked in a blind tasting. In my opinion, west coast Cabernet Francs are natural partners to grilled fare. And with grilling season upon us, these are very nice wines to have on hand for small outdoor dinner parties with family and good friends. For further information and where you can find these wines, please see my tasting notes below.

Leah Jorgensen Cellars 2015 Cabernet Franc

Leah Jorgensen Cellars 2015 Cabernet Franc (SRP $25): This wine is crafted by self-professed wine nerd and social media rock star Leah Jorgensen. Inspired by the lovely red wines of France’s Loire Valley, Ms. Jorgensen tapped into her southern Oregon roots and specializes in the production of expressive wines centered on Cabernet Franc -- the signature red-wine grape of the Loire. Fruit for this bottling was sourced from Crater View Ranch and Sundown Vineyard, both LIVE (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) certified sites in southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley appellation. This gorgeous wine delivers a harmonious melody of red plum, black cherry, spiced fruitcake, tea rose, and trailing cacao nib aromas and flavors – with layers of fresh fruit being more prevalent on the palate. It has a succulent texture with good depth and length. Perfect with grilled fare, including chicken, pork, lamb sausage, and veggies -- especially something like a portobello mushroom burger. A very satisfying and enjoyable southern Oregon-grown Cabernet Franc well worth seeking out. Only 243 cases of this wine were produced. Region: Rogue Valley, Oregon. Other info: ABV 14.5%, matured in mostly used French oak barrels along with some stainless steel, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.

Dracaena Wines Paso Robles 2014 Cabernet Franc

Dracaena Wines Paso Robles 2014 Cabernet Franc (SRP $32): Dracaena Wines is owned and operated by wine lovers Lori and Michael Budd. Pursuing their passion for wine and with plans to retire to California, the couple purchased property in Arroyo Grande to fulfil their dream. Pronounced druh-see-nuh, the winery’s name and label honors the memory of their Weimaraner; a companion and friend of 14 years. The Budds are also the founders of the hugely popular #CabFrancDay, an international celebration of the grape that occurs every December 4th on Twitter (if you are a producer, ping them if you’re interested in getting involved). Their 2014 Cabernet Franc is fruit-forward and lush, with inviting aromas of ripe red berries; namely raspberry and black cherry, alongside notes of plum preserve. The aromas extend to the palate, and are accented by spice-infused milk & dark chocolate bark with suggestions of toasted vanilla bean. A generous wine with ample richness, it manages to remain surprisingly light on its feet; though it is very much full-bodied -- just well proportioned. A 10% addition of Petite Sirah adds dimension and oomph, increasing the wine’s pleasure factor. Region: Paso Robles, California. Other info: ABV 14.3%, aged in one year old French oak barrels for 2 years, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.

Ehlers Estate 2013 Cabernet Franc

Ehlers Estate 2013 Cabernet Franc (SRP $60): Ehlers Estate is situated just north of the town of St. Helen in Napa County and specializes in Bordeaux-inspired varietal wines; all grown on their historic 42-acre vineyard. The site is bio-dynamically farmed and 100% certified organic. A non-interventionist approach is employed in the cellar to craft estate-grown wines that best reflect the unique characteristics of the growing season and site. Ehlers Estate’s 2013 Cabernet Franc is an appealing wine from an exceptional vintage. Deep purple in color, this full-bodied wine offers expressive aromas and flavors filled with high-toned red berry fruits and plum joined by a generous sprinkling of brown baking spice and a delicate wisp of sweet cream. A seamless texture and ripe tannins give way to a fruit-driven finish of admirable length. Region: St. Helena, Napa Valley, California. Other info: ABV 14.2%, 100% CCOF Certified Organic, 100% Cabernet Franc, matured 100% French oak – 50% new, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.

Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned ...more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: These wines were samples provided for review. Thoughts are my own.

Live, Love, Laugh, Tweet, Sip, Enjoy!

2/13/2017

Quick Sip: Bodega Catena Zapata 2014 Chardonnay and 2013 Malbec

Hello Friends,

Today’s Quick Sip comes to me from Bodega Catena Zapata in Mendoza, Argentina. These wines are made from 100% estate-grown fruit from the family’s high-altitude vineyards (3,000 to 5,000 feet above sea level). Founded in 1902 by Italian immigrant, Nicola Catena, the winery remains under family control and is overseen by third and fourth-generation family members Nicolás Catena and his daughter Laura. This is not my first rodeo with the wines of Bodega Catena. This producer is well-regarded for quality-driven wines that consistently deliver good value. For that reason, it is good to have a few bottles on hand for your upcoming backyard cookouts and last-minute get-togethers. I’ve reviewed the 2014 Chardonnay and 2013 Malbec for this post. For further information and where you can find these wines, please see my tasting notes below.

Bodega Catena Zapata 2014 Chardonnay

Bodega Catena Zapata 2014 Chardonnay (SRP $20): Fruit for this Chardonnay was sourced from three high-altitude vineyards, all owned by the Catena family that range from 3,100 to 4,700 feet. Aromas of pear tart, citrus blossom and spiced fruitcake are joined on the palate by yellow-fleshed fruit flavors and floral notes. It is noticeably round with a sweet, mouth-filling texture supported by adequate acidity and freshness. A very enjoyable Chardonnay; it ends with a faint mineral streak and overtones of spice lingering on the medium-long finish. Try a bottle with pasta, risotto dishes or oven-roasted chicken. It’s also a satisfying solitary sipper. Region: Mendoza, Argentina. Other info: ABV 13.5%, partial ML, matured in new-to-two year old French oak barrels for 10 months, bottled aged 12 months, and natural cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.

Bodega Catena Zapata 2013 Malbec

Bodega Catena Zapata 2013 Malbec (SRP $24): This is a deeply colored and concentrated Malbec boasting aromas and flavors suggestive of dark stone fruit and blackberry preserve intertwined with rose petals, cedar/peppery spice, and underlying hints of wild herbs. On the palate, this wine is medium- bodied with fine, sweet tannins. It has just enough acidity to lift the fruit and provide balance. The texture shows flavor density and richness that carries through the medium-long, earth-tinged finish. This is an overall very satisfying wine; especially when paired with heartier dishes such as leg of lamb, pot roast or pork chops. Region: Mendoza, Argentina. Other info: ABV 13.5%, matured in new-to-two year old French oak barrels for 12-14 months, bottled aged 10 months, and natural cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.

Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned ...more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: This wine was a sample provided for review. Thoughts are my own.

Live, Love, Laugh, Tweet, Sip, Enjoy!

1/25/2017

Under-the-Radar Gems: Chateau Musar (Lebanon) | Linden Vineyards (VA) | Truro Vineyards (MA)

Hello Friends,

Just about every day, as wine o'clock approaches, you can find me uncorking or unscrewing a new wine adventure. Being a wine enthusiast, a wine writer, and someone who appreciates the liquid expression of place, a person’s vision, and Mother Nature’s influence, I find wine to be one of the most intriguing beverages out there. It is an area of interest where you never run out of great people to meet and new things to taste and learn.

The wines selected for this post all are from lesser-known wine regions. I often refer to such wines as ‘hidden gems’. One of the more exciting aspects of wine is branching out and discovering regions that tend to fall off the radar of most consumers. Just because these regions are not well known does not mean they cannot deliver on quality. In fact, many of them are more than worthy of your attention. Experiencing such wines can be eye-opening and palate-expanding; and you just may find a new favorite to add to your regular sipping rotation. For further information and where you can find these hidden gems, please see my tasting notes below.

Chateau Musar 2004 Bekaa Valley Rouge

Chateau Musar 2004 Gaston Hochar Rouge (SRP $53): Pale-medium garnet in color, this medium-bodied wine leads with tart red berry fruit, dried cranberries and earthy flavors framed by notes of worn leather, sweet tobacco leaf, forest floor, dried flowers, and fennel seed. It is well-balanced with a generous underpinning of fresh acidity supporting a sleek yet age-worthy frame. This wine opens nicely over time, and ends with more earth and funk-like qualities than the red fruits you catch up-front. What I really like about this wine is its ability to simultaneously juggle a savory complexity coupled with pretty aspects while being anchored by a downright funky core. If you prefer old-world wines with a lot of character, I recommend putting this Lebanese winery on your radar. You will not be disappointed. Region: Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. Other info: ABV 13.5%, composition: Cabernet Sauvignon, Carignane, Cinsault, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.

Linden Vineyards 2006 Hardscrabble Red

Linden Vineyards 2006 Hardscrabble Red (SRP $40): This Cabernet Sauvignon-based blended wine is medium-bodied, supple, and rather streamlined. It offers up a delightful mélange of red berry compote, sun-dried tomatoes, savory herbs, and spice box flavors that are held together by a well-focused frame of firm acidity; a Linden trademark. Rustic yet charming, this is an excellent food wine; especially with earthy dishes. For my readers unfamiliar with the wines of Virginia, this producer is an excellent place to start. You can expect well-made, 100% estate-grown red and white wines that are long-lived and acid-driven as opposed to flavor-driven. Only 454 cases of this wine were produced. Region: Fauquier County, Virginia. Other info: ABV 13.5%, 61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot and 11% Cabernet Franc, unfined & unfiltered, matured 18 months in new and used French and Hungarian oak barrels, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.

Truro Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc

Truro Vineyards 2014 Cabernet Franc (SRP $17.99): What a pleasant [estate-grown] surprise from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. This wine is lean, fruit-forward and easy-drinking with well-balanced, yet round acids supporting black raspberry and high-toned red berry fruit aromas and flavors. A dusting of black pepper and baking spice caps off this enjoyable sipper. This is your go-to wine for red sauce dishes, pizza, and grilled burgers. Region: Truro, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Other info: ABV 12.5%, matured 18 months in used American oak barrels, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.

Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned ...more to come. Happy sipping, my friends!

Live, Love, Laugh, Tweet, Sip, Enjoy!

1/11/2017

Quick Sip: Glorie Farm Winery 2014 Cabernet Franc

Hello Friends,

Today’s Quick Sip is Glorie Farm Winery’s 2014 Cabernet Franc. I had an opportunity to try this wine for #CabFrancDay, a daylong, widely attended virtual celebration of the grape put on by the good folks at Dracaena Wines (who make a really nice Cabernet Franc too). This was not my first foray into New York wines, but it was one of the first Cabernet Francs from the Hudson River region I had a chance to experience. I had several people over for this event and the wine really impressed – in quality, typicity (as two called it textbook), and price (solid QPR).

Glorie Farm started out as a vineyard in 1983, with the planting of Seyval Blanc, a French-American hybrid grape. For a number of years the vineyard sold fruit to local wineries and home winemakers. In 2001, which was a very good and generous vintage, there was enough residual fruit left to produce 60 cases of Seyval Blanc. The 60 cases were produced under the Glorie Farm label. Grape grower Doug Glorie called the wine “fabulous” and in 2004 the winery was officially established. Besides Seyval Blanc and other varieties, Doug grows a really nice Cabernet Franc. The 2014 vintage is expressive, bright, and delicious; a lovely addition to any table. For further information and where you can find this wine, please check out my tasting notes below.

"We make wine really in the vineyard; if you take good care of your vines the wine-making process is much easier" ~ Doug Glorie 

Glorie Farm Winery 2014 Cabernet Franc (SRP $19): Here’s an appealing Cabernet Franc from New York’s Hudson River appellation. Medium ruby in color, this wine is lean, supple and streamlined, delivering a pleasing mix of tart cherry, black raspberry and plum notes which are nicely accented by violets and a smidgen of wild herbs. The flavors are supported by a nice lift of fresh acidity that carries through the satisfying finish. This wine is very enjoyable on its own, yet its bright and fresh character also makes it a versatile dinner companion. Get some in your wine glass! Region: Hudson Valley, New York. Other info: ABV 12%, cork enclosure. Click here to find this wine.


Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned ...more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: This wine was a sample provided for review. Thoughts are my own.

Live, Love, Laugh, Tweet, Sip, Enjoy!

12/19/2016

Quick Sip: Noble Tree Wickersham Ranch 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon

Hello Friends,

If you’re looking for a pleasing and affordable, no-fuss Cabernet Sauvignon, then this wine is for you. It is made in an approachable, fruit-forward style and is versatile enough to be enjoyed on its own or with a wide range of foods. The fruit comes from Wickersham Ranch, a sunny mountaintop vineyard in northwest Sonoma County, that’s situated at an altitude of approximately 2,200 feet. This high-elevation Cabernet retails for $25 but is under $20 at Cork Exclusive. Even better, free shipping is offered on any purchase of three or more bottles of wines or spirits. For further information and where you can find this wine, please see my tasting notes below.


Noble Tree Wickersham Ranch 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $25): Deep ruby, purple in color, this is a solid, everyday drinking Cabernet Sauvignon from a high-altitude site in northwestern Sonoma County. Inviting aromas of red berry fruit mixed with baking spices are joined by purple stone fruit, cracked black peppercorns and star anise on the palate. In the mouth, it’s well-balanced and supple with a good lift of juicy acidity propping up the velvet-like texture. A satisfying, medium-long finish caps off this medium-to-fuller bodied wine. Grab a bottle and add pizza, red sauce pasta dishes, or a gourmet burger and make your dining experience complete. Region: Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California. Other info: ABV 14.8%, wild yeast fermentation, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for 10 months in 40% neutral French oak, 60% stainless, screw cap enclosure.

Click here to find this wine. It has a suggested retail price of $25 and is available for as low as $19.99 on CorkExclusive with FREE SHIPPING on any 3 or more bottles of wine or spirits!

This review is sponsored by: 

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Get the Noble Tree Wickersham Ranch 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon for just $19.99 with FREE SHIPPING on any 3 or more bottles of wine or spirits!"

Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned -- more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: This wine was provided for review. Thoughts are my own.

Live, Love, Laugh, Tweet, Sip, Enjoy!

11/28/2016

Quick Sip: Joseph Drouhin 2012 Côte de Nuits-Villages

Hello Friends,

Today’s Quick Sip is the 2012 Côte de Nuits-Villages from Joseph Drouhin. At the ripe old age of 22, Joseph Drouhin founded his eponymous wine company in 1880. Today, it is one of the most well-known and largest estates in all of Burgundy, France. The historic business is currently headed by 4th generation family members. Over the years, the domain has garnered a very good reputation for consistency and quality. This particular village-level red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) from the Côte de Nuits region drinks nicely right now and is both satisfying and reasonably priced. If you are in the market for a solid red wine to wash down Thanksgiving leftovers or just an affordable weeknight red to enjoy with dinner, then look no further my friends. This red Burgundy retails for $35 but can be found for $22.99 at Cork Exclusive. And when you purchase three or more bottles of wines or spirits, shipping is free. For further information, please check out my tasting notes below.


Joseph Drouhin 2012 Côte de Nuits-Villages (SRP $35): Light ruby in color, this wine is poised and fresh with aromas and flavors redolent of tart red berry fruit followed by earth tones, baking spice notes, and muted floral impressions. In the mouth, it’s medium-bodied, harmonious and savory, with good acidity, ending in soft, well-tamed tannins on the medium-length finish. A pleasant wine on its own, this is also a good bottle to share with family and friends at the dinner table. Try it with red sauce dishes, rotisserie chicken, grilled salmon, light cheeses and more. Region: Côte de Nuits, Burgundy, France. Other info: ABV 13%, aged 12 to 15 months in French oak barrels (10% new), cork enclosure.  

Click here to find this wine. It has a suggested retail price of $35 and is available for as low as $22.99 on CorkExclusive with FREE SHIPPING on any 3 or more bottles of wine or spirits!

This review is sponsored by: 

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Get the Joseph Drouhin 2012 Côte de Nuits-Villages for just $22.99 with FREE SHIPPING on any 3 or more bottles of wine or spirits!"

Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned -- more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: This wine was provided for review. Thoughts are my own.

Live, Love, Laugh, Tweet, Sip, Enjoy!

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