Friday, December 17, 2021

Sparkling : Style of the Month


Nothing makes an occasion more festive than Sparkling Wine. The pop of the cork, the rise of tiny bubbles and the gentle whoosh of foam in the glass—it’s romantic and special. Sparkling wines are not just for holidays and celebrations, they make a fine choice for everyday meals and pair exceptionally well with a variety of foods. From fried chicken to lobster bisque, the range of food pairings are endless, but nothing beats potato chips or truffle fries for flavor match made in heaven.

Sparkling wine hails from the Champagne region of France and wines grown and produced there are labeled Champagne. In the United States we call our bubbles Sparkling Wine and they are made in a variety of methods. The traditional method called Méthode Champenoise, and the tank method called Charmat. The many styles include Blanc de Blanc–made entirely of white grapes, Blanc de Noir, and Rosé. Sparkling wines come in a range of sweetness levels from sugar called dosage that is added to the wine before corking the bottle. The most popular style is Brut with less than half a gram of sugar per glass. Extra Brut and Brut Nature have even less sugar resulting in a bone-dry wine.

Here are capsule reviews of ten Sparkling Wines that will deliver you unto the bubble kingdom. 

Amista Sparkling Syrah Morningsong Vineyards

Swipe right for an instant connection with this beauty from Amista. Nuanced and multi-faceted, the Amista Sparkling Syrah shines like a rare gem. Pale garnet color with an inner golden glow, it’s juicy and bright with a persistent bubble stream. Full flavors of Rainier cherry, dusty rose petals, and all spice (nutmeg) delight the palate all the way through the long dry finish. 

 Cast Brut Rose NV

The Cast Brut Rosé is comprised of 78% Pinot Noir, 19% Chardonnay, and 3% Pinot Menuier. Pale blush pink in color with a cascade of tiny bubbles, the initial flavors are full and lush with Queen Anne cherry, tart citrus, grapefruit pith, and candied ginger. A creamy second wave of flavor comes to the forefront with rich buttered apple and a light toasty note on the long dry finish. 

Harvest Moon Sparkling Zinfandel 2017

A vision to behold, the Harvest Moon Sparkling Zinfandel is a deep garnet and ruby that sparkles with a fine bead of bubbles. A delicate perfume of cranberry and cherry glides to the top of the glass. On the palate, it’s a blend of traditional zinfandel flavors with a twist of all spice and a dash of strawberry whimsy that’s a sure bet with robust holiday fare like roasts and turkeys for the holidays or any special day. 
ABV 12.5%

Iron Horse 2017 Winter’s Cuvée, Green Valley

A classic for the ages—Iron Horse Winter’s Cuvée is rich and elegant with a bright clean scent of a fresh fallen snow. Full bodied, yet buoyant it delivers a range of captivating flavors with lemon zest, brioche, a touch of chalk, crisp green apple, lemon curd and white strawberry. The long silky finish lingers with creamy notes of peach and apricot. Like a fabulous white cashmere scarf, the Iron Horse Sparkling wine is a luxurious accessory to wrap around any occasion. 
ABV 13.5%

Longboard Brut Rosé

A delicate pale amber rose color in the glass, the Longboard Brut Rosé is a singular flex of flavor and style. Balanced and sumptuous it unfolds with a soft perfumed bouquet of chamomile and crushed rose petals on the nose. The palate is plush and creamy with top notes of orange creamsicle, white peach and white raspberry. Secondary flavors of toasted almond and strawberry mousse mingle on a bright juicy finish.
ABV 12.5

Moshin 2014 Pearl Anniversary Brut Rosé Pinot Noir Estate Grown

This special Anniversary edition of Brut Rosé is a wonder of the senses. The pale orange amber color sparkles with a steady stream of fine bubbles. A delicate sent of peach, anju pear and candied ginger reverberates on the nose with a top note of white strawberry. The palate thrums with tart cranberry and orange zest and juicy Asian pear. The finish is a dry delight with a subtle earthy bramble note at the end. 
ABV 13.5

Orsi Brut NV

Lively and enchanting with a body like super model—taut and supple— the Orsi opens with notes of crisp apple and brioche on the nose. The palate is round and full with flavors of lemon curd, lime zest, biscuit and a savory nutty note. Creamy and plush with a bright and silky strawberry finish—this special sparkler is must for any fête.
ABV 12.5%

VML Blanc de Noir 2016 RRV

The VLM Blanc de Noir opens with an initial sweet marzipan top note then takes you on a pleasure ride of flavor with granny smith apple, lime zest, grapefruit pith and fresh strawberry. A secondary wave of flavor delivers Crenshaw melon, honeydew and apple jolly rancher tartness that converge with lemon curd and ginger for a complex and deeply satisfying finish that lingers on and on.
ABV 13.5%

West Seafoam Blanc de Blanc 2016 Extra Brut Chardonnay

Plush. Lush. Delish! The West Seafoam Blanc de Blanc Extra Brut Chardonnay is a true pleasure. A persistent string of tiny bubbles race to the top of the glass delivering a nose of lemon cream mousse with distinct yet subtle notes of chalk and a kiss of brine. On the palate, a cavalcade of full-bodied flavors converge with lime zest, lemon curd, green apple, juicy white peach and pomello pith. A bright swirl of ginger and biscotti linger on the fine dry finish.
ABV 12%

Woodenhead Naturale 2019 RRV Single Vineyard

A profusion of fine bubbles bring a fresh foamy lift of citron and crème brulee to the nose. An abundance of flavors prevail upon on the palate with apple cobbler, orange zest, apricot, candied ginger and toasted almonds.  The dry and crisp finish has a tough of quince and honeydew melon that is both lively and refreshing. Austere yet elegant, the Woddenhead Natural is the essence of celebration

Friday, November 19, 2021

Malbec: Varietal of the Month


Malbec originated in the Cahors region of France and is one of the building blocks of Boudreaux blends. But Argentina is where the grape developed it’s following and found it’s place in the foothills of the Andes and high elevations sub regions of Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley. If you like Cab Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon you will most like enjoy Malbec as well. Inky and dark in color, Malbec ranges from medium to full body and pairs well with bold flavor forward foods like saucy meat dishes and strong chesses, and of course it is a delight as well all on its own. Decant Malbec for at least 30 minutes to allow wine to reach its full expression. 

Here are capsule reviews of some examples of  Malbec you may find along the Wine Road.

Baldassari Malbec 2018 Asti Ranch Alexander Valley, Sonoma County

In the glass the Baldassari 2018 Malbec from Asti Ranch, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County is a bewitching dark garnet color with an elegant nose of cocoa, raspberry and a touch of violet. Full of rich black fruit flavors with a predominance of black cherry, blueberry, and plum. Firm lengthy tannins deliver a pleasing tart note on the finish. Great age potential; will develop further complexity over time, but simply delicious right now as well. Pair with Pork tenderloin or a classic pot roast.
ABV 14.4% 

J. Rickards Winery Malbec 2019 Zanzi Curve Vines Alexander Valley Sonoma County Estate Produced 

Deep purple in color with a bluish-gold halo at the rim, this 2019 Malbec from J. Rickards opens with a bouquet of sugarplum, vanilla and sweet cedar. Full and plush in the mouth with tannins felt along the edge of the mouth that’s typical for Malbec. Juicy and flavorful it has a nice balance of black and red fruits including blueberry and raspberry. Pair with something fun and spicy like fajitas. 
$ N/A
ABV 14.2%

Longboard Vineyards Malbec 2018 Dakine Vineyard Russian River Valley Sonoma County

Longboard Vineyards 2018 Malbec from Dakine Vineyard presents with an opaque ruby color in the glass and a captivating nose composed of wild sage, vanilla, black tea, cocoa, black cherry and cigar box. Great complexity of flavor with notes of boysenberry, ripe plum, black raspberry, a touch of leather, and chocolate covered blueberries. Altogether a lovely balance of fruit, acid, and layered tannins, with a dry tart finish. Enjoy a contemplative glass on its own or pair with lamb kebabs. 
ABV 14.5%

The Meeker Vineyard Malbec 2019 Bells Echo Vineyard Mendocino

The Dark violet color of this 2019 Malbec from The Meeker Vineyard portends good things to come. A gentle nose of light cocoa, black cherry, clove and roasted coffee belies the juicy flavors of tart pomegranate, Santa Rosa plum, and spicy vanilla that await the palate. Mouthwatering and full of sassy acidity, it has great balance and structure with medium tannins and a long dry finish with a tart cherry note at the end. Pair with stuffed peppers or a tangy Thai barbecue chicken.
$ N/A
ABV 14.7%

Robert Young Estate
Malbec 2018 Alexander Valley Sonoma County

Dark and inky in the glass the Robert Young 2018 Malbec has a pleasant light scent of lavender, mint, and mulberry. On the palate the wine deepens and opens up with notes of sugarplum, spiced fig, black cherry and sandalwood. Well integrated tannins deliver a spicy round finish with a final note of black licorice. Try pairing with grilled eggplant or a savory duck confit.
ABV 14.2%

Sunce Winery & Vineyard
Malbec Reserve 2018 Franicevic Murray Farm, Russian River Valley Sonoma County

Medium to dark purple color in the glass with a very pretty nose of spicy carnation, nutmeg, cocoa and blueberry. On the palate this 2018 Sunce Malbec from Russian River Valley has a diverse array of flavors from dark cherry and blueberry to black tea, mint and wet gravel. It’s tart dry finish delivers a parting note of sour cherry and bitter almond. Pair with charcuterie board composed of blue cheeses and spicy chorizo. 
ABV 14.1%

Friday, October 22, 2021

Vioginer : Varietal of the Month


Viognier Varietal of the Month
Viognier is a full-bodied white wine originally from the Northern Rhone Valley in France. Viognier differs depending on the climate be it cool or warm. Cool climate wines tend towards bright citrus notes, while warm climate wines exhibit deeper floral notes and ripe stone fruit flavors. Flavor and aroma will vary depending if the wine undergoes malolatic fermentation and if oak barrels or stainless steel is used for aging. Depending on the style, California Viognier can walk the line between a warm climate Riesling and a traditional Chardonnay. Best served with a light chill, slightly above room temperature to allow the full expression of flavors. Pronounced [Vee-ohn-yay]

Capo Creek Ranch
2019 Viognier North Coast

Pale gold in color the Capo Creek 2019 North Coast Viognier has an opening chord of honeysuckle and salty lemon on the nose. It thrums with a melody of stone fruit and spice with lush flavors of pineapple and creamy guava on the palate. A bit of orange pith on the finish adds depth to the body of flavor. Pair with grilled chicken topped with mango chutney.
ABV 14.1%

Mengler Family Wines
2018 Viognier Hoot Owl Creek Vineyard, Alexander Valley

Aged in neutral American oak for 10 months, the 2018 Viognier Hoot Owl Creek Vineyard has a light floral nose of honeysuckle and orange blossom. On the palate the initial notes of honey and lemon zest open up and give way to a delightful guava and candied violet finish. Medium body is round and balanced with medium acidity. Try pairing with honey vinegar roast chicken for a marvelous yin-yang of flavor. 
ABV 13.9%

Mounts Family Winery
2018 Mounts Viognier Estate, Dry Creek Valley 

Unctuous and lush the 2018 Mounts Viognier Estate, Dry Creek Valley is 100% Viognier has texture and presence. 4 days of skin contact before malolatic fermentation lend to its yellow amber color. A lovely bouquet greets the nose with orange peel, musk, honeysuckle and apricot. Great depth and balance with notes of beeswax and layered with favors of orange creamsicle, basil and ripe white peach. Pair with something equal to the flavors, like Pad Thai or Chicken Satay with spicy peanut sauce.

ABV 15%

Pech Merle 
2018 Dry Creek Viognier 

Straw gold in color, the Pech Merle 2020 Dry Creek Viognier is aged 50/50 in split of oak and stainless. The nose is bright and zesty with hints of lime and kiwi. The plate offers a generous bounty of ripe and creamy flavors including pear, peach pie, apricot and orange marmalade. A trace of bitter almond and pith on the finish gives it texture and balance. Pair with a spicy Moroccan lamb curry.
ABV 14.1%

Porter Creek Vineyards 
2019 Viognier Hayley Marie Vineyard Russian River Valley

In the glass the Porter Creek Vineyards 2019 Viognier is pale yellow with a sparkle of gold flecks. The nose is a steely peach with a green apple base note. On the palate initial notes of zesty lime and pith of mandarin are dominant. Given time to open the wine reveals a subtle creaminess of pear and peach cobbler. The angular tannins are balanced by a still tart but creamy finish. Complex and fleshy it’s a sure bet to pair with a something understated like turkey and a classic chestnut stuffing. 
ABV 14.7%

Thomas George Estates
2018 Viognier Sons and Daughters Ranch Russian River Valley

This Thomas George Estates 2018 Viognier checks all the boxes for a classic expression of Viognier. Pale yellow green in color, it has a captivating floral nose of white peach, salted butter, beeswax and honey caramel. The body is full with a classic rich oily texture. Flavors of lemon curd, apricot, lime pith and mango pervade with a long easy finish that’s balanced to the end. Pair with Chicken or Veal Piccata. 
ABV 13.7%

Williamson Wines 
2020 Frolic Viognier Mendocino County

Pale gold color with a tint of green along the rim, the Williamson 2020 Frolic Viognier is aptly named. It practically bounces ad skips in the glass with a bright lively nose of honeysuckle and orange blossom. On the palate, apricot and ripe peach balanced with a trace of tart apple zesty lime. A touch of pith and bitter almond on the finish adds lift and balances out the equation of acidity and fruit flavors very nicely. Pair with pan Grilled Salmon or a Panzanella salad. 
AVB 14%


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