Sunday, November 27, 2016

Martin Ray Winery Trio Part 1




*Samples Received*

It's been a while since I sat down and sipped the juice of Martin Ray Winery wines, and after tasting these fine white morsels it will not be that long again. Their philosophy to create artisan wines which "far outshine other bottles on the shelf," and in my opinion their price points in the "affordable I can buy this everyday" range definitely contributes to their popularity. Current owner Courtney Benham initially as a career farmer, one day found 1500 cases of Martin Ray library wines and promptly bought the label. Since then he has molded the business into his own vision and that continues today with winemakers Bill Batchelor and Lindsey Haughton.

Up first the 2015 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc. Price point $20, screw cap closure,  100% Sauv Blanc clocking in at 13.8% alch. The grapes for this wine were sourced from warm sunny vineyards in the central part of the valley along with those from cooler/foggy vineyards in the Green Valley. The results are a harmonious mix of tropical and citrus notes. The grapes are hand picked and whole clustered into the press. The nose is full of ripe apple, pear and tangerine notes with a splash of lime citrus and minerality. The mouth is crisp and refreshing with loads of tropical fruit and the finish has nice acidity. Found this wine very refreshing and pleasing. Paired with fresh white fish and oh so good.

Second wine was the 2015 Russian River Valley Rose Of Pinot Noir. For the record I love rose wine! Price point $20, screw cap closure, 100% Pinot Noir clocking in at 13.8% alch. Grapes for this wine are sourced in small amounts from all the premium RRV and Green Valley Vineyards to maximize complexity and bouquet. Produced in the saignee method, the ripe grapes were crushed into stainless steel and allowed to remain in contact with the skins 6-8 hours to maximize color and flavor. On the nose strawberry, watermelon with hints of orange zest and cherry. The mouth exhibits strawberry, watermelon, cherry and a hint of orange. Absolute palate pleaser and enjoyed with my wife (she loved it as well).

Final wine the 2015 Russian River Valley Chardonnay. price point $20, screw cap closure, 100% Russian River Chardonnay clocking in at 13.8%. Like the pinot grapes, the chardonnay grapes were also sourced from the premium vineyards throughout the region with long established relationship with the growers. A few of the grapes which contributed to this vintage comes from Bisordi, Mill Station and Dutton Ranch. The grapes are gently pressed, cold settled for 2 days then racked in 30% new french oak. Malolactic fermentaion adds a rich mouthfeel to the wines while still showcasing the beautiful floral aromas. Classic aromas of apple, pear and melon with wild flower notes and creamy vanilla. So aromatic. The mouth is rich with apple and pear followed by a creamy silky vanilla with a slight hint of oak on the finish. Another beautiful wine and this paired with an herb chicken dish.

When visiting wine country swing by their tasting room at 2191 Laguna Road in Santa Rosa Ca where you can taste or have a beautiful garden picnic. Either choice you can't go wrong.

Cheers
Dan



Sunday, October 30, 2016

For the Love Of Australia Two Hands Wine on #Winestudio


*Samples Received*

What a treat in October as I participated once again on #winestudio with this series focusing on Two Hands Wine an Australian Winery. In all I had the pleasure of learning and tasting 5 different wines showcasing the Picture Series and Garden Series. Before we talk about the differences let me tell you first about Two Hands.

In September 1999 Michael Twelftree and Richard Mintz decided at a friends engagement party that they would pool their resources and start making their own wine. Their original vision was to make the the best Shiraz -based wines from the very best regions and vineyards in Australia. That focus still exists today. "Quality without Compromise" and as Michael will tell you he has walked every vineyard and tasted every barrel of his wines to ensure the quality of his wines. That takes personally to all all new perspective. To have that much passion for perfection is why these wines are cherished around the world.

Earlier I said we tasted the Picture Series and the Garden Series. The Picture Series has inspiration and a take on pop culture. These wines are are meant to be fun and approachable. Think of what fun you will have telling your friends you are sipping "Sexy Beast, Gnarly Dudes or even Angels' Share" just to name a few. The Garden Series consists of top fruit from six of the absolute best Shiraz growing regions in Australia. These wines you will find showcase each regions soil, climate and unique vineyard profile. It was my pleasure to have sipped Bella's Garden and Lily's Garden.

Enjoyed the month speaking with winemaker Ben Perkins and a host of bloggers/winelovers across the country learning about Two Hands from bottle closure (screw cap and cork) to soil, climate and vineyard specifics. Also amazed at the daily tasting of the winery barrels to ensure quality and consistency.

We started with the Picture Series and me in particular went straight to Sexy Beast (no not the name my wife gave me). This Cabernet Sauvignon from the McLaren Vale Region was named for Ben Kingsley and his 2000 British crime scene role where he was named Sexy Beast. The nose was quite aromatic with rich plum, raspberry, a hint of dark cherry intertwined with dried herbs, earth and a faint dust nuance. The mouth was beautiful with the plum and dark cherry surrounded by a nice splash of raspberry along with spice and earthy tones. As the wine opens a lovely hint of dark chocolate. I found myself having a hard time letting go of this wine!




The second wine Gnarly Dudes (again not named for me but damn close) was 100% Shiraz from teh Barossa Valley and truly was named for the gnarly old vines which produce this tasty juice. The nose was full of lush blackberries and plum with hints of lavender, pepper spice and smoky cedar. The mouth nice ripe plum and blackberry with pepper and spice and cedar notes. Watch this open in the glass over the course of an hour and various intervals and you will be amazed at how the profile changes.

Final wine of the picture series was the Angels' Share named for those up above who watched over the wines and had a sip or two. This wine is 100% Shiraz from the McLaren Vale Appellation. Blueberries and plums oh my along with floral lavender notes and baking spice. Gave me the sensation of a warm baked pie! The mouth is rich with blueberry and plum followed by wild violets and black licorice. A hint of oak on the finish. Anything with blueberry makes me smile

On to the Garden Series and up first Lily's Garden named after Michael's daughter. The wine is 100% Shiraz from the McLaren Vale Vineyards. Loads of blueberry and plum on the nose with baking spice and a hint of smoke. The mouth was luscious with warm blueberries and plums. The spice complimented the fruit and the finish was so soft and elegant. I had opened this an hour before drinking reconnected day 2 and my how this wine opened up. My comment on the interaction on the program was "this wine is like a sweet innocent daughter" and my favorite of the wines tasted.

Finally I ended with Bella's Garden the more masculine of the wines. 100% Shiraz from Barossa Valley, Deeper notes in the aroma and on the palate. As soon as the cork is pulled a puff of smoke hits the nose. I also opened this an hour before sipping and upon the pour blackberries, floral notes, leather, dark chocolate and spice. The mouth is meaty with rich blackberry, choclate and spice with a kiss of floral herbs on the finish. The smoky oak nuances subside the longer you taste and allow the wine to open. This by far was the biggest wine of the 5.

Thanks #winestudio for another superb session of wine knowledge. A huge thanks to Tina, Ben, Michael for allowing me to sip and chat about Two Hands wines. Loved the wines and my first serious session on great Australian juice.

Cheers
Dan


Sunday, October 23, 2016

2013 Passaggio New Generation Grenache Paso Robles


My friends chirp at me all the time about being spoiled drinking small production wine. All I can say is "guilty as charged!" Today we sip the 2013 Passaggio Wines Grenache. The grapes for this gem came from Paso Robles and really showcases Cindy's versatility as a winemaker. Give her great grapes and she will make great wine.

I've watched and sipped her wines for better that 9 years now and the growth of her brand is inspiring. From the early days of Crushpad, to the excitement of increased production at Dogpatch and now her own winery close to her tasting room in Sonoma (picture caption "I have to make a lot of wine to fill this place up"). Today, the smile is big and the popularity of her wines is ever increasing. Just recently her tasting room was full of fans tasting and purchasing some recent new release wines. The pick up parties are a gathering of old and new friends of Passaggio in an inviting warm tasting room. A must stop when in the Sonoma Square.

The first thing I notice is how light the color of this wine is in the glass. Aromas of raspberry, strawberry and cherry with a nice white pepper spice treat the nose. The flavors are soft and elegant with juicy cherry, raspberry and a nice tart cranberry. The white pepper spice is faint on the finish. An all around delicious wine from Cindy's portfolio and drinking so well right now. I would say this is a 90+ rated wine!

Purchase your very own bottles of Passaggio Wines online or by visiting the tasting room. Either way you are in for a real treat.

Cheers
Dan


Monday, October 10, 2016

Dynamic Duo Concha Y Toro Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Carmenere and Sauvignon Blanc



*Samples received*

Always solid wines from this producer and tonight's offerings are no exception. We sipped the 2014 Carmenere from the Peumo Vineyard and the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc from the Ucuquer Vineyard. Both wines are grown near the rivers of Chile formed by the rushing meltwater of the snow on the peaks of the Andes Mountains. The result is rich soil perfect for growing grapes.

The Carmenere is my favorite for its rich aroma and equally elegant flavor. The nose showcases dark fruit with ripe blueberry with a hint of blackberry and plumb. A subtle pepper spice with a hint of earthiness round out the wine. The mouth is dominated by blueberry, cherry, blackberry, raspberry and plum followed by a hint of vanilla. A quick splash of pepper spice on the finish with ultra soft tannins. I could drink this all day.

The Sauvignon Blanc is another equally delicious wine. Loads of lime citrus and tropical grapefruit with hints of stone fruit. The mouth is vibrant with lime citrus and fresh squeezed grapefruit and tangerine.Crisp with a nice long juicy finish. I paired this with chicken on a bed of lime cilantro rice. Excellent pairing

These wines are ideal on the pocketbook yet flavor packed. If you like wines of Chile then these are a must.

Cheers
Dan

Sunday, September 18, 2016

2014 Achaval Ferrer Malbec Mendoza Argentina on Winestudio



*Scholarship sample received*

Interesting to learn the wine making philosophy and techniques of other regions along with soil makeup and climate interaction with the vineyards. It was fast and furious tonight with questions coming from all directions. I learned that bud break was a couple weeks early which is very interesting considering the same thing has happened here as well. Do we have an overall climate change in the world? Maybe too early to tell but sure seems that way. I like many had heart failure when 2 weeks ago a heavy 2 day frost hit the region. Thankfully the vines were dormant or this would have been disastrous. I also learned they taste barrels daily up to 1100! Sign me up I'll help with the "breakfast of champions" task.

The wine has some very nice aromas of wild flowers, dark cherry and raspberry with hints of blackberry. Nice smoke and spice notes along with a dusting of cocoa compliments the fruit on this complex gem. The mouth is fantastic with the raspberry, cherry and plum fruit so juicy. A pepper spice with a nice oak influence provide balance into the long silky finish. Loving this Malbec tonight and it was even better night 2!!!!

Tune in Tuesday for another edition of wine education at it's finest #Winestudio and see what we are sipping and talking about this week.

Cheers
Dan