Skip the A.B., love the C

Ever hear the term “ABC” for wine? It stands for “Anything but Chardonnay”. So in context I’ve heard “ABC” being the answer when one was asked what type of wine they like. Don’t get me wrong, there are regions, grapes, or vineyards I don’t care for but I don’t limit myself. I enjoy many wines from even the most obscure grapes and from the most obscure countries. So when I hear that term I cringe.

Chardonnay can be outstanding but the grape itself is fairly neutral. The flavors generally are derived from terroir and oak. Team that up with the many different styles to vinify Chardonnay. The results are several different tasting profiles from lean and crisp all the way through rich and buttery. 
Gary Farrell Chardonnay, 2011 from California’s Russian River Valley is an excellent Chardonnay and represents what the beautiful Chardonnay grape can do! Alluring aromas of star fruit, kiwi, and lemon peel, followed by delicious flavors of lemon oil, tropical fruit, honey, and a hint of pineapple.  It was rich and creamy, (texture from extended less stirring during malolactic fermentation), complex yet super balanced! This wine had me thinking about the aromas/flavors days after.

So yea, I guess I’m an “ABC” kinda guy – All ‘bout Chardonnay! It’s getting warmer out, perfect for whites and what better way to bring on spring than to pop open a tasty white like this Chardonnay!
Sláinte! TCW

Take a moment

When enjoying a brilliant glass of wine my perspective can change. Moments move in slow motion. My senses are magnified. I experience each and every detail about the wine, the food, the music, and the people around me. Life is absolutely amazing. But don’t worry, I’ve only had one glass.

At times I get too caught up to really live life; worrying about my kids, my job, stressing out that I may never having enough time to get things done that I absolutely “have” to do. But this is what great wine does:  it takes you to another place, to another state of mind. And recently, La Rioja Alta S.A. “Vina Ardanza” Rioja Reserva 2001 took me to just such a moment.

This is a classic, but powerful Rioja from Haro in the Rioja Alta. The blend is mostly Tempranillo, with 20% made up with Garnacha gown in the Rioja Baja.  It is a beautifully colored wine with aromas of spice, wood, earth, fig, and an intoxicating balsamic. There is an intense acidity, balanced perfectly with rich fruit, and dusty complexity that transports you away.
Next time you need to take five, take a peek through your cellar, wine cabinet, or nearby fine wine retailer and find a bottle that can take you there.
Sláinte! TCW (with help from The Broke Wino)

Some pretty Magnificat wines

It’s pretty rewarding and an excellent learning opportunity when you can compare a wine that is similar, from the same vineyard, and only a year apart. It truly helps me identify what particular grape is offering to the wine itself. I went on a Franciscan Estate “Magnificat” exploration recently tasting their 2009 and 2010 vintages. Each retailing about $50 but definitely drinking like champs!

2009: 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Merlot, 5% Petite Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc, & 2% Malbec

·         Aromas- Vanilla, oak, spice, and dark chocolate.

·         Flavors- Rich fruit, blackberry, and hints of black pepper. This was incredibly smooth.

2010: 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, & 4% Petite Verdot

·         Aromas- Ripe plum, cocoa, and hints of vanilla.  

·         Flavors- Black cherry, juicy blackberries, cocoa, and rich tannins, and a long finish. Great velvety mouth feel.

There was subtle grape percentage differences between both wines but the 2009 stood out with 2 additional grapes. It was pretty cool to taste them side by side as I could taste what the Cab Franc and Malbec did to the 2009 (or at least I thought I could without the label already putting it in my brain). The 2010 seemed to have just a little (and I mean little) more body to it while the 2009 tasted a little softer. Both were complex in everything and were rather magnificent from aromas, flavors, and that long lasting finish! I really didn’t have a favorite but I will say BOTH tasted better the next day – a little bit of oxygen improved it even more.  You should try this for yourself. Buy some similar wines even if the only difference is in years and taste side by side. I promise it’s a cool experience. Sláinte! TCW

Let me be Franc

I love love LOVE Cabernet Franc! I love when they blend it and I love it when they don’t.  Did you know Cabernet Franc is kinda a Dad? Yep! He married Sauvignon Blanc and they both created Cabernet Sauvignon (hence its name). Well somewhat silly and there is more to the story but you get the idea…Cabernet Franc is lighter than the almighty Cabernet Sauvignon and generally has more finesse which makes it an excellent blending grape to more robust grapes.

I sampled the Terre Magre Cabernet Franc, 2012 from D.O.C. Friuli Grave, Northeast Italy towards Slovenia and Croatia. The area includes the gravelly, sandy, mineral-rich soil between Livenza and Tagliamento rivers.

Terre Magre Cabernet Franc, 2012 is a super fun, very interesting, and incredibly easy-going. In fact, this wine & I have a lot in common – I can utilize the same description for myself. The color is of medium deep ruby with a pretty violet reflection. It has aromas of herbs, black spice, and hints of pencil shavings. The Franc’s flavors were interesting with herbal notes showing through, black peppercorn, and ink. It almost reminded me of a Zinfandel with less strength. Good structure, smooth, and pretty delicious. Although this wine is difficult to find simply ask your wine retail store and let them know it’s from AlpentAl distributor. It retails for about $15 so it’s pretty darn affordable!

Sláinte! TCW

A Clean Slate

You may or may not have noticed but I was not in November’s edition of Glancer Magazine. At entirely my fault I could not pull the trigger to submit the piece I wrote. I don’t want to spend too much time discussing the reasons why but I will say I poured everything into it. I was just not satisfied with it (perhaps even nervous). Even after several days of editing I still could not get myself to submit the piece. So a month went by without an article from me. I have not missed a deadline ever since starting with Glancer, June 2010. Alas, I have now. That piece seemed to have almost killed me as I developed a case of writer’s block. The only thing I could do was to open up a bottle of wine…

Even though it was cold out I wanted a Riesling this particular Sunday, early afternoon. I sometimes forget what I have in my collection and stumbled on Clean Slate, 2012 Riesling from Mosel, Germany. I opened the Stelvin screw cap and immediately poured the 55 degree wine in my Riedel Riesling glass. As I poured rigorously I noticed several air bubbles collecting around the inside of the glass – mmmm yummy! This had huge aromas of lemon juice from concentrate, and I mean huge! Some powerful flavors followed including crisp lemon-lime, minerals, and the slightest hint of peach after I swirled this in my mouth. It was rather acidic for you “acid bomb” lovers out there. Retailing for only $10 a bottle it’s pretty darn affordable. Oh yea, and I guess this article came easy to me. I feel like I have a clean slate!
Sláinte! TCW