11/27/2012

Concha y Toro’s Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Tasting


Hello Friends,

I recently had an opportunity to participate in Concha y Toro’s Gran Reserva Serie Riberas interactive webcast tasting on TasteLive. The Gran Reserva Serie Riberas, or “Riverbank Series,” is the latest addition to Concha y Toro’s portfolio and features several single-vineyard estate wines from Chile’s Colchagua Valley (Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc) and the Maule Valley (Syrah and Merlot). Each variety in this family of wines is grown in close proximity to one of the region’s major rivers (the Rapel, Cachapoal, the Tinguiririca, and the Maule). Combined with the area’s [maritime] climate and landscape, this produces an ideal winegrowing environment that’s moderated by the influence of the waterways.

 Gran Reserva Serie Riberas 2011 Sauvignon Blanc


Our tasting was led by Marcio Ramírez; who has been with Concha y Toro since 1997. Marcio is one of three winemakers on the Gran Reserva Serie Riberas team and is responsible for making Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec – varieties he is very familiar with. Marcio also spent time as assistant winemaker for the label’s well-known Don Melchor premium brand – which is named after the company’s founder, who with his wife founded the Concha y Toro Vineyard in 1883.

  Gran Reserva Serie Riberas Line-up


A little about Chile: While Chile is considered “New World,” its viticulture dates back to the mid-16th century. Chile is a long and narrow country that has ideal geography and conditions for growing (the more desirable) premium vitis vinifera wine grapes. The region is protected on all sides by way of the Andes Mountains, deserts, and oceans. And unlike the majority of wine regions, including the US and France (for example), Chile remains phylloxera free. For this reason, their vineyards can be planted with original rootstock as opposed to being grafted to phylloxera resistant rootstocks.

 Gran Reserva Serie Riberas 2010 Carménère 


In the 1800's, Carménère, a Bordeaux variety, was wiped out of Europe by this grape vine louse -- phylloxera. The grape was thought to be extinct until discovered in Chile in the early 1990’s with the help of DNA. Until then, Chileans thought the grape variety was a clone of Merlot and sold it as such. I’ve been told by Chilean growers that Carménère prefers being grown on its original rootstock and this is why you don’t see it much outside of Chile. Besides Carménère, the region grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc among other varieties. See the four wines we had an opportunity to taste and my notes below. All four selections, in my opinion, are well-made, personality-driven [single-vineyard] wines for every day enjoyment that delivered very good QPR across the board. Buy with confidence and enjoy, my friends.

 Corks Out, Ready to Sip!


1) Gran Reserva 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $15): This wine sports a nice fleshy texture, yet it’s sleek, with crisp and refreshing flavors of lime zest, hay, grass, and grapefruit with mineral undertones. This wine is palate, pocket and food friendly and is a nice wine to have around the house for the price. Click here to find this wine.

2) Gran Reserva 2011 Malbec (SRP $15) Lovely deep color showing black cherry, plum, and sweet tobacco scents with a soft and round, supple texture giving way to a pleasant medium length finish. This is a satisfying and enjoyable wine at the under $20 consumer sweet-spot. Click here to find this wine.

3) Gran Reserva 2010 Carménère (SRP $15): This 2010 Carménère is well-balanced and approachable with inviting aromas of black cherry, plum, violets, dried herbs and a dash of spice with slight leafy tinges towards the back end. On the palate, this wine is medium-bodied and savory with a food-friendly nature about it. Nice buy for $15. Click here to find this wine.

4) Gran Reserva 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $15): Smoothly textured palate, delectable tannins with blackberry, ripe plum and cassis aromas/flavors followed by a touch of cocoa powder in the lasting finish. Tasty juice that over delivers for the price. Click here to find this wine.

Click here to visit Concha y Toro's website.

Click here to visit TasteLive; a premiere online wine and beer tasting community.

Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come. Disclosure: This wine was received as a media sample. Thoughts are my own. Happy Sipping, my friends!

Standing atop the Lincoln Memorial #GreatView #DC


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11/20/2012

Hurray #Vouvray Part 2 with @LoireValleyWine


Hello Friends,

Coming off of an enjoyable and informative Vouvray Twitter event with the good folks at @TasteLive and @LoireValleyWine several weeks ago, I was eager to participate in Hurray #Vouvray Part 2. The first event, which featured a nice selection of still [Vouvray] wines ranging from crisp and dry to well-balanced and slightly sweet, expressed the many pleasant faces of the Chenin Blanc grape variety.

 Hurray #Vouvray Part 2 Tasting Line-up


Chenin Blanc is a versatile white wine grape variety known for its high acid levels, food-friendly nature, and good aging potential. It has been grown in Vouvray almost exclusively since the 4th century. So, the marriage between grape cultivar [Chenin Blanc] and Vouvray’s geographical landscape and climate is a long-lived and happy one. By law, Vouvray must be made of 100% Chenin Blanc.   

Sparkling Vouvray makes for a nice aperitif 


While South Africa, California, Washington State, and others do a respectable job growing and producing Chenin Blanc, it’s the [liquid] gem of Vouvray and is where the variety, in my opinion, reaches its highest peaks of expression. Its often times vibrant flavors can range from tree fruits (apple, pear) to stone fruits (apricot, peach) which are heightened by additional nuanced complexities of mineral, honey, ginger, and floral notes. Touches of tropical fruit can be detected in riper examples and sometimes even hay and nutty undertones.

Huet 2011 Haut-Lieu Sec


If you’re looking to invite a French guest over for Thanksgiving dinner, I recommend inviting a bottle of Vouvray to the table. Well-made examples can be rather charming, delicious, reasonably priced (under $20) and a very good partner to turkey and all the fixings. In closing, see my notes on the five wines we tasted for Hurray #Vouvray Part 2 below (I’ve include pictures of some of the bottles). Also, be sure to visit the Loire Valley Wines’ website to learn more about Vouvray and some of the area’s other classic wine regions.

 Foreau (Clo des Naudins) 2009 Vouvray Demi-Sec


1) Huet 2011 Haut-Lieu Sec (SRP $28, biodynamic): Refreshing and well-balanced showing pleasing melon and pear aromas with touches of almond and hay and a refreshing [citrus] zesty acidity. Here is a nice quote I found about the producer. "For anyone who worships at the church of Chenin Blanc, this is Pinguet's swansong wine." ~ PJWine on Huet. Click here to find this wine.

2) Gautier Benoit 2010 Vouvray Argilex (SRP $16): Spiced pear, honey, white flower undertones and subtle mineral notes with middling acidity -- soft, slightly rounded texture, pleasant medium length finish. Click here to find this wine.

3) Foreau (Clo des Naudins) 2009 Vouvray Demi-Sec ($30): Pleasantly sweet selection offering honeyed apricot and melon aromas with a fairly rich texture and nice balancing acidity with appealing nuanced tropical flavors and a lip-smacking fruity finish. This is the perfect mate for spicy ethnic food in my opinion. Click here to find this wine.

 Francois Pinon 2005 Cuvee Botrytis


4) Vincent Careme 2010 Brut Cuvee (SRP $20): Bright and refreshing with vibrant lemon/citrus aromas/flavors and a faint mineral character with just a touch of yeast. This wine is fun, lively, and proof that sparkling wine isn't just for special occasions. It keeps the balance between sweetness and acidity, stays fresh on the palate, and is very food-friendly. I enjoyed a glass with sashimi. Click here to find this wine.

5) Francois Pinon 2005 Cuvee Botrytis (SRP $45): Not labeled as such, but this nobly sweet and delicious selection would likely fall under the Moëlleux sweetness level. It offers rich and inviting aromas of honey, floral perfume, dried stone fruit, and lush tropical notes. Good depth of flavor with a fuller-bodied mouth-feel whose sugars are balanced by fine supporting acidity. Nice after-dinner sipper that can be enjoyed as the dessert itself or try pairing it with blue veined cheese, foie-gras, cream based desserts or cheese cake. Click here to find this wine.

Vincent Careme 2010 Brut Cuvee



Tip: For you “Grape Hunters” … you likely won’t find Chenin Blanc on the label, so just seek out Vouvray [the region]. Chenin Blanc is all they really do! Cheers!

Click here to to visit Loire Valley Wines website and learn more about Vouvray.

Click here to visit TasteLive; a premiere online wine and beer tasting community.

Click here to review my post from Hurray #Vouvray Part 1.

Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come. Disclosure: This wine was received as a media sample. Thoughts are my own. Happy Sipping, my friends!

In addition to sipping, I enjoy swinging! LOL


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11/13/2012

#NVFF Blogger Tasting with CellarPass


Hello Friends,

I was recently invited by the good people at CellarPass to be one of their ‘Bloggers in the Field’ as part of the 2nd annual Napa Valley Film Festival (#NVFF). CellarPass is a fast-growing online destination where you can explore, book, and share wine country experiences with other enthusiasts. Part of their participation in the #NVFF was back-to-back days of virtual wine tastings with Boisset Family Estate and Mumm Napa. Sarah Elliman of @CellarPass and host Alan Kropf, President of @MutineerMag – a national fine beverage print magazine, kicked off the festivities with Ron Lee of @MummNapaWinery. Mumm Napa, originally founded in the mid-to-late 1980’s by the Champagne House of G.H. Mumm and partners, is a Napa Valley, California producer that specializes in sparkling wines made using the méthode traditionelle process.

 Mumm Napa 2007 Blanc de Blancs


For the event, we poured the Mumm Napa 2007 Blanc de Blancs. This sparkling selection was thoroughly enjoyed by all my guests and paired nicely with our bacon wrapped scallops appetizer. “Quite tasty,” said one of my friends – the Mumm Napa Blanc de Blancs is clean and dry and offers refreshing acidity with vibrant green apple and citrus fruit aromas/flavors that are complemented by a touch of yeasty bread and a pinch of lemon peel and mineral in the crisp finish. I saw this selection on “wine searcher” for an average price of $26, which in my opinion, is in the ball-park for a nicely done sparkling wine made using the classic method. If, for some odd reason, you reserve bubbly for special occasions, then I hope you have a lot of special occasions throughout the calendar year. Don’t forget – sparkling wines are affordable and some of the most food-friendly wines you can pour. [Click here to watch the video clip with Ron Lee and host Alan Kropf]

The second wine we poured was the Raymond Vineyards’ 2009 Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Raymond Vineyards was founded in the 1970’s and purchased in 2009 by Jean-Charles Boisset, president of Boisset Family Estates. During the live broadcast, we had an opportunity to meet with Stephanie Putnam, who is the Director of Winemaking at @RaymondVineyard. Stephanie, much like other Napa Valley and Sonoma County wine-growers I’ve had a chance to talk to recently, says the 2012 growing season has been phenomenal. Stephanie commented that, “You really had to work hard to make a bad wine in 2012.” The 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was one of the first wines Stephanie made under the new ownership -- and since the purchase, Stephanie and crew have done things behind the scene in the vineyard and winery to take the wines to the next level.

 Raymond 2009 Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


In the glass, the Raymond Vineyards’ 2009 Reserve Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon sports a lovely deep purple color with rich and inviting dark cherry and mixed berry aromas with hints of cedar and sweet spice and just a light dusting of cocoa powder. The palate is smooth, fairly ripe, and fruit-focused with middling acidity, a velvety/rounded texture, delectable tannins and a pleasant medium-length finish. This wine retails for $35 but I’ve seen it in mid $20’s and anything you find between those two price points is fair for the overall quality of the wine in my opinion. [Click here to watch the video clip with Stephanie Putnam and host Alan Kropf]

For day two, we were joined by Jean-Charles Boisset; who sports a personality as bright as the refreshing acidity in the Mumm Napa 2007 Blanc de Blancs mentioned earlier. His company, Boisset Family Estates, is one of the leading family-owned wine companies with some pretty well-known names in its portfolio. We poured the Raymond Vineyards’ 2008 Generations Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Named for the Raymond family's five generations of wine-making in the Napa Valley; the Generations is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the best barrels across several estate sites in St. Helena, Rutherford, and Oakville appellations. The wine offers ripe and inviting up-front dark red fruit with layered flavors and complex nuances with a succulent texture and polished tannins leading to a smooth lasting finish. At 15.6% ABV, it pulls off a wonderful balancing act and opens up nicely after an hour or so decanting.

 Raymond 2008 Generations Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


Raymond produced 1,100 cases of this juice and it sells for $85-$100 per bottle. There is no doubt that the juice is tasty, but price becomes personal at this point for some. I know people who will purchase $200 tennis shoes but won't spend over $20 on a bottle of wine. Tip: Over time, I’ve found that the best way to try out more expensive wines is to form a tasting group. Have everyone toss $20-$30 in a hat and share a bottle or two among 4-5 people. There truly is strength in numbers – and the potential for new experiences and delicious wines. In closing, not only were the wines and interviews very good, but all the #NVFF talk about the new wine documentary “Somm”, which traces several aspiring sommeliers, has me eager to see it. Keep an eye out for the new movie and have a grape day. Cheers! [Click here to watch the video clip with Jean-Charles Boisset and host Alan Kropf].

Click here to check out the CellarPass website.

Click here to visit Mumm Napa's website.

Click here to visit Boisset Family Estates' website.

Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come. Disclosure: This wine was received as a media sample. Thoughts are my own.

Happy Sipping, my friends ...  from the DC Reflecting Pool! 


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11/05/2012

#TGTaste w/ Bonterra Vineyards & @BeAThirstyGirl


Hello Friends,

I recently had an opportunity to participate in another fun-filled #TGTaste Twitter chat and virtual tasting with the wine-loving ladies at @BeAThirstyGirl. The tasting was sponsored by Bonterra Vineyards; a California-based producer located in Mendocino County, which is located north of San Francisco. Since 1987, Bonterra Vineyards has farmed and produced wine from 100% certified organic grapes. Which, @BonterraWine says, and correctly so, “is long before it was a popular idea.” Bonterra Vineyards’ winemaker Bob Blue adds, “We have learned that only organically grown grapes can express the purity and intensity of varietal character that a truly great wine requires.” Bonterra is probably one of the largest producers of organic wine grapes and currently makes eleven different varietal wines. For this tasting event, we poured their recently released 2011 Bonterra Mendocino County Chardonnay (SRP $13.99) and 2010 Bonterra Mendocino County Merlot (SRP $15.99).

 @BonterraWine Tasting Line-Up


These two selections, in my opinion, are good everyday wines for the money – below the $20 consumer sweet-spot. Both are well-made, approachable, uncomplicated -- yet satisfying, selections that would partner well with a wide variety of foods – particularly the Chardonnay which has a nice brightness (acidity) about it.

The verdict is still out on alternative closures and I noticed that the Chardonnay uses a screw top while the Merlot was enclosed with cork. This makes sense to me actually – match the style of your wine with the enclosure you feel serves the wine and your consumer the best. During the virtual chat, @BonterraWine touched on this, tweeting, “We love using a screw cap for our white wines ... keeps it really fresh” and “Cork for the reds because we believe the cork allows the wine to develop and mature a bit better than a screw cap.”

During the event, we enjoyed southern fried catfish with the Chardonnay and grilled meats with the Merlot – though pizza and red sauce dishes may have served the Merlot better in my opinion. In closing, check the wine section of stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes (and I’m sure there are many more) to find the latest offerings from Bonterra Vineyards. See my tweets (brief tasting notes) below about both wines and have a grape day, my friends. Cheers!

Click here to learn more about Bonterra Vineyards.

@BonterraWine 2011 Mendocino County #Chardonnay … Baked pear, spiced apple, pie crust, bright citrus zest married w/ a nice nuttiness/toasty quality.

@BonterraWine 2011 Mendocino County #Chardonnay … Good mouth-feel and viscosity, short-med length finish w/ a touch of spice and vanilla. Good quality-to-price ratio at $13.

@BonterraWine 2011 Mendocino County #Merlot … Delightfully approachable w/ aromas/flavors of black cherry, raspberry, spiced accents, and cedar with a pleasant short-med finish.

 Fall splendor in my corner of the world (Virginia)


Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come. Disclosure: This wine was received as a media sample. Thoughts are my own.

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

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11/01/2012

Hurray #Vouvray with @LoireValleyWine


Hello Friends,

I recently had an opportunity to participate in Hurray #Vouvray; an enlightening and enjoyable Twitter tasting event put on by the good folks at @TasteLive and @LoireValleyWine. This tasting was designed to celebrate the classic Chenin Blanc wines of Vouvray. Located in the central part of the Loire Valley, this classic wine region has been growing Chenin Blanc, almost exclusively, since the 4th century. Unfortunately, Vouvray, in my opinion, is an under-appreciated white wine that’s not well known to the average consumer. But, given the region’s potential to express the many pleasant faces of Chenin Blanc in the glass, its food-friendly nature, and overall good price-to-quality ratio – it deserves to be appreciated and better known.

 Hurray #Vouvray Tasting Line-Up


The Chenin Blanc grape variety, in some ways, reminds me of Riesling; not so much in flavor/aroma profile, but both are naturally high in acidity and capable of producing a wide range of styles from crisp and dry, lightly sweet and balanced, to rich and complex dessert wines. Also, like a well-made Riesling, Vouvray is one of the few white wines, in large part due to its firm acid structure, that can age well (i.e., get more interesting in the bottle, not just holding on). Besides still wines, in especially cooler years, Vouvray is known for its sparkling wines which are generally reasonably priced, quite tasty, and made using the méthode traditionelle process (developed in Champagne).

Domaine Bourillon Dorleans Vouvray Sec 2010



Vouvray has four levels of sweetness – which you won’t always find on the label. Even the driest can come off as lightly sweet, but is usually nicely balanced by Chenin Blanc’s high acid levels. From dry to sweet the levels are: Sec, Demi-Sec, Moelleux, and Doux. Whether you’re in the mood for something dry and refreshing, lightly sweet and balanced or dessert in the glass – your homework for this post is to get familiar with this wine region and try some of the wine it produces.

Domaine des Aubuisieres Vouvray Sec ‘’Cuvée Silex’’ 2011


While South Africa, California, Washington State, and others do a respectable job with Chenin Blanc, it has been the gem of Vouvray for centuries and the region does a nice job expressing the grape’s charm and diversity. See my tweets (aka brief notes) about the wines we tasted below -- all showed well and expressed the grape's diversity. And, be sure to visit the Loire Valley Wines’ website to learn more about Vouvray and some of the area’s other classic [and ancient] wine regions. Happy Sipping, my friends!

 Fall splendor along my walking trail ...


Tip: For you “Grape Hunters” … you likely won’t find Chenin Blanc on the label; just seek out Vouvray [the region] – Chenin Blanc is all they really do! Cheers!

Click here to visit Loire Valley Wines website and learn more about Vouvray.

1) Marc Bredif Sec Vouvray 2010: Waxy texture, fig, earthy mineral flavors, nice depth and focus, lasting finish - as much interesting as it is enjoyable. (SRP $17)

2) Domaine Bourillon Dorleans Vouvray Sec ‘’Coulée d’Argent’’ 2010: Pear, ginger and scents of hay and white flowers w/ a perceptible sweetness that’s nicely balanced by vibrant acidity. (SRP $18)

3) Domaine des Aubuisieres Vouvray Sec ‘’Cuvée Silex’’ 2011: Pleasing tree fruit and white stone fruit flavors w/ a touch of honey and mineral undertones that’s nicely textured and well-balanced. (SRP $18)

4) François Chidaine Vouvray Sec ‘’Argiles’’ 2011: Fresh and well-balanced with a nice acid core; waxy texture with ginger and citrus flavors and a pleasing honeysuckle edge. (SRP $18)

5) Domaine Champalou 2010 Vouvray [Sec] Drier style with tree fruit and slight mineral accents w/ fresh, tangy acidity and a clean med length finish. (SRP $16.99)


Have a question about this post, friends? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com, and as always, Happy Sipping! Stay tuned ...more to come. Disclosure: This wine was received as a media sample. Thoughts are my own.

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

My Vine Spot

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Happy Sipping Friends - Tell your friends about the blog and thanks for your support and kind emails !

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