7/29/2013

Santa Barbara Sipping II with Palmina Winery, Fontes & Phillips, and Summerland Winery


Hello Friends,

This is the follow-up post to a recent Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association virtual #winechat event I was tapped to participate in. You can find reviews of the first three wines I had an opportunity to taste here. In this post, I will echo some of the same thoughts/factoids about the region with reviews of the remaining wines. This tasting featured six relatively small-production and pleasing white wines that were all ripe for summertime sipping and perfect companions to a wide variety of (warm-weather) foods. Santa Barbara is located in southern California; approximately 90 miles north of Los Angeles, and is an overall cool-climate wine growing appellation with some warmer areas further inland.
Santa Barbara #Wine Sipping !!!!


The Santa Barbara wine region boasts four AVA’s (Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills and Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara), over 100 wineries, and more than 20K acres of vine plantings. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah lead the way in plantings, but according to specs sent over by the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association, over 65 grape varieties are planted to this diversified wine growing appellation. In my experience with the region’s wines -- both white and red, I have more times than not, found them to have an appealing (and food-friendly) built-in brightness and elegance. I presume this defining characteristic is largely influenced by the appellation's cool-climate which serves to preserve the natural acidity and freshness in the berries. Even some of the more ripe and sizeable selections from Santa Barbara that I have been able to find on store shelves here have generally had a much appreciated levity and vibrancy about them. Below are the three wines I had an opportunity to sample accompanied by my tasting notes and a picture I snapped of each bottle. Variety, so they say, is the spice of life; so, keep an open mind and an open palate and enjoy the experience. Drink well my friends!

Palmina Winery 2011 Arneis


1) Palmina Winery Honea Vineyard 2011 Arneis (SRP $20): Arneis is an ancient grape variety that hails from the Roero hills of Italy's famed Piemonte region. Its name translates to “little rascal,” which reflects its tendency to be difficult in the vineyard and cellar in Italy. For a few of my guest, this was their first experience with Arneis -- and they found this example both interesting and delicious. Therefore, I suspect the folks in the Santa Ynez Valley have tamed it a bit. Satisfying and succulent, this wine shows fresh (yet subtle) tree fruit, exotic spice, and white flower aromas/flavors wrapped around a firm acid spine. The wine is nicely balanced and nuanced with a fleshy texture and medium-length finish. One of my friends said this was one of the most interesting white wines they recall tasting in quite some time. (Other info: ABV 13.5%, indigenous yeast fermentation, combo of neutral oak and stainless for a year, additional six months in bottle prior to release). Click here to find this wine.

Fontes & Phillips 2010 Sauvignon Blanc


2) Fontes & Phillips Wines 2010 Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $18): Fontes & Phillips is a small-production boutique winery started by husband and wife duo, Alan Phillips and Rochelle Fontes-Phillips. They specialize in single-vineyard wines from Santa Barbara County vineyards. The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc is sourced from the Santa Ynez Valley and shows soft melon and citrus fruit scents and flavors with muted floral notes. The palate is pure and fresh with a vibrant mineral acidity that persists through to the wine’s clean and crisp medium-length finish. This wine, in my humble opinion, is one to enjoy now (whilst in its youth) with summertime fare and good friends. The wine’s wonderful acidity and fresh yet delicate flavors gives it the ability to saddle up with a wide variety of foods without being overpowering. Seafood and/or shellfish are high on my list of best matches. (Other info: ABV 13.8%, 100% Stainless, cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

Summerland Winery 2012 Chardonnay 


3) Summerland Winery 2012 Sierra Madre Chardonnay (SRP $35): Summerland Winery is a boutique producer specializing in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Central Coast of California. This Chardonnay is fresh and focused exhibiting flinty green apple and vibrant citrus fruit (namely pink grapefruit) aromas tinged with tropical accents. Bright acid frames a semi-rich texture with a clean and lengthy citrus finish. Overall, this a lively and tasty Chardonnay that sips nicely on its own that can also partner up to a wide range of (summertime) foods. Approximately 150 cases of this wine were produced. (Other info: ABV 14.1%, natural cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

Happy Summertime Sipping, my friends! 


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 provided for an event. Thoughts are my own.

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My Vine Spot

7/23/2013

Santa Barbara Sipping with Baehner Fournier Vineyards, Imagine Wine, and Brewer-Clifton Wine


Hello Friends,

I was recently tapped to participate in the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association first-ever virtual #winechat event. The tasting featured six relatively small-production and pleasing white wines that were all ripe for summertime sipping and perfect companions to a wide variety of (warm-weather) foods. Santa Barbara is located in southern California; approximately 90 miles north of Los Angeles, and is an overall cool-climate wine growing appellation with some warmer areas further inland.

 Having a Splash of Imagine Viognier


The Santa Barbara wine region boasts four AVA’s (Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills and Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara), over 100 wineries, and more than 20K acres of vine plantings. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Syrah lead the way in plantings, but according to specs sent over by the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association, over 65 grape varieties are planted to this diversified wine growing appellation. In my experience with the region’s wines -- both white and red, I have usually found an appealing (and food-friendly) built-in brightness and elegance. I presume this defining characteristic is largely influenced by the appellation's cool-climate which serves to preserve the natural acidity and freshness in the berries. Below are three of the six wines I had an opportunity to sample accompanied by my tasting notes and a picture I snapped of each bottle. Part II of this delightful tasting will be posted next week. Variety, so they say, is the spice of life; so, keep an open mind and an open palate and enjoy the experience. Drink well my friends!

Baehner Fournier Vineyards 2012 Sauvignon Blanc


1) Baehner Fournier Vineyards 2012 Sauvignon Blanc (SRP $20): This is a small family-owned winery in the Santa Ynez Valley that specializes in estate-grown Bordeaux-styled wines. This Sauvignon Blanc was sourced from the Vogelzang Vineyard in Santa Barbara’s Happy Canyon appellation (the region’s furthest inland wine growing area and the warmest). It’s fresh and snappy with crisp acidity framing vibrant melon, lemongrass, shy herbal notes, and pink grapefruit aromas/flavors with a welcomed brightness that persists throughout. This is summertime in a bottle with nice texture and a clean, medium-length finish. I enjoyed it by itself and with a plate of bacon-wrapped sea scallops. (Other info: ABV 13.5%, aged 6 months in neutral French oak with occasional lees stirring, natural cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

Imagine Wine 2010 Viognier


2) Imagine Wine and Art Gallery 2010 Pearl Paradise Mountain Viognier (SRP $24): This wine is fresh and focused with delicate stone fruit, honeysuckle, and floral aromas that are accented with fennel seeds and underlying muted dried herbal components. Round and fleshy, the wine carries a nice weight with balanced acidity and a pleasant medium-length finish. Approximately 50% of this wine was placed in new French oak barrels for 10 to 12 weeks. The oak comes through more so in the texture and mouth-feel than the wine’s aromas and flavors. The attractive and eye-catching artwork is a 1940’s painting by Hollywood artist, Geza Kendel. Less than 90 cases of this wine were produced. (Other info: ABV 14.3%, full malolactic fermentation, cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

Brewer-Clifton Gnesa Sta. Rita Hills 2010 Chardonnay


3) Brewer-Clifton Gnesa Sta. Rita Hills 2010 Chardonnay (SRP $48): Brewer-Clifton is a small producer in Santa Barbara’s Santa Rita Hills that specializes in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This Chardonnay is expressive, pure, and moderately complex, showing an inviting array of citrus fruit aromas and flavors alongside honeydew and lemon peel with appealing (underlying) mineral notes and a touch of sea salt. While showing some richness in the mouth, the texture is racy with a bright, zesty acidity and a nice mouth-watering, tangy finish. Overall, this was a pleasing wine with good depth of flavor and length that my guests and I enjoyed. Approximately 290 cases of this wine were produced. (Other info: ABV 14.2%, natural cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

“Will pose for thistle seed,” says the American Goldfinch.


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 provided for an event. Thoughts are my own.

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My Vine Spot

7/16/2013

Recent Sips: Murrieta's Well the Whip, the Spur, and Los Tesoros White Meritage


Hello Friends,

I recently had a chance to join the good folks at Charles Communication along with fifth generation winemaker, Karl Wente, for an interactive virtual tasting that showcased a few newly released wines from Murrieta's Well. Murrieta's Well is a historic winery located in the heart of California’s Livermore Valley. The property, founded in 1883 by Louis Mel, was purchased by the Wente family and resurrected in 1990 by Phillip Wente. Today, Murrieta's Well specializes in sustainably farmed small-lot wines and estate blends that I have found pleasing over the past few years.

A Trio from Murrieta's Well


With the exception of the White Meritage, a tasting room exclusive, you may be able to find the Spur and the Whip at your local wine shop – so ask around. These two Livermore-grown blends are a good one-two punch to invite to your next backyard barbeque. The white blend makes for a nice aperitif wine while the red blend could saddle up to anything from grilled burgers to baby backs. See my wine reviews below and get some of this Livermore Valley juice in your glass this summer. Drink well my friends. Cheers! 

Murrieta's Well The Whip 2012


1) Murrieta's Well The Whip 2012 (SRP $19): This is a refreshing and aromatic kitchen sink white blend (8 grape varieties) composed of 43% Chardonnay, 15% Gewurztraminer, 13% Sauvignon Blanc, 9% Orange Muscat, 8% Viognier, 5% Pinot Blanc, 4% Semillon, and 3% Muscat Canelli. Ripe stone fruit, citrus zest, and white flowers lead the way with lingering orange peel and honeysuckle notes. The aromas extend to the palate with fresh fruit flavors that are balanced by vibrant, food-partnering acidity leading to a fruit-driven medium-length finish. Overall, this is a light, crisp, and bright wine that has summertime sipping written all over it. I enjoyed it on its own tonight and with a roasted garlic white sauce flat bread pizza. (Other info: ABV 13%, screw cap enclosure, 277 barrels produced, stainless/neutral oak fermentation and maturation). Click here to find this wine.

Murrieta’s Well The Spur 2011


2) Murrieta’s Well The Spur 2011 (SRP $25): This is an accessible, fruit forward (kitchen sink) red blend composed of 31% Petite Sirah, 29% Petit Verdot, 27% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Dark (red) berry fruit and plum scents start the ball rolling followed by spice, cedar, anise, and toasted cocoa nibs. The aromas echo on the palate with balanced acidity and a round, soft texture leading to a medium-length finish laced with a dusting of black pepper. With the seasonal warmth of summer upon us, this is a nice red to have ready to go when you pull the burgers off of the grill. (Other info: ABV 13.5%, screw cap enclosure, 425 barrels produced). Click here to find this wine. 

Murrieta's Well Los Tesoros 2011 White Meritage


3) Murrieta's Well Los Tesoros 2011 White Meritage (SRP $28): This is a tasty blend consisting of 63% Sauvignon Blanc and 37% Semillon that was barrel fermented in a combination of French and Eastern European oak. It shows aromas and flavors of ripe stone fruit, melon, and soft floral notes with a delicate hint of brown spice that’s supported by a good spine of acid. The Semillon provides a touch of weight and richness on the palate while the Sauvignon Blanc delivers a colorful personality and turns the brightness up a notch. When done right, as with this example, these two grape varieties complement each other quite nicely. Approximately 500 cases of this wine were produced. (Other info: Barrel aged for 11 months, ABV 13.4%, cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine. 

Fire Up the Grill and Enjoy these Wines! 


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 provided for an event. Thoughts are my own.

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My Vine Spot

7/08/2013

A Trio of Chardonnays: Rodney Strong Vineyards, Noble Hill, and Domaine Séguinot-Bordet

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 blogger, and someone who thoroughly appreciates and enjoys the liquid expression of a place, a person’s vision, and Mother Nature’s influence -- I find wine to be one of the most intriguing beverages in the world. It’s a hobby where there is always something new to taste and learn as well as great "wine peeps" to meet in real life or via those wonderful and time-consuming social media portals called Facebook and Twitter.

Bird-watching and Sipping Chablis


I recently enjoyed a trio of Chardonnays -- a wine that's hugely popular in the US and the world’s most widely planted white grape variety. Chardonnay is extremely versatile and is capable of producing a broad range of styles from crisp and clean to round and lush with a buttery richness that’s heightened by extended oak aging. Chardonnay’s mass appeal is largely founded in its diversity and ability to pair wonderfully with a full spectrum of foods. Below are three reasonably priced and tasty Chardonnay wines accompanied by my tasting notes and a picture I snapped of each bottle. Variety, so they say, is the spice of life; so, keep an open mind and an open palate and enjoy the experience. Drink well my friends!

Rodney Strong Vineyards 2011 Chalk Hill Chardonnay 


1) Rodney Strong Vineyards' 2011 Chalk Hill Chardonnay (SRP $22): Apple, citrus zest, and melon combine with hints of toasted oak, underlying brown spice, and vanilla bean notes. The palate is nicely textured with a full mouth-feel while maintaining vibrant acidity and a tangy, spice-driven medium-length finish. This Chardonnay is enjoyable on its own and would also pair well with anything from grilled fish to smoked white meats. Rodney Strong’s Chalk Hill Chardonnay offers good quality-price ratio from year-to-year and this vintage can be found on wine-searcher for under $15 – a price point that won’t break your piggy bank.  (Other info: 95% fermented in French oak barrels, aged 13 months, full malolactic fermentation, ABV 14.5%, cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

Noble Hill Wine Estate 2010 Chardonnay


2) Noble Hill Wine Estate [South Africa] 2010 Chardonnay (SRP $17): Spicy pear, lemon zest, honeysuckle, and melon, softly framed by sweet toasted oak and a dash of butterscotch. This medium-bodied Chardonnay strikes a nice balance between fruit and oak with a touch of richness and a pleasant brightness that persists from start to finish. Smoked salmon rolls proved to be a good match and cellar temperature (55°) brings out all of the wine’s charms. (Other info: ABV 13.8%, cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

Domaine Seguinot Bordet Premier Cru Chablis


3) Domaine Séguinot-Bordet Premier Cru Fourchaume 2010 Chablis (SRP $23): An appealing mix of lemon zest, citrus peel, chamomile, and a citronella like component on a slender frame with subtle mineral accents and a solid core of refreshing acidity leading to a pleasant, medium-length finish. Overall, this is a moderately complex and vibrant example of Chardonnay (for the money) from the northernmost sub-region of Burgundy, France. This appellation has had centuries to perfect their craft and expressive wines made from the Chardonnay grape variety is their specialty (I'm only mentioning this because some Chardonnay lovers do not know about Chablis). I enjoyed this wine both on its own and with a grilled shrimp and spinach salad. (Other info: ABV 12.5-13%, cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

Black-capped ‎Chickadee getting ready for takeoff


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: The Rodney Strong wine was provided for review. Thoughts are my own.

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My Vine Spot

7/01/2013

Summertime Sipping: Lodi Rosé with Onesta Wines, Sorelle Winery, and McCay Cellars

Hello Friends,

I know you would never believe this, but I uncork or unscrew a new wine adventure just about every day. Being a wine enthusiast, a wine blogger, and someone who thoroughly appreciates and enjoys the liquid expression of a place, a person’s vision, and Mother Nature’s influence, I often tell people that wine is one of the most intriguing beverages in the world. It’s a hobby where there is always something new to taste and learn as well as great people to meet in real life or via those wonderful social media portals called Facebook and Twitter.

 Cheers to Rosé!


I had a chance to review a few nice pink wines for a recent #LodiLive Rosé event put on by Charles Communications and Lodi Wine (aka LoCA). Rosé wines are synonymous with summer and their versatility, particularly drier examples, make them a good match for a wide range of foods – especially light summertime fare. Below are three nice selections from the Lodi appellation (Central Valley of California) accompanied by my tasting notes and a picture I snapped of each bottle. All of these wines are small production; therefore, the best place to find a bottle is the producer’s tasting room or website. Variety, so they say, is the spice of life; so, keep an open mind and an open palate and enjoy the experience. Drink well my friends!

Onesta Wines 2012 Cinsault Rosé


1) Onesta Wines Bechthold Vineyard 2012 Cinsault Rosé (SRP $18): The fruit for this wine was sourced from Bechthold Vineyard --Lodi’s oldest continuously farmed (25 acre) vineyard that was originally planted in 1886. In the glass, this wine exhibits a delightfully vibrant mix of fresh red berry fruits -- particularly strawberry, with tropical undertones and refreshing acidity leading to a crisp and clean finish. Overall, this is a bright, easy-drinking, and well-balanced Rosé that drinks nicely on its own (especially on a warm summer day) and is also the perfect accompaniment to a wide variety of warm weather/picnic fare. Approximately 300 cases of this wine were produced. (Other info: 50% Saignée method, 50% fruit picked with the intention to make a Rosé, 80% stainless / 20% neutral fermented, aged on lees for 6 months, ABV 13.5%, cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

Sorelle Winery “Bella e Rosa” Rosado


2) Sorelle Winery “Bella e Rosa” 2012 Rosado (SRP $16): This is a refreshing blend of 50% Sangiovese and 50% Barbera that's ripe for summertime sipping. In the glass, the wine shows a soft but bright red berry fruit profile with a hint of sweetness and a bit of richness that rounds everything out nicely. I recommend pairing a bottle of this Rosé with a warm summer day, good company and fine nibbles. Approximately 200 cases of this wine were produced. (Other info: Partial ML, aged 6 months in neutral oak, ABV 14%, cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

McCay Cellars 2012 Rosé 



3) McCay Cellars' 2012 Rosé (SRP $18): This is a dry and lively Rosé made from 102 year old Carignane vines and Grenache. A medium salmon color, the wine opens with inviting aromas of fresh strawberries, cherry blossom, ripe citrus fruit, soft stone fruit, and a touch of white pepper. The aromas echo on the palate with bright acidity over a slender frame and a medium-length fruity finish. Overall, this is a tasty, well-made and appealing food-friendly pink wine that has ‘summertime sipping’ written all over it. Approximately 211 cases of this wine were produced. (Other info: Carignane-based blend, native yeast fermentation, produced in stainless steel, ABV 12.4%, cork enclosure). Click here to find this wine.

Something else synonymous with summer: Butterflies!


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 provided for an event. Thoughts are my own.

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

My Vine Spot

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