27 June, 2012

Super Napan! David Arthur's "Meritaggio"

"A bottled fusion of California and Tuscany"

Perhaps you are familiar with the term "Super Tuscan" which refers to Sangiovese-based wines blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals made by Tuscan wineries. Perhaps you are familiar with the names Gaja, Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Sondraia? They make premium, high-end Super Tuscans that are age-worthy, collectable and that will cost you a very pretty centavo. They are beautiful wines.

This type of blend is being done in Napa but, of course, they do things just the opposite by blending a small amount of Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon.

David Arthur 2008 Meritaggio Napa Valley
18% Sangiovese was blended with 75% Cabernet Sauvignon along with a bit of Petite Verdot and Cab Franc. The Sangiovese adds acidity to the fruit and tannic structure of the Cab making it a very food friendly Napa Cab. This wine has lots of red fruit and herbal notes with a silky, velvety texture. It is plain luscious.
Winemaker: Nile Zacherle $55

When you are ready to spend a pretty penny I recommend a visit to David Arthur and they are located on Pritchard Hill which neighbors Lake Hennesey and is very close to Chapellet. Talk about premium Napa Cabs...By appointment only. Go to www.davidarthur.com

20 June, 2012

One More #WBW78: Phoenix Ranch Viognier and Back Room Wines

Viognier is not normally a wine I seek out and I generally prefer it blended with other wonderful white Rhone varietals.  But this Wine Blogging Wednesday theme sent me to a local wine shop to find a good Viognier since I couldn't join the other Brix Chicks in their Viggy-fest.

And boy, did I luck out.  Dan Dawson, owner of Back Room Wines in downtown Napa, was pouring 2010 Phoenix Ranch Napa Valley Viognier as part of a “Wines Off The Grid” flight.  I loved it and took a bottle home.

Phoenix Ranch is a small production winery growing Viognier and Syrah in a single vineyard at the foot of Atlas Peak, one of the coolest parts of Napa Valley.  The Viognier is fermented in 100% stainless steel and aged sur lies for 10 months giving the wine some brightness and a little creamy finish without the oaky, sour, flatness other New World Viogniers can have sometimes.

The wine smelled of honey, green herbs (mint?), melon, the characteristic floral notes, and just a little funk.  In the mouth, it is very light bodied and lean with pretty stone and citrus fruit and honey undertones in the front and the characteristic floral notes in the mid palate.  As the wine warmed in the glass, peach flavors and smells became more prominent.  The wine is fresh, crisp, and bright without being acidic.  It played off beautifully with the sweetness and earthiness of the butternut squash-potato-leek soup I had for dinner.

Phoenix Ranch is the kind of winery that Back Room Wines specializes in—small, local producers, many of whom do not have their own tasting rooms.  The shop has been open for 10 years in downtown Napa and offers a quiet, individualized, educational tasting experience not normally experienced in the big Napa tasting rooms.  Neither tourists nor locals should pass it by and should instead duck in to explore and buy wines from off the beaten path.

#WBW78 Viognier, Viggy Or as we say vee-ohn-YAY!

Being generally amorous towards all things Rhone, this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday assignment gave us an opportunity to "Vig" out.  Apparently at the great wine blogger's conference of '11 the nickname "viggy" was foisted upon Viognier.  It is easier to say.  Although it doesn't as easily convey the exotic, floral, stone fruit redolent wine we love.  The BrixChicks, including a rare appearance by BrixChico, Vince, gathered various noshes, aromatic curry, chicken satay, prosciutto wrapped melon, cracked crab, spicy samosas and apricot tart, rolled up our sleeves and got our Viognier on.  The first wine I presented came from far off South Africa

2009 Spice Route Viognier, Swartland, South Africa  Hailing from the  Cape West Coast, Charles Back heads up the Spice Route team at the winery he founded in 1997.  They till the  Swartland soil without irrigation to get an expressive fruit.  This is left on the lees 11 months and aged in old french oak.  We found the wine to be a great pair for food.  It was a pretty light bronze color.  We got  muted aromas of nectarine and a hint of the orange peel much later.  The texture was medium full and very tart without the rampant aromas of flowers and stone fruit we expected.  We categorized it as food slutty because it worked so much better with food than without and proved itself a versatile pair to all the dishes on the table including plain cantaloupe. I found this at wine.com for $15.

Next up was one of my favorite producers in the world,

2010 Twisted Oak Viognier, Calaveras County,California,  USA : Jeff Stai and his Twisted team give the most fun parties and it is a super wine club to belong to.  This Viognier comes from the Dalton Vineyard.  Gold colored, the wine had balanced aromas of tropical notes with stone fruit.  I think my stone fruit exemplars might have been wafting over, because I got more nectarine and apricot as well as coconut.  The flavors were lovely and tart.  And while the wine was easy to sip alone, it was easy to pair with everything and was especially tasty with the peanut sauce dipped chicken satay.  Yummy!  This wine came in my club shipment and you can order it online for $15.  If you find yourself near Murphys, Twisted Oaks is a must visit for a wine sploshed fun filled good time.

And with all my posse gathered, I couldn't resist opening up

2009 Route 128 Viognier Opatz Family Vineyard, Yorkville Highlands, California USA    Route 128 is a true Mom and Pop place in the supercute town of Geyserville, where if you visit on an event day, Pete and Lorna will be working the counter and eager to share their wonderful wine.  Chances are a family member will be grilling house made sausages. Yum!  The real story is the wine.  The fruit for the limited production wine comes from the Yorkville Highlands, which are right between the Anderson and Alexander Valleys.  A pale gold color, the aromas were balanced between floral and stone fruit. A hint of yummy bitterness in the mid palate, along with that sprightly acidity made it pair well with all our east Indian and Asian snacks.  The website boasts that the wine will complement the creamiest of sauces.  So I am glad I have another bottle stashed away to pair with smoked salmon fettuccine Alfredo.  At $19 it is a great buy.  And another fun place to visit. Tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday 21079 Geyserville Avenue
Downtown Geyserville  707-696-0004

So another fun Wine Blogging Wednesday.  Our Viogniers ranged from restrained and make you strain to pick up the muted fruit all the way to blasting jasmine and peach.  But all the selections were tart, tasty and great to pair with food.  Call it Viggy.  Call it what you want, but don't call it late to dinner!

15 June, 2012

"Pinot Days" Are Here Again June 12th - 16th, 2012, Ft. Mason Center, SF, CA

Soon the Pinot Noir will be flowing from Willamette Valley to Santa Barbara County because it is time for Pinot Days. This festival showcases the many styles and makers of Pinot Noir. They have a grand tasting and educational seminars on this fickle yet bewitching grape. There will be 400 Pinots to try made by 200 producers. It is going to be an amazing party for Pinotphiles.

Here is the link to buy tickets to the Grand Tasting on June 16th: www.pinotdays.com

I am defintely going to be visiting these guys this year along with my new favorites Waits-Mast:

Jean Charles Boisset

Mr. T.R. Elliot

Suacci and Carciere (with the owner of District Wine Bar)

Ed Kurtzman of August West