22 June, 2009

Pinot Noir #4 - Lucienne of Santa Lucia Highlands

Lucienne 2006 Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands Doctor's Vineyard 14.5% alc.

(We continue to explore the world of Pinot Noirs in honor of Pinot Days, SF, 2009. See Pinots 1-3 below.)

Okay, I am still in California, but I've moved south from the Russian River Valley to the Santa Lucia Highlands. Great move! The Pinot Noirs here are quite a change.

The Santa Lucia Highlands are located south of Monterey in the foothills of the Salinas River Valley. It has one of the longest growing seasons in all of the California AVAs due to unique climatic features of the area. Simply put, that means the grapes stay longer on the vine and develop more flavors and acidity before being harvested. This has become one of the outstanding CA. growing regions for Pinot Noir.

A voluptuous Pinot Noir sounds like an oxymoron but that is how I would describe this luscious Pinot. It does not look like a Pinot. It is a dark ruby color. When you sniff it you get red fruits, especially dark cherry, but there are richer aromas like burnt marshmallow, caramel, ginger bread, oak and baking spices. This Pinot is almost full-bodied and has notes of sandalwood and cocoa on the long finish. This Pinot is defintely ageable as it has generous amount of acidity. I would love to taste this in about 5 years as it softens. Retail price: $35 on the Hahn website.

For more information go to http://www.hahnfamilywines.com

21 June, 2009

Pinot Noir #3 - More Russian River Pinot Noir

2007 L'Angevin Pinot Noir Russian River Valley

Sophisticated yet crowd-pleasing

I just cannot seem to leave the Russian River Valley with such delicious offerings of Pinot Noir (see Pinot #2.) L'Angevin is the project of winemakers Alan Peirson and Robbie Meyer, whose acquaintance I made at the Acme Atelier Portfolio tasting in March of 2009. This Pinot Noir had just been released and I was very pleased to be able to taste it.

This garnet-toned Pinot is filled with aromas of red fruit, especially red raspberry with slight notes of oak, earth and cocoa. On the palate this medium-bodied wine is soft yet juicy and fills the mouth with bright fruit, food-friendly acidity and a little sweetness. The wine is barrell-aged for 15 months (sur lees) and 40% new oak was used.

Pinot Noir can be a very serious wine, or a food wine, but the L'Angevin Pinot Noir is a juicy, fruity party wine that would appeal to a lot of different palates, especially those who maybe don't drink a lot of red wine. Retail for a 750mL bottle is $44.
Visit www.langevinwines.com for more information.

20 June, 2009

Pinot Noir #2 of "Around the World in Pinot Noir" - Russian River

Gehring Sasser 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ~ 13.6% alcohol

"Delicate, pure expression of Russian River Fruit"

I love to support locally-made wines. There is a new Pinot Noir on the radar that is vinted right here in Berkeley, CA at Donkey and Goat Winery, made by Charles Gehring and Brad Sasser. These former "Garagistes" have gone public and this 2007 Pinot Noir is their first release to the Pinot Noir-loving public!

The grapes are 50% Dijon and 50% Pommard clones. They use a very non-invasive approach to vinification. They lightly prep the fruit for fermentation, all the juice is free-run and they do not do "cold-soaking" of the grapes. The juice is aged in 2-3 year old oak barrels. These winemakers are truly concerned with the elegance and pure expression of the grapes.

Russian River Pinot Noirs have always seemed soft and light to me and this Pinot Noir is no exception. The color is a light garnet with a medium garnet core. The nose is "perfumey" with notes of violets and rose petals. I also got a whiff of kerosene and strawberry. As for the palate, this is a silky, light-bodied wine with some red fruit. It is not tannic, not oaky, just pure fruit with a generous spritz of acidity. I would love to drink this while eating roasted chicken and mushroom gravy, or a big hunk of roasted salmon. A bottle of this Pinot Noir goes for $27 at the Wine Mine

19 June, 2009

Around the World in Pinot Noirs in honor of Pinot Days 2009

In honor of Pinot Days the Brixchicks are going to review a Pinot Noir every day until the start of this famous festival in San Francisco on June 26th.

Pinot Noir #1: Waipara Springs 2007 "Premo" Reserve Pinot Noir -14% alcohol
"Exotic Aromas - Smooth Palate"

I just met this attractive winemaker from New Zealand. Frank Manifold, a 31 year old from the South Island, has a promising career ahead of him. This 2007 Reserve Pinot is one of those richer, lusher, dark ruby-hued Pinots. The nose had a lot of "interesting" aromas: kerosene, nutmeg, coffee liquer covering red fruits. It delivered high acidity yet the finish was smooth and focused. I liked the balance of the elements. This guy also makes a yummy off-dry Riesling, but I will save that review for another time...Wine Spectator loves this Pinot and gave it a whopping 93 points. Congrats, Frank! Can't wait to taste some more wines from this producer...Retails for $20 at K&L.

12 June, 2009

Hip hop, leftovers and a lot of swishing going on... WBW#58

It was Wednesday and the Brixchicks gathered to ponder, ' the effect of music on the enjoyment of wine'. Everyone arrived at my house armed with their own personal (dirty pleasure) collection of favorites on our personal devices. I love shuffling through my iPod and accepting whatever is selected from my eclectic collection of music. Usually the Brixchicks enjoy our wine with food, but in the interest of discovery we savored our wine sans food. I am always searching for a crisp refreshing dry white wine and the 2008 Drylands Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc delighted my eyes, nose, mouth and groove. This New Zealand beauty has a clear straw color and lots of exotic aromas that hint of passion fruit, grapefruit and a touch of Kiwi. The taste delivered a green earthy note with a complex and balanced finish. When I shuffled my iPod, I was rewarded with Justin Timberlake singing about cheating couples ... I didn't feel cheated. 'What goes around comes back around' - please pour more Drylands Sauvignon Blanc... with food this time. Even though my tongue loved the taste of the wine my ears added a new level to my enjoyment. There was a bit of hip swaying going on while we swished our delightful wine. As expected this wine also delivered a nice pairing with our chicken and roasted potatoes. Next we are taking this show on the road ... New Zealand eastern islands is on the tour.

10 June, 2009

Name that tune, Change that wine - WBW #58

Thanks to Katie at Gonzogastronomy for another interesting Wine Blogging Wednesday. It has been a crazy, busy Spring leaving me with a ton of backlogged blogs to write up. However, this was a first in that all three BrixChicks managed to get together for this exercise. The instructions said to try whatever wine you had with a variety of different kinds of music. Between the three of us, we had a veritable smorgasbord of musical stylings on Xandria's MP3, Janesta's iPod and my trusty iPhone. We also had three samples we had been given from Icon Estates, Benson Marketing and Hahn respectively. Janesta ever the hostess with the mostess whipped up "leftovers". But we decided to start the exercise with just music and wine first. So we all first used our own device and randomly listened to something we knew we liked. In my case, the shuffle popped up a bouncy Talking Heads tune, " And she was" to go with the 2008 Drylands Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand. I did the see, swirl, sniff taste without no soundtrack first. I observed a clear, pale straw color and aromas of young coconut, passionfruit and grapefruit with a slight edge of grassiness. It had a crisp bright taste with flavors of sugared grapefruit and a nice acidity. I squealed with delight when the iPhone shuffled its way into a song that went so well with the character of the wine---bouncy, bright, crisp and citrusy. I looked it up on Wikipedia and apparently "the song was written about a girl he [the songwriter] knew who used to take LSD in a field next to a Yoo-hoo beverage factory in Baltimore, Maryland. Okay so nothing to do with NZ sauvvy blanc, but as far as pairings went, it was nice. Snappy tune. Crisp wine. Good. What would happen when we switched devices and something unfamiliar came on? More later...

The second wine was 2007 Fortant Malbec, which unfortunately drew a selection as bitter as a Jacobean revenge drama. Amazing how people totally skirt the whole violence thing when a country pop diva is wielding the baseball bat. That's right. Carrie Underwood swinging out with "Before he cheats,". Having tried eight or nine Fortant wines and being consistently amazed by the freshness, fruit character and delightful construction, I really felt like the music influenced unduly the wine. The initial nose I got was slightly off yellow cake batter. I was afraid to try it. However, when I sipped, I got a slightly gamy, spicy wine. I find my response to Malbec in general kind of hit and miss, but I have loved the Fortant offerings so much, I had high expectations for this. Weird. When we played pass the device, I drew the song "Dare" by the Gorillaz, with which I was unfamiliar, but as soon as the music changed, I kept finding more and more things to like in the wine. In the end, the nose opened up and provided more of a sour cherry muffin mix scent. And the perceived bitterness really was from the song! With the bouncier music, I got Mexican cinnamon stick in the mid palate which was nice. As well as more fruit flavors. I was skeptical that music would influence taste. SO fun to learn something new!
We closed the evening with an amazing bottle of 2007 Hahn SLH Pinot Noir and the delicious "leftovers". The mushrooms in the sauce brought out the forest floor character and also lots of spice and fruit. Who knows what was playing? Great wine. Yummy food. Good company.

06 June, 2009

Upcoming Bay Area Wine Events: Riesling, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir!

Brixchicks will, of course, be drinking mucho vino this month at all these amazing upcoming events. On June 8th I am kicking off the month with Destination Riesling, a tasting of the "exceptional" 2008 vintage of Rieslings from Germany, Austria and the Alsace. I better brush up on my Spatlese, Auslese, Trockenbeerenauslese, etc...

June 8th, Hagiwara Tea Garden @ Golden Gate Park, 1-5pm. For a ticket visit www.destinationriesling.com

June 14th:
I love Paella. When I heard there would be traditional Spanish Paella at the TAPAS event on June 14th I knew I had to go...TAPAS or Tempranillo Advocates Producers and Amigos Society is holding their annual tasting of California-produced Ibero varietals (Tempranillo,Garnacha, Monastrell, Albarino, Verdejo, Touriga, etc.) www.tapasociety.org Tix are $45 and the event is being held at Fort Mason in SF. this year.

June 16-18:
During the week of June 15th New World Wine Importers are having a series of tasting of Waipara Springs Wines from New Zealand. Come try the highly-rated 2007 Pinot Noir and meet the winemaker Frank Manifold (he's a hottie.) Check the schedule at www.newworldwineimports.com

June 24th:
For those of you who like to take your wine at a trendy discotheque there is the Uncorked "Best of the Best" Tasting where you can try over 100 highly-rated and hard-to-find artisanal wines in one tasting. This takes place at Ruby Skye from 6-9, $40-50 per ticket (depending on when you purchase.) Visit www.uncorkedevents.com

June 24-28th:
And last but not least: Pinot Days. We have all been waiting for this annual pageant of poetic Pinot Noirs from the world over and nearly 200 producers will be pouring. This year the Grand Tasting takes place on June 28th but there are 4 days of events. Check out the schedule at www.pinotdays.com Tickets for the Grand Tasting are $50 and most of these events are taking place at Ft. Mason.

If I have forgotten anyone please let me know!! Happy Drinking!

03 June, 2009

Barokes "Wine in a Can." Wine not?

Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from New World Wine Imports.

Okay, it is almost summertime and every weekend there is some kind of bbq or picnic or hike involving wine and other spirits. But who wants to lug around those heavy 750Ml bottles of wine? Well, you now have an alternative: Barokes wine in a can, sold in 4 packs and virtually weightless at 250 mL per can. Premium Australian wines in a can. Sounds better than beer, mate. And just think of the convenience...not just in transporting them, but in disposing and recycling.

According to their website, Barokes has created a patented wine-canning process called the Vinsafe™ wine packaging system, which safely allows the sealing of wine in a can to achieve premium quality, stability and longevity (up to 5 years to date.)

Barokes is now tapping into the American market with four of their varietals: Shiraz, Chardonnay, Blanc de Blanc Sparkler, and a Blanc de Noir Shiraz sparkler. They make a variety of award-winning blends and sparklers not yet available in the US.

The Shiraz and Chardonnay are big, bold and fruity with a lot of sweetness and an acidic kick. And yes, they do have an effervesence that only comes from being canned. They also make two actual Sparklers including the Blanc de Noir which is a very robust sparkling Shiraz. These are all bbq-friendly wines. Each comes in at 13% alcohol.

Barokes are not yet carried in stores but if you would like to try them go to NewWorldWineImports.com $9.99 for a fourpack. So would you drink wine from a can?

Visit Barokes here: www.wineinacan.com