Archive for category California

Lucky Star Pinot Noir 2014

For under $15 this is an ok wine. Nice pepper overtones and soft oak. It is very drinkable and enjoyable but will not blow you away.   

 

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Matchbook Wines and Petit Verdot

This wine got a 95 in Wine Spectator, it got 3 puffs in another, a major wine writer gave it two thumbs up. Every winery markets their wine showing the biggest ratings they get, and with the best known reviewers.  This is all part of marketing, and marketing sells.

However, in my opinion, people are putting too much faith into wine ratings.  When I look at a wine, beer, or whatever I am tasting, I ask myself one question: For the price I paid, how good is my return on my investment?

You can’t compare a $100.00 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, with a $20.00: or Can you ?  Absolutely! You have to look at the wine value. Yes the $100.00 bottle may be very good, but the $20.00 for the price may be out of this world. Was that bottle really worth $100? Or $20, only you can tell for sure.

One thing I watch for when looking at wine reviews is their marketing to see if their current marketing is current or stuck in the past. For example, if a winery is promoting its 2015 wine with reviews from the same wine from the past few years, Fantastic! On Target!  However if a winery is promoting the wine with ratings from 10 years ago, or they keep promoting they won some competition from the 1980’s or worse the 1970’s, then they are telling me that they have not been able to produce anything equal or better in so many years.

We have all heard bad reviews on a movie, television show, album, and later when we experienced whatever the review was on, we wonder did the reviewers experience the same thing as I just did. Again only you can tell if you’re getting a good return on your investment.

Matchbook Wines 2012 “Tinto Rey” Red Blend Wine

Tinto ReyThere are very few wines, that when I taste them, I want to run out and get another bottle. Matchbook Wines  2012 “Tinto Rey” is one of those wines. I was totally blown away at the complex flavors this wine has. At an average price of $17.00 this is one of the best buys out there right now.  I tasted the 2012 blend which I found to be a beautiful, complex wine, with smoky overtones and a classic finish. This wine will go great with some heaver or spicy foods. The 26 months this was in barrels brought out the best in the wine. Now as I mentioned the “Tinto Rey” is a blend of red grapes with Temparillo at 50% and Syrah at 27%, the remainder is Petit Verdot, Graciano, and Tannat.  It comes primarily from the Dunnigan Hills appellation. For those not familiar with Dunnigan Hills, it is in Yolo County California, just west of Sacramento.

BLEND:  50% Temparanillo, 27% Syrah, 11% Petit Verdot, 8% Graciano,, 3% Tannat
APPELLATION: 85% Dunnigan Hills ( Temparanillo, Syrah, Graciano) 15% California (Petit Verdot, Tannat)
HARVEST DATE: 2012
WINE ALCOHOL: 13.9% by volume
WINE ACID: 6.9 g/L
WINE PH: 3.91

BARRELLS: 100% Barrel Aged. 22% New Barrels, 78% from 2-5 year old barrels. French Oak, American Oak, American/Hungarian Hybrid
PRODUCTION: 7,351 cases

Matchbook Wines 2012 “The Astonist Red” Red Blend Wine

Arsonist BottleLike the Tinto Red this is another full body wine. Tons of black cherry overtones, with a slight peppery finish throughout this beautiful wine.  This is an amazing wine for the price of $22.00.  It’s a steal to get this wine for under $30.00 probably more. Grab this wine as quick as you can.

BLEND:  24 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 52% Petit Verdot,  24% Merlot
APPELLATION:  Dunnigan Hills

HARVEST DATE: 2012
WINE ALCOHOL: 13.8% by volume
BARRELLS: 100% Barrel Aged. 45% New Barrels, 55% from 2-5 year old barrels. French Oak, American Oak, American/Hungarian Hybrid
PRODUCTION: 2800 cases

 

Podcast Grape – Petit Verdot:

Since both wines we looked at today, have one grape in common, Petit Verdot that is what we will talk about. The name Petit Verdot means “small green” which fits, as this is a late season grape. This is a classic red Bordeaux grape. It’s used often in small amounts with wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon to make them more full body and add tannins. In the hands of a skilled winemaker this can be a beautiful single varietal wine.  Petit Verdot is produced throughout the world with the number of countries and American states being added to the list all the time.

Shout out

Finally I want to do a shout out to a fellow blogger Joey Casco CSW/CSS who writes The Wine Stalker. Now if you’re asking what all those fancy letters mean after his name, well CSW is Certified Specialist of Wine and CSS is Certified Specialist of  Spirits. Both of these certificates come from the Society of Wine Educators. Joey recently did an article on those of us who write wine blogs, but live in not traditional wine areas. Joey for instance lives in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and I live in the great wine area of Tennessee.  Neither area is well known for its wine production. However we have a few small wineries that do a nice job here in Middle Tennessee. Be sure to check out Joey’s blog at thewinestalker.net

If you’re enjoying this blog please be sure to subscribe at the ITunes podcast store or at Stitcher  for the podcast. Be sure to let your friends know about it. Be sure to follow on Twitter @tastingradio

 If you have a negative comment or a suggestion, please email directly at info@tastingnotesradio.com and perhaps it is something we can look at.

You can also join this blog by clicking “Follow Me” on the side. Your comments are always welcome.

 

 

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How To Study Wine? The Homework is a blast!

Are you a Wine Expert?

It’s not uncommon for someone to want to learn everything there is to learn about wine. No matter how you look at it, there is a lot to learn. I will assure you studying wine is one thing …its fun.  Where else can you study a subject and drink at the same time.  However, I don’t think people understand just how vast the subject is.

According to the Wine Institute there are 8806 wineries in the United States alone.  There are over 3700 wineries in California alone. Add into that the thousands of wineries through the rest of the world in France, Italy, Portugal, and Australia and so on; and you can see you could easily be talking about tens of thousands of wineries.  Let’s just stick with California wineries, if each winery produced just two types of wines, one red and one white, you would have to taste over 7400 bottles of wine.   I told you the homework would be fun!

So what’s the trick? There is no trick to it.  You need to learn to take things in stages, one part at a time. Anyone who says they are an expert in all things wine is just full of it.  It’s mathematically impossible to be an expert in everything wine.  You will find that many of the experts are experts in a very specific area of the industry, and then know a little bit about a great deal more.  There is nothing wrong with this, however just because your dentist is a doctor, it does not make him a brain surgeon.

So what do I recommend; when you first start tasting wines keep very detailed notes. Figure out what you enjoy, but start small. Perhaps study a winery and only one winery. From there find similar wineries perhaps near by the first winery.  Instead of a winery you can start with a varietal such as Pinot Noir. Try bottles from around the world from different appellations. You will be surprised just how different the same grape tastes in different areas, some not too far away from each other.  Not only can the region make a difference, but the winemaking styles that the winemaker is using. For instance there is a big contrast between a Chardonnay made in a steel tank and one that has been aged in French Oak Barrels for 6 months, going through malolactic fermentation.

Again take it in stages, and for more fun do it with friends.

Varietal of Interest:

220px-Cabernet-francAs many of you know Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of grapes.  However I have always felt a little sorry for its cousin Cabernet Franc.  So today let’s take a quick look at Cabernet Franc.  Coming out of the Bordeaux region of France, Cabernet Franc is now produced worldwide with over 47000 acres planted. Many wineries use it as a blending grape, adding it to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or a number of other grapes. On its own Cabernet Franc is being released by a growing number of wineries as its own varietal. The flavor is a little softer than Cabernet Sauvignon.  Depending on the region, it can have a slight peppery flavor, bell pepper and raspberry flavors.  Next time you’re out look for a bottle of Cabernet Franc.

Appellation of Interest:

Photo courtsey of Fiddletown Cellars

Photo courtsey of Fiddletown Cellars

One of my favorite areas to taste wine from is Fiddletown area which is located within Amador County.  This region is just over 2000 feet up the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California. Fiddletown produces some of the most full body Zinfandel’s you will ever taste.  These Zin’s are so intense you cannot see light going through them.  Wines from Fiddletown will be very hard to locate, even in California. However keep your eyes open.  Zinfandels from Amador County are amazing wines to experience.  If you can’t locate a wine from Fiddletown, try one from Amador County.

 

Be sure to check out the podcast on the Itunes Store, TuneIn Radio and on Stitcher.

If you have a negative comment or a suggestion, please email directly at info@tastingnotesradio.com  and perhaps it is something we can look at. You can also follow on Twitter @tastingradio. Additionally you can follow me on the Untappd beer app and Delectable wine app both for Iphone.

 

You can also follow this blog by clicking “Follow Me” on the side. Your comments are always welcome.

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Podcast #5 – Wine Tasting 101 and J Sparking Wines

Welcome back to Tasting Notes Radio, today we are going to cover a number of subjects.  First off we are going to go back to Wine Tasting 101 and talk about how to taste wine.  Then we are going to look at the differences between Champagne and Sparkling wines. Finally we are going to talk about two fantastic Sparkling Wines from J Vineyard and Winery.

WWW.TASTINGNOTESRADIO.COM

 

 

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Wine Tasting 101 and J Sparking Wines

Welcome back to Tasting Notes Radio, today we are going to cover a number of subjects.  First off we are going to go back to wine tasting 101 and talk about how to taste wine.  Then we are going to look at the differences between Champagne and Sparkling wines. Finally we are going to talk about two fantastic Sparkling Wines from J Vineyard and Winery out of Healdsburg California.

There are two ways to taste wine, and in my opinion both are correct.   And both have their place out there. Let’s start with the more complex style.

  1. Pour the wine into a wine glass. Now for you who have trouble with this, this means no Styrofoam, plastic, or mason jars. This is a glass shaped like a bowl, and in most cases has a stem running off the bottom. Fill the glass about 1/3 of the way up.
  2. Place it to your nose and smell the aromas
  3. Now swirl the glass in your hand. It is not uncommon for someone to swirl it by placing the base on a table top and moving it in a circular motion. Also be very very careful doing this while next to someone you’re trying to impress or wearing white.
  4. Bring the glass again to your nose and smell the aromas that have opened up. Really get your nose into the glass
  5. Now drink a little, holding it in your mouth
  6. Swirl it around so all your taste buds experience it.
  7. Now with the wine still in your mouth suck a little air in over the top of your mouth. This will help you get the full flavor. It also can give you an idea of how much alcohol is in the wine by the intensity of the heat
  8. Now if you’re drinking is the time to swallow it. If you taste a large number of wines, you might want to spit it out into a container. This is a very acceptable practice at tasting rooms and wineries around the world

Now the less complex way to taste wine

  1. Again pour about 1/3 of a glass with wine in it.
  2. Now take the mouthful you want
  3. Swallow
  4. Let’s face it sometimes we just get too fancy and forget, it’s just grape juice.

Be as complex as you really want to be.  However if you start doing the more complex style too much, before long you will find yourself doing it with everything in a glass. I caught myself once swirling a glass of Coke, and even a beer or two. Trust me …weird looks from people.

Enjoy the wine, that’s the most important part of it all.

champagne-department-mapBefore we get started let’s talk about the term Champagne and Sparkling Wine. Simply put all Champagne is Sparkling Wine. However all Sparkling Wine is not Champagne. The simple difference is Champagne, must come from the Champagne region which is about 90 miles outside of Paris.  Most wineries acknowledge this and call their wine by the accurate title. In the United States this is something that is not enforced and you will see wines called Chablis, Champagne, and Burgundy and so on. It is perfectly legal, though in my opinion not ethical, to name an American Wine after a foreign location.  The next time you order Chianti, is it really from Tuscany, or is it from the Central Valley of California.

 

 

So let’s talk about wine. Today I am going to talk to you about “J” sparkling wine. Now as we approach the holidays, New Year’s Eve, College Bowl Game Wins, and the Super Bowl; this is a great time to enjoy sparkling wine.  However any time is a great time for sparkling. Today younger people are drinking more Sparkling Wine that their parents. In fact 36 % of Gen Xers drink Sparkling Wine more frequently than Baby Boomers at 22%.

J Brut Rose

J Brut Rose

Let’s talk about two exceptional Sparkling Wines today. The first wine is the J Brut Rose NV which comes from the Russian River Valley. This is a fantastic wine at $38.00. The Brut Rose is a light red color, with a lovely floral bouquet. Plenty of Cherries and Strawberries overtones in this well balanced wine. The finish is amazing as it lingers for an amazing time. The J Brut Rose is a blend of hand harvested grapes; 66% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 1% Pinot Meunier.

BLEND: 66% Pinot Noir, 33% Chardonnay and 1% Pinot Meunier.
APPELLATION: Russian River Valley
HARVEST DATE: NV
WINE ALCOHOL: 12.53% by volume
WINE ACID: 9.3 g/L
WINE PH: 3.12
RESIDUAL SUGAR: 1.15%
CASES PRODUCED: 10,000
RELEASE DATE: July 2013

 
J Cuvee 20The second wine from “J” is the J Cuvee 20 Brut which comes from Sonoma County. This wine has a suggested retail price of $28.00 and is worth every penny. This wine has a beautiful clear color. The Cuvee 20 is extremely fresh and full body with tons of citrus flavors such as grapefruit and lemons. Like the Brut Rose these grapes were all hand harvested.  It has a blend of 54% Chardonnay, 44% Pinot Noir and 2% Pinot Meunier. This is an outstanding sparkling wine at an amazing price point for the quality. Don’t miss out on the J Cuvee 20 Brut.

BLEND: 54% Chardonnay, 44% Pinot Noir and 2% Pinot Meunier
APPELLATION: Sonoma
HARVEST DATE: NV
WINE ALCOHOL: 12.53% by volume
WINE ACID: 8.9 g/L
WINE PH: 3.23
RESIDUAL SUGAR: 1.40 %
CASES PRODUCED: 30,000
Be sure to check out the podcast on the Itunes Store and on Stitcher.

If you have a negative comment or a suggestion, please email directly at info@tastingnotesradio.comand perhaps it is something we can look at. You can also follow on Twitter @tastingradio. Additionally you can follow me on the Untappd beer app and Delectable wine app both for Iphone.

 You can also join this blog by clicking “Follow Me” on the side. Your comments are always welcome.

 

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Estancia “Unoaked” 2012 Chardonnay Wine Review

bottle-estancia-contemporary-unoaked-chardonnayThis unoaked Chardonnay has a touches of lemon, pear and orange blossoms. An excellent., smooth finish and a very good value.  The label says “California” however the fruit comes mainly from Monterey county along the central coast of California.  Monterey is producing some of this best valued Chardonnay’s on the market and the Estancia “UnOaked” Chardonnay is a first class example of this quality

 

BLEND: 100% Chardonnay
APPELLATION: California
HARVEST DATE: 2012
WINE ALCOHOL: 14.5% by volume
WINE ACID: 6.5 g/L
WINE PH: 3.41

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Margerum “Sybarite” 2011 Sauvignon Blanc Wine Review

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This is an amazing Sauvignon Blanc. The 2011 vintage is very well balanced with overtones of citrus flavors with intense grapefruit flavors. Hints of cantaloupe in the finish. Do not serve this wine extra cold as you will lose some great flavors.

The Sybarite Sauvignon Blanc is crafted from Grapes grown at McGinley Vineyard (38%), Three Creek Vineyard (32%), Grassini Vineyard (22%) and Curtis Vineyard (8%).

If your a fan of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s, you must try this excellent wine.

BLEND: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
APPELLATION: Happy Valley Santa Barbara
WINE ALCOHOL: 14.4% by volume
Price: $21.00 USD

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LaCrema 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Review

LaCrema is a winery where you always get top notch wines. And the 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is no exception. This wine is everything you would expect from LaCrema and more. With its deep red color and a full aroma that hits you in the face. Rich with bing cherries, strawberries and a hint of raspberries. The finish is smooth and soft. You will not be disappointed with this wine from LaCrema

BLEND: 100% Pinot Noir
APPELLATION: Sonoma Coast
HARVEST DATE: August 30 – October 21, 2012
WINE ALCOHOL: 13.9% by volume
OAK AGING: 98% French (26% new) medium toast levels

 If you enjoyed this please share it with your friends on Social Media such as LinkedIn, Google+Twitter and other locations. You can also join this blog by clicking “Follow Me” on the side.  Your comments are always welcome.

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“J” Vineyards and Winery 2011 California Pinot Gris Reviewed

J Pinot Gris

This wine is a must have. Being extremely well balanced the flavors flow with the wine. A wonderful nice flowery bouquet. It as a touch of green apples and a slight taste of cantaloupe. Crisp, clean and a classic example of this under rated varietal. The “J” 2011 California Pinot Gris should be on everyone’s list to try.

Retail Price: $15.99

APPELLATION: Clarksburg 62%; Monterey 16%; RRV 12%; Napa 10%
HARVEST DATE: August 31 – October 2, 2011
WINE ALCOHOL: 13.8 % by volume
WINE ACID: 6.3 grams per liter
WINE PH: 3.36
RESIDUAL SUGAR: 0.35%
PRODUCTION: 36,000 cases
BOTTLING DATE: March 20 – April 10, 2012
RELEASE DATE: May 2012

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