Tasting No. 210 – May 20, 2019 – Washington State Wines

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to explore wines from Washington State and assess differences among three main red varietals.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Jorge Claro, Cristian Santelices

These are the wines:

  1. 2017 Chateau Ste Michelle. Riesling Dry, Columbia Valley
  2. 2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot, Horse Heaven Hill
  3. 2015 Canvasback, Cabernet Sauvignon,  Red Mountain
  4. 2016 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Rhone’s Michel Gassier, The Pundit Syrah. Columbia Valley

This is the menu:

  1. Salmon appetizer
  2. Leeks and potatoes soup
  3. Crab ravioli in white sauce
  4. Filet Mignon with vegetables sauteed
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, German Zincke

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2017 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Riesling Dry, Columbia Valley

The Wine: WE: Flower, lime leaf, slate, peach and citrus aromas are out front. Sleek, off-dry, leaning sweeter fruit flavors follow. There’s a sense of balance that heightens the appeal. It’s a whole lot of wine for the money.

“A terrific wine for its price, this Riesling’s best feature is its freshness; it’s a high-toned, leesy white leading with scents of apple blossoms and a hint of lime. The flavors are crisp and round, supple and generous, with the body to pair with seafood…”

A dry, refreshing style of Riesling with beautiful fruit flavors, crisp acidity and an elegant finish. It offers inviting sweet citrus aromas and flavors. This is an incredibly versatile food wine.

The Winery: Founded in 1934, Chateau Ste. Michelle is the oldest winery in Washington with some of the most mature vineyards in the Columbia Valley. The winery combines Old World winemaking with New World innovation and is best known for its award-winning Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Chateau Ste. Michelle receives some of the highest accolades in the industry, including “American Winery of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast for 2004 and “2005 Winery of the Year” by Restaurant Wine. In addition, the winery’s Eroica Riesling, crafted from a partnership with German winemaker Ernst Loosen, has been named to Wine Spectator‘s prestigious “Top 100” wines list for five consecutive years.

Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the few premium wineries in the world with two state-of-the-art wineries, one devoted to whites and another to reds. This dedicated approach to winemaking allows winemaker Bob Bertheau to build winemaking programs to the unique specifications of red and white wines. While all of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s vineyards are located on the east side of the Cascade Mountains where the climate is dry and sunny, Bob Bertheau makes the award winning white wines in Woodinville, 15 miles northeast of Seattle. The winery’s expansive, 87-acre estate hosts more than 250,000 visitors annually for tours, tastings, dinners and outdoor summer concerts.

Read more at: https://www.ste-michelle.com/

 2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot, Horse Heaven Hill

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: The Canoe Ridge Estate Merlot is an elegant expression of Washington Merlot. It offers dark cherry fruit character and dusty tannins. This is a perfect match with Italian food and dishes with lamb, beef and fow

(RP) An impressive wine is the 2013 Merlot Canoe Ridge Estate. There’s 5% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend and it spent 16 months in 59% new French and American oak. Possessing first-rate aromatics of plums, currants, licorice and damp earth, this medium to full-bodied, supple, charming Merlot has outstanding purity and surprising mid-palate density. It’s a sexy wine to drink over the coming 4-5 years.

The Winery:  (See above)

 2015 Canvasback, Cabernet Sauvignon,  Red Mountain

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Showing the warmth and generosity of the growing season, this wine offers effusive aromas of bing cherry, ripe strawberry and plum. As it evolves, additional aromas of molasses and ginger reveal themselves, along with a savory whiff of sagebrush that echoes Red Mountain’s desert environment. On the palate, the wine has notable presence and depth. The entry is creamy and fine-grained, and a voluminous mid-palate displays gorgeous flavors of black plum, marion berry and grenadine, with notes of nutmeg and hazelnut adding complexity to the juicy fruit. Varietal Content: 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc Cooperage: 20 months in barrel 98% French oak, 2% American 42% new, 22% second, 36% neutral.

“While 2015 will go in the books as the earliest Washington grape harvest on record, it will also be remembered for its remarkable quality. A warm spring led to a very early budbreak, followed by ideal weather during bloom. With consistently hot summer weather, we tailored our canopy management to preserve shade on the fruit, while carefully timing our irrigation to protect the vines. A cooldown in the run-up to harvest slowed ripening, and allowed us to pick pristine grapes at a leisurely pace. With lovely balance and freshness, these grapes ultimately yielded wines of power and grace”

RP: The 2015 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is a success this year, revealing aromas of ripe plums, cassis, pencil shavings and espresso roast. On the palate, the wine is medium-bodied, rich and generous, with an ample core of fruit, juicy acids and a flavorful finish.

The Winery: (From Wine.com) To create wines that are as complex as they are captivating, Canvasback is following the model established decades ago by Duckhorn Vineyards, and will ultimately combine grapes from top growers with fruit from Canvasback’s own estate vineyard. The Canvasback team has already established great relationships with the growers who farm some of the appellation’s most esteemed vineyards, including Klipsun, La Coye, Shaw and Quintessence. In 2013, Canvasback put down roots on Red Mountain when it acquired a 20-acre unplanted vineyard site. Located near the top of the mountain, above the frost zone at an elevation of approximately 1,100 to 1,300 feet, the site was widely recognized as the most coveted uncultivated site of the mountain. Guided by Washington winegrowing legend and Canvasback vineyard manager Dick Boushey, and founding winemaker Brian Rudin, Canvasback began planting its Red Mountain vineyard predominantly to Cabernet Sauvignon in 2014.In both the vineyard and winery, Brian embraces the challenge of making a richly compelling wine that shows the complexity and structure of great Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. “Red Mountain is one of the best places on earth to grow Cabernet,” says Brian. “The desert environment, with its long days, cold nights and mineral-rich soils produce epic Cabernet Sauvignons.”

Read more at: https://www.canvasbackwine.com/

 2016 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Rhone’s Michel Gassier, The Pundit Syrah. Columbia Valley

The Wine: The color is deep ruby with garnet highlights. Raspberry jam and citrus with soy and earthy undertone aromas are complemented by a brambly, subtle meaty character. A smooth mouthfeel glides into a long silky finish with flavors of juicy blueberry, hints of tobacco and subtle gamey undertones.

WE: Pinches of Grenache (4%), Mourvèdre (4%) and Viognier (2%) round out this wine, providing lovely accents. The aromas show notes of flower, orange peel, raspberry candy, dried herb and cherry. The palate is full bodied and rich, with the tannins bringing some grip. Raspberry notes linger on the finish.Blend: 90% Syrah, 4% Grenache, 4% Mourvedre, and 2% Viognier.

By the looks of it, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates can help do for Syrah what it has done with Riesling. Here’s another example of Chateau Ste. Michelle head winemaker Bob Bertheau collaborating with European experts to create a gateway example of a variety that the majority of American consumers aren’t overly familiar with, offer it at an affordable price and produce it on a large scale. In the case of The Pundit, Bertheau teams up with Rhône native Michel Gassier and Phillipe Cambie, who describes himself as “a man of the Mediterranean”. The influence of new French oak (23%) over 13 months shows with the bittersweet chocolate and toast aromas that include blueberry cobbler and black cherry. There’s a payday on the palate from each of those notes as the dark fruit spills across with pleasing weight. A nice tug of tannin of comes across as a nibble of blackcurrant skin with the juice to match, followed by the underlying gaminess that often comes with Syrah

The Winery: (See above)

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 210 Summary of Tasting Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2015 Canvasback, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain

Best Buy: 2017 Chateau Ste Michelle. Riesling Dry, Columbia Valley

Technical Notes 

(Jorge Claro and Cristian Santelices compiled these technical notes. They provide additional detailed information about wine in Washington State, such as history, varieties, climate maps, soils, etc.)

View notes here: Technical notes Washington State

 

 

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Tasting No. 209 – April 29, 2019 – Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview   The  main objective of this blind tasting is to assess a sample of Cabernet Sauvignon wines from different regions in Argentina and if possible find out the region from which they proceed according to the description below. Although two out of three bottles of wine that Argentina exports to the world are Malbec, many winemakers are keen to making known other varietals produced in the country. Among these, Cabernet Sauvignon occupies a fundamental role because it is an old acquaintance of Argentinian viticulture with more than 15,000 hectares planted. Argentina offers at least three styles of Cabernet with a peculiarity, they all come from continental climates, something very rare to find in other parts of the world. These styles are:

a)  Warm climate Cabs: Produced in Mendoza, Maipú and Lujan de Cuyo from vineyards located between 700 and 950 of altitude where there is a warm and dry climate that helps the maturation of the Cabernets and endows them with an intense and voluptuous style with good body and structure;

b) Cold climate Cabs:  These are produced from vines planted in the Uco Valley  at altitudes between 1,000 to 1500 meters and stony soils where the red varieties ripen slower, especially those of long cycle like Cabernet Sauvignon. This combination of altitude and soils results in wines  with a refreshing natural acidity that gives a special character to the wines of the area. At much lower altitude, Patagonia, the South America’s southernmost wine-producing region is a desert, is also considered a cold wine region. Viticulture is possible only near the rivers, where meltwater from the Andes is abundant for irrigation. The classic desert climate of warm days and cold nights extends the growing season in the region, slowing ripening in the grapes and letting them develop rich varietal character while retaining acidity. The zone is closer to the Andes Mountains than to the Atlantic Ocean, but is at a much lower altitude than Mendoza and Uco Valley, averaging about 300m (1,000ft) above sea level.

c) Cabs from the North: These come from the Cafayate, in the heart of the Calchaquíes Valley. Here, at an altitude of 1,750 meters above sea level, Cabernet developed an expression easy to differentiate by its nuanced spices, herbal and menthol aromas. In this region the climate is extreme with a very marked thermal amplitude, that can reach 20 degrees centigrade during the ripening season. So the grapes ripen in the day but at night they concentrate acidity and an explosive aromatic. As with all the wines grown at high altitude in dessert conditions, these are deep and concentrated reds with a singular freshness.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Ruth Connolly, Jaime Estupiñán

These are the wines:

  1. 2017 Mascota Unanime Chardonnay, Mendoza
  2. 2014 Mascota Big Bat Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza 
  3. 2016 Bodegas Fabre, Phebus Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Rio Negro, Patagonia
  4. 2017 Abstracto Quinto Imperio Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Vino, Tupungato, Uco Valley

This is the menu:

  1. Seafood Salad
  2. Mixed greens salad
  3. Agnolotti with Aurora sauce
  4. Grilled Steak with zucchini and roasted beans
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: 

Mario Aguilar, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia,  Jaime Jaramillo, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago.

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2017 Mascota Unanime Chardonnay, Mendoza

The Wine: (WE) Apple and fresh pumpkin aromas announce a round, healthy palate with bracing acidity. Dried tropical fruit flavors of mango, papaya and pineapple are clean and solid. Everything about this partially malolactic Chardonnay is pleasing and of good quality. Drink now.

The Winery: The vineyards lie at the foot of the Andes Mountains, barely a thousand meters away from the Mendoza River. The vines receive fresh breezes descending from the mountains and blowing along the river, all of which contributes to the generation of wide temperature ranges. The soil is predominantly alluvial, with a clay-loam surface, and rock is found at a depth of 60 cm (23.4 in). And so it is that Finca La Mascota finds itself set in perfect surroundings, and one the most renowned and prestigious wine-growing regions in Mendoza. The vineyards cover 100 hectares of land, 97 of which are implanted with grapes. The main varieties produced are Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz among the reds; and Chardonnay among the whites. The oldest wine is a Cabernet Sauvignon lot which was planted 41 years ago. The average age of the vineyards is 30 years, ranging from the 5 year-old new blocks to the oldest ones planted in the 70’s.

Read more at: http://www.mascotavineyards.com/en/home/#

2014 Mascota Big Bat Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza

The Wine: Toasty blackberry and prune are the key aromas on this plush Cabernet. A generous mouthfeel includes choppy tannins that will mellow in due time. Dark flavors of cassis and blackberry include spice and chocolate notes, while this finishes with ripe flavors of blackberry touched up by chocolaty oak. Drink this calm, slightly flabby Cab through 2021.

The Winery:  (See above)

2016 Bodegas Fabre, Phebus, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Rio Negro, Patagonia

The Wine: A compelling mix of cherry, plum and spicy aromas spell out Cabernet Sauvignon in block letters. This feels full, but also juicy, fresh and agile. Core berry flavors are lightly toasted and chocolaty, with coffee and lingering spice notes aiding a well-comported finish.

The Winery: Hervé Joyaux Fabre, owner and director of Fabre Montmayou, was born in Bordeaux, France, to a family of wine négociants. When he arrived in Argentina in the early 90’s looking for opportunities to invest in vineyards and start a winery, he was impressed by the potential for Malbec in Mendoza. He bought very old Malbec vineyards, planted in 1908, and built the Fabre Montmayou winery in the purest Chateau Style from Bordeaux.  As a true visionary, he bought very old Malbec vineyards, planted in 1908, and built the Fabre Montmayou winery with real boutique style and essence. Once the winery in Mendoza was established Hervé then decided to buy vineyards and a winery in Rio Negro, Patagonia. He realised the unique cool climate of this southern region combined with the “terroir” made it possible to create great wines that are very different in style from those produced in Mendoza. His passion and “savoir faire” did the rest, enabling him to begin producing exceptional wines that have achieved international acclaim and are enjoyed in over twenty countries. With constant care and personal style – essential elements for great quality – Fabre Montmayou combines modern winemaking, and the Bordeaux “savoir faire” to produce wines of unique personality, farmed using traditional methods and without herbicides in order to obtain the best grapes while respecting the environment.

Read more at: http://www.fabremontmayou.com/vineyards/patagonia/

2017 Abstracto Quinto Imperio Cabernet Sauvignon Gran Vino, Tupungato, Uco Valley

The Wine: James Suckling: “Very attractive, fresh red-plum and mulberry aromas with a gently spicy and peppery edge. A fresh palate that has a succulent, fleshy and gently grippy feel. Assertive and flavorful finish. Drink or hold.”

The Winery: This wine is produced and bottled by Finca Sophenia.Finca SOPHENIA is an argentine winery recognized as one of the top quality wine producers from Argentina. To achieve its goals, Roberto Luka, its founder and conductor, chose Gualtallary, Tupungato, Mendoza, one of the most prestigious regions to produce high quality wines. The result was quite rewarding and the wines have already been praised by the wine writers in Europe, America and Asia.  The wines started to sell worldwide in 2004 and succeeded to reach more than 25 countries.

Finca SOPHENIA’ s vineyards were planted over 130 hectares of the best virgin soil of this part of the world. This is a sandy and rocky soil with excellent natural drainage. The vineyards were implanted with selected French clones, which were grafted onto an American rootstocks, and of the following varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. An area of the vineyard has been reserved for the Malbec plants raised in Mendoza: low-productivity clones that were chosen for their aromatic properties, and whose stalks come from the most representative vineyards of this unique region, where the Malbec finds its clearest expression. The irrigation water comes from the Andes’ thaw. The system that distributes it was structured to obtain small berries and a low production per hectare. In this way, the results are wines of great complexity, high fruit concentration and capable to age well.

Read more at: http://www.sophenia.com.ar/eng/index.php

CV Members Rating (TBA)

View full evaluation here: 209 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2014 Mascota Big Bat Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza

Best Buy: 2016 Phebus Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva, Patagonia

Technical Notes 

(Material abstracted and adapted from information posted on the Wine Searcher website:   http://www.winesearcher.com and information from the Wines of Argentina website:  http://www.winesofargentina.com)

Cabernet Sauvignon is probably the most famous red wine grape variety on Earth. It is rivaled only by its Bordeaux stablemate Merlot, and its opposite number in Burgundy, Pinot Noir.   Cabernet Sauvignon wines always seem to demonstrate a handful of common character traits: deep color, good tannin structure, moderate acidity and aromas of blackcurrant, tomato leaf, dark spices and cedar wood.  They also are frequently used in blends in combination with merlot, cabernet franc, malbec, petit verdot, carmenere, shiraz, and lately tempranillo.

Cabernet Sauvignon is the product of a natural genetic crossing over the past few centuries between the Bordeaux grape varieties Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, a fact which makes the variety’s global fame and dominance more impressive.

Key reasons for Cabernet Sauvignon’s rise to dominance are:

a) its adaptability to different soil types and climates. It is grown at latitudes from 50°N (Okanagan in Canada) and 20°S (northern Argentina), and in soils as different as the Pessac-Leognan gravels and the iron-rich terra rossa of Coonawarra.

b) its retention of an inimitable “Cab” character and simple economics. The familiarity and marketability of the Cabernet Sauvignon name has an irresistible lure to wine companies looking for a reliable return on their investment.

c) its vigor. Cabernet Sauvignon produces a dense leaf canopy and relatively high grape yields, giving wine producers a fairly open choice between quantity and quality. Careful vineyard management is essential. Late-flowering and late-ripening, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes mature slowly, both of which can affect wine quality, depending on weather and harvest time.

Source: By Lewison – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8746519

Argentinian Cabernet Wine and Wine Areas Covering just over one million square miles (2.800.000 square kilometers), Argentina is one of the most important wine-producing countries in the New World, and the largest wine producer in South America. The high-altitude deserts of the eastern Andes have given rise to a high-quality wine industry.  While Malbec is the major grape, there are also pockets of production of cabernet sauvignon wines, principally in Mendoza (Andean foothills), Salta (Cafayete in the Calchaqui Valley and Molinos), Jujuy, Catamarca, and Patagonia (Rio Negro and Neuquen).

Mendoza and Environs. Most viticulture in Argentina takes place in the foothills of the Andes, and most famously in Mendoza, where desert landscapes and high altitudes combine to make a terroir that gives rise to aromatic, intensely flavored red wines. Vineyards in Mendoza reach as high as 5000ft (1500m) above sea level. Here, increased levels of solar radiation and a high diurnal temperature variation make for a long, slow ripening period, leading to balanced sugars and acidity in the grapes.

Nearly three-quarters of Argentinian wine production takes place in Mendoza, and in addition to Malbec, there are significant plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Bonarda. Mendoza’s position in the rain shadow of the Andes means that there is little rainfall, and irrigation is supplied by Andean meltwater.

Further north, the regions of Salta and Catamarca are even higher, and a world-topping vineyard owned by Bodega Colome in Molinos sits at 9,900ft (3000m), which is higher than the peak of Mount St. Helens in the Pacific Northwest of America. The area’s low latitudes – i.e. closeness to the equator – are tempered by the high altitude and cold mountain air.  Argentina’s signature white grape, Torrontes, is grown here, making an aromatic, floral white wine.

Closer to the Atlantic coast, Patagonia in the south is home to two wine regions, Rio Negro and Neuquen, where cabernet sauvignons are produced.

Argentina has a long viticultural tradition, dating from the 1500’s.   Until very recently, Argentinian wines were exclusively domestic; over the last two decades, producers have raised quality levels and successfully consolidated an international export market. Argentina has risen to become the fifth-most-prominent wine-producing country in the world, following France, Italy, Spain and the USA.

Salta, in the far north of Argentina, is home to some of the world’s most extreme vineyard sites.  Located at lower latitudes and higher altitudes than anywhere else on Earth, these sites benefit from the balance these two factors contribute to wine-growing. The cold temperatures of high altitude are mitigated by the high temperatures of the lower latitudes.

Cafayate is a wine-producing region in the northwest of Argentina. Located within the Calchaqui Valley, Cafayate is arguably the best-known wine region in Argentina outside of Mendoza.  The small town of Cafayate is near the southern border of the Salta province.  The Calchaqui Valley, a catch-all name for a series of valleys on the edge of the Andes mountains, surrounds Cafayate and has some of the most spectacular landscapes in Argentina, changing rapidly and dramatically from desert to mountains to sub-tropical forest.

One of the highest places in the world suitable for viticulture, Cafayate sits at 5600ft (1700m) above sea level, at a latitude of 26°S (which it shares with the Kalahari desert in Africa). This high altitude defines the terroir of the region, making it suitable for viticulture despite its close proximity to the equator. The altitude means the sunlight Cafayate receives is more intense than in lower-lying regions, causing the grapes to develop thicker skins as protection against the solar radiation.

The altitude also explains the cold nights, fueled by westerly evening winds from the snow-capped Andes. Temperatures can be around 60F/15C colder than during the day, and it is this diurnal temperature variation that extends the growing season and leads to balance in the finished wines.  Soil types in Cafayate are varied, consisting mostly of free-draining sandy loam, with some more-pebbly pockets. These dry soils cause stress in the vines, leading them to produce less vegetation and fewer grapes, reducing the overall yield and contributing to the high levels of concentration in the resultant wines. Cafayate has a desert climate with low rainfall and humidity, and the vines need irrigation from the meltwater rivers in the area to keep them hydrated over the summer.

The terroir in Cafayate is particularly well suited to the Torrontes Riojana variety, which produces floral, crisp white wines with a surprising depth of flavor. Full-bodied, richly structured wines made from Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon are also produced in Cafayate.

Salta’s mountainous landscape creates a rain shadow over the vineyards below, ensuring clear skies and low levels of precipitation. The convenient flipside is that the mountains also provide irrigation, sending a reliable supply of meltwater down from the snowy peaks. This mesoclimate benefits from a wide diurnal temperature variation, which allows the grapes to develop phenolic ripeness while retaining good acidity. Summer temperatures in Salta reach 100F (38C) in the day time, while dropping to as low as 55F (12C) at night.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot and Tannat are the most prominent red-wine varieties in Salta, while Chardonnay and Torrontes account for the region’s most respected white wines. The region has a similar alluvial soil profile (sandy topsoil over a clay base) to Mendoza, 500 miles (800km) to the south, which explains why these varieties do so well in both regions.

Salta’s key wine-growing areas are Cafayate and the world-topping vineyards of Molinos. Cafayate in particular is quickly gaining an international reputation for tits high quality wines as well as for the quirks of its terroir.

Catamarca & Jujuy. Catamarca  is a wine-producing region in the north-west of Argentina in the midst of the Andes mountain range. This remote corner of Argentina  has only recently become associated with wines of export quality.  Viticulture in Catamarca is largely concentrated on the banks of the Abaucan River, from the high-quality region of Fiambala to the more-productive region of Tinogasta in the south of the province.

Jujuy  is the northernmost viticultural area of Argentina with some of the world’s highest vineyards.   It is a relatively small wine region and is less commercially established than some of its neighbors.  Despite its proximity to the equator (at a latitude of 23°S), Jujuy’s extreme temperatures are moderated by the high altitude of the region which also raises the intensity and duration of sunlight available to its vineyards. Vineyards in both Catamarca  and Jujuy are located amid mountainous terrain – some reaching altitudes of 9840ft (3000m) above sea level.

La Pampa is a gently undulating plain with elongated depressions running from west to east and forming fan-shaped valleys. On average, these depressions are 62 miles long by 3 to 6 miles wide, with altitudes ranging between 328 feet above sea level to 131  feet below sea level. It has approximately 531 acres of vineyards. The main varieties produced in this province are Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

Neuquén contrasts sharply with the aridity of the mountainous northern region.  San Patricio del Chañar, 37 miles to the northwest of the province’s capital, has  seen more than 3,460 acres planted and five wineries built in the last few years. The climate is ideal for the development of wine growing. Vineyards stand at 1,300 feet above sea level. The region receives 7 inches rainfall and has temperature ranges exceeding 68° F difference between day and night during the ripening period.All these features come together to ensure extremely healthy grapes with great concentration of colors and aromas, slowly developing tannins and perfect levels of acidity, which will then yield high quality wines.  However, cabernet sauvignon production is not mentioned in the sources visited.

Río Negro  is the southernmost vine-growing region in Argentina. At an altitude of 1,200 feet, the High Valley of Río Negro is a 75 mile-long, 5 mile-wide  river oasis in the vast, arid, wild Patagonian plateau.  It has a markedly dry, continental climate, with an annual rainfall of less than 7.5 inches and very low relative humidity. Winters are cold and summers warm and dry, with abundant sunshine and great thermal amplitude. Winds blowing constantly from the southern Andes increase air dryness and allow for outstanding sanity in the vineyard. The uniqueness of the landscape confers Patagonian wines a well-defined personality. All of them stand out for the perfect balance of alcohol and acidity resulting from the slow ripening of the fruit.   However, cabernet sauvignon production was not mentioned in the sources consulted.

 

HIGH ALTITUDE WINES

(Taken from an article from Wine Searcher by Wink Lorch)

While much of the touted virtues of high-altitude wines can be dismissed as spin, but there is some basis in fact. Three main things make high altitude wine a big deal.

Mountain freshness. The higher you go, the more the average temperature drops, and this means potentially lower alcohol and higher acidity, both increasingly sought after for lighter, fresher wines, such as those from Alpine areas. The diurnal changes in temperature (difference between day and night levels) are greater, preserving the acidity. The freshness can also be increased by wind chill in a vineyard on a mountain slope (not essential for high altitude, but often the case). And, mountain slopes often have rocky soils bringing out those sought-after notes of minerality.

Mountain intensity. At very high altitudes, such as in Argentina’s high Andean vineyards, the vines are subject to intense sunlight, especially UV-B radiation. This gives grapes more antioxidants and thicker skins, equating to more color, tannin and flavor intensity in reds, and longer aging ability too – all desirable attributes.

Mountain savior? Climate change has not only created unpredictability, but it has also meant that the world’s traditional grapegrowing areas are warming giving higher sugar and lower acidity levels in the grapes leading to unbalanced, over-alcoholic wines. Moving the vineyards higher up leads to longer growing seasons and higher acidities in the grapes, one practicable response to climate change.

What’s high? An altitude measure for a vineyard is almost meaningless unless the latitude is discussed in the same breath. High altitude in vineyards in Europe go from around 500 meters (1640 feet) upwards. In South America, there are thousands of acres of vineyards at 1000m and higher, and the continent includes the world’s highest commercial vineyards, owned by Colomé, at more than 3000m (9850 feet).

And how does latitude come into it? The closer you are to the equator, generally the hotter it is, hence both the permanent snow line and the tree line are higher. At the typical latitude of fine European vineyards – 45 degrees north – there’s year-round snow above 2800m, and very few vineyards reach 1000m (3300 feet). Over in Limarí or Elquí in Chile, or Salta in Argentina, South America’s northernmost internationally known vineyard regions are much closer to the equator at 25-30 degrees south. Here, the permanent snow line moves to well above 4500m and the high-altitude vineyards only begin at 1500m.

Are there downsides for vineyards at high altitude? You bet there are – hence, in traditional Alpine wine regions, vineyard altitudes have actually come down over the past 100 years. Apart from the sheer impracticality of farming on a mountainside, there is a greater risk of frost damage, more exposure to certain vine diseases and mostly the problem of not getting grapes fully ripe due to wind chill. High-altitude viticulture is not for the fainthearted.

What’s special about the taste of high-altitude wines? The freshness is the overall hallmark for reds and whites, together with a delicacy of floral and fruit characters. Yet there will also be intensity of flavor, and potentially deep colors and big tannins for certain reds. All this and their stories of so-called “heroic viticulture” make these wines a big deal.

 

 

 

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Tasting No. 208 – March 25, 2019 – Wines from Israel

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Galilee Vineyard

Tasting Overview

With a rich history of wine production dating back to biblical times, Israel is a part of the cradle of wine civilization. Here, wine was commonly used for religious ceremonies as well as for general consumption. During Roman times, it was a popular export, but during Islamic rule around 1300, production was virtually extinguished. The modern era of Israeli wine-making began in the late 19th century with help from Bordeaux’s Rothschild family. Accordingly, most grapes grown in Israel today are made from native French varieties. Indigenous varieties are all but extinct, though oenologists have made recent attempts to rediscover ancient varieties such as Marawi for commercial wine production. In Israel’s Mediterranean climate, humidity and drought can be problematic, concentrating much of the country’s grape growing in the north near Galilee, Samaria near the coast and at higher elevations in the east. The most successful red varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, while the best whites are made from Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The  main objective of this tasting is to explore and asses a sample of wines from Israel.

Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenter: Pedro Turina

These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Barkan Classic Chardonnay, Judean Hills
  2. 2013 Yatir  Mt. Amassa, Blend,  Judean Hills 
  3. 2013 Tabor, Adama Cabernet Sauvignon, Terra Rosa, Galilee
  4. 2016 Tabor, Mt. Tabor  Shiraz , Galilee

This is the menu:

  1. Vegetables lasagna
  2. Spinach salad with strawberries, red onions and cherry tomatoes
  3. Gnocchi with light pesto sauce
  4. Lamb with rosemary sauce and green beans, zucchini and broccoli.
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Gracia-Gracia, Alberto Gómez, Orlando Mason, Agilson Perazza, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sánchez, Jairo Sánchez, Ginger Smart, Pedro Turina, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zinke

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2016 Barkan Classic Chardonnay, Judean Hills

The Wine: The wine is produced from 100% Chardonnay grapes, picked from the vineyards of the Barkan Winery in the Upper Galilee region and the Jerusalem Mountains. The wine has an abundance of fragrances and tastes of citrus fruit and white peaches with a smooth and round finish.

The Winery: (From Wine.com) Barkan was founded in 1899, to produce sweet Kiddush wine and brandy for the Jewish settlement in Israel. In 1990 the winery set forth on a program of modernization and planting of vineyards and selected Kibbutz Hulda to be a good site for the new center. The proximity to one of Barkan’s main vineyards – Hulda – was the most important consideration, and its central location, close to major roads and removed from urban areas, was also important. Barkan receives grapes from vineyards from all the best regions in Israel. The winery’s location allows the grapes to be quickly transported to the winery, to insure freshness and to maximize quality. In addition, the strategic location was optimal for distribution of the bottled wine to market.

 2013 Yatir  Mt. Amassa, Blend, Judean Hills

The Wine: WE: With aromas of cherry, cranberry and chocolate, this wine offers similar notes on the palate, along with a hint of eucalyptus. Its strong and slightly grippy tannins are kept in check by vibrant acidity that triumphs on the mint and orange finish.

Yatir Mt. Amasa 2013 is composed of 48% Syrah, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec, 10% Petit Verdot from a number of plots in the Yatir Forest vineyards at altitudes between 650 and 900 meters above sea level. The composition of species of the wine differs from year to year, depending on the nature of the harvest, in order to emphasize the “Yatir” character and uniqueness of the region and its vineyards. The wines from the various vineyards are matured separately in oak barrels for one year prior to creating the final blend. The wine was bottled in March 2013 and left at the winery for another year and a half to age in the bottle. It is suited to continued maturing for another five years or more

The Winery:  The fundamental wine of the Yatir Winery, which has been listed in some of Israel’s finest restaurants, presents stability and consistency of the highest quality, year after year. The wilderness, the mountain and the vegetation on the reservation, along with Mount Amasa (at an altitude of 859 meters+) border the Yatir Forest and its vineyards and serve as a unique meeting place between the mountain and the desert, the snow and the sun, the rocks and earth – all which embody the nature of the Yatir wines. This is how the new name of the wine was conceived. Up to the 2010 vintage, it was called “Yatir Merlot / Shiraz / Cabernet.” The wine is based on Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz varieties. As with similar climatic regions in the world (the South of France, Australia), the combination of these varieties is synergetic and it intensifies the wine with a refreshing, peppery body of the Cabernet and a fruity softness and smoky zing of the Shiraz. The Winery uses varying percentages of Merlot / Malbec / Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc in its blends. The assortment of varieties contributes to the accentuation of the regional character of the wine over the nature of each individual variety. The wine is aged for approximately one year in small barrels (225 liters) and in large wooden containers (5,000 liters), with the goal of obtaining fresh fruit and mineral-oriented wine, with no emphasized wood flavors. The Yatir-like nature of the wine is manifested in the firm structure of the wine and its aroma of Mediterranean seasoning herbs (sage, rosemary, thyme) which blend beautifully with the fruit flavors. The wine is bottled and marketed after two additional years of further aging in the bottle.

 2013 Tabor Adama Cabernet Sauvignon, Terra Rosa, Galilee

The Wine: This Cabernet Sauvignon plot grew in the Upper Galilee’s Kedesh Valley. This unique area is characterized with stony Terra Rossa soil causing the vine roots to search for stored water deep into the layers of rock contributing to a strong and balanced wine.

The Winery: Tabor is known as one of Israel’s largest wineries that feature many premium wines in their portfolio (it is the 5th largest but should be noted that there’s a big difference in volume between Tabor and the 4th largest winery).  The winery was started in 1999 by four growers in the Tabor Village (Kfar Tabor), in the Lower Galilee,. Over the years, they have been able to grow from producing 30,000 bottles a year to close to two million. Tabor Winery does not own any of their vineyards, which is common in Israel, yet they have long relationships and contracts with their growers that are typically between 17 to 18 years with stipulations added from both sides to protect the interests of each party. Tabor is known for their impressive Cabernet Sauvignon wines, and it is no surprise noting that they work with 30 different individual Cabernet Sauvignon plots from an array of vineyards across Israel.

 2016 Tabor, Mt. Tabor  Shiraz , Galilee

The Wine: This wine’s bramble fruit and violet aromas set the scene for raspberry, lavender and tobacco flavors. It’s smooth on the palate, with a nice balance of fruit and savory characteristics and a zesty finish marked by a touch of salinity.

In the select vineyards of Tabor Winery in the Galilee, high-quality Shiraz grapes were grown and carefully harvested. From these grapes we created the wine while paying close attention to preserving the natural aroma and original flavors of the grape variety. The wine consists of 90% Shiraz grapes and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. By maintaining the freshness and vitality of the grape, this variety’s classic aromas and flavors of ripe fruits and violets combined with light earthy notes are present. The wine is soft-bodied with round velvety tannins and is light and pleasant to drink. The wine was especially created for moments of joy, closeness and good friendship. It is fresh and fruity and carries the spirit of Mount Tabor. Tastes great with leaner red meat, stew, and mildly spicy ethnic foods.

The Winery: (See above)

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 208 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2013 Yatir Mt. Amasa, Blend Judean Hills, Galilee -$40

Best Buy: 2013 Tabor, Adama Cabernet Sauvignon, Terrra Rosa, Galilee – $20

Technical Note

Compiled by Pedro Turina

 

The Middle East & Eastern Mediterranean was the cradle of the world’s wine culture, and Canaan must have been one of the earliest countries to enjoy wine, over 2,000 years before the vine reached Europe.  The oldest grape pips found in the regions of modern Turkey, Syria and Lebanon date back to the Stone Age period (c. 8000 B.C.E.).

 

Noah Plants Vineyard

The art of winemaking is thought to have begun in the area between the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Sea of Galilee.  Indeed, the oldest pips of ‘cultivated’ vines, dating to c. 6000 B.C.E., were found in Georgia.  The biblical Noah was the first recorded viticulturist who, after the flood, “became a husbandman and planted a vineyard.”  As The Book of Genesis relates, he was also the first person to suffer from drinking too much!

The vine then traveled south, through Phoenicia and Canaan to Egypt, the world’s first great wine culture.  It is known that the Egyptians particularly prized the wine of Canaan.

 

Moses’ Cluster of Grapes

In the Book of Numbers, the story is told of how Moses sent spies to check out the Promised Land. They returned with a cluster so large, that it had to be suspended from a pole and carried by two men. Today both Carmel Winery and the Israel Government Tourist Office use this image as their logo. The grapes were chosen to symbolize how the land flowed with milk and honey. The vine was one of the blessings of the Promised Land promised to the children of Israel.

In recent years excavations have uncovered ancient presses and storage vessels that indicate a well-developed and successful wine industry existed in the area. Grapes, grape clusters and vines were frequent motifs on coins and jars found from ancient times.  Coins have been found commemorating the victories of the Hasmoneans and Bar Kochba with grapes featured as a symbol of the fertility of the country.  Many wine presses and storage cisterns have been found from Mount Hermon to the Negev.

Inscriptions and seals of wine jars illustrate that wine was a commercial commodity being shipped in goatskin or pottery from ports such as Dor, Ashkelon and Joppa (Jaffa). The vineyards of Galilee and Judea were mentioned. Wines with names like Sharon, Carmel and from places like Gaza, Ashkelon and Lod were famous. The earliest storage vessels originated in southern Canaan and were known as Canaanite Jars. Today they are better known by their Greek name, ‘Amphora.’

 

King David’s Cellar

The Kings of Judah were said to have owned vast vineyards and stores for wine. King David’s wine holdings were so substantial that his court included two special officials to manage them. One oversaw the vineyards and the other the cellars. This may have been Israel’s first sommelier! At this time the Jewish devotion to wine was clearly shown in their developing literature, lifestyle and religious ritual. Indeed, anyone planting a new vineyard was exempt from military service, even in national emergency.

In about 1800 B.C.E. there was a communication which reported that Palestine was “blessed with figs and with vineyards producing wine in greater quantity than water.”The Book of Isaiah gives very clear instructions of how to plant care for a vineyard, even to the point of suggesting the wine press is close to the vineyard. Micha’s vision of peace on earth and harmony among men was illustrated with, “and every man will sit under his vine and under his fig tree and none shall make him afraid.”The wine produced was not just for drinking but also important for medical purposes, for cleaning out homes and dyeing cloth. It was also used as a currency for paying tribute.

Winemaking in Ancient Israel and was at its peak during the period of the Second Temple. It was a major export and the economic mainstay of the era. However, when the Romans destroyed the Temple, Jews were dispersed and the once proud industry forsaken. The Arab conquest from 600 C.E. and Mohammed’s prohibition of alcohol caused many remaining vineyards to be uprooted,

The Crusades

The Crusaders briefly revived the cultivation of grapes in the Holy Land and grapes were planted in places like Bethlehem and Nazareth.  The revival was short lived, but the Crusaders did return to Europe with many noble grape varieties which had their origins in the Middle East. Varieties such as Chardonnay, Muscat and Shiraz are said to come from the region.

On the founding of the Ottoman Empire, the Middle Eastern wine industry was finally obliterated because of the decline in wealth of the whole region and the wars and epidemics which greatly reduced and weakened the populations.  Communities which had supported the wine industry finally departed. Prices of wine rose, consumption fell. Hashish, and later coffee, replaced wine as affordable intoxicants.

 

Cheers – or as we say here, Le Chaim – To Life !!

 Israel Preker, BSc

Tel. +972-54-5595747
EMail
israel@winesisrael.com

https://winesisrael.com/en/welcome/

 

Psalm 104:15   wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.

 

 

Ecclesiatstes 9:7    Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.

 

VINEYARDS

Israel is usually regarded as being part of the Middle East. It may be more accurately considered as being situated in the Eastern Mediterranean, a region also referred to as the Near East or ‘The Levant.’

CLIMATE:   Mainly Mediterranean. Long, hot dry summers; short wet winters; snow on higher ground. Semi-arid & desert conditions, in the Negev.

SOILS:    Volcanic in north; sandy red soils on coast & chalk & limestone on the hills.

HECTARES:   5,500 hectares (13,585 acres; 55,000 dunams).

HARVEST (METRIC TONS):  55,000

VINTAGE:     August to end of October – (often begins late July & occasionally ends early November); Machine & hand harvested.

BEST VINTAGES: 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016.

 

GRAPE VARIETIES

Israel’s traditional volume varieties, Carignan & Colombard, apart from some quality old vine Carignans, are usually only used in inexpensive blends. They are gradually being replaced by international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc. Shiraz is proving both popular & suitable for Israel’s climate. Bordeaux varieties have been most successful to date, yet Mediterranean varieties may be more suitable in the longer term. There is research & experimentation with local varieties.

VARIETIES – METRIC TONS %:

Cabernet Sauvignon 19%; Carignan 13%; Merlot 12%; Shiraz/ Syrah 7%; Petit Verdot 6%; Argaman 5%; Colombard 4%; Muscat of Alexandria 4%;  Chardonnay 3%; Petite Sirah 3%; Sauvignon Blanc  2%; Emerald Riesling 2%; Cabernet Franc 2%; Malbec 2%; Tempranillo 1%; Gewurztraminer1%, Viognier 1%.

LESS THAN 1%: Pinotage; Muscat Canelli; White Riesling; Pinot Noir; Semillon: Sangiovese; Tempranillo;  Barbera; Muscat Hamburg; Chenin Blanc; Zinfandel; Grenache; Nebbiolo.

LOCAL INTEREST:  Argaman, Baladi, Dabouki, Marawi / Hamdani, Jandali.

Wine Regions of Israel

  • Galil Galilee       41% Upper Galilee

Lower Galilee

Golan Heights

  • Shomron Samaria     27%  Carmel

Sharon

Shomron Hills

 

  • Shimshon Samson     17%  Central Coastal

Judean Lowlands

Judean Foothills

 

  • Harey Yehuda Judean Hills  10%        Jerusalem

Gush Etzion

Yatir Forest

 

Hanegev                      Negev             5%        Central Negev

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tasting No. 207 – February 25, 2019 – Cabernet Sauvignon USA

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

source: commons.wikimedia.org

Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to assess and compare three wines from the Columbia River Valley (Washington State). Two of them are labeled Cabernet Sauvignon wines and one is a Bordeaux left bank type of blend .  An important aspect of the tasting is to find out the effect of blending.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Clara Estrada, Jorge García-García

These are the wines:

    1. 2014 Anam Cara Cellars, Riesling Nicholas State, Chehalem Mountains, Oregon
    2. 2015 Mullan Road Cellars, Red Wine Blend, Columbia Valley
    3. 2015 Canvasback, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Yakima Valley
    4. 2009 Januik, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

This is the menu:

      1. Lobster bisque
      2. Risotto with mushrooms
      3. Gnocchi au grtain
      4. Short rib braised with mushrooms and green beans
      5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Clara Estrada, Ruth Connolly, Jaiem Estupiñan, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Orlando Mason, John Redwood, Lucia Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ricardo Santiago, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2014 Anam Cara Cellars, Riesling Nicholas State, Chehalem Mountains, Oregon

The Wine: Dry as labeled, redolent with the inviting crispness of mountain air, this brings a lovely mix of green apple, pear, melon and cucumber flavors. Bright citrus highlights the zippy acids, leading to a lip-smacking, tart but oh-so-satisfying finish.

The Winery: Nick and Sheila Nicholas have made each Anam Cara Cellars  wine from the grapes they first planted on this site in 2001. Over time, they have adapted their organic farming practices to reflect the rhythm of the vines and fine-tuned their wine making to reflect this unique part of the Willamette Valley.

Before the property was planted, it was an overgrown walnut, filbert (hazelnut) and plum orchard. Several of the old fruit trees from the original farmstead remain, and produce apples, cherries, quince and pears. The vineyard is planted on a southeast-facing slope of the Willamette Valley’s Chehalem Mountains AVA in the hills above Newberg, Oregon, at an elevation that varies from 350ft-650ft and the vineyard rows are planted in a north-south direction, benefiting from cool, drying winds through the 99W corridor which keep mildew and frost pressure at bay.  The soils are primarily Loess (wind-blown ice age sediment) with bedrock and outcrops of volcanic Jory soils and deposits from the Missoula floods. Of the original 27 vineyard acres, five 5-acre blocks are Pinot Noirs as well as an additional acre each of Riesling and Gewurztraminer. In 2008, the family planted a further six acres according to the biodynamic calendar which saw their first harvest in 2011. The new vineyard is planted in 2-acre blocks to Riesling, Chardonnay and Wadenswil Pinot Noir. In 2014, the Nicholas’ downsized their ownership to six acres, still purchasing fruit from the original plantings to make their wine.

Anam Cara wines are both L.I.V.E. (Low Input Viticulture and Enology) and Salmon Safe.

Read more at: https://www.anamcaracellars.com/

2015 Mullan Road Cellars, Red Wine Blend, Columbia Valley

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: Vibrant notes of blackberry, black currant, plum skin and dark baking spices. Concentrated and polished, with a touch ofdried herbs, tea leaves and a dried berry potpourri. The fruits are ripe though poised with fresh squeezed berries, licorice,toast and raspberry intermingling with an intriguing hint of smoke and resin. The palate is polished and beautifully textured, with finely integrated tannins. An elegant and age worthy blend. Pairs well with any red meat on the grill, pork tenderloin, heavy cheeses and grilled vegetables. Blend: 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot, and 12% Cabernet Franc

A first-release from this winery founded by Napa Valley’s Dennis Cakebread, this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc from Seven Hills Vineyard shows notes of tomato leaf, chocolate, cherry and vanilla. The oak (44% new French and American) initially takes the lead. Fruit flavors are focused and soft, with the oak giving the tannins a slightly astringent feel.

(RP) Coming more from the Seven Hills vineyard, the 2012 Columbia Valley Red Wine has an old-school, classic Cabernet feel in its lead pencil, tobacco, dusty pebble and assorted dark fruits. Full-bodied, elegant and layered, with both texture and structure, this beauty will hit maturity around age 4-5, and drink nicely through 2027.

The Winery:  (From Wine.com) A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon! Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.

Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.

Mullan Cellar fruit comes from three vineyards, namely a) Seven Hills Vineyars. With an elevation of 850 to 1,050 feet, the site has excellent soil and air drainage and is one of the most technologically advanced in the industry. The vertically trained canopy, controlled cluster spacing and sunlight exposure generates uniform fruit ripeness. Soil moisture is monitored daily by computer with sophisticated drip irrigation scheduled to augment vine development yet limit excessive canopy growth. Yields are strictly controlled to assure ultra-premium quality, b) Lawrence Vineyard. Our Corfu Crossing site is located on the Frenchman Hills overlooking the Saddle Mountains with elevation ranging from 1,365 to 1,675 feet, and the entire vineyard on the southern slope. Corfu Crossing features a silt loam soil at a depth of 18 to 42 inches on top of fractured basalt. Our soil has very good drainage, which provides us with optimum control over the water intake of the vines. Rows are established north to south, with the vine spacing at 8 feet by 4 feet. We source our water from a well, and our irrigation system features drip at four feet intervals; and c) Stillwater Creek Vineyard. Stillwater Creek Vineyard is a 235 acre site on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman Hills. Planted in 2000 on a steep, south-facing slope with one of the most diverse clone selections in Washington State, Stillwater Creek quickly has earned a reputation as one of the Columbia Valley’s top vineyards. The site’s fractured rock and extreme southern exposure are ideal for reds, especially Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Temperatures during the growing season favor warm days and cool nights. Grapes ripen beautifully under these conditions, enhanced by both hours of light per day during the summer and the total number of sunlight days from bud-break through harvest.

Read more at: https://mullanroadcellars.com/

 2015 Canvasback, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain, Yakima Valley

The Wine: Winemaker Notes:A gorgeous expression of Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine begins with effusive aromas of blackberry, marionberry and black cherry. As it evolves, layers of mocha, cinnamon and clove reveal themselves, as well as hints of sarsaparilla and black licorice, all of which frame the fruit, while adding depth and nuance. The palate is supple and juicy, with a voluminous texture, hedonistic black fruit and a complex French oak-inspired spice box note that carries through to a long and sophisticated finish. Blend: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Merlot, 3% Malbec.

(WS) In its second vintage on Red Mountain, Duckhorn produced a massive cabernet. The initial impression is that it’s so opaque, it won’t be able to get out of its own way. But after just ten minutes it starts to reveal its trajectory, a concentrated, powerful, black-fruited wine adorned with scents of lavender and rosemary – relentless, and yet completely in balance, and years from peak expression. It’s a cabernet to cellar and watch evolve for a decade.

(RP) Made by Brian Rudin and a beautiful wine anyway you look at it, the 2013 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon (there’s 9% Merlot and 3% Malbec) is a full-bodied, ripe, layered effort that has terrific notes of loamy earth, truffle, wild herbs and assorted black fruits. Aged 16 months in 40% new oak, from seven different parcels on Red Mountain, it has the fruit and texture to drink nicely today, but will cruise for a decade or more.

The Winery:  (From Wine.com) A coveted source of top quality red grapes among premier Washington producers, the Red Mountain AVA is actually the smallest appellation in the state. As its name might suggest, it is actually neither a mountain nor is it composed of red earth. Instead the appellation is an anticline of the Yakima fold belt, a series of geologic folds that define a number of viticultural regions in the surrounding area. It is on the eastern edge of Yakima Valley with slopes facing southwest towards the Yakima River, ideal for the ripening of grapes. The area’s springtime proliferation of cheatgrass, which has a reddish color, actually gives the area the name, “Red” Mountain.

Red Mountain produces some of the most mineral-driven, tannic and age-worthy red wines of Washington and there are a few reasons for this. It is just about the hottest appellation with normal growing season temperatures commonly reaching above 90F. The soil is particularly poor in nutrients and has a high pH, which results in significantly smaller berry sizes compared to varietal norms. The low juice to skin ratio in smaller berries combined with the strong, dry summer winds, leads to higher tannin levels in Red Mountain grapes.The most common red grape varieties here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, among others. Limited white varieties are grown, namely Sauvignon blanc. The reds of the area tend to express dark black and blue fruit, deep concentration, complex textures, high levels of tannins and as previously noted, have good aging capabilities.

To create wines that are as complex as they are captivating, Canvasback is following the model established decades ago by Duckhorn Vineyards, and will ultimately combine grapes from top growers with fruit from Canvasback’s own estate vineyard. The Canvasback team has already established great relationships with the growers who farm some of the appellation’s most esteemed vineyards, including Klipsun, La Coye, Shaw and Quintessence. In 2013, Canvasback put down roots on Red Mountain when it acquired a 20-acre unplanted vineyard site. Located near the top of the mountain, above the frost zone at an elevation of approximately 1,100 to 1,300 feet, the site was widely recognized as the most coveted uncultivated site of the mountain. Guided by Washington winegrowing legend and Canvasback vineyard manager Dick Boushey, and founding winemaker Brian Rudin, Canvasback began planting its Red Mountain vineyard predominantly to Cabernet Sauvignon in 2014.

In both the vineyard and winery, Brian embraces the challenge of making a richly compelling wine that shows the complexity and structure of great Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon. “Red Mountain is one of the best places on earth to grow Cabernet,” says Brian. “The desert environment, with its long days, cold nights and mineral-rich soils produce epic Cabernet Sauvignons.”

Read more at: https://www.canvasbackwine.com/

2009 Januik, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

 The Wine: The spring of 2009 was cooler and wetter than usual delaying bud break by a few weeks, but cool weather worries quickly subsided with the arrival of warm, dry weather in June. Temperatures continued to climb in July and stayed warm through August. Ideal weather conditions in September and into early October ripened grapes beautifully at a record pace resulting in a short, compressed harvest that wrapped up just before an unusual early fall freeze hit the Columbia Valley on October 10th.

After destemming and crushing, grapes were fermented on their skins for an average of eight days. After being pressed off, the wine was aged for 20 months in primarily new French Oak barrels to improve its already lengthy finish. Racking the wine every four months created pliant tannins and a bold, stylish structure.

This dense, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon is packed with cassis, blackberry, pomegranate and warm vanilla notes in the nose. The tannins are refined but still have texture. It lingers across the palate, imparting a long, polished finish that was developed in part from aging in new French oak barrels.

At first this wine seems quite astringent, closed and tight. It shows dark streaks of cassis and dried leaf, and it only reluctantly opens up to expand the black fruit flavor with a wash of Bourbon barrel.

89% Cab Sauv, 7% Merlot, 2% Cab Franc, 2% Malbec

The Winery: One of the advantages of having made wine in the Columbia Valley since the mid-1980s is the opportunity it’s given me to work with some of the most dedicated growers in the industry. Our Columbia Valley wines are made from a short list of vineyards I consider to be among the best in the state. The diversity of these vineyards-representing many of the most mature, carefully managed sites in Washington-provides for a full range of fruit expression that allows me to craft complex, multi-layered wines true to Columbia Valley terroir as well as the varietal character of the grapes. Our 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon includes grapes from Champoux, Klipsun, Red Mountain and Weinbau vineyards.

Read more at: https://www.noveltyhilljanuik.com/

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 207 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2009 Januik, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

Best Buy: 2009 Januik, Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

 

 

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Tasting No. 206 – January 28, 2019 – Chilean Cabernets

Club del Vino

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to explore and assess Cabernet Sauvignon wines from Chile.

Type of Tasting: Blind

Wines presenters: Peter Lapera, Ricardo Zavaleta

These are the wines:

  1. 2018 Porta, Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley
  2. 2014 Cousiño Macul, Antiguas Reservas, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley
  3. 2016 Porta, Gran Reserva, Single Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley
  4. 2015 Gravas Rojas, Concha y Toro, Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Alto Maipo

This is the menu: (Subject to change)

  1. Seafood Salad
  2. Cheese plate
  3. Cheese ravioli with meat sauce
  4. Grilled lamb and roasted potatoes with wine sauce
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: 

Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada,Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, , Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, , Ricardo Santiago, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

2018 Porta, Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley

The Wine: Central Valley, Chile – Bright yellow in color, this Sauvignon Blanc hints to lively grapefruit and kiwi aromas, complemented with soft floral notes. The well-balanced and fruity palate features crisp acidity followed by a beautiful finish.

The Winery:  (From Wine Searcher) The Central Valley (El Valle Central) of Chile is one of the most important wine-producing areas in South America in terms of volume. It is also one of the largest wine regions, stretching from the Maipo Valley (just south of Santiago) to the southern end of the Maule Valley. This is a distance of almost 250 miles (400km) and covers a number of climate types. The Central Valley wine region is easily (and often) confused with the geological Central Valley, which runs north–south for more than 620 miles (1000km) between the Pacific Coastal Ranges and the lower Andes.

A wide variety of wine styles and quality can be found in this large area, from many different terroirs. They range from the fashionable (and relatively expensive) Bordeaux-style wines produced in northern Maipo, to the older, more-established vineyards of Maule; from the coastal plains of western Colchagua to the Andean foothills of Puente Alto. With experimentation so popular in the modern wine world, however, it is the newer, cooler-climate areas which are receiving most attention, with the emphasis on the Andean foothills and the river valleys tempered by the cooling effects of the Pacific Ocean.

The Central Valley is also home to a variety of grapesbut plantings are dominated by the internationally popular Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Chile’s ‘icon’ grape, Carmenère, is also of importance here, just as Malbec is to Mendoza, on the other side of the Andes. The cooler corners of the Central Valley are being increasingly developed, as winemakers experiment with varieties such as Viognier, Rieslingand even Gewurztraminer.

Read more at: http://www.vinaporta.cl/en

2014 Cousiño Macul, Antiguas Reservas, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley

The Wine: Winemaker Notes Showcasing a dark ruby color, this wine offers intense fruit aromas of berry, delicate cocoa, fresh herbs and light toast followed on the palate by harmonious flavors of ripe black plums and blackberry fruit. Medium-bodied, this wine has a persistent and complex finish and a structure that allows it to be enjoyed now or left to age for up to a decade.

This wine can easily be paired with a great porterhouse steak to Penne Arrabiata.

The Winery:  ( From Wine Searcher) Viña Cousiño-Macul is a Chilean winery based in the Maipo Valley, just south of Santiago. It was founded in 1856 and is one of the only producers founded in this time that is still family-owned. Cousiño-Macul makes a wide range of varietal and blended wines from international grape varieties including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Syrah.

Much of the estate’s production takes place in the Maipo Valley. The original vineyards are located in Macul, a commune east of Santiago. The calcareous soils here are well-suited to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot production, and Cousiño-Macul’s top Finis Terrae wines are made from grapes sourced from this site. However, Santiago’s urban sprawl limited the size of production and so in 1996 Cousiño-Macul acquired 300 hectares (750 acres) of land in Buin, in the Alto Maipo. Cousiño-Macul’s third vineyard is located in Alhué, a coastal area of the Maipo, and is planted primarily to Carmenere and Syrah.

In total, the estate’s three vineyards are planted to nine different red and white grape varieties, all of which are planted on their own rootstocks. These range from premium offerings to more value-driven wines.

Read more at: http://www.cousinomacul.com/en/

 2016 Porta, Gran Reserva, Single Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley

The Wine: This elegant wine balances strong character with softness. The bright fruit flavors are complimented by oak and notes of vanilla. Tannins are soft and silky in this full bodied wine.

The Winery: The Maipo Valley is Chile’s most famous wine region. Set in the country’s Central Valley, it is warm and quite dry, often necessitating the use of irrigation. Alluvial soils predominate but are supplemented with loam and clay.The climate in Maipo is best-suited for ripe, full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon (the region’s most widely planted grape), Merlot, Syrah and Carmenère, a Bordeaux variety that has found a successful home in Chile.White wines are also produced with great prosperity, especially near the cooler coast, include Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Read more at: http://www.vinaporta.cl/en

2015 Gravas Rojas, Concha y Toro, Cabernet Sauvignon, Puente Alto, Alto Maipo

The Wine: Aromas of baked blackberry are a touch earthy but mostly easy to process. This Cabernet feels solid but not overextracted. Malty, earthy flavors of baked berry fruits and cassis finish with coffee and mocha notes. Drink through 2021.

The Winery: (From Wine Searcher) Concha y Toro is the largest wine producer in South America, with more than 8700 hectares (21,500 acres) of vineyards spread throughout Chile’s major wine growing regions. The extensive portfolio is divided into several ranges, led by four flagship wines from different grape varieties. The Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon from Puente Alto in Maipo is one of Chile’s first icon wines, sourced from a stony, mineral-rich vineyard on river terraces. Meanwhile, Carmín de Peumo is one of the first super-premium Carmenere wines, from Peumo in the Rapel Valley. Gravas del Maipo is the company’s top Syrah, while Amelia is the flagship Chardonnay from vineyards in the Casablanca Valley.

The company also collaborates with the Baron Philippe de Rothschild company, owners of Mouton-Rothschild, to produce the Almaviva red. This is sourced from some of Concha y Toro’s best vineyards in Puente Alto and has been one of the most highly rated wines in Chile since its first release in 1996.

The estate was founded in 1883 by Don Melchor de Santiago Concha y Toro and his wife Emiliana Subercaseaux, with vines brought from Bordeaux. The current Marques de Casa Concha remains on the board of directors. In 2011 Concha y Toro bought the Californian portfolio of Brown-Forman, and thus owns brands including Fetzer, Bonterra, Jekel and Coldwater Creek.

Read more at: https://conchaytoro.com/en/

CV Members Rating – TBA

View full evaluation here: 206 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2015 Gravas Rojas, Concha y Toro,
Puente Alto, Maipo

Best Buy: 2014 Cousiño Macul, Antiguas Reservas, Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo Valley

 

 

 

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Tasting No. 205 – December 10, 2018 – Sparkling Wines

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to compare sparkling wines from different countries and evaluate their pairing with the menu.

Type of Tasting: Open

Wines presenters: Ruth Connolly

These are the wines:

  1. Aragosta Spumante Brut Vermentino Di Sardegna
  2. Cruzat. Nature, Brut Champagne, Valle del Uco, Argentina.
  3. AR Lenoble NV Intense Brut Champagne
  4. NV Fita Azul Woman Espumante Dolce Metodo Classico, Douro, Portugal

This is the menu:

  1. Fried Calamari
  2. Arugula, goat cheese, walnuts, virgin olive oil salad
  3. Ravioli filled with lobster meat & shrimp in a lobster sauce
  4. Veal scallopini sautéed in caper in lemon and  butter sauce
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Italo Mirkow, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, Pedro Turina, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke.

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

Aragosta Spumante Brut Vermentino Di Sardegna

The Wine: Aragosta is a sparkling Brut wine obtained from local grapes selected and hand – picked into an old area of Santa Maria La Palma country and processed by Charmat method. This Brut represent for the company the relationship between old and young generation of farmers; a way to give continuity to the success of the most important Vermentino wine of Cellar “The Aragosta”.

Pale straw-yellow with long perlage. Intense bouquet with white fruit suggestions and light crusty bread. Fresh, elegant with long pleasant flavor. Ideal like aperitif and with whole meal of fish and shell-fish and seafood dishes.

The Winery: At Santa Maria la Palma, there are no counts, barons or marquises. Instead, there are lots of families of winemakers and farm workers. Fifty years ago, they were allocated a series of uncultivated plots near the city of Alghero (northwest of the Sardinia island in the Tyrhenian sea) . Rather than a silver spoon, they had strong arms, straight backs, passion and principles.

 Cruzat Nature, Brut Champagne, Valle del Uco, Argentina

The Wine: Winemaker Pedro Rosell is recognised as Argentina’s leading voice in sparkling wine production.  Rosell’s unique process of leaving base wines for 2 years on lees followed by 2 years on lees in the bottle has built layers of complexity….freshly baked bread, french paterisserie.  Fruit grown in the prestigious Lujan de Cuyo and much more at higher altitudes in the Uco Valley of Mendoza which imparts the classic acid profile into all their sparkling.  No one in Argentina comes close to Cruzat in the premium bubbly stakes. Cuvee comprises 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir (dry zero dosage) …gorgeous fresh aromas of citrus, quince, tropical fruit and nutty, freshly baked bread nuances.  Lovely delicacy, vibrant acidity and terrific persistence of flavour.  This fine sparkling comes up trumps for sophistication

The Winery:  Since the early days of the winery, our goal has been to make high quality sparkling wines for the high-end segment, a market that shows great potential and growth in the region. Initially, and in order to achieve our goal of making the highest quality sparkling wines, one of the priorities in the project was to find the most suitable location to plant vines and start building the winery. This entailed selecting potential sites that would provide the perfect conditions: good altitude, good temperature and soils with good drainage. Cruzat sparkling wines, elaborated using the traditional method of second in-bottle fermentation, reflect our permanent quest for excellence and our painstaking attention to detail throughout the wine making process.

Read more at: http://bodegacruzat.com/en/

AR Lenoble NV Intense Brut Champagne

The Wine: Intense is a good description of this tightly textured and mineral-driven wine. Its fruit is subdued by the steely, tense character, although there are attractive hints of crisp apple and citrus acidity. The bottling is young and will repay several months aging after purchase.

The Winery: R Lenoble is one of the rare producers in Champagne that has been consistently family-owned and entirely independent since the very beginning. Sister-and-brother owners Anne and Antoine Malassagne are the great-grandchildren of Armand-Raphaël Graser. They took over in 1993 from their father and in just over twenty years, they have quietly yet confidently transformed AR Lenoble into one of the jewels of the Champagne region. AR Lenoble was the second House in Champagne to be awarded the “Haute Valeur Environnementale” certification as part of a legal measure implemented under French law in 2007 to encourage sustainable development.

Read more at: http://champagne-arlenoble.com/about/

NV Fita Azul Woman Espumante Dolce Metodo Classico, Douro, Portugal

The Wine: Clear, with fine bubbles and a yellow straw colour. It is rich on the nose, with an exuberant aroma and floral notes of roses and jasmine. Very elegant, smooth, with intense floral notes standing out, giving a sweet but fresh combination.

The Winery: There is little information about this winery on line. Read at: http://www.fitaazul.pt/en/fitaazul/history

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: Summary of Tasting Scores 205

Best Rated Wine: Aragosta Spumante Brut Vermentino Di Sardegna

Best Buy: Aragosta Spumante Brut Vermentino Di Sardegna

Technical Notes 

CHAMPAGNE AND OTHER SPARKLING WINES

By Ruth Connolly

When I think of champagne – with a small c – I think of bubbles.  I’m not particularly fond of bubbles; ergo champagne and other bubblies were until this presentation beyond my ken.

So I started with the basics:  What is champagne?  Is everything bubbly, champagne?  If not, what’s the difference?  Does or should it matter?  If there is a difference, what is it?  What are other bubblies called?  What is sparkling wine?

As it turns out there is a difference and not one difference but many:  in grapes, in color, in methods of picking, processing, aging, taste, etc., etc., etc.  There are different names according to geographic locations, and even monopolistic struggles and political issues connected with naming, trading, and consuming.  Champagne and its brother bubblies are even discussed as a component of future food policy.  And, apparently, the generic term adopted for all is a category known as “Sparkling Wines,” although my research indicated that it includes a lot of variation in grapes and methods.  Wilkipedia has a menu box defining sparkling wine as follows:

“Sparkling wine is a wine that becomes carbonated, either through fermentation or by addition of carbon dioxide.  The oldest known production of sparkling wine took place in 1531 with the ancestral method.  Champagne is the most well-known variant, buth there are other variations such as Italian Prosecco and Spumante, Spanish Cava, French Crémant and German Sekt.”

Sparkling wines vary from dry to sweet as follows: Brut, Extra Dry or Extra Sec, Sec, Demi-Sec and Doux depending on the amount of residual sugar.

Countries producing champagne and sparkling wines include:  Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the United States and Australia.

Tastings for this meeting will include:  one authentic champagne from the actual Champagne region of France, and sparkling wines from Italy, Argentina and Portugal.

Champagne

Champagne is properly defined as a particular type of bubbly beverage, originating in the Champagne region of France, utilizing particular types of grapes and grown and processed utilizing a particular type of process which includes a double fermentation and the use of yeast.  This process, known as the “method champenoise,” was invented by Dom Perignon. The principal grapes utilized in the making of French champagne are:  chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier.  They can be blended also.

One characteristic of champagne is that it is made by adding yeast and sugar to a wine base so that it can be bottled for a crucial second fermentation. During this somewhat lengthy process, the bottle is tipped so that the sediment that results from the fermentation (called the “lees”) collects in the bottle neck for removal before corking. This long fermentation produces complex and rich flavor notes.

For a bottle of sparkling wine to be labeled Champagne, it has to be made in Champagne, France and produced using the méthode champenoise. If that bottle is produced using the exact same method, anywhere else, it must carry a different name. The production method itself must even be referred to differently, méthode tranditionalle being the usual substitute. These rules are strictly enforced. They are codified in national laws, European Union (EU) regulations, and international trade agreements and treaties. When they are broken, in even the most tangential ways, lawsuits are quickly filed. While sparkling wine producers in some countries may ignore these rules, their bottles could never make it onto a shelf in the EU. Since 2005, the same is true in the United States. And yet if you’ve ever seen bottles of bubbly labeled California Champagne – perhaps produced by Korbel, Cook’s or André – what you’ve seen is perfectly legal. The loophole that makes these labels legal is the result of a fight that began in the trenches of World War I, with roots going back to the nineteenth century.  This fight – to insure that the word “champagne” only refers to the particular version of sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France – continues to this day, as France tries to insure that no other beverage is called champagne.  This, in spite of the fact that over the centuries a number of countries and districts appropriated the word “champagne” for their products.  However, a number of them are now promoting their versions of champagne under other designations:  “cava” in Spain and “spumante” in Italy are examples.

NOTE:  For more information on this fight, and its place in world trade and food policy, the article cited below is interesting.

Jay, Tim and Taylor, Madeline, “A case of champagne: a study of geographical indications” (2013). Corporate Governance eJournal. Paper 29. http://epublications.bond.edu.au/cgej/29

https://epublications.bond.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=14&ved=2ahUKEwj3xMaGhYXfAhXNtlkKHQsrCjQQFjANegQIAxAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fepublications.bond.edu.au%2Fcgi%2Fviewcontent.cgi%3Farticle%3D1028%26context%3Dcgej&usg=AOvVaw0sOJj2m7oac1IGgiNH-Klt&httpsredir=1&article=1028&context=cgej

Cava

Cava is the gem of Spanish sparkling wines.  Production utilizes three local grapes:  Macabeu, Xarel-lo and Parellada.  Cava originated in Penedés region of Catalonia in the mid-1800’s and emerged as sparkling white or rosé wine with characteristics ranging from very dry to sweet.  The name “Cava” comes from the Catalan word for cave or cellar, where the wine was traditionally stored or aged. Cava is similar to champagne in that it uses the methode champenoise, the traditional method of making champagne in which the second fermentation occurs inside the bottle.

However, cava and champagne come from two very different terrains.  The lack of sun in France’s champagne region results in a much more acidic wine, which must be smoothed out by adding sugar. Cava is lighter than champagne, and easier to drink.

According to the appellations, cava can be from eight different regions in Spain, although Catalonia accounts for 95% of Spain’s cava production.

There is a lot to love about a cool glass of crisp cava! Cava is wonderfully Mediterranean. The plentiful sunshine and mild climate in which the grapes grow make for a delightfully clean and refreshing wine. The very drinkable cava goes well with practically anything from fried fish to dessert.

Sparkling wines

Apparently, until the 1940’s Italian sparkling wine growers just called their product “champagne.” Today they have moved away from that designation and are marketing their sparkling wines as a distinct Italian brand.

There are several major types of sparkling wines from Italy, some of which are made using the “method champenoise.”  These include: Prosecco, Lambrusco, Franciacorta and Asti Spumante.  Italian sparkling wines can also be differentiated by their bubbles.  Spumante has a heavy bubble component whereas “frizzante” is much lighter on the bubbles.

Spumante as well is made by following very specific techniques. The highest quality technique to produce spumante is the Metodo Classico (classic technique). To date, some different bottles of spumante produced with this metodo stand up nicely against the most famous champagnes. Metodo Classico means that the sparkling wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle.  Spumante made with the Metodo Classico very much resemble the classical Champagne or Cava.   In contrast, the secondary fermentation for some other sparkling wines is done in steel tanks.

Asti (also known as Asti Spumante)[1] is a sparkling white Italian wine that is produced throughout southeastern Piedmont but is particularly focused around the towns of Asti and Alba. Since 1993 the wine has been classified as a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) and as of 2004 was Italy’s largest producing appellation.[2]  Made by law from the Moscato Bianco grape, it is sweet and low in alcohol, and often served with dessert. Asti is not made sparkling through the use of secondary fermentation in the bottle but rather through a single tank fermentation utilizing the Charmat method. It retains its sweetness through a complex filtration process.[3] Another wine called Moscato d’Asti is made in the same region from the same grape, but is only slightly sparkling (frizzante) and tends to have even lower alcohol.[2]

On 22 June 2014, Vineyard Landscape of Piedmont: Langhe-Roero and Monferrato was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[4][5] This landscape covers five distinct wine-growing areas and the Castle of Cavour, an important site both in the development of vineyards and in Italian history.

Prosecco is a sparkling Italian wine that has recently become very popular, even rivalling champagne in popularity. It is made in the Veneto region of Italy (the region that’s home to Venice and Verona) and is typically prepared from Glera grapes. Aside from the variety of grape, Prosecco differs from champagne in the process of its second fermentation, which is done in the bottle for champagne, but performed in large steel tanks for Prosecco.  This both reduces the cost and affects the flavor of Prosecco, which is considered to be lighter than champagne with hints of fruit and light flowers.  A good prosecco takes just a few months to move from the vine to wineglass, and rarely costs more than fifteen dollars.

Italian Spumante sales have exceeded those of champagne thanks to English and American consumers. Prosecco stands out, followed by Asti, and by Franciacorta

NOTES:

  1. a) See pastemagazine.com for a list of the world’s 100 best sparkling wines for under $300.
  2. b) For how to store your best sparkling wines under the sea, see the video at: winefolly.com
  3. c) http://www.abnewswire.com/pressreleases/sparkling-wine-market-2018-global-trends-market-share-industry-size-growth-opportunities-and-forecast-to-2023_263603.html
  4. d) Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC; pronounced [denominatˈtsjoːne di oˈriːdʒine kontrolˈlaːta]; English: controlled designation of origin) is a quality assurance label for Italian wines. The Italian government introduced the system in 1963 and overhauled it in 1992 to comply with European Union law on protected geographical designations of origin, which came into effect that year.

ADDITIONAL TECHNICAL NOTE

(Taken from https://www.dummies.com/food-drink/drinks/wine/the-methods-of-producing-sparkling-wine/)

THE METHODS OF PRODUCING SPARKLING WINE

Most sparkling wines go through two fermentations: one to turn the grape juice into still wine without bubbles (that’s called a base wine) and a subsequent one to turn the base wine into bubbly wine. The winemaker instigates the second fermentation by adding yeasts and sugar to the base wine. The added yeasts convert the added sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2) bubbles.

When yeasts convert sugar into alcohol, carbon dioxide is a natural by-product. If fermentation takes place in a closed container, that prevents this carbon dioxide from escaping into the air. With nowhere else to go, the CO2 becomes trapped in the wine in the form of bubbles.

Beginning with the second fermentation, the longer and slower the winemaking process, the more complex and expensive the sparkling wine will be. Some sparkling wines are ten years in the making; others are produced in only a few months. The slow-route wines can cost more than $100 a bottle, while bubblies at the opposite end of the spectrum can sell for as little as $4.

Although many variations exist, most sparkling wines are produced in one of two ways: through second fermentationin a tank, or through second fermentation in a bottle.

TANK FERMENTATION

The quickest, most efficient way of making a sparkling wine involves conducting the second fermentation in large, closed, pressurized tanks. This method is called the bulk methodtank methodcuve close (meaning closed tank in French), or charmat method (after a Frenchman named Eugene Charmat, who championed this process).

Sparkling wines made in the charmat (pronounced shar mah) method are usually the least expensive. That’s because they’re usually made in large quantities and they’re ready for sale soon after harvest. The whole process can take just a few weeks. Also, the grapes used in making sparkling wine by the charmat method (Chenin Blanc, for example) are usually far less expensive than the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay typically used in the traditional or champagne method.

BOTTLE FERMENTATION

The more traditional method of producing sparkling wines is to conduct the second fermentation in the individual bottles in which the wine is later sold. The technique of conducting the second fermentation in the bottle is called the classic or traditional method in Europe; in the United States, it’s called the champagne method or méthode champenoise.

Champagne has been made in this way for over 300 years and, according to French regulations, can be made in no other way. Many other French sparkling wines produced outside of the Champagne region use the same process but are allowed to use the term crémant in their names rather than champagne.

Bottle fermentation is an elaborate process in which every single bottle becomes an individual fermentation tank, so to speak. Including the aging time at the winery before the wine is sold, this process requires a minimum of fifteen months and usually takes three years or more. Invariably, bottle-fermented sparkling wines are more expensive than tank-fermented bubblies.

TASTE: THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING

The two different methods of producing sparkling wines result in different tastes:

Tank-fermented sparklers tend to be fruitier than traditional-method sparkling wines. This difference occurs because in tank fermentation, the route from grape to wine is shorter and more direct than in bottle fermentation. Some winemakers use the charmat, or tank, method because their goal is a fresh and fruity sparkling wine. Asti, Italy’s most famous sparkling wine, is a perfect example. You should drink charmat-method sparklers young, when their fruitiness is at its max.

Bottle fermentation makes wines that tend to be less fruity than charmat-method wines. Chemical changes that take place as the wine develops diminish the fruitiness of the wine and contribute aromas and flavors such as toastiness, nuttiness, caramel, and yeastiness. The texture of the wine can also change, becoming smooth and creamy. The bubbles tend to be tinier, and they feel less aggressive in your mouth than the bubbles of tank-fermented wines.

 

 

 

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Tasting No. 204 – October 29, 2018 – Pinot Noir

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

 

Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to assess and compare Pinot Noir from different parts of the world and identify the common features and character of the Pinot Noir varietal.  Paricipants would attempt to identify the geographic region of origin of the wines in this blind tasting.

Wines presenters: Jaime Estupiñan, Jaime Jaramillo

These are the wines:

  1. La Cuvee Mythique Brut Reserve Rose, Pinot Noir, France
  2. 2015 Pinot Noir,Louis Jadot, Bourgogne
  3. 2015 Framingham, Pinot Noir, Marlborough
  4. 2015 Garry Farrell Pinot Noir, Russian River

This is the menu :

  1. Smoked salmon
  2. Agnolotti in tomato sauce
  3. Mushrooms risotto
  4. Lamb in rosemary sauce
  5. Dessert/Coffee

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán, Jorge Garcia-Garcia, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo,  Orlando Mason, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Ginger Smart, Pedro Turina, German Zincke.

Information on the Wines

(The information below has been compiled from various internet sources) .

La Cuvee Mythique Brut Reserve Rose, Pinot Noir

The Wine: Delectable aromas of dark berries on the nose. This expressive and generous Brut Reserve reveals the finesse of its bubbles in an aromatic blackcurrant and redcurrant finish. Soft and smooth, with a creamy mousse, this is red fruit-flavored wine. It has a crisp citrus background while being ripe and rounded up front. The wine, 100% Pinot Noir, is ready to drink.

The Winery: Vinadeis with more than 520 employees, is a group with a unique set of skills as a producer, winemaker, blender and maturer of the wines of the South of France. VINADEIS is a vertically integrated global player in vine-to-glass, with a number of specialized tools in packaging, logistics and marketing. It is an outstanding expert in various fields: a creator of well-known brands, the undisputed leader in the commercialization of Domaines et Châteaux in the South of France, a pioneer in packaging and new products through its subsidiary dedicated to innovation, an expert in organic products and creator of a wine experience totally orientated towards customer satisfaction.

Today, Vinadeis has international operations, which make it possible to spread the reputation of the great wines of the South of France, from Aquitaine to the Rhone Valley, across the world. A strong sales and distribution network serving customers who appreciate close links combined with a very good knowledge of the markets.

Read more at: http://www.vinadeis.com/vinadeis-2/?lang=en

 2015 Pinot Noir, Louis Jadot, Bourgogne 

The Wine: Winemaker Notes: This medium-bodied wine is harmonious, with forward, plump fruit and a silky texture balanced by gentle tannins and elegant structure. The very typical Pinot aromas and flavors of red cherries and wild strawberries are complemented by a delicious, lingering finish. Pairs with red meats, roasts, pork tenderloin and soft cheeses

WS: –“Infused with graphite and cherry aromas and flavors, this Pinot Noir is expressive, and silky, with a good underlying structure for balance and composition. Drink now.”

The Winery:  The House of Louis Jadot has been producing exceptional Burgundy wines since its founding in 1859 by Louis Henry Denis Jadot. For the past 150 years Louis Jadot has continued as one of the great names of Burgundy and has gained international reputation for its superb red and white Burgundy wines. Louis Jadot is not only one of the largest producers of estate Burgundies of the Cote d’Or, it is one of the most celebrated exporters of premium Burgundies, owning close to 140 acres of vineyards from 24 of the most prestigious sites in Burgundy. Louis Jadot is one of Burgundy’s most important negociants, both qualitatively and quantitatively, with a portfolio that covers everything from inexpensive Bourgogne and Beaujolais wines to several grand cru wines, from the Côte de Beaune to Chablis. Unsurprisingly, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay feature heavily in the portfolio.

2015 Framingham, Pinot Noir, Marlborough

The Wine: Winemaker’s Notes: “Sweetly fruited Pinot Noir is world famous in Marlborough, but we’ve made it our own by including a few whole bunches. It’s a tricky process, and much more labour-intensive, but when done well it turns the wine to velvet. The stems build silkier tannins and lend a heavenly fragrance. Our final twist is a turn in a smoky oak barrel. Just long enough to add a few layers of savoury and spice complexity to those classic cranberry, cherry and plum fruit flavours. The wine has a complex nose with some attractive, savoury, smoked meat and spice notes. Cherry fruit, with herbs and a floral note. Rounded on the palate with cherry fruit, structured but approachable tannins and juicy acidity. Summer fruit compote, hints of smoky oak and some whole bunch derived spice complete the picture. “

WE: From one of Marlborough’s top producers, Framingham’s 2015 Pinot offers a heady concoction of dark berry fruit, cola, meat, black olive and earthy forrest floor. The palate is equally multi-faceted, focused on dark fruit, savory, and earthy characters, with a lingering acidity and long, savory finish. Drink now–2020.

The Winery: Framingham Wines is located in the Wairau Valley in New Zealand’s iconic Marlborough region. Its focus is on aromatic white grape varieties like Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Viognier, from which it makes a range of varietal and blended wines. The company was first established in the early 90’s, releasing its first vintage in 1994. The vineyard has some of the oldest Riesling vines in Marlborough, dating back 30 years and grafted onto phylloxera-resistant rootstock on well-drained soils of stone and silt. The Wairau Valley’s warm days and cool nights are excellent for Riesling, which often takes a back seat to Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Framingham makes a range of wines from Riesling, ranging from dry to sweet, botrytis-affected wines. Framingham’s top tier is its F-Series range, which includes wines made in Auslese and Trockenbeerenauslese styles, as well as a Vendanges Tardives-styled Gewürztraminer. The standard range includes several varietal wines, including a couple of Pinot Noir-based wines and a Montepulciano.

2015 Garry Farrell Pinot Noir, Russian River

The Wine: Winemaker Notes. Finesse and elegance are hallmarks of this delightful appellation blend. Vibrant notes of wild strawberries, raspberry preserves, and pomegranate fill the glass. Delicate aromas of rose petals and violets intertwine with a backdrop of cinnamon, grated nutmeg, pink peppercorn, and dried cloves. Medium bright upon entry, flavors of cherry cola and Ceylon black tea coat the palate and are balanced with traces of vanilla and blonde toast.

WE: Crisp acidity buoys sharp red fruit in this delectable wine—a blend of multiple sites across the appellation. Medium build, it shows youthful tannins and oak that supports without intrusion, allowing the crunch of cranberry, strawberry and pomegranate to speak forcefully.

The Winery: A 35-year pioneer in the Russian River Valley, Gary Farrell Winery crafts small-lot artisan wines that capture the balance and stylistic elegance of some of the finest vineyards in the region, including Rochioli, Allen, Bacigalupi, Hallberg, Ritchie, Durrell, Gap’s Crown and Bien Nacido. Our legacy, producing Burgundian-styled, varietally expressive, site-specific Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, is being expertly tended by winemaker Theresa Heredia, who works closely with our growers to showcase the exceptional fruit from their vineyards. A specialist in cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, Theresa came to Gary Farrell from Joseph Phelp’s Freestone Vineyards on the Sonoma Coast, where she achieved significant critical acclaim, including “Winemaker to Watch” honors from the San Francisco Chronicle. The Recipient of 352 90+ Scores 2013-2017, including Top 100 Wine and Top 100 Cellar Selections, numerous Editor’s Choice and Cellar Selection Designations, Gary Farrell Vineyards & Winery was named “2015 Winery of the Year” by PinotReport and “2016 Winery of the Year” by PinotFile.

Read more at: https://www.garyfarrellwinery.com

CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 204 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2015   Framingham Pinot Noir Marlborough NZ

Best Buy: 2015 Louis Jadot Pinot Noir Bourgogne 

Technical Notes 

(Jaime Estupiñan compiled these note – Translated from Spanish)

History of the Pinot Noir grape
https://unbuenvino.com/variedades-de-uva/tintas/pinot-noir

The pinot noir or pinot negro, in Spanish, is the quintessential red grape variety of Burgundy, a region located in the north-western center of France. In fact, the pinot noir has led to this French wine area to be one of the most famous in the world of wine. Pinot noir is today one of the varieties that have traveled the most outside its original borders. Thus, it is adapted in different vitivinicultural regions, especially in the cold ones. Pinot has been cultivated in Burgundy since the first century AD. A legend says that he came to Burgundy through the Hedui (a Celtic tribe of Gaul) after his invasions of Lombardy and Italy. Another legend says that it arrived by the Romans, although other sources suggest that the Romans already found it in the region.

The Church became with the passage of the years in the custody of the pinots. The monks used it in their sacraments, they improved the varietal through the care of the vineyards. The first documented mention of the pinot noir in Burgundy dates from 1345. The French monks brought the grape to the Rheingau region, where it has been cultivated since 1470. The vineyards owned by the church were seized and distributed to families in Burgundy during the French Revolution around 1789 in an independent and managed vineyard model that still survives today.

Main characteristics of the Pinot Noir
http://vdevendimia.com/2016/08/17/pinot-noir/

Pinot Noir is older than the Pinot Gris or Pinot Blanc variety Although the origin of the variety is not very clear, it is thought that the Pinot Noir was the first of the Pinot family. The DNA profiles of the Pinot Gris and the Pinot Blanc are identical to those of the Pinot Noir so it seems clear that they are derived from it. Be that as it may, the Pinots are a family, and a beloved family, among which are other mutations such as Pinot Meunier or Pinot Gouges or Musigny.

The movie “Between Cups” made her even more famous. Pinot Noir has always enjoyed good reputation and recognition since ancient times, valued and praised throughout the world. But in case its fame was little, in the year 2004 the film Between Cups encumbed it even more to the Olympus of the grape varieties. It is not the first nor the last time that the cinema puts more in everyone’s mouth something, but that happens in the world of wine does not stop being curious. The scene in question in which the virtues of the Pinot Noir are sung is a seduction scene in which the virtues of the grape are narrated in a metaphorical key about their own lives … maybe that’s why it so much and so deep between the public!

God made Cabernet Sauvignon and the devil made Pinot Noir . This phrase, said by André Tchelistcheff, a famous Californian winemaker, is really full. Contrary to Cabernet, Pinot Noir is a much more delicate and more complex variety to cultivate and to elaborate. Not very vigorous, sensitive to the wind, to changes in weather, to pruning and to the soil in which it grows, it certainly is not an easy grape to work with. It is a grape very little tolerant to changes, its antagonist, as the phrase of the title says, is the Cabernet Sauvignon, which grows widely and profusely with great ease, adapting to the lands and changes.

The origin of the name is French. The name Pinot Noir comes from French, from words, pine (pine) and black (noir). This grape variety has the grapes of the bunches in the shape of a cone, like pineapples, hence the name metaphorically comes from these two words.

It is susceptible to certain diseases. The grape’s tendency is to produce tight clusters (hence the origin of its name) which makes it an easy victim of certain diseases of viticulture, such as botrytis cinerea, the rot, go and more prone to have diseases of fungi in the bunches and also to mildew. In Burgundy, your ideal land, you can also get fanlief.

Pinot Noir wines are light colored. The fine skins and low levels of phenolic compounds lends itself to the production of Pinot, tannic wines mostly light and medium-low body. This much lighter tone than other red wines is not a failure in winemaking and is one of its most notable and outstanding features.

The most famous Pinot Noirs in the world are in Burgundy. It finds its maximum expression of quality in Burgundy, where it is the only ink variety, here it produces the most delicate and fragrant wines in the world. Many wine historians, such as John Winthrop Haeger and Roger Dion, are convinced that the Dukes of Burgundy did a fantastic marketing job in their day to promote the Pinot Noir in Burgundy. The reputation of the wines of the region of Beaune as “the most elegant in the world” comes from that time, in which they were sold outright.

Lives in cool climates. Being a delicate varietal,it does not work well in any region, and it lives much better in cool climates. In warm regions it can lose its fragrance and become flat, which makes it lose one of its great attractions. In Spain, for example, we find few success stories with this grape, except for a few exceptions in Malaga or Somontano or the cavas that are made in Catalonia, it is not a grape that adapts well to our torrid Mediterranean reality.

It is cultivated successfully in other areas of the world. Fortunately for the rest of the world there are regions where part of the Burgundy is good, these are coastal areas of California like Santa Barbara or Sonoma. In the state of Oregon, its wines are very reminiscent of those of Burgundy. It also grows successfully in Lombardia (Italy), in Yarra Valley (Australia), Walker Bay (South Africa), Martinborough and and Marlborough (New New Zealand) or in Germany. In Argentina, Achieved, excellent crops quality. Regardless of where it grows, Pinot Noir always reflects very well the terroir in which it is located, producing very different wines depending on the region.

The most expensive wine in the world is made with Pinot Noir. The most famous and expensive producer of Burgundy is Domaine Romanee Conti, who makes many recognized wines, including Romanée Conti and La Tache. Domaine Romaeee Conti has the meritorious record of having produced the most expensive wine in the world: In 2013 Romanée Conti was sold for almost $ 500,000 !! It is not strange that those who cultivate it are so preoccupied with it and that it is a grape with so much glamor.

 

 

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