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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Tasting No. 203– September 24, 2018 – Wines for Fish and Seafood

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Petar Lapera, Orlando Mason

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug, Jorge Claro, Ruth Connoly, Clarita Estrada, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, Agilson Perazza, Claudia Perazza, Lucía Redwood, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, German Zincke.

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to experience pairing of six white wines with seafood.  We will evaluate the wines and also how well they go with the menu.

These are the wines:

  1. Bougrier Pure Loire Sparkling Vouvray
  2. 2017 Albino Armani Corvara Pinot Grigio (Valdadige)
  3. 2016 Trimbach, Riesling, Alsace
  4. 2016 Domaine Chatelain Chablis Fourchaume Premier Cru, Chardonnay
  5. 2017 Vento Vermentino Bacci, Terra di Talamo, Toscana
  6. 2017 Val Do Sosego Albarino Rias Baixas, Spain

3. The Menu

  1. Seafood salad
  2. Lobster cream soup
  3. Steamed corvina with boiled potatoes
  4. Grilled albacore tuna with vegetables
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

Bougrier Pure Loire Sparkling Vouvray 

The Wine: This sparkling is made 100% of Chenin Blanc.  Aromas of stone and citrus fruit with bread notes. The palate shows full apple and pear flavors, some yeasty notes with good texture. Fruity finish, champagne like, ending with mineral and gentle sweetness.

(From Wine Searcher) Chenin Blanc is a versatile white-wine grape variety that has been cultivated in France for nearly 1300 years. It is most commonly associated with France’s Loire Valley, and its high acidity levels mean it can be vinified in a number of different styles: as lusciously sweet, botrytis-affected dessert wines, light, honeyed sparkling wines and as full-bodied, still white wines. In the vineyard, growers must keep Chenin Blanc’s naturally high yields in check, allowing flavors to concentrate and its floral bouquet to come through. The variety buds early and ripens late, making frost a risk in the cooler parts of the world.

Arguably the best expressions of Chenin Blanc from the Loire are the sweet, botrytized wines from Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux, where autumn mists in the Loire’s cool side valleys produce the required conditions for noble rot, resulting in wines with baked-apple, ripe peach and quince flavors. Botrytized Chenin wines are less weighty than their counterparts in Sauternes, but are capable of aging as long as the Bordeaux sweet wines, sometimes for longer. Good sweet Vouvray requires a decade to hit its peak but can be cellared for more than a century.

Like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Argentinian Malbec, Chenin Blanc has found a specific home in the New World: this time in the vineyards of South Africa. This country has surpassed France to become the largest grower and producer of Chenin, and it remains the most-planted variety there. Chenin Blanc arrived in South Africa in the mid-17th Century, and was immediately popular for its productivity and its ability to generate high acidity, even in hot conditions.

Maison Bougrier: Noel Bougrier, the fifth generation in a family of Loire Valley wine merchants, works with this storied wine region’s best growers to create excellent examples of classic Loire wines, including Vouvray and Rosé d’Anjou. The company has significant domaine and winery holdings in three major areas: Touraine, Anjou and Muscadet giving it full control over vineyards, grapes and production in a number of sites.

2017 Albino Armani Corvara Pinot Grigio (Valdadige)

The Wine: Subtle aromas of citrus blossom, orchard fruit and a whiff of crushed herb waft out of the glass. It’s fresh and straightforward, offering Granny Smith apple and ripe pear flavors.

(From Wine Searcher) Pinot Grigio is the Italian name for Pinot Gris, a white mutation of the Pinot family which shares its genetic fingerprint with Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc et al. The term Pinot Grigio has become strongly associated with lighter wines produced in great quantities, particularly in northern Italy.

The refreshing Pinot Grigio style has enjoyed great success in various countries, most recently the United States, (where it is fondly nicknamed “Greej”) and Australia. The most common descriptors of the style are “light”, “crisp” and “dry”. These characteristics are complemented by aroma notes citing lemon, green apple and blossoms.

This “everyday” Grigio style is achieved by harvesting the grapes relatively early, in an attempt to retain as much fresh acidity as possible; the variety is naturally quite low in acidity. To retain freshness and “zing”, fermentation and storage typically take place in stainless-steel tanks. If barrels were used, this would add palate weight and sweet vanilla-like aromas, which would detract significantly from the clean, simple style. This type of Pinot Grigio wine is almost always intended for consumption within a year or two of harvest, so extended cellaring is neither required nor advisable.

The Winery:  The land in the Adige Valley is characterized by constant wind which magically combines with the mild, Mediterranean climate of Lake Garda. Here grapevines grow in soil which is of porphyry/limestone origin, which exalts the typical characteristics of many varietals. Among them, the company’s favorite, is an autochthonous varietal called “Foja Tonda”, officially called Casetta Doc Terrradeiforti, which, until just a few years ago, was in the phase of extinction. Consequently, glorious “Foja Tonda” is a symbol of the biodiversity, characterizing a valley gouged out of the soil by its river, and squeezed in between the mountains.

From the year 1962 onwards, the centerpoint of the company has been Dolcè, where grapevines decorate an enchanted strip of land that connects the Regions of Veneto and Trent. This area offers the scenery for a marriage project to espouse tradition with innovation. It is in Dolcè where all Albino Armani wines are bottled. And that is why Dolcè is precisely the place where the project becomes reality, and why the wines of the Adige Valley and of the “Terra dei Forti” stretch simply carry the name “Albino Armani”.

Read more at: https://www.albinoarmani.com/en/home/

 2016 Trimbach, Riesling, Alsace

The Wine: Wet stone and fresh lemon are faint but distinct on the nose. A pure lemon flavor streaks across the slender, taut palate, with a comet-like spray of freshness. This wine is dry and, if it weren’t for juicy glimpses of ripe lemon, would be almost austere.

The Winery: (From Wine Searcher) Trimbach is one of the oldest wineries in the French wine region of Alsace, dating back to 1626. Located in Ribeauville, it is surrounded by limestone- and fossil-rich vineyards protected by the Vosges Mountains. Trimbach is known for its wines made from Riesling, and in particular the one made from the small Clos Sainte Hune vineyard, which is considered one of the finest Alsatian expressions of the grape. The house has been in the Trimbach family for centuries, but it wasn’t until 1898 – when Frédéric Emile Trimbach received the highest distinction for his wines at the International Wine Fair in Brussels – that the wines of Maison Trimbach began to attract attention.(From Wine.com) Jean-Frédéric Trimbach, born in 1811, was appointed Gourmet of Hunawihr, a position designed to protect the quality of wine exports. He transferred the Maison Trimbach business to Hunawihr, where he served as mayor for many years.Jean-Frédéric and his son, Frédéric-Emile continued the family tradition, and Frédéric-Emile traveled extensively to promote the wines. In 1898 he received the Certificate of Highest Quality at the Brussels International Show.

With Frédéric-Emile at the helm, Maison Trimbach began bottling its wines in Alsace rather than selling in bulk, providing a new guarantee of quality and authenticity. The contribution of Frédéric-Emile Trimbach was recognized when the family adopted his initials in the firm’s official name: Maison F.E. Trimbach.

Today, the tradition of quality continues with the 11th and 12th generations of the Trimbach family. Hubert and his older brother Bernard, along with Bernard’s sons, Pierre and Jean, have continued operations and currently produce approximately 80,000 cases of wines annually. Over one-third of their production is exported to the United States. While one of the smallest of the many producers in Alsace, they are nonetheless the largest, most widely recognized Alsace brand in the United States.

View spectacular pictures of th winery here: https://www.trimbach.fr/en/

2016 Domaine Chatelain Chablis Fourchaume Premier Cru, Chardonnay

The Wine: Chablis, Burgundy, France- Intense aromas of baked Granny Smith apples and ripe pear appear in the bouquet and on the palate. The racy acidity is one of the first things you notice along with mineral and flint sprinkled through the long mouth feel. Premier Cru, single vineyard wine.

The Winery: (From Wine.com) The source of the most racy, light and tactile, yet uniquely complex Chardonnay, Chablis, while considered part of Burgundy, actually reaches far past the most northern stretch of the Côte d’Or proper. Its vineyards cover hillsides surrounding the small village of Chablis about 100 miles north of Dijon, making it actually closer to Champagne than to Burgundy. Champagne and Chablis have a unique soil type in common called Kimmeridgian, which isn’t found anywhere else in the world except southern England. A 180 million year-old geologic formation of decomposed clay and limestone, containing tiny fossilized oyster shells, spans from the Dorset village of Kimmeridge in southern England all the way down through Champagne, and to the soils of Chablis. This soil type produces wines full of structure, austerity, minerality, salinity and finesse. Chablis Grand Cru vineyards are all located at ideal elevations and exposition on the acclaimed Kimmeridgian soil while most of the vineyards in the outlying spots are referred to as Petit Chablis. Chablis Grand Cru, as well as some Petit Chablis, can age for many years.

Fourchaume is one of the best known Premier Cru vineyards in Chablis. The vineyard is located just to the north of Chablis town on the eastern banks of the Serein river. Here, a favorable southerly aspect and high-quality limestone soils beget a distinctive Chardonnay-based wine, distinguished from other Chablis Premier Crus by its rounded lemony flavors that nevertheless retain a fresh minerality.

 2017 Vento Vermentino, Bacci, Terri Di Talamo, Toscana

The Wine: Toscana, Italy- Delivers a structured array of complex perfumed aromas of pineapple, vanilla, sweet pear, minerals and herbs. Refined and elegant on the palate with good balance. Finishes long, with the distinctive flavor of rosemary, wild summer honey and licorice.

Vermentino is a white-wine grape grown in various locations around the western Mediterranean: northwestern Italy, southern France and the neighboring islands of Corsica and Sardinia. It goes by various names, among them Pigato in Liguria, Favorita in Piedmontand Rolle in Provence, although there is long-standing disagreement over which of these are synonyms of Vermentino and which are distinct varieties in their own right. Whatever the truth, Vermentino wines, Pigato wines, Favorita wines and Rolle wines have a lot in common, most obviously their refreshing acidity and attractive aromas of peach, lemon peel, dried herbs and a whiff of saline minerality. Read more about Vermentino here: https://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-525-vermentino-rolle

The Winery: Terre di Talamo is located south of Grosseto, in the Tuscan Maremma. The D.O.C.G. is Morellino di Scansano.The 52 hectares estate is on a hillside facing the sea, and offers a view from the Port of Talamone to the Argentario promontory.The vineyards extend over about 32 hectares. They are planted with Sangiovese, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Alicante, Petit Verdot and Vermentino.

At Terre di Talamo the following wines are produced: the Morellino di Scansano “Tempo”, the Morellino Riserva, a Petit Verdot based IGT named “Percecco” and the Alicante passito “Ser Ciccio”.Three white wines are produced: the “Vento”, pure Vermentino, the Vento Forte (late harvest, fermented in oak) and the Vento Teso (pure Viognier).The range is completed by the rose’ wine Piano Piano made with Sangiovese and Cabernet.

The terrains, which are quite stony, consist of a mixture of brown clay, with exposures from Southeast to Northwest.

The Maremma rose to prominence in the 1960s when Sassicaia brought the area’s potential to the wine world’s notice.  In fact, wine had been produced on the hills surrounding the Maremma for centuries but Sassicaia was the first to experiment with Bordelais varietals (and the first to plant vines on the recently drained coastal plain).

Some 150 kms farther south the vineyards surrounding Scansano predate the more fashionable DOCs of Bolgheri and Val di Cornia by many centuries.  Terre di Talamo is located in the heart of the Morellino DOCG on a south and east-facing hill with direct maritime exposure.  Compared with Chianti or Brunello the days are cooler, nights warmer, and Sangiovese ripens that bit quicker.  Vintage variation is less acute and the tannins are softer.

See beautiful picture and read more about Bacci wines and this winery her:ehttp://www.bacciwines.it/en-talamo

2017 Val Do Sosego Albarino Rias Baixas, Spain

The Wine: Rias Baixas, Spain- Delicious peach, mineral and citrus aromas and flavors leave a vibrant, racy impression on the palate. Ideal as an aperitif or companion to seafood dishes and spicy entrees. Perfect with tuna.

Clear, brilliant wine, with an extremely elegant lemon-yellow colour. An intense aroma on the nose, with persistent quality aromas, reminiscent of green apple and tropical fruits (pineapple). Glyceric finish, lingering on the palate, with a perfect acidity harmonizing with its body, making this a very pleasant wine full of sensations.

The WineryRías Baixas is a DO wine zone in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain, located along the Atlantic coastline. Although a comparatively young DO (established in 1988), Rías Baixas has rapidly grown in stature thanks to the efforts of its various enterprising producers, who have adopted modern winemaking techniques to showcase the region’s signature grape variety, Albariño. Not surprisingly, the Atlantic Ocean is a key influence on the Rías Baixas climate. Average rainfall is very high here, sometimes exceeding 71 inches (1800 millimeters) a year, and mists and fog from the sea also add to the cool climate. This climate is why Rías Baixas is so successful with Albariño – the cooling ocean influences help the grapes to retain the crisp, mouth-watering acidity so vital to the distinctive style of the local wines. The finest Rías Baixas wines are characterized by their intense aromatics, and long, pleasant floral aftertaste, often further lifted by a slight fizz. The area’s granite soils help imbue the wine with intense minerality.

The brand is born from the hand of Simón Ferro family who purchased these wine cellars in 1975, where wines of the County were elaborated since 1862.

At the time, the property had roughly a hectare of traditionally grown vineyard and, what began as a complementary activity to the familiar economy became over the years in a company itself, true to the vision of the family who from the beginning was enthusiastic in obtaining a premium quality white wine. Nowadays, the company is property of the founders’ four sons.

In 1986, the winery is built up and it participates as D.O Rias Baixas founder. At this point a progressive growth is established and it has gone from producing 8.000 bottles per year to 520.000 in less than a decade at the present time.Nowadays, the winery has its own vineyard covering a surface area of around 50 hectares and, in the last five years, it has made investments in machinery and equipment amounting to almost 600.000 Euros; special focus being given on adaptation of technological developments to the traditional method of wine elaboration. These investments refer to all aspects of production, from the own viticulture to the upgrading of wine storage, bottling line and traceability systems; not forgetting the economic and financial management.

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 203 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2016 Domaine Chatelain Chablis Fourchaume Premier Cru, Chardonnay

Best Buy: 2017 Albino Armani Corvara Pinot Grigio (Valdadige)

 

5. Technical Notes 

See the guide to pairing wine and fish on this Wine Folly page: https://winefolly.com/tutorial/wine-with-fish-pairing-guide/

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Tasting No. 202 – August 27, 2018- Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Alta

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Lucía and John Redwood

Participants: Mario Aguilar, Marcello Averbug , Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Jaime Estupiñán,  Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, Italo Mirkow, John Redwood, Lucía Redwood, Jorge Reuqena, Alfonso Sanchez, Jairo Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, Ricardo Zavaleta, German Zincke

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview

Rioja is the most famous wine regions of Spain and one of the most  known world wide.  Located in northeastern Spain along the Ebro river from the town Haro to the town of Alfaro and parallel to the Sierra Cantabria.  The land of Tempranillo, its main variety that produces bright, berry scented , barrel aged wines. The region is divided into three zones.  Rioja Alta is the western, higher part south of the winding poplar-lined Ebro River. Rioja Alavesa. The bodegas would seem to play down the importance of their sub-region, most failing to name it on their labels. Often that’s because they have vineyards spread across the sub-regions, and many Rioja wines are a geographical blends. But differences there are, with Rioja Baja being furthest from the cooling influence of the Atlantic and having a more Mediterranean climate that is hot and dry, whilst Rioja Alavesa hugs the Cantabrian mountains, and wines from there experience a cooling influence with good acidity and a more mineral character.  This tasting includes a white and one red from Alavesa and two reds from Rioja Alta.

These are the wines:

  1. 2016 Valserrano Blanco, Rioja Alavesa
  2. 2016 Casado Morales Joven, Rioja Alavesa
  3. 2009 Montecillo Gran Reserva, Rioja Alta
  4. 2013 Sierra Cantabria Colección Privada, Rioja Alta

3. The Menu

  1. Gaspacho
  2. Arugula Salad with walnuts and Parmesan cheese
  3. Ham Croquettes
  4. Lamb shank with spinach, carrots and mint jelly
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2016 Valserrano Blanco, Rioja Alavesa

The Wine: This wine is a blend of  Viura (95%) and Malvasía (5%). A nicely oaked bouquet includes aromas of tropical fruits, melon and green banana. This has a full, creamy palate, with oak resin and acidity balancing each other out. Salty melon and banana flavors are oaky, while this is texturally pleasing on the finish.

After manual selection of the best grapes, gentle pressing and careful débourbage (decanting of solids), the must ferments in new French-oak casks in contact with the lees for a few months, with weekly lees stirring so that these remain in suspension, protecting the wine from oxidation and increasing its roundness in the mouth. Finally, it is fined, filtered and bottled with no prior cold stabilization treatments. Bright, pale straw-yellow color with golden glints. Nuances of sweet waxes, like honeycomb. As the wine opens up in the glass, reminders of aromatic herbs, moss, fennel, come out, and also sweet fruits and honey notes. Great glyceric sensation of roundness in the attack. Evolving through the mouth into a broadness sensation, reminders of fine woods together with aromatic herbs. Mineral and balanced in the finish, long and crisp.

The Winery: Our business project came into being in the second half of the 19th century when Francisco Javier Solano y Eulate, “Marqués de la Solana”, owner of a large area of vineyards in Villabuena, on the advice of the famous Bordeaux winemaker of the time, M. Pineau, decided to start making and ageing his wines according to methods imported from the Médoc and to sell the wine in bottles after completing the ageing process, under the label “Marqués de la Solana”. His wines soon began to win recognition, with significant prizes such as the Silver Medal at the 1898 Logroño Exhibition and a Gold Medal at the 1929 Universal Exhibition in Barcelona. It is still a family company, belonging to Juan Pablo De Simon y Milans del Bosch, the great grandson of the founder of the Winery, and maintains the concept of “Vino de Pago” a more localized appellation of origin, which inspired the Marquis de la Solana

Today, approximately 450,000 kg of grapes are produced per year, nearly all of which are from the 65 hectares of vineyards belonging to the family, and around 15 hectares of vineyards cultivated by long-term suppliers to the winery, carefully managed to ensure the quality of the grapes. Every year an average of 306,000 litres of red wine and 30,000 litres of white wine are produced. All our plots are situated within the boundaries of Villabuena, a short distance from the wine cellar, on sun-kissed slopes which descend from the Sierra de Cantabria, protecting them to the north, towards the banks of the Ebro River in the South- Southwest. With the prime goal of preserving the character and quality of our wines, we still maintain very old, low-yielding vines, at the same time as new plantations start to bear fruit. The average age of the vines is over 30 years.

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

2016 Casado Morales Joven, Rioja Alavesa

The Wine: This is Tempranillo red with a touch (10%) of Viura. Offers up a fresh, fruity, spicy, black cherry-scented nose. This leads to a Beaujolais-like, round, fruit-filled, medium-bodied wine that has no hard edges. Serve withpasta, appetizers and soft cheeses.

The Winery:  Casado Morales Winery is a family enterprise operating since 1925 located on the left bank of the Ebro River, just a few miles west of Logroño. Grapes are subject to rigorous manual recollection and selection.  Wine is made by the full grape system (carbonic maceration) for young wines and stemmed grapes for the wines that will age in oak barrels. During the fermentation process there is intense and frequent remounting to obtain wines of great colour and body, making possible a balance and a singular structure of great character. After alcoholic fermentation the wines come down due to gravity to a second shed where they will be stored in reinforced concrete deposits for their malolactic fermentation. After fermentation wine is aged under total control of the ideal temperature and humidity. The winery counts with 1000 barrels, 700 of which are of French oak and 300 of American oak, whose age will never exceed that of 5 years old.

Read more at: http://www.casadomorales.es/?lang=en

 2009 Montecillo Gran Reserva, Rioja Alta

The Wine: This elegant wine has been made with Rioja’s native grapes, following a century-old tradition. It has been aged for five years, a minimum of two in oak barrels and a further three in bottle.  Complex and balanced, its black fruit notes are outstanding to match roasted meats and strong cheese. Alcohol 13.5%.

Winemaker Notes Intense ruby red in color, this wine offers strong aromas of ripe fruit. On the palate, it is complex and elegant — showing a satin texture with fine tannins and flavors of leather. The long finish offers notes of licorice. Ideal with any type of meat, especially game. It is a very elegant wine, which enhances stews and dishes with fatty fish like salmon and tuna.

Wine Spectator : A silky, supple texture carries modest but harmonious flavors of cherry, tobacco, leather and spice, supported by light tannins and balsamic acidity. Focused, in the traditional style.

The Winery: At the dawning of the modern La Rioja, in the second half of the nineteenth century, a handful of enthusiasts firmly believed in the Bordeaux elaboration methods and started to elaborate wine with the with the intention to go beyond the limits of the domestic market. One of the first to do this was Don Celestino Navajas Matute, of a family deeply rooted in Fuenmayor, who found his winery in 1870 in Fuenmayor.

Montecillo’s origins are in Fuenmayor, one of the town with the longest traditions of wine growing in the Rioja lta. Surrounded by vines and close to the waters of a serene and benevolent rover, the Ebro, Fuemmayor’s surroundings are set among the flat top hills, and in the distance the distinctive rocky mass of the Cantabrian mountains.  It is the third oldest winery (second oldest in Rioja Alta) of more than 600 wineries in Rioja, established in 1874.Using mainly tempranillo grapes – the processes of vinification and ageing are controlled with the very latest systems. One of the key milestones of the winery’s recent history is the incorporation in 2005 of Ganimede tanks, which give a more gentle, selective and effective extraction of the wine’s aromatic compounds.  Another major factor is the constant renovation of the barrel stock, with more than 20,000 French and American oak barrels currently in the cellar.

The name Montecillio honors the first terroirs the original winemakers planted in the Rioja Alta back in 1874. The winery is also renowned for its history of outstanding female winemakers.  Montecillo oenologist Mercedes Garcia has earned the bodegas accolades from around the world

More than 140 years after the founding of the first bodega, Bodegas Montecillo maintains its solid philosophy of respect towards the vineyard, the selection of the best grape, a coherent wine production, ageing in high quality oak barrels and refining in the tranquillity of its impressing cellars, where bottles lay that are dated back to 1926, the same year that Rioja received the indication of a protected “Designation of Origin“.

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

 2013 Sierra Cantabria Colección Privada, Rioja Alta

The Wine: Deep aromas of baked black fruits are bolstered by oaky notes of lemon peel and barrel spice. This is intense and hard driving, with flavors of coffee, lemon, blackberry, chocolate and tar. The smoky finish is accompanied by roasted berry notes and shearing acidity. Drink through 2020.

Elegant, Frutity, Spice, Full-Bodied” “Bright purple. Powerful smoke- and spice-tinged dark fruit scents.Sweet and seamless in the mouth, offering juicy black raspberry and fruitcake flavors that become spicier with aeration.  Shows excellent focus and intensity on the finish framed by smooth tannins.

The Winery: At the foot of the mountain range which gives the name to our wines, the Eguren family since 1870 has been dedicated to growing the finest grapes and in creating some of the most outstanding wines.

Bodegas Sierra Cantabria – the winery is nestled in the heart if San Vicente de la Sonsierra, a town of great winemaking tradition, situated in a unique location between the Rive Ebro and the Sierra Cantabria mountain range in Alavesa

The vineyards of Sierra Cantabria are located primarily in the towns of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Labastida, and Laguardia. The Tempranillo variety predominates (91%) along with small amounts of Malvasia (3%), and Viura (6%) spread across proprietary vineyards which total approximately 267 acres (108 hectares).  Altitudes range from 1,440 to 1,740 ft. above sea level (480-580 m).  Average production is approximately half a ton per acre. Organic fertilization. Viñedos Sierra Cantabria vineyards are harvested by hand.  They have been doing ecologically conscious agriculture in their own vineyards for the past 12 years.  The soil is composed of clay-lime, the best soil of Rioja. The climate is continental, with the influence of winds from the Atlantic, but protected from more severe weather by the Sierra Cantabria mountains.

Sierra Cantabria was founded by Guillermo Eguren, a self-made bodeguero, who followed a family tradition of vine growers. Today, the fourth generation of the Eguren family directs all aspects of the wine making process, with Marcos Eugen as the winemaker and director of operations and his brother Miguel Angel Eguren as the general manager. Sierra Cantabria has come to the forefront of Spanish wineries in the past 15 years. This is from the extreme care that they give to their vineyards, located in the best terrain if Rioja, the savoir faire of Marcos Eguren, and his price-conscious policies. Vineyards are in San Vicente de la Sonsierra, one of the most famous towns in Rioja, known for the quality of its grapes.

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 202 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2013 Sierra Cantabria Colección Privada, Rioja Alta

Best Buy: 2016 Casado Morales Joven, Rioja Alavesa

 

 

 

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Tasting No. 201 – July 30, 2018- Eastern Europe Wines

Club del Vino

 

Capri Ristorante, McLean VA

Georgian traditional kvevri jugs buried in a winery in Kakheti. – Source Wikimedia.org

1. Presenters and Participants

Wines presenters: Jorge Claro, Cristian Santelices

Participants: Jorge Claro, Ruth Connolly, Clara Estrada, Alberto Gómez, Jaime Jaramillo, Peter Lapera, Orlando Mason, John Redwood, Jorge Requena, Alfonso Sanchez, Cristian Santelices, Ricardo Santiago, Germán Zincke

Type of Tasting: Open

2. Tasting Overview  

The  main objective of this tasting is to explore wines from Eastern Europe made with native varieties less known in the west.  These are the wines:

  1. 2015 Benvenuti, Anno Domini, Malvazija, Istria, Croatia 
  2. 2015 Parallel 43 Selection, Trianguli, Mavrud, Danubian Plain, Bulgaria
  3. 2015 Naotari, Saperavi, Dry Unfiltered Red Wine, Kavareli, Kakheti, Georgia
  4.  2013 Dignac, Skaramuca, Plavac Mali, Vrhunsko Vino, Peljesac Peninsula, Croatia 

3. The Menu

  1. Lobster Bisque
  2. Octopus and Potatoes
  3. Veal Ravioli in Aurora Sauce
  4. Beef Medallions in Mushroom Sauce with Vegetables
  5. Dessert/Coffee

4. Information on the Wines

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

2015 Benvenuti Anno Domini, Malvazija, Istria, Croatia

The Wine: The Anno Domini 2016 is especially distinct and unusually expressive for Malvazijas: it contains typical varietal, flowery-acacia-almond elements, but also deep tertiary nuances of serious orange wines ranging from dried citruses and apricots, to spices such as sumac. The new Anno Domini is very full in the mouth, delightfully plentiful, with unusual earthy effect which we have not previously identified in Malvazijas, and with a strong mineral ending. The Anno Domini is a great wine worth certainly between 93 and 95 points, justifying the Benvenuti brother’s thesis that 2016 was one of the best Istrian harvests of the century. “This complex Malvazija has exceptional minerality, it is full-boded, with pronounced characteristics of the variety and fruitiness. For better quality of grapes, we have minimised the yields of our vineyards in Turkovo, located at an altitude of 350 meters. Malvazija Anno Domini was aged in oak barrels for 24 months, following a 15-day maceration. With great potential for ageing, the 2016 vintage was made in 5.000 bottles.” Food pairing: Roasted meet, pasta with strong sauces.

Malvazija is a white grape originating on Croatia’s Istra peninsular, and now the second most planted variety in Croatia after Graševina. It produces mainly varietal wines, often with a slightly green hue and an appealing honeyed tang. The variety is also known in north-east Italy as Malvasia Istriana. Like albariño is to the seaside shores of Galicia in Spain, malvazija is the signature white wine of Istria, an axe-shaped peninsula that slices into the Adriatic Sea along Croatia’s northern coast. Here malvazija vineyards stand like sentinels not far from the rugged, salty shore and then majestically rise up the pastoral highlands of the interior, where they thrive alongside acacia trees, olive groves, and truffle oak forests in the region’s patchwork of red, white, brown and grey soils – each to subtly different effect. Despite the name that would place the variety among the branches of the very large malvasia bianca family tree, malvazija istarska is specific to Istria, although the variety can also be found in the neighboring Koper appellation in Slovenia, as well as in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia area of Italy

The Winery: The Benvenuti winery is a story of family, tradition and terroir. They are situated in the quiet Istrian village of Kaldir in Croatia, where they grow three grape varieties – Malvasia Istriana, Teran and Muscat. Throughout history, these varieties have been giving the best results in Istria.  They vineyards are situated 400 metres above sea level planted on sandy soil and face south in the vineyards of the San Salvatore (once the location of the village of Kaldir). The annual production of Malvasia is approx. 70,000 bottles. Nikola and Albert Benvenuti have in recent years become some of the most ambitious and serious Croatian winemakers. Their aspirations and scope is best described by international results: 95 points at Decanter for the 2013 Teran and a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge for the Malvazija Anno Domini 2015.

Read more at: http://www.benvenutivina.com/en/vina.html

2015 Parallel 43 Selection, Trianguli, Mavrud, Danubian Plain, Bulgaria

The Wine: The 2015 Triangulus Bouquet is an autochthonous variety from Thracian Mavrud indigenous Bulgarian that offers up vibrant red and tangy black berry fruit with dried brush and earthy notes that warrant comparison to traditional, with distinguished aromas of blackberry and piquant paper accent. This wine is aged for two years in neutral barrel before release.

Mavrud, is a dark-skinned grape variety of Bulgarian origin. Its precise provenance is generally accepted to be Asenovgrad, an appellation in the West Thracian Valley of southern Bulgaria.

The grape’s name is derived from the Greek “mavro”, meaning black. The grape has been depicted as a low-yielding, late-ripening, small-berried grape, which is able to produce a spicy, tannic wine with a capability of ageing. The wines produced from this grape are high in tannins and acidity with plenty of flavors of stewed-fruit on the palate providing a mouth-feel of glycerol. It also exhibits herbal properties, providing the wine a therapeutic finish. All these features lead to a fruity and spicy varietal with high amount of tannins, distinguished maturing capacity, excellent acidity, local character and applauded for good quality. The grapes harvest in the end of October in the region of Plovdiv.

Mavrud wine can be excellently paired with lamb, marinated beef, rosemary potatoes, desserts such as mousse, maple pie, mascarpone pie, bread pudding, cheesecake, lemon cake, etc.

According to the Bulgarian legends, all the vineyards were ordered to be destroyed during the supremacy of Bulgarian Khan Krum. Soon after a lion ran away from its cage and the city was terrorized. Anyhow, a brave man referred to as Mavrud tackled and slayed the lion. The king sent for Mavrud’s mother to know about the cause of such bravery. She replied that she had saved a grape vine secretly, produced wine and this was the source of the courage of Mavrud. Khan Krum immediately ordered for the re-plantation of vineyards

The Winery: Prallel43 is a family-owned wine importer and wholesaler based in Northern Virginia, specializing in importing wines from Eastern Europe, a region with long wine-making traditions and great potential for interesting, world-class wines of both international and regional varietals.  The wines from the upper Thracian Valley come from the alluvial soils in the collar of three massive mountain chains. Part of those wines are grown in the Southwestern-most corner of Bulgaria and the region of Melnik. This region is sunny and dry, with sediment-rich, pebbly and sandy soil.

Read more at: http://www.parallel43.com/

2015 Naotari, Saperavi, Dry Unfiltered Red Wine, Kavareli, Kakheti, Georgia

The Wine: There is a nice interplay of beady tannins, forceful acidity and fruit, with clear red forest berries, cranberries and sweet spices. Because it is aged in clay jars and is unfiltered, there is a slightly chalky but not unpleasant feel in the mouth. This wine is a good example of a well-made Saperavi.

This dark ruby colored Saperavi opens with black olive and black currant like bouquet. The finish is dry and its moderate tannins build up and last for quite some time. This Saperavi would pair nicely with grilled steak and excellent with mature cheeses of different styles.

Saperavi (Georgian: literally “paint, dye, give color”) is an acidic, teinturier-type grape variety native to Georgia (country), where it is used to make many of the region’s most well-known wines. It is also grown in small quantities in the Niagara and Finger Lakes regions of New York State as well as former USSR countries. Its leaves are 3-lobed, large, and roundish. The berries are medium to large, elliptic or round depending on the type, dark bluish, and thin-skinned; with a maturation period of approximately 5 months and moderate productivity.  Sapravi wines have a characteristic bouquet, a harmonious taste, and a pleasant astringency. Its alcoholic strength ranges from 10.5-12.5% and titrated acidity 5-7%. It is known to have been in production since 1886. Saperavi grapes produce very deep red wines that are suitable for extended aging. It has the potential to produce high alcohol levels, and is often blended with lighter varieties. It is by far the most dominant Georgian red grape in terms of overall production.

The Winery: Naotari Family Vineyards & Cellar was founded in 2012 by Koba Kvatchrelishvili and his two sons, Rezo and Alex Kvatchrelishvili. Koba is in love with the traditions of Kakhetian wine making; traditions that have existed in Georgia for thousands of years and in Koba’s family for generations. Kakhetian wine making centers itself around two things: 1) Qvevri, the traditional terra-cotta (clay ) amphora type that are buried underneath the ground and are used in each stage of the winemaking process, and 2) Skin contact, Kakhetian white wines spend approximately 6 months in contact with their grape skins developing complex and amber colored wines.

Naotari Vineyard approach is centered around small batch wine production focused on uniqueness and an authentic expression of the Chikaani terroir and Kakhetian traditions. Annually they produces a very limited quantity at around 3,000 bottles, which are unfiltered while no additives or artificial yeast are used in winemaking. The Naotari family Vineyards & cellars produce their wines using Qvevri method -an 8,000-year-old uniquely Georgian method that utilizes a huge amphora, Qvevri, buried underneath the ground to allow wine fermentation and aging in an even, naturally cool condition. Clay is the happy medium between stainless steel and oak. Like oak, clay is porous, allowing for an exchange of oxygen. Like steel, clay is a neutral material, so it doesn’t impart additional flavors.

Read more at: http://www.georgianwinehouse.com/brand/47/Naotari/winemaker

2013 Dignac, Skaramuca, Plavac Mali, Vrhunsko Vino, Peljesac Peninsula, Croatia  

The Wine: Dingač vine is grown in a special location in the Dingač valley where the soil composition, slope (30-70%) and many hours of sun result in top quality wine. The wine is technologically processed and, following a period of 2 to 4 years, offered on the market. The Mediterranean climate with its short, mild winters and long, warm summers full of sunshine gave birth to wines boasting with ideal ratio of alcohol, acid, minerals, tannin, color, proteins and vitamins. The Skaramuča Dingač has won the bronze medal on the biggest American wine fair in San Francisco, among 4,500 contestants from all over the world.   Dingač is a high-quality wine with deeply ruby red color and subtly pronounced varietal aroma. Dingač is a typical Plavac with fruit characteristics and unique by harmonious fullness of flavor. It is ideal with red grilled meat and sauces and aged cheeses.

Plavac Mali is the most planted red grape variety in Croatia (to be precise, on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia). Plavac Mali is probably the best-known Croatian wine, and if you are just starting to get to know Croatian wines and haven’t tasted it before, it should definitely be at the top of your list. The wine plavac mali is a very powerful, robust red wine, rich in taste and high in alcohol and tannins.

Plavac mali has a very interesting history of origin that has caused many wine experts to become obsessed with tracing its origins. For a long time plavac mali was confused with zinfandel, the famous Californian wine. Plavac mali has even been subjected to DNA research and has starred in the documentary ‘Dossier Zinfandel’. We now know that plavac mali is a cross between Crlenjak Kaštelanski (ancestral Zinfandel) and Dobričić (an ancient red wine grape variety from the Dalmatian coast) grapes. How the grapes found their way from a small Mediterranean country to California has been tickling the brains of wine historians, plant experts, winemakers, and even geneticists for a very long time

The Winery:  The Skaramuča family vineyards are situated on prominent locations on Pelješac peninsula and are a part of Pelješka Župa and Dingač area. On the Dingač southern slopes the vineyards spread on an area of around 20 ha.

The highly renowned Croatian winemaker, Ivo Skaramuča is the owner and the founder of the Skaramuča brand wines. Although the winemaking history is as old as the family Skaramuča itself, the real success tale starts in 1992 when the Croatian legislation recognizes private grapes growing and winemaking, which gives the Skaramuča brand a chance to position itself among the top Croatian wines. Today Skaramuča is one of the biggest Croatian private entrepreneurs in winemaking and the owner of the largest vineyard in the Dingač area.

The beautiful Dingač slopes feature numerous plavac mali groves nurtured and developed by Mr. Skaramuča over the past two decades, now possessing 165,000 plavac mali vines. They produced 70,000 bottles of placav mali in 2017.

Read more at: http://dingac-skaramuca.hr/en/wines/dingac/

4.  CV Members Rating

View full evaluation here: 201 Summary of Scores

Best Rated Wine: 2013 Dignac, Skaramuca, Plavac Mali, Vrhunsko Vino, Peljesac Peninsula, Croatia

Best Buy: 2013 Dignac, Skaramuca, Plavac Mali, Vrhunsko Vino, Peljesac Peninsula, Croatia

5. Technical Notes 

Notes compiled by Jorge Claro and Cristian Santelices.

The Wine Treasures of Eastern Europe.  

The classic Old-World wine making regions, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Piedmont, are all located between 40˚ and 50˚ latitude, where climates are generally favorable for fine wine production. Much of Central and Eastern Europe falls within the same zones. With wine making histories that began prior to those of France, Italy or Spain, the region could be considered the original “Old World” of wine.  What follows is an overview of the most important wine producing countries in the region.

Hungary.  One hundred years ago, Hungary was one of the most important wine producers in Europe. Every royal court in Europe clinked glasses filled with precious gold Tokaji (“toe-kye”) wine, while other lush Hungarian whites and reds were lauded and enjoyed throughout Europe. In addition, it should be noted that Hungarian Oak is one of the three major types of oak, after French and American, that is used to make wine barrels. Unfortunately, due the aggressive assault of phylloxera in the 1880’s, two world wars, and forty years of communist collectivization we don’t see many Hungarian wines penetrating the international market. In the US, it is very difficult to find quality Hungarian wines.

Hungary is bouncing back. Countless small estates replanted and cultivated across the country are turning out beautiful wines–a result of traditional winemaking culture mixed with a modern sensibility. With 22 wine regions growing hundreds of varietals, the country offers a multitude of great wines to explore.

The country is located between the 46th and 49th parallel which is actually the same latitude range as many of France’s top wine regions from Northen Rhone to Champagne. Hungary’s rolling hills are rich in volcanic soils and limestone–idyllic soil types for fine winemaking.  Hungary’s four top wine producing regions are Eger, Tokaj, Villány and Somló.

Croatia.  You’ve most likely already had a wine that originated in Croatia, you just don’t know it! In 1994, grape geneticist, Dr. Carol Meredith, discovered that Zinfandel (aka Primitivo) is identical to Croatia’s Tribidrag (or Crljenak Kaštelanski). Tribidrag also happens to be the parent grape of Croatia’s most popular red wine, Plavac Mali. So, if you love Zinfandel, you already love Plavac Mali!. Plavac Mali is the primary red wine of Croatia and grows mostly along the Dalmatian coast. It is a wine that is rich and full of flavor, higher in both alcohol and tannin, with lower acidity, and has flavors of blackberry, dark cherry, pepper, carob, dry figs, and spice. Plavac Mali translates to “small blue,” and this grape is so important in Croatia that it was the first to have its own appellations – Dingač and Postup, which are both located on the Pelješac peninsula in South-Central Dalmatia. Croatia has many indigenous grape varieties that are not very well-known internationally, partly due to their complicated names such as Pošip, Malvazija Istarska, Grk, Teran (In Italy, Terran is called Terrano) Graševina also known as Welschriesling and one of the most popular white wine grapes in Croatia.

Georgia.  Georgia is one of the oldest wine regions in the world. The fertile valleys and protective slopes of the Transcaucasia were home to grapevine cultivation and Neolithic wine production for at least 8000 years. Due to the many millennia of wine in Georgian history and its prominent economic role, the traditions of wine are considered entwined with and inseparable from the national identity.  Among the best-known Georgian wine regions are Kakheti (further divided into the micro-regions of Telavi and Kvareli), Kartli, Imereti, Racha-Lechkhumi and Kyemo Svaneti, Adjara and Abkhasia. UNESCO added the ancient traditional Georgian winemaking method using the Kvevri clay jars to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage lists.

This video illustrates the Kvevri method of wine making: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NN5ziogyxP0

There are five main regions of viniculture, the principal region being Kakheti, which produces seventy percent of Georgia’s grapes. Traditionally, Georgian wines carry the name of the source region, district, or village, much like French regional wines such as Bordeaux or Burgundy. As with these French wines, Georgian wines are usually a blend of two or more grapes. For instance, one of the best-known white wines, Tsinandali, is a blend of Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grapes from the micro regions of Telavi and Kvareli in the Kakheti region.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgian_wine#Georgian_grape_varieties

There is additional information on this tasting here: Additional Information Wines from East Europe

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