FedEx and UPS trucks regularly come to my door bearing boxes of wines that generally have no common denominator other than they are the latest releases from wineries around the world.
As today is a rainy, early-spring day, I have arranged a Noah’s Ark tasting report based on five varietals — pinot noir, sangiovese, prosecco, moscato, and sauvignon blanc — and, like Noah, I am taking them on board two by two.
2010 Biltmore Reserve Russian River Pinot Noir ($19). Pastel fruit flavors of Bing cherries with eau-de-vie aromas. In spite of the high alcohol — just more than 15 percent — it’s not a big wine but a flavorful one. Takeaway: A fairly enjoyable bi-coastal wine.
2010 Truchard Carneros Pinot Noir ($27). Bright, rooty flavors, but a bit earthy, savory — even rustic. Takeaway: California pinots often are too fruit-friendly for their own good. This one takes the opposite tack — more intrigue than subtle charm.
2009 La Selva Colli dell Uccellina Morellino di Scansano (less than $20). "Morellino" is name for sangiovese in this Tuscan region. The wine comes out to be very biologique, that is, very savory with considerable tannins and bitters at the edges. Takeaway: Not a traditional sangio, but may be of interest to those who like edgy wines.
2010 Costa "Terre di Fiori" Morellino di Scansano ($16). Lots of cherry fruit up front with some raspberries and strawberries folded in, very rounded, with good acidity, light tannins, and a little chalk. Takeaway: A nice, fruity Tuscan for easy drinking.
NV Bocelli Prosecco Extra Dry ($17). Yes, it’s that Bocelli — or at least his family. Candied fruits, balancing carbon notes, crisp, long on the palate. Takeaway: Think of those coated Jordan almonds you used to nibble at the movies.
2011 Adami "Col Credas" Rive di Farra di Soligo prosecco superiore brut ($22). Adami is one of the masters of Valdobbiadene, making a range of sparkling wines that satisfy while also inviting you to think about what’s in the flute. This one is both delicate and full — tart apples, nuts, wild dried spices, light tannins, a mouthful of bubbles. A steal at the price. Takeaway: I have two more Adamis chilled, waiting to be reviewed.
2011 Dante Rivetti moscato d’Asti ($21) Sort of like drinking a fizzy macaroon — low alcohol (5 percent), lightly sweet, low on balancing acid, some almond notes. Takeaway: Not really my style with its lingering sweetness, the kind of wine that one glass at a reception will do me.
2011 Marenco "Scrapona" moscato d’Asti ($14). Very nice — sprightly fruit, sweet but well-balanced, good spritz, some orange and other citrus notes with nutty almonds. Takeaway: A refreshing, low-alcohol spring drink.
2010 Robert Mondavi Napa Valley fume blanc ($20). Aka sauvignon blanc. A very nice, complex wine with "blue/green" flavors of apples, melons, savory spices, citrus. Takeaway: A wine that has a nice heft that comes from the fruit.
2011 Clos La Chance Central Coast sauvignon blanc ($11). Spicy and grassy and seemingly a little watery. Takeaway: A basic wine with no bells or whistles.
The last two days have been quite, quite beautiful, starting mistily, basking midday in an unseasonally warm sun and finishing with an extended dusk that announces that spring is finally here. I immediately want to eat lighter meals: the new season&rsquos vegetables are not quite in yet but I can at least plan for summer and that means a spring clean of the cellar, pushing the full bodied reds to the back and assessing what whites, lighter reds and rosés I still have lurking in the racks.
Now is the time to drink up any lighter wines from last year that may have slipped my notice and make a shopping list for the weeks ahead.
The idea of changing the wine you drink with the season, just as you change your diet and your wardrobe still meets some resistance. People tend to &lsquolike what they like&rsquo when it comes to wine, drinking the same bottles right through the year. The more pronounced acidity and palate weight of lighter wines may not be to your taste. But try them with the right kind of food and you&rsquoll see how perfectly tuned they are to the flavours of spring.
Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon blends
What more is there to say about Sauvignon Blanc? Only that there is much more variety than ever before and that quality seems on an unstoppable upward curve. Try those from South Africa if you&rsquore not familiar with them. And revisit white Bordeaux and other Sauvignon-Semillon blends.
Best food pairings: goats&rsquo cheese, asparagus, grilled fish and other seafood, dishes flavoured with coriander and dill
No sign of the Grüner bandwagon slipping off the rails. It&rsquos still every sommelier&rsquos darling - less demanding than Riesling, more sophisticated than Pinot Grigio (though see below). Drink young.
Best food pairings: Light Asian flavours e.g. Asian accented salads and noodle dishes, Vietnamese spring rolls
Another fashionable option, Spain&rsquos feted seafood white, which comes from Galicia in the North West of the country, has the intensity to cope with most light fish preparations. A good wine to choose in fish restaurants.
Best food pairings: shellfish, light fish dishes, spring and summer soups e.g. gazpacho, tomato salads
Chablis and other unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnays
If you&rsquore a Chardonnay drinker, time to change the register from oaked to unoaked or at least subtly oaked. (Those rich buttery flavours will overwhelm delicate vegetables and seafood unless they&rsquore dressed with a rich butter sauce.) Faced with competition from the new world, Chablis is better quality than ever and a good own brand buy from supermarkets. Watch out for offers.
Best food pairings: oysters and other seafood, poached chicken, creamy sauces, fish and vegetable terrines, sushi
Like Marmite Riesling tends to polarise wine drinkers - some love it, some hate it. There&rsquos no denying though that its crisp, fresh flavours and modest levels of alcohol it makes perfect spring sipping. If it&rsquos the sweetness you&rsquore not sure about stick to Alsace Riesling, German kabinett Riesling or Clare Valley Riesling from Australia. If it&rsquos the typical kerosene flavours it can acquire with age, stick to younger wines.
Best food pairings: Smoked fish especially smoked salmon, crab, trout, smoked chicken, salads,Cantonese and lightly spiced south-east Asian food
The tide of insipid, cheap Pinot Grigio has given the wine a bad name but the best examples (mostly from the Alto Adige) are elegant minerally whites that deserve a place in your cellar.
Best food pairings: antipasti, light seafood pastas and risottos, fresh tomato-based pasta sauces
The Veneto&rsquos utterly charming sparkling wine, softer and more rounded than Champagne. It mixes fabulously well with fresh summer fruits such as peaches and raspberries as in the famous Bellini
Best food pairings: A perfect spring aperitif or to sip with panettone
I say light because so many rosés now are little different from reds in their levels of alcohol and intensity. Not that that style doesn&rsquot have a place (it&rsquos a great wine to drink with barbecues, for example) but it can overwhelm more delicate flavours. At this time of year try the lighter, less full-on styles from Provence and elsewhere in the South of France or from the Rioja and Navarra regions of Spain.
Best food pairings: Provençal-style dishes such as salad Niçoise and aioli (vegetables with a garlic mayonnaise), grilled tuna, mezze
Light Loire reds
Well, actually not so light if you look at the 2005 vintage but in general Loire reds which are mostly based on the Cabernet Franc grape are light and fragrant, perfect served cool. Examples are Chinon, Bourgeuil and Saumur-Champigny.
Best food pairings:
Seared salmon and tuna, grilled chicken, goats' cheese
Young Pinot Noir
I stress young because you want that bright, intense, pure raspberry fruit rather than the slightly funky notes you can get with Pinot (especially red burgundy) that has a couple of years&rsquo bottle age. The most reliable place to find it currently is in the Marlborough region of New Zealand. Chile, California and Oregon have some appealingly soft, fruity Pinots too, though again, watch the alcohol and serve lightly chilled.
Seared duck breasts, salads that include fresh or dried red berries or pomegranate seeds, seared salmon or tuna.
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12 Wines That Serious Collectors Don't Want You to Know About
Incredible bottles that are enjoyable now and will age gracefully for many years to come.
Living the wine life is fun and mostly carefree, but there&aposs also a dark side, where passionate enthusiasts run up against serious collectors. In these moments, wine can turn ugly.
Say you&aposre at a backyard barbecue, enjoying a glass of Accendo Cellars&apos ultra-rare Laurea red that a collector with a big-ass wine cellar poured for you. Everything is rosy. But when you express a desire to obtain a bottle for yourself, the collector stiffens and deadpans, "You won&apost be able to get this," and offers you the smallest burger on the grill.
You start asking other people at the party where to buy the wine, but suddenly everyone has to get back to somebody on Slack. Well, just wait until you invite them to your own barbecue and pull out a case of that Laurea—or Newtown, Goldeneye, Faust, and Cornell, and so many others that you didn&apost know about until you found this list.
It&aposs time to be in the know. Most of these bottles are pricey, some are not-as-pricy, and all are incredible wines that are enjoyable now and will age gracefully in, yes, a big-ass cellar for years to come. Here are 12 wines that serious collectors wish you wouldn&apost buy.
2017 Kings Carey Wines Grenache Sta. Rita Hills Santa Barbara County ($34)
If you&aposve had cult-favorite Liquid Farm, James Sparks&apos day job, you know he&aposs got a gift for crafting utterly fresh, pure-fruited Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In 2014, he debuted his own Kings Carey label and lent his Midas touch to Grenache grapes from Spear Vineyards, an organically-farmed site in the Sta. Rita Hills AVA. Sparks&apos Grenache bottling will become an instant-favorite after the first sip. Collectors hoard it because it is a sheer joy to drink—it should cost twice the price. The 2017 is profoundly layered, showing a beautiful lucid, vibrant, and shimmering ruby red color, and revealing bright cherry and scorched wild crushed herb notes, complemented by roasted coffee bean, orange zest, and juicy, just-picked wild strawberry fruit leading to a long mineral finish.
2017 Boich Family Cellar NVS Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley ($125)
Founder John Boich has amassed an envious portfolio of wines, available through an allocation-only model, from some of Napa&aposs leading vineyards, like To Kalon, Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper, and Beckstoffer Georges III. His winemaker, Jeff Ames, is no stranger to fans already collecting bottles from Tor and Rudius, his other gigs. This 2017 NVS has pitted collector against collector in a race to obtain an allocation. If any bottles do remain after their official release, they&aposre made available to people not on the list𠅏irst come, first served, until sold out. Aromas of cookies and cream and blackberry and black cherry liqueur, with crème de cassis nuances, graphite, and purple florals it&aposs broad and mouth-filling with satiny French oak tannins so precisely integrated you&aposd be wise to mistake this for a French First Growth.
2016 Newton Cabernet Sauvignon Spring Mountain District Napa Valley ($210)
Founded in 1977 by Peter Newton and Su Hua, Newton is unquestionably the crown jewel of Napa&aposs Spring Mountain District. Some of California&aposs greatest winemakers— Ric Forman, John Kongsgaard, Andy Erickson, Aaron Pott, and Jean Hoefliger—have crafted these wines today, Alberto Bianchi is at the helm. Although the winery and grounds experienced heavy losses in the Glass fire, estate director Jean-Baptiste Rivail has said that Newton owners LVMH support the restoration of the estate. Best of all, much of the winery&aposs previous vintages are safe in temperature-controlled storage on the valley floor. And this 2016 Cabernet, if you can get your hands on any, offers a stunning snapshot of why Newton Cabernet is a monument of a wine that stands shoulder to shoulder with the absolute best. A flourish of blackberry and mountain-grown wild herbs lifts out of the class, evolving on the palate, layering in burley and dusty mountain tannins, dried mint, and crushed graphite, cedar spices, and a finish that lasts well into the next sip.
2018 Goldeneye Ten Degrees Pinot Noir ($130)
If this 25-year-old Anderson Valley winery isn&apost on your radar yet, there&aposs a good reason. Those who make the trek to Goldeneye through winding Northern California roads, often without cell service, to traipse around the estate gardens prefer to keep it a secret. Winemaker Katey Larwood has conquered the rustic, deeply-structured, heady-spice-driven qualities of Anderson Valley Pinot Noir with this bottling of Ten Degrees. Black and blue fruits notes find rustic earthy notes underscored by vivid, crunchy acidity, leading to a flourish of wildflowers and dried tea leaf notes on a long, supple, finish, culminating in pops of brandied cherry and cedar spices.
2018 Faust The Pact Cabernet Sauvignon Coombsville Napa Valley ($125)
Sure, $125 may not seem like a bargain, but considering that winemaker David Jelinek has produced Harlan ($1,400+) and Joseph Phelps ($220+), it&aposs a steal. The best place to enjoy it, of course, is at the newly renovated Faust Haus in St. Helena (home of the old St. Clement winery). In the glass, the 2018 Pact reveals an inky red, glass staining color, with aromas of boysenberry, candied raspberry, and red cherry. Lofty purple floral notes emerge on the tight knit, textured palate, unfolding in black-fruited waves atop elongated tannins all gliding toward a salted dark chocolate finish. It&aposs plain to see why Faust fans want to keep it all for themselves. Pro tip: Call the winery and ask to buy library bottles of the 2011 vintage because it is mind-blowing.
2018 Medlock Ames Fifty Tons Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley Sonoma ($105)
You need to become a member of Medlock Ames to gain access to their exclusive wines, which you&aposll want to enjoy when you book an Olive Grove Experience at the winery in Healdsburg ($50 per person). It goes like this: You cozy up beneath a grove of olive trees with a picnic basket of local Sonoma cheeses, cured meats, fresh bread, chocolates, estate-grown olives, and jams from the winery&aposs organically-certified gardens𠅊nd the member-exclusive Fifty Tons Cabernet Sauvignon. Founders Chris James and Ames Morison moved 50 tons of rock to restore terraces for the Cabernet that goes into this blue-and-black-fruited, silky-texture red. Take note: Jean Hoefliger of Alpha Omega fame began consulting with the 2019 vintage, which means these small production wines are going to fly out the door even faster than before.
2018 Las Jaras Wines Cabernet Sauvignon Sonoma Mountain ($70)
Comedy genius Eric Wareheim is a 50/50 partner in Las Jaras with winemaker Joel Burt, and longtime Tim and Eric fans snap up these wines every year they&aposre released. That&aposs why Burt has a challenge for all you "serious" wine lovers: Please, try to get an allocation, so you can see how awesome the wines are. And considering that Burt and Wareheim don&apost own a winery and source all their grapes (primarily from Mendocino County), it gives them a lot of flexibility to do some really cool things, like get into contract for 100% of a vineyard and demand it be farmed to their strict standards. Burt is all about minimal intervention these days, using little to no sulfur additions. And he has mad skills, as seen in a "punchy, weird, and crazy" wine like Superbloom (a Carbonic-pink wine made from seven different grapes) or this fresh and structured 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma Mountain𠅊 throwback to the lower-alcohol, more restrained wines of California&aposs past. With ample red and black fruit notes, rich turned earth, dark chocolate, and heady purple florals.
2018 CIRQ Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($150)
Meet anyone who has managed to obtain an allocation of Michael Browne&aposs CIRQ wines, and they&aposll be happy to share a bottle. But ask how to get on the list, and they&aposll distract you: "Oh, look, a family of quail!" Browne is, of course, the Michael Browne of Kosta Browne fame, and CIRQ is his second act, along with newly released CHEV (a broad-ranging regional wine that is also highly worth seeking out). Both labels, made in tiny quantities, will be housed under Browne&aposs new estate in the heart of the Russian River Valley, slated to open this year. Get on the list! In the meantime, his newly published Pinot Rocks book is available on Audible (with William Shatner doing the narration). Just 950 cases were made of this 2018 Russian River Pinot, which offers lifted aromas of candied cherry, and a walk through dense redwood forests after a light rain, violets, black truffles, and juicy, mouth-filling black raspberry, blood orange, cedar, and pine spices.
2016 Lang & Reed Two-Fourteen Cabernet Franc Napa Valley ($85)
Winemaker John Skupny likes to tell people he can&apost grow a tomato to save his life. I&aposm calling BS on that. The Midwestern transplant sure can work a vineyard, though. Skupny was born in Detroit and his dad worked for Ford, which meant that the family moved around a lot in his youth. He found his footing in the Kansas City white-tablecloth restaurant scene in the 1970s, where every night the tables were stained with top French and California wines. Bitten by the wine bug, he eventually landed in Napa with his wife Tracey. After working with a spate of icons, from Bob Trinchero and Chuck Wagner to Francis Ford Coppola, in 1996 he debuted Lang & Reed with a sole focus on Cabernet Franc. "I&aposd helped many people to make and sell high-end Napa Cabernet Sauvignon," says Skupny. "I was wary of taking ourselves too seriously, and Cabernet Franc is more level-headed." Still, his Cabernet Francs are pretty serious, and, incredibly, age like fine red Burgundy. This is the tenth vintage of Two-Fourteen, and what a beauty. Lifted and juicy red berry fruit, with deep earthy notes, atop a core of elegant acidity and feathery tannins making this a wonderful addition to just about any meal.
2017 Crescere Pinot Noir Platt Vineyard Sonoma Coast ($120)
Planted in 2003, Platt Vineyard sits five miles from the Pacific Ocean in Sonoma and has long been a source of world-class grapes for iconic producers like Ramey, Littorai, and Red Car. When Crescere founder Joe Reynoso got his hands on a few tons, he knew just what to do. This savvy son of a Mexican migrant worker from the Central Coast hired Philippe Melka when he launched his label in 2016. This is only the second release, and talk about an absolute stunner. Out of a markedly heavy bottle comes a surprising, almost translucent ruby-color, and heady aromas of clove and blood orange, cinnamon spices, and juicy bing cherry, grapefruit zest, and feathery wispy tannins on a long, long finish. "Varietal typicity, site specificity, purity of fruit and great texture with energy," is what Reynoso says you should expect of his wines. This Pinot proves it. Also, only 45 cases were produced.
2016 Cornell Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Fountaingrove District Sonoma County ($500 / 3 pack)
When Henry Cornell first set foot on the property atop the Mayacamas Mountains, just west of the Spring Mountain District, on the site that is now Cornell Vineyards, he may not have known that he would propose marriage to his wife, Vanessa, beneath a gorgeous oak tree. But he did know that in order to make the best wine from his chunk of the mountain, he would need one of the world&aposs finest winemakers. That&aposs why the Cornells tapped a legend: Francoise Peschon, of Araujo Estate fame. Peschon&aposs small team of viticultural workers live on the property full-time, which is a rarity, but also shows that the Cornells understand that long-term commitments to the land and community are essential to success. And the results of their hard work are evident in any of their wines, but this 2016 is a real standout. Vivid and layered with cracked black pepper, black cherry, blackberry, and blueberry, silken textures, fine-grained French cedar tannins, and impossibly fresh. Sign up for the mailing list, reach out to the winery, and get to know the Cornells—two of the most intriguing people to ever set up shop in wine country. If you have a hard time obtaining the &apos16, look for the &apos17 Cabernet in select high-end retail.
SPRING 2021 DISTINCTIVE NEW WINES FROM RIDGE AND TABLAS CREEK
New releases from Ridge are always a treat. Year after year Ridge produces gorgeous, balanced, food-friendly wines that can be consumed young and also can age effortlessly for years. When it comes to Ridge it is easy to get carried away. Ridge was founded in 1885 and its modern history dates back to 1960. It was in the late 1960s that I first became acquainted with Ridge wines and recognized that they were very special. For over 50 years I have been buying, drinking, and cellaring them. Ridge wines in my cellar today date back into the 1960s. I drink the wines often and can honestly say that I have never had a bad bottle of Ridge. But I have enjoyed more great bottles than I could ever possibly remember. This is an extraordinary combination. And, what I do know is that Ridge is a unique American winery with a portfolio of world class wines that are consistently great. The wines are made in a traditional way without any manipulation or additives and all the ingredients in the wines are shown on the label. Without question Ridge is the real deal.
That pretty well sums it up. If you don’t know Ridge you do not know what you are missing. So, I would advise that it’s better late than never. Now is the time to get started. Don’t miss these new releases which include what may be the best ever Estate Chardonnay, two great Zinfandels from Paso Robles and East Bench in Sonoma, and a very great 2018 Monte Bello.
2019 Ridge Estate Chardonnay
I really love this Chardonnay which combines flavor and depth with great balance and finesse. The color is light yellow and the wine has a great perfume with an exotic tinge and hints of green apple and citrus. On the palate it has delicious fruit with hints of peach and citrus with a floral nuance and a long lingering finish – Outstanding Plus. $55
2019 Ridge East Bench Zinfandel
This is the best East Bench Zinfandel I can remember tasting. It is dark ruby in color with lovely floral spice and black cherry perfume. Very elegant, supple, lush, and sensuous on the palate with spice tinged cherry fruit flavors accented by a floral undertone this is a really harmonious and delicious Zinfandel – Outstanding Plus. $32
2019 Ridge Geyserville
Always one of my favorite Ridge wines this 2019 Geyserville is made with 71% Zinfandel, 19% Carignane, 7% Petite Sirah, and 3% Alicante Bouschet. It is very dark in color with a lovely exotic tinged perfume with floral and mulberry undertones. On the palate the gorgeous fruit is very complex with layers of black fruits tinged with floral spice nuances. Showing great balance and flavor this is a stunning Geyserville that may be the most elegant and sensuous of all the great past vintages of Geyserville – Extraordinary. $45
2018 Ridge Paso Robles Zinfandel
This 100% Zinfandel is a real tour de force and is a textbook example of great Zinfandel. Very dark in color with a deep exotic plum perfume the wine has great intensity and depth with layers of very pure black fruit flavors showing an exotic tinge. Lush, rounded and sensous this is the best wine I have ever had from this vineyard and one of the best Zinfandels one could ever hope to drink. Great to drink now or cellar and enjoy for a decade or more – Extraordinary. $35
2018 Ridge Monte Bello
Wow! In the very long history of Monte Bello this wine this is one of the very best and that is saying a lot! It made with 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 21% merlot, and 1% Petite Verdot. The color is very dark and the stunning cassis tinged perfume has exotic floral undertones. On the palate there is a great intensity of cassis and blackberry fruit with hints of cedar and spice and with impeccable balance the finish goes on and on. And as delicious as this wine is now it will age gracefully and develop over the decades to come – Extraordinary Plus. $135
TABLAS CREEK VINEYARD
The spring 2021 releases from Tablas Creek Vineyard include the newest vintage of their two rosés (the Grenache-based Patelin de Tablas Rosé and the Mourvedre-based Dianthus), two varietal whites in contrasting styles (the zesty, citrusy 2020 Vermentino and the rich 2019 Roussanne), and the newest vintages of two red Rhône-style blends: the Syrah-based 2019 Patelin de Tablas and the Grenache-based 2019 Côtes de Tablas. All the wines except the two Patelin de Tablas wines (which are sourced from other Paso Robles Rhône specialist vineyards, most planted with cuttings from the Tablas Creek nursery) are entirely grown on Tablas Creek’s estate, the first vineyard in the world to receive Regenerative Organic Certification in August 2020.
And, as usual, the wines are stunning across the board representing Rosé in two different styles, White Wines in two distinctly different styles, and two Red Wines that are distinctive and really lovely. And from a consumer standpoint the values here are really extraordinary. With prices in a range of $25 to $40 this is a group of wines that represent the three different type of wines at prices that cannot be beat!
2020 Tablas Creek Vineyard Patelin de Tablas Rosé
With a pale amber gold color this rosé has a lovely floral perfume with hints of peach and citrus. Very elegant yet also very flavorful with floral tinged peach and citrus fruit the wine has a balanced underlying crispness and a very nice finish – Outstanding Plus. $25.00
2020 Tablas Creek Vineyard Dianthus
Every year Dianthus is always one of the very best rosés. This 2020 is no exception. With a very light reddish color showing a golden hue it has a lovely cherry floral tinged perfume. On the palate the floral tinged cherry fruit is very evident and the wine shows great balance, style, and finesse with a nice underlying crispness and a long lasting finish. This is a really stunning Rosé- Extraordinary. $30.00
2020 Tablas Creek Vineyard Vermentino
I love Vermentino for its bright crisp fruit with makes it a perfect accompaniment with lighter foods and especially vegetables. Pale yellow in color this wine has a lovely floral perfume with hints of white peach and citrus. Very elegant yet bright and crisp with floral citrus tinges this is a very distinctive wine – Outstanding Plus. $27.00
2019 Tablas Creek Vineyard Roussanne
I love Rousanne for its flavor, richness, and complexity. This is a great example. With a very light yellow gold color the wine has a lovely floral perfume with mineral undertones and a faint exotic nuance. On the palate the wine shows great lush fruit with faintly exotic nuances and a floral citrus undertone. While delicious now this wine will evolve gracefully for many years into the future – Extraordinary. $40.00
2019 Tablas Creek Vineyard Patelin de Tablas
Dark in color with a deep cherry perfume showing a faint exotic floral nuance this wine carries through on the palate with layers of fruit with floral spice notes rendered in a lush elegant and rounded style. This is a really delicious wine that is a great value – Outstanding Plus. $25.00
2019 Tablas Creek Vineyard Côtes de Tablas
Dark in color with a lovely blackberry and cherry perfume showing floral spice undertones this wine has lovely supple blackberry and cherry fruit with faint spice tinges and is supple, lush and flavorful with great balance and a long finish. This is a very stylistic and delicious tour-de- force that is also a great value – Extraordinary. $35.00
Your New Go-To White Wine for Spring Sipping
If you love white wine, you’ve probably found the usual suspects of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Pinot Grigio in your glass more than once. As much as we love these varieties, we’re filling our glasses with something a little less known (and equally tasty!) this spring. It’s floral, it’s refreshing, and above all, it’s seriously delicious. Any guesses?
If you placed your bet on Viognier, you hit the nail on the head. This aromatic white grape is best known for its juicy, medium- to full-bodied wines that promise to please a variety of wine lovers. For those who aren’t as familiar with the variety, fear not — we’ve got you covered just in time for International Viognier Day (April 30).
First, some quick facts: Although the origins of Viognier are a bit unknown, most viticulturists agree that the grape likely finds its origins in Croatia, from which it was then brought over to France’s Rhône Valley by the Romans. The grape was on the brink of extinction just 50 years ago, but a rise in consumer popularity caused the number of plantings to increase. Genetically speaking, Viognier is closely related to two of Piedmont’s most common red grapes, Freisa and Nebbiolo.
Today, Viognier has made quite a name for itself, despite its humble origins. It is the only grape variety used in the prestigious white wines of France’s Condrieu and Château-Grillet appellations, and it is widely included in white wine blends across the south of France. Outside Europe, the grape is cultivated in North and South America, Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, the latter of whose expressions should not be overlooked.
Which brings us to Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family-owned estate. The winery was founded in 1849 and is best known for its progressive, forward-thinking approach in both the vineyard and the cellar. Yalumba’s wines are produced at the hands of its fiercely talented chief winemaker, Louisa Rose, with grapes from the Barossa and Eden Valleys, as well as the Coonawarra and Wrattonbully regions of South Australia.
Yalumba’s wines are produced at the hands of its fiercely talented chief winemaker, Louisa Rose.
Yalumba has been following its own sustainable viticulture program in the vineyards, which it first introduced over 25 years ago. Native yeast fermentations turn the grape juice into wine, and biodiversity in the vineyards is actively encouraged, as the estate believes this fosters the growth of healthier, higher-quality fruit. As the estate tells Winebow Imports, which represents it in the U.S., “For every hectare of vineyard we own, we have at least one hectare of native vegetation.” All of Yalumba’s wines have been 100 percent vegan since the 2012 vintage.
Winemaker Louisa Rose tells VinePair that Yalumba first planted Viognier back in 1980, at a time when there was hardly any to be found across the globe. “The inspiration came from wanting to look at alternative varieties from around the world, which might be suited to our lifestyles, culture, and foods,” she explains, highlighting Yalumba’s on-site propagation nursery, which allowed (and still allows) for the study of new varieties through small, experimental vineyard plantings.
“At the time, Viognier was such an unknown variety that we didn’t have any particular expectations — it was over the following years as we experimented and learned about the variety that we came to love it,” she says. “Today, we love its flavor, versatility, and the fact that it goes so well with so many cuisines and foods.”
At VinePair, we find that Viognier wines’ rich, medium- to full-bodied palates are generally loaded with flavors of stone fruit, honeysuckle, and sweet citrus, which are often accompanied by creamy hints of vanilla after oak aging. The lush flavor profile and relatively low acidity in Viognier make it soft and juicy on the palate, rendering it the perfect match to a variety of springtime food favorites. So what makes an Aussie expression different?
The lush flavor profile and relatively low acidity in Viognier make it soft and juicy on the palate, and perfect for food pairing.
Rose notes that Eden Valley Viognier expresses lots of stone fruit characters, ginger, white pepper, and some white flowers. “The Yalumba style is to [create] wines with the richness of flavor that the variety has, but to respect the low acidity and natural tannins of the grape that result in wines with freshness, structure, and length,” she says. Yalumba currently makes four expressions of Viognier, all of which are fermented with natural yeasts and stay on the lees before blending and bottling. Rose explains the differences here:
Yalumba The Virgilius Viognier
One hundred percent fermented and aged in mature French oak barrels. From our oldest Eden Valley vineyards (1980s), this is a barrel selection wine made about 10 months after harvest. The style is reserved and sophisticated, and the wine will open up and take the drinker on a journey as it evolves in the glass (or in the cellar). It is often compared to a red wine in the way that it behaves and the food and experiences that it pairs with.
Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Eden Valley Viognier
Fruit for this wine comes from all of our Eden Valley vineyards. About half of this wine is fermented in mature oak, while the other half is vinified in stainless-steel tanks. Like The Virgilius, it spends about 10 months on lees before blending and bottling. This wine is always open and expressive, showing lots of apricot and other Viognier flavors.
Yalumba Y Series Viognier
This wine is made from vineyards from different regions in South Australia, where the range of Viognier’s flavors and characters really come together. This wine is fermented and aged for three to four months in stainless steel tanks, where the freshness and vibrancy of the variety are maintained.
Yalumba Organic Viognier
This expression is made from organically certified vineyards from different regions in South Australia. It is produced very similarly to the Y Series wine, although with strictly organically grown grapes (not that our “normal” winemaking is that much different, but the organic viticultural processes are subject to auditing as they are certified).
As both Rose and VinePair agree, Viognier could possibly be the best gateway white for skeptical red wine drinkers. “Viognier is like a red wine without the red,” Rose says, dubbing the wines flavorful, textured, food-friendly, and delicious. “Viognier appeals to many people: those who enjoy white wines, and often those who consider themselves red wine drinkers only,” she says, citing the grape as “particularly appealing” to those who enjoy experimenting with food, whether in their own kitchens or out at restaurants. Some of Rose’s recommended pairings include poached lobster, spicy crab rolls, pad thai, chicken tagine, barbecued pork spare ribs, ratatouille, roasted cauliflower, baba ganoush, fresh gnocchi, and more.
For a go-to spring white that promises to please a variety of palates and pair well with a plethora of foods, look no further than Yalumba Viognier, available nationwide.
Mandarin Mimosa Recipe
We’ve partnered with Mongibello Juice to bring you this delicious Mandarin Mimosa recipe. If you’re looking for new brunch ideas, this citrusy cocktail is perfect. For a refreshing treat, make a pitcher and sip it poolside. The recipe is simple, with a twist on the classic mimosa. It’ll keep you running back for refills!
Mongibello’s juice, made from 100% fresh squeezed Italian mandarins, pairs perfectly with a dry Sparkling Wine. We used Antica Terra Millesimato*, a handcrafted Sparkling Italian wine from our Cellar Collection.
Recipe makes about 6 mimosas.
The key to making the perfect and refreshing mimosa is to make sure all ingredients are chilled (including your flutes). We recommend chilling your glasses in the freezer for 15 minutes before making your mimosas. This will give your drink a crisp finish!
Fill your chilled flute halfway with a dry Sparkling Wine (we recommend Cava or Prosecco).
Next, top off your glass with Mongibello’s Mandarin Juice. Using a fresh squeezed juice, similar to this one, gives your mimosa a lighter and more delicate flavor.
Mandarin Mimosa Tasting Notes
Serving tip: Make your mimosas one by one if you can (instead of pre-mixing in a pitcher). This maintains the carbonation for a fresh, bubbly drink.
In this recipe, we used Antica Terra Millesimato*, a Cellar Collection Sparkling Wine.
Wine tasting notes: A Sparkling Wine that is robust in its body and made from a crisp champagne grape blend. This wine is generous and well-structured on the palate.
*Call your local wine store for wine availability and recommendations for alternative options. Other wines we suggest to try for this recipe are:
This fun recipe is a must-try for summer. Whether you’re sipping a Mandarin Mimosa by the pool or making a pitcher of cocktails for brunch, it’s a refreshing treat in the summer heat. Even better, you can now shop online 24/7 and enjoy every day deals on our variety of handcrafted Sparkling Wines!
Making this recipe? Be sure to tag us in your wine photos on social media @thewinecellargroup and use #TheWineCellarGroup for a chance to be featured on our page!
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WINE TALK A Spring Cleaning Sale for the Cellar
THE restaurant at the American Hotel here is not a bistro. The chef does not routinely toss unused wines into the coq au vin.
They do that in France, of course. In Italy, too. And, if truth be told, in plenty of good restaurants in this country as well.
But what of all the really good bottles of wine that for some reason lie forgotten in restaurant wine cellars? There are wines a few years past their prime there are wines that are out of style. And yes, there are ''in'' wines and wines that are, well, ''out.'' And then again there are wines that people simply know little about. What does one do with them?
Ted Conklin, who owns the American Hotel in this Long Island village, and presides over its astonishing 40,000-bottle wine cellar, has come up with a solution. It may not be suitable for someone with only a modest cache of wine, but it works for him. And it may also work just fine for East End wine enthusiasts with a few dollars to spare. (I use 'ɺ few dollars'' advisedly.)
What Mr. Conklin has done is to assemble what he calls 'ɺ random list of bin-end bottles saved over many years'' and is offering them to his customers at what he deems reasonable prices.
It's a variation on an old theme. Some years ago, when Peter Kriendler was still ruling the roost at the '✡'' Club, he decided that the wine cellar was overstocked with aging claret and that he had to unload some of it. Mr. Kriendler was a forceful six-footer. Prowling the dining room, he would thrust a not-too-helpful wine list under the noses of his well-heeled regulars. ''Take a chance,'' heɽ growl at the intimidated gentry, 'ɺ hundred bucks a bottle, no substitutions, no returns.'' He moved a lot of old wine that way.
Louis Daniel had another approach. He ran a place called Le Chambertin on West 46th Street. For a modest West Side place in the theater district, the cellar was remarkable. About once a year, Mr. Daniel would cull some old-timers from his collection, usually Bordeaux, and offer them to his customers at bargain prices. In the 1970's, he would put together a dinner for four, with two well-known Bordeaux, usually from the 1950's, for $125. For the whole works.
But back to Sag Harbor. Hedging his bets, Mr. Conklin said of his offerings: ''Sometimes patience or intellect must be called upon to enjoy them.'' But he hastened to add, ''They are almost always more than drinkable.'' Indeed, they usually provide the seasoned connoisseur -- that is to say, the wine geek -- a unique experience. A bit more restrained than Mr. Kriendler, Mr. Conklin added: ''I cannot speak to the quality of some of these one-off examples, but the bottles were stored well and should surprise, challenge and satisfy.''
There are 24 wines offered at the American Hotel at prices from $45 to $140. The 11 reds are all California cabernet sauvignons and merlots, 10 of them from the Napa Valley. Duckhorn Vineyards accounts for six, including merlots from 1986 ($140), 1989 ($90), 1990 ($100) and 1991 ($135). Other reds include a 1977 cabernet from Sterling Vineyards at $80 and a 1986 merlot from Inglenook at $85.
Five whites are California chardonnays ranging in age from a 1991 Rasmussen to a 1994 Raymond, both from the Napa Valley. Others are from Hess, Talbot and Qupé and are $60 to $85. More interesting, to me, anyway, are the two white Burgundies and six Alsatian wines. I might be a little nervous investing $70 in a 1988 Clos de Vougeot blanc less so spending $90 for a 1993 Puligny-Montrachet from the Domaine LeFlaive, one of the best white wine producers in Burgundy.
What to Cook Right Now
Sam Sifton has menu suggestions for the coming days. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.
- Do not miss Yotam Ottolenghi’s incredible soba noodles with ginger broth and crunchy ginger. for fungi is a treat, and it pairs beautifully with fried snapper with Creole sauce.
- Try Ali Slagle’s salad pizza with white beans, arugula and pickled peppers, inspired by a California Pizza Kitchen classic.
- Alexa Weibel’s modern take on macaroni salad, enlivened by lemon and herbs, pairs really nicely with oven-fried chicken.
- A dollop of burrata does the heavy lifting in Sarah Copeland’s simple recipe for spaghetti with garlic-chile oil.
Alsatian wines are probably the last great bargains in the world of truly fine wines. Accordingly, I would not hesitate, assuming I had saved my pennies, to drop $100 for a 1984 Tokay Clos St.-Urbain from Zind-Humbrecht or a 1987 Riesling Rangen from the same producer. In fact, if I could lure my favorite Alsatian, André Soltner, ex of Lutèce, out there one of these days, Iɽ go halfies on that one with him. Maybe on both of them.
Two old-vines pinot auxerrois from Josmeyer, a 1985 and a 1989, are bargains at $55 and $45, as is a 1990 gewürztraminer from Hugel for $65.
(By the way, Zind-Humbrecht and Josmeyer are estates, or producers. Tokay, riesling, pinot auxerrois and gewürztraminer are grape varieties tokay is also known as pinot gris. Rangen and the Clos St.-Urbain are vineyards, with the latter owned by Zind-Humbrecht.)
Of course, there are other ways of dealing with an oversupply of wine. Some restaurateurs press them on catered parties, some try to sell less expensive excess wines by the glass. Others use psychology: a captain will whisper in a customer's ear: ''I have something in the cellar that only a connoisseur like yourself would appreciate -- and at a very good price.'' Or a wine that is still on the wine list but hasn't been selling will be moved up on the list and its price increased.
''No one wants to buy the cheapest bottle on the list,'' a sommelier once told me. ''So we increase the price and place it more prominently on the list. Usually, it will be gone in a couple of weeks.''
Strict liquor laws allow restaurants little room to maneuver. But distributors have been known to take wine off a restaurateur's hands to make room for newer items. And in rare instances, wines have been known to move informally from someone who doesn't need them to someone who does.
Viticulturalists and winemakers rejoice when the weather turns warm.
“Spring is my favorite time of year,” says Emily Faulconer, agricultural engineer and chief winemaker for Viña Carmen in Chile. “Sunny days, the Andes covered in snow, the start of new life. Pleasant weather, the cover crops growing, butterflies. I simply love it.”
Come spring, Faulconer and her team tackle planning and maintenance projects in the vineyard like planting cover crops, removing extraneous shoots and lifting new vine growth.
“At our Alto Jahuel estate, we plant cover crops between rows and apply hummus and mulch directly on the vines,” she says. She plants native flora as cover crops because it’s familiar to the local fauna. They have evolved into a symbiotic, living ecosystem. “It is impossible to achieve the expression of the terroir if there is no life in the vineyard,” she says.
As temperatures increase, tiny leaves, tendrils and miniature flower clusters burst through the buds on the vines / Getty
Ntsiki Biyela, the owner/winemaker of Aslina Wines in South Africa, also ramps up vineyard management the spring. Since Ntsiki’s vineyards are certified by the Integrated Production of Wine (IPW), a voluntary environmental sustainability scheme, she takes extra care to set up corridors of local fynbos and succulents between vineyards. This creates natural habitats that attract beneficial insects.
The laborious task of desuckering also begins in earnest. To remove unwanted shoots that pull water, energy and nutrients from developing fruit may sound familiar to tomato gardeners who pluck small suckers between plant stems and branches.
“Spring is my favorite time of year. Sunny days, the Andes covered in snow, the start of new life… I simply love it.” —Emily Faulconer, Viña Carmen
Toward the end of spring, shoot growth becomes unwieldy. Vines meant for trellises are lifted off the ground with moveable wire and set into an upright position. Trellis systems have multiple benefits. They lift heavy fruit off the ground, maximize sun exposure and airflow, and make maintenance passes and harvesting easier.
If vines need to be replanted, whether from disease, old age or changing varieties, growers do so in the spring.
FROM THE FIELD’S WINE COLUMNIST
We’re back in bloody lockdown again – at the time of writing – and I can’t imagine that many readers bothered with Dry January. Oh, and hands up those who have foresworn vino for Lent? Hmmm, just as I thought: nobody. Not this year of all years.
I’ve certainly been hoovering through the hooch, ably assisted by Mrs Ray, who’s nothing if not a team player and never backward in coming forward, glass in hand, whenever she hears the merest squeak of a corkscrew. Indeed, so successful have we been in slaking our thirsts that the cobwebbed cupboard under the stairs – aka The Cellar – is pretty much bare and needs an urgent restock. I’m sure you’re in the same boat.
The perfect time, then, for this cracking offer from Private Cellar, our partners in The Field Wine Club. We were delighted with our inaugural offer in December and I have every confidence that this springtime selection – carefully chosen by me and PC’s marketing director, Laura Taylor – will be just as well received.
Field Wine Columnist
What Happens in a Winery in Spring
To the joy of Californians, spring is here on the West Coast! After months of intense rains, it’s getting green across the vineyards that blanket California, and worker bees are outside and humming. (To everyone still battling the arctic winds of the Midwest and Northeast, I’m sorry. Move West.)
In the wineries that neighbor those vineyards, a different type of worker bee is humming along excitedly. While the outdoors (and daylight that lasts through Happy Hour) get all the attention this season, work doesn’t stop in the cellar as the focus shifts outside. Instead, winemakers and cellar rats get ready for even longer days and the overtime hours of harvest, by finishing up last year’s harvest.
While fermentation and the loud, exciting parts of winemaking ended in the fall, most 2016s aren’t finished yet. As the vines outside hibernated, the 2016 vintage was indoors developing, going through quiet changes like malolactic fermentation and oak aging, which give wines their complex flavors and creamy mouthfeel. Basically, those wines spent the winter becoming delicious.
36 Gifts and Gadgets For Anyone Who Loves Drinks
With the start of spring, most rosé and white wines are ready for their debuts, which means it’s time for winemakers to blend, filter, and bottle. These three tasks not only get great vino closer to us, but they open up space in the winery for this year’s juice.
Blending is the first challenge for winemakers putting together rosé and white wines in the new year. Sometimes, a blend of grapes is fermented together, but often the final blend of a wine is determined after all the wines have finished fermenting separately, and spent a few months mellowing out in tank or barrel. Depending on the winery’s goals — to produce a patio pounder or an austere if thought-provoking wine — winemakers assemble a team of tasters and several prospective blends. After many rounds of tasting, the wines are combined in their final percentages in a huge tank.
Because blending involves transferring wines from one container — a barrel, or tank — to another, which shakes up the wine, the blends need time to settle. Settling time lets any sediment fall to the bottom of the tank, and after about a week they’re ready for the next spring activity: filtering.
Filtering is exactly what it sounds like, but a winery’s filtration system is a lot more complicated than your coffee maker. Usually, wineries use a sterile filter, which looks like a giant accordion and is filled with removable cardboard filter boxes. Winemakers pump the wine through this filter to remove the tiniest bits of sediment floating in the wine, down to bacteria-sized pieces that can eventually cause strange aromas or flavors in the wine. Filtering isn’t done in every winery, but it helps allow large-production wines to taste similar year in and year out, and it helps prevent spoilage, which is crucial for wineries at any size.
Once wines are filtered, they’re ready to be bottled and shipped away, either to distributors or directly to thirsty consumers. At large wineries, bottling is done in-house, but smaller wineries often bring in a bottling service or ship their wines in tanker trucks to be bottled off-site.
While blending and bottling aren’t particularly exciting, they serve a crucial purpose in the winery — making room for new wines! All of these processes clear up space in barrels and small tanks so they can be cleaned, prepped, and made ready for the upcoming harvest. The processes start six months in advance in case barrels or tanks need to be replaced or moved, which takes a lot of coordination and time when you’re dealing with 10,000-gallon tanks and/or hundreds of barrels.
Inside or outside, spring is a busy season in the wine business and the best part is spring activities bring lots of wines directly to you. Let’s drink to that.
Watch the video: Σαν την Χαλκιδική δεν έχει! Ελάτε να επισκεφτούμε το οινοποιείο Κλαούντια Παπαγιάννη! (October 2021).