Summer Sippers

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Summer Break!

A few weeks ago, I decided to take a break from writing. I have many articles pending publication, so I felt like it was a good time to experience a summer break again. When I taught college, I had summers off, three months off. That is probably the one key thing I miss about teaching, time off to do other things like writing, studying, and traveling. I always came back refreshed for the fall semester.

In the wine business, summer and fall are the busiest time of the year, so it can be exhausting to work all day, then evenings and weekends, too. I think we all need time to free our minds, even if we are doing what we love. Furthermore, I love enjoying wine in the moment instead of writing a post in my head or taking photos. However, it has become almost automatic to think this way. Therefore, when I tasted the following three wines, I was not planning to write about them immediately, but they pleased me so much that I wanted to share them with you now. All three are perfect for summer and beyond. Enjoy!

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2015 Alpha Estate Malagouzia
2015 Alpha Estate Malagouzia, Turtles Vineyard, PGI Florina, Macedonia, Greece (sample, around $23)
I have only had Greek wines one time, at a conference reception, so essentially, this is my first, focused tasting of a Greek wine, the 2015 Alpha Estate Malagouzia Turtles Vineyard, PGI Florina (Macedonia, Greece), obviously my first malagouzia as well. My first impression of this wine is that it’s reminiscent of torrontés. In the glass, it displays a pale, greenish-yellow hue. Honeysuckle and stone fruit aromatics leap from the glass. Mouthwatering grapefruit, green apple, and melon flavors intertwine with a sur lie induced, textured mouthfeel. The result is a wine that’s both juicy and substantial, with tangy acidity and a finish that goes on and on. Find this wine through Diamond Wine Importers and distributors nationwide.

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2013 Cave de Turckheim Pinot Blanc Tradition

2013 Cave de Turckheim Pinot Blanc Tradition, Alsace, France (sample, $19)
The 2013 Cave de Turckheim Pinot Blanc, Alsace, is a lot like me, perhaps, misunderstood and underrated because many don’t know what pinot blanc is. It’s a mutation of pinot noir and a versatile white wine that you can pair with almost anything, even quiche. Given that, I decided to pair it with my dinner eggs, since eggs are my primary protein of choice these days. It’s fermented and aged in stainless steel and contains a smidgen of auxerrois, which enhances the fruitiness and spiciness of this wine. Aromas and flavors run the gamut from citrus peel, to crisp apple, to white peach, with medium acidity and a creamy texture. Pair this with brunch fare like eggs, or with a wide range of foods like seafood, shellfish, salads, and soft cheeses. Contact importer Magnum Wines International to find this wine.

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2014 Trentadue Winery Pinot Noir

2014 Trentadue Winery Pinot Noir, Marcucci Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California ($28)
Trentadue Winery is known for their Alexander Valley reds, but winemaker Miro Tcholakov crafts a lovely pinot noir with grapes sourced from Marcucci Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. It showcases pretty floral and cherry notes. Layers of black cherry, spice, and earth envelope the palate. The wine’s juicy, cinnamony finish seals the deal. Only eight barrels were made. This wine was part of my spring wine club shipment. This single-vineyard, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is a steal at $28. It is available directly from the winery and Trentadue ships to most states.

I am going to return my summer break now, but stay tuned for my pending articles for American Winery Guide and Snooth, as well as an upcoming movie review and details from my August trip to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, California!

Cheers!
Beth

 

Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016

2013 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River
2013 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River

It seems appropriate to close out the writing year with an end-of-year post. At this moment, I don’t have a plan of how this is going to evolve, so please bear with me and stay along for the ride.

A Collage of My Experience at Hudson-Chatham Winery
A Collage of My Experience at Hudson-Chatham Winery

First and foremost, thank you to those of you who have been reading, especially those of you who may have been around the four and a half years this website has been in existence. Thank you to the various wineries and wine public relations businesses who have sent me samples for consideration. This endeavor is still purely a hobby and I do not earn any money to do this. However, I do believe that this website was one of a few catalysts that led to me living and working in Napa, so this is why I continue to write.

Exel Wines Top 100 Most Influential Wine Blog
Exel Wines Top 100 Most Influential Wine Blog

The readership of my website has increased exponentially in 2015. I believe there are a few reasons for this, such as being featured as a top 100 wine blog on a couple of websites such as Wine Turtle and Exel Wines. My writing has also been featured in wine writing challenges and on other websites such as American Winery Guide, Grape Collective, The Drunken Cyclist, Snooth, and Wine Turtle, which has brought new readers to this site. I also won the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #18 (#MWWC18) with this post. I am forever grateful for this fortuity.

My visit to Kemmeter Wines
My visit to Kemmeter Wines

I am especially thankful for the opportunity to write winery reviews for American Winery Guide. I have published seven reviews the past four months. While I love tasting and drinking wine, from the very start of this endeavor, I have been called Travel or Traveling Wine Chick, with travel coming first. Travel experiences are my niche. I love sharing my impressions of a winery and/or its winemaker(s), and if a wine tasting review fits, I add it. In 2016, you will see more travel, winery/wine experiences, and follow-your-passion stories in my writing.

#MWWC18 Winner!
#MWWC18 Winner!

The other day, WordPress sent me my end-of-year statistics for this blog and I was a bit surprised at the staying power of some of the posts. Three of the most viewed posts this year were written in 2012, 2013, and 2014. The top five viewed posts are:

  1. Biltmore Estate Winery (September 2013)
  2. Getting the skinny on Skinny Vine (November 2012)
  3. #MWWC18: Crisis (July 2015)
  4. Wine and a Movie: Under the Tuscan Sun Paired With Wines of Tuscany (December 2014)
  5. Choice: Va La Vineyards (September 2015)

Themes of travel, winery, and personal experiences dominate four of these posts. As to the Skinny Vine post, I am not sure why that’s still popular, as I was such a beginner three years ago. It is cool to see how far I’ve come, though.

Drinking Blissfully: Quinta do Cabeco, Arrojo 2013, Malvasia Fina/Rabigato/Viosinho
Drinking Blissfully: Quinta do Cabeco, Arrojo 2013, Malvasia Fina/Rabigato/Viosinho

The top referrals to my website came from Facebook, Twitter, Wine Turtle, The Drunken Cyclist, and The Fermented Fruit. The latter two websites are written by two of my dearest wine writing colleagues and these connections warm my heart. It would also seem that the next time that I see them, I owe them at least a drink.

A collage of visits: Galer Estate, Penns Woods, and Va La Vineyards
A collage of visits: Galer Estate, Penns Woods, and Va La Vineyards

These were difficult to choose, but below are my favorite experiences and/or writing of the year published on this website, American Winery Guide, and Snooth, in sort of alphabetical order. Most touched me on a very personal level. When I reread these, I feel as if I am reliving the joy and pleasure I felt during the visits and tastings. If you haven’t read them, please do. Better yet, please visit these producers and/or taste their wines.

  1. Choice: Va La Vineyards
  2. Drinking Blissfully
  3. Galer Estate Vineyard and Winery
  4. Holiday Wine Value Picks Under Fifteen Bucks
  5. Hudson-Chatham Winery
  6. Kemmeter Wines
  7. Penns Woods Winery
  8. Summer Fall Transition Wines Under $20
  9. The Magic of Jordan Winery
  10. The 2015 Vintage Prediction Round-Up

I hope that as we move into 2016, I can count on your support as I transition into a new phase of my writing and wine business career. I am excited about new, unannounced opportunities. Stay tuned.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!
Beth

The Magic of Jordan Winery

Spring at Jordan
Spring at Jordan

Jordan Winery, now led by second-generation vintner John Jordan and winemaker Rob Davis, was established in 1972 and truly is a rock star winery. The history and prestige of Jordan has long fascinated me, especially since they only make two wines, an Alexander Valley Cabernet and a Russian River Chardonnay. It’s a testament to their winegrowing and winemaking that they’ve been successful for so long.

Raw Oysters and 2013 Chardonnay
Raw Oysters and 2013 Chardonnay

Ever since I began participating in wine social media in 2010, Jordan has been on my radar. I remember buying a bottle of Jordan Chardonnay three or four years ago to participate in a virtual tasting. Two years ago, I was invited to participate in a similar virtual tasting when I was staying in nearby Santa Rosa, but I was booked at other wineries that day and evening, so I unfortunately had to bow out. At a couple of wine bloggers’ conferences, I attended Jordan’s after parties and enjoyed the wines. In 2014 when I moved to Napa, Jordan must have had me on their radar, too, as I received an invitation to their Spring at Jordan annual release party, which I wrote about here. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was invited back to this year’s party on May 16 and I couldn’t be more honored to participate again.

Small Bites Tuna Appetizer
Small Bites Tuna Appetizer

This year’s party, themed The White Party, was even more enjoyable than the year before. The food offerings were quite astounding: luscious breads, cheeses, charcuturie, and desserts, as well as brick oven pizzas, fresh vegetables, raw oysters, caviar, tuna, and even bone marrow! The food and festivities were accompanied by a band, corn toss, Jordan’s new releases – the 2011 Cabernet and 2013 Chardonnay – and a few wines from their library collection. As much as I enjoyed all of the wines, the one that really stood out for me was the 2013 Chardonnay. I was smitten at the first sip.

2013 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River
2013 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River

The 2013 Chardonnay, sporting Jordan’s new label, is a beautiful example of Russian River Chardonnay and a steal at only $30. The grapes, harvested at night, come from 18 vineyard blocks east of the Russian River.  The clusters were destemmed and pressed at night. Fermentation took place for 14 days in two-thirds oak barrels and one-third stainless steel, followed by two months of sur lie aging and bâttonage. The wine was then aged six months in 100% French oak, 40% new, and bottled using Jordan’s state-of-the art bottling line. The result is the best Jordan Chardonnay I’ve tasted to date. It demonstrates layers of tree, stone, tropical, and citrus fruits – such as green apples, pears, melon, passionfruit, and lemon – and nice minerality. The mouthfeel is decadent, the acidity lively and refreshing. It paired perfectly with everything I ate at the party, even the raw oysters and caviar. I agree with Rob Davis when he says, This vintage is truly epic.

If you’d like to learn more about this vintage of Chardonnay, Jordan has created a tasting note video with Rob Davis.

Thank you to Jordan for the invitation to enjoy their hospitality, food, and wine again this year. I am looking forward to my next opportunity to experience the magic of Jordan Winery.

For more information about wine, food, and travel in Sonoma County, visit the new website, Wine Country Table, by the staff of Jordan Winery.

Cheers!
Beth

What’s In My Glass

A few years ago, I used to post reviews such as these, where I shared a few noteworthy wines I’d been drinking. Today seems as good of a day as any to do the same. Below, in the order consumed, are a few of the special wines that have been in my glass lately.

2012 Damselfly Sémillon, Lake County
2012 Damselfly Sémillon, Lake County

2012 Damselfly Sémillon, Lake County, not yet released
This wine was a gift from the producers. It’s not often you find Sémillon as a standalone, dry wine, but this inaugural effort from Damselfly Wines is an easy-to-drink sipper with loads of lemon and lime and a long finish. As it warms up, juicy tropical fruit flavors become more pervasive, as does lime peel on the finish. The story behind the name Damselfly, as shared on the bottle’s back label, is both inspiring and befitting of this Sémillon. I can’t wait until this wine is released to the public. I paired it with scallops and veggies.

2012 Trentadue La Storia Merlot, Block 500, Alexander Valley
2012 Trentadue La Storia Merlot, Block 500, Alexander Valley

2012 Trentadue La Storia Merlot, Block 500, Alexander Valley, $34 at the winery
Another gift from a friend, this award-winning, 100% Merlot will change your mind about the grape if you still hold any ill will against it. On the nose and the palate, it’s decadent, with black cherry, raspberry, baking spices, cocoa, and vanilla. At 25 Brix when the grapes were harvested, and aged in 38% new French and European oak, this Merlot yields a fine balance of ripe berries, oak influence, firm tannins, and lively acid. You may drink this now or lay it down for three to six years.

2012 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2012 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

2012 Faust Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, $55 at the winery (sold in six and 12 packs online)
Legend has it that Faust sold his soul to the devil in exchange for magical, supernatural powers. This wine, like its namesake, exhibits its own magic in the glass. The grapes are cold-soaked and fermented in both stainless steel and French oak, then aged for 19 months in 100% French oak (30% new). A blend of 80% Cabernet, 16% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot from vineyards in Coombsville, Atlas Peak, Mount Veeder, St. Helena, and Oak Knoll District, this wine is deep ruby-purple in color, with a dense, luscious mouthfeel and long finish. Layers of black cherry, blackcurrant, and chocolate dominate the nose and palate. It’s a quintessential Napa Cabernet. Decant it and drink now or age six to eight years longer. This was a sample provided by Faust by way of Fineman PR.

That’s what’s in my glass. What’s in yours?

Cheers!
Beth

Jordan Vineyards and Winery: A Must-Visit in Sonoma County

Part of the Jordan property
Part of the Jordan property

Jordan Vineyards and Winery has a forty-two year history in Alexander Valley of Sonoma County, California. Therefore, I was both honored and thrilled to be invited as a media guest to Jordan’s annual spring release party. It’s not often that I can say I felt sort of starstruck with a winery, but Jordan has a long and fascinating history, including their wines being served at notable White House events as well as the Academy Awards.

Before attending the party, I did a bit of research about Jordan. The first thing I stumbled upon was the Jordan Estate Rewards program, which is quite different from the traditional wine club approach to customer loyalty. I immediately enrolled so that I could see how it works. Members earn points with every purchase, and at varying levels starting at 4,500 points, can redeem their points for tours, tastings, events, luncheons, dinners, and overnight stays. I already felt like a part of the winery’s family.

The Château at Jordan
The Château at Jordan

Upon arrival to the property, my immediate response was gorgeous and impeccably maintained. I believe the main building is often referred to as the château, and with good reason, as it’s truly a gem of a building set on some of the most beautiful land I have ever seen. I almost felt like I had entered another era. There was even badminton on one of the front lawns.

Just a small section of the food spread at Jordan
Just a small section of the food spread at Jordan

With regard to the party itself, this year’s theme was Paris, so food choices included such delicacies as pâté, lamb chops, raw oysters, caviar, vichyssoise, duck sliders, smoked meats, rich French cheeses, and a variety of French breads. To say I was impressed would be an understatement.

The current releases, the 2010 Alexander Valley Cabernet and the 2012 Russian River Chardonnay, were served, along with a couple of library offerings, the 2006 Cabernet and 2007 Chardonnay. I tasted three of the four wines.

2012 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
2012 Jordan Chardonnay, Russian River Valley

I had tasted a vintage of the Chardonnay previously, but this time, after more education and experience, felt like I was more equipped to offer an evaluation of the wine. I was impressed with the ageability of the 2007. It still possessed lively fruit after seven years. This is one of those wines I would say drink now, it’s at its moment to be enjoyed. The 2012 Chardonnay, which is aged in 100% French oak for 6.5 months (42% new oak) and sur-lie aged with some bâtonnage, is vibrant and fruit forward, with a creamy mouthfeel, ample acidity, and aromas and flavors of apples, pears, baking spices, and vanilla. The wine is both fined and filtered. I purchased a bottle of this wine to enjoy at a later date.

Vichyssoise with smoked salmon and caviar at Jordan
Vichyssoise with smoked salmon and caviar at Jordan

The 2010 Cabernet was equally impressive. It is aged 12 months in 74% French and 26% American oak barrels (39% new oak: 67% French, 33% American) and is aged in the bottle another 21 months. The wine composition is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, and 1% Malbec, which results in a very food-friendly wine that has aromas and flavors of dark berries and chocolate, with a nice balance of acidity and tannin. Decanting the wine prior to serving is recommended. Regretfully, I didn’t purchase this wine and now I am kicking myself. I will have to schedule a return visit soon and will take advantage of one of their varied tour options. To whet your visit appetite, please take a look at their most recent tour and tasting video:

Don’t forget to get fit for these most recent Chardonnay and Cabernet releases. Yes, the wonderful staff at Jordan have a wonderful sense of humor, too.

When you plan your trip to Sonoma County, please make sure Jordan is on your must-visit list and join their rewards program in advance so you can be part of the Jordan family upon arrival.

 

#WIYG: The December 2012 #TGTaste Edition

In a forthcoming, end-of-the-year post, I will be detailing some of what has happened to me in 2012, which has caused me to be somewhat remiss in my reviews. For now, here are some of the wines I’ve tasted in the last two ThirstyGirl #TGTaste events, one in partnership with Whole Foods, and the other in partnership with Domaine Ste. Michelle.

2011 Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc
2011 Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc

2011 Ferrari-Carano Fumé (Sauvignon) Blanc, Sonoma County, $15.00
I love a warmer-climate Sauvignon Blanc like this one, which boasts a combination of citrus, melon, and tropical fruits, like guava, kiwi, and mango. With a cooperage of 65% stainless steel, 35% older French oak barrels, it is crisp, yet has a substantial mouthfeel and a nice finish.

2010 H&G Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley
2010 H&G Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley

2010 H&G Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, $14.00
According to the website, the grapes for this wine are hand-picked from small lots. This wine is surprisingly smooth for an inexpensive Cabernet Sauvignon, with lots of cherry and plum flavors and mild tannins, which makes it very easy to drink, with or without food.

Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Rosé and Brut
Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Rosé and Brut

Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut and Brut Rosé, $8-$12
The Brut (88% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Noir) and Brut Rosé (100% Pinot Noir), both made in the traditional (champenoise) method, are both fantastic price-to-quality sparklers. A friend and I paired them with a variety of foods, such as fresh raspberries, Gouda and crackers, and crusty bread dipped in a choice of three olive oil blends: balsamic vinegar, Italian spices, and Kosher salt. The Brut has zesty citrus and tart crabapple flavors and paired well with the Gouda and crackers and the bread dipped in olive oil-Kosher salt. The Brut Rosé has raspberry and strawberry flavors, and paired perfectly with our fresh raspberries. In fact, we even dropped a few in our glasses.

Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Rosé and fresh raspberries
Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Rosé and fresh raspberries

As noted above, all of these wines are well under $20. They would be great additions to your holiday dinner tables and celebrations without breaking the bank, and should be readily available at local wine stores, shops, or grocery stores. All of these wines were graciously provided to me as media samples from Whole Foods and Domaine Ste. Michelle. Cheers and Merry Christmas!