Two Months, Twelve Tastes

It’s been nearly two months since I published a set of wine reviews on my blog. As regular readers know, I am transitioning my writing to focus more on experiences, although it can be said that tasting a fantastic wine in the perfect moment – with food and friends – is also an experience worth sharing. In light of this revelation, I have compiled a list of my favorite wines enjoyed these past couple of months, along with tasting notes. As always, your palate may vary. Enjoy!

2012 Schug Pinot Noir

2012 Schug Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($25, gift from a friend)
I have had this wine for a couple of years and decided to open and give it a try. This pinot noir is quite spicy, with cherry and cranberry fruit flavors and tangy acidity, showcasing beautiful fruit from vineyards in Carneros and Petaluma Gap.

2009 Materra Merlot

2009 Materra Merlot, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley ($40, purchased)
In my glass, the enduring 2009 Materra Merlot, crafted with estate fruit from the Oak Knoll District in the Napa Valley, source of some of Napa’s best merlot. It is still showing floral aromatics and delicious black and red fruits, dusty cocoa, and spice on the palate. The QPR of this wine is outstanding.

2010 Jean Edwards Cellars Seventy Four-Forty One Cabernet Sauvignon
2010 Jean Edwards Cellars Seventy Four-Forty One Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley ($68, birthday gift from Jean Edwards Cellars)

I enjoyed this cabernet sauvignon crafted by boutique producer, Jean Edwards Cellars Wines, paired with filet mignon Oscar at Cibo 7 in Roseville, California. Still very youthful, this wine will continue to shine for many years or after a long decant, with its rich, dark fruit and firm tannin.

2014 Penns Woods Grüner Veltliner

2014 Penns Woods Grüner Veltliner, Pennsylvania ($26, purchased)
Sporting an elegant new label design, this Pennsylvania grüner veltliner is a mouthwatering sipper produced in stainless steel, with aromas and flavors of tart apple, lemon, lime, lively acidity and a hint of warm pepper on the finish.

2014 Anthony Road Rosé of Cabernet Franc

2014 Anthony Road Rosé of Cabernet Franc, Finger Lakes ($20, tasted with friends)
I love when I taste a wine and its bright berry flavors, structure, and cool-climate acidity reveal such a strong sense of place that you cannot shake it. You sip and savor Finger Lakes Wine terroir and return to that very spot, Anthony Road Winery, and recall memories of years gone by.

2012 Freemark Abbey Merlot Bosché

2012 Freemark Abbey Merlot Bosché, Rutherford, Napa Valley ($60, gift from a friend)
This is no wimpy merlot. It’s dark, dense, and dusty, strutting its stuff with warm climate black fruit, bitter chocolate overtones, baking spices, Rutherford dust terroir, and a lingering finish. This merlot really wants to be its big brother, the Cabernet Sauvignon Bosché.

2013 Ehlers Estate Sauvignon Blanc

2013 Ehlers Estate Sauvignon Blanc, St. Helena, Napa Valley ($28, employee sample)
A few months ago while changing fulfillment centers, we discovered a few remaining cases of the 2013 Ehlers Estate Sauvignon Blanc. The cool thing about our wines is that they are made so well, they last longer than perhaps expected. This Sancerre-style sauvignon blanc is simply stunning two vintages later, with mouthwatering fruit, a textured palate, and lively acid. I need to hold back a bottle or two of 2015, it seems. Fantastic.

2015 Cellers Unió Clos Dalian Garnacha Blanca

2015 Cellers Unió Clos Dalian Garnacha Blanca, Terra Alta DO ($10, media sample)
This is a whole lot of wine for its $10 price point. Lush and weighty on the palate, yet also clean and crisp, it showcases a broad spectrum of white fruits, like pear, white peach, white nectarine, and lychee.

2015 Castillo de Monséran Garnacha

2015 Castillo de Monséran Garnacha, Cariñena DO ($10, media sample)
A vivid, red-magenta color in the glass, this value-priced wine is easy to drink, with bright cherry-berry flavors and soft tannins. Pair this with charcuterie, cheese, and autumn celebrations. A November 2016 Wine Enthusiast Best Buy.

2015 Keswick Vineyards Hommage à Geneviève Les Vents d'Anges Viognier

2015 Keswick Vineyards Hommage à Geneviève Les Vents d’Anges Viognier, Monticello, Virginia ($25, media sample)
One of the things I miss about Virginia: viognier. This one from Keswick Vineyards is made with my palate in mind: fermented and aged in stainless steel for six months, delectable fruit, nice mouthfeel, and lovely acidity. Oh, yes.

2014 Keswick Vineyards Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve

2014 Keswick Vineyards Cabernet Franc Estate Reserve, Monticello, Virginia ($65, media sample)
Definitely Virginia Cabernet Franc! The 2016 Virginia Governor’s Cup Winner, this wine demonstrates a beautiful balance of black fruit and peppery spice on the nose and palate, plus it is oh so smoky and silky. Yum.

2010 Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvée Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley

2010 Domaine Serene Yamhill Cuvée Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley ($45, gift from a friend)
It has been a while since I had an Oregon pinot noir, so I decided to open this to reacquaint myself. Not at all shy or subtle, this is one sultry and spicy pinot noir, intensely flavored with tart fruits like cranberry and plum, and a peppery finish.

Summertime Red: 2014 Madrigal Family Winery Garnacha

2014 Madrigal Family Winery Estate Garnacha, Calistoga, Napa Valley
2014 Madrigal Family Winery Estate Garnacha, Calistoga, Napa Valley

This past year, I have been exploring grenache/garnacha from various regions and at different price points and and happily discovered the 2014 Madrigal Family Winery Estate Garnacha, Calistoga, Napa Valley ($50).

*CLICK HERE TO READ*

A Trio of January Wines

2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles
2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles

It seems like yesterday that it was 2015 and now it is mid-January already. Where have these few weeks gone? Only two weeks until February (and my birthday, yay)!

NV Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux
NV Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux (source: snooth.com)

Earlier this month, I published a review of four wines from Trump Winery, a review of Domaine Carneros for American Winery Guide, and a review of the NV Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux for Snooth, so I am still actively writing. I hope that you will read these reviews if you have not already! However, the beginning-of-the year craziness and workplace intensity have not allowed me to focus as much on other wine samples I received late last year and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. That being said, here are three that I have tasted and recommend for your enjoyment.

2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles
2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles

2013 Hope Family Wines Treana Red, Paso Robles (sample, $45 SRP)
The Treana Red is comprised of 75% cabernet sauvignon and 25% syrah aged 15 months in 65% new and 35% once-used French oak. It is young and voluptuous, with an apparent clinginess and deep purple color in the glass that is unrivaled. On the palate, the mouthfeel is sumptuous and the tannins firm, with aromas and flavors of blackberries, blackcurrant, vanilla, and spices. I sipped this wine over the course of three days with and without food and it was still quite powerful on day three. My favorite food pairing with the Treana was a hearty steak. Decant this and drink now or hold this one for 10-20 years. 15% ABV, 7000 cases produced.

2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT
2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT

2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT (sample, $11 SRP)
This wine finishes the trifecta of Banfi Wines that I received as samples and it might very well be I saved the best for last. The 2013 Centine Rosé (or Rosato, as I suggested it be called), produced in stainless steel,  is simply lovely for a wine that comes in at around $11. It’s a blend of sangiovese, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, so it’s more of a medium-bodied rose, with nice aromatics and flavors of strawberries and wild raspberries. The finish is longer than I would expect from a wine at this price point and the acid shines. I paired this pretty, salmon-pink wine with tail-off, pink shrimp prepared with butter and a touch of this rosé. For those inquiring minds, yes, I cooked. Enjoy this rosé, er, rosato, with a variety of foods.  ABV 12.5%.

2011 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Roble, Castilla y León
2011 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Roble, Castilla y León

2011 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Roble, Castilla y León (sample, $18 SRP)
This is the third sample of garnacha sent to me by Magnum Wines International, LLC and New Spain Wines. Similarly to the other samples, the grapes for the 7 Navas Roble come from the Alto Alberche Valley in Castilla y León, where the vines are 60-70 years old, resulting in lower yields, but very intense, high-quality berries. Unlike the previous two, the 2012 Bodega Don Juan del Águila Gaznata Joven and 2013 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Garnacha Joven, this wine sees four months of aging in twice-used French oak barrels and was not bottled until March 2014. It still retains the characteristics of old-vine, high-altitude garnacha, such as floral aromatics, bright cherry fruit, and spice. However, it has more noticeable tannin structure and body from the oak aging. This is a great value at under $20. 14.5% ABV, 3200 bottles (266.67 cases) produced.

2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT
2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosé, Toscana IGT

At this moment in time, I have one more post planned for January. In the works are more reviews for American Winery Guide and Snooth in the coming months. I hope that I can count on you for your continued support and readership.

Cheers!
Beth

Beth’s Smart Sips 20 December 2015

The past two weeks have honestly been terrible. I have had some sort of crud that started out as a sinus infection and ended up being bronchitis. After two rounds of antibiotics, I was finally prescribed an inhaler, which has been a breakthrough for me, but I am still in the recovery process. I have not felt like writing since the beginning of the month, which is why many of my recent posts have been to redirect you to my winery reviews at American Winery Guide that were written in September and October. I hope that you will read those, as I am excited to share with you some of the best winery visits available in the United States. I will also continue to post these reviews via my blog so that you do not miss them.

Finally I feel well enough to share some wines from the last few weeks. I am designating these wines as Beth’s Smart Sips because they range in price from $12 to $24 and are great QPR (quality-to-price ratio) wines to see you through the holidays and beyond, especially if you have a tight budget like me. Enjoy!

2012 Le Petit Coquerel Sauvignon Blanc
2012 Le Petit Coquerel Sauvignon Blanc

2012 Le Petit Coquerel Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, $22
The fruit for Le Petit Coquerel Sauvignon Blanc comes from the estate vineyard in Calistoga and an organic vineyard in Yountville. The grapes are fermented and aged in stainless steel, sur lie, for seven months. This is definitely a warm-climate sauvignon blanc, with dominant flavors of sweet tropical fruits like melon and papaya. The sur lie aging adds richness and weight to the palate.
(sample provided by Big Bang Wine and Coquerel Wines)

2013 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Garnacha
2013 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Garnacha

2013 Bodega Garnacha Alto Alberche 7 Navas Garnacha Joven, Castilla y León, $15
A holiday wine need not break the bank. A good, inexpensive pinot noir is hard to find, so why not go garnacha/grenache? The 7 Navas Joven from the Alto Aberche Valley in Spain is $15 and packs a lot of punch with its combination of cranberry and raspberry fruitiness, herbs, cinnamon, and spice. It is everything nice. I paired this with leftover Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing. Never underestimate garnacha.
(sample provided by importer Magnum Wines International and New Spain Wines)

Hope Family Wines Troublemaker 9
Hope Family Wines Troublemaker 9

Hope Family Wines Troublemaker 9, $20
This is my second time tasting an edition of this wine, Austin Hope’s tribute to his mischievous youth. Troublemaker is fun and delicious, amping up the wow factor as a proprietary red blend of 71% syrah, 16% grenache, 8% zinfandel, 3% petite sirah, and 2% mourvèdre. It is a lot of bang for the buck with its rich color, floral nose, bold red and black fruits on the palate, and peppery spice on the finish. Look out, here comes trouble.
(sample provided by Hope Family Wines as part of a pre-Boston Wine Expo Twitter tasting on December 9, 2015)

2014 Passaggio New Generation Passion Blend
2014 Passaggio New Generation Passion Blend

2014 Passaggio Wines New Generation Passion Blend, California, $24
One of the most distinctive blends I have discovered, the Passaggio Wines 2014 Passion Blend is 40% chardonnay, 40% pinot grigio, and 20% roussanne, fermented and aged in stainless steel. While the roussanne is the smallest percentage of the blend, it dominates the nose and palate with its pronounced floral aromatics, textured mouthfeel, and tropical fruit flavors. This wine is lush, plush, and fruit forward.
(sample provided by Passaggio Wines tasting room in Sonoma)

2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosso
2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosso

2013 Banfi Wines Centine Rosso, Toscana IGT, $12 (average)
At this price point, you can’t go wrong with the Centine Rosso which brings together the tangy, spicy, red berry flavors of sangiovese, the black fruits and tannins of cabernet sauvignon, and the softer roundness of merlot. Drink this with spicy, meat dishes, including pasta and pizza with pepperoni, sausage, and salumi.
(sample provided by Banfi Wines)

Happy Holidays!
Beth

Beth’s Smart Sip: 2012 Bodega Don Juan del Águila Gaznata Joven

The Gredos region of Spain (photo courtesy of New Spain Wines)
The Gredos region of Spain (photo courtesy of New Spain Wines)

In 2013, part of my transition from higher education to the wine business included a stint as the executive assistant for Preston-Layne & Partners (wine sales) and Magnum Wines International (wine importer). It was during this time that I first had the opportunity to taste a vintage of Bodega Don Juan del Águila Gaznata Joven, Castilla y León, Spain. This wine is available now in the United States, thanks to a collaborative effort between New Spain Wines and Magnum Wines International. This was a sample provided by Magnum Wines International.

Old-vine, high-elevation Garnacha, the source of grapes for the Bodega Don Juan del Águila Gaznata Joven (photo courtesy of New Spain Wines)
Old-vine, high-elevation garnacha, the source of grapes for the Bodega Don Juan del Águila Gaznata Joven (photo courtesy of New Spain Wines)

The grapes for this 100% garnacha come from high-altitude, 60+-year-old vines located in the Sierra de Gredos-Alberche Valley area in central Spain, near the village of El Barraco. This unoaked wine is produced by ambient (spontaneous) yeast fermentation in concrete tanks with minimal filtration and fining. The result is a garnacha that is fresh, youthful, fruit-forward, and easy to drink.

2012 Bodega Don Juan del Águila Gaznata Joven
2012 Bodega Don Juan del Águila Gaznata Joven

The color is quite dark, deep garnet, while on the nose and palate, it’s fruity, herbal, rustic, and spicy. Aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, and blackcurrant intertwine with loamy earth and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and rosemary. I tasted the 2012 Gaznata Joven alone, then the 2013 vintage at a blind grenache/garnacha tasting. I was pleased that I was able to recognize this wine from the 17 tasted.

Additional Specifications
Soil type: Granitic sand
Pruning system: En vaso (goblet)
Altitude: 750 to 1,100 meters
Harvest method: Hand picked
Aging: 3 months in bottle

What is noteworthy about the Bodega Don Juan del Águila Gaznata Joven is that this level of wine production and palate-friendly complexity come with a suggested retail price of only $12.00. And that, my friends, is why this wine is Beth’s Smart Sip for the week of September 28-October 4. To find this vintage or the 2013 vintage, please contact info@magnumwinesintl.com.

Happy sipping!
Beth