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)!
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 (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 (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 (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.
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.
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, 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 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, $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 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, 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)
#VirtualVines with Old York Cellars
As you may recall, Old York Cellars invited me to participate in a similar virtual tasting a few months ago, which resulted in my first experience with New Jersey wines. When they asked me again to taste their port-style offerings, I couldn’t refuse, even though I don’t typically drink port-style or fortified wines because of my palate sensitivity to alcohol. The samples were provided by Old York Cellars. Below are my thoughts.
2012 Southpaw White (port-style Riesling)
Bronze Medal: US National Wine Competition
20.6% alcohol, 7.5% residual sugar, $24.00 (500ml bottle) at the winery
Can be cellared up to eight years.
The wine was gold in color due to longer, stainless-steel aging. The wine spent a year to a year and a half in the tank before bottling. Without food, aromas and flavors included baked apple and peach and honey. It had low acidity, a long finish, and noticeable alcohol. With vanilla bean ice cream, the dairy softened the presence of alcohol, while the sweetness of the ice cream enhanced citrus fruit flavors on the palate. The alcohol should integrate with more time in the bottle and as the wine opens up by exposure to air.
2011 Southpaw Red (ruby port-style Maréchal Foch, a hearty, hybrid grape)
20.57% alcohol, 5% residual sugar, $22.00 (500ml bottle) at the winery
Can be cellared up to nine years.
This wine was garnet in color and barrel aged. It was drier than the white, with a burst of candied cherry and plum flavors, a light oak quality, low acidity, and noticeable alcohol. My food pairing choice was blue cheese, a classic, contrasting palate pairing. The cheese enhanced the fruit forwardness of the wine. Again, the dairy softened the presence of higher alcohol. This wine will also soften with more bottle ageing and after being open for a while.
If you have a sensitive palate like me, you might prefer these wines with more bottle age and/or paired with food.
ZAP’s #ZinEx I was supposed to attend the Saturday tasting last year, but my big move to Napa got in the way. Lucky for me, ZAP and their public relations company, Elemental Meme, gave me a second chance to attend. I was a little wary, as I prefer small, intimate tastings, not large public tastings, but I said yes. I rented a car and headed to the Golden Gate Club on the most gorgeous day of 2015 to taste some Zinfandel. I am a lightweight, partially because of my aforementioned palate sensibilities, but I tasted around 25ish Zinfandels in four hours, which didn’t even scratch the surface. My key takeaways from the event were:
This was the most organized public tasting I’ve ever attended. Entry was allowed in increments, so not everyone was there at once. People flowed in and out, which helped greatly with crowd control.
The event provided ample water, spit cups, dump buckets, bread, and cheese. There’s really no reason that anyone should have left the event impaired, unless they didn’t take advantage of what was provided. Always remember: equal parts wine, water, cheese, spitting, and dumping.
There were barrel samples, current and upcoming releases, and some library offerings. The 1997 Ridge Jimsomare Ranch Zinfandel , Santa Cruz Mountains, was a show stopper. I was amazed at how this wine held up, still with great fruit and acidity.
Many Zinfandel producers add a small percentage of another grape variety or varieties, the most common being Petite Sirah, to give the wine a boost. The most different blend I tasted was 2012 Four Vines Maverick Zinfandel, Amador County, with 10% Barbera, a wild berry child with ample acidity and spice.
Zinfandels are produced in a variety of climates and AVAs, but the most unique came from Miro Cellars, two single-vineyard, Russian River Valley Zinfandels (upcoming releases). The cooler climate produces fruit with more acid, red berry flavors, and a peppery zing.
Ahem, Napa makes more than just Cabernet Sauvignon. Just ask D-Cubed and Hendry. Just sayin’.
#BWETaste This was not my first Boston Wine Expo tasting, but it was my first experience with Hope Family Wines based in Paso Robles, California. I was impressed with the variety and quality of the three samples provided to us by our sponsor: 2013 Liberty School Merlot, Troublemaker Blend 8, and 2012 Treana Red. The social media representative from Hope Family Wines was a riot and there was lots of fun camaraderie during the hour-long tasting. Below are my reviews, originally published on Vivino.
2013 Liberty School Merlot, $16.00 from the winery Throw out all of your biases and past experiences with Merlot. This baby is dark and dense, with blackberry, blackcurrant, and black cherry flavors, accompanied by a kiss of vanilla, a hint of spice and a touch of red berry acidity on the finish. Pair this with steak, burgers, or pork.
Troublemaker Blend 8, $20 from the winery Here comes Troublemaker Blend 8 (2011, 2012, and 2013), a Rhône-style blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre, plus Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. Floral, fruity, and spicy, with aromas and flavors of violets, black cherry, raspberry, cocoa, baking spices, and pepper. It finishes with nice acidity. Oh, and it’s sassy, just like me.
2012 Treana Red, $45 from the winery Treana is Hope Family Wines’ flagship brand. Treana Red is comprised of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, and is deep purple in color. It dazzles the palate with a velvety mouthfeel, dark, rich plum and blackberry flavors, and a peppery, spicy finish. It’s bold, yet refined. I’d pair this with hearty meat dishes and strong, pungent cheeses.
A big thank you to Old York Cellars, ZAP, Elemental Meme, Hope Family Wines, and Boston Wine Expo for the opportunity to taste lots of different wines and participate in these events. It’s been a wine-tastic week and a half.