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

What’s in my Glass: Random Wine Samples

Lots of samples!
Lots of samples!

As a wine and travel writer, I am often asked to visit wineries and accept wine samples. I say yes to samples, but I try to specify exactly what I want. That does not always work, because wineries and public relations people want to get their wines out there for some media love. Therefore, I end up with more than I had planned. This could not be more true than this fall, where I literally can’t keep up with all of the samples I am receiving and trying not to feel guilty that I don’t have enough time to taste them immediately. (I don’t get paid to write this blog, I have one full-time job and two part-time jobs in real life.) Because of this, I thought it would be a good idea to share random wine samples with you incrementally, now and in future posts. I believe all of these I requested.

2014 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir
2014 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir

The first random wine sample is the 2014 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir. I visited this winery for a wine dinner as part of the Wine Tourism Conference in 2013. Oddly enough, I had just read about this wine in Wine Enthusiast, one of America’s Best Value Pinot Noirs. Sixty percent of this wine is fermented by carbonic maceration. If I had blind tasted this wine, I think I would have thought it resembled a Beaujolais (made from the gamay grape). It is very light bodied and light in color, easy drinking, fruit forward, and shows soft acid and tannin. If you are new to red wines, this might be a good entry point. SRP $22.

2013 Cave de Turckheim Gewürztraminer
2013 Cave de Turckheim Gewürztraminer

I’ve said it time and time again: Gewürztraminer and Kung Pao Chicken is one of the best wine and food pairings ever. The 2013 Cave de Turckheim Gewürztraminer ($28 SRP) possesses heady, floral and citrus aromas; a soft, textured mouthfeel; rich, ripe tropical and stone fruit flavors and a near-perfect integration of sweetness and acidity. Combined with the warm, spicy brown Kung Pao sauce, it’s euphoric on the palate. This wine is imported to the United States by Magnum Wines International, for whom I used to work in 2013 prior to moving to Napa.

2014 Banfi Centine Bianco
2014 Banfi Centine Bianco

The 2014 Banfi Wines Centine Bianco is a white blend of 30% chardonnay, 30% pinot grigio, and 40% sauvignon blanc. It really shows off the trifecta of grapes with its freshness and aromatics, as well as its dual treatment in both stainless steel and French oak. It has a fuller body than I expected, perhaps due the partial oak treatment, the time spent on lees, and/or the percentage of each grape variety used. Tree and stone fruits dominate the nose and palate, with a touch of smokiness from the oak, and a hint of residual sugar (3.4g/l), which is balanced by moderate acidity. The sauvignon blanc component really shines on the back of the palate, with flavors of lime and lemon. This is a lot of wine for only $11-$13/bottle. I paired this with shrimp.

More samples!
More samples!

If these weren’t enough to whet your palate, I have two or three more cases in my closet to taste during the upcoming months, so stay tuned. As always, if you are in the Napa/Sonoma area and you want to taste, let’s get together with samples.

Cheers!
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