Just in time for your 4th of July cookouts, I decided to taste the 2014 Antigual Uno Cabernet Sauvignon (SRP $18.00, sample for review). For those of you who have followed this website for at least a year will recall that I reviewed the 2013 Antigal Uno Malbec, whose tasting experience transported me to my 2013 trip to Mendoza, Argentina.
Another wine of both great value and quality, this cabernet sauvignon showcases higher-elevation, 100% cabernet sauvignon from Antigal’s Uco Valley, Mendoza vineyards. Hand harvested and crafted, this wine sees similar oak aging as last vintage’s malbec, 12 months in a mix of American (40%) and French (60%) oak. While quite young, I found this wine to be very drinkable now if opened a short time in advance of serving it. As someone used to full-bodied Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, I found the medium-body, higher-acid style of this wine to be a refreshing change. Blackberry, black cherry, and plum intermingle with spicy oak and bitter, black coffee flavors to create a layered flavor palette. Absolutely pair this with beef of all kinds: burgers, carne asada, ribeye, filet mignon, tri-tip, T-bone. Happy 4th of July!
I’ve been on a bit of a writing ‘vacation’ since the fourth of July weekend, trying to sort out what I can continue to do in my increasingly limited spare time. I’ve enrolled in a wine marketing course this fall and I am being considered for a print writing opportunity, so I am at a point in my career where I need to make some decisions regarding my writing. I began an editorial calendar to figure out what I can do when so that I am able to enjoy free time as well. However, these past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to taste some interesting wines and an olive oil that I wanted to share with you. Therefore, voilà, an unexpected break from my self-imposed hiatus. These wines and olive oil are worth tasting. From my palate to yours, enjoy!
2013 Antigal Winery & Estates Uno Malbec, Mendoza, $18 (media sample)
What I most love about wine is that one sip can evoke time, place, people, and emotions. The 2015 Antigal Winery & Estates UNO Malbec takes me back three years to Mendoza, Argentina, the trip of a lifetime with a wonderful group of travel and writing professionals like me. Fermented and aged 12 months in French and American oak and sourced from higher-elevation, estate vineyards in Uco Valley, Tupungato, this malbec is not at all shy, with aromas of violets, cedar, blackberries, and spice. This dark ruby red, medium-bodied delight – with its interplay of vanilla, pepper, and dark fruits – is calling for grilled meat, roasted vegetables, and hearty potatoes. In this moment, my mind recalls an Argentine asado, whose intoxicating flavors of wine and food awaken memories of horseback riding in the Andes and late-night laughter in the streets of downtown Mendoza.
2014 Pike Road Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, $19 (media sample)
This wine from Pike Road, the sister winery of Elk Cove, defies its $19 price tag by offering a fantastic example of Oregon pinot noir. Sourced from both estate and partner vineyards in the Williamette Valley, the grapes are hand harvested and sorted, then the juice is fermented in open stainless steel tanks and barrel aged 10 months in French oak. The resulting wine is brambly, dusty, earthy, and herbal. The night I tasted it, I took the winery’s advice on the label and paired it with salmon for a lovely dinner at home.
2013 DaVero Estate Sangiovese, Hawk Mountain Vineyard, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, $75
One of my favorite wines of a recent visit to DaVero, the estate sangiovese is biodynamically farmed at their three-acre Hawk Mountain Vineyard, wild yeast fermented, then aged in all neutral oak. This wine possesses contrasting floral and leathery aromatics. On the palate, black cherry, blackcurrant, and acid abound. The same sangiovese is used in their 2013 Estate Altobasso blend of sangiovese (60%) and barbera (40%), which was the first DaVero wine to captive my palate and my heart a year ago during a Twitter tasting of Dry Creek Valley wines.
2015 DaVero Vermentino, Schatz Family Vineyard, Cosumnes River AVA, San Joaquin County, $30
This vermentino is produced in Sonoma County by DaVero, but sourced from the Schatz Family Vineyard in the Cosumnes River AVA of San Joaquin County, which is in the northwestern part of Lodi. DaVero takes a biodynamic, non-interventionist approach to winemaking to handcraft this wine, including foot stomping the grapes, two days of skin contact for added complexity, and native yeast fermentation. This wine is everything you want in a summer white: lemony, crisp, mouthwatering, and delectable.
2015 Fields Family Vermentino, Delu Vineyard, Lodi Appellation, $19
Now in perpetual pursuit of an alternative to sauvignon blanc, and smitten with vermentino thanks to DaVero above, I enjoyed this small lot, Fields Family offering prior to the start of the Wine Bloggers Conference, sitting by the pool at Bare Ranch talking to winemaker Ryan Sherman. I’ve always preferred to taste with the winemaker because usually I connect better with the wine through the person making it. After whole-cluster pressing, the wine is fermented in stainless steel, dry racked semi dirty, then spends about seven months aging sur lie in five- or six-year-old neutral barrels. Sherman’s love of vermentino, with Ryme’s “Hers” version as his inspiration, really shines. Bright, floral, textured, and tart – as well as exceptionally delicious – the Fields Family vermentino was the perfect accompaniment to that summer night in Lodi.
2015 Mainelli Family Reserve 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil, California, $25 (sample)
I don’t typically review olive oil, although I have, nor do I always eat parmesan herb ciabatta, but when I do, I dip it in Mainelli Olive Oil Family Reserve 100% Extra Virgin California Olive Oil. Each year, Tom Mainelli and his team carefully taste, select, and bottle some of Northern California’s best olive oils. This oil is one you want to taste, with its exquisite flavors, purity, and warm bite, indicative of great quality. Drizzle on almost everything. Delightful. Yes, please.
It was in the late 1800s that Italian immigrants planted European grape varieties in the Vistalba Valley of Luján de Cuyo, a district in Mendoza, Argentina. Various families, including Spanish immigrant Don Nicanor Nieto, managed those vineyards and produced wines through the years. In 1969, the Nieto and Senetiner families purchased the winery and grew the brand and production into the three estates (400 hectares) that comprise Nieto Senetiner today. The estates include Finca Villa Blanca in Vistalba, Finca Agrelo in Las Tortugas, and Finca Alto Agrelo in Las Torcazas. The winemaking team includes Roberto Gonzalez, Santiago Mayorga, and consulting winemaker, Paul Hobbs. Nieto Senetiner was the first Argentine winery to receive ISO 9002 certification in 2002.
Over the course of the past couple of months, I have had the opportunity to taste a few of Nieto Senetiner’s wines, thanks to samples facilitated by Big Bang Wines and provided by importer Foley Family Wines. The wines, with the suggested retail prices of $10-$15 per bottle, have proven themselves to be solid, quality-to-price ratio wines. Below are my impressions. As always, your palate may vary.
2013 Nieto Senetiner Cabernet Sauvignon, Luján de Cuyo, SRP $13.00
At a price point of only $13.00 SRP, this cabernet sauvignon will still stand up to a steak or other hearty meat dishes and rich sauces. The wine, whose grapes sourced from the Agrelo Vineyard (elevation 3,181 feet), only sees six months in American and French oak, so it shows a softer side of cabernet, with aromas and flavors of blackcurrant, plum, pepper, and vanilla, with noticeable, but not overpowering, tannins, and an ample mouthfeel.
2013 Camila Nieto Senetiner Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, SRP $10.00
I thought the aforementioned Nieto Senetiner cabernet sauvignon I tasted previously was the softer side of cabernet, but this is even softer. If I had blind tasting this wine, I might have thought it was merlot. Red berry aromas and flavors dominate, especially cranberry. The color of the wine matches the palate, deep ruby. I would call this the feminine counterpart to the other cabernet sauvignon, gentle and delicate. It’s also less complex, but the tannins are chalky and noticeable. My only regret is that the finish isn’t longer, but for $10.00, this is a no-brainer buy.
2014 Nieto Senetiner Pinot Noir, Argentina, SRP $13.00
You will be hard pressed to find a $13.00 pinot noir with a good quality-to-value ratio from any producer. Therefore, I was pleasantly surprised with this wallet-friendly offering, whose grapes come from the higher-altitude Neuquén Vineyard in the Tupungato area of Mendoza. The wine is aged six months in French oak. It is medium garnet and clear, with a medium-weight mouthfeel, soft tannins, and good acidity. Floral and fruity aromas lead to smoky vanilla, bitter cranberry, and cherry on the palate. Enjoy this with poultry, pork, and mushroom holiday dishes.
2013 Nieto Senetiner Bonarda, Luján de Cuyo, Argentina, SRP $13.00
The origin of bonarda has been debated, but it’s generally accepted that it is French in origin (also known as douce noir, corbeau, or charbono), not Italian, and has become Argentina’s second most planted grape behind malbec. In October 2013, I had the opportunity to visit Mendoza and the Luján de Cuyo appellation. I tasted a few bonardas, but have not had any since that trip. The 2013 Nieto Senetiner Bonarda, also sourced from the Agrelo Vineyard in Luján de Cuyo, is my way of returning by way of a sip. This wine is dark and dense, coating the nose and palate with intense aromas flavors of blackberry, blackcurrant, and plum, with a delightfully spicy finish. It was a delightful pairing with steak.
2014 Nieto Senetiner Torrontés, Valle de Cafayate, (Salta, Argentina), SRP $15.00
This wine also immediately took me back to my trip to Argentina two years ago. Torrontés, the genetic hybrid of muscat of Alexandria and criolla, is one of my favorite wines. I love it, with its clear, sunshine-yellow color; crisp, clean mouthfeel; and the interplay of freshly cut roses and tart citrus on the nose and palate. Fermented and aged in stainless steel, this wine’s freshness and acidity will brighten up most meals. This torrontés offers best bang for the buck of all of these wines.
If you have read my piece to this point, you may notice that there is not a review of malbec. When most people think of Argentina, the grape variety that comes to mind is malbec, which over time, grew to be Argentina’s flagship wine. However, more than a century later, Nieto Senetiner and other Argentine producers have demonstrated that they can make more than malbec, including other varieties that were first brought to Argentina by immigrants over a century ago.
This piece is my entry for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #20, #MWWC20, as explained at this link. Voting for entries will take place through Monday, November 2.
If you wish to be expressed, if you wish to live in your purpose, if you wish to Love and be Loved to the fullest – then become friends with uncertainty. See your life as an experiment in uncertainty. See your life as a giant dare to The Divine – you weren’t made to fall. You weren’t made to fail. You were made to learn. To Love and to pick yourself back up. Erase failure from your vocabulary. It was a lesson. Erase self-doubt from your mind. You have no idea how amazing and powerful you are when you are connected to your Source. Step into uncertainty today and a little bit every day. This is how an epic life is lived. ~ Mastin Kipp
The past year and a half has been one of great loss and change. With moving forward comes an increased awareness of who you are and who you want to become.
I give beyond means and love endlessly. I share more of myself with others than I receive in return. I am also very cautious and controlled. I thrive on excellence to the extent that I am an overachiever and a perfectionist. However, in my recent personal journey, I have been letting go more: throwing caution to the wind, being more spontaneous, and learning that perfectionism is a hindrance to success, not a help.
Therefore, when I had the opportunity for a horseback riding adventure at La Quebrada del Cóndor in the Potrerillos area of the Andes, Villa Tupungato, on my recent trip to Mendoza, Argentina with Uncorking Argentina, I had mixed emotions. The former me and the new me were battling for control. Should I say no or should I let go? Then I thought, “When will I ever have this opportunity again? DO IT!” My heart won over my head, but it was not without doubt and hesitation.
You see, I’ve only ridden horses twice in my life: once when I was a fearless kid and once when I was an adult. The adult experience was traumatic because out of the blue, the horse backed me into some thorny bushes and tried to throw me off its back. The guide didn’t help, so my boyfriend struggled to get me off the horse in time. That was 16 years ago.
As we drove to the ranch, I became more and more nervous and uncomfortable. In this moment, I thought about my favorite website, The Daily Love, and how readers are taught that success comes when you are most uncomfortable. I forged ahead with my decision. “Uncomfortable is good,” I repeated to myself. I was almost numb as one of the guides put chaps on my legs. The time came for me to get on my horse, Chocolate (pronounced choh-koh-lah-teh in Spanish), and again, I needed the assistance of Eduardo, one of the guides. Finally we were off on a three-hour journey through the Cordón del Plata. The ride was unparalleled and will remain one of the top five experiences of my life, a combination of exhilaration, fear, trust, adrenaline, natural beauty, and the human and animal connection.
At one point, we decided to head up to one of the highest peaks. The horses balked as it was the path least taken, just like we humans often do when confronted with change. The route was treacherous because of snow melt and mud. The horses stopped dead in their tracks with a few colliding into each other. A few of us were stuck on the side of the slippery slope. I closed my eyes and conceded my fate to faith and trust. At this moment, Eduardo appeared and led each of us and our horses to safer ground. Like life at its lowest point, there’s nowhere to go but up if you just let go, breathe, trust, and allow faith lead you back to light and joy.
We continued our journey without further incident. We made it to an elevation of about 3000 meters (approximately 10,000 feet) and we all felt like we were on top of the world, both literally and figuratively. The ride back to the ranch was downhill and easy in every sense of the word. I felt blissful and calm as I let go even more and gave my complete trust to Chocolate, Juan Martín, and Eduardo.
Upon our return, we had a grand celebration with a scrumptious asado (Argentine barbecue) prepared by Cato, one of the owners, and his team. I had no idea that my emotional, mental, and physical journey would make me so hungry and thirsty for food, drink, adventure, and life.
As I was preparing for for my trip to Mendoza, I thought it would be a great idea to learn a little about the history of Malbec, as well as taste an Argentine wine. I decided to open my Hand of God Wines 2010 Fingerprint Series Red (55% Malbec, 35% Syrah, 10% Petit Verdot), Sobremesa Vineyard, Uco Valley, Mendoza. It’s $45.00 online, but this was sample graciously provided by the winery. I paired this wine with a cheddar bacon burger and the documentary Boom Varietal: The Rise of Argentine Malbec, given to me by a friend.
Both the film and the wine were quite interesting. The film documents the history of Malbec in Argentina, from the 1800s through today, by way of five or six wine producers. Some of the producers have long histories of winemaking that date back generations, while others are people who came to Argentina to produce wine or invested in Argentine wine to get into the business, as it was a more inexpensive option than other countries. I also learned a bit about the history and turmoil of the Argentine government, which has played a pivotal role in Malbec’s development as Argentina’s most exported wine.
The 2010 Hand of God Wines 2010 Fingerprint Series Red was the perfect accompaniment, although the burger wasn’t bad, either. This wine is labrynth of layered aromas and flavors, such as dark berries and fruits, chocolate, and peppery spices. I also detected meaty, earthy, salty qualities to the wine, which I suspect is a reflexion of the vineyard in which the grapes are grown. It also had a full, lush mouthfeel and a very long finish.
Varietal: Malbec-Syrah-Petit Verdot
Appellation: Uco Valley
Vineyard Designation: Sobremesa Vineyard
Aging: 20 months in 50% new French oak, 50% 2nd year seasoned oak
It’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year ago when my then world began to crash and burn, having both lost a career and a long-term relationship out of the blue. I vowed to use travel as my solace towards leading a purposeful life and to fight my sorrow and loss with new experiences.
I began my literal and figurative journey, which has not been without bumps in the road, but overall has been more than imagined in many ways. I have discovered support from sources I didn’t know I had and unexpected doors of opportunity have been opened. I am truly thankful for those who have offered me comfort, employment, friendship during the most challenging period of my life.
In late August, I was sitting in a chair getting a pedicure when an e-mail came through from Uncorking Argentina inviting me to travel to Mendoza, Argentina as part of a FAM journalists’ and travel professionals’ tour because of my writing for Plum Deluxe. It was surreal. I never imagined in my wildest dreams I would ever visit Argentina or anywhere in South America. Even though I had to provide my own airfare, I knew inside that I had to seize the opportunity. I applied and was accepted.
Next week I begin this amazing trip. Since so many of you have supported me in so many ways, I wanted to share the itinerary with you. I hope you will stay tuned, as I will be bringing you along with me in my heart and soul.
On Tuesday, October 8th,
Our driver is going to be waiting for you at the airport.
Carolyn and Molly are going to meet you at Cordillera, Vinos y Fuegos Resto for the tasting class at 5:30 pm.
(Address: Belgrano 1028, Mendoza City)-
After the tasting class you are going to enjoy a great cooking class at the same place. (My first cooking class!)
On Wednesday, October 9th,
Our driver and Molly are going to pick you up from the NH Hotel at 9 am. Start your wine tour in Lujan de Cuyo area.
First visit and taste at Domaine St Diego Winery, continue to Renacer Winery for more wines, finally enjoy a great wine pairing lunch at Casarena Winery.
Back to the hotel in the afternoon.
On Thursday, October 10th,
Our mountain guide and Molly are going to pick you up from the NH Hotel at 8:30 am. They are going to take you to Potrerillos area.
There you are going to have the option to have a great trekking or horseback riding experience.
2009 Buttonwood Cabernet Franc, Santa Ynez Valley, California, $26.00 (buttonwoodwinery.com)
I find it challenging in Southwest Virginia to find Cabernet Franc, so when I saw this opportunity from a new AVA (for me), I seized it. I purchased this wine as part of Wine Berserkers‘ annual Berserker Day and I was not disappointed. This wine is lovely, with gorgeous aromas of blueberries and violets and flavors of blueberry and mocha. I am so glad this was a two-pack purchase and I still have another bottle.
2010 Château d’Aquéria Tavel, around $10.00 (frankswine.com)
What a find and what a steal of a deal! According to a Wall Street Journal article, The Château d’Aqueria has been making Tavel rosé for more than 400 years in the southeast part of the appellation. This is a robust, primarily Grenache-based rosé (52% Grenache, 12% Syrah, 11% Mourvedre, 9% Cinsault, 9% Clairette, 6% Bourboulenc, 2% Picpoul) that sees no oak. It has lots of juicy strawberry and raspberry with a touch of orange peel on the finish. This was a birthday special at around $10 from Frank’s Wine in Wilmington, Delaware. Thank you, Frank!
2012 Crios de Susana Balboa Torrontés, Argentina, around $15.00 (wine.com)
I tasted this wine as part of a Whole Foods Market Twitter tasting on March 14, 2013. This was one of my favorites from the tasting. It was my first ever Torrontés. What I found intriguing about this wine was its floral aromas and playful duality of sweetness and acidity, although it’s a dry wine. I tasted a multitude of fruit flavors: honeydew, lime, orange, peach, pear, tangerine, and tropical fruits. This is the quintessential warm weather wine.
2012 Argento Bonarda, Mendoza, Argentina, around $10.00 (wine-searcher.com)
This was my second ever Bonarda and in my mind, the best to date. Bonarda is Argentina’s second most planted grape (second to Malbec). There is some debate surrounding the origin of the grape, but it’s believed that it’s the same grape known as Charbono in California. At any rate, this was also one of my favorites from the Whole Foods Twitter tasting, very smooth and balanced with earthy aromas and rich flavors of raspberry, plum, and a touch of oak.