Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Sun, 13 Jul 2014 18:55:31 -0400 Sun, 13 Jul 2014 18:55:31 -0400 Snooth Cariñena Is Ready for You Gregory Dal Piaz <p>So what&rsquo;s the first thing you think of when you read <strong>Cari&ntilde;ena</strong>? I thought of the grape <strong>Cari&ntilde;ena</strong>, aka Carignane, eponymous as it is. what I did not think of was the region <strong>Cari&ntilde;ena</strong> in Spain&rsquo;s province of Aragon. Why is that? It&rsquo;s a good question, and on I resolved while visiting the region briefly early last month.&nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cari&ntilde;ena</strong> the region doesn&rsquo;t jump to mind because they have not been terribly present in the US market. I bet the same applies to you.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Fair enough, but that is about to change, and for some pretty compelling reasons.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> As many of you might know I am not a huge fan of Grenache. I understand the wine&rsquo;s appeal, and think it is going to be huge once casual pinot drinkers start tasting the right examples. It&rsquo;s kind of big but not tannic, easy drinking and soft with typically candied strawberry flavors. All reasons why I don&rsquo;t enjoy the wines. But then there is this. Garnacha from <strong>Cari&ntilde;ena</strong>. It&rsquo;s darkly fruited, of modest alcohol, if 13.5% can be considered modest, and of course with grenache that is modest. It&rsquo;s all complex, minerally, resplendently showing off its terroir, and surprising structured. In short it can make even the most die hard critic of Grenache stand up and take notice!<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So what is it about <strong>Cari&ntilde;ena</strong> that produces wines like these? Terroir first and foremost. The region sits on a high plateau, so even though the vineyards appear to be fairly flat and there are few true hillside vineyards we are talking of elevations of roughly between 1300 and 2740 feet. That&rsquo;s pretty high, and it allows for relative cool nights even in the face of some hot and dry days.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And then there is the soil, or what little there is of it. The morphology of the region is fascinating. &nbsp;The bulk of the vineyard lay on gently undulating slopes that roughly form the center of a wide valley. here one finds glacial moraine and alluvial soil layered over clay. As one moves away from the flats there are increasingly diverse stretches of soil that include significant patch of colluvial rock, some regions of heavier clays and loams, and soils with significant quantities of iron and some sulphur as well. All this means that there is great variety, along with some fantastic drainage, in the region which, when paired with the varying altitude offers producers here a pretty diverse range of styles to play with.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I was fortunate to be able to taste through a line-up of wines produced and the differing altitudes and the results were remarkable. As you climb in height the fruit in these wines progressively got darker, and richer with high acid and finer if harder tannins. Much of this is most likely due to the availability of water, which at about 17 inches per year in rainfall, can be an issue. Much of the vineyard here are in fact irrigated, with the usual protestations of how minimally that system is used but a significant portion of the vineyards here are old vine and bush trained.</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> It is a windy spot, the vineyards of <strong>Cari&ntilde;ena</strong>, and bush trained vines not only allow for easier passage of wind through the vineyards, but they also allow for farmers to be able to plow both on the north/south and east/west axis. In a land with such limited water, and not enough soil to grow actual cover crops, plowing under what little weed growth there is has historically been the norm. No need to offer even more competition for such limited water resources. Of course, as with everywhere, as these bush trained vineyards expire they are being replaced with easier to farm trellised vineyards. We are losing a bit of a treasure when that happens but thousands of hectares to farm one can understand why the owners of such properties are making the switch.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fortunately much of the new plantings rely on the local genetic material, and there can be no doubt that this Grenache, small berried, well adapted to shutting down each day from the heat instead of going into full hydric stress, and producing relatively small clusters of small berries is the final piece of the puzzle here. Bring all the component together and you have these surprisingly fabulous examples of grenache that show great fruit and character. Of course there is that true final piece of the puzzle, the producers, but with fairly little experience with these wines, and the current state of flux the region is facing, it&rsquo;s probably best to add just a few words about the producers and rely on the terroir to help frame the discussion of these wines.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> My visit to <strong>Cari&ntilde;ena</strong> was based around visiting but three producers, though the largest three producers who account for roughly 50 million bottles of potential production each year. that some big number. As is the case the world over with producers of this size, things have been increasingly difficult over the past few decades as domestic consumption dropped and the need for powerful blending wines has virtually disappeared. you see that was the market for Carignena in the past. Lots of inexpensive wines, some of which is still produced, and lots of big, powerful, sunbaked wines that were used to add power and depth to other bulk wines. There was of course always some small premium wine production, but it was not the heart of the local industry.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> With so much wine to sell these three producers needed to turn to new markets, and for the moment one of these is the states. in an effort to expand their foothold here the producers have been playing around with a variety of wine style, though all seem to rely on base wines that are decidedly fresher and lighter than what was typically produced in the past. You&rsquo;ll still be able to find so-called supermarket wines coming from the region, and some of their simple unoaked examples are joyously fresh and delicious and worthy of everyone&rsquo;s attention. the you are likely to encounter the typical progression of wines where a bit of oak and a bit more power differentiates one line from the next. Not to knock these wines. the market has shown that this is what many folks are looking for, just for my money i&rsquo;d be on the lookout for some of the less oaked examples that really capture what is unique about the wines from<strong> Cari&ntilde;ena</strong>.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I have been speaking about Grenache through all of this and realise that a few words should be spent on Carignane, which got its name, if not its start here, and other varieties typical to Spain. While garnacha dominate the landscape with about 55% of land under vine, Carignane is an important player here as well, taking up about 15% of vineyards. As I&rsquo;ve been learning over the course of the past year while i devoted a notable amount of time to trying Carignane, its not an easy grape to love. There&rsquo;s a reason that it was historically a blending grape, but here in its namesake region it does produce some compelling examples. the bitter edge typical to the wine is accentuated by the minerality and freshness the wines exhibit. that freshness seems to be a calling card for the new wines of<strong> Cari&ntilde;ena</strong>, as evidenced by the absolutely terrific Agoston Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon from the Bodegas Paniza. Clocking in at all of $8, yes eight dollars, this little wines is zesty and bright with terrific juicy character to the fresh fruit.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> Among the wineries I tried while in <strong>Cari&ntilde;ena</strong>, Bodegas Paniza was a bit of a standout. unlike the other two cooperatives, and all three are coops of one sort or the other, only paniza is geographically focused. All the fruit for these wines comes from within the village of paniza, and to my palate this shows in the wines with notable purity and a lovely mineral freshness that no doubt comes from the vineyards here, 2,200 hectares, or about 5,400 acres at roughly 2250 feet above sea level. About 400 of the 700 or so families that live in Paniza belong to Bodegas paniza and for many, if not most the income they derive from farming these grapes is their only source of income.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> These high altitude vineyards are typically dry farmed and have plenty of blue slate in their soils, which consist mostly of red clays in the northern reaches of the appellation, gaining some chalk as you move further to the south. because of the altitude here the climate is cooler than in lower lying areas and the season quite a bit longer, with harvest often extending into the middle of November. &nbsp;Garnacha is the king here with 35% of the land under vine but tempranillo follows closely behind with 30% followed by Cabernet, Macabeo (Viura), Syrah, Chardonnay, Merlot and Carignane.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Also visited on my trip were the cellars of San Valero, the first to bottle wine commercial in <strong>Cari&ntilde;ena</strong> and one of the early leaders to sell wine under their own brands in the region. Drawing fruit from throughout the <strong>Cari&ntilde;ena</strong> DO, the wines here reflect a bit more of a diverse outlook than at paniza, with wines that run the gamut from deeply traditional a perhaps a bit rustic for some palates to full on modern interpretations of grenache replete with toasty oak and supple rich mouthfeel.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> And finally there was Grande Vinos y Vinedos, which produces several tiers of wines in all manner of size and style. The result of the merger of four local coops, Grande Vinos e Vinedos currently has about 500 members who farm vineyards throughout the D.O.. the coop is able to draw fruit from all four of the local soil types and from the complete range of altitudes typically farmed here. Their wines are a bit uneven in some ways, but they can&rsquo;t be faulted for trying to produce such a wide variety of wines that sometimes really hit it out of the park.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> So that&rsquo;s the short of it. I&rsquo;ll leave you with tasting notes for many of the wines I tried and the list below of the standouts. These are not simply the most expensive wines on offer. One of the strengths of <strong>Cari&ntilde;ena</strong> is the economy of scale they benefit from there are some fabulous values to be had here, and again the freshness and minerality inherent in the wines makes some of their simplest wines their most notable. If they get distribution some of their $8 wines are going to amaze consumer and absolutely crush much of the competition!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One finale note on the wines tasted for this article. As a region working to develop their presence in the US market not all of the wines available to taste in Spain are for sale on our shores. I&rsquo;ve included my notes here to give you a better idea as to the style and quality of the wines on offer. If you see something that sounds like you might like, why not ask you local retailer if they can find it for you, or perhaps they have a wine similar in style already available to them. This is one of the great disruptions the internet has created in the wine world. We are no longer sitting around waiting for our retailers to find wines for us. Now every consumer has the power to discover great wines and assist in getting them into their local market!</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 16px">Bodegas Paniza</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Agoston Blanco</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight, subtle, low mineral and yellow fruit, with a hint of vanilla and banana on the nose. Bright acids greet the palate followed by a modestly rich body with nice mineral flavors and a slightly dusty finish. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Bodegas Paniza Agoston Tempranillo - Cabernet Sauvignon $8</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Spicy and a bit floral on the nose with lovely blackberry and black currant aromas that have a subtly refreshing green herbal edge to them. A bit astringent in the mouth but refreshingly so with lovely fruit tannins that are a bit aggressive but are well balanced by the slightly chocolatey tinged dark yet fresh wild berry fruits on the mouth. A burst of blackberry with hints of blue fruit pops on the backend and leads to a fairly long if simple fruity finish. Playful and refreshing this is downright delicious and a perfect wine to serve with a slight chill this summer. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong><em>2013 Bodegas Paniza Viura</em></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Gassy with slightly green herb framed warm apricot fruit on the nose. &nbsp;Moderately rich on entry with &nbsp;good acid, supporting a little apricot and mostly green apple fruit with green plum on finish, good length, and a hint of rs covering the acid on the lemony finale. Fruity and straightforward with a hint of mineral spice. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Bodegas Paniza Chardonnay</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> With a hint of reduction on the nose, this shows tight and spicy with hints of apple skins and a touch of dusty minerality and some leesy background notes. &nbsp;In the mouth it&rsquo;s a decent Chardonnay a bit fat, lots of slightly warm apple and pear fruit with a hint of pineapple on the palate and through the modest finish. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Bodegas Paniza Rose&nbsp;</strong></em></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100 Grenache</div><br /> <div><br /> Saignee</div><br /> <div><br /> Strawberry, stem and mineral along with a hint &nbsp;of orange on the nose. In the mouth this is bright, dry, modestly rich and refreshing, with just a hint of sweetness to the strawberry and slightly tropical fruit flavors gaining a hint of watermelon on the modest finish. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> <br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 16px">A horizontal tasting of 2013 Grenache Bodegas Paniza components</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>10 to 15 youngest vines from the lowest youngest vineyard, trellised vines, machine harvest</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fruity on the nose with attractive herb framed sweet blueberry and wild strawberry aromas, fairly floral with some bubblegum notes and a hint of sage/dill. In the mouth this shows good acid, broad in style and a bit spicy, with good freshness and spice to the dark berry fruit and a modest, clean &nbsp;finish. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>35 year old vines, 600 to 750 meters</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight, more focused aromas on the nose include some prosciutto fat, more stems and earth, candied violet and candied blueberry aromas. Light in the mouth with excellent height, fine grained tannins, integrated acids, and a nice spicy edge to the dark blue and black fruits. Today this is a bit short but shows well in the mouth. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>Over 50 year old vines in slate soil,</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tight, leathery, and with a hint of redox on the nose, though one can sense an innate sweetness to the tart berry fruit, mineral backdrop, and black tea aromas. In the mouth this is the lightest bodied, very fine with transparent slightly liquory blue and strawberry fruit, attractive purity and depth with good energy on the backend. This has great purity and fine edginess to it. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>2013 Grenache with 5 to 6 months American oak</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Smoky, vanillin and char on the very wood dominated nose. There is the sweetness of American oak on entry, a nice melding of whiskey lactone and fresh fruit. The fresh, small tannins add some volume in the mouth supporting the blueberry and vanilla flavors though the tannins turning drying on the backend and through the tough, modest finish. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>2013 Grenache with 5 to 6 months French oak</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tobacco, dried meat, cigar box and baking spices come together elegantly on the nose. Lighter bodied and more elegant than the example aged in American oak, this is nicely focused with decidedly balsamic framed wild berry fruit on the palate, supple fine grained tannins and subtle spice notes that adding detail and length to the finish. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>2013 Syrah 1</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> Unoaked cask sample</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweet blueberry fruit on the nose with hints of slate, dried meat and yellow soil, powerful, good acids up front, ripe tannins, big wine, very on the line between old world flavors and new world size and structure, shows a hint of violets in the mouth, clean, fresh, brisk and short, rosemary on the nose, briar, blueberry and blackberry 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>2013 Syrah 2</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Less than six months in oak</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Smoky, carob and toasted spice nose, shows a little sweetness on entry, rounder in the mouth with vanilla and spice woven in to the palate, oak clips the finish. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>2013 Bodegas Paniza Merlot</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Lactic, smoked vegetal nose, &nbsp;mid bodied, chunky, dull, innocuous, broad, seamless, with a plummy core of fruit, a bit short, and chunky, 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <em><strong>2013 Bodegas Paniza Cabernet</strong></em></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Candied herb, tomato leaf, blueberry marker, tree bark and vanilla on the nose, a little grainy in the mouth, lots of wild blueberry fruit in the mouth, hint of &nbsp;blackberry and black currant, clean, slightly austere, fresh, modest finish, a bit raw &nbsp;84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=";p=1&amp;mmid=3484137&amp;cb=1405039759856"><em><strong>2013 Bodegas Paniza Carignena</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 20% whole berry</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Smells like electric typewriter, inky, herbal and mineral ionized air, polished on entry, dark fruit, lots of dark plum fruit, shows a hint of bacon on entry, ripe tannins, great spicy dried rosemary, drops off on the back of the palate, finishes a bit short, shows a hint of bitterness on the finish but it&#39;s very well controlled, sour plum and a hint of flint on the finish, sweet gum and rosemary accents on the nose, this has an innate sweetness &nbsp;89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2012 Bodegas Paniza Alto-Cinco Garnacha $15</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Toasty and spicy on the nose with nuanced herbal base notes and hints of pollen framing the core of red berry/raspberry fruit. Supple and fairly rich on entry, this is attractive light on the palate with good intensity to the red raspberry and strawberry fruit that is layered over subtle hints of pencil shavings, vanilla and toasty spice. A bit on the modern side of the spectrum this still retains the bright red fruit and subtle mineral shadings so typical of the region. The oak does come out on the finish with some woody tannins and a whisper of heat as well but this is very well styled for the US market. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 16px">San Valero</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2009 San Valero Castillo de Monseran Garnacha 50 Year Old Vines $10</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Very spicy on the nose and with hint of leather and suggestions of barnyard framing the core of black cherry fruit with a hint of a peppery top note. Smooth and supple with nice leather and mineral notes early on the palate followed by fresh blackberry and slightly jammy strawberry fruit. this shows a hint of herb and floral spice on the palate, just sharings of licorice and tar as well with nice dusty yet soft tannins and enough acidity to keep the blackberry and mineral flavors fresh and lively through the modest finish. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Castillo Ducay</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 80% Garnacha, 15% Tempranillo, 5% Cabernet, partial carbonic</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Inky, raw, mineral, and high toned on the nose with grapy fruit and &nbsp;some pomegranate seed notes framed with smoke and dried herb accents. In the mouth this is a little gamy and slightly candied and ashy, with a sweet entry, fruity midpalate, and a sweet finish. A simple wine with good acids, dusty tannins, black fruitish, dry, tough balancing the sweetness and the dryness in the mouth though the end result is quite smooth with a bit of sweetness on the moderately ong finish. texturally this is quite attractive but it is simple. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Garnacha Particular</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% indigenous yeast, five day cold soak, ten degree Celsius, over the course of five to six days temp goes up to 28 degrees, extracts softer, sweeter tannins,</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 100% particular line is sponti</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Mineral and herb over stony, slaty, dusty depth on the nose with a bit of wild mint Fine intensity on entry to the rusty and seemingly just a bit sweeten entry, rich with wild strawberry, wild herb, and mineral tannins on the backend, this tightens nicely on the midpalate, with integrated bright acids supporting dark slightly jammy strawberry and blackberry fruit. In a slightly thick and chunky style, this trades elegance for power and is a bit thick on the palate but displays fine aromatics and attractive fruit. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2010 Sierra de Viento Garnacha Old Vine</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Leather, oaky, lighter bodied in the mouth with &nbsp;raw tannins, simple red fruit, gently herbal. Smells slightly herbal on the nose. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2009 Particular Garnacha</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark and meaty, this is also a bit lactic and smoky on the nose with a little olive and olive wood Character. On entry one finds big fruit, dark fruit, fine tannins which are bright and slightly austere, a little coffee extract on the palate, dark dried fruit that is a bit and, a bit chunky lacking some detail on the palate and showing lots of acid and almost dried date character on the finish which does indeed feel a bit dried out. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong style="font-size: 16px">Grande Vinos y Vinedos</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Beso de Vino Macabeo</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Yellow and green fruit with a bit of dusty chalkiness and hints of wild herbs on the nose. Bright fruit, juicy acids, bit of astringency, bit of sweetness late on the palate, decent finish, grapefruit, kiwi, white grapefruit pith and just a suggestion of steel on modest finish. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Beso de Vino Garnacha Rose</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Strawberry, hint of lime and citrus, light lemon verbena on the nose. In the mouth this is bright and juicy with just a hint of tannin and mostly acids driving the bright cranberry and slightly candied cherry fruit on the palate and through the short finish. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2011 Beso de Vino Old Vine Garnacha</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Malo in barrique</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Very wild herb driven on the nose, with a hint of black fruit, spicy wild blueberry, lots of soil, dried thyme and balsamic notes. A bit soft on entry, though broad on the palate and with some edgy mineral notes, pointy tannins, and a core of slightly bitter lack fruit. Medium bodied, fruity but with cut in the mouth and &nbsp;just hint of wood on the nose, this is fairly long, focused and sapic in the mouth with good purity to the fruit. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2011 Beso de Vino Seleccion Syrah/Garnacha</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Black herbs and spicy blackberry, little blackberry, blackcurrant, almost sweet fruit on entry,black fruited, nicecut, a bit spicy, long fruity finish, nice complexity on the midpalate which is a bit mineral and savory and leads to a modest finish. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Beso de Vino Cabernet Sauvignon</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Nice herbal nose with fine dried chile and blackcurrant fruit. Pure, varietal and bright in the mouth if a little chunky and showing a little heat. There&rsquo;s &nbsp;lots of blackberry and black currant fruit here, though this finishes a bit short, it remains nicely fresh and angular in the mouth. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Beso de Vino Rose of Grenache and Cabernet</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Cherry, strawberry fruit, hint of blackcurrant on entry, hint of sugar upfront, nice subtle and balanced fruit in the mouth which is moderately fresh if simple. Blackcurrant really pops on the nose with a bit of air. 84pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 El Circo Carignena</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Floral, iodine and typewriter air come together with blackfruit, and little peppery and violet base notes on the nose. on entry this shows bright acids, medium plus body, and a very transparent feel. The boysenberry fruit shows a nice blend of tension and fruit, with fine precision and good complexity on &nbsp;the palate finishing with sweet, dusty tannins. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 El Circo Garnacha</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Slight balsamic tone, lightly candied, dark fruit, a little dusty and rose bush, light and fresh and fairly frooty, a bit short, light black raspberry, a little inky on the finish, dusty, bushy tannins. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 El Circo Tempranillo</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Hints of tobacco, nuts, grated dusty baking spice and blackberry fruit are draped over a nice floral background on the nose. In the mouth this is clean, bright, focused and tense with nice energy to the crisp raspberry and blackberry fruit. This really has lovely purity though it doesn&rsquo;t show great depth it remains clean and fresh in the mouth with some fine grained tannins adding texture to the moderately long finish. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2012 Corona de Aragon Old Vine Garnacha</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Spicy, sliced strawberry fruit, gently balsamic herbs, high toned and with floral tones on the nose. in the mouth this is transparent, with juicy red currant and strawberry fruit with a lightly smoky underlay. Texturally slightly softened, this is broad on the palate with good length and. nice acid driven fruit flavors that pick up some rusty and stemmy complexity on the modest finish. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2011 Corona de Aragon Special Selection Garnacha/Carinena</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Inky, black fruity and a little smoky on the nose this shows some latex American oak, toasted hickory notes that rise with air. A big wine on entry, the fine acids help to keep this bright in the mouth and even though it&rsquo;s fairly tannic, the tannins are ripe and round and well integrated into the dark berry and slightly plummy and leathery fruit on the palate with good depth and subtle integrated spice on the finish, which shows some elegance. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2011 Anayon Carignena</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark, bitter chocolate, dried meats, big floral extract, licorice and smoky spice all come together on the nose where the oak is obvious but well balanced by the fruit. &nbsp;Deep, bright, and with huge fruit on entry, this is quite elegant with the not inconsequential oak adding mostly spicy cinnamon and vanilla accent notes to the palate at this stage. red fruits are supported by fine grained tannins, lending this a nice firm base and good drive with late arriving mineral notes adding further detail and complexity to the long finish. A bit modern and with noticeable oak, though I get the feeling you just can&rsquo;t tame Carignane. 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2005 Monasterio de la Vi&ntilde;as Gran Reserva</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit of band aid sneaks through the core of black fruits on the nose with added cedar and coffee scented nuanced framing the dark fruit Tight on entry, this immediately reveals complex savory, herbal, a hint of barnyard flavors on a &nbsp;medium full frame with fine acids and rounded tannins completing the smooth yet slightly austere texture. &nbsp;Earthy and complex with a soft mineral underlay, this shows a hint of heat on the finish, which is a bit dry, making this feel very old school and yet it has its attractions. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2011 Anayon Seleccion</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Jammy, figgy, and filled with quince jelly, and lots of chocolate on the nose Chocolate covered cherries drench the palate followed by lots of dried spices and toasty note which highlight the sweetness on entry. the midpalate is filled with plummy fruit, big, plump, smooth, yet not terrible distinct. This is a modern wine for a modern palate but it could come from anywhere. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Fri, 11 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5465 Succulent and Summery Shrimp! <p>I recently made a dish that was roughly a cross between Cioppino and a sea fra Diavolo. Spicy, tomatoey and with a nice hit of diced fennel, it was absolutely fabulous over rice, though it would be equally delicious over pasta or served with a nice hunk of good bread, sourdough rye being my preference here.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> As good as the dish was, I was struck by how sweet and plump and succulent the shrimp were in this dish. I was using wild caught 21-25 white shrimp from panama and they were the star of the dish, out classing the shellfish, finish and squid that made up the mix of seafood. That got me to thinking about shrimp, and how i&#39;ve been ignoring these luscious little creatures. Easy to prepare, though they will overcook if you don&#39;t pay attention, and super flexible, ready to be served hot, cold, grilled, boiled, you name it. It&#39;s time to cook up some delicious shrimp recipes, and having just tasted 5 wine varieties i&rsquo;m recommending this summer it&rsquo;s a perfect time to do some food and wine pairings!<br /> </p> Thu, 10 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5463 5 Wines you Need to Discover Gregory Dal Piaz <p>With summer in full swing it&rsquo;s time to take a look at some of the delicious options we have available to us.We can always fall back on sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and there&rsquo;s a reason why these wines are so popular, but don&rsquo;t we all enjoy a change now and again. they say variety is the spice of life, and I for one believe that is absolutely true, especially when so may wine that fly under the radar remain compelling bargains!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I advocate drinking simpler wines to make the better wines we enjoy that much more outstanding, and at the same time I thoroughly support experimentation. As I&rsquo;ve said before, I know what i like, and I know what I don&rsquo;t like, but the paradigms that form those opinions evolve over time and I certainly can&rsquo;t know what i think of things that i have not tried! So keep an open mind this summer, and push outside your envelop of comfort once in awhile. Take these five wines for instance; &nbsp;perfect with oysters and shellfish, they are gorgeous wines for summer and worthy of your attention!<br /><br /> <br /> </p> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5458 Pinot or Cabernet? Gregory Dal Piaz <p>Last week I published reviews of <a href=""><strong>some varied roses currently on the market</strong></a>. At the same time as I tasted those wines I also tasted these examples. I&rsquo;ve chosen to publish the results separately for two reason. First off there is the pricing issue, the Pinot Noir Based examples were simply much more expensive than all the rest, and there there was the simple fact that being produced from Pinot or Cabernet, these wines have a bit of an advantage in the marketplace.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> We know Pinot and cabernet and are in all likelihood somewhat predisposed to buying wines with familiar names on the label. So my sort of follow up question was a simple one. Is it worth spending more on Pinot Noir based roses when rose wines tend, for my palate at least, to be more similar than they are different?<br /><br /> <br /> It&rsquo;s not the fault of the producer of course, but rather of the process. Almost all of the delicious complexity we enjoy in red wines is found in the skins, and when you limit the time the juice is in contact with the skins, as is the case with rose, you also limit the extraction of all those delicious flavors and aromas. Pinot Noir though has a bit of an advantage. You see their skins are relatively low in coloring so a winemaker can keep his Pinot Noir juice in contact for a longer period of time than say would be the case with Cabernet and he still will get a pleasantly lightly colored finished wine, though one with potentially more complexity and intensity of flavor on the palate.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> That&rsquo;s the theory at least. The truth of the matter is that, like with all wine categories, there are those who exceed expectations, and then there is everyone else. The best wines of my tasting were indeed the relatively expensive Pinot Noirs, though the fair cheaper Cabernet based wines were not terribly far behind. For my money I would probably choose one of the Cabernet based wines to serve this summer. Unless I was planning on a dinner with true wine geeks. It&rsquo;s also worth noting the great values I discovered last week <a href=""><strong>5 FAVORITE ROSES FOR SUMMER 2014</strong></a>. As you can see the Mulderbosch made both lists, it&rsquo;s a great value wine and a terrific rose as well.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> It&rsquo;s also worth noting that even though the Pinot based roses may have a bit more nuance and complexity, those based on Cabernet tend to be more obviously varietal, with the intensity of Cabernet&rsquo;s currant fruit and herbaceous character being decidedly obvious. It&rsquo;s a combination of flavors that I find attractive, and pairing with the relative intensity of the wine makes for a rose that is well suited to being paired with food, from grilled salmon to burgers and almost anything in between. Another factor in its favor.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>PINOT NOIR</strong><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Le Roi des Pierres Sancerre Rose 12.5% $28</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Floral and dusty and vaguely of the sea, there&rsquo;s nice subtlety and soft suggestions of red berry and citrus fruit on the nose. Bright and vivid one entry, this delivers lovely purity on the palate. It&rsquo;s not a powerful or terribly complex wine but it does deliver intense raspberry and slightly pear tinged flavors on the palate backed up by lovely acidity and just enough sugar to add a tinge of power to the fruit on the finish. the finish is long and shows an engaging minerality that adds some steely depth to the fruit on the finale. Fabulous stuff. what more can you want from a rose? 91pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Winter&rsquo;s Hill Dry Rose of Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Oregon 13% $19</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Spicy on the nose with lightly candied suggestions of red cherry and strawberry fruit that show excellent intensity and purity. Nice acids open on the palate, which shows a hint of richness and lovely, pure, and slightly savory flavors of strawberry, forest floor, and a hint of spice. Moderately large scaled and fleshy, this is beautiful with a hint of earthy minerality and some herbal shadings emerging on the moderately long and succulent finish. 90pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir Rose Dundee Hills Oregon 12.5% $20</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Soft red cherry fruit on the nose shows subtle hints of woodsy spice and perhaps an incipient note of spicy mushroom. Round and a bit soft on entry, this is nicely balanced but shows a slightly richer, softer side of rose. The mineral tinged flavors of red cherry and hibiscus show nicely on the palate and glide onto a fresh and juicy finish where the acids do pop nicely. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 J Vineyards Vin Gris Rose of Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 14.3% $17</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Red cherry, red currant and lightly floral green herb notes greet the nose. Smooth, supple and seamless in the mouth, this is slinky and focused with a nice array of slightly jammy red fruits but for my palate it trades in refreshing drinkability for some of that suppleness. there&rsquo;s a lovely pop of minerality and detail on the backend, with just a hint of spice leading to the modest finish. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <strong>CABERNET SAUVIGNON</strong></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose Coastal Region South Africa 12.5% $9</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> All cabernet all the time here with great complexity to the herbaceous aromas of cut grass, dried herbs and bell peppers that are layered over a base of red fruit. Supple and fairly full in the mouth, there&rsquo;s a hint of sweetness here that is well balanced by the solid acidity, yielding a moderately large scaled rose with relatively dark berry fruit, hints of blackberry and blackcurrant fill the palate and fade gently on the modest finish that ends with an attractive hint of blackberry jamminess. 87pts&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 De Morgenzon DMZ Cabernet Rose Western Cape South Africa 13% $12</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Very Cabernet driven on the nose with obvious notes of roasted chilies and red currant fruit. A hint of sweetness on entry is quickly balanced by plenty of juicy acidity here. A fairly big and slightly chewy rose, this delivers tons of slightly jammy strawberry and red currant fruit on the palate with a hint of herbaceousness adding complexity. texturally very well knit and supple, this finishes a bit on the short side with simple and pure notes of red currants. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 J.M. Raffault Chinon Rose France 12.5% $15</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Spicy and herbal on the nose with suggestions of mint, sweet tomato and ginseng framing faint, earthy red fruit. Bright on the palate, this has nice body and a hint of sugar but remains acid driven with light and lively flavors of red currant and strawberry fruit. A bit simple in the mouth, I do like the zesty character here and the rather elegant texture. Tart, somewhat dusty and dry and a bit short on the finish, which does show a lovely flash of black currant fruit, this is nicely done and distinctive. 86pts&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Isabel Mondavi Deep Rose Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 13.2% $17</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit buttery on the nose with lots of black fruit that shows a jammy quality and a fairly spicy and vaguely meaty quality to the nose. A hint on the sweet side though with good, well integrated acids helping to keep this balanced. this is rather fruit, black currant and boysenberry fruits show a bit of jaminess and a subtle cocoa and tree bark shading adding some complexity. It&rsquo;s large scaled and powerful for a rose and would work well with BBQ or burgers but it is a bit more like a light red wine, with a hint of powdery tannin, rather than a true rose. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5455 Are You Part of the Problem? Gregory Dal Piaz <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-family: Arial; font-size: 15px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">July 5th. We&rsquo;re halfway through 2013 and what has changed? What have we learned?</span><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><br /> <span id="docs-internal-guid-f24113c8-03b9-497f-fc94-f513d1679fda"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">Not terribly much most likely. One thing I have learned is that when someone writes that someone else has &ldquo;Nailed It!&rdquo; we&rsquo;re probably wasting time talking about the same old crap. </span></span></p><br /> <br /><br /> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><br /> <span id="docs-internal-guid-f24113c8-03b9-497f-fc94-f513d1679fda"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">The validity of the 100 point scale.</span></span></p><br /> <br /><br /> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><br /> <span id="docs-internal-guid-f24113c8-03b9-497f-fc94-f513d1679fda"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">The effectiveness of social media.</span></span></p><br /> <br /><br /> <span id="docs-internal-guid-f24113c8-03b9-497f-fc94-f513d1679fda"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">Or even better: How to measure ROI on social media.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <span style="font-size: 15px; line-height: 1.15; background-color: transparent;">These all come with the territory of course, but I wish that they didn&rsquo;t. Our business, this crazy business of moving bottles, is of course a joy, and a curse. We operate like no other business on earth. Preying as much on ego as on the joy wine contributes to our lives, throwing around the ever less meaningful 20 point grading scale that poses as 100 points as though the novice can derive useful info from the numbers in abstract, and pretending that we know all of these wines that it is impossible for one person to know. </span></span></span><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.15; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><br /> <span id="docs-internal-guid-f24113c8-03b9-497f-fc94-f513d1679fda"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-f24113c8-03b9-88e0-a095-00f8b252be98"><span style="font-size: 15px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">What can we make of it all? It&rsquo;s a tough question that I find easy to ask, and yet impossibly difficult to answer. What we should do is perhaps not try to answer, but simply try to make everyone&rsquo;s life a bit easier by not celebrating what divides us, but rather what unites us. And that is of course wine, a passion for wine, and the desire to educate. An educated consumer is your best customer afterall!</span></span></span></span></p><br /> <br /><br /> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.15; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;"><br /> <span id="docs-internal-guid-f24113c8-03b9-497f-fc94-f513d1679fda"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-f24113c8-03b9-88e0-a095-00f8b252be98"><span style="font-size: 15px; vertical-align: baseline; background-color: transparent;">We have these disparate days, you know them #CabernetDay, #GrenacheDay, why is there no #ArintoDay by the way? They are supposed to help market wines, and you should be the beneficiary of some of that marketing largesse, but are you? I would guess not. Not because the idea is bad, but rather because it is poorly executed. It is, as is so much of what transpires in the wine world, designed for the in-crowd. What we all need is more of the out-crowd to become interested in wine. I don&rsquo;t know how to do that but I would love your suggestions. I would also love to hear from you and your ideas on better coordinating the events we do have at hand to help to drive awareness and of course sales through you stores. How can we work together?</span></span></span></span></p><br /> <br /> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><br /> <span id="docs-internal-guid-f24113c8-03b9-88e0-a095-00f8b252be98"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">This is where that &ldquo;Nailed It&rdquo; nonsense comes in. Entirely too much back patting going on in our industry and not enough hand holding. The craft beer movement is exploding, and displacing some interest in wine I might add. In the end this might be a good thing for all involved since appreciation of craft beer builds all the assets one needs to branch out into wine, but I am left wondering what they are doing right that we&rsquo;re doing wrong.</span></span></p><br /> <br /><br /> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><br /> <span id="docs-internal-guid-f24113c8-03b9-88e0-a095-00f8b252be98"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">Wine remains a product with a snobbish and intimidating aura and we have to change that, or at least make the effort to try and change it. That comes from doing something, and doing it differently than we have been doing. We need to be more collaborative and we need to leverage our relationships outside of the wine industry to get the word out. Wine is fabulous, it need not be expensive, and it certainly doesn&rsquo;t need to snobby. </span></span></p><br /> <br /><br /> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><br /> <span id="docs-internal-guid-f24113c8-03b9-88e0-a095-00f8b252be98"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">I would love to create a network of retailers, Snooth Approved or what have you. Retailers that we can all feel comfortable sending friends and family to. I&rsquo;d love to hear your thoughts on that idea, and any others you would like to see implemented to help grow all of our businesses. I know you aren&rsquo;t thrilled about working together and often don&rsquo;t see the benefit of larger campaigns that might also help your competition, but as I said, it&rsquo;s time we do things differently!</span></span></p><br /> <br /><br /> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><br /> <span id="docs-internal-guid-f24113c8-03b9-88e0-a095-00f8b252be98"><span style="font-size: 15px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 0, 0); vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; background-color: transparent;">So are you going to be part of the problem, or part of the solution? Let&#39;s solve this together!</span></span></p><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> </p> Sat, 05 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5456 Wines of Southwest France <p>I recently had the chance to sit down with Sommelier extraordinaire fred dec M.S. to discuss some of the great values coming out of Southwest france. Hidden away in France are many great wine regions, but few have the broad appeal and fantastic pricing that Cotes de Gascogne in particular, and St. Mont as well. We enjoyed a fascinating discussion as we tasted through four wines of the region and discussed everything that makes these wines unique and worthy of your attention. of particular notes was the ease with which Fred was able to suggest food pairings for the fun, flexible and affordable wines. Check out some wines of Southwest france this summer and treat yourself to some delicious and refreshing white wines. Unexpected yes. Worth it, you bet!<br /> </p> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5453 Recipes for a Fabulous 4th! Gregory Dal Piaz <p><div><br /> Summer is finally, actually, completely here and to celebrate we get this fabulous long weekend for the 4th of July. How fortuitous that the fourth falls on a Friday this year, ensuring that we all get the weekend off, though I know many of us wish it had fallen on Tuesday or Thursday, allowing us to stretch things out to a full four day weekend! But heck, what are you going to do with four days off? party of course! &nbsp; &nbsp;</div><br /> <br /><br /> <div><br /> The fourth of July is a bit of a party weekend, but seemingly more for the family type parties rather than the blowout that have become a fond memory of mine. oh lord, did we ever indulge in mass consumption! better to not get into that now. No. Today I&#39;m digging through the recipe archives looking for the five things that will make your fourth of July party one to remember. Sadly at my age I&#39;m referring to potato salad, pasta salad, fancy hot dogs and the like. In the spirit of the holiday I&#39;ll also be recommending one domestic wine to pair with each recipe, though any and all of them will make for a more exciting holiday this weekend!</div><br /> <br /> </p> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5452 5 Fabulous Roses Gregory Dal Piaz <p><div><br /> With rose season in full swing I&rsquo;m a little surprised at the paucity of samples i&rsquo;ve received so far this year. In order to put together a nice selection of wines for this article i went shopping last week here locally. Locally being about an hour north of Manhattan NY. After speaking with my local retailers i see one reason for the paucity. Rose remain smolderingly hot and blissfully easy to sell.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> You have to wonder if that is simply due to the festive color of these wines paired with the celebration for the long awaited arrival of summer. Roses can be delicious, but they are certainly far from universally fabulous, and with this newish explosion of interest in rose wine, which began about a decade ago, prices have certainly crept up. Roses can now be sweet or dry, cheap or expensive, powerful of light, fruity or mineral. Truth is of course that this was roughly always the case, it&rsquo;s just that typically each of us only had access to a handful of examples each summer so we pretty much took what we could get. Well those days are over friends.</div><br /> </div><br /> <br /> Yes we all now have access to an increasing number of Roses and with that comes an increasingly diverse selection and roughly no more info than we had before. &nbsp;It&rsquo;s a minefield out there, so here are a few pointers to help guide you to the rose of your choice. I tasted 16 wines for this round-up, with only two topping the $15 mark and found plenty to like.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> In a pack of fairly equivalent wines, at least as far as quality is concerned, my favorites come down to stylistic preferences. for my money these are the standouts.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Saveurs de Temps Costieres de Nimes Rose 13% $14</strong></em></a> - Roughly everything I look for in a rose, especially when I&rsquo;m pairing one with food, and at a very fair price.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Yalumba The Y Series Sangiovese Rose South Australia 12% $13</strong></em></a> - Party time, it&rsquo;s fruity and fun and has a fabulous texture with simple yet fresh fruit flavors.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Artner Rose Carnuntum Austria 12.5% $14</strong></em></a> - racy and bright this is hyper-refreshing and the perfect rose for lounging by the pool or with light bites as an aperitif.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Vera Vinho Verde Rose Portugal 11% $10</strong></em></a> - Low alcohol, a little spritz, juicy berry fruit. This is the summer refresher, and it&rsquo;s really well priced. My anytime rose!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I&#39;ve also just tasted roses from Pinot Noir and Cabernet, though i will be writing those wines up separately for publication next week. For now, and looking towards this festive weekend, try and stock up on some of these delicious wines. I know that some of these will be hard to find so I&rsquo;ll give you a little preview of next week. One rose that I almost always love is the Mulderbosch rose of Cabernet. Though sometimes a bit sweet for my palate the 2013 version manages its hint of RS very well and the wine is terrific!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose Coastal Region South Africa 12.5% $9</strong></em></a> - Herbaceous and very Cabernet like with it&rsquo;s dark berry fruits this is a relatively large scaled rose that would be fabulous with burgers.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Saveurs de Temps Costieres de Nimes Rose 13% $14</strong></em></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 75% Grenache, 25% Syrah</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Stony and slightly herbal and fairly complex on the nose with lovely strawberry, orange rind and hibiscus aromas that have a softly floral top note. large scaled on entry and lacking some of the focu the nose suggests, this nonetheless is lovely in the mouth with bright and juicy flavors that take after the nose, all orange toned, slightly creamy and strawberry filled. There&rsquo;s a hint of tannin here and great balance for a slightly rustic larger scaled rose. The finish is fabulous, clean, precise, everso slightly astringent and refreshing with some pithy citrus notes. Could be a little more snappy but this is very good. 89pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Yalumba The Y Series Sangiovese Rose South Australia 12% $13</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Quite intense on the nose with early aromas of crushed stone followed by wild flower and wild strawberry fruit that shows a hint of greenness. Acid driven on the palate, and light and fresh in the mouth with just a hint of glycerin richness adding some contour to the juicy core of red berry fruit. Not terribly complex, though some herb and earth emerges on the finish, this delightfully easy to drink and shows in a fruity but not too intense style that I like. Yummy 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Artner Rose Carnuntum Austria 12.5% $14</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fairly neutral on the nose with small aromas of talc, raspberries, and carnations. Bright and super juicy in the mouth with lovely nuanced flavors of watermelon and raspberries, this is a playful rose, small scaled and superbly refreshing. There&rsquo;s a little fleshiness that tries to emerge on the backend, along with a hint of orange oil, but the acid keeps this super fresh right through the long, juicy, yet simple finish. This is a crowd pleaser that can please just about anyone. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Renegade Wine Co. Rose Columbia Valley Wa 12.5% $15</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 79% Syrah, 14% Cinsault, 7% Counoise&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Almost plummy on the nose with it&rsquo;s dark fruit and slightly dried character, there&rsquo;s some green spice here and a vaguely leathery note as well. Both acid and round at the same time, this is a wine of texture, slippery and smooth and very well balanced but for me it lacks a bit of refreshing angularity that a like in a rose. The flavors are pleasant, a bit low key and taking after the nose with their darkish cast and hints of carob and blackberry, which extend through the fairly long finish. Just a little too slippery for my palate. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Montes Cherub Rose of Syrah Colchagua Valley Chile 13.5% $17</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Not particularly aromatic with faint suggestions of watermelon floating beneath earthy, lightly spicy and mineral top notes. Round and polished in the mouth, this is a wine of texture. the flavors are subtle, darkly fruited, hinting at chocolate with some meaty and juniper toned accents adding complexity but the main impression one gets here is how big and smooth this is in the mouth. The fruit takes on a tarter cast on the backend, still rather dark fruited though and then reverts to an herb, tobacco and mineral quality, along with hints of blackberries, on the fairly long finish. &nbsp;Not my style but I can see this working well with some red meat this summer,, or duck. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Artadi Artazuri Garnacha Rosado Navarra Spain 13% $10</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fruity, floral and just slightly meaty on the nose with baked strawberry fruit and just a hint of a green, leafy edge. Tart red fruits emerge early on the palate followed by slightly sweet, and tart, and slightly simple red fruits, raspberry and currant toned with a touch of leafy complexity and earthy spice adding complexity right through the rather long sweet/tart and strawberry fruited finish. Fun. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Vera Vinho Verde Rose Portugal 11% $10</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A little candied and lightly spicy on the nose this really does it&rsquo;s thing in the mouth where it retain enough trapped CO2 from fermentation to be modestly spritzy. It&rsquo;s dry, light weight, though with a hint of tannin adding texture, and fairly simple with a fruit, cherry, raspberry profile that has just a hint of something tropical too it and enough sugar to contribute to a slightly creamy mouthfeel and a sweetening on the tart finish. About as much fun as you&rsquo;re likely to have with a rose this summer. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone Rose France 13% $12</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit leathery, chalky and nutty on the nose with hints of melon and spice adding complexity. A touch sweet on entry but the acid quickly brings this int balance. A touch large scaled and chewy on the palate, this is easy to drink with simple earthy and slightly herbal framed flavors of raspberry and lingonberry on the palate. late arriving minerality refreshes the palate, and leads to a nicely firm, zesty strawberry and mineral tinged finish. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong><em>2013 Armas de Guerra Rosado Bierzo Mencia Rose Spain 13% $13</em></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fruity on the nose and in fact peachy with subtle licorice spice and tea notes emerging with air along with a slightly tarry mineral base note. A little sweet on the palate, but with plenty of acidity to keep this fresh and bright. Not terribly fruit, though the subtle raspberry flavors are attractive and gain intensity in the mouth along with a bit of tannin and that suggestion of fennel/licorice that comes across on the nose. Dropping off a bit on the finish, this does show a lovely blend of fruit and minerality in a style that should have broad appeal. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Chateau Lamouroux Bordeaux Rose 13% $14</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Earthy, dry and soil toned on the nose with hints of dried herbs and red fruit adding detail. rather round and polished in the mouth, with a lovely texture, bright and smooth and medium full bodied. the fruit has a little apricot/orange jelly thing going on over a base of red berry, red cherry fruit with some herbal nuance on the backend and a fresh, clean and brisk finish that shows those herbal hints along with the soil tones evident on the nose. Quite nice. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Vallado Touriga Nacional Rose Duoro Portugal 12.5% $17</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Earthy and savory on the nose with hints of pepper and prosciutto fat lurking under floral framed red berry fruit. Pretty full on entry, if just a bit loose on the palate. this delivers plenty of easy and approachable berry and plum fruit backed up with hints of violet florals and nice, gently dusty tannins. This really is quite tasty still, and the texture is thoroughly engaging with some stony nuance imaging with air and lovely interplay between tannin and acid. Another recently received sample that leaves me wondering how the latest release might be showing. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Old School Rose France 13.5% $13</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Biodynamic&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Earthy and dry on the nose with floral aromas and a nice beeswax notes along with a hint of white pepper. Supple on entry with nicely integrated acids. the flavor profile leans a little towards the spicy end of the spectrum as well with strawberry fruit framed with accents of black raspberry fruit and a bit of inky spice. &nbsp;easy drinking, if a bit short in the mouth, with pleasantly earthy fruit and a hint of bitter, vitamin like minerality on the lengthening finish. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Mas de Gourgonnier Rose Les Baux de Provence France 13% $15</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Lovely and complex on the nose with all sorts of leafy herb, floral and spice framed astringent red berry fruit. A bit soft on entry, and very easy to drink, this shows a hint of minerality early on the palate, along with creamy red fruits that are very approachable. the acid pops a bit on the backend, along with raspberry fruit, but i think this is softer than previous versions, with just a whisper of tannin emerging on the simple, tart finish. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Domaine du Pere Caboche Vin de Pays de Vaucluse Rose 13% $10</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Earthy and stemmy on the nose with hints of cherry fruit and and some tart raspberry accents. Simple and not intense. Opening with fine acids, this quickly turns a little chunky and clumsy with simple fruit that mirrors the nose, a hint of minerality, and a slightly chewy texture. fading fairly quickly on the finish, this is an easy to enjoy quaffer that has quite high acidity well covered by a judicious use of sugar. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Mouton Cadet le Rose de Mouton Cadet 12.5% $10</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Smells gently herbaceous and Bordeaux like with hints of asparagus and carob. This is a bit soft on entry, with a hint of sweetness adding body and contributing some depth to the simple flavors of earthy red fruit. There&rsquo;s a hint of drying tannins here, and the slightly sweet strawberry fruit picks up a nuance of bitter apple with a bit of air but this is simple if serviceable with a rustic finish that shows a gently tannic bite that is attractive. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2013 Kanonkop Kadette Dry Pinotage Rose Stellenbosch South Africa 13.5% $15</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Well, it smells alot like pinotage with hints of bananas and rubber rands on the nose along with some old watermelon and spicy red fruit. Soft in the mouth with red fruit and banana notes, this is kind of nicely textured, showing a gentle brightness and supple texture, but the flavor profile may be off-putting to some. Not bad, just bordering on neutral and, shall we say unique. Not for me in any event. 80pts</div><br /> </p> Tue, 01 Jul 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5451 California’s Red Blends Gregory Dal Piaz <p><div><br /> Red blends. We know what that means, right? It&rsquo;s a code word for sweet red wine. While it may not infact be official, that is painfully close to the truth. Increasing these proprietary red blends from california, and now the world, come laden with enough sugar for dessert. that is an exaggeration, but the truth is that these wines should come with a warning sticker.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> I know sweet red wines are popular, and I applaud their proliferation. Anything that gets more people interested in wine is a good thing, but who is getting into wine with $20 sweet red wines. Now I&rsquo; not saying there is no place for these wines, but we should have more to go on than simple the red Blend moniker to warn us of what may be in store.&nbsp;</div><br /> </div><br /> <br /> A little RS is OK, I can handle that and in fact am not surprised by it in the more classic of these wines. California, of course, has a history with red blends, ie field blends and some wineries have tried to keep the spirit of these wines alive over the years. Witness Marrieta&rsquo;s Old Vine Red, now on lot #60 though I&rsquo;m tasting #59 and Trentadue&rsquo;s Old Patch red. These are two stalwarts. Classic wines that continue to deliver real bang for the buck in a style that roughly emulate the classic field blends of California, which were based on Zin and Petite Sirah, and probably rarely were dry. I get these wines, and I like them. Heck i&rsquo;m recommending them now, but the slew of upstarts. Well many have me scratching my heads.&nbsp;<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> it&rsquo;s not actually the wines that have me wondering, it&rsquo;s their prices. you see for my palate, once you reach a certain threshold of sugar on these supposedly dry wines all I get is sweet fruit and tannin on the palate. You can get that for under $7 if that is what you want, and I&rsquo;m not passing judgement here. Why you would pay $20 for a similar wine is beyond me and the truth is I won&rsquo;t be recommending those more expensive wines today because they just don&rsquo;t offer good value.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This is admittedly an odd group of wines to be tasting at once, but I had a feeling that they would show in a relatively narrow style niche, but I&rsquo;m looking towards the coming weekend and the parties that will require an inexpensive wine to accompany a full grill. with that in mind, let&rsquo;s take a look at these wines. wines which do perform well with a burger and can keep a full backyard of wine drinkers happy for not a lot of money.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2009 Thorny Rose Red Blend Columbia Valley WA 13.5% $11</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit floral on the nose and while there is obvious oak here it&rsquo;s well integrated now with some cedar and tea tones adding detail to the smoky red plummy and jammy red currants of the nose. Smooth, bright and well focused with some early herbal nuance folding into a slightly creamy midpalate that shows fine red currant and raspberry fruit gently accented with baking spices and a touch of dusty minerality. This is smooth, supple and well integrated with red plum skin, cocoa and mineral accents on the fairly long finish. It still has some tannins to burn but they are ripe tannins, not bitter, and well balanced by the substance here. No doubt this is at peak but it is well balanced enough to continue to age nicely. Very well done and a solid value. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2011 Beast Wildebeest Columbia Valley Red Wine 13.5% $18</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 77% Syrah, &nbsp;14% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark and complex on the nose with earthy scents, hints of old wood, dry herbs, eucalyptus, woodland spice, leather and white pepper over dried berry fruits. It&rsquo;s intense and complex on the nose. vaguely sweet on entry, this is a big wine, ripe and chewy but well balanced and certainly not over-ripe. Filled with blueberry and wild raspberry fruit, along with hints of astringent plum skin and subtle notes of fennel and mint, it&rsquo;s complex and nuanced for it&rsquo;s size. Lots of ripe tannins offer support in the mouth and through the moderately long finish which shows additional complexity through hints of cocoa and well integrated wood spice. 88pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2011 Deadbolt Winemaker&rsquo;s Blend California 13% $12&nbsp;</strong></em></a><br /><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> An unspecified blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Syrah</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweet blackberry fruit and boysenberry aromas greet the nose along with some rather sweet cedary spice and cracked black pepper top notes. Sweet on entry but not terribly so and with less weight and a smidge more acid than many of these wines. this is actually fairly light on the palate with lots of zinberry fruit and black currant flavors. The edge of bramble leads to the finish which is a bit short, and shows the sweetness with some cafe au lait edges, but wraps up with fine grained tannins and some jammy black currant notes. About as sweet as is typical of these wines but this one is lighter on its feet and more elegant than most. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>NV Marietta Cellars Old Vine Red Lot #59 13.5% $14</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A bit subtle on the nose though complex with muddy, plummy fruit,. handfuls of briary herbs and some cough syrupy cherry/berry fruit. Just a touch sweet on entry, and rather large scaled with plenty of ripe tannins, big fruit flavors and lovely suggestions of peppery spices. It&rsquo;s a bit of a rough and tumble style of wine and the palate shows that vaguely cough syrup like note that I found on the nose, but at the same time it&rsquo;s reasonably complex and has some energy to it. Smooth, even a touch matte on the palate, this is a fine blend that retains its vinous core with a nod towards fruitier styles of red wines. I can&rsquo;t say that this is that much different than lot 13, the first Old Vine red I can recall trying, and while my palate has changed I can still see enjoying this wine. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2010 Cultivate The Feast California Red Wine 14.1% $19</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 78% Merlot, 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec, 5% Syrah</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Rather complex and slightly sauvage on the nose with notes of bay leaf, black tea, integrated and subtle wood spice and black fruits all coming together nicely. Not quite dry, the leading edge of sweetness here adds some body and roundness to the palate. the acids and fine grained tannins do a fine job of balancing the sweetness, which supports slightly herbal and gamy black berry fruits. The backend shows a bit of spice here along with more slightly jammy fruits, well integrated wood spice and rising, minerally tannins, though there is not much of a finish here. The price seems a bit ambitious considering the wine&rsquo;s style and its market segment. 87pts</div><br /> <div><br /> [PAGEBREAK]</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2010 Trentadue Old Patch Red Lot 33 California 14.5% $13</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark and earthy on the nose with toasty oak spice and hints of licorice and dried herbs framing a core of dark, plummy fruit. Soft yet bright in the mouth with a hint of sweetness but mostly bright, herb and earth inflected blackberry fruit framed with hints of vanilla and toasted spices. This sits rather upright in the mouth with a fair amount of austere wood tannins adding backbone here. I wouldn&rsquo;t want to wait too long on this, though today it;s quite nice with good structure and fresh fruit accented with coffee and mocha on the moderately long and somewhat drying finish. A little rough around the edges. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2009 Girard Uncorked California Red Wine 13.5% $17</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> 66% Zinfandel, 16% Carignane, 16% Syrah, 2% Petite Sirah</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Sweet caramel and cola on the nose over jammy raspberry fruit. There&rsquo;s a lot of tobacco and tea here as well, which adds complexity but this comes off as sweet on the nose. Soft and fairly dry on entry with nice density of dry extract in the mouth. the flavors here are well grounded with just a hint of evolution in the way the &nbsp;dried herb notes blend with the mellowing fruit. the wood is lurking beneath the surface, adding a bit of dryness which will get worse with time as the fruit continues to fade. fairly fruity on the finish with those drying tannins helpfully distracting from the sweet tea notes. easy to drink but not my style. 86pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>NV Hoyt Family Dylema California Red Wine 13.5% $20</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> No Lot #</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Dark brambly fruit framed with subtle suggestions of mint and delicate oak greet the nose followed by a sweetening herbal profile and some peppery top notes. Bright and juicy in the mouth, and dry, this is a lively wine with lovely if simple raspberry and blackberry flavors that lead to a short, clean finish. texturally this is a bit soft and easy going, with some dry tannins covered by fruit for the moment. This is some briary complexity on the palate, but this is not particularly complex or long, just fresh and pure in the mouth with a soft richness to it. 85pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>2011 Bogle Essential Red California 13.5% $12</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> An unspecified blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, cabernet Sauvignon, and Petite Sirah</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Noticeably oaky on the nose with some notes of smoky bacon and lots of cedary spice over lightly pepper berry fruit. Noticeably sweet on entry, though not terribly heavy due to the relatively high acids here. There&rsquo;s a fairly strong mocha note early on the palate that is followed by jammy blackberry and black cherry fruit. tannins are modest. Smooth, soft and supple with just a hint of wood tannins helping to dry out the slightly sticky, sweet finish. 83pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><em><strong>NV Le Lapin Speed Bump Paso Robles Red Wine 14.9% $7</strong></em></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> No lot #</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Spicy and fruity on the nose with lots of peachy overtones to the core of brambly zinberry fruit which has a little cafe au lait edge to it. Sweet, round and simple with enough acidity to keep this fairly lively in the mouth and some tannins helping to add detail to the rather stewy, if fruity palate. The tannins build on the palate, helping the finish to veer away from the sweet side of things and adding enough contrasting bitterness and licorice notes to make this somewhat interesting. &nbsp;A bit coarse but seems to have a soul and is probably fairly typical of wines once known as Dago red. 80pts</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong><em>2012 Kendall-Jackson Avant Red Blend California 13.5% $17</em></strong></a></div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A little oak, cedary and gingery, some herbaceous character, and a little bit of jammy black fruit come together on the nose. Noticeably sweet on entry and very supple, this relies on the sugar to cover some rather bitter tannins and while there is enough acid here to keep this from collapsing on the palate it is not fresh. The flavors are modest, mostly wood derived with a shmear of jammy black berry and plum fruit on the palate. Short, dry and coarse on the extracted feeling finish. 78pts</div><br /> </p> Mon, 30 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5450 Grab the Grill and Get Tacoing! Gregory Dal Piaz <p><div><br /> One benefit of writing about food and wine all the time is that you are reminded of things you &nbsp;might have forgotten. Take tacos for examples. It&#39;s not like I&#39;d forgotten about them actually, but I was reminded while doing some recent, umm, research that summer time is an amazing time for tacos.<br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> We spend all sorts of time slapping things in buns, burgers, sausages, even lobster. mmm Lobster rolls, but the taco seems to get short shrift once we wheel the grill out. Consider how easy it is to grill up your favorite recipes and then wrap them up with some veggies or salsas in a warm tortilla. I tend to prefer corn tortillas, but wheat are fine too. And then there&#39;s the added bonus of being super simple, super quick, easy to feed an army with and with virtually no clean up and you have me very motivated to to get to tacoing this summer!</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Tacoing: To turn everything into a fun to eat, delicious taco!</div><br /> </div><br /> <br /> </p> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 00:00:00 -0400 article5447