Snooth - Articles Read the opinions of wine professionals en-us Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:56:33 -0400 Sun, 23 Apr 2017 04:56:33 -0400 Snooth Fire up the barbecue. Zin is in. Gabe Sasso <p>In 1991 the popularity of Zinfandel wasn&rsquo;t a speck of what it is today. Wine lovers either didn&rsquo;t know what it was or didn&rsquo;t understand the grape. Therefore, in 1991, a passionate group of true believers formed ZAP, Zinfandel Advocates and Producers. This group is made up of winemakers and Zinfandel lovers alike. Their mission is to educate the world about the greatness of Zinfandel and help it achieve its rightful place alongside other lauded varieties. ZAP throws an annual event in San Francisco, Zin-Ex, which has become the go-to destination for wine drinkers who love Zinfandel. The three day experience is the largest of its kind dedicated to one grape. I attended the entire three day event this year and found it to be a remarkably well run, focused and fun time for those who worship Zinfandel.&nbsp;<br /> <strong>Grand Tasting</strong><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> There are four consumer events over three days. One can choose to attend everything, or pick and choose single events that speak to them If you really love Zinfandel and want to taste as many as you&rsquo;ll ever find in one place, this is the weekend-long event you need to attend. More than five hundred Zinfandels are poured by over 100 wineries. Most often the winemakers stand behind the wines and talk about them. Old vintages, current releases and even a few barrel samples are available at this tasting. Local chefs are on hand cooking and dishing out signature dishes aimed to pair with Zin. Over the course of the weekend I sampled an eclectic swath of Zin produced in a wide array of styles. Single vineyards, cuvee offerings, current releases and library selections were all on display. The wide breadth of Zinfandel was there for all attendees to experience. Particularly impressive was how well the older vintages that were poured are holding up. These put the lie to the idea that Zinfandel is meant only for youthful consumption. On the contrary, like all great varieties, Zinfandel grown in the right spot and treated appropriately is indeed age worthy. Here are some of my favorites from the weekend&rsquo;s events.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Pedroncelli 2014 Mother Clone Zinfandel</strong></a> ($18)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> One vintage after another Mother Clone is a classic example of Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. Dark fruits and toast lead the nose. The palate shows off bramble and berry fruit along with an underpinning of spices. Continuing berry fruits are joined by bits of dark chocolate and black peppercorn on the solid finish. Firm acid makes this a versatile food wine. Mother Clone continues to be one of the single best values in Zinfandel. Grab a case and make it your house red.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Puccioni Vineyards 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel</strong></a> ($30)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This is genuine old vine Zinfandel from a historic ranch in Dry Creek Valley that&rsquo;s been family owned for more than a century. In the glass this wine is dark, nearly inky. Dark fruit aromas follow along with bits of plum pudding spice. Blackberry, plum and black raspberry flavors are all evident on the juicy, bold, but proportionate palate. Bits of chocolate sauce, black pepper and earth are all evident on the long finish.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Sbragia 2013 Gino&rsquo;s Zinfandel</strong></a> ($34)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit for this wine came from three vineyards within Dry Creek Valley. Red raspberry, vanilla and black pepper notes are all evident on the nose. Cranberry, blackberry and oodles of spice are strewn through the palate with shows depth and complexity while being light on the tongue and quite graceful. Earth pepper and hints of chocolate sauce mark the solid finish. Gino&rsquo;s Zinfandel is a perfect partner for a traditional Italian Sunday Dinner.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Carol Shelton 2014 Rocky&rsquo;s Reserve Zinfandel</strong></a> ($36)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit came from the Florence Vineyard in the Rockpile appellation, way up north in Sonoma County. Bright red berry fruits, hints of toast and wisps of green peppercorn are evident on the nose. Dark plum, blueberry, spices, leather and dark chocolate notes are all evident on the bold but balanced palate. Oodles of spice, hints of mission fig and a touch of vanilla present on the long finish. Racy acid keeps this fresh and lively.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Peach Canyon 2014 Bailey Zinfandel</strong></a> ($38)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> This Paso Robles Zin is loaded with bramble and peppercorn on the nose. Oodles of red cherry, spice and wisps of black olive are evident on the bold palate. A hint of peach fuzz emerges on the finish along with chicory and earth. If you need a wine to pair with smoked brisket, look no further.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ridge 2014 Lyton Springs</strong></a> ($40)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> Fruit for this wine came from the namesake Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley. This one is only 67% Zinfandel with Petite Sirah, Carignane, and Mourvedre making up the balance. The bright nose is appealing with cracked black peppercorn, anise and black cherry aromas. The even keeled palate shows off a combination of black and red fruits intermingling. Dusty dark chocolate and wisps of roasted espresso are evident on the lengthy finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Rock Wall 2015 Alegria Vineyard Zinfandel</strong></a> ($45)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit came from Alegria Vineyards in the Russian River Valley. Red and black raspberry aromas are joined by hints of eucalyptus on the welcoming nose. Boysenberry and black cherry lead the charge on the fruit driven and somewhat intense palate. Boysenberry, spice and bits of leather are evident on the finish.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>ACORN 2014 Heritage Vines Alegr&iacute;a Vineyards</strong></a> ($48)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> The fruit comes from their Estate Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. It&rsquo;s a true old school field blend that features 18 varieties. It was planted back in 1890. Black fruit, vanilla and pepper spice are all evident on the nose. The palate is a who&rsquo;s who of dark flavors with blackberry, boysenberry, sweet dark chocolate and more all chipping in. Bits of kirsch liqueur and continuing spice notes round out the lengthy finish. ACORN consistently produces some of the best wines in the Russian River Valley, this Zinfandel is no exception.&nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Storybook Mountain 2003 Estate Zinfandel</strong></a> (N/A)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> All of the fruit came from their Napa Valley Estate. Vanilla and ripe wild strawberry light up the inviting nose. The still rich and fruity palate features tons of red cherry, continued strawberry and spice. The prodigious finish is earthy and spicy with a dusting of cocoa. At nearly 14 years old this Zinfandel still has plenty of life ahead of it.</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> <a href=""><strong>Ravenswood 2002 Monte Rosso Vineyard Zinfandel</strong></a> (N/A)</div><br /> <div><br /> &nbsp;</div><br /> <div><br /> A compote of rich berry aromas emerge from the nose. The palate is soft, lush, and eminently approachable. Black cherry notes are in evidence but beginning their descent as secondary and tertiary characteristics such as earth and leather are rising. Black peppercorn and hints of olive tapenade round out the long, elegant finish.</div><br /> </p> Fri, 21 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6925 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p><strong>Uncle Val&rsquo;s Botanical Gin ($39):</strong> The uncle in questions is that of founder August Sebastiani. He both named and modeled this gin after Uncle Val. The botanicals used (Juniper, Cucumber, Lemon, Sage, Lavender) are what he&rsquo;s said to grow in his garden in Lucca Italy as well as cook with. The packaging nods to the past with a bottle made in Italy that brings to mind Bitters bottles from a couple hundred years ago. The label also evokes history. Another tribute to the past that highlights the small batch nature of this project, each bottle is hand numbered.<br /> I&rsquo;ll be honest, a lot of Gins, many of them really well known, remind me way too much of a Christmas tree; an artificial one to boot. In short that&rsquo;s the beauty of Val&rsquo;s. The aromas and flavors are fresh, natural and remarkably appealing. Sipped neat it&rsquo;s pretty easy to pick out each of the botanicals that were used to create it. The flavors here are vibrant, refreshing and simply alive. There&rsquo;s a firm acidity that keeps things crisp. But let&rsquo;s face it Gin is a spirit that really isn&rsquo;t intended for solo sipping; it is however a killer cocktail component. I played around with a number of different classic drinks, all with pretty tasty results. However the concoction that really excited me the most was this variation on a Negroni. Considering all of the Italian influences in Val&rsquo;s it seems perfectly reasonable to me.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Amaro Negroni</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 1 Part Uncle Vals Botanical Gin<br /><br /> 1 Part Montenegro Amaro<br /><br /> 3/4 Part Red Vermouth<br /><br /> Orange Twist<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pour the first three ingredients into a shaker over ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks glass. Add one ice cube and garnish with a twist of orange.</p> Tue, 18 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6922 Wine in America, Beyond California Snooth Editorial <p>According to the Wine Institute, in 2015, eighty-three percent of wine from the United States was made from grapes grown in California. Clearly, the world wine stage has welcomed California bottles with opened arms. Wine lovers from around the world clamor for access to California wines. They journey to the state&rsquo;s many celebrated regions with glee as they ship thousands of cases back to their home countries each year. But what about the seventeen percent of wine made from grapes grown outside of California? This seventeen percent makes up a comparatively small but crucial part of the United States economy. This seventeen percent is composed of farmers and business owners who have an indefatigable dedication to wine. Be sure to admire all of the diamonds in the necklace -- not just the biggest one. The web&rsquo;s top wine writers have spoken. Here are their picks for best wine regions in the United States, beyond California.<br /> <strong>Texas</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The stars at night, are big and bright... as is the future of Texas wine. A brief drive west of Austin and you will find yourself deep in the heart of some innovative, passionate winemaking. With each year, comes new challenges and new growth. As our libraries grow in volume, so does the opportunity to find out more about ageability. These wines can age. The varieties that seem to be shining are Mediterranean and Rh&ocirc;ne in origin: Mourvedre, Tempranillo, and Tannat. White stand-outs include Roussanne, Vermentino, Viognier, and Blanc du Bois. Ros&eacute; is gaining ground, not only for the quality of production, but because of its versatile appeal in our warm climate. A few years ago, I attended the Wine bloggers Conference and brought along a few Texas wines. Very few of the people I spoke with had ever had the opportunity to sample one. Most of the highest quality producers are still small, thus the lack of distribution. And yet, the word is getting out. High scores at competitions help; visiting writers are coming away believers. While many of the grapes are grown in the High Plains of Texas, some are estate grown or in nearby vineyards. Many of the High Plains producers can be found in Hill Country tasting rooms. Planning a trip to find out for yourself? Spring offers not only ideal temperatures but wildflower displays that will be sure to leave a lasting impression.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Alissa Leenher</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>SAHMmelier</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mentioning you are from Texas evokes visions of cowboy hats, boots, steers and the inevitable &ldquo;who shot JR reference.&rdquo; &nbsp;For several years, even though I lived in Dallas and wrote under the name Dallas Wine Chick, I felt the Texas wine community had not yet evolved to command the prices and scores that were happening in other parts of the United States. &nbsp;Part of that was because often wineries were promoting varietals that were popular, but didn&rsquo;t necessarily grow well in Texas. &nbsp;Today, Texas has eight AVAs, 350 wines, is American&rsquo;s top five wine producer and the number seven grape producer and there is a new &ldquo;don&rsquo;t mess with Texas wines mantra&rdquo; as wineries are rising to the occasion on realizing the grapes that grow best here and producing award-winning wines sourced from Texas appellation vineyards. I recently opened a bottle of 2011 Calais Cuvee Principale Reserve that I had in my cellar and it was fantastic. &nbsp;Owner and Winemaker Benjamin Calais is a friend of mine and combines his French heritage (born in Calais, France) with his passion for producing Rhone-style wines with 100 percent Texas grapes, makes a lovely Roussanne with notes of apple, tea leaves, almond and a very creamy finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Melanie Ofenloch&nbsp;<br /><br /> <a href="">Dallas Wine Chick</a></strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>New Mexico</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> There are so many terrific wines being produced in states other than California. But if I&#39;m going to talk about an unknown state that I think can use a bit of publicity, I have to pick New Mexico. It may seem odd to think about New Mexico producing high quality wines, but let me throw something even more unbelievable at you: they produce high quality sparkling wine! Yes, sparkling wines that are fresh, with lots of acidity, while giving delicious fruit flavors with an underlining sense of place. Gruet Winery is the one producer that is easily found in various retail stores around the US, and have not only won acclaim from top critics, they are one of my favorite producers making sparkling wine selling under $20 (I especially love their Ros&eacute;). The Gruet family, who has had a Champagne house (Gruet et Fils) since the 1950s, were impressed by the winemakers and their vineyards when they came to New Mexico in the 1980s while traveling through the southwestern part of the US. Their vineyards range from 4200 to 5100 feet in altitude and so the temperatures are moderated enough to be conducive for growing high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. New Mexico has been growing grapes for more than 400 years since the Spanish Colonists planted mission grapes for the traveling Monks who needed wine for their daily mass. Today, New Mexico has three main viticultural areas, Mesilla Valley, Middle Rio Grande and Mimbres Valley with such grapes as Syrah, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Malvasia doing well in their warm climate. But the Gruet family has shown that the diversity of New Mexico&rsquo;s landscape can go beyond these varieties, and so, it makes one think that perhaps the potential of this wine making state is not yet completely discovered.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Cathrine Todd</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Dame Wine</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Pennsylvania</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> In 2014, I earned my wine certification through, which required me to travel to Philadelphia to sit for the exam. During my trip, one of my classmates convinced me that I need to try Pennsylvania wines, specifically three producers in Chester County, Pennsylvania: Galer Estate, Penns Woods Winery, and Va La Vineyards. Since discovering these three gems, I visit Chester County annually. Galer Estate, owned by vintners Dr. Brad Galer and his wife, renowned local artist, Lele Galer, showcases wines from their estate (home) vineyard and Red Lion Vineyard in Kennett Square, as well as vineyards within a 30-mile radius. Especially notable are winemaker Virginia Mitchell&rsquo;s fruit-forward whites and ros&eacute; such as the Estate Albari&ntilde;o, Red Lion chardonnays, Huntress Vidal Blanc, pinot gris, and ros&eacute; of pinot noir. Their red wines, including the Estate Cabernet Franc, Huntress Red Blend, and Reserve Red Blend are also annual sellouts. Penns Woods Winery, founded by importer and winemaker Gino Razzi in 2004 with his acquisition of the former Smithbridge Winery in Chadds Ford, produced its first wine in 2005, a red blend called Ameritage. Penns Woods crafts a wide range of lovely wines for all palates, including cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, chambourcin, chardonnay, gr&uuml;ner veltliner, merlot, moscato, pinot grigio, riesling, traminette, viognier, a recioto-style wine called Lacrima Dolce, as well as the endearing Ameritage. Va La Vineyards is the dream of winemaker and vintner Anthony Vietri and his family. Instead of taking the easier path and making wine in California where the climate is more favorable, Vietri decided to return home to his family&rsquo;s farm in Avondale, now 6.73 acres planted to vine, which he lovingly calls &ldquo;the little vineyard.&rdquo; Naysayers advised Vietri that &ldquo;nothing good can come of mushroom soil,&rdquo; but he proved them wrong. Today he makes captivating, Italian-style blends, including a white, La Prima Donna, a ros&eacute; called Silk, and two reds named Mahogany and Cedar. Occasionally, he will make other wines dictated by what the vineyard offers, such as Barbera, Castana, and Zafferano.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Elizabeth Smith</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Traveling Wine Chick</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Virginia</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Beyond California (and Washington and Oregon) Virginia is one of the largest and most recognized American wine regions. Not only is Virginia rich with American history, the Commonwealth also has a long history with the grape &mdash; from Act 12 of 1619 that required colonists to plant and tend at least ten grapevines to Thomas Jefferson&rsquo;s well-documented failed attempts with grape growing at Monticello. The modern-day Virginia wine industry started in the mid-1970s when Italian wine producer Gianni Zonin purchased a historic property north of Charlottesville, VA, and founded Barboursville Vineyards. Today, Virginia is home to seven AVAs, over 275 wineries and 330 vineyards with nearly 4,000 acres under vine. The local wine industry contributes $1.37 billion to Virginia&rsquo;s economy and over 8,000 jobs. Virginia boasts a diverse viticultural scene with over 60 grape varieties now being cultivated for wine including well-known vinifera and lesser-known varieties. Cabernet Franc, Petit Manseng, Vidal Blanc, Nebbiolo, Viognier, and Petit Verdot are thriving in vineyards across the state. Grapes like Petit Verdot that are relegated to minor blending status in more notable regions are playing major roles in the Virginia wine industry.&nbsp; There are 261 acres planted to Petit Verdot throughout the state.&nbsp; About 60 wineries currently offer a Petit Verdot. Look to Ingleside Vineyards, Linden Vineyards, Veritas Vineyards, Jefferson Vineyards, and Michael Shaps Wineworks for some of Virginia&rsquo;s top varietal Petit Verdot.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Frank Morgan</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Drink What YOU Like</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Colorado</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Many people I come across are often surprised to learn that all 50 states produce wine. My introduction to the wonderful world of wine started in Virginia. And there are some really fine wines being grown here. Soon after my discovery of Virginia wines, I was trying Riesling from New York; Cabernet Franc from North Carolina; and Viognier from Texas. Over the years, I&rsquo;ve been fortunate enough and curious enough to seek out and try wines from over 30 states. When family members moved to Colorado, I used it as an opportunity to become familiar with the wines of the &ldquo;Centennial State&rdquo; whenever I would visit. Then, as a member of Drink Local Wine, an organization whose sole focus was to highlight and give voice to wines from lesser-known U.S. wine regions, I had an opportunity to become more familiar with the wines of Colorado during our annual conference. I visited the Western Slope, a region approximately four hours west of Denver. This is where most of the state&#39;s wine grapes are grown. Both the Grand Valley AVA and the West Elks AVA are along the Western Slope and have a climate conducive to European grape varieties. The Western Slope has some of the highest vineyards in North America and its low humidity results in low disease pressures. The biggest vineyard challenge Colorado faces is frost, which can be a threat as late as May. For starters, I invite you to check out the crisp, pure, and refreshingly delicious white wines at Stone Cottage Cellars in the West Elks appellation. Their Chardonnay and Gew&uuml;rztraminer are must-haves this warm weather season. In Evergreen, a charming mountain town that&rsquo;s approximately 30 minutes outside of Denver, Creekside Cellars serves up a very nice Viognier and a robust Cabernet Franc; both grown at their vineyard in Palisades, Colorado. Last but not least, put Turquois Mesa Winery Syrah on your radar. Sourced from the Grand Valley AVA and aged in American (Minnesota) oak barrels, this is an interesting wine with a spicy character that&rsquo;s chock full of dark berry fruit, tart cherries, herbal spice and bramble. Colorado has altitude, attitude, amazing scenery, great local food, and wines worthy of your attention.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Dezel Quillen</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong></strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>New York</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I&rsquo;ll admit it, I&rsquo;m in love. For more than 20 years I&rsquo;ve had a mad crush on California; thankfully I think she likes me too. The weather is mostly wonderful, I&rsquo;ve forged numerous friendships, and oh they have a bounty of wine. The thing is I cut my wine teeth on California and it took me awhile to consider other wine producing places. When I started exploring the wider world of wine in the mid 90&rsquo;s, it was different countries. However the last few years I&rsquo;ve finally been exploring what other states have going on too, with far more attention than I had prior. Partially due to proximity, but mostly as a result of the range of wonderful wines from a myriad of producers I&rsquo;ve sampled, I&rsquo;m impressed with what New York State has going on. There are four significant growing regions in New York. One of them is Long Island and I just sampled a wine from the Northfork that I feel really strongly about. Macari 2015 Lifeforce Sauvignon Blanc ($28):<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Like many Sauvignon Blanc&rsquo;s that excite my palate, Lifeforce was fermented in a Concrete Egg. Peach and lemon ice aromas leap from the nose. The rich palate exhibits lemon curd, hints of sage, and a bevy of peach and apricot. The memorably long finish is mellifluous, gorgeously layered, and appointed with continued fruit and wisps of white pepper. What impresses most is the texture and mouth-feel of this Sauvignon Blanc. It&rsquo;s layered and rich with a gravitas that begs you back to the glass for sip after sip. If you need proof that exciting things are happening in New York State, try Lifeforce it&rsquo;s world class Sauvignon Blanc.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Gabe Sasso</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Gabe&rsquo;s View</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Oregon</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Oregon&rsquo;s Willamette Valley is one of Oregon&rsquo;s great AVA&rsquo;s&nbsp; (established in 1984) and it alone has six sub-appellations which offer tremendous wine from terrain and terroir that could be compared to France and Italy.&nbsp; Coincidentally, all three locations have tremendous wine regions that reside on the same parallel, 45&deg; North latitude. Kevin Zraly calls Oregon &ldquo;The Burgundy of the United States&rdquo;. Over 1,000 wineries reside in Oregon with over 28,000 acres of grapes, predominantly Pinot Noir (more than half) followed by Pinot Gris and Chardonnay. Along with the massive popularity in Oregonian wine has followed enotourism, which contributes over $200 million annually to the Oregon economy. If the Willamette Valley isn&rsquo;t considered famous, it&rsquo;s only by those with only believe in centuries-old vineyards, as the wines of the Oregon AVAs speak clearly for themselves in quality and complexity.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Jim van Bergen</strong><br /><br /> <strong><a href="">JVB UNCORKED</a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Arizona</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> A couple of years ago my wife, who had never been, and me visited to the Grand Canyon for her birthday.&nbsp; Aside from the sheer breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon, one of the highlights of the trip for us was Arizona wines. Winemaking in Arizona dates back to the 16th century when missionary Spanish Jesuit priests planted grapevines and made sacramental wine.&nbsp; The modern wine industry in Arizona was set in motion in the 1980&rsquo;s. There are three major regions of vineyards and wineries in Arizona &ndash; Verde Valley, Sonoita and Wilcox (the latter two are also AVAs).&nbsp; Most of the vineyards are in the southeastern portion of the state. There, despite being surrounded by dessert on all sides, you&rsquo;ll find areas in the altitude band between 3,500 to 5,500 feet above sea level where high sunshine levels are tempered by cooler temperatures and pronounced diurnal temperature variations that are well suited to grape growing. In these areas, exemplified by the Sonoita AVA, producers are crafting quality wines from Italian, Spanish and Rhone grape varieties. There now are over 100 wineries, vineyards and cellars throughout Arizona, including urban wineries in Phoenix and Tucson.&nbsp; We tasted at quite a few wineries. Our favorite was Caduceus, located in the quaint, artsy town of Jerome. Caduceus was founded in 2004 by Maynard James Keenan, front man of US rock band Tool.&nbsp; Caduceus produces a diverse range of red, white and ros&eacute; wines.&nbsp; Our favorites were his red and ros&eacute; field blends made from Italian grape varieties, and Kitsun&eacute;, a 100% Sangiovese made in the Brunello style. But there were many others we enjoyed too.&nbsp; While the Arizona wine industry as a whole is in its infancy, it has shown much promise.&nbsp; As its wine industry matures, I expect great things from Arizona wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Martin Redmond</strong><br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>ENOFYLZ Wine Blog</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> Wine in Arizona? You bet, and some of it is darn good. I discovered the growing Arizona wine scene in 2010 when I had dinner at FnB Restaurant in Scottsdale which features Arizona wines on their wine list. At the time I had no idea wine was being made in Arizona, but I tasted several that night which made me curious enough to begin exploring Arizona wineries during subsequent trips to the Grand Canyon State. Willcox AVA is Arizona&rsquo;s newest appellation, just officially designated in October 2016, and only the second in Arizona. This scenic region is located in the southeast corner of Arizona, about a hour&rsquo;s drive east of Tucson on Interstate 10. The 526,000-acre AVA includes a relatively flat, closed basin at an elevation of 4100 feet (and above) that is surrounded by mountains. Cold air from the mountains descends into the basin at night bringing a significant diurnal temperature change. The region is arid, but monsoon thunderstorms can bring heavy rain between mid-July and mid-September. Soils are predominately loams and the first vineyards were planted in the area in the 1980s. For years winegrapes grown in Willcox have been used by winemakers in the Sonoita AVA, Arizona&rsquo;s first appellation and next-door neighbor to Willcox, and in the Verde Valley 100 miles north of Phoenix. Willcox AVA is home to 21 commercial vineyards and 18 wineries. You will find many Rh&ocirc;ne, Italian, Spanish and even a few Bordeaux varieties made as varietal wines and blends. Both can be compelling. Look for wines from Sand Reckoner, Pillsbury Wine Company, Carlson Creek Winery, Aridus Wine Company, Flying Leap Vineyards and Lawrence Dunham Vineyards. If you visit the area, by all means, spend time in the charming railroad town of Willcox.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Nancy Brazil</strong><br /><br /> <strong>Pull That Cork<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Idaho</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Looking for a wine adventure?&nbsp; Try Wines from Idaho.&nbsp; The&nbsp;Snake&nbsp;River&nbsp;Valley AVA is one distinguished by high elevation, natural coolness and interesting soil types.&nbsp; On a trip to Boise (BOI-see), I visited Bodovino a great wine bar and was able to try several Idaho wines.&nbsp; My favorite producer is Split Rail.&nbsp; Their&nbsp;<strong>2016</strong>&nbsp;<strong>Split Rail Gerfuffled P&eacute;tillant Natural&nbsp;</strong>is a wine that is naturally sparkling, as it is bottled during fermentation.&nbsp; The bubbles come in as the wine finishes its fermentation in the crown capped bottle.&nbsp; Not starting with a finished wine makes the process unpredictable and surprising.&nbsp; The Split Rail folks blend Gerw&uuml;rtztraminer and Riesling from the&nbsp;Snake&nbsp;RiverValley. This P&eacute;tillant Natural, or P&eacute;t Nat for short, leaps out of the bottle.&nbsp; Literally.&nbsp; The winemaker includes a warning with each shipment to Open Carefully with a vessel standing by to catch the spewing wine.&nbsp; Gerfuffled&nbsp;<strong>&nbsp;P&eacute;t- Nat</strong>&nbsp;is redolent with tropical aromas and laced with elderflower, tangerine, yellow guava and a subtle yeastiness.&nbsp; Looking more like pear nectar than champagne, its densely golden cloudiness holds refreshing acidity, interesting texture and lush flavors with a long elderflower finish.&nbsp; Giggles in a bottle.&nbsp; Although the edgy Biker Chick Bunny on the label looks as ready to shank you, as offer you a ride.&nbsp; She may aim closer to infamy than fame, but this fun Idaho wine delivers on the allure of off the beaten track.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Liza Swift<br /><br /> <a href="">BrixChix</a></strong><br /><br /> </p> Fri, 14 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6924 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p>Blue Nectar Reposado Special Craft ($60): Sipping Tequila has been on a precipitous rise in the United States over the last decade. Those of us ordering Tequila to drink on its own are far less likely to be tossing it back as a shot. More and more of us are slowly savoring it as we would Scotch, Cognac or other fine, distilled Spirits. And even if we are ordering a cocktail, chances are we want something of quality and substance in there; many will have a specific brand or two in mind. As interest has grown the number of artisan producer has as well. Blue Nectar is a Detroit based company that produces their Tequila&rsquo;s in Jalisco, Mexico the home of blue agave. Currently they have 4 Tequilas in their line and two of them are Reposados. A Reposado can be aged in barrel for up to 364 days; the moment it hits 365 it legally becomes an A&ntilde;ejo.<br /> This Tequila is distilled twice. After that it&rsquo;s aged an average of 7 months in toasted American oak. It&rsquo;s also infused with a bit of agave nectar and essential oils. These additions bring the aroma of agave closer to the forefront than normal. Aromas of mesquite honey, agave and bits of thyme are evident on the nose. The palate is deeply layered, concentrated and elegant. Oodles of spice note are evident alongside roasted chestnuts, marzipan and a pure burst of agave. White pepper and hints of brown sugar are evident on the long, pleasing finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This Reposado from Blue Nectar is perfectly suited for solo sipping, but it will also take your cocktails to the next level. I tried the one below from a recipe on their website and loved it.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Quixote&rsquo;s Nectar</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 2 parts Blue Nectar Reposado Special Craft<br /><br /> 1 part Aperol<br /><br /> Dash of Fee Bros. Black Walnut bitters or chocolate bitters<br /><br /> In a mixing glass, combine the tequila, Aperol and bitters. Top with ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain over ice.</p> Wed, 12 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6921 It’s the right time for sweet wine. John Downes <p>I was round at a mate&rsquo;s house recently and he opened a bottle of Vin Santo. I&rsquo;d forgotten how good this Italian sweetie is!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vin Santo is not so well known and is not cheap but boy, it is good! This unfortified sweet white wine is produced in the vineyards of Pomino, Carmignano, Bolgheri, Chianti Classico and Montepulciano in Italy&rsquo;s picturesque Tuscany region. One sip and you&rsquo;re in heaven!<br /> The wine is a passito, which means that the wine has been made with grapes, (Trebbiano and Malvasia), that have been left to air dry on mats which results, as you can guess, in the grapes becoming raisin-like and sugar packed.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> The grapes are then crushed and put into very small (generally 50 litres) barrels called &lsquo;caratelli&rsquo; together with the &lsquo;madre&rsquo;; a little wine left over from the previous year, which itself contains a tiny quantity of wine from the previous year&hellip;. and so on. After a slow, nay a very slow, fermentation, the juice stays locked in the caratelli for years; 3 to 6 years is not unusual. As time drifts slowly by the colour deepens from lemon to gold to become amber nectar.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> As you&rsquo;ll have worked out, Vin Santo means &lsquo;The Holy Wine&rsquo;, a name that was borne in Italy&rsquo;s northern Trentino region. &ldquo;Hold on&rdquo;, I hear you say, &ldquo;thought you said it was made in Tuscany&rdquo;. Vin Santo is also made in Trentino in the north of Italy and importantly, there are a couple of differences between the &ldquo;V.S&rdquo; sweeties of Tuscany and Trentino. Questions coming to a quiz near you&hellip;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Firstly, the winemakers of Trentino call their wine Vino Santo, (not Vin Santo) and whereas the Tuscans dry their grapes on mats, in Trentino the grapes are generally dried on their bunches left to hang in airy wineries, traditionally until Holy Week, just before Easter. Hence the religious link.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> But be careful, there is very little consistency when it comes to Vin Santo as each winemaker has his or her own way of making this little piece of heaven. It may be sweet, medium sweet or even dry but that said, I&rsquo;ve never tasted a dry one. &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Italians love drinking their Vin Santo with cantuccini, those very hard almond biscuits that come in noisy cellophane packets; the amazing combination of Vin Santo&rsquo;s apricot, nut, honey, fig and caramel flavours with the almond infusion will take you right up those shimmering stairs and through the pearly gates.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sweet wines may be losing their popularity but ignore the trend and pull the cork on a bottle of Vin Santo, or Vino Santo, with friends and&hellip;. clock their faces after that first amazing sip.</p> Fri, 07 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6923 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p>Nomad Outland Whisky ($44): There are so many different styles of Whisky coming from a range of countries. Some stylistic choices are common in more than one region, others not so much. One production choice I&rsquo;m often inclined towards is Whisky that is finished in a 2nd set of casks that once contained another spirit, or a wine. Here&rsquo;s a new one from Spanish producer Gonz&aacute;lez Byass that fits into that category.<br /> This Speyside Whisky is blended from more than 30 malt and grain Whisky sources. Primary aging varies from 5 to 8 years for each Whiskey. After blending it spends another 3 years in butts that had previously been soaked in Olorosso Brandy. The Whisky is then shipped to Jerez where it ages an additional 12 months in Casks that previously contained Pedro Xim&eacute;nez. In a very real sense this is the Whisky equivalent of the nature or nurture question. In tasting Nomad it&rsquo;s pretty clear to me that both environments (Scotland and Spain) played significant roles in its development and style.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Dates and hints of brown sugar peek out from the nose here. The palate shows off brioche, rum raisin, pecans, and wisps of dark chocolate. Mesquite honey, dried mission figs, and a dusting of cocoa are evident on the finish. The depth, persistence and elegance of this Whisky are really impressive for the price-point. It has the complexity and flavors of some whiskies nearly twice its price.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> Gonz&aacute;lez Byass has a long tradition in Spain of producing quality wine, spirits, oil, and vinegar. Nomad Outland Whisky is a worthwhile addition to that respected portfolio. If you&rsquo;re drinking things like The Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask or Glenlivet 15, give Nomad a try, you&rsquo;re likely to be pleased.<br /><br /> </p> Tue, 04 Apr 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6920 There’s another side to Sangiovese wines. Michelle Williams <p>Sangiovese is touted as the most widely planted grape variety in Italy. It is most frequently associated with Tuscany; being the catalyst for Brunello, Chianti, and Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. However, Sangiovese is as much at home in Romagna as it is in Tuscany. In fact, according to the Consorzio Vini di Romagna, pre-historic evidence suggests Sangiovese seems to be part of the <em>vitis silvestris</em> family, a native of Romagna with traces dating back to the Paleolithic era. Furthermore, Romagna obtained DOC status for its Sangiovese back in 1967. So why does Romagna Sangiovese still lie in Tuscany&rsquo;s shadow?<br /> Although the region of Emilia-Romagna is administratively linked by a conjunction, the two regions are quite distinct culturally as well as viticulturally. Romagna comprises the south-eastern portion of Emilia-Romagna, bordered by Tuscany it extends from the Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic coast. One reason Romagna may not be at the forefront of the wine lovers palate is due to the region&rsquo;s historic production of bulk wine. According to the Consorzio Vini di Romagna, in the late 1990&rsquo;s, the region&rsquo;s vineyards were almost entirely replanted to maintain a higher plant density per hectare compared to the past with Sangiovese clones that had proven to yield better results. The result has been high quality grapes. Furthermore, the Consorzio has invested in studies of the region&rsquo;s twelve hillside sub-zones to better understand the soils, irrigation, topography, and climate, resulting in wines that continue to improve with every vintage.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cristina Geminiani, owner and winemaker of Frattoria Zebrina explains how Sangiovese in Romagna develops different qualities than Sangiovese in Tuscany because &ldquo;the clones of Romagna Sangiovese are more fruit oriented with smoother and more open tannins compared to the Tuscan [clones]. Grown mostly in clay soils, the [grapes] are generally more generous than in Tuscany, and the hills in Romagna are very close to the sea and they are less steep, milder;&nbsp; [resulting in] the fruits usually ripening earlier. [Additionally,] the type of berries are mostly larger: in the winemaking we do shorter skin contacts in order to get wines of more approachable style. In general, we can say that the first aspect that people should appreciate is the friendly character of the wines that shows strictly what is Romagna Sangiovese. The wines reflect the character of the joyful and friendly people of this region!&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Andrea Bonivento, of Podere La Berta, shared a similar sentiment. At a press dinner he explained Romagna Sangiovese is designed to be enjoyed in its youth with great friends, family, and food. He expressed it is a wine meant to contribute to the joy and passion of the occasion but not steal the show; adding enjoyment and depth to the experience without drawing attention away from being in relationship with loved ones and great food.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vintage improvement was evident at Vini Ad Arte 2017, the preview of the new Romagna Sangiovese vintages. There were many enjoyable wines poured over the course of three days, making it difficult to sort through them all for recommendations. However, seven producers stood out among the group of over 150 wines. As Romagna Sangiovese continues to move into the US market, here are some wines to look for:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The 2015 and 2016 <strong>Villa Papiano</strong> &ldquo;Le Papessse di Papiano&rdquo; Romagna Sangiovese Superiore DOCs were light and elegant, notes of red fruits and violets captured the nose and palate with medicinal notes added to the 2016. I preferred the newer vintages to the 2013 Riserva, which was more tannic, but great with food.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Tre Monti</strong> was a favorite across the board. The 2016 Campo di Mezzo Romagna Sangiovese Superiore DOC was an elegant wine offering red berry notes with pleasing earthiness of damp underbrush and mushrooms. The 2014 Thea Superiore Riserva was smooth on the palate with notes of dried roses and herbs along with a slight medicinal note. Finally the 2013 Petrignone Riserva was well-structured with nice length and body and a pleasing spicy finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Frattoria Zerbina</strong>, one of the leading producers of the region, shined as expected; the 2015 Centurione Romagna Sangiovese DOC Superiore was an elegant expression of the Romagna terroir. The 2013 Pietramora Romagna Sangiovese DOC Marzeno Riserva overall was one of the best wines of the tasting; elegant and sophisticated, a perfect balance between earthiness and fruit with a well-structured body.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>La Pandolfa Noelia Ricci</strong> in the Predappio sub-region offered some of the most interesting wines. Both the 2015 Il Sangiovese and Godenza Romagna Sangiovese DOC Superiore offered faint Sulphur aromas from their sub-region along with round notes of ripe berries, dried floral and herbal notes, and medicinal notes; they were unique in their expressions yet both elegant and round on the palate. Both wines represent a modern interpretation in their style.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Podere La Berta&rsquo;s</strong> 2012 and 2013 vintages of Olmatello Romagna Sangiovese DOC Riserva were exceptional. Owned by Tuscany&rsquo;s Felsina, the wines of Podere La Berta shined with their rustic notes of red berries and spice balanced with dried roses, herbs, and damp tobacco; wines meant to bring a smile to the face and palate succeed on every level.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Conde</strong> is another modern representation easily agreeable for the wine lover&rsquo;s palate. The 2015 Romagna Sangiovese DOC Superiore is juicy on the palate but still possesses the dried floral and herbal notes, though the tannins were pronounced they were silky and well-integrated. The 2013 Cru Raggio Brusa Romagna Sangiovese DOC Predappio Riserva delivered the same flavor profile but with well integrated tannins that were rich and round on the palate.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Finally, <strong>Frattoria Nicolucci </strong>offered two wines that were a nice balance between traditional style and modern style. Both the 2015 Tre Rocche Romagna Sangiovese DOC Superiore and the 2013 Vigna del Generale Riserva felt young and vibrant. Tre Rocche had dried roses while Vigna del Gernerale brought forth candied violets; however, both wines were herbal with ripe juicy berries, and a nice balance of damp underbrush; two lovely expressions of Romagna Sangiovese.</p> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6917 The Wine Trends Keep Coming Snooth Editorial <p>Snooth is proud to announce yet another successful year at <a href=""><strong>ProWein</strong></a>, the International Trade Fair for Wine and Spirits in D&uuml;sseldorf, Germany. Over 6,500 wine and spirits exhibitors from more than 60 nations presented to 58,500 trade visitors from 130 countries. This convocation of industry players will set the tone for wine drinking trends both present and future. Prior to the event Snooth&rsquo;s Mark Angelillo wrote about some things you may see at ProWein in 2017. <a href=""><strong>Click here to read that article</strong></a>.<br /> ProWein&rsquo;s Champagne Lounge, Organic World (a special presentation of organic wines), Tasting Area by Mundus Vini, and the fizzz Lounge all contributed to the excitement of the event. The vast majority of industry players are feeling positive about the current state of the international wine scene, and this outlook should trickle down to consumers as well.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The next ProWein will be held in D&uuml;sseldorf, Germany from March 18 - 20, 2018. Keep your eyes on Snooth for more information in the coming months.</p> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6919 Ask the Winemaker: Erik Kramer Mark Angelillo <p>Single vineyard Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir are the order of the day at Willamette Valley&rsquo;s acclaimed WillaKenzie Estate. Erik joined the Willakenzie team earlier this year to head up winemaking operations. Enjoy these excerpts from my conversation with Erik.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>MA:</strong> Tell me a little bit about your winemaking history. How did you become a winemaker? &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>EK:</strong> Like many people in the wine industry, it&rsquo;s a second career for me. After college, I worked as a hydrogeologist in the petrochemical industry but became disinterested in the job and wanted to look for something a little more fun and gratifying. So I quit my job, had a premature midlife crisis and fortunately discovered wine as a career while I was doing some soul searching. I didn&rsquo;t know a lot about wine, but did very much enjoy cooking, drinking wine, etc. I wound up taking a job in a tasting room while I was looking for work and started learning more about wine, how fascinating it was, etc. That led me to work my first harvest in the 2000 vintage. My start in the wine industry was in Washington and I interned at a few wineries up there before deciding to go back to school and study viticulture and enology. My wife and I moved to New Zealand in 2003 where I attended Lincoln University to enroll in a postgraduate program that focused on cool-climate winemaking. We lived in New Zealand, where I both studied and worked for about a year and a half. When we came back to the States, my wife and I settled on Oregon&rsquo;s Willamette Valley as the place to build our lives. We have been here since 2004. My wife also left the corporate world a while ago and is now a successful photographer specializing on capturing the wine industry and its people. It&rsquo;s become a lifestyle for us.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>MA:</strong> Can you talk a little bit about how the terroir and climate varies within the Willamette Valley? Where does WillaKenzie fall on this spectrum?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>EK:</strong> The Willamette Valley has some pretty ideal conditions for high quality, cool-climate viticulture. Cool and wet winters provide plenty of moisture for our moderate, dry summers which are somewhat Mediterranean in profile. Most of the soil types across the Willamette Valley have fairly high clay contents, so there is plenty of water holding capacity, leading to dry farming for most winegrowers in the area. There are a few major sub-AVAs in the Valley which include the Yamhill-Carlton district, Dundee Hills, Chehalem Mountains, Ribbon Ridge (Chehalem sub AVA), Eola Amity Hills and McMinnville District. Temperature accumulation and growing conditions vary a bit across the AVAs. The Dundee Hills are the warmest AVA and the Eola-Amity Hills are the coolest. WillaKenzie Estate&rsquo;s largest vineyard is located in the Yamhill Carlton district (not quite as warm as the Dundee Hills) and is situated on well drained, marine sediments called the Willakenzie soil series. We also have another vineyard called Jory Hills that is located in the Dundee Hills AVA and it is situated on volcanically derived soils called the Jory soil series.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>MA:</strong> Can you talk a little bit about WillaKenzie&#39;s current portfolio?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>EK:</strong> WillaKenzie Estate is focused on making exceptional wines from its vineyards in the Yamhill Carlton district and Dundee Hills. Pinot Noir is our predominant varietal and the winery produces both an approachable style of Pinot Noir (our Gisele), a couple of&nbsp; Estate focused blends (Estate Cuvee, Pierre Leon) and several single vineyard wines that reflect the terroir of our world-class vineyards in the Yamhill Carlton and Dundee Hills AVAs. We also produce an exceptional Willamette Valley Pinot Gris using grapes from the WillaKenzie Estate and other high quality vineyards as well as an Estate Chardonnay and Estate Pinot Blanc.<br /><br /> <strong>&nbsp;<br /><br /> MA:</strong> What are your general preferences/thoughts when it comes to oak?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Barrels can be used as great tools to help define wine style and I&rsquo;ve been fortunate to learn a lot about them. Provided they are used in the right manner, they can certainly elevate wine without interfering with a wine&rsquo;s personality. I&rsquo;m a strong believer in aligning cooperage with site, plant material, style, etc. I like barrels that help complete palate shape and add longevity and freshness without leaving a wood signature. The best barrels can amplify a wine&rsquo;s personality and ageability without a taster knowing that wood had a role to play in that wine&rsquo;s development. Barrels take some time to understand and also time to integrate well into wine, so giving barrels the appropriate amount of time they need to have the best possible impact is pretty important. For me, wood and grain selection as well as seasoning are the most important things when it comes to barrel selection. If you are dealing with great wood from the very beginning, it doesn&rsquo;t need too much &lsquo;makeup&rsquo; in the form of heavy toasting to deliver great results. It&rsquo;s also pretty important to understand your style goals as a winemaker when thinking about how best to use barrels.<br /> <strong>MA:</strong> What are you general preferences/thoughts when it comes to yeast strains?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>EK:</strong> You could ask this question to 20 different winemakers and get 20 different answers. To be honest, I look at yeast as a tool to complete a healthy fermentation and it doesn&rsquo;t go much beyond that. I pay attention to yeast strain as a function of previous success with fermentation health, cleanliness and nutrient status of fruit, etc. To me, yeast can have a greater influence on aromatics and palate shape with whites such as Chardonnay than Pinot Noir, so I do have some preferences there. In general, I simply spend a lot more time thinking about vineyards, viticulture and winery trials, managing tannins, picking and pressing decisions, etc.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> <strong>MA:</strong> Can you tell us about the most unique wine grape you&rsquo;ve ever used in a varietal wine or a blend?<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>EK:</strong> I have experimented a little with Malvasia Bianca in aims of producing a Madiera style wine. It was a cool trial that led to some interesting results, but I won&rsquo;t hang my hat on Madiera any time soon. I&rsquo;m better off sticking with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.<br /><br /> &nbsp;<br /><br /> I&rsquo;m looking forward to tasting what Erik has in store at WillaKenzi. Here are a few of my favorite current releases:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>WillaKenzie Estate Pinot Gris Yamhill-Carlton 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Bright, creamy and delicate aromas of banana, vanilla bean, light lemon and fresh spice on the nose. Zesty and refreshing on the palate, this shines with leading notes of green apple, lemon and grapefruit notes that soften on the midpalate, leaving behind tropical fruits, sunflower and white blossom notes and a creamy texture that fade slowly. 90 pts.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>WillaKenzie Estate Gisele Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Aromatic, classic Pinot Noir aromas of ripe black cherry and fresh violet petals are clean and warmly inviting. In the mouth this is full, round and plummy with dark fruit notes of black cherry and black currant, an earthy streak running through to the finish where a tart bit of acidity paired with oak spice trails off into warmth.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>WillaKenzie Estate Pierre Leon Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Austere and stately aromas of warm spice, rich mineral earth and black cherry fruit of incredible depth. In the mouth this is harmonious and complex, delivering rich mixed berry and ripe cherry fruit, a constant pull of refreshing acidity and delicate yet firm tannins, the entire experience is settled on a bed of fertile earthiness. Approachable yet refined. 91 pts.</p> Fri, 31 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6918 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p>JARDESCA ($30): is an interesting hybrid product from Sonoma County California. It starts out as a blend of 3 different white wines that are then fortified with 10 different botanicals. So it&rsquo;s a wine at its core but reminds me of a spirit in its soul. Most importantly it&rsquo;s versatile and delicious. Sipped on its own over ice JARDESCA is hugely aromatic. Aromas of white melon are joined by lots of herb notes. The palate has an inherent fruitiness to it that is buttressed by spice and herb. The long finish is clean, crisp, and refreshing. My knee jerk reaction was to return to the glass for one sip after another.<br /> However where it really excels is as a blending component. The refreshing nature of JARDESCA makes it a really good and fun choice for a welcome beverage when you have friends over. Mix up a batch of something that appeals and serve it to friends and family as they walk in. I experimented with several options from the JARDESCA website, and found a lot of tasty options. The simplicity of the Strawberry Spritz was my favorite. The strawberry and mint additions scream Spring weather. The three founders of JARDESCA, whose backgrounds are in entertaining, food, and spirits, aimed specifically to create something that would serve as a refreshing first drink; the nailed it. Give it a shot!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Strawberry Spritz</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 3 parts JARDESCA over ice in a stemless wine or rocks glass<br /><br /> 1 part Prosecco<br /><br /> 2-3 slices of strawberry<br /><br /> A bruised mint leaf<br /><br /> Combine all the ingredients and stir</p> Tue, 28 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6914 Why Riesling is a Zeitgeist Wine Mark Angelillo <p>Riesling could be eclipsing Chardonnay as a go-to white wine grape for wine drinkers. My definition of wine drinkers here includes folks who don&rsquo;t drink wine on a regular basis, but know a few grapes by name when ordering at a restaurant or picking up a bottle for a special occasion. This says a whole lot about Riesling. Many perfectly fine indigenous varietal wines would love to join the American wine drinker&rsquo;s lexicon, and so many of them should. The success of Riesling proves that it&rsquo;s still possible to get some runs on the board even though we&rsquo;ve been at this game for a very long time.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I&rsquo;ve chosen to focus on Riesling from three key areas. I haven&rsquo;t covered all areas where Riesling is cultivated, not by a long shot, but these selections represent the grape in a few different contexts which I think are important.<br /> One of the reasons why Riesling attracts such a broad audience is its ability to manifest in very dry, to off dry, to sweet forms. You can usually find an indication of sweetness on the bottle. If you can&rsquo;t, a helpful rule of thumb is hidden in the alcohol percentage. A sweeter wine may have a lower alcohol percentage (8% to 9%), while a drier style of Riesling will come in a bit higher &ndash; as much as 13%.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Riesling is an incredibly tough yet impressionable grape. Its wood is strong enough to withstand extreme cold. It&#39;s also highly sensitive to terroir, so sensitive that Riesling grapes grown within the same general area can produce completely different wines. This is the major reason why tasting Riesling from several different areas of the world is a fascinating and educational exercise. A geographically diverse flight of Riesling will prove to any disbeliever that terroir is a very real thing.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Germany</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Most of us freely associate Riesling with Germany. Riesling is one of Germany&rsquo;s oldest indigenous grapes. DNA tests show that Riesling is the child of Gouais Blanc, a prolific white grape of Eastern European origin. These days it&rsquo;s very hard to find varietal Gouais Blanc, but its legacy continues on with the rise of Riesling. Novice Riesling drinkers may want to start with a few German selections. Don&rsquo;t let the labels stump you. While they may look confusing at first glance, the rules around German wine labels are among the most coherent and strict in the world. The layers of designation are incredibly specific, down to the last vineyard row. When you put the energy into decoding a German wine label you are rewarded with a great deal of information about the wine in your bottle.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>A few to try:</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>50&deg; Riesling Rheingau 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Beeswax, honey and melon on the nose with touches of petrol and lemon zest. Full on acidity on the palate with tart lemon, peach and apricot fruit, a warming spice throughout and some grassiness and a hint of grapefruit towards the finish. Easy drinking and lively.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Sektkellerei Fitz KG Riesling Sekt Bad Durkheim Pfalz NV</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This brings classic Riesling phenolics and lemon aromas on the nose. Full bodied and pure fruited with green apple and pear behind tart lemon and a wooded finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Weingut Kruger-Rumpf Riesling Trocken Nahe 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral lemon balm, wild blossom and honeysuckle aromas with green apple and light restrained petrol set against wet stone. Tart and zesty in the mouth with notes of pear, green apple, and citrus, loads of acidity and minerality and a clean lightly buttered finish.<br /><br /> 90pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Urban Riesling Mosel 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lemon, sage leaf and green apple with honeysuckle and peach as well on the nose. This is classic and delightful, bursting with acidity to combat the soft sweetness on the palate, with fruit flavors of green apple, peach, lemon, tangerine and a clean, fresh zesty finish.<br /><br /> 90 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Schloss Vollrads Estate Riesling Kabinett Rheingau 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Warm and fresh, floral and fruity aromas of apricot, green apple, rose petals and that classic Riesling petrol on the nose. Clean, zesty and approachable on the palate, this delivers a full acidity alongside lemon and grapefruit citrus notes that melt into the long finish where a creamy lemon pith mingles with a hint of pineapple and tangerine.<br /><br /> 91 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Finger Lakes</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Grapes have been grown in this glacial pocket of upstate New York since the 1850s. Lake Ontario and its surrounding fingers &ndash; Lakes Seneca, Cayuga, and Keuka &ndash; insulate vineyard areas from the extremes of winter and summer. This region lives with the threat of frozen vines, so an early ripening grape variety like Riesling is a natural choice. Nearby Cornell University has a fantastic winemaking program, so you&rsquo;ll see a lot of top-notch graduates setting up shop in the region. Historically, Finger Lakes Riesling tends to be off-dry or sweet. That&#39;s starting to change as more winemakers are putting sweat into achieving drier bottles. The drier wines really let the terroir of this region shine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>A few to try:</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Damiani Wine Cellars Riesling Semi-Dry Finger Lakes 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Clean clear and concentrated apple and pear aromas with beautiful spice. A truly well balanced wine on the palate, this has a zesty acidity, fresh peach and apple notes and a touch of sweetness and comes with a creamy mouthfeel and some oak spice towards the finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Fulkerson Estate Juicy Sweet Riesling Finger Lakes 2016</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Minerally melon and lemon drop aromas. A bit thin on entry with sweet apple and peach flavors - off dry and soft.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Lamoreaux Landing Riesling Ice Finger Lakes 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lightly savory aromas of concentrated honey and orange blossom. Focused, juicy and sweet on the palate with thick creamy mouthfeel and bright fruit notes of ripe apple, honeyed pear and clementine juice, this is pleasant and sweet.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>McGregor Vineyard Semi-Dry Riesling Finger Lakes 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Light floral aromas. A nicely zesty acidity comes out of the glass and mixes with minerality and a stony, steely finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Oregon</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> There&rsquo;s more to Oregon than Pinot Noir. In fact there was a time when Oregon produced more Riesling than Pinot Noir, but consumer demand for the latter prevailed. Fortunately there has been a renewed interest in Riesling among the mostly family-owned wineries in Oregon. Riesling wines from Oregon rank high in aromatics with above average fruit on the palate. There has been a real effort by Oregon winegrowers over the last few years to establish Riesling as a key varietal. It&rsquo;s working.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>A few to try:</em><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Anne Amie Estate Dry Riesling Yamhill-Carlton 2013</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Floral petrol aromas with an undernote of baked green apple, honey and tart lime zest. In the mouth this is expressive with notes of elderflower, lemon and more petrol, fresh and fruity but displaying a creamy nutty finish that carries some peach and tropical fruit.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Trisaetum Vineyards Coast Range Estate Dry Riesling Yamhill-Carlton 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Mineral salinity, peach fruit and lemon zest bloom on the nose. This is gorgeous and elegant in the mouth, perfectly walking the line between Riesling sweetness, floral aromatics, minerality and refreshing acidity. It also brings a palate of fruit flavors - peach, mango, lemon and grapefruit, with a finish that&#39;s creamy and delicate with great length.<br /><br /> 93 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Elk Cove Vineyards Estate Riesling Willamette Valley 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lemon and petrol on the nose with soft wildflower notes and some tangerine. More citrus and petrol notes on the palate, good acidity, some sweet spice and ripe melon notestowards the finish, and a creamy texture throughout.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Brooks Riesling Willamette Valley 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> One of the reasons why Riesling attracts such a broad audience is its ability to manifest in very dry, to off dry, to sweet forms. You can usually find an indication of sweetness of the bottle. If you can&rsquo;t, just take a look at the alcohol percentage. A lower alcohol wine will have a lower alcohol percentage (8% to 9%), while a drier style of Riesling will come in as high as twelve percent.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Riesling is an incredibly impressionable grape. It is so highly sensitive to terroir that grapes grown within the same general area can produce completely different wines. This is a major reason to try a Riesling from several different areas of the world.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lush and plump apricot and green apple aromas with floral hints and gentle oily Riesling aromatics. Freshly acidic on the palate, almost surprisingly so on entry with peach pear and mango fruit playing through the mid palate with lemon zest and a candied character towards the slightly nutty finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Brooks Riesling Bois Joli Vineyard Eola-Amity Hills 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lightly savory aromas with light lemon fruit and a mineral edge. Presents a smooth and elegant off-dry palate of sweet spice and tangerine notes, a burst of acidity through the full bodied mid palate that leaves a tingling sensation behind with melon and papaya notes and a creamy memory.<br /><br /> 91 pts</p> Fri, 24 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6916 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p>Virgil Kaine &ndash; Robber Baron Rye Whiskey ($40): Boutique Whiskey brands are popping up all over the world. The United States is emblematic of that with Distilleries being built in way too many states to mention. One of those brands is Virgil Kaine founded by Southern Chefs Ryan Meany and David Szlam. Their list of combined credits includes work at Husk in Charleston and Alice Waters famed Chez Panisse. They set out with a goal of creating a delicious Whiskey by following the same palates that led to their accomplishments on the culinary side.<br /> Virgil Kaine Robber Barron Rye Whiskey was produced from a blend of 96% Rye Whiskey and 4% Bourbon. Toasted macadamia nuts, vanilla and bits of brown sugar inform the nose. Toasty oak notes, hints of yeast, and dates are evident on the palate. The long finish is spicy; white pepper notes are of particular prominence. A final dollop of heat closes it out. This is most definitely a Rye Whiskey, but mellower and more approachable than most.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I enjoyed this Rye sipped neat with just a drop of water in it. After that I tried a few of the recipes from their website. The one that I ended up making several times is this. However you enjoy it this is a tasty and fairly priced Whiskey to add to your bar.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>The Blinker</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> 1 &frac12; oz. Virgil Kaine Robber Baron Rye Whiskey<br /><br /> &frac12; oz fresh grapefruit juice<br /><br /> 1 Tbsp Raspberry syrup<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker half-filled with cracked ice, shake well and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a twist of Grapefruit rind.</p> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6910 Bordeaux or Bust! John Downes <p>With springtime upon us, wine enthusiasts around the world are looking to squeeze a French vineyard into their European holiday. &ldquo;Is it possible to catch the spirit of Bordeaux in a couple of days?&rdquo; With careful planning the answer&rsquo;s &ldquo;yes&rdquo;.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> I accompanied twelve CEO&rsquo;s on a corporate two day &lsquo;jolly&rsquo;, sorry &lsquo;educational visit&rsquo; to the vineyards of Bordeaux last summer. The Bordelais have a reputation for not being visitor friendly but that was completely busted as they opened their doors and their bottles with a broad smile.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> We were on the early bird 6:45am flight from London Gatwick (ouchhh) but it was worth it as we were on the magnificent lawns of Chateau Palmer near the &lsquo;left bank&rsquo; village of Margaux, a stone&rsquo;s throw from the Gironde river by 10:30amm (and we lost the hour!) Our private visit of the cellars ended with a super tasting; second label Alter Ego 2011 (&pound;56, $75) was followed by Chateau Palmer 2006 and 2007. The 2006, made from Cabernet Sauvignon (66%) and Merlot (34%) with its dense blackberry, friendly fine grained tannins and lingering finish topped my list; that&rsquo;s if you have a spare &pound;175 ($220). &ldquo;Left Bank?&rdquo;, I hear you say. For once wine trade lingo is useful; guess what, the Left Bank vineyards are on your left hand side as you sail up river towards the Atlantic. <br /> We then drove north to the village of Pauillac through rolling gravel-soil vineyards, before sweeping into the impressive, towered chateau that is Pichon Baron. We were greeted with a comprehensive, nay privileged, tasting in their &lsquo;Hollywood&rsquo; cellars including 2012 and 2011 (cooler years) and 2010 and 2009 (sunny years and two of the best Bordeaux vintages). My best wine? The 2010 with its ripe fruit balanced with a lovely crisp tannic. But then again, at &pound;100 ($130) plus you need deep pockets.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> After a brilliant lunch at Pichon Baron (more fantastic wine!) we didn&rsquo;t really need a slap up dinner but as dusk fell we entered one of Rick Stein&rsquo;s favourite restaurants, La Tupina, overlooking the River Garonne in the heart of Bordeaux. The wine list was reasonably priced and a few bottles of Chateau La Garde (&pound;30, $40) from the Pessac-Leognan vineyards south of the city were well received with Tupina&rsquo;s signature meat dishes.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The next morning saw us on Bordeaux&rsquo;s &lsquo;Right Bank&rsquo;, an easy 45 minute drive from our city centre hotel. We arrived early to stroll around the world famous Petrus vineyards, hallowed ground indeed as these blue clay vineyards in the heart of the Pomerol plateau produce bottles with &pound;1000 ($1300) price tags!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Spot on time (luxury coach, great coach driver!) we walked up the gravel drive of Pomerol&rsquo;s Vieux Chateau Certan, another highlight for the excited group. Following a tour of the vineyards with the winemaker, the lofty barrel filled cellar was the venue for an exceptional tasting. The first glass, a barrel sample of 2015 brought applause all round, (my notes were ripe, silky, balanced, long), even though it probably had another 12 months to sleep in the barrels. The team had picked up the softer &lsquo;Right Bank&rsquo; style, thanks to the higher proportion of Merlot (80%) in the blend. The other grapes in the 2015 were Cabernet Franc (19%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (1%) by the way. Other vintages tasted meant VCC, little known before, is now gracing a few more south of England cellars.&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> We then drove the short distance to Pomerol&rsquo;s world famous Le Pin vineyard; at over 500 Euro a bottle at the cellar (but not for sale!) the accountants in the group were quickly sharpening their pencils to calculate the annual balance sheets before realising that the production was exceptional but tiny.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Lunch beckoned but first one more private visit and tasting at St. Emilion&rsquo;s Premier Grand Cru Classe Chateau Troplong-Mondot. Our lunch at Troplong-Mondot was superb which was no surprise as the restaurant boasts one Michelin Star. As we&rsquo;d been drinking Bordeaux for two days we rang the changes with lunch; Puligny-Montrachet, Burgundy&rsquo;s famous white (100% Chardonnay) was followed by Hermitage, the famous Syrah (100%) wine from the northern Rhone. Oh, and a glass of Champagne of course!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> A few beers in St. Emilion&rsquo;s famous cobbled town square followed by a splendid dinner and we were on our way to the airport&hellip;we were on the last flight out reflecting on two amazing days getting to know one of the world&rsquo;s most famous wine regions&hellip;. intimately!<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>John Downes, one of only 350 Masters of Wine in the world is a corporate entertainer speaker, television and radio broadcaster and writer on wine. Check out John&rsquo;s website at&nbsp; <a href=""><strong></strong></a>. Follow him on Twitter <a href=""><strong>@JOHNDOWNESMW</strong></a></em></p> Fri, 17 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6912 Ask the Winemaker: La Crema’s Craig McAllister Mark Angelillo <p>I recently had the chance to speak with Craig McAllister, La Crema Winery&rsquo;s new head winemaker. He took the reins this past January. La Crema wines are much-loved by millions of wine drinkers in the United States for their artisan yet approachable bent. Here are some key notes from my chat with Craig.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>On becoming a winemaker</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Craig had a bit of a late start. He was working in resort hotels in New Zealand and started to lose interest. One day he opened the newspaper and found an advert for Lincoln University&rsquo;s new viticultural program. He&rsquo;d always had an interest in wine, but it was from this moment that he made the decision to join the wine industry. He graduated in 2004 and worked in Australia&rsquo;s Hunter Valley for a few years. By 2007 he&rsquo;d made his way over to California. After a few successful harvests in the States he spent some time making wine in Chile and Cypus. By 2009 he was ready to come back to California where he found a permanent home with La Crema.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>On climate</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Craig has worked in a lot of different climates &ndash; from New Zealand to Cyprus. While the relationship between wine and climate is well-established, only winemakers like Craig can comprehend these differences in a very real way. A bad year in New Zealand means you have to say goodbye to nearly the whole harvest, says Craig. But when it comes to California, even a &ldquo;bad year&rdquo; makes a pretty good wine. The true differences in California, he says, come down to the vineyard sites.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>On the La Crema portfolio</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> La Crema has carefully selected a number of optimum vineyard sites since the label began in 1979. They are a pioneer in cooler climate California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. More recently La Crema has helped bring Monterey front and center. Craig calls the area a &ldquo;sleeping giant&rdquo; with overwhelming potential. Plans to build out La Crema&rsquo;s Monterey portfolio are in the works. The label&#39;s first Monterey ros&eacute; was released just this year. Craig says that Monterey&rsquo;s defining feature is the wind from the Monterey Bay to the north and west. These cold rushes of wind and fog contribute to a longer growing season and later harvest than more northern areas of California.<br /> <strong>A few of my favorites</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>La Crema Pinot Gris Monterey 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Pencil lead, soft clay and floral blossom aromas with pleasant peach, red apple and apricot fruit. This has good acidity throughout, lifting the palate with fruit notes of peach, pear and apple and a warm earthy and creamy finish. Crisp and clean.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>La Crema Chardonnay Monterey 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Decadent buttered popcorn and rich vanilla aromas with oak toasting and an apple lemon fruit underneath. Thick and unctuous on the palate with more strong vanilla bean and baked apple, stone fruit and spice and a bit of a mineral lift on the finish blowing towards a cool breezy pear and wildflower coda.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>La Crema Pinot Noir Monterey 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Tarry cherry with mineral earth and full bramble aromas. A sweet spice greets the palate with blueberry and black cherry fruit, an earthy moist soil and forest floor character through the midpalate and a bit of an herbed finish that&#39;s as much dark cacao as it is mixed berry fruit.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>La Crema Chardonnay Sonoma Coast 2015</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Cool, clean and lightly oaked aromas with a green apple and lemon fruit. Smooth, soft and pleasant palate with clean and clear apple and kiwi notes, some oat straw around the edges and a lively oak spice on the finish, a bit of an herbal top note and a nice earthy roundness towards the finish.<br /><br /> 90 pts<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>La Crema Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2014</strong></a><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Blueberry and black cherry aromas with floral violet and pleasant spice notes. In the mouth this is restrained but confident showing earth and spice on entry, a tart focused black cherry and mixed berry fruit on the mid palate and some herbal licorice notes towards the finish, supported by chewy tannins throughout.</p> Fri, 17 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6913 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p>Glenmorangie Bacalta Single Malt Scotch Private Edition ($99.99): <em>Baked Malmsey Madeira Casks. </em>Over recent years Glenmorangie has been releasing Private Editions of select Single Malts. Bacalta is in fact the 8th annual edition in this range.&nbsp; The work to create this Whisky goes back many years. Dr Bill Lumsden who is Glenmorangie&rsquo;s Director of Distilling had American Oak casks created to his precise specifications, including the precise toast level. After preparation they were filled with specially chosen Malmsey Madeira and aged in the sun for two years as per his instructions. The casks were then emptied and shipped to Scotland where they were filled with select Glenmorangie Scotch that had been aging in Ex-Bourbon Barrels to that point.<br /><br /> <br /> This limited edition Single Malt from Glenmorangie has apricot and bits of yeast on the nose. Toasted pecan, tangerine zest, dates, and a hint of chicory are all evident on the layered palate. The long, persistent finish shows hints of heat, candied orange rind, mesquite honey and a bit of bitter chocolate. For a distillery that already features a host of Single Malt&rsquo;s finished in a 2nd set of casks it&rsquo;s impressive that they&rsquo;ve created an expression that is wholly unique from the others. That said the Glenmorangie fingerprint of style, grace and proportion which embodies their portfolio remains intact.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If your taste in Single Malt Scotch runs to expressions of this style with a specific cask finish on them, Glenmorangie should be on your short list of producers to drink on the regular. Their work in this area is both phenomenal and industry leading. Bacalta the latest entry only enhances the reputation of their portfolio. If for some reason you&rsquo;re not yet familiar with the Glenmorangie range, Bacalta is a delicious place to jump in.</p> Tue, 14 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0400 article6909 The Wine Industry Needs More Email Mark Angelillo <p>There is no denying that in today&rsquo;s wine marketing landscape social media presence is a box that needs to be checked. While social media is the face you present to the world, it&rsquo;s not a dedicated revenue generating activity. In fact you most likely will generate very little revenue from it, comparatively speaking. To generate revenue you need a captive audience. The potential customer needs to be solely focused on your message for an extended period of time. A study funded by the Microsoft Corporation showed that the average attention span dropped from twelve seconds in 2000 to eight seconds in 2015. The lesson here is that we must maximize every second we can get in an environment filled with constantly scrolling shiny objects. Social media puts you on stage with many different competing characters, but when it comes to email, you are the star soloist. It is true that email has become an incredibly competitive space over the past decade. It&rsquo;s hard to remember a time before spam filters and the &ldquo;Promotions&rdquo;&nbsp; tab. Regardless, email can provide more bang for your buck &ndash; and more bucks for your bang.<br /> Here are five tips on how to use an email list to your advantage.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>1. Grow that list.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Yes, it&rsquo;s a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people forget to grow their email lists. It&rsquo;s a rather tedious task that gets pushed off in favor of more immediate projects. But it is so important and requires constant attention and maintenance. Take every opportunity to capture an email address whenever and wherever you can. Make sure the email address is recorded correctly. Capture the email addresses of those who visit you, wherever you are &ndash; from the web to a winery. Offer incentives for shared email addresses. For example, if you&rsquo;ve got a tasting room, give a bonus pour of something extra special in exchange for an active email address. These days, that email address is far more powerful than a phone number.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>2. Establish a regular pattern of contact.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> I once had a colleague who wore suspenders every Thursday.&nbsp; It was a curious quirk appreciated by everyone in the office. According to him, he wore suspenders every Thursday without fail to &ldquo;make people know that I&rsquo;m dependable.&rdquo; This story applies to email too: Timed communications that arrive at specific intervals build trust between you and your audience. The audience will know what to expect from you and when they can expect it. As a result, the audience is more likely to believe in what you have to say.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>3. Provide them with value.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> While you should be writing to your audience at regular intervals, make sure you have something meaningful to say that will enrich the lives of your readers. Think about what kind of content you are going to provide. Maybe it&rsquo;s a recipe, a pairing, a thoughtful quote or a fun fact. Don&rsquo;t communicate for the sake of communicating. Make it count. If the content lacks utility, is boring or irrelevant, the audience will stop reading your messages altogether. And while you won&rsquo;t please everyone with your content, you sure can try.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>4. Give them an out.</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Don&rsquo;t hold your audience hostage. Make sure there&#39;s a quick and simple way to unsubscribe from your list. Drawing out the process or making it difficult will leave the person with a bad taste for your brand. And don&rsquo;t take it personally &ndash; most of us have gone on unsubscribe sprees at some point in the past. The most popular time to unsubscribe from a list is January, so think extra hard about the content you provide (or don&rsquo;t provide) around this time.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>5. Know your Call-to-Action (CTA)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> What do you want your audience to do? How do you want them to interact with your brand? Say it loud and proud. If you don&rsquo;t ask, you&rsquo;ll never receive. Perhaps you want the audience to click through to your site. Maybe you want them to stay right where they are and enjoy your branded images and content. Of course you may also want them to buy something. No matter what it is, make sure your CTA is something on which one can easily act.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <em>Have more questions about building your email list? Snooth can help. Our co-registration program has helped build large email lists for a number of wine brands and regions. <a href=""><strong>Click here to request information</strong></a>.</em></p> Thu, 09 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6911 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p>Kirk and Sweeney 23 Year Rum ($59): Rum comes in all sorts of shades and styles. Some are clear, others gold and some darker in color. Most think of Rum as a cocktail component, something its quite good at. Be it classics like mojito&rsquo;s and rum and coke or less traditional drinks there&rsquo;s a lot you can do with Rum. Personally my favorite thing to do with Rum is sip it neat. A lot of the Rum that you&rsquo;d find on your local shelf isn&rsquo;t meant to be sipped neat; they&rsquo;re in the previously mentioned blending category. But the uptick in popularity for sipping Rum means that they&rsquo;re getting a bit more shelf space these days. And well they should as the flavor profile of Rum, while having a pretty broad spectrum, is different than any other spirit out there. When they&rsquo;re produced with care, in an honest manner and aged appropriately they can have the structure and depth of fine Scotch. You can also get a lot more Rum for your money than you can with high end Scotches of comparable quality. Kirk and Sweeney a producer of Dominican Rum has been on my radar for some time, but I just sampled their 23 Year old offering for the first time.<br /> Kirky and Sweeny 23 was produced entirely from hand harvested sugar cane. Its byproduct, blackstrap molasses was fermented and distilled. Aging occurred in American oak barrels for twenty three years. Aromas of grated dark chocolate, toasted hazelnut and date are evident. Dry mission fig, bits of brown sugar, white pepper and continued wisps of hazelnut are present. Another bit of dusty dark chocolate is evident on the long finish. This is an exceptional sipper from the dryer side of the rum spectrum. Kirk and Sweeny 23 has depth, character, length and not a hint of burn on the finish. All of those things make it a pleasure to contemplate and keep on sipping over a long night.</p> Tue, 07 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6908 This premium Cabernet category should be on your radar Michelle Williams <p>No doubt when Spanish conquistador Pedro Gutierrez de Valdivia founded the city of Santiago in 1541, he was not thinking of viticulture. However, today the Maipo and Colchagua Valleys produce some of the finest Bordeaux influenced wines in the world. Chile gained its independence from Spain in the early 1800&rsquo;s, by mid-century the Chilean economy was booming due to mining, and wealthy Chileans began traveling back and forth to Europe. These travels expanded Chileans taste for French food and wine. Prior to the phylloxera outbreak of 1855, Chileans began importing French vines from Bordeaux to grow Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. The success of these vines put Maipo Valley on the world&rsquo;s wine radar, resulting in Chile being known as the &ldquo;Bordeaux of South America.&rdquo;<br /> Maipo Valley takes the lead in producing high quality Bordeaux style wines. Maipo experiences an ideal Mediterranean climate, similar to Napa Valley, with hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters, and both regions struggle to meet their vineyard irrigation needs. Maipo, like Napa Valley, offers ideal growing conditions for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, both of which are used in Bordeaux style blends. Within the northern area of Maipo Valley lies Alto Maipo, containing Puente Alto, also known as the Pauillac of Chile. Pauillac arguably contains the best terroir in Bordeaux, and certainly the best in the Medoc. Three of the top five first growth Premier Cru ch&acirc;teaux (Ch&acirc;teau Latour, Ch&acirc;teau Lafite Rothschild, and Ch&acirc;teau Mouton Rothschild) are located in Pauillac. Similarly, Puente Alto is considered the best growing region for Cabernet Sauvignon in Chile, with three of the top producers located here. The vineyards range in elevation between 1,200 to 2,500 feet. These hillside vineyards receive ideal sun exposure and grow in mineral rich, rocky alluvial soil allowing for proper drainage.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Located slightly south of Maipo Valley lies Colchagua Valley. Colchagua experiences the same Mediterranean climate as Maipo with some variations. According to Aurelio Montes Sr, Colchagua Valley receives &ldquo;morning fog, winter rain (double of Maipo) but no rain in the summer, and cooler temperatures.&rdquo; Irrigation is also an issue in Colchagua resulting in some wineries, such as Montes, practice dry farming the vineyards. Aurelio Montes Jr describes Colchagua Valley as &ldquo;one of the most privileged valleys in Chile and in the world to produce Cabernet Sauvignon. It&rsquo;s is a very diverse area where you can find many different terroirs, altitudes and the coastal influence of the Pacific Ocean which produces many different styles of Cabernet. And the good news is that all of them have an exceptional quality.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Wine journalist Amanda Barnes, a specialist in the region, adds further insight into Maipo and Colchagua Valleys:<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;Colchagua and Maipo share many characteristics - both are in the warmer central valleys of Chile and can have a mountain influence in vineyards closer to the Andes. Colchagua can also have a coastal influence in certain regions, but most of the Cabernet comes from the warmer spots further inland. There is a lot of diversity within the wine regions, but if we take two of the most acclaimed Cabernet Sauvignon micro regions from each region - Apalta in Colchagua and Puente Alto in Maipo - we can draw some stylistic comparisons. Apalta Colchagua Cabernet tends to have red and black fruits like black cherries, plums and blackberries with a round and full body, sweet tannins and a warm tobacco note. Puente Alto has gravel soils which naturally lower the vigor of the vines making rich, concentrated grapes. Puente Alto Maipo Cabernet almost always has bright cassis aromas with a herbal note and expressions of graphite and licorice, the tannins are more defined, but elegant, and there is a more marked acidity. You&rsquo;ll also find the vintage has a bigger impact in Maipo Cabernets whereas Colchagua tends to be a bit more consistent year on year.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Chile was geographically created to produce high quality wine. Its wine production regions are ideally located between 27 degrees and 40 degrees south. Furthermore, Chile is in many ways like an island because it is surrounded by natural boarders: Pacific Ocean to the west, Andes Mountains to the east, Atacama Desert to the north, and the glaciers of Patagonia to the south. These borders offered Chile natural protection from the phylloxera outbreak that spread across the globe in the 19th century. Because phylloxera has not affected Chilean vines many of the vines are 30+ years old and un-grafted. Some of the newer vines are being planted on grafted rootstock as a precaution for the future. This is confirmed by Michel Friou, winemaker of Almaviva, as he explains &ldquo;the older [Almaviva] vineyards planted in 1978 are un-grafted; however, the new vineyards planted in 2001 were grafted to avoid any problems with phylloxera in the future.&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> If you are unfamiliar with Chilean Cabernet Sauvignons why should you forgo your next Napa Valley or Bordeaux purchase to opt for a Chilean Cabernet instead?&nbsp; Chile offers Cabernet Sauvignon at its best. It produces a luxurious Cabernet Sauvignon that is full bodied with rich yet supple tannins. Michel Friou explains the Chilean terroir &ldquo;helps the grapes reach their optimal ripeness without losing freshness. The wine combines complexity, opulence and freshness of fruit, with precision, finesse, purity and elegance. The quality of its tannins, smooth and silky, firm and present but always accessible, is probably its main distinctive mark.&rdquo; When asked about the lack of wine regulations in Chile, Aurelio Montes Sr replied, &ldquo;We want good wine not good laws. We (Chilean winemakers) are able to build the best wines&hellip;to suit the modern palate.&rdquo; Both men speak of the role of the winemaker in producing high quality Chilean wines. Montes Sr said, &ldquo;Chile is paradise to grow grapes. The soil is a perfect balance for Cabernet. Add the love of the winemaker and their skill to choose the right parcels and correct barrels&rdquo; and you have great wine. Montes Sr believes in a winemaking philosophy of the less intervention the better, let the terroir speak through the wine. Friou shared a similar sentiment, &ldquo;Although much is done in Chile to offer more diversity of varieties and new grape origins, the Cabernet Sauvignon is still the most widespread variety planted in Chile (around one-third), the most used and most well-known Chilean grape, successfully managed in the vineyard on appropriate soils and terroirs since a rather long time, the variety on which the Chilean winemakers have clearly the highest knowledge and experience, used on its own or harmoniously blended with other Bordeaux varieties to offer a perfect balance in mouth. A real and safe experience for Cabernet Sauvignon lovers!&rdquo;<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Here are six high quality Chilean Cabernet Sauvignons to begin your exploration.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Vi&ntilde;a Almaviva Puente Alto Chile</strong></a> ($140): This Bordeaux style blend was crafted of 65%&nbsp; , 24% Carmenere, 8% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot, and 1% Merlot; clear deep ruby; clean medium+ aromas of cherries, blackberries, cranberries, black raspberries, sweet spice notes, cocoa, fresh tobacco leaves, licorice, minerals, eucalyptus, damp underbrush, leather; dry medium+ acidity and tannins create a beautifully balanced wine with silky tannins after a two hour decant, loads of elegantly concentrated flavors wrap the palate in a full-body wine with a long spicy and toasted walnut finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Santa Rita Casa Real Maipo Valley Chile</strong></a> ($70): 100% Cabernet Sauvignon; clear deep ruby with garnet hues; clean medium+ aromas of cherries, blackberries, currants, plums, fresh violets, sweet spices, black pepper, eucalyptus, minerality, fresh tobacco; a beautifully balanced wine of medium+ acidity and tannins that offer a silky and elegant mouth-feel; full body and finish; though this wine is sophisticated it is still young; it will continue to evolve with proper cellaring for years.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2010 Cousi&ntilde;o-Macul Lota Maipo Valley Chile</strong></a> ($85): 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot; clear deep garnet with ruby hues; clean medium+ aromas of ripe dark cherries, blackberries, black raspberries, currants, cassis, graphite, dried violets, green vegetal notes, sweet spice, licorice, dark cocoa; pronounced acidity, medium+ tannins that are dusty and create a warm mouth-feel, layers of flavors and textures continue to develop as wine opens, round and well-structured this full body wine offers a long, tart and earthy finish; incredible food wine.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2013 Concha Y Toro Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon Puente Alto Chile</strong></a> ($125): 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc; clear medium+ garnet with ruby hues; clean pronounced aromas of cherries, blackberries, plums, sweet baking spices, herbaceous, white pepper, dark chocolate, cassis, roasted espresso beans, damp tobacco leaves, smoke, dusty earth and minerality; dry medium acidity and high tannins on the palate, concentrated with layers of flavors and texture that envelope the palate in pure pleasure, though tannins are high they are silky smooth and lush creating a full body wine with a long, dazzling finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2012 Montes Alpha M Red Wine Colchagua Valley Chile</strong></a> ($98): 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot; clear deep ruby; clean medium aromas of bright red fruit and black fruit, dried savory herbs highlighted by eucalyptus, sweet spice, fresh tobacco, dried rose petals, smoke, red licorice, dusty earth; medium+ acidity, tannins, body, and finish; elegant and masculine, silky and round on the palate; well balanced and structured.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>2011 VIK Millahue Apalta Colchagua Valley Chile</strong></a> ($140): 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Carmenere, 7% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, and 4% Syrah; clear deep garnet with ruby hues; clean medium+ aromas of cherries, strawberries, raspberries, plums, sweet spice, dark chocolate, dried tobacco, black pepper, dried red floral notes; bold and juicy on the palate, a modern style wine that is well-structured with balanced medium+ aromas and tannins that feel like crushed velvet on the palate; full-bodied with loads of flavor and a long pleasing juicy finish; a real crowd pleaser.</p> Tue, 07 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6907 Aromatic Whites are New Zealand’s Secret Star Gabe Sasso <p>When you spend more than two weeks in a place you soak in a lot about it. Taste all the wine you want at home, but there&rsquo;s simply no substitute for standing in the dirt where the wine is grown or for tasting it alongside those who shepherd it into existence. These things are certainly true of a recent trip I took to New Zealand, which saw me crisscrossing the country and spending time on the ground in several regions. What surprised me most of all about my time there is probably what will surprise most wine lovers. We&rsquo;ve known about New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for a long time. The Pinot Noir has earned a reputation over the last decade as well. But what wasn&rsquo;t obvious to me until I got to New Zealand was the dizzying array of top shelf aromatic whites.<br /> Whether your interests fall to Riesling, Viognier, Gew&uuml;rztraminer, Pinot Gris, Albari&ntilde;o, or even Gr&uuml;ner Veltliner, there are well-made examples to be had. Upon arriving in New Zealand I attended an Aromatics Symposium. I was duly impressed with numerous wines I sampled, but that was just the beginning. As I travelled the country over two and a half weeks I came across other terrific aromatics all over New Zealand. In warm, secluded Gisborne I had the opportunity to taste with Nick Nobilo and James Millton among others. Nobilo is incredibly dedicated to one variety, Gew&uuml;rztraminer. Millton is leading the charge in biodynamic farming and producing reference quality Chenin Blanc and Viognier to name but two. In Marlborough Astrolabe&rsquo;s Simon Waghorn is impressing with Pinot Gris, Albari&ntilde;o, and more. Central Otago is certainly best known for Pinot Noir but they also have folks like Duncan Forsyth at Mt. Edward who is producing remarkable Riesling.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> The overall scope of New Zealand wine abounds with a diversity of flavors and styles. When you visit and experience the varying soil types, landscapes and climatic conditions it becomes apparent why they can successfully grow such a myriad of different grapes. There&rsquo;s more than enough excellent Sauvignon Blanc to quench the world&rsquo;s thirst, plenty of Pinot Noir to share and an awful lot of hearty reds comprised of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah worth noting. But if you make the mistake of overlooking the aromatic white wines you&rsquo;d be missing out on a category that New Zealand is nailing in regions throughout this diverse country. They&rsquo;re under the radar now, but they won&rsquo;t be forever. Here are some wines to seek out.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Askerne 2015 Viognier</strong></a> ($14)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This lovely Viognier shows off white peach and lychee on the nose. The somewhat weighty palate has a continuing array of stone fruits buttressed by a fine core of spices. Yellow melon, minerals and hints of toast are evident on the substantial finish. Viognier can often be extreme; either too gaudy or conversely too austere. Here&rsquo;s a tasty example that wins the day by flying right down the middle.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Greenhough 2015 Hope Vineyard Riesling</strong></a> ($15)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Sometimes you taste a wine and you need a moment with it; this was one of those times. I tasted a handful of exciting examples of Riesling in New Zealand; this was as good as any of them and better than most. Bits of linseed oil and subtle yellow fruit inform the nose. The palate shows off granny smith and yellow delicious apple as well as white peach. Spices, minerals and wisps of lemon zest dot the prodigiously long finish. Most striking here is the wonderful tension between fruit and firm, zippy acid. If you love Riesling, find this bottle.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Terrace Edge 2016 Pinot Gris</strong></a> ($17)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Vanilla and apricot aromas lead the nose here. The palate is stuffed with Anjou pear, yellow peach and an array of spices. Good weight and restrained fruit steal the show here. Mineral notes lead the finish and crisp acid keeps everything in check.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Nautilus 2016 Pinot Gris</strong></a> ($20)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Orchard fruit aromatics are buoyed by spice notes. There&rsquo;s a burst of pure fruit that dominates the palate; Anjou pear and white peach dominate. The unctuous finish is loaded with continued spices, more fruit and just a hint of mesquite honey. Mouthwatering acid provides structure.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Greywacke 2015 Pinot Gris</strong></a> ($20)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Hints of petrol peak out from the nose here. Candied lemon, spices and oodles of minerals are evident from the first sip through the long finish. Terrific structure, length and persistence of flavor throughout are hallmarks of this wonderful offering.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Coopers Creek 2015 SV Bell-Ringer Albari&ntilde;o</strong></a> ($20)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> Of the myriad aromatic whites that are flourishing in New Zealand, Albari&ntilde;o is a particularly interesting case. It hasn&rsquo;t been a traditional grape there, but it appears it&rsquo;s about to have its moment. Winemakers I spend time with in several regions are confident it can flourish and offer a counterpoint to Sauvignon Blanc that retains some similarities and offers crossover food pairing possibilities. Wisps of jalapeno and petrol are evident on the fascinating nose. Pear and peach flavors dominate the palate along with bits of spice. A lovely salinity emerges on the above average finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Te Whare Ra 2016 SV5182 Gew&uuml;rztraminer</strong></a> ($22)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> An intense nose loaded with pineapple aromas leads things off here. The palate here has deeply layered flavors, but ultimately it&rsquo;s light on the tongue offering a beautiful duality. Peach and apricot flavors dominate alongside wisps of toasted hazelnut. The lengthy finish has a bit of a honeyed edge to it and a dollop of spices.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Millton Vineyards &amp; Winery 2015 Chenin Blanc</strong></a> ($22)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This fruit is from their Te Arai Vineyard. Lemon and lime zest are both evident on the nose along with hints of lychee. Apricot, pear and nutmeg spice are apparent on the palate. Salinity, continued spices and stone fruit flavors mark the memorable finish. Racy acid and a wonderful mouthfeel are two characteristics that set this Chenin Blanc apart. This is a lovely wine from a noteworthy producer.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Astrolabe 2016 Chenin Blanc</strong></a> ($24)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This Marlborough Chenin Blanc is a fine example of the variety. Lychee, vanilla, citrus zest and orchard fruits are all in play on the nose. The deeply layered palate shows off peach, apricot, granny smith apple and spice notes. Bits of lemon curd and a finely ground mineral component are both in play on the substantial finish. This is one of those wines it&rsquo;s difficult to put down once you take a sip.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Mount Edward 2016 Riesling</strong></a> ($25)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> &ldquo;Jesus Drank Riesling,&rdquo; that&rsquo;s the motto at Mount Edward. The truth is I&rsquo;m not sure if he did or not, but if it was as tasty and proportionate as what Mount Edward bottles, he surely would have. The nose here is loaded with lemon zest, hints of vanilla and subtle stone fruits. Flavors of grapefruit, peach, white pepper and more dominate the palate. The mineral laced finish is long, lingering and pure.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Spy Valley 2014 Envoy Johnson Vineyard Dry Riesling</strong></a> ($45)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This Riesling leads with an impressively expressive nose. Green papaya and white pepper are both in evidence. The weight palate shows off fleshy yellow melon, peach and a firm core of spices. Bits of flint, continuing spices and hints of lemon zest are all in play on the impressive finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <br /><br /> <a href=""><strong>Vinoptima 2004 Reserve Gew&uuml;rztraminer</strong></a> ($56)<br /><br /> <br /><br /> This library release showcases the age worthy nature of the wines Nick Nobilo is producing on his property in Gisborne. At 13 years old the color doesn&rsquo;t belie the age one bit. From the first whiff to the last sip this Gew&uuml;rztraminer is fresh, vibrant and alive. The welcoming nose is stuffed with apricot and lychee to name a few. The intense palate is deeply layered with wave after wave of intense fruit flavors. Bits of pineapple, spice and wisps of mesquite honey are evident on the impossibly long finish. This impeccably grown, produced and aged Gew&uuml;rztraminer is made in a style that is opulent and lavish but never over the top. To describe this wine in another way, wow!</p> Fri, 03 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6906 Snooth's Spirit of the Week is... Gabe Sasso <p>The craft Bourbon movement has been in full swing for a number of years now. In addition to a bevy of interesting products, many of these small producers have compelling stories as well. You can count the Belle Meade Bourbons from Nelson&rsquo;s Green Brier Distillery among their number. In downtown Nashville brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson found a unique spot to resurrect the Whiskey business founded by their great-great-great grandfather in the mid 1800&rsquo;s. Nelson&rsquo;s Green Brier Distillery was family run from that time until State enforced Prohibition shut it down in 1909. It not only introduced Tennessee Whiskey to the world but in those years it was also the largest producer of Whiskey in the state. More than 100 years later the Nelson brothers re-opened it as a small batch producer whose specialty is special cask finished Bourbons.<br /> In addition to those Special Cask Finished Bourbons their current portfolio includes a White Whiskey ($20) and straight Bourbon ($35). I tasted through all three of their cask finished offerings and I was hard pressed to pick a favorite. I found each of them to be distinct and appealing in its own right. In the Single Malt Scotch World Glenmorangie is one of many producers that are well regarded for special cask finished offerings. At their heart, these releases from the Nelson brothers brought those to mind for me; here&rsquo;s a look at that trio.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Belle Meade Bourbon Cognac Cask Finish ($75)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> The Bourbon barrels selected for this offering had a 30% Rye content. Chosen Barrels also had 6-9 years of age on them prior to entering their secondary aging vessels. They were finished in French Limousin Oak that previously contained XO Cognac that aged in them for 12 years.&nbsp; Vanilla, tangerine zest, and a potpourri of spices leap from the nose. The delicate leaning palate shows off black tea, brown sugar and toasted pecan. Toasty oak, vanilla and bits of honey are all in evidence on the persistent and complex finish.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Belle Meade Bourbon Madeira Cask Finish ($75)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> Belle Meade bourbons with six and nine years of age on them were placed in used Madeira casks for additional aging. Bits of praline, Mexican vanilla bean, and ripe fig burst from the nose. The substantial palate shows off toasted mixed nuts, red fruits, dates, and burnt brown sugar. Baking spices, dark chocolate, and mesquite honey are all part of the noteworthy finish here.<br /><br /> <br /><br /> <strong>Belle Meade Bourbon Sherry Cask Finish ($75)</strong><br /><br /> <br /><br /> This limited release 9 year old Bourbon was finished in Oloroso Sherry Casks brought over from Spain. The Nelsons chose small quantities of barrels from their reserve stock to create this expression. From the first whiff to the last sip this is distinct and impressive Bourbon. Toasted nuts and wisps of tobacco inform the nose. Bits of rum raisin, toast are in evidence on the palate alongside mission fig and date notes. Leather, spices, hints of chocolate, and a touch pf caramel are all present on the long, warm finish.</p> Tue, 28 Feb 2017 00:00:00 -0500 article6898