Category Archives: wineries

Wine Blogging Wednesday #40: Petite Sirah

Peirano Estate Petite SirahLovely Wine Blogging Wednesday, you are everything I ever wanted homework to be: only slightly challenging, involving some field research and ultimately delicious. Why did I pick The Bell Jar for my senior research paper, and not Petite Sirah? Thanks to host Sonadora at Wannabe Wino for a great idea for this month’s tasting, and to Lenn Thompson at Lenndevours for inventing this virtual tasting that brings the wine blogosphere together every month.

I found this Peirano Estate Vineyards “Heritage Collection” Petite Sirah 2005 at Grapevine Market, where it was one of a 6 bottle discounted case I bought, so I got it for $12.59. Tasted with carnitas on brown rice with sides of acorn squash mashed with gorgonzola and cornbread baked in a poblano cup.

Inky maroon in color. On the nose, mint is very strong, but not as strong as the waves of blueberry jam pouring off of it. There’s some coffee there at the end too, but really this is all about the minty blueberry madness. The palate presents juicy, sweet blackberry fruit, roundly passive tannins and a dark chocolate finish of medium length. This is a fairly rich wine, not flabby but certainly chubby. Continue reading

Tasting Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs 2003

Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs 03Shazam! Love it. Guzzled before Thanksgiving dinner.

Straw yellow in the glass with pinpoint bubbles. Nose is yeasty/bready, with lemon, green apple, vanilla and orange blossom scents. Decadence! On that palate, it’s very clean with a sharp tart lemon and some granny smith apple. There’s a hint of bread dough, which persists on the palate and develops into a yeasty bite on the finish. Refreshing but complex; very well balanced and delicious.

You can not go wrong with sparkling wine, my friends! It pairs with everything, including eggs, and even cheers up Eeyore. Gloria Ferrer is one of my favorite California sparkling houses; you can’t beat them for classy bubbly at a temptingly reasonable price.

Did I ever tell you about the time in the Virgin Islands when I was invited to some long-time residents’ traditional Christmas Day Champagne Brunch, in which every guest had to bring a bottle of bubbly? Great food, great wine… and that was the day I learned that 5 bottles of sparkling wine is too many. (I learned this valuable lesson that afternoon and late into the evening as I lay on the bathroom floor of my apartment, waiting for the plumbing to stop swirling around me.) It’s good to know how much is too much, and now I know to stop at four bottles of bubbly. Heed my warning, gentle reader: stop at four.

Gloria Ferrer the person is married to Jose Ferrer, whose family owns the honkin’ huge cava house Freixenet. Evidently Jose and Gloria vacationed in Sonoma in the 80s and liked what they saw, so they founded the first sparkling wine house in Carneros in 1986. The winery has a strong emphasis on research; they seem to have spent lots of time finding just the right clones of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for their 335 acres of vineyards. They make still wine now, too, though I’ve never tried it.

To reiterate, I think Gloria Ferrer makes some of the classiest California sparklers you can buy for the money. There is other Cali bubbly I enjoy and admire enormously, but when I want to drink a $14.76 bottle that fizzes like I dropped $30, GF is my BFF, for sure.

Tasting Yalumba Y Series Shiraz-Viognier 2006

Picked this one up as a 6th wine to round out my discounted half-case at Grapevine Market for about $10.50. I’m a huge fan of this varietal combination, so I was curious to see what a Yalumba would do with it.

yalumba shiraz viognierDeep purpley-red in the glass. Whopper of a nose with blackberry, roasted meats, a powdery floral note like perfumed dusting powder, slight tar and some menthol. Lots going on in the olfactory realm here; I love that top note that Viognier gives to Shiraz when they blend, and this had it, though not in spades. On the tongue there was some tart cherry or unripe blackberry, with some tarry or possibly graphite notes. The mid-palate was rather lacking here, but not a bad wine for the money at all.

Deb’s Key West Wine & Gardening blog reviewed the 2005 Yalumba Shiraz-Viognier, quite favorably, and What To Drink Tonight liked the 2004 as well, so you can see that this is a pretty reliable producer, year to year.

Yalumba bills itself as Australia’s oldest family owned winery, and I must say I’ve always been quite impressed with their price-quality ratio. Founded in 1849 by English brewer Samuel Smith in the Barossa Valley, the name of the winery means “all the land around” in the one of the aboriginal languages. Evidently Yalumba was the first to commercially plant Viognier in Australia, in 1980. I do like their Y Series Viognier, which is from the Eden Valley, and is a great value.

The practice of blending red Syrah and white Viognier to make one wine comes from the Cote Rotie, in the northern Rhone Valley in France. The Cote Rotie region is famous for some of the world’s finest Syrah bottlings, and wine laws there allow for up to 20% of the red wine to be Viognier. Check Wine Library TV’s review of 4 Cote Roties here.  In practice these days, most Cote Roties are 100% Syrah; but I must say I dearly love how Viognier can act as a Wonder-Bra for Syrah, lifting and separating, as it were, the Syrah’s floral components, while adding its own rich floral element. There’s something very yin-yang about these two grapes, and I’ll make jump into that tao every chance I get.

Yes, Ma’am

Praxis ViognierWhen the Doctor tells me to eat takeout, I don’t ask questions. I just scamper my way on down to Pao’s Mandarin House and pick me up some Three Cup Chicken, because that is the SHIT, my friends. Can I get a witness? Testify!

The other night I was sitting on the couch with my sweetie, and he had a craving for the brie we had in the fridge. I was reading Spittoon’s post on how well Sauvignon Blanc does with cheese, and thought, I wonder how that Praxis Viognier I have the the fridge would go with this? So I poured myself a glass, lickety-split, took a bite of Brie, and sipped some Viognier. Gentle Reader, listen closely: Never. Do. This. Oh, lawsy me, stay away from this evil combination of flavors!

Poor Praxis Viognier; it’s not your fault I wasn’t using my noggin. I finished the glass, wondering what I’d pair it with that might actually work, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t had any Pao’s in a while. Hmm…

Thus it felt like Fate had slapped me upside the head when I read Good Wine Under $20 the next afternoon and saw that Dr. Debs was recommending takeout as a way to treat oneself right during the holidays. AND she was recommending Viognier with non-incindiery Asian food! I was suddenly On A Mission From God. Continue reading

Tasting Bogle Phantom 2004

Bogle PhantomI kept this one Halloween wine back from my series at Eternal Vigilance (sorry Gaby!) and saved it for my own Halloween posting. I just love those Bogle wines so darned much! No matter what Bogle bottle I’ve turned someone onto, I’ve never had a bad reaction – not even lukewarm. It’s value, it’s well-made, it’s family owned, it’s tasty goodness fashure, youbetcha.

Red-black in color. Aromas of vanilla and toasty oak, with plum and blackberry jam. Palate hurls bing cherry, dark chocolate, pepper, tar and some slight graphite at your tongue, in a good way. Medium-to-long finish of dark savory flavors. This wine is one of the pricier offerings from Bogle, running around $18.

The Bogles have been a farming family since the 1800s. In 1968, Chris Bogle and his father Warren planted wine grapes in Clarksburg, California. Ten years later they started making wine from it. After Chris passed away, his widow Patty Bogle, who had been working the vineyard since the 70s, took over operations at the winery in 1989. Their son Warren manages the vineyards and his sister Judy manages customer affairs at the winery. Glad I don’t have to work that closely with my family, and really glad it works so well for them!

The flagship wine from Bogle has always been their Petite Sirah, though they also make a very popular Old Vine Zinfandel. Also their Chenin Blanc is to die for. And the Phantom. And they make a hell of a porch wine Chardonnay. Don’t stop till you get enough…

Patty is really a pioneer and official stump speaker for Petite Sirah in California, and has been pushing PS since back when people thought the “petite” meant it was a light little wine. Ha! She was given a Phenomenal Service Award by the organization PS I Love You for her work as Chair for the Petite Sirah Heritage Clone Vineyard (HCV) at UC Davis, and because she kicks ass in general, I figure.

Have a Happy Hallowe’en!

Tasting Tuesday at Specs Brodie Lane

Another fun time was had by all at Specs’ Tasting Tuesday at the Brodie Lane store this last Tuesday. This time I attended with a friend, which increased my enjoyment enormously — what is it about being alone in a crowd that makes you feel, well, alone in a crowd?

To remind you of what this scene is about: Specs holds this Tasting Tuesday event on the second Tuesday of every month at their Brodie Lane & William Cannon store.  For $10 you get a Reidel tasting glass and you get one ounce pours of 20 different wines that Specs has priced on sale that night only.  The event runs from 5:30 to 8, if I recall correctly.

This month they had some of the same (mostly local) food vendors providing samples, but the Specs deli was also passing hors d’ourves, like duck liver pate on crackers, sushi rolls with krab and wasabi cream sauce, grilled pork tenderloin with lovely apricot goo on french rounds, herbed goat cheese, and chopped duck & raspberry something on crackers. Tasty comestibles; I must say that I’ve purchased food at the deli before and I was very satisfied. Continue reading

Event: Tuesday Class at Lake Travis Wine Trader

What an interesting, impressive tasting, led by Micheal Lunceford of Ambiente, a smaller distributer here in Austin with a lovely portfolio. They represent Kermit Lynch here in the region, and if Micheal is any indication, they do so flawlessly.

Lake Travis Wine Trader supplied tasty nibbles to go with this wine class, which included tastes of 6 wines for $30, the median bottle price being $43. This is an excellent value for a tasting, in my opinion; usually a tasting will run $20-25 and you’ll taste 4 or 6 wines that are all in the mere $20 range, which is also interesting, but what I enjoy about the LTWT is that these people have super-expensive tastes! Them and me, we totally get that. There’s a regular group of Tuesday tasters, but they were surprisingly friendly and inclusive, considering how well they all seemed to know each other. Don’t be afraid that if you attend one of these classes alone, you’ll have no one to talk to. Continue reading

Tasting Domaine Chandon Pinot Meunier 2005

Why does a sparkling wine house make a still Pinot Meunier? As a curiousity, or to help wine people teach about varietals? The latter is always my secret theory. It could also be that someone in the winery is freaked-out-in-love with the varietal, seeking to champion it like Paul Draper did with Zinfandel. From what Domaine Chandon says on their website, the grape grows so well for them in Carneros (one of the few places it’s grown other than France), that they just had to make a stand-alone wine from it.

Pinot Meunier, the grapePinot Meunier is a red grape that is used to blend into Champagne and sparkling wines, like Pinot Noir is. Most Champagnes, white or rose, are blends, with the exception of Blanc de Blancs, which is made exclusively from Chardonnay. Rose Champagnes, though, are blends of white and rose juice from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. It’s generally agreed that Pinot Meunier is a mutation of Pinot Noir, a grand dame of a grape with slutty, mutant ways; Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and even Gamay are also thought to be mutations of Matron Momma Noir. Continue reading

Tasting Tormaresca Masseria Maime 2001

Say that five times fast, right? To go for the easy joke, this wine with a mouthful of a name was a real mouthful. (Ba-dum-bump.) Tasted at Lake Travis Wine Trader at one of their Tuesday wine classes, led that week by the exceptionally knowedgeable AJ Hernadez of Republic National Distributing.

Maime LabelAlmost black in color, and nearly opaque. Intensely nutty, gamy nose of tar, amaretto, prune, currant and black pepper. One of those noses that is hard to quantify because it’s so monolithic — you can pick away (at the nose, haha) and capture aspects of it in words, but largely it smells like… its rich, powerful self. I guess Fitzgerald was right: the rich are different from you and me; they’re difficult to describe.

Presents an earthy, chewy palate; not super-fruity in its plumminess, but rich and meaty. There is a scratch of tannin in the velvety texture, like cut glass beads on a plush pillow. Parker, as he gave this wine a 91, recommended that it be drunk between 2006 and 2015. I think we’re still on the early side, but heavens we’re getting there! Continue reading

Tasting Champalou Vouvray Sec 2005

What an delightful wine. Tasted at Cork & Co., a downtown wine bar, as part of an excellent French wine flight, I was blown away by this Vouvray. I had never heard of the producer until I looked them up as part of this post, and I will definitely be looking for their wines again!

Champalou VouvrayPale gold in color. When cold, I detected very pronounced apricot on the nose with some hints of orange blossom. As the wine warmed up, the scent of honey was unmistakable and intense.

There was a peachy sweetness on the palate that was offset by a hint of bitterness and strong minerality, creating an overall marmalade flavor. I was fascinated how the attack (the first flavors detected upon taking the wine in my mouth) was sweet, but then the flavors hit this wall of mineral, which stopped all the sugar but allowed my palate to pass through unscathed. The flavors all but disappeared after the “sugar wall,” leaving my palate seduced and then refreshed and clean, with only a lingering hint of unsweet honey muskiness to show for my swallow. Continue reading