As evident by a couple posts last week, we are fans of out of the ordinary blends. Today's post highlights another one of our favorites. Shoofly's Buzz Cut blends Riesling, Verdelho, Viognier, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to make an easy drinking white blend that we really enjoy.The winemaker at Shoofly is Ben Riggs. He is a rising star in the world of winemaking. (Read a great article about him here
.) He is also the winemaker for another wonderful winery we hope to blog about soon, Zonte's Footsteps. One thing that I love about him is that he has a true passion for blending. He also leads supports Shoofly's motto: no flabby wines, no raisins and leave the oak for the trees! Shoofly's Buzz Cut exemplifies the wineries values as well as Riggs' love of blending. He seamlessy blends 5 grapes that are not common with each other in the wine blend world. They strive to make vibrant wines which show bright fruit. Buzz Cut does just this. Riesling, Viognier and Verdelho are the three predominant varietals in Buzz Cut. The great thing about this blend is that you taste the specific notes of each varietal. In terms of the Riesling, there are underlying notes of honey throughout along with tropical fruits. Viognier lends its aromatics on the nose along with peach and apricot fruits on the palate. Verdelho balances the fruit with bright acidity and its lingering citrus notes. Finished with a touch of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, this blend creates a great wine at a tremendous value that is a must try.On a side note, you also have to try
Shoofly's highly rated Shiraz.Shoofly Buzz Cut in a Nutshell:Description: 37% Riesling, 32% Viognier, 21% Verdelho, 5% Chardonnay, 5% Sauvignon Blanc. Floral notes combined with that of Peach on the Nose. A Combination of Melon and Apricot on the palate with light hints of honey. Zippy lemon notes paired with bright acid round out this great blend.Food Pairings: Combination of Riesling and viognier make this wine extremely versatile. You could have this alongside anything from a Veggie crudite to spicy Hispanic or Thai dishes.Vintage/Price: The current vintage is 2008. The price is right around $10 on most shelves. I have seen it marked at $9.99 all the way to $14. It is tremendous value at $9.99 and still well worth the latter.For more information about Buzz Cut and other Shoofly wines including their wonderful Shiraz, Please go to: Shoofly Wines
Garnacha (Grenache in France) has long been known as a workhouse grape. It was always thought of as a low quality varietal that was only useful in blends. Because of this, it was at one time the most planted red grape in both France and Spain. Nowadays, Garnacha or Grenache, is starting to see a rejuvenation.
In Spain, there are 3 clone varietals of Garnacha as well. There is the more common Garnacha Tinta. Garnacha Peluda ("Hairy Grenache") is the varietal that is widely planted in Priorat. It is named because their leaves have a fuzzy, soft texture. Another clone is Garnacha Tintorera.
Garnacha Tintorera is a hybrid of Grenache and Petit Bouschet. It is widely planted in Southeastern Spain. You will also see smatterings of plantings in Portugal, France as well as California. A fun fact, Garnacha Tintorera or Alicante Bouschet, as it is also known, was extremely popular in the United States during prohibition. Thanks to the grapes thick skin, it was easy to get fermentable juice from and it also transported well.
What I like about Garnacha from Spain is that is a wine that usually shows great fruit but it is still a dryer wine. It is very versatile to different palates. Honoro Vera is no different in this regard. It shows great notes of juicy plums and sweet berries on the palate. It is not very tannic either. Even though it shows great fruit, it is not sweet. This is highlighted by the touch of pepper on the finish.
Overall, it is an extremely enjoyable red wine. It is not an extremely complex wine but that is what is great about Garnacha. It does not try to be something that it isn't. I think Garnacha's are some of the best value wines on the market today. Honoro Vera is no different as you can find it on the shelves for $8 to $10. That is an absolute steal!Honoro Vera Garnacha in a Nutshell:Description: 100% Garnacha. Great fruit on the nose of cherry and blackberry. Fruit is extremely evident on the palate with notes of juicy plums and currants. This is all balanced out by a touch of pepper on the finish. Extremely easy to drink, fruitful red wine that is not sweet.Food Pairings: Versatile red wine that can compliment a variety of dishes. I have it enjoyed it with a ribeye steak off the grill as well as a goat cheese stuffed ravioli in meat sauce.Vintage/Price: The current vintage is 2011. The wine is great but the price is even better. An absolute robbery at $9.99 on most shelves.For more information about Honoro Vera and other wines of Bodegas Ateca, please vist: Oro Wines
A few years ago, I was in a big Pinot Gris phase. Whenever I needed to bring a bottle of white wine to a gathering, it was my go to. These days, I have changed my choice to its' step-brother, Pinot Blanc.
Pinot Blanc has similar DNA to Pinot Gris. They are both mutations of Pinot Noir. They were both first grown in Burgundy. There production spread to regions like Alto Adige in Italy (It is known as Pinot Bianco there) as well as Alsace in France. Wherever Pinot Noir thrvies, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris will as well. When you think of Pinot Noir is the States, Oregon is usually the first thought that comes to mind. Oregon should be at top of mind with Pinot Blanc as well.
Pinot Blanc has been around in Oregon since the late 1960's. It has remained consistent in plantings and production. It has not gained mainstream popularity because it tends to carry a higher price tag due to limited production. There are only about 200 acres planted in Oregon. What merits the higher price for Oregon Pinot Blanc than say California? That answer is simple...Oregon Pinot Blanc is actual Pinot Blanc. It was brought directly from Alsace and verified. California's first smattering of Pinot Blanc was not Pinot Blanc, it was a hybrid grape dubbed "Melon". This was discovered in the 1980's. Nowadays, more and more actual Pinot Blanc
has been planted.In terms of Oregon Pinot Blanc, a perennial favorite of mine has been
from Bethel Heights. It is a family owned winery in Oregon's Willamette Valley that was bought in 1977. A group of friends decided to make a go at turning a passion on theirs into a business. They started with only 14 acres on cuttings in the ground. The vineyard stands on a former walnut grove and many Walnut trees still stand.Their Pinot Blanc is
always consistent. The 2011 vintage is no different. It has great notes of lemon zest on the nose mixed with a touch of spice. It has a wonderful complexity on the palate with more hints of citrus as well as apple and pear. The fruit is balanced with a bit more acidity than in years past but I love what it brings to this vintage. Overall, it is a wonderful example of what Pinot Blanc should be.Bethel Heights Pinot Blanc in a Nutshell:Description: 100% Pinot Blanc. Aromatics in the glass are that of Lemon zest with a hint of nutmeg. The palate is highlighted with pear and apple flavors. This wine has a wonderful mouthfeel. This is all brought together with bright acidity on a lengthy finish.Food Pairings: I am a huge fan of Pinot Blanc as a compliment to summer desserts such as Peach Pie. It also makes a wonderful pair with Oysters on the half shell or a big bowl of Mussels in garlic and butter.Vintage/Price: The 2011 vintage is current. You may still be able to find the 2010 vintage on the market. The price is right around the $18-$20 mark.For more information on Bethel Heights Pinot Blanc as well as their other wines, Please go to: Bethel Heights Vineyard
When I began drinking wine many years ago, the only thing I went by was the label. It had to catch my eye for me to pick it up. Animals were my go to. I quickly learned, thanks to my father, that sometimes a creative label was used to coverup a inferior wine. Nowadays, a flashy label will still catch my eye from time to time while I am in shop but I am always a bit skeptical.
A label that caught my eye recently was from Shaya Winery. My wife and I have been loving a new Venezuelan restaurant in town that serves a wonderful Tilapia and Shrimp ceviche. We wanted to try to make it at home and I thought Verdejo would be a perfect pairing. I went to our local shop and glanced around. The first wine that caught my eye was from Shaya. It featured a skinny deer on the label with big ears. My wife came over as I was looking and endorsed the wine thanks to the "cute deer" on the label. I was not familiar with Shaya but it was from Rueda region in Spain, so I figured how bad could it be?
Well, thank goodness the label had a deer on it and it made me pick it up. The wine is absolutely delightful. It turned out to be the perfect pairing for our ceviche. It was the perfect crisp white wine for our dinner that evening. It shows great flavors of grapefruit with a touch of peach. The fruit is balanced by great minerality and bright acidity on the finish. Overall, this wine quickly became a staple on our rack. If you like a crisp white wine and/or fresh seafood, this wine is for you.
I wanted to add a couple fun notes about this wine and verdejo in general. First, the wine is actually named for Shaya near that are native to where the vineyards are in Rueda, Spain. Here is the first couple lines from the bottle:"As the morning mist disperses across the undulating countryside the Shaya deer emerge from the surrounding pine forest to forage. The gnarled vineyards planted a very long time ago in the sandy riverstone soil produce the finest Verdejo in Rueda. There is a distinct minerality in these wines which compliment the abundance of fruit flavors."Second, a fun tasting for you to have with friends is old vine Verdejo vs. new vine Verdejo. The panel will almost certainly be mixed. In my experience, as evident by my liking of Shaya, I prefer old vine. The wines are usually drier, crisper and show more minerality. New vine verdejos tend to be riper and plumper. Either way, old or new, I am a Verdejo fan!Shaya Old Vine Verdejo in a Nutshell:
Description: 100% Verdejo. Pale in the glass with a touch of green. Great fruit on the nose and palate being that of grapefruit and lime. Good minerality throughout. Combine that with bright acidity on the finish and you have surprisingly complex Verdejo.Food Pairings:
Great with any fresh seafood such as shrimp or Scallops. We enjoyed it with a ceviche. Also would be nice with a big bowl of Linguine and White Clam Sauce.Vintage: Current Vintage is 2010. This wine is usually in the $13 to $16 dollar range. Well worth it!For more information on Shaya as well as other Spanish Wines, please visit: Oro Wines
After mentioning a kitchen sink blend in my post yesterday, I immediately thought of a story I heard at a recent tasting. The rep. was pouring La Posta Cocina Tinto. Someone asked what it meant. He said the literal translation of Cocina Tinto is Kitchen Sink Red. The story that I enjoyed though pertained to the brand name.
Translated to English, La Posta means "The Tavern". It represents the tavern that the growers meet at in Mendoza, Argentina to enjoy and discuss the fruits of their labor. The back of each bottle highlights the story:"We have tasted over a thousand wines since we began importing from Argentina. In that time, we have discovered a handful of grape growers whose results in the vineyards with specific varietals have been truly amazing--year in, year out. Our first encounter with many of these growers was at a posta del vinatero, or "tavern of the grape grower". Here they drank wine and spoke passionately for hours about their soils, their vines, and their quest for superior flavors in their grapes. We salute the hard work and skill of these growers by offering these vineyard-designated releases made solely with their special grapes."
In this "kitchen sink" red, the blend is 60% Malbec, 20% Syrah and 20% Bonarda. This blend creates wine that appeases both types of red wine drinkers. For those who want a bolder wine, it is oaked just long enough and it contains enough spice on the palate as well as finish for their taste. For those who prefer their reds to show more fruit, it is extremely evident in this wine at first sip. Overall, it is a easy-drinking red that is an absolute steal at around the $13 price point.
On a side note, I know I have said it before. I believe Bonarda (Charbono
in California) is going to be the new buzz coming out of Argentina in coming years. It is showing extremely well already in wines from Mendoza and I think it will only get better as it becomes more prevalent. Malbec has put Argentina on the map in recent years but I think Bonarda and Torrontes will be taking their wine production to the next level!La Posta Cocina Tinto in a Nutshell:Description: 60% Malbec, 20% Syrah and 20% Bonarda. Great, juicy cherry and blueberry fruits shown throughout. A nice touch of cocoa and coffee to balance the fruit and create a wonderful full-flavored red.
Food Pairings: Perfect for Carne Asada or Steak Fajitas. Versatile wine that would also pair well with a burger or pizza as well.
Vintage/Price: Current Vintage is 2010. Price is a steal at the $13 to $15 mark.
For more information on La Posta and their other wines, please visit: La Posta Vineyards or Vine Connections
So, in general, I am a fan of blends. I think there are grapes that compliment each other well and when blended, can make extraordinary wine. What I am usually not a fan of are "kitchen" sink wines. These are the high production juice blends from companies of the leftovers. I feel as though it takes away from the art of wine-making.So you can imagine what I thought when a friend brought over a bottle of Sokol Blosser's Evolution White from the Willamette Valley in Oregon. I look at the back label and it says:"As luck would have it, a random number of varietals took a liking to each other and decided to become a lush, off-dry, somewhat tropical wine with a crisp finish."If that wasn't enough for my heart to skip a beat, I then find out their are 9 varietals in the wine! 9!?! I calmed down soon after and we sat down to dinner. After a few minutes, oohs and aahs started coming from the table. I decided to put everything aside and give it a whirl. In my head, I was wanting to take a sip, spit it in my glass and push the glass away. The opposite happened.I took a sip and couldn't believe how enjoyable the wine was. It is a nice, everyday white with good tropical fruits. It is not overly sweet but it does have a touch of honey on the finish. It is balanced by just enough acidity.
I don't think luck made this wine as the label implies. It took a lot of time and effort to make 9 grapes work together.It took some research but I think I have cracked the 9 varietal code. It is not on the label or the website. I know that
Muller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris and Riesling are in it because they are grown at Sokol Blosser in Oregon. Also, I believe Semillon
, Muscat Canelli
, Pinot Blanc
are added to the party to make the final product.Wife bonus: The label is printed on recycled paper and the bottle does not have a foil cap. Always have to point out organic, environmentally friendly notes for her!Sokol Blosser Evolution White in a Nutshell:Description: 9 varietal blend. Great tropical fruit on nose and palate. A tad sweet with hints of pear and citrus throughout. The finish is borderline syrupy thanks to a touch of honey but it is balanced well with a bit of acidity.Pairing: Food friendly. Would pair well with a Chipotle BBQ sauce on ribs, chicken, etc. Also would be good with any sushi that is topped with Spicy Mayo! Vintage/Price: This is an edition wine, not a vintage thanks to the blend. It is $15 dollars on the Sokol Blosser's website. I have seen it at Costco and Fine wine shops for $15 to $18.For more information on Evolution White and other wines from Sokol Blosser, please go to: Sokol Blosser Winery.
My wife and I ventured to the great white north earlier this year. Well, it was actually Niagara on the Lake in Ontario, Canada. It is a lovely area and we really enjoy our time there. One of our favorite stops is Konzelmann Estate Winery. It is on Lake Ontario and on a clear day, you can see Toronto across the lake.
Friedrich Konzelmann started a winery in the 1800's in Stuttgart, Germany. After many years, the land became too valuable as Stuttgart grew in population and production became harder and harder. Enter Herbert Konzelmann, the great grandson of Friedrich Konzelmann. He became a part of the winery in 1958. When times got tough, he decided to continue a family tradition of making wine and opened Konzelmann Estate Winery in 1984. Why Canada you may ask? I will let their website answer that question:"Herbert chose the site on the shores of Lake Ontario because of the micro-climate, where the wonderful balance of sun, soil, airflow and moisture conditions are ideal for the production of premium quality wines. The protection provided by the nearby Niagara Escarpment, combined with the moderating influence of the lake, provides a longer growing period for the "noble" Vitis Vinifera vines of Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Chardonnay grapes."
It seems to be a good choice. In 2008, Konzelmann became the first winery to be featured in the Wine Spectator Top 100 list thanks to their delicious Vidal Icewine.Konzelmann has a great tasting room and tour. On top of that, they offer a wide variety of varietals for everyone's tasting pleasure.
One that peaked our interest was their Canada Red. It is made from the Zweigelt grape which is best known in Austria. It is actually named for Dr. Fritz Zweigelt. He created Zweigelt by crossing St. Laurent
Zweigelt tends to be a spicy red with strong tannins. Konzelmann though has smoothed this out by adding Merlot and created a nice, easy drinking red wine. It shows great fruit (Raspberry mostly) which almost gives it a sweetness when it first hits the palate. It is well-balanced though because of great spice on the finish (peppercorns). The tannins here are softer which allows it to be more food friendly.Konzelmann Canada Red in a Nutshell:Description: Mostly Zweigelt with a touch of Merlot. Shows good Raspberry fruit on the nose and palate. Smooth tannins and hints of pepper throughout. More Pepper shown on a spicy finish.Pairing: Great with gamey meats such as Lamb and Elk. Also good with rich cheese dishes containing buffalo mozzarella or goat cheese. Vintage/Price: Current vintage is 2010. It costs $12.75 at the Winery.For more information on Canada Red and other wines from Konzelmann, please go to: Konzelmann Estate Winery
Ever heard of Xarel-Lo? Odds are you probably haven't unless you are extremely knowledgeable. What you probably have heard of though is the sparkling wine Cava. (A widely known brand of Cava is Friexenet.) Cava is primarily made of 3 grapes. Those are Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-Lo. Recently, companies have been adding Chardonnay as well as Pinot Noir in Rose versions.It is extremely rare to find Xarel-Lo (also known as Pansa Blanco) as a single varietal wine. It is because it can be difficult to grow due to it being prone to frost damage.
It is also known to be highly acidic if not produced right. If made right and their are no problems with the grapes, it can make a wonderful white wine. Leave it to Jorge Ordonez Selections to bring us something a little different and completely knock it out of the park.I will admit, I have only tried one other Xarel-Lo in my lifetime and was not overly enthralled. That is not the case with Marques De Gelida Xarel-Lo. It is a game changer.I love what the label says on this wine so I will let it do the talking:"Our estate vineyards are bathed in warm Mediterranean sun while being protected from harsh north winds by the jagged mountains of Monserrat. The chalky sandy soils are the perfect environment for growing the delicate varietal, Xarel-Lo. The subtle minerality it adds to the delicate floral and bright fruit flavors create a well balanced glass of white wine, perfect for a summer day."The first bonus is that it is organically grown
. This is huge in my house because my wife loves anything organically grown. The 2nd bonus is that it retails right around $13 a bottle. I think it is well worth the price for not only a great wine but also for the interest that will ensue at your next gathering. It's just as fun to say as it is to drink!Marques De Gelida Xarel-Lo in a nutshell:Description: Crisp and Bright. Slightly floral nose with hints of lime zest. Great flavors of citrus and stone fruit on the palate. Good lemon-like acidity on the finish.Pairing: A nice compliment to a big plate of Sashimi. Would also go great with appetizers such as Escargot or Thai Spring Rolls. Vintage/Price: Current vintage is 2011. Like I mentioned earlier, it will cost you right around $13 dollars. Well worth the cost. I would pay $20 for it because of the uniqueness of this wine.For more information on Marques De Gelida Xarel-Lo and other wines from Jorge Ordonez, please go to: Grupo Jorge Ordonez
One of my favorite domestic wineries is nestled in the Sierra Foothills in California. Boeger has been open since 1974. The fun fact about Boeger's winery is that it sits just about 15 minutes away from where gold was first found in California. It subsequently started the gold rush. It's fun to think that once upon a time, where Boeger now has vineyards, people were taking part in the gold rush.The gold rush is not my reasoning for loving Boeger (I do love that fact though). It is because they have gotten away from the normal California offerings. Sure, they make wonderful Zins, Chardonays, Pinots, etc.
What seperates them is varietals such as Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Cab Franc. My favorite though is their Barbera.Barbera is a red grape common to Italy. It is only behind Sangiovese and Montepulciano in terms of red wine production there. In California, it had been on the rise in recent years. Before, Barbera was a grape that was used in California to blend. Now, there are many fine examples of single varietal Barbera being produced with great quality. There are none finer in my opinion than Boeger's!Boeger's Barbera is extremely well rounded. The aromatics here are a nice a mix of fruit (Plum) with a touch of black pepper. It shows a really nice mix of fruit (Black Cherry, Blackberry) and spice (Vanilla and a touch of clove).
Low tannins and good acidity give this wine a wonderful mouth feel. It shows a lot of structure without having the bitterness that comes with it. Overall, it is extremely smooth and keeps you wanting more.
Boeger Barbera in a Nutshell:Description: Great aromatics of plum and black pepper. Plump red that shows great blackberry and black cherry fruit. Good spice on the finish with clove and vanilla. Low tannins and a touch of acid round off this well balanced Cal-Ital wine.Pairing: A nice red to accompany anything containing Marinara sauce. Low acid makes it a great pairing with tomato based meat dishes. Vintage/Price: Current vintage is 2009. It is wonderful now but 1-2 years in your cellar could make this wine spectacular. Should find it between 17 and 19 dollars on the net or in a store near you!For more information on Boeger's Barbera and their other wines, please go to: Boeger Winery
First things first, I apologize for dropping off the blogosphere for the past few days. I have been in the dark, literally, in Ohio for the past 4 days due to a wind storm that came through last Friday. It did not stop me from enjoying my 4th of July with family. It also did not stop us from checking out some different wines.In honor of the 4th of July, I wanted to write about an eye opener from my home state. The wine is a
Viognier and Roussanne blend from Kinkead Ridge. These are two varietals that are not extremely different compared to others I have written about. What makes this wine off the beaten path is the fact that it is made in Ohio. The winery has the ability to grow these varietals thanks to it's location on the Ohio River. While Ohio is seeing a ton of growth in the wine making industry, it is still trying to find it's nice. I am pleased to say that I believe Kinkead Ridge has found theirs'.Viognier has long been one of my favorite white wines. It was really what first took me off the beaten vine so to speak. I found it a wonderful alternative to Chardonnay and used it as a vehicle to take my dinner guests away from their comfort zone. Viognier displays more aromatics on the nose and usually shows a touch more fruit. The bad thing about Viognier was that it is tough to grow which of course made it hard to find. Fast forward 10 years to now and Viognier is being produced in many different spots around the world rather than just in its' native France.Roussanne on the other hand is still not extremely popular outside of France's Rhone region (Fun Fact: Marsanne and Roussanne are the only two white varietals grown in Rhone). The biggest characteristic it is known for is its' high acidity. Because of this, it is almost always used in a blend rather than being a single varietal. It can also display nutty flavors and be a tad bitter.So why does a Viognier/Roussanne blend work? The old saying opposite attracts applies here. Viognier is highly aromatic with low acid, a touch of sugar and good fruit. Roussanne is highly acidic and tart. They balance each other extremely well and make a wine with brilliant complexity. Kinkead Ridge has taken advantage of this. They have produced the best Ohio wine I have tasted to date
.Kinkead Ridge Viognier Roussanne in a Nutshell:Description: Extremely aromatic nose with great floral notes. Typical flavors on Viognier on display such as apricot and orange blossom. Sharp acidity on the finish making it dry on the palate. Pairing: A great wine to enjoy with a homemade chicken salad. Would also be the perfect compliment to a family clam bake or shrimp boil. Vintage/Price: Current vintage is 2011. I had a bottle of 2008 and 2010 that I opened recently. The price should be around the $16 dollar range.For more information on Kinkead Ridge and their wines, please go to: Kinkead Ridge