October 9, 2009

More Deals!

Freeport Cheese & Wine

We keep looking for deals and we keep finding them!

Vinum Cellars "Pets" Petite Sirah 2006 (California) Reg. $13.99, Sale $9.99 - SOPO had 5 or so cases left of this and gave me a great deal, so we bought it up! Also, Vinum brought back the original label with Tanker, the dog, on it! We love this! Deep, dark wine that is loaded with ripe fruit aromas & flavors! Nice floral notes....flavors of plums, blueberries, dried herbs, smoky bacon & more. Well-balanced acidity & tannins....medium-bodied.....medium-to-long finish....A portion of the profits from this wine are donated to an animal shelter & the wine is dedicated to winemaker Ken Wilson's dog, Tanker. Winemakers call Petite Sirah "Pets." Aged in French oak barrels. 11,500 cases made. Food pairing - Drinks well on its own. Pairs up well with roasted & grilled meats, pizza, mushroom dishes, etc. Less than 4 cases left! Wine Spectator, 88 points; "Two labels stood out from the pack when the bags came off in our blind tasting, including the PETS bottling from Vinum."

Newsome-Harlowe “El Portal” Petite Sirah 2006 (California) Reg. $24.99, Sale $12.99 – This is one BIG wine! Lots of weight and heft in this bottle! It’s Petite Sirah with 15% Zin thrown in for fun! This has a lot of big, dark fruit without being sweet. Add in aromas and flavors of vanilla, chocolate and baking spices (Cinnamon? Nutmeg?) and you’ve got one weighty, complex wine!

Up in Calaveras County, in the California Gold Country, this new winery is putting out some MAMMOTH wines. If you like your wines BIG & BOLD, you’ll like this! Food pairing – steak, lamb, a Wolf Neck Farm beef hamburger!

Villa Pozzi Pinot Grigio 2008 (Venezie, Italy) Reg. $10.99, Sale $8.99 – Delicious little Pinot Grigio that has great lemon and tropical fruit without being sweet. It’s soft and round in terms of texture. Nice acidity that adds to the crisp, clean finish. Food pairing – fish and seafood dishes, lighter appetizers, salads.

Villa Pozzi Nero d’Avola 2008 (Sicily, Italy) Reg. $10.99, Sale $8.99 – This is soft and smooth and has really nice dark fruit to it! Tart blackberries, a floral note, vanilla and figs. Medium-bodied and easy drinking. Definitely worth having a few bottles! Hand-harvested grapes. Fermented and aged in stainless steel vats. Food pairing – hearty stews, lamb, beef, pizza.

Lionello Marchesi “ColdiSole” Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2003 (Italy) Reg. $$64.99, Sale $54.99 – I bought 12 bottles of this Brunello after tasting it one day in late September. This needs another year or so to really start showing its stuff, but the day I tasted it, the wine was magnificent. It had been open most of the day and was well decanted and aerated. This is a big, rich, almost “fat” Brunello – definitely made in a more “New World” style. The aromas and flavors are loaded with dark fruit, dark chocolate, vanilla, spices, rich earth and toasted oak. 100% Sangiovese Grosso. Aged 36 months in French oak barriques (33% are new, 33% 1-year and 33% are 2-year). This will aged well through 2018. Food pairing – roasted, grilled and braised meat. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 points

Gary Farrell Wines

The following 3 wines are all from Gary Farrell Winery in Sonoma County. Gary Farrell has been making Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other wines in Sonoma County since 1982. In 2000, he built and opened his new winery in the Russian River Valley. Gary Farrell focuses on small production lots and has relationships dating back decades with some of the best growers in the area. Susan Reed is the winemaker at Gary Farrell. Before joining Gary Farrell she was the winemaker at Matanza Creek Winery before it was sold to Jess Jackson in 2001.

Gary Farrell’s wines tend to be more elegant and finesse-driven than “overblown” or overdone. I like them a lot. All of their grapes are hand-harvested during the cool mornings to preserve the fruit and reduce oxidation. The grapes are destemmed and then crushed.

Gary Farrell Redwood Ranch Sauvignon Blanc 2007 (California) Reg. $26.99, Sale $21.99 – This is an elegant and crisp Sauvignon Blanc with a nice rich texture! Aromas of grapefruit, lemon zest and gooseberries. Flavors that mirror the aromas with white peaches, apricots and honeydew melon. Nice acidity to balance the fruit. Crisp and refreshing finish. Drink now. 80% fermented in stainless steel and 20% in new French oak barrels, but the wine is transferred back to stainless steel before the wine can take on any oaky characteristics. This brief exposure to oak adds richness to wine. 3,008 cases made. Food pairing – shellfish, salads, spicy Thai foods.

Gary Farrell Chardonnay 2006 (California) Reg. $34.99, Sale $26.99 – This is a really good Chardonnay – it’s 100% Chardonnay, but it’s a blend of both California clones and Burgundian clones. So, while it has some of that Californian style of butter and creaminess, it’s also a leaner style of Chardonnay – more like most Burgundies are. Aromas and flavors of apples, pears, limes, pineapples, earth and a little oak. This is well-balanced and has nice length and staying power on the finish. Drink now through 2011. Barrel-fermented in 100% French oak barrels, 1/3 new, 1/3 one-year and 1/3 two-year so this is not “over-oaked.” 4,653 cases made. Food pairing – seafood, chicken, salads, shellfish, just drinkin’!

Gary Farrell Russian River Selection Pinot Noir 2006 (California) Reg. $42.99, Sale $34.99 - Medium-bodied Pinot with wonderful ripe cherry, blackberry, raspberry and strawberry aromas and flavors. The fruit is balanced with nice spicy earth and minerals. It has notes of spicy, toasty oak. The texture is rich and lush. If you are thinking about a Pinot Noir for Thanksgiving Dinner, this is a great choice! Drink now through 2011. 11,688 cases made. Aged in new, 1, 2 and 3-year-old French oak barrels for 8 months. Sourced from famed Russian River Valley vineyards, including Starr Ridge, Rochioli-Allen, Cresta Ridge, Stiling, McIntyre and Archer. Food pairing – grilled salmon, duck, tuna.

October 3, 2009

Stone Vertical Epic 2009

Stone Vertical Epic Ale

A Californian Belgian-style Porter! With chocolate and orange and more! Comes in a 22-oz bottle. $7.99/bottle.

This is a big, bold beer made with a Belgian yeast that adds the tropical fruitness and spiciness that is typical of so many Belgian ales to the chocolate malt. They added dark candi sugar, vanilla bean and tangerine peel to complement the flavors of the porter. Think dark Belgian chocolate with orange! It's aged in French oak, so it picks up a toasted vanilla characteristic.

The idea behind the Vertical Epic Ales is that over 11 years (02.02.02 through 12.12.12), you will have 11 bottle-conditioned beers to try as a "vertical" tasting.

Here's what beer blogger, Lew Bryson, has to say about this year's Vertical Epic!

Stone's own blog gives us some background on the beer!

Limited supply! We bought a few cases and have one case left!

BeerAdvocate.com, A-, "Excellent"

RateBeer.com, 94 points

October Wines of the Month

October Wines of the Month

We’re off to Italy!

For Tiers One and Two, we are on Sicily at a single winery, Fondo Antico.

The symbol of Sicily is the “trinicria,” which bears quite the resemblance to the triangular symbol of the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. Both appear to be based on Greek mythology. The Sicilian “trinicria” has a Gorgon’s head.

The winemaker, Augustino, was here on Sept. 23rd and we were able to taste these 4 wines with him and wrangle an invitation to Sicily!

The winery, Fondo Antico, is near Trapani, between the villages of Portelli and Fulgatore, called Frazione Rilievo. This is in the Marsala part of Sicily and is a the western end of the island. They have about 200 acres of vineyards, growing grapes local to Sicily such as Nero d’Avola, Grillo, Inzolia and Grecanico. They also cultivate Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Chardonnay.

The Wines

Tier One

“I Versi” means “the verses.” Just as reading a poem reveals layers of complexity, so do these wines as you enjoy them!

The White:

I Versi Bianco IGT 2008 (Sicily) $12.99 - A pretty Sicilian white that’s clean, unoaked, delicate & dry, with a light, herbal touch. This wine has nice, crisp acidity that makes it a perfect pairing with most seafood and salads. Aromas of limes, pineapples and green apples. The flavors are similar with a little roasted almonds on the finish. 50% Inzolia and 50% Grecanico. Stainless steel fermentation. Food pairing – light hors d’oeuvres, seafood, fish soups, grilled veggies, salads and fresh cheeses.

The Red:

I Versi Rosso IGT 2007 (Sicily) $12.99 - A young wine, with a bright ruby red color with fun floral aromas. This is smooth, soft and drinks easily! It has nice berry fruit, a little spiciness and something akin to anise or licorice in the flavors (and remember, I really don’t like licorice candy, but I like it in wines when it’s just a subtle note as it is here). Food pairing – meat dishes, mushroom dishes, aged and fresh cheeses, game, pâté,

Blend of 50% Nero d’Avola and 50% Merlot. John Dietz, who works with Easterly Wines (the distributor for these wines) called Merlot, “The international grape of mystery.” Meaning = Merlot may take on many forms and styles depending on growing practices and winemaking. In the movie, “Sideways,” Miles definitely gives Merlot a bad rep! “No, if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any…..Merlot!” Some Merlot deserves such a reputation – the juice in this wine does not. It’s good! Fermented and briefly aged in stainless steel.

Tier 2

The White:

Fondo Antico Grillo Parlante IGT 2008 (Sicily) $16.99 - A “grillo parlante” means “talking cricket” in Italian, but of course Grillo is also the name of the native Sicilian grape found in this fresh white. In Italian, “Grillo Parlante” is actually Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio.

What I love about this wine is that aside being fantastic; you can drink it at least 2 ways. You can just sip it and not think about it and you’ll love it! Or, you can linger over it and think about the layers and complexity…..it’s great either way! This has a straw-yellow color with just slight greenish tints. The aromas are floral with pear, white peach and lemon. It’s refreshing as you drink it and the rich lemon, pear and nutty flavors come out. Manually harvested grapes. Fermented and aged in stainless steel. Food pairing – ceviche, poached seafood, lemon chicken dishes, shellfish.

The Red:

Fondo Antico Nero D’Avola IGT 2006 (Sicily) $19.99 – This is a fresh, robust and full-bodied red with lots of red fruit (plums, berries, cherries) and a nice spiciness. This is velvety and smooth with fine-grained tannins. It has a nice spiciness to the finish that is more peppery than alcohol (it’s only 13.5% alcohol). Nice long finish. 100% Nero d’Avola. Aged 6 months in French oak barriques and 2 months in bottle. Food pairing – Risotto al Nero d’Avola with cloves (pretty much reduce the Nero d’Avola from a bottle to a pint and then stir it into the risotto), grilled meats, cheese such as Manchego or Piave Vecchio or Pecorino Toscano. Roasted tuna with onions and mint.

Tier 3

We are headed as far from Sicily in Italy as we can go – the northeastern corner! The area is the Alto Adige in the Südtirol in the province of Bolzano-Bozen. This province is an autonomous region in Italy and is the most German part of the country. Nearly 70% of the population is German.

This area is dominated by the Dolomite Mountains, which are a former seabed. So, the rocks are limestone and this adds tremendous minerality to the wines of the area. The Dolomites shield cold, bad weather from the north, leaving the valleys open to mild air from the Mediterranean. A warm summer wind comes from Lake Garda to ease the summer heat. At night, cool air from the high mountains floods the valleys. This alternation of warm, sunny days with cool nights enables the grapes to ripen slowly and increase the intense aromas, sugar levels and brisk acidity necessary to making great wine!

“Gambero Rosso,” the classic reference for Italian wine, says that this region, the Alto Adige, is one of the top 5 wine areas in Italy, asserting that this is also the home of the "best assortment of wine cooperatives in the world, exemplary for both their efficiency and the high general quality of even their run-of-the-mill products." Further kudos for Colterenzio from the same publication: "Their entire line has few competitors in any part of Italy, and their whites are among the very best of their area."

The White:

Schreckbichl Colterenzio Prædium Pinot Grigio “Puiten” DOC 2007 (Alto Adige) $25.99 – A $25 Pinot Grigio?! Just what is Eric thinking?

The Roman word “Prædium” means wine estate and is a symbol of a mature, deep-rooted wine culture. “Puiten” is the single vineyard where the grapes for this wine grow.

This is a great white wine. It’s lush and full and soft in its texture. Complex, subtle, aromatic, many, many layers and nuances! Aromas of orchard fruits, minerals and flowers pour out of the glass! Flavors of apples, pears, stone fruits, fresh cut hay and honey. Crisp and refreshing with great acidity. Fermented in stainless steel. Part of the wine is fermented in large Slovenian oak casks (5,000 liter barrels) where it undergoes malolactic fermentation to add richness and weight. Aged on the lees for 6 months to increase the richness and velvety texture of the wine. The “wines” – one is in stainless and the other in cask – are then blended, lightly filtered and bottled. They only use organic fertilizers and biological pest controls. Food pairing – pasta with chicken, fish and chips, seafood salad, chicken salad with apples and grapes. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points

The Red:

H. Lentsch Lagrein "Morus" 2003 (Südtirol) $37.99 – The name “Morus” comes from Morus Nigra and signifies “mulberry tree”. Until the 1940s, its cultivation was very important, as it was grown in support of the raising of silkworms. Nowadays there are only a few examples of mulberry trees left. One is located at the lower end of a slope planted for many years with Lagrein. To keep alive the memory of this important agricultural heritage, this Lagrein from carries this name, “Morus.” Lentsch is a family-owned estate founded in 1882 in Bronzolo.

Lagrein is the grape from which this deep, red South Tyrolean wine is made in the lowlands around Bolanzo, where the sunshine and soil texture give it a unique character. This Lagrein is a full-bodied, garnet-hued wine with a wide range of aromas, including with blueberry, bilberry, and violet. On the palate it is warm and smooth, with soft tannins and a lingering finish. Food pairing - it pairs well with hearty fare and hard cheeses.

After careful sorting, the grapes are crushed and fermented in stainless steel tanks. As soon as fermentation is complete, the wine is pumped into concrete barrels to initiate malolactic fermentation – this softens the wine and adds a fuller, richer texture. The wine then ages in French oak barrels. After this, there follows a second year in large wooden casks, where the wine has time to develop and mature. After bottling, the wine is stored for a further ten to twelve months in cellar. Just under 1,000 cases made.