November 4, 2011

November Wines of the Month

November Wines of the Month

The focus this month is on wines for Thanksgiving, as well as for the Fall. Consequently, this is an "All-American" line-up.....but, not from places you'd expect!

Tier One


The White

Urbanite Cellars Caliberico 2010 (California) $14.99 – This is VERY aromatic and has a lovely nose! It’s a pretty wine. In the mouth it has rich fruit and pops with nice acidity. It has a pleasing note of honey to the flavors. Excellent wine! Because the wine is from California and the grape varietals are from Spain/Portugal, the wine is named for California and the Iberian Peninsula!

The grapes are from the Lodi American Viticultural Area (AVA). Lodi is about 60 miles east of Napa and ENE of San Francisco and about 45 miles south of Sacramento. Most of us probably heard of Lodi when listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR).

It’s an early center of grape-growing and cattle ranching in California. Many early immigrants brought grape vine cuttings with them, so the grapes in and around Lodi are a diverse lot. Lodi is the “Zinfandel capital of the world.”

Urbanite’s grapes are all from certified sustainable vineyards. They pick the grapes early to ensure alcohol and acidity levels similar to those found in wines from Galicia and Vinho Verde. It’s only 12.6% alcohol, making this perfect for a long day of eating and drinking such as Thanksgiving Day! Blend of 47% Verdelho, 35% Albarinho and 18% Torrontes. The varietals are fermented separately in stainless steel (80%) and neutral French oak (20%). The wine is then blended and aged in 90% stainless steel and 10% neutral French oak. Food pairing – Drinks well with or without food! Shellfish, seafood, lighter pasta dishes, grilled chicken or pork.

The Red

Urbanite Cellars Redart 2010 (California) $14.99 – While Urbanite mostly specializes in grape varietals that originated in the Iberian Peninsula, they do make wines from varietals we more closely associate with California. This is one. It’s delicious! This is juicy with nice red and dark fruit and a pleasing mocha note to it. It’s not hugely tannic. It’s wll-balanced and easy-drinking! Blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Syrah, 20% Zinfandel & 10% other reds. Each varietal is aged 4-9 months in neutral French oak before blending. Food pairing - poultry, grilled meats, duck.

Tier Two


We recently tasted several wines from Virginia. Yes, Virginia, wines from Virginia. As many know, Thomas Jefferson was passionate about wine. He even tried to start a winery near Charlottesville. He wasn’t successful, but, one needs to remember that while Jefferson was a brilliant man, he wasn’t as good of a businessman or farmer as George Washington was. Well, in the 20th century, many people have proven that Virginia can produce good, even great, wines.

These are some of them! They are from an estate called Barboursville Vineyards. No less an authority than the esteemed Michael Broadbent of Decanter Magazine glows about Barboursville Vineyards.

Jefferson himself designed the grand home at Barboursville for his good friends. Unfortunately, that home burned in the 1880’s. Gianni Zonin, a member of a 6-generation wine family from the Veneto in Italy (they make great Prosecco, among other things), bought the estate in 1976. Against the advice of bankers, locals, farmers and governmental officials, he planted grapes rather than tobacco. Today, the region is home to more than 100 wineries. Barboursville Vineyards makes OUTSTANDING wine!

The White

Barboursville Vineyards Viognier Reserve 2009 (Virginia) $24.99 – Delicious, rich white wine! Aromas and flavors of ripe, juicy pears, tropical fruit and citrus with a suggestive herbal note. Ripe and luscious. 2009 was a cool growing season and this helped lengthen the growing season, concentrating and heightening the aromatics even beyond the landmark 2008 vintage. 100% Viognier. Aged and fermented in stainless steel for 12-14 months. Sees no malolactic fermentation (so, it is not buttery/creamy). It is rich and weighty because it is aged on its lees. 13.7% alcohol. This is drinking well now and will age well for another 4-5 years. Food pairing – crab cakes, veal or venison scaloppini, scallops au gratin, rich seafood, duck, heftier chicken dishes.

The Red

Barboursville Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve 2008 (Virginia) $24.99 – This is a beautiful, layered, complex and elegant Cab. Franc. It’s a dark garnet color in the glass. Aromas and flavors of figs, cherries, plums and ripe red berries. It has soft, lasting tannins and is beautifully soft feeling. 100% Cabernet Franc from 4 Bordeaux clones and 1 Loire Valley clone. Aged 14 months in new and French oak barriques. The oak staves are air-dried at least 3 years before coopering. It’s the House Red at The Inn at Little Washington. Food pairing Braised veal roast served with baby vegetables, pasta with breast of duck ragù, roasted lamb with rosemary and garlic over soft polenta.

Tier Three


The White

Westport Rivers Brut Cuvée RJR Sparkling Wine (Massachusetts) $25.99 - Excellent Champagne-style sparkling wine! We were at a wine tasting that SOPO hosted at a wonderful restaurant on Portland's Munjoy Hill, BarLola (great food)....the first wine we had at this tasting was this sparkling wine! We both loved it! From Massachusetts - who would have thunk! Blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Aromas of apples, pears, minerals. Just a subtle hint of toast. Feels nice and soft & rich in the mouth. Nice bubbles! Finishes soft & creamy with a hint of citrus! Tasty wine!

The Red

Barboursville Vineyards “Octagon” 2006 (Virginia) $42.99 – This has classic Boreaux characteristics – and it should given that it consists of Bordeaux’s 3 primary grapes. Aromas and flavors of mocha, mint, cassis, roasted coffee, cocoa powder, plums and more. This is full-bodied and silky. It’s just coming into its prime. Dusty tannins. Blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Aged 12-14 months in new French oak barriques. The wood was air-dried for at least 3 years before coopering. Food pairing - Osso buco, chicken braised in good red wine and black olives, sage and walnut-crusted lamb chop in rosemary jus.

The wine is named for the Octagon that was part of Jefferson’s design for the Barbours home. The design for the 1st floor of the home is on the front label of the wine.

Read an interesting article about a blind tasting showcasing French, Napa and Virginia wines. The sommeliers and retailers at the tasting ranked the Octagon right up with an esteemed Napa Cab and an excellent Bordeaux.

Beverage Tasting Institute, “Exceptional,” Gold Medal, “Best Red Wine 2009”

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