Sunday, January 31, 2016

Beatrice's Blushes: Josef Weger Lagrein Rosato

Well, Beatrice reached the two month milestone last week! She's been smiling for a few weeks now and seeing her toothless grins is still one of the best things in the world. I was FaceTiming with my father other day while taking a walk with (a fussy) Beatrice and he mentioned that that might have been the first time he actually heard her cry. She'll occasionally fuss when she's tired, but mostly she's all about that cute happy face. I don't think seeing babies smile ever gets old.

Josef Weger 2011 Lagrein Rosato
Unfortunately, wine does get old. I probably keep rosé longer than most people and sometimes there's a downside to it. The Josef Weger 2011 Lagrein Rosato (13% abv. Purchased $12) was definitely past its prime. Lagrein produces tannic red wines in the Südtirol, but that trait didn't help keep this rosé going strong five years in. Now it wasn't bad, but it was on its last legs. It had some dried fruit - raspberries maybe? - and dried herb characteristics, but not much else. I had a second glass the following evening to see if it changed at all, but there definitely wasn't any improvement.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Wednesday's Wines: Rutini Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon blanc is a grape cultivar that seems to be a somewhat forgotten behind Chardonnay and Riesling. Both of those cultivars have faithful followers, as well as vocal detractors. Sauvignon blanc doesn't really reach either end of that spectrum. When it does get mentioned, two of the characteristics that get most often thrown around are "grapefruit" and "cat pee." The sea of New Zealand Sauvignon blanc might bear some repsonsiblitiy for its poor reputation. Yet, Sauvignon blanc is responsible for some of the world's great wines. Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Bordeaux blanc, and Fruili are home to some of the world's great dry white wines - and they're all made with Sauvignon blanc. And then throw in Sauternes - home to perhaps the greatest dessert wines on the planet - and you can see why Sauvignon blanc should get a bit more respect.

Here is a fun little bit of trivia you can use at your next dinner party. Few people also know that it's one of Cabernet Sauvignon's parental units! Some time in the 18th Century after a late night out with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon was born. Its name is hence Cabernet franc Sauvignon blanc. Interesting how a crisp white wine and a perfumed, somewhat lighter red can come together to create a cultivar that makes big, rich, tannic wines. Genetics are sometimes curious!

Rutini 2014 Sauvignon blanc
Argentina is one region that doesn't come to mind when I think of Sauvignon blanc. There shouldn't be any reason the cultivar wouldn't succeed in the vineyards of Mendoza, so I decided to give the Rutini 2014 Sauvignon blanc (12.5% abv, Sample $25) a try. It has an nose filled with aromas of green apple and limes. Those tart fruit flavors are complemented on the palate with the addition of grapefruits and cut grass. The green notes are in the background, but present nonetheless. Tasted blind it would be difficult to guess anything other than Sauvignon blanc. The mouthfeel is quite nice; there is a subtle creaminess balanced with loads of acidity. Overall, this is a very nice wine, but probably slightly overpriced.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Greatest Wine Sale Almost No One Knows About...

For a small group of wine lovers January 27 is a special holiday known as BerserkerDay. Each year, on this hallow day, wineries, retailers, and other peddlers of the wine industry are invited to offer berserk (adjective: out of control with excitement; wild or frenzied) deals on their products. This day of deals is a fantastic way for wineries to give back to consumers, and also the reverse, as many, many new and exciting wineries/producers/wines are discovered by the eager Wineberserkers community on BerserkerDay, with purchases made, and discussions from those who might have experience with them. Typically, you can expect discounts of at least 30% plus free shipping. Producers also tend you put together special packages - library releases, vertical sets, or special cuvées - just for this event. Fiscal restraint is difficult as the deals may make you spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on wine in a matter of hours. It is a great way to discover new wine, or stock up on wine you already know and love.

This year, be sure to tell your friends, just as I'm telling you, about this event. BerserkerDay is available anyone who wants to see it - you don't HAVE to be a registered member of the Wineberserkers community (unless you have an order that requires you to send a private message the winery, in that case, you better register!) to take advantage of the deals. If you're interested in following along on Twitter, you can use the hashtag #berserkerday. The deals will start showing up on the BerserkerDay VII forum around 8 am MST and run for approximately 12 hours.  There will be nearly 100 offers, with nearly 40 auction items, available! See you at Wineberserkers.com tomorrow...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Beatrice's Blushes: Snowy Peaks Winery Cinsault Rosé

It is interesting how certain wines remind you of other totally unrelated wines previously consumed. The same can be said of people. Sometimes these similarities can be good things or not so good. I notice things about Beatrice that I remember happening with Ben, but I know they're completely different people. I sometimes find myself tasting a wine and think it is something else when I know it can't possibly be. I've been put off by wines that reminded me so much of something I didn't enjoy in the past, only to be surprised when the labels were revealed. But the best instances of these mistaken identities are when you taste a wine that is a dead ringer for something either rare or much more expensive. Well, this week's rosé fits into that category.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wednesday's Wines: Forlorn Hope Nodosaur

There is a lot more to California wine than just Napa and Sonoma. Places like Lodi, Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles and Santa Barbara tend to take a back seat to their more prestigious North Coast brethren, but often proved a greater variety and value when it comes down to what's in the bottle. Somewhat amazingly, over half of the 230+ American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in the country call California home. I'd be willing to be that most wine consumers would have trouble naming 10% of those California AVAs (even if they knew what an AVA is!).

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Beatrice's Blushes: Clos Cibonne Cuvée Tradition Rosé

Last month, a thread over on Wineberserkers.com about restaurant regulations people would like to see drifted into a somewhat contentious discussion revolving around banning children from restaurants. Yes, I understand crying children can be annoying to other diners, but the idea of excluding young diners from fine dining establishments is just silly. I've dined within earshot of more annoying fully grown adults than children. Our four-year-old son loves to eat seared scallop with a leek emulsion just as much as he enjoys McDonald's hamburgers. Beatrice isn't quite up to eating solid foods yet, but she has also tagged along with us to two of Denver's nicer restaurants (JaJa Bistro and Fruition) already in her first few weeks. Both times she remained quietly asleep in her carseat (and Ben was with grandparents). I don't know how the restaurant felt about Bea taking up a chair that could have seated a paying customer, but the staff at both restaurants was kind, courteous, and wanted to see the baby. If they were of a child-banishment mindset they certainly hid it well.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Wednesday's Wines: Matthiasson Red Wine and Cabot Klamath Cuvee

A few weeks ago, I wrote about red blends as a growing wine category. I personally find blends often make more complete and complex wines than varietal wines. Aroma, flavor or texture characteristics that may be missing from a single variety can be filled by another grape. It is amazing to see that as little as 1% of a variety blended in truly can completely transform a wine. Blending is also a useful tool for a winemaker to create as good of a wine as he or she can each year. Weather conditions in back-to-back vintages can treat cultivars quite differently, so by playing with the cépage (percentage of each variety of grapes in the composition of a blended wine) can adjust the characteristics of the finished wine.

I find that many wineries take two different approaches to blends. The first is to make the blend their grand vin - top wine. The best lots are used to build the best wine possible. Often with this approach, the same cultivars are used to create the blend. The cépage may change - or it may stay exactly the same - but the building blocks generally are the same each year. Perhaps certain vineyards, or blocks, are selected for the vintage characteristics each provide. What is "leftover" after the blend is finalized can then be sold as varietal wine or different blend (or off in bulk anonymously).

The second approach is to create a blend after all the varietal, single-vineyard, and premium blends have been finalized. This approach can be perfect for creating great value wines - if the winemaker still takes care in making sure the blend works. All too often, simply throwing all the "leftover" wine together doesn't produce a high-quality wine. Today's wines are examples of both these approaches, and both are beautiful wines in their own right.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Beatrice's Blushes: Frisk Prickly Grenache

Beatrice is six weeks old today! She now looks more like a baby than a newborn. In fact, she's starting to outgrow some of the newborn clothes and fit into her 0-3 month outfits. Before we know it she'll be mobile and getting into trouble. I hope big brother will help us baby-proof the house when it's time, though judging by the state of his room we have some work to do.

Frisk 2011 Prickly Grenache
While looking for a rosé for this week's wine, I noticed this bottle of Frisk 2011 Prickly Grenache (11.9% abv, Sample $12) that I had forgotten about. Now seemed like as good a time as any to drink. I've had the Frisk Prickly Riesling and Prickly Rosso in the past and thought they were fun, interesting wines. The Grenache for this wine was sourced from Lodi, CA. This slight spritzy (hence the prickly moniker) is amaranth (reddish-rose) in color. The nose is not exceptionally aromatic, but there are some notes of watermelon, strawberry and pomegranate. You can taste the 0.5% residual sugar, but it is not sweet. The red fruits found on the nose meet up a slightly bitter, herbal component on the palate. It didn't seem to be at its freshest - but that's probably my fault for forgetting about it in my cellar for about two years! It actually reminded me of gin and tonic made with splash of pomegranate or strawberry bitters and maybe a dash of Chambord. It would probably be a good wine to serve to a non-wine crowd at a picnic or to use in a cocktail.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Wednesday's Wines: Segura Viudas, Under the Wire, and Shafer Vineyards

New Year's Eve probably sees the most sparkling wine consumed when compared to any other day of the year. Sparkling wine is associated with celebration and luxury that originates from the parties of the royal courts and aristocracy of Europe beginning in the 18th century. The popping of the cork and the bubbly effervescent can be very symbolic of abundance, joy and a good time. Though the idea of going out and partying like we did years ago has been replaced with putting the kids to bed, curling up on the couch, and then going to sleep before the clock strikes midnight, the sparkling wine still found its way into our wine glasses this New Year's Eve and New Year's Day!