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Cinsault and Pinot Noir from California

November 9, 2016 Leave a comment

We recently went through a few bottles of the 2014 Birichino, Cinsault Old Vines, Brechthold Vineyards,  Mokelumne River, Lodi.  Last tasted nearly a year ago I think it is time to start drinking up any of your remaining stocks.  From Rajat Parr and Sashi Moorman the 2014 Lompoc Wine Co, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills manages to be a lighter wine with lower alcohol and avoid any unripe, yeasty character.  I rather enjoyed the flavor and the price.  My only gripe is the short finish.  Worth trying though.  The Birichino is from Weygant Wines and the Lompoc from MacArthur Beverages.

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2014 Birichino, Cinsault Old Vines, Brechthold Vineyards,  Mokelumne River, Lodi – $24
This wine is 100% Cinsault sourced from vines planted in 1886.    Alcohol 13%.  After one hour of air there are aromas of powdery, light red strawberry.  There are similar flavors in the mouth of candied, cherry, strawberry in this smooth yet very finely textured wine.  This bright red fruited wine is quite nice and while lighter towards the finish the fruit leaves an impression of weight.  It could use just a touch more acidity. **(*) Now – 2017.

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2014 Lompoc Wine Co, Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills – $18
Alcohol 12.5%.  There is a light nose of cinnamon and early harvest fruit.  In the mouth the wine is a touch puckering but does have powdery ripeness and ethereal strawberry flavor.  The wine expands quickly with a sense of weight but stops a bit short in the finish.  The bright entry makes way to a mineral like hint and even some grip.  **(*) Now.

I drink old-vine wine while researching old wine

December 4, 2015 Leave a comment

I am a bit swamped this week between catching up on work and transcribing a few audio recordings for a future post.  One fun bottle of wine tried this week is the 2014 Birichino, Cinsault, Bechthold Vineyard, Lodi Mokelumne River.  The fruit for this wine comes from the Bechthold Vineyard which has the oldest vines in Lodi.  The wine itself is full of forward, round flavors that  drape the tongue with enough of a backbone to keep it from any sense of flabbiness.  It is a lovely wine for drinking on our occasionally crisp Fall evenings.  This wine is available at Weygandt Wines.

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2014 Birichino, Cinsault, Bechthold Vineyard, Lodi Mokelumne River – ~$25
This wine is 100% Cinsault sourced from vines planted in 1886.  Alcohol 13%.  This rounded, soft wine offers forward flavors of strawberry and raspberry fruit smoothie.  It is a gentle, tongue draping wine that is comforting but with enough low-key acidity to keep things going.  It even picks up some cherry flavors with air.  *** Now.

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Californian diversity

February 24, 2015 1 comment

The wines features in today’s post feature a wide variety of styles.  My favorites include the 2012 Klinker Brick, Old Vine Zinfandel, Marisa Vineyard, Lodi with its attractive cherry and Manhattan cocktail flavors, for lack of a better description.  It simply tastes different.  The wine is still young so hold off on opening a bottle for a bit.  The 2012 Lioco, Indica Red Wine, Mendocino County returns with very clean red berry flavors and low alcohol.  The 2012 Mount Veeder Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley is well done at a fair price.  It offers a good combination of greenhouse infused black fruit, ripeness, minerals, and structure.  I rather enjoyed it.  Finally, the 2011 SAMsARA, Grenache, Larner Vineyard, Santa Ynez  offers a different take on Grenache, that being a uniquely aromatic nose followed by more tart fruit.   These wines were purchased at MacArthur Beverages.

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2013 Donkey & Goat, Five Thirteen, El Dorado – $34
This wine is a blend of 40% Grenache, 18% Syrah, 18% Mourvedre, 14% Cinsault, and 10% Counoise that was fermented with indigenous yeast in neutral oak vats.  Alcohol 14.2%.  With only a hint of natural wine aromas, the nose bore higher-toned, citric red fruit aromas.  The mouth followed with red grapefruit flavors at the start.  There was a ripe, citric pith structure and tart flavors in the back of the mouth.  There were ripe, ethereal flavors that puffed up in the finish.  This is a wine for the short-term.  ** Now-2017.

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2012 Klinker Brick, Old Vine Zinfandel, Marisa Vineyard, Lodi – $32
This wine is 100% Zinfandel sourced from vines averaging 85 years of age that was aged for 15 months in 60% new American oak.  Alcohol 15.8%.  There was enjoyable fruit from the start that had an incense character with both a little fat and weight.  There was a light structure that brought subtle spices and wet tobacco.  After a few hours of air the fruit developed an attractive core of cherry and Manhattan cocktail flavors.   It had some glycerin to the mouth feel.  Thought it started to unwind with air it should develop in the cellar.  *** 2016-2022.

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2012 Lioco, Indica Red Wine, Mendocino County – $22
This wine is 100% old-vine Carignan that was fermented in stainless steel then aged for 11 months in neutral oak.  Alcohol 12%.  The red fruit on the nose made way to flavors of tart cherries and eventually strawberry.  The tart red berries persisted with ethereal black fruit underneath and a slightly powdery texture.  Attractive clean flavors.  *** Now-2017.

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2012 Mount Veeder Winery, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – $27
This wine is a blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Franc. Alcohol 14.5%.  The nose preceded the mouth with ripe, greenhouse infused flavors of black fruit.  There were powdery tannins, minerals, and a black fruited finish.  The acidity supported the wine which filled the mouth.  It left flavors of tart black and red fruit in the finish along with a little chocolate.  **(*) 2016-2021.

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2011 SAMsARA, Grenache, Larner Vineyard, Santa Ynez  – $37
This wine is 100% Grenache which was whole cluster pressed, fermented with indigenous yeast then aged 24 months in 100% neutral French oak.  Alcohol 14%.  The nose was fragrant with notes of creamsicle!  In the mouth were clean fruit and almond flavors around a powdery core.  There was some weight to the body and a finish that brought both drier flavors and more structure.  With air the wine developed more minerality that went with the firm acidity.  It took an interesting tart orange, citrus, natural wine bit at the aftertaste.  *** Now-2020.

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Several Other Wines Tasted in Seattle

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I tried several other wines during my recent trip to Seattle.  I did not bother taking any notes on these wines for I was rather tired.  But I did take some pictures so here are my general impressions.

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After a few beers at King’s Hardware in Ballard a group of us moved on to dinner at Delancey.  Delancey serves up great pizza and has become a restaurant which I frequently visit during my trips to Seattle.  As I had to pass by the Portalis Wine Shop to get to my car I popped in to pick a few bottles for dinner.

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I had never seen the 2011 Turley, Cinsault, El Porron, Lodi before.  Having enjoyed many Turley Zinfandels in the past I thought the $23 El Porron was worth a try.  It turns out this is made using fruit sourced from 127 year old vines at the Bechtold vineyard.  There was an engaging nose with lots of beautiful, fresh, red fruit in the mouth.  I really enjoyed it and though it disappeared quickly amongst the six of us, I suspect it will drink well over several years.  Definitely worth trying.  The 2011 Sinister Hand, Columbia Valley is a blend of 63% Grenache, 19% Syrah, 16% Mourvedre, and 2% Cinsault.  I picked it up for I thought we should also drink something a bit fruitier and from Washington.  This bottle remained a bit compact but was still very satisfying given that it was popped and poured.  It was the first bottle to be finished.

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The evening we relaxed in Clark and Julie’s backyard.  The light rain sprinkles put a chill in the air but with the heater turned on we were fine.  Julia first brought out the 2005 Isenhower, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bachelor’s Button, Columbia Valley.  This appears to be a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot sourced from three vineyards planted in 1972, 1988, and 2000.  The nose did not give up much at all.  In the mouth it was very tight with any fruit clinging to the firm but approachable structure.  My first impression is that the structure was outliving the fruit.  I did revisit it an hour later and there seemed to be a very focused core of subtly ripe blue and black fruit coming out.  As an alternative Julia opened the 2009 Convergence Zone Cellars, Storm Front, Red Mountain.  She figured I had never heard of this wine and she was right.  This is a blend of 39% Merlot, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, and 15% Malbec which was produced in nearby Woodinville.  It sees a chunk of new oak and it certainly comes out in the flavors.  The fruit does stand up to it in an attractive, seamless package.

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For another dinner I met Clark and Julia at Bar Sajor in  Pioneer Square.  This restaurant is in the same group as Sitka & Spruce and bar ferd’nand.  It was a few years ago that I was first introduced to the 2010 Matteo Correggia, Anthos at bar ferd’nand.  I spied the 2011 Matteo Correggia, Anthos on the well-edited and interesting wine list.  Of course I ordered it.  This wine is 100% Brachetto sourced from vines planted in 1975.  The fruit is only briefly macerated so the color is rather light for a red wine.  Despite the light color the nose is highly aromatic and there is good depth to the flavors.  I strongly recommend you seek this out.

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The last wine I tried during my trip was the 2010 COR Cellars, Momentum.  I really enjoyed the 2009 I tasted last year so of course I grabbed this bottle of 2010.  This wine is a blend of 36% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Petit Verdot, 26% Merlot, and 14% Malbec which is very similar to the previous vintage.  This was a cooler year than 2009 and I think it shows.  There were concentrated black fruit flavors, good extract, a sweet chocolate note, and the impression it needs a year to open up.  However, it came across a little muddled and rough in the finish.  It is still a decent wine for the money but it also shows how good the 2009 is.

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Fran Kysela Visits MacArthur Beverages

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This past Saturday Fran Kysela was at MacArthur Beverages pouring a selection of his wines.  Fran Kysela is the owner of Kysela Pere et Fils which is an importer and wholesaler of wine, beer, sake, and spirits.  I tasted the wines out of little plastic Dixie cups so forgive my compressed notes.  There were good values in the lower price range including the Weingut Bastgen and the easy drinking Rubus which shows, as Fran described, spicy Lodi fruit.  Don’t forget the Bodegas Valsacro as well. Considering my small tasting cup I was amazed by the aromatic nose of the Domaine du Colombier.  I got the impression it is tightening up a bit so make sure you stick a few bottles in the cellar.  You should also include a few bottles of the Domaine Grand Veneur, Lirac.  For my impressions from his last visit please read this post.  All of the wines tasted are currently available at MacArthur Beverages.

2011 Domaine Grand Veneur, Blanc de Viognier, Cotes du Rhone – $18
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  this wine is 100% Viognier.  The nose reveals light to medium aromas of ripe, yellow fruit.  In the mouth the flavors are clean and focused with some ripe flavors at first.  There is a strength in delivery as the flavors pick up some minerals and a bit of spice.

2011 Weingut Basten, Kestener Paulinshofberg, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel – $15
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is 100% Riesling.  There is a lighter nose followed by riper, sweeter fruit in the mouth.  The flavors start with energy on the tongue than soften and broaden in the mouth.  There is a little gritty flavor and integrated acidity.

2009 Rubus, Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi – $13
This wine is a blend of 98% Zinfandel and 2% Petit Sirah which was aged for nine months in French and American oak.  The color was garnet.  The flavors are of black cherry with a racy vein, balanced with some focus, plenty of acidity, and wraps up with a spicy note.  Drink over the next several years.

2005 Bodegas Valsacro, Cosecha, Rioja – $15
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 50% Tempranillo, 40% Garnacha, and 10% Mazuelo aged in French and American oak.  The color is a medium-dark black cherry with garnet.  There were riper, dark cherry flavors with black fruit and minerals in the finish.  This still seems youthful.

2009 Cave de Tain, Les Haut du Fief, Crozes-Hermitage – $20
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is 100% Syrah.  The nose is darker with a big of roast earth.  In the mouth there are black fruits and roast with a dense personality.  There are powdery, drying tannins which leave a raspy tongue along with a minerally, racy bit.

2010 Domaine du Colombier, Cuvee Gaby, Crozes Hermitage – $30
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is 100% Syrah sourced from older plots.  The aromatic nose is inviting with fresh and floral aromas.  In the mouth there was red fruit, a racy aspect, plenty of structure which shows tannins in the mouthfeel.  The flavors were a little spicy.  While beautiful to smell this really needs several years in the cellar.

2010 Domaine Grand Veneur, Clos de Sixte, Lirac – $22
Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils.  This wine is a blend of 50% Grenache, 35% Syrah, and 15% Mourvedre.  There was richer, ripe red fruit that was focused and framed by plenty of structure.  The flavors are a bit tart, a little spicy, and show some minerals and graphite in the finish.  I would cellar this for several years before drinking.

Fran Kysela and the author

Four Wines Between $12 and $15

September 26, 2011 Leave a comment

During the early weeks of this blog, I once took a break from posting for two days.  This prompted my friend Lou to check in on me, to make sure I was healthy and still drinking wine.  I am currently flying to Seattle and have recently passed over Fargo.  I was too busy having fun with my daughter to write a post for today.  Fortunately, Alaska Air has excellent inflight wi-fi as I demonstrated from this post.  So here I am once again blogging from the air.  Jenn and I have drunk some excellent wines from Washington and Oregon this summer but the majority of these bottles comfortably cost over $25 per bottle.    For this trip I plan on tasting and buying wines under that price point.  In this vein, this post includes notes on four different bottles all $15 or less.

The Thorn-Clarke was purchased for $13, the Alpha Box & Dice for $12, the Quinta da Rosa for $15, and the Plungerhead for $15.  All of these should be currently available at MacArthur’s.  My favorites were the Thorn-Clarke and the Quinta de la Rosa.  The Thorn-Clarke strongly delivers on value and the Quinta de la Rosa is at a decent price.  The Alpha Box & Dice and the Plungerhead were both too soft, jammy, and too sweet for my preferences.  If you are craving a zinfandel blend then spend an extra $2-$3 to buy a 2009 Ridge Zinfandel.

2008 Thorn-Clarke, Shotfire, Quartage, Barossa
This is a blend of 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Malbec, 18% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit Verdot, and 3% Merlot that was aged for 18 months in 85% French and 15% American oak. I first tried this at the Fran Kysela tasting held at MacArthur’s. We recently tried a full bottle that I had purchased that day. This wine has savory, soft, dark fruit with notes of olive. It is smooth, easy to drink with textured tannins, and supporting acidity. It is definitely an Australian wine and one that Jenn quite enjoyed. On the second night there were more blue fruits and the wine gave the impression of maturity beyond its age. *** Now-2015.

2008 Alpha Box & Dice, Tarot, Grenache, McLaren Vale
This wine is 100% Grenache from 10-year-old vines grown on hard red clay over limestone.This is very youthful and fruity with ample flavors of raspberry. A bit jammy in the sense of sweeter fruit, some blue notes, and plenty of acidity. Pleasant but not the most interesting. Drink with in a couple of years. * Now-2014.

2009 Quinta da Rosa Vinhos, Dou Rosa, Douro
This wine is a blend of 30% Touriga Nacional, 35% Touriga Franca, and 35% Tinta Roriz that was aged in French barriques. The nose was light with floral and fruity notes. There were flavors of youthful, purple fruit that immediately left the impression of being an easy to drink wine. With air a gentle, berry, ripeness develops with an enjoyable perfumed violet and lavender quality. The fruit becomes a mixture of red and blue flavors as tannins come out in the finish. *** Now-2017.

2009 Plungerhead, Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi
This wine is 98% Zinfandel and 2% Syrah sourced from mostly 30-60 year old vines. There are ample flavors of jammy, soft raspberries and strawberries. The flavors are a bit sweet, with unobtrusive acidity, and some spice.  Sealed with a Zork, which is actually quite handy for resealing the bottle. * Now.

Four Wines From California and Washington, 30 April 2009

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Here are two rather different affordable wines from California. The Thumbprint Merlot sports a lot of flavor but lacks focus. It was edged out by the Borra Fusion which comes across as better made and easier to drink.

2005 Thumbprint Cellars, Merlot Reserve Lot, Alexander Vineyard, Dry Creek – $17
A light+ nose of heavier fruit that is ripe with less acidity. This medium bodied wine has dark, blue fruit, sweet spices that are flavorful but come across as a bit flabby. There are darker fruits in the aftertaste and minimal tannins. I’d drink this now.

2005 Borra Vineyards, Fusion, Lodi – $17
This is a blend of 78% Syrah, 9% Petit Sirah, 7% Alacante Bouchet, and 6% Zinfandel. There is a light+ nose of lifted, gritty, ripe red/blue fruit. In the mouth initial flavors of sweet, cinnamon-like spice, and blue fruit followed by slightly spicy red fruit. There is a creamy fruit feel. In the aftertaste there is some acidity and heat. Drink now or within a few years.

Syncline

I brought some wine back from a recent Seattle trip. I always grab bottles from producers that we don’t see in the DC area. This was my introduction to Syncline and I must write that I enjoyed both. Drink the Seduction Red now and the Mourvedre in a few years.

2007 Syncline, Subduction Red, Columbia Valley – $18
This is a blend of 35% Syrah, 21% Mourvedre, 16% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, and 13% Counoise. The fruit is cofermented then aged in 5-10% new French oak barrels for less than one year. In the glass there is a light to medium opaque ruby color with purple shade. The young, fruity nose shows brighter red fruit, some pepper and spices. In the mouth there is medium-round fruit, that is spiced with some tart red fruit in the finish and nice, slightly gritty tannins. This easy to drink wine delivers the goods as soon as it is unscrewed. Drink it within the next few years.

2007 Syncline, Mourvedre, Coyote Canyon Vineyard, Horse Heaven Hills – $30
This 100% Mourvedre wine is aged for 16 months in two-year old French oak barrels. This medium+ opaque ruby with darker purple than the Seduction. There is a light nose of stinky Mourvedre goodness. This medium bodied wine initially shows dense red fruit with blue flavors developing midpalate. There is good texture and with minerals developing in the aftertaste. After 2-3 hours of air it is noticeably more expansive in the mouth and starts to uncoil. I’d cellar this a few years.