Assorted notes

The silhouette of rock climbing tourists armed with mobile phones. . . poorly lit and snapped on a whim with little preparation, much like the following holiday tasting notes. . .

Snake and Herring Corduroy Chardonnay 2016 - an old school butter bomb, golden in colour. Peaches. It seems slightly attenuated. 16/20

Snake and Herring Higher Ground Porongurup Cabernet Sauvignon 2014. Black wine. Pyrazine nose - rich, fully scented, eucalyptus, a raisin edge. . . creamy and spiced in the mouth, zip and leather , very ripe, like a Christmas cake at times. I can see the appeal, but I'm not a convert. 17/20

Lot 80 Reserve Chardonnay 2016. Similar shape to the first Snake and Herring wine, more nougat and apricot, very flavoursome, cream and sourness in even measure, once again butterscotch and pulled punches. 16/20

Cape Lodge Chardonnay 2017. Unexpectedly tropical, quite sharp, piercing and charming. 16.5/20

House of Cards Chardonnay 2017. Flint ...

Weekend Wine Notes: Allons, enfants de la patrie!

The wine regions of France, especially Bordeaux and Burgundy, long served as the models and the ideals for producers and winemakers all over the world. Even nowadays, when wine-making has proliferated worldwide and expanded far beyond the so-called “noble grapes” of French origin, Burgundy is often seen as the apotheosis of chardonnay and pinot noir, Bordeaux the epitome of cabernet sauvignon and merlot, Champagne the ur-text of sparkling wine. I offer today, in celebration of Bastille Day, 12 examples that illustrate, even if in a severely limited degree, the diversity and the versatility of French wine production. Some of those noble grapes are involved — cabernet and merlot, indeed, chardonnay and pinot noir, riesling — but also a more everyday variety like gamay and obscure grapes like jacquere. In one blog post, no one could begin to assay the immense complexity of France’s geographical extent and appellation system, but I ...

Far Eastern Shore Winery: Slghtly Sweet, Fruit Infused Wines

Each year Maryland wine makers hold a competition that results in the Comptrollers Cup. In previous years, only winemakers served as judges, but for 2018 sommeliers and other industry professionals were added to the judging. The overall winner was Cactoctin Breeze Winery and a celebration was held at their winery where Gold Medal winners poured generous servings of these wines. The medal in the Sweet wine category was given to Far Eastern Shore Winery for their Dream NV Port-styled Raspberry Chocolate wine. The wine is delicious, not cloying nor gritty, and integrating the fruit and chocolate for a fine tuned wine. Whereas I had sampled many of their wines previously this wine induced me to visit the winery in Easton, Maryland using theCompass Craft Beverage Finder.

In fact the tasting room for Far Eastern Shore Winery is quite convenient to visit, right on Route 50 to the right when traveling ...

Hess Select Central Coast Pinot & North Coast Cabernet

Looking for wine to bring to a party? Then think of Hess Select wines; they are suitable because they are generally very approachable and boast an agreeable $20 SRP.  Whereas the Hess Collection wines are produced from the winery's Mount Veeder Napa estate, the Hess Select wines are produced from grapes sourced from other California appellations. Many of these are small family growers whom Hess Family Wine Estates has established long term relationships. Here are two such wines we received this month.

Hess Select Central Coast Pinot Noir ($20) - The grapes are sourced primarily from the Santa Lucia Highlands in Monterey. Director of Winemaking Dave Guffy says these grapes are grown in the Sarmento Vineyard, "located on the benchlands of the Gabilan Mountains in Monterey, where the Pacific breezes boldly cross the range each afternoon to cool the vineyards". This results in an extended and moderate growing season. ...

Jeroboams Bordeaux Rouge 2016

If only all young Bordeaux Rouge were like this Jeroboams Bordeaux Rouge 2016 (François Thienpont), France (£13.45 Jeroboams) Young, fresh plummy claret, with juicy blackcurrant fruit in abundance, sympathetic use of oak, and a vibrant, perfumed finish. Rounded and appealing, but carries its 14% alcohol well. S-

Nebbiolo is Still King at Breaux Vineyards

Breaux Vineyards opened in 1997 when it was only the fifth winery in Loudoun County and the 50th in Virginia. Today Breaux is one of the largest of the 43 wineries in Loudoun and statewide (270 wineries) and its success can be attributed to several factors -- starting with their location at the western foothills of the Blue Ridge and Short Hill Mountains. The 104-acre estate benefits from plenty of sunshine from late morning to sunset and consistent breezes that help alleviate mildew.

The second factor occurred when founder Paul Breaux and original winemaker Dave Collins (owner of Maryland's Big Cork Vineyards) not only heavily invested in new state-of-the-art wine making equipment but also planted a pioneering set of vinifera grapes. These grapes include the standard Bordeaux varieties but also Virginia's signature grape Viognier and Nebbiolo. In fact, to this day Breaux is still only the third winery in ...

Wine of the Day, No. 395

San Antonio Winery is the only winery in the city of Los Angeles. It occupies the same building in which it was founded, in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, in 1917, by Italian immigrant Santo Cambianica. Prohibition came two years later, and Cambianica switched to making communion wine and selling grapes to home winemakers. After Repeal, the winery went back to producing table wines. The winery was designated a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Landmark in 1966. The family owns vineyards in Monterey County and Napa Valley and recently expanded into Paso Robles, the origin of the San Simeon Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, a robust cabernet with 5 percent petit verdot that aged 24 months in French and American oak barrels. The color is very dark ruby-purple with a lighter magenta rim; it’s a ripe, spicy and macerated wine that doesn’t tip over into exaggeration, though its heady aromas of black currants and plums ...

In celebration of Malbec World Day 2018…

April 17th is Malbec World Day (yes, that’s what the organisers call it, no idea why, imagine if we had Book World Day). So to get the party started, a varietal Malbec, plus a Malbec-heavy blend. Doña Paula ‘Paula’ Malbec 2017, Luján de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina (£9.99 Spirited Wines, Really attractive young gluggable style, […]

Wine of the Day, No. 366

“Winsome” is not an adjective I typically apply to cabernet sauvignon, but it certainly applies to the Toad Hollow Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, from California’s Lodi AVA. One hundred percent varietal and seeing a short time in French and American oak barrels, the wine offers a vivid dark ruby hue shading to transparent magenta; bright notes of ripe black cherries and currants are lightly dusted with graphite and iodine; the wine, though quite dry, is agile on the palate and light on its feet, and plum sweetness is tempered by a mulberry tang and brisk acidity; a few moments in the glass bring in hints of wood smoke and sandalwood, lavender and lilac, every element in appealing balance. 13.9 percent alcohol. Now through 2019 or ’20, with burgers, pizzas and spaghetti with marinara. Very Good+. About $17, representing Excellent Value. A sample for review.

Route 15 Wine Road: Warrenton’s Powers Farm & Brewery & Granite Heights Winery

Just south of Gainsville, through Warrenton and into Culpeper, Route 15 merges with Route 29 and runs through rolling hills in one corner of Virginia's wine and horse country. This is Fauquier County where the roads and rail lines were major trade thoroughfares as well as a highly prized transportation hubs fought over during the Civil War. During one of these battles, Bristoe Campaign (October - November 1863), troops fought just east of Warrenton in Auburn - a short detour off the main road.

While navigating this detour look for Powers Farm & Brewery in Midland, a very unique craft brewery. As it's name suggests, Powers is a working farm and not just hops, just look at their Produce CSA. As for their field beers they use on-farm ingredients such as hops, herbs, fruits, vegetables, plus foraged bark and berries. Each of these non-standard ingredients add different characters to the ...

Weekend Wine Notes: A Range of Cabernets

The range of these cabernet sauvignon wines starts with geography; we touch Napa and Sonoma in California, Clare Valley and Coonawarra in Australia, and Chile’s Maipo Valley. The deployment of the cabernet grape ranges from a 3/4 majority to 100 percent. Prices range from $20 to $140 and ratings from Very Good+ to Exceptional, implying that at least in those directions there’s something here for everyone who likes the grape. The vintages are 2013, ’14 and ’15. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the details of technical, geological, historical and personnel matters for the sake of incisive reviews ripped, as it were, from the pages of my notebooks and designed to pique your interest and whet your palate. Enjoy … always in sensible moderation. With one exception, these wines were samples for review.

Burgess Cellars Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Napa Valley. 14.7% alc. 75% ...

Wine of the Day, No. 356

You know what most cabernet sauvignon wines priced at $15 and under are like, right? Hollow, generic, bland. Pay heed, then, about what I have to say in regard to the Lucinda & Millie Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, made from organic vineyards in Mendocino County and elevated, as the French say, in a combination of stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels. It’s the best cabernet in its price range that I have encountered in a long time. The color is vivid deep ruby, an appropriate lead-in to the freshness and vigor of a tautly structured wine that runs out a line of bright acidity for liveliness and drinkability. Scents and flavors of ripe black currants and raspberries are permeated by notes of cedar and boxwood and allusive hints of bell pepper and black olive; the wine offers the sense of balance and proportion of a more expensive model, but on ...

Wine of the Day, No. 353

The Hess Collection “Allomi” Cabernet Sauvignon 2015, Napa Valley, could stand as an exemplar of that famed region’s penchant for sleek, chiseled cabernet wines. Aged 18 months in American oak, 25 percent new barrels, this cabernet, a blend of 92 percent cabernet sauvignon with 6 percent petite sirah and 2 percent petit verdot, offers a dark ruby-purple hue and heady aromas of ripe and fleshy black cherries, raspberries and plums permeated by iodine and mint that unfurl just a hint of vanilla, cloves and bittersweet chocolate. With its dense, gritty tannins, the thing feels hewed from flint, delivering a lithe and supple texture and intense, concentrated black-skin fruit that delves deep into areas of walnut shell, brambles and forest floor; vibrant acidity lends the wine lips-smacking drinkability, all concluding in a large-framed, granitic finish. 14.8 percent alcohol. Winemaker was Dave Guffy. Now through 2023 to ’25 with your heartiest ...

Cloudburst Cabernet 2013

Margaret River. 13.2%. Approx $A300.

Monumental. A black wine, dense and impenetrable. . . it's been years since I've had something so deeply coloured; I've intentionally drifted towards the lighter, whimsical, non Cabernet side of the of the fence. . . Clear and defined, a ripe Margaret river cabernet nose - cassis and not a hint of green. Mid palate spice an opening creaminess and then firm meaty tannins. Fast acids, but mostly the impression is of something bold, staining and dense.