This seem to have moved very little since my last encounter, though I concede it’s more complex and I’m more impressed this time around. . . It seems very fresh and bright, befitting of the seal and the over the top cellaring (4 degrees C for the last 5 years). . . stones and peach, citrus oil/curry leaf, marzipan and butterscotch. Flesh and zip, fatty and lush in the mouth, frontal but with lovely length and poise. A treat. 17.5 – 18/20
I won’t assert that the Diatom Bar-M Chardonnay 2018, Los Alamos Valley, is the best chardonnay I’ve tasted this year, but even framing the issue in that parameter implies that it’s a pretty damned good chardonnay. Made by Greg Brewer, of Brewer-Clifton — acquired by Jackson Family Wines in 2017 — this Diatom ’18 was fashioned in small stainless steel tanks; malolactic was inhibited. The result is a chardonnay of stunning purity and intensity. The color is pale straw-gold; immediately attractive aromas of pineapple and grapefruit, green apple and cloves are enveloped in a haze of talc, honeysuckle and damp flint. On the palate, this chardonnay — delicate as a seashell but displaying plenty of energy — hovers in exquisite poise between an almost powdery texture and bright, vivid acidity, so the effect is spare, dry and elegant, yet with a back-note of ripe, cushiony stone-fruit flavors; a tide of …
The De Wetshof Limestone Hill Chardonnay 2018, from South Africa’s Robertson region, is certainly among the best unoaked — or “unwooded” — chardonnays I have encountered. Made all in stainless steel and resting four months in tank on the lees, this chardonnay offers a very pale straw hue and lovely purity and intensity of pineapple and grapefruit scents and flavors that unfurl notes of green apple, spiced pear, flint and smoke. The wine is bright and animated on the palate, displaying a lithe and supple texture and winsome hints of talc and orange blossom; the finish is a pool of scintillating limestone minerality. 13.2 percent alcohol. Winemakers were Danie and Peter de Wet. Great as aperitif or with a multitude of seafood dishes. Excellent. About $16, representing Great Value.
A Margaret river pair. . . infants really, not yet ready for battle.
2017 Vasse Felix Heytesbury Chardonnay (13%). Still dominated by a shroud of oak and cream, butterscotch and curry leaf; the fruit obscured, but the quality is apparent. From 2021 perhaps.
2015 Cullen Diana Madeline (13%). A few weeks earlier, I had tried a 2013 Diana Madeline and was struck by the poise and balance. Possibly the best youngish DM I can recall. . . This in contrast is unresolved, smudged. Black currant and a sharp prod of menthol, creamy and rich in the mouth – inky, dark chocolate tannins.
The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and concluding at the shrine of St. James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela in the Spanish province of Galicia. The pilgrimages started very shortly after the believed discovery of the tomb of the Patron Saint of Spain in 814. There are two competing claims regarding James evangelization of the Iberian Peninsula with one, based on the Epistle to the Romans where St. Paul suggests a disciple hadn’t visited Spain and the alternative, that after James was martyred in AD 44 his remains were transported back to the land that he had in fact evangelized.
Regardless, pilgrims flocked to the site using the Camino de Santiago and Wines of Navarra website, “in 1234 the first of a succession of French monarchs ascended by marriage to the throne of the Kingdom …
Who’s been looking for wine distributed in alternative packaging to bring along during hiking, cycling, boating, or fishing trips? I know I have. And I recently received a strong contender from Winesellers Ltd. a trio of wines packaged in 375ml cans (SRP $5.99). The wines are produced by Santa Julia, an Argentine brand that leverages their Mendoza location. The winery practices certified organic vineyard management, thus two of these wines are labeled Organic. The Organic Chardonnay provides a classic unoaked Chardonnay flavor; very refreshing with subtle depth and sufficient acidity. The Organic Malbec Rosé behaves again as expected, refreshing with layers of strawberries. However, the red Tintillo is the most interesting as the 50-50 blend of Malbec and Bonarda is fermented using carbonic maceration — a process where the grapes are fermented intact order to achieve a fruitier wine. It’s also designed to drink chilled, or mildly so …
Many years ago, Michael Goodell and Mary Northcutt met on the campus of a small university in Southern California. They got married sometime after, had a daughter and a son, and throughout the course of many a wine tasting, had a long-standing dream to own a winery and vineyard one day. They eventually settled on a 150-acre estate in Northern Michigan. The land had once been owned by the Amore family but was later abandoned. In 2013, on the gently sloping hills overlooking South Lake Leelanau, Michael, Mary, Emily, and Matthew planted Amoritas Vineyards’ first wine grapes.
The family opened a new tasting room in December of 2017, and while Mary had passed away by then, the Goodells have worked hard to keep her dreams alive ever since. Thirteen sustainably farmed acres are currently under vine, and they produce a range …
First the Leeuwin, an ascendant 2015 Art Series. There is much to observe and admire, the superb acids, the texture, balance and sting. It’s the showier and more impressive of the two, the aftertaste more enduring, the energy more compelling.
The Giaconda was older, possibly on the other side of its peak, a 2012, also under stelvin. It’s the more smouldering and aromatic wine – flint and curry leaf with a citrus edge. The shape is stubby in comparison, with more sticks and stones. Traces of black cardamon.
I would like to introduce you to one of several delicious gems I had an opportunity to try during a recent virtual chat on Twitter’s #winestudio educational wine program. Leading this segment were the good folks at Michigan Wine Collaborative, a non-profit organization working to put Michigan on the global stage of the wine world. I’ve been fortunate (and curious) enough to try a number of wines from The Great Lakes State, and appreciate some of the regional hallmarks found in their wines. These include fresh fruit flavors, natural acid brightness, restraint, low to moderate levels of alcohol, and food-friendliness—all a result of a cool climate.
“Many viticultural experts around the world believe that a vineyard only starts to produce truly exceptional wines after it has reached 25 or 30 years of age. We believe we are there!” ~ Chateau Chantal
The Maryland Wineries Association has designated March as Maryland Wine Month and to follow the action they are promoting the #WeAreMarylandWine (in addition to #MDWine #MDWineTrails & #MDWineMonth) tag on all social media platforms. There are also numerous events and activities scheduled at various wineries and retailers across the state — all listed on the MD Wine website. So we decided to dedicate more time this month to visit the Free State and visited two that are open seven days a week – navigating with theCompass Craft Beverage Finder.
We started at Catoctin Breeze Vineyard, located north of Frederick on the Route 15 Wine Road. Being a club member, our tastings were complimentary so we went through both their Signature ($10) and Sweet ($8) tastings. After previous visits, I have discussed their wonderful dry Estate Syrah, Estate Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay among others. So let me venture into the …
The final segment of the #WineStudio – Michigan Wine Collaborative presentation featured a pioneer in that state’s wine industry: Chateau Chantal Winery. In 1983 Robert and Nadine Begin purchased 60 acres of cherry orchards in the Old Mission Peninsula to form the foundation for Begin Orchards. They quickly diversified into winegrapes and planted various grapes varieties including Chardonnay — planted in 1986. Fast forward to today and Chateau Chantal is not only a respected winery but also a hospitality center with a B&B and rooms for executive retreats. In addition, those 30+ year old Chardonnay vines are maturing nicely and were recently the sole vintage in the Chateau Chantal 2016 30-year-vineyard Anniversary Reserve Chardonnay ($30). This barrel-fermented wine is very representative of Michigan Chardonnay with layers of lemon, peaches, green apples, creamy texture, slight vanilla, and finishing with lifting acids. A delicious wine. Cheers.
Midway through the lunar festival and the chance to open and revisit some older bottles. . .
Not in picture – a green skinny bottle of unsurprisingly fresh and pert Grüner. Prager Hinter Der burg 2008. 12%. Screwcap. Pale, peppery and primary. Peach, pollen and polished stone. Super texture – in retrospect, like a mouth full of citrus and white flowers. Lovely acidity and poise. My drinking companion thought it was a 2018 riesling – so fresh. It’s the more expensive (though I’ve long forgotten the price) sibling to this bottle that I tried a decade ago.
Also unseen – a bottle of 2010 Mountadam Chardonnay. It’s become a butter ball – round and full, very old school / 1980’s in shape and accent. Butterscotch and almond meal. In passing.
The half bottle of the 2011 Lake’s Folly Caberents is starting to turn I think. Still …
So, what do you want in a chardonnay wine made in California? Lushness, oak, spice and tropical flavors? Or spareness, elegance and minerality? Somehow the Eberle Winery Estate Chardonnay 2017, Paso Robles, manages to meld all those qualities into a perfectly integrated whole that should gratify adherents of either mode. Half the wine is made in stainless steel tanks, the other half in French oak, 25 percent new barrels. The color is bright medium gold; classic notes of pineapple and grapefruit are permeated by hints of cloves and jasmine, with touches of smoke and quince preserves; the balance between a moderately dense texture and lithe, lively energy provides not just pleasure but a kind of thrill on the palate. This chardonnay is dry but juicy and flavorful, all elements accruing to a burgeoning limestone quality through the finish. 14.5 percent alcohol. Production was 2,797 cases; the winery should make …
Actually, the title of this post is a misnomer. What I offer today, in the first Weekend Wine Notes of 2019, are 10 wines that rate Excellent and two that rate Exceptional, the latter both pinot noirs from different regions of California. Also included in this diverse roster are a Gewurztraminer 2012 from Alsace; a chardonnay from Sonoma Coast; two sauvignon blancs, one from New Zealand, the other from Tuscany; a monumental cabernet/shiraz blend from Australia’s McLaren Vale region as well as an equally monumental 100 percent shiraz from Padthaway; two wines from Costières de Nîmes in the Southern Rhone Valley, one white, one red; a Spätlese Riesling from Rheingau, in Germany; and a stylish merlot from Walla Walla, Washington. As usual in these Weekend Wine Notes, I eschew the technical, historical and geographical data that I dote on for the sake of quick and incisive reviews ripped, as it …
The title of this post needs no elaboration, but I’ll inform you that prices range from $7.50 to $20. It’s a diverse group of wines. Seven from France; 6 California; 5 Italy; 2 each Argentina, Australia, Chile and Oregon; 1 each Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal and South Africa. (Welcome, Bulgaria!) By genre or hue: 1 sparkling wine; 3 rosé; 10 red and 16 white. As a matter of fact, the 30 wines on this roster would make a great restaurant wine list. So, enjoy! In moderation, of course.
With one exception, these wines were samples for review.
Albert Bichot Bourgogne Aligoté 2015, Burgundy, France. Excellent. About $16.
Amalaya Malbec 2016, Salta, Mendoza, Argentina. With 10 percent tannat, 5 petit verdot. Excellent. About $16.
My first visit to South America was last year and I must say that before the trip (it was to Uruguay), I realized that many American wine consumers think that South America is all Malbec.
Well, pretty much all Malbec.
While it is true that Malbec may be a signature grape in Argentina, it isn’t all that grows there. According to Wines of Argentina data, Malbec runs about 36% of red wine. Next up, with about 16.5%, is Bonarda. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and trickle down from there.
Flip the script to white wines and the biggest cultivar is Torrontés Riojano at about 20% then Chardonnay with 16%. Following are Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Torrontés Sanjuanino. Interestingly, the biggest category for white wines is “other”, socking the system at nearly 43%. Wine friends, you know you want to swim around in the “other” category …