Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Bordeaux 2004

According to the June 2005 edition of Decanter Magazine, the 2004 vintage is, in Bordeaux, a classic vintage of promising potential. According to Steven Spurrier, author of the article, it is comparable to 1996 and 1995. The wines from both banks are among the most lively, fruity and fresh that Bordeaux has ever produced. Plus they have higher natural tannins than the 2003s which should give them a long enough life for the collector. But with high yields and soft market conditions, this will not be a speculative vintage.

The weather was cool and gray most of the summer but turned warm and sunny in September, helping the grapes to ripen. For the estates that were able to control the extremely high yields during the summer, this month of September is what really saved the vintage.

Based on barrel tastings notes that I have read so far, here are the wines that I decided to order:
Château Angélus
Château Pavie-Macquin
Château Malescot Saint-Exupery
Château Margaux
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande
Château Pontet Canet
Château Cos d'Estournel
Château Léoville-Barton

Visit ManageYourCellar.com - Online Wine Cellar Software

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A winemaker dinner at Vino Locale

The June Winemaker Dinner at Vino Locale featured this month the DeRose Vineyards winery. The fabulous multi-course dinner was prepared by Mabel Bialson, owner of the Incredible Edibles, a catering company.

DeRose Vineyards is located in the Cienega Valley . The winery has a rich history - it is the "oldest existing winery" in the State of California according to wine historian Charles Sullivan - and many of the estate wines are made from vines that are over 100 years old.

We had a great time dining in the beautiful courtyard of the historic Victorian house where Vino Locale is located. The menu was a seven-course feast, each course paired with a DeRose wine.

Ralph Hurd, winemaker at DeRose presented the wines and Mabel Bialson presented the menu:

Grilled Shrimp and Apricots, Apricot Relish
2002 Sharknose Chardonnay Cienega Valley
The wine had a bright golden color. The nose was fresh with grapefruit aromas. On the palate, it was medium-bodied with butterscotch flavors, followed by crisp finish, This Chablis-style Chardonnay worked very well with the acidity of the apricot relish.

Thai Lobster Roll with Peanut Satay, Lemongrass, Ginger Sauce
2002 Viognier Cienega Valley

The wine comes from dryfarmed vines over 100 years old. The nose was very aromatic nose, a rich mouthfeel with sweet peach aromas on the palate and herb flavors that reminded me of Chartreuse liqueur on the finish. Maybe a little bit too sweet for my taste but it complemented very well the Asian flavors of the Thai dish.

Pan Roasted Salmon with Cabernet Sauce, Sauteed Baby Broccoli
2003 Cabernet Franc Cienega Valley
For me, this was the best fish dish of the dinner and thanks to the Cabernet sauce, it perfectly matched the wine. The wine had a dark inky color, sweet fruits on the nose and rich mouthfeel followed by some acidity on the finish.

Glazed Grilled Long Island Duck Breast with Orange & Spice Marinade, Port Reduction Sauce, Orange Glazed Carrots
2003 Merlot Livermore Valley
The wine had berry aromas on the nose. On the palate, it was full-bodied and slightly tannic. Its flavors worked very well with the Orange Glazed Carrots.

Tenderloin of beef with Ethiopian Longberry Coffee, Sour Cherry, Hollywood Red Reduction with Caramelized Shallots and Sun Dried Cherries, garnished with Shaved Bitter Chocolate
2002 Hollywood Red Cienega Valley
This one was the best meat dish and thanks to the Hollywood Red reduction, the coffee/chocolate aromas and the fruity cherries, it perfectly echoed the flavors of the wine.

Grilled Summer Lettuces with Prosciutto wrapped Mozzarella, Balsamic Glaze
2003 Dryfarm Zinfandel Cienega Valley
Coming from 110 years old vines, the wine had a spicy nose with berry aromas. The palate was full-bodied palate with chocolate and raisiny flavors and a tannic finish.

Tiramisu with Blueberries, Raspberries and Strawberries, Belgium Bittersweet Chocolate
1995 Cabernet Franc Port
This port exhibited coffee and black cherry aromas with a rich mouthfeel, and the tiramisu was delicious!

Tasting the rich DeRose Winery wines with the complex and intense flavors of the dishes that complemented them so well was an awesome experience.

Visit ManageYourCellar.com - Online Wine Cellar Software

Saturday, June 11, 2005

A taste of the Santa Cruz Mountains

Last Thursday, we tasted several wines from the Santa Cruz Mountains as we needed to assemble a selection of wines from this region for a tasting event.

We started with the 2002 Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountains. Mount Eden Vineyards is a small winery, focusing on small lots of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The estate Chardonnay comes from a low-yielding vineyard located in the Santa Cruz Mountain Range, above the fog level at 2,000 feet and about 15 miles from the ocean. The proximity of the ocean keeps the daytime temperature low and allows dry-farming. This wine is considered by many connoisseurs to be one of the longest-lived white wines produced in California.

The wine had a bright golden color, the nose was very aromatic with tropical fruits and notes of honey. The palate was medium to full-bodied with additional butterscotch flavors. On the finish, it was fresh and not too oaky at all. This was indeed one of the best wine of the evening.

After the Chardonnay, we tasted the 2002 Varner Pinot Noir Hidden Block Santa Cruz Mountains. Varner is a garage-sized winery owned by two brothers, Bob and Jim Varner. They believe that the best wine comes from winemakers who grow their own grapes and they are entirely devoted to handmade, Santa Cruz appellation Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

The wine had a medium garnet color. The nose had some light cassis and raspberry aromas, followed by more earthy flavors on the palate. Interestingly, it got sweeter and fruitier by the end of the evening. Overall, the wine was very pleasant with some attractive complexity.

Our next wine was the 2000 Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains. The Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet is sometimes considered as a poor man's Monte bello, Ridge's flagship wine. It is partly made from lower elevation vineyards whereas most of the highest vineyard fruit goes into the Monte Bello. There are also vinification differences between the two wines: the Santa Cruz Mountain goes into second- and third-year American oak, typically for 16 to 18 months. Monte Bello goes into 100% new American oak for somewhat longer.

The wine had an intense purple color. At first, we found some turpentine-like aromas on the nose that evolved into bell pepper and berry flavors. On the palate, it was medium-bodied with a disappointing hollow midpalate and some astringency on the finish. Overall, we gave the wine a low mark.

We finished the tasting with the 2001 Storrs Zinfandel Rusty Ridge Santa Clara Valley . Storrs is a small winery located in Santa Cruz, dedicated to Santa Cruz Mountains wines, mostly Chardonnay and Zinfandel. The grapes for this cool climate Zinfandel were grown in two very old, gnarly vined vineyards on the foothills of the Santa Clara Valley.

The wine had a deep garnet color. The nose exhibited strawberry and vanillin aromas. On the palate, it was medium-bodied with spices and fruits flavors. Tannins were still present on the finish. A truly pleasurable wine to end the evening with.

Visit ManageYourCellar.com - Online Wine Cellar Software

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Does Wine Make You Fat?

This was the topic of Natalie Decant's latest newsletter.
Here is what she says: The good news is that you can drink wine without getting fat. When it comes to both calories and carbohydrates, moderate wine drinking won't ruin your diet. Wine has no cholesterol, sodium or fat, and it's low in carbohydrates. Several studies indicate that drinking a glass or two of wine a day may have little effect on our weight.

Regular, moderate wine drinkers tend overall to be slimmer than teetotallers, according to a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And a 1991 Harvard study, which followed 138,000 men and women over ten years, found that increasing their alcohol intake didn't cause the subjects to gain weight. In fact, the women decreased their body weight by an average of about 15%, instead of gaining the weight predicted according to the calories they consumed. (Intriguingly, the men's weight stayed the same.)

Of course, when it comes to wine, moderation is key. Drinking more than one or two glasses a day will pile on the calories, as well as increase your chances of liver damage and other health problems.

So all this is good news for us, female wine drinkers. Even if we plan to slim down and be ready for the bathing suit season, we don't have to abandon your dear daily glass of wine!

Visit ManageYourCellar.com - Online Wine Cellar Software