Friday, July 23, 2010

Concannon Livermore Valley Chardonnay 2008

For years, I’ve had an aversion to Chardonnay, more specifically California Chardonnay’s but lately I’ve had a few tasty CA chards and Concannon Livermore Valley Chardonnay, is one of those varietals that have me rethinking my position.

Bright yellow in the glass, aromas of pineapple, mango and peaches just scream summer wine. The flavors are buttery but not that usual thick butter flavor but more like a lightly buttered popcorn. Creamy mouthfeel and a lite citrus finish.

Founded in 1883 in Livermore Valley, CA, James Concannon was the first to plant Bordeaux cuttings and produce Bordeaux style wines in California. It was James’ dream to create world class Bordeaux and Rhone style wines. As a founding family of California wine and four generations of family involvement, Concannon is the oldest continually operating winery in California under the same family name.

Like many Irish immigrants, James Concannon first arrived in New York and made his way West to California. He came across Livermore Valley where the rocky soil and east-west orientation resembled the wine regions of southern France. During the days of Prohibition the winery was given special permission to make sacramental wines, allowing the winery to continue their operations. Four generations later, the family mixes modern innovations and techniques with the family’s core commitment to create impeccable wines.

As our electric bill soars to an all time high, you don’t even want to know the amount, I’m focused on keeping cool with my lovely Concannon Chardonnay.

The wine pairs well with Thai Jasmine rice and spicy shrimp, chicken or pork.

My rating – too good to put down

2010© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bougrier Family Wines Cave de la Nantaise Loire Valley Muscadet 2009

I feel like we’re already in the “Dog Days of Summer” and starting to feel a little hum drum. I do have an upcoming vacation but in the meantime, just feeling a little blah. I was hoping a nice bottle of Bougrier Family Wines Cave de la Nantaise Loire Valley Muscadet, could pull me out of my doldrums. It wasn’t terrible but certainly didn’t provide any of the spark I was hoping to experience but still, not a bad summer wine.

Color is light yellow with a green sheen. Citrus flavors along with pear provide for a fresh and crisp acidic wine. Similar to Bourgrier’s Anjou wine but less of the champagne flavor. Definitely on the drier side and the finish is a little like sucking on a lime peel but still nice for these hotter days.

Bourgrier Family winery is the ninth largest wine producer in France’s Loire Valley. The vineyard, Caves de la Nantaise, is located in the Muscadet appellation. The vineyards proximity to the Atlantic Ocean produces light and refreshing dry white wines. Caves de la Nantaise, the third winery in the Bourgrier family line was created in 2008. With two well established wineries, the Bourgrier family decided it was time to branch out onto the Atlantic Ocean coastline.

Did you know, typically in France, Appellation d'origine contrôlée wines are named after their growing region, the name Muscadet is an exception. Muscadet refers to a characteristic of the wine produced by the melon grape varietal. In French they would say: “vin qui a un goût musqué” or “wine with a musk-like taste”.

I picked up just a little of the musk but mostly was hit by the citrus flavors. The acidity and lime tastes pair well with any shellfish. Perfect time to show your support for the Gulf Coast regions not yet affected by the oil spill. Ask your local fish monger if they have any nice Gulf shrimp.

My rating - We'll drink the rest tomorrow.

2010© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

d’Autrefois Pinot Noir Alfio Moriconi Selection 2008

Just when I needed a pick me up from all the blah weather here in Florida, my wine choice was a bit of a let down. Deciding to try yet another Alfio Moriconi selection I picked up a French Pinot Noir by D’Autrefois which left me feeling even more down than before. I wasn’t undrinkable, just not much going on and I was a little disappointed.

Aromas consisting of leather and berries had me seeing sunny skies. First sip however and the black clouds returned. Dry with high tannins, some red berry flavors but overall not a lot going on. There was a hint of spiciness but not enough to make me want to go back for a second glass.

Producer - d’Autrefois
Variety - Pinot Noir
Designation - Alfio Moriconi Selection
Country - France
Region - Languedoc Roussillon
Appellation - Vin de Pays d’Oc

There are three tiers of Vin de Pays: regional, departmental and local. Within these tiers there are six regional Vin de Pays, covering large areas of France. These regions are then broken into around 50 departments. Each department governs or controls how the grapes are produced. The departments or zones may be based on a specific terroir allowing the wines to be produced under the same growing conditions.

Maybe I was hoping for a little more happy clouds banish all the storm clouds. I can’t say the wine isn’t worth another try. I really think it may be pretty good as a braising wine.

My rating - We’ll use it in sauce.

2010© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo Granach 2008

Just in time for Spain’s running with the bulls, a wine that tastes a bit bullish.
When shopping for a new wine, price is important but I also look to the label and the name. When coming across Tempra Tantrum Tempranillo Granach 2008, I couldn’t resist the raging bull on the label nor the play on words. I wish I would have run when I had the chance.

Aromas consist of berries and loads of alcohol. Some fruitiness on the palate but the harsh tannins and high alcohol result in a burn at the back of the palate. Flavors are unbalanced, bland and at best a mediocre wine.

Tempra Tantrum vineyards located in Tierra de Castilla, Spain carries 4 blends each containing 60% Tempranillo and 40% blend. Could be Merlot, Shiraz, Grenache or Cabernet. Current winemaker, Rocio Osborne, is a sixth generation vintner who refers to these as a new generation of Spanish wines, reflecting an expression of her life.

I think this is a good example of those cutesy little “critter” labels. They draw the consumer in but how good is the wine. Don’t get me wrong, some times those cute labels truly contain nice wines but it my experience it seems the juice in the bottle is a huge let down. Makes me wonder, are they more concerned about creating a label to appeal to the masses or do they want to create great wine that will speak volumes on its own?

My hope is that as wine lovers, while we may occasionally be pulled into the cute labels, we will judge the wine on its flavor and not its marketability. As for this wine, don’t bother, it went down the drain after sitting on the counter for a few days.

My rating - Undrinkable

2010© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Shenandoah Vineyards Special Reserve Zinfandel 2008

Unfortunately the July 4th weekend was pretty much a wash out in Florida. With 4 days of rain and clouds and more on the way, the lack of sunshine has me shying away from those summer whites and reaching for Shenandoah Vineyards Special Reserve Zinfandel.

Aromas are full of spice and blackberry, flavors are well balanced with lush Bing cherries, plums and a hint of earth on the finish. The tannins are smooth and not too bold. The wine has a nice smooth mouthfeel and is perfect for summer drinking even when the sun isn’t shining.
Founded by Leon and Shirley Sobon in 1977, Shenandoah Vineyards is still family owned and part of the Sobon Family Wines and Estate. The wineries have operated for over 32-years and emphasize high fruit and low tannin wines.

The Shenandoah wines are produced in the Amador Zinfandel style. In the 1970’s, Amador County wine growers were known for producing high alcohol wines as a result of late harvesting. While the wines appealed immensely to some, to others the wines were over the top. Because Zinfandel grapes ripen unevenly and the over ripe grapes can produce overly sweet and higher alcohol wines. The wines are now produced with more finesse producing robust full-bodied and well balanced wines.

Don’t get this California region confused with the region by the same name in Virginia. Located in Plymouth, CA Shenandoah Valley terroir produces grapes with a richness and intensity not found in other regions. As the least elevated AVA the Valley has the warmest climate providing for a longer growing period. Wineries in this region focus on Zinfandel, where the grapes are able to develop high sugar levels producing full-bodied and spicy wines.

As my summer tan begins to fade due to the lack of sunshine, at least my wine choices are still shining bright.

My rating - Too good to put down

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc and the new Octavin Wine Bar packaging

Just in time for those July 4th picnics and back yard cookouts, Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc, a yummy wine to quench your palate, now comes in a package that won’t fall over on uneven ground (spilled wine is a sin), end up broken and embedded in someone’s foot and will last a few weeks if you just can’t finish it off in one sitting.

I recently received a free sample of Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc in the new 3 liter Octavin Wine Bar. The eight sided box takes up less space then most four sided boxed wines, providing for more room in your wine fridge, is the equivalent of four 750 ml bottles and reduces waste by 85% and carbon emissions by 55%.

Pear and peach aromas along with a hint of grass waft out of the glass while fresh flavors of kiwi, pear and green apple wash over the palate. The acids are well balanced and provide for a nice crisp finish. The wine is just slightly sweet but a perfect for a spicy rub on some ribs or with brats.

Silver Birch Sauvignon Blanc is produced in the Marlborough winegrowing region in New Zealand. The cool climate of the region provides for an extended growing period allowing the grapes to sweeten naturally on the vine. The winery uses stainless steel tanks and simple winemaking techniques for a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

I love box wine that actually tastes good. It’s nice just to grab a glass when in the mood and not have to open another bottle. Released this past May, I have not seen this in stores yet but retails online for $16.99. The wine will stay fresh up to six weeks, but who can keep open wine around that long, I know I can’t.

Enjoy and have a happy and safe 4th of July.