Friday, January 28, 2011

2009 Cupcake Red Velvet Red Wine

Part three of my Valentine love journey brings me to that stage where everything just feels right. You and your partner are melding perfectly and you feel so comfortable and sure of your relationship. That brings me to Cupcake Vineyards latest release, Red Velvet. The word velvet brings two things to mind, comfort and sensuality. Two very important components to any relationship.
Bouquet consists of red fruits and chocolate, intense flavors of blackberry, mocha and more chocolate. Complex flavors and soft tannins make this a very loving wine. A blend of Zinfandel, Merlot and Cabernet, the bold flavors are consistent with each sip. SRP is $12 but I found at Total Wine for $8.99.

The grapes are harvested from some of California’s premium wine regions. Each region was specially chosen for its ability to produce grapes with a unique features adding to the bold and over the top flavors of the blend. After harvesting, the varietals are fermented on their own, later combined and put through a unique oak procedure that adds a bit of creaminess to the flavor.

I was wondering exactly how Cupcake got their name and if it had anything to do with the current cupcake craze and found they’re not totally unrelated. The thought behind the name Cupcake was to create the feeling you get by rewarding yourself. I see this translating into a romantic evening as well. Two delicious NY strips, leek and potato au gratin and a bottle of Red Velvet. Sounds like the makings of a great reward to me.

Send a Cupcake gram to your Valentine and later that evening break out the bottle of Red Velvet and lose yourselves in its rapture.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2008 Wild Rock Cupid’s Arrow Pinot Noir

Part two of my Valentine’s Day and stages of love looks at once the infatuation stage passes and you move into the true love stage. Not to sound like a Bon Jovi song but just when you least expect it; bam! Shot through the heart. Nothing goes better with this topic than Wild Rock’s Cupid’s Arrow Pinot Noir.

Aromas filled with black berry, raspberry and a hint of floral. Flavors are rich and spicy full of plum and cherry flavors. Due to the bold tannins and acidity it takes a few sips to get past the puckering in the cheeks. Once my palate adjusts, the wine softens and provides a lingering juicy finish. A medium bodied wine with a really nice personality.

Varietal – Pinot Noir
Region – Central Otago, New Zealand
Alcohol – 13.4%
TA – 5.94g/l
Ph – 3.58

Leading the way for a new style of wines, Wild Rock’s Steve Smith, has been listed as one of the 50 most influential people in the wine world. Pretty impressive, I must say. Steve and his winemaking team are known for crafting exciting new wines using sustainable wine growing methods. One application of this practice in the vineyards is hand harvesting 80% of the grapes.

New Zealand wine is primarily produced in ten major wine growing regions Listing from north to south Northland, Auckland, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, Hawke's Bay, Wellington, Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury/Waipara and Central Otago. Cupid’s Arrow is sourced from hillside vineyards in Central Otago. The grapes are grown in varying elevations and soils giving each patch its own distinct taste and characteristic. To quote the winemaker, “Wild Rock has a simple goal; to make new and unforgettable wines.”

As we journey through the stages of love, Cupid’s Arrow hit its mark and got me in the heart with this wine. Tune in on Thursday to see what stages love will take us to next.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

2007 Spellbound Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and it got me thinking about all the stages of love one goes through. Spellbound is part one of my wines for Valentine’s Day journey. Mysterious, seductive and lusty describes Spellbound Cabernet Sauvignon. It represents the phase of love when everything is new and exciting and you find yourself falling deeper and deeper under loves spell.

Aromatic tobacco, vanilla and oak take hold of the senses. Sensual and seductive flavors of dark fruit and oak fill the your mouth. Lush plum, black cherry and leather round out the palate. The tannins are well structured and hold their own, complimenting the fine flavors and aromas. The finish is long and smooth. Whew, it’s getting a little warm in here.

Varietal Blend: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon 20% other proprietary dry red wines
Region: Lodi, California
Aging: 90% French and American oak barrels
TA: 6.3 g/L
pH: 3.56
Alcohol: 13.5%

Through a desire to create every day wines that still entice and tantalize the senses, Robert Michael Mondavi, Jr. (Rob), crafted Spellbound. Through a partnership with his wife Lydia and others, Mondavi’s focus was on California’s heritage varietals. Grandson to the late Robert Mondavi, Rob, spent most of his childhood playing in the family winery. As he grew up, he took on a variety of roles and learned the business from top to bottom. Acting now as winemaker for Spellbound Rob furthers his grandfathers commitment to excellence.

Spellbound is like a relationship just recently formed. That time when everything is new, exciting and full of intrigue. When you can bear to pull yourselves apart, you find yourself spending most thinking about the other person. You can’t wait to drink in more and more of that new relationship high. Those are my thoughts and feelings exactly on Spellbound.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2008 Antigal UNO Malbec Mendoza Argentina

I know I’ve said this before but man have I got a great gig. A few weeks ago I received a wine sample and press release from Antigal Winery and Estates located in Mendoza Argentina. This sample was a bottle of their 2008 UNO Malbec. I think this may have been one of the nicest Malbecs I’ve had in awhile.

Aromas of spice, earth and plum waft out of the glass. Refined black fruits and more spice hit the palate. The finish carries a hint of vanilla and oak. The wine is medium to full bodied yet retains silky smooth tannins.

UNO is the winery’s limited-production wine. The unique and beautiful bottle would draw anyone’s attention immediately. Arriving in the US around the same time the Malbec craze began, UNO offered a new style of Malbec by substituting multi-layered elegance for the typical powerhouse intensity.

Antigal Winery is located in Maipú, Argentina which has the honor of being called the birthplace of Argentinean wine. Built in 1897 and having gone through many renovations the winery is state-of–the-art with equipment from France and Italy. By using a gravity-flow system the need for forceful pumps and crushers has been eliminated.

The vineyards are located in Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina and benefit from Mendoza’s highest elevations. Planted in strategic locations to take advantage of the snow-melt from the Andes Mountains. Each varietal location was chosen to take advantage of the best growing conditions. High elevations provide hot days and cool nights, high amounts of ultra-violet rays from the sun, and beneficial air circulations. Each contributes to the flavor and aromatics of the grape.

Hand harvested and pruned the pure flavors and aromatics shine through. This wine was truly a wonderful surprise and I hope to have the opportunity to sample more in the Antigal line in the near future.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Target Wine Finds

Kate & Cassie Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Santa Rosa

2009 Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red Paso Robles

It’s funny how you never know where you’ll find your next wine find. This is a tale of two wine finds, one pretty good and one I wouldn’t bother with again. Both found at my local Target, sporting labels I was not familiar with, I decided to give them a shot. Kate & Cassie Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend got me with their trendy black and white label while Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red lassoed me in with its bronco bucking cowboy.

Kate & Cassie Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot Santa Rosa
Aromas of spicy black pepper had me thinking this could be something great. First sip brought an overwhelming smoke flavor. So strong it overpowers all other flavors and made me feel like I was drinking the wine in the middle of a forest fire. I did detect a faint hint of red and black fruits. The finish is slightly soapy and perfume like and unbalanced.
I checked out their website and was a bit surprised to see fashion tips listed. I then discovered it’s clothing Cassie likes from where else; Target. I also found a number of spacing and character errors on their site. If I felt they were serious about the wine, I could overlook but I’m not sure if they’re trying to be winemakers, fashion divas or home cooks.
They refer to themselves as childhood friends, wine lovers, foodies and fashionistas. Think I’ll leave this wine in the Target aisle next time I’m there. SRP - $8.99

Purple Cowboy Tenacious Red Paso Robles
After the atrocity of the Kate & Cassie, I was a little frightened to try my second Target find but onward and upward. Aromas had me perplexed and a little timid not that it was off, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Almost vegetative but this is a red wine, I shouldn’t smell anything green. Then I nailed it, baked potato. Not an aroma or flavor I’ve ever picked up in any other wine. Flavors were earthy up front, cola flavor hits mid-palate and cocoa powder on the finish.
I don’t think everyone would appreciate this wine as it truly is an odd mix of aromas and flavors but for some reason, they work. If you’re looking for fashion tips, you’ll have to look else where, this website is all about the wine. SRP – $10.99

Looks like I hit the bullseye on at least one of my Target finds. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2009 St. Francis Chardonnay Sonoma County

With so much of the country digging out from snow, think it’s time to bring a little summer into the picture with a 2009 St. Francis Chardonnay Sonoma County. I picture myself outside with sunlight on my face, St. Francis Chard in my glass and some ribs or great tasting hot dog on my plate.

Aromas are a little closed but after swirling, pineapple and apple aromas waft out of the glass. Crisp citrus, melon and tropical fruits flavors. Not too much oak and a touch of honey in the finish. I was taken by surprise by the high acidity in the finish but my palate quickly adapted. Light, refreshing and a nice easy drinking Chardonnay. SRP is listed as $15.

Spending time in Sonoma takes you away to another place and time. Life slows down, the air is crisp and the mountains serene. It’s a chance to escape from the normal confines of ones everyday life. One look at St. Francis Winery and their iconic bell tower and you’re immediately taken away to another place and time. The winery is named after St. Francis of Assisi, who is known as the protector of the natural world and believed to have been the first to bring European grape cultivation to the new world.

The winery’s history began in 1971 when Joe Martin purchased the Behler Ranch. In the beginning Joe sold his grapes to surrounding wineries and in 1979 began bottling for himself. With a passion for the land that has been so gracious to Joe, the winery practices what they preach. The winery, vineyards and visitor’s center apply green methods of pest control, cooling, lighting, bottling and even transportation. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy that they’re giving back to the land.

So as we bundle up against the elements, go to another place in your mind. One with palm trees, charcoal grills and deep pit smokers. I’ll provide the St. Francis, who’s bringing the coleslaw?

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, January 6, 2011

2008 Quivera Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel

Ever have one of those wines that is such a surprise you start thinking, this wine may just change my life! Ok, well maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration but a recent sample 2008 Quivera Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel was so delightful, I’m hoping I receive additional sample offerings from Quivera in the near future.

Zesty and spicy pepper aromas, smoky flavors hit front palate, plum and raspberry join the party mid-palate, complex and lingering fruity finish. Perfect balance between sweet and dry with well structured tannins.

Appellation – Dry Creek Valley
Varietal – 95% Zinfandel, 5% Syrah
Alcohol – 14.8%
Production – 4,200 cases

In a previous Quivera review, click here, I covered the wineries biodynamic practices. Looking at the Events tab on their website speaks to how the winery follows through with this belief. If you happen to find yourself in Heraldsburg, CA on Feb. 12, you can reserve your seat for their from Farm-to-Table dinner. The event offers guests a chance to observe Quivera’s farming and winemaking practices. As an attendant you have the opportunity to play winemaker in a blending session. I’ve been a part of a blending session and it really is fun to taste your wine and compare to others. I have to say, my blend was voted 2nd best in a group of 14, enough about me though. The evening ends with a three-course dinner featuring heritage pig raised on the estate and heirloom vegetables grown in their gardens. .I’ll be incredibly jealous of anyone who does attend!

The wild boar on the label makes me happy, the juice inside the bottle makes me happier. While wine may not be life altering, it certainly can be mood altering.

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

2007 Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve Red Wine

I always feel a little melancholy after the holidays. The tree comes down, decorations put in storage, back to a normal work routine. Seems everyone is so eager to put the holidays behind and forge full steam ahead into the new year. Maybe just one more night of Christmas music to enjoy with my sample of 2007 Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve Red Wine.

Smoke and spicy blackberry aromatics, fresh and vibrant cherry and chocolate flavors. Finishes with lingering flavors of cocoa. A nice dry and very elegant wine.

Appellation – Columbia Valley, WA
Varietal – 65.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32.1% Merlot, 2.7% Cabernet Franc
Alcohol – 14.4%
TA – 0.55g/100ml
pH – 3.73
SRP - $30

Produced in the traditional Bordeaux style and representing the pinnacle of winemaking, the grapes were picked from Columbia Crest’s premier vineyards located throughout the Columbia Valley. Vineyards from the Wahluke Slope bring aromatics, texture and complexity to the grapes. Cold Creek vineyards contribute to the flavor and fruitiness while the Horse Heaven Hills vineyards offer balance and body.

Dr. Walter Clore is known as the “Father of the Washington Wine Industry”. Beginning in the 1930’s Dr. Clore’s viticulture research determined the best growing locations where premium wine grapes would thrive best. The research is responsible for putting Washington state on the winegrowing map, proving premium grapes could be grown in the rich volcanic soils. After becoming the assistant horticulturist at the Irrigation Branch Experiment Station, he supervised experimental plantings and by 1974, Clore had managed the plantings of 312 grape varieties.

The Columbia Crest website claims the Walter Clore is a wine that is easily worthy of aging for 10+ years. I decided to have a little fun with a new Christmas gift, a Clef du Vin. It's a teardrop-shaped piece of metal alloy that when dipped into a glass of wine is supposed to replicate the aging process. While I didn’t take it to the full 10 years, I did try to replicate what the wine would taste like if cellared for five years. The pepper and spice flavors became bolder, the dryness seemed to intensify and was really a very nice wine.

After all my sparkling wine consumption over the past month it was a delight to dive back into the red wines with a truly exceptional wine. Unfortunately this wine is sold out on the Columbia Crest website, told you it was good, but check with local owned wine stores for availability.

Happy 2011!

2011© Kellie Stargaard. All Rights Reserved.

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