Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bonterra Organic Vineyards

How can Memorial Day possibly be approaching, wasn’t it just New Year’s Eve? But I guess the calendar doesn’t lie. I celebrated my birthday in February and my wedding anniversary earlier this month, schools in my area are already out a new set of high school graduates are out there just waiting to have their dreams crushed. A little cynical I know but I remember oh so many years ago, the excitement and anticipation I felt just waiting to begin the next chapter of my life. Of course reality set in and I found myself getting my first part time job, attending college classes and eventually moving away from home. After college it took me a year and half to get my first real job. Definitely don’t want to go back to that time in my life but wouldn’t mind having my twenty-something body back.

I guess that’s not going to happen so may as well settle back and drink some more wine. How about organic wines, every little bit helps, right? Two recent samples from Bonterra focus on organic growing practices. Bonterra Organic Vineyards Viognier 2010 and Bonterra Organic Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2010.

Bonterra Organic Vineyards Viognier Mendocino County 2010
Aromas of peach and honeysuckle draw you in for the first sip. Sweet luscious peach flavors combine with apricot, almond and a burst of pink grapefruit in the finish. The wine is creamy but has a nice bit of acidity in the end. This is one of those wines I would consider a pretty wine. We paired with spicy Asian stir-fry.

Region – Mendocino County
TA – 0.65 grams/100ml
pH – 3.31
RS – 0.27 grams/100ml
Alcohol – 13.6%
SRP - $13.99

Bonterra Organic Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Mendocino and Lake Counties 2010
Notes of black fruits, cherry and smoky oak. Flavors of cassis, cherry and a dry finish remind me of a classic old world style of wine.
Region – 90% Mendocino, 10% Lake County
TA – 0.53 grams/100ml
pH – 3.64
RS – 0.2 grams/100ml
Alcohol – 13.5%
SRP - $15.99

In 1987 Bonterra dipped a proverbial toe in the soil in regards to organic gardening. By 1993 the winery was making wine with 100% organic grown grapes using certified practices. In order to be labeled certified, the winery has to allow the process to be monitored by the government and can use no artificial pesticides or fertilizers on the vines or surrounding area.

Now I don’t go all gaga over Organic products and I’ve had one or two Organic wines that I thought tasted like pesticide. Fortunately Bonterra wines are well crafted and well worth the price tag.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kirkland Signature Sonoma County Chardonnay 2009

“Sheez, give the woman a break,” is what I want to say about all the hype over CNBC’s recent interview with Annette Alvarez-Peters, Costco's lead wine buyer. CNBC's Carl Quintanilla, asked Alvarez-Peters if she felt wine perhaps was more special than toilet paper or tin foil. Alvarez-Peters’ conclusion, "People can look at it that way. But at the end of the day, it's a beverage.” This 17 word response has many wine lovers seething and others like me looking inward asking; “How special is wine to me?” On my recent trip to Costco, I spied a bottle of Kirkland Sonoma Chardonnay. Curiosity was piqued and I decided to give the Costco private label brand a try.

Tropical aromas mixed with green apple. Semi-sweet flavors of mango and peach with a creamy mouthfeel and a toasty oak finish. Although it was a tad on the sweet side, I have to admit, I didn’t hate it. For $9.99 I would probably buy this one again but wouldn’t serve at a dinner party. This would be more of an everyday wine to enjoy in the summer heat.

You can pick up a little trivia info in the article linked above. For example, did you know Costco’s Wine Leader sets the prices on wines and those prices help determine the market value of that wine for other retailers? And did you know, Costco is the largest American importer of French wines with some pretty well known labels like Château Mouton Rothshild and Château Pétrus? Not too shabby, huh.

So how do I feel about Alvarez-Peters’ saying wine is no more important than toilet paper? Well I can say both are pretty important to me but on very different levels.

A recent trip to Georgia wineries with my in-laws proved to me how much I want to share wine with others. My husband and I took them to two of the best wineries in the area. Upon arrival at the first winery they did not want to partake in the tastings (after I had been touting this winery for the past 10 days). At the second winery my husband I thought it would be a great way to wind down their visit with a bottle while overlooking the mountains on the back deck. Again, the in-laws did not want to partake.

At that point, I was offended and a tad miffed. Ok, not just a tad, I was pissed and it showed. Wine is a big part of my life, I hate to admit this but it defines me. Now that I have access to these great wineries I want to share them with others. However, on that day I realized sometimes we have to step back and take stock in people we are with and come to the sad conclusion that to some, wine really is just a beverage. Sigh

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Waterstone Careneros Chardonnay 2009

The barnyard activity is really picking up around here. The chicks are getting bigger and are able to fly very short distances. They’ve been able to enjoy a nice dust bath while spending a few hours in their chicken run and they’ve snacked on dried meal worms. During that time Daisy was enjoying her time on the back porch, Rooster was staring at the chickens while the humans made sure no one ate anyone else. 

One thing hasn’t changed in the past few weeks, these high temps. Mother Nature doesn’t realize it’s still spring time. Instead she has flung us into mid-June temps. The hot, humid air is perfumed with Honeysuckle as we spend our evenings in rocking chairs, sipping wine and watching the fireflies light up our woods. Last night we enjoyed sampling Waterstone Careneros Chardonnay 2009.
Nose was a little tight but began to open up after a few minutes in the glass. Soft aromas of peach with fruit flavors consisting of pear, green apple and more peach. Finish is delicate with a nice balance of acidity and fruit.

Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
 Appellation: Carneros
 Alcohol: 14.6%
 TA: 0.66 g/100ml
 pH: 3.42
 Oak Aging: 11 months
 Oak Cooperage: French oak
 SRP: $18.99

The 2009 growing season was mild and cool. Lack of rain, frost and high temps allowed the grapes to hang on the vine for an extended time. Allowing the grapes to mature on the vine provided forward fruits with mature flavors and well structured tannins. 

The Carneros soils are dense and shallow with an abundance of clay. These soil conditions provide low yields but the growing season is extended due to the maritime climate. The 2009 vintage was sourced from three Carneros vineyards; the Rodgers Creek Vineyards in northwestern Carneros, the Wilson Vineyard in the heart of the Carneros appellation and the Truchard Vineyard in northeastern Carneros.

Waterstone Winery formed in 2000 as collaboration between veteran winemaker Philip Zorn and longtime wine executive Brent Shortridge. The goal was to produce luxury wines at affordable prices. Wanting to focus on the winemaking versus the vineyards, the pair does not own the vineyards or the equipment used to make the wine. They lean on committed relationships with growers, since it’s not the winemaker that makes the wine good, it’s the quality grapes that are critical to any winery’s success.

As I type this from the couch I’m flanked by Daisy on one side and Rooster on the other. Looks like we’ve finally convinced these two it’s better to co-exist then to live separately.

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