Nick - WineSpeak USA

$20 Above: Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2009

Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2009

Date Tasted: 5-11-13

Price: Suggested Retail is around $37.00 (purchased for $25.00)

From The Winery: 12.7% alcohol. 100% Chardonnay. Brut. North Coast AVA (69% Napa Valley grapes, 27% Sonoma County, 4% Marin County). 25,881 cases produced.

Impressions/Notes: Schramsberg has been producing the Blanc de Blancs since 1965. A couple of interesting tidbits picked up from Schramsberg’s website – their Blanc de Blancs was America’s first commercially produced Chardonnay-based brut sparkling wine and was the wine of choice for Nixon’s 1972 “Toast to Peace” in China. The 2009 Blanc de Blancs is a real aromatic treat, with Grands biscuits, sliced green apple, refreshing sea air notes, and a whiff of ginger. Acidity was moderately strong, but did not approach the laser-sharp level found in some brut Blanc de Blancs. $37 is a reasonable price for this sparkler and I would certainly recommend a purchase if spotted at a lower price.

Rating: Highly Recommended (90), 3/5 Value

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, California, Sparkling Wines 2 Comments

$20 Below: Southard Columbia Valley Red Wine 2010

Southard Columbia Valley Red Wine 2010

Date Tasted: 5-21-13

Price: Suggested Retail is around $15.00

From The Winery: 14.5% alcohol. 55% Syrah (Lawrence Vineyard), 45% Mourvedre (Sugarloaf Vineyard). Columbia Valley AVA

Impressions/Notes: After tasting Southard’s 2009 Lawrence Vineyard Syrah, purchasing the 2010 Columbia Valley Red Wine for the meager price of $15.00 was a no-brainer. This Syrah/Mourvedre blend did not disappoint. It’s rich, with plump black plum, toasted oak, tobacco, and strong smoky notes. A mixture of lightly sweet and tart blue and black fruit coats the palate. Despite it’s big, lush nature, there’s plenty of balance to keep it from falling flat. I would recommend this wine as more of a stand-alone drinker than a pairing wine.

Rating: Recommended (88), 4/5 Value

Posted on by Nick in $20 Below, Red Blends, Washington 2 Comments

$20 Above: Rasa QED 2009

Rasa QED 2009

Date Tasted: 5/10/13

Price: Suggested Retail is $50.00

From The Winery: 14.7% alcohol. 71% Syrah (Les Collines, Seven Hills, and Portteus vineyards), 14% Grenache (Minnick Vineyard), 12% Mourvedre (Minnick), 3% Viognier (Les Collines). 25% new French oak and 75% neutral French oak. Columbia Valley AVA. 619 cases produced.

Notes/Impressions: It’s no secret that the Navarane brothers are making some special wines in Walla Walla. I visited Rasa last summer and tasted through their magnificent lineup. Though much can be learned by sipping at a tasting room, nothing replaces the experience of popping a cork and tasting over the course of several hours (or a few days). The 2009 QED is the first full bottle from Rasa that I’ve had the pleasure of drinking. It’s a Syrah-dominated blend that I joyfully sniffed and sipped for hours and hours – seasoned meat, garrigue, floral notes, brine, olive juice, toasted oak, campfire, funky mineral, fig, plum and cranberry all make an appearance. Tannins are seamlessly integrated and the flavors are vast. The weight and mouthfeel of this wine really captivated me. It’s one of those wines that’s held in the mouth just a little bit longer than normal before swallowing. Elegant and complex, this is an exciting blend that’s a good buy at $50.00.

Rating: Highly Recommended (93), 4/5 Value

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, Red Blends, Washington 3 Comments

$20 Above: Cuvaison Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Cuvaison Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon 2010

Date Tasted: 4/17/13

Price: Suggested Retail is $45.00 (Purchased for $30.00)

From The Winery: 14.5% alcohol. 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Cabernet Franc. Mount Veeder AVA.

Notes/Impressions: Cuvaison sources their Cabernet Sauvignon from their Estate vineyard on Mount Veeder, located at an elevation of 1200 feet. Their 2010 Cab presents with a deep purple color, thinning to garnet on the rim. It’s a solid and sturdy wine with an equal ratio fruit to earth aromas and flavors. Red cherry, blackberry, and black currant blend with potting soil and a really nice rocky minerality. In the mouth, the wine approaches full-bodied, with gripping, mouth-coating tannins. It’s approachable now, but has a structure that lends well to aging.

Rating: Highly Recommended (90), 3/5 Value

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, Cabernet Sauvignon, California 4 Comments

$20 Above: Joseph Swan Trenton View Pinot Noir 2007

Joseph Swan Trenton View Pinot Noir 2007

Date Tasted: 4/21/13

Price: Suggested Retail is $35.00

From The Winery: 13.7% alcohol. Trenton View Vineyard, Russian River Valley AVA. 193 cases produced.

Notes/Impressions: Joseph Swan Vineyards will always have a special place in this wine lover’s heart. The first visit that my wife and I made to the winery is a very fond memory. The tasting bar was lined with patrons, so they rolled out an empty barrel, flipped it on it’s end, and we had our own makeshift tasting table. We tasted our first Russian River Pinots, Zinfandels, and Syrahs, and they make some damn good ones. It’s also one of the most relaxed, unpretentious atmospheres you’ll find at a winery. The 2007 Trenton View Pinot was purchased on a subsequent trip to Joseph Swan. Their Pinots are known for their strong acid backbone and aging potential. The Trenton View presented with a light garnet color with a slight orange hue. The nose is full of interesting earth and pine aromas, with cherry, peach, cola and sandalwood compliments. It’s a delicate wine that’s noticeably dry, with ripe fruit on the palate finishing with just a touch of heat. This wine is a huge bargain at $35.00, and the 2009 vintage retails at that same price.

Rating: Highly Recommended (91), 4.5/5 Value

Posted on by Nick in $20 Above, California, Pinot Noir 3 Comments
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