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
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
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
2011 Curran Grenache Blanc
By Shawn Luke
With my affinity for Washington wines, it’s fair for others to wonder if I ever drink wines from anywhere else. The answer is most definitely yes, especially if Rhone varietals are involved. Recently I received a recommendation to try Curran’s 2011 Grenache Blanc from Santa Ynez Valley. Grenache Blanc is not exactly common in the US, much less presented as a varietal bottling, so this immediately became a must-try. Winemaker/owner Kris Curran has captured the essence of the grape and delivered a real winner. The wine is pastel and pale straw yellow in color with aromas of peach, pear and lemon along with a clean stone-like minerality. Showing a nice rounded mouthfeel with lemon notes, the acidity gives it just a little lift on the palate. You can tell that this did not see any malolactic fermentation. Since this saw only stainless steel, I’m guessing that the pleasing textural richness must come from judicious use of the lees. The acidity allows it to linger deftly throughout a delicately long finish, showing more peach, apricot and stone notes with some subtle lemon and lemon zest that ease out for 30+ seconds. Completely dry and thoroughly pleasing from beginning to end. Suggested retail is $22 The price is $20 here in Memphis, but I’m sure it retails for less around the country. This is a wine for anyone seeking out affordable, true to character, and enjoyable Rhone whites. 91 – 13.2% alcohol. Tasted on April 23, 2013.
C.G. Di Arie Break Away Zinfandel 2009
Date Tasted: 3/28/13
Price: Suggested Retail is around $18.00
From The Winery: 14.3% alcohol. Sierra Foothills AVA. 3000 cases produced.
Impressions/Notes: On a recent shopping adventure, I was approached by a woman that was obviously pushing this wine (not sure if she worked for the shop, the distributor, maybe even the winery). I usually steer away from purchases in this type of scenario, but there were a couple of buzzwords that caught my attention. “Zinfandel”, “low production”, and “Sierra Foothills.” Despite being utterly annoyed by her unflinching proclamation that America’s best Zinfandels come from the Sierra Foothills (the Russian River and Dry Creek valleys say hello), I purchased a bottle. C.G. Di Arie Vineyard and Winery is owned by Chaim Gur-Arieh, a former inventor and new food product developer. Some of his most notable products include Cap’n Crunch, Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing, and Pudding Cups. C.G. Di Arie’s Break Away Zinfandel owes it’s name to symbolize the wine’s departure from jammy, over-oaked Zinfandels. It presents with a light-medium purple color that is remarkably transparent for a Zin. The aroma profile consists of blackberry, black pepper, tilled earth, and molasses. In the mouth, it’s light-medium bodied with soft tannins and tangy blue fruits.There is a very minimal oak presence on the nose and palate. I’m a big proponent of experimentation (and this is a different breed of Zin) but I couldn’t help but think of this wine as Zinfandel Lite as I was drinking it.
Rating: Recommended (86), 3/5 Value