Monthly Archives: June 2009

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2004 Wolffer Estate Cabernet Franc

2004 Wolffer Estate Cabernet Franc

Wine Information –

Region: South Fork, Long Island

Appellation: The Hamptons

Grapes: 78% Cabernet Franc, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot

Price: $35

wolffer-cab-franc-04My Tasting Notes –

Nose: blackberry, wet earth, vanilla bean, shitake mushroom

Taste: black currant and leather overlaid by cranberry and a good dose of black pepper

Mouthfeel: medium to full body, silky across the mid-palate

Finish: velvety and smooth with “tight grained” tannins

I got this as a trade from my Long Island blogging friend Lenn Thompson for some Virginia wines a couple of months ago and finally got around to enjoying it. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Wolffer during the 2009 TasteCamp and was very excited to try the 2004 Cabernet Franc. It was no disappointment, full of dark fruit flavors and a nice splash of mushroomy earthiness, brought together by the lacing of tart cranberry and spicy black pepper. Not inexpensive at $35, but definitely a great wine!

Thanks for the trade Lenn, Cheers!

Categories: wine tasting | 1 Comment

Tasting the 2004 Stonewell Shiraz with winemaker Ian Hongell

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to have lunch and taste wines with Ian Hongell, the Senior Winemaker from Peter Lehmann. It was a great opportunity, to taste and also have the guided tour of each of his wines while pairing it with food is as always a wonderful experience. We tasted a total of 7 wines:

  • 2008 Layers White Blend

  • 2008 Eden Valley Riesling

  • 2006 Barossa Semillon

  • 2006 Barossa Cabernet Sauvignon

  • 2006 Barossa Shiraz

  • 2004 Mentor Cabernet Sauvignon

  • 2004 Stonewell Shiraz

My favorite of the bunch and one of the wines that I had never tried before was the 2004 Stonewell Shiraz ($90). Hailed by Peter Lehmann as their “best wine of each vintage”, it is a power house Shiraz. They select grapes from a dozen or so of their oldest vineyards, some dating back to 1885, and yielding less than 1.5 tons per acre. The vineyards come from 4 different districts within the Barossa Valley, the Kabiningie, Greenock, Vine Vale and the Nuriootpa. The 2004 spent 18 months in a combination of 90% French and 10% American Oak before being bottled.

PLW_Stonewell_BtlMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: blackberry, olive, bacon

Taste: black currant, leather, tobacco, cassis, toast

Mouthfeel: rich and full bodied with big leathery tannins

Finish: weeks later I think I’m still tasting this – loads of dark fruit and bacon flavors lingered on

This is a big, in your face Shiraz that is definitely over the top but in all the right ways. It wasn’t an all fruit show, olive, bacon and leather notes joined the cast of characters to give this New World explosion layers of “goodness”. At $90 it compares with other Shiraz’ like Ben Glaetzers “Amon Ra” or “Annaperenna”. And although this was fabulous and definitely a collectible like Glaetzer’s Shiraz’ or Penfolds Grange, I have a hard time paying this amount of money for Shiraz when there are great ones out there from $20 – $50. If you have the opportunity to taste it or can afford the price tag I definitely recommend it.


Categories: $40+, barossa, shiraz, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Tuesday Quick Sip – From Miami Beach

This weeks Tuesday Quick Sip is from our dinner last night at the fabulous Fratelli Lyon in Miami and is the 2005 Moccagatta Langhe Nebbiolo.

2005moccagattanebbioloWine Facts –

Region: Piedmont, Italy

DOC: Langhe

Grapes: 100% Nebbiolo

Aging: 6 months in used barriques

Price: $53 (restaurant, not sure retail)

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: truffle, black and red currant, fresh thyme, fennel

Taste: red currant, raspberry, red clay, truffle

Mouthfeel – nice across the whole palate and velvety tannins

Finish: long and lush with great ripe fruit and earth undertones integrating nicely

A great Nebbiolo from younger vines than the Barbaresco that Moccagatta produces, and for about a 3rd of the cost!

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2007 Lange Twins Generations Petite Verdot/Petite Sirah

I had been sitting on this bottle of wine for a few months after seeing a review or two online that it was still a bit young. Filled with two grapes that are always a guarantee for a power packed, intense and fruit filled wine – I was excited to give this a try. I am a big fan of these two grapes on their own and think they add a lot to the blends they grace, but I think this is the first wine I have had that PV and PS were the only two in the blend.

Lange Twins Generations series of wines are small lot productions that reference the generations of family members that work and have worked to craft their wines and tend their farms. I like their value statements so much I feel impelled to list them here:

  • Always strive to do one’s best, regardless of the project

  • Respect all individuals and foster teamwork

  • Take full responsibility and commit to hard work

  • Promote stewardship

  • Live each day by honesty and integrity

  • The best method to be understood is to start by understanding the opinions of others

In their commitment to stewardship, they are stewards of the land they farm and start with the simplest of steps by sending out USB drives vs paper info sheets. Their commitment to sustainability encompasses everything from renewable energy to water management.

On to the wine….

The 2007 Lange Twins Generations Petite Verdot/Petite Sirah is a 66% and 34% blend respectively. Only about 200 cases of this wine are produced so I feel lucky to be one of the people getting to try it.

LT_PSPVMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: dark cherry, black currant, campfire, brownie batter

Taste: raspberry jam, dried herbs, fig, cocoa, boysenberry

Mouthfeel: full lush body, leathery but manageable tannins

Finish: long and fruity

This was definitely a big wine but also definitely ready to drink now. The tannins were big and ripe but not too over the top “velcro” tannins as I like to say. Tons of rich, dark fruit with nice smokey and dried herb notes that round out the flavor/aroma profile nicely. At $20 it is a good value for a big fleshy, fruit filled wine when you are in that “New World” mood. I look forward to trying more of the Lange Twin offerings.


Categories: $10-$20, petite sirah, petite verdot, wine review | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Virginia Wine on GrapeRadio

I recently stumbled upon a new GrapeRadio podcast focused on Virginia Wine.  In the podcast are two wine makers that I reference often, Jim Law and Michael Shaps both of which have long history of making wine in the state.  Additionally viticulturist Tony Wolf who has done a lot for vineyards and wine makers in Virginia, joins the podcast. Give a listen for their thoughts on where Virginia wine is and where it’s going. The Wines of Virginia on GrapeRadio


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2008 Chateau de Segries Tavel Rosé

We enjoyed the 2008 Chateau de Segries Tavel Rosé last night with some tacos and was a nice pairing, although this Rosé could go with just about everything.

chateausegries_tavelWine Information –

Region: Rhone

Appellation: Tavel (only Rosé is produced here)

Grapes: 50% Grenache, 30% Cinsault, 15% Clairette, 5% Syrah

Price: $15

My Tasting Notes –

Color: deep pink

Nose: fresh herb garden, tangerine and strawberry

Taste: spicy strawberry, watermelon, slate, ginger and rhubarb

Mouthfeel: medium to full body, great roundness but crisp finish, a perfect combo

Finish: decent length with persistent fruit and minerality

A fabulous Rosé , and a great value. If you love dry Rosé and want to try a great example give this one a whirl!


Categories: $10-$20, Rhone Wines, Rosé, wine review | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Virginia Wine Country Weekend – Day 3

Although a bit delayed this is third in the series of posts from my Northern VA wine country weekend a couple of weeks ago. The plan for the day was to go hiking but we woke to pouring down rain so we pulled out the map to see what other wineries we wanted to visit. We decided to take the long way home and go West towards Harrisonburg before starting back East towards home. The decision was made around Cross Key’s Vineyards, a fairly new VA winery that is kind of out of the way (for us).

crosskeys_distanceI had seen Cross Key’s Vineyards in some VA wine press and been to their website and was amazed at the pictures of their Napa like tasting room and winery. In my research on their site they definitely have a recipe for good wines, a South African wine maker (with years of VA wine experience) with 2 French wine making consultants and 29 acres of well established vines. Well as with any good recipe, things can fall short in the execution and the final result is not what you expected. While I did enjoy a couple of the wines that we tasted, the wine I liked the most was fairly overpriced at $26. The rest of the wines were fairly thin and non-descript although tasting was rather hard since our pours were very small. That was another point of frustration with the winery, although our tasting was “comped” (in part) the pours were tiny, one sip worth, and if I had paid the $5 (for 6 wines) I would’ve been even more frustrated than I was. You might have noticed the “in part” statement above. When we saddled up to the bar they asked us to pay and we let them know we were industry and after a bit of weirdness they said our tasting would be comped and we would get 15% off our wine. As we started to taste one of the tasting room associates came back over and said only the main 6 wines would be comped but if we wanted the two reserve wines we would have to pay the extra $2 per person per taste for those. I was in complete disbelief! First that they are charging $2 per taste and second that they would charge industry for tasting. That turned me off so much, it really didn’t set a good tone for the experience. And one of the wines I really wanted to try because it was a Pinot Noir, and I haven’t tasted one from Virginia. Wow, a fellow industry member who writes a blog and manages a wine shop wants to try a wine that may possibly be the only one in the state, “that’ll be two dollars please”. No thanks! I know this rant really has nothing to do with the wine itself, but in my mind the lack of respect for people that can help build your brand is a big problem.


Cross Keys Wine Highlights –

  • 2008 Fiore ($16.50) – (Rose from Cab Franc) – pomegranate and strawberry and although only 1.1% residual sugar a bit too sweet for me and probably would’ve guessed closer to 3%.

  • 2006 Meritage ($26) (45% Cab Franc, 55% Petite Verdot; 15 mos. In 50/50 new/used French Oak) – full bodied with spice and black pepper, layered with boysenberry, red currant and dusty tannins

I would have hoped to have caught with the owner or one of the wine makers at Cross Keys but apparently no one was on site at the time of our visit.

Next up we decided to hit one of Virginia favorites, Pollak Vineyards and were excited that Jake Busching (wine maker and vineyard manager) was able to come down to the tasting room and chat with us as we tasted through their wines. Check back to a previous post for more of the background on Pollak Vineyards.

As usual we liked almost everything Pollak had to offer, my only dislikes were both the Chardonnay’s which I thought were over oaked, and just not my style. Although I didn’t like the Chard’s, the wines are all crafted with precision that is obvious in every sip. Jake really has a handle on what needs to be done to make great Virginia wine and is in touch, literally, with everything that is happening in the vineyard as well as the winery.

Pollak Vineyards Wine Highlights –

  • 2008 Durant White – blend predominately Viognier – tart apple, pear and apricot with touchs of honeydew melon and crisp mineral finish

  • 2007 Cabernet Franc – spicy with raspberry and red currant and hints of mint and fresh cocoa with tight leathery tannins

  • 2006 Meritage – rich with boysenberry and dark chocolate, touches of baking spices and tar with a finish of black cherry

Thanks to Jake for the tour and the special tastes down in the barrel room, great to see ya!

Categories: virginia wine, wine review | Tags: , , | 16 Comments

Virginia Wine Council Update

Virginia Wine Council Update from director Matt Conrad :

The members of the Virginia Wine Council will meet on June 11, 2009 at 10:00 a.m., prior to the Virginia Wine Board Meeting at Old City Hall in Richmond (1001 East Broad Street, Suite 140). All interested wineries and vineyards are welcome and encouraged to attend.

The purpose of this meeting will be to adopt by-laws for the future operation of the Council, to discuss incorporation as a 501(c)(6) tax exempt organization, and to elect an initial Board of Directors.  Future meetings of the VWC will be used to establish a legislative agenda for the 2010 Session of the Virginia General Assembly.

The draft By-laws are available for your review by clicking here.

The draft Articles of Incorporation are available for your review by clicking here.

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Tuesday Quick Sip – with Robert Foley

john_bobfoleyWorking in a wine shop has its perks! One of them being I get to meet wine makers on a more regular basis than I normally would, for instance next Tuesday I get to have lunch with Ian Hongell, wine maker for Peter Lehman. A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to taste with Bob Foley and taste the wines from his “Robert Foley Vineyards” brand.

We tasted five of his wines but for the quick sip today I chose to write about the 2006 Muscle Man Petite Sirah

Wine Information –

Appellation: Napa, Calistoga

Grape: 100% Petite Sirah

Price: $60 – $70

(sorry I don’t have more facts on the wine, cooperage, vineyard site, etc.. I have sent out a couple of emails to gather some more facts and will update the post if I get some)

My Tasting Notes –

Nose: bacon fat, blackberry, cassis

Taste: boysenberry, blackberry, fig

Mouthfeel: spicy, bit hot, FULL bodied with lip lockin’ Velcro tannins

Finish: long and strong as the name “Muscle Man” would imply

This is a big boy of a wine that is young and in for the long haul. Tons of palate rockin’ structure is complimented by the abundance of deep rich dark fruit flavors and the nice bacon fat component I often find in a lot of California Petite Sirahs as well as Sryah. Not inexpensive to say the least, but if you want a good age worthy Petite Sirah, give this one a go.


Tomorow I continue with a review of our 3rd and final day in Virginia Wine Country last weekend

Categories: $40+, petite sirah, wine review | Tags: , , | Leave a comment