Monthly Archives: September 2009

Tuesday Quick Sip – 2007 Pikes Red Mullet

2007 Pikes Red Mullet

Wine Information –

Country: Australia

Region: Clare Valley

Grapes: Shiraz, Grenache, Mouvedre and Tempranillo

Price: $14

pikes-the-red-mullet-07My Tasting Notes –

Nose: raspberry, blueberry and hints of cocoa

Taste: raspberry, blackberry, red currant, plum and cherry

Mouthfeel: medium to full body, slightly spicy with great acid

Finish: long, with great structure

The Pikes Red Mullet is an interesting blend that is made to be an every day red wine suitable for a variety of foods. It is definitely that, and has an interesting contrast on the nose and palate of red and dark fruit notes. The kicker is definitely the acidity, great amounts of it that give this fruit driven wine some excellent structure.


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2006 Tangley Oaks Merlot

2006 Tangley Oaks Merlot

Wine Information –

Appellation: Napa Valley

Grapes: 100% Merlot

Oak Aging: French Oak for 20 months

Price: $15

TANMerl-NV_Bottle_medMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: black cherry, oak, vanilla, raspberry jam

Taste: black currant, oak

Mouthfeel: medium body with velvety tannins

Finish: short to medium in length, very fruity

Not a bad wine but not great. I was impressed with the nose, which was very powerful but the wine fell short on the palate. Very one dimensional and overly fruity flavor profile, the stuff that Merlot gets a bad rap for. It was very smooth though and I could definitely see some consumers liking it, although it didn’t do it for me.


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A review of the Virginia Wine Festival at Bull Run Park

This was the 34th year of the Virginia Wine Festival, and 53 Virginia wineries were in attendance for the two day festival. Megan and I decided to head up for day 2 (Sunday), as we had some comp passes ($30/pp), normally I avoid large tastings like this as you don’t get a chance to be personal with winemakers and/or owners. I have to say this is THE BEST wine festival we have attended! Not necessarily for the wine, although their were some definite gems, but for the layout, food and organization of the event. It was full of people, but at no point did I feel that claustrophobic feeling of drunk tasters reaching over my shoulder to get their next chug of juice.


The other cool part of the day is that we got to meet up with fellow wine bloggers and “tweeps” Frank Morgan of Drink What U Like and Dezel Quillen of My Vine Spot. Always fun to have fellow wine geeks to chat and compare notes with as you stroll around.


We got to meet several wine makers too, Lori Corcoran (again) of Corcoran Vineyards, Jenny McCloud of Chrysalis, Brad McCarthy of Mountfair and his own brand and Luca Paschina of Barboursville and famous Virginia sommelier Mary Watson Delauder.


Some of my favorite wines of the day:

2008 Brad McCarthy Virginia Chardonnay $15 – lots of apple, mineral and spice – with touches of tropical and butter notes – full body

2008 Brad McCarthy “The Stick Dog” Riesling $15 – very clean with mineral, lime zest, apricot and peach – great acid

2008 Chrysalis Viognier $30 – lots of apricot, peach, honeysuckle and apple core – full body, not too viscous with great acidity and spiciness

2005 Chrysalis Estate Norton $17 – (blending some Tannat and Petite Verdot) – earthy red fruit, raspberry and cherry – full body – one of the two Nortons I have enjoyed. (the other Barrel Oak)

2007 Rosemont Traminette $16 – fruity, with violet and other floral notes, honey and guava – crisp acidity

All in all a great day, they even had vegetarian food in the form of something other than french fries and funnel cake. We enjoyed a tofu barbecue sandwich and tomato mozzarella panini with some Corcoran Meritage for lunch.

If you haven’t attended this festival and are looking for one to try, don’t miss this next year.


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Wine Blogging Wednesday #61- “At The Source” with Narmada Winery

WBWlogoThis months Wine Blogging Wednesday is hosted by the founder of WBW, Lenn Thompson of the blog “The New York Cork Report.” His topic for this month was to taste and or purchase a wine at the source rather than at your local wine shop, and you get bonus points for tasting with the winemaker.

This was perfect timing for me because this month I had several trips out to Virginia Wine country planned. One in particular was to a brand new winery, Narmada, who’s owners I met at a winery in Santa Cruz, California last year. That’s right I first met Sudha and Pandit Patil (owners) while tasting at Testarossa winery in California last November. The Patil’s kept my information and emailed me a couple of weeks ago to let me know that their new winery was opening soon and wanted me to come out try what they had.


The property that Narmada resides on was purchased in 1999 and the first grapes, 2 acres of Vidal Blanc, were planted in 2004. In 2005 additional grapes were planted, 3 acres of Chambourcin, 2.5 acres of Chardonelle and 1.5 acres of Traminette. Until this past vintage the grapes had been sold off but in 2008 they produced 44 tons of grapes to go into their first official bottlings. Also planted in 2008 were acreage of Vinifera varieties Cab Franc and Viognier. The winery is still under construction, so the tastings are currently being done in a beautiful pavilion next to the pond on their property. Narmada had a soft opening on Labor Day weekend and is currently open Fri., Sat. and Sun., but will have an official grand opening in November.


What we tasted –

momchardonnelle2008 “Mom” Chardonelle – aromas of honey and corn pudding, with flavors of cardamom, apple, honey and white pepper. Full bodied. – one of the few Chardonelles I have enjoyed

2008 “Reflection” Chambourcin – aromas of smoky blueberry, flavors were slightly muddled and metallic. Spicy mouthfeel and medium bodied.

2008 “Melange” 60% Cabernet Sauvignon/40% Merlot – lots of cherry on the nose, with flavors of cooked green beans, red currant, and raspberry. Medium bodied with nice acidity.

2008 “Midnight” Chambourcin (<1% RS) – aromas of cardamom, baking spices and smoky cherry. Flavors were similar but added cranberry and raspberry. Medium to full body, no detectable sweetness. – one of the few Chambourcins I have enjoyed.

We also got taste a couple of wines that aren’t yet released, only because Narmada is waiting on TTB approval of the labels.

2008 Viognier – aromas of honey, slate and peach followed by flavors of honeysuckle, slate, and apricot jam. Good viscous mouthfeel and spicy acidity.

2008 Cabernet Franc – touch good funkiness on the nose paired with cherry and red currant. Flavors of rose, lavender, cherry, red currant and “baby powder”. Medium to full body and silky smooth with velvety tannins


For such a young winery I was very impressed with the offerings, especially the hybrid varieties that I am not usually a fan of. In addition to Pandit, who handles the vineyard management and Sudha who helps with wine making and lab duties, they have brought on Rob Cox as winemaker. Rob was formally of The Winery at La Grange and adds some great regional expertise to the Narmada team.

Check back later in the year when I can get back up to take pictures of the completed winery.


Narmada Winery

43 Narmada Lane,
Amissville, VA 20106-4170

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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2006 Four Vines “Biker” Zinfandel

2006 Four Vines “Biker” Zinfandel

Wine Information –

Appellation: Paso Robles, California

Vineyards: Dusi, Preston

Grapes: 99% Zinfandel, 1% Mourvedre

Alcohol: 15%

Price: $20 – $25

Four Vines 2006 Biker ZinfandelMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: Fig, cocoa, prune, black currant, leather

Taste: boysenberry, mocha java, fig, date, blueberry jam, cedar box

Mouthfeel: full body, silky mid palate, spicy towards the finish

Finish: loaded with fruit, dry and leathery

This is a rockin’ central coast Zin, that doesn’t come across to jammy or overly extracted. The alcohol is high at 15% but doesn’t seem so, the wine isn’t “hot” at all. I was impressed by the layers of flavors on the palate, that kept on evolving as the bottle was open. If you’re looking for a bold, spicy full-flaovred zin, give this one a whirl.


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Tasting Virginia Wine Country with Gadino Cellars

P9130057It was a beautiful weekend in Virginia this weekend, and Sunday was a great day to enjoy Virginia Wine Country. We started out with a trip to Gadino Cellars, in Rappahanock County. It had been a few years since our last visit, so we figured it would be good to revisit their offerings.

Gadino Cellars keeps production low, below 1500 cases, on purpose to focus on quality small lot wines. Gadino is a complete family operation, and we had the pleasure this time around to meet Stephanie, assistant winemaker and tasting room manager. We talked wine business for a while, and among other things she let us know the 2009 Vintage was looking good and the Seyval Blanc was brought in last week.

We tasted 10 wines (Free if you are a returning guest or $5), and I definitely had a couple of favorites.

2007 Viognier (5 months Hungarian Oak) $19 – nose highlighted by peach and nectarine, with a taste profile of Asian Pear, honey suckle and citrus. Medium bodied, good acidity with decent length finish.

2007 Moonrise Rose (54% Cabernet Franc, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Viognier) $16 – with less than 1% residual sugar this a great fruit forward dry Rose, great for a picnic as you can see for our picture below! Filled with aromas of strawberry, watermelon and red currant, the fuller than expected body transports similar flavors to a dry, slightly flinty finish.

2007 Cabernet Franc – Riserva (88% Cabernet Franc, 12% Merlot) $24 – Nose was a bit tight, but opened after some intense swirling to predominately red fruit notes of raspberry and red currant. The palate was much more open and provided cherry, leather, green bean and slight vanilla notes with just a touch of toasty oak. Full bodied and slightly spicy – look for this to improve for the next couple years.


After we tasted we enjoyed a bottle of Moonrise Rose with our lunches, while sitting on the Gadino Cellars deck. Thanks to the Gadino staff, we had a lot of fun, hope to see you soon.


Gadino Cellars
92 Schoolhouse Road
Washington, Virginia 22747

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2009 Virginia Harvest Update

I have received a couple of updates from Virginia wine makers on how the 2009 Harvest is going so I wanted to share them with you. I hope to be getting some more reports in, as I do, I will share them with you.

Jeff White – Glen Manor Vineyards

September 4th

… Don’t really have any geeky numbers but the weather continues to be ideal. Sunny, warm and dry air days with cool crisp nights that are forecasted to remain through the middle of next week. Tropical systems so far have stayed away including the latest track of Erika. Generally, acids are high, brix are on track and most importantly flavors are developing wonderfully. We have not started picking yet but expect to start bringing in some Sauvignon Blanc within the next couple of weeks. Reds are still more than a month away.”

Jim Law – Linden Vineyards

September 4th

…Just finished pressing Seyval. Some of the nicest Seyval I can remember. Great balance. Numbers are right on too. Will make very pretty wines. This weather has been perfect….makes up for the wet spring/early summer. Still need two weeks of this weather for the rest of the whites. Jury is out on the reds. Too early to tell.”

Check back soon for more updates on the Virginia 2009 Harvest.


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A little more oak than I would’ve liked – 2005 Domaine des Deux Roches Saint-Veran

When I turn to a white Burgundy I look to enjoy a wine that is crisp, lots of minerality and great fruit but not a lot of oak. Unfortunately the 2005 Domaine des Deux Roches Saint-Veran “Rives de Longsault” ($20) did provide, in my opinion, a bit to much pure oak aromas and flavors than I would have liked but not enough to put me off. Saint-Veran was granted AOC status in 1971, and Domaine des Deux Roches is one of the finest producers in the area according to many experts.

The information on vinification and barrel aging on the website is limited to A slow alcoholic fermentation is done in temperature controlled stainless steel vats ( 70%) and barrels (30%) in order to

preserve the freshness of the fruit and express the best soil expression. After alcoholic and malolactic fermentations we age our wine on fine lees until April.” I am not sure if only 30% remained in oak or if all of it went in after primary fermentation and what percentage was new versus used barrels. I imagine that it was a good percentage of new oak as I am to overly sensitive to the “Oak Monster” as Gary Vaynerchuk calls it.

2005domaindesrochesMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: toasty oak, pear, persimmon, butter and hazelnut

Taste: toast, citrus, wood, mineral, blue slate, apple and pear

Mouthfeel: loads of acidity, full bodied and tart

Finish: long with the acidity lingering around

As far as structure goes I think this is classic Burgundy, but again the predominance of oak at the front end of both the aroma and flavor profile surprised me. The rest of the flavors were very layered and came through quite nicely despite the oak presence. The acidity and minerality were fantastic and this would make a great pairing for shellfish. If you are a fan of Burgundy but would like a little more “new world” oak influence give this one a try, although in doing some internet searching I didn’t see too much of the ’05 out there, mostly ’06 and ’07.


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2008 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc

2008 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc

Wine Information –

Country: New Zealand

Region: Marlborough

Grapes: 100% Sauvignon Blanc

Aging: 7 months in stainless steel before bottling

Price: $15

wairauriver_sauvblancMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: pear, gooseberry, green pepper, touch of grapefruit

Taste: gooseberry, citrus, sweet pea, touch of grass

Mouthfeel: full body, slightly watery, crisp but could use more acid

Finish: long, fruity and refreshing

Overall the flavor and aroma profile was very nice, but I felt it could have used more acidity. For 15 bones it is a solid effort and paired great with our stir fry with peanut sauce. Interesting note, this is Wairau River’s first CarboNZero wine. CarboNZero is a government backed program to help individuals, institutions and events manage, measure and mitigate their greenhouse gas emissions. Pretty cool – a nice added bonus to enjoying your wine.


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A great Riesling from New York, and not from the Finger Lakes

I had the pleasure of meeting Roman Roth in Long Island during Taste Camp in May, while he led us through a fabulous tasting at Wolffer Estate. While Roman is the head winemaker for Wolffer, he also makes wines under his own label “Grapes of Roth”. I had the opportunity to taste his Grapes of Roth Merlot and absolutely loved it and Roman was nice enough to grab me a bottle of the sold out 2002 from his secret stash. In addition to Merlot, Roman has been bottling a Riesling since 2007 under his label.

A couple of weeks ago I received a nice email from Roman asking if I would like to try the 2008 Riesling ($22) and of course I jumped at the opportunity. One, because I love Riesling and two, because I enjoyed his Merlot so much.

The grapes for 2008 Riesling come from two separate vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island – “The fruit source for this Riesling is 68%Split Rock Vineyard, located just east of Greenport, owned by Michael Kontokosta. The location on the far end of the North Fork with its pronounced maritime influence is particularly important. The cooling breeze is perfect for Riesling, preserving a lively acidity, yet allowing excellent maturation and ripening of the grapes. 32% is from Martha Clara Vineyards, located in the warmer Riverhead area, bringing fourth wonderful richness” – Roman Roth

grapesofroth_rieslingMy Tasting Notes:

nose: tangerine, dried apricot, honey, banana peel

taste: apricot, pear, orange zest, slate, star fruit

mouthfeel: full body with tons of acidity

finish: long with just a kiss of sweetness to brighten up the fruit

I drank this with some vegetarian tacos and it paired very well. Overall both Megan and I were impressed by the wine and Roman’s German heritage is evident in the wine. If I had one complaint about the wine it would be that I didn’t get any of the classic petrol notes that I really enjoy in my Riesling. Other than that, the touch of sweetness helped make the fruit more vibrant and rich but was balanced by the racy acidity that ran across the palate. I plan on grabbing a couple more bottles when I head up to Long Island in October.


Categories: $20-$30, riesling, wine review | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Virginia Wine in the news

In a recent article on CNN’s travel site titled 4 Wine Country Contenders, Virginia was named as a hot spot for wine travel. Specifically mentioned was the Charlottesville area and the wineries that dot the countryside in the Monticello AVA.


Article Excerpt –

Virginia’s premier wine country, dotted with working farms and over 1,000 acres of grape vines, spreads out around the city of Charlottesville in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The free tour at 20-acre Jefferson Vineyards both explores the winery and recounts the history of Virginia wine making (, tasting $5). The viognier, with aromas of honeysuckle and apricot, is an ideal refresher, and from the deck at the tasting room, visitors have a view of Carters Mountain and Jefferson’s home, Monticello, a mile and a half north, where a recently opened visitors center introduces guests to the founding father’s life and ideas (, from $15).”

Click here for the full article that also mentions, Walla Walla, Washington and Anderson Valley, California.


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Tuesday Quick Sip – 2007 Elena Walch Gewürztraminer

2007 Elena Walch Gewürztraminer

Wine Information –

Country – Italy

Region (DOC): Alto Adige

Grape: 100% Gewürztraminer

Fermentation: Stainless steel

Price: $19.99

elenawalch_gewurzMy Tasting Notes –

Nose: rose, apple peel, honey, apricot

Taste: rose petal, lychee, graphite, honey

Mouthfeel: viscous and spicy with enough acidity to provide some structure

Finish: long, dry with hints of honey and rose

Great “Gewurtz”, very nice and rich but a great amount of acidity for much needed structure to back up the viscosity felt on the palate. Classic flavors and aromas of rose, lychee and honey, it is everything a good Gewürztraminer should be, and at $19 it isn’t a bad price. Think about pairing this with some Indian food, it would work great!


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