Somm By Epicure

Beginning April 6, 2016, Somm will begin Saturday tasting classes designed to help students develop broad wine palates. The first class will be scheduled for April 6, 2016 from 2-3PM. Cost of admission will be $10 per person. We still have room for approximately four students for this class.

03/20/19 Wine Tastings

2017 Prebende Beaujolais Blanc. From the region just south of Maconnais in the sourthern-most part of Burgundy. Beaujolais is usually known for Gamay grape red wines of light color and flavor profiles. This Chardonnay undergoes malolactic fermentation but in stainless steel, resulting in buttery but fruit-forward wine. Acidity is very controlled and this is a fresh, floral chardonnay!

2016 Yves Leccia Ille de Beaute Rose (Corsica). 60% Nielluccio / 40% Cannonau. Nielluccio is a red wine grape grown in Corsica and other regions of the Mediterranean. It is genetically close to Sangiovese. Cannonau is the Corsican name for Grenache. This rose is dry, tart and somewhat citrusy. Smooth in finish with a relatively medium body and finish. Pale pink in color. Red berries prevail in the aroma.

2015 La Chapelle de Lafon-Rochet St Estephe. 60% Cabernet Sauvignon / 40$ Merlot. Juicy red and black fruit including cassis on the nose. The palate is dry, more about structure with little fruit on the palate. Oddly it lacks harshness or bitterness that you would expect in a wine with so little fruit evident on the palate!

Maldonado Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 - Napa. Big juicy nose. Bright acidity but not as rich as the nose would suggest. Probably needs more bottle aging to integrate the fruit of the aroma into the palate.

Quinta dos Murcas 10 year Tawny Port. big on dried fruit (raisins particularly), with a reddish tinge to the coloration. Less bruleed sugar than one would expect but for the money a solid performer.

2014 Cronw Point Vineyards Estate Selection Happy Canyon Santa Barbara Cabernet Sauvignon. 73% cabernet, 16% malbec, 11% merlot. Dark garnet color. Dusty velvet tannin. Earthy. 24 months in new French Oak.

2014 Crown Point Cabernet Sauvignon. 100% cab. Big, chocolate-cocoa nose and on the palate, velvet tannins, cassis and mocha. Delicious!

2015 Crown Point Cabernet Sauvignon. 100% cab. Tannin and coco are not as pronounced. Acidity was stronger and less integrated into plum/cassis fruit. Less structured. After two hours, the acidity is mellowed a bit and the structure comes forward again with those cocoa/mocha notes.

03/14/19 wine tasting with Branko Aric

I taste wines all week long and some tastings stand out. Today’s tasting with Branko Aric was amazing!

As we approach Spring and Summer, my thoughts turn to crisp white wines and roses and because my taste runs to unusual wines, so do the wines we taste! Today, I tasted two Sicilian whites, an Alsatian Gewurtz, a Muller Thurgau from Alto Adige and a sparkler from Argentina as well as a red from Washington (Merlot). My notes follow:

2016 Firriato Jasmin Zibbibo. I’ve had Zibbibo that was done as a dessert wine redolent with aromas and flavors of apricot and peach but this was nothing like that wine. Pale yellow in color, white flowers and savory sage on the nose, with mineral-dry finish this was so good!! Look for it at Somm soon.

2017 Firriato Branciforti Grillo - forget most things you “know” about Grillo. Most I’ve had are ruvid, clunky, harsh and astringent. This wine was NOT. Pale in color, soft and silky with a heavy body, the wine had a very light citrusy aroma and despite a ripe fruit palate, it finished dry and clean. Perfect pool sipper! Look for it at Somm (retail, bottle only) and at Epicure (bottle or glass) soon!

Albert Mann 2017 Alsatian Gewurtztraminer. Pale yellow, soft with aromas and palate of melon, pear and white flowers. This was delicious with a piece of our Alsatian Munster cheese but would be great with spicy Asian dishes!

2017 Cantina Bolzano Sudtirol Alto Adige Muller Thurgau. What a mouthful! Floral nose with hints of orange blossom. Muller is a Riesling cross. Mineral finish and dry easy to drink. Maybe too easy?

Antuucura Mendoza Sparkling Rose. So forget what you think of as rose. This has just the barest hint of pink tint! Pinot noir with onlly a brief flirtation with the skins, tart, bright and very dry. Amazing! Look for this soon at Epicure!!!

Januik Columbia Valley 2017 Merlot. Nice, easier, less chewy than California Merlots Juicy with some hints of baking spice. Wine Spectator gave it 90 points and I understand why!

/rench, Spanish and Lebanese! 03/8/19

Do Ferreira Albarino. Pale yellow color. Bright and tart yellow citrus. Big expansive white with a little more body than most Albarinos.

Massaya Blanc. A Lebanese wine made from a primary grape that is unique to Lebanon, with a little chardonnay and sauvignon blanc blended in. Big fruity palate. Maybe pear on the palate?

Pissares Macabeu. Mineral nose and palate. Sweeter fruit than you usually taste in a Macabeu. Not as much brine as some but chewy with minerality.

Massaya Rose . Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet. Taste and aroma profile are typical of a Provencal rose.

Pissares Priorat (60% Garnaxta/40% Samso). Unoaked, dark ruby color, black plum and cherry fruit on the palate. Medium long finish.

Massaya Rouge. GSM Blend from Lebanon. Juicy with spicy tannins. Delicious.

Chateau Canadel Bandol Rouge. Medium dark garnet color, spicy nose, some red fruit but not as rich as other Bandol Rouge I’ve had recently.

Gros du Nore Bandol Rouge. Dark, deep ruby, red fruit on the nose and palate. Tannins are structural and vibrant but more polished than the Canadel. Very good exemplar from Bandol.

Spanish Wines etc. 03/06/19

Bodegas Ojuel Rioja Fente Leon 2016. A WHITE Tempranillo Blend! Tempranillo Blanco and Garnacha Blanca. Pale color, grapefruit peel nose, then tropical fruit and minerality on the finish. Moderate acidity. Nice white for summer!

San Salvatore Campania Falanghina 2017. Pale gold, wet straw nose, bright acidic citrus fruit on the palate. Medium finish.

Blankiet Estate Napa Valley Prince of Hearts Bordeaux Blend. 90% Cab, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cab Franc. Soft red with purple fruit, supple tannin and a long finish. This is Mythicus Cab’s ($250-$300) little brother.

Fronton de Oro Tinto. From the Canary Islands, tis blend of Tintilla and Lustan Negro is pale/light garnet in color. Floral nose (verbena? lilac?). no acidity and then the tannins come in yielding quickly to a sweetness in the tannin. Not sweet fruit. Very unusual finish.

2/27/19 Tasting

Domaine de Sainte Cosme. 50% Viognier, 30% Piquepoul, 20% Marsanne. Pale yellow. Honey and honeysuckle nose. Stone fruit on the palate. Chewy minerality, low acidity. This is easily one of the most mineral-laden whites I’ve tasted in some time. Pair this wine with goat cheeses and fresh fruit for an outstanding experience!

Barco de Piedra Tinto Ribero Del Douero Tempranillo 2016. Deep ruby color, 4-6 months in American and French Oak. Cherry fruit, medium body, controlled acidity, soft tannins and a medium finish. Lovely expression of Ribera Del Duero Tempranillo.

Wapisa malbec, Patagonia 2016. From the cold southern regions of Argentina, this is a chewy, tannic Malbec. The fruit expresses itself differently. This wine is all about structure and with cold windy climate, the grapes do not develop as much fruit or sugar, so it’s all about the tannin.

Domaine les Pallieres Gigondas Terrasses du Diable 2013. 90% Grenache, 5% Clairette and 5% Mourvedre. Gigondas is situated at the base of the Dontelles Mountains. The wines produced their often have tremendous structure and thus reward those patient enough to decant them! This wine is a light ruby color. Mild French oak on the nose. On the palate, the wine is juicy, the tannins velvet in texture. Red fruit lingers on the palate (a candied black cherry?). From a 500 year old estate this is a solid Gigondas.

02/25/18 Italian Tasting

Tasca d’Almerita Sicilia Regieali Bianco (Inzolia, Grecanico Dorato, Catarratto & Chardonnay). Sandy/Clay soils. Medium body and light color. Medium stone fruit on nose, with stone fruit and mineral finish.

Suavia Soave Classico. “Soave” apparently refers to a Germanic tribe which occupied a portion of Northern Italy after the fall of the Roman Empire. In this case, in Veneto, this all-Garganega wine is crisp and clean. Pale gold-green color. White flowers and mineral on the nose. Stonefruit, chewy with minierals and an off-dry finish. This is NOT the jug wine your parents bought in the ‘70’s!

Tormaresca Calafuria Negroamaro. A dark rose from Puglia. Salmon Pink in color, notes of tropical fruit on the nose. Bright acidity that dissipates quickly. Very smooth finish. A fantastic rose from one of the “heaviest” grapes in Italy!

Mastroberardino Taurasi Radici Riserva 2-11. Aglianico from Campania. This is a serious wine from one of the two oldest wineries in Campania. Soft red fruit, texutral oak and tannin. Bottle aged for 42 months. Soft red fruit at the outset then tannin closes in with solid structure.

Paternoster Aglianico Del Vulture Synthesi 2015. From Basilicata, this Aglianico is more refined than Canpania Aglianicos. Bold ruby color, rose petals and red berries on the nose. Soft red berry fruit on the palate. Chewy tannins close in quickly. Medium short finish, 80% Slovenian oak, 20% French Barrique.

2/20/19 Italian Tasting

This tasting consisted of an Alto Adige Pinot Grigio, a Sicilian white and red, a Nero D’Avola from Puglia and a ripasso style Valpolicella.

Tolloy 2017 Pinot Grigio. Alto Adige . Honeysuckle nose, ripe fruit. Not crisp but then again not another throwaway PG.

Stemmari Dalila Bianco. 80% Grillo and 20% Viognier. Orange notes on the nose. round acidity and chalky minerality.

Stemmari Cantodoro. Cabernet/Nero D’Avola blend. Vanilla bean nose, tart and juicy. First sip indicated a pretty simple wine. Second sip showed more structure than the first.

Stemmari Hedonis. 50% of the fruit is passimento. Dark ruby, light vanilla nose. 100% Nero. Strange approach. On the first sip, earthy, chocolate tannins attack the front of the palate. On the second sip, lively acidity on the back but only after the chocolate at the front. I think this wine is not as well integrated as I’d like it to be. There are almost two wines warring with one another here and not sure which one wins.

Campolieti Ripasso. Cherrry fruit. Textural Corvina (60%), Rondinella (25%) and Molinaro (15%). Big tart back cherry fruit on the palate. Chocolate on the sides and front of the aplate. Chewy structure. A big wine, as one might expect, situated halfway between an Amarone and a Valpolicella…

02/120/19 Mixed Bag Tasting

Today’s first tasting included an eclectic mix of wines. One Austrian wine, two French one Spanish and one Washington State wine.

Hopler Gruner Veltliner Burgenland 2017. Light yellow color, light body, mineral laden wiht reduced acidity and a relatively short finish.

Gachot Monot Saint Aubin (Chardonnay) 2016. Pale yellow color, very translucent. Light nose of vanilla and pear. On the palate, bright acidity, vanilla spice. Medium+ body, definitely a product of malolactic fermentation and lightly oaked. 9 mos in 20-30% new French oak.

Chateau Lestrille-Capmartin Cuvee Tradition Bordeaux Superieur. 2012. 60% Merlot, 25% Cab, 15% Cab Franc. Dark ruby color. Spicy French oak and red fruit on the nose. Very textural, low acidity, mild red fruit. Sourced from near Entre Deux Mers on the right bank side.

La Cartuja Priorat. 2016. Bright ruby color, medium color saturation, spicy red berry nose, velvet tannin, juicy red fruit. Quite textural. This is a chew and fruit driven Spanish red.

Pamplin JRG Colombia Valley Bordeaux Blend 2014. 75% cab, 20% merlot, 3% malbec, 2% petite verdot. Dark ruby color, spice and caasis on the nose. Velvety soft tannin with great structure. Acidity is on the soft side making the fruit appear sweeter than it actually is. .

02/13/19 Italian Wines and Argentine Malbec

St Pauls Gfill Sauv Blanc Sudtirol 2017. Pale golden color. Straw and citrus on the nose. Grapefruit rind on the palate. Bright acidity but fades quickly.

Guido Porro Langhe Nebbiolo Camilu 2017. “Camilu” is the designation for a simpler wine than a Barolo because the vines are not as old as the DOCG requirements for a Barolo. Light garnet color. Light body. On the nose intense red cherry pie filling. on the palate, cherry stone. The fruit elements are fresh fruit (young wine), medium long finish. No oaking.

Nicolis Valpolicella Classico Ripasso Seccal Veneto 2015. 80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 5% each, Molinaro/Croatina. Ripasso, Amarone and Roccioto skins. Aged oak (Slavonian, 18 mos),. Dark garnet, tart dark cherry palate. Medium acidity, heavy body, tannic.

Zolo Malbec Reserva, Mendoza 2015. 75% new French/25% new American. Tannic, earthy with lingering acidity at the back of the palate. Somewhat austere.

02/12/19 Greek Wine Tasting

I am as guilty as anyone about having stereotypical thoughts about Greek Wine. Just the words together conjure up scents of pine resin (Retsina). I could not have been further off base. Every single one of the wines I tasted were elegant, polished and unique. Give Greek wines a try - you will be amazed at the quality of good ones!

Wine Art Estate Malagousia Plano (Macedonia) - Pale gold with green flashes. On the nose, stone fruit and grass - white peach? On the palate, gooseberry/grapefruit - this drinks much like a Sauvignon Blanc. Tart, crisp with a long finish of lemon fruit mid palate. Dry, medium body.

Carras Assyrtiko. Assyrtiko is the premium grape of Greece. It is a white grape and produced, in this example, a pale yellow wine with notes of tangerine on the nose. Tart, dry with a tangy tangerine citrus note on the palate. 50% neutral oak/50% stainless. Medium plus body. Works well as a substitute for either Vermentino or Chardonnay.

Gavalas Santorini Assyrtiko. The Greek island of Santorini is a volcanic island. Virtually no vegetation unless it is cultivated. The soils are primarily pumice. Vines are trained like wreaths, coiled up on the ground to keep the fruit close to the earth to prevent wind damage. No irrigation is permitted. Rootstocks go back 500-600 years. This harsh environment produces a wine of extravagant extraction and concentration of fruit. The wine was pale yellow with green tint. From 80-100 year old vines,. Rich stone fruit on the palate. Very polished. Not a lot of minerality as one might expect.

La Tour Melas Rose. Pale salmon color. Spicy, faint hint of petrol minerality. Maybe wild red berry nose, tart strawberry on the palate. Very like a fruit forward Provencal rose. Medium fruit, light body, bright acidity fades quickly.

Moraitis Rose. North of Santorini, on the mainland, soils are primarily sandy. The wine is a dark pink color. Minerality on the nose. Bright acidity and dark red berry fruit on the palate. Long finish, acidity is almost effervescent.

Pavilou Nemea (Agiorgitiko). Medium ruby color, roses and blackberry fruit on the nose. Berry/cherry fruit on the palate. Soft tannin, acidity in balance. Medium body and alcohol. Long finish, mid palate.

Moraitis Paros Reserve. Mandelaria (red grape) & Monemvassia (white grape - related to Malvasia) are co-fermented like Cote Rotie. 80% French oak, 20% American oak. Bright acidity, tight textural tannin. Crushed cherry and berry flavors about mid-way between fresh fruit and stewed fruit. Medium finish. This drinks like a cross between Sangiovese and Merlot. Perhaps not the biggest wine in the world but very refined.

02/06/19 Tasting

2015 Louis Barruol Cotes du Rhone Blanc. 80% Marsanne/ 20% Rousanne. Deep gold color. Deep pear and tree fruit nose along with floral notes. Controlled acidity, very little minerality. Dry, crisp.

2016 JM Brocard Chablis Vau de Vey - Pale gold. Vanilla nose with melon. Controlled acidity, heavy body, lemon fruit, flinty/steely finish.

2016 Brocard Chablis Vaudesir. Heavier vanilla, body is heavier and acidity more checked than the Vau de Vey. A beautiful Chablis and more easily quaffed than the Vau de Vey.

2016 Henri Bourgeois. Pale lemon color, strong gooseberry aromas, grapefruit rind on palate with acidity. heavy body.

2014 Maldonado Chardonnay Parr Vineyard (Napa) 2014. Lemon yellow. 16 mos of neutral French Oak aging. Clove and broiled pineapple on the nose, broiled pineapple continuing on the palate. Body medium, acidity controlled.

2014 Bouvier Gevrey Chambertin Pinot Noir. Medium garnet color, French oak on nose with aromas of cranberry. On the palate, acidity is very controlled.

2014 Brunier Chateauneuf du Pape Piedlong. Medium garnet color, stewed black and red berry fruit. Muted notes of blackberry and red plum on the palate.

Fantino Barolo Bussia Riserva Cascina Dardi 2012. Ruby color with telltale browning at the edges. 60 year old vines, five years in oak and one in the bottle. Spicy/musty nose. Elegant with controlled acidity, velvet sof tannins and cherry/red berry fruit. Very perfumed and floral nose. Look for this soon at Somm.

January 25 Tasting.

Tolaini Toscana Picconero Tenuta Montebello 2011. Cab merlot blend. Black and red cherry fruit, chewy tannin, Slovenian Oak. Supertuscan with some chew in it.

Chateau de la Gardine Chateaneuf du Pape Cuvee Dees Generations. Garnet color, red berry nose, silky texture and heavy body. Smooth, well integrated tannins and controlled acidity. Long finish.

Navarro Correas Structura Red Blend, Mendoza. Medium dark ruby color, dark stewed fruit on the palate. Acidic. Pomegranate and black cherry fruit. Textural tannin with a long finish.

Tablas Creek Vineyard, Esprit de Tablas Paso Robles (GSM+Cunoise). Medium color and bright ruby color. Red fruit on nose, tart red fruit with chewy tannins and a long finish. Dry, European style wine with robust acidity, some fruit at the back of the palate.

January 24 Wine Tasting

Avissi Non-vintage Prosecco. Veneto. Glera grape. Dry, tart and crisp. Straight-forward dry prosecco.

Echo Bay Sauv Blanc (Marlborough, NZ) - Pale, light color and body. Grapefruit on nose, bright citrusy palate, tart and mouthwatering. In other words, typical New Zealand SB.

Bieler Pere et Fils Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Sabine Rose. Salmon orange pink color, pale, faint whiff of strawberry. Tart, dry and mineral finish.

Bieler Cote Du Rhone Villages L Jassine. Canilla spice on nose, bright ruby color. On palate red cherry and berry notes. On Palate, tart plum and cherry with textural tannins and a medium finish.

Dona Paula Smoked Red Blend Lujan de Cuyo. Charred oak barrels with herbs burned in the barrels. Lends a juicy and herbaceous note to the nose of this wine. Rich fruit, low tannins and a spicy finish. Somm will carry this wine soon.

Hope’s End Red Blend (Australia). Shiraz, Grenache and Malbec). Dark purple garnet color. Red cherry, mocha and spice on the nose. Juicy red fruit, fine tannin, medium body . This is a fruit-forward blend with a medium long finish.

01/23/19 Eclectic Tasting

Avissi Prosecco (NV) - dry, tart and crisp. Very clean finish for a prosecco. Veneto.

Echo Bay Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough) - very light sauvignon blanc - appears translucent and colorless because of the blue glass used to make the bottle. On the nose, heavy scents of grapefruit. On the palate, dry, with a medium mineral finish.

2017 Bieler Pere et Fils Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rose. Pale salmon color. a whiff of strawberry on the nose. Exceptionally dry and acidic.

Bieler Cote du Rhone Villages La Jassine. Bright ruby color, vanilla spice on the nose (new French Oak). Red cherry and berry nose, on the palate, tart plum and cherry fruit with textural tannin. Medium finish.

Dona Paula Smoked Red Blend (Cab/Malbec Argentina) - Charred oak barrels smoked with herbs lend this wine an interesting bouquet. I get the herbaceousness but little of the char or smoke. Juicy, firm tannins with long finish. Medium+ body and 14% abv.

Hope’s End Red Blend (Australia - Grenache, Shiraz and Malbec). Dark purple/garnet color. Red cherry and mocha on the nose. On the palate, juicy red fruit (fruit forward wine), firm tannin, medium+ body with a medium++ finish. Overall well integrated and an easy drinker.

Italian Wine Tasting notes, January 18, 2019

On Friday I tasted a number of Italian wines from RS Lipman. Here are my notes:

Reva Barolo. Single Vineyard fruit, 2 years in used Slovenian Oak, one year aged in the bottle. Cranberry/garnet color. Bright acidity, red cherry nose and palate. Yields quickly to the oak finish.

Sacchetto Prosecco 071. “Extra Dry” (meaning off-dry). White flowers and pear on the nose. Some RS. Glera grapes. Ripe fruit on the middle and back of the palate. LIvely but goes flat quickly (tank conditioning). Godo acidity with a bit of minerality on the back-end. A good example of a typical prosecco.

La Chiara Gavi DOCG del Comune de Gavi. Funky mineral nose. Tart round and soft. Dry but not overly so. A table wine for sure. Definitely “drink now.”

Simone Capecci Pecorino Ciprea. Funky mineral nose on this one, too. On the palate, takes some time to resolve into a citrusy fruit. Not as much minerality as other Pecorinos I’ve tasted. Light yellow color, light body, light alcohol.

Dogliotti Barbera D’Asti - Medium ruby color, medium body, notes of red berries on the nose. Tart red and black cherry and berry fruit on the palate. Tannins are low, no oak, controlled acidity. Good example of the terroir and the grape. Barbera is one of my favorite Piedmontese wines and you can expect to see this one in the shop next week, priced around $12 a bottle. Drink up, there’s lots of it available.

Simone Capecci Rosso Piceno Superiore Picus. 70% Montepulciano, 30% Sangiovese. Organic wine. One year in oak. Spicy red berry on the nose. Medium ruby color and medium body. Juicy cherry/berry notes, supple tannins and long finish.

Reva Nebbiolo d’Alba - Brown garnet color (typical for the varietal and not indicative of age in this case). Medium color, stewed cassis on the nose. Tart cassis on the palate with a bruleed sugar note. Medium acidity, cherry fruit on the palate, long finish.

Recchia Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso “Le Muraie” - Molinaro/covrvina/rondinella blend. Bright ruby color, medium dark. roses and red berry nose. Medium heavy body. Very controlled acidity. Red berry fruit at the back of the palate. A brighter expression of Ripasso style Valpolicella than is usually the case, somewhat shorter on structure than others I ‘ve tried.

Recchia Amarone della Valpolicella Classico - Dark garnet color. Stewed plum and prune fruit on the nose. Big and tannic, tart but dark dried fruit, medium finish, heavy body and high in alcohol (16.5%). This Amarone tends more towards the dessert wine version of Amarone and a bit away from the more acidic and savory examples I’ve tried lately. Enjoyable in its’ own right and straddling the two very distinctive styles of this wine (one speaking of dried and stewed fruit and tending towards a dessert wine and the other big, bold, tart, and food friendly), making this wine an interesting glass rather than duplicating many exemplars of the other two styles. This wine, if I bring it in to Somm would be priced just under $50, which makes it a bargain Amarone.

1-15-19 Blog Post

Welcome back! Lots of stuff to post about today!

2015 Finca Decero Cabernet Sauvignon Remolinos Agrelo

Cab from Argentina. Medium ruby color. 14 mos French Oak ((neutral) lends vegetal nose. On palate, cherries, subtle tannin, some red cherry and blackberry fruit (lingers mid-palate). Tangible Stucture, medium body, 14;.5% ABV. A very Bordeaux-like wine.

2014 Finca Decero Malbec Remolinos Agrela. Very polished! Dark ruby color, clear. Floral and red berry nose. On palate, red and black cherry and plum, with a lingering finish, mid-palate. Medium heavy iin body, 13.5% ABV, neutral oak. Delicious expression of Malbec.

2014 The Owl and The Dust Devil Agrelo. (See www.theowlandthedustdevil.com for the downloadable app to explain the name). A beautiful wine, 32% Malbec, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Tannat. The wine is dark garnet in color, medium body with a slightly vegetal nose, courtesy of 18 months in French oak (50% new). Begins with light fruit, then immediately attacks on tannins in the front of the palate before establishing tart fruit on the back of the palate. This wine moves to and fro over the palate and is trulyl remarkable. 14$ Abv. Medium heavy body.

2013 Finca Decero Petit Verdot Remolinos. Dark garnet color, vegetal/petrol aromas. Supple tannin, purple fruit and a very polished wine. Beautifully crafted, lingering tart fruit on the back of the palate with tannin at the front of the palate. 1 4.5%, Medium++ body.

2013 Finca Decero Amano Remolinos. 65% Malbec, 28% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Tannat. Rich dark ruby color. Beautiful red and black fruit on the nose. Earthy-chocolate on the front. Rich fruit on the back of ht epalate. Medium body, ABV=14.5%. Tasty but pricey.

2015 Treana Central Coast Chardonnay. Small amount of Marsanne/Rousanne blended in. Gold green color, notes of pear, yellow apple and vanilla. I am not a fan of heavily oaked chardonnay, however, the rousanne/marsanne adds textural and aromatic notes that intrigue me. Check it out.

2014 Treana Central Coast Blanc. A blend of Viognier, Marsanne and Rousanne. Dark gold, on the nose and palate, roasted pineapple aromas and flavors which linger on the palate and nose. This is a dry wine, but because of the aroma/flavor of pineapple you would be tempted to think it sweet which it isn’t. Bright but controlled acidity with a very long finish. Interesting.

2016 Liberty School Paso Cabernet. Dark garnet color, vanilla on the nose. Dry redf ruit, loads of spice, tannin and acidity. Medium body, 13.5% ABV.

2016 Treana Paso Cab. Vanilla on the nose. Vibrant tannin, black and blue fruit on the palate. Medium Garnet color and medium body. Good value in a spicy/vanilla laden cab.

2016 Austin Hope Winery Quest Proprietary Red. Cedar and cloves on the nose, dark ruby color, red fruit and baking spice. Fine tannins, mid palate fruit. 14% abv. Medium body. Definitely for those who like aromatic cabs.

20016 Austin Hope Cabernet Sauvignon Paso. Juicy red fruit nose, juicy red abd blackc fruit. Dark garnet color, Heavy body, fruit forward cabeernet with fine tannins. 14% ABV..

2017 Gaia Thassitis Assyrtiko Santorini. Pale yellow color, Dried stone fruit (apricot and peach) nose. Tart, heavy body and rich luxurious mouthfeel. 70-80 year old vines. Skin-on maceration. Mineral finish and on the palate, tart fruit. Remarkable.

2015 Cadette Melon Vin de France Bourgogne. Tart, slightly funky nose. Pale yellow color, stainless steel fermentation. There is something lacking here - a sense of undeveloped fruit or a “green” quality to this wine.

2015 Barachhi Smeriglo Merlot, Cortona,, Very dark ruby color, courtesy of three week maceration. Phenolic nose. Tart red fruit and textural tanins. 15% ABC, medium body.

2013 Terrebrune Bandol Rouge, Provence. 85% Mourvedre, 10% Grenache, 5% Cinsault. Heavy fruit, lingering at the back of hte palate. An organic wine, indigenous yeast and very age-worthy (3 decades or more). From one of the top Bandol Rose makers. Remarkable but pricey.

2013 Barachhi Cabernet Riserva, Cortona. Garnet brown color, prune nose and on the palate stewed fruit. Grippy tannin, chewy structure with prune and black cherry fruit. Medium body.

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Third Wine Tasting 01-10-19

Today’s tasting focused on Italian and Spanish wines. I tasted three wines, each very different from the last. Here are my notes:

Wine #1: Vara Y Pulgar, Tintilla, Jerez 2014. Color is dark garnet/ruby and opaque. On the nose, notes of savory herbs and red fruit. On the palate, dark cherry fruit manifests, then gives way to an earthy-dusty finish. 40% of the wine was barrel aged in new French oak for 20 months. I found the acidity to be very controlled and the tannin was textural. Overall a nice and approachable Spanish red wine varietal that is out of the ordinary.

Tintilla is genetically the same grape as Graciano. In fact, the ancestry of Tintilla goes back 4000 years to the area of Cadiz where Phoenician traders first established a trading post. Tintilla is a black grape which ripens slowly. Harvest in Spain is usually in October. The wines are sometimes blended into Rioja red wines to add structure and acidity.

2015 Portelli Cerasuolo di Vittoria (Sicily). Cerasuolos from Abruzze are often very dark roses however, this wine is a red wine that must be at least 67% Nero D’Avola. The remainder is always Frappato. In this case, the blend is 70% Nero/30% Frappato. Juicy and oaky on the nose, exhibiting fat red cherry fruit, robust acidity and firm tannin, this was a very tasty wine. Light ruby in color, fruity aromas and medium body and color would tend to make you think this is a softer wine and you’d be wrong to assume that. Look for this wine soon at Somm!

2014 Sesti Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany. An orangey-brick red color is sometimes seen in Italian reds (particularly in Nebbiolo wines), but it shouldn’t necessarily make one think “oxidized”! Body was light as was color. Very earthy nose and a palate of cherry fruit with very pronounced tannins, which closed in quickly. Medium-short finish on the fruit side. This wine is not so much “fun” as it is “serious” - I think it would pair well with grilled game, meats or sausage but most other Rossos di Montalcino exhibit more fruit. With very muted acidity, I suspect the reason the winemaker classified this as Rosso and not Brunello was the lack of acidity limited its’ aging ability. As a Rosso I think this example was interesting but if I wanted a chewy Montalcino, I’d probably ante-up for a full fledged Brunello and skip this Rosso.

Second Wine Tasting Blog Post 1-9-19

Le Contesse Prosecco, Veneto, NV. Brut Bianco Prosecco. Color= Light Gold, clear. Aromas: Candy aromas on the nose. Palate: Ripe stone fruit at first, quickly fading to a very dry, mineral finish. Overall impression: a very dry, mineral-laden prosecco, exhibiting a burst of bubbles on the front, then quickly dissipating. A good prosecco for those who like their sparklers on the dry side. Would be particularly good with food.

Materra Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley, 2017. Pale green-gold in color, clear. Aromas of wet straw and grass with citrus. On the palate, grapefruit, tart with plenty of minerality. Light body and light on its’ “feet.”

Pazo de Gallegas Albarino, Galicia, 2017. Pale, clear gold color. On the nose, citrusy with a pineapple and pine aroma. Medium body and alcohol. Citrusy with grapefruit, grapefruit rind and minerality. Medium body. This is a wine made for food accompaniment.

Moshin Chardonnay “Westside Crossing” Russian River 2015. Light gold color with clarity. On the nose, light oak (2nd or 3rd use oak, I’m guessing) without vanilla notes. Buttery texture, light lemon fruit. Acidity is very controlled. Not your typical California Chardonnay nor is it Burgundian in style. This wine is a suitable compromise for those who prefer Burgundian Chardonnays and those who like their Chardonnay more stereotypically “California” in style.

La Cartuja Priorat, Catalonia, 2016 Red Blend. A Priorat blend of 70% Garnaxta and 30% Carinena (Carignane). Medium garnet color, dark in tone. Juicy/spicy nose. Notes of cranberry and under-ripe red tart cherry. Light in body and color for a Priorat Garnaxta. Perhaps a bit of petrol on the nose (would be expected from soils that contain large amounts of slate). Based on past tastings of Garnaxta and Garnaxta/Carinena from this region this wine seems light in color and with less extraction of fruit, less concentration of fruit and lighter color and body than seems the norm for the DOC and the varietals.

Darms Lane Cabernet Sauvignon, “Fortune 1621” Napa Valley, 2016. Dark garnet color. Oaky vanilla on the nose. Red and Black fruit aromas in the wine. On the palate, black, tart fruit, giving way to a very tannic and structured wine seemingly more French than American in style. Aged in mostly French oak, the wine exhibits a fruit forward attack, then recedes quickly giving way to mouth-coating tannins. Medium+ body, 14.5% ABV.

“Two Sauared” 2016 Bordeaux Blend. This wine is the second label of Alpha Omega in Napa, California. The wine has a spicy blackberry nose, blackberry fruit and vanilla spice on the palate. Body is light and color, medium. My rep tells me this wine had more impact shortly after it was opened but seems to have diminished since opening, we will revisit this wine later to see if the wine simply had faded or not!

Jerry's Wine Blog, First Entry

Many people have asked me how I got started in wine appreciation and how I acquired my palate. My short answer is “we start where our feet touch the ground” and we go from there. You start from whatever experience level you are at and then add to it. For those wishing to acquire a “professional” palate, you need to be ready to do tastings in an organized way. For the amateur (and there is NOTHING wrong with those who choose that path), you can still employ a systemic approach to the varietals, appellations or wine types you prefer and then, once you are confident with your grasp of those wines, look for other wines from other regions which may appeal to you.

Having confidence in your ability to discern what you like and dislike in wines is a must. This said, I will begin this blog with an explanation of my methodology for presentation. My goal is to (as much as I am able) share my tasting experiences with you. While it is true that I cannot share the taste or aroma of a wine with you physically, I can share my observations with you and, if you choose you can then try those wines for yourself. Remember, we, each of us, have our own palate and what I may describe in my words you might describe in your own different words…

The first step to building what I call a “professional” palate is to taste, taste, taste. I am blessed to be in the industry and therefore have an opportunity to try wines from a number of different distributors and from wineries from all over the world at little or no cost to me. Since this is not available to most people, I have chosen to share my perceptions, opinions and observations on these wines so that YOU can choose if you think a wine will appeal to you or not. Going forward, I will share my tasting notes from each tasting with each wine rep. For each wine I will adhere to the Wine and Spirit Education Trust’s wine tasting matrix. I will describe each wine’s color, clarity, aroma, taste profile, finish, alcohol level, body, tannin level, etc.

For my first blog entry, I have chosen some of the most recent wines which I’ve purchased for our wine shop and the restaurant. I hope you will find these descriptions useful!

Roger Neveu 2015 “Le Colomobier” Sancerre Rouge. Pinot Noir from east side of the Loire Valley. Pinot Noir is grown extensively in Burgundy. It is seldom grown in the Loire Valley as that is mostly Cabernet Franc terroir, however, this varietal from this appellation represents strong value due to more affordable pricing than red Burgundies. The soil of the Loire Valley produces wines with deeper fruit than is usually the case in most parts of Burgundy, though the same fruit profiles (notably black and red cherry) still predominates.

Color: Medium Ruby. Clarity: clear. Body: Light. Alcohol Level: 12.5%ABV. Aromas of red berry fruit and mushrooms. On the palate, black and red cherries, tart with a somewhat earthy finish. Medium to light tannin. Retail sales price at Somm: $27. In my opinion, this is a good French pinot noir perhaps not with the finesse or quality of a Grand or Premier Cru Cote de Nuits St George or Gevrey-Chambertin, but certainly very good and about 1/3 the price of Grand Cru Burgundy pinot noir!

Three Wine Company 2015 Contra Costa County Petite Sirah. 100% Petite Sirah from just north of San Francisco, CA. Color: Deep, dark red. Clarity: Opaque. Aromas: Bramble and black fruit. Palate: Black cherry fruit, mid-palate. Finish: Earthy and chocolaty with a very attenuated, long finish. Alcohol: 15.4%. Tannin: Chewy and palpable but controlled. When Petite Sirah is “on point,” it delivers solidly in all respects. This is one of those wines. The overall impression is of bittersweet chocolate covered black cherry fruit. Tannins caress the palate as well as the gums. Most petite sirahs are notoriously short on the finish which is why they are so often blended with other varietals that have longer finishes. This is 100% petite sirah and it needs no support on the finish. Overall an excellent petite sirah and with a price of $18 a bottle at Somm, this wine represents incredible value! Matt Cline is the winemaker.

Bouza 2016 Reserva Tannat (Uruguay). Tannat originated in the area south of Bordeaux in the area of Madiran. Small amounts of Tannat wine are still made in the region though they are not widely available elsewhere. At its’ best Tannat is a chewy, purple beast of a wine, with velvety tannin and tons of dark fruit. Most Tannat available in today’s wine market is made in Uruguay, as Uruguay considers this their primary wine grape.

Color: Dark saturated ruby. Clarity: Dark to opaque. Aromas of black and purple fruit and petrol. Palate: Bramble fruit, cassis and a smoky quality. Alcohol 14.5%. Tannins velvet and textural. Aged in new American and French Oak. Dark and broody, with chewy tannic structure and black berry fruit, this wine begs to be paired with grilled meat or steak. For those who like right bank Bordeaux or other big Merlot wines, this is definitely a varietal to explore. Petrol notes undoubtedly arise due to the mineral content (limestone) of the soil from the vineyards and are accentuated in French Oak. At $23 a bottle, the wine is available at Somm.

Prior Scala Dei 2016 Priorat Garnaxta.

Grenache/Garnaxta/Garnacha/Cannonau originated as far as we can tell in the northern Spanish Kingdom of Aragon, near the Pyrenees Mountains. Though juicy and soft in most terroir, in the area of Priorat, just south of Barcelona, the grape takes on more interesting aspects. The area is dry and arid, resulting in wines with greater concentration and extraction, though yields are usually reduced. Compounding this is the fact that Priorat is very steeply sloped so what little rainfall actually lands quickly runs off, stressing the grape vines even more. It is this harsh climate and concentration of flavor that makes Priorat Garnaxta so interesting.

Escala Dei is a former Carthusian Monastery site, in active use until the early 19th century, when the church was abandoned. Today, there are two vineyards in the heart of Priorat, Scala Dei.

Color: Bright ruby red. Clarity: Dark/opaque. Aromas: Smoky, Red Berry with notes of animal fats. Palate: big red raspberry and red plum fruit, petrol from the slate soils in which the grapes were grown. Alcohol: 14.5%. Tannin: Dark and supple tannin is well integrated. Body is medium+. The wine gives an overall impression of a much heavier grape (perhaps more syrah-like?) and definitely different than the juicy and light Grenache of the Rhone Valley variety. $31 per bottle at Somm.

Next week I will be tasting Txakoki and Albarino from Spain as well as several Napa reds and I will be posting my notes from that tasting soon! If you have any questions regarding any of the wines I have reviewed here, feel free to reach out to me at Jerry@sommbyepicure.com !