Keep Your Glitz — Let’s Talk About The Wine

DSC_0760If you spend too much time in certain corners of the Napa Valley, you start to believe that in order to make great wine you need to have a Great, capital G, winery. One with a tasting room tricked out in stone and steel, glass and marble. Paneled rooms filled with fine collectibles and walls covered in original art. Parking lots filled with limousines and luxury sedans.

That is until you visit Failla. At Failla, you are reminded that, at the end of the day, it’s the wine that matters. The rest of the other stuff? Not so important.

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Sonoma Begins With Keller Estate

DSC_0714 For more than 20 years, on my way to visit family members in Petaluma and points west, I’ve seen the Keller Estate sign on Lakeville Highway. And for years my impression of the winery, based on nothing more than the look of the sign and its location in the flatlands north of the San Pablo Bay, was, well, less than impressive. I imagined that, should I follow the sign, I would find a simple, run-down, peaked-back-in-the-’70s establishment, more than deserving of its out-of-the-way spot on the border of lower Sonoma County.

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Pink? Time To Think…For Yourself

IMG_1238Even if you tried, you could not keep up with the media frenzy going on right now around rosé. Pink is the new, well, you name it. In the wine world, it’s one of top stories. And the clamor shows no signs of stopping any time soon.

I drink a lot of pink. And my family and friends know this because I post my rosé “research” on Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis. Still, I get a lot of requests on what pink to drink. Which made me think. (Yeah, I just did that.) I realized pretty quickly that there is no way to go through and offer tasting notes and opinions on all the rosés I’ve opened in the past year or so, nor is it possible for me to pore over all the recent media offerings in order to cobble together a list for the various palates I know. So, here’s the next best thing — a photo collection of many of the bottles from the last year or so. I’ve liked some more than others, but none of the ones here have been complete, carve-out-your-eyeball failures. Some are on the cheaper side, others are a tad pricey. Almost all have pretty good acid, which is essential for a refreshing pink. After that, the fruit flavors, concentration, finish, appearance — that’s all on you. Rosé is not a wine to ponder. Rosé is a wine to drink. So, take a peek, and start planning your next Pinkapalooza. Cheers!

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Geek of the Week — 2012 Domaine Porto Carras Malagouzia

photoMaybe I should just title this Greek of the Week. Despite rising popularity and critical acclaim in recent years, far too many wine drinkers remain ignorant of the fine wines coming out of that ancient land. Happily, the wine industry there is no longer trapped in the past. Despite a winemaking history that stretches back millenia, Greek producers today have embraced modern viniculture and all that it promises.

One of the best stories coming out of Greece in recent years is the resurrection of the ancient variety Malagouzia and its restoration to the pantheon of the world’s great white wines. “It is thanks to Evangelos Gerovassiliou’s work when he was at Domaine Carras in the 1980s and 1990s that Malagousia was recognized for its great potential, the variety having been found in western Greece by Professor Logothetis of the Agricultural University of Thessaloniki and planted in an experimental plot that he rented at Carras” (Konstantinos Lazarakis, The Wines of Greece, Mitchell Beazley 2005). Gerovassiliou has continued his impressive work with Malagouzia at his eponymous estate, producing varietal wines, but often blending with Assyrtiko “to add perfume to the latter higher-acid and more mineral variety” (Robinson, Wine Grapes, Harper Collins 2012). Due to its resurgence, the once rare grape is now planted in many regions across Greece and is popular with some of the country’s finest producers.

I’ve enjoyed Malagouzia from Gerovassiliou but only recently had the chance to taste wines from the original production site at Domaine Porto Carras. After only one glass I knew this bottle was going to be a staple in my cellar.

In the glass, the wine is a brilliant green-gold, but what is most striking are the aromas that simply jump out to greet you. Immediately you pick up apricot, lime, orange blossom, with hints of green apple and wet gravel. On the palate, the flavors are less perfumed and more savory, with steely, earthy notes, lemon and lime pith, and apple skin. The perfect balance of acid and fruit give structure to a wine that is light and long, the finish lingering noticeably until you’re compelled to take another sip.

Malagouzia is a versatile wine, one that will pair well with all sorts of seafood and meaty white fishes, as well as chicken and pork. It’s also a delight on its own. With an abv (alcohol by volume) of 12.5%, and retailing for around $15, this is one white you’ll want to have on hand for almost any occasion.

[disclosure: free review sample]



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Truchard Vineyards Are Not To Be Missed

DSC_0593For years I’ve been driving through Los Carneros – that rolling strip of vineyards and farms hugging the bottom of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys – without really understanding what it was I was looking at.

Then I spent an afternoon at Truchard Vineyards. Now I get it.

Want to learn more? Check out the rest of my review for the American Winery Guide. All you have to do is click here…

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Jordan Vineyard And Winery — Take Another Look

DSC_0576Here’s another take on my recent visit to Jordan Vineyard and Winery, just outside of Healdsburg in the heart of Sonoma County. I can’t believe it took me so many years to visit this magical, hidden treasure. Don’t make the same mistake. If you’ve not been, plan to get there soon. If you’ve been there before, make another visit to enjoy some of the new experiences they have to offer. When visiting friends want to see some of my favorite wineries, Jordan is now a permanent fixture on the list. Enjoy!

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Port — Not Just For Roaring Fires On Chilly Nights

1483195123483d117252155When wine lovers think about Port, which isn’t nearly often enough, they imagine something that will thaw them out in the dead of winter. That’s fine, to a point, but Port isn’t just something to enjoy during the dark days of winter. It’s a year-round pleasure. If you’re not so sure about that, check out my recent piece for The Alcohol Professor. What you read might just change your mind. Cheers!

**photo courtesy of Sandeman

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