Archive for the ‘Wine’ Category

Kenwood Vineyards was founded in 1970 on what was the Pagani Brothers Winery. The estate sits on a twenty-two acre vineyard, but Kenwood also sources grapes from dozens of vineyards in Sonoma Valley. The 2009 growing season began with a dry spring followed by a mild summer, which lowered yields but produced good grapes.

The Kenwood Russian River Valley Pinot Noir has a smoky nose of oak and a hint of vanilla. It opens with dried berries, cigar box, spice, and a whisper of mineral flavors on the palate. Rounded tannins give way to a modest herbal finish. This red is fairly well balanced, but slightly high in acidity with a medium body. It’s an easy drinking wine that would pair well with a variety of cuisine.

-86 points


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Bordeaux Futures – 2010

It is a little known fact that a relatively small group of wealthy consumers determine how much we pay for wine by gambling on the prices before the wine reaches the bottle. Every spring, retailers flock to the French châteaux to engage in barrel tastings of last year’s harvest to ascertain what wines consumers in their local markets will be most interested in. The négociants note the critical reception, current economic status, and demand from retailers to negotiate pricing with the individual wineries.

The 2009 vintage was excellent and yielded multitudes of classic-quality reds. Reports indicate that the 2010 wines will be giving ’09 a run for its money; however, the two vintages are very different stylistically. Unlike the opulent reds of 2009, the 2010 offerings are balanced and fresh with ripe tannins and bright acidity.

What about the futures? Apparently merchants are finding 2010 to be a hard sell as consumers are gawking at the high prices. Many are buying older vintages at lower prices instead of tying up more of their money on wine that isn’t bottled and won’t be ready to drink for two decades. The fact that the futures of some wineries (Cos, L’Evangile, and Ducru-Beaucaillou) have dropped is making consumers unsure if 2010 is a wise gamble. What if the wine hits the shelf lower than the current futures? It is also interesting to note that the second wines of some châteaux are seeing the most aggressive increases in futures. Either way, the market has been turned loose to the mercy of the consumer. It will be very interesting to see where things end up after the dust settles.

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The Sichel family has been producing affordable Bordeaux since 2002 when it acquired Château D’Argadens. This stunning and deeply-hued Bordeaux is a blend of 57% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 3% Cabernet Franc. The nose bursts with black cherry and cassis with a dusting of strawberry. This Bordeaux is clearly blended in a modern, fruit forward style with good structure. Notes of red fruit and earth dominate through a background of tobacco, oak, and vanilla. The wine shows balance with soft tannins and good acidity. The Château D’Argadens 2006 will not rival Premiers Crus from renowned Châteaux; however, it is a very solid wine at a bargain price of around $18.

-89 points

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This red from from Southern Rhône is made from equal parts Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Roussanne and Bourboulenc. It has a powerful nose of black currant, lavender, raspberry, licorice, and spice that opens considerably after decanting. Tasting shows ripe flavors of deep currant, ginger, peach, and pear. The Les Gallimardes has exceptional balance with a long, buttery floral finish. It has a pronounced acidity that plays well with the firm tannic structure. This is one of the best values of Rhône on the market. Drink now or cellar.

-92 points

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Germany’s noble white grape variety, Riesling, is a versatile performer capable of producing lusciously sweet wines as well as distinguished dry wines. Given that Riesling produces a wine high in acidity, German Rieslings are often balanced with a dusting of natural sweetness. In the warmer climate of Alsace there is enough ripeness to offset the acidity, allowing the wine to have balance even when completely dry. Even very light German Rieslings have good aging potential because of this pronounced acidity. After many years their tart citric fruit evolves into a spellbinding pungency reminiscent of the heady fumes of gasoline.

The warm, dry weather at harvest gave the 2009 vintage exceptional balance of fruit and minerality. Though the yields are down, this vintage is on par with the exceptional offerings from 2001 and 2005 – and even perhaps older notable vintages 1953 and 1969.

2009 Schloss Lieser Niederberg Helden Riesling –
This ’09 is very fresh with a lively acidity. It has a profuse bouquet of graphite with notes of cherry and apple on the palate. The substantial finish smacks of cream and is lightly sweet. This is a prime candidate for aging as it is quite concentrated – almost brash.
-92 points
2009 Selbach-Oster Riesling Qualitätswein Mosel –
This is another 2009 Riesling with an intense aroma of minerals. It has elegant and refined notes of peach and baked apricot with hints of citrus. The finish is also creamy but shows a moderate amount of spice. A great buy at $25.
-93 points

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Aging Wine

The time-honored tradition of aging wine is perhaps the most misunderstood facet of the hobby. How should a wine be stored for aging purposes, and what happens to wine as it ages?

The process of aging wine is far more involved than tossing a bottle or two in the kitchen cupboard and forgetting about it for a few years. Bottles must be stored under optimal conditions to control the variables that contribute to aging for the best, most predictable results. Generally speaking, bottles must be stored on their side in low light conditions. Horizontal storage helps maintain a near perfect bottle seal since the wine remains in direct contact with the cork, keeping it tightly expanded. The atmosphere should be 55 degrees farenheit and between 60 – 80 percent relative humidity. Higher temperatures speed up the aging process and can cause bottles to leak. A humid environment keeps the cork from crumbling in the bottle. Wine will evaporate from the bottle even under perfect storage conditions; ullage levels will increase at a rate of up to half an inch per decade of cellar time.

Not all wines make good candidates for aging; low quality wines will generally not improve with time. Inexpensive wines are generally blended in a fruit-forward manner that are to be enjoyed immediately. As wine ages, phenolic compounds form sediment in the bottle. This is why a harshly tannic young wine (several Cabernets come to mind) will become more balanced and gentle on the palate with time. The color will slowly fade, and notes of fruit will become less prominent. Complex floral, spicy, earthy, or mineralic tertiary notes and aromas will develop or gain definition. Exactly what should you age? I look for a concentrated wine with a strong structure that is giving me a glimpse of something special. It may be fairly inexpressive and closed that moment, but it is of good lineage and has some wonderfully subtle notes that could be better developed with time. Cellar some wine and watch it slowly unfurl its wonderful secrets.

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Siduri Tasting

The Siduri tasting this evening at Corkscrew Wine & Cheese was a real hit. From the effusive bouquets, supple textures and sweet, expansive fruit and spice flavors the wines offered it is clear that Pinot can not only exist, but thrive outside its native Burgundy. It’s a temperamental grape variety, causing perhaps more hand-wringing despair among growers than any other. Pinot seems distinctly partial to soils with limestone content. The thin-skinned grape is more prone to vine diseases than most, and rots easily in persistent rain. The potential pay-off is a lighter red with less tannin that is approachable even in its youth.

After having my first glass poured, I found myself admiring a full-bodied red with raspberry and ripe cherry, along with interesting notes of cola. The wine boasted a lavish finish containing a hint of spice and dried fruit. I had just tasted the 2009 Siduri Sonoma Pinot Noir. This wine is a great value at $21 per bottle, but lacks aging potential over one or two years.

The 2009 Russian River Pinot proved quite seductive with its concentrated and pure delivery of fresh dark berry, plum, and black cherry flavors. The long plummy finish was memorable with a whisper of oak. There was an elegant “Chopinesque” nuance and complexity to this mouth filling wine.

2009 Siduri Sonoma Pinot Noir – 90 points

2009 Siduri Russian River Pinot Noir- 92 points

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