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Month in Wines – October 2013

November 1, 2013 5 comments
Montesco Passionate Wine

Montesco Passionate Wine

Another month is passing by, and it is the time to summarize the best experiences. Definite highlight of this month were all the wonderful wines I tasted in Portugal – the 1970 White Port is hard to topple -  but there were other great wines…

Without any particular order, here we go:

2010 Montesco Passionate Wine Parral, Tupungato, Mendoza (14% ABV, 40% Malbec, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Bonarda) – the name says it all. Very inviting nose, layers of fruit, dark cherries, blackberries, supple tannins, energetic acidity and joy in every sip – excellent wine all around. 8+

2009 Turley Zinfandel Tofanelli Vineyard, Napa Valley (15.2% ABV) – dark, concentrated, with the core of traditional Zinfandel’s blackberry aromatics and palate, perfectly accentuated by espresso and dark chocolate notes. Perfectly dry, structured, firm and balanced, with a long finish. 9-

NV Lagranja 360 Cava Brut (11.5% ABV, 70% Xarel-lo, 30% Parellada) – simple and elegant, perfectly refreshing, just a touch of sweetness, good acidity, very balanced overall. 8-

NV Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition Grand Cru, Ambonay (70% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay) – a beautiful wine. Touch of yeast on the nose, crisp acidity and noticeable fruit notes on the palate. Outstanding. 8+

NV H. Blin Brut, Vincelles (80% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay) – perfect acidity with somewhat of a medium body, nice mid-palate weight, very round. Excellent. 8-

NV Pierre Gimonnet & Fils 1er Cru Brut Blanc de Blancs Sélection Belles Anneés (100% Charodnnay) – very nice nose of brioche and touch of apple, same on the palate with some interesting mineral undertones. Very good. 8-

2003 Quevedo Colheita Tawny Port (barrel tasted) – mature, dried fruit, like figs and may be dried apricots, but it was very balanced and still perfectly fresh. 8+

1996 Quevedo Colheita Tawny Port (barrel tasted) - outstanding, mature, with the perfect medley of dried fruit, figs, raisins, and excellent supporting acidity. 9-

1970 Quevedo White Port (barrel tasted) – Elegant, complex, somewhat reminiscent of the mature Pedro Ximenez sherry, but with the dialed back sweetness, perfectly mature fruit, hazelnuts and, believe it or not, still very refreshing and all around spectacular. 9+

1974 Quevedo Colheita Tawny Port (tasted pre-bottled) – very complex, with the good amount of dried fruit, that nuttiness which only well aged Port or Jerez can demonstrate, all with still very present acidity. 9

2007 Arrayán Petit Verdot, DO Mentrida, Spain (14% ABV, 100% Petit Verdot) – concentrated, powerful, very dense, firm and structured, but showing some nice blueberries. Noticeable earthiness with some pencil shavings. 8

2007 Jamesport Vineyards Petit Verdot Reserve, Long Island, NY – powerful, all around dark fruit, notes of the dark chocolate, soft tannins, balancing acidity. Needs some time to open. Will age nicely for the next 10-15 years. 8

2005 Jamesport Vineyards Merlot Block E, Long Island, NY (13.5% ABV, 80% Merlot, 10% cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah) – beautiful nose of dark fruit and chocolate. Velvety, silky slick on the palate, layers of supple dark fruit, soft tannins, clean acidity, overall very balanced with long, sexy finish. 8+

2012 Ernie Els “Big Easy” Chenin Blanc, Western Cape, South Africa – nice body presence – medium to full body, somewhat plump with white stone fruit notes and soft acidity. Overall, very pleasant. 8-

That should be about all for the month of October. Did you have any memorable wine experiences? Care to share? Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, Global Champagne Day, Dishcrawl SoNo, Tempranillo Day and more

October 23, 2013 5 comments
Arrayán Petit Verdot, Spain

Arrayán Petit Verdot, Spain

Meritage time!

Let’s start from the answer to the wine quiz #78, grape trivia – Petit Verdot. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions regarding the red grape called Petit Verdot. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: Explain the meaning of the name Petit Verdot

A1: Petit Verdot stands for the “little green”, as a reference to the small size of the grapes and the tendency to retain green (underripe) grapes even at the harvest time

Q2: Name four grapes, main blending partners of Petit Verdot in France

A2: We are talking about classic Bordeaux five here, the blending partners of Petit Verdot are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec

Q3: True or False: Australia’s plantings of Petit Verdot far exceed the plantings of Petit Verdot in France

A3: True. Australia embraced Petit Verdot starting from the second half of the 18th century, increasing its plantings, where Petit Verdot plantings in France had being on the downturn for a while.

Q4: While Petit Verdot is a difficult grape to work with, two events were major contributors to the demise of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux. Can you name those two events?

A4: Phylloxera epidemic in the late 1800s and the frost of 1956. As a difficult to grow and not essential grape, Petit Verdot followed the path of Malbec, with a dramatic reduction in plantings after the cataclysmic events.

Q5: While it is not impossible to find a pure 100% Petit Verdot wines made in Bordeaux, those wines are rather the exceptions. What is the typical percentage of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux blends?

A5: It is very often 1% to 2%, and in general stays under 5%. There are exceptions, of course.

Bonus question: what was your personal encounter with Petit Verdot? Do you have any memorable bottles?

Australia, Spain and [interestingly enough] Long Island, New York come to mind when I think of single-grape Petit Verdot bottlings. Some of the wines were just purely spectacular, like 2007 Jamesport Petit Verdot  from Long Island, or this 2007 Arrayán Petit Verdot from Spain.

I’m glad to report that we had a good participation in the quiz, and most importantly, we have a lot of winners! Patrick Kleiner (who has no web site), the drunken cyclist and Vino in Love are all correctly answered all 5 questions, so they are our ultimate winners and get unlimited bragging rights. Well done! I also want to mention Duff’s Wines and Eat with Namie as they both made only minor mistakes and got about 4.5 correctly out of 5, so they both get an honorable mention.

Now, to the interesting stuff around the web and the vine!

I don’t have much of the interesting reads for you today, so it is mostly various events announcements.

First, don’t forget that Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #4 (#MWWC4) is in its final hours  – it ends today, on October 23rd. The theme is “oops” – send your submission over to TheWineKat, and best to do it on Twitter with the hash tag #MWWC4.

Next, it appears that this coming Friday, October 25th, is a Global Champagne Day 2013 (I’m sure TheDrunkenCyclist is oozing with joy :- ) ). You have an option of finding a good place to celebrate in style, or just crack open whatever sparking goodness your heart desires, and celebrate the celebration drink!

While you still have time to get ready, don’t miss the International Tempranillo Day coming up on November 14th. There are plenty of Tempranillo events happening all over the country, and the good Tempranillo bottle is so easy to find nowadays, you have no excuse to miss this celebration.

Last but not least, at least for the local Connecticut foodies, Dishcrawl event is for South Norwalk (SoNo) will take place on November 20th. Based on my recent dining experiences in South Norwalk, this event shouldn’t be missed! For more details and to get your tickets, please visit Dishcrawl site.

That is all I have for you for today. The glass is empty – but refill is on the way. Until the next time – cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #78: Grape Trivia – Petit Verdot

October 19, 2013 20 comments
Petit Verdot, as shown in Wikipedia

Petit Verdot, as shown in Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, and we are back to the red grapes!  Today’s subject is Petit Verdot.

Origins of Petit Verdot are unknown, and according to one of the theories, the grape came to Bordeaux region in France with ancient Romans. Petit Verdot is a very tricky grape in the vineyard – its early budding makes it susceptive to the early spring dangers, such as frost. It’s very late ripening puts it in danger of the same frost and some of the diseases, At the same time, small berry with thick skin offers a lot of concentrated tannins and structure when it ripens properly.

This tricky behavior in the vineyard with tendency to underripe, results in Petit Verdot sometimes even not included in the final blend in Bordeaux wines. However, the grape behaves a lot more consistently in the warmer climates. Petit Vedot made it to Australia in 1800s, and it is successfully growing in most of the wine making countries around the world (Spain, Italy, US, Chile, Argentina, New Zealand), producing the best results in the warmer climates. in the US, it is growing in many regions across the country, from New York to Texas to California to Oregon. At its best, Petit Verdot produces dense, powerful, concentrated and age-worthy wines.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: Explain the meaning of the name Petit Verdot

Q2: Name four grapes, main blending partners of Petit Verdot in France

Q3: True or False: Australia’s plantings of Petit Verdot far exceed the plantings of Petit Verdot in France

Q4: While Petit Verdot is a difficult grape to work with, two events were major contributors to the demise of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux. Can you name those two events?

Q5: While it is not impossible to find a pure 100% Petit Verdot wines made in Bordeaux, those wines are rather the exceptions. What is the typical percentage of Petit Verdot in Bordeaux blends?

Bonus question: what was your personal encounter with Petit Verdot? Do you have any memorable bottles?

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!

Pleasant Surprises: Petit Verdot From Spain?!

April 11, 2011 Leave a comment

You might be as surprised as I was, walking into my local wine store (Cost Less Wines and Liquors, of course) an finding Petit Verdot from Jumilla region in Spain! Let me explain the “surprise” element. Petit Verdot is very rarely used as a single grape to produce a wine. To be more precise, it is primarily is blending grape, used in Bordeaux wines to fortify the structure. It is typically added in the 10% or less quantities. I have to note that in the past 5-10 years, the grape became more popular for single grape bottling, especially in the New World, places like Australia, Chile and United States. Actually, Petit Verdot from Jamesport vineyard on Long Island I tried last year was amazing ( you can read the post here), but it was equally priced at $100 per bottle. But again, this is new world, and Spain is really not in the New World when it comes to wine (fine, may be it is, depending on the region – but this should be a subject for another post).

Then comes another part of the surprise – Petit Verdot is really not a typical grape for Jumilla region. Typically, wines from Jumilla are made out of grape called Monastrell. A lot of Monastrell wines ( inexpensive, needless to say) have a grapey taste to them and many of them don’t belong to the group of “my favorites”. Of course, there are wines like El Nido by Bodegas El Nido (blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre, 97 rating by Robert Parker), which are totally different, but even those are rare for the area. Still, 100% Petit Verdot?

Please meet 2007 Nudo, Single Vineyard Petit Verdot from Jumilla DO, Spain. It is 100% Petit Verdot, aged for 6 month in French oak. Very balanced, beautiful fruit expression complemented by the notes of tobacco and hint of leather. It is not as concentrated as that Jamesport Petit Verdot was, but still very nice and pleasant wine to drink. At $12.99 – it is your great winning every day wine, hands down. Drinkability: 8-

Pleasant surprises are the best – as the wine world delivers better and better wines, be on a lookout for more great unusual wines from unusual places. Cheers!

Long Island Wineries Trip – Great Weather, Great Wines

October 11, 2010 3 comments

Talk about being lucky. Last year in October we had a great trip to Long Island wine country, enjoying great weather, 2 hours long lunch with good food, wine and company. We started planning second annual Long Island Wine Country getaway about 3 month ago – we set the weekend, but who can know about the weather? This is why I’m talking about being lucky. Beautiful weather – just look at the picture of the grapes (accidental leftover after the harvest), against beautiful blue sky… Immaculate.

And there we went. The plan was simple – visit 3 wineries, taste the wines and have  lunch with the wines we like. We started with the Lenz Winery, as it was far-most in our plan. Two things were interesting about Lenz Winery – they are well known for their Sparkling wines, and Lenz Merlot was compared with Petrus, one of the best regarded and equally expensive wines in the world (here is the link if you want to read more about Chateau Petrus, Bordeaux wine from Pomerol). The 2004 Sparkling Cuvee, made from 100% Pinot Noir, was nice, yeasty and balanced. Does it worth $30/bottle? Comparing to actual Champagne – may be, comparing with good California Sparkling wines like Chandon or Mumm, or Gruet from New Mexico – probably not. As for 2002 Old Vines Merlot, the one which should be compared with Petrus – I never had Petrus, so I’m not qualified to make any comparisons. I can only state that I didn’t like that Merlot at all.

The next stop was Jamesport winery. One of the driving forces behind our choice of wineries was a post in Wall Street Journal wine blog by Jay McInerney, where he was talking about tasting great Petit Verdot and other good wines at Jamesport and Paumanok wineries. Since we were planning to have lunch at Paumanok anyway, and Jamesport was around the corner, it was easy to decide that we want to taste the same wines.

I’m glad we stopped at the Jamesport. I chose Estate Series tasting flight out of many others available, and I can tell you that it was one of the very few experiences where I liked each and every wine in the flight. Reserve Chardonnay 2007, Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2007, Riesling 2009, Pinot Noir “Sarah’s Hill” 2007, Estate Merlot Block “E” 2005, Syrah MTK 2007 and Melange de Trois 2005 – all were  very good wines. One minor disappointment was the fact that Sauvignon Blanc 2009, highly regarded in the James McInerney’s article,  was sold out. As we were explained , 2009 was a difficult vintage, and only 350 cases of 2009 Jamesport Sauvignon Blanc were produced, so it is not surprising that it was sold out. But then I have to mention an absolute highlight of the trip. We decided to try Petit Verdot Reserve 2007 – at $100/bottle, the tasting of this wine costs $10 for 3 oz pour, but still, looking for the experience we decided to go ahead and try it. This was one of the best $10 spent on the wine ever – luscious, multi-layered fruit, amazing balance of tannins and acidity and great mid-palate density! Considering my rating system, this was definitely a 9 – and I wish I would have a budget to put a few bottles in my cellar – this wine will evolve amazingly over the next 10-15 years.

The next stop was Paumanok winery, where we finally had our lunch.

We didn’t do tasting flight there, as everybody were already quite hungry, instead we got a bottle of Rose, and bottle of Riesling, and Paumanok Cabernet Franc 2007. Unfortunately, we couldn’t escape our dose of disappointment here as well, as Paumanok Petit Verdot 2007 ($60), lauded the most in Jay McInerney’s article, was sold out! At least the Cabernet Franc 2007, also highly mentioned in the article, was available ( good value at $24.50). The Cab Franc was very nice, with refreshing tartness, layers of restrained fruits and medium body – it was simple and pleasant to drink.

The grapes are already harvested on Long Island, so the new vintage will be on the way.

The weather is still warm so you can enjoy yourself in the Long Island Wine Country. This year, or the next year, and many years after – the wines are only getting better. Get your friends together and go out and play…

Chrysalis Vineyards in Virginia – Definitely Worth a Trip

August 25, 2010 12 comments

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While traversing wine blogosphere, I came across a post about the book called “The Wild Vine” by Todd Kliman. This sparked my interest because of the two reasons – for one, it was talking about the grape called Norton, which was for a long time on my “to try” (of course partially due to the Wine Century Club and my Treble Journey). Another reason was that on the very first page the book was talking about Virginia, and Virginia already was set as my vacation destination for a coming week. To my full delight, Chrysalis Vineyards, located on Champe Ford Road in Middleburg, was the place where The Wild Vine book started, and it happened to be just around the corner of our intended destination in Virginia, which made visiting it very easy.

When visiting wineries in some “well developed” areas, like Napa Valley in California, you usually drive along a big road, simply making turns into short driveways. ChrisalisVineyards_reds Coming to Chrysalis Vineyards was pleasantly different – mile and a half on the narrow unpaved road, surrounded by luscious greens. Somehow you get this real rustic feeling, which sets you in the right mood for tasting the wines ( and probably affects the way wines taste, but I guess this will be a subject for another post :)).

There was a great line up of wines at the winery. There were simply no wines which I didn’t like (has something to do with the road and right mood, huh?), and all the wines were of a very good quality. The selection of grapes which are used at the winery also was very unusual – being accustomed to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah from the West coast, and then Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir from the North East, seeing Viognier, Petit Manseng, Albarino, Petit Verdot and Tannat (and of course Norton), was exciting.

The tasting included 12 wines, out of which 2009 Viognier (exceptionally perfumed and vibrant), 2005 Norton Estate Bottled (80% Norton with addition of Petit Verdot and other grapes, very balanced with silky tannins and long finish), 2005 Petit Verdot (80% Petit Verdot and 20% Tannat, very soft and round) and 2005 Norton Locksley Reserve (again, very balanced and soft) were really shining, I would rate them all at 7+ and 8 (Viognier definitely deserves an 8).

All in all, if you have a chance to visit Chrysalis Vineyards – don’t miss it, go discover the Real American Grape for yourself – and let me know your opinion!

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