A few month ago I got an email from Trione winery offering me a gift. Not just any gift – wine. Free wine. Words “free” and “wine” put together sound almost magical for the anyone who drinks wine daily (I refuse to take the calculator out – don’t ask). But the word “free” in the email usually means danger. After careful consideration, and actually looking at the winery web site, I decided that it was not a scam or phishing attempt, so I answered that I would be happy to get a free wine. The only caveat in the follow up response was that they can only ship wine to the limited number of states. Connecticut not included (of course). But New York was. And so my friend Emil became a recipient for the wine.
When Emil called me that he got the wine, he mentioned that the box looks very small. Well, okay – it is what it is – free wine, whatever the package is. And then some time later, the package made it to my house. A small black box, probably half of the shoebox in size. But there was actually wine inside. And this is how it looked like:
Trione Winery, which I never heard of before, is a new venture of Trione family who was growing grapes in Sonoma for 35 years. Here is what you can read on the front page of their web site:
“For over three decades, the Trione family has raised premium grapes that have been the foundation of many award-winning wines. Now we bring our grapes to you in wines bottled under our own label, Trione Vineyards & Winery. It is the culmination of our family’s long commitment to Sonoma County.”
Here are few more views for you (just trying to build up the anticipation here):
Another interesting detail – it appears that this tasting set consisting of the tiny bottles is actually a concept called Tasting Room. While web site provide literally no information, the card enclosed with the package explained the concept:
The wines are bottled in the small bottles using special technology which preserves all specifics of the wine, so it is exact same wine which will go into the regular bottles. The only exception – the wine in small bottles is not intended for aging (as you can imagine), so as the card says – drink up!
And with this, let me share my tasting notes. Well, not only mine – in majority of the cases we drink wine together with my wife, especially when we are looking at the interesting and unusual experience – so I’m including her tasting notes too.
2010 Trione Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc (14% ABV) – “Pear Grove” my wife said. Some fresh grass on the nose with a bit of grapefruit, but mostly earthy and herbaceous, Earthy and herbaceous on the palate as well, lots of residual acidity, but not “in-your-face”. Food friendly. Interesting. Drinkability: 7+
2010 Trione Russian River Valley Chardonnay(14.3% ABV) – nice butter on the nose, vanilla. Nose is very promising, but palate is not good, very acidic, no fruit, kind of flat. I’m sure it needs time or at least different serving temperature, therefore it is not rated.
2008 Trione Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (14.2% ABV) – Nice nose of dark fruit, tobacco, touch of roasted meat flavor. Nice palate of dark fruit, raspberries, plums, tobacco, pencil and sage undertones. Good palate, good balance. Very good overall. Drinkability: 8-
2008 Trione Russian River Valley Syrah (14.8% ABV) – Wow color – very dark, intense, almost black. My wife’s notes were “oh, this is good” , “great potential”, “very promising” (disclaimer – my wife loves Syrah, probably her favorite wines). Dark roasted fruit, silky smooth, perfect balance, perfect acidity, cherries, earthy notes. Definitely very promising. Very good overall. Drinkability: 8-
2007 Trione Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (14.5% ABV) – absolutely beautiful nose – perfectly classic, with mint and blackcurrant – textbook flavors. Coffee showed up later on the nose. Wife’s notes: “overpowering , but very yummy”. Big, powerful, silky smooth, noticeable tannins – but excellent balance. Touch over-extracted on the palate, but only in terms of power, not sweetness. Needs time. Drinkability: 8
2007 Trione Alexander Valley Red Wine (14.5% ABV) – Dark chocolate, coffee, blackberries on the palate, nice complexity. Beautiful, round and open fruit. Needs time. Drinkability: 8-
As you can see, it was a very enjoyable experience (it’s too bad that the bottles were that small) – next time you see Trione wine in the store, don’t just stand there, grab a bottle…
That concludes my special tasting report, folks. Until the next time (hopefully someone will send me good and free wine soon) – cheers!
Disclaimer: the wine was provided by Trione Vineyards and Winery free of charge. All opinions are my own.
I don’t have much news for you for today – but let me at least give you the answers for the Wine Quiz #31 – A Guessing Game, Ultimate Challenge. In that quiz, you were supposed to match 5 white wine grapes with the 5 reviews. I have to admit – I was not very inventive, and most of the wines I referred to were from France. But it also seems that I got it over the top, as there was only one answer to that quiz – come on, people – this is only a game, there are absolutely no bad consequences, whether you answer it right or wrong! I sure hope to see more answers for the second part of the Ultimate Challenge, which will be about red wines. So the right answers are: A2, B3, C1, D5, E4. Here are the wines and reviews for you:
“An enticing, lemony white that is both aromatic and rich on the palate. Apple and mineral notes combine with the lemon flavors that glide to a lingering finish” – Domaine Michel & Fils Mâcon-Villages à Clessé 2011, WS90
“This has weight and depth but remains stylish, with ginger and glazed pear notes in reserve while persimmon, green almond and piecrust notes lead the way. Lovely cut on the finish keeps the ginger edge echoing. Should develop nicely in the cellar” - Guy Saget Vouvray Marie de Beauregard 2010, WS92
“Gently kissed with toast, giving the core of white peach, lemon and chamomile a broader frame of lightly toasted brioche and paraffin. A suave echo of flint chimes through the finish in this lovely rendering of the toasty style” – Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Étienne Henri 2009, WS93
“Intensely minerally and smoky, with a blanket of acidity behind the apple, sea salt and anise flavors. The long finish is bracing and powerful” – Andre & Mireille Tissot Arbois Vin Jaune 2000, WS90
“Extremely rich and generous, with ripe, opulent peach, nectarine, apricot and tangerine flavors that are woven together on a full, lush body with smoke, spice, cedar and mineral details and a juicy acidity.” – DuMol Viognier Russian River Valley Lia 2007, WS93
As you can see, first four wines were from France, and the last one was from California. I will try to offer a higher geographic variety with the red wines quiz.
Going for the interesting news, I found one article from Dr. Vino which I wanted to share with you – it is about use of the music in the vineyard – what do you think, can the music affect the vines and lead to better (or worse) wines?
In a kind of “local news” update, I’m in Texas this week, where I will attend the GUSTO Tastings event, called “Texas versus the World”. GUSTO Tastings (which is effectively a meetup group) runs a lot of very interesting wine events here in Austin (lucky for you, people of Austin), and every first Wednesday of the month they conduct a special event where they compare Texas wines with the wines from other regions and countries. Today’s event will be all about Viognier, and I’m definitely looking forward attending it (and meeting fellow wine blogger @SAHMMelier, who told me about this event) – for all of you who will not be able to attend it, I promise the blog post with all of the details.
That’s all for today’s Meritage – enjoy your Wednesday, folks, and make sure there will be wine in your glass (definitely will be in mine). Cheers!
To finish off the wine reviews quiz series, today we are following the steps of the previous two wine quizzes (#29 and #30), only now going to the next level: you will need to match 5 reviews and 5 wines. Actually, that “finishing off” will separate into two separate quizzes – one for white wines and one for reds.
Here are your grape choices:
B. Chenin Blanc
C. Sauvignon Blanc
Here are the reviews. Just to make it a bit easier, note that all the reviews are for single-grape wines.
1. “Gently kissed with toast, giving the core of white peach, lemon and chamomile a broader frame of lightly toasted brioche and paraffin. A suave echo of flint chimes through the finish in this lovely rendering of the toasty style.”
2. “An enticing, lemony white that is both aromatic and rich on the palate. Apple and mineral notes combine with the lemon flavors that glide to a lingering finish”
3. “This has weight and depth but remains stylish, with ginger and glazed pear notes in reserve while persimmon, green almond and piecrust notes lead the way. Lovely cut on the finish keeps the ginger edge echoing. Should develop nicely in the cellar”
4. “Extremely rich and generous, with ripe, opulent peach, nectarine, apricot and tangerine flavors that are woven together on a full, lush body with smoke, spice, cedar and mineral details and a juicy acidity.”
5. “Intensely minerally and smoky, with a blanket of acidity behind the apple, sea salt and anise flavors. The long finish is bracing and powerful.”
Please provide the answers in the form of A1, B2 etc. Bonus question – provide country of origin for each grape/review combination. Double bonus – in addition to country, provide more precise appellation, like Finger Lakes, Oregon, etc (doesn’t have be exact, but it should be more narrow that the whole country).
Have fun, good luck and have a great weekend! Cheers!
I’m not complaining – complaining is futile, as things always can be worse than they are. I’m just stating – this is not my kind of weather. I don’t like it. I don’t like this stuffed hot air, so dense that it can be cut with the knife.
Don’t think cutting air with knife would be very effective. I guess there are better tools for making that hot stuffy air less noticeable. One of the best ones I know is acidity. No, I don’t mean rubbing myself all over with the slice of lemon, or drinking copious amounts of the lime juice. Of course I’m slowly nudging towards the main subject of this blog – wine. And one of the wines which possesses this refreshing, “hot-air-cutting” acidity is Muscadet from Loire.
Turns out that yesterday was an [International] Sauvignon Blanc Day, as I learned from the post on Bottle Notes. I wouldn’t call this quite “International” yet – it was originated in 2009 by St. Supéry winery in California, to celebrate one of the main wine-making grapes in the world, Sauvignon Blanc. While St. Supéry run the whole program of seminars and tastings on June 24th, all dedicated to Sauvignon Blanc, this was also a social media event which anyone could join in using Twitter or any other social media outlets.
Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape used in many regions throughout the world. With all due respect to California, I would like to first mention Loire Valley in France, which brings us Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé wines. French Sauvignon Blanc wines typically very dry, with pronounced herbaceous flavors and expressive minerality. The same Sauvignon Blanc grape takes on totally different expression in New Zealand and Chile – very bright, zinging acidity, lots of fresh citrus flavors and some hint of fresh cut grass. Then comes California with yet another take on the popular grape – California Sauvignon Blanc typically much fuller bodied than their counterparts from France or New Zealand, much fruitier and with lesser acidity.
I talked about Sauvignon Blanc wines already a few times on this blog (you can find those posts here and here). This time, I want to talk about some special (and totally unexpected) experience with California Sauvignon Blanc. In general, Sauvignon Blanc wines are not expected to age. They are typically consumed young, may be within 3-4 years of age. When we opened a bottle of 2000 Flora Springs Soliloquy from Napa Valley, a Sauvignon Blanc wine, we didn’t have much [good] expectations – it was more of an experiment – hey, let’s see if this is even drinkable. To our complete surprise, this wine was perfect! Yes, it showed signs of maturity, definitely in the dense dark yellow color of aged white wine, but otherwise, it was fresh, complex, with lots of white fruit and hint of earthiness on the palate, good acidity. 2009 Soliloquy was one of my favorite wines of last year, it was number 9 in my 2010 Top Dozen list, but still I didn’t expect that 11 years old Sauvignon Blanc will taste so good. Drinkability: 8+.
Sauvignon Blanc is perfect summer wine. You really don’t need to wait for 11 years to enjoy it – and even that we are already past Sauvignon Blanc Day, go get a bottle today and toast summer day and great discoveries. Cheers!
Last Friday we attended “Around The World in 80 Sips” wine tasting event in New York City, organized by Bottlenotes. The idea of the event is to present wines from all over the world, from such wine stalwarts like France, Italy and Australia to literally unknown wine producing countries such as Lebanon. There were more than 100 wines presented in the event, which was not free ($75 standard ticket price, we paid $50, courtesy of The Austrian Wines).
Overall, I found the event somewhat challenging to enjoy. No, nothing wrong with the wines – there were a number of very good wines to taste. My first issue was really (I mean, really) loud music. There was not possible to talk face to face, never mind listening to the explanations about wines. The second issue was the sheer crowd. I really like wine tastings, big and small – if I only have a chance, I attend them as much as possible – wine tastings are the best places to learn and experience. I’ve being to all kinds of events – trade only and consumers, with thousands of wines present and with the handful of wines. I never being to the event where you have to stand for 10 minutes, not even in the line, but with your arm with the glass fully extended through the crowd, in the hope that wine will make it into your glass – mind you, we are not talking about tasting Petrus or Screaming Eagle here.
Leaving all the inconveniences aside, there were a number of good wines from those I was able to reach. Particularly, there were a number of interesting wines from Austria. This is where I managed to pick up grape #277, Rotgipfler, with the wine called Stadlmann Rotgipfler Tagelstiner 2008. My particlar favorite here was Fritsch Pinot Noir 2004, which had finesse and elegance of the classic Pinot, with more pronounced earthiness, typical for Austrian wines. It is interesting to note that we went through 3 bottles to really get the beauty of this wine showing – first was so so for some reason, second one corked but the third one was shining.
My overall tasting favorites were a couple of wines from New Zealand. First, a Pinot Noir 2007 from Palliser Estate in Martinborough. There were a number of good Pinot Noir wines from New Zealand, both from Martinborough and Central Orago, from 2007 and 2008 vintages. This particular Palliser Estate Pinot Noir had the most elegance out of the group, with classic Pinot smoky nose and restrained fruitiness of the New World wine.
The other two of my favorites where two white wines from New Zealand, one of them being total surprise. First was Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from the same Palliser Estate. I have to honestly admit that I have a weakness towards New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs – I enjoy them very much. The Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc had more of everything – not that it was a fruit bomb, no, simply the fruit was a lot more pronounced, such as in-your-face-gooseberry. I would put Drinkability of this wine at 8+.
And the surprise came in the form of Riesling from New Zealand. Why the surprise? First, I never had before a Riesling from New Zealand. Second, based on the experience with neighboring Australian Rieslings, which I find too dry and not pleasant, my expectations were quite low. And the surprise was in the fact that this particular East Coast Riesling from Giesen was actually tasting like … German Riesling, only done more in the fruit forward style (not sweet at all, the Kabinett level), very nice and pleasant.
To conclude: am I grateful for the experience I had? Of course. Wine tastings are always fun. Will I attend another Bottlenotes event? As of right now – I don’t think so, but hey, you never know…
Clones are looked at somewhat skeptical when it comes to wines – simply because in some cases, the origin of the grape is not easy to establish, and then all sorts of claims can be associated with particular characteristics of the grape. Well, when you on the hunch to get to the Treble level, even the clones will help – especially if they are certified by UC Davis.
This Flora Springs Sauvignon Blanc is a blend of two clones of Sauvignon Blanc: Soliloquy Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Musqué clone. It is a beautiful wine, combining finesse, the grassiness of traditional Sancerre and fruit-forward style of California wines, perfectly balanced. This is one of the very few California Sauvignon Blanc wines which I actually enjoy, as in general my preferences are on Loire and New Zealand style Sauvignon Blanc. I will put drinkability rating on this wine as 8+, and these are the two new grapes.
Then come two more wines, which are adding two more grapes, both grapes being in the main Wine Century Club application table from the beginning. One is Petite Arvine, a grape from Switzerland, which is hard to find in US. I got the wine directly from Switzerland with the help of my friend Patrick, and it was 2009 Valiciana Petite Arvine du Valais – simple and herbaceous, working well as aperitif.
And the last grape for this update was Garnacha Peluda, also known as Ladoner Pelut, or Grey Grenache. And even as Wikipedia simply lists all of the clones of Grenache as one and the same grape, as we are counting clones, this is perfectly suitable grape to be counted by itself. It was a part of the blend in wine called 2007 Sexto Terra Alta from Spain – an interesting wine with some dark fruit notes showing up after the wine breathes for a while – it would be an interesting wine to try in 3-4 years.
That’s all for now – and more to follow, as the wine adventures never stop…
And again I have to thank Stew Leonard’s Wines folks for a free education session. This Friday and Saturday (October 1st and 2nd) you can try three different wines from the Cakebread Cellars. Cakebread cellars is a well regarded producer from Napa Valley in California, so I definitely was interested in experiencing their wines.
Two whites and one red were presented, all classical wines from Napa Valley – Sauvignon Blanc 2008, Chardonnay 2009 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, and I tasted them in this exact order. Just to share an overall expression – there are good wines, but I didn’t like them, especially taking into account QPR (Quality Price Ratio), a very popular metric used nowadays among wine aficionados. Sauvignon Blanc has a very nice nose, but on the palate it lacks the acidity, and while it finishes with the fresh cut grass (classic Sauvignon Blanc characteristic), the sensation is too warm and a bit burning. Considering this wine retails for $29.99, I would gladly take any time New Zealanad Sauvignon Blanc instead at $10 to $15 a bottle.
Chardonnay simply didn’t do anything for me. It is very young, somewhat of a Chablis style, but it was missing steely acidity of Chablis. I understand it is 2009, and it might need more time to evolve, but at $39.99 there are so many more better choices, I wouldn’t even go there.
And then the Cabernet Sauvignon, the king of Napa Valley wines – beautiful nose of classic cab, but no mid-palate weight and in general, not enough substance on the palate. At $74, it is really not a player – if not under $20, in the $30 – $40 category there are soooo many better choices…
To conclude, these Cakebread wines are definitely worth trying – and learning. I also have to tell you ( but it is a secret), that tomorrow I plan to try some very interesting wines – and I promise to report on that later on!