Wines, Wines, Wines – Part 2

As promised, here is the second part of the Wines, Wines, Wines post. In the first part, we talked about great Riesling and Gewurzrtraminer wines, with some extra value wines and Prosecco. Let’s continue our “memorable wine extravaganza” with a couple of Chardonnays.


It is so interesting how things work in life. You might walk past say, a picture, every day, and never notice it. And then all of a sudden you say “what is it? Was it always here, or is it something new??”, and people around you look at you like you have two heads or something. Where am I going with this? Give me a minute, I will make my point.

Couple of month ago I got a bottle of Chardonnay, accompanied by the words “try it, it is pretty good”. I’m a sucker for good Chardonnay (yeah, true, you can substitute “Chardonnay” with any other varietal – I’m just a sucker for any good wine, but this can be a subject for a different post). But this Chardonnay was from New Zealand. And New Zealand in by book is the land of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir – but not really a Chardonnay. So I finally got the bottle opened and … wow.


Seresin Chardonnay

2008 Seresin Chardonnay Reserve Marlboro New Zealand (13.5% ABV, 11 month in oak).  The symbol of the hand on the label has a deep meaning. Quoting few words from Seresin Estate web site, “The hand is a symbol of strength, gateway to the heart, tiller of the soil, the mark of the artisan, and embodies the philosophy of Seresin Estate”. Here are my tasting notes for this wine: Outstanding, classic. Perfect nose of vanilla and white apples, just right. Very balanced fruit on the palate – hint of butter, vanilla, oak, good acidity – one of the most balanced Chardonnays ever. Drinkability: 8+

Oh yes, you are still waiting for me to connect to the opening sentence about passing by and not seeing things around for the long time, right? As of very recently, as I walked in the New Zealand isle in the store, I noticed all of a sudden that almost every producer now features Chardonnay in addition to Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. When did it happen, how long this was the case with New Zealand Chardonnays – I don’t have any idea, but based on this experience, I definitely want to try more.

Frédéric Gueguen Chablis

Frédéric Gueguen Chablis

2005 Frédéric Gueguen Chablis Les Grandes Vignes (13% ABV) – I don’t have a lot of experience with Chablis overall. I had a few bottles of Chablis here and there, but never was really impressed with it (I never had Chablis of a Grand Cru or even Premier Cru level). I don’t know what possessed me to get this wine from the Benchmark Wine Company, I guess it was in the right price range ( under $20), and somehow caught my attention. Then I read somewhere, that Chablis requires on average about 10 years of age in the bottle to really start transforming and going past the initial “steely acidity” flavor profile to get to the next level. And then I tried this Frédéric Gueguen wine – wow. Here are my tasting notes: some darker yellow color, but not quite golden yet. Amazing nose, reminiscent of Côte-Rôtie – almost a touch of sulfur (think freshly burnt matches), or even more of a smell of a hot piece of granite on a summer day, a “roasted rock”. Side note: pardon my naive definition here – I recently learned that professionals call it a “gunflint” – but I will not use this term as it doesn’t lead to any associations for me. Perfect complexity on the palate – white fruit, vanilla. Lots and lots of minerality. Full bodied and very balanced, excellent wine overall. Drinkability: 8+

Pinot Noir

And we are moving along to the Pinot Noir wines – both of the wines below were excellent:

Siduri Pinot Noir

Siduri Pinot Noir

2011 Siduri Pinot Noir Sonoma County (13.1% ABV) – perfectly clean California Pinot – good smokey nose, with a touch of red fruit aromas. Light cherries on the palate, hint of earthiness, medium body, perfect acidity, very clean and balanced. Drinkability: 8-

Carmel Road Pinot Noir

Carmel Road Pinot Noir

2008 Carmel Road Pinot Noir Monterey (14.0% ABV) – outstanding. Bright ruby color in the glass, raspberries and hint of smokiness on the nose. Raspberries, cranberries and cherries on the palate. Medium to full body. Excellent acidity, overall perfectly balanced. Drinkability: 8+

Cabernet Franc

I have only one wine for you here, but it was mind blowing.

Field Recordings Cabernet Franc

Field Recordings Cabernet Franc

2010 Field Recordings Three Creek Vineyard Cabernet Franc Santa Barbara (15.9% ABV, 90% Cabernet Franc, 10% Malbec, 18 month in French oak) – spectacular. If you read this blog on the regular basis, you know that I’m very impartial to the wines of Field Recordings – but this is not my fault, it is Andrew Jones’ fault ( Andrew Jones is the winemaker behind Field Recordings). This wine had beautiful garnet color in the glass. The nose was clean and open, withhint of black currant and other red fruit. The palate is stunning with black currant, cherries, touch of black pepper, dark chocolate, perfect acidity, soft and supple tannins, all in the format of full-bodied wine. Perfect balance of fruit, acidity, tannins and alcohol – which is pretty amazing at 15.9% ABV. Drinkability: 9

Last, but not least – Syrah

Villa Pillo

Villa Pillo Syrah

Appearance of the large amount of Italian Syrah wines is also somewhat of a revelation, similar to the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post. All of a sudden I start noticing that there are more Italian Syrah wines showing in the wine stores, and people are just talking more about them, in the blogs and otherwise.

2010 Villa Pillo Syrah Toscana IGT (14.5% ABV) – we got this wine when we visited Millbrook Winery in New York (this will be a subject of a separate post), as they are importing this and a number of other wines from Italy. Tasting notes: Dark garnet color in the glass. Nose of dark fruit and dark chocolate. Outstanding on the palate – hint of pepper, cherries, plums and raspberries, more dark chocolate. Full bodied, with the velvety texture weaved over firm structure. Drinkability: 8

Whew, we are done here! Enjoy the rest of your weekend and cheers!

  1. August 18, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    How I love Cabernet Franc, but at 15.9% were you not taken aback?

    • talkavino
      August 18, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      Quite honestly, I didn’t pay attention to the ABV until the bottle was empty… This wine was very harmonious in the glass, and the high level of alcohol was unnoticeable. In the end of the day, it is all about balance…

      • August 18, 2013 at 8:55 pm

        Harmony and balance- great attributes! I respect a winemaker that can hide those levels and keep it all in check

  2. August 19, 2013 at 8:29 am

    Almost 16% alcohol! I’ve had wines with 15% abv but like one said, it is all about balance, and the standard of 12% set by the old world wines doesn’t seem to work in the new world with warmer climate. I am still grunting about the lack of wine varieties I can get access to.

    • talkavino
      August 19, 2013 at 11:29 am

      yep, it is all about balance…

  3. August 20, 2013 at 12:53 am

    These sound like some great wines to look for, especially that mind-blowing cab franc.

    • talkavino
      August 20, 2013 at 9:04 am

      I never had a bad wine from Field Recordings – some I like more, and some I like less, but they are all great wines. Not sure if stores really carry them ( very small production) – but you can check what is available directly from their web site.

  4. August 20, 2013 at 4:28 am

    I would love it if some Field Recordings wines would make their way over to NZ!

    • talkavino
      August 20, 2013 at 9:11 am

      Well, that might be a bit challenging – their production is very small. Might be easier if you will come to US : ) But – you got plenty of great wines for yourself down under : )

  5. August 20, 2013 at 11:57 am

    What a great, eclectic selection of wines, Anatoli!
    I have had the Siduri and liked it too – I have one more bottle in the cellar waiting to be opened 🙂
    After all your reviews of Field Recordings wines, I am now eagerly awaiting my first batch of them that should come in October! 🙂 Having said that, wow, 16% VOL? We’re like in Sforzato or Amarone territory there! I would be interested in tasting it, maybe when the weather is a little cooler though! 😉
    Finally, you are right: Italian Syrahs are getting more popular (and more producers are getting into them) and some of them are quite good (for instance, I particularly like Planeta’s Maroccoli, which I will review later on).
    Take care!

    • talkavino
      August 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks, Stefano! True, 15.9% ABV is quite high, but it is a question of balance. Lots of those Amarone wines are clearly out of balance, just putting you off with that very first sniff of pure alcohol on the nose – in this Cab Franc, the alcohol is well integrated and completely unnoticeable.
      I never had Syrah from Planeta, so I’m looking forward to your review.

      • August 20, 2013 at 4:39 pm

        Oh I totally agree about the balance, and I am sure that the FR Cab Franc is totally balanced – I am seriously looking forward to trying the FR wines out. I was just impressed by the muscular ABV, but certainly not a bit scared by it! 😉 😉 😉

  1. December 29, 2013 at 9:21 am
  2. January 20, 2014 at 8:06 am
  3. December 27, 2015 at 1:21 pm

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