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Treble Journey: Calling All Clones, Grapes #269 – #272

October 16, 2010 4 comments

FloraSprings_SauvignonBlancClones 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 the 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 the 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 an 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…

Treble Journey: Caino Blanco and Sultanina, Grapes #267 and #268

October 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Well, my “secret” post will not be happening – I was hoping to attend a big tasting event and try wines from Staglin, one of the “cult” producers from California, but that didn’t work out, hence it is only a quick update on a progress of a Treble Journey.

Two new grapes – one of them is called Caino Blanco, and it is an indigenous grape from Spain which is sometimes is blended with Spanish great white grape called Albariño. Albariño makes very nice white wines, with good acidity and fresh citrus notes on the palate, perfect for a summer day and a wide variety of food. This Do Zoe Albariño 2009 from Rias Baixas in Spain is a blend of 5 different grapes and it is no exception in the “nice wines” group.

Another wine is white wine coming from the CottonWood Creek Cellars in California. CottonWood Creek Cellars White Table Wine 2009 is 100% certified organic wine, made from the blend of 3 different organic grapes – Sultanina (59%), French Colombard (34%) and Muscat (7%). It was a very interesting wine, delivering different expressions at a different temperature, and it was even more interesting at room temperature, delivering fresh grapes aromas with good depth.

All in all, I’m advancing further towards the goal, and have a good chance to cross soon into “last 30”.

Until the next time – cheers!

Treble Journey: Two Rosé Closer to the Goal, Grapes #264 – #266

September 17, 2010 Leave a comment

While I’m trying to avoid repeating the same category, I guess the desire to reach the coveted 300 grape varieties (honestly – sometimes I really wonder why…) is forcing my daily glass choices… So here is a quick report on two new varieties (well, actually 3, but more details are down below) – Freisa and Rufete.

Freisa – Monferrato Chiaretto Berro Rosato Pico Maccario 2009. Nice clean Rose, with aromas of the fresh fruit, strawberries and slightly under-ripe  plums and refreshing acidity. Very nice wine, I would rate it at 7+.

Rufete – Gazela Rose N/V, Portugal. Interesting wine (you can see my true meaning of “interesting” here). This wine doesn’t have much going, except slight effervescence and nice pink color. But at least it is +1 grape.

From time to time we make some unexpected ( and pleasant ) discoveries. While looking through the list of the wine grapes on Wikipedia in a search of “what else can I reasonably find in order to get to 300 grapes”, I noticed the grape with then name I never heard of (of course it was not the only one, but nevertheless) – the grape called Alexandrouli. It appears that this grape is used to produce a Georgian semi-sweet wine called Khvanchkara, which I had before a number of times. End result – one additional grape to the list

Alexandruli – Khvanchkara, Georgia

Whatever it is to this Treble Journey, but now I’m getting questions and advises – how about this grape, and what about that grape – and I really appreciate all the help! If anyone got any suggestions about finding wines with unique grapes – that would be simply great! 34 more to go – come on, people!

Treble Journey: Definitely Not Enough Of A Good Thing, Grapes #248 – #263

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment

For those who is just joining us and for those who forgot: if you wonder what this mysterious journey is, please take a look at this post. As I was wondering in my last post if there can be too many wines in the tasting, I’m continuing here with the update on the progress of the “treble journey”, inching on the ultimate destination point – 300 different grapes. Well, if tasting of the new grape can be defined as  “inching”, or in other words, moving forward by an inch, then as a result of the last wine tasting I made more than a foot of the progress – 16 different grapes in one day. Considering that we are talking about that many grapes, I will simply list grapes and wines without providing much of the detailed notes or ratings (besides, with some of the wines, I will be very happy to never try them again…). Here is the list:

Ansonica – Donnafugata Anthilia White 2008, Sicily

Bovale Sardo – Serralori Rosato IGT 2009, Italy

Drupeggio – Palazzone Orvieto 2009, Italy

Frapatto, Nerello Capuccio – Dievole Fourplay Rosso 2007, Italy

Mantonico – Efeso Bianco IGT 2005, Italy

Moristel = Marbore 2003, Spain

Moscato Reale – Apianae 2007, Italy

Muscardin, Terret, Vaccarese – Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf duPape Boisrenard Red 2007, France

Muscat de Frontignan – Klein Constantia Vin de Constance 2005, South Africa

Nuragus – Selegas DOC 2009, Italy

Rabo de Ovelha – Loios White 2009, Portugal

Roscetto – Ferentano Bianco Lazio IGT 2007

Scheurebe – Joseph Phelps Eisrebe 2005, California

So while it is great to add a big number of new grapes, each additional grape makes the “journey” more and more difficult, as now you need to search far and wide in order to find the new grape. But – this search and anticipation are big part of the process, so lets enjoy it.

To sum up – there are still 38 more grapes to go… Unique grape suggestions, anyone?

Treble Journey: Aligote and Brachetto, Grapes #246 and #247

September 6, 2010 Leave a comment

This is a quick update on progress of the Treble Journey. Two more grapes added to the list, both somewhat basic but quite rare in terms of ease of finding them. The first one was Aligote, the grape from Burgundy in France, where it is usually used as a blending grape. It is also quite popular in Eastern European countries where it used more by itself. The wine I had, Clos de la Combe Bourgogne Aligote by Domain Jean Chartron, was very nice with the nose and palate of fresh fig and pear, very round and balanced, with good acidity. I would honestly say that this was somewhat of an unexpected surprise – but nice surprises are always good, don’t they? I would rate this wine as 7+ and would definitely try it again.

The second wine, Rosa Regale Brachetto di Acqui DOCG made by venerable Italian producer, Castello Banfi. This is a sweet ( dolce) sparkling wine, which to me was a bit heavy while lacking the acidity. Did not really appreciate this wine by itself, but have to admit it was very good with dessert. I will give it a rating of 6+ in my corner of the world.

Believe it or not, this is it for this post – as I said, this is just a quick report, nothing more, nothing less – it is two up, 53 more to go…

Daily Glass Meets Treble Journey: Norton, The Real American Grape, or #245

August 30, 2010 6 comments

As I mentioned in my previous post, grape called Norton was on my “to try” list for the long time ( ever since I started with The Wine Century club). Finally, during my visit to Chrysalis Vineyards, I got an opportunity to try it in the different versions (Estate 2005, Estate 2006, Locksley Reserve 2005 and Sarah’s Patio Red, a semi-sweet wine). As I also shared the bottle with friends, I decided that it would be appropriate to share this post between daily glass and treble journey.

Talking about whole line of Norton wines I happened to try during the tasting, they were all good wines, or to use the previously given definitions, they were all “pleasant” wines. Not to say that I’m very judgmental,  but this would not be my average experience of visiting the wineries. So I’m happy to repeat that I was pleasantly surprised. Now, looking at all those Norton wines, I have to say that while Norton Locksley Reserve 2005 is designated “best” by the winery (if price, $35, is any indicator), and excluding Sarah’s Patio Red, as semi-sweet wine to me is a “special occasion” wine, my favorite was Norton Estate 2005 ($19).

This Norton Estate 2005 wine was very round and supple, with good amount of red fruit, like blackberries, and hint of spicy cedar notes. Soft tannins, fruit and acidity are well balanced, and finish is lingering for a very long time.

Drinkability: 8-

My only wish at this point is that the rest of the 55 grapes I still need to get through in my Treble journey would be as good as the grape #245 – Norton, The Real American Grape.

What The Heck Is Treble and Where This Journey Is Going?

August 18, 2010 13 comments

I think it is time to explain mysterious “treble journey” posts, before I will be fully declared “boring crazy wine geek”. Starting from the beginning: about 3 years ago I came across something called Wine Century club. At first I couldn’t even figure out what the name means, and then finally I realized that this is a club for people who declare (completely honor-based) that they have try at least 100 different grapes. At that point, I was into wines already for a while, and due to the fact that I do my best to keep the labels from all the different wines I happened to taste, this task appeared to be somewhat simple. By the end of 2008, I was a proud owner of Wine Century Club certificate. Then in May of 2009, when the club was celebrating it’s 4th year, I found out that there is a new challenge level – doppel. In order to become a doppel member one have to try … you guessed it right – 200 different varieties of the grapes! This was substantially bigger challenge – but challenges make our lives fun, don’t they? And there I went, and mysterious “doppel journey” notes where coming out on twitter for a while (2009 for me was an active twitting year 🙂 ). While challenging, the mission was accomplished, and I received my next certificate, which I believe was proclaiming doppel members somewhat crazy… Anyway, I was convinced that I’m done with those “journeys” – until another anniversary celebration… yep, in 2010, I found out that club now has 3 “treble” members ( and even one quattro, but that deserves another post, I believe). So yes, a 300 grapes challenge – I just couldn’t resist the urge…. So now you have to keep up with those “treble journey” updates ( even though I do make an honest effort to do them in the fun way)…

Why “journey”? This is how I see it – I’m moving along in the world of wine, looking for something new all the time, looking for any obscure place in search of the most obscure grape – I think calling this process a journey is well justified. Also, it is a real journey, as I’m not doing it alone. Wine is meant for sharing (my honest opinion) so I always make an effort to take my friends along in such a travel – remember, I did mention the fun part already?!

What else makes it fun? I get a chance to work as a detective, to unravel the mystery. Come again, you say? Well, let me explain. A lot of wine labels don’t contain any information about the grapes the wine is made of. For some of the wines such information is easy to find on the web sites. For some of the wines, it is a real challenge – you need to find a web site which is not necessarily in English, find the right wine, and then there is a decent chance that you will find the names of the grapes. You think mission accomplished? Not so fast… Problem is that a lot o grapes have different names in different regions, but it really is the same grape! Of course it is easy to figure out when french grape Grenache is called Garnacha in Spain. But what do you think of Aragonez, Cencibel, Tinta Roriz and Toro? Yep, all are synonyms for Tempranillo, the most planted red grape in the world – therefore, as you can see, there is some fun work to do in order to get to the final destination.

Obviously one can spend a lot of time and  effort on this  (and don’t forget money!), but I think that end result is ultimately rewarding, as with any true passion. I hope my explanation make sense, and now you will be able to ignore the geek portion, and see the fun side instead – and again I promise to make an effort to bring out the fun.

And until the next treble grape comes along – cheers!

Treble Journey: New and Unusual Grapes, #242 – #244

August 16, 2010 Leave a comment

And once again this will be rather a progress report on the road to the Treble status at Wine Century Club. Three new grapes, three unusual names (well, yeah, it would be surprising to see grape #242 being called Merlot).

#242, Seyval Noir

Domaine Du Ridge Champs de Florence 2008, Quebec, Canada

As I routinely check the grapes for the wines I drink, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this Rose wine was made out of the grape called Seyval Noir. I know Seyval Blanc, which is a popular grape choice for the white wines in the eastern part of US, but Seyval Noir is a new one. The wine, Champs de Florence from Domaine du Ridge is a nice rose wine, with aromas of fresh strawberries ( quite typical for rose), medium body and good refreshing acidity.

Drinkability: 7-

#243, Heida

Bibacchus Heida 2009, Valais AOC, Switzerland

Every time I’m lucky enough to come across the wine from Switzerland, I regret that it is almost impossible to find them in US – both traditional ( Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay) and indigenous grapes (Gamaret, Diolinoir, Humagne…) produce very good results there – but the wines are literally unknown outside of Switzerland. This particular white wine is made out of the grape called Heida. I would like to note that every “unknown” grape forces me to do quite a bit of research (and it deserves a separate post) – and based on information available on internet,  Heida is a close relative of another grape coming from Jura in France and called Savagnin – however, the information is not strong enough to declare Heida and Savagnin to be identical, so please let me consider Heida a grape on its own for now.

Going back to wine, it has very pleasant nose with aromas of white peaches and hints of white flowers, medium body and nice rounding  acidity, all in all making it great wine for summer day. Interesting to note that wine didn’t have enough aromatics to stand up against Asian food, but should work better with mild cheeses ( well, I wish I had another bottle to try it with 🙂 ).

Drinkability: 7

#244, Raboso Piave

Vigna Dogarina Ros de Plana 2004, Veneto IGT, Italy

This wine comes from Vigna Dogarina winery in Veneto region in northern Italy. Veneto is well known for its traditional Valpolicella, Amarone and Bardolino wines, though grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot also produce very good results. Ros de Plana is a very good example of that – this blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Raboso Piave is unmistakably Italian wine – dense and earthy on the palate, somewhat of a middle ground between Barolo and Brunello, two of very famous and powerful Italian wines, it opens into a very nice and balanced wine, with spicy oak, walnuts and sour cherries and great midpalate density. This balanced wine will also continue to age very nicely. Just to comment on what seems to be a wine-geek talk, “midpalate density” (essentially the feeling of the liquid weight in your mouth) is a term I recently learned in the article by one of my favorite wine writers, Matt Kramer, regular contributor to the  Wine Spectator magazine. Matt Kramer uses midpalate density as a main factor in determining age-worthiness of the wine. One more comment on a comment – to open an article from the link above you might need a subscription to the Wine Spectator online (if you like wine – this is one of the best investments you can make). Anyway, talking about Ros de Plana – here is the rating:

Drinkability: 8-

I just hope that I didn’t overwhelm my readers with the wine speak and geek – and if I did – please feel free to slap me…

Wine Century Club Treble Journey – Xynomavro, Grape #241

August 6, 2010 2 comments

I would be nice if I can open this post with  “this is a quick update on the progress”, but such a statement would be strange, as I don’t believe anyone asked for my updates. Therefore, this is a “memory knot” post for myself, just to be able to look back one day and see the path to Treble status in The Wine Century Club. (you can read more about Treble “journey” in my previous post ).

So the grape called Xynomavro happened to become number 241 on my list. The wine Boutari Naoussa 2006 was made from 100% Xynomavro. This grape is described as one of Greek’s best in terms of firm tannins and aging potential. Unfortunately, the Boutari Naoussa 2006 was not the best representation of the grape, with tannins being somewhat off and having isolated taste on a side of the mouth, and the rest of the wine being not very impressive grape juice.

If anyone wonders about the rating, you can imagine it will not be too high…

Drinkability: 6-

In general, I think it would be safe to state that we drink wine because it gives us pleasure (I’m absolutely NOT talking about being “drunk and happy”) – and it should be a pleasure of taste, pleasure of flavor sensation unfolding in your mouth. So when the wine doesn’t taste good, it is really a disappointment (of course nobody is talking about pain). However, when you have an additional purpose, not just a sensual pleasure, it changes the perspective – when trying to reach a next level in The Wine Century Club, even the wine which doesn’t taste great still gives you a pleasure of inching towards your goal. Having realize that, I’m feeling better already!

Let’s go to Treble!

Cheers!

Wine Century Club – Journey continues

July 20, 2010 7 comments

And I’m doing this again… Few years ago I got hooked on the interesting challenge – to try 100 different grapes and become a member of The Wine Century Club. This was relatively simple task, as I already had quite a few glasses behind me 🙂 Then in the spring of 2009 I learned that there is next membership level, “doppel”, which requires (I’m sure you guessed it) one to try 200 grapes. This was more challenging and it did require quite a bit of focus, especially trying to do this on the budget – this is where various wine tastings in the stores and at the events were of big help. Eventually I reached my destination, and just when I decided that it is the time to rest on laurels, I learned of a new challenge! The new level, called “treble” is now the new goal. If reaching 200 was not easy, 300 is much less of an easy target.

I’m glad to reach today grape number 240 – this grape is called Uva di Troia, and I had it in a bottle of nice Italian red wine called Rosso Giancarlo Ceci, 2007, from Castel Del Monte DOC. The wine was soft, simple and heart-warming, with great amount of black cherries on the palate and nice balancing acidity.

Well, 240 are in, and 60 more to go. When you go somewhere, it is greatly helps to have a map and see how can you get from point A to point B. Trouble is – in this “treble journey”, only half of the map is visible, and another half is under a dense fog. I definitely know about next 7 grapes I will try ( simply because the wines are already in the cellar), and I know about 30 other grapes which somehow should be possible to find. Which leaves me 23 short…

But – long live challenge! Let’s find the way to treble – and I will keep you posted on this journey. Until the next time – cheers!

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