The process of selecting of the bottle to open sometimes can be very daunting – may be this? But I just had it few days ago. Than that? Well, today is not special enough day? Then what about that one? Nope, doesn’t feel right. In the end of the day (not literally), you just bite the bullet and say “this is it”. So the end result of my nerve wrecking selection process today was a bottle of … California Gamay from Field Recordings.
Now, class, who had the opportunity to taste California Gamay – raise your hands. Yep, I thought so. It is not that often that you hear about California Gamay. It is not even too often that you hear about Gamay been grown anywhere in US. Beaujolais? Of course, Gamay is one and only. Loire? Sure, also quite popular. Switzerland? Lesser known outside of Switzerland, but still – yes, it does quite well there. But California?
Well, so as they say, there is a first time for everything. Today was my first time to taste the California Gamay. 2013 Field Recordings Gamay Noir Rancho Real Vineyard Santa Maria Valley, California (13.9% ABV, 100% Gamay Noir, 6 month in Neutral Puncheons, 50% carbonic, 50% destemmed, 140 cases, Bottled: 04.19.2014) – very interesting. The nose was reminiscent of the Beaujolais Nouveau, but with the fruit being more mature and restrained, not as grapey. Very delicious and pronounced, similar to all other Field Recordings wines I had so far. And the palate… The palate was puzzling. It had a lot of fresh, ripe raspberries, good acidity and good balance, but there was something else which took me a while to figure out. And then it came down to me – the wine was still coming together. It was very similar to the Chenin Blanc which I had directly from the tank at the winery. Fermentation or not (I’m not a winemaker, so I can’t tell you exactly what it is, I can only describe to the best of my abilities), but this wine still needed time. This is why I highlighted above the date when the wine was bottled – so I was having the wine which was bottled only a bit more than a month ago – and it was noticeable. The wine was not bad by all means – but it would be very interesting to know, how would it taste when it would finally come together as a whole. Note to self – for the young wines, try to read the labels before, not after. Anyway, it was an interesting experience, and I will have to go with Drinkability of 7+, as the wine was still pleasant. Oh yes, of course it was my one and only bottle.
Have you had California Gamay before, or any US Gamay for that matter? What do you think? Also, have you had the wine which wwas not done yet? Comment away and cheers!
Disclaimer: this blog post is not an attempt to create the new rating system. It is rather an account into the emotional escapades of the oenophile tasting wine.
Here I’m again with the super-indescriptive descriptor – beautiful wine. I wonder if the phrase “beautiful wine” gives you a mental image. I’m not talking about the exact image of an object shaped in the form of a bottle, but rather a mental anchor you can relate to “ahh, I understand”. Let me deconstruct this “beautiful wine” term as the following:
1. The wine is perfectly balanced – fruit, acidity, tannins, texture, structure – all together.
2. Drinking this wine is a pleasure
3. The wine is memorable
4. “Beautiful wine” designation is totally spontaneous and emotional. It usually happens after the first sip and the subsequent uncontrollable “wow”.
When it comes to the term of “interesting wine”, that happens when I’m puzzled, like “hmmm, interesting, I’m not sure what to think of it”. Please understand that it is very different from “ouch, it needs time”, “what is it???”, “crap” and “this is disgusting”. “This is interesting” simply means that I can’t put a handle on what I’m tasting, where, for instance, the initial sensation of round and silky is followed by something harsh and unbalanced. “This is interesting” usually ends up being extended into “hmmm, this is interesting, let’s give it some time”. From this point on, the wine can be put aside to be drunk at another day, or it might go into the decanter if I feel that it would be sufficient to change it.
Here are the few wines we had last week, some beautiful and some are … interesting.
2011 Field Recordings “Neverland” Red Wine Grassini Vineyard Happy Canyon of Santa Barbara (15.1% ABV, 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot. Aging: 50% new French barrels, 25% new American barrels, 25% seasoned French for 18 month) – believe it or not, but every time I open a bottle of Field Recordings wine (which is easy – just twist off the screw top), I have a moment of trepidation – will it be as good as everything else I tasted before from Field Recording? You could’ve noticed in this blog that I have a lot of happy reviews of the Field Recordings wines, thus it creates that uneasy moment with each new bottle opened. Luckily, this bottle of “Neverland” didn’t deviate from the trend at all – beautiful nose of cassis and blueberries, open, bright and concentrated, followed by more of cassis, sweet oak and blueberries – but nothing over the top, soft and delicious fruit with perfectly refreshing acidity, soft tannins and overall impeccably balanced. This was a beautiful wine – and equally dangerous (“dangerous wine” = disappears before you notice it). Drinkability: 8+
2012 Cane and Fable 373 Cabernet Sauvignon Paso Robles (14.9% ABV, 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Tempranillo, 5% Petit Verdot. Aging: 225L oak barriques, 25% new, 12 month) – this wine is the result of collaboration of Field Recordings’ Andrew Jones and Curt Schalchlin of Sans Liege fame. Different presentation of the bottle (yes, I know, that giant cricket on the label can be off-putting), and the bottle is enclosed with the actual cork and not the screw top as all of the Field Recordings wines. The nose was more restrained than the previous wine, but still showing cassis with some earthy overtones. On the palate, this was that exact “interesting wine”. It was showing nice fruit and structure, but was somewhat fluctuating on an off in terms of being round, or not. So this was an interesting wine to put aside, which I did. As you can take a hint from the cork enclosure, this wine is intended to age – and on the second day it came together, showing cassis with the addition of espresso and earthiness – I think that Tempranillo was holding it away from becoming Bordeaux-like, so this was the wine on its own, well balanced, restrained, and craving for food. I have another bottle and I definitely intend to give it a few years to see what it is capable of. By the way – a mini quiz for you – care to guess what 373 stands for in the name of this wine? Drinkability: 8-
2010 CVNE Monopole Rioja DOC (13% ABV, 100% Viura) – the oldest white wine brand of Spain, produced since 1915. Fresh citrus and herbs on the nose, impeccably balanced and restrained on the palate, with the notes of lemon and green apple, clean acidity, very pleasant to drink. I have a few more bottles, and I’m keeping them. Drinkability: 8
2012 Colline de l’Hirondelle Cocolico, France (15% ABV, 60% Chenançon Noir, 25% Grenache, 15% Syrah) – Another case of the interesting wine, this time due to a number of factors. First of all, this wine contains a new grape – Chenançon Noir from France. Second of all, the initial impression from this wine was more reminiscent of the big body, brooding Spanish Grenache – Shatter by Dave Phinney or Alto Moncayo come to mind – and it was not round enough and was asking for decanter – which was provided. After about 40 minutes, it showed plums and ripe sweet cherries, still powerful and big bodied, but more round and balanced then from the get go. Considering the price of $15.99, if you like big and powerful wines, this might be the one for you. Drinkability: 8-
And that concludes my post. Any beautiful or interesting discoveries you care to share? Comment away! Cheers!
Today was my wife’s 19th anniversary of coming to US, so I was looking for the appropriate wine to celebrate. I didn’t have anything from 1993. There were ’86, ’88 and ’90, but somehow opening those wines didn’t make too much sense. And then I saw a bottle of Norton. No, it was much younger than 19, but Norton is often called a True American Grape, so it should be perfect for the occasion.
So I pulled this bottle of 2005 Chrysalis Vineyards Norton Estate Bottled from Virginia (12.8% ABV), which I got during our visit to Chrysalis Vineyards about two years ago (here is the post about it). Somehow, from the moment the cork was pulled, the wine worked perfectly. It had that hint of barnyard aroma, just a hint, as much as you get from the well made Loire Cabernet Franc – a bit of explicit earthiness on the nose. On the palate, it was very restrained and balanced, quite dry – somewhat similar to Barolo, only without a bear claw grip of tannins, with some leather and again earthy notes. As the wine warmed up, it showed more fruit, some raspberries and plums, with good acidity, and it stayed very balanced until, well, the bottle was empty. In terms of rating, I will put Drinkability at 8.
I’m sure this wine will continue evolving – but this was my only bottle, so it is what it is. Oh well, at least it was a good bottle of wine, so no regrets here. Cheers!
P.S. I’m purposefully avoiding mentioning the debates, which were also an all American event today – let me only tell you that the wine was far more superior than the 5 minutes of debates I watched…
It’s been awhile since I posted in the Daily Glass category, and by design of this blog the plan was actually to have the posts exactly as it said – daily. Well, we all have plans, and then we have the reality – whether we like it or not.
A couple of months back, I got an email from Benchmark Wine Company with an offer to buy the wine. It was about Petite Sirah, and the way it was written, it was hard to resist (besides, Petite Sirah is one of my favorite wines in general) – so I got a few bottles of Retro Cellars Howell Mountain Petite Sirah. To be more precise, I got one bottle of 2004 and 2 bottles of 2007.
I was visiting a good friend and decided that today would be a good day to open the 2004 Retro Cellars Howell Mountain Petite Sirah (14.2% ABV, $35). From the moment the wine went into the glass, it was very clear – the wine was opened way before its time. In one of the wine classes I learned a simple way to find out if wine is ready to drink – you pour the wine in the glass, and hold the glass tilted above some text written on the white paper – if you can read through that glass, the wine is ready to drink. This Petite Sirah was practically black – very concentrated very dark garnet color, without any possibility of reading through. On the palate, the wine had lots of sour cherries, ink and a touch of very dark chocolate – almost a baking chocolate level, the one which practically has no sweetness. Firm tannins. structure and perfect acidity were completing a very balanced package. This definitely was a great wine – drinkable now, but in reality, needing probably another 20 years to shine fully. Drinkability: 9-
That sentiment (needs time!) was also confirmed when I turned the bottle over – it was made by Mike Dunn, the son of Randy Dunn, one of the best winemakers in the Napa Valley. known for making Cabernet Sauvignon wines which require a very long aging period (some stories about Randy Dunn were mentioned in the last issue of Wednesday’s Meritage).
I definitely enjoyed the wine – but when it comes to the 2007 which I still have, patience ( and a lot of it) will be my best friend. Cheers!