Life is better on the corner, the place where great wines meet reasonable prices!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

St Clement 2006 Oroppas, Bordeaux Blend a WBC 09 highlight

The Wine Bloggers Conference of 2009 is where I had the opportunity to sample the 2006 Oroppas Bordeaux Blend and prior to this I had only read of and heard about their reputation for making outstanding wine, this effort was no different.

St Clement was part of the Grand Tasting line up held at Quintessa Winery a beautiful property encompassing some 170 acres of vineyard on Silverado Trail in St. Helena, Ca. The line-up of Napa Valley Vintners read like some cork-dorks "Who's Who" list of top Napa Valley Wine makers. It's what I would call First Class event and I was so appreciative of this opportunity.

Tables were set up along the many rows of fermentation tanks in what seemed like a Taj Mahal size building, truly impressive. You had to see and experience it to fully appreciate the grandeur of this event. Perhaps, a little wine writer like myself is too easily impressed, but I did feel a bit like "hey, "I've arrived".

If you are one of those folks who say, "no one reads blogs" if so then to you I say, really? Perhaps you can explain why in 2009 Napa Valley vintners collectively rolled out the "red carpet" for a bunch folks who [supposedly insignificant] are writers such as myself, representing the many wine blogs you find in plentiful numbers on the net, chock full of articles on the subject of wine. Why then is this post [the one you're looking at] listed in the Google search results as the number two item of relevant inquires. Maybe it's because the see we are the up and coming New Media and they want to be ahead of the curve during the "changing of the guards". 

Okay so enough about that, the reason for this review and of the many still to come sitting in a some-what neat pile on my desk is the 2006 Orappas from St. Clement. I was surprised to see this wine at the tasting but they didn't call it "grand" for nothing. The Winemaker Danielle Cyrot from St. Clement Vineyard was there and pouring her amazing 2006 Orappas and folks let me tell you something this wine to me represents part of what makes Napa Valley such an great place to grow vines and make wine.

Now unfortunately for me I've not tasted any of their other wines so I don't have a real comparison of their other offerings but I have a sneaking suspicion that this wine is just the tip of the iceberg. I wanted to take a closer look at this wine, so I took my sample out the massive metal rolled gate entrance which spills out to the vineyards to take a closer look at my sample.

I wanted to make a "some-what" serious attempt evaluating this wine and write some quick notes about my impressions. Luckily for me there was a vine end post [which if treated, can make the difference between being labeled organic or not when you're 99% organic] nearby to rest my glass upon while I scribbled away a few notes of excitement about this wonderful wine. Some of the other folks may have wanted to hit every table, but I thought it be great to focus in on just a few wineries I only knew by reputation and that's what I did with St. Clement. So now on with the review.

In the Review Spot Light: 2006 Oroppas Napa Valley

Splash and Swirl: This wine has nice viscosity, the color was vivid deep ruby colored core surrounded by a lightly colored cerise rim.

Sniffity-Sniff: After putting my nose into the glass it was immediately enveloped by loads of ripe plum and blackberry fruits, while also picking up notes of cream and espresso, just wonderful.

Long Slurp: This where things really got interesting a rich yet supple mouth feel with a slight meaty edge to the plump dark berry, and cherry glowing delightfully upon my palate, while swirling around a generous core of blackberry and licorice flavors flowing effortlessly to the long polished finish.

ABV and Price: The wine weighed at 14.5% abv and pricing on this wine varies from $55.00 to purchase from the tasting room or website. It can also be found for about $34 -$49 at some retail shops around town and the same for buying it online, excluding auctions.

What's the Score: I gave this wine 92 points on the CCWB point scale. From my perspective, many wines of this caliber could earn higher points if the prices were somewhat in what I would call the more reasonable range. Still this wine is just fantastic, nearly a perfect in all aspects. But I can find wines of similar finesse, pedigree and structure for a more reasonable price.
Vineyards: Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards on Diamond and Howell Mountain, as well as Mount Veeder, contributed to the blend along with valley floor fruit from Rutherford and St. Helena.

The Blend: Ya know I really love blends and this one is no exception. Composed primarily of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon 9% Merlot, small amounts of Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot were blended in to enhance the structure and mid-palate weight. Each part of the blend was aged separately in French Oak for nineteen months and blended together just before bottling.
My Recommendation: If you are a huge fan of Bordeaux blends like me then this is one wine, then I would definitely recommend grabbing a few bottles of this rather amazing juice. They have huge track record of producing wines which typically score 90 points or more from many of the major wine publications. On the flip side of the equation, in my economy and I suspect many others economies, this wine could not be labeled as an "everyday drinker" especially in this price range. However, it's definitely a wine you'll want to have for the weekend or for special occasions. Also makes a great gift for wine connoisseur friends who may drop by for dinner or make the perfect gift for the hard to impress boss, who just may be the one to assist you in climbing the ladder.
Other Voices: Wine Spectators, James Laube who sampled this wine blind on April 1, 2009 had this to say about the St. Clement 2006 Oroppas, "it's ultra-rich and concentrated, delivering plush blackberry currant, black cherry and spicy anise that are pure, focused and full-bodied, with a long persistent finish that ends with a supple texture." and gave it a great score of 92 points and should be just now hitting its stride from 2011 through 2017.

Napa and Sonoma Valleys Magazine: Choose St. Clement Winery -- "Best Boutique Winery" two years in a row.

Until next time sip long and prosper, cheers!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

La Tancia 2007 Chianti, a taste of Italy

This review represents my 100th post somewhat of a milestone and I will be donating my 100th post to charity, I've not decided on a charity as of the moment but I have a few that I'm contemplating. A Facebook friend, Jennifer's Review has come up with this novel concept of donating every one hundredth post and so here I am after a little more than a year I've arrived at number one hundred. My blogging skills have come a long way since that first post entitled Willamette Wonderland Part 1 based on my adventures on the Oregon wine trail. My review style has changed quite a bit and I've gleaned so much from other writers and bloggers who I owe a big thanks. Speaking of big thanks, here is one going out to all my readers who stop by each month to catch up my latest review or my occasional rants and rave about a trend in the wine scene. I lift a glass to each one of you with a hearty, cheers!

It just so happens that my wife and I will be leaving on a trip to Italy in just
a few weeks, we are going to be staying on a vineyard in the heart of Chianti, a stones throw from Castellina in Chianti. Wow, we just can't wait to visit Tuscany and Siena and some of the over 90 wineries who produce Brunello di Montalcino. So much to see and do with only a week to take it all in.
I do love a good Chianti, it's one of my favorite table wines. I was invited to sample the La Tancia Chianti (2007) and it arrives on my door step and does a bit of sun bathing before coming inside to be stored in my cellar. I'm thinking I will give this wine a couple of weeks before I give it go, to get over it's bad case of bottle shock and time in transit.

Well it has been two weeks since the arrival of this sample and I am seriously jonesing for a grilled pizza. Yep you heard me right a grilled pizza. The weather is seriously vexing and the temps inside are nearing the mid eighties. Since I want to make some pizza and the oven is a serious no-go, I opt for the grill. I whip out the pizza stone and a fresh dough acquired from Trader Joe's, and all the other fresh ingredients waiting to participate in this glorious feast. I then whip up a couple of "classic" Caesar salads and now it's time to evaluate this wonderfully inexpensive Chianti.

We all appreciate getting great juice at a great price and believe me I am no different. This wine was everything you expect in a classic stlye Chianti and more.

The Wine: 2007 La Tancia, DOCG Chianti. Does Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita D.O.C.G. have you wondering what does DOCG mean anyway? It's represented by the geographical name of a delimited production area with the strictest limitation of areas and yields per hectare and is awarded to wines of outstanding reputation with a D.O.C. of at least five years.

First Swirl: In the glass this wine features a light garnet colored core and red-brick colored rim.

First Sniff: The delicate aromas mingle nicely together, with characteristic notes of plum, cherry, and a hint of leather.

First Sip: There's an appealing earthiness under the black cherry fruit in this wine. It grows more savory with air, gaining both freshness and length from the bright middle. Supple tannins and a well-balanced structure, it's a good match for many food types think Egg Plant Parmesan or perhaps a thin crusted wood fired pizza.

Composition: 100% Sangiovese aged (most likely twelve months) in French barriques and estate bottled at the La Tancia Estate in the Chianti.

Price and Alcohol: This wine can be purchased at a number of places on line and sells for somewhere between $7.00 and $9.99 depending on where you look. The alcohol percentage is a typical 12.5 %.

Other Voices: After an exhaustive search online it appears mine is the sole voice on reviewing this particular wine, so you'll just have to trust my palate alone on this review.

Sample Sent: Yes, this was a sample sent to me by the Margate WINE & SPIRIT Company in New York
Recommendation: This is a good wine to stock up on, especially if you are planning a party. It lends itself to easy food pairing and has a low alcohol content. It's is very inexpensive and will be easy on the wallet. It's is made to drink now but will benefit from a year of cellaring. If you are someone likes to buy easy quaffers like this one in bulk, I heartily recommend storing your wine correctly or you're just throwing your money out the window. Until next time cheers everyone!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The 2007 Miner Viognier, just chill and serve!

Another hot muggy day here in San Diego, what many call the "dog-daze" of summer, when all the parents out there can see relief is now in site, nearly time to get the kids back to school. But there is still nearly a month of hot warms days left here in San Diego and across the country.
So maybe you just want to hang out by the pool and relax, grill some shrimp and scallops, you don't want a big heavy, full-bodied red wine weighing your palate down. I have a great suggestion for you, it's a delightful white wine whose wonderful origins are from Northern Rhone region of France and in particular which is not as famous, but provides some fascinating light quaffing and aromatics Viogner in Condrieu.
The wine I will be reviewing for you today is made in Napa, California and the grapes are sourced from the Simpson Vineyards, Madera, California.
Miner Family Vineyards is tucked away in the eastern hills of Napa's Oakville appellation, MINER FAMILY VINEYARDS which was founded in 1998 by Dave and his wife Emily, who produce small lot, hand crafted wines using a combination of old world wine making techniques and modern technology. Much of the their focus is on high end, reserve style wines which reflect the unique terroir of the individual vineyards where those varietals grow best. But today we are going to stay focused on a wine from their list which is value oriented, but long in flavor and finesse.

The first time I had this wine was during a dinner at the Napa Rose Restaurant at the Walt Disney Resort in Anaheim. This wine was part of a wine pairing extravaganza. I've had plenty of Viognier over the years, at many different price points, but for the price to quality ratio I believe this wines represents a great value, with a screw top to boot for easy access.

The Wine: 2008 Miner Viognier

First Swirl: In the glass this wine has medium straw colored core and pale yellow rim.

First Sniff: This wine is aromatically complex with citrus and honeysuckle notes on the nose.

First Sip: Immediately a plush feel on the palate and consistently displays a fine balance of natural acidity and intense concentration co-mingling nicely with some tropical and stone fruit characteristics.
Alcohol and Price: This wine can be found many places locally for about $16.00 and weighs in at 14% alc. Also since they produced many 1/2 size (375 ml) bottles you will probably find it on many restaurant menus and could be ideal for those not wanting be confined to drinking a whole bottle of wine or transporting a open container.

Other Voices: "This is a totally feminine wine with notes of honey and orange blossom. If you are looking to try a floral wine, this is it." Maureen C. Petrosky is author of The Wine Club: A Month-By-Month Guide to Learning About Wine With Friends.

Press Democrat, September 14, 2008"Has a plush feel, good concentration and good acidity. Floral, with a note of honeysuckle. Balanced."

4 STARS, RESTAURANT WINE ISSUE #128 "A round, medium rich Viognier that tastes of peach, honeysuckle, roasted nut, cherimoya, and toast. Full and well balanced. Excellent value."

Connoisseurs' Guide March 2009 92 POINTS, 2 PUFFS the Miner Family 2007 Viognier ranked 2nd in the March issue out of the 30 plus tasted, including Phelps, DuMol, Pride Viognier.

Vineyards and Composition: This wine is not a blend, it's 100% Viognier start to finish. The grapes are sourced from John Simpson's low-yielding vineyards in Madera, this wine was whole cluster pressed and stainless steel fermented to allow the vibrant purity of this fruit to shine through. Even though I am not a fan of this process in Chadonnay, in this grape variety it works beautifully! There is somewhere between four and five thousand cases of this wine available.

My Recommendation: This is a wine to stock up on and a sure crowd pleaser. It pairs well with many foods and is easy on the wallet. Drink now and drink often. I would buy a half case and since this wine is not really meant for long term aging, sitting in your pantry for storage poses no problem. Just slip a few in the fridge and have some very enjoyable quaffing, until next time cheers everyone!

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