Wednesday, May 14, 2014

USA #1 Wine drinking country over France

Reported reports that the United States has passed France as the world's no. 1 wine-drinking country, according to data from Impact Databank's upcoming 2013 Wine Market report. The figures for 2013 show that Americans consumed 329 million cases in 2013, an 18 percent increase over 2005. A younger generation of Americans is embracing wine, powering especially strong growth in segments like imported wine, sweet wine, sparkling wine and dry rosé. Among the top five countries, consumption fell in France, Italy and, for the first time in recent years, China.
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cameron Hughes Lot 396

California Field Blend '11    $10 (Sam’s Club)

This was somewhat an impulse buy however, I had tried his Cabernet Lot 279 last summer and it was outstanding.
Therefore, I love red blends and figured I couldn’t go wrong for an under $10 bottle.  This is a combination of 64% Zinfandel, 20% Syrah, 11% Petite Sirah and 5% Graciano. 

From the first pour it’s aromas filled the glass with ripe, crushed strawberries, blackberries, dark plums, black pepper and a hint of flint.  The Zinfandel red fruit highlights stood-out nicely with a balance of spice from the other varietals.  The tastes blended together a ripe, dark red fruit flavor with blueberries and cocoa.  Soft tannins and medium body with toasted wood and subtle black pepper spice led to a great finish.

For a bottle priced like this, it was a fantastic wine.  I’m back to buy more bottles to keep around for everyday drinking.  You can find their wines at

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bodega Breca, Garnacha '11 $16


Without any knowledge about this wine maker and knowing how much I like Garnacha, I decided to buy a bottle after a recommendation from the store clerk as well for a potential blog review.  In summary, this was a big “WOW!”

The aromas were rich in black cherries, toasted wood and a touch of earthy overtones.  At first taste, it had a peppery bite and I almost was turned off. But after letting it sit in my glass for 10 minutes, I was completely fooled.  It was like 2 different wines and the 2nd one was excellent!  Smooth tannins with flavors of ripe cherries, plums and mild cocoa gave to an outstanding balance.

Wine Advocate gave this a 94 rating for the 2010 vintage and this 2011 is on par to be very similar.  I found it at Whole Foods and you just might be fooled into thinking this is a much more expensive wine.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Erath Pinot Noir '09 Estate Selection

On Thanksgiving, there's nothing better than a good Pinot Noir to go with turkey and all the dressings. This wine was one I found back in 2011 while visiting the Willamette valley in Oregon. Erath makes various Pinots however this one seems to be a premium one after tasting others. With aromas of ripe plums, vanilla and floral scents this mature red, aged in French oak for 14 months, was outstanding after 2 years home in the bottle. Flavors of dark cherries and crushed strawberries with a hint of toasted oak balanced perfectly with our holiday meal. The tannins were subtle with a soft, silky mouth feel.

I'm not sure on distribution of this specific wine but if you find it, give it a try. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sonoma Favorites (part 1)

I know I haven’t done any justice for those of you following as I’ve taken a bit of time off.  No worries, I’m back!

I recently spent time in Sonoma, California where I had the pleasure of re-visiting wineries I’ve favored in the past along with some new gems.  We travelled out of San Francisco on a Sunday morning just in time for lunch at the Freemont Diner in Sonoma.  If you haven’t been, it’s definitely worth a stop.  Everything is homemade including some tasty smoked meats.

Our first winery stop was at Tin Barn where Michael Lancaster is the owner and wine maker.  It’s not your typical winery as their tasting room and winemaking facility is in a warehouse.  Very cool setup and don’t worry, there are many other wineries located within this complex.  On my next visit, I plan to stop in at more.  One of my favorites was the ’09 Syrah that had rich aromas of black raspberries and licorice.  The flavors were full of dark fruit, blackberry and cherries.  With a deep ruby color and medium body finish, this was my first choice to purchase.  The ’11 Zinfandel (Sonoma Valley) was also a winner with aromas of crushed strawberries and hints of black peppercorns.  Jammy flavors full of dark cherries with an earthy, dry finish gave hints that this will age nicely to drink even better within the next 2-5 years.

Gundlach Bundschu was our next stop and other than having some great wines, they also have beautiful outdoor areas to enjoy your wine or a picnic.  My first taste was something I would have never found myself liking as this varietal tends to be somewhat sweet for my taste.  It was their ’12 Gewürztraminer and it absolutely changed my pre-conceived thoughts for this grape!  For this vintage year they only made 4,500 cases so contact the winery directly if you’re interested.  The aromas were similar to that of a Sav. Blanc with grassy, herbaceous scents, citrus and lemon.  Flavors on the other hand were not like a Sav. Blanc and had butterscotch and ripe pears with mild citrus traces.  It was an amazing wine with refreshing flavors and not too sweet.

Another wine, which I liked a lot, was called Mountain Cuvee.  Aromas of black pepper and smoke gave hints to flavors of currants, plums and hints of mocha on the finish.  Having 7 varietals made this a tough guess for me but I did try and got 5 of the 7 correct.  It was pure luck…trust me!  37% Cab. Sav. and 31% Merlot are the primary grapes.  Cab Franc and Zin at 10% each followed by small percentages of Syrah, Petite Verdot and Malbec complete this great wine.  This is a serious everyday red blend with full body and long finish.  Enjoy with a hearty meal, grilled steak or your favorite aged cheese.

Stay tuned for part 2 in a few days.

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