Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tin Barn Vineyards Pinot Noir 2007 $34

Sonoma, CA (Carneros)

Thanksgiving has come and gone once again but not without enjoying family, good food (too much) and a great bottle of Pinot Noir. I know many of you have heard how good Pinot goes with turkey and this vintage was no exception as it especially went well with everything on the table. From the beginning aromas filled with an earthiness, smoke and woody sensation to the supple smooth taste following; this was one of the best Pinot Noir wines I’ve had.

All flavors were nicely balanced starting with ripe dark cherries and blueberries. On the mid-palate (that would be your tongue…remember we’re trying to keep it simple here), a silky, smooth hint of cocoa and mild spice on the finish rounded out the wine. Our menu consisted of a turkey which was brined, cold smoked and then baked, savory stuffing with sausage, mushrooms and herb toasted potato bread, Yukon gold garlic mashed potatoes and everyone's favorite green bean casserole. The wine complimented everything so well given the earthy hint to the dishes...especially the stuffing.

I had never heard of Tin Barn Vineyards until a visit to Sonoma this past spring. It’s not your typical winery yet that doesn’t matter. The talents of Michael Lancaster (Managing Partner & Winemaker) along with the select vineyards these grapes are from must be the secret. I’ll admit the price point is not my typical spending range however something this good is worth it! You can find Tin Barn at The 2008 Pinot Noir is now released as the second vintage for this wine. If I’m able to get some, I’ll be sure to write about it here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Natura Syrah 2005 $11

Valle Colchagua, Chile

This wine purchase was on a complete whim! Walking through the grocery store I saw the bottle display, which I had not recognized before. After a short read to the back of the bottle, the appealing price and the 2 ribeye steaks picked out from the butcher, this bottle was destined for dinner tonight.

At first smell the aromas had a smoky-woody scent followed by plum and ripe black fruit. The first taste was a wonderful, smooth sensation of chocolate, blackberries and a mild woody-oak flavor. With soft tannins and a slightly dry finish a hint of pepper rounded out the wine on my palate. It paired great with the grilled steaks at dinner time.

The label states this was a “Special Lot – Made With Organically Grown Grapes.” Maybe this is the difference in its great flavors. I can’t say I’ve always had this good of an experience in trying something completely unknown. I did taste the 2008 Carmenere by Natura after this and found it to be quite nice as well. (See EPCOT Food & Wine posting)

For the price point and now that I’ve tried this, I’d definitely recommend it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Kanu, Chenin Blanc 2008 $10

South Africa

I’m beginning to find more Chenin Blanc wines from South Africa which are quite nice. They’re obviously young and ready to drink now so don’t hesitate to open a bottle today. Throw out the old adage that whites are for summer only and try something like this in place of a cocktail before dinner or even with seafood. Hey, Oysters & Stone Crabs are in season now that waters are colder in my area and this would go great with those.

With a light citrus and asparagus aroma, this reminded me of a Sauvignon Blanc. The flavors displayed melon, peach and a hint of citrus. A mild nutty taste on the finish mellowed out the typical tartness found in a Sav. Blanc. Since a portion of the wine was aged in oak barrels, this could explain the subtleness of the wine. Overall, I found this wine very refreshing, slightly crisp yet not too tart.

If I was to pair this wine, I’d go with a grilled fish like I had at the time of tasting (Mahi Mahi). This wine would also go well with light pasta dishes or salads. If you don’t want to worry about food pairing, try it as discussed above and just enjoy by itself. With an 87 rating from Wine Spectator and costing less than $10, you can’t go wrong to try it.

The blend: 92% Chenin Blanc, 4% Sauvignon Blanc, 4% Viognier
**5% late harvest Chenin Blanc was blended in.

Full disclosure: This bottle was sent to me for sampling. If you know my motto at Simple Wine Talk, you know I won’t write about it unless I liked it!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

EPCOT Food and Wine Festival

If you're able to make this annual event on a visit to Disney World’s EPCOT Center between late September and early November, you’ll find a vast selection of wines, beers, spirits and culinary delights from across the globe. I usually make it to a half or full day and this time I took notes to share here. We started mid-morning by trying some aged cheddar with brown bread from Ireland…no beer or wine yet. After purchasing some tickets to seminars being held later that day, it was lunchtime and South American cuisine was on track for some samplings.

From Argentina, 2008 Cosecha Tardia (by Bodega Norton) was a nice white wine I’d not heard of. Aromas of apricot led to a semi-sweet taste of peaches and vanilla. This is a late harvest chardonnay and would be a perfect pair with seafood and light pasta dishes.

From Chille, 2008 Carmenere (by Natura) was a red, which had aromas of cocoa, black fruit and a woody hint. Tastes comprised of ripe blackberries and plum along with some oak on the finish. The blend is Carmenere (87%), Syrah (4%), Petite verdot (4%) and Malbec (1%). A very easy drinking red with silky soft tannins will be something you should try from this eco-conscious winery. Online costs show retail pricing around $9-$10.

After our lunch samplings, we attended a seminar hosted by Chopin Vodka. If you haven’t tried this potato vodka, you must! There definitely is a difference in vodka made from grains (Rye, Oats, etc.) vs. potato vodka. I do love my martinis shaken cold, up and with a few olives and I have had my share of grain vodkas, which I think are outstanding as well. I just need to give a nod to Chopin for introducing me to theirs.

It was on to a South African 2008 Pinotage (by Fairview). What a great red wine exhibiting plum and
mocha on the scents followed by tastes of a mellow blackberry and finishing with a subtle peppery spice. I had it with grilled tenderloin and sweet potato mash. A bit of barbecue sauce on the side brought it all together with great flavors I’d bring out for my next barbecue.

From the North Fork region of New York State we tried a 2007 Pinot Blanc Reserve (from Lieb). With a buttery and woody aroma I was fooled when asked if this was aged in French or American oak barrels. The answer…no wood! Wow, it tasted very much like a chardonnay with subtle hints of oak. With light citrus and subtle buttery flavors this would pair well with oysters and shellfish. I’d like to send a thank you to Gary Madden, GM Lieb Family Cellars for taking some extra time to discuss Lieb, the North Fork and his history in wine making. I hope to keep a connection with you in the near future. Great seminar Gary!

To add a little variety to the day I decided to try a traditional Oktoberfest beer called Spaten. It’s a medium dark, mellow drinking beer from the Bavaria region. It went down great with the Nuremberg Sausage on a soft pretzel roll. A blend of salty snacks to pair well with was perfect. To all my client friends in Germany, I look forward to more wonderful beers in your country on my next visit.

Rounding out the evening were 2 more wines I felt worthy of mentioning here. The first was a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot blend. The 2006 Villa Maria from New Zealand had hints of ripe cherry, blackberry and an earthy aroma. The taste brought out the dark cherries along with some oak. The finish was pleasing, silky and smooth showing off soft tannins.

Lastly before all the tasting kiosks closed I grabbed one last sample. A Zweigelt from Austria (by IBY) was the finale. Big aromas of ripe strawberries and plum along with a smoky scent made me feel good for not missing this wine on our daily adventure. Flavors exuded with ripe dark berries along with a nutty and smoky finish. Very easy drinking with subtle tannins.

It was a great day and I hope you’re able to find some of these selections locally. I know I will begin looking as well.

Full disclosure: Everything tasted and mentioned above was paid for. No endorsements, complimentary samplings or products were offered.

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