Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Miracle Valley Vineyard 2014 Merlot

On a recent trip to the East Coast, my wife visited relatives who live on a horse farm in the Northwest of Virginia. Across the way lies Miracle Valley Vineyard and she brought home a bottle of their 2014 Merlot. I'll admit, I wasn't a fan of the name or the label, so the bottle languished for a few weeks before we got around to tasting it.

Miracle Valley Vineyard 2014 Merlot

Miracle Valley Vineyard is veteran owned winery nestled on Little Cobbler Mountain. Originally a cattle ranch, then affected by events during the Civil War, this historic property was purchased by the current owners in 2004, and Miracle Valley was born. From photos on their website and on the web, it appears to be a beautiful setting.

Tasting Notes:
Aged in Hungarian Oak; red cherry, rhubarb, and cassis aromas; cherry, dark fruit, and green herb flavors; 200 Cases Normally Produced; cork closure.
This wine was a real surprise - we were not expecting a Merlot this flavorful and balanced from Virginia. First impressions notwithstanding, if all their wines are this high quality, I would happily drink them all the time.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cycles Gladiator Merlot 2014

Cycles Gladiator Merlot 2014


Adam LaZarre grew up near the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, in a family interested in wine. After a stint in the Navy, he attended California’s Fresno State’s Department of Viticulture and Enology, worked for a few wine companies, then started Cycles Gladiator in 2005. He used an iconic image of a naked, curvy blonde siren on a bicycle to attract as many wine lovers as possible to Cycles Gladiator wines. Philosophical differences took Adam elsewhere, but when Wine Hooligans acquired the brand in 2013, he returned to helm the new course. A renewed focus on the Central Coast of California led to long-term sourcing agreements - this allows Adam to selects the vineyard, oversee the farming, and maintain control over every aspect of winemaking.

According to Adam: " 2014 was a fabulous vintage for the Central Coast. Perhaps as good as the acclaimed 2007 vintage. Very little rain, if any, allowed vineyard managers and growers to completely control the timing and amounts of water and nutrients, and thus, allowing for a a very generous yield while maintaining small berry size and an early harvest. The reds kick tush."

Tasting Notes:
Merlot 2014: 86% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Syrah; aged 18 months in 15% new French and American oak, balance in neutral of same; dark ruby color; dark fruit, earth, and tart red berry aromas; smoky dark fruit flavors; smooth mouthfeel, with an acidic touch leading into a slightly tannic finish; twist-off closure; SRP $11.
Suggested pairings: carnitas tacos; Peking Duck; or a fatty burger (piled high with avocado, molé, garlic aioli, and Berkswell cheese.

Wine provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Kaiken - Premium Wines from Argentina

Kaiken was founded in 2002 by Aurelio Montes, Sr; the wines are now made by his son. The origin of the Kaiken name is the Caiquen (wild geese), birds whose migratory path mirrors that of the Montes family, crossing the Andes in search of a better environment.  Aurelio Montes Jr. has instituted new oenological practices, including biodynamics and sustainable processes. Five lines encompass the Kaiken wine line, including Sparkling, Mai, and Reserva. The Terroir Series of special wines demonstrates Argentina’s viticultural history and distinctive varieties, through attractive and innovative blends of grapes sourced from the best terroirs. The Kaiken Ultra are wines that express the wish of the Kaiken winemakers and growers to share their experience and knowledge of making high-quality wines on both sides of the Andes. We received a sample from the latter two lines.

Kaiken - Premium Wines from Argentina

Tasting Notes:
Kaiken Terroir Series Torrontés 2015: hand-picked Cafayate Valley grapes (average altitude of 1,600m above sea level); low temp fermentation; regular lees stirring over 6 months; no oak; starfruit, white floral, and citrus aromas, pear and gooseberry flavors into a tart citrus finish; twist-off closure; SRP $17. We paired this with a snack plate of steak, sharp cheddar and crackers - the wine stood up solidly. Their recommendation is a peppered goat cheese and tomato sandwich griddled in extra virgin olive oil.
Kaiken Ultra Malbec 2013: hand-picked from three high altitude vineyards in the Uco Valley; fermented in small tanks; aged in 1/3 new French oak for 12 months; dark fruit, cedar, and subtle herbal aromas; dark fruit and red currant flavors into a red berry finish; good acidity; cork closure; SRP $25. We paired it with homemade cheeseburgers and coleslaw, while the winery recommends lamb chop lollipops with Israeli cous cous.
Beautiful wines that pair well with food and show a clear terroir-driven flavor.

Wines provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Nik Weis Urban Riesling 2015

Urban Riesling 2015

I've been lucky to taste this wine over several years via samples, it's been amazing to see the differences but appreciate the ongoing attention to quality as well. As some of you may know, it's urban not as in city, but as in saint of the wine industry. Living in the 4th Century, Urban was the bishop of Langres and eventually canonized as a saint, being invoked against blight and alcoholism. Nik Weis has chosen Mosel Riesling grapes from his in-laws'  (and friends' ) vineyard, then oversees vinification in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes:
Grapefruit, bitter melon, and wet stone aromas; sweet lemon and almond flavors into a bitter seed finish; great acidic backbone; Weis' goal is to create a wine that gives one "the impulse take the next sip" - he has certainly done that; twist-off closure; SRP $15.
Wine provided for editorial purposes - all opinions are my own.

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