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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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Finding The Best Wine Cooler

Finding The Best Wine Cooler

Visual appearances do not define a wine cooler as excellent and efficient. The best wine cooler must have various aspects: Have adjustable shelves, keep both red and white wines at the best temperature, and must be energy efficient among others. Reviews.com, a website that creates unbiased research and reviews on products, recently looked at 151 contenders to find the best wine cooler on the market. They wanted to find the best ones that will protect your collection and easily keep all types of wine at the right serving temperature. To get a full perspective they consulted with experts, such as sommeliers, wine cellar consultants and wine buyers, scoured through user reviews and articles, and they also personally tested them to analyze fridge temperatures, essential features and design layout.

Here are their top picks and what to look in a wine cooler...

1. Sunpentown Dual-Zone Thermoelectric Cooler with Heating
This black thermo-electric cooler is sleek and perfect for fitting in narrow spaces. It has two compartments for its dual zone with each zone's temperature and light being controlled separately. It has sensitive touchscreen buttons which with every touch beeps. The shelves accommodate six bottles at the top region with a temperature of 44-64 degrees. The bottom zone fits 12 bottles with a temperature of 51-64 degrees.
2. Wine Enthusiast Silent 8-Bottle Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator
This is the best single-zone wine cooler. The cooler offers straightforward cooling for its single zone. The exterior control panel is sensitive to touch and simple to use. It comes with two buttons: one for blue digital display and one for turning on the interior light. This 8-bottle model can switch from Celsius to Fahrenheit.
Did You Know?
• You will choose between a compressor and thermoelectric cooler - Most wine refrigerators use either thermoelectric or compressor cooling. Compressor coolers use a refrigerant to cool and are heavier, robust and more powerful. Thermoelectric coolers are more energy efficient and quieter. They use Peltier effect for their cooling- Current flow between conductors results in cooling.
• Freestanding units require breathing room, as they can overheat if they are directly against a wall or under a counter. If you want your wine cooler built in with other kitchen appliances, you must ensure the wine cooler has a front exhaust fan.
• Wine coolers are not a lifetime investment. Experts' advice is that freestanding wine coolers can be erratic. Larger built-in wine cooler models have more structural integrity compared to their many smaller off-the-shelf cooler counterparts which serve well for a short time.
 • Wine coolers are an aesthetic choice too. Wine coolers comes in various finishes such as sleek back, wood and even stainless steel. They also come in different shapes like small like microwave, tall and skinny, or even giant like a dishwasher. Apart from their core functioning, visual appearance is something you might want to also consider.
How to Find the Best Wine Cooler for You

I. Are you into red or white wines?
If you take only white or only red wines, a single-zone wine cooler will be a perfect fit for you. If you are into both reds and whites, a dual-zone model will be perfect for you.
II. How is the temperature of where you intend to keep your cooler?
Thermoelectric models, while more effective and energy efficient, work well in ideal temperatures. If you live in humid areas, your cooler should be in an un-air conditioned environment. A compressor model will work well in such areas.
III. Where do you plan on keeping it?
For a more fit and streamlined look, go for built-in models matching with your other appliances. Consider your space to know what size suits you well.
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