Thursday, January 29, 2015

WineStudio: Hall Wines Cabernet

WineStudio: Hall Wines Cabernet

One of the many great things about #WineStudio is that we get to taste amazing wines. That was certainly the case Tuesday night, as we uncorked a pair of Cabernet Sauvignon's from California's Hall Wines. The Halls originally started with a dedication to making single vineyard and limited-production wines. They continued growing and their estate vineyards now encompass more than 500 acres of classic Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. Theirs was California's first winery to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold Certification, showing a strong respect for the environment.

Tasting Notes:
2012 "Eighteen Seventy-Three" Cabernet Sauvignon "Members Only": 97% Cabernet Sauvignon/3% Merlot; dark ruby color; dark berry, earth, spice, and mocha aromas, repeated on the palate with a jolting backbone of tannins; this wine needs plenty of aeration and perhaps a few more years of bottle aging, should reward patience in the cellar; SRP $80 (members only, see website for membership details).

2011 HALL "Jack's Masterpiece" Cabernet Sauvignon
Baby Jack making the label art

2011 "Jack's Masterpiece" Cabernet Sauvignon: The inspiration for the label art began on Father's Day of 2006, when  Mike Reynolds' (President and former Winemaker) 18-month-old son Jack's artwork was presented to him; 96% Cabernet Sauvignon/4% Petit Verdot; black currant, berry, cherry, plum, violet, sandalwood, and spices fill the nose and palate; truly a lush wine with a lingering, savory finish. Plenty of balanced tannins, drinkable now but will continue to evolve and improve in the cellar for many years to come; SRP $125.
Both of these bottles are just starting to waken - they need aeration, time in the glass, and a hearty piece of meat for maximum enjoyment, in my opinion. Better yet, buy one or more and let them rest for at least a few more years, then see what's happened in the bottle. I would think it would be worth the wait.

PROTOCOL #WineStudio presents an online twitter-based educational program where we engage our brains and palates! It’s part instruction and tasting, with discussions on producers, varieties, tourism, terroir, regional culture, food matching and what all this means to us as imbibers.

Wine was provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Places to eat in Salt Lake City, UT

Last week, I was in Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer Winter Show, so I checked out a few places online, got some local suggestions, and ate out quite a few times during my week here.

Beer Bar Salt Lake City

I couldn't resist eating a meal at the most famous of recent SLC openings, Beer Bar. Playing one of my favorite TV characters, Ty Burrell is well-known as Phil Dunphy on Modern Family, but it turns out he is also becoming known as a restaurateur. Last spring, Burrell opened Beer Bar, a casual eatery featuring many, many beers along with locally-sourced sausages, breads and Belgian fries. Sounded like my kind of place! A rattlesnake and rabbit sausage? Definitely haven't seen that elsewhere and it was awesome, try it if they haven't changed the menu. No beer flights allowed, but I tasted a variety of local beers, all good, all lower alcohol, great with food.

Beer Bar on Urbanspoon

The Rose Establishment Salt Lake City

A strange thing about SLC: many restaurants don't open until 9:00 AM, even breakfast places. I was overjoyed to find The Rose Establishment on my wanderings towards the convention center. Great light from the windows overlooking the street, with high ceilings giving this an airy feel. Housed in a former meatpacking plant, the place is both old-timey and up-to-date, very comfortable place to get breakfast. Amazing coffees and, if they have them, super tasty personal sized quiches are available.

The Rose Establishment on Urbanspoon

The Blue Iguana Salt Lake City

Many folks suggested I check out the Red Iguana restaurant, but the one appropriate time I walked by, the line was out the door (something that was also mentioned). Not sure how the two restaurants are related (or if they are), but this is right across the street from the convention center so easy to get to. They didn't blink when I came in alone, dropped an enormous plate of corn chips for me and let me peruse the menu. I tried the Tinga Poblana ("Slow-roasted shredded pork. Spicy!"), which was good but not spicy; instead, it was smoky and sweet, almost mole-like. Still good, just not what I was expecting.

Blue Iguana on Urbanspoon

Pie Hole Salt Lake City

If you're a former punk like me, this place will be right up your alley, but if you don't like scruffy places with stickers, graffiti, and a bit of attitude, stay away. Plenty of options for pizza by the slice, including a vegan choice, or have a pie made while you wait (or call ahead or get delivery of you're downtown). Inexpensive, tasty, lots of character - this would be my go-to at least once a week if I lived here.

Pie Hole on Urbanspoon

Nico's Salt Lake City

If you're out by the KOA, on the way to the Airport (hop off at the TRAX's Power Station), check out Diamond Lil's (which appears closed but apparently is still open ???), but then head across the street to Nico's Restaurant and Lounge, which serves American and Mexican food. You know when you get a chimichanga to go, then 10 minutes later it's just a soggy mess? This time, it wasn't - not sure what voodoo that was but it was still pretty crispy after about 15 minutes in the container. Tasty too. Next time I'd ask for less or no ice in the horchata, ended up getting watered down as I ate. Cool little place to eat in or, as I did, order to go. Super friendly service.

Nico's Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A New Napa Cuisine

A New Napa Cuisine

A short while ago, I checked out Christopher Kostow's book, A New Napa Cuisine. It's a very tactile book, with serious heft, a pleasantly rough cover, and slick pages inside (also, nothing like that new book smell, right?). His writing, connecting what he does as Executive Chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley with his surroundings, is impassioned and inspiring. The photography makes me want to move to wine country sooner rather than later, though neither is likely. Surprisingly, the recipes, while numerous, seem unimportant to one's journey. Even though it showcases his creativity and his use of local artisans, I found it actually detracted from the experience of reading this book - I thumbed through the recipes pretty quickly, more interested in reading what he had to say next rather than seeing what I was missing at the restaurant. I'm sure, given more time, I'd appreciate the recipes more, but the writing and photography alone are enough to recommend this book.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Artisan Collection

The Artisan Collection  is an importer of family made wines, centered on preserving and promoting wine traditions and authenticity. To preserve the quality of the wines from vine to bottle to sale, they use only expedient and 100% refrigerated storage and shipping. They sent a few sample bottles to try out from their broad portfolio some time ago, just found my notes again. :)

Artisan Collection

Tasting Notes:
Bodegas Ramon Ramos Monte Toro Roble 2009: Tinto de Toro grapes hand harvested from 30-year-old vines; fermented in small concrete tanks, plot by plot; only native yeasts used; aged 6 months in French and American Oak; bottled without fining or filtration, direct into the bottle from the casks; dark, almost opaque ruby color with lighter edges; cassis, dark cherry, herb and earthy aromas; bright red fruit, rhubarb, and herb flavors; lighter bodied than expected; lots of acidity; 14.5% ABV; natural cork closure; SRP $15 (depending on location).
Las Lilas Vinho Verde White 2013: Estate grown Louriero and Treixadura from vines that are 25+ years old; yellow color with greenish tinge; white floral, pear, and subtle starfruit aromas; green melon, pear, and tangerine flavors; light bodied with slight effervescence; tart and acidic, refreshing to drink; 10% ABV; twist-off closure; SRP $10 (depending on location).
2 more varietals for my Wine Century Club list - up to 133!

Wine received for tasting purposes – all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wines of Garnacha

I really enjoyed the samples of Garnacha wines I received for the Wines of Garnacha campaign. Garnacha (better known by its French name, Grenache) is one of the world’s most popular wine grapes. The aim of the campaign is to differentiate the products and raise the profiles of Garnacha wines produced in the five Protected Designations of Origin located in the area where Garnacha originated (Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano and Terra Alta). Garnacha originated in the region of what is now eastern Spain. Garnacha thrived in the hot, dry Mediterranean climate, and soon spread to the south and east, first to Catalonia and then to other places where the Crown of Aragón expanded throughout the 12th-17th centuries. We tasted the wines over a period of several weeks, enjoying them with a variety of foods.

Garnacha of Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena, Somontano and Terra Alta

Tasting Notes:
Bodega Pagos del Moncayo Garnacha 2012: grapes hand-picked; macerated in open vats for a week before being crushed by foot; aged 10 months in oak; vibrant red color; dark fruit, berry, vanilla and coffee aromas; berry, spice, and earth flavors; 14% ABV; cork closure.
Castillo de Monseran Garnacha 2011: grapes from bush vines; ruby red color; berry, plum and herb aromas; red berry, plum, and dark berry flavors and vanilla flavors; 12.5% ABV; cork closure.
Agoston Garnacha and Syrah 2013: 50% Garnacha, 50% Syrah; fermented with skins for 10 days in stainless steel tanks; malolactic fermentation in American and French oak barrels; aged two months in wood, then stabilized, filtered, and bottled; light ruby or garnet color; red berry, floral and spice aromas; bright red fruit, dark fruit, spice and cocoa flavors; 13.5% ABV; twist-off closure.
Viñas Del Vero La Miranda de Secastilla 2009: grapes hand-picked; aged 8 months in new French Allier oak; no fining, light filtration before bottling; deep ruby color; blackberry, earth, and vanilla aromas; cherry, plum, and spice flavors; 14% ABV; cork closure.
Bodegas y Viñedos del Jalón Alto Las Pizarras 2009: grapes hand-picked; cold macerated, then fermented in stainless controlled temperature tanks; aged 11 months in new French Oak; spice, dark fruit, and coffee aromas; cherry, dark fruit, spice and vanilla flavors; 14% ABV; cork closure; 50,000 bottles produced.
Punto Y Seguido Garnacha Vinas Viejas 2009: grapes hand-picked from 40+ year old vines; fermented in stainless controlled temperature tanks after 4 day cold soak; aged 9 months in French Oak; cherry red color; floral, red berry, spice, and grass aromas; cherry, spice, and dark fruit flavors; 14% ABV; cork closure; 150,000 bottles produced.
Discover the wonderful Land of Garnacha Video

Nice variety amongst the wines, with all being food-friendly, drinkable now, and a pleasure to taste!

Wines received for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Vintage 2015: a Year in American Wine


In 2014, Wil Fernandez and a team of team of photographers, videographers, writers and artists were out in the vineyards from bud break to harvest, documenting the vintage via films, photographs and art on a simple project website that is now a complete timeline of the 2014 vintage in Santa Barbara County, California. Will is now looking to fund a real-time archive of the 2015 vintage - this project will bring together farmers, winemakers and creative people from across the United States. If funded, an interactive web destination will collect stories from vineyards and wineries across the nation through words, photographs and videos; this will help overcome geographic constraints in order to create an archive of the 2015 vintage across the United States. Follow your favorite wines from dirt to glass via local correspondents, or become a local correspondent yourself.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Thursday, January 15, 2015

WineStudio: Steven Kent Winery

"The Steven Kent Winery was started in 1996 with one mission: to make Cabernet here in the Livermore Valley that rivals in quality the greatest red wines made anywhere in the world."

Steven Kent Winery

As part of the January #WineStudio, we were treated to samples of wines from the Steven Kent Winery, owned by 6th generation winemaker, Steven Mirassou. Livermore Valley has a long history of growing the “Bordeaux” varietals, ongoing once it became apparent that the climate and soils closely resemble those of Bordeaux’s famed left bank of the Gironde. Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard became the predominant fruit source for The Steven Kent Winery in 2005 and is planted to all five classic Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Malbec), though grapes are sourced from 4 other vineyards as well.

Tasting Notes:
2011 Cabernet Sauvignon: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon from the Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard and Home Ranch; 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc from Ghielmetti Estate Vineyard; fermented in stainless 1 3⁄4-ton open-topped fermenters; each lot of wine was made separately then blended about 6 months prior to release; aged 24 months in 60% new oak, mostly French with a small percentage of Appalachian barrels; beautiful ruby color; cedar, spice, dark cherry, plum, and herbal aromas; black cherry, red berry, and herbal flavors; nice balance of acids and tannins; medium finish; released May 2014, should cellar beautifully for more than a few years; ABV 13.5%; natural cork enclosure; 983 cases produced; SRP $48.

2011 Petit Verdot Ghielmetti Vineyard: fermented in 1.7 ton open-top fermenters; aged 20 months in 60-70% new French and American oak; blackberry, cedar, molasses, and herbal aromas; plum, leather, licorice, smoke, and cocoa flavors; strong acidic backbone; lingering finish; released October 2014, should cellar beautifully for more than a few years; ABV 14.3%; natural cork closure; 142 cases produced; SRP $50.
These wine were provided for tasting purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ceradello Prosecco NV

Ceradello Prosecco NV
"Ceradello line of Italian wines made with organic grapes combine heritage with modern freshness and elegance into a beautiful tasting wine"
The Armani family has been handcrafting wines in the Alto Adige region of Italy for over 400 years. Their focus includes saving native Italian varietals from extinction and by so doing, preserving the culture, the century old vineyards and varietals.

Albino Armani - "Into the Wine" Video

Tasting Notes:

Prosecco NV: organic grapes from Veneto, Trentino and Friuli; after an initial natural fermentation, a second fermentation in pressure tanks goes on; bright straw yellow color; lime, white flowers, and green melon both on the nose and palate; many fine bubbles; 11% ABV; natural cork closure; SRP $18 (in my area).

Wine received as a review sample - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Lodi Wine Holiday Gift

Some wine regions are better than others about getting their message out via social media - the best versed, in my opinion, is Lodi Wine. From their informational website, unique virtual tastings, and laugh out loud funny LoCa Thoughts videos (they need to make more!), they make sure to get out the word on how varied and wonderful Lodi is. Kudos to them. Still, I was bowled over to receive a holiday package from them containing a calendar and samples of wine. Class act all the way - thanks!

Lodi Wine

Tasting Notes:
m2 Wines 2012 Century Vineyard Zinfandel: grapes from 3 acres of vines planted in 1905; aged 18 months in neutral oak; bright light ruby red; earthy dark plum and cassis aromas; tart cherry, dark plum, herb and dark cherry flavors; 14% ABV; cork closure; 245 cases produced; SRP $18. Fantastic pizza wine, though food-friendly in a broad enough way to pair with many options. 
Markus Wine Company 2013 Nimmo: 69% Kerner, 11% Gewürztraminer, 10% Riesling, 10% Bacchus from the Mokelumne Glen Vineyards; native yeast fermentation in steel, then oak; aged 9 months in 60% new French and American oak; beautiful light yellow color; white flowers, subtle tropical and citrus, and a bit of spice on the nose; citrus, limestone, lychee, and spice notes on the palate; 13.6% ABV; cork closure; 200 cases produced; SRP $22. Suggested pairing by the winemakers: a decadent Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Cordon Bleu bathing in cream sauce or a cheese triple crème, sounds delightful to me. The included Bacchus grape makes the 131st varietal in my list for the Wine Century Club.
Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Faust Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2012

Faust Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2012

Agustin Huneeus is a legend in the winemaking world - for all of the wines he has produced, the underlying premise has been that great wines must be a reflection of a great vineyard. With Faust Wine, he takes a different tact -- this wine is a tribute to Napa Valley’s noblest grape. He seeks out Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from his family-owned vineyards in Rutherford and Coombsville, plus small lots from spectacular mountain and valley terroirs in Yountville, Mount Veeder, Atlas Peak and St. Helena. Crafted by Charles Thomas of Quintessa, the Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.

Last year I got to taste the 2011 version of this wine, so it's neat to look back at my tasting notes and see the differences. The biggest immediate difference is in the varietal composition: the 2011 featured 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc, while the 2012 has 80% Cabernet, 16% Merlot, 2% Cab Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. Both feature hand-picked grapes, double-sorted and crushed, then cold-soaked and fermented in both French oak and stainless steel tanks. Both were aged for 19 months in 100% French oak, 30% new. The 2012 does come in a little less expensive, at $50 versus the 2011's $60.

A deep ruby red color, the nose is redolent with red plum, blackberry, dark cherry, cocoa and tobacco aromas. Flavors of blackberries, cocoa, dark cherry, plums, and blueberries. Lush, layered, complex, in a word, fantastic. Buy many to drink now, cellar, and watch this wine develop over time.

Sample provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

KIBO Junmai Saké

KIBO Junmai Saké
"KIBO (key-bo) means “hope” in Japanese. The earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 completely destroyed the Suisen Shuzo Saké Brewery, the producers of KIBO Saké, and tragically took the lives of seven of their employees. With much passion and preserverance the saké brewery was rebuilt and the company resumed saké production the following year. The spirit of Suisen brewery lives on in its KIBO Junmai Saké."
Being a complete saké novice,  I still enjoy how it challenges my palate and makes me grope for descriptors, aroma and flavor alike. When I received this sample from Saké One, I was immediately taken by the cute little can's design (by Swig Studio), with its nod to the fishing community that had been destroyed by the tsunami.

Through Saké One and Charles Communications, I've had the good fortune to taste a variety of sakés over the last few years, some that I've loved, some that just haven't fit my palate (hmmm, just like wine!). I will say that this is one of my favorites to date, maybe the most wine-like I've tried. Incredibly soft mouthfeel, this has very subtle citrus and green grass aromas, with subtle citrus and green melon flavors, ending with a tangy finish that's unexpected but just right. At $5.99 for a 180 mL can, this saké is the perfect thing to bring along on a picnic or other alfresco outing, though it tasted just fine with a roast chicken at the dinner table.

Sample provided for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bodega Trivento Reserve Collection

Bodega Trivento Reserve Collection

Argentina's largest and best-known wine region is Mendoza, with many wineries producing quality wines that go well with a varieties of food, perhaps best with beef options. The Bodega Trivento Reserve Collection is an inexpensive way to taste wines from the region, being made up of four bottlings: Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, a Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend, and a Torrontés.
"Three winds leave their mark in TRIVENTO. Guided by the capricious god of wind EOLO, the Polar, Zonda and Sudestada winds bestow exceptional qualities for winegrowing on the Mendozan terroir. TRIVENTO works to ensure their vineyards flourish, grow and mature with the rhythm of nature. This is the origin of the grapes that become Trivento Reserve."
Tasting Notes:
Cabernet Sauvignon-Malbec 2013: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon/50% Malbec; 20 days of separate fermentation in stainless steel tanks; separately aged in French oak barrels for 6 months, then assemblage is bottle aged for 6 months; deep ruby red; dark plum, red berry, and slight herbal aromas; dark plum, dark cherry, pomegranate and vanilla flavors; nice smoky finish; integrated but noticeable tannins, good acidity; 14% ABV; cork closure; SRP $11.

Malbec 2013: hand picked; 20 days of fermentation in stainless steel tanks; aged in French oak barrels for 6 months, then bottle for 5 months; bright garnet red; earth, plum, and red berry aromas; dark plum, dark berry, cola and vanilla flavors; 14% ABV; cork closure; SRP $11.
Wines received for review purposes - all opinions are my own.

Like 50 States Of Wine on Facebook
Follow 50 States Of Wine on Twitter
Subscribe to the 50 States Of Wine YouTube channel