Sunday, October 31, 2010

Organic Wines of Chile


In March of this year I reviewed a few Carmenere wines from Chile and although they were not that bad, they still were not wines I personally would order when dining out or even buy as an everyday table wine. That left me still searching for some Chilean wines to add to my growing list of favorites. Now, thanks to Banfi Vintners, I have added three very nice red wines from Emiliana Vineyards of Valle del Maipo, Chile.
 *Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks at Banfi Vintners.
A few weeks ago I received three red wines, an Eco-Balance Carmenere, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  The first opened was the Carmenere, a blend of 85% Carmenere and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was time to try again as my daughter Pam just used the last of my Banfi Chianti Reserva to make a special tomato sauce for our Sunday evening dinner.  The sauce is made from the residue of tomatoes used to make paste.  Shirley just canned about 12 containers of tomato paste which leaves enough for a few gallons of tomato juice and a pot full of juicy pulp for a sauce.  Pam's main additional ingredient is marjoram.  She also added meatballs made from ground turkey and Italian meatballs made from beef, pork and veal.  I opened the Carmenere for just an afternoon sip, but after a few swallows I knew I'd keep this one on the table for dinner.
Aromas of cherry and plum with hints of chocolate and not as smokey as the earlier reviewed Carmeneres were pleasant.  The Eco-Balance was smoother, well balanced and finished long with a little pepper. It was amazingly great with the sauce and the Italian meatballs.  This Carmenere was a hit and now a new favorite on my list.
A few nights later with a meal of pork chops, whipped potatoes and sauerkraut I opened the Merlot, a blend of 89% Merlot and 11% Syrah.  Again the aromas were very nice.  Lots of berry aromas with some clove or green pepper and a hint of vanilla leading to a smooth flavor filled taste and a very long smooth finish.  Excellent pairing with the pork, but not so much with the kraut, but then again I have yet to find any wine I like with kraut. I also had some left that I poured the next night after work and found it to be fantastic.  Definitely the best Chilean wine I have had to date.
Finally, this week, after work, I opened the Cabernet Sauvignon, a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Syrah.  This was not opened for any food, but just to enjoy as I wind down from a day at work.  I did have a bowl of 'fat free' chocolate ice cream along with the wine which was a nice match.
The aromas were very typical Cab/Sauv dark fruit, plum, some pepper and clove with a touch oak.  It was a good wine at a good price ($9), but not comparable to what I found in California or French Cab/Sauv's. Still it was a nice wine for sipping and I would not be against trying with a beef roast or a beef stew.

Eco-Balance is a collection of high quality, sustainably farmed wines created for relaxed everyday enjoyment.
Healthy grapes, beautiful vineyards teeming with life, thoughtful packaging and an earth-friendly ethos are the source of inspiration behind Eco-Balance from Emilian, the worlds single largest source of estate grown organic wines. All Eco-Balance wines originate in sustainably farmed vineyards in transition to full organic status. Synthetic pesticides and herbicides are shunned in favor of natural remedies that inspire life and biodiversity.
Eco-Balance wines are available in major metropolitan markets throughout the U.S. and are projected to retail for an affordable $9 a bottle.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Regional Wine Week 2010

Last year during regional wine week, I was able to taste (and consume a bit) some of my favorite wines from the nearby Finger Lakes.  This year, although I planned for more, did not turn out as well as I would have liked. A bit under the weather and a big change in my drinking habits, because of my recent heart surgery, I was still planning on tasting some wines from some of the other regions in New York.
That was accomplished, but not without some disappointment.
On a recent visit to New York City, my wife was able to find some wines from Long Island and I was anticipating more than what I got.
First, I do not understand the fact that Shirley had to visit five wine shops in the Tribeca and Soho areas of Manhattan before finding any wines from Long Island and the two that she brought home where from two different wineries owned by the same family.  You would think that LI wines would be more readily available in Manhattan.
Secondly, I was disappointed in both the wines Shirley found.  I don't post articles on wines I don't favor so I will just say that I will get back to Long Island in the spring.  You can't judge the terroir on just one or two selections and they were my first two LI wines.
The big surprise, at least for me, was a wine from the Hudson Valley region.  This one I was not expecting much, but the Empire Red from the Hudson-Chatham winery was a hit.  A blend of Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc, Long Island Merlot and Hudson Valley Baco Noir delivered pleasant aromas, a very nice mouth and a long, dry, fruit filled and smooth finish.
I finished Regional Wine Week with one of my favorites, an Atwater Estate Vineyard Syrah. Syrah is one grape I would like to see more of in the Finger Lakes. I have tasted three to date and have not be disappointed in any one of them.
Regional Wine Week was the brain child of Dave McIntyre, wine critic for the Washington Post and Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon blog writer.  This was year number three and I am now looking forward to RWW 2011.  Maybe next year I'll try Jeff Siegel's regional wine. How about that Jeff, send me some of Texas's finest, I'll send you some of New York's.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Glen Ellen Proprietor's Reserve Petite Sirah 2007 from Concannon

A few weeks ago I received two bottles of Glen Ellen wine and my first thoughts were 'why?'  I haven't seen Glen Ellen in sometime and maybe that was because I very seldom check out the shelf with the $3 wines on it.
I do remember associating that label with the cheap, I did not say inexpensive but cheap wines found near the gallon jugs and other wines kept on hand for the local winos.  To add to this disillusionment was the fact that both bottles were 1.5 Liters, another cheap wine association.  I recieved a Chardonnay and a Petite Sirah.  I decided to take the Petite Sirah to my son's lounge, pay a corkage fee and share with a few friends.  I felt pretty comfortable that this was a so-so wine, I just sipped and swallowed as soon as it was poured.  That was a mistake. My first taste was peppery anise.  My buddy Mark on the other hand did the swirling thing, sniffed and swirled some more and swished a small sip before swallowing.  His reaction was a bit surprising.  "This is not a bad wine" was his first comment.  "Some cherry, a little blueberry and plum" he said.  I then followed suit and swirled the hell out it, then let it sit before swirling again and took some quick sniffs then tasted.  He was right and I hate when he's right.
Glen Ellen brand has undergone a transformation.  They are now partners with Concannon Vineyard and the Concannon family, and benefit from their stat-of-the-art winemaking facilities and access to Central Coast sources of fruit.
The vineyards that surround the Glen Ellen house produced America's first Petite Syrah in 1961 and the Concannon family has produce Petite Sirah ever since.

*Disclaimer: I received this wine as a sample from the PR folks representing the brand.

Winemakers Notes:
Our Glen Ellen Petite Sirah is barrel-aged and full-flavored with aromas of black cherry, plum and a hint of spice, with a smooth, silky finish.  This wine is also the only Petite Sirah available in a 1.5L magnum, perfect for entertaining and the holidays.

My Notes:
The aromas were more berry (blackberry, blueberry) with hints of licorice and leather. I got more of the plum and licorice or anise in the mouth and on the mid range finish. (not too short, not that long). I had the wine with what is becoming my regular Saturday night snack, a chicken quesadilla with plenty of jalapenos covered with salsa and guacamole.  The wine held up pretty good with the peppery quesadilla, but was much better sipping afterward.

The suggested price on the 1.5L magnum is $9.99, but I did see on line for $7.49.  That is very inexpensive and well worth that price.  Maybe the best Petite Sirah you'll find under $5 for a standard 750ml bottle.