Sunday, December 30, 2012

Michel Torino Estate Don David Malbec Reserve 2009

I thought I was finished posting reviews for 2012, but I received a bottle of wine for a Xmas gift from a good friend and a one time submitter to Why Wine Blog. I opened the wine on Saturday with a tray full of veggies and cheese bits and sat down to watch Syracuse University football (The Pinstripe Bowl) followed by SU basketball.  A few sips and I realized I should have saved this wine for an exquisite dinner of lamb, roasted chicken or a savory beef tenderloin.
Aromas were filled with dark cherry, black currants, plum and hints of toast and smoked ham.  On the palate there were flavors of black cherry, blackberry and vanilla with black pepper. I waited about two hours until I poured a second glass.  The aromas were softer and the black pepper in the mouth gave way to a softer spice.  The finish was long, dry with some pepper and spice.
Entrance Michel Torino Estate
This is the first Argentinian Malbec that I tasted outside of Mendoza.  The vineyards of Michel Torino are located at the high altitude of 5,500 feet above sea level in the Cafayate Valley and Calchaqui Valley in NW Argentina.  The vines benefit from a very special climate with clean Andean air, warm sunny days and cool nights, allowing the grapes to reach perfect maturity while retaining vivid fruit flavors. The estate practices sustainable, environmentally friendly farming by minimizing the use of fertilizers and chemicals in the vineyard and winery.
You can find this wine on-line or at many local wine shops between $12 and $15, making this wine an outstanding value.  Very Highly Recommended
p.s. Thank you Mark, you win this years wine exchange. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Treleaven Semi-Dry Riesling 2011


I think that this was the first Christmas that I did not open more red wines than white.  In fact, this year I did not open any red wines.  Maybe I was just hesitant because of a recurring ulcer that doesn't tolerate the reds as well as the whites or maybe I am loosing my taste for red wine or maybe I'm just getting paranoid here.  The most obvious reason is that with a dwindling family size, Christmas dinner is no longer the big extravaganza that it was in the past.  Turkey, ham, lasagna and a tenderloin with all the trimmings imaginable with a choice of four or five desserts all served after a ton of hors d'oeuvres was once the norm.  Now we make it more simple, but still a little special.  This year, for a change, we served Cornish hens, with potatoes, carrots, brussels sprouts, cranberries and corn.  Not a real challenge for a wine pairing, especially since I was leaving out some of my favorite red wines.  An early afternoon Sauvignon Blanc was opened with appetizers of cheese bits, pepperoni slices and a veggie tray and assorted dips and for dinner I opened a white wine that I picked up on our recent Holiday Shopping Spree on Cayuga Lake; a King Ferry Winery Treleaven semi-dry Riesling 2011 ($14).

King Ferry Winery, maker of Treleaven Wines, is superbly located on the east side of Cayuga Lake. The winery produces multiple award winning Treleaven Wines, including Chardonnays that are crafted in the centuries-old Burgundian tradition.
Although I have never before visited the wineries on the East side of Cayuga Lake, I have tasted a few wines from the King Ferry Winery.  Every Saturday morning you can find Treleaven wines at the Central New York Regional Market.  Shirley is usually good enough to make me tag along at least once a month and it was there I bought my first few bottles of Treleaven. Nice to have a place to buy a nice wine for the week end in the early morning hours on Saturday in CNY.
This 2011 Riesling is full of floral, peach, honeydew melon and pear aromas.  In the mouth there was loads of fruit with some light grapefruit citrus. Excellent match with the Cornish hens and I was able to save a glass for later that evening.  This is another fine example of Finger Lakes quality when it comes to Riesling.  Very Highly Recommended.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bodegas Bilbainas Viña Zaco Tempranillo 2010

Had to open a red wine with pasta and homemade tomato sauce this week and there just happened to be a new sample bottle, on the table, of Tempranillo from Spain that I had just received.  Usually when I receive samples, they are racked until I feel the time is right or the meal is right for pairing before I open them.  This time it was only about one hour before opening a Viña Zaco Tempranillo 2010 ($15).
Tempranillo, a red grape native to Spain and the primary grape variety used in the Rioja Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOC), produces wines typically characterized by their deep purple color, fruity notes of dark, ripe berries, and smoky components of vanilla, tobacco and leather, which are generally present due to the wine being aged in oak barrels.
Zaco is not constrained by the rules of the traditional aging process. It is neither a Crianza nor a Reserva. Zaco is simply ready when award-winning international winemaker Diego Pinilla believes the wine is reaching its full potential. Every year Diego will identify the perfect moment to bottle Zaco.

-Crianza red wines are aged for 2 years with at least 6 months in oak. Crianza whites and rosés must be aged for at least 1 year with at least 6 months in oak.

-Reserva red wines are aged for at least 3 years with at least 1 year in oak. Reserva whites and rosés must be aged for at least 2 years with at least 6 months in oak.

The 2010 vintage matured in 50% French oak and 50% American oak for 9 months.
The color was a dark cherry red with aromas of plum, red cherries and hints of vanilla and some cinnamon.  Flavors of ripe cherry, plum, spice, toast and smoke in the mouth with a super long finish with just a touch of spice. An excellent wine for pasta and sauce. Other foods that will pair well would be tapas, grilled chicken and BBQ meats.  I would also recommend just sipping or chilling out with a few bites of light cheeses.

Suggested retail price on this new release is $15.  Past vintages can be found at $10 or less, making this an outstanding value.

    Thursday, December 13, 2012

    A Red and White from Jefferson Vinyards

    In October of this year, Shirley and I spent a week in Virginia Beach attending a reunion of the ship I spent my Naval active duty on, the USS Pocono AGC/LCC-16. While there I visited a few wine shops and a few wineries on the Chesapeake Wine Trail.  I was already sold on Virginia Viognier(vee-own-YAY) from past visits, so this time I wanted to bring home a few red wines.  From recommendations at the wine shops, I brought home some Cabernet Franc and a Norton.  Norton was first cultivated in Richmond, Virginia and is the official grape of the State of Missouri.  I haven't opened the Norton yet, but I did finish the Cab Francs.  The first three were very disappointing.  Something about East Coast red wines I often find not to my liking.  Right from the start, I get a lot of aroma's of damp soil and black olives and although drinkable, I can't rightfully say much more.
    That changed this week when I opened the Jefferson Vineyards' NV Cabernet Franc($22).  This was not a very typical Cabernet Franc, but was a nice fruit flavored, soft wine that paired well with Shirley's chicken stew.  Light aromas of red cherry with a little oak and earth.  Very fruity in the mouth with cherries and some plum.  The finish was a bit short with some red fruit, a small taste of cranberry and soft. This wine is not going to blow you away, but it was pleasant and I can, at least now, get a bit more excited about trying more Virginia reds. 

    I have never been to the Charlottesville region of Virginia, although I moved to New York from Arlington VA and did travel much of the Commonwealth while living there, but now I must make plans for a summer visit, if only to visit the Jefferson Vineyards'.  Not because the Cab Franc, but in October, Shirley and I fell in love with the Jefferson Vineyards' Viognier.
    Our first evening in VaBeach we dined at a restaurant on the boardwalk. Since we have been vacationing there, Mahi Mah's oceanfront restaurant at 6th street has become our favorite and we tend to visit there as soon as we arrive.  What was very pleasing to see this time, was a selection of over 20 Virginia wines on the menu.  May have been because October is Virginia's Wine Month,  but nonetheless, I don't recall seeing anything similar here in New York.  Here I had the Bronzed Salmon rubbed with cajun seasoning and brown sugar, then grilled. I paired the salmon with a 2009 Jefferson Viognier.  Color was a golden yellow, showing a little age, but still filled with floral, tropical fruits and peach.  A very delightful meal, but I was still wanting more of this wine and I found it on our last night out.
    dinner at Tautog's
    While visiting the Virginia Beach Aquarium and Marine Science Center a volunteer at the Aquarium recommended a restaurant one block from the beach on 23rd St., Tautogs Restaurant at Winston's Cottage.  On the wine menu was a 2009 Jefferson Vineyards Viognier, which was a mis-print, because they were serving the 2011 vintage at a very nicely priced $34.  I immediately knew what wine I was ordering and matched it with fresh local Tuna Martinique - Fresh Tuna marinated in Lime with Cracked Black Pepper, Garlic, Olive Oil, and Zesty Red Onions.  I honestly cannot say which was better, the wine or the food.
    The color of the wine was a lot clearer than the '09 and filled with aromas of honeysuckle, peach, apricot and some guava/papaya like aroma.  The palate was coated with hints of apple, tropical fruits and honey leading to a thick rich velvety finish.  Unlike the Cab Franc, this wine will blow you away. I can safely say that Viognier is my favorite Virginia wine and I  will be back for more.

    Jefferson Vineyards is one of the first to introduce quality, modern viticulture to Virginia and at long last help realize Thomas Jefferson’s dream of the native production of wine in Virginia. Through thirty years of experience, this modest farm winery offers select wines of superior quality.  They produce between 6000 and 8000 cases annually. The wines they offer you are entirely of Virginia. The grapes are grown here on their property and in select sites across the Commonwealth.  They do not buy fruit from outside Virginia, nor do they  use any commercial concentrates or additives to intensify their wines. These choices are consistent with their values, and they believe they are true to Jefferson's original vision of winemaking in Virginia. Further, they believe these choices create a better bottle of wine and I am not going to argue with that.

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    Christmas Shopping On Cayuga Lake Wine Trail

    Last weekend Shirley, Pam and I spent the day traveling the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, in the New York Finger Lakes region, while participating in their annual Holiday Shopping Spree, taking  home a souvenir wineglass, a grapevine wreath, a collectible Cayuga Wine Trail ornament from each winery, plus holiday recipes. The tour also allowed us to complete much of our Christmas gift shopping in the wineries' gift shops.  This season we made an effort to shop almost entirely at small local businesses like the winery shops and the many local shops in the village of Skaneateles, a week earlier, while attending their annual Dickens' Christmas.

    We started the shopping spree early Saturday morning at the Montezuma Winery, which is located at the West side and northern end of the Lake along Rte's 5 & 20, traveled down the west side of the lake and finished at 6pm at the Long Point Winery on the east side completing the day by visiting all 16 participating wineries.  Shirley was our designated driver and designated shopper, although Pam and I did help with the shopping.  Well at least Pam helped.  I did promise that I would not be buying much wine on this trip, so Shirley brought only two of my six bottle wine bags, which meant I took home most of the wine in boxes.  Had a hard time convincing her that three cases of wine is not really that much. 

    All of my day was spent tasting wine and some fantastic recipes at each winery.  Among them were some pleasant surprises.
    Surprise pairings included the Cranberry Orange Bread with Montezuma's Cranberry Bog wine.  If you are like me and not really into fruit wines like Cranberry, then maybe you are just not matching it with the right food.  This was a great start to our day along with a taste of a hot Bloody Mary from Montezuma's Hidden Marsh Distillery.
    A second favorite pairing of the day was the Pasta and Bean soup with the Ithaca White blend from Six Mile Creek Vineyard.  We were thinking about skipping this winery, because it was located south of Ithaca and a bit out of the way, but very happy we decided not to.

    As always, when touring the Finger Lakes Wine Trails, I do tend to bring home a few cases of wine.  Most of the wines were 2011 Rieslings, but I did find some nice reds and other whites to fill the rack.  Among them was a Viognier from Goose Watch Winery.  This is a wine I fell in love with on my last trip to Virginia and I found that there are only two or three Finger Lakes wineries producing this wine.  Another very nice wine and new to my palate was Cobblestone Farm Winery & Vineyard's 2011 Vignoles Reserve. Although very sweet, I paired it with a cheese dip being served and had to bring a few home. Other white wines now in my rack are a Diamond from Thirsty Owl Wine Company and a Gewurztraminer from Americana Vineyards.   Found these and lots of Rieslings, most notably at King Ferry Winery, Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery, Buttonwood Grove Winery and Knapp Winery along with a Limoncello from Knapp. Added to these were two surprising red wines from Long Point Winery, a Sangiovese and a Zinfandel and a pleasant Cabernet Franc from Sheldrake Point Vineyards.

    The day wasn't all about wine, though.  I did introduce myself to hard cider at Bellwether Hard Cider.  Think I found a nice accompaniment for Shirley's chili and many of her pork dishes.  This nice light fermented beverage is low in alcohol and will make a nice summer thirst quencher. And, I can never leave Cayuga Lake with out some Swedish Hill Winery Concord grape juice and Glendale Farms organic grape juice that I picked up at Hosmer Winery. 

    There were a few mild disappointments. Although all the recipes and food tastings were great, there seemed to be too many dessert type samples.  The three of us agreed that there should be a few more entrée samples.  Finally, Shirley and Pam were expecting a lot more local artisans or locally made gift items and crafts in the shops.  Sounds like a suggestion for next year!!  Anyway, we will be back on Cayuga Lake in the summer and looking forward to the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail Home Shopping Spree 2013.