White Wines of Lake County

Shannon Ridge, Lake County, Sauvignon Blanc 2010 Citrus is the theme throughout the nose and on the palate, crisp and refreshing. Fermented in stainless and bottled under a screwcap closure. Vinted and bottled in Geyserville 13.5% and available for $26 at the Blue Wing in Upper Lake Shannon RidgeDetails on the next vintage

Wildhurst, Lake County, Reserve, Chardonnay 2010 This is a classic rich style of Chardonnay, exhibiting butteriness and freshly split oak. Proprietor Myron Holdenried and winemaker Mark Burch. Produced and bottled under a screwcap closure in Kelseyville 13.8% $24 at the Blue Wing Wildhurst

Shooting Star, Lake County, Riesling 2010 The new vintage gives a reprise performance of the ’08 and ’09: the nose features plenty of peaches with sweet floral notes while in the mouth the stone fruit is complemented by a moderate amount of residual sugar. Produced and bottled by owner and winemaker Jed Steele in Kelseyville 13.5% $26 at the Blue Wing Steele Wines

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Napa Cellars Dyer Vineyard Syrah 2009

Napa Cellars, Carneros, Dyer Vineyard, Syrah 2009 This is a sweet smelling Syrah, forecasting ripe fruit on the palate. That comes through without a doubt, with loads of berries and a very supple texture.

A bonus to the experience is the sense of acidity thatSyrah showcases the fruit, as you can find with other wines made from grapes grown in the Carneros. The acidity will carry this wine on into dinner, making it equally compelling with grilled salmon. I wish it was warm enough to break out the barbecue tonight.

The vineyard is situated on a northwest hillside in the Carneros. The wine was aged in French oak, 54% new, for 18 months. Vinted and bottled in St. Helena 13.5% $28 at the winery, a media sample Napa Cellars

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St. Rose Pinot Noir 2099

St. Rose, Russian River Valley, Nunes Vineyard, Ten Block, Pinot Noir 2009 The nose St. Rose in the Russian River Valleyfeatures cherries and raspberries – ebulliently fruity and graced with a touch a vanilla. In the mouth the theme of fresh Pinot fruit continues on a very silky texture. I think that is what is so compelling about this wine, a supple texture that allows you to enjoy the flavors without delay.

Proprietors Wendy and Fred Nunes. Produced and bottled in Santa Rosa 14.6% available online from the winery for $38, a media sample.

St. Rose Winery

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Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc 2010

Lake and Mendocino County fruitBonterra, 58% Lake County, 42% Mendocino County, Sauvignon Blanc 2010 The nose is a full-on experience of citrus, as in a slice fresh grapefruit and a wedge of lemon. The flavors follow suit in the mouth with the zippiness that you would expect. This Sauvigon is crisp and refreshing.

The wine is fermented in stainless and the RS is 4.7 grams per liter, an amount that skillfully rounds out the palate and amplifies the fruit.

The grapes behind this wine are Sauvignon Blanc with a touch of Muscat and Chardonnay, 100% organically grown. Winemaker Robert Blue. Produced and bottled under a screwcap closure in Hopland 13.2% suggested retail in the United States is $13.99, a media sample. Bonterra

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Pierre Sparr Cremant d’Alsace

traditional sparkling from AlsacePierre Sparr, Cremant d’Alsace, Brut, Reserve The nose features sweet flowers, a perfumed character, with pears and apples.  In the mouth there is a soft impression, fruity with moderate acidity – nicely crafted as an aperitif.

The grapes behind this wine are 90% Pinot Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir.  This bubbly is produced in the traditional method, as one would over in nearby Champagne. Elabore par Maison Pierre Sparr Successeurs a Sigolsheim 12% a media sample listed on Amazon.com for $15.99 Pierre Sparr

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Glenugie Gamay Noir 2005

We recently enjoyed a mature wine from Beaujolais so I thought it a good idea that we try a wine from the cellar made from the same grape in the New World. Some years ago we enjoyed a week’s holiday in the Okanagan and the memory is still vivid – wine, food and spectacular scenery.

Glenugie, Okanagan Valley, Barrel Aged, Gamay Noir 2005 This mature Gamay sports black pepper, mushroom, forest floor and dried currants in the nose. In the mouth, the wine is light-bodied, fruity and acidic, with a soft caress of tannin.

Produced by Glenugie Winery in Langley, BC 13.5% a gift of a friend, listed at $18.90 per bottle retail Glenugie Winery

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d’Arenberg Custodian 2009

d’Arenberg, McLaren Vale, The Custodian, Grenache 2009 The nose features d'Arenberg Custodian Grenachesweet, lolly-like berry notes that follow through in the mouth. The flavor profile is driven by the fruit, emphasizing the grapes in the vineyard while the texture is quite silky with a little warmth – very nice.

The wine was aged in older American and French oak barrels for 9 months. Winemaker Chester Osborn. Grown, produced and bottled in McLaren Vale, 15% a media sample, available online for $20 at Old Bridge Cellars.

Visit the winery online at d’Arenberg.  Visit them in South Australia if you are in the neighborhood.  They’re not far from Adelaide and the range of wines is quite delicious. Though I’m naturally biased after my visit to the cellar door during my stint at Uni Adelaide, they really do have a wide range of fans around the world – it’s not just me waiving the flag.

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Pellegrino Marsala

During my visit to Pellegrino I had the opportunity to learn first-hand about one of Europe’s most famous fortified wines, Marsala. While the market has faded and consumer interest in these wines has waned, a few producers soldier on making traditional and powerful, fortified wines.

While many have come to learn of Marsala by opening something cheap and cheerful to enhance a sauce, the stars of this seaside town are dry and profound, like the best Amontillado from Jerez de la Frontera.

Below are the notes on my favorite wine of the visit, from a vintage three decades ago.

Pellegrino, Vino Marsala a Vergine, Riserva Annata 1981 The wine is deceptively sweet-appearing, with smells of butterscotch, caramel and almonds.  Yet in the mouth it becomes abundantly clear that this wine is dry.  The sense of nuttiness and caramel follows through with a little warmth and a smooth texture – very nice.

The grapes behind this wine are Grillo and Catarratto grown in Marsala and Mazara del Vallo in the province of Trapani. The wine was recently bottled, in 2010 and the sample tasted has the bottling code# 1028601. 19% available for 43.68 euros at extraWine.com Cantine Pellegrino

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The Wines of Donnafugata

During our recent trip to Sicily I had the opportunity to visit with the team at Donnafugata Donnafugata estatesboth on the main island in Marsala and on the small and windswept island of Pantelleria.

The wines run the spectrum from fresh, aromatic whites to full-bodied reds, finishing with a selection of dessert wines made from Zibibbo.  Quality is consistent throughout the wines and the three production facilities at Contessa Entellina, Marsala and Khamma on Pantelleria.

Following are notes on three of my favorites across the range available. If you have a moment you must visit the winery’s website to see the ingenious wine and music pairings that they have created.  Proprietor Jose Rallo passionately matches music with the family’s wines, to create an experience for all of your senses. Tasting in Jazz

Anthilia labelDonnafugata, Sicilia Bianco IGP, Anthilia 2011 This wine is quite fresh, showing a Viognier-like smell of fresh peaches in the nose.  In the mouth it is soft and fruity with a light frame of acidity – a signature of long, fresh fruit.

The grapes behind this wine are primarily Catarratto and Ansonica. 12.5% and the previous vintage is still retailing for $14.99 online at wine.com.  I would expect a similar price point when the new vintage becomes available in the United States.

Donnafugata, Sicilia Rosso IGP, Tancredi 2007 This wine was tasted on Donnafugata Tancredithree occasions.  The first opportunity was solo in a formal tasting at the winery.  The second and third were over two successive dinners. The Tancredi is approachable enough to enjoy solo but really pops with roasted meats and the time to see how the wine opens over two hours.  It is dense and structured with lively black fruit.  Yet the tannins are ripe and velvety making it drinkable straight away.

The grapes behind this wine are 70% Nero d’Avoloa and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon grown on the estae in Contessa Entellina. 13.5% and available for $38.74 at the Saratoga Wine Exchange.

Donnafugata KabirDonnafugata, Moscato di Pantelleria, Kabir 2010 The nose features the delight of Muscat, its orange blossoms abounding.  In the mouth the sweetness of the fruit is balanced by dynamic acidity that goes on at great length. My tasting notes included this:  adult ginger ale.  I so enjoyed ginger ale as a young boy growing up in Pittsburgh.

Great Moscatos rekindle this memory for me. And this particular wine, with about 100 grams per litre residual sugar and plenty of acidity, will make a delicious pairing when we next serve fresh berries, after dinner, on a warm summer evening.

The grapes behind this wine are Zibibbo, a.k.a. Moscato d’Alessandria, grown on the windswept island of Pantelleria in higher elevation vineyards with yields of 1.62 tons per acre. Fermentation is all done in stainless and the wine is aged for 4-18 months, depending on the vintage.

During our visit to Pantelleria in early March we had the opportunity to taste the new vintage 2011 in tank, prior to bottling. The purity of the grape’s expression was just amazing. 11.5% and available at slurp.co.uk for 26.55 pounds sterling for a 750ml bottle.  Visit the winery at Donnafugata

Posted in Ansonica, Cabernet Sauvignon, Catarratto, Italy, Moscato di Pantelleria, Muscat, Nero d'Avola, Pantelleria, Sicilia | Tagged | Leave a comment

Wine Business Management Online

Greetings everyone,

We had a great sensory seminar over the weekend with Pat Henderson of Kenwood and David Sandri of Wine Secrets.  Next up is an online tour of wine business management with Tim Hanni.  The application deadline is quickly approaching so check it out now if you want to get on board.

Wine Business Management online A new cohort is forming for the spring semester and applications are being accepted through this Friday, February 3.  This new certificate program kicked off in the fall and concluded with great feedback on the four-week foundation level course taught by Tim Hanni.  Here are a few of the comments from students in the inaugural group:

“Like any business there is a foundation of knowledge needed in the wine business that is particular to this industry. This course set the relevant expectations and provides a good foundation of understanding the complexities and financial resources needed to participate.” – Rickey Trombetta, Trombetta Family Wines

“As someone looking to make a career change and enter the wine industry I was looking for a reputable and flexible way to gain some necessary education. The online SSU Wine Business Management Foundation Level was the perfect start. It provided me with an understanding of what it takes to produce a wine and bring it to market.  Tim Hanni is a fantastic instructor and offers in-depth industry  knowledge while encouraging students to look at issues from multiple points of view. The course has fueled my interest in the industry even more and I look forward to the next level.” – Jeff Zielinski

“This is an invaluable course in helping wineries understand how the variables in making wine affect profitability.” – Karen Heintz, Charles Heintz Vineyards

For more information about this certificate program or to apply online visit Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute Professional Programs

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