10th Anniversary Grand Tasting Wines

Posted by on Oct 25, 2011 in Wine Blog | 0 comments

Station One

Loca Linda,
La Rioja, Argentina
2011 Torrontes
2010 Malbec
Liter bottle

Loca Linda translates loosely to ‘crazy beautiful’. In Mendoza it’s a compliment meaning “crazy in a good way”. Loca Linda is an appreciation of all people, places, and things that are crazy in a good way. The result of this inspiration and search for Loca Linda is the first release of these handcrafted value wines. Loca Linda is the mission of Brian Smith, the Wine Director of Clo Wine Bar at the Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle.

The most important viticulture area in La Rioja, Chilecito, is located in the western part of the province, at the base of the Sierra Famatina. The valley offers optimum conditions for the growing of Torrontes. The vineyards lie about 911m above sea level with sandy textured alluvial soils over beds of pebbles.

The ground has an alluvial origin and the texture is a sandy topsoil over small pebbles which is optimal for the cultivation of Malbec. Soils are slightly alkaline and with a low level of organic material. This makes for excellent drainage and moderate vine stress. 30% of the Malbec juice is aged in French oak.

2009 Cotes du Rhone – Belleruche
Chapoutier, Rhone, France

Michel Chapoutier has vineyards in Hermitage in the Northern Rhone but for this simple Cotes du Rhone, he buys grapes from growers near Sablet and Seguret in the Southern Rhone. The wine was raised in stainless steel with no oak contact. Belleruche is a blend of Grenache (80%) and Syrah (20%). After handpicking at the peak of ripeness, extended maceration (up to 15 days) and natural fermentation give this wine its rich color and mouthfeel, freshness on the nose, and red berry fruit and structure in the mouth.

Michel loves to serve this wine at Sunday lunch: its perfect balance of natural fruit flavors from the Grenache and the structure, spiciness, and gentle tannins from the Syrah make it an excellent pairing for a wide variety of dishes, from roast chicken and pork to grilled and roast lamb (the ideal pairing).

2008 Chianti Classico
Castello d’Albola, Radda in Chianti, Italy

The Castello d’Albola estate is at Radda in Chianti. The oldest building at the estate, the Cassero di Albola, dates back to the 12th century, when it was the property of the noble magnates of Monterinaldi. Radda is located about halfway between Florence and Siena. The soil is principally clay, with good drainage and an excellent capacity for retaining and then yielding nutritive elements to the vines. The property comprises 2,100 acres of which 388 acres are vineyards, split up among various plots of land. The vineyard takes full advantage of the sunlight that bathes the estate’s south-facing hillside vineyards, thus guaranteeing excellent ripening of the grapes.

2009 Chateau de Bel
Bordeaux, France

Chateau de Bel features a team that we are very familiar with. Olivier Cazenave and his wife Anne realized their dream of making their own wine from their own vines in 2003, taking ownership of Château de Bel and 17 acres of old vines Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The wine is made by Jeff Carrel, Winemaker at Puydeval, one of our personal favorites. It is imported by Dan Kravitz, a fabulous purveyor of great value wines predominately from the south of France. The vineyard is nearly 19 acres, planted 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. It is located just across the Dordogne River from Saint-Emilion.

Muscat Rutherglen 
Chambers, Rutherglen, Australia
375 ml Rosewood Vineyards

The Chambers Winery has been a family owned and run business since it was started in 1858. The wine making and care of the “old material” (solera style aged wines) have been handed down from father to son through five generations, and for the last 40 years have rested with Bill Chambers.

The solera style is a wine making method used in the production of Spanish sherry where some of the old wines are drawn off for bottling and then the rest are topped up by wines from the next oldest level and so on. Wines in a solera may be decades or hundreds of years old. This is a mildly fortified wine with the fermentation process being halted early with the addition of small amounts of neutral spirits and then the wine is aged in wood in the solera.

Station Two

Walla Walla, Washington
2010 Riesling
2008 Cabernet Sauvignon

NxNW: North by Northwest, represents wines made from inland grape growing appellations of the Columbia River Basin of Oregon and Washington. The NxNW winemakers have developed strong, creative relationships with growers and fellow winemakers in the Columbia River Appellation and throughout the northwest viticultural region – leading to this innovative project. NxNW captures the essence of terroir, the character of the people, and the quality of the wines from this great new emerging winegrowing region.

The Riesling comes from Horse Heaven Hills, an AVA in southern Washington. The region of almost 600,000 is marked by its cool dry microclimate with persistent drying winds. Some of the finest wines from Washington come from this AVA. Well under 1% residual sugar, this Riesling is made in a very dry style.

The Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of eleven of the finest vineyard sites in Washington including Wallula, Kiona, Pepper Bridge, Seven Hills and Elephant Mountain. The wine includes 10% Merlot in the blend. It is aged 15 months in oak prior to bottling.

2010 Chenin Blanc
Foxen Vineyards, Santa Barbara, California

Bill Wathen and Dick Doré have been making wine together since 1985, when they founded Foxen Winery & Vineyard at the historic Rancho Tinaquaic in northern Santa Barbara County. The winery is named in memory of William Benjamin Foxen, an English sea captain and Dick’s great-great grandfather, who came to Santa Barbara in the early 1800’s.

Bill Wathen was trained by Richard Graff, founder of Chalone Vineyards, so it comes as no surprise that he is a lover of the Chenin Blanc grape. The grapes come from Ernesto Wickendom Vineyard and were planted in 1966. The vineyard was picked twice; once on September 17 and then on October 2. The different levels of sugar in the two harvests give the wine a marvelous sweet/tart balance.

2008 Pinot Noir – Fog Dog
Freestone, Sonoma Coast, California

Freestone is a relatively new enterprise started by Joseph Phelps (of Insignia fame) in the cool climate of Sonoma Coast. The region is perfect for the cultivation of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Like the Napa estate, Phelps is farming the vineyards here biodynamically.

The grapes for this wine come from vineyards located between 5 and 8 miles from the Pacific Ocean (including Pastorale Vineyard, Quarter Moon Vineyard and Ferguson Vineyard). The wine is aged 15 months in 60% new and 40% two to three year-old French oak barrels.

2008 Valpolicella Ripasso – Mara
Cesari, Veneto, Italy

“Mara”, named for the matriarch of the Cesari family, is a classic Valpolicella Superiore di Ripasso. It is produced with a method that is so special as to place it among the most curious and interesting of wines. This Valpolicella is refermented in the month of January on dregs of Amarone, from which it acquires part of its body and fragrance. The refermentation lasts 15/18 days and the Valpolicella wine that has thus been “made over” acquires color, structure, fragrance and tannins, as well as about 1-1.5 percent more in alcoholic level than the original wine.

2008 Merlot Kenefick Vineyard
T-Vine, Napa, California

T-Vine Cellars was founded by Greg Brown and is located in the hills of the little known, but rich vineyard region of Jericho Canyon above the northern part of the valley. This canyon backs right up against the foothills of the tallest mountain in the northern part of Napa Valley – Mt. St. Helena. The T in T-Vine stands for Trinity which represents the body, mind and spirit of anything – in this case producing limited quantity hand crafted wines.

Merlot has never offered such quality for the price. While many turn to Merlot for a soft easy to drink alternative to Cabernet, this baby will destroy the image of Merlot being the lighter little brother to Cab. The wine is aged 11 months in 20% New French Oak and 80% in a variety of one-year-old French and American Oak Barrels.

Station Three

Bodegas Carelli 340
Mendoza, Argentina
2010 Torrontes
2010 Malbec

The building that houses the Carelli winery is over 100 years old. As such it is a blend of the old and new. Concrete vessels lay side by side with modern temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The Carelli family moved to Argentina from their native Piedmont where they had been growing grapes since 1815. Their vineyards are located in the northern part of Mendoza, most of them just south of the Tunuyan River.

Pronounced “Toe-rron-tayz,” with a double Spanish trill on the R if you can handle it, Torrontes originated in Galicia, the northwestern corner of Spain, where it’s still used to make fresh white wines, most of which don’t turn up in the export market but stay at home for casual quaffing.

Malbec originated in France, as a blending grape in Bordeaux and as a stand alone performer in Cahors and the Loire Valley, where it is known as Cot.

A to Z Wineworks,
McMinville, Oregon
2010 Pinot Gris
2009 Pinot Noir

A to Z Wineworks is a most interesting assemblage of people and personalities. The winemaking talent belongs to winery insiders Sam Tannahill and Cheryl Francis, who cut their teeth at Archery Summit and Chahalem respectively and also now have their own venture, Francis Tannahill. The business end includes Deb and Bill Hatcher (Domaine Drouhin, Veritas, Eyrie), an NBA coach, Gregg Popovich and a rocket scientist, Camas Goble. They make for quite a brain trust.

Their viticulturalists work closely with 60 vineyards in all of the Oregon AVA that grow Pinot Noir grapes. The wine was composed and bottled over many months of blending the different cuvees. A multitude of Pinot Noir clones and styles of winemaking are represented as facets in this multidimensional blend. Aged in 100% French Oak for nine months, of which 40% was new, the wine is a great example of the 2009 vintage in Oregon.

Grapes from 26 different vineyards were used to make the 2010 Pinot Gris. The individual components were vinified separately and blended together to make the final assemblage. The malolactic fermentation was blocked in order to preserve freshness.

2007 Pinot Noir – Wildcat Mountain
Talisman, Sonoma, California

Talisman’s goal is very simple: the creation of delicious Pinot Noirs that are true to their roots and accurately reflect their places of origin. Each of Talisman’s vineyards have been selected for their unique site characteristics and potential to convey distinctive and singular terroirs. Emphasis is placed on achieving perfection in the vineyard and preserving the essence of place. Rather than manipulating the wines in the cellar to achieve stylistic goals, each individual vineyard dictates wine style and bottlings are typically a diminutive 200 to 300 cases.

Wildcat Mountain is the highest elevation vineyard in the Los Carneros Appellation of Sonoma.

2009 Malbec
Susanna Balbo, Mendoza, Argentina

Susana Balbo is reputed throughout Argentina and the world for her incredible winemaking skill, experience, and passion. Susana has been making wine since she earned her enology degree in 1981, and she has probably produced a wider variety of wines than any other winemaker in Argentina. She has made wine in Australia, California, Chile, France, Italy, South Africa, and Spain, and she spends a month each year in a different wine region of the world studying with local winemakers and growers.

2005 Port – Late Bottled Vintage
Quinta do Crasto, Portugal

Late Bottled Vintage Port (LBV) is Port made from a single vintage, but held in wood for four to six years, long enough to soften and mellow the wine without fading it to tawny. This makes a relatively affordable wine with a lot of the style of a Vintage Port and some ageworthiness, but it can be drunk young and needs no decanting. To my tastes, LBVs offer a good compromise between quality and price, particularly if you don’t want to have to wait 10 or 20 years to enjoy your bottle at its finest.

Station Four

2010 Pagadebit
Trere, Romagna, Italy

In the late 1960’s Valeriano Trerè founded the small Azienda Agricola Trerè with the purchase of some 35 acres of vineyards in the low-lying hills of Faenza, a historical town in the Emilia-Romagna countryside. This vineyard was run for a long time as a subsistence vineyard, producing just enough for their own consumption plus a little to be sold to the local market. Today the family run estate has 85 acres under vine with local varietals such as albano, cagnina, and this little surprise called “pagadebit zantil”. Its colorful name means ‘debt-payer’ in Romagna’s old dialect because of its ability to produce fruit, which meant that poor vine growers could pay off their debts in the old days, even in the most difficult years. In the typical style of north-central Italy this wine is quite dry but has a characteristic “fizz” making it light and refreshing and perfect for serving as an aperitif.

2010 Piesporter Goldtröpfchen Kabinett
Spater-Veit, Mosel, Germany

Heinz and Silvia Welter have 7 hectares (17.3 acres) in and around Piesport, the majority on steep slate slopes. The winery’s name is a combination of Silvia’s maiden name (Später) and that of her mother (Veit), whose winegrowing family is one of Piesport’s oldest. Winemaker Heinz Welter makes this Mosel Kabinett from a stony-slate section of Goldtröpfchen, fermented in steel with wild yeasts, with relatively low levels of residual sugar and fruit that is recognizably of this place.

2009 Domaine Tour du Pech – La Clape
Coteaux du Languedoc, France

Coteaux du Languedoc is a hodgepodge of different sub-regions generally on the Mediterranean Coast between Provence and Rousillon. While the area is variable in quality, La Clape (as well as Pic St. Loup and Gres de Montpellier) are the sub-regions worth seeking out. The vineyards of La Clape are located around a rocky promontory east of Narbonne, the Massif de la Clape, which was an island until the River Aude silted up in the Middle Ages. The terroir is a mixture of limestone, red clay and gravel. Strict regulations have helped to ensure quality of the wines of La Clape: vines must be five years old before qualifying, and the cépage is strictly controlled. Since 1998 the wines must include at least 70% Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre with a minimum 20% Grenache.

2009 Vivaio del Cavaliere
Castello La Leccia, Castellina in Chianti, Italy

La Leccia is the Chianti estate that one dreams about when one conjures up an image of the region. A solidly built stone building sits atop a hillside. The hillside is covered with both olive groves and vineyards. In the 16th century the noble Knight Cavaliere Capinera was the lord of Castello La Leccia. Today, at the same site of his ancient fish pond, the vivaio, a little vineyard of Merlot and Petit Verdot is cultivated. The wine is a blend of Sangiovese and the two grapes of the vivaio, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

2009 Lacrima di Morro d’Alba
Conti di Buscareto, Marche, Italy

Conti di Buscareto owns 175 acres of vineyards in the Marche. The vineyards are managed with great care and ability, aiming to make yields always bigger while making sure to maintain.

Believed to be related to the Aleatico variety, Lacrima di Morro d’Alba is one of the most exciting recent DOC varieties to emerge from Central Italy. The name “lacrima” means “tear drop” referring to the drops of juice that run out of the grapes when their thin skin cracks upon ripening fully.

2009 Chateau Hautes Versannes
St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France

Chateau Hautes Varennes is located in Saint Sulpice de Falayrens which is on the banks of the Dordogne River and just south west of the town of St. Emilion. The 25 acre vineyard is sandy with clay and limestone. The average age of the vines is 35 years. As is the case throughout St. Emilion, the vineyard is planted with just two grapes Merlot (85%) and Cabernet Franc (15%).

Station Five

2010 Villa Gemma Bianco
Masciarelli, Abruzzi, Italy

The wines in Villa Gemma series are made to the highest quality in the most characteristic style of this portion of Abruzzo. Grapes are from the best portion of the estate at San Martino in the coolest part of the region 22 miles from the 9200 foot peak of Monte Amaro at the 1500 foot elevation and 17 miles from the Adriatic shore. The style is meant to reflect the cool, fresh breezes that sweep down from the mountain carrying the fragrances of fields and forests, minerals and herbs, saffron and truffle so characteristic of San Martino. Fermentation and aging is carried out in stainless steel at controlled temperatures to preserve pretty fruit flavors, and the lovely interplay of mountain and chalky sea bottom minerals. The 2010 Bianco Villa Gemma is 80% Trebbiano, 15% Cococciola and 5% Chardonnay.

Standing Stone Vineyards
Hector, New York
2009 Chardonnay
2009 Vidal Ice 375 ml

In 1991, Tom & Marti Macinski purchased historic vineyards on the east side of Seneca Lake. A long line of venerable vintners spent years researching the quality of these lands. In just a few short years, this boutique winery began to make history with a prized selection of award-winning wines. The first crush, in 1993, yielded only 800 cases, which was quickly discovered and sold out in just 12 short weeks.

8000 cases are now produced annually which allows the winery more outreach than in the past. The wines are made and sold in renovated barns. The white wines are made in stainless steel tanks, allowing temperature control of fermentation and cellaring, and the red wines and Chardonnay are made in oak barrels – primarily American Oak.

Indian lore says the Oneida Indians followed a rolling stone until it stopped and that was where they would find a land filled with plentiful food and clean water. The stone stopped rolling (came to a stand) on the shores of a lake. Thus, the Oneida Indians were known as “The People of the Standing Stone”. The Dutch called the Indians “Sinerka”, their word for standing stone and hence, Lake Seneca.

2009 Chardonnay
Rusack Vineyards, Ballard Canyon, Santa Barbara, California

Geoff and Alison Rusack established Rusack Vineyards in 1995 and it covers 37 acres of vineyards, 17 of which were replanted in 2003 utilizing cutting edge technology and vines selected to take advantage of Ballard Canyon’s unique terroir. The 17 acres of vines are divided into small lots so that each can be managed to produce the best grapes possible. The vines are planted following the contours of the land, and run 11° off of a north-south direction, allowing balanced sun exposure on both sides of the vine canopy for optimal ripening.

The grapes come from three vineyards in Santa Barbara County – Bien Nacido, Sierra Madre and Goodchild. After being pressed and settled, the juice was barrel fermented in a mixture of new (40%) and older French oak barrels. The lees were stirred for four months, and the wine underwent a full malolactic fermentation. The Chardonnay aged nine months in barrel before being released in spring 2011.

2009 Merlot – Carlton Brooke
Ty Caton, Napa, California

Ty Caton Vineyards is dedicated to creating wines of distinction with an authentic sense of place. Winemaker Ty Caton sustainably farms all of the grapes used in their Sonoma Valley wine. As one of the few exclusive estate producers in Sonoma Valley, California, Ty personally works with the grapes from soil to glass.

This Merlot is blended with 14% Petite Sirah for added complexity. It is aged for 14 months in oak, 30% new. Under 500 cases of this wine were made.

2007 Montepulciano
Masciarelli, Abruzzi, Italy

Marina Cvetic Montepulciano offers a modern, international take on Abruzzo’s most noble grape variety. The Marina Cvetic Vineyard is located at San Martino in the coolest part of the DOC adjacent to the Villa Gemma Vineyard, Masciarelli’s finest. This is where the Abruzzo grape growing renaissance began. Instead of the traditional Pergola Abruzzese with 185 vines per acre, profligate leaf canopy, and grape bunches hanging two meters off the ground, Gianni Masciarelli began to plant dense and prune low, Burgundian style. The wine is fermented and aged in 100% new Vicard Prestige barrels, 500 gallon puncheons for fermentation, and standard barriques for aging.

Station Six

2009 Naked Chardonnay
Four Vines, Paso Robles, California

Christian Tietje began his career as a chef in Boston. In 1990, he moved to San Francisco to realize his dream of becoming a winemaker. After meeting his partner, Susan A. Mahler (Sam) in 1994, together they formed Four Vines Winery.

The Chardonnay started out as a counterpoint to their more famous Zins. Now this is now the most sought after wine in the portfolio. Sourced from Santa Barbara, it is not short on flavor, but NO OAK!

NV Brut Champagne
Duval-Leroy, Vertus, France

In 1859, the House of Duval-Leroy was born of the marriage between two families in Vertus. 170 hectares of vines are cultivated there and in other parts of the region. Their blends are made of predominately Chardonnay, with small amounts of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, which gives Duval-Leroy Champagne its distinctive qualities of finesse, lightness, and elegance.

Run by Carol Duval-Leroy since 1991, the House is one of the last family-run companies in the Champagne region and it is ranked among the top ten Champagne Houses.

2010 Monastrell
Bodegas Castano, Yecla, Spain

Ramon Castaño Santa, and his 3 sons created Bodegas Castaño in the 1970’s. While it is still a family-run operation, it is by no means small. Initially the vineyards were planted entirely of Monastrell and Garnacha but were slowly restructured and planted with other varieties. Today, the estate is 350 hectares of vineyards, in 3 zones, which are geographically and characteristically different. The two vineyards located in the North are called Pozuelo and Las Gruesas (700m elevation) and one to the South in the zone is named Espinal (600m elevation).

Yecla is known for its warm climate with high levels of sunshine throughout the year. Castano owns some of the highest vineyard parcels in the zone, with many over 700 meters in altitude, located in the northern reaches of the D.O. The soil is primarily made up of limestone in the North and clay in the low lying South.

2009 Cabernet Sauvignon – Indian Wells
Chateau St. Michelle, Prosser, Washington

Indian Wells Vineyard in Horse Heaven Hills is the source. It is the northernmost point of Chateau St. Michelle’s vast vineyard holdings.

This Cabernet is sourced from vineyards predominately from Horse Heaven Hills and Wahluke Slope in Washington State, including Indian Wells Vineyard. The wine is aged for 18-20 months in predominately new American and French oak to enhance the sweet mid-palate of the Wahluke Slope fruit. 10% Syrah was blended to the Cabernet Sauvignon to make the wine.

2008 Zinfandel – Old Ghost
Klinker Brick Winery, Lodi, California

Steve and Lori Felten, fifth generation grape growers in the Lodi region, continue the tradition of cultivating “Old Vine” Zinfandel vineyards that their ancestors planted in the early 1900’s. With roots in Germany and Russia, the family settled in Lodi, first producing watermelons. Recognizing that the soil and climate were ideal for growing grapes, they began to plant varieties that included Zinfandel. For over one hundred years, the family has cultivated the land with the aim of producing top quality fruit. Zinfandel was one of the first grape varieties to be planted in the Lodi appellation, although it had also been established in other parts of the California. While most Zinfandel vineyards are cropped at about 2-3 tons per acre, Klinker Brick’s old vines are cropped at .25 tons per acre.

2007 Icewine – Proprietors’ Reserve 187 ml
Jackson-Triggs, Niagara, Canada

Co-founders of Jackson-Triggs, Don Triggs and Allan Jackson have been tireless promoters of Canadian wine both at home and abroad. The grapes for the Jackson-Triggs 2007 Proprietors’ Reserve Vidal Icewine were harvested from vineyards in Canada’s Niagara Peninsula. The naturally frozen grapes for Vidal Icewine were pressed at an average of -10°C thus enhancing the varietal’s sweetness and concentrated aromatic flavors. This was followed by fermentation in stainless steel to preserve the wine’s intensity.



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