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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Review: Jac Cole Mosaico Napa Valley 2014

Regular readers know that Jac Cole has become one of my favorite winemakers. As one of the winemakers for NakedWines.com, his wines may be unknown to folks who are not Naked Wines Angels. Yet Jac knows his way around a winery. He’s been making wine in California for more than 40 years. Some better known labels for whom Jac has worked include Charles Krug, Spring Mountain, and Cliff Lede.

Jac Cole Mosaico Napa Valley 2014

I reviewed Jac’s Mosaico Sonoma Valley 2013 here, so this will, in a way, be my first vertical review. I say “in a way” because I did not taste these wines at the same time, but more importantly, these are two distinctly different wines, from different regions. The 2013 was a blend of Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. The 2014 is all Napa Valley, and in addition to the Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, Jac added some Merlot to the blend. Still, these two wines showcase Jac’s winemaking talent in his ability to make consistently outstanding wines from varied blends, from different regions.

Despite their differences, both 2013 and 2014 are outstanding wines. Big, bold, and complex, showcasing the best of all the varietals in the blends, Jac’s Mosaico blends are fantastic now, and will continue to improve for several years in the cellar…if you can hold onto them that long!

Here’s what I thought of the Jac Cole Mosaico Napa Valley 2014, posted on NakedWines.com:

Jac, you’ve done it again! Your 2013 Mosaico Sonoma County was one of the best red blends I’ve tasted. This 2014 Mosaico Napa Valley surpasses it.

Deep purple color with a ruby rim. Aromas of blackberry, plum, and oak greet the nose. On the tongue, this is a rich, full-bodied wine with flavors of chocolate-covered cherry, ripe plum, blackberry, oak, and spice. Tannins are firm and full, but balanced with lively acidity. The finish is long and full, with dark berry, tobacco smoke, and spice.

Bearing the Napa Valley designation, the grapes may have come from all over the valley. However, the terroir in this wine is distinctive, and I would not be surprised to find there is Rutherford and/or Oakville fruit in the blend. Exquisite!

Although outstanding now, like the 2013, this wine will only improve with time. Get several, and lay some down for a year or 10.

5 out of 5 stars/hearts (95+ points)

MSRP: $34.99, Angel Price: $16.99

One of the really cool things about NakedWines.com is that Angels NW Logoget to interact directly with the winemakers on the social media site. The day after I posted my review, Jac Cole replied, and confirmed that the Cabernet Sauvignon in this blend is, in fact, from Rutherford. This is high quality stuff!

You can only get Jac Cole Mosaico Napa Valley 2014 from NakedWines.com. If you haven’t tried them yet, here’s a voucher worth $100 off a first-time order of $160 or more. You’ll be glad you did!

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Review: Franc Dusak Zinfandel Sonoma Valley 2013

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I love Zinfandel. This may be in part because my red wine journey started in earnest with Zinfandel. Also, living minutes from the Sierra Foothills, famous for its Old Vine Zinfandel, I have access to some of the best Zin on the planet. I admit a Sierra Foothill bias, but I enjoy exploring other regions and have found a few that continue to impress me with outstanding Zinfandel. Among these are Dry Creek Valley, in Sonoma County, and the greater Sonoma County region in general. This is where today’s wine is from.

Zinfandel is a versatile grape that can present in a variety of different ways, from jammy fruit bombs; to big, bold, and spicy; to light and floral. I think a lot of people who say they don’t like Zinfandel have only been exposed to the former – those jammy, “please pass the peanut butter” fruit bombs. These tend to fall in the lower end of the price spectrum, which is where I have found most people start when exploring new varietals. Generally speaking, fruit bomb Zin comes from warmer climates, like Lodi in California’s Central Valley. Fruit bombs have their place, and many people prefer them. However, my personal preference is big, bold, and spicy Zinfandel. These are most common from slightly cooler regions like the Sierra Foothills and Sonoma County.

Having such a fondness for Zinfandel, imagine my excitement when Franc Dusak’s Zinfandel Sonoma Valley 2013 appeared for sale on the NakedWines.com website! I’ve had other Franc Dusak wines before, and been blown away by all of them, but this is his first Zinfandel for NakedWines.com. This wine spent 23 months in the barrel, which will give it a soft, smooth texture along with the delicious flavors. I ordered some the first day it was available.

Franc Dusak has been making wine for more than a decade, but his name has always been behind the scenes. About a year ago, NakedWines.com got ahold of him, and propelled him to instant stardom! (In my book, at least!) But enough with the lead-in…on to the review!

I’m a Zin freak. Over the years, I’ve had more Zin than any other varietal. Franc, your 2013 Sonoma Valley Zinfandel is dee-licious!

Deep purple with brick rim. Aromas of blueberries and blackberries, along with the promise of oak and spice. On the palate, blackberry, black pepper, black cherry, and promise kept: smooth oak and a spicy finish. Exceptionally balanced fruit and spice ratio; medium body. The tannins are velvety smooth and balanced with soft acidity. Those 23 months in oak really paid off! I’m glad I bought more than one!!

4.5 out of 5 hearts (92-94 points)

Available only from NakedWines.com. Angel Price: $13.99

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If this sounds like your kind of Zinfandel, and you aren’t yet a NakedWines.com Angel, click the Naked Wines logo above, or here for a voucher worth $100 off a first-time order of $160 or more. You won’t be sorry you did!

Review: Kupelwieser Lagrein 2013

I love variety. That is one of the things I like so much about wine. In a lifetime, it is humanly impossible to sample all the variety that exists in the wine world. Two wineries making wine from the same varietal in the same region can produce vastly different results. Beyond winemaking variety, there are the thousands of different varietal grapes out there; many of which the average wine drinker may never hear about. In my wine journey, I strive to seek out, find, and taste those lesser known varietals.

Kupelwieser Lagrein

Recently I purchased and opened my very first Lagrein, the Kupelwieser Lagrein 2013. Until about six months ago, I had never heard of the Lagrein grape, but it has certainly left a lasting impression on me! The funny thing about this wine: it made its way to my “Must Try” list, but I can’t remember how. Somewhere along the line, I must have read a review on Vivino or some other social media site, and thought it sounded good. I’d like to thank whoever it was who posted whatever review it was, because this is a darn good wine!

Lagrein is an Italian varietal, grown in the northeastern Italian region of Trentino-Alto Adige. According to wine-searcher.com, Lagrein is likely native to this area. Historical records mention the grape as early as the 16th century. The grape is known for rich, full-bodied wines of deep, dark color. As with many Old World varietals, Lagrein is best when paired with food.

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I found my first experience with Lagrein to be most pleasant. The Kupelwieser Lagrein 2013 carries the Alto Adige DOC designation. True to Old World form, there is bright, lively acidity that makes it great with food. Yet I found it to also have well-structured fruit, providing balance and complexity, and giving it a profile that will please many a New World wine drinker. Here’s my review on Vivino:

 “My first Lagrein. Deep, deep purple color. The aroma is of butter and red fruit. On the palate, ripe raspberry, blackberry, black pepper, cherry, and light oak, followed by a spicy, smoky, medium finish. Medium body, with sharp tannins and bright, lively acidity, making this a great food wine. Exceptional with our Steak Pizzaiola.”

  • Rating: 4.0 stars (88 to 91 points)
  • Price: $18.99 at Total Wine & More

 

If you have never tried a Lagrein, I urge you to head to your local wine shop, pick up a bottle or two, and take a virtual trip to this beautiful region in Northeastern Italy.

Cheers!