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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Fantastic Thanksgiving Wines, Perfect for Chirstmas Dinner

before

The wine was flowing at Thanksgiving this year! My son and I were invited to spend the day with the family of his friend, Edward. With about 20 people in attendance, we blended in and had a great time. In addition to the four wines I brought, which I review below, several other people brought several bottles to share. Those included Frei Brothers Cabernet Sauvignon, Joel Gott 815 Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Talbott Pinot Noir, and William Hill Chardonnay.  There were others, too, but I didn’t get a chance to make a note of which they were. In addition, a bottle of Dalmore 12-year Highland Scotch appeared on the bar. It would have been rude of me to not have a dram or two, right? It was absolutely delicious!

dalmore-12

Photo Credit: totalwine.com

Dinner was a feast! There were two turkeys; one smoked, and one traditional; a honey-glazed ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, two green salads, and rolls. Dessert was equally varied and delicious!

buffet-table

Let the feast begin!

Of the wines I brought, three were from NakedWines.com. The fourth was the just-released 2016 Beaujolais Nouveau from Georges DeBouef. With varying levels of wine-tasting experience represented, from “I’m here for the Scotch, but I enjoy a glass of wine once in a while, too” to a wine industry professional, all the wines were big hits. The hands-down favorite, with it’s soft, easy-drinking, fruit-forward profile, was the Beaujolais Nouveau. In fact, that bottle was empty long before dinner was served!

after

These wines were all excellent companions to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. With Christmas just around the corner, if you are having similar cuisine, I can wholeheartedly recommend each of these for that meal as well!

georges-deboeuf-beaujolais-nouveauGeorges DeBouef Beaujolais Nouveau 2016

The hands-down favorite around the Thanksgiving table. A party in a glass! Bright purple color, bursting with juicy fruit flavors; boysenberry, cherry, plum, blueberry, and raspberry. Soft tannins and bright acidity made this a light, fun quaff before and during the meal.

4.0 out of 5 stars (88 – 91 points)

$8.97 at Total Wine & More

scott-kelley-oregon-pinot-noirScott Kelley Oregon Pinot Noir 2015

Classic Oregon Pinot. Ruby color. On the nose there is raspberry, fresh plum, and soft smoke. Flavors of ripe raspberry, cherry, and strawberry mingle with soft oak. Tannins are soft and super smooth, with balanced acid, leading to long finish. Pinot Noir just the way I like it!

4.5 out of 5 stars (92 – 94 points)

$24.99 SRP, $14.99 NakedWines.com Angel Price

franc-dusak-chardonnayFranc Dusak Sonoma Valley Chardonnay 2015

A well balanced Sonoma Chardonnay. Straw color in the glass. Aromas of apple and butter. On the palate, flavors of fresh apple and pear, with some caramel at the end. Medium body, very soft smooth with light acidity and perfect balance of oak and fruit.

4.5 out of 5 stars (92 – 94 points)

$23.99 SRP, $13.99 NakedWines.com Angel Price

benjamin-darnault-pique-nique-roseBenjamin Darnault Pique-Nique Rosé 2015

Wonderful dry Rosé of Grenache. Peach color, aromas of fresh raspberry and soft rose petal. Flavors of raspberry and strawberry with floral notes. Light body with bright acidity and a pleasing finish.

4.0 out of 5 stars (88 – 91 points)

$16.99 SRP, $9.99 NakedWines.com Angel Price

 

I hope all of you had a fabulous Thanksgiving. What was your favorite wine of the day? Let me know in the comments.

Cheers!

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Warehouse Wine: Kirkland Signature Chablis Premier Cru 2014

Warehouse Wine? Sure, why not? Premier Cru Chablis for $15? Heck, yea!

Costco Wholesale warehouses are known for offering good wines at great prices. Members can find well-known labels from around the world (depending on your state’s regulations), and enjoy substantial savings over traditional wine shops, and often at prices better than even large wine and liquor stores like Total Wine & More and BevMo. These are great deals, but for the biggest bang for your buck, look for the Costco Kirkland Signature label. No, Costco doesn’t make wine. They use their immense buying power to source and purchase wine from well-known producers, and label them with the Costco brand. Pulling the cork often reveals the secret identity of the estate or chateau that produced the wine, when they use their own corks. A 2015 article in Wine Spectator pulls back the curtain on some of those producers, and some impressive names they are. And Jon Thorsen, the Reverse Wine Snob, has written extensively on the Costco wine scene, and regularly reviews their wines.

So now we know about wine buying at Costco and the bargains to be found there. But what’s so special about Chablis? And what is this “Premier Cru” thing? Good questions. The short answers are: Chablis is Chardonnay wine made in Chablis, which is located in Burgundy, France. “Premier Cru” is a designation that identifies a Chablis wine that was made from grapes from better-than-average vineyards. The Best of the Best receives the Grand Cru designation. You can read a more in depth analysis at Wine Searcher.

When I was a kid, I remember my parents drinking “Chablis” from a jug. (Back in those days, the rules about naming wines were less strict.) carlo-rossi-chablisSo when I started my own wine journey, I had that image in my mind, and avoided Chablis, thinking it was nothing more than cheap plonk. Furthermore, when I started exploring wine, I stuck mainly to New World wines; those from the U.S., Australia, and South America. In those days, Chardonnay meant those overly oaked toast bombs, of which I’m not a fan. Thus began my ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) days. Only in the past two or three years did I learn that Chablis – the real stuff from Burgundy – is completely unoaked. There are no toasty, lick-the-inside-of-the-barrel flavors. Venturing out of my comfort zone, I tried a bottle several months ago, and I was very happy with what I tasted! (Fortunately, the trend with Chardonnay, even in the U.S., is toward lightly oaked or unoaked styles.) Thinking about all the delicious Chablis I missed over the years, because of my incorrect assumptions, is disturbing! Having since turned in my ABC Membership Card, I am now always on the lookout for good Chablis bargains.

So how does the Kirkland Signature Chablis Premier Cru 2014 stack up? Pretty darn good.

kirkland-signature-chabils-premier-cru

Light straw color in the glass. Aromas of pear, yellow apple, and elderflower. On the palate, there is pear and apple, with zesty lemon and grapefruit mid-palate. Bright acidity, and a lighter mouthfeel when cold, but as it warms it softens and becomes softer with a bit of creaminess. The finish goes on and on with tart citrus notes. Not the best Chablis I’ve had, but surely the best QPR for a Premier Cru.

4.0 out of 5 stars (88 – 91 points)

Retail: $14.99

This is definitely a wine I would serve to guests. The label may not impress, but in my opinion, it’s more important what is IN the bottle, than what is ON the bottle.

Cheers!

Review: Jarvis Tomei California Mother Lode Rhone Red Blend 2015

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a wine review. In my zeal to share creative insights and tales of my wine travels, combined with life circumstances and busyness at work, I momentarily lost sight of one of the reasons I started this blog, and my tagline: “Reviews, musings, ponderings, and thoughts about wine.”

When I post reviews, I like to include a little about the winemakers. I find I enjoy a given wine more when I know some of the stories and passions of the people behind the label. Often I rely on information available on the Internet, but as a member of NakedWines.com, I have the opportunity to meet and interact with the winemakers directly.

Jeff Jarvis and Jessica Tomei are a husband and wife winemaking team based in Northern California. Although I have not had opportunity to meet them in person, I feel like I know them through our communication on the NakedWines.com social media platform. Theirs is a compelling, moving story. Jeff and Jessica have an impressive wine-making background, having worked at wineries in Italy and Chile before settling in Northern California. In addition to making wine for NakedWines.com members (known as Angels), Jessica stays busy as the director of international winemaking at Cupcake Vineyards.

Jeff and Jessica source most of their fruit from El Dorado County, in the Sierra Foothills. coloma-mother-lode-red-blendTheir primary NakedWines.com label, Coloma, is a nod to this origin. The small foothills town of Coloma, in El Dorado County, is the location of Sutter’s Mill, where gold was discovered in 1848. If you’ve read much of my blog, you know I have a special passion for Sierra Foothills wine, partly because I live less than 45 minutes the main winemaking regions there, and just 5 minutes from the El Dorado County line! Jeff and Jessica’s Coloma wines are rich and intense, with soft tannins, and a fruity, spicy finish.

Yet, as good as their wines are, the best part of buying them is knowing that I am supporting this young family through their trials and tribulations. You see, in 2012, their then-two year old daughter Sofia became ill with a mystery ailment. After months of medical visits and extensive tests, doctors were unable to diagnose the illness. Their story was carried by both local and national news outlets. Cue NakedWines.com and the army of Naked Angels to the rescue! Through the support of this wine-loving extended family, Jeff and Jessica produced and sold a special Helping Hands Six-Pack of their wines for Angels. The money raised went directly to Jeff and Jessica to help defray medical expenses. So when I have an opportunity to purchase any of their wines, I know I am helping to support this family, and little Sofia.

jarvis-tomei-family

The Jarvis Tomei Family, Photo Credit: The Naked Way

Their latest Coloma label release is a spin on the classic Rhône GSM blend. The Mother Lode Red Blend is a GSZ – Grenache, Syrah, Zinfandel blend. In speaking with other Sierra Foothills producers, I learned that the challenge with GSZ is taming the hot, high alcohol content of the “Z” – Zinfandel. Leave it to Jeff and Jessica to master this by blending just 10% Zinfandel with 55% Syrah and 35% Grenache. The wine carries the California designation, because the fruit is sourced from both the Sierra Foothills and Paso Robles.

coloma-in-the-glass

In the glass, a medium ruby color. Pre-aeration (patience is overrated) there are aromas of blackberry bramble, vanilla, and blueberry. Run thru a Vinturi (or decanted 30-60 minutes if you have patience) brings forth aromas and flavors of ripe blackberry, blueberry, black cherries, and soft oak. Is this really a 2015? It’s amazingly soft and smooth, with light acidity and medium to full body. The finish is medium long, with dark berry, plum, and a touch of spice and mineral. This is an easy drinking wine; great for sipping or with food. I’m glad I bought more than one!

4.0 out of 5 Stars (88 – 91 points)

MSRP: $19.99, Angel price: $11.99

This wine is still available, exclusively from NakedWines.com. If you’d like to try it, and aren’t yet a Naked Angel, follow this link for a voucher worth $100 off your first purchase of $160 or more. You’ll be happy you did!

Cheers!