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Tag Archives: sauvignon blanc

An Excursion to Hanna Winery & Vineyards #WBC17

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Our Wednesday evening drive over to Santa Rosa for the 10th Annual Wine Bloggers Conference (#WBC17) was dark and rainy. We were unsure what to expect when we awoke Thursday morning for our excursion to Hanna Winery and Vineyards; other than an exciting and educational winery tour, and delicious catered meal with wines to match, of course.

Thursday dawned dry and only partly cloudy. It was a perfect day for a trip to wine country. As we rode on the bus out to Alexander Valley and the Hanna Winery and Vineyards Tasting Room, we saw the results of the devastation of the fires that had ravaged the area just weeks before. Yet we also saw the rebuilding that had already begun. With the sun peeking through the clouds, we could almost feel the hope and resilience we saw around us.

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The drive through the autumn colors of the vineyards was breathtaking, and turning up the driveway to climb the hill to the Tasting Room we were taken by the beauty. Hanna Winery and Vineyards sits atop a hill with a 360 degree of the surrounding valley. The views were amazing! As we entered, we were greeted by friendly, smiling staff with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Soon, our host, Christine Hanna welcomed us and provided some history of the family winery.

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Founded in 1985 by Dr. Elias Hanna, Christine’s father, the land was originally planted to French Colombard grapes. Soon, the family discovered that the land was well-suited to other grapes that could be crafted into world-class wines. As the operation grew, Christine took the reigns as president in 1993, and has continued to lead the way as the winery has grown and expanded its influence.

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Hanna Winery and Vineyards wines are estate grown on three vineyards in the area. In the Russian River Valley, the flagship Home Ranch Vineyards grows Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on its 25 acres, while Slusser Road Vineyard, 50 acres in size, is planted to Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Red Ranch Vineyard, in Alexander Valley, is 88 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. Bismark Mountain Vineyard, high in Sonoma Valley in the Moon Mountain AVA, grows Zinfandel and Bordeaux varietals.

Christine related the story of how, in an effort to develop the Bismark Mountain Vineyard site, she had to overcome the challenges of accessing a high mountain site without the benefit of such amenities as roads and electricity. Helicopters were involved, and she was successful in bringing this spectacular vineyard into existence.

Christine introduced us to Hanna’s winemaker, Jeff Hinchliffe, who took over the presentation and eventually led us down to the fermentation and barrel room on site for some barrel tasting. Jeff has been the winemaker since 1998. He explained how the varying terrain of the vineyards influences the flavor and profile of the grapes and wines. Jeff is clearly passionate about winemaking, while remaining distinctly humble. Jeff says that “wine will make itself, if you let it.” Jeff is especially enthusiastic about Malbec. He says Malbec wines are easy to make, but the grapes are not easy to grow. Still, he and Hanna Winery are quite successful at it, and produce a number of Malbec varietal wines. In addition, their Cabernet blend contains 25% Malbec.

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Perhaps the highlight of the barrel tasting was our opportunity to sample one of the rarest vitis vinifera grapes in the world. Once common in Bordeaux wine production, St. Macaire was virtually wiped out by the phylloxera epidemic, and thought to be extinct. However, St. Macaire was not ready to be relegated to an historic footnote. Jeff discovered that a nearby vineyard had a half-acre planted to the grape. The vineyard owner provided some cuttings, and Jeff planted a half-acre of St. Macaire at Hanna. They plan to release their first vintage of this wine soon, but we were able to get a taste of the still-developing juice. The wine is inky purple, nearly black in color. Though still very young, with high acidity and tight tannins, the wine was aromatic and flavorful. At this stage, there were significant green, spicy, vegetal notes along with some black fruit. Jeff asked around the room for descriptors. Responses included cassis, eucalyptus, and menthol. I hope to get a sample of the finished product once bottled and released.

Back upstairs and into the tasting room, it was time for a delightful lunch. The table was exquisitely set, and the multiple stemware glasses at each place setting spoke of good things to come! The meal was exquisitely catered by Chef Heidi West, with each course paired with one or two Hanna Winery selections.

The meal was superb, the setting spectacular, and the hosts unparalleled in warm hospitality. Enjoy the photo montage of the meal, and try not to drool on your screen!

FIRST COURSE PLATED

2015 Hanna Russian River Chardonnay

Baby Spinach Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Toasted Sliced Almonds, Pickled Red Onion and Warm Bacon Dressing

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MAIN COURSE FAMILY STYLE

2015 Elias Pinot Noir/2014 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Porchetta with Salsa Rosamarina, Soft Creamy Polenta with Fresh Corn, Marscapone, Pecorino and Parmesan

Haricot Vert with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Sea Salt

DESSERT PLATED

2014 Bismark Cabernet Sauvignon

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Fresh Raspberries

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If you are in Sonoma County wine country, it’s definitely worth a trip to visit the fantastic people at Hanna Winery and Vineyards. Take in the spectacular views, and enjoy some amazing wines.

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Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds
  • Photos by Kent Reynolds and Robyn Raphael
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Review: Leigh Meyering LeisureLeigh 2015

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It was with eager anticipation this week, that I opened a bottle of Leigh Meyering’s Aromatic White Wine, LeisureLeigh. I had my first taste of the 2013 vintage of LeisureLeigh in 2014, shortly after joining NakedWines.com. I’m normally a big, bold red wine drinker, so I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this light, floral, sweeter-style wine. But LeisureLeigh is absolutely delicious! It is a perfect, refreshing wine to enjoy on a hot summer day. It pairs well with swimming pools, lakes, river, and ocean beaches. It is also the exact wine my wife and I had been looking for to take to the summer “Concerts in the Park” series in the town where we live.

Leigh Meyering is a very talented winemaker, to be sure. She is also an enologist – a wine scientist, receiving her Master’s Degree in Enology from U.C. Davis. She runs myEnologist.com, a consulting service, and has worked in such notable wineries as Spring Mountain Vineyard in St. Helena, Clos Des Jacobins in St. Emilion, MacRostie in Carneros, and Charles Krug in St. Helena. Working with grapes in the lab, Leigh knows where all the best fruit comes from, so when she puts on her winemaker hat, she knows who to contact for the very best grapes. As you can probably guess by the name of the wine, Leigh also has a terrific sense of humor. All the wines she makes for NakedWines.com are a riff on her name: SeriousLeigh, her Sonoma Cabernet Sauvignon; DeliciousLeigh, an appropriately named Bordeaux-style blend; and ElegantLeigh, a light, floral Zinfandel.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Leigh in person, and she is a truly wonderful person; kind, caring, and giving, and she really does have a great sense of humor! In fact, I was so impressed with Leigh, the person, that when I was chosen to be a NakedWines.com “Archangel”*, she was the first winemaker I chose to sponsor.

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At the 2015 Angel Tasting Tour

At the risk of overstating the obvious, I am a big fan of LeisureLeigh. It is a unique, refreshing blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Symphony, and Moscato, with a splash of Viognier. Here’s my review of the new, 2015 vintage:

 

 Summer can now begin!

My shipment of LeisureLeigh has arrived! Last year’s vintage sold out so fast I missed it completely. 😦 Summer just wasn’t the same. I vowed I would never let that happen again!

Light straw color in the glass. I started it off fridge cold so I could experience the evolution of flavors as it warmed. Even cold, the aromas of honeysuckle, elderflower, and ripe pear are inviting and enticing. On the palate, those sweeter flavors continue, along with soft citrus of grapefruit and lemon. As the wine warms, these flavors become more pronounced and satisfying, peaking around cellar temp (55F). This is a refreshing, light bodied wine with zesty acidity and a delightful finish.

LeisureLeigh was one of the first NakedWines.com wines I tasted. It continues to be one of my favorites. As a former “reds only” drinker, I thank Leigh for this wine, which prompted me to start exploring whites.

Sweet? Yes, but balanced. Not cloying; but rather it is fresh, lively, and invigorating! Try it for yourself, but be forewarned: this stuff is seriously chuggable!

5 Stars (95+ points) Yes, I love this wine!

Available exclusively from NakedWines.com; MSRP: $17.49, Angel Member Price: $10.49.

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If this sounds like your kind of wine, you can get LeisureLeigh by following this link and using the voucher worth $100 off a first-time order of $160 or more.

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* NakedWines.com members are known as “Angels” (click here for more info.) “Archangels” Angels who have been selected by NakedWines.com staff, because they are the most active and helpful in the NakedWines.com social media groups, and diligent in reviewing all the NakedWines.com wines they try. Archangels select winemakers (typically 3-6 of them) to support by answering questions about their wines posted by other Angels.

Review: Mutt Lynch Fou Fou le Blanc 2013

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“…she’s amazing, she’s eccentric, some might even say barking mad…” That’s the teaser on the label to describe this delightful Sauvignon Blanc.

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In my ongoing exploration of Sauvignon Blanc, I found this fun bottle. Mutt Lynch winery themes all their wines around dogs. And for good reason. Mutt Lynch donates a portion of the profits from each bottle they sell to animal rescue organizations. If that isn’t reason enough to support them, their wines are really good, too!

From the Fou Fou le Blanc info sheet:

Our 2013 Fou Fou Le Blanc White is a delicate blend of Sauvignon Blanc,
Chennin Blanc, and Verdelho — a grape varietal known for being crisp and
fruit-forward. This release clearly showcases the Sauvignon Blanc and con-
tinues to reflect Brenda’s rules for producing a great white —pick ripe fruit,
avoid herbaceous aromas and flavors, protect the wine’s natural acidity dur-
ing fermentation and no oak. The 2013 Fou Fou Le Blanc White is a wonder-
ful embodiment of this approach and delivers to you a delightfully fresh and
well-balanced wine. Fou Fou for you!

I found Fou Fou le Blanc to be a pleasant variation from many of the citrus-driven California Sauvignon Blancs I’ve tasted this summer. Fou Fou le Blanc has more tropical flavors, with citrus undertones. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a bracing, citrusy SB in the heat of the summer, but now that we’re (finally) into the cooler, autumn weather here in Northern California, the soft, tropical notes were really enjoyable. Here’s what I thought about it, in my Vivino review:

Straw color with soft aromas of elderflower and white peach. There are flavors of gooseberry, honeysuckle, and pear, with mango and papaya on the finish. The fruit flavors drive this wine, giving it a sweet profile although it is not a sweet wine. The mouthfeel is soft, almost creamy, with very smooth acidity. This is a very easy-drinking, tropical Sauvignon Blanc.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5 Stars
Purchased from Underground Cellar, $13.00.
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Fou Fou le Blanc is delicious on its own, but it really shined when we paired it with Coconut-Crusted Mahi Mahi with Horseradish-Orange Marmalade. Spectacular pairing!

If you get a chance to sample some Fou Fou le Blanc, or any of Mutt Lynch Winery’s other wines, don’t let it pass you by! You’ll enjoy the wine, while supporting animal rescue efforts. That’s a win-win!

Sauvignon Blanc: The Next Big Thing?

Sauvignon Blanc has enjoyed a recent rise in popularity [1]. Although Chardonnay remains undisputed king of the white wine world, Sauvignon Blanc is achieving status as the latest trendy wine. All the cool kids are drinking it! I normally shun trends, but I am completely on board with this one. Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and refreshing; great for a warm summer day. It is food friendly, pairing well with white fish, chicken, pork, grilled vegetables, and salads – basically any light, summery food. And it’s affordable! Whereas Chardonnay can run upwards of $40-50 for a midrange bottle (and hundreds for a Grand Cru White Burgundy), the most expensive Sauvignon Blanc at my local Total Wine & More store, a White Bordeaux, is just $54, with the second most expensive being less than $40 [2]. Good Sauvignon Blanc is available for as little as $8 to $12.

Sauvignon Blanc grows well in wine regions all over the world. It has adapted well to the southern hemisphere, with some of the most award-winning wines coming from New Zealand. This summer, I have enjoyed a “world tour” of Sauvignon Blanc, enjoying examples from France, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, and California. The California wines I’ve had have come from Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, and Lake Counties, Clarksburg, and San Luis Obispo. Yes, I drank a lot of Sauvignon Blanc this summer!

I have found I prefer California Sauvignon Blanc, with my favorites coming from Mendocino and Napa. However, I recently enjoyed a truly delightful example from Clarksburg. Nestled along the Sacramento River, less than 30 minutes south of the capital city, Clarksburg is a hidden gem of a wine region. The wines are spectacular, and generally substantially less expensive than nearby Napa or Sonoma.

Baron Herzog SBBaron Herzog Sauvignon Blanc 2014 is one of these excellent, affordable wines. It is available at my local BevMo store for $10.99. I found it at Trader Joe’s for just $7.99!

My review, posted on Vivino:

Pale straw color, with aromas of lemon-lime and pineapple. The mouthfeel is light, with lemon/citrus, pineapple, fresh white peach, and tart apple notes. The acidity is bright and crisp, and the finish lingers with zesty citrus, and a hint of sweet elderflower in the back of the throat. A very nice Sauvignon Blanc from California’s Central Valley, and a great value at $8!

If you haven’t tried Sauvignon Blanc in a while, do yourself a favor and get some. Even though the calendar says it’s autumn, the weather still says “summer” here in NorCal. Sauvignon Blanc is a great way to relax and refresh. Cheers!

[1] http://www.iwfs.org/americas/wine-food—friends-1/articles/sauvignon-blanc—better-than-chardonnay-in-wine-food-pairin

[2] http://www.totalwine.com/wine/white-wine/sauvignon-blanc/c/000008?viewall=true&sort=price-desc

Appetite for Wine

We enjoy wine. A lot. We are not wine professionals. We hold no certifications; we have no experience in the wine industry. We just enjoy tasting and drinking wine, and exploring wine regions.

Most of the wines we drink are from California, mainly because that is where we live, so when we go wine tasting, that’s what we buy. Nevertheless, we enjoy wines from other states in the U.S., and all over the world. We have an affinity for Spain (Rioja, Cariñena), Italy (Tuscany, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Barolo), and France (Red Bordeaux, Loire Sauvignon Blanc). We enjoy finding affordable wines from under-rated regions.

Over the years we have tasted several hundred wines, and can only recall a handful that were so bad we could not drink them. (One of those was early in my (Kent) wine journey and I now believe it was corked, but I didn’t know it at the time.) While we have favorites, and prefer big, bold reds, we haven’t met a grape – red or white – that we don’t enjoy in some measure.

Our main format for micro-blogging is Instagram. We are very active there, posting several times per week to share what we’re drinking, and what we’re thinking. Please visit us @appetite_for_wine and @robz_lyfe. If you like what you see, please follow us.

You may also want to follow Kent on Vivino, the wine rating app. He’s consistently rated in the top 140 users in the United States. That’s out of more than 5.5 million users! You can find him here: http://www.vivino.com/users/kent-rey. His Vivino reviews also post to his Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/k1reynolds.

If you’d like to reach us directly, or are interested in having us review your wine (samples gladly accepted), please send an e-mail to appetiteforwine (at) gmail (dot) com. Cheers!

– Kent Reynolds & Robyn Raphael