Category Archives: White Wine

Brazil Wine

A Taste of Wine From Brazil

The most exciting sparkling wine I have tasted recently is from Brazil. It’s the Casa Valduga 130 Limited Edition, and I discovered it an exclusive event promoting Brazilian wine in Atlanta.

The sparkling wine is similar to Champagne as it is made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and gets its bubbles via the traditional method. It has lovely creamy and toasty notes with flavors of lemon, dried apricot and almond. Elegant with small and lively bubbles, the Casa Valduga 130 is an excellent introduction to the wines of Brazil.

Casa Valduga was one of five Brazilian wineries showcasing their wines at the event put on by Wines of Brasil in partnership with the Brazilian embassy and consulate. The food at Fogo de Chão provided the perfect pairings. Atlanta was the second city on the tour, which included Miami, Washington, D.C. and New York.

The Wines of Brasil event started appropriately with bubbles. As I found out, Brazilians love sparkling wine and drink a lot of it.

Of course Brazil is better known for its Cachaça, but their wine is gaining momentum outside the country. Brazil is the 6th largest wine producer in the Southern Hemisphere, with 750 wineries and 79,000 hectares of vineyards. Brazil’s six main wine regions are in the south of the country, which is on the same parallel as South Africa.

Though the main grapes are generally French varieties – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Tannat, Chardonnay, Muscat and Riesling – the winemaking owes much to Italian tradition. All five of the wineries at the Atlanta event were founded by Italian immigrants or their descendants.

The United States can expect to see more Brazilian wine, as exports have greatly increased in the past year. Here are Brazilian wineries and wines to look for:

Casa Valduga

Founded in 1875, when Luiz Valduga arrived from northern Italy, Casa Valduga is still family-run today. It is a popular spot to visit in Brazil, welcoming more than 200,000 visitors per year. In addition to the winery there are guest houses and a restaurant. Casa Valduga is the official wine of the Brazilian Government.

Besides the 130 Limited Edition sparkling wine, Casa Valduga produces a brut and brut rosé. I also enjoyed the Casa Valduga Cabernet Franc. By the way, the Casa Valduga 130 costs approximately $34.99, which is a great value for its taste and quality.
www.casavalduga.com.br

Vinicola Salton

The third generation of the Salton family runs this winery, which was founded in 1910 by six brothers. Their father, Antonio Domenico Salton, arrived in Brazil from Veneto in northern Italy in 1878.

Salton is the largest producer of sparkling wine in Brazil. The Brut and Intenso Moscato were featured at the tasting event, as were two reds: a Tannat and a Burgundian-style Pinot Noir.
www.salton.com.br

Casa Perini

Casa Perini was founded in 1970, though the Perini family has been growing grapes and producing wines in Brazil since 1929. The first generation of the Perini Family arrived from Italy in 1876.

The wines range from the fun and easy-drinking Macaw line to the sophisticated Quatro, made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Ancellotta and Tannat.
www.casaperini.com.br

Miolo

The Miolo Wine Group traces its roots of wine production in Brazil to 1897. After decades of growing grapes, the company decided to produce its own wine in 1990. In 2003 they brought on Michel Rolland as consulting winemaker.

With the combination of skilled grape growing and French expertise, Miolo wines are delicious examples of the fine wine being made in Brazil. The Lote 43, a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, was one of my favorites at the tasting.
www.miolo.com.br

Mioranza

Mioranza was founded in 1964 by four Italian brothers who were the second generation of the Mioranza family in Brazil. The winery is mainly a negociant; 90% of the grapes come from small producers, and 10% come from their vineyards.

RioBravo is a line of sparkling wines, offering dry, semi-sweet and sweet styles. Under the bright Mioranza label there are whites and reds that also range from dry to sweet.
www.mioranza.com

To learn more about wine from Brazil visit the Wines of Brasil website at winesofbrasil.com.

White Knight wine

AG Pick: The White Knight Viognier 2014

Looking for a new white wine to enjoy? The White Knight Viognier is coming to your rescue.

Medium to full bodied with just a hint of sweetness, this is the white wine to help you transition to the cooler months. It also happens to be a great pairing with fall flavors and seasonal ingredients.

White Knight ViognierThe 2014 White Knight Viognier comes from the Clarksburg appellation in northern California, near Sacramento. The Viognier is rounded out by the addition of French Colombard (9%) and Muscat (4%). The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel to preserve the grapes’ fresh characteristics.

The wine is very aromatic, as you would expect with Viognier. Fruity and floral aromas introduce flavors of white peach, golden apple and honeysuckle, supported with gentle acidity. It’s round and soft in the mouth, with lingering subtle sweet fruit.

Pair the wine with roasted chicken or turkey, cream-based dishes and hearty pasta or vegetable dishes.

An added bonus is that The White Knight won’t run off with your wallet. A bottle of the 2014 Viognier costs $12.

The White Knight makes exclusively white wines. In addition to the Viognier there is a Prosecco, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. It is produced by 3 Badge Beverage Corporation out of Sonoma, California.

Click here for more information on The White Knight wines.

13.5% alcohol

Salta wines

Colomé and Amalaya: Wines from Salta, Argentina

There is more to Argentina’s wine than just Mendoza. You’re missing out if you don’t venture beyond the country’s best-known region.

Today we’re focusing on Salta. This region is located in the north of Argentina and is characterized by its mountainous terrain. Here you’ll find some of the highest elevation vineyards in the world.

For a taste of Salta, try wines from Colomé and Amalaya. These wineries are located in the Calchaqui Valley, at elevations of more than 5,000 feet above sea level. The vineyards benefit from intense sun during the day and cool nights, ideal growing conditions.

Amalaya wines

The natural place to start is with Torrontes, the signature white wine grape of Argentina. This grape produces aromatic, dry wines with lovely floral notes.

Colome Torrontes & MalbecThe 2015 Colomé Torrontes is made entirely from Torrontes. The wine was fermented and aged in stainless steel to preserve its bright, fresh characteristics. This is a wonderfully fragrant wine, like taking a sniff from a bouquet of flowers. Gardenia, orange blossom and jasmine mix with slightly sweet citrus, with good acidity adding balance. $15, 13.5% alcohol

I first enjoyed Amalaya wines when I was in Buenos Aires and I’m so glad they’re available in the United States. The 2015 Amalaya Blanco is a blend of 85% Torrontes and 15% Riesling, two grapes that nicely complement each other. Just as with the Colomé Torrontes, the aim is to showcase the true nature of the grapes — controlled, cool temperatures during winemaking and stainless steel aging make the finished wine fresh and fruity.

The floral nose of the Amalaya Blanco introduces a palate of white flowers, jasmine, white grapefruit and lemon peel with a layer of minerality. Gentle acidity gives crispness, and the finish is clean with a touch of orange blossom honey. $12, 13% alcohol

Colome wines

Moving on to the reds, the 2013 Colomé Estate Malbec comes from four estate vineyards at varying elevations: La Brava Vineyard at 5,740 feet; Colomé Vineyard at 7,545 feet; El Arenal Vineyard at 8,530 feet; and Altura Maxima at the almost unbelievable elevation of 10,207 feet above sea level. The blend of Malbec grapes produces a wine that is bold yet elegant, with red and black fruit notes and firm tannins. Juicy dark red cherry and blackberry flavors are supported by an earthy backbone and a touch of black pepper and cedar. $25, 14.5% alcohol

Amalaya Blanco & MalbecThe 2015 Amalaya Malbec is a blend of 85% Malbec, 10% Tannat and 5% Syrah. The three were fermented and aged separately, and blended just before bottling. One quarter of the wine was aged in one year-old French oak barrels for 10 months.

The fruit flavors in the Amalaya Malbec come through first – raspberry, ripe red cherry, plum and a touch of blueberry. Then come the spice and earth notes, with black pepper, cigar box and violet. Though the wine has a lot going on it’s not one that you need to overthink. The Amalaya Malbec is the kind of wine you can enjoy any night of the week, no fancy meal required. $16, 13.9% alcohol

Colomé and Amalaya are part of the Hess Family Wine Estates portfolio. For more information  www.hess-family.com.

Vinogram: Bottle Jack Winery

For more information on Bottle Jack Wines from Santa Cruz, California visit bottlejackwines.com.

Vinkara wine

Vinkara Wines: Indigenous Grapes from Turkey

Love Old World wines and looking for something new? Try the wines from Vinkara Winery in Turkey, a place where winemaking started some 15,000 years ago.

Vinkara is a leader in the production of indigenous Anatolian grape varietals. They are now introducing their wines to the United States.

Vinkara Winery is located in Kalecik, in the Ankara Province in north-central Turkey. The village gives its name to Kalecik Karasi, a red wine grape that originated there.

Vinkara Narince Reserve 2012Vinkara’s 135 acres of vineyards are planted at an altitude of 2,000 feet, and are influenced by a continental climate with cold, snowy winters and hot, dry summers. The grapes for all their wines are harvested by hand, and grow in a mix of sand, clay and limestone soils with high mineral content.

I had a chance to taste two of Vinkara’s wines – the Narince Reserve 2012 and the Kalecik Karasi Reserve 2012.

Narince, pronounced nah-rin-djeh and meaning ‘delicately’ in Turkish, is a white wine grape. The 2012 Narince Reserve is a dry white wine that is reminiscent of Chardonnay or a fuller boded Sauvignon Blanc. It opens with citrus, tropical and floral aromas. On the palate are flavors of pear, grapefruit, pineapple and white flowers, with a touch of vanilla and well-balanced acidity. $25, 13.5% abv

Vinkara Kalecik Karasi Reserve 2012The Kalecik Karasi Reserve 2012, pronounced kah-le-djic car-ah-ser (with ‘er’ as in ‘father’), immediately brought to mind a spicy Pinot Noir or Gamay. This dry red wine is medium-bodied with aromas of red fruits, spice and smoke. Plum, red cherry and blackberry flavors are layered with black pepper, nutmeg and subtle notes of smoked meat. Smooth tannins and a lingering finish make it a really pleasing sip. The wine was aged for 14 months in French oak barrels.
$27, 13.5% abv

Though the wine producing region may be unfamiliar and the names may be a bit awkward to pronounce, all you need to know is that the wines of Vinkara are easy to drink and approachable, and well worth seeking out.

For more information on Vinkara Winery visit www.vinkarawines.com.

Vinkara wines are imported by The Winebow Group.

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AG Pick: Left Coast Cellars 2014 White Pinot Noir

Here at the Amateur Gastronomer we love finding new and special wines to share. Today we’re talking about the Left Coast Cellars 2014 White Pinot Noir.

A White Pinot Noir? Yes! This is a white wine made from Pinot Noir grapes.

Left Coast White Pinot NoirThere’s a good chance you’ve tasted a white Pinot Noir before, though in its sparkling form. Ever enjoyed a Blanc de Noirs? Meaning white from black, that’s champagne or sparkling wine made from Pinot Noir (and sometimes Pinot Meunier).

The Left Coast White Pinot Noir is estate grown in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It is 100% Pinot Noir that was fermented and aged on the lees in stainless steel.

The wine is almost colorless, with a faint pink hue when held to the light. On the nose are sweet aromas of white raspberry and wild strawberry. The taste is light and fresh, with flavors of tart yellow plum and McIntosh apple.

Enjoy the wine as an alternative to the summer rosé, as an aperitif or with salads, seafood or grilled chicken.

Once you’ve tasted the Left Coast Cellars White Pinot Noir, be sure to try one of their traditional Pinot Noirs. The AG is a fan of the 2013 Cali’s Cuvee Pinot Noir ($24), which has flavors of ripe cherry, cedar and baking spices.

For more information on Left Coast Cellars visit leftcoastcellars.com.

$24, 14.2% alcohol

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AG Pick: Barrymore Pinot Grigio 2013

Imagine if the bright, upbeat and fun personality of Drew Barrymore could be bottled in a white wine. What you’d get is the 2013 Barrymore Pinot Grigio.

Barrymore Pinot GrigioThe wine is a partnership between Barrymore Wines, founded by the actress and wine enthusiast, and Carmel Road Winery. The grapes are grown in Monterey, California, a cool, coastal region influenced by the Pacific Ocean.

Ideal growing conditions and stainless steel fermentation helped produce a wine that expresses the Pinot Grigio grape in its pure form. Citrus aromas introduce flavors of Meyer lemon, ripe white grapefruit, Asian pear and honeydew. The finish is crisp and refreshing, with lingering wet stone minerality.

The Barrymore Pinot Grigio pairs with a variety of food, from salads and sandwiches to light pasta and fish dishes. Drew recommends sharing it with friends and family as you make memories around the table.

The 2013 Pinot Grigio is the first Barrymore by Carmel Road wine. Additional varietals will be coming out this year.

For more information visit www.BarrymoreWines.com or www.CarmelRoad.com.

$14.99, 13.5% alcohol

albarino

Albariño from Rías Baixas: Your Go-To Summer Wine

If you’re looking for a wine that is synonymous with summer, look no further than Albariño from Rías Baixas. This white wine from northwest Spain is dry and refreshing with a delicious mix of fruit, floral and mineral notes.

To find the Rías Baixas Denominación de Origen (DO) on a map, look to the upper left corner of Spain. It’s located in Galicia, with the Atlantic Ocean to the west and Portugal to the south.

Picnics, pool parties and beyond, Albariño is the wine to uncork at any warm weather celebration. It pairs well with the flavors of the season, especially salads, seafood and shellfish. Or enjoy it with spicy cuisines like Thai, Indian and Mexican.

Albariño is meant to be enjoyed young, from one to three years after its release.

Here are some great Albariños from Rías Baixas to try:

Pazo Señorans Albariño 2013

Pazo Senorans AlbarinoThis Albariño comes from vineyards that are close to the sea, at altitudes of less than 300 meters. Stainless steel and temperature controlled fermentation help preserve the fresh characteristics of the grape.

Pale greenish-yellow in color, the wine opens with aromas of citrus and white flowers that develop on the palate. Refreshing acidity and gentle minerality give the wine a lively mouthfeel, and the crisp finish has a lingering touch of white grapefruit.
$25, 12.5% alcohol

La Val Albariño 2013

La Val AlbarinoThe grapes in this wine come from two estate vineyards at the southern end of the Rías Baixas DO. The Taboexa vineyard with its sandy and granitic soil is situated at 300 meters above sea level, and the Arantei vineyard is at 30 meters above sea level and has clay and pebble soils.

Bright straw yellow in color, the wine has notes of lemon, white apricot and fresh herbs, with orange peel and subtle bay leaf adding depth at the end.
$18, 12.5% alcohol

Burgáns Albariño 2013

Burgans AlbarinoThis wine from Bodegas Martin Códax with its distinctive label is one of the easier to find Albariños at wine shops. It’s named for the hill where the winery is located, which offers views of the Salnés Valley.

Pale yellow in color with some green tint, this wine is aromatic with citrus and stone fruit. Crisp flavors of lemon, golden apple and white peach are nicely balanced with soft acidity. The finish is clean with lingering mineral notes.
$15, 12.5% alcohol

To learn more about Albariño from Rías Baixas visit
www.riasbaixaswines.com.

Kalfu Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

AG Pick: Kalfu Kuda Chardonnay & Sumpai Pinot Noir

The Pacific Ocean is important to the wines of Kalfu. From the Leyda Valley in Chile, these wines are influenced by the cool coastal climate. The ocean is also reflected in the name — Kalfu, meaning “blue” in the language of the indigenous Mapuche, is synonymous with the vast body of water.

The vineyards experience cool breezes and early morning fogs that help to slowly and steadily ripen the grapes. This is captured in the wines, which exude bright and refreshing characteristics.

Kalfu Chardonnay and Pinot NoirThe 2013 Kalfu Kuda Chardonnay is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes from estate vineyards in the Leyda Valley. The soil is a mix of granite and clay. This wine is unoaked; stainless steel fermentation preserves the freshness of the fruit.

At first sniff you might think this Chardonnay is actually a Sauvignon Blanc because of its citrus aromas. Crisp flavors of yellow grapefruit, tart pineapple and golden apple make it a wine you’d want to sip on a hot day. ($18.99, 13% alcohol)

The 2013 Kalfu Sumpai Pinot Noir is light in body with delicate acidity. Think more Washington State or Finger Lakes rather than California. The wine is 100% Pinot Noir from estate vineyards with stony alluvial clay soil in the Leyda Valley. It was aged for 10 months in 20% new French oak.

Cherry, fresh strawberry and yellow plum mix with white pepper and sarsaparilla, and end in a clean, crisp finish. ($23.99, 13.5% alcohol).

Kalfu wines are produced by Viña Ventisquero.

AG Pick: Kimmel Illuminate Chardonnay 2013

Looking for an unoaked Chardonnay at an unbeatable price point? Try the 2013 Illuminate North Coast Chardonnay from Kimmel Vineyards.

Illuminate ChardonnayIt’s a delicious answer to oak fatigue – that sensation when you drink a heavy-handed Chardonnay and you fear you might find a splinter in your tongue. The Illuminate Chardonnay is stainless steel fermented with no oak influence or secondary fermentation. What you get in the glass is pure, fresh fruit.

The Kimmel family has been growing Chardonnay in northern California’s Mendocino County since 1986, on the cattle ranch that was established by Ed and Lillian Kimmel in 1963. Lillian, or Nana as she is affectionately called, is still at the helm and celebrates her 90th birthday this month. Today the fourth generation is cultivating a love for the land.

The 2013 Chardonnay is 100% Chardonnay from the North Coast AVA. The wine is bright yellow in color, with tropical fruit and apple aromas. Flavors of golden apple, Asian pear, pineapple and guava come together in a lingering gently tart finish. Bright acidity adds a refreshing mouthfeel.

For this kind of taste, you won’t believe that the Illuminate North Coast Chardonnay costs just $9.99 a bottle.

Kimmel produces a variety of premium and everyday wines. For more information visit kimmelvineyards.com.

14.5% alcohol

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