Tag Archives: 2011

Patel wines

Patel: Small Winery with Big Taste

When Robert Parker awards your first wine a 95, you know you’ve made something special.

But don’t let that number bias you toward Patel Winery. It’s more of a treat if you taste the Napa wines without any preconceived notions. That’s how I came to meet owner Raj Patel, at last year’s High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction. His wines – a Cabernet Sauvignon and the Red Wine, a Bordeaux-style blend – were among my favorite discoveries at the event. When I found out that Raj was returning for this year’s auction, I couldn’t wait to meet with him and taste his current releases.

Patel winesRaj founded Patel Winery in 2006. He secured fruit and a custom crush facility in 2007, and made some wine in 2008. In 2009 he joined the Napa Valley Vintners Association and submitted his Cabernet for review with Robert Parker. More recently he brought on Luc Morlet, one of Napa’s top winemakers. Patel Winery sources its grapes from six vineyards and makes the wine at Luc’s winery.

I could go on for several paragraphs about how the Patel wines are intense yet elegant, with layers of fruit and earth notes that end in a long finish. But here’s all you need to know: Patel wines are really really good.

Over breakfast the morning of the 2015 High Museum Atlanta Wine Auction, Raj and I spoke about Patel Winery, what makes the wines unique and what’s next. Continue reading

Faust Cabernet Sauvignon

AG Pick: Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

The Faust of legend sold his soul for knowledge and worldly pleasures. Fortunately for us, there is no need to make a deal with the Devil to enjoy the Faust 2011 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

The man behind the California legend is Agustin Huneeus, best known for Quintessa. With a career in wine that has spanned 50 years and 15 countries, Agustin sought the thrill of a new endeavor – to renew his passion, much like Dr. Faust.

Faust Cabernet SauvignonWhereas Quintessa is a reflection of the vineyard, Faust is a reflection of the grape. It’s a tribute to Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, made with grapes from Agustin’s family vineyards in Rutherford and Coombsville. Small lots from nearby appellations round out the blend.

The 2011 wine is 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 3% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc. It spent 19 months aging in French oak, of which 30% was new.

Intensely aromatic, the Faust starts off big and bold with notes of juicy red and black fruit, tobacco and spice. Decant it or let it sit in your glass, and the wine will soften into an elegant and complex sip. Blackberry, cassis and ripe red cherry are layered with dark chocolate, black pepper, leather and cigar box. It’s velvety in the mouth, with a lingering spicy finish.

For more information visit www.faustwine.com.

$50, 14.2% alcohol by volume

AG Pick: Elizabeth Chambers Cellar Winemaker’s Cuvée 2011 Pinot Noir

Are you a fan of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir? Then you’ll want to pick up a bottle of Elizabeth Chambers Cellar 2011 Winemaker’s Cuvée, now available in Georgia.

The boutique winery in McMinnville is owned by Liz Chambers, a third generation Oregonian who specializes in high-end Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley.

Elizabeth Chambers Pinot NoirWorking with winemaker Michael Stevenson, Liz sources grapes from top growers in the region who use environmentally friendly farming techniques. Grapes for the 2011 cuvée were largely from Freedom Hill and Lazy River vineyards, which benefitted from warm days and cool nights.

It’s not just fans of Willamette Valley Pinot who will enjoy this wine. Bright and lively with fresh fruit and floral notes, the Winemaker’s Cuvée has that nuance and elegance you look for in Pinot Noir.

The wine opens with fresh aromas of cherry, raspberry and rose. These are further expressed on the palate, layered with ripe strawberry, cola, subtle cigar tobacco and a lingering hint of oak. It’s silky in texture, with well-balanced acidity and soft tannins.

The Elizabeth Chambers Cellar 2011 Winemaker’s Cuvée Pinot Noir is available in the northwest, Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Illinois and Washington, DC.

For more information visit elizabethchamberscellar.com.

$32, 13.3% alcohol by volume

photo credit: Marc Weisberg Photography

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AG Pick: The Federalist Zinfandel 2011

Are you a Scandal fan and looking for a red wine to sip along with Olivia Pope? Or are you interested in something dark and intense to go along with the schemes on House of Cards? Try a bottle of the 2011 Federalist Zinfandel.

Federalist ZinfandelUniquely American from the grape to the image of Alexander Hamilton on the label, this wine from Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley is a toast to our nation’s heritage. It is made entirely from Zinfandel, a grape that took root not too long after Hamilton and the Founding Fathers worked to establish the United States.

There is no need to be a fixer or a manipulator to enjoy the wine. This Zinfandel is a crowd-pleasing mix of dark berry and spice flavors with a velvety texture. Bold yet refined notes of blackberry, black currant, boysenberry and plum are layered with black pepper and cinnamon. It feels smooth and lively in the mouth, with gentle tannins and good acidity.

The Federalist Zinfandel pairs with a variety of foods including grilled or baked chicken, hamburgers, prime rib and lamb. Or just enjoy a glass with your favorite television show.

$24.99, 14.9% alcohol by volume

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Cultivate Wines: Socially Responsible Sipping

Sharing a bottle of wine has long been a social activity. The team at Cultivate Wines believes it should be a socially responsible activity as well.

Cultivate WinesCultivate’s founders Ali and Charles Banks believe that with this mission, for-profit companies have the potential to impact the world. For every dollar in sales, Cultivate gives ten cents back to local communities. Since its launch in 2011, Cultivate has donated more than $400,000 to charities that help fund opportunity and hope.

The Banks have decades of experience in find wine — as the former owners of Screaming Eagle and owners of Terroir Selections, whose profile includes Sandhi, Mayacamas, Mulderbosch and Leviathan.

While the wines for Cultivate come from all over the globe, they share qualities that make them approachable and easy to drink. Director of Winemaking Nat Gunter searches for vineyard sites and growers with unique stories or personalities. The winemaking team tastes thousands of juice samples to ensure quality and variety.

Cultivate WinesFor an introduction to Cultivate Wines, the Amateur Gastronomer suggests the Dream Walking 2010 Chardonnay or the Copa Cabana 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon-Carmenère.

The Dream Walking Chardonnay comes from Mendocino and Santa Rita Hills in California. It’s a classic California Chardonnay, with aromas of apple and tropical fruits introducing a palate of Meyer lemon, pineapple, golden apple, chamomile and marzipan. The wine is smooth and round in the mouth, with lingering notes of citrus and sweet almond.

The Copa Cabana is a blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Carmenère and 10% Syrah from Curicó in Chile’s Central Valley. It’s a ripe and juicy red, with a crowd-pleasing mix of fruit and spice. Flavors of boysenberry, blackcurrant, plum and blackberry jam mingle with black pepper, clove and leather. Smooth tannins give the wine a nice texture and finish.

Cultivate Wines are wallet-friendly too. The Dream Walking Chardonnay costs $18, and the Copa Cabana costs $12.

For more information on Cultivate Wines visit www.cultivatewines.com.

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AG Pick: Grey Carmenere 2011

If you’re a regular reader of the Amateur Gastronomer, you know how much we love Chilean Carménère. The latest one we’re enjoying is the 2011 Grey Carménère from Viña Ventisquero.

Grey Carmenere 2011This wine was made from a small harvest of grapes from a specific section of a vineyard in the coastal Maipo Valley – Block 5, in the Trinidad Vineyard. This site was selected for its unique climate and soil; the grapes grown here are marked by their concentrated flavor. The wine spent 18 months in French oak barrels.

The wine is deep purple red, almost black in color, and has all those inviting aromas you want in a Carménère – pepper, leather, smoke and dark berries.

While spice and earthy notes dominate the nose, it is the berry notes that come through first on the palate. Flavors of blackberry, black cherry, boysenberry and cassis are layered with tobacco, black pepper, wood smoke, mocha and a hint of vanilla.

This Carménère is silky in the mouth with well-integrated tannins, and a satisfying finish with lingering warm spice.

Pair the Viña Ventisquero Grey Carménère with steak, roasted or grilled pork and game meats. Decant the wine or give it time in the glass to fully enjoy it.

$24, 14% alcohol by volume

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Wallet-Friendly Red Wines for Fall

Looking for a new great value wine to try this fall? Try one of these three reds:

Esporao Monte Velho RedHerdade do Esporão Monte Velho Red 2012

Portugal

Set a place at the dinner table for this medium bodied, food-friendly wine from the Alentejo region of Portugal. The wine is a blend of indigenous grapes Aragonês (40%) and Trincadeira (35%) along with Touriga Nacional (20%) and Syrah (5%). Vibrant berry aromas introduce flavors of cherry, raspberry, and cassis. The fruit is layered with white pepper, clove and subtle toasted oak. If you’re not familiar with the wines of Portugal, Esporão offers an excellent introduction.

$10, 14% alcohol by volume

Rib Shack RedRib Shack Red 2012

South Africa

With its smoky and earthy flavors, this wine from the Western Cape in South Africa is the perfect pairing for barbecues and tailgates. The wine from Douglas Green is 60% Pinotage and 40% Shiraz. Intense tobacco, leather and wood smoke aromas and flavors are supported nicely by black cherry, boysenberry and plum. Silky tannins give the wine a smooth mouthfeel, and the finish is satisfying with lingering dark berry and mocha.

$10, 13% alcohol by volume

Dead Bolt Winemaker's BlendDead Bolt Winemaker’s Red Blend 2011

California

Juicy and jammy, this wine can warm you up as the temperature drops. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Petit Sirah and Shiraz from California by Australian winemaker Philip Laffer. Black plum, baked cherries and sweet tannins make for a bold first impression. This is followed by a silky finish that has a touch of nutmeg. From the flashy label to the full flavor, this wine is anything but shy.

$14, 13% alcohol by volume

 

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AG Pick: Sierra Batuco Carmenere 2011

With its spicy, peppery and intense dark fruit notes, Carmenere is the kind of wine that matches the feel of fall. And after just one sip, you’ll fall in love with the Sierra Batuco Carmenere Reserva 2011.

Sierra Batuco CarmenereCarmenere is a red wine grape that originated in Bordeaux, though today you’ll mainly find it in Chile. If you like Malbec or Syrah, you’ll be a fan.

Sierra Batuco’s vineyards are located in the hills of Chile’s coastal mountains in the Maule Valley. It’s a newly discovered viticultural zone, with cool daytime temperatures, long dry summers and deep clay soils.

This wine is made entirely from Carmenere that was hand harvested and fermented in stainless steel tanks. The wine spent 8 months in a mix of new and used oak barrels.

Aromas of pepper, dried leaves and black fruit draw you in. The taste is intense yet elegant, with flavors of black and green pepper, baking spice and tobacco layered with blackberry, raspberry, black cherry and a hint of mocha. The wine is silky smooth in the mouth, with a long and satisfying finish.

Pair the Sierra Batuco Carmenere Reserva with pork, lamb, steak, burgers and other grilled red meats.

$17, 13.9% alcohol

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Helfrich: White Wines from Alsace

Elegance is the word that comes to mind when sipping the wines of Helfrich. A limited selection of white wines from the family-owned winery in Alsace, France are now available in the United States.

Helfrich winesThe Helfrich Cremant d’Alsace Brut demonstrates that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a high quality French sparkling wine. Made entirely from Pinot Blanc, it has notes of fresh lemon, white grapefruit, white flowers and toast. Click here to see a full article on the Helfrich Cremant d’Alsace.
$20, 12.1% abv

The grapes for the 2012 Helfrich Pinot Blanc come from the Couronne d’Or (Golden Crown), an association of vineyards and winemakers in the middle of Alsace. Tart citrus aromas introduce flavors of lemon custard, white grapefruit and subtle orange blossom, with notes of white flowers that expand as the wine warms in the glass. Pair the Helfrich Pinot Blanc with salads, shellfish, white fish and Asian dishes.
$15, 12.96% abv

The grapes for the Helfrich Pinot Gris Grand Cru and Gewurztraminer Grand Cru come from the Steinklotz vineyard, one of only 51 vineyards in Alsace that has the Grand Cru designation. It is located at the northern end of the Alsatian wine trail and is one of the oldest vineyards recorded in Alsace.

Helfrich Grand CruThe 2011 Helfrich Pinot Gris Grand Cru offers a great balance of sweetness and acidity. The nose and palate are dominated by stone fruit – apricot, white peach and lychee are layered with gardenia, orange blossom honey and a subtle hint of smoke. It is a touch less sweet than the Gewurztraminer. Pair the 2011 Helfrich Pinot Gris Grand Cru with baked ham, roasted chicken and seafood dishes.
$20, 12.5% abv

Ripe fruit and delicate floral notes make the 2009 Helfrich Gewurztraminer Grand Cru a real treat. The nose is wonderfully fragrant with honeysuckle, gardenia and apricot aromas. Lush flavors of orange blossom, tangerine, wildflower honey and gentle minerality culminate in a finish with lingering candied orange and ginger. The Helfrich Gewurztraminer is excellent as a dessert wine, or can be paired with lobster, scallops, spicy Asian dishes and soft and aged cheese.
$20, 12.61% alcohol

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AG Pick: Georges Duboeuf Fleurie Clos des Quatre Vents

It’s hot outside but you’re still in the mood for a red wine. The solution: a bottle of the 2011 Georges Duboeuf Fleurie Clos des Quatre Vents.

Duboeuf Fleurie Clos des Quatre VentsThis wine comes from the Fleurie appellation, one of the Beaujolais Crus in France’s Burgundy region. It is made entirely from Gamay grapes.

There is so much more to Beaujolais wine than Beaujolais Nouveau – and this wine demonstrates why. The flavors in the Clos des Quatre Vents are darker and more intense, with more present tannins giving the wine a good structure.

Deep garnet red in color, the light to medium-bodied wine opens with aromas of red and purple berries. The palate has a mix of fresh raspberry, boysenberry and plum with blackberry jam and a hint of crushed black pepper. Subtle floral notes of violet and rose are woven throughout, and linger on the silky finish.

Because it should be served slightly chilled (around 60°F), the Georges Duboeuf Fleurie Clos des Quatre Vents is a great red wine for a hot day. It’s perfect at outdoor barbecues and pairs well with grilled chicken, pork, hamburgers and lean steaks, as well as aged cheese.

$19, 13% alcohol by volume

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