Tag Archives: 2012

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: Loveblock Pinot Noir 2012

Celebrate love this Valentine’s Day and beyond with a bottle of the 2012 Loveblock Pinot Noir. This red wine comes from Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand. It’s a region known for high quality Pinot Noir, and Loveblock is just that.

Loveblock Pinot NoirThe winery was founded by Erica and Kim Crawford. Kim, Loveblock’s winemaker, is probably best known for the wines that carry his name, though he is no longer involved with the brand.

As the floral label would indicate, Loveblock is an aromatic Pinot Noir. Red fruit and violet aromas are further expressed on the palate. Cherry, raspberry and ripe strawberry flavors mix with white pepper and sage. The finish has a subtle note of dried mushroom.

The Loveblock Pinot Noir is light to medium in body, with a silky texture. It pairs well with a variety of foods so enjoy it with aphrodisiacs or at a romantic dinner with your Valentine.

For more information on Loveblock wines visit loveblock.co.nz. Loveblock Pinot Noir is imported by Terlato Wines.

$37, 14% alcohol

Finger Lakes wine

Cabernet Franc and Lemberger: Red Wines of the Finger Lakes

Riesling is the undisputed signature white wine grape of the Finger Lakes. But as for the signature red wine grape of this region in upstate New York, should it be Cabernet Franc or Lemberger? The answer isn’t as clear.

The question was posed to a panel of winemakers and winery representatives during a virtual tasting of Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc and Lemberger, organized by the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance.

I joined other wine writers and bloggers in tasting, talking and tweeting about the red wines.

First up was the Cabernet Franc.

Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc

The wines tasted were:

Heron Hill Winery 2012 Cabernet Franc
Vineyards located on the west side of Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.
Aged for 20 months in French, Eastern European and American oak barrels. Aromas of clove and toasted wood with flavors of jammy cherry and plum with a subtle hint of eucalyptus.
heronhill.com

McGregor Vineyard 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve
Vineyards located on the east side of Cayuga Lake.
Aged for 13 months in oak barrels. Berry aromas and flavors, with notes of sweet oak and black tea and smooth tannins.
mcgregorwinery.com

Damiani Wine Cellars 2012 Cabernet Franc
Vineyards located on the west side of Cayuga Lake and east side of Seneca Lake.
Aged for 8 months in French and American oak barrels (16% new American oak). Aromas of stewed berries and wood spice, with flavors of dark plum, blackberry, cocoa and cigarbox.
damianiwinecellars.com

So why should Cabernet Franc be considered for the signature red wine grape of the Finger Lakes?

As the panel explained, Cabernet Franc is well suited to the Finger Lakes climate. Wines produced there have good acidity and are very food friendly. They are more fruit driven, with crisp, clear flavors. In the Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc is also excellent as a rosé.

The panel recommended pairing Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc with grilled steak, anything with mushrooms, or a dish that is earthy and charred. One winemaker suggested enjoying a glass with a beet and goat cheese salad.

Next it was time to taste Lemberger. Also known as Blaufrankisch, this grape is grown across Central Europe. Most wineries in the Finger Lakes have chosen to use Lemberger, not Blaufrankisch, on their labels.

Finger Lakes Lemberger

The wines tasted were:

Lakewood Vineyards 2012 Lemberger
Vineyards located on the west side of Seneca Lake.
Aged for 10 months in 50% New York oak, 40% other American oak and 10% French oak barrels. Aromas of raspberry and blueberry with black pepper, cocoa, toast and a touch of spice.
lakewoodvineyards.com

Fulkerson Winery 2012 Lemberger
Vineyards located on the west side of Seneca Lake.
Aged for one year in French oak barrels. Sweet cherry, plum and smoky oak aromas with flavors of ripe berries and a silky finish.
fulkersonwinery.com

Fox Run Vineyards 2012 Lemberger
Vineyards located on the west side of Seneca Lake.
Aged for 18 months in French and American oak barrels. Aromas of blackberry, raspberry and freshly ground black pepper with flavors of black cherry, plum, sweet vanilla and spice.
foxrunvineyards.com

So why should Lemberger be considered for the signature red wine grape of the Finger Lakes? The first and most obvious reason is that there aren’t a lot of other wine regions in the United States that are focusing on growing Lemberger. In addition to doing well in the Finger Lakes climate, it is an easier grape to grow. It consistently ripens, and neither the deer nor the turkeys like it (apparently turkeys love Pinot Noir).

Wine produced from Lemberger grapes has a rustic and wild character to it, and really benefits from oak. Without oak, the wine lacks a persistence of flavor and length. In the Finger Lakes Lemberger blends the fruit-forward New World style with the food-friendly nature of an Old World wine. The wines are lower in alcohol and have good acidity.

The panel suggested pairing Finger Lakes Lemberger with beef and hearty pasta dishes like lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs.

At the end of the tasting the vote on which should be the signature red wine grape of the Finger Lakes was still split.

The verdict that anyone could agree upon – pick up a bottle of Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc or Lemberger and taste them for yourself!

For more information visit fingerlakeswinealliance.com.

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

AG Pick: Septima Malbec 2012

After paying tribute to Cahors, France, the birthplace of Malbec, it’s time to return to South America. The 2012 Septima Malbec is a great example of how well this red wine grape does in Argentina.

Bodega Septima was founded in 1999 as the seventh (septima in Spanish) winery from the Codorníu-Raventós family of Spain. The winery is located in Luján de Cuyo in the Mendoza region. The vines are planted at an altitude of 3,400 feet above sea level in deep sandy loam soils, and benefit from natural irrigation from the melting snow on the Andes Mountains. Hot days and cool nights are ideal for developing the flavors and maintaining acidity in the Malbec grapes.

Septima MalbecThe 2012 vintage is 100% Malbec. Half of the grapes came from Luján de Cuyo, and the other half came from the stony soils of the Eugenio Bustos district in the Uco Valley. Grapes were harvested by hand, and the wine was aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels.

The wine is deep purple red in color, almost black. Intense aromas of blackberries, cassis, plum and black pepper draw you in. The black fruit notes develop and expand on the palate, giving way to earthy leather, wood smoke and spice. Well integrated tannins give the wine a lush and velvety mouthfeel.

With any Malbec from Bodega Septima you get quality and consistency, and a great price. A bottle of the 2012 Septima Malbec costs $10.99.

For more information on the wines from Bodega Septima visit www.bodegaseptima.com.

14% alcohol

Related: Cahors Malbec and the South America Connection

Collazzi Liberta Toscana

AG Pick: Libertà dei Collazzi Toscana IGT 2012

Somehow Tuscany is both approachable and intimidating. Approachable because it’s one of the best known wine regions in Italy, thanks to Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, “Super Tuscans” and an extremely photogenic landscape. Intimidating because of the number of wines produced and labels that may need deciphering to figure out what you’re drinking.

Today we’re sharing a Tuscan wine that doesn’t need an advanced sommelier degree to enjoy.

Collazzi Liberta Toscana 2012The Libertà Toscana IGT 2012 comes from the Collazzi estate just south of Florence in the heart of the Chianti Classico. Designated as IGT – Indicazione Geografica Tipica – this wine may be considered a Super Tuscan as it is made with non-native grapes and a small portion of Sangiovese (and thereby does not meet the stricter requirements for a DOC or DOCG designation).

Libertà means freedom, and is a reference to the Collazzi coat-of-arms. It is a blend of 55% Merlot, 30% Syrah and 15% Sangiovese. The grapes were hand harvested and the wine spent 10 months aging partly in oak barrels.

The wine opens with spiced red fruit aromas. Flavors of cherry and red currant mingle with cedar, nutmeg and balsamic. There is a hint of sun-baked tomatoes that calls to mind images of sun drenched Tuscan vineyards. Round tannins and a smooth, lingering finish make this a crowd-pleasing wine to sip with friends.

For more information on the wines of Collazzi visit collazziusa.com.

$24, 14% alcohol by volume

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Twitter: @CollazziUSA

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Grey Single Block Pinot Noir 2012 #vinogram

Grey Pinot NoirGrey Single Block Pinot Noir 2012, from Las Terrazas vineyard in Chile’s Leyda Valley. 100% Pinot Noir. 12 months in French oak (15% new). Soft & silky with notes of black cherry, plum, blueberry. Balanced acidity, rounded tannins. Pair with fish, pasta, soup & cheese. $23.99 #vinogram #agpick #wine #Chile

More information: www.ventisquero.com

AG Pick: Colliano Peneča Rebula Brut

One taste of the Colliano Peneča Rebula Brut 2012 and you’ll want to enjoy it any night of the week. And with a wallet-friendly price tag, you can.

Colliano Peneca RebulaNewly available in the United States, this sparkling wine comes from Goriška Brda in Slovenia, a hilly region that is just over the border from Italy. It is 100% Ribolla Gialla (Rebula in the Slovene language), a white wine grape that is most commonly grown in Friuli-Venezia Giulia in northeast Italy.

Peneča, pronounced peh-neh-cha, means “sparkling.” This wine was made using the Charmat method, just like Prosecco. The secondary fermentation that forms the bubbles takes place in tanks, rather than in the bottle as with the traditional method. The grapes were harvested by hand, and the wine spent six months aging on the lees.

While Prosecco is typically sweet, the Peneča Rebula Brut is dry. Rounded flavors of Meyer lemon, green apple and orange peel are balanced by crisp acidity. It’s medium bodied and lively with a creamy mouthfeel, and ready to drink now.

A bottle of the Peneča Rebula Brut costs approximately $17 to $19. Enjoy it as an aperitif or with shellfish, fresh cheeses and salads.

12.5% alcohol by volume

If the Peneča Rebula Brut isn’t available at your favorite wine shop in Atlanta, ask for it. Colliano wines are imported by Laureate Imports Company and distributed by Savannah Distributing Company.

Related: Colliano – Wines from Slovenia

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Bernardus Sauvignon Blanc

Standout Sauvignon Blanc from California

Made famous by France and today grown all over the world, Sauvignon Blanc is a favorite among white wine drinkers. But you don’t need to go international to find a world class Sauvignon Blanc – just look to California.

Here are the Amateur Gastronomer’s picks for standout Sauvignon Blanc from California.

If the warm weather isn’t reason enough to try these wines, pick up a bottle for International Sauvignon Blanc Day, on Friday May 16th. Share what you’re sipping with us @amgastronomer on Twitter and Instagram with #SauvBlanc.

Arkenstone NVD Sauvignon Blanc 2012

There’s a new Sauvignon Blanc from Arkenstone Vineyards. The Howell Mountain winery has expanded beyond its estate vines on the western shoulder to include grapes in the larger Napa Valley AVA.

Arkenstone NVD Sauvignon BlancWinemaker Sam Kaplan uses similar techniques with the Napa Valley District Sauvignon Blanc as he does with the Estate wine to add complementary rounded and creamy notes to the fruit and floral flavors.

The 2012 Arkenstone NVD is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. After fermentation the wine spent 11 months on the lees in a combination of new and used French oak and concrete.

Enticing aromas of green apple, pineapple, kiwi and white flowers invite you to take a sip. The taste is sophisticated with layered pear, white peach, mango, honeydew and jasmine. It’s soft in the mouth, with good acidity and wet stone minerality adding freshness. The finish is long with lingering apple and peach notes. Look for the official release of the 2012 Arkenstone NVD Sauvignon Blanc in July.

$45, 14.5% alcohol, arkenstone.com
335 West Lane, Angwin, California
707.965.1020

Bernardus Griva Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Just a short drive from the world-famous destinations of Pebble Beach, Monterey Bay Aquarium and picturesque Carmel-by-the-Sea is the Bernardus Lodge and Winery. Owner Bernardus (Ben) Pon selected the location with the dream to make a red wine in the Carmel Valley equal to the finest from Bordeaux.

Bernardus Griva Sauvignon BlancA standout in its own right is the winery’s take on white Bordeaux. As is common in Bordeaux, Bernardus’ Sauvignon Blanc has a small percent of Semillon added to the final blend.

The grapes for this white wine come from Griva Vineyard in the Arroyo Seco AVA, just south of Santa Lucia Highlands in the Salinas Valley. The Sauvignon Blanc was hand picked and fermented in stainless steel at cool temperatures using three specially selected yeasts. The finished wine has 5% barrel fermented Semillon, added to enhance its richness and complexity.

Wonderfully aromatic with tropical fruit and citrus, the Bernardus Griva Sauvignon Blanc has flavors of white apricot, passion fruit, grapefruit and lime zest with subtle grassy notes on the crisp finish. Refreshing acidity gives the wine a lively mouthfeel, with gentle minerality adding structure.

$22, 13.7% alcohol, bernardus.com
5 West Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley, California
831.298.8021

Galerie Equitem 2012

The debut vintage of Equitem and the newly launched Galerie series is an exciting introduction to winemaker Laura Díaz Muñoz, who brings together European techniques and traditions with New World fruit. Her education and Galerie Equitemwinemaking career began in Spain, with stops in New Zealand and Chile before arriving in Napa and working alongside acclaimed Cardinale winemaker Chris Carpenter.

Equitem, meaning “knight” in Latin, is made entirely of Sauvignon Blanc from Knights Valley in Sonoma. The wine was aged on the lees, half in neutral French oak barrels and half in stainless steel tanks. It was stirred three times per week in barrel and two times per week in tank to enhance the mouthfeel of the finished wine.

Showcasing an artistry both inside and outside the bottle, the Equitem Sauvignon Blanc is nuanced and elegant with slate minerality and lively acidity. Golden apple, pear, white peach and guava mingle with white flowers, meringue and subtle vanilla, culminating in a crisp citrus finish.

You’ll also want to try sister wine Naissance, Galerie’s Sauvignon Blanc from the Napa Valley.

$30, 14.3% alcohol, galeriewines.com
P.O. Box 328, Oakville, California

866.715.1993

Round Pond Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc 2013

How do you make your Sauvignon Blanc stand out in a region that is best known for Cabernet Sauvignon? You focus on the purity of fruit and make the wine as Round Pond Sauvignon Blancclean as possible to highlight the quality of the vineyard. That’s according to Round Pond managing partner Miles MacDonnell, whose family has owned the farm, winery and olive mill since 1983.

Working with winemaker Muiris Griffin, the MacDonnells aim to produce a more classic expression of Sauvignon Blanc that is stylistically closer to Graves in Bordeaux. After a near perfect growing season in 2013, the grapes were hand harvested, whole-cluster pressed and fermented entirely in stainless steel. No malolactic fermentation was allowed to occur.

Crisp and refreshing are words that immediately come to mind. Aromas of lemon, golden pear and just ripened peach expand on the palate along with bright flavors of white grapefruit, melon, starfruit, lime and a hint of lemongrass.

$24, 14.5% alcohol, roundpond.com
875 Rutherford Road, Rutherford, California
707.302.2575

Séamus Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2013

You can’t beat sipping a chilled Sauvignon Blanc outdoors on a hot afternoon in the South – one of the reasons owner and winemaker James Foley Jr. was inspired to make it. Working with his father James Sr. in Marietta, Georgia, James Jr. divides his time between his home in Savannah and winemaking facility in San Francisco.

Seamus Sauv BlancSéamus (the Gaelic equivalent of “James”) focuses on premium, handcrafted wines from California, sourcing grapes from top appellations. The grapes for the Sauvignon Blanc come from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma.

“I try to stick to the traditional European style but I don’t want to hide the opulence of new world fruit,” says Foley Jr., who used a slow fermentation technique in stainless steel to preserve the tropical fruit characteristics.

Apple and citrus aromas introduce flavors of green apple, honeydew, mango and pineapple. The wine is well balanced with refreshing acidity, and ends with a deliciously crisp and dry finish.

When you pick up a bottle of the Séamus Sauvignon Blanc you’ll notice a tribute to home – the label is an image of the live oaks that line the entrance to Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah.

$29, 14.4% alcohol, seamuswines.com
2455 3rd Street, San Francisco, California
415.939.1735

For information on purchasing the wines visit their websites, and look for the wines at wine shops and restaurants.

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Earth-Friendly Wines from Chile

Looking for a planet-friendly wine for Earth Day? It’s as easy as a trip to your local grocery store.

Concha y Toro is not just a maker of widely available white and red wines from Chile – they are also committed to sustainable and earth-friendly practices. In December 2013 they were named a “Leading Company in Climate Change Management” by non-profit organization Fundación Chile.

Conchay Toro vineyardAs the second largest winery in the world as measured by vineyard ownership, Concha y Toro realizes the importance of mitigating their environmental impact.

Through water footprint and carbon footprint management Concha y Toro has lessened their use of both. The winery estimates it uses 25% less water to produce a glass of wine than the estimated global average. They also use lighter weight glass bottles that further reduce their carbon usage, which is important as they ship wines to more than 135 countries.

Concha y Toro vineyardsAdditionally, Concha y Toro selected their newest vineyards in areas that can withstand the impact of global climate change. The wines in the Serie Riberas (Riverbank Series) Gran Reserva line benefit from natural elements like elevation and proximity to water, while highlighting unique terroirs in Chile.

Here are a couple of wines to try:

Concha y Toro WinesSerie Riberas Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2012
Part of the Riverbank Series, this wine is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes that come from a vineyard near the Rapel river in Litueche, in Chile’s Colchagua Valley. Aromas of tropical fruits lead to flavors of golden apple, pear, pineapple and vanilla with gentle minerality and a touch of toasted hazelnut on the finish.
$16.99

 

Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
From Chile’s Central Valley, this red wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. The name, “cellar of the devil,” comes from a rumor started in the 19th century by founder Don Melchor about the cellar that held his best wines, to dissuade his vineyard workers from entering and sampling them. The medium-bodied wine opens with berry and spice aromas. Flavors of cherry, plum and red and black currant mingle with black pepper and toasted oak. Easy to drink and at a wallet-friendly price, it’s no surprise this is a popular Cabernet Sauvignon.
$10.99

Earth Day may only come once a year, but the wines of Concha y Toro can be enjoyed all year round.

For more on Concha y Toro visit www.conchaytoro.com.

vineyard photos courtesy Concha y Toro

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