Tag Archives: American oak

Federalist Dueling Pistols

AG Pick: The Federalist Dueling Pistols 2014

How does a Syrah, Zinfandel, red blend from the West Coast
Taste when you raise it for a toast?

I’ve had the hit musical Hamilton on the brain for months and I couldn’t help but think about the opening number when I was pouring a glass of The Federalist Dueling Pistols.

The name of the wine was inspired by the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. The 2014 vintage is a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Zinfandel from the Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma.

Federalist Dueling PistolsDueling Pistols is the latest wine from The Federalist, a series of wines that honor America’s Founding Fathers and their ideals.

It’s a great concept for a California red wine blend. Zinfandel, a proudly American grape (and definitely the Hamilton in this duel), faces off with Syrah, a grape that can be on its own or in blends, but is typically blended with Rhone varieties including Grenache and Mourvedre.

The Syrah and Zinfandel grapes for Dueling Pistols were separately fermented. After blending, the wine spent 15 months in 20% new American and Hungarian oak barrels. American oak was used to add sweeter notes, Hungarian to add spice.

Fortunately for us, this duel has a happy outcome – a rich and robust wine that’s enjoyable to drink.

Dark purple in color as you would expect with these two grapes, The Federalist Dueling Pistols has spicy berry and smoky aromas. The taste is bold with flavors of black cherry, ripe plum and blackberry rounded out with black pepper, root beer and a touch of smoked meat. Smooth tannins and good acidity give the wine a supple mouthfeel.

Pair the Federalist Dueling Pistols with roasted chicken or turkey, or red meat. Fittingly, it’s perfect at an all-American barbecue.

The only duel you might find yourself in is fighting over the last sip.

A bottle of The Federalist 2014 Dueling Pistols costs $29.

The Federalist wines are produced by Terlato Wines. Dueling Pistols is not associated with Hamilton: An American Musical.

14.5% alcohol

Codorniu Raventos

Rioja vs Ribera del Duero: A Tale of Two Tempranillos

Can you taste the difference between Tempranillo from Rioja and Ribera del Duero in a blind tasting?

The question was posed to a group of wine professionals last week. We had gathered at St. Cecilia in Buckhead for a lunch and tasting with two Spanish winemakers: Diego Pinilla of Bodegas Bilbainas in Rioja and Jorge Bombin of Legaris in Ribera del Duero. The wineries are part of the Codorníu Raventós group.

Both winemakers offered a glass of what they felt was the characteristic Tempranillo of their region. They then offered a brief history of their winery and how the location affects the Tempranillo grape, to assist us in guessing each wine.

Spain wine mapBodegas Bilbainas is located in the city of Haro in Rioja Alta (within the darker shaded portion in orange on the map). It was established in 1901, and was the first bottler in Rioja. With the Atlantic Ocean 100 miles to the north, the vineyards are influenced by the Atlantic climate. Clay soils give the vines water little by little, and mountains protect the vineyards from getting too cold.

Legaris is located along the Duero River in the Ribera del Duero region (within the darker shaded portion in yellow). It was established in 1999, bringing together tradition and innovation. The vineyards are planted at an average elevation of 2800 feet, and are influenced by a harsh continental climate with hot summers and low rainfall. Pebble soils reflect the sunlight back towards the vines.

Based on the terroir and growing conditions, Tempranillo from Rioja is typically higher in acidity with floral and red fruit notes. Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero is typically higher in alcohol content with black fruit notes.

Then it was time for the blind tasting. After knowing what differences to look for in the wines – acidity, alcohol and fruit – it was clear that the wine on our left was from Rioja, and the wine on the right was from Ribera del Duero.

The wines were revealed: Viña Pomal 2010 Reserva from Bodegas Bilbainas and Legaris 2011 Crianza.

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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

Biltmore American Series

The American Series from The Biltmore Estate

The Biltmore Estate is all decked out for the holidays, making it a picturesque time to visit. But if you’re not able to tour the historic home and winery, you can still bring a part of it into your home.

The American Series of wines from the Biltmore Estate are American grown and North Carolina produced. Winemakers source the grapes from top vineyards and growers in California and Washington, then craft the wines at the estate winery in Asheville.

Biltmore American Pinot GrigioThe Biltmore Estate American Pinot Grigio 2013 is light and refreshing with citrus, pear and apple notes and a touch of sweet tangerine. It’s a blend of California (90%) and Washington (10%) grapes, with a small amount of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay added to the Pinot Grigio. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks at a low temperature to preserve the fresh fruit characteristics.

Winemakers at the Biltmore Estate suggest pairing the American Pinot Grigio with calamari with creamy lime sauce, scallops wrapped in bacon, crab cakes, chicken, seafood and tuna salads. $12, 13.6% alcohol

Biltmore American Pinot NoirThe Biltmore Estate American Pinot Noir 2012 has the lushness you look for in Pinot with an inviting spiciness from the addition of Syrah. Costing less than $20, it’s a great value. The grapes for this wine came entirely from California. After fermentation the wine spent six to eight months aging in stainless steel tanks, French and American oak barrels. Red cherry, plum and vanilla flavors mingle with white pepper and baking spice.

A versatile wine, the Biltmore Estate American Pinot Noir may be enjoyed with the varied flavors of any holiday meal. Other suggested pairings include salmon, smoked turkey, barbecue and Boursin cheese.
$17, 14.2% alcohol

Biltmore American Cabernet SauvignonThe Biltmore Estate American Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 brings together California, Washington and North Carolina, with 45% of the grapes coming from the estate vineyards in Asheville (46% from California and 9% from Washington). Rounding out the Cabernet Sauvignon is a touch of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Malbec and Pinot Noir. The wine was aged eight to twelve months in French and American oak barrels before it was blended and bottled. Medium in body with soft tannins, the red wine has supple notes of black currant, black cherry, boysenberry, vanilla and rosemary.

Suggested pairings from the Biltmore winemakers include lamb with rosemary, hamburgers and smoked Gouda cheese.
$17, 13.6% alcohol

For more information on the American Series and the other wines from the Biltmore Estate visit biltmorewines.com.

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