Tag Archives: Sauvignon Blanc

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.

More White Wines | Red Wines | Under $20

Seduce Your Senses with Fifty Shades of Grey Wine

Want to add some spice to your Valentine’s Day? Or maybe something sweet is more your style?

Titillate your taste buds with a glass of Fifty Shades of Grey White Silk or Red Satin, wines inspired by the sensual series.

As Anastasia Steele would say, “oh my!”

50 Shades of Grey wineAuthor and wine enthusiast E.L. James drew inspiration from the romance between Anastasia and Christian for the white and red wines. She collaborated with winemakers in California’s North Coast region to craft each blend.

The White Silk 2012 is mainly Gewurztraminer with some Sauvignon Blanc. Cold fermentation and stainless steel aging were used to preserve the fresh fruit characters. The wine is gently sweet, with floral aromas and flavors of white grapefruit, tangerine, honeysuckle, orange blossom and lychee. Jasmine and sweet citrus linger on the delicate finish.

The Red Satin 2010 is a blend of Petite Sirah and Syrah that was aged in new and seasoned French oak barrels. Seductive aromas of blackberry, cocoa and spice lead into flavors of black cherry, plum, clove, smoke and leather. Well balanced with good acidity and velvety tannins, the wine will appeal to even those who haven’t read the books.

Enjoy the wines with aphrodisiacs like oysters or foie gras with the White Silk, and filet mignon or dark chocolate with the Red Satin.

Each bottle costs $17.99. To find out where the wines are sold or to order online, visit www.fiftyshadeswine.com.

With Fifty Shades of Grey wines, there’s no tastier way to tell your Valentine –

You. Are. Mine.

13.5% alcohol by volume

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Snapshots from Kobrand Tour D’Italia

Earlier this month Kobrand Wine & Spirits brought its Tour d’Italia to the St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead. Winery owners and winemakers shared their latest releases with members of the wine trade and media.

Among the many delicious wines there were a number of standouts. Take a look at the AG’s picks in the snapshots below (click to enlarge), and look for them at wine shops and restaurants in the Atlanta area.

Geography Guide:

Piedmont (Northwest Italy) — Michele Chiarlo
Veneto (Northeast Italy) — Masi Agricola
Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Northeast Italy, east of Veneto) — Fernando Pighin & Figli
Tuscany (Central Italy, on western side) — Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari Tenute, Tenute Silvio Nardi

photo credit: Cara Isdell Lee

More Red Wines | More White Wines | Under $20

Sauvignon Blanc Cocktails

Looking for a new way to enjoy the Sauvignon Blanc you’ve been sipping all summer? Try it in a cocktail or even a popsicle, with one of these recipes from Brancott Estate.

Brancott Estate was the pioneer of Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand’s Marlborough region, planting vines in the mid 1970s. Today the company is New Zealand’s largest producer and exporter of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. Brancott Estate also produces Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio.

For more information on the wines of Brancott Estates visit www.brancottestate.com.

Brancott Berry

Brancott Berry

• 3 parts Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc
(or Chardonnay or Pinot Gris)
• 3 strawberries, chopped
• 1 part Gin (like Beefeater or Beefeater 24)
• agave nectar to taste
• juice of ¼ of a lemon
• garnish: strawberry slice

Directions:
In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the strawberries in the lemon and agave nectar. Add remaining ingredients and shake well with ice. Strain over ice into a wine glass. Garnish with strawberry slice on the rim of the glass.

Minty Peach Sangria

Brancott Sangria

• 3 parts Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc
(or Chardonnay or Pinot Gris)
• 3 parts peach nectar
• 1 part orange-flavored vodka
• mint leaves (for every one serving, use 8-10 mint leaves)
• garnish: mint sprig and fresh peaches (when in season)

Directions:
Slap the mint leaves between your palms to release oils, then drop into glass. Add ice and remaining ingredients and stir. Garnish with mint sprig and fresh peaches. Can be served in a pitcher.

Peach Bellini Sauvignon Blancsicles

• 2 cups sliced peaches (fresh or thawed from frozen)
• 1 cup Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc
• 1/4 cup orange juice
• popsicle molds
• wooden popsicle sticks

Directions:
Combine wine, peaches, and orange juice in a blender and process until smooth. Pour the blended mixture into your popsicle molds and place in the freezer for about 1.5 hours uncovered without the sticks or popsicle mold tops. Insert the wooden popsicle sticks after the pops have had time to set a little, so you can place them directly in the center and they will stay upright. Allow to freeze for 3 to 4 more hours.

Chimney Rock: Showcasing Stags Leap

Driving along the Silverado Trail in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District, you can’t miss Chimney Rock’s bright white Cape Dutch-style estate. Though the building was influenced by architecture in South Africa (where the original owner worked as an executive at Pepsi Cola), the wine has always been true to place.

Chimney Rock“Our wine should paint a picture of the appellation,” said Elizabeth Vianna, Chimney Rock’s winemaker. Elizabeth visited Atlanta in June and shared the winery’s history and a taste of their current releases.

Hack and Stella Wilson purchased what was then the Chimney Rock golf course in 1980. They dug up the first nine holes with the ideal of making small production, high quality estate-grown wine. Today Chimney Rock is owned by the Terlato family who, in partnership with the Wilsons in 2001, dug up the second nine holes to plant more vines. Elizabeth joined as winemaker in 2002.

Chimney Rock’s focus is on red wine, Bordeaux varieties in particular. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and a small amount of Malbec are grown on their Stags Leap District estate. Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris are grown just north in Rutherford. The goal is to grow the best fruit possible. To achieve this Elizabeth is very active in the vineyards, pruning vines and monitoring the grapes’ growth.

Elizabeth’s passion for wine and winemaking is clear when she speaks about Chimney Rock. “I think about this as abstract art,” she said, “because it’s about shape, about texture.”

Chimney Rock winesThe artistry comes in once the grapes have been harvested – blending the grapes, stirring the lees and determining the use of oak – to produce high quality wines that capture the essence of the Stags Leap District.

“I think there’s an honesty to our wines. We want to be truthful to the vintage and place.”

With the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc, Elizabeth aimed to showcase the purity of the fruit. The wine was fermented in stainless steel, and did not spend time in oak or undergo malolactic fermentation. There was some stirring of the lees to give the wine a more creamy mouthfeel.

You won’t find grassy notes in this wine. The 2012 Chimney Rock Sauvignon Blanc is fresh and lively, with crisp flavors of stone fruit, white peach and golden pear.

Elevage BlancRich, lush and layered are the adjectives that come to mind when describing the 2010 Elevage Blanc. The Bordeaux-style white wine is a blend of 88% Sauvignon Blanc and 12% Sauvignon Gris. New and used French oak as well as lees stirring were used to enhance the flavors and texture.

The Elevage Blanc is wonderfully aromatic and velvety smooth. Mouth-filling flavors of white apricot, nectarine and lemon meringue are layered with white flowers, chamomile and a hint of vanilla. This is a wine that can age for an additional five to fifteen years.

Elizabeth’s objective with the 2009 Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon was to show off Stags Leap District fruit. The wine spent 18 to 20 months in French oak barrels, and has a small percentage of Merlot.

The 2009 Chimney Rock Stags Leap District Cabernet Sauvignon is intense yet refined. Aromas of black cherry introduce a palate of ripe dark fruit. Blackberry, cassis and plum mix with sweet cedar and vanilla. It’s smooth and supple in the mouth, and culminates in a satisfying finish with lingering berry notes.

ElevageWhile the Stags Leap District Cabernet is all about the fruit of the AVA, the 2010 Elevage is all about the texture, according to Elizabeth. The proprietary red is a blend of 56% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 6% Petit Verdot (the percentages of grapes vary each year in both the Elevage and Elevage Blanc). The wine was aged in 100% new oak barrels from Burgundy, selected because they impart more elegance to the wine.

The 2010 Elevage is a wine to plan your meal around. Soft, velvety smooth and sophisticated, it’s the most feminine of Chimney Rock’s red wines. The Elevage has delicate flavors of cassis, blackberry and boysenberry, woven together with layers of black pepper, black tea and vanilla. Big tannins are balanced by the wine’s acidity. Ending with a long finish, the Elevage is a pleasure to sip. This wine can age for an additional 8 to 10 years.

For more information on Chimney Rock visit www.chimneyrock.com.

Bottle shots of Elevage and Elevage Blanc from Chimney Rock’s website

AG Pick: Avia Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Introducing the Sauvignon Blanc you’ll enjoy drinking all summer long: the 2011 Avia Sauvignon Blanc.

One taste and you’d never guess the country where it comes from: Slovenia. Yes, the small European country bordered by Italy, Austria and Croatia is producing some exciting wines that are now available in the United States.

Avia Sauvignon BlancPronounced ahh-vee-ahh, this wine is grown and produced just over the eastern Italian border in a region called Goriška Brda. It’s an area of low rounded hills (brda means hills in Slovenian), with a Mediterranean climate and a winemaking tradition that is several centuries old.

One look at the colorful label and you’ll see that this is meant to be a fun wine. Easy to drink and with flavors that are more fruit-driven than grassy, the Avia Sauvignon Blanc is a crowd-pleasing wine.

Aromas of citrus and tropical fruit introduce flavors of pineapple, Meyer lemon and white grapefruit, with a hint of lemongrass. The wine is well-balanced and soft in the mouth, with gentle acidity and a clean finish.

Costing less than $10 a bottle, the Avia Sauvignon Blanc is affordable and versatile. It’s a wine you won’t feel guilty about opening on a weeknight; it can be enjoyed with friends, outdoors on a warm day, on its own or with food. Serve the Avia Sauvignon Blanc as an aperitif or with salads, shellfish, white fish or poultry.

Interested in other wines from Slovenia? Click here to read about wines from Colliano.

$9, 13% alcohol by volume

More White Wines | Red Wines | More under $20

AG Pick: Clos LaChance Wines

Big in flavor but not in price, Clos LaChance wines are easy to drink and can be enjoyed at a variety of occasions.

Clos LaChance winesLocated in San Martin, in the northern part of California’s Central Coast, Clos LaChance is family owned and operated. Bill and Brenda Murphy focus on creating wines of distinction using sustainable winegrowing practices and a mix of modern winemaking technology and old world philosophy.

The grapes come from 150 acres of estate vineyards in San Martin and the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Clos LaChance Sauv BlancThe 2011 Estate Sauvignon Blanc is 87% Sauvignon Blanc and 13% Semillon. Fresh and floral, this white wine has flavors of lemon, lime, white grapefruit and white peach, with a hint of sweet honeysuckle and subtle grassy undertones. Gentle acidity gives the wine a pleasing mouthfeel, and the finish is clean and refreshing. Enjoy the Clos LaChance Sauvignon Blanc as an aperitif or with salads, white fish, shrimp or spicy dishes. ($11, 13.9% alcohol by volume)

Clos LaChance ZinThe 2010 Estate Zinfandel includes 11% Petit Sirah. The wine was aged for 14 months in 20% new American oak barrels.

Ripe berries dominate on the nose and palate. Flavors of blackberry, cherry and boysenberry are complemented by a touch of white pepper and thyme, with lingering spice on the smooth finish. Pair the Clos LaChance Zinfandel with grilled meats, barbecue or pizza. ($15, 15% alcohol by volume)

Clos LaChance CabernetThe 2009 Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon includes 12% Malbec and 2% Merlot. The wine spent 16 months in 30% new French oak barrels and 5% new American oak barrels.

Bright and fruit-forward, this wine has flavors of black plum, blackberry, cherry and raspberry. Layers of cedar and tobacco add depth. Well-integrated tannins give the wine a velvety mouthfeel, and the finish is soft with a lingering hint of vanilla. Pair the Clos LaChance Cabernet Sauvignon with beef, lamb, hamburgers or grilled or roasted red meats. ($15, 13.8% alcohol by volume)

For more information on Clos LaChance visit www.clos.com.

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It’s Time for Wine: Napa for 2013

By Monty and Sara Preiser

February is a great time for us to slip in and out of Wine Country destinations and then fill you in on what is new, and what remains fantastic. These same places will be ultra-crowded come season, so advance planning is highly recommended. Don’t forget that you can now download the Preiser Key to Napa free to your iPhone or iPad from the AppStore. The magazine is still the only complete and accurate guide to wineries and restaurants, and also contains educational pieces and other useful information (if you don’t mind, please remember to mention the Preiser Key when you make reservations).

Wineries: One New, One Re-Emerges at the Top of its Game, & One Under the Radar

The New: Though making wine for a few years now, Bello Family Vineyards has recently opened one of the more impressive tasting rooms in the Valley. It is just the place to sample the superb wines being crafted by A-List wine maker Aaron Pott, who came aboard in time to finish the 2007 vintage and has had his brilliant hand in the mix ever since.

A true family winery, proprietor Michael Bello has three loves: his construction business, thoroughbred racing, and fine wine. It was only natural for him to parlay his business into producing both a champion filly, Megahertz, and a champion wine brand.

2010 Bello Chardonnay ($45): A kiss of Viognier proves to be a splendid addition to this 20 month barrel aged wine. We detected a soft, buttery flavor from start to mid-palate, and a panna cotta white chocolate finish. Quite the profile for a Chard.

2009 Bello Marsanne ($38): When Marsanne is good, as it is here, it is very, very good. Though it is the most widely planted grape in the northern Rhone Valley, it has not yet made the desirable impression in the U.S. that the Bello version shows it can. A full wine with great acids abounding with nuts and honey awaits you in this bottle.

2009 MEGAHERTZ Cabernet Sauvignon ($50): Given its production and cost, we think this may ultimately be the flagship wine that defines Bello in the eyes of the mass public. Few wines of the price offer such a rich chocolaty nose, as intense a bright black cherry mid-palate, the significant “chew,” and a 10+ second finish.

2008 Bello Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($100): This is a big and bold bottle of wine with black fruit and coffee immediately prevalent, and some serious secondary characteristics (forest floor, smoke) just emerging. Aaron’s first creation from start to finish at Bello.

2009 Bello Napa Cabernet Sauvignon ($100): Concentrated yet approachable, describes this beautiful wine. Layers of black fruit, blue fruit, tar, and earth treat the palate. Perhaps the best recommendation? A Double Gold Medal last month from the American Fine Wine Competition, one of the few places you can find the tasting being performed in a totally blind manner by judges of no bias who all have accomplished palates.

2009 Bello Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon ($250): A word to the many fine and super expensive Cabs being produced in Napa Valley – move over and give the Bello Reserve some room, as it is closing on the rail. It is so good that at first we might think it a lucky hit, but with the knowledge that Aaron is at the helm, he will most likely produce such opulence in the years to come. The wine immediately impresses with its juicy full mouth that trickles down the tongue and itself drives you back for more. But an impossibly long finish following earth, smoke, anise, and spice keeps you in the game as well. This one belongs in the winner’s circle.

Appointments are not necessary, but having one can never hurt. Rick Healy, long experienced in the hospitality field and known to many of you, is now holding court at Bello along with a fine staff. The creatively elegant surroundings will only add to your enjoyment here.

Back On Its Game: As the many people we have escorted to Turnbull Wine Cellars can attest, we are long-time fans of the wines. But as we have written many times over the years, one can become discouraged about a wine for many reasons – some as small as being treated with indifference in a tasting room.

Since the advent of our friend Peter Heitz as winemaker, we have been in a quandary. We love Peter’s wines (both the Turnbull and his private label), but there always seemed to be an administrative lack of energy that should accompany such excellent wines. We had been told that had changed, and so off we went to find out for ourselves. It proved to be a good move.

We have been around long enough to immediately know and identify the signs of a place where you want to taste wines. That we were in the right room was readily apparent, and Burroughs, Abigail, and Alex made sure the ambiance continued – not just for us but for the visitors from Oregon, Texas, Chicago, and the Bay Area as well. Of course, they had Peter’s superb wines to help them out.

While we tasted other varietals, the stars of the day here were the Cabernet Sauvignons. So many were outstanding that it was almost a gluttonous experience. Each one, which we will list below, showed individual characteristics of terroir, fruit profiles, tannins and finish. The tasting isn’t free, but it is very reasonably priced, and we can say without reservation that this should be a stop in Napa for any lover of quality Cabs.

Monty’s Favorite: 2009 Leopoldina ($75)
Sara’s Favorite: 2009 Amoenus ($75)
Great Buy: 2009 Napa ($40)
A Cellar Needs: 2009 Black Label ($100)
Lush Library: 2007 Audaci ($85)
For Discerning Minds: 2009 Fortuna (Monty liked a lot, Sara a little less so)

2011 Oakville Viognier ($30): A whiff of enticing perfume hits the nose, followed by bright apricot and nectar in the mouth. This is no wimpy Viognier, finishing long and round.

2009 Leopoldina Cabernet Franc ($60): Chewy black fruit gives way to a bright, spice finish. This is a hard varietal to get right, but it is directly up Peter’s power alley and he hits it out of the park.

Ready to Soar: Even after (“ahem”) years in Napa, little is as thrilling as driving to a private home located in the vineyards – an estate – to taste wine with the owners and winemakers. Sometimes we even glance at each other as if to empathically ask whether our hosts have invited the right people.

We have always enjoyed the wines from Allora Vineyards, yet we might like this wonderful family even more. Terry Klein is the wine serious/social comic patriarchal host, and son Chris is obviously of the generation now in daily charge of the business. We see the two daughters, Cortney and Kelly, periodically at two other wineries where they hold prestigious positions, but they too are intimately involved with Allora. Today we missed the last link in this family affair, matriarch Nancy, but her good influence on the children is obvious.

The estate in St. Helena consists of 15 beautiful acres with 10 planted to vine. All of the wines are produced here, and all are crafted by noted winemaker Rudy Zuidema, who has a penchant for making wines of structure and seamlessness that we have always liked (no, more than just “liked,” – let’s say “respected” for their excellence as well).

2010 Allora Lieta ($30): Mostly Sauvignon Blanc, yet with a healthy dose of Semillon (and a surprise ingredient), this little gem is floral with perceived sweetness which is really the significant fruit flavors of apricot and peach blossom. And in a move with which we are not familiar, Rudy has added the lees from a Chardonnay barrel for about 5 weeks to add some creaminess and dimension.

2009 Tresca ($60): Primarily Cabernet Sauvignon with 12% Petite Sirah and 7 % Cabernet Franc adding earthy cedar and bright cherry nuances, this full bodied wine seems to find flavors shooting throughout the upper palate and then lingering for an extraordinarily long time.

2009 Cabernet Franc ($75): Bold, dark fruit streams from front to back, as do the dancing tannins. Many Cab Francs are a bit light in body, but the addition of over 20% cabernet Sauvignon here gives strength throughout.

2008 Petite Sirah ($65): Rich and complex with a spice on the nose, plums in the middle, and a terrific body. One of the best Petite Sirahs we know.

2009 Lusso ($125): Sometimes a wine is so well made, the fruit so well extracted, the structure so nicely attuned, the flavors so well integrated, and the finish so pleasing, that it is not necessary to over analyze the product further. This is one of those times.

2010 Sussurro ($75 for 375ml): A well made Late Harvest and somewhat unusual Cabernet Sauvignon/Late Harvest Petite Sirah blend. Black cherries and creaminess control, and the lack of cloyness, while preserving the sweet nature of the wine, is a great asset.

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It’s Time for Wine is a column published by wine writers and educators Monty and Sara Preiser that is featured on the Amateur Gastronomer.

Monty and Sara Preiser reside full time in Palm Beach County, Florida, and spend their summers visiting wineries and studying wines on the west coast where they have a home in Napa. For many years they were the wine columnists for The Boca Raton News, have served as contributors to the South Florida Business Journal, and are now the principal wine writers for Sallys-Place.com.  Monty and Sara also publish The Preiser Key to Napa Valley and Sonoma, the most comprehensive guides to wineries and restaurants in Napa and Sonoma. Click here to read more columns by the Preisers.

Winter Whites: White Wines in Season

White wine is in season even when the weather is cool. Here are five white wines to try tonight:

Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay 2011
Hawkes Bay, New Zealand
13% alcohol
$22

If you think the only white wine that comes from New Zealand is Sauvignon Blanc, you’re missing out. Craggy Range produces delicious single vineyard Chardonnay on the North Island.

This wine comes from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand’s second largest winegrowing region. The grapes were mostly harvested by hand, and the wine spent five months aging in 12% new French oak barrels.

Reminiscent of Chablis, the Craggy Range Kidnappers Vineyard Chardonnay has citrus and white peach aromas. Lemon, grapefruit and tart white apricot flavors mingle with vanilla and a hint of almond, with lively acidity and chalky minerality giving the wine a bright finish. It’s the happy medium for people who can’t decide between a stainless steel or oaked Chardonnay.

 

Vincent Gaudry Le Tournebride Sancerre 2010
Sancerre, France
12.5% alcohol
$25

All wines tell a story, and this French wine has a dynamic – that is, biodynamic – one. Vincent Gaudry’s wines come from the Sancerre AOC in the eastern part of the Loire region, in central France. The domaine has passed from father to son for several generations; they began farming organically in 1993. Today the domaine is not only certified organic, but it is certified biodynamic too —  Gaudry cuts wood for his barrels only on days suggested by the biodynamic calendar, and the wines are bottled according to the lunar calendar. There are no artificial yeasts or additives in the wine, and the wine is not filtered. What you drink is a true expression of the place where the wine came from.

Le Tournebride, named for a small path leading to the domaine, is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The grapes came from 30 year old vines that grow in limestone and marl soil. The wine was fermented in tanks, then spent eight months on the lees before bottling.

The nose of Le Tournebride Sancerre is a mix of citrus and tropical fruit. Flavors of lemon, peach, pineapple and tart lychee unfold on the palate, with a hint of Marcona almond on the lingering finish. Well balanced acidity and refreshing minerality make this wine a pleasant sip.

 

Barbi Orvieto 2011
Umbria, Italy
12.5% alcohol
$18

Orvieto is both the name of a region in central Italy and the wine produced there. White Orvieto can be a blend of several grapes; the Barbi Orvieto is a blend of Grechetto (40%), Procanico (30%, also known as Trebbiano), Verdello (10%), Malvasia (10%), and Vermentino (10%). These combine to make a wine that is crisp, refreshing and aromatic, with a slight touch of sweetness adding a lift at the end of each sip.

The grapes in the Barbi Orvieto were grown in vineyards that are 960 feet above sea level, in clay and sandy soil that is rich in fossils. Fermentation was stopped early to retain some residual sugar.

Melon and honeysuckle aromas introduce a palate of honeydew, green apple, yellow pear and a hint of white pepper. Vibrant acidity gives the Barbi Orvieto a lively mouthfeel and a clean finish.

 

Halter Ranch Côtes de Paso Blanc 2011
Paso Robles, California
14.2% alcohol
$25

If winter weather has you feeling down, try the Côtes de Paso Blanc from Halter Ranch. Its fragrant floral aromas will make you feel like spring is already in bloom.

Rhône grapes shine in Paso Robles, the Central California region where Halter Ranch Winery is located. This wine is a blend of Grenache Blanc (33%), Roussanne (26%), Picpoul Blanc (20%), Marsanne (12%), and Viognier (9%). After fermentation in French oak barrels, the wine spent four months aging on the lees in 100% neutral French oak barrels.

Aromas of white flowers and peach expand on the palate, along with flavors of white apricot, jasmine, orange blossom and toasted hazelnut. Elegant with refreshing minerality and a satisfying finish, the Côtes de Paso Blanc is a white wine that is sure to cheer you up on a cold day.

 

Standing Stone Vineyards Riesling 2011
Finger Lakes, New York
11.7% alcohol
$14

The Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is becoming the go-to spot for new and exciting Riesling. Even the president is a fan – on Monday a Finger Lakes Riesling was served at President Obama’s inaugural luncheon.

Standing Stone Vineyards is located on the east side of Seneca Lake. The grapes for the 2011 Riesling were fermented in stainless steel tanks using three different yeasts. The final wine is a blend from the lots, which brings together the most desirable characteristic of each.

This off-dry Riesling is wonderfully aromatic with notes of ripe citrus, tropical fruits and wildflower honey. On the palate are flavors of tangerine, sweet grapefruit, guava and mango. Gentle acidity balances out the sweetness, and flinty minerality makes for a clean finish.

More White Wines | Red Wines | More Under $20

Surprising Lake County Wines

By Maxine Howard

What is so surprising about Lake County wines? The surprise is that they’re interesting, well-made, and reasonably priced.

Twenty-one wineries from Lake County (just north and east of Napa) showed off their recent vintages at a tasting in San Francisco in September. We only had a chance to sample about a third of the offerings, but came away with a desire to visit Lake County to explore others.

The whites had a light touch. Sauvignon Blancs predominated but there were some lightly oaked Chardonnays. The reds exhibited bold flavors and nuances created by some interesting variety combinations.

Langtry Estate and Vineyards had one of our favorite white wines. The 2011 Guenoc Sauvignon Blanc was made from the Musque clone, from the Loire Valley, so it had some characteristics of a Sancerre. It showed terrific fruit at the start, continued with hints of the minerality you would find in its French cousins, and finished with dry grapefruit notes. At $16 a bottle it seems like a great option.

Among the red wines offered, Rosa D’Oro had two interesting bottles. The 2010 Primitivo (Italian Zinfandel) was a full-bodied wine with ripe berry flavors and the peppery accent you would expect from a Zinfandel. It is priced at $20. The 2010 Aglianico (an Italian variety related to Cabernet) was a substantial mouthful. The fruit was well balanced, there was a bit of earthiness, and the firm tannins should allow it to age well. It costs $24 a bottle.

Steele Wines showed off an interesting blend called Outcast Red ($22), which included Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Barbera, and Petit Verdot. The bold, dark fruits were balanced nicely by earthy tones for a spectacular taste.

Another fascinating blend was a joint production of Shannon Ridge Winery and Vigilance Winery. The 2010 Dalliance ($19.99) is a blend of Zinfandel, Barbera, Syrah, Tempranillo and Grenache. It lures you with a spectacular deep color and aromas of blackberry and cherry. Here again, the blending of grapes with varying characteristics results in a complex, full-bodied wine with balanced fruit, a mellow taste and a dry finish.

Lake County wineries produce small quantities each year that are not as widely distributed as their better-known counterparts from Napa. But if you can find them you will discover they are well made and worth a taste.

For more information visit the Lake County Winery Association at www.lakecountywineries.org.

images from the Lake County Winery Association’s Facebook page