Tag Archives: under $15

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

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

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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Piccini Memoro Bianco

AG Pick: Piccino Memoro Vino Bianco

Take a trip around Italy in just one bottle with the Piccini Memoro Vino Bianco, a non-vintage white blend that brings together different grapes and regions for a fun, easy to drink wine.

The history of Piccini dates back to 1882, when Angiolo Piccini started the winemaking estate in Chianti with 7 hectares. Today the fourth generation of the Piccini family runs the operations, which have expanded to four separate estates.

Piccini Memoro BiancoThe compass rose on the Memoro label signifies the four varietals, each a typical expression of a distinct Italian region. The Viognier (40% of the final blend) comes from Sicily; the Chardonnay (30%) is from Trentino in the north; the Vermentino (20%) is from Maremma in Tuscany; and the Pecorino (10%) is from the Marche on the eastern coast of central Italy.

The Memoro, a product of thorough research and experimenting, offers balanced fruit and acidity. There’s pear, apricot and golden apple from the Pecorino and cool climate Chardonnay, soft honey and white flowers from the Viognier, and additional delicate floral notes from the Vermentino. The wine is silky in the mouth, with a lingering finish that has a hint of bread and dried herbs.

Pair the wine with creamy sauces, poultry and seafood.

For more information visit www.tenutepiccini.it.

$9.99, 14% alcohol by volume

rose wines

Five Rosé Wines to Enjoy this Summer

The summer of rosé is in full swing! It’s an international love affair, with rosé wine being made around the world from a variety of different grapes.

Try one of these AG picks tonight:

Cune RosadoCune Rosado Rioja 2013
Rioja Alta, Spain

From CVNE (pronounced Coo-nay), a family owned and operated winery founded in 1879 in Haro, Rioja, this dry rosé is 100% Tempranillo. Produced using the saignée or bleeding method, the juice was removed from the grape skins and seeds after around 24 to 48 hours, resulting in a magenta-pink color. Floral aromas introduce flavors of strawberry, tart cherry and red currant.
$14, 14% alcohol by volume

Esporao Defesa RoséEsporão Vinha da Defesa Rosé 2013
Alentejo, Portugal

Established in 1973, Herdade do Esporão is a family-owned estate and winery that takes its name from the tower on the property that is thought to have been built between 1457 and 1490. This rosé is a blend of Aragonez and Syrah. The grapes underwent pneumatic pressing after a short period of skin contact. Bright pink in color with berry aromas, the wine has flavors of raspberry, cherry and Victoria plum, with a hint of mint on the refreshing finish.
$15, 13.5% alcohol by volume

Bridge Lane RoséBridge Lane Rosé 2013
North Fork of Long Island, New York

This wine comes from Lieb Cellars, founded in 1992 on Long Island’s North Fork. Lieb was the first winery on Long Island to plant Pinot Blanc, which has become their signature wine and makes up part of the blend in the Bridge Lane rosé. The 2013 wine is 63% Cabernet Franc, 21% Merlot, 8% Pinot Blanc, 5% Riesling and 3% Gewurztraminer. Light and easy to drink with a pretty pale pink color, the wine has flavors of wild strawberry, raspberry and rose petal.
$18, 11.9% alcohol by volume

Cape Bleue RoséJean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé 2013
Provence, France

The grapes for this wine from the noted French winemaker come from hilly vineyards near Salon de Provence, an area influenced by the nearby Mediterranean Sea.  It is a blend of 67% Syrah and 33% Mourvedre, and was made using the saignée method. Salmon-pink in color,  the aromatic wine will transport you to the South of France. Flavors of ripe strawberry, red cherry and rose are layered with subtle fennel and white pepper notes.
$14, 12.5% alcohol by volume

Houchart RoséDomaine Houchart Rosé 2013
Provence, France

Bought in 1890 by Aurélien Houchart, the 90 hectare estate near Aix-en-Provence and the foot of Mont Sainte Victoire has been consistently farmed since Roman times. Today it is owned by the Quiot Family and run by Geneviève Quiot, Aurélien’s great granddaughter. This Côtes de Provence rosé is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. This crowd-pleaser is pale peachy-pink in color, with delicate flavors of strawberry, loganberry and watermelon that culminate in a crisp finish.
$11, 12% alcohol by volume

 

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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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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Biltmore Estate Releases Annual Limited Edition Christmas Wine

Happy holidays from the Biltmore Estate! The historic home and winery has released its limited edition 2013 Christmas at Biltmore Wine.

The Christmas season is a festive time for the Biltmore Estate, dating back to Christmas Eve in 1895 when George Washington Vanderbilt first opened the iconic home’s doors. The tradition of releasing a limited edition wine for the holidays began with the 1996 vintage.

2013 Christmas at BiltmoreThis year’s wine, from the 2012 vintage, is a blend of Muscat Canelli, Gewurztraminer and Riesling. Sixty percent of the wine came from California and 40% came from Washington.

The label was designed by artist Perry Winkler of DuBois, Pennsylvania, the winner of Biltmore’s 4th annual Christmas Wine Label Design Contest, as voted by the public.

Floral and citrus aromas introduce delicately sweet flavors of apricot, ripe lemon, lychee, honeysuckle and orange blossom. The finish is smooth with lingering notes of rose petal and white pepper.

The 2013 Christmas at Biltmore Wine is great for holiday celebrations, pairing with a range of foods including turkey, ham, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.

The contest to design the label for the 2014 Christmas at Biltmore Wine is now open. Original designs, photos or artwork inspired by Christmas at Biltmore may be submitted through January 10, 2014. Click here for full details.

For more information on the Biltmore Estate and to purchase wines online visit www.biltmore.com.

$12.99, 12.8% alcohol by volume

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A First Taste of the 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!

In accordance with French law, the 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau was released today, one stroke after midnight on the third Thursday in November.

Beaujolais Nouveau 2013The light bodied red wine is made entirely from Gamay grapes, and comes from the Beaujolais region within Burgundy.

The arrival of the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau is always a celebrated affair. This year’s theme is “Nouveau Retro,” which channels the spirit of the Jazz Age. The colorful label embodies the feel of the era with a vintage image of the Parisian skyline.

How does the first wine of the harvest taste? Warm midday temperatures and sunshine in September helped the grapes reach ideal maturity, resulting in a wine that is lively and fresh with bright fruit flavors.

“The 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau is a lovely purple-red color with aromas of wild strawberries, currants and exquisite scents of raspberries,” said winemaker Georges Duboeuf. “The wine is delicate, rich and perfectly balanced. It is a pure joy to drink and an ideal wine to share with family and friends throughout the holidays.”

Beaujolais Nouveau pairs well with a variety of foods including turkey and ham, making it great for holiday meals. Serve the wine slightly chilled.

Want to celebrate the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau with your own Nouveau Retro-inspired party? The team at Georges Duboeuf offers these tips:

Beaujolais Nouveau 2013• Skip the flowers and create some drama with eye-catching centerpieces of feather plumes draped in long strands of faux pearls to pay homage to the flapper style.
• String gold paper lanterns from the ceiling and pepper the room with delicate accents that sparkle to create a rich and glamorous atmosphere.
• Illuminate the room with plenty of votive candles and the smooth sounds of Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller and Bessie Smith to recreate the warm and stirring atmosphere popular to speakeasies of the age.
• For a true Nouveau Retro taste, serve up a menu of ‘20s-inspired dishes: deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms, oysters Rockefeller and the era’s own invention, a pineapple upside down cake decorated with Maraschino cherries.

The 2013 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau is now available at the suggested retail price of $10.99. For more information on the wines of Georges Duboeuf visit www.duboeuf.com.

12% alcohol by volume

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