Tag Archives: under $20

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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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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2012 Finger Lakes Riesling Report

Say hello to the class of 2012. With a series of virtual tastings, the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance celebrated the release of the 2012 Rieslings.

From dry to sweet, Riesling comes in a variety of styles – part of the reason why it is the fastest growing white wine in the United States. Riesling is ideally suited for the cool climate of the Finger Lakes. Look to this region in New York for some exciting and delicious wines.

How do the 2012 Finger Lakes Rieslings taste? The Amateur Gastronomer shares a sip of three.

Heron Hill Winery
Classic Dry Riesling 2012

Heron Hill 2012 Dry RieslingOverlooking Keuka Lake, Heron Hill Winery has been producing wines for more than 35 years in the Finger Lakes. The winery uses state-of-the-art equipment combined with Old World expertise — Winemaker Bernard Cannac learned winemaking at his family’s vineyard in southern France and was educated in Bordeaux and Burgundy. This is one of five styles of Riesling that Heron Hill produces each vintage.

Crisp, floral and elegant, the Heron Hill Dry Riesling is a wine to make you a fan of the Finger Lakes. Aromas of pear, golden apple and white flowers introduce a palate of tropical fruit. Delicate flavors of mango, guava, apple and honeysuckle are nicely balanced with flinty minerality and good acidity. There’s subtle sweet honey on the finish, making every sip feel like its ending on an upbeat note.

$14, 12% alcohol by volume

>> Connect:
www.heronhill.com
@HeronHillWinery on Twitter
facebook.com/HeronHillWinery

Standing Stone Vineyards
Old West Block Riesling 2012

Standing Stone Old West Block 2012 RieslingStanding Stone is located on the east side of Seneca Lake. Riesling plantings there date back to 1972; current owners Tom and Marti Macinski purchased the vineyards in 1991. Tom oversees all aspects of grape growing (he jokes he “only sleeps well when nothing is growing.”), and Marti oversees the winemaking. Standing Stone practices sustainable farming, and filters and fines the wines only when necessary.

This single vineyard, medium dry Riesling comes from one of the oldest vinifera vineyards in the Finger Lakes, planted in 1972. The 2012 vintage benefited from lots of sunshine throughout the summer and harvest. The wine opens with aromas of orange blossom, golden pear and sweet lemon. Flavors of white apricot, white peach and lychee mix with slate and a hint of white pepper. The initial sweetness is followed by bright acidity that gives the wine a refreshing finish.

$19, 12.2% alcohol by volume

>> Connect:
www.standingstonewines.com
@ssvny on Twitter
Standing Stone on Facebook

Thirsty Owl Wine Company
Riesling 2012

Thirsty Owl 2012 RieslingLocated on the west side of Cayuga Lake, Thirsty Owl opened in September 2002 on an auspicious date – Friday the 13th. It seems the winery has had good luck; over the past 11 years winemaker and vineyard manager Shawn Kime and the Thirsty Owl team have produced wines that have won numerous Best of Class and Best of Show awards, including the New York State Governor’s Cup.

Grapes for this medium dry Riesling came mainly from the 30 year-old estate vineyard. Apple, tangerine, and honeysuckle are expressed on both the nose and palate, along with flavors of honeydew, white grapefruit and cantaloupe. The wine has a pleasantly round and soft mouthfeel, gentle acidity and a finish with lingering melon.

$15, 11.3% alcohol by volume

>> Connect:
www.thirstyowl.com
@TheThirstyOwl on Twitter
Thirsty Owl on Facebook

For more on the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance visit FingerLakesWineAlliance.com.
Connect with @FLXWine on Twitter or Facebook.com/FingerLakesWine.

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: Bacalhôa Moscatel de Setúbal

And now for something sweet: the Bacalhôa Moscatel de Setúbal 2009, a fortified wine from Portugal. Aromatic and rich with citrus and nutty flavors, it is a decadent post-dinner drink.

Bacalhoa Moscatel de SetubalAs indicated by its name, the wine was made entirely from the Moscatel de Setúbal grape. Fermentation was stopped early by the addition of aguardente (a neutral spirit made from grapes, similar to brandy), which preserved the sugar while raising the alcohol content. The wine spent time aging in small used oak casks.

Golden amber in color, the Bacalhôa Moscatel de Setúbal has aromas of orange blossom, dried fruits and toasted almond. The taste is sweet without being cloying, with flavors of dried apricot, fig and plum layered with toffee, hazelnut, caramel and black tea. The texture is silky smooth, with good acidity keeping each sip fresh and bright. The finish is long and lingering, with warm notes of lemon and candied orange peel.

The Bacalhôa Moscatel de Setúbal should be served slightly chilled (50 to 55 °F or 10 to 12 °C), making it perfect for the warmer summer months. And with a price tag of less than $20 a bottle, you won’t feel guilty indulging in a glass on a weeknight.

Enjoy the Bacalhôa Moscatel de Setúbal with crème caramel, dark chocolate or ripe strawberries, or on its own as a digestif. Add a lemon peel and it’s a delicious apéritif.

$15, 17.5% alcohol by volume

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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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Colliano: Wines from Slovenia

A wine tasting starts with the eyes – a look at the bottle label or the name on a restaurant’s wine list. A look at the name and label of a Colliano wine may lead you to incorrectly guess the wines are from Italy.

Colliano winesYou’re right to think that Colliano could be Italian. The grapes are grown a stone’s throw away from the northeastern border, in Slovenia. These neighboring wine regions – Collio in Italy and Goriška Brda in Slovenia – grow the same grape varieties and have a similar Mediterranean climate, as well as the low rounded hills that give the regions their names. “Colli” and “brda” are the Italian and Slovenian words for hills.

Now that the region has been demystified, you’ll find that the wines of Colliano are just as approachable. Made from mostly familiar grape varieties, the two whites and a red are easy to drink and food-friendly.

Colliano Ribolla GiallaThe 2011 Colliano Ribolla Gialla is made entirely from Ribolla Gialla (also called Rebula), a white wine grape that is indigenous to this border region. Its taste and acidity will appeal to fans of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris, with flavors similar to a dry Riesling adding complexity. The palate is a mix of lemon, grapefruit, white peach and orange peel, with a hint of vanilla and cedar. The finish is crisp and dry, with lingering notes of unsweetened wildflower honey. Pair the Colliano Ribolla Gialla with salads, white fish or shellfish.

The 2011 Colliano Cuvee White is a blend of 40% Ribolla Gialla, 30% Chardonnay and 30% Sauvignonasse (a white wine grape that despite the name, is not related to Sauvignon Blanc). The flavors of the Ribolla Gialla are balanced out nicely by the round Chardonnay, with Sauvignonasse adding acidity. The wine has notes of Meyer lemon, white apricot, golden apple and white flowers. Malolactic fermentation and oak aging give the wine added finesse and a creamy yet supple mouthfeel. Pair the Colliano Cuvee white with grilled white meats, fish, pastas or cream-based dishes.

Colliano WinesThe 2011 Colliano Cuvee Red is a blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Merlot. It’s a Bordeaux-style blend with the freshness of a New World wine. Flavors of cherry, plum and red currant are layered with violet and subtle cedar. Acidity from the Cabernet Franc adds texture and structure. This is a wine to enjoy with food – pair the 2011 Colliano Cuvee Red with grilled steaks, roasted chicken, game meat or semi mature cheese.

As an added bonus, these Slovenian wines are wallet-friendly, costing approximately $15 a bottle.

Enjoyable to sip, great with food and a price tag of less than $20, Colliano wines from Slovenia are ready for the spotlight.

All wines are 13% alcohol by volume

Related: Avia Sauvignon Blanc 2011 from Slovenia

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