Jul 29 2014

2013 Arrogant Frog White Wines

2013 Arrogant Frog Whites

So a few weeks ago I made an error and sorta double booked myself. On the one hand I had a virtual tasting featuring four wines from Arrogant Frog and winemaker Jean-Claude Mas, on the other I had a vacation I had booked that involved a cruise and a decided lack of internet connection.

As I’m sure you can guess, the vacation happened. Fortunately, the virtual tasting was done via UStream, so I, and you as well, can check out the tasting and Jean-Claude’s thoughts (http://www.ustream.tv/DomainesPaulMas).

While I didn’t get to do the tasting with everybody else, I have made a point of trying the whites and wanted to share my thoughts on those first, with the reds to come (hopefully) later this week. Catching up from vacation is hard.

2013 Arrogant Frog Sauvignon Blanc

Varietal:  100% Sauvignon Blanc
Region:  Loire, France

Winemaker’s Notes:  Bright lemon color with hints of green. Complex nose with notes of grapefruit, gooseberry and
herbaceous aromas with some slightly smoky notes. Fruity with a well-balanced acidity. Best-served with shell-fish, poached or grilled seafood, cold lemon dressing salads and asparagus dishes.

My Review:  It’s no secret that my wife and I enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, predominantly that from South America. We have, however, been trying to expand into more French Wines, with the reds finding their way into our home most often. Fortunately, tastings like this one give me the opportunity to expand my experience. Continue Reading »

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Jul 28 2014

2012 Gnarly Head Pinot Noir

2012 Gnarly Head Pinot Noir

Varietal: Pinot Noir
Region: Californica
Cost: $14 (SRP)

Winemaker’s Notes: Gnarly Head 2012 Pinot Noir takes “the heartbreak grape” for a walk on the wild side. This powerful pinot touts voluptuous aromas of red cherry, vanilla, earth, and spice, followed by a rush of black cherry and plum with hints of toasted hazelnut, tobacco, and cigar box on the palate. Supple, sleek tannins and lush fruit make this wine a perfect pair for salami and arugula pizza, slow roasted pork loin, or dry brined chicken stuffed with sausage and peppers.

My Review: It should by this point be no surprise that I’m a big fan of Pinot Noir, especially budget wines that I can enjoy regularly without having to worry about the hit to my wallet. Gnarly Head is one of those wines that I see on the shelf regularly, thank to the wide range of wines that they make, but admittedly don’t often reach for, not because I don’t think they make good wines, but because I know they’re always going to be there and making consistently good wines, which means I always have time to circle back.

This time, at least, I didn’t have to circle back since the wines were sent to me.

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Jul 09 2014

2012 Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon

2012 Gnarly Head Cabernet Sauvignon

Varietal:  Cabernet Sauvignon
Region:  California – USA
Cost:  ~$14 (SRP)

Winemaker’s Notes:  Gnarly Head 2012 Cabrenet Sauvignon is King – big, gallang, and powerful. This dark, bold Cabernet has solid tannins and jammy fruit, with aromas of black cherry, blackberry, freshly-cracked black peppercorn, violet, and charred notes. On the palate, flavors of dense black fruit compote and currant followed by a trio of clove, spice, and earth, lead to a generous, lingering finish. Try pairing this Cabernet with grilled lamb skewers, strong cheeses, or a spaghetti bolognese.

My Review:  When I think of Gnarly Head, like most people I’m sure, I think of Zinfandel. I know in my mind that they make other things, but before this, had I been at the store and decided I wanted some affordable Zinfandel, Gnarly Head would have been near the top of my list.

Cabernet may have joined it.

I was really impressed by this wine. It went well with our dinner, it was enjoyable by itself, and it managed to avoid all the pit-falls that I usually associate with budget California Cabernet.

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Jul 08 2014

2012 Martin Codax Albarino

2012 Martin Codax Albarino

Varietal:  Albarino
Region:  Rías Baixas, Spain
Cost:  $15 (SRP)

Winemaker’s Notes:  Delicated and medium-bodied with a crisp, dry finish. Flavors of ripe apple, peach, pear, and lemon zest are framed by bright minerality and hints of spice. This Albarino displays intense floral aromas and an attractive acidity, making it a versatile, food-friendly wine. Pair with seasonsal shellfish and other seafood.

My Review:  My first real exposure to Albarino was several years ago at a tasting of Virginia Wines and my first thought was how much it reminded me of Virginia Viognier, and how much I liked that. Spanish wines were a big focus for me for a few years, though admittedly I focused on the reds, so I was happy to jump at the chance to try a new vintage of Albarino from Martin Codax when offered the opportunity.

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Jul 07 2014

June 2014 Virginia Wine Chat with Sunset Hills Vineyard

Sunset Hills Logo

During the last week of June I was lucky enough to participate in another Virginia Wine Chat, this time featuring a vineyard that I had recently visited while doing some tastings in Loudon county with my wife and parents – Sunset Hills Vineyard.

As usual we tasted three different wines, all while Frank Morgan of Drink What YOU Like interviewed the winemaker, this time Nate Walsh. I won’t go into all the details of the interview since you can see it in the video I’ve embedded just below, other than to say that Nate definitely has a vision for the wine he’s making, and I look forward to seeing that vision come to fruition.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Now, on to the wines.

Sunset Hills VA WIne Chat

The first wine that we tasted was a Rose’. There was a bit of confusion as some of us got the wine that was scheduled for the tasting, a 2013 Rose’ of Cabernet Franc, while others of us, myself included, got the 2013 Sunset Rose’, which I had actually tasted during my recent trip to the vineyard and liked enough to bring home a bottle of my own.

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Jul 01 2014

2012 Viama Rosso delle Venezie

2012 Viama Rosso

Varietal:  Indigenous grapes of the Delle Venezie
Region:  Delle Venezie, Italy
Cost:  $15 (SRP)

Winemaker’s Notes:  A rich bouquet of red berries and currant mingle with layered flavors of black cherry and red and black berries that lead to a long, stylish finish. Enjoy Viama with your favorite Italian fare, grilled meats, vegetarian entrees, and a selection of cheeses.

My Review:  Last week it was the Duca Pinot Grigio, this week it’s the Viama Rosso. While last week we saw a 3L box that was clearly meant to sit on a counter and be enjoyed at home, the packaging on this wine makes it clear that they intend for it to be taken with you and enjoyed with friends on the go.

The wine itself was enjoyable – medium dark in the glass with aromas of dark red berry and tart, black cherry notes in the mouth. I personally found the wine to be something of a one-noter, but it’s a note that would certainly pair well with pizza, burgers, or pasta, which in many ways is exactly what I want out of an Italian red.

The box itself provided me with some conflicts though.

On the one hand, I see what they’re trying to do with this box – create a boxed wine that doesn’t resemble a boxed wine. The triangular shape, the short strap, even the appearance of what looks like a zipper at first glance, is all done to make this box look like a woman’s purse.

And that’s totally fine. Except for one small problem.

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