Weekend Selection

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Ramon Bilbao 2005 Gran Reserva

Ramón Bilbao 2005 Gran Reserva

Bodegas Ramón Bilbao was founded by Ramón Bilbao Murga, an experienced wine trader who had been selling wine since 1896 from premises at Calle Las Cuevas in Haro. Ramón Bilbao was a forward-looking grape grower; a pioneer in the art of ageing.  The winery was handed down from one generation to the next until the year 1966, when Ramón Bilbao Pozo, the last of the descendants, died.  The business was converted into a corporation with new shareholders.  New facilities were built, also in Haro.  The new company wished to continue the work of its founder, Ramón Bilbao, and concentrated on making aged wines.  The family business Diego Zamora, S.A., one of the largest beverage groups in Spain and owner of the well-known brand Licor 43, acquired the winery and began a new venture, renovating and adapting existing facilities.  The development of top-quality wines together with innovation while respecting the purest Rioja traditions, represented by the history of the wines of Ramón Bilbao, are the trademark of this emblematic company in Rioja Alta.

Pouring a glass the wine is a deep ruby color with bright edges. Aromas of red fruit, raspberries and cherries with notes of black pepper and sweet vanilla spice are pleasingly pronounced.  The taste is clean and dry with firm tannins.  The fruit on the palate turns into ripe cherry, berry and plum flavors with some leather, tobacco, and chocolate nuances.  A mineral tang is detected on the finish.  This wine is predominately Tempranillo, but I believe there is some Graciano added to this blend.  The wine is aged for 30 months in American oak casks and for 36 months in underground darkness before being released.  Delicious, especially the $25 price where most of the Gran Reserva’s start at around $50.

Cheers!

Exceptional White

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Roederer

Roederer Estate Sparkling Anderson Valley Brut N.V.

Roederer Estate is the first California sparkling wine to be produced by Champagne Louis Roederer, further building upon a 200-year tradition of fine wine making from this family owned company.  Roederer’s unique winemaking style is based on two elements: complete ownership of its vineyards and the addition of oak-aged reserve wines to each year’s blend or cuvée.  The Roederer Estate is located 125 miles north of San Francisco near the Mendocino Coast, and since 1982 began developing its own vineyards and crafting wines.  The Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut made its debut in October 1988.  Anderson Valley offers a climate of warm days and cool nights and has well-drained soils which are ideally suited to the Roederer Estate’s style of winemaking.  The Roederer Estate uses only Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes grown in its own vineyards.  In making the final Non-Vintage (N.V.) product, each year Roederer blends reserve wines, from its cellar, which have been aged in French oak casks, creating their signature style.  Such balancing of reserve wines to create a consistent wine from year to year demonstrates Roederer’s winemaking skills.

Gently popping the cork (be sure to tip the bottle at 45 degrees and gently twist off the cork and making only a hiss of a sound so as not to bruise the wine) and pouring a glass (be sure to use a flute glass to get the most concentrated amount of bubbles) I see a deep pale lemon color with fine bubbles floating up. The nose was clean and lightly pronounced with aromas of honey and toast.  The wine is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir and was aged for a minimum of 2 years on its yeast.  The taste revealed a dry wine with medium acidity and body and flavors of baked apple and very subtle mineral notes.  The finish was pleasant and is an outstanding example of a Champagne style wine made in California.  If you are having a party you can get 2 bottles of Roederer for the price of 1 bottle of French Champagne, and most people will not detect a difference.  Grab some for the holidays which are just around the corner!

Cheers!

Mid-Week White

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Girard 2012 Chard Russ River

Girard 2012 Chardonnay Russian River

Thirty years after first planting its vineyards, Girard continues to produce wines reflecting the quality that has made Napa Valley the most famous New World wine-growing region in the world.  Today, Girard is experiencing a rebirth of sorts as longtime California vintner Pat Roney purchased the winery shortly after the new millennium.  Roney’s career in wine began as a sommelier at Chicago’s renowned Pump Room, where he worked during and after college.  Later he returned to his native California and eventually he took up the reins of two wineries: first as president of Chateau St. Jean, and later as president of Kunde, both in Sonoma Valley.  Ultimately Roney took his management skills and wine knowledge to the specialty food purveyor Dean & DeLuca, where he helped grow the business from a small presence in New York and Washington to a national enterprise.  At Girard, Roney continues the tradition of making Chardonnay and Cabernet-based wines.  As it has been in the past, Girard’s goal is to highlight the flavors of Napa Valley and its rich, ripe grapes.  A small portion of the winery’s portfolio also comes from grapes grown in Sonoma’s upscale Russian River Valley, where cool weather offers ideal conditions for Chardonnay.

Girard Cap

Opening a bottle of Chardonnay made from grapes grown in the Russian River Valley, an ideal climate for this delicate grape. The Chardonnay is sourced from three vineyards: Two from Dutton Ranch and La Porte Cochère.  The Chardonnay sits for 11 months on 100% French oak, of which 35% is new.  Pouring a glass I noticed a nice pale yellow color with aromas of pear, citrus and apples.  The palate showed crisp fruit flavors, warm and buttery, a touch of oak and a smooth finish.  At $20 it is an exception value.  Will not disappoint!

Cheers!

Cellar Selection

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La Rioja Alta Rioja 904 Gran Reserva 2001

La Rioja Alta S.A. 2001 Gran Reserva 904

On the 10th of July 1890, five Basque and Rioja families shared their passion for wine and founded “Sociedad Vinicola De La Rioja Alta” in what is known as the Haro Station District.  La Rioja Alta, S.A.  That day was the start of an ongoing searching for excellence that their descendants still pursue today.  The company changed its name to “LA RIOJA ALTA” in 1891, and in 1941 the company took on its present name, LA RIOJA ALTA, S.A.  A year later, chairman of the board, Leandro Ardanza Angulo, the renowned brand name, “Viña Ardanza”, was registered.

To give you a little taste of the town of Haro, in the La Rioja region of northern Spain, every year on June 29th, the day of the patron saint San Pedro, the Haro Wine Festival is held. The festival involves wine drinking competitions and contests and a Batalla de Vino (Battle of Wine) where wines are poured at each other from buckets, squirt guns, or any other device that sprays.  You start off wearing a white shirt and it is red when the battle is over.  The Town of Haro provides all the wine.  Check out the Haro Wine Festival link.

Opening a bottle, I decanted it and let it sit for 45 minutes. The wine is comprised of 90% Tempranillo and 10% Graciano grapes from the vineyards in Briones and Rodenzo.  The 2001 growing season was excellent and produced grape clusters with small berries and a good “skin to pulp” ration.  Pouring a glass, the color was a clean and intense deep vivid ruby red with aromas of dark berries and cherries, spices, and tobacco with slightly earthy tones, typical for a Rioja.  The taste did not disappoint, the wine was silky smooth with layers of flavors, dark fruit, vanilla spice, tobacco and slightly floral, very well balanced with supple tannins, mineral notes, a clean structure, and ending with a nice lingering finish.  I cannot say enough about this wine.  If you are able to get your hands on a few bottles, tuck them away as they should be great well beyond 2021.  A true cellar gem for less than $50!

Cheers!

Mid-Week Red

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Sierra Cantabria 2009 Crianza

Sierra Cantabria 2009 Crianza

Founded in 1957 by Guillermo Eguren, Sierra Cantabria is sheltered in the heart of San Vicente de la Sonsierra, a town of historic winemaking tradition, positioned in a unique location between the River Ebro and the Sierra Cantabria mountain range. The Sierra Cantabria mountains and the Ebro river create a special microclimate with Mediterranean and Continental characteristics providing mild winters and gentle summers, unique for vine cultivation.  In addition, the summers get a “thermal jump” with intense heat during the day with crisp night temperatures which creates an increase in the level of polyphenols, found in many fine wines.  The soils are calcareous clay which is excellent for obtaining high quality wines and enhance the expression of Tempranillo.

Pulling the cork and getting a whiff of this 100% Tempranillo wine, I noticed aromas of black cherries and some spicy notes.  Aged for 14 months in French and American Oak, the palate showed complex flavors of dark berry ripe fruit, medium acidity, soft tannins and slight smoky cedar/tobacco finish.  Very enjoyable, especially the price, $18.  Spanish wines continue to provide great value for the price, but nothing lasts forever!

Cheers!

Mid-Week Red

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Qupe 2010 Syrah

Qupé 2010 Bien Nacido Vineyard Syrah

A California resident, Bob Lindquist named his winery “qupé” to honor the Chumash, the indigenous people of the Golden State’s Central Coast and Channel Islands. Since many of the sounds of the Chumash language have been obscured by time, Bob gave “qupe” its pronunciation (“kyoo-pay”), with an accent on the final syllable.  In Chumash, “qupé” refers to the poppy, a flowering plant traditionally used for food and medicine.  Pictured on the winery’s label, a stylized poppy stands amid a swirl of stems studded with leaves and seed pods.  The arresting image – originally intended as an embroidered motif for bed linens – was selected from designs associated with Gustav Stickley, the famed furniture maker and champion of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900s.  Ann Johnson, one of Qupé’s original shareholders, discovered the design in a book of clip art available for public use. She sent a copy of the art to Bob, who immediately recognized it as the perfect image for his wine label.  The original design resembled a wine glass, but Bob tweaked it to look more like a poppy, in keeping with his intention to pay homage to the region’s earliest residents.

Qupe logo

Opening a bottle of 100% Syrah from Bien Nacido Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, the color was a clear dark ruby, with a clean warm spicy nose, slightly floral. The palate revealed strong tannins, still with the fruit, ripe raspberries, coming through and ample pepper and dried fruit tastes.  The cool climate and whole cluster fermentation adds the warm spice to this wine.  The wine was aged for 19 months mostly in French Oak (20% new), with 10% on new Hungarian oak.  The strong tannins and balanced structure tells me you can sit this wine down for a few years.  Outstanding wine for $23.

Cheers!

Mid-Week White

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Pomino 2012

Castello Di Pomino 2012 Chardonnay

Pomino, meaning “Little Apple” is a small DOC located in central Italy’s picturesque region of Tuscany. The classified area encompasses the town of Pomino and includes vineyards within the Chianti Rufina sub-zone in the province of Florence. Although relatively unknown, this is a premium wine producing area, and was granted its DOC title in 1983.  In a decree drawn up by the Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1716, he declared Pomino to be one of four major areas in Tuscany that had the potential to produce quality wines.  It was also hailed by the 17th-century writer and scientist Francesco Redi, who said, “The Pomino district has become famous in Tuscan enology for the exquisite quality of the wines obtained from the grapes grown on its limestone slopes, and it is there that the Albizi and the bishops of Florence have maintained estates since times quite remote.”

Today, the Marchesi di Frescobaldi Company has a very strong presence in this classified zone – the company owns nine estates with more than 2470 acres of vineyards at various altitudes. These lie at the heart of the DOC, where the terroir is best, the climate is ideal, the soils are mainly rich in sand and clay, and the slopes face south-west.

Pouring a glass of the 2012 Chardonnay (blended with very small amounts of other grapes, pinot bianco for one), I noticed a nice golden yellow color and a floral nose with delicate spice. The taste was somewhat rich with stone fruit, apple and tropical flavors jumping around.  The finish was a slight tangy mineral which actually got better as the wine warmed a bit.  Very limited import, so grab one of these beauties for under $20, if you can find it.

Cheers!

Vertical Tasting

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Don Olegario 2013

Don Olegario 2012 & 2013 Riax Baixas Albariño

I recently tasted both the 2012 and 2103 vintages of Don Olegario Albariño. The Falcon brothers currently manage Bodegas Don Olegario, however the tradition and passion for wine was inherited from their grandfather Adolph Falcon, who since 1950 was dedicated to the marketing of wine locally.  Olegario, the Falcon brothers father, established himself as winemaker in 1980, bought the vineyard and began making Albariño wine under the name of Don Olegario, and in 1988 joined Dorian Baixas.  Today, the third generation of Falcon brothers are committed to maintain the same style and quality of wine produced by their father.

Rias Baixas is a DO wine zone in the Galicia region of north-western Spain, located along the Atlantic coastline. It produces some of the country’s most acclaimed dry white wines, mostly from the Albariño grape variety. The name Rías Baixas means ‘low rias’ and was chosen because of the coastal inlets (‘rias’) which characterize the landscape here.  Although a comparatively young DO (established in 1988), Rias Baixas has rapidly grown in stature thanks to the efforts of its various enterprising producers, who have adopted modern winemaking techniques to showcase the region’s signature grape variety, Albariño.

Opening a bottle of the 2012 vintage, I noticed a clear pale straw color that lightens up around the edges. Aromas of fresh green fruit, apple & pear, slightly citrus, crisp and clean, slightly acidic but good balance.  Now, opening a bottle of the 2013, I noticed the fruit aromas were a little more pronounced, fresh green fruit but with more tropical, melon, peach and citrus coming forth and transferring to the palate.  Good balance with a clean savory character that can accompany a rich meal such as salmon or pork.  These Don Olegario Albariño’s are a great “go to wines” that are pleasant to drink and pair well with food.  Grab a few bottles for around $16 and try them!

Cheers!

Weekend Selection

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Rombauer 2012 Chard

Rombauer 2012 Chardonnay Carneros

Koerner Rombauer was born and raised in Southern California, in the small, agricultural town of Escondido, near San Diego. He attended public schools in Escondido and went to the same high school as Joan Ransome, who would later (in 1959) become his wife.  Koerner’s first great career passion was flying, and was a commercial pilot with Braniff and flew as a captain along a South American route until the airline ceased operations in 1972.  The Rombauers moved their family, two horses, and five dogs from Dallas to the Napa Valley.  They purchased 40 acres of hilltop land on the Silverado Trail, near St. Helana, however without any desire to start a winery.  In 1976 Koerner and Joan became partners in Conn Creek Winery and learned the business from the ground up.  In 1981 they sold their interest in Conn Creek Winery and began construction of the Rombauer Vineyards on their Silverado property.

Rombauer 2012 Chard-Cap2

Opening a bottle of their 2012 Carneros Chardonnay, the color was clear rich gold color, with fruit forward aromas of peaches, melon and golden pears. The taste did not disappoint, with a rich creamy taste of fruit flavors with just the right touch of graceful oak that should continue to soften over the next few years.  Be sure to let this Chardonnay warm up a bit in your glass if it tends to fog up as you will want to taste all of the complex flavors that you will miss if the wine is too cold.  Delicious at $35!

Cheers!

Exceptional Red

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Terrabianco 2009 Campaccio2

Terrabianca 2009 Campaccio Toscana

In the medieval times Podere Terrabianca found itself in the ambiguous situation of being situated in the part of the countryside under the rule of Florence and, at the same time, also in the diocese of the Bishop of Siena. The very first documents mentioning its presence, dated 1085, describe it as being a country estate as, in fact, its name clearly implies.  Today the winery Terrabianca is located at the heart of the Chianti Classico region, in the middle of Tuscany.  The soil consists of layers of chalk, sand and clay from the Palaeozoic and Mesozoic ages which is the ideal composition to grow grapes of highest quality.

The wine consists of 70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and aged for 12 months in French and American oak barrels. Pouring a glass I see a dark ruby color with ample dark berry fruit on the nose.  The palate shows rich ripe cherry flavors, slight spice and a light toasty oak finish with well-structured tannins.  The wine seems to be well balanced and probably can be kept in the bottle for several years.  A great Chianti Classico!

Cheers!