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WBW 71 Wrap-up: (Mostly) New World Rhones

by Tim Elliott on March 22, 2011

It has been nearly three years since I last hosted Wine Blogging Wednesday but my choice of theme was easy. Wines made from Rhône varieties are among my personal favorites and I was hoping to learn about many more new wines from participants this month. There were 25 bloggers posting reviews from all over the world. Thanks again to all who took the time to participate and here they are in the order I learned about them:

  • The first post came two weeks early from Karla at Sol Wine & Film. An overview of the Curtis Winery of Santa Ynez Valley in California, the subject fit the theme perfectly but somehow didn’t mention WBW. But Karla used the WBW hashtag so is included in this roundup.
  • New entrant Rags, the Kenyan Wine Brat, posted his video review of CrossRoads Winery Syrah from Texas. While he is no Gary V, his use of “refrigerator smell” to describe the Syrah near the beginning made me think of the famous New York Jets fan. Nice start, man; looking forward to more!
  • Next up was Lisa from Wine Muse posting a review of a 2009 Rutherglen Estates “Shelley’s Block” Marsanne Viognier from her native Australia. Made from 70% Marsanne and 30% Viognier, the wine sounds wonderful and a great value at $15AUS.
  • Joe the Suburban Wino posted a long and somewhat rambling post about Rhône styled wines that begins with a rant about how difficult the circumflex over the “o” in Rhône is but then uses that word about a hundred times. No review here but there is some serious Rhône knowledge thrown down within Joe’s hilarious rant prose.
  • Another video review was posted by Aleksi who selected two wines for his tasting. The first is the Bellingham, The Bernard Series, Grenache Blanc Viognier (no vintage mentioned) which proved to be an interesting wine despite some metallic flavors. His second selection seemed more successful, 2006 Spinifex “Papillon”, a red blend made from Carignan, Cinsault and Granache.
  • Next up was Bob from 2001 Bottles – A Wine Odyssey with a 2006 Church & State “Coyote Bowl” Syrah from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. It’s not surprising to me that such a nice Syrah could come from Canada as most of the best examples of this variety come from cooler sites. Also tasted was 2009 Twisted Tree Rousanne/Marsanne which was also a winner.
  • Richard, The Passionate Foodie and next month’s WBW host, tasted a 2007 Sutton Cellars Carignane “Piferro Vineyard” and found it to be an, “easy drinking wine, but with appealing character, and would be an perfect pairing with burgers, pizza, or even pasta.” Count me in to pick up some of this to try soon.
  • First time WBW participant Jason from The Ancient Fire Wine Blog was next with a 2007 Penfolds Bin 138 GMS blend. Made from Grenache, Mourvedre and Shiraz, the wine proved to be, “assertive, but not abusive.” Hope to see you next time, Jason!
  • The VA Wine Diva was next with a trio of Rhone-styled wines from Virginia. The first was a 2009 Veritas Vineyards Viognier which was overall a nice wine marred a bit on the finish with a touch of heat. This was followed up by an earthy and leathery 2005 Ingleside Vineyards Syrah. The tasting was capped off with a 2008 Pollak Vineyards “Mille Fleurs” fortified Viognier dessert wine.
  • Andrew from Spittoon, the bloke who got me first into WBW back when he hosted, was next with a 2009 See Saw Shiraz-Mourvèdre. Although information about the wine was hard to come by, it proved to be a winner for under £9.
  • Matt posted next over at A Good Time With Wine tasting a 2007 Liberty School Cuvee, a blend of Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Mourvèdre and Viognier. Although Matt prefers the leaner French style in his Syrah, he did like this California wine.
  • Next was Magnus posting a bi-lingual review of a 2007 Annie Camarda Syrah from Washington State, quite a find in his native Sweden. And the wine was, “Well balanced, big and juicy with a nice acidity that bring excitement and sophistication – this is good and I am willing to buy me some bottles for the summer as well as for the future.” Magnus was the only person this month to accompany his review with an Iron Maiden video, a trend I’d like to see continue 😉
  • Ryan from Catavino in Spain posted next tasting a 2006 Cellar Malondro red blend. A blend of 50% Garnacha and 50% Cariñena from D.O. Montsant, I recalled my trip to the region in 2007 which Ryan commemorated with an archive photo on the post.
  • Next was Michael, The Wine Undertaker, who tasted a 2008 Sterling Vineyards Roussanne from Carneros. The wine was the first taste of Roussanne for him but will not be his last given how well this bottle performed.
  • Colin from Grapefan passed along a tasting note on Adegga as he took a week long vow of no wine. The wine sounds like a winner, though, a 2006 Syrah from Napa Valley’s Hyde de Villaine.
  • Frank from Drink What You Like posted another Virginia Viognier, this time from Jefferson Vineyards. From the 2009 vintage, the wine sounds very interesting and one Wine Blogger Conference attendees will no doubt taste as it’s made in Charlottesville, the site of the 2011 event.
  • Next up was Sebastien at downcellar who posted a pair of Mourvèdre from the New and Old World. First was a meaty and dark Spice Route Mourvèdre from Swartland, South Africa. The Old World entry is a 2007 Juan Gil Monastrell from Jumilla, Spain. Both sound like excellent examples of Mourvèdre from outside The Rhône.
  • My own entry was next, a tale of two Rhone-styled wines from California. In the end, the Steele “Writer’s Block” Roussanne delivered the goods for a steal of a closeout price.
  • William from Simple Hedonisms was next with a review of Wesley Ashley “Intelligent Design Cuvee” Red Rhone Blend. The blend of Carignane, Grenache, Cinsault, Petite Sirah and Mourvedre sounds outstanding.
  • Next was Remy at The Wine Case who posted a nice write-up of a 2009  Edmunds St. John “Wylie” Syrah. The effort from this venerable producer of California Syrah proved very nice but made Remy wish he had a bit more patience to see what the wine would evolve to with further cellaring. That’s why you buy more than one bottle, man 😉
  • Andrea from Wine Skamp posted next with a review of 2008 Santo Cristo Garnacha, a decent sounding quaffer from Spain’s Campo de Borja.
  • Megan was next from the Wannabe Wino blog with a review of a 2009 Hahn GSM blend which sounded like another winner from California.
  • Rain followed next from Teach Us Wine with a cautionary tale to always check the seal on your bottle particularly if it’s a screw-cap. Her tale is full of fail but I’m sure she will come back strong next time.
  • On Wine Blogging Thursday, WBW founder Lenn Thompson posted his entry; a well-chosen 2005 Doon Vineyards “Cigare Volant.” And it seemed worth the wait.
  • And last, but certainly not least, the fabulous Thea posted her entry at Luscious Lushes, a tribute to winemaker Kevin Hamel. She pulled a bottle of 2002  Hamel Wines Syrah, Westside Hills from her cellar to share but also recounts experiences with the 2001 vintage and some other favorite Syrah’s.

So that’s it. I count 25 bloggers and 28 wines tasted. Most of these were red but 8 whites were also reviewed. If I somehow missed your entry, please let me know in the comments and I will update this post.

Thanks again to Lenn for letting me host once again. And without further ado, I pass the baton to Richard from The Passionate Foodie for a very special edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday next month.

Mas Des Dames, Rose, Coteaux Du Languedoc 2009

by Tim Elliott on March 3, 2011

Outside here in Minnesota it’s in the mid 20’s Fahrenheit with a thick snowpack. It is far from springtime here but a bit of spring can be had here inside a bottle of dry rosé. Every spring and summer I resolve to drink more rosé but for one reason or another rarely do. So I thought I would start a bit early this year even if it’s not seasonable outside yet.

Mas Des Dames Rose bottleRosé wines are a misunderstood lot here in the U.S. where most people think of them as off-dry or even full-on sweet “blush wines.” The most cliche of these is the white Zinfandel which is still a staple on many an American table. Dig a bit deeper in a good wine shop you will find several good dry rosé wines that pair well with food and deliver a unique flavor spectrum that is not quite white but clearly not as heavy as a red. The result is the perfect spring/summer wine; at least for me.

Rosé has a long tradition in southern France. But the people behind this wine are relative newcomers. After leaving a career in advertising in Amsterdam, Lidewij van Wilgen moved her family to France’s Languedoc to start Mas Des Dames in 2002. The 18th century farmhouse that serves as the winery is surrounded by 14 hectares (35 acres) of vines mostly planted to Rhone varieties. Organic methods in the vineyard and traditional vinification techniques are used to make the wines. And based upon this rosé, I’m looking forward to tasting their other wines.

Tasting notes:

Mas Des Dames, Rosé, Coteaux Du Languedoc 2009 ($16) – A blend of 40% Grenache, 40% Mourvèdre, 20% Syrah. Clear salmon-ruby color with aromas of strawberry and citrus. Crisp grapefruit and strawberry flavors finishing bone dry with bracing acidity. Very refreshing and pairs very well with food. Only 500 cases produced.

13% ABV
Natural cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆
Score: 89

adegga listing
CellarTracker note
Snooth listing

WBW 53: Wine for Breakfast!

by Tim Elliott on January 18, 2009

In the nearly 4 years I’ve been participating in Wine Blogging Wednesday I’ve never posted this late but I really wanted to take a run at the theme of “Wine for Breakfast!” Since our host this month seems fine with a bit of Wine Blogging Sunday, I’ll take a crack at getting this post published before the NFC Championship game is over.

First off, I don’t drink wine with breakfast. Never have. Sure, I’ve had plenty of sparkling wine or rose at a brunch or two but that is always about 11 a.m. which seems close enough to noon to be socially acceptable. Funny enough, I actually taste wine in the morning on occasion but it’s never with food and I’m always spitting. And finally, I don’t like breakfast food for dinner. This is probably mostly due to wine being not the best match for eggs, pancakes and maple syrup.

But that doesn’t mean there are no wines that would match with such fare; in fact, sparkling wine and rose — dry or off-dry — would probably work here fine. But El Jefe, owner of Twisted Oak Winery and our WBW host this month, has limited our options to dry white and red wines only. Nothing sweet, sparkling or mixed with fruit juice is allowed.

So this has become quite a challenge as my typical breakfast of bacon and eggs is not that easy to match with a dry wine. I like my eggs scrambled and mixed with a bit of cheese further complicating matters. The bacon, of course, would match with a lot of wines but those eggs can really overpower a wine. But I’m not eating huevos rancheros with a yolk to worry about so I think I’ll try to match this breakfast with both a white and a red.

French Maid Sauvignon BlancFor the white I’m going with a medium bodied Sauvignon Blanc I recently received as a sample from the White Rocket Wine Company called “French Maid“. As I’ve noted in the past, I’m not much of a label buyer but perhaps I’ll change my tune as this wine really delivers what you want in Sauvignon Blanc. Made in France’s Languedoc region, the wine is very similar in style with New Zealand SB which have mostly risen above the $12 price point. I think this wine has enough body and acidity to stand up to my bacon and eggs breakfast but I’d more likely enjoy this wine in the summer with a cold chicken salad.

Tasting Notes:

White Rocket Wine Company, “French Maid”, Sauvignon Blanc, Vin de Pays d’Oc 2007 ($12/sample) – Light straw in color with aromas of grapefruit, fresh hay and pineapple. Tart lime fruit flavors finishing clean and dry. A very good value to be compared with better New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

12.5% ABV
Synthetic cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy this wine online

My red match has to be a wine with a lot of fruit and no tannins. Yes, a fruit bomb. I think Beaujolais would be a good match here but when I think fruit bomb, the joven blend of Garnacha and Tempranillio from Bodegas Borsao comes immediately to mind. Available in good volume across the U.S. for well under $10 a bottle, this wine continues to be a good value vintage after vintage. The juicy fruit profile of this wine pairs will with my bacon and eggs breakfast and would also work with more ambitious fare such as a frittata.

Bodegas Borsao Red WineTasting Notes:

Bodegas Borsao,  “Red Wine”, Campo De Borja 2007 ($7) – A blend of 75% Garnacha and 25% Tempranillio this wine is medium ruby in color with aromas of strawberry and red cherry. Juicy fresh strawberry and cherry fruit flavors finishing with a touch of minerality and soft tannins. A fruit bomb, but I like it.

14% ABV
Synthetic cork closure
Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy this wine online

Thanks go out to Jeff from Twisted Oak Winery for hosting a very challenging WBW. I’m looking forward to reading the round-up post probably coming later this afternoon (hope I slip this post in).

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Cameron Hughes, Lot 37, Grenache Rose 2006

by Tim Elliott on August 28, 2007

Cameron Hughes, Lot 37, Rose 2006The growth of dry rose has been one of the trends of 2007 and Cameron Hughes gets into the fray with this Spanish rose. Made by saignee, where juice is drawn off the fermenting red wine to concentrate it’s flavors, this wine is a bit darker than normal for a rose (or “rosado” as the Spanish call them). But everything else is exactly what you want this time of year to pair with grilled chicken or salad. A podcast interview with Cameron Hughes will be released shortly.

Cameron Hughes, Lot 37, Grenache Rose, Campo de Borja 2006 ($10) – Clear ruby in color, a shade or two darker than normal for rose. Generous aromas of strawberry and grapefruit. Fresh and crisp in the mouth with strawberry and watermelon flavors finishing bone dry with good acidity. A very nice example of Spanish rose for a bargain price (I found this at Costco for $8.99 in Northern California).

14% ABV
Stelvin closure
Score: 87
Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy this wine online