George and Elsa Vare love the white wine blends of Italy and have devoted Vare Vineyards to the pursuit of making this style of wine in Napa Valley. They are not new to the wine business having co-founded Luna Vineyards and this experience shows in the bottle. I first tasted Vare wines at the recent Wine 2.0 event at Crushpad in San Francisco and was excited to try their very limited production Bianco Riserva 2005 as part of the Wine Spy for a Day program. The Wine Spies are also offering free ground shipping on 4 bottles or more for all Winecast readers by entering promotional code “WINECASTLUVSME”.
A blend of 40% Ribolla Gialla, 25% Pinot Grigio, 22% Tocai Friulano, 10% Sauvignon Blanc and 3% Chardonnay grown in Napa Valley, Vare Bianco Riserva 2005 is unique in several ways. First, this is the only winery with plantings of Ribolla Gialla in the US, a variety from Italy’s Friuli Venezia Giulia region where it’s blended with Tocai Friulano. The wine spends an extra few months in once used French Oak barrels than it’s sibling Bianco which produces a more complex wine both aromatically and in it’s flavor profile. An finally, this is one of the few wines packaged in 500 ml bottles as requested by Thomas Keller’s French Laundry restaurant. This results in one of the best Cal-Ital white blends I’ve tasted to date.
Vare Vineyards, Bianco Riserva 2005 ($45/500ml/sample) – The straw color is a result of barrel fermentation and aging but the aromas are not overpowered by the influence of wood. This wine has a very pleasing bouquet of citrus, tropical fruit, walnut and a hint of clove. Complex but refreshing grapefruit and pineapple fruit flavors finishing with nice acidity and a creamy, lees element. An excellent food wine and would make a great starter to an Italian meal but with only 20 cases produced, you better act now.
Synthetic cork closure
Buy this wine at Wine Spies for $35 today only!
And don’t forget to enter discount code “WINECASTLUVSME” when you check out for free ground shipping on orders of 4 bottles or more.
Thanks to Agent Red for recruiting me and Agent White for selecting such a nice wine to taste. Look for other wine bloggers to be Wine Spies for a Day in coming days.
Today’s podcast is a return to my vintner profile format with an interview with Jason Korman and Hugh Macleod of the Stormhoek Winery.
00:22 – Welcome
01:07 – Introduction of Stormhoek Winery
02:32 – Interview with Hugh Macleod and Jason Korman
29:16 – Tasting Notes
29:28 – Stormhoek, Pinot Grigio 2005 ($10)
29:46 – Stormhoek, Semillon, “The Sixteen Barrel” 2004 ($20) *
30:26 – Stormhoek, Pinotage 2005 ($10) +
30:51 – Best of Tasting *
30:56 – Best Value +
31:06 – Contact Details
31:45 – Next show theme
Copyright 2006 Acan Media, Inc. Licensed to the public under http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Direct mp3 Download
Direct aac Download (enhanced for iPod) – to be posted soon
Podcast: Play in new window
Last evening, sixteen Twin Cities bloggers, podcasters and wine lovers were introduced to the wines of Stormhoek at Zander Cafe in St. Paul. Luckily, thirteen bottles were ready to be consumed, so I thought we had more than enough. By evenings end almost 3 hours later, only two bottles of Pinot Grigio were still sealed.
The wine of the night was the stunning “The Sixteen Barrel” Semillon 2004; pear, fig, herbs, smoke and caramel in a very round, creamy package. We only had one bottle of this and my pours were too generous so we ran out before everyone had a chance to taste (including me; thanks to Garrick for allowing me to try some of his). The most popular wine of the evening was the 2005 Pinotage. As I said when I presented this wine, most Pinotage is very earthy and somewhat green in character (“weedy” is a term that comes to mind) and sometimes produces wines that are quite unpleasant to drink. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s also a binary wine with people either loving or hating it. This was the first Pinotage I have tried with a large group where everyone enjoyed the wine. I think this is because Stormhoek has made this in a bold, jammy style featuring forward boysenberry and blackberry fruit with the earthy character of this varietal in the background. This tasted almost like a Shiraz, making me wonder how they do with that grape. We started the evening with the 2005 Pinot Grigio that was a quaffable citrus and green apple with a touch of minerality; good, but not close to the Pinotage or the delicious Semillon.
All in all, we were impressed with all three wines but wish we had some of the other varietals to try. Sixteen new Stormhoek customers here in Minnesota are now ready to pay for our further exploration
Thanks to Jason and Samantha from Stormhoek for sending two parcels from the winery and Hugh for the great prints and brochure. IÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ll be collecting my notes and audio from the evening and combining it with an interview with Jason and Hugh recorded at the beginning of the month for a podcast later in the week.
I expect to see some other impressions of the evening to be posted shortly and will collect them here:
– Garrick Van Burren has already posted his (nice Treo pic, Garrick!)
– Dan and Lynn Hook’s podcast (he recorded part of the evening)