KING ESTATE PINOT GRIS 2012
MARTA'S VINEYARD 2011 RESERVE MALBEC
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
The Malbec grape originated in France, as most grape varietals did. For this, we owe France a huge debt of gratitude. In France it was, and still is, a blending grape in the region of Bordeaux. Over the years, other countries have taken the original varietals from France and produced quite a different taste than was possible or even desirable in France: Cabernet Sauvignon in California; Merlot in Columbia Valley, Washington State; Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand; Malbec in Argentina, to name just a few. The difference of taste is due to terroir: the environmental conditions, especially soil and climate, in which grapes are grown and that give a wine its unique flavor and aroma. Malbec found a home in the Mendoza region of Argentina (the USA cultivates 3, 400 acres of Malbec; Argentina 76, 700). It is in Argentina that it reaches its full potential. As all good Malbecs have, Marta's Vineyard Reserve 2011 has bold flavors and richness, exhibiting aromas and flavors of blackberry, plum, and black cherry, with hints of chocolate, leather, spice, and smoke.
BREGGO CELLARS PINOT GRIS 2012
ANDERSON VALLEY, MENDOCINO
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio are wines that are made from the same grape. In most cases it's a matter of difference of styles. Wines called Pinot Gris, following the example of Alsace, France, tend to have a creamy mouth-feel and, because of that, seem to have a fuller body; Pinot Grigio wines, e.g., Kris from Italy, tend to be lighter and crisper. I enjoy both styles. That said, the Breggo Cellars Pinot Gris 2012 is an elegant wine, with a creamy mouth-feel, exhibiting aromas and flavors of peach, citrus, and apple, with hints of pineapple, melon, and minerality. Enjoy these final days of summer with a memorable wine.
enTycement RED BLEND 2012
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
This is one of our boutique wines, a new and exciting venture for Harney's Liquors. A Boutique Wine is one that comes from a small winery, offering a limited production of very distinctive, high quality wines; it is handcrafted by a master of wine-making, who oversees all aspects of production from soil management to the bottling, with attention given to wine-making as an art rather than as a business. enTycement 2012 is a blend of Zinfandel, Petite Syrah, Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a dark, purple color, with aromas and flavors of blackberry, boysenberry (a sweet-tart fruit), and rich dark fruits, with a touch of chocolate, and a lush mouth-feel. The smooth, lingering finish is accentuated with a touch of spice.
TRIMBACH PINOT BLANC 2011
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
This wine represents the traditional and dry Alsace white wines. The house of Trimbach dates back to 1626, so its knowledge of wine-making is unrivaled. (As an aside, this region is my favorite for white wines. One sip, and you will know why.) This Trimbach Pinot Blanc is dry (not sweet), soft, fresh, well-balanced (harmonious whole: no one element dominating), with aromas and flavors of apple, citrus fruit, and mineral. Excellent as an aperitif, elegant enough for a formal dinner, a perfect accompaniment to light meals, and, yes, clam chowder.
RODNEY STRONG CHARDONNAY 2012
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
California is noted for, and rightly so, its Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, and Chardonnay. The Chardonnay grape - unlike the Pinot Noir grape, which is thin-skinned, and, like thin-skinned people, difficult to deal with - is relatively easy to grow just about anywhere. It adapts well to different soils and different climates. Its native home is in Burgundy, France. The year 2012 in California produced extraordinary grapes, both white and red. I suspect that before long the 2012 vintage will be hard to find. This Rodney Strong Chardonnay is medium-bodied, fruit-forward, exhibiting aromas and flavors of apple, lemon, pear, and pineapple, and a hint of oak. The mouth-feel is very satisfying from the start to the long finish.
FRANCISCAN EQUILIBRIUM WHITE BLEND, CALIFORNIA
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
From one of the most prestigious vineyards in Napa comes this very delicious and refreshing white blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Muscat. It lives up to its name: Equilibrium is a harmonious balance of flavor and acidity. It is relatively dry, with a touch of sweetness, and exhibits aromas and flavors of pears and peaches and suggestions of other fruits, including apricots and melons. A wine may be chosen because its taste is similar to the taste of a food, making it complementary, for instance, a spicy Zinfandel served with a spicy barbecue, or it may be chosen to create an opposite or offsetting effect. Equilibrium is a perfect (offsetting) accompaniment to spicy foods.
ARTAZURI GARNACHA 2012
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
The Spanish Garnacha grape is similar to the French Grenache grape. Some people (but neither the Spanish nor the French, out of national pride, I suspect) would say that they are identical. But, even if they were identical, the influence of location, soil, and climate - terroir - would make the resulting wines very different. Artazuri Garnacha is a good everyday red wine, bright-ruby in color; medium-bodied; with aromas and flavors of black cherry, raspberry, and plum; well-balanced (the fruit, acidity, and mild tannins combine harmoniously); and the flavors hold through the finish. A slight chilling period, perhaps a half-hour in the refrigerator, will control the taste of alcohol, which is sometimes apparent in a red wine on summer days, and it will not harm the flavors; in fact, I think that chilling the wine slightly concentrates the flavors. A thoroughly enjoyable wine!
ROSE 'N' BLUM PINOT GRIGIO 2011
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
The name Kent Rosenblum summons up tastes of great Zinfandels and Syrahs. I was fortunate enough to sample his wines at the Rosenblum Cellars tasting room in Alameda, California, on more than one occasion. Extraordinary! He is so skilled a vintner, that he probably could make wines out of mushrooms! Kidding, of course. Mushrooms cannot ferment because of the lack of sugar. This Pinot Grigio of his is delightfully refreshing. It is light and fragrant, fruit-forward, exhibiting aromas and flavors of peach, pear, and green apple. Serve it chilled on its own, with appetizers, or with a crisp salad or light meal. One taste, and you may choose it as your summer wine.
The world gets smaller and smaller, and tastier and tastier. Near at hand, we have a jammy Shiraz from Australia; a spicy Malbec from Mendozza, Argentina; an intensely fruity Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand; a luscious Merlot from Columbia Valley, Washington State; an earthy Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from Italy; a Gruner Veltliner from Austria. Yes, Gruner Veltiner, a variety of white wine grape grown extensively in Austria. This wine is light and dry, crisp, with aromas and flavors of citrus, apple, and peach, with hints of white pepper and minerals. It is a very food-friendly wine. Perfect for summer salads, and the perfect accompaniment with raw oysters. Or, on its own, it is a refreshing aperitif.
LA VIEILLE FERME BLANC
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"Translated as The Old Farm, this is a white Rhone wine. Many of you are already familiar with the red version; the white is equally satisfying. It's an inexpensive ($7.99), unpretentious but delicious, fresh-tasting, everyday wine, crisp and dry (fruity, but not sweet), exhibiting aromas and flavors of peach, melon, and nut. Serve as an aperitif or with a simple meal of fish or chicken. It pairs very well with lobster salad.
JOEL GOTT CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2012CALIFORNIA
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
I have often heard it said: "I don't drink red wine in the summer." But, there is no need to forsake red wine during the warm months. The optimum temperature of a red wine is around 65 degrees; warmer than that and the taste of alcohol will be pronounced, and it will create an unpleasant experience - drinking wine should never be an unpleasant experience -, cooler than that and you will sacrifice flavor. (A white wine is at its best between 55 and 62 degrees.) A half hour to forty-five minutes in the refrigerator should do the trick. Experiment. The Joel Gott Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (a very good year for the red grape in California) exhibits aromas and lush flavors of blackberries, black cherries, mocha, and vanilla. The wine is made from grapes produced throughout California, each contributing to the complexity. There is balanced acidity, soft tannins, a long smooth finish, and it is moderately priced. Good luck with "chilling" a red wine!
KING ESTATE WINERY, OREGON
ACROBAT PINOT GRIS 2013
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"King Estate, the largest organic vineyard in the world, produces Acrobat Pinot Gris, using the same grape that is used to make Pinot Grigio. For a fuller review of Acrobat, I recommend reading my review of 9/8/2013. Based on sales and feedback, Acrobat was one of the finalists for Harney's Wine of the Year 2013, which was won, most deservedly, by Whispering Angel, a Rose from Provence, France. As I said in the previous review, Acrobat is distinctively Oregonian in aroma, taste, and texture. This is the new vintage. It exhibits aromas and flavors of citrus, pineapple, honeysuckle, honeydew melon, and apple. Perhaps the words lemon-cream best capture the essence of this truly delicious wine.
WINE OF THE WEEK (6/15/2014)
PINE RIDGE CHENIN BLANC + VIOGNIER
Astrolabe Sauvignon Blanc, 2012
Marlborough, New Zealand
By: Ed “The Wine Guy”
This wine exhibits what has become known as the classic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc taste: highly aromatic, zesty, powerful fruit flavors (tropical fruit, tart gooseberry, lime peel, lemon-grassy), with an acidity that makes the wine crisp and fresh-tasting. The screw cap, becoming more and more popular throughout the wine world, makes for easy opening. I suspect that in a few years, the screw cap will be the rule, not the exception. No loss, except, perhaps, for the romantic pop of the cork. A cork, if tainted, can impart a musty smell and taste to a wine. I know of a vintner (wine maker) in Italy who bought back his wine because of a tainted cork. Pair Astrolabe with summer salads, cold noodle salads, seafood, or, now that the warm weather is finally here, have it on its own out on the deck.
MOULIN DE GASSAC ROSE 2013
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
Over the last few years, imports of French Rose wines to the United States have increased by 40%. This wine is the new release of our largest selling Rose of 2013, with which many of you are already familiar. A blend of mainly Grenache and Syrah, it is very dry (not sweet), light, crisp, and easy-to-drink, with aromas and flavors of strawberries and citrus, and with mineral notes. It is very food-friendly; I suggest pairing it with tossed salads, potato salad, and just about any of your favorite summer dishes. Harney's has an ample supply of Moulin de Gassac to carry us through the entire summer season and beyond.
ESTANDON ROSE 2013
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
Provence, France is the prime area for a certain style of Rose wines: light-bodied, crisp, dry (not sweet), with aromas and flavors of berries, usually strawberry, raspberry, or cranberry. Harney's best selling Rose wine of 2013 was Whispering Angel, also from Provence, which is now available in a new vintage, and, I feel, is even more satisfying than the previous one. Estandon is a blend of red grapes; the juice - all grape juice is initially white - remained in contact with the skins for only a few hours, accounting for its pink/salmon color. I recently had a tasting of Estandon in the store, and received only favorable reactions. If we ever get hot weather, this is the perfect out-on-the-deck wine, accompanied by, perhaps, a crisp, leafy salad, and a loaf of crunchy French bread.
TRURO VINEYARDS OF CAPE COD
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
As we approach the tourist season here on Cape Cod, I would like to feature for both residents and tourists the Truro Vineyards located on 6A in Truro between Wellfleet and Provincetown. You can't miss it: the wine barrel atop a tower, clearly visible from Route 6, shows the location. There are daily free tours in-season, and, for a nominal fee, you can taste several of their wines. The most memorable wines for me are the Chardonnay, the Cabernet Franc (initially a French blending grape), and the Zinfandel. Also, taste the Vignoles (both the name of the grape varietal as well as the wine), a fruity late-harvest style sweet white wine. I must confess that, in my meat-eating days, I have used their Cranberry Red (a wine in their Lighthouse Series) as a glaze for turkey; it may be used for duck and ham also. Bring the wine to a simmer, turn the heat to low, and let it develop into a syrup, then baste the meat. The color and flavor is extraordinary. Harney's has a limited number of Truro wines. I suggest going online for information about the vineyard's activities, and then spending a few delightful hours there.
FOLIE A DEUX SONOMA COAST
PINOT NOIR 2011
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
Of course, the quintessential Pinot Noir wine is produced in the Burgundy region of France, where many of the wines are made in very small quantities and can be very expensive, often reaching peak 15 or 20 years after the vintage. One of the great wines in the history of wine! The Pinot Noir grape is grown around the world, mostly in cooler regions (Burgundy, New Zealand, Oregon, California) which tends to bring out its best qualities. Thin-skinned and finicky, it is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine, and many a vintner has abandoned the effort. The 2004 movie SIDEWAYS which features Pinot Noir wine brought about a rise in sales volume and price. Folie a Deux (translated as a passion shared by two) is medium-bodied, with aromas and flavors of plum, dark cherry, and raspberry, with a hint of cocoa; it has soft tannins, a long satisfying finish, and is very food-friendly.
ROSA REGALE SPARKLING RED 2012
This very pleasant and elegant wine, which is made from the Brachetto grape, is produced in the Piedmont area of northwest Italy, bordering Switzerland and France. The area is famous for its Barolo and Barbaresco wines. Rosa Regale is cranberry in color, very aromatic, soft, sweet - but not excessively so, the acidity balances the sugar - with aromas and flavors of rose petals, raspberries, and strawberries. A perfect wine for celebrations. Enjoy it as an aperitif or a dessert wine paired with cheese and/or chocolate.
ALLEGRINI PALAZZO DELLA TORRE 2010
By: Ed "The Wine Guy"
This is a BIG wine! It is a blend of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella, 5% Sangiovese, full bodied, earthy, spicy, firmly acidic, exhibiting aromas and flavors of dark cherries, blackberries, figs, and dates, with a hint of mocha. 70% of the grapes are vinified according to the traditional fermentation process, and 30% of the grapes are first air-dried (similar to the Amarone method which gives the grapes a raisin-like flavor) and then they are added to the already fermented wine for a second fermentation, resulting in a deep concentration of flavors. I would pair this wine with a full-flavored tomato sauce, like a Puttanesca, which contains Kalamata olives, capers, and anchovy fillets. Emeril has an excellent recipe for Puttanesca Sauce online. Robert Parker, whose opinion can make or break a wine, gives it 90 points.
WHISPERING ANGEL ROSE 2013
This is the new release of a superb wine; the 2012 version was rated as Harney's WINE OF THE YEAR 2012. This is not the syrupy-sweet Rose wines of yesteryear. Provence, France, in my opinion, now sets the standard for Rose wines. The dominant grape in this blend is Grenache. The aromas and flavors are the same as the previous year (rose petal to the nose, and strawberry to the taste, with hints of raspberry and cranberry), but are more pronounced. Pale pink in color, dry (not sweet), fresh, with a creamy texture, and very clear and clean through the finish. This is the finest, most satisfying Rose that I have ever tasted.
By: Ed "The Wine Guy" Makuta
I recommend the following wines for your enjoyment during the upcoming holidays:
KRIS PINOT GRIGIO An Italian-style Grigio: light and crisp, a perfect complement to turkey and ham.
ACROBAT PINOT GRIS Oregon-style Grigio, creamy in texture. Also ERATH, and A TO Z.
TRIMBACH RIESLING Dry (not sweet) from Alsace, France.
TRIMBACH PINOT BLANC Also from Alsace. Elegant, dry, with hints of fruit.
HERMANN WIEMER DRY RIESLING Some sugar here. Very satisfying. From New York Finger Lake Region.
SIMI CHARDONNAY A store favorite. Classic California Chardonnay.
OYSTER BAY SAUVIGNON BLANC Perennial favorite from New Zealand.
FIRST CRUSH SAUVIGNON BLANC Dr. Puzio's delicious wine produced here on the Cape from grapes in an area adjacent to Napa Valley. Less intense that New Zealand.
WHISPERING ANGEL ROSE The new vintage is due this week, more intense in aroma (rose petal) and flavor (strawberry).
MEIOMI Succulent California Pinot Noir. The perfect complement to lamb or salmon.
MARK WEST Our best-selling California Pinot Noir.
14 HANDS RED BLEND A delicious wine from Columbia Valley, Washington State.
14 HANDS MERLOT A more complex Merlot than you may be used to.
CUSUMANO NERO D'AVOLA A lighter red from Sicily. The name of the grape is Nero d'Avola.
KRIS ROSSO A lighter red blend from Italy. The first vintage of this wine from Kris, the same producer as the Pinot Grigio.
As you may have noticed, Ring Brothers Marketplace, including Harney's Liquors, is undergoing renovations. Over the next two months, you will see an evolution of many new features to better serve you. At this time, I would like to highlight some of the wines of the past year or so that have been particularly popular, and deservedly so. You may check out my reviews of these wines by going to: http://harneysliquors.blogspot.com/
CUSIMANO NERO D'AVOLA SICILY, ITALY
WILLIAM HILL ESTATES CABERNET SAUVIGNON NORTH COAST CALIFORNIA
HERMANN WIEMER DRY RIESLING FINGER LAKES REGION, NEW YORK
LA VIEILLE FERME ROUGE FRANCE
TRIMBACH RIESLING ALSACE, FRANCE
MASCIARELLI MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO MARINA CVETIC VINEYARD ITALY
OZV ZINFANDEL LODI, CALIFORNIA
ACROBAT OREGON PINOT GRIS
14 HANDS RED BLEND COLUMBIA VALLEY, WASHINGTON STATE.
SIMI CHARDONNAY SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
WHISPERING ANGEL ROSE PROVENCE, FRANCE. The new vintage will be arriving shortly.
-Ed the Wine Guy
KRIS ROSSO 2009
Many of you are already familiar with the Kris vineyard. For years Kris Pinot Grigio has been a best seller here at Harney's. Now, we would like to introduce Kris Rosso 2009, a blend of Merlot, Montepulciano D'Abruzzo, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is the first vintage of this wine. The Merlot makes it fruit-forward, the Montepulciano full-bodied, and the Cabernet gives it a firm structure. It exhibits intense aromas and flavors of berries and leather. What impressed me immediately was its lively acidity. Kris Rosso is a fine complement to roasted meats, tomato-based pasta sauces, flavorful cheeses, and chocolate.
CHARLES & CHARLES CABERNET SAUVIGNON/SYRAH 2012
COLUMBIA VALLEY, WASHINGTON
Those who have been following my Wine of the Week reviews are probably sick and tired of me singing the praises of red wines from Columbia Valley, Washington. Well, here goes another song. During the summer, Washington averages more than two hours more sunlight each day compared to California. That fact, undoubtedly, contributes to the lushness/richness of its red wines. This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (58%) and Syrah (Shiraz, as it is known in Australia) is medium-bodied, with aromas and flavors of rose petal, dark berry, black cherry, plum, chocolate, and vanilla. It satisfies from the tip of the tongue to the long finish. Wine Spectator has given it 90 well-deserved points. Charles & Charles is a very good addition to our already fine selection of red blends.
Ed the Wine Guy's
WINE OF THE WEEK (MARCH 16)
STERLING VINTNER'S COLLECTION
CENTRAL COAST CALIFORNIA
The three top categories of wines for 2013 here at Harney's - and the trend continues into 2014 - were Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, box wines, and red blends. Red blends, I feel, are made to be immediately drinkable, without the need for decanting: removing sediment, or aeration: exposing a wine to air to release aromas and flavors. (As an aside, white wines never need to be aerated.) Sterling Meritage is a blend of 66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 7% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot, a little-known grape varietal, which adds tannin, color, and flavor to the blend. This wine has aromas and flavors of cherries, plums, berries, chocolate, caramel, and vanilla, and is very satisfying from start to finish. A delicious and inexpensive everyday wine.
WINE OF THE WEEK, March 9, 2014
RIOJA GRAN FAMILIA 2010 SPAIN
Spain is the third largest wine producer in the world and has the most land dedicated to vineyards - over a million acres. Gran Familia is an excellent example and introduction to the wines of the Rioja region of north-east Spain. It is a blend of 90% Tempranillo (Tempranillo and Garnacha are Spain's two most important red grapes) and 10% Graciano, a grape which contributes aroma and longevity to the wine. It is an easy-drinking wine, well-balanced (fruit, tannin, acidity), medium-bodied, with aromas and flavors of blackberry, cedar, leather, and spice, with a long finish. Pairs well with meat dishes, especially with beef, including hamburgers.
CUSUMANO NERO D'AVOLA 2012
Nero d'Avola is the name of this grape, which is the most important and the most widely-planted red grape in Sicily. It is native to Sicily and thrives in the hot and arid climate, taking its name from a small town, Avola, in south-east Sicily. If you are unfamiliar with Nero d'Avola, it has been compared to Syrah. Until fairly recently it was used in blending, but is also now produced as a varietal on its own. It is fruit-forward, with firm but not harsh tannins, spicy, having aromas and flavors of berries, plum, and black pepper. It is complementary to tomato sauce dishes.
WILLIAM HILL ESTATES
CABERNET SAUVIGNON, 2012
NORTH COAST, CALIFORNIA
What a delightful surprise! It's extremely rare to find a California Cabernet Sauvignon that tastes so good and, at the same time, is so affordable for everyday consumption. William Hill is both a treat for those, such as I, who enjoy Cabernet, and a good introduction to this varietal. I was satisfied because it met my expectations of a California Cabernet: good body, aromas and flavors of blackberry, black cherry, currants, cedar, with hints of caramel and cocoa. It is young but, surprisingly, very enjoyable now, and sufficiently complex to develop further in the bottle. While William Hill Estates has a long history in Napa, this is the initial vintage from the North Coast.
HERMANN WIEMER DRY RIESLING 2012
FINGER LAKES REGION, NEW YORK
VITIANO ROSSO 2011 UMBRIA, ITALY
WINE AND CHOCOLATE
By Ed the Wine Guy
2) A red wine may be infused with chocolate, i.e., chocolate is added to the wine. Similarly, Vodka is now known for its infused flavorings: Raspberry, vanilla, caramel, blueberry, etc. Harney's has a chocolate-infused wine that tastes like the traditional candy: chocolate covered cherries.
3) Chocolate may be paired with wine for a delicious dessert. Pair a good Port with chocolate (and toasted walnuts, a ripe pear, and blue cheese; each food brings about different taste sensation), a Pinot Noir with milk chocolate, a Zinfandel with a bittersweet chocolate. Experiment. Your own taste buds are the best judge.
OVEJA NEGRA 2011 CHILE
The translation of Oveja Negra is Black Sheep, the connotation of which, at least in our culture, means a disreputable member of a group, as in the black sheep of a family, one who does not conform to the values of a particular family, a renegade. Therefore, understandably, my expectations in drinking this wine were that it would be bold and brash. But, the vineyard uses the term only to signify that this wine is distinctive, that it is different than the rest of the sheep in the flock, which are white. It is different in the sense that it is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Carmenere, two grapes which are not usually blended together, and which I enjoy separately on their own. The result is interesting, and enjoyable. It is a pleasant wine, with a low level - for a red wine - of alcohol: 10.5%. It would certainly be an excellent introduction to red wine; I find it hard to believe that it would offend any novice to red wine. In my mind I immediately paired it with pizza; it is a very pizza-friendly wine. It is aromatic and soft, light- to medium-bodied, with light tannins, exhibiting flavors of plum, black currants, berries, and a dash of black pepper, with a hint of spice, and a light touch of oak. At the low cost of $9.99, I would certainly recommend it.
LOUIS MARTINI CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011
LOUIS MARTINI CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2011
LOUIS MARTINI CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010
LOUIS MARTINI CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2010
WHISPERING ANGEL ROSE 2012 COTES DE PROVENCE FRANCE
The five wines under consideration for WINE OF THE YEAR 2013 were Acrobat Oregon Pinot Gris; Masciarelli Montepulciano D'Abruzzo Marina Cvetic Vineyard, Italy; Kris Pinot Grigio, Italy; and Whispering Angel. All five wines were received enthusiastically by you, but none more so than the Whispering Angel. In all my years at Harney's, I have never received such enthusiastic feedback about a wine. Historically, Rose wines were syrupy sweet - spine-rattlingly sweet - which turned off most wine drinkers. The preferred Rose wine now is light in body; dry, not sweet; fruity. Whispering Angel is a blend of five red grapes: Grenache and Syrah (which is typical of the Cotes de Provence in the southeastern area of France), Rolle, Cinsault, and Mourvedre. The liquid is not allowed to remain for long with the skins, seeds, and stems; it doesn't touch wood. It was fermented in stainless steel vats without barrel fermentation to ensure freshness of aroma and flavor. This wine is pale-salmon in color, medium-bodied, with the taste of fresh strawberry fruit, and with a long clean finish. One reviewer said that there is an aroma of dried rose petal, and I agree. Elegant, so elegant! Once we have crossed a threshold of taste, there is no going back. Whispering Angel is a Rose to which you will compare future Roses.
I would like to suggest the following wines for your Thanksgiving pleasure. Most of them have been reviewed already during the year in my Wine of the Week column: go to harneysliquors.com, and select blog. I have chosen these wines because, based on your feedback, they have proved to be your favorites. Thanksgiving is not the time to experiment; the comfort of tradition is most important: family and friends, food, and wine; we want everything to be predictably good. These wines are predictably good. And, none of them is over $20. A happy and delicious Thanksgiving!
WHISPERING ANGEL ROSE From France. One of the top-selling wines of the year. Dry, with a hint of strawberry.
TRIMBACH RIESLING From Alsace, France. Elegant, dry (not sweet), aromatic, and very flavorful, with high acidity that assures a clean, crisp finish.
ACROBAT OREGON PINOT GRIS Creamy without the aid of oak. Aromas and flavors of citrus fruit, pineapple, honeysuckle, melon, and apple, with a long, smooth finish.
FIRST CRUSH SAUVIGNON BLANC A delicious wine locally produced. It has the traditional flavors of Sauvignon Blanc: lime, guava, grapefruit, but the body is light with the hint of a fizz.
COLUMBIA CREST GRAND ESTATES MERLOT Those of you that know me, know that I am partial to the Merlots of Washington State, Columbia Valley, whose lushness, in my opinion, is matched only by the Merlots of Bordeaux and Tuscany.
14 HANDS RED BLEND From Columbia Valley, Washington State. Merlot-based, with Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
TALMARD CHARDONNAY From France. Stainless steel fermented and aged. Fresh, creamy, dry, with aromas and flavors of tropical fruits.
CREME DE LYS CHARDONNAY, CALIFORNIA. Creamy and buttery. Lush flavors of tropical fruit, apple, vanilla, and a hint of butterscotch.
KRIS PINOT GRIGIO My favorite Italian Pinot Grigio, differing in style from Oregon Pinot Gris. Light and crisp, with hints of citrus, tangerine, apricot, and honeysuckle.
GASCON MALBEC MENDOZA, ARGENTINA. For those who want gusto in their wines. Full-bodied, soft tannins, flavors of blackberry, plum, spices, and a hint of mocha.
OZV ZINFANDEL Full-bodied, jammy fruit, spicy, soft tannins. A Zinfandel to which you will compare future Zinfandels.
ANGELINE RESERVE PINOT NOIR 2012
The Pinot Noir grape is a thin-skinned, sensitive, finicky grape. It is difficult to cultivate and difficult to transform into wine. In the hands of a good vintner (winemaker), as is found in Burgundy, France, and Willamette Valley, Oregon, and Sonoma County, California, it can be coaxed into an extraordinary wine. I have tasted Pinot Noirs from around the world, and many of them, while they may be pleasant-tasting, are not recognizable as a true Pinot Noir. Angeline Reserve Pinot Noir 2012 is a true Pinot Noir, exhibiting the essence of the grape. It is medium-bodied, balanced, and concentrated, with aromas and flavors of rose petal (yes, rose petal), cranberry, raspberry, and spice. A perfect complement to a traditional Thanksgiving dinner; also, it weds well with a salmon fillet, each bringing the best out of the other.
LA VIEILLE FERME ROUGE 2012
COTES DU VENTOUX, FRANCE
TRIMBACH RIESLING 2011 ALSACE, FRANCE $19.99
I enjoy all good wine, both red and white, from a full-bodied, dense, complex Marina Cvetic Montepulciano D'Abruzzo (last week's Wine of the Week) to a light, elegant, subtle Pinot Blanc. It is not true that all Riesling (pronounced REESLING) wines are sweet. They can be bone-dry (no residual sugar), semi-sweet, or sweet. The best example of all three styles is produced by Pacific Rim Vineyard: the same grape produces all three. A side by side tasting of all three would immediately show the difference. Recall the fermentation process: yeast + fruit juice (sugar) = alcohol. In general, the lower the sugar, the higher the alcohol. The Trimbach 2011 Riesling is bone-dry. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the driest, 10 being the sweetest, this Riesling is a 2. It is highly aromatic (floral), fruity (peach, grapefruit, lemon), has a mineral note (slate), with a high acidity that assures a clean, crisp finish. A perfect accompaniment to Asian dishes; a must as a Thanksgiving wine.
MASCIARELLI MONTEPULCIANO D'ABRUZZO
MARINA CVETIC VINEYARD 2008
No, I'm not getting senile; yes, I have already reviewed this wine before in this column. Harney's has been very fortunate to recently obtain several cases of this wine. If anything, it is even more satisfying now. There are over 10,000 varieties of wine grapes. 10,000! Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is one of them. Abruzzo, by the way, is a region in central Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea. Let me repeat what I have said previously: this is a big wine with a 14.5% alcohol level; it has concentrated flavors of ripe black cherry, plum, and prune, with hints of mocha, licorice, black pepper, and spice; its tannins are soft, the mouth-feel is silky, with a long, smooth finish. And, we are able to offer this altogether extraordinary wine at a price lower than before.
CREME DE LYS CHARDONNAY 2011 CALIFORNIA $10.99
A word first about the meaning and importance of the wine term: vintage, the year in which a wine was produced. A particular wine can vary greatly from year to year, depending on the weather, the amount of rainfall, at what time of the growing season the grapes were picked (too early would mean increased acidity as opposed to late-harvest: a much sweeter grape), and many other factors. I'm thinking about a vineyard that was purposely flooded a week before harvesting in order to plump up the grapes. It increased the amount of wine, but, of course, the flavor of the wine was diluted. So, the vintage is very important. Most wines are consistently good vintage after vintage, owing to the skill of the vintner. Creme De Lys Chardonnay exhibits lush flavors of tropical fruit, apple, vanilla, and a hint of butterscotch. Because of sur lie aging (cf Wine of the Week 9/8) in wooden casks, it has a creamy and buttery style. It is a mouthful. I would pair it with cream sauce recipes such as lobster thermidor and the many Alfredo sauce recipes. Other comparable wines here at Harney's are Sonoma-Cutrer Chardonnay and Columbia Crest Grand Estates Chardonnay.
OZV ZINFANDEL 2009 OAK RIDGE WINERY LODI, CALIFORNIA $13.99
What a remarkable wine! One of the best Zinfandels I have ever tasted! It only confirms that California produces the best Zinfandels worldwide. An interesting aside: DNA fingerprinting has traced the Zinfandel grape to the Primitivo grape as found in southern Italy, and further to a grape in Croatia. OZV (Old Zinfandel Vine) fully satisfies one's expectations: it is dark in color; full-bodied; robust; concentrated; with aromas and flavors of jammy raspberry, blackberry, plum, and mocha, and a hint of smoke (from the oak) and spicy black pepper. It has soft tannins, and a long, smooth finish. Once we have crossed a threshold of taste, there is no going back. OZV is a Zinfandel to which you will compare future Zinfandels.
MONTEBUENA RIOJA TEMPRANILLO 2010
$10.99/2 FOR $20.00
Rioja is a wine region in Spain which grows the Tempranillo grape (native to Spain) extensively. This is a big wine: 14% alcohol, boldly dry (not sweet; it is fruity, but not sweet), with deep concentration. It is light- to medium-bodied, with a beautiful ruby red color, with aromas and flavors of cherry, raspberry, plum, peppercorn, and vanilla. Because it is a relatively young wine, it could use about an hour of aeration during which time the flavor will expand. Remove the cork and busy yourself with the cooking. It would be interesting to take a sip upon opening the bottle, and then compare it with the taste an hour later. The difference is remarkable.
ACROBAT 2012 OREGON PINOT GRIS
Another delicious, thoroughly-satisfying Pinot Gris (Grigio) from Oregon. Acrobat is so distinctively Oregonian in aroma, taste, and texture. Let me explain. It is aged for four months sur lie (on lees), which is the course sediment consisting mainly of dead yeast cells and small grape particles that accumulate during fermentation, which can be filtered out of a wine or allowed to settle at the bottom of (in this case) stainless steel vaults. In the hands of a vintner who knows what he is doing, a wine that ages sur lie gains in complexity: a creamy texture, with hints of honey, nuts, toasted bread. Acrobat has aromas and flavors of citrus fruits, pineapple, honeysuckle, melon, and apple, with a long finish. If I were to line up for a tasting Pinot Gris from Italy, Alsace (France), and Oregon, the differences of style - I enjoy all three - would become immediately apparent, and I wouldn't have to be going on and on with words: one taste is worth a thousand words.
14 HANDS RED BLEND 2011 COLUMBIA VALLEY
WASHINGTON STATE $10.99
I have already in the past reviewed 14 Hands Red Blend in this column. However, it has been out of stock for a while and this is a different vintage, and, I feel, it deserves a re-introduction. In general, red blends are made to be immediately drinkable. Just open and imbibe. I am partial to the red wines of Columbia Valley, as you can tell from previous reviews. Columbia Valley seems to bring out unique tastes that are unattainable elsewhere. Its Merlots are rivaled, in my opinion, only by Bordeaux, France and Tuscany, Italy . This vintage is a blend of Merlot, Syrah (Shiraz, it's the same grape), and Cabernet Sauvignon. It is soft, mellow, and smooth, with aromas and flavors of berries, plums, cherries, currants, and a hint of mocha. At $10.99, it is an outstanding value.
2011 DOMAINE TALMARD MACON-CHARDONNAY
In researching this wine, I discovered that a good number of fine-dining restaurants - including The Red Pheasant Inn here in Dennis - feature this selection. And rightly so. It is a good example of a French Chardonnay which is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks; it has no exposure whatsoever to wood, which contributes to its freshness of taste. Domaine Talmard Macon-Chardonnay is a dry white wine, medium-bodied, with a creamy texture, exhibiting aromas and flavors of tropical fruits. The vineyard is located in the most southerly region of Burgundy, France, which produces some of the finest wines in the world, including Montrachet. The amazing thing is how affordable it is!
2012 WHITEHAVEN SAUVIGNON BLANC
MARLBOROUGH NEW ZEALAND
On Sale this week $16.99
Over the last six months the most popular wines at Harney's have been the red blends (open and drink immediately), box wines (convenient for larger gatherings and for longer storage), and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, which exhibits an intense grapefruit/guava/lime/cut-
BORSAO GARNACHA 2011 SPAIN $8.99/2 for $16.00Garnacha (Grenache) is the name of a varietal of grape, which is planted extensively throughout the world, especially in Spain and in France, where, along with Syrah (Shiraz), it is a major component of Cotes du Rhone, one of my favorite wines. Borsao is one of those red wines that can stand a sllight chilling in the summer months-half an hour to forty-five minutes-without the loss of flavor. Borsao Garnacha, 85% Garnacha 15% Tempranillo, is medium- to full-bodied; has an intense, concentrated cherry flavor, similar to kirsch, the German brandy; and aromas and flavors of raspberry, clove, and peppery spice; it is velvety in texture, with a good, long, smooth finish. Robert Parker in the Wine Advocate, whose opinion can make or break a vineyard, has given it 90 points.
ERATH OREGON PINOT GRIS
By way of review: Gris and Grigio refer to the same grape; the difference is style. Pinot Grigio is light and crisp, with a noticeable acidity, a fresh fruit flavor, and, in many cases, just a hint of effervescence; no oak whatsoever. Pinot Gris is medium-bodied, with a fuller mouth-feel, denser, smoother, richer, and less overtly fruity; the influence of oak, in many cases, is present. I enjoy both styles, and the particular style I choose at the time is dictated by my mood, the weather, and the food I am eating. The 2011 Erath Pinot Gris exhibits aromas and flavors of creamy pear and green apple, with a hint of melon, and has a long finish. The best way to tell the difference between Grigio and Gris is to taste them side by side. For example, Kris Pinot Grigio and this Erath Pinot Gris. The difference will become immediately apparent.