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May Wines

 

Red Wines


Coppola Director’s Cut

Cabernet Sauvignon – Alexander Valley, California

Why I chose this wine for you:
Francis Ford Coppola Winery spares no expense when producing wines, no matter the price. This Cabernet Sauvignon is a serious steal as many of the vineyard sources go into much more expensive (and in some cases iconic) Cabernet Blend.

Location:
Marine influences shape the climate of Alexander Valley, resulting in warm days and cool nights. Soil diversity creates unique growing conditions in Alexander Valley, with red volcanic soils on the eastern hillsides, alluvial gravel fans on the valley floor and steep slopes of rocky clay loam on the west part of the valley.

Winemaking:
The grapes are sorted at the winery, with only the best ones making it into the Director’s Cut blend. Mostly Cabernet Sauvignon, every year a small amount of Cabernet Franc is used to lift the aromatics. Over the last couple of vintages, Petit Verdot has also been included to help round out the mid palate. The wine ages for 15 months in French and American oak barrels (40% new) to help integrate tannins and build aromatic complexity.

Tasting:
This wine shows impressive concentration of black fruits such as blackberry and black currant with blue fruits in the background. A generous and broad palate shows characters of graphite, cedar and cigar smoke that contrast well against the fruity character on the nose.

Food Paring:
This wine goes well with many roasted meats or artisan dark chocolate.

Rancho Sisquoc

Santa Barbara County, California

Why I chose this wine for you:
Santa Barbara has been on a hot streak of high-quality, cool climate red wines recently. Small producers such as Rancho Sisquoc have built a following around styles of Syrah that show the fruit character of California, but the palate complexity more common in France.

Location:
Located on the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail in Santa Barbara County, California, the winery is part of a 37,000 acre cattle ranch. The vineyard is comprised of over 300 acres planted on south facing slopes on the Sisquoc River. Unique microclimates cooled by the ocean allow them to grow Syrah that develops ripe flavors with sugar ripeness that leads to alcohol levels below 14%.

Winemaking:
Open top fermenters are used to make this wine to help reduce overall potential alcohol as well as create an expressive aromatic character. After fermentation and malolactic fermentation, the wine is then aged in small oak barrels. Depending on the year, the percentage can be upwards of 40% new French oak.

Tasting:
Blue fruits pair nicely with dark espresso, toasted sugar and hints of smoked oak. The palate has lots of round tannins and just a hint of cocoa which lingers on the long finish.

Food Paring:
The espresso and smoke notes make this the perfect wine to pair with rosemary leg of lamb and fingerling potatoes.

Flor de Vetus

Tempranillo, Toro, Spain

Why I chose this wine for you:
Vetus is one of the best producers in the Toro Denominación de origen in Spain. Their entry level wine is anything but tame with loads of fruit extract and lots of palate complexity. It is a favorite of reviewers like Wine Advocate.

Location:
Toro is on the high plain north of Madrid. The region has a varying continental climate with hot summers and very cool winters. Vetus has access to some of the old vine Tempranillo of this area known as Tinta de Toro because of its dark, extracted fruit character that distinguishes it from the lighter, more elegant Tempranillo made in Rioja.

Winemaking:
The key to making good Toro is to tame the tannins. Vetus does this by soft pressing the grapes, fermenting at a warm—but not hot—temperature and removing the must from the fermentation before completion. The wine is then aged 9 to 10 months in half French and half American oak (50% new) to further round out the wine and build palate complexity.

Tasting:
Lively red cherry, dark cherry and plum dominate the nose of this wine with hints of dill, herbs and smoke aromas in the background. On the palate, the tannins of Toro are obvious but not so strong as to completely dominate the taste. The juicy aromas on the nose are balanced by the dryness on the palate.

Food Paring:
The blocky tannins in this wine as well as the hint of smoke and herbs make it a great combination with cured or roasted meats.

Wines of Substance

Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, Washington

Why I chose this wine for you:
Made by the irreverent and super talented winemaker Charles Smith, this Cabernet Sauvignon is a high octane version of Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Location:
The Columbia Valley in Washington state provides the perfect climate for Bordeaux varieties. The warm days and cool nights allow for wines to fully ripen while still retaining their acidity. In addition, many vines are own rooted, which brings intensity of aromatics and tannins unique to the area.

Winemaking:
The wine is sourced from 9 different high-quality vineyard sites in the Columbia Valley. Instead of crushing the grapes, the berries are kept whole and fermented in the vat without crushing, limiting aggressive tannin extraction. To still get enough tannin extraction and development though, the winemaking team does an extended maceration of 35 days. The wine is then aged 12 months in French oak barrels prior to bottling.

Tasting:
Full bodied and intense, but not overtly alcoholic the wine showcases a terrific bouquet of cassis, black cherry and crushed flowers. The finish is long and elegant with layers of red and black fruits throughout.

Food Paring:
The elegant nature of the tannins and the balance between the fruit and spice of the wine make it a great pairing with a fattier cut of steak or lamb.

 

White Wines


La Chablisienne Petit Chablis

Chardonnay – France

Why I chose this wine for you:
Petit Chablis is a hot category. As wine geeks re-discover this classic appellation more of these amazing wines are making it to California.

Location:
The wines are selected from premier growers in the cooler designated areas of the Petit Chablis appellation. While in the past this appellation was not as prestigious as the Chablis designation, with global warming, Petit Chablis has been outperforming its designated potential over the past 10 years.

Winemaking:
The grapes are gently pressed to not extract tannins from the skins. The wine is then fermented at moderate temperature followed by a slow malolactic fermentation in the tank. The wine is aged for 7-8 months in tank on the lees to help integrate aromas and then bottled to retain freshness.

Tasting:
A fresh bouquet of honeysuckle, anise and hints of grass and orange accompany dominating notes of lime, giving this wine instant freshness. This refreshing quality is quickly counterbalanced by a pleasant bitterness along with conspicuous saltiness, indicating the authentic Chablis origin. The finish is prolonged by lingering notes of citrus peel.

Food Paring:
This Chablis will enhance soft ripe cheeses as well as lighter seafood selections such as scallops, shrimp and Atlantic cod.

Brokenwood Semillon

Hunter Valley – Australia

Why I chose this wine for you:
One of the iconic wines of the wine world, this Semillon delivers tremendous aromatic and pallet complexity for a modest price.

Location:
Hunter Valley is a very unique region in the wine world. As a subtropical region, the wines develop ripe aromas but lower alcohol due to the rain and cloud cover in the region. Especially suited for these regions, Semillion has made a home here as the trademark grape.

Winemaking:
Harvesting is done all by hand. The fruit is crushed, chilled and pressed immediately. Neutral yeasts is used for the fermentation, bottled in May. No malolactic fermentation is implemented, and the wine is aged in stainless steel.

Tasting:
Enjoy lifted aromas of citrus and lemongrass notes. Sweet fruit flavors combine with great lime juice acidity. This is an outstanding young Hunter Valley Semillon great for drinking now—or it will age gracefully if a more mature style is desired.

Food Paring:
This wine is great to enjoy on its own but will also pair well with pasta and a lemony oil-based sauce.

Domaine Pichot, Vouvray

Chenin Blanc, Loire Valley, France

Why I chose this wine for you:
Chenin Blanc is a classic varietal and Vouvray is a classical region for its production. The ultimate food white wine due to its acidic structure, Vouvray can also age for 10-15 years, developing interest nutty aromas.

Location:
Vouvray is an Appellation Controlee within the Loire region. Located close to the city of Tours, this region can be one of the coolest in France and is known for its production of light red wines and fresh, complex whites such as Chenin.

Winemaking:
Harvesting is done by hand and machine depending on the vine age, which varies between 25 and 60 years. The wines are pressed, allowed to settle and then fermented in a combination of stainless steel and large oak barrels. The wine is then aged 7-8 months, bottled and held for at least 6 months to let the flavors integrate.

Tasting:
This wine has a darker hue than most white wines due to some influence from botrytis. Showcasing citrus fruits such as lemon and lime, there are also aromatics of white flowers and herbs. The palate has just a touch of sweetness, but it is barely perceptible because of the fresh, forward acidity.

Food Paring:
One of the best wines for pairing with soft cheeses, this will also go well with lemon herb chicken dishes or pasta with an alfredo sauce.

A to Z Wine Works

Pinot Gris – Oregon

Why I chose this wine for you:
Oregon is a key producer of the Pinot Gris grape as the cooler evenings help keep these wines fresh and bright. A to Z has been one of the top producers of moderately priced Pinot Gris according to Wine Spectator.

Location:
30 different vineyards are used to produce this wine. The varying grape sources help create aromatic complexity on a grape that is typically known as neutral. The balance between Willamette Valley sourcing and other warmer areas such as Umpqua help the winery find balance in alcohol levels.

Winemaking:
The grapes are picked early in the morning to retain freshness in aromas. Very little skin contact is employed as Pinot Gris is actually a red grape that can show too much color if not handled gently. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel with malolactic fermentation, purposely blocked to retain acidity and a lower pH.

Tasting:
The A to Z Oregon Pinot Gris offers beautiful floral aromas reminiscent of jasmine, elderflower and white roses along with complex fruit notes of nectarine, melon, pear, yellow plums, yellow apples, lemon, lime, grapefruit zest, a touch of guava, clover honey and handmade marshmallow. The wine is lush and layered on the palate, structured with moderate acidity and alcohol.

Food Paring:
This pairs great with pasta salad or pesto pasta dishes.

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