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October Wines

 

Red Wines


La Follette Pinot Noir

Sonoma County, California

Why I chose this wine for you:
Pinot Noir is one of the hardest wines to find of high quality below $30. La Follette, however, has made one of immense quality that doesn’t break the bank.

Location:
La Follette was started after Greg La Follette left Flowers Winery to start his own winery. He was able to keep some of the same grape sourcing from his days at Flowers and focuses on the cool climate areas of Sonoma County, like Green Valley and the South Sonoma Coast, to make cool climate Pinot Noirs like this one. He is also a big proponent of clones like Swan and 777, which enhance the aromatic character of Pinot Noir.

Winemaking:
Grapes were destemmed and pumped directly to stainless steel fermentation tanks. Indigenous yeast was relied upon to begin fermentation. The “cap” which is made up of grape solids was pumped twice a day to extract color and flavor, then pressed shortly after dryness. The wine settled in a stainless steel tank, then was racked and aged for 5 to 10 months on 40% new French medium-toasted oak with the rest being in neutral oak.

Tasting:
This wine has concentrated aromas of berry basket, hibiscus and spice, underscored by notes of pipe tobacco, toffee and earth. Lively, red fruited entry leads to a palate of raspberry and brush, with balanced volume and soft tannins. A burst of acidity on the late palate soars to an elegant finish with a mineral note.

Food Paring:
This is the perfect wine for duck or chicken dishes with mushrooms.

Skyfall Cabernet Sauvignon

Columbia Valley, Washington

Why I chose this wine for you:
Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington continues to increase in quality. This Skyfall is the perfect example of what the state has to offer in variety and complexity at a reasonable price.

Location:
This wine is sourced from a group of vineyards in the Columbia Valley. The vines are own-rooted, allowing a lot of extraction of fruit even at a young vine age. The soil in the area is a loam/clay mix, perfect for extracting minerality and character from Cabernet Sauvignon.

Winemaking:
The wines were hand-picked, sorted and then crushed. They were then cold-macerated for 24 hours before fermentation was begun in large oak vats and stainless steel. During fermentation, three pump-overs per day were employed to extract fruit and tannins. After fermentation was completed, the wine was pressed and racked off into barrels where it was aged for 10-12 months, depending on the vintage.

Tasting:
Inviting aromas of boysenberry, vanilla and dark chocolate swirl in the glass. Rich flavors of ripe black cherry coupled with hints of crème brulee sugar crust and butterscotch weave through the palate. Balanced acidity and polished tannins are showcased on the finish.

Food Paring:
This Cabernet Sauvignon is a great pairing with braised beef ribs or seared steak.

Spellbound Petite Sirah

California

Why I chose this wine for you:
Petite Sirah is making a comeback as a varietal as wine aficionados look for new varietals that show intensity and balance.

Location:
Spellbound’s wines are sourced from winegrowing regions throughout California where the warm sun and cool, moonlight nights result in expressive, approachable and balanced wines. These wines are true to their roots, expressing ripe varietal character with a style that elevates every occasion—from special events to everyday meals around the family table.

Winemaking:
The Petite Sirah grapes were gently destemmed but not crushed, allowing a significant amount of whole berries in fermentation. The wine was then place in large open-top fermenters to help reduce the alcohol content but also enhance the aromatic character. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation and was aged on its fine lees to build mouthfeel.

Tasting:
Spellbound Petite Sirah has an intense color and generous bouquet of rich blackberries and blueberries, vanilla bean and roasted coffee, all in a remarkably approachable glass. The wine is crafted to unleash dark and luscious characteristics, while managing tannins to deliver an opulent and juicy Petite Sirah.

Food Paring:
Enjoy this wine on its own or with expressive dishes including Cajun, smoky barbecued meats, spaghetti with meatballs, fried chicken or Greek food.

Beckmen Cuvee Le Bec Red Blend

Central Coast, California

Why I chose this wine for you:
One of the original Rhone Rangers on the Central Coast, Beckmen has been lauded as one of the best producers of Syrah, Mourvèdre and Grenache from the United States by Wine Spectator Magazine.

Location:
The wine is sourced from two different vineyards, one in the Ballard Canyon AVA and the Beckmen Estate Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Both of the sites are cool climate with lots of fog and wind during the evening and early morning and bright, brilliant sun during the afternoon. To add complexity to the blend, six different clones of Syrah and three different clones of Grenache were harvested from the sites.

Winemaking:
Each clone was fermented with native yeast in individual lots. Native yeast was used to help impart complexity. Two to three punch-downs per day were done on all lots to build tannin extraction. The wine was fermented on skins from 7 to 18 days depending on the lot and the color extraction of each lot. Then 15% of the wine was aged in new French oak 60-gallon barrels with the other 85% in neutral French oak barrels and large foudres so as not to impart too much oak flavor.

Tasting:
Aromatically, the wine shows fresh fruits with red berries, blueberries and spices. The palate is full, round and broad with smooth tannins.

Food Paring:
Serve this wine just a touch chilled. It makes a perfect pairing with hard cheeses like Sartori or aged cheddar and can also be good with cold meats.

 

White Wines


Ferrari-Carano Pinot Grigio

Russian River Valley, California

Why I chose this wine for you:
Clean, crisp and inviting, this is a Pinot Grigio that’s easy to drink but also shows mouthfeel complexity.

Location:
Russian River Valley stretches over 15,000 vine acres in Sonoma County and is known best for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production. However, in the last couple of years, other cool-climate grapes like Pinot Grigio have excelled as winemakers branch out to other varietals.

Winemaking:
Individual lots of hand-harvested grapes were gently whole cluster pressed to minimize any color or harsh tannin extraction, then racked to stainless steel tanks for cold fermentation. This wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation, so it retained its bright flavors and crisp acidity. Depth and complexity were enhanced with weekly lees stirring until bottling.

Tasting:
This wine has delicious aromas and flavors of white peach, pineapple, citrus, kiwi, honey, lychee, orange blossom, Meyer lemon and mango. Full-bodied and bright at the same time, this Pinot Grigio’s concentrated aromas, flavors and refreshing acidity linger to the finish.

Food Paring:
The minerality and acidity in this wine make it a great pairing with light fish dishes.

Roth Sauvignon Blanc

Russian River Valley, California

Why I chose this wine for you:
The Foley family continues to put some of the best grape sources in even their most modest bottlings.

Location:
Known best for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir production, Russian River Valley winemakers are now producing stellar wines with other cool-climate varietals like Sauvignon Blanc.

Winemaking:
This wine is 86% Sauvignon Blanc and 14% Semillon. Both varietals were hand-harvested, fermented at a coolish temperature and inhibited from going through malolactic fermentation. A small portion of the grapes were aged in neutral oak to bring mouthfeel, while the rest were aged in stainless steel to retain aromatic profile.

Tasting:
This wine has fruit-forward aromas of citrus zest and guava that lead into bright and crisp flavors of nectarine, candied mango, papaya and lime zest and beautifully balance its crisp minerality.

Food Paring:
This Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect pairing with light fish dishes like halibut or cod finished with lemon.

Craggy Range Chardonnay

Hawke’s Bay – New Zealand

Why I chose this wine for you:
Craggy Range is one of the great wineries of New Zealand, and they continue to produce some of the best white wines from the Southern hemisphere.

Location:
Kidnappers Vineyard is located on the Hawke’s Bay coastline at Te Awanga where springs and autumns are warm and sunny, and summers are tempered by the cooling sea breeze. Its ideal location allows the development of intense Chardonnay flavors in the grapes, producing a wine with lifted aromatics and a mouthwatering finish.

Winemaking:
Vines were harvested at night and brought to the winery in whole clusters. The skins were immediately separated from the juice and the juice was then cold-soaked for five to six hours to let the solids settle. Fermentation was coolish at 60 degrees. The wine was then aged in a combination of neutral oak and stainless steel to retain aromas.

Tasting:
This wine is very reminiscent of Chablis with lots of green apple, yellow apple, lemon and lime aromas. There is a nod to the new world with just a hint of tropical character. The finish is steely and minerally.

Food Paring:
The minerality and high acidity of this wine make it a great pairing with shellfish or light chicken dishes.

St. Francis Chardonnay

Sonoma County, California

Why I chose this wine for you:
St. Francis has been on a roll lately with many of their wines receiving high scores from the wine press. This Chardonnay is no exception and has been noted as a best buy from Wine Enthusiast.

Location:
Grapes that produce Sonoma County Chardonnay come from Sonoma Valley estate vineyards and Russian River Valley, as well as from growers in Sonoma County’s other top appellations, including Carneros and Alexander Valley. Each carefully selected vineyard contributes distinctive and individual qualities to the finished wine.

Winemaking:
To preserve Chardonnay’s delicate flavors, aromas and acidity, the grapes were picked at night and in the very early morning hours so the fruit arrived cold at the winery. Grapes were then immediately pressed whole-cluster and fermented in different lots. The wine underwent partial malolactic fermentation and was aged for six months in French oak barrels. During aging, bâtonnage (stirring the lees by hand) was performed to achieve complexity and a creamy mouthfeel.

Tasting:
This is a refreshing, medium-bodied Chardonnay with flavors and aromas of green apple, juicy pear, melon and marzipan. Bright and crisp, the wine is nicely balanced with a touch of minerality on the smooth and silky finish.

Food Paring:
This wine is an excellent pairing with shellfish, chicken, salmon and pasta or other dishes with cream sauces.