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Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Kenneth Volk - Southern California

This morning, I set to work on my latest post.  After tonight's tasting though, I got all hot and bothered to blog about these wines!  We tasted five wines (which took an hour and a half by the way..) and I'd like to share two with you!  There was a rep from Kenneth Volk Wineries, who has worked with this particular company for 25 years...hence the reason this tasting was an hour and a half...he had a lot of information to share! This vineyard is located in Santa Barbara's Santa Maria valley in Southern California.  Hey, I've been to Santa Barbara!  I was however, only 20 and 21 years old at the time.  Looking at vineyards and wineries was the furthest thing from my mind, nor did I even know of their existence! Anyway, all that to say...I really enjoyed these wines, and would never have tried them otherwise. Oh..and next time I'm in Santa Barbara?  I'll be paying a visit to this winery.

Kenneth Volk
2010 Jaybird Chardonnay
Santa Maria Valley, California USA
Fine Wines by Liquor Select

Kenneth Volk
2009 Negrette
San Benito County, California USA
Fine Wines by Liquor Select

 This was truly a really great Chardonnay!  Before I had ANY information at all, the first thing I got on the nose was bananas.  I've never smelled bananas in a wine before, but there's always a first for everything!  There was also pineapples and peaches, but then when I tasted it, I got this overwhelming taste of oak!  But guess what?  This Chardonnay is UN-oaked.  Thus the name of the wine - Jaybird.  You know the term...Naked as a Jaybird?  Well, this wine is "naked".  Not aged in oak barrels like the traditional Chardonnay, which would then impart that "oakey" taste.  Rather, aged in stainless steel on the lees (the dead yeast cells that are formed after the fermentation process).  And because it's aged on the lees, it would tend to have that creaminess, and emulate tastes of oak as well. That's why my brain said Oak. Along with that, I also got tastes of olives and even a hint of honey. I wouldn't have guessed it was at 14.8% alcohol, because it seemed very light bodied in my mouth.  Lovely.  I WILL return to purchase this wine.

First of all, what is the Negrette grape?  Has anyone ever heard of this grape? Wow, I had no idea what this was!  Certainly intriguing stories behind this grape!  Of course, it came from France, and anything that comes from there has GOT to have a story!  Originally found in the Southwest of France; 40-50 km NW of Toulouse, this grape is similar to the Pinot Noir grape. Very black, small bunches, thin-skinned grapes.  But, unlike the Pinot grapes, these are even tinier and so fragile, that Kenneth Volk puts tissue paper between each layer of grapes when pressing!  So finicky are they, that the French coined them the "little black bitches"!  The folks at Kenneth Volk vineyards though prefer to call it an "heirloom varietal" and an "under appreciated rarity".  Much better description though don't you think?!?  Lots of smoke, mushrooms and forest floor on the nose, and super huge amounts of basil and oregano on the palate.  Really well rounded, with not too much tannin.  I enjoyed this wine...perhaps because it was different, but also because it reminded me, in many ways, of that elusive Pinot Noir with beautiful aromas and tastes that I'm trying to find....all for under 30 bucks.  Perhaps I've even found it, in this tiny little black grape.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Bienvenido a South America!! - Part 2

It's Friday the 13th, and what better way to kick it off than with a wine blog?  As promised, here we are back in South America for part 2 of this post!  Sometimes all the wines mentioned in a post can be kind of overwhelming!  Thus the reason for splitting it up!

Can't have South American wines without having at least ONE Argentinian Malbec.  I have to say I was disappointed with the Malbec.  Especially when I looked forward to it so much.  Malbec is one of my favourite grapes to be sure. The Luigi Bosca from Argentina was featured here.  And I know those of you reading this, and are Malbec fans, would know this wine!  Sadly, we all rated this wine as "invisible".  There was just nothing there that we could really grab onto and like.  A bit of "meat" on the nose, but that was about it.  Maybe it was because it was the 2008?  Or perhaps we had a bad wine..there was no cork to blame, as it was a screwtop wine. In my ever so humble opinion, save it for your cooking wine! And because of my disappointment...I didn't take a picture!

2009 Casa Silva
Gran Reserva Carmenere
Colchugua Valley, Chili

 This one was a star!  There was James kicking it up a few notches with the Gran Reserva again!  Gran Reserva in S. America is just a name.  It really means nothing like it does in Spain with the time spent in oak, and in the bottle.

Lots of different aromas.  Green pepper, cigar tobacco, coffee, and dark chocolate.  This off dry, low tannic wine had a really silky finish, and would be great with some grilled meats! I'm kind of a big Carmenere fan, so I really did enjoy this one! 


2007 Pisano RPF

Has anyone else ever heard of this grape?  The Tannat grape?  Before this evening's tasting, I had not.  It is a very black grape and said to be the "national grape of Uruguay". My friend Harjeet brought this one, and because he is an executive chef, wines are becoming best friends to some of his food dishes.  If he brought this and recommended it, chances are I would enjoy it as well.  I speak for no one else in my group, but this was likely my favourite of the evening!  Lovely scents of creme brulee, butterscotch and caramel with hints of toasted coconut.  Very warm in my mouth with some burned popcorn flavours (not a bad thing in this case), but also hints of blackberry fruit.  Slightly mouthwatering and high tannins.  This one lasted for quite some time in my mouth.  A definite to put on your list of "wines to try"!

My friends(and former classmates from Level 1, enjoying the tastes of the wines!  Thanks to D'arci, Daniel, Jennifer, James and Harjeet for always being up to the task!


Monday, 9 April 2012

Bienvenido a South America!!- Part 1

Hang on to your hats folks!  It's about to be another marathon post!  Tasting nights with my classmates allows us to taste several different wines, and seriously cuts down the cost because we are all bringing one to share with everyone else.  And the best part is, the host gets to keep all the leftovers!  Sweet!  What's different about this post though, is that for all the newbies, I'm going to break it down into two posts, so your brains don't get all mixed up!

Michel Torino- Argentina
2011 Torrontes
$16 - Vinomania
 First up:  our only white of the night!  I would best describe this wine as a zippy-lounge-chair-patio wine.  We ALL loved it!  I'd never had the Torrontes grape before.  In fact, I'd never even heard of it!  And when I told the girl at the wine store that I needed a white from South America, this is what she offered me. What a beautiful wine for $16!  Nice aromas of peaches, white blossom and lime peel, and tangy tastes of peaches, pineapples, citrus, and other tropical fruits in my mouth.  As the night progressed, (i.e. 2 1/2 hours later) the citrus flavours really rounded out leaving me with much less sharpness.  Either way, poured right out of the bottle chilled, or even a little warmer to cut into that sharpness, this was a fantastic wine!  Tasted great with the spicy spinach dip that Daniel brought as well as the jalapeno cheese served by D'arci.

Casilleo Del Diablo, Chile
Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Sottana Reserva, Argentina
Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Mendoza Region
 There were 2 Cabernet Sauvignons on the table, one from Argentina and one from Chile.  We decided to taste them side by side, the same grape from 2 different countries.  It would likely have been a better exercise had these 2 wines been from the same vintage.  However, it was useful to takes them like this, going back and forth.  At first I didn't really like either of them...AT ALL. But after the requisite swirling, sniffing and sipping, I definately started leaning toward the Chilean.  Lots of really nice aromas here: bacon, smoke, coffee, caramel...and later...chocolate!  By going back and forth from one to the other, we were able to pick up aromas that we never picked up at first sniff.  Also at first, it didn't seem to "stick".  What I mean by that, is it didn't stay around in my mouth.  However, this was one of those wines that the longer it sits, the better it tastes.  And as always, most of these wines would taste WAY better with food!

Lots of earthiness, and some "sticky tar" in the Sottano Reserva.  I really tried to get more, and I really wanted to, considering that this wine was $10 more than the other.  But...that's all I got, bringing me back to the FIRST Cabernet Sauvignon (the Casillero del Diablo) and loving it even more!

Well...with part one at its conclusion...stay tuned for Part 2!  I promise you won't have to wait long...