According to Mezzacorona, their Pinot Grigio vines are grown in estate-owned vineyards in an alpine valley carved into the Dolomite Mountains by the Adige River which has it’s beginnings in the Italian Alps. In addition, the grapes are cultivated in a traditional pergola style and completely hand-harvested. Sounds romantic in an old world kind of way, doesn’t it? Evidently, their location in the Dolomites affords them a variety of microclimates which allows them to choose plant several grape varieties in vineyards best suited to each.
Notes: The bouquet of the Mezzacorona held faint whiffs of citrus and peach with hints of summer flowers. Color was a typical light straw. It was light-bodied, and acidity was good. In this PG I tasted primarily nectarine with additional warm spice notes. As it drew to a close it brought lemongrass to the fore with touches of mineral on the finish. I found it a perfectly good Pinot Grigio. I think it should be a nice accompaniment for light entree dishes and young cheese courses.
Evidently, Dancing Bull started out with Zin. Released under the Rancho Zabaco label, Robert Parker tagged it as a best buy in Zinfandel that year – 2002. Given my experience with their 2013 California Zin, that doesn’t surprise me at all.
Notes: This California Zin was a deep ruby color with scents of musty earth, pine, and dark, ripe berries in the bouquet. Acidity was good, tannins were moderate, and alcohol was at 13.9% on this medium-bodied selection. I thought this was pretty darned tasty. It had intensity of flavor yet still seemed to be somewhat restrained. An oxymoron? Maybe I am. A paradox? Couldn’t say. What I can say is that as I sipped this Dancing Bull, I found vanilla, dark currant, oak, and spice notes on the palate. I don’t think this is a good candidate for long cellaring, so drink up!
Pinot Gris – what is it? Simply put, Pinot Gris is the French name for Pinot Grigio. Enough said! In addition, this wine’s label indicates it comes from 100% Vinifera rootstock. Why is that important? Well, most grape vines grown in the U.S. and much of Europe for wine production are grafted onto rootstock from another species of grape (such as Vitis Riparia, Vitis Rupestris, and Vitis Berlandieri). These rootstock species are less susceptible to pests such as Phylloxera and thus help ensure successful harvests. In this case, however, Chateau Ste. Michelle has gone pure OG by using Vitis Vinifera rootstock.
Winemaker: Chateau Ste. Michelle
Varietal: Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio
Appellation: Columbia Valley, Washington
Notes: The color of this Washington selection was extremely pale yellow. The bouquet had scents of citrus, pear and almond with light floral notes and a hint of spice. Acidity was good. Weight on the tongue was medium, and alcohol was at 13%. Flavors I found included bitter orange and pear with a faint note of cantaloupe. The finish brought grass and toast. I found it a fairly complex and interesting glass of wine. This is one I’d be happy to serve to guests at a cocktail party or with light hors d’ouvres.
Gris/Grigio means gray. You can see why this varietal acquired it’s name. Photo by Andrew Fogg.
My parents had a recording of Doris Day singing this tune. OK, so her lyrics were actually “Que sera, sera.” But the two words (both French) are nearly homophones, and it isn’t the first time someone has taken a little artistic license with an old song. Probably isn’t the first time someone has tried to make this joke. Ha! Now that I think about it, though, I’m surprised there aren’t more songs written celebrating the attributes of wine of all kinds. Maybe I should give it a go – compose a tune about vino. If I do, I promise to post it. Well … I’ll post it if I think it’s any good, that is.
Notes: The color of this wine was a dark, inky purple. In the bouquet I found dark berry, pine tar and spice. Acidity was high in this medium-bodied red. Tannins were also fairly high with a quick attack. Alcohol was 13.5%. Overall, the affect on the palate was medicinal. There were flavors of dark currant, woody brambles, pepper, clorophyll, and a chemical note on the long finish. I wish I’d had a nice, juicy steak to eat with this Syrah.
A few months ago I mentioned that I had tried a varietal wine made of 100% Bobal grapes. I liked it, so my blog friend whirlaway let me know when they saw this Rosé made from Bobal mentioned in a Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyer. Thank you, whirlaway, for giving me a heads up! I definitely wanted to see what this one was like.
Notes: In the glass this wine was fairly dark for a rosé. It was pink, yes, but a dark pink. It was light-bodied, and acidity was OK. On the palate this Albero seemed dryer than it’s 12.5% alcohol content would suggest. Tannins were light with a late onset. Flavors for me included tart cherry, spice notes and a bitter woody finish. It was interesting to try a blush wine made from Bobal grapes. I think, however, that I want to try some more Bobal red selections. This Rosé was not my personal favorite.
I love it when somebody recommends a wine to me, especially when their recommendation is on point for my personal preferences. I’m happy to say that’s what happened with this budget Cab.
Winemaker: Dark Horse
Varietal: Cabernet Sauvignon
Notes: This purpley Cab had a bouquet including oak, barnyard, mint, vanilla and dark berries. It was medium-bodied with good acidity and moderate tannins. Alcohol was at 13.5%. Flavors I detected were a fruit foundation of plum and dark berry, sweet clove, pepper, oak, and a touch of tar. This wine was a pretty good mouthful of viniferous enjoyment. It was especially round and full right at opening, but it remained quite nice throughout for an inexpensive Cab. A decent value.
* This was the retail price listed at the store where I bought my bottle. I got it on sale, but I’ve also seen it available for a much lower price (while supplies last, I suppose) at Trader Joe’s.
Still on a roll with new experiences, I recently had my first South African Pinotage. Pinotage is a grape variety born and bred in South Africa that is the result of crossing Pinot Noir with Cinsault (also known as Hermitage). While this varietal has evidently had an inglorious history due to high production with some lower quality results, it seems the Pinotage growers are determined to turn that around.
Winemaker: Riebeek Cellars
Appellation: Swartland, South Africa
Price: $8.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: This SA red was more of a purple hue in the glass. Light-bodied and with fairly high acidity, I thought the tannins were in the moderate range. They were definitely present with a medium onset but not at all harsh. Flavors I detected included plenty of woodiness, a solid core of raspberry, notes of black pepper, and a gently piquant cranberry on the long finish. I liked this selection a lot. I can see pairing this Pinotage with a good ham or game fowl. I thought it was well balanced for the price with plenty of structure for some cellaring. Even so, it was pretty darned enjoyable right now.
What is a good way to celebrate good news at work? When I say good news, I mean really good news. Remember the trip to Montreal I mentioned? Well, the participants rated the meetings and presenters (of which I was one). I don’t know if it was that my attempt at dredging up college French was passable or what … but I got good “grades.” And that makes me very happy. So I decided to reward myself by tasting my first Rioja ever. Yes, it’s true! I know it might have been more fitting to have gone Canadian or French, but it was a serendipitous celebration. I pulled from the bottles I had on hand, don’t you know!
Notes: This Spanish red was more of an eggplant color with tons of bouquet redolent with barnyard, oak, earth, tangy dark berries and spice. I really enjoyed the bouquet a lot. Acidity was fairly high and tannins were also on the high side in this medium-bodied selection. On the tongue, I thought this inexpensive Rioja was pretty yummy. I tasted rich dark fruit, tea leaf, tar, a hint of pepper, brambly tannins, as well as notes of baked rolls on he long finish. In describing it, I wouldn’t call it chewy exactly but then I wouldn’t call it not chewy, either. Is that confusing? Well, try it and see what I mean. I think it would be a nice accompaniment to a steak dinner, but there is plenty to enjoy by itself.