While I don’t speak Spanish (but wish I did as I mentioned in a previous post), I do speak German at a conversational level. I’ve lived in Germany a couple of times and studied the German language both in the country and at college. In fact, it was almost my minor. I had the credits for it. But book German, or Hochdeutsch, is not the same as the daily spoken language or vernacular. And then you have the variations by region and country. Hochdeutsch is different than Bavarian German which is different that Swiss German which is different than Austrian German, etc. So when I tell you that it took me awhile to work out that Gmörk or Ried Gmörk on this Anton Bauer label means Gmörk Vineyard, please don’t judge me too harshly.
Winemaker: Anton Bauer
Wine: Grüner Veltliner Ried Gmörk
Varietal: Grüner Veltliner
Appellation: Wagram, Austria
Notes: This Austrian sent aromas of zingy green apple and citrus to my olfactory nerves. Color was a light but intense yellow. Acidity was bright and lively in this characteristically effervescent and light-bodied selection. Alcohol was at 12%. When I opened the bottle, the screwtop liner remained affixed to the lip of the bottle until it popped off of its own accord with a sound as satisfying as any champagne cork. Flavors I detected were green apple and lime zest with touches of almond. Pretty tasty and entertaining to boot.
As we move into fall with the impending holidays, I thought I might post these notes from seasons past.
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Price: $7.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: The color of this Pinot Noir was a medium garnet. The bouquet contained a generous amount of cedar as well as earth, berries, and a hint of beef. It was light-bodied with good acidity. This Echelon also had 13% alcohol and medium tannins. On the palate I tasted cherry, ash, pomegranate, and tea.
Another quick post of archival tasting notes.
Winemaker: Trader Joe’s
Wine: Coastal Syrah
Appellation: Central Coast, California
Price: $4.99 at Trader Joe’s
Notes: This TJ vino was dark red with tangy dark fruit, sous bois, and violets in the bouquet. Medium-bodied with a pleasant “round” mouthfeel, the Syrah had moderate tannins and 13.9% alcohol. Acidity was fine but perhaps a little on the low side. Flavors tended toward the dark with plum, moss, ash, and a touch of mint. Considering the price, I’d say it was not a bad bottle of wine. While I will not be serving this with any holiday feasts or dinner parties, even, it could serve as a very affordable “house” wine.
As you may have noted, I continue to dig into my archive of tasting notes. This Petite Sirah was drunk several months ago. I can only hope the new vintage is as enjoyable, because I think another Shannon Ridge PS might be part of my holiday shopping list this year.
Winemaker: Shannon Ridge
Varietal: Petite Sirah
Appellation: Lake County, California
Notes: Part of the Shannon Ridge “High Elevation Collection,” this wine was a very deep purple in the glass. It had a full bouquet of jammy blackberry, pine resin and dusty soil. Acidity was good and tannins were medium in this medium-bodied Petite Sirah. Alcohol was 13.9%. Flavors I found were berries atop darker fruit and woody tannins that lingered. In addition, it had a plush mouth feel. That’s the best word I can find to describe the sensation. I liked it pretty darned well. I had this as an accompaniment to a rib roast and it was quite a pleasant pairing.
So … here’s the question. Do you think California Pinot Grigio’s are generally as good as their Italian counterparts?
I took the time to look back and review my tasting notes of PGs to see if they might give me a clue as to my own thinking. Remembering that I focus on inexpensive wines on this blog, it seems my experience suggests that the Californians still have some catching up to do. That isn’t to say California wineries don’t make good Pinot Grigios. In the value priced selections, however, I have evidently preferred the Italians.
Of course, that’s just one man’s limited experience. If you have some suggestions for me as to Pinot Grigios I should sample, I’d be more than happy to hear about them.
Winemaker: Top Hat
Varietal: Pinot Grigio
Notes: The wine was an extremely pale straw color with good acidity and 13.9% alcohol. On the nose I encountered scents of citrus with warm spice notes. It was very light-bodied, almost thin. On the palate I tasted citrus, grass and touches of warm spice. It was an okay PG, but I think there are less expensive options that are equal to this Top Hat and much more interesting selections in the same price range.
I mentioned in a post a couple of weeks ago that my parents never threw anything away. While that may be an overstatement, it isn’t too far from the truth. Thus, they had a four bedroom house filled to the brim even in retirement. They weren’t hoarders, but they were definitely savers.
When my sister and I were cleaning out the house a few years back, I packed up a number of boxes of “stuff” that was somehow connected to me. There were photos, of course. But they had also managed to hold onto, among other things, all of my school report cards. All the way back to kindergarten! K-12. Ha! Imagine how surprised I was when I found included with my fifth grade records a certificate of distinction for my efforts in Spanish. What?! I would love to remember now even as much (little) as I knew back in fifth grade. Unfortunately, if the label on this Alamos red blend weren’t translated into English, I would have had to use “Google translate” to understand it.
Varietal: Red Blend
Appellation: Mendoza, Argentina
Notes: This blend of Malbec, Bonarda, and Tempranillo was dark garnet in the glass with red berries in the nose. Alcohol was at 13.9%, tannins were medium, and the flavor profile was primarily a very pleasant cherry.
According to Merriam Webster, a dark horse is a “little known competitor that makes an unexpectedly good showing.” Interesting how the idea of a dark horse has been inspiration for artists (and politicians) for … well, a long time.
Winemaker: Dark Horse
Notes: In the bouquet this Dark Horse presented jammy dark fruit, cedar, and damp loam. At 13.5% alcohol, it was medium-bodied with moderate tannins. Acidity was good as well. On the palate I found dark berries and plum with touches of cinnamon and molasses. Of course it wasn’t as sweet as molasses. I thought this Merlot might be good served with game fowl, but it was fine to sip alone.
Some time ago I shared a little story of my sojourns through France when I was a young boy. In that instance, we had stopped on the south coast of France (Mediterranean) and spent a day at the beach. At the time, we were living in Germany, so that was not the only trip we made into France. We also made our way to Paris.
Although I was only 6 years old at the time. Paris left a lasting mark on my soul. While my father did his best to herd the family from museum to museum, some of the most vivid memories are from the city itself. For instance, I was fascinated by the hotel we stayed in because it wasn’t at all like the American hotels and motels we had stayed in. It was a small pension hotel in a bustling residential neighborhood. Not far from our hotel, there was an outdoor market where people where produce of every kind straight from the farm was available. We bought some cherries at the market that I can still taste by memory today. They were SO amazing. And although I was very impressed with the art works in the Louvre, I found the Arc de Triomphe infinitely more appealing.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been back since that trip. Yup, more travel for my bucket list. I really would like to experience the City of Light as an adult. Know what I mean? I didn’t have a single sip of wine when I was in Paris last!
Winemaker: La Vieille Ferme
Varietal: White Blend
Price: $7.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: This French white was medium yellow in color with lots of yellow (golden delicous) apple along with citrus notes in the nose. Acidity was good in this medium-bodied blend which had a slight coat-the-tongue quotient. Flavors I detected were kiwi, cream, and hints of toasty oak. I liked it. I have had other vintages that I didn’t enjoy as well, but this bottle was fine by me.
Where does the term headsnapper come from? What does it mean? Does anybody know?
I’ve come upon three possible meanings thus far. 1. something so shocking, unexpected or interesting that it makes you whip your head around to look at it; 2. something that is too expensive or a bad deal (perhaps surprisingly so); 3. fish bait (red snapper heads are evidently often used as bait).
If the label art is any clue as to what the folks at It’s A Headsnapper mean when they use the term, it is likely to be something akin to the first definition. Then again, there is a fourth possibility that occurs to me. The woman on the label looks as though she might be dancing while squeezing the juice from grapes into a glass. So maybe she’s a dancer who likes to whip her head about.
Winemaker: It’s A Headsnapper
Appellation: Sonoma County, California
Notes: This Sonoma Chardonnay brought citrus, grass and turpentine to the nose. With bright acidity, it’s heft on the palate was on the light side of medium. Alcohol at 13.9%, the flavor profile I found included citrus (lemon turning to grapefruit), grass, and chalk with some turpentine and woody notes. Speaking of the label once again, my tasting notes bear almost no resemblance to the description of this wine on the back of the bottle. All I can do is share what I tasted!
I’ve only had one Mencía before. It was another selection I found at Whole Foods. I’m starting to get the idea that this varietal exhibits more of the non-fruit flavors and generously woody tannins. At least, that’s what I’ve noted in my two tastings. Of course, two bottles of wine cannot define an entire varietal. I guess that means I’ll have to keep trying more of these Spanish wines to gain fuller insight.
Winemaker: Alvarez de Toledo
Varietal: Mencía Roble
Appellation: Bierzo, Spain DO
Price: $10.99 at Whole Foods
Notes: This Mencía was dark red with a purplish tinge. The bouquet was led by a piquant scent of balsamic vinegar* underscored by earth and dark fruit. It was light-bodied with good acidity and medium tannins. Alcohol was 13.5%. The overarching flavor I detected came from the brambly tannins. In addition there were touches of dark fruit and tobacco with a kick of bitters near the end.
* More balsamic than vinegar, the scent did have an acidic zing. This was not, however, a vinegary wine in any way.