Tasting Notes we have written from some recent events and adventures!

Christmas in NYC: Morrell's and The Four Seasons

1994 Beringer Merlot Bancroft Ranch Merlot: Howell Mountain, Napa

1998 Condesa de Leganza, La Mancha Crianza

1999 Ruffino Riserva Ducale, Chianti Classico Riserva

1999 Tenuta Roccaccia, Bianco di Pitigliano (DOC)

2000 Storybook Mountain Vineyard, Napa Estate Eastern Exposure, Zinfandel

2001 Crane Family Vineyards, Napa Valley, Cabernet

2001 Sorensen Cellars Sangiovese

2001 Viento, Columbia Gorge, Riesling

2002 Castle Rock, Carneros Pinot Noir

2002 Lange, Willamette Valley, Pinot Noir

2002 Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Demi-Sec

2002 Wine Country Farms, Willamette Valley, Muller-Thurgau

2003 Agricola San Felice, Chianti Classico, (DOCG)

2003 Di Majo Norante, Molise Sangiovese (IGT)

2003 Feudo Monaci, Salice Salentino, (DOC)

2003 Zenato Veneto, Pinot Grigio delle Venezie (IGT)

2004 Fair Valley, Sauvignon Blanc

2004 Fair Valley, PINOTAGE

2004 Lulu B, Chardonnay

2004 Lulu B, Pinot Noir

2004 Lulu B, Syrah

2004 Valle Reale, Abruzzo Montepulciano (DOC)

NV Gosset Brut Excellence

NV, Duck Walk Vineyards, “Gatsby Red” Demi-Sec

NV, Hamacher Wines, Willamette Valley, Chardonnay

NV Hutcheson, Feuerheerd, & Associados, Porto Rocha, 10 Year Old Port

NV Manzanilla “La Guita” Sanlucar de Barrameda, Sherry


Christmas in New York City: Morrell's and The Four Seasons (2008)

My dear friend and fellow oenophile, Jorg, recently took a job in Geneva with Essent NV, trading energy futures. As many Europeans do, he made a quick sojourn to NYC before Christmas to stock up on few supplies that are both not in ready supply and taxed heavily in Switzerland. We were excited to see each other for a great wine and gastronomic weekend, and having grown up just outside of New York City I was able to also score some brownie points by driving my Mom to the airport for her winter in Florida, prior to taking the train into town.

Morrell Wine Bar & Cafe: W e met at Morrell's which has been the launching spot for several of our previous wine exploits. I realized that the Rockefeller Center tree had just gone up, but Jorg and I were wondering, “what economic crisis?” as we had to wait over half an hour to get two at the bar. It was well worth it when Chris behind the bar remembered us, and then offered us something new he was sure we would love and had yet to try.

NV Gosset Brut Excellence

Gosset is the oldest wine house in the Champagné region. Generations of the Gosset family ran the company until 1994, when it was bought by Renaud Cointreau, with the understanding that the Gosset family would remain directly and personally involved in the wine making. I have previously had Gosset’s NV Grande Reserve, which is made exclusively from Premier Crû and Grand Crû vineyards, and is really a richly colored “heavyweight” with a toasty, full-bodied nose and serious character. There is some fruit, (apple, plum, and citrus), but there is also a hint of truffle that morphs into mushroom en croute on the finish. It reminds one that great Champagné is a wine accented with bubbles and the Grand Reserve has the gravitas to be featured with, as opposed to prior to, dinner.

We loved it, but were looking for something a little more preliminary and Chris steered us perfectly in the right direction as the Brut Excellence he poured proved that Gosset can do light and crisp with equal aplomb. One reason might be that Gosset only uses juice from the first and best pressing of grapes for all of their champagnés, and even more rare, the initial fermentation is always happens in small oak barrels. Gosset also performs all riddling, disgorgement, and dosage by hand. Most rare is that Gosset champagnes do not undergo a malolactic fermentation, this heightens acidity and simultaneously creates a crisp yet rich and full-bodied champagne that can age gracefully. The Brut Excellence showed a pleasant aroma of honey and pear. On the palate it was exceptionally clean and balanced without the slightest hint of yeast or any nut elements. The heightened acid was muted on the tongue and the finish was long with maybe just a bite of lees. After a glass we toasted Chris and ordered a bottle.

The Four Seasons Morrells was the appetizer for a gastronomic experience that I had been looking forward to for years. When I lived in New York, my stepfather and I haunted La Côte Basque. They served sweetbreads stuffed with fois gras that were simply sublime. We had also sampled several of New York’s other great French restaurants including Le Cirque, Chanterelle, La Grenouille, Café des Artistes, which was my Mom’s favorite, Lutèce, Jean Georges, Les Halles, and even both Café Bouluds, but I had yet to grace the door of what many consider to be the best restaurant in the world; The Four Seasons. What made my first trip to The Four Seasons even more exciting was that our dear friend, Chef Tom Hurley, made the reservation for us. Tom Hurley is recognized as one of the Pacific Northwest's top chefs and unfortunately his signature restaurant, Coupage, in Seattle's Madrona neighborhood has just closed after a great 3 year run. Tom studied under master chef Jacques Pepin at Eleven Madison Park in New York and also he worked for Christian Albin at The Four Seasons. He still gets invited back as a guest chef when in New York. Tom, was also a former NYC firefighter, who drove to NYC directly after September 11th to help his mates at NYC Rescue One. He spent the next 2 months cooking for firefighters and the crew, “working the pile.”

Lawrence met us at the door and told us that Freddie, our chef for the evening, was expecting us. He showed to the bar where Jonathan poured us a nice glass of the house champagné and we soaked in the ambiance of the front bar. I felt vibrant, like a high school boy about to use a fake ID for the first time. Jorg and I toasted "Chef Hurls" as we sat at the bar, and both of us felt like an astronaut on a rocket fueled by champagné and taxi fumes about to experience the rarefied atmosphere of hauté gastronomy. Lawrence then led us to a table by the pool, and we knew we were in very capable hands.

The menu was brilliant; ubiquitous, yet structured and defined. I know The Four Seasons is fashioned as an American restaurant, but believe me their French sensibilities are like horse shit after a deluge. We stated with grilled octopus and spicy cannelloni beans and an order of double beef consommé.

2002 Domaine du Clos Naudin Vouvray Demi-Sec

As our champagné waned Lawrence brought an ice cold bottle of off menu Vouvray to pare with a little something the Chef had for us, Nantucket Bay Scallops on Risotto with Alba Truffle. The scallops were sublime! One of the best dishes I have had. These scallops were only in season for about six weeks, and Freddie really makes the best of it He created a truffle and scallop explosion tempered by the creamy and comforting risotto. Before my first bite I questioned a demi-sec, especially when the Montrachet that is a highlight of the well pared wine list had tickled my Pavlovian reflex, but the Domaine du Clos Naudin really pared perfectly with the creamy goodness of the scallops. The wine had great blooms of papaya, plum, and a slight hint of ginger. It was rich and had a smooth mineral finish had both Jorg and I adore with a great balance of fruit and acidity.

A prototypical, demi-sec, Vouvray is semi-sweet without being heavy or syrupy, and it constitutes the plurality of Vouvray’s still wine production in every vintage. Most consider demi-sec to be Vouvray’s most natural variety, and its honeyed freshness represents the pinnacle of chenin blanc’s expression. Good Vouvray is charming, firm, and delicate, exhibiting a nutty, floral, honeyed character whose rich flavor is balanced by palpable acidity and that lovely, bracing minerality. Like all great wines, Vouvray tastes like the place in which it was made, its flavors reflecting the flinty clay of the soil and varying with the finicky northern weather. As a result, though not every Vouvray is good, almost every Vouvray is unique. The best cuvées from the best vintages constitute some of the most haunting, complex, long-lived white wines produced anywhere. Chenin blanc done well is a seductive pleasure enjoyed by few outside of France, but available to all in today’s global economy. Wow!

1994 Beringer Bancroft Ranch Merlot: Howell Mountain, Napa

I almost wanted to go straight to dessert after the scallops, but Both Jorg and I had ordered the Filet of Bison with Foie Gras and Perigord Truffle Sauce, “rare,” and there was no turning back. Plus, Jorg brought a wonderful homage to a right bank Bordeaux from his cellar to enhance the meal, and neither disappointed. The merlot was a blend of approximately 90% Merlot and equal portions of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. While the wine was a little closed initially, I really enjoyed the old world must and was prepared to enjoy a great Bordeaux experience. Suddenly the wine opened in the glass like and started to show the fruit it belied upon first blush. It was amazing! The color was dark and the nose transformed from earth to a smoky, chocolate infused black cherry with new oak and raison in the background. One taste was never enough as the wine kept evolving. It was certainly full-bodied, with explosive levels of glycerin and richness, but on the end of the palate the wine would morph from well dried fruit to near port-like zen. It really was a joy that pared brilliantly with the amazing bison. Again my instinct was toward a dry wine, but the fruit in both wines balanced so nicely with both the rich risotto and the truffle and fois bison, that an extraordinary gastronomic experience became an epiphany.

Freddie came out with a small dessert smorgasbord, yet I was done. I enjoyed the conversation with the Chef and told him on the spot that my dinner had to be one of my top three restaurant experiences ever. I told him the other great experiences included my first visit to Cyrus in Healdsburg CA. Freddie was not surprised as chef and owner Douglas Keane trained under Chef Christian Albin. Freddie really laughed when Jorg and I told him the story of our other best culinary experience at Tom Hurley’s place in Portland, OR. We had brought a magnum of Walla-Walla Vintner’s Reserve Merlot to avoid paying two corkage fees and then after trying a dish of veal cheeks we ordered seven more orders to "86" the dish.

I purposely have not visited every exhibit in the MET, like the French impressionist room, so that I always have a reason to go back. That strategy need not be applied to The Four Seasons, as I could always eat the same piece of artwork that flows from the kitchen and never even ponder ennui.

1998 Condesa de Leganza, La Mancha Crianza

I figured this baby was ready and my wife was making a nice sausage and tomato pizza for dinner. I decanted it for 5 minutes after coming out of my cold, New England wine cellar. It has a decent note of both oak and jam on the nose which morphed nicely into plum during my last glass. The first taste was both a little tight and malolactic at the same time which was very interesting. It blossomed into a nice and complex wine of jam and plum with dry tannins and a kick of oak at the very end. I also perceived licorice, but it was mostly a tongue sensation as opposed to an actual flavor, a first for me.

1999 Ruffino Riserva Ducale, Chianti Classico Riserva

The Sangiovese grape was most likely used in the Roman times for wine making, but according to Darrell Corti, it was not called Sangiovese (Sangiogheto) until the 17th century in Italy. Modern day Chianti did not exist until the last quarter century, when Piero Antinori was able to overturn a government (DOC) rule in place since the 19th century that required that white grapes (Trebbiano) be used to make Chianti along side Sangiovese.

Medium red color with garnet accents. A nose of blueberry, blackberry, mushrooms, tarragon & wet cellar earth. Light to medium body, with a tart mouth feel. Long, tannic and barnyard finish. This wine will probably improve with age; it is still tight and compressed. (This was tasted in 2005)

1999 Tenuta Roccaccia, Bianco di Pitigliano (DOC)

The process of vinification of the Bianco di Pitigliano starts with the immediate extraction of the juice from the fruit, in way that the fermentation you regard only the liquid part and not the peels. The fermentation does not exceed 20°C.

Varietals: Trebbiano (70%+), with Malvasia, and maybe Chardonnay for Fruit? The color was both bright and deep straw-yellow color with greenish reflections The nose is delicate and dry, rather muted for my taste. The palate is neutral, soft, and again muted. I noticed a slightly bitterish background and medium body.

2000 Storybook Mountain Vineyard, Napa Estate Eastern Exposure, Zinfandel

Zinfandel is the only wine grape considered unique to the U.S., according to the federal government. In 1832, this variety was introduced to the U.S. according to Dr. Carole Meredith of UC, Davis. Since then it has been the most widely planted grape in California, and a true new world success story. Through DNA testing, it has been established that Zinfandel and the Italian variety Primitivo are clones of the same variety. Both of these grapes are related to a very obscure Croatian grape called Crljenak.

Medium red color, aromas of strawberry, jammy red fruit, cassis, vanilla & oak accents. Rich, full mouth feel, good round body that has a long fruit filled finish.

2001 Crane Family Vineyards, Napa Valley Cabernet

The “Don Raffaele” vineyard is currently in its 11th year of production, but our Cabernet block came later and is just five years old. Our vineyard is on a sloping hillside with southward exposures sweeping from east to west. Its soils range from gravelly loam to alluvial clay, allowing for a blend of tastes within the terroir of our one vineyard. We are often queried as to the location of our vineyard because the fruit that made that bottle of wine is so unique.

2001 is considered to be the best vintage in decades. Late spring rains, steady seasonal temperatures and a long, dry summer brought forth an outstanding crop. Grape quality was superb and crop size was abundant. The Don Raffaele Estate produced its second largest harvest ever; and our winemaker declared this to be the ripest, best balanced fruit we have ever produced. In anticipation of harvest, we carefully prune and nurture each vine to yield the best fruit possible. We hand pick and sort each cluster on the day of harvest, carefully control the fermentation and extend maceration. The wine is placed in an assortment of the best quality French and American oak barrels. Each barrel is treated as an individual lot to create the best blending options. Only the gentlest handling of the wine is employed, from vineyard to bottle, a process we consider vital to our standard of quality.

Dark garnet color and aromas of smoke and spice give way to the taste of currant, blackberry and a hint of chocolate. Mild tannins proclaim their presence at the back of the throat, creating a wonderfully silky sensation. Blended judiciously with our own Estate Merlot for balance, its soft tannins make this wine immediately drinkable, though it may be cellared for many years to come.

Harvest Date: September 24, 2001
Average Sugar at Harvest: 22.3 °
Average pH (Harvest / Bottling): 3.56 / 3.78
Average Total Acid (Harvest / Bottling): 0.44 / 0.56
Fermentation Method: Cold Soak, Traditional Red Yeasts, Extended Maceration
Alcohol by Volume: 13.5%
Residual Sugar: Dry
Cases Produced: 1,075

2001 Sorensen Cellars, Sangiovese

Sangiovese was first planted in Sonoma around the turn of the century when Italian Swiss Colony Co. arranged for their import and a “Chianti Vineyard” was planted in 1903. Eduardo Seghesio, whose relatives still make Sangiovese from this vineyard, was among those Italian immigrants that cultivated these vines. The Sorensen Sangiovese was produced from grapes planted in the lush Seven Hills Vineyard in Walla Walla. Sangiovese is growing very well in WA. I love straight Sangiovese and this is the most outstanding example of this grape that I have had recently.

Rich, opaque red color, unusual for a wine with a light to medium body. Jammy cherry flavors, with spices and bright acidity mid-palate. A fairly complex wine, with a good, long, creamy finish.

2001 Viento, Columbia Gorge, Riesling

This wine comes from vineyards planted in Hood River County in 1981. The Riesling vines were brought over by the wine maker, Rich Cushman, after he apprenticed in Germany for a year.

Light golden color, very clean and inviting. Green apple and petroleum flavors are very prominent, with whiff of oyster shells. It has a slight effervescence to it, which makes the body seem lighter than it is. Pretty well balanced wine that is crisp, yet ever so slightly off-dry.

2002 Castle Rock, Carneros Pinot Noir

Surprisingly rich deep ruby color for a Pinot. Flavors of baking spice, vanilla, cherry & plums. Well balanced, with plenty of forward red fruit, but enough tannins & structure to make it a versatile food friendly wine. Clean, long finish. This may be the best $10 Pinot Noir in the world, particularly if you like a “new world” style Pinot. Pinot Noir has been cultivated in the Burgundy region in France since the Romans invaded Gaul. After the fall of the Roman Empire, cultivating and tending to the vines was left primarily to the Catholic monks. However, after the French Revolution, large, church held, Burgundian properties were broken up amongst all family members, not just the oldest son, so vineyard properties became small, divided parcels.

Pinot Noir emerged in the U.S. in the 1930s in Napa California, but has been planted more aggressively in the late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly in the Carneros region. Carneros is slightly cooler appellation than Napa and Sonoma, so Pinot Noir does particularly well there.

2002 Lange, Willamette Valley, Pinot Noir

This wine comes from the Red Hills of Dundee, the Pinot Noir Mecca of the U.S. David Lett of Eyrie Vineyard put Oregon on the Pinot Noir map in 1979 when his 1975 Pinot took 2nd place in a Burgundy wine tasting, beating out many famous French Domains.

Clear, medium red color. Raspberry, vanilla, nutmeg, white pepper, and barnyard flavors. Excellent balance and good acidity, yet one gets a really rich sensation for this light bodied wine. Goes to show, 2002 was a probably the greatest year for Pinot Noir in Oregon. This is their entry-level wine? – Wow!

2002 Wine Country Farms, Willamette Valley, Muller-Thurgau

In 1882 Dr. Herman Muller from the Thurgau region of Switzerland crossed Riesling with Sylvaner, to produce this new grape variety, or so he thought. However, mircosatellite markers in the 1990s indicated that Muller-Thurgau is a cross between Riesling and Chasselas, but since 1997 it was not possible to link this genotype to a synonymous well-known cultivar.

“Prof. Muller noticed a cross with Courtillier, but this cultivar was not identical to Chasselas de Courtillier. Analyzing several related cultivors, we found that Madleine Royal kept at the collection in Mantpellier (France) was more or less identical to Chasselas de Courtillier. Despite the origin of Madleine Royal it is not quite clear it should be accepted that a cultivar carries the name used at the region where the cultivar first appeared. Therefore Madleine Royal would be the main designation, while Chasselas de Courtillier is a synonym. Hence Muller-Thurgau is a descendent of the cross Riesling x Madleine Royal.” Dr. Ferdinand Regner, HBLAuBA Klosterneuburg, Austria. Currently Oregon has 90 acres of Muller-Thurgau planted and divided between 16 different producers.

Clean, floral citrus blossom nose. Off dry white wine, with a bright fruit flavor and well balanced acidity. Has a rather full mouth feel, and a long spicy floral finish. Should pair well with spicier Asian food. (This wine was produced by Eola Hills Winery.)

2003 Agricola San Felice, Chianti Classico (DOCG)

Chianti Classico comes from the region situated between the cities of Florence and Siena, a highly fertile land made unique by the careful use of both manual and manmade agricultural activities, which over the centuries have truly added to the natural beauty of the area. Due to its characteristic climate, soil and altitude, the land of Chianti Classico is particularly tailored for the production of prized wines. The specification "Classico" refers to the most ancient area of production of the Chianti region.

Specific regulations apply to the Chianti Classico appellation to differentiate it from the Chianti. Most notably is the different minimum percentage of Sangiovese grapes allowed for each appellation: 80% for Chianti Classico vs. the 75% minimum used for Chianti. In addition to Sangiovese, producers may use other native red grapes, like Canaiolo and Colorino, or "international" types, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with a maximum ratio of 20%. The white grape Trebbiano and Malvasia can no longer be used, beginning with the 2006 vintage. Yield per hectare must not exceed 559 gallons an acre. Output per vine is limited to 6.6 pounds. Very specific rules also dictate the production methods of Chianti Classico! The use of the so-called “Governo” of the League of Chianti, makes Chianti different from any other wine in Italy. The method involves the inducement of a second fermentation, after the wine has been racked, through the addition of a certain quantity of must pressed from selected, semi-dried grapes. There are also regulations that determine what specific color, odor and flavor the wine must meet, and prohibits the beginning of harvest before September 29th (the feast of St. Michael).

2003 had a summer of scorching heat and drought-like conditions created a “highly structured wine with great potential for ageing.” Rated 88 points this is a big, lively red with vibrant fruit, some cigar box, elegant, deep, well-balanced finish. A deep ruby color is followed by intense aromas of black cherries, earth, and cedar. In the palate, there is excellent concentration, spicy, medium-bodied ripeness and richness.

2003 Di Majo Norante, Molise Sangiovese (IGT)

The Di Majo Norante winery is located to the north of the Gargano in Molise on the estate of the Marquis Norante of Santa Cristina. This estate has been dedicated to the cultivation of vines since the 1800s. In the 1960s a modern cantina was constructed and vines were replanted in the Ramitello zone. Optimal exposure, constant breezes during the summer, excellent soil composition and a slope toward the Sciabolone and Madonna Grande valleys, blend together to create a particularly favorable environment for the production of wine. Alessio di Majo and enologist, Riccardo Cotarella make wines from organically grown grapes.

Made from 100% Sangiovese. The first vintage was bottled in 1972, and 200,000 bottles are produced annually. The sangiovese is grown in the Sciabolone and Martarosa vineyards, located 165-328 ft. above sea level, with Southwestern exposure and a clayey, calcareous soil composition. Vineyard characteristics: 30 & 15 acres planted in 1970-1972 with a density of 1,500 vines per acre. The vines are planted in the Pergola method and yield 5 tons per acre. The harvest was carried out in late October/November.

Analytical Data
Length of Maceration: 10-15 days
Fermented in stainless steel tanks at 60-71 degrees for 8/10 days.
Aging Container Type: Large oak barrels
The wine is aged for 6 months followed by an additional 6 months in bottle prior to release from the winery.
Total Acidity: 5.50 gram(s) per liter pH: 3.65
Dry Extract: 34.80 gram(s) per liter
Alcohol Content: 13 % alc. by volume
Residual Sugars: 2 gram(s) per liter

Straight sangiovese is one of my personal favorites and this nascent one did not disappoint. the look was a deep, dark, and consistent purple-ruby. On the nose was big strawberry fruit with earthy leather, tobacco, and even mineral musts. It was both fresh and fruity with light strawberry and an interesting mineral character. It is smooth and refreshing on the palate with loads of ripe fruit. Great feel, I ike mine big, and flavors of plum, blackberry, and spice. With good balanced tannins and a clean yet lasting finish, this is a drink-me-now kind of red.

2003 Feudo Monaci, Salice Salentino (DOC)

Feudo Monaci ('Fief Monks'), located in the Salice Salentino DOC of Puglia, Italy, is a winery dating back to 1480. The majority of the vineyards is comprised of Primitivo, Negroamaro, and Malvasia Nera, and benefits from an ideal viticultural environment. Vines are grown high off the ground in calcareous, clay, siliceous, and dry soils. Grapes are harvested in the early morning hours (dawn till 9am) during the end of August or the beginning of September, immediately crushed and fermented at 25-27ºC for 10 days. After racking and malolactic fermentation, the wine is fined and stored in stainless steel until March, then bottled.

It is 80% Negroamaro and 20% Malvasia Nera without a trace of Primitivo. Ruby red plums and lusty black fruit create that great fruit nose. The palate intense and warm, with musty earthy, controlled oak, and slightly chewey tannin across the palate. It lingers for a smooth, full, and harmonious finish. Malvasia’s floral character lightens up Negroarmaro’s “black & bitter” earthy, dried plum flavors.

2003 Zenato - Veneto, Pinot Grigio delle Venezie (IGT)

Fratelli Zenato is a third generation family owned vineyard and winery in the heart of the Lugana DOC district on the southern slopes of Lago di Garda. The microclimate of the area is very unique. Almost totally surrounded by mountains, the vineyards are protected from the cold Alpine winds, while benefiting from the warm winds of the Po valley. The lake itself moderates temperatures & creates a soothing fog that shields young vines from the morning sun. Sergio Zenato, the winemaker, is meticulous in his selection of grapes and methods of vinification. The Zenato estate has received many accolades for their efforts to raise the quality of the region.

Made from 90% Pinot Grigio and a small percentage of other local varieties. The first vintage was bottled in 1979, and 500,000 bottles are produced annually. "A wine to be enjoyed while it is young and shows the freshest fruit. Refreshing and soft with a smooth, dry finish. Pale yellow in color with greenish highlights. Very balanced and harmonious." Production area: unspecified vineyards - located 328-656 ft. above sea level, with southeastern exposure and a clay-like, chalky, gravelly soil composition. Vineyard characteristics: 94 acres planted in varied years with a density of 1,416 vines per acre. The vines are pruned in the Guyot method and yield 6 tons per acre. The harvest was carried out in August 30-September 10

Length of Maceration: 0 days
Fermented in stainless steel at 62-70 degrees for 15-20 days.
Malolactic fermentation is partially carried out
Aging Container Type: stainless steel
The wine is aged for 4 months followed by an additional a few months in bottle prior to release from the winery.

The wine is clear and bright with a fairly intense straw yellow-green color. The nose was slightly muted with good fruit, citrus, and melon. I noticed hints of grass, vanilla, minerals, and olive,(one of my favorite scents). There was good fruit on the tongue and an unexpected and uncharachteristic slightly buttery vanilla. The taste ended in a dry finish though.

Analytical Data
Total Acidity: 5.20 gram(s) per liter pH: 3.42
Dry Extract: 19.8 gram(s) per liter
Alcohol Content: 12 % alc. by volume
Residual Sugars: 4.00 gram(s) per liter

2004 Fair Valley Sauvignon Blanc

Harvested at 21.5 – 22º B from various vineyards within the Coastal Region appellation (Paarl & Malmesbury), from low-yielding, mostly non-irrigated bush vines. The bunches are destalked, crushed, and pre-cooled. Skin contact for 6 hours. Pressed and settled. Fermented in stainless steel at 13º C until completed. Lees contact, and lees stirring weekly until blending.

alcohol 13.18% by volume
total acidity 6.0 g/l
pH 3.15
residual sugar 2.2 g/l

PRODUCTION 8,600 (12x750ml.) cases

Pale straw in color, made in a fresh, fruit driven style, with crisp acidity and good length. It displays ripe apple aromas and a light to medium-bodied, simple yet the fun personality of a classic sauvignon. Lively, smile-inducing and fresh, it offers flavors reminiscent of crisp apples and citrus fruits.

2004 Fair Valley PINOTAGE

Pinotage is a varietal that originated in South Africa, created in 1925 as a hybrid of Pinot Noir and what was originally thought to be Hermitage, but was later discovered to be Cinsaut. The varietal is extensively grown in South Africa, with small amounts in California and New Zealand. Made from Pinotage vines grown in the Agter Paarl region. These unirrigated bush vines provide the ripe, rich concentrated flavor. The grapes are hand picked at full fruit ripeness. After destalking and gentle crushing, the grapes fermented in stainless steel tanks at ±25 ºC, and then were pressed once dry. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation in tank, and later lightly oaked in a mixture of older French and American oak barrels, and the components blended prior to bottling.

alcohol 14.19% by volume
total acidity 5.3 g/l,
pH 3.52
residual sugar 2.1 g/l

PRODUCTION 8,300 (12x750ml.) cases

This was my first South African Pinotage. I found it vibrant purple red in color offering spicy black fruit, with ripe soft tannins and big fruit. It’s lightly oaked to ensure a full flavored, fruit packed, dense Pinotage.

2004 Lulu B Chardonnay

The Chardonnay vineyards are near Limoux, in the western Languedoc; the foothills of the Pyrenees and not far from the Mediterranean. It is an up and coming region known for barrel-fermented still Chardonnay. After a six-hour cold pre-fermentation maceration, vinification took place in stainless steel tanks. The temperature of the fermentation was rigorously controlled and the wine did not undergo malolactic fermentation. 15% of the wine was aged in oak barrels for a creamy finish and full.

The color is bright gold; the bouquet is warm and inviting. It has hints of citrus and gains in complexity to reveal notes of honey and croissants. It is both rich and fresh and with a long, generous finish and a taste of fruit that never ends. Less fat than a typical chardonnay.

2004 Lulu B Pinot Noir

This Pinot Noir from vineyards near Limoux – right near the Chardonnay vineyards. As Burgundy will attest Pinot and Chardonnay often like the same terroir! Vinification took place in stainless steel vats and small wooden barrels. After a five-day cold maceration, the alcoholic fermentation was followed by daily cap-punching. The length of the maceration was determined by regular tasting of the grape must. 30% of the blend was aged in oak.

This Pinot has a red brick color and quite a powerful bouquet with good cherry and a hint of truffle. It also has silky tannins that lead to cherry pit and ripe raspberry flavors with a long finish. It need something (more oak) the fatten the middle and round the edges.

2004 Lulu B Syrah

The vineyards are in the Minervois region, the northernmost region of the Languedoc and only 18 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. An initial five-day cold pre-fermentation prior to the alcoholic fermentation helped to extract the red berry aromas that are carefully conserved until bottling. 30% of the wine was aged in oak for six months, adding firm tannins and delicious vanilla aromas.

It is an interesting wine with complex flavors and soft tannins. It also has a good balance between rich spice flavors and hints of violets. I didn't know what to expect from a Languedoc Syrah, and this one was unexpected.

2004 Valle Reale, Abruzzo Montepulciano (DOC)

Valle Reale is a territory that seems predestined for wine. At 1,000 feet above sea level the geological characteristics and ambient beauty are unique in these vineyards that are set in one of Italy's most beautiful national parks. There is an abundance of water, proximity to the sea, the benefits of a maritime climate, ample sunshine and mineral rich soils. The Pizzolo family together with Leonardo Valenti have striven to produce a model of central Italian wine: strength, exuberance, vitality, Mediterranean color, elegance, balance, and depth. They are working exclusively with the Montepulciano varietal and seek to set a new benchmark for Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.

Made from 100% Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. The first vintage was bottled in 2000, and 25,000 bottles are produced annually. A total of 147 acres, located 1000 ft. above sea level, with southwestern exposure and a mixed clay, chalk and rock soil composition, were planted in 1999. With a density of 3,000 vines per acre, the vines are planted in the low spur pruned cordon method and yield 3.2 tons per acre. The harvest was carried out in the first two weeks of October

Fermented in stainless steel tanks at 86 degrees for 7 days.
Malolactic fermentation is totally carried out
Aging Container Type: 2-3 year old French Barrique Medium.
The wine is aged for twelve to fifteen months followed by an additional 1 year in bottle prior to release from the winery.

Analytical Data
Total Acidity: 6 gram(s) per liter pH: 3.34
Dry Extract: 28 gram(s) per liter
Alcohol Content: 13 % alc. by volume
Residual Sugars: 2 gram(s) per liter
So2: 70 milligrams per liter

This Valle Reale introduced me to a new breed of Montepulciano. The color was an intense inky-ruby with a muted fruit nose. I did enjoy the earthy and leathery musts. I enjoyed the concentrated and silky tannins and muted dark berry fruit, and astringent finish.. A fragrant, supple-textured, firm, serious Italian red: it can be consumed young."

NV, Duck Walk Vineyards, “Gatsby Red” Demi-Sec

This is an interesting wine that I sampled at the vineyard and thought might provide a nice summer alternative to a light Pinot. Although the winery is on south fork of Long Island, the fruit was sourced from the north fork and is a Bordeaux blend about as far from Bordeaux as possible. What makes this wine so interesting is plum cherry and spice I drank it chilled.

NV, Hamacher Wines, Willamette Valley, Chardonnay

Since Pinot Noir grows so well in Oregon, it only makes sense that the other famous Burgundian variety, Chardonnay, should also thrive here. First plantings came from Eyrie Vineyards in the late 1960 and now Chardonnay is the most widely planted white grape in Oregon. A crisper more old world style is produced here, versus the rich, buttery and oaky new world style one is used to from California.

Medium straw color, very light nose of melon & dare I say, cat piss ? Flavors of pear, lime, green apple, baking spice and oak. Crisp, with a hard acidic backbone, makes this a nice blend between old world and new world style. Long, impressive finish.

NV Manzanilla “La Guita” Sanlucar de Barrameda, Sherry

Sanlucar de Barrameda is located in southern Spain in the “Sherry producing” area of the country. Manzanilla is produced using the Solera system that allows the wine to oxidize and also lend with older vintages.

Pretty, gold straw hue. A slight nutty and oxidized nose, with Italian herb, olive, & flint notes. This is a bone-dry wine with a light body, good balance and firm acidity. The finish is of medium length.

NV Hutcheson, Feuerheerd, & Associados, Porto Rocha, 10 Year Old Port

This wine was produced in the Douro region of Portugal, and matured in wood for 10 years. The name of the producer suggest a collaboration between a British merchant and a Portuguese wine maker, which would be fitting, since the British were the biggest Port market for the Spanish, once the French Bordeaux market was embargoed in the 100 Years War.

Beautiful, clear, clean and inviting garnet / amber color. This tawny port has a nice mellow oxidized feel that is laced with orange, bitter chocolate, oak, and cassis flavors. The wine is very well balanced, and perfectly aged, so that it is a great accompaniment to stronger cheeses. The finish is super long and pleasant, retaining all of the flavors well after the last sip.

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