January 2013 Wine Club Selections

January 2013                                                                     Oconee Wine Club Selections

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a happy and safe Holiday Season and I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!  We are going to start this year out with two wonderful new wines by a French producer Michel Chapoutier.  If the Chapoutier name looks familiar it is because I did the Cotes Du Rhone by Chapoutier back in October of 2012.  We are especially excited about these wines because the red made the Wine Spectator top 100 for 2012 and was rated 90!

Domaine de Bila-Haut The Roussillon history is complex and compelling, and has at times been quite violent. Terraces on stony soil, with a rich geological background and a climate that man has adopted for his crops. The Roussillon was bound to attract Michel Chapoutier’s attention. He decided to locate his domain at Latour de France. Black and brown schist to give the wine a solar touch. Gneiss for minerality and freshness. Combination of Limestone and chalk for strength and balance. Three varieties of grapes grow on the land covered by Domaine de BILA-HAUT. Syrah, with its savage aromas of scrub and spice. Grenache, so full of surprises. And Carignan, for mineral wines with crispy tannic notes. The “Vignes de BILA-HAUT” and the “Domaine de BILA-HAUT Occultum Lapidem” are the main expressions of this region.

The white wine from Chapoutier that we chose this month is the Bila-Haut Cotes Du Roussillon 2011.  It is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Macabeu.   A part of the grapes comes from limestone and clay soils in the Agly Valley; the other part from granite soils at higher altitude (500m, later ripening sites).    Grapes are hand-harvested.  After pressing, the must is cold-settled. Vinification is performed in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.   Ageing lasts a few months in order to keep all the freshness and enhance the minerality.     COLOUR : pale yellow colour with green tints. NOSE : the wine exhibits citrus aromas (lemon, grapefruit) with smoky notes. MOUTH : fresh and very aromatic attack. The palate is round, with a great acidity (coming from the later ripening sites at higher altitude). A lot of freshness on the finish mixed with salty notes, which express the minerality of the wine.   This wine will go with a wide variety of foods.  Try it with shellfish or any light chicken or port dishes.   Retail $14.99

The reds made by Chapoutier in the Roussillon area come from grenache grapes from 70 year old vines, grown on a magnificent plot in the heart of the ‘Garrigue’ scrubland. Enthusiasm, richness and complexity. Then Syrah grapes, ripened slowly on vines grown on clayey limestone soil giving powerful, silky-smooth tannins, and blended with Syrah grapes grown on the company’s most beautiful schist based land. An elegant bouquet and a sophisticated flavour in the mouth. Also exceptional because it is bold, like the people who gave this land its identity.

 

This wine was #38 in the Wine Spectator Top 100 wines for 2012 and was rated 90!

The Chapoutier Bila-Haut Cotes Du Roussillon Villages is a blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignan.  The plots are located on the slopes of the high Agly Valley. They are composed of gneiss and schist from the Devonian Period.   The crop is hand-harvested.        Entirely destemmed. The extraction is only performed by punching of the cap. The maceration lasts from 2 to 4 weeks according to daily tastings.    The wine is aged in vats.  COLOUR : deep garnet red. NOSE : aromas of black cherry. MOUTH : this wine is fleshy, well-structured with the warm and savage of soils of the Roussillon area. To drink within 2 years.  Also a great versatile food wine, it pairs well with almost any red meat dish or a spicy pasta with tomato sauce.  $14.99 Retail

Connoisseur Club Selections

This month I chose two wines from one of the greatest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay producers in all of California called Calera.  Josh Jensen’s winemaker mentors in Burgundy were adamant that pinot noir and chardonnay must be grown in limestone-rich soils, as present in the Côtes d’Or, to make great wines. Upon his return from France in 1971 he spent two years searching throughout California to find limestone before finally purchasing, in early 1974, a high-elevation parcel with a limestone deposit of several million tons.

Located 90 miles south of San Francisco and about 25 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, it is near Mt. Harlan in San Benito County. Its elevation is 2,200 feet above sea level, making it one of the highest and coolest vineyard properties in California.

In 1975, Josh planted his first 24 acres of pinot noir in three separate parcels. In the Burgundian tradition, he named each parcel individually to emphasize the fact that each would produce a distinct wine. The original plantings are the Selleck Vineyard (5 acres), Reed Vineyard (5 acres), and Jensen Vineyard (14 acres). These vineyards produced their initial tiny crop in 1978.
Josh purchased a neighboring 300 acres of the limestone laden mountain in 1982. When he planted 2 acres of viognier on its slopes in 1983, he was one of California’s first winemakers to explore this variety.
In 1984, on these same slopes, Josh planted his first [chardonnay] vineyard (6 acres) and his fourth pinot noir parcel, the Mills Vineyard (12 acres). In 1989 he added 3 more acres of viognier.
A 13 acre parcel of pinot noir was planted in 1997, in a steep field that lies between the Jensen and Mills Vineyards. In 2007 the vineyard was name de Villiers and for the first time labeled as a single vineyard pinot noir. In 1998 5 acres of chardonnay and 10 acres of pinot noir, were planted on the south western slopes of the limestone peak. The pinot noir vineyard was dubbed the Ryan Vineyard. The vineyards are further explored in Vineyards.
Calera is also one of the original producers of Aligote in California. Approximately half an acre total is in production between locations in the Jensen and original chardonnay vineyards

Calera Chardonnay 2011 Mt. Harlan

Honeycomb and citrus zest, sandalwood, wild rose and jasmine; such a beautiful bouquet emanate from this 2011 Mt Harlan Chardonnay. Flavors of soft French oak, limestone minerality and sweet cigar accent Pippin apple, pear and crème brulée. Smooth and silky on the palate and lush like vanilla caramel. This wine is tight in its youth, hinting to a long life ahead. This is a great wine to sip on it’s own and enjoy.  $ 29.99

Calera Central Coast Pinot 2011

Plum, pomegranate, pink rose petal, boysenberry and the slightest hint of watermelon candy dance from this 2011 Central Coast Pinot Noir. It’s full of boysenberry and spicy cherries jubilee character with nice brightness and delightful flavors of black raspberry and sweet oak. A bit of tartness accents the soft, flowing texture and lively finish.  Pair this Pinot with some grilled salmon and enjoy.  $ 24.99 Retail

December 2012 Wine Club Selections

December 2012

Oconee Wine Club Selections

[blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”left” ]The most obvious question with respect to X Winery and proprietor Reed Renaudin is how can these wines be this good at these prices? Everyone is looking for good values today, and here are some exceptional bargains” – Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate [/blockquote]

X Winery’s Reed Renaudin creates innovative blends you won’t find in any rulebook – because people don’t drink rules. They drink wines. Reed explores possibilities more traditional winemakers never consider because he follows only one rule: Make wines people love to drink.Curious? So is Parker…

The X Winery 2009 Red X is a blend of 52% Syrah, 19% Mourvedre, 17% Zinfandel, and 12 % Grenache.  The 2009 Red X is a gorgeous, fleshy wine. Dark red fruit, flowers, licorice and tobacco are some of the notes that flow from this effortless, gracious red. This is another screaming value from Reed Renaudin. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2015.  Retail $ 15.99

The X Winery 2010 White X is a blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc, 18% Chardonnay, 16% Riesling, 11% Malvasia Bianca.  It reveals gorgeous inner perfume and a soft personality. The Riesling and Malvasia Bianca come through in the wine’s floral, spiced and tropical fruit notes. This is a lovely bottle, especially for the money. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2015.              Retail $ 15.99

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X Winery Timeline


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Connoiseurs Club

Captûre Wines was created and inspired by the estate vineyard, which rises nearly 2,500 feet above the Alexander Valley floor in Sonoma County. The owners share a vision of crafting a portfolio of world-class, Bordeaux-style wines.  Captûre Wines represents the marriage of time-honored Bordeaux winemaking with the intense fruit character of an organically farmed mountain estate, Tin Cross Vineyards. Renowned winemaking team May-Britt and Denis Malbec, formerly of Château Latour in Bordeaux, create these wines to bring out the rich personality of the terroir. The resulting wines are elegant expressions of depth, nuance and longevity.

The Capture Traditions Sauvignon Blanc 2010 showcase the wineries commitment to mountain wine-growing, reflecting the gravelly, well-drained soils in its profile. Tradition exhibits a floral bouquet of star fruit, gooseberries and lemongrass, with hints of pink grapefruit and Key lime. Aged sur-lie in stainless steel tanks, Tradition’s mouth-feel is fresh, crisp and still fruit forward, with a nice creamy structure.  Rated 88 by Robert Parker!

$ 25.99

The red for this month is the Fleuron Red Wine Alexander Valley 2008.  Capture’s second label, Fleuron’s 2008 Red Wine is a blend of 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot. The fruit for Fleuron’s Tin Cross Vineyards Red Wine is grown at an elevation of more than 1,600 feet above the Alexander Valley. Aromas of black currant and juicy black cherries are followed by notes of cedar and pencil shavings. The wine is medium to full bodied, with silky tannins and a long multi-layered finish.   Only 398 cases where made of this great California Red.  $ 32.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

November Wine Club Selections are in!

November 2012 Wine Club Selections

Oconee Wine Club

This month I chose two wines from a winery called Simple Life.  What a a perfect name for living here at Lake Oconee.  Simple life is a brand owned by Don Sebastiani & Sons.  The top quality of these wines really surprised me.  They are both very well balanced and will pair with a wide variety of foods and would make great wines to serve at your Holiday parties.

The Simple Life Chardonnay opens with aromas of honeysuckle, wisteria blossom, and a touch of white peach. With its intriguing blend of Asian Pear and Stone Fruit flavors, this medium-bodied wine is fresh and creamy in the middle finishing crisp and bright, with lingering notes of red apple.

This wine displays exceptional balance. Eight months of aging in both French and American oak has provided structure and depth, while a touch of Viognier has lent a distinctive peach aroma and stone fruit flavors to this refreshing Chardonnay.  Serve with grilled prawns and a fresh Summer salad.  The bouquet of the 2011 Chardonnay is rich and fruit forward with orange marmalade, guava and apricot enhanced by toasted buttery notes. Ripe citrus and tropical fruit flavors of papaya, Lychee fruit, nectarine and lemon curd stimulate the palate rounded out with just a touch of oak.  Medium-bodied in structure it has bright clean acidity and a nice crisp finish. Try pairing this wine with richer fare such as shellfish risotto or chicken Marsala.

APPELLATION

This wine was crafted primarily from grapes sourced from the Lodi and Clarksburg AVA’s just south of Sacramento. The Lodi AVA is located in California’s Central Valley, at the northern edge of the San Joaquin Valley east of San Francisco Bay. Lodi’s Wine Country has a climate that is cooled by winds and fog from the San Francisco Bay. Because of a break in the Coastal Mountain Range to the west, Lodi wineries enjoy a more moderate climate than many other regions. Lodi’s terrain is composed of well-drained, mineral-rich soils. These soils have the rare ability to produce excellent quality grapes despite relatively high yields. The nearby Clarksburg AVA is an up and coming wine region located in California’s Sacramento Delta. Originally known for row crops like the Sugar Beet, the area was quickly discovered by grape growers attracted by a microclimate which closely mirrored that of nearby Napa Valley. The soils here are a combination of poorly-draining clay and rich loam, meaning vines experience nutrient-rich, yet sometimes arid conditions. During the growing season, warm days give way to cooling afternoon breezes from the San Francisco Bay, dropping temperatures down 30 to 40°F from their daytime highs.  This mass of cool air allows wine grapes to retain more acidity than those grown in similarly warm regions.   $ 13.99

The red for this month is the Simple Life Pinot Noir 2010.  This wine opens with rich, earthy aromas of cherry, wild strawberry, and forest floor. The flavors—an appealing blend of strawberry rhubarb and red raspberries—are bright and fruit-forward, finishing with lingering notes of clove and cranberry. Moderately structured, the wine’s tannins and acidity are finely balanced to create a vibrant, juicy mouthfeel.

Crafted almost entirely from the Merwin Vineyard in Clarksburg, the Pinot Noir used for this wine is primarily derived from the Pommard clone, known for its pure dark fruit flavor. The addition of five percent Merlot from the nearby Wilson Vineyard, adds a touch of weight and structure to the finished wine.

Highly versatile, this wine may be served with anything from barbecue chicken wings and baked beans to stuffed mushrooms.  This wine’s vibrant red color gives way to rich, earthy notes of cherry and pomegranate with forest floor nuances. Bright strawberry rhubarb and cranberry flavors are front and center giving way to a finish that hints of purple sage and cedar. Fresh acidity balanced by a hint of tannin creates an appealing, juicy mouthfeel. The moderate structure draws out the lingering finish and will pair nicely with a wide array of foods.  A touch of Lodi Syrah is added for color and structure, and a touch of Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir for increased complexity. Pulled pork sliders and a grilled corn salad would make a great match for this fresh Pinot Noir.  Retail $13.99

Connoisseur Club Selections

Laird Chardonnay 2009 Cold Creek

This single vineyard Chardonnay is a blend of two of our favorite clones from our vineyard in Sonoma. This is our most popular Chardonnay; mainstream, yet exhibiting exotic and tropical fruits.  If you are a Rombauer fan, you love this gem!

Production: 1500 cases

Vineyard: 100% Cold Creek Ranch

Appellation: Carneros

Varietal: 100% Chardonnay

Winemaking Style: 100% malolactic fermentation, 10 months in French oak, 55% new barrels

This smooth and rich Chardonnay exhibits a color of gold and aromas of apples, pears and toast. Melon notes, along with pineapple, ripe apples, vanilla and brown sugar fill out a full, juicy palate. Hints of minerality and limestone linger on the finish.  Retail $ 29.99

2010 Thea’s Selection Pinot noir Willamette Valley – 90 Rated by Tanzer!
Thea’s Selection is the measuring stick of our success as growers and winemakers.  A blend from blocks in each of our vineyards,  Thea’s expresses the vintage, our intentions and our efforts perhaps more than any other.  The earthy nose of the 2010 Thea’s tends towards plum and black cherry rather than darker fruits, while expressing fennel and spice in a lovely, delicate way.  The wine’s medium body centers around intense raspberry, black cherry and resonant spice that leads to a long, vibrant finish.  We are pleased with the textural silk and finesse of this wine and think it will be one of the most ageworthy Thea’s in a number of vintages.  Retail $29.99

 

October Wine Club Selections 2012

The Oconee Wine Club Selections            October 2012

This month I chose two wines from one of my favorite French wineries located in the Rhone Valley.  Since 1808, the name Chapoutier exists in the Rhone Valley.  The distant ancestor Polydor Chapoutier started the first vineyards to buy from and the status of a vineyard area than grower, breeder and wine merchant.

The Côtes du Rhône is one of the oldest in France.  There are more than two millennia, Vienna was a prestigious big city and was the origin of these vineyards.  The reputation of the wines far beyond the borders of each region, a royal edict Precisa this delimitation in 1729 and established the barrel marking with the letters “CDR”.  Côtes du Rhône acceded to the official recognition of the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine) in 1937 only thanks to Baron Le Roy Boiseaumarié, grand unifying the regionThe Côtes du Rhône is one of the oldest in France.

The white for this month is the M. Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes-Du-Rhone Blanc 2011.   This is one of my favorite everyday French whites.  It is a blend of  Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Bourboulenc.  The soils are mainly clay and limestone.  The grapes are pressed immediately on their arrival at the winery. The racking is done by cold stalling after 24 hours.  Light yellow and clear.  NOSE: green apple, hawthorn and white flowers, citrus and exotic fruits. Palate: Fresh and balanced, a lot of fat and length.  Retail $ 12.99

The red for this month is the M. Chapoutier La Ciboise Luberon 2009.  The Luberon Regional Park serves as a backdrop to the vineyards of Luberon.  In fact, this one covers 36 communes, all located in the south-east of Vaucluse.  Mediterranean with the influence of a more continental climate from the Alps and the Rhone Valley.  With about 2600 hours of sunshine per year, is among the Luberon region of France with the best insolation. The Romans planted these vines in fact especially in the Pays d’Aigues and the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, wineries spread widely, especially north of the Petit Luberon.  The development of the vineyard grows in the late nineteenth century and the interwar period. From the 70s, winemakers in the appellation, aware of the need to modernize, undertake important work. Their efforts were crowned with success in 1988 with the accession of the Côtes du Luberon AOC.  This great red is a blend of Grenache Noir and Syrah.  The wine is aged in vats, from 9 to 12 months on the lees.

Color: red, garnet, bright, clear with purple tints. Nose: complex finish with hints of spices (nutmeg, pepper) and black fruits. Mouth: the attack is frank with tight tannins. Nice balance on the palate with notes of black fruits (blueberry, blackberry, blackcurrant). This wine is very elegant with great finesse and a long persistence.  Retail $ 15.99

Connoisseurs Club Selections

Check out this video if you want to learn more about Round Pond Estate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HsChgKShw_w

The Round Pond Estate is situated in the heart of Rutherford, California, an appellation that has been famous for its world-class red wines for more than a century. The property spans 357 acres of planted vineyards, including the Red Barn Ranch, Hill’s, Round Pond and MacDonnell vineyards. To maintain the integrity of the land and to ensure its continuing bounty for generations to come, we use only sustainable farming practices in our viticulture program. Round Pond’s soils are extremely fertile due to deposits from alluvial outflows of the Conn Creek and Napa River that took place thousands of year ago. As a result, vine health is exceptional, and the vines grow vigorously in this unique appellation. To maintain vine balance and reduce yields – both key factors for quality – we limit each vine to two clusters per shoot, making certain that no two clusters even touch one another. In addition, we carefully work the canopy to establish a good ratio of sunlight to shade. To further control vine vigor we utilize advanced technology to monitor hydration levels in the soil. When they are within days of harvesting, our skilled vineyard workers (some of whom have almost 30 years of experience at Round Pond) hand inspect each vine to discard bad berries, or even entire clusters. As a result, when the fruit is finally picked it represents a meticulous selection of only the finest grapes.

The Round Pond Estate Cabernet 2010 is ideal for weekday meals, this wine makes its intentions known with aromas of cherry cola and grilled dark fruit complemented by savory yet subtle sage, cloves, and dried lavender.   The bouquet prepares the palate for a complex marriage of fruits, warm herbs and spices, and plush velvety tannins, all perched atop mouth-watering acidity.  Depth and approachability propel this wine to the top of the list when looking for something to accompany a wide variety of fare.  Retail $ 29.99
The white is the Round Pond Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011.  This wine is a pure expression of the fruit without any influence from oak cooperage.  The wine is made to drink early and will show its best on a summer day.   This classic Sauvignon Blanc shows an aroma profile with a bouquet of citrus blossoms, jasmine, and key limes.  As the wine evolves, the wine bursts forth in the mouth, delivering everything the nose promised with additional flavors of crisp white peach and fresh ripe apricots. Rated 89 by Wine Spectator!
Retail  $23.99
89 Points from Wine Spectator – “17 California Values: New reviews of refreshing Sauvignon Blancs priced under $25”.

September Wine Club 2012

September 2012                                   

The Oconee Wine Club

We hope everyone enjoyed the two Portuguese wines from last month.  There was a lot of great response on the red wine so far.  Please comment to this blog with your thoughts on past wines, present, or future selections you would like to receive.

This month I chose two wines from a new up and coming winery called Vina Robles located in Paso Robles California.  Here, proprietor Hans Nef and managing partner Hans – R. Michel bring their Swiss heritage to California’s Central Coast, where they aim to unite the best of both experiences.  “I want Vina Robles to express a unique balance of European heritage and American opportunity. As individuals, we are rooted in the Old World. As winemakers, we are empowered by the New World. But both worlds bring value to what we do, and we endeavor to capture this distinction in our wines.” -Proprietor Hans Nef 

They first discovered Paso Robles in the early 1980s and became enamored with this emerging wine country. Along golden slopes, where the Pacific coastline unfolds into rugged ranchlands and cowboy ambiance, a new generation of California winemakers was turning Paso Robles into one of the world’s most dynamic winegrowing regions.

In the mid 1990s they planted our first estate vineyard and established Vina Robles as a family winery specializing in varieties that excel in the region’s diverse terroir. The vision for Vina Robles is summed up by our motto: European Inspiration – California Character.

Here, the growing season is distinguished by a reciprocating climate of warm inland afternoons and cool marine-moderated evenings. Temperature swings of 50 degrees are not unusual during the summer months. Such conditions are optimal for Rhône and Bordeaux varietals, among others.

The red wines for this month is the Vina Robles Red 4.  The Power of 4 — this Paso blend is more delicious than the sum of its parts. It combines grapes from our prestigious Huerhuero Vineyard, located in the rolling hills of Paso Robles, where warm afternoons and cool evening breezes guide the grapes to perfect ripeness. Vina Robles’ RED4 blend showcases the structure of Petite Sirah, the forward fruit of Grenache, the spice and cherry qualities of Syrah, and the rustic character of Mourvèdre. An intriguing, youthful wine; your perfect dinner companion.

  • Color:Dark cherry
  • Aroma: Dark fruit and dried prunes with notes of clove and allspice
  • Taste: Opens with juicy ripe fruit, hints of oak and spice; medium bodied with elegant tannins and a long
  • Food Pairings: Leg of lamb braised with garlic and thyme

Santa Maria style BBQ tri-tip or dry rubbed BBQ baby back ribs

Pasta with fire roasted tomato sauce and grilled chicken

The white for this month is the Vina Robles Sauvignon Blanc 2010.  They source this Sauvignon Blanc fruit from a small lot on our Jardine Vineyard. Sauvignon Blanc heralds the beginning of the harvest in late August to early September. The fruit is hand picked in the cool morning hours and immediately delivered to the winery. The membrane press we use to process the fruit leaves a very low level of solids in the resulting juice and therefore preserves more of the varietal characteristics and acidity in the finished wine. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to preserve the aromatics of the variety. Following fermentation the wine is transferred into smaller tanks for four months and lees stirring takes place to soften the wine and increase mouthfeel and texture. This Jardine Sauvignon Blanc did not undergo malolactic fermentation to preserve the fresh, crisp finish.

Color: Brilliant straw with green hues

  • Aroma: Green apple, white peach with notes of minerality
  • Taste: A medium bodied, smooth wine balanced with fresh acidity and a lingering clean finish

88 Points – Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, Nov/Dec 2011

  • Silver Medal – Central Coast Wine Competition 2011
  • 95 Points, Gold Medal – CA State Fair Wine Competition 2011
  • 87 Points – Wine Enthusiast, May 2011

click on this link to see this wine showcased on TV! http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/43265361#43265361

Excellent as an aperitif and with hors d’oeuvres, light appetizers or tapas

  • Fresh shucked oysters with a soy-wasabi dip
  • Seared scallops with a mango or papaya salsa

Connoisseurs Club

Both of these gems come from an northern Italian producer called Ceretto.  For most, Ceretto is predominantly recognized for its extraordinary red (and white) wines, estate vineyards, exceptional quality, unique and architecturally modern wineries, and design.

The family DNA is engraved with the constant pursuit of excellence.  In fact, over the last 20 years, they have extended their interests beyond the production of fine wines to include other local products and activities such as hazelnuts, authentic traditions of Langa, the production of torrone, or nougat, haute cuisine, the selection of excellent cheeses, and the importation of a carefully selected group of foreign wineries.

The white for this month is the Ceretto Blange 2010.  Made from 100% Arneis grapes located in the Vezza d’Alba, Castellinaldo and Castagnito areas of Northern Italy.  The grapes are cold pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks.  The temperature is controlled via a centralized computer system, which guarantees a uniform development of the wine in its evolution, intervening directly on the biometabolism of the yeasts.

Arneis is a native varietal producing a very fruity wine with hints of pear and apple. Its fragrance and flavor are also enhanced by the small amount of CO2 maintained from the fermentation, which also helps to make up for the varietal’s typically low acidity.

The Arneis, among the first ventures undertaken by the Bruno and Marcello Ceretto, has just celebrated its 26th birthday.  This famous white, fruity with a bit of effervescence, is appreciated worldwide, its curious French-inspired name evoking an idea of elegance.  The name Blangé is derived from the word “boulanger,” or baker, from the French residing in the nearby village of Cherasco long ago.

This wine was rated 93 by Wine & Spirits Magazine!  Retail $ 19.99

The red for this month is the Ceretto Barolo 2006.  Made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes using floating-cap fermentation.  The fermentation process takes place in stainless steel tanks for 14 to 15 days.  After malolactic fermentation, the wine is transferred into 300 liter French oak barriques half of which are used just once and the other half are new for 12 months.  The wine is then transferred into smaller casks for another 12 months before it is bottled.

90 Rating by Robert Parker!

“The 2006 Barolo Zonchera is a pretty, somewhat ethereal wine laced with crushed flowers, berries, spices, minerals, all of which come together in a firm, classic style for this house. The 2006 is one of the finest recent vintages of the Zonchera I can remember tasting. It isn’t a huge wine, but the balance and the integration of the oak in particular are both first-rate. I would prefer to drink this relatively early as I am not sure there is enough fruit to support extended cellaring. Still, it is a fabulous effort from Ceretto in what has often been an underachieving bottling in the past. Well done. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2024. ”

Retail $ 44.99

 

 

 

August 2012 Wine Club Selections

August 2012

This month I chose two wines from Portugal.  I know what a lot of you are thinking.  I though all they made was Port in Portugal, but believe it or not they make some very nice red and white wines.  The red portuguese wine comes from a producer called Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal.   It is produced from Tougia Nacional grapes coming from the Lisboa region, which are completely destemmed and then undergo fermentation under controlled temperature.  Post-fermentative maceration takes place during 15-20 days.  It is bottled after ageing for 12 months in French Oak barrels.   The aroma is of ripe fruit with lots of floral notes.   It is smooth, young, elegant, and full bodied with a lively finish.  It is excellent with cheese and red meat.   This wine is ready to drink now or can be aged between 3-5 years.     

Retail $ 20.99

 

 

 

 

The white for this month also comes from the Companhia Agricola do Sanguinhal.  It is a blend of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Arinto.   The grapes, which must be fully matured, are hand-picked, fully destemmed, slightly crushed and immediately pressed in order to obtain a balanced and fruity must with a good acidity level.  The must undergoes a partial fermentation in French Oak barrels.  The wine is then aged for 6 months in steel vats.  The wine exhibits aromas of mature fruit along with vanilla from the wood.  It has nice acidity with forming a fresh and balanced whole.  This wine is very good with cheese, pasta and non fat fish.  Retail $ 15.99

Connoisseurs Club

Both wines this month come from the Truchard Winery located in the Carneros Region of Napa Valley.  Truchard Vineyards was established in 1974, when Tony and Jo Ann Truchard came to the Carneros region of the Napa Valley and purchased a 20 acre parcel of land. They transformed what was an abandoned prune orchard into a vineyard and began selling the fruit to a local winery. Through hard work and dedication they quickly developed a reputation as one of the outstanding vineyards in Carneros. Over the past 31 years the Truchard Estate Vineyard has grown to 400 acres, of which 270 acres are planted. The Truchards now sell grapes to more than 20 premiere Napa Valley wineries.

The Truchard Estate Vineyard is a series of hills and valleys, which contain a variety of soils: clay, shale, sandstone, volcanic rock and ash. The various combinations of terrain, geology, and marine-moderated temperatures provide unique winegrowing conditions. Currently the vineyard grows 10 different grape varieties, making it one of the most diverse estate vineyards in California.

In 1989, the Truchards began making wine for themselves using only their estate-grown fruit. An old barn on the property was converted into a winery; this barn became the symbol for Truchard Vineyards and adorns the top of the wine label. With the addition of a 10,500 square foot wine cave, the winery has become a beautiful, modern facility. The winery makes 11 different wines, producing a total of 16,000 cases per year.

The 2010 Chardonnay has concentrated aromas of green apple, pineapple, and honeysuckle; with hints of vanilla, nutmeg, and toasted oak.  The mouth is rich and creamy; filled with bright flavors of fresh pear, lemon, and lime.  Firm acidity provides a crisp finish of citrus, mineral, and spice.

Retail $ 27.99

 

 

 

 

The 2008 Cabernet has rich aromas of black cherry, raspberry, and cassis; with a hint of cedar and vanilla.  The mouth is filled with flavors of ripe plum, red currants, and berry jam.  Velvety tannins fill the palate and provide a lengthy finish of spice and red fruit. Retail $ 34.99

 

 

 

July 2012 Wine Club Selections

July 2012                                     The Oconee Wine Club

Organic and Sustainable is the theme for this months wine club selections!

This month I chose two wines from New Zealand that are perfectly suited for the extremely hot weather.  The red for this month is the Yealands Pinot Noir 2010.  Set between the steep foothills of the Marlborough’s Seaward Kaikoura Ranges and the windswept tides of Cook Strait, you will discover Yealands Estate Winery.  Led by legendary entrepreneur Peter Yealands, step by innovative step, he is creating the first fully sustainable winery in New Zealand.  The following are some of the ways Yealands in becoming a fully sustainable winery.

Use of sheep to graze between rows of vines to reduce the need for spraying and tractor-mowing • Wetland ponds capture rainfall for gradual release into soil • Sustainable Winegrowing Certification (SWINZ)

Winery

• Solar-reflective, high insulation cladding • Recovery and recycling of heat energy from refrigeration • Temperature monitoring throughout building • All winery tanks individually temperature-controlled • Motion sensors to control lighting • Solar panels and wind turbines • Rainwater harvesting from roof • On-site wastewater treatment and reuse • Composting of grape marc, leaves and stalks for vine mulch • Use of recycled glass and cardboard in packaging

Yealands 2010 Pinot Noir  $ 17.99

In the harsh growing conditions of the Awatere Valley, Marlborough these low yielding vines produce wines with an intense varietal character. Subjected to low rainfall, high sunshine, cool nights and strong winds, we’ve nurtured the fruit from our Seaview vineyard with low impact methods, right through production in our leading edge carboNZeroCertTM certified winery. This wine reflects their aim of becoming the most sustainable wine grower in the world, creating premium wines of intensity and purity, in complete harmony with the environment.

The Yealands Estate Pinot Noir 2010 shows lifted aromas of violets, red berries and spice. The palate is refined with plum notes and complemented by silky tannins and a long savoury finish.

The Infamous Goose Sauvignon Blanc 2011  $ 13.99

The source of Infamous Goose grapes is Marlborough’s Wairau River Valley, where stony, sandy loam topsoil covers deep layers of free-draining shingle. This low-fertility soil reduces vigor, yielding lush, aromatic, ripe fruit. The fruit is picked at optimal ripeness and destemmed and the free-run juice is cool-fermented in stainless steel tanks. Four months of aging on the lees, also in stainless steel tanks, provides body and complexity before blending, fining, filtering and bottling.

In general, a large harvest brought high-quality, well-balanced fruit. White wines have good natural acidity, especially for a warm year, where both flowering and the harvest occurred a bit earlier than usual. The characteristics of the 2011 vintage across New Zealand included warmth and ripeness, and along with these, good depth and balance.

The wine has fresh aromas of lime, nectarine and gooseberry. On the palate, white peach and citrus flavors with a hint of rosemary lead to a light body and fresh acidity before a crisp, clean finish.  This wine pairs with white fish, shellfish, salads and white meats.

 

 

 

The Connoisseur’s Club 

This month’s selections comes from Morgan Winery located in Salinas California.  In 1996, Dan and Donna Lee invested in their vision, purchasing and planting a 65 acre property in the northern end of the newly named, still not well known Santa Lucia Highlands AVA.  Of all of the places they could have selected to establish a new “Premier Cru” estate, this site was to prove most perfect.  Named the Double L (Double Luck, in honor of twin daughters), today this vineyard is one of the most famed winegrowing properties in California.  A living laboratory, the organically certified Double L Vineyard boasts 20 different clones on 8 different rootstocks.

The close proximity of Monterey Bay’s cold, deep waters influences everything we do.  Ocean fog provides a nighttime blanket for the vineyards.  In the afternoons, rising hot air in the warmer, southern end of the valley draws in cool breezes off the Bay.  The strong winds keep temperatures down and thicken grape skins, fostering intense flavor with balancing acidity.  Slow, gentle ripening lasts four to five weeks longer than most regions in California; lack of damaging harvest rains extends the crush safely into the fall.  The result is fully developed varietal character in every grape.  The Double L Vineyard slopes from 150 to 550 feet in elevation.  Average summertime temperatures are in the mid-70’s, with lows in the mid-50’s.

Organic and Sustainable Winegrowing

When Dan and Donna purchased the Double L Property, the soil was weak; it lacked nutrients and organic matter. Dan wanted to set himself apart from other winegrowers, so he chose to build-up the future vineyard soil organically. In 2001, Double L became the first and only Certified Organic property in the Santa Lucia Highlands. Monterey County Certified Organic, accredited by the USDA, certifies the Double L Vineyard as an organically farmed property.

The Santa Lucia Highlands is an ideal location for organic winegrowing. The strong winds and temperate climate are natural deterrents to many vineyard pests. The most prevalent threat is mildew, and there are a number of organic options which keep it in check.  Effective organic options are used to keep the vineyard soil alive and healthy. Four times each year, compost tea is applied through the drip lines in the vineyard which provide micronutrients and microbes for the soil.  Each fall, after harvest, a cover crop is planted. The mix of vetch, barley and peas works all winter adding nutrients, such as nitrogen, to the soil while protecting against run-off and maximizing water saturation. In the spring the cover crop is incorporated into the soil, adding essential organic material.

The Double L is also “Certified Sustainable” by the Central Coast Vineyard Team. “Sustainability” is a “big-picture” philosophy and practice,  taking into account every aspect of a vineyard’s operations:  social responsibility, clean water, energy conservation, and maintenance of existing habitats are just a few of its components.  The Double L is the only vineyard in the Highlands to achieve both Sustainable and Organic certifications

Morgan Chardonnay Highland Chardonnay 2010 $24.99

The grapes are hand picked and sorted in the vineyard. Whole cluster pressing preserves the fruit flavors and natural acidity. We barrel ferment the wine in 27% new French oak along with a combination of one & two year old and neutral barrels. Partial malo-lactic fermentation ensures the wine will have a creamy richness balanced by bright fruit acidity.

This focused, elegant Chardonnay’s aromas feature tangerine, nectarine & almond. On the palate, the rich flavors are complemented by a light touch of toasty oak and refreshing citrus with bright acidity. Incredibly food-friendly, the 2010 Highland Chardonnay is a perfect match with cream-sauced pastas, roast chicken and pork, and seafood.

 

 

Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir 2010  $ 29.99

The “Twelve Clones” Pinot Noir is drawn from the finest vineyards of the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation, including Morgan’s own organically farmed “Double L” estate – which, in the 2010 vintage, accounted for 56% of the final blend. The “Twelve Clones” designation denotes the original diverse Pinot plantings at the Double L, which is now comprised of fourteen clones. The vines here capture the warm morning sunshine from their elevated east facing terraces overlooking the Salinas River Valley. Strong afternoon winds and evening fog from nearby Monterey Bay create a cool Region I type climate. The resulting long growing season allows for gentle ripening, creating intense flavors with balanced acidity.

This special wine demonstrates the power and finesse of Pinot Noir from the Santa Lucia Highlands. It displays aromas of plum, dark chocolate and cola. Flavors of blackberry and cherry are complemented by notes of leather and black tea. Perfectly poised fruit/acid balance make this incredibly food-versatile. It is a wonderful accompaniment to roast chicken and grilled salmon, as well as almost any duck, beef or lamb. preparation.

 

Wine Tasting July 16th

Wine Tasting Monday July 16th a da Corrado’s

Next wine tasting at da Corrado’s is Monday July 16th!  Sign up early by bringing a check or cash for $25 per person to The Oconee Cellar.  We will taste wines from Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa!  The fun starts at 6:00 and is only open to the first 50 people to sign up.

June 2012 Wine Club Selections

June 2012                                     Oconee Wine Club Selections

Lyeth Estate, established by Chip Lyeth in 1981, was one of the first wineries in California to pursue the unique complexity and composition achieved by the marriage of Cabernet Sauvignon and the other traditional Bordeaux varieties. Wines of this style, known as Meritage, have become some of the world’s most highly-rated wines. The word Meritage (pronounced like “heritage”) is a combination of the words merit and heritage. Lyeth, one of the founding members of the Meritage Association founded in 1988, has played an integral role in helping to define this unique style of wine-making. Today, Lyeth continues its legacy of blending family and tradition in its Sonoma County wines, winning praise from critics and consumers worldwide.

Over 25 years later, they are still dedicated to Chip’s vision of making unique blends. In this spirit, Winemaker Bill Arbios has created this exciting blend of five Bordeaux varietals from carefully selected vineyards located in the most esteemed corners of Sonoma County.

Red Wine Selection

Lyeth Meritage 2009   $ 15.99

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec all contribute to this wine’s unique flavor. A brilliant garnet in color, this Meritage is robust with aromas of dark red fruits, currants, and boysenberry with subtle notes of succulent dark chocolate and cedar completing the nose. Flavors of fresh strawberries and boysenberries are lush and pronounced on the palate, followed by hints of roasted coffee and maple. This is a big wine that is well-structured and has a long, smooth finish.

White Wine Selection 

Lyeth Chardonnay 2009 $ 12.99

Sonoma County is one of California’s most prestigious and historic wine-producing regions. The grapes used in our 2009 L de Lyeth Chardonnay were sourced from some of the finest Chardonnay vineyards in Sonoma County. With warm afternoons and cool evenings, the climate is perfectly suited for growing Chardonnay grapes.  The nose exhibits aromas of white flowers and freshly picked herbs are accented by fruit forward flavors of green apple and melon.  On the palate it is a crisp, bright wine with excellent texture, a balanced acidity and creamy traces of vanilla that culminate in a long, buttery smooth finish.  Try this wine with roasted chicken or Dungeness crab.

Connoiessuer Club Selections

Red Wine Selection

Marques de Caceres Gran Reserva Rioja 2004  $ 31.99

Matt Garofalo, owner of The Oconee Cellar, just spent three days touring the Rioja region of Spain and visited the Marques de Caceres winery.  ” I was really impressed with their operation.  Everything is state of the art, from their cellars where the wines are aged, to their own labeling and bottling plant they have on site.  We were treated to a wonderful gourmet lunch and tried all the wines they produce.  They even brought out a 1987 Gran Reserva that was outstanding.  That is a 25 year old bottle of wine!”, said Matt.  This 2004 Gran Reserva spends a minimum of 2 years in oak and another 3 years in bottle before it is released.  The result is complex wine that once it opens up is smooth and velvety with a real balance of oak and fruit.  It is recommended to decant this wine atleast an hour before drinking to allow it to open up.

91 Rated by Wine Spectator!

Lively and fresh, this focused red offers plum, mineral, sanguine and tobacco notes backed by firm tannins and good acidity. Though supple, this drives through the spicy finish. Drink now through 2020. 2,000 cases imported. –TM

If you want to learn more about the wines of Rioja a great summation can be found at http://www.wine-searcher.com/grape-1689-rioja-blend-red .

White Wine Selection

Cadaretta SBS 2011  $ 21.99

This boutique Walla Walla, Washington winery combines a family agricultural history with an international style and flair.  The extensive Columbia Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area) is located in the south-east of Washington State and the north-east of Oregon. Its northernmost boundary is near the Okanagan Wilderness Area on the border with Canada, while to the south it crosses the Columbia river into Oregon. Its western border shadows the Cascade mountain range to the outskirts of the Columbia Gorge AVA.  This large AVA contains most of Washington’s smaller wine sub-regions. It joins an essential commitment to the land with an abiding passion for making the best from that land. Cadaretta is a blend of science and soul, tempered with tradition and balance.

The SBS is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc (75%) and Semillon (25%).  The Sauvignon Blanc grapes for the blend came from two vineyards: Spring Creek Vineyard (50%) and Frenchman Hills Vineyard (25%). The Semillon came from Spring Creek Vineyard (14%) and Rosebud Vineyard (11%).

Three of the past 4 years this wine has rated 90+ by Robert Parker!

March 2012 Wine Club Selections

March 2012                                                 

The Oconee Wine Club

The red selection comes from the Apaltagua Winery, located in the prestigious Apalta region in Chile’s Colchagua Valley, which specializes in one distinguished, but lesser known, grape varietal – Carmenère. Carmenère is considered the “lost Bordeaux” variety, as it was originally planted in Bordeaux, but was abandoned there because it was too late ripening for the Bordeaux climate. Thankfully, the Carmenère variety was imported to Chile where it not only survives (because of a longer growing season), but makes exceptionally good wines.

Apaltagua, owned by the Edward Tutunjian family, has a missionary-like zeal in its dedication to the Carmenère grape. The winery produces three levels of Carmenère-based wines: Apaltagua Estate Carmenère, Apaltagua Envero, and Apaltagua Grial. The resulting wines exhibit a chocolately richness and a peppery edge, combining the best of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in one grape.

The 2009 Envero Carmenère exhibits dark, rich fruit is complemented by eight months in French oak. All the fruit comes from the Apalta region of Colchagua, with the vines over 50 years old. A complex offering from one of Chile’s leading winemakers, Alvaro Espinoza. A prior vintage was among Wine Enthusiast’s “Top 100 Wine Buys.” The ’07 vintage was awarded a “Best of Class” Gold Medal at the New World International Wine Competition. Pair with steaks and chops.  Retail $15.99

The William Cole 2010 Albamar Sauvignon Blanc comes from vineyards that lie deep within Chile’s prestigious Casablanca Valley—often called “Chile’s Burgundy.” This cool climate vineyard near the coast, which is comprised of over 129 contiguous hectares, provides a long, warm growing season with cool nights to develop excellent acidity. Owned by Bill Cole and his Chilean family, the winery specializes in cool climate varieties, and the wines are crisp, clean and complex. The winery makes two lines: Albamar and Columbine Reserve.  This wine shows excellent fresh fruit character and flavors of meyer lemon and crisp apple. It is bone dry and very food friendly. The 2010 Albamar Sauvignon Blanc is named a “Best Buy … Sea bass ceviche would match the acidity and mineral freshness of this sauvignon. Everything seems to be citrus here, and time in the glass doesn’t diminish the wine’s spark and vibrant flavors.” 90 points. Retail $12.99

Connoisseurs Club

Le Claux Delorme Valencay 2009  $ 19.99

Located to the southeast of the appellation of Touraine in France’s Loire Valley, Valencay is a region that is as unknown in France as it is in the United States. Unlike most of the other Loire valley wine regions, Valencay is not located on the Loire river but is split and based around another river called the Cher. The Cher also flows through the appellations of Touraine and Montlouis-sur-Loire before it eventually joins the Loire.

Valencay is an agricultural region like much of the rest of the Loire and is best known outside of the area for the cheese that bears its name. Several varietals are allowed in the AOC including Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Cot (Malbec), and Sauvignon Blanc. The reds are often blended and the Sauvignon Blanc can often be found as a bottling on its own like in the neighboring Touraine appellation.

Alejandro Fernandez

El Vinculo 2005  $ 32.99

In 1999, the discovery of old, head-pruned Tempranillo (Cencibel) vineyards amidst a sea of white (Airén) grapes convinced Alejandro Fernández, of famed Tinto Pesquera and Condado de Haza in Ribera del Duero, to undertake one last bodega, in the historic windmill village of Campo de Criptana. Contracting with selected growers for low yields and early, select harvesting, unprecedented balance and structure for the region has been achieved.  The Tempranillo vineyards located in La Mancha follow the same cycle as those in the Duero area, or almost.

Although the land is flat, the mountains that surround the whole region make it difficult for wet fronts coming in from the sea to penetrate. Annual rainfall ranges from 300 to 400 mm per year and droughts, sometimes for prolonged periods, affect this area. That is why careful drip irrigation is essential to ensure top-quality grapes are available at harvest time.

The first vintage, that of 1999, appeared in December 2001 after undergoing malolactic fermentation, 16 months of ageing in oak barrels and another 6 months in the bottle.  Eighteen months in new American oak barrels and 6 months in the bottle.

The wine has an attractive ripe cherry colour with garnet and violet coloured glints.  The bouquet is distinguished by sharp fruity aromas wrapped around by impeccable oak aromas that provide hints of spices. There is a background of scrubland and rockrose as well as toasted whiffs that give this wine elegance.

It is very smooth upon entry to the mouth. Very fruity, lush, strong and balanced tastes as it slips through the mouth. It is accompanied well by grilled red meat, stewed red meat, farmyard poultry roasts and magnificent semi-cured cheeses such as Manchego, Idiazábal, Roncal or Castellano.