“If I could save time in a bottle…..” Jim Croce
I would save wine in the bottle for a time. More than 90 percent of all the wine bought in the U.S. is consumed the same year it is purchased. Winemakers, knowing this, vinify accordingly and produce wines ready to drink upon release. Convenient, yes. And many times, the varietal itself does not allow for long term cellaring. But wine drinkers that never age a bottle that can benefit from aging, even for a short time, deny themselves the pleasure of enjoying a wine as it matures and develops in the bottle.
As an example, I visited Cline Cellars in October 2012 (see http://www.winemizer.net/2012/11/cline-cellars.html ). My review of the visit concerned itself mostly with the winery; their agricultural practices, the tours offered, the tasting room and it included mini-reviews of several wines I tasted
Here is what I said, for example, about Cline’s Carignane: “The Ancient Vine Carignane (Contra Costa County) begs to accompany grilled meats or braised short ribs. Its rich mouth feel (15.5%) is loaded with ripe plum, and hints of cocoa powder with clove. $18.00”
Fast forward to November, 2013. I opened another of the Carignane that I had shipped from the winery during my visit. In every respect, it held true to my description of October 2012, but the aspects were now so much richer. In the glass, Cline’s Carignane presents as dark ruby, what a gemologist evaluating a ruby would describe as pigeon blood (not to dissuade you – that’s the term). The nose offers blackberry and ripe mashed plum. In the mouth, it coats like liquid velvet, viscous with ripe black plum and berry with a hint of clove and cocoa. This experience was enjoyed without aeration and immediately after opening the bottle. I wondered how it would drink the next day, and so with some hesitation, vacuum pumped the bottle and put it away.
The next day was a repeat of the first – no degradation in any aspect. The finish was still long and tantalizing. And I enjoyed the mind-tricks of this wine. Its soft tannins and rich fruit character trick the brain into thinking there is sweetness that (at .30 residual sugar) is not there. This is a dry red that I sometimes refer to as a safe crowd pleaser when I pour wine at demonstrations. With its rich texture and structure, red wine drinkers (excluding perhaps those who will drink Petite Sirah and nothing else) should enjoy Cline’s Carignane. And with its surprisingly soft tannins (the one extra year of bottle aging) this Carignane will not put off drinkers of softer wines.
If you’re an amateur student of wine but with a serious interest, you’ll appreciate knowing that grapes for this wine are selected from seven of Cline’s oldest vineyards, in the Oakley Ranch located about 40 miles east of San Francisco (see map).
Good heat and sun, with cooling night winds make for happy vines. But most important, many of the vines there are more than 100 years old. While Carignane vines are vigorous and high yielding and able to easily produce above 10 tons per acre, production from Cline’s old vines is a skimpy 2-3 tons per acre. This limited production from old vines yields wonderfully concentrated fruit. Cline harvests the fruit separately as ripeness peaks in each vineyard. Grapes are then gently crushed to ensure a large proportion of whole berries which are fermented in steel. The juice is twice racked, and then laid down in French oak (35% new) for seven months. The separate lots of old vine Carignane are then blended together with the skill of a French blending master to produce a balanced wine.
Carignane is often used as a blending grape, seldom bottled as a varietal because of the grape’s potential to develop harsh green notes and a coarse character. Carignane grapes are naturally high in acidity and tannins which can produce a wine that cellars well but needs time to settle down. It can also be astringent. But Cline’s old vines and vinification produce a Carignane of distinction and balance that doesn’t suffer these flaws and can be enjoyed now but will only become more interesting with age. I haven’t yet tasted the 2012, which is now available from the website and on retail shelves, but I plan to buy several bottles. Some to enjoy now and some to enjoy with a little more “time in a bottle.” I’ve been told it’s as good as the 2011. And at ARP of $15, it gets the Wine Mizer seal of approval.
Follow Wine Mizer on Facebook for fun facts, recipes and helpful hints.
2473 Arnold Dr.
Sonoma CA 95476
Varietal: Carignane 100%
Brix (at harvest) 27.0
Residual Sugar: .30
“Great wine makes wonders and is itself one.” …. Edward Steinberg
Chardonnay used to be a pretty straightforward wine to make. It still is in France where, depending on where it is grown, it is known by Chablis or a particular chateau in Burgundy for example. Vintages certainly affect the wine, but the style of winemaking remains constant. In the U.S. where tastes can change the market (remember “Sideways” and Merlot?) Chardonnay has been on a roller coaster with highs of oak and lows of oak chips and curves of stainless steel in an attempt to keep up with consumers’ fickle tastes. Some U.S. Chardonnay wines have so much vanilla and oak and butter, they could substitute for the meal. Others are so steely it seems the enamel on your teeth will be threatened. I’m hesitant, even today, to spend good money on an unknown label or without the advice of my knowing retailer.
I don’t know if this condition of confusion gave birth to the “ABC” (Anything but Chardonnay) Club. That would be a shame because even card carrying members of the club have to admit secretly that few wines go better with lobster, certain chicken and other dishes. Can there be no balance?
I received an inaugural bottle of “Dream Walking” 2009 Chardonnay
by Cultivate Wines for sampling that answered that question nicely. “Dream Walking” is 100% Chardonnay, 50% sourced from Mendocino County, 30% from Monterrey and the Santa Lucia Highlands in the Central Coast and the 20% balance from Napa Valley. I've found a few inexpensive Chardonnays that offered balance in the last few years, and “Dream Walking” belongs in that group.
In the glass, it exhibits the typical characteristic of very pale straw. But it’s the nose that begins the real treat of the senses. While some may pick up notes of lemon, marzipan and pineapple, I was inhaling a fruit salad of orange segments with pineapple and kiwi. The wine is a smell/taste pleasure with a strong temptation to keep enjoying its perfume and reward the nose.
This wine is a “Flying Wallenda” of balance: A rich mouthfeel that coats and spreads across the palette offering pineapple, green apple, melon and toasted almond. And yes, it offers vanilla, but elegantly and in balance. This is a wine of reservation; a motet that has sections played discernibly but without overpowering other sections of the chorus.
I expect such grace in a classic white Burgundy, and I expect
too that I’ll be paying considerably for it. But “Dream Walking” tastes above its suggested retail price of $17.99 and offers “Mizer” value in the balanced finish. Six percent – just six – of the blend is fermented and aged in 100% new French oak. 36% of the blend is fermented and aged in neutral French oak. The balance of 58% was fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. 42% (the 6 and 36 percent parts) underwent full malolactic fermentation (the conversion of malic acid to lactic acid. Think of the taste of tart green apple becoming softer and more buttery). The end result of all this effort is a wine that I appreciate for its multi-part harmonies, the sum being greater than any of its parts.
I enjoyed this wine with a lasagna made from “no boil” noodles* and butternut squash with a béchamel sauce and a simple salad of dressed organic tomato, parsley and cucumber. But I see it too as a refresher on a beautiful day made for picnics, a backyard accompaniment to freshly made cerviche or spicy Indian vegetable dahl.
I enjoyed the 2009 inaugural vintage and look forward to tasting the 2010 as there will be 8 months of time prior to its release for bottle aging which may add even more layering and depth to the wine.
Follow Wine Mizer on facebook for fun facts, recipes and helpful hints.
* “no boil” lasagna noodles from RP’s Pasta Company, Madison Wisconsin. Tasty/Easy.
7162 Beverley Blvd #346
Los Angeles CA 90036
TECH SPECS for 2009 “Dream Walking”
Residual Sugar: .6 g/L
pH: 3.5 l
Total Acidity: 6.1 g/L
Free SO2: 25 mg/L
Total SO2: 100 ng/L
“Give me wine to wash me clean of the weather-stains of cares.”…… Ralph Waldo Emerson
Recently, I opened several wines from my cellar collection. One was highly rated by a leading magazine and somewhat pricey. It proved disappointing. Another reviewer said he had the same experience with the same wine. Same wine but different bottle on a different day. So no, the wine wasn't “corked” (this month’s hot wine topic). Other bottles I opened were not disappointing, but they were not inspiring. So, like Will Rogers, not finding something good to say, I said and – for a month – wrote nothing.
My luck changed with two sample bottles sent from Cultivate Wines. I opened a California red blend called “The Feast.” With the weather changing toward cool and damp, I was ready for a comforting red. “The Feast” is a Merlot (78%) blend with 9% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Malbec and 5% Syrah. The smooth and soft-tannin Merlot favorited in this blend makes it an easy transition from summer whites.
Red blends are the fastest growing segment in wine sales and “The Feast” is a winning blend. Cultivate Wines carefully sourced their grapes. The Merlot is from Sonoma’s warm Alexander Valley AVA. Its Cabernet Sauvignon is Napa Valley grown. California’s Santa Lucia Highlands (AVA in Monterey County) provides the Malbec. Finally, the Syrah comes again from Monterey Country but from the Arroyo Seco AVA known for its cool climate and gravelly soil. The result is a “Right Bank” Bordeaux style wine from California.
In the glass, “The Feast” is dark plum at its core with beautifully iridescent edges. Its nose offers blackberry jam with violet. With air, the wine yielded a faint hint of mushroom. The mouthfeel is rich and pleasantly coating. I tasted blackberry, clove, cocoa and …. and a hint at green pepper? I enjoy wines that challenge, that involve and reward. “The Feast” is that. It has good balance and a medium long velvety finish that invites repeating the experience. At a suggested retail price of only $17.99, that’s going to happen.
How did all this goodness come about? As expected, the varietals were vinified separately, fermented in steel under controlled temperature. But I learned that just under one fourth of the finished volume was then barreled to French oak, half of which was new. Individual lots were then aged an average of 17 months. The blend was then lightly fined and filtered and bottled without additions. My experience with “The Feast” is that fruit is preserved but the wine made more complex and its tastes layered through carefully selected
Cultivate Wines donates the first ten cents of every dollar earned to non-profit organizations under a program called “The Give.” Since its inception in 2011, Cultivate has donated more than $400,000 to charities in 45 communities across the United States. Knowing this shouldn’t make the wine taste better, but it might make you feel better knowing you’ve done something nice while enjoying a nice wine. I could easily cultivate a taste for “The Feast.”
* Follow Wine Mizer on facebook for fun facts, recipes and helpful hints.
7162 Beverley Blvd #346
Los Angeles CA 90036
Residual Sugar: .4 g/L
Total Acidity: 6.1 g/L
Free SO2: 25 mg/L*
Total SO2: 110 mg/L*
* Sulphur dioxide
* Recommended reading for the obsessive who really want to get into it: http://www.accuvin.com/pHSO2Links.pdf
** Better recommendation: Just enjoy a glass of wine.
“Wine is evolution enhanced by innovation.”…….. James McMillan
One of the reasons I like Sauvignon Blanc (a parent grape to Cabernet Sauvignon) is the plant itself. The vine is vigorous and wild like. And the wine produced by its grapes is seldom manipulated to excess by winemakers, so it yields a taste of its growth place. Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa is (to me) somewhat grassy like its cousin in New Zealand. California’s offers forward fruit. From the Loire Valley in France (the vine’s birthplace) we get minerality. This (“terroir”) is so well understood in France that what we call Sauvignon Blanc they will label Sancerre or Pouilly Fume even though both are within the Loire Valley. No matter the address, the grape offers crisp acidity making it an excellent companion to a dinner of seafood, shellfish, sushi, shaved cheeses and more. No matter the address, the grape offers unique tastes and character.
But, of course, there is more to making wine than simply squishing grapes. And while I am not a fan of what some call the global “standardization of wine” (in which – due to over manipulation - any variety regardless of its origin offers no differences from the same variety grown elsewhere), I appreciate the contribution that a skillful winemaker can make. If handled delicately, thoughtfully, and with restraint a wine will maintain its character – its sense of growth place - while still expressing the unique profile of the chateau.
|No, the wine's not blue. I am, because it's all gone!|
That was my experience with StickyBeak’s 2012 (Russian River Valley) Sauvignon Blanc. In fact, even the label refers to it being “Curiously Made.” And indeed, at first sip, I was very curious. In the glass, like all Sauvignon Blanc, it is pale, so pale it is almost translucent. Often referred to as “pale straw,” I would say that any yellow – no matter how pale - in StickyBeak’s Sauvignon Blanc is not a color but more of a hint.
The nose offers lemon and (for me) enough of it to set it apart from domestic Sauvignon Blanc. I was reminded of the Italian whites that I so enjoy. At first sip, I enjoyed a lemony minerality, again reminding me of a Greco Di Tufo. With some air, the lemon gave way to pear and quince while maintaining its Sauvignon Blanc identity. StickyBeak’s Sauvignon Blanc is different enough to get one’s creative process going: I actually began to toy with the idea that this juice could do well as a sparkling wine, but that’s another story. As I continued sipping, and the air softened the wine, I picked up a taste of kiwi. With all this going on and in such restrained balance, this was a Sauvignon Symphony; a most unusual and intriguing Sauvignon Blanc.
StickyBeak is 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Grapes are carefully sourced from a Russian River (AVA) vineyard. Fruit is handpicked. So far, nothing to explain what I had tasted. It was time to do some homework because something different than just stainless fermentation was going on. I couldn’t imagine any malolactic fermentation and indeed there is none. What I learned is that 5% (just 5%) of the juice is barrel fermented in seasoned oak and it spends three months on its lees. The other 95% is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, one half of which also spends three months on its lees. The rest is pretty standard: neutral yeast is used; fermentation is 4-5 days. Grapes are picked at first light while still cool to maintain fruit.
A little difference, in this case a 5% difference, made enough of a difference in the wine to set it apart. Allowing the juice to rest on its spent yeast cells adds richness and a lusher mouthfeel. While still crisp and typically finishing clean, StickyBeak’s Sauvignon Blanc adds a savory characteristic through creative, restrained use of French barriques.
If you consider yourself an amateur student of wine but with a serious interest in learning, you should try this wine. You’ll gain by learning how the winemaker’s chosen process affects the taste of the finished product. Better yet: if you regularly enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, do a side-by-side (use two glasses) taste comparison of your “go-to” Sauv Blanc and StickyBeak. Tuition for this schooling is only $17 (for the Sticky) and the learning outcome (whatever you obtain) will be worth far more.
Follow Wine Mizer on facebook for food pairing and light-hearted general information.
Follow Wine Mizer on facebook for food pairing and light-hearted general information.
http://www.stickybeakwines.com/703 Jefferson Street
Napa, California 94559
Phone: (707) 258-9552
StickyBeak wines is a member of the Old Bridge Cellar family of wineries. Bottle for sampling was provided by Old Bridge Cellars.
“The best wine educator is a corkscrew and an open mind.” ............ James McMillan
|Proving the Notion Wrong|
There is a commonly held notion about Midwestern wineries, and it goessomething like this:
1) They do the best they can with what they have.
2) They don’t have much.
3) They make some decent white wine, but not red unless they “import” their grapes from other states (read that to mean California or Washington) because it gets very cold and snows a lot where they’re at..
4) They make a lot of fruit and sweet wine. That’s what the “red hat ladies” want and they have to stay in business after all, but “serious” red wine is not to be found there.
The problem with such notions is that if we accept that one of them is true, we tend to believe all of them are true. And if we hear one of them repeated often enough, we accept all of them as fact. It is true, for example, that the Midwest gets snow. It gets cold too. It is also true that most wineries, of course, will do their best with what they have. Why wouldn't they? As for fruit and sweet wines, wineries making such can be found in all 50 states. I suggest that if you don’t like sweet or fruit wines, you don’t buy them.
But if you want to disavow yourself of any wrong assumptions you may have cluttering up your potential wine IQ, I suggest you taste some wine from Domaine Berrien Cellars of Berrien Springs, Michigan. I came across this gem of a winery recently while doing a section of the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail. LakeMichigan Shore is a recognized AVA (American Viticultural Area) by the way, which should tell you something about grapes from this area. You might also want to get out the old family globe, or just trust the map here. You’ll notice that much of Michigan lies between 42 and 47 degrees latitude, the same areas as that for Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhone in France. And as rivers in Germany and other bodies of water near France, Italy and other countries benefit conditions for grape growing, Lake Michigan (a substantial body of water) benefits this area of Michigan Shore.
I was initially attracted to this winery by its use of the word “Domaine.” It gave me hope that a Midwestern winery using such spelling would be inclined to try to produce "old world" style wine. I was delighted to learn that they didn't just try, they succeeded! Blended and varietal wines made from estate grown Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petite Verdot are available along with whites Pinot Gris, Viognier, Marsanne, Sauvignon Blanc and the famous Midwestern Traminette (a cross of Joannes Seyve 23.416 x Gewurztraminer. You don’t need to know all that; only that it tastes like Gewurtz). And there are others.
|Grapes Are Estate Grown|
I enjoyed the 2011 Lemberger (a late ripening, red wine grape popular in Central Europe and elsewhere) with its taste of plum with toasty over tones and a spicy, dry finish. The 2009 Pinot Noir offered cherry, black currant, soft mocha and forest floor. I learned Domaine Berrien uses Dijon clones 113, 115 and 777 (which I seem to consistently enjoy) along with a Swiss clone “Mariafeld” for their Pinot. The Pinot is aged 12 months in French oak and bottle aged an additional 30 months before release. Not only is the wine impressive, at ARP of $15.50, it’s a bargain.
The winery began in the early 1990s and only opened to the public in 2001. Domaine Berrien enjoys the respect of other growers along Michigan Shore and word has gotten out beyond the area that this is a winery committed to making quality “old world” wines at value prices.
Some of Domaine Berrien’s wines are being carried in the Chicago area, but I recommend you visit the winery. The tasting staff is friendly and very knowledgeable. You can taste several wines, leaning about each, and enjoy looking at the beautiful rows of grapes. Depending upon where you live in the Chicago area, the drive to Berrien Cellars is about 2 – 2.5 hours. And if you’re visiting Saugatuck or Holland, you’re only about an hour away. I’ll be writing in the coming months about some of the wines I particularly enjoyed. But in the meantime, keep an open mind and make the trip to Berrien Spring Cellars yourself --- but don’t worry about the corkscrew. They’ll keep one handy.
** Follow me on facebook for tips on wine & food pairings, Facebook.com/winemizer
Domaine Berrien Cellars
398 E Lemon Creek Rd
Berrien Springs, MI 49103
* If you prefer an overnight stay, click on hotel info on mapquest.com when routing your trip. There are several wineries in the area.
Labels: Wineries and Vineyards
“If God forbade drinking, would He have made wine so good?” …Cardinal Richeleu
Summer is fading here. Soon, the berries will give way to the squash, the melons to the root vegetables and the white wine to the red. As much red wine as I enjoy, I will miss the fresh, crisp, acidity and minerality of some summer whites. My recent example is another of Italy’s whites: Friulano. Like so many other Italian whites, (See earlier posts on Vietti Roero Arneis, DeAngelis LaCrima Christi del Vesuvio, (Bibi Graetz) Cicala del Giglio and Feudi di San Gregorio Greco Di Tufo) this grape produces wine of joy and easy drinking at budget friendly prices.
Bastianich winery was founded in 1997. If the name sounds familiar, you’ve likely encountered it on public television (Lydia Bastianich) or on Fox network’s “Master Chef” (Joe Bastianich). Both are blessed with good palettes and the family has put those gifts and the income those gifts generated to good use in a winery named as Wine and Spirit’s Magazine’s 2006 Winery of the Year.”
Friulano was known as “Tocai Friulano” which caused some confusion with Hungary’s Tokai. In March of 2007 that confusion ended with an earlier agreement between the European Union and Hungary and the wine today is simply known (or should be) as Friulano. The area of the Adriatic where these grapes are grown includes Slovenia (where the grape is known as Sauvignonasse). And you may know it also as Sauvignon Vert from Chile and elsewhere. But if you believe in terroir, you believe too that where the grape is farmed makes a difference.
The Bastianich winery is located in Northeast Italy (see map),
Was it worth it? I vote a definite yes. In the glass, this wine is pale straw and presentsa pleasing floral nose accented strongly with tree fruit. The taste offers peach. I enjoyed a definite taste of ripe pear. The finish offers almond and, for me, a hint at lemon. The wine is crisp, clean yet gives a very lush mouth feel that is very rewarding for a white and finishes in perfect acidity and minerality throughout the experience. That’s a lot of experience for $14 a bottle!
|Porcini mushroom & truffle ravioli|
Bastianich Friulano “Adriatico” is 100% indigenous Friulano, steel fermented to preserve fruit and freshness and accomplished without excess acidity that sometimes is evident (my opinion) in some steeled Chardonnays that are produced without malolactic fermentation. Not only is the enamel on your teeth safe with this wine, your mouth will feel refreshed. Bastianich undergoes 30% malolactic fermentation and the must rests 7 months on its lees with frequent batonnage (pump over). The result is a smooth, rich, lush white wine.
|A nice summer salad of heirloom tomatoes, red onion |
& French, goat-Feta cheese with fresh oregano.
This is a perfect summer wine, an outdoor pleaser if you have a gathering and an excellent wine for wine “geeks” to huddle over and discuss. It’s super food friendly and versatile. Serve it with a cheese plate appetizer. Enjoy it with smoked salmon. It would do well with spicy foods, or most any seafood (depending on how sauced) or veal. Prosciutto? Absolutely. Take a step back in time, wrap some around a melon piece and enjoy them together. I made some porcini mushroom and truffle ravioli glazed in a light cream-pumpkin sauce with roasted organic orange bell pepper and an heirloom tomato salad. The Bastianich Friulano elevated the whole experience.
As I continue my travels around the world’s wine road,I find that I most appreciate wines that reflect their terroir and give me a sense of place, and grapes that are handled so as to retain their characteristic identity throughout the process of becoming wine. It’s a travelogue you can inexpensively enjoy without leaving the kitchen table. Today, when some old-world wine is becoming more new world through technique, good “travel agents” are to be appreciated. My thanks to winemaker Emilio de Medicio and the Bastianich family for making this “trip” available.
** Follow me on facebook for tips on wine & food pairings, Facebook.com/winemizer
Bastianich Friulano “Adriatico” ALC: 13%This wine best enjoyed within a few years of harvest.
“Drink wine, and you will sleep well. Sleep, and you will not sin. Avoid sin, and you will be saved. Ergo, drink wine and be saved.” ……. Medieval German saying
From Lodi (see map) California, comes “Petite-Petit” red wine; a blend of 85% Petite Sirah (not to be confused with Syrah/Shiraz) and 15% Petite Verdot. Lodi is an AVA (American Viticultural Area) akin to the Italian DOG/DOGC or French AOC, and is located within the larger Central Valley region. Although Lodi is about seventy miles east of the coast (San Francisco Bay), its rivers provide it with a more Mediterranean climate than might be expected.
Petite Sirah (aka Durif) is a black skinned grape and this comes through in the glass by the wine showing as dark purple. Petite Verdot is often used in blending the magnificent wines of Bordeaux, though in a smaller percentage. It is unfruity, offers earthy tastes and is also dark in color. Each of these varietals is available as a stand-alone and are (for me) excellent “winter wines” offering a chewy full bodyness that goes well with the heavier dishes of cold weather.
Looking at Petite Petit in the glass, one anticipates a bold, teeth staining dry wine. But the nose instead reminded me of chocolate covered blueberries, with emphasis on the blueberry. The taste is fruit-rich with jammy plum and blueberry, a hint of sweetness from the fruit. I would prefer more acidity for a crisp finish, but know that many people will enjoy the fruit and softness of the wine, particularly newer wine drinkers. Aerate the wine in your mouth while making a sucking sound (OK, do this alone) and the blueberry pops. Michael David winery ages the wine for 16 months in French Oak which smoothes the edges of Sirah and you should expect to taste some vanilla because of this, though I didn’t find it out of balance. “Petite Petit” (for me) had a short finish that fell off quickly with a slight taste of black pepper spice; a contribution I suspect from the Petite Verdot, and a very slight hint of earth.
This is not a complex wine that has layers of flavor, or has tastes that develop and progress and change significantly in the mouth. But given that it is commonly available and at under $17, is easy drinking and “backyard food friendly,” it offers good value. It’s often described as a wine that goes well with pizza, but I see it as a better accompaniment to baby back ribs thickly sauced.
I poured this wine at an event. People liked it, told others, and they appeared asking for “the elephant wine.” From my experience, its best advertisers were people who had already tasted and liked the wine. Michael David also makes (I was asked) “7 Deadly Zins” (a Zinfandel blend with Petite Sirah) as well as “Gluttony,” “Sloth” and “Rage,” and other wines with names and labels that apparently capture peoples’ attention. I’ve always been more motivated by what is inside the bottle. But judging from the reaction of people at the tasting, Michael David seems to have a thorough understanding of the American market
** Follow me on facebook for tips on wine & food pairings, Facebook.com/winemizer
Tech Specs for Petite Petit
TA (total acidity): 0.59
Robert Parker 87 Points, Oct 2012
Michael David Winery
4580 West Highway 12
Lodi CA 95242
“Whatever you have, spend less.”………….. Samuel Johnson
The problem any reviewer has in “recommending” (take that to mean even just writing about) a wine is that out of any twelve people asked, six will like the wine, four will not and two will – but won’t admit to it. The latter is especially so when the wine is budget friendly and lacking the cachet so important to wine snobs.
Menage a Trois is a bold, citrus forward wine, and it’s definitely new world in style. It is not a Chassagne or Puligny-Montrachet (chardonnay). It is not a Vouvray (chenin blanc), and it is not a muscat (name your own favorite moscato). What it is, is a quaffable citrus forward wine that is definitely budget friendly and so lacking in cachet.
It is a “marriage of three” different grapes (menage a trois) - the three grapes above- and the result offers a taste experience that is different than what would otherwise be found in tasting the individual varietals. Different is not better, nor is it worse. It is simply different. Differences, by the way, even within the same varietal can be created by how the juice is treated: whether it is fermented in stainless, aged in oak, completely fermented or not, allowed to undergo malolactic fermentation, rest on its lees, and with other decisions the winemaker makes. So when someone invariably just has to tell me why such and such is just so much better, I like to remind them it’s a big world that can support many tastes.
Menage a Trois is from the Folie a Deuce (“a passion shared by two”) winery which harvests each of the three varieties separately (different ripening times) and cold ferments them in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks to preserve fruit and freshness. The percentage of each grape and its contribution to the blend follows:
Chardonnay (44%) tastes of dry, green apple, tropical fruit, lemon, pineapple
Muscat Alexandria (34%) an ancient vine (used for moscato in Italy) sweet, earthy, but not particularly aromatic
Chenin Blanc (22%) fruity with a touch of sweetness. soft, round flavors hinting at pear, melon, apricot, peaches and fruit cocktail syrup. The grape of Vouvray, can be made in a wide range of style and sweetness.
In the glass, Menage a Trois displays the color of pale straw. The nose is strong with citrus, particularly (for me) lemon and a hint of peach. The taste offered a blend of orange-lemon, with peach hints and pineapple. Some people detect grapefruit. The wine is smooth with a crisp, slightly acid-tart finish despite it being semi-dry.
The grapes are Napa Valley grown. Folie a Deux is in Oakville; both good pedigrees. But Menage a Trois doesn’t play on this and put forth any pretensions. In fact, their own material refers to their blends (they make several) being “intriguing and playful.” I would agree. And in addition to their marketing being refreshing, I would add the wine is too. Menage a Trois is a refreshing summer wines to enjoy on the patio while watching the sun go down on a beautiful evening. Its citrus character makes it suitable to enjoy alone. But it’s also food friendly. It would make a good companion to a ham steak with rum-raisin sauce, or spicy Mexican food. Serve well chilled with musty cheeses. Pair it with white meat poultry, caramelized walnuts and tart raspberries. At an ARP of $10, it’s friendly from any perspective.
Residual Sugar: 1.2g/100ml
Menage a Trois
7481 St Helena HwyNapa, CA 94558
* Like winemizer on facebook for mini tips facebook.com/winemizer