Bechthold Vineyard – A Tale of Three Lodi Cinsaults

Over the last couple of weeks, I had the chance to try several bottles of Cinsault from Lodi’s Bechthold Vineyard.  Bechthold Vineyard is the home of some of the world’s oldest Cinsault plantings.  The vines were originally planted in 1885 by Joseph Spenker.

Beautiful shot of Bechthold Vineyard - courtesy of Lodi Winegrape Commission

Beautiful shot of Bechthold Vineyard – courtesy of Lodi Winegrape Commission

Today, there are 25 acres of wine in Bechthold Vineyard managed by Michael David Winery.  The vineyard is farmed organically and produces beautiful fruit.  Currently, the Cinsault fruit is sold to 9 wineries and makes it into the hands of a few other lucky producers.  There are 5 acres of Cinsault fruit that are reserved for making Rosé.

Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault cluster - courtesy of Lodi Growers Association

Bechthold Vineyard Cinsault cluster – courtesy of Lodi Winegrape Commission

What I really love about these wines is that they destroy the stereotype that Lodi wine is high in alcohol, bold, and overpowering.  In reality, the Cinsault from Bechthold Vineyard is light, bright, and refreshing.  Here are three diverse Cinsaults I recently tasted from Bechthold:

Turley 2013 Lodi Cinsault

Turley, an iconic Napa Valley winery, produces an excellent Cinsault from Bechthold Vineyard.  The wine has layers of red fruit with bright acidity and excellent texture.  There are also savory and earthy notes to go along with the tart fruit.  To me, this wine really showcases the beauty and terroir of Bechthold Vineyard.  (13% alcohol, $17)

Estate Crush 2012 Cinsault

The Estate Crush Cinsault is the most fruit-forward and heaviest (although still relatively light) wine of the three.  There are notes of strawberries, cranberries, and cherries balanced with savory and herbal notes.  Fruity, smooth, and enjoyable! (13.8% alcohol, $26)

Two Shepherds 2013 Ancient Vines Cinsault

Two Shepherds Cinsault offers beautiful aromas showcasing strawberries along with hints of white pepper and herbs.  Abundant, bright red fruit flavors sing in harmony on the palate and throughout the finish.  The most elegant wine I have tasted from Bechthold Vineyard!  (12.7% alcohol, $34)

*Media Samples

Spotlight on Finger Lakes Riesling

If you are a Riesling fan, you should definitely have the Finger Lakes wine region on your radar.  New York’s Finger Lakes region has an ideal climate for producing diverse Rieslings that range from dry and crisp to sweet and fruit forward.  The region is mostly composed of small family wineries and they are increasingly producing world-class Riesling.

Last week, I joined in with several other bloggers and wine lovers on Twitter to taste through 8 Finger Lakes Rieslings from 8 different producers.  We progressed from dry to sweet and each wine was distinct and expressed totally different flavor profiles.   Here are a few standouts from the lineup:

Finger Lakes Riesling

Finger Lakes Riesling

Fox Run Vineyards 2013 Dry Riesling

Tons of grapefruit on the nose and palate of this dry Riesling.  There are also notes of lime, peach, and golden delicious apples.  Racy acidity and a zesty, tart finish! (11.2% alcohol, $18)

Red Newt Cellars 2013 Dry Riesling

This wine opens with aromas citrus and honeysuckle.  The palate is balanced with tastes of apricot, grapefruit, peach, and lemon.  Crisp acidity and a refreshing finish.  One of my favorites of the lineup! (11.8% alcohol, $15)

Chateau LaFayette Reneau 2013 Semidry Riesling

Enticing floral aromas with hints of pineapple.  The palate has addicting flavors of melon, citrus, and pear.  Slightly sweet with balancing acidity.  Super food-friendly and delicious! (11.5% alcohol, $15)

*Media Samples

Incredible Rhones from Kale Wines

This past week, I attended Rhone Rangers at the Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles.  As I made my way through the winery booths, I stopped to taste at Kale Wines out of Napa; a winery that was totally new to me.  Kale Wines is the personal project of winemaker Kale Anderson, Director of Winemaking for Pahlmeyer.  The small production winery features well-made, terroir-driven wines. I tried their 2013 Napa Valley Rosé and their 2010 Alder Springs Vineyard Syrah.  Both wines are outstanding and ended up being among the best wines at the event.

Beautiful wines from Kale

Beautiful wines from Kale

Kale Wines 2013 Napa Valley Rosé

Bright, red fruit abounds in this crisp, refreshing wine.  There are also tastes of white pepper and hints of citrus.  The lengthy finish allows nuances of minerals to shine through.  A seriously good Rosé! ($22)

Kale Wines 2010 Adler Springs Vineyard Spirit Rock Syrah

This cool climate, Mendocino County Syrah is outstanding.  Soft notes of blackberries and blueberries are coupled with earthy undertones.  At second sip, I noticed a subtle spiciness.  Great flavors yet restrained and elegant.  With bright acidity, this wine should improve a bit with a couple of years.  ($45)


Maison Angelot Bugey Mondeuse 2011

I love when I get to try a grape for the first time.  Maison Angelot Bugey Mondeuse allowed me the opportunity to do just that.  Mondeuse is commonly grown in Savoie and Bugey yet very little is grown outside of the region.  The grape is characterized by being low in alcohol and also a bit tannic if not grown in optimum conditions.


Maison Angelot Bugey Mondeuse

Technical Stuff

100% Mondeuse from the Bugey wine region in France.  Unoaked and undergoing 100% carbonic maceration.  12% alcohol and a retail price of around $14.

Tasting Notes

The nose of this wine is captivating with aromas of earth, licorice, and hints of minerals.  The palate is fairly straight-forward but definitely unique.  The are tastes of black cherries and licorice with noticeable tannins and a bit of black pepper.  The wine is lighter in body but very present in taste.  A great first experience with Mondeuse!

Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival – Don’t Forget About the Wine!

Everyone knows the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival features some of the greatest chefs from LA and beyond.  So much fanfare surrounds chefs like Michael Voltaggio, Nancy Silverton, and Sang Yoon but few media outlets highlight the fantastic wineries pouring at the event.

I had the opportunity to attend the Lexus Grand Tasting and it was a fantastic experience.  The event featured over 300 wines from producers ranging from those who make around 1500 cases to internationally distributed, household names.  I did some research on the wineries before I arrived to make sure I didn’t miss a great tasting opportunity.  I had the chance to stop by about 20 of the different winery booths and found some amazing wines.

One of my first stops was Wind Gap Wines out of Sebastopol.  I tasted their Rosé, Trousseau, and Syrah.  The 2013 Wind Gap North Coast Rosé ended up being my favorite Rosé of the event.  Bright tastes of red fruit along with white pepper, minerals, and healthy acidity left a lasting impression.  

Wind Gap

Wind Gap

After visiting Wind Gap, I headed over to Red Car Wine.  The entire lineup was well-made and their 2012 Sonoma Coast Pinot and 2012 Fort Ross-Seaview Pinot Noir were outstanding.  Red Car’s wines are graceful, bright, and delicious.

The lineup from Red Car

The lineup from Red Car

One of the most unique wineries pouring at the Lexus Grand Tasting was Movia out of Slovenia.  I had only tried wines from Slovenia one time before and, to be honest, what I tried wasn’t very good.  Movia opened my eyes to the potential of wines from the region.  I really enjoyed the Modri Pinot Noir…light, vibrant, and balanced.

Movia Modri Pinot Noir

Movia Modri Pinot Noir

Lots of other great wineries were present at the event including Baker & Brain, Flowers Vineyard & Winery, Tablas Creek, and Skylark Wine Company.  There were also plenty of nationally known wineries pouring as well.

While the food and chefs definitely (and deservedly) get a lot of attention at the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, don’t forget about the wine.  This is one of the best annual wine events in Southern California!

*Hosted event

#Winechat – The Diversity of Riesling

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to join in with other wine writers and wine lovers to taste Riesling from three different regions.  We sampled Riesling from Alsace (France), Rheingau (Germany), and Kamptal (Austria).  Each wine was completely different from the others, showing the vast diversity of the Riesling grape.  Here are my tasting notes from the #Winechat Twitter event!

Three very diverse Rieslings

Three very diverse Rieslings

Alsace – Paul Blanck & Fils Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2010 

This Riesling opens with abundant citrus aromas.  The bright, balanced palate offers citrus and tropical fruit flavors and there is healthy acidity that gives the wine a nice lift through the tart, lengthy finish.  Full of character yet elegant! ($13% alcohol, $35)

Rheingau – Schloss Schönborn Riesling Kabinett Erbacher Macrobrunn 2011

Enticing aromas of green apples and tropical fruit jump out of the glass.  The palate is slightly sweet with tastes of green apples, pineapple, lime, and a touch of honey.  There is ample acidity present to balance the sweetness.  If you think you don’t like sweet Riesling, I am pretty sure this wine will change your mind! (9.5% alcohol, $24)

Kamptal – Brandl Riesling 2011 from the Heilingenstein 

This is the biggest and boldest Riesling of the lineup.  The wine begins with aromas of minerals and citrus.  The mineral-driven palate offers tastes of stone fruit, citrus, and ginger.  The palate also is a bit thicker than the other two wines of the evening.  I think this wine destroys any argument that Riesling is meek and mild.  (14% alcohol, $34)

*Media Samples

Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival is Happening This Week!

Looking for something to do this weekend?  If you are anywhere close to LA, you need to check out the 4th annual Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival.  The event takes place in several locations across LA and features a lineup that includes some of the most talented chefs (think Nancy Silverton and Michael Chiarello) and sommeliers in the world.  There are also tons of featured wineries, breweries, and restaurants hosting tastings and events throughout the festival.  I am particularly excited about the wineries in attendance this year.  Some of the standouts include Wind Gap, Flowers Vineyard & Winery, and Red Car.


A few of the events not to be missed include:

Lunch at Osteria Mozza w/ Nancy Silverton and Jonathan Waxman

The SOMM Epiphany Wine and Food Pairing hosted by Anthony Giglio

Lexus Grand Tasting

This is going to be the biggest and best year yet so definitely make plans to attend.  For tickets and more info, visit Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival.


Wine and Oysters – Eric Chevalier 2012 Muscadet Cotes De Grand Lieu Sur Lie

One of my favorite ways to kick off the weekend is with a couple dozen oysters and a bottle of great wine.  There are plenty of delicious wines to pair with oysters, but one of my all-time favorite pairings that gives a lot of bang for your buck is Eric Chevalier 2012 Muscadet Cotes De Grand Lieu Sur Lie.   Imported by Kermit Lynch, this refreshing wine is generally priced under $15.  It is the perfect complement to oysters, whether they are raw, steamed, or even fried.

Eric Chevalier 2012 Muscadet Cotes De Grand Lieu Sur Lie

Eric Chevalier 2012 Muscadet Cotes De Grand Lieu Sur Lie

Technical Stuff

Eric Chevalier 2012 Muscadet Cotes De Grand Lieu Sur Lie is naturally fermented with indigenous yeasts and is unfiltered.  11.5% alcohol with a retail price of around $14/bottle.  For more info, visit Kermit Lynch.

Tasting Notes

This wine is golden in color with noticeable hues of green.  The nose is floral with hints of pineapple and lemon.  A first sip, your mouth will be met with tons of vibrant citrus flavors.  With zippy acidity and a clean finish, this wine was made to pair with oysters.  So, what are you waiting for?  Uncork a bottle, shuck some oysters, and enjoy!

Don’t Miss Rhone Rangers Los Angeles 2014!

Heads up to all my LA friends…Rhone Rangers is coming to LA on September 9th! This is my favorite annual wine event in all of Southern California.

Rhone Rangers is a non-profit organization dedicated to “advancing the knowledge and enjoyment of Rhone wines produced in America” and they do a fantastic job.  Their event in Los Angeles showcases some of the best Rhone winemakers outside of France (think Bonny Doon, Two Shepherds, and Tablas Creek).

Last year's event held at the Vibiana...a beautiful setting and even better wine!

Last year’s event held at the Vibiana…a beautiful setting and even better wine!

This year’s event will be held at the Vibiana in Downtown LA.  The Vibiana is a breathtaking location (it was held there last year as well) and the list of participating wineries seems to get better every year.  Check out Rhone Rangers for more info.  This event is not to be missed!

2012 Broc Cellars Carignan – Bright and Beautiful

Ever have one of those nights where you are lucky enough to have a whole bottle of wine to yourself that you just can’t pull away from?  This was the case for me last weekend when I opened up a bottle of 2012 Broc Cellars Carignan.  I am a big fan of Broc Cellars and ran across the newly released Carignan at a local wine store in LA.  I grabbed a bottled, poured a glass when I got home, and then soon after poured another one!

2012 Broc Cellars Carignan

2012 Broc Cellars Carignan

Technical Stuff

100% Carignan from Alexander Valley in Sonoma.  Partial carbonic maceration.  Native yeast fermentation.  12.8% alcohol with a retail price of around $22.

Tasting Notes

The aromas of this Carignan are really enticing.  There are bright notes of sweet cranberries and raspberries surrounded with floral elements.  The palate instantly won be over with fresh, vivid flavors of strawberries, cranberries, and raspberries  There are also hints of white pepper and a bit of earthiness.  This is everything I am looking for in a Carignan.  Pure, lively, and really hard to stop sipping!

For more info, visit Broc Cellars.