Acquiesce Winery Picpoul Blanc 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I joined in on an Earth Day virtual tasting hosted by The Wines of Lodi.  The wines featured were certified as sustainable by the Lodi Rules Program.  The tasting was exceptionally awesome because cheesemonger Cindy Della Monica of Cheese Central in Lodi paired cheeses with each wine in the tasting.  After tasting through 4 very different Lodi wines,  I easily picked Acquiesce Picpoul Blanc as my favorite of the lineup.

Acquiesce Picpoul Blanc

Acquiesce Picpoul Blanc

Acquiesce is a Rhone-centric winery creating small production white and rosé wines.  Their 2014 Picpoul Blanc is whole-cluster pressed and fermented in stainless steel tanks.  They only grow 100 vines of Picpoul Blanc so the wine is very low production (98 cases made).

This aromatic wine has a nose of fresh flowers and citrus.  In the mouth, soft notes of pear, citrus, and jasmine are met with crisp acidity and minerality.  Balanced, refreshing, and elegant!  Cheesemonger Cindy paired Cypress Grove Midnight Moon and it perfectly complemented the wine! (12.5% alcohol, $24)

*Media Sample

La Clarine Farm Syrah “Sumu Kaw” 2013

I was looking through some of my recent tasting notes and realized that I rarely sip Syrah from outside the Rhone and Languedoc-Roussillon regions in France.  I think this has a lot to do with value; often I spend $20-$40 for domestic bottle and feel like I don’t get a lot of drinking pleasure for the buck.  However, my palate was awakened when I poured a glass of La Clarine Farm Syrah “Sumu Kaw” last weekend.

La Clarine Farm is located in the Sierra Nevada Foothills and they make all of their wines as naturally as possible.  The grapes hail from the Sierra Foothills “Sumu Kaw” Vineyard, which is known for its volcanic loam soils.  100% whole cluster fermentation, foot-stomping, and native yeast fermentation are all part of the process that makes this unfined and unfiltered Syrah.

La Clarine Farm Syrah "Sumu Kaw"

La Clarine Farm Syrah “Sumu Kaw”

We opened it a couple of hours before dinner but the wine was still tight.  We decided to wait until the next evening and it was beautiful!  The nose draws you in with its smoky, herbal aromas.  The palate is complex, balanced, and nicely structured.  Notes of dark fruit, olives, and smoke are woven with abundant minerality.  Savory and delightful…I am absolutely in love with this Syrah! (13.5% alcohol, $26)

Exploring Austrian Wine – Zweigelt

This week, I had the chance to attend a wonderful tasting hosted by Austrian Wine, the national service body for the Austrian wine industry.  The tasting focused on red wines of Austria and we were able to taste four flights of four different grapes.  We started the tasting with a grape that immediately grabbed my attention; Zweigelt.  I have had Zweigelt once or twice before but never really had the chance to dig into the nuances and characteristics of the grape.

Austrian Wine tasting hosted by Willi Klinger, Managing Director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, and Patrick Farrell, MW.

Austrian Wine tasting hosted by Willi Klinger, Managing Director of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, and Patrick Farrell, MW.

Zweigelt is the most widely planted red grape in Austria and is a crossing of Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent.  I found the four Zweigelts we tasted to be fresh, pure, and great values.  Here are my tasting notes:

Getting ready to taste!

Getting ready to taste!

2012 Zantho Zweigelt

This unoaked wine offers tastes of red berries and spice along with balanced acidity.  The wine actually reminds me a bit of a Beaujolais.  Quite simple yet really fresh and enjoyable. (13% alcohol, $15)

2012 Claus Preisinger Zweigelt

Claus Preisinger’s Zweigelt is a bit fuller than the Zantho.  The nose is musty and there are tastes of cherry, plum, brett, and spice.  I would have like a bit more acid but still a very drinkable wine. (13.4% alcohol, $18)

2012 Münzenrieder Classic Zweigelt

The acidity definitely picked back up with the Münzenrieder Classic Zweigelt.  There were also floral notes intertwined with tastes of red berries and spice.  Fresh and a nice value! (13% alcohol, $13)

2012 Glatzer Riedencuvee Zweigelt

This wine opens with a medley of cherry, pomegranate, cinnamon, and floral aromas.  The refreshing palate offers tastes of red fruit and minerals along with a silkier, creamier texture than the other wines in the flight.  The most complex of the four! (13%, $18)

*Hosted tasting

2014 Donkey & Goat Lily’s Cuvée Chardonnay Petillant Naturel

Lately, I just can’t help myself…if I see a bottle of Pet’ Nat somewhere, I have to buy it!  The latest victim of my recent obsession is Donkey & Goat Lily’s Cuvée Chardonnay.  Donkey & Goat is based out of Berkeley and run by husband and wife team Jared and Tracey Brandt.  They make natural wines and focus on Rhone varietals, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.  Lily’s Cuvée is a blend of predominantly Chardonnay with a splash of Roussanne from Anderson Valley.

2014 Donkey & Goat Lily's Cuvee Chardonnay Petillant Naturel

2014 Donkey & Goat Lily’s Cuvee Chardonnay Petillant Naturel

This cloudy, yeasty wine is slightly sweet with fine bubbles.  There are harmonious flavors of grapefruit, lemon, honey, ginger, and minerals.  A bit green, but according to Donkey & Goat, the sweetness will mellow out and the wine will become more carbonated if held on to for a little while.  Delicious, intriguing, and definitely fun to drink!

Tasting Our Way Through The Garagiste Festival

Last weekend, Brandon and I had the chance to attend The Garagiste Festival “Southern Exposure” held in the Santa Ynez Valley.  There were many events held over the course of the weekend and we made it to Santa Barbara Wine Country just in time for Sunday’s Grand Tasting.  This event brought together 30 artisan ‘garagiste’ producers along with food vendors.  While most of the wineries were based out of Santa Barbara, there were a few labels from places like Sonoma, Paso Robles, and San Diego.


The Garagiste Festival

Brandon and I tasted our way through most of the wineries and there were definitely a few that stood out.  Our first stop was at J. Brix Wines and it ended up being our favorite tasting of the day.  J. Brix is a boutique winery based in San Diego (that’s right, San Diego!).  Winemakers Jody & Emily Towe started making wine in their garage and have since grown production to 700 cases.  While most of their grapes come from Santa Barbara County, they also produce “Rougarou” Carignan from McCormick Ranch in San Diego.  This unfined and unfiltered wine is balanced with tastes of red fruit and hints of earth.  A super impressive effort that will make you rethink San Diego’s potential.

Another winery that really stood out in the tasting was Ryan Cochrane Wines.  Owner and winemaker Ryan Cochrane was pouring his newly released 2013 Solomon Hills Chardonnay from Santa Barbara County (alongside Santa Barbara Pinot Noir) and it was showing really well.  Nice texture along with vibrant acidity and bright fruit.  A great wine from a winery that is only producing 150 cases!

Brandon and I wrapped up our tasting with bubbles from Flying Goat Cellars.  Their 2012 Cremant was an excellent way to rejuvenate our palates.  It is made from the Pinot Blanc clone 159 from Sierra Madre Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley AVA.  This sparkling wine is refreshing and crisp with notes of melon and citrus.

Overall, The Garagiste Festival is an excellent way to explore wines from small production, artisan wineries throughout California.  If it comes to your town (Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, & Paso Robles), you should definitely check it out!

A Beautiful Everyday Burgundy – 2013 Domaine Les Faverelles “Le Nez de Muse” Bourgogne

A delicious Red Burgundy for under $30…is that even possible?  I found out it is indeed possible after uncorking a bottle of Domaine Les Faverelles “Le Nez de Muse” Bourgogne.  Domaine Les Faverelles is a small, 15 acre winery located in the village of Vézelay.  The vineyard is farmed organically and biodynamically and all of their wines are made with indigenous yeasts.  The “Le Nez de Muse” Bourgogne is aged in oak casks and is bottled unfiltered.


2013 Domaine Les Faverelles “Le Nez de Muse” Bourgogne


This Burgundy, which pours a brilliant cranberry color in the glass, opens with aromatics of red fruit and pepper.  The wine is graceful and delicate on the palate.  There are notes of ripe strawberries along with lively acidity.  There is also a youthfulness that is fresh and pure.  The wine actually reminded me a lot of Gamay in style and in taste.  Absolutely stunning for the price…I wish I had more bottles to enjoy! (11% alcohol, $22)

2013 Folk Machine “Film & Camera” Valdiguie

Valdiguie is probably a grape most of you aren’t familiar with yet but it seems to be slowing making its way into wine shops across California.  Valdiguie is widely planted in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France where it is known as Gros Auxerrois.  Until recently, it was incredibly hard to find in California.  Now it seems that winemakers and wine drinkers alike are realizing that Valdiguie is capable of making a fun and very delicious wine.  I recently uncorked a bottle of 2013 Folk Machine “Film & Camera” Valdiguie from Mendocino County and was impressed with how much I enjoyed it!

2013 Folk Machine "Film & Camera" Valdiguie

2013 Folk Machine “Film & Camera” Valdiguie

The wine opens with aromas of herbs and red fruit.  I was actually expecting a little less flavor so I was surprised by the boldness of the palate.  There are notes of cherry, cranberry, earth, and spice along with wonderful acidity.  Even with all of the vibrant flavor, the wine is light and easy to sip.  Such a fun and interesting wine! ($20, 11.7% alcohol)

Wines from Champagne Jacquart – Brut Mosaique and Brut Rosé

Champagne Jacquart has a rich history dating back to 1964.  For over 50 years, they have worked with winegrowers throughout the region to produce excellent wines.  Today, Champagne Jacquart is home to 1,800 vineyards in the Champagne region with 60% of the vines located in Cru sites.  Their current winemaker, Floriane Eznack, joined the winery in 2011 and she is the force behind Champagne Jacquart’s signature blends.

I recently had the chance to try both the Brut Mosaique and Brut Rosé.  I was not familiar with the brand before and can honestly say I am really impressed with both Champagnes.  Both are terrific wines and incredible values.

Champagne Jacquart

Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaique and Brut Rose

NV Champagne Jacquart Brut Mosaique 

The Brut Mosaique, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, begins with aromas of almond and citrus with hints of yeast.  The palate is refined with delicate bubbles and bright acidity.  There are tastes of orange blossom and grapefruit entwined with nuttiness and minerals.  A delightful Champagne that is hard to beat for under $40.

($39.99. 12.5% alcohol)

NV Champagne Jacquart Brut Rosé 

The Brut Rosé is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir vinified as red wine grapes.  The wine opens with bright aromas of red berries.  The vibrant palate offers tastes of strawberries, red currants, freshly baked bread, and minerals followed with a dry, lengthy finish.  We paired it with goat cheese and it went together wonderfully.

($49.99, 12.5% alcohol)

*Media Samples

2013 Les Hérétiques Vin de Pays de l’Hérault

I have been sipping Les Hérétiques Vin de Pays de l’Hérault for the last few vintages.  While it has always been a great mid-week wine, I have to say, the 2013 is an outstanding value.  The wine is 100% Carignan from 40+ years old vines in the Languedoc region of France.  Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections, it is relatively easy to find at specialty wine shops.

2013 les heretiques pays d'herault

2013 les heretiques pays d’herault

The nose has abundant aromas of dark fruit with hints of earth and spice.  The palate is incredibly rich with juicy acidity and smooth tastes of blackberries, violets, earth, and minerals.  Straightforward yet very quaffable and full of flavor.  A perfect companion for a casual meal…I will most definitely pick up a case soon! (13% alcohol, $10)

2014 Moulin de Gassac “Guilhem” Vin de Pays d’Hérault Rosé

It is definitely Rosé season!  My inbox is full of new release emails from wineries and every wine shop is stocked full of 2014 Rosés.  One of the first bottles I reached for this year is 2014 Moulin de Gassac “Guilhem” Vin de Pays d’Hérault Rosé.  Each and every year, this fairly priced Rosé exceeds my expectations.  This year, the wine is a blend of 50% Grenache and 50% Syrah from the Languedoc region of France.  With a price of $9-10 a bottle, it is hard to pass up!

2014 Moulin de Gassac "Guilhem" Vin de Pays d'Hérault Rosé

2014 Moulin de Gassac “Guilhem” Vin de Pays d’Hérault Rosé

The nose of this salmon-colored Rosé offers Continue reading