Roagna Dolcetto d’Alba 2013

Pasta nights are at least a monthly occurrence in our house.  We start from scratch, using flour, water, and a lot of love to create delicious noodles and sauces.  A wine that is often a staple when we make pasta is Roagna Dolcetto d’Alba.  The Roagna family has been making wines in Barbaresco since the mid-1800’s.  Their wines are naturally made and the vines for the Dolcetto are 35 years old.  The grapes are destemmed and then fermented in wood casks.  We love this wine because it is incredibly food friendly and tends to pair well with a lot of the sauces we make.  Plus, a price point under $20 doesn’t hurt!

Roagna Dolcetto d'Alba

Roagna Dolcetto d’Alba

Roagna Dolcetto d’Alba opens with aromas of dark berries and earth.  The palate is soft and approachable.  Tastes of red cherries, dark fruit, earth, and spice are met with gentle tannins and a dry finish.  The wine also has balanced acidity and alcohol.  Truly a gulpable wine perfect with Italian fare! (12.5% alcohol, $18)

Le Telquel – So fresh and pure

I have been on a Gamay kick lately.  I am uncorking bottles that are young and fresh along with bottles that are more serious and Burgundy-like and have been mesmerized by both.  Last weekend, I picked up a bottle of Le Telquel because it caught my eye (yes, it’s Gamay but I am pretty sure the cute dog on the label may have also swayed my decision).  Le Telquel comes from the Loire Valley in France and is imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.  It is made by Thierry Puzelat, who makes his wine with as little intervention as possible.  Something about this Gamay just did it for me…

Le Telquel

Le Telquel

Le Telquel is a simple wine yet the purity is complex.  The aromas are intriguing and the palate is musky, bright, and fresh.  There are tastes of juicy red berries and spice that are entwined with racy acidity.  Pure and unadulterated.  This Gamay is definitely heading to the top of the list of my personal favorite wines for under $20!  Serve slightly chilled and allow time to decant.  (12.5% alcohol, $17)

Domaine Fontsainte “Gris de Gris” Corbières Rosé 2014

Although I don’t believe that Rosé is only for warm weather, I definitely start drinking more of it this time of year.  Last week, I uncorked a new vintage of one of my everyday favorites for the first time; Domaine Fontsainte “Gris de Gris” Corbières Rosé.  It is a blend of Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir, Mourvèdre, Carignan, and Cinsault from the Corbières appellation in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France.

Domaine Fontsainte "Gris de Gris" Corbières Rosé

Domaine Fontsainte “Gris de Gris” Corbières Rosé

The wine pours a bright salmon color in the glass and has soft aromas of strawberries and cherries.  The palate offers fresh flavors of strawberries and cranberries that mingle with traces of minerality.  There is also healthy acidity and a refreshing finish.  When I think of a beautiful yet affordable wine to sip by the pool, I think Domaine Fontsainte “Gris de Gris” Corbières Rosé!  (12.5% alcohol, $14)

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)