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!

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International Wine of the Month Club – A Great Wine Selection!

There are A LOT of wine clubs out there and it can be really tough to pick one that offers a thoughtful selection each and every month.  I was recently invited to taste a monthly selection from the International Wine of the Month Club and was really impressed with the red and white that was sent my way.

The International Wine of the Month Club has three different membership types (all based on the price points of the wine) that allow you to select either 1 or 2 red and white wines a month.  These wines are selected by a two-tiered tasting panel.  Tier one is comprised of 10 sommeliers, professional tasters, and winemakers. Only the top 10% are sent to the secondary panel, which includes upwards of thirty or more tasters.

Here are my thoughts on the wines that were sent my way.  The cost for the 2 bottle selection is $72.95.

The International Wine Club of the Month wine selection
The International Wine Club of the Month wine selection

2011 Bellingham “The Bernard Series” Small Barrel S.M.V. 

Bellingham is a South African winery that has roots dating back to 1693.  The winery has grown and evolved to become what it is today but they maintain a minimalist winemaking approach to assure the true character of the grapes shine through.  The 2011 Bellingham “The Bernard Series” Small Barrel S.M.V. is an excellent example of a hand-crafted, terroir-reflective wine.

The S.M.V. is a blend of 70% Shiraz, 22% Mourvedre, and 3% Viognier.  The wine pours a deep purple color in the glass.  You will notice abundant, rich aromas of dark fruit, lavender, and herbs.  The palate is flavorful with tastes of blackberry, violets, and hints of oak.  The Viognier adds a noticeably bright note that really elevates the wine.   An excellent choice for grilling and definitely something that I would uncork again! (14% alcohol)

2011 Domaine Marc Colin Saint-Aubin La Fontenotte

The second bottle included in my monthly shipment was 2011 Domaine Marc Colin Saint-Aubin La Fontenotte.  In keeping with the values that seem to be important to the International Wine of the Month Club, the wine is hand-crafted with minimal intervention in the winemaking process.  Domaine Marc Colin utilizes principles such as organic farming and native yeast fermentation to assure the wines are expressive and true to the grape.

The 2011 Domaine Marc Colin Saint-Aubin La Fontenotte is a White Burgundy (100% Chardonnay) that opens with aromas of pear and citrus surrounded by hints of oak.  The nose reminds me of a spring day and really enticed me to take a sip.  The plate is bright and lively with notes of lime, lemon, pear, and minerals.  The finish is long and zesty.  A fantastically refreshing wine that would be perfect with seafood! (13% alcohol)

*Media Samples

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Enjoying National Chardonnay Day with Wente Chardonnay

Yesterday was National Chardonnay Day and I had the opportunity to take part in a Twitter tasting hosted by Wente Vineyards.  We had a chance to taste through three of Wente’s Chardonnays and chat with Karl Wente, 5th generation winegrower and winemaker at Wente.  The tasting was a lot of fun and each bottle was incredibly different.  Here are my tasting notes from the event:

Our lineup of Chardonnay from Wente
Our lineup of Chardonnay from Wente

Wente 2012 Eric’s Small Lot Chardonnay

Eric’s Small Lot Chardonnay was my favorite Chardonnay of the tasting by far.  The wine was fermented in stainless steel did not undergo malolactic fermentation, making the flavors clean and vibrant. The nose shows floral and apple aromas and the palate offers tastes of green apple, Bosc pear, and spice.  A really nice wine! (13.7% alcohol, SRP $25)

Wente 2012 Wente Vineyards Morning Fog Chardonnay

This bottle was fermented in 50% neutral oak and 50% stainless steel so there is definitely more of an oak influence.  The texture is creamy and there are notes of apple and pear.  Not a bad option for the price! (13.5% alcohol, SRP $15)

Wente 2012 Riva Ranch Chardonnay

This wine was aged for 8 months in French, American, Eastern European, and neutral oak so it was definitely the most “typical” California Chardonnay we tasted.  Notes of butter, lemon, tropical fruit, and oak shine through in the palate.  A little rich and buttery for my taste but a lot of other bloggers preferred it.  (13.5% alcohol, SRP $22)

*Media Samples 

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Weekend Wine and Food Pairing – Halibut Sandwiches and Unoaked Chardonnay

Last weekend, we stopped by a restaurant in Laguna Beach for lunch and ordered halibut sandwiches.  My husband and I frequent this restaurant because they never have a corkage fee (which is a rarity in OC!).  We toted along a bottle of unoaked Chardonnay we picked up last year.  To our palates’ delight, the wine was great and the paring was even better!

Chard
Marimar Estate 2010 Acero Chardonnay…unoaked and great with halibut!

If you haven’t enjoyed an Unoaked Chardonnay, you are missing out.  Forget the thick, buttery Chardonnay you are used to and open up your glass to bright, refreshing flavors.  Look for a bottle with citrus and tropical notes to pair with the halibut.  The combination is mouth-watering and delicious!

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Mini-Review – Columbia Crest H3 2010 Chardonnay

Last week, I participated in a live Twitter tasting with Thirsty Girl and Columbia Crest Winery.  In the lineup for the night was their 2010 H3 Cabernet (which I have previously reviewed http://wp.me/p1vdhr-RZ), 2010 H3 Les Chevaux red blend, and 2010 H3 Chardonnay.  I have already been won over by Columbia Crest’s wines in the past because of their great quality price ratio.  The H3 Chardonnay was no exception!

This Washington Chardonnay has aromas of citrus and tropical fruit with tastes of green apples, spice, vanilla, and sweet oak.  The palate is a bit rich (I am more of a fan of unoaked Chardonnay) but the spiciness adds a nice dimension.  For the price ($12), if you are a fan of a rich, oaked style of Chardonnay, Columbia Crest H3 is hard to beat! (B+, 13.5% alcohol)

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Domaine du Tariquet 2010 Chenin Chardonnay

This week I am going to be reviewing a few wines from Domaine du Tariquet.  They focus on white wines (9 white wines and 1 rose to be exact) and the estate is located the village of Ercé, which lies at the foot of the Pyrenees in France.  All of the wines they produce are priced very reasonably and, of the four I tasted, I did not experience one bad bottle!

About the Wine – From the Winery

Domaine du Tariquet 2010 Chenin Chardonnay is a blend of 75% Chenin and 25% Chardonnay.  It has 12.5% alcohol and retails for around $11.  For more information visit www.tariquet.com

Now the Fun Part – Tasting the Wine

Aromas of pineapple and honeydew are abundant in this bright gold wine.  There are crisp tastes of lemon, pear, vanilla, and spice with a healthy dose of acidity.  An easy sipper with a refreshing finish!

My Wine Rating – B

Food Pairing Suggestions – Pair with halibut, goat cheese, or veggie tacos.

*Media Sample

 

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Budget-Minded Summer Whites

I have spent the last week tasting through some inexpensive, white wines that have landed at my front door and, believe me, I have had some pretty bad bottles.  In the midst of all of the not so good wines, I did manage to find a couple of bottles that are definitely worthy of uncorking (or unscrewing!).  These next two wines are perfect for summer sipping and very easy on your wallet!

Big House 2011 Unchained Naked Chardonnay

Aromas of pear, green apples, and melon dominate this fruit forward white.  Unoaked and uninhibited by boring, buttery flavors, this wine shines with tastes of pear, pineapple, white pepper, and lively acidity.  Pair with shrimp, scallops, or a fruit salad.  (B, $10)

Folonari 2010 Moscato

I am not a big Moscato fan but I can appreciate the refreshing flavors in this bottle.  The nose has sweet pears and melon.  The palate is sweet but not too sugary.  Flavors of pear, melon, and honeysuckle will appeal to Moscato drinkers and a glass makes for a nice aperitif.  (B, $9)

*Media Samples

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Lively Acidity and Clean Flavors – Jordan Chardonnay Russian River Valley 2009

A couple of weeks ago I received a few bottles of wine from the guys over at Wine Chateau.  Wine Chateau (www.winechateau.com) has over 18,000 wines from all of the world at discounted prices.  They included a bottle of Jordan Chardonnay, which I have consistently found to be a great Chardonnay vintage after vintage.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Jordan Chardonnay 2009 is 100% Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma County.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for $22.97 at Wine Chateau.  For more information or to purchase the wine visit http://www.winechateau.com/sku1662771_JORDAN-CHARDONNAY-RUSSIAN-RIVER-VALLEY-2009-750ML

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Jordan Chardonnay has an aromatic nose with aromas of green apples, lemon, and pineapple.  The wine has wonderful acidity with crisp flavors of green apples, lime, and a hint of vanilla.  The finish is slightly dry with a bit of lingering minerality.  This is an excellent Chardonnay, especially for the price.  Not overly oak laden or buttery but instead balanced and clean flavors.

(Don’t be afraid to cellar this Chardonnay for few years.  I had a great experience with an aged bottle of Jordan Chardonnay a couple of months ago.)

My Wine Rating- A-

Food Pairing Suggestions- Pairs well with roasted turkey, sautéed scallops, or a shrimp cocktail.

*Media Sample

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A Bright and Balanced Chardonnay from Marquee Artisan Wines

I haven’t had a chance to try many bottles of Chardonnay from Australia so I was happy when Marquee’s Signature Chardonnay arrived from the Yarra Valley.  Chardonnay is the most widely planted grape variety in this cool climate and I was excited to see what this wine had to offer.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Marquee 2008 Signature Chardonnay is 100% Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley region of Australia.  It has 12.7% alcohol and retails for $14.99.  For more information see www.marquee.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

The Marquee pours a vibrant gold in the glass.  Its aromatic nose has notes of lime, honeydew, and mango.  This light bodied wine shows bright flavors of pineapple, lime, peach, and melon that are nicely balanced with hints of toasted nuts.  The finish is tangy with pleasant acidity.  A very refreshing Chardonnay from Marquee!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- Perfect with a salad with chicken, apples, and walnuts, pasta with scallops, or grilled red snapper

*This wine was sent to me as a sample for the purpose of review

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Unoaked and Refreshing- Mer Soleil Silver 2009 Unoaked Chardonnay

I have professed my love for unoaked Chardonnay before.  They are generally lighter, less buttery, and allow more of the true flavors of the Chardonnay grape to unfold.  While most unoaked Chardonnays I have tried are aged in stainless steel tanks, Silver is aged in cement tanks.  I am excited to dive in and see what Silver has to offer.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay- Ceramic Bottle Edition

Mer Soleil Silver is an unoaked Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands.  It has 14.8% alcohol and retails for around $22.  For more information see www.mersoleilvineyard.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Silver pours a pale gold in the glass.  The nose is pleasant with aromas of lemon and pineapple surrounded by mineral notes.  Tastes of grapefruit, lemon, and green apple are and matched with a nice dose of acidity and minerality.  The finish is long, zingy, and refreshing.  Yet another unoaked Chardonnay that I am impressed with…cheers!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- This wine pairs well with braised pork, pan seared scallops, or brie cheese.

*This wine was sent to me as a sample for the purpose of review

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