Category Archives: Wines To Impress

Concha Y Toro

Concha Y Toro Is an amazing winery, they have a wine making team for each brand of wine that they make and each team is personally responsible for the total wine making of that particular brand of wine.

Located in the upper Maipo Valley, at the foot of the Andes, and 650 meters above sea level, the Puente Alto vineyard has ideal climatic and geographical conditions for growing Cabernet Sauvignon.

A true representative of the Puente Alto vineyard is Don Melchor, the first world-class Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. “The terroir of Puente Alto is what gives the characteristic fruit expression, elegance and tannin quality of Don Melchor”, explains Enrique Tirado, enologist of this icon.

– See more at: http://www.conchaytoro.com/web/magazine/harvest-notes-in-puente-alto/#sthash.CbVgIRsO.dpuf

Located in the upper Maipo Valley, at the foot of the Andes, and 650 meters above sea level, the Puente Alto vineyard has ideal climatic and geographical conditions for growing Cabernet Sauvignon.

A true representative of the Puente Alto vineyard is Don Melchor, a world-class Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. “The terroir of Puente Alto is what gives the characteristic fruit expression, elegance and tannin quality of Don Melchor”, explains Enrique Tirado, head of the wine making team for Don Melchor.

During my visit I tasted through the 05, 09, the next release vintage of Melchor 2013, in the blending stage. This is the wine that Concha Y Toro wants to enter into the rare class of Cult status.  The wines that I tasted through are outstanding and if they continue to develop more innovative wine making techniques it’s very possible for their dreams to come through.

Chile’s first ultra-premium wine, is the only one with 23 vintages to its credit, all prize-winning and renowned by world critics. Don Melchor is the maximum exponent of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon from Puente Alto, and places Chile as one of the world’s great producers of Cabernet Sauvignon.

They do make white wine at Concha Y Toro and the Amelia Chardonnay is on it’s way to becoming a world class Burgundy type Chardonnay, the best that I tasted in Chile.

Chile’s first ultra-premium wine, is the only one with 23 vintages to its credit, all prize-winning and renowned by world critics. Don Melchor is the maximum exponent of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon from Puente Alto, and places Chile as one of the world’s great producers of Cabernet Sauvignon. – See more at: http://www.conchaytoro.com/web/our-wines/don-melchor/#sthash.Nt4cnupv.dpuf
Chile’s first ultra-premium wine, is the only one with 23 vintages to its credit, all prize-winning and renowned by world critics. Don Melchor is the maximum exponent of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon from Puente Alto, and places Chile as one of the world’s great producers of Cabernet Sauvignon. – See more at: http://www.conchaytoro.com/web/our-wines/don-melchor/#sthash.Nt4cnupv.dpuf

 

Carmín de Peumo is Chile’s first iconic Carmenere. This is simply the best Carmenere made in the world, when I first smelled and tasted this wine all I could say was WOW this is some amazing juice. If this is what the potential of Carmenere has to offer when grown in the perfect conditions then this grape has unlimited possibilities.

 

Located in the upper Maipo Valley, at the foot of the Andes, and 650 meters above sea level, the Puente Alto vineyard has ideal climatic and geographical conditions for growing Cabernet Sauvignon.

A true representative of the Puente Alto vineyard is Don Melchor, the first world-class Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile. “The terroir of Puente Alto is what gives the characteristic fruit expression, elegance and tannin quality of Don Melchor”, explains Enrique Tirado, enologist of this icon.

– See more at: http://www.conchaytoro.com/web/magazine/harvest-notes-in-puente-alto/#sthash.CbVgIRsO.dpuf

Bodega Caro

Bodega Caro is a partnership between Domaines Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) and the Catena family, was started in 1998. Initial enthusiasm quickly became a concrete plan to produce a single wine that would combine French and Argentine cultures and the two signature grapes of each producer, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both partners brought much to the party.

The Catena family has produced wine for three generations. Consequently, it was able to draw on its vast knowledge of the high altitude terroirs of the Mendoza region as well as its passion for Malbec. DBR (Lafite) contributed its centuries-old skills in growing, vinifying and ageing great Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as its know-how in blending different grape varieties to produce one wine that is greater than the sum of its parts.

CARO’s first vintage in 2000. The success of the early vintages resulted in the creation of another wine in 2003: Amancaya which, like its older brother, is based on a harmonious balance between Argentinian identity and Bordeaux style. Bodegas Caro then decided to celebrate the grape variety for which Argentina’s vineyards are famous by selecting a pure Malbec, ARUMA, starting with the 2010 vintage.

The Bodegas Caro winery, in the heart of Mendoza, has been producing the wines since the 2003 vintage and serves as the anchor of the CARO project. The renovation of the historic building and gardens in order to expand the winery and open the Bodega to the outside brings the final touch to the original project.

2002 CARO, from Catena and Rothschild, has Rich Cherry, Spice, Red Licorices, and a strong  elegance, complex finish through blending with Cabernet Sauvignon. The combination has made a rich and refined wine; a harmonious balance between the Argentine and Bordeaux styles.

Grape varieties, Cabernet Sauvignon 65 to 75% and Malbec 25 to 35%.
Length of aging in oak barrels: 18 months, including 60% in new barrels.
Average annual production: 5,000 cases.

2011, Amancaya, means white flower that grows at the base of the Andes Mountains. A more fruity style coming from the higher percentage of Malbec and shorter aging 12 months in oak.  I thought the wine was well structure from beginning to end.

Grape varieties: Malbec 40 % to 60 %, Cabernet Sauvignon 40 % to 50 %.
Length of aging in oak barrels: 12 months in oak barrels (20% new).
Average annual production: 30 000 cases.

2012, ARUMA means “night” in the language of the Quechua, the native Indian, is a pure Malbec made from a blend of grapes from the best terroirs in the Mendoza region. This wine was fresh lively, easy to drink and the price is right. The wine maker was able to achieve the balance, elegance and depth of flavour that make great Malbecs.

Grape variety : 100% Malbec
Length of aging : 8 months (50% in oak barrels)
Average annual productionn10 000 cases

 

Vina Cobos

The wines of Viña Cobos are the result of a shared dream inspired by the passion of an American winemaker and two partners from a wine-producing culture deeply rooted in European traditions. Their founding aspiration: to produce a Malbec of power and elegance unequaled anywhere in the world. The inaugural 1999 vintage of Cobos Malbec received the highest score upon release for any Argentine wine. Since then, Paul and partners have grown their family of wines, which continue to receive even greater accolades. Cobos, Bramare, and Felino offer three tiers of exceptional Chardonnay, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from Marchiori Vineyard 60 to 80 year old vines and other select properties within Mendoza.

Cobos Malbec represents “true north” for Viña Cobos; it is the founding inspiration for the Argentinean portfolio. It is produced only in exceptional vintages from the oldest vines (60 to 80 years) in the Marchiori Vineyard. It exhibits levels of concentration and power rarely achieved in Argentina – or in other top wine growing regions of the world – for that matter.  I didn’t get the opportunity to review the Vina Cobos wines and hopefully next time I will get the opportunity to tastes these wines to let you know how good they are.

2010 Cobos Malbec

Bramare Appellation wines are sourced selected vineyard blocks to express the full lushness and personality of both the Luján de Cuyo and Valle de Uco growing regions.

I tasted through six of these wonderful wines, they are beautifully made from Malbec or Cabernet Sauvignon. These are big rich powerful wines that displays fruit of blackberry, blackcherry, cinnamon and  blueberry fruit on the palete. Even though the wines are big and powerful they still possess a very elegant velvet finish.

The Felinos exhibit a great balance of pure, concentrated fruit, lively acidity and smooth tannins. Our Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Chardonnay are vibrant, mouth-filling wines that pair exceptionally well with food.

The Felino Malbec 2012, was a very easy drinking wine somewhat spicy, cinnamon and blackberry fruit, I thought it was a very good mid priced Malbec for the market

 

DAY 3 AND 4 IN NAPA, SONOMA VALLEY

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> DAY 3: Starts at Diamond Creek Winery. WOW what a magnificent piece of property to grow grapes! Nestled into steep hills, this vineyard has a natural spring and their own man made lake. We were greeted by Cidy, a lovely host that I had met at the Fountainbleau during South Beach Food and Wine Festival earlier in the year. They only have three wines for most people to taste but what a threesome: Red Rock, Volcanic Hill, and Gravelly Meadow. All of these wines grow on 44 year-old vines with roots often 30 feet deep so they don’t starve for water.

The 2009 Volcanic Hill can only be described as a mouth full of joy!  The 2010 Gravelly Meadow is a 300 case production– so virtually impossible to get–but if you like Bordeaux grown in Napa, this would please your soul. To show how well their wines age, Cidy very kindly opened a 2003 Volcanic Hill…..the fruit was like black cherry candy while the structure and complexity was truly amazing. This 03 tasted like a young baby. BTW, Lake Vineyard is their 4th wine but you didn’t hear it from me!

As a side note: Cidy presented us with an aesthetically beautiful and delicious cheese pairing to accompany the wine. All cheeses were locally made and finished with a fresh fig in a balsamic reduction. Heaven!

We finished the day with the lovely sisters:   Far Niente and Nickel &Nickel (N&N).  Both wineries make great wines but are vastly different.  Far Niente makes 4 wines:  Chardonnay, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, and the great Sauterne of California:  Dolce.  The first thoughts that came to mind upon tasting the Dolce were “delicious” and “liquid gold”.  Interestingly, and just for the record, the ‘07 was the best wine I tasted at both wineries.

The wines at N&N are mostly one hundred percent grape varietals.  The Merlot was a very good wine that shows how under-appreciated this grape is in California.  2011 Enroute Pinot was smoky-bramble with cherry fruit and a long, lush finish.  It reminded me very much of a Premier Cru from Burgundy. 

Although we tasted several 100% Cabernets,  I thought the ‘09 CC from Rutherford was an extremely special wine.  I’m beginning to really appreciate the fruit from Rutherford!

 

Day 4:  The last day started early at Caymus Vineyards…. one of the really special wineries in Napa. It was founded my Chuck Wagner at age 19, and is now slowly moving into the capable hands of his children.   In 1972, Charlie Wagner,  Lorna Belle Glos Wagner and their son, Chuck, built their winery among the vines planted on the family’s ranch in Rutherford, California  (the center of the Napa Valley). Just a short time later, in 1975, the Wagners produced their first Special Selection Cabernet Sauvignon, which remains the only wine to have twice been named Wine Spectator’s “Wine of the Year” (1984 and 1990 vintage).  

The winery now makes several different types of wine but their bread and butter are still the two Cabs:  The Caymus Cabernet and The Special Select Cabernet (which is 90% Cabernet).  Depending upon the year, I think the regular Cab can be better than the Special Select.

Caymus also makes world class Pinot Noir Meiomi and 4 different Belle Glos wines:  Dairyman, Clark & Telephone, Las Alturas, and Taylor Lane.  These are all big Pinot’s… I call them Pinot on steroids!

The surprise wine for me was the Zinfandel.  This was a lovely Zin with Raspberry, Clove, White Pepper and a spicy, long finish.  Easily one of the top 3 Zin’s that I have ever tasted. 

As a side note: Rosanne Acquistapace, our tasting guide was not only very familiar the wines but put together a cheese selection that was paired perfectly with the wines….and all readily available (Dean&Deluca,Whole Foods and Wms. Sonoma). Thank you!

 

Just when you think  you have seen the best piece of property and the best view in Sonoma and Napa , you arrive at Hanzell Vineyard  and quickly realize you  haven’t seen anything yet!  . 

Founded in 1948 by James David Zellerbach, who was not only involved in the design of the Marshall Plan but asked to implement it in Europe by President Truman .  While leading this forward-thinking and compassionate effort, Zellerbach was also at the helm of his highly successful business; Crown Zellerbach. It was during this time that J.D. Zellerbach discovered and purchased his first fourteen acres of private, oak woodland on the steep hillside of the Mayacamas Range, overlooking the town of Sonoma. 

As Mr. Zellerbach made his money in the Chemical business, he was in a perfect position to hire an accomplished chemist – Mr. Webb – as his winemaker.  It turned out to be a great decision!  For fifty years Hanzell has been the home of great innovation and invention:   from the first-in-the-world stainless steel fermenters and the first controlled malolactic fermentation, to our current day one-ton tankitos and clone and rootstock trials.

Our 90 minute tour and tasting of this great property was directed by Ryan Hortum, an extremely knowledgeable and engaging person who provided us with all of the historical details of Hanzell and more.  With total respect for the winery  I must add that after a two hour tour they only had 2 wines for us to taste! You can just imagine how thirsty we were after two hours of not drinking wine in wine country!  There are reasons for this:  first they only produce 5,500 cases of wines a year and second they only make 6 wines in total (3 Pinots and 3 Chardonnays).  Although 2011 was a very challenging year for every winery in California,  Hanzell lost 40% of their fruit hence the absence of Pinot Noir for us to taste.  

The 2 Chardonnay’s were fabulous and more than made up for it!  2011 Sebella  Chardonnay  was youthful with floral notes, green apple and good acidity,  with a lemon/lime finish.  2010 Hanzell Chardonnay had green apple on the nose,   very creamy honeysuckle on the mid palate and finally notes of pear with a rich lone finish.  If I closed my eyes and didn’t know any better I would think that I was drinking Chassagne  Montrachet from Burgundy.

Overall Sonoma and Napa Valley will continue to produce world class wines for the foreseeable future.  The scenery, the food and the people make the wine that much better!  It was another GREAT time…..!

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