#VAWineChat with Stone Tower Winery

In late September 2017, shortly before the Northern California wildfires threw my life into a bit of a tailspin, only to be topped by an unexpected career curveball, I had the opportunity to participate in #VAWineChat with Stone Tower Winery and facilitated by Frank Morgan of Drink What YOU Like.

Situated on 75 acres in the rolling hills of Hogback Mountain in Loudoun County, Virginia, Stone Tower grows and produces chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and viognier, as well as Bordeaux-style black grapes such as cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and petit verdot. They also produce very small amounts of grenache blanc, malbec, marssanne, nebbiolo, pinot noir, and roussanne. During this tasting, we had the opportunity to sample three wines. Unfortunately, during my life upheaval, I lost my notes for the viognier, but below are my reviews of the other two wines, the sauvignon blanc and the Wind Swept Hill red blend. As always, your palate may vary.

Sauvignon Blanc

2016 Stone Tower Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Loudoun County, Virginia, $40 (sample)
Don’t let the delicate gold color in the glass fool you. This is a chardonnay lover’s sauvignon blanc. Although the blend is 90% sauvignon blanc and 10% sémillion, the sémillion influence is notable, with its pleasantly bitter fruit characteristics. However, the sauvignon blanc component dominates the palate with lush, rich tropical fruit flavors and spiciness from French and American oak aging. On its website, the winery compares this sauvignon blanc to those of California, but living here in the Napa Valley, I haven’t experienced a sauvignon blanc quite as voluptuous as this one yet.

Wind Swept Hill

2014 Stone Tower Winery Wind Swept Hill, Loudoun County, Virginia $65 (sample)
A magenta-brick red color in the glass, this Bordeaux-style blend of 31% merlot, 28% cabernet franc, 28% cabernet Sauvignon and 13% petit verdot, is already showing some age on the palate. Restrained cranberry and plum flavors are accompanied by meatiness, mint, a bite of French and American oak spiciness, and a distinct minerality, so much so that I feel like I am tasting the vineyard soils of Hogback Mountain, and I mean that in a good way.

Both of these wines are still available for sale directly from the winery via their website at this link, and they also ship.

Enjoy!
Beth

Webster Cellars Reserve: My Wine of the Moment

 

2013 Webster Cellars Reserve Proprietary Red Blend
2013 Webster Cellars Reserve Proprietary Red Blend

Recently, I had the great honor of tasting a glass of this fantastic 2013 Webster Cellars Reserve Proprietary Red Blend with owners and winemakers Chelli Warnock and Keith Webster. The blend varies from year to year. Sometimes it’s a Bordeaux-style Left Bank blend and sometimes it’s a Right Bank blend. This vintage, it is a Left Bank style blend of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc aged in mostly neutral oak. What I love most about this wine is that it is drinkable now, yet it is also built to last another decade. This is not your typical Napa Valley wine, thank goodness. On the contrary, this wine, with its dark berry palate, fine tannins, and juicy acidity, is so easy to drink with or without food. At only 13.8% alcohol, this beauty tastes like a reunion of Bordeaux and old-school Napa Valley. Only 50 cases made and down to its final bottles. 94 points, James Suckling, if you like to keep score. $95, mailing list only. Join The List at Webster Cellars.

Thank you to Chelli and Keith for opening a bottle and sharing a glass with me!

Cheers!
Beth

Summertime Red: 2014 Madrigal Family Winery Garnacha

2014 Madrigal Family Winery Estate Garnacha, Calistoga, Napa Valley
2014 Madrigal Family Winery Estate Garnacha, Calistoga, Napa Valley

This past year, I have been exploring grenache/garnacha from various regions and at different price points and and happily discovered the 2014 Madrigal Family Winery Estate Garnacha, Calistoga, Napa Valley ($50).

*CLICK HERE TO READ*

2014 Wine Bloggers’ Conference: Live Red Wine Blogging

Live Wine Blogging (pic by George Rose with permission, http://www.georgerose.com/)
Live Wine Blogging (pic by George Rose with permission, http://www.georgerose.com/)

In my previous post, I shared a bit about the live wine blogging experience. There’s also a part two every year, live red wine blogging. This year, I tasted 11 wines in an hour, almost 12, but I ran out of time. I am not sure if a few of the producers shared some extra wines or what happened, but below is my wrap-up of this very intense tasting. What was really cool about this tasting is that there was more variety, including wines from Arizona, California, Georgia (the country), and Italy. In this post, the wines are ordered in reverse, from the last wine tasted to the first wine tasted. What can I say? It was easier to organize. Lesson learned from the last post.

Aridus Syrah
Aridus Syrah

#AZwine in the house again! @ariduswineco #Rhone-style #Syrah: gorgeous, dark fruit, earth. #wine #wbc14 #willcox pic.twitter.com/Zq24siQo96

Mariani Saperavi
Mariani Saperavi

#wine from @GeorgiaWineUSA (country), Mariani #saperavi: huge fruit and tannins, w/acidity on the finish. #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/ny8fqSV5bA

Centine Toscana
Centine Toscana

From @BanfiWines Centine for every day! #tuscan blend, $12: easy to drink, nice fruit & acid. #wbc14 #wine pic.twitter.com/KKRNl6ckXN

Punch Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon
Punch Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

Punch California #springmountain #CabSauv: dark fruit, big tannins. #wine #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/z9AuccvtOQ

White Hart Pinot Noir
White Hart Pinot Noir

Pinot from White Hart, #santaluciahighlands, #sonoma: nice red fruit, good acid, firm tannins. #wine #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/uQsjX8m3xC

Cornerstone The Cornerstone Red Blend
Cornerstone The Cornerstone Red Blend

#napa! @CornerstoneNapa The Cornerstone Red: mouthwatering fruit and acid, integrated tannin. Nice. #wine #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/F3HAxrPmdj

Main & Geary Zinfandel
Main & Geary Zinfandel

Main & Geary, @BevMo‘s own label #zinfandel: jam on! #wine #wbc14 #drycreek #sonoma pic.twitter.com/7OO5P2nneX

Westerly Fletcher's Red
Westerly Fletcher’s Red

#sbcwine @WesterlyWines #happycanyon Fletcher’s Red: a balanced, gorgeous, #Bordeaux-style blend! #wine #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/I0G4RkzO4Y

J Lohr Pinot Noir
J Lohr Pinot Noir

Up next, @JLohrWines 2012 Falcon’s Perch Pinot, #Monterey: floral aromatics, tart cherry & strawberry. #wine #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/obQOs0VSkh

Davis Bynum Pinot Noir
Davis Bynum Pinot Noir

Dijon Clone 155 Pinot from @DavisBynumWines: lots of red berry and my kind of spicy finish. #wine #rrv #sonoma #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/nGE3IO3UNK

Alexander Valley Vineyards Sin Zin
Alexander Valley Vineyards Sin Zin

#Zintastic! Sin Zin from @avvwinery! Nice black fruit, spicy, peppery finish! #alexandervalley #sonoma #wine #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/09kXVN4T9s

Wine Bloggers’ Conference: Live Wine Blogging of Whites and Rosés

This is my third conference (2011, 2013, and 2014) and my third time participating in live wine blogging (10+ wines tasted in a hour) and I’ve never actually blogged during it. I am one of those who believes that the wines deserve a little more attention for a more thorough blog post. That being said, I do enjoy the camaraderie of the blogger participants and producers, and I also believe that what I do, which is tweet about the wine, including a photo, brief tasting notes, and some some key hashtags, at least gets the wines out there in front of a live, virtual audience.

With that explanation, below are my tweets for the 2014 live wine blogging of whites and rosés, including links to the Twitter accounts for the producers who participated. Thank you to them for allowing us to taste their wines. Next time, we will spend more than five or six minutes together, promise.

Danza del Sol Vermentino
Danza del Sol Vermentino

Speed tasting! Vermentino from @DanzaDelSolWine, $28: mouthwatering citrus, great acidity! #wbc14 #temecula #wine pic.twitter.com/0msschpgJB

Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc
Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc

One of my faves: @FerrariCarano 2013 Fumé Blanc: citrusy with a creamy mouthfeel, long finish. #sonoma #wine #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/O0EHTF1Q3h

Grassini Sauvignon Blanc
Grassini Sauvignon Blanc

From @GrassiniWines: 2013 #SauvBlanc, nice balance of citrus and tropical fruits, racy acidity. #SBCWine #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/8ye4pkkvz5

J Pinot Gris
J Pinot Gris

Another fave from @JWinery: 2013 Pinot Gris, $12-16. Bright tropical fruits, citrus, and melon. #sonoma #wine #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/XtCmBIWLhA

Wente Chardonnay
Wente Chardonnay

A goody from @Wente, 1st family of #chardonnay, 2013 Arroyo Seco, #monterey. Juicy apple, vanilla, butter. #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/WUi8lMN8uC

J. Lohr Pinot Blanc
J. Lohr Pinot Blanc

Next @JLohrWines 40th Anniversary Pinot Blanc, Arroyo Seco, #monterey : floral, juicy, nice acidity. #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/dcO7cz8KmD

Treana White Blend
Treana White Blend

Treana Marsanne-Viognier @hopefamilywines: big mouthfeel of citrus, tropical fruits, melon. #centralcoastwine #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/65JpW4Q6PK

Main and Geary Chardonnay
Main and Geary Chardonnay

Fr @BevMo: Exclusive Main & Geary #sonoma #chardonnay. Sur lie, oak fermented. Cream, butter, vanilla, apple. #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/QF5Ob6RLUE

Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc
Cornerstone Sauvignon Blanc

Oh yay! @CornerstoneNapa #SauvBlanc: Very bright, juicy, good acidity, ample mouthfeel. #organic #napa #wbc14 pic.twitter.com/YIHCwrnF3G

Aridus Viognier
Aridus Viognier

#azwine in the house: @ariduswineco #Viognier: melon, tropical and citrus fruits. Lush mouthfeel. #wine #wbc14  pic.twitter.com/z1UMgFGXmt

Soon to follow, the live wine blogging of red wines.

Cheers!
Beth

Legacy: Josh Cellars’ Tribute to Fathers and Heroes

Back in the fall of 2013, I had the opportunity to share with you a couple of wines from Josh Cellars, the second label by Joseph Carr Wine. Carr created this brand in honor of his father, whose nickname was Josh. As states the Josh Cellars website, “My dad set out to create his own version of the American Dream. Every bottle is a tribute to his dream and the realization of mine.”

2012 Josh Cellars Legacy
2012 Josh Cellars Legacy

Just in time for summer holiday cookouts such as Father’s Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day, Josh Cellars has released a new wine, Legacy, a proprietary red blend of Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah, and Petite Sirah. I was fortunate to receive a sample of this wine from Cone Communications.

2012 Josh Cellars Legacy
2012 Josh Cellars Legacy

The wine is a clear, dark ruby color, with a mélange of red and dark berries on the nose. It has medium acidity and medium tannins, which soften the longer the wine is open. The palate bursts with black cherry and blackberry, and then finishes with plum and red cherry. It is easy to drink as well as easy on the wallet, with an SRP of $14.99.

Specifications:
Vintner: Joseph Carr
Winemaker: Wayne Donaldson
Treatment: Oak aged with new French oak for 10 months
ABV: 13.9%
AVA: California (Central Coast, Lodi, and Sonoma and Napa counties)

Josh Cellars continues to partner with Operation Homefront, which assists military members and their families, as well as the Gary Sinese Foundation, which assists “defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.” Why not treat the father figures and heroes in your life to Josh Cellars Legacy?

Rios de Chile Carmenère

Rios de Chile Carmenères
Rios de Chile Carmenères

This blog post comes almost three months after my move to Napa and four weeks away from my trip to Philadelphia to take my Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 3 Advanced Exam in Wine and Spirits. Truth be told, I am very nervous about this exam and I probably shouldn’t have tried to take on a new life, career, time zone, and advanced wine certification course at the same time. Every day I am thankful for the support and patience of my wine study partner, Uncorked Remarks, who has had to bear the brunt of this craziness since I arrived in California and committed myself to this home study version of the course.

Carmenère has experienced its own tumultuous ride and rebirth after being misidentified until two decades ago. Once it thrived in Bordeaux, France. However, after the phylloxera plague, it was not replanted there, but made its way to Chile and reappeared among Merlot vineyards. For a long time, it was thought that Carmenère was a Chilean version of Merlot until Jean-Michel Boursiquot, a French ampelographer (someone who identifies and classifies grapevines), helped discover Carmenère in Chile’s Maule Valley. Ninety-eight percent of all Carmènere is found in Chile and it is second in production only to Cabernet Sauvignon. (Reference: “The Accidental Wine” in Wine Enthusiast, March 2014 issue, pp. 34-39.)

When The Baddish Group contacted me about tasting some samples from Rios de Chile, I jumped on the opportunity to taste Carmenère for the first time and practice writing tasting notes according to WSET’s Systematic Approach to Tasting (SAT). I decided to taste the two differently produced Carmenères side by side.

2011 Rios de Chile Carmenère
2011 Rios de Chile Carmenère

2011 Rios de Chile Carmenère D.O. Central Valley, Chile
Appearance/Color (in natural daylight) – The wine is clear, with a deep ruby color and clingy sheeting on the glass that leaves behind a ruby coating.
Nose – The nose is clean and developing, with medium intense aromas of dried dark berries and spices.
Palate – The wine is dry and has medium plus alcohol, medium tannins, medium acidity, medium plus body, flavors of baked blackberry and black cherry, spices, and pepper, and a medium plus finish. Due to stainless steel production, this wine exhibits an intense and very pure expression of fruit.
Quality – The wine is good. It’s young and vibrant, so drink now, not suitable for further aging.
Price – MSRP of $9.95.

Other specifications:
100% Carmenère
Vertical Espalier Vintification
Alcohol 13.5%
Residual Sugar 2.3 g
Acidity 5.08 g/l
Aged in Stainless Steel
Natural Cork Closure

2009 Rios de Chile Reserva Carmenère
2009 Rios de Chile Reserva Carmenère

2009 Rios de Chile Reserva Carmenère, D.O. Cachapoal Valley, Chile
Appearance/Color (in natural daylight) – The wine is clear with a medium ruby color, but is starting to tend a bit towards garnet after a few years in the bottle, with sheeting on the glass, but less than the more youthful 2011.
Nose – The nose is clean and fully developed, with medium intense aromas of dark berries and fruit, mint, smoke, spices, and vanilla.
Palate – The wine is dry and has medium plus alcohol, medium plus tannins, medium acidity, medium plus body, flavors of dark berries and fruits, mint, spices, and vanilla, and a medium plus finish.  It presents itself as slightly more refined, complex, older sibling of the 2011.
Quality – The wine is good. I would drink now, not suitable for further aging.
Price – MSRP of $14.95.

Other specifications:
100% Carmenère
Vertical Espalier Vintification
Alcohol 14%
Residual Sugar 2.51 g
Acidity 4.99 g/l
Aged 8 Months in Oak Barrels
Natural Cork Closure

Both wines demonstrate how Carmenère can shine at a very good price-to-quality ratio. If you’ve never tried Carmenère, these two would be great examples with which to begin. To learn more about Rios de Chile wines, please visit them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Cheers!
Beth