2014 Scholium Project Steverjan Pinot Gris, California

  
Everyone thinks of Pinot Gris as Pinot Grigio. Genetically, yes similar. The names look pretty close, yes. But different beasts and each is their own.

This one though… Take everything you know about Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, and Rosé and just throw it out the window. I mean it’s freakin’ orange. Would we call this orangé? 

Rosé is made by allowing the juice to ferment in contact with the grape skins. The amount of time the skins are in dictates how pink or red the wine will be. Since Pinot Gris grapes have an orange, rusty hue to them… They make it orangé.

Flavor wise, it’s very hibiscus, spice and fresh. It has a interesting tannin structure to it. You don’t really see rosés or white wines with that much detectable tannin. 

Drinking this is a geek fest. It negates everything you’ve studied about and poses new questions you never thought you ask about this varietal. Maybe it is the excitement of not being able to preemptively figure out what it’s going to taste like.

Great job Abe Schoener.

2014 Mayu Pedro Ximénez, Elqui Valley, Chilé

I know that seems like a lot of nonsense for a wine blog post but all will be explained. I stumbled upon this fresh Chilean white wine while tasting random new stuff with one of my vendors. He wasn’t going to show it to me because he was sure I was going to hate it. Luckily, fate intervened. So here we are with this random varietal that sounds like some guy’s name. This is what you need to know:

Pedro Ximénez(Hee-man-nenth) is a varietal that typically grows in Australia, Spain, and Chilé. Australia and Spain use the grape to make fortified wines like Sherry. That’s why this one caught my mouth. This is the opposite of a rich, dessert wine.  Mayu is a fresh, light white wine. It shares similarities with Pinot Gris and Albariño with a little Sauvignon Blanc thrown in. Lemon zesty with Asian pear and blissful minerality. The acid on the back end is copious and perfectly compliments it’s white floral aromas.

Drink it with sushi or a salad with some ginger in it. Alternatively, you could take a page from my book and just pound it on a patio paired with a beautiful day.
Mayu Pedro Ximénez will keep your wine budget in line at $11.99 a bottle. The only problem is that you will probably go through a few at a time.

Luca Paretti “Løvo” Brut Prosecco, Treviso, Italy

Oh Prosecco…. Why don’t more people love you? With juice like Luca Paretti, there’s no reason to not celebrate the end of the work day everyday.

You can always find D.O.C. and D.O.C.G. designations on the neck of Italian wines.

This Prosecco is a D.O.C.(Denominazione di Origine Controllata) wine. That’s a guarantee that the producers followed the strictest regulations possible to make it. This designation only applies to Italian wines. In other words, 100% quality.

Løvo(lōh-vōh) is a dry sparkling with steely vibe to match it’s clean, crisp finish. It’s barely fruity with subtle flavors of citrus, stone fruits, and even some tropical fruit like pineapple or passion fruit.

Personally, I love a good bottle of bubbles any day and I don’t need a special occasion to indulge my inner  lush with this spectacularly golden glass of effervescent nectar. This is a great sparkling to have around for surprise company, a Saints victory, or just cuz y’all.

  

Luca Paretti Løvo Brut will cost you $16.99. You can also sip it by the glass at Wine Country Bistro.

2013 Vi Novell, Montsant, Spain

Some of my favorite things in the world to indulge in are pork, wine and whiskey. Like Meatloaf said, “Two outta three ain’t bad.”

  
Here we have a sexy little number from one of my favorite regions in Spain, Montsant. They produce rich and deep reds that can fool you into thinking your drinking some Cali juice if you were blindfolded and couldn’t see the spanish label. Most they produce Monastrell(Mourvèdre in France and ‘Merica) but also some Garnacha and Syrah. 

“Vi Novell” means new wine. And what is pretty righteous about this particular juice is that it is made through partly traditional methods and Carbonic Maceration. CM basically is a process of fermentation that causes the grapes to ferment in their own skins and then burst! How rad is that?! The process usually yields a fruity, acidic wine that’s meant to drink immediately. Since they go straight from making juice to bottle, drink up.

Anyway, the wine right?

On the nose, it seriously smells like someone smoked some delicious peppered meats and handed it to me in a baseball glove covered in dark fruit. Smokey, peppery and fruit rich. Tasting it… It’s a beast. Deep and dark fruits like currant or cassis with that pepper and a little earthy truffle to get your tongue perked up. 

Great with wild game like rabbit or quail but definitely a worthy companion to suckling pork or country ham.

If you dig earthy Cali Cabs or Syrah’s and want to spend about $13 for a bottle, get you some. 

2012 Lard Des Choix Red, Les Champs Libre, Rennes, France

 Probably one of the more interesting wines I’ve come across. “Lard, des Choix” is a French play on words from “L’art des Choix” which means “the art of choice.” Lard = Pig which in turn means I’m already interested in this wine. 

Starting off, if this wine had a gender it would all dude. It’s rustic and rough but still managed to stay clean cut. It’s a blend of Gamay and Syrah. Gamay is best known for being produced in Beaujolais, France. If France had a gangster grape, Syrah would definitely be in the running for the title. It’s produced all over France from the Cote Du Rhone to the Languedoc. 

  
This wine has a huge Gandolf shout of, “You shall not pass” aroma of fresh ground black pepper. It really comes through as a focal point of the palate with hobbit sized notes of new leather,  red bell pepper and plums. 

  
This wine would definitely benefit as a pairing with food. My suggestion would be the bad ass pulled pork tacos I made last night. If you didn’t catch that dinner special last night, I’d say a dish with bacon, pulled pork with brown sugar in the rub or a backyard burger with a sunny side up egg and aged cheddar. 

If you dig on spicy Carmenre from France or South America, give this broseph a shoot for about $23

2013 Zocker Grüner Veltliner, Edna Valley, California

  

I know what you’re thinking… “What the Hell is Grüner Veltliner and why am I looking at it?”

Grüner Veltliner is a special wine to me. It was one that stumped me when I first started in this industry and my customer basically made fun of me for not knowing what it was. “Never. Again.” I told myself.

So this is a type of wine that is generally from Austria, not “give me a coat bro” not “Guhday mate.” Not normally from Edna Valley, Cali, but we’ll take it. Zocker Grüner Veltliner, which is 91 points from Wine Enthusiasts, is pretty close to Austrian style but has a little something different. It smells like a dry Riesling but reminds me a lot of super acidic stainless steel chardonnay. Lots of bright lemon zest, straw flavor and green apple with a dry, acidic finish. Great with spicy foods like crawfish. Say “Hell yeah” Louisiana for something else to make our food more delicious… As if we needed help with that.

For around $20 a bottle, give it try if you’re into dry summer whites and even some village level Chablis.

2011 Joseph Jewell Halberg Vineyard Pinot Noir

  

I’ve always refered to Pinot Noir as the great red wine equalizer. It’s not too heavy for someone who likes lighter style reds and it’s not to light(depending on the producer) for the crowd that digs the heavy set wines like Cabernet or Merlot. Accessibility is how I would pitch them. Normally I throw out wines the are in an everyday range($9-19 per bottle), but every now and then you need to treat yo self. 

Joseph Jewell has multiple single vineyard Pinots that all have their own character. (Single Vineyard means that the grapes that make up the wine come from 1 vineyard in 1 place from 1 area in 1 county in 1 state from 1 country) I had the opportunity to taste the Russian River Valley’s Halberg Vineyard Pinot Noir. 

Nose: flint, eucalyptus, cherry tart, wet stone

Palate: very elegant, finessed fruit, cherry with a slight minerality and balanced but with a slightly higher acidity and a light-medium body

This is a total gem at about $55 a bottle. Although, I don’t think this wine is for everyone. Pinot Noir enthusiasts would fall in love with this very small 147 case production wine. Now I’m not talking about the Wagner Family wine drinkers of Belle Glos or Meiomi Pinot Noirs. I’m talking about your Morgan single vineyard drinkers or Arcadian out of Santa Lucia Highlands. 

2013 Can Blau Red Blend, Montsant, Spain

 

 Something I’ve come to understand in the wine business is that people have their go-to’s and certain wines from certain areas that they are willing to try out. Personally? I have no barriers when it comes to wine. Most of the time when I try new things I like, it’s because I wasn’t shopping for a Paso Robles red or a French white. All I had in my mind was the flavor and style I was craving at the time. 

Being that wine drinker that rarely buys the same wine twice, I’m exposed to so much. As Anthony Bourdain has said a million time “Explore, explore” and “Be open to happy accidents.” That mindset has found me some beautiful juice I would have never thought twice about. And that’s how I got to love Spanish wines. One of the best and best bang for your buck is Can Blau.

The 2013 Can Blau is part of the Juan Gil Winery(gangster Spanish makers) and is 40% Cariñena, 40% Syrah and 20% Garnacha. Cariñena is basically Mazuelo(a distant cousin to Carignan) which a widely planted grape in Spain and is used for it’s deep color as well as it’s acidity and tannins to help balance blends.

With 12 months in French oak, a mere 7 more months than its younger counter part Blau, it hits like a velvet hammer. Rich red and blue fruit explode the minute you uncork the bottle. Vanilla and incense from the oak will start wafting around your glass as you taste every flavor you smelled with pristine balance of fruit, acidity and dryness. 

Grab a bottle of this if your into Sonoma Cabs, Paso Robles or Washington red blends under $20. Throw a steak on the grill with this or drink it because you want to dammit.

Cline Cellars Tasting

Yesterday I was able to sit down with the regional rep for Cline Cellars. Now, a lot of people know Cline because of red blend called Cashmere. Cashmere has kind of been the iconic Cline wine in this area of Louisiana over the last couple of year. It’s a blend of mainly Mourvedre(53%), Syrah(25%), and Grenache(23%). Cashmere is so named because of how silky, smooth it is. It absolutely lives up to the name. It also is a wine with a cause. Fred and Nancy Cline have donated over $270,000 to breast cancer research and have an active partnership with Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

Since I’ve sold Cashmere for years, I was looking forward to tasting some of the other wines I’d never had. I was very pleasantly surprise at their drinkability and value.

ClineLineup

First off, lets take Rosé. It’s made from Mourvedre and is part of their “Ancient Vines” series because the vines have been producing fruit for 80-100 years. Super impressive for it’s price point. It has balance to the extreme. Beautiful acid structure complemented with fresh strawberry. This little ditty definitely falls into the Patio Pounder category. For around $10, it’s tough to beat.

Cline also makes a pretty tasty Pinot Noir as well as a Chardonnay. The grapes for both are Estate Grown in Sonoma. Which means Cline actually grows and maintains the grapes on land they own. They aren’t buying their grapes from another winery. Aaand fun fact: La Crema sourced their Sonoma Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit from Cline until very recently. So that means that if you dig on La Crema Chard or Pinot, you should try Cline’s. 

The Sonoma Coast Chardonnay is a crisp one. No oak or butter bomb. Light vanilla and baking spice paired with that golden apple flavor. It’s kinda Cali Chard 101. A good, everyday value for a Cali Chard drinker priced around $12.

ClinePNPinot Noir. Every one loves it so every one wants to grow it. Unfortunately, not every one does a good job of it. That’s not the case here. Cline’s Pinot Noir really delivers for under $15. It’s got all the things I love about Pinot without punching me in the throat. Cola, cherry, and a hint of smokey bacon fat(yeah, I said it) with a silky pajama pants finish. Definitely my favorite of the group.

Fun fact: La Crema used to source their Sonoma Chardonnay and Pinot Noir fruit from Cline. So that means that if you dig on La Crema Chard or Pinot, you should try Cline’s.

Give me shout if you’re into or have questions about these wines.

Wine Review: 2012 True Myth Cabernet Sauvignon

To quote a friend and colleague of mine, “I need another cab like I need a hole in my head.” The wine business is littered with California Cabernet Sauvignon, or cab. It’s the wine of steak and the champion of Napa Valley. I do love drinking cabs, but they aren’t my go to. Nothing against them at all, delicious wines. Speaking of delicious cabs, lets talk.

When I first got in the wine game, one of the areas I realized I liked almost everything I tasted from was Paso Robles. For all my searching, I couldn’t seem to find a bad wine from there. That holds true today. I found one of my favorite cabs before the holidays and I’ve been trying to put it in everyone’s glass I can since.

True Myth is a cab that represents everything great about Paso Robles. Rich fruit with just the right amount of earthiness. They also source their fruit from the legendary Justin vineyards in Paso.

Basics on fruit sourcing: Lots of areas produce grapes to sell to wine makers. Not all wine makers have their own vineyards and not all farmers make wine so it’s pretty common practice for a lot of vintners. Mind = Blown.

FullSizeRenderTrue Myth doesn’t need a lot of time to open up. Its ready to drink the minute you pop the cork. Your full attention is demanded by aromas of cedar, vanilla and jammy blackberries. Rich fruit with tobacco, lots of oak and spice will run rampant in your mouth and finish with the softest, velvety kiss. It’s definitely a full-bodied red that’s not too dry.

The real insanity here is that this cab is only $18. Finding wines like True Myth get me excited about wine all over again. Super excited. Awkward that you are this excited about wine excited.

If you’re interested in trying a bottle, email me at beardandbarrel@gmail.com and I’ll get you set up.