- Q & A
August 2006 NewsletterWines evaluated last month: 151 Rejected: 108 Approved: 43 Selected: 6
We welcome August as the intensity of summer begins to wane. The wines for this month are sure to enhance all your summer parties and recipes. We found some new and fun wines; White Merlot and Tempranillo, as well as the classics - Shiraz and Zinfandel. Enjoy!REGULAR SERIES
2005 Cardiff, White Merlot, California
Some say that White Merlot is on the way to becoming the next big hit in the United States. We are on the case with this appealing, unpretentious, good summer quaffer. It is a "must have" for all your summer dining.
2003 Shiraz, Rosenblum, Mc Laren Vale, Australia
For much of the 20th century, Shiraz has been the backbone of the wine industry in Australia. This wine is another great example of Shiraz; rich in aromatics and mouth-feel, the fruit is deep, ripe and it is overall delicious.
2003 Tempranillo, Finca Sobreno, Toro, Spain
There is a saying in Spain: 'tomando vino de Toro, mas que comer devoro' -drinking Toro wine is more devouring than eating. Well, we think that you will devour this wine, as it is as delicious as it is reasonably priced.
2004 Zinfandel, Amazin X Winery, Russian River Valley, California
The Zinfandel grape makes world-class wines for daily enjoyment. If you enjoy wine, food, friends and family you will certainly enjoy this Amazin wine from the Russian River Valley.
Domestic SelectionWe all pretty much know the basics about Merlot; it is a red grape varietal that produces easy-to- drink, soft, and fleshy wines. But, what exactly is White Merlot? White Merlot is made the same way as its famous cousin, White Zinfandel and the wine is made the same way except that Merlot grapes are used instead of Zinfandel grapes. When making standard Merlot, the pressed juice steeps with the grapes skins for a deep red color. Remember, that all red wines get their color from the grape skins, not the juice. In the case of White Merlot, the juice was only with the skins for a few brief moments, yielding a lighter color and body. This blush wine is the perfect antidote for these warm summer evenings and for pairing with our lighter summertime recipes. Cardiff Vineyards is located in the southern corner of Monterey County in California. Their wine-making goes back over 30 years. Only the ripest bunches of fruit were harvested for this wine from some of the oldest Merlot plantings in Monterey County. 2005 was a spectacular vintage year for this area, so excellent fruit was abundant. The juice was crushed and fermented all in stainless steel. The wine has not encountered any oak at all. What is the result of a Merlot without oak? A wine that is fresh, fruity and appealing. The Cardiff White Merlot has a beautiful pink color. The nose is exuberant with smells of cotton candy, peppermint, watermelon, and fresh picked straw¬berries. On the palate, the wine is semi-dry, with just a hint of sweet fruit, cherries, raspberries and crisp acidity. You will find this a perfect summer sipper without breaking the bank. This is also a very food-friendly wine and would love to sit on the table with spicy Asian dishes, Thai curry, grilled salmon, BBQ Chicken, red snapper or baked ham. On page 13, Adventures in Food, we have it paired with Cajun Marinated Chicken. Absolutely delicious!
Color: Bright pink
Nose: Cotton candy watermelon, cherry
Palate: Semi-dry, crisp acidity, strawberries, sweet fruit
Finish: Soft crisp finish
Imported SelectionThe invincible and remarkable Dr. Rosenblum has done it again! Not only does he produce a bevy of high-quality, award winning wines in California, he has recently branched out to the 'Down Under.' Australia claims Shiraz as its own and the wines made from the Shiraz grape in Australia are the most delicious in the world. So, it stands to reason that when Rosenblum wanted to try his hand at making a Shiraz, he ventured to Australia. The region of McLaren Vale has had grapes planted there since 1838. It is bordered by the city of Adelaide to the east, Sellicks Hill Range to the south and the Gulf of St. Vincent to the west. These varying exposures cause many different climatic conditions. The cooling influence of the water, the altitude of the hills, low rainfall and heat make it an ideal environment for many grape varieties. There is also a wide variety of soil types, red sandy loam, grey loam, sand, lime, and black loam. All of these factors are well-suited to grape growing. Shiraz loves the heat and dryness of the region. It thrives in difficult terrain and soils. This wine was crafted by blending the fruit from three premium vine¬yards, Minchella, Harvey "wits end" Vineyard, and Hillgrove Vineyard. The three lots were harvested and fermented separately at the peak of ripeness. They were blended in Southern Australia and then shipped to America. Once in the United States, the wine was racked in new barrels from the Rosenblum barrel collection. The label is made by a famed Aboriginal artist named Jingalu. The wine has a vibrant, dark purple red color. The nose has intense sweet toasty oak notes and perfumed smells of black currant, spice, and blackberry. This is a deep, chewy, full-bodied wine with plenty of structure and flavors of deep, ripe red fruits. The finish is just end-less. This wine is a keeper.
McLaren Vale South Australia
Color: Dark purple red
Nose: Plum, black currant, blackberry
Palate: Full-bodied, sweet toasty oak, velvety texture, deep, chewy
Finish: Dry, lengthy finish
Limited Series SelectionIn the early 1990's, a group of Rioja winemakers became interested in Toro. Toro is a region in Spain, at the western end of the Duero River Valley near the Portuguese border. Many Spanish wine producers claim that the grapes produced in their regions have unique characteristics and qualities, influenced by the each areas special mix of climate, soil and weather. The best example of this is the Tempranillo grape, the backbone grape of Spanish wines. Some believe that the grape started out as Pinot Noir from Burgundy and after it was transplanted to Spain, developed its own Spanish characteristics. Tempranillo is grown all over Spain and has adapted to the many different soils and climates. In the Ribero del Duero region, it is known as Tinto del Pais and in the Toro region, it is called Tinta de Toro. This region experiences hot dry summers, very cold winters and low rainfall. Toro is also one of the sunniest regions in Spain. This means that the grapes in Toro are often ready weeks earlier than other regions, but to maintain tradition, the growers wait to harvest until after October 10th. This results in wines that are naturally high in alcohol and ripeness. Finca Sobreno was founded in 1998 and owns 197 acres of vineyards. The vineyards are over 30 years old and are all 100% Tinta de Toro, pruned "en vaso" (bush vines). The winery uses only new American oak barrels and bottles only the very best juice from each hand¬picked vintage. The Finca Sobreno Crianza has a dark deep red color. The nose is very aromatic with spice, vanilla, sandal-wood, and fruit. The palate is dry and full-bodied with a nice balance of spice, rich, ripe fruit and firm tannins. The Crianza indicates that the wine has spent 7-8 months in oak. The finish is long and spicy. Here is a good companion for red meats and game dishes.
Color: Deep dark red
Nose: Earthy, spice vanilla, sandalwood
Palate: Full-bodied, complex, spice, blueberry, firm tannins
Finish: Dry, oaky finish
Limited Series SelectionZinfandel attracts the most loyal and enthusiastic fans of any wine variety in California. It is the only varietal that has its own organized consumer fan club. What fuels the passions of these thousands of Zinfandel lovers? It could be the mystery surrounding the grapes origins. It has been traced to Croatia where it was named Crljenak. It is also the genetic twin to the Primitivo grape grown in Italy. Zinfandel came to the United States in 1820 when a New York nurseryman brought back multiple cuttings from his travels overseas. It eventually made its way to California and is now considered indigenous to California. The grape is as versatile as Chardonnay in that it can produce many different styles of wine. It can be light and fruity, much like Beaujolais but can also be complex and age worthy like Cabernet Sauvignon. The vines are vigorous and very disease resistant. For this reason, there are many Zinfandel vineyards with vines that are 75 to 100 years old. Zinfandel aficionados believe that these old vines produce the best wines. At its best, Zinfandel has a very fruity, raspberry jam quality. Amazin Zinfandel is made with attention to detail and is 'true to form' for a perfect example of Zinfandel from Russian River Valley. Many Zinfandel devotees believe that the Russian River Valley grows the finest Zinfandel grapes in the state. True to its name, Amazin Zinfandel crackles with Russian River fruit and finesse. The color is brilliant dark violet. The nose is assertive with anise, black pepper, bramble berries and cinnamon. It is full-bodied and loaded with red fruit on the palate. The finish lingers with ripe fruit and spice. It is best drunk young or within 3 to 5 years while the fruit is still brimming. Perhaps this wine is another reason Zinfandel has such ardent followers.
Russian River Oak Valley California
Color: Dark violet
Nose: Anise, black pepper, Bramble berries
Palate: Dry, rich, raspberry, red licorice
Finish: Lengthy finish