Does De-Seeding Make a Difference?

The earthy character of Cab rides on the top note of this Colorado wine: Glass of Redthe Boulder Creek 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.  Mushroom, black truffle, vanilla, the smell of wine lees and the above-mentioned rich earth tones all mingle to create a full tantalizing nose, complex and satisfying.  It’s a cabernet minus the herbaceousness — an example of what ripe cabernet can become without the prune of dried fruit tones on show.  It speaks with a bass voice.  And as yet we haven’t mentioned fruit.  The blackberry and blackcurrant only deepens the nose and taste.  This wine begs for a rich cut of meat to compliment its earthiness, and the flavors of roasted garlic would go nicely.  The nose is perfectly balanced.  Even though this wine is only four years old, it signals a maturity in advance of its age: namely, the flavors of a mature, full red.  It’s a brilliant, dark garnet with black tones that match its dark red character.

There is no indication of greenness or of bitter tannins, which could indicate that de-seeding has worked.  Boulder Creek de-seeds and believes in the practice.  The mouthfeel is full, with a velvety texture and no loss of flavor, being untroubled by strong tannins because they are so fine — another indication that the de-seeding may have been beneficial.  Seeds do not produce fine tannins.

The finish is long, with a touch of acid that makes it go well with food.  Cabernet without the grassiness and green flavors, but full of mellowness that bursts with mystery and makes a professional taster want to stop and drink.

When you have drained the glass, let it sit a few minutes and smell the empty glass.  You will discover the essence of this wine.

Rating:  91

Emotional rating:  If you love the lush and savory — 96

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You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.  Order your autographed copyExperiencing Colorado Wine at Square Market.

Matthaiasson Wines, Napa Valley California

Matthiasson, Steve

“If one person stands to rewrite the trajectory of California wine — in Napa’s luxurious heart, no less — it is Steve Matthiasson,” says the San Francisco Chronicle, while calling him Winemaker of the year.  Food and Wine followed suit.

I was at a wine dinner, featuring his wines, in Colorado recently.  What impresses me is the ingenuity of the winemaker, who also takes care of the vineyards he sources fruit from.  His Napa Valley White Wine is Steve’s idea of a mythical, ideal, Old World white.  It is creative and will fascinate the wine lover.  There is nothing else like this blend: 59% Sauvignon Blanc, 20% Ribolla gialla, 16% Semillon, and 5% Tocai friulano.

Listening to Steve tell of how he came to blend this wine and produce it clearly demonstrates an ingenuity in his winemaking procedures and concepts.  It departs from the image of Napa Valley.  Oak adds a luscious but not overpowering creaminess and the wine, having rested on its lees, offers the aroma of the lees.  A delicate spiciness, clean acidity, and slight nuttiness is held together in a structure enhanced by 10 months bottle aging that is not usually found in a white wine.

Eighty percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot fashions a cab that is truly Old World, sporting the herbaceousness of the Cabernet, and it is impeccably made.  At 13.5% alcohol it has been picked earlier than most Napa Valley cabs and shows it.  If the herbaceous elements of the Cabernet family are tastes you appreciate, this is a winner hands down.  It is a great wine with steak and prime rib and, especially, a rich lamb dish.

You should try these wines.  They may well become a Napa trend of the future, so go to winesearcher.com and find where they are available near you.

You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.  Order your autographed copyExperiencing Colorado Wine at Square Market.

“Sur Lie” — Two Rivers 2012 Chardonnay

Refreshring White Wine in a GlassThe French can come up with some descriptive names and they are often quite prosaic.  This one, “sur lie,” simply states “on the lees.”  White wines are most commonly spoken of in this way if they have spent some time resting on their lees.  The yeasts that are active in fermentation form a residue that rests in the bottom of the tank or barrel.  Quite literally they form a slime (good slime!).  In the first racking the gross lees are removed, leaving what is called the fine lees that a winemaker can take advantage of for additional flavor in the wine.  The lees capture aromas from the wine, and stirring them releases these aromas to add more complexity to the wine.

Burgundy is where this practice of battonage (stirring the lees) originated, as far as we can tell, although letting a wine sit on its lees was perhaps the only way they first made wine. But in our sample, Two Rivers 2012 Chardonnay, you will be able to taste an excellent example of the unctuousness or creaminess this practice can add to the wine.  The wine becomes fuller and imparts a slight yeast/fermentation aroma that deepens the fruity flavors of the wine when it sits on its lees.  The aroma of the lees differs, of course, with the grapes — Chardonnay being different from Muscadet or Chenin Blanc.

This Two Rivers wine is excellent and the winemaker should take a bow.  If you like a white wine whose acids do not predominate but are there to adequately cleanse the palate and sharpen the flavors of the food, this is one such wine.  Very soft and pleasant to drink.  Chardonnay, in this wine, has again claimed its superiority among the whites.

Rating: 90

Emotional rating:  93, for soft wine lovers.

You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.  Order your autographed copyExperiencing Colorado Wine at Square Market.

Wine That’s Fun!

IMG_0832There are more tools to use in the making of wine now than ever before.  More knowledge of why things happen the way they do.  Therefore, a winemaker can fashion a wine to meet their predetermined goals.  That’s what you find in this new wine that you just must try.  It was made to be pure pleasure, filling your senses like a walk in the warm rains of summer.  Just like the rain freshens the air, its fresh top note of cherry and reminders of dry rock minerality, light and bright, tantalize your senses and its juiciness makes you beg for more.  Faint wood notes hide under the fruit, making it complex and intriguing.

It’s alive, changing as the flavors deepen and mature with the passing moments.  Then on its medium-length finish the wood notes begin to come out of hiding, marrying with the fruit perfectly.  For a wine that is not designed to be big and bold, it has surprising character and character is what makes the wine memorable.

I would not call this wine a “house wine” — quaffable and unmemorable — but a light-drinking red that freshens your mood and makes you plead for more.  It is a harmonious experience — soft, impressive and attention-getting, claiming your emotions and your rational evaluation.

You will find it in some Front Range liquor .  Ask for it!  If they don’t have it, they CAN get it by contacting the winemaker.  It is also available to members of the Creekside Cellars Wine Club.  Its name?  “Wine That’s Fun.”  The winemaker?  Michelle Cleveland of Creekside Cellars in Evergreen, Colorado.

Rating 86

Emotional rating under any condition:  90, and rising with each glass!

You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.  Order your autographed copyExperiencing Colorado Wine at Square Market.

 

A Great Everyday Wine for Those Who Detect Quality

The 2012 Merlot from Canyon Wind Cellars at 13.9% alcohol is a very pleasant red for lighter Canyon Wind blackfoilsdishes such as a simple roasted loin of pork, which I just enjoyed for lunch.  It is clean in winemaking terms, which means it is devoid of faults.  One whiff should tell you it is balanced — nothing jumping out and aggressively attacking your senses.  Your whiff will also declare it safe to proceed and taste!  No shocks are ahead.  This is also a good wine to use in introducing white wine drinkers to reds.

Colorado produces some very well made wines, declaring to wine regions that Colorado has some great winemakers.  This wine is designed to please with light tannins and a wonderful refreshing appeal.  It is a consumer savvy wine.  I would serve this wine to guests who I knew were not wine connoisseurs but who would like a wine that livens up most simply cooked dishes.  Salads could be introduced as well.

The technology made available to winemakers today means few wines are faulty.  But not all those “clean” wines are as pleasant as this one.  Ten feet under these grapes is a cobble bar which offers great drainage and introduces the roots to the rich minerals of the Rocky Mountains.  Water that drains away fast stresses the vines, and that is a hidden secret to more flavor as the grapes seek to identify themselves.  Ten months in oak is not long, but it has given this wine the indications of complexity otherwise not present in the fruit alone.

The finish is long enough to leave you with the dance of fresh cherry and cranberry acids, which were apparent on the top nose, and developing flavors of other red fruits, blending with the oaks contribution of vanilla in a very smooth, youthful, final farewell.

Stock your cellar with this as your house wine and you will not be disappointed.

Rating: 86+

Emotional rating for those who want a smooth refreshing wine 89

You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.  Order your autographed copyExperiencing Colorado Wine at Square Market.

 

Colterris’ “Coral” — A White Cabernet Sauvignon from Colorado

Grapes transformed by a kiss of sunlight.

Grapes transformed by a kiss of sunlight.

Yes, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes! It’s unusual to see a white wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon. Colorado’s rich fruit allows the grapes to be picked early and showcase the early development of the flavors in the juice of this grape. Almost immediate removal from the skins gives us Cab without the heavy load of blackberry and black currant we get from Cab’s thick skins. It’s a chance to get to know Cabernet Sauvignon from a new exciting point of view. This pretty, light coral Cab highlights the flavors of pure Cabernet Sauvignon juice and offers this rare opportunity. Wine lovers, take note. Wine is emotion in a glass, so let the emotion of this wine from first sight arrest your senses. But don’t stop there. Sniff, drink. Pure pleasure lies ahead for both the white and red wine drinker. Let’s explore. The herbaceous nature of Cabernet Sauvignon is nowhere to be found. And it’s solid punch and stringent tannins are also left behind in the skins and pips that have been removed from the miracle taking place in the act of fermentation. This wine welcomes you with dominant floral notes — rose, orange blossom and honeysuckle — but apricot, ripe melon and apple dance on the edges too. King Cab’s juice proves to be delicate and refined. Tropical notes of pineapple and a mellowed guava are livened by a spritely acid. In Coral, the brightness is attractively tamed by just a touch of sweetness. And then another revelation greets the attentive drinker: the earthy notes of a white cheddar that smooth the power of a gripping red Cabernet Sauvignon mingle harmoniously with this white version of the famous grape as well. The finish is medium-long and is balanced while the character is not lost and the flavors perform their final encore as they exit. Food will be welcomed by this wine due to its bright finish. It’s a wine for that salad (lightly dressed) that includes stone fruit. Also, fish dishes with tropical fruit garnish or a lightly sweetened chutney. Pork and poached chicken would be enhanced by its gifts and Rocky Mountain Trout would find a cleanser of the palate that also complements the richness of the fish. With an alcohol of 12.5%, its alcohol is cool and promises a summer night’s delight. This White Cabernet features the clones of Opus One, a famed Napa Valley Cab. Colorado and Colterris leave their imprint too. Here’s a format for an exciting wine adventure: A bottle each of Opus One, Colterris Cabernet Sauvignon (which will not drain your wallet) and Colterris’ Coral should open a fascinating discussion of the great grape (all the same clones) and its expression in two very different regions along with comparative value and plain delight. Well done! The white wine drinker’s amazing introduction to the famous red grape.

You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.  Order your autographed copyExperiencing Colorado Wine at Square Market.

A Syrah from the Oldest Wine Growing Region in the U. S.

harvest of blue grape“There are two reasons for drinking wine…when you are thirsty, to cure it; the other, when you are not thirsty, to prevent it… prevention is better than cure.”
~Thomas Love Peacock

On the flat, fertile Mesilla valley of southern New Mexico and with a view of the Organ Mountains, sits the Rio Grande Vineyards and Winery.  If you are down that way, it’s worth visiting for a laid back tasting experience and for their Syrah.  Typically, Syrah in New Mexico is presented in a soft, more refined style.  But this Syrah has a lineage of oak that is normally associated with Syrah in New Mexico.  The grape is bold and fills the mouth with dark fruit and in the better examples, this happy marriage with oak.

Most grapes grown in New Mexico find their roots in the soils of Deming and Lordsburg, but this winery plants some of its grapes where earlier Mission grapes were grown and where the silting of the Rio Grande river has enriched the soil.

A truly food-friendly wine, this Syrah has a solid acid backbone that needs the richness of marbled steak or fatty ribs and strong sauces to complete what it offers.  It’s medium to deep ruby color (indicating its oak home) and pleasant, balanced nose that features those oak aromas has a background of cassis and blackberry and translates on the palate to a full-bodied wine with a medium long finish.  Open a bottle on a cold winter night with that chosen richly endowed food and you will be fully satisfied as it cuts through the body of the sauces and cleanses your palate for the next taste.

You’ll find more about wine in my book, Experiencing Colorado Wine.  You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in it and you’ll find the descriptions of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.  Order your autographed copyExperiencing Colorado Wine at Square Market.

Creekside Cellars’ 2008 Tannat: Fruit and Strength

WinetastingDeep ruby in color, this little-known grape is presented in an unexpected but not disappointing way.  Smoke and leather, with dark cherry and raspberry fruit, mixing well with hints of vanilla, meet the taster on the nose.  On the palate, it is smooth with the warmth of 13.9% alcohol, knitting seamlessly together with fine, medium tannins that do not jump out at you.   The acid is also nicely balanced.  It drinks well now, as can be expected since it was aged for 42 months in one-year-old French barrels and kept in bottle for another year to age and mature it further.    The finish is well balanced, featuring fruit flavors that are fresh and clean with medium length.  The release of this well-matured wine, the date for which is yet to be determined, should make you salivate.

Expectations of astringency and bold, gripping tannins from this powerhouse of a grape are not fulfilled.  Rather, the Colorado fruit leaves us with a pleasant wine that does not need food to temper its power.  Neither is it weak or lacking in character, but bold and smooth.

Typically, Tannat is blended to tame its toughness and hard tannins and appears in its most famous form in a wine called Madrian.  Just as Malbec has found its revival in an outstanding Argentinian home, Tannat has found fame and is by far the most important red grape in its second home in Uruguay.  A warmer climate seems to suit it.  Colorado’s summer heat and Michelle Cleveland’s winemaking techniques may be the reason for its softer performance in Creekside Cellars’ version.  However, in Uruguay it is blended with Pinot Noir or Merlot because it is still a harsh solo performer in that region.  California and Argentina have some plantings, making Creekside’s wine worth experiencing as Tannat finds its way to other countries and seeks to discover its future form.

You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in my book, “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.  Order your autographed copyExperiencing Colorado Wine at Square Market.