Horse Thief? What Kind of Wine Would That Be?

Horse ThiefWell, that’s its name, and not too surprising in this world of eclectic labeling.  Ruby Trust Winery has put yet more power on our tables.  It’s a potent offering that is made from 100% Colorado grapes.  Featuring 50% Petite Sirah, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Syrah, this is indeed a black (deep purple-red shade) wine, fully extracted, and if you love big, rich, full, and powerful wines, you simply must not pass this wine (or any of their wines) up.  I tasted each of these wines (Petite Sirah, Cabernet, and Syrah) before blending in their barrels and was eagerly awaiting their debut in the heavy bottle that is now their appropriate sturdy home.

A perfect complement to Petite Sirah is a good white Cheddar from England.  The cheddar is strong enough not to be lost in the match and rich enough to soften the wine so that you are tasting two wines, one straight and another completely different experience with the cheddar.  Try it!

Petite Sirah and its old slogan “P. S., I love you” is seeing a revival of interest in California as winemakers are seeking its best expressions.  The Horse Thief comes in at 15.4% alcohol with high aromatics, showing blackberry, raspberry and blackcurrant reminders that form a fruity foundation for notes of vanilla, spice, leather, dark chocolate, and earthy tones, creating a very complex nose.  All of these play in the shadow of the Petite Sirah’s firm structure.  The Cabernet and Syrah only deepen the effect and add their own characteristics for further interest.

This is a wine to sit and watch as the tears/legs fall.  They form slowly and the wicking effect on the glass forms repeated displays of these tears, one after another.  Fascinating!  The wine has a rich mid palate and the flavors follow through to the finish.  Tannins from the oak dominate — fine ones that are felt mainly on the checks, while some fruit tannins can be detected on the inside of the lips as well.  These tannins will soften more as age takes its effect and the result is a wine to lay down or enjoy now if you must.  (I succumbed.)

Rating: 90

Emotional rating for those who love a big wine: 98!

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You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.

GET YOUR COPY during our “Colorado Mountain Winefest” Sale at SQUARE MARKET FOR $20!

C. S. Vin, who was trained in French, German and Italian wines, has relied on his  background as a state wine retail manager and 30 years as a wine enthusiast to produce a valuable asset to those interested in wine in Colorado.  Written in a warm, entertaining and conversational style, Experiencing Colorado Wine — Vol. 1 (SRP $24.95, 5.5 x 8.5, 396 pages, ISBN 978-0-9835718-6-5) is available from “Experiencing Wine” on Square Market.

 

Find the Colorado Wines You’ll Love and Learn About Them!

Though few Colorado residents are aware of it, Experiencing Colorado Red Print ReadyColorado wines have won awards for “Best in the World” and even Robert M. Parker, Jr. said in a Tweet last October that his taste of two Colorado wines “opened his eyes to Colorado wine.”  We’ve come a long way in this industry, yet relatively few of us are aware of the pleasures that are available in our own backyards.

However, one Denver-area wine writer and wine enthusiast has set out to reveal the vinifera treasures that are tucked away all over the state and just waiting to be discovered.  In his new book, C. S. Vin (a pseudonym), an Amazon bestselling author in another genre, provides nearly 400 pages to “entertain, educate, and entice readers to enjoy experiencing the exceptional elixirs” (as one reader puts it) produced by the winemakers of Colorado.

The book provides a guide to quality and styles of dry red wines available in Colorado that are made entirely from Colorado grown Vitis vinifera grapes.  (Fruits wines and and wines made from hybrid grape varieties are not included.  The white, rosé and sweet wines will be covered in Volume 2, scheduled for release in 2014.)  Here’s a look at some of the information readers will receive from Experiencing Colorado Wine — Vol. 1:

  • What grape varieties are currently being grown and vinified in Colorado?
  • What distinguishes Colorado wine from those of other regions?
  • Who are the winemakers? Where are the wineries?  Where can we taste samples of the wines?
  • I’m new to drinking wine.  Teach me how to appreciate it and find the best value.
  • What challenges do grape growers face in Colorado and how are they meeting these challenges?
  • Strikingly, we do not enjoy wines with our tastebuds and olfactory senses, as we commonly think, but with our emotions!
  • How do chefs arrive at their decisions about what foods to pair with a wine.  Surprisingly, they do not pair wine with food, but food with wine.  Learn the difference and why.
  • Chefs from eleven top Colorado restaurants (think Broadmoor, Flagstaff House, The Fort, Kelly Liken, LaTour, etc.) have paired foods with selected Colorado wines and provided the recipes that are included in the book.

A year of research and writing, including the “difficult tasks” of tasting all the dry red wines currently available in Colorado (and some that only exists as library wines in the winemakers’ cellars) and sampling  extraordinary cuisine created by some outstanding Colorado Executive Chefs, has produced the first-of-its-kind book on Colorado wines.  If you are a wine lover or want to learn about wine, this book must be in your library.  If you love this state and want to know more about it, you’ll find some interesting tidbits here about that too.

You’ll find many great Colorado wines described in “Experiencing Colorado Wine,” and you’ll find the description of the pairing of several of them with a great recipes by great Colorado chefs.

GET YOUR COPY during our “Colorado Mountain Winefest” Sale at SQUARE MARKET FOR $20!

C. S. Vin, who was trained in French, German and Italian wines, has relied on his  background as a state wine retail manager and 30 years as a wine enthusiast to produce a valuable asset to those interested in wine in Colorado.  Written in a warm, entertaining and conversational style, Experiencing Colorado Wine — Vol. 1 (SRP $24.95, 5.5 x 8.5, 396 pages, ISBN 978-0-9835718-6-5) is available from “Experiencing Wine” on Square Market, at Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and wherever fine books are sold.  For more information, visit http://www.experiencingwine.com or call 720-271-1221.

 

From the Grand Valley AVA — A Nice Pinot Noir!

Creekside Cellars 2010 Pinot Noir Creekside 2010 Pinot Noir

Brian Cox (the grower) and Michelle Cleveland (winemaker at Creekside Cellars in Evergreen, Colorado) have presented us with a light Ruby wine — clear and brilliant, with a great balance of fruit and oak.  This delicate wine allows the nose to flag you of the influence of the fine wine lees, even if it is light.  Strawberry flavors coated in vanilla and spice notes together with the wine lees make for more complexity in what would otherwise be a simple wine.

Even a short rest on its lees (the fine lees not the gross lees) can add more complexity to a wine.  Semi-stable, colloidal phenolics (ultramicroscopic in size) settle and, even in small quantities, offer their aroma to the wine.  Each grape variety will change the aroma of the fine lees, so the fine lees for a Pinot Noir are different in character from that of another kind of red grape.  Is the complex nose showing us this delicate aroma along with all its other smells?  What do you discover?

The mouthfeel is typical of Michelle’s winemaking: soft, perfectly balanced, but with refreshing acid that does not dominate but emerges a little more on the finish.  The medium finish is clean and the fruit and oak carry through from sniff to swallow with persistence.

The Grand Valley AVA in Colorado is not known for Pinot Noir.  In fact the opposite is what we can normally expect from its Pinots: namely, the influence of too much intense heat that can turn a Pinot to jam.  Congratulations to Michelle for producing a fine Pinot Noir from what many say is not Pinot country.

Rating 85

Emotional rating is best made with Mozzarella and wine in hand.  You will be delighted.

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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.

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Salentein Vineyards Reserve Pinot Noir, 2010

IMG_1133Every wine is destined for a special dish.  It’s a summer evening in Colorado and we have just been driven off the spectacular deck at Willow Creek Restaurant in Evergreen, west of Denver, by a typical evening storm.  Inside, with the same spectacular view over the lake, we’ve ordered a wine from Argentina.

What peaks my interest is the note that the vineyards from which this Salentein wine comes  are at 4,265 feet above sea level in the foothills of the Andes.  Palisade vineyards in the Grand Valley AVA are around 4,600 feet.  Conditions are similar.  The soil in the Mendoza vineyard is stoney, much like those you can also find in the river benches of the Grand Valley.  However, the Argentinian season is long, as opposed to the short season in Colorado.  The differences, not the similarities, will be educational.  I will write about Creekside Cellars’ Pinot Noir (from the Grand Valley AVA in Colorado) next to explore these differences in these two examples of Pinot Noir.

The special dish?  Master Chef Curtis Lincoln has created a dish, which occurs regularly on the menu at Willow Creek, called Braised Rabbit Pappardelle.  It features the rabbit and pappardelle pasta with seasonal vegetables macedoine and a Pinot Noir sauce — absolutely delicious.  I tried it with the Salentein Pinot Noir and it was a match from heaven.  Here’s why…

The wine is a medium, bright ruby red — 100% Pinot Noir — featuring dark cherries, plums, blackberry, black tea, and (surprisingly) a touch of prune.  Cocoa and coffee with vanilla are on the nose and the finish.  The mid palate is fresh, with medium-soft tannins, and the balance is the outstanding feature of this inexpensive wine (which retails in stores at around $15).  The texture is light, but the dark fruit blends exceptionally well with the rich dark sauce of the dish.  Many Pinot’s would go well with this dish, but one with dark fruit and reminders of its oak residence (cocoa, coffee, vanilla) will go best.

What does this wine tell us about its location and terroir?  It seems to have been picked late and ripe, hence the darker fruit flavors.  The long season and intense heat of a high altitude sun would have contributed to the ripeness and darker fruit.  It is not your average Pinot Noir, being much darker in flavors, though still light and refreshing in structure.  Thicker skins are inevitable at higher altitudes — thats’ where the color comes from — and the long warm season is where the dark flavors originate.  When choosing a Pinot Noir, bear in mind the features of the location.

The winemakers of Sassicaia, a noteworthy Supertuscan in Italy, are behind this effort to make premium wines in Argentina.  See next week’s comparison to the Pinot Noir from the Grand Valley AVA in Colorado.

Details: 14.5% alcohol, 10 months in French oak, unfiltered.  

Rating:  85

Emotional rating with the dish, 90.

 

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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.

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A New Zealand Pinot Noir Comparison – Jules Taylor vs Oyster Bay


JULES TAYLOR 2012 PINOT NOIR TASTED IMG_1125AGAINST THE OYSTER BAY PINOT NOIR 2011

The leaner Oyster Bay Pinot Noir comes from a leaner soil:  more rocks, and you can taste the minerality in this wine.  The fruit is brighter.  The wine is lighter in texture and in color.  The result?  A marked difference in style to the Jules Taylor.

The Jules Taylor Pinot is bigger, with perhaps riper fruit, but the alcohol is 13.5% for both.  Where does the fuller mouthfeel come from?  From the darker fruit and most probably, without looking at the technicals, from a different oak treatment.  Structure has to do with the tannins, alcohol, glycerol, and flavor elements.  Different soils will also make for marked differences in the wine, especially when the grape is Pinot Noir.

Try to describe what it is that makes these two wines from the same region and the sameIMG_1123 grape so different, if a difference is what you detect.  Don’t forget, they are from different vintages.  Style, rather than vintage, has more to do with the difference, since I have tasted other vintages and the same differences appear.

We all need to know what style we like best. The discovery process should be pure pleasure.

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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.

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Book entertains, educates, and entices readers to experience Colorado wine

 

What Did You Taste – Jules Taylor 2012 Pinot Noir, Marlborough

Did you smell strawberry or raspberry?  Someone says strawberry and someone else says raspberry.  Whose right?  Probably both.  That’s not because a Pinot Noir can offer both IMG_1125flavors.  Its because our detection of aromas, although very capable, may recall strawberry to one person and raspberry to another.  Both aromas are berry smells.  But the wine is not pure berry, one or the other.

I detect other aromas in the wine.  Try it.  What do you get?  To me this Pinot is more raspberry in its fruity notes.  But I can also detect vanilla and that is changing the raspberry note and deepening it.

Humans don’t taste the whole spectrum of flavors.  We are all less able to detect one and more able to detect another.  One person could be more accurate in detecting berry flavors, for example.  What we had to eat or drink last might be still affecting our detection devices because we are already leaning toward those flavors and our memory has not “put them away.”  We also can detect aromas or flavors (I’m using the words synonymously here) at different intensities.  What if an element of the raspberry aroma is not recorded at equal intensity by another person?  That could account for their insistence that it is strawberry.

So, please don’t get into a fight about aromas.  The pleasure should be in what you smell, not in accuracy.  Now if we want to be more accurate, then we must train our noses.  Le Nez du Vin is a set of vials containing aromas that are detected in wine.  One can sharpen his ability to detect the aromas by using the vials daily.  Our olfactory neurons are renewed every 30 days or so.  Therefore, we can train our delicate detection devices.

Back to the wine, which I recommend as a great example of a Pinot Noir from Marlborough and that is richer, darker and comes from heavier soils than, say, the Oyster Bay Pinot Noir.  Try the two Pinot Noirs together (They won’t break the bank!) and see what I mean.  We will return to discuss the differences in these two Pinot Noirs in the next blog.

Jules Taylor 2012 Pinot Noir is 13.5%ABV.

Rating 90

Emotional rating, if you like the darker style of Pinot Noir, could be around a 95.

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Col Solare, 2009, Red Wine from the Columbia Valley

Col Solare

Antinori’s Super Tuscans, Solaia and Tignanello, and his marketing of Sassicaia helped turn the Italian wine industry upside down in the 1970s.  Partnering with Chateau Ste. Michelle, he created Col Solare (Italian for “shining hill”) in the Red Mountain AVA of the Columbia Valley, Washington.  Red-hued native grass that grows on the slopes of Red Mountain gives the mountain its name.

The 2009 Col Solare is rich, full of flavor, offers aromatics, and tastes of “crushed berries, cassis, black fruit, and tobacco along with a rich and silky palate and a lingering finish”  — according to the winemaker, and his description is right on target.  However, for a wine that costs (at time I purchased it) $75, it has one disappointing feature that may have an explanation but is still something I want you to be aware of in a wine.

Served at 61 degrees, the aromas were very impressive when the cork was popped, but they began to fade a little in 30 minutes and continued to disappear over the next two hours.  Two other comparable wines did not.  Col Solare seemed to “tighten” more as time went by.  True, gripping tannins frame this wine’s rich flavors, and it may be that they were hiding the fruit.  More age will soften the tannins and perhaps allow the fruit more freedom of expression, so taste this wine in a few years.  It may also be that this vintage was not the best for the microclimate.  The finish is long and all signs of quality are there except for the one described above.  Oh, so wonderful and promising on its opening, but a quality wine should hold its aromas longer, in my opinion, if they are so full and rich for the first 30 minutes.  We must wait and see what happens as it ages.

I like this AVA.  The small berries and ideal terroir combine to produce the possibility of wines of great distinction.  Watch this winery too.  It could unfold to be one of the best in the nation.

Did I enjoy the wine?  Yes, very much.   Share and drink it with rich food to compliment its richness but, as of now, don’t expect it to be the same the next day.

Details: 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec.  14.5% alcohol. 

Rating:  90.  It would have been two points higher if it had kept its powerful and rich first impression.

No emotional rating yet.

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When a Wine’s Aroma Entices and It’s Smooth Mouthfeel Seduces, It May Be Rousanne

Ojai Vineyard Tasting RoomOjai, Santa Maria Valley, Bien Nacido Vineyard, 2013 Roussanne 

There are few places on earth in which the Rousanne grape has found great favor.  The recent surge in its popularity both in France and in California is due to its enticing aroma and smooth mouthfeel.

This wine will demonstrate how a wine can add to its attractiveness by offering something different or more to the taste, and even on the finish, from the aroma.

The aroma is haunting, capturing you with reminders of pear, peach, and apple.  The acid and alcohol lie in the shadows, waiting their turn to reveal themselves and allowing the fruit to take center stage.  Then on the taste, the alcohol begins to play its part, offering a fullness behind the creamy texture.   The mouthfeel is soft and the fruit has blended into a pleasant, fresh, stone fruit impression.

On the finish is where the acid at last comes to the fore and leaves you with a vibrant experience.  Overall, this bright gold wine is very pleasant and is a great example of the Roussanne grape.

Rating 90

Emotional rating:  Will depend on what type of wine you love, but if you love appealing aromas and vibrant finishes this wine will shine.

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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.

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Book entertains, educates, and entices readers to experience Colorado wine