Two glasses of red wine with bottle

The Wine: Malbec – An Interesting Expression

Creekside Cellars’, Grand Valley AVA

Malbec has a distinct reputation. Based on consistently offered and often ‘popular’ wine expressions, specific grapes tend to take on ‘expected’ characteristics that can mislead us into expectations that will limit our experiences.  If your taste expectations are open to adventure, the Malbec we are about to discuss will take you to a beautiful and less common expression of this wine grape.

The Wine’s Nose:

The dark side of black currant and the depth of its blackberry form a firm base to this wine.  Floral tones of violet are a pleasant surprise.  Oak tones of vanilla and toast add a complexity that makes this wine fuller than the alcohol percentage of 13.8 would indicate.

The Wine’s Body:

As with many well-made, medium to full bodied red wines (not judged by the alcoholic content but by the fulness of flavor and the wine’s weight), the aromas transform themselves into a few more notable flavors on the palate.  Dark chocolate dominates in this luscious experience of chocolate and blackberry, deep fruit and rich oak.  A smooth creamy texture owes most of its creaminess to the blend of flavors and balance of the mouthfeel.

The Wine’s Finish:

The finish is long and the tannins can do with more time to fully integrate.  This fact indicates that the wine has some good days ahead.

Beautiful Wine Expression, But Not the Typical Malbec

But what is so notable in this wine is the expression of the Malbec grape.  Neither Cot (the name for the French Malbec) nor the Argentinian version of the grape are where this Grand Valley expression has gone.  Expressive, yet it displays a reserve, offering its flavors slowly from opening to a day later.  Malbec has a name for being a rough or earthy red, but this wine  dismisses that reputation and shows how delicate such a wine can be.

Rating:  89-90

Emotional rating:  better a day later than on the first day, but engaging.

Availability:  From the winery.

White Cabernet Sauvignon! A Wine Surprise!

Coral — White Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015 ColterrisGlass of rose with vintage books and pearls.

Wine, when vinified  in out-of-the-ordinary expressions, can produce wonderful and welcome surprises!  This is one of those wines.  How many white Cabernet Sauvignons have you tried?  Coral is an elegant expression of that grape and comes from the Grand Valley AVA in Colorado.

Here’s My Take on this White Cabernet Sauvignon!

Take a walk through a flower garden.  The floral aromas are delicate and very appealing.  A low 12.3% alcohol adds to the appeal of a wine designed to be refreshing and my reaction to this wine is not to analyze it, but to simply to enjoy it.  I want to keep sipping!  With a sugar level at 6.1 g/L, it is not over done and the acids are mild and not oppressive.  I love the color!

Imagine under what circumstances you could enjoy this wine?  It is a wine that fulfills what light rosé wines are meant to be.  When Cabernet Sauvignon is lightly crushed and removed from the skins early, the dark fruits that characterize Cab in most climates fail to take the stage and the red fruits that are also a part of this grape’s profile are left to take a delicate bow.  Applaud!

See these wines for what they are meant to be:  the sanguines of the wine world, the lighthearted champions of pleasure and the drum roll for the entrance of spontaneous happiness.

Enjoy! And then enjoy again!

Rating: 89

Emotional rating:  What you need to feel great again!

Availability:  Ask at your local store.

Wine Presentation Affects Wine Experience

Washington State Vineyards

Washington State Vineyards

Chateau Ste Michelle Mimi 2014, Horse Heaven Hills 14% alcohol

Wine presentation that does not make the most of the wine’s character reduces the enjoyment of the wine experience.  Let’s explore this concept with an experience that is improved by an understanding of wine presentation.  The featured wine comes from the very good Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard in the famous Washington State region of Horse Heaven Hills.  This suggestions offered are not general advice but the knowledge you can gain from experiencing the wine yourself.   Therefore, buy two bottles.  Experience the first and then maximize the experience by proper wine presentation when you serve the second bottle to your guests.

Let’s start with this wine and learn how to serve it.

Let’s taste it:  lightly oaked, but while it displays an immediate first whiff of its oak residence, you need to patiently wait and continue to taste it.  Pineapple and starfruit mingle on the nose with an apple base that is not ripe apple or green apple, but a fresh acidic apple that adds to the wine’s appeal.  A hint of creme fraiche makes the wine lightly creamy and that creaminess follows through to the finish.

But wait.  Within 15 minutes that aroma is fading and the oak factor fades first.  However, it holds the oak and the flavors on the palate and they intensify on the finish.  So, given this experience with the wine and other noticeable factors, how might we maximize this wine’s character?

Wine Presentation Factors to Consider when Serving this wine:

  • Don’t open the wine ahead of time.
  • Use bowl shaped glasses that are designed for oaked chardonnay as this will show the wine’s aromas at their best and help hold the aromas longer.
  • Don’t serve this wine too cold.  Try 58-60 degrees since anything less than that will not show the wine at its best.
  • When too cold, the oak aromas are lost and at a higher temperature, they come through wonderfully — not bold, but with finesse.

Experiencing a wine provides the knowledge of how to serve it.  Follow this path and you will experience wines at their best.

Rating:  88-89

Emotional rating:  With the right presentation, it can be rewarding.

Availability:  Widely available.

Wine Structure – Bareness to Architectural Beauty

still life with red wine with barrel on old wood

What has structure to do with a good experience of wine?

Wine structure has about the same impact on the wine experience as what could be your experience with a house.  If the structure is weak, that pretty house might fall and bury you.  Poorly structured wine is not as disastrous, but the experience can be very disappointing.  To some tasters, aromas are the wine; to others, structure is equally important.

Let’s examine some aspects of wine structure.

In a pleasant setting with good friends, I ordered a Cabernet Sauvignon to go with the food and on my first sniff of the wine, I knew the worst.  Bare structure!  Why is that so important?  Well, let me explain.  Back to the house analogy.  The structure has to be strong enough to hold up all of the finishings and decorations that are affixed to the structure.  The finishings and decorations of a wine are the fruit aromas and delicate nuances.  The structure is the framework on which they are displayed: namely, it is the weight, texture, tannin, acid, and in this case, oak flavors that laid a savory base on which the delicate fruit can be appreciated.

However, in this case, disaster had struck.

A practice used by winemakers who want to keep the alcohol down (when the grapes have been left to hang in order to achieve rounder, fuller and in some cases darker fruit flavors) is to water the wine down.  Riper fruit means higher alcohol in most cases.  By watering the wine down, the winemaker gets a lower alcohol reading as the percentage of water to alcohol increases.  But a side effect occurs:  fruit flavors are more delicate than heavy oak flavors and as water is added, the  structural element that is the first to go is the fruit flavors.  Oak flavors are left to dominate and the search for fruit flavors becomes a challenge.  “No fruit, no future; little fruit, little future,” as the maxim says and you are left with bare structure or the studs of the wall without sheetrock, texture and paint.  Therefore, pretty pictures have no place to hang.  Gone are the fruit aromas and the wine seems all studs and framework.  Because fruit finishes the wine’s appeal,  when it is all fruit and no structure, the wine is structurally weak and one glass can be too much.  A balance and a delicate leaning to display the wine’s character is what makes the experience of the wine one of architectural balance and appealing beauty.

With the next wine you taste, read this short article and that wine to discern the wine’s structure.

Wine Aromas – What to Expect and Not to Expect

Close up portrait of young couple at wine tasting. Man and woman smelling wine with eyes closed.Are the descriptions of wine biased toward the descriptions of the wine’s aromas?  Some would say yes and some, no.  Aromas are one of the great delights of wine.  They can vary and present much excitement with every new bottle.  What would wine be if it had little variation in aromas?

But because of this significant attraction, aromas are the selling point for lots of buyers.  Hence, the aromas are emphasized and sales focus on them.  Perhaps the competition for aromas is the point system, which can outdo the effect of aromas and secure a sale quickly.  That’s a pity since aromas are what you experience, not a number.

Most wine lovers want expressive and intense aromas.  But that is unfair.  Some grapes have a low aromatic profile, yet they are classic grapes.  Intensity of aroma is not everything.   Again, some aromas are so well married to each other that they create an impression that is difficult to discern.  A new and attractive aroma is created and only when on the palate can it for the first time be discerned as showing fruit or oak.  It is also a complex aroma and can be one of the most exciting experiences.

The number of aromas is not an indication of quality in itself.  Aromas feed the emotional response more than other elements.  Smoothness and balance is a strong second.  Seek to develop a sensitivity to the various aromas of both fruit and oak and the aromas that result from a blend of the two plus the effects of fermentation.  We all love those aromas and the more you learn about them, the better taster you will become.

What wine will you explore next?  What  will you experience of the wine’s aromas?