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Thursday, May 12, 2011

2009 Robert Mondavi Winery Fume Blanc

Fume Blanc (pronounced FYU-may) was first developed by Robert Mondavi many years ago.  While others have tried to imitate this wine, it is the quality of consistency of this Fume Blanc from the Robert Mondavi Winery that has made it a classic - and the 2009 is no different.  The 2009 vintage is made of 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Semillon, resulting in striking aromas of citrus fruit, mango, vanilla and peaches.  The mouthfeel is very creamy and well balanced, providing flavors of peach, nectarine, sweet vanilla cream and just a hint of lime.  This is a classic warm weather wine, but can be paired well with a variety of light dishes without issue.  

About Robert Mondavi Winery:
The Robert Mondavi Winery was founded in 1966 and is considered one of the pinnacle landmarks of the Napa Valley.  Director of Winemaking, Genevieve Janssens, was named the 2010 Wine Star Winemaker of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

ABV:  13.8%
AVA:  Napa Valley
Retail Price:  $20.00
Score:  90

2009 Benton-Lane Winery Pinot Noir

The 2009 Benton-Lane Winery Pinot Noir is a medium red fragrant wine with aromas of cherries, blackberries, damp earth and a touch of rose petal.  The wine is medium bodied but the wonderful ripe flavors explode in the mouth, creating a mouth watering party with fresh strawberry pie, blueberries, plum and currant.  This young wine is vivacious and exciting and you can drink it for many years.  The price on this wine is a mere $26 retail, which is exceptional for this kind of Oregon Pinot Noir quality.

About Benton-Lane Winery:
Most of the wines at Benton-Lane are made from estate grown fruit.  This Williamette Valley winery employs low impact vineyard techiques such as precision in-row cultivation and planting of diverse cover crops with deter erosion and return nutrients to the soil.

ABV:  13.55%
AVA:  Williamette Valley
Cases Produced:  19823
Retail Price:  $26.00
Score:  91

2009 Benton-Lane Winery Pinot Gris

Most people think of Pinot from Oregon - Pinot Noir.  But this 2009 Pinot Gris from Benton-Lane Winery is something you need to check out.  You get tons of fresh peaches, candied apples and damp gravel road on the nose, and the peaches carry over in the mouth to combine with grapefruit and honeysuckle.  There is just a small twist of lime at the end to provide the lively acidity you expect from a quality Pinot Gris, leaving you with an exciting and lingering finish. 

About Benton-Lane Winery:
This family owned Oregon winery is certified sustainable by the L.I.V.E. organization.  They are also Salmon Safe certified!  For years, Benton-Lane has been using screwcap closures on their wine to ensure that customers are getting the same high standard of wine from bottling to drinking without the risk of moldy or musty odors that sometimes come from a tainted cork.

ABV:  13.85%
AVA:  Williamette Valley
Cases Produced:  5042
Retail Price:  $17.00
Score:  90

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

2007 Bugay Cabernet Sauvignon The Empress

One of the first things that struck me about this bottle (and all Bugay bottles for that matter) is just how gorgeous they are.  While most writers won't comment on the packaging, we all know that packaging does play an integral part in many of the purchasing decisions of consumers - and Bugay gets it!  This nearly black wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (75%), Cabernet Franc (10%), Petit Verdot (8%), Malbec (5%) and Merlot (2%) and is 100% estate fruit.  The 2007 vintage has full aromas of blackberry, cassis, herbs and mocha.  In the mouth is a full bodied flavor arena of blackberry pie, lightly roasted coffee bean, earth, cassis, sweet vanilla and dark cherries.  The tannins are small and the finish is as smooth as glass and very long.  This wine is delicious and can be enjoyed now or for many years to come.  This wine is unfined and will continue to develop flavors in the bottle.

About Bugay Wines & Vineyards:
John and Reta Bugay insist on producing exceptional wines using their own estate fruit.  They produce a wide variety of great tasting wines at all price points and sell them directly to consumers on their web site.

ABV:  14.2%
AVA:  Sonoma County
Cases Produced:  575
Retail Price:  $75.00
Score:  94

Sunday, May 8, 2011

2007 Krupp Brothers Black Bart Syrah Stagecoach Vineyard

The 2007 Krupp Brothers Black Bart Syrah is a blend of 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier from the Stagecoach Vineyard of Napa Valley.  Nearly black in color, this wine has expressive aromas of red raspberry, blueberry, bacon, cooked game and tanned leather.  The palate provides wonderfully intense flavors of blueberry syrup, ripe blackberries, smoky oak, sweet vanilla, sweet spices and a hint of cherry candy.  The medium and well polished tannins provide structure and depth.  This wine tips the scale at 15.6 ABV but is not fumey in any way.  This wine has great legs and an incredibly long and satisfying finish.  This wine was tasted after about 30 minutes of air time in the glass and the aromas after swirling reach right down to your core.  Incredible!  I don't know if Syrah could be made any better.

About Krupp Brothers:
Krupp Brothers produces three different brands.  Each brand (Veraison, Black Bart and Krupp) has its unique style, but all three brands share a structure and complexity from the terroir from where they are born. 

ABV:  15.6%
AVA:  Napa Valley
Retail Price:  $60.00
Score:  96

2009 Pine Ridge Vineyards Forefront Pinot Noir

The 2009 Pine Ridge Vineyards Forefront Pinot Noir is young and approachable now, but will develop further flavors in the bottle for the next 2-3 years.  Medium red in the glass, this Pinot Noir presents you with red raspberries, cooked plums, cherries and earth on the nose.  The palate is equally as enticing with tons of red raspberries and blackberries, cherry cola and sweet cedar with a gentle spice on the finish.  Smooth micro tannins allow this to be popped and poured, but you will love yourself if you drink one now and one later!

About Forefront Wines:
Forefront Wines is owned by the Andrus family, also of Pine Ridge Vineyards.  Over the last three decades the Andrus family has challenged convention by bringing the practice of reduced vine spacing to Napa Valley from Burgundy, by introducing Dijon clones to Carneros and by hiring one of the region's first women winemakers.

ABV:  14.1%
Retail Price:  $24.00
Score:  92

2009 Luminous Hills Estate Grown Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton District

This 2009 estate grown Pinot Noir from Luminous Hills is a dark and sexy stunner with bright cherry and strawberry on the nose, violets and a touch of mint.  On the palate is a mouth watering blend of red fruits, sweet smoky vanilla, flower petals, and earth.  A definitive spice jumps on board mid palate and all of the flavors mingle with a fleshy backbone before the long and lingering medium tannic finish.  This young Pinot is great now, but will develop further in the bottle and can easily cellar for 10 years or more.  This is how Oregon Pinot Noir should be made.

About Luminous Hills:
The Luminous Hills label wines can be found at the Seven of Hearts Wine web site.  Byron Dooley delivers artisanal Pinot Noir under the Luminous Hills label in small quantities.  Dana Dooley also owns and operates Honest Chocolates and shares a space in the Seven of Hearts tasting room.  Wine and chocolate?  Sounds like my kind of place!

ABV:  15.0%
AVA:  Yamhill-Carlton District

Cases Produced:  357
Retail Price:  $28.00
Score:  93

2009 Kathryn Kennedy Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is the first white wine made by the Kathryn Kennedy Winery.  The 2009 vintage is an incrdible sharp and tasty wine that could easily set the standard for other Sauvignon Blanc from California.  On the nose is a vibrant array of aromas - lemon, kiwi, clover and grapefruit.  The palate showcases lemon candy, a touch of honeydew, passion fruit and orange peel.  This wine has a lot of strength and vigor and is very refreshing.  Most people serve Sauvignon Blanc well chilled, but I generally taste them slightly chilled to capture all of the flavor combinations.  This wine is complex and expertly made.  This will pair great with shellfish this summer, so get it while you can!  Made with organic grapes!

About Kathryn Kennedy Winery:
Marty Mathis is the winemaker and son of the late Kathryn Kennedy.  While Kathryn was a wine pioneer in her own right, it was Marty's foreward thinking and risk taking that brought this winery to near cult status.  The Kathryn Kennedy Winery is the Winery of the Month here at Midwest Wine Guy!

ABV:  13.5%
AVA:  Santa Cruz Mountains
Retail Price:  $22.00
Score:  92

2009 Argento Malbec

This 2009 Argento Malbec has great things going for it - it tastes good, it can be found just about anywhere, it is priced for everyone, and has a QR code!  This medium bodied wine that combines plums, blackberries, chocolate, figs and vanilla on the nose and palate.  The flavors ramp up towards the end and blend with spices and smooth tannins for a silky and flavorful finish. 

About Argento Wine:
Argento Wine has gone interactive, adding a QR code to the Cellar Key on this wine.  With a smart phone you can scan the code and instantly watch a video about this wine, including food pairings.  This is a great idea and one that consumers should embrace!

ABV:  13.9%
Retail Price:  $13.00
Score:  88

2009 Talbott Vineyards Kali Hart Chardonnay

The 2009 Kali Hart Chardonnay from Talbott Vineyards is made from 100% estate grown fruit.  This wine has tropical fruit and violets on the nose in a pale yellow wine with green hues.  The color is almost mistaken for Sauvignon Blanc, but the flavors definitely are not.  This wine is light at first with a crisp balance of tangerine, lemon pie, guava and melon in the mouth.  It is refreshing and the wine moves to a more giving mid to back palate with minerals and a hint of sweetness.

About Talbott Vineyards:
The original winery was planted in 1982 under the Diamond T name.  In 1994 the Talbotts acquired the Sleepy Hollow Vineyard, making Talbott an all-estate winery.  The Kali Hart Chardonnay is named after Robb Talbott's youngest daughter.

ABV:  14.9%
AVA:  Monterey
Retail Price:  $19.00
Score:  88

2007 Alante Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Roman's Vintage

The 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Roman's Vintage from Alante is an exquisite and regal Napa Valley Cabernet with tons of flavor and finesse.  A lot of great wines came out of Napa Valley from the 2007 growing season, and this wine is no exception.  This dark red/medium purple wine is bursting with aromas of raspberries, black cherries, milk chocolate, spicy oak, warm vanilla, cinnamon toast and minerals.  The chocolate integrates seamlessly with the red fruit flavors and there is a mild spicy peppery finish that combines with the fine polished tannins for structure and stability.  Incredibly silky and smooth with a full bodied finish that is both long and mouth watering.  Easily approachable now if you want to enjoy these layers of flavor.  This wine is cellar worthy and can be enjoyed for the next 15 years or more.

About Alante Vineyard:
Alante Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon is a single vineyard wine produced meticulously by the Van den Bosch family.  Winemaker Paul Colantuoni uses a traditional approach to winemaking, allowing the wines to develop the personalities of the vineyards where the grapes are grown.  The Roman's Vintage Cabernet Sauvignon is named in honor of the Van den Bosch's first grandson, who arrived in 2007.

ABV:  15.4%
AVA:  Saint Helena
Retail Price:  $74.00
Score:  94

2007 Abacela Estate Tempranillo

The 2007 Estate Tempranillo from Abacela Vineyards & Winery is their 11th release.  Decanted.  Red-purple ink in the glass, the wine initially presents itself with very ripe blackberries and black cherries combined with Mediterranean spices.  The palate presents warm and ripe black fruits, spices of sage, nutmeg and white pepper, and dried rose petal.  There are great flavor separations going on here that eventually combine with refined tannins to create a structured and lingering wine.  This wine can be enjoyed now or within the next 10 years.

About Abacela Vineyards & Winery:
Abacela's ultimate objective is to produce wines that are a statement of the harmony between the grape variety and unique terroir.  They passionately grow Tempranillo (their flagship wine), Albarino, Syrah, Merlot, Dolcetto, Malbec, Grenache and other varietals that match their microclimate.

ABV:  14.4%
AVA:  Umpqua Valley

Cases Produced:  532
Retail Price:  $35.00
Score:  92

2008 Brooks Amycas White Table Wine

The 2008 Amycas white table wine from Brooks Wine is a fragrant blend of Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Muscat, Gewurztraminer and Riesling grapes.  Each grape brings its own personality to this wine, and the aroma profile consists of peaches, kiwi, minerals, spring flowers and stewed apricots.  In the mouth is intense minerality with tropical fruits, and exotic spices that are weighted by stone fruits and balanced acidity for crispness and a nice structured finish.  Best served well chilled.  This is a great summer wine!

About Brooks Wines:
Founded by Portland native Jimi Brooks in 1998.  Jimi's passion and spirit lives on in each bottle of wine.  Jimi's son Pascal and his sister Janie Brooks Heuck are guided by the legacies that Jimi left, including his gentle approach to winemaking.

ABV:  13.1%
AVA:  Williamette Valley
Cases Produced:  1050
Retail Price:  $15.00
Score:  89

2009 Anam Cara Cellars Nicholas Estate Riesling

If you're looking for a Riesling that is full of elegance and flavors without that overly sweet or syrupy feel, the 2009 Nicholas Estate Riesling from Anam Cara Cellars might just be what you're looking for.  Peaches, pears and hints of citrus fruits are at the forefront of the nose in this medium golden colored wine.  The palate is a smooth and creamy beginning with concentrated flavors of ripe pears, cantelope, nutmeg and baked apples.  The dry style of this wine works well with the flavors and provides a medium-crisp wine with a defined and lingering finish. 

About Anam Cara Cellars:
The back label of the 2009 Nicholas Estate Riesling carries the new International Riesling Foundation Taste Profile.  This is a voluntary option that Anam Cara Cellars has elected to add to their label.  They are among one of the first wineries in Oregon to include this on their label.

ABV:  13.5%
AVA:  Chehalem Mountains
Retail Price:  $20.00
Cases Produced:  390
Score:  91

2008 ROCO Winery Pinot Noir Williamette Valley

Bright red and fruit forward on the nose, accented by chocolate covered mint and vanilla bean.  The palate is a creamy feeling of blackberry and cherry fruits with delicate additions of raw earth and minerals.  The flavors in the wine keep charging at you until you reach a very rewarding and solid finish with well polished tannins and just the right amount of spices.  This wine is drinking incredibly well right now.

About ROCO Winery:
Owned by Rollin Soles and his wife Corby Stonebraker-Soles, ROCO (rock-oh) Winery has been producing fine wines for more than 20 years.  In this time they have had the distinction of being ranked among the Top 100 Wines of the World by Wine Spectator eleven times.  Rollin Soles is the only Oregon winemaker to hold this distinction.

ABV:  13.7%
AVA:  Williamette Valley
Cases Produced:  1680
Retail Price:  $30.00
Score:  93

2009 Cubanisimo Vineyards Rumba Pinot Noir

Soft and supple are two words that describe this wine at first.  Dark crimson in the glass, this 2009 Rumba Pinot Noir from Cubanisimo Vineyards is easily approachable now or in the near future.  You get a soft Pinot Noir with the classic nose and flavors at an attractive price.  This wine is a good daily drinker and will provide you with flavors of strawberry, cherry and tinder box with fine tannins and a nice lingering finish.  If you're looking for an Oregon Pinot Noir with flavor without breaking the bank, you should consider this one.  Made from approximately 40% estate fruit and 60% purchased fruit.

About Cubanisimo Vineyards:
Cubanisimo Vineyards was founded by Dr. Mauricio Collada Jr long after his fascination of wine making turned from a hobby while in med school.  Mauricio had a passion for Pinot Noir and found the perfect place to make it - in Oregon.  In 1986 he purchased a 21 acre parcel in the Eola-Amity Hills and hasn't looked back since.

ABV:  12.7%
AVA:  Williamette Valley
Retail Price:  $20.00
Score:  89

2009 Methven Family Vineyards Riesling

The 2009 Riesling from Methven Family Vineyards of Oregon is a golden wine with bright aromas of pear, apple pie and spring flowers.  The palate is a fuller bodied and crisp wine with great flavor combinations - apple, pear, peach, lime and minerals.  The finish is semi sweet and long and this wine will pair very well with a wide variety of foods, including grilled chicken and pork tenderloin. 

About Methven Family Vineyards:
The Methven family hand selects the grapes for their wines, which are created in small lots.  The grapes from their boutique wines come from Williamette Valley and the Eola-Amity Hills districts of Oregon.

ABV:  13.2%
AVA:  Williamette Valley
Retail Price:  $20.00
Score:  90

2009 Seven of Hearts Coupe's Cuvee Pinot Noir Dessert Wine

I was intrigued by this bottle and very eager to taste it.  Once I had a sip I knew I had to share this with a buddy of mine who is really into Pinot Noir.  We both agreed that this was an incredible bottle of wine.  Tasted from a 375ml bottle, this wine was medium red in the glass and had a muted nose of raspberry and light spices.  The palate was a very rich and flavorful combination of strawberry, red raspberry, cranberry and light brown sugar with a hint of spice.  Very reminiscent of a port wine but with a lighter body.  This was tasted at room temperature but would be enjoyed with a wide variety of desserts well chilled - very versatile and incredibly tasty!

About Seven of Hearts:
Byron and Dana Dooley create small lot hand crafted wines from the Columbia Valley AVA of Oregon and Washington, as well as the Yamhill-Carlton AVA.  The label represents Seven, the Dooley's beloved cat.

ABV:  17.2%
AVA:  Williamette Valley

Retail Price:  $22.00 (375 ml)
Cases Produced:  63
Score:  93

2009 Chatte D'Avignon Viognier & Rousanne

Pale to medium straw color in the glass, this blend of Viognier (54%) and Rousanne (46%) has a very fragrant nose of stone fruits, cooked marshmallow and lemon meringue.  Medium bodied, this wine is not overly sweet, and is full of tropical fruit flavors, lemon zest, ginger and soft cheese in the mouth.  This could be a versatile food wine for the warmer months.  I would recommended consuming within the next 18 months for the best enjoyment. 

About Seven of Hearts:
You can find wines from the Chatte D'Avignon, Seven of Hearts and Luminous Hills labels on their web site.  They create a wide array of wines from Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Grenache and an incredible Pinot Noir dessert wine!

AVA:  Columbia Valley, OR
ABV:  14.5%
Retail Price:  $18.00
Cases Produced:  217
Score:  88