Saturday, February 17, 2024

Gala Family Birthday Celebration features fun novelty namesake wine

Gala Family Birthday Celebration features fun novelty namesake label wine

Son Alec and D-in-law Vivianna hosted a gala family birthday celebration for grand-daughter Marylin's second birthday. 

Family and friends gathered for beef tenderloin, shrimp cocktail, a selection of artisan cheeses and charcuterie, dips, fresh fruit, salads, and, of course, birthday cake and ice cream.

Alec pulled from his wine cellar several white and red wines for the occasion. As is customary in what is becoming somewhat of a tradition, I pulled from our cellar a novelty namesake wine as well. 

Hill Family Estate Vineyards Napa Valley Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

We featured Hill Family Estate Vineyards in these pages in detail last March in this blogpost - Hill Family Estate Napa Cabernet 2018.
We wrote about how As newlyweds, son Alec and Vivianna visited Hill Family Estate during their forest fire shortened honeymoon in Napa a year ago September. They visited the new Hill Family Estate winery, located just minutes south of Yountville just off Ste Helena Highway 29, the western main artery of Napa Valley. They tasted this wine there and since then have acquired wines as part of their wine club allocations.

Doug Hill founded Hill Family estate vineyards back in 1977 when he acquired his first vineyards. Since then, eleven different vineyard locations have been added to the Hill Family Estate portfolio, mostly in Napa Valley and its environs now covering more than 100 acres in numerous significant sub-appellations within Napa Valley.

For nearly four decades, the fruit was sold to the likes of Far Niente Winery, Silver Oak Cellars, Duckhorn Vineyards, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Caymus Vineyards, Cakebread Cellars and a host of other winery luminaries. Hill Family grapes were considered among the finest grown in the prestigious Napa Valley. 

Around the turn of the century, Ryan and Carly Hill approached their father with the vision to establish the family winery with the family name on it. Hill Family Estate was born in 2001 with the first fruit that would become Hill Family Estate wines. A total of around 980 cases were produced and released in 2004. The new brand was immediately acclaimed and gained national prominence with numerous Awards and industry plaudits. 

Hill Family Estate winemaker Alison Doran joined the team and crafted the inaugural 2001 vintage. Alison was introduced to  Doug while he was growing grapes and she was making wine for Lewis Cellars, another one of our benchmark favorite producers, and the other estate visit tasting the kids attended during their shortened honeymoon. Alison  developed her skill while being mentored by renowned wine expert Andre Tchelistcheff, completing a degree in winemaking at UC Davis and spending time in the legendary  wine region of Alsace, France. Today, Doug and  Alison work closely together selecting the highest quality  grapes and producing ultra premium wines

Today, the Hill Family owns 120 acres of vineyards  with properties on Atlas Peak, in Carneros, Oak Knoll and American Canyon. They are 100% family-farmed, family-owned and  family-operated.Production ranges between 9,000 to 12,000 cases  annually sourced from 12 different estate vineyards allowing them to select the  highest quality fruit for their wines.  

The Hill Family portfolio has grown to over twenty five different labels across the broad range of varietals, blends, and single vineyard designated offerings.  
Hill Family Estate opened a tasting facility in downtown Yountville, directly down from the famous French Laundry Restaurant of Chef Thomas Keller and Keller’s Bouchon Restaurant, a classical French bistro also located in Yountville where Ryan Hill was formerly a sommelier.  

We've had several Hill Family Estate wines with Alec and Vivianna and I believe this may have been the best label so far. 

We had another one of their special limited release premium labels available to Hill Family Diamond Club members that Alec acquired as part of Alec's club allocation during Father's Day Grilled Steak Wine Dinner last year. 

Winemaker notes - This release was blended from fruit from several Hill Family Napa Valley vineyard sources. The high elevation Baker Vineyard up on Atlas Peak at 1,200 ft. providing intense tannins and color, was blended with vineyards from the valley floor and cooler areas - Windy Flats on the western foothills in Wooden Valley, and Beau Terroir is in the Carneros foothills. Also included in the blend was fruit sourced from Beau Terre, Hansen, and Villagio vineyards on the valley floor. Added to the blend was some Malbec and Merlot to add complexity of aromas on the nose along with fruit and oak spice, and finally some Syrah to add density without astringency.

"Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon is accumulating a well-deserved reputation for intensity and finesse. At 1,500 ft. elevation, the Baker vineyard is a series of different volcanic soil types carved out of heavy chaparral in Foss Valley with a southwestern exposure, featuring several clones and rootstalks selected for their suitability to the thin, rocky soil. 2018 had nice rainfall and a long growing season, with bloom in early June, and veraison around August 14. The Cabernet Sauvignon had big color and big tannins and showed off the potential of the site and to create elegance and complexity. We did an optical sort and used F15 yeast, letting the fermentation reach 97 degrees at its highest point. Atlas Peak is not for everyone. It needs to settle down and evolve for a while in bottle to soften and broaden the structure. But for the collector who wants to see their investment pay off, this wine is ready to age and grow for a long time."

:The 2018 Atlas Peak Cabernet Sauvignon aromas burst out, with many layers of cassis, mocha, sage and blackberry. Mountain tannins underlie the midpalate and persist to the end The palate is dense and focused, with mountain tannins and plenty of structure that will act as scaffolding for this wine to grow in the future."

Interesting that Atlas Peak has emerged as a favorite in another wine tasting of several labels from the same vintage release including this gala winemaker tasting event -
Some other wines from this sub-appellation -
I found this dark inky purple garnet colored, full bodied with bold, full round complex expressive ripe black berry, raspberry and black currant fruits with a layer of soft sweet mocha, with notes of spice, floral and hints of cassis on a lingering tongue puckering tangy acidity silky tannin laced finish. 

RM 93 points.

Gathering of clan McNees for
family birthday celebration

Nova Wines Napa Valley Marilyn Merlot 2011 

We then opened from our cellar a (almost) namesake wine for grand-daughter Marylin that we have fun with for these occasions. We featured Marilyn Merlot and their portfolio of wines in these pages in earlier blogposts including this one back in 2014 - Marilyn Merlot and Norma Jean Wines - A Study in Branding

The 2011 features a relaxed, playful image of Marilyn Monroe in a green, low-cut blouse, short black skirt and timeless fishnet stockings with black peep-toe pumps. Like the wine, a fashion that never goes out of style.

Winemaker’s Note: The 2011 vintage Marilyn Merlot is the 27th release of this fine wine. It is a straight Merlot this year . The wine was aged in 100% oak barrels, 35% of which were new for this vintage. Aromas of Ripe Strawberry and cherries, primarily thyme and lavender complement the oak components of vanilla and smoke from the wood. Moderate alcohol and good acidity make this wine a good pairing with fine foods. Vineyard loc ations for this wine are from our longtime growers in Yountville and Oakville regions of the Napa V alley. -- John McKay."

:With a resurgence of interest for our 25th/SILVER ANNIVERSARY in 2011, and the sexy Red Dress in 2012, people continue to talk about the quality and collectability of Marilyn Merlot,” says Donna Holder, an owner of Marilyn Wines, "but Marilyn wouldn't have just collected these wines, she would have drunk them." That’s because “the wine lives up to its reputation, plush, soft, and sultry" according to Leslie Sbrocco, author of "Wine for Women". And when they try it, reviewers admit to “surprise” at the high quality."

We have fun with these wines and find them okay for casual sipping on such occasions. 
At a dozen years of age, this was dark ruby colored, medium bodied and taking on some of the non-fruit characteristics of a Bordeaux varietal late in its tasting window with earthy woodiness and some smoke and leather setting in taking over from the brambly black berry notes. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Ferrari Sparkling and Spring Valley Uriah with Valentine's Day Filet of Beef Surf & Turf Dinner

Ferrari Sparkling and Spring Valley Uriah with Valentine's Day Filet of Beef Surf & Turf Dinner

For a quiet intimate relaxing Valentine’s dinner, Linda prepared surf & turf, Filet of Beef and Lobster Tails in ramekins of buttered bread crumbs with braised roasted potatoes. 

We opened a Ferrari Rose Champagne style sparkling wine for the chopped salad starter and lobster tail course, followed by one of our favorite Right Bank Bordeaux varietal red blends. 

Ferrari Rose Champagne NV

While seen on the winner's podium as the official toast of Formula 1® races, Ferrari Trento bears no relation to the car manufacturer, but plays up on the name, and provides the celebratory bubbly sprayed by and upon the auto racing victors.

Giulio Ferrari, a Trentino native, started his venerable sparkling wine house in 1902, after studying winemaking in France. Convinced that his native region’s terroir was ideal for growing Chardonnay, he produced three of his now best-known cuvées – Ferrari Brut, Perlé and Giulio Ferrari – as blanc de blancs. 

Ferrari wines consistently receive some of Italy’s top accolades, including being awarded Tre Bicchieri 22 years in a row.

With its mountain viticulture (the Dolomites), Trentino is an area well-suited to the production of sparkling wines of great elegance and complexity. Ferrari represents the largest estate in the Trentino region with 300 acres of vineyards. 

In 1952, Giulio Ferrari, having no children of his own, chose friend and local merchant Bruno Lunelli as successor for his business. Today, the third generation of the Lunelli family, with Bruno Lunelli's sons, Franco, Gino and Mauro. They have established Ferrari as the market leader in Italy and the nation’s celebratory wine par excellence with chief winemaker Marcello Lunelli. 

This Ferrari Rose is a premium blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes vinified as a rosé

Winemaker Notes:
Ferrari Brut Rose is salmon pink in color. The bouquet is distinct and very refined, with the fresh fragrance of hawthorne flowers, red currants and wild strawberries. The taste is Dry, clean and elegant, with a delicate finish of sweet almonds.
This was rated 92 points by 91 points by Wine Enthusiast, and 90 points by Tasting Panel, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate and Wine Spectator. 
Pale salmon color; smooth balanced with bright acidity, delicate rosé red berry flavors bright raspberry, hints of pomegranate, blood orange and a hint of hazelnut and toasted almond. 
RM 90 points. 
Spring Valley Vineyards Uriah Red Blend 2014

For the main course of filet of beef we opened this Right Bank Bordeaux varietal blend from one of our favorite producers. We've written often in these pages about Spring Valley Vineyards in Walla Walla Washington and their portfolio of wines named for members of the family. 

We've written a dozen tasting notes about this label, but surprisingly, this is the first one for this 2014 vintage release.

Spring Valley Vineyard Uriah is a Right Bank Bordeaux Blend, meaning it is Merlot based like those from the northeastern or right bank of the Gironde River, (as opposed to. Spring Valley Frederick, their Left Bank Bordeaux Blend in the style of wines from the left bank or from the south west of the river based primarily on the Cabernet Sauvignon grape.) 

I've featured in these pages often about the portfolio of Spring Valley wines with each label featuring a member of three generations of the Corkrum family reaching back to first generation founding producers Uriah and wife Nina Lee.

We tasted and acquired this wines during our visit to the tasting room and vineyards during our Spring Valley Vineyards Tasting and Vineyard Visit as part of our appellation visit to the Walla Walla (Washington) wine region in 2018. 

During our visit to the area, we drove out northeast of town to see the Spring Valley Vineyards. 

There we had the privilege of meeting Dean Derby, husband of Sharilee Corkrum Derby, who is daughter of Frederick and grand-daughter of Uriah Corkrum who is featured on this label. 

Tonight, with dinner,  Linda also served a chopped salad, a selection of artisan cheeses and medley of Greek olives. The black Greek olives were an amazing pairing with this wines.

Spring Valley Vineyard Uriah Walla Walla Valley Red Wine 2014

We've been collecting this label for two decades and typically hold close to a decade of vintages in our cellar. When the 2010 vintage received a Top 100 #27 in the Wine Spectator Top 100 ranking for the year, it suddenly disappeared from merchant stocks.
We acquire it regularly as part of our wine club shipments allocation.

Tonight, this 2014 vintage is the oldest release we hold in our cellar of this wine so we pulled it as part of cellar management, drinking the oldest vintage as we cycle through the half dozen vintage releases in our cellar, replacing the oldest with the newest.

Being a blend of five Bordeaux varietals, this was more complex than the 'simpler' Frederick with only three. I often compare the profile of blended wines to their width and depth - imagine a bar chart with five bars vs one with three.

This 2014 release of Uriah is a blend of 56% Merlot, 38% Cabernet Franc, 4% Petit Verdot, and 2% Malbec

This release was awarded 93 points by Wine Spectator and James Suckling, 91 points by Wine Enthusiast, and 90 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Winemaker's notes - "Winemaker Notes A blend focused on elegance and finesse. Herbal nose with hints of cassis and cherry. Lightly spiced, the texture is rich with velvety tannins and an ultra-long finish."

Interesting that back on release, Wine Spectator wrote to "Drink now through 2023". At ten years of age, I would say this was at the apex of its drinking profile, not likely to improve with further aging,

Dark ruby colored, medium full bodied, concentrated,  complex, a bit tightly wound but balanced, dark berry, cherry and plum fruits with notes of herbs, black tea, dark mocha chocolate with hints of creosote with nicely textured and integrated acidity. 

RM 92 points.

Some other Uriah reviews going back a dozen years ...

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Hill Family "Like a Hawk" Red Blend

 Hill Family “Like A Hawk” Napa Valley Red Wine

We joined son Alec for dinner and to watch our Alma mater Indiana University Hoosiers play Big Ten rival Purdue in NCAA basketball. Alec and Vivianna served a delicious dinner of pasta in a vodka cream sauce and for a wine accompaniment with dinner we trolled Alec’s wine cellar and pulled this hearty Big Red wine for the occasion. 

Alec and Vivianna discovered Hill Family Winery and Vineyards during their honeymoon in Napa Valley and since then have acquired this limited release wine as part of his allocation shipments as a member of the Hill Family wine club.

The Hill Family own 120 acres of vineyards with a focus on Atlas Peak, Carneros and Oak Knoll. They are 100% family-farmed, family-owned and family-operated – growing fruit for Napa wineries as well as their own wines.

 Hill Family Vineyards "Like A Hawk" Napa Valley Red Wine 2020

This limited release special label bottling is a variously from year to year a unique blend of Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon with some Malbec, Viognier and Petit Verdot. It is typically sourced from Hill Family estate vineyards Baker Vineyard in Atlas Peak and Clarke Vineyard in American Canyon.

The rear label notes that this wine is a tribute to the fifth generation of the Hill Family. This is named for the winemaker's son Landon who is featured on the label. While strolling through the vineyards together, he posed the young toddler up on a fence post. He stood up erect and said, "look, I am like a hawk!", hence the name.

Winemaker notes -  In 2020, with all the challenges we had during harvest, we needed to persist in using our best scientific attitude and tools to make our wines. After 16 months, we were able to blend our best lots and make the 2020 “Like a Hawk.” It is a big, elegant, energetic wine, with its well-known color and density, and it is always great to see Landon on the label representing the next generation of Hill family farmers! The 2020 Like a Hawk has bold aromas of black cherry, cassis, vanilla, mocha and a hint of raspberry jam. The palate is big and intense, certainly no pushover – the tannins are present, but they are rich with dark chocolate and cassis."

"With the catastrophic fires of 2020 the wine world has been holding its collective breath to see what will come from this vintage in the Napa Valley. Fortunately scientific advances in dealing with the fruit from that year have been up to the challenge, and we were able to blend our best lots to make 402 cases of a big, elegant, and beautiful Like A Hawk."

The 2020 release was 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 49% Syrah and 1% Viognier.

Dark ruby colored, medium full bodied, dense concentrated round forward blackberry and black cherry fruits accented by spice, cassis and hints of dark mocha chocolate with full round tannins on the lingering finish. 

RM 91 points.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Destiny Neighborhood Beef Tenderloin Wine Dinner

Destiny Neighborhood Beef Tenderloin Wine Dinner

Visiting our favorite getaway Destiny Cove vacation rental in Destin, Florida, we hosted a dinner with friends and neighbors. Linda prepared a full beef tenderloin, sliced into filets of beef, served with baked potatoes, haricot verts and mixed green salad. 

Before dinner we served a variety of artisan cheeses, fruits and mixed nuts. 

To accompany the dinner we opened a wine flight with varietal wines for each course. 

With the salad course we served a Washington State Chardonnay. 

With the main course we opened a medley of red wines - an aged vintage Napa Cabernet, an aged simple easy drinking Sonoma Cabernet, and a complex Washington State GSM Blend. 

Our guests brought for the dessert course a selection of artisan cupcakes from the bakeshop just outside our community gate and carrot cake cupcakes, which we paired with a flight of dessert wines from Italy and Austria.

Moffett Livingston Stanley's Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1997

We were planning a mini-family reunion last month in Destin so I brought for that occasion several 'family' wines, whimsically sharing names with certain family members, such as this Stanley's Vineyard label and so named brother-in-law.

This is named for 'Stanley', a family name in the owner/producer John Livingston's family. John resettled his family in St. Helena, Napa Valley in 1976 as an idyllic place to raise his six children, not necessarily with any forethought of joining the wine business. However, in 1984, they began pursuing their learned passion in wine and began producing Cabernet wines.

John Livingston was a geologist, and became intrigued with finding vineyards suitable to produce Stanley’s Selection Cabernet wine, seeking an optimum combination of stony hillside soils, eastern exposures and suitable micro-climates. In the ensuing years he found such vineyards, also chosen for sound farm management and proven consistency. All the vineyards were only a few acres in size, too small for big wineries but perfect for Livingston Stanley Cabernet. The 'Stanley’s' Vineyard label was blended from six small parcels in Napa by legendary winemaker John Kongsgaard.

Moffett Vineyards and the Livingston Moffett Winery, continued to be operated by Diane and John Livingston and were assisted for 22 years by their son Trent who helped grow the family winery from the cellars to the marketplace. Diane and John retired and sold the winery in 2005, resulting in a generational transition with Trent as successor of Moffett Vineyards.

Trent and his wife Colleen Moffett relocated in 2014 to the northern Willamette Valley to pursue making 4 different Pinot Noirs from 3 different Willamette Valley sub-appellations, all the while remaining connected with Napa Valley through Moffett Vineyards.

In addition to the Moffett Vineyards heritage, Trent and Colleen are co-producers of Screenplay Wines and C&T Cellars. .

This is the last of three bottles we acquired back upon release. We drank the first two bottles back in 2010 and 2014 and still held this bottle a decade later in our cellar. 

At two and a half decades, this was still holding its own, only perhaps slightly diminished from age at a quarter century, testament to the longevity of the ‘97 vintage Napa Cabs.  

This release was awarded 93 points by Wine Enthusiast and 90 points, Wine Advocate, Robert M. Parker, Jr. Upon release, Parker said it should drink well for fifteen years.

Winemaker's notes - "For the 1997 vintage, John chose four mostly one- to two-acre vineyards: Price, next door to Spottswoode; Walther, near Caymus; Corbett, adjacent to Moffett Vineyard; and Gemstone, with five clones of Cabernet along with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Petite Verdot. Yields ranged between of 2.5 to 4.5 tons per acre. It was aged in a combination of French and American oak."

Tonight, this was largely consistent with my earlier tastings, dark ruby colored, medium bodied with blackberry, black cherry and currant fruits, starting to give way slightly with notes of black tea with hints of anise and bitter dark chocolate with a bit of spice, plum with tone of cedar on the medium to firm tannins and acid balanced finish.

RM 89 points.

Another label we were holding for our bro-in-law, a fan of the namesake producer, we opened this for casual drinking with cheeses, fruit and nuts before dinner. 

Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon 2007

This was a futile inglorious attempt at producing a novelty namesake branded wine by comedian and Saturday Night Live fame Dan Aykroyd, who folks say, should've stayed with acting.

Winemaker Notes - "The grapes are sourced primarily from the Alexander Valley, which with its cool mornings and evenings and warmer inland climate allow the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to fully ripen. The wine is aged in 60-gallon French, American & Hungarian oak barrels for added complexity and increased concentration. This process also brings out softer tannins and a more fruit-forward palate."
Cellartrackers panned this wine, albeit they tend to be sophisticated wine drinkers. This exceeded my expectations, which admittedly were very low. I was open minded and opened it prepared to dump it, but while simple and uninspiring, it was okay for casual sipping with some cheeses before dinner. Several guests found it enjoyable and suitable for casual easy sipping.

Wine Enthusiast gave this 82 points. I didn't find it resembled their profile - "Overripe and bitter .... dry, with raisin and grapeskin flavors that have a Porty, tannic edge."

Ruby colored, medium bodied, dark berry fruit, notes of tobacco, smoke and black tea with an abrupt finish. RM 82
With the dinner we opened this Rhone varietal red blend. 

Force Majeure "Parvata" Red Mountain GSM - Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre 2017


We've opened this wine and featured it several times in these pages. We first featured this label in our Force Majeure Vineyards Site Visit and Tasting report as shown here:

October 2018

Force Majeure Vineyards Site Visit and Tasting

Force Majeure Vineyards Site Visit and Tasting

One of the inspirations for and objectives of our Walla Walla Wine Experience 2018 was to visit Force Majeure vineyards. We first met Force Majeure winemaker Todd Alexander and marketing, distribution and branding exec Carrie Alexander during the Chicago stop of their promotion tour in 2016 when we hosted them at Italian Village in Chicago. Since then we've acquired a respectable collection of Force Majeure wines, hence, they were one of our shortlist priority visits when we planned our Washington State, Columbia Valley wine trip.

Force Majeure Parvata Red Blend 2017 

We originally discovered and acquired this label during our visit to Force Majeure in Walla Walla back in 2018. We hold three vintages of a mixed case from our wine club allocation orders.   

This is from their Force Majeaure Red Mountain Vineyard site in the central Columbia Valley. The Red Mountain site was the very first vineyard on the steep, rocky upper slopes of Red Mountain. Developing the Red Mountain estate vineyards involved carefully matching varietal and clonal selections and vineyard trellising and irrigation to the eight distinct soil types in the vineyard.

Parvata means “mountain” in sanskrit, and hence is the name for Force Majeure's southern Rhône style blend, grown in the sandy, loamy soils of the lower section of the Red Mountain vineyard.

Parvata is a a classic Rhone River Blend that the French, and in the new World, the Australians, call GSM, for the blend of the three Rhone varietals, (25%) Grenache, (23%) Syrah, and (42%) Mourvedre. 

But this 2017 Parvata is a blend of Rhone varietals, somewhere between a GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre) and a CDP (Chateauneuf-du-Pape of which 70% is typicall GSM, the total can be from a possible thirteen sanctioned varietals). This release is 42% Mourvedre, 25% Grenache, 23% Syrah, and 'lesser' varietals, 4% Cinsault and 5% Counoie - 100% sourced from the Force Majeure Red Mountain Estate vineyard.

We've posted blogspots of the 2015 and 2016 releases but this is our first tasting of the 2017 release. It seems to be less fruit forward than the earlier releases.  

This was consistent with those earlier tastings. Dark garnet colored, medium full bodied, this is black fruits accented by white pepper, dried herbs, leather and tobacco notes with bright lively acidity.

RM 92 points. 


We then served artisan cupcakes brought by neighbor Jan, and cupcakes brought by Debra. With the sweets, we opened several dessert wines from different regions with different profiles.

Alois Kracher Nouvelle Vague TBA - Trockenbeerenauslese Chardonnay No. 7 2001

We brought this from our home cellar and were holding it for a special occasion such as this. We hold a vast collection of labels and vintages from Kracher who offer a broad portfolio of dessert wines from Austria. This is from Seewinkel, an area in the Burgenland region of Austria, along the eastern shore of Lake Neusiedl,

Kracher is internationally regarded as one of the finest dessert wine makers. After Alois Kracher passed away in December 2007, his 27 year-old son Gerhard took over responsibility of winemaking and managing the winery. He carried on the tradition with the same veracity and dedication that his famous father once did with the same outcomes of extraordinary notable award winning wines.

Weinlaubenhof Alois Kracher estate vineyards possess a microclimate uniquely suited to the production of Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese wines. They have nearly 70 acres of vineyards planted with Welschriesling, Chardonnay, Traminer, Muskat Ottonel and Scheurebe.

This release was awarded 95 points by Wine Spectator, 94 points by Wine Enthusiast. and 18/20 points by Jancis Robinson.

Winemaker Notes - "Attractive aromas of ripe stone fruit, apricot jam, nuts and fresh herbs characterize this Welschriesling TBA, along with a silky texture and highly balanced acidity with pleasant floral notes on the elegant, salty finish."

In the fall of 2020 I wrote: "As I have written in the past, at their most desirable (to my taste preference) these wines are rich, thick, unctuous, and voluptuous with apricot marmalade, mango, toffee/brown sugar, and caramel notes. This may have been there at some point and perhaps passed that stage of its aging profile. If so, then it is time to drink although it will no doubt continue to age gracefully for several more years. But the rich, sweet apricot fruits nectar was diminished somewhat and has turned more to a smokey charcoal layer over the fruits which were more subdued. Delightful never-the-less

Copper and tea colored, full bodied, thick structured, rich concentrated notes of sweet orange marmelade, apple and apricot fruit nectar with of pain grille, honey and nutmeg spice on a long unctuous textured finish. 
In winter of 2018 - I gave this 91 Points.

Ca' della Vignalta Colli Euganei Fior d'Arancio Fiore del Deserto Moscato (Muscat) Passito 2015

From Veneto, and area formerly part of the Colli Euganei DOC, it was established as a separate DOCG in 2010. The Veneto DOCG appellation specifies some significant production rules: 

  • Grapes for Passito must be dried on or off the vine to achieve a minimum potential alcohol level of 15.5%
  • Minimum alcohol level: 4.5% for Bianco dolce (10.5% potential); 6.0% for Spumante (10.5% potential); 9.0% for Passito (15.5% potential); 10.5% for Bianco secco
  • Residual sugar: Minimum 100 g/l (10.0%) for Bianco dolce, Spumante, and Passito
  • Aging: For Passito, minimum 1 year (ERD = November 1, V+1)
Az. Agricola Vignalta Fior d
' Arancio Colli Euganei have 346 acres of vineyards on the side of the highest of the Euganean hills outside the village of Arquà Petrarca southwest of Paduea, Italy, seventy kilometers southwest of Venice. They are planted primarily to Moscato as the principal White Grape Variety, with an average age of vines of 16 years.  The grape is particularly suitable for the production of complex and intensely aromatic Passito wines that perfectly pair with desserts and biscuits. They produce 76,700 cases per year of which 5.000 – 7.000 bottles are this Orange Muscat based Passito, produced in 375 ml bottles.

Az. Agricola Vignalta produce a wide portfolio of red, white, dessert and sparkling wines. This sweet muscat wine is predominantly based on Moscato Giallo grapes, which produce sweet and fresh wines, with distinguishing citrus notes. The label includes three different styles: dry white wine, sweet Passito, and bubbly spumante.

Fior d ' Arancio Colli Euganei Passito DOCG : it is a complex wine, with a bright golden yellow color that reaches light amber with time. It reveals aromas of yellow fruit in syrup, apricot and acacia honey. It manages to maintain a good balance between flavor and sweetness.

Winemaker notes -  "With its amber yellow colour and golden reflections, our Fior d’Arancio Passito captures at first sight thanks to the bright shades that it shows in the glass. The perfume is complex and elegant: balsamic notes of canned fruit, dry dates, candied figs, jams, honey, eucalyptus and vanilla stand out from the bouquet. Each sip is warm, embracing but not cloying and has a delicate almond husk final taste. Rich and balanced. Vinification: drying grapes in “fruttaio” for 4 months, crushing and squeezing rasin to obtain a very sweet must, fermenting in French oak barrel for 18 months."

Descriptions of the color of these wines vary based on the age and stage of their aging profile. These dessert wines start out golden or pale straw colored, and darken over time, turning deep golden, then light brownish, darker to orange rust, then a copper color, and finally even to a blackish weak coffee color. High quality versions from top vintages can age for fifty years or more.  

Tea copper colored, full bodied, complex  sweet notes of figs, hints of honey, raisins almonds and sweet tea on a smooth pleasant finish.

RM 91.

Friday, February 2, 2024

BBQ Ribs and Syrah

BBQ Ribs and Mollydooker Syrah 

Vacationing at our favorite getaway, Destiny Cove vacation rental in Destin Florida, with friends, we prepared a dinner of BBQ ribs, baked potatoes and grilled fresh veggies. To pair with the ribs, for one of our favorite wine food pairings, we opened a hearty Syrah/Shiraz. 

Mollydooker Blue Eye'd Boy Shiraz 2021

Friend Pat R picked this up during our visit to Total Wine in Pensacola to share during our week together. 

We've written often in these pages about the fun we have with this label and the rest of the Mollydooker portfolio of wines. Here are several previous posts on the subject:

September 10, 2022
Blue Eye'd Boy & Brunier Racines for BBQ Rib Dinner 

March 11, 2022
Blue Eye'd Boy and CDP for Italian Beef Dinner

May 5, 2012
Graduation celebration wine tasting flight

February 7, 2014
Mollydooker 'Carnival of Love' Shiraz 2011

July 4, 2023
Lede To Kalon and Greywacke showcase 4th of July Celebration

February 3, 2022
Mollydooker "Scooter" Merlot

Mollydooker Blue Eye'd Boy Shiraz 2021

This is named for the son of winemaker/producer Sarah Marquis. This is one of the signature wines we keep on hand for our love of big full throttle Shiraz, and as a wine to enjoy with our own 'Blue Eye'd Boy', our son Alec.

We hold a half dozen vintages of this label and this is the newest, latest release which we're trying here for the first time.

Winemaker Notes - Black crimson in color, this wine leaps from the glass with powerful aromatics of blueberries, fresh plum, licorice and nuances of chocolate biscuit. The seamless texture is laced with fresh berry fruit, coffee, vanilla cream and warm spice, giving us a full-bodied Shiraz with an endless depth of flavor and great length.

This was rated 92 points by Robert Parker's Wine Advocate.

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate wrote an interesting observation about this label; "Once you taste a few of a producer's wines side by side, you really start to get a feel for stylistic preference between warm vintages and cool ones. I surprise myself by saying here that I prefer the warmer vintages at Mollydooker (this does not make it right) because the sunshine and ease with which ripening can occur in a warmer year really seems to suit the plush, high-octane style being proliferated here. So, this 2021 Blue Eyed Boy Shiraz is far more on the blue fruit spectrum than the 2020 ..."

The key here is comparisons of this same label from vintage to vintage, and contrasting the resulting impact from a warm vintage vs a cool vintage. Such distinctions are best revealed through comparison tastings of one vintage alongside another or others - what is referred to as a 'vertical' tasting (as opposed to 'horizontal tasting' which would be various wines from the same vintage). 

This was dark inky colored, full bodied, powerful concentrated, full throttle big round black and blue fruits accented by spice, black tea, notes of licorice and hints of bitter dark mocha chocolate with a long full finish.

RM 92 points.