2012 Pinot Noir, Ancient Oak Cellars

It’s National Wine Day and just taking a moment to commemorate. Here is the 2012 Pinot Noir of Ancient Oak Cellars–you’re always on solid footing with a Russian River Valley Pinot, and this is a refreshing, light beverage after all the big red I’ve sampled as of late. Hope you’re celebrating with a favorite and readying for the long holiday weekend…

2012 Pinot Noir, Ancient Oak Cellars, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California, USA.

2012 Pinot Noir, Ancient Oak Cellars, Russian River Valley, Sonoma, California, USA.

…and excuse the brevity on this one. Notes will revisit this delicious wine again soon and share a full run-down. Enjoy the day and thanks for following!

2012 Juliet Amarone della Valpolicella

I opted to go back-to-back on Amarones, both purchased at different times from different purveyors but the grapes hail from the same Valpolicella region. This one is the 2012 Juliet and a step up in class from the 2013 Montresor I finished last Sunday.

2012 Juliet Amareno della Valpolicella

2012 Juliet Amareno della Valpolicella, Italy.

This 2012 beauty encompasses several different varietals, including Corvina (65%), Corvinone (10%), Rondinella (20%), and other varieties from the territory (5%). The grapes (after a fall harvest) were naturally dried in a fruit cellar for three to four months, and vinification you almost know by the Amarone–according to the winemaker, soft crushing was performed on the destemmed grapes in January and February. Fermentation lasted about 30 days, and aging was conducted 20% in steel and 80% in wood for 18 months. Two thirds of the wood consisted of American and French barriques, half of which are used for the second and third time, and one third in large barrels.

That’s a whole lot of detail on the setup, but let me tell you the resulting product is really strong. You can see plainly its deep red color, and its smell is just as rich. Cherries and spices are easily detected in your glass, and there’s a pungent raisin vibe to the 2012 Juliet Amarone della Valpolicella as well. It’s got a full body, which is not to say that it’s heavy. It even has a little kiss of dark chocolate to it and makes you want to swirl and really enjoy its mouthfeel.

The food? We’re looking on pan-fried fingerling potatoes, asparagus tips, and roasted pork with a mustard pan sauce. Let me tell you it came out great–an easy recipe, a rewarding beverage, and a good evening. Really glad to share that I’ve got three more of these Juliet’s on hold (Juliet…I get it now…from a winery outside of Verona, Italy?) and will keep you posted on its profile.

 

2014 Freakshow Red Wine, Michael David Winery

It is no secret that I am a fan of the Michael David WineryNotes has featured the Petite Petit with regularity over the years, and I recently tasted their best-selling zinfandel too with much enjoyment. When my father mentioned having sampled their Freakshow I knew it had to be part of my next wine tasting experience, and here we are.

2014 Freakshow, Michael David Winery, California, USA.

2014 Freakshow Red Wine, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

You’re going to love this wine. It has elements common the Petite, particularly its mash-up of different tastes and flavors, but this one is less jammy and has a bit more heft to it. A little more spice and chew. The 2014 Freakshow has more dark fruits, black berry and black cherry, with some dark chocolate underpinnings. In that way it sort of reminded me of the Apothic Dark that I sampled in Chicago many moons ago, but at a higher level of execution. I was not sure what grapes comprised this red blend, but surely it has some Syrah (yes) involved and a quick bit of research shows there is some Petite Sirah as well. I have no idea what the Souzao grape is, but some of that’s in the mix too. Incredibly rich and unmistakably Michael Davis in all ways.

Here is the winemaker’s explanation of what’s going on in the 2014 Freakshow Red Wine: “Aromas of blackberry cobbler, toasted walnuts, espresso bean, and hints of brandy. The wine is weighty with a velvet-like texture boasting flavors of ripe brambleberry jam, toffee, and dark chocolate mousse followed by wisps of pipe tobacco and mesquite.

They do have a way with words–and wines. This 2014 was aged both in French oak barrels (15 months) and American oak (18 months), and I’d like another already.

2013 Freakshow Cabernet, Michael David Winery, California, USA.

2013 Freakshow Cabernet, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA.

My first shot at the Freakshow actually dates back to September, when I pulled the cork on their 2014 Freakshow Cabernet. This too hails from the Lodi-based winemaker and it is similarly excellent. Lots of cherry in this solid Cabernet, but my notes from that time are less specific other than to say it was a great value and accompanied a delicious grilled steak and asparagus side. Have to get another one of these soon too! This winery always stands tall and will definitely go on the “must visit” list for the next time life winds me through California wine country.

 

The Ones That Got Away – Fall 2016

2013 Judge & Jury Red Blend, Kunde Family Estate, Sonoma County, California, USA; 2011 Lamole Gran Selezione Chianti, Italy; 2014 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA; 2014 Toasted Head Chardonnay, California, USA.

2013 Judge & Jury Red Blend, Kunde Family Estate, Sonoma County, California, USA; 2011 Lamole Gran Selezione Chianti, Italy; 2014 Petite Petit, Michael David Winery, Lodi, California, USA; 2014 Toasted Head Chardonnay, California, USA.

2014 Chardonnay, Rombauer Vineyards

Earlier this spring, the Rombauer Chardonnay was recommended to me by a speaker who was wrapping up a highly successful webinar for dental students across the U.S. It was her celebratory drink and one she often served to friends new and old, and I can totally understand why. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had, a natural comp to my friends at Buena Vista and their most excellent Chardonnay.

2013 Chardonnay, Rombauer Vineyards, Carneros, California, USA.

2013 Chardonnay, Rombauer Vineyards, Carneros, Napa, California, USA.

Earlier this spring I saw the wine available through an online shipper but declined that first time. When I saw the Rombauer shelved at my favorite wine shop (I was there for the Caymus tasting), I knew I had to pull a bottle and give it a go. My first mistake was buying only one, but it goes back on a short list for next time.

The 2014 vintage is fantastic, the commensurate hint of butter to be sure, but mostly a melon scent that is refreshing even on the nose before you taste it. It pours golden in the glass, much richer in tone than a Grigio, and layers in other citrus smells that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s bright and sweet, but not sticky sweet like the Riesling recently covered here in Notes (only click if you want the contrasting opinion), and you almost feel like you could drink it after a hot summer day or workout.

Additional facts from the Winery:

  • The vineyard started producing Chardonnay in 1982
  • The Carneros region where the grapes are grown is known for its cool climate and clay soils–which yield great fruit flavors and “fresh” acidity
  • Harvested August 28th to October 11th, 2014
  • Stored 9 months in American and French oak barrels (1/3 new)
  • Released in August of 2015
  • Received the gold medal at the 2016 Hilton Head Wine Festival (which sounds amazing even as I type this)

Thanks, Rombauer Vineyards, for the helpful details on your delicious wine.

Queso tostadas with summer vegetables and a spicy cream sauce.

Queso tostadas with summer vegetables and a spicy cream sauce.

The 2014 Chardonnay from Rombauer Vineyards accompanied a new meal, one I’d never had before and thoroughly enjoyed. Pan toasted tortillas were the delivery tool for summer vegetables that included corn, fairy tale eggplant, and purple bell pepper. That’s queso para freir, which browned up really nicely, and the whole thing is seasoned not only with garlic and shallot but also a spicy crema of milk, lime zest, lime juice, and jalapeño. When I read the recipe I was only lukewarm on its potential, but as the smells started bouncing around the kitchen I was hooked. How did the cheese brown instead of melt? Really cool…

Kitchen magic aside now, a special thanks to you, Ms. Ireland, for setting me on a fun journey with your favorite bottle. It’s going to be one of mine too and I appreciate the gift you shared with your recommendation. Can’t wait to pass it on…