Wednesday, October 24, 2018

2014 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Armillary Cabernet Sauvignon

2014 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Armillary Cabernet Sauvignon

Man, this one is BIG!   I received this bottle of 2014 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Armillary Cabernet Sauvignon last week and let it rest a few days before tasting.   Tasted over two days, this initially tossed around aromas of plum, leather, cedar, menthol and a touch of sage again big, rich tannins and a lingering finish.  Despite the 15%+ alcohol content, this wasn't hot at all.  In fact, it was beautifully made and a real pleasure to drink.  I was lucky enough to have some of this to taste a second night with a chicken pasta dish that I make regularly and the pairing was spot on.  The wine was more Bing cherry, cocoa powder and tea leaves with saddle leather and neither the pasta or wine overpowered each other.  I absolutely adore a 100% Cabernet that is completely mouth-coating as this one and if you're looking for an amazing wine to share with friends, this is your huckleberry!

2014 Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Armillary Cabernet Sauvignon label

ABV:  15.3%

Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $125.00

Drink The Bottles score:  94/100

Monday, October 8, 2018

Find Your Wine Tribe: Why The Connection is Important

Don't Be A Wine Snob!

I recently found out that someone I used to look up to the world of wine isn't who I thought he was.  He is an up and coming wine blogger who I followed on social media sites because his posts were entertaining, colorful and inviting.  And one day I felt I owed it to myself (and him) to visit his blog and I nearly puked.  I was so put off after reading a couple of entries that I couldn't decide what to do first - punch myself in the head for thinking this guy was something that he wasn't, or just walk away. 

I guess I should start by saying that as a wine blogger, you generally get one shot.  If you don't connect with a reader with your first article or wine review, they probably won't be back to read your work.  And everyone needs something different from a wine blogger.  Some people just want to know what they should drink.   These are generally the people who want to impress someone at a dinner party, because they typically show up with a half a case of Natural Light and some Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill "wine".   Don't get me wrong - we love these people.  They know very little about wine and it's great that they generally want to find something "good" or "tasty". 

But for most of the other readers, they want to be entertained.  They want to connect with a writer that thinks, talks and enjoys wine like they do.   If you're only interested in first growth Bordeaux wines, then you should find that wine writer.   If you don't want to spend more than $9 for a bottle of wine, I'm sure that wine blogger is out there too.  Find them.   Sparkling wines only?   There's a blog for that.   Wines for people that identify as gender neutral, are Vegan and are Crossfit instructors that drive a monster truck?    Ok, there may not be a blog specifically for that group, but chances are there is a blogger who matches that description.   Find them.   Connect with them.

So, let's go back to my blogging "friend" from the beginning of this article.  When I use quotes around the word friend, it's not because I don't care for the guy anymore, but we've never actually met in person.  We are in a circle of bloggers, a community of vino enthusiasts, connected by wines and vines.   Gosh, that was corny.  I digress.   So anyway, I go to this guy's blog (which will remain nameless) and read a few wine descriptions.   At first, I thought he was just screwing with his readers.  Here's a small excerpt from a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc:  ".....baby carriage rubber tires and wet diaper aromas, but not the offensive kind.  The wine is extraordinarily blue after decanting in a smoke free, deodorant and fragrant-free home for seven hours.   It's the most unusual thing I've put in my mouth since my cousin Robert kissed me when we were much younger."  

Get the hell out of here.   What?   Did I read that right?

Thinking this was surely an inside joke towards someone named Robert, I initially shrugged this off and continued reading.   I am a HUGE fan of Cabernet (aren't we all?) so frankly, I got pissed when I read this wine description from the same blogger.   In part, "......pencil shavings, black currant, red currant, barnyard scraps, licorice, vanilla, bees wax, nutmeg ice cream, coffee, leather and tobacco gently caress your face with the first whiff of Montana air."   Uh.................huh?   I don't know what the air in Montana has to do with the wine in the glass, but I'm pretty sure this guy is nuts.  I think he opened a Wine 101 book and started copying and writing descriptors for the major reds.  And these were just the FIRST aromas that he "discovered".  Shit.   How many more will there be when he actually puts the glass to his mouth?

So, long story short.   This guy has great pics and really does drink some fine wines, but his approach is all wrong.  He's a snob.   Or he wants to be a snob.  Even if you have WSET degrees and are a master sommelier at the finest New York City steakhouse, you can't talk to people like this.  Well, you can talk to people like this if they too are snobs and if misery loves company.  But the majority of the world want to engage and understand how a wine tastes and whether or not it is something they can cellar for years and years and bring out a little Johnny's Bah Mitzvah someday.

Drink What You Like and Like What You Drink

The greatest compliment a wine blogger can receive is kind words from a reader.  I recently received a couple of emails from wine industry folks, telling me that I was entertaining and they enjoyed my style of writing.  For a wine blogger, no matter how large or small, this is what it is all about.  It's about making a connection, developing a community of like-minded wine lovers.    And I've had a few people tell me how I sucked too.  There was this winemaker of a small, boutique winery in Missouri many years ago who had sent samples.   They were horrible.  All of them.   I didn't write about any of them and he attempted to lambaste me to as many people who would listen, which thankfully wasn't many.  Obviously, he and I didn't make a positive connection.

There are literally thousands of wine bloggers available to you via the internet and social media.  Each one with a different style, some with a different angle but all with the same passion.  Some will tell you about "The 1,348 wine terms you must know", some will tell you about Robert's kiss, and some will just tell you about the wine and why it is so damn good.  I personally only tell you about wines that I would serve on our back deck to friends.  If the wine sucks, you won't hear it from me. 

Find your wine tribe.  Connect with the writer.  Follow them on social media.  Become a friend.  Get to know them and it makes wine education and enjoyment so much more fun!

Fine Your Wine Tribe

Friday, September 28, 2018

2013 d'Arenberg The Custodian Grenache

2013 d'Arenberg The Custodian Grenache

Going back a bit on this one (the 2015 is currently available) with the 2013 d'Arenberg Grenache wine - The Custodian.  For between $15 - $20 you can get a ton of enjoyment with this solid wine that boasts aromas of black raspberry, plum, pepper and licorice.   It's a straight forward crowd pleaser that would really be an exception add-on to your thick, medium rare steak.  The finish is quick but memorable on this one and it would be hard for anyone to think otherwise.  I really enjoy d'Arenberg wines and this one should be on your radar.

2013 d'Arenberg The Custodian Grenache label

ABV:  14.3%

McLaren Vale, South Australia

Suggested retail price:  $20.00

Drink The Bottles score:  90/100

Monday, September 24, 2018

2015 Flora Springs Trilogy

2015 Flora Springs Trilogy

The 2015 Trilogy red wine from Flora Springs is a solid pleasure provider that was the star of the show on Cabernet Day this year, hands down!  Incredibly dark purple in the glass, the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (82%), Malbec (10%) and Petit Verdot (8%) is a slice of heaven in the glass.  So much flavor and elegance with sweet plum, tar, black currant, cedar shavings and black cherry showing off the fine tannins and long legs.  For such a young wine, this one is incredibly velvety on the tongue and the finish and you would swear it has been in the bottle closer to 10 years.  The fruit aromas carry over to the flavors and there is a sweetness that is reminiscent of swirling my vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup together as a kid.  The price point adds to the attractiveness of such a remarkable wine and while it would pair amazingly with a brisket, I chose to drink this one unaided and with a smile on my face ... and my glass!


2015 Flora Springs Trilogy label

ABV:  14.5%

Napa Valley, California

Suggested retail price:  $80.00

Drink The Bottles score:  94/100


Tuesday, August 21, 2018

2017 Farmhouse White

2017 Farmhouse White wine

The 2017 Farmhouse White from Cline Cellars mixes it up and stands out from most white blends because of the uniqueness of the six varietals that are the backbone of this refreshing beauty.  Medium golden with loads of honeycomb and warm tropic fruits on the nose.  Hints of wildflower appear as this wine warms to (my) proper drinking temperature (which is room temperature).  Blended with Palomino (41%), Muscat Canelli (25%), Roussanne (22%), Marsanne (6%), Viognier (5%) and Riesling (1%), this wine provides a crisp and slightly sweet flavor profile of tropical fruits, pear preserves, key lime pie and cantaloupe. The finish is solid and this wine should be taken seriously, because it is one that will bring you back over and over again.  I would recommend this with raw veggies and dill dip or bruschetta that is high in garlic content.

2017 Farmhouse White wine label

ABV:  13.5%

California

Suggested retail price:  $15.00

Drink The Bottles score:  87/100


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

2014 d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz

2014 d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz

I first tasted d'Arenberg wines about ten years ago and fell in love instantly.  Fast forward a decade, they have an incredible offering of wines and price points for just about every taste bud and pocket book.  The Dead Arm Shiraz is wildly popular and this 100% varietal is leaping out of the glass with spices, black fruit, coffee bean and damp earth.  This is one of those wines that get better with each sip (if that's possible) and you can't help but to be mesmerized by the deep purple color, so much that you find yourself helplessly swirling this wine throughout the drinking experience.  It's enchanting!  Ripe, dark berries with hints of farm pasture are on the flavor wheel with this one and there is a definitive, long and welcoming spicy and slightly woody finish that begs for more.  There is absolutely no doubt that this wine is going to evolve into a beautiful butterfly and despite the wonderful flavors you experience now, it will be more incredible in 10+ years.   By then, it could be considered "the" perfect wine!

2014 d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz label

ABV:  14.4%

McLaren Vale, South Australia

Suggested retail price:  $70.00

Drink The Bottles score:  95/100

Thursday, July 5, 2018

2016 Ste Chapelle Special Harvest Riesling

2016 Ste Chapelle Special Harvest Riesling

Full disclosure:  I have absolutely no experience with Idahoan wines.  Well, that's not true.  The first one I tried a few weeks ago was corked, but that happens to wines from any region so it's a loss and shouldn't be symbolic of the wines in general.   Now that we have that out of the way, let's discuss this 2016 Ste Chapelle Special Harvest Riesling from the Snake River Valley AVA of Idaho.  I actually leaped at the chance to taste these wines because I love discovering AVA's and producers that I'm not familiar with.   If this 100% Riesling is indicative of what this region can produce, they've got a real winning combination with grapes and terroir.  

If you love sweet white wines then this is your jam!  If sweet wines turn you off, find something else to drink.  I started out with this well-chilled and the honeysuckle, pear, peach and wildflower aromas were really prevalent.  As I've said dozens of times, I taste nearly all of my wines around room temperature to get a true picture of the flavor profile, but chilling this wine seemed appropriate, and it was indeed!  When you put this in the back of the throat, it is literally mouth-watering and overall, this wine is very welcoming with mellow flavors of apricot, and hints of powdered graphite and candied lemon rind.   This wine wants you needing another sip and I think it is a very agreeable with salty ham and cheese pinwheels, New York style cheesecake or even spicy Thai food.  If you're unfamiliar with wines from Idaho, I highly recommend you give this one a try.

2016 Ste Chapelle Special Harvest Riesling label

ABV:  12.0%

Snake River Valley, Idaho

Suggested retail price:  $11.99

Drink The Bottles score:  89/100