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2012 Wine Trends: A New Year of Vino

Looking forward to a new year of wine discoveries.

2012 is here, presenting a fresh new year of wine trends to contemplate.  It’s an exciting time for all of us wine lovers as we stand at the edge of an entire year of wine discovery and imbibing ahead.  What will be hot in the wine world this year?  What will we fill our glasses with in 2012?  Here’s a bit of forecasting for 2012 wine trends, along with some divulgence as to the wines we anticipate buying and drinking the most of and why…

1. Grower Champagne is Vogue

Grower Champagne producers and smaller Champagne houses are becoming more and more popular as bubbly lovers everywhere discover the world beyond Dom Perignon, Krug and Cristal.  Of course we’ll never turn down a glass of Veuve Clicquot, but there are so many other high quality, great value Champagnes out there.  Grower Champagne producers are grape farmers that make their own Champagne, using the grapes that they grew themselves, as opposed to the bigger houses that buy them in.  While these small, artisanal producers lack the marketing power of the ubiquitous big brands, their Champagnes are gaining recognition and are the new fashion.

We’re looking forward to discovering and drinking more under-the-radar, high value Champagnes in 2012, and will continue to drink and promote our favorite grower Champagnes.  The Wall Street Journal’s recent article, Bubble by Bubble by Lettie Teague, is a great read on the topic of Champagne.  Lettie gives a shout out to some of our favorites, including Pol Roger Brut Réserve, Pierre Moncuit Blanc de Blancs Brut and Pierre Gimonnet Brut Blanc de Blancs Sans Année.  Our New Year’s resolution is to drink more Champagne!  Additional recommendations:

NV Pierre Peters Brut Cuvee Reserve ($46) “Fresh, precise lemon and pink grapefruit aromas give way to deeper tangerine and melon with air. Fine-grained and focused citrus flavors stain the palate, gaining richness on the back end while retaining a tight, nervy personality. The citrus notes linger nicely on the long, sappy, mineral-tinged finish.” – 91 pts, International Wine Cellar

NV Champagne Laherte Freres Brut Tradition ($36) – “The NV Brut Tradition is a beautifully precise, chiseled wine. Citrus, flowers and minerals are woven together in fabric of unusual elegance. This mid-weight, focused Champagne offers terrific energy all the way through to the finessed finish. It is a lovely effort…” – 90 pts, Wine Advocate

NV Rene Geoffroy Brut Empreinte ($50) “The NV Brut Empreinte offers up licorice, smoke, mint and dried apricots in an exotic, compelling style. There is wonderful richness and clarity to be found in the glass. The weight and sheer presence of the Pinot Noir is clearly felt on the palate, while cool mineral notes provide a wonderful foil to the wine’s silky texture…” – 92 pts, Wine Advocate

NV Henri Goutorbe Brut Rose ($55) “The NV Brut Rose Grand Cru is a rather wild, unrestrained wine loaded with baking spices, kirsch, game and sweet red cherries. The wine reveals gorgeous inner perfume and tons of class, with a refined, silky close. Striking aromatics linger on the finish.” – 93 pts, Wine Advocate

2. Bonjour 2010 Burgundy

The 2010 vintage for Burgundy is just beginning to enter the market.  While many of the reds have not even been bottled yet, the white Burgundies are just starting to arrive.  The 2010 vintage was a small one for Burgundy, which means that we can expect the prices to be higher, but these wines will be worth the investment. In general, the 2010 Burgundy vintage has a lighter, more classic style than the lush 2009 vintage, promising many age-worthy wines with great structure and acidity.  Since the quantities will be limited, we suggest grabbing them up while you can.

Anxious to get your hands on a refreshing 2010 white Burg now?  Our 2010 Domaine Vincent Dauvissat Chablis La Forest is in-stock and ready to ship.

Although we’re looking forward to the arrival of our 2010 Burgundies, we are still head over heals for the 2009 vintage.  The 2010 red Burgundies will need some time in the cellar, so while we wait, we’re going to continue to enjoy the approachable, delicious 2009 vintage.  Recommendations for great value 2009 Burgundies to drink now:

2009 Maison Louis Jadot Gevrey Chambertin ($52) “The 2009 Gevrey-Chambertin is the best of the village-level wines. It shows tons of Gevrey character in a sweet, perfumed style I find irresistible, with gorgeous length and fine overall balance. The level of quality is admirable, considering there are 200 barrels of this cuvee. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2019.” – 87-88 pts, Wine Advocate

2009 Domaine Michel Lafarge Volnay Vendanges Selectionnees ($72) “Bright red. Deeper, richer and more complex on the nose than the basic village offering, showing aromas of red fruits, rose petal and spices. Richer and broader on the palate, offering very good presence and depth for village wine. Spreads out nicely on the impressively long finish.” – 89 pts, International Wine Cellar

2009 Domaine Jean Marc et Hugues Pavelot Savigny-les-Beaune ($35) “This is also aromatically quite pretty with ripe red berry and plum aromas liberally laced with ample amounts of Savigny-style earth that continues onto the round, supple and appealing flavors that culminate in a balanced and naturally sweet finish. Lovely and fashioned in Pavelot’s usual understated style.” – 87-90 pts, Burghound

2009 Domaine Thierry et Pascale Matrot Puligny Montrachet Les Chalumeaux ($64) “A more expressive and airier nose that features high-toned notes of white flower, pear, white peach and mineral hints is followed by rich, naturally sweet and racy medium-bodied flavors that possess ample size, weight and sap on the solidly persistent finish. This will drink well almost immediately and I like the underlying sense of tension here.” – 91 pts, Burghound

3. Locavore Trend Extends to Wine

The farm-to-table trend has taken America by storm and that movement extends beyond potatoes and carrots, encompassing wine consumption as well.  As Americans become more conscientious when it comes to their carbon footprint, we’re sure to see a rise in local wine sales.  We oenophiles on the East Coast are beginning to pay more attention to our local wine regions, especially New York’s Finger Lakes region and the North Fork of Long Island.  We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Dr Konstantin Frank is an exceptional local producer if you’re living on the East Coast.  We’re big fans of the 2010 Dr. Frank Dry Riesling, 2008 Dr. Frank Cabernet Franc and the delightful, sparkling 2006 Chateau Frank Blanc de Blancs.

4. Organic and Sustainable Wines

Just as more and more people seek out organic food products, over the past several years, the consumption of organic and sustainable wines has been rising.  Many European wine producers have practiced organic, sustainable and biodynamic winemaking for centuries.  These practices are publicized more frequently now than ever before because they have become selling points for many modern consumers.  Organic wine certification varies from country to country and is a complex issue.  Producers that advertise organic and sustainable practices are not necessarily certified organic.  As the collective consciousness becomes greener by the day, we’ll see more producers adopting sustainable and organic winegrowing and winemaking techniques.  Recommended organic and sustainable producers from our portfolio:

Flora Springs Wine Company, Napa Valley – Practices organic farming.

Tablas Creek Vineyard, Paso Robles – Certified organic.

Talley Vineyards, Arroyo Grande Valley – Practices sustainable farming.

Podere Salicutti, Tuscany – Certified organic & biodynamic.

Adelsheim Vineyards, Willamette Valley, Oregon – Practices sustainable farming.

Evening Land Vineyards, California, Oregon & France – Practices organic farming.

5. Food Friendly, Low Alcohol Wines

Sommeliers have long been advocates for lower alcohol wines (below 14% ABV) because of their great compatibility with food.  European wines generally have lower alcohol than their New World counterparts and are specifically made to compliment the cuisine of their native lands, which explains the predominance of European producers on many restaurant wine lists.  Ripe, over-extracted, high alcohol wines have the affect of overpowering most foods. New World winemakers (and wine drinkers) are becoming wise to this fact and have begun to abandon the over the top, sometimes out of balance, style that was the longstanding fashion.  In the year ahead, look for lower alcohol wines coming out of regions such as Napa and the Willamette Valley.  Not only will these low alcohol wines enhance your dining experiences, you won’t be bowled over by the first glass!  We’ve already started spotting, and drinking, these food friendly beauties from New World regions:

2009 Breggo Cellars Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley ($27, 13.4% ABV)

2010 The Pinot Project Pinot Noir, California ($14, 13.5% ABV)

2008 Mt. Difficulty Riesling Roaring Meg, Central Otago ($20, 11.5% ABV)

2008 Merry Edwards Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast ($42, 13.9% ABV)

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Summer Wines: What to Drink All Summer Long

Cool off with crisp, refreshing summer wines!

Memorial Day has always been one of my favorite holiday weekends, the unofficial start of the summer season. The official turning of the season may be a few weeks away still, but these long, hot sunny days and warm, pleasant nights sure have me fooled, and I couldn’t be more thankful.  It’s time to break out the whites in our wardrobe and to fill our glasses with light, bright, refreshing summer wines.

Here at Wine Cellarage, we’ve compiled a selection of great summer wines that we’re thrilled to share with you.  These wines have been chosen for their excellent quality and great value. They are sure to keep you cool and quenched all season long without draining your summer vacation fund!  There are certain wines that go hand-in-hand with the summer season, classic choices that will never go out of style, including Rosé, Prosecco, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.  In addition to these classics, we’ve added some slightly more unusual wines to our summer wine collection.  Among them, delicious Chenin Blancs from the Loire Valley, a Gewurztraminer from Northern California and a fantastic Methode Traditionelle sparkler from New Zealand.

Our homage to the summer season doesn’t stop with our exciting portfolio of summery wines.  This year, we’ve partnered with Eating Vine, a new recipe sharing and wine pairing community, to create three different Summer Wine Packs. Each pack is an intriguing wine tasting adventure, filled with six carefully selected wines from Wine Cellarage and paired with amazing recipes from Eating Vine!

Our Summer Wine Packs are a great way to stock-up on crisp, cooling summer wines, such as Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Prosecco and even Champagne.  Perfect for picnics, parties and gifts, the delicious recipe pairings will make entertaining easy, breezy and elegant all summer long.

Here’s a closer look at our summer wine collection…

Rosé

There’s no better way to welcome the warm weather and to kick off the summer ahead than by opening the season’s first bottle of crisp, refreshing berry-scented rosé. Rosé is the ideal wine for summer barbecue’s and parties.  Incredibly food friendly, Julia Child put it best when she said, “Rosés can be served with anything!” As you gear up for summer entertaining, don’t forget the rosé!  Perfect pairings include barbecue flavors, sausage, hamburgers, and just about anything on the grill – veggies, fish, shrimp, pork and so on.  And of course, fresh salads and side dishes get along incredibly well with this cool, crisp rosy wine!

One of the best rosé values out there comes to us from an award-winning South African producer, Mulderbosch Vineyards. Renowned as one of the country’s very best white wine producers, Mulderbosch makes two highly regarded reds and an excellent 100% Cabernet Sauvignon rosé.  The 2010 Mulderbosch Vineyards Rosé Stellenbosch ($12) is a delicious, refreshing rosé, showcasing complex aromas and flavors of rose petals, lime zest and wild strawberry.

The 2010 Domaine Saint Ser Cotes de Provence Saint Victoire Rosé Prestige ($21) is an elegant rosé, offering lovely aromas of wild red berries, hints of watermelon and lemon zest; a perfect pairing for traditional Provencal meals like Bouillabaisse.  This wine definitely has the structure to stand up to substantial dishes.  (I paired this with grilled sausage and peppers last weekend and it was wonderful!)  The Domaine Saint-Ser is located in the Saint Victoire sub-appellation of the Côtes de Provence and is home to a small number of elite producers.

The 2010 Bieler Père et Fils Sabine Rosé Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence ($14) is the perfect summertime quaff, showing aromas and flavors of raspberry, cherry and wild strawberry, along with racy minerality and bright acidity.  You’ll want to drink this rosé every chance you get this summer.  Charles Bieler has been crafting his delicious Provençal rosé for the last 5 years. Named for his daughter, Sabine, who was born the same year as the wine’s first vintage, this rosé honors Charles’ father, Philippe, who introduced he and his sister to the wine business.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blancs are the perfect coolers for hot summer weather. Their vibrant, zesty character, citrus aromas, herbal notes and crisp acidity make them a classic choice for summertime imbibing.  Sauvignon Blanc is best consumed within a few years of its release, while youthful, fruity and refreshing.  This native French varietal is the main constituent of white Bordeaux and is widely planted in the Loire Valley, most notably in the regions of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.

This year we can’t get enough of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  Craggy Range wine estate makes one of our favorite Sauvignon Blancs.  Owned and operated by the Peabody family, Craggy Range specializes in exceptional single-vineyard wines that are true to their terroir.  The 2009 Te Muna Road Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($19) is from their Te Muna Road Vineyard in Martinborough and is produced from vines that grow on stony, limestone-rich soils.  Minimal cellar intervention results in an elegant Sauvignon Blanc with a delicate, soft texture and mineral undertones.

Another favorite from New Zealand is the 2010 Cloudy Bay Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc ($27).  Located in the Wairau Valley of Marlborough, Cloudy Bay’s vineyards benefit from the cool, maritime climate bestowed by the South Pacific. This sustainable, environmentally conscious wine estate single-handedly pushed Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc into the spotlight.  Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc delivers classic characteristics of ripe lime and grapefruit, along with a remarkable tropical medley of papaya, mango, orange blossom and gooseberry. Vibrant and refreshing, this is just what the doctor ordered on a hot summer afternoon and makes an ideal accompaniment for the fresh flavors, herbs and spices of Asian cuisine.

While we love New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, we’ll always have a taste for those from the Loire Valley. Pascal Jolivet is one of the Loire’s youngest estates producing exceptional Sauvignon Blancs.  Established in 1987, Domaine Pascal Jolivet is devoted to natural winemaking and sustainable techniques.  Based in Sancerre, the estate owns over 70 acres of the best vineyards in the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé.  The 2009 Pascal Jolivet Sauvignon Blanc Attitude ($17) offers floral and citrus aromas, bright acidity and minerality on the palate.  This delightful wine drinks like a Sancerre at half the price.

If it is true Sancerre that you’re after, the 2010 Domaine des Vieux Pruniers Sancerre Blanc ($20) is a wonderful, affordable option.  Domaine des Vieux-Pruniers is located in the village of Bué, a few short miles from Sancerre.  Here the grapes grow on incredibly steep, hillside vineyards renowned for their limestone-rich soils.  This is a quintessential Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc – clean and pure, showing aromas of citrus fruit and blossoms, zesty lime and orange flavors and brisk minerality that lingers on the palate.

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is the chameleon of the grape varietals, thriving in a range of climates and crafted in a variety of styles. Relatively neutral in character, Chardonnay is easily influenced by its environment and the winemaker’s techniques.  For these reasons, it is one of the most popular and widely planted white wine grapes in the world.  Native to France’s Burgundy, Chardonnay is the only grape variety permissible in Chablis and one of three grapes varieties used in Champagne.  Outside of France, Chardonnay has flourished in the New World wine regions, growing happily in California, Chile, South Africa, Australia and beyond.

Chablis is always a refreshing choice for summertime and perfect for pairing with lighter dishes, especially seafoods.  The 2009 Domaine Gilbert Picq et Ses Fils Chablis Vieilles Vignes ($25), made from fifty year old vines, is a classic Chablis with plenty of zippy minerality and pure fruit character.

The 2009 Bouchard Pere et Fils Bourgogne Blanc ($18) is a great summer Chardonnay from Burgundy – lively and fresh, offering pear and peach aromas and a smooth texture with just a touch of oak.  The Bouchard Bourgogne Blanc is an ideal accompaniment for grilled seafood, shellfish and poultry dishes.

Another Chardonnay that we’ve fallen for this year is from a fantastic South African producer with a rich history, Glenelly Wine Estate. Located in Stellenbosch, the estate’s heritage goes back to the 17th century.  May-Eliane de Lencquesaing purchased the property in 2003, after running the famed Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande for 30 years prior.  May de Lencquesaing is renowned for the wines of her Pauillac Grand Cru Classé Chateau and has upheld the same level of excellence at Glenelly. The 2010 Glenelly Chardonnay The Glass Collection Stellenbosch ($14) showcases the exceptional quality and value coming from this estate.

Unique Summer Wines

If you love Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley as much as we do, François Chidaine’s Vouvrays are not to be missed.  Crafted in a range of styles from bone dry to sweet, Chidaine’s Vouvrays share an ethereal, elegant quality and great complexity.  This summer we’re sipping Chidaine’s dry styles – the 2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Clos Baudoin ($25) and the 2009 Francois Chidaine Vouvray Les Argiles ($23), which are enchanting now and will age gracefully for years to come.

Breggo Cellars’ extraordinary white wines from unique varietals (Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Riesling) places this Northern Californian producer on our summertime favorites list.  The 2009 Breggo Cellars Gewurztraminer Anderson Valley ($27) is exotic and enticing with opulent aromas of orange zest, lychee, honeysuckle and rose.  Elegant and refreshing on the palate, bright tropical flavors mingle with zippy acidity and a long, lovely finish.  Only 398 cases made!

On of the best value sparkling wines we’ve come across is the NV Quartz Reef Sparkling Methode Traditonelle ($28) from Central Otago, New Zealand.  Blended from 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Chardonnay, this is a beautiful, brisk and refreshing sparkling wine that you’ll want to enjoy poolside, dockside and just about everywhere else you go this summer.

When we think of summertime sparkling wine, we think Prosecco.  Both the NV Lamberti Prosecco Extra Dry ($14) and the 2009 Bisol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Crede ($20) are amazing!  When looking for the ideal wine to pop open on a hot Saturday afternoon, you can’t go wrong with either of these delightful, summery Proseccos.

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Jaffurs Makes the Case for the Terroir of Santa Barbara

Posted By: admin | In: Tags: , , , | Dated: November 9, 2010 | No Comments »

Jaffurs wine bottles

Jaffurs shows that Santa Barbara is not just Pinot Noirs

The concept of terroir is not exclusive to the great vineyards of Burgundy and Barolo. Anyone who has tasted through and experienced the so-called great growths of Northern California cabernet will immediately recognize the difference between the elegance of the Ridge Monte Bello, from high atop the Santa Cruz Mountains and the richness of wines of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, from the heart of Napa Valley.

Just because a wine is without hundreds of years of history does not mean terroir is inapplicable. Napa Valley wineries demonstrated this at the Judgment of Paris in 1976.

A similar situation is beginning to emerge in Santa Barbara, encompassing the AVAs of Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Sta. Rita Hills. Despite the popularity pinot noir from Sideways, winegrowers and winemakers, to date, have had most success with the Rhône varietals of syrah and grenache for reds, and viognier, marsanne, and roussanne for whites. The Burgundian nomenclature of labeling with specific vineyards has also taken hold, with Bien Nacido, Thompson, Stolpman and Larner becoming more and more familiar to the consumer.

Jaffurs, located in heart of the city, is an urban winery that uses only purchased grapes from the best of these vineyards in Santa Barbara. The winery excels in single vineyards syrahs, as well as small

productions of viognier, roussane, and grenache blanc from the famed Thompson Vineyard.   Tasting through these wines, the sense of place is not lost. Santa Barbara is located on an east-west stretch of the Pacific coast line, and its climate is decidedly Mediterranean, and the city has the moniker of the American Riviera. As such, the grapes have no trouble ripening, and the resulting wine should be full-bodied, supple, and rich.

Jaffurs does not shy away from this bold style involving high alcohol levels, which in recent years, has seen a backlash from the wine community for being extracted and difficult to pair with food.   These criticisms are valid to a certain extent, but the key for any wine is still balance above all else, and Jaffurs achieves it splendidly. Its wines retain a firm structure and vibrant acidity. The judicious use of oak, mostly involving used, year-old barrels, complements a dark, rich expression of syrah, without masking the primary fruit and peppery qualities.

Winemakers often aspire to make their favorite wines. And more often than not, unfortunately, the result is a wine without identity. In this case, Jaffurs might be expected to look to the Hermitage or Côte-Rôtie for inspiration. One taste of its syrahs should make its intentions clear: this is a big, badass syrah from Santa Barbara; if you would like a wine that reminds you of the Northern Rhône, go buy a wine from the Northern Rhône. These wines make no apologies for being what it is, and nor should they.

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