Thursday, February 13, 2020

***+ $$ Maddalena Rose, Paso Robles, California, 2018: Wine tasting, review & rating

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Maddalena Rose.

Maddalena Rose, Paso Robles, California, 2018: Wine tasting, review & rating 

Inspired by this wine: In the kitchen at the cabin, preparing pepper crust for a dinner roast.

Specs: This is Maddalena Rose, Paso Robles, California, 2018, finished at 13.5% alcohol and first sampled two years from vintage date, in February, 2020.

By way of background: Maddalena is part of the Riboli family of winemakers, and associated with the San Antonio Winery, which has vineyards in Monterey, Paso Robles, Napa Valley, and the Asti region of Italy.

In the glass: Deep orange and ruby hues.

On the nose: Poured at a slight chill and swirled vigorously, shows slightly sweet cracked black pepper and just a touch of pleasant funk.

On the palate: Brings a flush of layered dry melon fruit across the palate, with pepper and clean tannins washing things along.  Not a great deal of upfront acidity, but interesting that subtle acids stay tucked inside your cheeks, coming on to add length just as you think your sip is about to fade.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars with a plus for intriguing balance of layers on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  This becomes a good value based on the Spirit of Wine criteria.


(c) Copyright 2020 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Thursday, February 6, 2020

Blackstone Merlot and Chardonnay: Taking One - I mean, TWO - for the Team!!

By way of background:  Every now and then, I sample a "practically free" wine and provide full-throated reviews.  I call this "taking one for the team", in part because sometimes these wines are practically free for a reason.  Today, I am sampling two Blackstone wines - not quite at the "practically free" level, but at price points which, when on special sale, can be very, very affordable.  Both are California appelations from very recent vintages.  Let's see what they deliver:


Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Blackstone Chardonnay

Blackstone Chardonnay, California, 2017: Wine tasting, review & rating 

Inspired by this wine: Pulling on a soft wool jacket on the cool spring day. 

Specs: This is Blackstone Chardonnay, California, 2017, finished at 13.5% alcohol and first sampled three years from vintage date, in February, 2020.

In the glass: Light golden, well deeper than transparent.

On the nose: Poured at cool room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows a fresh, deep honeydew melon fruit.

On the palate: Shows light sweet black pepper in a full yet bright body, some distinct ripe peach elements.  Round finish fades relatively fast, but very clean.  Ready for another sip.

In summary: Overall, rates three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale, and just touches a plus for its couple of aromatic and textural layers.  Best value!

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Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Blackstone Merlot.

Blackstone Merlot, California, 2017: Wine tasting, review & rating 

Inspired by this wine: Chopping up bunches of different foods to make a great barbecue melange.

Specs: This is Blackstone Merlot, California, 2017, finished at 13.5% alcohol and first sampled three years from vintage date, in February, 2020.

In the glass: Dark magenta and ruby, opaque in the center.

On the nose: Poured at room temperature and swirled vigorously, shows deep black pepper and some bright violet flowers.  Nice dark depth too.

On the palate: Shows a soft dark fruit wash as the first note on the palate, Brighter red fruits finish the clean, but not remarkable, finish.

In summary: Overall, rates an easy three stars on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  Almost gets to a plus with its aromatics, but the palate falls just a sliver short.  Still, a best value based on the three-stars and the spectacular price point.

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In summary:  So, the Blackstone line seems to over-deliver at its bargain price point, based on the chardonnay and merlot showings.  I'm not sorry I took these for the team!


(c) Copyright 2019 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Friday, November 15, 2019

A Wine Riot is Headed for Boston!!


On November 23, a fully curated wine riot will arrive in Boston! 

In fact, Wine Riot 2.0 - Boston is a two and one-half hour wine festival (three hours for VIP participants) being held at the Castle at Park Plaza (130 Columbus Avenue, Boston), beginning at 2pm and 7pm (VIP) Saturday, November 23.  The event concludes at 5pm and 10pm respectively.  Over 40 exhibitors are expected to participate. 



Some photos from last year's edition of this lively event are posted within this post.  Spirit of Wine will provide coverage and some selected reviews from this year's Wine Riot - Boston.  Earlier editions of Wine Riot 2.0 in 2019 were held in New York, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and Chicago.  This is the eighth consecutive year of Wine Riot. 


Besides the expected wine tasting tables with unlimited pours, Wine Riot 2.0 - Boston this year promises some unique additional features, including:

  • Light bites from local restaurants
  • The Somm Sit Down Series
  • The Bubbly Bar
  • Wine 101
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Photo Booth
  • Wine Pronunciation Bee
  • Couples Challenges

In version 2.0, Wine Riot claims to have reinvented educational components and elevated attendee favorites to infuse new life into an event that has continued to introduce new wines to a growing Millennial audience. The sponsor highlights this event as an opportunity to pick the brain of local Sommeliers, taste wines from regions all over the world, compete in head to head challenges with friends, sip on your bubbly favorites and enjoy a range of other fun and educational activities with wine at the core.

General admission tickets for either the afternoon or evening session are $65; VIP tickets, which include 30-minute earlier start, access to a VIP lounge, preferred seating, VIP-only wine and food pairings and one-on-one access to local sommeliers, are $95 each.

Dress for the event is smart casual, and you can expect to be captured visually on all manner of social media forums.  As you might expect, minimum age for attendees is 21 years.

Full event information may be found here:
https://wineriot.com/boston-information/

Ticketing is available through this link below:
https://embed.nightout.com/events/wine-riot-boston/tickets

Twitter site is here: https://twitter.com/wineriot?lang=en

(c) Copyright 2019 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Wine Tasting and Review: Angove Family Winemakers shiraz, grenache and mourvedre

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Angove wines.

Angove Family Winemakers from McLaren Vale, Australia, provided a tasting opportunity to a savvy wine media audience with vertical tastings of one of its GSM's and one of its old vine shiraz.  Presenter Tony Ingle, lead winemaker for Angove, explained that McLaren Vale has a climate that is quite consistent with the Mediterranean, meaning that many of the same types of grapes are grown in both locations.  He explained that most of the vineyards in the relatively small sector are in the slopes of the hills of the valley.  The soils are quite old as well, with layers of chalk.  Angove's resources include 90+ year old shiraz vines and 50+ year old grenache vines.

We are first sipping the Angove McLaren Vale Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre (GSM) 2018 vintages.  Inspired by this wine:  A big family gathering is underway, a few days of fun ahead across the generations.  Nose is restrained with light spice.  Fresh ripe raspberries wash across your palate, bringing nice tannins and solid fruit wrap-up.  Four stars with a plus for balance on the five-star Spirit of Wine scale.  The 2014 vintage brings a bigger, brighter nose, with some chocolate wrapping the raspberries. Still a solid four stars.  And moving even a bit earlier in time, the 2010 shows a more classic aged nose.  On the palate, it shows layers that are beginning to separate, though still a solid feel.  Three stars with a plus.

Next, we are trying the Angove Warboys Vineyard Single Vineyard Organic Biodynamec Old Vine Shiraz.  Beginning with the 2015 release, inspired by this wine:  Enjoying a bite of dark chocolate before heading out to shovel some snow off the front sidewalk.  Three stars with a plus.  Bright solid fruit on the nose.  The palate remains bright and somewhat spicy, yet still with bold fruit.  The 2013 shows a rounder nose.  On the palate, the fruit is bold, round and lengthy.  Now jumps a full star to four stars with a plus for balance and length.  Moving older, the 2011 resembles the 2013 quite closely, perhaps with just a little more restraint on the nose and a slightly more closed palate.  Four stars.  An interesting note about these shiraz is that, to add some additional tannins, sometimes winemakers will add up to 10 or 15 percent of whole bunches to the fermentation tank. (The skins create the additional tannin extract.)

Check out today's pricing and retail availability for Angove wines.

(c) Copyright 2019 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


The Winemaking History of Hunter Valley, Australia

A group of savvy wine media specialists were treated to a discussion by three people delightfully knowledge about the history of the Hunter Valley winemaking region, culture and wine styles.


Dr. Julie McIntyre, Senior Lecturer, History University of Newcastle, and author of Hunter Wine, provided attendees of the 2019 Wine Media Conference with background about both the Australian and Hunter Valley histories with grape-growing and winemaking.  Hunter has been Australia's longest continuous commercially-producing wine region. McIntyre's most pressing professional question has bee, "What is the combination of people and place that account for seven or eight generations of winemaking across Australia."  She explained there are actually no indigineous grape varies in Australia, unlike, say, in the United States.  In Australia, ALL varietals have been imported  The first fleet of 11 settler ships arrived near what is now Sydney in January 1788.  Wine came as part of that shipment, which included both some felons and military personnel.  The first wine made in Australia seems to have been produced in 1792 - it was strong and red, and little else was known about it.

In Hunter Valley, the first dedicated plots in the 1820's were between one-quarter and three acres, using a variety of imported grapes.  By roughly the 1870's, there was a shift in the structure of those farming grapes, and some people with

Vineyards in Hunter Valley have emerged where they are based on social engineering that drove smaller, more widely-owned plots of land.  Families might have plots, say, on the order of 100 acres, which would be farmed by various members of the family. By the 1950's only 10 vineyards and four wineries were left, similar to what there was in the 1860's.  There tended to be higher-quality grape production used for highly-crafted wines, not bulk production.  That quality flourished better in the 1960's and '70's. Here assessment of the mix of

Liz Riley, part of a Hunter Valley winemaking family and consultant to the industry with her Vitibit agency, has been in the region for over 20 years.   Over time, the vineyards have migrated from being close to the river trade route into the surrounding hills.  Riley described weather in the region as quite chaotic.  "Averages are just averages," she said, "we have floods or droughts, ranging from one extreme to the other, even within seasons."  Growing, harvesting and winemaking strategies are designed to deal with and accommodate this range of weather extremes.

Riley explained that, although there are "hero varietals", such as semillon, shiraz, verdelho and the like, many growers are expanding the range of varietals with which they are experimenting. Pre 1968, shiraz and verdelho were the primary plantings. Chardonnay has proven to be probably most challenging to successfully grow in the region.  She mentioned more recent fascination with "the many o's", varietals like albarino, vermentino and the like.

Liz Silkman, chief winemaker for First Creek Wines,  lived with a cattle farming family in the region, and described the decision to move into the wine business.  Silkman explained that, although some regions have large networks of winemakers, the smaller size of the Hunter Valley ensures that the winery families talk with each other.  She believes the Hunter wines do a remarkably good job standing up to Rhone wines in blind tastings.  While often underestimated, she believes that semillon actually does a good job of reflecting the simple strengths of the region in terms of winegrowing and winemaking.  She believes the varietal grows very well in aging up to the five year period, including some buttery and toasty notes.  Then, she said, some can sit in that stage for another 10 years or so.

(c) Copyright 2019 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.


Journalist Bruce Schoenfeld on narrative tension and wine writing


Journalist Bruce Schoenfeld, who spent some 10 years as wine and spirits editor of Travel & Leisure, provided a group of savvy wine writers with his career perspectives of writing in the wine area.  Schoenfeld explained that, as a long-feature writer, he is really not a specialist in any one thing.  Instead, he has worked out strategies to become a quick study in the things he will be writing about.  He said the first thing to know is that you have to separate from the beaten path and find the hidden narrative tension inside any story.  The key, he said, is "I know something you don't know."

Until the 1990's he said, the universe of wine writing was following a well-trod path, talking about Burgundy, Bordeaux and Napa.  As a journalist, he mistrusted such easy stories.  He told a story about finding Alvaro Palacios who had been working with his family in their Le Rioja bodega, but wanted to make a break with his family business and head off to the newly-emerging Priorat region.  The family tension made for an intriguing narrative arc that went far beyond classical wine reporting.

Schoenfeld's first trip to Australia was about 10 years ago on assignment for Travel & Leisure.  He was interested to see whether regional wines might be emerging as opposed to the more-generalized broad Australian style.  The stories he told were based on characters who were pushing against the concept of "Australian wines".

According to Schoenfeld, if your stories are only serving the interests of the advertisers or the characters of the story, readers today are entirely free to migrate to other venues.  Work harder to develop narratives that have tension, that are about people, places and situations - that would even be compelling to people who don't care about wine.  Find an idea of your own that is quirkier and deeper than other ideas.  He suggests writers tell readers something they don't know that compels them to read it, makes them willing to pay for it, and come back.


(c) Copyright 2019 Spirit of Wine, all rights reserved.  If you are a winery, distributor or marketing agent and you would like to see your (or your client's) wine featured at Spirit of Wine, here are two options: 1) Wait, pray and hope - we may find you someday; 2) Submit a wine for review.  No charge.  Particulars are here.   If you are reading this full posting on any site other than Spirit of Wine, chances are it is a copyright violation.