Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Core Tasting Room, Orcutt CA

This is one of the few tasting rooms in Orcutt, which is located between Los Alamos and Santa Maria in California.  It has very cute decor, and it is a twist on the winemaker's family name.  One of the owners, Becky, was the pourer who served us.  She was very kind and laidback.

I really liked their tasting menu; unlike most places, it encourages you to take notes (albeit simple ones).  Next to each wine there is 1, 2, or 3 smiley faces that you mark based on what you like.  I also loved their unique labels!  Its $10 for a taste of 6 wines.

Grenache Blanc (2010), $18

  • Color - clear, slightly golden.
  • Aroma - very sweet with subtle citrus and lime.
  • Taste - surprisingly creamy like a Chardonnay, smooth and subtle.
  • Overall - Very tasty and slightly tart.  I was surprised by the creaminess and similarity to a Chardonnay. 

B.core (2007), $28: 73% Rousanne, 27% Marsanne.
  • Color - yellows.
  • Aroma - heavier for a white; bold and nutty.
  • Taste - slightly tart, smooth finish, with citrus.
  • Overall - This was one of my favorites on the list! Very unique nose and flavor, lingers on the tongue.

Elevation Sensation (2008), $28: 82% Grenache, 18% Mourvedre.
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - almost raisiny, semi-sweet.
  • Taste - slightly tart, heavy on the tongue, with black cherry flavors.
  • Overall - Not bad; interesting flavors and full-bodied.

Mister Moreved (2007), $36: 93% Mourvedre, 7% Grenache
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - smells almost like a port, very sweet and syrupy.
  • Taste - heavy and slightly bitter; sticks to the tongue in a strong finish.
  • Overall - Just okay; heavier with no distinct flavors.

Cuvee Fletcher (2008), $49: 62% Mourvedre, 38% Grenache.
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - slightly sweet and raisiny.
  • Taste - heavier; sticks to tongue; black cherry.
  • Overall - This was heavy with a lingering finish.  Not my favorite.

Kuyam Cuvee Nolan (2007), $34: 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cab. Franc, 5% Petite Verdot, 4% Merlot
  • Color - very deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - sweet and raisiny.
  • Taste - dark yet smooth, full-bodied and semi-dry.
  • Overall - Good and smooth but lingers heavy on the tongue. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bedford Tasting Room, Los Alamos CA

There are two little tasting rooms in the small town of Los Alamos, California.  In my last post I wrote about one of them, Casa Dumetz, and Bedford is right next door to it.  There is very simple (almost country-like) decor and a really friendly and knowleadgeable pourer.  The wines here were absolutely delicious, I liked each and every one of them.  They also had a wine that I had never tried beforecalled Carignane, which was very tasty.

This winery seems to excel in Syrahs - they were absolutely delicious! This cute little tasting room is definitely worth the stop.  It was $10 for a tasting of 5 wines.

Chardonnay (2009), $25: "The fruit from the Los Alamos region offers a tropical character of pineapple and melon along excellent acidity.  Fruit with this kind of structure warrants barrel fermentation and a completed maloactic fermentation.  Not every Chardonnay can handle traditional winemaking, but when it does, the wine becomes unctuous, buttery and complex.  This is a rich, full-bodied white with subtle fresh apple, melon notes harmoniously joined by soft toasty oak nuances."
  • Color - slight golden.
  • Aroma - sweet and creamy, crisp apple.
  • Taste - wonderfully and lightly creamy.
  • Overall - Very pleasant and light, well balanced creaminess with fruity notes.

Chardonnay "Dear Prudence" (2009), $35: "The wine has fresh fruit elements in the nose along with the complexity and richness barrel age supports, and that will increase over time.  The crisp acidity makes it a favorite with Dover sole or cracked crab."
  • Color - bright yellows.
  • Aroma - slightly crisp, light cream.
  • Taste - light cream, slightly tart, very smooth.
  • Overall - Another great Chardonnay, barrelled 20 months.

Carignane (2009), $30: "Carignane originated in Spain in the ancient region of Aragon, where it is now almost non-existent.  Yet the varietal has recently found increasing prominence in the Catalan wine region of Priorat, and has been vindicated by a number of young winemakers producing some of the best wines Spain has to offer.  The 2009 Carignagne has a deep ruby color and despite bright acids that dance across your tongue, there is a suppleness in the finish.  The texture complements the blackberry / black currant flavors backed by the warmth of oak."
  • Color - deep burgundy with pretty reds.
  • Aroma - sweet and fruity; raspberry.
  • Taste - fruit forward, unique, very smooth; chery and strawberry
  • Overall - Very pleasant and fruity, it was fun to try!

Comet Holmes Syrah (2007), $25: "Every so often something comes by that takes us by surprise even though we know it’s coming. In 2007 Comet (17P) Holmes paid us a visit during harvest. Usually visible only through a telescope, for unknown reasons it temporarily brightened by a factor of about half a million, in what was the largest known outburst by a comet, and became visible to the naked eye for three days. It also briefly became the largest object in the solar system, as its coma (the thin dissipating dust ball around the comet) expanded to a diameter greater than that of the Sun. A mild mannered, virtually unknown comet out performed its more illustrious brethren. It is a quality this Syrah holds. The 2007 is blend a different cuvees from multiple, local vineyards, each providing different elements to create a complex, intense yet amazingly supple red. The wine deserved its own celebratory title and our visiting comet seemed appropriate. It is deeply colored with a juicy berry, Oriental spice and cool earth character that is enjoyable now though aging will enhance all its properties."
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - sweet and strong, bright and lively; blackberry.
  • Taste - very smooth, almost creamy; very unique & delicious
  • Overall - I absolutely love this wine! It is very smooth and very pleasant, I wanted to take home a few bottles of this!

Syrah Archive (2007), $30: "From our many Syrah cuvees from 2007, one stood out above all; the lot from Watch Hill Vineyard. You could call tis wine our “Reserve.” The wine hits the mark on every level: amazing concentration; a rich, expansive palate; and the brooding, complex flavors you get from a cool climate Syrah. It is regal in stature with gorgeous fruit flavors but not ostentatious as some over-the-top renditions can be. Definite tannins will encourage you to cellar it, but the array of flavors are so enjoyable now, it will be hard to keep the cork in."
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - sweet and fruity.
  • Taste - fruit forward, semi-sweet, very smooth.
  • Overall - This was also a delicious Syrah! It was pleasantly fruity, medium bodied, and very smooth.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Casa Dumetz (Babi's) Tasting Room, Los Alamos CA

This is 1 of 2 tasting rooms in the small little town of Los Alamos, which is between the Los Olivos and Santa Maria.  We decided to check it out because my friend had seen an article about it in a magazine, and we are so glad we stopped by!  The entire town is incredibly tiny, maybe 4 blocks long.  There's an old historic hotel, 2 tasting rooms, and a flatbread restaurant that everyone raves about. 

Right next door to each other are Casa Dumetz and Bedford.  We stopped inside Casa Dumetz first because they had some adorable chic decor that drew our attention.  This tasting room is also considered Babi's, named after the winemaker's grandmother.  The pourer, Claire if I remember correctly, was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.  We had a great time listening to her stories about the wine and winemaker, and it was a very pleasant experience!

Apparently the winemaker is engaged to Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen's son.  It was very interesting to hear about how they met and also about the gradual creation of this cute little boutique winery.  Also, every Friday they have a speaker come and give some fun talks!

If you're passing through Santa Ynez, you should definitely give this place a shot! Visit their website here.

Babi's Gewurtztraminer (2011), $28: "With a robust personality and intense aromatics of mandarin, grapefruit, Meyer lemon and vanilla, this wine lives up to its flamboyant personality."
  • Color - very light, slight golden hay.
  • Aroma - slightly sweet with hints of mandarin and grapefruit.
  • Taste - somewhat dry yet pleasantly sweet; refreshing.
  • Overall - This is a very lovely white and a very easy drink.
Clementina Viognier (2011), $28: "This viognier exhibits bold characteristics of a Rhone varietal caressed by Central California sunshine.  It is intensely perfumed and wonderfully fruity with a great roundness on the palate that comes from cold maceration, neutral French oak barrel fermentation and sur lees aging.  This is a full-bodied wine.  Tropical top notes of pineapple and mango are balanced with muskmelon, creamy key-lime pie and vanilla spiced rum."
  • Color - clear, somewhat golden.
  • Aroma - pineapple and candied mango.
  • Taste - drier, more full-bodied and heavy; crisp at first taste, becomes somewhat creamy on the tongue.
  • Overall - Very tasty! One of the 'heaviest' whites I've ever tried!
Roussanne (on tap)
  • Color - golden and light.
  • Aroma - slightly sweet and citrusy, light.
  • Taste - semi dry, subtle fruit, slightly tart; smooth.
  • Overall - Goes down well, very easy drink with subtle flavors.
Francisco's Syrah (2011), $29: "This wine shows intensely bright top notes of tart and black cherry swirled together with fresh pomegranate juice.  The vibrancy of the fruit is balanced by a steady tannin structure that delivers a nice weight on the tongue while introducing delicious spicy black and white pepper flavors to round out the overall mouth feel."
  • Color - pretty burgundy.
  • Aroma - very distinct and fruity; powerful with notes of white pepper
  • Taste - delicious; lingers pleasantly on the tongue with a tart fruitiness and subtle pomegranate
  • Overall - Very fruity for a Syrah, but absolutely delicious!
Gravitas Grenache (2011), $30: "This vintage exhibits a full, round mouth feel with extraordinary berry notes, spice, Aleppo pepper, and ends with a long-finish that lingers... for a long time.  Licorice, tar, jam and sunshine are what come to mind when I drink this wine."
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - sweet and delicious; dark.
  • Taste - Distinct! Berry, spice, and jam.
  • Overall - Wow! I absolutely love this one.  This was one of my favorites on the list; it isn't too heavy, its just great.
Babi's Grenache (2010), $30: "Bright and bold Grenache mellowed with 20% of rich, structured, earthy Syrah.  Flavors of black and red pepper, black cherry, blackberry, luscious cranberry and moist loamy earth meld wonderfully together in this wine."
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - deep and rich but subtle.
  • Taste - strawberry, black cherry, slight spice, and cranberry.
  • Overall - This is very smooth and delicious, I absolutely love it! I was tied between this and the last Grenache.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Shock Top Belgian White

Brewer's Notes:  "We’ve shaken up traditional tastes by brewing  a spiced Belgian-style wheat ale with real orange, lemon and lime peels,and then added a little coriander spice to the mix.  This uniquely-crafted and award-winning ale is unfiltered to create a brew that is naturally cloudy with a light golden color and a smooth, refreshing finish."

Overall Impression
For the last 3 years this has been my go-to beer.  Its refreshing, tasty, and goes down easy.  I don't know a single person who does not like this beer; obviously Shock Top knows what they're doing.  This tastes even better if you drink it with an orange slice!

Alcohol by Volume: 5.2%

Cloudy with very little carbonation.  A bright orangey golden color.  Very light foam.

Bright and crisp, subtle citrus.

The carbonation hits you first but goes down smooth and silky.  No aftertaste.  Light citrus all the way through, very pleasant.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Shock Top Wheat IPA

Brewer's Notes:  "Shock Top Wheat IPA is no traditional beer. It’s a unique hybrid that combines the fresh flavor and smoothness of wheat beer with the crisp hop bitterness of an IPA. The result is a beer that is truly like no other."

Overall Impression
This came in a variety pack, and this was my friend's least favorite (probably because of the wheat).  Luckily for me, I got to try it.  Its definitely a heavier brew than most Shock Top beers with a very distinct wheat flavor.  However, it balances well and goes down smoothly.  If you don't mind wheatier beers, you'll probably enjoy this. I am :)

Alcohol by Volume: 5.8%

A bit cloudy with light carbonation.  A darkish coppery golden color with light foam that sticks to 2 fingers.

Very crisp and light.

Very crisp forward, smooth finish.  Rolls over the tongue in waves of ebbing crispness.  Definitely taste the wheat.

Shock Top Raspberry Wheat

Brewer's Notes:  "Raspberry Wheat delivers the same smooth taste of Shock Top, with a hint of raspberry flavor. This traditional Belgian-style wheat ale is brewed with essence of wild raspberry and hand-selected hops. It’s this combination that gives it its crisp and distinctive Shock Top taste, with its own flavorful twist. This unfiltered ale has a light-golden color and a smooth finish, and if you’re curious, it technically doesn’t, not count toward your daily fruit intake."

Overall Impression
You know, I haven't tried this beer up until now because I was slightly disappointed with some of the other flavors I had tried, such as the Honey Applecrisp.  However, a good friend of mine happened to have an extra one of these and let me try it.  It is delicious! I love it.  Definitely a "girly" beer, but it has a very unique taste that can make it a good change of pace from 'normal' beer.  I would highly recommend this one!  If someone had introduced me to this when I wasn't a big fan of beer (back a couple years) this would've converted me!

Alcohol by Volume: 5.2%

Not completely clear, some nice carbonation.  Very little foam, and the little that does form after pouring disappears quicklys.  A nice orange / golden color.

It smells very refreshing and pleasant with some fruity raspberry aromas followed by a nice crispness.

A very tasty raspberry flavor throughout with a smooth, semi-crisp finish.  Feels very soft on the tongue.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

[yellow tail] Moscato

Winemaker's Description: "Flavors: zingy tropical fruit with a crisp, refreshing finish.  Enjoy: chilled as an apertif and with summer salads. "

Overall Impression
Even un-refrigerated, this wine is very delicious and refreshing! Not too sweet, but just sweet and fruity enough that even someone who doesn't like wine much will enjoy this one.  This is only about a $5 bottle, and it is worth every dollar!

Golden, light hay.

ABV: 7.5%

Semi-sweet and almost tart, pear perhaps?  Maybe pineapple.

I think "zingy tropical fruit" is a very accurate description.  Very smooth and refreshing finish.

[yellow tail] Pinot Noir (2012)

Winemaker's Description: "Flavors: strawberry, raspberries & dark cherry.  Enjoy: with pork tenderloins or just relaxing.  For 3 generations the Casella family has been making wine at their winery in the small town of Yenda, situated in South Eastern Australia.  It is here that [yellow tail] is created with a simple purpose in mind; to make great wine that everyone can enjoy.  [yellow tail] is everything a great wine should be.  It's approachable, fresh, flavorsome and has a personality all of its own."

Overall Impression
This is a very cheap Pinot Noir with good flavor.  Not the best, but good for a girl's night in! Not too heavy. I got this bottle for under $5, and I'd buy it again.

Very dark burgundy with only a slight tinge of red.

ABV: 13.5%

Fruit with hints of blackberry.

Raspberries, black cherries, and maybe a hint of plum?  Very smooth with a slightly sweet / tart finish.

Alberti 154 - Malbec (2011), Mendoza, Argentina

Winemaker's Description: "For the 2010 vintage Bodega Calle had access to old vine Perdriel fruit, which offers up rich mocha and plum notes.  A small amount of young fruit from La Consulta provides structure and tannin, while limited oak influence keeps the wine bright and fruity.  We cannot think of a better everyday 'house' Malbec!"

Overall Impression
I tried this wine at a lovely little wine bistro.  This was a very heavy yet smooth red, and it would go lovely with heavier foods such as steak.  It seemed to get better as I drank it with more fruits emerging.  I loved the finish, and it was very full-bodied.  I would recommend this wine as a relatively cheap yet classy wine.

Deep, beautiful and lively reds glisten in the low light of the wine bistro.

Bright blackberry, and semi-dry with hints of boysenberry.

Full-bodied, semi-dry, and complex.  A nice finish of black cherry.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ponte Winery, Temecula CA

We had heard mixed reviews about this winery, mostly along the lines that it had worsened over time.  However, we had a 2 for 1 and decided to give it a shot.  It is located near South Coast Winery (a large, corporate winery with a hotel) and it looks like a cute, medium-sized tasting room.  Even though it was a Monday, it was absolutely packed.  It was nearly impossible to get up to the tasting bar to order a tasting, and a lot of the time it felt as though they really didn't care if you had to wait forever on them. 

This, too, is a large, more corporate winery.  However, their wines were actually pretty good.  If you don't mind fighting the crowds for a spot at the bar, and are willing to spend more time discovering the wines on your own rather than getting the spiel from the pourers, this isn't a bad place to stop.

Vernaccia Nera (2010)
  • Color - dark burgundy.
  • Aroma - bright boysenberry.
  • Taste - bright and bubbly on the front; tart but pleasant.
  • Overall - Pleasant, deeper bubbly with crisp fruity notes.
Barbera (2009)
  • Color - brownish burgundy.
  • Aroma - cherry and oak, lively.
  • Taste - complex finish, fruit forward, slightly spicy.
  • Overall - Good, spicy red.
Super T (2010)
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - slightly sweet, subtle fruit.
  • Taste - fruit forward, slightly tart and dry.  Plum.
  • Overall - Tart, but smooth.  Good, but only slightly fruity.
Zinfandel (2010)
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - bright boysenberry.
  • Taste - slight spices, cinnamon? Fruity, deeper finish.
  • Overall - Dark and complex, with a warm mouth feel.  Spicy yet smooth.
Tempranillo / Zinfandel (2010)
  • Color - deep burgundy and purple.
  • Aroma - bright black cherry and plum with some boysenberry.
  • Taste - dark fruits, slightly spicy, smooth finish.
  • Overall - Simple, tasty wine.  I crave steak with this one.  Heavy but delicious.
Syrah (2009)
  • Color - very deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - floral and light with some blackberry.
  • Taste - fruity yet dark, delicious balance.
  • Overall - Very good, dark and balanced with a slight and pleasant smokiness.
Beverino NV
  • Color - pretty garnets.
  • Aroma - semi-sweet, almost like blueberry pancakes.  Very bready with some coffee hints.
  • Taste - semi sweet and balanced.
  • Overall - Very tasty dessert wine, love! Not too powerful by any means.
Late Harvest (2010)
  • Color - deep burgundy with nice purples.
  • Aroma - slightly sweet but subtle.
  • Taste - beautiful blackberry and dark fruit, very refreshingly sweet!
  • Overall - Love! Very delicious dessert wine.  We also got to try this at room temperature, which might it slightly more buttery (in a good way).
  • Color - dark burgundy.
  • Aroma - very sweet and syrupy.
  • Taste - typical port with tastes of blueberry and boysenberry, very sweet.
  • Overall - Alright in my opinion, not a bad port.
Juliet (2011)
  • Color - bright pinks with an orangish / copper tinge.
  • Aroma - slight rhubarb, crisp and refreshing.
  • Taste - sweet and refreshing, rosy.
  • Overall - Very good rose, delicious and refreshing!
Isabel (2011)
  • Color - very clear, slight hay.
  • Aroma - light and floral.
  • Taste - apricot, very subtly sweet.
  • Overall - Very mugh like a good riesling, yummy!

Thornton Winery, Temecula CA

We weren't planning on visiting this particular winery, but the night previous when we went to Black Market Brewing we meant a bunch of the pourers there.  They were extremely friendly and gave us a lot of recommendations for other wineries including Doffo, Polumbo, and Briar Rose (which, unfortunately, we didn't make it to this trip). 

The winery and the grounds here are very nice; there's a large, castle-like building that holds the facility and the tasting room, a large fountain in the courtyard, an adjoining restaurant, and lovely views of the vineyard.  Inside at the tasting room, they play smooth jazz music.  This isn't a typical tasting where you stand up at a bar and have the pourer explain the different wines to you; rather, this is the type where you sit down, choose your (rather expensive) flight, and the pourer brings out 4 different glasses to you at once with a sheet that explains the different wines. 

We chose to try 2 different flights, the Red Lovers Flight ($15) and the California Champagne Flight ($16).  Visit their website here.

NV Cuvee Rouge, $26: "Our NV Cuvee Rouge is a uniquely creative Cuvee that brings Syrah and Grenache together in an unparalleled way."
  • Color - cranberry, clear, little visible carbonation.
  • Aroma - smells like sparkling cider; raspberry & apple.
  • Taste - pear, slight citrus. Lingers on the tongue, a bit tart.
  • ABV - 12.5%
  • Overall - this wasn't bad, but the lengthy finish bothered me a bit.
Thorny's Coat Red (2010), $25: "A food-friendly blend of Zin, Syrah, Tempranillo, Petite Sirah and Barbera makes a wine that has a lot of fruit as well as soft tannins as a counterpoint."
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - very interesting & enticing; bright and lively fruit.  Herb?
  • Taste - smooth, subtle fruit.
  • ABV - 13.7%
  • Overall - I would love to smell this all day! Light, easy drink - delicious!
Estate Syrah (2010), $29: "Berry and plum aromas aged in limited new oak by design brings a subtlety that will surprise and delight you."
  • Color - deep burgundy.
  • Aroma - deep berry and plum, very delicious.  Slight must.
  • Taste - very subtle but smooth.
  • ABV - 12.3%
  • Overall - Not spectacular but a smooth, easy drink.
Suite (2010)
  • Color - very dark burgundy.
  • Aroma - very sweet and syrupy.
  • Taste - dessert but not sickenly sweet; smooth finish.
  • Overall - I'm not a huge dessert wine fan, but this was very smooth and sweet.  A light Port, not overpowering.
NV Brut, $24: "This new Non-Vintage Brut is a blend of primarily Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, giving this wine exciting, crisp fruit characters."
  • Color - clear, golden hay with carbonation.
  • Aroma - citrus, pineapple, and apple.
  • Taste - pleasant bubbly, tart finish.
  • ABV - 12.5%
  • Overall - I'd toast to this! Lovely aroma, typical Champagne taste.
NV Blanc de Noirs, $24: "Our Blanc de Noir is a rich and complex sparkling wine made entirely from the classic Pinot Noir grape.  It has the aromas of rich melon fruit and toasty years, with an abundant citrus and apple characters in the mouth."
  • Color - dark pink, semi-clear, beautiful bubbles.
  • Aroma - bright, with strawberry and melon.
  • Taste - subtle apple, tart. Pear?
  • ABV - 12.5%
  • Overall - Not my favorite, interesting aftertaste.  Not bad.
Brut Rose (2005), $19: "Our Brut Rose California sparkling wine takes its light-garnet hue from limited contact with the grape skins."
  • Color - medium pink, semi-cloudy. Baby pink towards end.
  • Aroma - floral and cherry, very subtle.
  • Taste - creamy and smooth, powerful carbonation with a slight tart finish.
  • ABV - 12.5%
  • Overall - Very pleasant champagne!