I Want Candy! 

It’s too damn hot for Malbec Monday. After breaking a sweat from the minute I started out today, I wasn’t keen on drinking something that would make me ferment any more. So I opted to try a blend that’s not only new to me but it’s chilled! Even better. 

I won this 2015 Pillitteri Gerwürztraminer | Riesling at a charity golf tournament his past weekend and today, nestled there, chilling in my fridge, it looked so sweet it made my mouth water. 

Normally, I’m not a fan of really sweet wine, and I thought the addition of Riesling might tip the scales from medium dry to cloying. But this wine surprised me with a delicate hint of candied rose on the nose, and subtle flavours of orange blossom and white stone fruit (peach) on the palate. This is a light to medium body wine with very refreshing acidity. All of the flavours were nicely balanced, and it would pair nicely with slightly spicy pork and grilled strawberries. Yum!

Gerwürztraminer is a variety that typically produces beautifully perfumed whites and can range from dry, off dry and fuller bodied, high alcohol and lower acidity. In combination with Riesling’s higher acidity, this wine might be able to be aged a little longer, developing lush honey and nut aromas. 

On a scorcher like today,  it had everything I desire; setting the summer sun on fire. 😉

Cheers! 

Just Another Malbec Monday! 🍷

It’s the start of the week and a little motivation is needed. So I’ve added a new feature to The Wine Student: Malbec Mondays. It’s my way to help you ease back into that work week.

For this inaugural post, I chose a 2013 Elqui Wines Malbec blend. While Argentina is most noted  for its beautiful Malbec, the Elqui Valley in Chile produces  wonderful offerings that are fruit forward, earthy,  while retaining a pleasing silky mouthfeel. With 52% Syrah, and 37% Carménère and 11% Malbec this wine is a multi-faceted intro to some intriguing Chilean wine. It pairs well with sweet, spicy and barbeque dishes. Not a bad way to begin a week, eh?

So you may not be stoked by having to be back to work. That’s ok. The real fun can begin when you sign out for the day, get home and slip into something more comfortable.

And after a few sips, you’ll be glad it’s just another Malbec Monday. 😉

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2017

Happy Australia Day!🇦🇺

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G’Day M8’s!

I’m sure any one from Australia who reads that will be about as happy as a Canadian who hears, “EH???” or “oot an aboot”. But since it is #AustraliaDay, I am here to celebrate and enjoy a blend I found while out and about hunting for an Aussie wine. The 2011 Schild Estate Old Bush Vine GMS (Grenache, Mourvèdre, Shiraz) was a vintage I wasn’t familiar with, but the Aussie spirit is one of adventure so I scooped it up.

But first a little background one of the grapes and the growing region of Barossa. Most of you are pretty familiar with Shiraz and I’ve written about Grenache in a previous post, so I’ll focus today’s study hall on Mourvèdre grape, and what is an old bush vine. But please be careful if you Google ‘old bush’. In fact, I’ll save you the trouble, don’t Google it at all. Trust me.

The Mourvèdre grape is a tough little contender, and some of the oldest vines in the world are located down under in Australia. Thick-skinned and drought tolerant, it can do very well in hot growing regions and ripens late in the growing season. That makes it a perfect grape for the Barossa appellation (growing region) of South Australia. Barossa is one of six wine producing zones, with two specific regions: the Barossa Valley and the Eden Valley. The Barossa Valley has moderate elevated areas with flat valley floors that succumb to very hot summers with temperatures hitting over 95F (30C). Rainfall is modest and with sparse natural water in the soil, irrigation is critical, even though many varietals can sustain and produce amazingly complex wines in drought conditions. While its main varietal is Shiraz, Barossa is home to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Semillion and Voignier. Grenache and Mourvèdre thrive and blend well with Shiraz. If you’ve enjoyed Châteneuf De Pape, you’ve enjoyed this blend.

Barossa old vines are protected under the Barossa Old Vine Charter, instituted to register vineyards by age, ensuring that older, beautifully gnarled vines are preserved, retained and protected from being destroyed.

  • Barossa Old Vine ~ => 35 years. The root structure and trunk thickness are very well established, encouraging increased character and diversity of flavor.
  • Barossa Survivor Vine ~ => 70 yrs. These vines have weathered very tough storms and are a tribute to the growers and winemakers who prize structure and quality of old vines.
  • Barossa Centenarian Vine ~ => 100 years. These vines are resistant to phylloxera, allowing vines to mature into their stunning, gnarled sculpture. They have a lower yield but intense flavor,and are cultivated using dry farming techniques.
  • Barossa Ancestor Vine ~ => 125+ years. This is the great, great grandaddy of them all. These vines have been standing loud and proud and are a living tribute to Barossa’s earliest European settlers. The old stocks are the buttress of this wine region, and are some of the oldest producing vines in the world, are dry grown, have low yield but very high intensity in flavor.

What’s an old bush, you ask? It’s any parcel of land in Australia that’s undeveloped or close to the forest or desert.

So how did this wine taste? The nose had a lovely, bright floral vibe with notes of violet. It had a medium mouthfeel and tasted of plum, blackberry compote, rich, Luxardo maraschino cherry, with hints of leather and tobacco on the finish.

Some wines tend to need to sit a while to get their groove on, this one seemed more old world in style; the first sip tasted as good as the last.

Proof positive that things really do get better with age.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2017

What I Did This Summer Part 2: Redemption, a Star Turn and a Little French Kiss 💋

Jordan Winery and Vineyard

After a busy few weeks of getting my daughter moved and relatively settled in at college, I’m back to my studies. Here’s the second half of my ‘what I did this summer’ report.

The second day of our excellent wine adventure took Hubby Doug and I to three vastly different wineries. One had a home-spun vibe, one had a very cinematic feel and the last took us back in time to a beautiful french chateau.

Alexander Valley Vineyard (AVV) ~ In 1961, Harry and Maggie Wetzel purchased the homestead of Cyrus Alexander (the valley’s namesake). In 1963, they planted their first grapes, and In 1968, with perseverance and resolve, their first Cabernet was bottled and a lifetime love of winemaking was born. Winemaker Kevin Hall along with three generations of the Wetzel family are continuing the family legacy of winemaking and farming.

The winery has a cosy tasting room, and an underground cave where we learned about how wines are barrel aged. Very cool (literally). 🙂
When we arrived at AVV, it was just after they’d opened for the day. And while it seemed a bit early to sample, in the name of research we summoned the ‘five-o’clock-somewhere’ rule and tried a couple of small samples. Our two favorite were the 2013 Redemption Zinfandel and the 2012 Cyrus. Both were beautifully nuanced, yet full-bodied.

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Francis Ford Coppola ~ Driving through the archway gave us the feel of what it must have been like to drive on to a movie lot (without the guard asking if you’re ‘on the list’). Coppola winery was one of the most unique I’ve experienced. It had a img_5614picturesque pool area with cabine where you can spend the day with your family. Most water areas at wineries are reservoirs, overflow basins or decorative ponds that they always kick me out of. Bocce courts and lazy hammocks overlooking the valley give a chill vibe that invite you to grab a glass and relax.

Inside the winery is the main tasting room and movie museum with select memorabilia from several Coppola classics including Apocalypse Now, Tucker: The Man and His Dream, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and the giant neon martini glass from One From The Heart. Our tasting experience was the Sonoma Inclusive at the main tasting bar. Our pick of the flight was the 2012 Director’s Cut Cinema blend of Cab Sauv, Zin, Petit Syrah and Syrah, and the 2012 1Mille Cab Franc.

One of the coolest wine tasting experiences that I’d love to return for is Tasting in the Dark. Small groups are led to the Coppola tasting labs, then blindfolded and led through a variety of sensory appreciation activities designed to fine tune the senses. Hoby Wedler, a UC Davis graduate, who is himself without sight, leads each group to the discovery of flavor and essence; allowing other senses to become stronger in the absence of sight. As we know when one sense is gone, others take over, and this experience would be amazing to help one begin sharpening their palate.

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Jordan Vineyard and Winery ~ our final stop of the day took us up a winding road to another world. This by appointment only winery made me think a little of Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon – beautiful, elegant and very regal.

When Jordan was established in 1972, the choice was deliberate to focus on creating only singular varietals, but doing them very well. Their Cab Sauv is produced from the Alexander Valley, and Chardonnay exclusively from the Russian River Valley. The philosophy being that by focussing on singular wines, a better continuity of style will be achieved, and a consistent realization of balance between fruit, acidity, tannin, and alcohol. Each vintage you open will generally have the same qualities time after time.

We chose the Library Tasting, a one hour tasting. The Chardonnay tasting was paired with an Ahi Poke with Quinoa and Heirloom Tomatoes. Usually I’m not into raw tuna but this was a lovely combination that beautifully enhanced the subtle notes of the wine.

On to the private tasting room where we sampled three older vintage Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a variety of artisan cheeses and a Jordan Estate Olive Oil.

Our pick? If you guessed Cab Sauv, grab yourself a glass of wine because you are very smart! Our vintage was the 2007~ something very special indeed.

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It was an amazing day of touring and tasting and I hope one day I’ll be lucky enough to go back.

Cheers!

©TheWineStudent, 2016

Red, white and… not blue :D


On this particularly beautiful Independence Day weekend, HubbyDoug and I decided to try something new. It’s a chill weekend, which we purposely decided to keep relaxed; no superbig plans, just a come-what-may vibe.

To celebrate, we found a 2013 Ghost Pines Red Winemaker’s Blend. Combining Zinfandel, Cab Sauv, Syrah, Merlot, Petit Syrah, and Primitivo, this wine was so complex and flavorful, even from the first  waft of the bouquet. Hints of lush blackberry jam on the nose, with rich blueberry compote and a cinnamon finish on the palate made this wine one of the most intriguing sips I’ve experienced in a very long time.

With a bottle this nice, we didn’t need fireworks.

I hope you all have a safe and happy July 4th!

Cheers!

Tricks and Treats: my top picks for Hallowe’en ’15! 

The witching hour is nigh! And to celebrate, I narrowed down my choices this year to two bewitching vintages. The label art had a little to do with it. But what was listed on the label was most intriguing.

I offer up to you, in no particular order (and also because I haven’t tried them… yet) ~ my top two Hallowe’en wine picks!

2012 Alma Negra M Blend (black soul) ~ a blend so mysterious, they don’t even list what’s in it! Which, frankly, is what piqued my curiosity. A little trip into the catacombs to research was indicated. Grape varietals in this blend are Bonarda and Malbec. Oh, the skeleton references i could make about Bone-arda (bad pun = everybody sip). Bonarda, described as the ‘workhorse’ grape of Argentina, produces large yields is lighter-bodied than Malbec yet fruit forward with flavors of cherry, plum with moderate acid and light tannins. This vintage was aged eight months in 50% American – 50% French oak barrels.

 2014 Sinister Hand ~ This spirited vintage, while young, is made in the Rhone style, blending Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault. Prone to rot in damp conditions (think nasty zombie),  Cinsault thrives in hot appellations. When added to Rhone, it adds structure, perfume and softness, making this offering sound beautifully complex indeed.

Anyone who loves a good horror story can tell you, it’s not the simple tale that’s spine-tingling. It’s the one that builds, and has complex twists and turns that are the most satisfying.

The real trick for me will be to not rip into these treats before Hallowe’en!

Cheers! 
©TheWineStudent, 2015

Happy Hallowine!

It’s two days to ghoul and if you haven’t found something for your goblet, I have some suggestions for you. And you don’t have to go into the dark recesses of the catacombs to find them. Most were at World Market at spooktacular price points.

Remember a while back I wrote that when I make a bad pun, you can take a sip? Start now before they get really horrific.

Am I bewitched by a label? I confess, I am a big sucker for fun label art. HubbyDoug just looks at me, rolls his eyes and spins his head around a few times. Good thing he hasn’t started speaking in tongues; I might have to consult an exorcist.

I stayed with the blood reds this year, in keeping with the season. Here is my bare bones list, in no particular order:

  • Rest In Peace ~ 2011 California Red Wine Blend ~ I quite liked the fruit forward, raspberry jammy vibe. It settled into pleasant earthier tastes of tobacco, leather(face) and the tiniest whisper of chocolate on the finish. A nice sipping wine to keep the vampires from your door.
  • Monster Mash ~ 2012 Lodi Red Blend ~ A melding of Lodi Zinfandel and Petit Sirah. It surprisingly had a nose as thin as Slenderman. But no matter; it had a nice tobacco ` cherry vibe with high alcohol and oak flavors. If you have a taste for a somewhat grounded, yet bright red go for this mash. It’s a graveyard smash.
  • Trick ~ 2013 California Red Table Wine ~ The lightest in color, this Trick was a little more of a tart-y treat (kind of like most women’s Halloween costumes). It tasted of unripened strawberry and cherry, and reminded me a little of War Heads sour candy with its pucker-y, ‘get you in the sides of the mouth’ effect. Nice if you like a little zing in your wine.
  • Phantom ~ 2011 California Red ~ Bogle Vineyards ~ This phantom was no misty apparition, from the moment I opened the bottle I detected a spirited nose of rich, raspberry jam. It had the deepest blood red color of the four and tasted of blackberry with a little smoke. The flavours were subtle and lurking at first, then I slowly became aware of them. But I wasn’t afraid. This was a friendly ghost.

On All Hallow’s, the devil is in the details. And I hope these few suggestions help get you started to find the most fun for your celebrations. Scaring up some poison for fright night should be like child’s play. But stay away from the two buck Chuck(y).

I hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween!

Boo!

©TheWineStudent, 2014