Category: Booze

Wine reviews, pairings, events, and getaways

Panther Creek Cellars 2017 Carter Vineyard Pinot Noir

This is the last in my line-up of single-vineyard Pinot Noir tastings from Panther Creek. (Although I do have a bonus post coming up…). They were all beautiful in their own right, offering a surprising amount of diversity in each bottle. From the infant-youthful Maverick, to the regal De Ponte, and the easy drinking Lazy River.

So how did this Carter Vineyard stack up? I loved this wine—it filled me up body and soul. Well balanced in flavor and texture, and the perfect pairing to our salmon salad. I know I shouldn’t pick favorites, but I think this Pinot Noir (in the line of Panther Creek single-vineyards) comes second only the the Kalita Vineyard. Read on…

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ChardonNay or ChardonYay: Tasting Through Talley Vineyards New Releases

I decided to play a fun game with myself. Having received the newest Chardonnay releases from Talley Vineyards, each of which highlights a separate vineyard in California’s Central Coast, I wanted to see if I could taste the difference between each. The short answer to that question: yes, yes I can.

This post is entitled ChardonNay or ChardonYay because, in case you haven’t picked up from previous posts, I personally have a hard time with the variety. Chardonnay is like putty in a winemaker’s hands—it will mold or melt, form or fragment depending on how much he or she wants to “do” with it. It easily picks up on oak barrel spices; delivers the toast and bread-y notes from lees aging; and if ever there was a variety that can speak to the aromas and flavors from malolactic conversion, it is Chardonnay. Indeed, the grape can be easily manipulated and, oft times (especially in the new world), over-worked.

So, I was not only curious if I could taste the difference between the various vineyards, I was curious if I’d have a preference between them. The short answer to that question: yes, yes I did.

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What the Falanghina? Clime Wines 2018 Falanghina

I had no idea what a Falanghina was before Byron over at Clime Wines sent me one. So, what better place to turn than the glorious pages of the Oxford Companion to Wine? (A must for anyone going through the WSET Diploma program. Or self-proclaimed super-wine-nerds…)

Falanghina: “…It produces attractive, unoaked, fragrant wines of real interest. Modern fermentation enabled producers to preserve its aromas, which gave it a new lease of life from the mid-1990s.”

The grape, if you can’t tell by the name, traces its heritage back to Italy. According to the Oxford Companion, there are two varieties: the less common Falanghina Beneventana of Benevento province and the “leafy-smelling” Falanghina Flegrea of Campi Flegrei, “Campania’s signature white wine grape…and is now the base for Falerno del Massico and Sannio DOCs.” It’s noted that the 2010 Italian vine census did not distinguish between the two when it counted more than 7,500 acres planted to the grape.

Well, there you go. But what about here in California? Well, if you do a search for it in the 2019 California grape crush report, you won’t find it, which means there’s probably so little planted that it falls into that “other white” category. But El Dorado County’s Viani Vineyard has some planted in a plot just overlooking the American River. The altitude, along with decomposed granitic soils, gives this wine a bit of a steely minerality mixed with its innate floral aromatics. And, contrary to what my encyclopedia says, winemaking utilizes a touch of neutral French oak as well, lending a bit of roundness in the mouthfeel to the very light-bodied wine, while lees aging adds a touch of complexity and structure.

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