Time flies way too fast. As I look back at the various new wines I have tried, I can see empty bottles with handwritten notes overtook my desk and found their way onto the bookshelf. That’s not good. But what that means is that means it is time for the Fall Wine Roundup. A roundup means the comments will be short and to the point and end with a LOVE, LIKE, NMS (not my style), or GLove (Gary loves it, but it’s NMS)
I am breaking this roundup into a couple different posts. This is Roundup #1 which includes two groups. The first is New Kids which are newly created wines with this first vintage released to the public. And New Grapes which are wines made from grapes that you may not have known.
Black Friday and Small Business Saturday Event
20% Case Sale at The Wine Shop
November 23rd & November 24th
Fall Roundup: Two New Kids on The Block
Our Friends, Bryan and Craig are members of the Rutherford Ranch Wine Club. Four Virtues is a sister brand under the Rutherford Ranch umbrella of wines. Gary loves bourbon, so he really wanted to try this wine.
This wine is a dark purple with medium plus acidity and high alcohol. Aromas are jammy with black raspberry, dark cherry and other black fruit to be quite intense. Even some boysenberry syrup. The intense fruit fades on the palate, and a tartness comes through perhaps of cranberries. The bourbon barrel aging hits you on the back end. The acid level lingers through the finish. High abv at 16.8%, which gives me that unpleasant alcohol burn as soon as it hits my lips. It then fades but comes back at the finish and sits on my tongue. I find this wine drinkable; I am not a fan of bourbon or high alcohol content wine which makes this a challenge for me to have more than a small glass. Gary is a huge fan.
2016 Four Virtues Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel is available at big box wines stores including at some Total Wine stores. It retails for about $18.00 at retail stores and $25 direct from the winery.
2016 Cline Family Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel
The Cline Family makes many affordable, easy to drink wines that are widely available at big box wine stores and grocery stores. In the past, I have enjoyed the Cashmere Exquisite Red Blend, but the Ancient Vines label is new to me.
The color of this wine is a translucent, dark ruby. The enticing nose is of cinnamon bark and chocolate. The fruit is ripe fruit and soft tannins and a long lingering finish. On the palate are flavors of concentrated mixed berry jam, vanilla, and coffee beans. It is easy to drink and a bit jammy with a touch of sweetness. I drank this with a spicy Indian dish, so it paired really well with that. This wine is low in acidity.
2016 Cline Family Cellars Ancient Vines Zinfandel sells in the $13 to $15 range. Sells at Big box wine stores and other wine retailers. This wine was sent to me as a sample.
More information about Cline Family Winery
Widely considered to be a California heritage grape, Zinfandel is, in fact, an immigrant, like many American families. Originally from Croatia, where it is known as Tribidrag, a version of the same grape also thrives in Italy as Primitivo. It made its way to America in 1829. In the late-1800s large groups of Italian, Portuguese and Spanish immigrants planted Zinfandel vineyards throughout what is now California’s Contra Costa County along the sandy, well-drained banks of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers. Many of these original vines are still in operation and form the backbone of the Cline Ancient Vines series.
The Cline family’s roots date back to 1907 when Owner Fred Cline’s grandfather, Valeriano Jacuzzi, immigrated from Italy, bringing with him a family tradition of farming and making wine. When Fred and Nancy Cline founded Cline Family Cellars in 1982, Fred set about restoring the head-pruned vines with roots that run deep in sandy soils. Fred and Nancy Cline’s extensive holdings of 80 to 100-year-old head-trained, dry-farmed, own-rooted Zinfandel blocks in Contra Costa County produce significantly lower yields than younger sites and consistently produce fruit of stunning concentration. The warm climate yields rich fruit flavors, but the unique cooling band of air that flows from the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers helps contribute a bright acidity.
Fall Roundup: Of Grapes You May Not Know
2014 Moric Blau Fränkisch Burgenland Austria
The Blaufrankisch variety likely originated somewhere in a swath of land stretching from Dalmatia (Croatia) through Austria and Hungary. It is believed to have been around since the Middle Ages but not documented in any known manner until the mid-1800s. It is a is a dark-skinned grape producing red wines which are typically rich in tannin and with a pronounced spicy character.
The nose of this wine is intensely earthy with strong notes of ash and chalk. Dark cherry flavors lead the pack along with black peppercorns and smoke. It is a thin textured wine with pleasant mild to medium tannins. It is juicy with a peppercorn finish. This would be great with grilled chicken or pork.
From the seller: Unique and big. Moric is making Blaufränkisch with the silkiness of Burgundian Pinot Noir, the tannin structure of Piemonte Nebbiolo and the spiciness of Northern Rhône Syrah.
Arnot-Roberts North Coast, Rosé of Touriga Nacional 2017
Touriga Nacional is a Portuguese red grape that produces low yields with small berries. The high skin to pulp ratio provides a concentrated juice extract. As such, it adds structure and body to wine with its high tannins and concentrated flavors of black fruit.
This Northern California wine is made from a two-acre plot at a 1,400 feet elevation on the North Coast of California. I could not find any other reference to this grape being planted anywhere else in the US. That made me super excited to try this wine.
The color is a pale coral. It has a plush texture with a medium body. This rosé is beautifully balanced with the acid, fruit, and structure all taking their rightful role without overshadowing the other. The nose is earthy. And I know this may sound unappealing to some, a mushroomy forest floor kind of funk. That all disappears with the lime and blood orange flavors on the palate. This wine sells for $27.00 a bottle.
LIKE a lot but not quite a LOVE.
Jean-René Germanier 2016 Fendant Balavaud Grand Cru, Valais, Switzerland
Sadly this wine was in short supply because of the limited amount brought into the United States. If I had to make a comparison, I would say that this wine drinks similarly to a high-end Pinot Grigio. The Swiss call this grape Fendant. Most of the rest of the world calls it Chasselas.
This Grand Cru Fendant is chock full of lemon and tropical fruit with mineral aromas. As you reach the end of your glass, a hint of honey pops into the finish. As this delicious wine warms in your glass, the texture becomes creamy that I find heavenly. It is grown organically on black shale. Avb 12.3% Should this wine come back to Charleston with the new vintage I will give it a go once again. It sells for $36.00 a bottle.
Domaine Charles Audoin Bourgogne Aligoté 2016
I was not expecting to like this wine because of what I was told, and the descriptor card at the store was not signaling wine that I would like. But I was entirely wrong. I could not get enough of this.
This is the “other” white Burgundy and very different from the classic Burgundy of Chardonnay. This Aligoté is medium-bodied yet crisp and bright. It is earthy and mineral-driven with a balanced layer of tart green apple and other summertime flavors. The finish is decidedly spice, perhaps nutmeg.
2016 Le Théüsien Blanc Domaine Allemand Hautes-Alpes IGP, France
From the winemaker: The “Théüsiens” – which take their name from the village Théüs – are the signature wines, emblematic of the area. Vinified as a varietal, they are characterized by their finesse, their elegance, a certain freshness and a touch of minerality that they owe to their altitude terroir. They will allow you to discover the typicality of our region.
100% small cluster muscat grapes from 25-year-old vines on the slopes of the Durance Mountains
We sat on this wine for about 8 or 9 months for some unknown reason. It is a beautiful pale yellow color with some white gold highlights near the edges. It is bone dry and slightly tannic. Ripe pear aromas are on the nose and a tart lime on the palate. As this wine warms the pear morphs to apple flavors and the texture thickens to a delightful creaminess. Lychee fruit and floral perfume come forth at the backend. Finally, Gary wants to drink this wine with a seafood dinner. I will drink it anytime anywhere.