Sip: Those special wines that fall into your lap or forgot that you even had. Taste: New wines to share with others. Chug: Doing what I did to get through the election and COVID-19. You may not have heard much from me lately, but I have been busy sipping, drinking, and tasting a lot of wine. Ok, not really chugging, but you know what I mean… I so wanted to chug sometimes. So let’s get to it.
Sip This: 2016 “1886” Cabernet Sauvignon, Ehler Estate, St. Helena, Napa Valley
Suffice it to say, when friends presented this wine to share with us, Gary and I were over the moon. We had a great experience at Ehlers Estate during a visit in 2018, so we knew what we were about to enjoy. On the contrary, our friends had no idea what they had as it was a gift. And when we told them that this was the flagship wine from Ehlers Estate and that they should take it home for a special occasion, they refused. They said they wanted to share it with us because we would appreciate it. These are great friends. And we did appreciate it in a big way.
FYI: Eighteen-eighty-six is the year of completion for the stone farmhouse that now is the Welcome Center, Tasting Room, and winery offices.
A Side Note:
This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. To me, that says a great deal about the winemaker, the wine, and the crop’s quality from which it came. Providing a thorough explanation as to why will take me down a deep and complex rabbit hole. So think of it this way. Making wine is part science and part artistic expression. Science only takes you so far, and then the winemaker has to make decisions to make the best wine possible.
Sometimes to bring out the best in wine, a winemaker may choose to blend small amounts of other varieties (in this case Bordeaux varieties like i.e., Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot) into the primary variety. In the upper echelons of wine, the amount from other varieties is 10% or less*. A winemaker may blend 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. So when a winemaker chooses to make a 100% variety wine, the winemaker believes he/she is making the best possible expression of the grape and its terrior for this bottling.
One More Side Note:
The 2016 vintage, I believe, is the last vintage that winemaker Kevin Morrisey made from “vineyard to bottling” at Ehlers Estate. In July 2018, he was replaced by Laura Munoz Diaz.
The color is a deep purple, as one would expect. The nose is plush and rich with aromas of black fruits, especially black plum and blackberry. The first sip showed incredible balance. The body is full. The acid is pleasing and smooth. The black fruits in the nose are also on the palate with a hint of cedar. The tannins are plush and velvety. The finish…. ahh, the finish. It lingers.
This is heaven in a glass. I have never sipped a glass of wine as slowly as I did this one.
It does not appear that the 2016 vintage is available any longer. However, there are past vintages of 2011 thru 2015, as well as the 2017 vintage. The prices for these vintages range from $125.00 per bottle to $165.00 per bottle. You can purchase directly from the Ehlers Estate website.
2018 Sokol Blosser Estate Müller-Thurgau, Dundee Hills, Willamette Valley, OR
I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon at Sokol Blosser in the fall of 2019 as part of the WWET Willamette Conference. During a break, I headed to the tasting room to sample some additional wines that they make. When I saw this Müller-Thurgau on the menu, I had to try it. It is part of my quest to try wines that I have never had before. (currently at 131 different varieties)
Müller-Thurgau is a white grape variety created by Hermann Müller from the Swiss Canton of Thurgau in 1882. It is a crossing of Riesling with an even more rare grape, Madeleine Royale. Madeleine Royal ripens very early (as early as July), so this grape and the resulting cross making Müller-Thurgau is an excellent variety to plan in colder climates and at higher elevations.
Every time I say this variety of grape, I think of one of my favorite all-time movies, Ferris Bueller‘s Day off. In a monotonous lazy sound, Müller, Müller, Müller! OK, fine, it’s Bueller! But I giggle every time.
This was a fun wine to share with Gary. He was sure he would not like it due to the floral notes, but the nicely balanced acid reeled him in.
Nose and palate display beautiful generic floral notes but also a more distinctive note of honeysuckle. On the palate also come mango and a bit of apricot that comes with the pop of acid.
The low AVB of 10% makes this a great sipper on a hot day. For the unfamiliar…think of a marriage between Viognier and Riesling…Yum!
This is a beautiful wine. I’d pair it with my favorite Thai foods.
While the 2018 vintage is sold out, I would definitely head to the website and pick up the 2019 vintage. It sells for $28.00 a bottle.
Sokol Blosser Winery is located at 5000 Sokol Blosser Ln, Dayton, OR 97114 * 503 864 2282
Alloro Vineyard 2019 Vino Rosa, Rosé of Pinot Noir, Laurelwood District, Willamette Valley AVA, Oregon
Last October, I had the pleasure of hosting a private wine tasting for one of my clients’ family and friends. I chose to offer Alloro Vineyard wines from Willamette Valley, Oregon because I felt these wines matched my client’s palate and what she told me of her guests. A post about all of these wines is forthcoming, but I really wanted to give a shout out to this wine, specifically. In the past year, I have sampled a great number of Rosé of Pinot Noir. This one is, by far, my favorite. Actually, this is close to being my favorite of all rosés this year. And perhaps of all time. That is how much I loved this wine.
Sadly, it is sold out. But that does not surprise me. I will be checking in with them in the spring to see if they were able to make a rose from the 2020 harvest.
This wine is beautifully balanced with a crisp, bright start. The nose offers a sweet red fruit compote aroma. But the palate delivers tart red raspberry and cooked rhubarb. I love acid in wine, especially rosé. This wine delivers in spades. You first detect it in the crisp and bright entrance of your mouth, and then it comes back around at the end for a long, mouthwatering finish. Just hold it in your mouth for a minute, and it will linger as long as you wish. The color is a salmony, coral pink with gold edges. The ABV is 13.8%, which normally would be a tad high for me, but it holds the alcohol in balance very well.
I am going to have to hoard the few bottles that we have. And when I drink, it will have to be a slow sip, pause, sip, pause, pause, sip. This is a rosé for all seasons. It is sold directly from the winery. Again, this vintage is sold out.
With the new ownership of The Wine Shop of Charleston, we have been frequenting more often. The new owners and her staff have brought in some new and interesting wines that would never have seen the light of day under the previous owner. There are several really great wine shops in town. Just stocking the usual finds is no longer good enough. Below are two wines we purchased that made for some wonderful sips. Once was a delish and well-made wine that did not match Gary and my style preference, and the other was a bull’s eye! I look forward to more finds at The Wine Shop of Charleston.
2019 Produttori di Manduria, “Alice” Verdeca, Salento, Apulia, Italy
This wine was pulled off the shelves by Sommelier Desmond Garrity, the former owner/operator of Crushed Fine Wine in Mt. Pleasant, who now works at The Wine Shop. We bought it on his recommendation alone, and boy, are we glad we did.
We drank it while enjoying some salty cheese and charcuterie recently, and it hit the spot. Fabulous creamy texture. Notes of orchard fruit, most notably pear. There is a mineral/salinity finish that is just perfect. Acid is middle of the road, and it works. This is a must-buy for those who love to try new white wines. It sells for $19.99. A great pricepoint for a delicious wine.
2019 Anna Rosé, Gönc Winery, Slovenia
Knowing that we are rosé lovers, Laurie and Desmond also suggested this rosé from Slovenia. It is a blend of 50% Žametna črnina, 20% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Grigio, 10% Blaufrankisch. Žametna črnina is an indigenous grape of Slovenia. NOTE: There is a vine of Žametna črnina in Slovenia that is the oldest known vine to produce fruit. It is estimated to be 400 years old.
When it comes to rosé, Gary and I both love lots of acidity. Some might call us acid addicts, but that could be misinterpreted, so I won’t. For us, this wine was big fruit flavors (strawberry and orange stood out for us). Lovely medium body that I imagine comes from the three months of lees aging.
I am sure there are lots of folks who will find this wine right in their wheelhouse. Under the right circumstances, I might even buy this again myself. I will certainly give it another go when the next vintage hits the market. This wine sells for $17.99 at The Wine Shop. I’d call ahead to see if they still have some.
Thanks, Kelsey Knight, for the use of this image.
*In the USA, to call a wine by its variety, the wine must be at least 75% of that variety. Some winemakers take advantage of this flexibility to maintain a house style, offset vintage variation or augment structure, color, or aromatics. It is safe to say the cheaper wines may add as much as 25% other varieties, but the best wines, if they add any at all, will be 10% or less.
One Last Thing
I want to apologize for being offline for the past seven weeks. Let’s just say that I went through some stuff that I can now refer to jokingly as “My Dark Period.” Between Covid-19, the election, the time change, and the shorter days of winter, they all took their toll on my mental health. I am better now.
I have since learned that I am not alone in this and I want you to know that you are not either. Talk to someone you trust. It helps.
Cheers, and Happy Holidays…
Rick & Gary