Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cono Sur Delivers Great Balance in a Chilean Sauv Blanc

I have a friend or two, maybe more, who tease me about 'falling in love' with certain grapes or styles of wine for a few weeks and then moving on to something else.

Well, I'm not as bad as a year ago but still guilty.

Right now I'm really enjoying Sauvignon Blanc from Chile. Chile is probably best known for its native Carmenere grape but Sauv Blanc and even Pinot are making a name for Chilean wines.

Friday night I opened a bottle of Cono Sur Organic Sauvignon Blanc, a 2009 San Antonio Valley offering at $13.

It definitely has the big citrus we've all come to expect in Sauv Blanc. I really liked the tart lime sense I was getting on the palate. There is grass and maybe even a hint of pineapple. This was very well-balanced wine. It wasn't overly mineral or grassy which is what made me really love it.

A real wine geek I guess would call it elegant.

It's great bang-for-your-buck white wine. If you can't find Cono Sur (and I suggest you try) there are lots of other Chilean Sauv Blancs out there.

This bottle came as a trade sample along with a bottle of their Pinot Noir. I'll pop that Pinot open soon to see if it holds up to the quality of the white!

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Evolution a Revolution in Big, Flavorful White Wine

Does it take a mad scientist to blend nine grapes into one great American White Wine? Or, is it just dumping all that left over juice into a barrel and getting lucky?

Sokol Blosser’s American white wine Evolution is unique as it is tasty. Sokol Blosser is an iconic name in Oregon, the home of great Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. But SK is now onto about its 12th version of Evolution and it’s a very successful blend.

I remember tasting this wine a couple of years ago and liking it at a bar in the grand domed West Baden Springs Hotel in French Lick, Indiana. Tasting it this week reminded me not just of how much I liked the juice but also how unique it is.

Blending nine grapes seems like a recipe for a disorganized assault on the palate. But Evolution is anything but unorganized. The blend of all those grapes gives the wine a bold, crisp apple flavor. I also got a hint of pineapple.

What I like most is it’s a big full-flavored white wine that is great in hot weather. I think it would pair nicely with a lot of food, including big meat dishes. I was sipping it with crackers in the Florida sun Tuesday afternoon.

It’s refreshing and powerful at the same time.

Okay, nine grapes - count them: Riesling, Semillion, Pinot Grigio, Muscat Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurtzatriner, Pinot Gris, Muller-Thurgau, and Pinot Blanc. It sounds like a mess but it works.

The wine comes in at 12 percent alcohol and is lovely with a really good chill. You’ll find the wine anywhere from $15-$20 in fine wine shops.

The only rating I could find online was an 86 from Wine Spectator. Many people are harsh on blends. I’m not suggesting that’s the case with Evolution and Wine Spectator. But from a drinkablility standpoint, originality, and just plain fun wine - this juice scores closer to a 90 in my mind.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Newspaper Column on Summer Wine Posted

As I sit down to write my next newspaper column, it dawned on me I have not posted the last one.


Last column was about good summer wine choices. You can see it and all other past colums from the link in the left rail, "Grape Sense."

The next published newspaper column will be about wine sales, demographic changes, and some wine items in the news!

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Nice Italian White That's a Bit Bolder Than Expected

I think of Italian and Spanish white wines and I think of acidic, light-flavored wines that are just great in the heat of summer.

I recently received a bottle of Fontana Candida Frascati as a trade sample. When I saw it retailed for $10 I expected the same light style. Now, I must also admit I dont' recall how much Frascati I've actually tasted. I believe I have before I really got into writing and documenting my wine drinking.

Frascati is made largely from the Malvasia grape. It's often blended with Trebbiano.

Frascati has long been Fontana Candida's calling card. The grapes are grown in a region of volcanic soils very near Rome. The marketing materials promote the wine as the "House Wine of Rome" and "The Wine of the Popes."

Fontana Candida has been pushing the quality since the 1980s and trying to improve their wines, according the marketing. They are now distributed in the U.S. by Banfi, a major international marketing force.

But what about the wine? This pale yellow wine suprised me in a couple of ways. It had a bolder flavor than I ever expected. There is definitely pear on the palate and nose. It has a nice acidity but most of all a really nice lingering finish.

This really is a wine that you might think costs more than a ten dollar bill.

There is a lot of Frascati coming out of Italy. But Fontana Candida is one of the biggest producers. It's a great chance to enjoy a very palatable and tasty wine and at extremely affordable price point.

I had the wine with some plain pasta, ground turkey, onions, and just a few diced tomatoes and juice. It was a good combination. This would work on the deck during hot summer days as well.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Catching Up On a Few Things

It's easy to fall out of the habit of updating the blog, even when there is a lot going on and I'm trying new wines.

So just a couple of quick updates.

- When you're the 'wine guy' to friends and at work you get a lot of interesting inquiries and assignments. Two years ago I helped form a committee to choose wines for a huge reunion weekend we host each summer. It was enormous fun.

We did it again Monday, selecting wines for Big Bash 2010. I wrote a short piece about it for our office's Public Affairs blog. You can read that here.

By the way, the Bonarda I described in that blog entry is Broquel 2006 Bonarda. It's produced by Trapice, a name you may be more familiar with than Broquel, and comes from the Mendoza Valley. It rocks.

- I hosted two wine tastings down in Terre Haute - the last one a week ago. I have some marvelous pictures I need to prep, load into an album and link here. I'll get that up in next day or so!

- Finally,I've had some really interesting sample wines arrive at the office lately so I have a lot to review - or, as I like to call it, research!

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