Blends

Review: 2013 Sculpterra Mourevadre

Oh man, do I love a good a good Syrah/Mourevadre blend. While visiting Sculpterra in Paso Robles (highly recommend a visit; the wine is delicious, but they also have an awesome sculpture garden and often have music out in the back), I picked up their Mourevadre, which actually was blended with a bit of Petit Sirah.

This dry red wine has a bit of vanilla in there, making it sweeter than expected. Some fig and plum also pop out. The wine is aged in oak for 10 months, 25% in French Oak.

I brought it along to one of our favorite Italian restaurants in Santa Monica called Fritto Misto. It has a cheap corkage fee ($2 a person, not bad!).

Nuts & Bolts:

Winery: Sculpterra
Type: 88% Mourevadre, 12% Petit Sirah
Origin: Paso Robles
Vintage: 2013
Price: $36
Alcohol content: 15.3%
When to drink: Have a few friends or family over for spaghetti and meatballs and pop open this Cab (remember to give it plenty of time to breathe first).

Review: 2012 Hahn Winery GSM

This blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourevedre is fruit-forward with a long, dry finish. The grenache makes it bold and the meaty mourevedre sews it all together. I tasted dark fruits–blackberries and blueberries–in this deep ruby-colored wine.

IMG_20140712_201658

 

I enjoyed it a lot with some meaty pasta at one of my Favorite Italian joints, Fritto Misto, which lets you BYOB for just a $2 cork charge. Not bad.

This is a solid blend and I would recommend a buy.

Nuts & Bolts:

  • Winery: Hahn Winery
  • Type: GSM (Grenache, 67%, Syrah, 28%, Mourevedre, 5%)
  • Origin: Napa
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $10-$20, according to wine-searcher.com
  • Alcohol content: Forgot to write it down, shame on me!
  • When to drink: I think this is a solid everyday red wine. Always a good idea to have one in house when you need a bottle.

Marisa Sergi: the 20-year-old vintner

When I first came across Marisa Sergi on Twitter (@MarisaSergi), I was shocked to see that at 20, she had already bottled her own wine! I had to get to know this girl!

_MG_3444

Marisa is a third-generation winemaker. Her grandfather, who immigrated to the U.S. from Italy when he was 24, brought the family tradition of winemaking with him. Her grandfather and father would make wine together in their basement and in 2006, her father opened L’uva Bella Winery in 2006 in Ohio, as an homage to her grandfather.

When the winery opened, Marisa helped with the grape crushing, fermentation and gave a hand in the lab. But even before that, she has fond memories of walking in circles with her sister in her family’s garage to crank a hand-operated basket to help make wine.

“Coming from a wine family has allowed for my true passion and destiny of having a career in winemaking to merge,” said the Cornell University Enology student. “I cannot picture my life any other way, or having another career choice.”
LVBW008_Red Head_report_Front
Marisa’s brainchild: Redhead Wine is a blend of California Zinfandel and Chilean Carmenere grapes with one sexy label. While I haven’t tasted it myself (editor’s note: this is a feature on an interesting young winemaker and not a review), Marisa said the red table wine, which has been sold since Fall 2013, “offers notes of sweet plums, black cherries and blackberries with a fiery kick at the finish.” The wine has been one of the top 10 sold at L’uva Bella since October 2013, she said. As of now, there are 220 cases available.
LVBW008_Red Head_report_Back

WFTW: What’s your favorite part about making your own wine?

MS: My favorite part about making my own wine is that I am able to combine the knowledge and family tradition I grew up with into such a large accomplishment.  Not many people can say they have made their own wine at my age.  I did this to make my family proud and do whatever I can to make my mark on the wine industry.

WFTW: What was the greatest challenge you faced when making it?

MS: The greatest challenge was definitely getting the label approved by the [Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau].  There are many specific laws you need to meet to be able to get a label approved.  If you do not get TTB approval, you cannot legally sell a wine.  It took me three submissions to get it through.  But, the hard work was worthwhile and I felt a great sense of accomplishment when I found out on my birthday that it was approved!

WFTW: Who is your audience? Are they college students like you, people just getting into wine, ladies who lunch, wine aficionados, blend lovers, etc?

MS: My audience varies; I designed my wine for a large group of consumers to like it.  It is a sweet and spicy red wine; a California Zinfandel and Chilean Carmenere blend; I brought my favorite two wine regions together in one bottle.  Right now, sweet reds are very popular and I decided to create a wine that was already popular in the market but was also unique.  The spice from the Zinfandel, my label and having two renown wine regions in one bottle makes my wine a little different than a typical sweet red.  I feel anyone could like my wine!

WFTW: What are your friends’ thoughts on wine?

MS: My best girl friends tend to enjoy a sweet red, but my enology friends tend to enjoy dry and fruity California wines.

Redhead Wine is sold at L’uva Bella Winery for $15 a bottle, but Marisa is working to get it sold nationwide. She has partnered with Superior Beverage Group in Ohio, which will begin distributing her wine at the end of the year. You can follow @Redheadwine on Twitter and Instagram.

Review: 2012 Ceibo Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon

If I had to pick one word to describe this Malbec, it would be tart. The wine has a lot of structure and a zesty flavor at the end, but I felt like the tart, pomegranate flavor was distracting. There’s also a flowery essence to the drink, which I tasted, but my fellow drinker did not. Overall, I’d skip this wine if you’re going down the aisles in search of a new Malbec to try. I think I’ll probably use the leftover wine in the bottle for cooking, perhaps for an Arrabbiata style red tomato sauce.

IMG_20131230_194902

 

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Ceibo
  • Type: Malbec (70%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (30%)
  • Origin: Mendoza
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: Gifted
  • Alcohol content: 13.8%
  • When to drink: I can’t think of an appropriate situation for this one because I didn’t like it much.

Review: 2012 Apothic Red Winemaker’s Blend

After a day full of skiing in Big Bear, your body craves Alleve and warmth. Apothic Red is the next best thing.

The sweet, vanilla-y red blend will soothe what ails you and warm you right up, especially if you have a glass or three.

IMG_20131229_180816

The mixture of Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon is an easy-drinker, minus the alcohol tinge at the end. But the major fruitiness of the blend makes up for that negative. If you like your fruity reds bold and smoky though, I’d stay away from this saccharine libation.

Making the drinking experience all the better, I got to hang out with this fine Australian Shepherd.

IMG_20131229_181733

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Apothic Red
  • Type: Winemaker’s blend (Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • Origin: Modesto
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $7
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: After a day of skiing the slopes!

Review: 2012 Jarenincan Crnko

Bet you can’t say that five times fast.

I bought this Slovenian white blend of riesling and dry muscat hoping to drink it with a delicious meal featuring lemon garlic cod and jasmine rice, but I decided to bring this table wine to a pre-New Year’s Eve party since it’s 1-Liter size and bottle cap top make it difficult for individual consumption.

OK let’s stop right there. Yes, this wine has a bottle cap on it.

IMG_20131231_191255

Not a screw top and not a cork. Weird, huh. It’s the wine of the people over in Slovenia, served in every country tavern and in every household, so I guess the bottle cap blends well with that scene.

IMG_20131231_191329

That’s not the only thing weird about this number. It’s lemony and zesty and reminds me of the idea of an alcoholic Fresca.

IMG_20131231_191239

Great for easy drinking, I decided to bring it to the pre-party because I knew it would be low-key, great for a crowd and a nice, light precursor to the Old Fashioneds and other bourbon/whiskey cocktails I’d ride for the rest of the evening, which by the way was filled with beautiful views of Los Angeles and sparklers!

IMG_20131231_230128

 

IMG_20140101_000027

The wine is hand-picked from a family vineyard in northeastern Slovenia that features fossil-rich soils. The blend changes from year to year, according to the folks at Vintage Berkeley.

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Crnko
  • Type: blend of riesling and dry muscat
  • Origin: Slovenia
  • Vintage: 2012
  • Price: $15
  • Alcohol content: I left the bottle at that pre-New Year’s soiree and forgot to write this down!
  • When to drink: Tuck this in a picnic basket as you head out to the park on a summery day with your friends, a croquet set and this amazing lemon-feta dip.

Thanksgiving Wine

When Wine Library, a discount wine retailer, asked its followers on Twitter which wines they were picking up for Thanksgiving, it got me thinking: which wines should I pick up for Thanksgiving?

One follower said she was eyeing a 2012 Pascal Pibaleau Rouge L’heritage D’aziaum. When I read that I had to shake my head and refocus my eyes a bit because of the long string of words, so I’ll be patient as you re-read it.

And, we’re back.

So what’s the deal with the Pascal Pibaleau Rouge L’heritage D’aziaum? It’s a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Gamay. Sounds yummy.

According to Wine Library, it is:

“With lots of bright red fruit, hints of earthiness, and a nice amount of acidity, the Pibaleau L’Heritage D’Aziaum is a versatile food wine, that will pair with chicken, pork, vegetable, and fish dishes.”

lazium

Malbec, in general, can draw in pepper, licorice, coffee and black fruit flavors, while Cabernet France, can exude plum, blackberry or vegetable-like aromas, depending on ripeness.

At $16.98, it’s a stretch, but not a budget-buster.

Another tweep said she was grabbing Brunello di Montalcino. That wine is made from Sangiovese grapes that are grown in Montalcino, a hilltop town in Italy.  According to wine-searcher.com, the $19 wine is “known for its brilliant garnet hue and its bouquet of berries with underlying vanilla and spice. A hint of earthiness brings balance to the finest examples.”

With these suggestions in mind, I’m still thinking about going another direction: Beaujolais. Beaujolais wines can be easy-drinking, fruity and graciously play a supporting role without stealing the spotlight from the star of Thanksgiving: the turkey.

I’d recommend Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages. It’s a good value (last time I bought it, it was $10, but wine-searcher has it ranging from $10-$14). It’s light, fruity (think raspberry and plum) and I think it’ll please guests varying tastes.

Georges_Duboeuf_Beaujolais-Villages1

Here are some more Thanksgiving wine suggestions from the all-knowing internet:

What are your Thanksgiving wine suggestions?

Review: Area 5.1 White Light

I trotted through the Urban Wine Trail in Santa Barbara after a friend suggested the route when I told her my boyfriend and I were celebrating our anniversary on the American Riviera. While on the trail–which has the feel of a bar hop swapping cocktails for wine–the lovely people at Oreana Winery suggested we check out Area 5.1 across the street.

It’s a small tasting room, tucked into what seems like a business plaza, much different than other wineries on the trail that actually make wine on the premises. Rather than looking like a traditional tasting room, the winery felt like a classy sports bar. Football was playing on TV–which I usually dislike in wine tasting rooms, but it went with the vibe– and a large scoreboard-like marquee noted who made what wine and who was on duty.

Area 5.1 is owned by two Australian guys who decided to play off their resident alien statuses. All their wines are blends and cheeky takes on secret government investigations of the other worldly.

I bought two bottles of wine from them, a white blend called White Light and a red blend called Majestic 12, although they were over my typical price limit. I was on vacation! It was my anniversary! I was getting tipsy!

This review is about the White Light. I’ll tell you about the Majestic 12 another time.

 IMG_6785

White Light was crisp and refreshing, fruity–think tropical tastes– without being sticky on the tongue. I uncorked it at a dinner party we had with some friends. We made shrimp strifry, cookies made from the spent grain left over after we home brewed pumpkin beer, and toasted with glasses of White Light.

I would definitely drink it again!

Nuts and Bolts

  • Winery: Area 5.1
  • Type: Blend of Savignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Semillon
  • Origin: Santa Ynez
  • Vintage: 2011
  • Price: $22
  • Alcohol content: 13.5%
  • When to drink: At a bachelorette party dinner, before the shots.