Tag Archives: 2007

Wine O’Clock: Bighorn Cellars Camelback Vineyard Chardonnay 2007

22 Jun

Chardonnay exploded onto the California wine scene in the 1970’s with the hometown boys of Chateau Montelena besting the French in the famous Judgement of Paris in 1976.  By 1988, plantings of Chardonnay in California surpassed those in all of France.  By 2005, California-grown Chardonnay accounted for 100,000 acres or 25% of the world’s Chardonnay plantings.  Those Left Coasters know their way around the grape.  I have come to love Chardonnay from Sonoma and Napa since I poured a Sonoma vs. Napa tasting at Barriques in Middleton  a few months ago.  The best examples I have tried have expertly balanced New World-style tropical fruits with soft, buttery oakiness for a sublimely complex-yet-smooth experience.

The Bighorn Cellars Camelback Vineyard Chardonnay 2007 comes from the Los Carneros AVA, which is in the Sourthernmost extent of Napa.  As such, the grapes are soothed by ample coastal fog and bay breezes that allow the grapes to develop complexity without ripening too quickly.  This offering is currently a tasting selection at Barriques Wine & Spirits in Middleton.

Bighorn Cellars Camelback Vineyard Chardonnay 2007

Varietal: 100% Chardonnay

Vitals: Los Carneros AVA (Napa); 14.4% abv; ~$25/bottle

Company Line: “Our 2007 Camelback Vineyard Chardonnay is an exquisite example of the varietal, showcasing an excellent range of fruit on the nose from pineapple and tropical fruits to ripe pear, orange-blossom and brioche. The palate is tantalizing, lush and full bodied with flavors of grilled pineapple and apricot…

Gold Medal Winner – 2009 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Tasting

My take: pale lemon yellow in the glass.  Nose exhibits ample overripe tropical fruits with an undercurrent of caramel apple and braised pear.  Full-bodied on the palate, bringing fruity notes of overripe pineapple, dried apricot and bright citrus over an undercurrent of smooth, understated buttercream.  Finishes clean with a mild lemon twist.  A highly drinkable chardonnay exhibiting the balance of fruit and oak that Sonoma and Napa examples are known for.  Reminds me of the fantastic La Crema Chardonnay from Sonoma that I poured during a recent early spring tasting.  I don’t think anyone does balanced, well-composed chardonnay like Bay Area winemakers.

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CLIFhanger: The Climber White 2007

14 Apr

Like energy bars and wine?  Who doesn’t?!  The folks at Clif Bar read our minds and now finally produces both.  Yeah – I had to double-take when I saw that the Clif Bar people were making wine, too.  As white wine season slowly inches its way in, my palate craves crisp, fruity wines with bright acidity to refresh and pair with the grilled fare that dominates my summer diet.  The Climber would seem to fit that bill nicely.

Clif ‘The Climber’ White 2007

Style: White table wine

Vitals: 13.5% abv; Blend: 81% Sauvignon Blanc, 12% Pinot Blanc, 4% Chenin Blanc, 3% Muscat (Pinot Blanc and some Sauv. Blanc Organically-sourced); Bottled January 2008; retails for ~$14/bottle

Company Line:

Our 2007 blend is a unique blend of our favorite white varietals. Sauvignon Blanc makes up the backbone and structure of the wine with purity of fruit. Pinot Blanc adds a fleshy and tropical note. Chenin Blanc increases the purity and acidity of the blend. The Muscat adds a sweetness of tropical fruit, increased terpene aromas and richness in the mouth. 100% stainless steel fermentation and lack of malolactic fermentation enhances the purity of the fruit, classic varietal notes and crisp refreshing mouthfeel.

My take: light lemon yellow in the glass.  White peach and lemon/lime zest dominate the aroma and foretell the light stone and passion fruit nectar and pinpoint acidity of the palate.  Crisp on the tongue and clean in its lightly acidic finish, The Climber makes for a great warm weather drinker and would pair beautifully with grilled white meat and seafood dishes.  Who knew creating a better energy bar to get you through a tough run would translate into a penchant for crafting fine wines for cooling off afterward?

Wine O’clock: Catalpa Pinot Noir 2007

17 Feb

Another day, another Barriques e-mail special washing away the haze of a shift spent catering to the eclectic masses of Middleton, WI.  The smooth subtlety of pinot noir is just what I need to scrub away the coffee grounds, scone crumbs and spent tea leaves acquired over eight-plus hours behind the bar.  Serenity now.

Wine: Catalpa Pinot Noir 2007

Vitals: 14.0% abv; Region – Alto Tupungato, Mendoza, Argentina ; Aged 12 months on new French oak; Ageing potential – 8 years

Company Line: “Bright red ruby color. Aromas of blueberry and gooseberry jam, with hints of caramel and chocolate.  In the mouth, it is elegant and well-balanced, with smooth tannins and intense red fruit notes.  Great with soft cheeses, poultry and lamb.”

My take: deep garnet red in the glass with some floaty bits that stick to the side of the glass.  Blueberry and eucalyptus dominate the nose with a ribbon of milk chocolate upon deeper inspection.  Cherry and plum skins come to the front of the palate, which is pleasantly powdery as a result.  The overall impression is of a dark cherry truffle coated in dark cocoa powder.  Paired naturally with a salad of Granny Smith apples, walnuts, bleu cheese and blueberry vinaigrette.  A wine that added refinement to a day that desperately needed it.  And a steal at $11.99 (some $6 off retail).

Wine is fine: Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Green Label Syrah-Shiraz 2007

16 Jan

Syrah? Shiraz? Syraz?! Shyrah? Schlemiel! Schlimazel!

Another wine courtesy of my patron of fine food and drink, Ms. D – this Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Green Label Syrah-Shiraz 2007 (the clubhouse leader in longest beverage name on 43N/89W) comes well-recommended.

Wine: Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Green Label Syrah-Shiraz 2007

Vitals: 13.5% abv, 88% Syrah/12% Petite Sirah blend, 14 months in French oak

Company line: “Intense plum and clove aromas are the friendly greeting from our Green Label Syrah-Shiraz. Made from grapes grown in Paso Robles and Monterey, this concentrated and complex wine has soft tannins, and blackberry and boysenberry flavors layered with notes of smoky bacon, sweet vanilla, and bittersweet chocolate. -franciscopollawinery.com”

My take: dark ruby in the glass.  Aroma bursts with ripe blackberry and plum with a spicy finish.  Juicy dark fruits are bolstered by smoke and leather and enriched with lush chocolate, contributing to a dry but smooth tannic finish. A bold and full syrah that would stand up well to rich, meaty dishes and pair well with fruit and chocolate-based desserts alike.  A solid value sub-$15.  Thanks again, D.  You know how to keep a guy’s wine game tony on a budget – exactly what we here at 43N/89W strive for every day.  Well, at least a couple times a week, anyway.

Wine is Fine: Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Ranches Chardonnay 2007

4 Dec

Tonight’s beverage selection includes a popular chardonnay from the Barriques Middleton tasting menu.  The Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Estates Chardonnay 2007. Not much background on this one.  I’m drinking it with some chicken scallopini (recipe forthcoming) I made for dinner tonight.  Let’s get to it.

Wine: Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Estates Chardonnay 2007

Style: Sonoma Coast (California) Chardonnay

Vitals: 14.2% abv

Company line: “I know of no other wine that better captures the spirit, passion, and dedication of those who grow and make it.  -Terry Adams, Winemaker”   Umm, ok, guy.

My take: straw yellow and crystal clear in the glass, notes of honeyed pear, pineapple and buttery oak.  High minerality leads to a clean, mostly dry, lightly acidic mouthfeel.  Great balance all around yields high drinkability.  To use a beer analogy, this is the casked English bitter of wines – clean and refined, more than the sum of its parts.  Class in a glass.  I could go on.  I won’t.  $18-$20/bottle range.  Or come to Barriques and I’ll pour you a glass.  Lord knows I could use the company.


Wine is fine: Alois Lageder Dolomiti Pinot Bianco 2007

16 Nov

Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco

Three new wines to try from work today.  First up is another Italian white, Alois Lageder Dolomiti Pinot Bianco 2007.

Style: Pinot Bianco/Blanc

Vitals: 12.5% abv, Aged on lees and fermented in stainless steel tanks. Serving Temperature: 12-13 degrees (C)

Description: “Brilliant straw yellow colour with a green tint. Very fine, fruity (apples, peaches), forward varietal aroma. Pronounced, clean, elegant, grapey flavour, light to medium-bodied with a fresh mouth-watering finish. –aloislageder.eu

My take: Fruit-forward with tart green apple and fragrant peach.  Semi-dry mouthfeel makes for a brisk yet clean finish.  Certainly a much drier Italian white than the Orvieto Classico I sampled a few nights ago and more akin to the white wines I am accustomed to.  Paired well with the free cauliflower cheddar soup I also brought home from work.I’m pretty sure that’s the pairing the vintners had in mind when conceiving this wine.

Bottom line: a pleasantly fruity yet clean semi-dry white in the $15/bottle range.

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