Tag Archives: 2008

Wine O’Clock: Cannery Row Cellars Chardonnay 2008

28 Jul

Another pick from my Wine Insiders haul, this Cannery Row Cellars Chardonnay hails from my old stomping grounds just outside of the Monterey Bay area of California’s Central Coast.   Central Californian Chardonnay has quickly become one of my favorite wines of Summer with plenty of bright tropical fruit and crisp acidity to cut through the humidity and pair with a wide variety of summer foods.

I may not have stepped foot on Cannery Row since I was wearing Ninja Turtle underwear, but at least now I can drink wine vinted in the foothills of one of this country’s truly spectacularly scenic places.

Cannery Row Cellars Chardonnay 2008

Varietal: 100% Chardonnay

Vitals: 12.6% abv

Company Line: “Fresh fruit aromas herald delicious flavors of apple, nectarine and ripe melon.  Oak aging adds depth and complexity with hints of toasty oak and vanilla.  Balanced acidity makes this wine particularly refreshing.”

My take: pale straw yellow in the glass.  Nose opens with sharp apple and tropical fruit flourishes ensconced in a veil of soft vanilla.  Apple and citrus blanket the palate with a satisfying acidity.  Body is emboldened with rich oakiness which also serves to taper the acid in the finish.

This sits right in the middle of the California Chardonnay spectrum between intense tropical fruits and buttery oakiness.  While I certainly wouldn’t call this example buttery, it’s oaky and vanilla softness acts as a nice counterbalance to the fresh fruit that dominates the front of this wine.  A nice summer drinker with the versatility to pair with poultry, fish, cheese or fruit and pastry-based desserts.


Wine O’Clock: Glazebrook Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2008

28 Apr

Any self-professed geography nerd with a blog named after the geographic coordinates of his hometown has got to love a wine that proudly displays the lat and long of its home soil.  41 degrees 28 seconds South, 174 degrees 54 seconds East places this Glazebrook Sauvignon Blanc in the Northeast corner of New Zealand’s South Island.  Marlborough is a region renowned for the Sauvignon Blancs that sparked the nation’s wine industry and comprise some 70% of domestic production.  I first had this wine as part of a Wildman & Sons portfolio tasting at Barriques Middleton a few weeks ago and both I and my coworker were stricken by its intense herbal/grassy bouquet.  As the lawnmowers creep out of sheds across southern Wisconsin, the greenness of wines like this draw the mind to the summer days that lie just around the corner.

Glazebrook Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2008

Style: Dry White

Vitals: 100% Sauvignon Blanc; 13% abv;  current Barriques Middleton tasting selection

Company Line:


In each vineyard the grapes were machine harvested in two lots to give flavor complexity. They were de-stemmed, cooled and the juice left in contact with the skins for four hours before gentle pressing. Two different yeast strains were used to maximize varietal flavor. Fermentation at 12-14ºC took place in tank and the wine was bottled young without malolactic fermentation.

2008 Harvest Notes:

The growing season started cool then developed into a warm, mild summer and harvest period. The grapes for this wine were produced from three vineyard sites, one in Brancott to the south, one on Raupara Road to the north of the Wairau Valley, and one in the upper Wairau. Each site contributes to the spectrum of flavors in the final blend. The four year-old vines were cane pruned and VSP trellised.

Tasting Notes: The wine shows intense passion fruit and mango aromas, backed by classic herbal notes of boxwood, nettle and ripe capsicum. It has a lively palate of tropical fruit with crisp lime acidity and lingering passion fruit.

Food Match: sushi, shellfish, salmon, oysters, grilled vegetables, fish, crab, chicken, Asian cuisine.

My take: Pale straw yellow wine  displays ample nose of melon, white peach and grassy herb.  Intensely herbal on the palate with a bracing acidity cut by lighter fruit notes of tropical citrus and passion fruit.  Another overwhelmingly grassy New Zealand Sauvingnon Blanc that opens up in fruit and acidity as it warms slightly.  The greenness really grew on me the more I drank and I can imagine this going as well with grilled seafood as it did with the fresh, cilantro-heavy, smoky pico de gallo I made this morning and am snacking on as I type.  Summer feels closer with each sip.

Wine O’Clock: Astica Cuyo Torrontes 2008

23 Feb

My last dance with the wines of Astica came courtesy of their bargain-priced Cabernet Sauvignon.  At $4.99 a bottle, I was hoping to find a cheap go-to to have around for cooking and peripheral friends and acquaintances who I’m obligated to serve alcohol  guests.  Well, it wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t a whole lot better than Three Buck Chuck, either.  At $6.99 (at Barriques), the Astica Cuyo Torrontes 2008‘s price is right, but what do I get for my two dollar upgrade from its rough-edged cab cousin?  Also, I’ve never had a Torrontes, and the tasting notes piqued my interest in the style.

Wine: Astica Cuyo Torrontes 2008

Vitals: 13% abv; Grapes – 100% Torrontes; Region – Cuyo Valley, Mendoza, Argentina

Company Line: “Astica is a dependable source of high-quality Argentine wines at a low price. The Astica range includes internationally popular varietals such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as Torrontes and Malbec, Argentina’s signature white and red grapes. Vibrant, eye-catching packaging fits with the meaning of Astica, which is an indigenous word for ‘flower’ in Argentina. The wines are produced from hand-picked fruit in the Cuyo Valley and vinified in a fresh, fruit-forward style.

Argentina’s signature white grape, Torrontes produces an aromatic wine with notes of citrus and flowers. On the palate, the wine is smooth and ripe. –frederickwildman.com

My take: sits lemon yellow in the glass.  Nose exudes floral and fragrant peach blossoms and citrus.  Palate reminiscent of orange muscat, with notes of stone fruit and tropical citrus.  Finishes with bright, lightly tongue-curling acidity and an ephemeral apricot aftertaste.  A very unique wine that manages to combine the perfume and fruitiness of muscat dessert wines with the tropical acidity and drier finish of South American Sauvignon Blanc.  This Torrontes…I’m gonna have to revisit you when the weather cooperates a little better.  Great value here.

Vino es fino: El Hada Verdejo-Viura 2008

10 Feb

From the current tasting menu at Barriques Wine and Spirits in Middleton, tonight’s libation is El Hada Verdejo-Viura 2008. This is one of the first Spanish wines I’ve sampled so expectations are…limited.  Here we go…

Wine: Rincón de Pedraza El Hada Verdejo-Viura 2008

Vitals: Region – Rueda, Spain; Grapes: 50% Verdejo, 50% Viura; unaged

Company line: “These wines have great length and a delicate mouth-filling softness, as well as very distinctive bouquet and lots of finesse. The wines have3 a pale gold color. Cirtus notes on the nose (apples and limes) with light herbal qualities. The El Hada wines are bright and tangy with citrus flavors and a lingering finish. – smswines.com”

My take: pale straw in the glass.  Nose bursts with apple, pear and peach with a flash of lime.  Palate exhibits high minerality and light body as notes of peach and lime zip across the tongue and fade to a lightly acidic finish.  A highly drinkable and refreshing white that teases this Wisconsin-bound drinker with images of summer.  I can think of worse delusions.

Wine is fine: Le Grand Noir Chardonnay 2008

26 Jan

Bliss: feet off of ground, in slippers, sipping chardonnay

14 hours on your feet.  Don’t even think about sitting down.  There are shots to be pulled. Milk to be steamed.  Sandwiches and salads to assemble.  The masses need their fix.  The payoff?  A long weekend in LA.   Escape.  Sunshine.  Good company.  The tony life.  You’re battered though.  You need a little medicine to numb those barking dogs.  Forget Advil.  You sell wine.  Your fix? Le Grand Noir Chardonnay 2008 ($9.99 @Barriques). Life is good again.  And about to get better.

Wine: Le Grand Noir Chardonnay 2008

Vitals: 13%abv; 85% chardonnay, 15% viognier

Region: Languedoc-Roussillon (Limoux, Minervois, Carcassone), France

Company line: “Winemaking: The grapes are harvested at optimum ripeness, cold macerated, pressed, cold settled and then fermented. 60% of the Chardonnay is barrel fermented, remaining on the lees in barrel for 6 months. The Viognier is stainless steel fermented, seeing no oak. The wines are then blended and bottled. The Viognier from Minervois is considered the finest from the region of Languedoc-Roussillon.

Characteristics: Vibrant yellow color, intense aromas of lime and mango with hints of toasted vanilla. Rich palate with lemon-lime flavors and subtle oak influences. Excellent length and finish. The addition of Viognier to the blend makes this offering very “consumer friendly”. A perfect match with hors d’oeuvres, seafood, poultry, and pork dishes. This wine also balances nicely with exotic Asian dishes. -prestigewinegroup.com”

My take: pale straw yellow in the glass.  Tropical fruit dominates the nose with sticky, ripe pineapple and mango cut by acidic lime, with oaky vanilla lingering in the background.  Tropical citrus characterizes the palate, with the rich vanillin and oak featured in the aroma  much less forward in the mouth.  Pleasant acidity and mellow alcoholic presence makes for a smooth and crisp finish and lends high drinkability.  Le Grand Noir exhibits great balance throughout and pairs well with my exhaustion and general lack of energy and mental acuity at the moment.  Another great value from the Barriques Wall of 100.  I’m OUT.

Wine is fine: d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Shiraz 2008

25 Jan

Another great new wine from the Barriques Wall of 100 tonight which means two things – tasty and $10 or less.  This one comes highly regarded as one of my boss’ favorite new wines (oh, and its spot (#82) on the Wine Spectator Top 100 Wines of 2009 doesn’t hurt).  After hearing nothing but gushing praise since its arrival at the stores, I took the plunge and grabbed a bottle on my way home the other night.  I’m 26 now.  Sometimes you just have to treat yourself.  Cuz I’m worth it.

Wine: d’Arenberg The Stump Jump Shiraz 2008

Vitals: 14.5%; 100% Shiraz; McLaren Vale, South Australia

Company line: “The name ‘Stump Jump’ relates to the significant South Australian invention – the Stump Jump plough. This plough became a popular piece of machinery for ploughing fields because of its ability to ride over stumps and gnarled “mallee” Eucalypt roots and snags, saving valuable time and resources by not stopping the draught horse.

Inviting fresh plum aromas leap out of the glass with raspberry and pretty pot-pourri notes providing more complexity. The palate is juicy and spicy with an abundance of red fruits that are fresh and vibrant. Licorice and rose petals come through on the mid palate and an under-lying earthy complexity is evident all the way through. The tannins are powdery and subtle on this juicy ready to drink red.”

My take: opaque burgundy with ruby highlights in the glass.  Bursting with juicy, overripe blackberry and raspberries in the nose.  Dark fruits dominate the palate, which starts with a sweet berry flourish, transitioning into a lightly tannic dry and spicy finish that singes the sides of the tongue with its alcoholic brunt.  Juicy and ripe, this shiraz went down great with the punchy Italian beef my mother made for my birthday.  A whole lot of deliciousness for under $10.

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