“Voo vray” is a wine region in France’s Loire Valley mainly growing Pineau de la Loire- or the varietal known as Chenin Blanc. Chenin Blanc from Loire can be made in several ways from dry to sweet, both still and sparkling. Vouvray is located in the village of Touraine, in about the middle of the Loire Valley. The AOC or Appellation d’Origine Controlle’ of Vouvray is almost exclusively dedicated to Chenin Blanc grapes. Located along the Right bank of the river Loire east of the city of Tours, the region is surrounded by streams and tributaries. The climate can change from year to year, making the wines change from vintage to vintage. A cooler year would yield drier styles and more Sparkling wine, while a warmer year can produce more moisture and the fungus known as Botrytis Cinerea or “Noble Rot” produces sweeter dessert style wines. The area of Vouvray produces over a million cases of wine a year, most using little to no oak and neutral fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Naturally high in acidity, these wines show a breathy floral characteristic with stone fruit flavors and can often be aged for several years.
Clos Palet Vouvray 100% Chenin Blanc grapes that underwent a long pressing and strict juice selection, aged on the lees- a fresh almond flavor lingers on the finish. Notes of Acacia flower and melon. We give it two bones.
Mille Reeves Vouvray A single vineyard in the heart of the appellation, planted mid slope, facing west for afternoon sun produces great ripeness. Mille Reeves means a thousand dreams – representing the dreams of the generations of growers who have farmed the site. Fleshy peach, white flower and beeswax with subtle viscosity and slight phenolic touch. Grown without pesticides. We give it three bones.
South Africa “Steen”
Dutch explorers were the first to land in the Cape of South Africa in the 1600’s, bringing with them cuttings of Chenin Blanc; it grew and flourished. The climate and terroir, bush and dry farmed can produce a rich, lush, crisp wine with very high yields. Chenin Blanc is also referred to as “Steen” and is the most widely planted varietal in the country of South Africa. Production is centered around Cape Town, with Paarl and Stellenbosch the largest growing regions. Governed by the KWV (Kooperatieve Wijnbouwers Verenigin van Zuid-Afrika Bpkt) since 1918 the cooperative has set policies, restricted yields, and set minimum pricing for the entire country’s wine industry. During most of the 20th Century South Africa’s products were boycotted because of Apartheid. In 1990 when Apartheid ended the grape growing industry experienced a renaissance where quality of wine production became more important than quantity. The WO (Wine of Origin) program was developed in 1973 and South Africa continues to experience a hybridization of Old-World techniques and modern technology, from farming and conservation of lands, to quality yields and wines that achieve international acclaim.
Rustenburg Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc
The Rustenburg estate was founded in the Stellenbosch region in1682 and boasts over 2,000 acres. Rustenburg has been through a series of ownerships, most recently by one family for over 70 years. Chenin Blanc was planted in the 1980’s, though wine has been produced and sold off the property since the early 1700’s. The winery is modernized and features traditional Cape Dutch style historic buildings, farmland- cattle, beekeeping, and conservation. 100% Chenin Blanc stainless steel aged, offers aromas of pineapple and yellow pear, with a citrus acidity on the finish. We give it three bones.
Babylonstoren Chenin Blanc
One of the oldest Cape Dutch farms, offering gardens, farms and a luxury hotel, restaurants and winery. This Chenin Blanc from the Western Cape of South Africa is dry and crisp with an intriguing nose of white peaches and ripe pineapple with an undercurrent of lemon curd. We give it two bones.
Chenin Blanc, or Steen, whether from Loire, France, or South Africa, offers a wonderful experience for your palate. Stop in and explore our selection from different vintages to places of origin. A wonderful aperitif, summer sipper, or pair with citrus laced seafood or light fare. Cheers!
Regenerative, Organic, Biodynamic and other such “Natural” things in winemaking
Regenerative farming is a practice that is becoming more popular in vineyards and winery properties. Before you can be “regenerative” you must first be “Certified Organic”. Produce can be called organic if it is certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest, by a third party inspector. USDA certified foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances, physical, mechanical and biological based farming methods. Traditionally European winemakers have been following the guidelines of their ancestors for centuries; making wines with very little intervention, including that of fertilizers, pesticides and other additives. However, most of these wineries have not gone so far as to pay their government to come in and inspect them and make sure they are following the guidelines (though that movement is changing as public demand calls for such labeling). Therefore they are not considered certified, they are simply using organic practices.
Before wine can be sold (and labeled) as organic, both the growing of the grapes and their conversion to wine must be certified. All the grapes must be grown without synthetic fertilizers, fungicides and herbicides, and in a manner that protects the environment and soil.
The legal definition of “organic wine” does vary from country to country, with the main difference being the use of preservatives such as sulfur dioxide, or SO2, sulfites during the winemaking process, and certain yeast strains. In the US if a wine is labeled “made with certified organic grapes” it can still contain up to 100 ppm of sulfites or use nonnative yeast. Traditional wine can use anywhere from 250 to 400 parts per million of sulfites. The use of added sulfites is a hot debate within the organic winemaking community. Organic certification also does not guarantee the use of renewable energy, responsible water use, or environmentally sustainable packaging.
Regenerative agriculture is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to the farming system, focusing on regenerating the topsoil, increasing bio diversity, and improving the water cycle. Wineries use composting and cover crops in an attempt to armor the earth, increasing soil health.
Sustainable agriculture is a practice defined by the US Code as an integrated system of practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term, satisfy human food and fiber needs. Environmental conservation, reduced water consumption, and a self-supporting system of productivity and usefulness to maintain and improve soil fertility. You will often see SIP Certified (Sustainable In Practice) on a wine label.
While Natural wine and natural farm practices do not use any “approved” substances, neither chemical nor organic fertilizers are added to the soil, there is no official or regulated definition of “natural wine”. The natural movement in winemaking stems from a group of growers and farmers using simple, traditional methods (as our European forefathers mentioned earlier). Natural wines are often produced using no pesticides, herbicides, chemical additives and few to no, or only native sulfur and yeast.
Biodynamic farming principals as they pertain to winemaking, involve using a similar concept to above, however all components of the vineyard are considered one solid organism where the eco system of the farm functions as sustainable, using natural materials, soils and composts and no chemicals. Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner started the idea of biodynamics in the 1920’s- predating organics, based on the lunar calendar and astrological influences. There are root days, flower days, fruit days and leaf days, as well as the famous Cow Horn. It is believed that to bury a cow horn near the end of a vineyard site row will stimulate microbial soil, regulate PH, and dissolve minerals while stimulating seed germination.
All of these principles are unique yet still similar in their goal of maintaining and sustaining the vineyard land. Do any of them taste “different”. There is no straight answer. Natural wines will always taste slightly different than “regular wine” as most every day wine is made with genetically modified yeast strains whether it is used to correct the color, or balance a slightly off flavor. Sulfites are the number one preservative of wine, keeping fruit flavors fresh. Sulfites release sulfur dioxide gas, which is an active component in preservation of many foods, drinks and medications. Everything from baked goods to canned foods, dried fruits and soups and condiments carry trace amounts of sulfites. Winemakers are scientists and chemists before they are artists. The following wines are some of our favorites utilizing the above practices here at Ed’s.
Hedges CMS Sauvignon Blanc Columbia Valley, WA
Hedges Family is certified both Biodynamic and Organic with their famous Red Mountain AVA (American Viticultural Area) in Washington State. The CMS stands for Chardonnay, Marsanne and Sauvignon Blanc, and the blend, though mostly Sauvignon Blanc, offers aromas of grapefruit, lemon zest and baked apples, with bright citrus flavors and touch of herbaceousness. We give it two bones.
Lamura Grillo Sicilia DOCG
Completely organic with vineyards resting on the coast of Sicily in the Valley de Bellice, a hilly land where the air is filled with the scents of the Mediterranean Sea. These lovely white grapes are hand harvested and soft pressed before aging on the lees. Crisp refreshing citrus notes and hints of salinity, perfect with fresh seafood. We give it two bones.
Montinore Pinot Noir “Red Cap” Willamette Valley, OR
Montinore uses insect-promoting and nutrient infusing cover crops, and aligns with regenerative farming practices. Horn Manure 500 – where the cow horn is packed with cow manure and buried near the vineyards for 6 to 8 months, imparts a rich soil characteristic. This Pinot Noir expresses the beautiful terroir that is the Willamette Valley; red fruit, ripe currant, soft white pepper and a touch of leather. We give it three bones.
Benziger Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon
Mike and Mary Benziger have been farming on Sonoma Mountain for over 30 years. They introduced biodynamic and organic farming practices to their land in the mid 1990’s. All of Benziger’s production facilities are certified sustainable and organic with the CSWA – California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance. This Cab shows charred oak aromas and flavors with black fruit notes and spicy peppercorn. We give it three bones.
Castoro Reserve Petite Sirah Paso Robles, CA
This wine is from CCOF – Certified Organic Blind Faith Vineyard that is nestled on the east side of the Paso Robles AVA and the Estrella District Vineyards. Established in 1983 with the goal of producing world class wines, the winery production has grown from just a few barrels back then to over 40,000 cases today. 100% Petite Sirah, dry fermented to small American oak barrels, the wine shows big bold fruit, but balance with firm tannins and hints of blackberry, pepper and black tea. We give it two bones.
Breaking Bread Zinfandel by Kokomo CA
Old Heritage vines that have been in the ground for over a hundred years, are dry farmed to express the essence of American Zinfandel, using Carbonic Maceration, whole cluster fermentation and no chemical yeasts or additives. The winery is committed to the Natural Wine movement. This Dry Creek Valley Zin is lower in alcohol, well balanced and fruit forward. Fig and plum, blackberry and a touch of spice. Enjoy slightly chilled, we give it two bones.
Winemaking is at the total discretion of the winemaker and their team, it is subjective and there are thousands of choices for the connoisseur. Come see us or give us a call or order on line and we can help you select.
By Carolyn R Brow
There is so much history in American winemaking including the legendary region of Paso Robles, California, and it began with the icon Gary Eberle. Paso Robles in the 1970’s was an agricultural town, growing almonds and barley. Gary went on to purchase land in Paso Robles, and put the area on the American Viticultural Area map. It became the 6th AVA in the US.
Gary grew up in a small Pennsylvania town and through scholarships was a Penn State alum and a member of their football team. He credits coach Joe Paterno for his role in helping form him not just as a great football player, but also as a human being. Gary also credits Robert Mondavi, another mentor of his, for teaching him marketing. Gary often jokes as he was writing college papers on cellular genetics at LSU, he had this great appreciation for Bordeaux, and inevitably changed his career path. He decided he wanted to be a “Professional Alcoholic” and not a geneticist! Gary was the pioneer who planted Syrah in Paso Robles, which grew prolifically in the area. Paso has also become a well-known terroir for Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Eberle Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 1979 was Gary’s first award winning vintage. The iconic boar on the label depicts the German origin of the name “small boar”. The winery grows several varietals and all are winners in our book.
Eberle Viognier A Rhone varietal that grows well in Paso Robles, and is the most accoladed white wine they produce. Winemaker Chris Eberle (no relation) picks fruit at varying degrees of ripeness to help control alcohol levels and maintain a balance between fruit and acid. Half of this wine is aged in neutral oak barrels and the other half stainless steel, then it is blended and filtered before bottling. Flavors of honeydew, tangerine, kiwi and jasmine. We give it three bones.
Eberle Zinfandel Sourced from six different districts in the Paso Robles appellation, the grapes are hand picked and sorted before aging in American oak barrels. Well structured with up front tannins and juicy flavors of blackberry, strawberry and spiced plum. Traditional hearty American Zinfandel whose elegant style sets it apart from other zins. We give it two bones. Wine Spectator gave it 92 points.
Eberle Vineyard Selection Cabernet Sauvignon Aged in a mix of French and American oak this 100% Cabernet shows nuanced varietal character representing each of its Paso vineyards it is sourced from. Medium bodied with flavors of black currant, dark chocolate cherry, plum and vanilla, finishing with green peppercorn and cedar. We give it two bones.
Eberle Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Gary earned his Ph. D in Enology from UC Davis in 1971 after working on his Master’s to become a geneticist at Louisiana State University. His 1980 Cabernet was the first to bear the Paso Robles appellation he helped establish. Well balanced and elegant, aromas and palate coating flavors of black cherry, cassis, tobacco leaf and cocoa. We give this wine three bones. 2019 Vintage received 91 points from Wine Enthusiast.
Eberle Syrah Steinbeck Vineyard The first winery to produce a 100% Syrah varietal in the United States. Gary secured a planting from UC Davis, originally propagated from Chapoutier’s Rhone plantings. This single vineyard Syrahs is one of the oldest vineyards in the US, and is aged in American, Hungarian, and French oak. Blueberry, blackberry red raspberry and plum balanced with hints of white pepper and violets. We give this wine three bones, the Enthusiast gave it 93 points. Less than 1500 cases produced.
Eberle Muscat Canelli Originally grown for the winery – production has grown to just over 1500 cases and is a favorite at wine dinners to pair with cantaloupe with prosciutto or goat cheese. We get a small amount of the wine in Florida, and it’s a wonderful start to a light meal, or finish with a panna cotta or grilled peaches…aromas of jasmine blossom and mandarin zest intermingle with flavors of white peach, Myer Lemon, ginger and bursts of guava. We give it three bones.
All of these hand crafted, small p production wines from Eberle are available here at Ed’s, stop by or order on line. Cheers!
By CR Brown
Wine for Valentine’s
The history of Valentine’s Day is a bit muddled (and bloody) dating back to ancient Romans feasting (with much drunkenness) and well, getting couples together with rituals including sacrificing animals. Yikes! Two saints were also executed on February 14, both named Valentine, who were later honored by the Catholic church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. In the fifth century, Romans were still celebrating the date while the Normans were celebrating Galatins- which literally means “lover of women” both around February 14. Poets Shakespeare and Chaucer also wrote of the holiday, which featured handmade paper cards with hearts. It was finally in 1913 in America, Hallmark began mass producing and marketing what we now regard as Valentine’s. A day for love and indulgences. Valentine’s Day has become a social holiday celebrated around the world, from Argentina to Canada, Great Britain, Australia, France, Mexico and Korea. In the Philippines it is a day for mass weddings and anniversary celebrations, and the day has expanded to include all kinds of expressions of affection.
The kind of affection we love here at Ed’s is fermented grape juice! So if you’re planning to celebrate this Valentine’s Day, let’s break out the bubbles! And if sparkling wine isn’t breaking out the romance for you, we have some lovely still wines to try. Read on.
Champagne Lombardi is located in the Aube region of Champagne, France where Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes flourish between the hillside vineyards and forests that dot the area. Stephane’ Lombardi released his first cuvee in 2011, the birth year of his daughter. Champagne Lombardi Axiome is made from 100% first run juice, 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay aged for 24 months on the lees and then 12 more months after disgorgement. Notes of green and red apple, as well as pear and yeasty biscuit, the champagne is approachable, crisp and refreshing. Wine Spectator awarded 90 points, we give it three bones on the Brunello scale.
Champagne Palmer Brut Reserve was created by a group of seven grower families whose Premier Cru and Grand Cru vineyards of the Montagne express harmony and balance. Palmer and Co established in 1947 distinguishes itself through the grand terroir of Cote de Bar and the Marne Valley. These classified vineyards present a unique palate for the master Champagne blender Xavier Berdin and the work of his team of enologists. Palmer Brut Reserve is based on a selection of wines from the best vineyards in the Champagne region. The Premiers and Grand Crus of the Montagne de Reims area lend their distinctive personality to these wines. The nose is clean citrus, pear and apricot, with subtle notes of hazelnut and flavors of buttery brioche. A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier with a minimum of 4 years aging. Perfectly balanced and seductive – three bones on the Brunello scale.
If bubbles are not really your thing for Valentine’s, then how about a little fun?!
Send Nudes Rose’ could be the perfect message for your love! SLO Down wines owner Brandon Allen (who we will be cruising with this April) knows a thing or two about being fun! And he makes great wines. This 100% California Pinot Noir is like a beautiful glass of pale, pink sherbet. The nose is bursting with apricot and strawberry with just a touch of white pepper on the tongue on the finish. We give it two bones.
Born from a bootlegging operation in his garage, Brandon Allen’s wine Sexual Chocolate Red Blend is hedonism at its best. A blend of Syrah, Zinfandel and Malbec, no chocolate was used to make this wine- but there are hints of cocoa in the finish. Packed with ripe, dark fruit and exotic spices, and a lingering, silky finish. We give it three bones.
We hope you get to indulge whether with friends, a special someone, or maybe that four legged friend curled up on the couch with a movie and great bottle of wine this Valentine’s. Salute’
By Carolyn R Brown
NEW WINES FOR THE NEW YEAR
The Wines of Collefrisio
Ed, Perry and a wonderful group of customers recently toured Italy on a wine journey, and we were fortunate to tour Collefrisio in Abruzzo. We were also fortunate enough to bring back some of their hand-crafted wines just in time to celebrate the New Year.
Third generation winemakers Amedeo De Luca and Antonio Patricelli joined forces in 2004 to fulfill a passion for the land and the vines of their forefathers. They acquired an existing hilltop estate once owned by the Frisio family. They set out to create a winery that embraces modernity while honoring the long tradition of winemaking in the extraordinary terroir that is Abruzzo. The area is known for the Montepulciano variety, where three of their estates share an 86-acre vineyard site. The grapes are organically grown, not to make organic wine, but to provide gentle and noninvasive care to the integrity of the grapes.
Abruzzo is the “middle of the boot” on the east side of the Italian peninsula. A rugged, mountainous region with a lengthy coastline, abundant sunshine, generous rainfall, and cool, mountain air currents. Situated between the Adriatic Sea to the east and the Apennines and Majella Mountain ranges to the west. Chieti is a hilly province in Southern Abruzzi where 75% of the regions wine is produced. The Collefrisio vineyards thrive between the sea breezes and the mountain peaks, a territory that preserves evidence of pre-Roman civilization, dedicated to the cultivation of vine and wine. These wines are a modern interpretation of complex terrain, soils rich in clay and limestone, hot summers and cold winters. The wines are deep in flavor and unlike the earthy, traditional old Italian style.
Collefrisio Terre Di Chieti Bianco IGT The Terre Di Chieti region uses grapes like Pecorino, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Moscato. This white blend shows aromas of white flowers, white peppercorn, peach and lemon.
Cerasuolo D’ Abruzzo Rose’ DOCG Made from 100% Montepulciano this wine shows ripe cherry fruit with hints of plum. The Cerasuolo is a recent DOC approved in the Abruzzo region. The grapes spend a short time fermenting on the skins, so tannins are light but the bright fruit shines through.
Salento Primativo IGT Primativo, the wine varietal, known as Italian “Zinfandel” is rich with flavors of dark, ripe, red cherry. The famous area of Salento is where these grapes are sourced, dominated by limestone clay, gravel and sand.
Limited Edition “Ten Vintages” Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo DOCG
Production was limited to 6,000 bottles. Seductive and silky with flavors of black plum, smoke and leather. Rich tannins and subtle acidity with a creamy finish of dark fruit.
These wines are limited and only available through our store, because we visited the winery and were able to secure a great buy! Stop in and get yours, or order on line before they are gone!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
We love the holidays here at Ed’s Fine Wines, any reason to celebrate with a bottle of bubbly or a special wine to share or even consume “just because”, it’s the holiday season! Let’s take a look at some of the great holiday selections we have that pair with your holiday table.
Any celebration is made more fun with the pop of a cork and the flow of some effervescence! Whether it’s Prosecco from Italy or real Champagne from France, or some extraordinary, carbonated wine from right here in the good old US, bubbles make it a party!
We love Mionetto Prosecco to start off any gathering. Since 1887 the Mionetto family has been making wine in the heart of the Valdobbiadene, a famous region for the Glera grape used to make Prosecco, in Italy. They use the Charmat method; the second fermentation takes place in large autoclaves to help maintain freshness and aroma. Apple, mineral, and vanilla nuances, brut style finishes dry and clean. We give it two bones.
Champagne Lombardi is a boutique house from Lyon that began in 2011- Stephane Lombardi, a relative outsider as a grower, but a veteran to the beverage industry, surrounded himself with the best winemakers and enologists and his cuvee’ consistently garners over 90 point ratings. A nose of peaches and pears with a touch of lemony fruit. Toasty notes and refined spices. We give it two bones.
Chateau Palmer Brut Reserve was founded in 1947. Premier and Grand Cru from the Montagne de Reims which gives the Champagne its elegance and refinement. The clean nose of apricot, citrus and pear with subtle hints of hazelnut gives way to a succulent palate that finishes with flavors of buttery brioche’. We give it three bones.
These selections would make fine hostess gifts as well should you be heading to a party or celebration. Rose’ is a wonderful aperitif or accompaniment to many dishes, whether you are serving a shrimp cocktail appetizer or crab cakes, or simple fish spread.
Send Nudes Rose’ is a well-crafted 100% North Coast Pinot Noir with just a few hours of skin contact to give it the lovely pink sherbet hue. Winery founder and marketing guru Brandon Allen founded this label for SLO DOWN wines as a fun way to enjoy wine without pretention. Bursting with strawberries and ripe peach flavors, candied watermelon and white grapefruit, we give it three bones.
There is almost always a Chardonnay lover at every house party, so why not make your selection an icon of Napa with one of the best expressions of the grape, Newton Unfiltered Napa Valley Chardonnay doesn’t disappoint. Peter Newton first produced wines from Spring Mountain in 1977. Naturally fermented using native yeasts to preserve the natural fruit essence, aged in French oak barrels and crafted with intense procedures to ensure the unique quality of the terroir shines, the wines are famously “unfiltered” and can be enjoyed upon release or for many years of cellaring. 100% Chardonnay sourced from Rutherford and Carneros, aromas of tangerine and wet stone, with a full body and pleasant crisp finish. We give it two bones.
If you have a true Francophile coming to your table, then a white Burgundy is a fun offering. Caroline Parent Saint Romain is 100% Chardonnay from Cote de Beaune and Cote de Nuits. Caroline’s style favors elegance and finesse anchored in the timeless tradition of Burgundy. The wine exudes brilliant honey and almond and hazelnuts on the nose with a touch of floral, stone fruit and crisp apple flavors, the finish is long and elegant. We give it two bones.
Traditional American Pinot Noir foots the bill if you are serving a dinner with pork or turkey, the wine is subtle enough to pair well with both lighter and heavier meats and fish, and all the accoutrements. Ken Wright Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from Oregon is an old favorite of ours here at Ed’s. Ken makes multiple bottlings from single vineyard sites on his property, but we also carry the entry level that is a culmination of several vineyards in one bottle at an affordable price point. Ripe, Rainier Cherry, red plum, and blackberry are nestled between notes of cedar, rose petal and turned earth. This wine comes alive with cranberry sauce and sweet potato sides. We give it two bones.
The big reds and meat lovers, we haven’t forgotten you! Open up a delicious red blend to pair with your Standing Rib Roast or Leg of Lamb. Red Zinfandel grapes are considered to be the most indigenous, as the grape originated from Primitivo cuttings brought to California from Italy in the early 1800’s. Today, American Red Zinfandel is recognized as one of the biggest, boldest, most flavorful of grapes to put on your table. Klinker Brick Old Vines Zinfandel is a favorite as we have visited the winery with our friends several times over the years. The Felton family was one of the first to start growing grapes in Lodi, which was once home to mostly potato farmers. Over 16 different vineyards come together for the Old Vines Zin. Dark cherry and spice give great acidity and barrel aging adds robust oak flavor to the rhubarb and cranberry fruit notes, with just a hint of black pepper on the finish. We give it three bones.
Another option for the red meat lovers is Muga Reserva a blend of Tempranillo, Garnacha, Mazuelo and Graciano grapes from the Rioja region of Spain. Raspberry and blackberry fruit on the nose, with secondary aromas of vanilla and licorice. The finish is long and fruity. This wine will hold for many years, so a great gift for a collector, or enjoy it now with your traditional roast beef. The wine is made so meticulously, it is even hand filtered using a candle. We give it three bones.
There are ports and sherries and plenty of late harvest wines to share on your dessert table as well. Whatever you do this holiday season, whether you’re cooking for a crowd, partying around the town, or just laying low and taking a break from it all, we hope you have a peaceful, joyous wine filled season, and it starts right here in our store.
Wines for the Thanksgiving Table
It’s the most wonderful time of the year- once again! The stores begin bustling and people start hustling to get everything done in anticipation of Santa Claus or Santa Paws; holiday parties, family get togethers, and the food, oh the food! But first we need to gather round with those we love and celebrate all that we have to be grateful for. The house smells of roasting meat and everyone is happy to greet, eat, drink and be merry! Here is a brief breakdown of what you could use for your holiday entertaining wines.
Juve & Camps Cava Brut Rose’
This delightful sparkling wine from Spain, often referred to as “the Champagne of Spain” is made in a similar method; this one exclusively of Pinot Noir grapes from a single vineyard with chalky soils. It expresses hints of red berries in both the nose and mouth, with a luscious flavor and long finish. Pour this as an aperitif, with hors d oeuvres, or even with your main turkey dinner. I give it two bones.
Astrolabe Pinot Gris this winery from New Zealand makes some of the best Sauvignon Blanc on the market, but we picked their incredible Pinot Gris to pair with a Thanksgiving meal and all the trimmings. Simon Waghorn runs a small family operation in a diverse sub region of Marlborough. The wine has fairly low acid, but the flavor comes through with notes of pear and apple (think apple gravy with your roasted bird) the nose is floral and the finish refreshing. I give it two bones.
Sun Goddess Pinot Grigio by Mary J Blige from Friuli with hints of peach and melon. The Ramato 2021 is slightly pink in the glass, with hints of lemon rind and white pepper. This wine would be a great starter to a larger meal with hearty dishes but will stand up to an herb roasted turkey. I give it two bones.
Walt Pinot Noir Blue Jay made by Katheryn Walt Hall, is a true tribute to her parents, who began growing grapes and selling them to the finest California wineries over 50 years ago from their own backyard. Kathryn has been a vintner of premier wines since the 1970’s but that didn’t keep her from becoming an attorney, serving as US Ambassador to Austria (1997-2001) and making her famous Hall Wines as well. Walt is 100% Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley, with aromas of beautiful dark berries, ripe fig, with clove and black pepper on the finish. A perfect pairing for all the flavors on the Thanksgiving table, from roasted vegetables to herbs, buttery sweet potatoes and tangy dressing. I give it three bones.
Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Villages is another perfect pairing for your holiday meal. The wines made from any of the 39 villages in southern Burgundy known as Beaujolais grow the finest Gamay grape varietal. The nose has deep red fruit, cherries and strawberry, with flavors of darker fruit, cranberry, and crème de cassis, delicate tannins and a lingering finish. I give it three bones.
12 e mezzo Primativo del Salento the Italian version of a big, tasty red Zinfandel. Linked genetically to the Zinfandel grape, Primativo is the Italian version (grown mostly in Puglia- the “heel of the boot”) though both are linked through DNA analyses to the Croatian grape called Crljenak. Varvaglione Vigni and Vini produce this winner with sweet, ripe dark fruit- blackberry and plum. The nose is black cherry, cola, cocoa and vanilla, with a smoky, peppery spice on the finish. Think spicy sausage stuffing, candied yams and Grandma’s chocolate pie! I give it three bones.
This is just a sampling of wines to choose from all over the world to enjoy with your family and friends for the holidays. Stop on by and we will help you fill you’re your cup! Happy Thanksgiving! Salute’!
The Wines of historic Venge Vineyard
The Venge (pronounced ven-ghee) family has been farming grapes in Napa Valley for almost fifty years. Knud Venge emigrated from Denmark to the US in the early 1900’s. Knud’s son, Per, found his passion for wine when he started an import business, Vencom. However, it was Per’s son, Nils Venge, who would lead the family business in the 1960’s to become an iconic name in the winegrowing community of Napa.
By 1976 the family purchased their own 17 acres in the Oakville District, growing mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varietals. Today, Nil’s son Kirk is at the helm, focusing on select vineyard sites that produce fruit he feels is worthy of the family name.
Kirk grew up farming and winemaking in Rutherford, and graduated UC Davis with a degree in Viticulture and Enology in 1998. He then spent some time at Mumm Napa, and a few vintages working harvests in New Zealand. Nils has since added another 12.5 acres to the family land holdings, in the foothills of the Pallisade Mountains in Calistoga. Hand sorting is a family tradition at Venge, where the craft wine making process is at the core of their products. A secondary sorting system ensures only ripe, healthy fruit goes into tanks. Venge uses a combination of cultured and wild yeasts for secondary fermentation, and the wines are aged in oak between 16 to 27 months. The reds are left to bottle age further, unfiltered.
We carry just a couple of the high quality offerings from this special place curated by the Venge family from Napa.
Venge Family Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
This wine is a powerhouse with a beautiful dark red and purple hue that lingers over the glass. Aromatics are plush and highly perfumed with ripe black cherries, clove, cinnamon, blackberries and currants. The fruit was destemmed in to a combination of cement vats, tanks and open top barriques. Time on skins was about two weeks, then the fruit was separated from “free run” and “light press”. The Cabernet was aged for 27 months in new French oak barrels, and 100% native and spontaneous yeast was used for malolactic fermentation. The wine is unfiltered and spectacular. I give it three bones!
Venge 2018 Scout’s Honor Proprietary Red
This wonderful wine honors the family’s beloved Labrador Retriever named Scout, who wandered the vineyards where much of the fruit is sourced. A base of old vine Zinfandel- 60%, Petite Sirah-12%, Old Vine Charbono-16% and Syrah-9% from the mountains. The 2018 vintage shows beautiful violets, anise, honeysuckle and blue herbs with a touch of vanilla. Loads of black currants and pepper, and a touch of masculinity from the tannins on the smooth lingering finish. I give it three bones!
SLO DOWN WINES
It’s time to slow down with Slo Down wines and their producer, Brandon Allen. Brandon loved wine and began experimenting with winemaker friends while in college in CA in 2005.Thinking it would be more economical to make booze than to produce fake ID’s, they set about their experiment. He made his first barrel, and as he says, “It was a bit blurry after that, but the wines got better from there”.
Allen fell in love with wine, but he always felt the wine business was “a bit snobby”. He believes that only 1% of the wine drinking population actually wants to analyze and discuss the wine they are consuming. His lighthearted, unserious approach to his labels and titles speak to that sentiment. His commitment to taking wine (slowing it down) and making it unpretentious, has led to a seriously successful line up of creative wines. He even imprints the words “no drama” on his corks. Slo Down wines is at the forefront of a “craft wine movement” – a rejection of the pretension surrounding wine and an embrace of making wine approachable. Drink wine among friends, enjoy and Slo Down.
Slo Jams Sauvignon Blanc- delicious wine sourced from some of the best vineyards in Washington State’s Horse Heaven Hills appellation. The label depicts cassette tapes, for those old enough to remember that was how we “jammed” either on our cassette recorder/player or in the car. Slo Jams Sauvignon Blanc opens with aromas of key lime and lemongrass, followed by ripe grapefruit and stone fruit. We give it three bones.
Broken Dreams Chardonnay is 100% Chardonnay sourced from vineyards in Napa, Sonoma and Lodi. Subtle aromas of apple, pear and lemon curd, with flavors of pineapple and stone fruit, well balanced acidity. We give it two bones
Send Nudes Rose’ is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes from California’s North Coast appellation. Bursting with aromas of fresh strawberries, ripe peach and candied watermelon, and flavors of white pepper and pink grapefruit linger. We give it two bones.
Send Nudes Pinot Noir is a California Appellation wine made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. Plum and lavender and Bing cherry on the nose, with flavors of dragon fruit, pomegranate, with delicate spice on the finish. We give it three bones.
Sexual Chocolate Red Blend really has nothing to do with chocolate. Born from a bootlegging operation in a California winemaker’s garage, this wine shows ripe dark fruit and exotic spices. There is a lingering, soft silky texture from the wonderful blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and Malbec. We give it three bones.
Love Hammer Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 100% Cab sourced from Cloverdale Peak, Pine Mountain, Sky Pine Vineyard, high elevations along the Russian River in Alexander Valley. Flaunting aromas of vanilla, black pepper, green olive and cherry pipe tobacco. The palate is dripping with flavors of rich dark cherry, ripe blackberry, and finishes with notes of cigar spice and baking chocolate. Rugged yet voluptuous! We give it three bones.
We are currently featuring Brandon Allen’s wines from Slo Down, so come on in and slow it down.
Nontraditional white wines to beat the Summer Heat
Have you ever opened a wine list at a restaurant to find a section called “Alternative Whites” or “Interesting Whites”? Many will list two or three, without straying too far from traditional- an occasional Viognier or Albarino. The category leaves much to ponder, with hundreds of wines to choose from, made in so many different styles from all over the world. Let’s explore some light, bright, clean and crisp “alternative” white wines to have by the pool, with a meal, or simply on the couch with the AC cranking.
Here is a list of wine varietals by country- with a brief description of what region they are from and taste profile.
France set the standard of nearly all winemaking rules since the 1800’s. Burgundy and Bordeaux may be the King and Queen, but Rhone, Languedoc and Provence grow a wide variety of native grapes that are exciting and “interesting”.
Rousanne (Rhone) Bright floral aromas, stone fruit flavors.
Marsanne (Northern Rhone) Notes of stone fruit and bees wax, highly regarded as a blending grape for Hermitage; also grown in CA and Australia.
Viognier (Northern Rhone) Flavors of honeysuckle, mango and peach, full bodied. Also grown and popular in CA and Australia.
Melon de Bourgogne (Muscadet, Loire) Very dry with flavors of mineral, lemon, green apple and pear, with a hint of saline. Try the Chateau de la Chesnaie Muscadet.
Ugni Blanc (known as Trebbiano in Italy, grown in France, Australia and Bulgaria) Mostly used in brandy and vinegar production, you can find it bottled as a still wine from Italy; expresses white peach, green apple and herbs.
Grenache Blanc (Rhone, FR, Rioja, Spain) In Spain it is referred to as Garnacha Blanc. Flavors of pear, honeysuckle, citrus and toast. Can also exhibit unripe mango and lemon curd if the wine is aged in oak barrels.
Picpoul de Penet aka Folle Blanc (Languedoc – Roussillon) Hints of crushed rocks blend with honeydew melon and lemon flavors, with a floral nose. Try the La Chapelle du Bastion Picpoul de Penet.
Aligote (Burgundy) Apple, unripe peach, a hint of white flowers and smoke, with an herbal finish.
Chenin Blanc (Loire) Also called Pineau de la Loire. This white grape came to be recognized in France thousands of years ago and can be finished in a variety of styles, from dry and acidic still wines, to higher residual sugar wines to Fines Bulles (bubbles!). Chenin from France makes a fine sparkling wine.
A very cool climate and a long history of inconsistency has been met with government agricultural standards, or “Qualitatswein”. There are 17 Designations of Origin in Austria under the guise of the National Wine Committee. The country is in its infancy as far as production and exports, but watch for some interesting wines (including reds) for the future.
Gruner Veltliner This wine is also grown in Northern Italy, Germany and Hungary, but native to Austria, its most famous white. Lemon, lime nectarines, grapefruit, with white pepper, tarragon and honey as secondary flavors. Crisp and dry. Try the Paul Direder Gruner Veltliner.
Another colder climate wine growing region, over half of their production is from the Rhineland. Most noted for the Riesling grape, which can be finished in dry or sweet style. There are many nontraditional whites from Germany to explore.
Gewurztraminer This grape expresses flavors of pineapple, lychee and ruby red grapefruit. There are hints of ginger and smoke and an unmistakable floral nose. Try the Villa Wolf Gewurztraminer from the Pfalz region.
Silvaner (Rhein Hessen) or Sylvaner which is grown in Upstate NY, as well as Austria and Alsace, originated in GR. Peaches and herbs.
Scheurebe, aka Samling is a cross between Riesling and Bukettraube, created by Georg Scheu in 1916, also produced in Austria. Flavors of blackberries, tropical fruit and stone fruit. Aromatic, can be fermented sweet or dry, full bodied with flavors of peach and ripe pear with black currants.
Kerner (Rhein Hessen and Mosel) Another cross, this time Riesling and Trollinger by August Herold in 1929. Aromatic and popping with mango and tropical fruit. Also grown in Northern Italy – Alto Adige region.
Home to winemaking in every region of the country, Italy is the world’s largest producer of wine, where there is a strict Appellation system since 1963 to classify quality (similar to France) with 20 wine regions currently. Check out these snappy and vibrant whites.
Garganega known as Soave (Veneto, Bardolino) A dry white that dates back to the medieval village of Soave. Flavors of melon and peach and orange zest with a crisp finish. Try the Inama Vin Soave DOC.
Verdicchio (Marche) Cultivated for hundreds of years, was marketed in the US in a “fish bottle” as a simple table wine. Citrus flavors, mandarin orange, boasting a distinctive almond flavor on the finish.
Vermentino (Sardinia, Corsica, Piedmont and Languedoc- Roussillon, FR) Light bodied, lemon, green apple and grapefruit, with floral hints and a nutty, saline finish. Try the Antinori Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Vermentino.
Trebbiano (aka Ugni Blanc in France) Dry with flavors of white peaches, lemon, and herbs.
Fiano (Campania) Medium to full bodied with a beeswax characteristic, peach, honey and hazelnuts.
Greco (Campania) Volcanic rock oils bring out the minerality, but this wine shows peach and nectarine fruit up front.
Cortese (Piedmont) Known as a Gavi di Gavi, the Cortese grape has distinguished floral aromas, and a soft acidic finish. Try the Rosello Gavi DOCG
Falanghina (Campania) Tropical fruit flavors and a floral nose, crisp with some saline notes.
Grillo (Sicily) A cross between native grapes Catarrattto and Moscato d’ Alessandra, this grape was used almost exclusively to make Marsala, Sicily’s famous fortified wine. An aromatic Grillo shows grapefruit flavors, passionfruit and herbs. Try the Poggio Anima Grillo.
Inzolia or Insolia (Sicily) Another native Sicilian grape, it is also grown in coastal Tuscany. Meaning “of the sun” it shows mild acidity, stone fruit flavors and a mellow nutty finish.
Red and white wine from Spain is almost always a win- their quality system is similar to that of France and Italy with Denominacion de Origen. From sparkling Cava to the “Green Spain” wines of Galicia (not to mention their Garnacha and Tempranillo, but that’s another blog!) there are many whites of quality to explore.
Verdejo (Reuda) This grape originated in North Africa and was used to make very strongly oxidized wine like Sherry. Finished dry, the aromatics of citrus and melon lend toward high acid levels.
Macabeo or Viura (Rioja, Catalonia) Most often produced for Cava, the “Sparkling wine of Spain”. Dry, aromatic and cleansing, this sparkler expresses ripe peach fruit, citrus with an almond finish. Try the Juve & Camps Brut Nature.
Parellada (Catalonia) One of Spain’s three main grapes used in the production of Cava, Spain’s sparkling wine.
Xarel lo (Catalonia) One of Spain’s three main grape varieties used to make Spanish sparkling wine known as Cava.
Godello (Galicia) Grown mostly in Spain’s northern Atlantic Coastal region this white grape is known as Gouveio in Portugal where it also produces a medium bodied wine with briny lemon and grapefruit flavors and smokey minerality. Try the Avancia Godello O.
Treixadura (Ribeiro, Galicia)) One of the key varietals found in Portugal’s Vinho Verde.
Hondarribi Zuri (Basque) This varietal makes the fizzy wine Txakoli. Light, citrus tinged with herbal and mineral inflections.
Grenache Blanc (Rhone, FR, Rioja Spain) A popular varietal produced both in Spain- where it is referred to as Garnacha Blanc, and France’s Rhone region. Flavors of pear, honeysuckle, citrus and toast. Can also exhibit unripe mango and lemon curd if the wine is aged in oak barrels.
Albarino (aka Alvarinho in Portugal) Lemon zest, grapefruit, honeydew and ripe nectarine fruits, with a tingly white pepper finish on the tongue.
These days the quality and variety available in the Greek wine category is growing rapidly.
Malagousia Notes of green bell pepper, ripe peaches, basil and flowers, with a dry finish. Try the Ktima Gerovassiliou single vineyard Malagousia.
The first wine grapes were planted near Cape Town in the 17th century, brought over by the Dutch Colonials. The WO (Wine of Origin) system was implemented in 1973. South Africa has nearly 300,000 acres planted to vine, with the styles of winemaking almost a mixture of old world and new world.
Steen or Chenin Blanc (Paarl) This grape varietal originated in France’s Loire Valley, but has been prolific in South Africa, where it is often called Steen. Bright crisp green apple, white peach, with fresh herbs and a floral nose. Try the Babylonstoren Chenin Blanc from the Western Cape.
Most famous for their dessert style ports, the country is producing some amazing still wines, both red and white. There are over 250 indigenous varietals and the country uses a DO system for defined geographical regions and quality.
Vinho Verde, which often has a blend of white grapes to create the slightly frizzante, green apple with a touch of lime zest, refreshing Portuguese wine.
Sercial (Portugal) A white grape varietal produced on the Island of Madeira used for Madeira wine production.
Alvarinho Lemon zest, grapefruit, honeydew and ripe nectarine fruits, with a tingly white pepper finish on the tongue. Try our Twin Vines Vinho Verde.
A hundred years ago the Royal Courts of Europe toasted with Hungary’s famous Tokaji (pronounced toe kye). The Monks and the Turks were growing grapes in the 1500’s with Tokaji being the country’s most prestigious region.
Furmint is a drier white grape used to make the famous exported dessert wine, Tokaji. Also grown in Austria and Slovenia, it dominates the sweet wine that has a touch of grey mold or Botrytis, often aged in neutral oak bearing lots of residual sugar. Try the Disznoko Tokaji Aszu.
While we don’t have enough space to add all of the white varietals available from all over the world, we hope this helps you explore the many wines available here at Ed’s. See you soon!
By Carolyn R Brown