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2015 Emilio Bulfon Piculit Neri

I needed to write about this wine, not because it was life altering delicious, but because it has a cool story. The grape that makes this wine is called Piculit Neri; a grape I had never heard of. The reason for that is because it’s an ancient Italian vine that was rescued from extinction by winemaker Emilio Bulfon.  The Emilio Bulfon vinyard, located in Italy, is about 40 acres, 20 of which are dedicated to growing the Piculit Neri grape and from what I heard, it’s the only vineyard in the world to bottle this grape into wine.

I wanted to explore this grape more and found this description on Wine Searcher:

Aptly named (Piculit Neri means “small black”), the variety produces smallish grapes with a dark blue, slightly waxy skin. The bunches are typically conical and relatively tightly packed. Piculit Neri vines are most clearly identifiable in the springtime, during budding; a cotton-like down covers the buds, which are otherwise light green with a reddish tinge at the edges. A mid-ripening variety, the grapes are typically harvested in October.

The Bulfon Piculit Neri has a medium body. Definitely heartier than pinots, but not quite as full body as a cabernet. The aroma was heavy with cherry and blackberry. Its taste however, was more complex. I tasted the cherry and blackberry at first, but then a vanilla flavor presented itself, and the wine finished with smoke and pepper flavors. It was interesting to say the least.

For $20.00, this wine is an excellent value. Not only for the complex flavors, but the unique story that comes along with it. I think the Piculit Neri would compliment a salisbury steak dish, and/or wintery stew with tarragon and mushrooms. For warmer weather meals, think grilled Italian sausage, or marinaded flank steak with potatoes sautéed with onions and garlic. Bon Appetit!

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Loop 2014 Chardonnay

“Make no little plans: they have no magic to stir men’s blood.” – Daniel Burnham (as seen on the back of a bottle of Loop Chardonnay.

On a recent grocery-shopping excursion, there was a table set up for wine tasting (LOVE grocery shopping in 2017). The attendant was very enthusiastic about an un-oaked Chardonnay produced by former Chicagoans called “Loop”, so naturally I had to try it.

It was medium in color and body. The smell of Loop was strong with honey and reminded me of Sweet Tarts candy.  Definitely better than the Chicago Loop actually smells, but at this point, I was starting to lose hope in the quality of this wine. I persevered though and found the taste to be light and refreshing. It had a strong green apple and melon taste on the palate with a slight hint of creamy butter. Since Loop is un-oaked, it doesn’t smack you in the face with oak and butter like some other California chardonnays have a tendency to do. It reminded me of the best parts of a Chardonnay mixed with the best parts of a Sauvignon Blanc. No flowers or grapefruit, but a crisp texture that still felt hearty.

Loop can be consumed all by itself, or would pair nicely with a dish of scallops with lemon butter, or a linguini and clam entree. I would also suggest chunky vegetable salads but only with citrus dressings; no balsamic.

I did some research on the wine makers since they are from my home town of Chicago. There’s not much online about them, and according to their Facebook page, they despise social media. What I can glean is they met in Chicago, shared a love of wine and wanted to “take wine back to the people.” So, they moved to Paso Robles, CA and started making Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. I’m glad they did because the Loop is delicious and at $14.00 per bottle, it’s definitely affordable for all wine loving people.  Mission accomplished.

Butterball Chardonnay 2014

Yes, this Chardonnay is called Butterball and (spoiler alert) it goes with Thanksgiving dinner! Butterball was a wine of the month a short time ago, and it really surprised me. Typically, Australian Chardonnay isn’t my jam, but this Butterball is a standout. Possibly because it’s made in Western Australia in the Margaret River region which is known to produce wines with a more European taste.

The aroma is a combination of toast and pear. Researching, I found that Butterball is allowed to mature with lees of yeast still in the barrel giving it that bread smell. The taste is rich and you guessed it, “buttery.” It bites much less than most Australian wines in my opinion. Ever so slightly fruity, this chardonnay can be enjoyed by itself, or with food.

I would recommend a cheese plate to pair with the Butterball if you are serving during an appetizer course. A nice blue or roquefort would be nice. I definitely feel like this wine would be great with the flavors on your Thanksgiving table as well. Turkey, stuffing and vegetables would compliment this wine nicely. At an average of about $12 per bottle, you can entertain your friends and family in style without breaking the bank this Thanksgiving. Cheers!

 

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MacRostie Vineyard; Chardonnays

Recently, I was fortunate enough to visit Healdsburg, CA with my family and on our wine tasting day we decided to make a reservation at MacRostie Winery & Vineyards. MacRostie only makes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay so it was right up my alley.

The first thing I took note of when we arrived was the breathtaking views. The host was friendly and sat us at a table in a covered patio section of the property overlooking the vineyard and mountains. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon. There was a menu on the table describing three different tasting flight options, but when our host came over, he said that his tour was the best and he’d customize it based on our feedback along the way. Sounded good to me.

We started with three Chardonnays. The first was their 2014 San Giacomo which was affectionately nicknamed the “Pool Pounder” since it’s flavor was casual, a bit unrefined, and it didn’t require a meal to be complete. It stood on it’s own. Think sunny Saturday, outside on your patio with friends. This wine reminded me of the Rombauer and I found it to be stereotypical of what I think most Chardonnays from California taste like. The grapes were grown in a warmer climate so the fruit shines through with that oak and buttery finish.

Our next sample was the 2013 Wildcat. The grapes for this wine were grown in a cooler climate; having to dig into the volcanic soil in order to survive against winds from the Pacific. The different growing region made for a more mineral tasting wine. Think rocks and clay. I found this wine to be complex with that mineral taste coupled with citrus fruits, and honey. This was my favorite bottle from the Chardonnay offering and it would couple well with brie, salads, or a light grilled chicken dish.

Our last Chardonnay was their 2014 Goldrock Ridge. This is a very limited release wine as they only produced 10 barrels. Like the Wildcat, these grapes were grown in a cooler, coastal environment. This wine to me smelled like floral hand lotion. It had a slight mineral taste, was floral, fruity and light bodied. It grew on me the more I sipped it.

The Chardonnay experience at MacRostie was great. Although I favored the Wildcat, I felt like they each had their purpose and distinct palate and all were delicious.

 

Vina Robles Sauvignon Blanc 2014

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(You’ll notice that I couldn’t even get a picture of this wine while the bottle was still full…..that’s how fast it was gone!)

I’d like to present, your 2016 summer wine crush. The 2014 Vina Robles Sauvignon Blanc. Normally, I’m pretty finicky when it comes to the Sauvignon Blanc. It has to be the right temperature outside, I have to be eating the right food, the moon as to be in the right lunar phase, etc… This is because to me, Sauvignon Blancs are so distinct in their flavor profiles; very much leaning in to grapefruit and flowers which can be very overpowering. Not this one.

The color is light, and the smell is heavy on apples, citrus, and a hint of spicy jalepeno. The taste is so crisp and refreshing, mimicking the aroma and finishing with a bit of mineral. It begs to be consumed on a patio in the summer while grilling some fish or chicken, or ordering sushi. The Vina Robles is not heavy on grapefruit and no floral taste at all, but is still satisfying and complex.

Happy grilling and sipping!

 

 

 

“Matinee” by Paul Lato Pinot Noir 2011

I walked in to our local wine store and had no idea what I wanted. I did know that I wanted something new that I hadn’t tried before. I was pointed in the direction of the Paul Lato Pinot Noir and was told it was a small batch vineyard and a “can’t miss.”

I did some research on Paul Lato and his story is a good one. A native of Poland, Paul Lato landed in Toronto and worked his way up in the restaurant business and finally made it to sommelier. In 2002, he decided to leave Canada and intern with Au Bon Climat vineyard and he quickly began making his own wine. By “a stroke of luck” famous wine critic Robert Parker tasted one of his wines and encouraged him to create a label and make more. He had little money, no investors or partners but he leveraged the contacts he made as a sommelier, and rapidly got his wines on the menus at some swanky Los Angeles restaurants like Craft. Wolfgang Puck is such a fan he asked for 100 cases from Paul Lato to serve at his son’s wedding.

But how does it taste? I enjoyed a 2011 bottle of the Matinee Pinot Noir. The scent was sweet cherry, licorice (both black and red) and it smelled like an older wine, despite being only 5 years old. It was cloudy in the glass too, also reminding me of an older wine.

The palate definitely has that luscious cherry that I smelled, but also some smoke and tobacco. It certainly had a rich flavor and could stand up to steaks, Italian meals and stinky cheeses.

At $35, I thought it was a good value and the wine maker has a great backstory to tell when you bring this wine to a dinner party or your next BYOB dinner with friends.

 

 

 

Napa by Napa Red Blend 2012

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Napa by Napa was one of my monthly wines. I don’t have anything particular against blends, but I usually stick to single varietals. In the US, in order for a wine to be considered a single varietal, it needs to be 75% of a single type of grape. Those grapes can come from different plots, but are the same grape. A blend is a mashup of different grape types. Blends are used for a multitude of different reasons, such as increasing the scent. Reds tend to be blended more often than whites, except in some regions in Europe where blending whites is common.

History lesson over. Let’s talk about Napa by Napa. The color is dark and rich. The aroma of this wine is heavy on cedar and sweet cherry. The taste is nice with the cedar coming forward in the beginning with a hint of black licorice and leather. The finish includes flavors of oak and vanilla. This is a pretty complex blend.

Let this wine breathe for a few minutes before drinking. I liked it significantly more after it had sat for a while in the glass. The food I thought about while drinking this wine was grilled meats. Probably because of the cedar and oak flavors. Grilled Italian sausage with peppers, or maybe a lamb burger would be my picks. Serve this wine at your next BBQ and nobody will be disappointed.

Animist Chardonnay 2014

I haven’t blogged in a while for a couple of reasons. I’ve suffered from a bit of wine fatigue after the holidays, and frankly the wines I have consumed lately have been uninspiring… until now.

My husband purchased the Animist Chardonnay at Whole Foods this afternoon because it was on sale and he knew we hadn’t had it before. Normally $25, he got it for $15. Not a bad deal. He also purchased the Animist Pinot Noir which will be another post coming soon.

As you can see from the pictures, the bottle is very pretty and distinctive. Once opened, the aromas of green apple, and cheese dominate. The taste is very unique with heavy notes of blue cheese combined with oak and butter. The after taste reminded me of smokey bacon.

Blue cheese, butter, and bacon? YES, and it works! This wine would pair nicely with a chicken dish, a spicy meat appetizer plate or a hearty salad in the summer. This chardonnay is truly a year round wine.

After drinking a few sips, I was curious to know where the name Animist came from and learned this:

“Animism (from Latin anima, “breath, spirit, life”) is the worldview that non-human entities—such as animals, plants, and inanimate objects—possess a spiritual essence.”

Indeed.

 

 

 

“Relax, it’s just wine”…

…is part of the Ministry Edict No. 222 on the back of the Ministry of Vinterior 2013 Pinot Noir.

Knowing that a snowstorm was coming, my husband decided the family should hunker down with wine and food on hand.  I ordered a pepperoni and ricotta pizza from Coalfire Pizza and my husband and I would indulge in a glass or two of Pinot Noir. My husband came back from the wine shop with this new Pinot we’d never seen before.

If definitely needs to breathe a bit before drinking. The aroma is tobacco and cherry. The cherry scent really starts to shine after it’s been sitting in the glass for a few minutes.

The taste of this wine is very peppery and smokey. Less like chipolte smokey and more like campfire and ash. The pepper in this wine lingers in the back of your throat after every sip. Honestly, I wish I tasted more of the luscious cherry I was smelling as I think it would have balanced the flavor.

This wine paired sufficiently with my pizza. It was a bit of spicy on spicy with the pepperoni but I like spicy so it was A-ok with me. My second glass was consumed without food and this wine is made to be paired.

At $22 a bottle, this isn’t a bank breaker, but it’s a little pricey to not love it. I would only recommend if you wanted to try something new, are adventurous, like spice and smoke or are curious what Ministry Edict No 223 is.

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