Search Articles

Please Share

FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousStumbleuponGoogle BookmarksRedditTechnoratiLinkedin

Sponsors

Sponsors

Most Read Articles

Blog

Wine Worth the Money: 2006 Kobalt Cabernet Sauvignon

There are a lot of conversations these days that include phrases like “with this economy” and “in these troubled economic times.” Clearly, few of us are spending money as freely now as we may have two or three years ago. Whether a person’s income is actually lower or they just feel more comfortable spending less and saving more, conspicuous consumption is out and frugality is fashionable.

Wine purchasing habits have been impacted by this. Restaurants are selling fewer expensive bottles. “By the glass” is now much more popular because, even if it’s a bad deal by volume, one can simply drink less and thus spend less. In wine shops, people who used to buy truly expensive bottles have cut their average bottle price by as much as 75%. For other folks, $8 bottles are the new $20 bottle.

Despite all of the saving, bargain-hunting and prudent moderation, every now and then people want to “break out.” Maybe there’s a big birthday or anniversary. Maybe you bought AAPL at $80. Maybe you had big money on the Ducks over Cal. Whatever the reason, sometimes you’re feeling flush and you’re ready to spend big on a bottle. But no matter how badly you want to spend, you don’t want to spend badly. As with many things, the price of wine is based at least as much on the law of supply and demand, production cost, and brand power as it is on quality. You want to buy wine worth the money, not just pay for someone’s expensive real estate.

Tasting Impressions: Food & Wine Magazine 2009 American Wine Awards

Wednesday, I described the Food & Wine Magazine American Wine Awards event that took place on October 6 in St. Helena. Today’s article covers the wines themselves. As it happens, you might consider the article a shopping list.

Wine Over Time: Two Syrah from Olson Ogden

One of the pleasures in enjoying wine is seeing how a bottle changes over time. We usually think of this in the context of aging, buying several bottles of an age-worthy wine and trying one every year or so. However, a lot of wines change in interesting ways over the course of a just few hours as they aerate in your glass. One rarely sees any details on this in reviews of specific wines.

Reviews these days almost always provide you with a score these days. You’re also given a collection of adjectives that try to communicate the aromas, flavors and texture. In the majority of cases, these notes are based on quick tastes. Some reviewers taste as many as two hundred wines per day. How does this help you determine whether or not a wine will “come around” during dinner or die if decanted?

The most conscientious reviewers might taste a wine a second time on the following day. This gives the reviewer more time to think about the wine and the wine a chance to aerate. Plus, it’s a “safety check” that ensures the taster’s palate wasn’t “off” the first time. I’m sure that whenever you dine in a restaurant, you arrive a day in advance, taste the wine and then tell them to keep the open bottle so you can drink it tomorrow. No?

While these reviews are be helpful, they are incomplete. And they seem to ascribe consistency and predictability to wines that is not realistic. With that in mind, I will periodically do wine reviews in which I describe the wine as it is upon first opening but also increments of 15 minutes or so over a few hours (or more) as it sits in my glass. This essentially replicates the experience you might have with the wine during a leisurely dinner.

9 Wineries that Donote Proceeds to Charity

The California wine industry is extremely philanthropic. Some wineries support charities by donating bottles or tasting experiences to benefit auctions. Others, or their owners, “give back” through generous direct donations of cash or land. A growing number of wineries make donations that are directly tied to the sale of their wine.

Sales-based donations may not be as dramatic as an auction lot which sells for tens of thousands of dollars. And the scale of the donations are a lot lower than those made by legendary winery owner/philanthropists such as Bob Trinchero and August Sebastiani. However, sales-based giving can still be significant and allows consumers to participate, knowing that their purchase of a particular wine will help somebody.

If you’d like to complement your own direct charitable donations by purchasing wine or helping charitable wineries in some way, here are nine wineries to consider supporting (in alphabetical order):

Canine Wines
Canine Wines donates $5 to animal rescue agencies for every bottle sold. The winery offers a range of wines, mostly from respected single-vineyards. I’ve not tasted any of the current releases, but have enjoyed several of their wines in the past. Each wine features an irresistibly cute picture of a rescued dog on the front label and the dog’s tale on the back label. A bottle would make a charming holiday gift for your wine-drinking, dog-loving friends.

Charity Wines
Charity Wines teams up with professional sports stars to create “collectible” wines. Think baseball cards that come with wine instead of stale bubblegum. Past wines include ZinfandEllsbury (Boston Red Sox player, Jacoby Ellsbury), Cabernet Glavingnon (Atlanta Braves pitching great, Tom Glavine), Dan Marino Vintage “13” Chardonnay and, for old-school wrestling fans, Jimmy Snuka Superfly Cabernet. Proceeds go to support charities selected by the player. I’ve not tasted any of the wines but, at the every least, they would make an amusing gift for the sports fans in your life or look good next to your bobbleheads. There are several dozen labels to choose from. Charity Wines claims to have donated more than $1.6 million dollars to charity so far.

Cleavage Creek Winery
Cleavage Creek Winery donates 10% of their gross profits to breast cancer research. To date, their contributions exceed $70,000. The wines, which range in price from $18 to $50, are made from Northern California grapes and feature attractive (but tasteful) pictures of breast cancer survivors on the front labels. Cleavage Creek Winery also has a tasting room that you can visit in Pope Valley (northeast from Calistoga in Napa Valley).

Curvature Wines
Curvature Wines is another label that donates proceeds to breast cancer research. A joint venture between LPGA golfer Christie Kerr, who focuses many of her charitable activities on breast cancer, and Suzanne Pride Bryan who is both a breast cancer survivor and one of the owners of Pride Mountain Vineyards. Their current offering is a limited-production 2007 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. While there is just one wine, different packaging options are available including magnum and 3-liter bottles as well as a three-pack of 750ml bottles signed by Christie Kerr.

Ehlers Estate
Ehlers Estate is unique in that the winery actually belongs to a not-for-profit foundation. When founder Jean Leducq passed away in 2002, he left it in trust the the foundation that he and his wife, Sylviane, had started in 1996. As a result, 100% of the proceeds from from Ehlers Estate wine sales go to cardiovascular research. The winery, located north of downtown St. Helena, uses organic and biodynamic growing practices in growing Bordeaux grape varieties. Their tasting room is open by appointment daily and the wines are excellent.

Emtu Estate
Emtu Estate is a very small winery in Forestville (Russian River Valley) owned and operated by John and Chris Mason. The husband/wife team produce very nice Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Rosé of Merlot wine from the grapes grown in their 3 acre backyard. All the profits from sales of their wine go to charity through their Labyrinth Foundation. When the Masons aren’t busy with the winery or caring for the rescued birds of prey housed on their property, they travel around the world helping in communities of need. For more information on Emtu Estate read our detailed profile.

Humanitas
Humanitas is a Napa winery that also has a unique approach to philanthropy. Humanitas' profits all go to charity, but the charity that gets the money from your purchases is based in your own community. Humanitas works primarily with national charties that have local chapters all over the country. It gives directly to those chapters as dictated by sales. The winery also lists a large number of specific charities on its website and, if you wish, you can designate that some of the proceeds go to one of those. You do that by buying the wine from the Humanitas site and entering a specific promo code at checkout. The agencies supported include food banks, Habitat for Humanity and groups that support at-risk children.

Lookout Ridge
Lookout Ridge raises the bar on the sales-based giving. While the other wineries mentioned in this article donate some or all of their proceeds to charity, Lookout Ridge literally gives more money to charity than it takes in. For every single bottle of Lookout Ridge wine purchased, the winery gives a wheelchair to a needy individual. The buyer of the bottle (or the recipient if it's a gift) also receives a certificate and a photo of someone who has received one of the wheelchairs. Lookout Ridge relies heavily on donations of time and material from winemakers, vineyards, and other suppliers. If you can help in some way, they would love to hear from you.

Lookout Ridge offers a variety of wines produced from vineyards in Sonoma and Napa counties. Each wine is made by a high-profile winemaker such as Greg LaFollette, Andy Erickson and Cathy Corison. The wines are not cheap at $100 each. However, they are excellent (90+ points) and the cost of acquiring and distributing the wheelchairs, not to mention the wine production costs, is higher than the $100 bottle price. See our profile of Lookout Ridge which includes reviews of two of their wines.

One Hope Wine
One Hope Wine donates half of all profits to charity. Causes supported by these charities include children’s hospitals, United States military veterans and their families, and the fights against AIDs, breast cancer, autism and global warming. Specific causes are clearly identified for each wine, so you can allocate your dollars according to your preferences. The wines themselves are all varietals with general California designations except for a Pinot Noir that is from the Arroyo Seco AVA (Monterey County) specifically. To date, One Hope has contributed more than $350,000 to charity.

Just one more thing...
There's one more project I'd like to mention here, but it doesn't involve the sale of wine. Cellar Magic is a unique philanthropic wine project of Mara LaFollette (winemaker Greg LaFollette's wife). Cellar Magic wines aren’t for sale. They are all given away. Mara says, “We believe that man does not live on charity dollars alone, we want our teachers, medicos and firefighters to enjoy the fruits of our labor by having a glass of wine with their meals.” To that end, the wines are donated to community organizations such as Palmdrive Community Hospital, the Cancer Foundation, Electric Car Foundation and schools for holiday dinners, other special occasions and, occasionally, benefit auctions.

Cellar Magic still has some wine available for donation this year. There's a 2006 Semillion — I love aged Semillon! — from Amador County and Dry Creek Valley fruit and a 2005 Bordeaux-style white made from Amador County Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and a bit of Mendocino County Alvarinho. If you know of a worthy organization, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

If you enjoyed this article, please share it! Icons for popular sharing services are at the right above and also below.

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for breaking wine news, information on events and more. Become a fan and join the NorCal Wine community on FacebookAlso check out our comprehensive Northern California winery listings. They are very useful for planning a tasting trip or just getting in touch with a winery.

This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2010 NorCal Wine. All rights reserved.

New White Wines and Rosés from Rutherford's Day in the Dust

Last Wednesday afternoon, the Rutherford Dust Society held their annual tasting for trade and media at Inglenook. Roughly 40 wineries were represented. I tasted 54+ wines (in addition to those from the morning session which I describe here). That article also includes a summary of the 2011 vintage overall.

Most of the wines offered at the tasting were red. However, there were some very compelling white and rosés too. I’ve dedicated this article to those wines, so they don’t get lost in the Cabernet shuffle.

Rutherford White and Rosé New Releases

Alpha Omega Sauvignon Blanc “1155” Napa Valley 2013, ~$38
Sauvignon Blanc and 4% Semillon, all estate-grown in Rutherford, were fermented in French oak barrels. Fresh, summery flavors of tart peach and dry grass are coupled with enjoyably grippy texture and freshness. Recommended

El Molino Chardonnay Rutherford 2012, $60 - 856 cases
White peach and beautiful floral notes of honeysuckle and pikake with some oak in the background. Very pretty. Highly Recommended

Elizabeth Spencer Chardonnay Rutherford 2012, $45 - 300 cases
Aromas and flavors of green apple skin, fresh herb and under ripe peach with a fresh palate. Recommended

Fleury Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford 2012, $50
Fermentation and aging was 50% stainless steel, 50% new French oak. This is a boldly tropical wine with passionfruit, pineapple and white flower aromatics. Medium-plus body and the flavor of piña colada on the palate. Recommended

Honig Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford 2012, $28
Salty lemon-lime aromas with grapefruit, peppery spice and herb on the palate. Medium-plus body and very fresh. Aged in French oak, 40% new. 10% Semillon, 2% Muscat. Highly Recommended

Long Meadow Ranch Winery Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford 2013, $20
Salty lime pith, passionfruit, melon rind and herb aromas join with loads of grapefruit on the palate. Fresh, long and intense. Highly Recommended

Conspire Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford 2013, $28 - 267 cases
Welcome to Sancerre! Intensely aromatic with passionfruit, grapefruit, salty minerality and pipi du chat. Body is a light medium-plus and the finish very long. 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 50% Sauvignon Musque. Conspire is a sub-brand of Amy Aiken's Meander wines. Highly Recommended

Provenance Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford 2013, ~$23
Fresh, tasty and softened ever so slightly by 5% oak (new French). Peach blossom, guava and spice. Recommended

Provenance Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford Estate 2013, ~$29
30% usage of new French oak lends added richness to the palate of this estate wine. White peach, sweet citrus and spice. Best to let this wine breathe a good while or splash it into a decanter. Highly Recommended

Staglin Chardonnay Rutherford Estate 2012, $75
A gorgeous Chardonnay with green and yellow apples and pretty floral spice on the nose and creamy palate. Very Highly Recommended

Talahalusi Vineyards Roussanne Rutherford 2012
First things first: Talahalusi is the name the local Wappo tribe had for what we know as Napa Valley. There’s 5% Picpoul Blanc blended into this full-bodied Roussanne. It’s juicy and long with flavors of kiwi and dry grass. Recommended

Tres Sabores Rosé Rutherford “Ingrid and Julia” 2013, $24
Forget that this an unlikely dry rosé, made from Zinfandel (85%) and Petite Sirah (15%). Just enjoy the pale pink color, delicious flavors of nectarine and fresh berries in sweet cream and the refreshing, long-lasting palate. Highly Recommended

 

Follow NorCalWine on Twitter for wine news, information on events and more, or friend me on Facebook. This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

Subcategories