My wine acquisitions for the 1st week of April 2011

In case you haven’t noticed, there has been a lot of activity in my wine cellar. We’ve seen a number of wines depart, but many have entered the cellar in the past week. While many more wines will enter my wine cellar after Spring Barrel weekend, let me just tell you about my latest wine acquisitions for this week.

Acquisitions from Barclay’s Wine

In the past year, GroupOn.com offered a few opportunities for wine lovers to purchase $75 worth of wine for $25 through Barclay’s Wine. When I first saw the deal, I took advantage because it seemed like a no brainer. Afterwards, I realized purchasing wine through Barclay’s Wine takes a bit of research & patience. Thankfully, Cellar Tracker came to the rescue! After about two hours of research and taking notes, I decided on these 3 wines & a bottle of bubbly:

The Winery of Good Hope 2008 Vinum Africa Chenin Blanc (Stellenbosch)

“The nose hints at the wonderful elegance of this wine. White petals and citrus crispness integrated with light vanilla and cinnamon. Then the palate unfolds layers of fresh lime and gentle spices, underscored by an intensity of fruit which persists on the palate and finishes with a mineral resonance. In essence, it has immense personality and Stellenbosch-Helderberg driven personality. A complex, balanced combination of the finer attributes of good Chenin. A highly versatile wine, apt for an unusual variety of cuisines, certain to give much pleasure now and for a good few years to come. Good Chenin ages very well.”

The Winery of Good Hope 2007 Vinum Africa Cabernet Sauvignon (Stellenbosch)

“The deep, shiny cherry hue and smooth, rich spicy nose combine to put you in a good mood before the wine even hits your tongue.
Individual flavors, layered structure & generous fruit. Vinum’s aim is to combine the classic structure of Old World Cabs, with a nod
to the warmth of the New World’s accessible flavors. Intelligent oaking compliments rather than dominates the fruit, allowing it to
reflect its origin’s natural flavors. Cigar box, blueberry, spiciness, cherry and mocha mingle seamlessly, bridging the lapse between
sips. Finishing with a fresh minerality which will allow the wine an exciting future.”

Carma Vineyards 2010 Estate Bottled Carménère (Curico Valley)

I couldn’t find any official tasting notes on this wine, but here is the information from Barclay’s Wine:

“After the stunning success of the 2009 Carma Carménère, the vintners at Carma stepped it up yet again for the next vintage. The grapes used for the impressive Carma 2010 Carménère come from the winery’s estate vineyard in the sector of Palmilla, a region considered by many to be in “the center of gravity” when it comes to Chilean wine. The 10 year-old vines benefit from deep soils that are clay-like and sandy, are trained onto vertical shoot-positioned trellises, and cane pruned. The wine is a violet red color and the aroma is of fresh red fruit—raspberries and cherries—along with notes of herbs and toasted coffee beans. The aromas follow through on the palate with red fruits, spices and bittersweet chocolate. It is an elegant wine with juicy concentration and persistence. “

Bagrationi 2007 1882 Reserve Brut (Country of Georgia)

“The pale yellow straw 2007 Reserve Brut is an excellent sparkling wine with a light floral nose, made using the méthode Champenoise. It has a nice rich palate, a creamy mouth-feel and good depth of ripe pear and stone fruit flavors. The finish is exceptionally strong with persistent flavors, a crisp dryness, and leesy notes. Made from a blend of Chinuri, Tsitska, Kakhuri, and Mitsvane grapes from diverse regions.”

You may be wondering why I decided on these 4 bottles. With only $75 to work with, I considered a few factors. The first being how much bang could I get for my buck. I could have easily just picked a bunch of wines under $10 or the $10 – $15 range. However, I realized right away that this would’ve been a huge mistake. The problem with many of the wines in Barclay’s Wine selection is they aren’t very well-known on the lower end of the scale. So if no one in the vast Cellar Tracker community owned any bottles, chances are they wouldn’t be worth the investment. The next thing I considered was what the Cellar Tracker community was saying about the wines that were known to the community. I found a lot of wines were rated poorly to average. Wine ratings are highly subjective, as we all know. However, when you see multiple vintages from a winery rated in the 60 – 79 range, you can determine that it won’t be worth drinking. So, rather than take a huge risk,  I stuck to wines that had at least an 84 or higher rating. Combining those two factors, I came up with these four wines.

By the way, in case you were wondering, the average Cellar Tracker rating for these wines is 88.2 with the lowest rated at 87.2 ;)

Northern Italian Wine Tasting at Grand Cru Wine

After the Barone Fini Taste Challenge event, a few of us joined Grand Cru Wine Shop for their Northern Italian Wine Tasting. Grand Cru offers wine tastings every Thursday covering various wine regions around the world for only $10. In most cases, if you purchase 3 bottles from the night, your tasting fee is waived. They also have a great VIP membership program that offers discounts on wine. There were five to six wines offered at the tasting and I came home with these three wines:

Terre di Gioia 2009 Sauvignon Blanc (Friuli Grave)

“This Sauvignon Blanc is fresh with an aromatic bouquet including tomato leaf hints of lemon, pineapple and elder. It is perfect with light soup and fish.”

Casa Vinicola Pietro Nera 2003 Sorèl (Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio IGT)

“Deep ruby red color, vinous and pleasant, full flavor, round and velvety”

Cesari 2008 Mara Vino di Ripasso (Valpolicella Superiore)

“Mara Ripasso has a ruby red color, a ripe concentrated bouquet, and a warm, full-bodied, velvety taste. The ripasso method was invented in the Veneto region. It entails refermenting Valpolicella on the lees of the Amarone. This unique method yields a wine with a bit more alcohol, complexity, and structure. Cesari’s Mara is named for the Matriarch of the family and encompasses the elegance and style that one would expect from its namesake. Mara is made from Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes. After the refermentation the wine is aged for a year in Slavonian oak casks and French tonneaux. It is released after six months of bottle rest.”

After trying these wines, I was quick to realize that these should be enjoyed with food. Out these wines, I’m most curious about the Mara. It tastes great now, but I think it will get even better with age.

Bottling Day at DiStefano Winery

From time to time, wineries need help with various activities which include crushing grapes & bottling wine. Last week, I received a Facebook message from Victor at DiStefano Winery requesting my help for bottling day. I had a free day in my schedule so I figured, why not! Helping wineries in times of need is a great way to build a relationship with your favorite winery. It’s also a great way to build your collection ;) For your viewing pleasure, I’ve compiled a few photos and made a video from my first bottling experience:

After a day of hard work, I was rewarded with these bottles of wine:

DiStefano Winery 2006 Domenica (Columbia Valley)

“Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot make up this unique blend. Cherry cola, toasted wood, spice and brown sugar jump out of the glass. Hints of shaved milk chocolate, coffee, cardamom and toasted wood add complexity. Very soft and juicy on the palate with a delicate finish of tasted almond.”

DiStefano Winery 2006 Sogno (Columbia Valley)

“Loaded with blueberries, bing cherries, strawberry, chocolate and anise. Subtle notes of dried herbs and cedar combined with a hint of violets and vanilla bean give many layers to this blend. Very juicy mid palate with firm tannin, good acidity, and a toasty finish.”

DiStefano Winery 2007 Ottimo Proprietor’s Reserve (Columbia Valley)

“The Proprietor’s Reserve is a proprietor’s wine. It is simply the best of what our vineyards produced in 2007. This wine aged in barrel for 36 months. Each barrel tells a unique story, has a unique aroma and a unique flavor. With this wine, we are attempting to tell that story. It is a blend made from the soul with passion, dedication and respect for what our vineyards offer us each year. We can only hope that our story becomes part of your book!”

“Our 2007 Ottimo can be described as dense, concentrated and focused. Initial aromas of black cherry and fig integrate among layers of tobacco, cocoa and spicy cardamom. Very full on the palate front to back with firm, chewy tannin.”

Distefano Winery 2007 Sigaro (Columbia Valley)

“Sigaro is a special wine that has been blended with the cigar connoisseur in mind. We wanted to make a wine that paired well with cigar smoking, a wine that did not compete with a great cigar, but a wine that could share a great draw from a robust, a belicosos or even a petit corona. We wanted the blend to be sweet on the palette, nor sugar, but a sweet character that shared the sweet flavor when you put a cigar to your lips. We wanted the mouth feel to be full, but wanted the weight to be more medium than heavy. After weeks of blending several varietals we settled with Grenache and Syrah, and what a sweet smoke that wine is!”

“Beautiful aromas of bing cherry, vanilla and strawberry with the slightest touch of lavender. Plenty of perfume layers drift across the glass adding subtle hints of cardamom spice, dried cherry, smoke, pepper and leather dusted with a touch of dried herbs. Silky refined tannins on the palate with flavors of toasted almond, marion berry and tobacco. Perfect for quaffing on the patio with a sweet cigar! Enjoy!”

Distefano Winery 2008 DiStefano (Columbia Valley)

Editors note: Unfortunately, I do not have any tasting notes for this wine. Once I receive them, I’ll update this section

As you can see, helping out your favorite wineries can be quite rewarding. However, I think the bigger reward is that you’re helping out friends in the community who truly appreciate it.

A Special Delivery from Furion Cellars

I decided to take a break from writing this post to get some food at Spuds Fish and Chips in Kirkland, WA. While on the freeway, I received an email from my wine storage facility stating that I received a delivery from Furion Cellars. I’ve been looking forward to trying their wines since I heard about them, so I decided to take a detour to the cellar. Oddly enough, no one was at the cellar for our normal cellar tasting. So instead of hanging out, I just decided to see what goodies I received:

Furion Cellars 2007 Wicces Basium (Walla Walla Valley)

“Our flagship wine is a blend of Syrah,Mourvedre and Grenache. It is a full-blooded rhone styled wine with hints of eucalyptus, toast and chocolate scents. Blueberries and dry earth minerals dominate the flavors with a dry cocoa finish right down the middle of your tongue. Very long silky tannins.”

Furion Cellars 2007 The Dark Arts Syrah (Walla Walla Valley)

Editors note: Unfortunately, I do not have any tasting notes for this wine. Once I receive them, I’ll update this section

I would like to thank Micole Miller from Furion Cellars for dropping off the wine. I’ll be sure to visit the tasting room soon!

As you can see, I’ve had a busy first week of April in the wine cellar. Coming up this week: Spring Barrel Weekend!

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