2007 Peterson, Il Granaio, Sangiovese, Dry Creek Valley

Summer has pretty much passed us by without providing us the much needed heat that would be preferred to ferment those little grapes of the vitus vinifera that we love so much.  But here in Sonoma County we have this little thing we call “Indian Summer,” I’m sure this is similar to the “Indian Summers” across our great country, but let me tell you…  It was friggin’ hot this last weekend!  Especially in Dry Creek, just outside of Healdsburg, where it’s normally warmer than the majority of Sonoma County.

Family Wine Tasting
Family Wine Tasting

Anyhow, aside from the hot weather, this last weekend was really great because I got to meet one of the great celebrities (at least from my perspective) of the wine blogging world, Mr. Joe Herrig of Suburbanwino.com.  Along with Joe I met his lovely wife Heather and their beautiful 3-month old daughter Olivia.  We met up at the Family Vineyards tasting room area (or whatever you call it) where there’s five wineries tasting rooms: Family Vineyards, Papapeitro Perry, Amphora, Kokomo, and Peterson… oh and we can’t leave out Dry Creek Olive Co. {great olive oils BTW}.  We visited three of these and spent a couple hours chatting about wine and baby diapers, The NPA, Ben Simons, Ed Thralls, Tamara Belgard, WBC10 & 11, Atlanta and of course BBQing.  It was a great afternoon and I owe a very big special thank you to my 2 1/2 year old son for being a great sport, cooped up in his stroller and happy to watch the forklift in action as some of the wineries received their harvests.

Out of this whole thing I did buy some wine from one of my new favorite wineries, Peterson.  They were nice enough to open up their new release of Sangiovese, after I begged and gushed over their 2007, which I recently reviewed here: http://norcalwingman.com/2010/06/24/2007-peterson-sangiovese-dry-creek-valley/.  We said hey to the winemaker and the other staff in the tasting room and enjoyed a sample of most of the current releases there, but this one caught my attention.

2007 Peterson, Il Granaio, Sangiovese, Dry Creek Valley

2007 Il Granaio
2007 Il Granaio

The Nose: Black cherries and nutty, savory hard cheese are herded together with some of “The Barn” funk (that’s what Il Granaio means in Italian).  Perhaps the goat on the label is influencing my olfactory senses.

The Taste: Tart and savory cherry fruits and spices predominate, sage and cedar come through thanks to the Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvigon in this blend.

The Mouth Feel: Smooth and pleasant front and mid palate.  Tannins and acid kick in mid and follow through the in the finish where Dry Creek river stone minerality lingers.

The Color: Deep and Dark!  Clearly a long extraction on this “Zero Manipulation” wine.

2007 Il Granaio
2007 Il Granaio

The Nitty Gritty:
Composition:
Varietal / Vineyard Breakdown: Harvest Dates:
82% Sangiovese – Teldeschi Vineyard Sept. 1, 2007
18% Cabernet Sauvignon – Enos Vineyard Sept. 14, 2007
Appellation: Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County
Alcohol: 15.7%
pH: 3.51
TA: 0.726g/100ml
Barrel Aging: 23 months
Type of Oak: 18% new French oak barrels
82% older French & American oak
Bottling Date: August 11, 2009
Production: 150 cases
Release Date: July 2010
$28.00 at the Tasting Room

The Verdict: I think that the events of the weekend made this wine taste great, but as I’m sitting here, writing this review, sipping this wine, I have to say I dig it.  It’s a bit on the funky side.  There’s some barn characteristics, I’m not sure if it’s brettanomyces, or if it’s that this is a “Zero Manipulation” wine and the unfined and unfiltered thing gives it some gameyness.  I’d recommend you just get out there and buy a bottle, or at least give it a taste (if they’re still tasting it, it was down to slim pickin’s when I was there last weekend).  It could also just be that I’ve been on this Sangiovese kick lately, who knows!?

In vino veritas: Nitty Gritty Notes taken from Peterson Winery Tasting notes at http://www.petersonwinery.com/pdfs/Il%20Granaio%202007-1B.pdf

2002 Deerfield Ranch Winery, Super T Rex – plus Soiree

I have a little history with this wine.  The first time I had the pleasure of drinking this wine was at a great Italian restaurant in historic “Railroad Square” in downtown Santa Rosa, CA, named Portofino’s.  Unfortunately, Portofino’s is no more, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find some of this wine left over at a “meet-up” hosted by William Allen of Simple Hedonisms at Deerfield Ranch Winery on August 26, 2010.  It was a fantastic event, for multiple reasons, first off I got to meet a ton of folks who I interact with on twitter and facebook.  I was super excited to meet Ben Simons and Ed Thralls of vinotology.com and winetonight.com respectively.  Two great guys who inspired me to kick my blogging up a notch and who just happened to be in my neck of the woods!  Oh, and to top it off, my birthday was the very next day.  Enough of the intro, let’s get down to business, here it is:

2002, Deerfield Ranch Winery, Super T Rex, California North Coast

2002 Deerfield Ranch, Super T Rex
2002 Super T Rex

The Nose (without soiree): A little hot off the bat, but followed quickly by a sugar-plum cherry, Tuscan flavored pipe tobacco humidor with saddle leather and sage brush.

The Nose (with Soiree): More of the same but the heat is not predominant and other notes are slightly subdued.

The Nose (with Soiree): I roped the wife in for one!  “Baked plum pie, sweet caramelized wood, yeasty, hints of tire rubber, specifically ‘bicycle tire’.”

The Taste: Spicy plum fruits backed by cedar wood overtones, creamy vanilla finish.

The Mouth Feel: Mild acidity and medium tannic structure, lingering a tad but fleeting.  Finish has nice viscosity and leaves dry.

The Color: Brickhouse Red, the wine is clearly concentrating, thin clear edges.

The Nitty Gritty:
Varietal Makeup – 43% Sangiovese, Sonoma; 28% Sangiovese, Lake County; 15% Cabernet Franc, Lake County; 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake County; 4% Dolcetto, Sonoma
Residual sugar: 0.0%
Barrel aged for 32 months in 80% French an d
20% American oak, 35% new
SO2 (sulfite) at bottling: 18ppm, SO2 at release: less than 8ppm1500 Cases Produced
ABV – 14%
$27 Retail/Online

The Verdict: As this wine opens up, it grows closer to my heart.  It is moving closer to resembling what I consider a true Tuscan wine.  It has many of the desirable characteristics that remind me of my trip to Italy and more specifically, the Tuscan countryside!  I’m still a big fan of this wine, it’s a bit spendy but there aren’t many super Tuscans available from Sonoma County and Deerfield does a good job with this wine.  They have a new Tuscan blend that’s available, but I didn’t buy one while I was at the meet-up and I don’t specifically remember any of my thoughts on the wine (but I’m sure I’ll have it in the future).  It was a great time, so many of the Sonoma county Social Media crew were out socializing face-to-face, so I was more into having a great time with great people.  It was awesome to finally meet both Ben and Ed in person, Cheers to both of you!  If you get a chance, you should stop by the Deerfield Ranch Winery, their cellar was beautiful and their staff were gracious and accommodating.  Oh, and if you’re lucky, they may have a few bottles of this wine left.

On the Soiree:  I’m still a bit of a skeptic of the “instant decanter” but this device does seem to be helping this wine open up and live up to the name “Super.”  I had “the wife” take a video of me showing how to use the Soiree to open up the wine, so check this video clip out on how to get the most aeration out of your Soiree decanter.

* Some Nitty Gritty Details provided by Deerfield Ranch Winery Website

Have you had wine in China?

Dateline: Nanjing, China

In a “5 Star” Hotel, in the capital city of Jiangsu Province, the Sheraton Nanjing Kingsley Hotel & Towers, one might expect to be able to find a drinkable wine, however, you would be mistaken.

Sheraton Nanjing Kingsley Hotel & Towers
Sheraton Nanjing Kingsley Hotel & Towers

I had the fortune of having my first visit to the country of China a few weeks back.  I have heard much about China becoming one of the largest markets for fine wine, and thus, was unconcerned that I would be able to find something to drink for the #Cabernet day being put on by Rick Bakas on September 2nd.  I had even seen a review of one of the other Sheraton hotels on the “SPG” channel where the host had a chat with the hotel sommelier and they discuss how outstanding the wine selection is and enjoy a glass over some conversation and gourmet snacks.  So when the evening of September 2nd rolled around, I happily boarded the elevator, bound for the forty-first floor (where the cigar and wine bar are located) and marched in.  I found myself a spot at the bar (which was completely empty BTW) and asked for the wine list.

Now, a side note.  The girl working the bar this particular evening had waited on me on previous evenings at the hotel’s Irish Pub, and she was always exceptionally helpful and courteous.  There was clearly a language barrier but she was always willing to try her hardest to serve the customer properly.  Her English name is Cassy.  Now back to the story.

I looked over their wine list; which for being touted as an extensive list was seriously lacking, but anyhow… I chose a Chilean Cabernet, which I know to be one of the best value Cabernets in the marketplace.  After all, I didn’t really want to blow my expense reports out of the water by picking a super expensive wine.  No luck!  The bartendress said it was out of stock…  Okay, back to the list for a second choice.  Since that Cab wasn’t available, I thought I’d keep it in the Bordeaux varietal club.  There was an Argentinian Malbec on the list and I’d had some good Malbec on my flight over from the states, so I thought I’d settle for this.  I happily ordered up a bottle of that, again, I was dashed.  This too was out of stock.  Slightly more dejected this time I buried my nose back into the wine list.  By this time I had eliminated most of the less expensive options and was down to some seriously expensive French Cabs and a few Californian Cabs.  Now, I don’t know about you but I thought that it would be ridiculous for a guy, from Sonoma County, to travel Six Thousand miles (A 12 Hour Flight) and order a Cabernet from less than 20 miles from his home.  But, it was either that, or order some seriously expensive (even for Chinese standards) French stuff, so, I did it.  I found a Sonoma County Cab that was on the list and ordered away.  The Barkeep checked her list and confirmed, it was available…  or so she thought.  She pulled down bottle after bottle from her wine rack, she showed me the ones she couldn’t read and asked if that was okay, none were what I had asked for.  She finally came back with one, a Napa Cabernet.  2001 Beringer, Knight’s Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.  Now, here’s the funny part.  The wine list showed only a 2005, but I figured if she was willing to give me the 2001 for the same price, it was either that or forget #Cabernet Day, so I bit.

Table Tent featuring some interesting wine reviews
Table Tent featuring some interesting wine reviews

Cassy opened my wine and poured me a glass.  As usual I gave it a whirl and a sniff… eh, cough.  Well, it smelled a bit off but, again, it was #Cabernet day so it was my duty to drink some damn Cab on this day or die trying.  I muscled through about 1/2 of the glass before I couldn’t drink any more.

Now I’ve heard from my friend, Dominic Foppoli of Foppoli Wines, that the Chinese wine palate is very “young” and “undiscerning,” that they usually mix their wine with cola or 7-up, even really expensive Bordeauxs.  That drinking expensive wine is just a status symbol and that they don’t actually enjoy wine for its intrinsic characteristics, yet…  So this wine was spoiled.  It was terrible at best, and disgusting at face value.  I imagine that it had sat on some customs dock, in the sun, cooking in its own bottle.  Disappointed, I gave up on having a good #Cabernet day.  But, somehow, a little part of me was glad for the experience.

Now, here’s where the rubber should meet the road.  An open comment to the management of the Sheraton Kingsley, Nanjing, China.  Your wine selection seems decent, however, your staff are untrained on wine and if wine is spoiled, you should not charge your customers for it!  You should not advertise on your “Starwood Preferred Network” that your Chinese based hotels offer an excellent wine experience.  They do not.  I’m disappointed with your wine list not being up to date with what you actually have in stock and perturbed that you boast about your wine offerings.

I know that at some point, trade with China will become simpler.  That fragile agricultural products will not have to rot on some customs dock, while someone waiting to be bribed sits on product bound for eager consumers, and that the palate of the new generation of Chinese young urban professionals will grow to appreciate wine for its multifaceted character.  Until then I will stick to Chinese Budweiser…  Sad, I know.

The King of Beer
The King of Beer

2004 Smith-Madrone, Napa Valley – Spring Mountain District, Cabernet Sauvignon

After my terrible September 2nd experience in China, my hopeless and fruitless search for a #Cabernet worth drinking, I was exceptionally exited to be home, knowing that I had many options for good red wine drinking.  I recently received a sample set from a winery in St. Helena including a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay.  Now, I have had  a recent change of opinion on Napa Valley Cab and was super stoked to be provided a cab for sample, needless to say one of the better samples I’ve yet to receive in my wine blogging experiment.  I hope (yet am open to admit) this cab can only be better than the screwed up wine I had in China.

Let us begin:

2004 Smith-Madrone, Napa Valley – Spring Mountain District, Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Smith-Madrone, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvigon
2004 Smith-Madrone, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvigon

The Nose: Cassis and Black Licorice are all over this nose!  Cedar and spice are hanging around and making themselves known.

The Taste: The taste is not disappointing.  Everything represented in the nose is represented with some extras.  Black Cherry and more spice are present; mostly black pepper.

The Mouth Feel: Velvety kick off (it is football season now) with big chewy tannins kicking in mid-palate and following through all the way down to the finish.

The Color: Inky and deep dark ruby-garnet, looks very youthful for a 20o4!

The Nitty Gritty:
Varietal Content: Cabernet Sauvignon 82%,
Merlot 8% & Cabernet franc 11%
Time in oak: 22 months in new American
oak barrels
Alcohol: 13.9% Unfined and unfiltered
$45 per 750Ml Bottle, discounts for multi-bottle purchase on Smith-Madrone website http://www.smithmadrone.com/order.htm
90.7 Avg. Score on Cellar Tracker

The Verdict: This is exactly the wine I needed on September 2nd for #Cabernet day.  Alas, it was here in California and I was 6000 Miles away in China.  I have to say though, this Cabernet Sauvigon really reminds me more of a Sonoma County Cab, rather than a Napa wine.  This has great “old world style” not that big Napa fruit bomb, it has great structure and complexity.

This wine was good with my filet mignon but I would say is better on its own, with nothing but glass to pair with!  Go find this wine and get some, its a value at the price point (for a Napa Cab).

2004 Smith-Madrone, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvigon
2004 Smith-Madrone, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvigon

In Vino Veritas:  This wine was provided as a sample

Nitty Gritty details obtained from”http://www.smithmadrone.com/downloads/combo_winesheet/cab04_final2.pdf