Monthly Archives: April 2011

Pio Cesare’s Piemonte with Pio Boffa at Eataly

Pio Boffa

 On my first visit to Piemonte in 1982, I stayed at Il Giardino di Felicin in Monforte d’Alba.  The owner, Giorgio Rocca, a very charming host and great chef, offered to help us make arrangements to visit some of the local producers.  I mentioned Pio Cesare and he quickly made an appointment for the next morning.  At the winery in Alba, we were met by Pio Boffa, the owner of Pio Cesare.  His English is excellent, and we had a wonderful visit and tasting.  Ever since then, whenever I am in that area, I try to visit the winery and always receive a warm welcome.  

 Recently Pio was in New York to teach a class at Eataly and I went to see him.

During the class Pio talked about the history of his winery and how he was the only one in the family who followed his father into the wine business which he joined in 1973. Tradition is very important to Pio and he said that he tries to make wine in the same way as they did in the past. The winery is in the same location as it has always been, right in the center of Alba.  Pio said that he was very proud of the fact that his father, Giuseppe Boffa, told Pio his wine was the same as he himself had made 50 years ago. Pio hopes that in the next few years his daughter will follow in his footsteps.  Ten years ago, Pio’s nephew joined the winery.  

 The Pio Cesare winery produces 40,000 cases of wine a year, which according to Pio makes them a middle size producer. In the 1960’s and 1970’s there were only a few producers in the area but now there are many more. Since then, the more traditional and conservative producers have had to fight to keep their share of the market. The “new” producers used different wine making techniques and started to make single vineyard (cru) wines.  Concessions have to be made but not at the cost of tradition. That is why Pio Cesare maintains the same bottle, same label, and same style of wine as in the past.

The Wines

 Cortese di Gavi 2009 100% Cortese- the vines are on hillside vineyards in very select locations in the Gavi area. Theses vineyards belong to growers that have been producing grapes for Pio Cesare for generations and who have worked their vineyards according to Pio’s strict quality controls. Slow fermentation takes place at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks on the lees for four months. The wine is kept in stainless steel tanks until March after the harvest when it is bottled. Pio Boffa said that malolatic fermentation depended on the vintage and for this wine 1/3 underwent malolatic. He went on to say that 2/3 of all Gavi were produced in the flat valley area. His grapes are grown on the hillside where the soil is drier and there is a southern exposure. Here the yields are lower and the grapes ripen later. Because of this the wine is more complex, will age better, have more fruit and a mineral character with good acidity. He added as an aside that the Cortese grape was difficult to grow because it is very acidic. However by growing the grapes on the hillside and leaving it on the lees one can produce a very good wine. This is a fresh, fruity, aromatic white wine with some complexity. $27

 Chardonnay “Piodilei” 2008 100% Chardonnay.  This is a single vineyard, barrel fermented Chardonnay, from the very first Chardonnay vineyard they planted in 1980, at the “Il Bricco Estate” in Treiso, in the Barbera area.   Pio pointed out that this is not a “traditional” wine. The yields are kept low and the grapes are picked when they are fully ripened, late harvest. Fermentation occurs on the lees in new French oak barrels. The wine in aged on the lees in French oak barrels for 10 months, and for six months in the bottle before release. 1/3 of the wine underwent malolatic. The wine has ripe fruit flavors a touch of spice, and a long finish. $32

  Pio said that white grapes grown in the right terroir and that are allowed to remain on the less produce a wine that is more like a red wine.

 Barbera D’Alba “Fides” 2007 100% Barbera.    Pio has a strong feeling for Barbera and called it the wine of the people of Piemonte The grapes for this wine come from a single vineyard in their “Colombaro” vineyard in Serralunga d’Alba. This is a prime area for growing Nebbiolo. The wine is called Fides, Latin for trust and faith.  Pio said that this was a true act of trust and faith on the part of him and his father. In fact they both came up with the idea at the same time. He pointed out that if it was planted with Nebbiolo the land would be worth four times as much. Other producers give Nebbiolo the highest position and the most southern exposure while leaving Barbera at a less elevated position. Pio said the all his Barbera grapes have the same position as his Nebbiolo. They used a very old clone of Barbera that is not used any more.

Fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks and skin contact lasts for ten days. Right after being drawn off, the wine rests for 20 months in medium toasted French oak casks: 80% in barriques and 20% in 20hl casks.  This is a wine with fresh ripe fruit aromas and flavors, with a hint of spice and good acidity. $44 The wine can age and it was a great combination with the agnolotti del plin, “pinched” ravioli that are typical of Piemonte, that we tasted. 

 It was unfortunate that one important producer, that Pio would not name, decided not to produce any Barolo or Barbaresco in 2006. This led many to assume that it was not a very good vintage. Pio said that in his opinion the 2006 vintage was very good for both Barolo and Barbaresco and it was a very traditional vintage for Nebbiolo.  Now that the wines have been released it is evident that it was a very good traditional vintage.

 Pio said that he has tasted Nebbiolo grown in other parts of the world and it did not taste like Nebbiolo.  In other parts of Italy they make wine from Nebbiolo but the style is different. None of these can compare with Nebbiolo when it is made into Barbaresco and Barolo- -there is just something about the terroir. Pio added that for him Barolo was the King of wine and Barbaresco was the Queen.

 Barbaresco 2006 The grapes come from Pio’s family owned vineyards, Il Bricco Estate, and the great hill of San Stefanetto, both located in the village of Treiso.  Vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks and skin contact lasts for about 20 days. 35% of the wine is aged in French oak barrels,1/3 new, for 30 months and the remaining 65% spends three years in French oak casks, 20 to 50 hl each. This is a traditional classic Barbaresco and has long aging potential. $62

 Barolo 2006 100% Nebbiolo The grapes for this wine come from his family owned vineyards in Serralunga d’Alba (Ornato), Grinzane Cavour (Gustava), La Mora (Roncaglie) and Barolo-Novello (Ravara). The balance of the grapes comes from other exclusive vineyards owned by growers who have provided grapes to his family for generations. This he said was his traditional Barolo-his “regular old classic style.”  Blending grapes from different vineyards was the traditional way to make Barolo. Grapes from different locations give different characteristics to the wine — color from one, complexity from another, concentration and longevity from other sites, but all are the essence of the terroir. This is a traditional classic Barolo and will age very well for a number of years  $67

 Barolo 2006 “Oronato” 100%.   Nebbiolo this is a single vineyard Barolo from very ripe grapes of three different plots of the family owned Ornato Estate in Serralunga d’Alba.

Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with skin contact for 15 days. The wine is aged in medium toasted French oak barrels, for 36 months, 70% in new barriques and 30% in 25 hectoliter casks. This is a big, concentrated Barolo that is produced in small quantities (7,000 bottles) and only in the best vintages. Pio said that this was a wine that was meant to age and only after a number of years will it show its true characteristics. $110


Filed under Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Gavi, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Piemonte

In Old California-California Centenary Wineries with Peter Mondavi, Jr., of Charles Krug Winery

Over the years the Wine Media Guild has organized many great tastings but our April event was truly historic. Wines from seven California wineries that were established over 100 years ago presented some of their oldest wines.  Deborah Park Wong, a Wine Media Guild member who lives in San Francisco, was the member sponsor and was able to persuade the wineries to send samples going back to1935 and from the legendary 1974 vintage among others. Unfortunately, Deborah could not attend the tasting as she was out of the country.

Schramsberg Vineyards 1882

Sparkling-1981 Blanc de Blanc, 1992 J. Schram Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and the 2004 J. Schram Chardonnay and Pinot Noir which sells for  $100 – All were showing very well.

Wente Vineyards 1863

 2002, 2004 and 2008 Nth Chardonnay -Classic California Chardonnay

The 2008 sells for $30

Buena Vista – 1857

1981 Sonoma Valley Carneros Pinot Noir – a great old wine with hints of leather, coffee and tea. However it did not have any Pinot Noir characteristics and blind I would have said that it was a great old Cab.

1990 Carneros Grand Riserve Pinot – this wine was just like the 1981 with a little less character.

2007 Carneros Ramal Vineyards Pinot Noir The Ramal Vineyard site has more than a dozen clones of Pinot Noir. The grapes were hand harvested from September 20-27. They were hand sorted and destemmed. Each lot was cold soaked for five days to maximize color and flavor extraction. Fermentation was in five ton open fermenters, punched down five times a day to broaden the texture and complexity of the wine.

The juice was in contact with the skins for 14 days.  Aged in Francois Freres, Dempotos and Remond French oak – 40% new, 50% one year and the rest 2-4years old for nine months. The wine had flavors and aromas of red fruit with hints of cherry and raspberry but with a sweet vanilla finish and aftertaste which I did not find pleasing.  $42

Charles Krug -1861

 Peter Mondavi Family flagship wines- Since 1944 this vintage selection Cabernet Sauvignon has been made only in the best vintages.

 1966 Vintage Selection Cabernet Sauvignon 100% Cabernet Sauvignon – there was heavy rainfall in the summer with mild temperatures. During the harvest heavy fog blanketed the Napa Valley and did not burn off until early afternoon. This resulted in cooler temperatures and the late picking of Cabernet into early November. Then record high temperatures followed at the end of the month by heavy rains. The wine was aged for 29 months in French oak 92% and American Oak 8%. The wine was bottled in September 1971. There are two things to note here: the grapes were picked in early November and the alcohol content is only 12%.

1974 Lot F1 100% Cabernet Sauvignon- Lot F1 is from the Fay Vineyards in the Stags Leap wine district. The 1973/1974 winter was mild and the early spring and summer were both cool. The fall was long, warm and dry. Grape quality was excellent and harvest was completed before the rains came, the wine was aged in barrel for 15 months. Alcohol 12%

2008   91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot.   In 2008 because of weather conditions there were reduced yields and a lighter than average vintage despite a crazy weather year; the grapes were smaller but more concentrated producing wine that was well-structured, elegant and full of flavor. The wine was aged for 22 months in 100% new French oak and the alcohol content is 15%.  $60

Beaulieu Vineyards -1900

1979 George Latour Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon This wine was a surprise. it had the most fruit of any of the older wines at the tasting and seemed like a much younger wine. For some reason I picked up a lot of oak and vanilla that made the wine disappointing to me.

1995 It was aged in all new oak and had the taste of vanilla and oak in the finish and aftertaste.

1990 This wine was brought to the tasting by one of our members and I liked it the best of the BV wines. I did not pick up the oaky flavors and found it very balanced. There was some discussion at our table which was the better vintage 1979 or 1990. I believe that the consensus was 1990.

2007   This was a big concentrated wine with a lot of up front sweet fruit, blueberry, cassis and a hint of spice.   $90

Simi -1867

 1935 “Montepulciano” Cabernet Sauvignon I sat next to Megan Schofeld, associate winemaker at Simi so I was able to ask a lot of questions about the winery. Megan said that she did not know why the word Montepulciano was on the label. There was only one bottle of the 1935 and there were 36 people so we all just had a little taste. The wine was alive, showing signs of age but still very drinkable. The wine is 76 years old and may be the oldest wine in terms of years that I have tasted that was in such good condition. Magen said that this was the first release after Prohibition.

 1974 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley– 1974 was a legendary vintage is California. I purchased this wine in the late 1980’s and I found it then and now to be a classic California Cabernet with hints of cassis,  dark fruit with the underlying aroma and flavor of bell peppers and eucalyptus. It was my favorite wine at the tasting.

1984 and 1994 both of these wines are classic California Cabernet with the same flavors and aromas as the 1974.

2004   Megan said that Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley poses the greatest diversity of soil types of any wine making region in California. There are numerous soil types and microclimate here allowing them to select from a diverse range of vineyards for their wines. Every vineyard block is kept separate throughout the wine making process and the best vineyard lots are selected for the final blend. They are blended in a small amount of classic Bordeaux varieties.

The wine is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2.5% Cabernet Franc and 2.5% Petit Verdot. It is aged for 25 months in 90% new French oak and the alcohol is 14.5% This wine had black fruit , hints of cassis, plum and black cherry.   $60

1935 Tokay– Dessert wine Megan said that she did not know what grapes were in the wine and why Tokay was written on the label. The wine was still alive and one would not think that it was 76 years old.

Gundlach Bundschu 1858

 1982 Rhinefarm Vineyards Vintage Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon This was also showing very well with flavors and aromas of dark fruit and hints of prune.

1997 This was one of the best vintages of the decade for red wine in the Sonoma Valley. It was very fruit forward for a wine 14 years old.

2008 Gundlach Vintage Reserve– Red Blend $40- this wine was a little too modern for my taste. Their more modern wine is made from 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Petit Verdot, 14% Cabernet Franc and 10% Malbec. It is aged in 100% French oak for 18 months, 50% ofwhich is new. The barrels are medium tight grain, and medium to medium plus toast.  The primary cooper is Vicard.

The speaker was Peter Mondavi of the Charles Krug winery. Peter spoke about the history of wine in California, his own winery and the difference between the older California wines and the new ones. It was noted by many of our members that the older wines were 12% in alcohol while the new ones were closer to 15%.  Global Warming was mentioned but Peter prefers “Global Climate Change”. He feels that global climate change is not universal and it is only a secondary cause for the higher alcohol content. He pointed to the vines that are now being used. These vines are healthier than vines used in the past and are for the most part disease resistant. The flavor profile for the grapes has not changed but these “healthy” vines produce grapes with more sugar.  The result is a higher alcohol content. The vines also produce more leaves. He also feels that today’s consumer (along with some wine writers) want a wine with riper dark rich fruit flavors and the bell pepper, herbs, eucalyptus flavors are not what they are looking for in their wine. At best he said some may like these aromas and flavors but only as subtle components in the background. The two wines I liked the best in the tasting the Charles Krug 1966 and the Simi 1974 were all leather and bell pepper with a hint of eucalyptus. He also felt that the consumer does not want to age their wine but wants to drink them now. Peter said that we would never see wines of 12% alcohol from California again. He added that he did not believe the recent wines would age as well or as long as the older wines.

Chris Phelps, winemaker at Swanson and a guest of member Ed McCarthy agreed with Mr. Mondavi.  Mr. Phelps remarked that the weather patterns have been strange in California over the last few years  He said that today’s consumer would not like the low alcohol and subtle aromas and flavors of the older wines. He also agreed with Mr. Mondavi that the wines made today would probably not last as long as the older wines we tasted.

Most, if not all of the Wine Media Guild members preferred the older wines, with less alcohol and more subtle flavors and aromas.


Filed under California wine

An Evening with Domaine Joseph Drouhin at Bar Boulud


Our friend Tony Di Dio of Tony Di Dio Selections occasionally hosts wine dinners at some of the city’s best restaurants.  One in particular caught Michele’s eye:  an evening with Laurent Drouhin of France’s Drouhin Winery at Bar Boulud for an all inclusive price of $129.  Since Michele is a big fan of both Burgundy wine and French food, we decided to go. 

 At the restaurant, we were directed to the private dining room next to the wine cellar.

We sat with Laurent Drouhin so I was able to ask him many questions. His English is perfect as he has lived in Westchester for a number of years.

Laurent Drouhin

 Laurent spoke about the terroir, how important it is to them and how all of his family’s wines are terroir driven. He said that every effort is made to respect the terroir in all its diversity and that they are able to express the exact character of each terroir by using an organic and biodynamic approach. The soil is very important and they respect and ensure the quality by plowing by horse, allowing grass to grow between the vines and using natural compost and natural predators.  The root stock is grown in their own nursery in order to preserve the genetic heritage and control the quality.

 He was very proud of the fact that they basically make wine as his great-grandfather did, using as little interference in the natural processes as possible and making sure that technical knowhow is always at the service of authenticity.

 Laurent said that because 2009 was a great year, many people that visit the winery or want to taste the wines are only interested in the 2009. He said that 2008 was a very good vintage and that people should give it a chance.

The Wines

 Chablis 2009 Domaine de Vaudon 100% Chardonnay  The vineyards are located in the northern- most region of Burgundy in a dramatic circle of hills where vines have been planted for hundreds of years. The soil is Kimmerdgian limestone and contains millions of tiny marine fossils embedded in a kind of whitish mortar which may have been the bottom of a sea. This marine origin is the reason for the unique character of the wines of Chablis.

There are 6,250 vines/ht and double Guyot called the“Vallee la Marme” (long canes on a short permanent trunk) for its resistance to frost. The grapes and must are purchased from regular suppliers with long term contracts, as is all the purchased wine and must. Very slow pressing takes place to protect the fruit and the wine is placed in aging vats for 7/8 months. It has a floral style, with a mineral character and hints of citrus.  Laurent said that starting with the 2008 vintage the name Vaudon will be associated with all of their Chablis wines as a sign of their allegiance to the historic terroir. $21

 Puligny Montrachet 2008 100% Chardonnay The vineyard is located in the middle part of the Cote de Beaune and there are 10,000 vines/ht. The system is Guyot and the yield is 51hl/ha less than the law allows. Very slow pressing to respect the fruit and no yeast or enzymes are added. The wine goes directly into barrels after the “debourbage” and the wine is decanted to reduce the sediment. It is aged in French oak barrels of which 25% are new for 12 months. It is a soft, smooth, elegant wine with hints of white peach and honey and a nice finish and after taste. $54

 Beaune 1er Cru – Clos des Mouches Blanc 2008 100% Chardonnay The vineyard is at Southern end of the Beaune appellation next to Pommard. It is at the middle slope, on a mild incline with an east/southeast exposure. It is 35 acres (14 hectares) making it the largest parcel in the Clos des Mouches. Laurent said that it is rocky soil of clay and limestone in the upper part of the vineyard. In the center there is limestone and marl. He went on to say that this light composition is responsible for the finesse of the wine. He said that there is 10,000/12500 plants/ha in order to extract all the possible nuances from the terroir and limit the production of each vine. In was very proud of the fact that they keep their yields low- 20% less than allowed by law. Harvesting is by hand and the grapes are sorted twice, when being picked and again on the sorting table at the winery.

In 2008 malolatic fermentation began later than usual and lasted several months. He felt that the aging on the lees allowed the wine to gain complexity, remain fresh and reduced the acidity level.  The wine is aged in “French forest oak” barriques for 12/16 months, 25% are new oak.

They insist that the weathering of the wood take place for three years. Laurent said that this was one of the controlling elements in the elegance of the wine.

I really liked this wine. It was well balanced, complex with a rich texture. There were floral aromas, hints of honey, fruit and almonds with a mineral, earthy feel running through the middle palate. $102.000                                                                      

 Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru-Serpentieres 2006 100% Pinot Noir Savigny is a village in a small valley north of Beaune. Les Serpentieres is a vineyard that faces due south.   The soil is marl and limestone from the Bathonian age; it is a light soil with reddish coloration, strewn with sharp stones. 10,000 plants/ha and the system is Guyot. The grapes and the wine are provided by regular supply partners with long term contract.                        Maceration and vinification is 2/3 weeks temperature controlled with the use of indigenous yeast. Punching down of the cap (pigeage) is done once a day until one half of the fermentation is complete, then pumping over (remontage) once a day until the fermentation is complete.  Pressing takes place in a vertical press and there is the separation of the free run juice from the pressed juice. The wine is aged in French oak of which 10% is new for 12/15 months. There is a velvety texture to the wine, very delicate with good fruit flavors and hints of spice and pepper. $41 

Beaune 1er Cru-Clos des Mouches Rouge 2008 100% Pinot Noir $91 the average age of the vines is 39 years. The vineyard is 6.75 hectares and the system is Guyot. The wine is aged in French oak mostly Troncay for 14/18 months. 20% of the oak is new. $91

 Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 2008 100% Pinot Noir which is at the heart of the famous Chambolle- Musigny vineyard with an eastern exposure. Average age of the wines is 32 years. The limestone sub soil is of Jurassic age origin and Laurent said it was ideally suited for Pinot Noir. The vineyard is 1.3 ha. It is aged in French oak of which 20% is new for 14/18 months. The wine made one think of little red berries with hints of black cherry and an earthy quality with a long finish and nice aftertaste. $87

 Nuits-Saint –Georges 2005 100% Pinot Noir $61 Laurent pointed out that 2005 was an excellent year. The appellation is colongated, with two different sections the north and the south separated by a little stream that crosses the town. The hillside is quite steep and the vineyards have an eastern exposure. The soil has outcroppings of hard chalk in many places; Laurent said that the northern part of the Nuits, close to Vosne produces wines of great finesse, the southern part, with its rockier soil gives powerful and long lasting wines. There are 10,000 vines per hectar, the Guyot system and the yield of 45hl/ha. The grapes and must were supplied by their regular sources.

Maceration and vinification is for 2/3 weeks and the wine is aged in French oak which 20% is new for 14/18 months. There was good balance between acidity, alcohol and the tannins. It is this balance Laurent pointed out which gives the wine its elegance. There were hints of cherry and blackberry. The wine was very well structured yet with a certain softness and elegance.

 As a wise man once said there is Pinot Noir and then there is Burgundy!

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Filed under Burgundy, Drouhin, French Wine

Georgetta Dune and the Big House Wine Company

 Georgetta Dune and her husband Corneliu are from Romania.  He is a winemaker and Georgetta has a masters’ degree in food science.  Together they started their own wine making business.  One night, at a dinner party with a group of friends, they applied on a whim for the U.S. green card lottery. The odds were 30,000 to one on winning.  Luck was with them and on the day they were baptizing their daughter the news came that they had won.  The only person they knew in America was in Monterey California so that is where they went. Luck was still with them as Kendall Jackson was building a new winery.  Corneliu got a job as a cellar rat and Georgetta as a lab technician. Within a year Corneliu became the enologist. In 2006 Georgetta became the wine maker or as she likes to say the “warden” of the Big House wine company.

 Big House is located near the Soledad prison and the company was started by Randall  Grahm.  I guess he could not resist naming the winery Big House.

Georgetta and Her Wine at SD 26

 Georgetta said that when she came to Big House they were crushing 42 different varieties of grapes and she brought order by making the 42 varieties into individual lots. She said that she thinks of herself as a winemaker as if she were a perfume maker – that is, making a base wine and adding “the essential oils” to make it work, adding the different grapes to the base wine until she gets the right blend. She pointed to the Big House white as an example. When she first tasted the wine, she believed it was over the top. It reminded her of cheap perfume and it was made from three aromatic grapes: Malvasia Bianca, Muscat and Viognier.  After trying a number of different grape varieties, she added Pinot Grigio and Gruner Veltliner for the middle note and to add some depth. The top note was Gewurztaminer for rose petals. Now she had the aroma and taste that she wanted.

 She likes to think of Big House as the original unconventional winery and said that “We try to make wines which are a departure from the styles common in California.”

 We met for dinner at SD 26 to talk and to taste her wines. I found her very interesting and knowledgeable. She was also very honest in explaining how she made her wine. Sometimes wine makers will not disclose certain methods that they use or will tell you what they think you want to hear.

 Georgetta’s Wines

 Big House White 2001  It is a blend of many different grapes: 22% Malvasia Bianca, 15.9% Gruner Veltliner, 15.7% Sauvignon Blanc, 9.2% Gewurtraminer.7.9% Riesling, 7.3% Chenin Blanc, 6% Muscato Canelli,5’2% Viogner,4.5% Verdelho,4.4% Albarino and 1.1% Pinot Grigio.  Brix at harvest 21.0-24.0, the grapes are picked at night and cold fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks and the wine does not undergo malolatic fermentation. Georgetta explained that this maximized the fresh fruit flavors and lets the wine retain a crisp acidity. The wine was aromatic, easy to drink with fresh fruit aromas and flavors and hints of white peaches and a touch of tropical fruit. I was surprised by the long finish. The wine does not remain on the lees because the grapes used would produce a bitter wine.

 Unchained “Naked” Chardonnay 2010 100% Chardonnay– the grapes are picked at night or early in the morning.  Harvested at 22.0-24.0Brix. Cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks and as Georgetta put it, the wine is free from the common secondary malolatic fermentation which is a frequent “sentence” for California Chardonnay. Gerogetta loves the term “naked” because it allows her to create a Chardonnay free from the confines of oak barrels.  It is a fresh and bright unoaked Chardonnay that is more like an aromatic white than a California Chardonnay. It is very crisp with hints of green apple and pear.

 Big House Red 2009 is a blend of 27% Petite Sirah, 14.5% Syrah, 8.6% Barbera, 6.4% nero d’Avola, 6.1% Tempranillo, 3.3% Malbec, 2.4% Aglianico, 2.4% Souzao, 2.3% Charbono, 2.2% Petite Verdot, 2.1% Cabernet Franc, 2% Tannat, 12.5% other Esoteric Reds.  Harvested at 23.0-28.0 Brix. The grapes were cold soaked for a few days and were fermented at 60-65 degrees. Part of the bled underwent malolatic fermentation. The wine was aged for a time mostly in French and American neutral oak. Georgetta said that they were barriques but were three years old or older and she does not want her wine to taste like wood. The wine was fruity with hints of cherry and spice and a touch of vanilla, perhaps a touch too much for me.

 The Usual Suspect 2009 100% Cabernet Sauvignon  90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Grenache.  Harvested at 24.0-26.0 Brix. Gerogetta said that she tried a number of different grapes to blend with the Cabernet but none seemed as good a match as the Grenache. Georgetta said that this wine was made and aged the same as the other red wines but I did not find that touch of vanilla. It was an easy drinking wine with good body and the addition of Grenache made it more aromatic. This was a perfect combination with the roast goat and potatoes that I had ordered.

 Cardinal Zin 2009 80% Zinfandel, 10% Mourvedre, 8% Carignane, 2% Petite Sirah. The grapes were harvested at 26 Brix and higher. Georgetta said that in order to bring down the alcohol level she added water to the wine which is legal in California. The tiny grapes were cold soaked and fermented in cool stainless steel tanks and then malolatic fermentation took place. It was aged the same way as the other red wines. There were hints of blackberries, spice and a lightness that is unusual in a Zinfandel. I enjoyed it with the rest or the goat.

 All the wines have screw caps and all sell for $10.  They are also available in a box and Georgetta said that it is the same wine that is in the bottle.

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Filed under Big House Wine Company, California wine, White wine