Friday, October 5, 2018

Cline Vineyards, Cashmere Red Blend 2016

See here’s the thing I try to impart on anyone who will listen- wine doesn’t have to be “technically good” to be a favorite.  Wine critics wax on about high acidity and gentle tannins, the aging ability, depth of flavor…and all of those are wonderful things.  And wines that have excel in those categories can be amazing wine- but see wine isn’t just marking check boxes.  Wine is experiences, it's memories, it’s passion, it’s love.  More often than not someone’s favorite wine isn’t something that was graded high by some wine critic- its something that transports them to memory.  

I bought Cline Vineyard’s Cashmere blend while I was on a business trip to San Francisco probably about 8 years ago.  Long before I had studied anything about wine.  I had a meeting with our Asia teams later that evening and so I declined to go out with coworkers when our day wrapped up.  Instead I made my way to Fisherman’s wharf and bought dinner and a bottle of wine to bring back to the hotel.  This bottle of wine.  It was more expensive than what I normally drank, but I decided I deserved to splurge.  

I remember sitting in my room later that night relishing every sip of a wine that was so luxurious to me.  A blend of Mouvedre, Grenache, and Syrah- it was full of notes of chocolate and red fruits- I remember thinking that it felt like I was sipping the most wonderful cherry dipped in chocolate concoction I’d ever had.  There were little notes of spice to keep it savory.  It was perfect in my book.  

I spent years trying to find it after I returned to Boston.  I even emailed the vineyard for assistance.  They relayed the horrible news that their Cashmere wine was still unable to be shipped to Boston -something with labelling laws, but they were working on it.  Cut to tonight- when I found this bottle in my (very) local wine store.  

Simple label, limited colors- I felt excited about my purchase.  When I returned home I wondered- what are Cline’s practices when it comes to their wine? Are they cutting corners and finding shortcuts to getting the juice in the bottle or are they taking pride in their work.  I gotta say- Im not sure I’ve ever been so impressed with a companies website.  Every step of their winemaking process is outlined - from the sheep and goats they use to remove weeds harmful to the vines, to their commitment to keeping their wines clean throughout the fermentation process.  

The resulting wine, 2016 vintage: ruby red, but starting to lean towards garnet.  The nose is bright with red fruits- cherries and raspberries, but plums as well.  Spicy black pepper, hints of chocolate, a bit of eucalyptus, and a background of cola.  Dry, not bone dry, but definitely dry on the palette, high- acidity, as I’d anticipate from Sonoma.  Light body, and light tannins.  The flavors- strawberry was the first, then raspberries and cherries.  The black pepper stayed behind, and no trace of the eucalyptus on the tongue.  Cola for sure, and just hints of chocolate.  Despite the color of the wine hinting at aging, the wine itself presents with youth, and the ability to age.  

No matter what- remember that wine is more than just the description above.  Wine is the experience and the memory.  Now if you’ll excuse me- I’m going to go enjoy my wine and remember when I was a fresh faced 20 something, drinking wine in hotel rooms after meetings with Asia ;-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Drop that PSL!

I know - it's alllllllllmost Fall and we know that Pumpkin Spice Latte is sooooo tempting to welcome the season with but what if I told you to keep sipping that Rose wine instead??

Over the past couple of years marketing geniuses have blasted the market with Spring/Summer Rose wine ads basically equating your outdoor festivities with the pink drink.  Rose (which has been around since ancient times -some even think it predates red wine we know today) is the perfect drink right on through the fall.  Here's the skinny- rose wines are really just a lighter version of red wine.  Same grapes- less time on the skins.  Here's why that's important:  red wines have these beautiful deep flavors- red and black fruits, mocha and chocolate, and other savory components, paired with tannins, and often bigger body, they are typically perfect for winter.  However- a great bottle of rose can contain those great big beautiful flavors and even some weighty body that will pair with those heavier meals and chillier nights that fall welcomes.

So don't rush to put away those pink sippers, keep them around for another month or two and relish in those that have deeper pink tones and definitely those from warmer climates to truly get those fall feels.

And fine- have a pumpkin spice latte in the morning if you must

Monday, June 18, 2018

Gosset Champagne- What Wine Should Be

I recently had the opportunity to sit across the table from, and share a meal with Bertrand Verduzier, the International Business Director for Gosset Champagne.  The food was incredible, but the Champagnes they served were exquisite.  What truly got me that evening was the way Verduzier spoke about wine.

I've had incredible opportunities to speak with wine professionals- makers, somms, vineyard owners.  I've had the chance to learn about what inspires them, to hear how they've perfected their craft, to understand their joys and challenges.  Never before however has one embodied so closely everything I know and feel about wine.  

If you've ever sat down over glass of wine with me- either at a restaurant, or in a friends home, or on one of my City Wine Tours, you've heard me, sometimes ridiculously, talk about the story that wine tells.  It is truly the case however- just like any party guest- that your wine should regale you with tidbits from its life thus far.  It should wax on about the early days when the fruit was simply a dream to the bud, to when the yeast met the juice, to when you finally pull the cork. Every stage of its life influences its taste and attributes.  

Every wine you meet should tell you its life story.

Verduzier, speaking for Gosset Champagne, is of the same mindset.  Champagne, generally, is a funny wine- its often a blend of different vineyards for each house, and for that matter its a blend of years.  Where still wines showcase the year in which the grapes were grown, sparkling typically blends together several different years to provide a consistent product. Consistent- but lacking in story.  Consistent wines, showing the same flavors year after year, are lacking in personality.  Gosset knows this.  They limit the blending of years so that the majority of their wine is all from a single year.  That means that it weathered the same storms, sought shelter from hot days together, and ripened into perfect worthy fruit together.  

When you pop open a bottle of Gosset, you've popped open one of your most interesting party guests.  The tales of growing in same vineyards as their forefathers when Gosset began in 1584.  They speak to the time honored traditions passed down as the house transferred from making all still wines to adding bubbles.  Their fruit forward presence testifies to their growers commitment to not use malolactic fermentation.   Their flavors aren't manipulated but instead showcase the great and tough weather of its year along with the talent of their winemaker.    

Gosset Champagne is a true testament to what Champagne, and really all wines should be.  The fruit is the star and whatever it has to say- we're listening! 

Cline Vineyards, Cashmere Red Blend 2016

See here’s the thing I try to impart on anyone who will listen- wine doesn’t have to be “technically good” to be a favorite.  Wine critics ...