Each week, Chris and Sherry Hardie turn the spotlight on a wine that can be found in the La Crosse area.
Wine of the Week: Decoy Chardonnay 2017
An extension of the Duckhorn brand, Decoy has expanded from just one red wine to a variety of Sonoma County grapes, including this chardonnay.
This vintage went through a 24-day fermentation on the lees at cool temperatures before 90% was aged in stainless steel and 10% in French oak.
The result is a fresh, vibrant wine with flavors of orchard and citrus fruit and a bit of creamy texture.
Sherry: “Medium-bodied that is fruity and semi-dry with flavors of butter, lime and lemon.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A cantelope bouquet with flavors of pineapple and lemon with a hint of cream.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Available from $12.50 to $16.
Coming next week: Capriccio Sangria
Wine of the Week: OZV Red Blend 2016
Oak Ridge Winery is the oldest operating winery in Lodi, Calif., built in 1934. It is owned by the Maggio and Reynolds families and produces estate wines under several different labels.
The wines for this blend are sourced from 7,500 acres with a Mediterranean climate and vines like zinfandel that are more than 100 years old.
It creates a unique terroir for these red grape varieties.
A blend of zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, petite sirah and merlot, this wine features fresh berry and fruit flavors and toasted finish from nine months of oak aging.
Sherry: “Medium-bodied cherry and raspberry with rose and geranium on the finish.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “An earthy bouquet with fruit-forward flavors of cherry and raspberry with red licorice.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $12 to $15.
Coming next week: Decoy Chardonnay
Wine of the Week: Farmhouse White 2017
One of the enjoyable parts in our lifelong wine journey is when we sample new grapes. We surely didn’t expect that a Spanish sherry grape would end up in a bottle of California white.
This blend from Cline is 41% palomino, a grape variety from Andalucia in southwestern Spain. The wine also features muscat canelli, roussanne, viognier and riesling. It’s fermented in stainless steel for a crisp, fresh pour that orchard fruit and citrus influences. A delicious wine for the summer season.
Sherry: “Tart and refreshing green apple and pear flavors with a citrus lemon and lime finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of pear with flavors of pear, apricot and light lime.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $9 to $12.
Coming next week: OZV Old Vine Red Blend
Wine of the Week: Consentino Cigar Zinfandel 2017
Memorial Day weekend is often the first big cookout of the summer and if steaks are on your menu, then so should zinfandel. The spiciness and boldness of zinfandel makes it a perfect match with grilled red meats.
This Lodi, Calif., zinfandel is blended with smaller amounts of petite sirah, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. It comes in at a hefty 15.5 percent alcohol but still has plenty of ripe dark fruit flavors. It’s a masculine wine from the packaging to the pour.
Sherry: “A leather bouquet, fruity cherry flavor and dry, strong tannins with floral rose on the finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bit of cigar box bouquet with flavors of blackberry, cherry, vanilla and spice.” (3.75 stars out of 5)
Available from $13 to $16.
Coming next week: Farmhouse White
Wine of the Week: Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon
Barrels used for spirits are becoming more popular in beer and wine production. Only time will tell if it’s just a fad.
This cabernet sauvignon from the Australian Coonawarra region comes from one of South Australia’s premier wineries. Jacob’s Creek dates to 1847 when a Bavarian immigrant planted vines on William Jacob’s creek bank.
The wine is aged in traditional oak barrels and further aged in Irish whiskey barrels. The result is a complex and dry pour with lots of spice and fruit to tantalize your palate.
Sherry: “Dry red cherry with elements of rose and geranium floral flavors with a long finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of cigar box and spice with flavors of cassis and blackberry with long, dry tannins.” (3.75 stars out of 5)
Available from $14 to $16.
Coming next week: Consentino Cigar Old Vine Zinfandel
Wine of the Week: Borne of Fire The Burn 2016
This new cabernet sauvignon from Washington cabernet sauvignon is also from a new wine growing region.
The Burn is a region in south central Washington which takes its name from the region’s early settlers who burned their fields every autumn. Cabernet sauvignon vines were first planted there in 2002.
This wine from Chateau St. Michelle has a small amount (10%) malbec. It’s inky dark in color and displays flavors of dark fruit and berries. We look forward to more wines from this region.
Sherry: “Flavors of blueberry and cherry with elements of rose and clove and strong tannins on a long, lingering finish.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of leather and dust with flavors of plum, blackberry and vanilla on the finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $18 to $21.
Coming next week: Jacob’s Creek Double Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine of the Week: Dona Paula Smoked Red Blend 2017
The art of fine winemaking is not just the fermentation of the fruit but also the selection and application of oak.
This selection from the Mendoza region of Argentina uses French oak that is smoked through a process found in the traditional Argentinian barbecue. The wine is aged in the barrels for a year.
This inky-dark blend of cabernet sauvignon (60%), malbec (30%) and bonarda (10%) reveals dark fruit and berry flavors, a little spice and a whiff of smoke — just enough to make it unique.
Sherry: “A bouquet of cherry and leather with fruity cherry and currant flavors, vanilla and a hint of smokiness.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Chris: “An herbal and leather bouquet with flavors of cherry, raspberry and smoky vanilla.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $12 to $16.
Coming next week: Borne of Fire Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine of the Week: Hay Maker Sauvignon Blanc 2017
They say that you need to make hay when the sun shines, a farming adage that is certainly true. This New Zealand winery made lots of sauvignon blanc — some 34,000 cases — of this vintage sourced from the Wairau and Ure valleys in the Marlborough region.
This signature wine from New Zealand does not disappoint, with clean and crisp citrus flavors that says sunshine in your glass. Also a great value coming in under $10.
Sherry: “A citrus bouquet of lime with tart and refreshing lime and grapefruit flavor with mineral and herbal elements on the finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A nettle-like bouquet with flavors of lime, kiwi and gooseberry with a crisp finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $8 to $10.
Coming next week: Dona Paula Smoked Red Blen
Wine of the Week: Edna Valley Rosé 2016
The weather has finally turned and warmer temperatures often brings more desire for lighter wines like rosé.
This offering from Edna Valley Vineyard comes from California’s Central Coast located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. This is not a weak, washed-out pale pink pour but is a blend of hearty red grapes tempranillo, syrah, grenache and mourvedre.
Flavors of soft red fruit and with vibrant acidity with a clean and crisp finish. Would make an excellent companion to grilled chicken.
Sherry: “Subtle fruit flavors of red currant and almond.” (3 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A surprise leather bouquet with flavors of pear and rhubarb.” (3 stars out of 5)
Available for $9.50 to $12.
Coming next week: Haymaker New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Wine of the Week: Game of Thrones Pinot Noir 2016
“That’s what I do. I drink and know things.”
This quote from the wine-loving character Tyrion Lannister from “Game of Thrones” supports the theory that the more you drink, the smarter you become. If only wisdom followed.
The eighth and final season of the popular HBO series debuts this weekend.
Sourced from the Willamette Valley in northern Oregon, this wine is aged on a combination of French and American oak. The polished combination of dark fruit and smooth tannins would certainly have Tyrion reaching for another glass … or several.
Sherry: “An herbal bouquet with medium-bodied flavors of cherry, currant and blueberry. More full bodied than most pinots.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A cigar box bouquet with flavors of fruity cherry and current and lingering, dry finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $12.50 to $15.
Coming next week:
Edna Valley Rose
Wine of the Week: Banshee Mordecai Red Blend 2015
Banshee is an example of a wine company that doesn’t own a winery. Started with a idea birthed in a San Francisco bar in 2009, Banshee has formed a partnership with another winery to help produce its wines.
A clue on the label for this red blend says it was “vinted and bottled by” which means that Banshee didn’t make the wine.
That doesn’t mean it’s not good. This kitchen sink blend of cabernet sauvignon (24%), carignan (18%), syrah (17%), zinfandel (14%), grenache (12%), petit sirah (11%) and merlot (4%) is an enticing pour of dark fruit and spice.
Sherry: “Flavors of cherry and plum with an herbal finish of geranium and rose.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “An herbal and floral bouquet with flavors of raspberry, cherry and vanilla.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $16 to $19.
Coming next week: Game of Thrones Pinot Noir
Wine of the Week: Christian Brothers Ruby Port
Spring is here but the nights are still chilly and perfect for drinking port. Port is wine to which additional alcohol is added — normally the grape product brandy.
The Christian Brothers is a Catholic teaching order that started a California community in 1882 that included a vineyard. The Brothers made and sold wine to raise funds and were one of the early Napa Valley wineries in the 1930s.
The brandy and wine company was sold in 1989 but the label continues. This is a classic port that is full-bodied with rich berry flavors. Pairs nicely with chocolate desserts.
Sherry: “A sweet cherry bouquet with smooth and sweet cherry flavor.” (3 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A licorice bouquet with flavors of cherry and blackberry.” (3 stars out of 5)
Available for $7 to $10.
Coming next week: Banshee Mordecai Red Blend
Wine of the Week: Mouton Cadet White Bordeaux 2016
It’s a common mistake to associate bordeaux with fine French red wine. While it’s true the region is home to wonderful red blends, it also produces some elegant whites.
This offering comes from the Rothschild family, which began Mouton Cadet in 1922 with then 20-year-old Baron Philippe de Rothschild and is now operated by his grandchildren. It’s a crisp and citrus blend of sauvignon blanc (70 percent), semillon (28 percent) and muscadelle (2 percent) grown in clay and limestone soils that display the famous French terroir. It’s a delicious balance between fruit and refinement.
Sherry: “A subtle bouquet of pear with tart flavors of pear, lime and grapefruit.” (3 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A lime bouquet with crisp flavors of grapefruit, lime and peach.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $12 to $15.
Coming next week: Christian Brothers Ruby Port
Wine of the Week: Hahn GSM 2016
The three-letter abbreviation “GSM” stands for grenache, syrah and mourvedre. The three grape varieties are traditional in the blends from the Rhone Valley in southern France.
This offering comes from California’s Central Coast, where the blend is 71 percent grenache, 22 percent syrah and 7 percent mourvedre. Each grape is fermented in separate lots and aged nine months in French oak before the final blending.
There’s a lot to take in with both your nose and your mouth in this wine, which has earthy and herbal notes with dark fruit and berry flavors and prominent tannins.
Sherry: “Smooth and medium-bodied with cherry, black currant, clove and herbal flavors.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A nose of leather and spice with fruity blackberry and cherry with a hint of cocoa on the finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $13 to $17.
Coming next week: Mouton Cadet White Bordeaux
Wine of the Week: Gazela Vinho Verde
St. Patrick’s Day is always a reason to think green — and spring has to be just around the corner — so it’s the perfect time to drink a green wine.
The name means green wine, with green referring to its youth, (the color is pale gold) is fresh and light. Instead of a vintage there is a bottling date so you can check the freshness. The wine region is Costa Verde, Portugal’s Green Coast.
This wine comes in at 9 percent alcohol and has a little bit of effervescence to make it a refreshing pour of citrus flavors.
After all, one can only drink so much green beer.
Sherry: “Tart and medium bodied with flavors of lemon, lime and citrus.” (3 stars out of 5)
Chris: “Flavors of grapefruit, lime, apricot and kiwi.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Available from $6 to $9.
Coming next week: Hahn Central Coast GSM
Wine of the Week: Casillero del Diablo Red Blend 2017
One of the advantages to blending wine is that the winemaker looking for particular flavor profile can evaluate and assess each vintage and pick and choose the grapes.
That allows the winemaker to change the blend of each vintage if they choose. Surprisingly this vintage from Chile does not include any of that country’s signature grape carmenere. It is 70 percent syrah and 30 percent cabernet sauvignon.
The nose and the flavors ooze with tones of dark fruit and it borders on semi-sweet with nearly 12 grams/per liter of residual sugar.
Sherry: “A pleasant, medium-bodied blend of cherry, rose and geranium.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of blackberry and cocoa with flavors of cherry and blackberry and very smooth tannins.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $11 to $14.
Coming next week: Gazela Vinho Verde
Wine of the Week: Stave & Steel Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
The trend of using bourbon barrels to age red wine began in 2014 and more wineries are getting on board.
The barrels are required to be made from new American oak that is heavily charred, creating unique flavors. Winemakers must use care to not let the char influences overtake the fruit flavors.
This offering from California features Paso Robles cabernet sauvignon that is aged for four months. The bourbon barrel influence is not prominent and the body is rather light for a cabernet.
Sherry: “Plum and blueberry flavors with medium
tannins and a hint of caramel on a long finish.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of leather and spice with light raspberry, plum and cranberry flavors.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Available from $15 to $18.
Coming next week: Casillero del Diablo Red Blend
Wine of the Week: E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rosé 2016
There’s nothing wrong with going pink for Valentine’s Day, especially if it involves a traditional rose that is very food friendly.
E. Guigal is a notable wine producer in the Rhone Valley of France and sources grenache (70 percent), cinsault (20 percent) and syrah (10 percent) from the southern region to make this delicious Cotes du Rhone (pronounced coat deh rone) blend.
The color may be light pink but the wine is full-bodied with berry and orchard flavors — not to be confused with the paler and sweeter versions of pink wines that are not true rosés.
Sherry: “Dry with soft fruit flavors of cherry and strawberry.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “Dry with flavors of light pear, peach and strawberry.” (3.75 stars out of 5)
Available from $14 to $17.
Coming next week: Stave and Steel Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine of the Week: Grooner 2016
The name for this wine comes from the phonetic pronunciation of grüner veltliner. It’s the national grape of Austria, where 75 percent of the world’s 50,000 acres are grown.
The grape is a cross between traminer and an obscure grape called St. Georgener-Rebe, a 500-year-old vine found in an Austrian pasture.
This white wine could easily pass for sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio with its predominant citrus fruit flavors. It also has very high acidity which gives it aging potential and a great food pairing with spicy Asian dishes.
Sherry: “Dry with fruity citrus lime, lemon and tart green apple.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of lime and pineapple with flavors of lime, grapefruit and light apple.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $10 to $13.
Coming next week: E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rose
Wine of the Week: J. Lohr South Ridge Syrah 2015.
Jerry Lohr was one of the pioneers in California’s Central Coast region 50 years ago, focusing on Monterey County.
The Paso Robles region where this wine is sourced is the perfect climate for growing many French varietals, including this syrah.
Primarily syrah with a 7 percent blend of other grapes, about 25 percent of this vintage undergoes a secondary fermentation.
It is aged for a year in French and American oak and was just released in November.
Enjoy the dark fruit and berry flavors and set another bottle aside, as this wine will show for at least five years.
Sherry: “Medium-bodied, smooth and silky with flavors of blackberry and blueberry.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of leather and pepper with flavors of plum, raspberry and spice.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $11 to $15.
Coming next week: Grooner
Wine of the Week: Rich & Creamy Chardonnay 2015
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell from the label if the chardonnay inside is going to be light and crisp, big and oaky or somewhere in between.
The name of this California wine makes it pretty clear what its taste profile wants to be. While the use of oak has a significant impact on imparting vanilla flavor, the creamy, buttery and rich flavors favored by many chardonnay drinkers comes from malolactic fermentation. It’s a secondary stage that turns tart malic acid into smooth lactic acid.
We prefer the bigger chardonnay style and this offering certainly leans in that direction.
Sherry: “Medium-bodied with citrus lime flavors and subtle pear and honeydew.” (3 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A pineapple bouquet with flavors of peach, pineapple and a hint of butterscotch.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $8 to $12.
Coming next week: J. Lohr Syrah
Wine of the Week: Valley of the Moon Blend '41 2012
The Valley of the Moon Winery blends Sonoma Valley winemaking heritage of more than 150 years with a modern winery and sustainable viticulture.
The Stewart family purchased the winery in 2012 and has brought back the historic Madrone Vineyards — the name it first had when grapes were planted in 1863.
This red blend is labeled as a Tuscan, homage to the Italian immigrants who settled in the valley. It’s a bit of nearly every grape they grow: zinfandel, cabernet sauvignon, syrah, merlot, sangiovese, souzão, barbera, petite sirah and pinot noir.
The diverse blend has dark fruit flavors, soft tannins and a rich finish.
Sherry: “Fruity raspberry and plum with a touch of leather on the finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Chris: “An herbal and leathery bouquet with flavors of cherry, blueberry and plum.” (3.75 stars out of 5)
Available from $13.50 to $17
Coming next week: Rich & Creamy Chardonnay
Wine of the Week: Dark Horse Pinot Grigio 2017
Wine in a can was a hot trend in 2018 and will likely continue throughout the upcoming year. Nielsen reported that canned wine sales were a $45 million business last year and surged 43 percent.
Dark Horse, an EJ Gallo subsidiary, saw its canned wine sales grow 38 percent. Cans are portable, convenient and allowed in beaches and parks were glass bottles aren’t. At 375 milliliters, a can represents one-half of a typical bottle.
What’s inside is what matters and this offering is almost as clear as water and very light-bodied, with orchard and citrus flavors.
Sherry: “A faint bouquet of pear with apple and pear flavors.” (2.75 stars out of 5)
Chris: “Apricot bouquet with light pineapple, peach and a hint of grapefruit.” (3 stars out of 5)
Available from $4.50 to $6.
Coming next week: Valley of the Moon Blend 41