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: Santa Cristina Pinot Grigio 2017
A basic review of wine tells us that many grapes have different names, which is the case with pinot grigio and pinot gris.
A mutation of pinot noir, the Italians call their version pinot grigio and the French call their grapes pinot gris.Both names are used in the United States, reflecting either the more pronounced citrus flavors of pinot grigio compared to the orchard fruit influences of pinot gris.
This version from the Delle Venezie region of northeast Italy is a delicious balance of both styles, with crisp and refreshing tropical fruit flavors and a soft finish.
Sherry: “Flavors of lemon and lime with a hint of pineapple on the finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A grapefruit bouquet with flavors of lemon, lime, pineapple and tangerine.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $ to $12.
Coming next week: Plungerhead Petite Sirah
Tribcast: Chris and Sherry Hardie share their top wine tips
Chris and Sherry Hardie, owners of Brambleberry Winery, Weddings and Country Inn and authors of the Tribune's weekly wine column, share a glass of the wine of the week with the Tribune's Rusty Cunningham and Scott Rada.
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Wine of the week: Villa Pozzi Nero d’Avola 2017
Grapes and wine styles are somewhat subject to fads but winemaking on the island of Sicily dates back some 4,000 years.
Today the fifth generation of the Pozzi family is making wine there, including this vintage of the indigenous nero d’avola.
For many years wines from Sicily were used for blending — especially this grape — but thanks to quality improvements the varietal now stands on its own.
This vintage is made without oak to showcase berry and red fruit flavors but the grape can be suitable for aging.
It’s full-bodied, intense and rustic.
Sherry: “Tart and vibrant raspberry flavor with notes of blackberry and cherry.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A fig bouquet with flavors of raspberry and vanilla and a dry finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $10 to $13.
Coming next week: Santa Cristina Pinot Grigio
Wine of the week: Seven Falls Cellars Rapids Red 2014
This red blend sources its grapes from the Wahluke Slope, an 81,000 acre sub-appellation of the Columbia Valley in Washington. The region is warm and dry with deep alluvial soils.
Seven Falls takes its name from the number of waterfalls that used to flow through the 10 miles of Columbia River near the slope.
This is a blend of syrah (68%), merlot (23%) and cinsault (9%) that was put through malolactic fermentation and aged in a combination of new and used French and American oak. It’s a dark fruit bonanza with an elegant finish.
Sherry: “Smooth, medium-bodied and fruity with flavors of black cherry, black currant and blackberry.” (3.75 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A red licorice bouquet with flavors of blueberry, blackberry and a hint of vanilla on the finish.” (4 stars out of 5)
Available from $14 to $17.
Coming next week: Fleurs de Prairie Rose
Wine of the week: Joel Gott Chardonnay 2017
Joel Gott began making wine in 1996 by purchasing the best fruit from specific growing regions in California, Oregon and Washington, a nod to the French belief that soil and climate make a difference in grape growing.
This California chardonnay is sourced from Monterey, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo vineyards. A small amount of the batch is aged in oak to fall into the middle of the unoaked v. heavily oaked chardonnay spectrum. Flavors of tropical and orchard fruit.
Sherry: “Medium-bodied and fruity with citrus flavors of pineapple, lemon and peach with light butter on the finish.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A pineapple and pear bouquet with flavors of pear, peach and tangerine.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Available from $12.50 to $15.
Coming next week: Seven Falls Cellars Rapids Red
Wine of the week: Skyfall Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Skyfall was the name of the 2012 James Bond film and for his ancestral home in Scotland.
Skyfall Vineyard is named for the massive boulders scattered among the vines in the Columbia Valley in Washington that looked like they fell from the sky.
Grapes are sourced from the Columbia Valley’s top growing region for this wine, which is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and tempranillo. The wine is aged in separate lots and then reassembled before bottling, resulting in a complex and enjoyable pour.
Sherry: “Dry and full-bodied with flavors of black currant, mulberry and blackberry with a touch of rose floral on the finish.” (3.75 stars out of 5)
Chris: “An herbal and cigar box bouquet with blackberry and plum flavors with a hint of vanilla and long, extended tannins.” (3.75 stars out of 5)
Available from $13 to $16.
Coming next week: Joel Gott Chardonnay
Wine of the week: Las Rocas Vinas Viejas Garnacha 2013
The northern part of Spain called Aragon is the traditional home of garnacha, also known as grenache in France where it is used in the Rhone blends.
Los Rocas Vinas Viejas translates to “The Rocks Old Vines,” a direct reference to the source of this wine, the rocky hills of the Calatayud region where the vineyards are very old.
The wine is aged in a combination of French and American oak for a year. It’s well-structured with spice notes and dark fruit flavors layered in firm, but balanced tannins.
Sherry: “Dry and full-bodied flavors of black cherry and blueberry with an oaky finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A spice and cinnamon bouquet with flavors of black cherry and plum.” (3.75 stars out of 5)
Available from $16 to $19.
Coming next week: Skyfall Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine of the week: Robert Mondavi Heritage Red 2017
One of the fathers of California’s modern wine industry, Robert Mondavi was born in Virginia, Minnesota to Italian immigrants.
The family moved west and in 1943 he joined his father and brother Peter when they purchased the Charles Krug winery. He split from the family business and in 1966 built one of the first major wineries in the Napa Valley after Prohibition. Mondavi died at the age of 94 in 2008.
This blend of syrah and merlot comes from Central Coast vineyards. It’s very jammy with juicy berry flavors and soft tannins.
Sherry: “Medium-bodied, smooth and semi-sweet with flavors of blueberry, cherry and raspberry.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A jammy bouquet with flavors of raspberry and cherry with a red licorice and vanilla finish.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Available from $9 to 11.
Coming next week: Los Rocas Vinas Viejas
Wine of the week: Mud House Sauvignon Blanc 2017
We can usually distinguish the signature grape of New Zealand by its unique bouquet.
Descriptions of New Zealand sauvignon blanc range from nettles, dried tomato leaf, dried herbs, snow peas, guava and other attributes. Perhaps the strangest is cat urine, the funky smell that cat owners know all too well.
The scientific explanation is a high concentration of pyrazines, which are more distinctive in the cooler climates like New Zealand. But it does nothing to diminish the crisp and mouth-watering melon and citrus flavors of this delicious wine.
Sherry: “Vibrant and refreshing flavors of grapefruit and lime with a light grassiness on the finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A zesty blend of grapefruit, lime and tangerine with crisp acidity.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $9 to $12.
Coming next week: Robert Mondavi Heritage Red Blend
Wine of the week: Cupcake Butterkissed Chardonnay 2017
The Cupcake wine label has made a big splash in the industry since its introduction in 2008, selling many different varietals in the $8 to $12 range sourced from vineyards around the world.
This chardonnay joins its Monterey County Chardonnay to offer a different take on the popular varietal. As the name suggests, Butterkissed aims for the full smooth and creamy mouthfeel by putting the chardonnay through a secondary malolactic fermentation.
The butter and cream are noticeable in this wine, but could have gone further to satisfy the malo-fans like us.
Sherry: “Medium-bodied with citrus flavors of lemon and lime and a hint of oak and butter.” (3 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of pineapple and lemon with flavors of apricot, pineapple and a bit of butterscotch.” (3 stars out of 5)
Available from $8 to $11.
Coming next week: Mud House Sauvignon Blanc
Wine of the week: Silk and Spice Red Blend 2017
This wine pays homage to the 15th Century Portuguese sailors that explored the world from Europe to the Indian Ocean on the Silk and Spice Route.
This blend is sourced from different regions and fermented in separate lots. The wine undergoes a secondary fermentation for additional softness, is aged in oak for six months and then blended.
This is a soft red with dark fruit and spice notes and enough sweetness to put it up the upper end of the dry category. A good choice for beginning red wine drinkers.
Sherry: “Sweeter with a strong clove and floral taste with blackberry on the finish.” (3 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of raisins and brown sugar with flavors of cherry and blackberry and red licorice on the finish.” (3 stars out of 5)
Available from $8 to $11.
Coming next week: Cupcake Butterkissed Chardonnay
Wine of the week: Pinot Gris A to Z 2017
A basic review of wine grapes tells us that pinot gris and pinot grigio are the same grape but made in different styles.
This white wine from Oregon covers the alphabet and more, coming from from 30 different vineyards. It is fermented in separate lots to preserve individual complexity and flavor and then blended.
The difference between gris and grigio is the former is softer with emphasis on stone fruits like peach, apricot and plum while grigio has more citrus flavor. Our taste buds split on this one — Sherry finds it more grigio-like and Chris finds it more gris-like.
Sherry: “Smooth on the front and flavorful with lemon, lime and grapefruit and tart on the finish.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A tangerine nose with flavors of pear, peach and a little grapefruit.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $15 to $17.
Coming next week: Silk and Spice
Wine of the week: Terra d’Oro Zinfandel 2016
The foothills of the Sierra Mountains in Amador County, Calif., is where gold miners sought the mother lode and brought more than 300,000 people in 1849.
Today the area’s shallow soils, hot days and cool nights are perfect for growing zinfandel. And no wine is more perfect for a late-summer barbecue.
These grapes are handpicked and cold-soaked and go through an intensive fermentation process before being aged in a combination of oak for 16 months. The result is a big and savory wine with fruit-forward flavors and balanced tannins.
Sherry: “Medium-bodied with fruity flavors of blackberry, strawberry and blueberry. Soft clove spice on the finish.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A blackberry and spice bouquet with flavors of blueberry, raspberry and a vanilla finish.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $12.50 to $14.
Coming next week: Intrinsic Red Blend
Wine of the week: Crios Torrontes 2016
Finding a wine to pair with spicy foods can be a challenge but torrontes is an excellent choice.
We sampled this signature white grape of Argentina with a caprese salad of fresh picked basil, kalamata olives, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella drizzled with Italian dressing and baguettes on the side.
Torrontes thrives in the high altitude vineyards of the Andes Mountains. This vintage was sourced from the Salta and Mendoza regions and was aged over the lees for three months.
Citrus fruits abound in this dry and crisp wine that has plenty of structure to stand up to the spice.
Sherry: “Refreshing, crisp and dry with citrus lime flavor on the front and peach on the finish.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of lime and grapefruit with lime and lemon flavors and a hint of apricot.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $12.50 to $15.
Coming next week: Terra d’Oro Zinfandel
Wine of the week: Roscato Dark
This nonvintage red blend comes from a large winery cooperative in Trentino from northern Italy.
It lives up to its description with an inky-dark pour that will stain your tongue purple. The dark color comes from long contact with the grape skins during fermentation. It’s a blend of mainly indigenous northern Italian grape varieties teroldego and lagrein with a little merlot.
Soft tannins and fruit forward, there is enough residual sugar to put this into the off-dry (which we would call semi-sweet) category and good selection for beginning red wine drinkers.
Sherry: “Flavors of cherry and blueberry with a touch of clove on the finish.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of blackberry with flavors of raspberry, cherry and a hint of vanilla.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Available from $12.50 to $14.
Coming next week: Crios Torrontes
Tussock Jumper Riesling 2017
One can travel the world through different wines. Here’s a label that brings you the world of wine from 11 different countries.
Tussock Jumper markets 11 different varietals sourced from their respective countries. Each features an animal from that country that is wearing a red jumper. A tussock is a grassy knob that grows all around the world.
This wine comes from the Rheinhessen region of Germany, the country’s largest wine region. It’s a classic riesling with crisp acidity and light sweetness that highlights the orchard fruit and citrus flavors.
Sherry: “A bouquet of pear with tart citrus flavors of lime and lemon.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A light apple bouquet with flavors of lime and peach and a hint of pear.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $8.50 to $10.
Coming next week: Roscato Dark
Komodo Dragon 2014
There are no Komodo dragons in Washington, but this red blend pays tribute to the giant Indonesian lizard that is part of the Pacific Rim.
Marketed by Bronco Wine Co., this blend of merlot (49%), cabernet sauvignon (30%) and syrah is sourced from Columbia Valley. About 85% of its fruit comes from the Wahluke Slope, one of the warmer spots in the state that also has cooling breezes to help with fruit development.
This is a full-bodied, dry red with plenty of dark fruit flavors. The winery suggests serving with smoked ham.
Sherry: “Fruity flavors of raspberry, cherry, blueberry and black currant.” (3½ stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of plum and dusty earth with flavors of plum, raspberry and toasted oak.” (3½ stars out of 5)
Available from $12.50 to $15.
Coming next week: Tussock Jumper Riesling
Arrogant Frog Lily Pad Red 2016
French Winemaker Jean-Claude Mas came up with the idea of an arrogant frog mascot in 2005 to make his wines more approachable and less snobbish to an American audience.
It worked, because he has sold more than 5 million bottles with different varietals from his Languedoc vineyards in southern France.
This is a blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot which are fermented separately and aged in vats and oak before being blended. It shows dark fruit flavors layered with spice and a rustic tannic structure. A perfect barbecue wine.
Sherry: “Dry and full-bodied with flavors of cherry, blueberry and floral notes on the finish.” (3¼ stars out of 5)
Chris: “A cinnamon bouquet with flavors of cherry, blueberry, vanilla and prominent but balanced tannins.” (3½ stars out of 5)
Available from $8 to $12.
Coming next week: Komodo Dragon Red
Wine of the Week: Aimé Roquesante Rosé 2018
This French Cotes de Provence wine comes from ground zero in the world of rosé. Provence — located in southeast France — has been home to winemaking since the Greeks planted vines there 2,600 years ago.
Exports of Provence rosé have increased 500 percent in the past 15 years, with more than 40 million bottles shipped in 2016.
A blend of grenache (45%), cinsault (26%), syrah (15%), carignan (10%) and mourvedre (4%), this pale salmon-colored wine is the quintessential French rosé with red fruit flavors in a dry and crisp citrus body.
Sherry: “Clean citrus scent with dry and tart flavors of strawberry with almond on the finish.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A bouquet of lime and pear with dry flavors of strawberry, peach and grapefruit.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $10.50 to $14.
Coming next week: Arrogant Frog Lily Pad Red
Wine of the Week: Risata Sparkling Rosé
Many wines experience seasonal sales and as expected, rosé consumption goes up in the summer as more consumers think pink.
But sales of rosé continue to grow year-round, making the fastest growing wine category, according to Wine Business Monthly. This new wine from northeastern Italy — just launched earlier this year — is a blend of 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir with a bit of carbonation.
The flavors are as light as the color, with very delicate berry fruit. Serve well-chilled and pair with a summer salad, chicken or fish.
Sherry: “Dry with subtle strawberry, raspberry and lime flavors.” (2.75 stars out of 5)
Chris: “Light flavors of strawberry and apricot with a zesty, semi-dry finish.” (3 stars out of 5)
Available from $12 to $15.
Coming next week: Aime Roquesante Cotes de Provence
Wine of the Week: Gallo Family Sweet Pineapple
It’s summertime and it’s hot. Sometimes your palate wants an uncomplicated wine that is an adult version of the fruit drinks you remember as a kid.
This fruit wine blend (9% alcohol) from E&J Gallo falls into that category. There’s hardly a category not covered by Gallo. Beginnings with brothers Ernest and Julio in 1933, today Gallo has more than 100 brands of beverages across many different product lines from more than 110 countries.
This California wine is a taste of the tropics, with very sweet tropical fruit flavors and slightly fizzy. Serve well-chilled or even use as a summertime wine spritzer.
Sherry: “Something different and fun. Frizzante with flavors of sweet pineapple and honey.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “Flavors of pineapple, honey and candied apple.” (3 stars out of 5)
Available from $4 to $6.
Coming next week: Risata Sparkling Rose
Wine of the Week: Ego Bodegas Marionette 2017
Ego Bodegas is a winery located in the Jumilla region of southeastern Spain, an area best known for its monastrell — also known as mourvedre — red grapes with an average age of 50 years. This big, thick-skinned grape with prominent tannins is often used in blends, like this wine which also features syrah. The wine is fermented and macerated with the skins for 15 to 25 days and then aged in American oak for two months.
The result is a big, structured wine with red fruit flavors that would pair nicely with roasted meat or steaks off the grill.
Sherry: “A medium-bodied fruity blend with flavors rose, clove and cherry.” (3.25 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A raisin and earth bouquet with flavors of bright cherry, raspberry and a hint of vanilla with dry tannins.” (3.5 stars out of 5)
Available from $9.50 to $13.
Coming next week: Gallo Family Sweet Pineapple
Wine of the Week: Capriccio Sangria
It’s summertime and it’s hot. Take some red wine, add some fruit juice, throw in some pieces or orange or other fruits and perhaps add a bit of carbonation.
You’ve just made yourself a sangria.
A year ago this Florida-made sangria flew off the shelves as sales skyrocketed thanks to social media hype and a strange demand for its 13.9% alcohol.
Capriccio is made by Florida Carbibbean Distillers which says it’s a bubbly red made with 100% natural fruit juices and pineapple, grape, lemon, pomegranate, orange, pear, apple, cherry and lime juice.
It’s an uncomplicated, cloudy pour of fresh fruit that says summertime.
Sherry: “A citrus bouquet with tart flavors of grapefruit and tangerine.” (3 stars out of 5)
Chris: “A tangerine bouquet with grapefruit and pear flavors.” (3 stars out of 5)
Available for $7 to $9.
Coming next week: Ego Bodegas Marionette
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