16 March, 2010

Good Pinot for about $20 Bucks. No Way. -- WAY!

As many of you know, I'm a fan of Pinot Noir. It's gentle, goes great with food and has many subtleties that I enjoy "thinking" on. Yes, sorry for the Sideways reference, but it's been that way for me since before the film.

If it's good, it's also expensive. Usually.

When the folks at Willamette Valley Vineyards  (or @willamettevv on twitter) asked to send me samples of their wines that fit in the $20dollarwine rules, I said yes, but questioned whether that was a wise idea. Typically,  good Pinot from Oregon is scarce under $30 a bottle, but I relented solely on their reputation and on what I heard from friends who judged in the SF Wine Competition about the quality of wines coming out of WVV who did quite well with their 2 Best in Class offerings.

I'm also very happy to see they are producing wine with the L.I.V.E. philosophy and sealing using cork certified by the Rainforest to Stewardship Council. I'm a fan of cork and sustainability. More on that later.

The first bottle is the 2007 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir. It's a lovely little bottle that retails for about $25. I was aged in 20% new oak and get this...was picked at between 19 and 24 brix. Yes....that's correct, 19. 19.

Say it again  - 19ºBrix. That's what I love to hear...not the silliness of folks in Santa Lucia Highlands picking Pinot at 28º. That's CRAZYTALK.

I cellared this bottle for several weeks at 54ºF and then poured from the bottle.

It's got a lovely and very subtle nose of delicate red fruit. The first from the bottle was fresh, light, lean and clean with sharp acid and I was craving a nice pork chop with herbs de provence. Mmm. The last bit of the bottle was elegant, soft, velvety....and I was craving a bit of chocolate. Mmm, again.

This is a super food wine and is the best QPR Pinot Noir I've had the pleasure of enjoying in quite some time.

Kudos to the team at WVV.

2007 Willamette Valley Vineyards Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Retail: $25
Grade: A

Next was the 2008 Whole Cluster Fermented Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

Now THIS is a FUN, FUN wine. It's not full of itself and is ready to drink young. It's got super fresh strawberry, red raspberry and more red fruit on the nose with lots of great acid and is nicely balanced front to back. It's not a food wine, per se, but great to drink on its own with some young cheese or light passed hors d'oeuvers.

Interestingly, it's whole cluster fermented AND fermented using carbonic maceration. Crazy. That's stuff those French do for the yumminess that is Beaujolais Nouveau. Essentially, rather than fermenting with a traditional aerobic environment and with fruit that is crushed, CO2 is introduced into the fermentation tank, and what's now, an anaerobic environment and fermentation occurs INSIDE the fruit itself.

This leads to VERY low tannins, so wines are very drinkable when young, but don't have enough structure to lay down for much more than a year at the very most.

Have some fun and drink this very, very reasonably priced, approachable

2008 Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Willamette Valley Pinot Noir
Retail: $19
Grade: B

15 March, 2010

Sunrise at St Supery

I was in Napa, CA for a conference and had the opportunity to drop by St. Supery, the home of our friend @rickbakas to capture the start of a very special day.

Saturday, March 13 was one of the first days where Spring was trying to show its face and we were out and about in the beauty of it with great friends, great wine and the beauty of Napa and Sonoma counties.

Grateful. Very, very grateful. I hope you enjoy this just a bit as much as I enjoyed the day.

Sunrise - St. Supery from C. Jason Mancebo on Vimeo.

09 March, 2010

#CaliCabs at St. Supery

Rick Bakas, the director of social media for St. Supery winery in Rutherford (Napa Valley), hosted a live community tasting of California Cabernet Sauvingons at the St. Supery tasting room on Feb 11, 2010.

Using the hashtag #calicabs , the event drew bloggers and other wine fans, winemakers and friends from the area where we had the opportunity to tweet live while we tasted around 15 wines from 10 different wineries across 3 regions of California.

So, while I'm not a big fan of Cabernet Sauvignon as a single varietal (I DO like it as a key ingredient in a Bordeaux blend) I thought it might be nice to get outside the box, do something different, you know...do all the things I always suggest we should do.


Lots of great folks who you likely follow on twitter were in attendance. @ebetho @wineinkbytia @jamiebakas, @danicasattui ......
..and of course @rickbakas hosting the fun filled evening.
So, while not many of the bottles we tasted were in the $20dollarwineblog price range, there were a few that were enjoyable and the one I brought, the 2007 Broadside Margarita Vineyard Cab - Paso Robles seemed to be enjoyed by many of the participants as did the Spann Vineyards 2005 Mayacamas Ranch Cabernet, which, not quite at around $20, it was a super bottle and retails for $35.

So, our thanks go out to the St. Supery Crew, all the tweeps who attended, my dear friend and carpool enabler @ebetho and of course, @rickabakas for hosting a fun and exciting event.

Does wine taste better if it's more expensive?

I read an interesting piece a few weeks ago about a study that was done revealing that our perception of quality of a wine and the amount we like the wine is relative to its price.


Actually, I'm not surprised at all. We've all been at a tasting room with the guy visiting from out of town who's just got to have the most expensive big "Cab" that's on the menu, or the young guy who's thinks he's deserving and insistently sez: "I SAID, I want a bottle of your best Burgundy!"

Well, beyond the "I really don't care for your demanding attitude" nonsense, the study proves that a quality product can be had for a very reasonable price. In my experience, all $2 wine is just not the same quality as most reasonably priced bottles around $15, so I'm not claiming that a $2 bottle is as good as a $100 bottle, but rather, that just because a bottle retails for around $20 bucks, it doesn't mean it can't be great!

So, get out, visit your LWS and ask your wine monger/specialist for a recommendation for a bottle around $20 bucks.