Blogs > The Grapevine

Wine recommendations and comments from Dean and Lisa Foster, Vintage Connections Wine Educators and Consultants. Most wines are available in Southeastern Pennsylvania and are priced between $10 and $20. Up-coming "wine events" available in the Pottstown Tri-county area are listed.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wine Tip of the Week - Santa Rita Carmenere and Cosentino Cabernet Franc

Cheers from Vintage Connections  

Dean and Lisa Foster
Vintage Connections: Wine Educators and Consultants

Santa Rita Reserva Carmenere 2009

This rich medium to full-bodied dry red wine comes from the Rapel Valley in Chile.  The color is a deep dark red with aromas of red fruits and spices.  The flavor is richly laced with flavors of dark red cherries, plums and a hint of spice.  It has soft tannins with a lingering finish.  Alcohol is 13.5% by volume.  

Carmenere was once considered to have perhaps become extinct.  Grown extensively in France as a blending grape for Bordeaux, it suddenly become lost in France and now is only minimally grown and is no longer used in Bordeaux blends.   Carmenere, however, was found to grow abundantly well in Chile and has become Chile's signature grape.  PLCB product code is 19962 and is available at some PA Wine and Spirit stores for $14.99 a bottle.  

M. Cosentino Cabernet Franc 2007

Unfortunately, this wine is not available in PA, but we felt it was such an exceptional wine that it deserved to be brought to your attention. It's rare we find a Cab Franc we like that is NOT from PA. 

This excellent dry red wine comes from the Napa Valley in California.  This cabernet franc is actually a blend of 83% cabernet franc and 17% merlot.  It is garnet red in color, softening to almost pinkish at the edges.  It has great aromas of red fruit and green pepper, so characteristic of cabernet francs.   

Though high in alcohol (winemaker says 15.5% by volume), it did not taste hot as so many California wines do, but was pleasantly balanced.  We felt the addition of the merlot helped to give this wine a roundness that perhaps a California cabernet franc may otherwise be missing.  We were pleasantly surprised by this wine.  

Fun Fact 

Cabernet Franc grapes are thin-skinned black grapes that grow well even in colder temperatures, one of the reasons you can find Cabernet Franc wines in  PA and the Finger Lakes region of New York.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wine Tips - Trapiche Malbec and Flora Springs Cabernet Sauv

Cheers from Vintage Connections!

Wine Tips of the Week
Trapiche Oak Cask Malbec 2008

This rich, full-bodied dry red wine is very typical of a Mendoza, Argentina malbec.  It is dark red in color with purple tones.   
Very aromatic with aromas of blackberries and plums with hints of smoke and vanilla.  Flavors of dark red fruits compliment the gentle oak flavors from being aged in French oak for 12 months.  It has a rich, velvety mouth-feel and a pleasant long-lasting finish.  Alcohol is 14% by volume.  Great when paired with red meats, mushrooms and cheeses.  Wine Spectator has given this wine a rating of 84.  We think it deserved better.  PLCB product code is 3451 and is on sale at most PA Wine and Spirit stores for $9.99 a bottle, regularly priced at $11.99.

Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2005. 

This dry red cabernet sauvignon comes from a family owned vineyard in St. Helena, CA.  It is deep dark red in color.  It has aromas of berries and cassis.   
Though not complex, it has rich flavors of berries and currants with subtle tannins.  Robert Parker gave this wine a rating of 90 pts.  It has 14.2% alcohol by volume.  This wine is unfortunately on closeout at PA Wine and Spirit stores, though it is available at some of the stores for $18.99 a bottle.  PLCB product code is 5680.  Many opinions are that subsequent vintages of the Flora Springs Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley are consistently just as good.  So if you can't find the 2005, it might be worth trying another year.

Up-coming Events

Check websites of the wineries listed below for events, sales, etc. Below are a few that caught our attention through winery newsletters.

May 21 & 22
Wine in Bloom

We've seen this on the calendar but cannot find additional details, even on the LVWT website.  Hmmmm?

Saturday, May 21st Wine & Swine, Noon-4pm @ Kutztown Winery 

See their website for cost and details.

Last time we heard, Blair still had a few seats left for Sunday's May 22nd's Winemaker's Dinner at the winery.  Reservations are required, $60 per person includes the four course meal, the wine pairing during the meal, tax, gratuity, and barrel or tank tastings in the wine cellar.  Call Blair at 610-683-8463 to reserve your seats!
Fun Fact 

Cabernet Sauvignon berries are small, spherical with black, thick and very tough skin. This toughness makes the grapes fairly resistant to disease and spoilage and able to withstand some autumn rains with little damage. (professional friends of wine).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Greetings from Vintage Connections!

An old (and interesting) vine at Mantawny, ready for bud break

 Septima Malbec 2009

This bold dark red 100% malbec comes from Bodega Septima in Mendoza, Argentina. 

Deep purple/red in color it has aromas of dark red cherries with hints of raspberry and vanilla.  It has full, mouth filling flavors of plums and raspberries with hints of licorice and mocha.  This malbec has a long and lingering finish (I had to keep reminding myself to take another sip!).  It was aged for 6 months in American oak barrels. 

Though not a complex wine, we found this malbec to be a good representative of malbec wines.  Excellent with grilled steak, and we as we found out last night, even with homemade pizza.  Of the two Septima wines we're featuring in our blog this week, this was Lisa's favorite.  Alcohol is 14% by volume.  PLCB product code is 6895 and is available at most PA Wine and Spirit Stores (on sale for now) for $8.99 a bottle.  Wine Spectator rated this wine at 87 points.  THIS IS A GREAT VALUE!

Septima Syrah 2007
This rich, dark red 100% syrah also comes from Bodega Septima in Mendoza, Argentina.  The deep dark red color has hints of "carmine and purple".  It has aromas of  dark red fruits, caramel and chocolate with hints of  toast and licorice.  It is full bodied with flavors of  figs and chestnuts with spicy notes.   To Lisa, this wine was still a little young with the tannins still too strong.  Dean felt it was just right and was his favorite of the two Bodega Septima wines.  It has a long, satisfying finish.  This syrah was aged for 5 months in French and American oak barrels then aged for 5months in the bottle before being released.  Alcohol is 14 % by volume.  Excellent with many bold foods, even pizza!  PLCB product code is 8904 and is available at most PA Wine and Spirit stores for $11.99 (on sale for now) a bottle. Another great value!

Upcoming Events

Blair Vinyards is hosting
on Saturday May 14th & Sunday May 15th at their location at 99 Dietrich Valley Road, Kutztown.  Unleashed supports the Berks Humane Society, will have vendors on site, the Pet Adoption Vehicle from the Humane Society, food, music and wine.  This event is a pet friendly event, but dogs must be leashed (despite the title of the event).  Blair's event calendar is full of fun, wine activities.

Calvaresi Winery 's  SPRING WINE FESTIVAL is Sunday - May 15, 2011
1:00 - 5:00 pm, Rain or Shine.  Enjoy award winning wines, along with the "Fabulous Tom Miller" singing the songs of 'Elvis' and other great oldies!

Fun Fact
Malbec grape is a very thin-skinned grape and requires more heat to ripen than cabernet sauvignon or merlot, making Mendoza Argentina an excellent venue for this varietal (wikipedia).

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wine Tips - Part 3 - Preview of our wine seminar, Wine Appreciation Basics: Red and White.

Cheers from Vintage Connections 

Thanks to Brad and Christy at Pinnacle Ridge Winery for hosting our wine seminars at the winery on May 12, 13, 26 and 27.  For more information on these seminars, go to our other blog at Vintage Connections Wine Info.


Back to the Basics  

Go to last week's Grapevine posting for information about the wine tasting process.  These simple steps will help you enjoy and appreciation wine even more than you already might.  Over the past two weeks, we also discussed the variable characteristics and tasting of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling, the three most popular white wines in the world.

This week and next, we'll discuss several of the most popular red wines in the world: cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and pinot noir.   Join us at our wine tasting seminars at Pinnacle Ridge to taste and talk about these three reds and the three white wines we discussed over the past two weeks. 

Red Wines

Cabernet Sauvignon is, arguably, the premier red wine grape in the world.  It is the basis of the most expensive Bordeaux, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and another extremely popular red, Merlot.  In Bordeaux and other Bordeaux-type blends, like Meritage and the Veritas blend from Pinnacle Ridge, Cabernet provides the "structure" or "bite" while Merlot provides the roundness or softness and much of the fruitiness in the blend.   

Often, you'll find wines that are labeled as a single variety, either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.  In reality, these "Cabernets" contain a small amount of Merlot, and vice versa.  In most countries and most states in the USA, wines can be labeled as a single variety even when they contain up to 25% of another variety.  These small amounts of complementary wines add complexity to the final blend, with Merlot softening an otherwise too tannic or structured Cabernet, and Cabernet adding some structure or bite to an otherwise flat or flabby Merlot.  We love to taste 100% Cabernet's and Merlot's, then blend them and taste the difference adding a little of one to the other can make.  We also include Cabernet Franc, the third major ingredient of Red Bordeaux, but that's a story for another day.

Cabernet Sauvignon, by the way, is a genetic creation with Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc parentage.   

The third "top" red wine in the world, arguably, is Pinot Noir.   

Pinot Noir is usually labeled with its varietal name (Pinot Noir).  But, it is also the true Red Burgundy from the Burgundy area of France.  (Cheap "Red Burgundy" jug wines from California and elsewhere is NOT Red Burgundy, nor is it Pinot Noir!)   

Pinot Noir is a lighter red wine than Cabernet and Merlot, is much more difficult to grow and takes much more care than most other reds to produce a good wine.  It's aroma and flavor resembles strawberry or light red cherry, compared to the darker red aromas and flavors of blackberry and dark red cherry (and many other nuances) found in Cabernet and Merlot.   

Red Burgundy (from France) is 100% Pinot Noir, as are most other wines labeled as Pinot Noir.  However, we have found some wines labeled as Pinot Noir that have small percentages (less than 25%) of Syrah and other reds blended in to provide a little more structure, a little more boldness, than many, affordable, Pinot Noirs.  However, most wine lovers want their Pinot Noir 100% pure and cherish the lighter, more delicate flavors of pure Pinot Noir.   

The noticeable tannins, the "bite" and structure so evident in Cabernet Sauvignon, are absent in Pinot Noir, making it a great red alternative for those who don't like the boldness, etc. in Cabernet.  Because it is lighter red, Pinot pairs well with heartier fish like salmon and lighter meats such as pork.  We also enjoy it with chicken, especially the dark meat.

Obviously, there are many more wonderful red wines available and affordable today, such as Syrah, Sangiovese,  Malbec, Zinfandel, and on the US East coast, Chambourcin.  Enjoy them all!

Up-coming Events

In addition to our classes at Pinnacle Ridge, please note the following:
Blair Vinyards is hosting Happy Hour on Friday, May 6, Mother's Day activities on Saturday and Sunday, May 7 and 8, and Unleashed on Saturday May 14th & Sunday May 15th at their location at 99 Dietrich Valley Road, Kutztown.  Unleashed supports the Berks Humane Society, will have vendors on site, the Pet Adoption Vehicle from the Humane Society, food, music and wine.  This event is a pet friendly event, but dogs must be leashed (despite the title of the event).  Blair's event calendar is full of fun, wine activities.

Winedown Cafe and Wine Bar is holding a Wine Class on Monday,
May 9.  See their website for more information.
Calvaresi Winery 's  Spring Wine Festival is Sunday - May 15, 2011,
1:00 - 5:00 pm, Rain or Shine.  Enjoy award winning wines, along with the "Fabulous Tom Miller" singing the songs of 'Elvis' and other great oldies!

Fun Fact

Meritage is a licensed name for Bordeaux-type blends (red and white) of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and sometimes Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and  Carmenere.  Many other red blends include these same grapes, but should not be labeled as Bordeaux and cannot be labeled as Meritage.  These other wines, like Veritas from Pinnacle Ridge, are still excellent Bordeaux-type blends.