From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday April 23, 2015…
After a snow squall this morning that turned pine trees into picture postcards up in the hills, the idea of a trip to warm, sunny California seems very appealing. Since that’s not in the cards, we’ll have to make do with an offering of California wines in today’s tasting.
Esser Sauvignon Blanc 2013 comes from Monterey County, a cool-climate area, and a near-perfect vintage. The blend includes Sauvignon Blanc and a touch of Semillon, two grapes used in Bordeaux whites. To preserve their freshness, grapes were harvested at dawn and fermented in tank with no malolactic fermentation. The result is a round, ripe wine with aromas of passion fruit, melon, and citrus leading to gooseberry, white fig, lemon, and honeydew flavors. Drink this alone or pair with fresh vegetable dishes, seafood or chicken.
Randall Graham of Bonny Doon Vineyards provides another nod to white Bordeaux with his Gravitas 2014, a side project from the Proper Claret Wine Co. Dominated by Semillon with assistance from Sauvignon Blanc as well as a touch of Orange Muscat, this is intensely fragrant—think magnolia, orange blossom, white peach, quince, fresh grass, lavender honey, and key lime. All these are part of the flavor profile, balanced by a savory quality and deft acidity. Pair with fresh oysters, grilled vegetables, or go big with cassoulet.
Reds are also part of the show. Rickshaw Pinot Noir 2013 is the second label from the producers of Banshee Wines. The label gives a hint of what’s to come: this cool climate Pinot offers forest floor and mushroom notes, smoky black cherry, and raspberry tea on the nose. Flavors are classic, with rose petal, red and black cherry, fruit tea, and more mushrooms. Lifted and concentrated, this is a good partner for tuna or salmon, Peking duck with hoisin, and earthy vegetables.
A new wine on our shelves the Broadside Merlot Margarita Vineyard 2013 is an intense, ripe unblended example of this grape. Fermented with native yeasts and aged in old oak, this is a wine of balance and finesse. Its red fruit is fresh rather than jammy, with layers of cedar and minerals. Versatile at the table, the wine can partner with lamb or beef, grilled mushrooms, or full-flavored cheeses.
McManis Petite Sirah 2013 is a big, black, tablecloth-staining wine equally at home in the depths of winter or at grilling time in summer. Fermented in tank and aged in oak, the wine also undergoes micro-oxygenation, which enhances its color, clarity, and stability while softening the tannins and hastening maturation. The result is more of a large teddy bear than a grizzly, with blackberry and clove aromas and dense, dark berry flavors leading to a soft mocha finish. Pair with cheeses or whatever you put on the grill!