Tag Archives: Bordeaux Blend

This WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© “The Long and Winding Road” to Waitiri Creek Winery

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 7/19/2013.

Social Media links;

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors

Sleep City Missoula www.SleepCity.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world.

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© perhaps Paul McCartney said it best on the Beatles Let It Be album; “The long and winding road, That leads to your door, Will never disappear, I’ve seen that road before, It always leads me here, Lead me to your door”.

Podcast interview with Paula Ramage below:

 

 

Paula Ramage and her husband Allistar Ward have traveled extensively and lived abroad in different places throughout the world but home for them is the Central Otago wine region on the South Island of New Zealand.  This is the southernmost grape growing region in the world, but they produce very good wine.  Paula grew up in Alexandra and the Ward family farmed for many years on Malaghan’s Road, near Arrowtown.  Last week’s blog provided an overview of New Zealand as a wine country; http://wp.me/pFhHw-Ao  This is a land that is breathtakingly beautiful and produces some of the finest single varietal wines available.

Paula Ramage has had at least 5 careers that she can recall but in spending time with her on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this week I’ll forevermore think of her as Ambassador of New Zealand and the New Zealand wine industry.  Needless to say she is a terrific spokesperson and extremely knowledgeable about her country and the wine industry in New Zealand and throughout the world.  Paula handles all of Waitiri Creek’s administrative business and development of offshore markets, a natural for a “reformed barrister”.  She has a lovely Kiwi accent that you cannot help loving too.

Allistar Ward is a merchant banking consultant full time, although he makes time to focus on vineyard development and as Paula puts it, “he juggles all the balls and keep them in the air”.

Viticulture Crew, Mark and Jason

Viticulture Crew, Mark and Jason

Jason Thomson is their very accomplished viticulturist along with his team Mark Naismith and Scott Culpan who run the day to day operations.  Interestingly the Waitiri Creek winemaker is a woman, Jen, from the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  As I mentioned last week many winemakers are now traveling winemakers who work in the Northern Hemisphere during its summer months and the Southern Hemisphere during their summer.  With the Willamette and Central Otago sharing similar latitudes with a focus on cool weather grape varietals it is a natural for winemakers like Jen.

Shanagolden Block in Summer

Shanagolden Block in Summer

In 1993 Paula and Allistar purchased their first vineyard the Shanagolden Block in Gibbston and planted Chardonnay in 1994.   The northerly facing block was ideal for sustainable viticulture and the lower half of this area provided a perfect location for the future wine tasting venue.

The Shanagolden Block was originally settled in 1867 by James Leslie, a Scot who had emigrated to New Zealand at the age of 17.  He and his partner, Thomas Kinross followed the Dunstan gold rush.  Kinross established the Gibbston store and Post Office and James Leslie was the butcher and baker but also continued to prospect for gold.

The vineyard has a micro-climate that produces ripe fruit earlier than most in the general area.  The soil composition is made up of glacial deposits and free draining alluvial soil matter (scheist).  This terrior is well suited to the cool weather grape varietals that Waitiri Creek produces.  This is where Jens’s Willamette Valley winemaking experience really shines.

Waitiri Creek’s portfolio of wines includes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.  The grape vines  of Waitiri Creek are all hand pruned and hand harvested.  New Zealand is aiming for all of its vineyards to be sustainably accredited by the end of 2012.  Compliance currently stands at about 93% – Waitiri Creek has been fully sustainable for some years.  Another interesting fact about New Zealand wines, 75% of the bottles are all screw tops.  The Kiwi’s are an environmentally conscience country and I applaud them for this effort.

Chardonnay Grape Harvest

Chardonnay Grape Harvest

The first vintage of Chardonnay was produced in 1998 and full production of three different varietals in 1999.   In 1996  Paula and Allistar decided that an old church building would serve as the Waitiri Creek tasting room, they needed a structure that would be harmonious with the terroir of the Shanagolden vineyard.  So a search which led them all over the lower part of the South Island, culminating in a visit to Wangaloa, near Kaitangata in 1998.  On first sight, the former Wangaloa Presbyterian Church would have sent less hardy souls running in the opposite direction….but not Paula and Allistar.  Negotiations began with the local community and ownership of the church was secured a year later.

Cellar Door

Cellar Door

The Waitiri Creek tasting room just celebrated its 10th anniversary at its new vineyard home.   This former Presbyterian church, built in 1893 was moved to its new location at Waitiri Creek 300km in one piece on the Shanagolden Block in 2000.

I want to thank my new friend Paula Ramage for sharing this rich history of the Central Otago wine region, New Zealand, and the Waitiri Creek Winery with the WineGuyMike™ audience.  From my home in Montana to the “The Long and Winding Road” down under, Happy Holidays to my friends in New Zealand and Waitiri Creek.

Waitiri Creek Wines

One of the keys to increased demand for Waitiri Creek wines is consistant quality.   Waitiri Creek has been recognized at domestic and international competitions every year since 1999 across their entire portfolio.  Their expansion into Bannockburn with the purchase of additional Central Otago fruit has now expanded their portfolio to include Rosé, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

Pinot Noir

Waitiri Creek Pinot Noir 2007 The nose shows rich varietal layers of cherry and plums supported by an earthy complexity. The depth of fruit on the nose continues on the palate supported by a fine tannin structure, good integration of oak and a length of flavor that lingers on the tongue.

The nose displays complex notes of stewed cherries, cedar and mushrooms. This Pinot Noir shows the elegance of the 2008 vintage with a bright garnet hue and the perfume of violets and rose petals. The fruit driven palate has flavors of wild raspberries with hints of cinnamon, red cherries and succulent plums. On the finish there is a note of thyme and mushrooms. The silky tannins are woven seamlessly into a structure balanced by savory French oak and alcohol.

Rose

Rich strawberry and raspberry aromas dominate the nose and are supported by perfumed floral notes. The palate shows good berry fruit weight with strawberry and white peach aided by creamy texture. This wine is well balanced with a long, lingering, strawberry finish.

Chardonnay

Made in a fruit-driven New World style, this wine shows all the influences of classic Old World winemaking. The palate is rich and succulent with an appealing texture and displays outstanding primary fruit.

Handpicked grapes were whole bunch pressed and the juice cold settled for two days before being racked to barrels with light yeast. The wine was then cool fermented using both commercial and indigenous yeasts. This Chardonnay spent 10 months in 100% French oak (22% new oak) and underwent 100% malolatic fermentation with weekly lees stirring. The finished wine was then racked, lightly fined and filtered prior to bottling in late-March 2009.

Riesling

This Riesling shows complex aromas of mandarin, pear, honeysuckle and orange blossom on the nose. The body has crisp citrus flavors, offset with spice and good length of finish. This wine has great cellaring potential and additional characters will develop in the bottle over time.

Riesling grapes from two different blocks were handpicked and combined. The grapes were whole bunch pressed using a bag press and then the juice was left to cold settle overnight, before being racked and inoculated with yeast.

Fermentation lasted several weeks with temperatures being maintained less than 13 degrees to retain optimum flavor. Once fermentation was complete the wine was sulphured, racked and blended. The wine was then lightly fined and cold and protein stabilized prior to sterile filtration and bottling in September 2008.

Pinot Gris

Floral and pear notes on the nose lead into a richly textured palate of nashi pear, citrus and spice flavors. The long finish is balanced by fine acidity.

First vintage fruit from Legends (Legends Vineyard, Felton Road) was hand-harvested.  One tank of the Legends juice was chilled with daily lees stirring for four days.  It was then racked taking light lees to blend with the second tank of Legends juice which was settled for one night and then racked clean to blend.  A portion of this juice went to a neutral French Oak barrel.  The blended Legends juice was warmed naturally to 14ºC and innoculated with an aromatic yeast before undergoing cool fermentation until optimal balance was achieved.

The fruit from Annika’s (Annika’s Vineyard, Wanaka Road) was hand-harvested with 50% left on skins overnight while the balance was cold settled overnight and racked with light lees.  The fruit with extended skin contact was racked cleanly.  The two Annika’s components were blended, warmed naturally to 14ºC and fermented using aromatic yeast.  A percentage of this juice was fermented in two neutral French Oak barrels.

The three barrels were stirred regularly after the peak of fermentation and then blended. The two separate tank blends were blended in August and underwent cold and protein stabilization before being lightly fined with isinglass and sterile filtered before bottling.

Sauvignon Blanc

For her 6th birthday, our niece Stella Paris Columbia B. Ramage who lives in Sydney and loves art had a wine named after her. This is a single vineyard, Gibbston fruit.

Stella

Stella

A nose of passionfruit, gooseberry and capsicum aromas lead to a lively palate displaying good balance and zesty acidity. Best served lightly chilled.

Sauvignon Blanc grapes were handpicked and then was de-stemmed and crushed prior to gentle pressing. The resulting juice was cool stainless steel fermented to retain fruit character. The wine was left on yeast lees for two months to help with mouth feel and complexity. The resulting wine was fined with milk casein prior to filtration and bottling.

"from my table to yours"

“from my table to yours”

This week on the Radio Show© WineGuyMike™ “The Long and Winding Road” to Waitiri Creek Winery

Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; the full length conversation betwen Paula and WineGuyMike http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/12/11/wine-guy-mike-for-1211/ If you are using Internet Explorer this podcast won’t be available until mid-day Monday; technical problem.

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine and wine accessory gifts located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© perhaps Paul McCartney said it best on the Beatles Let It Be album; “The long and winding road, That leads to your door, Will never disappear, I’ve seen that road before, It always leads me here, Lead me to your door”.

"The Long and Winding Road" to Waitiri Creek Winery

"The Long and Winding Road" to Waitiri Creek Winery

Paula Ramage and her husband Allistar Ward have traveled extensively and lived abroad in different places throughout the world but home for them is the Central Otago wine region on the South Island of New Zealand.  This is the southernmost grape growing region in the world, but they produce very good wine.  Paula grew up in Alexandra and the Ward family farmed for many years on Malaghan’s Road, near Arrowtown.  Last week’s blog provided an overview of New Zealand as a wine country; http://wp.me/pFhHw-Ao  This is a land that is breathtakingly beautiful and produces some of the finest single varietal wines available. 

Paula Ramage has had at least 5 careers that she can recall but in spending time with her on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this week I’ll forevermore think of her as Ambassador of New Zealand and the New Zealand wine industry.  Needless to say she is a terrific spokesperson and extremely knowledgeable about her country and the wine industry in New Zealand and throughout the world.  Paula handles all of Waitiri Creek’s administrative business and development of offshore markets, a natural for a “reformed barrister”.  She has a lovely Kiwi accent that you cannot help loving too.

Allistar Ward is a merchant banking consultant full time, although he makes time to focus on vineyard development and as Paula puts it, “he juggles all the balls and keep them in the air”.

Viticulture Crew, Mark and Jason

Viticulture Crew, Mark and Jason

Jason Thomson is their very accomplished viticulturist along with his team Mark Naismith and Scott Culpan who run the day to day operations.  Interestingly the Waitiri Creek winemaker is a woman, Jen, from the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  As I mentioned last week many winemakers are now traveling winemakers who work in the Northern Hemisphere during its summer months and the Southern Hemisphere during their summer.  With the Willamette and Central Otago sharing similar latitudes with a focus on cool weather grape varietals it is a natural for winemakers like Jen.

Shanagolden Block in Summer

Shanagolden Block in Summer

In 1993 Paula and Allistar purchased their first vineyard the Shanagolden Block in Gibbston and planted Chardonnay in 1994.   The northerly facing block was ideal for sustainable viticulture and the lower half of this area provided a perfect location for the future wine tasting venue.

The Shanagolden Block was originally settled in 1867 by James Leslie, a Scot who had emigrated to New Zealand at the age of 17.  He and his partner, Thomas Kinross followed the Dunstan gold rush.  Kinross established the Gibbston store and Post Office and James Leslie was the butcher and baker but also continued to prospect for gold.

The vineyard has a micro-climate that produces ripe fruit earlier than most in the general area.  The soil composition is made up of glacial deposits and free draining alluvial soil matter (scheist).  This terrior is well suited to the cool weather grape varietals that Waitiri Creek produces.  This is where Jens’s Willamette Valley winemaking experience really shines.

Waitiri Creek’s portfolio of wines includes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.  The grape vines  of Waitiri Creek are all hand pruned and hand harvested.  New Zealand is aiming for all of its vineyards to be sustainably accredited by the end of 2012.  Compliance currently stands at about 93% – Waitiri Creek has been fully sustainable for some years.  Another interesting fact about New Zealand wines, 75% of the bottles are all screw tops.  The Kiwi’s are an environmentally conscience country and I applaud them for this effort.

Chardonnay Grape Harvest

Chardonnay Grape Harvest

The first vintage of Chardonnay was produced in 1998 and full production of three different varietals in 1999.   In 1996  Paula and Allistar decided that an old church building would serve as the Waitiri Creek tasting room, they needed a structure that would be harmonious with the terroir of the Shanagolden vineyard.  So a search which led them all over the lower part of the South Island, culminating in a visit to Wangaloa, near Kaitangata in 1998.  On first sight, the former Wangaloa Presbyterian Church would have sent less hardy souls running in the opposite direction….but not Paula and Allistar.  Negotiations began with the local community and ownership of the church was secured a year later.

Cellar Door

Cellar Door

The Waitiri Creek tasting room just celebrated its 10th anniversary at its new vineyard home.   This former Presbyterian church, built in 1893 was moved to its new location at Waitiri Creek 300km in one piece on the Shanagolden Block in 2000.

I want to thank my new friend Paula Ramage for sharing this rich history of the Central Otago wine region, New Zealand, and the Waitiri Creek Winery with the WineGuyMike™ audience.  From my home in Montana to the “The Long and Winding Road” down under, Happy Holidays to my friends in New Zealand and Waitiri Creek.

Waitiri Creek Wines

One of the keys to increased demand for Waitiri Creek wines is consistant quality.   Waitiri Creek has been recognized at domestic and international competitions every year since 1999 across their entire portfolio.  Their expansion into Bannockburn with the purchase of additional Central Otago fruit has now expanded their portfolio to include Rosé, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

Pinot Noir

Waitiri Creek Pinot Noir 2007 The nose shows rich varietal layers of cherry and plums supported by an earthy complexity. The depth of fruit on the nose continues on the palate supported by a fine tannin structure, good integration of oak and a length of flavor that lingers on the tongue.

The nose displays complex notes of stewed cherries, cedar and mushrooms. This Pinot Noir shows the elegance of the 2008 vintage with a bright garnet hue and the perfume of violets and rose petals. The fruit driven palate has flavors of wild raspberries with hints of cinnamon, red cherries and succulent plums. On the finish there is a note of thyme and mushrooms. The silky tannins are woven seamlessly into a structure balanced by savory French oak and alcohol.

Rose

Rich strawberry and raspberry aromas dominate the nose and are supported by perfumed floral notes. The palate shows good berry fruit weight with strawberry and white peach aided by creamy texture. This wine is well balanced with a long, lingering, strawberry finish.

Chardonnay

Made in a fruit-driven New World style, this wine shows all the influences of classic Old World winemaking. The palate is rich and succulent with an appealing texture and displays outstanding primary fruit.  

Handpicked grapes were whole bunch pressed and the juice cold settled for two days before being racked to barrels with light yeast. The wine was then cool fermented using both commercial and indigenous yeasts. This Chardonnay spent 10 months in 100% French oak (22% new oak) and underwent 100% malolatic fermentation with weekly lees stirring. The finished wine was then racked, lightly fined and filtered prior to bottling in late-March 2009.

Riesling

This Riesling shows complex aromas of mandarin, pear, honeysuckle and orange blossom on the nose. The body has crisp citrus flavors, offset with spice and good length of finish. This wine has great cellaring potential and additional characters will develop in the bottle over time.

Riesling grapes from two different blocks were handpicked and combined. The grapes were whole bunch pressed using a bag press and then the juice was left to cold settle overnight, before being racked and inoculated with yeast.

Fermentation lasted several weeks with temperatures being maintained less than 13 degrees to retain optimum flavor. Once fermentation was complete the wine was sulphured, racked and blended. The wine was then lightly fined and cold and protein stabilized prior to sterile filtration and bottling in September 2008.

Pinot Gris

Floral and pear notes on the nose lead into a richly textured palate of nashi pear, citrus and spice flavors. The long finish is balanced by fine acidity.

First vintage fruit from Legends (Legends Vineyard, Felton Road) was hand-harvested.  One tank of the Legends juice was chilled with daily lees stirring for four days.  It was then racked taking light lees to blend with the second tank of Legends juice which was settled for one night and then racked clean to blend.  A portion of this juice went to a neutral French Oak barrel.  The blended Legends juice was warmed naturally to 14ºC and innoculated with an aromatic yeast before undergoing cool fermentation until optimal balance was achieved.

The fruit from Annika’s (Annika’s Vineyard, Wanaka Road) was hand-harvested with 50% left on skins overnight while the balance was cold settled overnight and racked with light lees.  The fruit with extended skin contact was racked cleanly.  The two Annika’s components were blended, warmed naturally to 14ºC and fermented using aromatic yeast.  A percentage of this juice was fermented in two neutral French Oak barrels.

The three barrels were stirred regularly after the peak of fermentation and then blended. The two separate tank blends were blended in August and underwent cold and protein stabilization before being lightly fined with isinglass and sterile filtered before bottling.

Sauvignon Blanc

For her 6th birthday, our niece Stella Paris Columbia B. Ramage who lives in Sydney and loves art had a wine named after her. This is a single vineyard, Gibbston fruit.

Stella

Stella

A nose of passionfruit, gooseberry and capsicum aromas lead to a lively palate displaying good balance and zesty acidity. Best served lightly chilled.

Sauvignon Blanc grapes were handpicked and then was de-stemmed and crushed prior to gentle pressing. The resulting juice was cool stainless steel fermented to retain fruit character. The wine was left on yeast lees for two months to help with mouth feel and complexity. The resulting wine was fined with milk casein prior to filtration and bottling.

Be sure to check out New Zealand wines from my show Sponsor Liquid Planet, “Best of Beverage”, in the Heart of Downtown Missoula.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

"Wines from Way Down Under" this week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©

Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/12/04/wine-guy-mike-for-december-3/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors  

    

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

Sleep City Missoula, give the gift of sleep this holiday season  www.SleepCity.com

Liquid Planet “Best of Beverage” and a great place to find your holiday wine and wine accessory gifts located in the heart of downtown Missoula.

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana. 

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©  I’m enthused to share with you information about a little known wine region that is Down Under, and I mean really Down Under.  This little know wine country I’m referring to is located on the South Island of New Zealand.  Central Otago is the southernmost wine country in the world.

New Zealand is known for its naturally beautiful coastline, majestic mountains, rolling hills and desirable weather, especially if you grow grapes and make wine.  If you think Lord of The Rings and about extreme bungee jumping this really captures the New World enthusiasm of winemaking in the land way down under.

New Zealand North and South Island Wine Regions

New Zealand North and South Island Wine Regions

 

In New Zealand there are two islands, North and South, that both produce magnificent wines.   There are 10 recognized wine regions within New Zealand, but five of them stand out as the recognized areas of importance.  The North Island of New Zealand has three major wine regions:

  1. Hawkes Bay that produce Bordeaux Blends, Chardonnay, and Syrah
  2. Martinsborough/Wairrarpa produces Pinot Noir
  3. Gisbourne is a Chardonnay region

The South Island includes the very well known wine region of Marborough and the lesser known wine country of Central Otago.  The famous Marlborough region is known throughout the world for their Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wine.  Central Otago produces Pinot Noir that is both distinct and a great example of wine that is true to the varietal standard.

The North Island’s climate is warmer and has much higher humidity than the South Island that enjoys hot dry summer days with cooler nights, particularly in the Central Otago region.  Autumns are crisp and cool while winters can be very snowy and cold.  Summer days are long and the winter days are short and at 45° latitude the Central Otago wine region is the most southerly grape growing region of the world.  The vast differences in climate between the North and South islands typically separates their grape harvest by 6-7 weeks.

Historically the economy of the Central Otago region has thrived on sheep farming, fruit orchards, and due to the natural majestic beauty of the South Island  skiing and tourism.  The steady growth of the wine industry is having a positive impact on the country’s economy.

New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir wines are today recognized as world class wines.  The winemaking industry is so young in New Zealand that it is just now beginning to understand the full potential of the soil and the weather.  There are over 25 different grape varietals planted in the various wine countries of New Zealand, all with great potential.  75% of all grape vines in New Zealand are less than 10 years old.  Pinot Gris and Syrah are two varietals that are up and coming to watch for from this land way down under.

Ninty Percent of the Sauvignon Blanc produced in New Zealand comes from the Marlborough wine region.  Over 50% of all the wineries in New Zealand are located in this area also.

New Zealand’s proximity to the International dateline provides its grapes the first place in the world for the vineyards to bask in the early morning sun.  Did you know that the wine produced in New Zealland is 80% white and 20% red?

To give you a little perspective on how young the wine country of New Zealand is in 1985 there were only 100 recognized wineries.  Today there are nearly 1,000 wineries in New Zealand and as I mentioned previously 75% of the vines are less than ten years old.  The first officially recorded vintage of wine made in New Zealand was in 1836.  But it was during the Gold Rush era of the 1860’s that growing grapes and the thought of winemaking began in earnest so they have been dabbling in winemaking for a long time.  It was in 1986 though the New Zealand government offered grape farmer’s cash subsidy to anyone of them who uprooted the high volume producing Muller Thurgau grapes and dedicate their land to producing high quality wine grape varietals of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir.  Make no mistake now their varietal wines are some of the best in the world.

In 1996 there were only 1,000 acres of vineyards dedicated to the Pinot Noir grapes, but today there are nearly 15,000 acres dedicated.  There will be much more in the near future though as the young winemakers of New Zealand have persisted and now better understand the Terroir of this beautiful land down under, some of the finest Pinot Noir in the world is being produced there.  In fact it is not uncommon to find winemakers from the United States whose focus is Pinot Noir and have either gone to school or interned in New Zealand.

New Zealand touts itself as the Sauvignon Blanc capital of the world.  These incredible wines are known for their aromatics.  New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s are often described as pungent wines that are a bit aggresive, herbaceous, tropical, with nuances of grapefruit and zesty lime flavors.  Some are even said to smell like cat pee.  How can you not love that, truly the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s are incredible wines that I encourage you to try.  Dog Point is one of my personal favorite Sauvignon Blanc wines.

Shanagolden vineyard, Waitiri Creek

Shanagolden vineyard, Waitiri Creek

Next week Paula Ramage co-owner of Waitiri Creek Winery will be joining me on the radio show.  Paula will be the first female winery owner featured on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© and I’m very excited to introduce you to her.  We are going to learn all about the wines of Waitiri Creek and the South Island of New Zealand in general.  Waitiri Creek produces Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Chardonnay wine of distinct character.  I’ll see you on the radio wine friends.

This week’s featured wines 2011 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc and 2010 Sherwood Estate Pinot Noir.  Both of these selections are available at Liquid Planet in the heart of Downtown Missoula.

2011 Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc

This wine has a straw green color in the glass.  The nose is an melody of aroma, experience the allure of tropical fruit, ripe citrus, lemongrass and wonderful passionfruit.  On the palate the Dog Point delivers subtle texture, crispness, nice acidity, and a hint of mineral.  This wine pairs nicely with seafood, pale mild cheeses, or white meats.  Drink now or cellar for up to three years.

2010 Sherwood Estate Pinot Noir

This very nice Pinot Noir from Sherwood Estate is a fruit forward wine lead by rich plum and earthy tones on the nose.  The palate has a sweet entry and a rich mouthfeel that is balanced and well structured, supported with refined tannins.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

Grape Farming the South Central Coast Wine Country of California with Nicholas Miller on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©

Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/09/11/wine-guy-mike-for-september-11/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© is 5th generation farmer Nicholas Miller.  The Miller family began farming in California growing lemons and avocados, but in the late 1960’s Nicholas’s Late Uncle and Father purchased land in the Santa Maria Valley AVA in the South Central Coast of California.

Originally Franciscan Missionaries from Mexico traveled North to what is now California in the late 18th century.  Wine was a daily staple and was part of a daily ritual with each of the missions.  The Padres planted vineyards that supported the mission’s use of wine.  Between 1848 – 1855 the California Gold Rush brought many Europeans to California and the focus on wine became even more important.

Farming grapes in the South Central Coast wine country region of California began in earnest in the early 1960’s when William De Mattie and Uriel J. Nielson bought 100 acres of cattle ranch followed by Bill Collins who planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sylvaner.  These vineyards were the first commercial operations in the Santa Maria Valley.

The Santa Maria Valley AVA is the Nothernmost area of Santa Barbara County, not to mention that it is one of the most unique viticulture areas in the world.  The Miller Families Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards are located in this unique Santa Maria Valley AVA.  What makes this area so unusual are the way the mountains run perpendicular to the coast as opposed to  all other mountain ranges in California that run parallel to the coast line.  This is the only occurrence of transverse mountain ranges on the coast of North or South America. The San Rafael mountains on the North and Solomon Hills on the South literally create a natural funnel of cool air and moisture that is like a pipeline to the Santa Maria Valley AVA.  This is a Region 1 zone with 1 being the coolest and Region 5 being the warmest.

The cool northwest maritime breezes and the Santa Maria pipeline push this cool moist air directly into the Bien Nacido Vineyards while Solomon hills is situated in the western most area on the Santa Maria Valley AVA and enjoys the constant cool breeze from the Pacific Ocean.  Being located in this Region 1 zone provides the grapes in this area the longest possible growing season or as its known, hang time, of any grapes in California.  What does this translate to in the bottle of wine you and I will enjoy; wines that are complex, nice acidity and a balance of fruit with intense flavor due to a naturally low yield.

The vineyards in this Santa Maria Valley AVA are planted mid-slope and plentiful with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals.  The Eastern area of this AVA supports Bordeaux and Rhone type varietals.

In 1969 the Miller family decided to get into the business of growing grapes and with their expertise of citrus and avocado orchards they had a good idea about where to grow grapes, in some of the best grape terrior in the world, the Santa Maria Valley AVA.  The Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards are known and respected world wide.

It was an honor to have grape farming expert and Thornhill Companies spokesperson(Miller Family Companies), Nicholas Miller, on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this week.  Nicholas was kind enough to walk me through the family operations. 

Let’s start with the Bien Nacido Vineyard; this vineyard is planted primarily with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Syrah. The original plantings came from stock grown by the University of California at Davis and grow on their own rootstock. Bien Nacido also has the distinction of being the first vineyard in California to grow cool climate Syrah.

Solomon Hills Vineyards is the most recently developed vineyard by the Miller family.  Soils in the Solomon Hills Vineyards are composed primarily of ocean floor sandy loams.  The maritime influence results in wines that are crisp, bright, and an elegant balance.  Two of the highest rated Pinot Noirs by Robert Parker Jr. have come from this vineyard in the Santa Maria valley AVA.

What I really took away from this story besides the fact that the Miller family produces world class grapes in their vineyards from the South Central Coast wine region is their level of commitment to the wine industry.

Thornhill companies which is the parent company umbrella of not only the vineyards but other Miller family companies that provide a complete array of  support facilities and services.   These facilities and services have been   made available to small boutique labels and larger winemakers alike.

Central Coast Wine Services supports the Wine Industry by providing a full Wine Service business.  This operation assists both grape growers and wineries by expanding their alternatives for fermenting, aging, storing, finishing, bottling, tasting with their clients, and storing their case goods production. In addition, the Miller family provides a quality wine laboratory, a retail delivery service, local consolidation, less expensive nationwide shipping, direct shipping to reciprocal states, and wine club operations that now can operate under a single roof.

Central Coast Wine Services has a truck size scale, a crusher-destemmer, multiple presses, almost 2,000,000 gallons of stainless steel tanks, space to store more than 10,000 barrels, two bottling lines, room for approximately 485,00 cases of wine, a small producers crush pad, a rail siding, numerous truck docks, a conference room with an attached kitchen for wine tasting, and space rented both to other wineries and wine related, services businesses, including one of the foremost wine labs in California, currently comprises over 250,000 square feet.

The remarkable growth of the Central Coast Wine Services has paralleled the growth and recognition of Central Coast wine production.  The Central Coast Wine Services has recently started a sister organization; The Paso Robles Wine Services, which is located in Paso Robles, to serve small and moderate size wineries in that area.

When I asked Nicholas to suggest a few great winemakers that you and I should watch for he had these recommendations to share:

Qupé; is dedicated to producing handcrafted Rhône varietals and Chardonnay from California’s Central Coast. They employ traditional winemaking techniques to make wines that are true to type and exhibit terrior. Their goal is to make wines with impeccable balance that can be enjoyed in their youth, yet because of the good acidity from cool vineyard sites can also benefit from ageing.  http://qupe.com/

Au Bon Climat; The winery has cultivated an international reputation for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Jim Clendenen, the “Mind Behind” Au Bon Climat, is recognized worldwide for his classically-styled wines (in addition to his Burgundian-focused ABC wines, Jim is also highly regarded for his Italian and other French varietals). In 1989 and 1990 Au Bon Climat was on Robert Parker’s short list of Best Wineries in the World.  http://www.aubonclimat.com/about.html

Tantara; Since 1997, Tantara has been dedicated to producing the very finest Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah.  Located on the beautiful Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley (Santa Barbara County), our wines are sourced from top Central Coast growers and vineyard designate from vineyards such as Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills.  http://tantarawinery.com/

J Wilkes; They are dedicated to producing only small lots of handcrafted wines from the Santa Maria Valley while maintaining the natural delicacy of the grapes. Over the past two decades, J. Wilkes wines have been made by sourcing high quality fruit from Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Vineyards.  http://jwilkes.com/

I would like to thank Nicholas Miller for joining me on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this week and sharing the rich history and story from 5 generations of the Miller Family.  Congratulations Nicholas to you and your wife on the birth of your new baby, the next generation.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

Is it The Fountain of Youth? John Komes knows his Mom Flora is turning 100. Flora Springs Winery on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©

Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

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This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© I’m talking with a man who I truly admire.  From the very moment I began reading about John Komes I knew there was a great story that would ensue.  Today I’m going to share that story with you; this is a story about entrepreneurial Americana that resonates very deeply with me.  As we say in my Italian family the Komes clan is all about La Famiglia.

Flora Springs Winery

Flora Springs Winery

Let’s turn back the clock nearly seven decades and talk a little bit about how this incredible wine story even came to be.  John Komes’s Father Jerry was the President of the Bechtel Corporation.  The Bechtel Corporation who is a giant in the construction industry is headquartered in the San Francisco Bay area.  John’s Mother Flora was born in Hawaii and moved to the San Francisco Bay area after finishing high school in order to attend nursing school.  It was here that Jerry and Flora first met when they were set up on a blind date.  This is where it all began but Flora insisted on getting her nursing degree and securing gainful employment before she would consent to marriage even though Jerry knew that she was “the one”.

Jerry and Flora Komes

Jerry and Flora Komes

Jerry and Flora accomplished great things together as a team including a family of three children, eight grandchildren, and fifteen great-grandchildren.  In the mid-seventies Jerry retired from the Bechtel Corporation to the Napa Valley.  A few of Jerry’s friends had bought places there so Jerry and Flora found a property there that was an old abandoned winery or as it is referred to as a “Ghost Winery”. 

Historic Flora Springs Ghost Winery

Historic Flora Springs Ghost Winery

The winery originally dates back to the 19thCentury.  This amazing wine property has natural springs that have never ceased to flow.  Flora Komes turns 100 in November and it just makes me wonder if she found the “Fountain of Youth” in the Napa Valley at the Flora Springs Estate???  Why is that wine so good, could it be the water?  Flora attributes her health and longevity to the Merlot though.  Jerry passed at the age of 89 after 67 years of team work and marriage to Flora. This couple really set a great example of love, respect, and hard work.

John Komes

John Komes

John Komes following in his Father’s footsteps built a very successful construction business in the East Bay area of San Francisco.  John like his Father has a thirst for life and knowledge so anything he is interested you know he is going to learn it, own it, and execute it.  Yeah that’s what we call an entrepreneur in America, and that’s exactly what John Komes is.

Flora Springs Winery was founded in 1978.  It is located in the Rutherford Appellation right in the heart of the Napa Valley.  In the early 1970’s John’s wife Carrie sent him to a wine appreciation class as a gift.  John who really didn’t know much about wine at this point in his life was soon making wine at home.  Once John develops an interest in something he latches on to it, learns as much as he can about it by studying, listening, and then doing.  That’s right John took one look at the property Jerry and Flora purchased in 1977 and the light bulb lit up.  Can you say winery?  John can and with his wife, parents, sister and brother-in-law Flora Springs Winery was founded.

John moved his successful construction business to the Napa Valley where he specialized in construction and restoration of wine properties.  The business demands of Flora Springs soon required his full attention so John focused 100% on the winery.  He rebuilt, restored, and constructed all of the estate buildings and turned two abandoned cellars into wine facilities.  He also built wine caves to age the Flora Springs wines.  John oversees all aspects of the winery from wine production, to sales, and marketing.  But John did not do this alone which is the other piece of this wine story that I find so intriguing.  

Meet Julie Komes Garvey and Pat Garvey, John’s sister and brother-in-law.  One person didn’t build Rome and John being the entrepreneur and visionary that he is realized good help when he seen it.  Knowing all about family business I’m guessing the price for that help at the time was right too, ah start-up companies, sweat equity, well you get my point.

Julie Komes

Julie Komes

Julie Komes Garvey is also an original Founder and Owner of Flora Springs Winery.  She worked side by side with her brother John and her husband Pat Garvey in the vineyards to create the first vintages of Flora Springs wines.  As the success of Flora Springs grew, Julie’s efforts extended outside of the winery.  Soon after the inaugural release of the Flora Springs’ signature Bordeaux blend, Trilogy, Julie and a group of vintners founded the Meritage Association in 1988.  Their goal was to promote the elegance of American wine blends made with Bordeaux varietals as well as to create a category that would allow winemakers to make and market their blended wines.  In 2002 Julie left her position of Communications Director to pursue her love of education and divinity. Currently, she works as a spiritual director and teacher, dividing her time between counseling, teaching and leading retreats.  Julie is the proud mother of two sons. Her youngest son, Joe Garvey, lives and works in Seoul, Korea and shares her same enthusiasm for teaching. Her oldest son, Sean, is now following in her footsteps as Communications and Production Director of Flora Springs.  Julie’s brother and Flora Springs President John Komes jokes, “She may have left the winery, but she’s still in the spirits business!”

Pat Garvey

Pat Garvey

Let’s meet Pat Garvey, Founder, Owner, and Vineyard Director.  In 1978 Pat traded his Master’s Degree in Psychology and Counseling from the University of Santa Clara for a tractor – and the opportunity to launch a world-class Napa Valley winery with his wife, Julie Garvey, and his brother-in-law John Komes.  While Flora Springs started as a fledgling family business nearly three decades ago, today the Komes and Garvey families own and manage more vineyard acres , 650 in all,  than most family-owned and managed vineyard holders in the Napa Valley.  As Vineyard Director for all of Flora Springs’ vineyards since its inception, Pat has not only taken the responsibility to remain an innovator with meticulous farming practices to create world-class wines; he has done so with the overarching premise of stewardship and family values: all of Flora Springs’ vineyards are 100% sustainable.

Under Pat’s watch Flora Springs’ vineyards has received organic certification in 2008 from the California Certified Organic Farmers for 20% (120 acres) of Flora Springs’ vineyards.  An additional 240 acres were certified in 2010.  Sustainable practices include using manures from local chicken and turkey ranches, seasoned in the weather and then incorporated into the vineyards; planting cover crops that enrich the soil and provide habitat for beneficial bugs rather than spraying to eradicate troublesome bugs; and controlling water absorption by planting competing crops to absorb excess water in wetter soils.  Pat was also instrumental in getting Oakville and Rutherford recognized as sub-appellations in the Napa Valley. 

The Komes and Garvey families are true caregivers of the land they farm.  Terrior is extremely important to this family and every wine they produce is crafted to express the beauty, the unique soils, and the microclimate of their respective vineyard sites. 

Flora Springs Vineyards

Flora Springs Vineyards

Flora Springs’ now owns 650 acres of vineyards throughout the Napa Valley, including some of the region’s most coveted sub-appellations.  These include Rutherford, St. Helena, Oakville and Carneros.   Since the very beginning Flora Springs has incorporated sustainable farming practices in their vineyards.  360 acres of their vineyards are now certified-organic, that’s close to 40% of our estate vineyards, and accounts for nearly all of the grapes that go into their red wines.

Solar panels on the Rutherford Bench

Solar panels on the Rutherford Bench

Today the historical estate blends charm with state-of-the-art winery production techniques and environmentally conscious technology.  Inside the stone walls of our century old winery you will find specifically tailored stainless steel and concrete fermenters sized to match the blocks on each of their estate vineyards.  Beyond the stone archway of the cellar lays 1,000 linear feet of caves.  Carved in to the hillside, they provide an ideal and energy efficient environment for aging the Flora Springs wines.  The winery has installed 6,500 square feet of solar panels their most ambitious globally conscious upgrade yet.

Paul Steinauer

Paul Steinauer

Paul Steinauer, senior winemaker, and co-proprietor and vineyard director Pat Garvey, are committed to growing and hand crafting artisan wines that can be enjoyed young and vibrant or cellared and graceful.  ”The synergy they’ve created between the vineyard and winery is critical to Flora Springs wine producing success.

Nat Komes

Nat Komes

The next third-generation vintners Nat Komes and Sean Garvey, both of whom grew up at the winery washing barrels and sweeping floors, are now poised to take the helm.  Nat serves as General Manager and his philosophy is this; “The winery has enabled us to touch a lot of lives – our purpose is about wine, but it’s also about people, relationships and the joy of what’s shared around wine,”

Sean Garvey

Sean Garvey

Sean Garvey has also followed in his Father’s footsteps as Vineyard Foreman.  Sean formerly managed sales for Flora Springs on the east coast, then communications and production, now as Vineyard Foreman he works with his father in the Vineyard Department.  His studies abroad in the Basque Region of Spain brought home the importance of food and wine in making connections with people.

When I spoke with John this week I learned a lot about the dedication to producing great wines that is Flora Springs Winery commitment to the wine consumer.  Flora Springs has 35 years of experience in growing grapes in their vineyards and as John kiddingly said to me he has a name for every vine grown in the vineyards.  All kidding aside Flora Springs now knows every corner of their land: how the light falls in late August, where the soils change, and which vineyard blocks ripen earliest.  This identity of site dictates how they farm, and in turn, how they make the wine.  This respect of identity allows them to craft elegant and powerful wines that reflect the place from which they originate.

The Flora Springs Signature wines, Trilogy, Sauvignon Blanc “Soliloquy Vineyard” and Barrel Fermented Chardonnay are wines people tell stories over and tell stories about. Some bottles find their way into the cellars of exclusive restaurants and private libraries while others quickly become unforgettable memories.

Signature Wine Trilogy

Signature Wine Trilogy

Signature Wine Trilogy

The 2007 exhibits the entire classic Trilogy attributes with a lovely cassis and cherry bouquet as well as huge black fruit flavors that envelope the palate.  Each varietal is vital to the outcome – the Cabernet exhibits black cherry and dark cocoa character, while the Merlot carries these flavors to the back of the palate for an everlasting finish. Unrelenting with power and grace, the 2007 Trilogy, their 23rd release, beautifully marries the complexity and elegance of their earlier vintages with the sheer bravado of our favorite vintages during the late 90′s.

Signature Wine Sauvignon Blanc from the Soliloquy Vineyard in Oakville

Signature Wine Sauvignon Blanc

Signature Wine Sauvignon Blanc

Their Crossroads Vineyard in the heart of the Oakville appellation is a crown jewel in our collection of Napa Valley vineyards.  Though Crossroads is planted mostly to Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, two blocks of the vineyard are devoted to a varietal they absolutely cherish – Sauvignon Blanc.  Soliloquy Vineyard in Oakville is the fruit source for their very unique Sauvignon Blanc.  From two different clones – one certified by UC Davis as the “Soliloquy” Sauvignon Blanc clone, and the other the Sauvignon Musqué clone – they have created one wine of singular distinction.

Signature Wine Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

Signature Wine Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

Signature Wine Barrel Fermented Chardonnay

Flora Springs Barrel Fermented Chardonnay is Napa Valley history in a bottle. In 1980, at a time when Chardonnay was the true ambassador for wines from the New World, Flora Springs began its reign as one of the great Chardonnay producers from Napa Valley.  Disregarding trends, Flora Springs continues to craft its Barrel Fermented Chardonnay in a style that has inspired white wine producers and created loyal Chardonnay connoisseurs for the last 30 years.  The 2009 vintage offers rich flavors of peach and pear with a hint of pineapple on the palate.  In each vintage, they strive to find a balance between the rich flavors of our St. Helena and Oakville Chardonnay and the acidity and minerality of our Carneros fruit.  For 2009 they have further enhanced the wine by allowing 21% of the blend to go through malolactic fermentation.  You wouldn’t believe the excitement in the cellar when the final blend was passed around the table—tropical fruit, richness, complexity, spandex?—it’s 1980 all over again!

The Flora Springs name has become synonymous with perfectly balanced wines.  Look no further than their Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for great examples of hand crafted artisan wines that express both subtle nuances and bold Napa Valley fruit.

Flora Springs Napa Valley Cabernet

Flora Springs Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Flora Springs Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

This classic Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is ripe with flavors of black cherry and cocoa envelop the front of the mouth and move across the palate into a soft lingering finish. Each vintage they look to reveal the true character of our estate vineyards while using oak as an undertone, highlighting the inherent flavors.

Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot

Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot

Flora Springs Napa Valley Merlot

The Napa Valley Merlot is a favorite among seekers of soft, supple red wines ready to drink from the get go.  To celebrate the “born ready” exuberance of our Merlot, they’ve bottled it with a Stelvin closure.  The 2008 vintage shows full fruit characteristics of strawberry and cherry, with a hint of raspberry and spice.

It is so impressive in talking with John Komes and the inspiration from Flora Komes and the upcoming celebration in November of her 100 years of life.  Like any family business I’m sure there are trying times but on the whole these families from generation to generation have mentored one another with obvious love and respect.  The result is what happens in the bottle because they are caregivers of the land, servants of their community, a family and team that love what they do.  They make amazing wine that they share with you and I.

All the Flora Springs Cousins

All the Flora Springs Cousins

By the way I would be remiss in not mentioning that John Komes would like you and I to take a moment to send a card and note to Flora on her 100th Birthday on November 7th

John thank you for taking time to be a guest on my show.  I have tremendous respect for all that you have created and your visionary approach, style, and leadership.  Cheers to you my friend!

Please find a Flora Springs wine in your market.  These wines are fantastic and I recommend them for you. The Flora Springs wines in this flight receive The WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval©

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

The Art of Decanting and a wine that scores a touchdown every time with WineGuyMike™

Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5.  The live stream feed is online at www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© on both radio stations on Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MST.

Each week

WineGuyMike™  will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Sponsors                                                                                                                     

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at www.CiaoMambo.com

This week’s question was submitted by Deb Motl.

Q. Deb Motl asks; I have been wondering about the process of decanting verses just letting a bottle breathe.  Do you only need to decant older bottles of wine or is it beneficial for all red wines in general.  Also, would the new aerators achieve the same results as decanting?

A. Deb thank you for such an interesting question.  Here are my when’s, why’s, and suggestions, let’s hope these make some sense.  I’m also going to take the liberty to talk about some old school traditional decanting that I think you will find interesting too.

So let’s start with when I would use an aerator.

1. When spontaneous guests showed up.

2. When I’m drinking an average bottle of wine that is perhaps something I drink daily, these can always benefit from an aerator.

3. At a restaurant, doesn’t every wine geek travel with their wine aerator?  I know I do, LOL.

4. Aerators are typically fine to use with New World younger wines that are not aged Sur lie.  Lees are the sediment left behind in a bottle that is unfiltered as a result of being aged Sur lie.

When WineGuyMike wouldn’t use an aerator:

1. When I was serving or drinking a good quality wine.

2. When I ordered a good bottle of wine at a restaurant that decanted their wines.

Deb my reasoning is this; I believe that an average quality bottle of wine will benefit from being “whipped” and “oxygenated” by an aerator as it will bring out the best that bottle has to offer.  If unexpected guests show up you may feel the need to be immediately hospitable and open a bottle of wine to share with your guests.  In this case I would use an aerator. 

Many restaurants do not offer to decant your wine for you.  If they are wine focused they will have decanters and will offer to do this for you, after all they should do all they can to satisfy your dining experience.  The reality is that many establishments don’t decant and I would not hesitate to ask your server to use your wine aerator.  Be sure to offer to show them how to use the devise, many servers may be unfamiliar with them and they will appreciate your kindness in demonstrating how to use it.  With this approach they will be fully engaged in your dining experience with you.

Step away from the good to great bottle of wine with your aerator, why you might ask.  I don’t want my fruit bruised.  I mean this sincerely if you have a great bottle of wine you have probably made some special plans around this wine event even if it just you and your partner enjoying a great bottle of wine on a special occasion.  By all means use a decanter and aerate your wine with a decanter.  You will notice that when a wine is poured correctly by letting it pour into and gently grazing the side of the decanter bottle neck so the wine spreads itself onto the walls of the sphere within the body of the decanter.  While pouring the wine into the decanter you will not pour the sediment from the bottle into the decanter.  If you are using an aerator you may potentially blend the sediment into the wine thus potentially altering the juice from a high end bottle of wine.

If you have the opportunity to dine in an upscale restaurant that has a Master Sommelier on staff they have an almost ritualistic approach to decanting a wine properly.  First they will carry the wine from their wine cellar in a specially made basket.  The basket carries the wine at the same angle it was stored at in the wine cellar.  You will notice that the sommelier is very gentle as he brings the wine and places it on the table still lying prone in the basket.

The sommelier will gently wipe the dust from the top of the bottle to remove dust from the wine cellar.  They will now remove the foil cap from the bottle and place it in his or her jacket pocket and then once again gently wipe the exposed cork still in the bottle.  Now the cork removal will begin, but once again very gently and only about 80% of the way and then the sommelier will use his or her hand to gently express the cork.  They do this so the air hits the bottle slowly and does not cause the wine to spray out of the bottle.  Once the cork is removed with the bottle still in the basket in a prone position the sommelier will present the cork to the person who order this wonderful bottle of wine to go with their meals from this fine dining establishment.  

Once the guest has examined the cork visually to make sure the cork has not gone bad from being stored improperly and that the bouquet being expressed from the cork meets their approval the sommelier will now light the candle that has also has been placed at the table.  You will notice that the candle is of equal height of the decanter that is being used.  The sommelier will now very gently lift the bottle of wine from the basket and begin to gently and somewhat slowly pour the bottle of wine into the decanter.  While the wine is being poured the sommelier will have the candle placed under the bottles neck about an inch and a half away but yet close enough to the bottle so that they may see the wine passing from the bottle to the decanter.  This is done so if and when there is sediment in the bottle they will not allow that to pass into the decanter.  The bottle will then be place back onto the table with the sediment still remaining in the bottle and all the incredible wine in the decanter aerating and waiting to be poured into the glasses of those anxious and now completely tantalized palettes.

Deb that is the rest of the decanted story, cheers to you and your great question.

This week’s wine recommendation from WineGuyMike™ comes fromthe Wahluke Slope AVA which was established in 2006.   The Wahluke Slopes boundaries are the Columbia River on the west and south, and the Saddle Mountains to the north, with the Hanford Reach National Monument to the east.  This AVA is entirely within the Columbia Valley appellation and home to more than 20 wineries.  There are 5,652 planted grape acres in this area which represents about 15% of the wine grape acres in Washington State.  The Wahluke Slope has one of the driest, warmest climates in the state and produces Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Chenin Blanc as the main varietals from this area.

 Inspired by last week’s blog post I decided to go shopping for a wine from the Columbia Valley and came home with a Bordeaux blend from the Wahluke Slope AVA in Washington State; 2008 Desert Wind Ruah.  What a great find, this is a nicely balanced red wine blend driven by Merlot with an almost equal amount of Cabernet Sauvignon for a little backbone with a touch of Cabernet Franc squeezed in the middle to blend.

Desert Wind Ruah 2008 from the Wahluke Slope AVA in Washington State

Desert Wind Ruah 2008 from the Wahluke Slope AVA in Washington State

This is a medium bodied wine that is a bit tannic with an ever so slight hint of vanilla, concentrated fruit that opens up all the way to the finish line.  On the kick off this wine hits you right up front with red currant, and then shifts to black cherry.  The tannin picks up right on the fifty yard line and then it’s a strawberry and raspberry hand off that runs all the way to the goal line, but it doesn’t stop there it runs through the tunnel and all the way into the locker room.

 This wine has nice viscosity, a clean, clear, dark red cherry jello coloring that is as pretty to look at as it is to drink.  It is very nice to drink now but I would recommend lying this down for two years and it will really finish in the bottle what the winemaker began.  If you can’t resist like me I would recommend decanting this gem from the Wahluke Slope, this wine does have a sense of place, terrior to you.  Thanks to Desert Wind Winery for producing really nice affordable wines.

The Desert Wind Winery is an amazing destination wine property the you will not want to miss visiting.  Please visit their website www.desertwindwinery.com to see what I’m talking about.

 Desert Wind Winery

2258 Wine Country Road
Prosser, WA 99350-6732
(509) 786-7277

WineGuyMike’s™ food pairing with the 2008 Desert Wind Ruah

Peppered Roast Beef

 Ingredients:

5 pounds beef round roast, all visible fat removed
2 tablespoons acceptable vegetable oil
1 teaspoon fresh, coarsely ground black pepper
1 medium onion, sliced
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 large stalk celery, sliced
1/2 cup dry red table wine

Directions:

 Preheat oven to 350º F.
Rub meat with oil and pepper, and place in an open roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer so tip reaches center of thickest part. Arrange onion, carrot and celery slices around meat. Pour wine over meat and vegetables.
Place in oven and cook uncovered 1 1/2 hours, or until meat thermometer registers desired degree of doneness.
If more liquid is needed, baste with additional wine during the roasting period. Do not use drippings from the roast for basting.
Skim fat from pan juices or remove juices with bulb baster and discard fat. Remove meat from pan and slice thin. Spoon pan juices over meat and serve immediately.

Calories: 267 kcal
Protein: 40 gm
Carbohydrates: 1 gm
Total Fat: 10 gm
Saturated Fat: 3 gm
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 gm
Monounsaturated Fat: 4 gm
Cholesterol: 106 mg
Sodium: 82 mg
Potassium: 597 mg
Calcium: 12 mg

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"