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Wine: To Blend or Not Blend

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Red Wine Blending
Most casual wine drinkers are surprised to find that wine varietals, or non-blended wine doesn’t have to be made with 100% of the same grape. Though the immediate reaction may be one of dismay, blending plays a huge role in winemaking and shouldn’t be dismissed as some ploy.

In the United States, wine has to contain at least 75% of a single grape type to be considered a varietal. The rules are more strict in Europe at 80%. Some countries like Argentina, Australia, Chile, and New Zealand have even higher same grape requirements.

In general, wine blends contain at least half of one type of grape varietal.

Blending wine is an important part of winemaking. Many consider it the “art” piece of making wine. Blending makes wine more complex allowing the vintner to enhance the flavors, aroma, and color of the wines being produced. Ross Szabo said it best in an article published on The Huffington Post in 2012:
“Blending is used to maximize the expression of a wine. It can enhance aromas, color, texture, body and finish, making it a more well-rounded and complex wine. If a wine doesn’t have a strong scent, for example, a winemaker can add five percent of a more potent smelling grape and can experiment with different types of varietals coming from other vineyards. They could have been aged in oak barrels, fermented in various kinds of vessels or just harvested in different phases of ripeness.”

Most red wines will have some type of blended in element even if it is considered a varietal. Some grapes however, like Pinot Noir, are traditionally not blended. The same is true of most white wine.

If you’re curious about your wine check the label. Visit the wineries website for additional information. Blending is a vital part of the wine-making process and blended wines can be as complex as any varietal.

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Featured Wine: Adler Fels Yosemite Red Artisan Blend

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Yosemite Red Blend WineFrom multi vintages, Adler Fels sourced this blend comprised of Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot and Petite Sirah. Ripe, lush, full-bodied and fruit-forward this Artisan Red Blend delivers ripe red berry and plum aromas layered with a hint of toasted oak in the nose. On the palate the dark red fruit marries with lingering cassis flavors and toasty oak, culminating with a lush full finish. Proceeds from the sale of National Parks Wine Collection will contribute $2.00 per bottle to efforts of the Foundation, helping protect, support and enrich America’s National Parks.

Featured in our Premium Wine Club while supplies last.

Learn More About The National Parks Wine Collection

Learn More About National Park Foundation

Learn More About Adler Fels Winery

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National Parks Wine Collection: Wines With A Cause

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Yosemite Wine
A charitable collaboration between Adler Fels Winery and the National Park Foundation, proceeds from the sale of National Parks Wine Collection will contribute $2.00 per bottle to efforts of the Foundation, helping protect, support and enrich America’s National Parks.

Featuring the photographs of Mark Burns, these wines celebrate the beauty of America’s national parks while helping support their preservation.This partnership allows consumers to give back to the parks that enrich lives, by contributing $2.00 per bottle to the National Park Foundation.The funds generated will assist the Foundation in their ongoing mission of preserving these national treasures. America’s national parks receive over 280 million visits each year.

Featured in our Premium Wine Club while supplies last.

Learn More About The National Parks Wine Collection

Learn More About National Park Foundation

Learn More About Adler Fels Winery

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Featured Winery: Adler Fels Winery – Santa Rosa, California

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Adler Fels WineryAdler Fels Winery is nestled 1,500 feet above Sonoma Valley in the picturesque Mayacamas Mountains in Northern California. The mountaintop location commands a panoramic view of the Valley of the Moon and beyond to California’s dramatic coastline. The winery features state-of-the-art fermentation tanks and storage for 700 wine barrels. Adler Fels also operates a modern wine production and bottling facility in Santa Rosa, California. From the beginning, Adler Fels always believed in great vineyards – but just not in owning them. They recognized that their real talent was in winemaking, and growing and farming grapes was best left to the pros (viticulture is a very specialized field). Instead, they focused on winemaking, developing long-term partnerships with growers who shared their commitment to quality and vision of making world-class wine.

A charitable collaboration between Adler Fels Winery and the National Park Foundation, proceeds from the sale of National Parks Wine Collection will contribute $2.00 per bottle to efforts of the Foundation, helping protect, support and enrich America’s National Parks.

Featured in our Premium Wine Club while supplies last.

Learn More About The National Parks Wine Collection

Learn More About Adler Fels Winery

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Featured Wine: Bonifácio & Fils 2013 Brioso Vinho Tinto – Portugal

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2013 Brioso Vinho TintoFounded in 1963 by António Francisco Bonifácio, Bonifácio & Fils has always focused their efforts to achieve the best quality with their products and they do this by managing their wines from the vineyards to the consumers’ doors. The Bonifacio family has hands on approach to their vineyards, wine production and bottling, that are all done in the west part of Portugal. The winery has benefited over the years, of numerous improvements and the introduction of recent technologies. A modern bottling line was also installed to increase production to the level that allows for export.

The Brioso Vinho Tinto just like Lomba da Fazenda was designed specifically for export and features a fruit forward new world backbone along with old world Portuguese accents. Grapes used for this blend are Castelao, Tinta Miuda, and Aragonez. Castelao grapes make intense and aromatic wines with red berry and floral aromas. It also typically produces smooth and well balanced wines with good aging potential as a result of its fondness for oak. When added to Tinta Miuda, and Aragonez the resulting wine quite quaffable on its own which is perfect for the American palate. This traditional Portuguese blend produced a very attractive dark ruby red wine with layers and layers of smoky berries, dried cherry, blueberry and spicy earthy notes. It combines concentrated dark cherry and blackcurrant flavors that is complex and full on the palate. Soft tannins and a long finish complete this gem. The wine is ready to be used now. However it will continue to age gracefully for up to four years. Enjoy at room temperature with spicy meat dishes, steaks, lamb chops and suckling pig.

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Featured Wine: Bonifácio & Fils 2013 Brioso Vinho Branco – Portugal

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2013 Brioso Vinho BrancoWith its treasure trove of indigenous grape varieties, diverse geography and climate, Portugal produces world-class table wines. In his latest book, The World’s Greatest Wine Estates, Robert Parker mentions “the potential for creating exciting table wines is unquestionable”. While many American wine consumers are familiar with Port, far fewer are familiar with the excellent table wines now available. Since the mid-eighties Portugal has been undergoing a quiet revolution in quality and their efforts are starting to pay off for consumers who seek great wines that pair well with food. Founded in 1963 by António Francisco Bonifácio, Bonifácio & Fils has always focused their efforts to achieve the best quality with their products and they do this by managing their wines from the vineyards to the consumers’ doors. The Bonifácio family has hands on approach to their vineyards, wine production and bottling, that are all done in the west part of Portugal. The winery has benefited over the years, of numerous improvements and the introduction of recent technologies. A modern bottling line was also installed to increase production to the level that allows for export.

This Lomba da Fazenda Vinho Blanco was designed specifically for export and features a fruit forward new world backbone along with old world Portuguese accents. Grapes used for this blend are indigenous Portuguese white grapes Fernão Pires (also known as Maria Gomes), Boal Alicante, and Seara Nova. The wine boasts a lovely citric yellow color. On the nose the wine is quite floral with lime and citrus aromas. The palate is fresh and fruity with more citrus flavors along a well-balanced mouthfeel then a crisp finish. It pairs well with many foods from grilled fish and shellfish to light cheeses.

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Featured Winery: Bonifácio & Fils – Portugal

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Bonifacio Wines

With its treasure trove of indigenous grape varieties, diverse geography and climate, Portugal produces world-class table wines. In his latest book, The World’s Greatest Wine Estates, Robert Parker mentions “the potential for creating exciting table wines is unquestionable”. While many American wine consumers are familiar with Port, far fewer are familiar with the excellent table wines now available. Since the mid-eighties Portugal has been undergoing a quiet revolution in quality and their efforts are starting to pay off for consumers who seek great wines that pair well with food.

Founded in 1963 by António Francisco Bonifácio, Bonifácio & Fils has always focused their efforts to achieve the best quality with their products and they do this by managing their wines from the vineyards to the consumers’ doors. The Bonifácio family has hands on approach to their vineyards, wine production and bottling, that are all done in the west part of Portugal. The winery has benefited over the years, of numerous improvements and the introduction of recent technologies. A modern bottling line was also installed to increase production to the level that allows for export.

Visit the Winery Website.

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Featured Wine: Bodegas Verdúguez 2013 Bella Espanola Tinto Seco – Spain

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2013 Bella Espanola Tinto Seco Bodegas Verdúguez is located in the heart of La Mancha, in Villanueva de Alcardete. They are just 120 km away from Madrid. The winery is a 4th generation small family business that has been slowly upgraded over the years. Bodegas Verdúguez will always remain true to their Spanish and La Mancha roots. Based in Don Quixote’s central Spain, La Mancha has 265 wineries. The main white grape grown is Airen. The main red grape grown is Cencibel, which is known as the popular grape Tempranillo. Other grapes that thrive in this region, said to be “nine months of winter and three months of hell,” are Viura, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc used to produce white wines. Red grapes like Grenache, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon contribute to red wine production.

This Tinto Seco is comprised of 50% Cencibel (Tempranillo) and 50% Garnacha (Grenache). This combination along with modern vinification techniques has produced a great summer quaffer. Aromas of spices, cherry, almond and marinated pepper, follow through on a bright, but soft entry to a fruity-yet-dry lightly bodied with tangy citrus and spice notes (very Pinot Noir-esque).The wine finishes with a long smooth finish which is achieved without exposure to oak — fermentation and aging are done completely in stainless steel tanks. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled (about 65º), it provides a refreshing counterpoint to a range of simply prepared dishes, from grilled salmon and broiled or grilled chicken, to steaks and chops served on the patio. Drink now through 2016.

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Featured Wine: Vin du Lac 2012 Vie! Columbia Valley Viognier – Lake Chelan, Washington

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2012 Vie! Columbia Valley ViognierAt Vin du Lac, the winemaking mission is driven by their desire to establish Lake Chelan as one of the recognized centers of ultra-premium wine production on the West Coast. Since their first vintage in 2002, they have steadily increased production and their use of Chelan Valley wine grapes. They have also continually upgraded their facilities and equipment to incorporate the best of modern wine-making technology that is consistent with Vin du Lac’s dedication to remaining small-scale winemakers. All wine grapes at Vin du Lac are hand harvested. All wine lots are fermented in small batches (1.5 ton red fermenters are typical). All red wines are true barrel-aged wines. They do not use any oak alternatives in any of their wines. Although Vin du Lac has grown significantly from that first 2002 crush, they will never grow so large that they have to abandon boutique production techniques and values. That is their winemaking promise, and the essence of their commitment to quality.

Vin du Lac’s quality shines through with their Vie! Viognier. Sourced from 100% Columbia Valley Viognier, this small production white truly showcases the quality coming out of the Chelan Valley. The wine is fresh and crisp carrying notes of green apple and pear with a subtle characteristic Chelan Valley minerality. The floral nose and subtle complexity makes this a match with lighter fare. Grilled shrimp, scallops, mild flavored fish and poultry dishes will complement this white well. Keep the seasonings mild. Drink now through 2016.

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Featured Wine: Lodmell Cellars 2009 Sublime – Columbia Valley, WA

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Lodmell Cellars 2009 SublimeLodmell Vineyards is a 30 acre Estate Vineyard on the lower Snake River. This was the inspiration in designing their label with a snake. Originally farmers and grape growers, the knowledge of farming has been passed down two generations to the current owners. Selling grapes to some of the most prestigious winemakers in the Walla Walla Valley gave winemaker Andrew Lodmell a unique perspective on what it takes to make good wine. Over the past 7 years he has had the opportunity to surround himself with some of the best wine minds and that immediately paid dividends with his first releases. Today, Andrew and his sister, Kristie continue to produce some of Walla Walla’s finest Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Each wine is hand crafted and barrel aged in small lots. Additional Lodmell Cellars varietals include Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Estate Saignee (rose), Estate Syrah, Sublime (Red Blend), Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and Port.

The 2009 Sublime is a red blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Carmenère. All fruit is from the Columbia Valley and was hand harvested. After fermentation, the wine spent an impressive 33 months in French oak barrel (20% new). Merlot based but this is a dense, chewy wine for Cabernet Sauvignon lovers. This brilliant blend has great balance and nuance, displaying light herbal tones that lend an air of complexity to dried cherry, cassis and subtle oak flavors. The tannins are pronounced yet fuzzy-soft and it finishes with a blend of mineral and sour Bing cherry. A lot of life in this beauty, it should keep for another five years.

Featured in our Washington Wine Club and Washington Wine Gift Club.