This Week in Wine February 10, 2019 – James Melendez

“I just can’t stop the rain” Tina Turn sang multiple of decades ago.  And this is the week that the rain is a bit much for me.  For several winters in San Francisco there was not a drop of rain during winter–and yes it was an issue.  But it seems in terms of weather pattern it is a state of only wet or only dry.  Moderation or a wider distribution of rain seems not possible.

****

I remember speaking to a wine maker in December and I remember saying when will we see 15% and above ABV Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs?  He said he hoped never.  I said I think we will see them…  I dread the notion though.  And just as I had predicted I would taste a 15% ABV wine sooner rather than later.  I am A-OK with Zinfandel being in 15% or above–not loving it usually but I can accept it.  I actually find Zinfandel lower than 15% much more appreciable.

15% and above Pinot Noir is not something I want to experience routinely.  I do not accept–“well.. it doesn’t taste hot” I do taste the heat and it is on the initial palate exposure that it is completely understood as highly alcoholic.

****

This week I was excited to reach 400k clicks on my wine channel on YouTube.  I won’t belabour that milestone but for me I like to highlight it because it is excruciatingly hard to get there.

 

****

In other news, I have been more proactive in requesting from producers wines to sample–the old way of crossing fingers and hoping someone reads your mind is terribly ineffective.  One producer I reached to this week said they knew who I was and appreciated positive comments on past vintages of their wine.  I did give a compelling reason and not the “just give me a bottle” but more of a media kit reason with data points of performance and I was told “no.” And I paraphrase “but if you get a high profile publication then we will consider giving a bottle.”   What that told me was this person and I suspect some  producers see only print as valuable and all other media as useless.  I am not going to pitch to a publication on a potential yes of a sample bottle and do that for wines that most likely won’t make any publications future printings.  C’est la Vin.

More wine news… next week!

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:

TWITTERFACEBOOKVIMEOLINKEDFLICKRpinterestWordpressYOUTUBE

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This Week – February 3, 2019 – James Melendez

This weeks adventures were an experience of Sonoma County wines.

I had never been to Williams Selyem on Westside Road.  I had passed in front for years and didn’t realise that I had passed so often.  The winery is not marked except a street address listed on gate/fence area.  I, of course, have been tasting their wines for years.  It is not just a place to visit unless you are on the list.  Visit the site to see how you can get on the list.

The very nicely modern architecture of Alex Ceppi of D.arc Group was lead architect of this very handsome facility.  I had never tasted their San Benito County Pinot Noir from Vista Verde Vineyard and I had never tasted Williams Selyem Zinfandel – a very nice tasting new wines.  A nicely enjoyable visit and wondrous tasting of their wines.

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

****

I was also delighted to visit Pedroncelli in Dry Creek Valley–I had visited but I had not been there in quite some time.  A rainy day is great day to visit this and all wineries.  Pedroncelli has been family owned and operated for 92 years.  If you are in Dry Creek Valley it is an outstandingly friendly place to visit and can be easily accessed on 101 if you are coming from or to the City.

I sat down and tasted through in a very civilized and relaxed manner with the always welcoming Ed St. John and Julie Pedroncelli St. John.  I also got to meet Dirk the Dog–a very cute and kind dog–Dirk the Big White Dog.  I appreciate the wines are certified sustainable and great care for all their wines and showcasing diversity of the rich estate wines that is Dry Creek Valley.  Pedroncelli has a thoughtful array of wines which include: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Red Wine Blend, Petite Sirah and Vintage Port.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come visit, no reservations required for the tasting room.  For additional tasting opportunities a reservation may be required.  Take a look at the web page to plan your desired experience.  Come as you are and enjoy Dry Creek Valley and Pedroncelli.

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a small but nice tasting of Wine Australia San Francisco tasting in Dog Patch at the Pearl.  This was organised by wine region versus produce hence wines could be on several tables.  A nice space and nice showing I felt when compared with the Australia Harvest Festival in 2005 at the Ferry Building there was a greater representation of producers.  While this was long, long ago in a galaxy quite far away it has stuck with me.  I do not believe there was another Australia Harvest Festival in SF after this point.  I do recall at the last Australia Harvest Festival that Chain of Ponds, Gala, Plantagenet, Sons of Eden, all Penfolds wines and Peter Lehmann were all there.

I love Australian wines and I do think there is a very wide open market for the US.  While Australia is often thought of for Shiraz it is quite diverse in it’s very strong presence of almost all commercially produce wine grapes.  Not just producing all commercial wine grapes–very strong producers.

Until next week–have a great week!

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:

TWITTERFACEBOOKVIMEOLINKEDFLICKRpinterestWordpressYOUTUBE

Posted in Australia, Chardonnay, Dry Creek, Pinot Noir, Russian River, Sonoma County, Zinfandel | Leave a comment

A Stellar Evening of Wines from Saint-Émilion, Pomerol and Fronsac – James Melendez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lovely focus on the Right Bank of Bordeaux wines–emphasizing a Merlot with support of the other major red Bordeaux grapes.  I often taste Left Bank more often than Right Bank wines.  And to have this opportunity for beautiful Right Bank wines was a great learning experience and equally and tantalizing to taste with a delightful meal.

I love to eat at a nice restaurant but find it particularly special to have a chef prepared meal in a very nice setting.  This autumnal dinner was set in a very comfortable and well appointed home in San Francisco’s Castro District.  Plenty of comfort and elegance a la touch of mid-Century refinements.  No better way to frame an elegant dinner with this specific Bordeaux appellations of  Saint-Émilion, Pomerol and Fronsac.  This chef prepared meal was a nice offering of local foods and I am always tantalized by the beauty of the fresh herbs that were plentiful

Below is the menu which we enjoyed the wines with each specific dish.  Also listed below are the video reviews of most of the wines I tasted. Advanced sommelier Aubrey Terrazas guided the evening with information and thoughts on each wine presented with each course and taking about each of the appellations.

Château Clos du Roy Fronsac 2015

This wine is 95% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc.  SRP $19.00.  Nose and palate characterization in above video.

Food pairing: local cheese and charcuterie.

****

Château Busquet Luscan Lusac-Saint-Émilion 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nose: elongated characteristics of Loch Ness Blackberry, cassis, dense forest, crushed autumnal leaves and spice rack.

Palate: Blackberry confit, clove-pepper, Thyme and Bay leaf.

Food Pairing: House smoked yellow tomatoes and Bolinas Bisque and oyster shooter with sweet Sherry Mignonette.

**** 

Château La Dominique Saint-Émilion Grand Cru Classé 

Nose and palate characterization in above video.  This wine is a composition of Merlot, Cabernet sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. I don’t have a tech sheet for this wine.

Food pairing: Shaved cauliflower and chicory salad, persimmon, hazelnuts, rosemary Manchego dressing.

****

Château Lassègue Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2014

This wine is 65% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.  SRP: $30.00.  Nose and palate characterization in above video.

Food pairing: Poulet Basquaise, late summer tomatoes, fire roasted smashed carrots.

****

Château Lafleur-Gazin Pomerol 2014

This wine is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.  SRP: $47.00.  Nose and palate characterization in above video.

Food pairing: smoked Cumin crusted pork belly with Harissa butter and late summer Cassoulet

****

Château Coutlet Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2014

Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec. (I didn’t have spec sheet for this particular wine hence I did not input the percentage of varieties).

Nose: Heirloom black-blue fruit, stacked dried wood, suede, and dried roses

Palate: blackberry, blueberry, red pepper, Cardamom and violets.

Food pairing:  Cardamom plum tart with Armanac soaked ice cream.  All of the dinner participant added color via a culinary torch to the plums and sugar in the tart – a very nice dessert to pair with Château Coutlet.  A lovely contrast of the deep dark brooding fruit in the wine with the caramelized sugar and Armanac note.

 

 

 

 

 

****

Château Fombrauge Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 2012

This wine is 89% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon and 2% Malbec. SRP $39.00.  Nose and palate characterization in above video.

Food pairing: I would pair steelhead trout, roasted salmon or pork loin.

****

These wines are splendid on many levels.  Firstly, the value is fantastic – the least expensive wines is $19 and the most expensive $47.  I am frequently in Bordeaux variety country here in California and the average bottle price point is above $50 and now hovering in the $100 range.  I am asked often about Bordeaux in terms of pricing and there is a perception is that it significantly more expensive than it really is.  Secondly, while there are other places that have Bordeaux varieties: the dominant variety is Cabernet Sauvignon and, of course, you do find Merlot.  But there really is nothing quite like the tradition of the Right Bank–this particular groupings of subregions feature Merlot dominance with support of other Bordeaux varieties.  And thirdly, these wines are crafted beautifully with optimum fruit, age in the bottle and sophistication in the glass.

I hope you seek out these wines to enjoy with your next meal and see for yourself the beauty of Saint-Émilion, Pomerol and Fronsac–as your wine merchants for the above wines.

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Wines and dinner courtesy of producers of  Saint Emilion, Pomerol-and Fronsac.

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:

TWITTERFACEBOOKVIMEOLINKEDFLICKRpinterestWordpressYOUTUBE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

****

Chateau La Dominque Grand Cru Classe 2013

Chateau La Fleur-Gazin

Château Lassègue Les Cadrans St. Emilion Grand Cru ’14

Chateau Busquet St. Emilion 2015

 

 

Posted in Bordeaux, Fronsac, Pomerol, Saint-Émilion | Leave a comment

This Week – January 27, 2019 – James Melendez

 

 

 

 

A very different week from last two weeks–busier than usual last week and hence no article.

This week I want to talk about recycling.  I am frequent diner and often take home left overs.  I cannot stand to see food go to waste.  I have also become much more conscious of the plastic I get when I bring something home–sometimes I get very nice high quality plastics.  These are the plastics that are not a one time use–they are superbly sturdy.  I talk about wine producers who are doing their part to be as earth kind as possible – so I need follow that line as well.  I didn’t suddenly start being earth friendly but have been doing so for a while–but I do believe in continuous improvement (CI) to keep my doing the right thing.

Not that long ago on an Italian beach I found a lot of plastics that have washed up shore.  These were in all shapes and sizes and I saw plastic pen covers…. yes, this is a good way to remind yourself that plastic just doesn’t disappear but linger around and harm the environment.  I thought this beach should have been immaculate.  It actual has lingered in my memory and made me sad.

Because I eat out often or even buy pre-made foods at my grocer I need to see what I can do retain plastics I get.  I have been conscious to clean and reuse again and again.  I started keeping plastic cleaning brushes for a longer period of time.  I wash these brushes to keep them usable.  I stopped buying plastic multi use store bags I instead use cloth.  While this bag is from plastic bottles – what happens when this wears out and there are holes in the bottom?  I place in recycle bin but does it actually get recycled–probably not.

This is a “recycled” shopping bag that perpetuates the plastic problem

I look at a variety of wine sustainability programmes like SIP Certified, Lodi Rules and Demeter to name a few that this is of big concern for producer and consumer alike.  But it is not just something that industry does but we should all play a part and there is plenty any one can do to make difference.

I hope to return to these specific beaches in Italy and find them immaculate and pristine in the future.  Consider keeping restaurant take away plastics and there will be plenty of opportunities to use them again when you create left overs from cooking.

I hope that I can ask for you to do the same!  Thank you!

Santé

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:

TWITTERFACEBOOKVIMEOLINKEDFLICKRpinterestWordpressYOUTUBE

Posted in Environment, Sustainability, This Week | Leave a comment

Downgrading Crate & Barrel Calla Wine Glasses

I have never downgraded any wine glass review until now.  But I do think there is plenty of room for upgrading and downgrading of this essential element in wine tasting.  I am downgrading two of the three Calla wine glasses from Crate and Barrel based on performance.

I was initially excited by design and always hope for a wine glass to have a smart and relevant design and to be be well constructed at a handsome price.

But my disenchantment began with the Calla red wine glass.  The wine glass while a very forward design looks great but performs differently.  The glass finally broke which I expected–a quick and easy snapping at the stem which was unfortunate.  My experience with wine glasses is that they break from the stem or the rim (if cleaning is a bit too vigorous) easily and there are a few wine glasses styles that are pretty durable and don’t break that easily.  This red wine glass broke with relative ease.

The Calla red wine glass is too elongated and as I point out in the physics of it is rather unstable.  Swirl this glass and watch it move from side to side after you have let go.  I have never experienced this in any wine glass of wobbling after swirling.  It doesn’t look smart when your wine glass is moving long after you have touched it.  While not expensive $9.95 it is for me a wine glass that I wish I had not purchased because I could have bought another glass I did like.  I did dish wash but when compared to other wine glass it seemed to not perform as well as I expected–much more water staining.

I did like the sparkling wine glass a bit more.  There isn’t the same swirl issue as with the red wine glass.  I was looking for a more tulip shape at a reasonable price.  I love Zalto’s sparkling wine glasses but I didn’t want to pay $60+/stem for large events I might host.  The material of the glass itself obviously is not luxuriant as Zalto or other producers.  I downgraded this as the feel is not luxuriant and more utilitarian–like the red glass a lot more water staining than other sparkling wine glasses that I own.

What wine glasses do you like?

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:

TWITTERFACEBOOKVIMEOLINKEDFLICKRpinterestWordpressYOUTUBE

Posted in Wine Glasses | Leave a comment

January 2019 Wine Reviews – James Melendez

It is only January and yet wine tasting for this month is filled with white and reds from Washington, California, German, Turkey and France.  So far in the beginning of the year is slow and I hope it will continue to be rich.

I continue to have a race track where I annualize tasting variety and also to making sure I am tasting a rich diversity of wines of place.  This is partly due to me asking to taste wines versus hoping something magically lands on my tasting table.  Magic is not a great recipe for a diverse tasting or actually anything else.

Looking forward to see what February will bring!

Santé,

James

****

 

 

 

 

 

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso Veneto IGT ’16

This wine is 40% Merlot, 30% Corvina, and 30% Croatina and 14% ABV

Nose of early season red cherry, raspberry, cedar, clove and rose petal.

Palate of cherry coulis, fennel, black pepper, and Thyme.

****

 

 

 

 

 

 

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco Veneto IGT ’17

This wine is 100% Garganega and 13% ABV.

Nose: Lemon curd, lemon and lime zest, almond, and flowers

Palate: Meyer Lemon peel, white stone fruit, oyster shell and almonds.

****

Ancient Peak Paso Robles Santa Margarita Ranch Zinfandel ’16 

Nose of Tayberry, sweet cedar, suede and violets.

Palate of black cherry, bacon fat, pepper and allspice.

****

Cairdeas Yakima Valley Marsanne ’17

Nose of yellow/green citrus zest and peel, white nectarine, flowers and moist stones.

Palate of green citrus curd, hint of almond and white stone fruit.

****

Milbrandt Ancient Lakes Vineyards Chardonnay ’15 

Scent of dried Heirloom apple rings, green pear, nutmeg and oyster shell

Palate of green apple, white stone fruit, almond and minute hint of freshly ground nutmeg.

****

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:

TWITTERFACEBOOKVIMEOLINKEDFLICKRpinterestWordpressYOUTUBE

Posted in Bordeaux, Champagne, Edna Valley, France, Germany, Napa Valley, Turkey, Washington State, Zinfandel | Leave a comment

This Week – January 13, 2019 – James Melendez

I thought I would start this New Year with a weekly column simply title “This Week.”  Purpose for doing so is to have freedom to chat about wine, beer, spirits, travel and/or food or anything else without being the direct result of a singular event or tasting.

I have been writing on very specific items–wines, events and other beverage, travel and food topical matters.  I want to give a fresher perspective as after all I bring that up on my my YouTube channel –why not in my writing?

I will date on the beginning of each respective Sunday and publish sometime in that week.  I wanted to bring out the perspectives and thoughts that I know gets lost on my channel because after all there is only one way to title one’s videos–YouTube really needs to freshen up it’s use of key words and make them actionable.

****

This week has been a busy week of Asti Spumante, Italian Salumi, Cognac, Japanese Craft Brews and Zinfandel.  While it was a busy as always I usually attend the Fancy Food Show (FFS) after all I spent time developing food product lines for a retailer and a distributor.  I decided to not go because I have not been able to get a food media badge.  I don’t want to pay out of pocket as it is not a rich enough event for me to pay for it when Specialty Food Association gets free press from me.

If I am going to attend an FFS I’d rather go to New York edition – much larger and more worldly diverse.  While I didn’t get to FFS some of the vendors were in SF presenting their delightful foods–Quality Breakfast was a showcase of Italian salumi: Proscuitto di ParmaProscuitto di San DanieleProscuitto di ModenaProscuitto di Carpegna and Mortadella Bologna.  I loved tastings wines highlighted from the Consorzio per la Tutela dell’Asti.  What a morning to have stellar and abundant salumi and a variety from classic dolce to dry Asti wines.  I very much appreciated the dry Asti’s and need to taste more.

****

It is interesting how there is so much to taste in the spirits world.  And how for whatever reason Cognac is one I have not tasted—gulp—in a few years.  Yes, I know–far too long!  H. Joseph Ehrmann was the speaker for this master class.  He is also proprietor of Elixir–a Mission cocktail bar since 1858.

Cognac is magical and not a linear spirit–most people taste large producer: Hennessey, Hine, Courvoisier, Remy Martin and Martell. and I think many expect for all Cognac to taste alike.  There are many smaller producers who I hope we will see much more of (see pictures below).  This was a very appreciable tasting and including Courvoisier XO was a very nice touch.  The smaller producers are producing point of difference Cognac that matter to nose and palate.

 

 

 

 

****

And it is Zinfandel tasting season in San Francisco.  Each January Zinfandel Advocates and Producers produces a delightful tasting called ZinEx (Zinfandel Experience).  While writing this I am in the deep throes of tasting much more.  This will have to be an article unto itself.

I think ZinEx is essential to point out that Zinfandel is an honourable and worldly grape with a great thick and heavy California accent.

I loved attending a winemaker and media dinner.  First, if you get a chance and have never attended a winemaker dinner put this in your 2019 bucket list.  I love learning the stories and experience of winemakers–truly an amazing group of people.  Some of the smartest and most interesting people in my life have been winemakers, academic physicians, bioscientists, entrepreneurs and people who are steeped in the complexity sciences.  Winemakers, for me, represent a vocation not a job: a love of producing wine and a love for life.  I like this great and it is a rare combination.

ZinEx Flights

****

And if my week has not had enough experiences for the palate I also attended a delightful Japanese Craft Brew tasting.  I will be doing video review of some of the samples I have received.  The craft beer movement in Japan is young like it is in the United States since the 1990s.  The world is an exciting place where there is always something new to discover.

A very cool week indeed. Until next week if not sooner!

Santé

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:

TWITTERFACEBOOKVIMEOLINKEDFLICKRpinterestWordpressYOUTUBE

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2019 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine GuyJames the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:

TWITTERFACEBOOKVIMEOLINKEDFLICKRpinterestWordpressYOUTUBE

 

Posted in Asti, Cognac, Japanese Beer, Zinfandel | Leave a comment