Tag Archives: Petite Syrah

Markus Wine Co: Sol

10 Mar

Markus Wine Company, “Sol” 2015 Vintage Red Blend, Lodi, California. 14.9% ABV, $39 SRP.

 

Dark purple, nearly black in color near the center, with purple edging. Busy, eclectic nose of dark fruit, forest floor, sand, and eucalyptus. On the palate, massive black fruit: plum, blackberry, black cherry- the violence in the crush is evident- this is a big, blasting stroke of bold flavor. A big mouthfeel, strong tannins, acidity, and fruit; secondary notes of mocha, vanilla, and salty sand- this is a huge wine with a long, Grand Canyon of a finish that goes on, and on, and echoes far past when you think the last note has ended. This wine screams for grilled meats but can work beautifully with Mexican, Italian, I even made it pair with a salad by adding some grilled chicken and a few slices of jalapeño! This wine is fun, fabulous, and a ton of black fruit flavor.

 

 

 

 

Made of 42% petite Syrah, 37% Syrah clone 877 (both from Borra Vineyards), and 21% Mourvèdre from Silvaspoon Vineyards. Each time I tasted this wine, I wanted it to be named “Black Dog”, after the Led Zeppelin song whose protagonist is in constant, amorous pursuit- because the black fruit is so forward and direct on the palate. Its driving, electric, bluesy desire never gives up!

When you want an incredible night, put some massive steaks on the grill, pop open a bottle of Markus Sol, and let the music flow!

 

 

 

Oh Baby! Oh Alright!

 

 

 

à votre santé!

Locations Wine WA4 -Washington State

8 Jan

Locations Wine by Dave Phinney, WA4 Washington Red Wine Blend of Syrah, Merlot, and Petite Syrah. %15ABV, $20/bottle MSRP.

Color is deep purple with maroon edging, while the nose offers dark blue fruit and dank, forest floor. On the palate, there are blueberry, black plum, and boysenberry, along with some darker notes of clove, soil, wet leaves, with a hint of bitter almond. Holding in the mouth and allowing the tongue to absorb, heat sears across the top palate. What starts as a big, rustic smack in the mouth evolves once the heat of the high alcohol passes by; then soft, silken tannins coat the palate. On the medium finish there are flower cuttings, minerals, and a hint of wood. Secondary notes of lilac, lavender, vanilla, granite, oak and schist complete the profile.

 

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Fun to drink, quick to get lost with. This was an easy wine to drink, with a gorgeous mouthfeel. It paired with anything I tried: flank steak, spicy chili, taco night, even goat cheese on olive crisps. The high alcohol content kept me from drinking it on its own, but helped this wine stay vibrant and interesting for several days after opening. When I buy more of this, I doubt a bottle will survive that long before draining. High in value and reaction, low in stress and easy to pair? You could fill your cellar with cases of Locations and just rotate bottles. Dave Phinney has mad skills, but we’ve known this for some time. 

 

locationswa4

 

Don’t let the label fool you. This is no simple bottle from Washington State. This might make you want to move, or start making wine from Washington yourself! So be prepared, because once you fall in love with this, you’ll be quick to open up your wallet to those other boutique winemakers I keep harping on about.

 

 

 

à vôtre santé!

 

Dinner With Friends- #MWWC11

10 Aug
Note: This post is 1) different that what I normally write, 2) about a recent wine dinner, as well as 3) a response to my friend Jeff ‘s request for submissions to the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, #MWWC11 which if you really want to (if you blog & want to write about wine)  you can see here.  Or if you ride or like comic writing, you should check out my favorite  section of  Jeff’s blog, which I really enjoy. I hope you enjoy this post! Feel free to comment and let me know -JvB
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A friend I’ve not seen for 28 years was in town for a family wedding- his! So I invited Joe & Kaz to come to our home for dinner while they were in NYC, visiting from Osaka Japan. Joe has lived in Japan for almost two decades and I knew we’d have a lot to discuss. I was a little nervous about making dinner since our Western meals are quite different than those in the East, so I enlisted my (much) better half to help create a solid dinner plan, while I, as in classic form, worried and worried about what wines to serve.

I stared into my cellar, pondering choice after choice, changing my mind several times. Finally I settled on a small- production petite sirah I’ve been holding for a special occasion to pair with beef, and a vinho verde I love on hot summer evenings. I grabbed a bottle of Chateau de L’Aulée AOC Méthode Tradtionelle brut sparkling wine from Touraine, France so we could toast the wedding. And just for fun, I selected two half bottles of dessert wine, a port and a sauternes. I felt prepared. No, really I felt terrified, but at least I had wine!

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Since both my wife and I are freelancers in the arts and work a lot of (ok, almost all) evenings and weekends, we rarely get to entertain. We also didn’t know how busy we would be prior to our dinner. As my schedule got increasingly hectic, she agreed to shop while I was working. Our menu plan included several cold salads that I could help prep and she could execute while I was grilling the entrée. The butcher didn’t have the cut of meat I wanted available, so she purchased several shoulder steaks and we agreed to make kabobs to allow us to serve efficiently.

As she sliced a butternut squash and put that into the oven, I cubed the beef and dumped it into a bowl for the marinade- then diced fresh garlic, onion powder, cracked 4-color pepper mix, and ground some Himalayan salt on top. I added two heaping tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, then raced to the cellar to get a bottle of my ‘everyday’ red table wine– a bottle of 2011 Los Vascos from Colchagua, Chile which is managed by none other than Baron Eric de Rothschild.

los vascos

This wine is one of the best values I keep in my cellar at about $10 a bottle, and is great to drink but doesn’t break my heart if I need a lot of it to make a meal taste wonderful. I poured it on the beef and mixed my marinade happily, putting the bottle aside as a backup to the Petite Syrah, then covering the marinade bowl and sliding it into the fridge to continue the prep.

Annette and I chopped Israeli cucumbers and diced roma tomatoes, parsley and scallions for a cucumber/tomato salad that could be dressed quickly with oil and balsamic vinegar. As I washed vegetables for the kabobs, she cut yellow and red peppers for me, moved to prep an avocado salad that had to be made at the last minute, then put sweet peas and water into a pan to cook while I scraped & preheated the grill.

Thirty minutes had passed and we were moments away from our guests arriving, so we enlisted a daughter to set the table while I aerated and decanted the petite sirah, using a True Fabrications Aerating Pour Spout to pour into the decanter. The petite sirah was a gorgeous, near-black purple in color, delightfully aromatic with the scent of african violets, and exciting even to pour. I was happy that the spout had caught some sediment as well as aerating. I rinsed it and set it aside, then pulled the meat out and built the kabobs for grilling, using mushrooms, onion, cherry tomato, yellow and red pepper, and of course the marinated steak cubes.

true

 

Joe and Kaz arrived and we greeted them, opened the bubbly and toasted their wedding, and I took them with me to the backyard to grill the kabobs while Annette completed the salads and vegetable courses.

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The grill ran about 550 degrees and while kabobs require about five minutes a side for medium well (turning over once), I prefer to turn them every three minutes as neither the vegetables nor the meat always turns as one wants. After a quick sear, I moved several kabobs to a higher level to grill them to medium rare over the same duration. We chatted about their trip, enjoying the sparkling wine until it was time to take the kabobs off the flame.

Following our guests into the dining room with a plate of burning hot skewers, I noticed that Annette had made a couscous (when did she find time to do that?) and also managed to plate the butternut squash rings so that they enclosed the steaming hot green peas, a neat little visual I didn’t know was in her repertoire! I refreshed flutes with sparkling wine and poured the petite sirah, as Joe gave a quick Japanese blessing, “Itadakimasu” or いただきます.  A few bites in, Joe exclaimed his joy at the wine, which made me beam proudly and take time to explain my choice, ignoring the earlier requests from my 13-year old daughter who had begged me not to wax poetic about wine tonight…sorry, sweetheart!

Modus Operandi is the Napa, CA home of winemaker Jason Moore. I was introduced to his wines by a fellow oenophile who INSISTED I try Jason’s cabernet sauvignon- I loved it, noting the depth and complexities of flavors, with an unusual bonus: chocolate covered strawberry notes on the finish. I quickly joined the Modus wine club and have been a fan ever since. Jason may not be the first of the independent winemakers that I decided to champion and support, but he is highly accomplished and we share an affinity for passion in the things we do. His work is exemplary.

Back to the dinner table: Joe noted the sirah was more black in color than red, more floral than fruity on the nose, and deeply complex. I agreed, and explained that it was made in very limited quantity (only two barrels produced) and that I chose it specifically to complement both the meat and array of vegetables due to its flexibility to pair so well with grilled foods. I have a full review of the ’09 sirah here.

 

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The meal I had been so worried about had been a success, and we talked late into the night. After a small intermission we cleared dinner, I made coffee while Annette served berries and some small pastries I’d picked up at Financier for dessert, and I brought out the dessert beverages to our guests. These included the 2006 Chateau Doisy Vedrines which is showing beautifully right now, a tawny port from Kalyra Winery, from Santa Barbara, CA that I just tasted recently on my Wine Blogging trip, and a calvados: Christian Drouin Coer de Lion “Selection”, a delightful digestive that offers apples, spice, and cinnamon-all the best parts of apple pie- in the glass.

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We sampled sips of all three, and a little XO courvoisier that was a gift from a client.

My fears of failure seemed to have been conquered by paying great attention to detail. Fresh, flavorful, and colorful food well-paired with tasty wines and made for a lovely, memorable evening with old friends and our spouses. While I don’t know when I’ll see my friend Joe again, I hope that Annette and I will work harder to entertain more guests at our home sooner, rather than later.

à votre santé!

 

 

 

Best Little Wine Store- Part 2: Wines from the Sorting Table

30 May

I got a note from a reader, asking if I tasted any wines from The Sorting Table on 7th  and if so, why didn’t I write about them? I admit, I am remiss in the time it took me to get these words out to you. Hence, Part 2! Wonderful Wines.

Yes, I tasted wines from Josh V’s Sorting Table, but it began with a challenge.  When I asked Josh for brilliant, funky, Napa blends he asked me back specifics as he handed me bottle after bottle starting from $15 and up to $50, all of which fell in that category and every one I wanted to try. So I kept asking, and tried several bottles to take notes for you, my fair readers.

And try I did. I tasted several wines from his store, and here they are in no particular order:

Salmon Vineyard’s 2011 Petite Syrah

R petite syrah

 

Deliciously wonderful, a wine that changed on the palate with every sip! I could not put this down. Amazing small-format winemaking- could rate in the company of Jason Moore and David Phinney, for $25/bottle. Paired this with an organic margarita pizza and thought that heaven could not be closer to my mouth. Deep purple in color, thick and viscous, jammy fruit with nice acidity, tart tannins, and an amazing finish. YUM!

Bennett Lane 2008 Maximum Red Feasting Wine

Maximus

94 points.  The ruby-purple color and blackberry nose entice you until the massive mouthfeel hits you: blackberry, cassis, and plum start off the tongue this mind-blowing red blend, and is followed with a slew of fabulous notes including mocha, truffle, chocolate, and cedar barrel to sate the palate of the serious wine guru for under $40. I’m buying more. ‘Nuff said!

Satisfied with red wine options, I took a different path. “Old world, yet affordable chardonnay that champions the grape,” I challenged. Two bottles appeared, and I chose:

Chateau de la Greffiere Macon La Roche “Vielle Vignes” Vineuse 2011

Macon La ROche

An amazing chardonnay from 50 year old vines for under $20. Stellar pricing for serious structure, I almost thought I could taste the vines standing in the clay underneath the perfectly aged chardonnay grape. Classic old world white!

Patient Cottat ‘s Le Grand Caillou Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Calliou

Chardonnay accepted, I asked for Sancerre, and Josh showed me three, then said- “what about a Sancerre that isn’t technically a Sancerre?” He pulled up a Sauv Blanc from the Loire Valley, outside of the lines that delineate Sancerre but one taste will show you how a half-price wine can blow away the competition. I knew this was the one I’d take. This is one of the best high value/low cost offerings in French wine you may ever see.  $12/bottle, and simply delectable. I’d love to see this in a blind tasting against “legit” sancerre!

Les Crêtes Valle D’Aosta Chardonnay 2011

Cretes

After pulling the sancerre out of his proverbial hat, I said “what is the best value white burgundy you have?” He riled thru a pair of wine fridges and pulled this lone bottle out along with a cheshire cat grin. And was he right? Spot on! This was a delicious, un-oaked white Burgundy-styled-white that impressed my palate with depth. Gentle tropical melon and floral notes in the mouth are followed by bright acidity, and find a finish with luscious terroir of sandy clay with a hint of chalk. Rich and delightful, savory yet taut, and drinks like an 80/bottle for under $40. I drank this with goat cheese on a fig cracker and ooh’d my way through every bite and sip.

Check, and mate! Perhaps in Josh’s world, I should try something akin to:

“R2 says the chances of survival are 725… to one” – C3PO, STAR WARS

à votre santé!

SuperBowl Wine! Bogle Essental Red

3 Feb

Bogle Vineyards Essential Red 2010, Clarksburg, CA. $10/bottle, purchased from Mayfair Wine & Liquor, Queens NY.

A blend of old vine zinfandel, syrah, cabernet savignon and petite syrah. “Unlike anything we’ve made before…” says the back of the bottle, aged in French and American oak for 18 months. I saw this at one of the local wine stores and remembered liking their ’09 Cab Sauvignon served by the glass at a restaurant.  The words ‘old vine’ made me stop and look, the front and back labels peaked my interest and the price was right. Nice marketing, Bogle- it stood out to this Bordeaux snob right away. I thought it might be the right wine to try on game day, with the chill in the air and several dishes that might be hard to pair with a single wine.

Powerful nose of cassis, tobacco leaf and spices. On the palate, there is big, bold fruit: cassis, plum, and cherry  with notes of spice box, clove, and a touch of vanilla.  Nice acidity in the mouth. The flavors were very spicy on the top palate, noted heat from the alcohol, some tobacco and hint of oak. Sweetness from the syrah is present on the finish.  13.5% alcohol.

Bogle Essential 2010

 

You can find the Bogle Vineyards website and more info on this wine here.

My hunch was right, this is a great game day bottle. For the money, this is a nice wine, made even better at the price. Perfect for football or days when you want a spicy wine with a hint of sweetness that will pair with any kind of sports food, from pizza to wings, pasta to meat, it’s easy and enjoyable- an easy touchdown for any friendly get-together. A smart add to your cellar or fridge, when a blend of spicy red grapes is the perfect balance to go with just about anything.

à votre santé!

Questions & Answers: Petite Syrah

9 Dec

A friend emailed me the following question, which I figured might be a useful addition to the stream of wine reviews. I hope you enjoy!

“JvB, Question: What is petit sirah? Follow Up: Why is it so delicious?” -Julia (lawyer & wine lover from Long Island, NY)

Great Question, Julia. Here’s my take on the grape, and its character.

“Durif” is the original name for the grape we call many things: Petite Syrah in France, here in the USA and in Australia it’s slightly adapted to petite sirah. The ‘e’ at the end of petite is correct form with either syrah or sirah.

This is a grape strain that was cross-bred in the Rhône valley of France in the 1880’s between the grapes Syrah and Peloursin, with the specific intention of being impervious to a mildew strain that was killing off entire syrah crops in the region.  The attempt was only partially successful as while the petite syrah grape is resistant to one form of powdery mildew, it succumbed to another grape disease known as gray rot. To make matters worse, the surviving grapes were considered to be of sometimes dubious quality by the region’s winemakers. But what was viewed as a failure in the moist Côtes du Rhône was a huge success in the drier areas of California and the Victoria region of Australia and is popular in arid vineyards in other locations such as Israel, Arizona, Washington to name but a few.

WHY the name? Well, the word ‘petite’ in the name refers to the small grapes on the vine, which have a high skin to juice ratio.

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WHY is it so tasty? Great question. So here’s answer version one, from a technical standpoint: When given long maceration, it can be very tannic- which, then aged in new oak, gives off a nose of melted chocolate, among other delicious aromas. The fully fermented and aged wine is often very dark purple to black in color,  “inky” as it were, with blue and black fruit flavors dominant on the palate with herbal and black pepper notes. It blends well, can be drunk young or aged to great depth and complexity, and with good acid and tannin provides a great opportunity to create a full, well-rounded wine with lots of character. As a blending wine, it’s often used to make a well-rounded wine by adding length to the finish, and charm or depth to the palate. It pairs well with game and red meats or spicy foods.

OK, why does it taste so good, from a NON-TECHNICAL standpoint?  Well, a wine that has an herbaceous and fruity nose with blackberry, blueberry and black plum flavors, notes of spicy black pepper, an elegant mouth feel, and a long, charming finish that recalls toasted oak and melted chocolate- who wouldn’t like that?

I hope this answers the question to your satisfaction. I have to say, I’ve been tasting two gentle whites for the last two evenings, but I think I may have to open a bottle of petite sirah!

Here are a few links for your continued reading enjoyment:

Top Petite Sirah Best Wines Ratings Prices

Best American Wines $15 & Under: Syrah & Petite Sirah

Petite Sirah Wine Reviews and Prices | WineAccess Search

 

à votre santé!

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