Happy Cabernet Day!

Shalestone 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

Shalestone 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

I’m guessing its late for some of you readers, but here in New England its happy hour! And it’s Cabernet Day. I am celebrating by enjoying the great 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon I had from and with the winemaker from Shalestone vineyards in New York’s Finger lakes region. That article is here. I think that I may have to go back or place an order online, because I have gone through all of their wine I brought home already.  I think the addition of some pepper jack and olives will make a perfect pre-dinner treat! This winery was a hidden gem that I was luckily tipped off about on my first trip to the region. And it’s always great to meet the winemaker and talk with them about their wine and winemaking philosophies.

Happy Cabernet Day!

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Wines That Rock: Rolling Stones 40 Licks Merlot 2010

Wines That Rock Rolling Stones 40 Licks Merlot 2010

Wines That Rock Rolling Stones 40 Licks Merlot 2010

Knowing me also as a musician and music lover, a co-worker gave me this wine as a gift.  Having read about this line of wines a while back, I was definitely intrigued, if not a little skeptical. Although, there are wines and producers out there with novelty marketing approaches that are a quality product/line. One example that comes to mind is the amusing, and tasty, “Goats Do Roam” wines. I was quite fond of their ‘Bored Doe” and the empty bottle still sits at my desk and brings me a chuckle when I look at it.  It also reminds me that wine can be fun, and shouldn’t need to be snobby. This brand has had a few vintages now and seems to be off to a good start, so I was eager to get to the bottom of this question, and the bottle!

What I found surprised me. Deep ruby in color, the bouquet on this wine was very expressive. The aromas of rich plum, cherry and smoke and toast from aging in American oak permeated, and it was a very pleasant nose indeed. Definitely reminiscent of those I enjoyed on the right bank of Bordeaux last October, with the exception of the American oak notes. On the palate, soft and beautifully balanced tannin and acidity made it a smooth drink, with more red and black fruit, vanilla and smoke accents. The body was a medium plus and the finish was longer than expected. This is a great little Merlot. Lately I haven’t had many California Merlots that have made an impression on me (I’m probably just looking in the wrong places) but this one was delicious.

The wines are all made in Mendocino County, California by the Mendocino Wine Company. This area is in the Northern Coast region, north of Napa and Sonoma. The line has several wines, with other wines/varietals named after The Police, The Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, and a Woodstock-themed wine with labels to match. I will have to try them all. I’ve heard better reviews of some than others, but at the end of the day it comes down to personal taste.  They have won a few awards to date and while of course making a quality wine is the ultimate goal, the mission is also to make drinking the wine an experience. To quote: “Wines That Rock is meant to be fun, a conversation starter, an eye popping party gift that makes you do a double take once you actually pop the cork and taste what’s inside. ”

Also noteworthy is all the wines are made with sustainable farming practices as well as green energy and eco-friendly packaging. In fact, in 2007, Mendocino Wine Company became the first winery in the United States to achieve carbon neutral status and have won Governor’s awards for these practices and achievements.  And, partial proceeds from every bottle sold goes to music’s largest charity, the T.J Martell Foundation to Give Back. They also have contests on the site, including a current prize of a Keith Richards-autographed guitar and a $1,000 Amazon gift card. They provide the wines for the Rolling Stone wine club and the Guitar Aficianado wine club, true to their mission. They even poured their first vintages backstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden, while Bruce Springsteen, Metallica, U2 and Mick Jagger were playing.

I paired it with a freshly grilled cheeseburger and potato salad. The wine paired perfectly with my BBQ fare. I also listened to the album ’40 Licks’ as suggested while enjoying my first taste. For a moment I felt connected to the winemaker Mark Beaman, and the process. After all, he too was listening to it while making the wine, hoping to express the essence of the album through wine, if that is possible.

This bottle having been a gift, I looked up the pricing online and the average retail price is $16. I think this is worth it, it was a very enjoyable wine. Mick and the boys would be thrilled that their wine did indeed rock.

Visit them at www.winesthatrock.com.

Domaine Michel Thomas Sancerre 2012

Domaine Michel Thomas Sancerre 2012

Domaine Michel Thomas Sancerre 2012

I just returned from a wonderful trip to London, filled with historical landmarks and family gatherings. Of course I brought back a few bottles of wine. One of these was a lovely Sancerre that my family and I enjoyed over the weekend at a barbeque.  Domaine Michel Thomas 2012 Sancerre is a delicious example of this classic Loire style. Michel and his son Laurent run this family business. The family have grown grapes for many generations and have focused on winemaking since 1968. They are of the philosophy that minimal cellar intervention gives the purest expression of the vineyard.

Pale lemon in color, it has expected stone fruit and citrus notes, is medium in body and dry. I also picked up green pea and fresh cut grass notes which is also characteristic of Sauvignon Blanc. It was crisp and refreshing and the perfect apéritif on this hot day. The Loire style of Sauvignon Blanc is more subtle than you would find in a Marlborough, New Zealand example, with less bright acidity and more flint/mineral notes — though you will find the herbaceous ‘cat’s pee’ aromas in both styles. Calcified remains of an ancient seabed provide this mineral accent in the terroir as it does in nearby Chablis.

There’s also about 20% red and rosé production here. I actually just ordered a Pinot Noir Sancerre in the recent pre-harvest marathon on Last Bottle wines which I can’t wait to try.

I paid 14 pounds for the bottle, which is in the ballpark of its average web price of $23. Abv is 12.5%.  I’ve been enjoying Sancerre for many years and this is a very good one – Try it!