Shana Speaks Wine

Wine Journalist, Copywriter, and Marketing Consultant

Drinking out loud. 

Filtering by Tag: Grenache

Kosher Countdown - The Fourth Cup

For the final wine before seder, we're visiting France by way of Israel.  The Domaine Netofa, Red, Galilee, 2012, is a classic Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. The head winemaker used to lead wine production for Royal Wine Europe and the influence is apparent in this bottle. There is a lot of peppery spice immediately on the nose, along with an earthy soil note.  The berries are deep and heavy, almost second fiddle to the spices. On the palate, the peppery notes again charge through, but the fruit qualities stand their ground. The tannins are noticeable and integrated while the acid feels a bit higher than expected for this wine. This is a great food wine (although, I think matzoh would be an inadvisable pairing). While this wine feels a bit young, it's still drinkable, although I bet it would fare even better at Passover 2016.

Domaine Netofa. Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

Domaine Netofa. Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

So what will I be drinking at Seder?  Stay tuned to find out. I'll also drop a couple more bottles for you next week to keep your Passover fresh and interesting.

 

 

Walla Walla Washington Wines, Day 2 - Afternoon Revelry

Revived after a delicious lunch, I continued my tour with a stop at Mark Ryan.  Don't be fooled by the quaint vintage scooter in the front of the shop  - this place is gunning to be badass.

 

Mark Ryan's vintage scooter.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

Mark Ryan's vintage scooter.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

Case in point: the Numbskull BDX, Walla Walla, 2012.  Like the skulls on the label, the wine was bone-dry (come on, you can't say you didn't see that coming), with some grippy tannins.  It was lighter in body than expected, especially given the blend, but I think this will develop more nuances as it ages. 

Mark Ryan Numbskull.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Mark Ryan Numbskull.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The Lost Soul wasn't available for tasting but was substituted with the Wild Eyed, Red Mountain, 2012. The 100% Syrah had a plethora of ripe berries up front but was balanced with the spice one comes to expect from a Syrah.

Mark Ryan Wild Eyed. Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Mark Ryan Wild Eyed. Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The Long Haul, Red Mountain, 2012, was appropriately named, as it definitely needed some aging in order to reach its fullest potential. Delicious notes of leather, tobacco and spice were already coming through on this Merlot/Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot blend but these only hinted at the potential heights this wine could reach.

Mark Ryan Long Haul.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Mark Ryan Long Haul.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Last in the lineup was the Dead Horse, Red Mountain, 2012.  Comprised predominately of Cabernet Sauvignon, there was a surprising restraint to the fruit with leather and smoke rounding out the glass.

Mark Ryan Dead Horse.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne.

Mark Ryan Dead Horse.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne.

Like G. Cuneo, another winery that takes its cues from Old World regions is Rotie Cellars, which, if not apparent from the name, models itself on Rhone blends. Here, I found some shining wines that exemplify the quality wines Washington State is capable of producing. 

For whites, I was drawn to the Southern White, 2013, a Viogner/Roussanne/Marsanne blend that pranced in my mouth with honeysuckle, peach, lime and zippy acidity. 

 

Rotie Cellars Southern White, 2013.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne.

Rotie Cellars Southern White, 2013.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks WIne.

Their Southern Blend, 2012, was also a standout for me.  A traditional GSM blend (Grenache/Syrah/Mourvedre, if you want to spell it out), the raspberry and currant fruit blended easily with the savory gaminess in this wine. It had the slight edge over their Northern Blend, 2012, a Syrah-dominant red that hinted at black fruit along with minerality, cocoa, spice and again, a certain meaty quality.  There was a freshness to the Southern Blend that made it more accessible.

Rotie Cellars Southern Blend, 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Rotie Cellars Southern Blend, 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The Swordfight, 2012, was another gem in the lineup. 50% Mourvedre/50% Syrah, my nose immediately picked up sweet baking spices, cumin and black cherry.  Sipping through, there were noticeable tannins and a bright cherry on the long finish.  I could see this really shining with some food. 

Rotie Cellars Swordfight, 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Rotie Cellars Swordfight, 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

My favorite of the group though, was an unusual one:  the Dre, 2012.  Made from 100% Mourvedre, which isn't often seen, there was a spicy n' sweet tension of white pepper and cumin, along with a Luden's cough drop cherry note to it.  Sounds weird but the complexity kept revealing itself with each sip. It needed aging time, no question, but overall I found it weirdly compelling. As a side note, I so love the rebel bad-boy element on display in some of these Washington State wine names and labels. 

Rotie Cellars "Dre" 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Rotie Cellars "Dre" 2012.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Moving on, I arrived at Maison Bleue, another winery that is making a name for itself with Rhone blends.

The Maison Bleue lineup.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

The Maison Bleue lineup.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

My favorite was the Liberte, Syrah, 2011. Blackberry, overripe raspberry, spice, licorice and smoked meats made this a standout Syrah. 

Maison Bleue Syrah, 2011.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

Maison Bleue Syrah, 2011.  Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine.

The final winery of the trip was Spring Valley.  While I enjoyed their extensive lineup, what stood out the most for me were the bottle labels.  Featuring vintage photos of family members, they were a a unique tribute to the history of the winery. 

 

My favorite label - isn't she sassy? Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

My favorite label - isn't she sassy? Photo by Shana Sokol, Shana Speaks Wine. 

In general, Walla Walla is producing some great wines, marrying their unique terroir with traditional blends, offbeat single varietals, and a cornicopia of Old World Grapes.  I'm eager to see how this region develops as I see it becoming a major force in the wine industry.

 

Keep tasting, friends... 

Thanksgivingukkah Wines

It's almost time for the Main Event: Thanksgiving, the kickoff to a month of serious overeating and drinking.  I'm not complaining - who doesn't love an opportunity to stuff themselves silly, knowing it's socially acceptable to go back for seconds, even thirds? And go in for the dessert round?  Not this gal. 

The wine for the Big Meal tends to cause a lot of anxiety, though, as the variety of dishes doesn't lend itself to any clear-cut pairing.  To help you breathe a little easier (well, that and unbuttoning your pants after the five types of pie you just "took a bite of"), here are a few suggestions.  Before diving in though, I want to reiterate my mantra: Drink What You Like. You're not going to enjoy any meal if you're drinking a wine that doesn't please your palate.  If you wouldn't normally enjoy a certain type of wine, you sure as hell are going to hate it when you're consuming it with a buffet of flavor profiles.  It will all clash, trust me.

The Whites

Gruner Vetliner is a really accessible white that is often used as an alternative to Pinot Grigio.  Crisp, medium bodied, apple and citrus notes, a little bit of tropical fruit, decent acidity - this wine can work with a variety of dishes. 

Another varietal that can work across the board is an Albarino. This Spanish white has the ripe apple and citrus fruits but can display a bit of peachiness too.  Again, its zesty and medium-bodied so it doesn't get lost amongst all the bites.

The Reds

You can't go wrong with a Grenache-dominant Cote du Rhone. It's juicy berry flavors, tempered with some spice from a Syrah, along with it's medium-bodied style, plays well with the turkey as much as a cranberry sauce. 

Pinot Noir is also a classic choice for the feast, particularly New World producers.  They tend to be a bit more fruit-forward than their French counterparts, but still retain the same light-bodied structure and overt earthy tones.

But there's more!  The great thing about this year is that the first night of Chanukah falls on Thanksgiving.  That's right, I'm trading in my mashed potatoes for latkes, dinner rolls for challah bread and salad for matzoh ball soup.  Is this a drinking game-changer? Not at all; in fact, it's an enhancement.  Because what goes best with fried potatoes?

Champagne!

Seriously, one of the best things to pair with fries, and therefore potato pancakes, is champers. The yeasty, toasty notes of champagne (or champagne-style sparkling wines) balances well with the salty oiliness of the dish. Throw some lox or salmon roe on top of those 'cakes and we have ourselves a party!

Or, if you're feeling particularly religious, there's always Manischewitz....

Happy Holidays!