Rob’s winning wine picks for The University of Montana Homecoming


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WineGuyMike™  helped choose a few winning wine selections this morning with Rob Hudson and Monty Turner of NBC’s Montana Today Show.  As the season of change is upon us in Montana we have selected one beautiful white wine and three red wines to share with you for your tailgate parties.

 

The 2009 Sanglier (Wild Boar) Cellars has just released a new vintage of their Blanc du Tusque.  The 2009 white blend is 34% Viognier, 33% Sauvignon Musque, 33% Sauvignon Blanc.  Sanglier’s Blanc du Tusque from Sonoma is a perfect representation of wonderful fruit and good winemaking coming together in a bottle.  This wine is crisp, rich, with very nice aromas of  lime peel, melon and pear that is followed subtle notes of honeysuckle.  The palate offers a rich mouthfeel of pineapple, lime zest, pear and apple.  A nice long finish  balanced nicely with clean acidity and a hint of minerality.

If you are a wine lover you will enjoy this white Rhone style blend that will pair nicely with; poultry(fried chicken), pork (pulled pork sandwiches), grilled sausage and brats.  a great wine for a Homecoming tailgate party.

2009 Salentine Killka Malbec from Argentina

 

From Mendoza, this Argentinean wine is flamboyant, fruit forward, spicy and perfectly tannic. In your glass the wine has a deep purple hue with darker streaks of purple when held up to the light. Dark plum and blackberry with a bit of sweet vanilla meet the nose. This wine has great fruit, balance and structure on the palate. Don’t forget about the wonderful silky tannins this wine offers. The Killka has not been overly manipulated in the winemaking process, and this is one of its best qualities. This Argentinean wine is available at Liquid Planet for under $15. Pair this wine with rib eye or filet mignon and a red wine reduction or green peppercorn sauce.

2009 MontGras Quatro Blend from Chile

From Viña MontGras, this Chilean wine is a blend of 50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Malbec, 15 percent Carmenère and 15 percent Syrah. This wine is a deep ruby color in the glass and offers aromas of fresh‐roasted coffee, dark fruit of black currants and cherries and leather with a hint of vanilla. When you smell this, you know you want to taste it, and you won’t be disappointed.

 On the palate, this wine is full‐bodied, rich, soft, supple and round with a nice balance of fruit and acid, which allows it to pair well with food. This wine is not so big and over-extracted that it will overpower you or your food pairing.  The Quatro serves up a long, luscious and lingering finish and costs less than $15 at Liquid Planet. Pair this wine with grilled top sirloin or prime rib.

The 2009 Hedges CMS Red from the Columbia Valley is a very good wine.  Hedges has sourced the grapes in this red blend from the very best areas for each varietal in the Columbia Valley AVA.  The CMS Red is 45% Merlot 39% Cabernet Sauvignon 16% Syrah.  This wine is smooth drinking and food friendly with a good balance  of fruit and acid.  Silky tannins and medium body with the slightest hint of sweetness define this wine that was aged in 60% French Oak and 40% American oak.  Pair this wine with a nice juicy burger or any red meat dishes you prepare for the Grizzlies Homecoming win.

I recommend decanting these wines as it will help them to open up and will enhance them for your enjoyment.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

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“A Tale of Terroir” this week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/09/25/wine-guy-mike-for-september-25th/

 My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhee

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Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show; “The Tale of Two Terroir’s.”  There are two countries from South America that produce exceptional wine of value.  Chile and Argentina are known by wine lovers from around the world to produce great wine that’s affordable.  These two countries run parallel to one another yet produce very different styles of wine, but make no mistake there are great wines being produced in Chile and Argentina and I have two that I enjoy and will share with you.

In the world of wine you will see the word terroir used when writers are describing wine, vineyards, or perhaps well-known wine regions in general.  Simply stated terroir defines a sense of place.  When a winemaker talks about their wine and refers to terroir they are suggesting that the wine expresses the personality of the earth, the weather that influences grapes in a vineyard, subtle yet unique nuances imparted as a result of terroir.  These subtleties may exist  only in one small block of land. 

Napa Valley’s most famous vineyard To Kalon is a perfect example.  To Kalon is Ancient Greek for “the highest beauty”, this vineyard  provides Robert Mondavi Winery with most of the grapes for its world-class Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve,  and is the exclusive source of Sauvignon Blanc.  You begin to realize just how romantic and powerful this term “terroir” becomes as your personal relationship with wine evolves.   

The Colchagua Valley of Chile is on the west coast of South America and enjoys a Mediterranean climate that is somewhat unique when it comes to wine country terroir.  Chile is a melting pot of European influence that runs north to south on the West Coast of South America and is 2,600 miles in length, but it is only 100 miles wide at its widest point.  There is a heavy influence of German, Spanish, English, and French that have taken up residence and enjoy this wonderful Mediterranean climate.

The Colchagua Valley wine region has four clearly defined seasons which is rare and exists at only four other points around the world: the Mediterranean coast; the California coast; the Cape of Good Hope; and the southeast coast of Australia. The climate in Chile falls somewhere in between that of California and Bordeaux.  Rich aroma and flavor in the wines of this valley are the result of Pacific maritime influence and breezes from the Andes Mountain slopes that move through the vineyards.

Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Carmenère are the most widely planted red grape varietals in the Colchagua Valley.  In 1996 Chile exported 100,000 cases of wine to the United States and today that number has increased to 7 million cases. The quality and value of wines from Chile speaks for itself which is duly noted by the increased exports.

Chilean wines adhere to the European Union label requirements.  The wine must contain 85% of the grape variety, vintage, and domaine of origin (D.O.) that are indicated on the label.

Argentina is the largest wine-producing country of South American and the fifth largest producing country in the world.  With 300 days of sunshine and an average of only 8 inches of rain each year the Argentinians have established an elaborate irrigation system fed by runoff from the snow-capped Andes Mountains.

The Jesuit missionaries began making wine in the mid-fifteen century in the Mendoza region of Argentina.  The Uco Valley (pronounced ooko) of Mendoza produces mainly Malbec, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Argentina is widely recognized throughout the world for their outstanding Malbec wines that offer a real bargain for the wine consumer.  The Mendoza region has over 70% of the total 500,000 vineyard acres planted in all of Argentina.  There are over 600 vineyards located in Mendoza. 

The grapes in this Mendoza region are planted at high altitude near the base of the Andes Mountains.  With hot days, cool nights, and breezes from the mountains producing beautiful fruit that is concentrated and naturally acidic.  The result is excellent wine that is balanced and well structured.

When you read the label on the bottle of Argentinean Wine the grape that is listed is 100% of that varietal.  The Malbec wines from this region offer tremendous single varietal focus and in the hands of a great winemaker will leave you with a memorable finish on your palate and in your mind.

In tasting both the 2009 Quatro blend and 2009 Killka Malbec wines you will discern a very distinct style of winemaking.   The difference in these two wines is very representative of Chilean and Argentinean wines.  Chilean wines have a tendency toward big, rich, full-bodied wines whereas Argentinean wines typically are concentrated, focused, and a bit less refined. 

Here are two outstanding examples of South American wines of exceptional value.  The first is a Chilean red blend from Viña MontGras; the 2009 MontGras Quatro is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Malbec; 15% Carmenère, and 15% Syrah.  This wine is a deep ruby color in the glass and on the nose offers aromas of fresh-roasted coffee, dark fruit of black currants and cherries, leather with a hint of vanilla.  When you smell this you know you want to taste it, and you won’t be disappointed.

This wine on the palate is full-bodied, rich, soft, supple, and round.  There is a very nice balance of fruit and acid which allows it to pair well with food.  This wine is not so big and over extracted that it will over power you or your food pairing.  The Quatro serves up a long, luscious, and lingering finish.  This wine is under $15.00.  Pair this wine with grilled Top Sirloin or Prime Rib.

The Argentinean wine from Mendoza that offers tremendous value is 2009 Salentine “Killka” Malbec.  This wine is flamboyant, fruit forward, spicy and perfectly tannic.  In your glass the wine has a deep purple hue with darker  streaks of purple when held up to the light.  Dark plum and blackberry with a bit of sweet vanilla meet the nose.  This wine has great fruit, balance, and structure on the palate.  Don’t forget about the wonderful silky tannins this wine offers.  The Killka has not been overly manipulated in the winemaking process and this is one of its best qualities.  Available for under $15.00.  Pair this wine with Rib Eye or Filet Mignon and a red wine reduction or green peppercorn sauce.

Both wines receive the WineGuyMike™ seal of approval®

Cin Cin

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

What is the perfect wine bottle enclosure? This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/09/18/wine-guy-mike-for-september-18/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© I spoke about wine enclosures, also known as corks, zorks, foam corks, and screw tops.  This is a controversial topic that I’m frequently asked about by new and experienced wine drinkers.  What I share with you today will not solve nor end the controversy as there are ongoing studies to determine what works, what doesn’t and why. 

The wine industry looks at this topic from three different perspectives.  How does a wine enclosure affect the wine by the time it reaches your glass is one concern.  The type of wine made by a producer is of concern and dictates enclosure choice.  Consumer perception and acceptance is also a major concern from the wine industries standpoint.

The world is running out of cork and in particular quality cork.  It takes a tree that produces cork 25 years to grow.  Cork may be the perfect enclosure for a wine bottle.  Oxygen is the problematic common denominator in the discussion of what to use to stop the wine bottle.  Wine is a living and evolving entity within the bottle the changes right up to the day you decide to open it.  Many experts argue whether or not wine continues to need a minuscule amount of oxygen once it has been bottled.  This really depends on what type of wine a winemaker has produced.  If you are Chateau Latour and you produce premium wine that becomes better over a 20 year plus period of time you may want only the very best cork that is available.  The best quality of cork when a wine is being stored perfectly allows a minute amount of oxygen to continue to keep the very finest of wines alive in the bottle.  The best quality of cork serves its purpose by keeping oxygen out of the bottle; this is the miniscule amount of oxygen the experts are suggesting.

Today we live in such an “in the moment” and “instant gratification” world that the wine industry worldwide has responded by producing wines that are made to be consumed within a year of bottling, ninety five percent of them in fact.  These wines are produced in such a way that once they leave the barrel the winery wants them to be buttoned up as airtight as possible.  This way the wine maintains its integrity in the bottle until the moment the wine is poured into your glass.  Wines that are young and produced to be consumed immediately may do better with a high quality foam rubber or the Stelvin (screw cap) enclosure.  Screw caps are actually very good enclosures but are known to become brittle, breakdown and allow oxygen to permeate the wine.  The upside of most synthetic enclosures and screw caps are wines cannot be affected by bad cork tainted with TCA.  The chemical compound TCA ruins wine and makes it smell like moldy newspaper, wet dog, damp cloth, or damp basement.

Cost is another factor in bottling wine.  Quality cork which is hard to get is nearly twice as expensive for wine producers to purchase, 13 cents for cork, versus 7 cents for a synthetic wine enclosure.  Whether a winery is producing a weekday, weekend, or special occasion wine also may dictate the type and quality of bottle enclosure that is used.  When it comes to corks and injection molded (foam rubber stoppers) there are varying qualities.  Wineries use enclosures that are best suited for their wine and their business model in delivering wine to the consumer.

Cork and foam rubber enclosures are not the only methods used in bottling wine.  Some of these enclosures may be very expensive for a producer to use.  Vino-Seal or Vino-Lok is a plastic or glass enclosure system introduced to the European wine market in 2003.  This system hermetically seals the wine bottle which eliminates any ingress of oxygen what so ever which could be problematic.  The cost is also prohibitive at 70 cents per enclosure.  Consider that a bottle, labeling, and enclosure already cost upwards of $4.00 per bottle of wine.  Not great news when a glass corks may add another 70 cents to the equation.  The consumer  loses this battle when bottling expenses escalate. 

The Zork, that’s right, Zork is an enclosure designed for still wines that seals like a screw cap and pops like a cork.  It is an interesting design that hales from down under in Australia.  It is certainly not sexy looking in any way and based upon what the wine industry clearly understands about the psychology of wine labeling it makes me wonder the viability of this style of enclosure.  In other words it doesn’t offer much in the way of sex appeal.

Synthetic enclosures are appealing in an environmental sense in that cork forests may be spared.  The processes by which wine bottle corks are produced make them no more biodegradable than the synthetic enclosure products.  The carbon footprint left behind through manufacturing the synthetic enclosures; well that is a whole other story for another day.

Enjoy your wine in good health no matter whether you pop the cork or unscrew the bottle, cheers to you.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

Grape Farming the South Central Coast Wine Country of California with Nicholas Miller on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/09/11/wine-guy-mike-for-september-11/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© is 5th generation farmer Nicholas Miller.  The Miller family began farming in California growing lemons and avocados, but in the late 1960’s Nicholas’s Late Uncle and Father purchased land in the Santa Maria Valley AVA in the South Central Coast of California.

Originally Franciscan Missionaries from Mexico traveled North to what is now California in the late 18th century.  Wine was a daily staple and was part of a daily ritual with each of the missions.  The Padres planted vineyards that supported the mission’s use of wine.  Between 1848 – 1855 the California Gold Rush brought many Europeans to California and the focus on wine became even more important.

Farming grapes in the South Central Coast wine country region of California began in earnest in the early 1960’s when William De Mattie and Uriel J. Nielson bought 100 acres of cattle ranch followed by Bill Collins who planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sylvaner.  These vineyards were the first commercial operations in the Santa Maria Valley.

The Santa Maria Valley AVA is the Nothernmost area of Santa Barbara County, not to mention that it is one of the most unique viticulture areas in the world.  The Miller Families Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards are located in this unique Santa Maria Valley AVA.  What makes this area so unusual are the way the mountains run perpendicular to the coast as opposed to  all other mountain ranges in California that run parallel to the coast line.  This is the only occurrence of transverse mountain ranges on the coast of North or South America. The San Rafael mountains on the North and Solomon Hills on the South literally create a natural funnel of cool air and moisture that is like a pipeline to the Santa Maria Valley AVA.  This is a Region 1 zone with 1 being the coolest and Region 5 being the warmest.

The cool northwest maritime breezes and the Santa Maria pipeline push this cool moist air directly into the Bien Nacido Vineyards while Solomon hills is situated in the western most area on the Santa Maria Valley AVA and enjoys the constant cool breeze from the Pacific Ocean.  Being located in this Region 1 zone provides the grapes in this area the longest possible growing season or as its known, hang time, of any grapes in California.  What does this translate to in the bottle of wine you and I will enjoy; wines that are complex, nice acidity and a balance of fruit with intense flavor due to a naturally low yield.

The vineyards in this Santa Maria Valley AVA are planted mid-slope and plentiful with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir varietals.  The Eastern area of this AVA supports Bordeaux and Rhone type varietals.

In 1969 the Miller family decided to get into the business of growing grapes and with their expertise of citrus and avocado orchards they had a good idea about where to grow grapes, in some of the best grape terrior in the world, the Santa Maria Valley AVA.  The Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills vineyards are known and respected world wide.

It was an honor to have grape farming expert and Thornhill Companies spokesperson(Miller Family Companies), Nicholas Miller, on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this week.  Nicholas was kind enough to walk me through the family operations. 

Let’s start with the Bien Nacido Vineyard; this vineyard is planted primarily with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, and Syrah. The original plantings came from stock grown by the University of California at Davis and grow on their own rootstock. Bien Nacido also has the distinction of being the first vineyard in California to grow cool climate Syrah.

Solomon Hills Vineyards is the most recently developed vineyard by the Miller family.  Soils in the Solomon Hills Vineyards are composed primarily of ocean floor sandy loams.  The maritime influence results in wines that are crisp, bright, and an elegant balance.  Two of the highest rated Pinot Noirs by Robert Parker Jr. have come from this vineyard in the Santa Maria valley AVA.

What I really took away from this story besides the fact that the Miller family produces world class grapes in their vineyards from the South Central Coast wine region is their level of commitment to the wine industry.

Thornhill companies which is the parent company umbrella of not only the vineyards but other Miller family companies that provide a complete array of  support facilities and services.   These facilities and services have been   made available to small boutique labels and larger winemakers alike.

Central Coast Wine Services supports the Wine Industry by providing a full Wine Service business.  This operation assists both grape growers and wineries by expanding their alternatives for fermenting, aging, storing, finishing, bottling, tasting with their clients, and storing their case goods production. In addition, the Miller family provides a quality wine laboratory, a retail delivery service, local consolidation, less expensive nationwide shipping, direct shipping to reciprocal states, and wine club operations that now can operate under a single roof.

Central Coast Wine Services has a truck size scale, a crusher-destemmer, multiple presses, almost 2,000,000 gallons of stainless steel tanks, space to store more than 10,000 barrels, two bottling lines, room for approximately 485,00 cases of wine, a small producers crush pad, a rail siding, numerous truck docks, a conference room with an attached kitchen for wine tasting, and space rented both to other wineries and wine related, services businesses, including one of the foremost wine labs in California, currently comprises over 250,000 square feet.

The remarkable growth of the Central Coast Wine Services has paralleled the growth and recognition of Central Coast wine production.  The Central Coast Wine Services has recently started a sister organization; The Paso Robles Wine Services, which is located in Paso Robles, to serve small and moderate size wineries in that area.

When I asked Nicholas to suggest a few great winemakers that you and I should watch for he had these recommendations to share:

Qupé; is dedicated to producing handcrafted Rhône varietals and Chardonnay from California’s Central Coast. They employ traditional winemaking techniques to make wines that are true to type and exhibit terrior. Their goal is to make wines with impeccable balance that can be enjoyed in their youth, yet because of the good acidity from cool vineyard sites can also benefit from ageing.  http://qupe.com/

Au Bon Climat; The winery has cultivated an international reputation for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Jim Clendenen, the “Mind Behind” Au Bon Climat, is recognized worldwide for his classically-styled wines (in addition to his Burgundian-focused ABC wines, Jim is also highly regarded for his Italian and other French varietals). In 1989 and 1990 Au Bon Climat was on Robert Parker’s short list of Best Wineries in the World.  http://www.aubonclimat.com/about.html

Tantara; Since 1997, Tantara has been dedicated to producing the very finest Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah.  Located on the beautiful Bien Nacido Vineyard in Santa Maria Valley (Santa Barbara County), our wines are sourced from top Central Coast growers and vineyard designate from vineyards such as Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills.  http://tantarawinery.com/

J Wilkes; They are dedicated to producing only small lots of handcrafted wines from the Santa Maria Valley while maintaining the natural delicacy of the grapes. Over the past two decades, J. Wilkes wines have been made by sourcing high quality fruit from Bien Nacido and Solomon Hills Vineyards.  http://jwilkes.com/

I would like to thank Nicholas Miller for joining me on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this week and sharing the rich history and story from 5 generations of the Miller Family.  Congratulations Nicholas to you and your wife on the birth of your new baby, the next generation.

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"

“Wine… it’s been berry berry good… to me,” Summer All Star lineup on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©


Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and Fresh 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at http://www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 10:00AM MDT.

Each week WineGuyMike™ will be giving away gift certificates from our sponsors.  If your question is selected as WineGuyMike’s™ topic of discussion you will win one of the $20.00 – $25.00 gift certificates.  Good luck and send your questions to WineGuyMike™ on his Facebook fan page.

Social Media links;

Today’s Podcast; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2011/09/04/wine-guy-mike-for-september-4th/

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebook; WineGuyMike please “like”

Twitter; @WineGuyMike please follow me

Sponsors      

Ciao Mambo, “Eat Like You Mean It”, located in Missoula on The Hip Strip.  Find them online at http://www.CiaoMambo.com

W.J. Deutsch & Sons since 1981 has been marketing quality wines produced by prestigious families from major wine regions of the world. 

Georges Distributing in Helena, Montana.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© it occurred to me the holiday in America known as, “Labor Day,” is like a break that takes place with one of America’s favorite past times, Baseball and its All Star Break.  Now for those of you reading this that may not be familiar with Baseball, really, there is a break that takes place just after the mid-point of the season.  During this three day break, just like Labor Day weekend, the sport of baseball showcases its top athletes’ in an All Star Baseball game that the world can watch on Television.

Well this is that point of the wine season for me and I thought it would be nice to take a look back over the summer at some of the wines I have written about on my blog and talked about on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show©.  This Labor Day weekend is really a turning point for wine drinkers, winemakers, and winery owners.  Wine drinkers like you and I will still enjoy our go to summer wines for another few weeks but then the season begins to change and so will the wines we choose to drink, it’s a natural evolution.  

Winery owners are beginning to think about the harvest.  They are considering what Mother Nature has given them in the way of weather in the spring and summer and what the harvest will produce.  The grapes have begun Veraison or the transition of growth into the ripening stage and everyone hopes for warm days, cool nights, and dry weather.  This is what produces good grapes at harvest.

Winemakers are pondering the timing, and weather of past seasons, reflecting on what the grapes have given them to work with from vintages past.  That is what they are beginning to think about as they sip on their glass of wine after a long days work in the vineyard for winemakers from smaller vineyards.  Larger operations may have many specialists, but for many vineyards they are farmers first and then transition after harvest into their true specialized rolls.

As I thought about all that I share with you today I really kept coming back to the parallel with baseball.  The season has changed and now we are entering the last trimester.  This is where it all counts, winding down the season and delivering the goods.

One of Saturday Night Lives’ best known sketches was about baseball and a certain character in particular.   In this comedic sketch Garrett Morris who portrayed the Dominican baseball player Chico Escuela, who spoke very disjointed English, delivered one of the best known catch phrases ever to a television audience; “Baseball… been berra berra good… to me.”

This week I give you my summer All Star lineup of wines.  The criteria for this lineup may exclude many of the great wines I have enjoyed this summer because the wines I share with you today must; affordable for the regular girl or guy, refreshing, easy to find, and go great with your Labor Day grillin’ and chillin’ get together with friends and family.  But I want to leave you with this parting thought; “Wine… it’s been berry berry good… to me™.”

A few Labor Day wine recommendations from WineGuyMike™:

Balletto 2008 Pinot Gris

One of my go to wines of the summe.  This pale-straw colored wine opens with musky and exotic fresh fig and floral honey tones.  The secondary aromas reveal ripe red apple, melon and lemon.  Altogether, these aromas are ever-changing and intoxicating.  In the mouth, it’s lush and perfectly viscous with a dose of tartness that balances and holds the wine together.

The fig and honey aromas make a secondary appearance in the finish to create a generous and incredibly long aftertaste that’s enhanced with a hint of butterscotch.

Lucien Albrecht Reserve Riesling

A beautiful French Riesling from the Alsace region of France.  This wine has a lovely nose that offers up both minerality and nice floral notes.  In the mouth this wine is both elegant and robust.  It has such great structure and being an Alsatian Riesling is beautifully dry and crisp.  Pair this with your seafood dishes this weekend.

Tuck Beckstoffer’s 75 Sauvignon Blanc

This wine presents as a classic Graves-style Sauvignon Blanc.  The light straw color is reminiscent of classic left-bank Bordeaux Blanc, while the flavors are a perfect blend of old-world complexity and crisp North Coast fruit.  The nose is just right on this gem, neither to fruity or grassy, but a nice aromatic of grass and grapefruit. On the palate this wine offers bright fruit flavors of apple skin and pear balanced by undertones of cherimoya, fig and melon.

This wine is the perfect pairing for soft cheeses, summer salads, grilled chicken and is one of my favorite domestic Sauvignon Blancs.

Vipra Bianca 2009

On the nose, this dry white wine expresses hints of fresh almonds, acacia, and citrus.  It is rich, yet fresh with a savory, elegant flavor.  This Italian white wine is a nice alternative to Sauvignon Blanc yet maintains a nice partnership with food because of the nice balance of fruit and acidity.

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2009

The Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages 2009 is very well made.  This wine has wonderful tannin, is lush and full of its beautiful berry self.  It is a wonderfully balanced wine that will be so food friendly due to its fruit and acid companionship.  It doesn’t stop there though this wine for me delivers a great little nuance of toast and butter too.  It’s like a great mildly toasted piece of bread with homemade raspberry and cherry jam.  Serve this wine slightly chilled and pair it with everything from burgers, a nice grilled steak, or even a nice filet of grilled salmon.

Pennywise Pinot Noir

Light brick red in color with hints of emerald, the 2009 Pinot Noir blend of 94% Pinot Noir and 6% Syrah delivers aromas of cherries jubilee, root beer, rose petal, and cotton candy.  In the mouth this wine coats the palate with flavors of delicate plum, strawberry, watermelon rind, cream caramel, and vanilla bean.  The finish leaves you with delicate notes of fresh summer sweet strawberries.  Pair this wine with salads to pork chops or burgers, inexpensive and great to serve at a gathering.

Le Clos

This new wine, just released, is the latest addition to Domaine Sainte Eugénie.  It is unique in that it has a slight, refined oak character, highlighting a sturdy base of red fruit and oriental spices. Bringing into play terroir and savoir-faire, tradition and exotic flair, Le Clos seems to be like something out of “The Arabian Nights.”  This wine displays an attractive raspberry red color with hints of garnet.  Its nose is lively and complex, with notes of red and black fruits.  Refined oak fragrance (very subtle) with hints of incense, spices (nutmeg, clove, ginger), anise, autumn woods and tobacco.  Le Clos is very soft on the palate, with a fresh, tangy acidity, and delivers wonderful balance.  It is well-structured yet elegant, with fine tannins.  It will perfectly accompany a roast rack of lamb, barbecued beef or pork chops with fine herbs.

Rosenere Reggiano Lambrusco

Speaking of refreshing this sparkling gem from Italy was so nice to taste. The Rosenere immediately shows beautifully in the glass, a rich and lovely deep purple color with perfect frothy head. Remember this is what a good Lambrusco should have and even as this wine sits in between sips and you give it a swirl the nice frothy head returns immediately.

The nose on this beauty is equally as pleasing with notes of grape, raspberry, strawberry, and a little cherry. On the palate this wine is so tasty with nicely balanced fruit, acid, and tannin. The Rosenere Lambrusco is like an extra-dry Prosecco which means it is semi-dry and is slightly sweet. The sweetness is appropriate and not annoying in any way.  It just feels right in your mouth, and it is.  The finish leaves you with a delightful lingering memory of refreshing fruit.

This fun frizzante sparkler is nice to pair with rich dishes you may serving or is perfect to enjoy with a nice wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese as an appetizer.

The Sum

 The inaugural vintage of The Sum is a cabernet based blended red wine created by Tuck Beckstoffer whose family is widely considered to be the most famous grape growing family in the Napa Valley.

This amazingly well endowed profoundly rich red wine must be smelled and tasted to be believed.  The color is a rich, deep purple garnet and gives but a small hint as to what’s inside. The nose gives off soaring and wonderfully focused aromas of ripe stone fruit, vanilla, cherries, cedar cigar box, blackberries and cinnamon.  In the mouth, there are layers upon layers of broad, sweet opulent fruit balanced by firm tannins, great acidity and oak. 

This wine is amazing and offers huge value, just one word on pairing with this bad boy from Tuck; Steak, steak and more steak.  I recommend firing up your grill now because this wine at this price point will blow you away.

Saracco Moscato d’Asti 2008 D.O.C.G.

A fabulous way to end the day with this beautiful wine that offers a perfume of fresh peach, pear and aromatic white flowers.  A gentle sparkle brightens the fruit and a tingle of sweetness hints of candied fruits.  This wine is perfect as refreshing aperitif or a light finish to a meal.  Moscato d’ Asti is highly aromatic with notes of fruit and white flowers, Paolo Saracco keeps tight control of the harvest to ensure a perfect acid balance to the natural sweetness of this grape.   A slight sparkle is traditional for Moscato d’Asti, it lifts the fruit and guarantees a wine that is light and refreshing.  It is your dessert in a glass, everyone loves this wine.

My favorite summer recipe from WineGuyMike™:

Start with a very hot grill and a nice New York Strip Steak.

Sear on both sides for 2-3 minutes.

Kill the heat and let the steak hangout in the grill at 200 degrees

Saute sweet onions with a finely sliced mixture of peppers from mildly to fairly hot.

Your steaks should be between medium rare and medium at this point.

Plate steaks and your onion and pepper sauté right on top.  This dish has incredible flavor with just a hint of sweetness and heat from the sauté.

Pair that with The Sum I have recommended in my summer All Star wine lineup and you are in heaven.

Have a wonderful Labor Day celebration; I’ve enjoyed sharing some of my summer favorites and this recipe with you.  Salute!

"from my table to yours"

"from my table to yours"