Tag Archives: chardonnay

Summer sips that make a palatable splash

My friend Kathy arrived ready to roll, quite literally rolling two pieces of luggage as she exited the terminal. Her arrival to Ft. Myers, Florida from Boston was prompted by her thirst for some vitamin D. Following a year-plus of lockdown, she was primed and more than ready for a few splashes. The first splash was a pour from a bottle of Angels & Cowboys Sonoma County 2020 Rosé. This barely pink-toned grenache-based rosé, sourced from one of my favorite vineyard spots in California: Russian River and Dry Creek Valleys, is modestly priced at $15.99.

One sip and I was transported to my time living in Northern California and driving along the Russian River for wine tastings in Dry Creek Valley. This is a stellar region for rosé production, especially when said rosé is made with grenache grapes. But wait, there’s more. A touch of syrah, carignan and pinot noir adds finesse to the final product.

Another sip transported me to the French Riviera, where rosé wine tastes much like this Angels & Cowboys version. A slight hint of citrus and ripened strawberries on the nose led to a palate of delicate-infusion of pulverized sweet-tart candy and pixie sticks, but with a soft mouthfeel. And just like that I was transported to joyful childhood memories of filling a brown bag with penny candy.

The only thing better than this rosé would be its sister sparkling version, a Brut Rosé made in the traditional Champagne method (secondary fermentation in the bottle for fine bubbles). Kathy and I toasted to being fully vaccinated as we cozied into the wicker rattan furniture on the screen-covered lanai in her second home, a.k.a. snowbird escape. Front and center was the heated pool, which served as our centerpiece; we jumped in for a splash soon enough.

Angels & Cowboys Brut Rosé paired nicely with the act of two friends catching up and enjoying some overdue fun in the sun. At $24 a bottle, this bubbly is one to keep in the wine refrigerator for moments like this, when a plate of artisanal cheeses from Brent, TheCheeseGuy.com is all that we want for dinner.

One bite of Ghost Pepper Jack vegetarian cheese would have brought Kathy to her knees, but she had seen the wrapper and decided to test out a nibble. “Once you get past the initial heat, it’s delicious,” she said, but stopped after a few bites. I opted for the Viney Sheep aged over 9 months in red wine, made from the milk of grass-fed sheep of Italy. This was one of the best cheeses I’ve ever tasted and I’m happy to share it’s lactose-free.

This sparkling rosé is an iconic blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier, sourced from Mendocino and Sonoma counties (Sonoma pinot noir rocks my world!) from vintages 2012 to 2018. It’s bouquet of bright fruit and crisp minerality led to tastes of licorice and watermelon in the lightest taste.  

This spring, Ondine Chattan, head winemaker for Share a Splash Wine co., released a Cannonball Chardonnay from grapes sourced from Coastal California vineyards. Share a Splash was started in 2006 as Cannonball Wine Company. At the helm, Yoav Gilat’s vision was to create the best $20 California Cabernet. The company expanded to a portfolio that includes Cannonball, ELEVEN by Cannonball, Angels & Cowboys, New Zealand’s Astrolabe Wines and High Dive Napa Valley.

I opened a bottle of Ondine’s Cannonball Chardonnay (2019) and wondered about the label of a boy crouched in the cannonball position above waves. How does this relate to a chardonnay? Well, one has to have dexterity and balance and exhibit a fearless persona to be able to perfect the summer splash of a cannonball from a pool’s diving board. This chardonnay happens to exhibit an uninhibited spirit of liveliness that begins with its fun twist-off, easy to open cap. The bouquet is like a first kiss — of oak — and leads to a stone fruit with a slight pineapple finish. You’ll be craving a lemon meringue pie once you taste this, so you should probably make the pie before opening a bottle. ($15.99)

Hooked on Historic Chardonnay

Napa Valley’s most famous winery we all know as Chateau Montelena was a chateau founded by Alfred Tubbs, who made his fortune selling rope during the Gold Rush. Today it’s a winery best known for its silver-screen moment in the film, “Bottleshock” — which tells the story (loosely adapted) of the “Judgment of Paris” in 1976. The story was based on an international wine competition that included Montelena’s chardonnay, which surprisingly bested its French counterpart in a blind tasting. At that time, the winery was owned by Jim Barrett, who opened the winery in 1972. Today, following Jim’s death in 2013, Chateau Montelena is run by his son, Bo, and it’s world-famous chardonnay is crafted by winemaker on-site, Matthew Crafton.

The quality of this chardonnay hasn’t skipped a beat when it comes to its elegance, not even since that tasting of ’76. Open a bottle of 2016 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and you’ll be able to relate. This is a bottle that presents notes of fresh florals and a palate of crisp acidity that adds to the wine’s freshness. It’s a perfect wine to open at the onset of Thanksgiving dinner. While some chardonnays are “oaked out” and compete with the buttery mashed potatoes on the table, this chardonnay will complement with its ideal oak and fruit balance. You might not want to switch to reds during dinner.

In fact, once you’ve tasted this 2016 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, you may be tempted to order more. And why not? The exclusive privileges of wine club membership include access to enjoy picnics in the private Chinese pagodas on the elegant grounds surrounded by resident swans, fish, vineyards and some of the best wines in California.

Charlene Peters, a.k.a. SipTripper, is a WSET Level 2 Certified wine writer with extensive experience traveling the world to explore New and Old World wines and indigenous culinary creations to share with readers. She can be reached at siptripper@gmail.com

Judging a wine by its label

Unlike a book cover, judging a wine by its label is trendy and assumed. And when you see a chardonnay label with artwork of buttery yellow drips, it’s safe to assume the chardonnay will taste like a butter bomb.

Au Jus is a 2017 Monterey County Chardonnay ($25) showcasing a robust malolactic fermentation; its label doesn’t lie. This glass of liquid gold was crafted from grapes grown in the best conditions offered in a coastal climate. The aromas of this wine brought the label of dripping butter to life, and on my palate, this chardonnay reveled in the smooth, stone fruit flavors and buttery finish.

Los Angeles Street Artist, Saber, created the label on the Au Jus chardonnay, but all the labels on 1849 Wine products are a depiction of contemporary inspiration from the art movement of the 21st century. In fact, every handcrafted bottle of 1849 Wine reflects the artistic spirit and dedication to the art of wine making.

My next taste was a 2016 Pinot Noir of Sonoma Coast called iris ($30), with a kaleidoscope-colored graffiti label Saber titled “Tool of Dissent”. The philosophy of a prevailing idea is what dissent is all about, but I have to be honest here and admit that outside of the label, this is everything you’d expect a pinot noir grown on the Sonoma Coast to be: aromas of violets and a palate tinged with earthy elements but dominated with red licorice flavors of raspberry, which I personally love — but nothing beyond the typical.

It is worth noting that this pinot noir was barrel aged for 10 months in French and Hungarian Oak and has won several awards: a double gold medal at the 2018 Sonoma County Harvest Fair; a gold medal at the 2018 San Francisco International Wine Competition and at the 2018 Harvest Challenge and Sommelier Challenge, and a silver medal at the 2018 Millennial Awards and New Orleans International Wine Awards.

They say that women generally select wines by the label, and while I don’t personally use this method of selection, I totally understand the allure to visuals. My recommendation: Choose the Au Jus every time!

Charlene Peters, a.k.a. SipTripper, is a WSET Level 2 Certified wine writer with extensive experience traveling the world to explore New and Old World wines and indigenous culinary creations to share with readers. She can be reached at siptripper@gmail.com


Presenting The Countess of Grantham Collection

These New World bottlings take inspiration from Lady Cora Crawley, the thoroughly modern, American-born wife of British aristocrat Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham. The collection’s red wine is a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with scents of ripe red cherries that blend with spicy notes and soft vanilla on the palate. The white wine is a Chardonnay that offers the lovely aromas of tropical fruits and delicate oak giving way to citrus flavors on a soft, silky palate.

Combining the best old world winemaking practices with the newest winemaking techniques, the finished wines offer a distinct new taste option for Downton Abbey Wine fans seeking a uniquely modern twist.

Ask your local wine retailer for more information.

Hitched on Bridlewood wines

I’ve been enjoying Bridlewood wines for years, so it’s always exciting to open a new vintage. Adding to the excitement of drinking Bridlewood wines is the fact that I once dined with the winemaker at Harvest Restaurant in Cambridge.

Browsing through a wine list at a restaurant, it’s a thrill to identify the wine with its winemaker, and when a new vintage is released, the excitement is re-lived. I recently shared four new releases with friends, and here’s what we noted:

#1 – Bridlewood 2011 Central Coast Blend 175 ($15)
This is one of my all-time favorites of Bridlewood, mainly because I enjoy a good blend of reds. This one has syrah, cabernet sauvignon, viognier and petite syrah grapes picked from the Central Coast, California. The process of the winemaking for this blend is intricate, racking off of gross lees and again at six months to allow the rich fruit flavors to open fully – you may not understand the process, but you’ll appreciate the end result. Dark, jammy fruit flavors with a touch of oak and a nice smooth finish.

#2 – Bridlewood 2011 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon ($15)
There is nothing quite like a good glass of cab, and for this one, the feedback was comprehensive: Very dark purple, very long legs, smells insanely delicious, like plums, prunes, dark purple fruits – with a vanilla scent. Very light on first sip, but then … the finish was long, smooth, satiny on the palate – tasty and sweet. Suggestions from this sipper on pairing: a contrasting dish of garlic-base and sautéed spinach – maybe with a nice herbaceous steak (black pepper, garlic). In the meantime, this wine was enjoyed on a cool afternoon watching the boats on the harbor and listening to nearby musicians playing soft music at the yacht club. Life is good.

#3 – Bridlewood 2011 Monterey County Chardonnay ($15)
Monterey County’s Pacific breezes and sunshine set the stage for this tropical fruit flavored wine mixed with oaky notes of vanilla and spice. If left for a year or two, this wine will open up with caramel aromas and add more complexities to its taste. Great pairing with chicken, fish, cheeses…

#4 – Bridlewood 2011 Monterey County Pinot Noir ($18)
Now for my favorite of the four 2011 releases. Perhaps it’s knowing that the pinot noir grape is so delicate, and harvesting these grapes is an art form in a sense. The end result is worth the effort, as the freshness of the fruity grapes and the perfectly oaked notes of vanilla and caramel give this wine a good standing with intense, rich flavors. But wait, there’s more! The pinot noir grapes did not stand alone in this wine. A small percentage of zinfandel grapes were added to enhance the mouth feel and add more structure. So that’s how they did it…

For more information, visit www.BridlewoodWinery.com.Image