Vinquire Blogs

Syndicate content
Recent blog entries on
Updated: 2 years 25 weeks ago

WBW #48: Back to Our Roots (3 comments)

August 22, 2016 - 11:00am
It’s hard to believe, but it’s been 4 years since Lenn Thompson of LennDevours conceived of Wine Blogging Wednesday with some of his cohorts in wine.

For this, the 48th Wine Blogging Wednesday, Lenn asked us to get back to our roots. Our wine roots that is. Since I didn’t want to encourage the consumption of any more Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers or Sutter Home White Zinfandel than necessary, I encouraged my wine blogging posse to think about which wine inspired them to get into wine. What do you drink that strikes a chord? Which wine do you go back to time and time again?

While we all chose different wines to offer as our inspiration, one thing is clear: we know what we love, and we love what we know. Most of the wines tasted were from California, and were full bodied and fruity. The notable exception was brought by our Canadian friends, and was a delicious example of a Chianti Classico.

Still being a student of Old World wines myself, my question is this: are we a product of our environment, or is the environment a product of us? Specifically, do we shape the wines that are offered to our palates, or are our palates shaped to the wine we are offered? This is the question that has been asked throughout the ages: is it nature or nurture? Are we prone to liking something because it's fresh & accessible (nature), or have we been conditioned into liking a style because it's being produced (nurture)? Has the "Sideways effect" colored our palates? You decide!

The top 4 wines that we tasted were:

2005 Felsina Chianti Classico Castelnuova BerardengaAvg Rating 90
Read Reviews, Buy
A nice medium bodied Chianti, with good spicy, followed by notes of smoke & leather. Great for everyday drinking.

2005 David Bruce Santa Maria Valley Pinot NoirAvg Rating 90
Read Reviews, Buy
This beautiful example of a California Pinot Noir was full bodies & fruity. Clear notes of cherry were followed by lots of spice. This was a crowd pleaser and quickly disappeared off the table!

2005 Martin Family Old Vine Zinfandel, Rattler Rock Russian River ValleyAvg Rating 89
Read Reviews, Buy
A wine-school classic example of Dry Creek Valley. This wine was jammy and full of blackberries, but not sweet. A ton of spice shone through the massive fruit, with lots of cinnamon and black fruit.

2003 Amista Dry Creek Valley Cabernet SauvignonAvg Rating 87
Read Reviews, Buy
The Amista Dry Creek Cabernet did not start of tasting like a Cab. The dense & meaty wine shows like a syrah, but finishes with the spice & cocoa of a cab.

- WineBratSF
Wed, 6:01 PM (Aug 13th, 2008)

WBW #47: The Letter S (0 comments)

August 22, 2016 - 11:00am
S is for ... well, it could be for a lot of things, but in this case, S is for the Silly theme for this month’s WBW. Grape Juice, our illustrious hosts for this month, asked us to abandon our serious sides, if we had one, and go back to our childhood where we could color outside the lines and be creative without consequences. This vague theme caused us to have some challenges, but it was an interesting push to get us to try something new. Below you will find a variety of "S" wines, from the region to the vineyard to the varietal, to all three and beyond. Prepare to be Stupefied by the Silly Sheer number of S’s accomplished!

S is for Syrah so brooding and smoky
S is for Steven Kent over bearing and Oaky
S is for Sonoma so diverse and vast
S is for Semillon who kicks chardonnay's ass.
The most prolific S produced was Syrah, with a total of 3 to start with. Our favorite was a double S, taking home an average 90 points. The 2004 Sobon Estate Amador Syrah (Reviews, Buy) showed a bit hot at first, but after some air time, it really improved. We found raisins, rose petals and spice with dark berries followed by smoke and rich earth. This was a rich syrah that really needs to be decanted to bring out it’s best notes.

The next two are actually triple S’s, with the varital being syrah and the appellation being an S in some form. The 2005 Sierra Vista Sierra Foothills Syrah (Reviews, Buy) was a bit soft, with not a huge amount of depth but some light fruit flavors, and nice earthy characteristics in a lighter bodied syrah. We gave it an average of 87 points. Also given 87 points, we enjoyed the 2005 Santa Barbara Winery Santa Ynez Valley Syrah for its strong berry flavors with a lot of pepper. It finished a bit tart, but was concentrated and classic in a Santa Barbara kind of way.
Not to be forgotten, we also had some white S’s hanging out in the woodwork to be judged. Semillon? Sauvignon Blanc? Santa Cruz? Yes! We say yes!

St. Hallett Barossa Semillon Sauvignon Blanc Poachers Blend (Reviews, Buy) was really interesting because with only a smattering of Sauv Blanc, you would expect the Semillon to power through. The opposite was true. We found green grass, lime, tart flavors and a lot of spice coming from the Sauv Blanc with a tinge of that Semillon funkiness. We gave it a collective 86 points.

Not to be outdone, a pure Sauv Blanc got a score of 84 points. The 2005 Silver Birch World Wines Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough (Reviews, Buy) comes in an unusual bottle, that reminds one of a Vox Vodka and other alcoholic beverages. Surprisingly, for a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, there was not a lot of finish. It was pretty much middle of the road, and tasted mixed up, with the requisite mineral and citrus flavors.

Since we had a Semillon mixed in with the Sauvignon Blanc, we added a 2007 Elena Russian River Valley Semillon for comparison. It was not a good idea. RUN! Run very far away! I suspect that it was off, unless you think dirty feet, mildew and wet dog are appropriate flavor profiles in wine. I think our friend Brett is at work here.

Since we were so wrong with the Semillon, it was nice to have an unoaked fruity chardonnay enter the ring, in the form of Tower Brook Santa Barbara Chardonnay (Reviews, Buy). This basic non oaked Chardonnay was well liked at 87 points, but not very exciting. There was a lot of spice, with tropical fruit flavors.

Just to spice things up, a rose somehow ended up on the table. The Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare Santa Cruz Mountain Rose (Reviews, Buy) was tart with strawberries & citrus bright flavors. We rated it 86 points.

Finally, we had a dark and brooding Zinfandel from Sherrer. The 2005 Sherrer Alexander Valley Sherrer Vineyard Shale Terrace Zinfandel was a nice change from some overblown zins from another valley, showing light fruit like pomegranate, hibiscus and pepper. We gave it 87 points.

This was definitely a challenging taste-off. With our wines and our palates all over the place, can we really evaluate them fairly? You be the judge. What do you think?
Happy drinking!

- WineBratSF
Tue, 8:37 PM (Jul 8th, 2008)

WBW #46: Rhone Whites (1 comment)

August 22, 2016 - 11:00am
We had a bit of a taste-a-thon this month, thanks to Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 for inspiring us to be creative with Wine Blogging Wednesday.

We were really all over the map for this one, and had several misses but a few gems with great value.

Our Favorite
2006 McManis Vineyards ViognierAvg rating 90
Read Reviews, Buy
This wine comes from the River Junction appellation, which is just south of Lodi, California. With an average rating of 90 points, this bottle was purchased at BevMo for $11.99 and tasted like a jar of spices fell in a bottle of nectarines that were soaking in a mellow white wine. This was quite a luscious white. With 13.5% alcohol, it was the last wine we tasted before getting a little crazy and we all enjoyed it.

3-way Tie For 2nd
2006 La Vieille Ferme Cotes du LuberonAvg rating 87
Read Reviews, Buy
The 2006 La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Luberon was also purchased from BevMo, for $7.99. This dry white blend is made from several Rhone varietals: Grenache Blanc, Bourboulenc, Roussanne and Ugni Blanc. We found lots of spice and green herbaciousness, with a lot of citrus and lime on the palate. With a mild 12.5% alcohol, it wasn’t terribly exciting and only scored one rating of 87 points.

2006 Gregory Graham Lake County ViognierAvg rating 87
Read Reviews, Buy
The La Vielle tied with the 2006 Gregory Graham Lake County Viognier, produced by a small shop in Lake County, north of Napa. This was the first wine we tasted, and I think the sweetness we perceived made it difficult to evaluate fairly. When the group re-tasted it at the end, we enjoyed it more and gave it an average rating of 87. This bottle was purchased at Mill Valley Market for $20, and we found sweet tropical fruit, nectarines and a floral nose.

2007 Chateau L'ermitageAvg rating 87
Read Reviews, Buy
Finally, the 2007 Chateau L'ermitage also received an average score of 87. This easy drinking French white was also purchased at Mill Valley Market, for $12, but can also be found at The Wine Mine (Oakland) for $9.99. We all really enjoyed this traditionally Rhone white, and its crispness reminded us of a California Sauvignon Blanc, even though it is made from Rousanne, Viognier and Grenache Blanc. We found crisp citrus and grapefruit, with a dry mineral finish.

Honorable Mention
2006 Cline Marsanne Rousanne CarnerosAvg rating 86
Read Reviews, Buy
I have to give an honorable mention to the 2006 Cline Marsanne Rousanne Carneros blend, since it’s affordable, and easy to find. This bottle was found at BevMo for $11.99. Cline has been making consistent efforts in the Rhone varietal market for a long time. The Marsanne for this blend are estate grown, in the Carneros Region of southern Sonoma, while the Roussane is grown in a Sonoma Coast vineyards. Our average rating was 86 points and we found it to be floral and slightly sweet, with lemon & grapefruit notes followed by a nice crisp finish.

2005 Sainte Croix ViognierAvg rating 80
Read Reviews, Buy
Finally, I would have to say avoid the budget minded 2005 Sainte Croix Viognier, purchased at Trader Joe’s for a whopping $3.99, since it had some strange flavors going on. The average rating was 79.5 points, and we found yeasty butterscotch, cheese, and a lot of acetone like citrus.

Happy drinking!

- WineBratSF
Tue, 12:59 PM (Jun 10th, 2008)

RetailerSelect & Local Searching (3 comments)

August 22, 2016 - 11:00am
Vinquire has added a new feature and we wanted you to be the first to know. Our new RetailerSelect option allows you to perform a "local search" of the wine retailers in your neighborhood only, to help you find that great bottle much closer to home.

It's simple to use: enter the name of the wine into the search field (as you've always done), but now, by selecting "Local Retailers", you can enter your zip code and a maximum distance to limit the results to wines near your home. Additionally, Vinquire displays the results on Google MapsTM, so you can easily see where they are located and how to get there.

Here's an example search for "Beringer Private Reserve" in San Francisco, CA.

Why We Love "Local" SearchingHow many times have you found a great deal searching a wine, only to discover that the retailer is nowhere near you? Now our new "local search" feature can help you avoid the hassles of long distance ordering:
  • Exorbitant shipping prices (especially for small purchases)
  • Retailers that won't ship long distance
  • Waiting a week (or longer) for UPS to deliver that bottle that you needed NOW
  • Warm weather risks. Depending on the time of year, it may not be the best climate for shipping high-end bottles around the country.

Finding Local RetailersWe've also added a "Find Retailers" section to the website to help you locate retailers in your area. Once you've selected a retailer, you can click to search only their inventory to see what the store has available before you visit.

Happy HuntingCall it what you will...we've got buzz words like "geographical awareness," "vicinity based," and "proximity search enabled" — but at the end of the day, we think it's just plain cool. We hope you enjoy the new features!

- Vinquire
Sun, 5:29 PM (May 4th, 2008)

WBW #45: Old World Riesling (0 comments)

August 22, 2016 - 11:00am
I will admit, we have been remiss in not doing more WBW episodes, but we came back with a bang for WBW 45’s Old World Riesling.

It was an interesting evening, which brings to mind the question that I first started to ponder after reading an article on regional / ethnic preferences in wine. The overall consensus of this Bay Area based crew was that these wines were not to our style, but could be enjoyable in specific situations. Is it because we were raised primarily on the New World varieties like the classic California Chardonnays of yesteryear and their heavy, oakey body or the crisp Sauv Blancs from New Zealand that have flooded the market? Or is it simply because we have limited access to some of these Old World varieties, and we haven't’ had the drinking history with them? Nature or nurture, what develops your palate more? There is some evidence to suggest that certain ethnic groups have a natural disposition to certain types of wine, but how much of it is what is readily available? Is living in the capital of the New World wine country skewing our tastes toward those types of wines? I wonder, and will continue to explore the Old World trying to find something that suits my taste as much as a New World red would.

The Top 2Out of the five wines tried, our favorites were:

2006 Ulrich Langguth RieslingHessische BergstrasseGermanyAvg rating 89
Read Reviews, Buy
Tropical fruit, citrus, lightly sweet with good body, but lacking finish. Effervescent.

2004 Trimbach Alsace RieslingFranceAvg rating 88.7
Read Reviews, Buy
We also really enjoyed this crisp Alsatian sample, that we could swear was a Sauvignon Blanc given it’s acidity. Pale, Crisp, light. Grapefruit, apples & lemon show big acid. Scents of hay and green grasses on the nose.

The Other 3In our opinions, these last three were only mediocre, and not something we would rush right out and spend our economic stimulus checks on.

2004 Rheingau Riesling QualitätsweinGermanyAvg rating 86.5
Read Reviews, Buy
Sweet pink grapefruit & jujubes. Apricots and honeysuckle, very fruity. Funky smell.
A little funk/cheese with some leather and something — maybe. Some white pepper, too.

2004 Grans-Fassian Piesporter Goldtröptchen Riesling-SpätlesseGermanyAvg rating 85
Read Reviews, Buy
Sweet and almost tingling / sparkeling. Tastes a bit like cream soda or honey. Goes well with spicy foods.
Needs to be colder or to have more brawn due to sweetness. Not my style.

2006 Niersteiner Riesling KabinettGermanyAvg rating 82
Read Reviews, Buy
Very fruity, with mango and spice. Very acidic, lots of green apple.
Tastes like a sparkler or somebody dropped an alka seltzer in it.

Thea, for the Vinquire WBW Posse

- WineBratSF
Sun, 3:36 PM (May 4th, 2008)