Sunday, January 15, 2017

Taste and Talk: High Regards for Raymond Vineyards

Rich and Refined Wines in Napa Valley

Photo from Raymond Vineyards
Raymond Vineyards, located in the Rutherford AVA of Napa Valley, was founded in 1970.  Today, Raymond's estate includes 300 acres in Rutherford, St. Helena and Jameson Canyon. Raymond Vineyards has deep roots, as it goes back five generations and is the offspring of two wine families (Raymond and Beringer) through marriage.
Photo from Raymond Vineyards
As of 2009, Raymond has been under the Boisset Family Estates and the guidance of Proprietor Jean-Charles Boisset.
Jean-Charles Boisset (Photo from Boisset Family Estates)
This month, #WiningHourChat featured organic, biodynamic and sustainably farmed wines and wineries.  It was interesting to explore the differences and nuances between these three types of wine-growing and wine-making styles.*  Raymond Vineyards was a great choice, not just because their wines are delicious, but because Raymond’s Rutherford and St. Helena estate vineyards are certified organic and biodynamic, and 100% of the winery’s power comes from renewable solar energy. So, we were delighted to have them as our guest on #WiningHourChat to talk about the winery, wine-making process, answer questions and discuss latest vintages. We were honored to have several of our "winefriends" on for the chat, along with Raymond. Despite the rain and floods occurring recently in the Napa Valley, the folks at Raymond Vineyards were full of sunshine.  It may have been raining, but they were pouring--wine, that is!
Photo: Raymond Vineyards
#WiningHourChat's Raymond Vineyards Tasting:
After sharing information on our chat about the location, history and background of the winery, we discussed a few of Raymond Vineyards' latest vintages. Here are a few highlights from our conversation and tasting:

#WiningHourChat: While we enjoy all of your wines, let's discuss Raymond Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay 2014.
Raymond Vineyards: The fruit used in this Chardonnay is sourced from estate vineyards in Jameson Canyon & select Napa Valley growers.  The estate vineyards are planted on rolling hills at the southern end of Napa Valley. With warm days and cool nights we maintained ideal acid levels with optimum, bright fruit.
Photo: Raymond Vineyards

Photo: Raymond Vineyards
Napa Valley Reserve Chardonnay bottle
The 2014 vintage of Raymond Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay, comparable to a Burgundy, is made from 100% whole cluster Chardonnay grapes, which were cold fermented in stainless steel. After fermentation, the wine was aged sur lie in 75% French oak (20% new) and 25% stainless steel for 9 months. According Raymond's master female winemaker, Stephanie Putnam, "the blending of barrel aged and stainless-steel aged juice lends greater complexity and roundness to the final wine while stirring the lees adds creaminess to the wine’s mid-palate."  With it's bright gold appearance, we smelled aromas of honeysuckle and stone fruits.  The palate is crisp, with pear, yellow apple, lemon, vanilla and oak. Rich and creamy with 14.5% ABV.  Raymond Vineyards Reserve Chardonnay would pair with fish, creamy soups, pork and other roasted white meats.

#WiningHourChat: Next we tasted the 2014 Raymond Reserve Selection Cabernet Sauvignon.  This was exciting as this is a pre-release. We feel quite privileged!  Now, please share with us-isn't this a "special" vintage?!
Raymond Vineyards: Yes! This is our 40th-Anniversary vintage to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Raymond's first vintage.  Notice it has a touch of the Red Room. We created this label in velvet. This is the first we've ever done, and it is to symbolize the texture, emotion and feeling of this 40th vintage. Do you like the new label?
#WiningHourChat: Absolutely!  It is smooth like velvet, and truly representative of the taste. Everyone loved this one!  Maggie (@Winegal57) mentioned that she "loved the lable and the soft and velvety touch.  It's a beautiful wine." Cara (@CaraMia57) also felt that this was a most "delicious wine."
Photo: Courtesy of Boisset and Raymond Vineyards

Photo: Courtesy of Boisset and Raymond Vineyards
The 2014 Raymond Reserve Selection 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon is a special vintage indeed.  As mentioned, it is decked out in red velvet, as if it just walked out of Raymond's Red Room. The Red Room is the name of Raymond's tasting room, which is also lined in red velvet-a must see for anyone visiting Napa. There is also Raymond's Red Room Salon Privé, for those wanting luxurious private tastings. The Reserve Selection 40th Anniversary Cab is crafted with hand-sorted grapes from the vineyards in Rutherford and St. Helena "to preserve the bright fruit flavors and rich earthy characters of the fruit."   It is a rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Petit Sirah and Malbec that spent 19 months in French oak (30% new). "The wine was bottled unfiltered, contributing greater texture and presence to the mid palate."  Raymond's 2014 Napa Valley Reserve Selection 40th Anniversary Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep, dark ruby and greets with cherry, black plum and rhubarb aromas.  On the palate are evolving flavors of black cherry, black currant and bittersweet cocao. This wine is very smooth, with fine tannins and a persistent finish.  14.5% ABV. Pairing options would be barbeque, steak and other beef dishes...or alone.
Raymond certainly did not hold back for this gorgeous wine's 40th birthday!
Raymond Vineyard's Red Room (Tasting Room)

#WiningHourChat: Raymond Vineyards 2014 Sommelier Selection Cabernet Sauvignon is pretty interesting, and we were happy to taste this as well, as it is not in distribution. Please share some background information about this vintage.  What is the idea behind this wine?
Raymond Vineyards: Our Sommelier Selection Cabernet Sauvignon is crafted by a group of influential sommeliers at the finest restaurants. Here's a great short video about our Somm Selection Wines.
#WiningHourChat: That's great!  Interesting concept.

Somm Select Video by Raymond Vineyards

Raymond Vineyards 2014 Sommelier Selection Cabernet Sauvignon is a varietal that is crafted by 10 influential sommeliers from some of the top restaurants.  On the back label of the bottle, Raymond provides a tiny handbook, as it were, with detailed information and bios of the 10 sommeliers.  This Somm Select Cab is only available on-premise at Raymond Vineyards.  The grapes for this Somm Selection Cabernet Sauvignon are sourced from Napa, Sonoma and Lake Counties and consist of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot, which are aged for 15-16 months in French Oak.  
Back label on Raymond
Sommelier Selection Cabernet Sauvignon
It was interesting to learn about the thought process in selecting the grapes for this production: Napa, for its fruit and tannins, Sonoma, for its structure, balance and acidity and Lake County, for the flavors it yields.  The winemakers describe it as a "full-bodied elegant wine brimming with blackberry, cherry and cassis flavors." We experienced a nose of raspberry and plum and a palate of juicy cranberries, black and red currants and cedar. This 15% ABV wine is loaded with fruit and ripe tannins.  It is versatile and would pair with almost anything.  

There is no question that we hold Raymond Vineyards in very high regard, and that they were awarded Winery of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2012 and the Wine and Culture award in 2015. Raymond wines are crafted with care, quality and style.

What is your experience with the rich and refined wines of Raymond Vineyards?

*In order to use the "organic" label, certification by an organization such as California Certified Organic Farmers or CCOF is needed.  Organic farms or wineries would not use any synthetics, or any artificial fungicides, herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers.  Grapes are grown organically, without the use of sulfites, even though these are naturally occurring to an extent.  Biodynamic farming refers to self-sustaining, self-sufficient farming methods, or methods that are in-tuned with nature. Characteristics of biodynamic farming include the integration of plants, and livestock into the process, by means of composts, herbs, manure, etc.  Anyone can incorporate biodiversity, but to have the "biodynamic" label, certification by Demeter is necessary.  Lastly, sustainable or sustainably farmed focuses on three things: giving back to the environment, economic profitability and minimal use of synthetic materials.  Sustainable farming methods may include organic and/or biodynamic wine-growing or wine-making techniques.

About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST. (For more, see links at the top of this page)

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Taste and Talk: The 'Land of Gold' with Terra d'Oro Winery

Amador County Offers More than Gold--There's Wine too!

Amador County, is in the Mother Lode, or Sierra Nevada region of California.  Also known as Gold Country, Amador County was created in 1854, and was a prime location during the California Gold Rush of the mid 1800's.  As people around the world began flocking to California for gold, this resulted in some becoming wealthy and new road, schools, and towns being built throughout California.  Moreover, at this time, California was admitted as a State in the Union (1850).  Today Amador County is not just known for its historical significance associated with the Gold Rush, it is also a prime location-for WINE!

Terra d'Oro is one such winery in Amador County. Terra d'Oro, known for its Old Vines, operates on 400 acres of estate vines.  The Winery released their first wines in 1973 under the Montevina label, which was the first Amador County winery to produce wine since Prohibition ended (over 150 years ago).  Since then, Terra d'Oro has earned a fantastic reputation for producing several varietals of high quality wines.  

We had the honor and pleasure of having the wonderful Terra d'Oro Winery as our featured guest on #WiningHourChat. We were able to speak with the winery and the winemaker, Chris Leamy, to learn all about their wines and production methods. So, for our weekly wine chat, all of the chat participants were prepared with their own bottle(s) of Terra d'Oro Wines, food and questions.  Once we established that everyone had a glass in hand, or down the palate, our talks commenced with Terra d'Oro. If you missed this conversation on #WiningHourChat, here's a sample of what we discussed, all in a Twitter hour:

#WiningHourChat: Can you tell us a little about Amador County, it's location, soil, etc.?
Terra d'Oro Winery: Amador County is in Northern California, Sierra Nevada Foothills. Amador County is famous for its Zins, which were first brought by early settlers during the Gold Rush.
Winemaker Chris Leamy:  Yes, it's a beautiful country, about an hour east of Sacramento...It's growing. We have adorable Gold Rush towns, cute B&B's, and some great eating!

#WiningHourChat:  Could you share a little about your winery & vineyards, the methods used, etc.
Terra d'Oro Winery: We have mostly decomposed granite soil composition.  Our winery is home to 487 acres of vineyards, with the biggest crop being Zin. We have been open since 1970, originally under the name Montevina.
Winemaker Chris Leamy: We still produce the Montevina label, but officially changed to Terra d'Oro in 2009. All sustainably farmed.

#WiningHourChat: Mmm, we all love Zins! I read that even though you guys produce many other varietals, Amador County is renowned for its Zinfandel, and that Amador County has a high percentage of old Zinfandel vines. Now, you mentioned 'sustainably farmed,' does that mean you use organic methods?
Terra d'Oro Winery: We are completely sustainable and have several blocks that are organically farmed.
Winemaker Chris Leamy: We are always driven to be as green as possible. And that extends into the winery as well!

#WiningHourChat: Winemaker Chris-How did you get started making wine?
Winemaker Chris Leamy: I studied Biology in college, worked in a food lab, then a winery lab, and voila!  I was hooked. Started at TDO in 2000.

#WiningHourChat: Voila!  Now, which wine varietals does Terra d'Oro Winery produce? (In addition to your fabulous Zinfandel.)
Terra d'Oro Winery: We produce over 25 different wines between our two labels, including multiple Zins.  We also make Aglianico, Teroldego, Friesa and Nebbiolo.

#WiningHourChat: What! I can't believe you guys farm all of these typically Italian grape varietals! Awesome news!
Winemaker Chris Leamy: Don't tell them about the secret Negro Amaro, Trebbiano, or Mammalo field! 
#WiningHourChat: Shhh...Oh my! This is awesome news! Love those Italian grapes.

When asked about any other varietals such as white wines produced by Terra d'Oro, Chris mentioned that they also make Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc &Viogner Blend and Moscato.  After entertaining a few more questions about their wines, it was time to Wine!

#WiningHourChat: We tasted a few of Terra d'Oro's wines, but for tonight, we're featuring your Deaver Zinfandel. Please share some info about this old vine zin.
Terra d'Oro Winery: Deaver is special in that it is from an Ancient vineyard planted in 1881 (130+ year old vines). Wines from this vineyard are structured with great aging capability.
Winemaker Chris Leamy: If the history wasn't enough, that field produces grapes with gorgeous acidity. It produces focused, intense Zinfandel.

#WiningHourChat: Let's move on to our next featured varietal, Terra d' Oro's Barbera. Please tell us about this wine and the process.
Terra d'Oro Winery: We've been producing Barbera since 1974. This one is aged in French Oak and 100% Barbera.
Winemaker Chris Leamy: Our Barbera is fermented in stainless with two full weeks on skins. Aged in French, Hungarian, and American oak. Only about 25% new.

#WiningHourChat: I'm really taken by this Barbera! I never actually had one outside of Piedmont, Italy. Impressive.
Winemaker Chris Leamy: Barbera expresses itself beautifully in Amador County.

Here's our tasting experience with their wines:

#WiningHourChat's Terra d'Oro Tasting:

Terra d'Oro Deaver Vineyards Zinfandel 2014 
Deaver Vineyards 130+ Year Old Vine Zinfandel was planted back in 1881, when Italian immigrants brought Zinfandel cuttings to the Sierra Foothills, leading to the production of true 'Old Vine' wines. The vineyard produces "truly remarkable fruit with amazing concentration, character, and Shenandoah spice."  Because these vines are so aged, it leads to limited fruit-not limited taste.  When producing Deaver Vineyards Zinfandel, the limited fruit is hand-picked then crushed. Juice is bled before crushing to get maximum extraction. Next, yeast is added to complete fermentation and the wine is aged 14 months in French and American barrels.

Terra d'Oro Deaver Zinfandel has blackberries, vanilla and allspice on the nose and a palate of jam, chocolate, blackberries and tobacco. Terra d'Oro maintains that the old vines add to the dense complexity of the wine.  No argument here as there are layers of fruit. This 130 year Old Vine Zinfandel is rich, flavorful and sexy.  In's a Zin! Deaver Zinfandel is absolutely "a balance of beauty, power and grace."  14.5% ABV.  

Maggie, @Winegal57, also thoroughly enjoyed the Deaver Zinfandel and marveled at the "lovely garnet color, with dark fruit, clove, spicy blackberry and spicy plum."  

Terra d'Oro suggests, "For a zesty pairing, serve this wine with a roasted rack of lamb or a juicy ribeye steak." Many of those on the chat also paired with a steak.  Cara, @CaraMiaSG paired her Deaver Zin with "a nice spread of cheese, peppers and jam."  That works too!

Terra d'Oro Barbera 2014
As mentioned, we were only familiar with Italian Barbera from Piedmont, Italy.  Imagine our delight in tasting and learning about this one from Amador!  It was interesting to learn that Barbera is the sixth most planted red grape in California. Terra d'Oro says, "these dark-skinned Barbera grapes thrive, developing lively fruit flavors, refreshing acidity, and a stunning ruby red color."

Terra d'Oro Barbera is fermented in stainless steel for two weeks to extract the maximum color and flavor. It is then aged in small French and Hungarian oak barrels for 15 months, which "integrates toasty oak aromas and flavors with the rich, juicy fruit." We were quite pleased with Terra d'Oro's Barbera and noticed the differences between Italian Barbera and this Californian Barbera.  Whereas the Italian version tends to be a little lighter, this one is rich and loaded with fruit flavors. We smelled cherry aromas and tasted jammy blackberries, tart blueberries and licorice on the palate.  Terra d'Oro Barbera is medium-bodied, with a refreshing acidity that makes you take notice. This versatile Barbera wine pairs with truffle dishes, mushroom pizza, roast pork or a bolognese.  13.5% ABV.

Terra d'Oro is certainly a treasure in the 'Land of Gold.'  We had a great time tasting their wines, having them as our guest and learning about their winery and region.

If ever in Amador County, be sure to stop by Terra d'Oro Winery.  Their wines are also available in stores, online and through their wine club.

About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Holiday Wine Review: Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé

Drink this Rosé for the Holidays...or anytime!

Estandon Rosé 2016The holidays are a time to enjoy family, friends, good food and good wine.  It is always nice to bring a crowd-pleasing wine to a party or provide the ideal wine and food pairing when you host.  So, what do you bring?  Red? White? Bubbly?  How about a rosé?

Despite the fact that rosé is believed to be the quintessential summer drink, it also makes for a good sip throughout the year and during the holidays.  Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé is one worthy of consideration.

The Cotes De Provence region, located in Southeast France, is home to huge wine-growing region. There are three major AOC designations, with Côtes de Provence being the largest.  Provence produces wines from a large variety of grapes, including those with Italian, Spanish and Greek origin. Nevertheless, the region is predominantly known for it's rosé wines.  Estandon, regards their region as a "rich and diverse appellation, which gives our vineyards a great diversity of terroirs, whether located by the sea, on the vast plains of the Centre Var or on the slopes further inland. These terroirs, so rich in their differences, impart a typical character to the wines." Here's the rosé we tasted:
Image result for estandon winery
Estandon France
The Wining Hour Review: Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé
Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé is made up of percentages or cépages of several varietals: Cinsault, Grenache , Rolle and Syrah.  The grapes are harvested from the best terroirs of the Côtes de Provence A.O.C., including the schist and loam soils in the Maures mountains, the hilltop slopes near Flayosc, the clay-limestone slopes of the commune of Le Thoronet and the variegated sandstone soil of the Cannet des Maures commune.  The grapes used in Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé are mainly harvested by machine and underwent a very short maceration on the skins before pressing. Malolactic fermentation is prevented, and vinification, or fermentation takes place traditionally in temperature-controlled stainless steel barrels.

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Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé is pale pink and greets with aromas of peach, pear and melon.  The nose on this wine prepares the palate for a dry, fruity blend of white peach, melon and strawberry. Fresh, light, crisp, refreshing and well-balanced, with perfect acidity.  13% ABV.

Estandon Côtes de Provence Rosé is an easy-drinking wine, and would be great as an aperitif, or to accompany a variety of holiday dishes, from appetizers and small plates to the main course.  It would certainly pair nicely with turkey, chicken, salads, pasta, crabcakes, oysters, clams, a seafood medley and Mediterranean cuisine.

Estandon is certainly an age-worthy rosé, and definitely one to be shared around the holidays or any time.

About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)
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